Monday, November 28, 2011

DNA proves man is not child's father, mother must pay back nearly $13k

A WOMAN has been ordered to pay her former husband almost $13,000 in child support after DNA tests confirmed he was not the father of her 14-year-old son.

The man - who once caught his wife in a compromising position with a neighbour - secretly took the boy for a DNA test after his own mother raised doubts about the boy's parentage from the time he was four. "(X) is looking less and less like you. There is nothing similar, not even his ears or toes or fingers," the man's mother said.

The couple began living together in their late 20s and married in 1984. The boy was born in 1995 and still believes the man is his father. "For him, this has been an unfortunate situation not of his own making," Federal Magistrate Stephen Scarlett said in his ruling.

"In January 2009, the parties separated and the person whom the child thought was his father moved out of the matrimonial home. Less than a year and a half later, the child's father figure no longer has anything to do with him. "Effectively, he is now without a father, through no fault of his own. From the child's point of view, his father (as he thought) has rejected him, for no apparent reason.

"The applicant's desire to find out the truth about the child's paternity will result in a financial benefit to him, at the expense of collateral damage to the child."

The couple divorced in 2010, but the father continued paying for the boy's overseas holidays, school fees and $700 a month in child support. Now the court has ordered the women to pay the man $12,969.

The man has had no contact with the boy he believed was his son since the DNA tests confirmed he was not the father. The woman must repay the child support as well as $4038 in court costs within 12 months.


Federal Government to hand out $550 million to keep Queensland children at school

Poor families get a chance at bigger handouts

ALMOST $550 million will be set aside by the Federal Government to lure Queensland parents into keeping their children in school until Year 12.

New figures reveal that parents of more than 137,700 Queensland teenagers will qualify for a $4000 average payment to stop their kids dropping out of school.

The cash carrot is aimed at arresting the alarming rate of dropouts nationally, with 630,000 teens eligible across the country.

Premier Anna Bligh said last month Queensland's retention rate was higher than the national average of 78.5 per cent.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today will urge parents to take up the offer when it kicks in on January 1, in the interests of their children's education and future employment prospects.

"There's only one place for kids to be and that's in school," she said. "My message is clear. Stay in school. When you leave school for the summer break, don't say long goodbyes. Come back next year and finish your education. It will open doors and give you a big leg-up in life."

The payments, a key election promise of Ms Gillard, will be offered to parents of 16 to 19-year-old teenagers across the state, in the form of an income tested boost to existing Family Tax Benefit A. The students would have to stay in full-time secondary school study or a vocational equivalent such as a TAFE course.

New research suggests the cost of keeping older teenagers in school is 30-40 per cent higher than younger students, yet the current family tax payments wind down by more than 70 per cent after children turn 16.

Currently, the maximum FTB A payments drop by almost 70 per cent when students turn 16, with the highest bracket dropping from up to $6300 to about $2000.

The Prime Minister said the extra money would help struggling families keep their children in school which, in turn, would help them get better jobs and higher incomes. "This will be a big help to those families under financial pressure, who are finding it hard to support older teenagers to stay at school or in training," Ms Gillard said. "It's not right that at the moment, families get less money when their kids turn 16. We're turning that around."

The $4000 boost would help families cope with the extra costs of keeping their older teenagers in school.

The maximum rate of FTB A for 16-17 year-olds in secondary school would be increased by $4208 and for 18-19 year-olds in school, by $3741 a year.


Plan for world's biggest marine park in Coral Sea will prove costly

PLANS to protect the Coral Sea as the world's biggest marine park will cost taxpayers a billion-dollar buyout, deep-sea fishing industry figures warn.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke yesterday unveiled draft plans for the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve covering nearly 1 million square kilometres of ocean, nearly half the size of Queensland.

Great Barrier Reef Tuna owner Bob Lamason, who has four of 15 long-line tuna boats operating in the Coral Sea, said the proposal spelled the end of his multimillion-dollar family business. "We'll be left with nothing," said the veteran skipper, who sends 700 tonnes of fish to market every year. "They'll have to pay us all out - a complete buyout of licences, boats and business - or we face death by a thousand cuts."

Mr Burke said the Coral Sea had a diverse array of coral reefs, sandy cays, deep sea plains and canyons with more than 20 outstanding examples of isolated tropical reefs.

Some fish species found in the Coral Sea - from the Torres Strait to Bundaberg and between 60km and 1100km offshore - were under pressure from over-fishing and habitat degradation.

Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters said the draft plan did not go far enough. "Of the handful of commercial fishers operating in the Coral Sea, most are willing to be bought out," she said. "And the Greens will push in our Budget negotiations with Government for appropriate compensation to end commercial fishing and create one large, protected area."

Senator Waters said the Greens welcomed the proposed ban on oil and gas mining, sea bed trawling and gillnet fishing.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokesman Darren Kindleysides said only the eastern half of the Reef had been set aside while the western half contained most of the species-rich coral reefs and critical spawning sites for black marlin and threatened tuna.

Cairns and Far North Environment Centre spokesman Steve Ryan said many Coral Sea jewels were unprotected.

Queensland Seafood Industry Association president Geoff Tilton said the fishing ban would hurt fishermen and consumers.


NSW government caves in to featherbedded unionists

It’s business as usual at Sydney Ferries. Unions have managed to secure a cosy little deal with the government. Along with 3.25% annual wage increases for the next two years, workers will receive a once-off bonus payment of 30 weeks pay simply for taking a job with the soon-to-be private ferry operator. All financed of course by the NSW taxpayer.

A month ago I released a paper arguing that the franchise reform planned for Sydney Ferries will not create any meaningful change for Sydney’s taxpayers. I argued that whilst there may be a lot of talk about improvement and value for taxpayers, there will be no competition, no reduction in subsidies, and no incentive to increase productivity. The controls, the restrictions and the wasted tax dollars will all continue, only under the guise of reform and privatisation.

At the time I wrote the paper, all the hallmarks of union abuse were there – inflexible work practices, low productivity, generous pay and benefits, and abuse of sick leave and other penalties. I was hopeful that even if new management could not solve the structural problems of monopoly and subsidy, perhaps they could solve these cultural problems and increase productivity.

If these recent events are anything to go by, it looks like the unions are set to transfer their old obstructive, rent-seeking behaviours to the new operator and the government have acquiesced to it.

So what was happening in the private market while the workers were off the job securing their juicy accord? The two private fast-ferry companies that operate alongside Sydney Ferries on the Manly leg took full advantage of Sydney Ferries’ absence by adding extra services and slashing prices.

The words of Manly Fast Ferry’s Richard Ford sum it up quite nicely: ‘The market is always a better place if there’s competition.’


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