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…]


ALP And Greens Back Palmer Motion For Select Committee Inquiry Into Queensland Government

The Senate has voted to establish a Select Committee to inquire into aspects of Queensland government administration.

The motion was moved by Palmer United Party senators and supported by the ALP and Greens. It was carried by 30 votes to 27.

The 5-member Select Committee on Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration will comprise 2 ALP, 1 Green, 1 PUP and 1 Coalition members. The PUP Senate leader, Glenn Lazarus, will chair the committee.

The Committee is required to report by March 27, 2015, around the time the Queensland state election is due.

The Committee is charged with inquiring into Commonwealth funds allocated to Queensland since March 26, 2012, when the LNP government led by Premier Campbell Newman took office. It will investigate judicial independence and the separation of powers, environmental law, the administration of prisons and detention without trial. The Committee will also examine Commonwealth oversight of coal seam gas projects in Queensland. [Read more…]


Islamic State Beheadings Plot Alleged Following Terrorist Raid Arrests In Sydney And Brisbane

Federal Police raids this morning have resulted in a 22-year old man, Omarjan Azari, appearing in a Sydney court charged with planning a terrorist act designed to “shock, horrify and terrify”.

Azari is accused of conspiring with Mohammad Baryalei, the man described as a “top terrorist recruiter” in Australia. The arrest is one of about 15 resulting from raids across western Sydney and Brisbane. The raids, involving 800 police and described as the largest in Australian history, took place as a result of information gleaned from an intercepted telephone conversation in recent days.

Media reports say the arrests related to a plot to capture and behead a random member of the public. Reports say the plan involved filming the beheading as a propaganda tool for the Islamic State movement (also known as ISIL or IS) in Iraq. The basis and veracity of these claims is uncertain. The Australian Federal Police have been guarded in their comments on the raids. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “This is not just suspicion, this is intent.”

Political leaders were quick to respond to the raids during the day.

Newman

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman held a press conference with Police Commissioner Ian Stewart. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten commented on the raids, as did the ALP’s Immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. [Read more…]


ALP Wins Queensland Stafford By-Election With 18.6% Swing

The Queensland ALP has won the Stafford by-election with a swing of 18.6%, regaining a seat lost in the LNP landslide of 2012 and propelling a Royal Brisbane Hospital surgeon into parliament.

Lynham

Dr. Anthony Lynham, a maxillofacial surgeon, will become the new member for Stafford, replacing Chris Davis, the LNP member who resigned after a series of disputes with the Newman government, which included his dismissal as Assistant Minister for Health. Davis was also a medical specialist before his election, working as the Director of Medicine at the Prince Charles Hospital.

Situated in the inner-north of Brisbane, Stafford is an electorate once-abolished and recreated in 2001. It was held by the ALP between 2001 and 2012. There was a 14.4% swing against the ALP in 2012.

The LNP’s primary vote has fallen 16.9% to 33.4%, whilst the ALP’s primary has risen 17.2% to 50.7%.

The ALP’s two-party-preferred vote is 61.5%, a swing of 18.6%. The LNP margin before the by-election was 7.1%. [Read more…]


Tony Fitzgerald Warns Of Abuse Of Power In Queensland

Tony Fitzgerald, the man who led the inquiry into corruption in Queensland’s Bjelke-Petersen government in the 1980s, has issued a statement warning against the abuse of power and describing Queensland today as “effectively a single-party State”.

FitzgeraldFitzgerald, a former judge of the Federal Court of Australia, said the first term of Campbell Newman’s government has seen attacks on the judiciary and judicial independence, emasculation of the anti-corruption commission, and interference with the electoral system.

The Liberal National Party government has “confirmed the critical importance of adequate checks and balances”, Fitzgerald says.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry of the 1980s contributed to the resignation of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the jailing of Police Commissioner Terry Lewis, and the resignation and jailing of several Cabinet ministers.

Text of statement issued by Tony Fitzgerald.

Statement from Tony Fitzgerald

Queensland is extremely vulnerable to the misuse and abuse of power. There are almost no constitututional limits on the power of the State’s single house of parliament. Unless there is an effective parliamentary opposition to advocate alternative policies, criticise government errors, denounce excesses of power and reflect, inform and influence public opinion, the checks and balances needed for democracy are entirely missing. [Read more…]