Friday 30 November 2018

A not so new lobbyist on the block - just tired, old Lib-Nats supporters in a poor disguise

ABC News, 21 November 2018:

Australia has a new conservative lobby group that wants to knock on your door, get in your ear and ultimately swing your vote.

Advance Australia's named with a nod to our anthem and the hope it can rival the powerful left-wing lobby Get Up!

It has some prominent backers and a bold mission — but can it succeed?

The group's financially and ideologically backed by a group of prominent business leaders including storage king Sam Kennard, businessman and former ABC chairman Maurice Newman and the Australian Jewish Association's Dr David Adler.

Its national director is Gerard Benedet, who was the chief of staff to former Queensland LNP Treasurer Tim Nicholls in a previous life.

"We're not aligned to any political party," he told 7.30.

"We're an independent movement of mainstream Australians, who are determined to protect, advance and defend mainstream values and freedoms."

Get Up! National Director Paul Oosting says that's rubbish.

"Advance Australia is a group of rich white men on a campaign to make themselves richer," he said.

"They want to work on issues that are in their own self-interest, that are the vested interests of the corporate lobby they represent."

The Monthly, 26 November 2018:

The quest for a right-wing opponent to GetUp has been going on for almost as long as the quest for a right-wing Phillip Adams at the ABC – and with about as much success.

The latest wizard wheeze come from a stratospherically elite clique of rich, bored men looking for a hobby. It includes men like Maurice Newman, who preaches that climate science is a fraudulent conspiracy ensuring the establishment of a totalitarian socialist dictatorship under the United Nations, and James Power, currently fighting to prevent women from becoming members of Brisbane’s Tattersall’s Club.

After diligent market research, they have settled on the unoriginal name of Advance Australia, which is not only plagiarism but deeply misleading – the only way they want Australia to advance is either jogging on the spot, or, preferably, stumbling backwards.

They claim to be protecting mainstream Australian values, but just about the only ones they have come up with thus far are maintaining superannuation tax lurks for the rich, keeping tax deductions for those who have not paid tax in the first place, and not moving Australia Day from January 26. To date, mainstream Australia has resisted the urge to storm the barricades on their behalf.

The organisation’s oligarchs are predicting that they will have a million members in time for the federal election, but are coy about how they plan to recruit these hordes.

Perhaps they are assuming that sheer weight of money, of which they have plenty, will suffice, much in the way that Malcolm Turnbull bought his Wentworth preselection and, before then, Kerry Packer bought Australian cricket.

But mass campaigning does not work that way; buying up a rent-a-crowd is hardly likely to move swinging voters. You need a grassroots movement of enthusiasts and idealists, and for that you need not a top-heavy pyramid, but a bottom-up structure based on volunteers – like GetUp.

Call to protect infants from dangerous infectious disease, whooping cough

The Daily Examiner, 27 November 2018, p3:

NSW Health is urging all pregnant women and new parents to be aware of the symptoms of whooping cough and to ensure they and their children are vaccinated on time.

Despite almost 95 per cent of infants in NSW now vaccinated against the disease, outbreaks still occur every three to four years as community immunity wanes, and recent high numbers indicate an outbreak might be on the way.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases, said that in October 2018 almost 800 people in NSW were notified with whooping cough (pertussis), the highest number since October 2016.

Acting director of North Coast Public Health Greg Bell said a similar situation was emerging in Northern NSW where there have been 36 cases of whooping cough reported in the past four weeks.

While these levels of whooping cough across Northern NSW are similar to the averages of the previous five years, pertussis notifications are trending upwards.
The latest Australian Immunisation Register quarterly report shows that at September 2018 90.4 per cent of five-year-olds and 88.9 per cent of 12-month-olds in Northern NSW Local Health District were fully vaccinated.

These figures represent an increase on vaccination rates in 2010 under the-then North Coast Area Health Service, when 84.9 per cent of children aged 5 and 87 per cent of 12-month-olds were fully vaccinated.
Even in highly vaccinated populations it is not possible to eliminate whooping cough…..

 “The aim of whooping cough control is to protect infants, who are at highest risk of severe disease or death if they contract whooping cough. Whooping cough vaccination is effective in preventing severe infection.”

Thursday 29 November 2018

This is the man Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison admires because of his trade policies

Almost everyone could see this coming except US President Donald Trump and he had been repeatedly warned that his imposition of tariffs, using anti-globalisation sentiment as an excuse, would spring back and hit American manufacturing where it hurts.

Almost everyone – but not Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison who on 17 September 2018 was quoted thus:

Spruiking the kind of populist credentials that swept Trump to power, Morrison said many people in both the US and Australia feel left behind by the powerful economic forces of globalisation, which have brought massive wealth to some but left others feeling poorer and disenfranchised.

“That’s what we get. The president gets that. I get it,” the prime minister told the Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Morrison described Trump as “very practical” and as someone “who’s not going to waste a day”.

“I like that about him. I like that about him a lot, actually.’’

Here is that oh so “very practical” Donald Trump this week.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 November 2018:

On Monday local time, the iconic carmaker announced it would close assembly plants in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and in the Canadian province of Ontario. The cuts amount to almost 15 per cent of the General Motors workforce.

A big part of Trump's appeal in the so-called "rust belt" in the midwest was his promise to bring back stable and well-paying manufacturing jobs, especially in the auto industry. The General Motors plant at Lordstown, Ohio, is located in a county that recorded a 29 percentage point swing towards Trump at the 2016 election.

So before heading to Mississipi for a campaign rally, Trump said he had expressed his displeasure to General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra.

"I was very tough," Trump said. "I spoke with her and I said, 'This country has done a lot for General Motors – you'd better get back in there soon.' That's Ohio.

"They say the Chevy Cruze is not selling well. I say, 'Well get a car that is selling well and put it back in' ... I'm not happy about it."

Trump said he expected General Motors to start manufacturing another type of car in Ohio and that it "had better" do so.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Trump said he told General Motors: "You’re playing around with the wrong person."

Trump will this week travel to Argentina for G20 meetings, where he will hold a highly-anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping focussed on trade.

At the height of the Global Financial Crisis, General Motors received a government bailout that eventually cost US taxpayers $US11.2 billion ($15.5 billion in today's money).

But the President has slapped a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel from China, which automakers said has already increased commodity costs, and threatened more including on auto parts. Car manufacturers said earlier in the year that tariffs could bring job losses.

Trump has since boasted about a renaissance in the industry thanks to his tax cuts and the removal of environmental regulations put in place by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

In a tweet about Michigan in August he said: "Lots of car and other companies moving back!"

In 2017 he said high-quality manufacturing jobs were no longer leaving Ohio.

"They’re all coming back," he said at a rally in the state. "Don’t move. Don’t sell your house."

Australian Politics 2018: let's leave the premises as fast as possible and don't show our LNP faces in parliament until after the federal election

It's official - The Morrison Coalition Government is a lame duck federal government incapable of functioning.


The Australian Parliament goes into end of year recess on 6 December and does not come back until February 2019.

After the opening Parliament on the later than usual date of 12 February 2019, the House of Representatives will probably sit for no more than seven days in total. There appears to be no plan to conduct parliamentary business after that except perhaps to table the 2019-20 Budget Papers between 2- 4 April.

The Senate is scheduled to sit for two days (11th or 12th and 14th) with four estimates hearings beginning on the 18th. The senate does not sit in March and only sits for one day in early April. 

Parliament needs to be dissolved sometime in early April to comfortably meet the requirements of a 2019 national election timetable for the joint election of the House of Representatives and half the Senate.

As it appears from the article below that interim Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison is ready to go to a general election in May, the parliamentary timetable looks suspiciously as if Coalition Government MPs and senators intend to hide from national scrutiny as much as possible before polling day.

Given that the Morrison Government is now two MPs shy of a majority (having only 74 MPs in the 150-strong House of Representatives), closing down parliament in this way also means that the Labor Opposition and cross benches will not have an opportunity to pass legislation in their own right in a parliament the Lib-Nats government of the day no longer controls.

The West Australian, 27 November 2018:

Scott Morrison has effectively revealed the date of the next election just as one of his backbenchers announced she was leaving the Liberal Party to sit on the parliamentary crossbench.

In a dramatic 20 minutes in Canberra, the PM confirmed the Federal Budget would be brought forward and handed down on April 2 next year.

Saying “you can do the maths”, the date means the Federal election will be held on either May 11 or 18. May 18 was the last available date for a full House and half Senate election.

Mr Morrison said the Budget would show a surplus.

In this year’s Budget, the Government was already expecting a small $2.2 billion surplus for the 2019-20 financial year.

However, a surge in tax revenue and a tight rein on spending is expected to show a bigger than expected surplus. That should be confirmed in the mid-year Budget update that will be released on December 17.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

The climate change risk coastal towns and villages don't discuss enough

Financial Review, 15 November 2018:

Insurance giant IAG has warned a failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could result in a world that is "pretty much uninsurable", with poorer communities likely to bear the brunt of the effects.

In Australia, IAG said temperature increases of more than 3 degrees would expose greater swaths of Queensland to cyclones and flooding, while a rise of more than 4 degrees could make the risks to insurers prohibitive.

Timaru Herald, 26 May 2018, p.7:

Anyone now considering a coastal property should know what sea level rise is.
If they already own one, they shouldn't be surprised if buyers expect to know how it might affect them.

It's time to accept these properties may come with some risk, and let government and other agencies get on with the job of preparing without worrying about court battles over lost capital gains.

It's an inconvenient truth, but it appears that the value of flood- prone property will go down and many coastal towns will face a new threat.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2018:

If any Australian company needs to come clean over its climate risks, it’s QBE.
Not just so shareholders can understand how secure (or not) their capital is as climate impacts intensify.

This is about Australians being able to see just how perilous our future has become without urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Last October QBE said it expected 2017 to be the costliest year in the history of the global insurance industry, flagging a $US600 million ($767 million) hit to its pre-tax earnings. They weren't wrong, nor were they alone.

The triple-whammy of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hitting the US and Caribbean contributed to a record $US135 billion in payouts globally on natural disasters. Wildfires in California made things worse and, for Australian general insurers, Tropical Cyclone Debbie added to the pain.

Tom Herbstein, of Cambridge University’s insurance industry-funded project ClimateWise, summed it up in saying “climate change fundamentally challenges the existing insurance business model.”

And understandably there have been some drastic responses from within the industry. Hannover Re was even forced to sell its entire stock portfolio, worth €953 million ($A1.5 billion) , prompted by natural disaster claims.

Costly natural hazards are nothing new to QBE or indeed any of Australia’s big three general insurers.

Last year, individual large claims and natural hazards cost QBE $1.7 billion, or 15 per cent of the company’s net earned premium.

Compare this to the seven year average of 8.1 per cent to 2010, and you get an idea why QBE called it “unprecedented”.

Additionally, over the past decade, IAG under-provisioned for natural hazard claims by almost $1 billion while Suncorp under-provisioned by $1.9 billion.

It appears none of our general insurers are keeping up with the pace of climate change.


The role of general insurance is to assist policyholders to recover from losses, such as those caused by extreme weather events. With expertise in risk management developed over hundreds of years of operation, general insurers play a critical role in communicating, managing and responding to the the risks that many policyholders face today, as well as how those risks may evolve under a changing climate.

It follows that the general insurance industry naturally supports community policy adjustments that will enhance resilience to extreme weather, as well as measures that may assist to reduce emissions.

Using the industry’s expertise in the pricing, transfer and management of risk, the following activities being undertaken by the industry are intended to assist policy-makers and communities to address the implications of climate change:

Maintain the strong prudential foundations underpinning the Australian market, to ensure that the industry continues to be able to respond to large disaster events when they occur.

Manage the commercial, individual and community-level risks posed by climate change via innovative risk-transfer solutions.

Ensure that risk-transfer solutions deliver competitive price signals, through risk based pricing, that assist communities and decision makers to recognise and adapt to current and emerging extreme weather risks.

Assist to increase community resilience over time by sharing industry expertise that will help policy decision makers and the community to:
Reduce exposures by making development control decisions for exposed locations that are appropriate for both the location and the planned life cycle of the development, accounting for the increased risk posed by the changing climate.

Reduce vulnerability to natural disasters by implementing localised defensive infrastructure where necessary to achieve an acceptable residual risk of damage to an exposed community.

Reduce vulnerability to natural disasters by improving building codes to ensure that built structures remain viable following predictable events over their planned life cycle, accounting for the increased risk posed by the changing climate.

Assist policy-makers to understand the long term economic implications of climate change, as well as the benefits of any appropriate emission mitigation schemes, by providing credible data on current exposures and vulnerabilities, as measured by the general insurance industry.

Assist to implement practical solutions to emission reduction strategies, through the consideration of risk-transfer products that incentivise solutions to be brought to market by other industries.

This policy was approved by the ICA's Board on August 4, 2016.

Coast Adapt, 2015:

Climate change threatens the viability of insurance in Australia and across the globe.

Despite a number of recent ‘quiet’ years, a trend of increasing losses is apparent in Australia and globally due to extreme weather events.

Insurers are covering at a loss some parts of Australia that are considered disaster-prone.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Morrison goes full Trump and democracy begins to suffer

Channel 9 News online, 22 November 2018:

Scott Morrison insists police need immediate access to encrypted messages to stop future terror attacks.

The prime minister says new laws giving police access to the messages must pass federal parliament in the final sitting fortnight of the year, after three men charged with plotting a terror attack in Melbourne were accused of using encrypted communications.

"Our police, our agencies need these powers now," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

"I would insist on seeing them passed before the end of the next sitting fortnight."
He said the foiled Melbourne plot showed it was incredibly important for authorities to have powers to intercept encrypted messages on apps like WhatsApp.

Mr Morrison urged the committee examining the laws to wind-up its review as soon as possible so the laws can be passed.

The Liberal-chaired committee has scheduled three public hearings on the bill, with the final one set for December 4 - two days before parliament rises for the year.
To pass the encryption legislation before then, the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security would likely have to bring forward or abandon the hearings.

The next Encryption Bill public hearings are scheduled for 27 November, 30 November and 4 December 2018. In addition to evidence from the full five hearings there are 87 submissions the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security needs to evaluate before writing its report to Parliament.

Both Prime Minster Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton are reportedly applying pressure to the Joint Committee to throw out standard parliamentary practice and deliver its report no later than 3 December.

It appears that both theses hard-right politicians are determined to kill off democratic processes whenever they see an opportunity to do so.

Monday 26 November 2018

Morrison Government looks at women's economic security and domestic violence

This was an Australian Morrison Coalition Government announcement mentioned in the media on 19 November 2018:

“Women experiencing domestic and family violence will now also be able to apply for early access to part of their superannuation to help cover the significant costs of rebuilding their lives….Good Shepherd Microfinance’s No Interest Loan scheme will help women at risk of domestic violence access finance when they most need it, without high interest holding back their financial recovery into the future. The loans will be able to assist with relocation, essential household items, rental bonds, or, where appropriate, debt consolidation….”  [Australian Government “Women’s Economic Security Statement”, excerpt, November 2018]

Bearing in mind that although the husband’s superannuation entitlements are considered property of the marriage these funds cannot be anticipated ahead of any court sanctioned property settlement in a divorce.

This was the situation in June 2018 according to the Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency:
Women comprise 47.0% of all employed persons in Australia; 25.0% of all employed persons are women working full-time, and 21.9% are women working part-time.

Women constitute 36.7% of all full-time employees and 69.0% of all part-time employees.

Average superannuation balances for women at retirement (aged 60-64) are 42.0% lower than those for men.

According to ASFA Research and Resource Centre, in the financial year 2015-16:

* Looking at all females aged 15 years and over the superannuation balance averaged out at $68,499 per person.

* Only 16 per cent of females had superannuation balances of over $100,000.

* When it came to all women aged 30-35 years of age the superannuation balance averaged out at $33,750 per person.

* However, 32.7 per cent of all females in the workforce reported they had no superannuation at all. That’s an estimated 2 million women Australia-wide.

When it comes to that 2 million women without super it is probably safe to assume that; a) the majority form part of the casualised workforce; b) most receive the minimum wage or less; and c) a significant number live in regional and rural areas.

A good many may also be from socially marginalised groups.

Somehow I can’t quite see that a woman being able to access part of her superannuation, or in lieu of super being able to take out a meagre $1,500 interest free loan which has to be repaid, as being of much assistance when fleeing life-threatening violence.

Not while first contact domestic violence services she attempts to access - along with DV emergency accommodation - are so chronically under resourced across the country.

A word of advice to the Morrison Government from Fiona the Bettong; Just shut up about it and fund it - just do your job and fund it - we know your every word is a lie so shhhhh just fund it.

Looking straight at you, Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan. Act like a real man and get domestic violence services in the Northern Rivers region more funding - structured to increase annually - guaranteed for the next ten years. 

Sunday 25 November 2018

I knew there was a reason why I don't watch Channel 9......

Never a fan of Channel 9 programming, this news report has turned my indifference to the existence of this television channel into active dislike.

ABC News, 21 November 2018:

PHOTO: The Block's contestants on auction day for the renovated Gatwick Hotel.   (AAP: Nine Entertainment)

The lights, cameras and crowds have finally cleared out of St Kilda following the auctions last month at the Gatwick Private Hotel, a run-down three-storey rooming house that was transformed into six multi-million-dollar apartments for this year's season of the popular home renovation show, The Block.

But as the new owners collect the keys and prepare to move in to their luxury lodgings, ABC News can reveal an "alarming" number of women who used to live at the Gatwick — a place of "last resort" for some of Melbourne's most vulnerable — are currently in jail.

Channel Nine's purchase of the 1930s mansion, which in its prime could house up to 120 people, was welcomed last year by St Kilda residents who blamed the Fitzroy Street boarding house — one of several to close in recent years as part of the area's gentrification — for local problems with "rampant" drug-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour.

At the time, the local council and state government worked with housing services in St Kilda to find new accommodation, mostly outside the area, for its remaining occupants, who were evicted in time for filming to commence.

But many of those tenancies were unsustainable and fell through, homelessness support workers say, and because of an acute lack of crisis accommodation across Melbourne, dozens were dispersed onto the streets.

This includes at least 32 women who have since been charged and imprisoned for offences lawyers and support workers say are directly related to their homelessness — an issue that affects all genders but which leaves women particularly vulnerable.
Now, with the state preparing to head to the polls after an election campaign dominated by debate over law and order, advocates are calling on the government to urgently boost funding for crisis accommodation and homelessness services to break a vicious cycle that is causing the number of women in Victoria's prisons to soar.

One worker who runs a program supporting under-privileged women in St Kilda told ABC News that, since the beginning of 2018, 32 of her clients who were living on or off lease at The Gatwick have since been incarcerated at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Melbourne's maximum security women's prison.

Though 17 of those women have been released in recent months, she said, 15 still remain, many of them on remand.

"There is absolutely no doubt that The Gatwick's closure has had an effect particularly on women in the city of Port Phillip," said the worker, who asked not to be named because she feared speaking out would jeopardise her organisation's public funding arrangements.

"I'm not necessarily saying that The Gatwick was the best place for people to live because there were a lot of issues — there were some deaths there, there was violence. But everybody needs a place to stay."

The majority of the worker's clients in Dame Phyllis have been charged with drug-related offences which are believed to be a result of their homelessness, she said. "Many women with involvement in the justice system offend to fund their drug habit and use substances to self-medicate," she said.

"Sleeping rough is extremely unsafe for women so many use drugs to keep themselves awake at night, which provides them with a false sense of security."

Forced homelessness is not confined to Victoria,

As the Pacific Highway Upgrade works its way up the NSW North Coast there are reports of people couch surfing after their landlords gave them notice in favour of road worker tenants capable of paying higher rents.

Saturday 24 November 2018

Tweets of the Week

Quotes of the Week

“ScoMo’s blue bus is the perfect symbol of the man and his government – a brash, ostentatious clichĂ©, non-functional and completely phoney.”  [Journalist Mungo MacCallum  writing in The Monthly, November 2018]

“Australians often over-estimate the proportion of the population that is Muslim, with Ipsos surveys finding respondents believe it is 17 per cent when the reality is 3 per cent.”  [Journalist  David Crowe,  writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 2018]

“Later, Fairfax Media went to another publicly-accessible area from where the Cutaway is audible. Mr Turnbull was heard to lament the Coalition was presently "not capable" of dealing with climate change as an issue, despite it being "a profound problem".”  [Journalist Michael Koziol writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 2018]

“If they're going to fine everyone who calls Scott Morrison a "fucking muppet" this country will never be in debt again.”  [Richard O’Brien, Twitter, 19 November 2018]

Friday 23 November 2018

Water Wars 2018: water mining of the Alstonville aquifer suspended pending government review

BLOCKADE: Around 100 people were there for the 'Stop water mining rally in Uki' on Saturday 27 October, where residents stopped water trucks in the main street. Dave Norris/The Northern Star

Echo NetDaily, 20 November 2018:

Regional water minister Niall Blair has requested an independent review into the impacts of the bottled water industry on groundwater sources in the Northern Rivers.

And local councils have been advised to suspend approving any new applications for water mining until the report is complete in mid 2019.

The NSW chief scientist & engineer will provide advice on the sustainable groundwater extraction limits in the region, as well as advice on whether the current or proposed groundwater monitoring bores are sufficient.

Minister Blair said the NSW Government ‘recognises the pivotal role that water plays in regional prosperity and long-term growth of communities’.

‘Local community members and community leaders have made representations to me on behalf of their constituents and we are taking action,’ he said.

‘I have asked the chief scientist & engineer to investigate the sustainability of groundwater extraction in the Northern Rivers for bottling purposes.

‘Water is a finite resource and we are completing this review to make sure that water remains available into the future in the Northern Rivers catchment for all purposes including stock and domestic users and for groundwater dependent ecosystems,’ Mr Blair said.

This was Australia’s faux prime minister Scott Morrison proudly pointing out that he had been fundraising at considerable taxpayer expense

This was Australia’s faux prime minister Scott Morrison proudly pointing out that he had been fundraising at considerable taxpayer expense in order to fill the election campaign coffers of the the Liberal Party of Australia.....

The Courier-Mail, 19 November 2018, p.6:

While he was on the Queensland blitz early this month, Mr Morrison confirmed he attended fundraisers. Many of the donations came from Rockhampton and the Sunshine Coast.

“I’m meeting with supporters all around Queensland and I don’t make any apologies for that,” he said.

“We’re raising funds for our campaign to make sure Bill Shorten never becomes prime minister in the country.” Mr Morrison was the special guest at Liberal National Party fundraising events in several ­regional towns.

Here is what he was not boasting about this month……

The Saturday Paper, 17-23 November 2018:

Seven years before he was sacked as managing director of Tourism Australia – amid serious concerns about his management practices – Scott Morrison was the subject of criticism in a New Zealand audit report examining his activities as head of NZ’s Office of Tourism and Sport., 14 November 2018:

A 1999 New Zealand Auditor General’s report challenged the future Australian prime minister’s handling of an independent review of the Office of Tourism and Sport (OTSp) where he was managing director.

The OTSp was a quasi-independent body offering policy advice to the New Zealand government and experienced the loss of a number of board members and officials during Mr Morrison’s tenure. He finally resigned from the job in 2000 a year ahead of his contract schedule and returned to Australia….

During Mr Morrison’s time at the helm of OTSp in the 1990s, New Zealand’s then Tourism Minister, Murray McCully, praised his input and defended importing him for the job.

“Australia actually happens to do a bit better than we do out of both tourism and sport,” Mr McCully said at the time.

But the Auditor General and the NZ Labour Opposition questioned his performance.
In New Zealand in 1999, the Auditor General found Mr Morrison had launched a PriceWaterhouseCooper review of OTSp which precluded contributions from senior staff and the board.

He had said the review was independent of them, but it seems they were not aware of this.

“Mr Morrison’s explanation came as a surprise not only to (the office’s CEO and board members) but also to the Minister himself,” the report said.

“These people had regarded the PWC report as the review referred to in the purchase agreement.”

The Auditor General’s report said the board should have been told it had a duty,  under the review arrangements, to commission its own “independent” review.
“It seems that at no point did Mr Morrison do so,” the Auditor General found.

In June 2000, the New Zealand Herald quoted the Labour Opposition’s tourism and sport spokesman Trevor Mallard as blaming Mr Morrison for problems with the OTSp and the minister.

“And a key reason for that was that it was run by Mr Morrison, an Australian who was seen as Mr McCully’s ‘hard man’,” said the report.

“Australian standards of public sector behaviour ‘are lower than ours,’,” added Mr Mallard.

He was quoted as saying: “My experience with Australian politicians is that rules and ethics are not as important to them as they are to New Zealanders.”

Mr Morrison did not respond to the claims but was supported by the Tourism Minister as “highly regarded”.

He had lifted the energy levels and the competence levels substantially above those previously servicing tourism and sport, said Mr McCully.

Australian Labor is closely examining the Prime Minister’s career before he was elected to Parliament in 2007 and the New Zealand experience could be raised.

His next job after New Zealand was as NSW Liberal Party state director but was linked to the party’s 2003 election failure.

Mr Morrison became Tourism Australia managing director in 2004 but left in 2006, again ahead of schedule….

The Saturday Paper, 10-16 November 2018:

Ever since Scott Morrison was sacked from his job as managing director of Tourism Australia in 2006, the reasons for his dismissal have been kept secret.

At the time and since, public speculation has variously attributed the now prime minister’s removal to a personality clash with his minister, a falling out over changes to the organisation’s structure, and a dispute over the agency’s contentious “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign.

But an auditor-general’s report completed 10 years ago, which has escaped public scrutiny until now, reveals that in the period leading up to Morrison’s dismissal, his agency faced a series of audits and a review of its contractual processes ordered by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, amid serious concerns about its governance.

The auditor-general’s inquiry into Tourism Australia – which followed these reviews, and was conducted after Morrison’s departure – reveals information was kept from the board, procurement guidelines breached and private companies engaged on contracts worth $184 million before paperwork was signed and without appropriate value-for-money assessments.


The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report examines three major contracts that Tourism Australia signed while Scott Morrison was managing director. It criticises processes in all three cases but especially the contracts for global creative development – advertising campaigns – and media placement services.

Ten years since the audit, and 13 years since the contracts were signed, those two completed contracts appear not to be listed on the government’s AusTender website, where all contracts are required to be available for public viewing.

Searches, including by AusTender staff, have failed to locate them on the site this week. Procurement rules say they must be reported within 42 days of the contracts being entered. The 2005 request-for-tender documents announcing the proposed contracts are listed…..

The audit report criticises extensively the agency’s processes for drafting, executing and managing the contracts, the opaque accounting processes involved in aspects of them and poor communication with the board and regional offices, including by service providers. It details Tourism Australia’s failures at the time to adhere to guidelines – the signing of a contract without incorporating measurable performance indicators and non-existent risk assessments or value-for-money analysis.

Tabled in parliament on August 6, 2008, the report was one of more than 40 the Audit Office had produced in the previous 12 months.

It escaped public attention at least partly because it was not among the handful that parliament’s joint committee on public accounts chose to examine further in its role as chief audit scrutineer. At the time, the committee was chaired by then Labor MP Sharon Grierson with then Liberal MP Petro Georgiou as her deputy.

When the report was tabled, Morrison was a member of the public accounts committee, which was tasked with considering it for review. He resigned from the committee six weeks after the report was tabled and, it is understood, some months before the committee formally considered it. The Saturday Paper does not suggest Morrison influenced the audit’s treatment. Grierson says that as Tourism Australia had accepted its three recommendations, and nobody on the committee raised any issues, the report was not officially examined further – standard procedure in dealing with the volume of audits each year.

The Saturday Paper lodged detailed questions about the audit report with Morrison’s office but was told he was not able to answer them in the time available.

Performance reviews of the two key contracts between 2005 and 2007 – contained in the audit – revealed Tourism Australia had failed to disclose to its own board that it had underspent $3.9 million on one of the contracts in 2006-07.

It was found that in one case invoices had been raised before the contract was signed and that in another case the price paid in some areas of a contract was “more expensive than the benchmark”.

The audit report does not mention then tourism minister Fran Bailey’s sacking of Morrison in July 2006, nor any of the alleged preceding tension between them that has been the subject of public speculation since.

But The Saturday Paper understands the events and issues the audit report outlines played a significant role in Morrison’s removal. Unconfirmed news reports have since alleged that he received a payout of more than $300,000.

Asked to comment this week on the report’s contents in relation to Morrison’s dismissal, Bailey would only repeat the one comment she has made before: “I reiterate that it was a unanimous decision to get rid of Mr Morrison by the board and the minister.”

She added: “I have always treated confidential matters as confidential.”……

Read the full article here.

The Guardian, 18 November 2018:

The Morrison government has extended emergency three-month funding contracts to 16 more financial counselling, legal aid and charity groups to keep them open over the Christmas holiday period after it cut their funding with little warning.

The move was made without fanfare, logged quietly on the Department of Social Services website on Wednesday evening.

It comes as the social services minister, Paul Fletcher, faces continued criticism for his department’s decision to overhaul funding arrangements for key community services groups in the lead-up to Christmas.

In some cases, barely two months’ notice has been given to groups to prepare for dramatic cuts in the new year – a time of year when thousands of Australian families have traditionally needed more emergency assistance and financial counselling.

 On Wednesday evening, the Department of Social Services (DSS) released a document on its website saying it would extend emergency three-month funding contracts – covering the period 1 January 2019 to 31 March 2019 – to 16 organisations that had lost their funding in the latest round of grants:

FMC Relationship Services
Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited
VincentCare Victoria
Odyssey House, Victoria
Mallee Family Care Inc
Anglicare SA Ltd
Centacare Catholic Country SA Ltd
The Trustee for The Salvation Army (NSW) Property Trust
Southern Youth and Family Services Limited
Vietnamese Community in Australia NSW Chapter Inc
The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (Q.)
C Q Financial Counselling Association Inc.
Prisoners’ Legal Service Inc
Agencies for South West Accommodation Inc.
CentreCare Incorporated

Neither the government nor the department has drawn attention to the funding extensions……