NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell Denies Receiving $2979 Bottle Of Grange; Bruising Encounter With Media After ICAC Appearance

The New South Wales Liberal Premier, Barry O’Farrell, has denied receiving a $2979 bottle of Grange from Australian Water Holdings in what has been described as an attempt to butter him up over a public-private partnership proposal.

O'Farrell

Appearing at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), O’Farrell said he could not recall a phone call on April 20, 2011 to the then chief executive of Australian Water Holdings (AWH), Nick Di Girolamo. He denied receiving the wine or calling to thank Di Girolamo. [Read more...]


Abbott Government To Build Second Sydney Airport At Badgerys Creek

The federal government has announced that a second Sydney airport will be built at Badgerys Creek.

Abbott

Planning for the new airport is to start immediately, with construction beginning in 2016. The government says most of the cost will be met by a private sector operator.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss, made the announcement at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon.

They said the initial construction phase is expected to generate around 4,000 jobs. The airport development should provide 35,000 jobs by 2035, increasing to 60,000 jobs over time. An increase of almost $24 billion in Australian gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted by 2060.

Abbott presented the decision as an infrastructure package for western Sydney and stressed that his focus was on “roads first, airport second”.

Abbott said the government was not proposing a curfew similar to the one that applies at Kingsford-Smith. This is likely to be a contentious issue for Liberal and Labor MPs in the new airport’s vicinity.

The decision to build at Badgerys Creek brings to an end a debate which began in the 1960s. The Hawke government acquired the land at Badgerys Creek in the 1980s.

  • Listen to Abbott and Truss (22m – transcript below)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to the ALP’s Anthony Albanese comment (19m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to NSW ALP Opposition Leader John Robertson comment (8m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Media release from Tony Abbott, Prime Minister, and Warren Truss, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. [Read more...]


Brian Harradine, Long-Serving Independent Senator Expelled By ALP, Dies, 79

Brian Harradine, an influential independent senator from Tasmania, who was expelled by the ALP in 1975 following a long and bitter dispute in the aftermath of the 1950s Labor Split, has died at the age of 79.

Harradine was elected as an independent senator from Tasmania at the 1975 double dissolution election following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. He was re-elected five times (1980, 1983, 1987, 1993 and 1999) and served for 30 years. He chose not to contest the 2004 election and left the Senate on June 30, 2005.

At various times, Harradine’s vote was a crucial balance of power factor in the Senate, especially between 1996 and 1999 when he was instrumental in supporting the Wik legislation and voting to privatise Telstra. He voted against the Howard government’s GST legislation in 1999.

A socially conservative Catholic, Harradine was an organiser with the Federated Clerks Union in the 1950s. He was Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council and a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive from 1964 until 1976. He founded the Tasmanian division of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in 1967. [Read more...]


Liberals Clinging To Three Seats In WA Senate Election; Labor Thrashed As Greens Triumph And Palmer Surges

The Senate election re-run in Western Australia has resulted in swings against both major parties with the Liberals winning two seats and the ALP one. The Greens have significantly increased their vote and re-elected Scott Ludlam, whilst the Palmer United Party seems assured of winning a seat. The sixth position looks likely to be a contest between the Liberals and the ALP.

As counting continued late last night, the Liberal Party was assured of winning two of the six available seats on a primary vote of 33.71%, a fall of 5.49%. Senator David Johnston has been re-elected to a third term and Senator Michaelia Cash has been re-elected to a second term. [Read more...]


Interest Rates Remain On Hold As Reserve Bank Sees “Period Of Stability”

The Reserve Bank of Australia has left interest rates unchanged for the eighth consecutive month.

At its board meeting today, the RBA left the cash rate at 2.5%. The rate was last changed in August last year.

The Reserve’s Governor, Glenn Stevens, said rates were unlikely to change in the near future: “In the Board’s judgement, monetary policy is appropriately configured to foster sustainable growth in demand and inflation outcomes consistent with the target. On present indications, the most prudent course is likely to be a period of stability in interest rates.”

Statement from the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens.

Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision

At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.5 per cent.

Growth in the global economy was a bit below trend in 2013, but there are reasonable prospects of a pick-up this year. The United States economy, while affected by adverse weather, continues its expansion and the euro area has begun a recovery from recession, albeit a fragile one. Japan has recorded a significant pick-up in growth. China’s growth remains generally in line with policymakers’ objectives, though it may have slowed a little in early 2014. Commodity prices have declined from their peaks but in historical terms remain high. [Read more...]


Dame Quentin Bryce, 25th Governor-General Of Australia, Farewelled In Canberra

Two hours after the announcement that she had been made a Dame, Australia’s 25th Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, was farewelled at a reception at Parliament House tonight.

Bryce

Bryce’s official portrait, painted by artist Ralph Heimans, was unveiled during the farewell.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke in glowing terms of Bryce’s service and approach to the position of Governor-General. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Bryce’s son-in-law, also addressed the gathering. [Read more...]


Arise Dame Quentin And Sir Peter: Abbott Reintroduces Knights And Dames For “Pre-Eminent Australians”

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has announced that Knights and Dames will be reintroduced for “pre-eminent” Australians.

Abbott

The outgoing Governor-General will become Dame Quentin Bryce, whilst the new Governor-General will be Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Abbott said a small number of knights and dames would be created each year. He suggested the number would be four.

The honours would go to people who have been given public office rather than sought it. The award recognises that some people can never entirely return to private life after holding high office such as the Governor-General’s position.

The honours would add a “grace note” to Australia’s public life, Abbott said.

Abbott said the Queen had amended the Letters Patent for the Order of Australia to allow the introduction of knighthoods.

New Zealand has had a similar order of chivalry, known as the Order of Merit, since 1996.

Imperial honours were abolished by the Whitlam government over 40 years ago. They were briefly re-introduced under the Fraser government in the late 1970s but abolished again by the Hawke Labor government in 1983. Even the conservative administration of John Howard did not seek to reintroduce knighthoods.

The former head of the Australian Republican Movement, Malcolm Turnbull, currently Minister for Communications in the Abbott government said republicans should not lose too much sleep over Abbott’s announcement. See full statement below.

  • Listen to Abbott’s press conference – transcript below (18m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Watch Channel 7 News report (3m)
  • Watch a response from the NSW ALP (25s)

Media release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A new honour for pre-eminent Australians

On my recommendation, Her Majesty the Queen has amended the Letters Patent constituting the Order of Australia.

Knights and Dames in the Order of Australia will be approved by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. [Read more...]