Photo:  Inside Story

MORE of the same … we have witnessed  the consequences of the University Cash Cows … and now these Institutions are casting their nets wider …



International student visa numbers skyrocket


The Department of Home Affairs has released its temporary visa statistics for the March quarter of 2019, which reveals that the number of  temporary students visas on issue hit an all-time high 613,000, up 77,000 over the year and 280,000 higher than March 2013:

The data is broadly matched by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) short-term student arrivals data, which hit a record high 610,000 in March 2019, up from 367,000 in March 2014:

The data is interesting because earlier this month, The Australianreported that “the highly lucrative six-year boom in Chinese students is over”based on the testimony of a senior Department of Home Affairs official who had briefed Australian universities informing them that visa applications from Chinese students were flat.

This testimony is broadly confirmed by the ABS’ short-term arrivals data, which shows that arrivals from China (albeit from all sources, not just students) have fallen for nine consecutive months and are now at mid-2017 levels:

As revealed in this month’s Four Corners expose on Australia’s international student trade, China is by far Australia’s largest source of international students, followed by India and Nepal (see below graphics).


Therefore, in light of the stagnation in arrivals from China, this suggests that Australia’s universities have pivoted to sourcing students from these nations.

This is potentially problematic. Research from Dr Bob Birrell from the Australian Population Research Institute shows that Chinese students tend to pay higher fees and study at higher quality Group of Eight (GoE) Universities.

By contrast, students sourced from India tend to study at cheaper institutions, often for the primary purpose of gaining employment and future permanent residency in Australia.

This month’s Four Corners report was especially critical of the the quality of students coming from the Indian sub-continent, reporting widespread instances of plagiarism, academic misconduct, and students failing their courses.

For example, Dr Duncan Farrow, a maths lecturer and academic misconduct investigator, told Four Corners:

“I have just reviewed the results for students from the Punjab region in BSC100 Building Blocks for Science Students and it is depressing. Of the 52 students in this category, 12 have passed the unit outright — a pass rate of less than 25 per cent”.

Murdoch University’s Professor Benjamin Reilly noted similar:

“In semester one 2018 we experienced a surge in new international students into some postgraduate courses. This surge increased sharply in semester two 2018, with several hundred new students, mostly from the Punjab region of India, enrolling in a small number of postgraduate courses.

“While some were OK, many do not have the language skills to study at a postgraduate level and have thus been unable to participate in class or complete assessments for the units legitimately.

“Hence we now have a much larger number of academic misconduct issues, supplementary assessments and outright failures than we have previously experienced in the units in which this cohort has enrolled”…

Inside Story’s economics correspondent, Tim Colebatch, similarly raised the alarm on the large numbers of lower quality Nepalese students flocking to Australia’s universities:

Deregulation has allowed universities to selectively lower their standards to bring in more fee-paying foreign students, even when they fail to meet the thresholds for English language skills or academic achievement…

This is not the first time immigration from Nepal has surged. A decade ago, we saw a scam with training visas, in which “students” from India and Nepal came for training courses in Australia, then quickly vanished into the workforce. The scam saw net immigration set record levels in 2008–09, before then immigration minister Chris Evans shut it down. But most of those who came stayed on here.

The surge in international students into Australian universities has already unambiguously lowered education standards, as revealed in this month’s Four Corners report (and elsewhere).

And with the pivot towards Indian and Nepalese students – where plagiarism, academic misconduct, and students failing their courses are more common – Australian university standards will be lowered even further in a desperate bid to keep the fees rolling.






Morrison Government hides immigration boom in bridging visas






Morrison Government hides immigration boom in bridging visas



By Leith van Onselen


Ever since the Morrison Government announced that it would cut Australia’s permanent migrant intake to 160,000, in order to “relieve congestion in the cities”, MB has declared it a fake cut.

This view is based on the fact that while the permanent migrant intake has been moderately reduced, the Coalition has opened the floodgates to a variety of temporary work visas, increased temporary old-age parental visas by 15,000 a year, and has allowed the number of migrants on bridging visas to swell.

Indeed, the April Federal Budget exposed these fake cuts, with net overseas migration (NOM)projected to be higher over the forward estimates than the latest 240,000 figure reported by the ABS:

*One of the reasons why NOM continues to rise in the face of the lower permanent migrant intake is because temporary bridging visas – awarded to migrants awaiting substantive applications for permanent residency – have ballooned.

*The March quarter temporary migrant data has been released by the Department of Home Affairs, which shows that the number of bridging visas on issue has surged from 107,000 in March 2014 to 230,000 as at March 2019an increase of 123,000:

Moreover, there has been a huge 75,000 lift in the number of bridging visas over the past two years alone as the permanent migrant intake was cut.

Jonathan Granger, director of Granger Australia and a former national president of the Migration Institute of Australiapreviously described the migration program as “chaotic”, as evidenced by the blow-out in bridging visas:


A sign saying "Australian Government Department of Home Affairs" outside a tall building. There are leaves in the foreground


“The resources available to the department are limited every year by Government, and yet Government rolls out reform agendas that are not well thought through, that require transitional arrangements and require multiple layers of processing against regulations in the same visa areas,” he said.

“The result of those things is significant delays”..

Mr Granger said the program changes and lack of resources meant there were growing numbers of visa refusals that ended up at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The most “chaotic” aspects of Australia’s immigration program is not the surge in bridging visas, but its sheer size, which is running at roughly triple the historical average:

And this comes despite the majority of Australians favouring a lower immigration intake, as evidenced by most recent opinion polls:

  • Newspoll: 56% want lower immigration;
  • Essential: 54% believe Australia’s population is growing too fast and 64% believe immigration is too high;
  • Lowy: 54% of people think the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high;
  • Newspoll: 74% of voters support the Coalition Government’s cut of more than 10% to the annual permanent migrant intake to 163,000 last financial year;
  • CIS: 65% in the highest income decile and 77% in the lowest believe that immigration should be cut or paused until critical infrastructure has caught up;
  • ANU: Only three out of 10 Australians believe the nation needs more people;
  • Newspoll: 80% of NSW voters do not want the state’s population to increase.
  • Australian Population Research Institute: 72% of voters say Australia does not need more people; 50% want immigration to be reduced.


Instead of juking the immigration statistics with transitional bridging visas, the Morrison Government should simply listen to the wishes of the electorate and halve the immigration intake back to historical levels.

I’m not be holding my breath though.






Ultimately, how the Premier deals with the Dominello matter is a test of her integrity. If police cannot find evidence to charge the Staffer who leaked the private details of hundreds of motorists’ to the Liberal Party dirt unit and a journalist!  Then ICAC should investigate this matter with public hearings!

And the staffer should be sacked!

AND shouldn’t the former Opposition Leader Michael Daley be recompensed?  His needs addressed, and The TRUTH to be publicly and widely aired!

Because, as the premier so beautifully put it, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

That’s right, Premier. It really is.

Victor Dominello saga is a test of Gladys Berejiklian’s integrity

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victor Dominello. Picture: Jenny Evans
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victor Dominello. Picture: Jenny Evans


“The standard you walk past is the standard you set.”


These are the words of Premier Gladys Berejiklian in parliament earlier this month after her triumphant March re-election as she got stuck into * Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle for not intervening or protesting when she was at an event where former Labor leader Michael Daley made offensive comments against Asian immigration.

CAAN:  * WHAT MICHAEL DALEY SAID HAPPENS TO BE TRUE!  There is a PhD Visa which provides access to a “Permanent Residency Visa”!  AND midway through 2018 there were 2.2 MILLION VISA HOLDERS in Australia of which 1.6 MILLION were Visa Workers!  Many of whom are also International Students competing for jobs.  Currently Australia has high Youth Unemployment and Underemployment. 

The lowest wages growth for 60 years.  It would appear this is a consequence of Employers seeking out Visa Workers as they can exploit them with low wages, cash in hand and lesser working conditions!  Search CAAN Website for PhD Visa and an Interview with Brendan O’Connor Shadow Minister for Employment concerning Visa Workers

CLENNELL:  But these words have come home to roost for the premier and her “Customer Service” Minister Victor Dominello after revelations in The Australian about the leak of hundreds of motorists’ private details to the Liberal party dirt unit and a journalist.

That leak, as The Australian has revealed, occurred despite the head of Revenue NSW specifically requesting the spreadsheet containing the private speeding offence details of Michael Daley and his wife and hundreds of other motorists, mistakenly given to the minister’s office, be deleted.

It beggars belief that Dominello did not know about this departmental request, which occurred last November, at the time that an article was published about Daley’s driving record in The Sydney Morning Herald during the election campaign.

Yet the minister made no protest or inquiry at the time as to why the information was released.

If Dominello did not know about this request to delete the file last November, it seems he is unfit to run a political office and unfit to be a minister. He refused in parliament this week to answer when he knew.

When Berejiklian promoted Dominello, with whom she is close, to be one of eight cluster ministers post-election, she effectively put him in charge of all state government data, knowing that his office was under police investigation over the leaking of some of that information in a bid to try to wound the then opposition leader. Ten staffers have been interviewed by police.

How can any NSW citizen trust this office with their data?

As for Dominello, he got up in parliament earlier this month and made a joke of the fact that his office was under investigation.

And he and the Premier steadfastly refused yesterday, using tricky bureaucratic language, to reveal if Dominello had declared to cabinet or the premier that his family had an interest in conveyancing, or declare that the minister’s cousin, Beth Dominello, had made a complaint personally to him about econveyancing company PEXA, at the time Dominello was pushing reforms to disadvantage PEXA.

Mr Dominello told parliament: “I received an email from my cousin who is one of about 34,000 lawyers in NSW. She sent an email in relation to a complaint, a frustration she had with PEXA and a bank.”

He said he had sent the matter to his agency for a response.

Asked about the email from Ms Dominello to PEXA, a spokesman for the minister said: “The Minister adheres to the highest standards of integrity, and complies with all his obligations at all times.”

A spokesman for the Premier said: “The Minister has advised [he] . . . has acted in accordance with his obligations under the Ministerial Code of Conduct at all times.”

There is little doubt that if Mike Baird were still premier, he would have acted on this leak scandal.

After MP after MP was named adversely at ICAC, he canned them all. Swiftly.

Berejiklian seems to prefer that such matters just go away.

When it came to former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire being named adversely at ICAC, Berejiklian, who was on holidays, took days — and a lot of pressure — to get Maguire to fall on his sword. Even then, she had to get former premier Barry O’Farrell, who himself fell over an ICAC scandal, to call Maguire to make it happen.

One former Berejiklian staffer said to another government staffer at the time “it’ll blow over.”

Perhaps that is what the Premier is hoping for now. That “it’ll blow over”.

But ultimately, how the Premier deals with the Dominello matter is a test of her integrity. If police cannot find evidence to charge, ICAC should investigate this matter with public hearings.

And Berejiklian and Dominello should find the staffer who leaked this information and sack them immediately.

Because, as the premier so beautifully put it, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

That’s right, Premier. It really is.






“Truth in political advertising laws would enable the public to have more confidence in what they were seeing,” said Ben Oquist to the Guardian Australia.

“Unless action is taken, election campaigns risk sliding into a fake-news free-for-all with no bottom.

“Obviously political campaigning needs to be strong and robust, but it is time to have a fresh look at the system.”


SEARCH CAAN WEBSITE to find out more about:  Gladys Liu, Chisholm, Kooyong, AEC, Clive Palmer, United Australia Party  …




‘Designed to deceive’: how do we ensure truth in political advertising?

Falsehoods in the campaign have prompted calls for a fresh look at our electoral laws

Posters for Gladys Liu and Jennifer Yang in the electorate of Chisholm
 Posters for candidates in the Melbourne electorate of Chisholm, where there were allegations of deceptive political advertising. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images


Carol Que was near Weeden Heights primary school in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs when she saw it.

A sign, mimicking the purple theme of the Australian Electoral Commission, hung near her family’s local polling booth, delivering a Chinese-language message to voters.


“Correct way to vote: on the green voting card, put preference 1 next to the Liberal party,” the sign read. “The other boxes can be numbered from smallest to highest.”

Que, an organiser with the activist group Anticolonial Asian Alliance, was sickened. The sign, authorised by the Liberal party, was a “condescending”, “cowardly” and “predatory” attempt to trick voters, she said.

Most younger Chinese Australians would have been too savvyto fall for it. But Que fears older migrants, and potentially those from Hong Kong and Taiwan, may have been duped into directing their vote.

“The sign is designed to deceive and manipulate the ‘ethnic vote’,” she told Guardian Australia. “Not to mention it is just another part of the Liberal party’s propaganda tactics, mostly waged on Weibo.”

Similar signs were found at booths in Kooyong and Chisholm.

Luke Hilakari@lhilakari

MASSIVE RORT: in Chisholm Liberals have made posters in Chinese to look like AEC information that translates to “the correct way to vote is to put a number 1 next to the Liberals and number every other box.” It’s at every booth. When will the @AusElectoralCom pull them down?

2,706 people are talking about this

*The Australian Electoral Commission, which is bound by highly prescriptive laws, said it was powerless to act.

*The high court has ruled it has no remit to stop content that misleads a voter on who to vote for.

*It can only act on “conduct which affects the process of casting a vote”.

*As long as the signs were properly sourced and six metres from the polling place, they were fine to stay, the AEC ruled.


The case – and a string of other campaign incidents – also helped jumpstart the debate on truth in political advertising.

Clive Palmer billboard
Clive Palmer admitted that his $60m intervention in the campaign was aimed at depressing the Labor vote. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

‘Fake-news free-for-all’

Integrity campaigners, senior legal figures and political experts have called for government intervention to stop the worst cases.


The Australia Institute executive director, Ben Oquist, has called for an inquiry into how truth in political advertising laws could be implemented in a way that is constitutional and fair.

“Truth in political advertising laws would enable the public to have more confidence in what they were seeing,” Oquist tells Guardian Australia. “Unless action is taken, election campaigns risk sliding into a fake-news free-for-all with no bottom.

“Obviously political campaigning needs to be strong and robust, but it is time to have a fresh look at the system.”

The problems with such reforms are obvious. How does a government intervene to stop falsehoods without unfairly or unconstitutionally gagging political discourse?

And how could such laws be enforced with the speed needed to make them effective, while balancing the need to make fair and considered judgments on complex and contested issues of truth?

Michael Maley, a former AEC official, says there are “real issues with trying to define truth” – particularly in relation to statements about the future.

“Is it the case that politicians have a legal right to be believed when they say they don’t have a plan to do something?

“In 2013 Tony Abbott said there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS – he denied [the cuts], so does that mean you can’t say any more about it?”

A better standard

History shows reform in this area does not come easily. In 1983, the federal government regulated for truth in advertising.

A year later, the laws were dumped. A bipartisan committee declared them unworkable. Political advertising involved “intangible ideas” not readily subject to a test of truth, it found.

The laws were not able to grapple with predictions or opinions, and parliament feared the parties could misuse injunctions to disrupt their opponents’ campaigns.

Len Keogh, a Queensland Labor MP, instead urged his colleagues to hold themselves to a better standard.

“With the repeal of these amendments, the onus for fairness and honesty in political advertising is put directly on candidates and political parties,” Keogh told parliament in 1984. “I certainly hope that a sense of responsibility to inform the voter correctly about real issues will prevail in the forthcoming election campaign. We must not allow the situation to develop … in which the opposition, desperately short of policies, is likely to mount the same sort of slanderous campaign on this occasion.”

Keogh’s pleas fell on deaf ears. In the decades since, scare campaigns have been deployed regularly, including by his own side. In this year’s election, the United Australia party used its vast advertising spend to spread a lie that Labor would introduce $1 trillion in new taxes.

Fringe Facebook groups claimed Labor was planning a “death tax”, a lie that was later fanned by Coalition figures. The Liberals paid for ads claiming Labor was planning a “car tax”, despite the party holding no such policy. Real estate agents wrote to tenants warning them, falsely, their rents would go up due to Labor’s negative gearing policy.

Labor is not innocent of propagating falsehoods. At the 2016 election, it ran the infamous and effective Mediscare campaign against the Turnbull government.

The mistruths and deceptions do little to arrest flatlining public trust in politics. Last year, University of Canberra researchers found fewer than 41% of Australian citizens were satisfied with the way democracy works, a dramatic fall from 86% in 2007.

Campaign financing caps

South Australia remains the only jurisdiction to enact truth in advertising laws, but they are limited. Last year, in the heat of the SA election, the state electoral commission used the laws to rule that government claims about energy bill savings were untrue.

The ACT briefly considered truth-in-advertising following its 2016 election, but concluded they were impractical and open to political exploitation.

Emeritus professor Marian Sawer, a political scientist with the Australian National University, says a major problem is that enforcement bodies such as the AEC are understandably reluctant to be “dragged into partisan controversy”.

Sawer says another solution would be more effective: a limit on campaign financing.

“I continue to believe that one of the best ways to stop us all drowning in a sea of negative advertising during election campaigns is through caps on campaign expenditure,” Sawer says.

It’s an argument made more timely by Clive Palmer’s $60m intervention in the campaign, which he admitted was aimed at depressing Labor’s vote.

There is a constitutional hurdle to clear. In January the high court upheld a challenge from Unions New South Wales, striking down a NSW law halving the amount third-party groups can spend on state campaigns from $1.05m to $500,000.

*The majority found a spending cap was not “reasonably necessary” to prevent drowning out other voices in the political process.

The secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Sally McManus, has labelled the amount of money spent by Palmer on the election “a perversion of our democracy”.

She defends unions’ role in striking down a law that “stopped working people banding together” but says the movement must now “revisit” the issue of donation and spending caps.

“It’s just not right that a billionaire can spend what for them is small change on influencing democracy.”

It’s up to parliament

Sawer says there is a clear argument that the AEC should at least be given the power to stop political campaigners mimicking it.

“While the Commonwealth Electoral Act is already 639 pages long, I do think there should be a prohibition on political advertisements pretending to be from the Electoral Commission through use of the same or a very similar Pantone, as in Chisholm,” she says.

The losing independent in Kooyong, Oliver Yates, has said he may take the case of the Chinese-language signs to the court of disputed returns. His lawyers believe they gave an “emphatic direction on how to vote” and used language indicating voters did not have a choice.

“There is a very real risk the reader would think they are being told by the AEC that, to record a valid vote, they must vote 1 for Liberal,” Yates’s lawyer, Michael Bradley, says.

Que and the AAA fiercely opposed Gladys Liu – the Liberals’ successful Chisholm candidate – and remain furious that she benefited from the tactic.

Even without a legal challenge, the issue is almost certain to be explored in the standard election inquiry held by the joint standing committee on electoral matters.

The AEC itself has repeatedly stressed it can only act within the bounds of “highly prescriptive” laws. Changing the legislation, it says, is up to parliament.


The newly elected Liberal MP for Chisholm, Gladys Liu, during a Coalition party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday






Labor mulls legal challenge over misleading how-to-vote instructions on WeChat



Labor mulls legal challenge over misleading how-to-vote instructions on WeChat

Instructions on Chinese social media platform told residents to vote ‘1’ for Gladys Liu to avoid informal vote

The newly elected Liberal MP for Chisholm, Gladys Liu, during a Coalition party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday
 The newly elected Liberal MP for Chisholm, Gladys Liu, during a Coalition party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Labor is considering a legal challenge against Liberal Gladys Liu’s apparent victory in Chisholm over misleading how-to-vote instructions distributed on Chinese social media platform WeChat.

The action in the court of disputed returns would mirror a case to be brought by independent candidate Oliver Yates, protesting against Chinese language signs designed to resemble Australian Electoral Commission material in Kooyong and Chisholm.

Liu currently leads Labor’s Jennifer Yang in the seat of Chisholm by 1,373 votes with 87% of the vote counted, and was welcomed to the Liberal party room meeting on Tuesday as an incoming MP ahead of the declaration of the poll.

Labor’s putative challenge would focus on how-to-vote information distributed on WeChat telling residents to vote “1” for Liu and copy the instructions “exactly as it is to avoid an informal vote”. The ABC has reported that Liu denies authorising the material despite it being posted by her account in late April.


The Electoral Act prohibits material that misleads or deceives voters about the process of casting a vote – but the prohibition does not extend to material that is directed to the voters’ formation of their judgment about who to vote for.

Guardian Australia understands Labor is considering bringing legal action but no final decision has been made.

A spokesperson from the Liberal party’s Victorian division told the ABC in a statement that the party was not aware of any such action being taken by Labor.

“Should that change, the party will respond as appropriate,” the spokesperson reportedly said.

Yates told Guardian Australia he had raised more than $10,000 from more than 300 donors to a crowdfunding campaign to challenge misleading signs in Kooyong.

The signs, using the purple and white AEC colours, told voters “the correct voting method” was to put a “1” next to the Liberal candidate and then number the rest of the boxes from lowest to highest

The AEC refused to take action against the signs because they were authorised and there are no rules regarding the use of colour in campaign signage.

Yates said he has discussed a challenge with Labor and the Greens, because they were “all in the same boat” in having been disadvantaged by the material.

“This needs to be brought to a legal conclusion because we can’t keep accelerating towards more and more misleading and deceptive conduct,” he said.

Yates – who won 9% of the primary vote in Kooyong – acknowledges the challenge will not change the result in his electorate, retained by the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, but has argued the principle of “political integrity” is at stake.






Penny Wong blasts ‘malicious’ WeChat campaign spreading fake news about Labor


Australian election 2019

Penny Wong blasts ‘malicious’ WeChat campaign spreading fake news about Labor

Senator demands Morrison ‘rule out any Liberal party involvement’ in anti-refugee messages sent to Chinese Australians

Penny Wong said it was ‘incumbent upon Scott Morrison to rule out any Liberal party involvement in the malicious false content that is circulating on WeChat’ as part of the 2019 Australian federal election campaign.
 Penny Wong said it was ‘incumbent upon Scott Morrison to rule out any Liberal party involvement in the malicious false content that is circulating on WeChat’ as part of the 2019 Australian federal election campaign. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Penny Wong has blasted WeChat campaigns targeting Labor with fake news, as a new claim emerges warning refugees will soon outnumber Chinese Australians.

On Tuesday Wong, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, demanded Scott Morrison “rule out any Liberal party involvement in the malicious false content” and linked the messages to potential foreign interference in Australian democracy.


In one set of messages, seen by Guardian Australia, Liberal supporter Jason Zong cites Labor’s policy to increase the humanitarian intake to 32,000, claiming “in 10 years that will be 320,000 and that’s not including their relatives and four wives who can all immigrate”.

“After 10 years this group of refugees will surpass Australia’s entire Chinese immigrant population, and there will be more in the coming years and the taxpayers will have to pay for it,” he said.

Jason Zong at a Liberal National party event with former prime minister John Howard.
Jason Zong at a Liberal National party event with former prime minister John Howard. Photograph: WeChat


On Sunday a WeChat message from Jennifer (Jing) Li emerged pushing a doctored Bill Shorten tweet stating “immigration of people from the Middle East is the future Australia needs”.

The tweet has also appeared on Gab, the far-right social media network resembling Twitter, although several users there noted it was fake and used the wrong handle for Bill Shorten.

Labor has written to TenCent, the Chinese multinational which created WeChat, raising concerns.

At a press conference in Melbourne, Wong said there are “deeply concerning reports about fake news and malicious content being spread on WeChat”.

“We have robust political debates. We don’t have major political parties engaging in fake news on this media platform or any other media platform.

“It is incumbent upon Scott Morrison to rule out any Liberal party involvement in the malicious false content that is circulating on WeChat.”

Wong noted the 45th parliament had passed foreign interference laws to prevent interference in Australian elections and ensure “our democracy remains sovereign” and called on Morrison to “do the right thing”.

A Liberal party spokesman responded: “These are not ads distributed by the Liberal party. All Liberal party advertising carries an official authorisation.”

The Coalition campaign spokesman, Simon Birmingham, told ABC TV “yes”, he can rule out the involvement of the Liberal party in the messages.

“I’m confident if there are things that are being said that are incorrect, they are not coming from our campaign, it is a social media platform … and we don’t control the comments of the millions of different users of WeChat,” he said.


Labor and the Coalition are both keen to court the votes of Chinese Australians, particularly in the Victorian seat of Chisholm where Liberal Gladys Liu and Labor’s Jennifer Yang are contesting the seat on a margin of 2.9%.

In 2016 Liu masterminded a Chinese social media campaign that helped elect Liberal candidate Julia Banks, and has claimed Chinese Australians are concerned future generations will be “destroyed” by “ridiculous rubbish” such as “concepts of same-sex, transgender, intergender, crossgender”.

Liu has also denied she favoured Chinese migrants in comments from 2016that suggested “not as good migrants” from other countries were less hard-working.

Zong is a Liberal supporter, pictured at numerous party events including with the Liberal candidate for Kogarah, Scott Yung, and former prime minister John Howard.

Zong correctly stated if Labor wins the 18 May election it would give $500m to the UN’s refugee council – omitting the fact the spending is over five years – and claims it will increase Australia’s foreign aid by 25%, although the quantum of Labor’s proposed spending money is still unknown.

Referring to the refugee intake, Zong said: “The first year will require about $1bn and every year that will increase, and eventually it might reach $10bn dollars.”








WHAT price a life?  Is there such a thing as a completely bug-free computer system?  Anywhere?

Oh, and Skip the first carriage …

COST Saving … employ Drivers … cost benefit …





Technical glitch delays commuters on Sydney’s new metro



Several incidents bedevilled Sydney’s new North West Metro on Wednesday including a breakdown, a failure of live transport data and incorrect announcements that train doors were closing on a moving train.

The most severe hiccup on the metro’s fourth day of operations occurred when a driverless train stopped moving between Epping and Cherrybrook after it lost communication with the network’s control system at about 12.50pm.

Driving a driverless train: A customer journey coordinator (left) took control of the train and drove it to Cherrybrook.
Driving a driverless train: A customer journey coordinator (left) took control of the train and drove it to Cherrybrook.

A customer journey coordinator (a driver?) on board took control of the train and drove it to Cherrybrook.

When the train arrived at Cherrybrook, the doors initially failed to open, Nine News reported, but customers were eventually able to disembark and the faulty train was taken back to the depot at 1.14pm for testing.


A replacement train was dispatched about 20 minutes later, but a Transport for NSW spokesman said there were some delays as a result of the incident.


Frustrated commuters posted images of packed platforms and crowded trains as a result of the day’s issues.

Gaurav Piya@gauravpiya

Picture from Chatswood station and we are now stuck at North Ryde for last 5 mins

See Gaurav Piya’s other Tweets

Passengers on another train travelling between Epping and Macquarie University heard a repeated announcement instructing them to “please stand back from the closing doors” while the train was in motion.

Commuters attempting to cope with the disordered metro system were given little information as live transport information went down in the afternoon.

Garry Narkle due to leave prison

Sydney commuters face delays after technical glitch on Metro

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Sydney commuters face delays after technical glitch on Metro

Passengers were delayed by 20 minutes when doors on the new Metro line wouldn’t open.


Both station train arrival screens and transport apps showed no real time data for late-running trains.

When the data was available, commuters reported on social media that trains were running at intervals of up to about 30 minutes.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said at about 5pm the network was expected to have recovered in time for the afternoon peak.

The incidents were a far cry from the smooth operations the new metro enjoyed on its first few days, when it handled a greater than expected number of passengers without obvious strain.

The new Sydney Metro on its first day, before Wednesday's disruptions.
The new Sydney Metro on its first day, before Wednesday’s disruptions.CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS


Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.








Mr Dominello was in the hot seat in question time yesterday in Parliament not only about the leak to the SMH, but also about that which he wrote in The Australian in November about the move to full electronic conveyancing  … that the NSW Government ought accept PEXA as a natural monopoly … and move to regulate it like the leased Land Titles operator  

That it was the job of the NSW Government to ensure the strength of econveyancing not of PEXA

To which the Australian Banking Association submitted that the current interoperability design and timeline could result in $MILLIONS in increased costs.  Others complained about the ‘probity’ of the process



Minister Dominello’s cousin conveyed concerns on system

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello under attack in question time yesterday. Picture: Jane Dempster.
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello under attack in question time yesterday. Picture: Jane Dempster.


NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello’s cousin, conveyancer Beth Dominello, personally lobbied the minister about issues she had with the national electronic conveyancing system around the time the minister said he wanted NSW to reform the system to allow competition.


Beth Dominello, of the Bond & Bond law firm, late last year told industry sources she would be talking to the minister and his office about concerns she had with the system, operated by a company known as PEXA.

Mr Dominello, around the same time, announced he wanted to introduce an “econveyancing interopability regime” where other suppliers could enter the NSW market.

The minister, who faced heat in question time yesterday over a police investigation into the leak from his office of confidential information involving hundreds of motorists, has since been accused of rushing the econveyancing reforms and of potentially costing consumers more by attempting to get them in place so quickly.

Mr Dominello’s office yesterday said, in answer to detailed questions from The Australian: “The minister received an email from his cousin regarding her experience of using the econveyancing system as a practising lawyer. Her inquiry was referred to the department by the minister’s office for a response.”

Asked to release the email, a spokesman said: “We will not be releasing the email. In relation to your other queries, the minister has no further comment.”

The spokesman declined to say if Mr Dominello and his cousin had had phone conversations on the issue.

Ms Dominello’s father, Joe, who has worked at the Bond & Bond law firm with Ms Dominello, told The Australian yesterday Mr Dominello’s cousin had raised PEXA issues with the minister.

He said he would pass a message to Beth Dominello to respond to The Australian’s inquiries. Ms Dominello did not respond.

Mr Dominello wrote in The Australian in November of the move to full electronic conveyancing: “People rightly look to NSW to show leadership when it comes to national reform.

The easy path would be for the NSW government to … accept PEXA as a natural monopoly, and then move to regulate it in a similar way to our recently leased land titles operator, with strict controls on price, commercial operations and security. We have unashamedly chosen to pursue the latter path — the key to which is interoperability (sharing information).

“For years, what was good for econveyancing was good for PEXA. This is no longer true. As the two causes diverge, it is the job of the NSW government to ensure the strength of econveyancing — not of PEXA.”

A submission from the ­Australian Banking Association to the Office of the Registrar-General dated March 1 said of Mr Dominello’s proposal:

“The timeline set by the NSW government for establishing a regulatory framework for mandating electronic lodgement network interoperability leaves insufficient time. The current interoperability design and timeline could result in millions of dollars in increased costs as the banks will need to create and maintain payment gateways … and build them in record time.”

Other submissions to the government have complained about the “probity” of the process.

Mr Dominello came under ­attack in question time yesterday over revelations in The Australian his office was told to destroy a ­departmental document containing private details of hundreds of motorists, including then NSW opposition leader Michael Daley, but the spreadsheet ended up in the hands of a journalist.

Mr Dominello was yesterday asked five questions by the opposition, including when he realised the privacy breach had occurred.

The minister responded: “It would be inappropriate to comment on this matter until the investigation is completed.”

The opposition’s acting Legislative Assembly leader, Ryan Park, called Mr Dominello a “disgrace”.






The Privacy Commissioner told Dominello’s Office to delete the file of motorists details including that of the NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley … yet the document found its way into the hands of  a newspaper journalist …

DESPITE this event Mr Dominello has been put in charge of all the data for the NSW Government in his role as head of the new Customer Service portfolio …





NSW minister’s office linked to leak of details of motorist details  Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello. Picture: John Appleyard

Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello. Picture: John Appleyard



A Berejiklian government minister’s office was told to destroy a departmental document containing the private details of hundreds of motorists, including then NSW opposition leader Michael Daley, but the spreadsheet ended up in the hands of a journalist.


A police investigation into the leak of the document’s details, which surfaced during the NSW election campaign in March, has interviewed 10 staffers now working in the office of Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello.

The Australian can reveal the state’s Privacy Commission has also reviewed the matter after Mr Dominello’s department referred the breach to it. The saga began last year when Mr Dominello’s offic­e asked the government department Revenue NSW for a breakdown of the number of calls to a special hotline MPs can use for their constituents to help them with driving offences.


The department accidentally sent a tab showing private details of many motorists, including Mr Daley and his wife.

The document also showed Mr Daley’s electorate staff rang to tell the department Mr Daley’s wife, Christina, was driving his car when a traffic offence was incurred.

Several months later, shortly after Mr Daley became Labor leader in October, a departmental liaison officer for Mr Dominello asked for more information on the document from the department.

At this point, the Commissioner of Revenue NSW, Stephen Brady, is said to have realised the distribution of the document, containing hundreds of motorists’ private information, was a privacy breach. He ordered it be referred to the Privacy Commissioner and told Mr Dominello’s office to delete the file. But the document instead found the way into the hands of a newspaper journalist.

Former NSW Labor leader Michael Daley. Picture: AAP
Former NSW Labor leader Michael Daley. Picture: AAP


*Revelations of the breach comes after Mr Dominello, who is close to Premier Gladys Berejik­lian, has been put in charge of all the data for the government in his role as head of the new Customer Service portfolio.

At the time of the incident, Mr Dominello was finance minister.

*The Australian revealed earlier this month that one of Mr ­Dominello’s staffers, Tom Green, was seconded to the Liberal campaign “dirt unit” to work alongside another government staffer, John Macgowan, during the state election campaign.

*Mr Macgowan was named by Labor in parliament this month as the man who distributed the information to a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.

He declined to comment at the time.

Mr Brady said yesterday in a statement: “When Revenue NSW became aware of the incident, the Information and Privacy Commission [IPC] was immediately notified.

“The IPC recommended Revenue NSW take the opportunity to review governance arrangements to ensure all staff are aware of their privacy obligations.

Revenue NSW has complied with this recommendation, reviewing approval procedures and ensuring training on privacy obligations is tracked so that similar incidents do not occur in future.”

In parliament earlier this month, Mr Dominello attempted to laugh off the police probe.

In response to an opposition question, he said: “For the past 24 hours, something has been weighing on my conscience and I have been tossing and turning about whether I need to ­correct the record.

“Yesterday I said it was four years since I was asked a question by the opposition; it was actually five years,” he said, to much laughter from his colleagues.

“But there is a police investi­gation under way: I have directed my staff and my agency to co-­operate with it and I will not be saying anything further.”

Mr Daley, when contacted by The Australian over the matter yesterday, said: “It doesn’t get much more serious that this.

“The private details of thousands of people which are supposed to be guarded by the government and they were released for political purposes.

“I do not intend to let this matter rest.”

Police are expected to refer the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, as they do not have enough evidence to lay a charge.

Mr Dominello responded to The Australian’s questions with a one-line statement yesterday, saying: “I am not in a position to comment on this matter until the police investigation is finalised.”









MW:  “It is highly likely that a $1 billion, 30-year, 3 per cent annual interest rate loan will emerge from EFIC to entice Adani,” @TimBuckleyIEEFA on the pending Adani disaster 


The Fix Is In: Adani hooks India’s poor and Australia’s taxpayers

Government approves Adani’s water rights last month. Photo of former environment minister Melissa Price by SBS


Defying all odds, prospects for Adani’s coal mine in the Galilee Basin have never looked better. This is a risk for Australia, and the world. Energy expert Tim Buckley reports on the world’s most controversial mining project, Carmichael.

This is not just about Adani. Coal projects totalling 320 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) could be set off by this first move, the move to approve Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, especially as Clive Palmer has been so quick to jump on the subsidised export thermal coal bandwagon this week.

Despite the commercial viability of this mine being severely challenged, and with straight bank finance no longer an option, the Adani group could still finance the first stage itself. That would mean it would sell its expensive, dirty coal through newly-upgraded government contracts, and thereby lock in imported energy poverty for the poor people of Gujarat and Bangladesh, for decades to come.

Putting mythical accounting conventions aside, and spurious claims that Australia’s exported carbon emissions are irrelevant to one side, this is a global climate disaster in the making. Adani’s Carmichael mine is merely the stalking horse. A string of other fossil fuel projects are lined up behind it, coal and gas fracking.

Low reward, high risk

Even without these, the economic rationale is sketchy at best. The Galilee is the largest thermal coal basin proposed for development in the world. Adding up to 320mtpa of new high-ash, low-energy “HALE” coal would flood the seaborne thermal coal market with another 30 per cent of global capacity.

Such a massive injection of new coal supply would not just exhaust a big share of the remaining global carbon budget, but also likely slowly crush the thermal coal price in the process. It would crush the price of Australia’s largest export (well, neck and neck with iron ore).

It would do major damage to Australia’s existing thermal coal mines and result in the loss of thousands of existing Australian coal industry jobs over the coming decade.

With the re-election of the Coalition government, the last major Federal legal and approval barriers to opening up the Galilee Basin are largely resolved. The Queensland Government is being leant on by coal lobbyists, Adani and the Federal Government to ignore all credible scientific review of the facts surrounding this project and its affect on the world’s climate.

This, not withstanding that Adani has failed to answer the CSIRO’s questions on water  impacts. As to the endangered Black Throated Finch and the Great Barrier Reef, coal lobbyists and Murdoch media alike keep crying that both are irrelevant. It’s time to dig up all the coal Australia can, while we still can.

Drug pusher argument

The drug-pusher argument has rung loud, repeatedly and clearly over the airwaves. If it’s not our coal, the world will just buy coal from somebody else. Someone else will make the money.

Meanwhile, China’s MacMines has formally notified the Queensland Government this month that it has closed its Australian office and abandoned (but not relinquished) its $6.7 billion China Stone coal project, strongly underlining the dramatic advances which China has made to permanently reduce its addiction to thermal coal, reduce its chronic air pollution and drive global leadership in zero emissions technologies of the future.

Chinese investments are increasingly being directed to industries like rare earth and lithium mining, batteries, solar, wind, electric vehicles and smart grids – rapidly growing global industries – not to prop up dying industries of the past, which are increasingly uncompetitive against lower cost, zero emission alternatives.

China’s NDRC has also this month announced a $US25 billion tender for 21 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy, the largest ever in world history.

What makes this all the more telling is that this tender marks a critical milestone – the tender is for zero subsidy renewables. So by 2020, China will see wind and solar both reach grid parity with domestic thermal power.

India and America reached grid parity back in 2017, and Indian renewable tenders have repeatedly been completed every month since at 10-20 per cent below existing domestic coal-fired power costs.

Renewable energy is cheaper than new coal, so why Adani?

Indian renewable costs are 20-50 per cent below the cost of new imported coal-fired power plant proposals. So the technology, finance and economics all show thermal coal has entered a slow terminal decline. Against this backdrop, the obvious question is, why would the Adani Group ignore the new economic reality and proceed with this long stranded proposal?

Firstly, having sunk $1.5 billion in this project to date, the Adani Group does not want to admit they made a bet at the start of this decade, a bet which failed – irrespective of the inevitable rising dominance of technology change in Indian renewables so clearly evident in Adani’s home state of Gujarat.

Secondly, it is clear, where a project is unviable and un-bankable on normal commercial grounds, a well connected billionaire thinks not of moving on, but of changing the rules.

As The Australia Institute’s Richard Dennis put it – any project is viable if you throw enough subsidies at it. The Carmichael coal proposal has long been underpinned by a raft of subsidies. Adani’s ratepayer gift of a $30-40 million new airport might have fallen over, and the heavily-fought-over $1 billion-30 year subsidised loan from the North Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) has likewise been blocked.

But other taxpayer gifts remain in the offing. Adani will be able to use huge quantities of ground water for its coal mining and extensive washing of its HALE raw coal, no cost attached. The diesel fuel subsidy is worth hundreds of millions of dollars each and every year to Adani (aside from our deserving farmers, all Australian industry and all Australian voters paying fuel taxes, but not the mostly foreign owned, Australian operating coal industry).

Rehabilitation, the long game

The Government has done a great job updating Queensland’s mine rehabilitation legislation over last two years, but it did sneak in a final exemption just for Adani, such that they are entitled to leave a huge final toxic void in perpetuity. A void is a hole in the ground, in this case, a very big hole.

Adani is yet to provide the required financial assurance to garner its seven-year royalty holiday – a capital subsidy of $600 million to $700 million – but it is still on offer, which means precisely zero coal royalties are likely to flow into Queensland schools or hospitals from Carmichael this coming decade.

And expect to hear a lot more about the legislative change rushed through pre-election that dramatically expanded the fossil fuel funding capacity and scope of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC).

It is highly likely that a $1 billion, 30-year, 3 per cent annual interest rate loan will emerge from EFIC to entice Adani to actually start construction of its nine year odyssey to build a railway line to no-where (assuming thermal coal becomes obsolete sometime in the coming few decades).

But again, fence-sitting members of Parliament contend that – if one is convinced of this inevitable technology driven disruption being well underway already – then why not leave the collapse of this mine to market forces?

It will fail anyway, they say, not our problem.

Except for the fact that there is a global climate emergency right now. And the fact that the best time to start to prepare for an inevitable transition is now, not next decade.

IEEFA did point out a year ago that Adani put India’s largest coal fired power plant up for sale for a token Rs1. A $US5 billion investment made at the start of this decade for sale at 2 cents. Still there were no buyers.

Fast forward a year and everything has changed. All it took was for the Gujarat government to re-write the power purchase agreement to include a 30 per cent tariff uplift for the Mundra power plants for the next 30 years. So the poor people of Gujarat will pay Adani 30 per cent more for their imported coal electricity for the next 30 years.

Privatise the profits, socialise the losses

One cant expect a billionaire, after all, to wear the costs of unexpected events like currency declines and having to pay a market price for his coal … when he can foist the cost onto poor people.

And the poor people of Bangladesh have likewise agreed to underwrite Adani’s Godda import coal fired power plant at export tariffs close to double the wholesale price of electricity in India for the next 25 years.

But Adani Power was having trouble convincing thousands of land owners to vacate their ancestral homes, and private bankers were thinking this $US2 billion proposal was unviable.

So the fix went in. The Government of India gifted Adani Power a Special Economic Zone tax exemption for a decade or so, and the State Bank of India threw in a $US1.5 billion loan to a company which had been unable to avoid reporting losses for the last decade.

So, with long term expensive power purchase agreements providing a ready in-house market for the Carmichael mine, the market price of seaborne coal becomes less material.

Having been unable to secure one single global financial institution to invest in its Carmichael proposal, Adani has turned to self-financing the project because it has guaranteed returns from the poor people of India thanks to these government deals.

A deal looks close

Notwithstanding the Adani Group has significant financial leverage and numerous other multi-billion dollar projects in train already, Carmichael looks increasingly feasible.

An insightful report came out this week in India highlighting the myriad ways the Adani Group’s complex corporate structure is funded through inter-company loans, asset finance, equity margin lending and the sale of unlisted equity stakes in subsidiary entities.$

And this week the Adani Ports business has announced a $US1 billion global private debt placement with its full-year 2018/19 results. Secured against nine key ports across India, underpinned by India’s excellent long-term economic growth prospects, this debt raising should be completed in no time at all.

So self-financing looks likely. Multi-decade off-take agreements with sister companies within the Adani Group now provide a secure end market for the Carmichael coal at heavily subsidised prices locked in by government contracts. Add in Australian fuel, water, rehabilitation and financing subsidies.

All of which puts the Carmichael climate bomb on track to start work once those pesky First Australians get rolled (and bankrupted) by the Australian justice system and the Queensland government gives in to Federal demands to ignore intergenerational equity and precautionary principles.

Tim Buckley has written a number of reports for IEEFA on the Adani project. He is Australia’s foremost expert in Indian energy. It is worth following Tim on Twitter @TimBuckleyIEEFA if you would like to keep up with the latest in Adani, global energy markets and the remarkable revolution in renewables. 





Adani shown the door by traditional owners

How Adani stacked the landowner meetings before it sought court orders to bankrupt traditional landowner, Adrian Burragubba, who tried to stop its coal mine.

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