Friday, February 17, 2012

No wonder the illegals are flooding in to Australia

WASHING machines, microwave ovens, DVDs and plasma TVs are among a 60-item welcome gift pack for asylum seekers offered rent-free homes in the community. To fulfil a promise to move an influx of families out of detention, the Gillard Government is now fitting out each home with up to $10,000 worth of furnishings and electronics. They are given food hampers upon arrival at rented homes where they wait for their claims to be processed.

The revelation comes as border protection authorities reveal they have intercepted two more boats carrying asylum seekers overnight, five boats in the past week, and middle - and high-income families struggling with cost of living pressures brace for cuts to private health rebates and the impact of the carbon tax.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said this morning HMAS Leeuwin intercepted a boat carrying 65 people north north-east of Christmas Island late last night.

HMAS Ararat intercepted a vessel carrying 71 people west of Christmas Island early this morning, bringing to five the number of boats intercepted since last Saturday.

Everything from beds, fridges, mattresses and lounges to an alarm clock radio, clothes hangers and containers for biscuits are being bought in a "household goods formation package" that contains more than 60 items. It includes a television at a minimum size of 53cm.

An average family of five is eligible for $7100 worth of goods, while larger families of more than nine people can be provided with up to $9850 in furnishings, the Opposition has revealed after Senate estimates this week.

Special consideration is given to providing computers, internet access, mobile phones, bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, iPods, games consoles and sewing machines.

There are 97 homes being rented in Sydney suburbs - and funded by taxpayers - at an average cost of $416 a week with families arriving to a hamper of bread, butter, milk, eggs, other "essentials" and cleaning products. Asylum seekers are living in Ashfield, Auburn and Bankstown, Blacktown, Cabramatta, Dural and North Curl Curl.

Families with a baby can access a $750 pack of basic supplies. Phone and electricity connections are also paid for.

The assistance is on top of free doctors' visits, dental care, pharmaceuticals, education and payments of up to $433.25 a fortnight to sustain asylum seekers unable to work. Almost 1600 asylum seekers are housed in community detention across the country.

Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the revelations would disappoint families struggling with cost of living rises.

"The cost of Labor's border protection failures is a slap in the face to every Australian family trying to cope with rising costs of living, made worse by Labor's carbon tax and their abandonment of private health insurance," Mr Morrison said.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the government was being responsible in providing asylum seekers with basic provisions while their claims were being assessed. "We have a duty of care to provide essential items such as cleaning supplies, furniture and bedding, and baby items such as prams, for vulnerable asylum seekers in community detention," a spokesman said.

"People do not keep the goods, they remain in a house when a family moves out and are used by the next people who move in. These people are not allowed to work."

Asylum seekers late last year were asking for housing, visas and internet access when they arrived.

For more than five years the Red Cross has been contracted to provide the packages, but the numbers of people in community housing has exploded since Mr Bowen pledged in October 2010 to move most children out of detention. "They are basic supplies, we are not talking about luxury," Red Cross spokesman Michael Raper said.


Bus drivers still sailing past waiting kids -- leaving them in danger

The frequency of this suggests that the driver should be automatically dismissed every time it happens

BRUCE Morcombe fears lessons have not been learnt from his son Daniel's tragedy as complaints continue to flow about children being left behind by buses on the Sunshine Coast.

Information obtained by The Maroochy Journal shows that since January 1, 2010, transport authority TransLink investigated and resolved 49 complaints against Sunbus - almost one a fortnight.

Sunbus is the regional provider that did not pick up Daniel, who was abducted from a known hailing place for buses at Palmwoods in 2003. "Forty-nine complaints over children being left behind is alarming and disappointing," Mr Morcombe said. "Have we learnt anything?

"We are not surprised by those statistics because we have had several grandparents or parents approach us and say their son or daughter was left behind at a bus stop."

Sunbus was unable to confirm the number of complaints where it was found to be at fault but said it had a strict No Child Left Behind policy.

"All complaints made to TransLink and Sunbus are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly to determine what actually occurred in each instance," the company said in a statement. Sunbus said any driver who deliberately left a child behind under any circumstances could be dismissed. [But is he?]

The founder and executive director of child protection advocacy group Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston, said the figures were concerning. "I agree with Bruce 100 per cent that this is alarming and I don't know what has to happen before they get the dangers," she said.

Mr Morcombe urged local politicians to intervene and demand answers from the Transport Minister in Parliament. "Denise and I were out speaking at schools just last week, but if children are being left behind, it just compounds the issue of their availability to predators," Mr Morcombe said. "Local politicians need to know and the sort of question they need to be asking is: 'What is an acceptable number and what is not?' "


Rogue building unionists off the chain

The Australian Building and Construction Commission, loathed by unions, is a step closer to being abolished, after the government and union-friendly crossbenchers voted in the lower house to end the industry watchdog this morning.

But controversial coercive powers will remain under the new regulator that will operate within Fair Work Australia.

The ABCC, established by the Howard government in 2005 following the Cole royal commission, involved coercive powers to make people talk during investigations, or face jail.
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Workplace Minister Bill Shorten said there was a ‘‘sunset’’ clause to phase the coercive powers out in three years, subject to a review.

The Rudd government first moved to end the ABCC but the Parliament lapsed before a vote was held. The bill will now go to the Senate.

The opposition and business groups are opposed to the scrapping of the commission, saying it will return a culture of thuggery and illegal behaviour. They say the ABCC was effective in improving productivity and ending lawlessness.

Greens MP Adam Bandt and independents Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie supported the government, but Mr Bandt and Mr Katter moved amendments to remove the coercive powers.

Mr Bandt also tried to limit the powers to more serious offences carrying a penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment.
He attacked Labor for not supporting the push to end coercive powers, accusing the government of wanting to keep the laws.

The Melbourne MP said it was outrageous that there were laws that gave less rights to people in the building industry than other workers in Australia.

Mr Katter said he felt ‘‘very uncomfortable’’ that there were discriminatory laws for different groups of society, and the right to remain silent was a basic right.

‘‘We do not live in a jungle,’’ he told Parliament. ‘‘We are a civilised people. The right to remain silent exists in every jurisdiction in the he world, except here.’’ He likened the powers to the Spanish Inquisition.

Amendments to remove the coercive powers were voted down by the government and the opposition.

However, the Greens were able to negotiate changes to the government legislation that removed double jeopardy provisions, which enabled workers to be prosecuted for the same breaches twice.

‘‘The only reason these coercive powers remain is because the government wanted to retain them,’’ Mr Bandt said. “This bill means if you go to work in a hard hat and boots you have fewer rights than people who wear a suit and a tie.”


Who needs a car industry anyway?

Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich

On Monday, The Australian reported that struggling car manufacturer GM Holden had agreed to give its employees a substantial pay rise of up to 22% over the next three years. This was surprising coming from a company that depends on ongoing taxpayer support for its survival. However, after decades of car industry subsidies, the public has almost become used to such scandalous behaviour.

It is easy to criticise Holden’s pay deal for the obvious prevalence of lobbying over rational economic policy. It shows the power of unions to extract subsidies from their mates in government. And we could also wonder why ordinary Australian taxpayers should have to pay for the production of cars they are shunning as consumers.

However, the fundamental question is much simpler: Should Australia have a car industry at all?

Supporters of an industry – any industry – always come up with the same arguments: it is a major employer; it generates technological spill-over effects; and it is ‘strategic’ (though the term is seldom defined).

The closer you are to an industry, the more such arguments seem to make sense. After all, nobody likes to see a big employer disappear from one’s city or state. And of course there will always be a few successful or innovative parts of the sector. But do they justify keeping the whole industry alive at enormous costs?

A dispassionate look from the outside may aid a more balanced view. The same arguments being made for keeping Australia’s car manufacturers alive have been made for Germany’s coal industry for decades.

Since the late 1950s, German black coal could no longer compete with imported coal – much of which came from Australia and cost between a third and half the price compared to domestic deep-mined coal. For employment, technological and strategic reasons, German governments continued to subsidise mining for decades at a total cost of about $430 billion with no success in making the industry competitive with countries like Australia; subsidies are scheduled to be phased out by 2018.

From an Australian perspective, it is obvious that Germany’s coal subsidies were a complete waste of money. All these years, Germany could have imported cheaper energy from Australia while saving enormous amounts of money – money it could have spent regenerating former coal towns.

It’s the other way around for Australia: Instead of pumping in billions of dollars into the car industry, Australia could have imported vehicles from countries that are simply better placed to produce them on a large scale. Countries like Germany, for example. The money saved could help find a new raison d’ĂȘtre for places like Elizabeth, South Australia.

Holden’s outrageous pay deal is just the tip of an iceberg of wasted subsidies. Australia needs a car industry as much as Germany needs its own black coal mines.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 17 February. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Note: I have another blog covering Australian news. It is more specialized so is not updated daily. See Australian police news for news on police misbehaviour. The stories are coming thick and fast at the moment.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Its interesting to note that it was assistance from the Chifley Labor government that set GM on the path to full local manufacture of cars under the Holden name (I wish Frank Forde had done it just for the fun of the name). Appears Labor doesn't want to preside over the dismantling of an industry they sort of birthed. My issue with it comes from why they did it in the first place and that was, among other reasons, to preserve skills learned through wartime manufacturing, in order that were such skills needed again in a hurry....Gillard of course is no Ben Chifley...on several levels.