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Gosford councillors 1 year election committment

Posted by gosfordpip on February 4, 2014 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Greens Election Commitments - Outcomes from my first year on Council by Councillor Hillary Morris

February 5, 2014 at 11:38am

2012 Greens Councillor Election Commitments:

Protecting the local environment:

NOM: Coal Seam Gas & protection of the Gosford LGA

NOM: Springfield Quarry asking Council to cease use and find an alternative site – supported with amendments

Questions on Notice regarding updates on negotiations with Bambara land acquisitions and an addition to a Notice of Motion inserting a time frame on action

Asking the Environment Committee to lodge a submission with the DoPI requesting Ecologically Sustainable Development be included as a core principle within the proposed changes to the NSW Planning Bill

One of 15 councillors who lodged an individual submission with the DoPI regarding proposed changes to the NSW Planning Bill

General Manager went on ABC Local to encourage people to lodge submissions with DoPI regarding proposed changes to the NSW Planning Bill at my request

Lodged an Urgency Motion regarding writing to DoPI to request Ecologically Sustainable Development be included as a Core Principle – supported unanimously

Put additions to NOM regarding Rocla Sand Quarry asking Council to seek advice in order to join any legal action as a minor party and to also request licencing information from NSW Office of Water, DoPI and Rocla themselves.

Accountable Council:

Have ensured senior management, including the General Manager, are aware of the issues with the current website. Council is currently in the process of reviewing the website format. New ways of communicating with the general public have been instigated by the General Manager

Developed great working relationships with all Councillors based on mutual respect and the philosophical approach to agree to disagree

Informal investigation of costs and legal ramifications of recording public meetings

Community Involvement:

NOM Requesting Council to seek an extension of deadline for submissions for Calga expansion from DoPI – supported unanimously by Councillors, DoPI refused to extend

Supported Mountain residents regarding the illegal operation of a helicopter drop zone that was eventually shut down

Supported Mountain residents regarding the saga that continues to be Mangrove Mountain Landfill disguised as remodelling of the existing golf course

Supported Mountain residents regarding the planning outcome of Rindean Sand Mine – rejected by JRPP

Councillor Bowles, Scott and myself requested a policy change which required Gosford City Council to join the growing number of councils who ban wild animal displays in travelling circuses. This did not get majority support.

Lodged a rescission motion to stall further investigations by Council regarding the financial viability in operating childcare centres and their long term viability – Council had made an earlier resolution for a financial year to have run prior to investigation. This year wasn’t up

Guest speaker at Protection our Planet community action day at Erina

Urgency motion on the unfairness of the Early Intervention Bill for Local Councils which gave unfair powers to the State Govt to shut down Councils – supported unanimously

NOM on ensuring the State Govt continues with its election promise of no forced amalgamations of local councils – supported unanimously

Attended many Council run events for local community projects

NOM asking Council to seek a review of major roads for inclusion in the RMS road scheme rather than being the responsibility of Council

Supported the community regarding their objection to the expansion of Rocla Sand Quarry at Calga by attending the Council meeting with PAC where I was able to talk, the following community meeting and the protest two weeks ago outside the gates of Rocla

Still a volunteer with both Gosford & Kariong High Schools as canteen helper

Ensured all members of the Avoca Beach community are included in discussions regarding the South Avoca Beach plan of management

Green Economy:

Assisted Glenworth Valley in getting important changes through for their planning proposal to allow Eco Tourism development

Encouraged Council to engage with and assist the Central Coast Community Energy Network regarding potential clean energy supply to Council buildings

Engaged with the Narara Eco Village to support their aim of development an eco-community at the site of the former research station

Worked with the Brisbane Water Oyster festival organisers and the local branch of the Australian Conservation Foundation to introduce recycling at the event

Gosford City Council, although not having a dedicated Sustainability Officer, does have a Carbon & Energy Officer who focuses on reducing Council’s greenhouse gas emissions. Council also has a Waste Officer, their primary focus is reducing waste throughout the LGA. Council currently has the Draft Waste Strategy on exhibition until 6 February 2014.

Coal Seam Gas:

NOM on Council was to ask the State Govt for protection against Coal Seam Gas extraction in the Gosford LGA. Whilst supported by all but three Councillors, there are still no assurances from the State Govt that no fracking will occur in the LGA – with a licence in place for exploration across the entire LGA, including the coast, valleys and mountain.

Participated in public presentations from both NSW Farmers and Lock the Gate Alliance regarding impact of Coal Seam Gas and action that can be taken by the community.

Working with Neighbours:

Ensuring respectful relations are maintained with Wyong Councillors through attendance at Council functions and Central Coast Region of Councils meetings

Joint Regional Arts strategy and many other joint programmes are currently being undertaken between Councils. Unfortunately, with the Local Government Review still in the process, it has been difficult for either Council to move forward on joint programmes due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome and the recommendation form the Review Panel for Councils not to proceed with the Joint Water Authority strategy.

weekly update

Posted by gosfordpip on November 16, 2013 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Kevin's left the parliament, the PM's left the country, it's time to say adios.

But first, the learnings from Friday 

People are much nicer to you once you've quit than when you're actually doing the job;

Nobody is satisfied with the amount of information being supplied under Operation Sovereign Borders. Unless their name happens to be Scott Morrison and they have the folder;

Opacity is a word (ping Arthur Sinodinos); and

The debt ceiling is not a home renovation gone wrong, it is a tortured political debate likely to last for at least two more weeks.



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Posted by gosfordpip on November 16, 2013 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Cutting minimum wage would create US-style working poor, say aid agencies


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Slashing the minimum wage would create a class of working poor similar to that in the United States, where homeless shelters are overflowing with full-time workers.

This is the damning view of aid agencies responding to comments last week by Maurice Newman, the chairman of Tony Abbott's Business Advisory Council, who lamented that Australia's minimum wage was far higher than that of Britain, the US and Canada, a position echoed by economist Ross Garnaut in his latest book, Dog Days: Australia after the Boom, which was launched on Friday.

Mr Garnaut would freeze the wages of the low paid but soften the blow by introducing new tax measures.

"When we're $US33,500 and the US itself is only $US15,080 you can see there's an enormous disparity," Mr Newman said.


He also criticised the Gillard government's commitment to Gonski education reforms and DisabilityCare. Mr Newman characterised the initiatives as good causes the economy couldn't afford.

Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Tony Nicholson said Mr Newman was "out of touch with the realities of a modern economy and society".

He wondered if "Mr Newman was aware that homeless shelters in the US were overflowing with full-time workers earning the minimum wage [$US7.25 an hour under federal law].''

Mr Nicholson said that Australians on the minimum wage of $622 a week, and paying median rent in Melbourne or Sydney, were left with $44 a day for food, transport and utilities.

"They are living from week to week," he said. "When their car breaks down, they have a choice of either fixing the car, which they rely on to get to work, and fall behind in the rent . . . which is the slippery slope to eviction."

The only choice for low-wage earners in crisis is to turn to aid agencies for emergency relief or "to get in the grip of payday lenders".

St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive Dr John Falzon said his organisation was already assisting an increasing number of working people suffering financial stress.

Lowering the minium wage, he said, would result in a society where significant numbers of people in paid work would rely on charity to make ends meet from week to week.

"We're only able to lend a hand because of the big-heartedness of ordinary people in the community, many of whom are struggling to get by themselves."

Brian Howe, a former deputy prime minister in the Keating government – and honorary professor in social and political sciences at Melbourne University – said it didn't sound as if Maurice Newman "has thought through his ideas".

Mr Howe said research in the US demonstrated that increases in the minimum wage tended to increase employment because they added to consumer demand.

This was counter to the argument that minimum wage increases worked against employment.t

"There is also an argument that paying people well improves motivation and feeds into productivity," he said.

He acknowledged that Australia enjoyed higher wages and welfare benefits relative to the US, and the "make work pay" policy has had the effect of decreasing Newstart below the poverty line.

"Newstart is now so far below the minimum wage that there is no incentive for people to be on benefit and not work".

Seriously cutting wages "would help to create a working poor such as exists in the USA", he said.

According to a report by the National Institute of Labour Studies, commissioned by the Australian Fair Pay Commission in 2006, 10 per cent of adult employees, excluding juniors and workers who are not employees, receive an hourly wage of less than or equal to the federal minimum wage.



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Tony abbot and Constitutional recognition

Posted by gosfordpip on October 15, 2013 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)


Abbott to complete constitutional journey of recognition for indigenous


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THE long journey to the recognition of Aboriginal people in the Constitution has begun, with hundreds of people joining former AFL legend Michael Long to take the first symbolic steps along Melbourne's Yarra River.


Tony Abbott walked the first short leg and declared it was the beginning of an important journey.


With the bells of St Paul's Cathedral peeling in the background, he told the crowd, "Our forefathers have created one of the most magnificent countries on Earth, perhaps the most magnificent country on Earth, except in one respect - we have never properly acknowledged the first Australians.


"Aboriginal people were here in 1788, they are here 225 years later - 225 often difficult years later. Then, it was them and us. Today, it should be us and us.


MICHAEL LONG: Time to fix Constitution


"The Aboriginal dimension is as much a part of Australia as our law, our language and our democracy. That is why it must finally be acknowledged in our national Constitution.


"I see acknowledging Aboriginal people in our Constitution not as changing it, but as completing it.


"I don't for a second underestimate the length of the journey, or the distractions there may be along the way. But it must be done, if we are to be whole as a people and as a nation."


To great applause, he said, "May the bells peel for a new Australia."


Actor Aaron Pedersen, calling Mr Abbott "Uncle Tony", read a message from Julia Gillard saying she looked forward "with all my heart" to the day when Aboriginal people would be recognised in the Constitution.


She said the Journey to Recognition, a national relay inspired by Long's walk to Canberra nine years ago, was an important grassroots campaign that would help build momentum for constitutional reform and would bring communities "the message that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history hold a unique and special place in our nation".




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Posted by gosfordpip on July 26, 2013 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Tony Abbott says WorkChoices is “dead, buried and cremated”, but his new IR policy leaves the door open for radical workplace relations changes, writes Luke Williams.

 JUST BEFORE the 2007 Federal election, I was sitting in a hairdressing salon on a bright, brilliant spring day in suburban Brisbane. The salon manager who had previously voted Liberal told me she wouldn’t be this time because:

 “The Liberal Party only looks after the rich.”

 The election result is now history and, while the she didn’t say it, I felt like there was a clear subtext — WorkChoices.

 The political risk of their workplace policy is clearly not lost on Tony Abbott. The Coalition’s industrial relations policies run the risk of not just WorkChoices déjà vu, but it also underlines the potential gap between their philosophy, the expectations of the business and the relatively egalitarian values of suburban and regional Australia.

 Abbott timed his IR policy announcement brilliantly — just before budget week. This meant analysis of his scheme was limited too just a day or so in the media, leaving his most contentious claims only partially challenged and somewhat forgotten.

 Needless to say, Abbott has been treading very carefully on industrial relations – with the help of some handy three word slogans – while he says Australia has a


“…militancy problem, a productivity problem, and a flexibility problem.”

WorkChoices, he assures us, is “dead, buried and cremated” and, therefore, he will undertake “cautious, careful, responsible change” of the Fair Work Act.

 When Abbott announced his long awaited workplace relations policy – and, surprisingly, the magic number did not appear, nor did anything of much substance either – it has been difficult to know exactly Abbott has been planning on IR and today’s announcement doesn’t make things much easier.


One thing is clear — his main target seems to be unions.


For instance, Abbott said:


“I want to assure all the workers of Australia – unionised and non-unionised – that they can trust their future in our hands. This policy will, however, make life more difficult for militant building unions and dishonest union officials who continue to abuse their position … we make no apology for that.”


With the HSU corruption scandal and given that only around 18% of the public are union members (more than half of which are mainly non-Coalition voting public servants), I don’t think Abbott is going to make too many enemies with that one. He has also promised to crack down on union right of entry — a fringe issue, unlike wages, conditions and penalty rates, which were unfettered by Thursday’s announcement.


Is Abbott advocating a return to AWAs?


By-far the most controversial aspect to the Federal Coalition’s industrial relations policy announcement is their promise to expand the use of individual flexibility arrangements in enterprise agreements.


The move has prompted the ACTU to accuse the Tony Abbott of bring back “individual contracts to the heart of the IR system” thereby undermining the ability of workers to collectively bargain and potentially bring about a return to “WorkChoices-style individual agreements”.




So just how does Abbott’s flagged agreement-making changes compare to the Howard Government’s AWAs and the current IFA’s under the Fair Work Act?


Well, the first point to note is that IFAs were introduced by Labor in 2009 — at the same time they abolished AWA’s.


AWA’s were first introduced in 1996 by the Howard Government; it was an agreement between an individual (or group of individuals) and an employer setting out wages and conditions. The AWA was designed to promote individualism and flexibility. They could depart from enterprise agreement and award wages and conditions providing it left the worker at ‘no disadvantage’ (the No-Disadvantage Test).


AWA’s could be given on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis and had to be registered with and approved by the Office of the Employment Advocate before they became legally binding


Then WorkChoices came along and radically re-shaped the industrial relations framework, most famously by removing the No-Disadvantage Test. Instead, the Howard Government created a new, narrow, safety net that meant agreements had to abide by just five minimum national employment standards.


As we know, WorkChoices proved an electoral disaster for the Howard Government. Leaked data showed that median AWA earnings in 2006 were 16.3% below median earnings for collective agreement employees (15.4% for non-managerial men and 18.7% for non-managerial women). The data also revealed that in May–September 2006, 68% of AWAs abolished penalty rates (up 26% on 2002–03), 52% abolished overtime pay (up 107% on 2002–03) and 76% excluded shift-work loading.


In this way, WorkChoices was criticised for ignoring the power imbalance in negotiations between many employees and employers.




After the ALP was elected in 2007, it introduced the Fair Work Act and ditched AWA’s. By the then Rudd Government’s Policy Implementation Plan, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to end statutory individual employment agreements, noting that


‘…AWAs have resulted in working Australians losing penalty rates, overtime, shift allowances and redundancy entitlements with no compensation.’


Confusingly, the Fair Work Act did introduce a provision for mandatory flexibility clauses within enterprise agreements, which permitted the use of individual flexibility arrangement (IFA). This allowed flexibility only about arrangements for when work is performed, overtime rates, penalty rates, allowances and leave loading or any other matter covered in an enterprise agreement.


Because an IFA is part of an enterprise or award-based agreement, it is not a separate statutory contract (that is, it is not an individual workplace agreement) and therefore cannot be used on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis upon entering an employment agreement. It must be negotiated once the employment contract has already been secured.


The IFA must also “be genuinely agreed to by the employee” and can be terminated by the employee with 28 days’ notice.


Crucially, the ALP also introduced a ‘Better-Off Overall Test’ which means an employee on an IFA must be better-off rather than not at a disadvantage, measured against either the award or enterprise agreement.


The IFA also exists against a backdrop of ten employment standards that cannot be bargained down, rather than the five of WorkChoices — so the BOOT presents a higher bar on a number of levels.


Currently, IFA’s are used by more employers than AWA’s ever were (about one in ten) – commonly used in the retail and construction industries as well as by big employers.


Unlike pre-WorkChoices AWA’s, IFA’s do not need to be approved by an external body to be legally binding.




Abbott’s proposal


Abbott has promised to retain the BOOT, but he has said it will no longer be restricted to the terms of the enterprise agreement and will extend the employee termination notice period from 28 days to 13 weeks (as recommended by the Fair Work Act Review report).


As IFA’s will no longer be restricted to the terms of an enterprise agreement, they will now be able to cover a broader range of matters — a fact which can potentially cut both ways. In this way, his reform suggests a soft return to AWA’s, but the other crucial elements – the BOOT and the national employment standards – look certain to remain in the short term.


Under the current Act, agreement making between an individual worker and an employee is prohibited and the Coalition have not said they would or would not change this. This change would determine whether or not an IFA could be offered as at term of an employment contract.


But as it stands, the Abbott proposal is really not much like the original AWA’s and nothing like WorkChoices AWA’s. However, as I will explain later, there is evidence to suggest there would be more changes under an Abbott government.


Muzzling the right to strike


Abbott also says the Act would be changed to ensure that if protected industrial action is to occur, the parties involved have been “talking first and striking later”.


This is even more puzzling as strike options have been kept in check under the current legislation. In order for the Commission to authorise protected ballot action, parties must show they have been ‘genuinely trying to reach agreement’ and requires authorisation by a majority of employees in a secret ballot (WorkChoices amendments, which were retained under the Fair Work Act). So really, ‘talking’ or negotiation is already a pre-requisite for taking industrial action.


The most likely change the Coalition would make is to re-introduce WorkChoices narrow ‘permitted content’ and ‘unlawful terms’ provisions, which limit the content of both enterprise agreements and the basis for a strike.


But it is worthwhile to note that WorkChoices restrictions, which significantly reduced the right to strike, were left largely un-tinkered with by the Fair Work Act. Below is a table based on DEEWR figures, which featured in the Fair Work Act Review. It shows the number of working days lost to strike per year per 1000 employees – indicating that despite reports of rising industrial disputes, a wider historical perspective cast some doubts on those claims.




Indeed, the first quarter of the Fair Work Act‘s operation saw a lower level of industrial action than the last quarter of WorkChoices.


In a speech by the then Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard prior to the introduction of the Act, Gillard alluded to Labor’s commitment to uphold most of the WorkChoices’ restrictions on industrial actions, saying it was her Government’s determination to stamp out snap strikes or bans that “have devastating effects on employers with time-critical processes”.


Indeed, as Ron McCallum – co-author of the Fair Work Act Review and Professor in Industrial Law in the Faculty of Law of the University – told the ABC’s PM program in 2011:


“The power of the employer to close and to disinvest is much stronger than any powers that employees have and I think we’re seeing an increased corporatisation of labour law and using the corporations power is one step along that line…the Labor Government understand that in this globalised world, corporations, which are bringing in taxpayer’s money to the government need to operate as a profit.”




Liberal party values and egalitarianism


In any event, it’s fair to say Abbott is no IR ideologue like Costello or Howard. Historically, Abbott’s passions lie in tradition, history and social values; it must be remembered he was once a Santamaria follower – an anti-Communist, who was also against the excesses of individualising capitalism. It’s fair to say he’s not as centrist as he makes out either and he will inevitably face pressures from elements within his backbench, who are much more zealous about the Liberal party individualist philosophy.


And there is an important caveat to all of this; while the Coalition have promised not to change the Act beyond what they have announced, they have also said if they win Government they will task the Productivity Commission with reviewing the laws,which begs the obvious question, what if the PC recommend (as they probably will) wide-ranging changes? This seems to be the most obvious contradiction in Abbott’s policy paper and a clear out-clause to allow him to pursue more fundamental neoliberal workplace reform in any future terms to come.


Abbott knows his IR policy is a litmus test for many swinging, somewhat egalitarian suburban voters on what kind of society the Coalition thinks we should live in — therefore radical change is likely; sneaky, incremental reform is a definite; and, despite the oft-repeated claims of the business lobby, arguably the pendulum has already swung.


(You can follow Luke Williams on Twitter at @lukejwilliams80.)




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THE PUP and the Dinosaurs

Posted by gosfordpip on July 26, 2013 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Billionaire businessman Clive Palmer has been given the go-ahead to build the world's biggest dinosaur park on the grounds of his Sunshine Coast resort - as long as they don't roar too loudly.


The Sunshine Coast regional council voted unanimously to approve the plans which include 149 life-size dinosaur models to join the already existing eight-metre tall T-Rex named Jeff, and a vintage car museum, all within the grounds of Palmer's Coolum resort.


The approval was subject to 30 conditions, including noise and environmental concerns and on the proviso that all models would abide by various height restrictions of a maximum six metres, except for a Ruyangosaurus which will stand 10 metres tall.


Roaring from the dinosaurs must not exceed 5 decibels above background noise levels. No vegetation is proposed to be removed and the resort site's environmentally sensitive areas are to be protected.


The council received almost 200 objections including concerns about parking and noise, and that the park's existence would devalue the area.


However, it was found that "the vintage car museum and the dinosaur park would establish new tourist exhibits to attract patrons to the resort," according to the minutes of the council meeting.


"The new attractions are internal to the resort and would, therefore, not impact on the character of the area."


In March this year, Palmer launched his plans to build Titanic II, a replica of the doomed cruise vessel. This week it was reported that several UAE companies were keen to bring the ship into Dubai once built.


There were also rumours this month the Palmer was looking at launching a newspaper, after it was revealed he had registered the names "The Australia Times" and "The Australasian Times". Palmer dismissed the rumours, saying "we never said we'd do anything with it, so it's just media speculation. There's no plans to at this stage."


Palmer has been contacted for comment on the dinosaur park. He is currently contesting the federal election through his Palmer United Party

Kevin Rudd wins back labor leadership

Posted by gosfordpip on June 26, 2013 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Kevin Rudd has completed one the great political comebacks in Australian history by reclaiming the prime ministership from Julia Gillard in a party room vote in Canberra tonight, 57 votes to 45.


Earlier, Victorian factional heavyweight Bill Shorten switched his allegiance from Ms Gillard, whom he supported as late as this morning, to Rudd. Rudd is now seen by many as the ALP’s only hope of avoiding an electoral wipeout in the September 14 election.


Outgoing leader Julia Gillard had said prior to the vote that she would resign from Parliament if she lost the leadership ballot.


The result leaves critical constitutional questions over whether an early election will be called.


Expert comment follows:


George Williams, Anthony Mason Professor, Scientia Professor, Foundation Director – Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW


The process now is that Julia Gillard will tender her resignation to governor-general Quentin Bryce, and in doing so will advise the governor-general on who to appoint as her replacement. This is likely to be Kevin Rudd on the basis that he is likely to have the confidence of the parliament, but whether or not he has the numbers could be tested on the floor of parliament.


August 3 is the earliest possible date for Rudd to hold an election of both houses of parliament, while November 30 is the latest possible date.


If opposition leader Tony Abbott calls a no confidence motion and it is successfully passed, you would expect he would be given the chance to form government, and in turn you could see if he had the numbers. It is possible that Abbott would not pursue a no confidence motion – he might not want to become prime minister at the end of the term – but might instead push for an early election.


In these scenarios you look to what the independents as the kingmakers will do. As it is a minority government the Labor leader is not guaranteed to be prime minister, so we wait to see how the uncertainty about their positions will be resolved.


Eva Cox, Professorial Fellow Jumbunna IHL at University of Technology, Sydney


Julia Gillard lost the prime ministership not because she was a woman. She lost the prime ministership because she didn’t connect – there were a whole lot of problems and unfortunately a lot of it’s going to be tagged as a gender issue and I don’t think it was.


I think a lot of the unpleasantness was gendered but I think basically she was not connecting with people and unfortunately it sort of ended up blowing up in this particular way.


It was interesting listening to Rudd’s speech before he went in. He very clearly attacked Abbott on policy and I think that’s what somehow or rather got tangled and it didn’t work. One of the things that I am concerned about is if we do end up with a gender debate on this, that we will end up creating a sort of myth about the whole thing – because every time a man falls over we don’t claim men are incompetent.


When Barack Obama was asked whether his election meant black people had equality, he said, “no, we’ll get equality when we get a stupid black person in power”. I think it’s a bit like that. I think some of the stuff that’s gone around in the last few weeks about gender has really obscured the fact that there has been a major problem of communicating policy within the Labor party. She’s had to wear it and I think we have to blame the party and not the person.


I think Rudd’s got a clearer idea of where it might go and he might actually get some passion back into the party because what it’s been doing at the moment is sort of deadening itself down. There’s no sense of excitement about the Labor party even the fact that they’ve got two fairly good policies, that gets muted down because of all the other ones that don’t work.


I think (Rudd’s leadership) will mean that there won’t be an (electoral) rout. I’ll be very surprised if they got back in but I think at this particular stage it wouldn’t be a rout or they’ll have enough seats in the Senate so as not to give the Coalition government a good go.


Labor has got the capacity to spring back from this because I think there’s a Labor vision. One of the things that Rudd said, and I’ve heard it again and again, people felt the moment they didn’t want to vote for either major party and I think what Rudd will give people is a reason to vote Labor.


Geoffrey Robinson, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University


I think today showed that ultimately the desire to minimise losses at the next election is what motivated Labor MPs. It took a long time for that to happen but it happened.


Now it’s a matter of the government focusing on the election. The party will unite reasonably well, but voters will not forgive these dramas fairly quickly. The popularity issue isn’t going to be fixed: there is still the carbon tax, the asylum seeker issue, issues about the economy.


Labor now have a slightly bigger chance, but they still don’t have much of a chance. It will minimise some losses, like Queensland, which looks a complete disaster area, and New South Wales as well.


There should be a focus on left wing issues like carbon pricing, asylum seekers. Is marriage equality an issue that can be put on the agenda? This could reel in leftist voters that may have been lost to the Greens.



Hazel Hawke sucumbs

Posted by gosfordpip on May 23, 2013 at 6:45 AM Comments comments (0)


Hazel Hawke, the ex-wife of former prime minister Bob Hawke, died today after complications of dementia at the age of 83.


She was a passionate campaigner for women's rights, and after her diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease in the early 2000s, used her profile to raise dementia awareness.


Hazel Hawke, nee Masterson




Born in Perth in 1929.

Married Bob Hawke aged 26 in 1956.

Bob Hawke served as PM from 1983 to 1991.

After almost 40 years, the couple divorced in 1995.

Revealed she had Alzheimer's disease in 2003.

Established the Hazel Hawke Alzheimer's Research and Care Fund.

Died May 23, 2013.

She is survived by three children and six grandchildren.

Born in Perth in 1929, Hazel Masterson married a young, ambitious Bob Hawke in 1956 at the age of 26.


The couple had four children, although one died in infancy.


When her husband was elected prime minister in 1983 their family life changed forever.


They called The Lodge home for the next eight years and Hazel Hawke embraced the role of first lady.


A talented pianist, she campaigned on abortion, reconciliation, drug education, welfare and the arts.


Hazel Hawke's role as Australia's first lady was over in 1991 after Mr Hawke lost a leadership ballot to Paul Keating.


However, she continued her role in public life, campaigning on issues such as women's rights to abortion.


She spoke from experience, having had an abortion so her future husband could pursue a Rhodes scholarship in the UK.


"I didn't feel it was wrong. I felt it was in the circumstances ... it was the only rational, logical thing to do," she said when asked about it years later.


After almost 40 years together the pair divorced in 1995.


In 2003, she again put her life in the spotlight, appearing on the ABC's Australian Story to reveal she had Alzheimer's disease.


"I wouldn't have chosen to have Alzheimer's, but it's ... I like my life," she told the program.


"The only thing I would name as [a] loss is that I've lost my driver's licence, and that's just obligatory as soon as the big 'A' is mentioned.


"Even though I felt it was a bit ... it was a bit rough because I'm a competent driver. But even that doesn't bother me now."


Hazel Hawke established a research fund but as her condition worsened she slowly retreated from public life.


Hazel Hawke's dementia advocacy to leave 'lasting legacy'


Australian of the Year Ita Buttrose, the president of Alzheimer's Australia, said many Australians will feel a sense of personal loss from Hazel Hawke's passing.


"Hazel Hawke's life was a life to celebrate and one devoted to many causes and especially those Australians who suffered disadvantage," she said.


"Hazel embodied a sense of fairness and concern for other Australians. She was the first and only well-known Australian to speak publicly about her life with Alzheimer's disease.


"Her courage to speak openly about her dementia journey has left a lasting legacy in raising the profile of Alzheimer's disease and reducing the strong sense of isolation that thousands of Australians with dementia experience.


Ordinary Australians saw the best of themselves in Hazel – many women of her generation will feel they have lost a friend

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

"It took remarkable courage to make public appearances after her diagnosis in order to raise awareness of the disease and tackle stigma head on.


"Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go out to Hazel's children: Sue, Stephen and Roslyn and their respective families."


Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a statement that she is sad to learn of Hazel Hawke's passing.


"Ordinary Australians saw the best of themselves in Hazel – many women of her generation will feel they have lost a friend," she said.


"Hazel was one of those rare people who are liked and respected in equal measure. Her warmth and generosity of spirit in success were only matched by her courage and dignity in adversity.


"Bob Hawke's public achievements in the union movement and in Government are unthinkable without Hazel's steadfast support."

Glenn Rees, chief executive of Alzheimer's Australia, said Hazel Hawke's revelation about her Alzheimer's on Australian Story left an indelible mark.


"She made a great and personal commitment to dementia research and particularly to improving the quality of dementia care through the Hazel Hawke Alzheimer's Research and Care Fund," he said.


Her daughter, Sue Pieters-Hawke, told Australian Story in 2003 that Alzheimer's affects the whole family.


"I suppose it's just coming to terms with the grief and the impact of it, and then getting on with it and making sure that mum has a happy life and that we support her to do that," she said.


"And yes, sometimes that's hard, but in another sense it is a pleasure to do that and to participate with the rest of my family in doing that."


Hazel Hawke's family said in a statement that they appreciate the public's affection, but have asked for privacy.


They say there will be a private funeral for family and friends, with a public memorial to be held at a later date.

Political donations

Posted by gosfordpip on May 8, 2013 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Torbay linked to lifting of heritage order on donor's property



Former speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly Richard Torbay has been directly linked to the lifting of the heritage listing on a property owned by a major campaign donor.


('The developer, the $100k gift and the 'highly effective' MP' Sydney Morning Herald 9 May, p. 1,


Documents obtained by Greens NSW MP John Kaye show that Mr Torbay set up a meeting between the then Planning Minister Tony Kelly and the owners of the heritage-listed property Graham McCullagh.


Six months later Mr Torbay received a $100,000 donation from a McCullagh-owned company.





Georgiana and Graham McCullagh own GEGM Investments, which made a $100,000 donation to Torbay on 21 December 2012.


The McCullaghs also own the property and building known as Peroomba, 11 Harrington Avenue Warrawee, on which then Planning Minister Tony Kelly imposed a 12 month Interim Heritage Order on 15 June 2010.


The order was lifted on 13 August 2010 by order of the Minister Kelly, despite a draft independent heritage assessment deeming the property has significant local heritage value.


Documents obtained by Greens MP John Kaye through a NSW Upper House call for papers demonstrate Torbay's involvement:


Document 19: Emails establishing meeting between Minister Kelly, Speaker Torbay and Property owner McCullagh at the request of Torbay 21/22 June 2010


An email trail dated from 21 to 22 June 2010 starts with Margaret McDonald, Torbay's Private Secretary, requesting on behalf of McCullagh a meeting to discuss the interim heritage listing of Peroomba.


Mr Kelly’s staff member agreed the meeting and which occurred on 23 June.


A Department of Planning briefing note titled “Meeting with Richard Torbay

and Cameron McCullagh Re: Peroomba” was also drafted for Mr Kelly for the

purposes of the meeting.


Document 23: Email correspondence between Manager, Listings Team, Heritage Branch and Tom Gellibrand on commissioning of Tropman and Tropman for Heritage Assessment of Peroomba late June early July 2010


In this email correspondence, a Mr McCullagh is expressing his concerns over the veracity of claims that Peroomba has heritage significance.


McCullagh requests that he be shown the heritage report before it is finalised, and if this is not granted he wishes to speak with the

Minister’s office and he has “assurances that this will be possible at very short notice (therefore will not unduly slow the process)”


Document 25: Draft Heritage Assessment and Comparative analysis submitted by Heritage Architects Tropman and Tropman as annotated by Heritage Branch

July 2010


Page 39 of the report states in “Conclusions on Heritage Significance” that


“Peroomba….meets six (6) of the seven (7) criteria. Peroomba…is of local heritage significance"


The draft report goes on to recommend on page 49 that


“7.1 Peroomba…should be considered for heritage listing as a Local Item of Significance...

7.2 Peroomba should be appropriately conserved, including significant

building fabric and garden components. Some adaption would be acceptable.”


Document 26: Email to Tropman and Tropman regarding the Heritage Branch comments on Heritage Assessment and Comparative Analysis 15 July 2010


An email from the Heritage Branch to Tropman and Tropman requests that the local heritage status, rather than state significance, be stressed in the report.


Document 27: Peroomba, Heritage Assessment and Comparative Analysis submitted by Heritage Architects Tropman and Tropman July 2010


In issue 2 of the Heritage Assessment and Comparative Analysis, the recommendations appear markedly different from the first version, with

conclusions of stand-alone local heritage significance removed. The report



“7.1 Peroomba house and associated curtilage….should be considered as a contributory item to the Kur-ring-gai local government area…


“7.2 Peroomba should be appropriately managed, as part of a possible conservation area.”


Significant changes between the drafts include:

¨ Downgrading from 'heritage listing' to 'contributory item'

¨ Downgrading from 'appropriately conserved' to 'appropriately managed'


Document 31: Letters to Mr and Mrs McCullagh (owners) and general manager

Kur-ring-gai council 13 August 2010


The Minister informs the owners and the general manager Kur-ring-gai council John McKee that the heritage assessment of Peroomba concluded that “the property does not meet the threshold for inclusion either on the state Heritage Register or Kur-ring-gai’s Local Environmental Plan.”


Consequently the Minister advised that the Interim Heritage Order had been revoked.




John Kaye

Greens NSW MP

phone: 0407 195 455


Inescapable racism: Reflections of a 'proud refugee'

Posted by gosfordpip on May 4, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)


Inescapable racism: Reflections of a 'proud refugee'

Mariam Veiszadeh ABC RELIGION AND ETHICS 16 APR 2013


In the wake of the latest racist tirade on a Melbourne train and the tragic loss of life when a boat carrying asylum seekers sank off the coast of Indonesia, I copped some unprovoked abuse on Twitter on Friday evening: "Wish your refugee boat had sunk at sea, bitch."

 Once I had recovered somewhat from the shock of receiving the tweet, I checked the @GregJessop1 Twitter profile which, among other things, indicated that he was an Engineer based in Queensland and worked for Rio Tinto (although his profile did bear the standard Twitter disclaimer, "Opinions mine, do not reflect views of Rio Tinto"). Determined not to stoop to his level, my immediate response to him was, "Lucky for you, I came by plane."

 It was perhaps ironic that, only hours earlier, I had tweeted: "If you witness a racist rant on public transport, don't remain silent. Speak up if it's safe to do so. Silence condones #racist behaviour." I was deeply moved by the actions of Mahmood Reza, an Australian Muslim man who stood up to a drunken woman who was racially abusing a packed Melbourne train last week. I found the incident, which was captured on a passenger's phone and reported to media, deeply disturbing. How many similar incidents occur on public transport throughout Australia, but go unreported?

 Not long after receiving the tweet, I (along with many others) tried to contact Rio Tinto by means of Twitter to bring this matter to their attention. Whether the Twitter profile of @GregJessop1 was fictitious or he did in fact work for Rio Tinto was almost irrelevant - surely he couldn't get away with making such hateful, vile, almost threatening comments and still have references to Rio Tinto in his profile.

 There have been countless victims of social media abuse, Charlotte Dawson being a notable example. Dawson's online tormentors drove her to become suicidal. In many cases, these unidentifiable Twitter trolls are never held to account because they are untraceable. In my case, @GregJessop1 volunteered information about Rio Tinto in his Twitter profile and I used this information as a legitimate means to hold him, and people like him, to account.


@GregJessop1 was clearly rattled by all the attention his offending tweet had generated. He deleted the tweet and then tried to suggest that I photoshoped the screen shot of the offending tweet. But what baffled me most was his response to someone who questioned how Rio Tinto would feel about his hateful tweets: "at work, I'm on work time and $. If they want me to be respectful, so be it. On my time, i'll do as I please."


I was also subsequently advised by others on Twitter that I should have the phrase "proud Aussie" in my Twitter profile, rather than "proud Refugee." I use this phrase in my profile, not because I am an ungrateful Aussie, but because I want to demonstrate that refugees are educated and active participants in our community. Ultimately, I want to help change perceptions. Moreover, if my actions don't demonstrate my gratitude, how would a label somehow do the trick? And why must I assert my level of Australianness every minute of the day? Excessive pride and racial hate speech should be viewed in the same manner - both are entirely unnecessary, really.


Since Friday, I've been overwhelmed by messages of support and compassion, and indeed by offers from strangers to help me. For every instance of abuse, there are many expressions of compassion and solidarity. Perhaps the one that has meant the most to me was from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser: "I am deeply sorry you had to experience that, some people are so insensitive and stupid, try not to let worry you." Mr Fraser, of course has been especially vocal in recent times and spoken out about the plight of asylum seekers - if only some of our incumbent politicians shared and expressed his same convictions!

 Yesterday afternoon, I received a response from Rio Tinto, as well as a call from their media representative, who assured me that they had commenced their investigations on Friday evening. It is comforting to know that an organisation like Rio Tinto would never condone such behaviour.

 Irrespective of whether he is a mere Twitter troll or an actual Rio Tinto employee, the attitude of @GregJessop1 is indicative of a deeper malaise in this wonderful country of ours: a high level of low level racism, a form of racism Waleed Aly has described as "subterranean racism." I used to think that on social media people were more inclined to make irrational and utterly vile comments under the cover of false identities than they would in person, in real situations. But the recent racial rants on public transport which has been reported in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and even Canberra disprove this theory.

 But this begs the question: what is the root cause of this type of hateful bigotry? Wherever this bigotry stems from, there is little doubt that the current and thoroughly toxic political debate which wilfully demonises asylum seekers is fuelling it. There have been hundreds of op-eds written by advocates across the political spectrum criticising the character of political debate about asylum seekers, and there is nothing I can recount here that hasn't been written many times before: that, compared to other refugee-hosting countries, Australia receives a very small number of asylum applications and we are in no danger of being "swamped"; or that we are a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention and are in breach of Article 31 every time we load men, women and children onto a bus at Christmas Island and then transport and "detain" them for an indefinite period of time; or that the countless health-care professionals have advised that indefinite detention leads to irreparable mental damage and ultimately, in some cases, to suicide. But we have all heard that before.


Australia's refugee policy is symptomatic of a political preparedness to pander to short-term electoral interest over tenable long-term planning, much less humanitarian concern. With a federal election looming and an incumbent government needing to pull a political rabbit out the hat, it is hard to see how things could improve - indeed, the likelihood is that the politicking at the expense of asylum seekers will only get worse.


But our politicians' nonsensical and frequently inhumane remarks about asylum seeker policy are partly, if not largely, based on what they believe Australians want. If the brutal logic of deterrence, of "stopping the boats," wasn't a vote-winner and didn't represent an advantage in the opinion polls, surely the political discourse would be different. We, my friends, are part of the problem. It's time to become part of the solution.


Mariam Veiszadeh is a lawyer, writer and Welcome to Australia ambassador.