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    Tony Abbott announces new Australian Defence Force chiefs


    2019 - 07.22

    Lieutenant General Angus Campbell (center) was announced as the new Chief of Army by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Meares Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces the changes. Photo: Andrew Meares
    Nanjing Night Net

    Lieutenant General Angus Campbell will be the new Chief of Army. Photo: Andrew Meares

    The man who led Operation Sovereign Borders has been confirmed as Australia’s next Chief of Army, but has been prevented from speaking to journalists at a press conference about his appointment.

    Lieutenant General Angus Campbell will take the job in May, while Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Davies will become Chief of the Air Force in July.

    At a media conference in Canberra on Thursday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government would announce changes to its border protection operations next week.

    Mr Abbott would not say whether General Campbell, a former SAS commander and deputy army chief who has coordinated the government’s tough policy of stopping asylum seeker boats, would be replaced by another military official or someone from a civilian field.

    “I’m not going to pre-empt announcements that will be made next week other than to say that we will be sending a very clear message to people smugglers [and] their potential clients,” Mr Abbott said.

    “We are not relaxing our vigilance here because the instant we relax our vigilance, the risk is we put the people smugglers back into business.

    “If the people smugglers go back into business, the boats start coming the deaths start again, that’s the last thing anyone should want.”

    General Campbell brought a military approach to border protection, including rigid operational secrecy and strict co-ordination of different arms of government. But he also became the subject of controversy over the boats policy, in particular his and then immigration minister Scott Morrison’s consistent refusal to provide information about operations.

    The Prime Minister said Air Marshal Davis, who most recently served as Deputy Chief of the Air Force, had a wide range of operational and command experience, including deployment to the Middle East and a posting as Air Attache in Washington.

    “I think we are very lucky to have two outstanding officers taking on these vital roles in our defence force,” Mr Abbott said.

    While both General Campbell and Air Marshal Davis were present for Thursday’s press conference, both men were prevented from answering a number of questions from journalists.

    “The protocol I understand is that prime ministers, ministers and [the chief of the defence force] speak at these events,” Mr Abbott said.

    “The distinguished appointees will no doubt talk to you on another occasion.”

    Both men were moments later asked to leave the media conference so Mr Abbott could take unrelated questions.

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    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Peter Dutton defends Nauru hospitals as better than some in Australia as Cambodia deal takes a step forward


    2019 - 07.22

    Immigration Minister Peter Dutton gives a present to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng, during a signing of a memorandum of understanding. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Immigration Minister Peter Dutton gives a present to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng, during a signing of a memorandum of understanding. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
    Nanjing Night Net

    Immigration Minister Peter Dutton gives a present to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng, during a signing of a memorandum of understanding. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

    Immigration Minister Peter Dutton gives a present to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng, during a signing of a memorandum of understanding. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

    Secretary of State spokesman Phay Siphan at the Cambodian government’s ministry offices. Photo: Sarah Whyte

    Asylum seekers on Nauru receive schooling of the same standard as in Australia and access to hospital facilities that are better than some regional areas, says Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

    But a Cambodian official compared the living conditions of detainees to those of “animals”.

    Mr Dutton mounted the defence of Australia’s detention facilities as he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, Sar Kheng, that will clear the way for the resettlement of refugees to that country.

    As the government deals with the fall-out of the Moss review into sexual abuse on Nauru, which exposed evidence of rapes, sexual assault on minors and Nauruan guards trading marijuana for sexual favours, Mr Dutton said the facility was well-resourced.

    “I’ve been to many hospitals in regional Australia, including in towns where people would say that those hospitals aren’t up to the standard of those in Nauru. I also had the opportunity, the great privilege, to go to Afghanistan to see our troops and the field hospital that I saw there … was not in my judgement up to the standard that I saw in Nauru,” he said.

    “I also went to the educational facilities, the classrooms there [in the detention centre in Nauru] where young people at taxpayers’ expense are being provided with English classes and schooling otherwise that is of a standard at least as good as in Australia.”

    A “first wave” of three to five families is expected to resettle in Cambodia in coming months.

    Cambodian government officials are on Nauru to speak to families but there are signs of resistance among asylum seeker families.

    Mr Dutton warned that some “well-intentioned people” in Australia and elsewhere were trying to “provide messages” to people in Nauru not to accept resettlement.

    “For those people in Nauru … I think it’s very important to properly consider the offer that is on the table in relation to going to Cambodia,” he said.

    In Cambodia, an official said the Hun Sen government had agreed to the $40 million refugee resettlement deal to “pay back” Australia for taking their own refugees after the country’s bloody civil war.

    It comes as the Hun Sen government defended the forced deportation of a number of indigenous Vietnamese refugees late last month as a “national security” matter.

    The Secretary of State spokesman Phay Siphan said that the Hun Sen government had agreed to the deal with Australia on humanitarian grounds and that Cambodia “felt sorry for Australia” for shouldering the burden of refugee resettlement.

    “We understand how hard it is,” Mr Siphan said from his office in Phnom Penh.

    “[Refugees] are like animal at the camps, they have no right to move, they have no right to do anything.

    “We give them a choice, where we open to everyone [on] what can you learn from Cambodia as a hosting country.

    “It’s not fair that Australian government has spent so much money for refugees,” he said.

    It is not known how many refugees living on Nauru will take up the offer to permanently resettle in the South Asian nation, nor how much it will cost the Abbott government to facilitate the resettlement with the International Organisation of Migration. This is in addition to the $40 million in aid that has already been pledged for development assistance over four years.

    Mr Siphan estimated “10 to 15” families could take up the offer in a “pilot program”, while Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told local Cambodian media last week that “three to five” families would initially volunteer to move to the country.

    “Australia was open to Cambodian refugees, we have to pay back something. We don’t want to take and take from Australia,” Mr Siphan said.

    “These people, we will treat them equally as all Cambodians.

    “They will become rich if they work hard.”

    By contrast, nearly 40 Christian Montagnards – an indigenous group who claim they face religious persecution and live in the Northern Highlands of Vietnam – were allegedly deported to Vietnam by the Cambodian government in February.

    Mr Siphan said the government would not take “political refugees” from Vietnam or China.

    “We don’t allow political refugees to springboard into our country,” he said.

    “That is our national security,” he said. “Those people are not refugees, they are just getting away from the government, they are not refugees.

    “We call it illegal immigration,” he said.

    Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch has questioned the conditions refugees will face in Cambodia, saying that most refugees already in Cambodia are “living hand to mouth with few employment opportunities, facing racism and corruption on a daily basis, and inadequate services”.

    “Cambodia is neither safe nor equipped to resettle refugees,” she said. “The Cambodian government has consistently shown it is willing to sign agreements and even laws, yet completely fail to implement them – like its own refugee law.”

    This week the Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who is implementing the resettlement deal, is in Australia to discuss the plan further.

    But the deal has been heavily criticised by a number of international aid agencies based in Cambodia who said they did not support it, arguing it was not appropriate for a country that has been accused of human rights abuses and has no refugee resettlement experience.

    Sarah Whyte is on a journalism fellowship in Cambodia with the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre.

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    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    ‘I don’t have a Facebook page!’: John Howard shocked by digital impersonator


    2019 - 07.22

    Steps Group Australia executive officer Stuart Coward shows former prime minister John Howard the fake Facebook page. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen The fake John Howard Facebook page. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
    Nanjing Night Net

    Mr Howard discovers he has a digital impersonator. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

    Former US president George W Bush once called John Howard a “man of steel” over his steadfast support for the American-led invasion of Iraq.

    But it was the relatively trivial matter of a fake Facebook page that wrong-footed the usually unflappable former prime minister on Thursday.

    Appearing at a leadership conference in Canberra, Mr Howard was approached by Stuart Coward, the executive officer of Steps Group Australia, a national not-for-profit employment, training and housing organisation based in Caloundra on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

    Mr Coward was excited to meet Mr Howard after sending him messages via Facebook for the last couple of years. Mr Coward would use the page to try to engage Mr Howard in conversation about cricket or seek advice about leadership issues. He never received a reply but put this down to the impossibility of personally replying to each of the page’s 37,000 followers.

    But the former PM appeared surprised when Mr Coward mentioned their correspondence. “I don’t have a Facebook page!” Mr Howard told him.

    “I think he was rather shocked actually,” Mr Coward told Fairfax Media.  

    Mike Baird’s Government deserves to be reelected. The Premier leads a strong united team and is making the right decisions. John Posted by John Howard on Saturday, March 21, 2015

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    Thank you to everyone for the heartfelt birthday messages. I feel blessed to have had 75 wonderful years. Posted by John Howard on Saturday, July 26, 2014This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Australians frustrated at time spent booking travel online


    2019 - 07.22

    Was it worth all the planning? Was it worth all the planning?
    Nanjing Night Net

    Was it worth all the planning?

    Was it worth all the planning?

    Australians love all things we travel. We love thinking about it, talking about and planning it – or so we think.

    According to a new research by travel search engine KAYAK南京夜网.au, 25 per cent of Australians spend over half their annual leave planning and booking holidays each year.

    This means one in four spend almost as much time per year searching for holidays as they do taking them, with 31 per cent abandoning their searches halfway because they become frustrated with booking travel online, saying that it takes too long.

    Time spent searching is not the only thing irritating Australians. Hidden costs was the number one gripe, outranking fluctuating prices, confusing websites and information overload.

    While online travel booking has made searching for cheap flights, bargain accommodation, and tour and cruise deals more accessible to the average Australian, the amount of time spent planning and booking holidays has largely remained the same over the past three years (86 per cent of those surveyed indicated they did spent the same or more time planning).

    The survey revealed 33 per cent of Australians are also more preoccupied finding flights and accommodation deals than researching things to do at their destination.

    However, holiday satisfaction levels has also largely remained the same, with 58 per cent saying the more time spent planning and booking did not necessarily make the holiday more enjoyable.

    Remarkably, the survey revealed that 27 per cent of Australians spend less time deciding on a location to live than booking an overseas trip, with 21 per cent of those surveyed saying they booked a holiday while in bed and 1 per cent booking their holiday while commuting to or from work. Top destinations Australians are searching 

    1.    Los Angeles 2.    London 3.    Melbourne 4.    Bali 5.    Sydney 6.    Bangkok 7.    Auckland 8.    Singapore 9.    New York 10.  Tokyo

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Treasury signals company tax cuts


    2019 - 07.22

    “Australia’s company tax is relatively high by global standards,” says Rob Heferen. Photo: Jessica HromasThe head of Treasury’s revenue group, Rob Heferen, has thrown his support behind a move to cut the company tax rate from 30 per cent, saying it would boost foreign investment and economic growth.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Treasurer Joe Hockey has said the tax reform process will kick off this Monday with a discussion paper. This will be followed by a green paper later in the year, and will then be finished off with a final tax white paper.

    Speaking at a Minerals Council of Australia tax conference in Melbourne on tax reform, Mr Heferen said lower company taxes boosted foreign investment, resulted in more jobs, higher wages and increased productivity.

    He did not say what the rate should be, but the previous tax review by former Treasury boss Ken Henry has suggested it be cut to 25 per cent.

    “Let’s be clear: taxes have negative consequences for economic growth.. some are worse than others,” Mr Heferen said.

    Small businesses will still receive the 1.5 per cent tax cut they were promised by Prime Minister Tony Abbott before he was elected, but presently the 30 per cent company tax rate still applies for medium and large businesses.

    “Australia’s company tax is relatively high by global standards, particularly with a number of other countries [in the developed world] having reduced their rates,” Mr Heferen said.

    But Mr Richardson said there should be an extra tax on companies to ensure that big profits are taxed during boom times.

    He said it could be a new state tax, rather than a federal one.

    “You could have the states mirroring a company tax,” Mr Richardson said. “You don’t even need the feds involved at all.”

    Mr Heferen said while Australia should not compare itself to low-tax nations like Singapore, high company tax meant Australia was losing economic benefits.

    He said reducing the company tax rate would cost the federal budget in the short term, but over the long term it would increase economic activity and productivity.

    “I hope it’s the case – through the tax [white paper] discussion paper process – that [it’s accepted that] the idea of reducing company tax will actually improve capital stock and have flow-on benefits.”

    He said the government was still wanting to ensure that multinationals paid their fair share of taxes, and was working through the OECD process to stop companies shifting profits to no-tax or low-tax nations.

    He said this often occurred if there were “intangibles” such as intellectual property, as it was hard to determine where that value was created. “When you are buying something that’s intangible-heavy, it’s more contestable where the value sits,” he said.

    But with tangibles, such as mining resources, it was easy to determine, as value was created when it was digged out of the ground. This suggests Mr Heferen disagrees with the business lobby line that if the OECD plan against profit shifting succeeds, Australia will lose out on mining revenue.

    Companies such as Microsoft, in submissions to the federal inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, have admitted using hubs in low-tax nations such as Singapore. The practice, which is currently legal under international tax rules, has come under fire as world governments hunt for more revenue from companies making billions in sales and big profits.

    Mr Heferen said large businesses disclosing the taxes they pay was a good thing.

    He also dismissed recent analysis carried out by the Australia Institute that said tax projections in the report indicated that by 2055 someone on the equivalent of $300,000 would be paying only 32.4 per cent of their income in tax, down from 37.7 per cent in 2021.

    The analysis said the tax cut, expressed in present dollars, would be worth $15,900. A low earner would receive a lower tax cut of about $4500.

    “That analysis is wrong,” Mr Heferen said, adding it had made “simplified” assumptions to derive those figures.

    Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson, also speaking at the conference, said for the first time the Intergenerational Report noted issues around bracket creep and superannuation.

    But he was worried that the current government “lacked the political will” to tackle tax reform, including the need to stop superannuation concessions to the rich, and increase the GST.

    Both Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have ruled out increasing GST or broadening the base in the first term. Mr Hockey has also signalled there’s limited scope to deliver personal tax cuts, although they are desirable.

    Mr Richardson said because of the political limits, “I don’t expect the national debate on tax to be a great one”.

    He said while taxing royalties made by miners was a “rotten tax”, those making super profits should still be taxed.

    Everybody had been “spooked” to do something because of the mining tax debacle under the former Labor government.

    “That does not mean you cannot do better,” Mr Richardson said. “Don’t be scared of tax reform. You can do this better.”

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.