Important things are happening in Brisbane today
When I drove past the "Gabba" cricket ground a little while ago, there was a great stream of brown men headed in that direction. Why? The cricket is on again and after a thrashing by Australia the Indians are facing Sri Lanka today. And the two sides seem to be well matched so the supporters of both are hoping for a win.
There are a lot of South Asians in Brisbane and I would not be surprised if half of them are at the cricket today. Cricket is the main religion in that part of the world.
I have too much to do to attend the match but I get some of the excitement because I live at Woolloongabba and from where I sit at home I hear the roar of the crowd whenever someone hits a six or gets bowled out. I am barracking for India, though I have nothing whatsover against the Sri Lankans. The Pakistanis will of course be barracking for Sri Lanka -- JR
Public service mail delivery (or not)
I have had some parallel to the story below in my own experience. A colleague mailed me a rather large book in a proper padded bag and with the correct address on it. I never got it. It was returned to sender. He resent it in another envelope that included the original bag and its "return to sender" marking and it got through the second time. I wrote a letter of complaint to the Minister about it at the time but never got a reply -- JR
On 21 September I posted a letter with some documents and a cheque at the post office in Mossman, Queensland.
The post office is located on 24 Front Street and the letter was addressed to the council office on 64 Front Street. Although the distance from post office to council office is only a few hundred metres the letter never ever made it there.
An enquiry was lodged with Australia Post where my missing letter with cheque was but they were not interested in investigating the matter.
I decided to do my own investigation and mailed another test letter to the council office, this time with my return address on the back of the envelope. And what do you know, several days later the letter was returned to me, with a sticker stating; "Address unknown"!!
With all the technology available now with smartphones with free QR code software that can generate QR code that delivering a piece of mail would be an easier process.
Would you believe it, even though the post office is on the same street as the council office, and the post office is staffed by long time locals who know perfectly well where the council office is, they sent my letter back to me saying the address was unknown!!!!!
So I phoned the Mossman post office for an explanation of this unbelievable stupidity, and spoke to the manager Belinda Thompson. She did admit that she knew where the council office was (so the address unknown sticker was a lie) but then came up with the excuse that the council office did not have a mailbox at their building so the postie could not deliver the mail there.
I informed her that the building does have doors, and that they even open automatically, so it is extremely easy to walk up to the counter and place the mail there. Oh no, she replied, then the postie would have to get off his bike!!!
Yes, would you believe it, the world has come to the point now that even though I have paid Australia Post to send my letter I can not expect their staff to get off their backside to deliver my letter!
What a great level of service, one letter disappeared and another returned to sender as address unknown, even though they know perfectly well where the address is!
Qld. Labor party candidate expelled for "incorrect" view on homosexuality
A TEENAGE Labor candidate has been expelled from the ALP today after defending claims that homosexuality degrades "our society's values". Former candidate for the seat of Southern Downs, Peter Watson, was forced to resign as a candidate yesterday after being linked to online rants about homophobia and neo-nazis.
Despite the ALP issuing a media statement claiming Mr Watson had flatly denied allegations against him when the controversy came to light yesterday, the 19-year-old on Tuesday morning defended some of the views offered in the 2007 posts.
During a radio interview Mr Watson stood by his earlier claims of links between pedophilia and homosexuality. "I said that homosexuality and pedophilia were linked because there has been some research done and it's been published by the Catholic Church that suggests that 30 per cent of male pedophiles are homosexuals," he said. "I made the comments so I do agree."
Mr Watson, whose resignation was announced in an ALP media release claiming he flatly denied the allegations, said he was not aware of all the allegations at the time the statement was issued.
ALP State Secretary Anthony Chisholm, who issued the media release, said Mr Watson denied the allegations at the time the document was being prepared. "Clearly he has had a change of mind on those matters but clearly the decision to ask for his resignation was the correct one and we stand by that and he is now no longer the party candidate," he said. "We'll be recommending to officers that Mr Watson be expelled because clearly his views have no place in the Australian Labor Party."
Yesterday, The Courier-Mail reported that a teenage Labor candidate has been forced to resign after being linked to online rants about homophobia and neo-nazis. Peter Watson, 19, was stood aside as Labor's candidate for the safe conservative seat of Southern Downs even though the party insisted he was not responsible for some of the highly offensive material.
Among posts under the name "Peter Watson", homosexuals are labelled as "degenerates" who should be "wiped out". "Homosexuality and pedophilia go hand in hand with each other," the post states. "To deal with one you must deal with the other in order to wipe them from society."
In another post under the name "Peter Watson aka Stalinist", the contributor insists he has masqueraded as a neo-nazi to "get information out of the enemy". "I gave the information about the stupid neo-nazis to my comrades and they dealt with the neo-nazis," it states. "Now most of those neo-nazis are in jail or bashed thanks to my lie."
There is also a post in which a "Peter Watson" promises to give out information on fellow Labor Party members as part of his "long battle against the commies in the branch here in Warwick".
One post from 2007 also talks about dressing up as Soviet soldiers to fight the US. "We all attack each other with water guns, rocks, sticks," it says.
ALP state secretary Anthony Chisholm said in a statement that he had accepted Mr Watson's resignation. "Allegations have been made against Mr Watson, which he flatly denies," he said. "We were unaware of these allegations when he was endorsed late last year.
"Nonetheless, I have accepted his resignation so this issue does not distract from the important issues confronting Queenslanders during this election campaign. "We look forward to announcing a new Labor candidate for this seat as soon as we can, to provide a local voice for Labor voters on the Southern Downs."
Battle for Laura: doctors take on NSW Health over girl's crippling disease
Shades of Britain's NHS!
A six-year-old Newcastle girl is at the centre of a major medical storm over whether a debilitating tick-borne disease exists in Australia. Laura France was diagnosed with Lyme disease late last year following tests done on her blood in the US.
Her family and several doctors are convinced she has the illness, caused by a tick bite, but NSW Health disagrees. The department says the disease does not exist in Australia and will not fund any treatment for it. The family is paying $3000 a month for medication typically used to treat Lyme disease.
Laura has trouble walking, struggles to catch her breath, suffers from severe headaches and is lucky to make it through a full day of school. Michelle France said that at night her daughter had trouble sleeping, cried and complained of constant aches and pains.
"On a daily basis it's hard, we have had to buy a stroller to get her around, she is exhausted after walking short distances," Mrs France said. "It's bad enough that Laura is sick, but the battle to find help has been a nightmare."
Since the December diagnosis the Frances have found themselves thrust into an academic battle over Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with up to 20,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Left untreated it can become crippling.
The first reported case of Lyme disease in Australia, based on clinical symptoms, was from the Hunter in 1982.
According to the NSW Ministry of Health, Australian animals do not carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, the microscopic Borrelia burgdorferi. It says occasional positive tests for the disease in NSW are from people who have picked up the infection overseas. Laura has never left Australia.
A Health Ministry spokesman told the Newcastle Herald the US laboratory where Laura's blood was tested was not validated for use in Australia. Her NSW test for Lyme disease came back negative.
Experts agree the bacteria that causes Lyme disease often fail to show up in blood tests, can hide in other parts of the body and false negatives or false positives are common. GP Peter Mayne, who is treating Laura, said NSW Health had its "head in the sand".
Dr Mayne published a paper in the International Journal of General Medicine last year detailing at least 28 positive tests for Lyme disease from Australian-based patients, the majority of whom had never travelled abroad.
"The proof is irrefutable ... there are a very considerable amount of unrecognised and undiagnosed cases in Australia," he said. "The problem is far greater than anyone has acknowledged."
Laura's test results have been reviewed by controversial US-based paediatrician Dr Ray Jones, who has treated more than 10,000 children for Lyme and chronic Lyme disease. Dr Jones confirmed Laura's diagnosis and urged her parents to travel to the US if appropriate treatment could not be found in Australia.
Australia has affordable homes for the young
Eat your hearts out, Poms
YOUNG people have switched from big spenders to big savers as improved housing affordability brings the great Australian dream within grasp once again.
Exclusive research for The Daily Telegraph shows Generation Y are saving 2 1/2 times as much as they spend. In mid-2009 they said they were spending nearly as much of their spare income as they were saving.
Charlie Nelson, managing director of consumer research firm Foreseechange, said: "The big difference is there's been a realisation that they have to actually save money to afford a house and with current interest rates and house prices they think that's within reach."
Since 2003, Foreseechange polled 1200 different consumers three to four times a year, asking what they would do with $1000. In April 2009, those 18 to 29 said they would save $301, spend $293 and pay $406 in debts. In November 2011, they said they would save $528, spend $211 and use $261 for debts.
Sydney's home affordability improved in the March 2011 quarter and again in June and September, said Housing Industry Association senior economist Andrew Harvey.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the current average first-home loan in New South Wales is $297,000, less than it was at the end of 2009. Sale prices support that finding. RP Data said the median Sydney house price in December 2011 of $535,000 was $40,000 lower than at the end of 2009.
ABS data shows the number of purchases by first-home buyers in NSW is at its highest since 2009 and 76 per cent higher than a year ago. In December, 4208 properties were financed by first-home buyers - up from 2431 a year ago.
Rowan Holloway was one of those December 2011 buyers. At 21, Mr Holloway put a note and a picture on a pinboard at home. It was his goal to own an apartment with a Harbour view by the time he was 25. It took longer.
But in January, just before his 31st birthday, Mr Holloway achieved his dream. The IT professional and his girlfriend Jessica Vestin, 25, returned to his family home in Greystanes until they could afford to buy. They "knuckled down" three years ago, forgoing what they called "wasteful spending".