Sunday, March 20, 2011

Greenies hit the weak first

One victim of the Greenie pressure on electricity prices below. Maureen Mullins, a 79-year-old pensioner, can't afford her power bills and fears she will no longer be able to pay for oxygen machine that keeps her alive. I wonder if she is glad about all the useless windmills she helps subsidize

An unresponsive bureaucracy kills a man

The guy made a mistake in not getting his vehicle ownerships transferred at the time of sale but the bureaucracy was also too tired to see that the fines went to the right person. One court verdict against them should have been enough

NATHAN ADAM GORDON was due to face court next month to be sentenced for driving while disqualified. He will never get the chance. The 32-year-old died from head injuries earlier this month - just days after being found with his pushbike in a ditch off a central coast cycleway.

He had been suspended from driving for 25 years, but his grieving family blame a bungle by the Roads and Traffic Authority over a list of unpaid speeding fines for his death. They say the RTA refused to recognise he was not responsible for the offences - two of which occurred in different parts of NSW on the same day.

"Nathan was driven to break the law by driving unlicensed by bureaucracy gone mad, a system set up by the RTA that refuses to recognise who has rightfully incurred fines," his lawyer, former magistrate Roland Day said.

Mr Gordon had been a law-abiding citizen, who ran a car hire business in Newcastle for three years, Mr Day said. His mother Sue said that as part of the business her son had to register all the vehicles in his small fleet in his name. Then fines began to roll in for red-light camera, speed camera and unpaid toll offences committed by people who had hired his cars.

"You would not believe the amount of people who hire cars who do not pay tolls or drop the cars off not knowing they have run a red light or been booked for speeding," Mrs Gordon said from her home at Gorokan on the central coast. "Every time Nathan would fill out a statutory declaration telling the RTA who … had hired the car," she said.

Then three years ago Mr Gordon sold the business but the new owners did not transfer the name of the vehicles' ownership. He began to incur fines for traffic offences for which he was not responsible.

Mrs Gordon said her son's letters and the statutory declarations sent to the RTA were ignored. As far as its records were concerned, he was the owner of the vehicles and had to be the driver committing the offences - even though on one day he was supposed to be driving one car in Albury and the other in Grafton.

Mr Day said his client's fines mounted up - to more than $10,000 - and Mr Gordon had his licence suspended for failure to pay them.

"Without a car and driver's licence he could not get a job. I estimated the cost of travelling to different courts around the state to fight the fines was more than $20,000, which he could not afford. He gave in and accepted it even though he was not to blame." But Mr Day said Mr Gordon had to drive without a licence to find work. He was charged four times for driving while disqualified. "He had been suspended for 25 years and I told him [that] he would receive a jail term," Mr Day said.

"I told him to get a pushbike and that he would have to ride it for the next 25 years." On February 25, Mr Gordon was riding along the San Remo cycleway to his parents' home at Gorokan. He was found lying beside the pushbike with serious head injuries. Police do not know why he fell from the bike. Mr Gordon, who was engaged to Tanaya Frew, died in the John Hunter Hospital on March 7.

His mother said the traffic infringement system oppressed and harassed innocent people. "Nathan would be alive today if they believed him. The system needs to be changed."

Mr Day said people would say Mr Gordon should not have driven when ordered not to, but "the whole point of this matter is that the system seeks to impose liability for offences on people who are not legally responsible for those offences".

In a statement, the RTA did not comment directly on Mr Gordon's case but said the safety of all road users is of the highest concern to the RTA. The RTA said it sympathised with the family for their loss.


Government healthcare at work again

QUEENSLAND Health has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after trying to claw back pay from staff who worked around the clock during the flood crisis.

The department yesterday apologised for the latest payroll bungle after The Sunday Mail discovered staff trapped at a hospital isolated during the floods were in uproar over attempts to recoup thousands of dollars in paid penalties.

The nurses and other staff at The Park Centre for Mental Health had worked back-to-back shifts through the Brisbane floods in the belief they would receive fatigue penalties because the facility west of Brisbane had been cut off.

But while at least five memos were issued by management as high as director-general Mick Reid praising their work and flagging special allowances, bureaucrats recently moved to take the money back.

The latest saga comes after health bureaucrats embarrassed the department in January, demanding staff affected by floods justify their absence by photographing damaged possessions.

It follows revelations yesterday the state's two biggest public hospitals were planning to cut services to ease a $300 million budget blowout.

Queensland Health yesterday said nine staff at The Park were paid about $3000 in allowances but then received a notation on a subsequent pay slip warning the payments would be recouped.

The department put the number of affected staff at 35 but sources say the figure is closer to 100. One staffer's leaked pay slip shows they were deducted more than $1000 in fatigue allowances.

Deputy director-general John Cairns said he was committed to ensuring all staff kept the payments. "Given the error relates to employees who have gone beyond the call of their duties, (we will) waive the overpayments in this instance," he said.


Duck hunt protester shot

A fitting result for an arrogant and coercive person with no respect for the rights of others

A PROTESTER was hit with more than seven shotgun pellets, hours after the opening of the controversial duck hunting season yesterday. Julia Symons, 43, from St Kilda in Melbourne, sustained pellet injuries to her face, teeth and hand in a accidental shooting at Lake Buloke, in Victoria's west while protesting on the first day of the duck-hunting season, which runs until June 13.

A teenage gunman was questioned by police yesterday. Witnesses claim they saw the 14-year-old boy taunting Ms Symons minutes before she was peppered with shotgun pellets.

Police described the shooting as an accident after taking the alleged teenage shooter and his uncle to Donald Police Station for questioning.

Ms Symons, 43, was last night recovering from her injuries at Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham after at least seven pellets lodged in her face and right hand.

Coalition Against Duck Shooting attempted to disrupt the 1500-plus hunters who had descended on Buloke lake for duck opening season.


Duck hunting is beneficial

DUCK hunting in Victoria is regulated, sustainable and of economic and cultural importance.

This year marks the first full 12-week duck hunting season in 10 years. Recent rain has seen wetlands across the state fill with water and waterfowl have been breeding to prolific numbers. There is no doubt that duck hunting under present regulations is sustainable and responsible.

The town of Donald, near Lake Buloke, was an area badly affected by the recent floods. Many of the businesses there have been thrown a lifeline by the number of hunters who will continue visiting the area throughout the season.

Hunters from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Sydney have also travelled to the area, demonstrating that the sport is beneficial to Victorian tourism.

The game-hunting tradition in Victoria is of great cultural importance. When visiting duck hunting camps, I often see three generations of the same family together.

They make sure their younger hunters learn to use firearms properly and they continue on that strong tradition.
All hunters must successfully pass a Waterfowl Identification Test by law before they hunt ducks in Victoria, meaning they are able to identify the correct birds to hunt. It is in hunters' interests to see bird populations sustained and bag limits are strictly regulated.


Note: I have two other blogs covering Australian news. They are more specialized so are not updated daily but there are updates on both most weeks. See QANTAS/Jetstar for news on Qantas failings and Australian police news for news on police misbehaviour

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