March in May: Budget ‘a disgrace’

‘We live in a country that can afford to take care of everyone.’ Protesters at March in May.

 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KIAN HALL

The rumbling hum of protest fills the air as people gather in Belmore Park, Sydney CBD, for the March in May. People, young and old gather to show their anger, their disillusionment, and their sense of betrayal for the government. People hold signs and banners protesting, among other things, the proposed Medicare levy, cuts to the arts, cuts to education, human rights abuses of asylum seekers, and environmental issues.

The anger at the recent budget is evident everywhere you look with the claim of ‘class warfare’ hanging in the air and on banners. People are angry about the attacks on the most vulnerable, the poorest, the elderly, the disabled and the sick. One of the protesters, a young mother said, ‘We live in a country that can afford to take care of everyone.’

With a country doing so well economically, there are few arguments against her statement. According to her she someone who would typically vote for liberal, she’s financially well off, her husband and her both work and have two young children, but she is still at the March in May, protesting against this government, even though the changes he proposes wouldn’t really have much negative impact for her.

Other protesters described the budget as ‘an attack on young people’, ‘ridiculous’, and a ‘disgrace’. Some described the Abbott government as ‘useless’, and even as tyrannical. At one point the crowd chanted ‘One term Tony’. The anger and disillusionment towards the government was not limited to the Liberal party, with many protesters talking about Labor being the party that brought in a lot of the policies they were protesting about.

Reasons for attended the march ranged from wanting to do more than just comment on social media, to ‘everything’. Some identified their main reason for attending as being about the environment, others about the human rights abuses of asylum seekers. Most said something about the budget, and others about Abbott being ‘Hell bent on dismantling everything labour has worked for’. One middle aged man gave his reason for attending as being that ‘Bill Shorten needs to grow a set.’

Whatever the reason for each individual attending, the march sent a clear message to Tony Abbott; that there are a lot of Australians that are very unhappy with his government. With over ten thousand attendees across the country, the March in May was a clear statement of dissatisfaction with the policies of a government that has, according to the protest’s organiser, broken 27 promises in just 8 months.

 

Morrison: First world status not for all

Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. Photo: DIBP Images/Flickr

 

By Charlotte Mutoro

 

Asylum seekers from Manus Island who are not granted a refugee visa to stay at the equivalent of a ‘three star hotel facility’ on Nauru may now end up in Cambodia.

Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison met Cambodia’s Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Thursday for talks that concentrated on “regional cooperation to deal with asylum seeker movement”, according to a Morrison spokesman.

“We’ve got a positive response (from Cambodia),” Mr Morrison told Sky News on Thursday.

The process of determining refugee status is underway on Nauru with 20 refugee visas already issued.

The 5-year visas’ allow the refugees to live and work in the community with accommodation provided in Lorengau, a town to the west of the detention centre.  Travel abroad is permitted with re-entry back into PNG, but access to Australia is barred.

Refugees settling on the island will be housed, in the short-term, in prefabricated units fitted with air-conditioning, mesh fences and a 24-hour security watch. PNG MP Ron Knight, who represents Manus Island, likened the accommodation to a three star hotel.

“Many of those being resettled on Nauru have skills, capability – things that Nauruans would welcome in their community,” Mr Morrison said.

Asylum seekers who are declined refugee status in Nauru could now be bound for Cambodia.

“No one in their right mind believes that Minister Morrison is doing anything beyond wiping Australia’s hands of our international responsibilities,” Australian Green’s senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on ABC Radio.

The Abbott Government is just “looking for the next poor country to dump” refugees, she said.

 

Australians need to stop complaining

Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Troy/Flickr

 

By Yvette Jurd

 Head of the Government’s Commission of Audit, Tony Shepherd, weighed in on the budget debate overnight, saying the Commission agonised about spreading the burden of budget repair, and that all sectors must sacrifice.

”I think it’s a sad reflection on the modern Australian attitude that they can’t see that all areas have to make a contribution and they look at it as a narrow, sectional issue” he said.

His input comes amid yesterday’s comments by Liberal backbencher George Christensen, who posted a photo of a child in poverty on social media and implied criticisms of the budget lacked perspective:

He followed up with:


 
The comments from Shepherd and Christensen highlight the disconnect between the Australian public and the Government, with Greg McKenna of the Business Insider pointing out that the problem with selling this budget is the raft of broken promises, and the shock the budget caused.

“It is as incumbent on the Government to make the case as to why the changes are necessary as it is for the public to recognise a greater imperative than their own personal impact” he said.

The Abbott Government has faced protest from a range of groups, including students, pensioners, welfare recipients, state governments and the health and education sectors.

Mr Shepherd defended the axing of the educational Gonski reforms, saying they were a “fine idea” but that the audit commissioners decided that to maintain the $5 billion a year extra funding would come at the expense of other sectors.

”We would have loved to have kept education funding at the levels of Gonski but we had to go through every program and bring [spending] under control. To maintain Gonski you must answer the question: do we cut hospitals more? Or cut disabled pensions more? Lower the rate of growth in the aged pension?” he said.

Prime Minister Abbott said Labor’s Gonski commitments were “pie in the sky” when he encountered 100 pro-Gonski protesters in Hobart on Thursday.

‘We are continuing to increase funding, it’s just that we are not continuing to increase it at the rate of the former government’s promises” Mr Abbott said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said the government are “a lazy, reckless, indifferent mob of swindlers… when they say we’re not going to have anything more to do with the funding of schools.”

Sam Alexander, Daily Tele intern

My time at The Daily Telegraph cannot be correctly described to represent how much of an amazing an experience it really was. In what was an amazing, eye-opening, invaluable opportunity, I give my never-ending thanks to my TAFE teachers and the Telegraph’s very own Josh Massoud.

Beginning on Monday (21/04/14) I was amazed at the initiative I was allowed to take, in that you really did your own work – you had to make the effort.

The Telegraph blessed me with some of the most incredible opportunities I never saw myself experiencing. Allowing me to independently attend media conferences, go to games and access change rooms after the match, interview players and coaches, make phone calls to sources and use the information to create my own articles, it has helped me grow as a person and student.

Creating my own story ideas using independent research was amazing in itself, but the publishing of these stories in the paper, with my name printed above absolutely blew me away. The sense of accomplishment that I have so rarely felt at an academic level will not be forgotten.

Finally, my formal thanks to The Daily Telegraph. I cannot describe how much I appreciate their provision of such an opportunity.

Sam continues to write sports reports for the NRL’s Big League Magazine and online site Sportal. He has completed a Certificate 4 in Screen & Media (Journalism), and is enrolled in the Diploma of Screen & Media (Journalism) in semester 2, 2014.

Kira-Lea Dargin, journalist & businesswoman

I am a 24-year-old businesswoman, entrepreneur (so they say) and mother of three. I have a background in modelling and Cert III qualification in Hair & Makeup. During 2011 I started out as a beauty assistant to the beauty editor with in Australian publication Pacific Magazines, based with in Prevention Magazine.

Following on from this I developed my own small business known as Aboriginal Model Management Australia, which over the past 2 years has flourished and since seen me named in the Stanfords Who’s who 2013 as a rising entrepreneur.

I have also gone on to study a Diploma of Business in Public Relations and a Diploma in Screen & Media Journalism at Petersham TAFE. In 2013 I became the first ever Australian Indigenous Fashion & Beauty columnist, currently contributing monthly style articles to the South Sydney Herald. I have covered every national runway show in Australia including Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival Sydney, Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane, Melbourne Fashion Festival, Adelaide Fashion Festival, Perth Fashion Festival, Perth Caged Fashion Event plus many others. I also covered my first international event during New York Fashion Week 2013.

In the last 12months I have featured in Cleo Magazine, Inspire Magazine, South Sydney Herald, NITV, SBS and Channel 7. Aside from my love of fashion I spend two days a week with Beauty PR house ‘PR Chicks’ where my duties include media liaison, press release development, monthly mail outs, client reports and event planning. I am also the Australian Agent for ‘The Synergy Events Emerging Trends Shows’ in London, Boston & NYC contracted bi-seasonal.

Kira-Lea starts (another!) job as a Fashion Assistant at InStyle Magazine this week.

Sydney’s urban art

STORY AND PHOTOS BY JAMES SHERIDAN

 
‘Graffiti’ refers to the obtrusive art that is not confined to a canvas, but instead makes its abode on urban landscapes. Sydney’s city habitat is no exception to this, however not all the city inhabitants welcome this species of art.

The graffiti scene causes conflict between councils and communities on some occasions because of its obtrusive nature. This obtrusive nature has prompted legislation to combat this style of expression. The legislation the NSW government enacted to specifically combat graffiti is the Graffiti Control Act (2008). The legislation has undergone numerous amendments, one of which was repealed in 2012. The 2014 Amendment Bill aimed to tighten “clean up” punishments and raise the penalty rate to a maximum fine of $440, according to a proposal speech held in September by NSW Parliament, and which is still in discussion.  

Another more passive method of controlling graffiti which holds agreement between some in the art community and government are graffiti walls. The walls aim to provide an area for Sydney graffiti artists to use their style of art in a legal manner and gain more practice developing their craft. They have also lessened the rate of vandalism (the category garffiti falls within) but according to psychologists and other artists, not enough. Sydney community centres receive 1,000 calls a day in reports of this form of vandalism, a spokeswoman from one centre claimed. Also in the city graffiti clean-ups are held regularly but are hindered on occasion by conditions of the Act. These procedures were placed to stop accidental removal of graffiti works which are protected, such as works by famous street artist Banksy, or those commissioned by property owners.

Graffiti itself can be a political tool used by artists to state their opinions in a way that differs from a simple mark denoting ownership of a certain area, very much like residents of Pompeii did in their time. This, like any art, spurs differences of opinion. One Sydney dweller suggested that “good” graffiti had to have thought, tell something, and show talent.

However despite the legal ramifications many artists have clung to the adrenalin rush they feel when painting graffiti. The human mind will cause this chemical reaction when we break a social taboo or law due to the social risk involved.  This factor concerns police in their attempt to stop this form of vandalism. Most cases of vandalism concern juvenile offenders because of the peer social factors involved. In Sydney’s socio-economically challenged western suburbs, minor crimes such as vandalism are recorded in higher levels than in to the city. In some places, “legal” artists are helping out by directing upcoming young artists to embrace their style butrestrict it to canvas or a legal wall. In this way artists who condemn vandalism help with the education factor, and in their way help reduce the vandalism they oppose.
 

Tina Zunic, journalist

I’m currently working at the Cooma Monaro Express as a journalist. I’ve been here for seven weeks now and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. Because it is a small office, I find that I experience a lot of hands-on work which I love! I’m often running around interviewing people and taking photos, then when I get back to the office I can type it all up and submit it for the paper. It may sound like a lot of work, but it is extremely rewarding seeing your piece of work in the paper for the community to see and when you get feedback from the community that’s even better. 

I find that TAFE prepared me well as it was practical and extremely hands on (Voxpoppin’ is probably one of the best things we could have learnt, because you face A LOT of rejection as a journalist. Also, our ‘interviews’ class, because it helped me develop so many skills that I use now when interviewing people everyday). 

I finished my degree of Communications and Media at UOW last year. It sounds crazy but I learnt more in my one year at TAFE than my two years at uni and I don’t hesitate to tell EVERYONE that!

Tina completed the Diploma of Communications and Media (Journalism) in 2012.

Breaking News | 16 May

Reverend Tim Costello Photo Courtesy: Andrew M Leong/Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Flickr

By Leon Elia

 

World Vision Australia Chief, Reverend Tim Costello has weighed in on the GST debate saying it should include fresh food and education. His opinion on the GST’s base has completely reversed since it was implemented by his brother, Peter Costello.

The state governments are furious at being placed in a position to either raise the tax, or broaden it’s base due to the federal government cutting $80 billion out of school and hospitals over the next decade.

Mr Costello said there should be an “an adult conversation” about expanding the GST to “the broadest base possible…To actually fund a Gonski (schools reform) and national disability scheme, to not smash our promises to the world’s poor as we have done in the foreign aid budget.”

“If you broaden the base there’s $15bn of recurrent savings and that choice, when it’s only $3.5bn from the Medicare co-payment and a $1.3bn saving over four years from the Newstart. You’ve actually got choices that reflect moral priorities.

“The starting principle should be don’t exclude anything because it’s simpler, clearer and more transparent, and then build that back into the compensation for those that are poor.”

“I think a broadening of the GST rather than raising the rate is probably the fairest way. Australia has one of the narrowest bases in the OECD,” he said.

The state governments have agreed to meet on Sunday to form a reply to what they believe is the federal government’s attempt to force them to raise or broaden the tax’s base.

Queensland premier Campbell Newman said  “They see the GST issue is a naked attempt by the federal government to get the states and territories essentially to wear a political issue,” Mr Newman said.

“We don’t want to impose extra taxes, higher taxes on people, particularly when it’s a federal government budgetary issue that’s prompting this whole thing.”

When the GST was implemented in 2000, Reverend Costello told the ABC “I strongly supported GST not going on food and (was) very glad about that outcome, but when nearly 26 per cent of Australians now draw their primary source of income from social security, when the tax base is narrowing fast, if we’re going to support the poor long term, we did have to broaden the tax base,”

According to the Australian Financial Review former Prime Minister John Howard said broadening the GST base was “overwhelmingly sensible,”

“If the GST had applied to food, as it should have – and it would have but for the actions of the Senate – we would have now seen about $10 billion to $11 billion a year at least flowing to the states,”

The Australian quoted former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett saying “I have advocated for a long time, whether you like it or not, we should broaden the GST,”

“Both parties said no to it in the election campaign and that is to Australia’s detriment. If you applied it to everything you would probably raise another $40 billion.”

 

 

Socceroos World Cup Squad Named


The Socceroos’  2010 FIFA World Cup jet, Photo Courtesy: Maarten Visser

By Olivia Cvetanovski

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou  has named the 30-man squad for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup. The team are in Group B and will come up against rivals, Spain, Netherlands and Chile. It will be one desperate, wild ride ahead, crucial for survival for these boys.

“Hopping Our Way Into History” is the team’s official slogan and will be splashed on the team bus for the Socceroo’s, which will drive our boys on tour through Brazil.

The official Socceroos 2014 squad for the tour of the cup consists of:

Goalkeepers
Mark BIRIGHITTI (Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA), Eugene GALEKOVIC (Adelaide United FC, AUSTRALIA), Mitchell LANGERAK (B.V. Borussia 09 Dortmund, GERMANY), Mat RYAN (Club Brugge KV, BELGIUM)

Defenders
Jason DAVIDSON (SC Heracles Almelo, NETHERLANDS), Ivan FRANJIC (Brisbane Roar FC, AUSTRALIA), Curtis GOOD (Dundee United FC, SCOTLAND), Ryan McGOWAN (Shandong Luneng Taishan FC, CHINA), Matthew SPIRANOVIC (Western Sydney Wanderers FC, AUSTRALIA), Alex WILKINSON (Jeonbuk Hyundai FC, KOREA REPUBLIC), Luke WILKSHIRE (FK Dinamo Moscow, RUSSIA), Bailey WRIGHT (Preston North End FC, ENGLAND)

Midfielders
Oliver BOZANIC (FC Luzern, SWITZERLAND), Mark BRESCIANO (Al Gharafa, QATAR), Joshua BRILLANTE (Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA), James HOLLAND (FK Austria Vienna, AUSTRIA), Mile JEDINAK (Crystal Palace FC, ENGLAND), Massimo LUONGO (Swindon Town FC, ENGLAND), Matthew McKAY (Brisbane ROAR FC, AUSTRALIA), Mark MILLIGAN (Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA), Tommy OAR (FC Utrecht, NETHERLANDS), Tommy ROGIC (Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA), Adam SAROTA (FC Utrecht, NETHERLANDS), James TROISI (Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA), Dario VIDOSIC (FC Sion, SWITZERLAND)

Forwards
Tim CAHILL (New York Red Bulls, USA), Ben HALLORAN (Fortuna Dusseldorf, GERMANY), Josh KENNEDY (Nagoya Grampus 8, JAPAN), Matthew LECKIE (FSV Frankfurt 1899, GERMANY), Adam TAGGART (Newcastle Jets FC, AUSTRALIA)

Postecoglou has taken a risk with the young squad, aiming for the development of the future generation of Australian football.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is set to kick off on Thursday 12th June, and will end Sunday 13th, July.

Millions lost as multinationals dodge tax

Google Headquarters, Photo courtesy: Robert Scoble/Flickr

 

By Charlotte Mutoro

Multinational companies like Google that do business in Australia are coming under fire for the way that they calculate income tax; paying very low or no tax as a result.

Hong Kong based companies Cheung Kong Infrastructure Limited (CKI) and Power Asset Holdings hold major stakes in electricity distribution networks in Victoria and South Australia. They were accused by the Australian Tax Office last year of failing to pay more than $750 million in taxes according to The Australian Financial Review.The tax owed dates back to 1999.

“Australia is open for business, and we welcome foreign investment when it is not contrary to the national interest,” treasurer Joe Hockey said.

Yet in Victoria, where the state’s energy infrastructure has been having a major overhaul the tax payer has been paying out.

‘In Victoria, they have upgraded their whole system using taxpayer’s money” said Sharka, an independent researcher from Melbourne.

“I would love to have a business which makes the tax payers pay for it’ she says. ‘$2.4 billion from tax payers’ money has been invested into upgrading the system for this Hong Kong Company….. It’s absurd”

CKI’s market capitalisation was HK$120 billion (around A$16 billion) by the end of March this year, and they had a 23.07% the company shareholding in SA Power Networks in South Australia, as well as Powercor Australia Limited, and CitiPower I Pty Ltd in Victoria.

Spark Infrastructure Holdings (SIH) has been involved in a tax dispute in regards to its business Victoria Power Networks, and according to the Financial Times agreed to make a part payment of $12.5 million at the end of 2013 against its 2009 tax assessment. SIH also lists SA Power Networks, Citipower and Powercor as assets.

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s deal brokered with the State governments last November offers financial incentives to privatise the states’ infrastructure to provide economic stimulus.

The private investors will be required to pay income tax to the federal government, who would then pass it on to the respective states as a tax equivalent incentive payment.