Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Racist rant: tourists abused on Sydney bus

Resentment over "boat people" from the third world inviting themselves in with nothing effective being done about it by the Labor government is mostly bottled up but you have got to expect it to burst out somewhere.  All these incidents are quite recent

A passenger on a Sydney bus managed to grab the end of an aggressive racist rant on camera, after no one stepped up to stop the man verbally attacking Asian tourists.

A group of Asian tourists have been subjected to a racist rant on a Sydney bus that was filmed and posted online by a female passenger.

Heidi, who asked for her surname to be withheld, pulled out her phone and started filming the latter part of the rant on Easter Saturday after she told the abusive man to get off the bus to no avail.

In the video, a Caucasian man yells at a middle-aged man and woman of Korean appearance about the Japanese bombing of Australia during World War II and calls the pair "f---ing bastards".

Before the camera started rolling, the man yelled racist taunts such as, "Do you f---ing speak English?", "Japanese c---s" and "why did you come to Australia?", predominantly at the woman, Heidi said.

The racist rant shocked Heidi, a 30- year-old office worker of Chinese descent, so she and another passenger told the man to get off the bus and started filming.

However, she said she was even more shocked at what came next.

"We didn't receive any support from the other passengers," she said.

"Some told us to sit back down and be quiet and everyone just looked really blase. No one did anything about it. In fact, two girls sitting next to me thought it was funny and burst into laughter."

"I said 'why is it funny? It's offensive, we should do something about it'."

She said the two women who laughed at her, one of whom can be heard on the video speaking to a friend on the phone, were of Aboriginal appearance.

"The fact that the Aboriginal girls found it funny that a white male [was] telling another racial group to get out of the country because they don't belong here really puts the icing on the cake," she said.

The incident happened at 7.30pm on Easter Saturday at Town Hall on the 470 route from Circular Quay to Lilyfield.

The State Transit Authority has been contacted for comment.

Heidi said she didn't see what provoked the man to start abusing the Asian tourists but it started midway down the bus and continued as the man got up and alighted at the front.

At one point, the Asian man apologised to the abusive man in an attempt to pacify him but it only seemed to further enrage him.

"The only thing I could think of at the time was to film it," Heidi said.

The incident is the latest in a string of racist rants on public transport to be filmed or shared on social media.

In March, a video filmed on a Perth bus showed a woman verbally abusing another woman, who she refers to as Chinese, for speaking in another language.

In February, ABC newsreader Jeremy Fernandez tweeted about being called a "black c---" who should "go back to his country" by a female passenger on a Sydney bus. He was told by the bus driver to move seats but refused to.

In November last year, footage of a racist attack on a French woman on a Melbourne bus went viral after she was called a dog by male passengers, threatened with having her breasts cut off and told to "speak English or die".

Heidi said she had seen a viral video of the Melbourne incident and felt like the scene she witnessed on Saturday was the "Sydney sequel".

"It felt really surreal," she said. "It upsets me when Asians (or any other racial groups for that matter) are the targets of racist abuse. But it disgusts me more when we get told we shouldn't stand up for what's right."


Widow accuses Queensland Ambulance Service of covering up botched response

The operators involved should be fired

A BRISBANE widow says the Queensland Ambulance Service has tried to cover up the botched response to an emergency callout to her critically injured husband.

Margaret Gibb says she only learnt vital details about the day her husband Shane Gibb died by reading a Right to Information probe into ambulance bungles in last Saturday's The Courier-Mail.

Until that story detailing the response to her husband's death, Mrs Gibb said she had received only a four-page report from the Queensland Coroner, in which she was addressed by an incorrect surname.

Mr Gibb, 59, died in February 2012 after he was crushed while fixing his four-tonne truck in his Brighton driveway, in Brisbane's north.

The QAS took 40 minutes to get the ambulance to the address, only three minutes' drive from the nearest ambulance station.

"A lot of things they left out that I didn't get told. I didn't find them out until I read your paper," Mrs Gibb said yesterday.

The Courier-Mail was unable to contact the Gibb family because the information received under the RTI process had all personal details removed.

"It was like they tried to cover things up to save them money, to pretend that it didn't happen and hope it all went away. I never heard anything from the QAS - no apology, no admission. It was as if there was no problem at all," Mrs Gibb said.

"I should have been contacted about these issues and I should have received an apology."

The Department of Community Safety last night admitted that the QAS failed to follow normal procedure by meeting the family. The Department apologised for the "unintentional oversight".

The Coroner said Mr Gibb's injuries "were considered to be unsurvivable" but he was conscious, talking and even joking with a neighbour while waiting for the ambulance.

But a communication mix-up led to the job being coded as non life-threatening and a nearby paramedic could not be reached on a pager for almost 10 minutes.

The paramedic was not called by phone despite being at the desk.

Meanwhile, Mr Gibb, who was pinned by the truck, had a massive heart attack while his teenage son watched. Brad Gibb, now 15, misses his father and is reluctant to discuss what he witnessed.

"He could have had a fighting chance if the ambulance had arrived sooner," Mrs Gibb said. "He would have been in the (operating) theatre by (the time he had a heart attack).

"I used a pager in the '80s. Why aren't they using a mobile phone? It's so archaic, isn't it?"

Zane Gibb, 21, said he always had questions about his father's death and was glad the truth was finally coming out.

"It's been in the back of my mind that people have survived these injuries before. There also was a huge time gap in the way they responded," he said.

"We're not in a rural area, it was a real mess up. This is an example of something that needs to be fixed. We're in the 21st century. I just hope it doesn't happen to other people."

The Coroner's letter summarised some of the QAS failures but Mrs Gibb did not receive more than 40 pages of documents from the QAS internal investigation, which are public record but were labelled "confidential" by the QAS.

"They didn't want anyone to see it obviously," Mrs Gibb said. "They didn't hand it out."

The QAS investigation showed a hungry dispatcher wanting to go on a meal break and not allowed to eat at her station had improperly coded the incident as non urgent and sent an ambulance from a distant station without lights flashing.

Mrs Gibb said it was appalling the dispatcher was so poorly trained not to know what was life-threatening.

"People need to know what they are doing if they are taking calls," she said.

Other communication breakdowns, faulty equipment and excuses made her question the soundness of the QAS management. Ambulance worker units already have flagged poor morale and a bureaucratic culture that blames the line staff when things go bad.

"It sounds really incompetent, a really amateur show. They are putting lives at risk," Mrs Gibb said. "It makes me quite angry."

QAS Commissioner Russell Bowles, who admits to a "litany of errors" that make him not proud of the way the case was handled, claimed his agency wasn't hiding anything and had fixed the things that caused the errors.

He said QAS had referred the death to Queensland Health Quality and Complaints Commission and the Coroner as required.

The loss of her husband's income as a truck driver has created financial difficulty for the Gibbs, but QAS has offered nothing in the way of compensation for its mistakes.

Mrs Gibb said she might ask a solicitor to see if there was a case for negligence.

In a statement, the Community Safety department said there were "shortfalls" in the QAS performance in the man's death but no cover-up.

"The QAS has and continues to maintain a very transparent approach to aspects of quality assurance."

Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey has continually declined interviews.


Bit by bit, Gillard fails to deliver on her promises

We're all paying for Labor's childish spending choices

Amanda Vanstone

My husband is one of those crazy guys who really, really likes cars. On holidays overseas he experiences genuine pleasure seeing hordes of flash cars that we might see only rarely in Australia.

His current desire is to own some sort of turbocharged Bentley that looks a bit like a Batman car to me. Alternatively, a Rolls-Royce. In my less-caring moments I take a cue from The Castle and tell him he's dreaming.

Lately my position seems a little selfish and uncharitable. So, just this once, I will take a leaf out of Julia Gillard's songbook. My husband Tony will be ecstatic when I announce with an air of determined generosity that he can have the car of his dreams and there will be no argument. He will be incredulous when he hears that the car will be a gift from me. And when I hand over a little parcel with a key ring and some keys, he will be champing at the bit to find where I have placed the vehicle so he can jump in for a quick spin.

That's where there might be a bit of trouble. I will have to explain that he is getting the car in bits, piece by piece, because I obviously do not have that kind of money sitting around doing nothing. It is hard to imagine he will be enthused by the promise of some tyres next month, the engine next year and the body somewhere further down the track. He will feel cheated. He will be annoyed at what he will see as a stupid joke.

But this is what our Prime Minister does to us regularly. She, like all of us, would like to see a much better deal for people affected by disability. So she announces she will deliver it. She paints herself as the hero of the disability sector. Except she doesn't have the money. What makes it worse is she knows it.

It is a bitter pill for people who really do need some good news. Similarly, Gillard will seek to paint herself as the hero of education. Again, realistically, she just cannot deliver. She has neither the money nor the likelihood of having the power.

I think the electorate will be very unforgiving of a Prime Minister who appears to think she can fool most of the people most of the time.

As the budget approaches, voters will no doubt recall the promises last year of, finally, producing a surplus.

Various financial houses are predicting a deficit of $10 billion, $15 billion or even $20 billion.

It's a confusing message from an apparently confused government. We are told the economy is in great shape. That leaves many voters wondering why we can't balance the books. Every voter and every family understands that every now and then money has to be borrowed. What they don't understand is why this government keeps borrowing and borrowing and spending and spending.

From Treasurer Wayne Swan there will be the same tired excuses. He might suggest commodity prices have fallen and appear oblivious to the fact everyone else has understood from day one the reality of commodity price fluctuations. It is as if the Treasurer expects us to believe that price fluctuations, unexpected natural disasters and all the other variables that might affect the budget are somehow new-found difficulties that he is managing masterfully. If only that were true. Every government has to handle these variables.

My granny didn't have much of a formal education but, like many people, she learnt from life. She knew you had to live within your means and that wise people put something away for a rainy day.

She understood that the best time to fix your roof is while the sun is shining and she knew that while it was fair enough to borrow money, in the end you could not keep spending more than you earned.

Oh that Wayne Swan had lived her life and learnt those lessons.

He seems to think, like a kid in a lolly shop, that all his problems are the fault of those who are simply not giving him enough money.

As kids grow up they come to grips with having to make choices that fit their budget.

The Treasurer's problem is the government's clear inability to make spending choices that fit our budget. It either takes more from voters, perhaps by raiding superannuation, or it borrows from the next generation. Fortunately, the voters, according to the pollsters, have probably wised up to Gillard and her coterie of ministers who promise everything, mess up the implementation and borrow the money from our kids.

You might ask why Gillard and her ministers seem to care not one jot about the mess they have created. The answer is simple. They are beholden to a few old-time bully-boy unions. That's where they get their power within the Labor movement.

Our political leaders kowtow not to us but to a movement riddled with corruption, bullying and a fair dose of misogyny. That's why we are seeing the reinvention of the old divide-and-rule tactics. A quick dose of class warfare and the politics of envy makes them feel powerful. It is standard old-time union stuff. "We will take from the rich and give to the poor" makes them feel like Robin Hood.

Smart unionists and decent Labor people realised long ago how outdated, counterproductive and stupid this sort of thinking is. They must look at Labor today and weep.


Who are the frauds here?

The most humble shop in Double Bay is also one of the most successful. It is a money-spinner, a magnet for fakes, a miniature Palace of Lies.

The store announces its presence with only a sandwich-board sign on the pavement. It does not have a shop-front. It is on the second floor, with access via a stairway. It trades seven days a week, discreet but thriving. On most weekdays a FedEx van pulls up outside and disgorges box after box of designer clothes, handbags, shoes and luggage. Upstairs, these goods will sell at a fraction of the price at the brand-name stores in Westfield. If you know how to ask.

Among the labels coming out of those trucks are Prada, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Gucci, Versace, Hugo Boss, Zegna, Ferragamo, Burberry and Hermes.

As every brand-conscious woman knows, a big-name handbag carries a big-time price tag, but at this store what would cost $400 at a brand-name store will cost about $80 on New South Head Road. The shop is run by Russians who import fake branded goods from China and Indonesia.

The store has even been known to offer the Hermes Birkin Bag, which sells for about $10,000, and can sell for much more, for $300, complete with a "certificate of authenticity". At that price the authenticity is either fake or stolen.

Yet when Australian managers were contacted by an irate Double Bay shopkeeper, managers at Gucci, Versace, Armani, Prada and Jimmy Choo all expressed a lack of interest.

Recently, a large shipment of Jimmy Choo products - shoes, bags, wallets, sunglasses - arrived at the New South Head Road store and were priced at discounts of between 75 and 90 per cent, the standard discounts offered at the store. When a manager at Jimmy Choo was alerted to this her reaction was indifference.

With no effective interception by customs at Sydney Airport, and passivity by the brands, it is no wonder that the trade in bootleg brands is thriving in Australia. The store on New South Head Road is so successful it also operates as a distributor. Every day a woman arrives in a BMW to pick up stock for other outlets.

The operation in Double Bay is like a miniature version of Luohu Commercial City, the five-storey shopping mall in Shenzhen, China, on the wrong side of the tracks from Hong Kong. After visiting, and buying, a few years ago I called it the Palace of Lies, where everything is fake and no one tells the truth.

The blatancy of the trading in Double Bay, and elsewhere, raises questions about the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, which the Herald has buffeted recently with revelations of pockets of corruption and drug-dealing at the grassroots of the service plus chronic under-resourcing.

That counterfeit designer goods are flowing into the country through a customs sieve can be added to the list of dysfunctions in the federal government's overall border protection operations.

The shortfall in intercepting counterfeit goods has been partly picked up by the NSW Department of Fair Trading, which, with the NSW Police, recently raided a warehouse in Belfield, in south-western Sydney, where police seized large quantities of handbags, shoes, clothing and accessories. They arrested Gabi Zayout, described by the Department of Fair Trading as an important figure in the counterfeit trade.

Monday is a big day in combating the counterfeit trade. From April 1, a new law reverses the burden of proof when suspected fake goods are seized. Previously, when customs or police intercepted what they suspected were counterfeit goods no legal action could be taken unless the company which owned the brand commenced court proceedings. Without such proceedings the goods had to be released back to the importer. This always placed an onerous burden on legitimate businesses, which, given the high and slow cost of justice, often declined to pursue court actions.

As from Monday, when customs or police seize goods which they believe to be counterfeit, the onus will lie with the importer or distributor to prove they are not fakes. Without such proof, customs will destroy the goods.

This will be bad news to people who love cheap designer brand fakes, but the reform cannot come too soon for legitimate businesses. In Double Bay, at least four fashion stores have folded since the Russian operation started on New South Head Road. The women's clothing store immediately below the store went out of business a month ago.

What muddies these waters is that designer products may look similar to the famous brands but on closer inspection have subtle differences which may be enough to differentiate them from the real thing. Here the law remains ambiguous.

You may also ask, if goods can be sold at a fraction of the price of big-name brands and still earn a profit, that means the big-name brands are over-priced merchandise? Well, yes. But have you seen the rents that Frank Lowy and his boys charge in Westfield shopping malls?

Perhaps the indifference to fakes by the big brands can be attributed to this: Hermes International has a market value of €28 billion ($32 billion). Its stock has risen from €70 to €270 in the past four years and the maker of Birkin bags is trading at a massive multiple of 44 times earnings, which means fat profits are expected to flow. Similarly, the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy fashion and wine conglomerate has a market value of €68 billion, its share price has risen fivefold from €25 to €125 in four years, and it is trading at a rich multiple of 20 times earnings.

Perhaps that's why they couldn't be bothered.  While so many small fashion retailers struggle to survive.


No comments: