Australian Politics 2018-03-25 15:48:00
Malcolm Turnbull declares he will 'stand up' for Australia in response to China's criticism
Clever of Malcolm to learn to say a quotation in Mandarin. But I think he should go easy on China. It will act in its own self-intertest and nothing will change that. Antagonism between nations can be catastrophic
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has struck out at Beijing, speaking Mandarin to declare he will "stand up" for Australians with his tougher foreign interference laws.
The Prime Minister used unusually sharp language to reject China's complaint against him, after he raised concerns this week about Communist Party influence in domestic politics.
"Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words, The Chinese people have stood up'. It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride," he said, switching between speaking Mandarin and English.
"And we stand up and so we say, the Australian people stand up.
"There has been foreign interference in Australian politics."
When announcing new espionage legislation on Tuesday, Mr Turnbull mentioned his concerns about Chinese influence in domestic politics, but insisted the laws were not focused on any one country alone.
Beijing took that personally and fired a diplomatic warning shot, arguing the remarks had "poisoned" the atmosphere of China-Australia relations.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was shocked Mr Turnbull cited media reports about Communist Party interference.
"We are astounded by the relevant remarks of the Australian leader. Such remarks simply cater to the irresponsible reports by some Australian media that are without principle and full of bias against China," Mr Geng said at a regularly scheduled briefing.
Mr Turnbull said he was right to be worried about the role foreigners play in domestic politics, especially after Labor senator Sam Dastyari let a Chinese donor pay a legal bill for him.
"Sam Dastyari is a classic case and the real question is why is Bill Shorten allowing him to stay in the Labor Party, stay in the Senate, when he clearly does not put Australia first? he said.
China trying to 'end Australia's alliance with US'
Defence analyst Malcolm Davis, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said Beijing was trying to intimidate Australia by complaining about references to its interference in domestic politics.
"They are trying to intimidate us and what we have to understand is the reports of Chinese infiltration and attempts to manoeuvre and manipulate Australian politics and Australian political debate are legitimate," Dr Davis said.
"The Chinese are seeking to interfere in our political process."
Mr Davis argued Beijing was trying to gain a strategic advantage in the region.
"Ultimately, their goal is to have Australia become more pro-China, less pro-US, align with Beijing and distance itself from the United States and ultimately end the alliance," he said.
"Everyone understands what China is about, the difference is now we are starting to fight back against them."
Raising NSW dam wall plan 'would flood 50 Aboriginal heritage sites'. Greenies furious
Greenie hatred of dams is as implacable as it is irrational
A proposal to raise the Warragamba dam wall would flood 4,700ha of the Blue Mountains world heritage area, destroying more than 50 recognised Aboriginal heritage sites and wiping out pockets of threatened plant species, conservationists have said.
The $670m plan to raise the dam wall by 14 metres was announced by the New South Wales government in 2016 as a strategy to prevent catastrophic flooding in outer-western Sydney.
It faces strong opposition from conservationists and Gundungurra traditional owners, who say WaterNSW has made it difficult for them to engage in a consultation process and has underestimated the number of cultural heritage sites that will be lost.
Kazan Brown, a Gundungurra woman who has nominated to be part of the Aboriginal consultation group on the project, said she was given four days’ warning of an information session on 20 March. The briefing was held in northern Sydney, more than a three-hour drive in peak-hour traffic from Brown’s home in Warragamba.
Infrastructure NSW said the briefing was “not a mandated part of that consultation process” but invitations were issued to “registered Aboriginal parties”. Four groups accepted but due to “personal circumstances” none turned up.
A second meeting will be held at Katoomba on 27 March.
Brown said raising the dam wall would flood more than 50 Aboriginal heritage sites. A significant number of sites were flooded when the original dam was built.
“They [WaterNSW] are saying that it is going to save more sites downstream,” she said. “But they are talking about different cultures. Everything that is behind the dam wall belongs to the Gundungurra and Dharawal people and everything that’s downstream belongs to the Darug.”
Among the sites at risk behind the dam wall are rock art sites, burial sites and ochre deposits in a cave on the waterline.
Brown said the Gundungurra people could not afford to lose any more heritage sites. “We lost a lot when they first flooded the valley,” she said.
Infrastructure NSW said it was still assessing the impact on Aboriginal heritage sites.
Ecologist Roger Lembit was involved in environmental assessments of a proposal to raise the wall by 23 metres in 1995. A spillway was built instead.
Lembit said he was “very surprised” to see another proposal to raise the dam, especially after the Blue Mountains received world heritage listing in 2000.
“You would think that world heritage meant something,” he said.
The new inundation area includes Camden white gum (Eucalyptus benthamii), which is nationally is listed as vulnerable, and Kowmung hakea (Hakea Dohertyi) which is listed as endangered.
It also contains “highly unusual” mixed ironbark and cypress pine forests, areas of dry rainforest and a substantial number of old growth trees.
The proposal would also flood 65km of wild rivers and streams, according to the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, which will launch a campaign to save the wild rivers on Monday.
The 142m high dam wall was completed in 1960. It fences in Lake Burragorang, a 2,000 gigalitre lake on the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains that provides 80% of Sydney’s water supply.
It guards the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley, which was identified by the Insurance Council of Australia as the most flood-prone area in NSW.
According to the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley flood risk management strategy, which recommended the dam wall be raised, up to 134,000 people live and work on the floodplain. That number is growing as Sydney sprawls westward.
The strategy said raising the dam wall would create “airspace in the dam to temporarily hold back and slowly release flood waters coming from the Warragamba river catchment”, which would reduce the flood risk by 75%.
The proposal was developed in response to the 2011 Brisbane floods, which were triggered by a release from the Wivenhoe dam.
It has already received $58m in state funding and is undergoing ecological assessment. If approved, construction will begin in 2020.
Federal Leftists trying to buy the Catholic vote with schoiol funding
Bill Shorten’s promise to give an extra $250 million to the Catholic school system has been credited as a decisive factor in Labor’s victory in the Batman by-election last weekend. The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria actively campaigned for the Labor candidate, reigniting the war of words between the Turnbull government and some elements of the Catholic education system.
Both the Catholic school system and government school advocates (such as teacher unions) have been rallying against the government’s ‘cuts’ to school spending.
This ignores the facts. Under the Coalition’s Gonski 2.0 plan, real per-student funding for the Catholic school system is going up by 3.7% per year (well above inflation and enrolments) for the next 10 years — and the Catholic system will retain the right to distribute the funding however it likes. Both the government (5.1%) and independent (4.3%) school sectors are receiving large yearly per-student increases as well.
The average increase for each sector is less than it would have been under Labor’s original (unfunded) Gonski 1.0 plan, which was full of ‘special deals’ and funding inconsistencies. While it is reasonable for any group to advocate for more funding, it is highly disingenuous to describe Gonski 2.0 as a ‘cut’.
The Catholic school system should be far more concerned about preserving the right of religious schools to decide who they hire, who they enrol, and what they teach. These freedoms currently rest largely on precarious exemptions to state-based anti-discrimination laws, and are under attack by some activists. Catholic schools should be pushing the major parties — at both state and federal levels — to confirm exactly what their positions are on religious freedom in education.
The priority issue for religious schools at the next federal election should be religious freedom. It would be a shame if it is overshadowed by incessant clamouring about non-existent funding ‘cuts’.
Tasmanian Government agrees to scrutiny on proposed gun law policy
The Tasmanian Government has agreed to open up controversial gun law reform to scrutiny by the state's Upper House, as pressure is applied to the Prime Minister to stop the proposed changes.
Tasmania's Police Minister Michael Ferguson has confirmed the State Government will support a Legislative Council inquiry into gun reform, called for this week by the Independent MLC Ivan Dean.
The Liberal policy, revealed earlier this month on the eve of the state election, would allow greater access to category C firearms such as self-loading rifles and pump-action shotguns for farm workers and sporting shooters.
Licence holders in category C would also be allowed gun silencers.
"We have made it very clear we will not do anything that puts Tasmanians at risk or is inconsistent with the National Firearms Agreement, and the inquiry will be a chance for everyone concerned to have their say on these proposals," Mr Ferguson said.
"It will also allow Labor to explain how they managed to both oppose the proposals, while at the same time promising many of the exact same measures."
Mr Ferguson also hit back at Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten over proposed changes to the state's gun laws, saying he did not know what he was talking about.
In a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Shorten said the proposal was a direct threat to the national consensus on firearms regulation, referring to the National Firearms Agreement that was made after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
"As Prime Minister, you cannot stand by and allow Australia's world-leading gun laws to be watered down," the letter said.
"If, as appears to be the case, that proposal would breach the agreement, I ask you to publicly demand that your Liberal Party colleagues in the Tasmanian Government abandon it."
Mr Ferguson said Mr Shorten was uninformed on the issue. "I'm not sure Mr Shorten knows what he's talking about, and it doesn't look good when party leaders try to play naked party politics," he said.
Roland Browne from Gun Control Australia said the State Government appeared increasingly confused about its own policy.
"The Premier says his advice is it doesn't breach the National Firearms Agreement, now the Upper House wants to have an inquiry into whether it does breach the National Firearms Agreement or not, and then the current Minister says he wants to clarify whether it breaches it," he said.
"What needs to happen is less an inquiry and more the Government being straight with the community and saying 'This is what we were intending to do but we are abandoning those plans', if that is what they are actually doing — it's impossible to know."
Deputy State Opposition Leader Michelle O'Byrne said the Government's support for an inquiry showed how little consultation had been done.
"They're grasping hold of the offer by Upper House member Ivan Dean for an inquiry to give some kind of legitimacy to the appalling pathway that they've constructed," she said. "The Government should take these things off the agenda."
Distance conquered: A direct link to our ancestral home
Australians and Britons have always retained close links of all sorts with one-another, but the physical distance between us has always been a burden. So a direct link is a wonder -- how it should be -- a direct link to our national origins
THE first direct flight from Australia to England has landed, right on time.
The Qantas Dreamliner didn’t quite have a dream run, with a small amount of turbulence early the flight courtesy of Cyclone Marcus, but for the most part was smooth flying.
The plane took off to applause and landed to the same, with the majority of passengers on the flight aware they were part of a history-making event.
The only exception may have been five month old baby Charlie, for whom the moment was lost, and the Boeing Dreamliner’s special features — designed to make flying long-haul routes more comfortable — were redundant.
Addressing the media in his pyjamas on the flight, Qantas chief Alan Joyce said the success of the Perth-London route could pave the way for direct flights from Perth to Paris in the future.
“We do have the rights to fly to Paris daily; we’ve never had those rights before,” he said. “When we last did Paris it was from Singapore to Paris and it was three a week, and it was hard to make it economically work.
“So we are keen on it (starting a Perth to Paris route), we are interested in it, but we need to bed this one down first,” Mr Joyce said. “It’s off to a great start it’s only the first flight but we need to show that economically it’s going to work out.”
Boeing Dreamliners were big investments, priced at $250 million each, so it was vital new operations provided good returns on that investment, he said.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here