Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Europcar incident

Europcar operates worldwide and has a large operation in Australia.  There have been many complaints about false damage claims by them.  The one below is fairly typical.  I would NEVER rent from them.  See here and here for previous episodes

Holidaymakers booking a hire car this summer should scrutinise the vehicle before and after rental – taking time-stamped photos – to avoid wrangles over charges for damage.

Nicholas Gentilli, a photographer-artist from Battersea, South-West London, is battling Europcar over a shock €550 (£435) bill for alleged damage sent a few days after he returned a car to its Nice Airport office in May. The bill was emailed without any detailed information, photos or a damage report.

Nicholas, 52, says: ‘When I called Europcar it said I had damaged some wheels. But when I handed back the car at check-in it was looked over by staff and I was assured everything was OK.

‘I don’t believe the damage was done by me. And even if it were I haven’t received any evidence or a damage report ten weeks on. If I had, I could at least claim on my insurance policy, which covers the hire company’s excess.’

Europcar says its French office is investigating.

Bob Atkinson, from comparison website TravelSupermarket, says: ‘Taking photos and also marking scratches and dents on the sheet from the hire firm before you set off in the hire car makes sense – as does ensuring the lights, windscreen wipers and radio work.

‘It may seem tiresome after a flight, but it will take just a couple of minutes and protect you from facing extra charges that you will end up disputing.’


Lawyer blasts Australian law that would jail journalists reporting on spy leaks

This law does sound disturbing

Edward Snowden's lawyer has labelled as "draconian" and "chilling" Abbott government legislation before parliament that would threaten ASIO leakers with 10 years' imprisonment and make it an offence for journalists to report on information they receive from whistleblowers.

Lawyer Jesselyn Radack, who is travelling in Australia, told the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on Tuesday night that the laws being proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis went too far.

"That law is so draconian and would be so chilling in terms of freedom of the press," Ms Radack said. "It would criminalise a reporter talking to a source.

"It's the most draconian thing I've seen and it is completely antithetical to a free and open democratic society … I find it very disturbing that Australia's entertaining this kind of legislation and that there hasn't been a greater outcry, especially from the press."

The legislation makes it an offence if a person "discloses information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation" and does not state any exemptions, meaning it could apply to anyone including journalists, bloggers, lawyers and other members of the public. Those who disclosed such information would face tough new penalties of up to 10 years' jail.

Ms Radack said the new laws would essentially give ASIO immunity. "This particular proposed legislation is drafted so broadly that almost anything could be labelled a special intelligence operation … the definitions are so broad and vague as to make anyone subject to this."

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who also spoke at the Wheeler Centre, said the laws reminded him of his own trial and said that they would result in self-censorship.

"If this passes in its current form without huge changes, it is going to send a very chilling message," Mr Drake said. "It will create a climate in which people will self-censor. They will opt not to reveal anything. They will opt not to associate with certain individuals. They will opt not to share certain information just on the risk that it might be designated secret or it might be designated something that might reveal an intelligence operation. Well in that kind of an environment guess what? It has its intended effect."

Senator Brandis has previously said that the new offences were not aimed at journalists.  "It's not the purpose of this bill to place any constraints at all on freedom of discussion," he said.

"We are a government that believes very strongly in freedom of speech and freedom of the press."

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said if criminalising journalism was the effect of the new legislation, "the government will need to make changes to remove that consequence".

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously urged journalists not to report on national security matters that could endanger the country. Mr Abbott said news that "endangers the security of our country frankly shouldn't be fit to print".

"I'd ask for a sense of responsibility, a sense of national interest, as well as simply commercial interest," he said.


Stopping farmers from farming leads to bloodshed

This is ultimately traceable to Greenie-inspired land use restrictions

An elderly man accused of murdering an Environment and Heritage officer near Moree in north-western NSW has been refused bail.

Ian Robert Turnbull, 79, appeared in Moree Local Court on Wednesday charged with murdering father-of-two Glendon Turner, 51, of Tamworth, on Tuesday.

The court was told Mr Turnbull fired a number of shots at Mr Turner before a bullet struck the victim in the back, fatally injuring him.

Mr Turner had been serving a notice about 5.40pm on Tuesday near Talga Lane at Croppa Creek, relating to an inspection of a property after reports of illegal land clearing in the area.

His family said on Wednesday they would miss him greatly. Mr Turner, who was born near Port Macquarie, was married and had two children - Alexandra, 10, and Jack, 9.

"His passing comes at a time when his dreams of the farm and family, which he had planned and lovingly built together with Alison, were coming to fruition," a statement from the family said.

"Glen was an accomplished pianist, a gourmet enthusiast and cook, and appreciated a fine wine ... He always gravitated to the outdoor life and particularly loved taking his kids to the beach, whenever he returned to Port Macquarie - as well as enjoying his quiet time at home with the family and working together with Alison on their property."

Moree Plains Shire mayor Katrina Humphries said frustration over environmental issues around the Moree area had been so great in recent years that she had feared that it would erupt in violence, but that it "shouldn't get to this".

During the bail hearing, the court heard Mr Turnbull had been in a long running dispute with the Office of Environment and Heritage over illegal land clearing in the Croppa Creek area.

He was charged with illegally clearing native vegetation between November 2011 and January 2012 and pleaded guilty in the Land and Environment Court.

The prosecutor, the Director-General of the Office of Environment and Heritage, said Mr Turnbull used a bulldozer to clear 421 hectares of the property called "Colorado", owned by his son Grant Wesley Turnbull, and 73 hectares of the adjacent property, called "Strathdoon",  owned by his grandson Corey Ian Turnbull.

After contracts were exchanged but before the sales settled, Mr Turnbull and another unnamed man felled 2708 trees on Colorado and 694 trees on Strathdoon. Trees were pushed over and formed into piles and set alight. The family then raked out the ash heaps, ploughed the cleared land, applied herbicides to kill any emerging vegetation and sowed commercial crops of wheat and barley.

Mr Turnbull, who was arrested late on Tuesday night, appeared distraught and emotional when he was led into the dock on Wednesday.

Magistrate Darryl Pearce said there was an unacceptable risk that could not be mitigated by proposed bail conditions and the serious nature of the allegations meant imprisonment would be likely if Mr Turnbull was convicted.

Mr Turnbull will remain in custody until the case returns to court on August 5.


Strippers, brothels and 'skimpies' still part of doing business in Australia… and costing firms 'millions' in compensation payouts

A lawyer battling sexual harassment in the workplace has revealed how strippers and brothels have cost Australian companies millions.

Executives are being forced to cough up cash to female employees after using seedy corporate entertainment in scenes like something out of The Wolf Of Wall Street, lawyer Michael Harmer revealed.

Female employees are suing bosses for having to endure a culture where harassment and discrimination is commonplace.

Mr Harmer, known in court as The Undertaker, has blasted the employers he has so far bought cases against.

He claimed companies have paid from $1million to $3.5million in out of court settlements in sexual harassment cases to keep their reputations intact.

Harmer, who is responsible for bringing the largest sex discrimination claim in Australian history - Christina Rich v Pricewaterhouse-Coopers - said he 'objects' to the crude practices used in the legal, accounting, finance and property industries.

‘Where alcohol and the degradation of women is used as entertainment, you can get an overstepping of the mark by either other employees or clients,’ he told the Financial Review.

In the interview he described how he’d heard of a global chairman charging brothels to his corporate credit card.

In the landmark Christina Rich v Pricewaterhouse-Coopers case, Ms Rich received an out of court settlement in 2008 believed to be worth about $5million to $6million, plus legal costs, from the firm that she said was blighted with a 'boys' club' culture of harassment.

PwC has always denied the claims.

Mr Harmer's colleague Joydeep Hor, former managing partner of Harmers Workplace Lawyers, said at the time that many such cases were never revealed in public. 

'It's a shame the public, the employers don't see the case,' he said. 'Most of my clients are employers - they don't appreciate the significance of these issues until they have been burnt.'

Harmers Workplace Lawyers, which supplies psychological help for its clients, also previously acted for Kristy Fraser-Kirk.

The 25-year-old woman’s sexual harassment complaint against David Jones chief executive Mark McInnes triggered his shock resignation and a confession of ‘unbecoming’ conduct.

Her $37 million lawsuit against David Jones, its McInnes and nine directors of the retailer was settled for $850,000, including a 'smaller' contribution from Mr McInnes.

Meanwhile, Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick told the Financial Review how she had been contacted by concerned women who worked in the mining industry.

They were scheduled to attend the annual ‘Diggers and Dealers’ conference where a delegation of mining and exploration companies, brokers, bankers, gather in the unofficial gold capital of Australia, Kalgoorlie, WA.

In 2013 a West Australian mayor said mining towns across the state are trying to distance themselves from their association with topless barmaids.

However, he spoke to the ABC in the same week that a WA pub was fined after a 'skimpy' barmaid appeared completely naked.

In the Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, penny stockbrokers in the 1980s and 1990s are seen binging on women.

There is an orgy scene on the trading floor, amongst other outrageous incidents.


1 comment:

Paul said...

George Brandis is starting to worry me. between this, the 18C backdown and now his approach to Net "Piracy", he's starting to look like a Conroy continuation.