Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Current ACT Chief Minister accused of "gross conflict of interest" by Labor predecessor

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor this morning:

"Labor joining the wrong clubs"

I assume it was a coincidence that Chief Minister Andrew Barr launched the new government-friendly CFMEU Clubs Association on the day that submissions to the Legislative Assembly select committee inquiry into the establishment of an independent integrity commission closed.

I don't know if it is just me but the Chief Minister's Trump-like response to Clubs ACT daring to oppose the government over the decision to give the casino poker machines does seem, at best, a tad petulant.

Residents and community organisations are entitled to disagree with and to oppose the actions of government. It's called democracy.

As an aside, I vividly recall it was my colleague Wayne Berry, now a director of the Labor Club, who convinced me that under no circumstances should the casino ever have poker machines. A view I continue to hold.

My fundamental concern about the ACT government's declaration that it will in future only deal with the CFMEU Clubs Association and not Clubs ACT, which represents the overwhelming majority of clubs, is the gross conflict of interest it represents.

The CFMEU is not just affiliated with the ACT branch of the Labor Party, it is the most powerful and influential organ of the party. I would imagine that at least half, if not more, of the Labor members of the ACT Legislative Assembly owe their preselection to the CFMEU.

I think it inevitable that the Assembly select committee into the establishment of an independent integrity commission will recommend such a commission be established. If so, I can see, particularly in light of the position adopted by the government in relation to Clubs ACT, that the first inquiry it undertakes will be into the relationship between the ACT government and the Labor Party and CFMEU group of clubs.

If the Labor Party was smart it would sell the clubs before it comes to that. Jon Stanhope, Bruce"

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Australia siding with major international corporations at climate change talks

A cryptic reference in the New York Times today puts the Australian government on the side of big business in the continuing talks on the United Nations climate change agreement.
The Times reports that developing nations and environmental groups are challenging some of the world’s biggest companies and wealthiest countries over the role corporate lobbyists play in United Nations climate change negotiations.
The dispute opens an additional battle in the struggle over how to fashion a global response to climate change, one that corporate interests appear to be winning, for now.
Though companies are not permitted to participate directly in the climate talks, representatives from almost 300 industry groups are free to roam the negotiations in Bonn, Germany, as “stakeholders,” and to lobby negotiators on behalf of corporations that may seek to slow action, the developing nations and their allies say.
... Negotiators from Uganda, Ecuador, the Philippines and other countries have proposed guidelines on lobbying and conflicts of interest that could help curb the corporate presence at the talks. ...
At a heated session at the latest round of talks on Tuesday, delegates from the United States, Russia and Australia made a last-minute defense of the corporate presence, suggesting that a wider discussion of the issue be delayed.
A decision on the question was deferred until next year.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Are the Murdochs fit and proper people?

The Financial Times of London has argued that the Murdoch controlled Fox’s second bid for The UK's Sky television deserves proper scrutiny. In an editorial the FT argues that while with most products, at most times, market competition does an excellent job supplying consumers’ appetites, in a democracy, information is not just any product.
The market may give consumers the information they want, but there is little economic reason to think it will supply citizens the information they need. A wide variety of information and opinion must be available. It is a key job of democratic institutions to ensure that this happens. This is why media mergers are exposed to intense scrutiny.
The editorial concludes:
When it comes to the fit and proper test, the allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News, following as they do the phone hacking scandal at the newspaper arm of the Murdoch empire, raise serious questions. In both cases, failings of corporate culture were endemic, with senior executives aware of amoral behaviour for years. And in both cases there have been criminal investigations and settlements with victims running into millions. The Murdochs plainly failed to exercise responsible and public-minded ownership at two of their media properties. Yes, changes were eventually made in both cases — executives and talent were sacked, rules changed — when the public outcry and commercial pressure became overwhelming. The burden of proof, however, remains on the Murdochs to demonstrate that they would be a fit and proper owner of Sky. 

A political quote for the day

UK Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron on the life of MPs:
“Time with lobbyists, time going to various social and ceremonial events — they don’t do any good at all, other than make MPs feel self-important.”
(From an interesting story in the Financial Times.)