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February 2014

Picture a Julia Gillard effigy being molested at a public event of which Fairfax's scribe says "that spirit feels good".

Soundwave sounds like fun.

Shock and Gwar: Soundwave music festival is not for faint-hearted

February 24, 2014 - 12:51PM

Reviewed by Kate Hennessy

An open-minded wander here may find you soaked sunhat-to-sandal in fake blood from the decapitated head of a Tony Abbott effigy.

Because, really, it is the crowd's dedication that makes Soundwave so satisfying, regardless of the line-up's peaks and troughs. There are few here solely to drink, chat, take phone photos, or look smokin' hot in small denim shorts. They are here for the music, and whether you love, hate or just find the bands amusingly anachronistic, that spirit feels good.


Bill Shorten, how could it be a "pathetic stunt" to make sure Craig Thomson appears for a privileges hearing?

A pathetic stunt?   Anything that repairs some of the damage Craig Thomson did with his egregious and wilful contempt of the Parliament, the truth and each of us has to be worth doing.   A pathetic stunt?  In Latika Bourke's story it's a spokesman for Shorten who put the words together - but what a stupid decision to try to diminish the importance of getting Thomson to answer for his actions.

Craig Thomson fraud case: Bill Shorten says privileges committee inquiry a 'pathetic stunt'

Updated 1 hour 20 minutes ago


Shorten slams inquiry as 'pathetic stunt'

On Wednesday Mr Shorten said the privileges committee should be above politics but today Manager of Opposition Tony Burke said the Labor Party will be supporting the referral.

"The motion that is now before the House has but one amendment which is, quite appropriately, to incorporate the findings of the magistrates court," Mr Burke said.

"As we supported it in the last parliament, we support it in this Parliament."

However, a spokesman for Mr Shorten today slammed the Government's tactics as a "pathetic stunt".

"If Christopher Pyne had bothered to check, Craig Thomson has already been referred to the privileges committee – with the support of Labor," he said.

"This referral, which remains live, was put on hold by the committee while judicial proceedings were underway.

"This just highlights the pathetic stunts that Christopher Pyne will play rather than actually getting on with the job of Education Minister that taxpayers pay him to do."

Bill Shorten's lawyer Val Gostencnik had all the documents - why not release them to the public?

The Australian newspaper today reports on moves by the Government to give you access to the supporting evidence Fair Work Australia produced in its report into Craig Thomson.   The material is in the Appendices to the Report that have not yet been made public.  


Push for Thomson Senate documents


THE Coalition will push the Senate to release thousands of pages of secret documents unearthed during investigations into former Labor MP and convicted union thief Craig Thomson.

Senior Coalition figures hope the move could expose further detail about webs of union cronyism and corruption, and further wedge Bill Shorten on his obstruction of government efforts to launch inquiries into such activities.

The Coalition also plans to challenge the Opposition Leader to support a parliamentary inquiry into whether Thomson committed contempt of parliament when, in 2012, he made an extraordinary and tearful hour-long speech to the House of Representatives in which he denied the allegations of abuse of union funds he was convicted of last week.

Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is leading a renewed charge to publicly unveil source material documented during the Fair Work Commission’s three-year investigation into the Health Services Union when Thomson was its national secretary. Senator Fierravanti-Wells is understood to have the support of senior ministers.

The government is understood to also be of the view that the FWC investigation documents should be made available to the planned Royal Commission into union finances and misconduct.

A senior government source told The Australian: “We will be exploring mechanisms to be able to release the documents which have been sitting in a Senate committee for a considerable period of time.”

The government has been mounting a sustained offensive against Labor over the Thomson affair, new revelations of alleged union and employer corruption in the building industry and the Opposition Leader’s resistance to inquiries into these matters.

Yesterday the government’s chief tactician in the lower house, Christopher Pyne, said the Coalition would hold Mr Shorten responsible if he did not back a parliamentary inquiry into Thomson’s speech to parliament in which he lied and made false allegations against others.

The evidence contained in the Appendices to the FWA Report was not made public, but it was given in its entirety to Bill Shorten's lawyer Val Gostencnik several weeks in advance of the public release of the Report itself.    Gostencnik/Shorten had one of the rarest editions in legal publishing history.   An entire set of the Fair Work Australia report and its Appendices - and that was information that Shorten and his lawyer mate put to good use in Shorten's Application for an Administrator to the HSU.  


This extract is from a story I wrote for The Australian on 16 November 2013.

The target named by police was a former union official, Thomson. The direction not to act on the Australian government solicitor's legal advice came from a former union official, Lee. He enlisted a former union official, Gostencnik, to "settle" that advice in a letter to police.

Later when FWA wanted its investigation into the HSU independently reviewed, it turned to Gostencnik to recommend the reviewer. He suggested KPMG and FWA accepted his recommendation immediately and without tender. The effect was that Gostencnik chose the reviewer to report on the quality of work that had been guided by Gostencnick's own legal advice.

Pressure mounted for the release of the FWA report into Thomson week by week. By April 1 last year it was long overdue. The transmission of the report to a Senate committee (to engage parliamentary privilege for its public release) was still weeks away, but FWA sent Gostencnik the report and its appendices on April 3 last year. Just days later he began an action in the Federal Court on behalf of minister Bill Shorten, seeking orders that an administrator be appointed to the HSU. That action was said to have damaged the interests of Jackson, named in the then unreleased FWA report.

She could not know what was in the full report, but Gostencnik did and Shorten's application compounded its advantage by funding courtesy of the taxpayer. Gostencnik swore a detailed affidavit in those proceedings on behalf of Shorten, displaying exquisite knowledge of the HSU's affairs and its internal who's who.

ABC1's Lateline program reported on Shorten's court move on April 26 last year.

Shorten said on the program:: "I would hope that the warring Jackson-Williamson groups would actually recognise that an administrator is a good step forward."

HSU official Jackson told Lateline: "This (should) not be about putting an administrator in place that suits Bill Shorten ... he wants to make sure that he ends up in a position where he controls this union personally, not as the minister - personally, that's what I'm offended about.

Jackson is alluding to the Labor Party faction and national conference votes held by each union. It's through control of those voting blocks that political careers are made. It's hard to argue Shorten didn't have an advantage in those proceedings by selecting the learned Gostencnik, whose legal library boasted one of the few complete FWA reports into the HSU, information no one else had.

Then opposition leader Tony Abbott said, "What does the government know about the Health Services Union that it wants to put it into administration for? What misuse of money, what maladministration, what potentially criminal activity is the government aware of?"

While Gostencnik was giving legal advice to Shorten, FWA's report into Thomson remained tightly and confidentially held.

Affected parties were shown the elements of the report referring to them and were given time to respond. Until those processes were completed, the report would officially remain a tightly controlled secret.

Three days after Shorten applied for a court-appointed administrator to the HSU, prime minister Gillard fronted the cameras. "I do believe a line has been crossed here and because a line has been crossed, I have acted," she told a media conference, referring to Thomson (and separately to Speaker Peter Slipper).

Gillard had asked Thomson to quit the Labor Party. It had been her call alone and she volunteered that she had not consulted cabinet about the issue.

As The Australian reported at the time, "Mr Thomson's resignation from the party comes as two damning reports on the scandal-plagued HSU are due to be made public in the coming days and weeks. Fair Work Australia has promised to soon hand over its long-delayed report to the Senate's education, employment and workplace training committee."

FWA's general manager would not name Thomson or any other official in connection with the report. General manager Bernadette O'Neill was "not protected against defamation" claims. Her concern for herself would go down poorly in police stations, where every charge, arrest and decision to caution brings the same exposure.

Newspapers in Australia have two edition-free days - Good Friday and Christmas Day. This year, late on Easter Thursday, Shorten announced Gostencnik's appointment as a FWA commissioner. He promoted Gostencnik to director of Fair Work Building and Construction just three months later.

One of Gostencnik's last acts before his appointment to the bench was to draft and file the FWA statement of claim setting out the allegations against Thomson. That legal process is now headed to a mediated settlement by mutual agreement of Thomson and his investigators.


Further reading


Memo to The Greens. Where's the outrage? Introduced vermin ruining CI ecosystem - courtesy of the illegal boats you've encouraged.

Just imagine that this lizard ran down a line from a US Navy man-o-war.   The Greens would have conniptions.  But this biohazard, this threat to the Christmas Island fragile ecosystem comes courtesy of Sri Lankan boat people.   Thus, it's really no hazard at all. Just a cute little lizardy critter in need of some 5 star TLC.

Pig's backside it is!   You know it's impossible to find an outraged Greens' Senator when you need one!

One for the greenies_001 One for the greenies_002

One for the greenies_003


The Privileges Committee investigation into Craig Thomson misleading the House

There's a little bit of misinformation about this matter - largely courtesy of Fairfax.

I thought it would be useful to clear it up prior to the new Parliament properly dealing with the contempt in which Thomson has held us and the House.

21 May, 2012 - Craig Thomson makes a one hour speech to the House of Representatives, falsely names Marco Bolano as having threatened to set him up with hookers.

22 May, 2012 - the House of Representatives referred this matter to the House Privileges Committee

Inquiry into whether in the course of his statement of 21 May 2012, the Honourable Member for Dobell deliberately misled the House (lapsed)

Terms of Reference: On 22 May 2012, the House referred to the Committee the following matter:

having regard to the matters raised in the House on 22 May 2012 by the Manager of Opposition Business, whether in the course of his statement of 21 May 2012, the Honourable Member for Dobell deliberately misled the House.

The matters raised by the manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne are these:

Pyne complaint to house privileges committee_001 Pyne complaint to house privileges committee_002 Pyne complaint to house privileges committee_003 Pyne complaint to house privileges committee_004

On 24 May, 2012, this article by Michelle Grattan appeared in the Fairfax press

Privileges re Thomson leal_016

On 24 May, 2012, Craig Thomson booked some time with the friendly ABC to complain about the way commercial media organisations reported his lies.

Thomson's drinking partner Anthony Albanese chipped in with a barb aimed at the opposition, the presumed source of the 'leak' to Michelle Grattan:

The Government Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese, says he would be astonished if a Labor MP was responsible for the leak.

He also questioned why the Opposition chose to remove relative new-comer John Alexander from the committee with one of its most experienced MPs, Philip Ruddock.

Mr Albanese has appealed to the Opposition to stop its laser-like focus on Mr Thomson and get back to the business of debate about government policy.

Yvette D'Ath, the Chair of the Privileges Committee made the following statement about the "leak".

"The details in the article seem to indicate that there has been an unauthorised disclosure of the internal proceedings of the committee," she said.

"At the meeting, the committee specifically discussed that it was important the members not disclose matters from the committee whilst it was considering a very important issue of privilege that had been referred by the House.

"I am extremely disappointed that this disclosure has occurred and I am unsure of the source of the disclosure."

The Committee met over the next few weeks.   Not to rule on Thomson's misleading of the House - but to find out who leaked its proceedings to Michelle Grattan!

On 20 August, 2012, Yvette D'Ath presented the Committee's report into the leaking allegations - and an allegation that Thomson had failed to update his pecuniary interest register to show the payment by the Labor Party of his legal bills.   Note that the committee did not report on the substantive matter of the claim Thomson misled the House.


Yvette dath_002


Yvette dath_003

Here is a link to the Committee's report into the leak.   The big issue was the leak - not Thomson and his lies.

Privileges thomson Contents Members Intro Intro two

Privileges re Thomson leal_011

Privileges re Thomson leal_012 Privileges re Thomson leal_013 Recommendations


That didn't stop Fairfax from making this unforgivable and egregious error in its report on the day.

'No grounds' to pursue Thomson: committee


August 20, 2012
Jessica Wright

Breaking news reporter for The Age

The parliamentary privileges committee has cleared the scandal-plagued former Labor MP Craig Thomson over allegations of misleading parliament and failing to declare details of his finances on the pecuniary interests register.



Anyone could make the mistake as a journalist in the heat of the moment - as Jessica Wright did, in not checking her facts before reporting that the Privileges Committee had "cleared Thomson over allegations of misleading parliament".

The fact that the error remains uncorrected in a journal of record like Fairfax's Sydney Morning Herald nearly two years later is unforgivable. 

The error is to Thomson and Labor's benefit.   Nothing to see here, move along, Thomson's been cleared.  Fairfax said-so, or maybe it was wishful thinking.   Because now we know better.  Now we know that Thomson is a convicted thief, fraudster and known liar.

This 44th Parliament must not fail where the 43rd did.   This time, the Parliamentary Privilege that Thomson misused must be balanced with the Parliamentarian's responsibility.

Bring Thomson back to the bar of the House.   Then take the prisoner down.





Scott Morrison on the death in custody of Iranian illegal immigrant the late Reza Berati


Video courtesy of News Limited - read full report at here.


“You don’t want a wimp running border protection, you want someone strong and decent. And Scott Morrison is both strong and decent,’’ Mr Abbott said on Sunday.

However, Labor has accused the Immigration Minister of “losing his grip’’ on the detention centre, while the Greens have called for him to be sacked.

They urged Mr Morrison to explain exactly what — and when — he knew about the riots, after he backflipped on the circumstances surrounding the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati.

During a hastily arranged press conference in Sydney on Sunday afternoon, Mr Morrison said he was told on Saturday that he had misinformed the public that the riot had taken place outside the detention centre.

He now says the majority of the violence that resulted in the death of 23-year-old Berati and left 62 other asylum seekers injured actually happened inside the Papua New Guinea facility.

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles attacked Mr Morrison for releasing the new information late on Saturday night, labelling it “tricky media management’’.

While Mr Morrison said it was “regrettable’’ that his initial information had not been correct he declared he had delivered it in “good faith’’.

“Information is rarely perfect so soon after the event,’’ he said. “Any early reports are always qualified along these lines.’’

Campbell Newman's LNP government suffers a 16% swing in a by-election - Yvette D'Ath

Yvette D'Ath has won the seat of Redcliffe with a resounding swing of 16%.  

Here's Queensland's Sunday Mail newspaper with the story.

Labor's Yvette D'Ath wins Redcliffe by-election as Campbell Newman blames Scott Driscoll

CAMPBELL Newman has suffered the first defeat of his previously unblemished political career with voters turning against the Liberal Nationals in yesterday's Redcliffe by-election.

With a swing against the Newman Government of more than 16 per cent, Labor candidate and former Federal MP Yvette D'Ath easily defeated the LNP's Kerri-Anne Dooley, earning a second political career.

The LNP's loss of Redcliffe takes to five the number of electorates lost through defeat and defections since 2012 but the Government still holds seven more seats than Labor did at its zenith in 2001.

Disgraced former member Scott Driscoll, who resigned from Parliament last year after being found guilty of contempt, cast a dark shadow over the LNP's efforts to reclaim the seat.

However, the by-election was also a hotbed of other issues, constantly forcing the Government on the defensive.

Mr Newman said the people of Redcliffe had been let down by the previous MP but he also shouldered some of the responsibility for the loss.

"I take responsibility for other factors this evening as the LNP leader and as Premier," Mr Newman said last night.