Free market think tank urges privatisation of ABC

The proposed privatisation of  the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) could be an ultimate blow to Australia’s clean energy policies if it pushes through. The county’s fossil fuels think tank highly recommends the public broadcaster to be silenced by transferring its management to the private sector.

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)  released a report this week saying that the ABC is bias against the fossil fuels industry and  is leaning towards the left with favourable reporting on  renewable energy. IPA commissioned iSentia in March to do an analysis based on ABC’s coverage of energy policy issues, including the coal-mining, coal-seam gas, and the renewable energy industries.

Privileged occasions where Abbott-Murdoch-Rinehart get together. Top photo shows Gina Rinehart whispers to PM Tony Abbott while below, Murdoch is with the mining goddess.

“If bias at the ABC is systemic, only structural reform will solve it. A new board or management won’t change the culture. Privatising the ABC is the only way to ensure taxpayers’ money is not used to fund biased coverage,” IPA said in its website.

But oppositions to the fossil fuels industry are saying the contrary. Privatising the ABC would limit reporting on renewable energy policies, giving way to big-scale investments on fossil fuels. GetUp! said privatising the ABC will thwart Australia’s burgeoning renewable energy industry in favour of fossil fuels.

A speech delivered by Len Cooper, secretary of Communications Workers Union, in Wodonga on 16 June 2014 also said Prime Minister Tony Abbott made a  pre-election pledge. He promised his party, industry think tanks, and supporters to dismantle policies that are not favourable to encourage investments. Cooper added, “the IPA has over 100 policy demands it has wanted and wants the Abbott Government to implement.”

Copper revealed the guests who attended the 70th Anniversary IPA dinner in April 2013 before the federal election. She said high profile guests included mining queen, Gina Rinehart and media mogul, Rupert Murdoch who was one of the keynote speakers. Early on, Abbott assured his guests his government will repeal the carbon tax, abolish the climate change authority, and disband the Clean Energy Fund.

The IPA claims itself as the world’s oldest right wing think tank representing big businesses with close links to the Business Council of Australia. It advocates free market economics, privatisation, deregulation, limited government, and a free market approach to environmental problems.

Cooper accused the IPA of being an instrument in forming the Liberal Party and is also a fund raiser for the party with major donors from the resource industry such as ExxonMobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris, Murray Irrigation Ltd., Clough Engineering, Caltex, Shell, Esso, Electricity and Mining companies, and British American Tobacco among others.

ABC Friends also noted how Abbott praised his fellow keynote speakers, especially Murdoch.

Without specifying what items on the IPA’s list to radically transform Australia he would not implement, Abbott’s broad response was: “a big ‘yes’ to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me”. So what would be the result if the IPA’s policy for the ABC was implemented? Public broadcasting – gone. The ABC to be broken up and sold off, and SBS to be fully privatised.

Large-scale protests are already brewing to lambast Abbott’s leadership policies..GetUp! said “we actually had a good laugh, until we realised – this is no joke. “

GetUp! said the IPA’s report purports to have  uncovered “media bias” but the fact remains that “As we all know by now, the right-wing think tank just happens to be supported by the likes of Murdoch and Rinehart.”

Dark, thick smoke from coal-fired power plants is belched into the atmosphere. (Photo: ABC)

The scary truth is right now we are watching the IPA’s radical conservative agenda become a reality before our eyes – from the dismantling of the carbon price to a budget that elevates big business over everyday Australians. Its seemingly impossible wish list of 75 conservative items has been rapidly ticked off as our Prime Minister adopts them with abandon.

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne described the Coalition as an ‘Abbott-Murdoch-Rinehart collaboration directed and promoted by the IPA.’

Meanwhile, the Guardian said there are many indicators how to determine whether news reporting is objective or biased. But whether ABC is bias or not, “A KPMG report leaked in 2006 considered the ABC to be highly efficient and underfunded.”

A positive mention of Crikey: “The ABC provides a high volume of outputs and quality relative to the level of funding it receives … the ABC appears to be a broadly efficient organisation.”

Link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

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Singapore: a new investment prospect for Australian mining tycoons

Australian mining billionnaires have got enough when it comes to exorbitant Government taxes. Now, they are looking for investment elsewhere.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart is reportedly bought two condo units worth AU$43.8 million.

Gina Rinehart, owner of Hancock Prospecting Pty. Ltd. and known as the world’s richest woman, set her eyes on property investment in Singapore to avoid higher taxes on capital gains.

Fairfax Media said Rinehart purchased two condominium units costing $S57 million ($43.8 million) in the Seven Palms Sentosa Cove. One unit on the third floor of the four-storey complex costs about $S23.3 million while the top-floor unit fetches up to nearly $S33.9 million.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart acquires the largest stake at Fairfax media. (Photo: Patrick Hamilton)

Along with Rinehart, coal magnate Nathan Tinkler of Whitehaven Coal Ltd. is also rumoured to have put off his plans for a $13 million beachfront home in Newcastle, New South Wales and “shipped his family off to Singapore.”  Tinkler is said to have bought in the Santosa Cove area as this is the only area on the island nation where foreigners can buy property, Yahoo Singapore reported.

Live Trading News said Tinkler’s Sydney-based public relations firm confirmed the tycoon’s relocation to Singapore to enable Tinkler to be closer to his Asian partners.  Although the main office remains in Brisbane, the Tinkler would allot his time 50 percent overseas, the report added.

According to Brisbane Times, his spokesman, Tim Allerton, said the principal place of residence would now be Singapore. “He just wants to be closer to the markets, to Asia.”  Tinkler’s wife and their four school-age children left Newcastle to join him, Allerton said.

This beachfront property beckons wealthy expat elites. (Photo: SMH)

Located near Tanjong Beach, Seven Palms is a four-storey residential development that features just 41 units. Nearing completion, it is designed by Perth-born architect Kerry Hill. Its website flaunts, “Located on the tranquil eastern coast of Sentosa Island, Sentosa Cove is Singapore’s first and most exclusive marina residential community that offers tropical resort living just minutes from the hustle and bustle of city life in mainland Singapore.”

Property investment speculators claim Singapore is Asia’s new Switzerland– a major financial hub with strict banking secrecy laws– besides it  is increasingly styling itself as an exclusive place to live. Non-Singaporean nationals can purchase properties on a 99-year lease program in the area under strict provisions that the property is owner-occupied and never rented out.

Singapore is the world’s lowest in personal taxes rate with a cap of 20 percent, compared to an atrocious 46.5 percent top tax rate in Australia.

Sentosa Cove to match a luxury lifestyle (Photo: SMH)

Whether facing the majestic South China Sea, the spectacular verdant fairways of the Tanjong golf course, or the calm serenity of the waterways, each generously-portioned land parcel represents a blank canvas upon which to design and build your dream residence.

Come and be among the discerning few to experience the epitome of luxury resort living at Sentosa Cove, Singapore’s most exclusive real estate.

Nathan Tinkler of Whitehaven Coal Ltd has moved to Singapore from Brisbane with wife and family. (Photo: Live Trading News)

Blog Link : ASIAN CORRESPONDENT

Australia’s new Fairfax media to promote mining agenda?

Following Gina Rinehart’s massive share buy outs last week, Fairfax announced its long-overdue plan to go digital via paid subscription— scrapping outdated print versions of Australia’s major broadsheets, namely the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart is now one of Australia’s most powerful women (Photo: AAP)

The media company is set to shut down the printing presses of the two papers located in Chullora in Sydney’s south-west and Tullamarine in north-west Melbourne, respectively, the ABC reported.

About 1,900 jobs have to go in the next three years shocking workers at the presses.

Andrew Jaspan, former editor-in-chief of The Age and a current editor of The Conversation, also said about about 20 percent of the editorial staff, about 150- 200, are also poised to lost their jobs. He added that the media company can still produce a “premium print” edition using a few journalists.

He said the media company has been mismanaged by people who do not have direct experience in the media industry.

Fairfax announced massive job cuts (Photo: Julian Smith)

The print editions, he said, are outdated formats invented 155 years ago noting that the Internet has radically changed the nature and the way news are distributed. He said “rivers of gold” generated by advertising have been dried up.

One by one Fairfax was stripped of its classified advertising “rivers of gold”. The jobs went to Seek.com.au, Cars to Carsales.co.au, homes to Realestate.com.au.

He proposed the digitalisation of Fairfax way back in 2007 when the company’s market value was $5 billion. After five years, the value dipped to as low as $1 billion. The shareprices also collapsed from $5 per share to 60 cents which predators like Rinehart has taken advantage of, he added.

The former Fairfax editor said Rinehart will not run the media like an investor but instead she will use the media to sway public opinion.

Back in 2010 she and her fellow mining barons spent $22m to get rid of Kevin Rudd’s proposed mining tax….. And so successful was the campaign that they got rid of Rudd and saved themselves an estimated $20bn in taxes.

Rinehart’s appointment of Australia’s leading climate change sceptic, Ian Plimer, as an advisor to her mining companies is simply a taste of what’s to come. As one senior Fairfax editor remarked, expect this kind of front page once Rinehart gets control. “Exclusive: Climate Change is a Hoax”.

Activists group, GetUp, tell supporters to exposed the “truth” behind Rinehart’s Fairfax raid. (Photo: GetUp)

Rinehart grabbed nearly 19 percent of the total shareholding of Fairfax Media in two separate buy outs last week. Her company, Hancock Prospecting ,confirmed she has increased her stake at the company from 13 percent, a status which already made her the majority shareholder. She cannot hold more than 20 percent unless she bid for a takeover as stipulated under Corporations Act, the ABC said.

Related article here.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Australia’s mining goddess acquires Fairfax media

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart grabbed the largest stake at Fairfax Media with additional 42 million shares costing $25 million which she bought in just one transaction today. This increased her total share at the company to almost 15 per cent from 13 per cent, The Australian reported.

Gina Rinehart grabs Fairfax. (Photo: Patrick Hamilton/Perth Now)

Rinehart bought the shares at a price of 60 cents per share. The trade was worth $25.2 million representing 1.8 per cent of Fairfax’s total issued shares, the AAP said at noon.

Perth Now, however, is following up latest developments including a dramatic approached for 235 million shares which was made after the local sharemarket closed, with the offer available till 8pm.

Fairfax is one of the two biggest and most influential media conglomerates in Australia, along with the News Limited owned by the old-rich Rupert Murdoch’s clan.

Perth Now also noted Canberra Media analyst Peter Cox who believes Rinehart is increasing her stake to boost her influence in national affairs. He said Rinehart has already acquired Ten News as a financial investment.

“So this has to be driven by her view on politics in Australia…What’s the point of spending that money on it if you’re not going to have influence?”

The latest stake must be a way to go forward fulfilling the prophesy of climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton who advised the rich to capture the media to advance free-market agenda.

Australia’s mining magnates: Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest

Monckton spoke last year to free-market think tanks in WA on “How to better capture the Australian media to help push a right-wing, free-market and climate sceptic agenda.” It was a boardroom meeting hosted by the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a group chaired by mining “Hall of Fame” member Ron Manners to promote free-market ideals and low government intervention.

ABC’s The Drum said Manners is a member of Gina Rinehart’s lobby group ANDEV, which has been joined by the Institute for Public Affairs to lobby for a separate low-tax low regulation economic zone for the north of Australia to make mining projects easier to develop.

The original version of the video has been deleted from You Tube, but GetUp reposted it with transcription capturing Monckton’s verbatim sinister claims:

Is there an Australian version of Fox News?… No….

Frankly whatever you do at a street level, which is what you are talking about here, is not going to have much of an impact compared with capturing an entire news media.

You look at the impact that Andrew Bolt has had since he was rocketed to fame and that is the way to do it, you have to capture the high ground of what are still the major media, and what will remain for quite some time.

And until we crack that one both in the UK and Australia, we’re going to suffer from an disadvantage, against the more libertarian right-wing minded people in the United States…who have got Fox News and have therefore got things like a Tea Party, have at last put some lead into the pencil of the republican Party.

And it seems to me that putting some time into encouraging those we know who are super rich to invest in perhaps even establishing a new satellite TV channel is not an expensive thing, and then get a few…Joe Novas and Andrew Bolts to go on and do the commentating everyday—and keep the news free and fair and balanced, as they do on Fox. That would be breakthrough and give to Australia as it has for America a proper dose of free market thinki

The Australian said Rinehart admitted her desire to control two board seats at the media company which publishes The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age in Melbourne, and the Australian Financial Times. The company also controls the auction website TradeMe, as well as the Southern Cross Broadcasting network of radio stations.

Amid mining boom, Rinehart was also the first mining magnate to get the approval from the Federal Government to import 1715 foreign workers under a new type of 457 visa for the three-year construction phase of Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia.

Caricature to mock Rinehart’s foreign workers (By Nicholson)

The scheme angered local workers and labour unions. Labour observers said Rinehart will take advantage of skilled foreign workers that come with cheaper wages.

This year, the BRW magazine named Rinehart as theworld’s richest woman with $29 billion mining fortune making her $3 billion richer  than Christy Walton’s, the widow whose inherited wealth springs from US retail giant Wal-Mart.

The ABC said “Ms Rinehart has ridden Australia’s resources boom like no-one else; her wealth ballooning by an unparalleled $18.87 billion in the past year….That equates to $1,077,054 every 30 minutes of every day.

Blog LInk: Asian Correspondent

Queensland slams UNESCO, defends gas on the barrier reef

UNESCO has released its damning environmental report on the Great Barrier Reef, but the Queensland State Government hits back saying the report poses an obstacle to the multi-billion dollar seam gas business.

The report came in time when the mineral boom is underway and the Queensland Government is excited about financial gains. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said his Government understands the issues raised in the report but could not accommodate some of its chief recommendations, News Corp. reports.

Newman said his government is in coal business and he is not going to see the economic future of Queensland shut down.

UNESCO sent a team of experts in March to assess the status of the reef confronted by both natural and man-made threats. While natural threats could be beyond control, the impact of the latter can be minimised if the Queensland Government can review and adopt strategic solutions.

The international body said the World Heritage listed site is under enormous pressure amid increased developmental activities, including additional port infrastructures in and around the Great Barrier Reef and ongoing management of major liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants at Curtis Island and Gladstone Harbour.

The dredging in Gladstone Harbour for the seam gas has been blamed by local environmentalists for the area’s poor water quality and a skin disease affecting marine life. Green activists say dredging has adversely affected whales and dugongs in the area.

UNESCO recommended to the State Government to stop port facilities expansions and to undertake a comprehensive review and strategic solutions to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the reef.

It warned the reef could officially be listed “in danger” if the federal Government fails to convince the international body it has improved its performance before February next year.

Whether Queensland would be able to help improve environmental conditions of the reef or not, both state and federal governments have already given mineral explorations a go. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke supports the developmental projects saying the approval of applications has been in full swing. He said there was not much he could do to prevent development applications already in progress.

Mining magnates Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart have likewise secured government’s approval of their mining ventures in Queensland. Further, the two mining lords have  been pressuring the Government to allow them to build the world’s largest coal export facility right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The facility is envisioned  to double Australia’s coal exports. The mining moguls expect to hear of Government’s decision in 36 weeks time, GetUp noted.

GetUp, an activist group, said mining billionaires are used to getting their way,” but they’re not the only ones who know how to fight.”  The group has forged a tie up with Greenpeace and BankTrack to undertake an advertising campaign in key financial market in Asia and India to warn potential investors not to invest in these projects.

It’s not just UNESCO who are against the massive expansion of coal and coal seam gas facilities. We’ve just released an opinion poll that found 79 per cent of  Australians are already concerned about the expansion of mining along the Reef’s recognised heritage area — and that was before UNESCO’s  scathing criticisms started to make headlines nationwide.

GetUp is optimistic the ad campaign will work.  It claims that  in 2009, it funded ads in the European Financial Times to discourage potential investors who were previously considering to fund Gunns’ pulp mill in Tasmania.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Foreign workers to benefit from Australia’s mining boom

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is fighting for an equitable distribution of wealth amid the current mining boom.

Gillard visits workers who are afffected by foreign labour scheme. (Photo: Gary Ramage/ The Daily Telegraph

Gillard told mining bosses at the Australian Mineral Council last night they don’t own the nation’s resources and that she will not back down with her controversial mining and carbon taxes. She said the Government allows them to dig up the earth, but they do not own its wealth.

The AAP said Gillard told her audience the need for a tough leadership to spread the benefits of the boom.

I know that not all of you in this room are in love with the language of ‘spreading the benefits of the boom’.. .Australia needs tough leadership and I think you know by now I’m prepared to fight….

About $500 billion of investment is currently in the pipeline and Gillard said there is no better place in the world to invest in than Australia.

Australia is ready to take advantage of the mega profits and to spread the wealth through taxes. However, taxing appears to be insufficient in the face of local labour shortages.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief Simon Bennison admitted there are many people who are not qualified triggering unrest among labour unions led by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Australian media has announced mining magnate Gina Rinehart has already applied for the Federal Government’s Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) which would allow “mega” resource projects to import temporary foreign labour.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart is the first to apply for EMA (Photo: ABC)

The EMA is another controversial scheme approved by the Federal Government without consultation from the labour sector.

Rinehart needs workers to work for the construction of her Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara region.

The EMA would allow mega resource projects to source 1715 of its 8415 workers needed during its three year construction phase from overseas. The Daily Telegraph said the foreign workers would likely come from “the UK, Europe, India, China, South Korea and the Philippines. At least 6758 Australians will be employed on construction, including 2000 trainees. ”

Bennison said huge mining projects may qualify for an EMA to allow them “to import workers, needed skilled workers ready to work, who simply did not exist in Australia.”

Bennison said the majority of workers that were needed to meet demand in the industry were tradespeople such as welders and plumbers. “Training them up takes time,” he said.

Blog Link: ASIAN CORRESPONDENT