Tax data reveals low income growth in western Victoria

HAMILTON’S income growth is in the bottom 15 per cent of Victorian postcodes and the immediate area has lost hundreds of net taxpayers over 10 years.

Australian Tax Office data shows that the Hamilton 3300 postcode recorded an almost 44.8 per cent increase in mean taxable income between 2003/04 and 2013/14.

That sounds impressive but the figures reveal that Hamilton was surpassed in income growth by almost 490 of the 573 Victoria postcodes tracked in the ATO data.

The top 15 per cent of postcodes saw their taxable income grow by between 68 and 123 per cent

The Hamilton postcode also recorded an 8.46 per cent decline in the number of people filing a return with net payable tax in 2013/14 compared with ten years earlier, when 6535 local people paid tax.



NBN is on its way

The Hamilton Spectator – October 20, 2015

THE National Broadband Network will be coming to thousands of local homes from early 2017 as part of the infrastructure project’s new three-year plan.

The plan, which was released on Friday, states that construction of wired NBN internet services for 4900 Hamilton premises will begin in the first quarter of 2017, along with 700 premises in Coleraine.

Casterton will see 900 premises begin to be connected from the second half of 2017. All three towns will get the NBN through the ‘Fibre-to-the-Node’ (FTTN) type of connection, which involves running optic fibre cable to each street and then using the existing copper phone lines to deliver
services to each household.

NBNCo’s Victoria spokesperson told The Spectator that the company expected local FTTN projects would be completed in “under a year, in most circumstances” once construction had begun.

FTTN was introduced by the incoming Coalition Government in 2013 as a
replacement for Labor’s original plan to run optic fibre directly to each household.

Then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the alternative technology would be cheaper and faster to roll out across the nation, but has faced claims that the decades-old copper network may
struggle to cope.

According to the report, construction has also begun on Penshurst’s fixed wireless NBN service, which will broadcast 4G-style internet to rooftop antennas.

Fixed wireless should be rolled out to 270 premises around Penshurst within the next 12 months, and is already available at nine locations within about 40 minute’s drive of Hamilton.

More remote users should also benefit from the launch of the new NBN satellite service, which will replace the notoriously slow interim satellite service that is almost unusable for many agricultural subscribers.

Wannon MP Dan Tehan said the new roll-out plan was “is a huge step forward” and “demonstrates the Coalition’s commitment to rural and regional Australia in closing the digital divide”.

“The Coalition Government understands that internet access is important for our community and will transform education, health care and other critical online services,” he said.

“The Coalition Government recognises that consumers want fast broadband as soon as possible. All services over the NBN will give Wannon businesses, agricultural producers and consumers a brighter future with the potential to be more efficient and productive.

“Families will also benefit from the vastly higher bandwidth available, delivering greater access and choices for educational resources for homework, study and entertainment.”

FTTN promises speeds up to four times faster than what is currently offered by the fastest ADSL2+ connections in Hamilton’s CBD.

Training course scam net could include our region

September 19, 2015

VOCATIONAL training promoters have been going door-to-door offering courses to vulnerable people in Warrnambool and Ballarat, leaving them deep in debt, and they may have also targeted Hamilton and Coleraine.

The Victorian Department of Education and Training says some training colleges are engaged in an “abuse” of a program that allows people to pay for their education with a Federal Government loan.

The Age newspaper this week published an investigation into training ‘brokers’ and door-to-door salesmen that were allegedly targeting disadvantaged people in country Victoria with promises of a better life through vocational courses.

Huge commissions are being offered to salesmen because the training college gets thousands of dollars in government-supplied fees upfront when a ‘student’ signs up.

A broker for a Melbourne-based training college allegedly told salesmen that they should target Housing Commission flats and other areas where residents would have no hope of ever repaying their debt the government under the FEE-HELP scheme.

Due to the huge profit margins for a successful sign-up, salesmen are offering ‘free’ laptops or iPad tablet computers to lure people into the deal.

This is despite a Federal Government ban on sign-up gifts that came into effect earlier this year.

Some new ‘students’ are being left with debts of up to $18,000 for training courses that they will have great difficulty in completing.

A Victorian Department of Education spokeswoman said “we are aware of activities where brokers have marketed VET FEE-HELP loans for training courses to people in Warrnambool”.

“The Department is aware of similar incidents in Ballarat but not in any other western Victorian communities. We have had complaints also in other regional communities over the past 12 months.

“These complaints have been referred to the national regulator, ASQA, and to the Federal Government.

“The Victorian Government has raised repeated concerns with the Federal Government about abuse of VET FEE-HELP loans and marketing practices by some providers.”

A couple from Euroa, who both have intellectual disabilities and struggle with reading and writing, told The Age that they were enrolled in vocational courses by a door-to-door salesman.

They claim the salesman coached them through the pre-enrolment literacy and numeracy tests.

a 'Scam Alert' uploaded to Wannon MP Dan Tehan's website on September 10
a ‘Scam Alert’ uploaded to Wannon MP Dan Tehan’s website on September 10

There is some evidence to suggest that the training course salesmen have targeted areas in south-west and western Victoria beyond the regional population centres.

One of The Spectator’s Facebook followers from Hamilton said she was targeted by a similar training course scam except that it took place over the phone.

On September 10 Wannon MP Dan Tehan posted a ‘Scam Alert’ on his website, writing that he had been “advised of a scam involving VET Fee Help Courses, operating particularly in the Coleraine area”.

“I have heard from a number of residents in Wannon that individuals are driving door to door taking personal information from people as part of a fake enrolment process under the guise of getting a free laptop. Personal information they are seeking includes your Driver’s Licence, Medicare card and your Tax File Number.

“If you encounter anyone who claims to be from a VET FEE HELP Course or Education provider, please do not provide them with any of your personal information or money. I would also encourage you to report any contact with the offenders to your local police.”

The Spectator asked Mr Tehan if this website post was connected to alleged rorts investigated by The Age.

Mr Tehan did not answer directly but highlighted previous federal regulation of training course salesmen and said greater penalties and restrictions would come into force next year.

“Since we came to government we have been working to ensure the system operates with greater security for students and less opportunity for manipulation,” Mr Tehan said.

“This has included the banning of inducements, banning course withdrawal fees, banning misleading statements around free courses, and providing greater compliance structures that include penalties for brokers and providers.

“In addition to the restrictions already being put in place, we will be banning the levying of the full debt load for courses in one hit and have the power to remit debt and recoup costs from providers with severe penalties from January 1, 2016.”

Hamilton Police Sergeant Paul Stanhope told The Spectator that no complaints had been received in the last two months concerning door-to-door training salesmen.

Put ‘bombing’ question to Defence Minister: Tehan

An RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet F/A-18A Hornet in the skies over Iraq. Photo: Department of Defence
An RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet F/A-18A Hornet in the skies over Iraq. Photo: Department of Defence

September 10, 2015

WANNON MP Dan Tehan has refused to comment directly on a United States Military Central Command report that suggested the Royal Australian Air Force may have bombed a civilian area in Iraq last year.

Mr Tehan did say that avoiding civilian casualties would be “a key consideration” if Australia decided to expand its campaign of airstrikes against terrorist group ISIS from Iraq into Syria.

Last week the website, in conjunction with the ABC, published a US CENTCOM report into suspected civilian causalities in Iraq and Syria caused by nations participating in the US-led bombing of ISIS.

The report revealed that the US and its allies had internally investigated dozens of events involving at least 325 possible civilian deaths from airstrikes.

The report covered the period from August 2014 to May 2015, during which 16,193 sorties were flown and bombs, cannons or missiles were used on 3837 of those missions.

According to the report, on December 21 last year “two unknown individuals may have been wounded as a result of a deliberate strike conducted by the Australians on a suspected weapons factory in Fallujah”.

“Approximately 10 minutes after the last weapon impact, a probable female and probable child were observed on FMV (Full Motion Video, likely filmed by drone or fighter jet) to walk through the target area.

“A probable male arrived and carried the child to a motorcycle and transported him to the Fallujah hospital.

“The female walked to the median strip on the road and lay down, and was not observed any further.”

The “allegation” was listed as “cleared” in the report and the findings were passed on to an Australian liaison officer.

“Assessed to be insufficient information to determine CIVCAS (civilian casualties),” the report stated.

“The lack of urgency and the fact that the child walked normally suggest his injuries were not life threatening.

“There was no Iraqi allegation of CIVCAS and CAOC (Combined Air and Space Operations Center, US Air Force base, Qatar) recommends that there is insufficient information to warrant further inquiry”

The report also noted that the Australian Defence Force had also investigated the incident and “reached a similar conclusion”.

During a press conference on Friday, Mr Tehan said he was “not aware of that report”.

“It would be better if that question was directed to the Defence Minister,” he said.

Mr Tehan was asked if the Australian Government would consider the risk of civilian casualties if the RAAF started airstrikes in Syria.

“That is always a key consideration that any government considers when it makes decision as to whether it should join military action in
any country,” he said.

“That aspect, the rules of engagement, is always something that is taken into consideration.”

Mr Tehan has been at the forefront of a recent push for Australia to expand its anti-ISIS air campaign to Syria on the grounds that the international border was providing a safe haven for terrorists.

Australia is already bombing ISIS in Iraq at the request of that nation’s government, and bombing Syria would present additional legal issues.

Mr Tehan was asked if there should be more transparency in regard to civilian casualties caused by the US-led Coalition’s bombing of Iraq and Syria.

“I think there is transparency,” Mr Tehan said.

“Those that we are fighting are the ones who do not like transparency; they do not like democratic principles. They are the ones that are acting in ways that, frankly, beggar belief.

“The current situation in Syria, where you have nine million people internally displaced, is the greatest humanitarian crises we have seen in the word, and in my personal view, it is a very strong reason as to why we need to act in Syria and why we need the international community to be doing more.”

The US report into suspected civilian causalities was originally designated ‘SECRET’ and was on restricted release to governments of ‘Five Eyes’ nations, which includes Australia.

The report was subsequently declassified and released to a US journalist under Freedom of Information laws.

The Australian Defence Force said in a statement to the ABC that a routine ‘battle damage assessment’ was conducted following the airstrike.

“The assessment was consistent with the reports detailed in the Iraq/Syria CIVCAS Allegation tracker released by US Central Command under FOI legislation,” the statement read.

“As there were no reports or claims of any casualties from Australian airstrikes, no further action was undertaken.”

Data retention is no threat to terrorists



The Hamilton Spectator – April 03, 2015

THE Mandatory Data Retention scheme that was passed by both houses of Australia’s Parliament last week represents the unholy trinity of bad legislation: rushed debate, unclear costs and no real solutions.


To make things clear, I am not a libertarian or anarchistic extremist who is calling for the end of all government surveillance.

Targeted surveillance has saved lives and will continue to save lives; it should be available to police and intelligence agencies though a system that is fast and flexible, but has appropriate safeguards and accountability.

On the other hand, retaining communications metadata on 23 million Australians is a form of mass surveillance that is unreasonable, expensive and ineffective.

The Government says it only wants access to the ‘envelope’ not the ‘letter’ inside, to use a 19th century analogy that has been widely employed by MPs.

Political strategy

The thin, artificial line between digital ‘envelopes’ and ‘letters’, applied to almost every form of modern communication, is a political strategy to make this mass surveillance more palatable to the general public.

As US intelligence service whistleblower Edward Snowden has stated, metadata is the most valuable part of mass surveillance because it cannot lie, it can be processed automatically by a computer and it does not need language translation.

Under Mandatory Data Retention, the government can tell that you called a doctor’s office and a sexual health clinic in the last two years but it doesn’t know what you talked about.

It can tell you called your accountant, your financial adviser and a ‘money lender of last resort’ all in one day but it can’t tell what the issue was.

It can tell that you called a marriage counsellor and a removalist, received an email from a last-minute hotel booking service and started using your phone on the other side of town, but it can’t tell the health of your relationship.


It will record which towns and suburbs you have visited with your mobile phone over the last two years, sometimes at a minute-by- minute level of detail, but this isn’t ‘real-time tracking’ according to Wannon MP Dan Tehan.

It make use of all these powers without a warrant using legislation that predates the sale of home computers, and will have the amplified power of two years’ worth of records.

A lengthy record of whom you communicate with, who communicates with you, and when and where this all happens, is hugely revealing even if you aren’t a journalist or whistleblower.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the US Government is considering an end to mass phone metadata retention as an internal review had found it “not central to unravelling terrorist plots”.

American civil liberties groups claimed that the only identifiable conviction that has come to light from phone metadata alone was for a taxi driver who sent $15,000 to a terrorist group in Somalia.

If Mandatory Data Retention offered even a faint hope of combating terrorism it would be much easier to support, but the international experience is that it has only increased crime clearance rates by 0.006 per cent.

Considerable damage

That tiny increase, about 100 times less than what might be considered statistically significant, will be achieved at the cost of the presumption of innocence and considerable damage to Australia’s tech sector.

Under the most generous estimate, about half the costs will be passed directly on to consumers; it is a new tax of at least $120 per year for the privilege of being spied on.

It is another broken promise from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The Labor Party deserves equal blame, both for supporting the legislation and for letting the concept gain significant ground under former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012.

The rise of the so-called Islamic State and its brainwashed young followers in the suburbs of Australia were used to justify the latest reincarnation of mandatory data retention.

However, Islamic State has already distributed an easy-to- follow internet security guide to its members and sympathisers that renders Data Retention completely useless.

The horror of the Charlie Hebdo magazine killings in Paris was also invoked by Mr Tehan despite France already having a robust mandatory data retention scheme, which manifestly failed to prevent the attack.

Even the Chinese Communist Party, which has both metadata and content surveillance built into China’s internet and pays about 100,000 people to monitor online conversations, has failed to prevent all terrorist attacks.

More arrests

When those aims failed to cut through to voters, the list of claimed benefits was expanded to include more arrests of drug traffickers and paedophiles.

The Australian Federal Police had already let slip that the system would help civil lawsuits against those who share Hollywood films on the internet, a trivial offence in comparison.

When you look past the spin, there is no real urgency to this law as it has been languishing around Canberra for at least seven years and will not be implemented for at least two years.

Listening to the rhetoric from the Coalition and Labor, it was as if passing the Bill would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telcos to simply hit a switch and instantly retain records.

Prior to the widespread adoption of the internet it was only feasible to protect your electronic communications if you had been trained by a spy agency or worked for a major corporation.

One of the first free military-grade encryption applications was released in 1991, and since 2002 it has been possible to mask your identity online using relatively simple software.

For any kind of criminal, let alone a terrorist, avoiding Data Retention will be even easier than installing a software package.

“Smart criminals”

Attorney General George Brandis has conceded that “smart criminals” may be able to get round his new surveillance system.

If you can figure out how to sign up for popular email services such as Yahoo or Gmail, or a social network like Facebook, then congratulations: Senator Brandis now considers you “smart”.

The Australian Government has no power to force overseas communications providers to store useless data, and so it hasn’t even tried.

According to internationally- respected magazine, The Economist, mobile messaging apps will be technology’s latest battleground.

However, in this new technology race Australia has already started to slash its own Achilles tendons with Data Retention.

The massive cost of creating and storing data that is useless for commercial purposes will scare off any group considering launching messaging apps, or even local offshoots, in Australia.

Almost all the jobs, investment and tax revenue from mobile messaging boom will flow to countries that have never instigated mandatory data retention, or have wisely decided to abolish it.

Bear the brunt

Even humble email services are likely to depart these shores, with only the biggest of Australia’s hundreds of ISPs likely to bear the brunt of data retention.

Google’s Gmail is standing by to offer cheap, encrypted, overseas- based and data retention-exempt email for businesses.

The lion’s share of economic benefits will flood to Silicon Valley in California, not Australia’s ‘Silicon Beach’.

Data Retention will create jobs, but mostly they will be in other nations with cheaper power and labour costs for warehousing hard drives.

Detailed information on your everyday life will be kept overseas by the lowest bidder, except for Telstra, which has pledged to store it locally.

If you or your children are planning to study for an IT course, it might be worth asking Mr Tehan why the Australian Government has opted to make it much harder to get a tech job in this country.

It is such as shame that the Coalition chose this path, having gotten off to a great start last year by announcing tax reforms that aim to encourage local entrepreneurs and investors to launch new tech ‘startups’.

Mandatory Data Retention represents an incredible back flip for a party that claims to stand for the ideals of more freedom and jobs, with less regulation.


Note: About four months after this piece was published, ABC reporter Will Ockenden requested his own smartphone metadata from a telecommunications provider. He published the results and then asked ABC viewers to analyse the raw metadata to see what they could learn about him. A week later they provided a “scarily accurate” profile of his physical movements during a 12-month time period.

Tehan calls for RAAF to bomb ISIS in Syria


The Hamilton Spectator – August 15, 2015

WANNON MP Dan Tehan has called for the Royal Australian Air Force to expand its current bombing campaign against ISIS terrorists in Iraq to include Syria.


Mr Tehan made the call in an opinion piece published by the Herald Sun on Thursday, arguing that Australia had an obligation to act in Syria to prevent terrorism at home and stop atrocities overseas.

“We are acting in Iraq against Daesh (ISIS) with our Hornets launching air strikes on a regular basis. We should be doing the same in Syria,” Mr Tehan wrote.

“It is in our interests to end the suffering of its civilians and to degrade the Daesh ‘caliphate’, which continues to shine as a beacon for global terrorism.”

Australia currently has F/A-18 Hornet jets stationed in the Middle East to attack terrorist targets in Iraq at the request of that nation’s government.

Launching military action might involve a different legal process despite Australia not recognising the legitimacy of Syria’s government, which as been attacking its own people as part of a brutal civil war.

Mr Tehan is chair of the Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is mandated with reviewing spying and counter-terror laws.

The PJCIS does not have an explicit mandate to recommend military action but Mr Tehan invoked his recent meetings with security agencies in France, the UK and USA as part of his argument for bombing Syria.

The Spectator asked Mr Tehan if Parliament should vote on the proposal.

“Like our contribution to the effort in Iraq, any contribution to the effort in Syria would need to be decided by the National Security Committee in consultation with our allies,” Mr Tehan said.

“After doing this with regard to Iraq, the Prime Minister made a statement in Parliament.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he supported Mr Tehan’s suggestion, but no formal process had begun to expand Australian airstrikes to Syria.

When asked if Australia should also take military action against the Syrian Government, whose campaign of mass murder, torture and rape mirrors that of ISIS, Mr Tehan said an end to that conflict should come through the United Nations.

“Australia must do its part now to assist the fight against Daesh,” he said.

“On the broader question of the civil war in Syria, the international community needs to come together at the UN and bring about a resolution to the conflict, with leadership from the UN Security Council.”

Lowy Institute research fellow and former Army officer, Associate Professor Rodger Shanahan, has labelled Mr Tehan’s Syria call “bizarre” and argued it would stretch Australia’s military resources.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek told ABC radio that she agreed Syria was a humanitarian disaster but criticised how the push to expand RAAF bombing was announced.

“I think it’s extraordinary, frankly, that the Government sent out a backbencher to start floating ideas without any clear proposal, without any explanation to the Australian people of what the legal basis would be, what the mission would be, what success would look like,” she said.

‘Debate, not hate’ on same-sex marriage


The Hamilton Spectator – August 15, 2015 

FORMER Casterton man Lachlan Beaton, who has become a prominent figure in the debate over same-sex marriage, has called for people on both sides of the issue to abandon “hate”.


“As the weeks drew closer to (Tuesday’s Coalition party room vote), the debates become quite vitriolic on both sides,” Mr Beaton said.

“I went to a marriage equality rally (in Sydney) on Sunday and there was a lot of hate towards the other side, and I suspect the same is happening on the ‘anti’ side.

“I hope that over the next 12 months the debate doesn’t bring out the deepest darkest issues.”

Mr Beaton urged other same-sex marriage supporters to concentrate on the “important issues”, such as the impact of inequality on rural youth, rather than denigrating opponents.

He has been featured in news reports worldwide after he uploaded an emotional YouTube video that discussed his 12-year struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality.

Mr Beaton realised he was gay at about age 15 but hid the fact from everyone in his life, including his identical twin brother.

Queensland LNP MP Warren Entsch saw Mr Beaton’s video and used it to support his campaign for a bi-partisan private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

Despite the campaign, federal Liberal and National MPs and Senators voted two-to-one to block a ‘free’ vote on same-sex marriage during a six-hour party room meeting on Tuesday.

Backbench Coalition MPs can still cross the floor of Parliament and vote for same-sex marriage and not be punished, but any cabinet members that do so will be sacked from their ministerial positions.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s party room strategy has made it almost certain that any bill to legalise same-sex marriage will be defeated if put to Parliament before the next election.

Mr Beaton returned to Australia this week from his home in New York City in order to lobby MPs in Canberra and give a talk to students at his former school, Monivae College.

The Spectator asked Mr Beaton if the private member’s bill vote should still go ahead even if it created a damaging spectacle in Parliament.

“I think, from a political point of view at a sensible level, you should look at taking it off the table until there is a path through,” Mr Beaton said

“Having met with (Mr Entsch) on Monday, he’s really not worried about the politics of it and he’s said that to me directly.

“If there’s a prospect of MPs crossing the floor he would probably welcome it; he’s got a really strong conscience on this and he’s not going to let it go away.”

Mr Beaton met with Wannon MP Dan Tehan in Canberra on Monday, where there was agreement that youth mental health was a pressing issue.

However, Mr Tehan remained committed to his belief in the traditional definition of marriage and repeated his public pledge to support a free vote on same-sex marriage.

The next day Mr Tehan backflipped during the party room meeting and now supports the same-sex marriage decision being made by the people and not the Parliament.

The Coalition cabinet appears split on the issue of how to proceed now that Mr Abbott has made an open-ended pledge to have the issue decided “by the people”.

Some senior Liberals want a ‘plebiscite’ on same-sex marriage, which would require a simple vote by every eligible Australian to settle the matter outright.

Social conservatives want to hold a full referendum, which would require a majority of people in at least four of Australia’s six states to support same-sex marriage, a much higher hurdle to clear.

Tehan misses out on portfolio under Turnbull


The Hamilton Spectator, 22 September, 2015

WANNON MP Dan Tehan has missed out on a ministerial portfolio from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s post-leadership spill cabinet reshuffle.


Some of Mr Tehan’s fellow Victorian Liberals were big winners in the reshuffle, which saw a number of key Abbott-era ministers replaced but the Immigration, Finance, Environment and Trade portfolios left with their original holders.

Melbourne MPs Kelly O’Dwyer and Josh Frydenberg picked up key business portfolios as part of an effort to overturn Abbott’s ‘economic team’, who were strongly criticised by Mr Turnbull during a speech announcing his intention to challenge for leadership.

Victorian Senator Mitch Fifield has also moved up to the Communications and Arts portfolios.

Mr Tehan had backed Mr Abbott to remain as Liberal leader and Prime Minister, but said before the reshuffle that he would be happy to serve in any role under Mr Turnbull.

Mr Tehan will likely attend selected cabinet meetings in future as part of his work on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry.

He is also chair of the high-profile Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is primarily tasked with reviewing proposed counter-terror and intelligence gathering legislation.

The Committee recently released its report into legislation designed to allow the Australian Government to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals who engage in terrorist activity, or join or fight overseas for a terrorist group.

New ministry sworn in September 21, 2015: 
Prime Minister The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Minister for Indigenous Affairs

Minister for Women

Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Cabinet Secretary

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism

Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield MP

The Hon Michael Keenan MP

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister

Assistant Minister for Productivity

Assistant Cabinet Secretary

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Senator James McGrath

Dr Peter Hendy MP

Senator the Hon Scott Ryan

Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development The Hon Warren Truss MP
(Deputy Prime Minister)
Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia

Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Michael McCormack MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Minister for Trade and Investment

Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Minister for Tourism and International Education

Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment

The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP

The Hon Steven Ciobo MP

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck

Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC
(Leader of the Government in the Senate)
Minister for Justice

Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs

The Hon Michael Keenan MP

Senator the Hon Concetta FierravantiWells

Treasurer The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Minister for Small Business

Assistant Treasurer

The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Mr Alex Hawke MP
Minister for Finance

(Deputy Leader of Government in the Senate)

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Special Minister of State The Hon Mal Brough MP
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Senator Anne Ruston
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

(Leader of the House)

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP
Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Assistant Minister for Science The Hon Karen Andrews MP
Assistant Minister for Innovation Mr Wyatt Roy MP
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection The Hon Peter Dutton MP
Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Senator the Hon Concetta FierravantiWells
Minister for the Environment

Minister for Cities and the Built Environment

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

The Hon Jamie Briggs MP

Minister for Health The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Sport The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Rural Health

Assistant Minister for Health

Senator the Hon Fiona Nash

Mr Ken Wyatt AM MP

Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for Defence Materiel and Science The Hon Mal Brough MP
Assistant Minister for Defence The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Communications

Minister for the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
(Manager of Government Business in the Senate)
Minister for Employment Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Social Services The Hon Christian Porter MP
Minister for Human Services The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Senator the Hon Concetta FierravantiWells
Minister for Education and Training Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham
Minister for Vocational Education and Skills

(Deputy Leader of the House)

Minister for Tourism and International Education

The Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck


Federal wind energy regime call ‘misguided’


The Hamilton Spectator – August 08, 2015

A SENATE committee’s call for a new federally-controlled wind energy regulatory regime has been described as “misguided” and “baseless” by the Victorian Government.


The Victorian opposition has backed the committee’s call that “local councils should retain development approval decision-making”.

The Senate Select Committee on Wind Farms this week handed down 15 recommendations, inducing a call for wind energy subsidies to be slashed from 20 years to five.

The majority of the report’s authors want to establish an ‘Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound’ to provide advice on wind farm developments and commission research.

The report calls for State Governments to be excluded from receiving renewable energy certificates if they reject new federal guidelines on proposed wind farm developments.

If the report’s recommendations were implemented in full, existing wind farms could also face sanctions for breaching any new wind energy regulations on noise, infrasound or other impacts on humans and the environment.

Labor Senators produced a dissenting report that labelled the call for more regulation “enormously expensive, duplicative and unworkable” and accused the Australian Government of a campaign to “hamper the expansion of renewable energy generation in Australia”.

“Labor Senators reiterate their strong support for the wind energy industry in Australia,” the dissenting report stated.

Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who sat on the wind farm committee, criticised Wannon Federal MP Tehan’s support of wind farm jobs and investment on Sky News this week,

Senator Leyjonhelm said Mr Tehan had made an “assumption” that “if you don’t have wind energy, you don’t have renewable energy”.

“There are plenty of jobs from solar, biomass and geothermal and those sorts of things,” he said.

Mr Tehan did not respond to a request to comment before publication deadline.

Western Victoria State Labor MP Gayle Tierney dismissed the call for a greater regulatory regime on wind farms.

“These recommendations, along with the majority of recommendations in the report are misguided and founded on baseless theories,” she said.

“The report simply attacks the wind industry, including the current and future jobs it provides for Victoria.”

Victorian shadow energy minister David Southwick, who toured south-west Victoria earlier this year in support of wind farm jobs and investment, called for a “balanced” approach.

“The Victorian Coalition is committed to providing an affordable and reliable renewable energy sector that delivers jobs and investment for Victoria,” he said.

“Wind is a key component for Victoria’s energy mix, but must be balanced with community consultation to protect amenity and environmental value of our communities.

“(Premier) Daniel Andrews has ripped away local input into planning decisions on wind farms from local councils which are now purely at the discretion of the Planning Minister in Spring Street.”

Cape Bridgewater landowner Sonia Trist, who lives near a wind farm and blames the turbine noise for her health problems, told The Portland Observer that she hoped the Australian Government would adopt the recommendations.

Macarthur landowner Annie Gardner appeared on Alan Jones’s TV program on Sky News this week and gave her support for the recommendations.

She blamed the neighbouring AGL Macarthur wind farm’s construction for the decline of her fine wool growing business and the turbines for her family’s headaches and heartburn.

“We didn’t know anything about infrasound and we didn’t get a great deal of background noise but the infrasound is there 24/7; all day and all night our home is toxic,” she said.

Parents call for change of mind on same-sex marriage


The Hamilton Spectator – August 04, 2015

THE parents of former Casterton area man Lachlan Beaton, who posted an emotional online video calling for same-sex marriage in Australia, have called for Wannon MP Dan Tehan to change his mind on the issue.


Wando Bridge cattle farmers Andrew and Juddie Beaton met with Mr Tehan in person after Lachlan’s video started gaining media attention.

The video has also become part of Queensland LNP MP Warren Entsch’s campaign for a bipartisan same-sex marriage bill.

Lachlan posted the video to YouTube three weeks ago and he estimates it has been seen 70,000 times across various video and news websites.

In the video Lachlan describes his 12-year struggle to come to terms with his own sexuality, which he successful hid from identical twin brother Charles.

Lachlan grew up around Casterton and felt pressure to conform to a local culture at the time where gays were seen as outsiders to be made fun of.

Andrew and Juddie now believe that same-sex marriage legislation will be vital to sweeping away the last pockets of discrimination.

WANDO Bridge cattle farmers Andrew and Juddie Beaton, who are calling for Wannon MP Dan Tehan to change his mind on same-sex marriage, on their farm near Casterton. Photo: JUDY DE MAN.
WANDO Bridge cattle farmers Andrew and Juddie Beaton, who are calling for Wannon MP Dan Tehan to change his mind on same-sex
marriage, on their farm near Casterton. Photo: JUDY DE MAN.

Mr Tehan’s position throughout the recent national debate on same-sex marriage has been to support “the current definition of marriage contained in the Marriage Act 1961, which states that marriage is a union between a man and a woman”.

“However, I acknowledge that there is a diversity of views in the local community about this,” Mr Tehan said previously.

“While I support the traditional definition of marriage, I also support this issue being dealt with as a matter of conscience.”

Andrew said he and Juddie had spent 50 minutes discussion the issue with Mr Tehan.

“We asked for a meeting and I said to his secretary: ‘if he’s not prepared to listen then let us know and we won’t bother coming’,” Andrew said.

“He did listen and he was really good but he started off by saying that he didn’t know how he would feel, as a parent, because he wasn’t in that position.

“He is like a lot of other politicians who make a decision on this matter and they don’t really know how it affects them or other people.”

Juddie said the mental health issues also should be sufficient to get Australia to “move on from this situation”.

“It’s a terrible thought: those children have to find themselves somewhere, work out their own identity, and it’s much better if it’s done with their family’s backing.”

Andrew noted that “governments spend a lot of money on mental health, and just saving lives.”

“Driving around here with all the safety barriers that are put on roads to save a life; well this is one decision that would save more than one life, it would save a lot of lives,” he said.

Lachlan revealed in his video that his coming to terms with being gay involved periods of self destructive behaviour, excess drinking and depression to the point of hospitalisation at some points.

The Beatons see the issue in historical as well as personal terms, likening the same-sex marriage as just another reform following voting rights for women and the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

They spoke of the recent referendum in Ireland and United States Supreme Court decision, both of which paved the way for same sex marriage in those countries.

“We would really like Dan Tehan, our local member, to change his mind,” Andrew said.

“We have changed our mind. We wouldn’t have thought like this ten years ago. So many of our friends have said the same thing.

“One of the slogans ‘it’s OK to be gay’. Same thing for politicians: ‘it’s OK to change your mind’.

“The next generation will look back and think ‘gee we debated all this, fancy that’.”

Juddie said she suspected some MPs were reluctant to challenge their party leader’s position on the issue because they wanted posts as cabinet ministers.

Federal Parliament will resume on August 10 but it is unclear whether a private member’s bill will even get to the stage of facing a vote.