Archive for: ‘August 2019’

Rod Culleton’s last-ditch effort to stay in the Parliament

10/08/2019 Posted by admin

Senator Rod Culleton outside the High Court. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Rod Culleton with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Former senator Rodney Culleton has mounted an eleventh-hour effort to save his parliamentary career, seeking to appeal the Federal Court decision that rendered him bankrupt and demanding Senate President Stephen Parry immediately withdraw his declaration of a vacancy.

“I’ve still got my senator’s badge on and I’m going to my senator’s office,” he said on Thursday after a judge extended a 21-day stay on his bankruptcy order for a further week.

Senator Parry notified the West Australia Governor on Wednesday that a seat had become vacant. But, as he fights a legal war on multiple fronts, Mr Culleton has written to Senator Parry calling his actions “premature” because of the stay which was not due to expire until midnight on Friday.

His latest hearing, followed by a sometimes rambling press conference, came after West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said the state’s parliament would not be brought back before the March 11 state election to ratify a replacement senator.

Mr Culleton said Senator Parry had “jumped the gun” and repeated his claim not to be bankrupt.

“The government’s been starting up all their lawn mowers to come and mow my grass in Western Australia. It is clear they have to put them back into the shed,” Mr Culleton said.

He clashed with the media about whether his answers made any sense, reminding one journalist she was not a lawyer.

How the former One Nation senator is replaced will hinge on a pending High Court decision that is determining whether Mr Culleton was eligible to be elected at the July election in the wake of a larceny conviction, which has since been annulled.

The High Court returns from recess on January 30, after which the body – sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns – will be able to hand down its ruling. This could be delayed by Mr Culleton’s attempts to appeal the bankruptcy decision, which was the result of a creditor, former Wesfarmers director Dick Lester, pursuing $280,000 in debts.

If the High Court ruling renders him ineligible, a recount would likely hand the seat to the former senator’s brother-in-law, Peter Georgiou, who was the second One Nation candidate on the ballot. If the High Court ruling leaves the the bankruptcy as the cause of the vacancy then One Nation will select his replacement.

If it is the latter, Senator Hanson says she has a “great” person lined up.

“Am I happy about the demise of Rod Culleton? No I’m not,” she told told Channel Nine. He left her party in December after the pair fell out.

“This has been a debacle what’s happened and I’m not happy about that at all and I didn’t want it to happen for the people of Western Australia. But it is what it is.”

The unrelated Senate vacancy resulting from the resignation of Family First senator Bob Day, who retired to deal with his collapsing business empire, is also due to be resolved by the High Court.

A Court of Disputed Returns decision on his eligibility for election – arising from potential indirect pecuniary interests prohibited by the constitution – will occur after a preliminary hearing on January 23 and a full court sitting on February 7. This is the same day Parliament returns for 2017.

Mr Culleton remains defiant.

“What has clearly been put before the honourable court is that I am not insolvent.

“We’ve come out with a good order today, and that’s what the law is about, fair and just,” he said.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Taxpayers slugged for Peter Dutton’s $4000 dinner in the US

10/08/2019 Posted by admin

Peter Dutton says the standards expected of people wanting to become citizens of Australia is a ‘debate worth having’. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen The historic Jefferson Hotel, where Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had a five-star working dinner with Department of Immigration staff while in the US. Photo: Virginia Tourist Board
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Michael Pezzullo, Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, at a parliamentary committee. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Taxpayers picked up the bill for a $4000 five star “working dinner” that included seven bottles of fine wine hosted by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton at a prestigious luxury hotel in Washington DC.

Mr Dutton and 10 guests – including his staff, former US officials and think tank personalities – enjoyed the $360-a-head meal during his three-day visit to the US for high-level talks last February.

Departmental documents released under Freedom of Information legislation reveal Mr Dutton and his chief of staff Craig Maclachlan were given a budget of $2000 for meals and incidentals for their visit.

But their February 17 three-course dinner alone cost almost double that, at $US2790, which was $3929 at that day’s exchange rate.

While Mr Dutton was staying at the Westin Hotel, the dinner was held at the nearby Jefferson Hotel – billed as the city’s “most discerning hotel” and “second most prestigious address” after the White House.

Mr Dutton and his guests enjoyed two bottles of Far Niente chardonnay at $US80 a pop, three bottles of Chappellet cabernet sauvignon Mountain Cuvee at $US75 each and two bottles of Mark Ryan cabernet sauvignon blend at $US68 each, according to information released in response to a question by Labor senator Catryna Bilyk.

While the department did not provide information on the food served, the restaurant offers such dishes as beeswax poached king salmon, lobster gratin, pan-seared muscovy duck breast and seared venison loin. For dessert the restaurant offers Ethiopian arabica tropilia mousse and wildflower honey-poached pear.

The Jefferson’s “discreet and elegant” Michelin-rated restaurant offers seasonal fine-dining and an extensive 1300-label wine list. The menu is “inspired by the harvest from Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen gardens at Monticello”.

“Providing the final flourish to this unforgettable upscale dining experience is service as discreet as it is attentive, and always informed,” the hotel says on its website.

A few days after the dinner the restaurant asked its Facebook followers to vote for it as DC’s “Best Restaurant When Someone Else Is Paying”.

A spokesperson for Mr Dutton said the dinner – on the sidelines of the Five Countries Ministerial Meeting – was organised by the department.

“The minister [also] held bilateral meetings with US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and now UK Prime Minister Theresa May, visited the White House and the Director of the CIA and the minister was also negotiating the arrangement with the United States to accept people from Nauru and Manus Island,” she said.

Included among the guests at the dinner were former acting commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection Thomas Winkowski, former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, Alex Nowrasteh of the right-leaning Cato Institute and a number of other migration experts.

Mr Dutton charged taxpayers $36,682 for the trip all up, including $27,800 for business class return airfares.

Immigration Department secretary Mike Pezzullo was also on the trip, with FOI documents showing he had a separate budget of $17,000.

Mr Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced their refugee deal with the US late last year but it’s now in doubt with just a week until the anti-immigration Donald Trump officially takes office.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Pensioners get first reduced payments amid anger over politicians’ entitlements

10/08/2019 Posted by admin

“Absolutely disgraceful”: retiree Helena James says it’s not fair that politicians spend profligately while pensioners have their incomes cut. Photo: Jason South “Absolutely disgraceful”: retiree Helena James says it’s not fair that politicians spend profligately while pensioners have their incomes cut. Photo: Jason South
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Amid simmering anger over politicians’ entitlements and the government’s Centrelink debt clawback, about 327,000 pensioners have had their pension reduced or cut altogether, this week and last.

One of those is 69-year-old Helena James, who estimates her part-time pension income will be halved.

“I would be happy to forsake some of my pension to better the economy,”   Ms James exclaims. “But then to hear that parliamentarians are rorting the system is absolutely disgraceful.”

Ms James worked for 46 years before retiring in Werribee last year. (She still volunteers once a week at the Royal Children’s Hospital.)

The federal government insists its pension reforms, which it passed last year with the support of the Greens, are necessary to secure the long-term viability of the pension.

Treasurer Scott Morrison told 2GB radio in Sydney last month the cuts would bring in “around a billion a year” in savings, and the changes were necessary to keep the pension sustainable.

“When you are faced with an ageing population, let’s not forget the pensions that are paid out today are paid for by today’s taxpayers – the people who are paying taxes today,” he said.

But Victorian pensioners losing payments face a double-whammy; once they lose their pension card they will also be stripped of a range of state-based pensioner discounts, including reduced council rates.

There seems little chance of the Victorian government picking up the slack, with Families Minister Jenny Mikakos​ saying the responsibility rests with the Turnbull government alone.

“Pensioners are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and any cuts to concessions will have a big impact on their day-to-day lives.”

In a statement, Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the changes “only affect those with significant levels of assets other than the family home and who receive a part-pension”.

“The family home remains exempted from the assets test and the changes have been designed so that they only impact pensioners with significant assets outside the family home.”

Under changes introduced in the last budget, which came into effect on January 1, pensioners who own assets above increased thresholds – not including the family home – will receive a reduced fortnightly pension rate.

Single homeowners can have $250,000 in assets, not including their home, before their pension rate is reduced, while homeowner couples can own up to $375,000 in assets before their pension rate is cut.

After that threshold is reached, pensioners will lose $3 for every $1000 they own over the limit, up from $1.50.

The changes will leave about 171,000 pensioners better off; on average $30 a fortnight.

But Labor and the unions have come out swinging against the changes, which will see about 236,000 pensioners lose part of their payments, and another 91,000 lose their pension entirely.

They come into effect amid protracted complaints about the government’s handling of the “clawback” of $4.5 billion in supposed debts, with about 232,000 people served with notices that they owe Centrelink money. It has been estimated that at least one in five of those contacted did not owe a debt.

And therein lies the rub for Ms James.

“I’m happy if my money goes to somebody who really needs it, but I get really cross and these politicians who are just rorting the system,” she says. “We pay them through our taxes…they should be setting an example.”

ACTU assistant secretary Scott Connelly said the government could look elsewhere for cuts, pointing to its proposed corporate tax cuts, which Treasury has estimated will cost the budget at least $48.2 billion over 10 years.

“The politicians that have made this choice are so far disconnected, as we’ve seen in recent days,” Mr Connelly said. “We don’t accept that this is the right decision for the times.”

Council On The Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said there were mixed views on the reduction among members.

“We’ve never advocated a reduction in the pension, but at the time we said this is the least worst of the options around,” Mr Yates said.

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said pensioners were now aware of the “real” impact of the pension cuts. “Mr Turnbull just doesn’t get fairness. He’s taking money off pensioners and at the same time he’s trying to give big businesses and the banks a $50 billion handout.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

This year’s Australia Day lamb ad doesn’t mention Australia Day

10/08/2019 Posted by admin

MLA’s annual ad has dropped all mention of Australia Day. Photo: YouTubeMeat and Livestock Australia’s annual Australia Day lamb ad has traditionally been an exercise in chest-beating patriotism that mocked anyone not celebrating the holiday “properly” – including vegans and those eating “foreign” food.
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This year, it doesn’t mention Australia Day at all.

Amid growing calls to move Australia Day from January 26, the industry group on Thursday released an ad that confronts head-on the controversy around hosting the national day on a date marking the start of colonialism and Indigenous dispossession.

The ad starts with three Indigenous Australians on a beach who remark on being the “first here” but that the beautiful location would be “packed before you know it”.

A procession of boats then arrive, notably starting with the Dutch, followed by the British (whose claim to be the “First Fleet” is met with laughter), the French, Germans, Chinese, Italians, Greeks, Serbians, New Zealanders and finally “boat people”.

“Hang on, aren’t we all boat people?” celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow, of MasterChef fame, asks.

At one point Olympic legend Cathy Freeman asks the hosts what the occasion is. “Do we need one?” is the answer. 

The campaign is a departure from MLA’s previous campaigns starring Sam Kekovich, which since 2005 have painted Australia Day as a sacred occasion and called anyone who eats “foreign” cuisine such as “a number 42 with rice” instead of lamb on January 26 “un-Australian”. ​

January 26 is the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet, which many Indigenous Australians find offensive and have dubbed “Invasion Day”, as it also marks the start of colonisation and frontier violence.

The City of Fremantle has cancelled Australia Day celebrations this year, deeming them culturally insensitive, and will instead host a “culturally-inclusive” event on January 28.

Meanwhile, youth radio station triple J has said it would consider moving the date of its annual Hottest 100 countdown after lobbying from listeners and popular hip-hop group A.B. Original.

MLA’s marketing manager Andrew Howie said the ad was informed by consumer insights and feedback from past campaigns and was about celebrating diversity.

“Ultimately, as the face of Australia continues to evolve and change, we need to make lamb relevant to a diverse, modern Australia,” Mr Howie said in a statement.

The ads will run until January 26.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘Too risky’: Bellamy’s shares sink further amid broker downgrades

10/08/2019 Posted by admin

Bellamy’s on Wednesday revealed that lower than expected sales in China would have a significant impact on its earnings. Photo: Kate GeraghtyShares in troubled Bellamy’s have lost further ground on broker downgrades after the baby formula supplier on Wednesday confirmed chief executive Laura McBain would leave the company and warned of lower annual earnings.
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Bellamy’s shares slid another 17.8 per cent on Thursday to $4.40, adding to Wednesday’s 20 per cent drop after the shares resumed trading following a five-week suspension.

The latest two-day plunge in the share price has reduced the company’s already diminished value by about one-third, or more than $200 million, to just $425.5 million.

On December 1, a day before the company shocked investors with an initial sales warning, its shares were trading at $12.13, valuing the company at nearly $1.2 billion.

Bellamy’s on Wednesday revealed that the lower than expected sales in China would have a significant impact on its earnings, with annual earnings before tax and interest expected to be in the range of $22 million to $26 million, down sharply from $54.3 million a year earlier and well below analyst expectations of $46 million.

In a further sign of turmoil, chief executive Laura McBain and chief financial officer Shona Ollington are leaving the company. Bellamy’s has appointed Andrew Cohen as the acting chief executive.

OrdMinnett is among the brokers that downgraded the stock after its announcement, saying Bellamy’s had changed from structural growth to significant turnaround.

“With significant finished goods inventory on hand, flat sales for three halves expected, lower long-term gross margins than originally forecast, a weaker balance sheet and a channel strategy in need of overhaul, we see the risk profile with BAL as too great to justify investment and as such downgrade to ‘sell’,” OrdMinnett head of research Nicholas McGarrigle said in a note to clients.

“We see the current financial year 2017 PE [price-earnings] multiple of 25x [times] as unreasonably high.”

​The broker also axed its price target from $7.26 to $3.72.

Goldman Sachs put its rating (neutral) and price target ($5.35) under review, saying it needed more detail from the company on its ability to raise debt in the event of a further slowdown in revenues.

“While we do not believe that the brand is permanently impaired, we do hold concerns on whether BAL will be able to regain its lost market share, and hence whether it will be able to return to an appropriate level of growth to meet its guidance for shortfall payments and/or avoid further inventory build as well as allay concerns of an equity raising in the near future,” the bank’s analysts said.

Chairman Rob Woolley on Wednesday would not disclose whether the company was considering a capital raising or if there had been any takeover approaches for Bellamy’s. This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.