Monthly Archives:August 2019

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.

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苏州美甲美睫培训.au covered the Bali bomb 10 years agoInteractive: Leave your tribute to those lost in Bali.

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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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.

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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ONE hundred days after the government introduced a carbon price, power bill increases are the one visible impact.

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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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.

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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