Friday, November 15, 2013


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is suspicious of Kevvy's motives for resigning

Health bureaucrats to be paid just for showing up to work

As the federal public service plans mass redundancies, one government department is preparing to pay hundreds of bureaucrats up to $130,000 a year "just for showing up''.

Health Department insiders warn that its new "Business Services Centre" will be a place to park up to 200 Canberra-based officials who have lost their jobs.

They have been told their jobs are "unfunded," instructed not to use the word "excess" and that they will move to the new Business Services Centre from December 1 with no idea what their duties will be or even if there is work for them to do.

In internal documents, obtained by Fairfax Media, the departmental hierarchy says the BSC is meant to undertake tasks in the future for other divisions of the cash-strapped department, but could not point to one project assigned to the unit.

Many of the public servants, who find themselves still employed by the government but with no jobs to do, are executives earning up to $130,000 a year.

One departmental insider said the workers and managers would be parked in the new division applying for jobs in the Health Department and the broader public service while waiting for a project to work on.

The Health Department refused to answer questions about the new unit and departmental chief Jane Halton has declined to be interviewed on the job losses.

In response to questions, a departmental spokeswoman continued to deny there was a "spill and fill" process under way.

Several workers have described the process where some of the department's divisions forced staff on the pay scales between Australian Public Service 5 and Executive Level 2 to submit "expressions of interests" in keeping their jobs.

"If they are not successful, then they will be placed in a Business Services Centre," one public servant said.  "Basically, it's a place for people to be sent, while waiting to be picked up for any vacancies within DoH or other APS agencies.

"While they are waiting here, whether they are assigned to a project or not, they continue to get paid their usual salary, just for showing up to work."

According to internal Health documents, the BSC might be called on to undertake jobs for other divisions that were "unfunded".


Fred Nile wins one: Same-sex marriage bill defeated in NSW upper house

I like Fred.  He is very impressive when you meet him personally

The upper house of the NSW Parliament has narrowly voted down a bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

Despite initial hopes the upper house would pass the legislation, MPs voted against it by 21 votes to 19 in the Legislative Council on Thursday afternoon.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich, a member of the cross-party working group who devised the bill, said he took heart from the closeness of the vote.

Mr Greenwich, who is the member for Sydney in the lower house and therefore did not participate in the vote, said it was the first time Coalition MPs had voted in favour of a same sex marriage bill in Australia.

Liberals Catherine Cusack and Greg Pearce and Nationals Sarah Mitchell and Trevor Khan supported the bill.

"It's shown the effectiveness of cross-party co-operation," Mr Greenwich said.

However, Christian Democratic Party MP the Reverend Fred Nile, who campaigned against the legislation, said the outcome was "a great victory for marriage in the NSW upper house".

Mr Nile said he believed a decisive factor in the bill's defeat was Premier Barry O'Farrell's announcement that he would vote against the bill if it came before the lower house.

Mr O'Farrell revealed his support for same-sex marriage a day after New Zealand's parliament voted to change its national laws in April.  But in a statement released the night before the bill's introduction to the upper house last month, Mr O'Farrell said that while he was a supporter of marriage equality, he would not support the NSW legislation.

He argued that "only change enacted by the Federal Parliament can deliver true equality in our marriage laws".

After Thursday's vote, Mr Nile revealed he had urged Mr O'Farrell to make the statement.  "It certainly had an effect on some Coalition members and that was the reason I asked him to issue the statement," he said.

"It was important for the Premier to make a stand, indicate where he stood on this issue. He was a bit reluctant, but he finally agreed to make that public statement. And it did have the effect I was hoping it would have on some of the wavering members of the Coalition."

The Liberal MP for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith, another cross-party group member in the lower house, said a key consideration for many MPs was the prospect of change in the federal Parliament.

"Many members gave their reason for not voting in the upper house as [their belief] that marriage is a federal matter," he said.

"I think there's also a feeling among members that there will be movement at a federal level. They feel the tide is turning in their favour."


Abbott to the rescue

Andrew Bolt

I thought Tony Abbott was supposed to be bad at diplomacy:
A SECRET meeting in the Middle East between Tony Abbott and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, preceded this week’s stunning legal reversal of the bribery case against Australian businessmen Matthew Joyce and Marcus Lee.

    The Australian can reveal that the Prime Minister met Sheik Mohammed, the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in Abu Dhabi on October 30 on the way back from Mr Abbott’s visit to Australian troops in Afghanistan. The meeting was not announced.

    During their discussions Mr Abbott urged the UAE government to reconsider the high-profile case against the two Australians. Sheik Mohammed is understood to have told the Prime Minister he was aware that the case was of significant concern to Australia and that the UAE justice system was aware of the circumstances surrounding it.

    Mr Abbott’s personal intervention follows comments he made as opposition leader in May when he said the sentence against Mr Joyce was harsh and that the then Labor government should be doing everything it could to help the two men…

    A spokesman for the Prime Minister declined to comment.

Fairfax missed the Abbott angle in its own report on this “surprise” verdict.


Thomas Kelly death: NSW DPP to appeal 'manifestly inadequate' sentence handed to Kieran Loveridge

The Director of Public Prosecutions will appeal against the four-year sentence handed to the man responsible for the death of Sydney teenager Thomas Kelly.

In a statement, DPP Lloyd Babb, SC said the appeal was on the grounds that the sentence handed to Kieran Loveridge was manifestly inadequate.

The 19-year-old randomly punched Mr Kelly in the head in July last year as he walked with his girlfriend at Kings Cross.  Mr Kelly, 18, was knocked to the ground unconscious and he died from head injuries in St Vincent's Hospital two days later.

Loveridge was last week jailed for at least four years for manslaughter, with a maximum of six years.  He will be eligible for parole in November 2017.  Manslaughter carries a maximum 25-year term in NSW and there was public outcry over the sentence.

Thomas Kelly's parents Ralph and Kathy were completely shocked when the sentence was handed down.  "We have spent the last hour in court listening to the verdict, which supports the offender and leaves us as the victim's family completely cold, shocked, and just beyond belief that the sentence was just so lenient," Mr Kelly said outside court.

"It's time that this state, that (Premier) Barry O'Farrell, finally did something about alcohol-fuelled violence to make a difference, to make us all safe so that we don't have to see these situations continuously happening in the city."

The New South Wales Government has responded, confirming it will introduce so-called "one-punch" laws to cover situations where an unlawful assault causes death.

Attorney-General Greg Smith said he was drafting a bill based on similar legislation in Western Australia, which he hopes to introduce next year.

But he said the NSW legislation will double the maximum penalty available.  "The laws I'm proposing for NSW will carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment," he said.

"The new offence and proposed penalty will send the strongest message to violent and drunken thugs that assaulting people is not a rite of passage on a boozy night."


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