Browsing articles in "population"
Sunday 31st July 2016 - 8:18 pm
Comments Off on Listen to Aborigines:PM urged

Listen to Aborigines:PM urged

by Alan Thornhill

Bill Shorten says Aboriginal people must be given a bigger role in the proposed Royal Commission into the mistreatment of juvenile offenders at the Don Day correctional facility in the Northern Territory.


The Opposition Leader said Aboriginal people want the commission to be “authentic.”


And they had told him they wanted to see two Aboriginal co-commissioners appointed to help the commission do its job.


He described the mistreatment, which included hooding a juvenile offender, while strapped to a chair as “barbaric.”


Mr Shorten also said  97 per cent of the young offenders were Aboriginal, and previous inquiries had  established, years ago, that they were being badly mistreated.


He urged the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to visit the Northern Territory to check Aboriginal views on the controversy which followed fresh exposure of these abuses on the ABC Four Corners program last Monday.


Mr Turnbull has not responded, so far.


However Mr Shorten did make that journey, himself, at the weekend, attending the Garma Festival at Gulkula.


He said the Festival was “… a place for balanda to sit down with people, to listen and learn.”


Mr Shorten also said there was much hurt and anger, both in the Aboriginal and broader communities, at the events the ABC had exposed.


“I know there is a lot of pain, great frustration that families feel and of course anger, legitimate anger.

“This week, the media and the ABC spotlight illuminated a horrific failure.


“The abuses of young people in the Don Dale detention centre, right here in the Northern Territory.


“No young person should ever be treated in such a barbaric fashion.


“On Monday night, Australia and the world witnessed a low point in Australian justice.


“Australian justice can never be a 14 year old boy hooded, stripped and strapped to a chair.


“It is a disgrace,” Mr Shorten said.


“Yet, tragically, unforgivably, there was nothing especially new about those terrible images that people were witness to.”


“ How can any young Aboriginal teenager watching those images not feel, in some fashion, made unwelcome in their own country?” Mr Shorten asked.


“It is not right to have that sort of humiliation, that sort of degradation.”





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Friday 29th July 2016 - 4:03 pm
Comments Off on Those country cousins – in a big city store

Those country cousins – in a big city store

by Alan Thornhill

The hard right is keeping Malcolm Turnbull on a short leash.



That was shown, yet again, today when the Prime Minister llrefused to back Kevin Rudd’s bid to become Secretary General of the United Nations.



The decision caused some surprise in Canberra.



After all, Mr Turnbull’s cabinet had been evenly divided on the issue, just one day before.



And it left the current Prime minister, alone, to make that decision.



Well, almost alone.



There is still the little matter of the secret agreement that the Liberal party’s country cousins, in the National Party, made Mr Turnbull, himself, sign before they accepted him as Prime Minister, last September.
Neither of the Coalition partners has, so far,  revealed what is in that agreement.


But, perhaps they don’t have to.



For, as the old saying has it: “by their works, ye shall know them.”



It would be an honour for a small country like Australia to have one of its citizens as deeply involved in settling world disputes, as Mr Rudd would be, if he gets that job.


And in such circumstances relatively small matters, like past differences in domestic politics, are often overlooked.,


Those who can’t bring themselves to make such accommodations risk being labelled as insular in their outlook.


That label isn’t sticking to to Mr Turnbull just yet.


However, this latest decision isn’t the first of its kind.


That has led to a series of doubtful stories about Mr Turnbull, with headlines like “ will the real Malcolm Turnbull please stand up?”


So far, he hasn’t.


And his country cousins are still running the shop.

Wednesday 27th July 2016 - 1:03 pm
Comments Off on Inflation hits new low

Inflation hits new low

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s annual inflation rate fell to just 1 pr cent in the June quarter.


That was the weakest annual rise since the June quarter of  1999.


This is shown in the June quarter Consumer Price Index figures just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


The fall in the annual rate – from 1..3  per cent at the end of  the March quarter – occurred even though consumer prices rose by 0.4 per cent in the June quarter.


This followed a fall of 0.2 per cent in the March quarter.


The Bureau said the most significant price rises this quarter are in medical and hospital services (+4.2 per cent), automotive fuel (+5.9 per cent) and tobacco (+2.1 per cent).


But it added:  “These rises are partially offset by falls in domestic holiday travel and accommodation (–3.7 per cent), motor vehicles (–1.3 per cent) and telecommunication equipment and services (–1.5 per cent).

The bureau also said that the increase of 4.2 per cent for medical and hospital services was driven by the annual increase in Private Health Insurance (PHI) premiums.


These rise on 1 April every year.


It said also that the increase of 5.9 per cent for automotive fuel follows three consecutive quarterly falls.


The rise included increases in unleaded, premium and ethanol fuels.


The bureau noted that world oil prices increased from a 12-year low last quarter.

Monday 25th July 2016 - 5:44 pm
Comments Off on Australia ” must not abandon” the rule of law:government urged

Australia ” must not abandon” the rule of law:government urged

by Alan Thornhill

Lawyers are urging the Federal government to proceed cautiously with its plan to keep dangerous terrorists in jail after their sentences have expired.


The plan is to be discussed by the Federal and Sate governments this week.


The Law Council President, Stuart Clark, acknowledged  that the Federal Government has a clear responsibility to ensure the nation is safe and secure.


However he added:  “.. it is crucial we do not compromise Australia’s commitment to the rule of law in the process.”


Mr Clark said “… if Australia abandons its rule of law principles then the forces of global terrorism will have secured a significant victory over our nation.”


He warned that the appropriate balance must be struck between ensuring national security on one hand and safeguarding the fundamental legal rights that are central to our democracy on the other.


“Applications for post-sentence controls must always be put before a court, and orders but must only be made by a judge exercising his or her own discretion.


“There must be a proper hearing before the court where the person who is the subject of the application is given the opportunity to answer the material on which the application is based.


“Any order must be periodically reviewed and the scheme monitored by those responsible for its administration, the Parliament and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor,” Mr Clark said.


“The person who is the subject of the order must also be able to apply to the court to have their case reviewed should their circumstances change,” he added.


“The legislation itself should also be reviewed within three years of its commencement.”


The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said the proposed scheme would: “… of course only apply to individuals who as they approach the end of a sentence of imprisonment, continue to pose an unacceptably high risk to the community because of the failure to – their failure to be rehabilitated as a result of a penal sentence.”


He said :  “this system will enable a continuing period of imprisonment for high risk terrorist offenders.


“It will be supervised by the courts similarly to the arrangements that apply in a number of our jurisdictions for sex offenders and extremely violent individuals.”


The Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, offered Labor’s support for the plan.


He said:  “Labor’s approach on matters of national security, as it has always been, is to work in a bipartisan fashion with the government to keep Australians safe.


“This is an approach which has worked very successfully through the last Parliament and I hope will work equally successfully during the 45th Parliament. Labor is committed to the thorough scrutiny of any new legislation that is proposed by the Government through the processes of the Parliament and in particular of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to ensure that the balance between security and our precious freedoms and liberties is maintained.”




Saturday 23rd July 2016 - 8:14 pm
Comments Off on Bill Shorten gives Labor women big jobs

Bill Shorten gives Labor women big jobs

by Alan Thornhill

The Opposition leader Bill Shorten spoke of his “education dream team” today, as he announced that Tanya Plibersek is to become shadow minister for education. in a reshuffle   announced today.


Penny Wong, who previously held that post, will now become, labor’s shadow minister for foreign affairs,


These changes, effectively a swap, were the most important on Mr Shorten’s long list of new responsibilities.


Ms Plibersek also remains Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


She is one of Labor’s most effective speakers.


And her new appointment is being taken as a sign that Labor is planning to make education the spearhead of its next election campaign.


She will be supported by ministers with expanded responsibilities.


Mr Shorten said:  “Kate Ellis will expand her responsibilities as the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development to include TAFE and Vocational Education.


And “In addition to being Shadow Cabinet Secretary, Jacinta Collins will also be assisting Kate with Early Childhood.


“As a staunch advocate for blue-collar jobs, Doug Cameron will be the Shadow Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships.”


Introducing his new  team, Mr Shorten said: “education from the early years to schools, university and of course TAFE and vocational education, is a first-order economic and social priority for Labor in the 45th parliament.


” Investing in education is the key to Australia’s future prosperity, and it is one of the sharpest contrasts between us and the Turnbull Government.


” So I present to Australia, the education dream team: Tanya and Kate – supported by Doug, Jacinta, Terri and Andrew.”


Mr Shorten also said  Penny Wong will continue as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and she will bring her considerable talents and intellect to the important post of Shadow Foreign Affairs spokesperson.


“Claire Moore will work alongside Penny as Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific.


“Stephen Conroy will remain Deputy Leader in the Senate and take on the new job of Shadow Special Minister of State, putting a new emphasis on scrutiny of government and the accountability of the executive. Stephen will also be the Shadow Minister for Sport


“It’s great to have a Collingwood supporter in that role at last.


“As I made clear during the campaign, Chris Bowen will continue to lead the economic debate as Shadow Treasurer.


“Andrew Leigh will serve as Shadow Assistant Treasurer, with additional responsibilities as Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity and Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits.


“Sam Dastyari will join the Shadow Ministry with the portfolio of Consumer Affairs.


“And Katy Gallagher will bring her wealth of experience to her new role as Shadow Minister for Small Business and Financial Services.


I’m combining these responsibilities to drive improved access to capital for small business and better accountability in our banking sector.


“This is a Cabinet position, as it should be.


“It deserves a heavy hitter, as Katy is.


“Julie Owens, representing the small business heartland of Parramatta, will be the Assistant Minister. Matt Thistlethwaite will be an Assistant Minister in the Treasury Portfolio.


“Jim Chalmers will enjoy a well-deserved promotion to join the Shadow Cabinet with responsibilities for Finance.”

Friday 22nd July 2016 - 6:38 pm
Comments Off on Federal government acts on steel jobs

Federal government acts on steel jobs

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government says it has “struck a deal” to secure the jobs of South Australian steel workers.


In a joint statement late today, the Prime Minster, Malcolm Turnbull, said  his government “is delivering” on its its “election commitment to support South Australia’s steel sector and workers at Arrium .“


He said the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation would provide a loan of $49.2 million for new machinery at the Iron Knob and Iron Baron mines.


This would be done under the National Interest Account.


Mr Turnbull said this would enable Arrium’s OneWhyalla business to process iron ore to export quality and is expected to boost Arrium’s cash flow by more than $200 million over the next five years.


The Prime Minister said this investment would build on his government’s ongoing commitment to support Australia’s steel industry.


He said the measurers already announced included:-

  • Using Australian steel across our naval shipbuilding program
  • Upgrading 1200 kilometres of rail line between Adelaide and Tarcoola, a project worth approximately $80 million to Arrium
  • Strengthening Australia’s anti-dumping system.



Mr Turnbull  said his government would continue to work closely with the administrators as they prepare Arrium’s businesses for sale.

Friday 22nd July 2016 - 1:34 pm
Comments Off on Our banks:what’s bugging us

Our banks:what’s bugging us

by Alan Thornhill


Bank customers, worried about high fees and poor service have left Australia’s big four banks facing their lowest satisfaction ratings in three years.


A new survey, by Roy Morgan Research, found that although only some 5 per cent of bank customers are classed as “dissatisfied,” their complaints may well need to be addressed, to produce wider levels of satisfaction.


So what were they?


Predictably, fees and charges took top spot.


The researchers said: problems in this area were the most frequently mentioned.


They said customers generally felt that many fees were not justified and a backward step.


Their comments had included: “It used to be free and now they charge me a monthly account keeping fee”; “they charge for silly things”; “fees exorbitant”; “…they’re at uni studying and if balance is low they charge fees” and “…extreme overcharging of fees”.


The researchers also said:  “the second most frequently mentioned problem,(was) poor service.


This had spanned a wide range of issues including: “not enough service, prefer you to be out the door”; “poor service and too much focus on profits and shareholders”; ”no follow-up service”; ”very inflexible”; and “poor service and listening skills”.



The researchers said poor service, spanned a wide range of issues including: “not enough service, prefer you to be out the door”; “poor service and too much focus on profits and shareholders”; ”no follow-up service”; ”very inflexible”; and “poor service and listening skills”.



Then there were branch issues, the Roy Morgan organisation said.


A major branch-related problem was to do with branch closures such as: “they keep closing their branches, very difficult to go to branch”; “removal of branches”;”…closing branches and this results in diminishing service”; “…the branch moved…no close local branch”. Other branch issues related to poor service in the branch: “reduced over-counter service…push to electronic banking”;  ”waiting time in branches”; ”not enough tellers”.

Thursday 21st July 2016 - 1:38 pm
Comments Off on Malcolm Turnbull’s gamble

Malcolm Turnbull’s gamble

by Alan Thornhill






Placating dissidents is risky.


But Malcolm Turnbull was not deterred, a few days ago, when he sent Liberal dissidents a message, from a news conference.


The Prime Minister said “: I am listening very keenly and carefully to concerns that have been raised by my colleagues and of course by other people in the community as well.”


He was, of course, was speaking to a small, but very active group, of Liberal dissidents, who want bigger tax breaks, on superannuation, for their wealthy voters.


The South Australian, Cory Bernardi, who was among the first to speak out on this issue, welcomed the assurance.


The ABC reported that he said Mr Turnbull had been  “unbelievably receptive and respectful of differences of opinion on policy issues, including in superannuation.”


But not all are convinced.


Another conservative Senator, George Christiansen, is threatening to cross the floor – and vote against – what he calls a Labor style policy if the government does not drop its proposed $500,000 cap, on tax free superannuation reforms.


The budget contained two main  superannution reforms,   a $500,000 contributions cap and a $1.6 million pension fund limit.


The Financial Planning Association chief executive Dante De Gori  has described these as good measures, but warned confidence in the super system could be eroded by the retrospective effects of the $500,000 contributions cap.


The dissidents do not agree.


One West Australian MP, among their number, says the Liberals would not have lost votes, as they did, in the July 2 elections, if well heeled voters could have been enticed out  to polling stations, to hand out how to vote cards.


Ian Yates the Chief Executive of the Council on the Ageing, said  “the fact that the Prime Minister and Treasurer are under pressure to reverse sound policy to make super fairer, based on a weak narrative about selected poor election results and fewer well-heeled supporters manning polling booths, would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.”
He said:  ““…superannuation tax breaks cost over $25 billion in foregone revenue.



“Middle and lower earners, the majority of whom are women, have to pay more in taxes – both now and in the future – to pay for super tax breaks that largely benefit high-income men,”Mr Yates said.


Several other bodies also vowed to fight the dissidents’ campaign when Mr Turnbull softened his stance on the matter last Sunday, after declaring in the recent election campaign that the government’s position on the matter was “ironclad.”


Perhaps the most significant of those declarations, for the government, was that from GetUp, which said it is ready to fight on this matter.


Especially as it showed, before the election that it has some skills, in this area.


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Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill

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Alan Thornhill

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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