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I'll neaten the appearance - and maybe provide some commentary - someday soon.

Fair enough for a politician to do legitimate official business (with travel required) and then to do some 'personal stuff' in the waiting time (e.g. go to the movies/football/whatever) - but claiming to go to Parliament for business if not really going to parliament is really dodgy - putting it nicely.
WA Liberal MP Don Randall caught up in travel entitlements saga

By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths

Updated Wed 16 Oct 2013

PHOTO: Liberal MP Don Randall claimed more than $5,000 to stay in Queensland on "electorate business".(AAP: Lukas Coch, file photo)

A Federal MP from Western Australia has claimed more than $10,000 in travel entitlements to go to Cairns on "electorate business" and to Melbourne for "sittings of Parliament".

The Liberal member for the WA seat of Canning, Don Randall, claimed the cost of a one-night stay in the far north Queensland city for himself and his wife, as well as two airfares from Perth each worth $2,388.20.

A week after the November 18 trip, Mr Randall updated his register of members interests to declare that he had bought an investment property in Cairns.

"My wife and I have taken possession of the house at the Cairns location. We intend to rent the house as an investment," he stated in the register on November 26.

Taxpayers also paid for the Coalition MP and his wife to fly from Perth to Melbourne on Saturday September 15 last year at a cost of $5,203, for what a Department of Finance document says was "sittings of Parliament".

Parliament sat last year the week before that date and resumed on Monday September 17.

That Saturday night, the West Coast Eagles faced Collingwood in Melbourne in an AFL semi-final.

The ABC has asked Mr Randall's office whether he attended the game, whether the money is within entitlements and, if not, whether he intends to repay it. A spokeswoman for Mr Randall said the MP has "no comment".

Mr Randall has since released a statement saying he has checked the claims reported.

"The claims relating to travel were appropriately acquitted with the Department of Finance," the statement said.

The story first emerged on Fairfax media this afternoon and is the latest in a string of revelations involving both Coalition and Labor MPs making questionable claims. Some claims have been repaid.

It has also emerged that Mr Randall used his parliamentary allowance to purchase books, including the Guinness World Records and a book about Broadway Musicals.

"In relation to the purchase of books, these were under entitlement and were purchased as gifts for community groups and schools in my electorate," Mr Randall's statement said.


AEC will rob me of win: Palmer

AAP, October 11, 2013

Clive Palmer believes the Australian Electoral Commission will "rig" the Fairfax recount and deliver victory to his LNP opponent.

Mr Palmer says he's odds on to lose the contest with the LNP's Ted O'Brien, despite finishing ahead in two previous counts.

"I think in the end Ted O'Brien will win because the AEC will put him there," Mr Palmer told AAP on Friday.

"I've said that while I've been leading all along because the system is very corrupt.

"I've got great confidence in the AEC to rig the result."

Mr Palmer originally finished with 36 more votes than Mr O'Brien. His lead was whittled down to a mere seven votes after a full redistribution of preferences.

The AEC is now conducting a full recount which isn't likely to wind-up for at least another week.

While almost 55,000 of the 80,000 votes have been viewed, close to 30,000 have been challenged.

Of those, more than 15,000 have been referred to the AEC in Brisbane for a decision.

Mr Palmer said the situation was ridiculous.

"Both times I've won and now they are sending the ballots down to Brisbane to have a different AEC officer to do a different determination on them which is quite amazing," he said.

However, the mining magnate concedes the Palmer United Party is responsible for the majority of challenges which have questioned the validly of ballot papers.

Mr Palmer is also frustrated by the AEC's decision to conduct a West Australian senate recount which has put his candidate, Zhenya "Dio" Wang, at risk of losing his spot in the upper house.

He said it was "disturbing" the Electoral Commissioner had overruled a local officer's refusal of a recount, and ordered all of WA's 1.25 million above-the-line ballots to be recounted.

The AEC's Phil Diak didn't comment on Mr Palmer's claim that the commission was rigging the Fairfax result.

However, he said the decision to send thousands of ballots to Brisbane was in accordance with Commonwealth electoral law.

Mr Diak said the number of votes referred to the Australian Electoral Commission officer in Brisbane was high due to the amount of challenges, with most coming from PUP scrutineers.

The recount of the WA senate result was also in accordance with the electoral act, he said.

Clive Palmer issues warning to Government as Motoring Enthusiast Ricky Muir joins Senate voting bloc

By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths, ABC News

Updated Thu 10 Oct 2013

Clive Palmer has warned the Abbott Government it faces a "very cold winter" if it tries to split his Senate voting bloc, which has been bolstered by the Motoring Enthusiast Party's senator-elect, Ricky Muir.

Mr Palmer's three Palmer United Party senators will work with the Victorian senator-elect in a deal the multi-billionaire said was about "like-minded people working together".

The deal extends Mr Palmer's hold on the balance of power in the new Senate, which will change over next July.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott has issued his own warning in response, telling the minor parties to respect his Government's "clear mandate".

"Particularly after the difficulties of the last Parliament, I think the public want to see a much more constructive Parliament this time," Mr Abbott said, speaking at the East Asia Summit in Brunei.

"I am confident that every member of this Parliament will want to see a different spirit this time than last time, and I'm confident that everyone in this Parliament very well understands that this Government has a clear mandate to get certain things done.

"And I'm confident that minor parties in the Senate understand that and will support that."

Mr Palmer's announcement was made at a press conference in Sydney, presided over by the mining magnate and attended by Mr Muir and PUP senators-elect Glenn Lazarus (Queensland), Jacqui Lambie (Tasmania) and Dio Wang (Western Australia).

Mr Muir, who was elected with just 0.5 per cent of the primary vote, has largely been out of the public spotlight since the September 7 election.

If 'Erica' says he wants to negotiate individually with people, well, he'll have to negotiate with our team or he won't be negotiating at all. It'll be a very, very, very, very cold winter.

Clive Palmer

"I've been busy trying to tee up the best deal I can for the Motoring Enthusiasts," he said, adding that he had won PUP support for his motoring policies and would back the policies of Mr Palmer's party.

"It is our intention to vote together with the Palmer United Party in the Senate," he said.

"This will provide the Government and the people of Australia with certainty.

"Together, I can do so much more than I could have achieved alone."

Palmer takes swipe at 'Erica' Abetz

Mr Palmer also painted the deal as a source of stability but warned the Government's leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz, to respect the voting bloc - and did so using a derogatory nickname for the Liberal senator.

"This is a message really given that if Senator Abetz - if Erica says he wants to negotiate individually with people, well, he'll have to negotiate with our team or he won't be negotiating at all," Mr Palmer said.

"It'll be a very, very, very, very cold winter.

"But we hope we can bring that into a nice prosperous summer for the Government and the people of Australia."

The businessman has also used the new arrangement to bolster his case for extra resources, arguing that because his party will hold the balance of power it should receive the same funding as the Greens.

"History and the Australian people have placed these four senators in a position where they have to make critical decisions on a whole range of issues at an important time, and they don't want to make them in an uninformed manner or in an irresponsible manner," he said.

"If we look at what sort of resources the Greens had in the last Parliament to do that job, it's the same sort of resources that they'll need."

A political party needs five members of Parliament to gain official party status and earn the right to the extra funding.

Recount ordered in Western Australia

Meanwhile, in a development that could affect the future of PUP senator-elect Dio Wang, the Australian Electoral Commission has ordered a recount of more than 1 million Senate votes in Western Australia.

The direction was prompted by the close Senate count and appeals from both the Greens' Scott Ludlam, who lost his seat, and Australian Sports Party candidate Wayne Dropulich, who was edged out in final preferences.

But even if Mr Wang loses in the recount, Mr Palmer's party would still hold the crucial votes in the Senate.

The recount also puts the Senate seat of Labor's Louise Pratt in question.

Mr Palmer's own race in the Queensland Lower House seat of Fairfax has gone down to the wire in a recount that could take weeks, though he remains confident of victory.

The businessman says he has not decided whether to accept $2.2 million in electoral funding returned by the Australian Electoral Commission, in line with electoral laws regarding taxpayer funding for campaigns.

On Lateline last night, Mr Palmer said he did not know exactly how much he had spent on the campaign. 

"My wife knows. Somewhere between $8 million and $12 million, I suppose," he said.

He promised he would not be "claiming any entitlements" while in Parliament.


Victorian branch of Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party banned from contacting Senator-elect Ricky Muir

ABC News, Updated Tue 8 Oct 2013

The sacked Victorian branch of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (AMEP), which campaigned successfully for Ricky Muir to enter into politics, has had no contact with the Senator-elect since the election.

The former Victorian chairman of the AMEP, Scott McDonald, says there has been no sign of Mr Muir since Mr McDonald helped him win the Senate seat.

"Nobody's been able to contact him since the 10th of September," he said.

"We were banned from talking to him after the election.

"I've had no thank you for getting him into the seat. I've had no correspondence as to how he's going, if he's okay.

"To my knowledge he did not attend a meeting for newly elected senators last week. No one knows where he is, what he's doing or what's happening."

Mr Muir will represent Victoria in the Senate after receiving just 0.5 per cent of the primary vote.

But he will do so without any contact with the Victorian council, which was sacked on Sunday.

Mr McDonald stepped down as the Victorian chairman before the sackings.

The Federal Executive of the party sent notices to all members listing a series of breaches, including the unauthorised establishment of a social media presence and unauthorised media liaison.

Mr McDonald says 290 paid-up Victorian members were told about the sacking before the council was informed of its demise.

AMEP members 'controlled by Queensland'

Mr McDonald says the Queensland national executive created a wedge in the party.

"Since the election everything has been in lock-down, and any attempt to be open and honest with people has been shut down," Mr McDonald said.

"The party was always based on the fact we were not politicians, we were attempting to become politicians in an effort to be open and honest, and to bring honesty back to policy," he said.

He says the members are now being controlled by Queensland.

"We must stick by our original values," Mr McDonald said.

"The minute you start locking people out, and performing secret strategic plans, you form a split in a party, and you can't have that, especially in a small group.

"As a Victorian party we've had nothing to hide."

Mr McDonald says it is unclear if Mr Muir will take up the Senate position, and believes should he fail to do so, the Queensland national office will nominate someone else in Victoria.

"Given the fact they have sacked everybody who worked so hard to get them there, that they've disregarded Victorian members, it's going to be difficult," he said.

"Things aren't looking too flash at the moment and time is ticking away."


Taxpayers slugged $200,000 to fly MPs to Canberra for ALP leadership meetings
  • News Limited Network
  • October 08, 2013

TAXPAYERS will fork out up to $200,000 to fly Labor MPs to Canberra so they can vote for a new parliamentary leader.

As the Opposition ramps up its attack on Tony Abbott over entitlements, News Corp can reveal the public will pay a high price for the ALP's bold leadership experiment.

And several Labor MPs have expressed disgust at the expense of flying around 80 Caucus members to the national capital - for two separate meetings within the space of a few days.

With some business class airfares costing around $5,000, Labor MPs will firstly fly to Canberra on Thursday where they will vote in a leadership ballot for Anthony Albanese or Bill Shorten.

They will then return to parliament on Sunday where the winner will be announced. Labor's new frontbench will then be elected by the Caucus on Monday.

ALP national secretary George Wright confirmed the Labor Party will not be footing the bill to fly MPs back to Canberra for the first time since the September 7 election.

Instead the public will pay for flights, Comcar and other expenses. Opposition MPs will also be entitled to claim $268 in travel allowance if they stay overnight, adding to the cost of Labor's leadership experiment.

Labor MP Graham Perrett confirmed he will complete the return trip from Brisbane on Thursday - and then return to the ACT on Sunday. He is suggesting a review of the voting process including the possible use of electronic voting for MPs to minimise the burden.

"I would hope every member of the Labor Party would be minimising the costs of democracy," he told News Corp.

"But democracy is not cheap. It's an official parliamentary meeting. This is the first time such things have happened and we'll be looking at the process."

A spokesman for acting Labor leader Chris Bowen said it was "not without precedent that following an election and ahead of the first parliamentary sitting, Opposition parties meet to elect a new leadership team".

Labor MPs flying from West Australia will cost around $5,000, including just over $4,000 for the price of a business class airfare. The cost is much cheaper - around $1,810 per person - for 23 NSW MPs while the expense of transporting 24 Victorians - including Mr Shorten - is just over $2,000 each.

It is expected that some Labor MPs will stay overnight in Canberra between Thursday and Sunday - minimising the public expense.

One Labor MP said the public had a right to feel "disgusted" at the costs of the leadership ballot.

Mr Perrett said he expected the party would examine the introduction of electronic voting.

"In this age of the internet, we may be able to work out some processes in cutting out travel to Canberra for these things," he said.

Peter Slipper slams 'breathtaking' double standards over MPs expense entitlements

Jonathan Swan, Sydney Morning Herald

Former Speaker Peter Slipper has weighed into the expenses scandal, saying it was “breathtaking” that other politicians were allowed to pay back inappropriate entitlements while he faced court for his.

Mr Slipper, who could be jailed if found guilty of a taxpayer-funded tour of wineries using his government Cabcharge card, says he tried to repay about $1000 of expenses, but was not allowed to do so.

Incoming Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, arrives at Parliament House last month. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Other MPs, including the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have used the Minchin Protocol, which allows politicians to repay wrongly claimed entitlements without further consequences.


“What is breathtaking is that I am before a court … despite a number of attempts on my part to resolve the matter administratively,” Mr Slipper told Fairfax Media.

“Yet others are able to write cheques for much more in repayment, and in their cases the matter’s closed and no questions asked.”

Mr Slipper suggested his treatment made a “mockery of justice and fairness in this country … not to mention the almost $70,000 for the cost to the taxpayer of a seven-day trial.”

Court summons documents allege that on three occasions in 2010, Mr Slipper took a hire car to visit wineries that include the top-rated Clonakilla winery.

On one trip in January 2010, Mr Slipper allegedly travelled from Parliament House to six wineries before returning the hire car to a Canberra suburb. Mr Slipper also allegedly travelled to wineries using government Cabcharges again in April and June 2010.

"Mr Slipper knew that he was not entitled to use the Cabcharge card to pay for the hire-car fare, but he did so," the description of offences says.

The rules state that MPs can travel at government expense only if they are undertaking "parliamentary, electorate or official business".

Mr Slipper said it did the law “little credit” when similar cases were handled differently.

Mr Slipper said he believed he had been "targeted by the Coalition for accepting the Speakership".

PM defends wedding claims

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is in Bali for the APEC summit, told journalists he had examined his own expenses after the ''controversy arose'' last week about his colleagues using taxpayer funds to attend the 2011 wedding of the shock jock Michael Smith.

''I remembered that some seven years ago, I had been to a couple of weddings and so I went back and I checked,'' Mr Abbott said.

''I was advised... that the entitlement was unclear and so, in order to avoid doubt, I paid the relevant money back and, look, that's what people should do.''

Mr Abbott suggested his colleagues should ''err on the side of caution'' and if they had any doubts about their entitlements they should ''act immediately to clear the matter up''.

He said that was what he had done when he repaid $1095 he spent travelling to former colleague Sophie Mirabella's wedding in 2006.

Ask why he would claim travel to a wedding in the first place, Mr Abbott replied that at the time he was the leader of the House of Representatives and had ''certain representational roles'' he believed were ''within entitlements''.

Greens urge crackdown

Greens leader Christine Milne says the next Parliament must urgently pass legislation to clean up politicians' entitlements.

Senator Milne said she would introduce a private member's bill once the new Parliament begins, expected to be next month, which would establish an independent commissioner and a parliamentary adviser to oversee entitlements.

"This scandal has reached the highest political office in the country and must end now," Senator Milne said.

The Greens had legislation before the last Parliament to oversee MPs' expenses with a National Integrity Commissioner, but Labor and the Coalition refused to act, she said.

"The Greens will move our integrity legislation again as soon as parliament returns," she said in a statement.

The Greens' move comes after Fairfax Media revealed at the weekend that Coalition MPs had charged taxpayers about $15,000 to attend three separate weddings, and Labor MP Bernie Ripoll had watched the Tour de France on his French "study tour".

Mr Abbott also confirmed he repaid $1095 spent in travelling to the wedding of former colleague Sophie Mirabella seven years ago. The return of the money was prompted by media inquiries last week.

"The next wedding charged to the taxpayer should be an iron-clad marriage between elected public office and accountability with a National Integrity Commissioner," Senator Milne said.

"It's clear MPs need someone with whom they can discuss the appropriateness or otherwise of particular claims."

MPs could not make the issue go away simply by paying back money when they get caught out, she said.

Nor could they "hound the other side" when in opposition and then repay their own "inappropriate claims when in government".

The expenses scandal is "a serious institutional problem when MPs think it is defendable [sic] to make such dubious claims," Senator Milne said.

Greens Senator Richard Di Natale said the system of entitlements was ''very confusing and allowed ''politicians to exploit it''.

''What we've seen is Coalition politicians exploiting the parliamentary entitlements . . . effectively ripping off the taxpayer,'' he said.

Reputations at risk: Hewson

Former Liberal leader John Hewson has also warned Coalition MPs that they risk undermining their reputations as economic managers by charging taxpayers for personal indulgences such as wedding travel.

Dr Hewson said any new prime minister must set clear standards for the team as the ''fish rots from the head''.

Coalition MPs couldn't ''run on the line that [they] want to control government expenditure'' and at the same time waste taxpayers' money on their personal lives.

''I think that in the early days of any government you need to set the standards,'' Dr Hewson said.

But former Howard government minister Peter Reith disagreed, describing the wedding expense scandals as ''petty'' and arguing that politicians should be entitled to unlimited travel.

''I don't understand how you can have a system which says that some things that ministers do are part of business and others aren't,'' Mr Reith said.

''I think it's ridiculous putting limits on where ministers can go.''

Expenses scandals marred the early days of the Howard government with seven cabinet ministers resigning after breaching rules that required ministers to divest shares in portfolios they oversaw and be truthful in Parliament.

As a minister Mr Reith racked up a $50,000 phone bill at taxpayers' expense, which he repaid.

Asked whether taxpayers should foot the bill for MPs to attend weddings, Mr Reith said: ''Since when is that not being part of being a politician, you know, going out for lunch with a shock jock or going to his wedding? You'd be a mug if you didn't go to a shock jock's wedding if you're invited.''

In the past week, Attorney-General George Brandis and Agriculture Minister Mr Joyce reimbursed taxpayers after Fairfax Media revealed they had used public funds to attend the wedding of their friend, broadcaster Michael Smith, in 2011.

Joyce hits back

Mr Joyce said on Monday that political opponents were trying to ''level the score'' after the Coalition won the federal election by exposing his past travel claims.

''That's what happens in politics,'' he told Fairfax Radio in Melbourne.

''We never did anything illegal. You did everything that you were basically entitled to do.''

Mr Joyce said his decision to take a study tour to Malaysia after the Indian wedding actually made it cheaper for the taxpayer since Ms Rinehart paid for half the trip.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard's office has previously defended her use of a VIP jet to attend the wedding of her press secretary in Byron Bay last March, saying Ms Gillard had other commitments in the area.

Last month documents released under freedom of information laws showed Ms Gillard repaid $4243 in 2007 when she was deputy opposition leader in relation to her partner Tim Mathieson's private use of a taxpayer-funded car.

Tony Abbott claimed $600 to attend Peter Slipper's wedding

Jonathan Swan, Michael Bachelard, Daniel Hurst
07 10 2013

Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed more than $600 of taxpayer money to attend Peter Slipper's wedding in 2006 - a claim he has reimbursed in the wake of the past week's scandals.

An emotional Mr Slipper has responded to the news, saying that while other MPs had been allowed to repay errant expense claims, the charges brought against him had ''destroyed his life''.

Speaking to reporters in Bali on Monday, Mr Abbott mentioned discovering that he had billed taxpayers for a "couple" of weddings.

Fairfax Media understands the two weddings were those of his former colleagues Sophie Mirabella and Mr Slipper.

The Prime Minister has repaid both, as he said in the press conference. The Slipper wedding payment repaid was $609.10.

Peter Slipper and his wife Inge on their wedding day.Photo: Supplied

Mr Abbott, who is in Indonesia to attend the APEC conference, said he made the two reimbursements after Fairfax Media revealed a week ago that taxpayers met the costs of Attorney-General George Brandis and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce attending shock jock Michael Smith's wedding.

"I remembered that some seven years ago, I had been to a couple of weddings and so I went back and I checked," Mr Abbott said.

"I was advised, because I sought advice on this, that the entitlement was unclear and so, in order to avoid doubt, I paid the relevant money back and, look, that's what people should do.

Artist: Ron Tandberg.

"They should act within entitlements, they should err on the side of caution and if there is any doubt, they should act immediately to clear the matter up. That's exactly what I have done."

Earlier on Monday, Mr Slipper said he found it "breathtaking" that other politicians were allowed to pay back inappropriate entitlements while he faced court for his.

Mr Slipper, who could be jailed if found guilty of a taxpayer-funded tour of wineries using his government Cabcharge card, says he tried to repay about $1000 of expenses, but was not allowed to do so.

''What is breathtaking is that I am before a court . . . despite a number of attempts on my part to resolve the matter administratively,'' Mr Slipper told Fairfax Media.

Upon learning later on Monday that Mr Abbott used taxpayer funds to attend his wedding, Mr Slipper said it showed ''breathtaking hypocrisy'' given the Prime Minister's attacks on his character.

''I am before the courts for $964 when it seems to be carte blanche for Coalition figures simply to be able to write cheques for reimbursement,'' Mr Slipper said.

''This whole thing has destroyed my career and since April last year it has destroyed my life.''

He said the whole incident had ''robbed'' he and his wife, Inge, of the chance to have children as it became too stressful for her to undergo IVF.

Mr Slipper said he had written to the Department of Finance four times to try to repay his disputed expense claims, but was not allowed to do so.

''Given so many Coalition figures are engulfed in this and allowed to write a cheque . . . now the time has come for the allegations against me to be scrapped,'' he said.

Other politicians to have attended the Slipper wedding included Ms Mirabella, Bronwyn Bishop, Andrew Southcott, Peter Costello, Bruce Scott, Phillip Ruddock, Brett Mason, Patrick Secker and Kevin Rudd. It is not known whether others claimed taxpayer-funded travel to attend the wedding.

Labor leadership contender Anthony Albanese believes Mr Slipper has been subject to unequal treatment over the travel expense claims.

Asked on ABC radio if he thought Mr Slipper had been treated unfairly, Mr Albanese said one could ''draw a conclusion that . . . (there's been) unequal treatment''.

''People must have noticed the way in which the Coalition went after Peter Slipper, who's now before the courts over a claim that's much less than the money that has had to be paid back (by Coalition MPs),'' Mr Albanese said on Tuesday.

Fellow Labor leadership aspirant Bill Shorten said expense claim guidelines should be simplified.

''I think most members of parliament wouldn't deliberately diddle their expenses,'' he told ABC radio.

''But I also think this recent controversy shows that the guidelines need to be as unambiguous and as black and white as possible.''

Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus was more critical of the Coalition's link to expense claims.

''Clearly there is a definite scope for some serious investigation,'' he told ABC Radio.

Greens leader Christine Milne says the next Parliament must urgently pass legislation to clean up politicians' entitlements.

Senator Milne said she would introduce a private member's bill once the new Parliament begins, expected to be next month, which would establish an independent commissioner and a parliamentary adviser to oversee entitlements.

Professor Allan Fels, who was part of a 2010 committee review of parliamentary expenses, which found that the system should be overhauled, said a solution could lie in politicians' remuneration.

''The more we move to just paying them income and fewer direct allowances, the less controversy there will be,'' he said.

Mr Abbott had previously used the elevation of Mr Slipper to the role of Speaker to attack then prime minister Julia Gillard's ethics - even invoking the spectre of misuse of entitlements.

In October 2012 Mr Abbott accused Ms Gillard of cooking up a "squalid deal" that "involved placing in the chair of this Parliament someone whom her own government was investigating for misuse of entitlements".

"As things stand, this whole sorry Slipper saga illustrates the ethical bankruptcy of this [Labor] government," Mr Abbott said while calling for the removal of Mr Slipper from office.

Mr Abbott's parliamentary motion - in which he said the government should have ''died of shame'' - triggered Ms Gillard’s much-discussed misogyny speech.

Mr Abbott told Parliament Mr Slipper "appeared to be addicted in his text messaging" to "vile anatomical references" and was no longer fit and proper to preside over the lower house.

Mr Slipper survived the motion to remove him by one vote but resigned later that day.

In August 2010, when Mr Slipper was still a Liberal National Party MP, Mr Abbott defended the controversial Sunshine Coast MP amid questions over large travel bills.

"I'm satisfied [Mr Slipper] has acted within his entitlements," Mr Abbott said at the time.

But Mr Abbott became a stern critic after Mr Slipper accepted Ms Gillard's offer to be the Speaker and quit the LNP in late 2011.

Mr Abbott suggested Ms Gillard would come to regret the deal, saying people should "wait and see who Peter Slipper ends up ultimately damaging".

"A week or so back Peter was my problem and now he's the Prime Minister's problem," Mr Abbott said after the elevation of Mr Slipper to the Speakership.


Riders claim entrapment

Bellinda Kontominas, Sydney Morning Herald
06 10 2013.

Bikers beat fine after 'reckless' police operation

Police encouraged a group of motorcyclists to break the law, by forcing them to cross double lines, then fined them for it.

Police who deliberately baited motorcyclists to break the law then fined them have been exposed in a recent court case, leading to a magistrate describing the police as ''reckless''.

The finding could pave the way for scores of other riders caught using similar tactics to reclaim demerit points and fines.

The operation featured in the case took place on September 16 and 23 last year in a section of the Old Pacific Highway between Mount White and Brooklyn. The Ku-ring-gai highway patrol issued 68 tickets, all to motorbike riders.

Brothers Rod and James Ward were booked for crossing the road's double dividing lines. They were each fined $298 and lost three points. James said they had been on a casual ride when, ''in a flurry of dust and gravel'', a grey SUV pulled out in front of them, then sped up and slowed down several times. ''People were moving around inside the vehicle and there was a commotion going on in there and we didn't really know what was going on,'' he said. ''I thought initially it was some tourists who had been lost.''


He said the vehicle moved to the left ''as if to beckon us past'' so they overtook the SUV - an unmarked police car - by crossing to the wrong side of the road.

From inside the SUV, officers filmed the riders then radioed a patrol car down the road with their licence plate details.

The brothers described the incident as a case of police ''entrapment'' and challenged the fines in court, along with three other riders booked for the same offence.

While the defence of ''entrapment'' does not exist in Australia, their barrister argued the police acted improperly and that any evidence against the riders was inadmissible. The riders told the court they felt safer overtaking the undercover vehicle than following it as it veered across the lane. The officers involved denied the undercover vehicle was driven unsafely.

Magistrate Eve Wynhausen disagreed, describing their driving as ''erratic'' and said it had caused each of the riders to break the law. ''I am satisfied on the evidence that the driving had some influence on the actions of the defendants and that … they would not have committed the offences were it not for the way the covert vehicle was being driven on both those days.''

The case against the riders was dismissed. Ms Wynhausen criticised senior officers involved, saying their behaviour fell ''far short'' of the NSW Police Code of Conduct and Ethics.

A police statement said a standard review would be conducted into the failed court case and police would continue to target dangerous driver behaviour.

The brothers said they had been contacted by dozens of riders who had also been booked.


Tony said that he would not negotiate didn't he?


Abbott fires warning shot at Palmer
  • October 06, 2013

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott says there will be issues negotiating with Clive Palmer and his senators, and has fired a warning shot across the bow of the Titanic II developer.

The Palmer United Party (PUP) looks set to have three senators in the new-look upper house and Mr Palmer could still win a lower-house seat.

Once new senators take their seats next July, the government will need the backing of PUP and other crossbench senators to pass legislation if there is opposition from Labor and the Australian Greens.

"There's no doubt that there will be a few management issues," Mr Abbott told Macquarie Radio about negotiating with Mr Palmer, adding all senators would need to be treated with respect.

"Hopefully people like Clive will have learnt the lesson of the last parliament which is, if you get elected as a conservative and then act like a socialist, you get punished by the electors."

Mr Abbott thought the most interesting aspect of the September 7 election - which will lead to a number of micro-party representatives - was the Greens losing their balance-of-power role in the Senate.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne replied by saying Mr Abbott would face a steep learning curve if his new-found need for respect only extended to the conservative side of politics.

"I wonder what the rest of Australia thinks about Prime Minister Abbott taking credit for the bizarre make-up of the new Senate," Senator Milne said.

The Greens still haven't give up hope of snaring one last Senate spot off the PUP.

The declaration of the senate result in Western Australia has been postponed while the electoral commissioner decides whether to grant an appeal by Greens senator Scott Ludlam and allow a recount.

Senator Ludlam wants a partial recount after a 14-vote difference between micro-parties, the Shooters and Fishers Party and Australian Christians, handed a third senate seat to the PUP.

The Australian Electoral Commission denied the initial request but is considering an appeal.

Senator Ludlam argues a recount should be ordered given the wafer-thin margin could alter two Senate seats.


Gillard appointed to US think tank

October 3, 2013

AAPJulia Gillard joined a US-based research institution to advance initiatives on global education.

Julia Gillard will use her credentials as an "education reformer" when she starts work with a leading US think tank on advancing girls' schooling in developing countries.

The former prime minister has joined the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution as a non-resident senior fellow, where she will work to advance the centre's key initiatives on global education.

Ms Gillard said she was "honoured and delight" to accept the invitation to become affiliated with global education programs at the prestigious research institution.

"I very much look forward to making a contribution to the effectiveness and reach of these important initiatives, and advancing the policy objectives and outcomes we share," she said in a statement.

Brookings president Strobe Talbott said Ms Gillard made education a top priority during her time as prime minister.

"With her experience as a political leader and prime minister, and as an education reformer, she will bring expertise and distinction to the centre and its mission," he said.

Under Ms Gillard's leadership, the Australian government had extended financial support to families for their children's school needs, improved schools transparency through the MySchool website and introduced laws to boost school standards.

The think tank also noted when education minister, Ms Gillard oversaw the government's $16 billion Building the Education Revolution schools infrastructure program.

In her new role, Ms Gillard will work on key initiatives on global education, particularly girls education in developing countries.


Joyce pulls in his horns on foreign land buys

By Sally Bothroyd, ABC News

Updated Thu 3 Oct 2013

PHOTO: Indonesian agribusiness Santori says its purchase of the two Northern Territory cattle stations, which cover an area of more than 5,500 square kilometres, should not spark concerns about foreign ownership of Australian farm land.(ABC Rural)
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he changed his mind about Indonesian investment in Australian cattle properties after discussing the issue with Northern Territory producers.

Indonesian agribusiness Santori yesterday confirmed it is buying Inverway and Riveren stations in the Victoria River District, about 550 kilometres south-west of Katherine.

Senator Joyce has previously expressed concerns about foreign investments in Australian agricultural interests but he says he has since spoken to Territory cattle producers who are in favour of the sale.

"They want the sale to go forward because they believe that it assists in the growth of the live cattle trade, which is of great assistance to the Northern Territory," he said.

"To be frank, my initial views where I had some hesitancy have been mitigated a lot by discussions with cattle producers in the area."

Mr Joyce says the sale to Santori, the largest Indonesian importer of Australian cattle, could benefit the nation's live animal export industry.

"This gives us the capacity to work in a joint venture with the Indonesians," he said.

Santori executive Bruce Warren says its purchase of the two cattle stations, which cover an area of more than 5,500 square kilometres, should not spark concerns about foreign ownership of Australian farm land.

Santori is the largest Indonesian importer of Australian cattle.

Mr Warren says investment between Australia and Indonesia should work both ways.

"Indonesia is talking about wanting Australia to invest in Indonesia," he said.

"I think, from a neighbour point of view, we have to interact with each other in businesses.

"I have been in Indonesia for 13 years and the potential for investment in Indonesia is astounding."

Territory Primary Industries Minister Willem Westra Van Holthe has welcomed the Indonesian purchase.

He says the move shows confidence in the sector.

"Indonesia does have a great relationship with the Northern Territory and we've been working very hard on that on a number of years now," he said.

"This is a great thing for the cattle sector."

Climate Change Ice-Capped

Written by Cal Thomas, Tri-County Times on September 25 2013.

There is a tradition in politics that is similar to one in the legal profession: When evidence supports your position, make your argument based on the evidence, but when it argues against your position, ignore the evidence and appeal to emotion.

The evidence is piling up that ‘climate change,’ formerly known as ‘global warming,’ is losing evidentiary support.

Most bad weather — from hurricanes, which have been few this season, to tornadoes — are unwelcome by those in their paths, but these weather phenomena have existed for centuries. Both sides seem to agree that CO2 levels are elevated, but they don’t agree on whether that will cause dangerous climate change, including rising temperatures and turbulent weather.

Yet the climate change cultists continue to focus on melting polar ice caps and ‘displaced’ polar bears as part of their emotional appeal for government to ‘fix’ the problem. Now comes a report in the UK Daily Mail that ‘eminent scientists’ have observed a record return of the Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60 percent in a year, covering with ice almost 1 million more square miles of ocean than in 2012.

In 2007, the BBC reported that by 2013, global warming would leave the Arctic ‘ice free.’ Oops!

Last March, the Daily Mail reported that global temperatures are about to drop ‘below the level that the computer models forecast with 90-percent certainty.

Yet both poles have record expanding ice. Global temperatures have failed to rise for 15 plus years, sea level rise is failing to accelerate, tornadoes are at record lows, hurricanes are near record low activity

Billions of dollars and other currencies have been diverted into ‘green’ projects in a Chicken Little attempt to stop the sky from falling. Most media ignore evidence that counters climate change proponents.

Former Vice President Al Gore has made a personal fortune promoting the cult of global warming, a cult being partially defined as a belief system that ignores proof contrary to its beliefs.

Perhaps the climate change counter-revolutionaries should adopt the yo-yo as their symbol and send Gore and his apostles a box of them.

Bishop cancels first class tickets to New York

September 14, 2013
Noel Towell, Reporter for The Canberra Times

Return Business Class to Europe from AUD $4200 and USA from $4500

Cutting costs: Julie Bishop. Photo: Pamela Mirghani

Incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop has already clashed with her department over luxury hotel accommodation on an upcoming trip to New York.

The minister-elect told Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade bureaucrats to slash the cost of the trip after they planned to book $1850-a-night rooms at a swish Manhattan hotel for an entourage of dozens.

Ms Bishop also instructed DFAT not to book her on first-class flights when she travels overseas in her new brief.

It is understood departmental bosses want to take a delegation of 23 public servants to the United Nations leaders' summit on September 19-20 along with two ministers and three of their staff with the travelling party staying at the four-star Westin Midtown Hotel. The department planned to put Ms Bishop and her colleagues in a suite at the Westin as part of an accommodation package worth $132,048.

But the incoming minister, who has yet to be sworn in, told her department she wanted to stay in an ordinary room and that they should ditch the idea of the suite and that, for future reference they should not book her in first-class on international flights. She sent the public servants back to their department to revise the cost of the trip.

Ms Bishop has a hectic schedule of travel ahead, with a trip to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea planned, as well as the New York summit, with the Coalition's plans to halt asylum seeker boat arrivals likely to be high on the agenda.

It is understood that other priorities for trips for Ms Bishop would be New Zealand, Japan, China and South Korea.

The Coalition fought the election campaign with a pledge to reduce public service spending and reduce the number of public servants by 12000.

Ms Bishop's office declined to comment on and DFAT failed to respond to questions. As part of its increased efficiency dividend on the public service, the Coalition has pledged to crack down on expenses such as travel.