Monday, June 22, 2009

Homosexuals shoot themselves in the foot

They've just got the equality they agitated for but don't like it -- so now they want special privileges

July 1 should be a day of celebration for the nation's same sex couples, when their relationships will become formally recognised under many federal laws. But many gay and lesbian Australians are finding that equality comes at a price - literally. From next Wednesday, when the law starts to recognise de facto gay couples, Centrelink [Federal welfare office] will also begin taking into account gay partner's incomes when considering eligibility for benefits. So for a university student who lives with a full-time worker, they may lose their Youth Allowance cheques.

But more concerning, for the gay community, is the effect the new laws will have on elderly couples, who could be forced to go from receiving two single pensions to one couple's pension. [which is considerably lower]

Stephen Page, a partner with Harrington Family Lawyers, who runs an Australian Gay and Lesbian Law Blog, said the law change contained a clear "sting in the tail" for those now too old to return to work. "The Government's view is that when they first flagged these changes in 2007, it would allow people time to make a financial adjustment. "But the reality is people have planned their long-term futures on this and the government has changed the rules."

Ray Mackereth, publisher of Q News, a Brisbane-based gay and lesbian newspaper, said suddenly foisting equality on people who'd been discriminated against their entire lives didn't seem fair. [Good Lord! Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it too!] He said for many years elderly gay people had missed out on family tax benefits, medicare benefits, partner benefits or family assistance. "Despite having paid higher taxes all their lives and not being recognised as a same sex couple, now they're going to receive less money in their retirement when their planning was done many years ago," Mr Mackereth said.

"Gay and lesbian people don't want any more than equality; they don't want special rights; they just want to be treated the same as everybody else. "But when somebody's been treated poorly for their entire life and then suddenly the laws are going to treat them poorly again, that makes it awfully tough on those people, especially older people.

Mr Page called on the government to install a grandfather clause, so that people affected kept their current benefits until their situation changed. He said he realised it could be politically difficult to continue paying a gay couple more than a heterosexual couple when they were now recognised as the same by the law. "I can understand the argument but when (a heterosexual couple) decided to retire they would have done research and assessed their finances and they knew what the rules were," Mr Page said. "Gay and lesbian couples did the same thing but now the government has changed the rules. "It's sad that this is happening."

Mr Mackereth said he hoped the issue wouldn't cloud what should otherwise be a great day for the gay and lesbian community. "Equality is a huge thing to celebrate and for most people this is truly a wonderful time," he said. "However there are a few people that will be extremely adversely affected financially, despite their best planning, and we can't let those people fall through the cracks."


An amusing but accurate recollection of Australia's sad gastronomic past

"When I was a kid, lamb was something you had two or three times a week. Lamb chops were overcooked and dished out with terrible mashed potato and frozen peas."


Nowadays I see toddlers around the place eating sushi!

RAKING IN THE CASH: Fury over "Green" Senator Bob Brown’s fundraising scam

Last week Senator Brown, in a soap opera type performance, publicly appealed for donations supposedly to stave off imminent bankruptcy and consequent expulsion from the Senate—a claim backed up dramatically by no less an authority than the Clerk of the Senate, although it is there in black and white in the Constitution, section 44, (iii). Even the hapless lawyer of The Castle could have told Senator Brown that.

Senator Brown’s alleged financial plight was due to having to pay $239,000 in legal costs incurred because of his own personal ill-considered legal challenge to selective logging in the Wielangta forest. This $239,000 comes on top of Senator Brown’s personal costs. According to the Age, Senator Brown said “he had $10,000 cash to his name, and little chance of selling remaining property by the due date. He has already raised more than $600,000 in costs for the case that was lost in the High Court. “I don’t have the money,” he said.


You probably missed it, but Senator Brown slipped into his YouTube broadcast that he actually meant ‘technical bankruptcy’—by which I assume he means not actual or real bankruptcy—but there was no such disclosure in his media release which was faithfully regurgitated by many of the fawning members of the media.

Nor was there any challenge, by the way, to Senator Brown’s vehement condemnation of people who take legal action against him. Legal action against Senator Brown by its very definition, it seems, must be bad. And, of course, legal action, no matter how ill-advised, taken by Senator Brown is also by very definition good. The double standard is easy to ignore if consistency and intellectual rigour and integrity are not part of the framework under which you operate.


We are told Senator Brown’s public appeal resulted in a deluge of support. But what would-be donors were not told last week was that, as at October 2008, Senator Brown’s so-called Wielangta forest fund—but actually the RJ Brown forest account—had already raised $739,000 at a bare minimum. How do we know this? Because, after being shamed into disclosing this fund’s receipts to the register of senators’ interests, Senator Brown had disclosed at least $739,000 in donations by October 2008. Even then he did not detail donations for May to July 2008, nor has he disclosed donations received in the seven months since October 2008. In other words, there are up to 10 months missing.

Clearly the senator does not abide by the same accountability rules he so self-righteously insists be imposed on everybody else. For example, Senator Brown has not disclosed the proceeds of his allegedly successful Wild Photos exhibition held earlier this year. So it follows that prior to his public appeal Senator Brown’s account had undoubtedly received more than the $739,000 he has to date disclosed, and probably significantly more.


Which brings me to the question of Senator Brown’s personal legal costs. So far as the register of senators’ interests is concerned, Senator Brown has only disclosed legal costs of $35,000 for the six months from 1 July 2005 to January 2006. A press release issued by Senator Brown said:

The High Court awarded no costs against Senator Brown because of the public interest of the case … However, the Federal Court’s decision to award costs against Senator Brown may leave him with a bill, including his own representation, of $200,000 to $300,000. However, numerous recent briefings by Senator Brown put his personal legal costs at $600,000.

When pressed on exactly this point last Wednesday evening by Gerard McManus from the Herald Sun, Senator Brown’s office confirmed his personal legal costs were $600,000. Even on this basis, when making his recent appeal he needed less than $100,000 to pay legal costs and maybe nothing at all.


It is extraordinary that, immediately the Herald Sun probed and questioned the apparent healthy state of his fund and the veracity of his claims to be on the verge of bankruptcy, Senator Brown closed down his appeal, saying there had been a huge public response and that any extra money would be put into the campaign to save Australia’s forests.

This includes, the so-called Triabunna 13, individuals facing the Supreme Court for blockading and chaining themselves to machinery, costing struggling contractors tens of thousands of dollars. I wonder how many well-meaning people who gave to save Senator Brown from phantom bankruptcy knew their donations could be used to defend these irresponsible antics.


I understand that Senator Brown is now explaining the discrepancy between what he raised and what he owes by claiming to journalists that his personal legal costs are not $600,000 but $1 million.

Like many of Senator Brown’s claims, this latest claim to be on the verge of personal bankruptcy just does not add up. His approach to fundraising and accountability is reminiscent of Max Bialystok of The Producers.


Senator Brown must now come clean, become accountable, cease flouting his obligations to the Senate and disclose all amounts he has received, when he received them and the amounts paid out and to whom.

The fact is Senator Brown’s legal challenge to selective logging in Wielangta was always ill-advised and dubious.

Sadly, some so-called environmental activists have in the past put cuddly animals on their websites to solicit donations for what are essentially scams, preying upon people’s good nature and gullibility. This latest stunt by Senator Brown, crying poor over legal costs, will be seen in the same light or worse.


For all his talk about Wielangta’s wedge-tailed eagle, the marvellous swift parrot and the ancient stag beetle, the policies advocated by the senator actually contributed to the destruction of their habitat. By this I mean Senator Brown’s calls against selective logging and hyperbole about the mushroom clouds of fuel reduction burns.

Such measures, if allowed, would have mitigated the almost total destruction of Wielangta and the wildlife contained therein in the devastating 2006 bushfire, which killed more stag beetles and destroyed more swift parrot habitat than 100 years of selective harvesting ever did.

The fact is Senator Brown’s legal challenge lost not on a technicality but on the law. Remember the law? It is what everyone else has to abide by unless, it seems, they are a Green crusader. Regrettably, to Senator Brown and his gullible followers, science, the rule of law, accountability and, above all, truth are often relative concepts.

Sadly it seems that, if you bang on enough about how much you really care about forests, some misguided people will give you money—even if you may not need it and even if your policies and legal challenges would see those same forest habitats destroyed.


My challenge to Senator Brown is this: be accountable. Immediately disclose to the Senate, as is required, exactly how much your fund raised prior to last week’s appeal, and disclose and substantiate your progressive personal legal costs. Anything less, Mr President, will be a wholesale abrogation of his duties as a senator and ethically bankrupt.


A most revealing ultimatum from the Victoria Police

Cops told to choose sides -- the crooks or the law! Amazing that such an ultimatum needed to be issued

The state's top anti-corruption cop has warned police who are mates with criminals they must decide between the force and their friends. Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius revealed he was also concerned at links between serving members who were being used by disgraced former colleagues. "If someone feels that passionately about maintaining a relationship - and I want to be clear here, we're talking about avoidable relationships, we're not in the business of busting up families - it comes down to a choice," Mr Cornelius told the Herald Sun in an exclusive interview. "If you value your friendship more highly than your profession, you need to choose between your profession or that relationship."

Since last December, officers have been ordered to make known relationships with criminals, accused criminals, former members convicted or suspected of criminal behaviour and serving members under suspension. Officers' managers can direct a relationship to cease if they deem there is a risk.

The Police Association yesterday said the rules were a "sledgehammer to crack a walnut" but Mr Cornelius said almost all available officers had complied with the system. "It's also given a number of members the courage to say to these individuals, 'We're ruling a line here and I'm not going to associate with you any more'," he said.

Mr Cornelius added: "There are a number of former members convicted of serious criminal offences or suspected of serious criminal offences who seek to actively maintain relationships with serving police. "If there is any serving officer who thinks that relationship is being sought to be maintained for purely social or altruistic reasons, they're kidding themselves. They're being used."

The vast majority of disclosures were of unavoidable links with family members or people from community groups, he said. Mr Cornelius said most of the avoidable associations were with suspended serving police, relationships that are the subject of management plans. "Often these people have worked together for some time, indeed they might be friends, long-standing associates. You need to approach that with some sensitivity. "The critical thing is to make sure we know about it," he said. Mr Cornelius said the policy did not regulate professional contact with criminals - but professional officers were not friends with their informers.

Police Association secretary Sen-Sgt Greg Davies said he supported any measure aimed at stopping police fraternising with criminals. But he said the Police Regulations Act already had rules to deal with the wrongful release of confidential information. "This is all part of a very unhealthy, unhelpful and incorrect perception that there are corrupt police under every bed," Sen-Sgt Davies said. "It's a sledgehammer to crack a walnut."

Mr Cornelius said in the first six months of the policy there had been instances where police had been caught leaking confidential information to "persons of interest to us". "It's clear to us that in those cases, the individual police officers have not submitted declarable association reports in relation to those individuals. "Here is clear evidence that the member knew he or she was doing the wrong thing," Mr Cornelius said.


Another blot on justice in Victoria: A crooked Ombudsman, of all things!

A Labor party worker was fired on the basis of a totally unfounded Ombudsman's report. Crooked police; a bigoted "anti-discrimination" Tribunal: Where will it end? Has Victoria become part of the Middle East? Judging by the level of corruption, it is beginning to look like it

VEXNEWS has obtained a copy of the Department of Justice investigation into the Ombudsman’s allegations regarding Hakki Suleyman, who was adversely named in a recent report by the Ombudsman into the Brimbank council. So much so that in effect some in the media were impliedly arguing that Suleyman had forfeited his right to a) hold a job for which he is well qualified and ideally suited and had performed well in, b) participate in the political party of his choice and c) be involved in his local council.

It is a conclusion they must now reconsider unless they wish to be embroiled in defamation proceedings, in light of the findings of this independent investigation into the Ombudsman’s sensational claims.

Simply, the report vindicates and exonerates Suleyman from the serious claims made against him. It says he was involved - although makes it clear there’s no real evidence of it - in a move by some on the council to break a funding commitment to a soccer club. Hardly the biggest scandal in the world, even if it happened. The independent report makes it very clear that the move by some on the council was reconsidered by those pushing it once they had obtained advice on it. The path to hell may be paved with good intentions but in this case intending to make a council decision for political reasons but then thinking better of it can hardly be said to disqualify Hakki from his full civic rights to be a member of our community. Particularly given that he wasn’t even on the Brimbank council in the first place.

The independent report by the advisory panel damns and expressly repudiates the Ombudsman’s report in terms that most political observers will find stunning.

The advisory panel included a former Victorian Government Solicitor and an ex Chairman of the State Services Authority, two of the exact kind of people who would find themselves appointed Ombudsman should there be a vacancy.

They were investigating whether Suleyman should continue as a JP and found he ought not but that predictable finding is not really the most interesting part of the report.

Its their evaluation of the Ombudsman’s evidence and conclusions that is the juicy part.

Seldom has someone’s removal from office been such good fortune. [For the public light it shines on the Ombudsman]

More HERE.

1 comment:

Paul said...

As one of those homosexuals "shot in the foot", I must admit to reading the new laws, and it occurred to me exactly what you blogged about. Equality has many faces, some not to anyone's advantage, and I had a bit of a chuckle to myself about all those activists who are always telling us what it is we apparently want.