Wednesday 31 October 2018

North Coast Environment Council Global Position Statement Says NO to Wood-fired Power Stations

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's hypocrisy as a self-professed Christian and as a politician gets called out

Kelso Lawyers, 23 October 2018:

On 22 October 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologised to the thousands of survivors of institutional child abuse.

There’s no refuting the power of a sincere and considered apology. As Mr Morrison delivered his apology from Parliament yesterday, emotions were high and many tears were spilled. He made promises of a National Museum for a place of remembrance and a commitment to “bring some healing to our nation and to learn from our past horrors.”

Yet, there was something off about his speech. As Mr Morrison acknowledged the good work of Julia Gillard’s Royal Commission and the commencement of the National Redress Scheme, it became apparent that this was one big advertisement for the widely criticised National Redress Scheme, dressed-up as a national apology.

The sentimental words and heartfelt delivery by the Prime Minister were not enough to mask the stench of the hypocrisy in the air. “The National Redress Scheme… recognises the impact of past abuse and provides justice for survivors,” he said. Mr Morrison went on to list the ways in which child abuse impacts victims, acknowledging that some turn to drugs and crime. He stated, “A sorry from a nation that seeks to reach out in compassion into the darkness, where you have lived for so long”, adding that “One survivor says it was like becoming a stranger to your parents – mental health, illness, self-harm and addiction followed.”

At one point, Mr Morrison paused and questioned, “Why was our system of justice blind to injustice?” As he lamented over the failings of the past in one breath, and praised the National Redress Scheme in the next, his own blindness to present day injustice was more apparent than ever.

Might it be the log in his own eye impeding his sight?

For a Government which supposedly understands the plight of institutional abuse victims, the Scheme which it created is tragically and inexcusably unjust. Despite the clear connection between childhood trauma and substance abuse and crime in adulthood, the National Redress Scheme seeks to specifically exclude victims with a criminal history from redress. Nowhere in its recommendations, did the Royal Commission propose excluding victims on this basis.

This is only one example of bias and injustice in the National Redress Scheme. In reality, it is an obstacle course designed to reduce liability for Churches and Institutions. It’s not what Julia Gillard intended.

Fortunately, victims still have hope as the National Redress Scheme is only one option for compensation. [my yellow highlighting]

Tuesday 30 October 2018

This is the man and politician that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison seeks to emulate

Make no mistake, former Immigration Minister, former Treasurer and, current interim Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is consulting the political playbook of this narcistic, entitled, pathological lying, corrupt, misogynist, racist and socially, economically & politically destructive U.S. president, Donald John Trump......

US President  Donald J Trump Image The Australian
Birds of a feather flock together

A public servant who sees being out-of-step with Australian values as a virtue

Gary Thomas Johns is a former Labor politician and current full-time Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) since December 2017.

At the time of his appointment he was also Director of the Australian Institute for Progress and an Adjunct Professor at the Queensland University of Technology Business School.

BuzzFeed News, 25 October 2018:

The boss of Australia's charity regulator has refused to back down from his earlier description of Aboriginal women as "cash cows", while claiming that including an acknowledgement of country in his email signature would make him seem biased.

Appearing before Senate Estimates on Wednesday evening, the head of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), Gary Johns, was questioned about his recent decision to remove the acknowledgement of country from the commission's email signatures.

Until a few months ago, his own signature and that of some of his staff had included an acknowledgement of country, beginning with "we acknowledge the elders". The practice of acknowledging country is common across the public service.

Johns said he was trying to avoid looking biased, as the commission oversees both Indigenous and non-indigenous charities and he is a "commissioner for all charities".
"It worried me, the term 'we acknowledge', because it refers to the commission," he said. "I took the view that ... using the words 'we acknowledge' imply that the entire commission was, if you like, acknowledging one group of charities and not others," he said.

"The words raise the perception of bias that I'm not treating all charities the same," he said. "I think that's plain on the face of it."

Johns raised the issue with ACNC staff whose signatures contained an acknowledgement of country, but left them the option of changing "we acknowledge" to "I acknowledge". One staff member objected, and Johns says he took no disciplinary action against her.

Labor senator Jenny McAllister said to Johns that the acknowledgement "doesn't in any way speak about charities ... Traditional owners are not charities". Johns said that it "refers to Indigenous people", and McAllister replied that Indigenous people were "people and citizens", not charities.

"To be an Indigenous charity, you need a number of Indigenous people on the board, so to all intents and purposes they are," Johns replied, pointing to the charitable purposes of organisations such as Reconciliation Australia, which he said only apply to Indigenous people.

Johns' appointment to ACNC commissioner in December 2017 was controversial, partly because of his public stance on Indigenous issues.

In a 2015 appearance on The Bolt Report Johns said that Aboriginal women were "used as cash cows. They are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash". He has argued that women on welfare should have to take contraception. He has also criticised Indigenous not-for-profits, describing Recognise, an organisation that campaigned to raise awareness and support for constitutional recognition of Australia's First Peoples, as "the officially sanctioned propaganda arm of the Australian Government" in his 2014 book The Charity Ball.

In his estimates appearance Johns said he had "absolutely not" disavowed those views. "I'm quite public," he said in response to questioning from McAllister. "I've written for 30 years about a whole range of matters. Why would I seek to disavow any of that?"
McAllister asked whether he had done anything to "dispel any perception of bias" that his previous comments might have created.

"No, and I don't need to as the commissioner," he replied……

Shadow minister for charities and not-for-profits Andrew Leigh, who previously started a petition calling on Johns to resign, said it was "disappointing" that Johns had "publicly confirmed during a parliamentary hearing in his role as the charities commissioner that he still holds these opinions". He described Johns as "drastically out of touch with the Australian community".

"What remains to be heard is [the government's] explanation of how he can possibly remain [at the ACNC] given his comments," Leigh said.

Monday 29 October 2018

Morrison Government whittling away at health & safety requirements in live sheep export trade

“Space allocation per animal must be based on allometric principles and increased by at least 30% for sheep that weigh 40 to 60 kg (based on a k-value of 0.033). The typical sheep sent to the Middle East is an adult Merino wether in this weight range. This increase in space (k = 0.033) is the minimum amount needed to alleviate adverse welfare outcomes, and must be implemented across all body weights and all months of the year…. Irrespective of stocking density, thermoregulatory physiology indicates that sheep on live export voyages to the Middle East during May to October will remain susceptible to heat stress and die due to the expected extreme climatic conditions during this time. Accordingly, voyages carrying live sheep to the Middle East during May to October cannot be recommended.”  [Submission from the Australian Veterinary Association, May 2018]
Between January and September 2018 Australia exported 973,651 live sheep.

The majority of these sheep were exported by sea for slaughter at destination and, the size of each sea shipment ranged from 498 animals up to 68,039 animals.

It is not unusual for sheep deaths on these voyages to number in the hundreds.

Overall sheep mortality for the first 6 months of the year ran at 0.61% as of June 2018

That represents almost 6,000 sheep which died due to the stress of the sea voyage and conditions on board the export vessel from January to June.

One can reasonably expect sheep mortality rates to rise given the Morison Government's recent decision to increase sheep density numbers on board export vessels.

A decision it apparently arrived at after the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources & Nationals MP for Maranoa David Littleproud had announced that the government had accepted all 23 recommendations in the Review of conditions for the export of sheep to the Middle East during the northern summer report.

From 1 November 2018 the floor space per adult sheep will be reduced by 11.5% going into projected November temperatures ranging from 22 to 37 degrees Celsius across Middle Eastern destination ports.

It is worth noting that the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has not published any analysis of current animal welfare standards in the last 5 years and the version of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock in operation to date appears to be the 2011 version.

Australian media now report that the Morrison Government is stalling on legislating tougher penalties for exporters who breach live export regulations and, that Nationals MP for New England and disgraced former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce claims that 99.7% of sheep arrive at their export destination in the same or better condition than when they left.

So according to Barnaby only 0.3% of exported sheep suffer a loss of condition.

An interesting claim, given official sheep mortality is calculated at 0.61% of the live cargo being transported.

It seems that some of Barnaby's sheep are miraculously born-again sometime during those sea voyages,

Scott Morrison's favourite facile sound bites

Australian (interim) Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison speaks like the failed advertising industry executive that he is,

By now his favourite slogans and their meanings are becoming obvious,,,,,,

The New Daily, 21 October 2018:

“We believe in a fair go for those who have a go.” (Those making money deserve to make more money.)

“We believe that the best form of welfare is to have a job.” (Welfare should be cut back.)

“We believe it is every Australian’s duty to make a contribution and not take a contribution.” (Everyone on social welfare is a bludger – a particularly telling twisting of John F. Kennedy’s “don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.)

“And we believe this, you don’t rise (sic) people up by bringing others down.” (Taxation is bad and progressive taxation is particularly evil.)

Add to these the following:

"You don't get children off Nauru by putting more children on Nauru through weaker border protection policies," (I will not let the children on Nauru leave to resettle elsewhere with their families, even though resettlement in third countries is one of the aims of Australia's offshore detention policy)

"[I want] to see how we can get greater investment in what I call 'fair dinkum power'; that’sthe stuff that works when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’tblow." (let’s ignore the science behind renewable energy and pretend that other OECD countries haven’t successfully integrated high levels of renewable energy into their national power grids)

Sunday 28 October 2018

On past performance it will only take state and federal National Party politicians and their mates a couple of years to drain Morrison's $5 billion Drought Future Fund

On 26 October 2018, in the face of ongoing allegations of financial gouging of the public purse and mismanagement of water resources in the Murray Darling Basin, Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison unveiled his $5 billion Drought Future Fund at a summit attended by farmers, economists, industry bodies and state and federal ministers in Canberra....promising measures to drought-proof the nation's agriculture sector. The first $3.9 billion of the scheme, which would operate similarly to the Medical Future Fund, is to be paid for out of a pool of money originally intended for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

What a brilliant idea.

Rob an already underfunded disability sector and the vulnerable people who depend on its services in order to beef up a proposed drought future fund,

What can possibly go wrong?

Well, on past history it will likely take National politicians and their mates about two years to empty this new fund  - with little to no drought-proofing to show for the taxpayer dollars they manage to redirect towards their own businesses.

The Age, 26 October 2018:

The Nationals' federal treasurer Peter Schwarz is accused of gouging much of the $850,000 he was paid by Australia’s largest drought-proofing project and calling in favours when pressed to account for the taxpayer cash.

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison launches his drought summit, leaked government files reveal that Mr Schwarz banked the taxpayer subsidies in November 2011 and then spent years resisting efforts from water officials to get him to or use it for its intended purpose – saving water.

The frustration of the Goulburn-Murray Water authority with the conduct of Mr Schwarz – who as well as being the Nationals key federal fundraiser is also running in next month’s Victorian election – is exposed in dozens of damning leaked authority files.

The files provide a case study of issues which are front and centre at Mr Morrison’s drought summit and which are being examined by drought envoy and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce: using taxpayer funds to help farmers deal with drought, and, questions about whether backroom favours or mismanagement are undermining drought-relief efforts.

Among the leaked files is a July 15, 2016 memo from a water authority lawyer summing up his view of Mr Schwarz’s conduct after he joined hundreds of other farmers given cash incentives as part of Australia’s largest water saving initiative, the Connections Project. The project aims to help restore the Murray Darling water system.

The lawyer stated that after Mr Schwarz received $850,505 in 2011 – divided into $473,000 for on-farm water-saving measures and $300,000 to buy a neighbouring property – he ‘‘failed to perform any of the obligations despite having received the payment … in full.’’

‘‘The Schwarzes have spent much of the ensuing period attempting to make a case that, notwithstanding they entered into the agreement and received payment, they should not be bound to perform,’’ the July 2016 legal memo states.

The leaked files also reveal that Mr Schwarz sought to call on his personal relationship with a controversial high-ranking water official, Gavin Hanlon, and an unnamed ‘‘minister’’ to ‘‘support [his] cause’’.

Mr Hanlon was a senior Victorian water official who was headhunted by the NSW government as its irrigation chief. He quit his NSW post in 2017 after revelations of questionable dealings with farm lobbyists, sparking an ongoing investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption……..

In a statement to Fairfax Media, the water authority said that seven years after it gave Mr Schwarz the funds, the stand-off over with him has been "substantially resolved." It is understood that Mr Schwarz and Goulburn-Murray Water have finally agreed that he will use the funds for water savings, but no work has as yet been done.

The files reveal intense frustration inside Goulburn-Murray Water not only about Mr Schwarz’s conduct but the authority’s inability to recoup taxpayer funds.

A note written by an employee in April 2014 states that: ‘‘Peter told me on a number of occasions he would prefer to deal with higher GMW management and would not be accepting the agreement he had previously signed.’’.......


SBC News, 1 December 2018:

The NSW public has a right to know whether a senior government executive, fired over her alleged involvement in the Murray-Darling water theft scandal, received a six-figure payout, the opposition says.

A report into water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin, released on Thursday, confirmed that along with top bureaucrat Gavin Hanlon's public resignation, a second executive was fired for her role in the alleged misconduct.

AAP understands the senior executive is a former National Party staffer and irrigation lobbyist, who was appointed to a senior job within the Department of Primary Industries in 2015.

Opposition water spokesman Chris Minns said the Berejiklian government should confess whether the executive had received a golden handshake on her way out the door......

In September, NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said misconduct proceedings had started against Mr Hanlon.

Mr Hanlon was forced to resign as the Department of Industry director general in September following allegations of misconduct, including promising to share internal government documents with irrigation lobbyists in 2016.

Thursday's independent investigation into NSW water management and compliance report, authored by Ken Matthews, said the second senior executive is alleged to have also been involved in the teleconference.

According to her LinkedIn profile, the executive was a policy officer for lobby group Southern River Irrigators between 2011 and 2013 before becoming an advisor to federal senator Simon Birmingham for a year......

Thursday's report comes less than a week after both NSW and Queensland were slammed by a Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) review into water theft and regulation.

That inquiry found both states regularly failed to make sure irrigators complied with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and weren't transparent about their failures......

The Guardian, 27 September 2018:

A former water industry lobbyist preselected by the New South Wales National party to lead its Senate ticket in the next federal election has suggested examining Barnaby Joyce’s proposal to release more water for irrigators.

Once a lobbyist for Murray Irrigation, Perin Davey won the No 1 spot on the NSW National party’s Senate ticket earlier this month, after the longtime Nationals senator and bank campaigner John “Wacka” Williams retired and the former Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash resigned over her dual citizenship.

Davey was part of the teleconference with NSW government water official Gavin Hanlon, when he allegedly offered documents stripped of the department logo to help irrigators lobby against the Murray-Darling basin plan.

Hanlon resigned following the revelations, which were referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. The former water minister Kevin Humphries was also referred to the state watchdog. Icac makes it a practice not to comment any current investigations. Davey said she had not been interviewed by Icac and Guardian Australia does not allege any wrongdoing.

The meeting was exposed in the 2017 Four Corners episode that reported allegations that water was being harvested by some irrigators in the Barwon-Darling region of the Murray-Darling basin to the detriment of the environment and downstream communities.

Joyce, the former agriculture minister, had nominated Davey to the board of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority but, as a result of the fallout from the program, Davey asked Joyce to withdraw her nomination.

Davey, who now runs her own government relations company, said she was simply participating in a teleconference and that it was not unusual......

North Coast Voices:

13 MARCH 2018
Only a handful of NSW landowners to face court over Murray-Darling Basin water theft allegations? The NSW Government will prosecute several people over alleged water theft on the Barwon-Darling, eight months after Four Corners investigated the issue. WaterNSW has named the people it is taking to the Land and Environment Court over alleged breaches of water management rules.

13 APRIL 2018
Alleged irrigator water theft heading for the courts? A cousin by marriage of the current Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud, John Norman, finds his agricultural business practices under scrutiny...

30 APRIL 2018
What the Australian Government didn’t want the UN to publish During Nationals MP for New England Barnaby Joyce’s disastrous sojourn as Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources the federal government began a successfull campaign to have the United Nations delete all criticism of Australia’s $13bn effort to restore the ailing Murray-Darling river system from a published study.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Tweet of the Week

Political Cartoon of the Week

Friday 26 October 2018

We were robbed in Wentworth and it's all Malcolm's fault!

Now let me see….how did it all go down again?

There are eighty-five parliamentarians in the federal party room representing the parliamentary arm of the Liberal Party of Australia.

Leadership of the party has been a political football since December 2009 when Tony Abbott ousted Malcolm Turnbull. Winning this leadership spill by one vote to become Opposition Leader.

Almost six years later in September 2015 Turnbull returned the favour by replacing Abbott as leader, when Abbott became a terminally toxic prime minister less than three years into the job. Turnbull won that leadership spill by ten votes and became prime minister.

What followed was over two years of relentless vindictive payback directed at Turnbull by Abbott and his cronies.

Then Peter Dutton threw his hat in the ring on 21 August 2018. He lost this attempt to topple Turnbull and replace him as prime minister when Turnbull called a leadership spill and Dutton lost the spill by thirteen votes.

Another motion to spill the leadership was passed by five votes on 24 August 2018.

This vote effectively sacked Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister and the leadership contest was then between Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison.

Morrison became the current (and very interim) prime minister on the back of just five votes that same day.

On 31 August 2018 Turnbull made good on his promise to resign from parliament and, a by-election was called for the seat of Wentworth which had been held by conservative politicians since its inception in 1901.

Scott Morrison campaigned in the Wentworth electorate on behalf of his party’s candidate, David Sharma.

On 20 October 2018 the Liberal Party lost the by-election to an Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps, with a swing against the party of over 19 per cent.

The Morrison Government is now a minority government, having lost its one seat margin in the House of Representatives.

So who is the Liberal Party blaming for their by-election defeat? Why it appears to be all Malcolm's fault.

The Daily Telegraph, 24 October 2018:

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison is “done with” Malcolm Turnbull and will no longer ask the former leader to represent Australia at international conferences.

Senior Liberal sources told The Daily Telegraph that while the PM would not rescind the decision to send Mr Turnbull on official duties next week at a conference in Bali, it would be the last request. “Scott has said to a number of senior Liberals that he doesn’t want anything further to do with Malcolm,” the source said….

In September, Mr Morrison asked Mr Turnbull to ­represent the Australian Government at the ‘Our Ocean Legacy’ conference in Bali next week — a decision that has been met with a backlash from Liberal and National MPs after the former Prime Minister did not even send a tweet backing the Liberal Party in the by-election caused by his resignation…..
The pair had been communicating regularly over WhatsApp prior to Mr Turnbull’s decision to reject Mr Morrison’s request to help Liberal Party candidate Dave Sharma campaign against ­independent Dr Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth.

Mr Turnbull, who told journalists yesterday he was “out of partisan politics”, was initially invited to attend the conference by the Indonesian Government in March when still prime minister.

After the August leadership spill, Mr Morrison said he was unable to attend the conference, so asked Mr Turnbull to still go. It was understood to be an “olive branch” extended to the former leader.

All of Mr Turnbull’s travel and accommodation costs will be covered by taxpayers during the trip.

“I did request the former prime minister to represent us at that conference, and he’ll be there representing the policies of our government,” Mr Morrison said yesterday.

His office later issued a statement denying that Mr Turnbull had been banned from representing Australia at such events, adding that Mr Morrison “will be seeking to maintain a positive relationship with the former PM as he would do with any other former PMs”.

“Mr Morrison rejects the suggestion made to the Telegraph,” the statement said. “The decision to invite Mr Turnbull to represent Australia was initiated eight weeks ago after direct discussion with President Widodo of Indonesia and was well received by the President.” However, Nationals MP and former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said Mr Turnbull may be “sulking” after losing the leadership and should not represent Australia at the conference, especially given his refusal to campaign in Wentworth.

“It is a problem and there should have been a bit more thought put into this” Mr Joyce said. “I think he’s angry about losing his job — one can only presume some sulking. I suggest that probably gives us a very good reason not to send him to Bali.” 
The Wentworth by-election has still not been officially declared, with the Australian Electoral Commission still counting postal votes yesterday. Dr Phelps’ lead dropped by 74 votes to 1552 as Mr Sharma secured 55 per cent of the postal votes counted yesterday. He needed upward of 70 per cent to dent the margin.

Mr Morrison defended the pending result, saying that while the Liberal vote in the eastern suburbs seat dropped by about a third so did the Labor and Greens vote.

Fronting the Coalition party room for the first time since Saturday’s by-election, Mr Morrison hit back at calls from moderates in the party for action on climate change and the urgent removal of refugees from Nauru.

“We’re not shifting to the left or the right — it’s not hokey pokey politics,” he told the closed door meeting.

“We will continue to be a strong centre-right government with strong centre-right parties focusing on the things that matter.” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, whose leadership has been under pressure from renegade ­Nationals, urged MPs not to be “spooked” by the result in the once-safe Liberal seat.“What they think in ­Double Bay is not what they think in Dubbo,” Mr McCormack said.

One political thumbnail draws attention to what Morrison & Co were loathe to mention during their public blame gaming.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 October 2018:

By the way, Malcolm was in a no-win position – if he had campaigned he would have been accused of being disruptive and a distraction - of crowding out Sharma. 

Morrison wanted his letter of support but wouldn’t allow Turnbull to mention the circumstances of his demise, so, no go.

Next, move on to Morrison’s horror personal contributions to the campaign – the lingering image of him hugging a lump of coal; his defence of advertising on the sails of the Opera House, wanting to see not just horse racing but also car racing; his mishandling of the issues of funding and independence of the ABC generated by the dismissal of chief executive Michelle Guthrie; his multiple positions on the treatment of gay students and teachers; the white supremacist/neo-Nazi parliamentary vote; announcing the possible shift of our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (even after most devout Jews in the electorate would have already pre-voted, to avoid having to do so on the Sabbath); the possible rejuvenation of a New Zealand deal on refugee resettlement; and then, finally, the assertion that a Kerryn Phelps win meant “instability”, conveniently ignoring the instability in his own party that had resulted in the byelection in the first place.

All this shooting from the hip, attempting to spin the issue, assuming some resonance with some identified constituency, only compounds the electoral cynicism and mistrust. So much for the new, marketing/PR-type jockey - so much for Morrison's skills as a retail politician. Clever sound bites and stunts have a limited life. Voters want authenticity, substance and outcomes. This was a clear message from Wentworth.

Morrison’s calamitous performance wasn’t helped by Barnaby Joyce’s grubby attempt to rekindle his leadership ambitions, nor by Environment Minister Melissa Price insulting former Kiribati President Anote Tong.

Apart from denying any responsibility for all this mess, the most disturbing aspect of the government’s response to the Wentworth result has been its failure to recognise the significance of issues that dominated the campaign, such as climate change....

Robbed of a seat? No, the Liberal Party gave that seat away and the people to whom it should assign the most blame are Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison - along with every senator and MP who fell in line behind these 'gentlemen'.

Thursday 25 October 2018

OUR ABC: the fate of public broadcasting is in your hands at the 2019 federal election

Use your vote wisely......., 23 October 2018:

Statement by David Anderson, Acting Managing Director of the ABC, to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee 

Thank you Senators. 

I am appearing today as Acting Managing Director of the ABC. It is a privilege to be in this role, overseeing one of Australia’s most loved and respected cultural institutions. 

There is no doubt Senators will have many questions about recent events and strategies. I will do my best to answer them in my acting capacity and from my management position. Accountability is part and parcel of being a national broadcaster. 

So too is independence. I have already stressed in my early conversations with employees that the great faith and trust the community invests in the ABC is built on the foundation of independence. 

The ABC is funded by government and it is ultimately answerable to the people of Australia. They are the ones who expect us to report without fear or favour, to live up to standards of quality and excellence, to shun commercial and other agendas, to hold the national conversations and to reflect the nation back to itself. 

The other absolute I have, as a long-term content manager within the Corporation, is the primacy of content. Across the ABC’s history we have been adept at using technology to improve the ways we bring our programs and services to our audiences. 

Even in my time at the national broadcaster, the distribution platforms and channels we use have changed dramatically. They will need to change even more over the next decade as we seek relevance and reach in a challenging digital media landscape. 

But it is the content that we carry on those platforms that ultimately matters. 

 Vibrant new kids’ programs that delight and educate our children; 

 Agenda-setting journalism that shines a light into dark corners and holds regulators and lawmakers to account; 

 The rich, direct and often lifesaving conversations we have with our regional and rural audiences; 

 The insightful work of Radio National; 

 Our commitment to the promotion and support of cultural endeavours, particularly music, the arts and creative communities; 

 Colourful dramas like Mystery Road that use local actors, local crews, local locations and local stories to entertain us; 

 And our ability to unite the nation, whether it be on Australia Day, the approaching Remembrance Day/Armistice celebrations or through our in-depth coverage of the drought; 

 And this week, of course, the Invictus Games. 

It is the distinctive content that makes the ABC unique and a priceless national asset. 

While the recent weeks have been testing, I am very proud of the passion and energy shown by our 4000 employees. They have not been distracted. They remain committed to serving Australians. 

As the Acting Managing Director, my early objective has been to work with the Board, bring stability to the organisation, demonstrate leadership and to press for the resourcing we need to deliver the Charter remit and the services the community expects. 

I note there has been a lot of talk recently about ABC budgets and future demands. I would like to bring these facts to the table: 

 20 per cent of the ABC Budget is actually fixed costs for transmission – the infrastructure that delivers our programs to audiences across the nation. 

 The $84 million efficiency cut over three years comes on top of the 2014 decision to cut the ABC budget by $250 million over five years. The cumulative impact of these measures is a significant reduction in our operating budget at a time when we are facing rising costs of production and the need to increase our investment in digital products. 

 We have been given no certainty about the future of funding for a program that directly employs 81 journalists, including specialist reporters and outer suburban bureaus such as Geelong, Parramatta and Ipswich. 

As a long-serving content manager and leader, I can personally attest to the financial pressures affecting the Corporation. I can vouch for the efforts of management to maximise every dollar spent on audiences and to plough efficiency savings into content. 

I am making it clear to stakeholders that the next triennial funding round, scheduled for resolution in next year’s Budget, should be used as an opportunity to reposition the ABC for the future. 

If the ABC is important now in bringing diversity to the media landscape, then it will be even more essential over coming years in providing quality, independent, local content to Australians. The ABC will be the innovator. We will provide the creative jobs that are necessary for this new era. We will continue to provide the highest quality independent journalism. 

Thank you. I am happy to take questions.

Twitter, 24 October 2018: