Closed

J is for jihad

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

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.

Closed

Running with scissors

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

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.

Closed

Taxpayers taken on a long car ride

March 29th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

THE first thing to notice about Australia’s three car makers is how jealously they guard their accounts.
Nanjing Night Net

It’s no wonder. Notwithstanding some $3 billion in government handouts in the past 10 years, you won’t find the financial statements for Ford, Holden and Toyota on the company websites.

You won’t find them at all unless you pay a tidy fee to the corporate regulator for access to these supposedly public documents.

Even cutting through the car makers’ public relations and ”communications” thickets to ask a basic question is tough.

It’s the same deal with government. The Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education did not even bother returning calls last week.

The department is paranoid, mired in a court battle with The Australian Financial Review over some emails sent mistakenly after a freedom of information request. Holden has joined the government’s case against the newspaper.

The fact is, the government should not be hiding this stuff, nor chewing through taxpayer dollars trying to suppress information in the courts, information which should be public.

It’s in the public interest for people to know what deals are being struck with their tax dollars, especially if they are propping up purportedly unprofitable businesses.

In a self-interested aside, it is not as if we battlers here in the traditional media business – a sector in worse financial shape but whose survival is arguably more critical to the nation – have our hands out for taxpayer dollars.

Greater transparency is clearly warranted in the light of the findings of this BusinessDay investigation of the Holden, Ford and Toyota accounts.

Once again, in a pattern replicated year in, year out, as much profit as appears possible has been sent offshore.

The car industry, it seems, has been taking the taxpayer for a ride, an epic ride. And now it has hit a bump. That bump takes the form of a challenge to the sweetheart deals between the car makers and the government.

In a nutshell, this is the debate: the Fin Review has been running its doctrinaire and increasingly determined anti-protectionist line. The government has countered by talking up the benefit of a heavy manufacturing base and protecting thousands of jobs.

Holden chief Mike Devereux weighed in last week, telling the Murdoch press the benefit of this latest round of ”co-investment” – a euphemism for government subsidy – was a ”multiplier effect”.

That is, beyond the direct investment by General Motors and the government, there is job creation and rising demand for other goods and services. Devereux puts the value of this latest $1 billion ”co-investment” at $4 billion.

The car makers have been less enthusiastic when it comes to multiplier effects elsewhere, even hypocritical some may contend, by objecting to the government’s move to protect steel makers against cheap imports.

For their part, the anti-protection crusaders see dark forces at work, shadowy deals between the unions and the Labor government. They point to a $53 million bailout for Ford in January that shortly preceded Ford’s commitment to 3 per cent wage rises for the next three years.

Holden, they say, struck a similar agreement last year.

The reality is that cosy deals have carried on for decades, and have sprung from governments of both hues. In the past 10 years, more has been forked out in subsidies than has been recorded in bottom-line profits.

Herein lies the rub. To what extent are the accounts of the car makers financially engineered to shift profits offshore?

The sheer size of the ”cost of sales” line in the accounts of the three car makers and the alarmingly high proportion of related party transactions in these figures leads to the inescapable conclusion that the companies’ offshore parents are benefiting at the expense of their local subsidiaries.

Whether this accounting charade is reason enough to jettison every last protection initiative and throw the car makers to the laissez-faire wolves is another matter. We defer to others on the old multiplier effect.

Suffice to say that the fervent cries of the anti-protection brigade do not extend to indignation about the free ride that has been afforded the big banks, to nominate another mollycoddled sector.

Above all, there is undeniable public interest in having this all out in the plain light of day.

No suppression of information, and far greater transparency on the part of government and the manufacturers has to be a good thing.

Joining the dots in the Holden accounts, it would appear that the Tax Office became a little fed up with the some of the aggressive tax minimisation tactics a few years ago.

There has been an unravelling of deferred tax assets, which explains a small tax benefit last year although there was also a profit.

The ATO has reduced GM’s entitlement to royalties paid by $51 million in 2005, $46 million in 2006, $43 million in 2007 and $37 million in 2008.

It then increased taxable income by up to $22 million in the same years.

From a global perspective the auto bosses in the US and Japan would be loath to see a lurk like this come to an end, one in which foreign governments help to fund demand for their spare parts.

With SU-LIN TAN

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

Closed

JUST last month former QBE boss Frank O’Halloran was pressing the flesh at the AFL grand final on behalf of the insurance group as the team the company has sponsored for 25 years, the Sydney Swans, took home the cup in a nail-biter.
Nanjing Night Net

By the end of this month, he’ll be helping to run a competitor as chairman of Steadfast Group, which is basically a buyers’ group for insurance brokers, as it prepares for a listing on the ASX.

Not bad after leaving QBE with shares and benefits worth up to $37 million in August.

What’s more, QBE seems fairly relaxed about the move, giving O’Halloran an early release from a non-compete agreement that could have kyboshed the deal.

Because QBE underwrites about 17 per cent of Steadfast’s business, plans for O’Halloran to rejoin the QBE board next year as a non-executive director have been ditched.

CBD ventures to suggest new QBE CEO John Neal might find life a little easier without the man who used a series of ambitious acquisitions to build the company into what it is today looking over his shoulder.

Indeed, the company seems to have been so relaxed about the move it didn’t get around to putting out an announcement until after 5pm on Friday.

A QBE spokesman insists the timing wasn’t the company’s choice, but rather due to the National Insurance Brokers Association shindig over the weekend, at which QBE won general insurer of the year.

While Steadfast is happy to have O’Halloran, and QBE is happy to let him go, there is one drawback to the otherwise satisfactory arrangement.

O’Halloran won’t be lending his skills at any more company functions, including an upcoming overseas trip QBE has organised for analysts.

CBD doesn’t know where the tour is going, but suggests Bermuda, where QBE has recently expanded the operations of its captive reinsurer, Equator Re, moving eight people from its Dublin office.

For his part, it is understood O’Halloran jetted out for South America yesterday morning.

‘Big’ Jim’s hiring

IT SOUNDS like a great job, even if the grammar and spelling is a little shaky. Corporate development manager for a small, private, Swiss investment firm that’s on the prowl for underperforming Australian minnows it can snap up and turn around.

Sure, there’s some random capitalisation in the ad and ”implement” is spelt ”impalement”, which sounds a bit uncomfortable, but hey, with a name like Swissco Asia Pacific Investment Fund, English is not going to be their first language, right?

So, why is it that the phone number of twice-banned, baseball-bat-wielding, former used car salesman ”Big” Jim Byrnes appears at the bottom of the ad Swissco placed on Seek南京夜网.au on Friday?

CBD recognised the number because it’s the same one used to sell the ”0” number plates that used to adorn the Sydney property developer and former bankrupt’s Mercedes.

”Big” Jim told CBD he was ”just an employee” and ”not in a position to disclose anything. I’m not in a position legally to disclose where the funds come from.”

However, Switzerland’s freely available corporate database shows the company, originally named Rollercom, was set up in late 2010 by a Dr Martin Grossmann as an insurance and finance outfit and changed its purpose to investment in the Asia Pacific region in August.

CBD hopes Jim’s latest Swiss connection fares better than his last effort, ALF Group Holdings.

The company, formerly in the knickers trade under the moniker Can Can Lingerie Holding, was connected to his litigation funder Australian Litigation Funders.

Can Can couldn’t couldn’t, was de-listed by the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in June and went into liquidation by order of a Swiss court the following month.

Company documents show that Jim, his wife Catherine and business associate Michael Pakula were directors when the ship went down, although Jim told CBD that his family had bought the Australian assets back before that happened.

The documents also show one of ALF’s previous directors was Dr Martin Grossmann, of Zurich.

Clearly relations between Jim and the doctor are still good.

”They were the ones who sought me out, not the other way around,” he said.

The Village elders

WITH Australia’s population rapidly ageing, the push is on to keep older workers on the job for longer.

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released a paper chock full of proposals that remove the barriers to keeping a rapidly graying workforce at the coalface – things like lifting the retirement age for judges and soldiers, allowing over-75s to top up their super, and encouraging employers to take on older workers.

None of those things would seem to be needed at cinema and theme park operator Village Roadshow, at least at executive and board level.

The company has just extended chief executive Graham Burke’s contract through to 2017, by which time he will be a sprightly 75.

As a mark of gratitude for his ”outstanding contribution to the company over many years”, Burke is also to be granted 4.5 million Village Roadshow shares, at a cost of about $2.7 million.

The decision was made by an equally youthful board whose average age is 65.2.

It would be older but for a couple of teenagers, in the shape of 46-year-old Timothy Antonie, who also sits on the board of Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, and 50-year-old Julie Raffe, dragging the average towards the cradle.

Luckily Austereo Group executive chairman Peter Harvie, 73, and Hollywood veteran Barry Reardon, 81, are there to bring a bit of wisdom to bear.

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

Closed

Consider offering a commission package where your employees get a cut of the jobs they book.Q: MY BIGGEST challenge is staffing. I can’t afford to have someone on board full-time but need someone who can stay with the business about 30 hours a week. This condition doesn’t attract many removalists, so I have to get involved in a lot of jobs myself. Hence I lose some of our future business as I am too busy in the labour side of the job. Have you any advice on where a small business is trying to grow their business but has not enough jobs to cover necessary costs?
Nanjing Night Net

A: THIRTY hours a week is close to full time, and it will likely take up enough of a person’s week to impede them from getting a second job. I’d suggest that if you are offering work that is flexible, you might want to consider getting some university students or recent graduates to help out. They are often happy to get some experience in the working world and can do jobs in between classes. But getting a student to commit to 30 hours a week during exam time and school holidays could prove difficult.

If you’re keen on getting people with experience on board, I’d consider offering a commission package where your employees get a cut of the jobs they book. That way you’ll start bringing in more business that will enable you to grow and give you the ability to offer full-time work to the most qualified candidates.

Q: WHAT are the best ways to defend the first-mover advantage that I might have when I launch a new e-product online? The idea behind the product is very simple, and while its application and market will potentially be extremely broad (and hopefully quite profitable), the barrier to entry for any potential competitors is extremely low. People will be able to copy the idea and create their own products very easily, meaning we will have first-mover advantage for a very short period. While I accept that reality, I’d like to make the most of the opportunity while it’s there. Are there any generic defence strategies you can recommend without knowing the details of the product?

A: IT’S tough to give you concrete advice without knowing what the product is, but here are some ideas. First I’d look into obtaining a patent. There are patent lawyers who specialise in this and they can tell you what elements of your product you might be able to get a patent on, which could help protect you from copycat competitors.

If that is not possible, you might look into copyrighting part of the product or the business process to give you some level of defence.

If neither of these is possible and if your e-product will open up a unique new category, you might want to try creating a unique name for your product with the goal of effectively inventing the name of the category in and of itself.

As an example, how many times have you left someone a “Post-It” or have had to “Hoover” the lounge room. These brand names have become common phrases to refer to a product category. If you have something unique, creating a bespoke product name is a good way to make it stick with consumers.

I’m not sure if you have current competitors, but if you think copycat products will follow very quickly, you might want to think about ways to work with category rivals instead of against them.

Can you license out part of the product or service? A lot of ”inventors” get precious about their product, but if you know your idea is going to be copied, you’re better off finding ways to work with your competitors instead of against them. Good luck.

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of wealth management company Yellow Brick Road. His advice here is intended as guidance only.

Email questions for Mark Bouris to Larissa Ham at [email protected]南京夜网.au

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

Closed

Jones’ show to air ad-free

March 29th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Ad-free: radio personality Alan Jones.ALAN Jones is joining the ABC – in that he is offering a radio show entirely free of advertising.
Nanjing Night Net

Jones’ employer, the Macquarie Radio Network, has taken the unprecedented step of indefinitely suspending all advertising on his 2GB breakfast show after a week of sustained pressure following his comments about the death of Julia Gillard’s father.

The show lost more than 70 sponsors and advertisers and the suspension will likely cost the network more than $80,000 a day in lost revenue. MRN executive chairman Russell Tate said money would not determine how long Jones’ show would be without advertising.

”The decision obviously comes at a very significant short-term cost to MRN,” Mr Tate said. ” The breaking point will not be determined by financial costs.”

The move comes in response to a sustained campaign via social media and email targeting businesses that support the Jones program, prompted by outrage over Jones’ comment to a Young Liberals function last month that the Prime Minister’s father had ”died of shame” over her ”lies”.

That outrage was only exacerbated by a fudged apology Jones offered last Sunday, in which he spent the majority of a 40-plus minute news conference berating Ms Gillard and her government.

Last Monday, a trickle of businesses announced they were withdrawing their advertising from 2GB. By the middle of last week it was a flood, leaving Jones with only with a loyal core of local advertisers.

Yesterday’s suspension of advertising will likely quarantine the rest of 2GB’s line-up from the effects of the social media campaign. Many ads are booked across the network as a whole, so the only way to guarantee they won’t appear on the Jones show is to withdraw from the network entirely.

Mr Tate said the station’s 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.”

Mr Tate 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’ options – 1.3 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 Jones.

Last week, branding experts told Fairfax it was likely that many advertisers would return within a month or so of pulling their ads.

It was even likely, said some, that MRN would suffer no lasting financial damage, as many major advertisers were on 12-month contracts that would be still be fulfilled once the scandal had died down.

However, the organisers of the anti-Jones campaign, which has attracted more than 108,000 supporters on change南京夜网 and spawned a host of Facebook pages and twitter streams – have vowed to continue their fight.

The comments by Mr Tate were ”a distraction”, campaign founder Nic Lochner said.

”They don’t address the two issues at play here – that Alan Jones is a serial offender when it comes to hate speech, and that the response from the Australian public has been a genuine groundswell of disgust to this appalling kind of behaviour.

”Mr Tate has said nothing that indicates Macquarie is going to take any action to address the pattern of hate and vitriol that has been a feature of Alan Jones’ program.”

MRN has taken the threat of an ongoing campaign seriously enough to host on its website a questionnaire asking regular listeners: ”During the last week, has your opinion of 2GB changed?” and ”During the last week, has your attitude towards companies that advertise on The Alan Jones Breakfast Show changed?”

The response, Mr Tate claimed in a lengthy statement issued yesterday, was overwhelmingly in the negative.

Though many listeners had shared the outrage over Jones’ initial comments, Mr Tate claimed: “The great majority acknowledge his apology and have not significantly changed their attitude.”

Nor, he added, did they appear to think any less of his advertisers.

”Since we now know these things to be fact, we have to conclude that the avalanche of telephone, email and Facebook demands to our advertisers to ‘boycott’ the Alan Jones Breakfast Show, and the threats to destroy their businesses if they don’t comply, are coming almost entirely from people who do not listen to Alan Jones or 2GB at all – probably never have done and never will,” he continued.

Attempting to frame the issue as a free-speech matter, Mr Tate accused campaigners of ”21st century censorship, via cyber-bullying”.

The revenue lost due to the suspension of advertising on the Jones show was ”an insignificant price to pay for our audience to be able to listen to what they choose to listen to, and for Australian companies to advertise where they choose to advertise,” Mr Tate said.

Campaigners saw it differently. ”This is not about cyber-bullying. It is about customers exercising their right to call companies to account about the kind of behaviour they want to see in Australian society,” Mr Lochner said.

”This campaign has been about calling for civility and decency in public debate.”

With JONATHAN SWAN

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

Closed

Young slow on online protection

March 29th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Younger people are least likely to protect themselves online, according to new research.AUSTRALIANS overall are second only to Singaporeans in their concern for online privacy in the Asia-Pacific region, a study says.
Nanjing Night Net

Click here to see previous The Privacy Question articles.

But younger people are least likely to protect themselves online, according to market research firm IBI Partners’ study – Online consumer behaviour throughout the Asia Pacific.

The study – which interviewed more than 20,000 people in 12 countries – found only 39 per cent of Australians aged between 18 and 30 took active measures to prevent online security breaches.

David Gorodyansky, the chief executive of AnchorFree – a US company that sells software to encrypt users’ online data in public wifi zones – said many still took online communication for granted.

”If you walk into my house you’ll know a lot less about me than if you look in my browsing data,” he said. ”People have a lock on their door at home but they don’t have a lock on their door online.”

Mr Gorodyansky said it was easier to compromise online data as more of it – and the technologies used to hack it – was accessible, with more people using the internet to communicate in daily life as a matter of course.

”If you go around to every Starbucks, or airport you can see everything people do on their wifi networks. Their bank accounts, their browsers, their email passwords – everything they’re doing. Firefox extension Firesheep, which demonstrates internet hijacking, takes five minutes to install and it’s open-source and it’s free.

”So I think the bad guys are advancing a lot faster than consumers are reacting.”

David Freer, the Asia-Pacific vice-president of anti-virus company Norton by Symantec, agreed, saying people were too comfortable sharing and storing their passwords and banking details on their mobile phone, which could be stolen or lost, and social media networks, which could be interfered with.

He said Norton research this year showed 40 per cent of Australian mobile phone owners did not have passwords on their phones.

Mr Freer said the perception of anonymity had made mobile phones and social media networks the newest risk areas for privacy breaches. 

The Age has launched a series on privacy and wants to hear from you.

 Email [email protected]南京夜网.au, visit us on Facebook at facebook南京夜网.au/theprivacyquestion or use the Twitter hashtag #ageprivacy.

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

Closed

Assange set to sue PM

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

JULIAN Assange has hired lawyers to find a way of suing Prime Minister Julia Gillard for defamation over the claim that WikiLeaks acted illegally in releasing a quarter of a million US diplomatic cables.
Nanjing Night Net

In an interview from Ecuador’s embassy in London, Assange said Ms Gillard’s comment, made in late 2010, influenced MasterCard Australia to join an online financial blockade of the organisation.

Since November 2010, WikiLeaks has released more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

The White House and the Gillard government denounced the release.

”I absolutely condemn the placement of this information on the WikiLeaks website,” Ms Gillard said several days after WikiLeaks began releasing the cables.

”It’s a grossly irresponsible thing to do, and an illegal thing to do.”

Australian activist group GetUp! recently interviewed Assange in his makeshift home inside Ecuador’s embassy. He has been sheltering at the embassy since June 19 as part of a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

Assange said he would be vulnerable to arrest in Sweden by the United States Justice Department, which is examining the possibility of charging people associated with WikiLeaks with espionage over the online publication of the classified cables.

He told GetUp! that WikiLeaks’ work had been stymied by Ms Gillard’s comments.

”MasterCard Australia, in justifying why it has made a blockade preventing any Australian MasterCard holder from donating to WikiLeaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard as justification,” he said.

”So the effects of the statement are ongoing and they directly affect the financial viability of WikiLeaks. We are considering suing for defamation. So I have hired lawyers in Sydney and they are investigating the different ways in which we can sue Gillard over that statement.”

Assange said the comments were particularly damaging because they ”licensed” other forms of attack on him and WikiLeaks.

During the interview, he also spoke of the impact of the past two years on his family, saying his children – a boy and a girl, of whom no details are known- have had to move homes and change their names.

The Age reported last month that declassified US counter-espionage reports revealed the US military considers Assange and WikiLeaks to be enemies of the United States under the terms of American military law.

GetUp! national director Sam McLean said the interview was the first step in a campaign calling on the Australian government to seek a commitment from American authorities that they will not attempt to extradite Assange over WikiLeaks.

”For too long the Prime Minister and the foreign ministers have put the interests of the US government ahead of Australian citizens. That is not good enough,” Mr McLean said.

”Our government must demand a binding agreement from the US that they will not seek the extradition of this Australian citizen for his work as a journalist and publisher.”

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

Closed

Slipper believed he was spied upon

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Peter Slipper arrives at the Federal Court in Sydney.
Nanjing Night Net

THE man who introduced Peter Slipper to former aide and accuser James Ashby was told by the stood-aside Speaker that he believed he was being spied on.

The Age has obtained 200 pages of court documents detailing every SMS sent between Mr Slipper and Mr Ashby – who is suing the Speaker and former employer for sexual harassment – over a nine-month period.

The text messages – which reveal a one-time 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 are not public.

Rhys Reynolds, who briefly worked in Mr Slipper’s office in 2011, took Mr Ashby with him to a cocktail function at Mr Slipper’s Buderim home 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 Mr Reynolds – Mr Ashby’s one-time school friend – visited Canberra in November last year and met with Mr Slipper.

Mr Reynolds then advised Mr Ashby by text that Mr Slipper had asked if Mr Reynolds was gay and that he thought he was visiting him ”to spy on him” in order to feed information to the local Sunshine Coast media. Mr Slipper also inquired as to whether Mr Reynolds was homosexual and 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 Federal Court this week he believes 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 for leaving the LNP to accept the Speaker’s position in November last year.

But Mr Ashby’s barrister, Michael Lee, SC, tendered to court 200 pages of documents as part of his client’s defence against claims made 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, who had worked in Mr Slipper’s office previously. In October last year, Mr Ashby suggested Mr Slipper aim for the speakership. Mr Slipper appeared surprised at the suggestion, sending Mr Ashby an SMS that read: ”Range of options open … Where did you get the idea I could become Speaker?”

The documents also reveal Mr Slipper distrusted the local media in his electorate as he believed his LNP rivals – including Mal Brough, now the preselected candidate in the seat of Fisher – were involved in a co-ordinated campaign to smear his reputation.

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

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

Closed

Washer calls for wheat bill deal

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

West Australian Liberal backbencher Mal Washer.WEST Australian Liberal backbencher Mal Washer has condemned the ”agrarian socialists” in the Nationals for making life difficult for the Liberals on the controversial issue of wheat deregulation.
Nanjing Night Net

As the Coalition deals with its internal fracture over the government’s bill to complete deregulation of the export industry, due to be debated this week, Dr Washer said: ”I would have thought the Liberal Party would have supported more deregulation. But we are dealing with agrarian socialists”.

He hoped for a compromise before there was a vote on the bill. Most wheat farmers in WA wanted deregulation, he said.

The Coalition is committed to opposing the bill, saying there should be a transition to deregulation, but WA Liberals are unhappy about this. If the bill passes the lower house, WA Liberal senator Dean Smith said he would cross the floor to support it in the Senate.

But the Nationals are split too. WA National Tony Crook said he, too, would cross the floor to support it. The eastern states’ Liberals are also divided – New South Wales Liberal Alby Schultz plans to abstain.

Dr Washer said he would consider crossing the floor only if there was a majority in both houses in favour of the bill. Its fate will depend on the crossbenchers in the lower house, who have different positions.

Former Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey, who lost his seat to Mr Crook in 2010, yesterday called for Tony Abbott to give Liberals a free vote. A strong backer of deregulation when he was in Parliament, Mr Tuckey said: ”In political terms, do you feed a boil, or do you lance it?”

WA Liberal senator Alan Eggleston called for a compromise – federal deregulation but state control for those who wanted regulation.

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

JOHN Watson, owner of the Copper Lantern Motel in Rosebud, expected his power bills to rise by about 10 per cent under the carbon price, which was the amount forecast by the government for household increases.
Nanjing Night Net

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

”That’s $320 a month I no longer have, and it’s meant I’ve had to cut the hours of my casual cleaner,” he said after expressing his frustration in writing to his local MP, the federal Coalition’s Greg Hunt.

One hundred days since the Gillard government introduced its carbon price, power bill rises are a visible and indubitable impact.

As for the rest of the dire predictions, from Barnaby Joyce’s $100 roasts to Tony Abbott’s forecast that the steel town of Whyalla would be ”wiped off the map” – they are refusing to come true.

The prices of beef and lamb have fallen since June, according to Meat & Livestock Australia. A 1.7-kilogram leg of lamb from Woolworths online was last week 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 Australia’s steel industry. The town, according to independent mayor Jim Pollock, is ”kicking goals”.

Countrywide, the economic data is solid. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index climbed from 95.6 points in June to 98.2 in September. Unemployment has fallen from 5.3 per cent in June to 5.1 per cent in August. There are 2900 more Australians employed now than there were before the carbon price.

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

Even the power price rises aren’t always so bad. Another small business owner in Mr Hunt’s electorate, Michael Carroll, who runs an injection moulding firm on the Mornington Peninsula, got a better result.

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 current rate locked in for three years. Though he is still wary, describing the carbon price as ”another nail in the coffin” for the manufacturing sector, he says he’s ”feeling a bit more confident” about his own power costs.

The Gillard government is growing in its confidence that the electoral albatross around its neck just might shrink to a bearable weight.

But is it crowing too early when it says the hip-pocket pain Tony Abbott forecast has proved a mirage? There are probably still some price rises to come. 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 be able to figure out what to pass on to their customers.

Mr Willox acknowledges many businesses ”had expectations they would be impacted harder than perhaps they have been”. But he adds: ”People are still feeling their way.”

That said, Michael Chua of the Melbourne Institute said he would have expected to see more price rises by now.

”We are into the third month of the carbon price. We should see this happening already.”

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

Shutdown … instead of a second harbour crossing, the Infrastructure NSW strategy recommends upgrading track, stations and signalling.TRAIN services into central Sydney would be shut for months and restricted for years under plans by Infrastructure NSW to avoid building a second rail crossing over Sydney Harbour.
Nanjing Night Net

That is according to analysis by Transport for NSW which, for half a decade, has been trying to avoid the cost of the crossing estimated at $10 billion.

The shutdown, which would affect the daily commute of tens of thousands of workers, would be needed under plans to upgrade stations in the central business district and track infrastructure. The objective would be to run up to 30 single-deck trains an hour instead of the 20 double-deckers it can run now.

The department and the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, rejected this idea only in May after deciding the disruption would not be worth the benefit.

Train commuters to the CBD would need to be dropped off on either side of the city – at Redfern, Chatswood or North Sydney – and taken by bus to the city. A limited service would remain for years.

The idea was revived last week as part of Infrastructure NSW’s 20-year strategy. Infrastructure NSW, set up as an independent adviser to the government, disputes the analysis. It says its job is to challenge a bias in Transport for NSW towards new infrastructure such as another harbour crossing.

”The general focus of the NSW transport bureaucracy over a very long time has been about building stuff,” the chairman of Infrastructure NSW, Nick Greiner, said last week. He wants to eke more out of the existing network. ”No matter where you come out you cannot believe that the existing thing is run anywhere near capacity,” he said.

Mr Greiner’s plan rejected the idea of adding to the city’s train system in the next two decades, beyond the north-west and south-west rail links.

Instead of a second harbour crossing, which Transport for NSW now says is necessary, the strategy recommends spending $5 billion in the next 20 years upgrading track, stations and signalling between the city and the lower north shore to allow more single-deck trains to cross the Harbour Bridge. It says the work could be carried out largely while trains were still running.

But the proposal echoes those being developed within Transport for NSW since at least 2008, which it has ruled out because of the disruption they would cause.

Analysis the Herald has obtained shows Transport for NSW concluded that for about ”four years there will be significant changes to the network operation in the CBD, with major disruption to operations, including no City Circle services from Central to Wynyard for three to four years (option dependent)”.

In fact, the disruption could be more intensive under the proposal by Infrastructure NSW.

The Transport for NSW proposal assumed the construction of a ”city relief line” or extra tracks between Redfern and Wynyard. These would help mitigate the impact on services while the existing tracks were overhauled and rerouted. But Infrastructure NSW proposes no spending on new CBD tracks for the next 20 years.

Switching to single-deck trains may sound simple but getting any extra capacity out of smaller trains with more doors would require rebuilding Wynyard and Town Hall station platforms.

It would also require closing lines so the complicated criss-cross of tracks between Redfern and Central could be rebuilt. Infrastructure NSW acknowledges that ”junction remodelling” would be needed to link the inner west and north shore lines south of Central.

Internal Transport for NSW documents say the work would cause a big disruption on all lines for three to four years.

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