Friday, July 17, 2009

More hostile and stupid behaviour from the Queensland police

Co-operation between police and cabbies has in the past been very helpful in catching criminals but the Queensland goons seem to be doing their best to terminate any such co-operation

"PAYBACK" and "an abuse of power" are how taxi drivers are describing the extraordinary actions of a police officer who fined a cabbie $100 for not pulling up his socks. "That's just ridiculous, just crazy," Cab Drivers' Association of Queensland member Paul Henderson said. "In 18 years that's the first time I've heard of it ... it creates animosity between drivers and police even further." CDAC secretary Lee Sims slammed the fine as "an intimidation just to get even" and "an abuse of power", The Courier-Mail reports.

Mr Sims, who has been critical of Queensland Transport's management of the taxi industry, questioned whether police had the authority to issue the fine and its permissibility in court. He said it was the first time he had heard of such a "petty" notice but conceded drivers by law had to be "neatly dressed" – an area open to interpretation.

The driver advocate said a recent government blitz on Brisbane drivers resulted in cabbies copping $400 fines for not having a 2009 version of a street directory, or for allowing a car's window tinting to peel.

The Courier-Mail yesterday obtained the ticket issued last month to taxi driver Kidd Moors in which the officer claimed the offence was: "Failed to dress neatly". He identified the evidence as "WHT/runners, short running socks".

Queensland Police Service yesterday was unable to respond in time to the newspaper's questions about the harshness of the fine or the frequency such fines were handed out.

Mr Moors, 41, from Narangba, said he intended to fight the "sock fine" in court, along with a fine for not wearing a seat belt.

Mr Henderson said dress rules for drivers included the need to wear a uniformed shirt that was tucked in, business trousers or tailored shorts with long socks pulled up and dress shoes.


More on incompetent QANTAS management

And they are still in denial mode

QANTAS has come under attack for failing to support staff left to deal with angry passengers delayed by a lightning strike in Perth. The Australian Services Union says staff are still furious they were left without enough up-to-date information to pass on to passengers stranded when an Airbus A330 struck by lightning on approach to Perth airport last Friday, reports The Australian.

The aircraft, which was due to operate the red-eye service to Melbourne, was initially grounded for an inspection but was further delayed when the strike proved more serious than first thought. Passengers became increasingly angry because they were not being told what was happening and staff were forced to radio for police help when the situation turned ugly.

The union says staff were left exposed, powerless and intimidated by angry people and it was just a matter of good luck that there was no physical violence.

This view was disputed by Qantas, which said it believed staff were supported on the night by duty managers and operations staff. The airline said it had established an informal working group to investigate the incident and it was confident it could address some of the issues arising from the event.

ASU assistant branch secretary Pat Branson said her members were angry that they were continually forced to bear the brunt of customer anger about problems at Perth only to watch the airline do nothing about it. She said the latest incident was the straw that broke the camel's back. The union took the unusual move of publishing the Perth manager's phone number and urging customers to ring him personally to complain.

Perth airport has been a thorn in Qantas's side and a source of consumer complaints for years. Two years ago, the airline announced it would spend $50 million on its terminal to ease unpleasant congestion during peak periods, including the installation of QuickCheck kiosks, new security screening, an expansion to the departure lounge and a boost to its baggage systems.

But Ms Branson said passengers were still miffed that not enough had been done to solve problems at Perth and the facility was still subject to constant queues. "It's a mess," she said. "The facilities at the Perth domestic airport are the worst I've seen in Australia and they are more crowded."


Feds finally taking some (weak) action against the fraudulent "OzDirect" online traders

I warned about this mob on May 29

THE competition watchdog has taken action against Ozdirect Online Brands for alleged misleading and deceptive conduct. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges the company and its director Paul Albright accepted payment for goods it knew could not be supplied in a reasonable time and misled clients on product availability, likely delivery times of items and refund rights.

In a statement the ACCC accuses Ozdirect of "misleading or deceptive" conduct and that "Mr Albright was knowingly concerned in that conduct". The watchdog alleges that three sections of the Trade Practices Act have been breached

A number of irate consumers have used online forums to vent their frustrations as far back as August 2008, claiming the site took their money. "It's been five weeks, I've still not received anything,'' one user who bought software worth $1000, wrote. "All emails, faxes, customer service centre ... ignored. What a joke!'' said another. "Worst online shopping experience ever,'' rated a third, who added they'd made an official complaint.

On another site in March, 111 people signed a petition asking for the media's help in publicising the issue. The company sells electronic goods on websites including,, and The ACCC wants Ozdirect to stop their alleged conduct, implement a trade practice compliance program and to pay legal costs. This matter has been listed for a hearing on July 24.


Australians are exceptionally successful as immigrants

Probably because life is so good in Australia that only the exceptionally talented have the motive to live elsewhere -- usually in more populous countries such as the UK and the USA -- thus giving their talents greater exposure and use

AUSTRALIAN expatriates are among the richest in the world, with one in five earning more than $US250,000 a year. But almost a third are planning to return home, blaming global economic turmoil for limiting their career prospects.

Research by HSBC Bank Australia, based on a survey of 3100 expats working in 50 countries, found Australians working overseas are living the good life, whereas foreign expats working in Australia have the lowest salaries of all the countries surveyed. Almost half, or 46 per cent, of Australian expats have an extra $US4000 or so in disposable income each month and have hired help such as nannies or cleaners.

However, foreign expats in Australia are the poorest of those surveyed, with 63 per cent earning less than $US100,000 a year.

Graham Heunis, the head of personal finance services at HSBC Australia, said expats in Russia, Asia and the Middle East were the highest paid, with those in Belgium and Australia the poorest.

Despite their lucrative salaries many Australians working overseas are considering moving home because of the global financial crisis. "Expats living in Australia are reporting the lowest salaries, but are nevertheless keen to stay put, while a third of the Australians living overseas are considering a return home," said Mr Heunis.


The real reason I’ll fight in the Senate on climate change

by Senator Steve Fielding

Climate change is real. Yes that’s right, contrary to the misreporting in the media, I do believe in climate change. That might come as a shock to some of those on the left side of politics, but it’s the truth. The question that concerns me, however, is what is driving it? Is it increasing levels of human made carbon dioxide emissions, variations in solar radiation or something else?

Around three months ago one of my advisors pulled me aside and asked me what I thought was driving climate change. I smiled and said automatically that it was obviously a result of increasing carbon dioxide emissions. I had never really looked at the science and just assumed what was reported in the media to be true. Well wasn’t I in for an enormous shock.

My advisor presented me with data and some comments from a number of scientists which suddenly had me asking many questions. This led me to do some further reading and I ultimately decided to head over to Washington on a self funded trip so I could find out more about the science behind climate change.

In the US I met with numerous scientists on both sides of the debate. Some media outlets would have you believe that I met only with climate skeptics who they accuse of being paid off by the fossil fuel industry. These claims are wholly inaccurate.

Moreover, I strongly believe in giving everyone a fair hearing even if it isn’t the most popular view. I believe it’s my role as a a politician, to wade through all of the spin and come up with my own conclusions after hearing all of the facts.

Some of the data led me to question whether the Rudd government had got the science right. I then took some of the information and questions I had to the White House where I met with one of President Obama’s senior climate change advisors. While these discussions were fruitful, I was left at the end with even more questions than when I had started.

In an effort to try to get to the bottom of the issue I started to talk to a number of scientists based in Australia to get a feel for what their views were on the subject. Amongst the many presentations, one item really stood out. I was presented with a graph based on data that IPCC use which showed carbon dioxide emissions sky rocketing over the last 15 years while global temperatures had remained steady.

Above: The chart Senator Fielding says sparked his doubts about climate change

This graph left me nothing short of flabbergasted. Up until this point I had truly believed that human made carbon dioxide emissions were responsible for climate change.

However, this graph basically said otherwise. I was left asking myself how I could vote for a carbon pollution reduction scheme if it appeared as though carbon dioxide emissions were not driving climate change. It is important to point out that the IPCC had predicted in their models that there would be a direct correlation between increasing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing global temperatures. However, if you look at the graph it is obvious to everyone that this correlation simply does not exist.

Armed with this information I sat down with Minister Wong, the Chief Scientist and Professor Will Steffen of the ANU to hear their explanation. After an hour and a half I left none the wiser.

I received a written response to my questions from the Minister a few days later which had me even more uncertain. According to the Minister, air temperature, a measurement relied upon by the IPCC and the Rudd Government to justify its emissions trading scheme was irrelevant.

Instead, I was told that I should really be concerned with the variability in ocean temperatures. Not only did this contradict all of the information which the Minister had provided me with only a few days earlier but I was also aware of an IPCC report which stated that the measuring of ocean temperatures was not reliable.

I went back to the government with this question but was met with a wall of silence. They had clearly decided it was safer not to engage with me because I had legitimate questions which they probably were unable to answer.

I was left feeling that the only responsible thing to do was to vote against this legislation. At the end of the day, it would be a betrayal of my duty to the Australian people to put at risk the national economy and many thousands of jobs on what is clearly inconclusive science.

But then enter Al Gore. Here was a man who had a lot of power and went around the world preaching about climate change. I thought he might have the answer for me, the ones I couldn’t extract from the Rudd government. I briefly met Mr Gore at a breakfast in Melbourne attended by more than a thousand people. He was aware of the important role Family First plays in the senate and was keen to catch up.

After a series of phone calls I was met with a stonewall of resistance. I offered to meet Mr Gore at any place at any time but had no luck. Here we had the former Vice President of the United States, a self proclaimed climate change preacher running away from me over a few simple questions. I could hardly believe it.

I would have thought if Al Gore was really committed to the cause he would want to meet with all senators who had concerns about the science if it would help ensure that the CPRS legislation would pass. Obviously I was wrong.

I have written to every senator urging them to look at the graph and ask themselves the key question - what is driving climate change? If they can’t answer that simple question they shouldn’t be voting for a CPRS. This decision is the biggest economic decision in this country’s history, one which is too important to vote along party lines.

I call on the government to answer my question with a straight answer. If they’re not prepared to do so, I’m happy to fight the lone battle in the senate until those senators who are honest with themselves break party lines.


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