Thursday, July 03, 2008

Police goons again

A BRISBANE grandfather, whom police pinned to the ground when they arrested him, is at the centre of calls for Police Minister Judy Spence's sacking. Bruce Rowe, 67, was pinned to the ground and kneed when arrested for being a public nuisance. Now the case has sparked calls for Ms Spence to be stood down over the way police treated him.

The Queensland Court of Appeal last week quashed the conviction of Mr Rowe, whose arrest under the state's controversial "move-on" laws, attracted substantial public attention in 2006 after it was captured on video. The video showed four officers pinning the elderly man to the ground, one repeatedly kneeing him in the leg.

The incident arose after Mr Rowe objected to being asked to leave a public bathroom in the Queen Street Mall. He had gone to the bathroom to change into warm clothing to set up "camp" on the Goodwill Bridge for the night. However, the Queensland Court of Appeal last week overturned Mr Rowe's conviction and the case is being hailed by civil libertarians as proof police need to review how they use the so-called "move-on" powers.

Writing in today's Courier-Mail, Queensland Council for Civil Liberties vice-president Peter Applegarth has called for Premier Anna Bligh to sack Ms Spence for failing to act since Mr Rowe's case first came to light. "It is time for the Police Minister to take political responsibility for a system that trains and encourages police to use excessive force in arresting people like Mr Rowe," Mr Applegarth writes.

Mr Rowe, who became homeless after he "fell apart" following the death of his wife from breast cancer five years ago, said yesterday he would never again trust the police. "I lived so dangerously for so long on the streets and the only people that harmed me were the people meant to protect me," Mr Rowe said. He is now off the streets after a "kind" stranger provided him with free accommodation at Woolloongabba.

Ms Spence said yesterday she had asked police for a report on the Court of Appeal ruling and whether there were any implications for training and procedures.


Fixed plane had 60 defects - union

Unions are inclined to exaggerate but this one does sound bad

A plane returned from overseas maintenance last week with 60 defects that should have been fixed, including a galley that was not bolted in, a senate inquiry into aviation safety has been told. The inquiry is assessing the effectiveness of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) management and regulations and ways in which its rules could be tightened.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), which represents the industrial, technical and professional interests of engineers and other maintenance workers, told senators the quality of overseas work was not up to standard. It cited the example of an aircraft that returned from overseas last week with 60 defects that should have been fixed. "That aircraft has had faults such as earth wires not being connected which caused an electric shock to flight attendants in the galley," ALAEA senior industrial officer Gary Norris said. The work had been signed off by the airline, which had implemented a customer inspection requirement in its commercial contract, he said.

"Upon further investigation we were advised by our members, and we haven't had the documentation to verify it but we had been advised that, effectively, the securing bolts for the actual galley assembly may not have been secured," he told the inquiry. "And we're looking at a mass of approximately 300 kilos in an aircraft that hasn't been secured properly.

"This is a major concern in that the paper system that, in fact, the airlines rely on to ensure the work's done, is not making the link to the practical application of that paperwork." ALAEA spokesman Stephen Re, who gave evidence on behalf of engineers, said it highlighted concerns with the accreditation of overseas facilities. Mr Re said evidence suggested there was no process for the aviation authority to go to look at a plane being worked on in an overseas facility.


Australians in Britain returning home

They are the boomerang migrants. Thousands of Australians who settled here are returning down under to escape the UK's economic slowdown and its spiralling cost of living. The Australian authorities have seen a 50% jump in the number of their citizens returning home from Britain since the credit crunch last summer.

Experts say that rising numbers of migrants from Poland, India and Nigeria are also quitting the UK for better jobs and the hope of a higher standard of living back home. Analysis this weekend has shown that the cost of running a family has grown by more in Britain than in any other country in the western world.

The exodus of foreign workers is already harming the building industry and causing alarm in the Square Mile. According to figures kept by the Australian government, 2,600 of their citizens have been returning home each month since last June. That compares with 1,750 a month between 2000 and 2005. Many Australians have been enticed back to their homeland by job opportunities created by a punchy economy that has grown by 3.6% over the past year.

The impact is likely to be much more serious than in previous decades when many Australian migrants to Britain were young travellers content to pull pints. The majority of Australians working in the UK are now employed in financial services and other professions, according to TNT, the magazine for Australians working in Britain.

Jason Cartwright, a director of Link Recruitment, an international employment agency, said the UK was already suffering a "brain drain" of Australian workers from the City. "In the UK's financial services sector, hiring freezes are increasingly common - but opportunities abound in the Australian market," he said. "There is also a belief that Australia is a safer bet while the credit crunch runs its course."

By contrast, City firms in London are expected to shed 6,500 jobs this year, with the economy predicted to grow by 1.7% - its lowest rate since 1992. On Friday, official figures showed that economic growth halved to 0.3% in the first quarter of this year. The Australian dollar hit an 11-year high against the pound in May, meaning Australians' sterling earnings have fallen by 21%in dollar terms over the past year.

Wiriaya Plukavec, 31, came to London from Sydney two years ago to work as a credit controller in the City. She plans to return home in the next few weeks. "I was going to stay another year but just got fed up with the cost of everything going up - bills, food, toiletries, rent, going out - everything," Plukavec said. "Life will just be a whole lot cheaper back in Sydney . . . and the weather will be better."

Chris Hurd, an Australian film-maker, returned to Sydney three months ago after a decade in Brighton. Hurd, 45, and his wife found new jobs easy to find. "We could never have raised a family in London - the cost is prohibitive," he said. "You can't get a rudimentary education in England without paying a fortune."

Nicola Brennan, 35, moved back to Melbourne earlier this year after 10 years working as an accountant for an investment bank. "My husband and I decided to return to Australia because we felt it was a much better place to start a family," she said.

Research published this weekend by the Economic Research Institute think tank shows that the annual housing, food, travel and other costs of a typical middle-class family of three in London has soared to 38,880 pounds - an increase of 2,160 in four months, a bigger rise than in any other main western city. The same standard of living now cost 32,706 in Sydney and 28,664 in Los Angeles.

There are no precise data on the number and nationality of migrants who have left over the past year; however, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the left-leaning think tank, has surveyed hundreds of migrants of all nationalities about their plans to leave. It calculates that half of the estimated 1m Polish plumbers, builders and other labourers who have arrived in Britain over the past four years have now returned home.

Britain's worsening economic climate is expected to drive more migrant workers back to their homelands. The cost of all foods have risen by an average of 6% this year, but the price of staples such as milk, butter, eggs, pasta and bread have risen by as much as 60%. Petrol prices have risen by 22%.

Government figures published on Friday showed that British savers tucked away 2.6 billion in the first quarter of this year - down from 7 billion on the final three months of last year.


Victorian government ignores Greenie hysteria

New $750 million coal-burning power station

Just two days before the Garnaut report on climate change is handed down, the Victorian Government has given the go-ahead to a new brown-coal power station in Latrobe Valley. Environmental campaigners said it was "complete madness" to approve the $750 million plant, but the Government said the station would use new technology that would slash greenhouse gas emissions.

The project is a joint venture between consortium HRL and Chinese power giant Harbin Power, and will receive funding of $100 million from the Federal Government and $50 million from the Victorian Government. Expected to begin operating in 2012/13, it will aim to boost Victoria's power capacity by just under 5 per cent.

"The $750 million HRL plant will use technology which has been developed right here in Victoria and is part of the new generation of clean coal power stations designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions," said the Energy Minister, Peter Batchelor. "The project uses a process called integrated drying gasification combined cycle (IDGCC) which can reduce emissions of CO2 from brown coal-fired power generation by 30 per cent and reduce water consumption by 50 per cent, compared to current best practice for brown coal power generation in the Latrobe Valley."

Greenpeace energy campaigner Simon Roz said investing in coal-fired power at this time was "complete madness" and a step back for Victoria. "It shows we have a long way to go before governments take the issue of climate change seriously," he said.


No comments: