Thursday, May 28, 2009


A feast of news today about some of the wonderful government "services" that you pay for via your taxes. We start below with three current articles about our fine police services

Abusive police in court

I can see no reason why police should abuse suspects so I hope they lose this one. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence and in this case the accused WERE innocent. There was not even enough evidence to take them to court. Unless they are being physically attacked, the police should be polite at all times -- as in the old British tradition

THREE men questioned by police on Sydney streets are suing the New South Wales Government, saying the officers made defamatory comments about them within earshot of passers-by. Alleged statements such as "we are stopping you because you guys were ... intending to steal" could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and restrict the way police conduct routine investigations, The Australian reports.

The NSW Government recently tried to have the men's cases thrown out of court. However, a NSW District Court judge not only gave the two separate cases the go-ahead, but ordered the Government to pay the men's legal costs. Payouts of up to $250,000 can be awarded if comments are found to be defamatory.

In both cases, none of the men can identify any members of the public who are said to have heard and witnessed the alleged defamatory comments made by the officers, but the court ruled they did not have to provide further details because it would be an "unnecessary expense" at that stage of proceedings.

In the first case, David Moses and Tangiwai Kawenga are suing the police for defamation over an incident in inner-city McEvoy Street in September last year. Police arrived after receiving a call that a criminal offence had taken place and arrested and charged the pair. At the time, one of the officers allegedly said to Mr Moses: "You're robbing women", "you're a thief", and "you have stolen from women". Mr Kawenga claims a police officer said to him: "You're under arrest -- you're a piece of shit ... you're f**ked -- you're going to jail."

The pair say officers were speaking "in a loud voice within the hearing of passers-by and residents of premises adjoining George Street, many of whom were standing at and near their front fence observing the police and (Mr Moses and Mr Kawenga)", according to court documents. Mr Kawenga tried to argue that the words "you're under arrest" were also defamatory but this was knocked out by judge Judith Gibson last week and he and Mr Moses were ordered to pay costs.

The charges against the pair were later dropped and no further action was taken against them.

In the other case, police were called to the exclusive watch store TAG Heuer, in Sydney's King Street luxury shopping precinct, in June last year. Staff had pressed the "hold-up button" while Michael Lassanah and another man were in the store. Police arrived shortly afterwards.

Mr Lassanah said he was defamed when police spoke to him on the footpath outside and allegedly said: "The manager of the TAG shop said you were intending to steal from the shop. We are stopping you because you guys were in the TAG shop intending to steal. You were intending to steal. Don't go into that shop. You were intending to steal."

Mr Lassanah is suing for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment and says police kept him on the footpath for an hour and searched him "in the presence of the general public".

Seeking to have the cases dismissed, the NSW Government unsuccessfully argued in the District Court that it was protected by defences available to the defamation laws. The matter will return to court in September.

NSW Police have yet to give their version of events. But a spokesman said yesterday: "It should be noted that this is an interim finding only and not final, and police will leave it in the hands of the courts to make a decision. The NSW Police Force has always stood behind its officers who carry out their duties in good faith."


Murder calls to police emergency number ignored

A CIVILIAN police radio operator in Queensland ignored two triple-0 calls which may have helped save a man's life, it has been revealed. Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said the calls were received at the Maroochydore Police Communications Centre on Monday night, about 10 minutes apart. Both calls are believed to have been made by a woman screaming that someone was in trouble.

Mr Atkinson said it was "highly likely" both calls related to the death of a 48-year-old man whose body was found near a Nambour creek about 6.30am (AEST) on Tuesday. James Albert Madden, 23, of Nambour, has been charged with the man's murder. Kilah Johnelle Jones, 17, of Yandina, faced Maroochydore Magistrate's Court yesterday charged with being an accessory. Jones was granted bail, while Madden did not appear yesterday and his case was adjourned for six weeks.

Mr Atkinson yesterday admitted it was his "biggest fear" that the man's death could been prevented had information from the 000 calls been relayed to police. "The person who took the calls is a civilian radio operator . . . who has been in that position for six months," Mr Atkinson said. "He brought the matter to light today when he became aware of the murder charge and related it to the two phone calls he received on Monday night."

An inquiry has been launched by the Ethical Standards Command. "The investigation will focus on the origin, nature and appropriateness of any response to any such call," Mr Atkinson he said. He said a civilian radio operator usually would pass on such information to the duty sergeant at the communications centre. "It's early days yet but it doesn't appear as though that happened," he said. "We have grave concerns that this information that was provided at the time was not acted on." [I'm guessing that the operator brought the matter up because he DID pass the info on to the cops]


More useless police

Emergency calls 'not answered'. It is common in the USA for police to arrive within a couple of minutes of a robbery call, often quickly enough to catch the robbers. That's a dream in Australia

South Australia's Police Minister has ordered a review of the emergency response to an armed hold-up at Torrensville in Adelaide. Witnesses to the robbery at Grech Jewellers on Monday afternoon say they were put on hold for up to 10 minutes when they tried to telephone 000. When shop owner Bruce Bubner heard a gunshot at the jewellery shop, he says he called 000 straight way. But he says he waited eight minutes, then hung up.

"It was worrying that David (jeweller) could have been lying in there waiting for the police to arrive, you know, he could have been injured," he said. "I saw other people on the phone as well and I figured that they had made contact. "As it turns out, when I talked to Theresa at the snack bar, she hadn't made contact either."

Opposition police spokesman David Ridgway says the lack of response is a worry. "The system if it can't cope then it needs to be upgraded or there needs to be a full explanation about why that happened," he said.

Witnesses say police took 20 minutes to arrive. SA Police Minister Michael Wright has ordered a report on the response. "I don't think we should make any assumptions at this stage. What we do know is there was a very high volume and that may have caused the difficulty," he said. Police are searching for the two men armed with a shotgun and a tomahawk who robbed the store.



Three current articles below

Publicity squeezes some decency out of NSW Health

NSW Health will pay for the accommodation costs of a Melbourne family forced to quarantine themselves in a Sydney high-rise apartment at $300 a night.

The D'Arcy family were on board the Pacific Dawn, which berthed in Sydney on Monday despite suspicions two young boys on board had the swine flu virus. The ship is now en route to Port Douglas, after skipping scheduled stops in the Whitsundays. Passengers will be unable to disembark until test results are known.

Nicholas D'Arcy, 6, was diagnosed with influenza A while on board the vessel, but was allowed to disembark with his family on Monday with other cruise passengers despite the possibility he had swine flu.

At 8.30pm (AEST) that day his parents Fiona and John were eventually told by NSW Health that Nicholas had the A(H1N1) virus - after a day spent taking in Sydney tourist attractions such as the Opera House, Chinatown and Paddy's Markets.

The family of four are now quarantined in their World Square apartment in central Sydney, where they have complained of having to pay the $300 a night bill and $150 for room service. NSW Health had refused to help them, the family told The Daily Telegraph.

However, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant apologised to the D'Arcys today for their treatment, and offered to pay for the next four nights. “Last night we had contacted the family to indicate that we would pay for the next four nights accommodation,” Dr Chant said. “(We said) we would obviously pay for room service or groceries, and that we'd also look into some special requests in relation to toys for the young child.”

NSW now has a total of 18 confirmed swine flu cases, with a further 265 people awaiting test results. NSW health authorities are under fire for letting passengers disembark from the Pacific Dawn. Eighteen swine flu cases have now been recorded from that cruise ship, including six Queensland residents who have returned home.


Broke NSW government hospitals

SOME of Sydney's largest public hospitals frequently run out of medical supplies because they have debts of millions of dollars and the consultants PricewaterhouseCoopershave been called in to help stop the problem deteriorating. The authority running western Sydney's public hospitals owes suppliers nearly twice as much as previously acknowledged, according to internal figures that reveal for the dire state of its true financial position.

Doctors say unpaid bills mean hospitals frequently run out of supplies such as pathology chemicals and glucose tests for pregnant women, putting further stress on overworked staff. As of Tuesday, the troubled Sydney West Area Health Service - which runs Westmead, Nepean and other hospitals across western Sydney and the Blue Mountains - owed $43.7 million in invoices unpaid for at least 30 days. This included $14.6 million invoiced 90 days or more earlier, according to the figures obtained by the Herald.

The amount is far in excess of the $27 million a spokeswoman said remained unpaid at the end of April. About 400 suppliers are understood to have negotiated arrangements with the service, allowing them to be paid later than normal 30-day trading terms.

PricewaterhouseCoopers had been appointed to "provide financial management support", an area spokeswoman acknowledged yesterday, in a sign that administrators' are struggling to control their budgets.

The medical equipment supplier Synthes, which provides plates and pins for orthopedic surgery, the heart device supplier Medtronic and medical imaging company Olympus, are understood to be owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in one case more than $1 million. None of the companies would comment yesterday. A Medical Technology Association of Australia spokeswoman confirmed Sydney West was still paying 54 per cent of its invoices after the 30-day due date - compared to a 43 per cent state average - though this had improved since January, when the Government ordered all area health services to reduce their debts.

The appointment of external financial management is in addition to an external inquiry into the management of Westmead Hospital and the area health service, ordered by the Government after doctors complained their clinical expertise was being overridden by bureaucrats. According to a submission to that inquiry by Westmead's medical staff council, obtained by the Herald, staff morale was "at its worst point in the 30-year history of Westmead" as doctors and nurses distrusted management and were excluded from high-level decisions.

Andrew Pesce, chairman of Westmead's medical staff council, said the hospital frequently ran out of important supplies, such as reagent chemicals for diagnostic tests and bottles of glucose to test for diabetes in pregnant women, after unpaid suppliers refused new orders. "There's no more fat left in the system. We can't make any more progress by trimming here and there and drawing out creditor payments," Dr Pesce said.

Nepean Hospital was forced to suspend elective surgery yesterday morning when it ran out of supplies of essential anaesthetic equipment. But the area spokeswoman said this was caused by, "inadequate stock management" that did "not relate to the withholding of stock by suppliers." An inadequate supply of props to hold open patients' airways during surgery led doctors to halt surgery, resulting in several operations being delayed and one cancelled.

Dr Patrick Cregan, Nepean's clinical director of surgery, said the hospital was operating, "on paper-thin margins". Supplies of equipment necessary for patient safety were constantly on the verge of running out and doctors were unable to get authorisation to order new stock, he said.


Go to hospital. Catch swine flu

Queensland Health in its usual fine form

POTENTIAL swine flu victims are mingling with other out-patients at the first specialist clinic set up by Queensland Health to deal with the H1N1 flu crisis. The clinic, which opened yesterday at the Gold Coast's Robina Hospital, is in an area separated from the main accident and emergency ward only by a room divider.

While medical staff and paramedics wear full bio-suits and protective masks when dealing with potential swine flu victims, general outpatients enter through the same door as those visiting the flu clinic and are not issued with masks. The flu clinic waiting area is only a few metres from the outpatient waiting room. Queensland Health yesterday refused to let the media film inside the flu clinic because of the risk of infection.

Lee Daley, who was taking her 11-year-old daughter Taleea to the ward to have a broken arm checked, was frightened they could be exposed to swine flu. "I just think the clinic should be in an isolated room, not in the accident and emergency ward where people who might have swine flu are mixing with other outpatients," she said. "Everyone knows how germs can be spread through air-conditioning." Mrs Daley and her daughter opted to wait outside the hospital and were given face masks only after they requested them.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said the clinic had been established to take the concentration of people with flu-like symptoms away from the Gold Coast Hospital emergency department. Dr Young said individuals will be asked to go to separate waiting rooms when presenting with flu-like symptoms. She said the clinic's waiting room was "appropriately signed to ensure individuals presenting with flu-like symptoms are in a contained area".



Two current articles below

NSW: Young boy raped while in custody of notorious child "protection" agency

It took the police to rescue the boy after the agency did nothing

A YOUNG boy was raped and abused by a foster carer after Department of Community Services failed to act on a father's warning that his son was being invited into the pervert's bedroom at night.

The Daily Telegraph reports DOCS' shame will be complete tomorrow when the pedophile foster carer, who cannot be named because of a suppression order, is sentenced in the Downing Centre District Court for having sex with a child under the age of 10 years and two counts of assault with an act of indecency on a child.

It is all too late for the father, from St Ives, who first wrote to DOCS on September 26, 2006, almost 18 months before the pedophile foster carer was arrested. "My son has lost his confidence. The world troubles him. He is afraid of people around him."

DOCS director-general Jenny Mason was forced to apologise to the boy's father yesterday and Community Services Minister Linda Burney admitted she only learned of the case when told by The Daily Telegraph.

In a letter sent in 2006, when his son was just seven years old, the father wrote to the department: "(My son) has told me that he sleeps in (the foster carer's) room. "I find this very strange and of great concern. (My son) has told me that (the carer) has been buying him gifts and toys and taking him on outings to the park and internet cafes. My prime concern is the safety and welfare of (my son) and request you take all steps necessary and possible to investigate these concerns."

He said yesterday a DOCS worker called him and assured him there was no reason for concern because the man in question was a "registered DOCS carer". The man continued caring for his own two sons and the foster son given to him by the department and through a private arrangement he said his former wife had made.

Most of the abuse took place after the letter was sent and it only stopped when the boy confided in his father early in 2008 and the DOCS carer was immediately investigated by Dee Why police.

After learning of the case late last week, Ms Burney ordered the chief of her department to meet with the father to apologise. "The outcomes of recent criminal proceedings have shown that in hindsight the concerns raised by the child's father could have been dealt with differently," she said.

The father met with Ms Mason yesterday and said he was assured there had been a change in procedures to prevent another child suffering like his son. DOCS said in a statement last night staff were "deeply sorry for the pain and suffering experienced by both the child and his family as a result of the sexual abuse". A spokeswoman confirmed measures had been taken "to improve the consistency and timeliness of investigations of allegations against foster carers".


Victoria: Relaxed child protection agency took over a year to act while children were being tortured

TWO children were allegedly tortured with pliers, kicked in the ribs and beaten daily by their stepfather for more than a year after their teachers alerted authorities. The boy, 8, and girl, 7, had bones broken, eyes blackened, lost teeth and had bruises all over their faces and bodies, allegedly as punishment for telling lies or not doing chores. The man pleaded not guilty to 58 charges relating to abuse of the children.

A court heard the children would often return to school from absences of several days with new injuries and implausible explanations for them. Two teachers kept a log of the children's injuries and repeatedly contacted the Department of Human Services. The first report was made in August 2007.

But the court heard the children were not removed from the stepfather's care until October last year, despite several visits by DHS workers to the home and the dozen or more reports by the teachers.

When doctors finally examined them, the boy had a broken left femur and rib as well as five other possible rib fractures, and 29 bruises. The girl had three fractured ribs and 44 bruises, including extensive bruising covering her entire shoulders.

The children's mother said in a statement tendered to the court that she started seeing the man in April 2007 and he began smacking the boy six months later. "I felt powerless and sat there and cried," the mother said, recalling the first time it happened. She said the stepfather began taking both children into their rooms and hitting them every day. "I suspected that the kids were having trouble walking because he was beating them but I never said anything to him or the kids," she said.

She said her partner was a violent man who manipulated and controlled the family, deciding what they ate and forcing the children to sit in a corner all day with their hands on their heads.

She said that when DHS workers visited they were told the injuries were from childhood accidents, or that the boy was harming himself. In October 2007 the boy was taken to hospital with a genital injury he said happened when he "stacked his bike". The boy later told a relative the stepfather had inflicted the serious wound - which required surgery - with pliers.

The stepfather was remanded in custody to face the County Court in August.


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