Thursday, 18 July 2019

Local conspiracy theorist is at it again


Age has not dimmed Fred 'The Red Herring' Perring......

The Daily Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 16 July 2019, p.15:

Plotters signed Australia up to new world order

EX-PM Turnbull and his acolyte Julie Bishop were in cahoots with many others to bring down Tony Abbott long before Turnbull finally wielded the knife.

Both Turnbull and Bishop were part of the far left of the Liberal party. Both were disciples of the principles of the United Nations, which encompassed a Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

During a speech Bishop made at the United Nations she actually signed Australia on to become part of the new world order global government.

The Australian people were never consulted.

The Paris Agreement is a case in point – a United Nations piggy bank into which subservient, signed-up countries must tip a billion or so each and every year, ostensibly to help poorer countries.

It is the UN that is getting fatter, although for how long is the question – more and more European countries are wanting out.

In relation to the UN and its hold over various bodies controlling areas of the environment under heritage orders, the NSW Government proposes to raise the wall on Warragamba Dam to increase water storage and to alleviate flooding on the lower reaches.

This vital work cannot go ahead without the authority of the United Nations puppet on World Heritage, which recently held a meeting in Azerbaijan to discuss the proposal.

A report is out soon with UN members to come to Australia to view the effects on the Blue Mountains heritage area.

No thanks to Bishop and Turnbull.

Bob “World Government” Brown would be oh so pleased.

Fred Perring,

Halfway Creek

Yet more opinions that the 46th Australian Government - the Morrison Government - will not end well for the nation


The Australian: Morrison Government Ministry 2019

The Monthly, 9 July 2019:

As Australia’s economy falters, the government’s fiscal heart is hardening, not softening. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s determination to deliver his much-vaunted budget surplus for 2019–20 and retain Australia’s AAA credit rating – which is hardly in danger – is of a piece with junior minister Luke Howarth telling the homeless to look on the bright side. In prospect is more of the same punishing austerity towards anyone doing it tough; it’s the flipside of celebrating those who aspire and get ahead, and who are rewarded with taxpayer largesse through subsidies and tax loopholes. Last week’s $158 billion tax-cut package is going to accelerate the trend to an increasingly unequal Australia, which has resulted from the Coalition’s agenda since it was elected in 2013. As former treasurer Joe Hockey said when defending his first budget, the worst-received in living memory: “Governments have never been able to achieve equality of outcomes … It is not the role of government to use the taxation and welfare system as a tool to ‘level the playing field’”.

Flanked by his assistant minister, Michael Sukkar, and the tax commissioner, Chris Jordan, Frydenberg today announced [$] that more than 810,000 Australians had already filed their 2018–19 tax returns and could be receiving their rebates of up to $1080 by the weekend. But, resisting calls from the Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, he stressed that there would be no further stimulus, citing the “non-negotiable” imperative of reaching a budget surplus this year, and saying that the government would be focused on reducing debt….

Doing the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result is clearly not working. Today’s NAB business confidence survey showed that the post-election bounce has been short-lived, and the first of the RBA’s two recent rate cuts has failed to improve conditions. A small uptick in employment growth is positive, but NAB’s chief economist, Alan Oster, says the overall decrease in business conditions has been “relatively broad-based across states and industries – suggesting that there has been sector-wide loss of momentum over the past year”. The share market is jumpy, selling off sharply today as APRA, in a sign of nervousness, lowered its capital requirements for banks, and bond markets are reportedly “screaming economic downturn”…..

The Saturday Paper, editorial, 6 July 2019:

And so it passes, the greatest assault on the safety net from which Australian life is built. Scott Morrison’s tax cuts are through and the revenue base that provides for health and education and social welfare is shredded. The legacy of the 46th parliament is there in its very first week: the destruction of the social compact that made this country stable.

On analysis by the Grattan Institute, to pay for these cuts at least $40 billion a year will need to be trimmed from government spending by 2030. The Coalition argues it will not cut services. It says jobs growth will reduce spending on welfare. A surplus will mean less interest paid on debt.

The assumptions are heroic and unsustainable. They show an extraordinary indifference to reality. More than that, they are indifferent to need. People will be worse off under these cuts. They will face greater hardship, have less access to health and to quality education. The people worst affected did not vote for Scott Morrison. Half the country didn’t. The damage done is near irreversible. It is infinitely easier to cut taxes than to raise them. This is a triumph of greed and political cowardice. The Labor Party waved it through.

The principles of this policy were first written on a paper napkin in 1974, when the conservative economist Arthur Laffer sketched out his famous tax curve for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. That serviette is one of the most pernicious documents in modern politics. It made the case for what became trickle-down economics. It became the lie through which governments gave money to the rich and pretended they were helping the poor.

The year Scott Morrison became treasurer, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry brought Laffer to Australia for a speaking tour. He met with Josh Frydenberg. His doctrine has its most explicit contemporary expression in the cuts passed this week…...

In his first major speech as prime minister, Morrison said he didn’t believe people should be taxed more to improve the lives of others. He said people had to work for it: they had to have a go. “I think that’s what fairness means in this country,” he said. “It’s not about everybody getting the same thing. If you put in, you get to take out, and you get to keep more of what you earn.”

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of taxation. You don’t pay tax in exchange for services. You pay tax for a society. Under Morrison, you pay less tax and you have less society. The obliterating self-interest of this week will be felt for generations. Morrison’s victory is a huge, huge loss.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

No you weren't imagining it - wages are stagnating in Australia


Whenever the Fair Work Commission reviews the minimum wage, one of those making a submission* to keep any increase in the minimum wage a modest one will be the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.

By way of example:
https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/sites/wagereview2014/submissions/ausgovt_sub_awr1314.pdf
First 5 points in a 12 point statement of Australian Government's position
https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/sites/wagereview2015/submissions/austgov_sub_awr1415.pdf


This is the result.......


As the asset-driven wealth gap has widened, incomes generated by employment have failed to keep up.

Average weekly disposable household incomes have grown just $44 over the past decade. In the four years to 2007-08, average weekly household incomes grew by $220. They dipped in the immediate wake of the global financial crisis before reaching $1067 in the 2013-14 survey. They fell in the next survey and rose $8 a week to $1062 in the 2017-18 survey.

In NSW, those in the lowest 20 per cent of income earners have seen their incomes go backwards in real terms since 2015-16, from $412 a week to $397 a week. They are only $6 a week higher than in 2011-12. The biggest increase has been for people in Tasmania, where disposable incomes jumped $83 to a record-high $922, with households across all income ranges boosted. The largest slump has been in Western Australia, where disposable incomes are $157 lower than their peak in 2013-14. [my yellow highlighting]

However, lest Australian voters seek to blame the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison or any employer lobby group for paltry wages growth, the Australian Treasury and participants at a recent conference organised by the rather esoteric Economic Society of Australia - est. in 1925 and delighting in producing articles such as "Community and Expert Wine Ratings and Prices" and "Non‐monotonic NPV Function Leads to Spurious NPVs and Multiple IRR Problems: A New Method that Resolves these Problems" - have rushed to the defence of both government and the business community.

With Treasury in particular pointing a finger at employees, who are reluctant to quit their current jobs and chance their arm in an uncertain labour market, as a possible cause of low wages growth.  
So there you have it. Despite both the federal government and employer groups constantly pushing to limit wages growth, it's really the fault of workers. 

Regardless of the fact that productivity growth mainly from workers' efforts has averaged 1.4 percent a year since the end of 2010 having risen at a relatively steady rate since 1991.

Note:
* See https://www.fwc.gov.au/awards-agreements/minimum-wages-conditions/annual-wage-reviews/annual-wage-review-2017-18-3. Go to right hand sidebar, open a wage review link, select Submissions &  then click on Initial Submissions.


So much for Liberal-Nationals boasts concerning regional jobs growth in 2019


After Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison abandoned the Coalition's proposed National Energy Guarantee which would allegedly reduce polluting emissions and lower electricity retail costs, the energy sector remains in disarray.

One hundred and sixty-five jobs are at risk across regional News South Wales as Essential Energywhose operational footprint covers 95 percent of the state apparently considers downsizing employee numbers as a cost-cutting measure is the best way to gain the Morrison Government’s approval.

In all probability hoping that this move will appease Morrison and he will then decide to forget his promise to force all energy companies to lower their prices.

Sadly, this is just the sort of short-sighted approach to cost cutting which ‘The Liar From The Shire’ would approve.

Though how downsizing staff leads to better customer service under The Energy Charter I am at a loss to understand.

The Daily Examiner, 4 July 2019, p.1:

Methods used to determine who stays in a job at Essential Energy have been likened to the battle for survival in sci-fi film Hunger Games.

The Electrical Trade Union claims workers will be pitted against each other to save their own job and asserts that the company has told workers Grafton will be one of the hardest hit in a plan to slash 165 jobs across regional NSW.

The Daily Examiner was told of workers being asked to write letters to state why they should keep their job.

ETU secretary Justin Paige slammed the announcement of cuts, saying the use of forced redundancies along with a “Hunger Games” style competition between workers was causing unnecessary hardship.

Workers have been given less than a week to respond to the plan, with the first staff to be made forcibly redundant as early as July 10, but we are examining every legal and industrial avenue available to stop them,” Mr Paige said.

The worst part is many of these cuts will be undertaken through what management have called a ‘merit selection process’, which will essentially pit workers against each other to save their own job.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Deputy Premier John Barilaro poured scorn on the proposed job losses…...

The Daily Examiner, 5 July 2019, p.3:

The ALP has accused Nationals MPs of hypocrisy over their response to Essential Energy sacking 182 employees.

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said it was the height of hypocrisy for Nationals MPs like John Barilaro and Chris Gulaptis to claim they are fighting against Essential Energy’s regional job cuts.

Ms Saffin said the Nationals allowed Essential Energy to be corporatised so they could bleat all they like but lost their say in the matter when they agreed to the sell-off.

The Nationals’ excuse was that a Restart fund would be set up from the proceeds of the sale and that regional and rural NSW would get 30 per cent of the proceeds annually,” Ms Saffin said. “They never even delivered and failed regional NSW. The Auditor General has showed year after year since 2011 that Restart has not met the Nationals’ 30 per cent target – it was 17 per cent last year.

The Nationals lost three seats at the recent State election, which is why John Barilaro is now posturing that his hapless party is suddenly independent of the Liberals.”

Ms Saffin said she was saddened to hear of Essential Energy’s plan to sack more workers as it was a cruel blow to them and their families, and would make it harder on remaining workers maintaining or upgrading infrastructure.

Essential Energy, which operates electricity poles and wires across 95 per cent of the state, has gutted more than 2000 jobs from their ranks since 2015,” Ms Saffin said.

It is hard enough to get permanent roles in the regions and while jobs have grown in the city it has been slow here…..

The Daily Examiner, 8 July 2019, p.3:

Essential Energy has hit the pause button on its moves to cut 182 job across Northern NSW after a Fair Work Commission meeting which called for the company to provide further information to its workers.

On Friday power industry unions reached an in-principle agreement with Essential Energy in the Fair Work Commission that paused planned job cuts until additional consultation took place.
The agreement means no jobs will be lost before mid-August, with unions given an opportunity to propose alternative cost saving measures and initiatives that could avert the need for redundancies.
Essential Energy committed to distributing information to all employees by July 19 that includes: the justification for role reductions, the specific impacts of cuts on remaining team members, and details of the tasks or functions that will cease to be performed.
Essential Energy also committed to consider alternative savings measures before redundancy decisions.
Electrical Trades Union secretary Justin Page welcomed the outcome, saying it was vital workers could identify alternatives to regional job cuts.
This is a tough time for Essential Energy workers, their families and colleagues,” Mr Page said.
After four years of deep staffing cuts at Essential Energy – which has not only devastated those workers directly impacted, but has had profound impacts on service delivery and regional communities – today’s reprieve is extremely welcome, but is just the start…..

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Housing affordability for NSW North Coast renters is beyond the reach of many


On 1 May 2019 The Financial Review reported on the top twenty federal electorates with the highest level of rental stress in Australia.

The Northern Rivers federal electorates of Richmond and Page were placed in 3rd & 8th positions respectively, with a total of 13,937 household experiencing rental stress .

While the mid-North Coast federal electorates of Lyne and Cowper came in 6th & 10th place, with a total of 13,283 households under rental stress.

Anglicare Australia's 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot demonstrates that this stress is an ongoing problem with housing affordability for those on low incomes on the NSW North Coast.

In 2018 five of the six NSW local government areas with the most unaffordable rentals were on the Far and Mid North Coast.

A St Vincent de Paul Society spokesperson is reported in The Daily Examiner this week highlighting the fact that people on the North Coast are going without food in order to keep their rental accommodation.

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government spends literally billions supporting property speculators and investors in their aspirations to become personally wealthy, but is ignoring the plight of low income renters trying to keep a roof over their heads.

If it will no longer invest in affordable housing through adequate targeted federal funding tied to the states increasing social/community housing stocks, the least it can do is raise the Commonwealth Rental Assistance Payment available to eligible low-income individuals and families.

Australian Prime Minister Morrison's relentless hammering of the poor and vulnerable set to continue?


The Guardian, 7 July 2019:

The Morrison government says it remains committed to a plan criticised as “brutal” to dock the welfare of those who repeatedly fail to pay state fines, and may still proceed with cuts to student payments claimed by the unemployed, the disabled and sole parents.

The Coalition introduced a number of welfare measures in 2017 which drew the ire of social service groups but ultimately never came into effect because the government failed to win the support of the Senate or the states and territories.

Guardian Australia reported this month that internal documents suggested the contentious plan to drug test welfare recipients was not a priority, but the government has insisted it remains on its agenda.

Other welfare proposals from the last parliament included about $90m in cuts to student payments, legislation to automatically deduct rent from welfare recipients living in social housing, which critics said could put family violence survivors at risk, and a plan to impose the “demerit point” compliance scheme on those doing the remote work-for-the-dole program, which has seen payment suspensions surge…...

But the spokesman did confirm the government still intended to create the scheme to automatically dock 15% of payments for those who have unpaid fines…...

The Encouraging Lawful Behaviour of Income Support Recipients proposal remains government policy and requires legislative approval,” Ruston’s spokesman said…..

Labor had opposed the cuts to the $208-a-year pensioner education supplement and the $32.20-a week education entry payment, which are intended to help low-income people with the cost of study.

The changes would save the budget $95m over five years, but the opposition said the policy would hurt people with disability, carers, sole parents and the unemployed.

The Australian Council of Social Service has previously lashed the plan to dock welfare payments from people with court-ordered state fines as “particularly brutal”.

The proposal would automatically dock 15% of an income support payment, but critics say it will push vulnerable people into homelessness.

Welfare groups including the Australian Unemployed Workers Union have also expressed grave concerns about a plan announced last year to link Newstart recipients to farm work using the national database.

The unemployed would face losing their welfare payments for four weeks if they turned down what the government described as a “suitable job without reasonable excuse”.

The department of employment confirmed the policy would begin in July next year.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Clarence Valley NSW has recorded its highest tourist numbers ever


Clarence Valley Council, media release, 9 July 2019: 


Record tourism numbers in the Clarence 

THE Clarence Valley has recorded its highest tourist numbers in history, with an estimated 1.3 million visitors coming to the region during 2018. 

Tourism Research Australia figures show a 22% increase in international, domestic and day visitors from 2017 to 2018, continuing an impressive increase over the past three years. 

Clarence Valley Council destination management officer, Lou Gumb, said the word was getting out that the Clarence Valley region boasted some of the finest scenery, adventure and nature-based experiences that Australia had to offer. 

“The Clarence Valley offers a diverse array of quality and unique offerings,” she said. 

Key Clarence Valley tourism results for 2018 are: 

 Domestically, we welcomed 680,000 overnight visitors who stayed 2,355,037 nights. 

 Internationally, the Clarence Valley received 27,000 visitors who stayed 157,830 nights. 

 Day visitors to the Clarence Valley totalled 600,000. Council’s economic development manager, Elizabeth Fairweather, said Tourism Research Australia’s figures showed a big turn around after a steady decline in tourism numbers over the past 10 years. 

“We hit the lowest point in 2014 when 857,000 visitors were recorded as coming to the area,” she said.  

“But here we are at the end of 2018 with a whopping 52 per cent increase on this in a relatively short space of time. 

“The graph line is now on a fast incline but this hasn’t happened by accident. We’ve worked incredibly hard to create awareness of the Clarence Valley, support the local industry, encourage nature-based sporting events and overall enhance the region’s nature-based experiences, targeting active families.” 

Ms Gumb said there had been a multifaceted approach that included working with the local tourism industry, government bodies including Destination NSW and Tourism Australia, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Crown Lands and the Forestry Corporation. 

“We are working to attract visitors and to create an atmosphere that encourages people to stay longer, spend more and return year after year because they have had such a wonderful time in our very special part of the world,” she said.  

“You only have to look at our @myclarencevalley on social media to see how many people have already fallen in love with the area and can’t wait to come back. Even those who have not yet visited the Clarence Valley are fast realising the Clarence Valley should be on their to-do list.” 

Mayor Jim Simmons said the impressive numbers were charging the region’s economy, generating jobs and driving investment in local communities as tourists chose to visit the Clarence Valley. 

“The results speak to the broad appeal of the Clarence Valley region,” he said. 

“We really do have something for everyone, with our renowned Clarence canoe and kayak trail, Grafton Jacaranda season, Yuraygir coastal walk, tourist towns including Yamba, Iluka, Brooms Head, Wooli and Ulmarra.  

“Visitors are coming for our beaches and rivers, bush adventures, laid-back lifestyle, world-class food, events and just to kick back and relax if that’s all they want to do.” 

Want to know more about visiting the Clarence Valley? Head to www.myclarencevalley.com 

Release ends

The national scandal that is the Murray-Darling Basin continues unabated


On the morning of Friday 12 July 2019 NSW Water's real-time records showed that much of the Murray-Darling Basin river systems where they pass through New South Wales are still recording less than 20 per cent water flows, with some sections of the Darling River still regularly recording zero flows and water levels as low as 0.16 of a metre.  

Water sustainability and environmental water flows have been in crisis for decades within the Basin and no solution is in sight.

Here is a snapshot of the latest information........

ABC News, 7 July 2019:

Australian taxpayers have given a huge corporation more than $40 million, enabling it to expand irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin under an environmental scheme that has been labelled a national disgrace.

Four Corners can reveal that more than $4 billion in Commonwealth funds has been handed over to irrigators, which has allowed them to expand their operations and use more water under the $5.6 billion water infrastructure scheme — the centrepiece of Australia's $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The scheme is intended to recover water for the rivers by giving farmers money to build water-saving infrastructure, in return for some of their water rights.

Some of the beneficiaries of the scheme are partly foreign-owned corporations that have used the money to transform vast tracts of land along the threatened river system, planting thirsty cotton and nut fields.

One of the biggest operators is Webster Limited, a publicly traded company that produces 90 per cent of Australia's walnuts and is 19.5 per cent owned by Canadian pension fund PSP.

Webster has received $41 million from the water infrastructure scheme to grow its empire in the Murrumbidgee Valley, in south-west New South Wales, where it has bought hundreds of square kilometres of land.

The funding covers more than half of an ambitious $78 million capital works program by Webster Limited to build dams to store more than 30 billion extra litres of water and irrigate an extra 81 square kilometres of land, developing much of it into prime, irrigated cotton country.

Maryanne Slattery, a former director at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, says it is horrifying that a scheme designed to help the environment is allowing irrigators to use more water.

"That program was supposed to reduce the amount of water that was going to irrigation, when it's actually increased the opportunities for irrigation … all subsidised by taxpayers," she said…...

Read full article here.

ABC Four Corners8 July 2019:

Taxpayer dollars, secretive deals and the lucrative business of water.

"It's a national scandal." Water economist

Two years on from the Four Corners investigation into water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin that sparked a royal commission, the program returns to the river system to investigate new concerns about how the plan to rescue it is being carried out.

"How extravagant is this scheme?... I'd just call it a rort." Lawyer

On Monday Four Corners investigates whether the contentious plan has become a colossal waste of taxpayers' money.

"The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a triple bottom line fail. It's a fail for communities, it's a fail for the economy and it's absolutely a fail for the environment." Business owner

The river system is the lifeblood of Australian agriculture but right now it's in crisis. It's experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, and with mass fish deaths capturing the headlines and farmers struggling to survive, many are saying the scheme is failing to deliver.

"I would characterise it as pink batts for farmers, or pink batts for earth movers. It all had to happen in a short space of time." Contractor

Billions of taxpayers' dollars are being poured into grants handed to irrigators in an attempt to save more water. Four Corners investigates exactly how the money is being spent.

"I'm a taxpayer. I don't agree with the scheme. I think it's actually too expensive." Farmer

Some irrigators say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform their businesses.

"With a bold initiative, having the basin plan and the government investing in irrigated agriculture, you get an opportunity to basically reset... for the next 50 years." Irrigation CEO

Others question who is actually gaining the most from the generous scheme.

"We're degrading the rivers at the same time as we're handing out money to a few individuals to realise huge economic gains at public cost." Ecologist

For those with access to water, there are lucrative sales to be made. Water prices have hit record highs turning it into liquid gold.

"Anyone can come in and buy water. You don't even have to be a farmer...You're going to make money out of it, and that's what a lot of people are doing, unfortunately." Farmer

Others worry that the scheme is encouraging the planting of crops even thirstier than cotton, creating a potential time bomb.

"There's been an explosion in the production of nuts in the Murrumbidgee, and more broadly in the Murray-Darling Basin...This may well be a time bomb." Former water official

Four Corners investigates how the scheme is being regulated and whether water users and the authorities responsible are being properly held to account.

"We're talking about billions of dollars in taxpayers' money on a scheme that many, many capable and reliable scientists have said, this isn't going to work." Lawyer

Transcript of Four Corners 8 July 2019 episode Cash Splash is here.

Abc.net.au, 9 July 2019:

Two years on from Pumped, the Four Corners investigation into water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin that sparked a royal commission, Monday night’s report Cash Splash investigated new concerns about how the plan to rescue the fragile and vitally important river system is being carried out, probing the infrastructure grants scheme which is now the centrepiece of the $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The investigation revealed tens of millions of dollars intended to restore the Murray-Darling Basin is helping big businesses expand irrigation and access huge volumes of water that would have flowed into communities and habitats downstream.

The aim of the story was to speak with people who have first-hand evidence of how the grants scheme is operating. It drew on a wide cross-section of the community affected by the scheme, including farmers and irrigators who have received the funding or been involved in its expenditure, scientists and economists who have gathered and analysed data on its effects, community leaders, former government officials and current and former Murrumbidgee Irrigation staff.

The interviewees on the program were:

Julie and Glen Andreazza, NSW Farmers of the Year
Brett Jones, CEO, Murrumbidgee Irrigation
Anthony Kidman, former Murrumbidgee Irrigation Project Manager
David Papps, former Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
Professor Richard Kingsford, Ecologist, UNSW
Richard Beasley SC, Former Senior Counsel Assisting the SA Royal Commission into the MDBP
Prof Sarah Wheeler, Water Economist, University of Adelaide
John Kerrigan, Earthmover and now irrigator and recipient of infrastructure grants
Maryanne Slattery, former Director of Environmental Water at the MDBA and now senior Water Researcher, Australia Institute
Kelvin and Glen Baxter, farmers
Prof Quentin Grafton, UNESCO Chair in Water Economics, ANU
Paul Pierotti, Vice President of the Griffith Business Chamber
Tony Onley, Business Development Coordinator, Murrumbidgee Irrigation
Emma Carmody, Senior Solicitor, Environmental Defender’s Office
Matthew Ireson, Grazier

Four Corners requested an interview with Environment Minister Sussan Ley, who is responsible for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and is the Member for Farrer, which includes the Murrumbidgee Valley where the story was filmed.


Minister Ley declined to be interviewed and her spokesperson told Four Corners no-one from the government would comment for the story.