Monday, June 15, 2009

Ting Tong

When Tovarich Toaf and some of his comrades on the Australian Left refer to me on their own blogs, they refer to me as John "Ting Tong" Ray -- evidently under the impression that they are characterizing me in some discreditable or at least risible way. So I thought I might mention what that is all about. They are referring to a poem I wrote many years ago. Yes. Some Australian Leftist bloggers even read my poetry! If that is not risible, I don't know what would be. I am sure nobody else reads it!

I put the poem online under the following heading: "I used to write poetry when I was young. I don't think much of it now but I reproduce some of it below for what interest it might have". I reproduce the poem concerned below:


Ting tong, tingtong
The air melts in song
The song of sad happiness
The song of old sadness

Slow, fast, slowfast
The word of the last
Man on earth singing
A song heavenwards winging.

Yes. That is the bit of trivia that has fascinated them. Hard to believe really.

I believe that I ate tofu once (pies, sausages and burgers are more to my liking) and found it rather squishy so perhaps in future I should refer to Toaf/Tofu as Damian "Squishy" Doyle.

Disgraceful Victoria police attitudes on display once again

As shown by what they call their anti-corruption branch. As a psychologist, I would be tempted to see it as "projection"

POLICE caught using derogatory names to describe the force's internal investigators in Victoria will face possible criminal charges. An angry Chief Commissioner Simon Overland is trying to stamp out the nickname "the filth" - commonly used by rank and file officers to deride the Ethical Standards Department. The department, which used to be nicknamed the "toecutters", investigates complaints against police, suspected corruption and incidents such as police shootings where officers could be at fault.

But the Police Association has hit out at Mr Overland's tough stance, saying officers at fault should be educated, not hit with a "big stick".

Mr Overland has outlined his hardline policy in recent addresses to officers, telling them anyone who brands the ESD "the filth" will be disciplined. "The Chief Commissioner has made it clear that he will not tolerate this type of behaviour and believes strongly in the work being undertaken by the experienced and professional ESD investigators," his spokeswoman said. "Depending on the nature of the comments, Mr Overland was making it clear that further action would be considered." Officers caught using the derogatory nicknames would be subject to Victoria Police's disciplinary process and charges would be considered, she said.

Police Association secretary Sen-Sgt Greg Davies said he was aware of the use of the disparaging name and discouraged it. But the solution was to better educate police about the work of the ESD, rather than punishing them, he said. "Why would you take a punitive path and punish people when it may simply be that what is said is said in ignorance and not spite," he said. "Educate people, you may just solve the problem, rather than belting them with a big stick."


Labor Party in power emboldens union thugs

Surge in building site standover tactics

CRIMINAL and thuggish behaviour on building sites has soared to record levels as militant unions engage in a campaign of fear and intimidation. As the Federal Government prepares for a stoush with union leaders, a record 69 cases of unlawful activity are being investigated by the industry watchdog. Police are also investigating union threats against Australian Building and Construction Commission staff – including claims of racial, sexual and physical assault.

Union leaders are urging the Government to water down special laws that allow building workers to be compelled to give evidence in court. But yesterday Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard rejected this union push and said the Government was committed to retaining special powers to combat lawlessness in the $70 billion construction industry. Ms Gillard will take draft legislation to a meeting of Labor MPs in Canberra tomorrow. "We gave the Australian people a promise and we will be honouring that promise," she said. Her comments ensure a government tussle with union leaders – and many ALP delegates – when the Labor Party holds its showcase national conference in late July.

Building employers claim the level of union thuggery is getting worse – and these concerns are backed up by official ABCC data. Victoria remains the standout state for industrial thuggery – accounting for nearly 50 per cent of current investigations by the watchdog. Western Australia and New South Wales are also key trouble spots as unions defy the economic downturn – and rising unemployment – to step up industrial action. Among the most common forms of illegal activity are union delegates calling illegal wildcat strikes on building sites – in some cases defying orders for workers to return to work.

The industry watchdog is also recording a growing number of cases of union delegates illegally entering building sites – breaching so-called "right of entry" provisions.

The Federal Government plans to disband the ABCC later this year. It will be replaced by a new building industry "cop on the beat", which will be a specialist division within the Government's Fair Work Australia.

In an interview, the head of the ABCC, John Lloyd, said he remained concerned by the level of thuggery on building sites. "The conduct that we continue to see is unacceptable and would not be tolerated in other industries," he said. Mr Lloyd called on the Government to retain special "coercive" powers that compel witnesses to give evidence.

The ABCC was established in 2005 by the former Howard Government after the Cole Royal Commission found an industrial culture on building sites that was riddled with rorts. But the building unions have criticised the ABCC for using Gestapo-type tactics. In April, tens of thousands of building workers marched in cities around Australia, calling for the Government to get rid of the ABCC altogether.

Mr Lloyd said the industry still needed special powers to keep unions in check. "The danger is that we would revert to circumstances where people refused to co-operate with investigations – and so investigations would probably stall," he said.

Master Builders Association chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said employers had noticed a big increase in illegal union activity since the election of the Rudd Labor Government. The unions, he said, "feel emboldened they can return to the days of union thuggery".


Police use Tasers as punishment

They set themselves up as judge and jury. There have been similar cases in the USA

ALMOST two years after his son was hit with a Taser three times while handcuffed at a police watchhouse, Bryan Cook is still waiting for answers. A complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission is still being investigated. And Mr Cook has had no response from the Police Minister or Police Commissioner to his request for the guidelines covering Taser use.

He said he was prompted to speak out about his frustrating battle with authorities after Friday's death of amphetamines addict Antonio Galeano after he was repeatedly hit with a police Taser. "I predicted someone would die from Tasers, and now unfortunately someone has," Mr Cook said. "I have no doubt they will find some health problem that caused this man's death but until there are clear guidelines I fear there will be more deaths."

On August 11, 2007, Mr Cook's son, Nathan, was arrested after a fight outside the Alexandra Hills Hotel. Nathan, who was 23, said he was punched in the mouth during the arrest before being placed handcuffed in a Cleveland watchhouse cell. He became verbally abusive and aggressive when he saw his sister, 18, being frog-marched into another cell, and was taken from his cubicle and allegedly hit repeatedly by a Taser. In his police statement, Nathan said: "I screamed in agony each time and after the third hit I fell to the ground crying."

The incident happened just over a month into a 12-month trial of Tasers and yesterday the Queensland Police Service acknowledged it had learned a lot since then. "The incident ... occurred early in the Taser trial, and it is worth noting that the guidelines on Taser use and the training our officers receive altered considerably as a result of lessons learned during the trial," it said in a statement to The Courier-Mail. It said that Taser deployments were down significantly since the trial ended, with police finding it was generally enough to present the weapon to make offenders comply.

Mr Cook said he did not object to police using Tasers "where officers were being threatened with weapons". "But they also have a duty of care to people in their custody," he said.

The QPS spokesman said arrangements would be made this week to provide Mr Cook with a copy of the Commissioner's circular on Taser use.


Crooked private school still gets Federal "stimulus" cash

Typical of the low level of care that we expect of "stimulus" spending

AN elite Melbourne private school has been showered with new government infrastructure funding despite being under threat of deregistration for chronic mismanagement, including hiring a fake teacher and breaching the rules for its annual federal grants.

Melbourne Montessori School will receive $847,000 of taxpayer funds to build a new hall and classroom as part of more than $6billion in new funding announced by Education Minister Julia Gillard over the past week. Yet the private primary school, which commands fees of about $7000 for its students, is mired in controversy; about 20 families, representing almost 10 per cent of the school's 256 students, are taking legal action against the school. In March, a review by school watchdog the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority warned that the problems at the Montessori school were so severe it "no longer complies with the prescribed minimum standards for registration as a school".

In a desperate effort to survive, the school's board last week dismissed principal Nicolette Correy and briefed authorities about steps taken belatedly to comply with state and federal standards of governance.

Parents who have had children at the school say they have been failed by both the school's former management and also by Victorian regulatory authorities, which they say failed to step in and take decisive action when told of the school's problems. Sean Macdermott's daughter Sadhbh was taught by a fake teacher, Renai Brochard, who used another teacher's identification to get a job with the school in 2006 and 2007. "You take your child to school each day and you trust your school to protect them and it's really scary for a parent when it doesn't happen," Mr Macdermott said.

He was one of several parents to confront the school about Ms Brochard's qualifications when he noticed that she appeared to lack the most basic teaching skills, much less those associated with the alternative, Montessori philosophy. However, Ms Correy and the school board dismissed their complaints and insisted Ms Brochard was a qualified teacher. It was not until the end of the 2007 school year that the Victorian Institute of Teaching found ms Brochard had faked her teaching qualification.

Late last year, at the urging of parents, the VRQA examined the management of the school and in March it produced a damning report saying children were being taught by staff who had a Montessori background but who were not qualified teachers. It also found the school failed to comply with basic governance requirements including legal obligations to report on the performance of the school, its teachers and its students.

The failure to produce these reports meant the school was in breach of its legal requirements when it received $1.35 million in federal funding over the past three years. Parents have withdrawn about 30 students from the school in the past 18 months.

Now about 20 families are taking legal action against the school's insurer to recoup fees and other expenses incurred during the time when their children were being taught by Ms Brochard.

The head of the school's new board, Tony Swain, said the school was taking steps to put its troubled past behind it. "We have tried to deal with the problems that were plaguing the school in 2008 that led to a number of families leaving," Mr Swain said.


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