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Will Malcolm Turnbull dump Abbott's embarrassing Australian knighthoods?

When Tony Abbott is dumped as Prime Minister, will the new PM Malcolm Turnbull - a true* republican - dump the embarrassing Australian knighthoods secretly reinstated by his predecessor?

* but supporting a republic where the politicians - not the people - elect the president.

Australian Politics: Too little, too late to save Abbott

Abbott the Rabbit: On the run and
 about to be captured!
Tony Abbott hinted he may drop his controversial Medicare policy.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given his clearest signal yet that he may be preparing to dump his controversial plan for a fee to see a GP.

Mr Abbott also promised to appear regularly with NSW Premier Mike Baird during the state campaign in a move that could unnerve some Liberal MPs concerned that an "Abbott factor" could damage the popular Premier's election prospects.

Appearing at a press conference in Auckland following talks with his New Zealand counterpart John Key, Mr Abbott was asked about media reports that he would abandon the unpopular policy.

"I don't want to pre-empt our party decision-making processes, our government decision-making process, but it's no secret that we have been rethinking some policies that were brought down last year," Mr Abbott told reporters.

Full story:

NSW Politics: Mike Baird is either a kamikaze pilot or a political fool - or both!

NSW Premier Mike Baird says
 he'll  welcome Prime Minister
Tony Abbott (R) on the
campaign trail.
NSW Premier Mike Baird says he would welcome Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the campaign trail, but admits the federal government's "internal distractions" aren't helpful.

"THERE'S no doubt the federal government is going through its challenges," he told reporters at Sydney's Westmead hospital on Saturday.

"The whole electorate is saying 'look after us, deal with the issues that matter to us'. Internal distractions are never helpful."

Mike Baird prepares for
the NSW state election.
Speaking in New Zealand, Mr Abbott said he would continue to appear alongside Mr Baird in the lead up to the NSW election, especially on infrastructure issues.

"I imagine that in coming days and weeks you'll see lots of occasions when Mike Baird and I are together on projects such as WestConnex ... on projects like NorthConnex," Mr Abbott told reporters.

"I'm looking forward to working together with Mike Baird before the campaign, during the campaign and after the campaign."

Full story:

NSW Politics: Liberals ahead as state election looms

The Liberals don't deserve another chance in New South Wales but "pretty boy" Mike Baird might still fall over the line when the general election is held in four weeks.

There has been a stench hanging over the NSW Liberal Party for years and the government truly deserves the "Royal Order of the Boot" on March 28.

But the vagaries of voter support and public popularity mean that Labor will probably fall short of forming government, something the people will have deeply regretted by the time of the subsequent election in 2019.

NSW Premier Mike Baird 
The Courier-Mail reports: THE Baird coalition government is reportedly on track to be re-elected in NSW, despite declining support for Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatening to derail state campaigns.

A NEWSPOLL for News Corp Australia has found that Premier Mike Baird's government is set to take a hit in the March 28 election - though not a fatal one.

The poll suggests Baird's government could lose 17 seats if there is a uniform swing, but it remains ahead of Labor 54 per cent to 46 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis.

Baird remains the most popular leader in Australian politics with an approval rating at 59 per cent.

The clock is ticking for Tony Abbott as Julie Bishop ponders her future

Julie Bishop: Dreaming of the top job.
JULIE Bishop has urged her Liberal colleagues to end leadership speculation and get on with the job of governing Australia.

In Auckland the Foreign Minister said the current leadership speculation about Tony Abbott was "unhelpful".

While acknowledging the Liberal MPs have the right to elect the leadership Ms Bishop said there was a spill motion moved two weeks ago that failed.

She said she was concentrating on the business of government and refused to answer hypothetical speculation based on "rumour and gossip".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused senior Liberals of ignoring the needs of Australians by focusing on leadership.

"This is possibly the worst government in Australian history. It's barely been 18 months since they got elected and now they are arguing over who should be in charge," the Opposition Leader said in Melbourne.

Minister Sussan Ley is a national disgrace for approving outrageous health premium hikes

Sussan Ley:  Getting ready for a back
door blow against the battlers
 of Australia in April.
The Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has become the April Fool for 2015 for approving draconian increases for private health insurance from that date.

The Minister justified the increases by claiming there had been an increase in benefits paid to policy holders in the previous year.

Big deal.  The funds only paid out more because they had sought and obtained a premium increase the year before.

Sussan Ley is happy for the health insurance funds to play catch up - as long as they are a year ahead of their long-suffering policy holders.

Her title should be changed from Minister for Health to Minister for Health Funds to show her enduring affinity with these corporate monoliths!

Premiums: Up, up and away!
The Courier-Mail reports: The federal health minister has approved premium hikes for private health insurance from April 1.

Australians with private health insurance are facing premium hikes that are nearly three times the rate of inflation.

Health Minister Sussan Ley has approved April 1 increases averaging 6.18 per cent.

She justified the increases by citing a $1 billion lift in total benefits paid to policyholders in the year to the end of December.

Insurers paid out $17.3 billion in total, up 7.4 per cent on the previous year.

Australian Politics: PM Tony Abbott is going, going, almost go ..!

The career of Australia's totally divisive Prime Minister Tony Abbott is falling apart.

It may be only a matter of days before Australia has a new Prime Minister.

Voters can expect the usual prevarication and delaying tactics by Tony Abbott's half-smart stooges and backroom bully-boys, with meetings not called at all, called early to trick those MP's at all points of the compass or pulling on demands for a show and tell vote or some other typical Liberal tactics refined by the NSW Liberal right over many decades of self-serving political bastardry.

The push is on, so there's no use Tony Abbott rushing back from New Zealand to shore up his position - because the political tsunami has already hit.

Now it's  just a matter of time before it blows away the poorly-performing head honcho and with him under-performers like Joe Hockey who couldn't sell a hurricane lamp to an Eskimo.

Bye bye Tony bye bye!
The Courier-Mail reports: PRIME Minister Tony Abbott will likely face a fresh challenge to his leadership next week after a number of damaging missteps this month, a political analyst says.

NEW rumblings about Mr Abbott's leadership emerged on Thursday night, with television reports that potential rival Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull now has the numbers to topple him.The talk comes after a leadership spill motion was defeated 61-39 in a Liberal Party room meeting in Canberra earlier in February.

Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams said controversial moves by Mr Abbott since the failed spill motion made another challenge likely next week.

He cited Mr Abbott's dumping of party elder Philip Ruddock as chief political whip and his attack on Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs as key recent errors.

"I think it's on," Dr Williams told AAP on Friday. "He (Mr Abbott) will go sooner rather than later.

"What's changed is the Ruddock dismissal and the Triggs attack, they're the big ones."

Dr Williams labelled Mr Abbott's leadership "terminal" and expected him to lose a contest for the top job, if one were held next week.

The prime minister had been in "free fall" recently, Dr Williams said, while Mr Turnbull had played it "very smart".

Mr Turnbull "has kept his leadership ambitions under check; I think he's playing his cards correctly", Dr Williams said.

He described Mr Turnbull's recent appearance on ABC's Q&A program as "textbook" and said all he needed now was a senior coalition figure publicly to "pat him on the shoulder" regarding the leadership.

"Then he's the reluctant saviour of the Liberal Party," Dr Williams added.

"The way that he's garnered the confidence back of his peers so quickly is surprising."

Mr Abbott said on Friday that he would not be distracted by leadership speculation, and that every member of his government was focused on doing the right thing by Australians.

Mr Turnbull has said he would not fuel continued speculation about the leadership.

"I hope you understand that," he said outside his Sydney home.

Queensland Politics: Independent Peter Wellington to be next state Speaker

He doesn't like the former Liberals, former Nationals or their latest reincarnation as the LNP.

They treated him like a dirty dog.  

They condemned him, harassed him and tried to portray him in the worst possible light.

But Peter Wellington has the hide of a rhinoceros and the memory of an elephant!

It should be a fun three years in Queensland politics.

Queensland independent MP Peter
 Wellington will be the new Labor
government's nominee
 for Speaker.
The Courier-Mail reports: QUEENSLAND'S independent kingmaker MP Peter Wellington will be the new Labor government's nominee for Speaker when state parliament is recalled next month.

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk fronted the media on Friday to announce parliament would finally resume on March 24.

A close state election, horse-trading afterwards and then Cyclone Marcia have delayed the government's release of the parliament schedule.

"Peter is a man of integrity and he shares my commitment to our parliamentary processes," she said.

Mr Wellington said he was committed to ending confrontation and promoting dialogue.

"This is historic in my view, as an independent," he said. "It will an honour and a privilege."

Mr Wellington said he would allow TV cameras in the house again, which was banned by previous Speaker Fiona Simpson.

He said he would be fair to all members and he expects they will follow the standing orders.

"We all know the rules," Mr Wellington said.

"With the numbers so tight, everyone will be on the best behaviour."

The premier also said she would release the budget in July, two months earlier than the LNP government last year.

Ms Palaszczuk will return budget estimates hearings to a seven-day schedule.

The Newman government cut it to just two days.

Comment on Mr Wellington's nomination is being sought from the opposition.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Canberra .........

Malcolm Turnbull's dream is about to become Tony Abbott's nightmare!

Australian Politics: PM Tony Abbott to become the nation's No. 1 Mr Whippy!

The sooner Tony Abbott becomes a Mr Whippy
franchisee somewhere beyond  the Outer
 Barcoo the better.
Sydney's right-wing shock jock Alan Jones has told Tony Abbott to become more like Mr Whippy and ring his bell even louder.

Supposedly to get his message out to Australians that he is really a good guy with a good message to tell.

The only problem is that Alan Jones is in a time-warp with Mr Whippy's bells having fallen mostly on deaf ears across Australia for over 30 years.

But if there is a Mr Whippy franchise still available in Coober Pedy, Coonabarabran or the Outer Barcoo, many Australians would gladly fork out the franchise fee to see Tony Abbott depart for the nether regions where he couldn't do any more harm than he is at the moment - even driving an ice cream truck around and around while wearing a cut-down version of Bob Katter's crazy hat.

Better still, send him to one of those places where he could be stuffed and mounted and kept as a permanent attraction for curious passers-by.

At the height of his powers? Tony Abbott during
 question time on Tuesday.
The SMH reports: Amid the confusing clamour that is federal politics, Prime Minister Tony Abbott appears to have misheard his radio mate Alan Jones' Tuesday morning advice to become more like Mr Whippy and ring his bell louder.

The image of Mr Abbott tooling around seaside resorts jangling his bell and tempting kiddies with ice-cream cones, as it turned out, was not the most bizarre of the day, even if it seemed attractive to the curious Mr Jones.

That honour went to Mr Abbott himself.

Illustration: Ron Tandberg. 
Beset on all sides by unbelievers, including a cabal of his ministers said to be counting the days until he is gone and a party treasurer spectacularly unimpressed by the marital partnership of the PM's chief of staff to the Liberal federal director, Mr Abbott declared himself on top of the world.

"You know what it is like to be young and vigorous and at the height of your powers?" beamed the 57-year-old PM on morning television. "That is exactly how I feel."

Could he have been enjoying an early-morning hallucination brought on by an overload of pushbike-induced endorphins?

Or had he read the first paragraph of the story accompanying the latest Newspoll, which brought the glad tidings that he "appears to have weathered the budget and leadership chaos to rank ahead of Bill Shorten as voters' preferred steward of the economy…"?

It wasn't long, of course, before killjoys in his party room in Canberra began chipping away at young Mr Abbott's vigorous euphoria, chiding him over sacking Philip Ruddock as whip, complaining about the uncertain future of submarine building in Adelaide and chaffing about the government's continuing attacks on Professor Gillian Triggs and the Human Rights Commission.

By then, the Prime Minister may also have read the second paragraph of the story accompanying the Newspoll, which noted, less cheeringly, that the poll "reveals the government remains well behind Labor, only one-third of people believe the PM is in touch with voters and 77 per cent consider him arrogant".

By the time Mr Abbott strode into Parliament for question time, his early-morning high seemed altogether missing.

Someone had to pay.

It would be Professor Triggs, already undergoing a long and excruciating inquisition in a Senate committee and inconveniently resisting all pressure to resign.

Within minutes Mr Abbott was using the parliamentary floor to rail against the commission's inquiry into children in detention, bellowing, "It's absolutely crystal clear this inquiry by the President of the Human Rights Commission is a political stitch-up".

"It's a political stitch-up and, Madam Speaker, this government has lost confidence in the President of the Human Rights Commission."

The Prime Minister, believing himself at the height of his powers but confounded by evidence suggesting he might lack the confidence of voters and colleagues, had transformed in the space of hours to Mr Whippy, but in a decidedly more 50 Shades of Grey style than Mr Jones might have had in mind.

Australian Politics: PM Tony Abbott has stooped to grubby "new low"

The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sunk to a pathetic new low, never before seen in Australian politics. 

Australians have never seen such a disgusting and pathetic performance by an ill-equipped Prime Minister who has demeaned the high office which he holds.

The forces of Liberal Party decency are slowly gathering against this man who is destined for high office in Australian politics - as the newest backbencher in the House of Representatives!

Australians are ‘sick and tired of an
angry Tony Abbott’: Bill Shorten
 in question time on Wednesday.
The Guardian reports: Bill Shorten says Tony Abbott sank to 'a new low' over Gillian Triggs's treatment.

Opposition leader accuses PM of being ‘psychologically unsuited’ to the prime ministership.

Bill Shorten has launched a strongly worded attack on Tony Abbott over the Gillian Triggs saga, with the opposition leader accusing the prime minister of sinking to a “new low” and being “psychologically unsuited” to the nation’s top job.

Labor sought to cut short parliamentary question time on Wednesday to condemn the government for “forgetting the rule of law”, saying it had ignored the separation of powers in an attempt to force the resignation of the Human Rights Commission president.

Shorten said Australians were “sick and tired of an angry Tony Abbott” and the government’s treatment of Triggs was “a new low by the most powerful man in Australia against an upright, proper and decent woman”.

But Abbott and his senior frontbencher, Christopher Pyne, dismissed Labor’s focus on official testimony to a Senate estimates committee hearing, suggesting it was “Canberra insider nonsense” and a “beltway” issue that was not the most important priority for the public.

The Australian federal police confirmed they would evaluate a referral from the opposition relating to accusations – aired during a committee hearing on Tuesday – that the government had offered an inducement to Triggs to quit the Human Rights Commission by suggesting she could be given an alternative job suited to her legal skills.

The secretary of the attorney general’s department, Chris Moraitis, denied specifically asking Triggs to resign, but said he had told Triggs during a meeting in Sydney on 3 February that she had lost the confidence of the attorney general, George Brandis.

Moraitis said he had also conveyed a message from Brandis that “the government would be prepared to consider positively a senior legal role for her”.

Triggs told the committee hearing that there was “no doubt” in her mind that the job offer was connected to her resignation and she immediately turned down the “disgraceful proposal”.

During question time on Wednesday, Abbott reaffirmed that the government had lost confidence in Triggs continuing as commission president, citing her “political inquiry” against the Coalition on the issue of children in detention.

But Abbott rejected suggestions of government impropriety. “The president of the commission has not been asked to resign; no inducement has been offered,” Abbott said.

Labor asked the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, who represents Brandis in the lower house, to elaborate on the specific job offered to Triggs.

Bishop said she had spoken to Moraitis “and he confirmed to me that Professor Triggs was not asked to resign, that she was not offered an inducement to resign”.

“I would back the secretary of the Attorney General’s Department over anyone on that side [Labor],” Bishop said.

Shorten pointed to Brandis’s comment to Senate estimates that the attorney general hoped Triggs would recognise her position was untenable and that she “could be encouraged or be willing to serve the government in other capacities”.

Abbott replied that Shorten was “not interested in the real issues that concern the Australian people – yet again Canberra insider nonsense; that’s all this is”.

“Every day this government is getting on with the job of looking after the Australian people,” Abbott said.

Abbott’s comments stood in contrast with earlier remarks by the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, that Triggs was “a very distinguished international legal academic”.

The prime minister also took the opportunity to criticise Triggs’s recommendation that the government pay compensation to a convicted wife killer who continued to be detained after he served his court-imposed jail sentence.

“If members opposite think that people like that should be let out, if they think people like that should be compensated, they had better stand up and explain themselves to the Australian people,” Abbott said.

Shorten attempted to suspend standing orders partway through question time to move a motion that would censure Brandis for undermining the Human Rights Commission’s independence and “treating an independent statutory office holder with contempt”.

The opposition leader said the prime minister had underestimated Australians in dismissing the Triggs controversy as an “insider” issue.

“I think there are a lot of Australians who have been appalled by your conduct and your character assasination of this president of the Human Rights Commission,” Shorten told Abbott.

“Australia has been reminded of the character of this prime minister and of this attorney general. I know there are good members of the government … who are deeply uneasy, deeply uneasy at the open attack on an independent statutory office holder.”

In a later speech, Shorten said Abbott’s decision to use his position of power to launch an “undignified, unedifying” attack on Triggs was the worst moment of his political career.

“He is psychologically unsuited for the task of leadership. He cannot restrain his anger at people who disagree with him,” Shorten said.

“He is an arrogant, cynical prime minister whose government is taking Australia in the wrong direction and it needs to stop.”

Pyne leapt to Abbott’s defence, labelling Shorten as “Beltway Bill” and “Backstabber Bill” who was poorly placed to give lectures on integrity given his role in removing Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard from the prime ministership.

“We aren’t elected to be involved in beltway discussions about what happened at Senate estimates yesterday,” Pyne said.

“We will be getting on with good government as soon as we have dispatched this particular motion.”

Queensland: Labor government sacks Directors-General

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has committed to reforming the public service.

Ian Maynard the Director-General of Health has publicly fallen on his sword.

If Queensland is to move forward as Australia's most-progressive state, a new broom needs to spread across the corridors of power from Coolangatta to Cape York.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has made a good start.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. 
The Courier-Mail reports: The Palaszczuk Government has moved to sack directors-general, with high profile Health Department chief Ian Maynard terminated today.

Sources said Mr Maynard was told to take leave this week, and was to receive a letter today, from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk terminating his services. 

A spokesman for the Premier said she had asked directors-general to satisfy themselves that they could be 100% committed to the new government's election policies given the people of Queensland had just voted on these policies.

"If any Directors-General feel the need to pursue other opportunities, they are free to make contact with the Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet to discuss their intentions and options," the spokesman said.

The spokesman last night said Ian Maynard had initiated the discussion with the acting director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. It is understood his departure follows those talks.

While the State's directors-general have been told they need to re-apply for their jobs, it is understood the new Government is moving against a small number of public service chiefs.

The director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Jon Grayson has already been replaced by Dave Stewart.

"The merit based appointment process for Directors-General will start when Dave Stewart takes up the position of acting Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet on Monday, March 9."

And Rob Setter, without any public announcement, was made acting chief executive of the Public Service Commission nine days ago. The permanent chief executive, Andrew Chesterman, is understood to be on leave. 

Questioned late yesterday, a spokesman for the Public Service Commission said a statement on Mr Chesterman's position was being prepared.

A meeting next week will explain to those directors-general who are not terminated how a new recruitment process will operate in which they will be required to re-apply for their jobs. 

Dave Stewart, the new director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, was previously sacked by the Newman Government and then re-hired to head up Projects Queensland - a position he later quit.

Mr Maynard declined to comment yesterday. He was appointed director-general of the Department of Health in 2013, after serving time as the Public Service Commission chief executive.

His previous roles include Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Urban Utilities, Chief Operating Officer for the Brisbane City Council, Senior Risk Management and Strategic Procurement roles with Fonterra Limited, the world's leading exporter of dairy products, and Fletcher Challenge Limited, in New Zealand.

Mr Chesterman was unable to be contacted late today. He also worked at Brisbane City Council, before being appointed director-general of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Queensland restores same-sex civil unions: D'Ath 1, Bleijie 0

Attorney-General Yvette
D'Ath - committed to
fairness and equality
in Queensland.
Campbell Newman will be horrified.  

The former Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie will choke on his corn flakes when he reads this story.

But Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor Government is absolutely right to dump the unfair civil union laws drastically altered by the Newman Government in 2012.

Introducing Jarrod the Goose.
Jarrod the Goose concocted his new law in 2012 to spite the former Labor government.

Now, this ex-Attorney-General will be forced to see his laws dismantled one-by-one.

He is generally regarded as the worst Attorney-General Queensland has seen since 1859.

The new Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath is committed to reform this disgraceful LNP law and to introduce decency and fairness back into personal relationships in Queensland.

The Courier-Mail reports: QUEENSLAND'S Attorney-General says she's being briefed about how to reintroduce civil unions for same-sex couples in the state.

CIVIL unions for same-sex couples, introduced by the Bligh Government, were rolled back when the LNP came to power in 2012.

But Yvette D'Ath says the new government plans to make good on an election pitch to "rectify" this by reintroducing state-sanctioned civil ceremonies.

"It's something that I'm getting briefings on as we speak," she told Fairfax Radio.

But Ms D'Ath wouldn't be drawn on whether any same-sex union legislation would be one of the new government's first laws.

She said the issue went to the heart of equality and fair treatment in Queensland.

"We have made it clear we will change this back. We're putting in place (measures) to do that now," the attorney-general said.

These measures referred to changes to the births, deaths and marriages register processes, she added.

Australia: New plot to oust Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The Australian Prime Minister is on the brink of his political career - about to be pushed over the proverbial cliff as backbenchers and Ministers alike realise they cannot win the next federal election due in 2016 with him at the helm.

The upcoming NSW state election next month is starting to rattle the Liberals with fears that if Tony Abbott remains Prime Minister, he will go close to ensuring a Labor victory in that state, just as Tony Abbott's spectre as Prime Minister was one of the factors at play in the Queensland state election in January which saw the Campbell Newman's Liberal National Government toppled after one term.

It's not if, but when, Tony Abbott will be forced to fall on his sword - something now strongly supported by a majority of Australians.

Say goodnight Tony, because the lights are about to go out on your divisive political career.

Tony Abbott: Facing another
leadership crisis.
The Courier-Mail reports: LIBERAL MPs are mulling another attempt to topple Tony Abbott, with an increasing number now advocating a strike before next month’s NSW election.

In a marked shift in the mood against Mr Abbott within his Government, some MPs who vowed to give the PM until the middle of the year to improve after the last failed leadership spill, are now talking about fast-tracking another challenge.

Some Liberals want to wait until after the March 28 poll to ensure the federal turmoil does not harm the chances of NSW Liberal Premier Mike Baird.

This would mean any challenge would be delayed until after the Budget, which is due to be handed down on May 12, when Parliament returns from a six-week break. But Liberals who had previously argued for a delay have told The Courier-Mail there is now active talk about bringing on a challenge within weeks.

Both Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop are being encouraged by their colleagues to run against Mr ­Abbott but neither has committed to do so.

MPs have spoken about options for ways to spark another leadership showdown in the fortnight of parliamentary sittings before the NSW election. But some who want a change of leader have argued against this approach, fearing it will spell disaster for their NSW colleagues.

Tensions were on display as several Liberals confronted Mr Abbott with complaints at a Liberal partyroom meeting yesterday.

Don Randall demanded to know why Mr Abbott sacked Philip Ruddock as whip; Andrew Southcott and Rowan Ramsey complained about the confused tender process for submarines; and Craig Laundy and Andrew Laming criticised the Government’s response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report on children in immigration detention.

Abbott govt has 'lost confidence' in Triggs

Mr Abbott rebuffed the complaints and defended his actions. He did not accuse Mr Ruddock of doing anything wrong but said his decision to replace him as chief whip was a form of renewal.

The outbursts came as the PM faces growing pressure to change his leadership style and dump his chief-of-staff Peta Credlin.

In the latest of a series of attacks on Ms Credlin, the Liberal party’s honorary treasurer Philip Higginson complained of a conflict of ­interest between her and her husband Brian Lough­nane, who is the party’s federal director.

“How this party ever let a husband-and-wife team into those two key roles where collegiate competitive tension is mandatory and private consultations between colleagues to see that each side is served well, is a ­complete mystery,” Mr Higginson wrote in one of two scathing letters to the Liberal executive.

PM stands by Credlin amid email leak

Peta Credlin

“Peta Credlin was able to be deputy chief-of-staff to Malcolm Turnbull when Brian Loughnane was federal director. There was no problem then and there’s no problem now,” Mr Abbott told Sydney radio 2GB.

But the PM admitted some of his own side were trying to destroy him.

“Plainly there is this desire on the part of some to damage and destroy this Gov­ernment, but I’m not going to be distracted by that,” Mr Abbott said.

In a pointed address to MPs yesterday, Mr Abbott warned they would hand power to Labor if they did not focus on their jobs in government and stop infighting.

A decision they will regret: South Australian government supports uranium mining

SOUTH Australia's royal commission into the role of nuclear power should investigate the costs of uranium mining, conservationists say.

THE draft terms of the reference for the royal commission, released on Monday, are focused on nuclear power generation, uranium enrichment and waste storage.

But the government has ruled out scaling back the state's involvement in uranium mining, while also precluding the use of nuclear for military purposes.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney says the decision to exclude consideration of uranium mining is deeply disappointing.

"The nuclear industry starts with uranium and so should any genuine assessment of the nuclear sector in South Australia," he said.

"To ignore an evidence based cost-benefit analysis of this sector is to move from the real world of industry performance to a publicly funded platform for industry promises."

The ACF has pushed for an end to uranium mining, which it says has been linked to the contamination of surrounding soil, air and water.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the government would be guided by extensive public consultation.

"Most people have a strong view on the nuclear industry and more than 300 people have made submissions on how to scope the terms of reference," he said.

"The draft terms of reference explicitly state that the impact on remote, regional and Aboriginal communities will be key to the inquiry."

Former SA governor Kevin Scarce has been appointed royal commissioner and will commence work when the terms of reference are finalised in March.

Abbott promised to reform his act but treats innocent man David Hicks as a convicted criminal.

Australia's worst Prime Minister
since 1901, Tony Abbott.
The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just won the "International Jerk of the Year Award".

He won it on his own without any significant help from anyone else.

Within hours of a US Military Court overturning David Hicks' unlawful terrorism conviction, the Mad Monk and Class Clown of the House of Representatives went on the airwaves saying there would be no "beg your pardons" and no apology to this innocent man.

A man innocent in law according to a United States' Military Court!

Tony Abbott has proved once and for all that he does not have one ounce of decency in his body.

Not one scintilla of fairness has ever come from this man who is as fit to to be the Prime Minister of Australia as Attila the Hun.

He backs saving the lives of convicted drug smugglers but is too spineless to offer an apology to a totally innocent man - according to the courts of the United States of America.

Here was a rare opportunity to apologise to a man no longer bearing any taint of illegality but Tony Abbott chose to continue the Liberal Party despicable attack on David Hicks, so eloquently given life by the troglodyte of Australian politics John Howard.

Tony Abbott's media advisers, script writers and PR spin doctors should be shunted to Siberia or North Korea where their professional standing would be highly regarded.

But David Hicks will have the last laugh because as an innocent man having no conviction recorded against him, he is now free to write his book without any fear of seizure of the profits under the proceeds of crime legislation.

David Hicks' terrorism conviction
 has been overturned. 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has dismissed calls for the Australian government to apologise to David Hicks following the quashing of his terrorism conviction.

The ruling by a US military court brings an end to an almost decade-long legal saga.

Mr Hicks' father, Terry, says the prospect of seeking compensation was unlikely but an apology was needed from the government, but he is not confident it will be forthcoming.

"When you've got a government saying David Hicks is a terrorist, guilty of this and guilty of that, and then he's found not guilty, it leaves a few red faces," Mr Hicks told ABC radio on Thursday.

"So I think they're going to find it very hard to apologise."

The Prime Minister is unsympathetic.

"He was up to no good on his own admission," Mr Abbott told reporters in Launceston.

"I'm not in the business of apologising for the actions that Australian governments take to protect our country."

Asked if Australia had done enough to help Mr Hicks, Mr Abbott said: "We did what was needed."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten believes the government has questions to answer about David Hicks' treatment.

"There is no doubt on one hand David Hicks was probably foolish to get caught up in that Afghanistan conflict, but clearly there has been an injustice done to him," Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

Earlier, Liberal frontbencher Bruce Billson rejected calls for an apology and alluded to Mr Hicks' time at an al-Qaeda training camp.

"He certainly wasn't at a scout jamboree," Mr Billson told Sky News.

Mr Hicks had pleaded guilty in March 2007 to providing material support to terrorism.

This was part of a plea bargain that allowed most of his seven-year sentence to be suspended and Mr Hicks to return to Australia.

In 2014, a US appeal court ruled that providing material support to terrorism was not a legally viable war crime under the jurisdiction of the Guantanamo court in Cuba.

Prosecutors had argued his conviction should stand because he had agreed not to appeal as part of the plea deal.

But the argument was rejected in a unanimous decision by the US Court of Military Commission Review.

Mr Hicks' story began about 15 years ago when he left Australia to travel to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan, where he joined an al-Qaeda training camp.

He was later picked up by the US and taken to the US Navy base and military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

David Hicks will address the media in Sydney on Thursday.

Queensland Speakership beckons for Peter Wellington.

Campbell Newman and the LNP treated him like a dead dog. 
Little did they realise that their abuse and torment of this man would come back to bite them in such a away that would keep the LNP out of government for at least three years - and possibly much longer.
But Peter Wellington has risen about that.  He is man and a politician of decency and integrity.
When Peter Wellington takes his seat of Nicklin again in Parliament in March - either as Speaker or key Independent backbencher - rest assured that the bastardry meted out to him by the ghouls of the Liberal National Party from 2012 to 2015 will never be forgotten.

Peter Wellington -
Queensland's next speaker?

The most influential man in Queensland's Parliament – Sunshine Coast independent MP Peter Wellington – says he has learned lessons from his first stint as government kingmaker in 1998.

Then the newly-elected independent MP backed Labor to allow Peter Beattie to form government.

In 2015, the 57–year-old Peter Wellington will again back Labor – this time Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk – to give Labor the crucial 45th vote on the floor of Queensland's 89-seat Parliament.

 Independent Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington says he has learned much since the first time he supported a Labor minority government. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

But he says he will no longer be the agony aunt for MPs hoping he can influence Labor to achieve wins in their electorate.

"Back in 1998 a lot of people were coming to me thinking I would solve all of their problems and they were not even going to see the relevant ministers or their local members," Mr Wellington said.

"And I've made it very clear this time that Annastacia Palaszczuk is the Premier, she has now announced who her ministers are," he said.

"And they are the people who are making the decisions for Queensland," he said.

Mr Wellington said he had offered his single vote to Ms Palaszczuk so there could be a stable government.

"And that one vote is to make sure that there can be no votes of 'no confidence' against her and that she can lead and govern as if she has a majority of 10."

After Queensland's 2015 election Labor has won 44 seats, the LNP 42 seats, Katter's Australian Party has two MP's – Rob Katter in Mt Isa and Shane Knuth in Dalrymple.

Mr Wellington is Queensland's sole independent MP, holding his seat of Nicklin on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland's 89-seat parliament.

He said he ran his 2015 independent campaign for $6000 and said he had asked for no specific promises from Labor to secure his vote.

Peter Wellington wants to continue with the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commission committee.

"Being a former policeman and a former solicitor I have an interest in that and I want to make sure our Crime and Corruption Commission is able to go wherever it chooses to go without having to get the approval from the Attorney General, or anybody else," Mr Wellington said.

"If they want to undertake research into matters about possible connections between donations and government decisions they should be able to go there without having to get any of the research vetted by the Attorney General."

Mr Wellington said he made his decision to support Labor based on four issues.

"To me, the election was about 'Did the people want the LNP, or did they want Labor'?" he said.

"One of those parties was going to lead Queensland and as it turned out, there are three people on the crossbenches – two Katters and myself – and I still don't know what the Katters have decided.

"But I made the decision that Annastacia was the better person to lead because of what she stands for and the issues I had in common with her during the last period in Opposition."

The issues include opposition to asset sales, a desire to reduce the dollar limit to make political donations public, a promise to investigate making electoral donations public "in real time" and amendments to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

He believed the leaders the LNP – Lawrence Springborg aside – did not deserve another chance at forming government, Mr Wellington said.

The independent MP said talk about him becoming Queensland Parliament's newest speaker was simply a hypothetical scenario.

"If it comes to pass that someone nominates me for Speaker I would accept the nomination," he said.

"But the decision is made by members of parliament and they have a secret ballot.

"I think it would be an honour and privilege to be a Speaker of Parliament – and an independent one at that.

"Liz Cunningham has been nominated several times and she wasn't fortunate. It would be interesting to see - if I was nominated - what the outcome would be.

Mr Wellington said he had made no promise to Labor other than giving them support against a vote of no confidence.

"If being nominated as Speaker comes to pass, it would be an honour. If it doesn't, then so be it."

Voting expert Professor Clive Bean from Queensland University of Technology said if he was a Labor strategist he would be targeting one of the two Katter's Australian Party MPs as Speaker.

"If I was the government that is what I would trying to do," Professor Bean said.

"But, that would carry its own risks as well because neither of them is a person with huge parliamentary experience and they are both much more of an unknown quantity," he said.

"Although the Speaker is by definition is supposedly playing a much more neutral role."

Professor Bean said having one of the two Katter's Australian Party MP as Speaker could make the government "uneasy and nervous".

"But, as I say, if I was a Labor strategist that's what I'd be aiming for."

"Because that would give them a majority on the floor every time there's a vote."

Professor Bean said Labor had to weigh up the options before asking Peter Wellington to become Speaker.

"It is not impossible," Professor Bean said.

"If they (Labor) nominate someone from within Labor ranks as Speaker they are down to 43 votes on the floor of parliament and they need his (Mr Wellington's) vote," Professor Bean said.

"If they nominate him (as Speaker), Labor has 44 votes on the floor, without his vote. But they would need his vote as a casting vote," he said.

Professor Bean said the two Katter's Australian Party MPs tended to vote against the government.

"If they do, then every time there is a vote on the floor it will be 44-all.

The question then is do they want their own MP in the 'casting vote' role knowing that every time they will vote with the government," he said.

"Or do they want Peter Wellington – a more neutral person – which will then give them a little bit more grunt on the floor in terms of their own members."

Katter's Australian Party leader Rob Katter said he had not been asked and was not interested in the Speaker's position.

"I wouldn't be interested – and I can't speak for Shane (Knuth) – but I don't think he would be interested in either," Mr Katter said.

"Because we're interested in making things happen and in development and jobs," he said.

"And that is not the best place to be (Speaker) if you are interested in those areas.

"So I wouldn't be the slightest bit interested in that role."

Barnaby Joyce exposes himself as a fool over greyhound racing allegations

Barnaby the Magician:
Knows how to pull a rabbit
 out of his hat and a hare
out of his bum!
Just when you thought the National Party's self-appointed "think tank" Barnaby Joyce couldn't put his foot any deeper in his big mouth, he has emerged with a clanger fit for the Guinness Book of Records.

While the rest of Australia is in shock at the live-baiting scandal revelations involving greyhounds which has rocked the industry to its foundations, Barnaby Joyce has condemned the actions of those who exposed this illegal activity.

Those who have dared to publicly reveal the horrific corruption around the immoral and illegal live-baiting practices, deserve the heartiest congratulations from every decent person in Australia.

The racing authorities failed to expose these scandals but those who dared to reveal the sordid practices in the industry have been condemned by Barnaby Joyce for their genuine concern for the animals' welfare which saw things such as covert surveillance cameras used to expose the crooks in the greyhound industry.

How else was this ever going to be exposed?

It could have gone on for another 50 years with people like Barnaby Joyce at the helm.

Barnaby Joyce stands condemned forever for putting technical legal absurdities ahead of animal welfare and the protection of individual, defenceless animals such as piglets, possums and rabbits.

Barnaby, your 18th century attitudes makes every decent Australian sick in the stomach over your idiotic, insane and ridiculous comments.

Barnaby Joyce has criticised activists for their
methods in exposing alleged live-bait
 training of greyhounds
The Australian reports:

BARNABY Joyce has criticised animal rights activists for taking the law into their “own hands” to expose alleged live-bait training in the greyhound racing industry.

Licensed trainers embroiled in the alleged live-baiting expose shown on ABC’s Four Corners last night face a two-year jail term and a $35,000 fine if they feel the full weight of the law.

Twenty-three racing identities, among them prominent and decorated names in the greyhound industry, have been stood down while the RSPCA investigate alleged criminality and stewards commence their own inquiry.

The Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this afternoon said he would meet state ministers to ensure the industry remains “viable”, “strong” and “ethical”.

However Mr Joyce also criticised activists who apparently trespassed to record video of live-baiting by trainers in Queensland, Victoria and NSW.

If exemptions were allowed for animal rights activists, other activists would soon begin bugging doctors’ surgeries and accountancy practices they suspect of malpractice.

“You cannot decide to take the law into your own hands. Once you do that, once you make that exclusion that you can break the law for this person then where does it stop?” Mr Joyce said.

“Everyone has an own purview an ethical reason to break into some industry because of what they judge to be correct.

“That judgment overwhelmingly is done by the police, or its done by the RSPCA; it can’t be done by people of their own volition.”

The Senate is considering a private senator’s bill that would impose five-year prison terms for trespass offences that result in economic damage of more than $10,000, or 10 years’ jail for damage exceeding $100,000.

Economic damage exceeding $1 million would carry a 20-year penalty under the bill, proposed by Liberal senator Chris Back.

Greyhound Racing Victoria chief executive Adam Wallish said all steps would be taken to make sure “criminals” filmed strapping live rabbits, possums and piglets to mechanical lures for greyhounds to chase and ultimately kill are punished.

GRV suspended the licence for the Tooradin trial track, near Cranbourne, and 10 licensed persons on Friday after being shown evidence presented to the Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna.

Wallish said the Tooradin property had been the subject of 16 inspections in the past few years. Under the Racing Act, authorities can only inspect the properties “during reasonable hours”.

Racing Queensland has already announced the establishment of an independent taskforce to investigate the issue and other independent reviews in other states are likely to be announced in the next 24 hours.

“The industry accepts responsibility for doing more to rid the sport of this illegal and immoral practice,” Scott Parker, Greyhounds Australasia chief executive said.

Greyhound racing faces a difficult path restoring public faith in the sport.

“It’s going to be difficult and it’s going to take some time but we will be working very hard to ensure these people no longer take any part in the sport,” Wallish said.

The annual industry awards function for 600 people at Crown Casino this Friday night has been scrapped at the insistence of the Victoria’s racing minister, Martin Pakula.

Mr Pakula, and Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, today announced a broad investigation into animal welfare and allegations of animal cruelty in the greyhound racing industry by Dr Charles Milne, Chief Veterinary Officer of Victoria.