Saturday 30 November 2019

When a frontpage montage goes horribly wrong

The Daily Examiner, Page One, 28 November 2019

Ghostly onlookers to an unfolding environmental and societal disaster - transparent bodies and a missing head turns this unacknowledged montage into a mockery of the current emergency.

Cartoons of the Week

David Rowe

Friday 29 November 2019

Morrison Government's union busting 'Ensuring Integrity Bill' defeated in the Senate

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's pride and joy, the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019, intended to weaken and perhaps even destroy registered unions in Australia was negatived in Committee of the Whole by the Senate.

The vote was tied at 34-all, with One Nation's two senators along with Senator Jacqui Lambie voting with the Greens and Labor.

It took 147 days for political commonsense to prevail but on 28 November 2019 the Senate politely told the prime minister and his hard right cronies where to go.

Another bill Morrison is reportedly hoping to pass before the parliamentary Christmas break is the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 which removes provisions for asylum seeker detainee medical transfers to Australia from Manus Island and Nauru ('medevac').


Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), media release, 26 November 2019:

In a blow to the Morrison Government’s arguments for the Ensuring Integrity Bill currently before the senate the Federal Court has ruled the union regulator, the Register Organisations Commission (ROC) investigation into the AWU was invalid. 

Justice Bromberg has ruled that the ROC did not have grounds to order an AFP raid on the offices of the AWU and has ordered the return of the documents that were seized on behalf of the regulator in their first act after being established by the Liberal Government in 2017. 

The decision comes as the Morrison Government attempts to pass the Ensuring Integrity Bill in the Senate which would give the ROC the extreme power to determine which unions are deregistered and which officials are disqualified under the dangerous and hypocritical new union-busting law. 

Under the EI Bill the ROC would have the power to begin deregistration proceedings against a union which had made a handful of paperwork mistakes over a period of 10 years. 

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil: 

“The Morrison government has been telling Senators that the ROC is an impartial body which can administer the extraordinary powers granted under EI. The Federal Court has just found it conducted an illegal raid on a union office. 

“Giving union busters more power to drag unions into courts over minor paperwork breaches, some that would only cost a company an $80 fine, Will cost members and the taxpayer millions in legal fees. This is before accounting for the cost of not being able to campaign for higher wages, better working conditions and safer workplaces. 

“To defend themselves from the ROC’s harrassment the AWU was forced to expending significant resources over two years to get justice. If the Ensuring Integrity Bill passes, all unions could face this harrassment over paperwork breaches. 

“Questions also need to be asked of the ROC who is continuing to waste tax payer’s money to challenge this finding. “This ruling gives the crossbench senators a stark example of how the Morrison government targets unions and will stop at nothing to try and bust unions. Ensuring Integrity will become another tool for union busters and should be rejected. 

“The Federal Court decision is a vindication for the AWU but also a warning for the Senate crossbench who weighing amendments which would give this discredited body even more power.”


On 20 October 2017, Mr Chris Enright, the Executive Director of the Registered Organisation Commission (ROC) and a delegate of the Commissioner decided to conduct an investigation.

Judgment in Australian Workers’ Union v Registered Organisations Commissioner (No 9) [2019] FCA 1671 was delivered on 11 October 2019. The judgment concluded that; "the decision to conduct an investigation as to whether ss 285(1), 286(1) and 287(1) of the RO Act had been contravened was affected by jurisdictional error and is invalid."

Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019 was introduced by the Morrison Coaltion Government in July 2019 and was currently before the Senate for the second reading debate when the ACTU penned the aforementioned media release.

*Images of ROC document come from the published Federal Court judgment.


The Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019  is apparently scheduled for a second reading before 5 December 2019.

This bill removes provisions in Schedule 6 of the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019These provisions (commonly referred to as the medical transfer, or medevac, provisions) established a framework for the transfer of transitory persons from regional processing countries to Australia for the purpose of medical treatment or assessment. The Bill also amends the Migration Act to allow for the removal of people brought to Australia under the medical transfer provisions back to a regional processing country once they no longer need to be in Australia.

On 27 November 2019 a nonconforming petition was tabled in the Senate asking for medevac provisions to be saved. It contains 51,299 signatures.

On the same day Professor David Isaacs, Clinical Professor, Paediatrics & Child Health, Fellow, Royal Australasian College of Physicians was joined by doctors in Canberra urging senators to reject the medevac repeal bill. Professor Isaacs carried an open letter signed by 5,040 doctors urging Senator Jacqui Lambie to save medevac.

Another year, another global greenhouse gas emissions record

Australia as the 15th highest greenhouse gas emitter in absolute terms - and the highest in per capita terms among developed countries - contributed to rising emissions in the report below.

World Meteorologocal Organisation, Global Atmosphere Watch, WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin: The State of Greenhouse Gases in the AtmosphereBased on Global Observations through 2018, excerpt, 25 November 2019:

The latest analysis of observations from the WMO GAW Programme shows that globally averaged surface mole fractions(1) calculated from this in-situ network for carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2018, with CO2 at 407.8±0.1 ppm(2), CH4 at 1869±2 ppb(3) and N2O at 331.1±0.1 ppb. 

These values represent, respectively, 147%, 259% and 123% of pre-industrial (before 1750) levels. 

The increase in CO2 from 2017 to 2018 was very close to that observed from 2016 to 2017, and practically equal to the average yearly increase over the last decade. 

For CH4, the increase from 2017 to 2018 was higher than both that observed from 2016 to 2017 and the average over the last decade. 

For N2O, the increase from 2017 to 2018 was also higher than that observed from 2016 to 2017 and the average growth rate over the past 10 years. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) [9] shows that from 1990 to 2018 radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases (LLGHGs) increased by 43%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase.

Thursday 28 November 2019

NSW Police investigating Australian Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction & Liberal MP for Hume Angus Talyor's use of an apparently fraudulent document

SBS News, 26 November 2019:


NSW Police has opened an investigation into an apparently fraudulent document used by federal energy minister Angus Taylor to attack Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore over her council's travel expenditure.
A spokesperson for the Lord Mayor confirmed that "the Office of the Lord Mayor has been contacted by NSW Police regarding its investigation into falsified City documents used to inform Minister Taylor's correspondence with the Lord Mayor. The City will fully cooperate with the police investigation."
NSW Police confirmed that an investigation is underway, telling SBS that "the NSW Police Force is in the early stages of investigating information into the reported creation of fraudulent documentation."
"Detectives from the State Crime Command's Financial Crimes Squad have launched Strike Force Garrad to investigate the matters and determine if any criminal offences have been committed. As investigations are ongoing, no further information is available."
Controversy over the document in question began in September when the Daily Telegraph reported that the City of Sydney Council spent more on domestic and international flights than Australia's foreign ministers.
The story quoted from a letter sent by Mr Taylor to Clover Moore, which claimed that the City of Sydney's 2017-18 annual report "shows your council spent $1.7m on international travel and $14.2m on domestic travel".
These figures differed significantly from the council's publicly available annual report, which reported spending of $4,206.32 on domestic travel and $1,727.77 on international travel.
In emails to Ms Moore's office obtained by The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph said the figures in its story were drawn from a copy of the City of Sydney's annual report provided to the newspaper by Mr Taylor's office.
In Parliament, Mr Taylor has repeatedly claimed that the document in question was "drawn directly from the City of Sydney's website" and was "publicly available".
Mr Taylor has since refused to answer questions about the document......

Greg Jericho: “Those wanting to appear reasonable and balanced are actually condemning us to inaction on the climate crisis”

Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison's inability to face the reality that climate change has well and truly arrived and, that the Liberal-Nationals response has been alarmingly inadequate for the last four years under not one but three Liberal Party prime ministers, means that newspaper opinion pieces such as the one below are going to continue to make it into print.   

The Guardian, 24 October 2019:

There is an invidious strain of centrism in Australian media and politics that is one of the most powerful forces against effective action on climate change.

It is a strain that has become more virulent in response to protests by Extinction Rebellion and the raised voices of those who care not to genuflect to the systems that have led us to the current crisis.

It is a strain that conservatives use to their advantage.

Two weeks ago, as New South Wales and parts of Queensland burned, the prime minister was at pains to argue that now was not the time to talk about climate change.

And the centrists agreed.

This week Scott Morrison was ready to talk about climate change and he had the script all prepared.

Morrison told the ABC’s Sabra Lane that “the suggestion that any way, shape or form with Australia accountable for 1.3% of the world’s emissions, that the individual actions of Australia are impacting directly on specific fire events, whether it’s here or anywhere else in the world, that doesn’t bear up to credible scientific evidence either”.

It’s a line straight out of the climate-change denial playbook.

No one is suggesting if we had a price on carbon there would be fewer bushfires, or it alone would significantly reduce global temperatures, but that does not mean Australia cannot make a difference.

Only on climate change do you ever hear conservatives argue we are powerless. Our economy is only around 1.5% of the world’s total GDP and yet we have no qualms in going to the G20 every year and pushing our agenda.

But on climate change? Sorry, we are impotent.

Except we’re not.

We are the 15th biggest emitter in the world, the biggest on a per capita basis among advanced economies. We have massive power, because we are wealthy enough to show what can be done. If we do nothing, it becomes a strong reason for anyone who emits less than us either in total or per capita to do the same.

And the problem is we are using what power we have to obstruct action on climate change.

Morrison argued that “if anything, Australia is an overachiever on our commitments, on global commitments, and for 2030, we will meet those as well with the mechanisms that we’ve put in place and we’ll ensure we do achieve that”.

What utter tosh.

Our Kyoto commitment is based on the dodgy counting of land use; and our commitment to Paris targets doubles down on that dodginess by using carry-over credits from the Kyoto target – something nations such as the UK are now fighting hard to have removed.

Our target is also well below what scientists say is needed to keep temperature rises below 1.5C.

Thirteen months ago the UN issued a report that concluded we have 12 years to do something to limit climate change, after which it will be too late to keep the rise in temperatures below 1.5C.

The science has not changed in that time; all that has is we now have only 11 years.

But this week it was reported that fossil fuel production by 2030 is set to be double that which is needed to keep temperature rises below 1.5C.

We are failing, and Australia’s own policy is ensuring that failure will continue.

But heck, pointing that out will seem biased, and so the centrist looks for a chance to appear balanced…..

Not all extremism is equal and no force of social or economic change happened due to people refusing to make waves. It happened because people were prepared to go to prison, be attacked, and seek to disrupt those who would go about their lives ignoring the issue.

Centrists love the final vote that sees change occur – where politicians from both sides sit together and agree; they care only in retrospect for the work, suffering and effort over decades that leads to that change.

And they ignore that throughout those decades, the powerful in the media and politics actively prevented change occurring by spending more time calling for calm and reason than noting reality.

And so long as powerful journalists believe that arguments are worthy purely because they call for a middle ground, then ever will they be a force that prevents effective action on climate change.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

North Coast, Mid-North Coast and Northern Tablelands to have access to over $48 million for bushfire recovery, including grants of up to $15,000 each for eligible farmers

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Joint media release with the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, Hon John Barilaro MP, and Hon David Elliott MP – Community recovery package for farmers, small businesses and non-profit organisations in NSW communities hit by bushfires

  • $48.25 million North Coast, Mid North Coast and Northern Tableland recovery package
  • This includes $18.25 million for Community Recovery Fund for community projects and mental health
  • Recovery grants of up to $15,000 for farmers and small businesses
Farmers and small businesses on the North Coast, Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands that were hit by the recent NSW bushfires can now access recovery grants of up to $15,000.

Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the $15,000 grants would help bushfire affected communities get back to doing what they do best.
“Getting back to business is one of the best ways to bounce back,” Minister Littleproud said.
“This will make sure businesses can open and people are back to work sooner.
“When money flows around a community it can help to speed up the whole recovery.
“An $18.25 million Community Recovery Fund has also been set up for targeted community project grants and mental health support.
“The mental toll on the community, volunteers and emergency service staff can linger long after the fires and they will need ongoing support.
“In addition the targeted grants will be available for projects that help with the recovery and improve disaster resilience.”
Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian said that the assistance package is a commitment from both governments to not only assist the long term recovery effort of bushfire affected communities, but also the farming and business sectors by making available recovery grants of up to $15,000 to eligible primary producers and small businesses.
“The impact to communities has been evident over the last few weeks, however the extent of the impact to our farming and business sectors has not been fully quantified as these bushfires continue to burn.
“We also know the emotional impact a disaster like this can have on communities which is why we are committing $4.05 million to mental health services,” Premier Berejiklian said.

New South Wales Deputy Premier, John Barilaro said regional New South Wales is going through a difficult time with the drought biting hard and ferocious bushfires across the state.

“This funding is an important step towards helping communities recover and we will do everything we can to help regional families rebuild for the long run,” Mr Barilaro said.
New South Wales Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott said the State and Federal Governments are working together to help communities impacted by the recent bushfires get back on their feet as soon as possible.
“The Community Recovery Fund and the recovery grants will be targeted across three regions that have been identified as the worst affected,” Minister Elliott said.
Assistance is being provided through the joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

To apply for a recovery grant, primary producers and small businesses should contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit [my yellow highlighting]

Recovery grants are available in these local government areas: 
Armidale, Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Mid-Coast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Tweed and Walcha.

Eligibility to apply for grants can be checked here.

Farmers are obviously not happy with these disaster recovery funding arrangements.....

ABCNews, 25 November 2019:

Farmers say a joint New South Wales and Federal government bushfire recovery package is a fraction of what will be needed to recover from what they say resembles a war zone....

The NSW Farmers Association CEO Peter Arkle said the bushfires have destroyed about 26,000 kilometres of fencing and that repair bill alone was estimated at about $300 million.

"The scale of this recovery task is immense and so we'll be looking to all levels of government to continue to support farmers and regional businesses to take on what will be a mammoth recovery task."

Beef and soybean producers David and Carolyn Duff had 30 year's worth of infrastructure destroyed at their "Toorooka" property west of Kempsey on the Mid North Coast.

"I suppose we're grateful for any assistance that we get initially and the sooner we can access the money the better off for us personally," Mr Duff said.

"But really in the scheme of things I mean the $15,000 to our business is going to be only a drop in the big bucket.

"We're faced with a boundary fence, replacement cost of up $220,000 — that's a rough guess.

"Fifteen thousand dollars will only replace 1 kilometre of 17 kilometres that we've estimated that we've lost, and there's probably 80 per cent of it totally wiped out.

"There may be 20 per cent of it that we can resurrect, patch up but that's not counting infrastructure, fences, yards, sheds and all that sort of thing."

The couple estimated their business has suffered an overall loss of up to $1.2 million on the property.

"I mean we lost 60 head of cattle which had to be euthanased by the LLS [Local Land Services]," Mr Duff said.

"It was very sad and it was very traumatic, our cattle are our livelihood and as any beef producer knows he hates to lose one let alone that many all at once.

"I don't think that Canberra really gets the enormity of the devastation and the effect that it has had on people like us — grassroots mum and dad and the kids — cattle people."....

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposing he convene an emergency Council of Australian Governments meeting to examine Australia's preparedness for natural disasters given the November bushfires killed four people and destroyed hundreds of homes

The Australian, 25 November 2019, p.4:

Anthony Albanese has written to Scott Morrison proposing he convene an emergency Council of Australian Governments meeting to examine Australia’s preparedness for natural disasters given the bushfires that killed four people and destroyed hundreds of homes.

The Opposition Leader has requested that the meeting addresses issues including an action plan for climate change adaptation and greater investment in research on natural disaster response, recovery and mitigation.

Other issues flagged for debate include the development of a new national strategy for disaster preparedness, adequate funding for emergency services and national park services, an expansion of the capacity of Australia’s National Aerial Firefighting Centre as well as better measures to attract and retain volunteers.
Mr Albanese said the response needed to be led by the federal government and argued the effects of climate change meant Australia was now in “uncharted territory.” “Emergency leaders, including former fire chiefs, are telling us the scale of these bushfires is unprecedented. The fire season is starting earlier and finishing later, and emergency leaders agree that extreme weather events in Australia will only increase in severity and frequency, due to climate change,” Mr Albanese said.

“In my view, these circumstances require us, as leaders, to re-examine our nation’s preparedness for natural disasters. To facilitate that, I request that you call an urgent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, including state and local government leaders to firm up Australia’s natural disaster preparedness.” Mr Albanese tweeted a copy of his letter saying that climate change would mean “longer and more intense bushfire seasons.”......

Tuesday 26 November 2019

By 23 November at least 50 women had been murdered in Australia in 2019

Berejiklian Government attempts to stall parliamentary inquiry into rules & regulations governing coal seam gas?

The Northern Leader, 22 November 2019:

A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry in to the rules and regulations around coal seam gas had to be postponed when, in an unprecedented move, government departments refused to allow public servants to appear before the committee.

Spearheaded by independent politician Justin Field, the committee is investigating if the state government has implemented the recommendations made by NSW Chief Scientist five years ago, to ensure the CSG industry operates safely. However, the committee found itself in uncharted waters, as witnesses from a government agency have never refused a request to appear before a parliamentary inquiry, and were forced to postpone it.

The witnesses, mostly from the various agencies under the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), were re-invited and warned further powers such as summons could be used.

The Leader understands most have agreed to appear and the hearing has been rescheduled for December 3. Mr Field said the government's written submission claimed it had responded to 14 out of 16 recommendations, however many other submissions suggested otherwise.

"It is essential that key officials front the inquiry so the committee can interrogate the government's claims on behalf of all those in the community who are concerned," Mr Field said......

An inquiry titled "The implementation of the recommendations contained in the NSW Chief Scientist's Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in New South Wales" was self-referred to Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No.4 - Industry on 3 October 2019.

The Inquiry's terms of reference can be found here.

Lock The Gate, 15 October 2019:
Deputy Premier admits CSG review recommendations ignored

The NSW Government has admitted it ignored a major recommendation from the Chief Scientist’s Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in New South Wales.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro made the admission during Senate Estimates, throwing doubt on the state’s regulatory framework for the damaging and highly controversial industry.

The revelation that the government does not intend to create the state-specific Standing Expert Body as recommended by the Chief Scientist comes as an assessment is being finalised for Santos’ controversial 850 well coal seam gasfield proposal at Narrabri. 

The Chief Scientist recommended the Standing Expert Body in order to monitor, inform and review the impacts of the CSG industry. 
Instead, the Deputy Premier cited the Commonwealth’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC), a body that was already in existence when the recommendation was made, and which does not have the functions or capacities the Chief Scientist identified as necessary to safeguard New South Wales from coal seam gas risks. 

Mr Barilaro said, “The government decided to continue working closely with the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development rather than to establish a duplicate expert body in NSW." (see the top of page 96 in this doc)

The revelation also comes as a parliamentary inquiry begins to examine the Government’s implementation of the recommendations from the five-year-old review.

NSW Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said “The Government relies on the Chief Scientist’s review to claim coal seam gas can be safely managed in New South Wales, but now admits it has ignored one of the key recommendations of that review. 

“Without the Standing Expert Body that was recommended, independent oversight and safeguards to protect the groundwater that drought-affected communities rely on for their existence just aren’t there. 

“This is a big admission, particularly as the controversial and deeply unpopular Santos Narrabri gas field is expected to be referred to the Independent Planning Commission any day now. 

“The NSW Government has admitted its coal seam gas regulations are incomplete. The coal seam gasfield in the Narrabri area must not be allowed to proceed.
“Lock the Gate Alliance calls on the Berejiklian Government to immediately establish the  Standing Expert Body on coal seam gas developments recommended by the Chief Scientist."


The functions of the authority recommended by the Chief Scientist are very different to that of the IESC and were to be to advise the NSW Government:
  • on the overall impact of CSG in NSW through a published Annual Statement which would draw on a detailed analysis of the data held in the Whole-of-Environment Data Repository to assess impacts,
  •  particularly cumulative impacts, at project, regional and sedimentary basin scales;
  • on processes for characterising and modelling the sedimentary basins of NSW 
  • on updating and refining the Risk Management and Prediction Tool;
  • on the implications of CSG impacts in NSW for planning where CSG activity is permitted to occur in the state;
  • on new science and technology developments relevant to managing CSG and when and whether these developments are sufficiently mature to be incorporated into its legislative and regulatory system;
  • on specific research that needs to be commissioned regarding CSG matters;
  • on how best to work with research and public sector bodies across Australia and internationally and with the private sector on joint research and harmonised approaches to data collection, modelling and scale issues such as subsidence;
  • on whether or not other unconventional gas extraction (shale gas, tight gas) industries should be allowed to proceed in NSW and, if so, under what conditions.