COAG Discussions Focus On Terrorism, Federation And Taxation

The Council of Australian Governments met in Canberra and discussed a range of issues, including terrorism, reform of the Federation and the taxation system.

COAG

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, held a joint press conference following the meeting. He was accompanied by Premiers Baird, Napthine, Newman, Barnett, Weatherill and Hodgman, as well as the Territory Chief Ministers Gallagher and Giles. Felicity-Ann Lewis represented Local Government.

The State have agreed to introduce legislation to support federal laws covering the arrest, monitoring, investigation and prosecution of domestic extremists and returning foreign fighters.

COAG also agreed that the Federation and Tax Reform White Papers need to progress together. [Read more...]


Public Pessimism, Political Complacency: Restoring Trust, Reforming Labor – John Faulkner Speech

Senator John Faulkner has renewed his call for the ALP to reform itself, arguing that party reform is vital to tackling the public perception that politics has become a values-free competition for office and the spoils it can deliver.

FaulknerFaulkner tonight delivered the inaugural address of The Light on the Hill Society, sponsored by the Revesby Workers’ Club.

The ALP’s former Senate leader and minister in the Keating and Rudd governments, said: “The stench of corruption which has come to characterise the NSW Labor Party must be eliminated. Failing to act is not an option.”

He called for the banning of “the practice of factions, affiliates or interest groups binding parliamentarians in Caucus votes or ballots”, arguing that factional binding allowed “a group with 51% of a subfaction, which then makes up 51% of a faction, which in turn has 51% of the Caucus numbers, to force the entire Caucus to their position”.

Faulkner also called for reforms to political donation laws.

Faulkner called for major reform to the ALP’s internal operations and its association with trade unions, saying: “Labor’s model of delegated democracy was cutting edge – in 1891.” He said the cutting edge structures of the 19th century now work to prevent democracy and open debate in the ALP. Party conferences, state and national, should have a component of directly elected delegates. Faulkner also called for union members to be given a direct say, rather than have their opinions “filtered through layers of delegation”.

Trade union representation should be reduced over time to 20%, Faulkner said. The membership of the party should directly elect 60% of delegates to state conferences, with the other 20% coming from electorate councils.

Motions for party reform moved by Faulkner were defeated at the last NSW conference of the ALP.

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Transcript of Senator John Faulkner’s Address to The Light on the Hill Society.

Public Pessimism, Political Complacency: Restoring Trust, Reforming Labor

I have always believed that politics is worthwhile.

This is not, nowadays, a popular view.

Important issues are, we are told, ‘above politics’— because politics, by implication and expectation, are the province of the low road. [Read more...]


Government Widens Terms Of Reference For Trade Union Royal Commission; Criminal Conduct Probe, Reporting Date Extended

The federal government has widened the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into trade unions and given the inquiry an extra year to report.

The inquiry will now have the ability to investigate criminal conduct by unions. The December 2014 reporting date has been extended to December 2015.

The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, announced the changes at a press conference today.

Brandis

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is being conducted by the former High Court Justice John Dyson Heydon. It was established by the Abbott government in February this year.

Brandis said the government had accepted a suggestion by Dyson Heydon for the inclusion of an additional term of reference relating to criminal conduct.

In a letter to Brandis, Dyson Heydon said: “The inquiry thus far has revealed evidence of criminal conduct which includes widespread instances of physical and verbal violence, cartel conduct, secondary boycotts, contempt of court and other institutional orders, and the encouragement of others to commit these contempts. Some officials appear to regard their unions as having immunity not only from the norms and sanctions of the Australian legal system, but also from any social or community standard shared by other Australians… There are dimensions of criminal conduct revealed by the evidence thus far suggesting that a more thorough examination…is desirable.” [Read more...]


Interest Rates Stay On Hold For 14th Consecutive Month

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

The cash rate of 2.5% was set in August 2013 and has remained unchanged since then. It is the longest period of interest rate stability since 2005-06.

In a statement, the bank’s Governor, Glenn Stevens, said: “The exchange rate has declined recently, in large part reflecting the strengthening US dollar, but remains high by historical standards, particularly given the further declines in key commodity prices in recent months. It is offering less assistance than would normally be expected in achieving balanced growth in the economy. Looking ahead, continued accommodative monetary policy should provide support to demand and help growth to strengthen over time. Inflation is expected to be consistent with the 2–3 per cent target over the next two years.”

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

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. [Read more...]


Shorten Gives ALP Support To Iraq Commitment; Greens Opposed

The ALP has given support to the Abbott government’s commitment of fighter aircraft to the strikes against ISIL in Iraq, whilst the Greens have opposed the decision.

Shorten

The government announced today that Australia will provide up to eight Australian F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft to participate in the international coalition supporting Iraq. [Read more...]