Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Insurers strangle battling Qld. regions

This is an old grumble with no easy solution.  The companies have to cover their risks and living in a Cyclone-prone region does have big risks.  The only solution is government action but there are already many big claims on the taxpayer

COSTLY insurance premiums are driving residents and businesses out of Townsville as the sky-high rates "slowly strangle" north Queensland, an economist says.

Natural disasters since Cyclone Larry in 2006 have resulted in north Queenslanders paying more than double the price for insurance compared to their southern counterparts. In north Queensland the inflated premiums meant more than $1 billion had been lost from the economy in the past decade and instead gone in the pockets of insurers, analysis by economist Colin Dwyer shows.

Mr Dwyer's research found north Queensland residents paid about $2200 more each year for insurance than people in southeast Queensland. "We estimate there are over 80,000 homes in the Townsville (local government area) and 12,000 registered businesses," he said. "If we were to extrapolate this over that decade, it becomes potentially greater than $1 billion that would have stayed in the local economy. "The confidence and wellness of the community would be in a much better position."

Mr Dwyer said high premiums meant people were not spending money growing the Townsville economy. Mr Dwyer called for a universal insurance cover, similar to Medicare, to be rolled out to equalise prices across the state.

Townsville businessman David Bowers said insurance costs drove developers and residents out of the region. "It is driving people and businesses out of north Queensland," he said. "Governments need to make a decision on whether they want people to live and work up here.

"It's a developing story but I'm hearing across the board businesses are aghast at the increases." Mr Bowers said cover for a 20-unit complex, for which he chairs the body corporate, had risen from $84,000 to $220,000 in one year. "Insurance is killing the north Queensland economy," he said_ "It's slowly strangling the region."

An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry last year found home and contents insurance in northern Australia rose by 130 per cent between 2007 and 2018, compared to 50 per cent in the rest of Australia.

In July the ACCC proposed a national insurance comparison website after its own inquiry found north Queensland residents paid "considerably higher premiums for home, contents and strata insurance".

"Consumers have been given little visibility into how insurers assess risks, set premiums, or why premiums in this region continue to rise," ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

From the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 8 December, 2019

Chef Ben Batterham is awarded $1 million in costs after he was found not guilty of killing an ice addict burglar he found in his daughter's bedroom

A Newcastle apprentice chef has been awarded costs related to his three-and-a-half-year fight to clear his name over the death of a drug-addled home invader.

Benjamin Batterham on Tuesday was awarded costs in the NSW Supreme Court after a judge criticised the director of public prosecution's decision to pursue a murder case against him.

Mr Batterham was in November acquitted over the March 2016 death of Ricky Slater who he found ransacking his daughter's bedroom at 3.15am.

He tackled Slater in the street, put him in a chokehold and repeatedly punched him in the head until police arrived.  Batterham told police: 'Give me two minutes with him. I'll kill the dog.'

However, a jury found him not guilty of murder and manslaughter after they accepted his argument he was acting to protect his home and family.

Mr Batterham's family was sleeping next door at his parents' house at the time of the incident.

Justice Desmond Fagan ruled that Mr Batterham be paid costs saying the charges should have been withdrawn on medical evidence.

The judge said the acted reasonably when he chased down Slater who was high on methamphetamine at the time.

Slater - who was found with three knives, cannabis and ice in his bag - died a day later after suffering three heart attacks.

He had scarring to his heart because of regular drug use, suffered liver disease and was obese, the court heard during the two-week trial.

The Crown had argued Mr Batterham 'caused or substantially contributed to the death of Ricky Slater by application of pressure to his neck and downward pressure on his upper body'.

But toxicologist and pharmacologist Dr Michael Kennedy gave evidence that Slater died due to the high level of methamphetamine in his system and his existing heart condition.

'If he hadn't been taking methamphetamine it's highly unlikely he would have died,' Dr Kennedy said during the trial.

Justice Fagan determined the charge should have been withdrawn upon receipt of Dr Kennedy's report of March 2019.

Mr Batterham acted 'lawfully and reasonably' in first calling police before chasing down and restraining Slater, the judge said.

'Having seen and heard the evidence of all the eyewitnesses it does not appear to me that the restraint applied by Mr Batterham was excessive, putting aside the blows he dealt to Ricky Slater while holding him down.

'Those blows may have gone beyond the force that was reasonably necessary to restrain Slater and to prevent escape. 'But it has been clearly shown by every medical opinion offered in the case that they played no part in causing death.'


Family, not climate, top of mind for tweens

Family issues weigh more heavily in the minds of Australians aged between 10 and 13 than big global concerns such as the environment, a new study shows.

The longitudinal study run by the Australian Institute of Family Studies ranked concern about families highest, followed by terrorism, the use of drugs and alcohol, and school-related issues.

"Many parents may be surprised to hear that young people worry most about their families in their 'tweens' and early teenage years, showing how important family relationships continue to be as children get older," AIFS director Anne Hollonds said.

"Our study found two-thirds of 10-11-year-olds were worried about a family member becoming seriously ill or injured, more than half were concerned about fighting in their family and nearly half were worried about their parents losing their job," she said.

"By the age of 12-13, the level of worry about family issues had declined but still remained a prominent concern for this age group, with more than half worrying about the health of family members and close to four out of 10 concerned about family fighting and parental job loss."

The Growing Up in Australia Longitudinal Study of Australian Children found about four in 10 children in these age groups were concerned about terrorism and war, and a third worried about the environment

"Concern about the environment remained fairly stable over time," report author and AIFS research fellow Suz-anne Vassallo said.

"The use of drugs and alcohol was also a concern for many children (44 per cent at 10-11 years), although this appeared to become less of an issue once they reached their teens (37 per cent at 12-13 years)." She said relatively fewer teens and tweens worried about how they looked and whether they fitted in with their friends.

From "The Australian" of 17 December, 2019

Prue MacSween is mocked for saying a small child burst into tears and was left 'traumatised' after seeing a female Santa with a beard at Westfield

Prue MacSween has come under fire for saying a young child was left traumatised after seeing a female Santa at a shopping centre in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

The media personality said the four-year-old boy burst into tears after realising the Santa was a woman while walking through Myer, at the Bondi Junction Westfield.

'Why are we traumatising little kids with this gender nonsense? Child abuse? You betcha,' MacSween wrote on Twitter.    

The response on social media was explosive, with most people critical of the controversial commentator's tweet.

Some were quick to point out that kids often cried without warning, offering hilarious situations of their own children becoming upset over nothing. 

'My five year old cried yesterday because I said she had to wait five minutes for the video I was watching to finish,' one person tweeted.

Others suggested the situation was fake, with Junkee editor Rob Stott claiming Myer didn't have a Santa in their Bondi Junction store this year.

It's understood the department store has a Mrs Claus who reads books to children, but there is no listing for a Santaland online.

Not everyone was against MacSween, with one person agreeing it would have been distressing for the child to see a woman with a fake beard.

'I have no problem with Mrs Clause sitting on the chair but with a full on beard!.... I remember grandma having a few hairs on her chin, but,' they wrote.

MacSween clarified her comments to the Daily Mail Australia. 'Now I appreciate that Mrs Claus has been a feature of Christmas for some time…but this little boy was expecting to see Santa – who has been depicted in mythology as a man,' she said.

'If it is going to lead to confusion, anxiety and the kind of response this little boy experienced, I think it is the responsibility of the stores to clearly identify the person in the red suit as Mrs Claus.'

She said likening the situation to child abuse may have taken it too far. 'Child abuse? Maybe extreme. But anything that leads to the situation, confusion and upset that this little boy experienced should be avoided.'

The media commentator is no stranger to controversy and has been in the media herself for a number of comments about other people.

This included calling Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a 'psychopath', referring to Greens MP Adam Bandt as a 'danger to the community' and Australian Tennis player Nick Kyrgios as a 'spoilt little Greek brat' who 'should have been slapped as a child'.

She was also investigated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority after saying Australia should re-consider tactics of the Stolen Generation- and reconsider taking at-risk Aboriginal children from their families.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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