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November 2013

It takes a special dedication to go into the heart of the zealot's conference

As I watched these guys I really wondered about their motivation, personally - what was it about the issue that would lead a sane person to prepare, get dressed and go and make a presentation like this to an audience like that.

It's a bit like going to a Hillsong church service to deliver the sermon on how Islam is right and Jesus was a wannabe.

So without knowing their funding, motivation or what they hoped to achieve, here is the last few minutes of the CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) group at Warsaw.


If the ABC was a person you'd charge it with theft by deception. It's Julie Bishop, not Malcolm Turnbull who must act now.

Below is today's example of the ABC promoting its pet interests, contrary to its obligation to promote Australia's interests.

The ABC is paid money - $20M per annum - to deliver a clear understanding of Australian Government policy.   It's paid to promote our interests in a positive fashion.   Why is the spin from the Warsaw climate cash-a-thon present in the space paid for by DFAT?   That's not news judgement - it's theft.   The ABC is using space paid for by DFAT to place someone else's PR.

If the terms of the contract between DFAT and the ABC accurately reflect what DFAT tells us in its Annual Report, then what are we waiting for?   Where is the breach notice, the financial penalty, the serious and public kick in the pants to the ABC?

Harden up DFAT.


Australian Government policy is to wind down our involvement in these multi-lateral bunfests.   We did not send a minister and the mischievous elevation of this issue to number one on the paid-for Australia Network News service is contrary to this nation's interests.

Climate deadlock broken

A $230M contract is a very serious piece of business.  

When it's our money, we have a right to know that we are getting what we are paying for.

Here is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's full financial acquittal of the purpose and amount of money it takes from taxpayers for overseas promotion.

Dfat funding


If I ran a company and paid a PR or ad agency to deliver the things I wanted - only to find out they took my money but ran someone else's ads, I would have difficulty excusing it as "editorial judgement".

Ministers Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb share responsibility for the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolios.  I would like answers on Monday as to what they are going to do - I'll write to the Ministers involved and I'll let you know how I get on.

A case study in diversity of views - the ABC on the Warsaw (precursor to Paris) climate change conference

This is the ABC's take on the Warsaw UN Climate Change conference.


Here's how the ABC news team reported on it.

Warsaw climate talks: Principles of global deal agreed on after deadlock over 'contributions'

Negotiators from about 195 countries have reached consensus on some of the cornerstones of an ambitious climate pact to combat global warming.

Governments agreed at talks in Poland that a new deal would consist of a patchwork of national contributions to curb emissions that could blur a 20-year-old distinction between the obligations of rich and poor nations.

They are aiming for a new global deal to be signed in Paris in 2015 to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set targets for developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

United Nations officials and country representatives took part in meetings for two weeks in Warsaw, which had been due to end last week.

Nearly 24 hours into extra time, a plenary meeting approved a modified text that had been thrashed out during an hour-long emergency huddle.

Negotiators agreed that all countries should work to curb emissions from burning coal, oil and gas as soon as possible, and ideally by the first quarter of 2015.

"Just in the nick of time, the negotiators in Warsaw delivered enough to keep the process moving," said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute think tank.

The pact is due to be agreed in 2015 and come into force after 2020.

John Connor from the Sydney-based Climate Institute was an observer at the talks.

He told the ABC that while Australia's credibility on climate change was affected by the Federal Government's decision not send an elected member, there were some positive outcomes.

"There is no way which we can quietly or secretly backslide on any of our ambition," he said.

"What we should do is actually lift our game and be much clearer so that we're serious about climate action, and that we're going to make strong emissions reductions of up to 25 per cent by 2020 and much more beyond."


I'd love to see how you'd report on it in just a few paragraphs.

Here's mine.

Continuing the trend since Copenhagen in 2009, the multi-national global warming industry is finding it harder and harder to find people prepared to put in any more money.

Major industrial economies continue to make token representations.   In 2009 Kevin Rudd sent an entourage of 114 people to the Copenhagen talks.   This year Australia sent no minister and no major delegation to Warsaw.

Australia was awarded with one significant major award - this video attests to our progress.


ABC editorial standards in impartiality, bias, group-think and the "ABC - line" - Mark Scott's voice from 2006

Mark Scott was announced as the new Managing Director of the ABC on 22 May 2006.  In his press statement Chairman Donald MacDonald AO emphasised Mr Scott's editorial experience:

  • Mr Scott comes to the ABC from John Fairfax Publications, where he is Editorial Director
  • The Board was particularly impressed with his combination of editorial experience, management skills and proven ability to respond to challenges
  • Mr Scott has served in a range of senior roles over the past 10 years, including Editor-in-Chief of Metropolitan, Regional Community Newspapers
  • His current role includes responsibility for editorial direction and management of Fairfax newspapers

Mr Scott started in his job as Editor in Chief in July.   By early October 2006 Mr Scott had toured the country visiting nearly all the ABC's offices.   He'd spoken with the ABC's major critics, its staff and its audiences.   He clearly listened and on the strength of the precision and completeness with which he described the ABC's shortcomings - and the fairly obvious remedies - you'd have to say Mr Scott would have made a great consultant.

The tragedy for Australia is that once he got into the job, he got comfortable and abdicated.   The ABC was allowed to run itself.

Mr Scott announced his editorial requirements of the ABC in a speech to the Sydney Institute on 17 October, 2006.   You can hear the speech in full along with questions and answers here.

Mark Scott ABC1

Mr Scott spoke at length about his listening tour - the data he gathered about what was going on at the ABC.  

Then he set out his detailed requirements of the ABC, in particular in impartiality, bias, group-think and the standards he was prepared to accept - or the behaviours he would reject.

I've done my best to extract some salient points - unedited grabs cut from his speech.

"On being in charge, recognising and responding to criticism."

"The ABC cannot afford to be biased, or seen to be biased, we can take no editorial position on news".


 "We have taken a long look at what it means to be impartial - news to be presented without favour".

 "The requirement for impartiality - each program must demonstrate range of perspectives".

 "Assess each program/platform - demonstrated within each program/platform/radio station".

 "Audiences must not be able to conclude that the ABC has taken an editorial stand on contentious issues of public debate".


 "Must not be narrow in news selection - must make sure journalists please audience not themselves'.

 "Challenge to news directors is to surprise us, don't be predictable". 


More ways the ABC has promoted the Australian national interest - uniting the Islamists against us

From Saturday's Jakarta Post - take a bow ABC, that's quite a feat.

Different groups see Oz 
as common enemy

The ongoing friction between Indonesia and Australia over wiretapping allegations can be seen as a blessing in disguise as it is uniting groups with different ideologies to voice their concerns over what they deem is tantamount to a violation of Indonesia’s sovereignty.

Paramilitary groups like Laskar Merah Putih, the Forum of Indonesian Veterans and Police and Military Retirees (FKPPI) and the Merah Putih Fighters Command shared the same ground outside the Australian Embassy with religious-based organizations like the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the Indonesian Hizbut Tahrir (HTI) to demand Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott apologize for the wiretapping incident.

Under tight police guard, the organizations deployed thousands of members as a sign that they meant business. Many FPI members threw rotten tomatoes and eggs at the embassy’s fence during Friday’s rally.

Earlier, protesters burned Australian flags and a picture of Abbott to express their displeasure.

Public outrage has been widespread, with similar demands being made in other regions, such as Palembang, Yogyakarta and Surakarta. Others have expressed concern that the issue would eventually affect tourism as Australian tourists top the list of foreigners visiting Indonesian shores.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono previously stated that he would wait for the Australian government’s official response. In the meantime, the President has halted information and intelligence exchange activities.

Military cooperation has also been put on hold, as has intercepting boat people headed for Australia.

“The damage is done and things will never be the same again,” said Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University political scientist Burhanuddin Muhtadi.

He said the wiretapping incident was a prime example of issues that frequently upset diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries.

“This would definitely turn diplomatic relations sour, at least until the President’s term ends in October next year.”

Regarding the fact that the incident has united mass organizations with different ideologies to express the same concerns, Burhanuddin said it happened every time a perceived enemy seemingly attempted to breach Indonesia’s sovereignty. 

However, he noticed that the organizations would maintain their own perspectives when dealing with the issue. He added that unlike their paramilitary counterparts that viewed this from a national security perspective, the HTI would view Australia as part of the West infidel that was trying to mess with Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country.

It's the victims, stupid.

When I was a young policeman all of my mates and I had a singular professional driving force - crooks.   Chasing them, investigating them, arresting them, interviewing them, charging them, gaoling them, bailing them, fingerprinting them, raiding them, tailing them, getting intelligence on them - it was crooks, crooks, crooks and there was no shortage of offences.

Most of the study at the Academy was about Offences and Offenders.   A young policeman's suitability for progression into the detective ranks was judged in large part on how busy he had been - and the measure of busy-ness for a young policeman was arrests and successful prosecutions at court.

I didn't think too much about victims, they were not the main game.  The CPS or Community Policing Squad units, dealt with victims.   Real cops chased crooks and dealt with the pointy end of the criminal justice system.

One morning my partner and I got a call to a pretty nondescript block of flats.   Our complainant was a young mum, newly separated from an abusive husband and living along with her 5 year old in a one bedroom apartment over a garage.   Life didn't have a lot of luxuries for the mum and that little bloke.

We'd been called because when the mum went out to go to work and drop the little bloke off - there was no car.   It'd been knocked off and because it was an old VW beatle my partner and I had a reasonable idea of who might have been behind it.   We explained to the young mum that kids taking older cars for joyrides were responsible for most of those types of thefts in our area - sometimes the cars were a bit smashed up but they were usually found dumped locally without too much damage.

I can still remember that morning like it was yesterday.   I couldn't wait to get the details, get out of there and go and chase up the crooks.   I was polite to the young mum - known as a "complainant" in police parlance, but I can see now that I didn't really see her as a victim of crime who'd had her world turned upside down.   I saw her as someone who had all the details I needed to fill out the Crime Report and MO.

That is until genius me turned our portable radio up as the unmistakable sound of a police unit with his siren blaring came up "In pursuit".    It was not a lengthy pursuit, how the kids managed it I've no idea but as we were listening we heard the police from Richmond tell other units to slow down and they called for the ambulance and other rescue services -  the car they were chasing had gone into the Yarra.

One of the police went in after it and the young car thieves were rescued OK.   Then he read out the rego and description.   It was the young mum's car.   I saw first hand what losing that car meant to her.   She had no prospect of replacing it, it wasn't insured and it was her only means of getting her son to care and herself to work.

I remember the insult added to her injury when we had to go back a few days later to tell her about the towing and recovery costs that she would have to bear.

That small story has stuck with me for life.   The courts, the lawyers, "the system" was focussed on the young hooligans in the housing commission flats who'd "gone bad" and their needs, their background, the likelihood of them re-offending and what we needed to do to help them.

And at the heart of it was a broke young mum - a victim - crying her eyes out because someone thought it was OK to steal her car.

The different attitude held by the police I've dealt with from Victoria's Major Fraud Squad is the precise opposite from my gung-ho mates and me.   These police, in particular the detective in charge of the matter, have a more complete victim-centric-focus than I could have imagined possible.

I remember being impressed when the Detective Sergeant in charge of the squad working on the Wilson/Gillad/Blewitt et al matter contacted me to say that the investigation of my complaint had moved beyond assessment and that a team of dedicated detectives was assigned to it "and we will get a result".    He went on to say that it was an offence to the good people of the State of Victoria that this matter had been a festering sore, never properly investigated and just left to fuel rumours and unhealthy suspicions.

But most of all he spoke about the victims.   Every point had a victim-centric focus, the victims were the reason the police swung into action.   I've often remarked since that this bloke has the best bedside manner of any copper I've known - and as a direct result of that focus Bob Kernohan is a different bloke today from the man who'd experienced some of the lowest ebbs life can dish out.

I've now met quite a few members of the Health Services Union.   One lady came along to a speech I gave one night and was kind enough to introduce herself and explain her circumstances to the crowd.   She only worked part-time in a nursing home for a bit of extra money, particularly handy at Christmas time with presents for the grandkids.   But the way the indemnity insurance cover was worked out, she had to pay her HSU annual fee of $600 regardless - and that $600 was a pretty big chunk out of $18,000 in total earnings for the year.

Imagine what a difference $600 could make at Christmas.   Now work out how many HSU members had to put in $600 to finance the $280,000 that went on ATM cash, hookers and the rest of it.

So in going back through the Industrial Registrar and then FWA investigations into the Health Services Union and its report of about $280,000 in real, hard-earned members money gone missing - the thing that strikes me is the abject absence of any thoughts for the rights of the owners of that money.

There were victims.   They should still be the focus until someone is brought to account for taking their money.  No one I know put in $600 of hard labour in a hospital laundry or scrubbing bed-pans to see that money float out the window - gone.   If Craig Thomson said it wasn't him - then where was the action to find out who it was?   How could they just accept it sitting there with no action for so long?

No one who was thinking about the victims could have let the HSU allegations fester like they did.   No one who was thinking about the real victims anyway.

But that is precisely what the new "Your Rights at Work" Labor Party people did.  

I'm amazed that they got away with it - until now.   Thankfully, these things have a way of seeing themselves through to a just conclusion if enough people feel strongly enough about it.

I do, I know you do, and I think this new government feels strongly too.   That's why I think a Royal Commission is in all likelihood swiftly on its way.

To whoever is working on the Terms of Reference for the Commission - please let the victims have the lion's share of the say.

And get them the justice they deserve.

(This paper from Dr John Lourens summarises what the HSU knew and reported to the Industrial Registrar - before Fair Work Australia took over and sat on its hands for years.)


Craig Thomson alleges interference in Fair Work Australia's investigation under parliamentary privilege and he's listened to!

While KPMG and Bernadette O'Neill were settling the letters inviting various people to write in with evidence of interference, KPMG was also planning to go through the computer network, emails, laptops and mobile phones of staff involved in the investigation.

KPMG proposed a "key-word" search of each person's laptop, emails, computer, network drives etc.   The key-words are not noted in the FOI material that's been made public.  

I can see the rationale for this activity but it strikes me as not getting to the heart of the matter.   If one of the investigators was told to go slow, delay, not pursue leads - it beggars belief that the direction would have come explicitly and in writing.  

The failure to commence the investigation for 12 months after Doug Williams's order, the withdrawal of the financial accountant, or the fact that the HSU Credit Card statements went unexamined for 2 years were, I think, better indicators of something other than natural delays in the investigation - yet there was limited enquiry on any of those factors and no finding of any indications of the possibility of interference.

This email lists the people and sets out the method by which they would have their computers, emails etc scanned for KPMG's key words.

It was probably prudent to check the actual investigators from a probity and integrity perspective - police are routinely subject to that sort of oversight.

But what was put in train for a Judicial Officer, a Vice President of the Commission Michael Lawler beggars belief.

On 21 May 2012 Craig Thomson stood up in the parliament for about one hour.   He gave a free ranging speech impugning a former colleague at the HSU as having allegedly threatened to "set Thomson up with hookers".   He also attacked the principal whistleblower accuser Kathy Jackson and her partner Vice President Michael Lawler, a Vice President of the former Industrial Relations Commission, by then Fair Work Australia.

After Craig Thomson's speech, Bernadette O'Neill added another somewhat more controversial name to the list of PCs, email accounts, network drives and mobile phones to be examined.     Deputy Commissioner Michael Lawler.

It's difficult to understand what VP Lawler could have done, what influence he could have exerted.   His job was to sit on the bench in the former Industrial Relations Commission court rooms in Sydney where his job was as a Judicial Officer hearing, determining, making orders and findings on cases brought before him.   No one in the Melbourne FWA unit that reported to the GM Tim Lee or his replacement Bernadette O'Neill had anything to do with him and there was no chain of command that linked him to them.

Vp lawler_001

Vp lawler_002

I am not a judge - but I would love to hear from people who are!   There seems to me to be something unsettling about a General Manager of the administrative wing of an entity who of her own volition engages an external firm to conduct a review of her unit's investigation into serious allegations of wrongdoing against a person Thomson.   The subject of the investigation (ie Thomson, the alleged wrongdoer) names a Judicial Officer under parliamentary privilege saying he has questions to answer - next thing the wheels are in train for his computer, case note, emails, mobile phone to be "imaged" - ie copies of all the data taken?????

Lawler imaging_001

Lawler imaging_002

No warrant, no judicial process just a word with the IT people from the General Manager.

Hey presto, instant copy of the Vice President's iPhone, laptop, emails, the works.   As I understand it VP Lawler did not cooperate, nor would I have I think.

I'm sure no one at KPMG, Fair Work Australia or anywhere else would have yielded to the temptation to look for emails between VP Lawler and Kathy Jackson the whistleblower from the HSU.   What with Bill Shorten having engaged Val Gostencnik to represent him in his action to have an administrator appointed to the HSU and all.

I'll have more on the KPMG review, there is so much data to wade through.   For now, here's Craig Thomson's reaction to the report when it came out.


A personal indulgence, a lapse of self-discipline and an unforgivable breach of protocol

I don't know that you'd have to go back to the Magna Carta to find another offence like this - but I think David Elliot is broadly on the money here.



The man who lead the successful "No Republic" campaign throughout the 1999 referendum has demanded that Governor General Quentin Bryce immediately bring forward her retirement after she breached centuries old conventions by partaking in a blatantly political debate over the constitution and same sex marriage. 

Baulkham Hills MP David Elliott said that not since the Magna Carta was signed has the Crown involved itself in such partisan discussion. 

"If Quentin Bryce wants to debate policy and legislation she should run for Parliament, not use her Vice Regal position to pursue her own political agenda", Mr Elliott said.  

"The Governor General has guaranteed her legacy will be one of division. I urge the Prime Minister to keep this in mind when considering her much eagerly awaited successor." Mr Elliott said. 

Kind regards

David Elliott MP
Member for Baulkham Hills

This is for my mate Bob Kernohan! That photo I promised you has turned up, old school workers including my dad.

This is a group of my dad's workmates and bosses from the Mortdale Railway Workshops in Sydney, dated 27 April 1977.

My dad is 2nd from the left, seated and partially obscured.   It must have been a fairly significant event to warrant the cake and the official photographer from the railways.

I've looked at that photo many times over the years - and described it to Bob and others many more.   I see my dad and his mates - honest, hard working men who were proud of what they made and who could rely on each other 100%.

The thought that someone like a union official would rip the other blokes off - take their money - was just an anathema, impossible to imagine.

But the idea that a union boss would rip off the workers, and then a Labor Government would get in behind the union boss to support him and not the people who got ripped off would have disgusted those men and left them in utter disbelief.

So while we wallow our way through a lot of the slime that passes for latter day smart-operator legal and consultancy tactics, just spare a thought for the people who count.

The workers.   And the way they used to be, proud, upright men whose morals would have kept us out the mire lesser individuals created for us.

Dad at mortdale

Department of Foreign Affairs financial statements - $20M to ABC for the Australia Network per annum with strings.

Dfat funding

$20,000,000 per year to the ABC with strings attached.   To project a positive and contemporary image of Australia and promote a clear understanding of government policies and objectives through the department's public diplomacy, cultural and media activities.

Perhaps the ABC can explain how this lead item today fits that bill?   Promoting understanding of government policies and objectives?   Positive image of Australia?

This yarn goes out of its way to put the Labor Party line first in so blatant a way that it's laughable.

No one wants to see government propoganda statements presented under the guise of news reports - but how is this not Labor Party propoganda presented in the same way?

The Julia Gillard quote "Now Mr Abbott, promise not to tap the Indonesian President's phone in the future please" is up there with "when did you stop beating your wife" for chutzpah.   Any alleged phone tapping took place when Rudd was running the show - Abbott was in opposition - but you'd be struggling to get that sense here.

Asylum embarrassment


The Labor Party has condemned the Federal Government's silence on the details of the rift with Indonesia over border protection.

Indonesia has frozen people smuggling cooperation measures after leaked documents revealed Australian agencies spied on the president, his wife and inner circle in 2009.

During his weekly briefing today on asylum seeker arrivals, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said he was sure Indonesia would continue with strong border protection measures because it's in Jakarta's "national interest".

He maintained Australia's efforts to stop the boats will go forward "unaffected".

But when he was pressed for more detail about how the diplomatic impasse will affect border protection operations, Mr Morrison said commenting further on "sensitive" issues would "not assist" the national interest.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has taken the lead on dealing with the issue and his office has told the ABC a running commentary will not be provided.

Today, former prime minister Julia Gillard said Mr Abbott should promise not to tap the Indonesian president's phone in the future.

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles says the Government is refusing to answer simple questions and the minister's Friday media briefings are becoming "a weekly embarrassment".

"This has descended to a new level of secrecy," Mr Marles said.

"This is in direct contradiction of the commitment that the Abbott Government made before the last election to lead a government which would be open and transparent."

He says Australians have a right to know what is happening.

"I think we can all understand the Minister would seek to be careful with his words. That's fair enough," Mr Marles said.

"But to have no words at all is not fair enough."