The government has paid nearly a million dollars to cover its sudden axing of Australia's peak drug and alcohol body, documents reveal.
A leaked report from the administrator winding up the Alcohol and Other Drug Council of Australia shows the government has paid out more than $949,000 so far because of the decision by beleaguered Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash to cut the organisation's funding without notice.
Public health groups and former Liberal MP and council board president Mal Washer have said the decision was ill-informed, especially given the organisation cost only between $1.3 million and $1.6 million annually.
The wind-up cost raises further questions as to why the senator chose to cut the council's funding on the grounds she could no longer afford to provide for the organisation, which had been funded for almost 50 years.
Senator Nash was censured in Parliament this month for misleading the Senate and refusing to produce documentation outlining how her chief of staff was allowed to continue working for her despite co-owning a company that had worked for the alcohol and junk food industries.
Dr Washer, who has resigned because he says the lack of funding made his position untenable, said the decision was ''a bloody tragedy''. ''This wasn't subject to any review … it was dumb advising dumber, and dumb won,'' he said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a $320 million assistance package to support drought-hit farmers in New South Wales and Queensland.
Justifying the package, Mr Abbott said: "Drought of this severity is not the normal course of business. This is not just a once-in-a-decade drought. It's a once-in-a-quarter-century drought in many places. In some places, it's a once-in-a-century drought".
ABC Fact Check investigates whether the current drought really is a "once-in-a-quarter-century" drought or even a "once-in-a-century" drought.
Mr Abbott is not the dude who formulated the severity of the drought... The BoM (Bureau of Meteorology) GAVE HIM THE INFORMATION to spruik... That Mr Abbott says it OR NOT is BESIDE the fuct chicken... The person doing the fact check at the ABC seems to always try to associate win-wins with the Liberals (CONservatives) and loose-loose with Labor... What actually the fict-chocker at the ABC should investigate is if Tony Abbott has yet realised that the AVERAGE TEMPERATURES IN AUSTRALIA ARE RISING and that this has led to increases in extremes — DROUGHT and FLOODS.
In fact Tony Abbott and his team of denialists are telling weasel porkies in regard to global warming.
Now, DOES GLOBAL WARMING FACT CHECKS? The pea brain in charge of fact checking at the ABC would not HAVE A CLUE or would not be prepared to wet his dacks on this issue — though 97 per cent of serious scientists know it's happening FASTER that we care to do anything about it.
The Fick-Chucker at the ABC should also investigate the stupid value of the Direct Action by Tony-da-Boom versus the carbon Pricing. I believe a lot of economists and bankers think that the carbon pricing is the way to go and the rest thinks that the duroct iction is a TOTAL crock/cruck/crick and does not fock-chuck-iut...
That Tony decided to help the farmers is a political decision. That the drought is known to be severe is observed by the BoM and the farmers. The ABC FACT-CHEKER fact-checking the Bureau of meteorology???? Come on!!! That's a crock to give points to Tony... Fock thut!!!
Now if the feckt chickor at the ABC is looking for real things to do or check out:
These are but a few of the known, or declared, environmentally destructive acts, of the last six months.
Turnbull says the growth of the internet means:“… we should have less regulation and more freedom.”Given Australia already has the most highly concentrated media ownership in the western world and most people still get their news from TV or newspapers, this statement is an insulting furphy.The only thing that is absolutely certain is that it will be carefully designed to give Murdoch more power, more control and more wealth to stash in his tax-free island banks.When Murdoch used his imported ace headline writer to help the LNP steal last year’s election victory, the old octogenarian wasn’t whistling Dixie — he was out to claim his reward.He has obviously made it clear to the Abbott Government it is now time to pay the piper.http://www.independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/the-murdoch-payback,6266
Turnbull says the growth of the internet means:
“… we should have less regulation and more freedom.”
Given Australia already has the most highly concentrated media ownership in the western world and most people still get their news from TV or newspapers, this statement is an insulting furphy.
The only thing that is absolutely certain is that it will be carefully designed to give Murdoch more power, more control and more wealth to stash in his tax-free island banks.
When Murdoch used his imported ace headline writer to help the LNP steal last year’s election victory, the old octogenarian wasn’t whistling Dixie — he was out to claim his reward.
He has obviously made it clear to the Abbott Government it is now time to pay the piper.
Former Heinz chief executive William Johnson received $110.5m (£66.1m) for the final eight months of 2013, the food firm disclosed in a filing to US regulators.Current boss Bernardo Hees, who joined the firm in June, received $9.2m.Mr Hees has cut more than 3,400 positions and closed factories in an effort to boost profits.Heinz was bought by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $28bn in February 2013.The firm, whose products include ketchup, baked beans, and a variety of frozen meals, reported a net loss of $71.7m from February to December 2013.It announced the closure of three US plants in November and two European processing plants in February this year.Nonetheless, Mr Buffett recently said in an annual report to Berkshire Hathaway's shareholders that he expected 2014 earnings at the firm to be "substantial".He also said the acquisition could serve as a model for future buys.http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26523828
Former Heinz chief executive William Johnson received $110.5m (£66.1m) for the final eight months of 2013, the food firm disclosed in a filing to US regulators.
Current boss Bernardo Hees, who joined the firm in June, received $9.2m.
Mr Hees has cut more than 3,400 positions and closed factories in an effort to boost profits.
Heinz was bought by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $28bn in February 2013.
The firm, whose products include ketchup, baked beans, and a variety of frozen meals, reported a net loss of $71.7m from February to December 2013.
It announced the closure of three US plants in November and two European processing plants in February this year.
Nonetheless, Mr Buffett recently said in an annual report to Berkshire Hathaway's shareholders that he expected 2014 earnings at the firm to be "substantial".
He also said the acquisition could serve as a model for future buys.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has denounced the ''vicious ingratitude'' of the artists who forced the withdrawal of Transfield as a sponsor of the Biennale arts festival over the company's involvement in offshore processing of asylum seekers.
Mr Turnbull said losing the company, the festival's founding sponsor, could spell the end of the event.
"Really, this is disastrous," Mr Turnbull said. "If we lose the Biennale as a consequence of this that would be an absolute tragedy."
The artists had threatened to boycott the Biennale of Sydney because it accepted money from founding partner Transfield Holdings, a company with a 12 per cent shareholding in Transfield Services, which won a $1.2 billion contract to run the Abbott government's immigration detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.
But while the artists have claimed victory in forcing Transfield Holdings to sever its 40-year tie with the arts festival, they may have achieved the opposite of their objective, the Communications Minister said.
Instead of encouraging the Abbott government to reconsider its harsh asylum seeker policies, the artists had succeeded in sidelining one of Australia's great philanthropic families, who had generously supported the arts for more than 50 years, Mr Turnbull said.
"I hope the Biennale can survive but I think the artists that have done this have potentially driven a stake, not through the asylum seeker policy, I can assure you of that, but through the heart of the Biennale itself," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Monday.
Russia is not a superpower. Its population was shrinking, and so is its military, political, and economic might. Yes, Russians have their oil money to organise Olympics or buy fancy flats in London, but Russia itself is a far cry from the big nasty "bear" that was invading Afghanistan, when I emigrated from this evil colossus in search of a political freedom so lacking at home. Yet, this cherished western freedom is being threatened by a stifling hypocrisy.
For reasons that are both obvious and complex, Russia, the main heir of the collapsed Soviet Union, continues to be seen as an evil country. So any politician down on his luck - Senator McCain from Arizona is a case in point - is more than happy to invoke the ghosts of the Cold War and use Russia as a stepping stone for his failing attempts to stay relevant. What could be simpler? Just get on the Fox news, or if you are more sophisticated, on the pages of New Republic, Weekly Standard, or NYT Review of Books, and pontificate about the need to get tough on Russia. You gain immediate access to the deep recesses of the American psyche raised in constant fear of the Evil Empire. The public is yours to take.
The same strategy works well in Great Britain as well, where anti-Russian phobia runs even deeper, into 19th century with its almost pathological and racist fear of Russia's rising power. That fear, by the way, has already resulted in the Crimea War of 19th century. (David Fromkin's 1989 prize winning study, A Peace to End all Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East offers a superb analysis of the power and geopolitical legacy of this fear).
But this combination of opportunism with self-induced blindness, clearly obscures the reality of the situation. Most importantly, Russians feel humiliated as a result of the collapse of their empire. And everyone knows you don't taunt or mock your defeated enemy. Western leaders, however, are forever ready to do so and while engaging in this morally dubious enterprise, they keep congratulating themselves for their moral uprightness.
"Pussy Riot", "gay propaganda law", Olympics and everything else in between are the subject of endless moralizing, while Western scandals and abuses are dismissed as the sign of the healthy democratic process.
The situation in Ukraine reminds of Moliere's famous play Tartuffe in which the main character is a selfish and manipulative person, who pursues his materialist interests under the guise of piety. Russia falls into its role of Moliere's gullible Orgon, while the west plays a convincing Tartuffe.
Dealing with such an exotic country as Russia, separated from the West by its unique geography, history, religion, and political system, the West has fully internalised utterly undemocratic and hypocritical attitude captured by the maxim: "quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi" (What is allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to an ox). Furthermore, as late comers to the Western civilisation, Russians themselves seem to accept this unhealthy attitude without challenging it.
This situation has persisted after the collapse of the Soviet Union Despite its self-congratulations on the triumphant power of democratic values and its demands that Russia treats its citizens and neighbours with equanimity, the West continues to lecture it on its inadequacies. Consequently, Western militaristic adventures be it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Kosovo are disguised as some sort of noble and moral endeavours.
Russia's assertions of its country national interests are presented, however, as an act of blatant aggression. One would expect that the endless amount of economic, political, social, and military abuses that we witness around us would make modern day Tartuffes more modest in their pious claims, but it doesn't.
Furthermore, if the West preaches equality but treats other countries as second best, why can't Russia do that too? Why can't it treat Ukraine in the same way it has been treated by the West? And if Russia is the subject of double standards, was the West lying to the Russians all along, convincing them that there's nothing to fear and can peacefully disarm and withdraw, while at the same time secretly expanding NATO towards its borders? To push the analogy with Moliere's play even further, Tartuffe is not just a sanctimonious hypocrite; he eventually tries to repossess the house of Orgon, whose gullibility he uses precisely for that purpose.
I suspect that the collapse of Ukraine has brought this fact to the surface, and Russians - in the manner of Orgon - suddenly realised that they've been taken advantage of, that Tartuffe wants to re-possess their house, that all these assurances that Russia is an equal member of G8 were empty talk. It can see nuclear arms at its border, which the West will surely place there after it buys Ukraine out of its economic crisis. Western response? Blame Russian aggression again. It is a classic case of blaming the victim. Now the West will surely surround Russia with nuclear arms.
I hope that the West will come back to its senses, sit at the table and negotiate with Russia a solution to the Ukrainian crisis and create a military neutral space there. Because if it doesn't, the next Russian political leader might be less accommodating than Putin, whose foreign policy was to give the West everything it wanted while getting very little in return.
Like the US, the UK, and France, Russia has its legitimate national interests that have to be defended. Why should Russia tolerate NATO at its borders and the potential loss of the Sevastopol navy base to the modern-day Tartuffes?
Vladimir Golstein teaches Russian literature and film at Brown University. He was the 2013-2014 Pembroke Center Faculty Fellow. He is the author of Lermontov's Narratives of Heroism(1999) and numerous articles on all major Russian authors. He was born in Moscow, went to the US in 1979, and studied at Columbia and Yale Universities.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
Tests have confirmed that hundreds of native birds around Dubbo in western New South Wales died from exposure to a pesticide.The state's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has been investigating the mass deaths of species including sulphur-crested cockatoos, galahs and corellas.The number of dead birds has jumped from 300 last week to almost 700.EPA spokesman Garry Davies says initial testing has been completed."We've collected samples of the dead birds; we've sent those samples away to our laboratories in Sydney, they've analysed the material," he said."The results of those tests have indicated it's an insecticide."The agency is expecting results from further testing this week, and it is hoped the inquiries will identify the source of the contamination.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-11/pesticide-caused-mass-bird-deaths-near-dubbo/5312092----------------------------I knew a lawn that used to be teeming with bird life, then one weekend there was NOT A SINGLE BIRD to be seen within a mile... The lawn had been sprayed with insecticide... All the grubs that use to live in the lawn had surfaced and had died... Birds don't eat dead grubs... See article at top...
Tests have confirmed that hundreds of native birds around Dubbo in western New South Wales died from exposure to a pesticide.
The state's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has been investigating the mass deaths of species including sulphur-crested cockatoos, galahs and corellas.
The number of dead birds has jumped from 300 last week to almost 700.
EPA spokesman Garry Davies says initial testing has been completed.
"We've collected samples of the dead birds; we've sent those samples away to our laboratories in Sydney, they've analysed the material," he said.
"The results of those tests have indicated it's an insecticide."
The agency is expecting results from further testing this week, and it is hoped the inquiries will identify the source of the contamination.
I knew a lawn that used to be teeming with bird life, then one weekend there was NOT A SINGLE BIRD to be seen within a mile... The lawn had been sprayed with insecticide... All the grubs that use to live in the lawn had surfaced and had died... Birds don't eat dead grubs...
See article at top...
Gus note: last summer 2012-13 broke 123 records of temperature in Australia... some of these records and new ones have been broken by this latest summer 2013-14...
Kuala Lumpur: Crime agencies say the discovery that two of the passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 were using stolen passports has revealed a key flaw in international airline travel security.
The international policing organisation Interpol says more than a billion travellers last year boarded planes without their passports being checked against its data base of 40 million lost or stolen passports.
Interpol has confirmed the passports used by passengers on flight 370 were entered into Interpol’s database after they were stolen in Thailand where there is a thriving passport racket.
Malcolm Turnbull is the ideal salesman for media deregulation because he’s an optimist and an internet utopian. He absolutely believes technological change and a combination of market forces and inspired philanthropy are in the business of sorting out Australia’s diversity problem.
If that’s actually your core belief then the logical thing for a communications minister to do is precisely what he’s foreshadowing – rip up the outmoded regulation, let the industry rationalise while guiding some traffic behind the scenes – like a form of intelligent design, but for the media.
The problem is that Turnbull’s assessment of the current media landscape is both right, and quite wrong.
Let’s deal with the right first. Things are changing. There are new and vibrant voices, there’s disruption and entrepreneurship and the hegemony of the old players is not what it once was. Technology gives us all the power to not only indulge in the latest fashion of fact selection, but actually curate our own news. We can take what we like and screen out the rest. The most avid news consumer can construct their bespoke media cocoon and furnish it to their taste. (Happy days – except for all the downsides, which would require a whole separate analysis – so let’s not go there today.)
Now let’s deal with the wrong.
The world Turnbull paints is the world of the information privileged, not the average consumer. The average Australian media consumer still resides in one of the most concentrated media markets in the developed world. The old, entrenched media players still dominate and shape the local media narrative, from the first news bulletin at first light to late night TV current affairs.
The current concentration reflects several decades of public policy failure by both Liberal and Labor governments, who prioritised making peace with rent-seeking media moguls above serving the broader public interest.
These genuflections have had a cumulative effect: they’ve made governments weaker and the megaphone wielders stronger. Why governments keep consenting to that zero-sum-game transaction is really beyond me.
Let’s be clear here. The changes flagged by Turnbull over the weekend won’t actually benefit the upstarts and the disrupters. They benefit the incumbents, and potentially at least, the biggest, most politically influential incumbent of them all, News Corp.
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