Australian News Headlines, Auspol News Headlines, Wednesday 7 March 2018

in #news4 years ago

Company allowed to keep water for extra year after Darling buyback

The Guardian reports that the agribusiness company Webster was allowed to retain 22 gigalitres of water entitlements, purchased by the commonwealth for environmental flows, for an extra year so that it could grow another cotton crop – but the water was transferred within weeks to other properties owned by the company. It is reported that the $78m purchase of water from the property Tandou, on the lower Darling near Menindee Lakes in far-western New South Wales, has come under intense scrutiny in the Senate after reporting by the Guardian on the sale. The water transfers raise further questions about whether the deal was good value for taxpayers writes the Guardian. Despite ruling out strategic purchases of water, the commonwealth made Webster an offer for the Tandou water in June without an open process.

Border Force head was never interviewed in seven months of investigations

The Canberra Times reports that the corruption watchdog never spoke to the Australian Border Force head Roman Quaedvlieg as it investigated claims he abused his power, while a second inquiry communicated with Mr Quaedvlieg only in writing, Fairfax Media understands. It is reported that Mr Quaedvlieg’s fate is currently in the hands of Attorney-General Christian Porter, who is considering a report on the case provided by the head of the public service and Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson. The Canberra Times writes that Mr Quaedvlieg was the subject of a complaint from a Border Force employee that he helped his girlfriend get a job with the agency at Sydney Airport. He has protested his innocence. However, it is reported that the complaint was referred to the corruption watchdog, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. The Canberra Times reports that it delivered its report to Home Affairs Department head Mike Pezzullo in August, a Senate estimates hearing was told this week. Mr Pezzullo told a separate Senate hearing he and Mr Parkinson agreed that the latter should take over the “administrative” side of the inquiry. However, it is reported that it is understood Mr Parkinson communicated only with Mr Quaedvlieg in writing, in which he requested information several times.

Australia and Timor-Leste to sign deal on contentious gasfield

The Guardian reports that Australia and Timor-Leste are expected to sign a historic maritime border treaty in New York, after decades of talks dogged by acrimonious dealings and accusations of greed and espionage. However, it is reported that negotiations remained bitter until the end, with former Timorese president and chief negotiator, Xanana Gusmao, accusing Australia of collusion and revealing no deal was reached on how to develop the resources. The border treaty writes the Guardian, to be signed by Timorese minister, Agio Pereira, and Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, at the United Nations at 5pm on Tuesday (New York time), will officially mark the border at the median line between the two countries – in line with international law – and not at the edge of Australia’s continental shelf.

Who’s next after Malcolm Turnbull?

New Politics reports that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, must regret many of his political comments, but surely none more than the words he announced so loudly on September 14, 2015, the day he challenged Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party: “We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row”. They write that they’re only eight simple words among the thousands he’s mentioned since becoming Prime Minister but, over the next month, they’ll become the most lethal ones used in recent Australian politics. It is reported that they’re likely to see the demise of Turnbull’s leadership and, with that, the end of his political career. At the time of the challenge, he also added that it was clear “the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership.” Has the Australian electorate also made up their minds about Turnbull’s leadership?

DRUGGED UP WOMAN BASHER? News Corp silent on booze & cocaine culture as Sky News exec, Rob Raschke, guilty of assaulting wife

The True Crime News Weekly reports that News Corp have remained silent on a possible alcohol and cocaine culture prevalent within its management ranks after a senior Sky News executive pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife last week and was ordered by a court to stay away from her while under the influence of booze and other drugs. It is reported that Sky News executive, Rob Raschke, has now been placed on leave but his bosses and senior colleagues at News Corp are staying quiet on whether the powerful media executive will face any further punishment from his employers. True Crime News Weekly reports that Mr Raschke pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault on Wednesday, February 28 at the Downing Local Centre Courts in Sydney after being arrested the night before at 7pm. The 52-year-old had been charged over a violent incident involving his wife, Rachel, that took place in the early hours of Saturday morning (February 24) just after 2am it is reported.

Deny the rich negative gearing benefits to save big bucks: think tank

The Australian Financial review writes that wealthy property investors could be denied the tax benefits of negative gearing to increase federal budget revenue by more than a billion a year while cushioning the ordinary "mum-and-dad" investors who Treasurer Scott Morrison is so concerned about. The AFR writes that that's according to research commissioned by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), an independent think tank that says it has come up with some "politically acceptable" options for housing tax reform. It is reported that one option would be to deny the top quarter of income earners the opportunity to deduct rental losses against salary income. Investors in this bracket would lose an average of $3149 in tax savings, the modelling shows

Gun groups funding rise of rightwing parties

It is reported that Australian gun lobby groups pumped more than $500,000 into minor rightwing parties such as One Nation and Katter’s Australia party during last year’s Queensland election campaign. The figures it is reported, available in election disclosures, are part of a push to weaken the country’s firearm control laws by cashed-up firearms groups. The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia spent $550,000 on the “Flick ’Em,” campaign which urged voters to put Labor and the Liberal National party last. Guardian analysis of donation disclosures reveals that the campaign was almost entirely funded by pro-gun groups. It is reported that their financial clout is an unintended consequence of John Howard’s firearms reforms after the Port Arthur shooting in 1996. One of the requirements for gun ownership is a reason for having a firearm, and a valid reason is belonging to a shooting club, which then pays dues to the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia. The association has 185,000 members, including 68,000 in Queensland, and in 2016 a study found its seven biggest branches had amassed a war chest of more than $34m.

Shorten a 'craven populist' for pushing minimum wage rise, Turnbull says

The Guardian reports that Malcolm Turnbull has attacked Labor for backing union demands to increase minimum wages, claiming that dramatic rises will cause unemployment. PM Turnbull it is reported, accused Bill Shorten of being a “craven populist” who was prepared to sacrifice jobs for wage growth, at the Australian Financial Review conference on Wednesday. They write that Labor has signalled it will take a more aggressive stance on the minimum wageand is considering a move to industry-level bargaining to boost the power of low-paid workers. The comments suggest the Coalition will target Labor for pushing for higher wages despite the fact the government’s own projected surplus in 2020-21 is highly dependent on optimistic wage growth assumptions they report. The Guardian writes that the Turnbull government is prosecuting a difficult line, arguing that company tax cuts will inevitably lead to increased jobs and wages as wages stagnate despite continued economic growth and improved labour productivity.

Secret review finds political interference compromised complaint against Barnaby Joyce

SMH reports that an internal review has found a confidential allegation of sexual misconduct against Barnaby Joyce was compromised by political interference, leading to the complainant's identity being exposed and denying the former deputy prime minister a fair hearing. It is reported that the secret review by WA Nationals state president James Hayward questioned the conduct of state MPs who had "regular" communication with Catherine Marriott, the woman who lodged a complaint with the Nationals about Mr Joyce's behaviour outside a beef industry event at Canberra's Kurrajong Hotel in 2016. SMH writes that the WA Nationals instigated an investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations, which are denied by Mr Joyce. It is reported that the existence of the investigation and Ms Marriott's identity were soon exposed in media reports.

Malcolm Turnbull says no to an early election

Channel Nine News reports that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out an early election, saying it will be in the first half of next year. And given the latest Newspoll, that's hardly surprising they write.

"I can assure you there is no plan, intention, or discussion (about an election this year)," the prime minister told a business summit in Sydney today.

However it is reported that he didn't accept the moderator's invitation to "cross your heart".

"It will be in the first half of 2019," Mr Turnbull said.

The Newspoll it is reported, published in The Australian newspaper on Monday, showed the government trailing Labor by 53 to 47.

'Treachery': Leaked report reveals low river flow blamed on extraction

SMH reports that the ailing state of the Darling River has been traced to man-made water extraction, according to a leaked report by the agency charged with overseeing its health. It is reported that the "hydrologic investigation", dated last November and obtained by Fairfax Media, analysed more than 2000 low-flow events from 1990-2017 on the Barwon-Darling River between Mungindi near the NSW-Queensland border down to Wilcannia in far-western NSW . The draft report SMH writes– a version of which was sent to the NSW government – comes days after WaterNSW issued a red alert for blue-green algae on the Lower Darling River at Pooncarie and Burtundy. Bourke is among towns also on stage-two water restrictions as the Darling dries up in places. The paper by Murray-Darling Basin Authority's (MDBA) own scientists found flow behaviour had changed since 2000, particularly in mid-sections of the river such as between the towns of Walgett and Brewarrina reports the SMH.

GDP shows Australians no better off than a year ago

SMH reports that Australians are no better off per person than they were at this time last year as weakening offshore trade robbed the economy of momentum, the latest national accounts results reveal. It is reported that in figures that are set to heighten the national debate over inequality, the Australian Bureau of Statistics' most accurate measure of living standards - real net national disposable income per capita - barely moved in the 12 months to December and actually went backwards in two quarters in 2017. SMH writes that the indicator of economic growth after population increases are taken into account - gross domestic product per capita -also grew by nothing in the December quarter and just 0.8 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms over the year.
Overall they write, the worst net-trade result since 2012 reduced annual economic growth to 2.4 per cent as the Turnbull government looked to head off a trade war with the United States that threatens to derail a global economic recovery.

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