Showing posts with label ethics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ethics. Show all posts

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Quotes of the Week


"We truly hadn't ever considered that people could just be really evil." [Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince in Gizmodo on 1 December 2017, on why this service provider company protects virulent neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer]

"Some families, some communities, some cultures breed strife. Governments cannot always fix it. Compulsory contraception for those on benefits would help crack intergenerational reproduction of strife." [NewsCorp journalist and newly appointed  head of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Gary Johns, in BuzzFeed, 19 May 2015]

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

U.S. court directs four American tobacco companies to publicly set the record straight on the dangers of their products


World Health Organisation (WHO), Statement, 29 November 2017:

GENEVA - In major victories for tobacco control efforts, four U.S. tobacco companies are publishing court-ordered “corrective statements” to set the record straight on the dangers of their products, while a major French bank has announced it will divest its interests in the tobacco industry.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Prevention on Noncommunicable diseases department, says these moves reinforce to the world the need for accelerated action to protect people from tobacco.

“The tobacco control community has been saying for decades that tobacco kills, is addictive and that its manufacturers have known this, while profiting from the suffering of millions of their customers,” says Dr Bettcher. “But by being ordered by the courts to issue these corrective statements in American newspapers and on TV stations, the industry itself has been forced to come clean and acknowledge once and for all that its tobacco products kill.”

The publication of the corrective statements, which started 26 November 2017, follows a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department in 1999 under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law. The Federal Court first ordered tobacco companies to implement these corrective statement adverts in 2006, but years of tobacco industry appeals blocked their publication.

But last month, a U.S. court directed that four American companies, Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Altria, publish the corrective statements on the health effects of tobacco use, second-hand smoke, the false sale and advertising of low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes, that smoking and nicotine are highly addictive, and that they have designed cigarettes to enhance the delivery of nicotine.

The statements, appearing in advertisements paid for by the tobacco industry, were ordered to appear in more than 50 U.S. newspapers, as well as on American television stations.

Also, on 24 November, French bank BNP Paribas announced that it would stop its financing and investment activities related to tobacco companies, including producers, wholesalers and traders.

In its announcement, the bank acknowledged the efforts by WHO, and the focus of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), to ensure people have access to the highest standard of health and “the importance of measures regarding the reduction of demand and supply in order to meet this objective.”

BNP is the latest financial institution to declare it is ending its association with the tobacco industry, including Axa SA and the Bank of New Zealand.

“The message we must take from all this is that the industry cannot be trusted, not now, and not in the future when it tries to market new products as less harmful, like heat not burn, and by funding new organizations that purport to be working for a smoke-free world,” says Dr Bettcher.

The admissions by the U.S. tobacco companies that its products kill and are designed for addiction should strengthen national tobacco control efforts, including implementation by governments of commitments in the WHO FCTC.

To assist in country-level implementation of the WHO FCTC, WHO has introduced the MPOWER package of technical measures and resources, each of which reflects one or more of the demand reduction provisions of the Convention.

These include monitoring tobacco use and the impact of prevention policies; protecting people from tobacco smoke by introducing smoke-free public and workplaces; offering people help to quit tobacco use; warning about the dangers of tobacco use, including by implementing graphic health warnings and plain packaging; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising excise taxes on tobacco.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

And Australian federal politicians wonder why they are held in such low esteem


The majority of those Teflon-coated, masters of entitlement sitting in the Senate and House of Representative in Canberra wouldn’t even make the gesture……


Fewer than a quarter of federal politicians have agreed to commit to new ethical standards devised by legendary corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald - and there is not a single Turnbull government MP among them.

The former judge teamed up with the left-leaning Australia Institute think tank to survey every federal politician on their values as part of a plan to clean up Canberra and build momentum for a federal anti-corruption body.

The Queensland QC – who presided over the Fitzgerald Inquiry that ultimately led to the resignation of former state premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen – developed the questionnaire to test MPs about their attitudes towards accountability, integrity, nepotism, deception and the spending of public money.

But the response from MPs was underwhelming, with just 53 of the 226 signing up to the so-called "Fitzgerald Principles". Thirty-six refused to commit and 137 did not reply to repeated requests to participate.

"The refusal of a majority of politicians to commit publicly to normal standards of behaviour puts the need for an effective anti-corruption commission beyond doubt," Mr Fitzgerald said. 
"The major parties surely realise that the public wants politicians to behave honourably and that the scandals which are causing Australians to lose faith in democracy involve their members."

Thirty-eight members of the ALP agreed to the principles, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus. Seven members of the Australian Greens signed up, as did all four members of the Nick Xenophon Team, two independents and One Nation's Pauline Hanson.

No Coalition MPs - who are often instructed not to take part in surveys - signed up.

The Australia Institute, 28 January 2015:

The Fitzgerald Principles are:

1. Govern for the peace, welfare and good government of the State;
2. Make all decisions and take all actions, including public appointments, in the public interest without regard to personal, party political or other immaterial considerations;
3.  Treat all people equally without permitting any person or corporation special access or influence; and
4.  Promptly and accurately inform the public of its reasons for all significant or potentially controversial decisions and actions.

The Australian Government has a Statement Of Ministerial Standards which all federal government ministers are obliged to uphold. However, currently there is no general code of conduct for all members of parliament and, it appears that most of those we elected in 2016 like the freedom to do as they please which this allows and are loathe to alter the status quo.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Can the CSIRO sink any lower?


“Collaborating with government. As a trusted adviser to government, our collaboration within the sector supports it to solve challenges, find efficiencies and innovate.” [CSIRO, Data61]

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is a federal government corporate entity ultimately responsible to the Australian Parliament.

It started life in the midst of global conflagration in 1916 and for most of its existence it was widely respected both in its country of origin and around the world.

Sadly that level of respect has been diminished in recent years as commercial imperatives saw it move away from its once proud boast that:


However, it had not yet become a low creature of right-wing political ideology.

Until now – when it appears willing to participate in enforcing punitive social policies, cynically presented in the guise of Budget measures by the Turnbull Coalition Government.

In particular, enabling the trial drug testing of income support applicants “based on a data-driven profiling tool developed for the trial to identify relevant characteristics that indicate a higher risk of substance abuse issues” which almost inevitably will target the poor and vulnerable.

Apparently the only matter holding the CSIRO back from full commitment to the trial is the matter of contract negotiations with the Dept. Of Social Security and/or Dept. of Human Services1.

The cost of this measure has reportedly been deemed by government to be “commercial-in-confidence”.

InnovationAus, 2 June 2017:

CSIRO has still not officially agreed to allow its Data61 analytics unit to become involved in the government’s highly contentious welfare drug testing program, a Senate estimates hearing has been told.

But the delay appears to be related to difficult contract negotiations – for which the research agency is well known – rather than the objections of staff or management to becoming involved in such a politically-driven program.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and CSIRO appeared at the Senate estimates on Thursday morning.

The shocking concession that CSIRO has been in discussion to work on the drug-test project since April comes despite the organisation having specifically declined to confirm any knowledge of the project for weeks – let alone that it was actively negotiating a contract.

This is despite direct questions being put to CSIRO on multiple occasions for weeks.

The estimates hearing also revealed that Data61 has been called into the controversy plagued Social Services robo-debt project that has mistakenly matched debt to welfare recipients.

CSIRO digital executive director David Williams told shadow industry minister Kim Carr that while CSIRO was approached by the Social Services department about the welfare drug testing scheme in late April – less than a month before its involvement was prematurely announced by Cabinet Minister Christian Porter – it is still yet to officially sign on to the project.

“The Department of Social Services approached CSIRO in early April, wanting to implement a trial involving activity tested income support recipients across a small number of geographical areas,” Mr Williams told senate estimates.

“They asked for Data61’s support in doing the analysis to see whether predictive analytics could help them in that task.”

“Since that time we’ve been talking with the department, and scoped out a statement of work and we’ve looked at how we can implement that work should we sign a contract and proceed. At this moment we’re working through the procedures inside CSIRO.”

FOOTNOTE

1. The CSIRO already has a business relationship with the Australian Department of Human Services (DHS). Commencing in February 2017 the CSIRO and/or CSIRO Data61 conducted a Review of Online Compliance Systems, as well as supplying Specialist Data Science Services and Selection Methodologies Advice to the department. See; https://www.tenders.gov.au.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The optics are not good when it comes to the former Australian Minister for Trade and Investment


According to former Australian Minister for Trade and Investment & former Liberal MP for Goldstein Andrew Robb he is now in the business of providing "boutique investment, trade and major projects counsel for companies and organisation's globally, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region" through his company Andrew Robb Pty Ltd which is contactable "C/- Ellerston Capital". 

The website goes on to state that; Mr Robb is currently a Board Member of the Kidman cattle enterprise and the Network Ten television station, Chair of Asialink and CNSDose, and strategic advisor to Beef Innovations Australia, as well as a range of national and international businesses.

On 13 July 2016 the Australian Financial Review added an investment bank to the list:

Former trade minister Andrew Robb has joined investment bank Moelis & Company, where he will focus on deals with China.
Robb had announced this appointment on the same day.
By 2 September 2016 Landbridge Group Co Ltd, a Chinese corporation based in Rizhao, China, had informed the world that Mr. Robb was now a senior economic consultant with the group effective two months earlier. 


According to The Age on 6 June 2017:

The details of the consultancy have never been disclosed by Mr Ye or Mr Robb. Neither has the fact that Mr Robb is being used to spruik a Chinese Communist Party-backed trade park as part of his consultancy agreement.

Mr Ye frames much of his business activity, including the acquisition of the Port of Darwin lease, in terms of advancing Beijing's ambitious global trade and infrastructure project "One Belt, One Road".

The port's acquisition sparked a major controversy after then US president Barack Obama complained he hadn't been forewarned. The Defence Department and ASIO have vetted and cleared Landbridge's acquisition of the port. But the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, said the port deal might benefit Beijing's long-term strategic interests, and not necessarily those of Australia.

Mr Ye publicly announced on September 2 last year that Mr Robb had been appointed as a "high-level economic consultant". At the time, Mr Robb had already been working for Mr Ye for eight weeks, and had earned $146,000, including GST but minus expenses…..

In April 2016, less than three months before his consultancy agreement began, Mr Robb visited China with an Australian delegation in his capacity as Australia's trade envoy. The delegation was lobbied by Rizhao Communist Party deputy secretary Liu Xingtai to support the trade park as part of a "Two Countries, Two Parks" proposal.

"The proposal has been fully recognised and highly affirmed by the Shandong Province Party Committee, the Provincial Government and the Department of Commerce," the Chinese government statement said.

The statement also said deputy secretary Liu had met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles on April 14, 2016, and "proposed the co-operative model of Two Countries, Two Parks".  

Mr Ye placed Mr Robb on his payroll 10 weeks later.

Now if memory serves me correctly on 11 February 2016 Mr. Robb announced that he would not recontest his seat and the Australian Parliament was dissolved on 9 May 2016 ahead of the federal election.

As he was on his feet in the House of Representatives on 4 May and was listed as a sitting member in the Hansard of 5 May when the Budget was delivered after which all federal politicians then returned to their electorates, one can be forgiven for assuming that he did not officially retire until 9 May 2016 when the parliament was dissolved.

Twenty-three days later on 1 July 2016 (the day before the 2016 federal election day) Andrew Robb was on the Landbridge payroll according to ABC TV Four Corners 5 May 2017 transcript:

From that date, he's be[ing] paid $73,000 a month, or $880,000 a year, plus expenses.

This of course is in addition to his parliamentary superannuation lumpsum and/or periodic payments based on Commonwealth contributions equivalent to est. 15.4% of salary/wages per the Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004 (Robb turned 65 years of age in August 2016) and remuneration for aforementioned directorships and other consultancy positions.

On 1 July Mr. Robb would have reached the end of any period in which he was eligible to receive a percentage of his base parliamentary salary as a departing MP not standing for re-election.

Looking at this timeline I wouldn't be surprised if the formal contract with Landbridge was not signed even earlier than 1 July, that the ink was probably still drying on this document when Robb told parliament of his intention to resign and stood down as trade and investment minister on 18 February 2016.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Westpac Bank pledges not to finance new thermal coal mines or projects in new coal producing basins


“However, for new thermal coal proposals we will:  Limit lending to any new thermal coal mines or projects (including those of existing customers) to only existing coal producing basins and where the calorific value for that mine ranks in at least the top 15% globally. We define the top 15% as having a specific energy content of at least 6,300 kCal/kg Gross As Received. This value is referred to as the Newcastle high energy coal benchmark.” [Westpac Bank, Climate Change Action Plan, April 2017]

Westpac Bank, media release, 28 April 2017:

* $10 billion target for lending to climate change solutions by 2020 and $25 billion by 2030.

* Tighter criteria for financing any new coal mines. Financing for any new thermal coal projects limited to existing coal producing basins and where the calorific value of coal meets the energy content of at least 6,300kCal/kg Gross as Received – i.e. projects must rank in the top 15% globally.

* Commitment to actively reduce the emissions intensity of the power generation sector, targeting 0.30 tCO2e/MWh by 2020.

* Continued commitment to a broad market-based price on carbon as the most efficient way to encourage emissions reductions at the lowest cost to the economy.
* Setting target to reduce Westpac’s direct footprint emissions (i.e., in our workplaces, across our branch network and IT operations) by 9% by 2020, and 34% by 2030.

* Building on our commitment to helping households become more climate-resilient, improving their energy efficiency, and reducing their environmental impact.

Westpac today released its third Climate Change Action Plan (PDF 1MB), as part of its commitment to helping limit global warming to less than two degrees.

The principles of the updated plan reflect a scientific, practical approach around lending to energy intensive and renewable sectors as well as reducing Westpac’s own carbon footprint. Westpac has had a clear and consistent approach to climate change since releasing its first climate change statement almost a decade ago.

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer said: “Westpac recognises that climate change is an economic issue as well as an environmental issue, and banks have an important role to play in assisting the Australian economy to transition to a net zero emissions economy.

  “Limiting global warming will require a collaborative effort as we transition to lower emissions sectors, while also taking steps to help the economy and our communities become more resilient.
“As a major lender Westpac is committed to supporting climate change solutions that will drive the transition to a more sustainable economic model, and we have increased our lending target for this sector from $6.2 billion to $10 billion by 2020 and to $25 billion by 2030.

  “At the same time we recognise that energy security is essential for the long term economic health of Australia. That is why Westpac is committing to actively reducing the emissions intensity of our exposure to the power generation sector over time, and we have a target to reduce this portfolio to 0.30 tCO2e/MWh by 2020.

“In addition, we will limit lending to new thermal coal projects to existing coal producing basins only, and where the energy content of the coal ranks in the top 15% globally,” he said.

Westpac is also committing to help Australian households become more climate-resilient, improve their energy efficiency, and reduce their environmental impact.
Westpac was the first Australian bank to release a climate change statement in 2008, and was named the world’s most sustainable bank by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the ninth time in 2016.

Westpac’s principles-based approach to climate change is summarised below. These principles are based on a scientific approach, building on the scenario analysis undertaken in 2016 as reported in Westpac’s 2016 Sustainability Report.
Our Principles
Our Actions
1. A transition to a net zero emissions economy is required
1. Provide finance to back climate change solutions 
2. Economic growth and emissions reductions are complementary goals
2. Support businesses that manage their climate-related risks
3. Addressing climate change creates financial opportunities
3. Help individual customers respond to climate change
4. Climate-related risk is a financial risk
4. Improve and disclose our climate change performance
5. Transparency and disclosure matters
5. Advocate  for policies that stimulate investment in climate change solutions  

To date it does not appear that the Adani Group has approached Westpac in relation to the Carmichael Mine and Rail Project in the Galilee Basin, Queensland.

It is noted that there is no firm guarantee that all Adani project infrastructure would be barred from financing through the bank – although so many people across Australia are hoping that such a prohibition exists.

Concerned citizens need to keep an eye on the ball, because it is possible that the Turnbull Government will begin to pressure Westpac concerning its firmer policy on climate change.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Just the sheer size and reach of the Trump Organisation's business interests has implications for U.S. foreign policy


For the last eighteen months in particular there has been media comment on the extensive business interests of U.S. president-elect Donald John Trump.

Since the November 2016 presidential election focus has intensified.

However, the U.S. Constitution drawn up in a simpler century teflon coats presidents - never having envisioned the likes of  Donald Trump.

The reach of Trump’s business interests are said to reach as far as Australia.

Given the man doesn’t seem to understand that the only ethical course would be to divest himself entirely of his business interests by placing them in a genuine blind trust not run by family members, close friends or business partners, so that both America and the world can have a measure of confidence in the his decision making as president, one can only look aghast at the potential for these business interests to fatally infect his presidency and U.S. foreign policy.

In July 2015 Donald Trump disclosed 515 U.S. and foreign corporations or partnerships in which he was either president, partner, chair, director, secretary, member and/or shareholder.

Forbes, 17 August 2015:

Under “Our Hotels” on the Trump Hotel Collection website, it lists six domestic hotels and six international hotels…..
The other hotels abroad are in Toronto, Doonbeg, Ireland, Vancouver, and Baku, Azerbaijan. (Toronto and Vancouver also have a Trump Tower.)
On the website for the Trump Real Estate Collection, nine international properties are listed, including two Trump Towers in India and one in Istanbul, another in Uruguay and another in the Philippines, as well as a Trump World in South Korea, among others.

Donald Trump has an interest in more than 30 U.S. properties, roughly half of which have debt on them according to The New York Times on 20 August 2016:

Debt on properties Mr. Trump owns or leases
PROPERTY
LOCATION
DEBT OUTSTANDING
40 Wall Street
Manhattan
157,400,000
Trump International Hotel*
Washington
127,000,000
Trump National Doral golf resort
Miami
125,000,000
Trump Tower
Manhattan
100,000,000
Trump International Hotel
Chicago
45,000,000
167 East 61st Street
Manhattan
14,500,000
Trump Park Avenue
Manhattan
12,495,000
Trump National Golf Club
Colts Neck, N.J.
11,700,000
4-8 East 57th Street "Niketown"
Manhattan
10,600,000
Seven Springs estate
Mount Kisco, N.Y.
8,000,000
Trump National Golf Club Washington
Potomac Falls, Va.
7,600,000
Trump International Hotel and Tower
Manhattan
7,000,000
Trump International Hotel**
Las Vegas
3,200,000
1094 South Ocean Boulevard
Palm Beach, Fla.
250,000
124 Woodbridge Road
Palm Beach, Fla.
250,000
*This construction loan was for $170 million. The Trump Organization and Times sources confirm roughly $127 million has been drawn down on.
**This loan was worth $110 million in 2010. The Trump Organization says a Trump entity is responsible for $3.2 million of the debt outstanding. The Times could not confirm this.
Debt associated with Mr. Trump's limited partnerships/investments
PROPERTY
LOCATION
  PRC  OWNED
DEBT OUTSTANDING
1290 Avenue of the Americas
Manhattan
30
950,000,000
555 California Street
San Francisco
30
589,000,000
Starrett City / Spring Creek Towers
Brooklyn
4
410,000,000
Other:
An internal Trump Organization corporate loan, which Mr. Trump says is worth more than $50 million.
Sources: RedVision Systems, Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Times, Bloomberg data, Trump Organization.
The New York Times compiled these debt estimates using bank documents, public filings and through interviews with the Trump Organization and people familiar with the debt who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on the record about it.

The bulk of these liabilities appear to consist of mortgages maturing between 2016 and 2029.

The Washington Post, 16 September 2016:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection records, compiled by ImportGenius.com since 2007, give us a look at what has been imported by many of the businesses that are owned by Trump or use his name via licensing deals.

Trump has imported from the countries coloured red and many of the products bearing Donald Trump’s name appear to come from low-wage countries in East Asia.

Vodka
Trump licensed his name to the Israeli vodka after a 2011 legal battle. Unlike the original Trump vodka made in Holland, the new version was popular as one of the few liquors that’s kosher for Passover.
Barware
Made by a crystal company in a small town in Slovenia, its first entry into the U.S. market.
Ties
Made in countries such as China and sold on Amazon.com in nearly 200 patterns and sizes.
Mirrors
Made in China.
Accessories
Including cuff links, belts and eyeglasses made in China and other countries.
Fragrance
Trump’s cologne has been manufactured in and out of the United States.
Clothing
Trump makes his clothing line abroad. The manufacturers are generally scattered throughout East Asia and Central America.
Chandeliers and lamps
Some of these products retail for more than $4,000. Made in China.
Furniture
Trump Home sells furniture to consumers made in Germany and Turkey, but his own hotels often get furniture from massive distributors such as the multinational IHS Global Alliance.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Stuart Robert MP - the archetypal Liberal Party politician


Stuart Rowland Robert, Liberal MP for Fadden (QLD) since 2007, is truly the archetypal Liberal Party politician - in parliament for his own personal financial advancement, less than transparent about his investments and business connections or gifts he receives, as well as being quite comfortable with those dodgy political donations schemes operating at state and federal level.

Now it seems that the LNP Fadden Forumwhich reportedly has a $12,000 annual membership fee, is in the news again.

The Australian, 30 September 2016:
A well-connected lobbyist gave more than $110,000 of her “own money’’ to the fundraising entity of federal Liberal MP Stuart Robert as her company was being wound up with unpaid debts.

Simone Holzapfel, a former longtime adviser to Tony ­Abbott, owed more than $430,000, including $355,000 to the Australian Taxation Office, when she donated $114,000 in 12 separate payments to Mr ­Robert’s “Fadden Forum’’ in mid-2013, ahead of the federal election.

Ms Holzapfel was then a lobby­ist for Gold Coast developer Sunland Group, now at the centre of the latest controversy to embroil Mr Robert, the Gold Coast MP sacked last year from the Turnbull ministry.

Months before the donations were made, Mr Robert had ­defended Sunland in parliament over its involvement in the ­detention of two Australians in Dubai, with a speech largely lifted from briefing notes supplied by Ms Holzapfel.

The notes had been sent to both Mr Robert and Mr Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, on the morning of the November 26, 2012, speech to parliament.

It can also be revealed that Ms Holzapfel sent the notes to Mr Robert and Ms Credlin while working as Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate’s media officer.

She left the council in February 2013 to pursue “commercial ventures’’ and reboot lobbying and PR company Shac, which had been set up in 2005.

The $114,000 donation in 2013 and Mr Robert’s bankrolling of “independent’’ candidates ahead of the Gold Coast council elections in March this year — as revealed by The Australian — are now part of an investigation by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.

Ms Holzapfel has previously told The Australian the donations were her “own money’’ and rejected suggestions she had given the money to Mr Robert’s Fadden Forum on behalf of clients.

“I ­donated because I wanted my ­former boss (Mr Abbott) to ­become prime minister, and that is my right to do,’’ she said then.

It has now been confirmed that at the time of making the donations — between July and September 2013 — Ms Holzapfel’s company was in external administration, with $437,000 in debt.

Ms Holzapfel was the sole directo­r of the company, Coolabird, which had changed its name from Shac months earlier and was eventually wound up.

Administrators confirmed yesterday that the company had debts of $437,000 when it was put into ­liquidation, including a debt of $355,000 to the ATO……

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 2016:

A speech Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert gave to Parliament defending the Gold Coast property developer Sunland was substantially written by the lead lobbyist for the company.

Fairfax Media can reveal that former Tony Abbott staffer-turned-developer-lobbyist Simone Holzapfel was the true author of whole sections of the speech that Mr Robert delivered in November 2012.

Ms Holzapfel wrote a four-page defence of Sunland after a November 17 newspaper article scrutinised the company's dispute with an Australian man who spent five years trapped in a legal nightmare in Dubai.

Seven sections of that response - provided to various government officials and obtained by Fairfax Media - subsequently found their way into Mr Robert's adjournment debate speech on November 26.

Ms Holzapfel's words make up more than half of the speech.

Mr Robert has refused to comment on the revelation, which once again puts the spotlight on his connections with Sunland. Mr Robert's links to the company have come under scrutiny as part of a Queensland corruption inquiry into political donations to Gold Coast City Council candidates, which involves his fundraising body, the Fadden Forum......

UPDATE

The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 October 2016:

Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert has close ties to an African church that supports harsh anti-gay laws and is run by a preacher described as "one of the most homophobic people in the world".

Mr Robert was a founding director of Watoto Australia, an offshoot of the Ugandan-based pentecostal Watoto Church, and has called church leader Gary Skinner one of the "great influences" on his life…..

Gay and lesbian activists say Watoto and Mr Skinner are virulently anti-gay and have contributed to violent homophobia in Uganda. Mr Robert – who was also a member of Watoto's International Board – has travelled to the Ugandan capital Kampala many times to meet Mr Skinner, who says homosexuality is "degrading" and an "inhuman sin" that brings disease and destroys families.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The perception of Coalition corruption and rorting continues to grow.......


The longer this generation of Liberal and Nationals politicians hold sway at either state or federal level the more apparent it becomes that they have little to no understanding of business ethics or civic responsibility, nor any regard for the damage that even a perception of a conflict of interest can do to the level of public trust in political institutions.

Here is yet another example……

ABC News, 22 September 2016:
John Cotter Jnr.

A company run by prominent Queensland Liberal National Party members was part of a consortium awarded $3 million under a federal infrastructure program, the ABC can reveal.
The money is for a feasibility study for the proposed Urannah Dam in north Queensland.

The $3 million was secured by a consortium that was made up of the community group, Bowen Collinsville Enterprise Inc, and the Brisbane-based venture capital group, Initiative Capital.

Initiative Capital is owned by its chief executive John Cotter Jr and its executive director Gerard Paynter, who say the bid was made through an independent and transparent assessment process, with all funds to be managed by the state.

But the Queensland Government has told the ABC successful funding bids were selected by the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and that the Urannah Dam was not even listed as a state priority.

The $3 million for the Urannah Dam study came from National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. The fund called for applications late last year, with a panel of technical experts assessing the bids.

But the fund guidelines state "the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources [Barnaby Joyce] will be the final decision-maker".

John Cotter Jr is a member of the powerful Queensland LNP state executive and a regional party chair.

LNP sources said he was heavily involved in fundraising at all levels of the party.

When asked by the ABC about fundraising and his roles with the LNP, Mr Cotter said he was not allowed to comment.

"I can only confirm I am [an LNP] member," he said.

But a spokesman for the Queensland LNP confirmed Mr Cotter was on the state executive.

His partner in Initiative Capital, Gerard Paynter, is the Queensland managing director of LNP-aligned lobbying firm Barton Deakin.

Its website describes him as "an experienced Liberal National Party figure having been a Queensland and Federal Young Liberal president and a member of the Queensland state executive for five years".

It says he also has extensive experience in managing LNP state and federal campaigns, including holding a "central campaign role within the LNP for the 2013 federal election".

Mr Paynter told the ABC he did not hold any executive positions within the LNP.

He did not respond to follow up questions……..

The Australian, 27 July 2013:

MEMBERS of Queensland's GasFields Commission and their families enjoy lucrative financial interests in the state's controversial coal-seam gas industry that endanger the statutory body's independence, landholders and activists claim.

The commission, an election commitment by Campbell Newman's Liberal National Party, purports to promote sustainable co-existence between CSG miners and farmers - but critics say it is captive to industry……

Mr Clapham said landholders were concerned about the commissioners' links to gas companies. "To many people it appears the commission is there to facilitate the industry, not to even up the power imbalances. It's there to grease the wheels of the industry," he said.

The son of commission chairman John Cotter is the founder and major shareholder of a Brisbane-based consultancy that has close links to the British-owned Queensland Gas Company, one of four firms developing the state's $65 billion CSG industry.

John Cotter Jr's Flinders Group is involved in the $100 million construction of a jetty at Curtis Island at Gladstone, from where exports of liquid natural gas will begin next year. The Flinders Group has also advised resource firms, including QGC, on accessing land in more than 10 major projects, involving agreements with 1000 landholders.

Mr Cotter Jr said he no longer dealt directly with landowners because of his father's commissioner role and the group had created "Chinese walls" to avoid potential conflicts.

Activist Drew Hutton said the Flinders Group "scopes areas where coal-seam gas companies might need to target properties for gas wells and other infrastructure".

This was in direct conflict with Mr Cotter Sr's role in assisting farmers in dealing with mining companies, he said. "It's another case of where the Queensland government has structured things so landholders are disadvantaged against the might of the coal-seam gas companies."

Mr Cotter Sr, a grazier at Goomeri northwest of Brisbane, said he had no role in his son's business…..

Following closely on the heels of John Cotter Jnr's latest issue came this report in The Age on 26 September 2016:

A Turnbull government MP is facing questions over a series of taxpayer funded travel claims, including more than $2000 for flights to his own wedding in Melbourne.

Western Australian Liberal MP Steve Irons charged taxpayers travel costs of $1346 for a flight on October 18, 2011, three days before he was married at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

The West Australian reported on Monday that following the October 21 ceremony, Mr Irons charged taxpayers $911 for a return flight to Perth on October 25.

The Swan MP said the money had been repaid to the Department of Finance after "a self-audit" of travel expenses in his office.

Mr Irons' wife Cheryle was a Melbourne-based real estate agent at the time of the couple's wedding.
The revelations come days after it was reported that he had also used taxpayer funds to pay for flights to a Gold Coast golf tournament in December 2015.

Mr Irons said he studied golf tourism opportunities at the first stage of the International Team Challenge, after being invited to attend by the Australian PGA.

As chair of the parliamentary friends of sport group, Mr Irons said the trip had not broken any rules on taxpayer funded travel, despite it being claimed as "electorate business".

The December trip included a $258 bill to taxpayers for three nights' travel allowance in Coolangatta and $1875 for a flight from Brisbane to Perth.

A further flight cost is expected to be reported in future releases from the Department of Finance.

Mr Iron's office did not respond to requests for comment…..