Thursday, June 27, 2019

ACTU – Porter rushes to appease big business

27 June 2019
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has announced a review of workplace laws focusing on a big business wish list which could lay the groundwork to further reduce workers’ rights and embed exploitation in legislation, at the same time ignoring the low wage growth and insecure work crises which have become the defining features of work under the Morrison Government.

The review will focus on:

The definition of casual work, where employers have argued for more power to simply deem jobs as casual, denying workers paid leave entitlements and reducing their job and income security.
The enterprise bargaining better-off-overall test, where employers have pushed for new rules which allow them to leave vulnerable workers worse off.

Speeding up approval of new agreements where like under WorkChoices agreements were rubber stamped and not checked by an independent body to ensure they comply with the law
Reducing workers protections from being unfairly dismissed by cutting compensation
The review has been hastily thrown together with a six- to nine-month timeline and objectives sourced directly from the business lobby at the request of the Prime Minister.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  1. “After refusing to even mention Industrial Relations during the campaign, The Morrison Government is now running as fast as it can to satisfy the business lobby.
  2. “Mr Porter says this review will benefit workers and employers but the only proposals he has any interest in would gut workers’ rights and entrench exploitation.
  3. “Meanwhile, the Morrison Government has no plan to address low wage growth. Six years of near-record low wage growth is causing massive reduction in consumer spending and slowing the entire economy.
  4. “Millions of people are locked into insecure jobs with low wage growth, insufficient hours and minimal rights. Rather than protecting workers this Government is setting out to ensure that the power of big business is protected by law.
  5. “This is a government which has no agenda of its own and is fast becoming a puppet for the business lobby’s attempts to reduce wages and erode conditions.
  6. “The Prime Minister asked the business community for a wish list, a day later the Industrial Rotations Minister announces a review into IR based on that wish list. 
  7. “Working people should be very concerned at these developments.  Now is the time to join your union and stand up for your rights to a secure job and fair pay.”

NAIDOC Week 2019

PSA WIN! Aboriginal Services Unit

The Public Service Association (PSA) lodged a Dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) about a proposed merger of the Aboriginal Services Unit with Courts and Tribunal Services.

The Dispute was listed in the IRC on the 29th May 2019. At the IRC conciliation the PSA raised concerns about lack of consultation and potential job losses and highlighted the important work done by the Aboriginal Services Unit.

The Department of Justice indicated a number of options were being considered in relation to the Aboriginal Services Unit and committed to consultation.

The IRC stressed the importance of consultation and listed the matter for Report Back on 26 June 2019.

The Department has now written to the PSA advising that it has considered the concerns of the PSA and employees. As a result of this feedback, a decision has been made to keep the Aboriginal Services Unit in its current operating model and it will transition as a whole to the Strategy, Policy and Commissioning Division in the newly formed Department of Family and Community Services and Justice.

This outcome is the best possible outcome and ensures the Aboriginal Services Unit will continue to operate in its current format and provide its invaluable service to the community.

As the matter has now resolved, the PSA has discontinued the IRC Dispute, but invites members to provide feedback if there are any further concerns.

The PSA thanks its members for engagement during this process and will continue to protect its members during the Machinery of Government changes.

Turkey – Struggle For Democracy

CELEBRATIONS are continuing across Turkey after the crushing defeat for the ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) in Sunday’s rerun Istanbul mayoral election.

Successful candidate Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) swept to victory polling about 800,000 more votes than his rival, former prime minister Binali Yildirim of the AKP.

The scale of the defeat should not be underestimated. It was the biggest winning margin in an Istanbul mayoral election for 35 years.

Mr Imamoglu won the election by a landslide, delivering a hammer blow to Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who forced a rerun of March’s election, which was lost in the initial poll by just 15,000 votes.

It was a serious miscalculation by Mr Erdogan and he could pay a heavy price for his high-stakes gamble.

Voters swung against Mr Erdogan’s party, with the CHP winning in conservative Sunni areas, the traditional powerbase of the AKP that has kept parties associated with the president in control of Istanbul since 1994.

Losing areas such as Fatih, along with Mr Yildirim’s constituency of Tuzla & Uskudar, where Mr Erdogan lives, would have been previously unthinkable.

It in part reflects a deepening economic crisis, that is having an effect on the urban poor and all sectors of Turkish society. It was the economy that propelled the AKP to power — and it could be the economy that condemns it to defeat.

But a local source urged caution against becoming starry-eyed about Mr Imamoglu and the CHP, saying: “The history of the party shouldn’t be forgotten in the blink of an eye.”

Amid the sheer elation at dislodging the AKP in Turkey’s biggest city, there are some, including those on the left, who are lauding Mr Imamoglu, even speaking about him in terms of the country’s next president.

For those suggesting that “Turkish democracy has life still in it,” there are a few sobering reminders:

eight parliamentarians from the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are still in prison for the “crime” of representing those who elected them, along with dozens of HDP mayors. And thousands of HDP activists are behind bars for the “crime” of supporting an opposition political party.

About 190 journalists are in prison on trumped-up charges of spreading terrorist propaganda or membership of terrorist organisation and the press remains tightly controlled by Mr Erdogan.

Constitutional changes introduced following a rigged 2017 referendum introduced a presidential system granting unprecedented powers to Mr Erdogan, including the right to dissolve parliament and rule by decree.

Many warn that talk of “the beginning of the end of Erdogan” is premature, with the system that maintains his power still in place.

The celebrations taking place in Turkey are less to do with the victory of Mr Imamoglu and more to do with the defeat of Mr Yildirim.

Mr Imamoglu remains a politician cut from the CHP cloth. In his victory speech he insisted: “I am a project, I am a project of the republic, I am a project of the republic of Turkey, the republic of Ataturk” — words that will play well to his voter base.

The former construction company boss entered politics in 2009 for personal reasons amid frustrations over “red tape” and other issues that impacted on the family business.

He joined the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemalist nationalists and Turkey’s oldest surviving political party.

Many have highlighted the historical role of the CHP, from the Armenian genocide and massacre of the Kurds in Dersim in the early 20th century to more recent times. It has backed Mr Erdogan’s war in Afrin and supported the lifting of immunity from prosecution for parliamentarians — a move it knew would be used to jail HDP politicians.

Viewing the CHP as progressives is a mistake. Its politicians are chauvinists, who formed an alliance with the Iyi (Good) Party.

The CHP Mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavas, is a former mayor for the MHP ultranationalist/fascist party — a transition that was made without anyone batting an eyelid.

In this election HDP electoral strategy was entirely vindicated, aiming at loosening the grip of the AKP/MHP on the country.

However, it was done with no illusions about the CHP. It is the HDP, the labour movement and the forces of democracy that will bring about real change.

The defeat of the AKP in Istanbul is a platform to build on — but the struggle for democracy continues.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The ABC has mounted a legal challenge to a warrant the Australian Federal Police

The ABC has mounted a legal challenge to a warrant the Australian Federal Police (AFP) served on the broadcaster and has demanded the return of files seized during a raid earlier this month.

Key points

The warrant related to stories of alleged unlawful killings by Australian special forces in Afghanistan
About 100 files were seized in the raid and sealed by the AFP

Managing director David Anderson said the ABC would challenge the constitutional validity of the warrant

On June 5, a group of AFP officers fronted up at the media organisation's Sydney head office with a warrant to search the ABC's databases for items relating to a series of stories known as the Afghan Files.

The ABC is asking the Federal Court of Australia to declare the warrant invalid.

The ABC also wants an injunction to prevent the AFP accessing the seized files, which are being held in sealed envelopes.

Managing director David Anderson said the ABC was also challenging the constitutional validity of the warrant "on the basis that it hinders our implied freedom of political communication".

John Lyons spent nine hours in a room with six AFP officers — who were unfailingly polite and respectful — but who were doing something he believed attacked the very essence of journalism.

Mr Anderson said it was important that Australians be advised of the court action and of the ABC's determination to defend its journalists and the crucial work they did to inform the public.

The Afghan Files, by ABC investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan and were based off hundreds of pages of secret Defence documents leaked to the ABC.

The search warrant named Oakes, Clark and the ABC's director of News Gaven Morris.

On the day of the raid, AFP officers were joined by specialist computer technicians and searched the databases with the ABC's legal team for more than eight hours.

ILO – Historic global Convention to eliminate violence and harassment at work passed

Historic global Convention to eliminate violence and harassment at work passed
22 June 2019

 ILO Unions  ILO  ACTU President Michele O'Neil  working women  Gender Equality  violence against women  workplace safety  workplace safety rightsA ground-breaking Convention and Recommendation to eliminate violence and harassment at work has been adopted overwhelmingly at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, on the organisation’s 100th year anniversary.

The two-year negotiations included unions, ILO member governments, and employer organisations.

ACTU representatives worked alongside union representatives from around the world on the Convention that for the first time sets an international standard to prevent and eliminate violence and harassment at work.

The Convention places obligations on governments to develop national laws prohibiting workplace violence and on employers to take proactive steps to prevent violence and harassment.

The Australian Government voted for the Convention and Recommendation to eliminate violence and harassment at work.

The ACTU calls on the Morrison Government to ratify and fully implement the Convention. We urgently need stronger powers for the Fair Work Commission, as well as work health and safety regulators and human rights commissions to proactively address violence, inequality and discrimination at work. This must include establishing a gender equality panel in the FWC that would have the power to hear and determine sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

  • “We welcome and celebrate this historic, ground-breaking Convention. Until now there has been no international standard addressing violence and harassment of working people at work.
  • “This sets a new global standard and will lead to real change in the lives of working people. Ending gender-based violence requires concerted, committed action at every level. Women and the LGBTI community are disproportionately impacted by violence and harassment at work.
  • “Everyone should go to work free from the fear of harassment and violence. Australian unions have been proud to campaign and work alongside the global union movement to achieve something incredibly important at the ILO.
  • “This convention is pivotal for not only working people in Australia but working people globally – it’s a key step in eliminating violence and harassment at work.
  • “We call on the Morrison Government to take immediate steps to ratify and implement this historic convention.”

Win for Mineworkers at Cameby Downs coal mine



Mineworkers at Cameby Downs coal mine in Queensland’s Surat Basin have received up to $17,000 each in backpay after their employer Yancoal required them to participate in pre-start briefings before their paid workday started.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said mining companies across Queensland were on notice that compulsory briefings count as work and they shouldn’t be conducted on unpaid time.

At Cameby Downs, workers on some crews were being bussed from their accommodation camp each morning arriving at the site at approximately 5.40am. They were then required to participate in a 15-20 minute ‘pre-start’ meeting about issues that have arisen in the previous shift and requirements for the day, before starting work at 6am.

The CFMEU successfully challenged the practice, with the Fair Work Commission agreeing that the pre-start meetings were not included within the shifts and salaries allowed for under the site Enterprise Agreement.

For some crews, the practice had been in place for years, allowing for substantial backpay claims paid out to workers last week and costing the company about a quarter of a million dollars.

Mineworkers who are required to undertake any work-related activities outside of paid shifts are encouraged to check the terms of their agreement or talk to their union representative.

“Well done to our members at Cameby Downs for standing up for their entitlements,” said Mr Smyth.

“It is illegal to require employees to do work outside of the period they’re paid for. We know it happens in the mining industry and mining companies are on notice that we’ll fight to make sure our members are paid properly.”

Labor wants tax cut fast-tracking for middle-income earners in return for its support

Labor wants tax cut fast-tracking for middle-income earners in return for its support

Federal Labor has refused to support the Coalition's full tax cut package, insisting it wants changes to the Government's plan in return for its support.

The Coalition has been pressuring Labor to back its $158 billion, three-stage income tax cuts since it won the election last month.

Leader Anthony Albanese said his Shadow Cabinet today agreed to support the first two stages of the tax plan, which is due for debate when the Parliament resumes next month.

Mr Albanese said he wanted the Coalition to increase the threshold for the second stage of the tax cut, from incomes of $90,000 to $120,000 and deliver the change earlier than planned.

He said that change would help stimulate the economy.

But the Opposition Leader said Labor was unwilling to support the third stage of the plan, which would not come into force until 2024-25.

He said the Parliament should immediately pass the first two stages, and debate the third part at a later date.

The Government needs Labor or the crossbench's support to pass the tax cut legislation in the Senate.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

MEAA – Oppose US Assange extradition

MEAA has renewed calls for the Australian and United Kingdom governments to oppose moves to extradite WikiLeaks founder and publisher to the United States to face trial on 18 espionage charges.

The charges “contain a real threat to press freedom for journalists and media outlets around the world,” MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy and Media section federal president Marcus Strom say in a letter to Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

On May 23, Assange was indicted by the US Justice Department with 17 new charges for his role in receiving and publishing classified defence documents both on the WikiLeaks website and in collaboration with major publishers including The New York Times, and The Guardian.

The new charges, under the Espionage Act, go far beyond an initial single charge made against Assange in April that accused him of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in a conspiracy to crack a Defence Department computer password.

If Assange, who is currently in jail in the United Kingdom, is extradited to the US and found guilty, he faces up to 170 years in jail.

Read below an edited version of the letter sent to Foreign Minister Marise Payne and copied to the UK High Commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell:

Further to our letter of April 12 2019, we write again to convey our strong concern about the possible extradition of Julian Assange to the United States and urge the Australian and UK governments to oppose extradition to that country.

Assange is an Australian citizen and is WikiLeaks’ founder and publisher. He has been a member of MEAA Media – the union and professional association for Australian media workers – since 2007.

 The US Department of Justice charges against Assange relating to the alleged violation of the Espionage Act contain a real threat to press freedom for journalists and media outlets around the world. Respected leaders of the journalism profession have condemned the US indictment:

•  Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian says: “… the attempt to lock [Assange] up under the Espionage Act is a deeply troubling move that should serve as a wake-up call to all journalists.” 

•  The Washington Post’s executive editor Martin Baron, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, says: “The [Trump] administration has gone from denigrating journalists as ‘enemies of the people’ to now criminalising common practices in journalism that have long served the public interest.”

•  Joe Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect journalists, says: “Equating the publication of classified information with espionage also strengthens the hand of repressive governments who routinely jail journalists for publishing information they wish to keep secret.”

•  The International Federation of Journalists, representing more than 600,000 media professionals in more than 140 countries, says: “… this indictment would criminalise journalistic inquiry by setting a dangerous precedent that can be abused to prosecute journalists for their role in revealing information in the public interest. By following this logic, anyone who publishes information that the US government deems to be classified could be prosecuted for espionage.”

 As we said in our previous letter, the extradition of Assange and prosecution by the United States for what are widely considered to be acts of journalism would set a disturbing global precedent for the suppression of press freedom.

 We urge you as Foreign Minister to use all resources available to convince the UK Government to oppose the extradition of Assange to the United States in relation to his role as publisher of WikiLeaks and to publicly call on the US Government to refrain from this attack on global press freedom.

ACOSS – Importance of increasing Newsart

Comments by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia today confirm the importance of increasing Newstart in order to boost growth in the economy.

In response to a question about the Newstart Allowance at a CEDA event in Adelaide today, Mr Lowe said that household income growth is soft and the upside risk of inflation is currently low. So policies that boost income growth, including interest rate cuts, are good for the economy. While an issue for government policy, there are a number of ways this could be done, including through payments such as Newstart.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

  •  “We know that raising the rate of Newstart is the most effective way to reduce the persistent rates of poverty in our wealthy country.
  •  “The Reserve Bank Governor’s comments today confirm that increasing Newstart would boost growth in incomes and the economy.
  •  “In fact, raising Newstart is a far more effective way to grow the economy than the Government’s high-end tax cuts in 2022 and 2024, which mostly go to high-income earners, who will likely save much of the extra income they receive. The highest 20% of households by income save one third of their income, because, unlike people on much lower incomes, they can.
  •  “People on Newstart, on the other hand, have no choice but to spend everything they have in order to get by – they simply can’t save any money or even afford to pay off debts.
  •  “If you ask someone on Newstart what they’d spend an increase on and you ask a high-income earner what they’d spend a tax cut on, you get very different answers. People on Newstart have to spend on the basics like food and rent straight away in order to survive, while people on high incomes are likely to save extra income or use it to pay off any debts, which won’t help the current state of the economy.
  •  “Politicians are leaving people on Newstart out of the economic debate, even though an increase in that payment would be more effective than tax cuts at stimulating the economy and they are really struggling to get through tough times, after 25 years without a real increase to Newstart,” Dr Goldie said.


Media contact:  Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155

QLD – Adani protesters glue themselves to Brisbane street

Organisers of a Brisbane traffic-stopping protest against Adani have vowed to do it again after people who glued their hands to the street were arrested.

But the hundreds of people who rallied on Friday evening have been told to consider the livelihoods of regional Queenslanders.

Six men and one woman were detained for breaching the peace but no charges were laid from the anti-coal mining action in Brisbane CBD.

Protesters opposing to the construction of the Adani coal mine block a main road in Southbank during a rally in Brisbane, Friday, June 21, 2019.

A further action is planned for July 5, with organisers calling to "stop the cities to stop Adani" after labelling the protest a success.
"There isn't a question of how many people disapprove this mine," organiser Catherine Robertson from Uni Students for Climate Justice told AAP on Saturday.

"The Queensland Labor government just wanted to sweep the approvals through. They didn't want there to be be a huge reaction.

"They thought that most people would just take this lying down.

"The opposite has happened. The movement's only going to grow."

Extinction Rebellion Australia
@XRebellionAus
 State Library! So many people!

See Extinction Rebellion Australia's other Tweets

Adani has declared it is full steam ahead for its controversial mega coal mine in central Queensland after the state government issued the final approval needed to begin construction.

On Friday, five people had glued themselves to the street and were removed by officers at the mostly peaceful march in the city centre.

Demonstrators gathered in Reddacliff Place about 5pm, and after speeches the large crowd marched across Victoria Bridge.

They staged two brief sit-downs before finishing in South Bank, causing "significant disruption" to peak hour traffic, police said.

Blue Mountains NAIDOC

03 Jul 2018
The 2018 National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebration (NAIDOC) in the Mountains will see Blue Mountains City Council, the Aboriginal Advisory Council and the Blue Mountains Aboriginal Culture and Resource Centre (ACRC) host a range of events from for the duration of July. 
NAIDOC week, 8-15 July, celebrates and highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s culture, history and achievements. NAIDOC is an opportunity for all Australians to come together with Aboriginal communities, providing the chance for the broader community to gain a better understanding and appreciation of local Aboriginal culture.
The 2018 theme 'Because of Her, We Can!' focuses on the significant role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – at the community, local, state and national levels.
These pillars of our society are leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates. They are our mothers, our elders, our grandmothers, our aunties, our sisters and our daughters. 
Their achievements, their voice, their unwavering passion give us strength and have empowered past generations and paved the way for generations to come.
For at least 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge that have kept the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture strong.
Blue Mountains NAIDOC events will be launched on Monday 9 July from 9am with the local NAIDOC Awards and annual NAIDOC Flag Raising Ceremony at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Katoomba. Other events include:
  • 6 July – Celebrate the opening of John South: Skyworld, an exhibition exploring Aboriginal Astronomy through film and installation
  • 7 July – Public Programs and Cultural events running throughout the day at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre including John South’s art installation RHIZOME; sit with Uncle Lex Dadd and learn about Darug history; a tribute to Indigenous art and culture with an ART+SOUL documentary and an evening of stargazing. 
  • 8 July – Q&A and conversation between artist John South (Barkindji) and Dr Duane Hamacher, an astronomer and Senior Research Fellow at the Monash Indigenous Studies Centre Melbourne, Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.
  • 9 July– Aboriginal Culture Learning: A Family Workshop, 2-3pm, Sharon Burridge Hall, Blaxland Community Centre, 33 Hope Street Blaxland.
  • 12 July –  Aboriginal Culture Learning: A Family Workshop, 10.30-11.30am, Katoomba Library
  • 14 July – NAIDOC Aboriginal Community Day in ‘The Gully’, 11am – 2pm
  • 20 July – Opening event for the NAIDOC Aboriginal Community Art Festival, 6.30pm
  • 21 & 22 July – NAIDOC Aboriginal Community Art Festival,10am-4pm
  • 27 July – Annual Blue Mountains NAIDOC Ball, contact ACRC 4782 6569 for tickets
Full details of NAIDOC events are available at www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/naidoc  or to find out how you can get involved contact Brad Moore on 4780 5000 or bmoore@bmcc.nsw.gov.au  or Wayne Cornish on 4782 6569 or manager@acrc.org.au.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ITUC – Global Day of Workplace Action – 26 June

In just one week, thousands of workers around the world will have a conversation with their employers on how they are climate-proofing their operations. 
Are you in to climate-proof your workplace? 
Thank you for your support,
Sharan Burrow
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Climate Change is a threat to all of us! Extreme weather events are already destroying jobs and livelihoods and, if we don’t act now, temperature increases will lead to the loss of 72 million jobs [1].
With workers on the frontline of climate action, we can begin to turn this around by asking our bosses if they have a plan to reduce emissions. So why not start a conversation with your employer about how they are climate-proofing their operations and climate-proofing your job.
Bold climate actions can generate more than 65 million jobs and avoid more than 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution [2].
The ITUC is working for a ‘Just Transition’ to secure the future and livelihoods of workers and their communities in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Workers and their unions can work with employers to climate-proof their business, and put Just Transition measures at their heart of their plans.
All workers have a right to know how their employers are planning to reduce emissions and have a sustainable future for the business. Sign up for the Global Day of Workplace Action on 26 June and ask your boss for their climate plan!
There are no jobs on a dead planet, but together we can build good jobs on a living planet.
In solidarity,
Sharan Burrow

P.S.
Ready to climate-proof your workplace?
Sign up for the big #cPOW and get your Global Day of Workplace Action campaign pack.
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[2] New Climate Economy:  https://newclimateeconomy.report/2018/

Friday, June 14, 2019

MEAA – JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME



Today, MEAA, along with more than three dozen of Australia’s most prominent and acclaimed journalists and media organisations, has publicly called for urgent changes to the law to provide better protection for whistleblowers and journalists.

In an open letter published in all capital city daily newspapers today and addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese and all Members of both houses of Federal Parliament, we say prompt action is needed to protect our democracy for all Australians.

Read the letter and take action to join the call for Parliament to enshrine a positive public interest protection for whistleblowers and for journalists to protect our democracy for all Australians.

The open letter follows the raids by the Australian Federal Police last week of the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst and the offices of the ABC.

These raids, a raft of recent national security laws, and the prosecutions of whistleblowers Richard Boyle, David McBride and Witness K all demonstrate the public’s right to know is being harmed.

Truth-telling is being punished. Intimidation and harassment of journalists is in danger of being normalised.

It is also clear from the global response to the recent raids that Australia’s proud reputation around the world as a free and open society is under threat.

We urge Parliament to legislate changes to the law to recognise and enshrine a positive public interest protection for whistleblowers and for journalists.

Without these protections Australians will be denied important information it is their right as citizens to have.

Last week, hundreds of journalists in newsrooms around Australia stood together to say journalism is not a crime.

https://pressfreedom.org.au

Marcus Strom
Federal President
MEAA Media

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

ABC and Press Freedom Proposals

MEAA 

The ABC will push for legislative review to protect freedom of the press after its bosses met with the prime minister following an AFP raid on the broadcaster.

The ABC plans to join forces with other media outlets to pinpoint areas of concern for press freedom in Australia and encourage the federal government to act on them.

The broadcaster has expressed the sentiment after its chair Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Tuesday.

The meeting was scheduled before two police raids on journalists last week, which sparked a debate on freedom of the press.

An ABC raid came off the back of stories published in 2017 alleging Australian soldiers may have carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan, based on leaked Defence papers.

The other was on the Canberra home of a News Corp Australia reporter over a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australians.

In a statement following its high profile meeting, the ABC said it raised its concerns about the raids and their implications for media freedom.

"The ABC looks forward to working constructively with other media companies to pinpoint areas of concern and to pursue the case for legislative review," the statement read.

That came after Ms Buttrose last week complained to Mr Fletcher of the sweeping nature of the AFP warrant, saying it was "clearly designed to intimidate".

She is weighing up legal avenues the ABC could pursue against the AFP.

Mr Morrison says he is open to improvements to press freedom if they are warranted, but says he will act on the issue "calmly and soberly".

He insists a balance must be found between ensuring no one is above the law and protecting the freedom of the press.

"If there is suggestion or evidence or any analysis that reveals there is a need for further improvement of those (press freedom) laws, the government is always open to that," he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese believes the media reports which sparked the Australian Federal Police raids were in the public interest, and a free press is vital for democracy.

"My default position is one of protecting civil liberties and to ensure that there's accountability in our society and if the ABC won't do it as our national broadcaster, who will?" he told ABC Radio Perth.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

US – Climate denial in the United States appears to be shrinking.

A new 23-country survey conducted by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project found that America has the highest percentage of climate denial among first-world nations, behind only Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in all the countries surveyed. A total of 13 percent of Americans responded that “human activity is not responsible at all” for climate change, 5 percent denied that the climate is even changing, and a further 13 percent did not know whether the climate is changing or people are responsible.

These numbers are generally consistent with surveys conducted by George Mason and Yale universities, which most recently found in late 2018 that 14 percent of Americans think global warming isn’t happening, and 23 percent deny that it’s mostly human-caused.

The good news is that those 2018 numbers were at record low levels.

Climate denial in the United States appears to be shrinking.

In evaluating why climate denial is so much more prevalent in America than other wealthy countries, it’s important to consider its demographics. In the 2018 George Mason and Yale survey, just 42 percent of conservative Republicans accepted that global warming is happening, and only 28 percent correctly attributed it to human activities. Older Americans are also more likely to deny human-caused global warming, especially white Americans over the age of 55.

Another recent survey found that Republicans who watch Fox News are more than twice as likely to deny human-caused climate change than Republican non-viewers, and 62 percent of Republicans watch Fox News. Consistent with the demographic breakdown of American climate denial, Fox News viewers are overwhelmingly old and white, as are climate deniers.

In short, the unusual level of climate denial in America is heavily concentrated among the Fox News viewership demographic of old white conservatives, and Republicans who watch the network are extremely likely to deny human-caused global warming. This suggests that the presence of Fox News and other conservative media outlets may be the primary explanation for why climate denial is more prevalent in the United States than in other developed countries.

Fortunately, a new study published in Nature Climate Change offers some hope. The paper documents an experiment in North Carolina involving “intergenerational learning.” Teachers were trained in a climate change curriculum that included engagement with parents through an interview conducted by students. The study found that the children and their parents were both more likely to be concerned about climate change after the class than those in a control group. Critically, “politically conservative parents who had the lowest concern levels before the intervention displayed the largest gains in climate change concern … fathers displayed greater gains in climate change concern than mothers,” and “daughters were more effective than sons in fostering climate change concern among their parents.”

In other words, because “high levels of parental trust in their children often leads to parents being willing to listen to or accept their child’s views on complex topics,” children can be the antidote to the climate denial brainwashing spread by Fox News. To achieve this goal, the United States should expand climate change education in middle school and ideally involve parents in class activities to promote this type of intergenerational learning.

As we’ve seen with the growth of school strikes for climate and protests by youth groups like the Sunrise Movement, today’s kids are becoming increasingly concerned and vocal about climate change. We may see American climate denial continue to shrink as more parents become convinced by their kids’ well-informed climate concern and advocacy.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists – Moribund US Nuclear Industry Dangers

In its effort to revive a moribund US nuclear industry, the Trump administration has put itself in the hands of our national laboratories. The laboratories have used the opportunity to reach for the public purse to pursue their nuclear dream, the same one that they have had since the beginning of the nuclear age, and that now has nothing to do with the country’s energy needs. The starting point on their wish list is a multibillion-dollar “Versatile Test Reactor” at the Idaho national laboratory, to test fuel for a new generation of advanced “fast” plutonium-fueled reactors.

From the beginning, the nuclear power technologists have really had one idea that gripped their imagination: that it is possible to build a plutonium-fueled fast reactor (“fast” because the neutrons released in the fission reaction are not slowed by a moderator) that produces more plutonium than it consumes. This allows continually refueling the reactor and using the excess plutonium to start more such reactors (hence the name “breeder reactors”).

It sounds like getting something for nothing, but in reality, it means using all the relatively cheap natural uranium as fuel instead of only the less than 1 percent that is uranium-235, as is done in the current generation of power reactors. In principle, this hugely extends the available fuel supply, a vital consideration in the early days of nuclear energy, when uranium was thought to be a scarce material.

In the 1960s the US Atomic Energy Commission saw the fast breeder reactor as the answer to the country’s long-term energy needs. It organized itself to produce prototype breeder reactors that industry would then replicate commercially. Breeder cores needed lots of plutonium as an initial charge. This had to come from reprocessing of spent fuel of existing reactors, so reprocessing was an essential feature of the shift to a fast breeder future. “Atomic” commissions in countries around the world followed this example, all with experts absolutely sure fast breeders would soon take over electricity generation.

As we know, it didn’t happen. The fundamental flaw in the argument was that uranium wasn’t scarce at all, there’s lots of it. Also, the breeder and reprocessing technologies turned out to be much more challenging and expensive than expected. Altogether, they didn’t make economic sense.

Another negative element entered the equation in the late 1970s. In their excitement over the fast breeder, the nuclear community ignored the consequences of feeding plutonium, a fuel but also a nuclear explosive, into commercial channels throughout the country, and ultimately the world. In 1976, to the dismay of fast-breeder enthusiasts, President Gerald Ford announced that US non-proliferation objectives would take precedence and put the technology on the shelf. He added that we could develop nuclear energy perfectly well without it. Jimmy Carter continued these restrictive policies with respect to plutonium.

None of this, however, changed the fast breeder’s Holy Grail status within the nuclear engineering community. That community got another chance during the George W. Bush administration, under a program called Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP. This time, instead of arguing uranium resource constraints, an economic non-starter, they focused on the nuclear waste issue and claimed fast reactors (now dubbed as “burners” rather than breeders) had special advantages in dealing with waste.

GNEP proposed to “burn” the (mildly radioactive) longest-lasting waste, by incorporating these elements into the plutonium fuel and consuming them along with the plutonium. The trouble was, making such fuel to commercial standards remained an unsolved problem, and the fast breeder prototype, slated for the Nevada nuclear lab, never got off the ground. In any case, with the advent of the Obama administration, the GNEP program was disbanded, and the Energy Department’s fast reactor program dropped out of sight.

It is now returning for the third time in the guise of the Versatile Test Reactor, which itself is derived from a fast breeder reactor design. Just like the old Atomic Energy Commission did half a century ago, the Energy Department now tells us plutonium-fueled fast reactors are in our energy future, never mind economics or the dangers of flooding the world with plutonium fuel. Under the heading of “Putting America First,” the Energy Department tells us building fast reactors is essential for “protecting our interests,” apparently because the Russians and the Chinese, unconstrained by economics, would be building them, and we would fall behind. It is thus “imperative” to build the several-billion-dollar VTR as a first step.

The first surge of interest in fast breeders the 1960s had a certain rational basis in resource economics, even though it got the basic facts wrong about the scarcity of uranium. The second surge, during the George W. Bush administration, however poorly conceived and opportunistic, was an effort to take advantage of a real public concern about disposal of nuclear waste. The current third push, using the Versatile Test Reactor as the thin end of a larger wedge of government support for fast breeder reactors, is based far less on economics or concern about waste than  purely on patriotic slogans. We don’t need it. Congress should say, “No.”


Saturday, June 08, 2019

Geoffrey Robertson – Exposed: a second-rate country unwilling to defend press freedom


What an irony. As the free world celebrates D-day and the heroes who kept it free from the Gestapo’s “knock on the door”, the international news on the BBC leads with the spectacle of the police raid on the ABC offices.

This could not happen in other advanced democracies, which all have constitutional protections for journalists and their sources of information, although of course it does go on in Istanbul and Rangoon – and now in Sydney. How did we become so out of sync on press freedom, invasions of which are the sign of a second-rate country?

The government can only say that police are independent. So they may be, but independence is no protection against police incompetence, illegality or plain stupidity (see, for example, the Victorian Police and “lawyer X”).

The safeguard against overzealous policemen is meant to be the courts – that is,  the judges – but this warrant was granted by “a Queanbeyan court registrar”. The warrant that allowed police to ransack News Limited journalist Annika Smethurst’s home on Tuesday was said to have been signed in secret by an “ACT magistrate”. This could never happen in Britain where any police application for “journalistic material” must be approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions and then put before a judge, with the media represented, and on no account can it seek to identify journalistic sources.
How come we allow inconsequential officials to authorise police to intimidate news-gatherers?

Scott Morrison says “no-one is above the law” so why should journalists have any special right? For one simple reason, Mr Morrison – democracy depends on it. It depends on an informed public, which means that journalists must be free to cultivate and to protect sources of important information about government agencies and businesses, otherwise news will diminish to what is fed to them by public relations departments, press releases and ministerial statements.

The public has a right to know about such matters as the alleged murder of women and children by Australian soldiers and plans for secret surveillance of Australian citizens: to ensure that information of this importance sees the light of day, some special protection must be provided to news organisations.

This is now accepted in the US – the first amendment, backed by “shield laws” that protect  journalists from police inquiries into their sources. It is accepted by the UK and by the 48 other countries that adopt the free speech guarantee in the European Human Rights Convention as a result of Goodwin v UK back in 1996. My client, a young journalist, had been ordered to disclose his source but the European Court ruled that protection of journalistic sources was essential to democracy, otherwise “the vital public watchdog role of the press” would be mooted and it’s duty to provide accurate and reliable information would be adversely effected.

Australia, unlike all other advanced nations, has no constitutional charter of rights protecting press freedom. However, the High Court, some years ago, discovered an “implication” in favour of free speech from the fact that the constitution establishes a democracy for which free speech is essential.

This week's raids have diminished Australia’s international standing, so Parliament must at least make amendments requiring police to obtain the DPP’s approval before any future attack on the media and requiring them to make an application to a real judge which the media can contest before any action is taken.

The behaviour of the AFP should be put under intense scrutiny by Parliament. Did it take legal advice before it applied for a warrant and from whom? Did it consider that the ABC had an obvious public interest defence? Does the AFP not consider the alleged murder of civilians by the Australian army is a matter of public interest? The ABC program went out in 2017. 

Why the long delay if national security were really at stake? What if anything did police tell the court registrar? The source of the leaks, former military lawyer David William McBride,  identified himself in March when he said he would defend charges on the grounds he had a duty to report the information. The leaker identified, were not the raids on the ABC entirely unnecessary?

And why did the AFP consider it necessary to ransack Smethurst’s home? If these and many other questions are not answered satisfactorily, then heads should roll.

This spectacle of AFP’s heavies looking over an editor’s shoulder should serve as a reminder that police raids on media officers, other than in times of emergency, are anti-pathetic to our law and our traditions. Captain Arthur Phillip brought with him the laws of England, including the famous precedent of John Wilkes awarded heavy damages for a general warrant allowing raids on his home and printing presses for criticising King George III.

Our first notable court decisions, following this precedent, were those of Chief Justice Frances Forbes, striking down Governor Darling's ill-tempered attempts to close down early versions of The Sydney Morning Herald. All judges, law enforcers and even Queanbeyan court registrars should be aware of this proud history and Parliament should make free speech a reality, not a “mere implication”, by enacting a proper shield law to protect journalistic sources and ending the secret rubber-stamping of national security warrants.

Better still, of course, would be a Charter of Rights of the kind that protects journalism in the US, Britain and Europe. Murdoch newspapers, which have long opposed it, should think again.


Sydney Morning Herald 8 June

Sydney Morning Herald 8 June 

Friday, June 07, 2019

BMUC – unconditional support for the staff and management at the ABC and Journalists

The Blue Mountains Union & Community Executive Committee express their unconditional support for the staff and management at the ABC and all journalists at this crucial time. We condemn the AFP attack on press freedom.

The Australian Federal Police raid on the ABC offices in Sydney on 5th June, 2019  follow a similar but unrelated raid on a News Corp investigative journalist Annika Smethurst’s home on 4th June, 2019.

These raids follow a pattern of increasingly secretive legislation over the last six years created not to just combat terrorism but to persecute and silence whistleblowers. These raids restrict freedom of the press and for journalists’ ability to undertake investigative journalism in Australia. The public's right to know and hold to account the country's government and its agencies has been seriously assaulted.

We believe the dark shadow of the Home Affairs department is behind these raids, so close to the Morrison Government’s re-election.

We call on all unionists and communities to register their condemnation of the raids and an immediate public enquiry into the new espionage laws and their effect on the future of public interest journalism and freedom of the press."

Anthony Albanese takes on Dutton

Anthony Albanese
In a fiery breakfast TV clash, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese locked horns over the AFP’s controversial raids on journalists.

Mr Dutton insisted that the Labor leader apologise live on air during the clash — accusing him of personally attacking the federal police officers involved in the raids.

“We have laws that operate in this country and the Federal Police who have been criticised by people including Albo, which I think has been quite unfair to target those officers individually,” Mr Dutton said. “You are criticising police officers.”

However, Mr Albanese — who could be seen shaking his head and laughing at Mr Dutton’s assertions — was having none of it.

He said Mr Dutton was trying to “deflect” the issue of press freedom by trying to make him apologise to police officers on live television.

“I’m targeting you, buddy. I’m targeting you, you’re the government,” he hit back. “I don’t even know who (the AFP officers) are. I’m on to you.

Timing of AFP raids stinks to high heaven

“I have said it’s outrageous that (News Corp journalist) Annika Smethurst’s house was raided by seven police for seven-and-a-half hours. That’s an outrage.”

Albo’s response was water off a duck’s back for Mr Dutton — who single-mindedly pushed for an elusive apology.


 Click for tickets and more information about the Activist Feast Fundraiser

Click here for tickets and information
Children accompanied by an adult are free.

Mingling and music!
We'd really love you to join us at our BBQ fundraiser for "Sing It! Say It!" and our other activities to enjoy an afternoon/evening of delicious food and local, live entertainment and to help us out.  If you can't make it to the BBQ you can still help out by making a direct donation online.
But hurry! Tickets are limited!
Open fires, great conversation and good food, enhanced by local musicians Wolf van der Made (2018 winner of Sing It! Say It!), Sy Dyson and Isaac Beggs.
We start in the afternoon with fine finger food provided by Japonica Catering. This will be followed later in the afternoon/early evening by the BBQ. High quality meat will be sourced locally from Portland accompanied by various side dishes. There'll be plenty of vegan soup that anyone can enjoy. There'll be home-baked bread, also courtesy of Susan of Japonica Catering. 
Bring your own alcohol or other drinks. The event will go ahead, even if the weather isn't suitable for an outdoor event. We have alternative arrangements in place.

Blue Mountains Unions & Community are doing more to spread the word that collective action works and is the most effective way to achieve change. As well as our much loved and classic Politics in the Pub, we're also broadcasting on Radio Blue Mountains and organising another "Sing It! Say It!" activist fest talent quest.

Your ticket money and donations is primarily for Sing It! Say It! but may help us fund our other activities too.

Thanks for helping us promote this event:
Retro Rehash
Radio Blue Mountains 89.1FM
Katoomba Music
Blue Mountains Gig Guide
Out of the Blue Mountains Music
Live Vibes
Feast of Fools
What's On Blue Mountains.

Thanks to our sponsors:
The Australian Services Union
The Family Hotel

Air Watch: 

monitoring air quality in the Blue Mountains

"The first week of air quality testing in the Blue Mountains has begun, following an intensive community campaign 
to make it happen."
Commissioned by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the 12 month project - called Blue Mountains
and Lithgow Air Watch - started on Tuesday May 14 and will measure Katoomba's air quality every hour. There
are smaller sensors measuring air pollutants close to the highway at Springwood and Wentworth Falls,
as well as at Lithgow. 
NSW EPA regional director metropolitan, Giselle Howard, said it will provide a valuable picture of air quality. 
Air quality under scrutiny 
The nearest NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) monitoring stations are at Bathurst and St Marys.
Wentworth Falls' air quality was briefly monitored (and cleared) for pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and
sulphur dioxide, in 1988-89.
The move follows more than a year of campaigning by the Blue Mountains Unions and Community group,
who have been particularly concerned by the effects of uncovered coal being transported on the train line.
Spokesman Peter Lammiman said the initiative "lays the foundation for ... near real time information about
local air quality".
"We look forward to working alongside community participants, the EPA and air quality experts. Fresh air is
one of the reasons so many people visit the world heritage-listed Blue Mountains ... through this project we
should begin to find out just how clean our air is."
Ms Howard said the temporary Katoomba air quality monitoring station, will be operated by OEH for 12 months
and measure carbon monoxide, fine particles (PM 10 and PM 2.5), sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon
ozone, visibility and meteorology.
"In addition, 12 portable solar powered Koala (knowing our ambient local air quality) sensors, operated by the
Queensland University of Technology, are located in Katoomba, Springwood, Wentworth Falls (Bodington Hill)
and Lithgow to provide indicative information on ambient air quality that will complement data from the
Katoomba station."
The project is run with the help of Mountains community groups, OEH, Blue Mountains and Lithgow councils,
Doctors for the Environment, Western Sydney University and the local health district. Schools, business and
community volunteers are hosting the sensors. The Katoomba station is on property owned by Air Services
Australia. In the first few days the readings were either good or very good. "

Link to EPA Media Release.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose condemns AFP raid, vows to fight attempts to 'muzzle' broadcaster

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has "grave concern" about this week's Australian Federal Police (AFP) raid at the national broadcaster, which she says were "clearly designed to intimidate".


Key points:

Ms Buttrose said she had a "frank conversation" with the Federal Communications Minister about the raid

She said: "As ABC Chair, I will fight any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster."
Wednesday's raid at the ABC's Sydney headquarters lasted more than eight hours



AFP officers executed a search warrant at the ABC's Ultimo headquarters on Wednesday, over a series of 2017 stories known as the Afghan Files.

In a statement, Ms Buttrose said she had a "frank conversation" with Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher yesterday, and that the raid was "clearly designed to intimidate".

The AFP also raided the Canberra home of a News Corp journalist on Tuesday — however that incident was not related to the ABC search warrant.

It is impossible to ignore the seismic nature of this week's events: raids on two separate media outfits on consecutive days is a blunt signal of adverse consequences for news organisations who make life uncomfortable for policy makers and regulators by shining lights in dark corners and holding the powerful to account," Ms Buttrose said.

"I also asked for assurances that the ABC not be subject to future raids of this sort.

"Mr Fletcher declined to provide such assurances, while noting the 'substantial concern' registered by the Corporation."

The Afghan Files stories, by ABC investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan and were based off hundreds of pages of secret Defence documents leaked to the ABC.

The ABC's Afghan Files stories in 2017 gave an unprecedented insight into the operations of Australia's elite special forces, detailing incidents of troops killing unarmed men and children and concerns about a "warrior culture" among soldiers.

"As ABC Chair, I will fight any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster or interfere with its obligations to the Australian public," Ms Buttrose said.

"Independence is not exercised by degrees. It is absolute."

Ms Buttrose, who is only the second woman to lead the ABC board, said an "untrammelled" media which upholds the community's right to information has driven her journalistic career for almost five decades.

"In my view, legitimate journalistic endeavours that expose flawed decision-making or matters that policy makers and public servants would simply prefer were secret, should not automatically and conveniently be classed as issues of national security," she said.

Ms Buttrose called the search warrant, which named Oakes, Clark and the ABC's Director of News Gaven Morris, as "sweeping".

Bruce McWilliam

Media executive and lawyer Bruce McWilliam has made a stunning attack on national security laws and the federal police, accusing successive governments of giving themselves "unlimited and dangerously wide power".

Mr McWilliam – who is best friends with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull – said police were given free rein by the courts to execute search warrants and subpoena documents, while parliamentary oversight of national security legislation was virtually non-existent.

Federal police raided the ABC's Sydney headquarters on Wednesday as part of an investigation into alleged leaks.

The comments come amid escalating demands for an inquiry into this week's twin raids against journalists from the ABC and News Corporation as part of two separate Australian Federal Police investigations into the alleged leaking of classified information.

It can also be revealed the Coalition government in 2015 explicitly rejected calls for new, legally enforceable protocols governing raids by the AFP on media outlets, arguing there should not be special provisions for journalists.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders said the images of AFP officers entering the ABC headquarters in Sydney on Wednesday was more like a scene from an authoritarian country, rather than a democracy. 

“Persecuting a media outlet in this way because of a report that was clearly in the public interest is intolerable,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“This kind of intimidation of reporters and their sources can have devastating consequences for journalistic freedom and independent news reporting.” 

ABC Managing Director David Anderson said he was heartened by the international coverage and support from colleagues across the globe.

"I had an email come in overnight from the director-general of the BBC offering his personal support," he told ABC radio on Thursday. 

"This has got the world's attention as to how important it is that we are able to go about our journalism."

Sydney Morning Herald

A sensational federal police raid on the ABC's Sydney headquarters has sparked a political firestorm over national security and the freedom of the press which poses significant tests for the re-elected Morrison government and the Labor opposition.

Coming just a day after a separate raid on the home of a News Corp political journalist, the search warrants related to the publication of stories in 2017 that accused Australia's elite special forces in Afghanistan of killing unarmed men and children.

The ABC's Sydney studios have been targeted in a raid by the Australian Federal Police - over a story known as the Afghan Files.

The Australian Federal Police stressed the raids were unrelated, while Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was forced to affirm the independence of the AFP from government after Labor queried the timing of the raids.


The ABC raid took place a week after a former Australian military lawyer was committed to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court charged over the leaking of documents now known as the "Afghan Files" to the ABC.

CPSU – TELSTRA JOB CUTS SHOWS MANAGEMENT OUT OF TOUCH

TELSTRA JOB CUTS SHOWS MANAGEMENT OUT OF TOUCH
JUN 05, 2019

The union representing Telstra workers, the CPSU, has condemned yesterday’s announcement that more job losses are to come in Telstra’s contracting workforce. As part of a cost-cutting exercise, another 10,000 jobs will be slashed. This takes the total number of jobs cut at Telstra to 18,000 by 2022.

CPSU Deputy National President Brooke Muscat said, “our members who will lose their jobs take little comfort in knowing that Telstra is attempting to shore up its share price. Thousands of people and their families have lost what little job security they had as contractors, all around Australia, because of this announcement. It will be particularly hard for our members in regional areas, where good, secure jobs are increasingly hard to find.

“Telstra management have taken what was once a proud public utility and not only have they failed to deliver value for the people who bought shares- they are failing workers as well. These cuts show a lack of strategic focus from what should be Australia’s leading telecommunications company. Instead of being ready for our digital future, they are flailing and getting rid of their greatest asset: their people.

“Wages are flatlining and our economy is showing the effects. We need governments and employers that are prepared to acknowledge reality and start investing in good services and good jobs. Instead, we see record low wage growth and more cuts that will simply hurt working people and their families.”

India – The Hindu Reports AFP Raids

Australian police raided the office of the national broadcaster on Wednesday over allegations that it had published classified material, the second raid on a media outlet in two days, prompting complaints of assaults on press freedom.

The Australian Federal Police said its officers carried out a search warrant at the head office of the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) in Sydney.

Police raided the home of a News Corp editor a day earlier, although they said the raids were unrelated.

The ABC said the raid was over its 2017 reports about alleged misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan, while News Corp said the raid at an editor’s home on Tuesday related to a 2018 report about plans for surveillance of Australians’ emails, messages and bank records.

“It is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way,” ABC managing director David Anderson said. “This is a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and defence matters,” he said.

News Corp, controlled by media baron Rupert Murdoch, called the raid “outrageous and heavy handed”, and “a dangerous act of intimidation”.

BBC Statement Re AFP Raids – An Attack on Press Freedom



Kerry O'Brien

Chair of the Walkley Foundation and long-time presenter of the ABC's 7.30 program Kerry O'Brien says this week's AFP raids on the ABC and a News Corp journalist are "unprecedented".

He tells Patricia Karvelas "people have to be really clear about what’s at stake here."


"If they care about democracy, this does go to the heart of democracy and the democratic process."



World media condemns Australian Federal Police raids targeting journalists

Two Australian Federal Police raids targeting journalists who exposed sensitive information about defence and intelligence agencies have sparked an international outcry. 

The AFP raid on the ABC's headquarters in Sydney over 2017 stories about Australia's special forces in Afghanistan followed a police search of a News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's Canberra home. 

He tells Patricia Karvelas "people have to be really clear about what’s at stake here."


"If they care about democracy, this does go to the heart of democracy and the democratic process."

World media condemns Australian Federal Police raids targeting journalists

The AFP raid on the ABC's headquarters in Sydney over 2017 stories about Australia's special forces in Afghanistan followed a police search of a News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's Canberra home. 

Reef Greef

ACTU – Raids on Media

Second AFP raid in two days on media a disturbing threat to press freedom
5 June 2019

The peak body for working people condemns two raids on journalists and media organisations by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 24 hours.

The AFP raid of ABC offices and three of its staff today is both a disturbing Government attack on press freedom and highlights the need for strong protections for whistle-blowers in the public and private sectors, in this case in The Afghan Files.

Journalism relies on being able to protect sources that are shedding light on secretive practices and poor behaviour by governments and businesses. A journalists’ code of ethics prevents them from revealing their sources.

The ABC raid is alarming and seriously threatens journalists’ ability to properly publicly scrutinise matters of national security and defence.

The union movement experienced a disgraceful abuse of state power in 2017, when an office of working people’s representatives were raided by representatives of the Registered Organisations Commission and the AFP.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien

“Two raids in just 24 hours on journalists and news organisations is a serious impingement on the freedom of press in Australia.

“It is outrageous that more than two years after a story was reported, but just weeks after a federal election result, the AFP are now raiding the ABC’s offices.

“We cannot allow police raids of working journalists and news organisations in Australia to become the norm.

“These raids are designed to intimidate journalists and media organisations and hunt down sources that reveal what governments are doing.

“These raids also come at a time when the public’s right to know is crucial.”

NYT – Australia May Well Be the World’s Most Secretive Democracy

SYDNEY, Australia — One journalist is being investigated for reporting that several boats filled with asylum seekers recently tried to reach Australia from Sri Lanka. Another reporter had her home raided by the authorities this week after reporting on a government plan to expand surveillance powers.

Then on Wednesday, the Australian federal police showed up at the main public broadcaster with a warrant for notes, story pitches, emails, and even the diaries for entire teams of journalists and senior editors — all in connection with a 2017 article about Australian special forces being investigated over possible war crimes in Afghanistan.

The aggressive approach — which Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has defended — fits with a global trend. Democracies from the United States to the Philippines are increasingly targeting journalists to ferret out leaks, silence critics and punish information sharing — with President Trump leading the verbal charge by calling journalists “the enemy of the people.”

But even among its peers, Australia stands out. No other developed democracy holds as tight to its secrets, experts say, and the raids are just the latest example of how far the country’s conservative government will go to scare officials and reporters into submission.

“To be perfectly frank, this is an absolute international embarrassment,” said Johan Lidberg, an associate professor of journalism at Monash University in Melbourne who works with the United Nations on global press freedom. “You’ve got a mature liberal democracy that pursues and hunts down whistle-blowers and tries to kill the messenger.”

The symptoms of what Mr. Lidberg describes as a national illness go beyond the latest investigations, and the causes are rooted in Australia’s history, law and public complacency.

Australia does not have a constitutional protection for freedom of speech. But its criminal code does have Section 70, which makes it a crime for any public official to share information without “lawful authority or excuse.”

That “secrecy foundation” — the law cited in the warrant against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the target of Wednesday’s raids — essentially states that no one in government can share information without a supervisor’s permission. It has been on the books since 1914, just after the outbreak of World War I, and is modeled on Britain’s draconian Official Secrets Act of 1911.

MEAA Second AFP raid a disturbing 'new normal' that seeks to criminalise journalism

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5TH, 2019 #MEAAMEDIA #PRESSFREEDOM FEATURED NEWS MEAA

Two raids by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on journalists and media organisations within the last 24 hours represent a disturbing attempt to intimidate legitimate news journalism that is in the public interest, says the union for Australian journalists, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

Yesterday’s raid on a News Corporation Australia journalist, and today’s raid on the ABC and three of its journalists, suggest that no media organisation is immune from government attacks on press freedom.

MEAA Media section president Marcus Strom: “A second day of raids by the Australian Federal Police sets a disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom. This is nothing short of an attack on the public’s right to know.

“Police raiding journalists is becoming normalised and it has to stop.

“These raids are about intimidating journalists and media organisations because of their truth-telling. They are about more than hunting down whistleblowers that reveal what governments are secretly doing in our name, but also preventing the media from shining a light on the actions of government,” he said.

“It is equally clear that the spate of national security laws passed by the Parliament over the past six years have been designed not just to combat terrorism but to persecute and prosecute whistleblowers who seek to expose wrongdoing. These laws seek to muzzle the media and criminalise legitimate journalism. They seek to punish those that tell Australians the truth.

“Yesterday’s raid was in response to a story published a year ago. Today’s raid comes after a story was published nearly two years ago. Suddenly, just days after a federal election, the Federal Police launches this attack on press freedom. It seems that when the truth embarrasses the government, the result is the Federal Police will come knocking at your door,” Strom said.

“MEAA demands to know who is responsible for ordering these coordinated raids, and why now. We call for the Government and Opposition to take collective responsibility for the legal framework they've created that is allowing for what appears to be politically motivated assault on press freedom,” Strom said.

“For years the Liberal and Labor parties have engaged in a high-stakes game of bluff which has seen the introduction of anti-democratic laws in the guise of national security legislation. It is time that the Government and Opposition had a common sense approach to defusing these poisonous laws that are effectively criminalising journalism. This attack on the truth must end.”