1. Mining invades the ABC
This report gives a factual account of four appointments, two each to the ABC and SBS boards, recently announced by the Government.
The one that raised eyebrows is Vanessa Guthrie who chairs the Minerals Council of Australia and was formerly CEO of Toro Energy. She is also the deputy chair of the Western Australia Cricket Association and an independent director of the Murlpirrmurra Connection.
She’s a woman and from WA, but there is little doubt the appointment has ideological intent.
- The government has been fiercely critical of the ABC’s coverage of energy, with Resources Minister Matt Canavan accusing it in December of running “fake news” as part of a campaign against the proposed Adani coalmine in Queensland.
The ABC was also accused of bias against the NSW Shenhua coal mine proposal but was cleared by a review.
The Institute of Public Affairs – which has spawned a number of Coalition MPs – claims the ABC has a “systemic bias”, giving the renewable energy industry favourable coverage but showing hostility towards coal and other fossil fuels.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review last year, Dr Guthrie attacked social media activism against fossil fuels, taking aim at “inner-city smashed avocado eaters” for unfairly targeting coal and the minerals industry more broadly…….
Guthrie didn’t make the shortlist of the review panel. The Government went past them and plucked her out.
2. If you complain in public, Centrelink will come after you
Labor MP Linda Burney has asked the Australian Federal Police to determine whether Human Services Minister Alan Tudge broke the law by disclosing a welfare recipient’s personal information to a journalist.
What happened was that this:
- Blogger Andie Fox wrote an opinion piece for Fairfax Media early in February claiming Centrelink had “terrorised” her over a debt she claimed she did not owe.
A few weeks later, her personal details were supplied to a journalist who wrote a comment piece from the Government’s perspective, raising the prospect that Centrelink had been “unfairly castigated”.
Public servants have told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra the “protected” information was collated by DHS officials and approved for release by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge’s office.
Centrelink claims they do this to correct the record, and, it seems, as a deterrent to others.
The Guardian says the information mistakenly included unauthorised information about her relationship history, including when she separated from her partner.
There are stories that public servants are trawling through social media sites looking for whingers.
Ben Eltham looks at the issue with his usual thoroughness and finds statements made by Kathryn Campbell, the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, to Senate’s Community Affairs committee distinctly Orwellian. Any data supplied to any department can be used against you.
3. Penalty rates are freaking the Government out
Penalty rates have become the Government’s No 1 problem, says Phillip Coorey in the AFR. Turnbull’s strategy has been to let them happen and carry on about Bill Shorten’s hypocrisy. After eight days he’s decided to defend them as being a ‘good thing’.
The only problem with this is that a lot of people struggling to keep it all together are taking a pay cut, while Turnbull, ScoMo and all are planning to make costs-of-living a major theme in the May budget. Abbott, helpful as always is goading that “Against Labor’s pitch of high wages versus low wages, we need to pitch high wages versus no wages.”
The real problem is that ReachTEL polling of five LNP held regional seats shows that all five could fall on this issue alone.
The seats are:
- The five seats are Page on the far-north coast of New South Wales; Dawson in northern Queensland; Corangamite in Victoria’s coastal west; Leichhardt in Queensland’s far north; and the electorate of Brisbane.
Katherine Murphy reckons penalty rates have derailed the Coalition, just as it was getting up a head of steam on coal.
4. Christensen won’t go over a cliff with Turnbull’s mob
One of those five seats, Dawson, is held by the rather noisy George Christensen.
Around 20 or so regional MPs and senators, including Malcolm Turnbull, gathered in Bundaberg in Queensland’s Wide Bay on this weekend to talk tactics for the upcoming state election and what to do about One Nation.
Christensen declared the the government was going over a cliff and he wasn’t going to go with them, completely upstaging the meeting.
I think it’s question of when, not whether.
5. Big companies doing well
- Company profits have skyrocketed, while real wages have fallen. This is the harsh reality of the class war being pursued by Australia’s big-business rulers, as underlined by the latest Bureau of Statistics figures released on February 27.
In the last three months of last year, profits surged by a massive 20%, while wages fell by 0.5%. Over 2016, profits were up 26%, while wages grew by a mere 1%, less than the inflation rate of 1.5% — effectively a wage cut.
This profit explosion was based on an increase in mining corporation earnings of almost 50% and a construction sector profit rise of 32%.