Australian Politics 2019-02-25 15:41:00

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Australia's largest cargo ship unveiled

Something of a pity that it was built in China.  Various Australian yards could have built it.  Tasmania's own INCAT, for instance.  But China's price undoubtedly was lowest

It is one boat Scott Morrison has welcomed with open arms. Australia's largest cargo ship, the Tasmanian Achiever II, was unveiled on Sunday at Burnie in northwest Tasmania.

The 210-metre-long vessel, along with another of the same size, were built by transport company Toll and will up the Bass-Strait shipping capacity of the company by 40 per cent.

Mr Morrison was aboard the ship, slated to make its first commercial trip in March, for a champagne naming ceremony as part of a two-day trip to the Apple Isle's north and northwest.

"Well this is one boat I want to start ... because it's driving jobs," the prime minister said.

The two ships cost $172 million and came with an investment of similar size to upgrade wharfs in Burnie.

Mr Morrison said it was an important day for the island's trade.

The state's rate of export growth increased by 14 per cent last year, above the national average, Premier Will Hodgman said.

"This a true demonstration of a state that is powering ahead," he said. "This investment will ensure that our world-class produce can reach expanding markets both domestically and internationally."

Mr Morrison brushed aside a reporter's question asking whether it was ironic he was celebrating the naming of a boat not long after releasing a video message telling people smugglers not to waste their money coming to Australia.

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Sir Lunchalot gets off



Former NSW minister Ian Macdonald has had his conviction quashed and will face retrial for misconduct in public office.

The former Labor politician has been in custody since 2017 when he was jailed for 10 years, with a minimum of seven, after being found guilty of two counts of wilful misconduct in public office.

But on Monday, five Court of Criminal Appeal judges quashed the 69-year-old's conviction and ordered a new trial.

They did the same for former union boss John Maitland, who was jailed for six years with four years non-parole on two charges of being an accessory to the alleged misconduct.

Macdonald was alleged to have favoured the interest of Doyles Creek Mining, chaired by Maitland, over the interests of the state when he granted a Hunter Valley coal exploration licence in 2008 without a competitive tender.

Maitland ultimately made $6million after selling shares related to the deal.

Macdonald's lawyer, Phillip Boulton SC, wasted no time applying for bail in the NSW Supreme Court and it was granted by Justice Natalie Adams, prompting Macdonald's wife to cry and embrace a supporter.

Under his bail, he'll have to reside in the Blue Mountains, report to police once a week, not approach any points of international departure or contact prosecution witnesses except through his lawyer.

Maitland, now 72, who was also granted bail, will reside in Sydney's eastern suburbs but otherwise faces similar conditions.

In 2017, a jury found Macdonald guilty of two counts of public misconduct while Maitland was found guilty as an accessory. 

Mr Macdonald's barrister, Phillip Boulton, SC, argued that it was never adequately proven to the jury that his intentions by closing the deal were 'improper', The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mr Boulton argued that Justice Christine Adamson had provided 'misleading' and 'confusing' directions to the jury, they also argued his sentence was 'excessive' and that evidence against him was 'compulsorily obtained'.

'The learned trial judge misdirected the jury in relation to the elements of common law offence of misconduct in public office in relation to both charges,' court documents read.

'The jury's verdicts were unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence.'

'A miscarriage of justice was occasioned on account of evidence now available to the appellant.'

An administrative hearing for the men's retrial has been slated for March 1.

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Scott Morrison lashes Labor’s strategic ship fleet plan

A government shipping line!  Who in their right mind would use that?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed Labor’s plan to create a strategic shipping fleet, arguing lifting the number of Australian-flagged vessels serves union demands.

The federal opposition has announced a plan to establish the fleet, which is likely to include up to a dozen vessels including oil tankers, container ships and gas carriers.

The Australian-flagged and crewed vessels will be privately owned and operate on a commercial basis, but could be requisitioned by the government in times of need.

Mr Morrison said Labor had not committed to properly building Australia’s Navy, failing to commission one ship when they were last in government. “They seem to be more interested in doing what the MUA tells them to do, the maritime union, than what the Australian people want them to do,” he told reporters in Hobart on Sunday.

He said the coalition had undertaken the biggest naval shipbuilding program since the Second World War.

“That is the scale of our commitment when it comes to our naval shipbuilding program,” the prime minister said.

Labor has warned Australia’s merchant fleet is disappearing, despite relying on shipping to move 99 per cent of imports and exports.

The number of Australian-flagged vessels has shrunk from 100 to 14 over the past 30 years.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said the decline had destroyed the jobs of seafarers and created a situation where essential fuel supply vessels were not crewed by Australians. “The existence of a vibrant Australian shipping industry serves the nation’s economic, environmental and national security interests,” they said in a statement.

An elected Labor government would first appoint a task force to guide the establishment of a fleet.

Labor has also pledged to re-establish the scrapped Maritime Workforce Development forum and enforce existing laws around coastal shipping.

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Cartoon of Serena Williams ruled OK



A controversial cartoon depicting tennis player Serena Williams “spitting the dummy” following her US Open loss last September has been backed by the Australian Press Council.

“The council considered that the cartoon uses exaggeration and absurdity to make its point but accepts the publisher’s claim that it does not depict Ms Williams as an ape, rather showing her as ‘spitting the dummy’, a non-racist caricature familiar to most Australian readers,” the council said on Monday.

The cartoon, which sparked worldwide controversy for its alleged bias, racism and stereotyping, depicted the tennis star jumping in the air, with a broken racquet and baby pacifier on the ground.

In the cartoon, by Mark Knight in the Herald Sun, an umpire is shown saying, “Can you just let her win?” to a woman standing on the other side of the net.

It referred to an incident during the tennis grand slam final between Williams and Japan’s Naomi Osaka on September 9.

Williams, who was seeking a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title, was given a warning for a coaching violation before incurring a point penalty for smashing her racket.

After accusing the umpire of being “a thief for stealing a point from me”, she was docked a game.

In a statement, the Australian Press Council acknowledged some readers found the cartoon offensive but accepted there was a sufficient public interest in commenting on Williams’ behaviour and sportsmanship during the pivotal match.

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