Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Berejiklian Government still refusing to meet with Murwillumbah community to discuss forced school closures


Office of NSW Labor Member for Lismore, 27 November 2020:




The Liberals and Nationals have refused to front up to the Murwillumbah community and halt their forced school closures.

Gladys Berejiklian, John Barilaro and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell have been in witness protection since their bombshell announcement to force four Murwillumbah schools to close in favour of an American-style mega-school.    

Shadow Education Minister Prue Car, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin and Richmond MP Justine Elliot are holding a community forum today to hear the concerns of local families and teachers.

The Liberals’ and Nationals’ forced closures of Murwillumbah Public School, Murwillumbah East Public School and Wollumbin High School will see the end of beloved community schools, with the replacement being an American-style mega-school at Murwillumbah High School.
The forced closure of Murwillumbah East Public School breaks a key election promise the Liberals and Nationals made to upgrade the school.
Ms Car said, “These forced school closures were approved in secret, with no community consultation, and now the Premier and Minister refuse to speak to the community.”

The Liberals and Nationals are refusing to ask North Coast families the most important question: do they want school closures in exchange for an American-style mega-school? They’re not asking the question because they know the answer would be no.

Unfortunately, the Liberals and Nationals are forcing these closures anyway because the views of local communities couldn’t matter less to them,” Ms Car said.

Ms Saffin said, “So far, the Government has not provided the community with a good reason for the closure, especially the educational advantage for the children, which lead people to think that it is about selling off this prime real estate land.”

Given the NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell was less than truthful with the Murwillumbah East Public School community about restoration following the 2017 flood damage, it is hard to have faith in what the Government wants to do.”

The Minister signed off on this schools closure in February this year. There must be more documents that talk about the plan for the prime real estate land where these three schools slated for closure are located.”

I demand all papers to be released, as our community deserve to know the truth about all of this,” Ms Saffin said.

Ms Elliot said, “This is a bad decision by a bad government. These secret school closures are a shameful act by the Liberals and Nationals – they’re selling out our children and selling out our community”


The North Coast Nationals MPs have been plotting for months to forcibly close four local schools, cram students into one location and sell the other school sites. Our community wants the NSW Government to scrap this bad decision.”

Calls to halt new logging in bushfire impacted areas in New South Wales are not going away


Matters are not going exactly to plan for NSW Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales and Nationals MP for Monaro, John 'Barracuda' Barilaro.

With only another four weeks to the end of 2020 his timetable for legislative and regulatory changes, allowing farmers and developers to commence virtually unregulated clearing of native trees and vegetation before state parliament and local government return from the two-month holiday break, is now seriously behind schedule.

Neither mainstream nor social media has let go of the idea that it is environmentally destructive to be logging already bushfire-impacted forests and clearing what remains of koala food and shelter trees in the face of a looming extinction crisis and increasing climate change.

And when it comes to the Premier, despite his best efforts Barilaro hasn't managed to weaken her enough to cause a parliamentary leadership challenge in the NSW Liberal Party.

He is not yet the kingmaker he so obviously wants to be, even though he is casting less than subtle hints across the paths of journalists that Gladys Berejiklian is off her game, tired, making mistakes and that "A break would do her good" .

These are two examples of regional and national media articles published last Friday.....

Echo NetDaily, 27 November 2020:

More than 60 per cent of North Coast forests and 80 per cent of South Coast forests were burnt in the 2019–20 black summer fires. Since that point issues around the management and logging of these and other forests have been highlighted and ‘the Guardian has revealed that the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will likely be engaged to conduct a review to “consider the standards that should be in place for forestry operations after bushfires.”,’ said Independent NSW MLC Justin Field.

Mr Field has called on the NSW government to give an undertaking to NSW coastal communities that new approvals for logging in the state’s badly burnt public state forests will not be approved until a review by the state’s Independent NRC is completed.

It’s one year to the week since the devastating Currowan fire took hold on the South Coast. The community always understood business as usual wasn’t possible after the fires but the politics has been slow to move and a lot of damage has been done,’ said Mr Field.

This review is a political fix to try to find a circuit breaker in what has been an escalating public conflict between John Barilaro’s department and the NSW EPA. The NRC are effectively being asked to be the arbiter in this disagreement.

Logging breaches

In part this review is in response to numerous EPA stop-work orders and investigations into breaches by Forestry Corporation under the burnt forest logging rules.

I am seeking an undertaking from the Government that new approvals for logging in bushfire affected forests will not be granted until we’ve seen the outcome of the review,’ Mr Field said.

The review comes after a public dispute between Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s Department of Regional NSW and the NSW Environment Protection Authority over the ‘site specific operating conditions’ the EPA had put in place to minimise environmental damage of burnt forest logging,’ says Mr Field.

The dispute had led to the EPA warning Forestry Corporation that plans to move back to logging under pre-fire conditions would likely breach the NSW Forestry Act which requires ecologically sustainable forest management practices. ‘

Local Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith told Echonetdaily that, ‘The Greens oppose logging in native forests on a good day, let alone after catastrophic bushfires and the subsequent destruction of wildlife and biodiversity on an unprecedented scale in NSW last summer.

I and thousands of environmentalists begged the government to send in ecologists after the fires last summer not loggers, but they did any way.

The idea that with 1.7 degrees of global warming already locked in that logging of native forests is even on the table is the kind of environmental vandalism that future generations will study as pivotal to sealing a fate of extinction for koalas and platypus and countless other species,’ said Ms Smith…...

The Guardian, 27 November 2020: 

NSW’s EPA has issued stop-work orders to the state-owned Forestry Corporation for breaches 
of its licence in bushfire-hit forests on the north and south coasts. 
Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The New South Wales government is planning a review of forestry operations in bushfire-hit coastal regions as tensions mount between the environment regulator and Forestry Corporation. 

The review, which is still to be formally commissioned, will probably be carried out by the state’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC), government sources have told Guardian Australia. 

The state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued the state-owned Forestry Corporation with a series of stop-work orders this year for breaches of its licence in bushfire-hit forests on the south and north coasts. 

Last month, the EPA started five prosecutions against Forestry Corporation in the land and environment court for alleged breaches of its licence in a forest near Coffs Harbour. 

Because of the destruction caused by the bushfires, the EPA had set stricter standards for logging operations covered by the coastal integrated forestry operations approval (IFOA). 

The EPA’s application of the post-bushfire rules has frustrated the industry and the Department of Regional NSW wrote to the agency in September to say forestry believed environmental protections set out in its approval remained adequate after the fires. 

But MPs and residents of coastal NSW have been dismayed at the logging of fire-affected habitat given the scale of disaster and its effect on threatened plants and animals, including koalas. 

The planned review will consider the standards that should be in place for forestry operations after bushfires and try to chart a path back to the use of the coastal IFOA. 

The NRC provides independent advice to government and was the agency that delivered the report on the Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan, which found the riverine system was in crisis. 

The independent MP, Justin Field, who is based on the south coast, asked the forestry minister, John Barilaro, about the “now-public dispute” between the EPA and regional NSW and what the government was doing to ensure forestry operations were ecologically sustainable. 

Field told Guardian Australia the NRC “will effectively be the arbiter in the disagreement between Forestry Corporation and the EPA over what logging could sustainably happen in burnt forest”. 

“This is in response to numerous EPA stop-work orders and investigations into breaches under the burnt forest logging rules,” he said. 

“I welcome this review. The public has recommended that business as usual after the fires is not possible.” 

He said an independent assessment of the impact of logging on burnt forest and wood supply was appropriate. 

“I hope this leads to a conversation about a transition away from public native forestry to plantations and private land forestry.” A spokesman for Barilaro would not confirm a formal review......

Monday, 30 November 2020

Meet John Barilaro - Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional News South Wales and property developer


ABC News, 11 September 2020

The NSW Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales and National Party MP for Monaro since 2011 (shown left) - who formerly worked in the family business manufacturing timber products and who went on to become a property developer in his own right - has some questions to answer.

Starting with this……..

The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 November 2020:

The controversy centres on the demise of the Marco Polo Social Club, which for decades was a thriving social hub for Queanbeyan’s large Italian community.

John Barilaro joined the board of the Social Club in 1995, seven years after his father, Domenico Barilaro, who died earlier this year.

The Barilaros were both directors of the Social Club in 1996 when it sold its clubhouse for $300,000 to Monaro Properties Pty Ltd.

John Barilaro was Monaro Properties’ secretary and Domenico Barilaro was one of its directors at the time. The pair also purchased shares in Monaro Properties six months after it acquired the clubhouse.

The Social Club went broke in the early 2000s.

According to the minutes of a creditors’ meeting in February 2003, the social club’s administrator commented that he was “concerned that a number of company directors may have a conflict of interest in that they are also actively involved in the management of the company that owns the company’s trading premises”.

The club’s demise was publicly blamed on mounting debts, an “unforgiving fiscal market” and infighting among board members.

With the clubhouse no longer needed, Monaro Properties on-sold it for $1.025 million in mid 2004, securing the company a $700,000 windfall.

There is no evidence John Barilaro directly financially benefited, as he was no longer a shareholder or director of Monaro Properties at the time.

However Domenico Barilaro was still a director of Monaro Properties at the time

It is unclear whether Domenico Barilaro still held his shares because the company did not lodge a financial return that year.

However ASIC records show Domenico Barilaro held shares before the transaction in 2002 and afterwards in 2005 and there was no publicly available record of any change to his shareholdings.

On 26 March 2001 Giovanni (John) Domenic Barilaro MLA entered the NSW Parliament as a backbencher.

It took him a little over 5 years and 7 months to work his way up to being Leader of the Nationals in the NSW Parliament, a position which automatically made him Deputy-Premier of New South Wales, and another 1 year & 15 weeks to add Minister for Regional New South Wales to his current titles.

Like many other parliamentarians John Barilaro comes with a backstory he created and elaborated for the benefit of parliament, telling the Legislative Assembly that he had stood for election because; “I have had a gutful of a Government, led by the vocal minority, selling out our hopes and dreams; a Government that was infected by a corrupt culture, which was attacking and abandoning the virtues and qualities of this once-great State.”

Again like many other parliamentarians, Barilaro’s backstory does not quite match up with what both mainstream media articles and his voting record reveal about him.

Although he probably came closest to uttering one particular unvarnished truth when he spoke with a Fairfax-Nine journalist recently: "Barilaro has defended pork barrelling for regional seats, even dubbing himself "Pork Barilaro"...."that's what people would expect from me"

Nor are many parliamentarians quick to publicly and loudly inform the electorate of exactly what they they disclosed to Parliament concerning their financial affairs.

So voters in NSW disturbed about the Nationals push for more logging on private rural land and increased vegetation clearing on agricultural land – seen by many concerned regional residents as a crafted backdoor to increased residential development on the fringes of existing towns and villages – never realise that the Nationals Leader insisting on this landowner 'right' is himself a property developer.

This is a basic outline of his business background since entering state politics......

At the present time John Barilaro appears to jointly own five properties, including Dungowan” a 94ha rural estate he & wife purchased for est. 2 million about six years ago & industrial land he owns with his brother on which the family had operated three companies.

"Dungowan" and its very extensive grounds have been operating as a 13-bed Airbnb villa since at least August 2014. Currently it charges $1,850.00/per night per person. A fact that to date is not yet attached to Barilaro's last publicly available online Register of Disclosures by Members of the Legislative Assembly 

The 'Estate' as a business is being managed by Barilaro's wife who seems to also act as official greeter for Airbnb guests and, this property would potentially generate est. $160,000 per year for Barialaro and his wife.

Previously Barilaro was joint owner of Ryleho Pty Ltd (presumed voluntarily deregistered in January 2019) & Ryleho Home Solutions Pty Ltd (voluntarily deregistered in September 2019). The third company on site Ryleho Group Pty Ltd now owned by his brother was sent into receivership by the Australian Tax Office - presumably for non-payment of taxes - in October 2019.

All three companies were involved in manufacturing timber products.

According to the last Register of Disclosures by Members of the Legislative Assembly form he lodged for 2018-19 Barilaro also has a beneficial interests in three trusts: the J & D Barilaro Family Trust, JJDA Trust and Kotsobola Group Unit Trust.

J & D Barilaro Family Trust conducted business at a location in NSW 2620 between August 2002 and the end of December 2019 according to the Australian Business Register (ABN) website. Presumably this trust was associated with Barilaro’s 50 per cent share in Ryleho Pty Ltd.

The JJDA Trust is associated with Domale Pty Ltd in which Barilaro’s wife has been sole director and company secretary since May 2010.

The Kotsobola Group Unit Trust is associated with Kotsobola Group Pty Ltd in which John Barilaro was one of four founding directors until March 2012 when his wife became a director in his place. This company’s purpose Barilaro described in 2014 as “Property Development”.

Another “Property Development” company Barilaro and his wife were at different time directors of was Euro Partners Pty Ltd. They appear to have been shareholders along with three other individuals up to the company’s reregistration in July 2016.

Barilaro’s Member’s Disclosure forms since entering state parliament also record he had held shares in at least five racehorses of which only two were currently listed in 2019.

Scotty and Josh are riding the superannuation wrecking ball in 2020


Josh and Scotty a double act since 2018
IMAGE: The Guardian

Employers are required to fulfil their obligations under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (or under industrial agreements in many cases) to make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees.

The current statutory rate of employer compulsory superannuation contributions is scheduled to rise incrementally by 10 per cent in 2021 and reach 12 per cent in 2024.

According to the Financial Review on 15 July 2019; Politicians, public servants and academics are among the est. 2 million workers or 18 per cent of all employees who would be unaffected if a scheduled rise in the compulsory Super Guarantee from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent to 12 per cent did not occur as their existing employer superannuation contribution is already above 12 per cent.

Another est. 300,000 people, or 3 per cent of all employees are not included in the Super Guarantee as they earn less than $450 a month before tax and est. 63 per cent of these workers are female.

Add to this the reportedly 2.2 million employees who do not receive their full super entitlements because their employers unlawfully do not pay all or any employer contributions to eligible workers and, the size of the workforce who might receive a benefit from a 0.5 per cent increase in the Super Guarantee next year has shrunk to est. 8.2 million workers.

Based on full-time average adult weekly earnings in October 2020 an employer’s compulsory superannuation contribution per worker would be est. $651 per month at 9.5% in 2020 and $681 per month at 10% in 2021.

That’s an increase of $30 a month or $7.50 a week next year.

A dollar a day is not going to break either the employer or the worker and, at the end of the 2021-22 financial year there would be an extra $415 in interest payments in that worker's superannuation account – and if that worker has another 30 years before retirement that $415 dollars in interest could represent up to $29,000 more in his/her superannuation account at the end of that time period.

When one considers that an est. 98 per cent of all businesses in Australia employ 20 or less people and as that would only mean an employer contribution increase of $20 or less a day for the vast majority of employers, it is hard to see this as an unreasonable move.

After all, even the Morrison Government admits that superannuation assists middle income earners to smooth their income over their lives, and Without compulsory superannuation, middle income earners would not save enough for retirement.

However, the Abbott-Trunbull- Morrison Government does not fancy 8.2 million workers receiving an extra $30 a month in their super accounts next year.

So Josh Frydenberg is doing a good imitation of Chicken Little and screeching the sky will fall if $1 a day is added to a worker’s superannuation account in 2021. 

He bespoke a study from Treasury to back him up when it comes to not increasing the Super Guarantee this year and moving towards a policy of forcing homeowners on age pensions or retirees with little super to either sell their house or borrow against it in order to fund retirement, so that Scott Morrison can happily continue his personal war on the poor and vulnerable.

Put simply the Morrison Government is arguing that neither workers, their bosses nor the national economy can afford an increase in the amount of money which enters a worker’s superannuation for his/her financial benefit on retirement.

Quite frankly I see no real justification for that stance.

A stance that is also incredibly hypocritical given that by 2007 the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme saw newly elected federal parliamentarians receiving government compulsory contributions into their own superannuation accounts at a rate of 15.4 per cent in order to bring superannuation arrangements for parliamentarians in line with current community standards.

The lack of congruence between what federal politicians see as community standards applicable to themselves and community standards as applicable to ordinary workers is so marked that the ordinary voter has begun to notice......


Sunday, 29 November 2020

Australian Society: because there are some things about ourselves we should never forget


Inquiry in accordance with section 27(3) of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Regulation 2016, into incidents rumoured to have occurred between 2005 to 2016 and recommendations for referral to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation.

IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry P... by clarencegirl

The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 2020:

In the wake of devastating allegations about members of Australia’s SAS force serving in Afghanistan – with soldiers accused on “credible information” of unlawfully killing 39 unarmed Afghans – a predictable schism has emerged in the commentary.

On one side are those who reel in horror, shocked at the number and authoritative detail of the allegations leveled at soldiers who – as heirs of the Anzac tradition – we are culturally conditioned to think are beyond reproach.

On the other are those who either deny outright that anything appalling could have occurred or – a la the famous speech by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men – insist that things happen on the far front-lines and the rest of us have no right to criticise. It is as seductive a defence as it is outrageous – for it is following the rules of engagement which separates soldiers from a mob of murderers. But in the case of the SAS allegations, a frequent historical episode invoked to urge caution in condemnation is the court-martial and execution of Harry "Breaker" Morant 120 years ago, near the end of the Boer War…..

The line is that Morant was honourable, doing no more than following orders, and that his own trial was a travesty of justice. Now, while I pretend to no expertise in the matter of the SAS, on the matter of Morant, I write as one who recently released a book on the subject, deeply bolstered by the work of four researchers, two of whom have PhDs in history, one in military history.

And the evidence is overwhelming. Morant was indeed responsible for the worst British atrocities of the Boer War, including the shooting of an unarmed prisoner; the gunning down of four Afrikaan fighters and four Dutch commandos who had surrendered, and the shooting of a Boer farmer and his two teenage sons.

The man was a monster, but this has not prevented, particularly in recent times, an entire movement springing to life calling on Morant to receive a, get this, pardon. A pardon, for the man who didn't bother to deny murdering surrendered prisoners? Who cared so little for the law or the rules that in his famous speech in the court-martial, boasted that he “got them and shot them under Rule .303” …..

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Before and After Scummo


As of 23 November 2020 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had accrued 62 derogatory nicknames - most on social media but some travelled over to mainstream media.

After Morrison became prime minister in 2018 he employed a personal photographer at taxpayer expense and equipped his little media team with so many cameras, video recorders etc. that they almost became an expense item in the Office of Prime Minister budget.

Still his little propaganda machine cannot always protect his chosen image.

This was Morrison's latest self-promotion effort:

Morrison in COVID-19 quarantine in The Lodge
November 2020
IMAGE: Adam Taylor

And this was Scott Morrison as the global Twitter network saw him:

Morrison in COVID-19 quarantine in The Lodge
November 2020
IMAGE: @PrinPeta

Quote of the Week


“ I don’t want to believe our government is using the pandemic to shove women, especially mothers, back into the kitchen and back into financial dependence of their husbands, I really don’t. But when you put it all together, it’s hard not to reach that conclusion. Whether this is part of an ideological belief that women should be at home, looking after the kids, or just an inability to see or care about the fate of 51% of the population, the long-term consequences for the current generation of women are dire. Whether they want to think about it or not, younger women are now facing at least as high a risk of a desperately poor old age as their mothers and grandmothers did. Not thanks to Covid, but thanks to government policy.”  [Jane Caro, writing in The Guardian, 123 November 2020]