Friday 28 February 2014

Abbott Government makes a mockery of Southern Ocean air surveillance

This is what the Coalition parties promised.

Media Release announcing the Coalition Whale and Dolphin Protection Plan on  23 August 2013 during the federal election campaign:

Snapshot taken 22 December 2013

This is what the Abbott Government said it would put in place instead.

ABC News 22 December 2013:

The Federal Government will send a plane to the Southern Ocean in an effort to step up its monitoring of Japanese whaling fleets early next year. Customs will send an A319 during the whaling season, which begins in January and ends in March.

While this is what it actually delivered – one flyover in an aircraft with a limited flight range and unsuitable for surveillance tasks.

Excerpt from evidence given to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee during Senate Estimates, 26 February 2014:

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I was actually going to ask about the P-3Cs under section 1.4, but could I just ask now whether they would have better capacity than the current airbus that is being used by customs to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet and the illegal whaling activity in the southern ocean.

Gen. Hurley : I will get someone who knows more about planes than I do to address that.

Air Marshal Brown : If you are looking at the whaling fleet specifically as the surveillance task, one of the problems is that they are very far south, right off the coast of Antarctica, and a P3 cannot get there. The A319 is not suitable for that task. It is used for the Antarctic division to supply into Antarctica. The recent announcement of the P8 will certainly give us the capability to get down there because it is air-to-air refuelable, which the P3 is not....

Senator WHISH-WILSON: The reason I asked about the airbus is that it has been used this whaling season for surveillance of the Japanese fleet, but I understand there has only been one flyover at a fairly significant cost to the taxpayer. I was just wondering whether you had been consulted on the use of other aircraft, and clearly you have.

Air Marshal Brown : We have. We have had a look at C-17s and all of our fleet at the moment as to whether they are suitable. The word surveillance can mean many things—surveillance out of a passenger aeroplane is a pretty limited operation.

Political Cartoon of the Month

David Pope's work can be purchased at

Thursday 27 February 2014

Hogan postures on social media

There are 90 Coalition members of the Australian House of Representatives.

Even if Labor, minor party and independent members all voted against any legislation put before the House which supports the coal seam gas industry, the Coalition would have a voting majority of 29 in any division called.

Which makes Hogan's promise to cross the floor nothing more than a hollow gesture as his government would still comfortably win the vote.

About those multiple votes....

Mainstream media has been making much of the fact that at the 2013 federal general election 1,979 Australians have admitted to voting more than once. The Guardian went so far as to run with the highly misleading headline: AEC uncovers 19,000 cases of multiple voting in last federal election.

However in relation to the 18,770 ‘recorded’ multiple votes, ongoing processing has so far found that 8,291 of these multiple votes are due to clerical error on the part of electoral commission employees.

Still be processed are another 8,500 electors.

Of the admitted 1,979 multiple voters - 1,602.99 of these are either elderly, have poor literacy skills or do not fully understand the electoral process.

That leaves approximately 377 people of whom 128 may not have a reliable explanation for multiple voting.

Statistically I doubt whether these 128 people would have influenced the election outcome. 

Unless miraculously they were all registered as residing in for example the Fairfax or Indie electorates and cast their votes exclusively in favour of the Liberal and National parties - thus giving the Abbott Government an even bigger majority.

The likes of the  H S Chapman Society might get into a lather about 463 ballots papers out of a total of 13,726,070 ballots cast, but I cannot see such a small number being a good reason to switch the current voting system to either the highly problematic electronic voting or the very hackable online voting systems.

Senate Estimates, Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, 25 February 2014:

Excerpt from evidence given by Tom Rogers, Acting Electoral Commissioner

As you know, after the election not every multiple mark on a certified list is actually a multiple vote. So we go through a process of filtering those out...
We sent inquiry letters to 18,770 electors who had multiple marks recorded beside their names.
Replies are still being processed after that process. To date, 8,291 multiple marks have been confirmed as being
caused by official error, such as the wrong name being marked off when electors with similar names attend the
booth or even, on paper lists, people pressing too hard so that the pen goes through the sheet.
A total of 1,979 electors have admitted to voting more than once, with the greater majority of those—over 81 per cent—being elderly, with poor literacy, or with low comprehension of the electoral process....
I think you will find that for some of the elderly voters it  will be that they might have received a vote from one of our mobile teams and also a postal vote, for example...
 There are 128 electors who have more than two marks recorded beside their names...
That is 92 [with three marks recorded beside their names]...
22 [with four marks recorded beside their names]...
Four [with five marks recorded beside their names]...
With six marks, there are six electors; seven marks, one elector; nine marks, one elector; 12 marks, one elector; and 15 marks, one elector...
What I can tell you is that we are currently working with the AFP and the DPP about this issue. We take it very seriously....

Wednesday 26 February 2014

First home-grown dumb idea of the year

The Daily Examiner on 24 February 2014 at Page 1:

Welcome to the Green Coast, home to a host of natural wonders and winding rivers.
Where is the Green Coast you ask?
It could be right here, if NSW Business Chamber's Northern Rivers regional manager John Murray's proposal to re-name the Northern Rivers region gains traction.

Something for Australian 'welfare bashers' to think about

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Disused coal mine still burning after fifteen days

Australian Mining 20 February 2014:

Expert fire fighting crews have been brought in from interstate to help battle the blaze burning at Hazelwood open cut coal mine.
Sparked by fires which gripped Victoria on February 9, the coal mine blaze has caused issues for residents in the Morwell area with smoke and ash forcing some people to relocate temporarily.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said while fire suppression strategies had been successful, it was a complex environment for firefighters to contend with, ABC reported.
Firefighters from New South Wales have been brought in to help the 200 people already trying to put out the fire.....
Meanwhile thick smoke and ash has led to some local residents leave their homes with a respite centre open to take people in.
"I've quit cigarettes and I feel like I'm going through a pack a day,"  Anne-Marie Simpson said of the smoke.
A plan to evacuate to town of Morwell has been suspended, but children will be bussed to other schools from tomorrow.....

11 FEBRUARY 2014


TUESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2014 07:01

Latrobe Crime Investigation Unit and Arson and Explosive Squad detectives are seeking public assistance in relation to the Hazelwood open cut mine fire.
The fire, which has been burning for more than two weeks, is believed to have started at a site on the Strzelecki Highway between Morwell and Mirboo North on 9 February at around 1.30pm.
An arson chemist has attended and police are treating the fire as suspicious.
The fire progressed along the Strzelecki Highway through the HVP timber plantation, causing significant damage to plantations, fences and structures, before making its way into the Hazelwood open cut mine where it continues to burn.
There were also a number of smaller suspicious grass fires around the immediate area in Yinnar, Hazelwood and Boolarra on 28 January and again on the morning of 9 February.
Investigators believe an arsonist may be active in the area and could continue to light fires on high fire danger days.
Police wish to speak to anyone who witnessed any suspicious behaviour in these areas and urge anyone who believes they may know the person responsible to contact police.
Anyone with information about the fire is to asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit
Inspector Ian Geddes
Manager Media Unit
VP32189/2014 – 6892

The Australian 28 February 2014:

THE elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with lung problems are being advised to leave the worst-affected area near the Hazelwood coal mine fire, in a major escalation of the crisis in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
The move comes amid growing alarm in Morwell over rising carbon monoxide levels, ash and smoke from a fire that’s been burning for almost three weeks.
Authorities are advising vulnerable residents in the southern part of Morwell to move temporarily, with the fire in the open-cut mine expected to continue to blanket Morwell in thick smoke and ash for at least another 10 days.
However angry locals heckled Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Rosemary Lester during her announcement, which she says follows consistently poor air quality in Morwell South.
Some residents demanded to know why the relocation advice was only being issued now and why it didn’t extend to the whole of Morwell.
“How about some truth instead of bullshit,’’ one man yelled at Dr Lester.
“We can’t sleep, we can’t go outside, we can’t breathe,’’ said one woman through tears.
“You can’t continue to allow this to happen.’’
Dr Lester admitted it was “unclear’’ what the medium effects of the smoke could be, but stressed it was only people over 65, children under five, pregnant women and people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions who should heed the advice to leave.
Fire authorities predict the blaze, which has been burning in an open-cut coal mine for almost three weeks, will continue to produce significant smoke and ash for at least another 10 days.....

Editor of The Daily Examiner speaks out on the subject of asylum seekers

Editor of The Daily Examiner David Moase on the subject of asylum seekers, 20 February 2014:
It is time for Australia to grow up, pull on its big boy pants and face up to the real issues involved in dealing with asylum seekers.
No longer can the government and the general population hope the problem will go away if we put people wanting refuge out of sight and out of mind.
The outlaw behaviour on Manus Island this week proves that.
Detainees rioting, locals battering detainees, security staff scurrying, local police doing God knows what - the reports, which are made difficult to verify by the Federal Government's secretive attitude to this issue, are both farcical and tragic.
One man has been killed and there is talk another had his throat slit. How exactly? Will we ever know the truth?
And then the private details of 10,000 asylum seekers published online.
For me and many others this isn't the last straw - the last straw was bales and bales ago.
For others, I fear, the last straw is still a seed waiting to be planted.
Offshore detention, as practised by Labor and Coalition governments, is a shabby attempt at avoiding real solutions to an admittedly difficult problem.
Difficult, but not unsolvable.
Locking asylum seekers away will never succeed in keeping them safe - and it was never really intended to do that anyway - or deal with a problem that occurs around the world.
The solution won't be found until governments are prepared to face reality and lead the public rather than reacting to scaremongering.

New management for Manus Island detention centre raises questions 24 February 2014:

Transfield Services has also been appointed to take over “garrison and welfare services” at the Manus Island facility and Nauru.
In a statement to the ASX, the company said the 20 month contract for both is at a cost of $1.22 billion.
Security on Manus Island will be handled by Wilson Security, as is the case at Nauru.

The Age 24 February 2014:

Since early February, Transfield Services moved more than 180 Wilson Security staff onto the island as part of the transition stage with G4S.

The first question one must ask is; were Wilson Security staff on Manus Island during the violent incident at the detention centre on 17 February which resulted in the death of Reza Berati.

The second question must be; were any Wilson Security staff involved in subduing asylum seekers and/or assaulting them.

The third question is inevitably - has the Abbott Government bothered to enquire.

Monday 24 February 2014

A message for Lyn

“Thanks for the tweets, Lyn!”

North Coast Voices appreciate your efforts to let everyone know what Australian bloggers are saying.

Kind Regards,
Clarrie Rivers

Wondered why quite a few faceless conservative trolls have fallen silent since 7 September 2013?

This media report might well hold the answer.

Brisbane Times 10 February 2014:

The Abbott government has quietly introduced a hardline code of conduct for ministerial staff, banning political commentary on social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.
The ban also extends to current Coalition staff writing books and newspaper articles and staff seeking "further guidance" on the new rules are referred directly to Tony Abbott's chief of staff, Peta Credlin.....

Graphic from Google Images

Pay and Superannuation Gaps Between Australian Women and Men

Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Fact Sheets and Statistics:

This fact sheet looks at the pay and superannuation gaps between women and men by age group.

Click on image to enlarge

Do Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann want to reduce the number of retirement years the average Australian worker can expect before death intervenes?

In July 1908 and December 1910 when the Commonwealth age pension came into effect for men and then women aged 65 years and 60 years respectively, average life expectancy after reaching retirement age was 11.3 years for men and approximately 13 years for women.

Since then retirement age has been reset to 65 years of age for both genders.
Currently residual life expectancy for someone aged sixty-five years is 19.1 years for men and 22 years for women.
However, by seventy years of age life expectancy will drop to 15.3 years for men and 17.8 years for women with further declines in the years 80, 90 and 100.

So basically when you consider these statistics they indicate that the majority of those Australian citizens already receiving an age pension will cease drawing this pension sometime in the next 2 to 18 years.
Most of those citizens about to become eligible will likely be receiving the age pension for the next 19.1 to 22 years.
While in nine years time, everyone born after mid 1956 will on retirement only receive this pension for an estimated 17.6 to 20.3 years. That is approximately 6.3 to 7.3 years longer than those people receiving the aged pension in 1908-1910.
So when the Federal Finance Minister is reported as stating that life expectancy was 55 when the age pension was introduced, but life expectancy was now 30 years longer he is simply missing the point – the average Australian is not likely to live another thirty years beyond retirement.
And when the Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey talks of the need to raise the national retirement qualifying age beyond the current planned rise, he is being somewhat premature. Especially as the number of retirees dying by 2023 will have grown considerably.
One might suspect Messrs. Hockey and Cormann of hoping that if they raise the pension eligibility age to 70 years then, given the last calculated median age at death for both genders, around half of those applying for this pension will possibly have ceased receiving it within 8.6 to 16.6 years.
Which for the men in this group would mean that (if Hockey and Cormann prevail) they will have less years to enjoy retirement than their forebears did in 1908, while women in the same group only get around three years more than women did in1910.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Manus Island detention centre violent death - an unfolding story

SBS: Manus Island detention centre
ABC News: Manus Island detention centre tent interior Sunday 23 February 2014:

MORE than 200 locals joined riot police and guards from security contractor G4S in crushing Monday night’s uprising by asylum-seekers at the Manus Island detention centre.
Civilian residents of the Lombrum naval base, on which the detention facility is located on Manus Island, said when security forces felt they were being overwhelmed they asked locals to help repel several hundred rioters.
This account explains for the first time how there were such widespread injuries, with 77 asylum seekers requiring treatment...
One civilian source who entered the compound at the height of the riot saw Berati being carried by medics.
“His skull was crushed and his neck was broken, but I don’t know how,” said the man, who said he went in to try and calm locals down, who were battling detainees with iron bars....
Security firm G4S handed control of the detention centre to Transfield Services today, with both firms promising to co-operate with the inquiry.

The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 22 February 2013:

Australian security staff will be investigated over their role in the Manus Island detention centre riot that left one man dead and scores injured, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has conceded.
In an extraordinary statement issued late last night, Mr Morrison admitted that much of the information he had given to the Australian public since Monday’s riot was now in doubt.
The most explosive admission is the revelation that most of the violence probably took place within the detention centre's fences, rather than outside its boundaries, as Mr Morrison had previously claimed.
“I wish to confirm that, contrary to initial reports received, I have received further information that indicates that the majority of the riotous behaviour that occurred, and the response to that behaviour to restore order to the centre, took place within the perimeter of the centre,” the minister said in the statement.
“In a situation where transferees engage in riotous and aggressive behaviour within the centre, this will escalate the risk to those who engage in such behaviour. However, in such circumstances service providers must conduct themselves lawfully and consistent with the service standards set out in their contract.”
A spokesman for security company G4S, which is contracted to run security on Manus Island, flatly denied to News Corp Australia on Thursday that its staff were involved in the riot, saying: “G4S was not involved in any violence with detainees.”
Fairfax Media was unable to contact G4S on Saturday night.
On Friday, Mr Morrison said the security company would be off the island within a week, when its contract expired.
Transfield, which runs operations on Nauru, will take over security on the island.....

The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 22 February 2013:

The Iranian man who died during violent clashes on Manus Island this week suffered a cut to the neck and head injuries, according to an employee at the detention centre who was with him before he died.
The man, who has asked that his name not be used, also said he saw another asylum seeker whose throat had been cut, and another whose face was swollen beyond recognition. He said more than one of those injured suffered gunshot wounds.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that the deceased asylum seeker was 23-year-old Reza Barati, who arrived on Christmas Island last July and been transferred to Manus Island in late August.
The employee said he helped tend to the injured after the attack, which asylum seekers told him had been perpetrated by locals employed by security contractor G4S and police.
He said asylum seekers in fear of their lives had been pulled from their rooms, beaten and told by their attackers: ''You want freedom? We'll give you freedom tonight.''....

International Business Times Friday 21 February 2014:

The Iranian asylum seeker killed in a violent jail-break from an Australian-run detention camp in Papua New Guinea was killed by a guard working for the security contractor G4S, according to an Australian guard.
The account, obtained by News Corp, suggests local guards jumped on Reza Barati's head in a "frenzy" on Monday night, as he lay defenceless on the ground.
Barati, 23, was killed in a camp on Manus Island on Monday, after sustaining fatal head injuries as hundreds of asylum seekers pushed down a perimeter fence to escape the compound.
An Australian official has said his body will be repatriated to his family in Iran. The Australian Embassy in Port Moresby conveyed the deep sympathies of the Australian government....

Scott Morrison MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

Media release Tuesday 18 February 2014:

I am advised that there has been a further and more serious incident at the Manus Island processing centre overnight involving transferees breaching internal and external perimeter fences at the centre.
I am advised non-essential staff were evacuated as a precautionary measure last night prior to any escalation of these events, when low level demonstrations resumed.
The extent and nature of the subsequent events and perimeter breaches is still being verified. However, I am advised that all staff have been accounted for, our service providers are in control of the centre and there has been no damage to critical infrastructure or accommodation at the centre, which will enable the centre to resume normal operations.
Confirmation of the location of all transferees is yet to occur and face to photo checks will be undertaken later in the morning.
I am advised that during the events PNG police did not enter the centre and that their activities related only to dealing with transferees who breached the external perimeter. Once again, I am advised that G4S were able to protect critical infrastructure and take control of the facility within the centre without the use of batons.
In addition to the evacuation of non-essential staff earlier in the evening, transferees not participating in these events were removed to a nearby oval for their safety, while G4S addressed the situation in the centre.
Transferees injured during the incident are and have been receiving treatment from IHMS at the scene and there are a number of persons with serious injuries included in this group.
Arrangements will be made to transfer persons requiring further treatment offsite at the earliest possible opportunity, where necessary, and we are liaising with local health services to this end.
We have not been advised of any injuries to our staff, however it is possible that some security staff may present later in the day for minor treatment once they are in a position to do so.
A command centre, including PNG authorities, was established on Manus to direct our response to these incidents on the ground, in accordance with standard procedure.
Further information will be provided on these events once further reports have been provided and are verified.
I will be returning with Lt Gen Campbell directly to Canberra from Darwin at the first available opportunity to be briefed on these events and to be available to determine further actions as required.

Media release Monday 17 February 2014:

The government can confirm there was a disturbance at the Manus Island centre last night.
I am advised that staff are reported safe and accounted for and that the centre is reported to be calm.
It is reported Papua New Guinea police have arrested a number of transferees in relation to the incident.
Service providers have also reported a number of transferees have received medical attention and that there has been some minor property damage to the centre.
I am advised that suggestions reportedly made by asylum advocate groups in relation to this incident that transferees had been informed they would not be settled in Papua New Guinea are false.
Further information in relation to this incident will be provided once details can be confirmed by my department.

Anglican Church still crying poor

Yet another organised religion which allowed paedophilia to flourish within its clergy is attempting to protect its wealth.......

Newcastle Herald 17 February 2014:

THE Anglican Church has warned the royal commission into child sexual abuse not to assume multibillion-dollar church assets can be sold to compensate abuse victims.
The warning comes in a submission to the commission from the titular head of the Australian church, Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, and two senior church officials.
They were responding to a finding by Simeon Beckett, counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, that the Anglican Diocese of Grafton had enough assets to settle abuse claims from former residents of an orphanage at Lismore in northern NSW.
From evidence presented at a public hearing in November, Mr Beckett found the diocese put its own financial interests above the needs of abuse victims.
The diocese pleaded poverty when it came to finding money for people subjected to horrifying abuse in the North Coast Children’s Home in the 1960s, yet sold considerable assets to service a debt incurred when it built a loss-making private girls’ school......
What the Anglican Church sees as appropriate compensation packages for those children physically and/or sexually abused while in the care of a church orphanage in the Grafton Diocese still does not go above $75,000 per adult survivor.

Jubilee Venn Diagrams? Clarence Valley Mayor's motives questioned

Josh Wodak 
Josh Wodak
Carbon Sink, Josh Wodak
Josh Wodak

Letter to the Editor on Page 9 of The Daily Examiner, 17 February 2014:

On the count of three
I attended the opening on Friday night at the Regional Gallery of an exhibition by Josh Wodak titled Jubilee Venn Diagrams.
I was there because Josh had invited me and a number of other locals to be part of his project. This entailed standing in the Clarence River and draping coloured ropes or holding and throwing coloured balls which represented rising sea levels, increasing carbon dioxide levels and increasing temperature.
It was an unusual experience for me, but as a project publicising climate change I was only too happy to get involved.
There were a number of other locals there for the opening of the exhibition, but it coincided with another exhibition opening Three of a Kind by local artist Graham Mackie and his associates James Willebrant and Soren Carlbergg.
Jude McBean in her opening address described the two exhibitions and explained that Josh could not be present as he was at another exhibition opening in Sydney.
The mayor, Richie Williamson was to officially open both exhibitions, but if you listened carefully to his address, which involved numerous references to cricket, drinking alcohol and generally to being a mate of the artist Graham, you would be forgiven for thinking that there was only one exhibition on at the gallery that night. I didn't see him even enter the room where Josh's exhibition was displayed.
This is not good enough from the head of our council. It was a bit rude and insulting that he didn't make mention once to the other exhibition and begs the question did he deliberately ignore it because of its environmental flavour or did he just not do his homework and was unaware that there was a second exhibition that he was supposed to be opening.
Either way it is not good enough Richie!
I think that a public apology is warranted.
This is no criticism of the gallery, Jude McBean or the three other artists.
Dr Greg. P. Clancy
Coutts Crossing