I seem to Blog a lot about the unfairness of city legislated laws on rural people. I have to wonder when will our political leaders give more than just lip service to the need for amendments to many of the city legislated laws?
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A SIMPLE QUESTION FOR TRADE MINISTER ANDREW ROBB AND AGRICULTURE MINISTER BARNABY JOYCE.
We note you are both busy assuring the Australian public and the Australian farmers that the Free Trade Arrangement with China is “great news” because it will help Australian farmers, including the shipment of a million head of live cattle a year to China.
It’s a very clever line to spruik the “live cattle industry” stuff because the entire nation knows how badly smashed it was after the Gillard Government suddenly shut it down and drove so many producers to the wall.
So far, so good. Positive stuff. But today we were contacted by one of Australia’s leading cattlemen who had a very serious question for you.
Where are these cattle numbers going to come from, given that we are watching the almost total decimation of the Northern cattle herd in a record breaking drought?
Most producers have had to drastically de-stock their numbers down to virtually their last handful of breeders, cattle they are still battling to keep them alive right now with lick, supplements and pushing scrub.
So the very high profile cattleman settled down with a cup of tea and opened up a map of all the major cattle producing regions of Australia and explained to us in intricate detail where any significant breeding numbers are still being held.
With the exception of a few areas in Cape York and a patchy line down the Queensland east coast, there is absolutely no grass – and absolutely no cattle.
The entire North West, Central West and Central Queensland regions have been stripped of cattle – and the story is the same for the Channel country and throughout the Southern Border regions.
The big cattleman assured us that cattle producers in NSW are facing almost exactly the same drought patterns, the same patchy bits of grass here and there where some numbers have been held – as well as the same narrow strip of coastal cattle.
So where will sufficient big herds of breeding stock ready to produce a million live boat cattle ready to ship out next year suddenly appear from?
Victoria and South Australia both run predominantly British breeds such as angus that are not suited to the Live Trade, so that leaves us Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
While the season in both regions has been patchy, any breeding stock that has come through is certain to be both tightly held to ensure future profits and future herd building – and become very, very expensive as well.
The inescapable reality is that it will take years for the major cattle breeding regions of Australia to recover and build up their breeding numbers, since most of them have to literally start form scratch. And remember, the drought still hasn’t ended - and rain still has to come.
I guess “a million head of boat cattle going to China” is one of those feel-good lines that makes city-based journalists sit up and think you are both a couple of magicians in suits, but let me assure you, the good cattlemen out here are left shaking their heads in amazement.
Your office might think its “really good spin” - which it is, since it grabbed all the headlines – but out here in the bush I can assure you they have another term for it.
They call it bullshit.
So if you have to wrap some Free Trade Agreement in sufficient bullshit to force the Australian public to accept it, then we’d suggest its probably on the nose as well.
I Have Something to Hide BY RAINCOASTER on DECEMBER 5, 2014
This is a reprint of the May, 2013 post of the same title from the Neurovagrant blog of Ian Campbell, with whom we re-connected on Twitter recently. He kindly permitted us to repost this crystal clear lesson in why encryption is not just an option, but a moral imperative.
In the debate about NSA surveillance, any surveillance, in the debate about any action government and especially law enforcement may take, the oft-repeated party line goes like this: “I’m not concerned about it because I have nothing to hide.”
This argument fails on a number of levels. The most basic level is that it assumes we each possess perfect information. Perfect information is a concept in two fields that I follow closely: Game Theory, and Economics. Game Theorists study rational strategic decision-making by examining mathematical models of games and how players interact. In game theory a player is said to have perfect information when they possess “the same information to determine all of the possible games (all combinations of legal moves) as would be available at the end of the game.” Chess can be a game of perfect information since all the pieces are on the board throughout the game and all the rules are known ahead of time. Even then, though, most humans don’t possess the cognitive processing paths allowing them to treat chess as a game of perfect information. We’re simply not primed or trained to see all those possible moves from all sides.
A better game to think of in the context of perfect information is tic-tac-toe. Nine squares, two pieces (X’s and O’s), known rules, and much easier for us to process. Processing information (legal moves) in games is best described through using a decision tree (graphical tool where every option spawns a new branch of the tree) or a decision matrix (rows and columns of values that quantize relationships, such as those between choices in a game). The decision tree for tic-tac-toe is a lot more simple than chess since the latter involves sixteen game pieces and sixty-four squares (this is the main reason why it’s a lot easier to teach a computer how to play tic-tac-toe than chess).
In either game you’ve got perfect information if you can fill out the entire decision tree from start to finish. All the possible moves by all players.
Let’s consider a new game to model. It’s a lot more complex. It’s called Being A Citizen.
Before saying “I have nothing to hide” I’d have to say that I possessed perfect information in the context of making that decision. That’s perfect information not only about every past move leading up to this decision but every future move after it. It assumes that all “pieces” are above the board and that I know all the rules to this game. And that’s demonstrably incorrect.
Let’s take the assets and programs of the National Security Agency as some of our game pieces. For them to be above the board we’d need the government to be both honest and accountable about them. Instead, NSA Director Keith Alexander has repeatedly lied to the public about every aspect possible. So has Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. They’ve lied to us as individual players and Congress as what we might call a Superplayer; about buildings, assets, programs, collected materials. Everything we’d need to get a good idea, no less a complete idea, about the pieces on the playing board.
Having established that we don’t have clear information on the game pieces, let’s turn to the playing board. In order to play chess you’ve got to abide by certain rules, but there’s a trade-off: the rules are all made plain beforehand. You’re not going to get midway through the game and then be challenged about the legality of your opening move, either due to a rule that was hidden from you or due to a new interpretation of an old rule. But in the game model we’re dealing with here, government in general and intelligence agencies in particular have established exactly this possibility. As one example: the very court opinions and administration interpretations of the Patriot Act allowing the government to order telecommunications companies to collect and provide massive amounts of data on US citizens are secret.
The Foreign Intelligence Services Court approved nearly nineteen thousand search/eavesdropping warrants from 1979 until 2004, while rejecting just four. And their proceedings are entirely sealed and secret from us. Unless, of course, leaking FISA information benefits the Government player. And then it suddenly appears. This, by the by, is what’s called information asymmetry. It takes place in asymmetric games, games in which strategies are not the same for each player but dictated by the power imbalance between players. Remember this concept, it’s important.
At this point we need to remember the structure of the NSA’s information-gathering programs. They’re largely not set up for distributed, real-time analysis of communications. They’re erected for investigative purposes, connecting the dots. Going back into records of previous events as far back as the records go. Which means that once you seemingly violate a rule that you’re not aware of, or once the administration alters its interpretation of the rule to make you a violator, they can now go back through every communication within their grasp and piece it together in any way they desire in order to make you appear guilty as sin.
Without you knowing, at any step of the process.
“But Ian,” you’re about to argue, “of course D-NSA Alexander and DNI Clapper lied to the public. FISA’s secret. They had to. It’s classified. Surely you didn’t expect them to expose their own secret programs?”. No, I didn’t. I expect secrecy and confidential programs in government; I’d go so far as saying that secrecy is absolutely essential in some areas of government. Arguments about ending secrecy are naive from the outset. Abolishing secrecy isn’t the point.
The point is this: playing a game (read: making decisions) as if I have perfect information when I don’t manifests an inherently flawed strategy. This isn’t about what I expect of Alexander or Clapper, but what they expect from me in adopting “It’s okay because I have nothing to hide.” It presupposes that my interests and those of the government always lie in the same direction. That I know each strategy the government may take, every branch of their decision tree, that the government’s being straight with me, and that it has and will always have my individual interests at heart. Out of these three conditions, the first is ludicrous, the second is (again) immediately demonstrably false, and the third is false in nearly every lesson we’ve seen in history.
The interests of individual and government always have places of divergence, generally because government is full of other individuals all making strategic decisions in the interests of themselves and their ideologies. Our ability to compromise in places is what allows us to form governments. And compromise, while not inherently harmful, often involves finding common ground in the spaces between our original interests. Even moreso when it’s done on a macro, societal scale with the potential to criminalize peaceful protests (like many Occupy sites), pass legislation that potentially criminalizes miscarriage, restricts a person’s right over being secure in their own biological functions, refuses equitable rights to people of different sexual orientation or race or religion or levels extra scrutiny on the tax status of organizations of a particular political persuasion.
“I have nothing to hide” means you’re playing an asymmetric information game like other players would want you to: poorly. Out of some mythical principle you’ve chosen to tie both hands behind your back in order to play a game that the intelligence agencies won’t even tell you the rules to. This is a game you will lose every time. Because not only do other players have more information than you, they also have just about all the power in the situation. And remember what I said above: strategy in asymmetric games is dictated by power imbalance between the players. Relinquishing both your power and your information is not a strategy, it’s a suicide. A strategy is, say, aligning with other players cooperatively to combine your power, such as in protest. Or securing your own information, as in encrypting your data and anonymizing your internet usage.
We know what happens to protesters: they’re investigated, infiltrated, marginalized and criminalized. They face felony charges and thirteen years in prison for marking the sidewalk with water-soluble chalk (this last, thankfully, acquitted by a jury this week). And now leaked NSA guidelines reveal what happens to the other side of your strategy as well: using cryptographic and anonymizing technologies increase chances that the NSA will not only scrutinize you further, but also keep your data in contravention of law.
In other words, when you pursue a rational strategy that harms no one, it’s used against you.
Just how do you think the NSA is approaching this game? To move this from game theory back into common terms: Just how do you think the NSA is approaching this decision-making process?
With your interests in mind?
So yes, I’m going to encrypt my data. I’m going to use Tor when I browse, I’m even going to order an Onion Pi and switch all my traffic over to Tor. I may be a very solid part of the surveillance state, being a police dispatcher for nearly a decade now. But I have something to hide: my communications, my traffic, my likes and dislikes, my entire online identity in some senses. I have something to hide not because I’m a bad person (I’m not) or because we live in a totalitarian state (we don’t) but because I don’t have perfect information and this game isn’t being played fairly.
(Images yet to be added)
I have sent the following to the Australian Federal Police report a Commonwealth crime web page, to the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives for their advice and action.
Anthony John Abbott was born in London on 4/11/57 to a British father.
- He used his British citizenship to come to Australia on an assisted passage and again to enter Oxford as a British citizen.
- He applied for Australian citizenship in 1981.
- He entered parliament in 1994.
The British Home Office have been conducting an FOI request looking for a copy of Mr Abbotts form RN, that is the form used to renounce British citizenship, being granted Australian citizenship does not automatically get rid of the British citizenship he used on at least two occasions for official British business. (assisted passage to leave the country and matriculation to Oxford University).
The Home Office have been looking unsuccessfully for about 6 weeks, their official legal time frame is I believe 20 days. They have not yet found a form RN for him.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Australia has been looking for his form RN for a similar amount of time. I believe the search has stopped without finding the form and the FOI application given to Mr Abbotts chief of staff Peta Credlin to delay the process further.
Without a form RN Mr Abbott entered parliament in 1994 illegally. The Australian constitution section 44 says
44. Any person who - (i.) Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power: “ Dual nationality is considered an acknowledgement of allegiance and entitled to the privileges of citizenship of a foreign power disqualifies people from standing for parliament.
Mr Abbott stood for parliament knowing he still had dual nationality, Australian gained in 1981 and British from birth. The Australian Electoral Commission advised me Mr Abbott was considered appropriate to run for parliament because he was on the electoral roll and they do not check nationalities of candidates.
- Will you please investigate and see if a crime has been committed?
- Will you please investigate and dismiss Mr Abbott from parliament and recover all monies paid to him as salaries, superannuation, travel allowance, meal allowances, staff allowances, electorate office expenses, ministerial office expenses.
The Attorney Generals office need to be contacted to see if any ministerial decisions made by Mr Abbott are legal and if not they must be overturned as soon as possible.
There is no FOI proof that Mr Abbott has renounced his British citizenship. It seems he has stood for parliament on 8 occasions as a dual national, well aware that doing so is in contravention of the constitution. This goes beyond forgetfulness into the realms of possibly intent to defraud the Commonwealth.
The response from the Home Office.
And the Peta Credlin letter, and here.
Channel 9 News is also covering the story and have started to ask questions, but still no one can find out the WHEN that the British citizenship was renounced.
My local newspaper the Sunshine Coast Daily is also covering the story here.
A petition is up and running to ask Mr Abbott to show his renunciation papers here. Please sign the petition, the more people we get to sign, the bigger chance we have of getting the Prime Minister to show he is legitimate or not.
For the trolls trying to taker over discussion of this, the blog is written sequentially. What is at the top happened when I started writing, if there are changes or additions they are shown down lower.
So to the comic loving fat boy from Victoria who has resorted to calling me a birther and a liar, read the blog before you put your fingers into gear. And being called a birther has been dealt with here. Birther is rather a stupid thing to call someone who actually does have access to the facts and does know who was born when and where.
But facts and blue ties have always been a problem for me, I mention facts to someone wearing a blue tie and the people seem to choke as the tie gets tighter. The one truism to come out of our current government is that if you see blue ties, prepare for lies.
Some more blogs discussing the lack of a date are: Channel 9, the Sunshine Coast Daily and all of the associated APN papers, Independent Australia, oecmuse a very very good read, North Coast voices. If you read or know of other blogs and news stories, please add them to the comment.
Another good read.
@rrobbymiller has started a petition to have the Ombudsman examine the facts and to determine if there is anything untoward or illegal. its here.
The ABC show The Drum is calling for old laws to be ignored when it comes to Tony Abbott and his citizenship.This is extremely dangerous and something that should not be considered or condoned. According to them I am holding back parliament with my call for the law to be followed.
And the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, both Fairfax papers have also called this a birther rant. Strangely the Canberra Times hasn’t run with the story. And in that story a labour politician Tim Watts calls for the birthers to stop. Mr Watts used to work for King Wood & Mallesons one of the top dozen or so law firms in the world. I would have thought a lawyer from a company like that would know how to check facts, look for the truth and ask questions. He is protecting the Prime Minster for some reason and I can only blindly stab as to why he might be doing that.
When I was looking in the National Archives of Australia at Mr Abbotts citizenship file it disappeared. It went secret and I don’t really know why. I did get a screen capture of the file cover and that’s about it.
And the screen capture of the assisted passage.
The fun thing about the assisted passage is that Mrs Abbott had to renounce her Australian citizenship to get the ten pound pom boat trip. And Tony Abbott claims citizenship by descent from a woman who renounced her citizenship,that may be legal I don’t know. But it sure doesn’t sound good. OR. She kept quiet and came across as Mrs Abbott on Mr Abbotts passport, as an Australian getting assisted passage she would be considered an illegal boat person and that would be deliciously ironic considering the almost racist policies Tony Abbott has brought in and condones.
The letters below are from Peta Credlin. The first one details her intention to refuse any FOI application. The second is the actual FOI refusal. Very strange that the Prime Ministers Chief of Staff would become a clerk class 5 or 6 for just my FOI applications. The copies are poor because my scanner isn’t working. The originals are not kept at my home, they are in a safe place. Copies are on multiple sites online.
For those who doubt that it might be fraud to enter parliament by signing the paperwork when not eligible, check this out. Thanks to Jan Olson from Twitter who got this other FOI request, which seems to indicate the documents are missing or dont exist. I have passed this blog on to Pravda which ran a story on our beloved PM. Their President is coming to Australia and our budgie smuggler has promised to shirt front him. For me a shirt front is where you grab a collar in each hand and pull quickly to head butt.
I contacted the Australian Public Service Commission to ask if Mr Abbott’s Chief of Staff, who I believe is employed as a Public Servant, has complied with all regulations in refusing to advise the Australian Federal Police of the possible fraud in Mr Abbott signing statutory declarations for the AEC on 8 occasions.
I tried to contact the AFP yesterday,the @afpmedia team on twitter gave me the phone number of Queensland state police. Not quite the right police department let alone police force. The Queenslanders put me through to Canberra for the AFP and after about 8 different transfers I gave up. I tried ringing their direct line but got the same run around. So I sent off the 5th or 6th online report to the AFP. I also sent off the third online report to the Governor General asking he investigate. The AFP have a problem because the Prime Minister sleeps in their dormitory instead of the official residence and the Governor General recently got a knighthood.
The NSW Police have informed me on twitter that it is a crime not to report an indictable offence. I wrote to Hon Bronwyn Bishop several months ago telling her of the possible crime of fraud and asking her to do all she could with regards to the crime. I have written again today, 21/10/14 reminding her of my letter and the NSW law. She did a 5 year course in law at University of Sydney and got her professional qualification from the Solicitors Admission Board after marriage so has no excuse for not knowing the law. Here’s the letter.
The Attorney Generals Department have advised that they can not investigate alleged crimes by ministers of the government. Personally I think that is just a lie and obviously party political. I contacted the AFP and they have advised now that the Department of Justice is the only one who can prosecute politicians. Justice is part of the Attorney Generals Department so back to them. A letter to the Secretary And Deputy Secretary of the AG department and to the minister for Justice Mr Keenan. The letter to David Frederic and Chris Moraitis was to complain about the public service run around and the blatantly political decision to not process my original letters and in the hope they would monitor what was happening with the letter to Mr Keenan.
This blog is a sequential record of how things happen, or when I remember to write about how things happen. Thats why early on I say the Home Office cant find the forms and then I say I received a refusal to answer. I also found out form speaking with a British Civil Servant that Mr William Hague, then head of the Foreign Office jumped over to the Home Office to block my request. Very observant of him or asked to by political buddies in Australia? I will never know for sure. I do know Mr Hague is no longer in the Foreign Office.
The first FOI to me from Peta Credlin was a flat refusal to answer. The second one for Jan Olson was a “ we cant find it “ the second one they followed the FOI rules and looked in all the proper places and the paperwork isn’t there. I have complained to the Australian Public Service Commission about Peta Credlin. If she is a public servant she was wrong to block the FOI request and wrong to become FOI officer for the day. If she is political she is covering up a crime and probably committed a crime in doing the job of a public servant in blocking the FOI request, and I have asked the APSC to check on that. The second FOI for Jan was done after my complaint about Credlin so everything had to be done legally as far as the FOI laws are concerned.
A Farcebooker Adriaan de Leeuw advised I contact the British courts to get a writ of mandamus. I have and thank you for the advice Adriaan. I sent this to the clerk of the courts this morning :- I have been advised to apply for a writ of mandamus ordering the Permanent secretary of the British Home Office to present it to a Judge, on the basis that a person born in Great Britain will not show his Form RN, proof of his renunciation of British citizenship and he may be holding a position he is not entitled to under a law of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Government, the constitution of Australia Act 1900. Please note that as the original constitution act was an act of British Parliament a court in Britain has the right to demand his Form RN, also note that if there is no form RN to be found then he is by definition still a British Citizen! For Citizenship to be extinguished there is the absolute need and requirement for that act to have been a free and provable! If the Home office cannot produce the document, a ruling on his Citizenship should be made in relation to current precedents.
So how do I go about this? Is writing to the clerk of the courts sufficient and if so, could you please forward this email. If not, what is the procedure? My blog on the matter covers all documentation we can find”
I have re-emailed Mr Heerey, the commissioner of the Australian Electoral Commission asking him to investigate the possible crime of fraud. He has just returned from leave so I emailed his QC chambers and asked them to forward to him.
Unfortunately the AFP and myself are at odds, I assumed they would be as interested as I am in the crime of fraud perpetrated by the Prime Minister. Sadly no. The latest from them is this:-
They seem to have not bothered asking Mr Abbott to look at his renunciation papers.They have seen election, constitution and citizenship and said, ‘Allo ‘Allo, he’s been an Australian all along. I have asked them to reconsider and if they think I am vexatious please charge me so I can subpoena the documents as evidence in a court case.
Jan Olson who got the FOI report stating there is no renunciation paperwork in the PMs office was arrested in Parliament House for daring to ask the PM if he had indeed renounced his British citizenship. Jan was carted off and had wrists severely slapped. The story is here.
I have been phoning politicians offices here and in the UK to try and get someone to take notice. I have come to the conclusion the only way to get in touch with an MP is to hand write a letter and post it in an envelope, Bic and Lick. Emails,twitters,facebook posts are all secreted and segregated by staffers and probably censored and binned too. Not much gets through to them except the Bic and Lick letters.
To those sending pennies, thank you, very much appreciated and very humbling.
I am missing something very basic about how to report crimes,that can be the only reason our Federal Police and Attorney Generals Department refuse to even look at the British citizenship side of things. AG doesnt bother responding,I am still waiting on letters to the actual heads of the department to be replied to. As for the police? They have said on several occassions there is no problem, Mr Abbott is an Australian citizen. HELLO! The whole problem is that he is still British or was when he entered parliament. There are no British citizenship renunciation papers, the FOI from Jan Olson show that.
Tangent time. I have lodged a crime stoppers report with the Tasmanian police. One of their senators has a well known run in with the constitution, the High Court and the dates of his renunciation. The only thing that didn’t happen in 2010 were charges pressed for fraud. I guess fatigue had set in with John Hawkins. John if you read this can you email me or message me on twitter or facebook to see if you considered fraud please. The Abetz wiki says very clearly he renounced his German nationality on 9/3/2010 and that was confirmed to the Hobart Mercury. I asked his office to confirm the dates are correct, no reply. Might have to try a Bic an Lick for him and ask again? Unsurprisingly the Mercury story is not online, or I couldn’t find it. I did write to them, but they too ignore me. If the Taswegian police do look at fraud then that might be the way to go with Ol’Blue Ties.
I queried earlier if Ms Credlin was a public servant or not and could she act as a FOI clerk if she wasn’t a public servant. I got this reply this morning, from Robert McMahon. Wonder if that’s Billy’s boy? Anyway, the response says she is not a public servant but has been given special permission to do FOIs.
I have asked the police in Queensland if Senator Brandis’ reluctance to pass details of the fraud crime on to the authorities is itself a crime under our law. Google tells me it might be under the Criminal Code 132 it might be, or indeed under 133.
I should point out at this time I am not a lawyer and the only legal training was a law 101 unit at the University of New England. Most laws are written in plain English and I use plain English comprehension when reading them. If a law relies on my being an ordinary or reasonable person,I like to think I qualify for that too.
The NSW Minister for Police a Mr Ayres, was asked via twitter if Mr Baird, the NSW Premier, had relayed to him details of the Abbott fraud given to Mr Baird by myself.
And just in this morning, the AFP have advised they will not be taking any new evidence in the Abbott fraud case. The case is closed permanently.
The new evidence was the FOI from Jan - the one where Assistant Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confirms the renunciation papers DO NOT EXIST. Imagine an American cop show or movie where the coppers refused to accept further evidence, they would last minutes. Imagine the back packer murders case, someone went missing and the file was closed, not further evidence was allowed. Guess who runs the AFP - politically, George Brandis.
Robert McMahon Assistant Secretary of the Parliament and Government Branch of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet declared “I have decided to refuse the request under section 24A(1)(b)(ii) of the FOI Act” and that says quite simply and succinctly does not exist
We are now in a frightening stage of Australia heading towards political danger, our police force is now beholden to the government. Did Brandis stop the AFP accepting new evidence/ Was Commissioner Colvin made aware of the evidence, the email was addressed to him and if he did see it did he stop accepting further evidence as payback for being promised the new homeland security gig? I am now afraid as an Australian and as someone writing this blog. If you can, please copy the blog and keep in as many places as possible.
When I write to MPs I now ask if they will be allowed to read the email or letter or do staff censor and segregate letters. Got this from Senator Milne the Greens leader and senator in Tasmania. Senator Milne is not blocked by her staff from reading e-mails from constituents. You must understand that the very large number of e-mails she receives each day [upwards of 400 items per day] makes it impossible for her to attend to each item individually. Hence, like most prominent MPs, and all Party Leaders, she relies on someone like myself to deal with them on her behalf. Please be assured however that she is always interested to hear of the matters raised by constituents and is kept very well briefed on their views. Senator Milne is aware of the allegations regarding the Prime Minister’s citizenship and subsequent eligibility to sit in the Australian Parliament. She is currently seeking advice regarding the situation with a view to determining what, if any, action it may be appropriate to initiate in response to it.
Pleasing to know she does get interested in what is sent to her and is looking at this problem.
Paul Pirani, the chief legal officer at the Australian Electoral Commission has replied to me stating that the AEC does not recognise fraud under the crimes act. That a candidate can do and say anything to the AEC and it doesn’t matter. Very surprising considering the Commissioner is Hon Peter Heerey QC. Yes a Queens council, barrister, law officer of the highest standing. But fraud doesn’t matter. If I committed fraud I would be in court straight away,but because someone has said they are a candidate for parliament, the place where laws are written, they can lie and scheme and commit fraud to get into the place. Here’s the reply - Dear Mr Magrathea
I refer to your email of 4 November 2014 addressed to the Chairman of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), the Hon Peter Heerey AM QC, in which you have raised a concern about the qualifications of the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, to stand as a candidate for a federal election. I have been asked to reply to your email on behalf of Mr Heerey.
The issue raised in your email relates to the disqualification of candidates under section 44 of the Constitution. Section 44(i) of the Constitution provides, in part, that:
“Any person who:
(i) is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power;
shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.”
The AEC administers the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) in relation to the conduct of federal elections. The AEC does not administer the Constitution as is made clear by the Administrative Arrangements Order made by the Governor-General. The administration of the Constitution is the responsibility of the Attorney-General’s Department. Accordingly, the AEC is not in a position to disqualify any candidates due to the operation of section 44 of the Constitution.
The AEC is subject to the requirements of the Electoral Act. Section 172 of the Electoral Act sets out the only grounds upon which the AEC is able to reject a nomination of a candidate. Those grounds do not include any possible disqualification of a candidate under the Constitution.
I note that the candidate nomination form that is required to be lodged with the AEC prior to the close of nominations for a Member of the House of Representatives includes a declaration that must be completed and includes the following:
“I, the candidate named above, state that: · I am an Australian citizen Yes [ ] No [ ] · I am at least 18 years of age Yes [ ] No [ ] · I am an elector or qualified to be an elector Yes [ ] No [ ] · I am not, by virtue of section 44 of the Constitution, Yes [ ] No [ ] incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a Member of the House of Representatives and I declare that: · I am qualified under the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth to be elected as a Member of the House of Representatives; · I am not, and do not intend to be, a candidate in any other election to be held on the same day as the election to which the above nomination relates; · I consent to act as a Member of the House of Representatives for the above Division if elected.”
A similar declaration is contained in the nomination form for Senate candidates.
The making of a false declaration is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995. However, there is no legal requirement that a candidate is to provide the AEC with evidence of their citizenship status to support their nomination. There is also a further offence contained in the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 which imposes a $200 per day penalty for a Member of Parliament who sits in the Parliament while they are disqualified.
The issue of any disqualification of a candidate due to the operation of section 44 of the Constitution is a matter that can only be determined by the Court of Disputed Returns after the conduct of any election.
The AEC has produced a publication entitled Constitutional Disqualification and Intending Candidates which can be accessed at:
I specifically draw your attention to paragraph 39 of this publication which states that:
“In 1997, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs considered the role of the AEC in advising intending candidates on s. 44 of the Constitution, and concluded that:
The Committee agrees that the AEC should have no role in giving legal advice to candidates. The Committee recognises that the AEC’s role in running elections must be protected from any criticism that it has given wrong advice. The Committee appreciates that AEC officials have no role in going behind a candidate’s declaration that he or she is eligible to stand.”
Further, the AEC notes that the mere fact that a person was born overseas does not mean that they hold dual citizenship or will be in breach of section 44 of the Constitution. This is made clear by the comments of the High Court in Sue v Hill  HCA 30. As the matters raised in your letter involve allegations of criminal conduct, the onus of proof would rest on the prosecution to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt. Mr Abbott would not be required to prove that he was so eligible or that he was required to take some action to renounce United Kingdom citizenship. Accordingly, the argument raised in your email is inherently flawed. The inability of the UK government to locate a form RN does not provide any evidence that could be used as the basis to mount criminal action.
Accordingly, the AEC is unable to take action in this matter as requested in your email.
I trust that the above information clearly explains the position of the AEC on this matter.
I did ask he review his decision because the Prime Ministers own Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet have confirmed he is still a dual national and hasn’t renounced his British citizenship. How far does this cover up and corruption go?
|Chief Legal Officer|
Email discussion ongoing.
I repeat the contents from my earlier email. “Further, the AEC notes that the mere fact that a person was born overseas does not mean that they hold dual citizenship or will be in breach of section 44 of the Constitution. This is made clear by the comments of the High Court in Sue v Hill  HCA 30. As the matters raised in your letter involve allegations of criminal conduct, the onus of proof would rest on the prosecution to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt. Mr Abbott would not be required to prove that he was so eligible or that he was required to take some action to renounce United Kingdom citizenship. Accordingly, the argument raised in your email is inherently flawed. The inability of the UK government to locate a form RN does not provide any evidence that could be used as the basis to mount criminal action.”
Accordingly, the AEC is unable to take action in this matter as requested in your email.
My response:- Proof he has British citizenship is in the letter from Oxford University in that he matriculated there as a British citizen. Add that to the fact the FOI from the PM&C states that the renunciation papers do not exist and he is still a British citizen. You have proof he was born in England and that at the age of 23 or so when he entered Oxford that he was still a British citizen, the facts seem pretty conclusive
Another reply Mr Magrathea
Your assertions as to what was said in the FOI response does not match with what I have seen in the public domain.
The letter to you from Ms Credlin apparently stated that the document “was not an official document of a Minister” and as such it was not subject to the application of the FOI Act. If this is the case then of course the Department would not have a copy in their possession and would therefore refuse a request under section 24A of the FOI Act.
To mount any criminal action you will need to provide positive evidence that Mr Abbott is and was a UK citizen at the time he signed each candidate declaration. Nothing in the material that you have provided contains any prima facie evidence to support your allegations.
My response yet again
The FOI that was in the email to you on 4/11/2014. the one you responded to - https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B42C_wWg31otWnE4Z0dtVEZpYzA/view The Credlin FOI was purely a political decoy by his pet Chief of Staff. The real FOI and the proof that the renunciation documents do not exist come from Robert McMahan. I complained to the department of PM&C about Ms Credlin becoming an FOI clerk whenever I contacted them, during the investigation into if she could act, Jan Olson lodged an FOI request, the link to uit is here and was in the email of 4/11/14. The Credlin foi response may yet get her in court and are meaningless drivel to act as a poltical decoy. It seems to have worked with you. The real FOI signed by Mr McMahon is the only FOI worth anything at all. and the one that proves the renunciation papers dont exist.I have been at this long enough to know never believe anything Credlin says.
Public domain Mr Abbott was born in England to a British father which under their law is automatic British citizenship. Oxford university have written explaining he matriculated there as a British citizen. He got Australian citizenship in 1981 to get the dollars for Rhodes. His public service staff at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet completed an FOI request declaring that the renunciation paperwork for his British citizenship do not exist. Born British,still British at Oxford in 1981 and in 2014 his Assistant Secretary of Parliament and Government branch of PM&C states unequivocally that the renunciation paperwork does not exist. Perhaps you can run it past the Commissioner of the AEC who is an actual barrister and see what he thinks?
My original blog was a subject of a denial of service attack, no one could access it to read it so I moved the blog here. And in the moving it seems the letter from Oxford confirming his British Citizenship when he matriculated there seems to have gone missing.
Here it is :-
I have lodged a Crime Stoppers report with the ACT police, the report says this:- Mr Abbott was born in the UK to a British father.Under British law this gives him automatic British citizenship.
In 1981 he matriculated to Oxford university as a British citizen. In 1981 he applied for and got Australian citizenship to comply with the Rhodes Trust and to get the dollars from the scholarship. In 1994 and on 7 subsequent occasions he signed a false declaration for the Australian electoral commission stating he complied with the laws of the land with regard to dual nationality. In 2014 his Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confirmed he has not renounced his British citizenship through an FOI request.
FOI request is at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B42C_wWg31otWnE4Z0dtVEZpYzA/view
letter from Oxford is attached
He is a dual national on every occasion he stood for parliament, he signed false declarations for the AEC on each occasion. Elections in March 1994, March 1996,October 1998, November 2001,October 2004, November 2007, August 2010, September 2013.
Ross Jones from Independent Australia Media has come up with another beauty about the Abbott saga. What exactly did Jan Olson say in parliament house? Why were they so quick to evict her? Was it really because of her FOI? The one that proves the renunciation papers do not exist. I think I mentioned earlier that I lodged a complaint with the Australian Public Service Commissioner asking if Peta Credlin was a public servant or political appointment, and if she was political could she become FOI clerk for a day when she knocked back my request. While that was in the process of being adjudicated Jan Olson lodged her FOI, totally unknown to each other, the request was a pure coincidence and at the very exactly right time to get a real public servant to do the job properly. Again goodonya Jan and sorry about your eviction. You join a pretty select list of people who have been thrown out of parliament.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is not backing away from his description of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as an “economic girly man”, accusing Labor of “confected outrage” over the issue.
Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used the “girly man” line on numerous occasions but most famously at the 2004 Republican National Convention when he blasted pessimists on the US economy as girly men.
Schwarzenegger was attacked by feminist groups and gay rights campaigners after his comments in 2004.
Senator Cormann claimed “Economic girly men has come to adopt its own meaning. It is not in any way intended as a reflection on girls, it is entirely intended as a reflection on Bill Shorten.”
Interviewed on Sky News on Sunday, Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said Senator Cormann’s language was not appropriate for a political leader.
“I just think, if we use ‘girl’ as an insult, what are we telling our sons and our daughters about being a girl? You are saying it is somehow less competent, weak, whatever, whatever the imputation. I just don’t think that is sensible. Imagine if we used any racial term in the way it was used? I think we would all be outraged for the same reasons.”
Also on Sky News, Education Minister Christopher Pyne declined to defend the language of his cabinet colleague.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/finance-minister-mathias-cormann-defends-girly-man-comment-20141019-118ek2.html
Australia’s national security laws are ushering in a reign of terror
Only a handful of politicians have resisted Australia’s Brave New World of national security laws
By: David Leyonhjelm
Published: theguardian.com, Saturday 18 October 2014 10.00 AEST
On the night of 25 September 2014, attorney general George Brandis was taking Australia into a reign of terror. There were only a handful of witnesses, even though there were seats for hundreds and cameras covering every angle.
He was shepherding into law a bill that gives our spies and their friends a licence to injure, to embed malware into computers, to break into the houses of people suspected of nothing, and to arm and train rebel groups to overthrow governments in foreign countries.
A bill to jail anyone who reports on past corruption and misconduct in our spy agency. A bill so fuelled by paranoia that it seeks to jail spies who dare to use a photocopier without an explanation.
Three exasperated senators stood in opposition to the bill at one end of the tennis-court-sized chamber. A trio not used to standing together – senator Xenophon, senator Ludlum and me. A trio armed with too few votes, and whose weapons of reason were useless in the absence of open ears and minds.
At the other end of the chamber were the closed ears and minds of Brandis and his Labor counterpart in the senate, senator Jacinta Collins.
The chamber was otherwise almost empty, save for a few clerks and staffers.
The Palmer United Party (PUP) senators had just left the chamber, after successfully amending the bill to add their personal draconian touch. They proposed a tenfold increase in the penalty for disclosing the identity of a spy. The government and opposition, not wanting to seem soft, backed the PUP thought bubble despite expert groups and security agencies seeing such a change as unwarranted.
The PUP senators then joined Coalition and Labor backbenchers for dinner in the parliamentary dining room. The backbenchers needn’t hear the arguments against the bill. They would vote for the bill because their leaders told them to do so. It could have been to reintroduce the death penalty; their vote would still be yes.
The media were missing from the galleries - despite this being one of the most important moments for press freedom in Australia’s history – because the attorney-general had sprung a surprise sitting on everyone and the journalists had gone home.
So our unlikely trio soldiered on in the near empty chamber. Each of us attempted the mildest of amendments to inch Australia back from the attorney-general’s Brave New World.
We attempted to limit our spies to hacking 20 computers per warrant. To limit hacking to whatever was necessary to carry out an authorised operation. To remove the offence of disclosing intelligence information in instances where no one is endangered and no operation is prejudiced. To remove the offence in instances where disclosure is in the public interest, such as disclosures of Asio corruption and misconduct. To require judges to consider the public interest when sentencing someone for disclosing intelligence information. To ensure the law only stays on the books until 2025.
We even attempted to amend what seems like a clear drafting error: that the attorney-general commits an offence when he discloses general information about past intelligence operations.
In spite of an earlier commitment to consider our amendments, the attorney-general summarily dismissed them all.
So attention then turned to Labor’s position.
Senator Collins listened carefully to our amendments and responded that they were “minimalist” and “may indeed warrant further consideration”. She then went on to say that Labor would not be supporting any of the cross-benchers amendments.
It was a jaw-dropping, George Costanza inspired, do-the-opposite moment. Had anyone been in the chamber, there would have been gasps of disbelief. Collins went on to explain that Labor would vote the government’s bill into law, but would consider fixing up the law at a later stage.
Now while I am new in this job, I can count. Labor can’t fix up the law once it has been passed in the Senate. They don’t have the numbers in the House of Representatives.
The bill is now the law. And finally, too late, no less a Labor figure than Anthony Albanese refers to it as draconian.
September 25 was a bad day for freedom in Australia.
By: David Leyonhjelm
Published: theguardian.com, Saturday 18 October 2014 10.00 AEST
“We are making spending sustainable, delivering record infrastructure investment, creating new jobs and bringing the budget back to surplus over the medium term.”
- Joe Hockey explaining a $30.5 billion increase in the budget deficit.
During the last election you told us there was a “budget emergency” after Wayne Swan’s final budget in May last year put the deficit at $18 billion. I was somewhat incredulous at your claim that you could do better but then I was assuming you were talking about reducing the debt, not increasing it by 269% to $48.5 billion.
I’m not sure you’ve quite grasped the concept of economics yet but I’ve always thought you were supposed to reduce debt. Still, the only way I know how to nearly triple debt within a year is by going to Uni, so clearly I’m no Treasury expert. At least we’re on track to actually having that budget emergency you keep going on about.
Another thing you repeatedly said during the election was that the buck stops with you. So I’m delighted to hear that you’re accepting full responsibility - for the job of blaming it all on Labor. I realise you’ve been telling us the ALP are incompetent for some time now, but I’d never realised they were incompetent enough to lose another $30.5 billion without even being in government for the last 13 months.
So at what point in time are you actually responsible for the department you’re already collecting $400,000 a year plus perks to run? Can you let us know when that will be? Maybe you could ask someone who actually is a Treasury expert to work it out for you; I know maths isn’t your strong suit.
Anyway I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with you giving the RBA $8.8 billion dollars they didn’t want or need, or the 96 proposed changes to tax and superannuation you dumped, or the additional $571 million you spent on Immigration detention (plus millions more disguised as defence and customs spending), or your decision to scrap carbon pricing and the MRRT, or the $2.55 billion you’ve allocated for Abbott’s unworkable ‘Direct Action’ plan, or the $5.5 billion for his largely unexplained Paid Parental Leave scam, err scheme, or the cost of unplanned redundancies for the 16,500 public servants you’ve sacked.
It can’t possibly be the $82 billion that will be given to the mining and fossil fuel industries over the next four years to fund the Fuel Tax Credit subsidy, or the $6.9 billion cost of you refusing to change Accelerated Depreciation laws that allow these companies to claim their equipment lasts half the time it actually does, or the $100 million you’ve given them for the new ‘Exploration Development Incentive’. The deficit doesn’t yet include the $500 million a year you’ve optimistically predicted it will cost us to go back to Iraq for the third time since 1990 and join in another open-ended military campaign with no obvious strategy or goal, so it can’t be that.
You’ve halted ATO investigations into tax scams and avoidance schemes by individuals and corporations including your mate Rupert Murdoch. You continue to ignore the fact that a third of Australia’s richest companies pay less than 10 cents in the dollar in corporate tax, 84% pay less than 30 cents in the dollar and nearly two thirds of them declare subsidiaries in tax havens. Meanwhile $80 billion in health and education funding has gone up in smoke under your watch, with the promise of more cuts to come, and you’ve still managed to piss away another $30.5 billion!
In the last five years business profits in Australia have continued to grow while the proportion of tax revenue from business has shrunk from 23% to 19%. Wage growth has slowed in that time while the proportion of tax revenue from individuals has risen from 37% to 39%. Is this the heavy lifting you were talking about? Or were you referring to the job Australia has of carrying an inept clown as Treasurer for at least another two years? Here’s a savings tip for you: If the only thing you’re capable of doing is blaming everything on Labor and the poor then why not go back to doing it in opposition? I’ll even do the maths for you; it’ll be $30.5 billion cheaper.
Original Posting from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1502415819977255/permalink/1548525888699581/
Europe April 2010
Taken at Europe - France, Italy, Amsterdam..
Back in 2010. My Daughter (Sarah) was invited to go on an all expenses paid European trip by two of her (more than generous..) high school Teachers (Ben and Taryn). This put me in a “Damned if I do, Damned if I don’t.” position. After meeting Ben and Taryn and receiving a higher than “glowing” recommendation by both Sarah and Daniel (my Son). I (with some misgivings.. ) allowed Sarah to go off on her European adventure.
Zoom in on Image
Ben wasn't very "well" during the trip over seas. You can see the swelling in his face is you look at the above images of the "trip". The following image is of Ben and Taryn (in better times..)
Zoom in on Image
Seems Ben and Taryn have now "hit the wall" financially while trying to deal with Bens ongoing medical costs..
If you can help.. Or would like to pass the URL on..
The New South Wales police have used sophisticated hacking software to monitor the phones and computers of Australians, according to documents published by WikiLeaks.
In a new cache published on Monday NSW police are listed as a client of Gamma International, a German company that develops powerful spyware to remotely monitor computer use.
The documents show that NSW police have used several of the company’s spy programs for a number of investigations at a cost of more than $2m.
The software – known as FinSpy (or FinFisher) – allows widespread access to computer records, including extracting files from hard drives, grabbing images of computer screens, full Skype monitoring, logging keystrokes and monitoring email and chat communications.
“When FinSpy (FinFisher) is installed on a computer system it can be remotely controlled and accessed as soon as it is connected to the internet/network, no matter where in the world the target system is based,” earlier documentation published by WikiLeaks said.
In NSW the police can apply for a special type of covert search warrant that would allow police to monitor computers remotely. The warrants are obtained from an “eligible judge” of the supreme court who is able to grant warrants.
The computer access possible under the program is extensive. In one communication with the software developers, a NSW police officer writes that there are risks that sensitive information – such as privileged communication with a lawyer – could be caught by the program.
Due to law restrictions on how certain information obtained … is it possible to implement a categorisation feature that can show categories for certain information ? For instance. A key logger captures information which is between a lawyer and a known criminal which is not an offense in itself.
“The captured information needs to be able to be identified as legal privilege and not used in any further intelligence capability as it is considered private. There are other categories that may come up so it would be useful if the categories could be implemented at the user level rather than hard coded by Gamma.”
NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the WikiLeaks revelations were deeply concerning.
“Information that should be privileged, including communications with a lawyer or information that’s well beyond the scope of the warrant, is almost certainly being captured by this warrant. It looks as if the police don’t have systems to exclude it, and it’s deeply troubling.”
He also said the documents highlighted the need for a public interest monitor in NSW to ensure there was sufficient scrutiny over the warrant process.
“There’s obviously a significant flaw in a system which has no public scrutiny of it and nobody there testing the case, with the evidence only put forward by the police. It’s not the role of the judge to test the evidence, so the hearings just have one side of the argument put forward.
“We should have a public interest monitor that appears in these proceedings to do just that – to be there as an independent third party testing the police evidence, and that’s an office we’ve been calling for [for] some time now.”
Despite the substantial costs associated with the program, there appear to be no online tender records of Gamma International or any of its subsidiaries holding contracts with the NSW police.
A spokesman for NSW police said: “Given this technology relates to operational capability, it’s not appropriate to comment.”
WikiLeaks - FinSpy Brochure: https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/files/0/299_GAMMA-201110-FinFisher_Product_Portfolio-en.pdf
IP’s to Block: http://sokosensei.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/updated-list-of-ips-that-you-should-block/
John Howard has questioned the Coalition’s decision to launch two royal commissions in its first year in government, saying that the process shouldn’t be used for “narrow targeted political purposes”.
A royal commission into the home insulation scheme has already concluded, while another royal commission, into unions, is underway.
Howard told the Australian: “I’m uneasy about the idea of having royal commissions or inquiries into essentially a political decision on which the public has already delivered a verdict.
“I don’t think you should ever begin to go down the American path of using the law for narrow targeted political purposes. I think the special prosecutions in the US are appalling.”
Four young men died during work provided by the home insulation scheme in 2009 and 2010. The previous Labor government introduced the scheme as a way to stimulate the economy during the global financial crisis.
The home insulation royal commission cost about $25m and followed several previous coronial and Senate inquiries into the matter. The commission questioned former prime minister Kevin Rudd about the scheme’s roll-out, with the subsequent report finding that the program was seriously flawed.
“I am uneasy about those approaches,” Howard said. “I have to say I’m not happy about that but that’s a decision the government makes and, after all, the former government was tipped out on the strength of, among other things, the failure of the home insulation scheme. There has been coronial investigations.”
Howard is the latest former prime minister to question how the Coalition is handling the royal commission process. Earlier this year, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke expressed concern that the government would break a long-standing convention of cabinet confidentiality by handing certain documents over to the home insulation royal commission.
Last week, Julia Gillard, yet another previous prime minister, gave evidence at the royal commission into trade union governance and corruption. Gillard was questioned at length about regularly repeated allegations that she used money from a union slush fund to make renovations to her home in the 1990s.
Labor has accused the government of using the royal commissions as part of an ideological witch-hunt against the previous administration. Mark Dreyfus, the shadow attorney general, told Guardian Australia that Howard’s view on the use of royal commissions is telling.
“Establishing legal inquiries for political purposes is an abuse of power,” he said. “Royal commissions serve our community well – the child abuse royal commission is a good example of that. But we have had two inquiries set up for primarily political purposes.
“The union commission is very much a pursuit of a political vendetta. My concern about the home insulation royal commission is that millions of dollars was spent investigating something that has already been investigated eight times.
“I’ve been appalled by both. When you have a former prime minister criticising this kind of abuse of power, it would surely make the Abbott government think again before using a royal commission for political purposes.”
Dreyfus insisted that he had no intention of pursuing a similar strategy if Labor won the next election and he became attorney general again.
“I’ve received a lot of mail that says Labor should use royal commissions in this way,” he said. “I would hope no future Labor government would do so.”
Article: Oliver Milman
Photograph: Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images
Publisher: The Guardian
Emails show Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, proposed to use question time to showcase claims by Brickworks chief executive Lindsay Partridge. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
BY NEIL CHENOWETH (The Australian Financial Review)
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, has been revealed as the mystery Liberal Party figure involved in an email exchange Liberal Party lawyers sought to have suppressed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
In the emails, dated March 1, 2011, Ms Credlin proposes to use question time to showcase claims by Brickworks chief executive Lindsay Partridge, after Liberal NSW fundraiser Paul Nicolaou described Mr Partridge to her as “a very good supporter of the party”.
The emails show Mr Abbott’s office working with Mr Partridge and Brickworks for Mr Abbott’s campaign against the carbon tax, at a time when senior federal Liberals would have been aware Brickworks, a prohibited donor, had channelled funds to the NSW Liberals through the Free Enterprise Foundation.
Ms Credlin’s husband, Brian Loughnane, the federal director of the Liberal Party, was copied in on emails on July 30 2010 about a $50,000 donation to the NSW branch by Brickworks which was subsequently paid via the Free Enterprise Foundation, together with $100,000 to the federal party, for the federal election.
Counsel assisting ICAC Geoffrey Watson, SC, said on Thursday “we’ve been threatened” with a Supreme Court action to suppress the emails after concerns were raised by Robert Newlinds, SC, the counsel for former assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos. “I think it’s not coming from Senator Sinodinos, it was coming from the Liberal Party,” Mr Watson said.
“I just don’t want this to get out,” Mr Newlinds said, in asking for a suppression order not only on the page but also the legal argument about the order.
The emails had been published on the ICAC website on Thursday morning before they were withdrawn three hours later.
The suppression order was lifted by commissioner Megan Latham after the lawyers for the House of Representative Speaker Bronwyn Bishop said they would not claim privilege over the documents.
NSW LIBERALS’ BIGGEST BACKER ICAC has already heard Brickworks was the NSW Liberal Party’s largest backer in the March 2011 state election, despite its work as a property developer making it a prohibited donor for NSW.
Liberals state finance director Simon McInnes has confirmed donations were made to the Free Enterprise Foundation in Canberra before being forwarded to the federal party with instructions they be forwarded to the NSW division, though he insisted they were used for the federal campaign.
The suppressed emails begin shortly after 2.52pm on March 1, 2011, when Mr Partridge forwarded to Mr Nicolaou an internal Brickworks email. The email, headed “Bunya estate off to a good start” included a Daily Telegraph article about the need to free up land for housing in western Sydney.
“Paul. This is what I was talking about,” Mr Partridge wrote. “I have written a price I will send you when I return. Best. Lindsay.”
Mr Nicolaou testified on Friday he was not aware Brickworks had a property development division (the division earned $29 million in fiscal 2011).
Four minutes later, Mr Partridge emailed Mr Nicolaou again: “Tell Tony to stick to his guns on no carbon tax. We want certainty that there is no new tax. Thanks Lindsay.”
At 9.29 that night, Mr Nicolaou forwarded Mr Partridge’s second email to the federal opposition leader’s chief of staff: “Dear Peta, please note below from Lindsay Partridge the MD of Brickworks the largest producer of bricks in Australia and a very good supporter of the party.”
Four minutes later Ms Credlin replied: “Paul, Lindsay provides a great line for Question Time. Do you have a number that I might be able to contact him on … it would be ideal for tomorrow cheers Peta.
A series of comments about Brickworks followed, in parliament and in press conferences by high-profile Liberals.
At 9.37pm, three minutes after Ms Credlin’s email, Mr Nicolaou replied with a phone number, copying to Mr Partridge: “Lindsay would be only too happy to help … Feel free to call him.”
In fact, Mr Partridge was in Europe on a business trip and did not reply until 1.15am Sydney time: “Paul/Peta. This is amazing I am in France and talking to a manager of a large roof tile maker … Under a carbon tax regime many products including cement production will move offshore. The others the price will just go up.”
With the difficulties of the time difference, the following day in question time Mr Abbott instead raised the case of a Canberra businessman “John Fragopoulos, who runs FishCo in Belconnen and who is already paying $3,000 a month for electricity to keep his small business going”.
Brickworks surfaced in parliament on March 24 in a speech by the Liberals’ shadow assistant treasurer, Mathias Cormann. “I was drawn to an article today which was published by AAP where Mr Partridge, Australia’s largest brick and tile maker, said the federal government’s carbon price proposals will add about 10 per cent to the cost of housing across Australia – 10 per cent,” Senator Cormann said.
Senator Cormann told The Australian Financial Review on Monday: “My comments in Parliament were based entirely on information which was in the public domain at that time and which supported the public policy arguments against the carbon tax we were pursuing at the time, namely that the carbon tax would push up the cost of living and the cost of doing business.
“I was not aware of any contact during that period between Brickworks and the then office of the Leader of the Opposition, which is not unusual, and to the best of my recollection have not myself had any contact with Brickworks either.”
On May 2 2011, Mr Abbott was at a factory in Melbourne for a press conference: “It’s good to be here at Austral Bricks [the subsidiary of Brickworks] … The company estimates that if a carbon tax comes in … that will add about 10 per cent to the cost of manufacturing bricks here in this country.”
On July 5, Nationals Senator Williams told the Senate: “Several of [Brickworks’] sites will become unsustainable and result in the loss of many jobs.”
And on September 14 Mr Abbott told parliament the carbon tax would provide “$2 million a year additional cost” for Austral Bricks.
The federal Liberal party would have been conscious of how Brickworks donations were channelled in 2010 through the Free Enterprise Foundation because of disputes over which branch would end up with the funds.
‘THE MONEY DIDN’T END UP THERE AT ALL’ Several emails about the Brickworks donations were copied to Senator Sinodinos and to Brian Loughnane, in July 2010.
“Via the diversionary organization [sic] there is $50K going to NSW,” Mr Partridge emailed Nicolaou on July 29 2010. He told ICAC he was referring to the Free Enterprise Foundation as the diversionary organisation.
While the July 29 exchange was not copied to federal officials, they were copied in on on July 30 when Mr Nicolaou emailed Michael Yabsley, the federal treasurer of the Liberal Party, about $50,000 that developer Harry Triguboff was donating via the Free Enterprise Foundation to be split between the state and federal parties for the federal campaign. This wasn’t the only money going into the Free Enterprise Foundation.
“In addition, I spoke to Lindsay Partridge from Brickworks last night and he is arranging for $100K to be EFT’d into the Federal Division bank account today with a further $150k to be distributed equally to NSW, Qld & WA for their respective federal campaigns,” Mr Nicolaou wrote, copying the email to Senator Sinodinos and and Brian Loughnane.
Mr Yabsley replied an hour later, also copied to Sinodinos and Loughnane, “The Brickworks donation is subject to discussions but certainly the reference to the contribution to NSW is correct.”
Mr Partridge wasn’t happy: “Giving money to the Liberal Party was like giving a hot chip to a bunch of seagulls, the seagull that’s got the chip in his mouth doesn’t necessarily get to eat it,” he told ICAC last week.
Mr Partridge said he had been “quite annoyed”, because he had intended to give $50,000 to the state Liberal branches in Western Australia, Queensland and NSW, and $100,000 to the federal division.
Brickworks’ property arm had rezoning applications looming in the three states.
“But the money didn’t end up there at all,” Mr Partridge said. Instead $100,000 was paid directly to the federal party, with $150,000 going to the Free Enterprise Foundation, with $50,000 of this going the NSW party, with the federal party holding on to the rest.
This appears to have been an allocation decided by federal officials after discussions.
Brickworks donated another $130,000 to NSW Liberals plus $50,000 coming from its associated company, Washington H. Soul Pattinson, in November-December 2010, with no reference to the federal campaign.
Mr McInnes and Mr Nicolaou have said they believed it was legal for money from prohibited donors to be channelled to the FEF and then back to the state party, but they had never sought legal advice on this.
On July 23, Colin Gracie of the Liberals’ federal secretariat emailed Mr McInnes: “Brian Loughnane has agreed that for the time being, the Fed Sec will operate on the policy set out in the attachment. In effect, there is no benefit for a NSW donor to donate via the Fed Sec, unless they are a property developer.”
Mr McInnes emailed state director Mark Neeham on August 7, 2010: “There have been $95,000 of donations made via the Free Enterprise Foundation that will be directed to the federal division with instruction from them to pay to us.”
Mr McInnes confirmed at ICAC the federal division was part of the scheme for funds to go through the Free Enterprise Foundation to the federal party then be forwarded back to the state party. But he said that the state used the money for federal campaigns.
Mr Partridge appeared to have high expectations of the level of access Brickworks’ donation bought him.
When invited to dinner with Mr Abbott in July 2010 (which was later cancelled), he wrote, “Will I get a photo with Tony like I got from John Howard[?] I will be wanting to talk about all my employees on AWAs [Australian Workplace Agreements] who are now stuck and don’t want to be unionised.”
On March 15, 2011, two weeks after the Credlin emails, Mr Partridge wrote to Mr Nicolaou: “A couple of people have said to me we should get rid of the cartoon ad, as it is infantile and is demeaning to the Liberals. If you could pass the comment on. Ta. Lindsay.”
Mr Nicolaou promptly forwarded this email to state director Mark Neeham: “Dear Mark, please note our biggest supporters’ comments below.”