Friday, April 12, 2013

Australia's car industry doomed says former Ford boss

Good riddance!  It was an initiative of the Chifley Labor government that has always needed propping up

FORMER Ford boss Jac Nasser says Australia's automotive industry is doomed.

Mr Nasser, who had a 33-year career with Ford, including three years as its chief executive in Detroit, said "it would be a very sad day for Australia" if it no longer built cars, "but unfortunately it looks like it could be inevitable".

"I was optimistic or hopeful two or three years back, but the signs look more onerous now," he said.

Mr Nasser, now the chairman of mining giant BHP Billiton, also warned the supply base of Australia's three car makers was intertwined and it would be very difficult for any to survive if one car maker closed.

"As soon as you have a reduction in the scale of domestic manufacturing ... you end up potentially with a subscale supplier infrastructure, and once that happens I think it's a domino effect," he said yesterday.

Mr Nasser said a high Australian dollar, high costs, excessive global car-building capacity and weak Japanese and European currencies were all dragging down the local industry.

He said it was disappointing that Australians were not more patriotic about their car-making industry and the government did not spend a lot on it compared with its global rivals.


Lawyers for victims of the 2011 floods in Brisbane and Ipswich are on track to file class action suit by year's end

About time. It has all been a big whitewash of obvious negligence so far.  People died in the flood, let it not be forgotten

LAWYERS representing thousands of Brisbane River flood victims are expected to file one of the largest class action lawsuits in Australian history against the state's dam operators before the end of the year.

It still has not been determined what court will be used or even which state the case will be filed in.

Maurice Blackburn lawyers, with litigation funding from IMF, are continuing to build their case against Wivenhoe Dam engineers, alleging they were negligent in their handling of releases during the January 2011 flood.

The class action could seek up to $1 billion in damages or more.

So far, 4800 flood victims have registered an interest in joining the lawsuit, with about half signing documents making them Maurice Blackburn's clients.

Last week, the law firm asked flood victims to provide photos showing extensive flood damage.

In the next few months, Maurice Blackburn will hold a series of meetings to update flood victims on how the case is progressing.

The no-win, no-fee case is being funded by IMF, a private litigation fund that has already spent more than $1 million on experts to prove many homes would not have flooded, or would have flooded far less, if dam operators had managed flows more prudently.

The Newman government has publicly shown no interest in settling the dispute. The government says the dam operators acted responsibly and intends to fight a negligence claim.
Damian Scattini addresses the crowd

Maurice and Blackburn lawyers principal Damian Scattini addresses the crowd at a public meeting for a proposed flood class action against the State of Queensland on behalf of thousands of victims of the 2011 floods. Picture: Sarah Marshall

Flood victims, who will have to pay 20-30 per cent of any winnings to IMF, see the lawsuit as their last hope for flood compensation.

They will have to prove actual damages and deduct payouts they have received from insurance or charity.

Critics see the lawsuit as a money grab that could prove costly to taxpayers.

Maurice Blackburn went public with their case in January, holding a press conference where it released colour-coded maps showing specific areas its experts said should not have flooded, or flooded as badly, if operators had acted properly.

The law firm said the dam operators held back water too long over several days of heavy rainfall, panicked and flooded Ipswich and Brisbane.

Maurice Blackburn was criticised for errors in their maps, but said they weren't responsible for them. It said the inaccurate maps were meant to be educational or illustrative, not as evidence.

Residents who live in coloured areas wrongly alleged to have flooded said their property values were harmed by the release.


Qantas stays halal despite social media uproar

Qantas is weathering an attack on social media over its decision to ditch food containing alcohol or pork on its European flights through Dubai.

The decision, made out of respect for Islamic beliefs, follows the new partnership between Qantas and Emirates that came into effect on March 31.

Some of the less offensive comments on social media included the airline being referred to as "Al-Qantas" and "the flying Mosque-a-roo". "No pork or pork products, announcements in Arabic, no alcohol … who owns Qantas?" asked one user.

Qantas said on Tuesday it would not change its decision, despite the barrage of negative responses, many of them racist and some calling for the airline to be black banned.

It said alcohol was still being served on flights, but not used in food preparation.

"Our inflight catering reflects the cultural and regional influences of the international destinations that we fly to," the airline said in a statement.

Despite the pasting on social media, a spokesman said the reaction from passengers flying the route had been "positive".

The menu, written in Arabic and English, includes chicken and fish in economy, while business passengers are feted with lamb cassoulet, chicken schnitzel and even a mezze plate that the menu says is "inspired by Emirates".

"The feedback from customers on-board has been fantastic … we do have a good reputation for the quality of our food, compared with other international airlines."

However, the airline had to moderate comments on its Facebook page. "In line with our social media policy we have removed some of the inappropriate comments," the spokesman said.

Qantas' menu changes are nothing new. For years, the airline has flown to Jakarta without pork or alcohol in its inflight meals. It is common practice for airlines flying to such destinations to do the same. Those airlines include Emirates, Etihad, and Virgin Australia.


A boy, 6, removed from his siblings while in foster care as a baby will now be returned to that family

Typical heartless and immobile bureaucracy

A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy removed from his siblings in foster care as a baby will now be returned to that family in a case that will be referred to a state inquiry.

The Child Safety Department's handling of the case has been criticised by a social worker and a tribunal for delays in reuniting the siblings.

The boy had been living with two of his siblings in a foster family for a few months in 2008 when he was taken away at night, with little notice, and put with a different foster family, a tribunal has heard.

The department made the move in an attempt to make it easier for the boy to be reunited with his parents, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

But after two family reunion attempts failed, the boy was left with the second foster family in a regional Queensland town and not quickly returned to his siblings, as promised.

Although the department has no problem with the care he has been receiving and the boy has been happy, it decided in April last year to return him to live with his siblings, two hours away.

The boy's current foster mother had appealed to QCAT for the past five years, saying he had formed a strong bond with her family and had the right to a safe, stable living environment.

"Our family has been the only stable thing in (the boy's) life from such a young age," she said in a submission to the tribunal.

However on March 12, QCAT confirmed the department's decision to remove the boy and return him to live with his siblings.

The tribunal found that while the boy would be upset about being taken away from the foster family he knew, it was best for him to be raised with his young siblings and their carers.

However the members agreed with a social worker's criticism of the department for failing to reunite the boy with his siblings earlier.

Sibling contact had been "significantly adversely affected", the social worker said.

The decision will be referred to the Communities and Child Safety Minister and the Carmody inquiry into child protection.



Paul said...

The car industry has been facing imminent doom ever since the P76 and the collapse of British Leyland in Australia. So many deckchairs later, I think this time its for real.

Anonymous said...

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and some guys are excellent politicians.