Friday, December 27, 2013

The Human Rights gravy train

A lot of highly paid women

The Human Rights Commission annual report report for 2013 is here.  On page 150 we get to see the staffing profile – 143 employees (of whom only 38 are male) – and the salary rank those individuals earn. More than half of the Commission are on salaries above $72,900. That is well above the median income for Australia. Over 90 per cent of the Human Rights Commission employees earns above the median wage.

I imagine Tim Wilson will be one of the statutory office holders. How much they are paid is reported on page 101 of the report.

So the top nine employees are the SES Band levels and the Statutory Office holders. Between them they earn $2.3 million (basic salary) out of a total salary and wages budget of $12.3 million. So 6.3 per cent of the employees take out 18.65 per cent of the total salary budget.

What else can we say about the salary and conditions of this organisation? Employee Benefits (salary + super + on costs and the like) came to $16,384,000. The federal government pumped in $17,979,000. So 91 per cent of all government expenditure earmarked for the AHRC is spent of salaries and wages and super (plus odds and ends). Another $6.9 million came from the sales of services and operating a sub-lease (Really?). So I reckon they have some $8.5 million to provide whatever it is that the AHRC actually does.

I don’t want to comment on the value of that $8.5 million (except to suggest that it is probably less than $8.5 million) but even in an accounting sense we the taxpayer are paying some $16 million in salaries to get $8.5 million of human rights programs.



Canberra is broke. And it wants your money.  That’s the message from ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, who is pleading for a Holden-style bailout package to rescue her ridiculous territory from the expense of public service redundancies.

In one way, Gallagher’s is an understandable call. Like Holden, Canberra is union-dominated, isolated from economic realities and produces nothing that people want. It’s a slow and subsidised Commodore in a world of speedy VW Golfs. So why shouldn’t it receive the same generous treatment as the cash-strapped carmaker?

Well, here are a few reasons.

Like Washington DC under Barack Obama, Canberra enjoyed a massive public sector growth throughout Labor’s six years in power. While the rest of the country watched a federal surplus vanish, Canberra grew ever fatter. As the Canberra Times reported just a few weeks ago:

"Employment in the ACT’s public sector has exploded by 30 per cent in six years, far outstripping the other states and territories.

The territory government wages bill has grown by $685 million in the same period, blowing out by $110 million each year.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the ACT’s public sector grew by more than three times the combined national average for state governments and local councils."

Having spent that money hiring public servants, Katy Gallagher now wants more money from you to pay out those public servants.

“It’s like the Holden package the Prime Minister just pitched to the Holden workers; they lost several thousand jobs in Melbourne and Victoria and we are potentially losing many many more from a smaller jurisdiction,” Gallagher claimed on the weekend.

The argument in favour of Holden’s package is that production line workers will need retraining to be employable in other areas. Is that even possible with public servants? Gallagher continued:

“And there is an equal argument to the Commonwealth; if your decision is going to force this on our community what are you going to do to support us through that change?’’

The poor community. It needs support during “change”. When it comes to begging, this is the most pitiful line since a stranger turned up at my house a few months back asking for a loan so he could visit his dying mother. Problem was, he’d forgotten that I’d already given him some cash just weeks earlier – and that was to retrieve his mum’s dead body from the hospital.

When you’re running a scam, it pays to remember the details. Back in May, for example, the ACT government easily found more than $300,000 to fund Skywhale, a grotesque but wholly accurate representation of Canberra’s reckless spending.

Maybe Skywhale could be wheeled out to cheer up depressed Canberra public servants as they face a bleak future of box wine and instant coffee. Problem is, having paid for the inflatable monster, Canberra has to pay for it again every time it appears. The fee for a Skywhale visit at Canberra community events is anything between $1800 and $7000, which is a lot to pay for giving your children nightmares that would frighten a meth addict.

If change is on the way for Canberra, the city is already well placed to cope without our help. A few years ago, the activist group GetUp! claimed that one in every 30 Canberra residents is a member. All GetUp! ever does is scream for change: to environmental policies, wages, transport, you name it. Seeing as they’re so well-versed on the subject, Canberra’s GetUp! lobby should become change consultants, helping public servants understand how debt happens when people stop giving you free money.

And Lord, how the money rolled in when Labor was in charge. At its peak, the completely pointless Climate Change Department sucked down $218 million per year. An impressive chunk of that cash was spent housing departmental staff in Canberra’s ritzy new Nishi building, now a monument to the ACT’s self-importance and Labor’s financial incompetence.

Speaking of monuments, that’s one of Gallagher’s plans for Canberra’s tax-funded renewal. “In 1996 the National Museum was the project, it drove jobs, it did get the economy moving along,” she claimed on the weekend. “That’s the sort of discussion we need to have with the Commonwealth.”

Let’s hope it’s a short discussion, ending with the word “no”.

But maybe I’m being too hasty. Perhaps a grand monumental project in the ACT would actually be beneficial to all of us.

I’m thinking it could possibly be something like a massive wall, sort of like the avant-garde structure that once dominated Berlin so impressively. This freedom wall, featuring artistic curls of barbed wire and uniformed “interactivity guides” in fortified turrets, could circle the whole city of Canberra.

After all, if they like socialism so much they should be allowed to enjoy it all by themselves.


The myth exposed: another “stolen generations” case fails in court

Yet another “stolen generations” case is lost in court, this one brought in Western Australia by two parents and seven of their children claiming the state failed in its fiduciary care.

The case has familiar elements, including claimants who’d constructed a memory of being the largely blameless victims of nasty officials, when in fact contemporaneous documents reveal the children were removed not because they were simply Aboriginal but because they were in great need. Those officials first stepped in when one child was taken to hospital as a six month old weighing half a kilogram less than she had at birth. Those officials acted under the Child Welfare Act which applied to all children, and they had monitored this family repeatedly after finding it lived in a dirty humpy with beds for just three.

Said the judge:

"The documents to which I have referred support three findings. First, Don and Sylvia’s living conditions, and their home environment relevant to the care of their children, were being monitored by officers of the Child Welfare Department in the years after the Siblings were removed from their care.

Secondly, the observations made by those officers, or information provided to those officers, was to the effect that until approximately mid-1970, Don and Sylvia continued to live in the humpy in circumstances which were largely unchanged (as compared with when the Siblings became wards) that they engaged in heavy drinking and that their relationship was marred by domestic violence.

Thirdly, that information was relied upon by officers of the Child Welfare Department in considering whether the Children should be permitted to return to live with Don and Sylvia."

The parents are listed in documents as having admitted most of their children into care themselves after being threatened with being taken to court for neglect. The father agreed to pay maintenance.

No “stolen generations” case has ever succeeded in court. The one case that is sometimes claimed as an exception - that of Bruce Trevorrow - in fact establishes that in South Australia there was no law permitting the taking away of children just because they were Aboriginal. In that case, a female welfare worker secretly broke the law by giving away to a foster family a baby she thought had been half-starved and badly neglected by a father she’d falsely assumed was a “habitual drunkard” and a mother she’d heard had “gone walkabout” from her family and had not visited her baby in hospital.

As the judge in that case ruled:

"Mrs Angas may have been well-intentioned ... but was well aware, or ought to have been aware, that the removal of the plaintiff from his family, and his placement with the Davies family, was undertaken in circumstances that were understood to be without legal authority, beyond power and contrary to authoritative legal advice."

But had Trevorrow been left where he was...

The “stolen generations” are a dangerous myth. No one has yet identified even 10 children stolen just because they were Aborigines, but so powerful is this myth now that I can identify children who because of it have been left in terrible danger - only to be killed, raped and die of neglect.


Western Australia to kill sharks  -- Greenies disgusted

SHARKS bigger than three metres will be "humanely destroyed" with a firearm and discarded offshore, the tender for the State Government's baited drum line strategy reveals.

Commercial fishermen have until the end of next week to bid for the contract to deploy, manage and maintain up to 72 shark drum lines one kilometre off popular beaches in Perth and the South-West.

An "experienced licensed commercial fishing organisation" is sought for the service, which was announced following the death of surfer Chris Boyd, 35, at Gracetown last month.

The tender request includes new detail about the measure, including:

* Any white shark, tiger shark or bull shark greater than 3m total length caught on the drum lines will be "humanely destroyed";

* Current direction on the humane destruction of large sharks "involves the use of a firearm";

* Any sharks that are dead or destroyed will be tagged and taken offshore (distance to be confirmed) and discarded;

* In the initial stages of the program a number of sharks may be brought to shore;

* All other animals taken on the drum lines will be released alive "where possible";

* Any animals which are dead, or considered not in a condition to survive, are to be humanely destroyed, tagged and taken offshore for disposal;

* Drums will be supplied by the Department of Fisheries, but the bait will be supplied by the fishermen and preferably sourced from shark;

* The drum lines will be patrolled for 12 hours each day, between 6am and 6pm, seven days a week;

* Drum lines will be baited at both the commencement of, and prior to the end of, each patrol day, will all used baits disposed onshore;

* Exemptions from "various state legislation" which prohibit the take, or attempted take, of protected shark species will be provided;

* It is likely a 50m exclusion zone will be implemented around each drum line. Only vessels operated by the contractor will be allowed within the exclusion zone;

The successful firm will also respond to shark threats, including the deployment of additional drum lines within 30 minutes.

The document, issued by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, says the measure is a "direct response to the unprecedented shark fatalities that have occurred in Western Australia over the last three years".

Shark kill strategy 'disgusting'

Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Jeff Hansen described the measures as "absolutely disgusting" at a time when the rest of the world is moving towards shark conservation.

"I just don't know how the West Australian Government is getting away with what they are doing. We need more legal people to look into this to see how this is legal in this day and age," Mr Hansen said.

University of Western Australia shark biologist Ryan Kemptser, the author of an open letter calling for a rethink on the shark-bait policy, said: "Popular beaches and surf breaks can be protected just as effectively by simply moving sharks alive offshore instead of killing them and then dumping their bodies offshore, which is what the Government proposes to do.

"It would require exactly the same resources but it wouldn't result in killing any sharks, therefore protecting our local ecosystems."

Fisheries Minister Ken Baston today said since 2011 the State Government had invested $5m on taggging, deterrents and other innovations to better understand sharks.

"I agree research is important, however, we have seen seven fatal shark attacks over the past three years and it's time to put human safety first," he said.

"Western Australians who use the water expect the Government to take action to decrease the risk of shark attack at our popular beaches.

"Our new policy of setting drumlines to target sharks deemed a threat at these beaches will be in place very soon. The Government has committed to taking immediate steps, while continuing long term research."

As announced earlier this month, drum lines will be deployed 24 hours a day, initially from January until April.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Stolen generations" is used as a weapon against us in much the same way the "legacy of slavery" is used to bludgeon White America.