Tony Abbott left grinning as Malcolm Turnbull flounders

COMMENT
SEPTEMBER 4 2016 – 12:15AM
Adam Gartrell
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Tony Abbott’s grin said it all. When the former prime minister left Parliament House after Thursday’s embarrassing lower house debaclehe looked perilously close to schadenfreude overdose.

Abbott’s government was an incompetent mess from top to bottom; a circus that lurched from one self-inflicted crisis to another until it finally tore itself apart. But at least it never lost a vote in the house.

Abbott will never get the vindication he truly wants – he’ll never reclaim the top job – but he’s already getting the next best thing: a front row seat to watch as the man who vanquished him falls apart.

Malcolm Turnbull had one job last week: to prove to Australians that his “solid working majority” was real.

He stuffed it up big time.

And in typical Turnbull style he blamed everyone but himself.

Bill Shorten reneged on his promise to be a constructive opposition leader in favour of “schoolboy tricks”; frontbenchers Peter Dutton, Christian Porter and Michael Keenan were guilty of “complacency” for leaving Parliament early; the government whips clearly didn’t crack the whip hard enough; the media was making a mountain out of a meaningless, procedural molehill.

It was all very reminiscent of his graceless election night speech. Shorten was a big liar; Labor sent out tricky text messages; the Australian people were too dumb to see through the Mediscare campaign.

Tony Abbott was on the verge of schadenfreude overdose after question time.
Tony Abbott was on the verge of schadenfreude overdose after question time. Photo: Andrew Meares

The result had nothing to do with his dull and lacklustre campaign. Or his uninspiring and threadbare agenda. Or the previous nine months of backflips, thought bubbles, scandals and sellouts. It wasn’t until days later he finally shouldered some of the responsibility for the disaster.

But make no mistake, here too the buck stops with Turnbull. He’s at the top of a government that was careless and sloppy.

Malcolm Turnbull has one job to prove last week. He stuffed it up big time.
Malcolm Turnbull has one job to prove last week. He stuffed it up big time.  Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Whenever Gillard’s Parliament descended into farce – and it certainly did from time to time – Abbott didn’t blame whips or frontbenchers or backbenchers or anyone else. It was all Gillard’s fault, all the time.

The PM’s authority – already at its lowest ebb after July’s humiliating result – has taken another knock. Labor’s line – “If you can’t run the Parliament you can’t run the country” – is both accurate and effective.

Bill Shorten is now following Abbott's playbook.
Bill Shorten is now following Abbott’s playbook.  Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

And Turnbull can’t blame Abbott for this stuff-up, as Gillard could so often blame Kevin Rudd.

Except in that Shorten is now following Abbott’s playbook. From Abbott, Labor learnt all it needs to know about how to destabilise a weak government and prime minister. Abbott helped Labor sharpen and hone its parliamentary tactics. Labor is good at this stuff because up against Abbott, it had to be.

The PM can't blame Tony Abbott for this stuff-up.
The PM can’t blame Tony Abbott for this stuff-up.  Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Turnbull called last week’s debacle a “wake-up call”. But what sort of government needs a wake-up call three days into a new Parliament after coming within a whisker of losing power? If July 2 didn’t wake them up, nothing will.

No, the Australian people don’t care about Parliamentary procedure. But they know chaos when they see it.

They’ve seen a lot of it, after all.

And so now the tone is set. Turnbull and his team wanted the first week to be all about economic management and budget repair, with a side serving of union-bashing. They introduced 26 bills in a bid to reassure Australians that they have a plan and they’re executing on it.

(Just what they plan to do once these 26 bills are passed – or perhaps more likely stalled in the Senate – remains something of a mystery. Like I said: uninspiring and threadbare agenda.)

Instead, the first week raised serious questions about Turnbull’s competence and his government’s longevity.

So what now?

Turnbull has to work twice as hard to convince us he knows what he’s doing. If he gets stuck in the same cycle of endless stuff-ups that ensnared both Gillard and Abbott, he’s finished.

One way or another, leaders who lose authority lose their jobs. If his party doesn’t tear him down, the voters will.

In the short-term Turnbull has a couple of things going his way that could help him regroup.

First, Parliament’s barely sitting; it will convene for just four of the next 35 days. So not much opportunity for more stuff-ups.

Second, it’s summit season. For the next couple of months Turnbull will spend a great deal of time outside of the domestic fray, looking important and prime ministerial on the world stage.

The benefits of such trips often prove ephemeral – just ask Julia Gillard – but they can be a useful circuit-breaker when things are going awry.

Of course his number one asset – apart perhaps from that $50 million harbourside mansion – remains that he has no obvious internal challenger, unless Kevin Andrews finally decides to have his tilt.

But that won’t necessarily last.

Nature abhors a vacuum and politics abhors a power vacuum. If Turnbull can’t start providing leadership someone else will.

Source : The Canberra Times

Liberal voters give tick of approval to Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership takeover

14 minutes ago

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull takes a selfie at the Taste Orange Food and Wine festival at Watsons Bay, Sydney. Picture: LYNDON MECHIELSEN

Contrary to popular opinion that Mr Abbott was unpopular with women voters, it was men (46.7 per cent) rather than women (41.8 per cent) who were more likely to vote for the Coalition as a result of the ascension of Mr Turnbull.

University of Tasmania political scientist Richard Eccleston said Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership had disappointed many but he was still significantly more popular than Mr Abbott.

“He also remains more popular than Bill Shorten,” Prof Eccleston said.

“The Three Amigos [Liberal MPs Eric Hutchinson, Andrew Nikolic and Brett Whiteley] may have supported Mr Abbott but their political careers are much better off because of the change in leadership.”

While six Tasmanian Liberal members of parliament supported Mr Abbott in the September spill, Devonport-based Senator Richard Colbeck opted for Mr Turnbull.

Last month Senator Colbeck was dropped to the No. 5 five spot on the Senate ticket as the conservative forces organised by Tasmanian party powerbroker and strong Tony Abbott supporter Senator Eric Abetz retained control of the Tasmanian division.

 

Source : The Mercury

Peta Credlin questions campaign tactics of ‘Mr Harbourside Mansion’ Malcolm Turnbull

May 12 2016 – 6:55PM

Mark Kenny

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Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, has rounded on Malcolm Turnbull’s campaign team for appearing elitist after cancelling a planned street walk in Western Sydney on Wednesday following questions over last year’s leadership change.

In a damning assessment, Ms Credlin, who lost her job along with Mr Abbott in the September coup that installed Mr Turnbull as Prime Minister, poured scorn on the tactical retreat. Speaking on Sky News, she said that the decision to abandon a walk through of a shopping precinct with Lindsay backbencher Fiona Scott sent a bad message to voters.

“I was surprised that they were flat-footed,” said Ms Credlin of the Turnbull campaign team.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Liberal candidate Fiona Scott in Sydney on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Liberal candidate Fiona Scott in Sydney on Wednesday.  
Photo: Andrew Meares

“If it’s known that you were going to do a street walk in Penrith, the last thing you want to do, ‘Mr Harbour-side Mansion’, is look like you don’t know and you’re not welcome in Western Sydney.”

The planned campaign stroll was summarily scratched from Mr Turnbull’s itinerary after journalists pressed Ms Scott on whether she had switched her support from Mr Abbott to Mr Turnbull in the September 14 leadership ballot.

Ms Scott refused to say, but the belief that she had abandoned the former prime minister has taken hold in sections of the Liberal Party, touching off a minor civil war with hostile emails flying and campaign resources diverted to neighbouring seats by party officials still loyal to Mr Abbott.

For his part, Mr Abbott did a positive thing for party unity on Thursday telling his local paper that he fully backed the government’s superannuation changes despite once branding similar moves a “senior’s tax”.

Peta Credlin with Tony Abbott in 2012.
Peta Credlin with Tony Abbott in 2012. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Ms Credlin said the campaign team should have known the questions over the leadership were coming and either not gone to Lindsay, or stuck to the schedule.

“I would’ve thought, particularly with the Prime Minister there, that they might have been a bit more agile, a bit more nimble … if she’s not pump-primed and ready to go with an answer they should have just moved that visit because that’s the key of a campaign team,” she said.

Asked if the Prime Minister should have cancelled the street walk, Ms Credlin, credited as the tactical authority of Mr Abbott’s tightly scripted and effective 2010 and 2013 election campaigns, was definitive.

“I wouldn’t have cancelled, I wouldn’t have cancelled,” she said.

I would’ve thought, particularly with the Prime Minister there that they might have been a bit more agile, a bit more nimble.

Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin

Ms Credlin cited a confrontation between Mr Turnbull and a single mother in Melbourne on Thursday as an example of what can happen on street walks, but said while getting a hostile reaction from a voter was inevitable at some point, it was how the leader responded that mattered most.

Also on the Sky panel with Ms Credlin was former NSW Labor premier Kristina Keneally, who delivered some tough advice to her own side, telling Labor candidates not backing their party’s policy on boat turn-backs that they were out of line.

“I do think it is incredibly indulgent for some candidates to feel that in an election campaign, you can just freely speak your mind, never mind what the party policy is,” Ms Keneally said.

“If it is a conscience issue then I would have thought they should have examined their consciences before they accepted party endorsement.

“For others who are not going to win your seat, you are only undermining the party’s chances of getting elected to government by indulging in this kind of run-at-the-mouth commentary on what is a white-hot issue in an election campaign.”

Campaigning in Moorabbin in Melbourne’s south-east suburbs, Mr Turnbull was confronted by Melinda, a single mother who was worried about circumstances for her sons.

“The cost of school is going up and up and up and yet we’re not getting any more money and now you’re going to take the family tax benefits away. It’s not just single mums you’re hurting,” she said.

 

Source : Canberra Times

Coalition’s $840 million interns plan illegal: lawyers says

May 11 2016 – 10:34PM

Mark Kenny

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A centrepiece of Malcolm Turnbull’s re-election platform, the budget’s PaTH interns program, breaches current minimum wage standards and would require changes that would either blow out its cost or see it stalled in a hostile Senate, according to employment law experts commissioned by the ACTU.

Legal advice sought by the peak union body suggests the PaTH program, (Prepare, Trial, Hire) which proposes to pay under 25-year-old jobseekers a $200-a-fortnight top-up over and above the dole, would leave vulnerable interns languishing below the legally enforceable minimum wage and potentially able to sue for recovery of unpaid wages.

Currently a single childless jobseeker on Newstart gets $263 a week, which would rise to just $364 a week despite 25 hours of work per week.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's $840 million PaTH interns program is a centrepiece of his re-election platform.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $840 million PaTH interns program is a centrepiece of his re-election platform. Photo: Andrew Meares

The $840 million program forms a central plank of the Turnbull government’s jobs and growth package.It features generous $1000 incentive payments to employers in the intern phase and $10,000 employer payments in the hire phase, raising concerns of a perverse incentive for employers to churn through interns.

But if the legal advice is correct, the program is not legally sound in its current form and would necessitate changes to the Fair Work Act, or have its subsidies increased to meet minimum wage rates, adding hundreds of millions to its cost.

While concerns of exploitation and systemic abuse have been raised by unions and the group Interns Australia, the advice from the firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman is the first authoritative argument that it is technically illegal.

The ACTU argues it “would require new legislation to legalise a second-class category of $4-per-hour workers and remove those employees’ basic rights under the Fair Work Act”.

Illustration: Ron Tandberg
Illustration: Ron Tandberg  

It says fixing the problem to bring interns’s pay up to the legal minimum would “blow out” the cost of the PaTH program by $478 million.

“The government’s plan is either very badly designed and underfunded, or very well designed to exploit Australian workers and strip them of their legal rights and pay,” said ACTU president Ged Kearney.

“Not since the 1990s has it been legal to pay workers as little as $4 per hour. This policy takes employment standards in this country back almost 30 years and has the potential to drag down wages and conditions for all workers – not just those in lower-paid jobs.

“For a government to change the law to allow big companies to pay workers $4 an hour, while stripping them of protections and entitlements under the Fair Work Act is one of the heaviest betrayals of Australian workers since WorkChoices.”

Legal academic Andrew Stewart, who is Adelaide University’s John Bray Professor of Law, said it appeared there were problems with the hasty design of the scheme.

“It certainly appears that important details had not been worked out because this was announced last Tuesday with some information but nothing about safeguards and nothing about the operation of the Fair Work Act; nothing about the relationship to the National Work Experience Program and since then what we’ve seen is a drip-feed of announcements by a combination of minister and department officials in Senate Estimates, which, to me, suggest that the government has been sorting out details on the run,” he said.

Professor Stewart said the difficulties arose because of ambiguities in the legal status of the relationship between intern and the firm – with the added complication of other parties such as the government and the job service provider. He said unlike the National Work Experience Program, in which people participated in purely voluntary work without pay, the PaTH scheme appeared to create an employment contract.

And that brings with it minimum standards in wages, safeguards, and insurance. However, he said there was little supporting detail on these areas at the time of release.

Defending the scheme last week after its budget day unveiling, Mr Turnbull rounded on Labor and unions for standing in the way of a chance to “change a life” by exposing a young person who had never worked, to the experience needed to get a job.

“You take a young person who is unemployed, who is perhaps unemployable, and you make them employable you change a whole life … the life of their partner, the life of their children,” he said

Questioned on the aspects of the program, Department of Employment secretary Rernee Leon had said employers would be kicked out of the scheme if they abused it.

“If an employer is making a habit of churning people through subsidised placements we would stop referring to them,” she stated.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Coalition’s $840 million interns plan illegal: lawyers

May 11, 2016 – 10:34PM

Mark Kenny

Chief political correspondent

EXCLUSIVE

alt text for flag

A centrepiece of Malcolm Turnbull’s re-election platform, the budget’s PaTH interns program, breaches current minimum wage standards and would require changes that would either blow out its cost or see it stalled in a hostile Senate, according to employment law experts commissioned by the ACTU.

Legal advice sought by the peak union body suggests the PaTH program, (Prepare, Trial, Hire) which proposes to pay under 25-year-old jobseekers a $200-a-fortnight top-up over and above the dole, would leave vulnerable interns languishing below the legally enforceable minimum wage and potentially able to sue for recovery of unpaid wages.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's $840 million PaTH interns program is a centrepiece of his re-election platform.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $840 million PaTH interns program is a centrepiece of his re-election platform. Photo: Andrew Meares

Currently a single childless jobseeker on Newstart gets $263 a week, which would rise to just $364 a week despite 25 hours of work per week.

The $840 million program forms a central plank of the Turnbull government’s jobs and growth package.It features generous $1000 incentive payments to employers in the intern phase and $10,000 employer payments in the hire phase, raising concerns of a perverse incentive for employers to churn through interns.

But if the legal advice is correct, the program is not legally sound in its current form and would necessitate changes to the Fair Work Act, or have its subsidies increased to meet minimum wage rates, adding hundreds of millions to its cost.

Illustration: Ron Tandberg

Illustration: Ron Tandberg

While concerns of exploitation and systemic abuse have been raised by unions and the group Interns Australia, the advice from the firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman is the first authoritative argument that it is technically illegal.

The ACTU argues it “would require new legislation to legalise a second-class category of $4-per-hour workers and remove those employees’ basic rights under the Fair Work Act”.

It says fixing the problem to bring interns’s pay up to the legal minimum would “blow out” the cost of the PaTH program by $478 million.

“The government’s plan is either very badly designed and underfunded, or very well designed to exploit Australian workers and strip them of their legal rights and pay,” said ACTU president Ged Kearney.

“Not since the 1990s has it been legal to pay workers as little as $4 per hour. This policy takes employment standards in this country back almost 30 years and has the potential to drag down wages and conditions for all workers – not just those in lower-paid jobs.

“For a government to change the law to allow big companies to pay workers $4 an hour, while stripping them of protections and entitlements under the Fair Work Act is one of the heaviest betrayals of Australian workers since WorkChoices.”

Legal academic Andrew Stewart, who is Adelaide University’s John Bray Professor of Law, said it appeared there were problems with the hasty design of the scheme.

“It certainly appears that important details had not been worked out because this was announced last Tuesday with some information but nothing about safeguards and nothing about the operation of the Fair Work Act; nothing about the relationship to the National Work Experience Program and since then what we’ve seen is a drip-feed of announcements by a combination of minister and department officials in Senate Estimates, which, to me, suggest that the government has been sorting out details on the run,” he said.

Professor Stewart said the difficulties arose because of ambiguities in the legal status of the relationship between intern and the firm – with the added complication of other parties such as the government and the job service provider. He said unlike the National Work Experience Program, in which people participated in purely voluntary work without pay, the PaTH scheme appeared to create an employment contract.

And that brings with it minimum standards in wages, safeguards, and insurance. However, he said there was little supporting detail on these areas at the time of release.

Defending the scheme last week after its budget day unveiling, Mr Turnbull rounded on Labor and unions for standing in the way of a chance to “change a life” by exposing a young person who had never worked, to the experience needed to get a job.

“You take a young person who is unemployed, who is perhaps unemployable, and you make them employable you change a whole life … the life of their partner, the life of their children,” he said

Questioned on the aspects of the program, Department of Employment secretary Rernee Leon had said employers would be kicked out of the scheme if they abused it.

“If an employer is making a habit of churning people through subsidised placements we would stop referring to them,” she stated.

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Union calls off planned airport strikes

SmartGatelocations1

 

The union representing public sector workers has cancelled planned strikes at Australia’s major airports following a request from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources were due to commence rolling stoppages across Australia during the Easter long weekend.

Staff at Adelaide, Cairns, Darwin, Perth and Townsville airports had already commenced industrial action on Wednesday, with workers on strike over a long-running dispute on a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

CPSU members were due to walk off the job at Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney airports for 24 hours on Thursday.

However, CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said called off the strike.

“The decision has been made after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in response to the terrorist attacks overnight in Brussels, called on union members in Immigration and Border Force officers not to strike tomorrow,” the CPSU said on its website on Wednesday morning.

The terrorist attacks in Brussels overnight, with bombs exploding at Brussels Airport and at a train station in the city, have killed at least 31 people and injured hundreds more.

Brussels Airport has been closed to commercial flights, with only empty ferry flights flying to the Belgium capital, according to FlightRadar 24.

Airlines have offered passengers booked to travel to or from Brussels the option of switching flights without penalty or obtaining refunds.

Australian Airports Association said in a statement its members were consulting closely with government regulators and intelligence agencies to ensure security measures at airports were appropriate given the “evolving threat environment”.

“We have consulted with the relevant agencies since the tragic bombing at Brussels Airport and at this stage, as confirmed by the Prime Minister, there is no proposed increase to the security threat level and no additional security measures have been proposed at Australia’s airports,” the AAA said.

“The government, airports and airlines have for some time worked on contingency plans that can be effected quickly should the security threat level increase as a result of clear intelligence from government agencies.

“A strong, visible AFP presence at major airports will continue to support the multi-layered security measures in place to help mitigate threats.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia had a strong security system.

“You cannot guarantee that there will be no terrorist incident,” Turnbull told ABC News.

“But I can assure Australians that our security system, our border protection, our domestic security arrangements, are much stronger than they are in Europe where regrettably they allowed security to slip.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs’ Smart Traveller website has asked Australians to reconsider any travel to Belgium following the attacks.

“We recommend you reconsider your need to travel to Belgium at this time,” the website says.

“Australians in Belgium should remain attentive to their surroundings, avoid affected areas and follow the instructions of local authorities, including staying where they are and remaining indoors.”

Attorney-General George Brandis said Australia’s terror alert level was, for now, remaining at “probable”.

“These alert levels are kept under review at all times and in light of an event of this kind obviously they, the officials who make these judgements will turn their mind to this question,” Brandis told ABC Radio’s AM program.

“But at the moment the Australian terror alert level remains at probable, which is where it has been since September of 2014.”

 

Australian Aviation

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull opens Central Coast Mariners’ Centre of Excellence

Centre of Excellence opening

The Central Coast Mariners have officially unveiled their new Centre of Excellence, with a number of dignitaries on hand to mark the historic occasion.

Located on the corner of Wyong Road and Bryant Drive at Tuggerah, the Centre of Excellence was today opened by Australia’s Prime Minister the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP alongside Mrs. Karen McNamara MP, Mariners Executive Vice Chairman Peter Storrie and CEO Shaun Mielekamp.

The six-storey structure includes two levels of medical suites; four stories of leased office space (including CCM HQ); 140 additional car spaces and a café.

An exciting element to the new office structure is ‘Mariners Medical’ which comprises the entire bottom floor of the six-storey office structure. The Mariners Medical centre that includes; GP services; skin cancer clinic; physiotherapy; pathology and other specialists services is welcoming new patients who can book 24 hours a day via their website.

With the official opening complete, this paves the way to commence construction of stages three, four and five that include (but are not limited to):

  • Public gym and function rooms
  • Indoor sports facility with a spectators viewing deck
  • 80-room hotel and 80 serviced apartments
  • Outdoor entertainment precinct and Mariners Pub
  • Two additional training pitches accompanied by a 1200 seat stadium
  • Tennis courts
  • Petrol station
  • Childcare facilities

Of course the Central Coast Mariners football and back office departments will benefit from state of the art facilities but the ultimate aim is to develop a precinct that will host international and domestic sporting teams.

Storrie paid credit to Mike Charlesworth and elaborated on how the growth of the Centre of Excellence will positively contribute to the growth of the football club.

“Although he is not here, I know that Mike Charlesworth is very proud to see his vision come to life. It was always his ambition to ensure that this development provided the financial support for the long-term growth of the football club,” Storrie said.

Mielekamp proudly announced that the Yellow & Navy are on track to post a profit at the completion of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 Season and outlined the positive impact that the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence will have on the Mariners Football Club.

“The Mariners Centre of Excellence has been a vision for this club since our inception 11 years ago and now through the determination and confidence shown by our owner Mike Charlesworth we are all here today to see the crucial 2nd phase launched,” Mielekamp said.

“The Centre of Excellence Masterplan is also unveiling here today and showcases the potential of this complex to become one of the most iconic and unparalleled sporting facilities in NSW.

“Our goal at the Central Coast Mariners is to become the most innovative, entertaining and community minded sports brand in Australia. This is no easy feat and we are well on our way to achieving this goal.

“It is with tremendous pride that I can officially announce that the Central Coast Mariners Football Club will definitely post a profit in our 2015/16 season which is a truly amazing achievement when considering where we were just 12 months ago.

“I must take this opportunity to pay particular credit to Executive Vice Chairman Peter Storrie, Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Duncan and Head Coach Tony Walmsley for making the tough decisions and performing with clarity of purpose within the resources available to ensure that this season is a profitable one and sets the platform for future success,” Mielekamp said.

Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia congratulated the Central Coast Mariners on the opening of the Centre of Excellence.

“Shaun & Peter, congratulations to you, this is a truly outstanding development,” Mr Turnbull said.

“I just want to say how thrilled I am to be here on the Central Coast and see the development of this fantastic precinct. Shaun believe me, the innovation you’re showing here today is the spirit of innovation that ensures that we transition from an economy that’s been fuelled by a mining and construction boom to one that’s more diverse, more technologically sophisticated, more productive and above all, more agile.

“You need to be innovative, you need to do things differently, you need to think outside of the square and that is what Shaun and his team have done here. You’ve developed here in this precinct, a world-class-sporting centre.

“This type of entrepreneurship, investment and innovation is what will secure our prosperity in the 21st century,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mrs. Karen McNamara MP celebrated the occasion as a great moment for the Central Coast.

“To see what the Mariners and their business partners have created is fantastic,” McNamara said. “This is a great boost for the Central Coast, what we are seeing here today is when the community and a great community club come together,” McNamara said.

Football Federation Australia

Labor demands Malcolm Turnbull investigate leaking of Jamie Briggs’ bar photo

January 5, 2016 – 10:19AM

Fergus Hunter

Reporter

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Labor is demanding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launch an investigation into the leaking of a photograph of the public servant who complained about the behaviour of former minister Jamie Briggs.

Acting Opposition Leader Penny Wong on Tuesday called Mr Turnbull’s response to the growing controversy a “disappointing display of weakness” from a man with a record of respecting women.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged the media and his own MPs to respect the privacy of the public servant who raised concerns about the behaviour of Jamie Briggs.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged the media and his own MPs to respect the privacy of the public servant who raised concerns about the behaviour of Jamie Briggs.

“Isn’t the most important issue in this who provided the photo to the media outlet?” Senator Wong told ABC radio.

“Mr Briggs has conceded that he sent this photograph to his colleagues. He denies providing it to The Australian so one of his colleagues must have.

“I think the more important question for Mr Turnbull is what action is he taking as the leader of the party and the Prime Minister to find out who received this photo and who provided it to the media.”

Dumped cities minister Jamie Briggs.

Dumped cities minister Jamie Briggs. Photo: Andrew Meares

Four days after Mr Briggs resigned for inappropriate behaviour towards the female diplomat, a pixelated photograph of her was published in weekend newspapers, alongside private text messages to Mr Briggs’ chief of staff Stuart Eaton and her age and job description.

The image shows the embassy official, a woman in her 20s who had dined with Mr Briggs and then joined him in a bar afterwards, posing with Mr Eaton. The picture was taken on Mr Briggs’ phone. He has said he didn’t leak it but admitted he had “sent it to a few people prior to the complaint and following”.

The leaking of the photo has been seen as an attempt to discredit the woman.

On Monday, Mr Turnbull rebuked any MP who leaked against the public servant.

“Publishing the identity of a complainant in a case like this not only infringes on their privacy, it serves actively to discourage other women who are concerned about the conduct of a superior from raising a complaint in the future,” he said.

“I urge all parties to respect the public servant’s privacy.”

Fairfax Media understands the Prime Minister was angered by the leaking and publication of the photo and had personally called a senior News Corp executive asking him not to publish.

Mr Turnbull said that from the outset he had “sought to ensure the privacy of the public servant concerned has been protected”. The woman had made it clear she wanted to remain anonymous, it is understood.

Senator Wong said that if Mr Turnbull was concerned about this he should “be undertaking the appropriate investigation and taking appropriate action against whichever Coalition MP or senator provided that photograph to the media”.

“He is right to be concerned about the complainant’s privacy being compromised in this way,” she said.

Michael Tull, the assistant national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, has called the leak a “gross breach of privacy” and said if it had come from a public sector employee “that person would be facing serious repercussions”.

“People should feel safe to raise their concerns without this kind of blowback,” he said.

– with David Wroe

Source : Canberra Times