Showing posts with label Liberal Party of Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liberal Party of Australia. Show all posts

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Quotes of the Week


"We pursue the most vulnerable people with more energy than we pursue corporations."  [Christine Craik , Australian Association of Social Workers, The Canberra Times, 9 October 2019]

"WaterNSW has responsibility for water licensing, approvals, trading and establishing priorities for water management in the Murray Darling Basin and yet not one of the Ministerial appointed board, has any background or experience in rural NSW or represents the interests of rural water suppliers. Clearly there is a need for change and those who are in charge of WaterNSW need to be more attuned to the needs of river communities and the importance of rules for water management that reflect the importance of maintaining town and country water supplies.” Brewarrina Shire Council, at NSW Local Government Conference, October 2019]

In Australia, the only thing as certain as drought is the subsequent calls by politicians to build new dams.” [ The Australia Institute Senior Water Researcher Maryanne Slattery, writing in The Guardian, 15 October 2019]

Monday, 14 October 2019

What if privatisation of Centrelink pension/benefit/allowance cash transfer delivery ends in tears?


It is increasingly evident that Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison eventually intends to place all Centrelink clients on the Indue Limited Cashless Debit Card.

Apparently this policy change comes under the heading of either 'tough love' or 'compassionate conservatism' - whichever term Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators think sounds good at the time - when in reality it is establishing yet another market for poverty profiteers*.

In all the pious and poisonous spin being uttered by those making war on the poor and vulnerable, there has been little said about any government guarantee covering the millions Centrelink regularly deposits with Indue Limited.

What happens to the mandated 80 per cent of a Centrelink client's welfare payment held on the Cashless Debit Card if Indue ceases to trade, trades while insolvent or is placed under administration? 

How many corporate debtors would take precedence over welfare recipients in the distribution of whatever assets Indue had left if it declares bankruptcy?

Would sole parents, the unemployed, students, disability and age pensioners or other recipients ever get back any of the money which has been forcibly retained on these debit cards?

Notes

* See: Bielefeld, Dr. S, Griffith University Law School (2018), Technologising the poor: Cashless Debit Card trials expanding despite no credible evidence regarding positive outcomes  

Friday, 11 October 2019

Seems no-one is really happy with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's religious freedom bills


Armed with what appeared to be a sense of personal righteousness, in August 2019 Australian Prime Minister, Liberal MP for Cook and self-proclaimed man willing to "burn" for Australia, Scott John Morrison, released a draft Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 along with the Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019 and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2019.

Not everyone is happy with the contents of these bills.

For the institutional religions the bills do not go far enough. While for legal academics, industry bodies and human rights agencies these bills go too far. 

This is a selection of views publicly expressed.......

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2019: 

Australia's Catholic Church says the federal government's draft religious discrimination laws are "problematic" and require major changes to avoid unwanted "lawfare" and ensure religious bodies keep their ability to hire and fire at will. 

The demands from the country's largest church increase the pressure on Attorney-General Christian Porter to go back to the drawing board on a process that started with 2017's religious freedom review by Philip Ruddock. 

In particular, the Catholic Church wants special rights for religious schools to extend to religious hospitals and aged-care facilities, as well as an explicit override of state anti-discrimination laws. 

And despite the special rules for schools, the peak Catholic school body complained the draft law still "does not provide our schools with the flexibility they require" to ensure staff and students adhere to the tenets of their faith. 

The head of the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC), former Labor senator Jacinta Collins, said Australia's 1750 Catholic schools must retain their legal right to hire and fire - and accept students - based on how well a person fit into "the ethos" of the school. That included whether someone was baptised as Catholic, or whether they had undermined the tenets of the faith by publicly entering a same-sex relationship or marriage. 

In a 27-page submission to the government on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli said the laws "require some significant amendment" to properly assist people of faith. 

He stressed religious hospitals and aged-care facilities "must" be included as religious bodies and enjoy the same hiring and firing rights as religious schools, with the Catholic Church the largest non-government provider of healthcare services in Australia. 

The Age, 4 October 2019: 

Religious believers could be free to publicly shame rape survivors under the federal government’s proposed “religious freedom” laws, Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner has warned. 

Commissioner Kristen Hilton also noted an unmarried woman would be powerless to seek redress if a doctor told her she was “sinful and dirty” for requesting contraception on the basis of a religious conviction. 

The commissioner has warned federal Attorney-General Christian Porter that his proposed new laws, which the government says are designed to protect the rights of people of faith to express their religious views, risks trampling on the human rights of other Australians…… 

Ms Hilton writes in her submission that the religious freedom laws might allow a worker in a health service to go on social media in their own time and denigrate the homosexuality of sexual abuse survivors. 

Another concern for the commissioner is the potential under the proposed laws that a private business or religious group could demand the right to provide sexual health education in government schools and tell children that homosexuality is an illness and that the use of contraceptives is a sin. 

A clause in the draft bill stating that expressions of belief should be protected from anti-discrimination laws could have the effect, Ms Hilton wrote, of "emboldening some people to characterise survivors of sexual assault or rape as being blame-worthy for not being sufficiently modest or chaste."….. 

“But religious expression needs to be balanced against other rights, such as the right to be free from discrimination,” the Commissioner wrote. 

“This bill does not get the balance right. 

“By privileging religious expression, the rights of other people are diminished."  

The Guardian, 4 October 2019: 

Legal academics and the Diversity Council have warned that the Coalition’s proposed religious discrimination bill is unworkable for employers and will thwart policies designed to create safe and inclusive workplaces. 

In a joint submission, the academics warn the bill’s proposed ban on workplace policies regulating religious speech would leave employers in the invidious position of having a duty under occupational health and safety laws to create safe workplaces, but being restrained in their ability to prevent bullying. 

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned the bill does not properly define religion, meaning that Indigenous spirituality could be excluded by the common law definition while “esoteric or emerging religions” are protected. 

The draft bill would prevent employers from having codes of conduct that ban religious speech in the workplace or on social media, on the grounds that such a ban would indirectly discriminate on the grounds of religion. The provision exempts large employers only if they can show they would suffer “unjustifiable financial hardship” without the rule. 

The academics’ submission – coordinated by Liam Elphick and Alice Taylor and signed by Professors Beth Gaze, Simon Rice and Margaret Thornton – noted the effect of the section is that religious speech “would have greater protection from employer intervention than any other statement or expression”. 

For example, an employer with a code of conduct banning employees from publicly engaging in controversial political debates would not be able to impose the rule on a religious employee who wanted to oppose marriage equality. A gay employee, however, would be restricted from publicly supporting it. 

“There are also workability issues in how an employer can factually prove that a conduct rule is ‘necessary’ to avoid unjustifiable financial hardship, considering the very high standard required to prove necessity,” the academics said. 

The academics warned the clause exempting religious speech from federal, state and territory discrimination protections would create an “unworkable situation for businesses in regard to employment”. 

“Work health and safety laws impose a positive duty on employers to prevent bullying, and discrimination laws require businesses to provide their services free from discrimination, yet [the exemption] would authorise bullying and discrimination,” they wrote. 

The Australian, 1 October 2019: 

The Anglican Church says the Morrison government’s draft religious discrimination bill contains problems “so serious” it cannot support it in its current form, warning that some groups like Anglicare and Anglican Youthworks may not be protected. 

In its submission to the government, the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney outlined seven issues to be addressed and called on Attorney-General Christian Porter to expedite the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into laws that impact on religious freedoms. 

Under clause 10, religious bodies “may act in accordance with their faith” and do not discriminate against a person if their conduct may reasonably be regarded as in accordance with their doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings. A religious body that “engages solely or primarily in commercial activities” is excluded. 

Bishop Stead said the explanatory memorandum made it clear religious hospitals and religious aged-care providers would not be considered religious bodies. 

Anglican Youthworks, which charges fees to run “Christian Outdoor Education” programs, could also be disqualified because it engaged in commercial activity.While commending the bill, Bishop Stead said the clause might have a perverse effect. 

The Guardian, 30 September 2019: 

Key provisions of the religious discrimination bill may be unconstitutional because they allow medical practitioners to refuse treatment, and privilege statements of religious belief, an academic has warned. 

Luke Beck, a constitutional and religious freedom expert at Monash University, warned the Coalition’s exposure draft bill may be incompatible with international law and therefore not supported by the external affairs power in the constitution. 

The submission echoes concerns from the Australian Human Rights Commission and Public Interest Advocacy Centre that the bill will licence discriminatory statements about race, sexual orientation and disability on the grounds of religion, and that it privileges religion over other rights. 

What is the religious discrimination bill and what will it do? Read more The bill has been criticised for overriding state and federal discrimination law, including section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits speech that offends, insults or humiliates people based on race. 

Beck argued the bill provided a “bigger sword” to religious people’s statements of belief than those of non-religious people. Statements of belief can be made “on any topic whatsoever” provided they “may reasonably be regarded” as in accordance with a person’s religious beliefs. 

By contrast, statements of non-belief must deal only with the topic of religion and “arise directly” from the fact the person does not hold a religious belief, the associate professor said.  

Freedom For Faith, undated submission:

The overwhelming concern of faith-based organisations across the country with whom we have spoken is about the effect of the Bill on their religious mission, with particular reference to their staffing policies, but also in relation to other issues. 

Staffing policies in faith-based institutions 

At a meeting in Sydney with a range of faith leaders a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister promised that the law would not take faith groups backwards in terms of protection of religious freedom. The difficulty is that this Bill does, in relation to staffing of faith-based organisations. The issues are existential ones for many faith-based organisations. If the issues are not resolved, this may lead us to conclude that the Bill is better not being enacted. That said, we have every confidence that the Attorney-General will be able to sort the drafting problems out. 

Currently, at least in some States, it is lawful for faith-based organisations to appoint, or prefer to appoint, adherents of the faith without breaching anti-discrimination laws. So for example, a Catholic school may prefer practising Catholic staff, or at least practising members of other Christian denominations. A Jewish school may prefer Jewish staff, and so on. This is no different to a political party which may choose or prefer staff who support the policies of the party, or an environmental group that wants staff who will believe in its mission. Organisations that exist for a particular purpose or are associated, for example, with a particular ethnic group, need to be able to have staffing policies that reflect their purpose and identity. 

This is not a right to discriminate. It is a right to select. And it is just plain common sense. A Church’s childcare centre is not like the Commonwealth Bank or a shop selling bedroom furniture. The childcare centre is part of the mission and ministry of the Church. If it could not insist on employing Christian staff, or at least having a critical mass of Christian staff, it would cease to be a Christian ministry. 

Many faith-based organisations have a strong preference for staff who are practising adherents to the faith, in order to maintain their religious identity and culture. However, larger organisations typically do not make it an inherent requirement of working there, because they need the flexibility to meet their staffing needs without drawing from too narrow a pool......


Neither of these examples cover situations where there is merely a preference to employ practising Catholics or practising Christians more generally. Furthermore, even if a Catholic school or other charity did have a policy of only employing Catholic staff, it would only be lawful if this could reasonably be regarded as in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs and teachings of Catholicism. That may be a difficult test to satisfy in the eyes of a court. The court may find it hard to see how the Catholic school’s preference in terms of employment may reasonably be regarded as being in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of the religion. The school, however, may take the view that it is a necessary implication of their doctrines that they want to maintain a Catholic ethos by having a “critical mass” of believing staff. Whether or not this policy does flow from religious doctrines – it is really about the purpose of having a Catholic school – it would be best if the legislation made it clear that such a policy was not unlawful.

Christian Schools Australia, undated:

In conjunction with the release of this package of Bills the Government narrowed the Term of Reference of the referral to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) of the other aspect of the response to the Religious Freedom Review of interest to Christian schools and deferred the timetable for this review. 

While the substance of the ALRC review remains the same it will now do so in the light of the proposed legislation circulated last week. Rather than releasing a Discussion Paper next week it will now release a discussion paper “in early 2020” with the reporting deadline to Government pushed back from April 2020 to 12 December 2020. Although claimed to “reduce confusion for stakeholders” the amended timeline will require the Religious Discrimination Bill and associated legislation to be finalised BEFORE the discussion paper on proposed amendment to the existing amendments are released. 

CSA is concerned that this will not allow appropriate consultation on the complete package of reforms affecting Christian and other faith-based schools. 

We have raised this with the Attorney-General’s office and will continue to advocate for a more coordinated response to both aspects of the whole package.

Australian Human Rights Commission, 27 September 2019: 

However, the Commission is concerned that, in other respects, the Bill would provide protection to religious belief or activity at the expense of other rights. The Bill also includes a number of unique provisions that have no counterpart in other anti-discrimination laws and appear to be designed to address high-profile individual cases. As a matter of principle, the Commission considers that this is not good legislative practice. As a matter of substance, the Commission considers that this may lead to unintended and undesirable consequences. 

The Commission’s main concerns regarding the Bill are as follows. 

First, the scope of the Bill is overly broad in defining who may be a victim of religious discrimination and, arguably, too narrow in defining who may be found to have engaged in religious discrimination. 

Unlike all other Commonwealth discrimination laws, which focus on the rights of natural persons (that is, humans) to be free from discrimination, the Bill provides that claims of religious discrimination may be made by corporations including religious institutions, religious schools, religious charities and religious businesses. This is a significant departure from domestic and international human rights laws which protect only the rights of natural persons. 

At the same time, the Bill provides that ‘religious bodies’—including religious schools, religious charities and other religious bodies—are entirely exempt from engaging in religious discrimination if the discrimination is in good faith and in accordance with their religious doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings. This is a wide exemption that undercuts protections against religious discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment and the provision of goods and services, and requires further close examination. 

Secondly, the Bill provides that ‘statements of belief’ that would otherwise contravene Commonwealth, State or Territory anti-discrimination laws are exempt from the operation of those laws. Discriminatory statements of belief, of the kind described in clause 41 of the Bill, whether they amount to racial discrimination, sex discrimination or discrimination on any other ground prohibited by law, will no longer be unlawful. The Commission considers that this overriding of all other Australian discrimination laws is not warranted, sets a concerning precedent, and is inconsistent with the stated objects of the Bill, which recognise the indivisibility and universality of human rights. Instead, this provision seeks to favour one right over all others. 

Thirdly, the Commission is concerned about two deeming provisions that affect the assessment of whether codes of conduct imposed by large employers on their employees, and rules dealing with conscientious objections by medical practitioners, will be considered to be reasonable. Unlike all other Commonwealth discrimination laws, the Bill prejudges the assessment of reasonableness by deeming some specific kinds of conduct not to be reasonable. This means that, in those cases, not all of the potentially relevant circumstances will be taken into account. 

Fourthly, those deeming provisions also have an impact on the ability of employers to decide who they employ. The Bill provides that employers may not decide that compliance with a code of conduct that extends to conduct outside work hours, or with rules dealing with conscientious objection, are an inherent requirement of employment, if they would be unreasonable under clause 8. This means, for example, that the narrow deeming provisions about what is reasonable for organisations with an annual revenue of more than $50 million also has an impact on the decisions by those employers about the conditions they may set with respect to employment. 

These four issues, and a range of others relating to all three Religious Freedom Bills, are dealt with in more detail in the body of the Commission’s submission. In revising the Bill, attention needs to be paid not only to its text, but also to the eventual Explanatory Memorandum. At several points the current Notes provide examples and explanations that suggest a very limited scope for religious organisations to retain their ethos and identity, and conversely an expansive scope for suppression of free speech. It is difficult to reconcile these Notes, at various points, with government policy as expressed by the Prime Minister and Attorney-General. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan avoids questions about Coalition Government-Indue Limited's punitive cashless debit card for welfare recipients


Clarence Valley Independent, 2 October 2019:

The latest federal budget underwrote $128.8 million over four years, from 2019-20, to fund the trial rollout of the Cashless Debit Card (CDC), including the provision of “funding to expand the Cashless Debit Card to a fifth site”.
Test areas are located in the Ceduna region in South Australia (from March 2016) and the East Kimberley (from April 2016) and Goldfields (from March 2018) regions in Western Australia.
In January this year, a trial commenced in the Bundaberg / Hervey Bay region in Queensland – the Clarence Valley local government area is statistically much the same as Hervey Bay’s, according to the 2016 census, apart from the valley being home to a larger indigenous population.
“This proposal is expected to have a positive impact on regional Australia by reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use, and gambling in communities and providing improved technology for participants subject to welfare quarantining,” the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development website states.
Another Clarence Valley publication recently ran a headline with Page MP Kevin Hogan reportedly saying the implantation of the cashless welfare card is a “no brainer” an described his position as an “impassioned defence” of the CDC.
With the possible rollout of another trial area and the similarity of Clarence Valley LGA’s census data to the Hervey Bay area, the Independent sought Mr Hogan’s thoughts, preparing several questions (with context provided) and putting them in an email, along with an invitation to speak directly about the issue, which Mr Hogan declined.....
Read the full article here.

Australian Home Affairs Minister calls for welfare payments to be stopped for climate change protesters


The six-person protest in Creek Street, Brisbane
Image: Daily Mail
According to an interview with 2GB radio shock jock Ray Hadley, Australian Minister for Home Affairs & Liberal MP for Dickson Peter Dutton is not happy with six climate change protesters belonging to Extinction Rebellion blocking Creek Street, Brisbane, for one hour and forty minutes on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

He also took exception to the fact that the magistrate they appeared before did not record convictions after all six entered guilty pleas.

Of course in the end Dutton sheeted home the blame for this incident to Queensland Labor governments appointing magistrates who were too tolerant of civil disobedience – just as he did in 2016 after Magistrate Trevor Morgan said he would probably be proud if it were his daughter taking part in protest action.

It seems Dutton hasn’t forgotten those protesters who climbed on his electoral office roof in 2016.

The New Daily, 3 October 2019: 

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has called for climate change protesters to be “named and shamed”, jailed and have their welfare payments stopped. 

Warning protesters in Queensland are “putting lives at risk”, Mr Dutton said the fines are not good enough after the activist group Extinction Rebellion caused traffic chaos in Brisbane. 

“The community expectation is that these people are fined or jailed and they should be jailed until their behaviour changes because they are putting lives at risks. They are diverting police and emergency service resources from tasks they should be undertaking otherwise,” Mr Dutton said. 

Speaking on radio 2GB, Mr Dutton was then asked by host Ray Hadley if the protesters should have their welfare payments stopped because they are “bludgers sticking themselves to roads”. 

“Well, I agree, Ray,” he said….. 

Mr Dutton urged people to surveil the protesters and distribute their images. 

“People should take these names and the photos of these people and distribute them as far and wide as they can, so that we shame these people,” Mr Dutton said. 

“They are acting outside of the law. Let their families know what you think of their behaviour.” 

“They keep turning up week after week because a slap on the wrist is just not working.” 

Mr Dutton also called for mandatory sentencing of protesters disrupting traffic and shutting down cities….. 

“But you know raiding farms, climbing on to the roof of my electoral office and then get told by the magistrate he would be proud of her if it his daughter had done it.

The Saturday Paper, 4 October 2019:

A number of Liberal National Party MPs have supported Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s call to strip welfare payments from climate protesters and jail them. Employment Minister Michaelia Cash told The Australian ($): “Taxpayers should not be ­expected to subsidise the protests of others.” Other supporters include ($) Scott Buchholz, the assistant minister for road safety. Their backing comes after Dutton agreed with the 2GB radio host Ray Hadley that welfare payments of climate protesters should be cut and added: “they should be jailed until their behaviour changes”.  The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, told the ABC that Dutton was starting to “sound more like a dictator than he is an elected politician. Because somebody says something that he doesn’t like, that he doesn’t support, he’s saying we’re going to strip away income support.” Some activists have taken leave from their jobs to protest against government inaction on climate change. The Morrison government is also seeking to require Newstart recipients who fail drug tests to use cashless welfare cards.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants parents to muzzle their children in 2019



Yes, that's right. Don't let your children think about the things they are living through during their childhood - increasingly intense floods, hurricanes, drought, bushfires, storm surges, coastline erosion and native animal extinctions. 

Don't let them become politically active by marching and demanding change. Teach them to be good little "Quiet Australians".

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The world is increasingly seeing Australian PM Scott Morrison as running a climate denialist government


When a country is run by rightwing, anti-science, ideological ratbags this is what happens.......

The Guardian, 25 September 2019:

Scott Morrison is increasingly seen as running a “denialist government” that is not serious about finding a global climate solution and uses “greenwash” to meet its emissions commitments, analysts and former diplomats say.
Australian observers in New York said Morrison’s failure to attend a UN climate action summit on Monday despite being in the US, and his apparent rejection of the need for Australia to do more to address its rising greenhouse gas emissions, eroded goodwill for the country on the issue.
While representatives from about 60 nations spoke at the summit, Morrison gave a keynote speech at the Chicago Institute for Global Affairs in which he challenged China to do more heavy lifting on climate change and suggested it should be treated as a “newly developed” economy rather than a developing one.
He said country representatives at the summit were dismissive of Australia’s intentions. Bill Hare, the chief executive and senior scientist of Climate Analytics and a longtime adviser to countries at climate talks, said the UN summit had been “very disappointing” as most larger polluters, including Australia, had failed to meet the secretary general Antonio Guterres’ call to increase commitments, leaving ambitious strides to smaller nations.
“Diplomatic officials from countries that I speak with see Australia as a denialist government,” he said. “It’s just accepted that’s what it is. It is seen as doing its own promotion of coal and natural gas against the science.”
Hare said Morrison’s suggestion China should be doing more on climate, and be treated similarly to the most developed countries, while Australia’s emissions continued to increase year-on-year was a “ridiculous fake argument”.
He said China, the world’s most populous country and biggest annual polluter, was not doing anywhere near enough to tackle the crisis, but was doing more than Australia on many measures. It had national policies in a number of areas – boosting renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and efficiency in industry – where Australia did not.
“Is that having enough of an effect in China? No. But will China peak its emissions by the end of the 2020s? Yes,” Hare said.
“Will Australia? There is no evidence that Australia will peak its emissions as far as I’ve seen in any projections that have been published.”.....
A report backed by the world’s major climate science bodies released on the eve of the summit found current plans would lead to a rise in average global temperatures of between 2.9C and 3.4C by 2100, a shift likely to bring catastrophic change across the globe......

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Meet the Indue Class Warfare Card


Think the Australian Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is not seriously considering a national roll-out of the Indue Cashless Debit Card?

Do you think that living many hundreds of kilometres in any direction from current debit card trial sites proves that that the Liberal Party's head hater of the poor and vulnerable is not yet planning to specifically target you and your family?

Recently noticed that your bank's ATM now has a function icon which allows the limited use of these particular debit cards in order to facilitate a person's ability to access the paltry 20 per cent of a welfare payment which can be paid out in cash under this punitive income management scheme?



Thursday, 12 September 2019

If you are a welfare recipient in any shape of form - be afraid, be very afraid



It appears in his profound ignorance and overwhelming arrogance Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison intends to privatize the welfare safety net....... 


Morrison has a very particular view of how welfare should be approached. On one level, it is a sort of neoliberal/austerity view, entirely at one with the direction of government policy since the 1980s.

But it is more complex that. Morrison seems to want to move to what we might call a post-neoliberal approach, with welfare built around financial instruments such as so-called Social Interest Bonds (SIBs)…..

To put it another way, there is no money in ending poverty, but there is profit to be had in meeting metrics that break 'the intergeneral cycle of poverty and disadvantage.'

Regardless, the whole approach ties in completely with Morrison's view that, 'welfare must become a good deal for investors' and that 'we must make it a good deal' (emphasis added).

That is to say, to be a good deal for investors, various forms of control and discipline must be enacted upon welfare recipients in order to help ensure targets are met and profits are realised via instruments like SIBs.

Drug testing and cashless welfare cards are two ways of doing that, and that is why Scott Morrison is advocating them. He is laying the groundwork for the introduction of instruments such as SIBs.

In the meantime, he is more than happy for the State to be an 'enforcer' without them.

Monday, 2 September 2019

The petty mind of Australian Prime Minister Morrison on display for all to see


US-China trade war affecting share price of Australian corporations, Australia helping to increase tensions in the Middle East, the national economy tanking, wages not keeping up with cost of living for low & middle income earners, home ownership falling, drought to last until end of year at least, inland towns starting to run out of drinking water, mass fish kills expected this summer and the Darling River dying - and the list goes on and on.

What is Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook, Scott Morrison, worried about? 

The signs on certain toilet doors.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Australian PM Scott Morrison gets a slap in the face from regional News Corp masthead


The Daily Examiner, 29 August 2019: 

OUR SAY 
BILL NORTH 
Editor 

Be sure to verify statements before you take them with a grain of salt – even when they’re delivered by our most trustworthy Prime Minister. It’s probably not a profound statement given today’s world leaders and proliferation of fake news. 

But once upon a time, you could trust your national leader to rise above the spin. Scott Morrison’s response to the GetUp campaign during the federal election – which succeeded in ousting colleague Tony Abbott, if little else – was to smear the activist group with nothing short of propoganda. 

He has accused GetUp of bullying and misogyny – two words more apt for describing some of the far-right politicians who were targeted not because of their political allegiance, but because they actively blocked progress on environmental and humanitarian issues that, in the eyes of GetUp, shouldn’t be political footballs. 

As an observant member of the media with no political allegiance, but an environmentally conscious soul, I was on the GetUp mailing list. 

In this age of ruthless political tactics, GetUp’s consistency to their cause using fact-based evidence in an articulate, respectful and considered tone gave them far more credibility in my mind than any political party. 

If all you know about GetUp is how they’ve been portrayed in the media, then please read a couple of their releases, before jumping on the bandwagon. 

You might not agree with their philosophies, but they do play clean and fair.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC): the case of the $100,000 cash political donation


Sometime after 2 November 2015 the NSW Electoral Commission appears to have noticed that on 12 March 2015, around two weeks before a NSW state election, an organisation known as Chinese Friends of Labor raised $138,000 from an event held in a 750-seat Chinese restaurant in Haymarket, Sydney. 

What piqued the Electoral Commission's interest was that $100,000 of this money appears to have been raised by Chinese Friends of Labor as cash from 12 donors - five of whom were employees or former employees of a second 350-seat Haymarket restaurant usually described as being serving staff, two who were related to that restaurant's general manager and two who were associated with property development company Wu International Investments Pty Ltd.

The NSW Electoral Commission began to wonder if some of the named donors were perhaps 'straw men' for one or more property developers.

Property developers are of course prohibited by law from making political donations in New South Wales. 

As members of the NSW Liberal Party will recall if they think back on the 2016 NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Operation Spicer investigation into political funding which found the Free Enterprise Foundation and "Raymond Carter, Andrew Cornwell, Garry Edwards, the Hon Michael Gallacher MLC, Nabil Gazal Jnr, Nicholas Gazal, Hilton Grugeon, Christopher Hartcher, Timothy Koelma, Jeffrey McCloy, Timothy Owen, Christopher Spence, Hugh Thomson and Darren Williams acted with the intention of evading laws under the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981 (the election funding laws) relating to the disclosure of political donations and the ban on donations from property developers. Messrs Grugeon, Hartcher, Koelma, McCloy, Owen, Thomson and Williams were also found to have acted with the intention of evading the election funding laws relating to caps on political donations. The Commission also found that Craig Baumann, Nicholas Di Girolamo, Troy Palmer and Darren Webber acted with the intention of evading the election funding laws relating to the disclosure of political donations and that Bart Bassett knowingly solicited a political donation from a property developer".

On 15 January 2018, after further investigation, the Electoral Commission referred the matter of Chinese Friends of Labor & Labor Party state campaign accounts to ICAC and on 26 August 2019 public hearings in Operation Aero began. 

Five witnesses are to be called this week: Kenrick Cheah (NSW Labor community relations director), Steve Tong (former employee Wu International Investments), Kaila Murnain (General Secretary of NSW Labor)Ernest Wong (former NSW Labor MLC) and Sam Dastyari (former Federal Labor senator).

It has been alleged that Chinese billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo was the source of the $100,000 cash donation. 

Readers might remember that this particular billionaire was the subject of allegations that he paid a five-figure sum in order to have a private lunch with Minister for Home Affairs and Liberal MP for Dickson Peter Dutton during the period he was seeking Australian citizenship.

Political tragics can follow the hearings here.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Morrison Government's understanding of human rights and aged care appears flawed


"Restrictive practices can elicit concern for a number of reasons. Fundamentally, they impact on the liberty and dignity of the care recipient. In circumstances where they are not absolutely necessary, their use is likely to sit uncomfortably for many. Their use without lawful consent may infringe the resident’s legal rights and constitute a civil or criminal offence, such as assault or false imprisonment, although there are very few cases in Australia where a criminal or civil complaint has been pursued to challenge the use of a restraint in an aged care setting. Physical and chemical restraint can have significant adverse effects on a resident, both physically and psychologically. There are also fundamental questions about their effectiveness."  [Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Background Paper 4, May 2019]

9 News, 20 August 2019: 

The Commonwealth government recently introduced changes aimed at limiting the use of restraints in residential facilities. 

But experts believe the regulations have created many more problems than they solved. 

They are urging the Commonwealth to scrap the regulations and start again from scratch. 

Queensland's public guardian Natalie Siegel-Brown said the changes placed her agency and the community in a "really compromising" position. 

"Unfortunately in their current form, the principles actually regress the recognition of human rights of people living in aged care, particularly with respect to chemical restraints," she told the committee in Sydney on Tuesday. 

"But the entire suite itself lacks any monitoring, enforcement or oversight in any event, and this can lead to greater problems." 

Colleen Pearce, from the Victorian Office of the Public Advocate, said aspects of the regulations were flawed and ambiguous. 

"We consider the principles are inconsistent with people's human rights (and) would preferably be contained in legislation," 

Dr Pearce told the committee. "(The principles) introduce, in the case of physical restraints, a new flawed and ambiguous substitute decision-making regime, provide virtually no regulation of chemical restraint usage, and lack the safeguards of other restrictive practices regulatory schemes." 

Joseph Ibrahim, the head of the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Melbourne's Monash University, described the regulations as stupid. 

"There is no monitoring mechanism, there are no sanctions associated, there is no way of implementing or making sure the law comes into effect," Professor Ibrahim said. 

A group of advocates believe the government should be prohibiting the misuse of restraints and over-medication, rather than regulating them. 

They argue medication should only be used for therapeutic practices and be administered with a patient's free and informed consent. 

The group includes Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia (ADA) and Human Rights Watch, both of which addressed the hearing on Tuesday. 

"Older people in nursing homes are at serious risk of harm if this new aged care regulation is allowed to stand as is," ADA chief executive Geoff Rowe said. 

"Australia's parliament should act urgently to ensure that everyone, including older people, is free from the threat of chemical restraint.".....

The Canberra Times, 21 August 2019:

New rules on the use of restraints in aged care could lead to more elderly residents being sedated, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. 

The regulation is also unenforceable, and does nothing to relief the staffing pressures that have led to the use of restraints, expert witnesses have said..... 

Professor Joe Ibrahim from Monash University's Health Law and Ageing Research Unit said the regulation also did not recognise the pressures within aged care that forced staff to use restraints. 

"Staff restrain residents to get through their day because they don't have enough hands to get through what's needed or they don't have the skills, knowledge, ability to assess why a person has responsive behaviours or unmet needs to address that," Professor Ibrahim said. 

"A law that isn't monitored, has no sanctions, no way of checking, it will drive practice underground." 

Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union professional officer Jamie Shepherd said he knew of a case where one registered nurse had to administer medication to 166 residents on night shift, and management resisted rostering on an enrolled nurse to help until the RN threatened to call an ambulance each night to assist. 

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal professional officer Julie Reeves said through a recent member survey, she learnt of an aged care home where there were just six staff rostered on overnight to look after 420 residents. 

"We cannot always effectively manage challenging behaviour issues for dementia residents while at the same time caring for others who have very complex health issues. 

We receive little to no support from management when things don't go as planned," she quoted the member as saying. 

Australian Human Rights Commission president, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher said while parts of the regulation had merit, it should not be allowed to proceed unless there was a mechanism for independent oversight. "If it's a choice of it or nothing, nothing might be better than it as it is," Professor Croucher said....

Physical restraining devices currently allowed in Commonwealth-funded aged care facilities are:

Bed rails
Chairs with locked tables
Seat belts other than those used during active transport
Safety vests
Shackles
Manacles
[my yellow highlighting]


Chemical restraint is any medication or chemical substance used for the purpose of affecting a person's behaviour, other than medication prescribed for the treatment of, or to enable treatment of, a diagnosed mental disorder, a physical illness or a physical condition. 

Use of chemical restraint is specifically excluded from assessment in the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program. [See p.15]


BACKGROUND:

 Quality of Care Amendment (Minimising the Use of Restraints) Principles 2019