Monday, August 27, 2012

Low dole stops people getting ahead?

This stuff below is rubbish.  I lived on the student dole for a number of years in my youth  -- which was about the same money as the unemployed got (a bit less, I think) -- and I lived comfortably and even saved on it  -- living in a boarding house.  I got not a cent from my parents.  

But I didn't spend any of my money on beer and cigarettes either.  And being now the former proprietor of a boarding house myself, I know what "the poor" spend it on.  I even used to go to the pub to get the rent off my tenants on "payday".  And the parade of casks of Fruity Lexia entering the house later on that day had to be seen to be believed

Church bureaucrats and their ilk talk a good talk on the matter but I know the reality  -- JR

SOME people on the dole are living in such poverty that their chances of getting a job are limited, a report by the major church welfare organisations has found.

The report says single people living alone and single parents on Newstart or Youth Allowance face much greater financial hardship than other government benefit households.

UnitingCare Australia national director Lin Hatfield Dodds says people are looking for work in an environment that is inaccessible and even hostile.

"Work is increasingly part-time and causal and employers are looking for skills and experience these people don't have. Child care and transport are expensive or unavailable," she said in a statement.

Catholic Social Services Australia executive director Paul O'Callaghan said there was an urgent need for an increase in the basic allowance.

"Far from providing an incentive to find work, the current inadequate level of the payment prevents many people from seeking work and is adding to long-term and intergenerational disadvantage," he said in the statement.


Whitlam should have had warning, says Kerr adviser

Mason ignores Whitlam's smart-arse threat to "get to the phone first" and dismiss Kerr.  It was Whitlam who made it impossible for Sir John to warn him  -- JR

THE former chief justice, Anthony Mason, has broken his 37-year silence on his role in Australia's greatest political crisis to reveal that he advised John Kerr he should warn Gough Whitlam of his intention to sack his government in 1975.

Sir Anthony's comprehensive statement on his private conversations with the then governor-general, obtained exclusively by the Herald, asserts that Kerr was consistently counselled by his close friend against deceiving Mr Whitlam, but that this advice was ignored.

The statement reveals that at Kerr's request, Sir Anthony drafted a letter sacking Mr Whitlam but the governor-general chose not to use it. It also reveals he expressed relief when Kerr confided his intention to sack Mr Whitlam two days before the dismissal on November 11.

But Sir Anthony insists his expression of relief "was not, and should not have been understood as, encouragement to dismiss the prime minister as Sir John had already announced his decision to take that step".

Rather, he says, he was relieved because "I thought that the crisis should be resolved by a general election to be held before the summer vacation and any further delay could lead to instability".

Sir Anthony's statement represents the final piece in the dismissal jigsaw and, rather than vindicate Kerr's actions, the statement makes plain that the governor-general deceived Mr Whitlam against the explicit advice of his closest confidant.

Sir Anthony's decision to detail his role in a 3500-word statement - after steadfastly refusing for decades to comment - follows the discovery by the author Jenny Hocking of new documents written by Kerr. Hocking's biography, Gough Whitlam: His Time, will be released this week.

In the papers - lodged with the National Archives 15 years after Kerr's death in 1991 - Kerr asserts that Sir Anthony was the key influence who "fortified" him during the crisis that followed the Coalition's refusal to pass supply bills in the Senate.

"In the light of the enormous and vicious criticism of myself, I should have dearly liked to have had the public evidence during my lifetime of what Mason had said and done during October-November 1975 … [but] he would be happier … if history never came to know of his role," Kerr wrote.

"I shall keep the whole matter alive in my mind till the end, and if this document is found among my archives, it will mean that my final decision is that truth must prevail, and, as he played a most significant part in my thinking at that critical time, and as he will be in the shades of history when this is read, his role should be known."

Signalling that Kerr wanted his version to be history's final word, the document Hocking uncovered was not "to be read by anyone until all those concerned are dead".

But Sir Anthony's account repudiates Kerr's version on several key points, insisting Sir Anthony:

* Told Kerr he should warn the prime minister that he would terminate his commission if he did not agree to hold a general election. "The warning was not heeded";

* At no stage encouraged Kerr to dismiss Mr Whitlam;

* Did not, as Kerr claimed, volunteer or agree to give a written opinion on shadow attorney-general Bob Ellicott's statement that he had the power to sack the prime minister;

* Played no part in preparing Kerr's statement announcing his decision but at Kerr's request, prepared a draft letter terminating Whitlam's commission.

Interviewed by the Herald, Sir Anthony said the first inkling he had that Kerr had not warned Mr Whitlam he would be sacked if he refused to call a general election was when he read news reports on November 11.

A former solicitor-general, Sir Anthony was appointed to the High Court by the McMahon government in 1972. He had had no connections with either side of politics, which was one of the reasons Kerr cited for seeking his counsel.  "I wasn't advising him as a legal adviser. I was there in the capacity of a friend," Sir Anthony said.

Despite Kerr's refusal to warn Mr Whitlam, Sir Anthony maintains Kerr was subjected to "unjustified vilification" after the dismissal.  "I consider and have always considered that Sir John acted consistently with his duty, except in so far as he had a duty to warn the prime minister of his intended action and he did not do so."


Julia Gillard set up 'work safety' entity that was a slush fund

JULIA Gillard wrote in a formal application to establish an entity for her then client and boyfriend, union boss Bruce Wilson, that it was being formed for the purpose of achieving safe workplaces.

But during an internal investigation three years later by the partners of her law firm, following serious allegations that the entity had been used by Mr Wilson to misappropriate hundreds of thousands of dollars, Ms Gillard admitted it was a "slush fund" to raise cash for the re-election of union officials.

The discrepancy in the genuine purpose of the entity, the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association, at the time that it was established was not known to the West Australian government agency that had registered it in 1992.

Ms Gillard was questioned about it in a recorded and transcribed interview by the firm of Slater & Gordon, where she was a salaried partner, on September 11, 1995. She left her job soon after amid the partnership's "very serious view" of her conduct.

In the interview, a transcript of which has been obtained by The Australian, Ms Gillard said the incorporated association was set up as a slush fund to hold re-election monies, instead of the alternative of having bank accounts in the names of individuals.

"It's common practice, indeed every union has what it refers to as a re-election fund, slush fund, whatever, into which the leadership team puts money so that they can finance their next election campaign," Ms Gillard said in the interview.

The listed objects of the association, which are set out in the formal rules that were written by Ms Gillard, do not state that the purpose is to fund elections for union officials. The rules instead emphasise purposes including the promotion of safer workplaces and skills training.

In the formal application for the association, Ms Gillard wrote that it was formed for the purpose of "development of changes to work to achieve safe workplaces".

It can also be revealed that the West Australian government agency responsible for registering such entities questioned whether the union-linked association should be set up under different, more burdensome, legislation that applied to unions.

However, Ms Gillard provided assurances that it was legitimate. The Australian asked the Prime Minister yesterday if she was involved in the creation of a false document: namely, the application for the incorporation of the association.

A spokesman replied: "As the Prime Minister has repeatedly made clear, she was not involved in any wrongdoing.

"Any questions about this document should be addressed to the person who lodged and signed it, namely Ralph Blewitt."

Mr Blewitt, a former union bagman and sidekick for Mr Wilson, was also Ms Gillard's client from the AWU at the time.

He told The Australian this month that he had been involved in "sham transactions" and that he would talk to authorities in return for not being criminally prosecuted.

Ms Gillard previously declined to answer questions from The Australian, including whether the application form for the association gave a false or misleading impression. The Prime Minister has hit out at what she described as a "malicious" campaign. She said the matters being raised had nothing to do with her job now.

She has denied receiving any benefits from the funds. She has repeatedly rejected claims that renovations to her own house in Melbourne in the early-to-mid 1990s were part-funded by money allegedly siphoned off by Mr Wilson. However, in the internal interview she said she could not rule it out.

Other documents show that in April 1992, Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt sent the first invoice, headed AWU Workplace Reform Association, to a construction company, Thiess Contractors, to raise $25,272. This invoice falsely claimed that Thiess was required to pay for the "provision of an AWU Workplace Reform Association representative" to a construction project for some 700 hours. No such representative was ever on site. Many invoices followed.

The association's rules also state that "the property and income of the association must be applied solely in accordance with the objects of the association and no part of that property or income may be paid or otherwise distributed, directly or indirectly, to members, except in good faith in the promotion of those objects".

The association that Ms Gillard established was used by Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt to allegedly corruptly receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from large companies. At the time, the AWU's then national leaders, Ian Cambridge and Bill Ludwig, were not made aware of the association's existence.

They were unaware that large sums of money had been going into accounts linked to the association, and that some of those funds were withdrawn by Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt for purposes including the purchase of a $230,000 house in Kerr Street, Fitzroy.

Ms Gillard attended the auction with Mr Wilson, who had power of attorney, while her firm handled the conveyancing for the house, which was put in the name of Mr Blewitt. At the time the AWU was the client of Ms Gillard's employer, Slater & Gordon, and she was doing much of the AWU's legal work. Mr Cambridge, who called in police, the National Crime Authority and sought a royal commission to try to get to the bottom of the rorts by his then union colleagues, swore a September 1996 affidavit in the Industrial Relations Court about the scandal.

In his affidavit Mr Cambridge said his investigations revealed how bank accounts linked to the association "have been used to hold and/or launder union funds as a step in the conversion of those funds to unauthorised, invalid, irregular and possibly illegal uses".

Nick Styant-Browne, the former equity partner of Slater & Gordon who broke a 17-year silence to reveal that Ms Gillard had lost her job there as a result of the internal probe, rebuked the firm yesterday for its expressions of support for Ms Gillard.

Mr Styant-Browne said the description by the firm's managing director, Andrew Grech, of Ms Gillard's departure was "stunningly incomplete". He said he "did not contemplate the extent to which (Slater & Gordon) would seek to protect the Prime Minister".


No room for Sharia in Australia, says senior judge

A FORMER High Court chief justice has used an address in Sydney to argue against incorporating parts of Islamic law into the Australian judicial system.

Sir Gerard Brennan, who served on the High Court from 1981 to 1998, and as chief justice from 1995 to 1998, told an audience at The University of New South Wales that there was no room for Sharia law in the Australian legal system.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard last year ruled out the prospect of Sharia law becoming part of the nation's justice system, saying the only law in the country was Australian law.

In the annual Hal Wootten lecture on Thursday night, Sir Gerard said there had been suggestions there was room for a "system in which at least some parts of Islamic Sharia law might operate as part of Australian law". 

He said: "That suggestion seems to me to be misconceived."  Muslims were free to adhere to the "beliefs, customs and practices prescribed by Sharia law", the former chief justice said, but only as long as they did not conflict with Australian law.

"That freedom must be respected and protected but that does not mean that Islamic Sharia should have the force of law."

All Australian citizens, irrespective of their religion, had common values that formed the basis of Australian law, he said.   "Our citizens, including the Islamic community, share the basic Australian values of tolerance, egalitarianism, and individual freedom in thought and action," he said. [Muslims included?  Wishful thinking]


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