Australian News Headlines, Auspol News Headlines Friday 9 March 2018

in #news4 years ago (edited)

The mysterious Chinese mining magnate donating to the SA Liberal party.

Turnbull's sneaky new way to fund Adani.

Get Up reports that explosive new reports show the Turnbull government has concocted a sneaky new way to prop up the mining giant's dirty coal mine. It is reported that they plan to hand taxpayer cash to Adani's suppliers via EFIC (the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation). It is reported that These are desperate measures to bail out a dud project. Get Up writes that 28 banks have ruled out investing in Adani's unviable coal mine. This sneaky handout is exactly the sort of break Adani needs to get this project over the line.

Getup maps $57bn in Abbott-era health cuts hospital by hospital.

The Guardian reports that voters more concerned with hip replacements than the hip pocket might want to look at a new map launched by GetUp that offers a projection of what $57bn of health cuts would do to hospitals in their local area. It is reported that according to the progressive campaign group, the Coalition government’s policies amount to a $57bn cut over 10 years, equivalent to 37,000 hospital beds that can’t be funded, or 68,000 nurses or 33,000 doctors that can’t be paid.

GetUp campaign director Natalie O’Brien said: “voters deserve to know how these cuts may impact on their local hospital service so that they can make an informed decision come election day”.
“Our campaign builds on warnings from doctors and nurses groups that patient care is already being compromised and many hospitals are reaching breaking point,” she said.
“Many hospitals are located in key marginal seat battlegrounds – like Launceston hospital in the electorate of Bass could lose up to $329.4m, or Bowen Hospital in the electorate of Dawson, up to $25.7m.”

What are you hiding, Prime Minister? How Malcolm Turnbull spends a staggering $10 million a year - or $27,000 a day - of YOUR money monitoring what's written about him and his ministers.

The Daily Mail reports that Malcolm Turnbull's government spent almost $10 million of taxpayers' money monitoring what journalists were saying about them in just one year. It is reported that it's been a decade since Australia last had a federal budget surplus but this hasn't stopped his government from spending big on 44 contracts with media monitoring agencies.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann's office has quietly revealed taxpayers forked out $9.9 million for newspaper clippings, radio and TV transcripts. That equates to $190,400 a week or $27,100 a day writes the Guardian, that was spent by the government to get alerts whenever there was a media report about him, his ministers and senior public servants. Major media monitoring companies, including iSentia, are paid by the federal government for their services, by getting a contract through the Aus Tender agency.

Australian Police Want A Way To Access Your Encypted Messages.

Buzzfeed News reports that Australian law enforcement has a problem that people are increasingly using encrypted communications, and the government will soon introduce legislation aimed at overcoming this problem. Unfortunately, no-one knows exactly how it will work. It is reported that before it became fairly easy for the average person to use encryption on their smartphone, law enforcement agencies would be able to get warrants to intercept or access communications made via phone, email or in other ways to investigate serious crime. However they write, the rise in popularity of encryption and a lot of companies now including it in their communication services by default now means that 65% of all data being intercepted by the Australian Federal Police uses some form of encryption, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has said nine out of every 10 priority cases investigated by them is impacted by the use of encryption. Buzzfeed News reports that legislation is currently being developed by the Turnbull government that would, in theory, allow law enforcement agencies to access encrypted communications on end-to-end apps such as Signal, Telegram or Wickr. Despite announcing the plan in the middle of last year, the government still cannot say exactly what the legislation would do

A Conman for Murdoch’s Newspaper Empire Confesses: Data-Theft Operation Hit PMs, Beatles, and MI6.

The Daily Beast reports that a former actor hired by Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times claims he systematically and fraudulently obtained private information on thousands of people over 15 years including operations to target two prime ministers, the head of MI6, and one member of the Beatles.
It is reported that John Ford was arrested in September 2010 for trying to illegally obtain an advance copy of Tony Blair’s autobiography. Publishers Random House told police they had rejected The Sunday Times’ $750,000 serialization offer for the book. Ford, 52, told The Daily Beast he had also fraudulently accessed the bank accounts and phone details of Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6, future Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the brother of Sir Paul McCartney, whom he tried to trick into revealing the location of the former Beatle’s 2002 wedding.

Probe finds 'suspended Border Force boss broke code of conduct by sending salacious messages to young job applicant' – but he maintains innocence as it's revealed he's been paid $500K while being investigated.

The Daily Mail reports that the Border Force boss accused of employing his mistress allegedly sent dirty texts to the much younger woman while she was applying for a job with his organisation. Roman Quaedvlieg has been off work for nine months amid an investigation into allegations he helped his girlfriend secure customer assistance work with the Border Force at Sydney Airport.
It is reported that the 52-year-old, who has earned about $500,000 while on paid leave since May, denies the allegations. He says his relationship with the much younger woman only started after she got the job in December 2016 and claims the texts have been taken out of context. It is reported by the Daily Mail that at the time of the woman's application for casual work, he was still married to his wife of 11 years before they separated in January 2017. A report by the head of the public service, Martin Parkinson, is said to have found that Mr Quaedvlieg breached the public service Code of Conduct, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Tasmanian politicians expected to receive pay rises in 2019.

The Advocate reports that the Tasmanian Industrial Commission has proposed parliamentarian salaries rise in line with the consumer price index and wage price index which means politicians will see their wages rise faster than those received by public servants. It is reported that the commission stated the proposal in an issues paper released on Monday to review parliamentarian base salaries and allowances beyond June 30. Last year they write, the WPI and CPI was at 2.2 per cent in Tasmania – more than the national average. The government has a public servant wages policy of 2 per cent – an amount which the state’s unions are opposed to. The Advocate writes that a member of state parliament is currently paid a base salary of $133,560 but receives extra money through various car, travel, accommodation, and electorate allowances, and for committee work.
The Premier they write, also receives an extra $115,000 and Deputy Premier an extra $82,000.
A minister receives $70,000 – the same as the state’s Opposition Leader – and the Deputy Opposition Leader receives an additional $35,000. It is reported that Tasmanian state MPs are the lowest paid of all the states.

Union watchdog charges taxpayers $500k to fight claims of political interference.

SMH reports that the Turnbull government's union watchdog is charging taxpayers nearly half a million dollars to defend itself against claims its controversial raids on the Australian Workers Union were politically motivated. It is reported that the Registered Organisations Commission is paying multinational law firm Ashurst Australia at least $463,089 to defend it in the ongoing Federal Court case launched by the AWU, government tender documents show. The commission originally estimated the case would cost it $240,000 writes SMH, according to contract notices on the Austender website. However they write, the size of the contract almost doubled in January, with the commission blaming the blowout on "the scope of the legal proceedings and how they have advanced".

Sam Dastyari scandal: Chinese firm also benefited from Abbott government student visa program change. reports that the Chinese firm at the centre of the Sam Dastyari scandal benefited from an Abbott government change to a student visa program.
Top Education had also donated $65,000 to the Liberal Party before then education minister Christopher Pyne extended the streamlined visa program from universities to the private sector, which the company lobbied for. It is reported that the changes had been rejected by the previous Labor government. The revelations raise questions about the links between the Coalition and Top Education, which claims on its website to have met Mr Pyne and Tony Abbott days after the 2013 election they write.

Treaty confirms Australia profited from Timor-Leste oil and gas, rights groups say.

The Guardian reports that Australia has received billions of dollars in revenue from contested oil and gas fields which a new border treaty officially confirms belonged to Timor-Leste, civil society groups have claimed. It is reported that on Wednesday the two nations signed a treaty agreeing a permanent maritime border to close the Timor Gap, and establishing a “special regime” area for the sharing of an untapped, multibillion-dollar gas field in the Timor Sea. The Guardian reports that It came at the end of decades of fractious negotiations and disagreements, which included accusations of greed and espionage on the part of Australia. However they write, human rights groups and observers have balked at the treaty’s division of rights and revenue entitlements to Australia which they say belong to Timor-Leste, and at provisions which stop Timor-Leste seeking compensation.
The treaty delimits a permanent north-south border, and two transitional borders on the east and west

Federal Government cuts to create $1.1 billion black hole in health budget.

The Mercury writes that Tasmania's public hospitals will lose $20 million next year and $1.1 billion over eight years, new budget documents show, as pressure mounts on the Federal Government to properly fund local health services in an election year. It is reported that Parliamentary budget office calculations prepared for a Senate committee for the first time show the impact of ongoing federal cuts. With Tasmania reeling from the last round of Federal Government health funding cuts and health expected to be a key issue in this year’s federal election, the AMA warned hospitals faced a “catastrophic funding crisis” if the problem was not remedied the Mercury reports.

“As hospital capacity shrinks, doctors won’t be able to get their patients into hospital or keep them there to rec­eive the critical care they require,” AMA president Professor Brian Owler said.

Taxpayers pay $10,000 to fly Liberal MPs' families to tropical island.

Yahoo News reports that taxpayers have footed a $10,000 bill for two Liberal MPs' families to spend a weekend in the Cocos Islands. Northern Territory Country Liberal Natasha Griggs' husband and the wife and two daughters of Western Australian Liberal Luke Simpkins flew to and from the tropical islands, in April last year, Fairfax reports. It is reported that the MPs were attending hearings into the parliamentary inquiry into Australia's administration of its Indian Ocean territories.
Ms Griggs' husband Paul flew from Darwin to Cocos via Perth and Christmas Island in a trip which cost $4385, the Department of Finance records revealed. Yahoo News reports that Mr Simpkins flew his wife and two daughters from Perth via Christmas Island, which cost $5100. During the luxurious weekend away, the two MPs were able to claim an extra $5756 in travel allowance they write. The family members left the Islands on Monday April 6 just in time to attend a parliamentary inquiry into Australia's administration of its Indian Ocean territories, a committee Mr Simpkins and Ms Griggs are a part of.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon pays $25 a night while banking $285 travel allowance.

The Daily Telegraph reports that millionaire former communist Lee Rhiannon is pocketing close to a weekly average wage when in Canberra — on top of her $200,000 salary — through generous travel entitlements. It is reported that Senator Rhiannon, who has been punted from the top spot on her party’s ticket in favour of factional rival Mehreen Faruqi, spends just $25 a night when Parliament sits in Canberra, but claims the $285 nightly allowance — as she is entitled to. The Daily Telegraph understands a number of her colleagues past and present have similar arrangements, staying on couches or with friends to minimise rent. That arrangement means Ms Rhiannon takes home $1040 every week on top of a base salary of $199,040 — close to the national average weekly earnings of $1191 they write.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop took four taxpayer-funded trips to her hometown of Adelaide - and they all coincided with her sister's birthdays.

The Daily Mail reported that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop took four taxpayer-funded trips to her hometown during her sister's birthday, but insists she was on official business. It is reported that Ms Bishop travelled to Adelaide coinciding with MaryLou Bishop's February 12 birthday four times - in 2010, 2011, 2012, and visited on the 11th this year. The Daily Mail reports that the four flights cost the taxpayer about $7000, on top of a lavish $73,000 trip to North Queensland with foreign diplomats, also using public funds. The Liberal deputy leader has come under fire in the past for flying home to spend her own birthday with family, and for trips to sporting events they write. The Daily Mail reports that Ms Bishop claimed a travel allowance for her February trips to Adelaide, and for trips to celebrate her 58th and 60th birthdays, The Herald Sun reported. The birthday flights cost taxpayers $2400 and $1600 respectively, while the trips coinciding with her sister's birthdays cost about $7000. It is reported that on this year's visit Ms Bishop is believed to have appeared at an event run by the Australian Chi­nese Medical Association for Chinese New Year as a guest speaker.

Chinese businessmen linked to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop donated $500,000 to her Liberal Party branch.

The Daily Mail reports that Chinese businessmen with links to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have donated half a million dollars to the Western Australian division of the Liberal Party during the past two years. It is reported that all the donors have links to the Chinese government and the vast bulk of the money was given by companies with no apparent business interests in WA, according to political disclosures. Ms Bishop, the leading federal member of the party in WA, has singled out each of the three key donors for praise at various events in recent years, Fairfax Media reports.

Official connected to Michaelia Cash media leak controversy quits.

The SMH reports that another key government official connected to the union raid media leak controversy that rocked the office of Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash has quit, blaming intense media scrutiny of his involvement. It is reported that Mark Lee left his role as media director for the Fair Work Ombudsman on Friday last week, five months after the scandal first erupted and sparked an Australian Federal Police leak investigation that is still ongoing.

Mr Lee said his departure was "my decision".
"In recent months, my professional and personal reputation has been repeatedly questioned through the media," he told Fairfax Media.

Nationals were warned of an impending 'avalanche of allegations' against Barnaby Joyce: secret review.

MSN News reports that Nationals officials were warned of an impending "avalanche of allegations" about Barnaby Joyce and were expecting so many women to complain some MPs considered asking a former governor to hold an inquiry. It is reported that New documents obtained by Fairfax Media show former WA Nationals leader Terry Redman delivered the warning days before a formal complaint against Mr Joyce was actually lodged, forcing the former deputy prime minister's resignation from cabinet.
Catherine Marriott, the woman who made the confidential complaint over an alleged incident involving Mr Joyce outside a Canberra hotel in 2016, blasted the Nationals for mismanaging the investigation. The former WA Rural Woman of the Year on Wednesday claimed the review had been used for "political advantage", had brought her integrity into question, and could stop other women coming forward.

WA Liberals to face Chinese donor probe.

The West Australian reports that a review of the rules governing the WA Liberal Party is set to see questions raised over the big donations pouring in from Chinese donors, some of whom have been the subject of warnings by Australian spy agencies. It is reported that the move comes after revelations last week that WA Liberal Andrew Hastie had handed back $10,000 in cash from a Chinese donor — effectively creating a precedent for other Federal MPs. The WA Liberals issued a call to members last week calling for submissions for a review of the party’s constitution, brought on after a push back against the growing reach of powerbrokers. However, The West Ausrtalian reports that a number of MPs say they will use the review to ask questions about the party’s finances, particularly the growing flow of cash from Chinese donors. It is reported that Billionaire Chinese property developer Chau Chak Wing donated $200,000 to the WA Liberal Party in the 2015-16 financial year. The West Australian reports that Dr Chau, an Australian citizen, was reported to be among those referenced during a briefing from ASIO boss Duncan Lewis to the major political parties in 2015.

Nationals deputy backs Joyce as Labor demands flight details.

SBS News reports that Labor is demanding to see details of tax-payer funded flights Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and his staffer-turned partner Vikki Campion took in 2017. It is reported that concerns have been raised about the potential misuse of taxpayer funds while now-pregnant Ms Campion worked in various ministerial and MP offices. SBS News reports that Labor senator Kimberley Kitching on Wednesday tabled a notice of motion calling for the details of Mr Joyce and Ms Campion's "special purpose travel" and any international flights. It is reported that Mr Joyce has denied breaching the ministerial code of conduct and said Ms Campion was not his partner when she worked in his and Matt Canavan's office, while Damian Drum was not a minister when she transferred to his office.

More than 33 million Centrelink calls unanswered as DHS denies staffing problem.

The Canberra Times ereports that the Human Services department has admitted more than half a million more client calls have met engaged signals compared to last year - but denies staff cuts are to blame. It is reported that more than 33 million calls to Centrelink received no answer between July and January, an increase of nearly 550,000 on the same period the previous year. The Canberra Times reports that department bosses told senators of the rise at an estimates hearing last week, saying that despite the result there had been a year-on-year drop of nine million unanswered calls in the last five months. The Canberra Times reports that the giant agency last year recorded more than 55 million calls reaching engaged signals, a figure it blamed partly on the use of mobile phone apps that redialled their lines multiple times. Last year's busy signal figures, covering July 2016 to June 2017, were a near-doubling on the previous 12 months when 29 million calls were met with the beep-beep-beep tone.
ransferred to his office.

Julie Bishop Questioned Over $1.2m Expenses Bill, Including 'Thor' Premiere And Day At The Polo.

The Huffpost writes that Labor has queried $1.2 million in expenses claimed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop including a trip to the Sydney premiere of the latest Thor film and a day at the polo.
Labor senator Kimberley Kitching told a Senate committee on Monday the minister had spent the $1.2 million in a "variety of ways", including the polo match and the movie premiere of Thor: Ragnarok. However, they write she was cut short when attempting to spell out the full list of spending.

She asked Attorney-General George Brandis whether the spending met the ministerial standards code, which called for frontbenchers to "refrain from wasteful and extravagant spend of public money".

Julie Bishop Charged Taxpayers More Than $3.5k To Go To Last Year's AFL Grand Final.

Buzzfeed News reports that last year Bishop spent over $3,500 attending the Western Bulldogs v Sydney Swans AFL Grand Final. It is reported that the deputy leader of the Liberal party was photographed at the official AFL Grand Final Breakfast, alongside prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, before watching the Western Bulldogs end its 62 year premiership drought from corporate seats gifted to her by the AFL Commission. Buzzfeed News reports that a Department of Finance report shows Bishop spent $1,946 on flights from Perth to Melbourne, $577.68 on a chauffeur driven car and claimed $442 in travel allowance for one night's accommodation on Grand Final day. Taxpayers paid another $613.09 for a flight on to Canberra. It is reported that Bishop spent five nights in Melbourne that week, expensing $1598 for private cars and claiming $2210 total travel allowance. Later that month, the minister charged taxpayers to attend two days of the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne as a guest of Suncorp, Emirates, Mumm and Lion. It is reported that a spokesperson for the foreign minister told BuzzFeed News she attended the 2016 Grand Final in an official capacity and spent the breakfast selling a group of Chinese businessmen on Australia as an investment destination.

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