Tag: ALP

Anti- graft commission to start public hearings on Oct. 11 into allegations of ALP ‘branch stacking’ aired in media reports in 2020

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Photo- SAT

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 30 September 2021: The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) will hold public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct involving Victorian public officers, including Members of Parliament. The hearings are part of Operation Watts, a coordinated investigation between IBAC and the Victorian Ombudsman, which is looking into a range of matters including allegations of ‘branch stacking’ aired in media reports in 2020. The hearings will start on Monday, 11 October 2021. A video stream will be broadcast via the ibac website.

The public hearings are likely to summon Labor Right leader Adam Somyurek, reports The Age. Mr. Somyurek was sacked by Premier Daniel Andrews after the 2020 media alligations. Two other Ministers, Mr. Soumyurek’s factional mates, Marlene Kairouz and Robin Scott also quit the cabinet.

According to the ibac website – “The scope and purpose of the public hearings is to investigate:

Whether public officers, including Victorian Members of Parliament, are engaging in corrupt conduct while in public office by directing ministerial and electorate office staff to perform party‐political work during times when those staff are paid from public funds to perform ministerial or electorate work.

Whether public money granted to community associations by the Victorian government has been misused to fund party‐political activities or for other improper purposes and, if so, whether the Ministers or other public officers involved in granting the funds have dishonestly performed their functions as public officers or have knowingly or recklessly breached public trust.

The circumstances surrounding any actual or potential personal benefits obtained by any public officer, their families or their associates, resulting from, or otherwise in connection with the use of ministerial and electorate office staff to perform party‐political work or grants made to community associations.

The systems and controls in place to monitor the expenditure of public funds for ministerial and electorate office staff and the making of community grants and the extent to which organisational culture and practices have fostered that conduct or hindered opportunities or attempts to detect and eliminate that conduct.

The hearings will be presided over by IBAC’s Commissioner The Honourable Robert Redlich AM, QC. Counsel assisting will be Chris Carr SC of the Victorian Bar.

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is encouraged to report it at www.ibac.vic.gov.au/report or phone 1300 735 135.”

NEWS ANALYSIS: Diversity in political representation in Australia a far cry

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 18 September: Labor’s Kristina Keneally moving to the safe Labor seat of Fowler, at the cost of Vietnamese origin lawyer Tu Le, in Australia’s most multicultural Federal seat, has opened a can of worms, that’s too revealing.

Victoria has only one Indian-origin MP, Labor’s Kaushaliya Vaghela, from the Western Metropolitan Region. She was born in India. There is another MP who is of South Asian origin. In fact, people keep trying and years are lost. There could be many reasons, but the central message being that political representation in Australia is not diverse despite few exceptions.

Mr. Vasan Srinivasan, the former Liberal candidate from Forest Hill and the current Chairperson of the Mental Health Foundation of Australia (MHFA) talking to SAT said, ” We are the most successful multicultural nation, we have 200 plus nationalities and 200 plus languages spoken, and over 100 faiths practiced, living peacefully and in harmony, but are still lacking in political diversity.”

Mr. Manoj Kumar, former Labor candidate in Menzies (Federal), and Forest Hill (Victoria where he lost by a small margin) and from the Subcontinent Friend’s of Labor (SCFOL) has demanded a 20% quota at all levels of representation for people of color (non-Europeans) to ensure true inclusion and diversity in Australia. The demand might be a shocker for Australian politicians, but portrays a popular community narrative that non-Europeans normally are pre-selected in seats where getting elected is as difficult as reaching Mars.

Surjeet Dhanji from the Melbourne University’s School of Social Sciences and Post-doctoral Fellow Australia India Institute in an article in the Melbourne Asia Review (The ‘missing’ Indian-Australians in politics) says: “A major finding of my research is that the complex process of preselection by political parties is a significant hurdle.

There is a prevailing perception among respondents that regardless of the contribution of these candidates to the community, first preference in winnable seats is given to candidates with Anglo-Celtic backgrounds.”

Today’s Guardian Australia tells the tale. According to the 2016 census, in Australia, 58% of the people are of Anglo-Celtic ancestry and 18 % European. Non-Europeans are 21 % and the owners of our country, the Aboriginal and Torris State Islands people are 3 %. Whitlam ended the White Australia policy in the 1970s and we now have a diverse multicultural population that has given great respect to Australia as the most diverse nation in the world. But this is not reflected politically. Diversity in political representation is a far cry.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in 2018 discloses (quoted in Guardian Australia) in Australia’s 45th Parliament there were only 4.1 % non-Europeans and 1.5 % indigenous people. It speaks for itself. One wonders if having a few names in the Senate and states is multiculturalism or a reflection of diversity.

The issue is well nailed by Osmond Chiu in Lowy Institute’s – The Interpreter (Australian Politics Should Be As Diverse As Its People – 23 March 2021 – lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/australian-politics-should-be-diverse-its-people?fbclid=IwAR3dK4BbT_GwxRSYdHmJdhpYfHq6WYE-oNHcQ4hJHfT-hSyw89MWLOO52y0):

“There is a powerful symbolism in improved political representation. It may sound trite, but you can’t be what you cannot see. Role models create a sense of viability – which matters because it encourages others to aim higher, and it elevates voices that will enable Australia as a country to move beyond the simplistic and one-dimensional conversations about race. It also shows that the claims that cohesive liberal democracies require homogeneity are false. Equality and freedom are not culturally specific – they are universal values.

Unless action is taken now, Australia’s democratic institutions will become even less representative as the country becomes more diverse. It is essential to push back against illiberal nationalism by demonstrating Australia’s multicultural liberal democracy delivers freedom and equality for all, regardless of citizens’ cultural background. The status quo reinforces a historical perception that Australia is a white settler colonial outpost, and it makes it harder to navigate an increasingly fraught regional geopolitical environment.”

Bill Shorten: We cannot abandon Australians in India, as we didn’t do elsewhere; for vaccine production ‘people before profits’ needed

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, April 30, 2021: Labor leader Bill Shorten today said, “we cannot abandon Australian’s in India, as we didn’t do elsewhere. They are sitting duck to COVID as the system there is overwhelmed.” Mr. Shorten was talking to the media at his Electorate Office in Moonee Ponds.

BILL SHORTEN’s OPENING REMARKS Media Conference 30 April 2021 (See Video)

He called upon the Scott Morrison government to bring the Australian’s in India home with all the precautions when they are here and extend more material support to India.

Answering a pointed question by South Asia Times (SAT) about the Carona vaccine patent issue, Mr. Shorten said once in a generation we should not just be looking after profits of multinationals and share our knowledge more widely. What we need to do is to put “people before profits”.

BILL SHORTEN ANSWERS TO South Asia Times (SAT) questions (See Video)

About a global response to the Indian situation Mr. Shorten said, ” What happens in one country, is not happening in another country. This does not understand the nature of the virus and how you can beat it. You need to stamp out the virus everywhere.”

Anthony Albanese: Australia needs a post COVID plan for job creation; slams Tony Abbott’s London views about elderly people as shocking

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 2 Sept 2020: The quarterly dip of seven percent GDP for the June quarter, has pushed Australia officially into recession. This the country’s first recession in 30 years due to the pandemic lockouts and restrictions. Some of the restrictions in Melbourne are likely to be relaxed on Sunday 6 August. This has necessitated thinking about how to overcome the economic downturn in the post COVID period.

Australia needs a plan for jobs in the post-pandemic period, says Anthony Albanese, Leader of the ALP, and member for Gryndler. Anthony was replying to a question by South Asia Times (SAT) as to what are the essential steps needed to revive the Australian economy in the post-pandemic period? The Labor leader was speaking at a Zoom media conference today for CALD media groups.

He said, ” And that can be across a range of traditional areas, but also new areas. The pandemic has identified as someone said to me at one of the forums, a pandemic is like an X-ray, it shows us what’s broken. And there is a range of things that are broken. The fact that we have issues, even if there is a vaccine, do we have enough vials? Are we able to produce them here in Australia?

A whole range of areas where we’ve been shown to be vulnerable, things that should be produced here, there was an issue with ventilators, for example. So we need to look at what areas of manufacturing are required and how the government can support the private sector to undertake work there. There’s also going to be a direct public investment required in areas such as infrastructure bring forwards, both in terms of transport infrastructure, in the traditional way that it’s seen, but in other areas as well, such as social housing. We have a great need that’s on the waiting list for public housing in this country are enormous, people just can’t get in.

Now, during the pandemic, we put homeless people up in hotels because there weren’t housing options available. We think that direct job creation to public housing expansion would as well of course create an asset at the end and that’s why it would be valuable. Other areas as well, we had the New South Wales premier last week say that New South Wales wasn’t very good at making trains or public transport infrastructure.

It’s absurd that that’s the case and regional centers like Maryborough in Queensland, Newcastle historically, and Ballarat in Victoria, in Western Australia the WA Government making sure that they make things here is really important for those communities. When you visit Melbourne and see made in Victoria on the trams, on the side. People are proud of that. So we need to have a concerted job creation program, which we’re not seeing from this government at this point in time.”

Answering another question by the South Asia Times (SAT) to comment about Ex-PM Tony Abbott’s speech in London where he made comments that families would have to make decisions, to let nature take its course and allow elderly people to just die during this in the context of the pandemic, Mr. Albanese said, “Tony Abbott was never known for his compassion, but this is a new low. The idea, he’s not alone, there have been some other commentators have a view that because the pandemic doesn’t exclusively, but older people are more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19, than people who are younger and fitter, can impact young people as well. But, they’re particularly vulnerable, and we knew that that was the case.

The idea, that as has been said that we just old people are going to die anyway, this just brings it forward. Where that sort of attitude ends up is, I think, in a place, I don’t want Australia to be. The idea that we are essentially complacent, and we essentially see older people as being well, they going to die anyway and therefore we don’t have to do everything we can to keep them in good health and if they do get sick to look after them. This flies in the face of humanity.

I was shocked, frankly, by the heartless nature of the comments. But I was also shocked that Scott Morrison said that 97% of aged care facilities didn’t have COVID-19, as if that was a good outcome. I am concerned that for both those comments for the more than 450 grieving families who have lost a loved one, will be hurt by that. These are real people, with real families. They’re our mums and dads, our grandfathers, our grandmothers, they’re our sisters and brothers. And I just think that Tony Abbott’s comments were regrettable, is the kindest word that I can say.”

The media conference was also attended by Andrew Giles MP, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs & Assisting for Immigration & Senator Kristina Keneally Deputy Leader in the Senate.