Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Must not speak the truth about "boat people"

("Boat people" are illegal immigrants, mostly Afghans and other poorly educated Muslims, who arrive in Australian waters by boat. They are immediatey imprisoned on arrival while their claims to be asylum seekers are assessed)

SERCO, the company that runs immigration detention, has stood down an officer who posted Facebook comments saying Muslim children in detention did not deserve Christmas presents and male detainees taught their children it was acceptable to beat wives.

The Serco officer, who has direct contact with asylum seekers held at the Darwin Airport Lodge, posted the Facebook comments on Monday, after an incident in which Christmas presents for 200 children were not handed out by officers until 12 days after Christmas.

"A member of Serco Immigration Services staff has been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation," a spokesman for the company said yesterday.

In the first Facebook comment, the officer wrote: "Sad for all the Christian kids! Not sure why Islamist (sic?) would want Christmas present."

A short time later he posted: "I don't know of any country in the world that you can enter illegally an be granted freedom immediately! No one abuses them, perhaps u forget the saying it takes two to tango. Maybe you need to come and face these men who teach their children that women have no rights. I guess you must think there is nothing wrong with domestic violence."

Victoria Martin-Iverson, a West Australian refugee advocate, saw the comments posted on Serco Watch, a Facebook page that monitors news about the multinational company that runs prisons in Britain as well as Australia's immigration detention network. The officer had boldly included his real name, which linked back to his own Facebook page that stated he was a Serco officer in Darwin.

"I thought they were pretty outrageous comments," Ms Martin-Iverson said. "What he essentially said is they are wife beaters. It is horrific and he is working directly with asylum seekers." She contacted the immigration department and the department's compliance division responded.

An immigration department spokeswoman said: "The department is aware of the incident. The detention services provider is investigating the matter as they are required to do under the terms of their contract."


Conservative politician sorry for saying migrants don't know how to wear deodorant or line up properly

Her comments were undoubtedly too general but the big immigration issue in Australia at the moment is the "boat people" -- and most Australians would have understood that she was referring to them. And her comments would have been true of many of them

A Liberal [Party] MP who said migrants should learn how to use deodorant has been reprimanded by her party and ordered to apologise.

Opposition citizenship spokeswoman Teresa Gambaro said lessons on hygiene and common courtesy would make immigrants fit in better in Australia, the Herald Sun reported.

Acting Opposition Leader Warren Truss said Ms Gambaro had been left in no doubt she was out of line. "She obviously went too far in her comments and they're certainly out of step with modern Australian attitudes," he said.

While declining to say who doled out the discipline, Mr Truss said: "Certainly she's been made aware that the comments were inappropriate. They weren't in line with Coalition policy and she's acknowledged that."

Ms Gambaro had said new arrivals should be taught to use deodorant on public transport and not push in when queuing, as well as other lessons like the importance of immunisation. "Without trying to be offensive, we are talking about hygiene and what is an acceptable norm in this country," she said in an interview with The Australian.

The comments sparked a tirade of community anger, followed by a statement in which Ms Gambaro said the comments were "taken out of context". But she admitted they were inappropriate and did not reflect Coalition policy, and apologised for any offence caused.

Migration groups said the comments were offensive, pointing out that migrants on 457 visas were skilled professionals such as managers, engineers and accountants.


Teachers stay with religion

SCHOOLS in Tasmania have overwhelmingly chosen to keep religious chaplains, after a change last year that meant they could also take on non-religious welfare workers.

Of 96 roles in Tasmania, 89 have been set aside for a chaplain or religious worker, four by welfare workers with three not yet determined.

Schools will apply for the next round of Federal Government-funded welfare workers by March 2.

Scripture Union Tasmania said that its chaplains were equally happy ministering to students from a non-Christian background. "The job description of the welfare worker and the chaplain is identical, down to providing spiritual support," chief executive officer Ruth Pinkerton said.

Schools can get up to $60,000 over three years for chaplain or student welfare workers.


$15m wasted on another Qld. State Government IT disaster

When will governments learn to buy "off the shelf" computer systems only?

THE State Government has blown $15 million of taxpayer money on a project that may never see the light of day.

Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) is responsible for the IT disaster, which has seen millions given to an external company to develop an online finance platform and overhaul QTC's "customer transaction system".

In April 2009, QTC, which manages public sector debt and investments, handed a contract to Temenos, a global company headquartered in Switzerland that provides banking software to organisations around the world, to implement its T24 banking system "as the core platform of their (QTC's) Onlending and Investment Administration (OLIA) solution," according to a Temenos announcement.

However, the company was dumped when its contract was terminated shortly before Christmas as the date for the system to go live blew out.

In the QTC 2008/09 annual report, the new system is "scheduled for implementation by July 2010", but in the following year's report the launch date is pushed back to be "delivered in 2011".

Writing in the 2009/10 QTC annual report, then acting Chairman, Alex Beavers, and then chief executive, Stephen Rochester, who is now chairman, trumpet the project as one of the "largest organisation-wide initiatives QTC has ever undertaken".

"(It) will provide customers with significant autonomy with routine financial management transactions, and generate efficiencies for QTC that will enable us to focus more resources on high-priority, value-adding advisory work," the report reads.

However in a sign the roll out of the system was not going according to plan, the most recent annual report does not mention Temenos and describes the project without the fanfare of the previous year.

"Development continued on the client transaction system that will, when rolled out, offer clients an enhanced experience and greater efficiency by allowing them to undertake day-to-day management of their own borrowing requirements online," it says in a bullet point on page nine of the 2010/11 report.

The disclosure statement between QTC and Temenos blames the dumping of Temenos on a "strategic review" of the project objectives which "identified a desired change in the project's direction".

Treasurer Andrew Fraser said the contract was scrapped "to ensure a value-for-money outcome’’.

Opposition IT spokeswoman Ros Bates said it was another embarrassing IT gaffe from the Bligh Government. "My understanding is the contract for T24 was terminated just before Christmas 2011, as the go live date kept getting pushed out," she said. "Under this long-term Labor government it's clear that IT disasters are not just confined to the Health department."

QTC, which is responsible for allocating funding, cash management, and advising on financial risk management to the State Government and public sector organisations, released a statement to The Courier-Mail saying $7.5 million had been paid to Temenos for software and services, with a "similar" amount paid to QTC staff working on the system delivery. QTC said the total budget for the project was $27.4 million.

"QTC is no longer implementing Temenos' core banking software platform. Instead, much of the functionality developed during the project will continue to be implemented into QTC's existing IT platform," QTC, which manages $65 billion of loans and investments, said in the statement. "QTC will now continue to develop their IT upgrade internally." [Yet more waste???]

With an election tipped to be called this month, the latest government IT gaffe comes after it was revealed last month $46 million was wasted on an inter-departmental email system which caters for just 2000 accounts - costing $23,000 per user.


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