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Hockey warns of crisis without tough measures to cut budget spending

Written By iyoet ganteng on Rabu, 23 April 2014 | 23.18

Updated April 24, 2014 00:26:26

Treasurer Joe Hockey has warned next month's federal budget will introduce tougher means testing of support payments and more upfront costs for government services.

In a speech made in Sydney entitled The Case for Change, Mr Hockey began to unveil the findings and recommendations of the Government's much-anticipated Commission of Audit, which the Coalition is using to frame the May 13 budget.

The commission handed its final report to the Government late last month and the Treasurer will release it publicly next week.

Mr Hockey says the report makes it clear the nation has "a serious spending problem" and recommends "substantial spending restraint".

"Budget repair is going to require some difficult decisions, including winding back some spending that people have come to take for granted," he said.

"Means testing must become an even more important part of Australia's transfer system to ensure the sustainability of our income support payments. Support must be targeted to those in most need.

"More use of co-payments should be made to encourage some moderation in demand for government-provided goods and services. Nothing is free. Someone always pays.

"It is appropriate that those who use government services should contribute towards their cost."

So if Australians ask themselves of the budget in May, 'what's in it for me?', my response will be a better future.

Joe Hockey

There have been widespread reports the Government is poised to introduce a $6 co-payment for bulk-billed GP appointments, raise the age of the pension from 67 to 70 and address the growth in Family Tax Benefit B.

Mr Hockey says there will be numerous instances where budget decisions will be implemented over time, but has warned that "every sector of the community - households, corporates and the public sector alike - will be expected to contribute".

"So if Australians ask themselves of the budget in May, 'What's in it for me?', my response will be a better future," he said.

"I ask Australians not to judge this budget on what they get or lose today. This budget is about our quality of life for the years ahead."

Mr Hockey says the Commission of Audit has made 86 recommendations, some of which can be "actioned in the short term".

"Others will require further consideration, and some will be rejected outright," he said.

The report has focused on the 15 largest government programs and found they are also the nation's fastest growing.

The age pension tops the list with a cost this financial year of $39.5 billion.

In a further signal the pension is set for changes in the budget, Mr Hockey emphasised that is "much more than we spend on defence, or hospitals, or schools each year".

"It is our single biggest spending program," he said. "So the policies must be changed, either now or more dramatically in the future."

He says the Government will continue to support the "most vulnerable" people, but says there will be an "ongoing and relentless focus on fiscal discipline".

Mr Hockey has highlighted the Government's plans to introduce a wage-replacement paid parental leave scheme and infrastructure spending as key measures to boost productivity and economic growth.

Child care and paid parental leave are listed by the commission among the top spending programs, at number 12, and it is the second-fastest growing with average annual growth slated to be 11.5 per cent.

The Coalition's new scheme is due to begin in 2015 at a cost of $5.5 billion a year, partly paid for by a 1.5 per cent levy on big business.

But the Opposition has slammed the scheme - which pays mothers who earn up to $150,000 a year their full wage for six months - and says it should be dumped.

"If the Prime Minister is so desperate to cut, he should leave pensioners alone and start with his extravagant paid parental leave scheme," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said in a statement.

Topics: budget, government-and-politics, hockey-joe, australia

First posted April 23, 2014 17:59:50

23.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Material washed ashore examined for links to flight MH370

By Beau Pearson and staff

Updated April 24, 2014 00:05:25

Authorities are examining material that has washed ashore south of Perth to identify if it is related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Police from Busselton secured the material that was found 10 kilometres east of Augusta in the South West of Western Australia.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is examining photographs of the material to see if it is related to the search for the aircraft.

The ATSB has also provided the photographs to the Malaysian investigation team.

The ABC has been told the material is metallic and about 2.5 metres long.

WA Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis, a former submarine navigator, said it was possible the items found could have come from the missing flight.

"It wouldn't surprise me if sooner or later ... if there was debris floating, it would end up on the West Australian coast," he told ABC local radio in Perth.

"Weather systems in the southern hemisphere predominantly move in a clockwise direction, and this time of the year the Leeuwin Current is pretty much at its strongest.

"Anything in that area over 50 days travelling at two knots, say four kilometres an hour, sooner or later is likely to have been caught up in it [the current]."

Mr Francis stressed that he did not have any information to suggest the debris was from the missing flight.

"I don't want to pre-empt anything that it may or may not have been," he said. "We're just guessing at the moment but I wouldn't be surprised, that's all."

Planes were earlier grounded for a second day on Wednesday as poor weather hampered search efforts for flight MH370.

The aerial search for the missing flight was suspended on Tuesday when bad weather caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Jack moved into the area.

Three aircraft which had been sent to the search area on Wednesday were recalled when heavy seas and poor visibility increased.

"Current weather conditions are resulting in heavy seas and poor visibility ... making air search activities ineffective and potentially hazardous," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.

The 12 ships involved in the search on Wednesday will continue the hunt for wreckage from the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people, including six Australians.

Australia has vowed to keep searching for the missing plane as autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 nears the end of its first full mission.

Search officials have said that once the Bluefin-21's current mission, 2,000 kilometres north-west of Perth, is finished, they will redeploy the submarine to other areas yet to be determined.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the search strategy may change if seabed scans from the drone fail to turn up any signs of debris.

"We may well re-think the search but we will not rest until we have done everything we can to solve this mystery," he said.

"The only way we can get to the bottom of this is to keep searching the probable impact zone until we find something or until we have searched it as thoroughly as human ingenuity allows at this time."

Malaysia's cabinet has approved the appointment of an international team to investigate the plane's disappearance, the country's acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

"The main purpose of the international investigation team is to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the accident so similar accidents could be avoided in the future," he said.

Mr Hishammuddin added that the Malaysian government has had talks with state oil firm Petronas and other unidentified entities to expand the deep-sea search in the southern Indian Ocean.

Map: Materials found near Augusta

Topics: air-and-space, accidents, augusta-6290, wa, perth-6000, australia, malaysia, asia

First posted April 23, 2014 19:07:48

23.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

New leads for retired detective hoping to solve 34yo murder

Updated April 23, 2014 23:53:33

As Australia's most experienced murder investigator, it is fair to say Ron Iddles does not give up easily.

Despite leaving Victoria's homicide squad early this month, Mr Iddles is still working behind the scenes to solve the first murder he was ever assigned to - 34 years ago.

In 1980, when he was a 24-year-old detective senior constable, Mr Iddles was sent to a bookshop in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury.

The bookshop's owner, mother-of-two Maria James, had been killed while her two sons, 13-year-old Mark and 11-year-old Adam, were at school.

"I went into the front bedroom of the bookshop and the carpet was very badly stained with blood," Mr Iddles said.

Maria James had been stabbed 68 times, and police found blood at the scene which they believe belongs to her killer.

Despite a number of witnesses describing a man they had seen running from the bookshop, the investigation went cold.

In the weeks after the murder, the James family's parish priest, Father Anthony Bongiorno, was questioned by police but not as a suspect.

Fifteen years later, Father Bongiorno was charged with having indecently assaulted three boys in the early 1980s.

He died in 2002, at the age of 67, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Melbourne.

Last year a friend suggested to Mark James that there were doubts about Father Bongiorno and he should ask Adam if the priest had ever touched him.

"It was like a brick had been dropped on me when he said that Father Bongiorno, a couple days before the murder, had been touching him and he pointed down toward his private parts", Mark said.

"I just couldn't believe it. Thirty-three years had gone by and this hadn't come out.

I believe my mum confronted Father Bongiorno and I can only imagine what happened.

Mark James

"My brother is slightly mentally handicapped and he obviously didn't make the connection."

Maria James's son wants the priest's body exhumed so his DNA can be checked against the blood found in the bookshop.

Mark says the only person Adam had ever told was their mum.

"He said that mum was very upset and that mum told him that she was going to do something about it," he said.

"That's what he said. And I believe my mum confronted Father Bongiorno and I can only imagine what happened."

In Australia, there are currently more than 1,300 unsolved murders, with 280 of them in Victoria.

In the past week, a new witness has come forward about the Maria James case and given police a statement.

Mr Iddles, who has investigated over 310 deaths in Victoria, says he has always had a simple philosophy.

"When you talk to someone who you charge with murder and you ask them, 'Have you told someone?', 99 per cent of the time it's yes," he said.

"So there are people out there who will know about some unsolved homicide.

"All I do is ask you to look at yourself."

Mr Iddles is confident that Mark and Adam James will one day soon get answers about their mother's murder.

"I've imagined Ron coming to see me. It's something that I'm dreaming about," Mark said.

He dreams of telling his brother that their mother's killer has been identified.

"He's thought about this for years and he wants an answer as well," he said.

"It would be a great moment to sit down with him and be able to tell him we know who did it. It's over, it's finished."

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, law-crime-and-justice, crime, thornbury-3071, vic

First posted April 23, 2014 20:04:25

23.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Hockey was concerned GrainCorp bidder 'not of good character'

Updated April 24, 2014 00:45:28

The Federal Treasurer has revealed he blocked a foreign takeover bid for GrainCorp partly because the US-based company was "not of good character".

Joe Hockey knocked back the proposal by Archer Daniel Midland (ADM) late last year, drawing criticism from the Opposition and several business groups.

At the time, Mr Hockey said the $3.4 billion takeover was not in the national interest.

But at a function in Sydney on Wednesday night he went further, saying the company needed to show it could be a good corporate citizen.

"I had reason to believe that ADM at that time were not of particularly good character, and that was obviously confirmed by a fine in the US," he said.

"I think it was for $50 million for corrupt activity in another jurisdiction."

The Foreign Investment Review Board had been unable to reach consensus on whether to accept ADM's proposal.

The Nationals and farm groups were opposed to the takeover, which would have given ADM control of 85 per cent of Australia's east coast grain ports.

The refusal meant a $200 million commitment from ADM to improve rail infrastructure was withdrawn.

Despite the decision, the Government maintained Australia was still "open for business".

Mr Hockey says he has approved more than 500 investments that he believes are good for Australia.

Topics: agribusiness, industry, wheat, takeovers, business-economics-and-finance, australia, united-states

First posted April 23, 2014 22:57:49

23.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Buddy Franklin questioned over car smash

Posted April 23, 2014 23:31:24

AFL star Lance "Buddy" Franklin has been questioned by police after he crashed into four parked cars in Sydney's east.

Rose Bay resident Craig McDonald posted pictures of the incident on Twitter after spotting the Sydney Swans' $10 million recruit speaking to police.

Buddy Franklin has just totalled three cars on New South Head road outside my place #buddyfranklin twitter.com/CraigMcDonald2…

— Craig McDonald (@CraigMcDonald2) April 23, 2014

Franklin was uninjured and was allowed to leave the scene, but all five vehicles involved in the incident were damaged.

"Inquiries are continuing after a car hit a number of parked vehicles in Rose Bay tonight," a police spokesman said.

"The driver of the Jeep was a 27-year-old Bondi man."

The spokesman said he was the sole occupant of the 4WD and underwent a roadside breath test, which returned a negative result.

It is understood the Jeep Grand Cherokee that Franklin was driving belonged to his girlfriend, model Jesinta Campbell, who is a brand ambassador for the car maker.

Pictures from the scene show the Jeep smashed head-on before it was towed.

Sydney Swans representatives did not return phone calls on Wednesday night.


Topics: road, australian-football-league, sport, rose-bay-2029, nsw, sydney-2000

23.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Indonesia expects Australia to sign off agreement to limit spying

Written By iyoet ganteng on Senin, 21 April 2014 | 23.19

Posted April 21, 2014 20:43:56

Indonesia expects Australia will agree to limit its spy operations in the country but says it is not ready to sign off on the final terms for a code of conduct.

Foreign minister Marty Natalegawa says negotiations towards resuming full diplomatic cooperation with Australia are progressing, but are yet to be formalised.

Indonesia suspended cooperation in November after revelations that Australian spies had tapped the phone of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and members of his inner circle.

It recalled its ambassador from Canberra, announced a review of all agreements with Australia, and suspended cooperation on people smuggling, military exercises and intelligence sharing.

It was in response to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's initial refusal to explain the spying revelations. The attempts to tap phones happened under the previous government but were revealed in leaked documents obtained by Guardian Australia and ABC News two months after the Coalition took office.

A key condition of Indonesia agreeing to resume full diplomatic relations is Australia signing up to a code of conduct.

Dr Natalegawa said a return to full cooperation was "not too complicated".

"We are having the more important process of having a similar expectation of what a code of conduct would entail," he said.

Dr Natalegawa says he has met his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, on a number of occasions recently and they have been discussing what the code should include.

"And as I had said before, essentially, what we foresee is a reiteration of the basic principles of our bilateral relations, especially the Lombok Treaty," he said.

"And then we will have a commitment to do certain things, and most importantly a commitment not to do certain things."

Dr Natalegawa says it is clear that the latter part of the agreement will include a commitment to "refrain from the employment of intelligence resources" in a manner that would be "inimical" or damaging to the other country.

"This was a point which was made on many occasions by the current Australian Government and we just wish to put that on a piece of paper," he said.

But he has not said how long it was likely to take before any agreement could be formalised.

Last November Mr Yudhoyono reserved the right to give final approval to the code of conduct.

"I will check the draft myself, whether it's been done properly and answered all the wishes of Indonesia - after the tapping that occurred," he said.

"After the protocols and ethical codes have been approved, I would like to have the signing of the codes be done by the heads of states, I as the president and Prime Minister Abbott, as prime minister."

Only once that is completed, will Indonesia be willing to resume full diplomatic relations.

But Indonesia is preparing for a presidential election on July 9, with a potential run-off in September if the first poll is inconclusive.

Mr Yudhoyono has reached his two-term constitutional limit and is therefore ineligible to run again.

His party has also been plagued by corruption scandals and flailing popularity.

Mr Yudhoyono's Democratic Party performed so badly in this month's legislative elections it is now languishing in the ranks of the minor parties and has abandoned plans to run for the presidency.

If diplomatic relations are not mended in the next few months, the Australian Government could be facing negotiations with both a new president and government in Jakarta.

Topics: world-politics, defence-and-national-security, federal-government, government-and-politics, security-intelligence, australia, indonesia, asia

23.19 | 0 komentar | Read More

Child, 3, left in burning car 'stolen by father' on Great Eastern Highway

Updated April 22, 2014 00:01:48

A three-year-old child has been seriously injured after allegedly being left in a burning car stolen by her father.

The girl was pulled from the flames by police after the vehicle crashed into a barrier on the Great Eastern Highway in Perth's outer north-east suburbs.

She was taken by ambulance to Princess Margaret Hospital where she is in a serious but stable condition.

A 25-year-old man from East Victoria Park has appeared at a bedside hearing in Royal Perth Hospital charged with multiple offences, including aggravated assault occasioning bodily harm, being armed in a way that could cause fear, stealing a motor vehicle and driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.08 per cent.

He was remanded in custody.

The incident unfolded when police were called to a house in Ellenbrook shortly after 10:00pm (AWST) on Sunday night after receiving reports of a serious assault and a man damaging the property.

Before officers arrived the man allegedly stole a car and left the scene, taking his young daughter.

Police had concerns for the child's safety due to her father's behaviour and fears he may have been driving while intoxicated.

The vehicle was spotted being driven with the headlights turned off on Lloyd Street in Midland about 11:00pm.

Due to the fact there was a child in the vehicle, officers did not engage in a pursuit, but attempted to monitor the movements of the vehicle.

Police spokesman

Officers said they attempted to stop the car, but the driver refused to pull over.

"Due to the fact there was a child in the vehicle, officers did not engage in a pursuit, but attempted to monitor the movements of the vehicle," a police spokesman said.

Soon after, the car was found crashed and in flames near the intersection of the Great Eastern Highway with Roe Highway.

The child was still inside the burning car, and the man had left the scene.

Midland police officers pulled the child from the wreckage and she was taken to hospital.

It is also believed the car crashed into a Toyota Yaris on the Great Eastern Highway before hitting the barrier.

To leave a child like that to flee for your own concern... and not have any concern for your own child, I just can't imagine somebody doing that.

Acting Superintendent Steve Byrne

Police later found the man on Beaconsfield Avenue in Midvale.

He was arrested and taken to Swan District Hospital.

Acting Superintendent Steve Byrne said the actions of the police officers had saved the child's life.

"I think there's no question about that, the child was in quite a serious condition," he said.

"Although the fire was contained to the engine, if it wasn't put out it could have spread quite easily to the rest of the vehicle."

He said the girl had suffered severe internal bleeding and had undergone emergency surgery and was now in a spinal splint.

The father's actions were "unfathomable", he added.

"The violence inflicted on the family by this gentleman is unfathomable, but to leave a child like that to flee for your own concern, I guess, and not have any concern for your own child, I just can't imagine somebody doing that," he said.

Topics: crime, ellenbrook-6069

First posted April 21, 2014 11:47:55

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Family shattered by sisters' deaths as man charged with murder

Updated April 21, 2014 23:57:57

The family of two young sisters allegedly murdered in Melbourne's north-east on Easter Sunday say the loss has left them "utterly devastated".

Emergency services found the bodies of Indianna, aged three, and Savannah, aged four, after they were called to a house on Longmuir Road in Watsonia.

Firefighters and paramedics spent 30 minutes trying to revive the girls but were unsuccessful.

A 35-year-old man, named as Charles Mihayo, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder overnight.

He is due to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Police are yet to confirm his exact relationship to the two girls, but say he was known to them.

The family today issued a short statement to the media.

"We are utterly devastated at the loss of Savannah and Indianna. The girls will be forever missed, loved and never forgotten," the statement said.

"We ask that the media please respect our privacy and allow us time to grieve."

Assistant Police Commissioner Andrew Crisp said on Sunday that a number of family members were present at the time of the girls' deaths, at what was believed to be their grandmother's home.

"It goes without saying this is a tragic set of circumstances that has impacted on the family, and there were a number of family members here at the time," he said.

"It's first of all impacted on friends, neighbours, and also on members of the fire brigade and the ambulance services and members of Victoria Police that have attended the scene."

A neighbour who had met one of the girls described her as "sweet" and shy.

"She was a sweet little thing ... a lovely head of hair, a curly mop of hair and big brown eyes," she said.

"A very nasty incident."

Police have yet to say how the girls died or give details of any injuries.

Detectives escorted several family members through the house this morning.

Speaking in response to the girls' deaths, Fiona McCormack, the head of Domestic Violence Victoria, said more needed to be done for at-risk women and children.

"If women and children were being abused and murdered by strangers at the rate at which they're being abused and murdered by men in their family, there'd be taskforce, there'd be funding, there'd be political will," she told 7.30.

"As it is, it's largely being met by political ambivalence."

Ms McCormack said the causes of domestic violence were "largely misunderstood", and that recent high-profile murders of children by a family member were the "tip of the iceberg", with sexist attitudes largely to blame.

"Men who choose to use violence have hyper-masculine attitudes about their role as men, their rights as men and the role of women," she said.

Describing the perpetrators of domestic violence as "every day men who they believe that they have a right to behave in this way", she said children were often collateral damage in adult relationships gone wrong.

"The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming that, rather than children being the target, often in many of these cases it's actually the women who are being targeted," she said.

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, crime, courts-and-trials, law-crime-and-justice, watsonia-3087, vic, australia

First posted April 21, 2014 05:31:03

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Anti-Islam hate campaign raises tensions to violent new heights

Updated April 21, 2014 22:24:13

Police and ASIO are scrambling to defuse serious tensions between Australian far-right groups and Islamist extremists, which have reached unprecedented heights in recent weeks with death threats and an apparent attempted murder.

In the most serious case, up to eight gunshots were fired into the Sydney home of a former leader of an anti-Islamic hate group earlier this month.

The former western Sydney president of the Australian Defence League (ADL), Nathan Abela, claims he commando-rolled through his living room to avoid being hit by up to eight bullets fired into his Greystanes home late on April 3.

Police believe the shooting was part of a backlash against the ADL, a registered not-for-profit organisation which incites its followers to violence and has in recent months escalated a vicious hate campaign against Australian Muslims.

The group's members and followers have been stalking and photographing Muslim women on public transport, spraying invective at Muslims on Sydney streets and on social media, displaying anti-Islamic posters outside mosques and even threatening to blow up an Islamic school.

The ADL was established in 2009 as an offshoot of the violent English Defence League, the UK's most provocative street movement in decades.

The Australian group has fewer than 30 paid members, but its Facebook page attracted more than 12,000 followers before it was shut down earlier this month.

One of its leaders is former soldier Ralph Cerminara, an IT technician by day who has spent more than three years as the national president of the ADL and claims to have support from within the Australian Defence Force.

Mr Cerminara told the ABC's 7.30 program the group's aim was to have Islam banned and to "defend Australia's culture and Australia's people at all costs".

A recent post from Mr Cerminara's Facebook account to his followers was even more threatening:

"I am calling for the end of Islam in our country and hopefully the world.

"If Muslims have to die then so be it. It is us against them."

In recent weeks, Mr Cerminara ratcheted up tensions with Sydney's Muslim community, urging ADL followers to take photographs of Muslim women in public and post them online.

Several women in hijabs and burqas discovered they had been followed, photographed and subjected to ridicule on Facebook.

A mother of three who was photographed on the morning train to work and then humiliated in a series of vile Facebook posts told 7.30 she has been forced to take stress leave from work and seek counselling for panic attacks.

Mr Cerminara makes no apologies for the personal attacks and public ridicule, telling 7.30: "If that's the way it has to happen, then so be it".

"They are putting that hijab on themselves, the same as a person would be putting a satanic star around their neck," he said.

"We know what they stand for by putting that on."

But Australia's Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, says the ADL is trying to "explode society".

"Organisations created in the name of defending Australia want to start a fire in all Australia," he told followers in a recent sermon at Granville Town Hall.

"They deal with the most precious thing a human being has and that is his beliefs."

War of words escalates into shooting

Two months ago, Mr Cerminara expanded the ADL's reach by appointing 24-year-old demolition worker Nathan Abela as the group's western Sydney president.

Abela took to the role with vigour and quickly gained a reputation within Sydney's Muslim community, uploading a series of videos on YouTube of himself preaching, handing out anti-Islamic pamphlets and filming Muslim sites.

It was a video filmed at Australia's biggest Islamic school at Greenacre that rattled the Muslim community and caused police to alert the NSW counter-terrorism squad and ASIO.

In the video posted on YouTube and Facebook, Abela accused the Melek Fahd Islamic School of locking up women. The ADL's Facebook followers suggested the school was a terrorist safe house that should be bombed or burned down.

The actions fuelled an online war of words with Sydney's Muslim extremist community, which escalated in the lead-up to the shooting at Abela's home.

Just days before the shooting, a Sydney man known as Abu Bakr posted a video on YouTube accusing Abela of "making yourself a clear target for the Muslims out there".

"Either you will accept Islam as your salvation, or you will die by the sword," he said in the video, which has since been removed.

Police under pressure to take action

Police are investigating the shooting and continuing death threats against Abela and Mr Cerminara, but have been under pressure from the Muslim community to take action against the Australian Defence League.

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas assures a large investigation is continuing into the ADL's actions online and its hate campaign against Muslim women.

"We will not tolerate it and we will be there to do something about it," Mr Kaldas told a community meeting last week.

"There's also some legal advice that we need to get. Some of the offences we can't charge until approval is given by the Attorney-General's Department and that will be pursued."

Late last week, Abela was charged with a number of offences, including trespassing, using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend, and hindering the investigation into the shooting at his house.

The Royal Australian Navy has carried out a separate investigation into the Australian Defence League after reports emerged that some sailors engaged in Operation Sovereign Borders had been posting anti-Islamic comments on social media.

One Navy member who was under investigation had responded to a Facebook post critical of asylum seekers, from someone who claimed to be an ADL member, that he was "about to head out today to deal with these f-----s".

The Navy announced this month that while none of its serving personnel had been found to be members of the ADL, several sailors had been dismissed for inappropriate use of social media.

Topics: race-relations, religion-and-beliefs, law-crime-and-justice, community-and-society, islam, discrimination, multiculturalism, nsw, sydney-2000, greenacre-2190, australia

First posted April 21, 2014 22:05:29

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Super tax breaks the 'Hindenburg' of federal budget

Updated April 22, 2014 00:48:44

A left-leaning think tank says the federal budget would be more than $13 billion better off if the Government scrapped all tax breaks on superannuation and dramatically increased the age pension.

The radical proposal is contained in a report by the Australia Institute, which will be released today, and comes amid increasing speculation the Coalition is preparing to increase the retirement age to 70.

"There is nothing in the budget that's going to grow faster than the tax concessions for superannuation," said the report's author Richard Denniss.

"It's the big elephant in the room. If we talk about the pension ballooning, well this is the Hindenburg."

The age pension and superannuation tax concessions are two major ways the Commonwealth helps retirees, but the policies are getting more expensive as Australia's population gets older.

"We're looking at around $70 billion in combined cost now with an estimated $100 billion in combined cost by 2020," Dr Denniss said.

"Superannuation concessions are unfair ... the top 5 per cent of income earners get a third of the benefit, and the bottom 20 per cent get literally nothing."

The report suggests scrapping concessions entirely, introducing a universal or non-means-tested age pension and upping the current rate by about 7.5 per cent to $26,273 a year for singles and nearly $39,611 for couples.

The Australia Institute says that plan would cost about $52 billion annually, leaving the budget between $13 billion and $22 billion better off. It says more money would flow to women and poor people.

"You often hear people say the more people spend on superannuation tax concessions, the more we save on the age pension," Dr Denniss said.

"In theory that's possible, but in practice it's just not the case. If it were the case, the combined cost of these two schemes would be flat-lining."

The Australia Institute has long campaigned on superannuation tax breaks.

Its plan would hit high income earners, reduce the incentive for people to top up their superannuation and probably lead them to put more money into other investments with significant tax breaks, such as property.

"I don't expect all our proposals to be taken up ... but the general public and the Government need to start seriously talking about superannuation concessions," Dr Denniss said.

"The report makes it clear ... this issue is too big to avoid."

The idea is also likely to be fiercely opposed by superannuation funds. 

The Financial Services Council says it will review the modelling and assumptions in the report before it comments.

Topics: budget, superannuation, tax, government-and-politics, older-people, community-and-society, australia

First posted April 22, 2014 00:35:14

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