Friday, April 20, 2018

Harsher punishments for corporate wrongdoing

The government has introduced greater criminal and civil penalties for corporate and financial misconduct after the royal commission into the banking and finance industries heard details of illegal fee charging and unethical practices by lending institutions. The commission heard yesterday that Commonwealth Bank of Australia subsidiary Count Financial charged clients up to 10 years after they had died, and from Westpac customers who lost their life savings after receiving poor financial advice. CBA representative Marianne Perkovic was accused by senior counsel assisting the commission, Michael Hodge QC, of “dissembling” and failing to answer questions, while commissioner Kenneth Hayne also criticised Perkovic’s answers as insufficient and directed her to listen to a question again. Financial services minister Kelly O’Dwyer said the reforms, including longer jail time for lying to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and larger fines for corporations, were “ a credible deterrent to unacceptable misconduct”. Nationals MPs, meanwhile, are considering forcibly separating major banks from their financial services subsidiaries, with NSW senator John Williams saying “I think the sooner that’s broken up, the better”. Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce tweeted “In the past I argued against a Royal Commission into banking. I was wrong. What I have heard is so far is beyond disturbing.”

Energy minister Josh Frydenberg has urged states and territories to support the federal government’s National Energy Guarantee at a Council of Australian Governments meeting today. Energy ministers will gather in Melbourne to decide the fate of the NEG, with Labor states demanding a higher renewable energy target and protections for non-energy sectors. While business and industry groups have urged governments to agree to the NEG, environmental organisations are opposing the plan as too weak. GetUp! energy campaigns director Miriam Lyons said ($) the NEG “will literally do nothing, in terms of climate change, of investment in energy generation capacity”.

Acting prime minister Michael McCormack has said he has no view “one way or the other” on gay conversion therapy. Speaking on Thursday at the National Press Club in his first major speech since he was elevated to deputy prime minister, McCormack said the issue was “not something that I have really explored”. Government ministers publicly grappled with the issue this week after a Victorian Young Liberals branch proposed a motion allowing doctors to “offer counselling out of same-sex attraction or gender transitioning”. The Australian Medical Association said it “unequivocally condemns” conversion therapy, quoting a 2013 World Medical Association statement saying such treatments “have no medical indication and represent a serious threat to the health and human rights of those so treated”. In February, McCormack distanced himself from newspaper editorials he wrote in 1993 calling homosexuality “sordid” and describing himself as “homophobic”.

And former Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has re-emerged on Twitter as a self-described “geopolitical dilettante”. Quaedvlieg, who was sacked in March after a lengthy investigation found he helped his girlfriend get a job at Sydney Airport, began tweeting from @quaedvliegs shortly before his dismissal. BuzzFeed Australia has verified the account belongs to Quaedvlieg, who said he plans “to contribute to public policy discussions in more mainstream and long form media". Quaedvlieg has spoken out about governments using “fear of crime to infect its constituents”, labelled the British Commonwealth “a vestige of British imperialistic nostalgia”, and said people directing misogynist attacks against ABC journalist Leigh Sales were “craven types that stalk the Twittersphere”. Quaedvlieg also called BuzzFeed’s coverage “fair and balanced”.

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Too many men

“Nothing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India. Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females – the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex.”the washington post

Inside the black market hummingbird love charm trade

“Had I typed in my credit card number, I’d have been committing a felony. Multiple federal and international wildlife laws protect hummingbirds and most other feathered animals from being bought and sold ... YouTube voodoo starring dead hummingbirds isn’t just some weird internet thing – it’s a peek inside the dark world of a mysterious international trade that may pose a serious threat to a group of animals already facing declines from habitat loss and climate change.” national geographic

Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy when they’re ordained. But when they break that vow, their children are left to live a lie

“The Vatican appears to have no data on the number of clergy who break their vows of celibacy and father children. But with more than 400,000 Roman Catholic priests ministering to 1.1 billion Catholics, offspring are likely to be found across the globe ... In Canada alone, about 20 sons and daughters of priests have personally contacted Coping International, a recently formed online support group out of Ireland that is pushing the Roman Catholic Church and its priests to acknowledge parental responsibilities.” the toronto star



You heard the bad news about the Great Barrier Reef?

“An underwater heatwave that bleached massive sections of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 was so severe it immediately ‘cooked’ some corals in the northern region, scientists say following the results of a major long-term study. The study also revealed how the bleaching event transformed the makeup of the reef, and removed important habitats for fish and other marine animals.”  abc


Not if you read the News Corp papers.

“Readers of The Courier Mail – by far Queensland’s largest selling newspaper – saw no news at all about the reef online or in print. Last year, a Deloitte Access Economics report placed the value of the reef at around $5.6 billion a year – that is, if you don’t consider the reef to be priceless – so its destruction would be quite a big deal for the people of Queensland, but you would barely know that by reading News Corp papers.”  junkee


and finally:

The Queen’s corgis are dead: long live the ‘dorgis’

“The Queen’s last remaining corgi has died, it has been reported. Willow, who was almost 15, was put down after suffering from cancer, making it the first time the monarch has not owned a corgi since the end of the second world war. Willow was the 14th generation descended from Susan, a corgi gifted to the then Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944. The Queen has owned more than 30 dogs of the breed during her reign.” the guardian