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Friday, 28 November 2014

The death of due process, transparency and accountability - The AIM Network

The death of due process, transparency and accountability - The AIM Network

The death of due process, transparency and accountability

Increasingly this government is seeking to subvert due process and impose their agenda in totalitarian fashion.

Regardless of whether you think the increase in fuel excise
is an appropriate measure, the move to introduce it through regulation
rather than legislation is specifically designed to bypass parliament. 
The regulations will need to be backed up with proper legislation by the
Senate within 12 months or the money raised will have to be refunded.

As reported in the SMH

“The government believes the ploy will put Labor and Greens senators
in a bind at that time forcing them to choose between keeping the
escalating revenue stream, or voting it down forcing the government to
pay potentially hundreds of millions of dollars collected from motorists
back to oil companies.

While the incremental inflation adjustments will raise an expected
$167 million from motorists by November next year, little-appreciated
new compliance costs for service stations are calculated at $5.06
million according to Treasury estimates.”

So much for cutting red tape to help small businesses.  They also
ignore the flowon costs to households as businesses pass on increased
delivery expenses, and the cumulative effect of twice yearly increases.

And it seems they may be trying to introduce the GP co-payment in the same way.

Initially, on Tuesday Peter Dutton said

“There is no capacity to introduce a $7 co-payment through
regulation, the advice from our legal people within the department as
well as with attorneys is the $7 co-payment needs substantive
legislation to support the co-payment.”

But yesterday he changed that message, refusing to rule out the
introduction of the $7 levy by regulation to bypass the need for

“I am not going to rule things in or out. I am saying that there are
options that are available to the Government,” Mr Dutton said.

Finding ways around our parliament and our laws is becoming a habit.

After the High Court ruled in June that the federal government could not directly fund religious chaplains
in public schools, Christopher Pyne chose to give the money to the
states with the direction that it could not be used for secular welfare

So much for their claim that education decisions should not be dictated by Canberra.

In February, a Senate inquiry paved the way for the Parliament to
give Environment Minister Greg Hunt legal immunity against future legal
challenges to his decisions on mining projects.  It will protect him
from being challenged over deliberate or negligent decisions that do not
comply with the law.

The Coalition government has now licensed Greg Hunt to avoid compliance with the EPBC Act
The amendment retrospectively validates ministerial decisions – even if
they did not comply with the EPBC Act when they were made.

We are also losing our right to appeal development decisions.

The Abbott government’s move to establish a single approval process
by passing environmental approval responsibilities onto the states and
territories creates a conflict of interest as they raise revenue from
land sales and mining royalties.

In early 2014 the Queensland government proposed to confine the
objections and notifications process for a mining lease to people owning
land within the proposed lease.

The Coordinator-General is fast becoming an almost supremely powerful
czar for large projects in Queensland, subject only to the political
whims of the state government.  He can also prevent any objections to
the environmental authority for a coordinated project from being heard
by the Land Court. When combined with the severe restrictions on
objections to mining leases, very few people can now challenge matters
such as impacts on groundwater of large mines that are declared a
coordinated project.

Under the federal Coalition’s one-stop shop the Coordinator-General
is also proposed to have power to approve projects impacting on matters
protected under federal environmental laws.

And that’s not the only avenue for appeal that is being shut down.

Australians could be left with no appeal rights against government secrecy by the end of this year.

The May budget cut $10.2 million funding for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) which handles Freedom of Information
appeals.  The government wants appeals to be handled by the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal instead.  This move is being blocked in
the Senate so we will be left with effectively no avenue for appeal.

But perhaps the most blatant disregard for the law is being shown by
Scott Morrison who, in a Napoleonic gesture, has conferred on himself
the power to revoke a person’s citizenship
The new laws provide the Minister with the power to set aside decisions
of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) concerning character and
identity if it would be in the public interest to do so and confer on
the Minister the power to make legislative instruments.

Morrison has condemned innocent people to indefinite incarceration and washed his hands of any responsibility for their welfare.  He has ignored warnings that his actions are in breach of human rights
and is actively outsourcing our responsibilities under the Refugee
Convention at enormous cost to this country.  He is now even blocking
refugee applications from people coming through official UNHCR channels.

Journalists have been denied access to detention camps.  Even the head of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, was denied access to child asylum seekers
on Nauru on the grounds that the commission’s jurisdiction did not
extend beyond Australia’s borders.  The cost of a single-entry media visa to Nauru rose from $200 to $8,000.

And if any of us report on the machinations of this government, our
fate is in the hands of Attorney-General George Brandis who has the
individual power to determine if we should face a possible ten year jail sentence.

So much for free speech, transparency and accountability.

“Trust me,” they say.  Not friggin’ likely.

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