Monthly Archives: September 2019

RBA governor called to testify before parliamentary committee

THE Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, his former deputy and the whistleblower who exposed alleged corruption inside the Reserve’s subsidiaries will all be called to testify about the scandal before Federal Parliament.
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In a development that will intensify pressure on Mr Stevens, a joint parliamentary committee intends to grill the governor, his former deputy Ric Battellino and Brian Hood, the former RBA banknote executive turned police witness.

The revelation that the trio have been called to the October 4 joint committee comes after explosive evidence was aired yesterday in a Melbourne court about how the RBA had allegedly persecuted Mr Hood after he became a whistleblower.

The three men will appear before the joint committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, which is examining Commonwealth agencies’ exposure to overseas corruption.

The decision to call the men to testify comes after a series of reports in the Herald revealing:

Growing evidence that contradicts Mr Stevens’ previous parliamentary testimony that the first the Reserve knew of corruption inside its banknote firm Securency was after the Herald’s 2009 expose´ in 2009, two years after Mr Hood told Mr Battellino about his allegations in June 2007.

Mr Hood said yesterday that Mr Battellino had “listened intently” throughout a detailed briefing, which included allegations that a Malaysian agent working for NPA and Securency had admitted paying bribes.

“We discussed all the matters … that’s why it took 90 minutes,” Mr Hood said.

When asked by defence barrister Jason Gullaci whether he stood by his claim that he had been forced out of his job by RBA assistant governor Bob Rankin in the face of contradictory evidence, Mr Hood told the court that his job had been ”scrapped”.

In an email to police in 2010, aired in court, Mr Hood revealed he was considering suing the RBA over his claimed mistreatment, saying: “My career has been damaged in the process … I am of the view that the RBA/NPA treatment of me was harsh.”

The Reserve Bank declined to comment yesterday.

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Muslims work to stop repeat of riot as police hunt leaders

POLICE say they are closing in on those responsible for the anti-American violence on the weekend, as the Muslim community and national authorities try to stave off a second wave of demonstrations planned for this weekend.
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The Lebanese Muslim Association and the Islamic Council of NSW were due to meet last night in Lakemba to call for calm in their community as the actions of a few were resoundingly condemned by politicians.

Police were working to identify those who used text messages and social networking sites such as Facebook to organise the protests, which quickly turned into a riot.

One senior officer said the violence was unlikely to have been the work of just one group.

”It appears to have taken on a life of its own,” he said.

The influential leader of the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah has called for more protests over the anti-Islam film.

In a TV broadcast, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the world needed to know Muslims ”would not be silent in the face of this insult”.

Much discussion among Muslims in Sydney centred on two specific groups – followers of the controversial Sheikh Feiz Mohammad, who once said a rape victim had ”no one to blame but herself”, and another fringe group of Muslims who believe in the so-called ”sixth pillar” of Islam which refers to armed conflict in defence of Islam.

Others pointed the finger at the political group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which on Sunday refused to condemn the violence, but continued to deny involvement.

Attempts to contact the sheikh failed.

Messages encouraging people to attend the protest circulated on Facebook on Friday.

One, from Hana Zaarour, said: ”It might get messy sis coz it hasn’t been council approved”.

Online commentary continued yesterday. Several protesters expressed outrage at the actions of the police and vowed to protest again this weekend.

”It wouldve turned out different if it was organised properly as i intended on doing next week,” said Salafa Em Uthman.

Jamal Daoud, from the Social Justice Network, said the actions of some protesters on Saturday were wrong and something had to be done.

”It has to stop. This is enough. They are hurting the Muslim image, they’re hurting the Muslim community, and they’re hurting the harmony in the community,” he said.

Politicians condemned the violence. The federal Deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishop, said her ”fear is that extremist elements in Australia and other countries are using this YouTube video to incite hatred and incite violence in pursuit of long-held goals”.

In Parliament yesterday, the opposition sought to implicate the government in the riots by attacking the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, for not cancelling the visa of a visiting Hizb ut-Tahrir preacher, Taji Mustafa.

The opposition said Mr Mustafa should have been banned because his organisation had called for Israel’s military destruction, and condoned the killing of Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Mr Bowen noted that the Howard government chose not to proscribe the group in 2007 and it was still legal in Britain and the United States.

Ms Bishop hinted that a Coalition government would ban the group and she described Mr Mustafa as a ”hate preacher”.

But she did not condone comments by the Liberal senator Cory Bernardi on his blog that the unrest was a consequence of multiculturalism, which was undermining Australia’s rule of law and Judeo-Christian values.

with Lisa Davies and Stephanie Gardiner

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

How paparazzi get pics that make royals snap

Long shot … Ben Rushton aims for his subject using a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV camera, a 600 millimetre lens and a 2x converter to double the magnification of the lens. He shot with a 1/10000th second shutter speed. Photographer Ben Rushton takes a photo of Gabriella Duddy on North Bondi from St Peters park with a high-power lens.
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Gabriella Duddy poses on North Bondi to demonstrate how the paparazzi was able to snap the topless photo of Kate Middleton.

PICTURE Prince William and his wife reclining on the beach. Then imagine a photographer, standing more than a kilometre away to capture every move with a huge lens.

That is how far away paparazzi were estimated to have been standing when snapping photographs of the topless Duchess of Cambridge on a private holiday with her husband in southern France last week.

The photographs have been published in the French magazine Closer and in an Irish newspaper, sparking widespread condemnation and questions about how far is too far when intruding on the privacy of the royals.

The photos are understood to have been taken using powerful, long lenses by photographers standing on a public road or footpath at a distance estimated at between 800 metres and 1.3 kilometres away.

Herald photographer Ben Rushton climbed to the top of Marks Park yesterday morning and zoomed in on Gabriella Duddy lying on her towel at the far end of the beach.

To take her picture he required camera equipment worth almost $20,000. He used a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV camera, a 600 millimetre lens and a 2x converter to double the magnification of the lens. He shot with a 1/1000th second shutter speed to steady the image, which shook under the extreme magnification. The lens was so heavy Rushton mounted it on a tripod to stop it snapping off the camera.

”I felt like a sniper,” he said.

The military reference is appropriate. Another Herald photographer, Brendan Esposito, said the industry jargon for a long-range shot like the one of the duchess was ”target acquired”.

”There’s some suggestion those photos have been taken by a drone aircraft,” Esposito said. ”That’s the talk in the industry.”

Ms Duddy, who agreed to be photographed, said she felt uneasy to think she could be captured in a clear image by a man she could not see, standing so far away.

”You think you’re safe,” said Ms Duddy, 21, who lives in Bellevue Hill. ”She [the duchess] probably thought she was safe and private.”

The British press has branded the editors of Closer as ”grinning perverts” while the photographer has been labelled a ”peeping Tom”.

Even the notorious tabloid The Sun, which sensationally ran photographs of Prince Harry naked in Las Vegas and features topless glamour models on page three, has described the photographs as ”grossly intrusive”.

One photographer who filmed the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing has been revealed as a woman named Valerie Suau.

An anonymous colleague of Suau said she did not take photographs of the duchess topless, but sunbathing in her bikini.

”Valerie is concerned by the fuss and is keeping a low profile,” the colleague told the Mail on Sunday in London.

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

State royalties to cost more than mining tax – report

“Royalty increases are going to be a far bigger impost” … Minerals Council of Australia chief executive, Mitch HookeINCREASES in royalties charged by conservative state governments will cost many mining companies more in the short term than the minerals resource rent tax, the industry’s peak body says.
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The prediction raises serious questions, both for the federal government’s budget estimates and the opposition’s argument that Labor’s new taxes are to blame for mining’s waning international competitiveness.

The Coalition’s spokesman on resources, Ian Macfarlane, said a new analysis for the Minerals Council of Australia by Port Jackson Partners, which found that rising costs and falling productivity meant that miners were becoming relatively less competitive, showed the government was treating the industry like a ”cash cow”.

However, the council’s chief executive, Mitch Hooke, said that in today’s market conditions the $3.3 billion in royalty rises announced this year by the Queensland, NSW and West Australian governments would, over the next four years, cost miners more than the mining tax, which is supposed to raise $13.4 billion in the same period.

State governments had thought that their royalty increases would effectively be paid not by mining companies but by the federal government, which had promised to reimburse miners for the royalty rises that were announced after the mining tax came into effect. With commodity prices falling, many miners think they will not have to pay a federal profits-based tax, meaning the government will not have to reimburse anything because there is no liability to be rebated against.

”In the current market circumstances, the royalty increases are going to be a far bigger impost,” Mr Hooke said. ”You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that as prices come off, the [mining tax] is going to be very slim pickings, which means there will be no opportunity to rebate the royalty increases.”

Mining companies were incensed when the Queensland government announced coal royalty rises of about $1.6 billion in the next four years, on top of NSW government royalty increases worth $1.5 billion and a West Australian increase of $800 million.

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

Reform is essential, say business groups

Proposals aimed solely at increasing revenue “should be treated with extreme caution” … Australian Industry Group chief executive, Innes Willox.PEAK business groups support increasing the GST or widening its base, but say it must be part of a broader tax reform package rather than a money-making exercise for the states.
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A decade ago, the Senate amended the tax to exempt fresh food, health and education.

The federal government and the opposition have flatly ruled out any change but business groups said the tax would be worth increasing if the proceeds were used to cut inefficient state taxes and give corporate Australia a tax break.

The chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, said any proposals that aimed at just increasing revenue ”should be treated with extreme caution”.

”These recent proposals are not proposals for tax reform; they are proposals to give more money to the states and territories,” he said.

“AI Group agrees that Australia’s tax system could be improved by lifting the share raised by more efficient taxes, including consumption taxes, and reducing the share raised by less efficient taxes, such as company tax, transaction taxes and other inefficient taxes levied by the states and territories. This is a debate we have to have to drive tax reform.”

The chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, concurred.

”Sooner or later, Australia will need to have a conversation about comprehensive tax reform to meet the needs of future generations. The GST will have to be part of that,” she said.

”Comprehensive tax reform bears no resemblance to short term ad hoc tinkering; it requires a long term plan.”

The Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury, said the Liberal premiers were not happy with just slashing spending on health and education. ”Now they want to hit them with the GST,” he said.

To change the GST, the approval of all the states and the Commonwealth is required.

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