Archive for January 2019

Barnaby Joyce at the Longyard Pub, after the High court ruled he was a New Zealand Citizen.?? CREDIT:?? Peter Hardin, 27-10-17.Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has dared the Labor Party and the union movement to bring a legal challenge against any of the decisions he oversaw before he was thrown out of Parliament by the High Court.
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More than 100 Turnbull government decisions could be vulnerable to legal challenge as a result of Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash’s dual citizenship status, with lawyers engaged by the Labor Party concluding there is a high likelihood the work the pair has done over the past year will end up before the courts.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has also commissioned legal advice about the validity of a parliamentary vote on penalty rates.

The question mark over decisions that were made while Mr Joyce and Ms Nash were in Parliament adds to the sense of chaos Labor is trying to create around the Turnbull government following the High Court’s decision on Friday which disqualified five MPs – Mr Joyce, Ms Nash, Malcolm Roberts, Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam – from Parliament because they held dual citizenship.

Mr Joyce – who is now fighting a byelection in his NSW seat of New England – dared the Labor Party to bring on a challenge.

“If the Labor Party want to challenge a whole heap of decisions to make poor people poorer and to show they’ve got absolutely no vision for regional Australia, go right ahead fellas,” Mr Joyce told ABC’s Radio National on Monday morning.

The advice from senior silk Matt Collins, QC, and barrister Matt Albert says Mr Joyce’s and Ms Nash’s ministerial decisions are now at risk under section 64 of the constitution, which requires ministers to be members of Parliament..

Mr Joyce, the former agriculture and water minister, disputed this saying he and Ms Nash, the former regional development minister, remained members of parliament up until the moment the High Court disqualified them.

“You stay in until such time as [one of] three events occur: you die, you resign or you are found ineligible by the High Court. And, at that point, you are out of Parliament – not before,” Mr Joyce said.

Speaking after the High Court’s decision on Friday, Mr Joyce said had been worried the court would find against him.

But on Monday he denied he should have resigned from the ministry and cabinet as Matt Canavan did.

Senator Canavan was one of the two MPs – along with Nick Xenophon – cleared by the High Court.

“Just because you thought something doesn’t make it a fact. I relied on the more competent advice which came from the Solicitor-General and just because the Solicitor-General says something doesn’t mean it’s right every time. But it’s obviously vastly more competent than my musings as an accountant who had a practice in St George,” Mr Joyce said.

Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said “there may be a few decisions” the government would need to examine but she was confident the “vast majority” of the government’s decisions were not open to challenge.

Mr Joyce also called for a multi question referendum to deal with a number of issues he said people wanted dealt with – including constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians and section 44 of the constitution.

“People are saying, how could you be born in the Tamworth Base Hospital, when your great grandmother was born in Tamworth, your great grandfather was born in Glen Innes, you’ve served in the Australian Army Reserve and somehow you’re not an Australian. How does that work? To be frank, I have a hard time trying to explain that to them,” he said.

The Turnbull government has already ruled out taking section 44 of the constitution to a referendum but it has flagged the possibility of amendments to the Citizenship Act to clarify the position of people who were born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas and want a career in politics.

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EMPOWERING: Opening Doors has been performed 32 times across the Hunter and Central Coast since 2013 and more than 2000 students have participated.TEENAGERS are being called on to help turn the tide on domestic violence.Tantrum Youth Arts is releasing a new round of performance dates for itsOpening Doorsinitiative, thanks to funding from Greater Charitable Foundation.The fourth season of the theatre-in-education experience will be offered to more than 4000 students across NSW between May and August, 2018.
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Opening Doorsaims to empower young people with knowledge on the causes and impacts of domestic violence and the avenues of support available.Written and directed by Tantrum’s producer Tamara Gazzard, it features local young actors as well as input from police officers, solicitors and counsellors.

“Four local government areas across the Hunter – Cessnock, Maitland, Muswellbrook and Port Stephens – rank in the top 50 for highest recorded cases of domestic violence in NSW,” Ms Gazzard said.

“However, these statistics are hard to measure as …reporting rates are still far below actual incidence rates.

“Opening Doors … aims to bridge this gap by not only educating young people but also giving them a voice as well as the means and confidence to seek help if in need.”

Greater Charitable Foundation chief executive Anne Long saidOpening Doors resonatedwith the foundation’s core focus of improving life outcomes.

Hunter high schools have an opportunity for anOpening Doorsperformance to be staged at their campus in 2018. School should register their interest by Friday, December 22, 2017.For details, visit tantrum.org419论坛.

Mesh, money and the damage done Bypass: University of Canberra academic Dr Wendy Bonython criticises health watchdog funding model for “complete bypass of the interests of consumers”.
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Regulator: The Federal Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration complex in Canberra.

Frosty: Professor Chris Maher said he had a “frosty relationship” with the Federal health regulator because of pelvic mesh devices.

Alarm: Victorian Health Issues Centre executive Danny Vadasz said legislative reform was needed to protect health consumers.

Suffer: Australian women have suffered in silence for years because of systemic failures in the health system that allowed pelvic mesh devices to be marketed.

Devices: A sample of pelvic mesh devices marketed in Australia and the United States since 2002.

Campaigned: Women members of the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group campaigned for a Senate inquiry into how devices were approved for use in Australia.

TweetFacebookThe current regulatory framework is a complete bypass of the interests of consumers. They don’t have a stake at the table.

University of Canberra academic Dr Wendy BonythonWith hindsight, I think, everyone in the Therapeutic Goods Administration would say they wished that they didn’t allow these products through when there wasn’t much evidence supporting those products.

Professor Chris MaherUntil we have legislative reform public health will remain hostage to the sales and marketing targets of medical device manufacturers.

Victorian Health Issues Centre executive Danny Vadasz

“The recent quiet announcement of the up-classification of mesh devices still does not reassure as there is no guarantee consumers will be provided with relevant consent documentation and there is still no commitment to create a register to track the devices being implanted,” Ms Brennan said.

“There must be a separation between income for our regulatory body, and the approval of devices. No-one has a higher stake in a medical device than the patient who is having something permanently implanted and yet consumers are not at the decision making table of the TGA. This needs to change.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office referred questions to the TGA, which “totally rejected” claims it had a too-close relationship with industry because of its funding model.

“Industry has no say whatsoever in how TGA spends the revenue it receives from other industry charges. This system has been in place for more than 20 years and there has been no evidence of any sort of ‘regulatory capture’,” a spokesperson said.

“Other medicines and device regulators internationally also are fully or significantly funded by industry fees and charges and operate in the same way.This takes the burden off the taxpayer for such time-consuming scrutiny.

“It is accepted as best regulatory practice for regulators to have a good understanding of and working relationship with the regulated entities. So, while the TGA meets frequently with industry and other stakeholders, including consumer and healthcare groups, it maintains a professional but arm’s length relationship and does not include them in any final decision-making once consultations are completed.”

The TGA said it accepted evidence from an expert committee in 2008 that recommended it continue to monitor meshes, but the reported rate of complications was low. By 2013 an internal TGA report acknowledged its adverse event reporting systemonly received 10-20 per cent of all adverse eventsbecause it relied on manufacturers to report complications.

The TGA has not prosecuted one mesh manufacturer for failing to report complications, despite it being a criminal offence carrying a jail term and substantial fine.

In 2014 the regulator cancelled the first of more than 40 pelvic mesh devices and increased monitoring and reporting requirements for remaining devices.

In its statement the TGA said “it must be emphasised that the TGA does not regulate clinical practice and decisions by doctors to use these devices”.

It may have the Turnbull and Palaszczuk governments firmly in its corner, but the Adani super-mine is facing a formidable new opponent: the Christian faith.
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The Catholic and Anglican bishops of Townsville have issued a joint statement to their followers criticising “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”, and accusing politicians and big business of failing to protect the common good.

The bishops’ message puts them head-to-head with Adani, the Indian mining behemoth behind the $16.5 billion Carmichael mine proposed for the Galilee Basin. It also puts them at odds with the local council and state and federal governments, which resoundingly support the project.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s campaign speech was interrupted by anti-Adani protesters. Photo: Darren England

Adani has located its regional headquarters in Townsville, and the statement will fuel debate in the already divided community over what would be Australia’s biggest coal mine.

The Right Reverend William Ray of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, and the Most Reverend Timothy Harris of the Catholic Diocese of Townsville, issued the statement to their parishes on Saturday.

They cited Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment in June 2015, in which he said “the Earth, our home, is beginning to look … like an immense pile of filth”.

“We, too, as bishops in north Queensland, have concerns about many global and local issues that are impacting negatively on our environment and which require greater dialogue, examination, prayer and action,” the statement said.

The bishops said human dominion over the planet should be understood as “responsible stewardship”, especially to future generations.

“The elephant in the room is obviously the impending loss of the Great Barrier Reef with back-to-back yearly coral bleaching across two thirds of its length,” they said.

The bishops lamented toxic run-off, increased sea freight traffic and marine pollution, adding that government spending to fix the reef’s problems was “not matching needs”.

They did not name the Adani mine, but warned against “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”, adding such projects sought to exploit a “coal resource for all ages.”

“Politics and business have been slow to provide strong leadership or urgency for the common good: a leadership that incorporates environmental issues as much as the financial, social or political issues,” the statement said.

“Although there are a limited number of politicians who are active on behalf of the environment, they are to be commended.”

The statement reflected the personal view of the bishops. It also expressed concern about a lack of recognition for indigenous people, land clearing, a lack of transparency by big business and a gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

Adani’s Carmichael mine has emerged as a key issue in the Queensland state election, to be held on November 25.

Adani protesters reportedly heckled Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls on the campaign trail on Sunday and Monday.

The mine would extract 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over its 60-year life. Supporters say it will bring much-needed jobs and social benefits to Townsville and the broader region. Detractors fear the effects on tourism and the environment – especially the Great Barrier Reef – and say the company’s promise of 10,000 new jobs is vastly inflated.

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan – back in the job on Friday after the High Court confirmed he was eligible to sit in Parliament – reportedly listed the Adani project and a new coal-fired generator as his first priorities.

The local coal industry has other firm backers – Nationals MP George Christensen took out several full page ads in Mackay’s Daily Mercury last week, urging that a “clean” coal-fired power plant be built in north Queensland.

President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Thea Ormerod, applauded the bishops’ stand and said it “could help shift the mood of the electorate over time”.

She said in the 2016 census, 26.5 per cent of Townsville residents identified as Catholic and 15.2 per cent as Anglican.

“Australia needs such prophetic witness to the importance of protecting our common home over profit-seeking extractive industries,” Ms Ormerod said.

“Adani’s Carmichael mine should never be allowed to go ahead … as a nation, we have the resources to support those communities who are being impacted by our necessary transition away from mining.”

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Westpac is readying to fight allegations by the corporate watchdog that it rigged one of Australia’s key interest rates, despite its co-accused, ANZ and National Australia Bank, settling their cases.
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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleged the three banks separately rigged the bank bill swap rate, a key benchmark rate used when setting the cost of business loans, for financial gain.

Lawyers for Westpac told the Federal Court on Monday it would continue with the landmark case, despite the bank facing increasing pressure to settle with ASIC.

The trial is expected to result in Westpac’s top trader, Colin Roden, being called to give evidence to explain chat room and phone transcripts that include him saying in regards to moving the bank bill swap rate: “I know it’s completely wrong … But f–k it, I may as well.”

On Monday, ANZ and NAB confirmed they had concluded their respective settlement discussions with ASIC.

Justice Jonathan Beach adjourned the case against the latter two banks and referred them to a penalty hearing in November.

Last week, NAB settled with ASIC for $50 million, while ANZ reportedly settled its case for a similar amount.

It is understood informal talks between ASIC and Westpac continued over the weekend and a settlement is still possible.

However, Westpac has long maintained that it has a stronger case than ANZ and NAB because its treasury desk was separate from its trading desk and its bankers were not impacting customers, but rather strengthening the banks’ balance sheet.

NAB’s treasury desk was also separate from its trading desk at the time of the alleged trades.

NAB confirmed to the Australian Securities Exchange late on Friday it had settled with ASIC for $50 million. As part of the settlement, NAB has admitted to attempting to engage in unconscionable conduct on 12 occasions.

Last Monday, ANZ confirmed it had reached an in-principle agreement with ASIC.

NAB has agreed to pay ASIC’s costs of $20 million as part of its settlement and ANZ’s deal is also believed to cover ASIC’s costs.

The bank bill swap rate is a key rate at which banks lend to each other over a short period. It is one of the most important interest rates in the economy, providing a benchmark for the setting of a range of business loan interest rates.

Westpac has been accused of 16 counts of unconscionable conduct by ASIC. NAB faced 50 counts and ANZ 43 counts.

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