Five Australian Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Three Australian soldiers have been killed by a rogue Afghan soldier in Afghanistan and two members of the SAS have died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash.

Details of the incidents have been announced by the Acting Chief of the ADF, Air Marshal Mark Binskin. The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has described this as “the darkest of days for Australia”.

Mark Binskin

The “green-on-blue” incident occurred at a base in southern Oruzgan province yesterday. Two other soldiers were injured in the attack.

The helicopter crash occurred during an “insertion” in Helmand province. The aircraft rolled over on landing.

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About 1500 Australian Defence Force troops are in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The casualties announced today bring Australia’s death toll to 38. Seven soldiers have now been killed in green-on-blue incidents.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that she has “made the judgement call” to come home early from the Pacific Islands forum in the Cook Islands. She said this is the nation’s worst day in Afghanistan and the worst loss of life since Vietnam.

Julia Gillard

Gillard insisted that the commitment in Afghanistan has a purpose and that “progress is being made”. She said: “We cannot allow even the most grievous of circumstances to alter our strategy… We went there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through.”

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Statement released by Department of Defence.

Three Australian soldiers killed, two wounded in insider attack

Three Australian soldiers have been killed and two wounded following an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan.

The attack occurred during the evening of 29 August, 2012 (Afghan time) inside the confines of the Patrol Base. [Read more…]

Kevin Rudd Launches Whitlam Biography

Kevin Rudd has launched volume two of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam.

The second volume, titled “Gough Whitlam: His Time” covers Whitlam’s period in government and includes important new revelations about The Dismissal. Rudd’s speech was titled “Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s future”.

The launch was held at the Museum of Sydney.

Text of Kevin Rudd’s speech at the launch of Jenny Hocking’s second volume biography of Gough Whitlam.

Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s Future

It is nearly four years since I launched Volume I of this important biography of E.G. Whitlam.

I am honoured to have been asked by the author, Jenny Hocking, to today launch Volume II.

Much has changed in Australian politics since then.

Just as many things have not.

The essential narrative of Australian politics has remained much the same for more than a century: Labor in government the party of progressive economic, social and environmental reform, and of Australia’s place in the region and the world. [Read more…]

Gillard In Marathon Press Conference Over Slater And Gordon

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has held a marathon press conference answering allegations about her work as an industrial lawyer in the 1990s.

Julia Gillard

In a press conference lasting for 73 minutes, Gillard attacked “misogynists and nutjobs” on the internet over the “sexist” allegations in relation to her work at the law firm Slater and Gordon 17 years ago.

The Prime Minister’s remarks came hours after The Australian newspaper published an online apology for saying she had set up a trust fund for her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, in the 1990s.

Referring to “false and defamatory material attacking my character”, Gillard said she had decided to deal with the issues. Reporters then questioned her for 54 minutes.

Evening television coverage of the event also centred on a security breach where an intruder made it into the executive wing of Parliament House where the press conference was being held. The man handed Gillard some papers before leaving.

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  • Watch Channel 10 report on the press conference:
  • Watch ABC News report on the press conference:

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s press conference with Chris Bowen.

GILLARD: I’m here with Minister Bowen to make an announcement arising from Angus Houston’s report into asylum seeker and refugee issues. There are some other issues today which I will deal with but we will deal with this immigration issue fully first. Minister Bowen has a booked telephone call with Papua New Guinea.

We received the report from Angus Houston last week and the Parliament did endorse the legislation necessary to implement what Angus Houston and his team referred to as a circuit breaker – that is, the commencement of processing on Nauru and PNG. But at the time we received the report from Angus Houston and his review team, we said we accepted Mr Houston’s analysis that this was an integrated package, that you couldn’t cherry-pick between the recommendations that you needed to do them all.

Today Minister Bowen and I are announcing we are actioning Mr Houston’s recommendation that the number of humanitarian places be increased to 20,000. This is important because we want to send two messages to asylum seekers. Message No.1, if you get on a boat you are risking your life, you are paying a people smuggler your hard-earned money and you are at risk of being transferred to Nauru or PNG. But Message No.2, if you stay where you are and you have your claim processed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees then there are more resettlement places available in Australia. That is the purpose of announcing the 20,000 places – that is the purpose that Mr Houston identified. [Read more…]

The Australian Apologises To Gillard

The Australian newspaper has posted a narrow and specific online apology to Prime Minister Julia Gillard this morning.

The Australian

Stephen Gageler Appointed Justice Of The High Court

The Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Stephen Gageler, has been appointed a judge of the High Court of Australia.

Stephen GagelerThe appointment was announced today by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon. Gageler will replace Justice William Gummow who will reach the constitutionally-mandated retirement age of 70 on October 9.

Gageler is 54 years old. If he serves until he turns 70, he will remain on the High Court until July 8, 2028.

Gageler was appointed Solicitor-General by the previous Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, in 2008. As Solicitor-General, he is the Second Law Officer to the Attorney-General. The Solicitor-General appears on behalf of the Commonwealth, especially in the High Court.

Gageler grew up in NSW, studied law at the Australian National University and completed his Master of Laws at Harvard University in 1987.

Early in his career, Gageler was an Associate to Sir Anthony Mason, a former Justice and Chief Justice of the court. It is Mason’s seat that Gageler will take. It is the position originally held by Australia’s first prime minister, Sir Edmund Barton. Like Gageler, Mason also held the position of Solicitor-General between 1964-69.

Gageler is the 49th appointment to the High Court since it was established in 1903. He replaces the last of the Hawke-Keating appointments. When Gageler takes his seat in October, the court will consist of four appointments by the Howard government, two by the Rudd government and one by the Gillard government.

Gageler’s appointment maintains the balance of three NSW judges, two from Victoria, one from Queensland and one from Western Australia. There has never been a High Court judge appointed from South Australia or Tasmania.

Media release by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon:

New Justice of the High Court of Australia

21 August 2012

I am pleased to announce the Governor-General Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC CVO has today appointed Mr Stephen Gageler SC as Australia’s new Justice of the High Court of Australia following a recommendation from the Government.

Mr Gageler will be the 49th person appointed to the High Court since Federation.

Mr Gageler’s appointment will follow the retirement of the Honourable Justice William Gummow AC in October 2012 after 17 years of outstanding service to Australia’s highest court.

Mr Gageler has served as the Commonwealth Solicitor General since September 2008. He is a highly distinguished barrister and specialised in constitutional, administrative, revenue and commercial law in Sydney. [Read more…]

Statement By Peter Gordon

This is the text of a statement released today by Peter Gordon of Arnold Bloch Leibler.

Gordon’s statement is in response to this article in The Weekend Australian.


Peter Gordon statement

Gillard Promises Funding Increase To Independent Schools

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised that every independent school in the nation will receive an increase in funding.

Julia Gillard

Addressing the Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Gillard defended private schools. She said: “I’ve never looked at a big independent school in an established suburb and thought ‘That’s not fair’. I look at a big independent school in an established suburb and thing ‘That’s a great example’.”

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Senate President John Hogg To Retire

Senator John Hogg, President of the Senate, has announced that he will retire at the next election.

John HoggHogg is a Queensland Labor senator. He was first elected in 1996.

He has been President of the Senate since August 2008.

Hogg’s retirement frees up a right-wing, Australian Workers Union position on the Labor Senate ticket.

The Western Australian Liberal Senator Alan Eggleston has also announced he will not contest the next election.

Three Labor and five Liberal members of the House of Representatives have signalled their intention to retire at the election.

Statement by Senator John Hogg, President of the Senate.

Senator Hogg, Labor Senator for Queensland, today announced that he would not be seeking a further term when nominations were opened by the Labor Party next Monday.

He said that he was grateful for the opportunity his party had given him to represent the people of Queensland in the Senate.

Senator Hogg confirmed that he would serve out his full term to 30 June 2014 as there are still many things to be done. [Read more…]

Gillard Tackles Electricity Prices

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has written to state premiers asking them to prepare for a new national agreement on energy prices by the end of the year.

Julia Gillard

Gillard said power prices have risen unsustainably because of over-investment that has driven up energy costs by 48% in the past four years. “And ordinary businesses and households have been entirely uncompensated for these significant cost increases.”

“Australia needed a carbon price,” Gillard said. “Australia did not need price increases of fifty per cent or more for households over the last four years.” She said the market for supplying energy services in Australia needs to be more efficient.”

The Prime Minister said her preference is to work co-operatively through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). “We won’t lightly use the big stick of regulation, of stronger powers for the Energy Regulator and the ACCC. But it’s a stick we hold and which we’ll use if required. One way or another, we’re going to get this done.”

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Text of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia.

ELECTRICITY PRICES: THE FACTS

Too often the cost of electricity is talked about in two completely separate public conversations.

One conversation is about power bills. There’s a very concrete discussion going on at the kitchen table, in the school carpark and in the front bar, about this.

Power bills have become the new petrol prices: not just an essential of life that always seems to be going up, but a vital commodity, where what we consume each day, or pay every quarter, seems beyond our control.

The other conversation is about energy markets. [Read more…]

Macklin Announces NDIS Trial For NSW Hunter Region

The Commonwealth and NSW governments have reached agreement for a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the Hunter region next year.

Jenny Macklin

The decision was announced today by the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and her counterpart, the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

The Hunter trial arises out of the backdown by the NSW and Victorian governments last week.

The announcement today was overshadowed by the media’s coverage of Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan’s speech on Bruce Springsteen and Labor values.

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Joint media release from the federal Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

Launching a National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Hunter

People with significant and profound disabilities in the Hunter region of NSW are set to benefit from a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) next year, after the Australian and NSW Governments today reached an agreement on arrangements for the Hunter launch site.

From next year about 10,000 people with significant and profound disabilities, their families and carers in the Hunter will have their needs assessed and will start to receive individual care and support packages. [Read more…]