Monday, September 29, 2014

Government bribing dictators

Isn't bribing foreign governments illegal?

Not, apparently, if you're our government.

In the latest move which has appalled the world, a minimum of $40 million of our tax money is to be given to the leaders of Cambodia - universally recognised as one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. In return they will take some refugees who were seeking asylum in Australia.

The UK's The Independent newspaper summed it up nicely: "Canberra’s latest ‘solution’ to its refugee problem has shocked even seasoned observers. 

Under the secretive agreement, Cambodia will resettle an unspecified number of refugees currently held in an Australian-run detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru. In exchange, as well as paying resettlement costs, Canberra will donate an extra A$40m in aid over the next four years...even seasoned observers of its policy over the past decade are appalled.

Still recovering from civil war, genocide and Vietnamese occupation, Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest nations. It has a shocking human rights record. It has sent asylum-seekers and refugees back to countries from which they fled. Those who escape that fate live on the margins of Cambodian society.

Amnesty International branded the deal “a new low in Australia’s deplorable and inhumane treatment of asylum-seekers”. The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) called it “a worrying departure from international norms”. Alastair Nicholson, a former chief justice of Australia’s Family Court, said it was “inappropriate, immoral and likely illegal”.

Not only an appalling decision but once again we have secrecy instead of transparency, something we've come to expect from the Abbott government, especially from Scott Morrison.

He's the man responsible for this and many other totally unacceptable decisions, but he's lauded as the top-performing Cabinet member, slated for promotion and even more responsibility.

It sums up this government perfectly.

Ideology before reason

"There is absolutely no good reason for the Federal Government to own a private health insurance business today."

Mathias Cormann,

I can tell the Minister for Finance two overriding reasons why Medibank should continue to be publicly owned. In fact I said it back in a March post.

One, it gives a large measure of control over the premiums charged by the private health insurers, using market forces. Instead of laws and regulations - surely an aim of the 'small government' Coalition? - Medibank can exert a strong influence by keeping its premiums under control. Competition - a catch-cry of the Coalition - means the others would need to follow suit.

Two, the hundreds of millions contributed to the federal budget by Medibank would continue year after year. Sell it and you get a very short-term windfall but bugger all in future years.

But no, ideology wins out yet again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Selective justice

Former Speaker Peter Slipper ripped off taxpayers by using $954 of his Cabcharge vouchers for private visits to wineries. He's been hounded for years, lost his job and has just been sentenced to 300 hours of community service.

Meanwhile, more than a few of our other elected representatives continue to rip us off, yet they get away with it.

Recent examples are serial offender PM Abbott's trip to Melbourne for a party fundraiser, which he charged to taxpayers as he organised a visit to a cancer centre the next morning, and Christopher Pyne's junket with his wife to London and Rome.

Pyne's charge to us included not only his wife's expenses but $1352 for a few pre-flight hours in a hotel and $2060 for the use of Heathrow's VIP Suite.

I hear no suggestion that they will face court for defrauding us.

Abbott rip-off 

Pyne rip-off 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another one gone

Ten and counting.

A tenth NSW Liberal politician has been exposed by ICAC as taking 'donations' illegally and has gone to the crossbench.

They should of course be going to jail, not the crossbenches.

It's corruption, plain and simple. 'Donations' is code for bribe. Politicians in the pockets of big business, in it for themselves at the expense of the rest of us, and often the environment.

As we ordinary voters have long known, developers routinely bribe politicians and officials in order to facilitate approval for dodgy developments.

As a result the country is full totally inappropriate developments, built at hugely inflated costs.

Sydney Morning Herald reports here.

Bizarre verdict

Someone's in your bathroom behind the closed door.

You get your gun, loaded with hollow point bullets which are designed to cause maximum injury, and you quite deliberately fire four shots through the door.

The person inside is killed

That has to be murder doesn't it?

The judge in the Oscar Pisorius trial says it's not.

I'd demand a retrial.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Appropriate sentence

For once a court seems to have got the sentencing of a criminal something approaching appropriate for the crime.

Go back two and a half years to the day that three innocent people were killed by a drugged-up truck driver, which I posted about at the time.

Vincent George killed them when he crushed their little Ford Mondeo with his huge B-double truck. He's a serial offender, found guilty many times of drink driving and speeding, and he'd been banned from driving five times already.

On the day of the accident, he was high on illegally obtained methadone, was speeding and had been driving for the past 22 hours with a break of only 4½ hours.

He first tried to put the blame on an L-plater in front of him. Then he offered to plead guilty to a charge of dangerous driving occasioning death. Sensibly, that was rejected by the Crown. He was charged with three counts of manslaughter, and guilty is the verdict.

He was sentenced to 17 years in jail with a non-parole period of 12 years and nine months.

Whoever at his employer, another serial offender,  Lennons Transport,  gave him the job should be charged too, with aiding and abetting.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Nasty Aussie expats

For a few years now there have been sightings of red back spiders in Dubai, and now they're apparently appearing in Abu Dhabi. So maybe they're all over the UAE now.

Pretty but nasty little critters, the females' body is only about 10mm long (the male is less than half the size), glossy black with a bright red stripe.

They're amongst our most dangerous spiders, although an antivenom is available and as a result there haven't been any deaths here for about half a century. Press reports say that UAE hospitals have it available.