Sunday, November 29, 2009

Australia's kindly "Green" bureaucrats at work

A warning about giving them any more power. Anybody else would have just sent the document back for re-signing instead of applying the guillotine. And, far from apologizing, they are digging in their heels over their obnoxious behaviour. Just the usual Greenie people-hatred, I guess

A WOODSIDE pensioner has condemned "dead headed" government bureaucrats for refusing to pay a grant for an $8000 solar panel - because he signed the form in the wrong place. Don Purvis and his neighbours applied for funding under the federal Solar Homes plan, but his application was rejected because he signed his name in a box reserved for the installer's signature.

Eight other households at the Woodside Lodge Retirement Village are now looking forward to cheaper electricity, but not Mr Purvis, whose appeal was flatly turned down. "I signed where the installer should sign. The forms went off to Canberra and some less-than-nice public servant picked up that mine was signed in the wrong place," the 72-year-old said. Mr Purvis said he had to fill in the forms quickly after the Government announced it was closing the scheme 18 months early.

Despite writing to apologise and begging officials to reconsider, his appeal was rejected. "It could be they're trying to keep the numbers (of applicants) down after they brought forward the cut-off date. But I also think there is some dead-headed public servant not even bothering to read the letters," Mr Purvis said. "It's obvious my intent was there, the signature was on the paperwork."

Mr Purvis, a former Ansett employee who spent more than 50 years in the travel industry, is an AGL customer who spent $301 on his last quarterly electricity bill. He lives alone with Bernice, his golden retriever, for company. "I'm a pensioner. I can feed the dog and have a drink, that's all I need. It would make a difference,"' he said. "His neighbours have called for a change of heart.

A woman who lives nearby but asked not to be identified, said: "I was accepted along with several other people and assumed Don was too - there needs to be a little bit of leverage there."

Mr Purvis' local MP, Jamie Briggs, described his plight as "outrageous" and wrote to Environment Minister Peter Garrett urging him to overrule the decision, but has not yet received a reply. "Common sense would say this is a stupid thing for the Government to do," he said.

Mr Purvis also appealed for the Environment Minister to reconsider. "Hopefully, if Peter Garrett intervenes, they'll see the light, because it's just so bloody stupid," he said.


Insane waste in treatment of illegals

You can bet there would be none of this if the bureaucrats were spending their own money

TONNES of bottled water, costing thousands of dollars, are being airlifted to Christmas Island for dehydrated asylum seekers as they step on to the arrivals wharf - despite a tap being just metres away. And the Federal Government will not splash out a couple of thousand dollars to bring a new tap closer for the thirsty arrivals, preferring to jet in the expensive bottles.

Problems arise when refugees first land on the island. Initial screening takes place at the wharf with the tap about 20m away. The asylum seekers are then moved to a construction camp – formerly used by workers who built the detention centre and now housing refugees – where the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said there were "limited options for tap water".

The latest shipment of water, about 2.5 tonnes, was flown to the island on Monday on a department charter flight. The department would not reveal how much it cost, but a four-tonne delivery earlier this year is understood to have cost $6 a kilogram – or $24,000.

One long-standing islander, who did not want to be named said: "It's bloody ridiculous. There's plenty of water to drink on the island, there are taps near the wharf, but the Government won't fix it up. "I could do it for a couple of thousand dollars. No worries."

Flying water to the island also angered local businesses but it is understood that when the Government invited them to tender for the supply their prices were higher than the cost of air-freighting.

A department spokesman said this week's delivery was part of a freight consignment on a charter flight. The spokeswoman said the department and its detention centre service provider Serco, had a duty of care to people in detention. "The provision of bottled water occurs when new arrivals to Christmas Island undertake their initial screening procedures and induction to immigration facilities," she said. "The initial processing is carried out on arrival at the wharf and subsequently at the construction camp. There are limited options for tap water to be provided at both these sites. "Those people are often dehydrated from an extended period at sea and sometimes nauseous.

"The department is aware that the water supply on Christmas Island is classed as potable and fit to drink and encourages all people to drink it as a matter of course." She said the department was "sensitive to the needs" of local traders and endeavoured to deal with them equitably. "However, on occasions it is necessary to freight large amounts independently to meet demands imposed by a sudden surge in the numbers of arrivals," she said.

Christmas Island Shire President Gordon Thomson said it was not the council's responsibility to put taps on property "whether government or privately owned".

The jetty and the construction camp are operated by the Commonwealth Government but a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Department, that has responsibility for the island, said: "There are taps with potable water in the picnic sites in the Flying Fish Cove area which are directly adjacent to the wharf. "As it is a working cargo wharf there is no intention to place a drinking water facility there. There is potable water available at the construction camp site, as there is with any other residential location on the island."


Government hospitals chase away the sick by long delays and then call them "treated"

The "DNW" racket. Australian government hospitals are clearly just as good as British ones at "fudging" their statistics, and that is saying something

ALMOST 70,000 sick or injured Queenslanders walked out of emergency departments at the state's largest public hospitals in the past year, mostly because they became fed up waiting to see overworked doctors. And they were not only people with runny noses or sore throats – thousands needing urgent attention also left.

A Right to Information (RTI) search by The Sunday Mail and The Courier-Mail has uncovered the numbers of "Did Not Waits" previously hidden by Queensland Health. The Did Not Waits registered upon arrival but left before they saw a doctor, mostly because of the exasperating wait in overstretched emergency departments.

More than 100 people classified as "emergency" – requiring attention within 10 minutes – left. Another 10,700 classified as "urgent" (within 30 minutes) did not wait. The figures came from the state's 27 largest hospitals.

The 69,800 people who did not wait in the past financial year were not mentioned in the quarterly hospital performance reports published by a department which Health Minister Paul Lucas has praised for its openness. Instead, they were included as "treated". [What a fraud!!] "Queensland reports more than 1800 (health) statistics every quarter – more than any other state," he said. "There are talks at a national level about how other states can implement similar reporting standards."

Doctors have told The Sunday Mail that they believe Queensland Health keeps quiet about the figures simply to make itself look better. The newspaper has been told about two recent occasions where doctors walked into crowded waiting rooms at major hospitals and told patients who were not critically ill that they would not been seen for at least six hours. One doctor, who asked for his name to be withheld, said he advised patients who thought they could hold off seeing a doctor that they should consider going home and taking with them any medication, such as Panadol, that might help them recover from their ailment.

One doctor conceded that, while most left because they were tired of waiting, there were some who took off for other reasons, including that they were scared that their injuries were part of a potentially criminal incident.

The RTI search was done as part of the Critical Condition series, which will continue this week in The Courier-Mail. It will look into public hospital bed numbers and the strain on emergency departments.


An Australian hoax detective

It was the great Chocolate Bar Bomb scare. Last month an anonymous email, breathlessly titled "Cadbury HALAL Please read! & Forward", hit in-boxes around the country, warning recipients of a sinister link between Australian-made chocolates and Islamic terrorism. Claiming to be "absolute fact", the email urged consumers to boycott products marked with the logo of the Halal Certification Authority Australia. According to the email, companies that paid the HCAA, which certifies food as fit for consumption by Muslims, were "supporting a religion that is actively trying to destroy the Australian way … [and] may be supporting terrorism."

But the email, which sparked an anti-Islamic backlash on Queensland radio, was false, one of many such bogus messages debunked by an Australian website, Hoax-Slayer. The site, which started in 2003 and now boasts a million visitors a month, is the work of Queenslander Brett Christensen. A former caravan park cleaner, Mr Christensen, 46, has fast become the cyber-world's Clark Kent, a soft-spoken father of two who single-handedly smashes scams from the comfort of his home in Bundaberg. "The emails can be politically or religiously motivated," he said. "They can also be corporate sabotage or simply trying to rip people off or waste their time."

You name it, Mr Christensen has seen it: Nigerian fraudsters, fake charities and dating scams, urban legends and bogus petitions. There was the "Cancer Tips From Johns Hopkins" hoax, the fake Marks & Spencer giveaway, and, most recently, a "confidential inter-office memo" from "Robert Trugabe", manager at a McDonald's outlet in South Australia, who implored his staff to deliberately leave out items from orders to cut costs. "Most hoaxes are variations on the same scam," Mr Christensen said. "But by changing background stories they are constantly reworked, thereby gaining new victims."

Mr Christensen started the site after being caught by the Budweiser Frogs virus hoax in late 2002. "I sent the virus warning to all my contacts and then was embarrassed and annoyed to find it was fake."

He now works full-time on the site, which makes about $50,000 a year in advertising. He also produces a Hoax-Slayer newsletter that goes out to 30,000 subscribers. Most of the scams are sent to him from around world, up to 900 emails a week "from people who have been ripped off or want to know if something is true or not."

Mr Christensen uses government or company publications and consumer alerts for his research, plus press releases and credible websites. Unlike the hoaxes, he typically includes in-text hyperlinks and separate references that allow readers to check the information themselves.

While his site is not without precedent -, aka the Urban Legends Reference Page, has been going since 1995 - Hoax-Slayer also includes a section dedicated to apparently ludicrous emails that are actually true. Buzz Aldrin really did perform a Communion service, featuring wine and wafers, on the Moon in 1969, armless Arizona woman Jessica Cox is indeed the first pilot in the US to be licensed to fly using only her feet, and the mysterious "sailing stones" of Death Valley do move by themselves.

Even the dreaded chain email has some validity. Australia's Autism Advisory and Support Service, the Animal Rescue Site and America's The Breast Cancer Site have all used such emails to raise money and awareness. "Even though there are lots of hoaxes out there, it pays not to become too cynical," Mr Christensen said.


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