Monday, December 26, 2011

When will they ever learn?

I think the Gillard government must WANT our navy to be useless. The navy never got the Collins subs to work so how are they going to get more advanced subs to work?

AUSTRALIA can build a new fleet of 12 state-of-the-art submarines in Adelaide for $18 billion, less than half the cost of initial estimates, according to a major report to be released next month.

The report, by strategic think tank the Kokoda Foundation, will be embraced by the Gillard government, which has been under pressure from critics to opt for smaller, cheaper, ready-made submarines from Europe rather than pursue Navy's more expensive but preferred option of building a next generation of the Collins-class boats.


Negligent college kills girl

And then does a coverup

A coroner has described a New South Wales TAFE report on the death of a student in a horse fall as being "not worth the paper it was written on".

Deputy state coroner Sharon Freund said jillaroo student Sarah Waugh died from head and neck injuries after falling from a bolting horse that was unsuitable for a beginner.

In March 2009 the 18-year-old from Newcastle was learning to ride as part of a TAFE jillaroo course at Dubbo in the NSW central west.

The coroner criticised TAFE for not being thorough enough in assessing horses used for beginner riders and said the ex-racehorse Dargo had been obtained for use just days after running in a race.

Ms Waugh fell from the horse after it bolted in a paddock and she was unable to stop it.

The coroner said TAFE staff gave conflicting evidence at an inquest and that the teacher supervising Ms Waugh had little formal experience in teaching beginners how to ride.
Sarah Waugh in her Jillaroo gear, just days before she was killed falling from a horse in 2009. Photo: Sarah Waugh's parents hope her death becomes a legacy to help improve safety. (ABC)

Ms Freund said the TAFE investigation and report on the death was inadequate.

"That investigation and subsequent report failed to uncover or identify any failure of any workplace practices or procedures," she said. "The investigation and subsequent report was essentially not worth the paper it was written on."

Outside Glebe Coroners Court, Ms Waugh's father Mark welcomed the findings. "We feel relieved... relieved that the truth is finally out there. It's been a long process for us," he said.


Arrogant youth taught a lesson

Ten years ago, I drove cabs for a living. I’m pretty much done telling taxi stories, but there’s one I’ll share today, as it’s more or less in the spirit of Christmas.

It was the Friday before Christmas and I was working the area around Coogee/Maroubra on Sydney’s eastern suburbs beaches. It was a favourite spot to work as the fares were regular, and I stayed out of the city traffic.

So in the early evening, I pick up three young guys in South Coogee. They’re 18, maybe 19, and they get in the cab carrying brown paper bags filled with booze. They say “hey driver, can we drink this in here?”

Technically, the answer is no, no way, absolutely not. But I go sure, why not? Just don’t spill any. An accommodating driver is a driver who gets good tips.

The boys are stoked. You’re an awesome driver, they say. And you speak English too! That used to happen a lot. Like it was a compliment or something.

We’re heading to a local RSL club, where the boys are attending some kind of function. It’s only a short fare, but the mood is jovial and the smell of beer permeates the cab. The odour is strong. A little too strong.

When they get out, I see why. They have left their empty bottles on the back seat of the cab. The bottles were half full and there are puddles of beer below the seats. The boys walk off high-fiving and join the queue of young people on the steps of the RSL.

As a cabbie, you learn to put up with crap. Vomit, beer, bodily fluids, you name it. Once or twice a week, you lose half an hour to go and clean the cab mid-shift. It’s part of the game. So are runners. You can kick up a stink or you can get back on the road as soon as possible and make your money for the night. That’s normally how I played it.

But not this night. On this summery Friday evening, I am tired and frustrated and I want to make a point. So I park the cab. I ascend the RSL steps and approach the huge, muscular bouncer. The boys see me but think nothing of it.

I point the guys out to the bouncer. I tell him they’ve just trashed the back seat of my cab and I’d prefer he doesn’t let them in till they come and clean up their mess. He becomes an instant ally. Says he’ll look after me. There is an unspoken code between men and women with menial jobs. The public screws us, we screw ’em right back.

I retreat to the cab and wait, leaning against the door. When the boys reach the bouncer, I see him shaking his head. Then he marches them down my way. The boys are joking at first. But the smiles soon retreat.

The bouncer says he’s not letting them in the club till they’ve cleaned the car to my satisfaction. I ask the bouncer to bring me some bar towels and sponges or whatever he can get his hands on. This he does.

The boys clean. And clean some more until the beer puddles are soaked up and the car is cleaner than when I started the shift. The bouncer asks if I’m happy. Not yet, I say. So I make them clean where they’ve already cleaned, and then some.

By this stage, the boys are silent. All traces of bravado are gone, replaced by sullen resignation. When I finally decide I’m done, two of them look genuinely chastised. One remains defiant, and gives me a giant raised middle finger from the steps.

I couldn’t care less. My battle has been won, and even with the needless gratuitous extra wiping, I have been off the road for less time than if I’d done it myself.

There’s probably not a chance in a million that the bouncer is reading this piece. But if he is, I’d like to thank him. He didn’t just facilitate my revenge that night, he gave me dignity.

More importantly, he bestowed upon the boys the belittling emotion of indignity. I think too often nowadays people think they can get away with any kind of behaviour, any time. At the risk of sounding old and crusty, respect is on the wane. I reckon the boys would have benefited from that little episode.

What does this have to do with Christmas? Well, nothing directly, apart from the fact it happened in the Christmas week.

That said, I think the Christmas break is about more than religion. For churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike, I believe it’s a time of recharging and reflection. It’s a priceless few days to ponder our values, and how we might enact them in the year to come.

There’s a little of the vengeful cabbie and a little of the bouncer, a little of the chastised drunk boys and a little of the defiant kid in all of us. Our lives are busy, messy and often compromised. But they’re always better when we take time to slow down and refocus.


The tough little VW Beetle that could

This story has nothing to do with politics but I am a VW beetle fan. I have owned 5 of them. A VW motor is very simple, with no electronics, so its survival below is easily understandable

THIS orange VW Beetle has survived two floods in six years and earned its owner calls from friends around the world.

Natasha Donaghy said her hardy little vehicle was first flooded when a stormwater drain burst in Fortitude Valley, and more recently during the January 2011 floods.

Images of the car being carried through floodwater at Rosalie Village made local and international news as Queensland's flood crisis was beamed around the world.

She said the footage of the rescue was cause for concern to her partner's father in Scotland, and a girlfriend in France, when they recognised shots of her soggy car in Rosalie.

After leaving her car in Nash St overnight, Ms Donaghy returned to find floodwaters lapping at the tyres.

While conga lines of helpers from near and far helped evacuate Rosalie Village and nearby Beck St of goods and property, Ms Donaghy found herself staring at her car, wondering how to get it out of about a metre of floodwater.

She was just about to give up when a passing stranger noticed her predicament. "She said, 'leave it to me', turned around and did this wolf whistle and said 'I need 20 blokes now to come and lift this car out'," Ms Donaghy said.

She said that straight away a group of helpers materialised and carried her car to safety. "Everyone was clapping and cheering," she said.

The car is now back up and running, but needed about $2000 of repairs for the flood damage. Worth every cent, according to Ms Donaghy.


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