Saturday, November 04, 2006

Government destroys jobs -- They're good at that

I have already posted about this myself on several blogs -- e.g. here

Ashley and Nicola Bywater say they have never claimed a cent from the Australian taxpayer and their two businesses employ seven workers. But the English immigrants could soon be on a plane back to Britain and their staff thrown out of work because of an immigration dispute. The immigration department has ruled that the couple's teashop and grocery store in Wynnum on Brisbane's bayside are not generating enough turnover for the couple to become permanent residents. Yesterday the couple put up For Sale signs and warned staff they may soon lose their jobs.

Customers said they were outraged the hard-working couple may have to quit Queensland while Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali - who claimed that western women were to blame for rapes - is welcome to stay in Australia. "We'd be devastated if we had to go back to England - we've poured everything we have into our business," said Mr Bywater, 42. "We've never claimed a cent from the Government and we've paid all our taxes. We just want to stay here and build our lives in Wynnum."

The couple's Pommes Teashop imports traditional English snacks and foodstuffs to satisfy the cravings of ex-patriate Brits on the bayside. The teashop has been featured on Queensland TV shows and the BBC and recently opened a nearby store to cope with the growing demand from English and Australian customers. John Wearne, 60, is a teashop regular. "It's nice place with a relaxing atmosphere," he said. "Ashley and Nicola have had the guts to build it up from nothing and they deserve to keep going." The annual combined turnover of the two businesses must be at least $200,000 for the couple to be awarded permanent resident status. After GST is deducted, their turnover is $189,000.

A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs said: "We are happy to have further discussions with these people but will not be canvassing their options through the media.


Habitual pedophile: Some sense at long last

A pedophile will remain in jail past the expiry of his nine-year jail sentence after a successful application to keep him behind bars. Keith Albert Beattie, 64, was due to be released from jail soon but will now remain in custody. He was sentenced in November 1997 to nine years' jail after pleading guilty to maintaining an unlawful relationship of a sexual nature with a child under 16 years.

After hearing evidence in an application by then attorney-general Linda Lavarch, under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003, Justice John Helman found Beattie was an unacceptable risk and should be subject to a continuing detention order. In a written judgment, which became available yesterday, Justice Helman said there was no doubt in his view that despite Beattie's age he would be a serious danger to the community if released. "Any expression of remorse or willingness to try to overcome his impulses must, in the light of his history, be treated with great scepticism," he said.

Justice Helman said Beattie had refused to participate in the high intensity sexual offending program but had he done so there would have been some confidence in releasing him under a supervision order. Justice Helman said Beattie's offending had been persistent since he first came before the courts on traffic and dishonesty charges in the 1960s and '70s. However, since the late-1970s Beattie had regularly faced child-sex charges.

Justice Helman said Beattie had first been before the courts on sexual offences in September 1978 when he faced charges for assaulting males and assault with intent to commit buggery. The two boys involved were aged five. He absconded on those charges and was not dealt with until he was jailed for 18 months in 1994, when he faced the Lismore District Court.

Justice Helman said that in Brisbane, in 1984, Beattie had been placed on two years' probation after being convicted of gross indecency with a boy and was later jailed for a month in Victoria on an assault charge. Beattie was jailed for two years and four months in the Brisbane District Court in June 1989 after pleading guilty to indecent dealing and carnal knowledge against the order of nature involving two boys. In Brisbane in July 1997 Beattie pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent dealing with a child and was jailed for 18 months. It was while serving those sentences Beattie was jailed for nine years on his current sentence.


Aboriginal reservations unfixable

The three-year trial of a new kind of service delivery at a remote Northern Territory indigenous community has been described as "buggered up" and "off the rails". An independent report into the trial at Wadeye, southwest of Darwin, found that the agreement governing service delivery was not working.

Confusion about its goals and priorities, the absence of flexible funding arrangements, ad hoc applications for money, an increased burden on the local council, "departmentalism" and a lack of communication had sealed its fate, the report found. Its author, Bill Gray, a former Commonwealth electoral commissioner, said young people - held responsible for much of the rioting that beset the town earlier this year - had fallen between the cracks and needed urgent attention.

Following a decision by the Council of Australian Governments, the 2500-strong community of Wadeye was chosen in 2002 as one of the trial sites for a new kind of service delivery to Aborigines involving all three tiers of government. A shared responsibility agreement to manage the trial was implemented in March 2003, with the involvement of the local council, the NT Government and the Commonwealth.

But a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra yesterday descended into a slanging match between the Federal Opposition and the public servants responsible for administering the trial, from the Department of Family and Community Services. Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Senator Chris Evans said the trial had gone "off the rails". "This report says you've buggered it up," he said.

But department secretary Jeff Harmer insisted it was a joint trial, and all governments should shoulder responsibility, but he admitted the Commonwealth could have done better. "I don't believe that the Department of Family and Community Services did a fantastic job," Dr Harmer said.


How about improving the service instead?

Security guards are being deployed at Centrelink offices to stop violence against staff. Almost 30 offices around the country have resorted to using security guards to protect staff from daily verbal and physical abuse.

Figures tabled in Federal Parliament show 758 staff have been assaulted by welfare recipients over the past two years. There has been more than 13,300 cases of verbal abuse over the same period and police were called to Centrelink premises 875 times last year. Human Services Minister Joe Hockey said Centrelink had well-established policies and procedures for dealing with the abuse.

Opposition public accountability spokesman Kelvin Thomson said the use of security guards was a sign of failure. Mr Thomson said addressing the lengthy queues would help reduce the level of violence at Centrelink offices.

Welfare groups have warned the level of violence against Centrelink officers would increase if they were given the power to enter and search premises to investigate fraud.


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