National: NSW Budget to Spend on Roads, Buses and Hospital

The New South Wales government has announced its plans to build a new hospital, three new Sydney motorways, double-deckers and additional bus services, just a week before the state budget arrives.

Next week’s budget will allocate a billion-dollar package as planning money for three new motorways. $21 million will be allocated for the M12, whereas the F6 Motorway and the M9 Outer Orbital will receive $15 million and $2.09 million respectively.

“We want every community to be a vibrant community – and a local roads project can make a world of difference,” Perrottet said. “Some of these will be the most important links in greater Western Sydney for getting home and doing business.”

Also in the budget is a $534 million allocation to buy a site in Tweed and build a 350-bed hospital with extra cardiac and cancer services. “We believe that whether you live in the north shore of Sydney or northern New South Wales, every community deserves access to high quality health care,” said Treasurer Dominic Perottet. The hospital is expected to be built after 5 years.

Finally, the budget also aims to purchase 176 new buses. 134 of them are to replace aging fleets, while the rest is to boost the overall bus numbers. Six of these new buses will be double-deckers, set to replace bendy buses. “It’s a far better way in terms of road space to better utilise the roads, the bus commuting,” said Transport Minister Andrew Constance. There will also be over 3,300 new services for metropolitan Sydney, western Sydney, the Hills District and south west Sydney.

National: ASIO Warns Parties About Chinese Donations

Australia’s intelligence agency ASIO has warned major political parties against taking donations from two billionaires with links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

A Four CornersFairfax investigation found that ASIO has briefed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott as well as opposition leader Bill Shorten about the threat of CCP influence.

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis also briefed officials from the Coalition and Labor parties privately in 2015 about billionaire property developers Huang Xiangmo and Chau Chak Wing, who have made a total of around $6.7 million in political donations along with their associates. While Lewis did not tell the parties to reject the funds, he said that the CCP has influence over businessmen, and donations might come with strings attached.

However, the parties went on to accept the money anyway. Since then, the Coalition has taken $897,960, while Labor took $200,000.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari was also found to have repeatedly assisted Huang in his citizenship application, which is currently temporarily blocked while ASIO investigation is still ongoing.

In light of the report, Turnbull ordered a major inquiry into espionage and foreign interference laws.

“The threat of political interference by foreign intelligence services is a problem of the highest order and it is getting worse,” Attorney General George Brandis said in a statement.

“Earlier this year the Prime Minister initiated a comprehensive review of Australia’s espionage and foreign interference laws, which he asked me to lead. I will be taking legislative reforms to Cabinet with a view to introducing legislation before the end of the year.”

National: Federal Government Grants $1.2 Million to Food-Rescue Groups

The federal government has granted a $1.2 million funding to food rescue organizations to reduce their energy costs and improve food distribution and storage capacity.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg said the government committed to support Oz Harvest, SecondBite, Foodbank Australia, and Fareshare through grants for energy efficiency purposes.

“They’re designed to boost energy efficiency and get food to those who need it most,” Frydenberg said.

“It could be new solar panels, or refrigerated vans or helping these groups expand their refrigerated capacity.”

The grants came after ABC’s War on Waste series, which revealed that four million tonnes of food are wasted every day in Australia, costing the economy about $20 billion.

Foodbank chief executive Brianna Casey said the organization would use the funding to buy new cool rooms and more solar panels, cutting its power bills. However, Casey said more could be done by the government to ease the “crisis” that leaves one in six Australians without enough food.

The New Budget 2017: Are Drug Tests OK?

Last night, the Liberal government announced its new 2017-18 budget for Australia, affecting millions of Australians over the country.

There have been criticisms of Turnbull’s Government and its decisions over the newly announced drug tests for Australians on welfare. Background checks are often a mandatory condition with most job applications in Australia, but is it morally right to initiate drug tests at random as part of a legal requirement?

Jacqui Lambie has welcomed the new drug tests for welfare recipients, but she said politicians should do the same. “It is about time politicians led by example and both on the Senate side and the House of Reps, there should be random drug testing as you come through the doors.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce defended the decision, saying to the ABC that “you can’t go to work if you are smashed or drugged out.”

National: Health Groups Condemn Pauline Hanson’s Vaccination Statement

Health groups have demanded senator Pauline Hanson to retract her “ludicrous” and “dangerous” statement on Australia’s vaccination programs.

During an interview with ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, Hanson, leader of One Nation party, said that the government’s ‘no jab, no pay’ policy of withholding welfare payments for unvaccinated children is “dictatorship”, and that parents have “a right to investigate themselves” before vaccinating their children.

Experts from health groups have condemned the statement.

“I’m utterly appalled by Senator Hanson’s comments. She needs to realise that she’s a serious player in Australian politics now,” said Dr Michael Gannon, head of Australian Medical Association. “[With] 10 per cent of Australians indicating an intention to vote for One Nation, she can no longer make fringe statements that are dangerous to the health of the whole community.”

Director of Immunisation Foundation of Australia, Catherine Hughes said in an interview with SBS News that Hanson’s statement was “disappointing”.

“She shows a total lack of regard towards the health and safety of Australian children, and doesn’t seem to have an understanding of the value of preventative medicine,” Hughes said.

“By encouraging people to ‘do their own research’ on vaccination, she is insinuating parents have the resources and abilities to conduct better medical research than scientists and doctors. It’s a ludicrous thing to say.”

Hughes also added that Hanson’s previous comments on vaccination’s links with autism and other diseases were “misinformed and dangerous statements” that could influence parents’ decision.

Health director of Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett told ABC Radio that Hanson has to “apologise and retract that statement”.

“Vaccines are safe. I cannot stress how angry it makes one feel that she is putting lives at risk,” said Duckett.

“If parents choose not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children’s health at risk, and every other person’s children at risk too.”

Hanson has defended her statement, claiming it was a “personal opinion” which “has nothing to do” with politics. “I had my children vaccinated,” said Hanson. “I never told my children not to get their children vaccinated. All I’m saying is get your advice.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull re-emphasised the importance of vaccination. “Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are putting their own children’s health at risk and they are putting the health of everybody else’s children at risk as well,” said Turnbull on Monday.

“So, that is why vaccination is so important. That is why we have our no-jab, no-pay policy. It has worked very well over the past year and we have seen 200,000 more children vaccinated as a result.”

National: Plane Crashes near Essendon Airport

A plane containing five people has crashed into the Direct Factory Outlet near Essendon Airport in Melbourne.

Witnesses reported explosions and black smoke from the crash site. A government source said the Beechcraft airplane was a charter aircraft heading to King Island.

The plane crashed just before 9am today, a police spokesman confirmed. Police, paramedics and firefighters have arrived at the Essendon airway. Information on injuries and fatalities is not available yet.

Tullamarine Freeway is now closed between English Street and McNamara Avenue, and all motorists are advised to leave Tullamarine as soon as possible.

National: Liberal’s WA Preference Deal with One Nation Questioned

The Liberal party faced questions as its state division preferenced One Nation ahead of the National party for the Western Australia election. Other state divisions, such as Queensland, are reportedly considering to follow suit.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended the party’s decision on Monday, saying One Nation is not “a single issue party or a single personality party”.

“It is a substantial crossbench party in the Senate and it is taking a policy position on a wide range of issues,” Turnbull said.

“It is not a single issue party or a single personality party. We deal with it constructively and respectfully because we respect the fact that each of those One Nation senators has been democratically elected.”

Turnbull also added that preference deals were up to individual Liberal state divisions.

The Liberal party has denounced Pauline Hanson’s party multiple times in the past. In 2001, then Liberal prime minister John Howard said One Nation should be preferenced last in Liberal how-to-vote card due to the party’s racism. Before the 2016 election, Turnbull said, “Pauline Hanson is, as far as we are concerned, not a welcome presence on the Australian political scene. You’ve got to remember she was chucked out of the Liberal Party.”

Leader of the National party and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Turnbull’s decision was “disappointing”, and warned Turnbull not to stray from the Liberal-National alliance.

“We won’t, but it could easily be that the National Party could stand in every Lower House seat in Perth and preference another party. What would that mean? You’d lose a heap of seats, simple as that,” said Joyce.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has criticised the Liberal party’s preference deal with One Nation, saying it is a desperate move from a party that has condemned Pauline Hanson and her group in the past.

Shorten said he had advised Labor party to preference One Nation last for the next federal election. “It’s clear to me that One Nation’s political agenda clashes with Labor values,” said Shorten in a statement to his party. “Labor believes in an Australia where no-one is limited by their faith, their race, by where they were born or who they love. That’s not the Australia of the One Nation party… In the Labor Party, we choose what we stand for – and it’s not fear, division or the politics of ‘us vs them’.”

National: Cory Bernardi Quits Liberal Party

Senator Cory Bernardi is set to resign from the Liberal Party to form his own “Australian Conservatives” party, despite calls from his colleagues to reconsider.

Bernardi called Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at 7am Tuesday to confirm his resignation, and is expected to make a formal announcement at 12.30pm Tuesday.

“The point that Cory needs to reflect on is he is in the Parliament by virtue of the endorsement of the South Australian Liberal Party,” the Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told Q&A on Monday. “He’s always been treated courteously within the Liberal Party and our party resembles that broad church of views.”

Liberal MP Craig Kelly said Bernadi should “have maybe one last think… You can do a lot more inside the Liberal party, working for, arguing those things that you believe in, than actually outside the tent.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told ABC Radio that Bernardi’s resignation was a “betrayal of Liberal party values… We can most effectively defeat the Labor party at the next election if we’re united and we stick together as a party.”

Bernardi reportedly decided to form his own party after watching the anti-establishment trend in the US and Britain, as well as consulting with former prime minister Tony Abbott.

The Morality Behind Background Checks

Background checks have always been a questionable and ethical procedure. There have been debates on whether or not a person’s criminal record should be an important requirement or a deal breaker for a potential employee. A person’s history can be a difficult quality to overlook but it is important to know your rights when applying for a federal police check.

  • What is a national police check? A national police check outlines an individual’s record of any criminal activity in Australia. Australian citizens and residents will usually need a check as a requirement. According to Seek, “it is a government service provided to either an individual or organisation for employment, voluntary work and occupation-related licensing or registration purposes.”
  • Why do employers need a police check? To reduce the risk of theft, fraud or other criminal activity performed by a potential new employee. With community services and industries where employees are working with children, the elderly or other vulnerable communities, police checks are vital for an organisation to rule out employing people who are past offenders.
  • Know your rights. Nothing happens without your consent regardless of whether you need a check for police investigation or prosecution purposes.
    During the procedure, you will need to confirm and sign a consensual form in order to release your criminal history for employment purposes.Seek says “In addition, if you’re asked in an interview whether you have a criminal record, according to the Human Rights Commission, you are not required to volunteer any information, unless there’s a requirement under legislation to do so. In this case, you would have to disclose your record.”

This article was sourced from: https://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/why-companies-require-police-checks-what-are-your-rights

National: Turnbull Announces Security Briefing Plans for Political Leaders amid Concerns of Cyber Attacks

Defence intelligence officials will be giving security briefings to Australia’s political party leaders next month, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Tuesday.

Turnbull said the briefing plan was prompted by concerns following a United States intelligence report claiming that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections through cyber means.

Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Homeland Security said in a report that Russian intelligence agents had allegedly hacked into and leaked the emails of the Democratic National Committee.

“This is the new frontier of warfare — the new frontier of espionage. It’s the new frontier of many threats to Australian families, to governments, to businesses,” Turnbull said.

“We all have a role to play to ensure our cyber security and that includes the custodians of our electoral system and democracy.”

Turnbull’s cyber security adviser, Alastair MacGibbon will be joining officials from the Australian Cyber Security Centre to brief the politicians.

Assistant Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said that while there was no indication that Australia had been targeted, it was important to raise awareness among political leaders in the country.

“We have seen no indication whatsoever that anyone has sought to use cyber influence on our elections or on our electoral system, but obviously our democracy goes to who we are as Australians and we have to do everything we can to protect that,” Tehan told the ABC.

Labor has accused Turnbull of putting his political purposes ahead of national security concerns by announcing the briefing through the media.

“It is a long-standing convention that the activities of our intelligence agencies and specific security vulnerabilities are not made public or discussed publicly in detail,” wrote shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus in a letter to the prime minister. “This is irresponsible in the extreme – Australians have every right to expect their prime minister would put national security ahead of their own political purposes.”