Monthly Archives: June 2019

Comment: First impressions from the tabloids

By Sinclair Davidson, RMIT University

DT Day

To a large extent this must reflect the views of its Sydney based audience – we’ve been hearing a lot about the anger directed towards Labor over issues such as boat arrivals and corruption at the State level.


The Brisbane based Courier Mail has a neutral front page.

CM Day

This is an accurate and very concise summary of each of the speeches we heard late yesterday. If Rudd’s blurb appears weak that’s because he is starting from a position of weakness – to win the election he must win the campaign. He said as much yesterday.

The difference between the two pages is that Queenslanders are probably not overtly angry about specific policies. Rudd is a local candidate. There is talk that Labor might pick up seats in Queensland. Unlike most elections where government can sandbag marginal seats Labor will have to pick up seats to win. So this page also reflects the views of the Brisbane audience.

The objective in each case is to attract eye-balls and sell newspapers (actually advertising). The Daily Telegraph imagines that it is going to attract angry eye-balls while the Courier Mail doesn’t see its audience as being angry.

How does this insight help either political party? Well it doesn’t much. They already know what the editors know – but it does give observers an insight into local conditions.

So rather than simply argue the Daily Telegraph is campaigning for the Coalition we should see this as a reflection of Sydney views.

Long story short: Don’t shoot the messenger.

Sinclair Davidson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Comment: MRRT court challenge ‘could backfire on miners’

By Michael Crommelin, University of Melbourne

Fortescue Metals’ controversial challenge to the Federal Government’s mining tax began this week in the High Court.


Legal counsel for Fortescue argue the tax, which is under pressure for raising just $126 million in its first six months of operation instead of $2 billion originally anticipated, is unconstitutional.

But Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne, Michael Crommelin, explains that there is a possibility that the case may backfire on mining companies.

First what are the main arguments?

A: Two major arguments have been put forward. The first is that the tax is an unconstitutional interference by the Commonwealth with important state functions. The other is really a design argument: that a particular feature of this tax breaches a provision of the Constitution that prohibits the Commonwealth, in the exercise of its taxation power, from discriminating among the states.

Would both these arguments need to be accepted to overturn the tax?

A: No, either one would be sufficient for Fortescue to win, but the consequences that would flow from acceptance of each argument would differ. To understand this better, let’s look at the two arguments in turn.

First, the argument over the design feature of the tax, which is in a sense the narrower argument. The Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MMRT) allows mining companies to obtain a full credit against MRRT liability for state royalties that they’ve paid. The royalty regimes are different from state to state and much has been made in argument about the differences between the Western Australian and the Queensland royalty regimes – particularly relevant in this case.

The argument is that in allowing a full credit against MRRT liability for different state royalties the MRRT Act discriminates between states, because a mining company gets a bigger credit for royalties paid in Western Australia (where royalties are higher) than it would if the same operation were conducted in Queensland.

There are two possible consequences that could flow from acceptance of this argument. One is that this design feature is so central to the Act as a whole that the entire Act is unconstitutional. The other more limited consequence is that only the provision allowing companies to credit royalty payments against MRRT liability is unconstitutional, and the rest of the Act survives. In other words, companies would lose the credit allowance but remain liable to pay the tax…in fact, more tax.

So this argument could backfire on them?

A: Yes, it could, but that depends on whether the royalty credit provision is integral to the MRRT regime, or severable from it.

And the second argument?

This is a wider argument based on the Melbourne Corporation Case, which in 1947 established an important principle that the Commonwealth legislation can’t preclude the performance by the states of their constitutional functions within our federal system of government. The resources subject to MRRT, iron ore and coal, are the property of the states in which they are located and have been since prior to federation. Since the colonial era, the states have been responsible for the management of these resources. Fortescue Metals argues that the MRRT diminishes the capacity of the states to continue to manage these resources, contrary to the Melbourne Corporation principle. This argument is supported by the Attorneys General of Western Australia and Queensland, who have intervened in the case.

If this argument were successful it would be difficult for the Commonwealth to redesign the tax. It’s not a design problem; it’s a more fundamental problem about who has authority to do what within our federal system.l

So in essence the mining companies are betting that the constitutional arguments are strong enough to bring down the whole thing, not just the royalty credit arrangements, while allowing the tax to survive.

A: Yes. The arguments are aimed at the entire MRRT regime, but those arguments may fail completely, leaving the regime intact, or may succeed only in bringing down the royalty credit arrangements, leaving the companies exposed to increased MRRT liability.

Michael Crommelin does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Afghan forces regain control of Kabul

Afghanistan said its forces regained control of Kabul Monday after killing Taliban militants — some disguised as women in burqas — who launched one of the biggest attacks on the capital in a decade of war.


A total of 47 people were killed and some 65 wounded in Kabul and three neighbouring provinces where government and military targets also came under attack, Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi told a news conference.

“A couple of the insurgents in Kabul were wearing burqas and carrying flowers” before opening fire, he said.

“Once again, like in the past, all the insurgents were humiliated and were killed by the Afghan security forces.”

Kabul was hit by a wave of attacks in three areas Sunday, with embassies and foreign military bases coming under fire in what the Taliban said was the start of its spring offensive.

Afghan security forces took the lead in countering the assault, but a spokesman for NATO forces in the country said they had provided air support in response to requests from the Afghans.

The attacks raise fears over the precarious security situation in Afghanistan as NATO prepares to withdraw its 130,000 troops by the end of 2014 and hand responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

But NATO was quick to hail the performance of the Afghans.

“I am enormously proud of how quickly Afghan security forces responded to today’s attacks in Kabul,” said General John Allen, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

“They were on scene immediately, well-led and well-coordinated. They integrated their efforts, helped protect their fellow citizens and largely kept the insurgents contained.”

However, the fact that so many militants had managed to make it through Kabul’s so-called “Ring of Steel” checkpoints and attack high value targets in the heart of the capital has raised questions about lapses in security.

“That they did manage to pull off simultaneous complex attacks shows quite a level of sophistication in preventing detection… so that would be a failure in intelligence,” said Martine van Bijlert of the Afghanistan Analysts’ Network.

“But having said that, in a big bustling city like Kabul it is incredibly difficult to stop this type of attack,” she said.

US Ambassador Ryan Crocker said the ability of Afghan security forces to respond to the attacks was a “clear sign of progress”, while ISAF labelled the attacks “largely ineffective”.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Crocker to discuss the “cowardly” attacks, the State Department said, and asked him to convey to President Hamid Karzai her appreciation for the “swift and effective response” of Afghan forces.

The US, British, German and Japanese embassy compounds came under fire as militants attacked the city’s diplomatic enclave and tried to storm parliament, sparking a gun battle as lawmakers and bodyguards fired back from the rooftop.

Outside the capital, militants attacked government buildings in Logar province, the airport in Jalalabad, and a police facility in the town of Gardez in Paktya province.

One militant in Logar escaped and had resumed fighting from a new position in the capital Pul-i-Alam, provincial police chief Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Liwanai told AFP.

“There’s one attacker who managed to escape and he is now in another building firing at us,” he said.

The attacks marked one of the biggest assaults on the capital in 10 years of war in terms of their spread and coordination, observers say.

In September last year Taliban attacks targeting locations including the US embassy and headquarters of foreign troops in Kabul killed at least 14 during a 19-hour siege.

And in August, nine people were killed when suicide bombers attacked the British Council cultural centre.

Wolff makes full test debut with Williams

“I think she was pretty good, she was pretty quick and that’s really fantastic to see a lady driving Formula One,” Ferrari’s Felipe Massa told reporters after the final day of a young driver test at Silverstone.


“I was really happy when I saw the lap times and pretty happy for her.”

Wolff, now 30, may not be a young driver but she was as thrilled as any of those making their test debuts after completing 89 laps and setting the ninth fastest time of the 16 drivers on track during the day.

Her best lap of one minute 35.093 seconds compared to the day’s fastest of 1:32.894 set by triple champion Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.

“It was important for me to show I had the performance,” the Scot, wife of Mercedes motorsport head and Williams shareholder Toto Wolff, told reporters.

“It was fantastic today. The team did a great job getting me through the day, talking me through everything step by step.

“Physically it wasn’t easy but it was what I was expecting. I was well prepared so it was completely manageable,” added the development driver who spent seven seasons racing in the DTM (German Touring Car) series but scored only four points.

Formula One has not had a female driver in decades, with Italian Giovanna Amati the last to try to get on the grid when she failed to qualify in 1992. Compatriot Lella Lombardi was the last to start a race, in 1976.

Wolff has taken part in straight-line aerodynamic tests, without other racing drivers present, and as development driver was the first to drive this year’s car.

“After such a tough end to my DTM career, many people presumed that I was just always at the back and wasn’t quick enough but I think today can show that that was possibly an unfair judgement,” said the Briton.

Spaniard Maria De Villota was appointed test driver for Marussia last year, before she lost an eye in an accident during an aerodynamic test in England. However she never took part in a general test with other drivers.

Britain’s Katherine Legge also tested a Minardi in Italy in 2005.

Race drivers such as Vettel and Massa were limited on Friday to testing the new type of Pirelli tyre to be introduced at next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix after a spate of blowouts at last month’s British round at Silverstone.

Massa, who suffered a near-fatal head injury when struck by a bouncing spring that came off compatriot Rubens Barichello’s car in Hungary in 2009, said they seemed more consistent.

“For construction and safety it is better – and nothing has happened here,” the Ferrari driver, who suffered one of the race failures, told reporters. “There were no blowouts or punctures like we saw in this race. That is the most important thing.”

Pirelli motorsport head Paul Hembery said the test had been useful.

“The established performance of the 2012 structure, consolidated with the speed of the current compounds, is set to provide an interesting mix of strategies for the races ahead,” he added.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon)

Indian court says BCCI probe illegal

An Indian court ruled on Tuesday a probe ordered by the country’s cricket chiefs into a betting scandal was illegal, causing further trouble for cricket head N.


Srinivasan, reports said.

The Bombay High Court, which retains Mumbai’s former name, ruled a panel set up to probe the betting scandal in the Indian Premier League (IPL) competition was “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.

The ruling comes just two days after the panel’s report, leaked to the media, found no wrongdoing by senior cricket officials or IPL owners over the scandal.

Tuesday’s court ruling could derail the return of Srinivasan, who stepped aside temporarily as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on June 2, after his son-in-law was arrested, and later released on bail, over alleged links to illegal bookmakers.

Son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is one of the owners of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, a team bought by Srinivasan’s India Cements conglomerate when the league was launched in 2008.

The BCCI appointed the panel of two retired High Court judges in June to conduct an internal probe. The investigation was separate from probes being carried out by the Delhi and Mumbai police into the IPL scandal, with charges expected to be filed shortly.

A petition was lodged in the High Court against the BCCI-ordered probe, which cricket chiefs said last month would aim to clean up the sport in India.

“We find that the manner in which BCCI has constituted a panel under its own rules is illegal and unconstitutional,” NDTV quoted the court’s order as saying.

Amit Naik, a lawyer for the petitioner, told NDTV that it was now “up to the BCCI to see what is to be done next”.

A BCCI source declined to comment until lawyers had studied the order. The BCCI could still appeal to a higher court.

The BCCI’s interim chief Jagmohan Dalmiya was due to place the report, which has yet to be released publicly, before the IPL’s governing council in New Delhi on Friday.

The scandal in the money-spinning IPL, a Twenty20 tournament that sees top international stars play alongside domestic players, has shaken fans’ faith in India’s most popular sport.

Police have questioned Raj Kundra, husband of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty and co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals franchise, which had three players arrested for alleged spot-fixing in the IPL.

A BCCI source had told AFP on Monday that the probe had cleared Srinivasan’s India Cements, Rajasthan Royals, Meiyappan and Kundra of spot-fixing allegations.

“There is nothing in the report to implicate these people,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

“I don’t think we can, or have the right, to stop Srinivasan from coming back as president now,” the highly-placed source said.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments