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J is for jihad

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

IN MARCH this year, a group of Islamic radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.
Nanjing Night Net

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman, who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession, was the prisoners’ mosque functionary who came under the influence of Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with another Bali bomber, Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists, and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling this issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi” – Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia entirely with an Islamic caliphate under Islamic law.

Until the Bali bombings, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terror police, has had great success in cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists.”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500. For every 10 prosecuted, another one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terror, and many more who have gone unnoticed so far.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones which blew up by accident in the kitchen.

Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised. The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding and follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sunday Age that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the United States and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians not the three mujahideens,” he writes. ”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila” – ”crazy”. But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle and wise old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiah, Bashir’s former terror vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron, and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the latter-day plots that police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the Ngruki boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rohim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that the school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down, and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque being built and the separate sections for boys and girls, the Al-Mukmin school in suburban Ngruki is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terror police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning, or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, young English and Arabic teacher Abu Amar airily says the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Abu Bakar Bashir’s son Aburahman Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad, saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamic state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual, or its curriculum dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school,” he says angrily. ”It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking. For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

The fact is that not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terror raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahid can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy. They were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.”

Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade. He says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing, and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp, or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a de-radicalisation program. Vice-President Boediono himself ordered an anti-terror plan to be in place by next year, and said that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono said.

But Irfan Idris, the head of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter-Terrorism, says the entire agency has a budget of only $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of de-radicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

Professor Sarlito Wirawan, a psychologist working on this program and others, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical boarding school in Ngruki, Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector de-radicalisation programs. Noor Ismail Huda, a journalist and former student at Ngruki, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes, and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdurahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate. He says attacking the ideology head-on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said.

”Then we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terror. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … this is what people here call Reformasi,” he says.

”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Islamist teaching … cleric Abdul Rahim, a son of Abdul Bashir, is a teacher at al-Mukmin school. Students laugh during a break in classes at al-Mukmin school.
Nanjing Night Net

Students in an English class at al-Mukmin school.

In March, a group of Islamist radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader, Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman – who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession – was the mosque functionary who came under the influence of the Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison, he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But, despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling the issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi”, Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia with a caliphate under Islamist law.

Until the Bali bombing, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terrorism police, has had great success cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, the Australian Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists [than Indonesia is].”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500.

For every 10 prosecuted, one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terrorism and many more who have so far gone unnoticed.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones that blew up by accident in the kitchen. Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised.

The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding, little follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside, he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sun-Herald that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the US and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph, he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians, not the three mujahideen,” he writes.

”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila”(crazy). But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiyah, Bashir’s former terrorism vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have since emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the more recent plots which police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rahim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that al-Mukmin school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque now under construction and the separate sections for boys and girls, al-Mukmin is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about ”mikroba” – microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terrorist police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, a young English and Arabic teacher, Abu Amar, airily says that the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamist state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual or that its curriculum is dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school. It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking,” Rohim says angrily. ”For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

However, not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terrorism raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahideen can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy – they were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.” Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited, both by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade.

Depressingly, he says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a deradicalisation program. The Vice President, Boediono, has ordered an anti-terrorist plan to be in place by next year, and says that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono says.

However, the director of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter Terrorism, Irfan Idris, says the entire agency only has a budget of $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of deradicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

A psychologist working on this program and others, Professor Sarlito Wirawan, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate, it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical pesantren at Ngruki, and Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector deradicalisation programs. A journalist and former student at Ngruki, Noor Ismail Huda, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard-core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdul Rahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiyah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate.

He says attacking the ideology head on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said. ”Then, we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terrorism. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiyah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia, it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … This is what people here call reformasi,” he says. ”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Running with scissors

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

Nicy try … Peter Morrissey, Megan Gale, Alex Perry and Claudia Navone.Looking back, model, actor, swimwear designer and host of Project Runway Australia, Megan Gale, has a clear memory about the moment when for her, clothes became ”fashion”.
Nanjing Night Net

Several waiters at the Southbank restaurant where we meet gaze at her from a discreet distance while an oblivious Gale stirs her coffee. ”It was the night of the school disco and mum wouldn’t let me go, but I just hassled her until she said, ‘All right, you can go, but you’ve got to go now.’ I was so happy I just went in the clothes I was in, which was a pair of jeans and tracksuit top.

”It was the ’80s so all my friends were wearing ra-ra skirts and their hair was crimped. That was the first time where I felt like I didn’t fit in because of what I was wearing.”

While you probably won’t see a ra-ra skirt on the fourth season of Project Runway Australia, Gale says some of its designers have produced remarkably original garments. ”Some of them interpret fashion in interesting ways,” she says. ”That’s what makes this show feel different each season. Everyone remembers Matcho from season three … he made you wonder where his head was creatively. This year we have Christina – she’s got this amazing vision and she really thinks outside the square. That’s exciting.”

Based on the long-running US version hosted by Heidi Klum, Project Runway Australia is a reality show about 12 fashion designers who must create a garment within the short time frame. Each week there’s an elimination – the last contestant standing wins.

The first challenge in episode one begins at midnight; pressure, exhaustion and creative temperaments are a compelling combination. Then there are the challenges. Gale says there are plenty of fresh tasks that force designers to use materials out of their comfort zones.

This year’s judges include Australian fashion designer Peter Morrissey and professional stylist and former fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Claudia Navone. ”Peter’s very playful,” Gale says. ”He takes it all seriously, but sometimes he’s like a six-year-old on red cordial. But I’m the wrangler when it comes to the judges, designers and guest judges [including Miranda Kerr and Dannii Minogue], so that’s a lot of fun, too.”

As a judge herself, Gale doesn’t hold back and has developed an uncanny knack when it comes to spotting the designers’ attempts to hide wayward pins. ”It’s true. I have an evil eye when it comes to pins but constructive criticism is important – but not all the designers like to hear it. Some of them stand there and just give you excuses and that just brings out my ‘mum’ tone.”

Designer Alex Perry (if he had a more substantial moustache, he’d twirl it) returns as mentor, dishing out his signature advice, which ranges from supportive and astute to delightfully acerbic. ”A lot of people may not believe this,” Gale says, ”but Alex has one of the biggest hearts. He has this persona that works on the show but he’s very down to earth. He rarely goes out to functions – he’d prefer to be at home, in his jammies, having a cup of tea with his wife and his dog.”

At the suggestion that maybe the decision-making process featured on the show is the result of scripting, Gale stresses that every result is hard-won.

”We all have a different perspective. We don’t always agree – Claudia might focus on how the garment photographs, Peter’s looking at how it’s crafted, and I’m thinking, ‘Would I wear that on the red carpet and do I want my underwear hanging out the back?’ We nut it out until we have a result.”

Gale is reluctant to reveal any specifics about the new season, but says there was one challenge that almost ended in disaster.

”All I’ll say is that the designers were asked to make an entire outfit and someone decided they’d knock out a pair of jeans, but they ended up looking like something circa 1980 and not in a good way.”

It could be said, though, that the mishaps – say, the model teetering down the catwalk praying her ill-fitting garment doesn’t cause a wardrobe malfunction – are a large part of the show’s appeal.

”Coming up with new challenges that are good for both the designers and viewers at home is a challenge in itself,” Gale says with a laugh, ”but this year we’ve definitely managed to come up with some great ones.”

Project Runway Australia premieres on Monday, October 8, at 8.30pm on Arena.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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It’s Whincup’s mountain – again

September 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

It was a day for legends of the Bathurst 1000. As a host of former greats looked on, Jamie Whincup joined them in the pantheon of Bathurst heroes with his fourth victory in the Great Race in just seven years.
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Too add to the historic lustre of his win, Whincup did it in another legendary finish, holding off young charger David Reynolds in a tense nose-to-tail duel over the final 12 laps.

If last year’s late-race battle between Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes was thrilling, yesterday’s fight to the finish was enthralling – and almost as close.

Tander beat Lowndes in 2011 by just 0.29 seconds – the closest competitive finish in Bathurst 1000 history – and Whincup took the chequered flag ahead of Reynolds by a mere 0.31 seconds.

In a classic Holden versus Ford shootout, the knife-edge battle between the day’s fastest representatives of the Red and the Blue sides was the fitting end of an era.

It was the last Bathurst 1000 restricted to Commodores and Falcons before V8 Supercars is opened up in 2013 to other makes for the first time in almost two decades.

Yesterday’s race was a glimpse of the future of the new generation of dominant V8 drivers, with Whincup’s fourth triumph raising his already lofty status even further and Reynolds’s dogged pursuit confirming his arrival as an emerging star.

At 29, Whincup is already well on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats of Australian touring car racing with three V8 championships in the past four years and, after this latest Bathurst success, well on his way to capturing this year’s crown.

By winning another Bathurst 1000, he is elevated to an elite who have conquered the mountain marathon more than three times, joining Allan Moffat and Greg Murphy on the Peter Brock Trophy four times. The only drivers to have won more are Lowndes (5), Larry Perkins and Mark Skaife (6), Jim Richards (7) and Brock (9).

Whincup has many more years to build up his legacy.

As he crafted his narrow yet also commanding win, many Bathurst legends were at the track as VIP guests, invited as part of the week-long celebrations of 50 years of touring car endurance races at Mount Panorama.

At times, it was impossible to move through the area behind the garages without running into a luminary driver whose fame was enshrined by winning one or more Bathurst 500/1000s dating back to 1963.

Among them were Bob Jane, Harry Firth, Moffat, Dick Johnson, Richards, Perkins and Allan Grice, to name just some of the more colourful winners.

Lowndes, who is Whincup’s Triple Eight Holden teammate and now his closest rival in the V8 championship race, has no doubts that Whincup now ranks among the greats at Mount Panorama. ”I think so,” said Lowndes, whose late race charge from nowhere to third underlined his mastery of the mountain.

”There’s no doubt that he’s talented. Winning Bathurst is a team effort and the team came together today for the win. He’s a big part of that combination.”

Whincup, whose previous three wins from 2006-08 were as Lowndes’s junior co-driver, was ably supported by his new partner Paul Dumbrell, who retired from active V8 competition at the end of last season.

Together, they recovered from early tyre problems to work their way to the front, allowing Whincup to balance enough speed with conserving fuel to be in a position to keep Reynolds at bay despite relentless pressure.

It was another example of why he is the class of the V8 field, regularly recovering from setbacks to conjure triumphs from potential disasters.

He was humble in victory, demurring when the proposition of achieving Bathurst legend status was put to him.

”Hey, I’m not greedy,” he smiled. ”It’s the first time I’ve crossed the finish line as a Bathurst winner as opposed to watching Lowndesy do it when we won three in a row.

”I’m still only 29, so hopefully I’ve still got a few more years left in me to win some more Bathurst 1000s. Winning this race is life-changing. I’m sure once it sinks in, what winning this one means will hit me.

“But this must be right up there as the highlight of my career, no doubt.”

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Big term looms for state’s principals

September 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

Encouraging teachers to go west … NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.SCHOOL principals will start choosing one out of every two new staff members from today at the start of what Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, said will be a ”big” school term for public education.
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”The most significant thing that happens on the first day of term is that principals can select every second member of their own staff,” Mr Piccoli said.

Half of a school’s staff will continue to be selected through the department of education’s incentive transfer system.

”We are making it more attractive for teachers to go west,” Mr Piccoli said. ”They will be given higher priority [in the transfer system].”

Also from today, 229 schools will start testing a new schools funding system in NSW. ”So, fourth term is a big term in public education,” Mr Piccoli said.

Mr Piccoli, who recently announced a $1.7 billion cut to the NSW education budget, said his department had reduced the cost of consultancies by two thirds this year, compared with last year. Together with a range of strategies, this will save $200 million in administration costs.

Professional teacher associations are expected to be recruited to help provide support for teachers to introduce the new national curriculum in 2014.

Mr Piccoli is expected to announce a strategy to provide the professional development later this week. ”I am very conscious of the need to support teachers in schools as we implement the national curriculum in 2014,” he said.

While the minister said he would try to keep budget cuts ”away from behind the school gate”, he said there would be fewer consultants available to help teachers develop curriculum materials.

”Where there were consultants that the school could ring, there will be fewer of those,” he said. ”There will still be 4900 people working in the bureaucracy instead of 5500.

”The person that you’ve usually called might not be there which means that you have to call someone else.”

Mr Piccoli said major productions such as the schools spectacular would continue despite cuts in arts funding.

Further decisions about how the department of education would absorb funding cuts would be clearer by the end of this year.

Following the disastrous start to the school year when 700 children with disabilities were left stranded waiting for school transport, Mr Piccoli said he was confident this would never happen again.

He said funding for the transport scheme would not be cut and had been boosted 50 per cent to deliver bus drivers higher payments.

Mr Piccoli said he was still confident the Gonski schools funding model could be implemented despite the cut in the NSW education budget.

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FOUR sisters at the centre of an international custody dispute are together in Italy but away from their father’s property after two of them tried to escape from his home.
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Just a day after being taken to their father’s villa on the outskirts of Florence, the two older girls ran to the front gates when they saw media camped outside and pleaded for reporters to help them return to Australia.

The eldest girl was taken back inside by her father, while her sister clung to the gate as her grandmother urged her to return inside. She held onto the gate for an hour, during which local police and social workers arrived.

The Australian Family Court ordered the four sisters, aged between nine and 15, be sent to Italy after their mother brought them to Australia for a holiday in 2010 and they never returned.

As the girl clung to the gate during the stand-off on Saturday, her father became involved in a scuffle with the media.

The Herald has been sent photographs from a supporter of the father, one showing a man’s thumb bandaged and another showing a graze on his shin.

A post on Facebook claimed the father was ”attacked” by the media and that their presence had been ”particularly invasive”.

”The father and the family understand that it will require patience to re-establish the harmony the girls once experienced in Italy, and reverse the painful stresses they have endured in the last two years,” the post said.

The girl eventually agreed to return to the house but it is understood she and her older sister were moved to their uncle’s home.

The girls’ maternal grandmother said yesterday she had contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade while her granddaughter was at the gates, but was told consular officials could not intervene in court proceedings or private legal matters.

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WHAT did the adventurer Francis Birtles get in 1929 when he became the first person to drive 21,000 kilometres from London to Melbourne in his Bean Sundowner car?
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He got a warning for obstructing traffic. ”He’d driven this amazing, phenomenal distance across the world,” said Birtles’s biographer, Warren Brown, a cartoonist and car enthusiast who has restored an identical four-cylinder Bean 14 horsepower car to the one driven by Birtles.

”When Birtles got to Melbourne, where there were tens of thousands of people waiting to see him, the coppers ran up and hopped on his car and said, ‘Move along, you are obstructing traffic’.”

They would not even allow a photo of Birtles and his battered Bean car, which he called the Sundowner, outside Melbourne’s GPO after the 9½ months’ journey.

Birtles had an Australian bushman’s spirit and confidence, setting off alone from London on a trip that many said couldn’t be done. Most people thought he was crazy, said Brown, who sees him as a brilliant but flawed explorer.

He was a man who nearly always had a mission, Brown said. In this case, he was hoping the Bean car would invigorate the British motor industry. It was this same fearlessness that led Birtles to traverse Australia more than 70 times by car and by bike.

”His true legacy was opening up the interior of Australia and demystifying it,” said Brown, whose biography of Birtles will be launched tomorrow.

Free tickets are available to a talk by Warren Brown on Birtles at the NSW State Library on October 18, 6pm to 7pm. Details: www.sl.nsw.gov.au/events/events_talks/events/Adventure_Extraordinaire.html

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SMS exchange reveals Slipper suspicion

September 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

Accused of “grooming” Peter Slipper, not the other way around … James Ashby.THE man who introduced Peter Slipper to his former aide and accuser James Ashby was told by the stood-aside Speaker he believed he was being spied on.
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The Herald has obtained 200 pages of court documents detailing every SMS sent between Mr Slipper and Mr Ashby, who is suing his former employer for sexual harassment over a nine-month period.

The text messages, which reveal a once close and ribald relationship between the politician and the former staffer, were filed by Mr Ashby’s legal team in the Federal Court on Friday but have not yet been made public.

Ryan Reynolds, who briefly worked in Mr Slipper’s office in 2011, took Mr Ashby with him to a cocktail function at Mr Slipper’s home in Buderim, on the Sunshine Coast, about the middle of last year, several months before the independent MP hired Mr Ashby as his media adviser in December.

The new evidence tendered to court by Mr Ashby’s defence team reveals that Mr Reynolds – Mr Ashby’s one-time school friend and former lover – visited Canberra in November last year and met Mr Slipper.

Mr Reynolds then advised Mr Ashby by text that Mr Slipper had asked him if he was gay and said he thought he was visiting him ”to spy on him” in order to feed information to the local media. Mr Slipper also inquired if he and Mr Ashby were ”still together”.

”Lol that’s Peter. He is very intrigued by the whole gay thing,” Mr Ashby replied in a text message after Mr Reynolds recounted the conversation. ”Wtf? That’s very bizarre to think about the spy thing!!!”

As part of his defence to Mr Ashby’s sexual harassment claim, Mr Slipper told the court last week that he believed Mr Ashby ”was placed” in his office or ”contrived a situation where he was able to come to my office” as part of an elaborate political conspiracy driven by the Liberal National Party as payback because he left the LNP to accept the Speaker’s position.

But Mr Ashby’s barrister, Michael Lee, SC, tendered to court 200 pages of documents as part of his client’s defence against claims by Mr Slipper that the aide was ”grooming” the Speaker, not the other way around.

The 200 pages of new evidence also reveal Mr Slipper asked his aide in December, ”Want to go to kings cross/taylor sq in syd?”

Mr Ashby told a friend he had been advised against taking the position in the Speaker’s office by the wife of Queensland cabinet minister Mark McArdle, Judy McArdle, who had worked in Mr Slipper’s office. In October last year, Mr Ashby suggested Mr Slipper aim for the speakership.

Mr Slipper appeared surprised at the suggestion, sending Mr Ashby a SMS that read: ”Range of options open … Where did you get the idea I could become Speaker?”

The documents also reveal Mr Slipper distrusted deeply the local media in his electorate as he believed his LNP rivals – including Mal Brough, who is the party’s preselected candidate in Mr Slipper’s seat of Fisher – were involved in a campaign to smear him.

The affidavit includes every text message – notated with the words ”read” or ”sent” accompanied by explanatory remarks by Mr Ashby’s legal team.

The hearing continues.

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A bran nue dae … hundreds of tourists and locals gathered at the Mutitjulu community concert to be entertained. Sweet celebration … Children at Mutitjulu near Uluru run to gather lollies dropped by a helicopter.
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THE last time so many vehicles converged on Mutitjulu, they carried an army of police, soldiers and bureaucrats, the advance party for the Howard government’s emergency takeover of indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. More than five years later, the Aboriginal community of 250 at the base of Uluru welcomed a happier convoy. Trucks brought sound and lighting gear, radio-broadcast equipment and portable toilets, while buses delivered hundreds of tourists from the hotels on the other side of the monolith.

In the days after the intervention was announced in 2007, families fled Mutitjulu, fearing their children would be taken from them. But this weekend, the community, which is normally closed, threw open its gates for a concert to mark the 30th anniversary of the Goanna land rights anthem Solid Rock.

Goanna frontman Shane Howard wrote the song after witnessing an inma (traditional dance) at Uluru on a camping trip in 1981.

The concert, part of an annual carnival, took two years to plan. Other artists participating included Archie Roach, Bart Willoughby, William Barton, Dan Sultan, Neil Murray, John Butler and Natalie Pa’apa’a.

Howard said Mutitjulu had been ”brutalised” by the intervention but wanted to share its culture and traditions with non-indigenous people.

”We’re making a good spirit here together,” he told the crowd. ”Blackfellas and whitefellas, all together. We’re showing Australia a new story. A way of being in this country, a proper way – giving a good example.”

That Mutitjulu faces steep challenges was denied by no one. ”We’re still losing far too many people,” the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation chairman, Sammy Wilson, told the crowd. He said community members sometimes felt they had been portrayed as ”animals” and it was important for them to tell a positive story.

The Herald travelled to Uluru as a guest of Tourism NT.

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“Going back to 2001 and 2002, terrorism wasn’t even an offence in most jurisdictions” … Tim Morris.Interactive: the first Bali bomb, 10 years on From the archives: how smh南京夜网.au covered the Bali bomb 10 years agoInteractive: Leave your tribute to those lost in Bali.
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TEN years ago, when bombs ripped through two nightclubs in Bali, Australia knew frighteningly little about the group behind the attack, the now-infamous Jemaah Islamiah, or JI.

”The knowledge and understanding of the intelligence community about JI prior to the 12th of October, 2002, was such that it would have fitted on an A4 piece of paper,” says former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty.

Not only was there a dearth of information regarding JI before the al-Qaeda attacks in 2001, the entire system of national security in Australia was underfunded and, many believed, undervalued.

In 2001, the country’s foremost security agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, attracted $69 million in government funding.

A decade later, not only had its funding had a precipitous rise to $438 million – an increase of 535 per cent – today its new, expansive and soon-to-be-occupied headquarters is one of the most instantly recognisable buildings in Canberra.

Sparked at first by the horrors of September 11, 2001, and then brought devastatingly home when JI detonated a combination of truck and suicide bombs, today Australia has one of the Western world’s most expansive national security regimes.

”Going back to 2001 and 2002, terrorism wasn’t even an offence in most jurisdictions,” said Tim Morris, the officer who led the investigation into the Bali bombings and who today runs the federal police’s intelligence network.

”If you don’t have an offence, you don’t have investigators investigating, you don’t have intelligence specialists developing knowledge. When you think we came from pretty much a standing start in 2001, 2002, to where we are today, it’s quite an achievement.”

Since 2001, 111 Australians – including 88 in Bali – have been killed in terrorist acts. In the same period, 36 people have been charged with terrorism offences and, according to ASIO, four potential terrorist attacks have been foiled.

Accompanying the successes, however, have been some well-publicised mistakes, such as the case of the Queensland doctor Mohamed Haneef. Dr Haneef was mistakenly charged with a terrorism-related offence and kept in solitary confinement for almost a month in 2007.

Ben Saul, an expert in anti-terrorism law at Sydney University, said that while most Australians accepted the need for increased powers and laws in the early 2000s, some laws enacted in the rush after Bali could no longer be justified.

He said the laws included compulsory questioning and detention powers by ASIO, preventive police detention, control orders and some elements of the ever-expanding surveillance and interception powers.

Professor Saul bases his judgment on the relative risk faced in Australia. ”If you look around the world, most other countries haven’t gone as far as Australia, despite facing more significant risks,” he said.

Most of those laws were introduced as part of the John Howard-era Anti-Terrorism Act, which passed Parliament in December 2005.

Despite some objections during opposition, this year the Labor government of Julia Gillard displayed its willingness to legislate in the area when it revealed a suite of more than 40 proposed legislative changes – the most significant expansion of national security powers since the 2005 laws were introduced.

The new proposals would further break down some of the most fundamental divisions between Australia’s six intelligence agencies.

For six decades, ASIO has been the only agency authorised to routinely collect intelligence on Australians. However, under the proposed changes, officers from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the Defence Signals Directorate would be allowed to monitor Australian citizens overseas if an ASIO officer was not available.

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Network cancels all ads on Jones show

August 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

No advertisers … Alan Jones.ALAN JONES’S radio show will be entirely free of advertising in response to the outcry over his comments about Julia Gillard’s father.
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His employer, the Macquarie Radio Network, has taken the unprecedented step of indefinitely suspending all advertising on Jones’s breakfast show on 2GB after a week of sustained pressure that has led to it losing more than 70 sponsors and advertisers.

The move is likely to cost the network more than $80,000 a day in forgone revenue, but its executive chairman, Russell Tate, said money would not determine how long Jones’s show was quarantined from advertising.

“The decision obviously comes at a very significant short-term cost to MRN,” Mr Tate said. “At this stage we don’t know [how long it will be]. The breaking point will not be determined by financial costs.”

The move is a response to a sustained campaign via social media and email targeting businesses that support the program. The campaign was prompted by outrage over Jones’s comment to a Young Liberals function last month that Ms Gillard’s father had “died of shame” over her “lies”. The outrage was only exacerbated by the apology Jones offered last Sunday in which he spent most of more than 40 minutes berating the Prime Minister and her government.

Last Monday, a trickle of businesses withdrew their advertising from either Jones’s program or 2GB. By the middle of the week big advertisers were flooding out, leaving Jones with only small local advertisers.

The total suspension of advertising on Jones’s program will probably have the effect of quarantining the rest of 2GB’s line-up from the effects of the campaign. Many advertisements are booked across the network as a whole, so the only way to guarantee they will not appear on his show is to withdraw from the network entirely.

Mr Tate said clients had been inundated with correspondence from protesters. “One client received 6000 emails in a day,” he said. ”It’s causing a significant interruption in our clients’ businesses, so we’ve called time out.”

He said the company had not discussed removing Jones, who is a part owner of the station via a complicated options structure.

One-third of Jones’s options – 1.333 million both issued and redeemable at no cost to him – are redeemable at the end of this month, dependent on his show having increased revenue by 5 per cent year on year.

The final tranche is due next year on the same proviso – a target that may now be beyond him.

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Carbon tax not all it was cooked up to be

August 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

ONE hundred days after the government introduced a carbon price, power bill increases are the one visible impact.
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The other dire predictions, from Senator Barnaby Joyce’s $100 roasts to the assertion by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, that the South Australian steel town of Whyalla would be ”wiped off the map”, are stubbornly refusing to come true.

The prices of beef and lamb have fallen since June, according to Meat and Livestock Australia. Last week a 1.7-kilogram leg of lamb from Woolworths online was going for just over $18.

Meanwhile, Whyalla’s main employer, Arrium – previously OneSteel – has been the target of an Asian takeover bid, a vote of confidence in the steel industry. The independent mayor, Jim Pollock, says the town is ”kicking goals”.

Across the country, the economic data is solid. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index rose from 95.6 in June to 98.2 in September. Unemployment has fallen from 5.3 per cent in June to 5.1 per cent in August – 2900 more Australians are employed now than before the carbon tax.

Finance firm TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute said last week they had ”still not noticed any broad-based impact of the July 1 introduction of carbon pricing spilling over into prices”.

But power bills are up. John Watson, the owner of the Copper Lantern Motel in Melbourne, expected his bills to rise about 10 per cent under the carbon price – the amount the government forecast for households.

Last month, he discovered it was considerably more. His provider has put a 2¢ carbon charge per kilowatt hour on top of the electricity cost. Because he is on a bargain tariff and his guests consume a lot of cheap, off-peak electricity, the carbon charge has added about 24 per cent to Mr Watson’s latest bill.

But power price rises are not always a bleak story. Another small business owner in the electorate of Flinders, Michael Carroll, who runs an injection moulding firm on the Mornington Peninsula, had a better result.

Initially told he faced a 47 per cent rise, he shopped around using a price comparison website. A different retailer offered him a favourable deal – his present rate locked in for three years. Though he is still wary about the carbon price, describing it as ”another nail in the coffin” for the manufacturing sector, he says he is ”a bit more confident” about his power costs.

Bill Lang, head of Small Business Australia, and Innes Willox, head of the Australian Industry Group, both say it will take a few power bill cycles for companies to figure out what to pass on to their customers.

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U-turn on $1b methanol expansion plan

August 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

A CHEMICALS firm which announced last year it was shelving a $1 billion expansion because of the carbon price, bolstering Coalition claims the scheme would kill investment, now says it is pushing ahead with the plans.
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Coogee Chemicals, which has a methanol plant in the Lalor electorate of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, maintains the carbon price is still a drag on its business but that changes to the scheme, such as scrapping the $15 ”floor” price, makes an expansion viable after all.

The revelation comes 100 days after the carbon price began on July 1, forcing about 300 large companies and councils to pay $23 for each tonne of carbon they emit. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has vowed to scrap the scheme.

Grant Lukey, the manager at Coogee’s existing Laverton methanol plant, told the Herald: “We are continuing to progress a project related to a world-scale methanol project. The project is ongoing, but the carbon tax hasn’t made it any easier in getting it up.”

In November last year, with the Senate poised to pass the controversial carbon price legislation, the Coogee Chemicals chairman, Gordon Martin, said a planned $1 billion expansion to its methanol operation had become “uncompetitive and unviable” because of the Gillard government’s scheme.

Mr Martin is also a member of the Coalition’s business advisory council on climate change.

Dr Lukey said the company stood by the previous remarks. The scrapping of the floor price and greater certainty around industry compensation had lifted the prospects for going ahead with the expansion, which could create 150 jobs and $14 billion in exports.

”The project that was envisaged back then was killed off … but that doesn’t mean you can’t revisit the project under the new economic scenario … and that’s what’s happened,” he said.

”The legislation has changed. That’s a big part. There have been some fundamental shifts in the legislation.”

The carbon floor price would have set a minimum price of $15 a tonne from 2015, when the scheme shifts from an effective tax to an emissions trading scheme with a price set by the market. Removing it is likely to make the scheme cheaper for the 300 businesses and councils paying the carbon price, at least in the early years of the scheme.

Dr Lukey said that the previous investors had walked away from the methanol expansion and invested instead in Chinese projects, though he declined on commercial confidentiality grounds to say which ones. These coal-based plants in China were more greenhouse-intensive than the natural gas method used by Coogee, he said.

The company was now looking at “a similar project … but it will be different individuals involved”.

There were several potential sites being considered for the expansion, he said, while stressing the carbon price still made the project more difficult than it would have otherwise been.

Methanol, a clear liquid, is used in the manufacture of particle board for building, paint, plastic bottles, rubber and a range of other basic products.

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