by Alan Thornhill
Malcolm Turnbull expects the United Nations conference on climate change to proceed despite this weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
The conference is due to start in Paris on November 30.
Speaking in an ABC television interview early today, the Prime Minister declared that he would attend.
“….if it goes ahead, which I’m sure it will, I will certainly be there, as indeed will other ministers,” Mr Turnbull said.
He also declared that Australians stand solidly with the French in their fight against terrorism.
“To the people of France, I say on behalf of the Australian people: as we have on so many occasions in the past, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you.”
“ Your battle is our battle. “
“Your battle for freedom is our battle for our freedom.”
The attack in Paris was an attack on all humanity.”
“We are in a common cause and we have a single common purpose – to defend our values and our way of life, and to defeat these terrorists and their assault upon us. “
Then he added:“To the Australian people, I can say this: we are a strong nation.”
“We are a united nation.”
“We are the most successful multicultural nation in the world.”
“And we are so because of being united in defence of our values, our values of freedom.”?
“We have strong and capable security services.”
“They keep us safe at home and, so far as they can, when we are abroad.”
However he added:“…there’s no reason to be complacent.”
“But we have every reason to be assured that our nation is safe.”
“We will always be alert to threats as they develop.”
“But we can be assured that our police, our security services, are working hard to keep us safe,” Mr Turnbull said.
by Alan Thornhill
Australians will now get access to fast internet sooner – and cheaper – than they would have under Labor’s plan, according to the government.
The new Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, made these claims in a radio interview today,
Speaking on the ABC’s AM program, he said the government is planning a three year roll out for Australia’s fast internet, through the National Broadband Network (NBN).Mr Fifield said:“That is a multi-technology mix approach.
“We are not focused, we are not fixated with a single technology type.”
“The instructions to the NBN are to rollout the NBN as fast, as fast as possible and as affordably as possible.”
“ The multi-technology mix enables that and one of the key reasons why we can really ramp up the NBN is because we’re including HFC TV cables and this three year rollout program for the first time details when and where the HFC network will be upgraded so that people can access NBN faster.”
“ And I’ve got to say, under our approach compared to Stephen Conroy’s, Australians will access NBN six to eight years sooner than they would have under his plan, and at $20 to $30 billion dollars less cost.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government is to buy 1,100 locally built Hawkei protected vehicles and more than 1,000 trailers to strengthen Australia’s defence force.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister, Marise Payne,who made the announcement today, said waa a great day for the army.
They said: “under a $1.3 billion agreement, the vehicles will be manufactured at Thales Australia’s production line in Bendigo, creating 170 jobs there and another 60 jobs in Victoria.”
The Opposition welcomed the announcement, saying it would secure 170 jobs for five years.
Mr Turnbull also said there is a “very big export potential” for this type of vehicle.
It is light enough to be transported by helicopter.
“The addressable market for a vehicle of this kind is enormous,” the Prime Minister said.
But he warned that the market is “very competitive.”
by Alan Thornhill
A double victory is possible.
The decision the Prime Minister announced yesterday, to take an extra 12,000 refugees, from Syria and the Middle East, did follow a strong campaign by his critics.
And many Australians will regard it as – clearly – “the right thing” to do.
Even if the motives remain questionable.
It is, after all, only a few days since Mr Abbott was declaring that if more refugees were to be taken from Syria, the intake from other areas would have to be cut.
So perhaps Tony is learning to listen.
That would be something.
After all, Tony Windsor – a former – and perhaps future – MP – who knows Mr Abbott well, has described him, in a recent newspaper article, as a “brawler” who would rather fight than govern.
So his softening, on the Syrian refugee issue, might well be seen as a victory, in that sense, too.
Unkind people, of course, will suggest that it has something to do with the upcoming Canning bye-election.
Especially as some pundits have already suggested that Mr Abbott’s grip on his present job, that of Prime Minister, would not survive a poor result for the Liberal candidate in that contest.
Some cynics have even been saying noted that the government’s new intake figure – 12,000 – is just a little bigger than the 11,000 that Labor has been talking about.
But don’t listen.
What harm would there be in giving Mr Abbott a little credit, at least for now, for his decision to take in 12,000 vulnerable people, who have been displaced by war in Syria and Iraq.
That, of course, was only one of three decisions taken yesterday.
The Abbott government also decided to give $44 million to the UNHCR, to purchase blankets and other urgently needed relief supplies, for other displaced people, trapped in the conflict zone.
That decision, too, will probably be given a big tick by most Australians, even if Pauline Hanson is worrying, publicly, about “where the money is coming from.”
Some people are very hard to please.
What, though, of that other decision taken yesterday?
That, of course, is the decision to extend Australian air strikes into Syria.
Even bigger questions still hang over that.
What, realistically, can the Australian government be expecting to achieve, as a result of it, for example?
And, of course, what comes next?
by Alan Thornhill
Australia is to extend its air strikes into Syria. This is the announcement made by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews
The Government has decided to extend Australia’s air strikes against Daesh into Syria.
This marks the next phase of Australia’s contribution to the international coalition effort to disrupt, degrade and ultimately defeat the Daesh death cult.
The decision to expand air operations into Syria has been given careful consideration.
It follows Iraq’s requests for international assistance to strike Daesh strongholds and a formal request from the Obama Administration.
The legal basis for these operations is the collective self-defence of Iraq.
The Daesh death cult does not respect borders and threatens the security of Iraq and the international community from its safe havens in Syria.
Daesh controls a large amount of territory in eastern Syria that serves as a source of recruitment and oil revenues, and as a base from which it continues to launch attacks in both Syria and Iraq.
From Syria, Daesh has been able to operate training bases, conduct planning and preparation for attacks, and move fighters and materiel into, and out of, Iraq.
The extension of the Australian Defence Force’s operations into Syria will help protect Iraq and its people from Daesh attacks inside Iraq and from across the border in Syria.
The Daesh death cult is reaching out to Australians, as terrorist incidents and disrupted attacks here have demonstrated.
Australia joins a number of other nations – including the United States, Canada, Arab countries and Turkey – which are already contributing to the effort against Daesh in Syria.
Australia’s Air Task Group, deployed to the Middle East region, consists of six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.
Australia remains committed to the international effort to counter Daesh, which threatens stability in Iraq and the Middle East and the security of Australians at home and in our region.
As the Government has stated before, the size and nature of Australia’s overall commitment to defeat Daesh will remain under regular review.
This is a decision that is firmly in Australia’s national interest.
It reflects the Government’s steadfast commitment to keeping Australians safe from terrorism, preventing the spread of violent extremism to our shores and responding to a deepening humanitarian crisis.
by Alan Thornhill
Labor is trying to sink the government’s planned changes to shipping laws, saying they would allow foreign shipping operators to undercut locals on Australian tourist routes.
A bitter row over the government’s plan has already led to sharp exchanges, in which one local operator, Bill Milby, demanded an apology from the Prime Minister, after Mr Abbott called him a liar.
The trouble began when Mr Milby, of North Star Cruises, complained last week that a senior Federal bureaucrat had advised him to sack his Australian crew and replace them with cheaper foreign nationals, to keep his company afloat.
Mr Abbott said this controversial advice had never been given – and when Mr Milby insisted that it had – Mr Abbott called him a liar.
However the bureaucrat at the centre of the row admitted later that the matter “had been discussed” in talks with Mr Milby.
That drew a sharp response from Labor.
Anthony Albanese, the shadow minister for transport, issued a statement urging the government to abandon its planned change.
He said:” Tony Abbott must scrap his flawed shipping legislation after confirmation bureaucrats advised a Western Australian cruise ship company that sacking its 60 Australian staff and replacing them with cheap foreign labour would allow it to remain competitive under the draconian changes.”
And he said the Prime Minister must also publicly apologise to Mr Milby North Star Cruises representative Bill Milby for questioning his honesty last week.
Mr Albanese said, too, that the Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss also owes the Parliament an explanation after he misled it yesterday by insisting the advice was never offered.
by Alan Thornhill
Tony Abbott says the interception of seven young Australians, on their way to join terrorists in the Middle East, shows the need for vigorous action to counter this threat.
Border control officers identified and stopped five of the men, said to be in their late 20s and early 30s in the departure area at Sydney airport last week.
The two others were stopped at a separate time.
They had a large amount of cash in their luggage.
But neither the Prime Minister, who spoke briefly of the matter, or his Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, would give any more than the barest details of the case.
The Prime Minister spoke to reporters, as he arrived for a cricket match in Canberra today.
He said the seven young would-be jihadists were apparently planning to join terrorist groups in the Middle East.
“This indicates the continuing allure of this death cult,” Mr Abbott said.
“It shows the importance of the most vigorous action at home and abroad to disrupt, to degrade and to destroy this menace to the freedom and the security of the world,” he added.
His Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, later confirmed later that border authorities had identified and stopped the would-be terrorists.
But he refused to elaborate, beyond saying investigations are under way and he would not be giving a running commentary.
The two groups are said to be separate, but connected.
In both cases, the young men involved made a second attempt to leave Australia the day after they were stopped at the airport for the first time.
Mr Dutton said counter-terrorism units had played a vital role.
“The intercepts that they undertake means that these people do not go into the theatre of war, they do not go into countries like Syria or Iraq to be trained up in terrorism activities and then come back here to perform those acts here on Australian soil,” he said.
“This highlights again the fact that this threat to our country remains current and ongoing.”
Mr Dutton said that in the previous financial year, more than 350 people were stopped trying to travel to the Middle East.
by Alan Thornhill
Joe Hockey says Asia will face an $US8 trillion infrastructure financing shortfall over the coming decade.
To help deal with that gap, the Treasurer said, Australia would become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank.
He introduced enabling legislation into Federal Parliament today.
Mr Hockey said this would be “a significant step to address this challenge.”
” This is a global multilateral initiative that will strive to bring best practice for the delivery of much-needed infrastructure to the region,” he added.
” It will catalyse private sector investment and will co-finance projects with other development banks and private sector financiers.”
Mr Hockey said:”Australia’s prosperity and economic growth is tied closely to the region.
“It is therefore important that Australia is involved in major regional economic initiatives like the Bank.
“On the 29th of June this year, I gave effect to the Government’s commitment to join the AIDB by being the first to sign the Bank’s Articles of Agreement in Beijing.”
Mr Hockey said 49 other countries had followed.
“The decision to join the Bank was made following extensive discussions with key partners inside and outside the region.
“This included participating in negotiations on the Bank’s design with 56 other prospective founding member countries.
“These negotiations resulted in a commitment that the Bank will be based on best practice.
“This will ensure that all members will be involved in the direction and decision making of the Bank,” Mr Hockey said.
“As the fifth-largest regional shareholder of the Bank, Australia will be able to influence the Bank’s decisions and strategic direction,” he added.
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
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