Sunday 30 September 2018

A tale of NSW Liberal politicians & a printing company with no commercial printer

BuzzFeed, 25 September 2018:

In a perfectly manicured cul-de-sac in Bella Vista, a suburb in the Hills district northwest of Sydney’s CBD, a business called Zion Graphics operates out of a mansion.

Run by Rudy Limantono, the president of the Bella Vista Liberal branch and also a party donor, Zion Graphics is the printer of choice for the local federal member of parliament, Alex Hawke…..

Hawke, 41, was recently promoted to the ministry after the latest Liberal leadership spill that saw Morrison take the top job. Hawke is now the special minister of state, responsible for integrity and parliamentarians’ spending, and is Morrison’s representative on the NSW Liberal state executive.

Hawke uses Zion Graphics to print his newsletters, flyers, community surveys, and more…..

Limantono also would not disclose the amount of business Hawke has sent him, claiming “commercial in confidence”. He said that he has been Hawke’s go-to printer “since his election” but would not specify how many years. Hawke was first elected to federal parliament in 2007.

Zion Graphics has no website or Facebook page. The phone number connected to the business is registered at the Limantonos’ family home.

And BuzzFeed News understands the company doesn’t actually own a commercial printer…..

Hills Banners (which recently merged with Bannerworld in Winston Hills) confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it has been printing material for Zion Graphics for at least the last two years.

Hills Banners said it received electronic files (PDFs) from Zion Graphics and would print tens of thousands of copies. Depending on the size of the order, it would take four to seven working days to complete the job.

NSW Liberal sources say that Zion Graphics charges clients a premium rate, then contracts out the actual printing to Hills Banners, which charges much less for the same service, leaving Zion Graphics with a tidy profit.

Limantono did not deny this, but told BuzzFeed News there was no “impropriety”….

BuzzFeed News asked Zion Graphics how much it would cost to print 30,000 newsletters and received a quote for $7,150 + GST. Hills Banners said it would charge $4,000 + GST for the same job.

BuzzFeed, 26 September 2018:

Hawke isn’t the only Liberal politician that uses Zion Graphics. Limantono refused to reveal who his clients were, claiming "commercial in confidence".

But BuzzFeed News has found at least eight other Liberal politicians who have given hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funded business to Limantono.

Federal families and social services minister Paul Fletcher; federal backbencher Julian Leeser; NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet; NSW minister for mental health, women and ageing Tanya Davies; NSW minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres; NSW minister for innovation and better regulation Matt Kean; NSW member for Seven Hills Mark Taylor; and NSW member for Baulkham Hills David Elliott use Zion Graphics to print documents including newsletters, flyers and community surveys.

Adani Group has Morrison, Price, Littleproud & Taylor wrapped around its little finger

Since September 2013 the Australian Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government has been a rolling national disaster.

This latest episode appears to have its roots in the hard right's commitment to dismantle environmental protections.

Especially replacing Labor's "water trigger" amendment to the ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION ACT 1999 with a band-aid which fooled no-one.

ABC News, 25 September 2018:

A farmer has been denied access to a river system Adani plans on drawing 12.5 billion litres of water from in what activists are calling a "double standard", documents obtained under freedom of information laws show.

The mining giant plans to take 12.5 billion litres of water from the Suttor River every year, nearly as much as all local farmers combined.

Despite this amount, the documents show at least one irrigator had their application for a water licence rejected in 2011, leading activists to claim farmers were assessed more harshly than Adani.

The documents also show the modelling used by the company to predict the impacts of the water usage ignored the past 14 years of rainfall data and, despite planning to take water until 2077, it did not take into account the impacts of climate change.

"Altogether, this underscores how poor the decision was last week to allow 12.5 billion litres to be taken without assessment," Carmel Flint from anti-mining group Lock The Gate Alliance said. The group obtained the documents under Queensland's Right To Information laws.....

Saturday 29 September 2018

Quotes of the Week

“There are some people who seem to find it a very funny circumstance that last week, in full daylight, and in a main street of Cooktown, two black troopers, with their clothes in the same condition as those of a clumsy butcher’s apprentice, fresh from the shambles, exhibited a naked black girl, not twelve years old, as their newly caught prize. This young slave, taken by force . . . has since been transferred, either for payment or as a gift, to a citizen in this town, whose property she has now become. What were the circumstances that attended, or immediately followed, her capture we do not know, nor do we very much care to inquire ...”  [ Journalist & author Carl Feilberg writing in the Cooktown Courier in January 1877 ]

“Adding a new level of fear and uncertainty onto that with the findings coming out of a royal commission is going to harm the community as well as the industry,”  [CEO Clarence Village Ltd Duncan McKimm acting as an apologist for the aged care industry in The Daily Examiner ahead of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety]

Tweet of the Week

Friday 28 September 2018

Two Boats: Australian Prime Minister caught out by media, 20 September 2018:

Mr Morrison was the immigration minister who enforced the controversial policy to stop asylum seeker boats reaching Australia.

The Prime Minister addressed the trophy in an interview with the Nine Network on Thursday.

“It was given to me by a mate down in the Shire who runs a sign business. He loved the fact that we did that,” Mr Morrison said.

“It has been sitting in my office, by the way, for about five years. I don’t think that there is anything terribly new about it.”

The Guardian, 22 September 2018:

Scott Morrison gave a model of an asylum-seeker boat emblazoned with the words “We stopped these” to Roman Quaedvlieg as a thank-you gift for his work on the Coalition’s border protection policy, Quaedvlieg has said….

Morrison said his model had been with him for about four years but he did not mention that he had also given out others as gifts….

It’s understood other [boat] trophies were also handed out.

Americans now spending time imagining their president's genitalia

Yet another book about US President Donald J. Trump has hit the bookstores.

This one includes a desciption of Trump's genitalia - unusual... smaller than average with a huge mushroom head... like a toadstool... like the mushroom character ... surrouded by "yeti pubes".

The US media kindly supplied various images of "Red Toad" to help with the imagining.....
Red Toad

Thursday 27 September 2018

Who was it that told ABC Chairman Justin Milne that the public broadcaster would be denied funding if it didn’t remove journalists that federal government ministers wanted silenced?

On 24 September 2018 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) board announced the sacking of Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, stating “it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation”.

By 27 September the facts began this statement had emerged. 

These showed political appointee to the ABC board chairmanship, Justin Milne, in a less than attractive light.

Having now been caught out acting as a heavy-handed surrogate for the Liberal-Nationals Federal Government, this very same government is reportedly now pressuring Milne to resign ahead of the 20 October Wentworth by-election to save it further embarrassing revelations.

This is how the matter is playing out in the media…….

9 News, 26 September 2018:

Political pressure is mounting on the ABC chair Justin Milne after revelations he ordered sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie to get rid of a senior presenter because the Turnbull Government "hates her".

The instruction to sack Emma Alberici came in an email from Mr Milne to Ms Guthrie in May, Fairfax Media reported. 

"They [the government] hate her," Mr Milne wrote. "We are tarred with her brush. I think it's simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC - not Emma. There is no guarantee they [the coalition] will lose the next election."

The comments were circulated to members of the ABC board a week before Ms Guthrie was sacked on Monday.

Malcolm Turnbull sent a list of concerns to ABC news director Gaven Morris about Ms Alberici's coverage of the government in May.

The Guardian, 26 September 2018:

The ABC chairman, Justin Milne, vehemently opposed moving the Hottest 100 away from Australia Day and tried to convince the ABC board to reverse the Triple J decision, saying “Malcolm [Turnbull] will go ballistic”, Guardian Australia has been told.

Multiple sources have said that the former managing director Michelle Guthrie supported the Triple J decision, which was taken after a year’s consultation, and convinced the board not to bow to pressure from the government.

There was huge pressure on the ABC because the communications minister, Mitch Fifield, had asked the ABC board to reconsider the decision to move the Triple J Hottest 100 from Australia Day because it was “making a political statement” by taking an action that would “help to delegitimise Australia Day”.

Milne was also opposed to Guthrie’s handling of the ABC’s Tonightly sketch in which they used the word “cunt” when highlighting the racist past of the grazier John Batman.

In a skit aired in March, a candidate for Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives party, Kevin Bailey, was lampooned about the name of the electorate of Batman.

Milne was furious and adamant that Tonightly presenter Tom Ballard should immediately apologise for the sketch on the program, but Guthrie insisted that the ABC’s internal complaints process run its due course.

The ABC’s internal complaints unit and the Australian Communications and Media Authority cleared the Tonightly sketch.

“Michelle was always saying we should back our artists and staff but Justin was always interfering and saying this will annoy the government,” a source close to the board said.

“Michelle stood up to Milne when he tried to interfere with management decisions. He believe Emma Alberici should be sacked and the top 100 should not be moved.”

Financial Review, 26 September 2018:

ABC chairman Justin Milne asked former managing director Michelle Guthrie to take action against two ABC journalists, political reporter Andrew Probyn and radio broadcaster Jon Faine, who had upset the government, according to a source familiar with the conversations.

The complaints about the two high-profile journalists were made verbally, and followed Mr Faine's clashes with a government minister and coverage that upset the Coalition by Mr Probyn, the source said.

The Guardian, 26 September 2018:

Another source said: “He [Milne] would intervene by contacting an executive and, not long after, a formal complaint would come in from minister’s office.

“He also referred to former ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie as ‘the missus’.”

The New Daily, 26 September 2018:

The Scott Morrison government and the ABC board are moving to pressure ABC chairman Justin Milne to resign as soon as possible.

Mr Milne has refused to budge after a leaked email has been widely viewed as direct evidence of a breach of his director duties under the ABC Act.

But overnight there was another leak to The Daily Telegraph – an ABC board document in which sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie alleges Mr Milne ordered her to fire political editor Andrew Probyn. “You have to shoot him”, The Telegraph reported the document as saying, because former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull “hated” Mr Probyn. The exchange was said to have occurred in a telephone conversation on June 15.

“He told me I was putting the future of the ABC at risk as we are asking the government for half a billion dollars for Jetstream and we won’t get it unless I do what I’m told,” The Telegraph reported the leaked Guthrie document said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 2018:

Turnbull, a former journalist who knows how errors of fact or judgment can infect a journalist's copy, might have tried negotiating directly with Alberici before reaching for the official complaints switch, and he might have respected the ABC's actions to correct matters of fact after the ABC's independent complaints review department had investigated.

Instead, by exerting his clout at high levels within the broadcaster, it appeared to anyone who cared to look that the old business of serially intimidating the ABC, which relies on government funding, had reached peak velocity.

In turn, Milne, a former business partner of Turnbull and thus requiring considerable steadiness to prevent being accused of bearing a conflict, lost all sense of proportion at the sound of shot.

No cool-headed chairmanship here: apparently infected by hysteria, he waved his own sword. "Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC - not Emma."

No-one has yet answered the burning question; Who was it that told Justin Milne that the ABC would be denied funding if it didn’t remove journalists that Liberal-Nationals federal government ministers wanted silenced?

Morrison Government is making sure that Centrelink clients' worst nightmares are coming true

The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 2018:

Labour hire workers will soon be used in face-to-face roles in Centrelink offices across the country, as part of a six-month trial.

Thirty labour hire workers will be used in some Centrelink offices in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia in what is believed to be self-managed support advisor roles from next month. This person generally greets people as they enter Centrelink offices and often directs them to using computers and phones in the offices.

The move is another step in increasing use of labour hire at the agency, following on from the announcement that 1500 call centre roles would be outsourced to Serco, Stellar Asia Pacific, Concentrix Services and DataCom Connect.

It had also previously been announced that 1000 staff from labour hire firms would be deployed at Centrelink offices around the country, and a pilot program with Serco with 250 call centre staff means 2750 contractors have been hired since last year to work at the agency. It's believed the trial is part of existing labour hire contracts Human Services has with private companies.

A Department of Human Services spokeswoman said the 30 staff members were additional staff.

"There are no job losses associated with the move," the spokeswoman said.
The main public sector union is worried that members of the public will be dealing with staff members who aren't employed by the government.

"The CPSU is seriously concerned that labour hire workers will now be the first port of call for customers walking into a Centrelink office, instead of permanent members of staff. We want Australians to be served by experienced and properly trained staff members," Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly said.

"The job might sound easy but dealing with clients who may be agitated or distressed as they walk into an office can be very difficult, and could pose a risk to the safety of the workers."

It's not yet clear how workloads will be managed in a role that was previously shared among Centrelink staff throughout a shift.

“Experienced Centrelink staff are able to manage that, but it’s going to be much harder for labour hire workers who don’t have the same experience or background. 

This is bad news for those workers and bad news for members of the community who are trying to access services," Ms Donnelly said.


* Private prison operator Serco has a disreptuable history in Australia and overseas.
See: &

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Prime Minister Scott Morrison favours a romanticised, sanitised version of Australian history

Thus far around 250 sites of massacres which occurred between 1788 and 1930 have been mapped by Newcastle University. This is an ongoing project.

Each dot on the map represents the murder of 6 or more people and one dot in the Northern Rivers region (north-east NSW) represents 100 Aboriginal men, women and children slaughtered in 1843 by 11 mounted stockmen using firearms and swords, supported by sailors on nearby ships. Only two children from the Aboriginal camp were said to have survived.

In another instance in the Northern Rivers one arrogant 'settler' committed wilful murder by giving poisoned flour to unsuspecting local Aboriginals in 1848 resulting in 23 deaths.

This is what the New South Wales section of the massacre map looks like.

Interactive Colonial Fronteirs map of Australia at

An est. 5 per cent of the total population of the Northern Rivers are Aboriginal people principally from the Bundjalung, Yaegl, Gumbaynggirr and Githabul Nations.

They are an integral part of townships and villages spread across seven local government areas and, able to clearly demonstrate cultural connection to country, hold Native Title over land and water in parts of this region.

These families and tribal groupings contribute to the richness of community life in the Northern Rivers.

So Byron Shire Council's media release of 20 September 2018 comes as no surprise.

However, Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison's reaction and the manner in which it was delivered did surprise me. 

SBS News, 24 September 2018:

A NSW mayor says his council's decision to change the date of an Australia Day ceremony is to reflect history after Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in.

A NSW mayor whose council won't hold its Australia Day ceremony on January 26 has hit back at Scott Morrison after the prime minister tweeted about the issue.

Byron Shire Council will hold some council events on the national holiday but has announced its official ceremony will move to January 25.

Mr Morrison on Monday said the "modern Aus nation" began on January 26, 1788 and that was the day to reflect on what the nation had accomplished, become, and still had to achieve.

"Indulgent self-loathing doesn't make Australia stronger," Mr Morrison tweeted on Monday.

"Being honest about the past does."

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said the celebrations on January 26 caused pain in a section of the community and questioned whether the values of a fair go and mateship were being reflected.

"Is it true mateship to willingly, willfully and continually to celebrate what rightfully is great to be an Australian on a day that some Australians are pained by?" the Greens representative told 3AW on Monday.

He said the prime minister's response was understandable but he found the remark about "modern Australia" interesting.

"I thought we were actually celebrating Australia Day, not 'modern' Australia Day,"

"All we're trying to do is trying to reflect history and acknowledge that Australia began, not with the second wave of settlers, but the first."

Mr Richardson's motion was passed at a council meeting last week.

The current prime minister obviously favours the same distorted version of Australian history as sacked former prime minister & Liberal MP for Warringah, Tony Abbott.

One where the heroic and benign British brought 'civilisation' to these shores.

He can't even get his historical dates right -  26 January 1788 was not "the day the ships turned up". The first of the ships turned up at Botany Bay on Friday 18 January 1788 and the fleet shifted moorings to Sydney Cove on 25 January.

Saturday 26 January 1788 was the day Arthur Phillip formally took possession of the country in the name of King George III. This was the day traditional owners became dispossessed of their lands. By 1790 the killings had begun. Over 200 years later they are still occurring.

Dismissing the history of colonial dispossession and massacre as "a few scars, a few mistakes, a few things you could have done better" is disingenuous.

A responsible adult in the prime minister's office needs to place all Morrison's digital devices under lock and key, as his wide streak of historical ignorance and intolerance is showing in his tweets and photo opportunities.

This obviously has not happened to date, because faced with an inevitable backlash (a good many Australians having a level of maturity Morrison lacks), this dismal prime minister then decided that our collective history should be split into two separate streams:
In his tweets there is no indication that he had met with Aboriginal representative organisations to ask what their wishes might be before making his rather vague announcement.

Morrison has stated an intention to strip Byron Shire Council of its right to hold citizenship ceremonies after the local government moved its Australia Day ceremony forward by a day commencing January 2019.


January 2018 - It's Australia Day and......

January 2017 - Australia Day: what's in a date?

Clarence Valley Council fined and facing potential million dollar court judgment for destroying red bean scar tree in Grafton between 2013 & 2016

A Red Bean mahogany tree* that is estimated to have stood on the floodplain before the first British-European set foot in the Clarence Valley is no more and no amount of local government mea culpas will ever bring it back.

200 year old Red Bean Scar Tree after 2013 lopping: Image The Daily Examiner

The Daily Examiner
, 20 September 2018, p1:

A former Clarence Valley mayor has publicly apologised for the removal of a culturally significant tree from a Grafton street, which has the potential to cost the Clarence Valley Council $1.1million.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Cr Richie Williamson unreservedly apologised to the Aboriginal community for the removal of a scar tree over a period from 2013 to 2016, when he was mayor.

The council was discussing a response to a Land and Environment Court case in which the council had pleaded guilty to removing the remains of a scar tree on the corner of Breimba and Dovedale streets in 2016.

The history of the tree’s removal over that time is a record of council bungling, which had already cost the council $1500 for breaching the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

In 2013 council staff lopped the crown of the tree after an aboriculture inspection found the tree to be in poor condition.

In response the council provided staff with training in dealing with items of cultural significance to Aboriginal people, introduced staff to the Office of Environment and Heritage’s handbook on scar trees, tightened up procedure to ensure approval and assessments were completed and preparation of a Clarence Valley Aboriginal Heritage Study.

Despite this, three years later council staff completely removed the tree without approval from higher management, provoking an OEH investigation that has led to the Land and Environment Court case, which is ongoing.

During the debate, Cr Williamson addressed the meeting to tell of his deep embarrassment on behalf of the council and personal and deep sadness at the actions that led to the removal of the tree.

“I met with a number of Elders who were deeply, deeply hurt by the action of the council,” he said.

“I also recall it was around the time of NAIDOC Week and it was very sad for them and the hurt was clearly displayed on their faces.”

Cr Williamson said the destruction of the tree should never have happened and he remained remorseful for the actions of others.

“I’m sure we all in this chamber would expect and are striving for better within our organisation,” he said.

“We have come some way, but clearly we have a long way to go.”

The council voted unanimously to support an apology to the Aboriginal community and other measures.


The red bean or Miva mahogany is a rainforest tree in the mahogany family, Meliaceae. Dysoxylum mollissimum subsp. molle occurs in tropical, sub-tropical and littoral rainforests in eastern Australia, as far southwards as north-eastern New South Wales.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Let's talk about education funding under a hard-right Morrison Coalition Government

If one attempts to assess access and equity in education across Australian society there is a measurement tool available which gives some indication.

The Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) is a scale that represents levels of educational advantage based on the relationship between the educational advantage a student has, as measured by the parents’ occupation and level of education completed, and their educational achievement.

This measurement as applied to a school is broken down into five factors:
1. Parents’ Occupation
2. Parents’ Education
3. Geographical Location
4. Percentage of Aboriginal students
5. Percentage of disadvantaged LBOTE students.

Therefore if the majority of a school's population come from families where one or both parents had a tertiary-level education and the employed parent/s has a profession, or is self-employed or in a management position and these families live in suburbs where the median household income is above the average for the region and, there are fewer indigenous and/or disadvantaged students in the school population – then the community socio-educational advantage score will be higher for that school.

According to  the Top 20 Australian Primary Schools for 2016 were:

PRIMARY SCHOOLS  (combined ICSEA score as a percentage of all Number One schools)

Sydney Grammar School – 100%
Presbyterian Ladies' College – 99.69%
St Aloysius' College – 97.57%
Abbotsleigh – 95.26%
Yarwun State School* – 95.20%
St Andrews Christian College – 94.39%
Northcross Christian School – 94.20%
Huntingtower School – 94.14%
Haileybury College – 93.98%
Meriden School – 93.86%
Matthew Pearce Public School* – 93.81%
John Colet School – 93.79%
Arkana College – 93.61%
Burwood East Primary School* – 93.33%
Artarmon Public School* – 93.28%
Camberwell Girls Grammar School – 93.09%
Woollahra Public School* – 92.96%
Fintona Girls' School – 92.92%
Hornsby North Public School* – 92.68%
Serpell Primary School* – 92.68%.

Only 7 government schools across the country are in the Top 20 Primary Schools.

While 47 of the Top 100 Primary Schools are government schools.

Conversely the Top 20 Australian Secondary Schools for 2016 are dominated by government selective schools.

However, 73 of the Top 100 Secondary Schools are non-government schools.

When it comes to the total Australian primary & secondary school student population, Independent schools enrol 5% of children from below the ICSEA benchmark average, Catholic schools enrol 11% of children below the benchmark average and Government schools which enrol est. 65% of all children also enrol 52% of children below the benchmark average.

Yet under a Morrison Coalition Government $4.5 billion in additional funding is to be given to private schools – most of which do not appear to require this additional funding to produce high education outcomes.

Apparently Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison and his hard-right cronies consider only families from the likes of Vaucluse, Point Piper, Toorak, Bulimba, Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Forrest, Red Hill, Rose Park and Sandy Bay are the type of people who "have a go" and therefore deserve to get "a fair go".