Julie Bishop and passports:

Marion Le writes: Re. “Julie Bishop’s right — the government has form on fudging passports” (Friday, item 1). Unfortunately the Crikey article seriously misrepresents and misquotes my position on several issues –importantly it also misrepresents Julie Bishop’s position, and therefore also mine, in the opening sentence.

There are factual errors — the Kuwaiti Bidoons were sent to Syria where they remained stranded. Moreover, the writer clearly misunderstands the different types of documents used legitimately by Governments to assist their nationals in emergency situations (such as natural disasters; war and serious medical conditions) to evacuate them to safety and those to which I was referring.

I do not think Ms Bishop was referring to emergency travel documents either. To say that I am currently involved in a “stoush” with the Immigration Department is to grossly overstate the situation – I am certainly concerned as to the use of Australian Certificates of Identity, also known as Australian travel documents, to send people out of Australia when they have not been able to obtain legitimate passports from their own countries. The Bakhtiari Pakistani documents were not provided by me and fall into a different category again.

The Australian documents look to the uninformed observer to be Australian passports – in reality they have no validity to allow the bearer to enter another country and are not valid for re-entry to Australia. The situation of Albanians in Australia who have been denied protection visas is of great concern to them, and to me, given that the Department and the RRT frequently admit the applicants are likely to be killed if they return to Albania. The insertion of section 91s into the Migration Act has removed the ability of the majority of Albanians to gain protection as refugees on UN Convention grounds but they clearly have legitimate claims for protection. These issues are currently being raised by me with the Department and with other Agencies in a considered and professional manner.

The issues of our national security are very serious and the use of false documents and passports is never to be condoned at any level or by any government. Australia needs to be vigil in combating passport fraud and to ensure that the passports of our citizens are secure and inviolate from misuse by other parties. I support the Australia Government in its ongoing endeavours to ensure the safety of its citizens abroad. The Crikey article does not satisfactorily address these complex and important issues.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman Sandi Logan writes: Allegations that the department is in any way complicit in the provision of false passports to enable a removal are plain wrong and trying to draw a link between the global and legitimate practice of issuing emergency travel documents and the provision of forged travel documents is ludicrous.

In earlier conversations with Crikey, we confirmed the use of emergency travel documents and he has incorrectly associated these with forged documents. The claims outlined in the Crikey piece relate to outdated accusations that have been refuted many years ago.

Regarding the Bakhtiari family, the Pakistan government confirmed the family are Pakistani, which was borne out by the provision of Pakistan travel documents by the Pakistan Government. The Bakhtiari family had run out of visa and litigation options. They had no outstanding matters and the department had an obligation under the Migration Act to remove them.

Allegations that officials encouraged detainees to obtain false passports to travel to third countries are not true and are categorically denied by the department. These are the same allegations made by the Edmund Rice Centre in 2003 and 2008 which were investigated by the department and separately by the Australian Federal Police, and found not to be substantiated.

The Australian Government does not encourage, condone or require the use of false passports for the return of any person. Nor is there a need to do so. If a person does not hold or cannot obtain a travel document an Australian-issued certificate of identity may be provided to them. Australian certificates of identity are provided to people, only if necessary, to assist in their return.

Any removal from Australia on a Certificate of Identity is undertaken in full consultation with the authorities of the country to which they are being returned.

The Resource Super Profit Tax:

Mark Bowyer writes: Re. “Who is the real beneficiary of the campaign against the RSPT?” (Friday, item 9). Miners are worried about Australia’s sovereign risk. I’m worried Australia’s sovereignty. While the Government stumbles in its efforts to provide some clarity about the amount of tax paid by miners, one thing is clear — they pay nowhere near enough. And the best evidence of this is the scale of the campaign they are mounting against our elected officials.

The big miners have been accessing Australia’s mineral wealth at bargain basement prices while pushing the resale price of those assets to unprecedented levels. And now they are using the excessive profits obtained from that lucrative exercise to bombard us with dubious propaganda about a tax that is far more intelligent both than the case the government has made in its favour and the distortions of the mining industry’s generously rewarded spokespeople.

We’re told the miners are flooding the Liberal Party coffers in the countdown to the election. Imagine if this industry — irrevocably founded on the short term exploitation of nonrenewable assets — was able to determine the outcome of our next election?

Rio CEO Tom Albanese’s performance on Lateline on Wednesday was that of a man incapable of containing his self importance. While he was persuasive in his case that Rio’s profit line and Australia’s national interest were one and the same, he couldn’t resist the threat that Rio would be looking to invest elsewhere should the elected government of Australia enforce a tax that trims his profits — a claim that is widely doubted.

Mr Albanese may shrink in the company of unelected Chinese officials but he feels no compulsion to show regard for Australia’s elected leaders and their policies. His Chairman told the AGM that he was “personally offended” by our government’s actions. He and his cohorts show contempt not just for our government, but for us. All Australians. They are too big and they are too powerful. Let’s hope they continue to overplay their hand, the Australian people see them for who they are and their deep pockets don’t end up subverting our democratic process.

Colin Walpole writes: When you consider the economics behind all of this the RSPT is not that much more of an impost.

My heart bleeds for the miners. They can do anything they want, rip the guts out of the country and all because they claim that their industry creates jobs. They can even decrease the desirable health outcomes of a whole population in one of our richest agricultural regions ( The Upper Hunter) and do that without question because they have that status of being the backbone of the country.

But are they? Do they really care for us? I think not. The only thing they care about is how much they can suck out of what we have. They have demonstrated in their objection to the RSPT that they care little for us or the shabby state of infrastructure our country has.

They will get their way. There will be no RSPT. Rudd’s government’s survival most probably depends on it not being introduced. But how long will it be before they lose their credibility. How long will it be before the rural population of this nation will put up with goat track roads and shabby railways that were built at the end of the century before last. Will be after every mineral leaves the ground from this quarry of a country? Or will it be when they gain the corporate responsibility that decent mining companies are supposed to have?

The real problem is the death of morality that this country has embraced. The desire to snort profits like cocaine and to never assess the long term consequences of worshiping big business like we do.

Gawd mining companies make me feel sick.

Greg Angelo writes: So the Rudd government is going to spend $38 million of our taxpayers funds to respond to a national emergency. Emergency? What emergency?

The only emergency is the functional incompetence of this government failing to provide appropriate substantiation of its Resources Super Profits Tax proposals, and having failed to justify the appropriateness of its proposals is now falling back on a massive publicly funded one-sided propaganda campaign to force its point of view down the throats of Australians.

I have not been so outraged since the Menzies government brought in conscription for Vietnam. Even Joe Bjelke-Petersen would not be so crass!

So now we have the Minister for propaganda Joseph (Goebbels) Ludwig as the Reich Propaganda Minister approving a propaganda campaign on behalf of the control freak Kevin (Adolf Hitler) Rudd and his “Minister for Armaments”  Wayne (Albert Speer) Swan. This is a complete outrage and a kick in the face for democratic principles. The low rumble I can feel is George Orwell rolling over in his grave.

All we need now is for somebody to burn down the Parliament (Reichstag) and “Reich Fuehrer” Rudd can then declare martial law and presumably lock-up and or exterminate his  opponents under the watchful eye of his “Minister for the Interior” Julia (Heinrich Himmler) Gillard.

God help us all!

James Burke writes: What a difference a couple of hours makes. By the time I read Crikey’s 2pm bulletin late on Friday afternoon, all the mentions of ALP poll rises and Rudd cutting through on the RSPT had become irrelevant, thanks to the Wayne ‘n’ Joe footsie show.

Once again, the ALP unsheathes its sword and manages to stab itself in the groin. Once again, it’s the Right (Queensland, this time) which does the stabbing. Once again, it’s the people who actually show some sign of possessing both brains and conscience — the Left (hello Tanya), who get covered in blood trying to staunch the wound. Once again, the only principle the Labor Right is willing to admit is “spin at all costs”. Even at the cost of losing Federal Government and any chance of doing some good.

The Liberal Party is led by a man-child who thinks he should be congratulated for accepting, at the age of 52, that humans can have an impact on the environment. (Maybe next week he’ll regale us with his adventures with the times tables, or his discovery that verbs are “doing words”.) It should not be hard to show up this imbecile, but because he has the backing of the Murdoch press, and because the ALP is dominated by festering greedheads who’ve spent the last couple of decades mentally fellating the Big Rupe, he may well be PM before long.

Oh well, at least Rudd can comfort himself that even the divine Obama was no better than he in failing to recognise that the average punter doesn’t think the phrase “power to the people” should actually mean “power to the people who already hold it”.

Mike Crook  writes: Are the hundreds of millions being spent on advertising by the mine owners and Mining Council a legitimate tax deduction? I would have thought not, certainly to claim that they are a “legitimate” business expense is drawing a very long bow, is it not.

The ABC:

Ray Edmondson writes: Re. “Impartiality and the ABC: the Middle East doco rejected for broadcast” (Friday, item 4). If the offer to broadcast the film was later retracted by the ABC, what does this say about the way the ABC does business, and especially about the way it deals with small, independent distribution companies like Ronin?

The explanation for the about-face, as reported by Crikey, mentions concerns about the film’s “Impartiality”. It’s not all that long ago that the ABC telecast a bizarre documentary supporting the dodgy arguments of some climate change denialists. I don’t recall this being balanced by an equal and opposing documentary presenting the scientific evidence for climate change.

It is surprising that the alleged “opinionated” character of the film didn’t seem to matter when the original offer to broadcast it was made. Could it be that pressure was brought to bear in the meantime?

We expect the ABC to be objective and impartial, but to argue that you can never broadcast one point of view without giving equal time to the opposing view strains credulity. If the ABC did in fact operate on this strictly one-for-one basis it would either have to radically change its programming or else be off the air for much of the time.

I am glad the decision on this film is being reviewed. At the same time, the ABC might review its apparent practice of making commitments and then reneging on them.

Immigration and asylum seekers:

John Shailer writes: Before the last election, Kevin “Pinocchio” Rudd, in a hairy-chested display, promised to be tough on border protection. This was empty rhetoric, as with his other 47 broken promises and failed programs.

Ignoring the plight of genuine refugees, he revoked John Howard’s effective policies, and put out the welcome mat for people-smugglers and cashed-up illegal queue-jumpers, with now 128 boats and around 6000 boat people.

Tony Abbott has announced some Coalition initiatives, based on John Howard’s policies, which had   reduced arrivals to a mere trickle.  John Howard famously said ‘we should decide who comes to this country’, not the people-smugglers encouraged by Kevin’s Rudderless policy.

Chris Hunter writes: Tony Abbott seems obsessed with turning back the boats. What about turning back the illegals arriving on planes?

Large numbers arrive annually in this country with no intentions of returning. The answer is obvious, boat refugees make an easy target, good copy for political slander.

Why chase after someone in a smart business suit when you can kick the guts out of someone down on their luck, ragged, dehydrated, willing to risk all (SIEV X) to get here — physically not that dissimilar to the early convicts.

Kirill Reztsov writes: Janice Wilson (Friday, comments) wrote: “I am in a constant state of depression, as to why the government has allowed these immigrants to take over our country. I am not happy with Australia now.”

I am sorry Janice. It is too late. Prepare to tremble as my reign of terror commences. As an immigrant, my powers and dominion are matched only by the difficulty of pronouncing my surname. Tony Abbott cannot help you now.

Channel Seven and David Campbell:

Glen Frost writes: Re. “Journalists, educators tell Ch 7: what you did to David Campbell is deplorable” (Friday, item 3). Regarding Jenna Price’s commentary on the Channel Seven news coverage of NSW Minister David Campbell and her students debating. What are they teaching kids at Journo school these days?  I was taught that journalism is a blood sport.

The ABC, or rather Andrew Denton, got it right with the name of the show — it is The Hungry Beast. Admittedly, I did go to University in England during the Thatcher era, which offered students more salacious front page stories on religious, political and Royal s-xual habits than we had time for in debating classes! As one of the course books said “everyone is interested in s-x and money, and when in doubt, turn to the Royal family”.

I feel the Minister Campbell issue comes down to this: here was a guy outwardly pretending to be something he wasn’t, and in all businesses I know, (and I refer to Government as a taxpayer funded business), you need trust to operate, and you are only as good as your word — what is the value of your word if you say one thing and do another? He lived a lie.

Maybe Jenna’s students didn’t appreciate this issue as they fell into the “group think” that Maurice Newman says can sometimes occur at the ABC. I’m sure it happens at Channel’s 7, 9 and 10.

An election correction:

Paul Taylor, AKA Australia Votes, writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits”  (Friday, item 11). Richard Farmer mentioned that there is a NSW state election due this year. Incorrect, it’s actually March 2011.

Pedant’s pout:

Kim Lockwood writes: From Friday’s email:

  • “The students were also asked what they?d do if they thought Campbell was holed up in Ken?s of Kensington on the day of the F3 traffic meltdown?”
  • “I’m wondering if the AEC knows something about the date of the next federal election?”
  • “In regards to Andrew Forrest’s Pilbara sightseeing tour for journalists, perhaps that explains the new helicopter that has recently arrived at Paraburdoo airport?”

Not one of these is a question, so why the question marks?

Punctuation 101.

Peter Fray

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