Monday, August 03, 2009

Senior Australian bureaucrats protect homosexual child molester

And these guys are supposed to be representing Australia! What does it say about THEM? Australia has some very queer diplomats, however you look at it

THE Australian Trade Commission told one of its most senior diplomats that he was under police investigation for alleged child sex offences, allowing the man to resign quietly and return home, where he later repeatedly sexually abused a 15-year-old Victorian schoolboy. John Finnin held a top-secret security clearance from the Federal Government until July 2006, at a time it was alleged he was involved in an international child sex ring. No charges were laid on this matter.

Austrade was told Finnin was suspected of using his diplomatic status and access to Australian embassies around the world to traffic in young children for sex. The Herald understands Austrade co-operated with an Australian Federal Police investigation into the matter after the allegation was first put by the Dutch and/or German police.

Austrade later took the unusual step of recalling Finnin from Germany – where he was deputy consul-general and head of trade for Europe, the Middle East and Africa – and informed him that he was under investigation. Finnin, who denied the allegations, was then allowed to leave Austrade with his reputation intact, quietly joining the fraudulent fuel technology company Firepower and returning to Melbourne.

On Friday the Victorian County Court remanded Finnin for sentencing after he was found guilty last month of 23 child sex charges after a trial lasting almost three weeks. Seven charges were for entering into an agreement for the provision of sexual services by a child; another seven were for committing an indecent act in the presence of a child, and another six were for sexual penetration of a child. The other charges were procuring a child for sex, grooming a child for sex and transmitting child pornography.

The court heard that Finnin paid a Melbourne boy, 15, at least $100 for sex on seven occasions and cruised online for sex with other New Zealand and American children as young as 13. Much of the evidence brought against Finnin came from the federal police, which continued its investigation after Finnin resigned from Austrade in May 2006. He left his job two months later after working out his notice.

The Herald understands that police officers were assigned to a special task force, with 24-hour surveillance set up in an empty unit opposite Finnin’s apartment in Sandringham, Victoria. At the time, he drove a Maserati Quattroporto, a bonus to his $500,000 annual salary in his new capacity as chief executive of Firepower. But Austrade continued to work with Finnin, entering into a service agreement with Firepower and giving the company $394,009 in export grants.

The agreement allowed Finnin to continue to use Australian embassies and the private residences of ambassadors to promote the merits of the company’s supposed fuel-saving devices. The involvement of Austrade with Firepower was crucial in giving the company credibility. In reality, Firepower was a fraudulent entity that took Australian investors for an estimated $100 million.

Firepower made nothing, it sold nothing, and the Firepower entity with which Austrade entered into the service agreement did not even exist. The name had been made up, but no one checked. Furthermore, Firepower was given a special place on the Austrade website where it was promoted as an export success in Russia. This, too, was a fraud.

Austrade refused to answer nine questions put by the Herald (see below), including who was in the room when Finnin was informed of the police investigation. Austrade did not deny any of the allegations, some of which were referred to in court and others by Finnin himself in interviews with the Herald.

Instead it issued a short, general statement defending its position. ‘‘Austrade demands the highest standards of legal and ethical behaviour of its employees both in Australia and overseas. ‘‘Any allegations of illegal activity by employees are referred to relevant authorities. If Austrade received allegations as asserted, they would have been referred to the relevant authority, and any further comment would be a matter for that authority.’’


Fraudulent police claims about "solved" crimes

Most of the "solved" crimes have not been solved at all. NOT ONE of the "solved" homicides in Queensland even went to court! And this is said to be national police practice in Australia!

POLICE crime statistics have been exposed as rubbery by officers responsible for entering the data. Every time an arrest is made and an offender charged, those offences are recorded as "solved" in the Q-Prime computer system. Even if the charges are withdrawn or the prosecution fails, the status of the offence remains as cleared.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson confirmed the practice and said it was in line with national standards. But a detective sergeant who contacted The Courier-Mail claimed this was inaccurately inflating crime clear-up rates recorded in the Annual Statistical Report. The 2007-08 report showed 92 per cent of homicides were cleared, along with 79 per cent of rapes and 75 per cent of assaults.

In the same period, none of those charged over homicides was adjudicated by the courts, and almost one in five charges (18.3 per cent) laid by police were withdrawn by the prosecution.

Criminal defence lawyer Jim Coburn, from Ryan and Bosscher, said the practice of declaring crimes solved before they were prosecuted was "a distortion of the facts". "I don't think it's fair or otherwise. It doesn't hurt the criminal as far as the end product is concerned, but it creates a false impression," Mr Coburn said.

He said the rate of charges being withdrawn in Queensland was dramatically higher than other states because of the practice of "overcharging" by police. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2007-08, 1108 defendants had their charges withdrawn by the prosecution in Queensland district and supreme courts, compared with just 96 in Victoria and 220 in New South Wales.

Commissioner Atkinson said the method of declaring crimes cleared as soon as an arrest was made was no different to other states. "The vast majority of matters do result in convictions. Even when they don't, there are very good reasons as to why they should still be shown as solved or cleared," Mr Atkinson said. He said in some assault cases, juries or magistrates accepted the defence of provocation and acquitted the accused. "It would be really unreasonable to say that matter's not cleared, because it is."

He also cited the example of recidivist offenders who commit bulk property crimes but face trial for a small proportion of break-and-enter charges. "While those charges have been dropped, they're all still cleared," Mr Atkinson said.

He said Queenslanders should have complete confidence in crime statistics.


The gradual erosion of "free" medical visits in Australia. Co-pays now common

When Australia's Medicare was set up, it covered all Australians and offered doctors 85% of the normal cost of a visit if the doctor charged the government instead of the patient. That was called "bulk billing" and was widely accepted by GPs -- so most Australians thenceforth could see their doctor for free.

The amount the government reimburses has however not kept pace with rising costs generally so fewer and fewer doctors are now willing or able to see a patient for free and "bulk bill" the government for the cost. It varies from State to State, with high-cost States like NSW having few "bulk billers" and low cost States like South Australia having more. So what started out as free medical care for all has slowly ebbed away and led back to a "patient pays" system, with patients paying part of the cost of a visit and the government paying the rest.

Because of their efficiencies, large health centres have been able to give "free" care long after other practitioners had abandoned it but now they too are starting to throw in the towel, even in South Australia. See below

AUSTRALIA'S largest medical centre operator has scrapped bulk-billing for most of its South Australian patients - charging $30 an appointment for the same service it provided freelast week. The Australian Medical Association yesterday warned the number of free doctors was dwindling because Medicare rebates were seen to be too low for medical centres to remain viable. Primary Health Care, which owns 87 medical centres across Australia, including five in SA, is charging $30 an appointment for most patients in selected medical centres. In Adelaide, the fee is being charged for anyone over 16 without a concession card at Marion Domain and Primary Old Port Rd Medical and Dental Centre, Royal Park – both among the city's busiest medical clinics. It is believed Norwood Village Medical and Dental Centre also will be introducing the fee, which is not refundable by Medicare.

Primary managing director Edmund Bateman would not return calls to The Advertiser yesterday and it was not known if the move had been rolled out nationally. A flyer given to patients at Marion Domain Medical and Dental Centre yesterday says there have been "increased demands on general practitioners with greater documentation required, greater demand for care, greater and increased Medicare audits and greater direction of GP practices". "The co-payment of $30 will provide a net bulk bill fee to your GP that is a discount to the common fee charged for private billed patients in most areas," the flyer says. "Such a co-payment is justified due to the inadequate Medicare rebate. "However, due to the current economic circumstances, the practice has determined to continue bulk billing concession card holders [the elderly and the unemployed] for as long as possible."

AMA state president Dr Andrew Lavender said he was not surprised by the decision to scrap bulk-billing and he knew of several small medical centre operators who also had decided to charge for appointments. "The main problem is that Medicare rebates have not kept pace with the cost of providing medical services," he said. "The Medical Benefits Schedule was established over 20 years ago and since then has never kept pace with either average weekly earnings or the cost of medical services, and the other problem is that there is an increasing burden of red tape and administrative costs and it's no longer sustainable to continue charging at bulk-billing rates for the majority of medical services.

"I am aware that many of the smaller practices have stopped bulk-billing, but we would expect that more of the large corporate practices will cease bulk-billing as well because it is just not sustainable, really, to maintain the service. It is a business and they have obviously substantial business costs."

Medicare pays $33.55 an appointment, but the AMA is calling for this to be "substantially increased". If a practitioner agrees to bulk-bill, patients assign their right to a benefit to the practitioner as full payment for the medical service and the practitioner cannot make any additional charge for the service.

Dr Lavender said the move to stop bulk-billing would put more pressure on hospital emergency departments. "It will mean that some people will choose to attend at emergency. That will certainly put an increased load but it is hard to anticipate exactly how much," he said.

The State Government recently launched an advertising campaign to encourage people to use GP clinics for non-urgent medical assistance during the busy winter period to free up emergency clinics. Health Minister John Hill said it was disappointing some clinics were moving away from bulk-billing. "There is a marketplace, though, and people should also shop around when they can, as the majority of clinics do bulk bill," he said.

Further pressure on the public health system could come from people dropping private health cover in the wake of the Federal Government lifting the level of income on which the Medicare Levy Surcharge is applied – the impact of which is not expected until later this year. For the 2008-09 financial year, the Medicare Levy Surcharge on those without private health cover was raised from $50,000 to $70,000 for singles and from $100,000 to $140,000 for couples/families. This means more people will escape the 1 per cent surcharge and so may consider dropping their private cover.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday supplied statistics showing SA had the second-highest rate of bulk-bill doctors in the country, with 79 per cent of doctors offering the free service. One Marion Domain patient, who did not want to be named, said he was given no warning about the fee. "I think $30 is a bit rude," he said. "I will not be going back to the clinic." Another patient, Jamie Milosevic, 21, of Sheidow Park, said the extra fee was ridiculous. "Heaps of people had to actually leave the line and go and pull money out, which is stupid," he said.


"Stimulus" funding for schools still being bungled

Stimulus cash handed to schools destined to close

EIGHT tiny schools have been handed $400,000 in taxpayer funds for new fencing, spruced-up classrooms and playground upgrades this year - even though the Queensland government has shortlisted them for closure. The schools on death row, which have between four and 57 students, were told last month they were being reviewed for closure or "mothballing". Yet each has won a $50,000 slice of federal government funding, to be spent by the end of the year.

The money is being doled out to all of the nation's 9540 schools under the government's $14.7billion Building the Education Revolution policy to stimulate the construction industry.

The Whitsundays school of Mount Charlton, 60km from Mackay in north Queensland, has only 11 students and was told last week it might have to close. A few months ago it applied and won approval for a $20,000 steel cover over its new playground, $20,000 to replace fencing at its main entrance and prevent erosion on the school boundaries, and $10,000 to repaint the inside of the classrooms, library, toilets and stairwell. The school also applied for a new library, costing up to $250,000, although that funding has not yet been announced.

Parents are furious the Queensland government has now announced the school may close. Linda Jensen, whose grandsons attend the school, said yesterday: "I think I've got more brains than them. Who would spend money on a school and then close it down? It's just ridiculous. It's a waste of money." Her daughter-in-law, Belinda Jensen, is delighted with the attention the school's "old-style" principal and teacher gives her sons Lane, 11, and William, 6, who have "blossomed" at the tiny school. "Why spend money on a school you plan on closing?" she said. "If they're going to shut it down, that money would be better off put towards hospitals."

Mount Charlton's long-serving principal, Esther Lando, said yesterday the Queensland Education Department had been threatening for "years and years" to close her school but always granted it a reprieve. "We just keep going on. The parents are happy, so we'll just see what happens." She said the school had been waiting for many years for a library, and needed a cover for the new playground.

Kioma, a single-teacher school with just four students outside Goondiwindi, also has been told it faces closure. It has been granted $33,500 for a "Proud of Our Green School" program, $12,500 to "renew the loo" and $4000 for "accessible education".

Another school handed $50,000 in federal funding is Riverleigh, west of Maryborough, which has five students and is being considered for closure. The school was given $35,000 for "classroom renewal" - new carpet, paint and a new Smart Board and data projector - $5000 to pay for blinds on the classroom veranda, and $10,000 to convert a male staff toilet to a shower recess and repaint the inside of the toilet block. Principal Norah Murphy said Riverleigh had chosen not to apply for a new building as well. "We've been most mindful, as most normal-thinking people are, about non-wastage of resources," she told The Australian.

The federal government's guidelines allow schools with fewer than 50 students to seek up to $250,000 for a new library or covered learning area. But Ms Murphy said the school community had decided not to seek the funding. Her school had applied for the School Pride spruce-up funds before it was informed a few weeks ago that it might be closed, and now would not spend the money until the state government decided the school's fate.

"If we are to continue, the money is there and available for us to use," she said. "If not, it will be absorbed back into the system somehow. "We didn't jump in and try to spend it really quickly. It's not that we're going to go and build anything or refurbish anything that's going to be closed in a fortnight."

Queensland's Education Department provided The Australian with a list of the eight schools "under review" due to low or declining enrolment. "No decision has yet been made about their future," a spokeswoman said. She said any "major construction" at those schools would be held off - despite federal government guidelines that the work be completed by the end of this year. "The department has negotiated with the Australian government to delay major construction at schools identified for potential mothballing pending the outcome of community consultation," she said.

Other schools under a cloud are Bartle Frere, an hour south of Cairns, which has 11 students and has been granted a $50,000 refurbishment. Maroon State School, near the Queensland-NSW border, has 12 students. The federal government gave it $44,000 last year for underground water tanks and $20,000 this year for shade, $19,250 for a "toilets water tower tank" and $10,750 for fencing. Kandanga Creek school, near the proposed Traveston Dam crossing, has 57 students. It has been handed $14,000 for a shade structure over its playground, $16,000 for a 23,000-litre water tank and pump, and $20,000 for its tennis court. Rosevale, a school of 17 students outside Ipswich, has been allocated $38,500 for classrooms and $11,500 for the library. Maidavale, near Ayr, has 16 students and has been given $18,000 for a sports-ground upgrade, $17,000 to refurbish Block A, and $15,000 for a covered area.


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