Friday, January 27, 2012

It's all clear now

I have closed my Qantas blog because it has become clear what was going on at Qantas: The constant equipment failures on Qantas planes were deliberate sabotage by Qantas maintenance staff. The union knew that the work they do was gradually going overseas and that they were all in danger of losing their jobs so in their addled way they thought that their constant undermining of Qantas reliability would lead Qantas to come to terms with them and give them "job security" -- i.e. guarantee no more transfer of maintenance work overseas.

When Mr Joyce grounded the fleet, however, it became clear to them that they were dealing with a man who was not going to buckle and who would weather the storm of taking ALL their work away.

So what happened? The constant maintenance problems Qantas was having suddenly ceased. From that time to this Qantas has not had to turn back a single flight due to equipment malfunction. It is that sudden large change which speaks louder than words in revealing what was going on. The unions realized that the equipment malfunctions were a good reason to give them all the boot so have stopped their constant sabotage.

Further evidence that the union concerned is now shit-scared for their jobs is the fact that they were first to reach a settlement with Qantas under the Fair Work Australia negotiating process. They went from being the most militant union to being the tamest. And they settled despite Qantas refusing them one of their major demands: Bring the A380 maintenance to Australia.

These are totally despicable people who repeatedly risked the lives of Qantas passsengers with their sabotage. I think Qantas should still fire the lot of them and have all Qantas maintenance done in Germany -- JR

DCP under fire over Aboriginal baby's death

Another kid dies because of the "stolen generation" myth. Welfare bodies are afraid to take black kids away from feral black families in case they are accused of "stealing" the kid

The [WA] Department of Child Protection has come under scrutiny over its handling of the case of a baby who died under her parents' care.

A coronial inquest has heard this week that while the DCP knew the little girl and her twin sister were at risk, it ignored requests from police and hospital staff for them to be taken into protective custody.

The seven-month-old died while sleeping next to her father at their home in Kalgoorlie in June 2008.

The cause of death was undetermined but was consistent with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The babies' father Shannon Benfield broke down in court today as he gave evidence to the inquest and said he had no idea of the risks of co-sleeping.

He said the DCP gave him no advice on caring for the babies and said co-sleeping was normal in Nyoongar culture.

Mr Benfield cared for the babies, and the couple's other young toddler, after their mother Terrilee Smith was involuntarily admitted to a mental ward after giving birth.

Mr Benfield admitted leaving the babies with two 11-year-old children on one occasion as he went to call his partner. He was arrested by police the same day and sent to jail for unpaid fines.

The DCP then facilitated an informal agreement with a relative to care for all three children.

But three months later, when Mr Benfield was released from jail and Ms Smith from hospital, a rift developed within the family and the couple took their children back.

The inquest heard that because no formal agreement had been reached, the couple were legally entitled to take the children from the temporary carers.

In his opening address on Monday, counsel assisting the coroner Sergeant Lyle Housiaux said the DPC ignored a request from police to take custody of the twins and the couple's other child.

He said the couple had a history of domestic violence and appeared unprepared to care for their children.

"It is unclear who held authority or responsibility over these children. It would appear that there was still a very real risk of harm to the children because Mr Benfield or Ms Smith could have taken the children at any time," he said.

Former DCP Kalgoorlie team leader Gabrielle Egan told the inquest this afternoon that while the department had concerns for the children, it was deemed in their best interests to leave them with family members rather than place them into care.

She said the department played a "supportive role, in the background."

Under questioning from coroner Dominic Mulligan, she admitted that formal assessment of neither the relatives nor the children's parents had been carried out.

But she said the relatives were deemed to be suitable short-term carers, and she had no idea that the couple had planned to take the children back.

Mr Benfield said he was often left confused by his interactions with the DPC, and said it would have benefited him if an Aboriginal staff member had worked with him.

"Why put my kids away when they just could have come and helped me and Terrilee," he said.


Brisbane flood coverup

ANNA Bligh's right-hand man was told two days before Brisbane flooded about crucial information on the operation of Wivenhoe Dam that has this week sparked the reopening of the flood inquiry.

In revelations that will draw the Premier into the controversy, The Courier-Mail can reveal that Ken Smith, then director-general of the Premier's Department and Cabinet, was sent an email by Seqwater on water releases on the morning of January 10, 2011.

The email, sent by Seqwater's head of operations Dan Spiller, said Wivenhoe Dam was letting out water under a transitional strategy, not more rapid releases designed to protect Brisbane, as the inquiry has been told.

It shows that contradictions between documents at the time and Seqwater's later account of events - which have prompted the reopening of the inquiry - should have been known at the highest levels of government for months.

The email was submitted in evidence to the inquiry by Water Minister Stephen Robertson in April but the names of some recipients, including Mr Smith, were blacked out.

However, an unedited version of the email obtained by The Courier-Mail using Right to Information laws shows it was sent to Mr Smith as well as senior police officers.

The email says: "As specified in the approved Operational Procedures, the primary objective is now to minimising the risk of urban inundation (release strategy W2). This involves larger releases now, minimising the risk of even larger releases later (were the flood compartment to reach high levels)."

According to the manual in use at the time, the W2 strategy is "a transition strategy where the primary consideration changes from minimising impact to downstream rural life to protecting urban areas from inundation".

Mr Spiller's dam engineering colleagues who testified at the inquiry said operators went from a "W1E" strategy straight to W3, under which much bigger releases are allowed, and W2 was never used. Seqwater's official reports, compiled after the flood, back this version of events.

The Premier yesterday dodged questions about what she knew about the strategy being employed at Wivenhoe during the floods. "I honestly can't answer the question," she told reporters. "I was asking: 'Are people safe?'"

She denied ever receiving briefings on Wivenhoe from Mr Spiller, who stepped down from a job in her office as a policy adviser this week "so there can be absolutely no conflict".

Seqwater said it would be inappropriate to comment.

The Premier's office referred The Courier-Mail to a spokesman for Mr Robertson who said it was "precisely matters such as these that the Commission of Inquiry will interrogate at the additional public hearings next week".


Adverse findings against crooked unionist/politician

THE formal investigation by Fair Work Australia into the Health Services Union has made adverse findings against key union officials including the president, Michael Williamson, the national secretary, Kathy Jackson, and the former national secretary Craig Thomson, now a federal MP.

The three were notified last month that the workplace regulator intended to make adverse findings against them.

They were given several weeks to respond formally to the allegations. After considering their responses, the regulator will release its final report

Mr Williamson said in a text message yesterday that his lawyers had not finalised his responses but the allegations against him were "bread and butter stuff".

Mr Thomson denies receiving anything from the regulator.

Ms Jackson said she had not known she was being investigated. "I am outraged by the contraventions being alleged against me," she said. "I will prove that they are utterly without foundation. If I had been given an opportunity to answer them before now, when a draft report has been prepared, I am sure I would not be facing them."

It is understood that some of the allegations against Mr Williamson and Ms Jackson relate to administrative breaches, such as failing to comply with financial reporting obligations, and are not as serious as those against Mr Thomson, who is accused of using his position for personal advantage.

The allegations against him were received by Fair Work Australia's predecessor, the Australian Industrial Registry, in April 2009. The regulator did not start a formal investigation until March 2010. It was overseen by Terry Nassios.

Appearing before a Senate estimates hearing last February Mr Nassios said he had interviewed 12 people about the allegations. But Labor senators prevented him saying whether Mr Thomson was one of them.

Mr Thomson was with the union for 20 years, rising to the position of national secretary before being elected the MP for Dobell in 2007. He was re-elected in 2010.

An independent audit by BDO Kendall after Mr Thomson's departure found that during his five years as national secretary his union credit card had been used to withdraw cash advances totalling $101,533.

The advances ranged from $100 to $600 and occurred every few days for five years until November 2007. His credit card had also been used at a Sydney brothel and two escort agencies and to pay restaurants and bars and for personal items.

Mr Thomson is understood to have denied any wrongdoing during his compulsory examination by the regulator, which later refused a request by NSW Police for the contents of the interview.

Mr Thomson is also the subject of an inquiry by the Victoria Police about allegations that he misused his union credit card.

He and Mr Williamson are also the subject of a NSW Police investigation into allegations that they received secret commissions from a supplier to the union. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

The federal opposition has targeted Mr Thomson because of the government's precarious situation. Should Mr Thomson be forced to quit his seat, the government is likely to fall. But he would not have to resign unless convicted of a crime carrying a one-year jail term.

The maximum penalty for a breach under the fair work legislation is a $2200 fine. But allegations of criminal offences can be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.


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