Monthly Archives: November 2018

Keneally leaves door open to filling Dastyari’s senate seat

Labor’s star candidate for the NSW seat of Bennelong, Kristina Keneally, has repeatedly ducked questions about whether she would take Sam Dastyari’s Senate seat if she loses Saturday’s byelection.

A Fairfax Media-ReachTEL published on Thursday revealed Ms Keneally trails Liberal candidate and former MP John Alexander in the all-important two-party preferred vote 47 per cent to 53 per cent.

Mr Alexander’s primary vote has dipped slightly, from 41.6 per cent on November 17 to 40.4 per cent on December 12, while Ms Keneally’s has climbed from 34.5 per cent to 35.7 per cent; just 2.4 per cent of voters now say they are undecided, a drop from 8.3 per cent.

If Ms Keneally were to defy expectations and win Bennelong for Labor, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would lose his majority in the Parliament, placing his government in a more precarious position.

In addition, Labor and the crossbench would have the numbers to team up and refer government MPs to the High Court, as they attempted to do in the last sitting week of the year.

But in an interview on Sky News, the network she worked for until recently, Ms Keneally was asked three times if she was prepared to rule out taking the NSW senate seat that will soon be vacated by Senator Dastyari, who resigned following revelations in Fairfax Media over his links to Chinese Communist Party-linked political donor Huang Xiangmo.

She repeatedly declined to do so to rule out the move. Labor insiders in NSW believe she is the front runner to take the seat if she wants it, though a number of candidates such as United Voice union leader Tara Moriarty and the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove have also been mentioned as possible candidates.

“I’m only here to fight for Bennelong, that is all I’m doing, the only job I have been offered is the opportunity to be Labor’s candidate for Bennelong,” she said.

“And as I’ve said before, I’ve been offered Senate seats before and turned them down. This is all I’m focused on, Bennelong, no one has offered me the job and I haven’t had any conversations about it.”

“You can ask me any way you want, I’m not ruling anything in or out after the polls come in on Saturday night. I gave up my my job at Macquarie university to run for this position, I’ve gone on leave without pay at Sky News, I’m not even contemplating what happens after this byelection.”

The battle for Bennelong has become a bare-knuckle fight, with the major parties trading blows and making claims and counter-claims about health care funding cuts, damage being done to the China-Australia relationship by proposed foreign interference laws and Ms Keneally’s links to disgraced Labor figures such as Eddie Obeid.

Ms Keneally claimed voters in the seat, which has large Chinese-Australian population, were alarmed by the Prime Minister’s rhetoric about China and suggested it was “not conducive to a harmonious Australia”.

He had, she added, “decided to score political points in this Bennelong byelection, to put at risk the good harmony that exists here in Bennelong, to put at risk our economic trading relationships with China, to put at risk the important flow of students that come to our universities” with his political attacks on Labor and on Senator Dastyari.

Mr Turnbull dismissed Labor’s claims of his “China-phobia” as “desperate and absurd”.

“To suggest that somebody whose granddaughter is one of those one million Australians of Chinese ancestry, is anything other than a friend of Chinese people is absurd, completely absurd,” the Prime Minister said earlier this week.

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

It’s pedal to the metal

Holiday mood: Justin Hales with his dog Storm in a retro camper. Picture: Simone De Peak

Your startup Camplify, which links caravan owners to caravan renters, now has the biggest rental fleet of caravans and camper trailers and motorhomes in Australia. How big a lead do you have over your competitors?

The closest rental fleet to us in Apollo Toursim and Leisure with approximately 1700 RVs on the road. In terms of a direct competitor it, the closest is at approximately 300 RVs. So we have a healthy margin, but we are not slowing. We currently add on average 60-80 new RVs every month. We want to help more owners get their RVs out of the drive way and earning them money.

How do intend to keep ahead?

Through innovation and partnerships. We have a great team of innovators who are always working hard at improving our product based on our customers needs. We also work with some great companies in partnerships to help our owners and hirers with new and improved product offerings.

Remind us how Camplify began?

We began with an idea on how to get the caravans off the streets and driveways of Newcastle and out earning money, by allowing families to not have to buy an RV just to experience it. We pitched that idea to the NRMA Slingshot program. From there we built out our product, and work hard at growth.

What made you think the startup had traction?

Really the first couple of customers on both sides of our market. They both had such excitement for the product we knew we had something and just needed a way to scale it.

How important was your participation in Slingshot as far as building a minimum viable product?

It was critical. When we started the program we had no product, no customers, just a concept. Slingshot gave us the tools to build all this out.

What did you learn from working with a corporate in the NRMA?

Startups and corporates can be fundamentally opposed in their thinking and goals. Startups want a roller coaster of growth, with a ‘build-on-the-fly’ mentality. Where as corporates want sustainable development with fully developed products that meet their customers needs. The trick is to engage with corporates who understand how startups work, and are willing to engage on an agreeable project to test the waters. Otherwise you end up with lots of cups of coffee and no action.

Justin HalesIf money wasn’t an object, where would you spend it on your business?

Product development, and expansion. We have an amazing concept and product that we want to share with the world, all from our base here in Newcastle.

Any advice from a startup founder done good to other startups struggling to make a MVP?

I hear from lots of founders who are working on their product to build a platform, some software etc, for a long time, in ‘stealth mode’.

The best way to see if your startup is going to be successful is to give it to customers.

That doesn’t mean it has to be completely finished in concept, or in feature set. Your customers can help you build a product that they want.

This meansyou spend less time building, more time discovering, and create the product your customers truly want to use. This type of approach can be used from a web platform, right through to a restaurant running a popup market stall to build an audience before investing thousands.

Church leaders told to put aside ‘resentment’ to address abuse

Church leaders told to put aside ‘resentment’ to address abuse Joy: A survivor hugs an emotional shadow social services minister Jenny Macklin.

Healing: Abuse survivor and former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson outside the royal commission final sitting with Audrey Nash, whose son Andrew committed suicide, aged 13, after sexual abuse at a Hunter Marist Catholic school.

Renewal: Bill Shorten and Audrey Nash take part in a smoking ceremony outside the royal commission final sitting.

Relief: Abuse survivor and lawyer for many Hunter victims, John Ellis, outside the royal commission.

Questions: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arriving at the royal commission.

Bipartisan: Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull arrive at the royal commission.

TweetFacebook Sexual abuse of children a “national tragedy”: commission Calls for change across Australian institutionsTHE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has called for church and other institutional leaders to put aside their resentment and support necessary changes to address the “national tragedy” of child sexual abuse, duringan emotional final sitting.

In a speech on Thursday in front of a packed gallery, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and shadow social services minister Jenny Macklin, commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said children were abused over decades because society failed.

“Some of our most important state instrumentalities have failed. Police often refused to believe children. Child protection agencies did not listen to children. Investigation processes were inadequate and criminal procedures were inappropriate. Our civil law placed impossible barriers on survivors bringing claims against individual abusers and institutions,” Justice McClellan said.

“In some cases the aggressive hand of the lawyer was engaged, ensuring that an appropriate and just response to a survivor was not possible.”

The final sitting in Sydney was held a day before the royal commission hands a final report and recommendations to Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove in Canberra, ending the landmark five-year inquiry.

Justice McClellan said the more than 8000 survivors who had given evidence in private sessions and the many more who gave evidence at more than 50 public hearings had had “a profound impact on the commissioners”.

While many churches had referred to institutional child sexual abuse as a problem in the past, Justice McClellan told the final sitting that “child sexual abuse in institutions continues today”.

“We heard in private sessions from children as young as seven years of age who told us they had been recently abused,” he said.

While many thousands of children had been sexually abused in institutions, it was important to remember that the number of children sexually abused in home settings “far exceeds” those sexually abused in institutions, he said.

“The sexual abuse of any child is intolerable in a civilised society. It is the responsibility of our entire community to acknowledge that children are being abused. We must each resolve that we should do what we can to protect them,” Justice McClellan said.

The royal commission final sitting included many people who had campaigned for a commissionor had given evidence during public hearings.

They included Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest and whose husband Anthony died in June before the royal commission completed its work. They also included Hunter royal commission campaigners Bob O’Toole, Audrey Nash and Steve Smith, lawyer for many Hunter survivors John Ellis,advocate for children abused in homes, Leonie Sheedy and retired Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox.

Abuse survivor and former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson, whose apology to survivors in 2015 and vow to stop a culture of “mates looking after mates” within the church led to extraordinary scenes during a Newcastle Anglican diocese hearing in late 2016.

Outside the commission Mr Shorten committed to supporting the royal commission recommendations, saying: “I don’t believe Australians will accept excuses from the parliament if we don’t fully embrace the royal commission, and that starts with a redress scheme, a proper national compensation scheme.”

The decades of institutional child sexual abuse were “a national shame, a national tragedy”.

“Now is not the time to use legal tactics or insurance company practises to somehow discredit or demolish the royal commission report. Australians of good conscience should get behind this royal commission report,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr O’Toole said the final sitting was a fitting end to a royal commission that validated the lives of many thousands of Australians, where survivors and political leaders sat together to acknowledge the work of the commission.

Audrey Nash, whose son Andrew took his own life at the age of 13 while a student at Marist Hamilton school, said the final sitting “brought it all back – all the pain and misery”.

“But it took five years with the commission and Ifinally found out what happened to my boy.”

Bishop Thompson said the final sitting was “an important affirmation”.

“Institutions have to continue to listen and be truthful about what they’ve had to confront and they have to have the courage, leaders have tohave the courage, to stand up for survivors.”

He said he would “give it a 50:50 chance” that that would happen.

“It depends on who they appoint in the leadership in the future.”

Hunter survivors including Steve Smith will stand outside Government House in Canberra on Friday to wave the commissioners as they present the report and recommendations to Sir Peter Cosgrove.

At least some part of the report is expected to be released on Friday.

The Herald, Newcastle

‘Very serious’: Fresh allegations in explosive CBA case

Supplied. New AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose. 3rd of November 2017. .The financial watchdog, Austrac, is alleging a further 100 breaches of anti-money laundering and terrorism finance laws by the Commonwealth Bank as part of its explosive case against the lender.

Austrac on Thursday filed the new allegations, on top of the breaches it claimed in August, saying they had been uncovered as part of its ongoing investigation into the country’s biggest bank.

Among the new claims, Austrac alleges there were two instances where CBA failed to inform the regulator of its suspicions relating to the financing of terrorism within the required 24 hours.

The bank also allegedly failed to report a further 54 suspicious matters properly, or at all, relating to police operations, including a NSW investigation into a drug and firearms syndicate.

“These allegations are very serious and reflect systemic non-compliance over approximately six years,” Austrac’s chief executive, Nicole Rose.

In total, Austrac is now alleging more than 53,800 breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act by CBA, the vast majority of which CBA has admitted to.

Earlier, CBA said the Federal Court should treat more than 53,506 instances where it failed to lodge reports on time as one breach of anti-money laundering laws when determining an “appropriate” penalty for the bank.

It also argues the court should take into account reports about suspicious transactions that were lodged appropriately with regulators, alongside those that were not, when determining the harm caused by the bank’s actions.

CBA on Wednesday night filed its defence in response to Austrac’s allegations of repeated and serious breaches of Australia’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws.

Austrac, the financial intelligence regulator, has alleged drug gangs laundered millions of dollars through CBA’s intelligent deposit machines, which were capable of accepting up to $20,000 in a single deposit.

The bank’s defence admitted to some of the allegations, while contesting others, and said it would be “appropriate” for the court to impose a penalty on CBA.

It also flagged some of the arguments it would make in court, where it is likely to be slapped with a hefty fine.

As it had previously hinted, CBA will argue that 53,506 failures to lodge “threshold transaction reports” (TTRs) – which are required for cash deposits of more than $10,000 – should be treated as one breach, because they stemmed from one system error.

“CBA will submit that, for the purposes of penalty, ceratin of the admitted contraventions, including but not limited to the 53,506 late TTRs, should be treated as single courses of conduct,” it said.

Another key point of contention in the case is likely to be CBA’s approach to filing “suspicious matter reports” (SMRs). These are reports made for transactions below the $10,000 threshold for mandatory reporting, but which Austrac says should still have raised suspicions within the bank.

While CBA admitted that some of these were not properly filed, if at all, the bank also said it had filed a total of 140 SMRs relating to the five criminal syndicates identified in Austrac’s initial statement of claim.

The bank said it accepted that in failing to lodge reports on time or at all, it deprived law enforcement of “additional intelligence”, but it also said the reports that were properly filed should be taken into account by the court.

“CBA accepts that the failure to issue TTRs and SMRs in accordance with the act has deprived law enforcement agencies of some additional intelligence,” it said.

“CBA will submit that the extent of that harm should be assessed in the context of the significant number of SMRs issued in respect of the customers in question above and the fact that a number of the SMR contraventions relate to information itself derived from law enforcement.”

CBA’s defence admitted it had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment before rolling out its intelligent ATMs in 2012, and it had been too slow in cutting the $20,000 limit.

CBA said that by no later than January last year, given all it knew about money laundering occurring through its ATMs, the bank should have introduced daily deposit limits.

These limits were introduced only last month, when CBA started limiting daily deposits to $20,000.

The statement also says that because of a data error, there was a “deficiency” in its automatic transaction monitoring covering 778,370 bank accounts, which constitutes a breach of the law.

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

Origin aims to halve emissions by 2032

Origin is aiming to slash its emissions in half by 2032, in line with the Paris climate agreement, through the closure of the Eraring coal-fired power station in NSW.

This is the first time Origin has set a definitive timeline for its emissions reduction target.

“We want to be leading the transition to a cleaner and smarter energy future and we are proud to now have a tangible commitment for emissions reduction across our business,” Origin chief executive Frank Calabria said.

An Origin spokeswoman confirmed that the closure of the 2880 megawatt Eraring power station, near Dora Creek, Origin’s only coal-fired generator and the largest in the country, would be a material driver of its emissions reduction.

Eraring, which supplies about a quarter of NSW’s total power, has had a historical emissions intensity of 0.92 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt hour. Origin claims it’s one of the lowest greenhouse gas emission intensive coal-fired power stations in NSW.

Brown coal-fired power stations, such as Loy Yang and the now-closed Hazelwood facilities, typically have emission intensity levels of between 1.2 and 1.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt hour.

Origin also gave a more concise closure date for the company’s only coal-fired power station.

Previously, Eraring was slated for closure in the “early 2030s”; this emissions reduction target has now set a definitive date of 2032 at the latest.

The shutdown of Eraring would leave AGL’s Bayswater power station – which is coupled with the soon to be closed Liddell power station – as one of the last coal-fired power stations in NSW.

Mr Calabria said the focus would now shift to growing Origin’s renewable energy base and working with the government to finesse national energy policy to reduce emissions.

Environmental groups had a mixed reaction the announcement.

While some applauded Origin for setting targets above the National Energy Guarantee’s (NEG) energy sector emission reduction levels, others dismissed it as “greenwashing” linked to Origin’s announced closure of Eraring.

“Origin’s 50 per cent sits awkwardly with the NEG goal of a 26 per cent reduction in electricity emissions,” The Australia Institute Research Director Rod Campbell said.

“This shows that the NEG is not sufficient and the electricity sector can do a lot more.”

This was echoed by Mr Calabria, who said “more can and should be done and we have also stated our belief that a long-term goal of net zero emissions for the electricity sector by 2050 is achievable”.

Market Forces was more cynical about Origin’s reduction target.

“Origin is doing no more than closing Eraring on its 50-year use-by date,” Market Forces analyst Dan Gocher said.

“Given that Eraring makes up approximately 70 per cent of Origin’s overall emissions, the company is committing to increase its carbon pollution across the rest of the portfolio.”

Greenpeace Australia Pacific agreed, saying Origin’s target still fell short of achieving the lower end of the 1.5 to 2 degree Paris climate change goal.

“Origin Energy’s targets are far too weak to meet the 1.5 degree ambition in the Paris climate commitments and rely on closing a single power station whose business model is now outdated and would have closed anyway,” Greenpeace spokesman Jonathon Moylan said.

Origin’s announcement came as the National Australia Bank announced its intention to drop thermal coal from its investment portfolio.

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