Thursday 31 October 2019

Approval for a controversial rezoning that could allow a second boat-building yard in the Clarence River estuary must come from the NSW Berejiklian Government

The Daily Examiner, 26 October 2019, p.3: 

Approval for a controversial rezoning that could allow a boat-building yard for Palmers Island must come from the State Government. 

At its Tuesday meeting, Clarence Valley Council voted in support of a motion that effectively washed its hands of making any recommendations, handing decision-making for the proposal which has split the local community to NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes. 

Boat-building firm Yamba Welding and Engineering has applied to have a 20ha block of land in School Rd, Palmers Island, rezoned from rural to industrial usage. Company owner Bill Collingburn said expanding his operation to Palmers Island would allow him to triple the size of his operation. 

The community has flooded the council with 183 submissions (131 against and 52 for) and two petitions – one with 689 signatures supporting the proposal and another with 445 names against it..... 

Instead of following a staff recommendation on the handover, which referenced legal advice which could have ruled the planning proposal invalid, Cr Andrew Baker sought to be “neutral”, with a wide-ranging motion covering what the council had done to date on the matter. 

Deputy Mayor Jason Kingsley successfully amended the motion, to make it more neutral. 

This was not enough for some of the residents. 

Resident Peter Sutton said the attempt to be “neutral” was misleading. “Cr Baker has twisted words and included issues that are no longer valid,” Mr Sutton said. 

But Mr Collingburn was pleased to see the council take an even-handed approach. 

“It’s just people squealing,” he said. “You talk to most people and they want to see jobs and growth in the region.”

Administrative staff advice before Clarence Valley councillors on 22 October 2019 included the following:

183 submissions were received. This included two petitions and four submissions from Government Agencies including an objection to the loss of primary agricultural land from Department of Primary Industries. The submissions have been assessed by an external planning consultant (Planning Resolutions) to provide independent advice. The consultant has provided a summary report of matters raised in the submissions and a summary of the key issues at Attachment B. 

The report by Planning Resolutions concluded that: ‘The support for the Planning Proposal is almost entirely and simply support of the business/boat building industry rather than supporting a change in zoning for this particular site. The submissions objecting to the Planning Proposal provide compelling evidence as to the adverse site impacts and comprehensively dispel the reasons put forward by the proponent for not locating the business on Harwood Island. Council has completed a proper strategic planning process that establishes Harwood Island as a suitable Marine Precinct’. [my yellow highlighting]

Council has been advised by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces that it is not the local plan-making authority for this Planning Proposal and has no legal power to determine this application. 

Two separate legal advices confirm that the Planning Proposal in its current form is in conflict with State Environmental Planning Policy 55 - Remediation of Land due to a tractor storage area on the property being a potentially contaminated site. Whilst this matter is resolvable, a rezoning may not be considered in any form when such conflict with a state policy exists. Therefore on this issue alone the Planning Proposal is likely to not proceed.

It is noted that on or about 3 April 2019 Council was in receipt of Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel Gateway Review Advice Report which found among other things that: "The zoned land at Harwood is not practically available for the proposed use due to land ownership, access limitations, and operational requirements of the planning proposal".

It is further noted that there is an existing marine precinct relatively close by at Harwood Slipway.

Over the years Yamba Welding and Engineering has met with NSW government ministers on a number of occasions in pursuit of its business expansion.

As recently as 18 June 2019 the company, along with Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, met with the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade John Barilaro concerning its development plans in the Clarence Valley.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

The drying of Australia is beginning to bite its capital cities in 2019

Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Water Storage Summary, 27 October 2019:

Thirty-five days days out from the start of the Australian summer and in the third year of another severe drought -  as of 26 October 2019 - Hobart had 24.8% less stored water than the same day in 2018, Darwin 22.5% less, Brisbane 16.5% less, Sydney 14.9% less, Canberra 12.4% less, Perth 7.7% less, Adelaide 2.4% less and Melbourne 0.6% less.

Current storage levels in the capital cities are:

Australia wide total water storage stood at:

While Rural Water Storage Systems stood at:

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison caught misrepresenting climate change facts to the United Nations

The Australian, 24 October 2019:

At the United Nations during his US trip, Scott Morrison said that when it came to per capita investment in clean energy, Australia spent more than “anywhere in the world”. Not a lot of ambiguity there. He repeated the claim last week in parliament, but instead of referring to clean energy the PM narrowed the description down to renewables.

Both claims are false, the latter more so than the first.

The Australia Institute decided to look into the claim, which was based on a Bloomberg study which revealed yes, Australia has the highest per capita investment in clean energy of 14 countries it looked at. The Prime Minister’s office confirmed to me that was the source for his UN claim.

Where to start …

I suspect most readers, along with the PM, realise that there are more than 14 countries in the world. Quite a few more actually. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that. Which means relying on a 14 country study to make the wild claim that we spend more per capita on clean energy (we’ll forget when the PM misspoke in the parliament about “renewables”) than “anywhere in the world” is pretty silly. Yet that’s what Morrison did, on the world stage. It’s rather Donald Trump like.

It turns out beyond the 14 countries in that study there are other nations that invest more per capita than we do — in clean energy broadly and in renewables more specifically……

But if the PM wants to crow about something his government has criticised in the domestic political setting that’s his choice.
However it was plain wrong to claim we are first. And unnecessary, given we do so well despite not being first.

When I first flagged this inaccuracy by the PM last Friday in a news package for Network Ten his office were quick to accuse me of being misleading and complained that when calling out the inaccuracy I didn’t specifically refer to the report which showed we were number one.

Never mind that the PM didn’t refer to the 14 country study either in his 15 minute speech. Apparently I should have done so in my one minute ten seconds package. Weird to expect me to cite a source the PM didn’t cite when making a claim the source didn’t make…….

The next tactic in the PMO complaints was to attack the credibility of the Australia Institute — which yes we can categorise as a left leaning think tank. Reminiscent of John Howard’s “who do you trust” campaign in 2004, I was asked (though it wasn’t really a question) which organisation do I trust more: the highly credible Bloomberg which did the 14 country study, or the ideologically compromised Australia Institute.

But the Australia Institute report didn’t contradict the Bloomberg study. It accepted it, simply pointing out it only examined 14 countries. The criticism for inaccuracy was levelled at the PM, who misused that study to claim first place over every single country across the globe, not Bloomberg. So which organisation anyone thinks is more or less credible just isn’t relevant. It is a red herring.

This is just one example of the way political spin doctors try and challenge entirely fair and reasonable reporting and commentary. Or the way some do, anyway. The funny thing is they become like the boy who cried wolf when they do so this way. Of course journalists and commentators make mistakes and misjudgements. Meaning that there is always a place for the media guardians of a PM or any politician to (politely) complain or correct.

But when they do so on flimsy ground, or no grounds like in this example, they make journalists and commentators instantly cynical of the next time they whinge, just like the boy who cries wolf.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Police are a vital part of regional NSW but incidents such as this are becoming too common

It would be hard to find a person who isn't glad to see police in times of fire, flood, destructive storms and bad traffic accidents.

Families are also grateful when police go out to check on the welfare of relatives who live far away.

So it is always disappointing when reports like this surface.....

Echo NetDaily, 25 October 2019:

One of the officers involved in the arrest of a teenager in the Byron CBD last year has been charged with common assault.

A screen grab of the A Current Affair footage, which was taken by Byron locals who witnessed the incident. (Channel Nine)
NSW Police this morning issued a statement saying that an officer had been charged over the incident and would appear in court on December 2.
The teenager was arrested by four officers in the early hours of February 11 last year in Lateen Lane.
The laying of the charge follows an investigation into the incident by the law enforcement conduct commission, which referred the matter to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions (NSWDPP) for advice about whether charges could be laid against the officer.
The Commission found that the officer engaged in serious misconduct by applying 19 baton strikes to the young person. It made no adverse findings against the other officers involved in the young person’s apprehension.
On Wednesday the officer was issued with a Future Court Attendance Notice, and he will now appear in Byron Local court on December 2.
NSW Police has previously indicated that the officer is no longer serving in the Byron region.
‘He is now performing duties at another command,’ a NSW Police spokesperson said.....

It appears that in a Morrison-led economy not all of his aspirational folk "who have a go" are actually managing to "get a go"

Credit Suisse Research Institute, Global wealth report 2019, excerpt:

For the past decade, global wealth creation has centered around China and the United States. This year, the United States extended its unbroken spell of wealth gains, which began after the global financial crisis in 2008. The United States also accounts for 40% of dollar millionaires worldwide and for 40% of those in the top 1% of global wealth distribution. Wealth in China started the century from a lower base, but grew at a much faster pace during the early years. It was one of the few countries to avoid the impact of the global financial crisis. China’s progress has enabled it to replace Europe as the principal source of global wealth growth and to replace Japan as the country with the second-largest number of millionaires. More tellingly, China overtook the United States this year to become the country with most people in the top 10% of global wealth distribution. 

The rest of the world has not stood still. Other emerging markets – India in particular – have made a steady contribution, which we expect to continue over the next five years. However, overall worldwide growth was modest in the 12 months up to mid-2019. Aggregate global wealth rose by USD 9.1 trillion to USD 360.6 trillion, representing a growth rate of 2.6%. Wealth per adult grew by just 1.2% to USD 70,850 per adult in mid-2019. The number of new millionaires was also relatively modest, up 1.1 million to 46.8 million. The United States added 675,000 newcomers, more than half of the global total. Japan and China each contributed more than 150,000, but Australia lost 124,000 millionaires following a fall in average wealth.....

Comparing total wealth gains and losses across the most important countries....The main losses occurred in Australia (down USD 443 billion), Turkey (down USD 257 billion) and Pakistan (down USD 141 billion).

During the past year, the total number of UHNW  [Ultra High Net Worth] adults has risen by 6,870 (4%), with every region except Africa recording a net increase. The regions adding most members were North America (4,570), Latin America (870) and Europe (710). China (up 370) and India (up 54) had a relatively quiet year. The individual countries gaining the most members were the United States (4,200) and – more surprisingly – Brazil (860) and Russia (400). Losses occurred in Korea (down 140), Turkey (down 230), Italy (down 270) and Australia (down 280)......

According to our estimates, the number of global millionaires could exceed 62 million in 2024, a rise of almost 16 million from today, and 49 million from the beginning of the century......Among developed economies, millionaire numbers in Germany, France, Italy and Sweden are expected to rise roughly in line with the global average. Canada and Spain should perform a little better, and Japan and Portugal much better. However, growth of millionaire numbers in the United Kingdom after Brexit is unlikely to match the rest of the world and we think this will also be the case with Australia and Norway

Also according to Credit Suisse:

  • only 29 of the current crop of wannabe millionaires will make it into the winners circle by 2024; and
  • Australia's wealth to GDP ratio has fallen since its 2015 level.
Read the full report here.

While for all those other Australians who are not even close to becoming millionaires, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals in System of National Accounts 2018-19:
  • households have $46.42 billion less in total savings than they had four years ago;
  • net household savings are the lowest they have been since the Global Financial Crisis years;
  • these households spend less on daily needs to offset almost stagnant wages growth and a collective income tax payable bill which is $56.15 billion higher than it was in June 2015;
  • regardless of any reduction in spending on daily needs, households owed a total of $95.8 billion more in loans, placements & accounts payable than they did in June 2018; and
  • although employee compensation (wages) has grown modestly in the last financial year, as a share of gross national income employee wages have dropped to 48.44 per cent of the total.

Monday 28 October 2019

The Dept. of Human Services incorrectly sent out 10,000 "accounts payable notices" and did not inform the welfare recipients of its error

Senior government officials have confirmed 10,000 'robodebt' notices were accidentally sent to welfare recipients in April 2019 when they were meant to remain on hold for review.

Departmental bureaucrats discovered the error within two days and placed the alleged debts on hold.

However, the department did not contact those persons who had received these 10,000 "accounts payable notices".

To date only 200 welfare recipients who received these improper debt notices have contacted the Dept. of Human Services/Centrelink.

That leaves 9,800 current and/or former welfare recipients probably worrying themselves sick over a debt it is highly likely they don't actually owe. Readers can listen to the short ABC report here:

In addition to this error, in seeking recovery of money allegedly owed by welfare recipients Centrelink deliberately sent out debt notices to 169 welfare recipients who were already dead, while it also approached representatives of “deceased customers” in 515 cases.

According to The Guardian on 25 October 2019, in a recent Senate Estimates hearing the Department of Human Services has also not ruled out targeting age pensioners and other vulnerable people as part of the controversial robodebt scheme, saying any decision to expand the scheme in order to meet budget targets would be made “further down the track”.

On 3 October 2019 the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) informed the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into Centrelink's compliance program that:

ACOSS has held deep concerns about Centrelink's compliance program, otherwise known as robo-debt—which I will refer to here mostly in that way—since its inception. Despite some improvements to the implementation of the program, two fundamental design flaws remain inherent. One is the use of the averaging of ATO-reported annual income over the period someone has received income support, which is leading to incorrect calculations of overpayments. The other is the reversal of the onus of proof, which requires people to disprove alleged debts on the basis of very limited information. Under the current system, an individual's earnings data is matched with ATO data through an automated process. Where a discrepancy is identified, an individual is invited to confirm or update their income. This may go back some years and be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for people to obtain the necessary information from previous employers. Where they don't provide the relevant information, the department uses averaged ATO data as a default. The department does this in full knowledge that's it's unlikely to produce an accurate or fair outcome, which its own debt recovery guidelines indeed warn. 

At present, there is a lack of transparency about the proportion and the number of debts raised as a result of ATO averaging processes, so we urge the committee, as part of this hearing, to seek information from the department for public release to inform this inquiry and the broader public debate about the policy. The robo-debt scheme also shifts the work of verifying income onto individuals, work that used to be done by the department, as well as shifting the onus of proof. As such, individuals are required to obtain historic payslips, bank statements and other records going back up to six years. If they are unable to do so, they risk incurring a debt erroneously. We note that Centrelink's previous guidelines advised people to keep employment records for six months, in stark contrast to the six-year period over which robo-debt ranges. This is deeply unfair. 

In addition to these fundamental design flaws, we hold concerns about the role of third party private companies in the compliance system, both as frontline staff in private service centres and in private debt collection agencies. We understand that to date one in three robo-debts have been sent to debt collectors. Direct engagement with people, often on low incomes and facing a range of life stresses, about their financial situation requires sensitivity and technical expertise. It's not appropriate for these functions to be outsourced to private operators who sit outside Centrelink, while Centrelink itself remains grossly understaffed. 

There are a range of other factors that compound unfairness of the current system. The first is that the government has extraordinary powers to enforce the debt owing to it, including to ban people from travelling internationally to garnish their tax returns and to charge interest on debt load. The automatic imposition of a debt recovery fee on debts prior to June 2017 adds further insult to injury for people affected. There is higher rate of erroneous debts calculated through the flawed data-matching algorithm, many of which will not be challenged and so we have no way of knowing, in fact, how many are in error, and the higher cost of administering the program at a time when our government says it doesn't have funds available to address other urgent priorities in social security systems. 

Finally, we'd like to remind the committee of the human impacts of this policy. Around a million income discrepancy notices have been issued since 2015 and half a million alleged it. And while every person's situation is different and not everybody is in a vulnerable situation, we know these notices have caused deep distress and anxiety for many people who've received them. Despite some exemptions, we know that they have been sent to people with mental health problems, people who've experienced trauma, people recently bereaved, people who are currently living on very low payments, people who are in financial hardship and people who are homeless. We also know that the impact has been devastating for many of those people, and they are very concerned at reports that the government might seek to narrow the range of available exemptions. We urge the committee to ensure that they hear from people directly affected by this scheme in the course of these hearings, including as witnesses. 

In closing, improvements to the implementation of the scheme, which we do acknowledge have not cured the fundamental design flaws at its heart, continue to cause great harm and distress. We urge the committee, therefore, to recommend suspension of the program and its replacement by a more transparent, fair, accurate and humane system of debt recovery

Intelligence and Security Committee of the Australian Parliament declined to recommend passage of Minister for Home Affairs Dutton's identity matching services bill

The Guardian, 24 October 2019:

Mark Dreyfus, as the most senior Labor member on the committee, also commented on the bill: 

The Intelligence and Security Committee of the Parliament is declining to recommend the passage of the identity matching services bill. 

Instead, Labor and Liberal members of the committee are uniting to recommend that the identity matches services bill be completely redrafted and referred back to the Intelligence and Security Committee for further inquiry when it is reintroduced. 

In taking this step, I congratulate all members of the committee for putting the national interest first and sending a strong message about the value of this committee. 

The identity matching services bill purports to facilitate the exchange of identity information pursuant to the objective of an intergovernmental agreement reached by Coag [in] October 2017. 

But it includes none of the limitations or safeguards anticipated by that agreement. 

The bill includes almost no limitations or safeguards at all. 

As explained in the committee’s report, the identity matching services bill would authorise the Department of Home Affairs to create and maintain facilities for the sharing of facial images and other identity information between government agencies and in some cases, non government agencies entities. 

The bill would also authorised the Department of Home Affairs to develop and maintain to centralised facilities for the provision of what are called identity matching services. 

The first of these two facilities would be called an interoperability hub. 

The Hub would act as a router through which government agencies across Australia could request and transmit information as part of an identity matching service. 

The second would be a federated database of information contained in government identity documents. As discussed in the committee’s report, the potential implications of these two new facilities for the privacy of all Australians are profound. 

Those implications do not appear to have even been considered by the Minister for Home Affairs or by his department. 

While a bill provides for six different identity mentioned services, the service that elicited the most concerned from submitters to the committee’s inquiry is the face of identification service. 

That service would enable authorities across Australia to use huge databases of facial images to determine the identity of an unknown person. 

Using that service, a law enforcement agency could submit a facial image for matching against a database of facial images contained in a in government identification documents, such as a database containing every driver licence photo in Australia. 

In return, the agency would receive a small number of matching or near matching facial images from the database. The agency could then access biographical information associated with those images. 

The potential for such a service to be used for mass or blanket surveillance, such as CCTV being used to identify Australians going about their business in real time was raised by numerous submitters to the inquiry......

Mark Dreyfus: Like my colleagues on the committee, I do not believe that the government is proposing to engage in or to facilitate the mass surveillance of Australians. But I do accept that, given the near complete absence of legislated safeguards in the Identity-Matching Services Bill 2019, those concerns cannot simply be ignored. If there is no intention for the proposed identity-matching services to be used to engage in mass surveillance activities, the government should not object to amending the bill to ensure that those services cannot, as a matter of law, be used in that manner. 

Concerns were also raised about the proposed one-to-many identity-matching service being used to identify people who are engaging in protest activity. This does concern me. It was only this month that the Minister for Home Affairs, the minister responsible for this very bill, called for mandatory prison sentences for people who engage in protest activity; called for the same people to have their welfare payments cancelled; and also called for them to be photographed and publicly shamed. As presently drafted, this bill would not prohibit authorities from using the proposed face-matching services to identify individuals in a crowd who are engaging in lawful protest activity. That would be concerning in the best of times; it is particularly concerning in the light of the authoritarian disposition of the Minister for Home Affairs. 

A raft of other concerns was expressed about the Identity-Matching Services Bill, including in relation to this government’s abysmal record on cybersecurity. 

I do not propose to list all of the concerns here today, but I encourage everyone to read about them in the committee’s report. 

I would like to thank my colleagues on the committee, Labor and Liberal, for their work on this important report. It should not escape anyone watching these proceedings today that, by agreeing to the set of recommendations contained in this report, the Liberal members of the committee have placed the national interest first. For that, I would like to pay tribute to Senators Stoker, Fawcett and Abetz, and the members for Canning, Berowra and Goldstein. I would like to pay particular tribute and extend my thanks to the chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the member for Canning. I also thank the committee secretariat for their excellent work, both in this parliament and in the last parliament, which underpins this report.

Text of the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 can be found here.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, "Advisory report on the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 and the Australian Passports Amendment (Identity-matching Services) Bill 2019" can be found here.

Sunday 27 October 2019

This is the Singleton Argus article that either the NSW Deputy-Premier or his office alleges is "seditious"

'the offence [sedition] is one if the person urges by force or violence the overthrowing of a government, or interfering with an election, or encouraging other people to use – or groups of people – to use force or violence against other groups' [The Attorney-General, Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Alan Jones Radio Programme, 14 November 2005, quoted in Australian Parliamentary Library, "In Good Faith:Sedition Law in Australia", 23 August 2010]

It appears that NSW Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade & Liberal MP for Monaro, John Barilaro, is unhappy with journalists having an opinion about the mining industry, state government agencies or the region in which they live and work......

There were two articles published online by The Singleton Argus on 22 October 2019 which dealt with the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption's current review of lobbying activities, access and influence in this state.

The first was a local news article and the second an opinion piece by the same journalist on the same subject.

It was this second piece which is the allegedly "seditious" item that either the Deputy-Premier or his staff apparently decided included content intended to incite violence, public disorder or a public offence:
"Here we go again - the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is hearing evidence about mining approvals - what, haven't we learnt our lessons from the Doyles Creek and Mt Penny inquiries all those years ago?
This time ICAC's Operation Eclipse is not investigating actual corrupt conduct by individuals but rather it is seeking' to examine particular aspects of lobbying activities and the corruption risks involved in the lobbying of public authorities and officials.'
At the same time as ICAC is seeking information about the influence of lobbying on government decision making Planning Minister Rob Stokes announced the terms of reference for the review into the operations of the Independent Planning Commission.
Included in the terms of reference is a question about whether the IPC should exist at all.
Scary when one considers that the former ICAC commissioner David Ipp, QC was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald saying such a move was 'a recipe for corruption'.
The more things change the more they stay the same it would appear when it comes to planning state significant mining projects in NSW.
As an invited witness to this week's Operation Eclipse hearings NSW Minerals Council, chief executive officer Stephen Galilee voiced his strong opinions about the current state of mine approvals in NSW.
He is not happy that Bylong Coal Project was refused, that Dartbrook Underground was only half approved and that United Wambo and Rix's Creek were approved but it took too long so he was still very unhappy.
Mr Galilee is welcome is hold these opinions he works to promote mineral extraction in NSW but his opinions should not over ride due process.
We have seen what happens when mining licences are granted behind closed doors, people made millions often corruptly and the community is treated poorly or not considered at all.
No way should we go back to the bad old days in mine approvals.
We should be planning for our future where we have clean air to breath and new industries for our current mining workforce.
Instead of wasting time and money on the IPC review lets get started with planning for a just transition for our region.
The longer we put off the inevitable transition the harder it will hit our region - want to be part of that Mr Galilee?"

For the life of me I cannot see this as a journalistic call for citizens to man the barricades armed to the teeth and ready to do violence.

Perhaps in the future whichever of the Deputy-Premier's minions crafted that particular email should pause, open a dictionary and a copy of the Crimes Act before choosing his adjectives.

Then when he next rushes to the defence of his minister's 'mates' he won't rashly accuse a journalist of a grave unlawful act.

'as long as the various sedition offences remain, governments will inevitably be tempted to use them improperly, especially when highly unpopular opinions are expressed' [Sydney Law Review,  (1992) Maher, L.W.,"The Use and Abuse of Sedition"]

Australian Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction & Liberal MP for Hume Angus Taylor is not having a good year

The Guardian, 26 October 2019:

Clover Moore rejects Angus Taylor's explanation of document he used to attack her............ Sydney’s lord mayor has categorically rejected Angus Taylor’s version of how he came to rely on 
inaccurate figures of the council’s travel spending to attack her, saying “there were no alternative versions of the document” on 
the council’s website at any time.

from Labor(RMIT ABC Fact Check), 24 October 2019

The Guardian at 4:05pm on 24 October 2019 reported that Labor will refer the matter of the alleged false documents used by Minister for Energy Angus Taylor to the police under Sect 253 of the Crimes Act 1900 if the federal government doesn't do so within 24 hours.

The Guardian, 23 October 2019:

Angus Taylor baselessly accused Sydney’s lord mayor of driving
up carbon emissions by spending $15m on travel, a claim that was 
later backed up with a doctored council document provided to the 
Daily Telegraph, which reported the figure.

On 30 September, the Telegraph reported on page three that the 
“City of Sydney Council’s outlay on flights outstrips that of 
Australia’s foreign ministers”.
The story quoted a letter sent by Taylor to the mayor, Clover 
Moore, saying the council’s annual report for 2017-18 “shows 
your council spent $1.7m on international travel and $14.2m 
on domestic travel”, contrasting the spending with Moore’s 
declaration of a climate emergency in June.
City of Sydney’s publicly available annual report shows 
councillors spent $1,727.77 on overseas travel and $4,206.32 
on domestic travel. 

In total, the council spent $229,000 on travel during 2017-18, 

under its $300,000 budget.After the story was published, Moore
vigorously disputed the figures on Twitter. In subsequent emails 
between the Telegraph and Moore’s office, the paper justified the 
figures using a document supplied by Taylor’s office, purporting 
to be the council’s annual report.
But the document provided to the Telegraph shows wildly different 
figures, which appeared in a strange format unlike the one used 
elsewhere in the annual report.

It is unclear who altered the document. There is no suggestion 
that Taylor himself was responsible.
The council is adamant that it did not alter the figures. It said it 
had checked the metadata to establish that the report had not 
been changed on its website since being posted in November 
The Guardian, 24 August 2019:

Angus Taylor did not declare at a meeting with environment 
officials about critically endangered grasslands that he had 
financial interest in a company that was under investigation 
for poisoning them.
And no notes were taken by the senior department official 
who attended the meeting in 2017, a Senate committee has
Officials from the environment and energy department gave 
the evidence at a special hearing of the Senate’s inquiry into 
the extinction crisis on Friday....
ABC News, 20 August 2019:
New figures show Australia's carbon emissions are continuing 
to climb despite Federal Government assurances it has the 
policy framework to address climate change.
In the year to March, emissions rose 0.6 per cent on the previous 
year, according to data released by Energy and Emissions 
Reduction Minister Angus Taylor......
The Guardian, 2 May 2019:
The energy minister, Angus Taylor, has denied he played a role 
in structuring the company which received an $80m government 
buyback of its water rights through the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
Taylor, who was a director of Eastern Australia Agriculture between 
2008 and 2009 and who described himself as a co-founder of the 
company, told ABC Radio National on Thursday morning he was 
involved only in advising on the agricultural side of the investment.
He said he severed all involvement in the company prior to being 
elected to parliament.
EAA was paid $80m for its overland flow water rights without 
tender in 2017 when Barnaby Joyce was agriculture minister......