Sunday, October 04, 2015

Union bosses ‘stole $2.4m from members’

Kathy Jackson and fellow former senior Health Service Union figures are “personally responsible” for misappropriating more than $2.4 million of members’ funds, say the senior barristers assisting the trade union royal commission.

They accuse its former star whistleblower of corruption and say a Federal Court ruling that Ms Jackson stole more than $1.4m from the HSU should be used as the basis of Com­missioner Dyson Heydon’s final report.

The submission to the commission does not recommend criminal charges be laid while a Victorian police taskforce investigation into the scandal is under way.

“This sorry history of mis­appropriation and deceit was facilitated by a culture then pervasive at the HSU, in which senior management operated with a sense of complete entitlement in respect of the use of members’ money and at the same time without being subject to proper control or super­vision,” it states.

It remains open to Commissioner Heydon to find that Ms Jackson, national secretary of the union until ­February, should be referred to the authorities to face further criminal and civil sanctions.

Former general secretary of the NSW branch Michael ­Williamson defrauded the HSU by providing fake invoices totalling $938,000, and Ms Jackson’s predecessor Craig Thomson, who was convicted of theft for misusing a union credit card, misappropriated $5600, the submission concludes.

Together, the officials “at the apex of the union” formed a “triumvirate of persons who were prepared to further their own personal interests and political ambitions at the expense of the members’’, the submission states, adding that a “failure of governance and transparency was at the heart of the scandal”.

“The picture … is deeply disturbing. It is of a union in disarray. It is of a union in which the predominant culture among senior management was of entitlement, not service.”

Counsel assisting the commission has come under fire for going “softly” on Ms Jackson, who took allegations of Mr Williamson’s wrongdoing to police.

“Katherine Jackson was instrumental in revealing Michael Williamson’s conduct to the public and to the prosecution,” the submission states. “However, her own activities as a union official have now also come to light.

“In substance … Jackson misused her position as a union official to further her own interests and political ambitions in a variety of ways and over a period of years, resulting in misapprop­riation from the HSU of in excess of $1.4m.”


Muslim terrorism mentioned as such in Australia

Police have released a photo of the 'admired' and 'gentle' father of two who was gunned down by a 15-year-old 'radicalised' youth Friday evening.

Curtis Cheng, 58, was leaving work at the police headquarters in Parramatta, Sydney, when he was shot in the back of the head by the Iranian-born youth.

The gunman responsible has been identified as Farad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, the ABC reported.

He had visited a mosque in the hours before the killing, which has been confirmed by the Prime Minister as an act of terrorism.

Police had searched the teen's North Parramatta family home and taken computer equipment, the ABC reported.

He was a student at Arthur Phillip High, a school less than half a kilometre from where the shootings took place, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

A source told the ABC the teen's weapon was a revolver and it did not seem he knew his victim.

Witnesses of the attack on Friday afternoon said after the killing, the teen paraded in front of the police station with his weapon chanting 'Allah, Allah', it was reported.

After exchanging gunfire with police officers, the teen was killed.

Mr Cheng, a father of two and accountant for the police, was remembered as a 'wonderful' man, loved by family, friends and colleagues.

In a press conference with New South Wales premiere Mike Baird, Police commissioner Andrew Scipione said the police force was in mourning.

NSW premier Mike Baird said it was an 'unthinkable act' that ended his life.  'I want the family of Curtis and the members of his Police community to know that you don't face this loss alone. We mourn with you and we are here for you.'

The police commissioner confirmed the teen's actions were 'politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism'.

En route to the killing the youth, originally from Iran, had visited Parramatta Mosque, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The killer, who had an Iraqi and Kurdish background, carried no identification and it was believed his brother contacted police with his identity, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The gunman, at present believed to have been acting alone, shot Mr Cheng at close range outside the Parramatta police headquarters in a targeted attack on Friday, which has been described as a 'brutal' and 'callous murder'.

The assailant, dressed all in black, fired a number of shots at special constables guarding the NSW Police station in Sydney, before he was gunned down and killed by one of the officers.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said Mr Cheng was 'simply leaving work' when he was shot in the back of the head by the gunman who was wearing 'dark trousers and a flowing top'.

'A number of special constables came out of the building and as they've emerged they've come under fire.

'In the exchange that followed the gunman was shot and killed. An employee of the NSW police force has been callously murdered here today. This is a very sobering time for us.'

Police believe the gunman was not working with anyone else, but have not ruled out the possibility there may be others involved.


American woman says a favorite Australian sandwich spread is racist because it is black!

One would normally think this is a spoof but it could be for real in the context of all the things that are said to be racist these days.  Vegemite and similar products are popular in Australia, Britain and some other English-speaking countries but Americans usually find it unpleasant.  Like most Australians, I always have some in my fridge -- JR

A bizarre online rant that claims "Vegemite is racist because its black" has gone viral.

Cassidy Boon, 20, aired her controversial anti-yeast spread views on YouTube as she launched a #banvegemite campaign. She said: "Eating Vegemite is racist towards Aboriginals - because it is black.  "If you eat Vegemite, you’re literally what’s wrong with the world."

"Ever since the 1950s - or whatever - Vegemite has been a way to symbolically make white Australians feel superior to Aboriginals by literally eating their f*****g skin in a jar.

The American adds that she spent seven years living in Australia during which she felt "ashamed of all of you".


The video is here.  She basically doesn't know anything about Australia, and is probably pretty dim generally.  Her use of profanity does not suggest much intellectual depth.

PC has become pandemic at universities

Peter Kurti

Universities used to challenge conventional ideas. But today they have become bastions of political correctness where the fragile sensitivities of students are cuddled and protected from emotional and psychological maladies.

Now US social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and academic freedom advocate Greg Lukianoff have warned that restricting free circulation of thought actually endangers students' mental health.

Vindictive protectiveness prepares students poorly for professional life and can even engender patterns of thought similar to those that cause depression and anxiety, Haidt and Lukianoff say. The therapy of 'political correctness' may only make things worse.

When political correctness, or PC, emerged in universities in the late 1980s, it was motivated by a desire to eradicate discrimination. But PC has morphed into a different beast. Twenty-first century PC is concerned with emotional well-being.

On campus, PC presumes an extraordinary fragility of the student psyche and aims to protect the eggshell sensitivities of students from psychological harm. That's why there are calls to control what can be taught, what can be encountered, and what can be experienced on campus.

And that's why many students also require their professors to issue 'trigger warnings' before covering any topics which may invoke negative feelings - such as when studying the crime of rape.

So here's a trigger warning about upcoming medical themes: the arteries of learning on our universities have become sclerotic and clogged with the plaques of PC which stifle debate. Excessive PC irradiation zapped in Australian universities is killing free speech in the name of protecting the vulnerable.

When today's students enter the workplace they will need qualities of strength, resilience, confidence and compassion to address the challenges our country faces. Instead, Australian students are being failed by universities trying to protect them from things they will inevitably encounter later.

Attempting to force the world to conform to your desires is never going to be the way to achieve happiness or success. It's time to remove the strictures of political correctness, to free up the minds of Australian students, and to help equip them with the skills to master their desires, fears, and habits of thought.  


New Zealand doesn't want its criminals back

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has warned that Australia risks straining the trans-Tasman "special relationship" by deporting Kiwi-born criminals under tough new immigration rules.

Hundreds of New Zealanders are being held in migration centres awaiting deportation under new rules that say foreign nationals should be sent home if they have served a jail term of 12 months or more.

With some 650,000 New Zealanders living in Australia, there are concerns the numbers could rise steeply and that many people are being unfairly targeted.

The issue has been brought into focus by the suicide of Junior Togatuki, a 23-year old who had served time for armed robbery and assault, in an Australian prison this month.

Togatuki, who had mental health issues, moved to Australia when he was four and was awaiting deportation after completing a seven-year jail term when he killed himself.

Key said he was concerned about New Zealanders being sent to detention centres, including remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and had raised the issue with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

"I was pretty blunt and I said there's a special relationship between New Zealand and Australia and you challenge that relationship to a degree when you see New Zealanders being treated in this way," he told Radio New Zealand.

The reason so many New Zealanders live in Australia is that both countries offer each other automatic residency rights, with many Kiwis making the trip to take advantage of Australia's strong economy.

However, they remain New Zealand citizens even though Key said some of those being deported had no ties to the land of their birth.

"They've often spent their entire life in Australia and went over there when they were very, very young," he said.

"It's like the Australians are saying 'we're going to pick and choose, we'll keep the ones we like but send back the ones we don't like'.

"Well... you have to take the rough with the smooth."

The New Zealand Herald said in an editorial that it was Australia's right to pursue a draconian deportation policy but it made no sense applying it to people who had served sentences for relatively minor offences.

"Placing someone in that situation simply because they have been convicted of, say, shoplifting, smacks of overkill," it said.


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