Sunday 30 June 2013

Australia picks Professor Hilary Charlesworth as ad hoc judge in ICJ Whaling in the Antarctic case (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening)

Professor Hilary Charlesworth
BA (Hons), LlB (Hons) (Melb), SJD (Harvard)
Director, Centre for International Governance and Justice, 
Professor & ARC Laureate Fellow ANU College of Asia and the Pacific 
and ANU College of Law

Court President on the first day of the International Court of Justice hearings in Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening): I note that, since the Court does not include upon the Bench a judge of Australian  nationality, Australia exercised its right under Article 31, paragraph 2, of the Statute to choose a judge ad hoc to sit in the case: it chose Ms Hilary Charlesworth.

26 June 2013 hearing:

27 June 2013 hearing:

Public perception begins to run against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott again?

Essential Vision Poll 24 June 2013:

Tony Abbott is regarded by more respondents to be arrogant (59%), intolerant (48%), narrow-minded (55%) and aggressive (51%).

Full poll results here.  

Galaxy Poll released 30 June 2013:

Full poll results here.

The weirdness and hate that is inside the Palmer United Party

A letter to the editor in the Hervey Bay Independent from former LNP MP and current PUP candidate Rob Messenger……..

We Must Make a Stand (May 30, 2013)

There will come a time when Islamic terrorists will not only be armed with meat cleavers, knives, home-made bombs and guns.
In the not to distant future, terrorists (who now live among us, sustained by our welfare payments) could be armed with modern weapons – capable of killing many innocents, with the flick of a switch.
One of the greatest risks our children face is that meat cleavers, knives, home-made bombs and guns will be replaced with sophisticated modern weapons of mass destruction – poisonous chemicals, nuclear bombs and deadly viruses.
Just as the Islamic terrorists show no hesitation, shame or remorse butchering individuals and small groups in cold blood – so too will they have no hesitation, shame or remorse, destroying our cities or suburbs with the press of a button.
How do we stop these people and protect future generations? We remember the lessons of WW2, which showed that a policy of appeasement in the face of this kind of extremist evil, will always fail.
These terrorists will never stop. Dialogue and peaceful reason has no effect on them. They kill and terrorize because we will not bow to their god and live a life ruled by their extreme religious leaders’ demands and beliefs.
The terrorists cleverly hide amongst, us. They exploit our western, Christian democratic freedoms; compassion, generosity and love of a fair go for all – to escape public condemnation.
We are now too scared of being reported to our anti-discrimination councils or branded a racist for speaking out against the terrorists’ religious and world-views.
There was a time in the 1930’s in Germany when the Nazi’s were hounded from villages in a shower of rocks and curses. There was a time when the German people could have emphatically said “No” to the Nazi’s special message of hate and crazy.
We are living in similar times and face a similar evil. And the world will suffer a similar fate as the generation of 1930’s & 40’s, if we do not loudly condemn the leaders and followers of the extremist Islamic religious ideology driving this current world madness.

Rob Messenger
Palmer United Party
Candidate for Hinkler

Hilarious quote from the North Coast's very own right-wing 'political fibber extraordinaire'

“Bruce, there is one thing I am very particular about and that is making sure I get my facts right.” {Fred Perring in a Daily Examiner letter to the editor on 24th June 2013}

Saturday 29 June 2013

The best of Tony Abbott

Quotes of the week

“On top of that, I’m entirely ready to take a shovel, dig up the press gallery and turn it into a garden for ornamental cacti. Their lack of self awareness is staggering. Who, on one hand, lectures politicians for focusing on leadership instability, while at the same time, reporting on nothing else?” {Corrine Grant over at The Hoopla on 25th June 2013}

“Since when has disrespecting a parliament, rather than respecting a parliament, been an act of loyalty? Since when is disrespecting the office of prime minister, rather than respecting the office of prime minister, seen as an act of loyalty? Since when is verballing and patronising electors, that they somehow got it wrong in 2010 rather than respecting the result, seen as an act of loyalty?” he said.
“Of course, none of these are acts of loyalty at any level. They are the acts and views of radicals. And many, too many, have fallen into this lazy world of spit and venom at the expense of nation-building and investing respectfully in our institutions that are the foundation of our democracy.” {Rob Oakeshott in The Guardian UK on 25th June 2013} 

Who would want to be a woman in the sexist snake-pit that is Australian politics?” {Araminta Wordsworth in National Post on 28th June 2013} 

"It's a very strong team ... but there is one person who I particularly want to mention. "We have a strong and credible broadband policy because the man who’s devised it, the man who will implement it virtually invented the internet in this country. Thank you so much, Malcolm Turnbull."
{Tony Abbott in 27th June 2013}

"Tony Abbott should avoid further embarrassment by not opening his mouth ever again on anything related to telecommunications. He’s had years to get it right, and he still has no clue."{Robert Merkel in LarvatusProdeo on 28 July 2013}

“Van Onselen was voicing the concerns of more than a few of Abbott’s colleagues, who fear being handed power with no mandate and no agenda.”
{Waleed Aly in The Monthly in July 2013}

Friday 28 June 2013

Two women an ocean apart on a momentous Wednesday 26 June 2013 Editorial, 27 June 2013:

Yesterday, a lone woman stood up to her (overwhelmingly male) colleagues who were trying to take away her rights and silence her voice. She stood in the legislature and spoke for women everywhere, and when she could stand no more her colleagues and the people who elected her stood with her. And at least yesterday, she was triumphant.

She is Wendy Davis, a Texas state Senator, who filibustered a bill that would effectively outlaw abortion in Texas. When her 13-hour filibuster ended 11 minutes before the crucial midnight deadline, others took up the torch, shouting down a vote, and preserving women's right to choose -- until Texas Governor Rick Perry called for another special legislative session to pass the bill.

Yesterday, in Australia, our first female prime minister stood up to her male colleagues who were trying to silence her voice. She stood and called their bluff, and she said she was not going down without a fight. But then, when she could stand no more, her colleagues and her friends spoke for a man with a blue tie instead. And while a few remained loyal to her, it wasn't enough. In her final speech as prime minister, she took to the podium alone.

"What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that, and I am proud of that," she said. And no one stood with her at all.

* Photographs from Google Images

Portrait of a man you don't want your daughter, sister, aunt, mother to meet

Kickstarter’s full public apology and take down notice of 21 June 2013 here.


Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.
Second, the project page has been removed from Kickstarter. The project has no place on our site. For transparency’s sake, a record of the page is cached here.
Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.
Fourth, today Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.

Thursday 27 June 2013

A quick turn around Twitter after the Australian leadership spill

Nationals MP For Clarence Chris Gulaptis' weak-kneed response to the over 10,000 strong Northern Rivers 'No CSG' petition

The Northern Star 20 June 2013:

A PETITION of more than 10,000 signatures from Northern Rivers residents will be read to the NSW parliament today asking for the cancellation of all existing unconventional gas exploration licences in the region.
Greens MP Jamie Parker will read it.
"The people of this region will do what it takes to protect themselves from the gas invasion, but with this petition we are giving the government a chance to respect local democracy and do the right thing by the region," regional co-ordinator of Lock the Gate Northern Rivers, Ian Gaillard said.

Later that same day in the NSW Parliament, the Member for Clarence fails again to adequately represent his electorate in the short 21 minute period during which the O'Farrell Government played politics with the petition rather than discuss the issues:

Mr CHRISTOPHER GULAPTIS (Clarence) [4.40 p.m.]: Coal seam gas is a big issue in the Northern Rivers and in my electorate. I am neither for nor against coal seam gas. My position, and that of The Nationals, is that we have to regulate the industry to ensure that it does not impact on our land or water. In New South Wales, 1.1 million rely on gas as a source of energy. We have a responsibility to ensure that those people  can access gas at a fair price without compromising our environment. That is the approach the Government has taken. I am somewhat confused about the approach of The Greens and the former Labor Government on this matter. One minute they are for it and the next minute they are against it; one part of the party is for it and the other part of the party is against it. They have more positions on this issue than there are in the Kama Sutra....

A response from the community in The Daily Examiner 25 June 2013:

MPs in sorry state

A 10,000-signature petition from Northern Rivers residents opposed to coal seam gas was presented to the NSW Government last week.
In response to a referendum on CSG at the recent council elections, the Lismore electorate voted 87% against the industry, and it would be expected that similar percentages would have been recorded in neighbouring local government areas had the same question been posed there.
As well, the Lock the Gate survey of thousands of landholders across the region has routinely reported in excess of 90% voting to declare their roads gas field-free zones.
However, last week's petition was presented to Parliament by the Member for Balmain because our local State representatives, Chris Gulaptis and Thomas George, both refused to present it.
At the subsequent parliamentary debate on the petition, neither local member addressed the substance of the petition, instead trying to push the blame for what is occurring onto the previous Labor government.
And how dare Mr Gulaptis refer to an issue opposed by 87% of the community as the "anti-CSG bandwagon" and try to score cheap political points against other elected members.
In what can only be described as a totally irrelevant rant, he targeted our Federal member, Janelle Saffin, over the actions of NSW Labor's disgraced ex-ministers Obeid and MacDonald.
If nothing else, Janelle Saffin is once again going in to bat for her constituents, a responsibility our State representatives should remind themselves of, and hang their heads in shame for failing to do so.

John Edwards
South Grafton 

The Lower Clarence is not happy

The Daily Examiner 21 and 26 June 2013:

See you at the next council meeting
In Australia we always hope that our elected representatives will actively participate in community consultation and ensure that there is confidence in their decision making processes... not so with the five Clarence Valley councillors who have used their weight of numbers to force their outrageous four year rating plan on this Valley.
Despite many invitations to share their wisdom via the local newspaper, Cr Margaret McKenna contributed one half-hearted letter to the editor and then refused to respond further to questions as to how council can propose a four year rating plan with no knowledge of future rate pegging limits or land revaluations... and she has been the only councillor who has tried to justify their actions via this media.
The CVC-convened public meetings in Iluka, Yamba and Maclean to discuss the council's 2013/14 operational plan were generally shunned by the majority of the five Grafton councillors. However Cr Challacombe did attend the Maclean meeting and he made what is possibly the most revealing comment since this rating issue surfaced. Cr Challacombe said that while we all pay our taxes, the majority of the money will always be spent in Sydney and while none of us believe that is fair it is a similar situation in the Clarence Valley with rate monies collected from all areas being spent in Grafton. What he effectively said is that since amalgamation Grafton has become our capitol city and therefore all rate monies spent in Grafton become beneficial to all ratepayers no matter how far they live from the capitol.
This also means that there is no point assessing where CVC spends money on services or projects because all expenditure in Grafton is for the common good and it is only expenditure in Glenreagh, Ulmarra, Maclean, Yamba etcetera that can be considered localised.
I trust that Cr Challacombe will never again criticise NSW State government decisions to cut spending in this region so long as they spend the money in Sydney.
I attended the CVC Operational Plan public meetings in Yamba and Maclean and council professional staff made it absolutely clear that they had recommended that council not change the 2012/13 rating structure and that they would not defend the "political" decision to replace that structure by the elected councillors.
Next Tuesday the council meets at the Maclean chambers to formally adopt the 2013/14 rating structure. I hope that many local people attend that meeting to witness the outcome.
Bill Day

Rates go awry
Self interests, parochialism and cronyism have always been part of the mix in local government. But the reasons given for those "up river" five for shifting Grafton's rate burden to low income earners of the lower Clarence without additional services to pay for Grafton's prolific services it could not afford, certainly puts them in that mix.
The Mayor Cr Williamson asks, "tell me one thing council does in Grafton that they don't do in Maclean?" Cr Williamson knows that they don't enjoy a higher income that Grafton enjoys, but still came into forced amalgamation with a surplus, demonstrating it could pay for its services even with a lower median rate. What's more they don't enjoy two ratepayer funded aquatic centres in close proximity to each other. Nor two libraries, an art gallery, a second airstrip and many "sports specific" sports grounds.
Cr Howe has reportedly referred to the two $3m sports centres in Maclean and Yamba since forced amalgamation. But they pale into insignificance to the $4m upgrade to Fisher Park, Ellem oval, McKittrick Park, Hawthorne Park, See Park, Pioneer Park, Corcoran Park, $1.3m revitalisation south Grafton and an $8m second library in Grafton.
Cr McKenna who lives and works in south Grafton is the recipient of a $1.3m makeover, nevertheless believes her rates should be shifted to the lower Clarence which didn't receive a similar benefit.
Cr Challacombe reportedly admits to disparities in service provision but says "the facilities in Grafton are for all." He ignores that it is some two hours to and from Grafton by car let alone a bus and many cannot afford it.
Their self serving incoherent use of the truth was further advanced when they thwarted a council resolution having staff prepare expenditure by locality report at a workshop meeting on May 14, which would have been in the whole valley's interests.
Having encouraged a forced amalgamation to save its economic future and now using its numbers in the council to serve its own parochial interest, Grafton is playing a very dangerous divisive game. Over the years, Grafton has been a graveyard for business and commerce and is dependant upon new monies from outside its community.
The Regional Industry and Economic Plan (RIEP) believes that only 65% of jobs come from population driven sectors and about 10% of jobs from the construction sector. But the balance is in the exporting sectors particularly tourism. No matter what Grafton spends on waterfront precincts and recreational facilities, it cannot compete with Port Macquarie, Coffs Ballina or even the lower Clarence for that recreational tourist dollar. However that has not been the case with the lower Clarence which has continued its economic growth while Grafton has faltered.
The lower Clarence has available to it far more competitive services; airport, hospital and commerce just up the highway and the bottom line is Grafton needs the lower Clarence far more than the lower Clarence needs Grafton. It is now a question as to what extent the lower Clarence will spend that travelling time heading north instead of toward Grafton
Ray Hunt

Rates shock
Hello Richie. I would like to guess the secret sound.
Is it the sound of a pensioner falling over at their letterbox when they open their rate notice.
Frank Bonfanti

The Daily Examiner Page One 26 June 2013:

In debate, Cr Howe said these changes would unite the Clarence Valley.
"This is not about Grafton, there is no gang of five," he said.
This comment was followed by such jeers from the gallery that Cr Williamson stopped the meeting and called for the public to show respect.

The Daily Examiner online 26 June 2013:

The council did not adopt a rating structure for the next four years as Cr Baker lead motion against defining the rating policy so far into the future.
"I put to this meeting that the motion while ever it attempts to set the rate beyond this year is unlawful," Cr Baker said.
And while the legality remained a point of division the councillors agreed with sentiment and limited the changes to this financial year.


The Daily Examiner 27 June 2013:

Each property in the Clarence Valley is valued by the NSW Valuer General.
The value is then multiplied by a cents-in-the-dollar rate.
Added to the cents-in-the-dollar total is a base amount which everyone in a given area pays.
If a base rate is not in place the other system is to have a minimum rate.
Under this system if the cents-in-the-dollar rate total was less than the minimum then the minimum became the actual bill…..
In the case of Maclean residences a minimum rate was previously in place.
So a property with a land value of $60,000 would have returned a cents-in-the-dollar value of $420.
The minimum in Mac- lean used to be $474 so the bill would have been $474.
Under the new system the council has introduced a base, which everyone pays.
The cents-in-the-dollar value for the $60,000 Maclean property would be $304.94 under the new system but added to this is the new $260 base.
This means the bill for the property in question rises to $564.94, an increase of just less than 25%.
Interestingly, under the new structure, people who own a property worth more than about $140,000, in Maclean, will see a reduction in their bill.
For Farmland properties the opposite is true.
The increase in farmland rates was achieved by increasing the cents-in-the-dollar rate and the more valuable your property, the more your rates will increase.
The increase will be more than 3.4% for farms worth more than about $600,000.
In out-of-town areas the minimum and the cents-in-the-dollar rate has increased.
If your bill last year was $458 or less, it will be $474 next year and if your property is worth more than $107,000 your rates will increase by 6.9%.
In coastal villages bills will increase by 9.36% unless your land is worth less than about $110,000.
Lawrence and Wooloweyah can both expect decreases in their rates of about 30% as they have been moved out of urban categories.
Yamba residents can expect 10% increases across the board.
And finally residents in Grafton should expect a rise of no more than 3%.  

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Prospects for the Federal Labor Party in the Foreseeable Future?

Australian Leader of the Opposition and Member for Warringah Tony Abbott and alcohol

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan in Hansard on 12 February 2009 at at 10.10pm

The government has a view that we can get through this global recession better than most other developed countries in the world. We can do that if we are strong, we can do that if we are united and we can do that if we put in place a very substantial fiscal stimulus such as the fiscal stimulus recommended by the IMF. But, of course, it does not suit your political agenda because, as we know, you have got the member for Higgins breathing down your neck. He is actually the architect of poor old Malcolm’s strategy. The member for Higgins, as this vital debate in the history of the country is going on, is currently in the dining room. He is currently in the dining room with the member for Menzies. He is currently in the dining room with the member for Warringah. That is what they think about the strategy from those on that side of the House.

The Daily Telegraph Tony Abbott slept through key vote 8 March 2009: 

Tony Abbott missed the key economic vote of the new Parliament - the $42 billion fiscal stimulus package - because he fell asleep after a night of drinking witnessed by MPs from both sides of Parliament. Mr Abbott told Chief Opposition Whip Alex Somlyay that he missed five divisions on the night of Thursday, February 12 because he fell asleep in his office. His nap followed dinner in the Members' Dining Room with Peter Costello, Kevin Andrews and Peter Dutton, where numerous bottles of wine were consumed.

Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during a January 2013 NovaFM radio interview: "I’d probably be too much of a Grog Monster for ya fellas."

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan in Hansard on 25 June 2013 at 2.07pm

The contrast was there during the global financial crisis when those opposite refused to support our stimulus. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition slept right through the critical vote. He was drunk and did not come into the House. He slept right through that vote—

To date I can find no Hansard record of Mr. Abbott seeking, by way of personal explanation, to deny the assertions of his inebriation on 12 February 2009.

The only public explanation he offered at the time was to a Sunday Telegraph journalist and he hung up on that journalist when he was asked if he was drunk: "That is an impertinent question. I had dinner with the gentlemen you mentioned, there's no doubt we had a couple of bottles of wine, I wasn't keeping count, maybe two. This is an impertinent question. I'm going to politely hang up now.''

NSW Farmers up in arms over O'Farrell-Fraser-Hartcher legislative move to support coal seam gas industry land access rights

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Hong Kong thumbs its nose at Internet super spy, the United States of America

HKSAR Government issues statement on Edward Snowden 
      The HKSAR Government today (June 23) issued the following statement on Mr Edward Snowden:

     Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

     The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

     The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden's departure.

     Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.
Ends/Sunday, June 23, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:05



EU lawmakers want to forbid the United States from accessing European citizens' data without the approval of a judge or equivalent authority, ...
European Parliament (press release)-19/06/2013

VentureBeat-by John Koetsier-21/06/2013
As is the case with PRISM in the U.S., the companies are forbidden by law to either decline to participate or to reveal the spying to their ...
U.S. officials have confirmed the existence of a huge, secret U.S. Internet spying programme, codenamed PRISM, which according to ...
ZDNet-by Zack Whittaker-13/06/2013
The U.S. National Security Agency, which has been at the center of a privacy storm, after details of itsPRISM program leaked. The EU is ...
The Verge-by Carl Franzen-07/06/2013
A major intelligence agency in the United Kingdom is part of the US government's massive secret internet user spying program PRISM, ... 

SiliconANGLE (blog)-13/06/2013
Just when we thought these spying shenanigans couldn't get any worse, well… They just did. A report by Michael Riley in Bloomberg today ...
Prism, meanwhile, lets the NSA "obtain the specific communications of foreign suspects from U.S.companies with a court order. This program ...
United States "persons" — citizens and residents protected by the Fourth Amendment — were said to not be part of its scope. Yet PRISM data ...
It comes after senior ministers were challenged over their alleged role in authorising use of a covert USgovernment spying project, Prism, ...
In his plea, Singh has alleged that such large-scale spying by the US authorities is detrimental to national security and urged the Apex court to ...


CBS NEWS 24 June 2013
The NSC issued a statement early Monday saying it is "disappointed by the decision of the authorities in Hong Kong to permit Mr. Snowden to flee despite the legally valid U.S. request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the U.S.-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement. We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations." The statement continued, "We now understand Mr. Snowden is on Russian soil. Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters -- including returning numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government -- we expect the Russian Government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged."

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott admits to a particular difficulty

Tony marvelled at the longevity of my virginity that I had managed to protect for forty six years. “I don’t know how you do it! I couldn’t do it. I find it difficult enough staying faithful to the one woman for the rest of my life,” he said with a laugh. [Father Kevin Lee,quote from a conversation with Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott MP on 20th December 2010]