Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Abbott gets cheers from fruit shoppers

OPPOSITION leader Tony Abbott has had a rousing reception from customers in a western Sydney fruit shop as a new poll points to a landslide win for the coalition at the next election.

More than a dozen shoppers and workers applauded Mr Abbott as he left the Minchinbury fruit market on Tuesday, while some cheered and shouted "well-done".

Mr Abbott's visit to the electorate of Chifley came as the latest Newspoll showed Labor trailing the coalition by 16 percentage points - 42-58 - on a two-party preferred basis.

But Mr Abbott said he was not expecting to win the election with complacency and restated his plans to scrap the carbon tax and create a "bonfire of regulations".

"We don't take the people of Chifley for granted. People right around the country want a government that is focused on them ... not a government focused on its own survival.

"We understand your life, we want to make your life easier. That's why we want to scrap the carbon tax, and cut red tape," he said.

One of those who cheered Mr Abbott was Diane Hooper, a worker at the fruit market, who said she'd vote for the coalition at the next election.  "(Abbott) seems genuine, he seems like a really nice man," she said.

But not everyone welcomed the visit.  "Tony Abbott? He'll do anything for a vote," said one shopper.


Mahmoud Eid at the very heart of rioting in Sydney

PUNCHBOWL plumber Mahmoud Eid was in the thick of the mayhem of last September's Muslim riots in Hyde Park, kicking a police dog and pushing a policewoman into a garden bed during several violent confrontations.

Yesterday, the 26-year-old - who was identified by media reports of the riots - pleaded guilty to three charges stemming from the protests, which followed an anti-Islamic video being posted on YouTube.

Eid, wearing a black hooded jumper, was among protesters who clashed violently with police.

Two days after seeing his face in media reports, Eid walked into City Central Police station.

Police were able to identify him from the images due to a clearly visible 3cm scar on his forehead.

After sifting through protest footage, investigators were able to track his movements during the riot, despite Eid changing his outfit with three different shirts or jumpers.  "It was found that at every confrontation, (Eid) was present and was an active participant despite numerous opportunities to cease his involvement and leave the scene," a police statement of facts said.

Eid was first caught lashing out at police dog Chuck - who early last year helped catch fugitive killer Malcolm Naden - as his handler tried to arrest another protester.

He delivered a "full-force swinging right kick" to the ribs of the german shepherd, who was left limping and on pain-killing medication for a week.

Later in the afternoon, Eid was seen kicking a riot-squad officer's shield. He then pushed a female constable into a garden bed as two officers tried to arrest him.

During a search warrant on Eid's family home before his arrest, police found a high-visibility work shirt carrying his employer's name and a pair of blue cargo pants hanging on the washing line - both of which he was seen wearing during the riot.

Police prosecutor Matt Baker said the details of Eid's crimes were "probably the most serious" of the 12 people who faced court over the riots. Eid will return to court in May for sentencing with his most serious charge - rioting - carrying a maximum 15-year jail term.


Ratbag head-teacher out for good

Former Kew Primary principal Kim Dray, who stood down in 2011 amid controversy over a radical toileting policy, will not return to the school next term despite being exonerated after a 19-month inquiry.

Dr Dray, who was slated to resume as principal next term, changed her mind late last night after staff unanimously voted they did not support her return and parents bombarded the government with complaints.

Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching said Dr Dray felt "pretty gutted" by the whole thing, but it would be very difficult for her to return to Kew Primary next term given the hostility.

"I think the department needs to provide a lot more support to her to enable that re-entry to occur," he said.

Dr Dray came under fire from parents after she trialled a "whole class approach" to toilet breaks, in which the entire class would go to the toilets if one child needed to go.

Parents said they were not consulted over the trial and it led to children wetting themselves and girls being too embarrassed to go to school if they had their periods.

In August 2011 Dr Dray asked to be temporarily reassigned while the Education Department investigated because she was concerned about the effect of the media coverage on the school community.

But parents and teachers raised concerns when it was announced Dr Dray had chosen to return to Kew Primary in term two, after she was exonerated following a 19 month investigation conducted by Lander & Rogers Lawyers on behalf of the department.

At a full staff meeting on March 20, Kew Primary staff unanimously voted they did not support the return of Dr Dray.

"Staff made it aware that it was a very toxic environment under Kim’s leadership and staff were divided, vulnerable and damaged," according to the minutes seen by Fairfax Media.

"It is unanimously felt by staff that Kim’s style of leadership does not fit with Kew Primary School and that her return is not in the best interests of the school."

Parents had also met with Kew MP Andrew McIntosh on Friday to express their concerns and an extraordinary council meeting had been scheduled for Wednesday.

But Mr Cotching said Dr Dray had been completely exonerated by an Education Department investigation and should be allowed to resume as principal.

He blasted the department’s decision to investigate Dr Dray under division 10 – misconduct and inefficiency – of part 2.4 of the Education and Training Reform Act, saying it was a "gargantuan stuff-up" and an investigation that should have taken a month had dragged on for 19 months.

"It should never have got to this stage," Mr Cotching said. "It’s the grossest mismanagement of a complaints process I’ve seen in my experience as a principal.

The investigation is understood to have called 20 witnesses, collected three folders of information, and examined every area of Kew Primary’s operation, including school finances, security and Dr Dray’s dealings with the school council, before recommending that no action be taken.


All sweet for conservatives as Labor sours in NSW

Premier Barry O'Farrell is reaping the benefit of corruption hearings involving two former Labor ministers and ructions over the federal leadership, according to a poll that has the NSW opposition stuck on a historically low primary vote.

The Nielsen poll reveals only 23 per cent of those surveyed would give NSW Labor their primary vote - a result that will compound fears about the party's prospects at the federal election on September 14.

The NSW Coalition's primary vote sits at 52 per cent, with the Greens at 10 per cent, independents at 9 per cent and others on 5 per cent.

On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition maintains the advantage it secured over Labor at the March 26, 2011 state election, leading by 63 per cent to 37 per cent, a swing of just 1 per cent to Labor in two years.

"What this poll really says overall is Labor has made little or no progress since the last election," research director John Stirton said.

Public inquiries into former Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald at the Independent Commission Against Corruption meant "voters have been continually reminded of the government they tossed out", he said.

The statewide poll of 1000 voters was taken last weekend as the dust settled after the latest Labor leadership wrangling involving Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her predecessor Kevin Rudd.

Locally, ICAC has recently concluded public hearings into allegedly corrupt mining deals involving former NSW Labor powerbroker Mr Obeid and former mining minister Mr Macdonald. ICAC has begun a second inquiry into a lucrative coal exploration licence issued by Mr Macdonald to former union official John Maitland.

The poll reveals that Mr O'Farrell has an approval rating of 54 per cent and a disapproval rating of 35 per cent for a net approval rating of 19 per cent - the highest for a NSW premier since Morris Iemma's net approval rating of 27 per cent in 2007.

Opposition Leader John Robertson recorded a net approval rating of minus 11 per cent, with a disapproval rating of 43 per cent and approval rating of 32 per cent - the

worst result for an opposition leader since the Liberals' Peter Debnam, whose rating was minus 21 per cent in March 2007.

Mr O'Farrell retains a strong lead over Mr Robertson as preferred premier, 62 per cent to 25 per cent - the biggest lead since March 2003, when then premier Bob Carr led John Brogden by 64 per cent to 25 per cent.

The results show that the ICAC inquiries have neutralised any potential political benefit to Labor from some of the O'Farrell government's controversial decisions, including cuts to the education budget and allowing recreational hunting in national parks.

Mr Robertson has sought to counter the impact of the ICAC inquiries by calling for the expulsion of Mr Obeid and Mr Macdonald from Labor. He has also announced reforms including banning Labor MPs from holding jobs outside Parliament and requiring his shadow ministry to publicly disclose their taxable income and the interests of their spouse and family members.

Mr Stirton said voters know the difference between state and federal governments, but Labor is experiencing difficulties at both levels, including the arrest in late January of federal MP Craig Thomson, who is charged with defrauding the Health Services Union.

"Those messages are reinforcing each other and that's the worry for Labor," he said.



Paul said...

I can recall from my youth a few Charge Nurses very like Dr. Dray.

Anonymous said...

I presume this supposedly devout Muslim, Eid, was born in this country or has become an Australian Citizen. It seems to me people such as he is should lose all their Australian heritage and need to be returned to their country of Origin, i.e. parents birthplace.