Wednesday, December 05, 2012

"Racist" taxi driver refused singer

I was a taxi driver for a couple of years and never refused a fare, even though I operated out of Kings Cross in Sydney. 

I don't know if I would be the same if I were a Melbourne taxi driver these days however.  There are a lot of Indian taxi drivers these days and brutal attacks on Indians by African "refugees" have become  notorious in Melbourne.  Africans in Melbourne seem to have a particular loathing for Indians.  The guy below looks very black so the driver probably had not unreasonable fears for his own safety. 

The solution to the problem below is severe penalties for crimes of violence without either mitigation or a coverup on the grounds  of race.  It won't happen in my lifetime

A taxi driver locked his doors and refused a fare for indigenous musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu after a concert on Tuesday night, his manager claims.

Gurrumul's manager Mark Grose described the incident outside St Kilda's Palais Theatre to 774 ABC Melbourne on Wednesday morning.   "Gurrumul is on a tour with Missy Higgins and he did a concert at the Palais last night," Grose said.

He said that after the show he went outside and hailed a taxi for Gurrumul, who has been blind since birth.  "I got the taxi to pull up at the side of the stage and went inside to grab ... Gurrumul.

"[We] waited for ... Gurrumul to come outside with his girlfriend Bronwyn. He [the taxi driver] looked at Gurrumul, said 'No', locked the cab and drove off.  "He refused the fare."

When asked why he thought the driver had refused to take the fare, Honan said: "He just looked at the colour of his skin and said 'That's it'."

Grose said he wasn't sure which taxi company the driver worked for.

He said it wasn't the first time Gurrumul had encountered racism.   "Like most Aboriginal people we work with, he has experienced [racism] before.  "You are just absolutely heartbroken for them.   "It's happened a couple of times in Sydney and it's happened in Darwin.

Victorian taxi inquiry chair Professor Allan Fels said he was not surprised at the Victorian Taxi Directorate's claim that nothing could be done to locate this driver.  "The bigger message from this is that the system works very poorly," he told Radio 3AW.


Another aggrieved Greek loses in the High Court

This reminds me of the Tsoukaris case in Sydney.  Such zeal to defend an allegation of crookedness does make one wonder, particularly as the recent crisis in Greece has revealed crookedness across the board in that country.  I have never met either Mr Tsoukaris or Mr Papaconstuntinos so can say nothing about them but I have seen a lot of Greeks in Australia and they do mostly seem to me to have similar moral standards to what we read about in Greece itself.  I have of course also met most honourable Greeks in Australia (the admirable and inimitable Taki Kokkinidis comes to mind) and it is possible that Mr Tsoukaris and Mr Papaconstuntinos fall into that category

A FORMER board member of the South Sydney Leagues Club has lost a High Court appeal over a failed defamation case he brought against businessman Peter Holmes a Court.

Tony Papaconstuntinos had asked the court to overturn a decision by the NSW Court of Appeal which ruled Mr Holmes a Court was entitled to the common law defence of qualified privilege.

Initially, Mr Papaconstuntinos had been successful in the NSW Supreme Court when he claimed Mr Holmes a Court had defamed him in a letter to his employer, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).  The court awarded him $25,000.

The defamation arose during a takeover bid of the famous Souths rugby league club by Mr Holmes a Court and actor Russell Crowe in 2005.  Mr Papaconstuntinos, then a director of the club, opposed the bid.

Two days before club members were due to vote on the bid in March 2006, Mr Holmes a Court faxed a letter to the state secretary of the CFMEU.

Mr Papaconstuntinos claimed the letter conveyed defamatory imputations including that he corruptly channelled club funds to the union and himself.

In his appeal to the High Court, Mr Papaconstuntinos argued Mr Holmes a Court could only use the defence of qualified privilege if he could show that there had been a "pressing need" for him to make the statements.

The High Court, by majority, rejected that contention, saying the defence of qualified privilege required the maker of a defamatory statement to demonstrate reciprocity of duty and interest.

There was no extra requirement of "pressing need" that arose in circumstances where a defamatory statement was made voluntarily and to protect personal interests.


UPDATE:  Greece has just been rated as the most corrupt country in Western Europe

Another Telstra horror

I have had difficulties with both Telstra and Optus, though Optus has undoubtedly been the worse.  I became an Optus customer in the year 2000 and have only very recently given up totally on them,  which could make me qualified as a hero of patience, I think.

What the guy below obviously didn't know is that talking to phone hotlines for either Optus or Telstra puts you in contact with some juvenile who knows nothing and cares less  -- that's if you can get to talk to a person at all. 

For real difficulties you have to write to the CEO of the company.  He doesn't care either but he does employ people to act as if they do.  I have had some success with that approach.

But that process is slow and the guy below obviously was moved by the amount involved to regard the matter as urgent.  I feel sorry for him.  It is obnoxious that he had to go to the media to get help but is very much what I would have expected.  Basically they just ignore you in the hope that you will go away.

The episode below also shows why I never now give anyone permission to debit my credit card. I always use prepaid services.  I am guessing that the guy below will be doing that henceforth as well

A man who lost his mobile phone, and told Telstra to cancel his account, still had $28,000 deducted from his credit card for calls he didn't make, after the telco delayed blocking his phone.

After months of trying to get a refund, Rayden Crawley finally got his money back from Telstra on Wednesday. But only after he recounted his experience to radio station 3AW earlier that day.

Mr Crawley was in Barcelona, Spain, in late September when he lost his mobile phone. He reported the loss to Spanish police and phoned and emailed Telstra later that day to request the lost phone be blocked.

But when he returned to Melbourne on October 15, bad news was waiting.

"I rang Telstra because I hadn't received the bill, and I nearly fell over when they told me it was a $28,000 bill," he said. The money was automatically debited from his American Express card, $27,385.16 of which was for calls made after he lost his phone.

"It wasn't chopped off for some reason until 36 hours later, despite it being confirmed by the Telstra centre in Melbourne East that they would have it barred," Mr Crawley told 3AW.

For the past two months, Mr Crawley engaged in "telephone tag" with Telstra trying to get a refund.

The Telstra complaints officer he was dealing with said "she was still looking into it" on the occasions he called. After a while, his calls just went to voicemail.

"I tried 20 times to get back to her to find out what was going on and there was no reply, just a recorded message," he said. "There was no correspondence back from Telstra whatsoever."

After going on talkback radio on Wednesday morning, however, the refund came through.

Telstra spokesman Jonathan Rose told Fairfax Media that all of the bill would be refunded.

"We have contacted Mr Crawley to apologise and advise that we will waive all charges on the account," Mr Rose said.

"We are most concerned about his experience and will review the case, including to determine why the payment was debited while the matter was still under investigation and a credit was in the process of being approved."


Queensland households with solar panels likely to be hit with tariff to pay for 'poles and wires'

THOUSANDS of households with rooftop solar systems are set to be stung with significant fixed-tariff fees.

A report ordered by the Newman Government has recommended a special tariff for all solar households to force them to pay their share for the "poles and wires" network.

The tariff fees would be a bitter blow for households that shelled out thousands of dollar to fit solar systems to reduce their electricity bill.  However, households without solar are being forced to wear the cost of subsidising those with such systems, as well as pay for the over-priced power they produce.

Solar households still need the electricity network to be capable of meeting their demands when their panels don't produce power.

However, they mostly avoid contributing to network costs, which account for about 50 per cent of electricity prices, because they regularly don't access the common household tariff.

Recent modelling showed the 44-cent solar feed-in tariff, currently paid by distributors for the power produced by more than 200,000 households, would add an extra $240 to average power bills.

Power bills would also rise by a further $40 to recover network costs avoided by solar households.

In a draft report, the Queensland Competition Authority recommended fixed fees be applied to solar households.

"Network tariff reform is a further option to be considered as a means of more equitably sharing the costs of the scheme," the QCA said.  "Specifically, there may be scope for distribution businesses to establish new, cost-reflective network tariffs for PV customers which ensure that these customers are charged their full fixed-network costs, which are largely avoided under the present network tariff arrangements."

The QCA also recommended retailers, rather than state-owned distributors, pay for the power produced by solar households.

The report said the current system was so profitable for retailers that they were offering solar households up to 10 cents extra per kilowatt hour for the power they produce.

While the Government has committed to keep the 44-cent tariff for existing solar owners, the QCA said 6.8 cents per kWh was more realistic but prices should be unregulated in the southeast.

Queensland Greens Senate candidate Adam Stone said the QCA's reforms would take away the incentive for households to invest in solar.

"The recommended tariffs are solely based on the financial value of household solar to electricity retailers and do not even factor in the cooling effect household solar has on wholesale electricity prices," he said.


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