23 October 2010

A little known truth about children detained behind razor wire

When Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the Labor government’s decision to release children and their families from immigration detention centres into the community, she evoked those well known emotive images of children detained behind razor wire:

I don’t think it’s the Australian way to have kids behind razor wire in the hope that will be a deterrent.

It was a misleading statement, because children seeking asylum in Australia are no longer being detained behind razor wire. Furthermore, contrary to what is widely believed, the previous Howard government actually abolished—not introduced—detention of children behind razor wire, and this was acknowledged by the Prime Minister in Question Time:

Mr FORREST (Mallee) (2:15 PM) —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement: ‘I don’t think it’s the Australian way to have kids behind razor wire.’ Will the Prime Minister confirm that by 2005 the Howard government had overturned the Hawke and Keating governments’ policy of mandatory detention of children behind razor wire and that there have been no children held in these conditions since that time?

Ms GILLARD (Lalor) (Prime Minister) —I genuinely thank the member for his question. Can I say to him that I just referred to the 2005 reforms in my last answer to a question from the shadow minister and I respect the role that the member asking the question played in advocating those reforms from the back bench of the then Howard government.

Mr ABBOTT —Given the question that was asked by my colleague the member for Mallee, and given the Prime Minister’s answer, which referred to changes made by the Howard government in 2005, I ask her by way of supplementary question: why did she create the impression yesterday that there were still children behind razor wire?

Ms GILLARD —The question of children and razor wire is directly relevant to this reform, so I say again to the Leader of the Opposition: if he wants to say, ‘Good on the government, but the Howard government thought of this first,’ that is fine by me. …

19 September 2010

Wyatt Roy entitled to his seat under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Section 34 of the Constitution generated some excitement among Labor supporters because they believed that it meant that the new LNP Member for Longman, Wyatt Roy, who is just 20 years old, is not legally permitted to hold a seat in Federal Parliament:


Qualifications of members

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualifications of a member of the House of Representatives shall be as follows:

  • (i) he must be of the full age of twenty-one years, and must be an elector entitled to vote at the election of members of the House of Representatives, or a person qualified to become such elector, and must have been for three years at the least a resident within the limits of the Commonwealth as existing at the time when he is chosen;

  • (ii) he must be a subject of the Queen, either natural-born or for at least five years naturalized under a law of the United Kingdom, or of a Colony which has become or becomes a State, or of the Commonwealth, or of a State.

The first few words of Section 34 allow the minimum age for members and senators to be reduced by an Act of Parliament without amending the Constitution, and this was in fact done with the passage of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, which reduced the minimum age for members and senators to 18:


Qualifications for nomination [see Note 6]

  • (1) A person who:

    • (a) has reached the age of 18 years;

    • (b) is an Australian citizen; and

    • (c) is either:

      • (i) an elector entitled to vote at a House of Representatives election; or

      • (ii) a person qualified to become such an elector; is qualified to be elected as a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

  • (2) A person is not entitled to be nominated for election as a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives unless the person is qualified under subsection (1).

20 August 2010

Newspaper Editorials for 20 August, 2010

The Australian:

One thing is abundantly clear, however: Kevin Rudd's big-government experiment was a disaster. Whichever party is returned, this ugly revival of old-style central planning must be buried and cremated. The Australian regrets taking Mr Rudd at his word in 2007 when he presented as an economic conservative who believed governments step in only when markets fail. The trouble was markets were deemed to have failed when Mr Rudd decided they had failed, and that was often. Long before the global financial crisis, the dead hand of government was touching the private sector in inappropriate places, and its behaviour grew steadily worse. GroceryWatch and FuelWatch were early signs of the hubris that resulted in the atrocity of a mining tax.

Our doubts towards Labor are about the party, not Ms Gillard, who has an abundance of courage and a talented frontbench team. Yet the financial crisis has revived a command economy culture we thought had been purged by Mr Hawke a quarter of a century ago. It was not big government that saved Australia from recession but the courage of leaders like Mr Hawke, Mr Howard and Paul Keating, who spent their own political capital on economic reform. The true test of a prime minister is not how he or she survives an external shock but how well they prepare us for the next one. It comes down to a question of trust in a contest between a leader who learned his trade under Mr Howard and one who served under Mr Rudd. On those grounds, we endorse Mr Abbott as our 28th prime minister.

The Australian Financial Review:

…By instinct, the Coalition would be less likely to waste taxpayers' money on risky projects than Labor, less inclined to sacrifice efficiency for "fairness" and protect weak industries, and more likely to embrace productivity-boosting reforms in welfare, tax and — hopefully by the 201 3 election — the workplace. Such reforms require real leadership. They are less likely to happen under Labor, which allows focus groups and unions to decide national policy and who should be prime minister.

We prefer the Coalition — which steered the economy through the 1997 Asian crisis and the fallout of the 2001 US recession. We hope, if elected, it learns better in office than Labor.

The Courier-Mail

This campaign has lacked detail on how to deal with those complex political and economic challenges, reducing the choice to a decision about what sort of country we want – one dominated by big government, or one where government gets out of the way to allow enterprise to thrive.

…The reason the Rudd/Gillard Government lost its way is that it believed fervently in the former and, in the process, squandered the trust and goodwill it received from Queensland voters in 2007, when it promised to confront contemporary issues more aggressively than the Howard government.

The past three years have been a story of government being presented as the solution to the nation's challenges, when in fact it only added to them…

This, in fact, is a strength and shows a commitment to the people he aspires to serve. We know well what Mr Abbott stands for because his positions are well chronicled. Like this newspaper, he stands for the strength of free enterprise empowered by less regulation and lower taxes. So does his party. The nation will be better for their return to government.

22 July 2010

Tony Abbott is more honest than Julia Gillard, says former Labor leader

In an interview on Sky News Australia, former leader of the federal ALP gave this blunt assessment of the honesty of the leaders of the two major parties:

Mark Latham: So every single slip, every wrong word, almost every misplaced syllable by a party leader it’s seized on. I’ve seen that already in this campaign. It’s seized on, as a story way out of proportion with its public interest value. So that encourages the politicians to narrow down, give them absolutely nothing and what we’ve seen so far in this campaign is that Gillard is really a changed person. She used to be fairly sort of free-wheeling and open about things. She has mastered the art of narrowness in public life whereas Abbott who, you know, really can’t sort of restrain himself from being a little bit honest is more likely to lead himself into an answer that, you know, is more honest than what Gillard’s giving people.

David Speers: But you’re saying Tony Abbott’s more honest in this campaign than Julia Gillard?

Mark Latham: Well he’s more inclined to speak his mind which you know should be a virtue, in a normal system it would be a virtue but in a system we’ve got now where the narrowness is absurd, there’s absolutely nothing in it for a politician to have an opinion that is outside the narrowly scripted message of the day on the campaign trail and this will be an ongoing problem for Abbott. Abbott who, for whatever reason, can’t sort of control himself in that regard is obviously going to find some …

5 July 2010

Julia Gillard continues to mislead voters on the Australian Constitution

Julia Gillard wants voters to forget that Australia is a federation of states with rights that are enshrined in the Australian Constitution, because they don’t sit well with Labor’s agenda to further centralise power in Canberra.

One of the central themes of the Rudd-Gillard Labor government’s campaign to win votes for its proposed Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) is that the nation’s minerals are owned by all Australians. As the government realises, this statement is misleading, as talkback radio host Alan Jones pointed out in his interview with the Prime Minister on 2GB last week:

JONES: -All company tax is profit-based, Julia. All company tax is profit based.

PM: Yes, but Alan, Alan, let’s just, absolutely right, I’m agreeing with you, we’re not having an argument about that. What’s different about mining? The key resource us a resource that is owned by everyone and we’ve got to work out what that’s worth. Historically-

JONES: -That’s not quite right, either. Constitutionally, what’s under the ground is owned by the States.

PM: Well, you know, Australians, Alan - whether they’re sitting in their States or sitting in their nation, it’s owned by Australians.

Australia’s minerals are owned by the Crown in the right of the states (excepting the territories), not in the right of the Commonwealth as the government is suggesting with its spin. It is clear from Section 114 in Chapter V of the Australian Constitution that while our minerals are owned by Australians, not all Australians own all our minerals:

114. A State shall not, without the consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, raise or maintain any naval or military force, or impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to the Commonwealth, nor shall the Commonwealth impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to a State.

18 June 2010

Coming to your PC: the Rudd Desktop Assistant

Remember Clippit, the animated paper clip that would appear and offer assistance when you started using a Microsoft Office application for the first time? It might have impressed some people with its animated stunts, but when it came to delivering the help you needed, all too often it responded with irrelevant answers to your questions. It looked very friendly, but when you wanted to get down to doing serious work it became an annoying, unwelcome intrusion. Now just imagine what it would be like to have a Kevin Rudd variant of this feature running in the background on your PC all the time, because this is in essence what might pop up after downloading and installing the application that the Rudd Labor government just announced would be available for parents seeking protection for their children online.

When Senator Conroy's desktop panic button was launched last week, it was derided by the online community as a waste of taxpayers' money because it was nothing more than a help button which connects the child to resources online—or so they thought. It would be naive to think that this button—reported to cost $73,000 to develop and includes the ability to update itself automatically—will do nothing more in future.

Perhaps the Rudd Labor government intends to quietly dump its unpopular plan for mandatory ISP-level filtering by sneaking in an update for PC-based filtering. However, this is a custom-built application and development is ongoing—not an existing commercial product available off the shelf—so we can only guess what the government plans to do next with its panic button.

The intentions of the Rudd Labor government's ideas for the Internet need close scrutiny, because a picture is emerging of a government obsessed with centralised monitoring and regulation of activity on the Internet. If the government is planning to make ISPs retain the browsing history of Internet users as some people in the industry claim, then it is more out of touch than it seemed at first with its plans for mandatory ISP-level filtering. Internet users can conceal their browsing history via the same methods as those used to circumvent ISP-level filters, such browsing via a Web proxy. It is obvious that they are not listening to expert advice in the development of their policies.

16 June 2010

Sand and gravel included in the Rudd government's mining tax grab

Despite being included in a list of resources that may merit exemption in the Henry Tax Review, lime, phosphates, sand and gravel will be subject to the Rudd Labor government’s proposed Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). Senator Wong couldn’t explain why the government chose to include these resources in the proposed tax on mining in yesterday's session of Question Time in the Senate.

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (2:28 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Wong. I refer to the detailed analysis of the Henry tax review, table C1-1, headed ‘Resources that may merit exemption from the resource rent tax’. It lists more than 33 resources that may merit exemption. Why will these resources—including lime, phosphates, sand and gravel—still be subject to this massive new tax grab?

Senator WONG (South Australia) (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —As I made clear in a previous answer, obviously the Henry tax review falls within the Treasurer’s portfolio, so if you have questions on the detail of that, Senator, I would suggest you put them to Senator Sherry, who represents the Treasurer. I can assist in relation to a number of the issues raised, however. For example, I would make the point that the move to a profits based regime will obviously, in general, be of greater assistance than a volumes based regime for more marginal operations. I make that as a general proposition.

The second point I would make is that a number of the commodities that you have discussed—not all, but some—are traded on world markets and obviously have their price set by world markets. For example, you mentioned phosphate. ABARE has advised that the price of phosphate is determined on world markets and by movements in the Australian exchange rates. I also make the point that, as I responded in response to an earlier question, the government’s modelling has indicated that the introduction of this reform, the replacement of royalties and the reduction in the company tax rate for all companies has, in fact, been independently modelled to bring down consumer prices by 1.1 per cent as well as to ensure that there is an increase in output as I have previously described. It may suit those opposite to run scare campaigns around a whole range of issues here; the fact is that this is about economic reform. It is about building a stronger economy and recognising that the benefits of the resources sector should be more fairly shared amongst all in Australia and should be utilised to make investments in other parts of our economy such as regional infrastructure, superannuation and reduction in the company tax rate. (Time expired)

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the small quarries will face an effective tax rate of 57 per cent despite the Henry review advice, what modelling has the government done in relation to the effect of the obvious price increases in these infrastructure and fertiliser products?

Senator WONG (South Australia) (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —Again, I do not know where you are quoting your figure from. I again remind you that this is a profits based regime which obviously only applies after a certain threshold which incorporates a rate of return. In relation to some of the fertiliser and fertiliser ingredients that you reference, I have indicated to you that a number of these commodities are in fact traded commodities and would have their prices set on world markets. The low-value commodities that are used as agricultural inputs are usually lower profit—

Honourable senators interjecting—

Senator Brandis —Mr President, a point of order: the question was limited to whether or not modelling had been done with relation to the effect on these commodities. Nothing that the minister has said has gone anywhere near the question of whether or not modelling was done. You should bring her directly to the question.

The PRESIDENT —I am listening to the answer that the minister is giving. It is a little bit difficult with the interjections that are taking place across the chamber. If they were not happening, it would be much easier to hear the comments that are being made.

Senator WONG —The modelling is the Econtech modelling which I have previously referred to. I was attempting to be of some assistance to the senator and to give him a specific answer in relation to the agricultural inputs he raised. The advice I have is that these are usually lower profit and, therefore, unlikely to face a higher tax burden under the RSPT, particularly given the replacement of royalties with an RSPT. I also indicate that the government is clearly consulting on this implementation. (Time expired)

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the government pay financial compensation to state and local governments that will face obvious increased costs in road construction and community infrastructure because of this big new tax on all quarries that supply these resources?

Senator WONG (South Australia) (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —What the government is doing, as the Prime Minister has announced, is implementing a $6 billion regional infrastructure fund. This demonstrates why tax reform is so critical to Australia. A fund means that we can begin to tackle our urgent infrastructure needs now and put something back into the mining communities that make our economy strong. The reality is that this is a tax that is about investment in infrastructure, investment in superannuation, investment in a reduction in the company tax rate for the other sectors of the economy, a fairer share and a stronger economy.

11 May 2010

Media release from Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey: A Shameless Con

This Budget confirms that Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan are addicted to spending and allergic to tough decisions.

This is another big taxing, big spending Labor Budget with no serious reform.

The Budget assumes less smoking with higher tobacco taxes, yet it assumes more investment with massively higher mining taxes.

Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan are asking the Australian people to trust them to deliver a Budget outcome that is based on the most favourable terms of trade in 60 years, assumes a significant increase in investment in resources and assumes no new additional Government expenditure between now and 2014.

The Budget’s return to surplus relies upon a great big new tax on Australia’s resources sector, not tough decisions.

This great big new mining tax is a dagger to the heart of the Australian economy, putting major projects at risk and sending jobs offshore.

Mr Rudd and Mr Swan want to sacrifice Australia’s future economic prosperity to improve the numbers in this Budget’s bottom line.

Spending in this Budget will increase by $26 billion over the next three years relative to last year’s record spending forecast.

The Government will have to borrow over $700 million a week to fund its reckless and wasteful spending — putting upward pressure on interest rates and the cost of living for Australian families.

Interest on net government debt will be $4.6 billion in 2010/11.

By 2012/13 the Government will be spending $6.5 billion a year on interest payments.

The peak debt bill of $93.7 billion will be the amount owed by the Australian people to pay for Kevin Rudd’s spending spree.

The Government has not taken a single tough decision to rein in its reckless and wasteful spending. The improvement in the Budget’s fiscal position is a direct result of a growing economy and stronger terms of trade combined with tax hikes on miners and cigarettes and an attack on private health insurance.

The Budget also exposes the costs of the Government’s waste, mismanagement and policy failures, including a $1 billion blowout as a result of Kevin Rudd weakening Australia’s borders and $1 billion being spent to fix Labor’s tragic home insulation mess.


The Government’s $9 billion a year mining tax will damage the sector of the Australian economy which did the most to see us through the Global Financial Crisis. Already this reckless decision has resulted in BHP casting doubt over the $20 billion expansion of Olympic Dam, Santos deferring a decision on a $15 billion LNG export-terminal in Gladstone, Xstrata suspending a $30 million regional exploration programme, and Origin Energy predicting increases in domestic energy and fuel prices.

Small business across Australia will be deeply concerned by the additional $445 million that Mr Rudd and Mr Swan will be giving to the Australian Taxation Office for increased compliance.


Labor’s Budget reveals the economic cost of Kevin Rudd losing control of Australia’s borders.

Offshore asylum seeker management has blown-out by a massive $777 million since last year’s Budget. This blow-out in offshore management costs has occurred at the same time as Kevin Rudd has walked away from his commitment to universal offshore processing. Labor will spend an additional $202 million on accommodation for illegal arrivals both on Christmas Island and on the Australian mainland in Darwin, Sydney and Port Augusta.


The Budget confirms that Kevin Rudd’s home insulation disaster will cost at least $1 billion to fix, with thousands of homes across Australia still not inspected in the aftermath of the scheme’s cancellation. The Home Insulation programme which has been linked to four deaths and resulted in 240,000 dangerous and dodgy insulation jobs, 1,000 electrified roofs, and 120 house fires, will now cost the Budget a further $1 billion. This programme is the most monumental failure of government policy in living memory.


By setting a target for full employment at an unemployment rate of 4.75 per cent in 2012, the Government is effectively giving up on the employment prospects of 75,000 Australians.

The Government’s promise of a $661 million for skills investment re-badges $601 million of existing spending, including a $456 million cut in the Productivity Places Programme.

Further delays in the Julia Gillard school halls programme will mean that $500 million of stimulus funding will not be spent until 2011/12, at least three years after the Global Financial Crisis.


The Budget confirms that Kevin Rudd’s health policies will be about more bureaucrats and not better services. The Government will spend around $500 million to establish new layers of Commonwealth bureaucracy. In less than a month, Kevin Rudd has broken his promise of no net increase in health bureaucrats.

Having broken his election promise and built just two of 36 GP super clinics, Kevin Rudd is now asking the Australian people to trust him to build 23 more. On this conversion rate, Australians can expect this latest promise from Kevin Rudd to deliver just 1.4 extra super clinics.

Furthermore, what the Government isn’t telling people is that only 9 of the additional 23 super clinics will be at full scale.


Having shelved its response to what Kevin Rudd described as “the greatest moral challenge of our time”, the Budget demonstrates that the Government does not have a credible policy on climate change. The Coalition remains the only major party with a policy that will reduce carbon emissions by five per cent by 2020 while at the same time delivering good environmental outcomes.

But the Budget confirms that Kevin Rudd’s original great big new tax on everything — the ETS — will be coming back after the election.


In an undisguised election campaign strategy, the Government will spend $126 million on print, radio and television advertising.

Despite having no climate change policy, the Government will spend $30 million for another climate change advertising campaign.

The Government will also spend $38.5 million over two years to advertise the outcomes of the Henry Tax Review even though they only adopted a handful of the Review’s 138 recommendations.

Despite having not even introduced their Paid Parental Leave (PPL) legislation into the Parliament, for the second Budget year running, the Government has committed funding for PPL advertising to a new total of $12 million.

The Prime Minister’s daily PR spin on hospitals will continue with a new $29.5 million advertising campaign to sell their health package even though Western Australia has not signed on and all new beds won’t even be delivered until 2013-14.

With broadband services under the NBN still years away, the Rudd Government has committed $16 million over two years, including $7.6 million in the current financial year, on an NBN advertising campaign while at the same time, cutting $16.4 million from the previous Coalition Government’s ‘Australian Broadband Guarantee’ programme which ensured fast and affordable broadband.

It would appear that politically motivated government advertising is more important to Kevin Rudd than the $21.2 million programme to combat illicit drugs, from which he has cut $4 million.


Wayne Swan’s Budget delivers Kevin Rudd’s priorities to Defence — more bureaucrats and less to the front line, increasing civilian numbers by 1,500 and cutting the number of uniform personnel by 500. The Budget will also place greater pressure on recruitment and retention in the ADF with further cuts to the successful defence gap year programme.


The Budget does not invest a single additional dollar in Australia’s major road networks. There is no additional funding for the duplication of the Pacific Highway, making a farce of Kevin Rudd’s commitment to finish the duplication by 2016 — another broken promise.

11 May 2010

9 May 2010

The sign says it all

Photo taken in Redcliffe, Perth.

Miners in! Rudd out!

7 May 2010

There was no "fat finger" 16 billion trade that led to Wall Street's largest intraday plunge

The story that Wall Street's biggest intraday plunge in history was caused by a trader accidentally entering 16 billion rather than 16 million for the quantity of a sell order is nonsense. A check of the New York Stock Exchange's technical specifications reveals that the maximum quantity for trade orders is 6.5 million shares.

16 April 2010

Issues of ISP-level filtering

Simple illustration of the flaws with ISP-level filtering. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe it’s better to tackle the problem at the source. Internet users aren't the only victims of child pornography.

Issues of ISP-level filtering

14 April 2010

Conroy spun the filter trial, and out came a report fluffier than a Himalayan cat that's been through a clothes drier

Senator Conroy has had more than enough time to provide clarity, substance and certainty on his planned mandatory Internet censorship regime. With each day that passes that their calls for reason, common sense and clarity on this issue are ignored, Australians with legitimate concerns about this policy grow ever more cynical about the ability of their politicians to understand and represent their views on issues relevant to ordinary Australians. In this age many Australians consider the Internet to be fundamental to their every day personal communications, just like the analogue telephone which is being replaced by VOIP, where voice telephony is delivered via the Internet. Many Australians consider this a serious issue that warrants robust and informed debate involving all stakeholders, and for it to be based on fact.

The Enex TestLab report is misleading and has Senator Conroy’s fingerprints all over it. Take for example the feedback from customers on page 28:

Participants were asked if access was blocked to sites that they thought they should have access to (e.g. to identify perceptions of over-blocking). Only a couple of respondents indicated that they were frequently blocked access to sites they should have had access to, while most respondents reported that they were blocked “possibly once or twice”. A number of users reported they were “unsure” as to whether they had been blocked unnecessarily and some customers commented on the benefit of seeing some “output” of the filters action.

Proponents of the government’s policy might think that this is just collateral damage in the war on child pornography because it appears in the section of the report titled Customer Feedback — Additional Content Filtering, which covers the impact of the optional “family” filter on customers’ experience. We don’t know whether reports of over-blocking and other negative feedback can be attributed to the mandatory filter which was used at the same time for customers who participated in the trial of the filter for optional additional categories. They did not seek feedback from customers who participated in the trial of the mandatory filter alone.

Conroy boasts that the AMCA filter is 100% accurate. It’s just like throwing a net into the ocean, pulling out a few fish and saying “See these fish I’ve caught? It’s 100% accurate at catching these fish.”

You don’t have to embrace libertarianism to see the insanity. The end does not justify the means, especially when evidence that the end will be achieved does not exist. Will it block 5% of child pornography on the Internet? Will it even block 1%? Nobody knows. It’s hard for experts to provide clear answers when they are not provided with clearly defined aims. Also, it’s hard to disprove something that was never proven in the first place. The government has failed to demonstrate that the technology it intends to impose on each and every Australian will be effective in protecting children from child pornography.

10 April 2010

How does Senator Conroy plan to filter the web traffic of mobile phones?

Below is the page that is displayed when I browse to www.iplocationtools.com from my BlackBerry in Australia. It displays the IP address and location of the host connecting to the website, which in this case is a proxy located in Canada, the country in which RIM, the maker of BlackBerry smart phones, is based. How does the Rudd Labor government intend to censor the Internet when it accessed through the BlackBerry web browser or any other application that uses a proxy located offshore?

www.iplocationtools.com from a BlackBerry in Australia

6 April 2010

Noble's amusing response to an unsolicited takeover bid for Macarthur Coal by American miner Peabody Energy


5 April 2010, Hong Kong

The board of Directors of the Noble Group have noted with interest the recent developments regarding an unsolicited offer by the United States based Peabody Coal for Macarthur. The board of Macarthur reacted to their bid with the same enthusiasm as a lost and hungry hiker who stumbles across a road kill Roo that had been in the sun too long, and not surprisingly said "no thanks".

We at Noble noted that this unsolicited offer had, as one of its many conditions, a requirement that the merger between Gloucester and Macarthur not proceed. This merger had already been carefully considered over a substantial period of time by the boards of both companies and had been unanimously supported and recommended to Macarthur's shareholders at a vote to take place on April 12, 2010. Without putting too fine a point on it, everyone at board level thought it was a great deal for their respective shareholders.

The entire concept behind the Gloucester-Macarthur merger was to build a truly outstanding multi mine and port Australian-based coal group with unique access to key markets. It was also crafted to give all shareholders who had patiently held the various shares involved the right to ride along and enjoy any potential upside.

Life was great until a few days ago when, instead of jumping on their horses, the Americans charged into town on a Gulfstream jet for the afternoon and plunked a bid down that was a great deal for them, and not, in our view, anywhere near what was already on the table. Hats off to them for being opportunistic and crafty; it ruined our Easter weekend.

So, now, instead of looking for eggs with our kids, we have to draft this release and inform the market that the Noble Group will have to give long hard thought as to whether we will try to chase these chaps out of town by, among other things, exercising, if certain events occur, our option to increase our share of Middlemount mine to 50 percent, where we would have the right to sell 100 percent of the output for the life of the mine. It goes without saying the Middlemount mine would then have to be operated as a separate 50-50 joint-venture company. We will also have to give thought to other ways in which we would make the interlopers from St. Louis leave us alone. Our quiver is far from empty. What will they do if we also review our rights under the Monto project and act to protect our investment? For them, this transaction would make a Porcupine seem well-shaven.

What we would really like is for the Americans to go back home. We busted our tail to put together a good fair deal that will build a great company. All they are doing is trying to throw a wrench in a well though-out deal with a check book and try and turn people's heads with a short-term payoff.

All of this reminds us of the wonderful story about the late great Kerry Packer. The story goes that he was trying to play a little blackjack and an American kept bugging him to get into the game. Finally Kerry got exasperated, looked up at the hapless guy and said, "what are you worth?". Mr. Texas puffed up and said "One hundred million"; Kerry replied "flip you for it". We consider that we have earned our stripes by building well run, publicly held businesses over time ..... and by not underestimating the grit of the country. Even in the face of Americans with checkbooks.


About Noble Group

Noble Group (SGX: N21) is a market leader in managing the global supply chain of agricultural, energy, metals and mining resources. The Group operates from over 150 offices and plants in 38 countries, employing approximately 70 nationalities and serving more than 4000 customers. Noble manages a diversified portfolio of essential raw materials, integrating the sourcing, marketing, processing, financing and transportation. With 2009 annual revenues exceeding US$31 billion, Noble owns and manages an array of strategic assets, sourcing from low cost producers such as Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Indonesia and supplying to high growth demand markets including China, India and the Middle East. Today, Noble has interests in grain crushing facilities, coal and iron ore mines, fuel terminals and storage facilities, sugar and ethanol plants, vessels, ports and other infrastructure to ensure high quality products are delivered in the most efficient and timely manner to its customers.

In late 2009, Noble Group was honored at the DHL SCMP Hong Kong Business Awards by winning the coveted International Award. During the year, Noble ranked #218 on the Fortune Global 500 and achieved "Investment Grade" ratings (Baa3) from Moody's Investors Service and (BBB-) from Standard & Poor's, complementing its initial "Investment Grade" rating (BBB-) from Fitch the previous year. In addition, Noble appears on the Forbes Global 2000 and Forbes Fab 50 lists of leading companies. Noble Group is among the 30 securities listed on the Straits Times Index.

For further details please contact:

Mr. Stephen Brown
Noble Group Limited
Tel: +852 2250 2060
Fax: +852 2861 0018
Email: stephenbrown@thisisnoble.com

Mr. Brad Smolar
Smolar Limited
Tel: +852 6339 3396
Fax: +852 2573 2473
Email: reputation@smolar.com

6 March 2010

Washington Times exposes Warmists' snow job

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has published the contents of e-mail exchanges at the National Academies of Science that were first reported by the The Washington Times revealing plans for an "outlandishly aggressively partisan" campaign to attack climate change sceptics, including raising donations to publish an advertisement in the New York Times. Not surprisingly, they describe the efforts of Senator James Inhofe to hold climate scientists to account as "McCarthyism". It is clear that these scientists are not confident that the merits of their science will enable their alarmist and exaggerated claims to be sustained under scrutiny.

17 February 2010

Media release from Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz

15 February 2010

Senate Additional Estimates: In case you missed it

No amount of spin doctoring and Ministerial interference can hide Labor’s litany of broken promises, lies and clangers following a week of hard fought efforts by the Coalition, exposing Labor for what it is - all talk and no action, all spin and no substance.

Here are a just a few examples of Labor’s bungling and broken promises exposed during Senate Estimates:

Destruction of Border Protection

Last week in Senate Estimates, Immigration Minister Chris Evans, facing questions from Liberal Senator Gary Humphries, appeared to find it somewhat amusing to admit that boot-scooting lessons were provided to asylum seekers on Christmas Island, as part of more than a billion dollars of taxpayers money the Labor is spending annually to deal with immigration issues. As Senator Humphries, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship and representing the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship in the Senate, said later in an interview with 6PR’s Howard Sattler, “The people smugglers clearly use a number of sales pitches; I don’t know whether they describe the boot-scooting at Christmas Island as one of those things. But you’d have to wonder what they do say and it is a worry. It ought not to be the impression that is created of what Australia will do for people who illegally enter its territorial waters.”

Labor fails to invest in Education Fund

Following scrutiny of Education Department officials by Senator Brett Mason, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education and School Curriculum Standards, the Department has revealed that Labor has not contributed one cent to the Education Investment fund despite promises by the Rudd Government that they would do so, with great fanfare, as the centrepiece to Labor’s so called “Nation Building Package”.

Resources and Energy sector specialist rejected by Henry Tax Review

Department of Resources and Energy officials revealed that inexplicably their offer to second an officer from the resources division to the Henry Tax Review secretariat to provide specialist input, following growing speculation that the Rudd Government is looking to slug the resources sector with a massive new rent tax, has been rejected. “Considering this review could have very, very serious implications for the resources sector and could result in a massive new rent tax being imposed on it, I find it absolutely extraordinary that the Department’s offer to have a representative seconded was rejected,” said Shadow Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator the Hon Nick Minchin.

ASIC probed on Liquidators

Questioned by Nationals Senator John Williams, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission revealed that liquidators complete their own annual return and that ASIC does not carry out a routine audit which Senator Williams describes as “a recipe for disaster” and justifies the upcoming Senate Inquiry into liquidators and administrators and the role played by ASIC before and after a company collapses.

Rudd looks after himself and leaves all others without Training

Government officials questioned by Senator Mathias Cormann, Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, Apprenticeships and Training, and Senator Michaelia Cash, Chair of the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee, revealed to Senate Estimates that only one single trades training centre out of the 2,650 promised by Labor before the last election is fully operational and that coincidently the only trades training centre that has been established so far is located in the Prime Minister’s home town of Brisbane. This is despite an assurance just three months ago by the same Government officials that fifteen trade training centres would be completed by the end of last month.

Labor Government failing Australia with its Great Big New Tax

Treasury officials, questioned by Nationals Senator Ron Boswell revealed that following the Copenhagen debacle, which failed to secure a binding global agreement on emission reduction, it has done no modelling of the current international situation. Senator Boswell said, “Treasury modelling stands and falls on whether a global emissions trading scheme is in place. All their analysis of the impact of the Emissions Trading Scheme on pensioners, jobs, income and price rises depended on Copenhagen being successful.” Senator Boswell said that “it was very strange that no one in the Government had directed that the modelling be updated to take into account the Copenhagen outcome.”

Labor fails to support Australian fruit and vegetable growers

It has been revealed that whilst a staggering 114 Australian officials attended the failed Copenhagen conference, not one Australian Government representative could make it to the Berlin Conference on the fruit and vegetable industry seven weeks later. Senator Ian Macdonald, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia and representative of the Shadow Minister for Trade, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, confirmed during Senate Estimates that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were invited to the trade fair but showed little interest in supporting Australian fruit and vegetable growers.

Labor fails to deliver to Australian taxpayers

The Australian Tax office admitted that 700,000 Australians are facing delays in the processing of their tax returns because the Department’s computer system is undergoing a major overhaul and that the Department estimates it will take until at least March 2010 to catch up on the back log.

Laptops? What laptops? Kevin07 promise slower than Conroy’s broadband.

Education Department officials revealed that despite Labor’s promise to give every one of Australia’s one million secondary students their own computer connected to ultra fast fibre broadband, less than a quarter of the new computers have been delivered and none of them have been connected to fast internet. Kevin Rudd needs to deliver one million computers by the end of 2011. ‘At the rate he’s going now, it will take some time until the end of 2018 to deliver Kevin07’s election promise. The whole program has been over-hyped and under-delivered right from the start. It’s been grossly under-budgeted and is now way behind schedule. Sadly, it has now become a national joke’, said Senator Brett Mason.

Labor mocks Australians with the ironically named Fair Work Act

During questioning by Shadow Employment and Workplace Relations Minister, Senator Eric Abetz, Fair Work Australia President Justice Geoffrey Guidice was unable to commit himself either way when asked if no Australian workers would be worse off since the introduction of Labor’s new workplace laws. Fair Work Australia was asked to address the growing confusion over workers entitlements and conditions despite both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd giving Australian workers a guarantee that no Australian workers would be worse off under Labor’s so called Modern Award scheme.

Kevin07 Green Loan Scheme promise a monumental failure

More than seven months into this financial year and Peter Garrett and Rudd Labor have managed to deliver just 1,008 of the 20,000 budgeted ‘Green Loans’ they promised to deliver, let alone the 200,000 they originally promised voters in 2007. Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Action, says Labor’s ‘Green Loans’ scheme has been downsized from what the Rudd Government originally promised and describes Labor’s bungling of the scheme as a monumental case of mismanagement.

Labor fails our Defence Force

Defence Force chiefs revealed more pay bungles within the Australian Defence Force. When questioned by Shadow Defence Minister, Senator David Johnston, Defence revealed that 56 combat engineers based in Afghanistan have had to repay debts of $38,000. Sixty three soldiers, who had returned from Afghanistan, have been forced to repay $340,000 and hundreds of Reservists have been overpaid. Meanwhile 25 Reservists were underpaid. Senator Johnston says even the Chief of the Army, Lt Gen Ken Gillespie admitted he has been forced to repay $20,000 due to a superannuation glitch in the system.

Conroy recommended Labor mate for plum NBN job

In a stunning revelation Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy admitted under questioning by Chair of the Environment, Communication and Arts References Committee Senator Mary Jo Fisher that it was he who recommended disgraced former Queensland MP and Labor Party apparatchik Mike Kaiser for a plum $450,000 a year job with the Government’s NBN Co. Senator Conroy said he put forward Kaiser’s name to NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley “as a person of possible relevant experience” for the role of Principal of Government Relations and External Affairs. Mr Quigley advised that the position had not been advertised, nor was a short-list of possible candidates compiled prior to Mr Kaiser’s appointment. Senator Conroy dismissed Mr Kaiser’s involvement in an electoral rorts controversy in Queensland as a “youthful indiscretion”. Kaiser will be paid around $100,000 more a year than the Prime Minister. Conroy now becomes the ‘Minister for Mates’.

Lack of NBN transparency

Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy refused to say whether he will publicly release Labor’s $25 million Implementation Study for his $43 billion NBN Mark II proposal. Senator Mary Jo Fisher, Chair of the Environment, Communication and Arts References Committee, asked the Minister if the report will ever be released and questioned him as to why he would not commit to releasing the information for public scrutiny if Labor had nothing to hide. So Much for Mr Rudd’s supposed commitment to openness and transparency.

Labor fails to deliver on its promise to Aboriginal families

Despite Labor’s promise to deliver comprehensive preschool education to Aboriginal children none of Mr Rudd’s promised children and family centres in remote communities are operational. Liberal Senator Brett Mason, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education and School Curriculum standards, discovered that two years after Kevin Rudd delivered his ‘Sorry’ speech; none of the 35 promised centres are even close to being operational.

Labor fails accountability test on public housing

Having ploughed $5.638 billion into it’s investment into public housing, Labor has failed to secure any guarantees that the dwellings provided to the states won’t then be sold. Coalition Housing spokesman, Senator Gary Humphries said its sheer foolishness for the Rudd Government to trust the States with this windfall and Labor must move immediately to guarantee that State and Territory Governments will not rort the system.

Counsellor assigned to India in placation exercise over uranium ban?

The Department of Resources and Energy confirmed that as part of a “whole-of-government” decision, it would station a departmental counsellor to the High Commission in New Delhi to identify and promote resources and energy trade and investment opportunities at a cost of $2.7 million. It was revealed that no such position has been assigned to China, which is far and away the largest importer of Australian minerals, which includes uranium, accounting for around 26 per cent of our overall mineral exports. India accounts for just 8 per cent of mineral exports and 6 per cent of energy exports. Shadow Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator the Hon Nick Minchin said, “One would have to seriously question whether this decision is purely an attempt to placate the Indian Government, which is both bemused and displeased by the Rudd Government’s nonsensical refusal to sell it uranium for civil purposes, while at the same time selling it to China for the very same reasons.”

Strong Border Protection and ASIO compromised by Rudd’s Special Deals

Evidence suggests Labor put political expedience before national security in its ‘special deal’ for refugees aboard the Oceanic Viking. Evidence presented at Senate Estimates clearly shows that the only reason refugees, given adverse security assessment by ASIO, were transferred from Indonesia to Australia was because of Kevin Rudd’s ‘special deal’ for the Oceanic Viking.

Labor’s cash splash fails the educational outcome test and more Jobs for Australians test.

Labor is unable to say how many jobs were created under its $16.2 billion cash splash on its so called Building the Education Revolution scheme. Labor also failed to answer how building multi-purpose school halls will help Australian school children’s literacy and numeracy and improve their academic performance.

Labor beggars belief – failure to embrace all Australians

Labor has confirmed that Australians who are blind or vision impaired will not be guaranteed a secret ballot at the next Federal election. Under questioning by the Coalition’s spokesman for disabilities, Senator Mitch Fifield, Labor’s Special Minister of State, Joe Ludwig flat out refused to comment.

Missing in Action - Prime Minister’s grand plan for hospitals.

“Not even a back of the envelope plan for fixing hospitals could be produced by the Secretary of the Department of Health,” said Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Shadow Minister for Ageing.

Websites: www.liberal.org.au www.abetz.com.au

Media enquiries: Jane Kilmartin (02) 6277 3019 — 0400380925

8 February 2010

An inconvenient truth about the IPCC

It is one of the most critical and frequently cited findings of the IPCC and has been used to justify action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by governments around the world:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

In the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the words very likely specifically mean a probability greater than 90%.

While this figure has been treated as definitive in our understanding and response to global warming, it is not based on science as most people would believe. The figure was determined via a show of hands from representatives from each country. It was the result of a political process that did not involve climate scientists.

30 January 2010

Is this what Kevin Rudd had in mind for Australia at Copenhagen?

You would be amazed by all the things that you don't hear in the mainstream media, such as the draft text of the Copenhagen climate change treaty, which thankfully was never agreed to. Even though it is still online, hardly anybody has read it, which is probably the way it was intended.

The 181 page document is barely comprehensible, but Clause 38 that begins on page 18 raises your eyebrows:

38. The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism, and the basic organization of which will include the following:

  1. The government will be ruled by the COP with the support of a new subsidiary body on adaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies. The current Convention secretariat will operate as such, as appropriate.
  2. The Convention’s financial mechanism will include a multilateral climate change fund including five windows: (a) an Adaptation window, (b) a Compensation window, to address loss and damage from climate change impacts, including insurance, rehabilitation and compensatory components, (c) a Technology window; (d) a Mitigation window; and (e) a REDD window, to support a multi-phases process for positive forest incentives relating to REDD actions.
  3. The Convention’s facilitative mechanism will include: (a) work programmes for adaptation and mitigation; (b) a long-term REDD process; (c) a short-term technology action plan; (d) an expert group on adaptation established by the subsidiary body on adaptation, and expert groups on mitigation, technologies and on monitoring, reporting and verification; and (e) an international registry for the monitoring, reporting and verification of compliance of emission reduction commitments, and the transfer of technical and financial resources from developed countries to developing countries. The secretariat will provide technical and administrative support, including a new centre for information exchange.

Columnist Janet Albrechtsen read the treaty draft before the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen and warned the public of the "fine print" in the climate change agreement that our governments were about to sign up to in The Australian and The Wall Street Journal.

29 January 2010

Senator Fielding is just another twit on Twitter

@senatorsteve: just been using a nice new apple mac inside the detention centre. Not bad at all!

@latikambourke: @senatorsteve good to see your priorities are in order, Senator.

@Pollytics: You really are a tool sometimes RT @senatorsteve: just been using a nice new apple mac inside the detention centre. Not bad at all!

@jamesmassola: @senatorsteve I'm a little unclear on what using an iMac has to do with a visit to Christmas island. Why is that noteworthy?

@Pollytics: @senatorsteve Did you feed the animals? You're treating the rest of your trip like you're at the zoo. Wake up to yourself, its detestable

21 January 2010

Senator Brown's life in a parallel universe

According to The Canberra Times, CSIRO hydrologist Dr David Post stated that there was "no evidence" linking the drought in eastern Australia to climate change. In response, leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, made an extraordinary claim:

We should ask why CSIRO is prepared to turn an unaccountable blind eye to recent climate trends in Tasmania. This undercurrent of scepticism would seem to suggest the report has been politicised.

While the Rudd Labor government has been ridiculing climate change sceptics opposed to its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), which will be re-introduced into Parliament for the third time after two failed attempts to have the legislation passed, Senator Brown believes the findings are a result of the CSIRO "caving in to political pressure".

If there is any political pressure that is influencing the work of the CSIRO, it is pressure to avoid publishing research that conflicts with the government's climate change policy, as was the case for Dr Clive Spash, whose research was suppressed because it was critical of the government's CPRS.

Dr Post does not actually rule out the possibility that the drought in the Murray-Darling Basin was caused by climate change:

At this stage, we'd prefer to say we're talking about natural variability. The science is not sufficiently advanced to say it's climate change, one way or the other. The jury is still out on that.

The report from the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project puts the current drought into context:

Annual rainfall in the southern MDB for the ten-year period 1997 to 2006 was significantly lower than the long-term average but similar low-rainfall periods occurred in the 1890s and around 1940.

17 January 2010

More 3D buildings for Australian cities in Google Earth

I started playing around with Google Earth again after using it to look at the destruction wreaked by the earthquake in Haiti. More 3D models of buildings in Australian cities have been added since I last enabled the 3D Buildings layer and looked at our cities.


The University of Western Australia


16 January 2010

America's Climategate: Allegations of climate data manipulation at NASA and NOAA

Explosive allegations of data manipulation at US government climate data centres have been aired in a special report on the website of KUSI News, based in San Diego, United States. These claims are based on research by computer programmer E. Michael Smith and meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo, who say that world temperature observations have been substantially manipulated to support claims of global warming.

According Smith and D'Aleo, the US national temperature dataset has been manipulated in a number of ways. In about 1990, readings from thermometers around the world had been excluded, reducing the total number of thermometers used in the dataset from 6000 to 1500. Readings from thermometers in cold places were substituted with ones from elsewhere, as E. Michael Smith explains:

Smith: One of the more startling ones I ran into was Bolivia. There is a very wonderful baseline for Bolivia, a very high and mountainous country, right up until 1990 when the data ends, and if you look on the November 2009 anomaly map, you'll see a very red, rosy, hot Bolivia. How do you get a hot Bolivia when you haven't measured the temperature for 20 years?

Coleman: Well, how do you?

Smith: They take the temperature from places up to 1,200 kilometres away and copy it in, they fill in with what they've got. And what they've got is the beach in Peru and the Amazon jungle.

Also, adjustments were applied to the raw data to produce a warming trend where none existed, as in the case of Davis, California, which appears to be warming in the adjusted data but shows cooling in the non-adjusted data:

Port-au-Prince: Before and after

Port-au-Prince, before January 12, 2010, when it was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake:

Port-au-Prince after the earthquake:

1 January 2010

Update: Rudd Labor government censors results from ISP filtering trial

In an earlier post I briefly explained how key results were missing in the Enex TestLab report on the government's live pilot of its proposed ISP-level filtering scheme.

The results of the accuracy testing can be combined into a single table.

Consolidated table of accuracy results taken from ISP Filtering Live Pilot Report

No results were published on the percentage of URLs that were blocked on the innocuous list of URLs, as was done for the participants blocking additional content. The results cannot be considered complete without figures providing an indication of the rate of over-blocking that occurred for filters blocking URLs on the ACMA blacklist only.

A filter blocking only those URLs listed on ACMA blacklist should in theory block fewer innocuous sites than a filter blocking additional categories of content as well as the ACMA blacklist. However, the results for filtering the ACMA blacklist only are crucial as ISPs will be required to block the content specified on this list for all Internet users under legislation the federal government intends to introduce into Parliament this year.

While the rate of over-blocking for filters blocking the ACMA blacklist alone is likely to be better, publishing just the results for trials of filters that block both the ACMA blacklist and additional categories of content puts the government in a convenient position when challenged by criticism of the filters' performance. Enex stated in the report that the percentages for the blocking of URLs on the innocuous list of URLs were high:

In terms of over-blocking the results of this trial show that, while an improvement on previous testing levels, this is still considered high.

The government might respond to criticism by stating that less over-blocking will occur with the proposed mandatory filter which will block URLs on the ACMA blacklist without providing any actual figures obtained from tests.

The case is similar with the feedback survey that was carried out for customers of the ISPs involved in the pilot. The customer feedback survey was not issued to customers of ISPs that filtered the ACMA blacklist only, as stated in the report.