Sunday, October 16, 2011

What a lot of bureaucratic nonsense!

With what they pay bureaucrats to enforce this, they could give EVERYBODY a new fridge

TAXPAYERS will help poorer households buy new washing machines, fridges and dryers in a bid to help them reduce their energy bills. And trained workers will be sent to more than 50,000 low-income households to give them one-on-one budgeting lessons.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin will announce the $30 million Home Energy Saver Scheme today during Anti-Poverty Week. The scheme will start next year before the introduction of the Government's controversial carbon tax on July 1.

The initiative will fund a range of measures, including:

* Help to access no or low-interest loans to buy energy-efficient appliances;

* A complete financial health check that evaluates all household spending, and advice on how to tap into schemes such as off-peak energy periods;

* Strategies to ensure bills are paid on time; and
Advice on how to reduce energy use by installing energy-efficient lighting.

Ms Macklin said the funding would be on top of the extra assistance low-income households would receive to help cope with rising bills under the carbon tax.

"Low-income households have much less room to move in their budgets, which is why we will deliver assistance through increased payments and tax cuts," she said.

She said households would pay an extra $9.90 a week under the carbon tax, but the average assistance will be $10.10 a week.


Old lady thinks the rules don't apply to her

By the nose and the Arabic surname of her daughter, I imagine she is of Lebanese origin. It is because of Lebanese that the NSW police have a Middle Eastern Crime squad -- another indication of egotistical disrespect for the rules

IT was a dog fight of monumental proportions. In one corner was the ex-politician living in his penthouse. In the other, the 83-year-old pensioner and her pet poodle.

Widow Margaret Michael claims she was harassed for months by the body corporate chairman of her South Bank unit complex after her daughter gave her the toy poodle late last year.

The body corporate boss is former transport minister Steve Bredhauer who, with wife Lynne Pask, lives several floors above Mrs Michael in the penthouse apartment at Arbour on Grey.

The stoush began when Mrs Michael, whose husband died two years ago, was given the female puppy, Gussy, by daughter Adrienne Ghanem. Mrs Ghanem worried about her mum being lonely.

What followed was a long-running dispute with the building's body corporate that ended last Tuesday when Mrs Michael was forced to send Gussy to live with a friend in north Queensland. "I'm heartbroken, but I can't fight it anymore," she said.

Mrs Michael said she was unaware she needed approval to keep a dog when she got Gussy and, when the body corporate later rejected her application, she appealed.

She claims she has suffered stress from Mr Bredhauer repeatedly calling Gussy names like "dirty stinking dog" and labelling her a "troublemaker".

On one occasion, Mr Bredhauer stopped her from using the apartment lift with Gussy."I had one leg in but he refused to allow me in because of my 'smelly dog'," Mrs Michael said.

Mr Bredhauer says he was in a business suit, and had bags and groceries in the lift, and did not want the dog jumping up on him.

The former Beattie government minister says he has merely been sticking up for the rights of other apartment residents who did not want the dog in the building.

"I have no doubt Mrs Michael has been caused stress by this," Mr Bredhauer told The Sunday Mail.

"I have told her on a number of occasions that her dog is a nuisance and I have said to her she should be ashamed she's putting people through the discomfort of having to listen to her dog barking constantly."

The Queensland Body Corporate Commissioner rejected Mrs Michael's appeal on September 30, after considering 37 submissions against her keeping the dog. Five supported her.

The mother of 11, who has lived in the building for 10 years, said only Mr Bredhauer, his wife and the building manager had complained to her.

Ms Ghanem said she regularly washed Gussy and Mrs Michael denied the dog barked excessively.

Mr Bredhauer said the rights of other tenants who wanted to live in a pet-free building should be respected.


Greeks rush at chance to migrate to Australia

HE helped to build the Australian embassy in Athens but now George Triantafillou is joining the queue outside the building to try to emigrate.

"There are no jobs," Mr Triantafillou, an electrician and father of two, said. "After the Olympic Games, jobs in construction collapsed. I closed my company in 2009. "Now I'm working as a removals man. I make 30 per cent of what I used to earn."

Thousands of Greeks have decided that the best way out of the country's profound economic crisis is to leave their homeland. When the Australian embassy announced recently that it was seeking skilled immigrants, there was a rush to fill out application forms.

A total of 773 people, with experience in healthcare, engineering, construction and automotive and mechanical trades, were eventually accepted.

"Because of the situation in Greece, people have seen this as an opportunity," said Lancia Jordana, of the Immigration Department. "But we need to have Australian employers who are interested in sponsoring people. The demand has outstripped supply."

A constant stream of would-be emigrants continues to turn up at the embassy seeking work. "I heard on TV that Australia is open for immigration and I am looking for a job," said George Kouduris, married with one child. "I have been working as a crane driver but there are no jobs in the crane business. Even if there are jobs, the crane owners want to do it themselves. "I want to be a truck driver or electrician in Australia."

Alexandros Patsis, a carpenter, had a furniture-making business with his two brothers and 15 workers. The economic crisis forced them to lay off all their workers. "Now it is only me and my brothers," said the father of two. "Nobody asks us to do any jobs. I made houses, furniture, doors, but now nobody wants to make anything, so we do not have any work."

Anna Triandafyllidou, a researcher at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy in Athens, said Greece experienced mass emigration after the World War II to North America, Australia and European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and France. The trend reversed after the oil crisis in 1973, when the emigrants started to return from Germany and the United States.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain, Greece experienced an influx of immigrants in the late 1980s and early 90s, first with ethnic Greeks from the USSR and then from countries such as Albania. Now the trend is reversing again.

The lack of jobs is so severe that many recent immigrants are thinking of going elsewhere. Every day Pakistanis line up outside their embassy in Athens trying to get papers to go home.


Weird assault on free speech

The High Court would probably disallow it but getting into that court takes big bucks

THE Victorian Parliament is set to pass new legislation making it a criminal offence to "insult" Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien.

Fines of up to $11,945 will be given to anyone found guilty of upsetting the minister and his staff under the extraordinary new offence.

The Baillieu Government is seeking changes to the Gaming Regulation Act which it says are "reasonably necessary to respect the rights and reputation of the minister and authorised persons". If passed, the ruling will become law.

The amendment proposed to the Act will make it an offence to "assault, obstruct, hinder, threaten, abuse, insult or intimidate" the minister or authorised persons exercising "due diligence" in monitoring gambling systems such as pokies.

State Labor has seized on the extraordinary amendment, with Opposition gaming spokesman Martin Pakula branding the minister "Windscreens O'Brien - because this proves he's got a glass jaw".

"Is the minister so precious that he now needs legislation to protect him from insults?" he said.

"I thought I better make these comments before the Bill passes in case I breach the new rules and insult Mr O'Brien."

The bipartisan Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee also raised concerns about the move last week, noting "the criminalisation of insults may capture behaviour that is unlikely to hinder the exercise of powers ... or impinge on anyone's rights or reputation".

Asked why the new "offence" law was necessary and what its intention was, a spokeswoman for Mr O'Brien, Emily Broadbent, tried to deflect attention away from the minister, despite his title being clearly attached to the legislation.

"This provision protects officers of the gambling regulator from bullying or intimidation when exercising powers at the direction of the Minister for Gaming," she said.

"The minister can look after himself, but does not believe that those working on his behalf should have to put up with harassment."

The new offence relates primarily to "legacy monitoring" - accessing information from betting agencies Tatts and TAB about policing they did in gaming venues.

The Government awarded lottery company Intralot a contract to monitor the state's poker machine industry last month.

The Bill passed the Lower House last week and is expected to be introduced to the Upper House when Parliament resumes on October 25.


That Leftist love of compulsion again

The Howard government’s abolition of compulsory student unionism was a victory for fairness and efficiency. Until then, Australia’s university students – even part-time and remote students – had been forced to pay hundreds of dollars a year for campus services they didn’t use and to bankroll student activists and clubs they didn’t care for.

When the imposition ended in 2006, students had an extra $200 million a year to spend, money they could use on whatever goods or services they wanted, on or off the university campus.

This week the federal Parliament passed legislation to introduce compulsory student amenity and service fees up to $250 per student. Fees will now be administered by universities rather than student unions. And the government will be able to lend needy students the money to pay the fee.

Regardless, these compulsory fees still have no economic or social justification. For a start, Australian universities thrived after 2006. Enrolments grew, and Australian universities hold their own in the 2011 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Every student studying for a degree will be forced to subsidise other students and unaccountable university officials.

And the 19 purposes for which fees can still be used make the attempt to keep funds away from student unions seem laughable. Section 19-38 permits universities to spend the fees to ‘support the administration of a club most of whose members are students’; support ‘debating’ and ‘artistic activity’ by students; and give ‘students information to help them in their orientation.’ Assuming the latter is not sexual counsel, students should be able to read a campus map without guidance.

Ideally, universities should be free to set their own fees and educational standards.
With such fees, they might freely choose to subsidise certain on-campus activities. But hard-headed university managers are unlikely to approve. Why would a university, an institution of teaching and research, devote students’ valuable fees to services and goods that can be provided on or off campus more efficiently and effectively by businesses?

A discrete ‘compulsory service and amenity’ fee smacks of token socialism.
University students should not be treated differently from other students, or workers for that matter. The latter are certainly not forced to contribute to a common fund for common services regardless of whether they use them.

Proponents might say the compulsory student fee functions just like a tax, and nobody is suggesting we ban all taxes. That’s true, no one is – but universities have no right to levy taxes.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'University students should not be treated differently from other students, or workers for that matter. The latter are certainly not forced to contribute to a common fund for common services regardless of whether they use them.'

You are not entirely correct in that statement. Many workers pay union fees for services they neither use or want. Student union fees are extortion just as workers union fees are extortion.

If union fees were used purely for negotiating better wages and conditions then I would agree just as if student union fees were directed to the benefit of all students rather than the socialist few fostering conservative oppression from both the student council and the universities as well.