Thursday, April 08, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has drawn a cartoon to accompany a story about how a Lefty became a racist -- even in her own eyes -- when she had to live among people from cultures rather different from her own.

Amazing meanness: Some army men who served overseas won't get Anzac Day pay

Because they are in the Reserves rather than the Regulars. But Reserves are much used for active duty by most governments today -- as a cost-saving measure. They are the last people who should be stiffed. They save the government a mint by not being paid full-time.

Misuse of the Reserves will reduce them to nothing if the government contempt for the reserves continues. Then the government will have to pay full-time salaries to get the personnel it needs. How short-sighted is that? A rational government would be doing everything possible to prop up the reserves.

There will always be some need for reservists to go on full-time duty to supplement the regulars. That is what they are for. I did so myself when I was in the reserves. But what should have been the exception has now become routine. A family member with two young children who is a reservist is now on his second deployment in two years to the Middle East -- in a war zone

Reservists enjoy their service. That's why they enlist. But if they are going to be deployed like regulars without the same training and not being paid for their time then you are looking at a very different ballgame when it comes to enlistment

DEFENCE force reservists who have fought in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands will not be paid to march on Anzac Day this year - unlike the regular forces - as part of budget cutbacks that will also slash their training and ammunition.

The morale of the 25,000 reservists is near collapse, with the head of the Defence Reserves Association, Jim Barry, warning yesterday of mass resignations, saying the Diggers were preparing to "vote with their feet".

A final straw for many of the weekend warriors who have provided crucial support to the heavily committed defence force was confirmation they will no longer be paid to turn out for parades on Anzac Day and similar occasions.

The 17,000-strong Army Reserve, which provided the bulk of the peacekeepers for the current missions in East Timor and Solomon Island would be hardest hit by the cuts, Major General Barry told The Australian. His warning came as Defence Minister John Faulkner endorsed the government's strategic reform program designed to make $20 billion in defence savings over the next decade.

"They (Defence) have run out of dough," General Barry said yesterday. He was concerned there was no indication the situation would improve in the 2010-11 financial year. "I haven't had an answer from anyone," he said.

If the budget cuts were maintained, the reservists would "march with their feet", he said. The number of reserve annual training days had already been cut to 25, about half of what was needed to maintain proficiency, he said. "A lot of them are still hanging on, but morale is pretty low.

"We know it's impinging on operational efficiency and they're not going to be sufficiently well trained," General Barry said. "They're getting about 25 days of training at best, and they need, depending on the unit, somewhere between 35 and 50 days to be proficient before they go anywhere near pre-deployment training for the Solomons or where ever," he said.

The Australian Defence Force confirmed reservists would not be paid to take part in local Anzac Day commemorations. Army Reserve Training Salaries, which according to its website are tax-free, would only be paid for official Anzac Day ceremonial tasks, a spokesman said.

Opposition defence, science and personnel spokesman Bob Baldwin said the government should immediately intervene. "It is indeed a very sad day when reservists who have served in such places as East Timor, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan, are not allowed to parade on Anzac Day.

"I echo the sentiments of Major-General Barry when saying these budget cuts have cut into the very core of Australia's heritage," he said.

Yesterday, Defence Minister John Faulkner announced the government had endorsed implementation of the Strategic Reform Plan which was on track to achieve $797 million in savings this financial year.

Addressing the Defence Senior Leadership Group in Canberra last Wednesday, Senator Faulkner said the program was not just about delivering savings and efficiencies. It was an an integral component of the white paper.

It would only be possible to buy the new equipment needed for defence if the full savings were made, he said.


Call for civil action over racial slurs in Western Australia

One guess that the word "Boong" (Aborigine) is the target here -- amazing how they manage not to mention that though. What about "Abo"? To me it is just an abbreviation but some people get all righteous about it. There are a lot of Aborigines in Western Australia and they do have a high rate of incarceration

Interesting that vilification is already a crime but that is not enough for the bureaucrats, apparently. They want more of the action. It looks like they think the coppers are too lenient. Cops have a lot to put up with from blacks so they probably see as fair comment some things that ivory tower bureaucrats would get all hot and bothered about

The Equal Opportunity Commission wants to have the power to launch civil action against people or organisations who have racially vilified an individual in a public place.

Laws allowing civil action for racial vilification passed the Lower House in 2007 but the legislation never passed through the Upper House. It is already a criminal offence and, in at least one incident, it has been taken to court in Western Australia.

Commissioner Yvonne Henderson says racial vilification can have a major impact. "People feeling a sense of injustice and exclusion and it can lead to social problems further down the track."

The President of the Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia, Maria Saracini, supports the call. "It deters or is aimed to deter people from engaging in conduct which is considered unlawful or un-Australian."

Yvonne Henderson says she would like a racial vilification bill to be placed on the parliamentary notice paper once again. She says people who have been the subject of racial discrimination should be able to lodge a complaint with the Commission.

"Well it would have to be in a public place. It could be a sign, it could be a poster, it could be a sticker, it could be words spoken. "It could be words broadcast by means of a P.A. system. It would have to be in some kind of public place which could include a workplace."

The Government and Opposition have been unavailable for comment.


The Tamil "refugees" are nothing of the sort

Unless they are former terrorists. And all of them could have chosen resettlement in nearby India if they wished

AS arrivals of Sri Lankans in Australia claiming asylum continue, there is ample evidence to suggest the situation in Sri Lanka is very different from that portrayed by refugee advocates. Indeed, there is strong evidence that since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May 2009 Sri Lanka has moved towards stability and inter-ethnic reconciliation, rather than widespread or institutionalised persecution of its Tamil population.

Sri Lanka's steady return to post-conflict normalcy has been widely reported internationally. Key benchmarks include:

* The restitution of freedom of movement for all internally displaced persons.

* The resettlement of 193,607 IDPs throughout northern Sri Lanka (leaving only 76,205 IDPs yet to be resettled).

* The rehabilitation and gradual release from custody of nearly 2000 former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam combatants, co-ordinated with the International Migration Organisation and funded by the West.

* The recruitment of several thousand more Tamil-speaking police constables to serve in Tamil-majority areas.

* Removal of most travel restrictions nationwide and the lifting of the security curfew throughout the Northern and Eastern provinces, as well as progress in reconstructing roads and infrastructure.

* And, most significantly, the restoration of democracy through the re-emergence of Tamil political parties previously suppressed by the LTTE and their free participation in presidential elections.

In the naturally complex aftermath of a three-decade-long conflict, Sri Lanka has invested considerable material, financial and societal resources towards restoring normalcy. Indeed, although the nation still has much work to do, its rapid and practical progress is a noteworthy achievement after such a long and bitter conflict.

The Bishop of Jaffna, Thomas Sundranayagam (an ethnic Tamil), wrote in January: "Jaffna is returning to normal. Commercial activities are taking place and the civilians are also very happy. They can now easily visit Colombo and other areas. People from the south also come to Jaffna."

Sri Lanka's economic recovery has also been steady.. Travel advisories have been downgraded worldwide, leading to a significant growth in tourism. Early this year The New York Times rated it the No.1 travel destination for 2010.

In September last year, Michael Delaney, the assistant US trade representative for South Asia, told a news conference: "We had over 40 US companies, including several Fortune 500 companies, that came to Sri Lanka. We think the economic boost from the end of the war is much greater than commonly believed."

Australian investor Mark Scannell, who has begun construction of a multimillion-dollar hotel in eastern Sri Lanka, says: "Sri Lanka is safe and free for anyone to holiday or invest [in]. Tourists should disregard Western negative propaganda and experience what the country has to offer."

So, why does Australia see a growing number of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seekers? It appears that Australia's relative proximity as the closest Western country, high living standards and perceptions of sympathetic treatment have been a significant pull factor in attracting them. Australia is also the nearest country that is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.

Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seekers who come to Australia have deliberately avoided the option of seeking asylum in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, only a two-hour boat ride away from Sri Lanka. Although India is not a signatory to the convention, it has long been hospitable to Tamil asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka.

V. Suryanarayan, a retired senior professor affiliated with the University of Madras and a respected expert on the subject (as well as a Tamil), wrote in September 2008: "Geographical contiguity, ethnic affinities and easy availability of boats made Tamil Nadu a natural choice. The government provides free housing, free medical care and free education, in addition to financial doles and supply of essential commodities like rice, kerosene and sugar at subsidised rates.

What is more, the government of Tamil Nadu has permitted the refugees to take up employment, a gesture not extended to Chakma refugees from Bangladesh. As far as refugees are concerned, it is not roses all the way, but . . . [they] do not feel any sense of insecurity in Tamil Nadu."

There are several reasons why Tamil asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka come to Australia instead of going to Tamil Nadu. Some are attempting to use Australia as a conduit to the West generally, as seen in the Oceanic Viking stand-off, where a note thrown to Australian journalists and published in The Age said: "Australia doesn't want to accept us. Send us to other countries like Canada, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand."

Indeed, some of the asylum-seekers intending to enter Australia have for many years resided in countries other than Sri Lanka, such as India, Malaysia and Indonesia. A notable example was "Alex" Kuhendrarajah, the spokesman for a group of Tamils in Indonesia, who, contrary to his claims, had lived in Chennai, India, for many years and had previously been deported from Canada because of his involvement in criminal activities.

There are other reasons why so many Tamil asylum-seekers come to Australia instead of joining efforts to rebuild Sri Lankan society or obtaining asylum in Tamil Nadu. Some appear to be LTTE fighters seeking to evade legitimate detention in Sri Lanka, and have deliberately avoided India, where there is a high probability of arrest and detention, as the LTTE is a proscribed terrorist organisation.

Australia, unlike the US, Canada and the European Union, has not proscribed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, which is likely to constitute a significant pull factor for LTTE fighters keen to seek asylum.

Second, a majority of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, an estimated 800,000 people, is based in the West and there have been indications that sympathetic elements within the diaspora have encouraged and funded the passage of asylum-seekers to the West. As one Australian Tamil community leader recently remarked: "People who have help from overseas will be able to pay the smugglers and come."

After the conflict in Sri Lanka ended, genuine displaced civilians (as opposed to LTTE combatants) traumatised by the violent final phases of the insurgency could not be faulted for wanting to leave Sri Lanka in search of a brighter future in Australia or elsewhere. Even with the end of the insurgency, to varying degrees Tamil fears of discrimination and Sinhalese triumphalism are likely to remain.

However, there is minimal evidence to support claims of widespread or institutionalised persecution, and given the rapidly improving situation in Sri Lanka, the Australian government should exercise heightened caution and scepticism in assessing the validity of asylum-seeker claims from Sri Lanka.


Another hospital computer bungle

Governments and computers do not go well together. Britain spent over 12 BILLION pounds on their new hospital computer system before giving up on it.

FURIOUS staff at the state's biggest hospital have been referred to charities for "food and financial assistance" after Queensland Health failed to pay them.

Amid a widening payroll bungle, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital workers were sent an extraordinary email providing phone numbers for the Salvation Army, "St Vinnies" and the Wesley Mission in case they needed "emergency relief".

Some staff yesterday complained they had been short-changed or not paid at all for the second consecutive fortnight.

The problems have coincided with the introduction of a $40 million payroll system, set up to replace a version that overpaid workers millions of dollars.

Although Queensland Health pledged to repay cash-strapped staff late payment fees, unions said the situation had placed extra stress on hospital workers. Queensland Nurses' Union secretary Gay Hawksworth said the union was inundated with at least 160 phone calls yesterday from angry members across the state who had been substantially underpaid. "This is a significant problem," she said.

"The reality is that this just should not happen. The payroll system should have been well and truly tested. "If there were glitches the first time around, staff should not have to endure them the next pay period. It really needs to be fixed up and it needs to be fixed up quickly."

Ms Hawksworth said she knew of some QH staff who had given money to colleagues to help them out during the payroll crisis. "People have found themselves not able to pay their mortgages or their rent," she said.

Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said an apology by Deputy Premier Paul Lucas last week had "meant nothing". "Now we face the same problem again. Nurses having to choose between a mortgage payment and putting food on the table," he said. "The apology was worthless."

Mr Lucas, who is also the Health Minister, said his director-general Mick Reid had written personally to all staff with information about what they could do if they were underpaid. "We need to be bending over backwards to help these people," Mr Lucas said. "We have provided cash to people and there is no need to seek charity help."

Mr Lucas said yesterday he had met union representatives to discuss their concerns. "I've . . . made it clear to my department that I want any of these issues sorted out as a priority," he said. "Each fortnight Queensland Health processes $180 million in wages to more than 74,000 staff and with shift allowances, overtime, and other payments it is very complex."

But in a statement yesterday, Queensland Health deputy director-general Michael Kalimnios said the payroll system was operating well. He said: "Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that the significant issues experienced during the first pay run of the new system were not being seen today."



Paul said...

The underpaying, or just simply not paying, really is that bad, and Queensland Health's silence and high-handed arrogance is leaving everyone stunned and deeply angry. All the pay "errors" seem to be in Queensland Heath's favour. I've not met amyone who has been overpayed. My partner has not been payed for three weeks now, and other colleagues have seen their leave entitlements vanish as well as not being payed. This happened ten years ago when they last changed the pay system and the attitiude was much the same. Many of us believe it must be deliberate, because the incompetence is breathtaking and the silence is deafening, and no-one seems to be being held to account either.

rloader said...

It seems as if Labor Govts and Ministers are seriously incompetent whatever they tackle. The Federal Govts' incompetence is breathtaking in regard to deaths and homes burning under their administration of the insulation scheme. This also includes the school building scheme with massive waste of resources going to large Companies to "oversee" the builders at 21% - millions of dollars. How many of their Leftist mates get these huge jobs and paynments but are not up to the task? hence the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted. Surely this great big new payment system could have been tested on a small Department before they unleashed iit in total, resulting in the serious loss of wages and moral of their huge dedicated work force.
Disgraceful! No commonsense whatever.