Monthly Archives: May 2019

 

May 7, 2019

Comments Off on Activist in High Court ‘free speech’ bid

Activist in High Court ‘free speech’ bid

Far-right activist Blair Cottrell, who made a video beheading a dummy in protest of a Bendigo mosque, has flagged he aims to fight for free speech in the High Court.

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The United Patriots Front leader briefly appeared in the County Court of Victoria on Thursday for an appeal mention after he was convicted in September of inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims alongside supporters Neil Erikson and Christopher Neil Shortis.

Magistrate John Hardy previously said the trio had “crossed the line” with the October 2015 stunt.

During the video, the men beheaded a mannequin, with red liquid flowing from its head and body, outside the Bendigo City Council offices while chanting “Allahu Akbar”.

Mr Hardy said the video was made to induce “as many like-minded people” as possible to their anti-mosque rally planned for six days later.

He convicted the men and fined them $2000 each plus $79.50 in statutory costs – the first convictions under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.

The trio initially indicated they would each appeal their conviction but only Cottrell will continue with his bid.

On Thursday his lawyer John Bolton asked for the appeal to be adjourned after lodging an 18-page notice of a constitutional matter.

He said Cottrell had been charged with an “invalid law” under the Australian Constitution.

“I say the law’s invalid so why should my client have to defend anything?” Mr Bolton said.

The appeal hearing, which had been set down for August 27 and 28, has now been vacated while Cottrell attempts to take the matter to the higher court.

Mr Bolton told AAP “free speech” was protected under the constitution, “which protects political discourse”.

He also described the charge on which Cottrell was convicted as an “Islamic blasphemy law”.

“My position is my client shouldn’t have to go to trial on a law that is invalid,” he said.

Cottrell previously said his conviction had set a dangerous precedent, claiming “blasphemy charges” destroyed his freedom of speech.

Cottrell is due back at court on November 27 for a further directions hearing.

During that hearing, the court will be updated on the success of Cottrell’s High Court constitutional bid.

 

May 7, 2019

Comments Off on Raiders ‘no clue’ on NRL kicking duties

Raiders ‘no clue’ on NRL kicking duties

Canberra’s Josh Hodgson says they still don’t know who will assume kicking duties against Cronulla.Canberra are still guessing who will assume the kicking duties against Cronulla with injuries to star Raiders Jarrod Croker and Aidan Sezer.

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Back-rower Jack Murchie, 21, will make his NRL debut by coming off the bench in place of Sezer after the halfback injured his hamstring at training on Tuesday.

Sezer was locked in to do Canberra’s goal-kicking after slotting in seamlessly to the job when Croker was injured early in the Raiders’ victory over North Queensland.

But with Croker out for the remainder of the season because of a dislocated knee cap and Sezer on the sidelines indefinitely, the Raiders are forced to finding fresh kicking options.

Hooker Josh Hodgson, who will captain the Raiders in Croker’s absence, has ruled himself out of performing the duty but did throw surprise candidates into the mix.

Hodgson says he would love to see forwards Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo take some kicks, revealing their kicking game was more than capable.

“We’ve got absolutely no clue at the minute,” Hodgson said.

“I’m tipping big Papa (Papalii) or Juns (Paulo)… honestly no-one believes me but they can kick goals.

“I was going throw my name in the hat but I’ll stick to football.”

Blake Austin comes into the starting line-up for Friday night’s game following Sezer’s injury after the team had been named.

Canberra will be missing five key players for the trip to Southern Cross Group Stadium, with Shannon Boyd, Joseph Tapine and Jack Wighton already on the sidelines.

The Raiders sit two games outside of the top-eight, while Cronulla are three games ahead in sixth on the ladder.

“We know it’s going to be tough going there for the result with a few people out,” Hodgson said.

“The Sharks are obviously going to be favourites but we’ve just got to go out there and put our best foot forward.”

 

May 7, 2019

Comments Off on Public ownership models that introduce competition into the energy market

Public ownership models that introduce competition into the energy market

BRIGHT LIGHT: NSW politicians should note the great success of publicly owned energy retailer Robin Hood Energy in the UK, the author says. History moves in cycles, like fashion.

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In the early 1800s energy was normally provided to towns and cities by private Joint Stock Companies; they brought gas-light into towns and cities throughout Britain, Europe, America and Australia.

By the second half of the 19th Century, however, the provision of essential services by private companies had fallen out of fashion; for good reason.

Australia and Britain had both experienced price gouging by monopolies; the same market failures recently reported by the ACCC in the Australian energy sector.

By 1891, the Sydney Morning Herald was editorialising that electricity supply should be in public hands. The NSW Parliament agreed and gave the rights to generate and distribute electricity to the Sydney Municipal Council. This type of “municipal socialism” emerged in Britain during the 1870s when Joseph Chamberlain became Mayor of Birmingham. Elected on a Liberal platform, Chamberlain forcibly purchased two companies supplying gas to the city and set up the publicly owned Birmingham Corporation Gas Committee, providing inexpensive energy while still turning a profit.

Australian public ownership of energy generation evolved, as technological change allowed, from individual municipalities to the state-wide NSW Electricity Commission.

Although widely derided by proponents of privatisation as a cumbersome and inefficient government dinosaur, the NSW Electricity Commission more than trebled the state’s power capacity in its first decade.

The dinosaur also produced the cheapest and most reliable power supply in the world.

Then fashion changed again.

From 1992, successive stupid and/or corrupt state governments, espousing the dogma of privatisation providing customer choice, competition and cheaper electricity, embarked on a process to dismantle a successful utility and offer its components to corporate raiders.

A measure of the foolishness displayed in this privatisation can be seen in the disposal of the stateowned coal mines which supplied NSW power stations. In 1992 these mines were split off into a separate entity; Powercoal. In 2002 the Carr Government sold Powercoal to a private company, Centennial Coal, for AU$306 million. In 2010, Centennial Coal was sold to a Thai company, Banpu, for US$2 billion.

At today’s exchange rate, that’s a transfer of more than $2.4 billion Australian dollars in value from the taxpayers of NSW to the shareholders of Centennial Coal; nice work if you can get it.

The transfer of coal supply to foreign ownership is just one of the factors that have contributed to the failure of privatisation to deliver any of the promised benefits and the market failures listed by the ACCC.

Similar conditions have prevailed in the British energy market which was also privatised in the 1990s. Control of their power supply fell into the hands of an oligarchy known as “The Big Six;” companies who now control over 80% of their market.

As in Australia, this concentration of ownership and consequent market failure has resulted in unaffordable price gouging and “energy poverty”. In response to the failure of British privatisation, in 2015 the Nottingham City Council set up a publicly owned energy retailer called Robin Hood Energy.

Although criticised by opponents as a “naive” adventure sure to cost the Council money, Robin Hood has been able to offer energy at over $420 p.a. less than the Big Six and still repay their startup costs within three years.

In fact, Robin Hood’s success has spawned a number of similar municipal enterprises across Britain, including London, Bristol, Liverpool and Islington.

With a state election due next year, Luke Foley and the Labor Party could do worse than look at these examples of public ownership introducing actual competition into the energy market.

The pendulum of history has swung in that direction.

Chris Craig is a Lake Macquarie author and commentator

 

May 7, 2019

Comments Off on Refugee advocates target political leaders

Refugee advocates target political leaders

Vigils are being held outside the offices of politicians including the prime minister and opposition leader to mark the fifth anniversary of offshore processing.

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“We remind politicians from both old parties that these five years has condemned 12 people to early death through violence, medical neglect and despair,” refugee support advocate Pamela Curr said in a statement.

The Refugee Council says more than 3000 children and adults have endured “enormous mental and physical harm”, yet the government continues to hail the policy as a success.

Other countries are seeking to mirror the policy as refugee numbers rise around the world.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters earlier this week the government restored control over Australia’s borders, after Labor allowed 50,000 unauthorised arrivals and at least 1200 people died on dangerous sea voyages.

“The bottom line is we have got our immigration system working exclusively for Australia – the Australian government controls our borders, once again, and so it’s going very well,” he said.

Labor’s Mark Butler said the coalition had made the processing centres into “centres of indefinite detention”, rather than temporary residences while resettlement places were sought.

Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim said there were children born in offshore detention who had “spent their whole lives in exile” and it was time to let those remaining in the system come to Australia.

“Labor locked them up, and the Liberals threw away the key.”

When Kevin Rudd seized back the prime ministership in mid-2013 he toughened the Labor party’s stance on “stopping the boats”, to counter then-opposition leader Tony Abbott’s mantra.

On July 19 of that year the prime minister announced Australia had entered into an arrangement with Papua New Guinea to have all boat arrivals to be transferred there for processing and subsequent settlement in PNG or a participating regional country.

He later struck another deal with the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru.

 

May 7, 2019

Comments Off on Man charged over Canberra Hospital shots

Man charged over Canberra Hospital shots

A man who allegedly wrestled a gun from a police officer and opened fire while under guard at a hospital in Canberra has been charged with attempted murder.

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The man is accused of assaulting police about 4pm on Wednesday, taking one of their weapons and firing it as he tried to escape.

He was soon restrained by police, and no-one was injured during the incident.

ACT Policing say the man has now been charged with two counts of attempted murder, assault and attempting to escape custody.

The 26-year-old was being held at Canberra Hospital after being arrested over a serious traffic incident on Wednesday morning.

Witnesses told the Nine Network they heard shouts of “Code Black!” as the hospital was put into lockdown.

“My wife couldn’t get in to see her little boy for about an hour and a half. It was a little bit (scary),” said Dane O’Connell, who was in the emergency department with his young son.

“I couldn’t do anything really … police were everywhere.

“My phone was flat, so I couldn’t even call my wife to know what was going on.”

Police have launched a critical incident investigation, but say a preliminary assessment has found no misconduct by the officers involved.

“We will obviously look into all our procedures, but it’s too early to speculate,” Acting Superintendent Marcus Boorman told reporters outside the hospital on Wednesday night.

The 26-year-old is expected to appear before ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Canberra Hospital said the emergency department is still operational, with minor damage to just one area.

“This has been cordoned off while further assessment of the damage is undertaken and repair work commences later today,” it said in a statement.

The hospital encouraged anyone with non-life threatening injuries or illnesses to consider alternative treatment options such as GPs and Walk-in health centres.