Showing posts with label Liberal Party of Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liberal Party of Australia. Show all posts

Thursday, 16 May 2019

First global assessment of the ecological health of the world's "wild" rivers has found only about one third of the longest rivers are still free-flowing


As the Queensland flood waters finally make it down the Dimantina and Georgina rivers and Cooper's Creek and spread out over the Eyre Basin and into Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, it is well to remember three things.

The first is that; The Lake Eyre Basin is one of the largest and most pristine desert river systems on the planet, supporting 60,000 people and a wealth of wildlife.

The second is the fact that the Morrison Government has a stated policy to dam and divert more water from Australia's river systems if it is re-elected. 

The third is that water sustainability into the future is dependent on wild rivers running free.

ABC Radio,“RN”, 9 May 2019:

The first global assessment of the ecological health of the world's "wild" rivers has found only about one third of the longest rivers are still free-flowing.

The report warns the disruption is harming ecosystems, with 3,700 new large dams either under construction, or planned.


Nature, 8 May 2019:

Gill,Gunter et al, (2019) Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers

ABSTRACT

Free-flowing rivers (FFRs) support diverse, complex and dynamic ecosystems globally, providing important societal and economic services. Infrastructure development threatens the ecosystem processes, biodiversity and services that these rivers support. Here we assess the connectivity status of 12 million kilometres of rivers globally and identify those that remain free-flowing in their entire length. Only 37 per cent of rivers longer than 1,000 kilometres remain free-flowing over their entire length and 23 per cent flow uninterrupted to the ocean. Very long FFRs are largely restricted to remote regions of the Arctic and of the Amazon and Congo basins. In densely populated areas only few very long rivers remain free-flowing, such as the Irrawaddy and Salween. Dams and reservoirs and their up- and downstream propagation of fragmentation and flow regulation are the leading contributors to the loss of river connectivity. By applying a new method to quantify riverine connectivity and map FFRs, we provide a foundation for concerted global and national strategies to maintain or restore them.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Australia cannot afford a third term Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government


The continuous prevarication and callous disregard for any policy which might provide a sustainable future for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren makes the Liberal and National political parties a danger to us all.........

The Guardian, 9 May 2019:

Scott Morrison’s office has declined to say what legislation he was referring to when he said he had “been taking action” on a landmark UN report about the extinction of a million different species.

On Monday, the UN released a comprehensive, multi-year report that revealed human society was under threat from the unprecedented extinction of the Earth’s animals and plants. The agriculture minister, David Littleproud, said the report “scared him”, during a debate on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Morrison responded to the report saying: “We already introduced and passed legislation through the Senate actually dealing with that very issue in the last week of the parliament. We’ve been taking action on that.”

However, no legislation regarding animal conservation or the environment passed in the last week of parliament.

When asked what the legislation was, the prime minister’s office did not reply. The office of the environment minister, Melissa Price, also did not respond when asked what legislation Morrison was referring to.

The only legislation regarding animals that passed within the last few months is the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017, which set new regulations on testing cosmetics on animals.

However, it was passed by both houses on 18 February – not in the last week of parliament, which was in April.

Neither the prime minister nor the environment minister responded to clarify if this was the bill Morrison was referring to, or whether he made an error.

Tim Beshara, the federal policy director of the Wilderness Society, said Morrison appeared to have “alluded to a bill that doesn’t exist”.

 “The last bill to pass the Senate from the environment portfolio was about changing the board structure of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2018,” he said.
“It looks like the prime minister of Australia is so desperate to move the debate off the environment as an issue that he has alluded to a bill that doesn’t exist so that journalists would stop asking questions about it.”…..

On Wednesday, Morrison also railed against the expansion of environmental regulations, calling them “green tape”.


“[Labor] want to hypercharge an environment protection authority which will basically interfere and seek to slow down and prevent projects all around the country,” he said.

Beshara said the timing of this with the mass extinction report showed “excellent comedic timing”.

“What he is calling ‘green tape’, most Australians would call basic environmental protections,” he said. “I don’t expect the prime minister to know their numbats from their bandicoots, but I do expect them to know what bills their government has passed, and to respond to a globally significant UN report like this with the seriousness it deserves.”

The Guardian, 9 May 2019:

Most clearing of Australian habitat relied on by threatened species is concentrated in just 12 federal electorates, nine of which are held by the Coalition, an analysis has found.

University of Queensland scientists found more than 90% of the threatened species habitat lost since the turn of the century has been in six electorates in Queensland, two each in NSW and Western Australia and one in Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Most of the land-clearing in Queensland has been to create pasture.

The study, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, was released following a United Nations global assessment that found biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with one million species at risk of extinction. The report warns the decline in native life could have implications for human populations across the globe.

Threatened species habitat loss, by federal electorates
Showing the percentage of habitat loss used by threatened species

Source: ACF





The research found the greatest loss of threatened species habitat had been in the agriculture minister David Littleproud’s electorate of Maranoa, in southern Queensland. Nearly two million hectares, or 43%, has been cleared since 2000, when the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act was introduced. Among the 85 threatened species affected are the koala, the greater bilby, the black-throated finch and the long-nosed potoroo.

Maranoa is followed on the list by Kennedy, home to the maverick independent Bob Katter, the Liberal Rick Wilson’s Western Australian seat of O’Connor and Capricornia, a marginal electorate held by the LNP’s Michelle Landry.

The environment minister Melissa Price’s vast electorate of Durack, which covers nearly two-thirds of Western Australia, is seventh, with more than 300,000 hectares lost.

Other seats on the list are Flynn, Parkes, Leichhardt, Lingiari, Farrer, Dawson and Lyons.

James Watson, the director of the university’s centre for biodiversity and conservation science, said Australia was sleep-walking through a worsening extinction crisis.

“These results show the laws we have to protect our wonderful natural heritage are not working and that is a significant failure of government,” he said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s nature policy analyst, James Trezise, said the next Australian government must invest in the recovery of threatened species and introduce strong environment laws overseen by an independent national regulator if it was serious about reversing the decline in native wildlife…..

Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world over the past 200 years. It is considered one of 17 “megadiverse” countries, which share just 10% of global land but 70% of biological diversity. A green group study found funding to the national environment budget has been reduced by a third since the Coalition was elected.

Habitat loss on the NSW North Coast

Richmond electorate held by Labor MP Justine Elliot - 710 ha loss
Page electorate held by Nats MP Kevin Hogan - 16,725 ha loss
Cowper electorate held by Nats MP Luke Hartsuyker until April 2019 - 5,159 ha loss
Lyne electorate held by Nats MP David Gillespie - 6,181 ha loss

Monday, 13 May 2019

This move by Murdoch’s News Corp has Scott Morrison’s political paw prints all over it



Standing in the shadows pulling the strings of those willing to make spurious or defamatory claims about a political opponent worked so well for the interim Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison in the past that he appears to be doing it again.

Last time the efforts of his political puppets cost News Corp tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs and like last time The Daily Telegraph is the Liberals vehicle of choice.

The smear campaign revealed……..

The Saturday Paper, 11 May 2019, excerpt:

Midweek, Murdoch’s Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph went for broke. On page one, it ran a story under the headline “Mother of invention”, and set out to destroy what it said was hailed as Shorten’s “election-winning moment”. It accused him of omitting the fact his mother went on to enjoy an illustrious career as a barrister. The paper said he had failed to disclose that his mother graduated law later in life “and [practised] at the bar for six years”. It said the Labor chief had only told half the family story. If that were the case, however, he left out the half that gives even more potency to his mother’s legacy.

One senior Liberal wondered who was the genius on their side who thought it a good idea to prompt the Telegraph’s ill-considered and cockamamie attack. Gallery journalists confirm the “Libs were shopping the story around on Tuesday”. 
Melbourne’s Herald Sun, unlike its Brisbane stablemate, The Courier-Mail, refused to take it. Scott Morrison played the innocent bystander. He told reporters it was a “very upsetting story” and he can understand that Shorten would have been “very hurt by it”. That was an understatement. The opposition leader was furious.

For 10 minutes during a half-hour press conference on Wednesday, Shorten spoke of his mother’s achievements. Fighting back tears, he told of a woman in her 50s with grey hair, who, even though she topped her law school, could not get a law firm to take her on for articles. When she eventually got to the bar, she struggled for briefs – “she got about nine briefs in her time”. Far from fulfilling her dream, as the Murdoch hatchet job claimed, she went back to education. The partisan attack on the Labor leader opened the way for him to hit back at one of the Liberals’ biggest vulnerabilities: their failure to promote more women through their parliamentary ranks. Their most high-profile and credible woman, Julie Bishop, has quit. She won’t be at the party’s Mother’s Day launch on Sunday to support Morrison, the man who blocked her run for the leadership. Shorten says the experience of his mother – “the smartest woman I’ve ever known” – is why he believes in the equal treatment of women.

News Corp sources say the Tele has another story on their news file to throw at Shorten. It is highly defamatory and legally dubious. The desperation that led to the attack on Shorten and his mother’s memory may give them pause to think about running it. As one Labor campaign worker says, “It’s difficult to know where the government ends and News Corp begins.” [my yellow highlighting]

Phase Two of the smear campaign.......

A scurrilous, below-the-radar whispering campaign has broken through onto social media.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Liberal Party election campaign strategy is a bit of a joke


The Liberal Party of Australia as part of its official election campaign uses a forty-two year-old US movie franchise to market its leader Scott Morrison on social media - by crudely photshopping his middle-aged, plump jowled face onto the svelte body of a then 26 year-old actor.





Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Liberal & Nationals answer to all the water policy mistakes they have made in the past. Full speed ahead to make some more!



In 2006 the Howard Coalition Government’s then Minister for Water Malcolm Bligh Turnbull attempted an under-the-radar progression of a proposal to dam and divert water from the Clarence River system into the Murray Darling Basin. He was sprung and it lost his government the seat of Page in 2007.

When Tony Abbott was prime minister he was all gung-ho for damming east coast rivers, but was by then wary of the mood of Clarence Valley communities.

Despite a certain coolness on Tony Abbott’s part and Turnbull's silence once he followed Abbott as prime minister, the wannabee water raiders within the Basin have never given up on the idea of destroying the Clarence River in order to continue lucrative water trading for profit and inappropriate levels of farm irrigation in the Basin.

This is a mockup of what these raiders would like to see along the Clarence River. 

North Coast Voices, 1 March 2013
On 30 April 2019 Scott Morrison and Co announced the proposed creation of the National Water Grid which in effect informs communities in the Northern Rivers region that our wishes, being “political” because we are not their handpicked ‘experts’, will be ignored when it comes to proposed large-scale water diversion projects including dams if they are re-elected on 18 May 2019.

The Daily Examiner, 4 May 2019, p.10:

“Just add water” is the Nationals’ answer to “unleashing the potential” of regional Australia but it would come at a cost to areas flush with the precious resource.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on Tuesday at the National Press Club that a returned Coalition government would establish an authority, the National Water Grid, to manage water policy and infrastructure.

“We know the key to unlocking the potential of regional Australia is simple – just add water,” he said.

The announcement of the National Water Grid has sparked fears the Clarence and Nymboida rivers may be dammed to irrigate drought-stricken areas of the country – a prospect the Clarence Valley community has faced before.

The Nationals’ Page MP, Kevin Hogan, said there were “no plans to dam the Clarence River”.

“There are proposals in other drought-affected areas of the country,” he said…..

The planned National Water Grid would ensure water infrastructure would be based on the best available science, “not on political agendas”, Mr McCormack said.

It would “provide the pipeline of all established, current and future water infrastructure projects and then identify the missing links”.

Mr McCormack said dams were the answer to “create jobs”, “back agriculture and back farmers”.

“While we are being bold and building big, we are often stopped at the first hurdle when it comes to short-sighted state governments that choose politics over practicality, and indeed science,” he said…..

Monday, 6 May 2019

Preferences show the quality of the politiciian


Kevin Hogan rising from his seat among Coalition MPs to greet his prime minister

Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan has never voted against Coalition policy positions or the Abbott-Turnbull Morrison Government's proposed motions and bills being considered by the House of Representatives.

When the media coverage were going badly against the newly installed Morrison Coalition Government he took fright and declared he was that grotesque chimera - an "Independent  National".

As a so-called "Independent National" Hogan is still a member of the National Party of Australia, still attends Nationals partyroom meeting, remains the Nationals Whip in the House of Representatives and also remains the Morrison Government's Deputy Speaker and never - I repeat never - votes against Coalition policy positions or the Morrison Government's proposed motions and bills.

Holding this unofficial title of convenience also means that Hogan rarely if ever sits on the cross benches with the genuine Independents.

Hogan's how-to-vote cards mailled out during this federal election campaign also reflect the fact that he remains a National Party member of parliament with allegiance to Prime Minister Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister McCormack.

His voting preferences for the House of Representatives ballot are:

1. Kevin Hogan - National Party of Australia
2. John Damien Mudge - United Australia Party (UAP) - party leader Clive Palmer
3. Peter Walker - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
4. Fiona Leviny - former Nationals member and current Independent
5. Alison Waters - Animal Justice Party
6. Dan Reid - The Australian Greens
7. Patrick Deegan - Australian Labor Party (ALP)

Hogan's voting preferences for the Senate ballot are:

1. Liberal & Nationals, party leaders Scott Morrison & Michael McCormack
2. Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
3. United Australia Party (UAP), party leader Clive Palmer
4. Liberal Democratic Party, acting federal party leader Andrew Cooper replacing David Leyonhjelm
5. Australian Conservatives, party leader Corey Bernardi
6. The Small Business Party, party leader Angela Vithoulkas

So there you have it. Kevin Hogan favours hard right candidates similar to himself, is willing to continue supporting climate change denialists, as well as politicians and wannabee politicians who wish to foist their personal religious beliefs on the Australian population and/or wish to suppress ordinary workers wages, and is publicly throwing his support behind one particular party leader who became infamous by stealing wages owed to his employees after sacking them, then leaving taxpayers footing the bill for the economic destruction he caused.

The only reason Hogan is not preferencing racist candidates representing Pauline Hanson's One Nation and Fraser Anning's Conservative Nationals Party (as his prime minister is doing) is that these parties are not fielding candidates in the Page electorate.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

These days it is hard to tell the Liberal Party and One Nation apart


In its frantic pursuit of every right wing vote it can muster, the Liberal Party of Australia has chosen candidates from among the type of anti-science, chauvinistic, racist, homophobic bigots usually found swimming in One Nation's pool.....


@vanbadham

In addition to the aforementioned Liberal candidates for Issacs, Wills and Paterson.....

Anti-feminist former law professor and current Liberal candidate in the Curtain electorate Celia Hammond believes anthropomorphic global warming is minimal at best.

Liberal candidate in Chisholm electorate Lucy Liu stated Chinese people come to Australia because they want ... good things for their next generation, not to be destroyed – they used the word destroyed – by these sort of concepts, of same-sex, transgender and inter-gender, cross gender, and all of this rubbish as well as conducting a WeChat campaign against Victoria’s Safe Schools policy ahead of the 2016 election, when she was the head of the Liberal Party’s Victorian community engagement committee.

Then there is the Liberal candidate for the Lyons electorate Jessica Whelan came out of the gates fighting and who apparently intended to refer the anti-Muslim tweet she allegedly posted on her own account to the Australian Federal Police in the hope of neutralising any further questions from the media - claiming her account was 'hacked'However, further tweets emerged and the Liberal Party is no longer fielding her as their candidate.

So the count is now four Liberal Party candidates disendorsed just thirteen days out from the federal election.

NOTE: In April 2019 the Liberal Party also had to acknowledge three of their preselected candidates in Victoria pulled out of the election because of section 44, the constitutional career killer the Australian Electoral Commission has specifically warned candidates about this year.

UPDATE

By 9 May 2019 the Liberal candidate in Scullin electorate Gurpal Singh was asked to resign by party due to homophobic and sexist social media comments.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Morrison Government signed off on a controversial uranium mine one day before calling the federal election


ABC News, 26 April 2019:

The Morrison Government signed off on a controversial uranium mine one day before calling the federal election, and did not publicly announce the move until the environment department uploaded the approval document the day before Anzac Day.

The Yeelirrie Uranium mine, located 500 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, requires both federal and state approval.

The state approval of the proposed mine is still being fought in the state's Supreme Court by members of the Tjiwarl traditional owners.

In 2016, the West Australian Environment Protection Agency advised the mine not be approved, concluding it posed too great a risk of extinction to some native animals.

The former Liberal Barnett government controversially approved the mine in 2017, just weeks before it lost the West Australian election.

Canadian company Cameco, the world's largest uranium producer, is seeking to develop the uranium mine, which would cover an area 9km long and 1.5km wide.

It would involve the clearing of up to 2,422 hectares of native vegetation.

It is also approved to cause groundwater levels to drop by 50cm, and they would not completely recover for 200 years, according to Cameco's environmental reports.

A spokesperson for Environment Minister Melissa Price said the approval was subject to 32 strict conditions to avoid and mitigate potential environmental impacts.

Traditional owner of the area, Tjiwarl woman Vicky Abdullah, said she was surprised by the announcement, and was hoping for the project to be rejected.

"It's a very precious place for all of us. For me and my two aunties, who have been walking on country," she said.



Mine approval a controversial move ahead of caretaker mode
Simon Williamson, General Manager of Cameco Australia, told the ABC he was pleased Ms Price had approved the mine before calling the election.

"Yeah, that's likely to raise questions about rushed decision and all that stuff, but the state [government] made their decision in January 2017," he said.

"The timing was such that all of [the assessment] was completed to allow her to sign off before the election. I think it's quite appropriate and I think the minster would want to sign off on projects on her plate before she goes to an election……

Dave Sweeney, an anti-nuclear campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation said the timing suggested the decision was political.

"We need decisions that are based on evidence and the national interest, not a company's interest or not a particular senator's or a particular government's interest," he said.

"This reeks of political interference rather than a legal consideration or due process."

The approval is one of several controversial moves the Government made before entering caretaker mode, where such decisions would be impossible, including approving Adani's two groundwater management plans for it's proposed Carmichael coal mine.....

The Guardian, 27 April 2019:

A multinational uranium miner persuaded the federal government to drop a requirement forcing it to show that a mine in outback Western Australia would not make any species extinct before it could go ahead.

Canadian-based Cameco argued in November 2017 the condition proposed by the government for the Yeelirrie uranium mine, in goldfields north of Kalgoorlie, would be too difficult to meet.

The mine was approved on 10 April, the day before the federal election was called, with a different set of conditions relating to protecting species.

Environmental groups say the approval was politically timed and at odds with a 2016 recommendation by the WA Environmental Protection Authoritythat the mine be blocked due to the risk to about 140 subterranean stygofauna and troglofauna species – tiny animals that live in groundwater and air pockets above the water table.

A Cameco presentation to the department, released to the Greens through Senate estimates, shows the government proposed approving the mine with a condition the company must first demonstrate that no species would be made extinct during the works.

Cameco Australia said this did not recognise “inherent difficulties associated with sampling for and describing species”, including the inadequacy of techniques to sample microscopic species that live underground and challenges in determining whether animals were of the same species. It said the condition was “not realistic and unlikely to be achieved – ever”.

The condition did not appear in the final approval signed by the environment minister, Melissa Price, which was made public after being posted on the environment department’s website on 24 April…..

Monday, 29 April 2019

Scott Morrison and News Corp need fact checking - again!


The Australian Labor Party released its dividend imputation policy in 2018 and began to come under sustained political attack by the Morrison Government and News Corp with claims that there was a $10 billion dollar hole in Labor’s costing of its policy.

On 18 June 2018 the Parliamentary Budget Office issued a media release:

Imputation credits policy costing

Earlier today, comments have been made about the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimates of the gains to revenue that may flow from the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP’s) policy to make imputation credits non-refundable.

“The PBO brings our best professional judgement to the independent policy costing advice we provide.  We have access to the same data and economic parameters as The Treasury and draw upon similar information in forming our judgements,” Parliamentary Budget Officer Jenny Wilkinson stated today.

“We stand behind the PBO estimates that have been published by the ALP in relation to this policy, noting that all policy costings, no matter who they are prepared by, are subject to uncertainty.”  In its advice, the PBO is explicit about the judgements and uncertainties associated with individual policy costings.

The PBO confirms that it always takes into account current and future policy commitments, as well as behavioural changes, in its policy costings.  In this case, as outlined at the recent Senate Estimates hearings, these included the superannuation changes announced in the 2016–17 Budget and the scheduled company tax cuts.  In addition, the PBO explicitly assumed that there would be significant behavioural changes that would flow from this policy, particularly for trustees of self-managed superannuation funds. 

The PBO was established as an independent institution in 2012 with broad support from the Parliament.  A key rationale for the formation of the PBO was to develop a more level playing field, by providing independent and unbiased advice to all parliamentarians about the estimated fiscal cost of policy proposals.  The purpose of establishing the PBO was to improve the public’s understanding of, and confidence in, policy costings and enable policy debates to focus on the merits of alternative policy proposals. 

Ten months later on 25 April 2019 News Corp’s The Daily Examiner ran an article on page 8 concerning Labor’s dividend imputation policy which stated:

The independent Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated Labor’s plan would save $7 billion less over a decade than the party expects and that it would affect 840,000 individuals, 210,000 self-managed super funds (SMSFs) plus some bigger funds.

Now the Parliamentary Budget Office publishes the requests for information it receives, including requests for policy implications and costings, however there appears to be no new request for information and costings on Labor’s dividend imputation policy on its website.

Morrison & Co have been caught out misrepresenting the source of their costings before and even flat out lying on occasion, so one has to suspect the veracity of their latest attack on this particular policy.

It's just as likely costings and other figures were done on the back of an envelope by Morrison or Frydenberg.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

The claims by Coalition candidates grow even more absurd


Voters have been treated to the absurd spectacle of the Liberal Prime Minister and his ministers accusing Labor of wanting to steal tradies utesof wanting to end weekends as well as lying about how quickly electic cars could be charged (in fact in Australia right now an EV can be charged in 8 minutes by JET Charge) and of conspiring with the Greens to introduce death taxes.

Now we have a Queensland Llberal-Nationals candidate, Gerard Rennick, stating that helping families send three-year-olds to pre-school is a Labor Party conspiracy to strengthen government control over child raising.

Then we had this from the Liberal-Nationals arch conspirator.....

ABC News, 23 April 2019:

The weather bureau has been tampering with temperature data in order to "perpetuate global warming hysteria", according to an under-fire Coalition candidate.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has strongly rejected the conspiracy theory being peddled by Queensland Senate hopeful Gerard Rennick.

Shades of that hard right lobby group, the Institute of Public Affairs!

What will be the next desperate, far-fetched claim?

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The Trouble With Water: 'ghost' water begins to haunt the Liberal-Nationals election campaign


It is well understood and agreed that water in the Murray-Darling Basin has been overallocated and extracted at rates that are unsustainable.” [The Australia Institute, February 2018]


"Kia Ora" reportedly totals 18,841 hectares and has water entitlements of 36,705 megalitres, while "Clyde" is said to total 18,743 hectares with water entitlements of 30,289 megalitres.

EAA also appears to hold Queensland water licences which allows it to harvest overland flows/flood waters from both properties.

Questions have arisen with regard to the sale of some of this water.......

At various times prior to entering federal parliament in September 2013 Liberal MP for Hume and Australian Minister for Energy Angus Taylor was reportedly a co-founder and director of Eastern Australia Irrigation, a director of and company secretary for Eastern Australia Agriculture and was also a paid consultant for EAA.

The Minister for Energy Angus Taylor, former deputy-prime minister and federal agriculture and water resources minister, the current National Party MP for New England Barnaby Joyce, and the federal Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources have all issued statements taking issue with concerns being expressed over this particular water sale and denying any wrong doing. Both ministers have threatened legal action for defamation.

The Queensland Government denies being party to this water sale.

The Morrison Government is now facing calls for an inquiry into the Murray-Darling plan water contracts signed off by former minister Joyce.

BACKGROUND

Ghost Water – licences for unreliable/unverifiable amounts of temporary water sold to government for use as environmental flow water.

Overland flow is “water that runs across the land after rainfall, either before it enters a watercourse, after it leaves a watercourse as floodwater, or after it rises to the surface naturally from underground…..You can take overland flow for any purpose unless there is a moratorium notice or a water plan that limits what can be taken.”  [Qld Government, Business Queensland. January 2019]

Applications can be made for a water licence for the capture of overland flow water.

A water licence is an entitlement to take water which is attached to land therefore, unlike a water allocation, it is not an asset in its own right. Water licences cannot normally be sold independent of land unless there are management rules in place which allow permanent transfers (relocations) to occur…..The relocation of a water licence enables a licensee to transfer ownership of the entitlement, permanently moving the licence from the land to which it is attached, to another parcel of land within the confines of the rules. This process differs from permanent water allocation trading whereby water allocations are traded independently of land titles and have their own registrable title (i.e. water can be held by someone who does not own land). [Qld Government, Business Queensland. February 2019]

At the time of the water sales EAA has 7 harvesting licences, of which 4 were for water extraction from the Balonne and Narran rivers, 2 were for collection of overland flow waters and 1 was for irrigation water draw on the Beardmore Dam.

Unsolicited offer by EAA to sell overflow water at 
https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22publications%2Ftabledpapers%2F59682649-2fa2-43b1-955f-ae16caecef45%22.

Austender records of three EAA water sales to the Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources - the first by transparent open tender and the remaining to by non-transparent limited tender:




At the time of the first water sale (1,980ML at est. $2,175 per megalitre) Barnaby Joyce was an elected senator on the Opposition benchs and Labor's Tony Burke was federal water minister, at the time of the second and third sales (totalling 27,960ML at $2,745 per megalitre) Joyce was the Australian Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. 

The first sale under the Labour Government was a result of an open competitive tender, the second and third sales were by unadvertised limited tender which excluded a competitive tender process.

NOTE: In 2008 it appears that EAA sold 10,433ML from its water storage to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission for an unknown amount.

The Australia Institute, March 2018, "That's not how you haggle....Commonwealth water purchasing in the Condamine Balonne", excerpt:

EAAs original asking price was $2,200 per megalitre. DAWR displayed Pythonesque haggling skills and paid a final price of $2,745 per megalitre. DAWR paid 25% more per megalitre than originally requested by EAA, 139% higher than the Commonwealth had previously paid for the same type of licence and 85% higher than the average price for a more reliable type of water licence. The megalitre price was inflated because it included the cost of a storage that the vendor originally offered to transfer to the Commonwealth, but that offer was later withdrawn, without adjusting the price. The storage was used as a justification of the sale, but not as a condition of the sale.

The water purchased was for Over Land Flow (OLF) licences, which cannot be traded between irrigators, because they are attached to land. They have no legal status or any recognition at a location other than where they were originally purchased. That is, there appears to be no legal basis for the Commonwealth to ensure it gets to the places it is intended to be used.

 Austaxpolicy, 28 September 2018, excerpt:

First, tax havens siphon taxable profits away from jurisdictions like Australia. This means either increasing the tax burden on individuals and businesses, taking on more debt, or cutting social services.

These shenanigans are not always illegal. But what is legal is not always moral or economically sound. Australia’s fiscal foundations are threatened by the erosion of the tax base by tricky tax tactics.

Aggressive tax planning can erode public confidence in the tax system itself. After all, one reason most of us pay the taxes we owe is that we believe we live in a society where our fellow citizens do the same.

A fascinating new dataset released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics helps shed light on this problem. Across multinational firms operating in Australia, the bureau reports their operating profit and their taxable profit. What is unique about these data is that they are reported for firms with majority owners in different countries. So it is possible to compare across countries, and ask the question: which nation’s firms have the biggest gap between operating profits and taxable profits?

For the typical Australian firm, the gap between operating profits and taxable profits is 30 percent. The figure is pretty similar for multinationals whose owners reside in the United States (28.4 percent), United Kingdom (26.6 percent) and Japan (28.5 percent).

But for some nations, it’s a different story. If you’re a Bermuda-owned multinational operating in Australia, then on average the gap between operating profit and taxable profit is 88 percent. If you’re a British Virgin Islands owned multinational, the reduction is 92 percent.[3]

So if you start with ten dollars of operating profit, then Australian firms report about seven dollars of taxable profits. The same is true for American, British and Japanese-based multinationals – ten dollars of operating profit produces seven dollars of taxable profit.

But for firms based in Bermuda or the Virgin Islands, and operating in Australia, ten dollars of operating profit produces just one dollar of taxable profit. That’s a startling difference……..

Second, tax havens are the hiding ground..... 

Gabriel Zucman, an economist at University of California, Berkley, estimates that around four-fifths of money in offshore bank accounts is there in breach of other countries’ tax laws.[4] .......

A recent study in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution found there are even egregious environmental vandals there too. Following the Panama Papers, the study found seventy percent of fishing vessels implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated catches had been registered in Belize, Panama, or other tax havens at some point. [5]

Third, tax havens increase inequality. Offshore wealth held by Australians in tax havens was approximately 6 per cent of GDP, according to Zucman’s work in 2013. In today’s prices, that would mean over $100 billion in assets held offshore by wealthy Australians. [6]..........

Cayman Islands corporate tax rates appears to be zero.


Michaelwest.com.au, 21 April 2019:


During December 2016, the Tax Office required Eastern Australia Agriculture to enter into a Settlement Deed to reduce the interest charged by EAI on convertible notes issued by EAA.

The interest charges were required to be reduced from June 2011 when Taylor was still a director of EAI. The total amount of excessive interest charges was $14 million.


This from EAA’s 2016 annual report:


“Forgiveness of interest expense – parent entity


“Following a review by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the company entered into a Settlement Deed with the ATO on 9 December 2016 and the parent entity agreed to reduce the interest rate on the convertible note from 12 per cent to an average interest rate of 7.97 per cent effective from 29 June 2011, resulting in a forgiveness of interest expense accrued in 2016 and prior years."

The higher the interest rate charged by the parent, the more money flows from Australia to the Caribbean. In the parlance of the tax fraternity, this practice of charging excessive interest rates, in order to maximise the interest payments out of Australia to a tax haven, is called “debt-loading”.

By 2016, Angus Taylor was no longer a director of EAI. He had stepped down from the board of the Cayman Islands company in 2013, the year he entered Parliament. He was a director however when the financing arrangement was established.

London Stock Exchange, EF Realisation Company Limited (EFR) Annual Financial Report, released 22 January 2018, excerpt:

Compulsory Redemption Mechanism

EF Realisation monetised various portfolio assets between February and August 2017 which, in aggregate,  comprised approximately 24% of the NAV as at 30 September 2017. The total net proceeds raised were approximately £4.36 million, made up of £4.26 million in realised proceeds (including £0.1 million from a corporate action involving the Company's holding in Energy Future Holdings) and £0.1 million of investment income (net of expenses). The Company realised its investment in Menhaden Capital plc in February 2017 which raised £1.2 million, equal to 2.3p per Ordinary Share. EF Realisation sold a bond holding in Integradoro de Servicios Petroleros Oro Negro SAPI de CV ("Oro Negro") which raised approximately £0.5m, and it received approximately £2.5 million from Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited which had sold certain of its water entitlements to the Australian Government and distributed a majority of the proceeds to its shareholders, including EF Realisation. On 4 September 2017, the Company announced its intention to implement the Company's first capital distribution, returning £3.0 million to Shareholders of the approximately £4.36 million in total net proceeds; the balance of the net proceeds from asset realisations was retained for working capital purposes…..
All the other investments in EF Realisation are unlisted and valued by the Directors at their estimated realisation values and, with one exception, changes in these valuations have been small. The exception is an upgrade to the valuation of the Company's minority shareholding in Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited following that company's sale of water rights to the Australian Government authorities in August 2017 and the expectations for the amount of proceeds that can now be realised from the sale of its farms…..

Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited ("EAI") is an Australian based company which owns and operates two farms in Queensland, whose main crop is cotton, along with various water extraction rights from the Murray Darling River Basin. During the summer of 2017, Australian Government authorities approached EAI with an offer to acquire some of its water entitlements. EAI was able to negotiate the price for the water entitlements to the highest level ever paid, and in August 2017 it completed the largest ever sale of water entitlements in the Murray Darling River Basin. EF Realisation owns 9.6% of EAI's shares and, along with other holders, supported the sale of the water rights. EAI used the majority of the sale proceeds to return capital to its shareholders, and passed £2.5 million to EF Realisation. This represented a gain on that part of the EAI holding of £0.34 million or 16.0%. We comment below on the plans to dispose of EAI's farms……

EAI was in the process of selling its farms prior to the sale of water rights. Proceeds received for the sale of water rights were attractive compared to the offers received in the farm sale process so the farm sale process was suspended in order to complete negotiations with the Australian Government authorities over the sale of water rights.  EAI has now resumed the farm sale process with the intention of using sale proceeds to repay debt and redeem its shares. Having sold some of the water rights, the effective size of the irrigable land that can be used for cotton farming has been reduced by approximately one-third and it is expected that this, and the decision to sell the farms separately rather than as a package as last summer, will make the farms attractive to a broader range of potential buyers. Cotton prices are supported by low crop harvests in cotton growing regions outside Australia and, at the time of writing, local rainfall on EAI's farms has prevented a return of drought conditions. However, until binding bids are received for the farms, the timing for EF Realisation to redeem or sell its shareholding in EAI and the proceeds from such a redemption or sale are uncertain.

EF Realisation carries its remaining investment in EAI at a conservative estimate of the proceeds that would be received assuming EAI's farms are sold and its shares are redeemed. In particular, the implied valuation of the farms is less than the value of the farms used to secure EAI's loan from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, a valuation point that has been a floor for proceeds in farm sales. [my yellow highlighting]

In the 2012-13 financial year Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Limited made a political donation of $20,000 to the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW) and on 29 August 2013 the company made a second political donation of $35,000.

After the September 2013 federal election Barnaby Joyce became the Minister for Agriculture and in September 2015 Water Resources was added to his ministerial portfolio.