Showing posts with label law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label law. Show all posts

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

NSW Environmental Defender's Office has served irrigator and Nationals donor Peter Harris a summons demanding he return more than five billion litres of water he is alleged to have illegally taken from the Barwon-Darling River


The Australian, 14 November 2017:

The NSW Environmental Defender’s Office has served irrigator and Nationals donor Peter Harris a summons demanding he return more than five billion litres of water he is alleged to have ­illegally taken from the Barwon-Darling River.

The incidents of alleged water theft are the subject of ICAC, Ombudsman and Office of Water inquiries, which follow the standing down and resignation of former senior NSW water bureaucrat Gavin Hanlon.

It has also been revealed that NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair benefited Mr ­Harris, a cotton farmer, and other irrigators by changing the laws to pardon Mr Harris retrospectively for illegal flood works and that Mr Blair lobbied Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton to change the law to justify a decision to give Mr Harris more water trading rights.

In their action in the Land and Environment Court, the plaintiffs demand “the return of water, up to the equivalent of the total volume ... (to) occur immediately after the water is extracted from the water source and has passed through metering equipment” to measure it, but before it is stored.

Alternatively, the defender’s office is seeking orders so that Mr Harris forfeits his entitlement to the equivalent amount of water in ­future to replenish the river.

The summons was served on Peter James Harris and Jane Maree Harris and the matter is listed for December 8.

The amount of water allegedly taken would fill more than 2000 Olympic swimming pools.

Office chief executive David Morris said the action was being taken because the NSW government was not moving quickly enough to penalise Mr Harris.

“On two occasions EDO NSW has written to the NSW government outlining concerns about potential breaches of the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) and informing the government of intention to commence civil enforcement proceedings,” he said.

“No adequate response has been received from the government. In the face of government inaction, our client (the Inland Rivers Network) has seen no other choice but to commence proceedings in the Land and Environment Court.”

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Are NSW police racially profiling young offenders?


Junkee, 26 October 2017:

A NSW Police intelligence program that uses secret algorithms to identify suspects who may commit a “future crime” is disproportionately targeting young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to a comprehensive new report.

The ‘Policing Young People in NSW’ report was published by the Youth Justice Coalition, a network of youth workers, lawyers, academics and policy experts. It was written by Dr Vicki Sentas, an academic at the University of New South Wales, and Camilla Pandolfni, a solicitor at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

The report is the first comprehensive look at the Suspect Targeting Management Plan (STMP), a NSW Police program that “seeks to prevent future offending by targeting repeat offenders and people police believe are likely to commit future crime”.

The STMP involves the use of “risk assessment tools” and algorithms that take into account a series of “risk factors” to identify potential future criminals. Suspects in the program are categorised on a scale from “low risk” to “extreme risk” and then targeted by police officers through regular house visits and the use of stop and search powers.

The criteria used to identify suspects is not publicly available, and individuals targeted through the STMP are not notified of the reasons behind their risk categorisation. The whole program is managed internally by the police and there are no specific laws or regulations governing its operation.


The preliminary findings based on this research are:

* Disproportionate use against young people and Aboriginal people: Data shows the STMP disproportionately targets young people, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and has been used against children as young as ten.

* Patterns of ‘oppressive policing’ that may be damaging relationships between police and young people: Young people targeted on the STMP experience a pattern of repeated contact with police in confrontational circumstances such as through stop and search, move on directions and regular home visits. The STMP risks damaging relationships between young people and the police. Young people, their families or legal representatives are rarely aware of criteria used to add or remove people from the STMP. As the case studies show, young people experience the STMP as a pattern of oppressive, unjust policing.

* Increasing young people’s costly contact with the criminal justice system and no observable impact on crime prevention: The STMP has the effect of increasing vulnerable young people’s contact with the criminal justice system. Application of the STMP can be seen to undermine key objectives of the NSW youth criminal justice system, including diversion, rehabilitation and therapeutic justice. The research has identified several instances where Aboriginal young people on Youth Koori Court therapeutic programs have had their rehabilitation compromised by remaining on the STMP. There is no publicly available evidence that the STMP reduces youth crime.

* Encouraging poor police practice: In some instances, the exercise of police search powers in relation to a young person on the STMP have been found unlawful by the courts. The STMP may be inadvertently diminishing police understanding of the lawful use of powers (set out in the Law Enforcement Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 (NSW) (LEPRA)) and thereby exposing police to reduced efficacy and civil action. * No transparency and an absence of oversight, scrutiny or evaluation: The operation of the STMP is not transparent or accountable. Criteria for placement on the STMP are not publicly available, individuals cannot access their STMP plan and it is unclear what criteria are used by police to remove a person from the STMP…..

Based on the research and findings presented here, the report recommends that:

1. NSW Police discontinue applying the STMP to children under 18. Children suspected of being at medium or high risk of reoffending should be considered for evidence-based prevention programs that address the causes of reoffending (such as through Youth on Track, Police Citizens Youth Clubs NSW (PCYC) or locally based programs developed in accordance with Just Reinvest NSW), rather than placement on an STMP.

2. NSW Police make the STMP policy and operational arrangements publicly available to enable transparency and accountability.

3. NSW Police amend the STMP policy so that any person considered to have a ‘low risk’ of committing offences not be subject to the STMP.

4. NSW Police amend the STMP Policy to mandate formal notification by police to any individual placed on a STMP, including reasons for placement on the STMP and the date of next review. Subsequent notifications to individuals on an STMP should outline the outcome of the review and reasons for the STMP being maintained or discontinued.

5. NSW Police make data on the STMP publicly available through the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR). Available data should include demographic information (age, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status, ethnicity, Local Area Command LAC), as well as data on the length of time enrolled in the STMP and the category of risk determined.

6. NSW Police commission BOCSAR to evaluate whether the STMP is reducing youth crime.

7. NSW Police provide all police officers with formal training on the STMP which:

i. Clarifies its status as an intelligence tool;

ii. Provides guidance on the criteria for inclusion and exclusion from the program and the alternative programs available;

iii. Sets out its operational requirements, and limits; and iv. Provides guidance on the relationship of the STMP to the law. For example, training should clarify that a persons’ inclusion on an STMP cannot provide a basis for grounding a reasonable suspicion (either on its own or together with a number of other factors) under LEPRA.

8. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) conduct a comprehensive review of the STMP.1 The terms of reference of the recommended LECC review should include consideration of whether the STMP:

i. is effective and appropriate in dealing with the risk of offending in young people under 25 and children;

ii. is effective and appropriate in dealing with the risk of offending in adults;

iii. is effective and appropriate in relation to other vulnerable people (as defined in clause 28 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Regulation 2016), including those with impaired intellectual or physical functioning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and persons from non-English speaking backgrounds;

iv. is consistent with NSW policy and practice for juvenile justice including principles of diversion from the criminal justice system as well as NSW law, including the Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW), and the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW); and

v. is consistent with NSW Police policies and practices for policing children and young people, including the NSW Police Force Youth Strategy, as well as the Aboriginal Strategic Direction and Aboriginal Action Plans, the NSW Domestic Violence Strategy, the NSW Police Disability Inclusion Action Plan and all other policies and procedures regarding vulnerable persons.

In the course of the review, the LECC should consult with other professional disciplines such as mental health practitioners, Family and Community Services Managers, the Department of Justice, and community workers about best practice in diversion, crime prevention and the needs of young people.
Finally, this report is the first publicly available study about the STMP. The unjustified secrecy around the STMP has prevented appropriate, transparent, program evaluation and more thorough examination of the impact the STMP is having on young people, crime prevention and police practice. This report’s conclusion that the operation of the STMP is likely to be having damaging effects on young people is compelling grounds for further investigation and external scrutiny.

Monday, 6 November 2017

US President Donald Trump can run but can he hide?


After months of fighting to have this court case go away US President Donald J. Trump is in the process of being forced to hand over documents relating to at least ten sexual assault allegations, as part of a defamation action.

This subpoena only became public in September 2017.

According to BuzzFeed on 15 October 2017:


Trump’s response to Zervos’s motion is due Oct. 31, according to Zervos’s attorney, Gloria Allred. In a statement Allred said: “We are hopeful that the court will deny President Trump’s motion to dismiss, so that we may move forward with discovery and obtain relevant documents and testimony.”

The original compliant and jury demand was lodged in the Supreme Court Of The State Of New York County Of New York in January 2017 as Summer Zervos v Donald J. Trump.

UPDATE

Trump's response has been reported in the media as characterising his allegedly defamatory statements, about private citizen Summer Zervos, as political opinion protected under the US Constitution.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Australian High Court places doubt over constitutionality of anti-protestor laws in New South Wales


In 2014 the Parliament of Tasmania enacted the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 also known as the Protestors Act – an act designed to stifle even peaceful protest by individuals and groups concerned about government policy and actions by business or industry.

The Act allowed for fines of up to $10,000 for individuals and up to $100,000 for incorporated bodies, as well as additional fines and/or gaol terms of up to 4 years for further offences.

After the January 2016 arrests in the now destroyed Lapoinya Forest of individuals there for the purpose of raising public and political awareness about the logging of the forest and voicing protest to it, two of those arrested went to the High Court.

This is the result.

Excerpt from the High Court of Australia’s 18 October 2017 judgment in ROBERT JAMES BROWN & ANOR v THE STATE OF TASMANIA:

Question 2
Is the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 (Tas), either in its entirety or in its operation in respect of forestry land or business access areas in relation to forestry land, invalid because it impermissibly burdens the implied freedom of political communication contrary to the Commonwealth Constitution?

Answer
Section 6(1), (2), (3) and (4), s 8(1), s 11(1), (2), (6), (7) and (8), s 13 and Pt 4 of the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 (Tas) in their operation in respect of forestry land or business access areas in relation to forestry land are invalid because they impermissibly burden the implied freedom of political communication contrary to the Commonwealth Constitution. [my yellow highlighting]

The NSW Government is now considering implications of this judgment with regard to its own Part 4AD-Division 3 anti-protestor provisions in the NSW Crimes Act 1900 which carry a gaol term of 7 years.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 October 2017:

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman is seeking advice from the Solicitor-General about the effect on controversial NSW anti-protest laws of a High Court decision that found similar laws in Tasmania were unconstitutional.

The decision could have ramifications for three protesters facing up to 14 years in jail after becoming the first people charged under laws introduced by the NSW government last year.

Bev Smiles, Stephanie Luke and Bruce Hughes were charged in April with rendering useless a road belonging to a mine and hindering the working of equipment belonging to a mine following a protest at Wilpinjong Coal Mine in the Hunter Valley.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail.


Photo: Western Advocate, 19 April 2017

Friday, 27 October 2017

Australian High Court hands down judgment at 2:15pm today concerning eligibility to sit of five current and two former federal parliamentarians


High Court of Australia, email notification of judgment, 24 October 2017:

Friday 27 October 2017 at 2.15pm

1. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator the Hon. Matthew Canavan (C11/2017)

2. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Mr Scott Ludlam (C12/2017)

3. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Ms Larissa Waters (C13/2017)

4. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator Malcolm Roberts (C14/2017)

5. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP (C15/2017)

6. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator the Hon. Fiona Nash (C17/2017)

7. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator Nick Xenophon (C18/2017)

Copies of the judgment summaries will be accessible on the High Court website following the delivery of judgment.


Copies of the full judgment will be accessible on http://eresources.hcourt.gov.au/browse once uploaded.

Judgment delivered Friday, 27 October 2017:

Monday, 23 October 2017

Australian politics, law, justice and eligibility to sit as a federal parliamentarian


Excerpt from Ingrid Matthews’ article in Independent Australia, Hurrah! It's Section Forty-Forganza Week!, 12 October 2017:

REPORTING POLITICS, LAW AND JUSTICE
There are two other general points to make about the media framing of this case. 
The first is the oft-foreshadowed possibility that those MPs who have not done so may be "forced to resign". This is supremely irritating, because no force is involved (unlike, say, how police handled a child here). Any resignation would be a function of the MP failing to comply with our Constitution and of the High Court doing its job.
The absence of force is important, because the biggest claim that common law liberal democracies like Australia make for our system is this: legal and political conflicts are settled in a "civilised" manner. With words, not fists. With elections, not coups. Using evidence and argument, not violence and vigilantism.
The rituals of legal process are imbued with this pretension to courteous resolution. But that is not how the law looks to Black people in prison cells and their families. Or to welfare recipients sent AFP-branded debt notices by Centrelink. We pay Barnaby Joyce over $1 million per three-year term, and thousands more in expenses, while aggressively pursuing the poorest people in society for petty or non-existent offences and debts.
This is not justice.
Similarly, the notion that the "High Court could bring down the Government" is erroneous. If Joyce is disqualified, it would be a product of Joyce’s oversight and not because the High Court exercised some previously unrealised prerogative power in a curial coup. Plus, there are crossbenchers in the Lower House. The member for Indi will support the Government on confidence and supply. Thus a shift from a majority to a minority government does not "bring down a government". Such a narrative is misleading and frankly embarrassing, given we had a minority government a mere four years ago.
In my view, if Joyce could discover and renounce New Zealand citizenship in 2017, he could have done so in 2004 when he nominated for the Senate, or in 2013 for the seat of New England (Wiki history here). This position is based in law and morality. To me it is simply wrong of Joyce to not ensure his eligibility to sit in the Australian Parliament when he receives such enormous largesse from the Australian public to do so. I say largesse because I can not see any value-add to the national interest, any return on our investment, in Joyce and his travels.
So yes, the politics of this case are fascinating, but not necessarily in the ways that are offered up by political reporters. Constitutional law is a serious business, and the law is not a game.
Ingrid Matthews is a sessional academic who teaches law and human rights. You can follow Ingrid on Twitter at @iMusing or via her blog oecomuse.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns ends federal parliamentarians eligibility to stand hearings and considers its judgment


“The Court reserves its decisions in these matters. It is hardly necessary to say that the Court is aware of the need to give its answers to these references with or without reasons as soon as possible. As counsel and instructing solicitors would appreciate, it is not always possible for the Court to do so immediately. No doubt, they will explain this to their clients.”  [Chief Justice of Australia Susan Mary Kiefel AC, 12 October 2017]

On 10-12 October 2017 the full High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns heard arguments as to why five members and two former members of the Parliament of Australia should or shouldn’t be found to have been ineligible to stand for election prior to the 2016 general election and sit as an elected members thereafter.

While the country waits on the resolution of this matter, here are links to relevant documents and transcripts.

High Court of Australia Justices

KIEFEL CJ
BELL J
GAGELER J
KEANE J
NETTLE J
GORDON J
EDELMAN
J

Notices

High Court of Australia Transcripts






Self-styled “bounty hunter” issues penalty writs


David Barrow at http://andrewboltparty.com:

On 27 September 2017, I sued 6 current and former Senators and Mr Barnaby Joyce MP under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).

This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.

$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.

Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to the The Fred Hollows Foundation…..

Friday, 13 October 2017

File this one under 'Who's guarding the guards?'


The politicians forming Australian state and federal governments assure us they are upright, ethical people with histories as pure as the driven snow. They tell us their advisors are trustworthy beyond doubt and their senior public service appointees & finance/security consultants ditto. While their big business mates like Gina, Twiggy and Co are genuinely true blue and philanthropic.

Yet, as step by step these same politicians lead us towards authoritarian governance and Big Brother mass surveillance, their feet of clay can’t help but show.

North Coast Voices readers may remember that SMEC Holdings Limited (now SMEC and Surbana Juronghas been a favourite of Malcolm Turnbull's since he was the Minister for the Environment and Water Resouces in the Howard Government ministry.

This company provided an error-ridden desktop study for Turnbull supporting damming and diverting water from NSW North Coast river systems, with a preference for visiting this environmental vandalism on the Clarence River system.

It is now allegedly a corrupt multinational corpration.

The Age, 4 October 2017:

An arm of the company tasked with advising the Turnbull government on its signature infrastructure project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, has been banned by the World Bank for alleged bribery and corruption, prompting further calls for a federal anti-corruption watchdog……

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull poses for a photo during his announcement of Snowy Hydro 2.0 in March.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Engineering company SMEC had five of its subsidiaries banned by the World Bank last week after an investigation into "inappropriate payments" linked to projects in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

SMEC was chosen to undertake the $29 million feasibility study back in May and the work is due to be finished by the end of the year. The firm was selected by the state and federal government-owned Snowy Hydro corporation, which runs the current power plant.

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed the details of some of the allegations around improper payments involving SMEC, including allegedly corrupt dealings between the firm and Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena when he was a cabinet minister in 2009.

Those dealings and others are still under investigation by the federal police.

This is one wealthy individual audited by the Australian Taxation Office - venture capitalist and independent consultant to business & government for over twelve years, Anthony ‘Tony’ Castagna.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2017:

Anthony Castagna's company helps protect the cyber secrets and detect financial crimes within the world's most powerful institutions, including the Serious Fraud Office in Britain, US Homeland Security, the Australian defence force, ASIC, even the Office of the President of the US.

Now the Sydney-based co-founder and chairman of Nuix, majority owned by Macquarie Bank, faces a potential 20-year jail term after being charged with tax evasion and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Dr Castagna, 70, has been the target of two of Nuix's major clients: the Australian Federal police and the Australian Tax Office through Project Wickenby, their long-running tax probe.

The charges relate to payments from Macquarie Bank which were allegedly channelled into offshore companies controlled by his cousin Robert Agius, who was sentenced to a non-parole period of 6 years and 8 months' jail in 2012 for operating unrelated tax avoidance schemes via his Vanuatu-based accountancy firm.

In addition to Dr Castagna's criminal charges, the ATO is pursuing him for unpaid taxes and penalties in excess of $10 million.

For decades, the tech guru has been a rainmaker for Macquarie Bank. The bank has ploughed millions of dollars into his cyber security and forensic services company Nuix. A totally owned Macquarie Group subsidiary owns more than 70 per cent of Nuix and over the last year Macquarie advisors have been talking up a billion-dollar float of Nuix on the Australian stock exchange....

Dr Castagna, who denies any wrongdoing and is vigorously defending the charges....

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Facebook Inc continues to test the world's patience when it comes to privacy issues and US patience in relation to taxation matters


Worldwide Facebook Inc is estimated to have 2.01 billion monthly active users, with est. 1.7 billion of these users living outside of the USA and Canada.

Australian users comprised 17 million of these account holders in August 2017 - 12 million logging in daily.

In pursuit of profit this social media company is a ruthless data miner – collecting and collating information about every available aspect of the lives of all holders of Facebook accounts.

A fact that makes this company’s users a target of US federal government mass surveillance.

Given that Facebook Inc created a holding company Facebook Ireland Ltd in the low-taxing Republic of Ireland and it is this company which appears to legally possess the data of those est.1.7 billion users, it now finds itself before European Union courts.

Privacy activist @maxschrems, 3 October 2017:

Facebook operates its international business outside of the United States and Canada via a separate company in Ireland called “Facebook Ireland Ltd”. 85.9% of all worldwide Facebook users (everyone except USA and Canada) are managed in Dublin (Link), which is understood to be part of Facebook’s tax avoidance scheme.

Facebook currently sends all user data to its parent company, “Facebook Inc.” in the United States for processing. European law (Articles 25 and 26 of Directive 95/46/EC) requires that data can only be transferred outside of the EU if the personal data is “adequately protected”. This is in conflict with US mass surveillance laws, which “Facebook Inc.” in the USA is subject to.

Max Schrems: “In simple terms, US law requires Facebook to help the NSA with mass surveillance and EU law prohibits just that. As Facebook is subject to both jurisdictions, they got themselves in a legal dilemma that they cannot possibly solve in the long run.”

The Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland is investigating a complaint made by Max Schrems, an Austrian student with a Facebook account. This complaint relates to the transfer of his data by Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc. in the United States for processing - an act which is alleged to violate European fundamental rights under Articles 7, 8 and 47 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.


The subsequent investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner has given rise to a High Court case in Ireland (3 October 2017 judgement). The Court has now referred the issue of the validity of the European Commission’s Standard Contractual Clause decisions to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling.

History of the Case according to Max Schrems:
The case is based on a complaint, filed by Mr Schrems against Facebook in 2013:

* The case is based on a complaint [PDF] brought by Mr Schrems against Facebook Ireland Ltd. before the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (“DPC”) in 2013 (4 years ago).
* The DPC first refused to investigate the complaint, calling it “frivolous”, but Mr Schrems subsequently succeeded before the CJEU, which overturned the “Safe Harbor” (a EU-US data sharing system) in 2015 [case C-362/14] and ruled that the DPC must investigate the complaint.
* After the invalidation of “Safe Harbor”, Facebook used another legal tool to transfer data outside of the EU, called “Standard Contractual Clauses” (SCCs) [Facebook’s SCCs - PDF].
* SCCs are a contract between Facebook Ireland and Facebook USA, where Facebook USA pledges to follow EU privacy principles [official EU Info Page].
* The case subsequently continued with an updated complaint [PDF] in 2015. The Irish DPC joined Mr Schrems view that the SCCs cannot overcome fundamental problems under US surveillance laws, and specifically agreed that there is no proper legal redress in the United States in such cases. Other issues raised in Mr Schrems complaint have not been investigated yet.
* The DPC refused to use its power to suspend data flows of Facebook as asked by Mr Schrems.
* Instead of only prohibiting Facebook’s EU-US data transfers under Article 4 of the SCCs, the DPC took the unusual move of issuing proceedings against Facebook Ireland Ltd. and Mr Schrems before the Irish High Court. In the procedure the DPC aims to invalidate the SCCs entirely by referring the case to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in Luxembourg.
*The case was heard for five Weeks in February 2017. The United States Government was joined as an “amicus” to the case, along two industry lobby groups and the US privacy non-profit “EPIC”.

Facebook Inc’s "Double Irish" tax avoidance scheme and other matters also saw it before a US court in 2016, having refused to comply with a number of IRS tax summons. The court case continues to date.

The IRS 2008-2010 audit of Facbook Inc resulted in an assessment of the intangible assets transferred in those years having a value of US $13.8 billion, increasing Facebook's 2010 income by US $84.9 million and causing an income tax deficiency for the parent company.

Excerpt from United States Securities And Exchange Commission filing by Facebook Inc for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2016:

We are subject to taxation in the United States and various other state and foreign jurisdictions. The material jurisdictions in which we are subject to potential examination include the United States and Ireland. We are under examination by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for our 2008 through 2013 tax years. Our 2014 and subsequent years remain open to examination by the IRS. Our 2011 and subsequent years remain open to examination in Ireland. We do not anticipate a significant impact to our gross unrecognized tax benefits within the next 12 months related to these years. On July 27, 2016, we received a Statutory Notice of Deficiency (Notice) from the IRS relating to transfer pricing with our foreign subsidiaries in conjunction with the examination of the 2010 tax year. While the Notice applies only to the 2010 tax year, the IRS states that it will also apply its position for tax years subsequent to 2010, which, if the IRS prevails in its position, could result in an additional federal tax liability of an estimated aggregate amount of approximately $3.0 - $5.0 billion, plus interest and any penalties asserted. We do not agree with the position of the IRS and will file a petition in the United States Tax Court challenging the Notice. If the IRS prevails in the assessment of additional tax due based on its position, the assessed tax, interest and penalties, if any, could have a material adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows. [my yellow bolding]

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Marriage Equality and levels of community support


The Guardian, 21 August 2017:

A majority of Australians favour changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry and over 80% of respondents also plan to vote in the looming postal survey, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll.

The latest weekly survey of 1,817 voters found that 57% of the sample favours a change to the law to allow marriage equality, with 32% against and 11% saying they don’t know.

People most supportive of the change are Labor voters (71%), Greens voters (69%), women (65%) and voters aged between 18-34 (65%).

Asked about the likelihood of voting in the non-compulsory postal ballot, 63% said they would definitely vote, 18% said they would probably vote, 4% said they would probably not vote and 6% said they would definitely not vote – with 9% unsure.

Yes voters are more likely to participate than no voters. Seventy-four per cent of those in favour of same-sex marriage will definitely vote compared with 58% of those opposed.

Close to 90% of respondents (88%) said they were enrolled to vote at their current address, while 7% said they weren’t and 5% were unsure. Supporters of same-sex marriage are a bit more likely to be enrolled than those who are opposed (92% compared with 86%).

The ballot itself remains deeply contentious, with 49% of the sample disapproving of it and 39% approving. The postal ballot has become more unpopular since marriage equality advocates confirmed they would challenge it in the high court.

NOTE:

Challenges to the voluntary postal survey were dismissed by the High Court of Australia on 7 September 2017.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Turnbull Government's Australian Building and Construction Commissioner resigns ahead of court sentancing contravening the Fair Work Act


It appears that the Abbott and Turnbull federal governments’ chosen anti-union attack dog has feet of clay…………………….
This is what the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has to say about its agency head as late as 12 September 2017:
Nigel Hadgkiss, APM, became the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner on 2 December 2016 with the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).  Nigel has held a number of high-profile roles in both state and federal government agencies with a focus on both law enforcement and construction industry regulation, including:
Director Fair Work Building & Construction (FWBC);
Director, Construction Code Compliance, Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance;
Executive Director, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions NSW;
Deputy Commissioner, ABCC;
Director, Building Industry Taskforce;
National Director of Intelligence, Australian Crime Commission; and
Assistant Commissioner, Australian Federal Police
In 2007, while Deputy Commissioner of the ABCC, Nigel was credited with bringing a remarkable era of peace and productivity to the nation's building sites.[i]
Nigel commenced his career with the Hong Kong Police Force. During his career he has led many high profile investigations and inquiries, and served on three Australian Royal Commissions. Between 1972 and 1998, he received 15 commendations, including two from District Court Judges, three from Supreme Court Judges, and one from a Chief Justice. Between 1994 and 1996, he was the Director of Operations at the Wood Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Force.  During that secondment, Nigel was awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM) for distinguished service in the 1995 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Later that year, the Australian Federal Police promoted him to Assistant Commissioner. In 1997 Nigel was invited to Toronto to appear before a Royal Commission examining the wrongful conviction of a man for first degree murder. He assisted the Commissioner in formulating recommendations to improve the administration of criminal justice in Ontario.
Nigel holds Bachelor of Laws and Masters of Commerce degrees from the University of New South Wales.  As a Winston Churchill Fellow, in 1989 he spent five months in Northern Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, England, the USA and Canada studying Comparative Methods for Combating Organised Crime.  In 1998 Nigel was invited to York University, Toronto, as a Visiting Fellow to Canada’s largest law school, Osgoode Hall, for their 1999 winter semester. Later that year he presented seminars at All Souls College, Oxford University, and at the Inner Temple Hall of the Inner Temple Inn of Court, London.
Since 1996 Nigel has been: a member of the RMIT University’s Business Management Course Advisory Committee; a Board Member of the Australian Institute of Criminology; Chair of the Commonwealth’s Executive Leadership Group Victoria; a Board Member of the Industry Advisory Board for the Centre of Business Forensics at the University of Queensland; an Adjunct Professor with the University of Queensland’s Business School; and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Australian Institute of Criminology.

[i] The Australian Financial Review Magazine, October 2007 p.121.

On 12 September 2017 The Australian revealed another side to this gentleman:
Nigel Hadgkiss appearing at a hearing into the Fair Work Building and Construction at Parliament House in Canberra
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss has admitted to contravening the Fair Work Act, sparking fresh calls by the construction union for him to resign.
In an embarrassment to the Coalition, Mr Hadgkiss will face a civil penalty hearing in the Federal Court on Friday.
In an agreed statement of facts tendered in court today, Mr Hadgkiss admitted that in December 2013 he directed that looming changes to right of entry laws — that were beneficial to unions and workers — not be published by the agency.
The Coalition won the federal election in September 2013 but the previous Labor government had passed changes to the right of entry laws that came into operation on January 1, 2014.
Before the amendments, a union official had to follow a reasonable request by an employer about where they could hold site discussions with workers.
Under the ALP changes, the employer was no longer authorised to give such a request. If no agreement could be reached, the union official could meet workers in their regular meal room for discussion.
According to the statement of agreed facts, Mr Hadgkiss met two senior agency staff on December 19, 2013 and directed that no changes be made to agency educational material to reflect the new law.
A senior agency staffer said he told another senior employee that there was a political and legal risk associated with withholding the information. The employee agreed, saying he raised his concerns with Mr Hadgkiss but he was adamant “he didn’t want us to change anything”.
Mr Hadgkiss argued the then Employment Minister Eric Abetz has promised to repeal the amendments when federal parliament resumed in 2014. He believed the amendments would be repealed and changes to the educational material would have to be reversed.
But the amendments have not been repealed and remain the law.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union national construction secretary, Dave Noonan said Mr Hadgkiss should resign or be sacked by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.
“It’s a very serious matter when the regulator breaks the same laws they are supposed to be enforcing,’’ he said. “Can you imagine if the head of the ACCC admitted to breaching the Corporations Act?
According to the Remuneration Tribunal, Mr Hadgkiss receives a taxpayer-funded salary of $426,160 a year.
Asked if Senator Cash still had confidence in Mr Hadgkiss, her spokesman said “the matter is still being determined by the court and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment at this stage”.
Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said Senator Cash had “allowed her regulator to intentionally operate in breach of the very legislation which he is authorised to enforce”.
“Unless and until the Minister publicly denounces Commissioner Hadgkiss and takes appropriate action, any comments she makes about upholding the rule of law are hollow and insincere,’’ he said.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said Senator Cash must sack Mr Hadgkiss.
“Surely the person who has the highest responsibility, a greater responsibility, to abide by industrial laws is the person in charge of upholding them,’’ she said.
“If a police chief recklessly broke the law, which Nigel Hadgkiss has admitted to, their position would in untenable and there would be consequences. If a worker fails to follow workplace laws they can be sacked.
“Michaelia Cash is calling for the sacking of union leaders — what standard will she apply to her own employee who is in charge of upholding her laws?”
Mr Hadgkiss admitted to contravening section 503 (1) of the Fair Work Act which says a person must not take action with the intention of giving the impression, “or reckless as to whether the impression is given that the doing of a thing is authorised when it is not.
Mr Noonan said Mr Hadgkiss admitted “his conduct was reckless”.
“We believe the result of that recklessness is that the industry was misled on a key issue affecting workers’ rights,” he said.
“He has taken great care to bring multiple prosecutions against unions and workers over right of entry breaches, but has failed to conduct himself with reasonable care in relation to these same laws, and in particular those parts of the laws which extend some benefit or protection to workers.
“Mr Hadgkiss’s position as a regulator is compromised and untenable, and he should resign immediately,’
The consequence of the direction by Mr Hadgkiss was that a fact sheet, poster and pocket guide available for download on the agency website was not changed until July last year.
An article detailing the right of entry changes was published on the agency intranet for staff on January 9 2014.
It said given the changes will be “rolled back in the future”, staff should only provide advice about them if specifically asked, and presentation should not include slides about the new provisions.
On January 9 2014, Jeff Radisich, executive director of northwest operations, asked Adam Copp, the agency director of stakeholder engagement, whether the roll back would occur.
“I thought we would be stuck with these provisions until the Senate change over in July,’’ he wrote. “If that’s the case we are running something of a political and industrial risk by withholding info on the law as it currently stands.”
Mr Copp replied “to be honest, I do share your concerns and talked to Nigel about it last year”.
“However, he was absolutely adamant that he didn’t want us to change anything as the government intention is to change the legislation. He said he was extremely comfortable handling it in (Senate) estimates or the media or wherever. He felt pretty strongly about it.”
Mr Hadgkiss eventually directed the fact sheet, poster and pocket guide be withdrawn last year after Mr Noonan wrote to him in July last year, saying they misrepresented the requirements of the Fair Work Act.
A spokesman for Mr Hadgkiss said he would not comment as the matter was before the courts.
In the statement of agreed facts, Mr Hadgkiss admitted he had not read the fact sheet, poster or pocket guide prior to reviewing for the purpose of the current court case. Nor was he aware of their specific content.
He admitted he had not studied the right of entry amendments or the amending act but relied on media reports and commentary at the time to get an understanding of the broad nature of the amendments.
He said he “did not intend, believe or advert to the possibility” that an impression would be given that something was authorised by the Fair Work Act when it was not authorised.
However he accepted that he could reasonably have been expected to have foreseen the continued availability of the fact sheet, poster and pocket guide could give the impression the pre-2014 legal position remained.
Mr Noonan said the CFMEU has raised objections about the ABCC materials since 2014.
“For over two years, from 2014 until the CFMEU complained to the ABCC in 2016, multiple ABCC publications on right of entry laws did not accurately describe this provision, and incorrectly asserted that union officials had to comply with the employer’s wishes on the location of meetings,’’ he said.
“While the ABCC had ensured the correct legal position was known internally to its own staff, it disseminated incorrect information to the public and across the industry.”
The maximum fine faced by Mr Hadgkiss for the breach is $12,600.

Mr Hadgkiss will face a civil penalty hearing in the Federal Court tomorrow, Friday 15 September 2017.
Readers may remember that this is not the first time Mr. Hadgkiss has exceeded his brief.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2014:
ABCC deputy commissioner at the time, Hadgkiss summoned Tribe to a compulsory interrogation, which Tribe refused to attend. He risked six months in prison but a magistrate ruled that only the ABCC commissioner had the power to issue the summons and he had not lawfully delegated that power to Hadgkiss. The ruling effectively ended the ABCC's widespread use of coercive powers.

Then there is Hadgkiss’ penchant for selectively relying on the Murdoch media for his erroneous information.


https://youtu.be/VCTU066MXvc


By 13 September 2017 it became obvious that the Minister for Employment and Liberal Senator for Western Australia Michaelia Cash had decided to put a lid on the situation - possibly in the hope that nothing more concerning the ABCC entered the public domain - applied something like the 'three strikes' rule and announced that Nigel Hadgkiss was no longer employed:

Mr Nigel Hadgkiss APM has today tendered his resignation as Commissioner of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which has been accepted by the Government..............Mr Hagdkiss will serve a two week transition period to facilitate a handover of his responsibilities to an acting Commissioner.

Closing the stable door after the horse hand bolted did not save the minister from her own folly however.

It seems Senator Cash had been aware of Hadgkiss' breach of industrial relations law since October 2016 ans sat on this information.
Apparently the national electorate is to believe that she was so disinterested in her portfolio that she missed this media report published almost two month earlier.

The Australian, 22 August 2016:

The construction union claims taxpayer-funded information being handed out by the building industry watchdog is reckless and illegal.

The CFMEU on Monday began action seeking penalties in the Federal Court in Sydney against Nigel Hadgkiss, the director of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate.

The union says pocket guides and posters misrepresent the right to entry provisions of the Fair Work Act, which stipulate union officials are permitted to meet with employees in lunch sheds where other arrangements are not mutually agreed to.

Mr Hadgkiss told AAP in a statement: “It is inappropriate to comment on an action of this nature whilst the matter is before the court.”

CFMEU national construction division secretary Dave Noonan said Mr Hadgkiss should know better.

“It’s galling to think that Mr Hadgkiss, whose organisation have charged themselves with solely and doggedly policing right of entry disputes between the union and employers, would have promoted and distributed such critically false information,” Mr Noonan said in a statement.

UPDATE

The Guardian, 13 September 2017:

The government confirmed on Wednesday night that legal assistance would be provided to Nigel Hadgkiss in accordance with normal practice.
While the legal costs will be covered, a spokesman for the employment minister Michaelia Cash said Hadgkiss had “neither sought nor received any indemnification against any penalty that may be ordered by the court”.
It is possible he could apply for indemnification once the court proceedings move forward.