Browsing articles in "Disaster"
Thursday 13th November 2014 - 6:00 pm
Comments Off on Shorten warns on climate change

Shorten warns on climate change

by Alan Thornhill

Bill Shorten warned this evening that the global energy revolution would not wait for Australia.

The Federal Opposition Leader was addressing the Sydney Institute, the day after China and the United States announced a historic deal to tackle climate change.

“The world is not waiting for Australia – because the economic, environmental and security challenges of climate change cannot and will not wait,” Mr Shorten said.

“And the trillion-dollar clean energy revolution will not wait for us either,” he added.

He spoke of the importance of the deal.

“The world’s two largest economies.

“The world’s two biggest polluters.

“The two superpowers whose actions and decisions will define this century and the next.  

“The leaders of the United States and China, standing side-by-side.

“Declaring, wholly and boldly, that global climate change is one of the ‘greatest threats facing humanity.

“Recognising, without caveat or qualification that ‘human activity is already changing the world’s climate system’.

“Acknowledging the effects of global climate change: increased temperatures, rising sea levels, more droughts, more floods, more bushfires and more severe storms.”

Predictably, Mr Shorten warned that the Abbott government is not meeting this challenge.

He said: “The argument that Australia should wait upon the world before addressing climate change has run its course too.

“The world is not waiting for Australia – because the economic, environmental and security challenges of climate change cannot and will not wait.”

Mr Shorten noted that the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, had said, earlier in the day:“I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time,

“I’m focusing on what we’re doing now.”

Mr Shorten responded, with a warning.

“I fear it will not be long before this stubborn isolationism takes a toll on our international competitiveness,” he said.

“Sooner, rather than later, Australia’s refusal to act on climate change will affect our trade negotiations,” he added.

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Tuesday 11th November 2014 - 8:40 am
Comments Off on Lest we forget

Lest we forget

by Alan Thornhill

At 11 am today, Australians will fall silent.

It’s Remembrance Day.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, says:”this Remembrance Day marks 96 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the Great War.”

In a statement to mark the occasion, he also said:”The Great War was the crucible in which our nation’s identity was forged.

“From a population of under five million; 417,000 enlisted, 332,000 served overseas, 152,000 were wounded and 61,000 never came home.

“It was sacrifice on a stupendous scale.

“After the Armistice, we vowed never to forget and today, we renew that vow.

“At 11:00am, wherever we are, Australians will fall silent.

“We pause to remember the suffering and loss that has occurred in all wars, for we are a country of memory, as well as memorials.

“Today, we will remember the courage, achievements, pain and loss of all who have served in our name.

“And we draw strength from their memory,” Mr Abbott said.

In a separate statement, the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, said:”We shall remember them and honour their sacrifice, always.”

Lest we forget.

Wednesday 5th November 2014 - 5:18 pm
Comments Off on Australians to tackle ebola outbreak

Australians to tackle ebola outbreak

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal Government will support Australian volunteers, who help to fight the ebola outbreak in west Africa.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, made the announcement this afternoon.

Mr Abbott said he has now received assurances from Britain that any Australians who contracted the virus in West Africa would be treated as if they were a British citizen.

He has been resisting pressure for direct Australian participation in international efforts to defeat the virus, saying his government does not have the ability to evacuate Australians, if they are infected with the virus.

The Prime Minister said the government woul increase Australia’s $18 million contribution to the response to Ebola in West Africa and strengthen preparations to detect and respond to a possible Ebola case in Australia.

“A health service provider will be contracted to manage and run a 100-bed Ebola treatment facility in Sierra Leone, ” Mr Abbott said.

This would be part of the United Kingdom-led international efforts in that country.

“Discussions are underway with Aspen Medical, an Australian company, in this regard,” he said.

“The Ebola treatment facility will be staffed mainly by local health care workers, supported by a contingent of international staff, including some Australian volunteers,” Mr Abbott added.

Labor welcomed the announcement.

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, said: “There are many Australians who have the skills to help prevent this suffering.

“There are many Australians who wish to volunteer to use their skills, committed and capable doctors and nurses who wish to help in the fight against ebola.”

His Deputy, Tanya Plibersek, has been prominent among those calling for Australian medics to participate in the containment campaign.

She recalled that, before Mr Abbott made his announcement this afternoon.

“Labor has been saying for some time that we know that we have Australians who are trained in this type of work who could offer assistance, who are willing to go,” Ms Plibersek said.

” What’s been missing is support from our government to do that.”

But there were reports early today, that the government was about to relent.

Ms Plibersek welcomed them.

“…if the reports are correct, I think it will be a very important contribution,” she said.

Thursday 30th October 2014 - 4:49 pm
Comments Off on Direct action:the credibility tests

Direct action:the credibility tests

by Alan Thornhill


The Federal government’s now imminent “direct action” policy is based on the idea that enticement will work better than a carbon tax, in tackling climate change.

And Clive Palmer, who did the deal that will make it possible, says that – with 15 changes – the policy is now “completely different” from the one that Tony Abbott first proposed.

But how credible is all this?

That’s the question.

Enticement certainly works well, when we are training dogs.

But it’s a very big leap to suggest that it will be effective in tackling climate change, which most scientists believe is the biggest – and most serious – threat facing our planet.

After all,paying big polluters to cut their emissions, is, at the very least, an untested idea.

It will be expensive, too, costing no less than $2.5 billion.

And the policys’s credibility has already been seriously undermined at several levels.

After all, Tony Abbott owes his leadership of the Liberal party, to what he calls his scepticism, on climate change.

Scepticism he once expressed, by describing climate change as “absolute crap.”

Remember, too, that it was this scepticism that gave Mr Abbott the one vote he needed, to successfully challenge his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, for Liberal leadership.

So he, like Mr Palmer, has a clear, deeply personal, interest in all this.

Clive Palmer, Mr Abbott’s partner in this deal, is no greenie, either.

Coal barons seldom are.

It is difficult to criticise the direct action policy, directly, though.

But that’s because very little detail, of it, has ever been published.

Mr Abbott likes to keep his policies fluid.

Even so, the critics have been coming out in force, today.

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, even recalled that Mr Turnbull, himself, once described direct action as “a farce and a fig leaf.”

The Greens Leader, Christine Milne, was also sceptical.

She said Clive Palmer has helped Mr Abbott demolish emissions trading in favour of a complete sham that benefits coal miners and polluters.

Senator Milne also described the deal as: “… a huge win for coal miners and big polluters.”

“The dodgy and misnamed Direct Action policy will not reduce pollution,” she said.

“It has absolutely no substance at all.”

And she didn’t stop there.

“The dodgy Direct Action scheme is nothing more than voluntary grants that will allow polluters to get their sticky fingers into tax payers’ pockets.

“There is no modelling or any evidence to suggest it will do anything at all to reduce pollution,” Senator Milne said.

Monday 13th October 2014 - 4:30 pm
Comments Off on A cold welcome awaits Putin

A cold welcome awaits Putin

by Alan Thornhill

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, can expect a frosty welcome from Australian leaders, if he chooses to come to the G20 leaders’ meeting, that is to be held in Brisbane next month.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has promised to “shirtfront” Mr Putin, challenging the Russian leader over his role in the downing of the Malaysian Airlines, over Ukraine.

And the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, told reporters today that he would refuse to meet Mr Putin in Australia.

Mr Abbott said he would tell Mr Putin that Australians were murdered by Russian-backed rebels in the Ukraine when MH17 was shot down, and that “we are very unhappy about this”.

The Prime Minister said he accepts that Russia had not wanted the tragedy to occur but “we now demand that you [Russia] fully cooperate with the criminal investigation”.

“”I’m going to shirtfront Mr Putin,” he said.

“I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered.

Bill Shorten has described Vladimir Putin as a bully and said the Russian President should not be welcomed at the G20 leaders’ meeting in Brisbane next month.

The Opposition Leader said he “like most Australians” had been appalled by what’s happened with the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines jet over Eastern Ukraine.

But Mr Shorten conceded that as the conference will be an international event, the government “is between a rock and a hard place” on the matter.

However, the Opposition Leader left no room for doubt about his own feelings about Mr Putin.

” I believe Putin knows more about what happened with MH17 than he’s let on, Mr Shorten said.

Friday 26th September 2014 - 11:43 am
Comments Off on Stay calm:PM

Stay calm:PM

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is urging Australians not to inflame tensions, as authorities work to curb terrorism.

Speaking on television, after addressing the United Nations Security Council in New York, Mr Abbott said: “It is very important that people go about their normal business.”

The Prime Minister said this is something the terrorists want to disrupt.

“They want to scare us out of being ourselves.”

“It is also important that the Government do everything that we humanly can to keep our community safe,” Mr Abbott added.

“ It is important to remember, for everyone to remember, that in the end this is not about religion.

“It is about crime.

“It is about terrorism.”

And he added a warning.

“ Anyone who breaks Australian law will feel the full force of the law.

“That is the commitment that I give.

“That is the commitment that the state premiers would give as well,” Mr Abbott said.

Thursday 25th September 2014 - 10:41 am
Comments Off on We will not flinch:PM

We will not flinch:PM

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, declared today that his government would “be utterly unflinching” towards anything that threatened Australia’s future as “a free, fair and multicultural society.”

He was addressing the United Nations Security Council Summit of foreign terrorist fighters in New York.

He said: “a terrorist movement calling itself “Islamic State” insults Islam and mocks the duties of a legitimate state towards its citizens.

“And to use this term is to dignify a death cult; a death cult that, in declaring itself a caliphate, has declared war on the world,” Mr Abbott said.

He also told the world body that terrorism had reached Australia’s suburbs.

“Last week, an Australian operative in Syria instructed his local network to conduct demonstration killings,” Mr Abbott said.

“And this week, an Australian terror suspect savagely attacked two policemen.

“Now, it’s hard to imagine that citizens of a pluralist democracy could have succumbed to such delusions – yet clearly they have,” Mr Abbott said.

But he said his government is acting to protect its people.

“Our laws are changing to ensure that foreign fighters returning home can be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for a very long time indeed,” Mr Abbott said.

It is also acting internationally.

“We aren’t just dealing with potential terrorists at home; we’re tackling their inspiration abroad,” Mr Abbott said.

“Our combat aircraft and special forces are now in the Middle East preparing to join the international coalition to disrupt and degrade ISIL at the request of the Iraqi government.”

Wednesday 24th September 2014 - 8:13 pm
Comments Off on New anti terror bill introduced today

New anti terror bill introduced today

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government introduced its new counter-terrorism bill into the Senate today, at a time of heightened tension.

But it did not proceed to full debate.

Instead it was referred to a parliamentary committee for review.

These developments followed the death of a 18 year old Muslim man in Melbourne last night.

Police shot the young man – a terror suspect – after he had stabbed two policemen.

The government says the proposed legislation in its 1,600 page Foreign Fighters’ Bill will close gaps in Australia’s present anti-terrorism laws.

The Attorney General, George Brandis, said the bill also proposes new powers of arrest and would strengthen the provisions which permit searches to be conducted.

The bill also proposes a delayed notification search warrant scheme—with appropriate safeguards and limits.

This would allow a search warrant to be executed without the knowledge of the occupier of the premises to ensure suspects are not immediately alerted to the investigation.

The bill would also:-

• provide certain law enforcement agencies with additional tools needed to investigate, arrest and prosecute those supporting foreign conflicts

• limit the means of travel for foreign fighting or support for foreign fighters and

• strengthen protections at Australia’s borders.


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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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