Tuesday, April 11, 2023

A public trustee Piranha again

They fund themselves by seizing money meant for the poor and disabled

Left without food, and only allowed access to a sliver of her disability pension, Rachael* describes her short stint under the care of a self-funding, independently operated government institution as a nightmare.

We can't tell you her real name, where she lives, what her job is or what her hobbies are. And we definitely can't show you her face.

It all began with a severe bout of mental illness, when a doctor raised concerns about Rachael's ability to make decisions and care for herself.

She was referred to the State Administrative Tribunal where, against her will, it was decided the state would take control of her finances.

The WA Public Trustee was appointed Rachael's administrator, which meant it had absolute control of her money and, through that, control of her life.

The Public Trustee did not make any contact for three weeks after it took control.

Rachael couldn't access her disability pension to pay for necessities, including food, because she was blocked from accessing her bank account after the administration took place.

She had to beg for access to her money via email after unsuccessfully trying to call the Public Trustee's office.

Her anonymous trust manager wrote back with a one-sentence response the next day.

"I can confirm that your [redacted] account that your pension was being paid into is now unblocked and $200 has been forwarded to that account for your use."

Rachael wonders why it took weeks for the Public Trustee to make sure she could afford to feed herself.

"Instead of coming out [of] hospital and trying to recover … I was getting a lot of stress by dealing with this stuff," she said.

"They didn't listen. They put me on, and since it started, it was such a nightmare."

The Public Trustee has previously denied responsibility for any instances where clients were unable to access money, and pointed the blame at banks for failing to understand administration orders.

Behind a veil of secrecy+

Rachael successfully removed the Public Trustee as her administrator by proving to the State Administrative Tribunal that she was capable of making her own decisions.

She wants to speak out about her short stint – only four months – under the Public Trustee's control.

But confidentiality laws mean it's illegal to publicise her identity, and similar restrictions are in place in most states across the country.

Under WA's Guardianship and Administration Act, identifying Rachael is a criminal offence with a potential penalty of one year's imprisonment, or a fine of up to $10,000.

It means even though Rachael wants to share her story, and she's no longer under the Public Trustee's control, we can't show her face.

The rules exist to protect vulnerable people from being exploited, but there have been calls in other states to repeal gag laws following a Four Corners investigation in 2022.

"Enabling people to talk about their own guardianship experiences outweighs the protective benefit of retaining the restriction," Queensland Public Advocate John Chesterman said last year.

The Public Trustee manages the assets of some of the community's most vulnerable people in their "best interest".

However, it relies on its clients — who are often deemed incapable of making their own decisions — to scrutinise their own affairs.

In Rachael's case, she was pressured to stop paying for security cameras and alarms at her home due to her limited income.

All the while, the trustee was using her money to pay for insurance she already had.

Just as she was only given access to her money for food after persisting, she was only refunded the cost of the unnecessary insurance after making a complaint.

It mirrors the experience of many who have negative experiences with the Public Trustee, according to WA Auditor-General Caroline Spencer.


Cancelled: Catholic intellectual group banned for transgender views

A Catholic intellectual group has been banned from holding its annual forum at a university hall over concerns about its views on transgender issues.

The Hobart-based Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies has for the past seven years held its annual “colloquium” at the University of Tasmania’s Jane Franklin Hall of residence.

It was booked again for the eighth such event, to be held in July this year, but the Hall has since withdrawn the booking out of concern about an advertisement for the event titled “Wokery and How to Deal With It”.

The advert included the claim that “elites” were undermining “objective truth” by teaching in schools that “girls can be boys, that boys can be girls, and that grown-ups should be punished for denying it”.

Jane Franklin Hall principal Joanna Rosewell confirmed and defended the cancellation, understood to follow a complaint about the ad.

“We have asked the Christopher Dawson Centre to find an alternative venue for its annual colloquium, usually held here, as the ideas expressed in the advertisement do not align with our values,” Ms Rosewell told The Australian. “We work with a diverse number of students including those from the transgender community. Our first goal at Jane is and must be supporting the wellbeing of our students.”

Christopher Dawson Centre director David Daintree, a former principal of the Hall for 18 years, said he was “shocked” and “disappointed” by the decision, which he labelled “repression”.

He conceded the ad may have offended some transgender people, but argued transgender people did not need the silencing of views that conflicted with their own.

“If you state something you believe that other people do not believe, you are in danger of offending them,” Dr Daintree said. “I believe in objective truth and one side is wrong when you talk about transitioning to another sex.

“I don’t feel I should apologise for expressing an opinion and that’s all we are doing in this call for papers (for the colloquium). If we had received papers that violently disagreed with that proposition then we would have included them if appropriate.”

Dr Daintree said the centre was set up and funded by the Hobart Catholic Archdiocese but was independently run. “Our brief is to justify and to make better known the Christian intellectual tradition,” he said.

“We’re not in the business of evangelising. We are in the business of saying, it’s a reasonable thing to be a Christian and that plenty of intelligent and thoughtful people have been and that faith and science are not incompatible.”

He was yet to find an alternative venue willing to host the event, which he believed could attract demonstrators. Transgender issues were not intended to be the “central core” of the colloquium. “That was just an instance I gave in the call for papers about the perception of truth but this is shaping up to be a very controversial one,” he said.

The University of Tasmania declined to comment on the cancellation, insisting the Hall was “independent of the university”.


Twiggy Forrest, Chris Bowen caught in green hydrogen fantasy

Green hydrogen is to renewable energy enthusiasts what gold was to ancient alchemists: the universal panacea that frees the human soul from disease and corruptibility and transports it to a perfect and everlasting state. They believe it holds the key to turning dilute, fickle sources of energy, such as solar and wind, into something vaguely useful.

That is the view of Andrew Forrest, a miner turned born-again renewable energy entrepreneur. Forrest’s company, Squadron Energy, is Australia’s biggest player in weather-dependent renewable energy. He is on record as predicting that renewables could squeeze coal out of the market by the end of the decade. But the real breakthrough will come with the development of green hydrogen, which, he claims, is Australia’s greatest resource.

“To make it, all you need to do is run electricity through water,” he told a Clean Energy Council summit in 2021. Water is the easy part. Generating the eye-watering quantity of electricity needed is a more formidable challenge.

Let’s assume global demand for hydrogen reaches 300Mt by 2050 and that the green energy superpower Australia is going to become produces one-15th of that total, as an influential Deloitte report suggests is possible. That would require about 900TW of electricity, which is roughly 3½ times Australia’s current annual output. The absurdity of the numbers sends green hydrogen into dreamy land even before we confront Forrest’s insistence that we do it with two hands tied behind our back.

For Forrest, the only genuinely green electricity is generated by weather-dependent renewable energy. The Minerals Council canvasses carbon capture and storage as an option but Forrest reckons that would be cheating.

Yet no amount of Forrest’s spin can overcome the iron law of energy density. Coal requires 25 square metres to generate a megawatt of electricity. A modern small modular nuclear reactor requires less than one square metre. A wind turbine plant typically requires more than 2000 square metres per megawatt, which means that even in a country as vast as Australia, the supply of available land is quickly exhausted.

In Queensland, where Squadron Energy is investing billions of dollars, wind and solar developments are being pushed beyond the boundaries of farmland into native scrub. In a rational world, Apple’s announcement last week that it was pulling out of a deal to purchase energy from Squadron’s proposed wind plant in the Upper Burdekin would be the beginning of the end for unreliable renewables.

An environmental assessment, released in December, found that 769 hectares of koala habit would be destroyed if the development goes ahead. It would involve the clearance of 662ha of Sharman’s rock wallaby habitat, 709ha of greater glider habitat and 754ha of habit that provides sanctuary for the red goshawk.

That a wind turbine development should even be considered on such a sensitive site shows how desperate the sector has become. Pushing renewables in such far-flung territory adds considerably to the cost. It requires wide roads to be cut through hillsides and the bulldozing of native tree, plus extra transmission lines.

The sheer weight of minerals needed for the construction of wind and solar plants brings other challenges, as Siemens Energy chief executive Christian Bruch acknowledged. “Never forget, renewables like wind roughly need 10 times the material (compared to) what conventional technologies need,” he said. “If you have problems on the supply chain, it hits wind extremely hard.”

Squadron’s Upper Burdekin development was already looking less profitable after it was forced to reduce the number of turbines from 139 to 80. Add to that the opprobrium foisted upon it by Apple’s withdrawal and the project looks to be in trouble. The kind of hydrogen Forrest is proposing is only green in the sense that it is technologically unripe.

Current international demand is so low as to be effectively non-existent compared to our exports of natural gas and coal. If international demand starts to accelerate, what’s to stop others cornering the market? The competitive advantage will belong to the jurisdiction with the cheapest electricity, and that’s not going to be Australia.

It’s little wonder that many with an eye on the capital markets are wondering if green hydrogen will ever get off the ground. In February, a meeting of federal, state and territory industry ministers called for the 2019 green hydrogen strategy to be “revised and refreshed” in the light of international developments.

President Joe Biden’s absurdly misnamed Inflation Reduction Act offers $US580bn of incentives for green innovation. Guy Debelle, a former Reserve Bank deputy governor, warned that Australia is at risk of being left behind by countries with generous subsidies, lower renewable energy costs and closer access to major industrial markets. He said the government would have to devote at least $15bn in public funds to counter a global hydrogen “subsidy arms race”.

A head somewhat cooler than the one sitting on the shoulders of the federal Energy Minister might conclude that this isn’t a fight Australia needs to be in. It would be better to focus our attention on the green economy games we can win; lithium, for example, where we are the world’s largest exporter; rare earths, where we’re the world’s second-largest producer; or cobalt, where we rank third.

Arriving at that conclusion, however, requires clear strategic thinking, indifferent to headlines and uncontaminated by hype. Policy formation in the 24-hour media cycle rarely happens that way


Melbourne principal says schools struggling to combat vaping as minister blasts ‘public health menace’

The principal of a Melbourne secondary school says students addicted to nicotine vaping have trouble with their concentration and behaviour. Photograph: Nicholas.T Ansell/PA
Aschool principal at a major Melbourne high school has spoken of the significant resources being allocated to combat vaping, as students addicted to nicotine struggle with concentration and behaviour.

“When they’re experiencing withdrawal or experiencing a craving for nicotine, they experience tiredness, irritability, restlessness and appetite changes,” said the principal, who asked not to be identified.

“We get reports from teachers of young people leaving class and being found vaping. I think that’s a really big challenge for a young kid addicted to vaping, to be able to get through a one-hour period.”

A recent survey of 218 school staff members across public, Catholic and independent secondary schools found nearly half (46%) reported finding a student with an e-cigarette on campus at least monthly, and one-third of principals who responded reported suspending or expelling students at least monthly for e-cigarette possession or use.

The health minister, Mark Butler, said on Tuesday that he regularly receives concerns about vaping “from parents and from school communities”.

“This has become a very serious public health menace,” he said. “We’re determined to take really strong action against it. All health ministers are committed to strong reform in this area but also recognise that it can’t just be done at a commonwealth level or at a state level alone. We need to do it together.”

The principal said while Victoria’s education department was providing resources to teachers, addressing vaping in schools was complex work that goes beyond just educating children, and relying on school resources alone is not enough.

“I couldn’t give you a hard and fast number on how much money we have spent addressing vaping,” she said.

“We have spent money on upgrading our physical resources such as bathroom spaces and putting vape detectors in those, but it’s the human resource and the time resource that I can’t put the number on. Each school needs to gather data from their own community to identify when, where and why vaping is occurring. We spent a fair bit of time and work doing that.”

The principal said while health and sport curriculums had been updated to incorporate the harms of vaping, parents needed to be educated too.

“With some parents who maybe have previously been smokers themselves or may use vapes themselves, it is challenging,” she said. “They may not see vaping as a big deal or priority. We do sometimes get parents that talk about the fact that their child is not smoking, so vaping is perceived as being ‘better’.

“A lot of the work we’re doing at the moment is really targeting kids, which is absolutely necessary. But I also think there’s a really important role that parents play.”

The federal government is considering which reforms to introduce before the end of the year to curb youth vaping. A University of Sydney health law researcher, barrister Neil Francey, said there was an urgent need for the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) to enforce consumer laws to tackle the issue.

Francey, who has extensive experience in tobacco litigation, said marketing strategies used to promote vaping to children, deficiencies in age verification requirements, easy payment and delivery methods, and false and misleading marketing claims by many vaping companies are in contravention of consumer law. He said this marketing, often directed to children, amounts to “unconscionable conduct”.

However, he said while “the ACCC should urgently consider enforcement action, the practicability of securing compliance with the law is another matter”.

“Prosecuting false representations and seeking injunctions to restrain misleading statements and unconscionable conduct can only be on a case by case basis,” he said. “It can’t be done on an industry-wide basis.”

An ACCC spokesperson said that vaporiser products require “a tailored regulatory approach … best managed by the Department of Health and Aged Care under the Therapeutic Goods Administration regime”.


Perth OnlyFans star defends massive billboard advertisement

She makes some pretty good points about freedom below

In what is understood to be an Australian first, Savannah – also known as WC Savage – currently has herself displayed across a super-sized billboard near an intersection in the Perth suburb of Osborne Park.

The advertisement, which shows her posed in a bikini at Coogee Beach, includes links and a QR code to her OnlyFans, which hosts her adult content.

The billboard has reportedly irritated businesses and parents, with local media reporting the council, the City of Stirling, and Savannah herself were coping with the brunt of their complaints.

Despite this, Savannah says the billboard stays unless she is ordered otherwise.

“Obviously, people are concerned about children seeing this picture of me in a bikini at the beach, which I think is a little far-fetched,” she told Perth’s 6PR.

“But each to their own. Obviously, the fact that OnlyFans is an adult content-creating website that caters to adult entertainment.”

According to reports in Western Australian media, the majority of complaints stemmed from children following the links or the QR code on the billboard. One went as far as to label the ploy, “insane”.

But Savannah rubbished any suggestion children would be able to “stumble” upon her explicit content.

“OnlyFans actually have layers of protection to stop underage people from accessing the site,” she explained. “You need to have your licence. You need to have a credit card even just to access the free site.”

Savannah also said what other’s children do online is not her responsibility.

“If young teenagers are scanning this QR code, then there should be parental blocks in place placed by their parents on their iPhones, tablets and computers and things like that, to stop them from being able to access sites like this and other sites that do create explicit content,” she argued.

“That’s what my parents did when I was younger. I know that schools do that their computer access and things like that. “I really do believe that that’s the responsibility of the parents.”

Local mayor Mark Irwin told 7NEWS it was out of the council’s hands, with its fate ultimately in the hands of the billboard’s owner. “Content and editorial control of what is displayed on the billboard is a decision made by a private entity,” he said.

As for a windfall from the billboard? Savannah said the approach, believed the be the first in Australia, is “doing really well”. “I obviously, have tried all different types of marketing over the years of being in the adult entertainment industry,” she said.

“I’ve tried all different types of marketing. This is something that has never been done before in Australia by an OnlyFans content creator, and very few people around the world have actually done this.”

Savannah offered some food for thought in her parting words.

“Honestly, if a picture of a young woman in a bikini is the worst thing that your children are going to see today, I really feel like we should be kind of grateful and have some perspective,” she said.

“There are so many worse things out there that the children could be seeing and experiencing than a young woman in a bikini at the beach.”

“Everyone has their right to feel how they feel, and have the opinion that they have, and if people want to complain, then I can’t stop them.”


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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