Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We must do better on housing supply, says Federal Treasurer

Good to see a Leftist acknowledging the impoverishing burden of regulation

AUSTRALIA must do better in the supply of housing - a supply gap that could grow to 600,000 by 2028/29, Treasurer Wayne Swan has warned. Mr Swan told a Property Council conference in Canberra that the National Housing Supply Council estimates the country's housing stock is currently short of 178,400 dwellings. "It seems that the supply of housing in Australia is not as responsive as it could be, and this has been the case for some time now," Mr Swan said in a prepared speech on Monday.

He said reasons for this supply shortage were impediments created by various regulations, slow planning and zoning processes, and complex, uncertain and time-consuming systems for charging developers for infrastructure.

"In the worst-case scenario, it can take as long as 15 years to proceed from the identification of suitable land to a completed house," Mr Swan said. "We can do better than this."

He said commonwealth and state treasuries and premiers' departments were now fully engaged in the process of designing reforms to improve the operation of the housing market. "I'm determined to see the Australian government play a role in reforming the housing market for the long term, embedding better practices in planning and zoning and developer charging," he said.

Mr Swan reeled off a number of initiatives undertaken by the federal government in its efforts to improve the functioning of the housing market.

These included a $6.2 billion national affordable housing agreement with the states, $5.2 million of stimulus money to build more than 19,300 in public housing stock, and a $512 million housing affordability fund.

This is on top of a national rental affordability scheme that encourages institutional investors to deliver low-cost rental housing, the first-home saver account and a more generous first-home owners grant during the global financial crisis.

The government is also committed to $27.7 billion in urban and regional road infrastructure that will help support housing. "These are all important steps and they will all contribute to improving the functioning of the Australian housing market and, in particular, the supply of low-cost housing," he said.


More Victoria police corruption

A RAPE charge against Saints star Stephen Milne collapsed amid a campaign of threats and intimidation from inside Victoria Police and by powerful club backers, a former detective claims.

The explosive claims have been made by the detective who led the 2004 investigation into the alleged rape of a woman by Milne at the home of teammate Leigh Montagna. Former Brighton Sen-Det Scott Gladman told Nine News tapes of interviews with the two Saints were stolen from his desk and the alleged victim's statement was leaked to the club during the six-week investigation.

He also alleges St Kilda had the woman, who was 19 at the time, followed by a private investigator for years after the incident, costing $95 an hour. "We were told that if things went well, consider yourself a Saints person for life," he said.

The detective does not allege that the club directly pressured him, but that influential people with "a vested interest in the possible outcome for the club" contacted police during the investigation.

He said two witnesses heard the alleged victim refuse sex with Milne in the incident. But higher-ranked officers and the then director of public prosecutions, Paul Coghlan, QC, declined to prosecute Milne, saying there was no chance of a conviction.

Sen-Det Gladman told Nine News he was under pressure from the start, with a stream of calls from other officers telling him he would be "looked after" if the case went away. "She's just one of these footy sluts that runs around looking for footballers to f---," one officer allegedly told him. "You better do the right thing. You better make sure that this is done properly."

He said he could not leave the brief of evidence in his desk at night because he couldn't be sure it was safe. "I couldn't understand how something like that could become so big, and allowed to become so out of control," he said. He found part of the transcripts of the players' police interviews on his office photocopier, he said. Recordings of their interviews had also vanished from his desk for up to seven hours.

The former officer said he learned that someone had shown people at St Kilda the woman's statement, revealing her identity.

The detective says he felt there was a case to answer, based on the evidence he gathered, and it should have been for a jury to decide. "There is a prima facie case still sitting there in that box at that office that should be answered by a jury," he said. "Stephen Milne is an innocent person until he's proven guilty in a court of law. However, we never got that far, because the carriage of justice, or the natural flow of justice, was interrupted."

Telling the woman the case was "dead" was one of the worst experiences of the 17-year veteran's career. "Nothing was harder than going to tell her that the brief had been put to bed, (and) that was it," he said.

The policeman has now left the force, and says he regrets not doing something about the interference in his investigation at the time. "At the time I just thought I could just get on with the job and just do it," he told Nine News. "What should have happened is it should have been reported, and it should have been investigated, and those people should have been held accountable," he said.

Police last night declined to comment. "Victoria Police, after receiving advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions, and after a thorough investigation, concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the two AFL footballers," the force said in a statement.

Milne's manager, Tom Petroro of Stride Management, said the St Kilda star had no comment to make. Montagna's manager, Dan Richardson, also declined to comment.

A source close to Montagna said the claims would be "news" to him. "It was sorted out and all in the past and a long time ago. I don't know why it is being brought up again," he said.

The victim's lawyer could not be contacted.

St Kilda CEO Michael Nettlefold said the club did not intend to comment on "internal police matters". "What I can say is at the time of the police investigation six years ago both the club and the players fully co-operated with the investigation," Mr Nettlefold said.


Teenager faces life in a wheelchair after bullying sparked suicide bid

And what's the response of the hateful NSW bureaucrats in charge of school safety? A new email address! No word that anything has happened to the bullies

EXTREME bullying has left a teenage boy in a wheelchair unable to speak or walk and taking food and liquids through a tube to his stomach. Dakoda-Lee Stainer, 14, suffered brain damage when deprived of oxygen for more than 20 minutes after attempting to take his own life.

The teen, now under around-the-clock care in priority disability housing, endured months of relentless attacks by bullies before reaching the point of despair. Friends said Dakoda had rocks thrown at him and was admitted to hospital for a head injury as the cruel bullying turned physical.

On the day he tried to end it all he had been accosted by the same gang of youths on the school bus. The teen, who attended Melville High School at Kempsey, on the North Coast, was found in a bedroom at home on September 4 last year - about 13 months after another 14-year-old, Alex Wildman, killed himself at Lismore because of violent run-ins with schoolmates.

Dakoda's family and friends agreed to speak about his plight in a bid to get authorities to take bullying more seriously and prevent further tragedies.

In the wake of the Wildman case, the Department of Education and Training said it would review the way in which counsellors were allocated to schools and trial a new email address in selected schools inviting people to report bullying.

Dakoda's mum Theresa said yesterday: "I can't imagine what those kids (bullies) would have put him through to get him to that state. "I don't know how these mongrels ate away at my boy's strength ... "

Theresa, now living on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, said her son was making progress, communicating with his eyes and by shaking. He was attempting to move his arms and legs. "He lost oxygen to the brain for at least 22 or 23 minutes," she said. "When we got to hospital it took them 12 minutes to restart his heart."


200 Tamil Tigers 'sailing to asylum' in Australia

The Tigers are brutal Marxist terrorists -- the last group Australia needs

SRI Lankan officials have warned that a vessel carrying up to 200 asylum-seekers could be headed for Australia.

As Kevin Rudd faces rising internal concern that the issue is hurting Labor, the Prime Minister will today hold a meeting of the full ministry to mark what could be the last parliamentary sitting week before the election, amid rising leadership speculation. Labor backbenchers said yesterday they had "sent a message" to Mr Rudd's office on asylum-seekers in the past fortnight, and several frontbenchers confirmed it was a live issue in the electorate.

As the Rudd government faces a looming deadline on whether to lift a three-month suspension of Sri Lankan asylum claims, the country's high commissioner to Australia, Senaka Walgampaya, has urged the Prime Minister to extend the freeze.

Australia has previously sought assistance from Indonesia to turn back a boatload of 260 illegal migrants heading for Australia, and successfully repelled the largest boatload attempting to enter Australian waters since the election of the Rudd government in 2007.

The high commissioner said yesterday he had credible information that a boat, believed to be connected to remnants of the Tamil Tigers, had upwards of 200 people on it. "My information is that there is such a boat," Mr Walgampaya said yesterday. "Earlier on, the boat was going to Canada; now it is confirmed that they are trying to come to Australia."

Mr Walgampaya also called on the government to extend the freeze on Sri Lankan asylum claims, saying there was evidence it had been effective. "I would certainly like to continue as it is," he said. "I think boat arrivals have reduced as a result. If they continued it, that would be good."

On June 10, The Australian reported that the Philippines Coast Guard had in May issued an alert for the MV Sun Sea, formerly known as the Harin Panich 19.

Mr Walgampaya said the venture was being organised by remnants of the Liberation of Tamil Tiger Eelam (Tamil Tigers). "We are told that the boat itself does not belong to the LTTE but they are people who have links to the LTTE," Mr Walgampaya said.

Ahead of today's ministry meeting in Canberra, three Labor frontbenchers conceded asylum-seekers were an issue in the electorate, and one pointed to the Prime Minister himself telling the ALP caucus the government needed to sell its message better. "There's a a strongly entrenched debate around asylum-seekers," one frontbencher said. "People are asking: what is Labor going to do about boatpeople," another Labor MP told The Australian. "Efforts are being made to get that through to the Prime Minister's office."

Another Labor frontbencher said: "We've all recognised that it's certainly an issue and we certainly need to communicate what we are doing. "At the moment, there's a misunderstanding that's being whipped up by talkback radio. "The Prime Minister said that we need to better communicate what we're doing in this area."

The remarks came as outspoken Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry told a World Refugee Day rally in Melbourne that there had been a "failure of leadership" on the issue of asylum-seekers. "If you ask the right questions, you'll get the right answers from the Australian public and I think they've been led down the wrong track by a failure of leadership," Professor McGorry said.



Paul said...

Great opportunity for Rudd to show some guts and stick up for Australia. I guess it will be a long wait to see that. Australia will become the operational HQ for the return of the LTTE. Sri Lanka will love us.

Paul said...

BTW, QLD Health are talking about a timeframe of up to two years before the pay debacle is likely to be fixed. So far as I know that's not public information yet. At least two colleagues not paid at all in the last cycle, and despite what they say they don't rush to rectify under or non-payment.