Sunday, February 17, 2013
Black Australian politician sparks race row after saying prison is good for Aborigines as 'it means they get to spend time with their families'
Rather sadly, the lady is right. Young Aborigines are very prone to extreme alcohol abuse. And they are often locked up for committing crimes whilst intoxicated
An Australian politician has sparked a race row after saying prison is good for Aboriginies as 'it means they get to spend time with their families.'
Bess Price, an MP for the sitting Country Liberal Party made the comments after the Legislative Assembly agreed to changes in mandatory sentencing for violent offenders.
Price, an Aboriginal Australian activist, was responding to the Labor Party's opposition to the law changes, which they said would see prison numbers increase significantly.
The member for Stuart argued that jail had benefits for young Aborigines.
'While they are being imprisoned, they don't get to drink, they don't get into trouble, they are fed three times a day,' she said.
'They are in there with their family members. 'They sleep in their language groups and they all come out of prison much healthier.'
Labor's Member for Nhulunbuy, Lynne Walker, said Price's comments were a 'sad indictment it is, of where our system is,' reported TNT magazine.
'When the Member for Stuart says that our families want our young people locked up, because prisons; they're safe places, it's where people can dry out for three months, it's a safe environment and where, sadly, a lot of family members are in there, so they're not alone.'
She told Parliament she was saddened by Ms Price's statement and said it painted a disturbing scenario.
The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) says the comments by Ms Price reflect a sad state of affairs according to ABC.
Several people took to Twitter to voice their annoyance at her comments.
@NATSILS who describe themselves as 'the peak body for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Services' wrote on their Twitter page 'Bess Price how wrong you are. Symptoms of the real issue. Poverty.'
One user wrote 'What a tragic, simplistic and scary view' while another accused her of creating 'an apartheid.'
Well intentioned but fiscally ludicrous
Well, the fiscal chickens have come home to roost. The government’s Wage Connect policy has proven so successful in finding businesses with their hands out that the ALP has been forced to place the program on hold until 1 July.
Wage Connect is a program designed to assist job seekers, who have little to no recent work experience, get back into a job. The program is restricted to those who have been unemployed for over two years.
Employers who offer full-time positions to inexperienced staff, providing them with on-the-job training, can receive subsidies to the tune of $5,900 per employee for six months to assist with training costs. This averages out to roughly $230 per week, equivalent to that of the Newstart Allowance.
The government had originally committed $85 million out of the 2011-12 budget to fund the program over the next four years. But since the budget, long-term unemployment has grown by 23,000 people to a total 253,000. Predictably, Wage Connect has proven popular with businesses eager to get their hands on some easy money.
The program has laudable objectives. The long-term unemployed often lack the skills and experience necessary to find even entry-level jobs, so any program that increases their chances of gaining employment ought to be considered. However it was entirely foreseeable that this program would burn a hole through its budget.
Many businesses in low-skilled industries regularly employ inexperienced staff. Offering these businesses subsidies simply pays them to hire employees they might already have hired.
Of course, many of these subsidies would have gone to the intended recipients; businesses weary of hiring inexperienced staff would have seen the subsidy as a just reward for taking a risk on inexperienced staff.
But there is a better way to get the long-term unemployed back into jobs, with no impact whatsoever on the government’s budget.
To give businesses a greater incentive to take on the long-term unemployed, the government could provide a six-month exemption from the minimum award wage.
This would give businesses six months to provide training, without the cost pressures imposed by minimum award wages. After six months – the same duration as the Wage Connect subsidy – the employee’s wage would go back up to its regular level.
This way, the long-term unemployed would have higher job prospects, employers would have an incentive to hire them, and the government would reduce the number of long-term unemployed job seekers drawing income support.
Scrapping Wage Connect subsidies in favour of a minimum wage exemption should be a no-brainer for any government wanting to stem the growth in long-term unemployment, particularly one struggling to produce a budget surplus.
Crash victims rescued from Lawyers
CAR accident victims will no longer be left waiting for years before being paid for injuries and payouts will be made without expensive legal fees under sweeping reforms of NSW's greenslip scheme.
The reforms, which the state Government believes will see premiums fall up at least 15 per cent, will set defined benefits for injuries and remove the need for victims to prove which driver was at fault.
Under the proposed reforms, a victim will bring the claim to their own insurer as with comprehensive motor insurance, rather than making the claim through the at-fault driver's insurance company.
The O'Farrell Government aims to ban ambulance-chasing lawyers from profiting from broken compulsory third-party insurance scheme.
The move will come as a welcome relief to the state's five million car owners, who now pay an average of $518 a year for a greenslip, up 70 per cent since 2008.
Premier Barry O'Farrell said the compulsory third party scheme had turned into "a lawyer's picnic", with less than half of the money from motorist's greenslip finding its way to accident victims.
"These proposed changes will drive down costs by ensuring the system is foc- used on those who are injured, not ambulance chasing lawyers," he said.
Compulsory greenslips supplied by private insurers NRMA, Allianz, CIC-Allianz, GIO, QBE and Zurich are the most expensive part of motor vehicle registration.
A review of the third-party insurance by the Motor Accidents Authority has found that since 1999, more money has been spent on lawyers' bills than on medical treatment and care for road accident victims.
This is because a person injured in a car accident must prove who is at fault in an accident, which often leads to lengthy court battles.
The unpredictable nature of claims also means insurers demand higher premiums.
Some examples of waste:
* A pedestrian hit by a car was awarded $6000 but legal bills topped $60,000 after a seven-year dispute.
* A person hit by a car got less than $30,000 for injuries while legal, investigation and medical expenses topped $190,000.
* A motorcyclist involved in an accident due to the road conditions was denied compensation but left with a $30,000 legal bill.
Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce said the NSW system was the least affordable in Australia.
Insurers last month asked Mr Pearce to approve 10pc increases which would add an extra $50 to bills.
"The majority of compensation is paid out between three and five years after an accident and often it's the lawyers who walk away with more money," he said.
"A 'no fault' scheme would reduce costs, create a more competitive CTP insurance market, and get money to those who need it the most, rather than lawyers, insurers and investigators."
Royal Darwin Hospital "shocking", AMA says
PEOPLE will die if a severe bed shortage at Royal Darwin Hospital is not addressed, the Australian Medical Association said.
The situation was so bad this week that two beds were crammed into many emergency department cubicles, admitted patients were left in corridors and nurses were running into the waiting room to treat people.
AMA NT president Dr Peter Beaumont said the situation would get worse unless governments increased health funding.
"People's lives are at risk under these circumstances,'' he said.
"Overcrowding leads to omissions. "People will die.''
Australian Nursing Federation NT branch secretary Yvonne Falckh said the condition of the emergency department was shocking.
"I'm absolutely appalled that two patients were put in to each cubicle,'' she said. "There is a lack of confidentiality and privacy.
"What if one of them needed to use a bed pan or a bottle or even speak to the doctor?'