Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Pig's head left near University of Western Australia mosque

No reflection heard on how this compares with the chopping off of human heads that Muslims do regularly

A Muslim student has described the "frightening" experience of finding a pig's head near a mosque at a Western Australian university just before his traditional midday prayer.

University of WA PhD candidate Majdi Fal was working in his office on Sunday morning before taking a lunchtime break, he told Radio 6PR on Monday.

He then went to complete his regular prayers around 12.40pm and stopped at the bathroom first.
The University of Western Australia's Perth campus.

The University of Western Australia's Perth campus. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij

He had taken off his glasses, so when he first saw stains on the floor he thought they might be dirt. He then realised they were blood, and thought for a moment it was human blood.

Then, inside the traditional Turkish toilet, he saw the pig's head, surrounded by more dried blood.

Mr Fal said it was a "frightening" experience and he believed it to be a message to Islam as a minority group.

He said the toilet was in a central location and well used by all kinds of students, but was clearly the closest toilet to the prayer room.

He said though similar incidents had happened in Perth before, he thought for this to happen at a university was "alarming", given UWA was a place of education and diversity, with many minority groups co-existing peacefully.

Mr Fal, who has lived around the world before coming to Australia and never before personally encountered prejudice, said he hoped people could learn to ask more questions and talk about their beliefs and concerns.

We come to a university to seek knowledge and understand others," he said. "We need commonality, rather than difference."

He said he was confident investigators would do their best to find the perpetrator.

The incident prompted an immediate social media response in response to Mr Fal's Facebook post saying he believed tensions in the community were "escalating".

In a statement, the UWA Guild condemned the incident and said it was investigating the "unprecedented display of Islamophobia".

"Acts like this are designed only to incite religious and racial hatred," it said.

A UWA spokesman said university management was saddened by the "deplorable act".

"It is concerning that people using the UWA Muslim prayer room have been targeted this way," he said.

"The matter has been reported to police. We would like to reinforce that UWA strives to support a culturally inclusive and tolerant campus community and the University will offer help and support to our Muslim students at this time."

WA Police spokeswoman Susan Usher noted that the incident was in a public toilet and cautioned against leaping to conclusions.

She said police were making inquiries and until they had more facts, could not confirm the motivation behind the incident.

On Saturday night, a joint Muslim-Christian meeting was held in Perth to discuss "tough issues" facing both societies.

It was the second such meeting in recent weeks, with representatives of various faiths also coming together for a Perth prayer vigil in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris.


Joe Hockey the new 'face of Australia' in Washington

An excellent choice

The Labor opposition says an admission by new US Ambassador Joe Hockey that if he stayed in Parliament he would try to get even with his political enemies is extraordinary given he will be serving the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was responsible for his removal as Treasurer.

Former Treasurer Joe Hockey was officially appointed to the Washington post on Tuesday as an interview emerged where he admitted he would have been too focused on taking down his adversaries if he stayed in federal politics.

His widely expected appointment will see him take over from Ambassador Kim Beazley in January.

In the interview Mr Hockey told Celebrity Apprentice host Mark Bouris that staying in Parliament would not have been good for his family or in the national interest as it would be too focused on settling scores.

"If I was going to stay it'd be overwhelmingly about getting even with people that brought me down. I love my country and my family more than I hate my enemies," he said.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, said this was a worry considering how important the posting was to Australia and raised questions over the future relationship between Mr Hockey and the Turnbull government.

"It is an extraordinary admission … What is even more extraordinary about it is the former adversaries he is talking about are the PM and the Foreign Minister, the very people he will be having to report to as ambassador to Washington," she said.

Mr Hockey, who was at the DFAT offices in Canberra on Tuesday, predicted in the same interview he had a four years worth of public service left and politics had defeated him.

"I still have three or four years of desire to contribute to the country in one form or another, It's just the politics at the end of the day beat me," he said.

Despite appointing Scott Morrison to replace him as Treasurer in the September leadership spill, Mr Turnbull said Mr Hockey was "a passionate patriot" and the "most engaging, persuasive people I've known in public life".

Mr Hockey's resignation from politics in September triggered the second federal byelection this year. The Liberals retain the seat despite a sharp swing against them over the weekend, with candidate Trent Zimmerman elected as the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives.

Mr Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop thanked former Labor leader Kim Beazley for his service.

"Joe will be as Kim has been the face of Australia to Washington, to the most powerful Government in the world, the face of Australia will be Joe Hockey," Mr Turnbull said.


Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan slams Queensland police in brutality case on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast cops again.  Their behaviour is so extraordinary that some at least of them must be high on drugs

CONTROVERSIAL magistrate Bernadette Callaghan has launched an extraordinary attack on police, accusing officers of brutally assaulting a man who had been charged with assaulting them.

Ms Callaghan, who has come under fire from police for perceived “soft touch” sentences, lashed out at officers involved in the arrest of Gold Coast construction worker Kristian Puru this year.

Mr Puru, 19, was celebrating a family birthday in the early hours of February 22 in Surfers Paradise when he was involved in an altercation that saw him charged with two counts of assaulting or obstructing police and one of public nuisance.

Mr Puru, who said he thought he was going to die that night, claimed he was a victim of police brutality in his arrest in a complaint that made its way to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

In Southport Magistrates Court yesterday, prosecutors offered no evidence against Mr Puru, whose lawyer Kris Jahnke of Guest Lawyers then argued police should have to pay his client’s legal bill.

After watching CCTV footage of the incident, Ms Callaghan agreed, launching a stinging attack on the officers’ conduct and ordering police to pay $1500.

Ms Callaghan said the video footage showed no evidence to support allegations that Mr Puru had punched an officer in the face, causing him to fall to the ground.

The court was also told mobile phone camera footage of the incident taken by one of Mr Puru’s relatives was seized and deleted.

“What is the world coming to with police officers behaving like this?” she asked.  “One would expect police officers to tell the truth.

“Not only does this man not assault police, in fact the video shows Mr Puru is the one assaulted by police.”

Mr Jahnke called the conduct of officers involved “deplorable”.

“We always thought the prosecution case was without merit from its inception and the result is indicative of that,” he said.

“There were claims made by police that when you watch the CCTV footage you can see were just blatantly untrue.”

Mr Puru said he was relieved to put the matter behind him. “Today was a good day,” he said.

Mr Puru has already commenced civil action against the Queensland Police Service.


Australia Post blasted on Facebook over Christmas delivery failures

My son lost out on a share-market offer because his cheque did not arrive on time

Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour is the federal government's highest-paid chief executive but complaints about the postal service continue to mount.

Australia Post is copping angry abuse from small business owners before Christmas over slow postal delivery times.

While Australia Post's own website puts estimated letter delivery times at between one and four days, growing numbers of businesses are taking to Facebook to vent about letters taking weeks to arrive, or not arriving at all.

Sydney entrepreneur Oscar de Vries runs subscription razor business Oscar Razor which turns over $1 million a year. Packs are light enough to send via letter post, which is cheaper for customers. But it's taking up to two weeks to arrive at their intended destination, and his regular customers are complaining.

He's noticed a dramatic decline in service times from Sydney to Canberra taking a week, Newcastle nine days, Trinity (near Cairns) taking 12 days and the Gold Coast 14 days. 

"We're having to express-mail replacements to customers. Unlike Australia Post, we stand or fall with our customer service."

Paul Davies, director of Sydney life insurance firm Jarickson, has lost count of the number of times letters go missing. "We require original signatures from people for life insurance policies, which means posting out paperwork with reply-paid envelopes included," he explains.

"We sent out the same letter to a client in North Queensland three separate times, and none of them arrived. The fourth time, we paid to have it posted express, and it arrived. The first letter was returned to us and the delivery address was right, so we're not sure why it was returned. It's a common problem."

Community Service Obligation

Australia Post says it has a Community Service Obligation (CSO) to deliver 94 per cent of letters on time, or early.

"While we certainly see increased volumes across our network at Christmas time, we don't expect any delays to letter delivery, and we continue to meet our CSOs. Our first quarter YTD service performance is currently 94.5 per cent," communications manager Michelle Skehan says.

Australia Post recently has hired an additional 55 customer service employees in the Australia Post Customer Contact Centre. It has also hired an additional 100 call-centre staff to help keep the lines of communication open with customers, Skehan says.

However, a disgruntled customer posted on Australia Post's company Facebook page that his daughter recently waited to speak to a customer service representative for 50 minutes, with no answer.

"Now, that's a great way to get rid of troublesome customers – just don't answer the phone," David Moodie posted.

Mitchell Ryan posted on the company Facebook page: "It looks like you've got a pretty bad reputation, just scrolling through looking at the feedback on your site. You make your customer service channels such a nightmare to use, it's no wonder people are so dissatisfied, and everyone is looking for alternative services."
First company-wide loss

Australia Post reported its first company-wide financial loss last financial year. It will offer 1900 voluntary redundancies over the next three years from metropolitan centres.

To rub salt into the wound, company chief executive Ahmed Fahour​ is the federal government's best paid employee, pocketing nearly $4.8 million in the year to June 2013, which compares to the Prime Minister's $507,000 pay packet.

De Vries has lodged complaints over delivery times with Australia Post, to no avail. "There's a 100 per cent guarantee that the CEO of Australia Post will get his hefty payslip every week, yet we and our customers have no guarantee that they will receive their order within the time frames Australia Post stipulates on its own website.

"It's utterly soul-destroying as a small business to be at the mercy of a monopoly that has such scant regard or consideration for its customers," he says.

Reputations suffering

De Vries fears his company's professional reputation is suffering as a result. "Frankly, if Australia Post continues like this, we might have to shelve our subscription-based business."

Davies agrees. He has adopted digital signature software in a bid to avoid Australia Post altogether.  "It's a massive inconvenience for mail not to arrive, not to mention the potential loss of business. We don't even bother complaining [to Australia Post] any more because you never get a response anyway."

Australia Post says Christmas places huge pressure on businesses and their customers.  "Christmas is definitely the busiest time of year at Australia Post, and this year we expect to deliver a record 1.3 million parcels each day this month powered by online shopping. We are also processing around 1 million letters each business day.

"We advise our customers to remind their customers to get their orders in early. If people are leaving orders to the last minute, we recommend using our Express post service."


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