Federal Member for Kingsford Smith and Labor politician, Matt Thistlethwaite visited his alumni university on 13th April to discuss the current state of Australian politics. About a hundred journalism students participated in media conference asking Matt Thistlethwaite a range of questions about the economy, asylum seekers, education and local issues.
With the Federal Election later this year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull still has a lot to do to convince voters that his government deserves to be re-elected. Here's our pick of some key issues that should be at the top of Malcolm Turnbull's 2016 bucket-list.
The Budget: Malcolm Turnbull better be sitting down with Treasurer Scott Morrision to prepare a voter acceptable and economically viable Budget in May otherwise the Coalition will be risking another caning - this time at the ballot box. The recent Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook contained new cuts to health, welfare and aged care with the deficit of $23.8 billion predicted to worsen over the next three years. Scott Morrision will have to negotiate stock market and commodity prices instability in the next six months.
Taxation: The Goods and Services Tax is hot on the agenda again with the Labor Opposition claiming that the Coalition Government is preparing to lift the rate to 15%. This has been denied by the Government although it says that everything will be on the table to be considered. Many opinion polls have consistently shown that Australians are not supportive of changes to the Goods and Services Tax meaning that this will definitely be a contentious issue required careful political movement by the Government.
National Security: With Australia still on alert from increased terrorist incidents and the changing power relations in the Asia-Pacific region, the Turnbull government needs to work out where it stands on its external and internal defence policies. The government needs to be seen to be taking measures to protect the Australian population as no Prime Minister wants to be seen as weak in the eyes of voters. The government's Defence White Paper and anti-terrorism legislation to be released laer this year will definitely be interesting reads.
Health, Education & Welfare: After several years of attempts to find savings in the Budget by slashing funding for health, education and welfare, the government might need to try a little harder to win back many voters disillusioned with the so called austerity response to the 'deficit emergency'. Labor has promised to fight the Government on the issue of cuts to services particularly to changes with Medicare. The government might also want to try a new approach to welfare and university funding as it's also been a source of protests against the Coalition in the past.
Coalition & Government Ministers: With Parliament resuming soon, Malcolm Turnbull needs to select two MPs to replace Jamie Briggs and Mal Brough after both resigned for inappropriate conduct. It is likely that the Liberal's Coalition partners, the Nationals will be eyeing out another ministerial position. The National Party leadership will also be an interesting development to watch as Warren Truss may soon be replaced by Barnaby Joyce or a not yet known challenger who will become deputy Prime Minister of Australia.
Media Laws & the NBN: Changes to media ownership legislation is set to be presented in the first half of the year. The "reach rule" limiting television stations to a maximum of 75% national reach and the "two of three rule" preventing a single media entity gaining control of a daily newspaper, a radio licence and a TV licence are all set for review and debate. The Nationals believe that more should be done to assist local content producers and regional Australian media consumers. The National Broadband Network will also be used by both the Coalition and Labor in political point scoring opportunities as construction continues behind schedule and over-budget.
I’ve been thinking about whether Malcolm Turnbull as Australia’s latest Prime Minister would actually do a better job than his predecessor Tony Abbott. I mean, with the former Prime Minister setting such a low standard, it wouldn’t actually be that hard right?
Now, before you start yelling at me and saying that Tony Abbott deserves nothing more than to be shot over his short tenure in office, here’s some food for thought. Each election night, we often (but not always as in the case of 2010) hear a Prime Minister claiming victory at the polls. For Australians we have become too quick to assume that a particular party has won the election. Arguably over the past decade elections have been lost and not won.
Metadata Retention Effects Press Freedom
Recently the Federal Parliament voted to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to an unprecedented amount of information on all Australians. The Coalition Government and Australian Labor Party passed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 requiring telecommunications service providers to store enormous amounts of personal data of every Australian for a minimum of two years under the mandatory data retention scheme.
This has created a mass surveillance regime that will target all Australians at a time when other countries have abandoned this approach, and Australians will likely pay for this increased surveillance through taxes and additional phone and Internet charges. This is despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory data retention schemes do not work to reduce serious crime and are a substantial assault on privacy.
The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 lacks in-depth protection for journalists as well as their sources.
Metadata retention will have a chilling effect on free speech - Malcolm Turnbull, 2012
The question of "who is a journalist?" remains large as the legislation is vague and appears to apply only to professional journalists.
The warrant system leaves journalists and press freedom in the dark. "If you are going after sources then you are going after journalism" - MEAA CEO Paul Murphy
Under the new system journalists would not know whether an application has been made to access their retained data, or that this access has been granted, is still extremely concerning.
A journalist's status should not be determined by their pay, if you are not a paid/professional journalist and believe you deserve the same privacy protections and exemptions from data retention, send a message to the Parliament
Take Action at www.iamajournalist.com.au
Treasurer Joe Hockey has delivered his second and potentially final budget tonight with a focus on small business, reducing the budget deficit, acknowledging the drop in iron ore prices, allocating more money for northern Australia counter-terrorism and helping farmers. In delivering the 2015 Federal Australian Budget, the government has had to deal with pressure from the Australian public after nearly a year of protests and also simmering discontent among its own Coalition ranks with nervous backbenchers slowly reflecting on February’s leadership issues.
NSW Election 2015: Election Night Live Blog
Axing the Carbon Tax is Prim Minister Tony Abbott's biggest achievement for women
Prime Minister Tony Abbott being a loner on the far left
Prime Minister Tony Abbott also visited 'Canadia'
Prime Minister Tony Abbott winking & smirking during a distressed talkback caller question
Photos from around Martin Place in Sydney following the tragic conclusion of the Sydney Siege. Throughout the day, the exclusion has been gradually reduced with roads reopening and a floral memorial has been established in Martin Place. Security has been visibly increased in the CBD's streets with extra police patrols and security guards outside government buildings. A mass was held at the nearby St. Mary's Cathedral for the victims today. Many people have placed flowers at the perimeter of the Martin Place exclusion zone near Channel 7's studios.
Sydney wakes to the grim news that 2 hostages have been killed in the crossfire between police and the gunman identified as Man Haron Monis overnight. Heavily armed police stormed the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place around 2am after a siege of nearly 17 hours also shooting dead the gunman. A number of threats and pleas for help were received overnight with a few of the hostages managing to post messages on social media and send text messages to their families. Several videos have also been circulating online purportedly containing messages by the hostages speaking from inside the Cafe. Their authenticity appears to be genuine but is yet to be confirmed.
Gunshots from within the Cafe triggered the police's emergency action plan resulting in officers opening fire and throwing what is believed to be stun grenades into the building. Just a few moments before the gunshots were fired, 7 hostages managed to escape from the cafe. A total of 3 people including the gunman have been killed. The 2 hostages killed during the exchange of fire are a 34 year old man identified as Lindt Cafe Manager Tori Johnson and a 38 year old woman identified as Sydney barrister Katrina Dawson. Several people are currently being treated in hospital including a police officer with a gunshot wound to the face.
Around 2:45am, NSW Police declare the siege to be over although the exclusion zone remains in place. The lone gunman and hostage taker named as Man Haron Monis who is a 50 year old Iranian cleric who moved to Australia in 1998 as a political refugee. He was known to police from previous court appearances including for 'hate mail' against families of deceased Australian soldiers in 2009, being an accessory to a murder in 2013 and a sexual assault case in 2014. The gunman is not believed to be part of any terrorist organisation.
NSW Premier Mike Baird and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione addressed the media around 5:30am confirming the results of the police action and the end of the siege. Mike Baird goes on to describe the past 24 hours as "a tragedy none of us could ever have imagined". Andrew Scipione announces that police are now investigating the matter as a "critical incident" and urges people not to cause speculation. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has commended the police for their "courage and professionalism" during the siege in Martin Place. Australian leaders also have called for calm and unity as the nation moves through the situation.
Update as at 16 December 2014 at 10am (Sydney, Australia EST)
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