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Peter Hartcher: Christopher Pyne’s night of chaos failed Malcolm Turnbull and he has to go

by admin on 07/05/2019

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Anthony Albanese, Tony Burke and other Labor MPs talk tactics. Photo: Andrew Meares Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull makes a pitch on government stability at his campaign launch in 2001 Photo: Andrew Meares
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Mr Pyne tells the opposition what he thinks of them. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The successful Labor ambush of the Turnbull government in the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon will not, in itself, bring down the government, but it’s highly instructive.

The lessons learned?

One, that the election campaign has not ended. Bill Shorten considers that the contest for power has merely moved into a new phase, fought on the floor of the House instead of on the hustings.

Shorten does not accept that Turnbull has won a mandate. He considers that his policy to hold a banking royal commission is every bit as valid as Turnbull’s position not to. In Shorten’s view, the election did not settle anything.

Two, that Shorten intends to wage a campaign of political guerrilla war against the Turnbull government. He will not allow the government a moment of peace but will harry and harass it, probing every vulnerability.

He’s not doing this from a position of strength but of anxiety. Although Labor regards Shorten to have waged a strong election campaign, he is not taking any chances.

Have you noticed all the publicity about Anthony Albanese and his life story recently? It’s not mere sentimentality. He’s positioning for the leadership. Albanese and his supporters will swoop if they see an opportunity. Shorten will fight hard and deny him an opportunity.

The post-Howard restiveness of Australia’s political parties – the syndrome of revolving-door leadership – lives on in both Labor and Liberal parties.

Three, that the government is not up to the contest. Christopher Pyne, as manager of government business, is responsible for losing control of the House. He should be replaced.

The government was guilty of complacency. It won its first vote on the floor of the House by 75 to 73, when Labor first tried to pass its bank royal commission proposal.

Relaxing vigilance as members looked forward to their escape to the airport for the end of the sitting week, they allowed Labor an opportunity.

Pyne has long experience and knew the stakes yet failed.

Four, aggressive Labor tactics can embarrass the government and rattle its nerves, as they have on this occasion. But they cannot bring down the government unless the Coalition is guilty of internal division or indiscipline.

Malcolm Turnbull has taken heart from the fact that Bob Menzies used to say that the best majority is a majority of one. Why? Because it demanded strict discipline.

The Turnbull government has just demonstrated indiscipline. It cannot afford to make this a habit.

Malcolm Turnbull’s move on Tony Abbott cost public $60,000 in US visit cancellation cost

by admin on 07/05/2019

Tony Abbott’s official visit to the US cost taxpayers $60,000 even though he never boarded the plane. Photo: Alex EllinghausenAn official visit to the United States for Tony Abbott cost taxpayers $60,000 – even though the former prime minister was rolled by his colleagues before he could get on the plane.
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The charge for the cancelled trip has shown up in the latest instalment of parliamentarians’ expenses, released by the Department of Finance late on Thursday afternoon as politicians prepared to leave Canberra after the first week of the new Parliament.

The records show Mr Abbott had been slated to visit the US for a three-day visit from September 25 to 27 last year. The travel was part of annual international summit season.

His leadership was terminated by his Liberal Party colleagues in a party room ballot 10 days earlier on the night of September 15.

Entitlement records shows some senior members of Parliament spent more than $400,000 on international and domestic airfares, Commonwealth cars, office supplies and the cash “travel allowance” for nights spent out of home in the six-month period from July to December 31 last year.

MPs and senators, particularly those with large electorates, can also charter private flights.

Thursday’s disclosure included the infamous $5000 helicopter charter that ended the political career of Bronwyn Bishop and caused mortal damage to the Abbott government.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce spent $7000 on a one-day charter for flights within his New England electorate, flying from Armidale to Urbenville and Liston in the northern part of his seat.

In April, Fairfax Media revealed Mr Joyce had spent $2211 on a 120-kilometre flight from Armidale to Copeton Dam.

He has taken two $4000 helicopter flights to visit the small New England community of Drake, 44 kilometres away from his second ministerial office in Tenterfield but a four-hour drive away from his Tamworth home.

According to the latest entitlements, he spent $51,000 on charter flights in his capacity as Agriculture Minister.

In total, Mr Joyce spent $424,000 in the six-month period, including $18,000 on travel for family members.

Under pressure Labor Senator Sam Dastyari​, who accepted a donation from a Chinese donor to cover his $1600 overspend on travel entitlements, spent $24,500 on domestic fares in the second half of 2015 and $7000 on private and Commonwealth cars.

Shadow infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese​, known for his energetic approach, notched up $43,000 in domestic fares.

Tanya Plibersek, then in the shadow foreign affairs role, spent $401,000, including $69,000 on official visits overseas.

Under the Department of Finance accounting rules, the travel of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop does not show up in entitlements records.

New rules adopted after “choppergate” compel MPs to only use helicopters if there is a “compelling” reason to do so.

Contractor IHMS fined $300,000 as official audit finds serious failings in asylum seeker healthcare

by admin on 07/05/2019

Nauru asylum seekers. Photo: Angela WylieThe contractor responsible for the health of asylum seekers has been slugged more than $300,000 for problems relating to treatment of tuberculosis and other serious diseases in onshore detention, raising grave questions over the quality of care delivered to vulnerable people behind the wire.
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A report by the Australian National Audit Office into onshore detention also found some detainees at severe risk of self-harm were being reviewed only once a fortnight, rather than every 24 hours as prescribed by official clinical guidelines.

It also found cost-cutting had led to changes to the way medication was distributed, creating the risk of prescribing and dispensing errors.

The findings cast into serious doubt assurances by the federal government and Department of Immigration and Border Protection that healthcare in both onshore and offshore detention meets community standards.

In just six months between July and December last year, health services provider IHMS was charged $309,000 – or 2 per cent of its service fee – for “significant failures” under a penalty and incentive regime.

IHMS failed to fully comply in all but one performance measure.

In a statement the company, which also provides healthcare in offshore detention centres, said the fines related to reporting failures “and not for failures of clinical care”, including incident reports not sent to the department within the required timeframe.

The performance of IHMS in such reporting had since improved, it said.

The failings related to, among other measures, identification and treatment of active tuberculosis and serious communicable diseases, and timely provision of healthcare, mental health screening and vaccinations.

Despite those in immigration detention being at high risk of mental illness, clinical guidelines to prevent self-harm and suicide were not followed for a “large number” of detainees.

Between February and November last year, there were 407 instances of a detainee being deemed at high imminent risk of self-harm.

Under the department’s own program, such detainees should be clinically reviewed every 24 hours at a minimum – but the audit found they were reviewed, on average, every three days. Some were reviewed once or twice a fortnight.

The report found the department did not formally monitor whether IHMS was properly implementing such procedures.

IHMS said in a statement it was discussing the need for a review of psychological support procedures with the department.

In response to the department’s demand for cost-cutting, IHMS implemented a new model under which just 14 per cent of detainees would need a nurse to administer their medication – for reasons such as the risk of self-harm or medication misuse.

However, the number of detainees needing nurse-administered medication was as high as 75 per cent. IHMS “flagged the risks associated with medication administration” to the department in December last year, citing “risks including prescribing and dispensing errors” by overworked nurses.

The report also found the department was failing to monitor the quality of primary healthcare in offshore detention, 15 months after the contract with IHMS was signed.

A department spokeswoman said the report found its administration of health services in onshore immigration detention “has been improved”, and that onshore detainees “receive care at a comparable level to that available to the Australian community”.

She said the department has accepted the report’s recommendations and was working to implement them.

This included identifying risks to the effective delivery of onshore healthcare services and a proposed performance assurance review program to manage these risks.

“The department has also instigated a robust auditing process of detainee complaints relating to the provision of health services delivery, including weekly reporting of detainee complaints and the outcomes of those complaints,” she said.

IHMS said its performance in offshore detention system was not within the scope of the audit and rejected suggestions that healthcare in onshore detention did not meet community standards.

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Australian Shaun Davidson jailed in Bali for using another man’s passport

by admin on 07/05/2019

Shaun Edward Davidson, right, going into a holding cell after his court appearance. Photo: Amilia Rosa Shaun Edward Davidson at the holding cell after being sentenced to a year’s jail minus time served. Photo: Amilia Rosa
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Australian Shaun Edward Davidson has been jailed in Bali.

Bali: A West Australian man jailed for a year in Bali on Thursday for using another man’s passport has told of his life behind bars at the notorious Kerobokan jail.

Shaun Edward Davidson said he was expecting “a living hell” when he was initially incarcerated in April after being formally named a suspect over immigration offences.

“It [Kerobokan jail] was built for 300 prisoners, there are1200 there,” Davidson said.

“The first couple of weeks you get there, there are 20 other people here in the cell the size of this area here,” he said, gesturing to the tiny holding cell crammed with prisoners outside Denpasar District Court.

“No beds, no nothing, you don’t get given anything. Just like concrete floors. In the corner they have got a bit blocked off where there is a hole in the ground. That’s pretty much the toilet and the shower.”

He said prisoners were not even given a mat.

However, Davidson said conditions were bearable if you had money and support from the outside.

“My sister has been the biggest help, she’s been over here for a bit, she was here today, she helped me with money.”

Davidson was due to face Perth Magistrates Court on January 28 last year, charged with possessing methamphetamine and cannabis and two other offences.

When he didn’t attend, an arrest warrant was issued.

But instead of going to court, Davidson skipped the country, arriving in Indonesia on a one-month tourist visa,

Davidson said he lost his passport. He said he had contacted the Australian passport office and reported his own missing but then began using a passport under the name of Michael John Bayman, which Davidson said he had found in a hotel room.

Bali immigration authorities told Fairfax Media the passport had been reported missing by the real owner in 2013.

Davidson spent the year in Bali boxing and partying.

But he came to the attention of authorities in March when he was staying at Rabasta Hotel in Kuta.

Ngurah Rai airport immigration officer Mohamad Soleh told Fairfax Media in April that a report was made of a foreigner staying in Kuta who was suspected of overstaying his visa.

When immigration authorities investigated, they found he had not only overstayed his visa but was using a fake identity.

Mr Soleh said the Australian government and Australian Federal Police had confirmed Davidson’s real identity.

Head judge Made Pasek said on Thursday he found Davidson “convincingly guilty” of misusing a travel document belonging to someone else.

He sentenced him to one year jail, minus the time already served, and a 100 million rupiah ($AUD10,000) fine or additional five months in jail.

Mr Pasek said mitigating factors were that Davidson had been polite during his trial and admitted his guilt.

However had used fake documents and what he had done was harmful to Indonesia.

Davidson said he thought it was a fair judgement and he would serve the extra five months instead of paying the fine.

“It’s not what I was hoping for of course, but everyone knows the legal system here. I didn’t conform to the legal system. I didn’t pay any money, I did my defence myself.”

He said he would continue to teach boxing inside Kerobokan jail.

“I have about 15 to 20 people I train in boxing, so that’s pretty good. I guess it gives the locals something to do. It gives them something to look forward to. It’s pretty hard for some of the locals – if you don’t have money to get food you don’t eat.”

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Kerrin McEvoy thinks Orbec will enjoy the step up in trip in the Wyong Cup

by admin on 07/05/2019

Confident: Jockey Kerrin McEvoy believes Orbec will find the 2100 metres of the Wyong Cup to his liking on Friday. Photo: bradleyphotos上海m.auKerrin McEvoy believes Orbec will find the 2100 metres of the Wyong Cup to his liking on Friday and if it is wet, all the better. The French import finished midfield with McEvoy in the saddle first-up in the Premiers Cup Prelude and follows the same path as last year, when he ran third in the Wyong Cup.
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“He ran well and just ran out of condition late first-up, but he will be better suited at this trip,” McEvoy said. “He handled Wyong well last year and was a bit unlucky in the cup there. Looking at his form he will handle a wet track, so the indications are positive.”

Boost for McDougall

John Thompson has rewarded his apprentice Blaike McDougall by keeping him on Signposted as he looks for four in a row at Randwick on Saturday.

“He started riding him in trackwork and worked him out and turned him around into a winner,” Thompson said. “He gets on really well with him. He had three rides for three wins and they have all been good rides. He just gets him to relax and rates him well in front and that’s what he will be trying to do on Saturday. He is a good kid and it is chance for him to see what goes on a carnival day.”

McDougall has picked up five rides for the day, including Forget for Kim Waugh and I’m Imogen in the Furious Stakes.

Balmain Boy ready

Les Bridge believes he has a miler in Balmain Boy, but he is ready to make his mark first-up at Randwick on Saturday. Balmain Boy stepped up to the three-year-old group races in the autumn, but it came a bit soon for him.

“He probably wasn’t ready for that, but he is stronger this time in and his barrier trials have him ready for a good preparation,” Bridge said. “I think he is going to be at his best at the mile, but he is fresh and ready to run a good race on Saturday.”

Glamour set to shine

Global Glamour, a winner at her only start, returns in the Furious Stakes after having a similar operation to Winx, removing a bone chip from a fetlock. Co-trainer Adrian Bott said the Star Witness filly had always been near the top of their list as a two-year-old and showed that at her only start, a 6 length win at Kembla Grange in January.

“She has come back and been very good in both trials and we are mindful that she is going to 1200m first-up,” Bott said.