Tuesday 31 October 2017

Donald Trump continues to deny Trump presidential election campaign-Russia link as FBI indictments begin

US President Donald J. Trump continues to deny Trump presidential election campaign-Russia links as Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indictments begin.

CNN, 30 October 2017:
Washington (CNN) Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates surrendered Monday to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

Gates, 45, is a longtime business associate of Manafort, 68, having worked together since the mid-2000s, and served as his deputy on the campaign. The two were indicted under seal on Friday, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The indictment against the two men contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Manafort arrived at the FBI's Washington field office Monday morning. The two are being processed separately, according to a law enforcement official. They will later be transported to federal district court in Washington later Monday morning.

The two are scheduled to make their initial court appearances before US District Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson at 1:30 p.m. ET Monday…..

Manafort entered the Trump campaign orbit in early 2016, when he reached out to Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner and offered to work for free, according to The New York Times.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help with delegate counting ahead of the Republican National Convention, as some Republicans hoped to use arcane delegate procedures to wrest the nomination from Trump at the convention in Cleveland.

He soon was promoted to campaign chairman, and he became the top official on the campaign after then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was fired in June 2016.

His tenure didn't last long.

The Times reported in August 2016 that Ukrainian investigators found Manafort's name in an off-the-books, handwritten ledger detailing secret payments — including $12.7 million to Manafort from Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

Manafort denied he had received any such payment and claims the ledger was forged. But just days later, he resigned from the campaign as the accusations swirling around him became a major distraction for Trump.

Copy of FBI indictment dated 27 October 2017 here.

Grand Jury Investigation, Memorandum Opinion here.

Manafort and Gates now under house arrest.

@realDonaldTrump, 30 October 2017:

Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????....

....Also, there is NO COLLUSION!

On 3 October 2017 the FBI issued an indictment in United States of American v George Papadopoulos on one count of making false statements concerning his interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with Russian government officials. Papadopoulos appears to have joined the Trump campaign in March 2016.

He was part of Trump's six-man foreign policy team led by then Alabama senator and now US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.

Copy of Papadopoulos Statement of Offence can be read here. Copy of Papadopoulos plea agreement here.

Los Angeles Times, 30 October 2017:

A former foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians who claimed to have “thousands of emails” on Hillary Clinton, in the latest charges filed in the investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. 

George Papadopoulos, 30, of Chicago, has agreed to cooperate with the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, according to a plea agreement unsealed on Monday.

He pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to making false statements to disguise his contacts with Russians whom he thought had “dirt” on Clinton, according to court papers. He was arrested in July as he got off a plane at Dulles International Airport.

After he was contacted by an unnamed Russian professor in March, Papadopoulos exchanged emails with an official in the Russian foreign ministry, court papers say. Among the topics he discussed was a possible visit by Trump to Russia.

“As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” one Russian emailed him.

In April, after he had become an advisor to the campaign, Papadopoulos met with the Russian professor at a London hotel. The professor said he had just returned from a trip to Moscow, where he was told “the Russians had emails of Clinton.”

Papadopolous told other leaders in the Trump campaign that he was in contact with Russians, and said there were some “interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip.”

An unnamed campaign official, described as a campaign “supervisor,” encouraged him to make the trip, a document reads.


ABC News, 20 July 2017:

Mr Trump Jr has been the focus of a string of revelations about a meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in 2016, billed as a part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican's White House campaign.

Explosive emails, which Mr Trump Jr published on his own Twitter account, show that:

Donald Trump Jr (and others) knowingly had a meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer on June 9, 2016
The intermediary who arranged the meeting offered "information that would incriminate" Hillary Clinton and "her dealings with Russia" that would be "very useful" to the campaign
The intermediary described the information as "very high level and sensitive"
Most importantly, it was described as "part of Russia and its Government's support for Mr Trump"

The story has continued to evolve, with a former Soviet officer recently confirming he was as the meeting.

Mr Manafort and Mr Kushner were also reported to be at the meeting in question.

The Washington Post, 27 October 2017:

On Friday, Trump declared the investigations into any collusion between his campaign and the Russian government all-but-over….

“It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!”.....

After his inauguration, the first time Trump mentioned collusion on Twitter was May 8.

“Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to former national intelligence director James R. Clapper Jr., “there is ‘no evidence’ of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.”

“The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax,” he added, “when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

At the moment Trump tweeted about how there wasn’t any collusion — the first and second times of 14 tweets in total — the investigations into collusion were limited to an FBI counterintelligence investigation and House and Senate committees digging into the matter. The next day, though, Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, triggering the chain of events that led to the appointment of Mueller and his investigation.

When Trump was interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt shortly after the Comey firing, he was adamant.

“I think that looking into me and, the campaign … look, I have nothing to do [with it],” he said. “This was set up by the Democrats. There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians. The other thing is the Russians did not affect the vote.” He also told Holt that “when I decided to just [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’ ”

Quartz, 29 October 2017:

However, Russia’s efforts to influence the US election have been repeatedly, unequivocally confirmed on the record by all top US intelligence officials, including those appointed by Trump.

report (pdf) issued by US intelligence officials on Jan. 6 stated Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind a campaign to influence the 2016 election, “denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” and stated that Putin had “a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

During a public Senate Intelligence Committee hearing (pdf) this May, Virginia’s Mark Warner asked top intelligence officials if they agreed with the conclusions of this report that “Russian intelligence agencies were responsible for the hacking and leaking of information and using misinformation to influence our elections?”

Every intelligence official answered yes. Intelligence officials at the hearing included representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency, as well as Trump-appointed CIA director Mike Pompeo and Trump’s chosen director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. (See 42:30 mark on the video below, or at the 1:04 mark on the video on the Senate website).

Coalition senators cut and ran from their own Ensuring Integrity bill

Amends the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 to: include certain serious criminal offences as a new category of ‘prescribed offence’ for the purposes of the automatic disqualification regime in relation to registered organisations; establish an offence for a disqualified person to continue to act as an official or in a way that influences the affairs of an organisation; allow the Federal Court to prohibit officials from holding office in certain circumstances or if they are otherwise not a fit and proper person; allow the Federal Court to cancel the registration of an organisation on a range of grounds; allow applications to be made to the Federal Court for a range of other orders; expand the grounds on which the Federal Court may order remedial action to deal with governance issues in an organisation; expressly provide that the Federal Court may appoint an administrator to an organisation or part of an organisation as part of a remedial scheme; introduce a public interest test for amalgamations of registered organisations; and make minor and technical amendments.

The Australian Senate refused to support this bill on 17 October 2017 so the Turnbull Government read the bill a second time, had a short speech read into Hansard and immediately adjourned the debate.

The Senate next sits on 13 November 2017 and one suspects that attempts to swing the cross benchers towards supporting this bill has ratcheted up more than a few notches.

If you don’t agree with this almost constant attack on the existence of unions in Australia then your state senators can be contacted here.

Asylum seekers in Australia forbidden to have 'unauthorised' pets. Sound familiar?

Department of Immigration and Border Protection Directive – Australia 2017

SBS News, 19 October 2017:

People [asylum seekers] receiving government payments while they wait to see if they will be granted protection have been told they must seek permission from the immigration department and their landlords before buying an animal.

ABC News, 20 October 2017:

The policy change specifies taxpayer money cannot be spent on pets or their "vaccination, equipment, toys and bedding"

Jan. Collection of fur coats or any furs from Jews. Also any woollen clothing or shoes.
Feb. 17 Jews may no longer subscribe to newspapers or magazines.
March 26 Jews must mark the entrance doors to their apartments with a black “Jewish Star”.
April 24 Jews forbidden the use of public transportation.
May 15 Jews forbidden to have dogs, cats and birds. [my yellow highlighting]
May 29 Jews are no longer permitted to visit barber shops.
June 9 Jews must surrender all dispensable clothing.
June 11 Jews no longer receive smoking coupons.
June 20 All Jewish schools closed.
July 17 Blind and deaf Jews may no longer wear armbands identifying their condition in traffic.
Aug. 24 Jews forbidden to perform religious services during Jewish High Holidays.
Sept. 18 Jews can no long buy meat, eggs or milk.
Oct. 4 All Jews still in concentration camps in Germany are to be transferred to extermination camps.
Dec. 24 Economics Ministry orders the confiscation of all metal from Jewish cemeteries (including graves, fences, and gates).

Monday 30 October 2017

Turnbull Government overseeing yet another policy implementation cock up

ABC News, 19 October 2017:

Key Points:
The Productivity Commission is urging state governments to ensure current services are not withdrawn early
The 533-page report says the NDIA sacrificed the quality of NDIS plans while rushing to meet enrolment targets
The report found the disability sector workforce "will not be sufficient" to meet demand
The scheme was meant to be in place by mid-2020 but fell behind schedule soon after its nationwide rollout began in July last year.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be rolled out late, and migrants might be needed to plug workforce gaps, the biggest ever review of the NDIS predicts.

"The reality is that the current timetable for participant intake will not be met," the Productivity Commission report said.

"This delay could be longer if the scheme falls further behind … when the participant intake ramps up in 2017-18."

The commission urged state governments to ensure current services are not withdrawn early.

"Governments and the [agency] need to start planning now for a changed timetable," the report said.

In a 533-page assessment, it condemned the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) for sacrificing the quality of NDIS plans while rushing to meet enrolment targets.

"A key concern that has emerged from our extensive consultations is the speed of participant intake," Commissioner Angela MacRae said.

"This is impacting on planning processes [and] the quality of plans," she said.

The report highlighted the agency's reliance on over-the-phone planning sessions, which hundreds of people have complained about.

Planning meetings dictate how much funding people receive and what services and equipment they can access.

"The Commission heard [on numerous occasions] that participants were called with no forewarning … or were not informed that the call was a planning conversation," the review said.

The NDIA yesterday announced it was phasing out telephone meetings, but did not specify when they would be abolished.

The Federal Government's independent research body estimated 475,000 Australians would be covered by the full scheme.

But it found the disability sector workforce was growing "way too slow" and "will not be sufficient" to meet demand.

The commission said it might not be possible in the short term to train enough allied health professionals, such as speech therapists, and skilled migrants might be needed.

Key Points in the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s 2017 final study report, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Costs:

* The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a complex and highly valued national reform. If implemented well, it will substantially improve the wellbeing of people with disability and Australians more generally.

* The level of commitment to the success and sustainability of the NDIS is extraordinary. This is important because ‘making it work’ is not only the responsibility of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), but also that of governments, participants, families and carers, providers, and the community.

* The scale, pace and nature of the changes that the NDIS is driving are unprecedented in Australia. To reach the estimated 475 000 participants in the scheme by 2019 20, the NDIA needs to approve hundreds of plans a day and review hundreds more. The reality is that the current timetable for participant intake will not be met. Governments and the NDIA need to start planning now for a changed timetable, including working through the financial implications.

* Based on trial and transition data, NDIS costs are broadly on track with the NDIA’s long term modelling, but this is in large part because not all committed supports are used. While some cost pressures are emerging (such as higher numbers of children entering the scheme), the NDIA has put in place initiatives to address them. The benefits of the NDIS are also becoming apparent. Early evidence suggests that many (but not all) NDIS participants are receiving more disability supports than previously, and they have more choice and control.

* In the transition phase, the NDIA has focused too much on quantity (meeting participant intake estimates) and not enough on quality (planning processes), supporting infrastructure and market development. For the scheme to achieve its objectives, the NDIA must find a better balance between participant intake, the quality of plans, participant outcomes, and financial sustainability.

#Greater emphasis is needed on pre planning, in depth planning conversations, plan quality reporting, and more specialised training for planners.

*A significant challenge in the transition phase is developing the supply of disability services and growing the disability care workforce. It is estimated that 1 in 5 new jobs over the next few years will need to be in disability care, but workforce growth remains way too slow.

#Emerging shortages should be addressed by independent price monitoring and regulation, more effective coordination among governments to develop markets (including intervening in thin markets), a targeted approach to skilled migration, and equipping participants to exercise choice.

* The interface between the NDIS and other disability and mainstream services is critical for participant outcomes and the financial sustainability of the scheme. Some disability supports are not being provided because of unclear boundaries about the responsibilities of the different levels of government. Governments must set clearer boundaries at the operational level around ‘who supplies what’ to people with disability, and only withdraw services when continuity of service is assured.

* NDIS funding arrangements should better reflect the insurance principles of the scheme. Governments need to allow flexibility around the NDIA’s operational budget and commit to establishing a pool of reserves. [my yellow highlighting]

Crikey takes aim at The Guvmin Gazette

Crikey.com.au, 19 October 2017:

"Australian journalism’s freak show: how a serious newspaper deals with its enemies

Journalism is in crisis, we’re told constantly.

But there’s another journalism crisis that has been disrupting and polluting the Australian media for more than a decade, a crisis that has nothing to do with broken business models, Facebook or the rise of so-called fake news.

This is the crisis of how a serious national newspaper has, for at least a decade, waged vicious, personal, biased editorial Holy Wars against its ideological, political and commercial enemies in the name of “news”, “journalism” and “professional reporting”.

And not just once or occasionally, but often and serially.

Of course the technique of journalism Holy Wars — as we’re calling it in a 13-part series that starts today in Crikey — is as old as journalism itself. It was the red meat of William Randolph Hearst’s media empire that was captured so viscerally in the movie Citizen Kane, and it’s a device that has been practised with ruthless amorality by British tabloids for a century and by Fox News for two decades.

But the crucial difference between other global attack-dog media and The Australian is that it purports to be a quality newspaper — one described by then-prime minister Tony Abbott at its 50th birthday dinner in 2014 as “one of the world’s very best newspapers … no think-tank, no institution, no university has so consistently and so successfully captured and refined the way we think about ourselves”.

The Australian Holy Wars may appear to some people like an internecine media attack by one publication taking cheap ideological potshots at another. We beg to disagree.
Over the next two weeks, Crikey will catalogue one of the ugliest and most insidious features of Australian public life: the permanent spectacle of one of the country’s handful of serious daily news operations abusing its power to conduct personalised vindictive editorial warfare dressed up as objective reporting.

The behaviour of the “national broadsheet” towards its enemies is no dirty little secret. Almost all the players in politics, government, academia, science, media and policy know how it works. And every month or two they see it unfold, embarrassed, like watching a public flogging where you turn your head away. “Like a true narcissist, it lets its own interests, agendas and catfights affect the quality of the journalism in its pages,” says journalism professor Mark Pearson, who worked for the paper as a young journalist in the 1980s.

But there’s a reason insiders rarely comment or complain about Australian journalism’s most distasteful freak show. They know that any of us could be next. Everyone in the Australian public space is on notice: if you cross us, or our proprietor, his family, our worldview or our business interests, you could become the next victim of an Australian Holy War."

Sunday 29 October 2017

Insects Biomass: has the warning come too late to avoid ecosystem collapse?

We have all noticed it. The decline in butterfly, moth, bee, beetle and other flying insect numbers in our gardens and local town parks – even the total disappearance of once regular seasonal insect visitors.

When was the last time you walked through a fluttering cloud of butterflies, disturbed a cluster of moths in the thick grass, admired the glossy sheen on the back of a "Christmas Beetle", noticed a host of dragonflies dancing above summer rain puddles or watched brightly coloured native bees going about their business amongst the blossoms?

A new study appears to confirm a decline which became very noticeable in the small town where I live by the late 1990s.

CNN, 19 October 2017:

A new scientific study has found "dramatic" and "alarming" declines in insect populations in areas in Germany, which researchers say could have far-reaching consequences for the world's crop production and natural ecosystems…..

"The flying insect community as a whole... has been decimated over the last few decades," said the study, which was conducted by Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and the Entomological Society Krefeld in Germany.

"Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services."
Co-author Caspar Hallman said he and his colleagues were "very, very surprised" by the results.

"These are not agricultural areas, these are locations meant to preserve biodiversity, but still we see the insects slipping out of our hands," he told CNN.

Entomologists have long had evidence of the decline of individual species, said Tanya Latty, a research and teaching fellow in entomology at Sydney University's School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

However, few studies have taken such a broad view of entire insect populations, she says.

"This study lumps all flying insects together," she said, which gives researchers a more accurate picture of the overall decline.

"If you see these sort of dramatic declines in protected areas it makes me worry that this (trend) could be everywhere," she said.

"There's no reason to think this isn't happening everywhere."

Hallmann CA, Sorg M, Jongejans E, Siepel H, Hofland N, Schwan H, et al. (2017) More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas.


Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna. Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.


Loss of insects is certain to have adverse effects on ecosystem functioning, as insects play a central role in a variety of processes, including pollination [12], herbivory and detrivory [34], nutrient cycling [4] and providing a food source for higher trophic levels such as birds, mammals and amphibians. For example, 80% of wild plants are estimated to depend on insects for pollination [2], while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source [5]. The ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA [6]. Clearly, preserving insect abundance and diversity should constitute a prime conservation priority.

Current data suggest an overall pattern of decline in insect diversity and abundance. For example, populations of European grassland butterflies are estimated to have declined by 50% in abundance between 1990 and 2011 [7]. Data for other well-studied taxa such as bees [814] and moths [1518] suggest the same trend. Climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, and deterioration of habitat quality have been proposed as some of the prime suspects responsible for the decline [911131822]. However, the number of studies on insect trends with sufficient replication and spatial coverage are limited [102325] and restricted to certain well-studied taxa. Declines of individual species or taxa (e.g. [726]) may not reflect the general state of local entomofauna [27]. The total insect biomass would then be a better metric for the status of insects as a group and its contribution to ecosystem functioning, but very few studies have monitored insect biomass over an extensive period of time [28]. Hence, to what extent total insect biomass has declined, and the relative contribution of each proposed factor to the decline, remain unresolved yet highly relevant questions for ecosystem ecology and conservation.

Here, we investigate total aerial insect biomass between 1989 and 2016 across 96 unique location-year combinations in Germany, representative of Western European low-altitude nature protection areas embedded in a human-dominated landscape (S1 Fig). In all years we sampled insects throughout the season (March through October), based on a standardized sampling scheme using Malaise traps. We investigated rate of decline in insect biomass, and examined how factors such as weather, habitat and land use variables influenced the declines. Knowledge on the state of insect biomass, and it's direction over time, are of broad importance to ecology and conservation, but historical data on insect biomass have been lacking. Our study makes a first step into filling this gap, and provides information that is vital for the assessment of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health in agricultural landscapes.


Following corrections for seasonal variation and habitat cluster (basic model, see Materials and methods), the annual trend coefficient of our basic model was significantly negative (annual trend coefficient = −0.063, sd = 0.002, i.e. 6.1% annual decline). Based on this result, we estimate that a major (up to 81.6% [79.7–83.4%]) decline in mid-summer aerial insect biomass has taken place since 1989 (Fig 2A). However, biomass loss was more prominent in mid-summer as compared to the start and end of the season (Fig 3A), indicating that the highest losses occur when biomass is highest during the season (Fig 2B). As such, a seasonally weighted estimate (covering the period 1-April to 30-October; see methods) results in an overall 76.7% [74.8–78.5%] decline over a 27 year period. The pattern of decline is very similar across locations that were sampled more than once (Fig 4), suggesting that the estimated temporal decline based on the entire dataset is not confounded by the sampling procedure. Re-estimation of the annual decline based on 26 locations that have been sampled in more than one year (S4 Fig), revealed a similar rate of decline (76.2%[73.9–78.3%]).

Fig 2. Temporal distribution of insect biomass.
(A) Boxplots depict the distribution of insect biomass (gram per day) pooled over all traps and catches in each year (n = 1503). Based on our final model, the grey line depicts the fitted mean (+95% posterior credible intervals) taking into account weather, landscape and habitat effects. The black line depicts the mean estimated trend as estimated with our basic model. (B) Seasonal distribution of insect biomass showing that highest insect biomass catches in mid summer show most severe declines. Color gradient in both panels range from 1989 (blue) to 2016 (orange). 

Read the full published study here.

The American Resistance has many faces and this is just one of them (15)

Carmen Yulín Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico an unincorporated U.S. territory

Saturday 28 October 2017

The perception that Turnbull & Co are conducting a political witch hunt is not going to go away anytime soon

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, media release, 27 October 2017:

Timetable set for Federal Court action on unprecedented raids

A court timetable has been set in the AWU’s fight to challenge the validity of this week’s unprecedented police raids launched by the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) on the union’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, who are representing the AWU, said today that court orders confirming a timetable for the case had been agreed to by all parties, removing the need for a Federal Court directions hearing that had been scheduled for this morning in Melbourne.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Josh Bornstein said critically that the orders were made together with commitments from both the ROC and AFP that no documents seized in this week’s raids by the AFP will be handed over to the ROC until the court has heard the case.

Mr Bornstein said the union's case compromised two key parts, namely: 
That the raid conducted by the AFP was illegal; and
That the investigation by the ROC is illegal because it is politically motivated.

“Prior to these raids, the union had handed over disclosure statements from 10 years ago in relation to Get Up donations to the ROC, but in doing so had pressed the regulator to provide it with information about the political interference by the Turnbull government in this matter.

“Disturbingly, the ROC has refused to hand over all file notes of its communications with Minister Cash and her office and we  will continue to seek all such documents as part of the federal court case,” he said.

Under the agreed timetable evidence must be obtained from all parties next month, with the respondents required to file their defence by 1 December 2017. A substantive hearing will be held in December at a date to be set, following the filing of defences.


In 2015 the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption considered matters relating to seven unions, one of which was the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

AWU activity during the years 2003-2010 were examined by the Royal Commission, including financial records which would have included donations by AWU to outside organisations/groups, including the $100k donation to the activist groupGetUp!

No evidence appears to have been presented during Commission hearings relating to GetUp! or to the 2006 AWU donation to this group and, there were no adverse findings made against Bill Shorten in the Commission's December 2015 Final Report.

As far as I’m aware a reporting unit such as the Australian Workers Union New South Wales Branch or Australian Workers Victorian Branch is only legally obliged to hold records for 7 years and it appears Ms. Cash was ignoring the fact that a) there was no obligation to supply her with this so-called evidence and b) these documents could have been lawfully disposed of anytime after 2013 if the union had so decided.

On 20 October 2017 in response to Senator Cash’s referral ROC began an investigation into the AWU.

Despite that fact ROC applied for search warrants for AWU branch offices in Sydney and Melbourne and these were issued before 10am on 24 October 2017.

The Australian Federal Police scheduled what it thought was an unpublicized search late on the afternoon of 24 October 2017.

Police were greeted outside the union offices by an assorted collection of mainstream print and television media who had been alerted to the time and place of the ‘raid’ by Senator Cash’s office.

An unknown number of union records were removed by the police.

Financial Review, excerpt from Media leaks about AFP AWU raids a disaster for Turnbull, Cash and government, 26 October 2017:

Political Cartoon of the Week

Political Memes of the Week

Via Ming The Merciless

via Twitter

Friday 27 October 2017

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

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

Friday 27 October 2017 at 2.15pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judgment delivered Friday, 27 October 2017:

Tasmanian Liberal Premier Will Hodgman must now demonstrate maturity - Don't treat takayna / Tarkine as political football

HODGMAN MUST NOW DEMONSTRATE MATURITY – Don’t treat takayna / Tarkine as political football
“Aboriginal heritage in takayna is one step closer to permanent protection, with federal agreement that the Hodgman government cannot continue its destruction there without assessment and federal approval. This is what Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has been seeking in court hearings since 2014. A major achievement for us on our way to Aboriginal control and protection of our own heritage,” Sharnie Read, spokesperson for Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre said.
“This decision is a strong message to the Hodgman Government that their stance regarding 4WD access to the Western Tasmanian Aboriginal Cultural Landscape (WTACL) is clearly wrong. They have not been capable of showing a way forward that will not impact and cause irreparable damage to the ancient Aboriginal heritage, cultural and natural values,” Sharnie Read said.
“The Hodgman government cannot be trusted to protect, manage or value this significant landscape and should return the area to the rightful owners, the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. This is the only way we can be assured the area is afforded the protected and conservation it deserves,” Sharnie Read said.
“Now the Federal Government have recognised their role, they must also accept responsibility and stand up to our intransigent state government and do what needs to be done to protect this national heritage listed landscape. It is a national shame to have vehicles smashing through one of Australia’s most significant and richest Aboriginal heritage landscapes, where critically endangered and other threatened species rely on an intact wild coastline for survival. These tracks need to stay closed,” said Bob Brown Foundation’s Campaign Manager Jenny Weber.

"Actions speak louder than words. The Tasmanian government tried to ride roughshod over due process for political advantage with a constituency who have been riding roughshod over priceless Aboriginal heritage of the ages. It's time to show respect, back off, and elevate protection of this special indigenous heritage above base politics." Peg Putt, Markets for Change said.

"This is a welcome decision that gives yet another opportunity to Premier and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Will Hodgman to prioritise leadership, good faith and what is right, over cheap, local politics and drop his plan to expand destructive 4WD tracks across an irreplaceable Aboriginal cultural landscape," said Vica Bayley, Campaign Manager, The Wilderness Society Tasmania.

“Protecting the natural shorebird values protects the cultural values present on these remote beaches – both of these have been present for thousands of generations, and deserve better than the Tasmanian Government’s callous disregard for them in preference to destructive 4WDs,” said Dr Eric Woehler, Birdlife Tasmania.

"Premier Hodgman has an opportunity to abandon this destructive policy. Or he can push ahead with three and a half years of community conflict and disrespect of this outstanding Aboriginal heritage", said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.


Email the Prime Minister & Tasmanian Premier at http://www.takayna.org/

Send a submission to Federal Environment Minister at http://www.bobbrown.org.au/tarkine_news