Sunday, March 07, 2010

What a great steaming nit Malcolm Fraser is!

And that's being much more polite than I really feel inclined to be. For those who are not big on history, Fraser is a former Australian Prime Minister in the conservative cause, whose most notable post Prime-Ministerial activities have principally consisted of losing his trousers one night in Memphis Tennessee and sucking up to African dictators. He is much reviled among Australian conservatives for having done nothing for the conservative cause while he was in office.

His latest profundity is about the assassination of a HAMAS chief in Dubai:
"Mr Fraser said the Jewish state could no longer use the Holocaust as an excuse to justify state-sanctioned murder, and criticism of its policies should not be dismissed as anti-Semitism."

It has apparently escaped the notice of "Trousers" Fraser that Israel has not even acknowledged responsibility for the assassination and so has not blamed it on ANYTHING, let alone the holocaust. And the accusation that Israelis (who are of course predominantly Jews) have committed "state-sanctioned murder" is interesting. He fails to recognize that HAMAS is by its own assertions at war with Israel and that the assassination might reasonably be regarded as legitimate self-defence in that case. Fraser's one-sided slur on Israel DOES then sound like precisely that antisemitism which he denies.

But the man is a proven liar anyway so the only sadness is that his bigoted and probably senile comments were reported at all.

There is an amusing comment here which argues that Fraser's comments are probably in breach of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act of the State in which he resides (Victoria).

Australians work twice as long to pay for a house as they did 50 years ago

High levels of immigration and Greenie-inspired land-use restrictions can principally be blamed for that. The immigrants have got to live somewhere but State and local government regulations severely ration the locations on which new houses can be built. So inadequate supply causes prices to shoot up, as it always does. Greenies and "asylum seeker" advocates have hit the pockets of Australians hard.

As Miranda Devine says:

"To fulfil Kevin Rudd's "big Australia" promise of 60 per cent population growth by 2050, Sydney will bear the brunt of the expansion, almost doubling in size to 7 million people. We must "embrace" this inevitability, a forum of planners, bureaucrats and business types agreed this week. Since all those new people have to live somewhere and the state government won't release more land in greenfields areas, prepare yourself for more backyard infills and congestion, according to the Committee for Sydney forum at the Park Hyatt. And yesterday, Infrastructure Australia confirmed as much, with a report showing Sydney is the most congested city in the country. Those of us who live here don't need a report to tell us Sydney's once envied livability status is heading downhill, with worldwide indexes recording the slippage. Even Melbourne beats us now".

AUSTRALIANS have to work almost three times harder to pay off the average family home than they did 50 years ago. Figures compiled by CommSec for The Sunday Telegraph reveal homebuyers on the average income now have to work for 19,374 hours to buy the average Australian house with the average mortgage.

Based on an eight-hour day and a five-day working week, that equates to about 10 years of work. In reality, it takes much longer to own a home, because wages must pay for all living expenses, not just housing. In 1960, it took homebuyers just 7500 hours to pay off the average mortgage.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said that half a century ago, average wage-earners took home the equivalent of $1.08 an hour. They needed to work 25 hours to meet the monthly mortgage repayment of $25, based on an average five per cent interest rate and a mortgage of $4620. Today, the average worker earning $30.04 an hour spends 70.7 hours - or almost two weeks of the month - at work to cover the monthly mortgage repayment for an average $283,000 loan at a 6.64 per cent interest rate.

The figures show rising costs and growing property prices have largely outstripped wages and young couples today need to work longer and harder to achieve the great Australian dream of owning their homes. Whereas homes were once affordable on a single wage, families now realistically need two incomes to fund a mortgage. "This is your single biggest purchase," Mr James said. "This is where people are living. "We're building bigger and better homes, so it was always likely we were going to be paying more in terms of the mortgage - and we're certainly working longer to pay for that. "We're working longer, but we're probably working more flexibly and in jobs that we like."

Mr James said that in Australia, unlike other countries, there was a lot of pressure to buy rather than rent and homeowners often saw their mortgages as a method of saving. "Records from the Commonwealth Bank suggest more than 70 per cent of people are paying more than they need to in terms of their home loans, so they're ahead of their loans. "People see the home as a way of saving; they see it as an outlet for their finances. In other parts of the world, that's not the case, but Australia has always had an affinity with the home.

"In the 1960s, it was a simpler life. Now more money is spent on housing, computers, the internet, mobile phones, whereas before it was food, clothing, transport. "We do have more opportunities now, but whether we're happier remains to be seen."

Sydney University anthropologist and author Stephen Juan said it now took two incomes and 30 years to pay off the average home. Half a century ago, it was one income and 15 years. Mortgages costing the average household 29 per cent of its income put huge strains on the family unit, Dr Juan said. "With that kind of inflation for the biggest item a middle-class family buys in their lifetime, which is the family home, when you have that kind of colossal increase that has been greater than the percentage increase in salaries - that's the reason we have the crunch. "There's so much pressure on us. We're losing our leisure time, we're losing our time for families, we're having to commute further and further to get to work, we're finding it more and more difficult to pay our mortgages. "Economically, we're being really stressed, and there's not enough time to do everything we have to do."

Dr Juan said that 50 years ago, promises of technology brought predictions of an easier life and more time available for family and healthier lifestyles. "It was said we would have more time and be a leisure class because the machines would do the work," he said. "What has happened, however, is that you have to pay for these materials and for this technology. "We've got better technology and better leisure-time activities available, but we don't have the leisure time. It's a catch-22."


Police may lay charges over fatal results of rushed Greenie scheme

Peter "The Skull" Garrett should be in the dock too. He is the responsible Federal environment minister who seemed not to know his a*se from his elbow and basically seems to have supervised nothing in his portfolio

THE Federal Government's home insulation debacle took another twist yesterday with police confirming criminal charges could be laid over the three Queensland deaths. Detectives have been interviewing witnesses and gathering forensic evidence in all three cases, which occurred between October 2009 and February this year.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland officers are continuing separate investigations. They were still interviewing people last week and moving towards a potential prosecution of individuals or companies. Individuals could face two years jail and a maximum $100,000 fine if found guilty of offences causing death.

The latest moves come as a NSW company ABC Insulation became the first installer to be penalised. It was hit with a $10,000 fine after a dodgy installation resulted in extensive fire damage to a western Sydney home. In Queensland, authorities said they were working quickly to complete reports into the fatalities. Police said they were investigating the deaths, but added it would be up to the coroner in each case to decide whether police explored criminal charges.

The directors behind two Queensland companies linked to fatalities were newcomers to insulation installation.

Matthew Fuller, 25, was electrocuted and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Monique Pridmore, received serious burns while installing foil insulation in a Meadowbrook home in Logan last October. He was working for QHI Installations, a company contracted by Brisbane-based Countrywide Insulation to do the work. Countrywide Insulation was founded by former bankrupt Jude Kirk, whose previous business interest was in telemarketing. A spokesman for Countrywide said it had not had any contact with authorities since an interview before Christmas. Countrywide reportedly secured 2000 insulation contracts before it was deregistered.

Also under investigation is the death of 22-year-old Mitchell Sweeney, who was electrocuted while working in the ceiling of a house at Millaa Millaa, southwest of Cairns, on February 4. He was employed by Gold Coast company Titan Insulations. Company records show Titan was co-owned by 26-year-old Nicholas Lindsay, a Building Services Authority-licensed builder, who established the company with Frederick Palomar in 2009. Titan was struck off the registered installers list before the program was scrapped, but Mr Lindsay is still able to operate as a builder.

Ben Aarons, the owner of the home where Mr Sweeney was killed, said he had not had any contact with authorities or Titan since the day of the accident. "I haven't heard a thing. They left a few rolls of insulation here but I don't think they'll be back to pick it up," he said last week. "The power was off for about 12 days. They got an electrician in to check everything about three weeks ago and it was given the all-clear. "But the Sweeney family lost a son so it's no big deal to go without power for a little while."

A third Queenslander killed was 16-year-old Rueben Barnes. Mr Barnes was killed on November 18 while installing insulation at Stanwell near Rockhampton. He was working for Arrow Property Maintenance, a company based in Rockhampton since 2006.


Row over barbecue as primary school opts to offer halal sausages

A ROW over sausages has a school community sizzling amid competing claims of bigotry and animal cruelty. What was supposed to be a welcome-back barbecue for students at Coburg West Primary School has turned into a debate over the Islamic halal method of preparing meat.

Members of the school's Parents and Friends Association believed they were being inclusive when they ordered halal-only sausages for last month's barbie. But some parents thought it was political correctness gone mad to offer only halal meat.

Parent Diane Rees said yesterday that she was outraged when told by the PFA that "we have to buy halal because we have some Muslim children in the school". "I said to the principal, 'I think you're discriminating against the majority of the school and appeasing the minority by only serving halal,' " she said. "It's not fair on my children that they can't eat at the school."

Ms Rees said she wasn't anti-Muslim - her concern was over the way animals were killed under the halal method, which involves a knife cut to the jugular veins and carotid arteries in the neck. "They take two long minutes to die and I think that's bloody cruel," she said.

But Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ikebal Patel said research showed that, done properly, halal was a quick and humane slaughter of animals. "I think they are using the issue of some halal sausages at a barbecue, for God's sake, to bring out their own xenophobic bigotry," he said. "It was very thoughtful of the parents and friends association to try to cater for Muslims. I think they (the critics) need to get real and get a life on this one."

School principal David Kilmartin, who has been in the job for only a month, said halal-only barbecues were not school policy and the PFA had been told to provide a choice of meat in the future. "I don't think it was done with any malice. I'm assuming there would have been requests from Muslim families to have halal meat," he said.


McDonald's rejects push to have more halal-serving outlets

McDONALD'S has rejected a push to have more halal-serving outlets despite pressure on the fast-food giant. A Victorian burger fan, Amin Assafiri, launched the Facebook campaign in frustration at having to drive from driving 8km north to the closest halal McDonald.

Mr Assafiri lives to the north of Melbourne, in Fawkner, with the nearest Hala McDonald's in Roxburgh Park. His "Make Fawkner McDonald's halal!" Facebook page has attracted 341 members -- not enough to sway the burger chain's management.

"We can only accommodate the market so much," McDonald's spokeswoman Kristy Chong said. "It is a considerable cost to go halal. "There are already three halal McDonald's in Melbourne."

Mr Assafiri said at least 1000 Muslims living in Fawkner made special trips to Victoria's halal McDonald's in Roxburgh Park and Brunswick East. The third Victorian halal McDonald's will open in a renovated Preston McDonald's in June.


More bureaucratic arrogance from a Leftist government

Parent anger at new Queensland car seat laws

THE launch of new baby and child seat laws in Queensland has left parents confused, angry, out of pocket and facing $300 fines. In less than four weeks, parents face fines of $300 and the loss of three points for driving without the correct baby and booster seats. But parents and child safety advocates say the Government has so far failed to publicise changes to size and age requirements. Currently, all babies aged 0-6 months must be in capsules and older children have to be in safety approved child booster seats, which match their weight, or wear seatbelts.

The new laws are much more specific, making it illegal for children under four years to be in booster seats from March 11. It means that seats that are safe could now be illegal.

While parents and retailers say the new laws are sensible and aim to make travelling safer, not enough has been done to promote them. Parents Sharlet and Ben Edwards have been caught up in the changes. Like many other parents, they had intended moving their daughter Chloe, who turned six months yesterday, out of her capsule and in to their almost three-year-old son Luke's current seat, moving him to a new booster they bought for $150.

But confusion over the rules means they are having to check with the police over whether they need another seat. "There has been a complete lack of information," Mr Edwards said. "We want the kids to be safe and follow the law." Mr Edwards said a simple solution would have been for the State Government to have pamphlets outlining the law change attached to all seats for sale. Instead, he now has to take the seat to a police information booth for advice.

Childsafe Queensland executive officer Susan Teerds said the foundation was receiving 20 to 30 calls a day from confused and concerned parents.


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