by Alan Thornhill
The Turnbull government has maintained its lead over Labor in the latest Morgan poll.
It would easily win an election held today.
The poll results, published today , give the government 56 per cent support, on a two party preferred basis, to Labor’s 44 per cent.
They also show confidence in the government up 2.5 points to 122, its highest level since March 2011.
Pollster Gary Morgan said the study showed the Turnbull Government’s honeymoon continuing as Australia heads towards Christmas.
This week Prime Minister Turnbull has travelled to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta – his first meeting with the Queen since becoming Prime Minister – and on to the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.
“However, despite the issues of Global Warming and terrorism dominating the news headlines lately, Turnbull’s most important task as Prime Minister is to ensure a growing Australian economy which provides gainful employment to as many Australians as possible.”
“Ultimately it is job creation and sustainable economic growth in Australia which will decide the success or otherwise of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership,” Mr Morgan said.
“To be a successful Prime Minister Turnbull needs to take advantage of the boost to confidence his ascension to the top job has created …. and not allow Labor and the Greens to obstruct the implementation of overdue reforms to the Australian economy.
“If they continue to hold-up needed reforms, Turnbull must bypass this ‘blackmail’ and let Australian electors decide by calling an election early in 2016.” Mr Morgan added.
by Alan Thornhill
Malcolm Turnbull declared today that violence against women and children is never acceptable, as he unveiled a package to tackle domestic violence.
The $100 million package is heavily symbolic, as it is the first formal business announced by Mr Turnbull, since he became Australia’s Prime Minister last week.
Domestic violence has already claimed the lives of 63 women this year.
In a joint statement, with four of his ministers, Mr Turnbull declared:” Women and children in Australia have the right to feel safe and live without fear of violence.”
The others, joining him in the statement, were the Minister for Women Senator Michaelia Cash, the Attorney General, Senator Brandis, the Health Minister, Sussan Ley and the Social Services Minister, Christian Porter.
They said:”We must elevate this issue to our national consciousness, and make it clear that domestic, family or sexual violence is unacceptable in any circumstances. ”
“Today the Australian Government is announcing a $100 million package of measures to provide a safety net for women and children at high risk of experiencing violence.”
“The package will improve frontline support and services, leverage innovative technologies to keep women safe, and provide education resources to help change community attitudes to violence and abuse. ”
“The package includes $21 million for specific measures to help Indigenous women and communities.”
The Ministers noted that the Council of Australian Governments had made domestic violence a national priority.
And they said:”governments are acting.”
However they admitted:”recent events show we are not moving fast enough.”
by Alan Thornhill
Joe Hockey says “Australia is leading the world in cracking down on multinationals that are not paying their fair share of tax.”
The Federal Treasurer, was speaking to reporters in Canberra.
He said that he had told European authorities, while on a recent visit to Turkey that Australia would introduce the toughest legislation in the world to deal with companies not paying their fair share of tax.
“ I understand a number of multinationals have already come forward to identify profits previously unseen in relation to their activities in Australia,” Mr Hockey said.
He said, too, that these companies: “… are prepared to restructure their businesses to pay their fair share of tax in Australia
Mr Hockey also revealed that he had ordered a crack-down on foreign investors who are holding residential property illegally in Australia.
“I can advise you that, as of today, there are now over 500 investigations into over one billion dollars of residential real estate that may be held unlawfully by foreign nationals in Australia,” Mr Hockey said.
Seven have already been ordered to sell these properties.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government is forcing foreign investors to sell five more homes that they are holding illegally.
The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, who made the announcement today, said the properties are in Ardross (in Perth), Elizabeth Bay (in Sydney), Underdale (in Adelaide), Stretton (in Brisbane) and Labrador (on the Gold Coast).
Their purchase prices had ranged from $265,000 to $8.1 million.
Mr Hockey said that:” Since transferring residential real estate compliance functions to the Australian Taxation Office in May, over 3,000 pieces of information relating to suspected breaches have come to light via data matching with third party sources including the Foreign Investment Review Board, Immigration, AUSTRAC and state and territory land title offices.”
“Through the information provided by the public, together with our own enquiries, we now have 481 cases under active investigation,” Mr Hockey said.
“I expect more divestment orders will be announced in the future and once again warn foreign investors in residential real estate that they must comply with Australian law,” the Treasurer added.
“Time is running out for foreign investors to voluntarily come forward if they have illegally purchased existing residential real estate,” he said.
They have until 30 November 2015 to come to us before we come to them.”
They will still be forced to sell the properties if they are found to be in breach of the laws, but they will not be referred for criminal prosecution.”
“Australia’s foreign investment policy for residential real estate is designed to increase Australia’s housing stock, but those who break the rules and purchase established property illegally are doing so to the detriment of all Australians,” Mr Hockey said.
“Unlike the previous Government we are determined to enforce the rules and, where appropriate, make them even tighter,” he added.
“Last month I introduced legislation into Parliament to ensure that the reporting requirements, enforcement and penalty regimes for foreign investors who break the rules are stricter and more significant.
” These laws are being debated in the House of Representatives today,” Mr Hockey said.
“These new penalties are designed to ensure that no one should be able to profit from breaking the rule,” he added.
by Alan Thornhill
The Prime Minister promised action today to ensure police arrive more quickly to deal with complaints of domestic violence.
Mr Abbott was speaking in Federal Parliament, where the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, had asked if the government is prepared to call another summit on the issue.
Mr Shorten said Australians had “looked on in horror over the past week as three women had been killed at the hands of someone they knew, allegedly.”
He also asked if the Federal government would ensure that women suffering from domestic violence get the support they need.
Mr Abbott said another summit might help.
But parliament should be aware that there had already been much high-level discussion of family violence.
It had been examined, for example, at the Council of Australian Governments, a body whose meetings are attended by Federal, State and Territory leaders.
Mr Abbott said the home should be a haven.
Not a place for domestic violence.
“I make the fundamental point in response to the Leader of the Opposition.
“Any-one who strikes a woman is not a real man.
“Any-one who strikes a woman, or a child is a coward.”
Mr Abbott also said:”…what we really want is action.”
Then he added:”Now, I will have more to say about this in the next few days’ ”
“Essentially, we need to ensure that the men with a pre-disposition towards violence against members of their families are better monitored, better tracked, so that the instant there is any suggestion of harm we can act.”
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
The Tax Office will get new compliance powers in an investment reform package that the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, introduced into Federal parliament today.
Mr Hockey also said the Foreign Investment Review Board, too, would be given extra powers, so that Australians could be assured that the rules governing foreign investment would be properly enforced.
Addressing parliament, Mr Hockey said:” Mr Speaker, Australians expect our foreign investment rules to be strong, effective and enforceable.
“Our foreign investment rules have not been significantly revised since introduction in 1975 and have not kept pace with the changes in global investment.
“The Government recognises the changing landscape and has already taken active steps to enforce the existing rules and act decisively on foreign investment breaches,” Mr Hockey said.
“One such step is to encourage those who are in breach to come forward and self-report,” the Treasurer added.
” In so doing, we have announced a reduced penalty period for foreign investors who come forward and self-report non-compliance before 30 November 2015. ”
“This legislative package shall ensure Australia maintains a welcoming environment for investment – but one that ensures that the investment is not contrary to our national interest,” Mr Hockey said.
“These reforms shall ensure that from 1 December 2015, Australia’s foreign investment framework is more modern, simple and effective.
“Importantly, it will add integrity to the system, so that everybody plays by the rules.
“With integrity comes compliance,” the Treasurer said.
“… consistent with the recommendations of the House Economics Committee, the Bill introduces a range of new and stricter penalties that are commensurate to the severity of the breach and ensure that those who break the rules do not profit by their actions,” he added.
“Criminal penalties will be increased from $90,000 to $135,000 for individuals and will be supplemented by civil pecuniary penalties and infringement notices for less serious breaches of the residential real estate rules.
“Third parties such as real estate agents, migration agents, conveyancers and lawyers who knowingly assist a foreign investor to breach the rules will also now be subject to both civil and criminal penalties.”
by Alan Thornhill
Joe Hockey has ordered six foreign investors to sell residential properties they are holding illegally.
In a statement today, the Treasurer said Australia welcomes and needs foreign investment, but investors must comply with local laws at all times.
He has issued five divestment orders.
These relate to six established properties.
One investor owns two of the properties.
These are in the Perth suburb of Kewdale.
Another of the affected properties is in the outer Brisbane suburb of Eight Mile Plains.
Three foreign investors are being ordered to sell properties in NSW.
Their properties are in Eastwood, Fairfield and Mosman.
Mr Hockey said the properties range in value from $152,000 to $1.86 million.
“Some of the five investors have purchased property with Foreign Investment Review Board approval,” he said.
“But their circumstances have changed and they have failed to comply with the divestment requirements.”
“Some have simply broken the rules by purchasing a property without approval and done so against the law,” Mr Hockey said.
“The investors linked to the five divestments voluntarily came forward to take advantage of the amnesty I announced in May,” he added.
“They now have 12 months to sell the properties, rather than the normal three month period, and will not be referred for criminal prosecution.
“Through the information provided by the public, together with our own enquiries, we now have 462 cases under active investigation,” the Treasurer added.
“I expect more divestment orders will be announced in the not too distant future,” he said.
“I once again warn foreign investors in residential real estate that they must comply with Australian law.
“Time is running out for foreign investors to voluntarily come forward if they have illegally purchased existing residential real estate.
“They have until 30 November 2015 to come to us before we come to them.
“They will still be forced to sell the properties if they are found to be in breach of the laws, but they will not be referred for criminal prosecution.”
“Australia’s foreign investment policy for residential real estate is designed to increase Australia’s housing stock.
“But those who break the rules and purchase established property illegally are doing so to the detriment of all Australians,” Mr Hockey said.
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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