by Alan Thornhill
Fears that a Lakemba based company may have been used to transfer funds to terrorists have led to suspension of its registration.
The Federal Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, said the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre AUSTRAC had acted swiftly.
He said: “this action has been taken because of the risk the entity poses in relation to terrorism financing.
“I would like to congratulate AUSTRAC on this important operational outcome,” Mr Keenan added.
“Terrorist groups need both material and financial support in order to carry out heinous acts such as those we have seen in the media recently.
“If you choose to provide this support then you are also choosing to facilitate these crimes,” Mr Keenan said.
The continuing work of AUSTRAC and Australia’s national intelligence agencies to disrupt terrorism financing is essential in order to detect and prevent terrorist groups growing stronger, the minister said.
“This action further demonstrates the importance of the Coalition Government’s recent announcement of a $20 million resourcing boost for AUSTRAC to establish a new national intelligence team,” he added.
The company describes its personnel as “experts in our field ” who “keep our clients and customers up to date with the latest international currency rates and market trends.”
It says: “our goal is to build strong, healthy relationships with our clients, which we believe is the driving force behind success.”
by Alan Thornhill
A Dutch led recovery team, that includes Australian Federal Police, has deferred a visit to an air crash site in Ukraine, after a local ceasefire agreement collapsed.
That agreement was between Ukrainian troops and Russian backed rebels.
The planned recovery of more bodies, from the ill-fated MH17 Malaysian Airlines flight, which was shot down, will now be put off until the site is once more secure.
The ABC reports that Alexander Hug, the deputy head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) monitoring mission in Ukraine, says the local conflict has affected the start of the mission.
“We heard indications there’s fighting going on.
We can’t take the risk,” he said.
“The security situation on the way to the site and on the site itself is unacceptable for our unarmed observer mission.
“Fighting in the area will most likely affect [the] crash site, ” Hug said.
by Alan Thornhill
Is Tony Abbott enjoying the Malaysian airliner crisis a little too much?
The Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, have won wide praise for their diplomatic responses to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, over disputed territory in Ukraine.
Securing a unanimous deal, at the United Nations Security Council, condemning that appalling action, was indeed a triumph.
Especially as Russia was persuaded to agree to it, for the sake of respectability.
Mr Abbott, understandably, has been showing signs of exuberance at the string of press conferences he has held, on Flight MH17, since then.
And few – if any – emotions are more dangerous in a political leader than exuberance, particularly when a battlefield beckons.
So let’s allow our thoughts to take a walk on the wild side for a moment.
Tony Abbott’s exuberance, perhaps, peaked at a press conference he gave in Canberra on Saturday, when he was speaking about his decision to send some 150 Federal Police officers, accompanied by military guards, to the crash site near Donetsk.
“It is, I stress, a humanitarian mission,” he said then
“It is a humanitarian mission.
“Others can get involved if they wish in the politics of Eastern Europe.
“ Our sole concern is to claim our dead and bring them home,” he declared.
These were undoubtedly bold, laudable thoughts.
But do they also reflect the cold, logical assessment that this, very dangerous, situation so clearly demands?
Mr Abbott isn’t sending those brave men and women of our police and military services into danger, without preparation.
Julie Bishop has been in Kiev, over the weekend, trying to negotiate an agreement that will see them safe, at the crash site, while they do their work.
But can Mr Abbott be confident that the pro-Russian rebels, who control that site, will see his plan in quite the way he does?
Or that Ms Bishop will be able to find some-one with sufficient authority, to make a reliable agreement, of the kind Australia wants?
One military observer, who chose to remain anonymous, has already described Mr Abbott’s plan, bluntly, as “nuts.”
The Prime Minister, after all, is planning to place some 180 serving Australian police and military personnel between the opposing forces of Ukranian nationalists and Russian separatists, when they are already at war.
We have had warnings.
None quite as vivid, perhaps, as those television pictures of drunk separatists, strutting around the crash site, heavily armed.
Especially when we remember, as we must, that some, among them, believe it is smart to use a Russian made Buk missile to shoot down a defenceless civilian airliner, with the loss of almost 300 innocent lives, including those of 38 Australians.
Exuberance, itself, can be dangerous, in times like this.
by Alan Thornhill
Tony Abbott says Australia will continue to do everything in its power to ensure the attack on a Malaysian airlines flight last week is investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
The Prime Minister made this declaration in a statement he issued after the United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted an Australian sponsored resolution calling on the armed separatist groups controlling the MH17 crash site to allow unfettered access to international investigators.
Mr Abbott said Australia had played a lead role, authoring the resolution which was adopted in New York on July 21 (July 22 Australian time).
“It calls on the separatists to ensure the bodies of the 298 victims – including 28 Australians and nine Australian permanent residents – are treated with the utmost dignity and respect and returned to their grieving families,” he said.
Mr Abbott said: “The resolution underlined the need for a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the crash and demanded all military activities in the area cease to allow immediate, safe, secure and unrestricted access to investigating authorities.
“It asks all countries to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
“Today’s resolution lends the full weight of the Security Council in condemning the attack and extending the international community’s deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of all the victims of this tragic incident,” the Prime Minister added.
He said Australia welcomes the UN Secretary-General’s offer of assistance to the investigation.
“The United Nations will continue to have a crucial role in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy,” Mr Abbott said.
The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, later welcomed the UN resolution and offered the Labor’s full support in the government’s efforts to secure justice for those who died in the disaster.
by Alan Thornhill
Tony Abbott has called Vladimir Putin a bully and praised the Canadian Prime Minister for saying so.
The Australian Prime Minister, who is in Ottawa as part of a world tour, backed his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, to the hilt.
Harper had described the Russian President as “ an extreme nationalist and an imperialist.”
The Canadian Prime Minister also said of Mr Putin “…this is an individual who clearly believes that if he’s able he has the right and ability to invade another country.”
Mr Abbott was asked what he thought of Mr Harper’s views.
He replied: “They’re very forthright remarks and I think that they’re perfectly appropriate remarks for the Canadian Prime Minister to make.
“Canada probably has more involvement in the affairs of Europe than Australia often does.
“But nevertheless let’s not minimise the affront to international stability and the affront to the ordinary norms of behaviour between nations which Russia has been responsible for.
“I mean it’s bitten off the Crimea, it’s obviously interfering in Ukraine and this should stop.
“This should stop.
“No country has a right to bully another country just because it can,” Mr Abbott said.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government’s White Paper on climate change fails to provide “a credible guarantee” against ever increasing emissions, according to the Climate Institute.
The Institute is an independent research organisation that works with community, business and government toward climate change solutions.
It warned that policies outlined in the White Paper would lead to Australia falling behind comparable countries, in global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Its assessment of the paper, that the government published yesterday, was damning.
The White Paper is meant to explain how the government will fund the Direct Action policy it has adopted, to guard against global warming.
However Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of Institute, said: “… the fundamental challenge confronting the Government is that in the absence of credible policy, national emissions are projected to grow by 30 per cent by 2030.
“While some positive improvements have been made, as it currently stands the Emission Reduction Fund will not be an enduring climate policy.
“It simply can’t meet the long-term challenge of climate change,” Mr Jackson said.
“The Government has deferred key compliance decisions and is unclear on future spending commitments, while at the same time it intends to dismantle the current legislation,” he added.
The Institute says it is very concerned that the policy does not at all ensure that Australia’s emissions will fall in line with those of other nations.
Nor will it help to avoid “dangerous climate change,” Mr Jackson said.
He noted that the Government supports the international goal of avoiding dangerous climate change of more than 2°C increase in global temperature.
The Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, had confirmed that on April 14.
However Mr Jackson warned that: “”If Australia is to drive new multi-billion dollar clean investments to levels consistent with avoiding very serious climate impacts, then total emission reductions to 2030 need to be around five billion tonnes.
“This is equivalent to eight years of annual emissions at current rates,” he said.
“Taxpayer funds of $1.55 billion over the next few years, and possibly another $1 billion in the future, are not up to this task,” Mr Jackson said.
This is particularly so in the present tight budget situation.
“Even using the most generous assumptions, the Government would need to be spending $3-$5 billion every year by the end of the next decade to achieve credible emission reduction goals,” Mr Jackson said.
“Without a mechanism to ensure that major emitting companies do their bit in driving new clean technology investments, we risk our economy continuing to fall behind.
“The USA, China, the EU and other major economies are already implementing carbon pricing, regulations and renewable energy incentives and are in the process of developing plans for steep emission controls beyond 2020,” he added.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government promised an effective, practical and simple approach to cutting harmful emissions, as it released a White Paper on funding its Direct Action program today.
And the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, said this would be achieved “without a multi-billion dollar carbon tax.”
But the White Paper immediately drew criticism, particularly from the Greens, who dismissed it as “feeble.”
Their Acting Leader, Adam Bandt, said: “”The existing carbon price takes money from polluters and gives it to people.
“With its feeble White Paper, the Abbott government has confirmed it wants to do the opposite, taking money from everyday Australians and giving it to polluters,” Mr Bandt said.
“Direct Action is a misnomer that’s so drastically inferior to our existing policies that it’s incredible the Abbott government would even try to push ahead with it,” he added.
Labor described the White Paper as a $2.6 billion “dud.”
It’s Environment spokesman Mark Butler said: “the Abbott Government has cynically released its so called Emissions Reduction White Paper on the eve of a long weekend in a desperate attempt to hide the lack of detail and commitment to tackling climate change.”
However Mr Hunt said the government’s policy would help the government meet its commitment to meet its target of seeing emissions 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
He said the government has already introduced legislation to scrap the carbon tax, a move Clive Palmer has vowed to block in the Senate, with the help of Labor and the Greens.
Mr Hunt said the White Paper is based on three key principals.
He said the fund would:-
* Identify and purchase emissions reductions at the lowest cost.
* Purchase emissions reductions that make a real and additional contribution to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and
* Make it easy for businesses to participate.
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, once dismissed talk of global warming as “absolute crap.”
Although he has since stepped back from that position, many environmentalists still doubt Mr Abbott’s commitment to reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.
The Federal government promised “an effective, practical and simple” approach to cutting harmful emissions, when it released a White Paper on funding its Direct Action program today.
by Alan Thornhill
The debris found on a WA beach is not connected to missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
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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