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The death of due process, transparency and accountability

Increasingly this government is seeking to subvert due process and impose their agenda in totalitarian fashion.

Regardless of whether you think the increase in fuel excise is an appropriate measure, the move to introduce it through regulation rather than legislation is specifically designed to bypass parliament. The regulations will need to be backed up with proper legislation by the Senate within 12 months or the money raised will have to be refunded.

As reported in the SMH:

“The government believes the ploy will put Labor and Greens senators in a bind at that time forcing them to choose between keeping the escalating revenue stream, or voting it down forcing the government to pay potentially hundreds of millions of dollars collected from motorists back to oil companies.

While the incremental inflation adjustments will raise an expected $167 million from motorists by November next year, little-appreciated new compliance costs for service stations are calculated at $5.06 million according to Treasury estimates.”

So much for cutting red tape to help small businesses. They also ignore the flow on costs to households as businesses pass on increased delivery expenses, and the cumulative effect of twice-yearly increases.

And it seems they may be trying to introduce the GP co-payment in the same way.

Initially, on Tuesday Peter Dutton said:

“There is no capacity to introduce a $7 co-payment through regulation, the advice from our legal people within the department as well as with attorneys is the $7 co-payment needs substantive legislation to support the co-payment.”

But yesterday he changed that message, refusing to rule out the introduction of the $7 levy by regulation to bypass the need for legislation.

“I am not going to rule things in or out. I am saying that there are options that are available to the Government,” Mr Dutton said.

Finding ways around our parliament and our laws is becoming a habit.

After the High Court ruled in June that the federal government could not directly fund religious chaplains in public schools, Christopher Pyne chose to give the money to the states with the direction that it could not be used for secular welfare workers.

So much for their claim that education decisions should not be dictated by Canberra.

In February, a Senate inquiry paved the way for the Parliament to give Environment Minister Greg Hunt legal immunity against future legal challenges to his decisions on mining projects. It will protect him from being challenged over deliberate or negligent decisions that do not comply with the law.

The Coalition government has now licensed Greg Hunt to avoid compliance with the EPBC Act. The amendment retrospectively validates ministerial decisions – even if they did not comply with the EPBC Act when they were made.

We are also losing our right to appeal development decisions.

The Abbott government’s move to establish a single approval process by passing environmental approval responsibilities onto the states and territories creates a conflict of interest as they raise revenue from land sales and mining royalties.

In early 2014 the Queensland government proposed to confine the objections and notifications process for a mining lease to people owning land within the proposed lease.

The Coordinator-General is fast becoming an almost supremely powerful czar for large projects in Queensland, subject only to the political whims of the state government. He can also prevent any objections to the environmental authority for a coordinated project from being heard by the Land Court. When combined with the severe restrictions on objections to mining leases, very few people can now challenge matters such as impacts on groundwater of large mines that are declared a coordinated project.

Under the federal Coalition’s one-stop shop the Coordinator-General is also proposed to have power to approve projects impacting on matters protected under federal environmental laws.

And that’s not the only avenue for appeal that is being shut down.

Australians could be left with no appeal rights against government secrecy by the end of this year.

The May budget cut $10.2 million funding for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) which handles Freedom of Information appeals. The government wants appeals to be handled by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal instead. This move is being blocked in the Senate so we will be left with effectively no avenue for appeal.

But perhaps the most blatant disregard for the law is being shown by Scott Morrison who, in a Napoleonic gesture, has conferred on himself the power to revoke a person’s citizenship. The new laws provide the Minister with the power to set aside decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) concerning character and identity if it would be in the public interest to do so and confer on the Minister the power to make legislative instruments.

Morrison has condemned innocent people to indefinite incarceration and washed his hands of any responsibility for their welfare. He has ignored warnings that his actions are in breach of human rights and is actively outsourcing our responsibilities under the Refugee Convention at enormous cost to this country. He is now even blocking refugee applications from people coming through official UNHCR channels.

Journalists have been denied access to detention camps. Even the head of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, was denied access to child asylum seekers on Nauru on the grounds that the commission’s jurisdiction did not extend beyond Australia’s borders. The cost of a single-entry media visa to Nauru rose from $200 to $8,000.

And if any of us report on the machinations of this government, our fate is in the hands of Attorney-General George Brandis who has the individual power to determine if we should face a possible ten-year jail sentence.

So much for free speech, transparency and accountability.

“Trust me,” they say. Not friggin’ likely.


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  1. keerti

    In addition to the circumventing of parliament, this government in it’s gifting of million of dollars to Cambodia possibly not making full accountability of funds. Cambodia is the most corrupt country in the world.A minor reading of available literature confirms this. I would like to know what safeguards, if any, are in place to keep track of money handed to the Cambodian “government”. Skimming of donated funds is normal in Cambodia.

  2. Kaye Lee

    No other country in the developed world has signed an agreement with a developing nation for the resettlement of recognised refugees.

    Although the MOU indicates that funds will be provided to assist the refugees to become “self-sufficient”, the terms of this are vague.

    Further, Australian-funded settlement services include vocational training and loans for starting a small business. However, this will only be provided for 12 months after the refugee leaves temporary accommodation. It is uncertain, given the state of Cambodia’s economy, whether the refugees would be able to secure employment and sustain themselves at a basic level for the long term.

    “The $40 million being paid to the Cambodia government will end up in the pockets of the senior ministers who have done this secret deal with Australia, not for the resettlement of refugees nor for aid projects,” Misha Coleman, the spokeswoman for the Churches Refugee Taskforce said.

    The United National High Commission on Refugees slammed the deal saying it was “a worrying departure from international norms” and that Australia was shirking its responsibility of people fleeing persecution.

    The resettlement deal will be phased in with only four or five refugees at first as an “initial trial arrangement”.

    That’s $8 -10 million per refugee. We could house them for life in luxury for that.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Asylum seekers beg Barack Obama to be saved from ‘Australian Guantánamo’

    “Asylum seekers held by Australia in detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea have taken the extraordinary step of writing to other countries, begging for asylum there.

    Guardian Australia has received copies of letters sent by asylum seekers to US president Barack Obama and to the Canadian immigration department, asking to be resettled in those countries.

    The letter to Obama, signed by 10 Pakistani asylum seekers and written in English, pleads for American intervention in their cases.

    “You are the only hope for us to give us a new life … we beg for your help to take us out of this miserable situation.” ”

  4. Kaye Lee

    ALASTAIR NICHOLSON: Well, what the Minister is doing unfortunately is the very thing that the UNHCR has pointed out should not happen and that is to use children as a pawn to achieve a political objective and that’s precisely what he’s doing.

    The Minister could release those children tomorrow if he wanted to but what he’s saying is he won’t do it unless, and it’s aimed at the crossbench in particular, unless they cave in and pass what is an appalling piece of legislation at its best that he’s advancing in the Parliament.

    And it seems to me that it’s time that we realised that we are in breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we’re in breach of international law, and the Minister has been hiding these facts and pretending that in some way he’s acting lawfully when he knows full well that he’s not.

  5. Kyran

    It’s not wrong. It’s barbaric. The asylum seekers being “released” in Nauru, including children, are being “picked on” (beaten) by the Nauruans because they are perceived as different. The community there is financially bankrupt, and they are being asked to accommodate our problem, whilst their government pockets our bribes. Same problem in PNG. So what could possibly go wrong in Cambodia?

  6. Kaye Lee

    “Legal experts and asylum seeker advocates have contradicted Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s claim that violence against refugees settled on Nauru is “wholly a matter for Nauru”, after another incident left two teens hurt and escalated fears about the safety of the island’s growing refugee community.”

    Australia Obligated To Protect Refugees In Nauru, Say Legal Groups

  7. John Kelly

    The very notion of a process of compliance in government is anathema to the LNP. It cuts across their belief that they were born to rule.

  8. Erotic Moustache

    As much as this cabal of cruds is repugnant, I wonder if there has ever been a Government that did not regulate when it could not legislate so as to further its agenda.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Regulation is easier for the government to implement than legislation, requiring a majority of senators to vote it down, rather than a majority to vote it into law. But it is also more precarious. Now the government has been warned by the senate that it will not be tolerated. The more they try it the angrier the crossbenchers will get.

  10. stephentardrew

    Transparency, accountability wassat?

  11. mars08

    “The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.”
    ~Bertrand Russell, 1940

  12. Kaye Lee

    “The two biggest tobacco companies in Australia have begun a campaign to undermine the nation’s plain packaging laws, ahead of a Department of Health review of the effectiveness of the regulations.

    Philip Morris and British American Tobacco have briefed research and data to media outlets as “proof” plain packaging laws have failed, on the eve of their second anniversary on December 1.

    Philip Morris is promoting “a new piece of independent research that finds there is no evidence that plain packaging for cigarettes is working”.

    That research, emailed to media by Philip Morris, is titled “The Plain Truth about Plain Packaging: An Econometric Analysis of the Australian 2011 Tobacco Plain Packaging Act”.

    One of the research authors, Professor Sinclair Davidson, is a senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank that has received considerable funding from Big Tobacco over the past 10 years.”

    Now try clicking on the following link to a story titled “Philip Morris tossed $100,000 into Coalition coffers for election”

    Deleting history?

  13. Kaye Lee

    The senator who defended the rights of smokers and said they were being disproportionately slugged through tobacco taxes has confirmed his party accepted donations from tobacco giant Phillip Morris.

    Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm confirmed the donation to Fairfax Media and said while he could not recall the exact amount given to his party by the tobacco company, it was in the “tens of thousands”.

    And in a provocative comment, said the donations had influenced his stance on plain packaging. “I’ve gone from being strongly opposed to totally opposed to plain packaging,” he said.

    Senator Leyonhjelm said he had no qualms about accepting donations from companies that produced products that can kill users, because smokers can “freely choose” to take up the habit.

    “We are very pleased to receive the donations and we hope to receive them from the other tobacco companies,” he said.

    This is a taste of what Free Trade Agreements will bring. Our politicians are up for sale.

  14. Kaye Lee

    A spokesman for British American Tobacco Australia, Scott McIntyre, said the company was a member of the IPA. Corporations or individuals must donate money as a condition of membership. The IPA’s 2010 annual report shows $1.7 million of income, of which about $500,000 came from donations and $900,000 from “subscriptions”. The institute will not say how much of that money comes from tobacco companies.

    The figures from the ABS show that total consumption of tobacco and cigarettes in the March quarter 2014 is the lowest ever recorded
    … 5.3 per cent lower in the March quarter 2014 than in the December quarter 2012 when the plain packaging laws were introduced.

  15. cartoonmick

    Yes, they are a very transparent lot, we can see right through them.

    Their performance to date has been to the benefit of the big end of town, whilst redefining the word “compassion”.

    Smoke and mirrors have been put to good use by the ever diligent spin doctors.

    I’m sure bookshelves of the future will contain a history of their time in Canberra.

    Ref cartoon . . . . .

    Editorial / Political


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