Showing posts with label right-wing think tank. Show all posts
Showing posts with label right-wing think tank. Show all posts

Monday, 29 January 2018

One of the IPA's unofficial attack dogs is attempting to savage the charity sector once again

The Guardian, 24 January 2018:

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission has pushed for new powers to regulate charities' "effective use of resources" under its controversial new commissioner, Gary Johns.

The charities sector is up in arms over the proposal, seen as an attempt to control how charities spend their money from a commissioner who has argued that it is not appropriate for charities to fund advocacy.

In its submission to a review of charities law, the ACNC called for two new objects: to promote "the effective use of the resources of not-for-profit entities"; and to "enhance the accountability of not-for-profit entities to donors, beneficiaries and the public".

The ACNC's objects now are to maintain public trust in and the independence of the sector and to promote the reduction of "unnecessary regulatory obligations" for charities.

The commission argued the expanded scope was "appropriate" because "the maintenance and promotion of the effectiveness and sustainability of the not-for-profit sector" was already a factor the commissioner must consider when making decisions.

It said the new objects should come with additional powers, functions and resources.

The Community Council for Australia's chief executive, David Crosbie, said the proposed objectives were "incredibly disappointing" and amounted to a "bizarre overreach" from the regulator.

He said there was "no explanation" of how the ACNC would measure an "effective use of resources".

"It's not the role of a government regulator which may not agree with a particular charity's approach – it's absurd that should tell them how to use their resources," he said.

"As long as charities are meeting their statutory requirements and fulfilling their charitable purpose it is not up to the regulator."
He added: "The use of resources is best left up to charities, the communities they serve and their own governance structures."

Johns was a Labor minister under the Keating government and a former head of NGOWatch at the Institute for Public Affairs. After his appointment in December, Johns said when people gave to charities they expected that "most of [the donation] will be used for the charitable purpose … [and that] the work that is undertaken on behalf of a donor works". He promised to bring those matters "to the fore" in his work at the ACNC.

In 2014 Johns argued that the government should remove advocacy as a charitable purpose to "deny charity status to the enemies of progress", citing the fact the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland advocates against coal mining.

In his 2014 book The Charity Ball, he said advocacy was of "doubtful public benefit". He criticised larger charities "whose service delivery is heavily weighted towards advocacy, research, campaigning and lobbying", including World Vision Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Amnesty International Australia.

Crosbie said Johns' public statements demonstrated that he believed "charities should not be advocating for extra funding from government".
He suggested that advocacy for more housing for homeless people and spending on mental health services were examples of activities that could come under attack.

Crosbie, who served on the ACNC's advisory board for more than three years, said the original objects had been developed after thorough consultation and "not once" had stakeholders suggested adding the new objectives in the ACNC submission.

Labor's charities spokesman, Andrew Leigh, accused the government of an "ongoing war on charities" and said it was "worrying that the new commissioner's first actions have already put the sector offside".

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Cashless Welfare Card: a denizen of Mount Olympus pontificates on the ignorant masses below

This was Dr Jeremy Sammut (left) from the Centre for Independent Studies giving his views on the ignorant underclass, Friday, 8 September 2017:

It’s a libertarian fantasy that the problem of welfare dependence can be addressed without using the power of the state to compel responsible personal behaviour.

State compulsion, for example, is essential to enforce mutual obligation requirements and force the unemployed to actively seek a job, instead of continuing to loaf on the dole.

My research on the nation’s child protection crisis has sharply revealed the social damage wreaked by unrestricted welfare and parental bad behaviour among an underclass of dysfunctional families.

I therefore have no problem with the idea that welfare recipients could be compelled to take better care of children by being forced to spend their benefits on food and other essentials, rather than on drink, drugs, and gambling.

This is how we should view the debate about the federal government’s plan to expand the trial of the ‘cashless welfare card’ — as a means of addressing the intergenerational transfer of dysfunction and dependence within families.

In philosophical terms, the cashless welfare card is an example of ‘small government conservatism‘: a socially conservative approach to social policy which — contrary to the conventional political wisdom — utilises state intervention to reduce the size of government.

This position may be difficult to accept for economic liberals who place a premium on individual freedom and freedom from government control.

However, it is impossible to deal with the issue of welfare dependence by simply applying the first principle that government should always do less.

As former Labor Minister and social commentator Gary Johns has argued, it is crucial to continue to make the economic case for freedom from state intervention.

But as he has also rightly argued, this is insufficient to address the social problems that have driven growth in the size of government.

Addressing welfare dependence will require more, not less, state intervention through policies such as mutual obligation and cashless welfare.

Yes, according to Dr Sammut (blessed with an expensive private education and a PhD in  Australian political and social history) it’s all about the children and the chronically welfare dependent underclass.

Except the Turnbull Government intends to roll the cashless debit card out nationally for individuals without children, people with significant disabilities, full-time carers of elderly parents, even those who have been on unemployment benefits for less than less than a month, as well as individuals who have regular employment but receive Family Tax Benefit.

It is likely that sometime in the future the Turnbull Government will announce that this cashless welfare card will also be imposed on age pensioners.

In addition Dr Sammut espouses the theory that:

Yes, you are reading that sentence correctly. According to this man individuals and families have only themselves to blame for their poverty or disadvantage – end of story.

Jeremy Sammut is the type of commentator that the Liberal Party dreams about having on side.

On his Facebook page Sammut lists the following among his favourites:

No prizes for spotting the preponderance of right-wing politicians.

Last year Sammut was telling the world it was an exciting time to be an Australian conservative – a category into which he obviously placed himself.

After reading a bit about the man and his attitude, all I can say is that if this attitude continues to hold sway at federal policy level I don’t think it going to be an exciting time to be an Australian who is receiving welfare benefits of any type, is in a low-skilled, low income job, a single parent raising a child or an indigenous family.

Because to people like Jeremy Sammut literally millions of Australian citizens are part of an undeserving, dysfunctional underclass that is to be barely tolerated.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

What exactly is the Institute of Public Affairs Limited and why is it always in our faces?

What exactly is the Institute of Public Affairs Limited and why is it always in our faces?

Because this question comes up from time to time, here is a brief history of what is essentially an aggressive right-wing lobby group heavily influencing the Liberal Party. 

The Institute of Public Affairs Limited (IPA) is a Melbourne-based, right wing ‘free market think tank’ that was formed in 1943 by members of the business community allegedly for philanthropic purposes, however it only registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission on 10 June 1987. It pays no tax.

The IPA says of itself that since its inception it has been at the forefront of the political and policy debate, defining the contemporary political landscape.

It also declares that it supports the free market of ideas, the free flow of capital, a limited and efficient government, evidence-based public policy, the rule of law, and representative democracy

The Liberal Party of Australia was founded in 1944 by then United Australia Party (UAP) Leader of the Opposition Robert Gordon Menzies.

From its earliest beginnings IPA appears to have had close ties with the Liberal Party which continue to this day, with Liberal Party IPA members in the Australian Parliament. James Paterson (former IPA Deputy Executive Director) was picked to fill a Liberal Party senate vacancy and Tim Wilson (former IPA Director of Climate Change Policy and the Intellectual Property and Free Trade Unit) is the Liberal MP for Goldstein.

Other IPA members were also elected to federal parliament – Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm is in the Senate as was Family First’s Bob Day until November 2016.

Independent Australia reported on  April 2016:  

On his elevation to the senate Paterson emailed a letter to all IPA members in which he said, “I want you to know that I’m going to the Senate to fight for exactly the same things I have in my time at the IPA. I know if I ever fail to do so that IPA members will be the first to let me know where I have gone wrong!”.....

A second telling example concerns the response to the refusal in August 2014 to repeal race hate laws. As reported by Latika Burke in the Age (7/8/14) John Roskam said the IPA had “been contacted by many IPA members who are also Liberal Party members who have said they will resign their membership from the Liberal Party over this broken promise from the government,…”

It was also reported that Tony Abbott had phoned Andrew Bolt and John Roskam to inform them of the government’s decision. So Liberal party members apparently go to the IPA before protesting to their own MPs.

According to Source Watch IPA membership was originally restricted to no more than fifty-four people. However by 2009 this number had risen to 778 and now stands at 3,473 members.

For an organisation with such a relatively small membership it has an inordinately loud voice and, in its last published annual report in 2014-15 bragged that the IPA was mentioned 81 times in federal parliament, made 762 appearances in print media, 411 appearance on radio and 184 on television.

This particular annual report states that: IPA research and analysis is featured in the national media on average more than three times each day.

IPA annual revenue has been listed in the millions since at least 2008-09 and at 30 June 2015 revenue was listed as $3.4 million – with 60% coming from individuals, 20% from businesses, 18% from foundations and 2% listed as other. The organisation’s expenses at 30 June 2015 were recorded as $3 million.

A number of its donors are exceedingly generous – 64 of these unidentified donors gave between $5,000 and $49,999 each in 2014-15 with a further 15 giving $50,000+ each.

The IPA was endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) from 30 Mar 2006 and according to ABC News in February 2012:

In order for the IPA to become a DGR it had to apply to the Secretary of what is now the Federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research giving various undertakings.
Most importantly, it had to undertake to use all tax-deductible donations exclusively for scientific research, more particularly, "scientific research which is, or may prove to be, of value to Australia". In this context, the authorities have ruled that "scientific research" includes social scientific research.
The IPA also had to undertake to create a separate bank account into which all tax-deductible gifts must be deposited. The Institute's financial statements show that it keeps some of its cash in an account called "NAB Research Account". On June 30, 2010 it held $385,647.
It must also ensure that all disbursements from this research account are evaluated and approved by "a suitably qualified research committee" of at least five members, the majority of whom are appropriately qualified in the field of research that is to be undertaken or have appropriate experience in reviewing research, and who should be nominated on the basis of their "proven ability to direct a research program". As far as I can tell, the IPA has not made public the membership of its research committee.
The rules state explicitly that tax-deductible funds may not be used for "the organisation of conferences, congresses and symposia and the publication of information (other than the results of the ARI's own research work, undertaken through this program)."
All of this raises the question of whether donations to the IPA for which the donor has claimed a tax deduction are being used in compliance with the law.

The last published mention of an IPA Research Committee in 2013-14 included Professor Bob Carter, Professor Greg Craven, Dr Tim Duncan, Dr Michael Folie, Professor John Freebairn, Dr Scott Prasser and Dr Tom Quirk as committee members. So called ‘scientific’ research undertaken appears to be primarily related to its own policy platforms, including climate change denial.

Peta Credlin was allegedly an IPA staffer at one time.

Because the IPA keeps its membership list extremely private one can only speculate on its contents, however some donors, members and/or supporters have come to light over the years. These are: international media mogul Rupert Murdoch on the IPA Council from 1986 to 2000, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, columnist Andrew Bolt, former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott, former Liberal prime minister John HowardExxon, Shell, CaltexBHP-Billiton, Western Mining Corporation, Murray Irrigation Limited, Monsanto, Woodside Petroleum, Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco.

The IPA has been attacking the idea of public broadcasting for years:

The IPA apparently looks favourably on U.S. president-elect Donald J. Trump. Its current Adjunct Fellow Georgina Downer (daughter of former Liberal minister and present Australian Ambassador to the Court of St. James Alexander Downer) stating: Donald Trump's historic victory represents a huge opportunity for middle America. It is a rejection of liberal internationalism, political correctness and the progressive politics of urban elites in favour of traditional American values - love of country, family and, for many, faith. Like Brexit, it heralds a return to the pre-eminence of the nation state, of national sovereignty and democracy.

Known IPA policies in August 2012:

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don't replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5 Abandon Australia's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
6 Repeal the renewable energy target
7 Return income taxing powers to the states
8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
12 Repeal the National Curriculum
13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be 'balanced'
16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations
18 Eliminate family tax benefits
19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20 Means-test Medicare
21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
22 Introduce voluntary voting
23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations
24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
25 End public funding to political parties
26 Remove anti-dumping laws
27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions
28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30 Cease subsidising the car industry
31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
41 Repeal the alcopops tax
42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams
43 Repeal the mining tax
44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
47 Cease funding the Australia Network
48 Privatise Australia Post
49 Privatise Medibank
50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51 Privatise SBS
52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
53 Repeal the Fair Work Act
54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
56 Abolish the Baby Bonus
57 Abolish the First Home Owners' Grant
58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
67 Means test tertiary student loans 
68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising
71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
72 Privatise the CSIRO
73 Defund Harmony Day
74 Close the Office for Youth
75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

A further 25 IPA ideas to shape Australia can be found here.

Founding Board 1943:

Sir G.J. Coles CBE, H.G. Darling, G.H. Grimwade, H.R. Harper, W.A. Ince, C.D. Kemp, F.E. Lampe MBE, Sir Walter Massy-Greene (former Nationalist Party senator and former Menzies UAP Government appointee to the Treasury Finance Committee), Sir L.J. McConnan KB, C.N. McKay, W.E. McPherson, Sir Keith Murdoch, Sir Ian Potter, The Hon. A.G. Warner (later Minister in Victorian Liberal-Country Party Government).

Current IPA Board:

John Roskam, Executive Director, member of the Liberal Party of Australia, former Manager of Government and Corporate Affairs for Rio Tinto Group
Rod Kemp, Chairman, former Liberal Party senator and son of IPA co-founder
Janet Albrechtsen, Director, News Corp journalist
Harold Clough, Director, Liberal party donor
Tim Duncan, Director, former Liberal party media adviser, former Head of Australian External Affairs at Rio Tinto
Michael Folie, Director, former Shell Australia director and former Deputy Chairman of InterOil Corporation
Michael Hickinbotham, Director, South Australian property developer and Liberal Party supporter/donor
Geoff Hone, Director, lawyer specialising in company law
Rod Menzies, Director, multi-millionaire, Executive Chairman Menzies International (Aust) Pty Ltd 
William Morgan, Director,
Maurice O'Shannassy, Director, Managing Director and Co-Chief Investment Officer at BlackRock Investment Management (Australia) Limited, Chairman MWH Capital Pty Ltd

Current staff:

Darcy Allen, Research Fellow
Richard Allsop, Senior Fellow
Morgan Begg, Researcher and Editor, FreedomWatch
Chris Berg, Senior Fellow
Simon Breheny, Director of Policy
Sinclair Davidson, Senior Research Fellow
Stephanie Forrest, Research Scholar, Foundations of Western Civilisation Program
Father James Grant, Adjunct Fellow
Peter Gregory, Research Fellow
Brett Hogan, Director of Research
John Hyde, Emeritus Fellow
Scott Hargreaves, Senior Fellow
Aaron Lane, Legal Fellow
Jennifer Marohasy, Senior Fellow
Mikayla Novak, Adjunct Fellow
Jason Potts, Adjunct Fellow
Tom Switzer, Adjunct Fellow
James Bolt, Digital Communications Manager
Rachel Guy, Development Coordinator
Nina Lohanatha, Administrative Assistant
Andrew Poon, Director, Finance and Administration
Anniessa Putri, Finance Assistant
Sarah Wilson, Membership and Special Events Coordinator
Matthew Lesh, Research Fellow, Future of Freedom Program
Andrew Bushnell
Bella d'Abrera, Director, Future of Freedom
Daniel Wild
Evan Mulholland, Media and Communications Manager
Georgina Downer, Adjunct Fellow
Michael Husek

Staff in 2013-14:

Dr John Abbot—Senior Fellow, Darcy Allen—Research Fellow, Dr Richard Allsop—Senior Fellow, Morgan Begg—Editor, FreedomWatch, Chris Berg—Senior Fellow, James Bolt—Communications Coordinator, Simon Breheny—Director, Legal Rights Project, Professor Bob Carter—Emeritus Fellow, Professor Sinclair Davidson—Senior Fellow, Stephanie Forrest—Research Scholar, Father James Grant—Adjunct Fellow, Peter Gregory—Research Fellow, Rachel Guy—Development Manager, Brett Hogan—Director, Energy and Innovation Policy, John Hyde—Emeritus Fellow, Nick Jarman—Development Associate, Aline Le Guen—Editor, IPA Review, Nina Lohanatha—Administrative Assistant, Dr Jennifer Marohasy—Senior Fellow, Dr Mikayla Novak—Senior Fellow, Hannah Pandel—Research Fellow, James Paterson—Deputy Executive Director, Rob Phayer—Internal Systems Manager, Andy Poon—Director, Finance and Administration, Professor Jason Potts—Adjunct Fellow, Martin Proctor—Campus Coordinator, Anniessa Putri—Finance Assistant, Tom Switzer—Adjunct Fellow, Henry Travers—Multimedia Coordinator, Sasha Uher—Campus Coordinator, Sarah Wilson—Membership Coordinator.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Former Australian defence minister Kevin Andrews skips first week of parliament to address Koch Brothers' funded U.S. Heritage Foundation event

Former prime minister Tony Abbott was a guest speaker at an Alliance Defending Freedom dinner on 28 January 2016 and now his political ally former defence minister Kevin Andrews is scheduled to deliver a speech at a Heritage Foundation event being held in the Allison Auditorium, Washington DC.

This speech can be watched live online from 3am AEDT (Sydney) on 3 February 2016 at .

Like Alliance Defending Freedom, the Heritage Foundation is a far-right American organisation which seeks to influence federal and state elections, as well as politicians and government policy.

It is a pro-gun, pro-coal, pro-deregulation, anti-universal health care, anti-gay marriage, free market advocate with an online magazine at It appears to see religion and traditional morality as playing a significant role in American public life.

This foundation has documented links to the Koch Brothers – two oil billionaires who are alleged to have significantly bankrolled the Republican Party for years and are often characterized as being in the business of buying politicians.

Ties to the Koch Brothers
The Heritage Foundation has received funding from organizations with connections to the Koch brothers. In 2012, the Heritage Foundation received $650,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, which was one of the Koch Family Foundations before it closed in 2013. The Lambe Foundation contributed at least $4.8 million to the Heritage Foundation between 1998 and 2012.
In recent years, the Heritage Foundation has also received funding from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, including $53,300 in 2010 and $69,850 in 2012. The Koch brothers have donated millions of dollars to Donors Trust through the Knowledge and Progress Fund, and possibly other vehicles. [SourceWatch, Koch Wiki]

Andrews has a long history with the Heritage Foundation going back until at least 2009 and he is described on its website as being from The Heritage Foundation.

After the Heritage Foundation event Kevin Andrews is not jetting straight home to represent his electorate for what remains of the first week of 2016 parliamentary sittings. He will remain in Washington for the 63rd National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday at which the US president traditionally speaks.

Because it appears that invited guests have to purchase a ticket to prayer breakfast events, I will be looking closely at the Member for Menzies next claim for expense reimbursement, as I can see no reason why Australian taxpayers should be paying for his personal religious junket.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

If it looks like a Lavoisier, walks like a Lavoisier, talks like a Lavoisier - is it a Lavoisier?

Self-made millionaire Maurice Lionel Newman is well-known as one of the founding board members of the neo-con think tank, the Centre For Independent Studies (CIS) and a member of the ultra conservative Mont Pelerin Society (MPS).

However, The Guardian on 28 October 2014 indicates that his views may have veered even further to the right than the CIS and MPS:

Tony Abbott’s top business adviser, Maurice Newman, has lashed out at the UN response to the Ebola outbreak and labelled the world body a “refuge of anti-western authoritarians bent on achieving one-world government”…..
“The IPCC is an advocacy group dedicated to wealth redistribution,” he writes. “Its links to Greenpeace and WWF [World Wildlife Fund] are deep. It panders to gender balance and regional representation, not scientific excellence.”
Newman has chaired the advisory council since the group’s formation in September 2013, just days after the federal election…..

Earlier, in December 2013 The Guardian reported that Newman had:

accused the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of “dishonesty and deceit” as it focuses on “exploiting the masses and extracting more money” in a climate crusade.

While in October 2014 The Sydney Morning Herald 1 October 2014 observed:

Mr Newman questioned the way the bureau adjusts historical data, which he equates to manipulation of Australia's temperature records.

This rhetoric is suspiciously reminiscent of a far-right clutch of domestic nutters, the Lavoisier Group which apparently believe that forces of darkness control the science journals, government departments, public institutes and universities and is rabidly anti-United Nations.

This group was started by Ray Evansa former Western Mining Corporation executive who before his death this year had been a member of both the CIS and MPS.

It is looking more and more like Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is drawing his advice from individuals and organisations which have parted company with reality.  


The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2024, Maurice Newman, the million-dollar smiler

* Photograph from The Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, 20 October 2014

Welcome to the Institute of Public Affairs universe

In the modern Australia, where poverty is increasingly defined as the lack of a plasma television in an otherwise opulent home….
[Institute of Public Affairs, October 2014 occasional paper, Things are getting better all the time: A snapshot of Australian living standards in the long run]

This self-described think tank created in 1943, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), has been keenly supported by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other right-wing politicians for many years.

Perhaps its rather strange understanding of comparative poverty in Australia, explains the Abbott Government’s 2014-15 Federal Budget and its punitive moves against the poor.

The real face of poverty in this country is not the absence of a plasma television, it looks like this:

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data:

In 2011-12 there were 272,400 Australian households with incomes below $300 per week. These households contained over one million people;

There were 105,237 people who were classified as being homeless on census night in 2011(up from 89,728 in 2006);

The number of homeless people in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out on census night  was 6,813; and

In 2011 60% of homeless people were aged under 35 years, and 22% of the increase in homelessness was in the 25 to 34 years age group (up 22% to 19,311 homeless people in 2011).

In 2012 the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) revealed 2.2 million Australians were living below the poverty line.

Nearly 2 million people rely on some form of food aid each year and approximately half of them are children.

The underemployment rate in Australian in 2013 was 7.5 per cent.

Even with factors that affect labour force outcomes being the same, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people are still twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to be unemployed.

Australia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.1 per cent in September 2014.

Since January 2003 unemployment benefits have been below the Henderson Poverty Line, with a single adult of working age falling $196.02 short according to The Australia Institute
Calculations by The Australia Institute based on Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, Poverty Lines: Australia (various issues), and Australian Government (2014) Guide to Social Security Law.
In 2013-2014 1 in 8 Australians couldn’t afford to pay their electricity bills.

The Echo Netdaily reported on 1 October 2014 that one in three elderly Australians are living in poverty, despite being among the most highly educated senior citizens in the world.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, your new "Freedom Commissioner" Tim Wilson

The Abbott Government lurches from one bad ideological decision to another.

This time it is Australian Attorney-General George Brandis’ appointment of Tim Wilson as a new Human Rights Commissioner aka Freedom Commissioner - reportedly a $325,000-a-year position.

Mr. Wilson will be joining the Human Rights Commission as its seventh commissioner and, is already known to be particularly concerned to support Liberal approaches to freedom of speech.

It is reported that he resigned from the IPA and also from the Liberal Party in the wake of his appointment this week by Attorney-General George Brandis.

This controversial stance hints at stormy waters ahead.

The Australian 18 December 2013:

The commission's president Gillian Triggs today warned Mr Wilson, who was hand-picked by Attorney-General George Brandis, that the commission must speak with one voice and be independent of government.
She said Mr Wilson, a former Liberal Party member and Institute of Public Affairs chief, would bring "fresh air'' to the body as one of seven human rights commissioners.
"But I think it must be stressed that ultimately ... we have ultimately to agree on a single policy,'' she told ABC radio.
Mr Wilson believes section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prevents people from being offended or insulted on the grounds of race, should be "unambiguously repealed''.
"I have been appointed to the role with the full knowledge of my view and I expect a reasonable accommodation of those views with respect to what the commission's position is,'' he told The Australian.
But Professor Triggs said section 18C of the Act should be "tweaked'' rather than abolished.
"We have a legal obligation internationally and under the treaties to implement legislation that protects people from racial vilification in public. That is all 18C purports to do,'' she said.
"Of course it is possible to tweak it, to amend it, to take language out and to put new language in that strengthens it - all of that we of course fully support as a matter of law.''
She said the Human Rights Commission "isn't a place for party political rhetoric'', and must be independent of government.
"We are not here to give effect to government policy as such, we are here to monitor compliance by Australia with its international obligations to human rights,'' Professor Triggs said.
Senator Brandis has promised to repeal or amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act so speech that is found to be offensive and insulting is no longer defined as racial vilification.
The move will change the definition of racial vilification to eliminate at least two of the grounds that were used in a court ruling against Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt over articles about light-skinned Aboriginal people.
Professor Triggs said: "My understanding is that the Attorney is consulting and he will make up his own mind whether he decides to keep the provision and amend it, which we think is probably the better outcome.''
But Mr Wilson said the section represented an unjustifiable limit on free speech and should be struck out entirely.
"Obviously I have a very strong and different view, and I am planning to prosecute that within the commission,'' he said....

Then there is this previous anti-free speech/anti-political comment stance by Mr. Wilson on his own Twitter account in October 2011.

Click on all images to enlarge

As well as the fact he appears to be a stalking horse for the Institute of Public Affairs in its efforts to completely abolish the Human Rights Commission.

Freedom Watch IPA 17 December 2013:

The Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs, John Roskam, welcomed today’s announcement by the Commonwealth Attorney-General, George Brandis that Tim Wilson, Policy Director at the IPA, will be Australia’s next Human Rights Commissioner.
“Tim Wilson is a proud, passionate, and uncompromising voice for a classical liberal approach to human rights. Australia needs his voice in public debate now more than ever,” John Roskam said.
“Tim Wilson’s appointment offers the Australian Human Rights Commission an opportunity to prove it can do something which it has so far failed to do, namely defend the human rights of individuals against attacks on those rights by the state.”
“Fundamental human rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association have been under attack in Australia by federal and state governments and the Human Rights Commission has stood silent. The Gillard government’s so-called ‘anti-discrimination’ law is an example of how instead of defending human rights the Commission was a willing accessory in attempts to expand government control over what Australians can say and hear and do.”
“The Gillard government’s ‘anti-discrimination’ law would have made it unlawful to express a political opinion that offended someone. That law also reversed the onus of proof, and removed the right to legal representation of people accused of breaking the law. Instead of condemning the law, the Human Rights Commission said this assault on human rights didn’t go far enough.
“The Commission has also said nothing about the erosion of farmers’ property rights by native vegetation laws. Likewise the Commission was missing in action when Stephen Conroy proposed to take away freedom of the press and when he tried to censor the internet.”
“The IPA has called for the Commission to be abolished, or at the very least, for Freedom Commissioners to be appointed to balance the four existing Anti-Discrimination Commissioners.”
“Tim has been an outstanding advocate for freedom in the seven years he has been at the IPA. The Board and staff congratulate him on his appointment and wish him well on taking up this important role at a time when human rights need to be defended,” said Mr Roskam.
The IPA will soon release a major report on those provisions in Commonwealth laws which undermine fundamental legal rights such as the right to silence, the presumption of innocence, and the right to natural justice.
For further information and comment: John Roskam, Executive Director, Institute of Public Affairs, 0415 475 673,

Our new Human Rights Commissioner is also not backward in flaunting to the world his liking for liquor and his apparent penchant for drinking alone........


The Sydney Morning Herald 21 December 2013:

Alone among the seven commissioners of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Tim Wilson never had to apply for the job. He never had to sit for an interview, be screened by an expert panel, or undergo the rigorous weeks-long selection process that applied to the others.
Instead, Attorney-General George Brandis rang him up a couple of weeks ago and asked if he was interested. He took 24 hours to think about it and consult his partner Ryan, (a Melbourne primary school teacher) before saying yes. By Monday it was official, and the twitterverse went into meltdown. So hasty was the cabinet appointment, the formalities of submitting it to the Governor-General will not be conducted until early next year.
Wilson, 33, says he was shocked to discover what he'll earn in his new job - more than $320,000 a year, close to the $340,000 paid to a federal court judge. Even John Roskam, head of the right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs - from which Wilson was plucked - finds the amount ''obscene'', though he extols the virtues of his former employee.
''I think it's most appropriate that Tim is there,'' Roskam said this week. ''[The IPA] still think the Human Rights Commission should be abolished, but if it is going to exist, you want people with a range of life and political experiences.''....

The Sydney Morning Herald 23 December 2013:

Tim Wilson's appointment as human rights commissioner could lead to cuts to a program on school bullying as the Australian Human Rights Commission accommodates his six-figure salary without any extra funding from the government.
The incoming human rights commissioner, who is due to take up his position in February, will be paid about $320,000 - a sum equal to that of his fellow commissioners, though less than the commission's president, Gillian Triggs.
On Sunday, Professor Triggs said Mr Wilson's salary would have to come out of the commission's annual budget of about $25 million.
''This really does squeeze the commission,'' she said.
Professor Triggs said she and the other commissioners would meet in January to decide where cuts would come from to make room for Mr Wilson's salary but suggested an anti-bullying program and a program on education for older Australians might be in the firing line.
She said that an inquiry into asylum seeker children held in detention would still go ahead.
The commission had not anticipated it would have to pay Mr Wilson's salary as new appointees usually came with extra federal government funding, a spokesman said. The commission also had no funding set aside for the position as it has recently been filled by commissioners also performing another role.