Thursday, November 25, 2021

Regulator decided against cancelling the license of a tradesman guilty of sex assaults

The grub took advantage of women when he was in their house doing building work

Internal documents have revealed the real reason why the building regulator delayed taking action against a tradie who had pleaded guilty to multiple sexual assaults.

Queensland’s embattled building industry watchdog decided against immediately cancelling the licence of a convicted sex offender earlier this year because he was considered “unlikely’’ to break the law again.

Internal case file notes from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission seen by The Courier Mail also reveal that bureaucrats failed to get a copy of the judge’s sentencing remarks when making the decision.

Instead, they relied on the text of an ABC news article online which quoted the judge saying Townsville tradie William Emanuel Camilleri was not likely to reoffend.

Mr Camilleri pleaded guilty and was convicted in August of eight counts of sexual assault against five women while he was carrying out renovation work in their homes. He was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for three years.

The QBCC documents show the agency became aware of the charges against Mr Camilleri when they were first laid in May 2019.

“The QBCC immediately opened a fit and proper investigation but could not take any action as the Human Rights Act section 32(1) states person (sic) charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law,’’ the notes say.

That contradicts subsequent comments from the responsible minister, Mick de Brenni, who blamed two former senior licensing officers for failing to immediately revoke the license right after Camilleri was charged.

“On 11 August 2021 QBCC received verbal advice that Mr Camilleri had been convicted of sexual assault charges. We immediately commenced action, sending Mr Camilleri a Notice of Reasons for Proposed Cancellation or Suspension (NRPCS) of his license,’’ the notes say.

“The QBCC considered an immediate suspension at the time however it was determined that we cannot meet the legislated test for an immediate suspension that we reasonably believe there is a real likelihood that serious harm will occur to the parties identified in Section 49A.’’

The parties referred to in that section of the QBCC Act include consumers, as well as other licensees, employees and suppliers.

“The known offending occurred between 25 May 2016 and 27 March 2019, the QBCC has no evidence to suggest that any offending has occurred after 27 March 2019,’’ the notes say.

“In addition, while we do not have a copy of the sentencing remarks to consider the statement in full, the abc (sic) news article states ‘The judge said Camilleri had no criminal history and was unlikely to reoffend’.

“Based on the above we cannot meet the legislated test for an immediate suspension.’’

The notes indicate that Mr Camilleri’s solicitors contacted the QBCC and requested an extension of time to respond to the proposed licence cancellation or suspension. They were given until October 6.

When The Courier Mail revealed in late September that Camilleri remained able to work in the industry despite his conviction more than a month earlier, Mr de Brenni responded immediately that “regulatory action to cancel or suspend the license has been commenced and will be rigorously pursued’’.

It still took another two weeks after that comment for the QBCC to finally cancel the license.

Last week, Mr de Brenni announced an independent governance review of the QBCC which will be led by Jim Varghese, a former government department director-general and current Springfield City Group director.

That move followed months of damning claims of improper ministerial and board intervention into regulatory matters. Largely as result of this alleged interference, more than two dozen senior executive have resigned from the QBCC over the past two years.

“There is an awful management culture at QBCC,’’ one of these former executives said.

“They seem to have forgotten that the QBCC exists to protect the community and the honest builders and tradies. What’s worse is that when things do go wrong, they seem to either pretend not to see it or blame others to deflect personal accountability.”

Tim Mander, the shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works, said the case “proves the state’s building watchdog is an out-of-touch, rudderless mess’’.

“It beggars belief that the QBCC didn’t do its proper due diligence after such a serious offence was brought to light,’’ Mr Mander said.

“Camilleri’s offences weren’t ‘one off’ … he was convicted of serial sex offences. The risk to the community is too great for him to ever be considered a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a builder’s licence.

“Instead of checking with the courts, the QBCC did a Google search. This man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting women in their homes but the QBCC allowed him to continue operating due to a technicality and a Google search.

“The organisation has no genuine leadership and that starts with the Minister.’’

A spokesman for Mr de Brenni declined to comment on Tuesday.

A QBCC spokesman confirmed the licences for both Mr Camilleri and his building company were cancelled on October 7. But he would not elaborate on the decision-making process leading up to that point.

“The QBCC determined that he was not a fit and proper person to hold a contractor’s licence, having regard to his conviction for an indictable offence,’’ he said.


Fanatical warmist high school teacher allegedly berated students who wanted airconditioning turned on in 30C-plus heat

Schoolteachers are refusing to turn on classroom airconditioning, citing climate change as the reason to keep the kids sweating, a frustrated parent has claimed.

The father of a student at Corinda State High School in Brisbane’s west claims the teacher refused cool air relief to uncomfortable Year 9 pupils on November 4, saying she would consider turning it on if the temperature hit 40C.

The Courier-Mail has been told the aircon has remained off since that date, including days over 30C with extreme humidity

The parent claims the teacher berated the class about their lack of interest in climate change and called them “ignorant and selfish”. Corinda State High School has solar panels generating 266.6kW of power.

As the Queensland Government works towards completing its $447 million program to install airconditioners in all state schools by next June, the parent said teachers needed to be aware of what the Department of Education’s policy was on airconditioning, and needed to adhere to the policy regardless of any personal climate change beliefs.

“Several pupils spoke up to the teachers requesting aircon,” the parent said. “She advised the students she’d reconsider the request if the temperature reached 40C – a preposterous position by any reckoning.

“She didn’t appreciate the way the students were thinking about the issue of climate change and they should be grateful previous generations are doing things to prevent climate change.

“Her comments are unwarranted, abusive and harassing — contrary to her obligations under the fiduciary relationship which exists in her classroom.”

The parent claims the school has not responded to an email asking for an apology to the Year 9 students.

The use of airconditioning and its impact on the planet is a hot topic as the warmer it gets the more airconditioning is used.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said that the department is aware that an anonymous complaint email was received.

“To date, the anonymous complainant has not responded to the principal’s invitation to address their concerns,” she said.

“The school has diligently investigated these claims, however, none of the classroom students confirmed the allegations or expressed concerns regarding classroom temperatures or the teacher’s conduct.

“Teachers use airconditioning in their classrooms as needed to ensure that everyone in the classroom benefits from the best conditions for learning.”


Dan Andrews' government is slammed as lockdowns leave thousands in agony while they wait months for life-changing surgery

After years living with an aggressive form of endometriosis, Danielle Noon has spent the past six months waiting for life-changing surgery.

It took four years for her to be diagnosed with the condition which can cause painful periods, cramping, nausea, back and bowel pain.

Earlier this year she found out she had deep infiltrating endometriosis and was booked in for surgery. But Ms Noon will have to wait in agony for at least another six months.

Last week she was told her private hospital procedure, scheduled for mid-December, had been delayed due to surgery caps imposed by the Victorian government.

"I basically spent two days crying. I'm exhausted and this has completely broken my spirit," she told AAP. "I was literally counting down how many periods I'd have to go through until I could get surgery."

Her operation has been postponed until March or April 2022. She will soon enter her last year at university, with a busy few months of work placements ahead. "The thought of navigating all my placements next year, still in this amount of pain each month, seems unbearable," she said. "I honestly don't have the tools to be able to deal with a setback like this."

The surgery is needed to stop tissue growing, which could break through her bowel wall. Despite this, her procedure is considered non-urgent.

Ms Noon is one of thousands facing delays, after 18 months of changing COVID-19 restrictions led to significant wait lists. As of September 30, 67,000 Victorians were waiting for elective surgeries.

Two weeks ago the state government allowed hospitals to increase surgeries up to 50 per cent capacity, but health bodies say this is not enough.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons says government plans to gradually increase elective surgeries are "too slow" and risked running into Christmas, when many health workers will take holidays.

RACS has sent a proposal to the state's health department to support "rapid" change to the current system, calling for the 50 per cent cap to be removed.

"We believe that the current stabilisation of the COVID-19 situation with high vaccination rates, fall in the number of COVID-19 cases and a gradual reduction in hospital in-patient ICU cases presents an ideal window of opportunity for government to restore surgery to full capacity," president Sally Langley said.

It is calling for more transparency about how these decisions are made, and said many small private hospitals should be permitted to recommence surgery with no cap, since they do not form part of the COVID response.

Additionally, larger hospitals "have significant unused operative capacity" that could be used to address private and public sector wait lists.

The Australian Private Hospitals Association said anyone waiting for surgery at a private hospital is facing "long waits for some time to come".

APHA chief executive Lucy Cheetham said deferred procedures included total knee and hip replacements and cataract surgery, impacting a patient's ability "to move around or to see".

A Victorian government spokeswoman said it would "continue to adopt a staged approach" to increasing non-urgent surgeries.

"We always said we would increase our elective surgery capacity when we could and we'll have more to say soon on any further capacity increases," she said.


Morrison's religious discrimination bill could face High Court showdown as Victoria digs in

The Andrews government has vowed to fight attempts by the federal government to override state anti-discrimination laws, paving the way for a possible High Court stoush over religious rights.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to personally introduce his controversial Religious Discrimination Bill within days, to deliver on a pledge three years ago to protect religious freedom.

At the same time, the Victorian Parliament is debating equal opportunity law amendments that ban religious schools and other institutions from sacking or refusing to employ teachers because of their sexuality or gender identity or marital status.

The clash of the two bills, the latest battle in Australia's long-running culture wars, comes with both levels of government due for election next year.

On Wednesday, Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said while it was a "little unclear" what the Coalition's intentions were, she would not rule out any action - including a High Court challenge - to defend state laws.

She said she was waiting for legal advice before a decision about how to respond. "If there are any attempts to water down the Victorian laws, which aim to protect people in organisations from being discriminated against based on their sexuality, their marital status, etc, then I will be very firmly opposed to any measures that do that."

Rachel Colvin is a committed Christian who was effectively forced to resign from her job at Ballarat Christian College in 2019 after refusing to sign the school statement of faith that declared "marriage can only be between a male and a woman". Ms Colvin has a husband, Mark, and she has three children. She grew up in an evangelical Christian household and has been a missionary.

She had taught happily at the evangelical college since 2008 but in the wake of the marriage equality debate, the school sought to firm up its position on issues such as marriage and homosexuality.

"When I read this [the belief statement] I was immediately concerned. I knew that this didn't align with my Christian beliefs. I believe that God loves all of us," she said.

Ms Colvin offered to teach that the school had one view about marriage but there are other Christian views. "I was hoping we could agree to disagree."

But one morning she was called into a meeting and asked to resign. "It was such a devastating time for me. I truly loved my job. I loved the students. I worked with a great bunch of people."

After a long stand-off leaving Ms Colvin anxious and in poor health, she decided to leave the school as requested.

Under the Andrews government amendments to the Equal Opportunities Act, Ms Colvin would be better protected from discrimination. Under the Morrison bill, protections for people in Ms Colvin's position would be rolled back.

The revised federal bill includes a new provision to protect the right of religious schools to positively discriminate in their employment practices.

If passed, it would shield people who make a statement of belief as long as it is made in good faith, is in line with the teachings of their religion, is not malicious and does not vilify or harass.

In contrast, Victoria's proposal would leave religious schools in the state prohibited from sacking or refusing to employ teachers because of their sexuality or gender or marital status.

Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten said if the federal bill were to pass in any form that threatened to override Victoria's anti-discrimination laws, the state government should launch a High Court challenge.

"Were it to pass, it would sideline Victoria's anti-discrimination tribunal




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