06/29/18

Dragons serve Golden Googars with their first taste of defeat

DEFENDING Barwon-Darling Water Cup premiers Walgett toppled the previously undefeated Brewarrina 28-26 in the senior match-of-the-round last weekend while Enngonia surged up the table with two weekend wins in a critical round of rugby league.
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The Dragons prevailed in a two-point thriller against the Golden Googars at Geoff New Ovals, Brewarrina on Sunday.

Perennial leading pointscorer Willie Wright was at his best again, the five-eighth scoring a try and booting four decisive goals in the Dragons’ victory.

He was well supported by hard-working lock Richard Dennis in a solid team performance.

Brewarrina had a host of good performers including play makers Charlie McHughes, Duane Gordon, Jack Simpson and Edward Simpson in what is a versatile all-round side.

The Googars boast five players that have scored five tries or more during 2014, and the points were shared around again in a match that boasted 10 individual try-scorers.

Sunday’s result means the minor premiership comes down to this weekend’s final round.

Walgett hosts Collarenebri on Saturday while Brewarrina travels to Bourke to play the Warriors on Sunday.

However top spot and a home major semi-final may not be the best omen for either Brewarrina or Walgett when the two sides clash again in the major semi-final in a fortnight’s time as both have scored away wins against each other during the regular season.

The power plays of the weekend came from the Enngonia who moved rapidly up the ladder with a pair of victories against Goodooga (30-0 on forfeit) and Collarenebri (46-38).

With confirmation the Outlaws and Bourke both received one point for an abandoned round six game, it meant Enngonia picked up five competition points in the last week.

Now on 10 points, Enngonia will collect two points for the round 10 bye.

Victory against Goodooga on Sunday in a deferred match from round two could hand the Outlaws third place on the ladder and a home minor semi-final.

Enngonia made the massive trek to Collarenebri on Sunday (July 20) and did enough to hold out a tired Bulldogs outfit in a high-scoring match.

The Bulldogs were backing up from a 30-4 loss to Bourke on Saturday at Collarenebri.

The Outlaws were also meant to double up but had fresh legs after Goodooga forfeited Saturday’s clash scheduled for Enngonia Sportsground.

On Sunday, Enngonia’s Reuben Barker (three tries and two goals) and Jeremy Edwards (two tries and two goals) had big says in the outcome against the Bulldogs while another youngster in Lochlan Peters (two tries) shone for Collarenebri.

The Outlaws also benefitted from second-rower Samual Shillingsworth’s bustling surges forward.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

06/29/18

Asbestos report sparks action in Donnybrook

A report highlighting 120 WA schools containing asbestos has sparked action to ensure the safety of schools and students at Donnybrook District High School.A REPORT highlighting 120 WA schools containing asbestos has sparked action to ensure the safety of schools and students at Donnybrook District High School.
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The 2013 Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Audit highlighted 35 of those schools as having asbestos back in 2010. The report was released recently under freedom of information.

“The Barnett Government has failed to keep up with maintenance at our schools and some of these health risks have been known since 2010,” Labor spokesman for the South West Mick Murray said.

Donnybrook District High School was listed in the report as being at the highest risk level. However, this referred to one particular site and not the whole school.

Donnybrook District High School Principal Peter Fitzgerald said as he understood the issue, and he had not been advised to the contrary, the asbestos was in a situation where it was stable and not a risk. It was also in one area of the school and not throughout.

“Where there is risk, we act to the extent that we are enabled to act. I am not enabled to act to remove asbestos. That is managed through other agencies who act on behalf of the department,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“The professionals who do the assessment have deemed it to be safe. The requirement is for us to do nothing; at some future time they may remove it, that’s not a school decision, that’s a decision of the department’s agents.

“My understanding is that it is not a risk in its current state to the health or to the integrity and safety of everyone here.”

Mr Fitzgerald met on Thursday July 24 with a representative of the BMW, an arm of the Department of Treasury and Finance, who are responsible for managing all government buildings.

“He inspected a section of screening at Bentley Street which has attracted a high risk rating and is recommending that action be taken to remove the asbestos product in the screens and that these be replaced with a colourbond type product,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Once this is approved, and I expect this will happen quickly, then he will put in place a plan to remove the asbestos product.

“This process is done in accordance with industry protocols which involve appropriate notifications, the employment of licensed specialists and adherence to laws relating to disposal. The work itself will happen at a time outside school hours, probably over a weekend.”

Education Minister Peter Collier assured parents statewide following the release of the report that the state government was taking every precaution with children’s health in managing asbestos in schools.

Mr Collier said the Western Australian Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances had advised that exposure to asbestos cement material in WA public schools represented very little risk to health.

“Environmental health experts advise that undisturbed asbestos poses an extremely low risk to health, and where it is located in areas that are unlikely to be disturbed, there is no urgent need to remove it,” Mr Collier said.

“That said, the state government has an ongoing program of asbestos removal in schools where it presents a possible risk, and last financial year we spent approximately $2million on associated repairs and maintenance.”

Further, he said all asbestos roofing on Western Australian schools had long since been removed and replaced.

Mr Collier said the thorough Building Condition Assessment reports carried out at every school provided a clear picture of where asbestos was located, and identified those spots where there could be a greater chance of the material being disturbed.

“Out of nearly 800 schools, there were only 14 schools where inspectors found one or two spots in the school where the risk rating was 1, meaning the asbestos is probably weathered and has a higher chance of being disturbed and exposed,” he said.

“Let me stress, this does not mean the whole school is at high risk.

“In those cases, the Department of Education acts quickly and assesses the best way to minimise any hazard.

“That may involve removing the asbestos altogether, which is done under controlled conditions and when no students or staff are present, or it may involve other work such as cutting off a tree branch that is brushing up against an asbestos panel, or sealing and enclosing the asbestos.

“Schools are in regular contact with the department if they have any health and safety concerns about their facilities, and experts can be dispatched quickly to assess the issue and fix it if necessary.”

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06/29/18

NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir opens new school gym

Bashir house students Mikayla Lilli, Katelin Koprivec and Alexia Mihalopoulos meet Dame Marie Bashir at the opening. Picture: GREG TOTMANNSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir was humbled to be invited to open the new buildings at St Mary Star of the Sea College in her role as patron of house Bashir at the school.
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At an opening ceremony on Thursday morning, Dame Marie told the crowd of students and special guests how touched she was to take part in the celebrations.

She later told the Mercury she felt “humble” that many of the young women, including Bashir house captain Alexia Mihalopoulos, considered her a role model.

“I feel very humble about that,” she said.

“It’s an absolutely indescribable honour because it’s about young people, which are the joy of my life, and it’s about education, which as Nelson Mandela said is the most powerful weapon of all.

“Of course educated young women in Australia, for centuries virtually, have helped build the nation.

“They’ve gone into every field and we see them now going into things like aeronautical engineering, extraordinary things because of their courage and the encouragement of a good society.”

Dame Marie said she was pleased to see the continued work of The Sisters of the Good Samaritan, who founded the college.

Bishop Peter Ingham was on hand to bless the $11 million facilities, which include a new gymnasium, sports science area, cafeteria and learning spaces.

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03/16/19

Police search sand hills for Ronald Penn

SPECIALIST police and cadaver dogs will continue searching sand dunes for the remains of a Central Coast man believed to have been murdered nearly 20 years ago.
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Ronald Penn, 61, was last seen at a Bateau Bay house on October 12, 1995 – the same day he was stopped by police at Charlestown regarding an apprehended violence order.

Two weeks later, Mr Penn’s white Mazda van was found burnt-out in bushland on Berkeley Road, Berkeley Vale.

Strike Force Rankmore detectives recently received information suggesting three men may have been in the near vicinity of Mr Penn’s car shortly after it was set alight around 10pm.

Two of the men are described as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander appearance, while the third man is described as being of Caucasian appearance.

A police statement released on Wednesday said all three were seen leaving the scene of the burning Mazda van in a red Ford Laser hatchback.

Ronald Penn. Pic: NSW Police

Detectives have also been provided with information suggesting Mr Penn’s body may be buried on a sand-hill within the Tuggerah Lakes area.

Detectives, along with the assistance of specialist police and a cadaver dog, commenced a search of local sand-hills on Tuesday.

The dig will continue on Wednesday.

“We are absolutely committed to solving this case and putting those responsible for Mr Penn’s death behind bars,” Tuggerah Lakes crime manager Detective Inspector Dave Waddell said.

“Mr Penn’s family and friends have suffered for far too long; they need to know what happened to Ron.

“The information and support we have received from members of the community has been invaluable, and we are very grateful for the help they have provided.

“If there is anyone else out there who can assist detectives, please do get in touch.

“We don’t need to know who you are; all we need is the information you have to hand. You can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously and your call will be treated in the strictest of confidence.”

Investigations have revealed Mr Penn had his clothes and personal belongings with him when he vanished.

None of his bank accounts have been accessed and his driver’s licence has not been renewed since he went missing.

03/16/19

Closing the gap 150 indigenous programs consolidated to cut waste

The government plans to save $500 million over five years by consolidating more than 150 indigenous programs into a five-pronged strategy to be run out of the Prime Minister’s Department.
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Despite repeatedly promising to maintain funding levels before the election, it now insists it can achieve the savings by eliminating the waste and duplication highlighted in the National Commission of Audit report.

Treasurer Joe Hockey maintains the savings can be achieved without compromising the goal of closing the gap, citing the Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “heartfelt” commitment to tackling disadvantage. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann claims the scope to tackle waste and duplication exists across all service-delivery departments.

But the savings will be attacked as another broken promise by Labor after Mr Abbott repeatedly insisted funding levels would be maintained and the Coalition’s election policy document said: “The Coalition will continue the current level of funding expended on Closing the Gap activities.”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said $4.8 billion would be spent on the streamlined programs of jobs, land and the economy, children and schooling, safety and wellbeing, culture and capability and remote Australia strategies.

“The five new indigenous programs will make it easier for organisations delivering services on the ground,” Senator Scullion said.

He said the Stronger Futures policy developed by the former government would be revised “with the Northern Territory Government to place greater emphasis on results, rather than process”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

03/16/19

Indonesia’s oldest political rivals to propel Joko Widodo to presidency

Jakarta: Indonesia’soldest political enemies are edging towards joining forces to propel popular Jakarta governor Joko Widodo to the presidency.
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Golkar, the party of strongman Suharto is talking with the party which grew out of the Suharto-era opposition, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), with a view to supporting Mr Joko as president and his agenda in parliament.

Though nothing is yet signed, the candidates for the two parties, Mr Joko (known as Jokowi) for PDI-P and businessman Aburizal Bakrie for Golkar, appeared together late on Tuesday at a traditional market in Jakarta to announce their “cooperation”.

“This a further step towards forming a coalition. If we think we match, I’ll talk to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati [Sukarnoputri] and Jokowi,” Mr Bakrie said.

Mr Joko said the two nationalist, secularist parties had much in common, but added a strong rider to maintain his image as a cleanskin in a country rank with money politics and dealmaking.

“We want to keep the co-operation pure, so we won’t talk about [giving out posts such as] vice-president or ministers,” he said.

Mr Joko has not announced a running mate despite fevered speculation leading up to the nomination deadline on Monday.

A coalition would align the two parties which won most votes in the parliamentary election, and form the backbone of a potential majority in the lower house, or DPR.

If it comes to be, particularly on Mr Joko’s terms, the coalition would signal that Golkar has given up entirely on getting the desperately unpopular Mr Bakrie elected as president against him.

It would also be another sign that Golkar is the ultimate pragmatist that will do almost anything to stay on the government benches.

The announcement made it clear that Golkar’s earlier coalition talks with Mr Joko’s presidential rival, former general Prabowo Subianto, have come to nothing.

The potential deal is extraordinary even in Indonesia’s byzantine political scene.

Golkar was formed under Suharto’s New Order in 1971 to contest sham elections that gave a patina of electoral legitimacy to his rule. Real opposition was eliminated and Suharto’s party won crushing parliamentary majorities at each of the six elections it contested.

PDI-P grew out of the tame, state-sanctioned opposition, the Indonesian Democratic Party, or PDI, which was so dysfunctional that in 1977 Suharto was forced to appoint his home affairs minister to run its party congresses.

The party was reinvigorated and added the word “Struggle” to its name in 1998 under the leadership of Ms Megawati,  the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno. Stronger opposition was part of the impetus for the collapse of the New Order regime in 1998 and Ms Megawati led her party to near victory in the post-New Order election in 1999.

Golkar’s deputy secretary general, Tantowi Yahya, said if a deal was signed it would be the first time in government that the two parties had formed a coalition.

Mr Joko is the runaway favourite to win the election. But, like his opponent, Mr Prabowo, he is busy talking to the other parties in Indonesia’s 10-party parliament to try to form a workable majority for the five-year term that starts in October.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

03/16/19

Responsibility was mine, says Garrett

Peter Garrett arrives for his grilling in Brisbane at the royal commission into deaths from the home insulation program. Photo: Glenn HuntFormer environment minister Peter Garrett has taken responsibility for the Labor government’s failed insulation scheme, but revealed prime minister Kevin Rudd refused to approve a change to the installation system just weeks before the first installer died.
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Mr Garrett told of Mr Rudd’s involvement via a statement given to the Royal Commission into Home Insulation Program (HIP), which is sitting in Brisbane.

On Tuesday Mr Garrett, the former front man for the band Midnight Oil, became the highest profile minister to appear before the inquiry, which is due to hear evidence from Mr Rudd on Wednesday.

In his statement, Mr Garrett said: ”I was responsible for the rollout for the HIP and bore ultimate responsibility for its implementation.”

He also revealed that he had tried to introduce a requirement for two quotes for insulation jobs because he ”felt there was a need for a rigorous process that ensured value for money”.

But he said his requirement for two quotes was removed from the initial roll-out in phase two after advice from the department.

Then on August 27, 2009, he said he sought the prime minister’s approval to make the change, but Mr Rudd did not approve the request.

Four installers died during the program – the first, Matthew Fuller, was electrocuted on October 14, 2009, less than four months after the main program started. The following month 16-year-old Rueben Barnes was electrocuted.

Mr Garrett confirmed he received a ministerial briefing three weeks before Mr Fuller’s death, warning that ”concern about new entrants to the market were not meeting skills competencies and overcharging”.

He also blamed public servants and ministerial advisers for not providing information to him about safety issues.

Giving evidence as to why he had not seen a key risk assessment raising installer safety concerns, Mr Garrett said it would be a matter for his department and advisers to ”highlight” for him if they determined it necessary.

”In the ordinary course of the role of a minister I would have to seek to see it if I’m advised about it … but in the normal practice or necessity I wouldn’t ask to see it,” he said.

He reiterated this in his statement to the inquiry, saying at no time were the risks of death or serious injury communicated to him via briefings from the department.

Mr Garrett confirmed that as a consequence of Mr Fuller’s death he became distrustful of the department’s advice, including its recommendation not to ban foil insulation.

Mr Garrett said, in hindsight, he would have recommended the scrapping of the program after the death of the scheme’s first victim in October, 2009.

He said he suggested mandatory training for all installers in the wake of Mr Fuller’s death.

However, a briefing from his department, titled ”Mandatory Training for all Installers”, advised Mr Garrett against the move.

The department advised Mr Garrett that a workforce of 19,000 installers could not be trained in such a short period of time.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

03/16/19

The Voice recap: Joel Madden ramps up the rivalry with Kylie Minogue

Growing rivalry … coaches Joel Madden and Kylie Minogue (from left) fought hard to add singers to their teams as Ricky Martin and will.i.am danced along this week. Photo: The Voice Powerful and soulful … Thando Sikwila during her blind audition. She chose Kylie Minogue. Photo: The Voice
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Like its rival reality show, the Federal Budget, The Voice is a terrifying glimpse of our nation’s future. Unlike the Federal Budget, tonight’s episode sees the rivalry between Joel Madden and Kylie Minogue come to a head. Although I wasn’t watching the Budget, so it’s possible that happened there too.

But first we have to meet two women from Perth who call themselves Divalicious and say things that don’t instill confidence like: “We have the same warped sense of humour.”

Divalicious sing The Flower Duet, which confuses the judges, who think they are listening to a car commercial. None of them turn their chairs around but everyone has a lot of fun and that’s the main thing. “You guys did a great job,” says Joel in defiance of all the evidence. Back they go to Perth, to have warped senses of humour and laugh like hyenas over wine.

Up steps John, son of Gordon, who hopes to one day be a full-time musician, but is appearing on The Voice anyway. He is playing a ukulele, which is just adorable. Will.i.am plays his air ukulele. I think. (Unless he’s actually … no, I think it’s supposed to be a ukulele.)

Anyway John sings that song Riptide that you’ve heard somewhere and he sounds radio friendly and plays well. Eventually Will and Joel and Kylie spin around. Will informs John that his voice he has that “special thing”, which I am pretty sure is sexual harassment.

Speaking of which, Kylie is next to speak to John, asking him about his ukulele in a way that makes you wonder if she is talking about the instrument or something else. Will and Joel and Kylie begin fighting over John, but John’s dad told him to go with his gut, and his gut says Kylie. Although again, when he says “gut” I wonder whether he means “ukulele”.

Next is Tasha, pronounced “Tarsha”, who is willing to set aside the excitement and wonder of working in a clothes shop to pursue her dream of becoming rapidly anonymous after this season of The Voice ends.

She sings Ho Hey confidently. Kylie starts dancing, but she still hasn’t hit her button so she can’t be enjoying it that much.

Then Will hits his button, and then EVERYONE hits their buttons because this is apparently just a weird game of chicken to these people.

Joel says he waits for a moment in each song to “knock him over”, and claims that Tasha achieved this, but suspiciously fails to specify which moment it was. Ricky says he wants to know more about Tasha, because someone just told him this episode is running a little bit short.

Joel says he’s going to take very good care of Tasha, which coming from Joel … well we can all tell what he means. She picks Will, because he’s been licking his lips the least this whole time.

Next is Peter, who is from Adelaide, where the hairbrush has yet to be invented. Only apparently he’s not next, it’s a girl called Thando. Did I fall asleep for a bit there? We just met Peter and then he was gone.

Thando starts singing and the judges are all bopping away in their chairs to prove that, in fact, they understand the concept of music and are aware that it is what they are currently listening to.

Joel stands up and claps but doesn’t turn. Kylie turns, though, which Ricky finds hilarious.

Finally Joel does turn and the crowd goes moderately wild. Joel and Kylie are locked in a fierce battle for Thando’s charms, but she chooses Kylie, opting for strength in sisterhood.

There is now a brief interlude for Joel and Kylie to gallantly pretend that their rivalry is real and that they care about any of this. “I’m going to crush her,” says Joel, in the voice of a man selecting a new brand of muesli. They then do a sort of improvised comedy skit where Kylie puts on a weird voice and everyone watching just shrugs. I don’t think Kylie even knows what this show is about.

On with the auditions, and Annabelle has an emotional backstory so she’ll probably win the whole thing. But is her voice conventional enough to drive the judges wild? It sure is! Or maybe not. Ricky is either lost in the beauty of the music or has a muscle spasm in his neck.

Kylie keeps thumping her knee, believing it’s the button and wondering why her chair won’t turn around. Eventually it comes down to Kylie and Joel, who have to fake a bit more rivalry, which is hard because they are very close to falling asleep. “You would fit perfectly on my team,” says Joel. It’s a tense moment, but eventually Annabelle chooses Joel.

Time for another interlude where the judges sit in a bit white space and talk some MORE about the Joel-Kylie rivalry. It still doesn’t sound like very much of a thing.

Here is Andrew, who sings Coldplay’s Yellow, wanting to give a fresh, limp spin on Chris Martin’s greatest hit. “Girl or a guy?” Kylie asks Will. The judges nod along with the song, in an extremely sarcastic manner given none of them turn around. “Stuffed it,” Andrew accurately says. “No no, far from stuffed it,” Kylie says soothingly but it is clear he fell short.

Next up is someone we can’t see, because The Voice is doing the thing where we get to know how the judges feel, by only hearing the singer and not seeing her.

Of course, we don’t know exactly how the judges feel, because we don’t have production staff constantly refilling our vodka flasks, but anyway we hear her sing and her voice is quite nice and then we see her and she looks fairly normal really. I feel a bit cheated – I was hoping she’d turn out to be just a head in a jar or something shocking.

The next contestant is Luna Envy, who describes her look as “a bit of everything thrown together” even though her look is actually a bit of Goth thrown together with Goth, and then some Goth put on top.

Also her name is Luna Envy, so you know. Strap yourselves in. “I don’t think my mum has ever been as proud of me as for me being in The Voice,” says Luna, proving either that her mother has terrible priorities, or that Luna has literally never done anything worthwhile. Luna sings My Immortal but doesn’t win over hearts or minds or judges.

At the end of the song the judges learn that Luna Envy’s name is Luna Envy, and congratulate themselves on an excellent decision in not pressing their buttons. “You’re a star,” Ricky says with cruel irony.

Joel and Kylie engage in a bit more awkward banter and then – oh it’s Peter! The guy with the hair who we saw before and then he didn’t sing.

For some reason we’re subjected to another introductory sequence in addition to the introductory sequence they played earlier in the show, but finally, they’re going to let him sing. Peter’s dad hasn’t come to see him sing, because he doesn’t like to fly. But since they live in Adelaide and would not have had to fly, he probably just doesn’t like listening to his son sing.

Peter begins to sing and Kylie pulls a face. It’s that face people sometimes pull when they hear a guy sing really badly. He’s singing Sweet Disposition, which is a bit funny when you think about it. After a shaky start in falsetto, Peter opens up with his chest voice and starts nailing the notes. Kylie stands up and waves her hands and then thinks better of it and sits down again, ashamed of her exhibitionist streak.

Then Ricky hits his button and Joel hits his button and Kylie hits her button and everything is just going crazy out there, it’s an Escape To Victory-style comeback story as he chooses Ricky as his coach and gives hope to everyone out there who dreams of singing songs that are a bit out of their range.

We then have to sit through the other three judges doing their Ricky impressions in a fairly vicious example of workplace bullying. And then it’s over, but next week promises to have episodes that go even further over their scheduled running time!

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

02/16/19

Treasurer Joe Hockey grilled by ABC’s Sarah Ferguson on budget night

Joe Hockey faces Sarah Ferguson on Budget night.Federal budget 2014: Full coverageMark Kenny: Trust deficit spells death for a salesmanHockey ‘daring’ states to ask for a rise in the GST, says LaborThe Pulse LIve: Judith Ireland blogs live from Parliament
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Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has begun the hard sell of his tough first budget, sweating his way through the first of many post-budget interviews.

An unusually subdued Mr Hockey faced the ABC’s Sarah Ferguson on 7.30 just moments after his budget speech.

Ms Ferguson gave him no reprieve, firing the first shot with her opening question: ‘‘Is it liberating for a politician to decide election promises don’t matter?’’

As he sat still in the opposite chair, hands clasped between his legs, Mr Hockey said he would not ‘‘accept the question’’.

“I don’t accept that question. The biggest, most significant promise we made was to fix the budget and strengthen the Australian economy, and we will.”

But the Treasurer soon freed his hands as he set about defending his government’s first budget. A budget that included some controversial measures like the new Medicare co-payment.

‘‘What we’re doing is good policy,’’ he said.

But Ms Ferguson was relentless, orchestrating this abrasive exchange:

Hockey: ‘‘There are only two tax adjustments.’’

Ferguson: ‘‘Is that what we’re going to call them now?”

Hockey: ‘‘Of any substance, any tax changes, if you like, or whatever you’d like to call it.’’

Ferguson: ‘‘New taxes.’’

Hockey: ‘‘There’s two. There’s actually fewer than any of the previous budgets from the previous government.’’

Ferguson: ‘‘They’re still taxes. I don’t need to teach you, Treasurer, what a tax is.’’

Ms Ferguson grilled him on the government’s decison to cut $80 billion from schools and hospitals over ten years.

“Are you starving the states so they beg you, effectively, to raise the GST?” she asked.

“That’s up to them, they are responsible for schools and hospitals.”

It might just have been an off night for the Treasurer. His speech in Parliament was also with a tired voice in a performance that fell short of his typically confident appearances in question time.

On Wednesday, Mr Hockey hit the airwaves, appearing on ABC’s Radio National and AM, Sky News and commercial radio.

At 12.30pm he will speak in Parliament House’s Great Hall in the traditional treasurer’s post-budget address to the National Press Club.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

02/16/19

Budget: Joe Hockey asks too much too soon and puts credibility at risk

Looking like a man in too great of a hurry: Treasurer Joe Hockey’s budget may fall short on fairness. Photo: Andrew MearesRarely has a federal Treasurer laid out so quickly and clearly such stark reforms to the Australian way of life. Rarely have voters been left wondering about the justification and asking, ”Why the rush?”
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Dozens of changes to benefits, handouts and programs have been outlined, along with new taxes, curbs to health and savings on higher education.

There have been myriad broken promises. And many surprises.

Joe Hockey’s first budget speech builds a narrative of short-term pain for long-term gain; not by tightening the economy to the extent that a slowdown is imminent, but by drawing on a highly developed ideological framework.

This new user pays world fits snugly with what Mr Hockey admitted was the goal of ”reducing the government’s share of the economy over time”.

”The age of entitlement is over,” Mr Hockey declared in his budget speech, recycling a treatise he delivered in 2012 in London but conveniently omitted to stress during the 2013 election campaign. True, the Coalition in opposition promised to fix the budget, albeit not to raise taxes, or make excuses.

As a result many voters, and the Herald, backed Tony Abbott and Mr Hockey as best placed to embark on much-needed economic and budgetary reforms to end years of Labor dysfunction.

Eight months on and no one can accuse them of not having a red hot go at changing the nation.

The public can, however, ask whether the government’s zeal for shifting the burden of economic change risks jeopardising the sort of national unity needed if Australia is to accept many of the necessary reforms in this budget.

The Treasurer is looking like a man in too great a hurry.

No doubt he is gambling that an unviable opposition under Bill Shorten will pose little obstacle. Mr Hockey will have his fingers crossed that consumer confidence holds up, infrastructure jobs grow and the economy outperforms his relatively pessimistic assumptions. That way, voters who have been hit in the hip pocket through family payment cuts will forget any taint of unfairness in this budget by the time they enter the polling booths in 2016.

True, many of the most severe cuts affecting the middle class – as opposed to the easy targets of jobless youth – kick in after the next election or will be temporary.

But the so-called economic growth dividend from reform will need to come quickly to offset the unsettling 16,500-plus public service job cuts and the uneasy sense that it has suddenly become more comfortable to be a wealthy Australian than someone who needs a helping hand.

Mr Hockey’s narrative tries to keep voters engaged through a series of give-and-take deals. He pledges to recycle health savings and most funds from the new $7 co-payment for doctor visits into a $20 billion health fund. Government assets will be sold and recycled into new job-boosting infrastructure. A hike in fuel tax will be funnelled into road upgrades.

A welfare crackdown will be recycled into a better work culture and a more sustainable safety net for the vulnerable. Capped university fees will be recycled into a fee free-for-all, but with 20 per cent converting to scholarships for the poor.

Labor’s age of entitlement will be recycled into what Mr Hockey calls an ”age of opportunity” under the Coalition. But it all depends on voters replacing their ”age of self interest with national interest”.

”Doing nothing is not an option,” he says – to which some voters may ask, ”But why do so much?”

”Repairing the budget is necessary to protect living standards and prepare for an ageing population,” he says – to which some might ask, ”Explain why this can’t be staged more slowly and why you didn’t tell us at the election?”

”It will allow us to respond to future unexpected events” – to which some will say, ”But our debt position is still the envy of the world”.

To make room for future tax relief and pay it forward – to which many will say, ”At whose cost?”

Many of the easiest ways to reduce budget spending by means testing upper-class welfare or reducing tax breaks for the wealthy on superannuation, capital gains and negative gearing are conspicuously absent from the budget. What’s more, voters must be confused about the need to act so strongly now.

Although the Coalition told Australians before the election the economy was dire, it is now showing signs of recovery. While the prices for our exports remain subdued and may fall further, interest rates remain low, lifting household spending.

Even Mr Hockey says, ”Now is not the time to talk our country down but to talk the facts” – to which many angry at broken promises and policy surprises will respond, ”We aren’t sure we can trust you to tell us.”

Such a potential disconnect between a new government and those who elected it is distressing given the positive aspects of this budget. With more explanation and less aggression, Mr Hockey could have made a strong case for medium-term adjustments to government programs with the burden shared by all.

As it stands, the danger is the necessary pain in Mr Hockey’s plan will become embroiled in the politics of backlash.

The Herald believes Australians do need to realise that the return to budget surplus is a valid goal.

That super tax breaks and other lucrative perks created long-term structural flaws in the budget just as governments should have been banking the proceeds.

That privatisation of some assets is a useful way of freeing up funds for roads.

That indexation of fuel excise does need to be reintroduced especially as the government shrinks the tax base.

That pension assets and income tests do need to be toughened over time in concert with the rise in the retirement age.

But the Herald also believes increased equality of opportunity for education is an investment not a cost and that early intervention will save money on health.

What’s more, a temporary tax on those earning over $180,000 is a poor replacement for removing structural programs that support those who need them least.

Granted, Mr Hockey had to make tough decisions. But if the Treasurer had said no to more Australians who could afford to hear the bad news this would be a better and fairer budget – and it would have a greater chance of gaining acceptance among a rightfully cynical public.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

02/16/19

Garrett takes fall but points finger at Rudd

Former Environment Minister Peter Garrett has taken responsibility for the Labor Government’s failed insulation scheme but revealed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd refused to approve a change to the installation system just weeks before the first installer died.
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Mr Garrett told of Mr Rudd’s involvement via a statement given to the Royal Commission into Home Insulation Program, which is sitting in Brisbane.

On Tuesday Mr Garrett became the highest profile minister to appear at the inquiry, which is due to hear evidence from Mr Rudd on Wednesday.

In his statement Mr Garrett said: ”I was responsible for the rollout for the HIP and bore ultimate responsibility for its implementation.”

He also revealed he had tried to introduce a requirement for two quotes for insulation jobs because he ”felt there was a need for a rigorous process that ensured value for money”.

He said his requirement was removed from the initial roll out in phase two on the basis of advice from the Department.

Then on August 27, 2009 he said he sought the Prime Minister’s approval to make the change but Mr Rudd did not approve the request.

Four installers died during the program – the first, Matthew Fuller, was electrocuted on October 14, 2009, less than four months after the main program started. The following month 16-year-old Rueben Barnes was electrocuted.

Mr Garrett confirmed he received a ministerial briefing three weeks before Fuller’s death warning that ”concern about new entrants to the market were not meeting skills competencies”.

He also blamed public servants and ministerial advisors for not providing information to him about safety issues .

Giving evidence as to why he had not seen a key risk assessment raising installer safety concerns Mr Garrett said it would be a matter for his department and advisors to ”highlight” for him if they determined it necessary.

”In the ordinary course of the role of a minister I would have to seek to see it if I’m advised about it … but in the normal practice or necessity I wouldn’t ask to see it,” he said.

He reiterated this in his statement to the inquiry saying at no time were the risks of death or serious injury communicated to him via briefings from the Department.

Mr Garrett confirmed that as a consequence of Matthew Fuller’s death he became distrustful of the advice he was getting from the department including relating to the advice not to ban foil insulation.

Mr Garrett said, in hindsight, he would have recommended the scrapping of the program after the death of the scheme’s first victim, Matthew Fuller.

He said he suggested that mandatory training be introduced for all installers in the wake of Mr Fuller’s death.

However, a briefing from his department titled ”Mandatory Training for all Installers” advised Mr Garrett against the move.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

02/16/19

Barrister calls for full inquiry into ATO’s ‘Keystone cops’

A decision to drop tax and money laundering charges against three high-profile Sydney businessmen is ”another humiliating defeat for the Project Wickenby Keystone Cops”, according to a lawyer close to the trio.
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Charges attracting jail of up to 25 years, laid against former CVC Limited chairman Vanda Gould, former Sunland chairman John Leaver and Swiss resident Peter Borgas, were withdrawn by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in Sydney Local Court on Tuesday morning.

The men asked the court to order the Crown to pay their costs in defending the charges and a mention date was set for June 10.

They were arrested in October after an investigation by Project Wickenby, the joint Taxation Office-Federal Police taskforce that attacks the use of tax havens by rich Australians.

It was alleged they used a complex network of companies in tax havens including Vanuatu, the Bahamas and Singapore, to avoid millions in Australian tax.

Barrister John Hyde Page, who represented the companies in a related Federal Court civil case, said the amount of public money spent on Wickenby was a ”scandal”.

”Their contempt for civil liberties and due process is disgusting,” he said. ”At the very minimum there needs to be full public inquiry into every aspect of how this unit operates and in particular the people who run it.”

He declined to comment on the Federal Court case, in which a network of offshore companies associated with Mr Gould challenged Tax Office bills of about $40 million. Hearings are completed and the parties are awaiting judgment from Justice Nye Perram.

The ATO alleged the network of companies invested in Australian shares, including those of companies chaired by Mr Gould, and then sent the proceeds offshore without paying any Australian tax.

Mr Gould has long denied any wrongdoing or tax avoidance, saying the majority of the proceeds of the offshore network were distributed to charities in Australia, Africa and Asia.

The civil case also caused ructions in the relationship between Australia and the Cayman Islands when formerly secret company documents showing Mr Gould controlled two Caymanian companies were tendered as evidence despite a court in the Caribbean tax haven ruling they could not be used.

Mr Gould was on Tuesday reappointed as chairman of investment company CVC, a role he resigned following his arrest.

In a statement, Mr Gould’s solicitor, Justeen Dormer, said the charges had caused ”months of disruption to Mr Gould’s life”.

”I am pleased that the charges against Mr Gould have been dropped and he can now return to the work and philanthropic pursuits to which he has dedicated his life,” she said.

In addition, he was chairman of CVC spin-off CVC Property Fund and biotechs Cyclopharm and Vita Life Sciences.

Mr Leaver, who resigned as a director of CVC, does not intend to rejoin the board.

The ATO regards Project Wickenby as a success, boasting on its website it has raised more than $786 million in cash from targets.

However, it has been bitterly opposed by targets including actor Paul Hogan and music promoter Glenn Wheatley, and criticised by the Australian National Audit Office for taking too long and costing too much.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

02/16/19

High-income earners will pay more tax until 2017

Debt levy: The levy will be in place for three years and will affect high-income earners.Federal budget 2014: Full coverageFederal budget 2014: Interactive data explorerFederal budget 2014: Where will your tax dollars go?
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About 400,000 taxpayers earning more than $180,000 will pay an extra 2 per cent tax as the government breaks a pre-election promise not to raise taxes, with the introduction of a ”temporary budget repair levy” for three years.

The revenue-raising measure was first promoted weeks ago and forms a key part of the government’s message that everyone will contribute in what is a horror first budget from Treasurer Joe Hockey.

The measure will contribute $3.1 billion to the budget bottom line over three years from July 1, until June 30, 2017.

In his final budget reply speech as opposition leader, Tony Abbott pledged that, if elected, the Coalition ”will keep the current tax thresholds” and that ”no one’s personal tax will go up”.

But someone earning $200,000 will pay 2 per cent more tax on the final $20,000 of their income, which equates to $400. A person earning $300,000 would pay $2400 each year for three years, while someone earning $400,000 would pay $4400 of levy.

Mr Hockey said the levy would ensure his budget – which will scale back family tax benefits, introduce tough earn or learn requirements for the unemployed, and cut into education and health spending – shared the pain around.

”We are asking higher-income earners to pay a temporary budget repair levy,” he said.

”It is only fair that everyone makes a contribution. This includes members of parliament.”

To that end, Mr Hockey said a one-year freeze on the pay of MPs and senior public servant salaries would be put into effect.

”And the gold pass entitlements will be wound back for former and current MPs before the scheme is abolished. As I said, we all must contribute.”

In recent weeks, Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott have variously argued that they have not broken a promise by introducing the levy and that the most significant promise the Coalition made was to fix the budget – and by implication, that the levy could not be avoided.

Several Coalition MPs have already spoken out against the introduction of the levy, questioning the political wisdom of the measure and pointing out that it contributes relatively little to the Coalition’s plan for fiscal consolidation and debt reduction. The government has watered down its original idea of imposing a 1 per cent levy on people earning more than $80,000. And the possibility of the 2 per cent levy beginning at $150,000 was also not adopted because a new tax bracket would have had to be created.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.