Thursday, December 12, 2013

Abbott puts pressure on asylum-seekers

THE Abbott government is tightening the screws on the living conditions of about 33,000 asylum-seekers in the community on bridging visas by rejecting vulnerable support payments, delaying other assistance and letting visas expire.

The Australian has learned new applications for the Community Assistance Payment -- designed for the most vulnerable asylum-seekers in the community -- have been rejected in every case in the past two months and about 90 per cent of the time in the past six months.

Waiting times to secure interviews for the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme, which pays about $440 a fortnight, have also blown out from about six weeks to four months, according to those who work with asylum-seekers.

Red Cross staff who handle federal government contracts have been instructed to divert resources from administering the CAS program to the ASAS program.

The CAS program is designed for those with mental health conditions, disabilities, the elderly, traumatised people and children.

Asylum Seekers Centre chief executive Melanie Noden, based in Sydney, said the facility was now spending four times as much on emergencies as it was 18 months ago, and that asylum-seekers released from detention had in some cases been sent out into the community without support.

"We've had to close referrals from the Red Cross . . . because we've had 46 new cases in the last few weeks and 30 of those have been homeless," Ms Noden said. "The CAS program has all but closed." Ms Noden said one client had been released with basic Medicare support and managed to get a subscription for his diabetes medication, but had no money to pay for it.

"By the time he was found he was quite seriously ill," she said.

"I cannot tell anyone the official policies have changed but I know from the outcomes we are seeing that the way they have been applied has changed and that change has been recent."

Ms Noden said about half her clients had arrived in Australia by plane, and half by boat.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison denied there had been any crackdown on either CAS or ASAS payments and said the redirection of Red Cross resources reflected a downturn in the number of people released from detention since September.

He said the government was working to renew bridging visas "in line with new processes which are being finalised".

But a migration agent who works principally with asylum-seekers and did not want to be named said policy "interpretations" had combined to create a perfect storm of social discord.

"They can't work, they can't study, they can't scratch themselves without fingers being pointed and no one knows when it all might end, what lies at the end of the line," she said.

"Cracking down even more on this group has one purpose only. The government wants to make things so bad here the asylum-speakers just go home."

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said there was nothing to be gained from "cruelty for cruelty's sake".

"If there has been a change of procedure under this government then it is very important the minister makes this change public and transparent."


Public sector wages grow by $750 million despite job cuts

The Commonwealth government’s workforce shrunk by about 1500 jobs in the 2012-2013 financial year, but its wages bill grew by more than $750 million, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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The bureau’s latest snapshot of public sector employment and wages shows the federal government employed about 248,500 workers across its public service and non-public service agencies and departments, down from 250,000 the previous year.

But the data contained bad news for the Abbott government’s cost-cutting agenda, with wages growing to $19.7 billion, a 3.8 per cent increase from just under $19 billion in 2011-2012.

Across the sector, state governments employed 1.45 million Australians in June 2013, up slightly from the previous year despite cuts in NSW and Queensland, while local councils had 192,000 workers.

The bureau has put Australia’s public sector workforce at just under 1.9 million Australians with their wages and salaries at nearly $134 billion.


Court opens files on AWU 'fraud'

VICTORIA'S most senior magistrate has found reasonable grounds to conclude that Julia Gillard's former boyfriend was involved in a fraud, negating his right to claim privilege over documents held at her old law firm.

Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen yesterday granted Victoria Police access to 363 documents that have remained sealed since they were seized under warrant from Slater & Gordon's Melbourne office.

Fraud squad detectives sought the documents as part of their ongoing investigation into former Australian Workers Union boss Bruce Wilson and the AWU Workplace Reform Association "slush fund".

It is alleged Mr Wilson used the fund to siphon hundreds of thousands of dollars from construction giant Thiess and buy a house in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. After receiving evidence, including from lead investigator Ross Mitchell and Mr Wilson's former bagman Ralph Blewitt, Mr Lauritsen said he was satisfied each document that met the requirements for privilege was "prepared in furtherance of the commission of a fraud or an offence".

"The evidence of Blewitt establishes that Thiess was deceived," he said in his published reasons.

"It believed it was paying for a particular service. The association provided no such service.

"Wilson bought a home with some of Thiess's payments. Only he knows what happened (to) the rest."

Mr Wilson was in a long-term relationship with Ms Gillard when she provided legal advice to help establish the association while working at Slater & Gordon, later describing it to her employer as a "slush fund".

Money was withdrawn from the fund to purchase the Fitzroy house in Mr Blewitt's name at a 1993 auction, which Ms Gillard attended with Mr Wilson, who subsequently lived in the property.

Slater & Gordon handled the conveyancing and helped provide finance.

An affidavit sworn by Mr Mitchell, referred to in the court's decision, says evidence identified through the investigation indicates the creation of the association was "for the sole purpose of legitimising the 'false' invoicing for 'work' provided by the association".

Mr Mitchell says he is investigating four types of offence in relation to Mr Wilson and others: obtaining property by deception; receiving secret commissions; making and using false documents; and conspiracy to cheat and defraud.

"He (Mr Mitchell) now believes Wilson, Blewitt and others were involved in committing these offences," Mr Lauritsen said.

Ms Gillard has denied wrongdoing and said she had no knowledge of the fund's operations other than it was a "slush fund" for the re-election of union officials.

Mr Wilson has not been charged with any offence and has similarly denied any wrongdoing.

Astrid Haban-Beer, representing Mr Wilson, asked Mr Lauritsen to place a stay on his orders pending an appeal against the judgment. Mr Lauritsen asked Ms Haban-Beer whether she had seen the disputed documents, saying he found it "remarkable" an appeal would be lodged.

"If you haven't really got instructions, then you are wasting my time," he said. "You're seriously suggesting your client wants to appeal?"

He agreed to delay the effect of his orders until next Monday so appeal papers could be lodged.

The court will return on that day to hear further argument on a media application to access affidavits and other materials tendered in the case.

Mr Lauritsen said he had considered Mr Wilson's "remarkable" 7.30 interview last year in which he admitted the association's purpose was to fund election campaigns.

"He even ponders whether he used the expression 'slush fund' when speaking to solicitors," Mr Lauritsen said.  "He then admits using its monies to buy the property, justifying its use by saying it was not union money.

"The payment from the association's cheque account to Blewitt coincided with the timing and amount of the deposit paid on the property.  "None of the net sale proceeds went to the AWU."

Mr Blewitt has publicly admitted his involvement in an alleged union fraud and already waived his claim to privilege over the Slater & Gordon documents.

Lawyers for Mr Wilson have previously described Mr Blewitt as "inherently unreliable" and making his statements in a quest for indemnity from prosecution, but Mr Lauritsen said he had no reason to doubt Mr Blewitt's credit. "One does not reject a person's sworn evidence unless there is a powerful reason to do so," he said. "In the circumstance of delay between the events and the statement, Blewitt gave adequate detail."

Mr Lauritsen has warned that most of the documents date from 1995 and could disappoint police as a source for their investigation.


Top Marx for their ABC

There is a fair bit of truth in this satire

YOU don't get a lot for 14 cents these days: maybe a couple of lollies at those few remaining corner stores that still sell them individually, or the equivalent of two minutes parking at a metered spot in Brisbane's CBD. Don't dally.

But watch the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves as my nanna used to say. After all 14 cents a day adds up to about $51 over a year; enough for a slab of beer, half a tank of petrol (yes, I know, fuel efficiency is not my strong point) or perhaps a one-month subscription to Foxtel's basic service.

This may come as a shock, but that 14 cents a days is, on a per capita basis, what we are now paying for the pond scum of the Australian Left to run the socialist propaganda unit that the ABC is today.

Rather than having the free market choice to divert our hard-earned small change to something more culturally and intellectually rewarding like a four-week binge of Simpsons re-runs, we are instead compelled to pump it into a bloated Soviet-style bureaucracy infested with callow reporters, trainee talking heads and Triple-J alumni - ill-informed innocents the lot of them, peddling their infantile musings to an unsuspecting nation.

The ABC is an insidious beast, its tentacles poisoning the minds of our youngest and most impressionable, with even ostensibly educational programs such as Behind The News acting as little more than a propaganda platform for the ABC's agenda of taking us with it on the long march to socialist servitude. For God and Queen's sake people, it even promotes a compassionate line on refugees and gender equality, reports the warmist nonsense that "human-influenced" climate change might be a bit of bummer and corrupts young minds by referring to our Prime Minister as "Tony".

Have they no shame?

It has become a behemoth of suffocating size that is in denial about the leftist bias of its presenters, a political soapbox for the Left, a massive organ of state media, strangling private voices and imposing a Leftist orthodoxy.

The ABC - as the "right thinking" people who use the #theirABC hashtag are always on about - is traitorous, seditious and un-Australian and supports terrorists and thieves by daring to report on leaked documents that might embarrass our national interest and the "adults" who have finally taken over in Canberra. Osama bin Laden probably had the ABC app at the top of his smartphone screen.

Conservatives are their enemy; you can see it in the way they stack their current affairs and talk shows with only token appearances by sensible, right-thinking rationalists like Mark Textor or Sophie Mirabella.

My friends, the conspiracy runs deeper than the overt agitprop in our alleged "news" bulletins, with the crawling hive of fifth columnists at Ultimo using subliminal techniques to corrupt Australian minds to their chosen brand of reformist group think. If #theirABC (it's certainly not our ABC) was headquartered in Queensland we could run the lot of them out of town under our new Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment laws. Take that Paul Barry.

Forget the obvious spear carriers for the commies, climate alarmists and reffo apologists like "Red" Kerry O'Brien, Barrie Cassidy and Tony Jones. This is, after all, the same basket-weaving, hand-wringing, bed-wetting, polygamist collective that pays some of our 14 cents a day to the likes of Phillip Adams - a bearded, bomb-throwing apologist for single mothers, illegals and all manner of limp-wristed social justice causes if ever I saw one.

No, the cancer runs deep.

Burrow deeply enough and you can see it in programs even as seemingly innocent as Gardening Australia, with its green, climate change and pro-vegetables agenda. Take host Costa Georgiadis for example - the bloke looks like a weird ABC hybrid of Karl Marx and Castro trying to channel Rasputin on a bad hair day.

Do our children seriously need to be exposed to this?

And don't start me on Bananas in Pyjamas: two androgynous pieces of fruit (how gay is that?) consorting with a threesome of mixed-marriage teddy bears and a rat that works, no doubt at our expense, at some sort of communal (think communist, think commune) store. The ever prescient Cory Bernardi was right about that slippery slope - with that sort of mind-altering trans-flora-species correctness it's a wonder our kids haven't decided Play School is some sort of metaphor for group onanism.

Even before we get to the undisguised Marxist insurgency of twaddle like Gruen Nation, or, God forbid and think of the children (and innocent dogs), The Chaser, there is the hidden hive-think evident in the like of so-called comedian Adam Hills. Wake up people, the bloke was born with no right foot, how left-leaning can you get?

But then what do you expect from a collectivist cluster-bomb that describes a black, Maoist terrorist like Nelson Mandela as one of the great leaders of our modern era? I urge you all to write an angry letter to the Taxation Office demanding a rebate for your 14 cents.

You know it makes sense.


1 comment:

Keith Chisholm said...

First timer here. Much to like. Even more to ponder. MIGHT even change some long-held views.

BUT ... the vitriol in the anti-ABC rant seems WAY over-the-top.
THAT level of hatred and spleen demonstrates more bias and less balance than any I have noted on the ABC.
Paranoia even.

And no, I have never been involved in the media or party-politics.