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Archive for April, 2019

April 29th, 2019 by admin

Campbell 'catches out gov'

The Federal Opposition says the Government has been 'caught out' after its attack on the Labor leader Kevin Rudd over his dealings with disgraced former Western Australia premier Brian Burke.

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Federal Human Services Minister Ian Campbell has resigned from Cabinet today after he revealed he also had dealings with Mr Burke.

Mr Burke was jailed in the 1990s for fraud and is now at the centre of a corruption investigation in Perth.

Senator Campbell in a written statement said his 20 minute meeting with Mr Burke and members of the WA Turf Club was to hear details of a development proposal.

The meeting took place in in June last year, when Senator Campbell was the federal environment minister.

Responding to Senator Campbell's revelation, a spokesman for Mr Rudd has told the ABC that "[Prime Minister] John Howard and [federal Treasurer] Peter Costello are now drowning in their own political mud".

It comes at the end of a week which has seen Mr Rudd's meetings with Mr Burke in 2005 under sustained attack from the Government.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has acknowledged he should not have met Western Australia premier Brian Burke three times in 2005.

Mr Rudd responded to a report in the West Australian newspaper which reproduced an email showing Mr Burke organised a dinner with Mr Rudd as the guest of honour.

"I went, as I said the other day in Canberra, as the guest of (Labor MP) Mr Graham Edwards, so what I said the other day stands," Mr Rudd told reporters in Melbourne.

"I went purely as Mr Graham Edward's guest," he said.

But the Labor leader seized on an admission by federal Human Services Minister Ian Campbell that he too had met with the controversial lobbyist.

"I think today's events demonstrate where Mr Howard's personal, negative mudslinging campaign has got to," he said.

Senator Campbell confirmed to The Australian newspaper that he had a meeting with Mr Burke in June last year, but said the meeting lasted 20 minutes and nothing resulted from it.

Mr Burke was lobbying Senator Campbell, who was the federal environment minister at the time, for his support for a redevelopment proposal for the WA Turf Club.

Treasurer Peter Costello said anyone who had had dealings with Mr Burke was morally and politically compromised.

Health Minister Tony Abbott said the meetings showed Mr Rudd was willing to "sup with the devil".

Mr Rudd and his deputy Julia Gillard were attending a state Labor conference in Melbourne, the first since Premier Steve Bracks secured his third consecutive victory.

Going into the conference, Ms Gillard defended Mr Rudd as a man big enough to admit his mistakes.

She said Mr Rudd had answered all the questions he needed to with the Canberra press gallery earlier this week.

Prime Minister John Howard was drowning in hypocrisy after revelations that Senator Campbell also met with Mr Burke, she said.

"He (Mr Howard) needs to work out, having created this muddy mess, how he's going to get himself and his government out of it," she said.

April 29th, 2019 by admin

Minister Campbell resigns

Senator Campbell said his resignation was in the government's best interest but said his dealings with Mr Burke were not like those of Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.

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"I had a 20-minute meeting in my Perth office with the WA Turf Club to discuss a proposal for an indigenous cultural centre," Senator Campbell said in statement.

"As well as turf club officials, Brian Burke attended, as did a state Labor MP.

"This was not a meeting in any way similar to those between Kevin Rudd and Mr Burke."

Mr Burke was jailed in the 1990s for fraud and is now at the centre of a corruption investigation in Perth.

The news of Senator Campbell's meeting with Mr Burke last June broke after days of attacks by the government led by Prime Minister John Howard on Mr Rudd over his contacts with the lobbyist and convicted felon.

"I have today tendered my resignation from the cabinet to the prime minister," Senator Campbell said.

"I strongly believe that this is in the best interests of the government."

He also told Network Ten he resigned because he wanted to see the government re-elected and did not want to provide a distraction.

The senator, who was environment minister at the time of the meeting, said by contrast Mr Rudd's appointments with Mr Burke on three occasions in 2005 were not coincidental.

"Mr Rudd's judgment has been seriously compromised and he must answer to the Australian people," he said in the statement.

"Clearly he has sought to conceal from the Australian people the nature of his meetings with Mr Burke."

April 29th, 2019 by admin

Terry Hicks wary on plea deal

Terry Hicks was responding to reports in Fairfax newspapers that US military prosecutors have held preliminary talks on a plea bargain with his son's legal team.

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"It doesn't matter what I say, it comes down to David," Mr Hicks told AAP.

"He's the one that's got to make up his mind whether he thinks 'take the easy option' or see what happens.

US authorities, he said, "may have gone on a weakening exercise on him to get him into a position where he may have had enough and plead guilty to anything to get out."

The 31-year-old Adelaide-born Muslim convert, who has been in US custody since he was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001, was charged yesterday with providing material support for terrorism and referred to stand trial by a special military commission at the detention camp in Cuba.

But a second charge of attempted murder was dismissed after Judge Susan Crawford concluded there was no "probable cause" to justify it.

Federal government sources are reported by the Sydney Morning Herald as indicating a guilty plea on the sole remaining charge could secure freedom for the accused terror suspect by taking into account time already served.

But Mr Hicks questioned whether such a result would constitute justice for his son.

"That's not 'free' though is it? When you enter into a plea bargain you're not coming out a free person, all you're coming out is a guilty person that's negotiated a way out," he said.

Mr Hicks said he had not yet spoken to his son's legal team including US military lawyer Major Michael Mori about the possibility of a plea bargain.

"All I know is Major Mori's made a comment 'why plead guilty if you believe you're not'."

Hicks' supporters contend that the new charge laid against him was only created last year and is being applied retrospectively.

The Australian government has always refused to bring Hicks home because it says there was no law under which he could have been charged at the time the alleged crimes occurred and it would have to retrospectively create a criminal offence under which to try him.

On Friday Mr Hicks took Prime Minister John Howard to task over the apparent contradiction during an exchange on regional radio.

Mr Hicks renewed his criticism today, saying Mr Howard's explanation yesterday – that the charge Hicks faces has been on the books since 1994 – was wrong.

"The law he quoted wasn't the one that David's been charged with.

"The one he's charged with now is October 2006. The one John Howard was talking about goes back to 1994 and it's got nothing to do with the one that he's been charged with. He was just trying to give a bit of spin.

"It's been retrospectively done and not only that they've built the law around what they think David's done and then charged him on it."

April 29th, 2019 by admin

George launches cyclone season

Communities at the top end of Western Australia have braced themselves for destructive winds and flooding.

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George is the first tropical cyclone of the WA season and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) believes the storm could develop into a severe cyclone over the next few days.

The storm system has already caused widespread damage, dumping torrential rain across the NT before it whipped up to cyclone force as it crossed the border into WA.

It has battered the northeast coast of WA, between Wyndham and Kalumburu, with destructive gusts up to 130 km/h, causing abnormally high tides and localised flooding, BOM senior forecaster Andrew Burton said.

Mr Burton said the force two cyclone would weaken overnight as it crosses land on its westerly path.

“It will struggle a bit overnight but then once it gets out over the water, in the west Kimberley, it should begin to intensify again and there is a very good chance of it becoming a severe tropical cyclone,” Mr Burton said.

George is the first cyclone of the WA season which runs between November and April, with most activity in the latter half.

Before it was upgraded to cyclone status it caused widespread damage in the NT, closing roads, cutting off communities, causing evacuations and washing out a three to five kilometre section of the Adelaide to Darwin railway line.

A flood watch under the Katherine Region Flood Plan was declared but NT police commander Greg Dowd said the area’s residents should not panic.

“The watch is declared to forewarn people in low-lying areas that they need to be making decisions about what action they need to take to protect their property in those areas,” he said.

“Advice we have is that the catchment area for the Katherine River has not experienced significant rainfall in the past 24 hours or so.”

Forty homes were evacuated in Oenpelli yesterday and police said more than 90 people in public shelters were faring well after being provided with meals and bedding by local volunteers.

April 29th, 2019 by admin

Campbell denies deal to return

Sacked federal minister Ian Campbell denies he has a deal to return to the government front bench should the coalition win this year's election.

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Federal Human Services Minister Campbell resigned on Saturday after revealing he had held a 20-minute meeting with convicted fraudster and former West Australian Labor premier Brian Burke last year.

Four state Labor ministers have been sacked or forced to resign over their connections with the former premier over the last six months.

The Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission is investigating the activities of Mr Burke.

Mr Campbell announced his resignation saying it was in the interests of the government, and he did not want to be a distraction in an election year.

However Prime Minister John Howard has said there is no reason for Senator Campbell to be excluded from a future career within the coalition government.

Senator Campbell has denied Mr Howard promised him he could return to the front bench if the government won this year's election.

"I have got no deal whatsoever, no assurance. You can't get those in this game, and that would be improper," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

His resignation put the spotlight back on Labor leader Kevin Rudd, who is under pressure to explain why he met with Mr Burke three times in Perth in 2005.

Senator Campbell said he had resigned so the Australian people could have a "clear view" of Labor leader Kevin Rudd.

"I resigned for, I think, a good reason," he said.

"I think it's incredibly important that the people of Australia have a very clear view of the leader of the opposition and his concealment of what occurred here in Perth a couple of years ago."

Senator Campbell said business people who had been at a Perth dinner attended by Mr Rudd and Mr Burke had told him the opposition leader was not telling the truth about what happened there.

"I have spoken to some of the business people who attended that dinner, and some of them have said that what Mr Rudd is now saying about those dinners … they know that Mr Rudd is not telling the truth.

Senator Campbell said his meeting with Mr Burke had been very short and he only went ahead with it reluctantly.

"What he (Mr Burke) did, obviously, is he big-noted himself by showing his clients he could get in to see a federal minister, and I was a fool to have let that occur," Senator Campbell said.

He said his transgression had been minor and it was now time for Mr Rudd to come clean on his meetings with Mr Burke.

"I have told the full truth about it, and it's now time for Kevin Rudd to tell the full truth about what he did and his dealings with Mr Burke," Senator Campbell said.

"If he wants to be prime minister of this country it's time he came clean and told the full truth about that."

Senator Campbell said Mr Rudd was a bigger risk to the country than former Labor leader Mark Latham, because he had been trained to conceal his character flaws during his time as a diplomat.

"With Mr Latham at least what you saw was what you got – he was sort of an angry young man.

"Kevin Rudd is at least as dangerous, but he is more dangerous because he has got this smooth facade of the diplomat covering up, I think, some deep character flaws," Senator Campbell said.