Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Money-hungry Gillard government grabs elderly people's savings

A QUEENSLAND pensioner emerged from a quintuple heart bypass only to find his bank had emptied his account, handing more than $22,000 to the Federal Government.

Legislative changes rushed through Parliament late last year mean money can now be identified as "unclaimed" after an account has been inactive for more than three years, instead of seven years.

Banks have already begun searching for inactive accounts that fit the new definition and transferring the cash to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, as required. ASIC then passes the money to the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The Australian Bankers' Association has accused the Government of putting its "own financial circumstances" ahead of customers' needs, leaving them facing "months of delays trying to reclaim their own money".

ASIC says the money can be claimed "at any time by the rightful owner", but banks have pointed out the process can take as long as six weeks.

Toowong resident Adrian Duffy is now looking at a lengthy battle to have his savings restored.

The 75-year-old spent 21 days in hospital following quintuple heart bypass surgery and a second operation in April.

When he and his wife, 57-year-old Mary-Jane, went to check their Suncorp account, they discovered their balance had plummeted from $22,616 to zero. A note on the May 1 entry read: "Closing WDL Govt unclaimed monies."

The couple had saved for 14 years in preparation for major health-related costs.

The couple are working to recover the money, but say they were lucky to have other savings.

"If we didn't have the money elsewhere, we would now have to be paying for cardiologists, visits to surgeons, ECGs, x-rays, whatever is involved in the follow up," he said.

"We would have to find money to pay them, because those people aren't going to say to you, 'we'll wait six weeks'."

While many people believe they have until May 31 to act on their dormant accounts, banks in fact must finalise their lodgements by that date.

A Treasury spokesman said the reforms were designed to "help reunite Australians with their lost money sooner, and protect them from being eroded by fees, charges and inflation".

He said interest would be paid "at the rate of CPI inflation from 1 July 2013".

National Seniors Australia chief Michael O'Neill said the changes were more likely to hit older Queenslanders, adding

the NSA had received calls from people who were "quite disturbed" to discover the changes.

Tony Burke, acting chief executive of the Australian Bankers' Association, said he believed there was "no benefit for consumers from the changes".

State Member for Indooroopilly Scott Emerson said he was "really concerned about how easily the Federal Government is able to reach in and rip money from people's accounts".

"When this was brought to my attention I've realised how rushed this legislation has been and how badly this policy has been implemented and communicated," Mr Emerson said.

Westpac and Bank of Queensland said they had been contacting affected customers.


Vegetation clearing restrictions eased in Qld.  One in the eye for Greenies

CONTROVERSIAL vegetation clearing laws which passed in parliament last night are bound to increase the rate of clearing, conservationists warn.

The Bill also included emergency amendments to allow drought-stricken cattle to graze in suitable National Parks by the end of this week.

It comes after Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke opposed the State's plans to temporarily open up the parks to graziers.

The amendments, winding back the previous Labor government's laws, marked a sad day for conservationists but were lauded by farmers.

A small group of protesters gathered outside Parliament House yesterday.

WWF director Nick Heath said it was disgraceful that Premier Campbell Newman would go back on a pre-election promise.  "'This is one of the most damaging environmental rollbacks in Australia's history," Mr Heath said.

"These amendments have stripped away protections for up to 2 million ha of bushland which is home to vulnerable native plants and animals, including koalas, cassowaries and quolls," he said.

"The green light for bulldozing of bushland will lead to an increased extinction risk for wildlife, cause soil erosion, water pollution and release millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.

But Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps denied the changes would lead to widescale clearing, saying it would allow farmers who had been "punished" by the former government through layers of red tape.

"It is very concerning for land owners to be told when they have made such an investment that their plans have been thrown into disarray by a government for political reasons," he said.

"It is a nonsense to suggest that the clearing of vegetation is undertaken indiscriminately or without a reasoned expectation that the farm business will expand as a result."


Poisonous Leftist broadcaster whines that a story did not treat him fairly

Since when has he ever been fair to people he disagrees with?

RAY Hadley has launched a broadside at arch enemy Mike Carlton, describing him as "the most hateful and vengeful broadcaster I've ever encountered".

"His disgraceful comments following the death of Stan Zemanek set him apart from any other broadcaster or person that I've ever encountered," he told

Hadley's comments come as Carlton criticised an Australian Story profile piece on Hadley, in which an interview with Carlton was heavily edited.

"Good taste dictates you don't speak ill of the dead," Mr Hadley said. "His bad taste knows no bounds."

Earlier, Carlton launched a tirade on his Twitter page citing the Hadley profile piece as: "Chocolate box crap, which must have been done by his PR team".

He added that airing the program on the ABC was "bizarre ... a 30-minute commercial for a rival broadcaster."

His anger stems from the final cut of an interview he did for the program, which Carlton says was distorted by "selective, unethical editing".


Why schools are failing our boys

Boys will be boys, they tell us, but how many of us actually take this adage to heart and embrace it?

I am the mother of four boys, now all adults. If I think back to their childhoods and adolescence, it’s a whirlwind of movement and physicality, adventure and injury, rough and tumble play, of fart jokes and stinky sports shoes, short and to-the-point communication, and lots and lots of food and Milo. (Actually, it’s not so different when we all get together now.)

This description of life with boys won’t surprise most people – and yet why is it that the one place where children spend most of their time, school, is so stacked against meeting boys’ needs?

A recent survey in WA found that girls are starting to outperform boys in maths and science, which hasn’t been the case previously. Fantastic news for our girls – these fields badly need some gender balance, but it’s a shame if it’s at boys’ expense. We are also seeing disturbing numbers of boys in remedial classes and in behaviour management units in our schools across the country.

Boys are also more likely statistically (75% more likely than girls in fact) to die or be injured in an accident, to commit a crime, to be injured playing sport, to get cancer, to die at work, to go to prison, to be admitted to hospital and to fail school … well, boys will be boys right? But what does that mean for parents and teachers?

It’s long been acknowledged that the low number of male primary teachers is an issue and unless your son’s female teacher has brothers, how can we expect her to understand the boys in the class unless we actually talk about the differences between boys and girls, politically incorrect as that might be?

Neil Farmer in his book, Getting it Right for Boys, explains some key differences in how most boys’ and girls’ brains function and some of these are that girls have better ability for “cross talk” between their right and left hemispheres, better memory storage and are more verbal and better listeners.

These differences explain a lot of the angst that happens in our homes and schools where boys are mainly misunderstood by the opposite gender.

One of the most noticeable major differences (and yes there are always exceptions) between girls and boys in the classroom is that boys are more likely to learn through movement. Passivity numbs them to a degree.

Boys have been shown to develop their right brain before their left brain, whereas girls develop both at the same time and this partially explains why boys are often up to 18 months behind girls when they start school and why girls are more emotionally and verbally savvy.

The right brain is more about ‘doing’, creativity and intuitive processing (rather than logical) and spatial growth and awareness. This may be why most boys prefer the sandpit to drawing and painting. It may also explain why men are better at reverse parking, but hey you didn’t hear it from me.

Classrooms, especially those trying to get everyone up to scratch for the NAPLAN, aren’t really conducive to this.

The second major difference is that the amygdala is actually bigger in boys than girls so they are biologically driven to want to be warriors and superheroes and to take risks – often perceived as naughtiness.

The brain difference also explains why boys get confused around emotions. Many boys will take any emotional state – even sadness, confusion, frustration and hurt – and turn it into an anger response. So much aggression is often masking other emotional vulnerabilities.

Combine this with their extra testosterone and we have a situation where if we don’t provide our boys with plenty of opportunity to diffuse pent-up energy, it will manifest itself in disruptive, aggressive and even bullying behaviours.

It worries me that Australia’s “education revolution” is eroding critical playtime and the opportunity for physicality in our schools and the cost is high for all children but even more so for our boys – and perhaps their teachers who end up devoting more and more time to behaviour management. Boys have shorter attention spans and often need more stimulation to become engaged in activities that they perceive as ‘boring’ with little fun and lightness.

Most girls do not have the same huge need to discharge energy and can sit at desks much longer than boys without becoming restless and disruptive.

Another challenge is that boys only hear 70-75% of what girls do and that’s with eye contact. If a boy is absorbed in a play activity, or is facing away from his parent or teacher, he will generally not hear a thing being said. He also struggles with information overload – so making too many requests in one communication can create a glazed look as he fails to understand what is required of him.

We need to factor in these gender differences when we’re communicating with boys. They need all the help they can get to ensure they can thrive in our schools and in life, and reverse those scary statistics. They need boy champions to do this.


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