Friday, March 31, 2017

Promising new police commissioner

We have a new police commissioner just appointed in New South Wales, and he's been saying what I've wanted top cops to say for a very long time.

For decades now, here and overseas, police have forgotten their primary role - which is to prevent crime.

The emphasis has for far too long been on catching people after they've committed the offence.

It's been almost collusion between the police and the criminals. Let them commit the crime then we'll catch them.

New commissioner Mick Fuller said his focus will be on "prevention and disruption", which is exactly what we've always needed.

Get in early, have high visibility, and so prevent the crime from being committed.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Unseen effects of our extreme weather

The worst of the Category 4 cyclone in Queensland is over, although flooding from the heavy rain is the next problem.

Now that people can go outside the damage can be checked, and while it's reported to be at least $2 billion, it's less than feared.

Cyclone Debbie had recorded wind gusts of 263kph and hit the Whitsunday Islands, Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour the worst.

Fortunately the resorts are built to withstand Cat. 5 cyclones so structurally they survived. It was a frightening time for tourists though!

The usually unreported effects, on animals, was highlighted this time by a cockatoo which made the news.

It was found by a news photographer who went out to take photos of the aftermath and found it sitting in a pile of shredded leaves and branches under a destroyed tree.

The poor thing was stripped of a lot of its feathers, so she took it inside and wrapped it in a towel to keep it warm. When the weather eased it was collected by wildlife carers and is now recovering.

It's just one of probably thousands of animals, domestic and wild, that will have been hurt or killed by the cyclone.

And just a few weeks ago there was a photo of more animals affected by our extreme weather, on that occasion it was kangaroos trying to flee from a bush fire.

PS. Later update: Sadly, this morning the cocky was found dead in its box.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Late cyclone

While we've had record rainfall after record heat, Far North Queensland is currently getting battered by a late-season cyclone.

It's a bad one too. Category 4 and close to Category 5. It's just hit the Whitsunday Islands, with gusts of 263kph reported at Hamilton Island.

Now it's headed to the coast at Bowen but it looks like an area of over 100 kilometres will be affected.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Weather report

After several weeks with unusually high temperatures - high thirties C and up to forty on several days - we went into the beginning of autumn, which is March here in Oz of course, and the rain hit us.

Twenty of the first twenty four days had rain or showers, the most in March for over thirty years apparently.

A break in the rain gave me a chance to spend some time trying to tidy the garden and I almost walked into this:

I'm not sure whether it's dangerous but I wouldn't want to find it in my shoe.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Them & Us is alive and well

Like much of the world, Australia is seeing an increasing divide between the privileged few and the majority. And here we also have an increasing sense of entitlement being demonstrated by  those in power, politically and in business.

And of course that's entitlement at the expense of the rest of us.

There's been an endless stream of examples for a long time, and more examples have cropped up in the past few days.

There's a plan to reduce Sunday penalty rates for various low-paid workers in retail pharmacies, full-time hospitality workers and those in the fast food industry. (Utterly ridiculous that very specific groups are cherry-picked, but that's another story).

Fairfax Media on Sunday called various business bodies, the Business Council and the like, which have been pushing for the cut and are now applauding it.

They say that these days Sunday is just another day, not the 'day of rest' it once was, to spend with family.

No prizes for guessing that all of them were closed for the weekend.

For them the weekend is still sacrosanct. For them, different rules apply.

And the pollies are still at the rorting, the lying, and still getting away with it.

The parliamentary pecuniary interests register was set up so that their employers - us - know what their assets are and so that we can see conflicts of interest.

Under the rules, MPs are required to declare all shareholdings and real estate assets, including the location of the property and the purpose for which it is being used. This includes any shareholdings or property owned by the parliamentarian's spouse. Anyone who doesn't properly declare their interests risks being found in "serious contempt" of Parliament.

The declaration must be made within 35 days of purchasing the asset.

The screeching Michaelia Cash, federal Employment Minister, 'forgot' to declare a $1.4 million investment property and the mortgage for it.

Only after Fairfax Media raised questions about it did Senator Cash register the deal. She bought the property on November 4, but didn't register it until January 21 and the mortgage wasn't not declared until February 21, almost four months after the deal.

A clear breach of the rules, clearly serious contempt of Parliament...but t the PM said it was an inadvertent oversight and accepted her apology.

Another one off the hook.

But that's far from the treatment they're handing out to literally thousands of Centrelink customers. Forget to declare something to them and an apology is rejected out of hand, penalties applied.

Today the extreme right fringe big-mouth Liberal Cory Bernardi, who left the Liberal Party to start his own Australian Conservatives party, has also been outed.

In 2015 Bernardi and his wife bought a $1 million commercial property in Adelaide, which is now the headquarters for, you guessed it, the Australian Conservatives party.

And it's not declared on the register. He does declare a shareholding in a company called Twenty-Eight KW. He set that up in 2015 and used it to buy the Kent Town building soon after.

You'd be forgiven for thinking he set it up specifically to buy the property wouldn't you.

Questioned, he just gave the finger - "The building is owned by a company. I have declared shares in the company. It's not rocket science".

The rules are specific, shareholdings and real estate must be declared.

Nothing's going to happen about it, naturally. Unlike for any of us who, for example, used the same tactic on the tax office.

It's so obvious why the wider population is heartily sick of them all.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Rudderless and leaderless

We really do have a totally inept, divided, incompetent federal government.

Unqualified people appointed as ministers show their lack of ability just about every time they speak. In interviews they obfuscate automatically, waffling on regardless of the actual question. And they usually begin the 'answer' by blaming Labor.

Typical was our utterly useless treasurer on radio this morning - he's the clown who took a lump of coal into parliament saying it was 'clean fuel' - waffling as usual to the point of nearly sending me back to sleep. Asked whether the government would back the Fair Work Commission's proposal to cut Sunday penalty rates he started by saying that Labor had set up the commission, but was cut off by the interviewer asking him to answer the question.

Another example is the appalling Attorney-General - who came up with the 'people have the right to be bigots' statement - before a Senate committee ignoring questions by trying to debate the meaning of individual words in the questions. You Tube has a clip of one of his typical responses:

There's also a classic clip on You Tube showing his contempt for both the Senate and the Australian people by petulantly refusing to answer legitimate questions put to him:

Poll after poll is showing voters moving from the Coalition, the latest giving Labor a ten point lead. For once Labor wasn't blamed, but as their default position is that everything is someone else's fault, they decided it was ex-PM Abbott who caused it.

His attack on his own party was typical sour grapes and typical Abbott wrecking. But blaming him for voter dissatisfaction is disingenuous and counter productive.

You can only solve a problem if you first honestly and accurately identify the problem, something the government refuses to do. It's their incompetence, their unpopular policies, their disarray that's the problem.

And, once again, to distract from their problems the Australian Federal Police predictably rolled out another terrorism raid.

They do it with monotonous regularity when the government is having a particularly bad time and it fools very few people. Letter pages and social media are always full of scorn and sarcasm each time it happens.

This raid came after a reported eighteen month operation, so coming a day after the terrible poll results leaves very little doubt about the timing in voters' minds.

The government tried disastrously to shore up their position with the double dissolution election, which reduced their majority to one and gave them more crossbenchers in the Senate. They won't try that again, so we're stuck with them waffling, obfuscating, squabbling and finger pointing until their term is up.

Disastrous for the country, drifting along rudderless and leaderless.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Land of extremes

I've often said that Australia is a land of extremes and we've sure seen that this last few days in New South Wales.

February's our most humid month and on top of that we've had temperatures up in the high thirties Celsius, and in the west of Sydney up to 46C...and more.

The hot weather was here for days, inevitably bringing bushfires. One down near the ACT destroyed fifteen homes and over 3,000 hectares were burnt.

People were evacuated and thankfully no lives were lost.

Well, no human lives but the animals weren't as lucky.

This photo from the Sydney Morning Herald shows kangaroos desperately trying to get away from the flames.

Then suddenly we had three days of storms, temperature dropped way down into the very low twenties and many suburbs were lashed by hailstorms.

People posted photos on Twitter and Facebook and the size of the hailstones was amazing. This was posted on Twitter by Kaija Ross:

It was a cold night but today the temp is up at 28C, clear blue sky and you'd think the storm didn't happen!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Could have been worse

The heatwave has moved north - Queensland's getting it now - but it's left its mark on NSW with huge areas burnt in over eighty bushfires.

It seems around twenty homes have been lost, with the tiny village of Uarbry all but totally destroyed according to early reports.  Called the Sir Ivan Fire, it had burned over 40,000 hectares by this morning and isn't yet contained. No wonder, the RFS estimates the active fire edge around the blaze as 200 kilometres

People there have lost everything, fleeing in a hurry as the fire tore down on them with just the clothes they were wearing.

The ABC reports farmer Warren Jarvis telling them that his house was "totally gone" when a fire raced over the hill near his property near Cassilis and went "mad".

"My house and all my property is totally gone. Three greyhounds, other cats, all my chooks, probably my sheep and cattle," he said.

Thankfully no-one was killed, but not so lucky for the animals, native and farm stock, and pets. Two firefighters and one civilian have been injured, an amazingly low number considering the extent of the fires,

Saturday, February 11, 2017

We have weather

Much of eastern Australia is in the grip of a heatwave, and we've certainly got that in New South Wales.

Sydney Airport yesterday was over 47C, it was 41C here on the coast. Today is a degree or two cooler but there are dire warnings for tomorrow.

The Rural Fire Service Commissioner has just said that tomorrow's weather will be 'as bad as it gets, the worst possible conditions'' for bushfires. Winds ahead of a southerly change plus high temperatures, low humidity and a huge amount of fuel because of the record winter rainfall have created the conditions.

This afternoon there are 49 bush or grass fires burning across NSW, 17 of which were not contained, according to the RFS.

The official warning level for tomorrow ranges from 'severe' in many areas to  'catastrophic' over a large area from the far west to the coast.and he warns that firefighters may simply be overwhelmed.

In catastrophic conditions he says that grass fires move at 30kph, in bush they move at 10kph, and spot fires can start kilometres ahead of the main fire front.

So he's told everyone to be on high alert and not to delay in evacuating if a fire starts.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Preventable tragedy

Right in the heart of Melbourne, five people killed and many more seriously injured by a maniac who deliberately mowed them down by driving at high speed along the footpath.

Two children, one a tiny baby, are among the dead and more are in critical condition.

The driver was Dimitrious Gargasoulas, apparently very well-known to police for a string of family violence  assaults and who suffers mental health and drug-related issues.

He was also out on bail for a string of offences, with outstanding warrants for over twenty charges.
They include a charge for breaching bail by failing to appear at court in April and charges relating to a near-deadly police pursuit in November.

He was facing a string of charges for dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, failing to stop for police, smashing a taxi windscreen and the theft of three motor vehicles and an EFTPOS machine. Charge sheets tendered to the court allege that, on November 19, he was involved in a police pursuit down the wrong side of St Kilda Rd in Melbourne.
A well-known, highly dangerous proven serial criminal who should have been in jail, or a secure mental health facility, long ago was allowed to stay in the community where he was then allowed to commit this mass murder.
So he wasn't the only one responsible for the carnage in Bourke Street.
How about the person who let him out on bail in spite of police objections.
How about the police who tailed him on his way to Melbourne but failed to stop him.
According to the police union secretary, Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles, there were several occasions where police believed they could have safely intercepted and arrested him, but were told not to by their superiors. So how about their responsibility for the carnage their inaction cost.
Just before he committed the murders he was doing burn-outs, screaming at people around him. Police were there too, but only two seventeen year old civilians  tried to stop him.
Once again we've been disastrously let down by those with the power to prevent these tragedies happening.
There has to be an investigation into the whole debacle and those responsible have to be held to account.
                               The maniac doing burn-outs in the centre of the city.

TV shots of two civilian teenagers trying to stop him.

                                                          The saddest photo of all

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bushfire weather

We've had a run of several days very warm to hot weather, and it's going to stay around for a few more days yet apparently.

Last night it was still 30C at midnight and didn't get below 28C, then was back at 30C at 6am. We had 40C today here on the coast and it was a few degrees higher inland.

There's been a strong gusty wind too, so inevitably we have bushfires.

The Rural Fire Service lists 42 fires, six of them major and three are at Emergency warning level.

One near Canberra has already destroyed one home and killed a lot of livestock. Most of the cattle were moved but sheep seem to have been badly hit.

In the Hunter Valley, just north of us here, there's an out-of-control fire near Cessnock, at Kurri Kurri.

I'm keeping up-to-date with it on Twitter and it's saying that the hospital has been evacuated. This has just been posted too:

Fire & Rescue NSW
@FRNSW crews protecting approx 60 ppl sheltering at Kurri Kurri TAFE. Bushfire impacting on campus. Everyone safe.

ABC news is reporting property losses in the Kurri Kurri fire and property in danger near Canberra.

Fire crews from Sydney and the Central Coast are on their way to help.

The wind seems to be easing off though, and a mild southerly change is on the way so hopefully they'll be able to get on top of the situation.

These photos are from Twitter of the Kurri Kurri fire:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

We're being serially ripped off

After a couple of weeks of wriggling, denying, claiming it was all within the rules, Health Minister Sussan Ley has finally yielded to increasing public pressure over her rorting of the system and resigned. But only resigned from the front bench, not from parliament, which would have been the appropriate thing to do.

The longer she left it the more damaging information came to light, showing her using taxpayer money for what were obviously private expenses.

For example, to keep her pilot's licence she has to fly three times every ninety days, Conveniently, she felt she had to fly a charter plane this often because commercial flights, of which there were many, were inconvenient.

She charged us for over twenty trips to the Gold Coast, where here partner has a business and where she has viewed and bought investment properties.

And so it went on.

It was all so obviously wrong that the Prime Minister should have removed her immediately, and pressured her to resign from parliament.

But a by-election would risk losing the seat, so bad for the government are the opinion polls, and he only has 76 seats with 74 against him. So instead of doing the right thing, and gaining some respect from the electorate, he did the politically expedient thing - nothing.

The whole thing went on so long that the media started digging into other MPs expense claims - or entitlements as they refer to them.

To no-ones' surprise, a whole swag of them have been dipping into the public purse for things which have no benefit to the electorate - attending weddings, New Year's Eve parties, polo matches and the like.

They claim that as they talk to people at these places it's therefore government business.

Typical of their lies was Steve Ciobo claiming that his taxpayer funded junket to the AFL Grand Final in 2013 was because he was Trade Minister. Social media was quick to point out that he didn't become Trade Minister until 2016.

The public isn't going to let this die down now the genie's out of the bottle

Monday, January 09, 2017

You couldn't make it up

After days of outrage at her stealing from the taxpayers, health Minister Sussan Ley has finally stood aside.

Not resigned or been fired as the situation demands, but standing aside while there's an investigation into her expenses. Investigation by the government, by the way.

This comes after she tried to hide her false expense claims, claimed she bought an $800,000 apartment 'on a whim', then apologised for misusing taxpayers money and said she'd pay it back.

Endless denials and wriggling as more and more fraudulent expense claims were revealed.

The latest is that since 2013, she's flown in and out of the Gold Coast 27 times and had 37 nights’ accommodation, all taxpayer-funded.

Two trips she claimed over New Year’s Eve in 2013 and 2014 were “at the invitation of a prominent Queensland businesswoman” to discuss the Coalition’s agenda for education and training.

She said the 2013 trip was “for a business lunch” and the 2014 trip was to attend the businesswoman’s “annual New Year’s Eve event”.

She thought it appropriate to charge all this to us!

But even worse, the Prime Minister has temporarily replaced her as Health Minister with the very dodgy Arthur Sinodinos..

On his watch, illegal political donations were made to the Liberal Party, he refused to appear before a Senate committee investigating political donations and was subject to an ICAC investigation, in which the NSW anti-corruption watchdog found it “difficult to accept” he had no knowledge of the illegal funding.  Under questioning he used the amnesia defence - never remembering, not able to recall and so on.

He's been so publicly dodgy for so long that I have to wonder how and why he stays in senior position.  It's an obvious conclusion that he has so much dirt on others that they daren't upset him.

It shows the ultimate very public contempt for the electorate that the PM would not only not fire Ley but would then foist a man like Sinodinos on us.


Saturday, January 07, 2017

More contempt from the feds

The federal government continues to serve up an endless string of examples of their members' arrogance, greed, belief in their unlimited 'entitlements', contempt for the electorate and belief that we're all totally stupid.

We've got the ongoing cock-up of Centrelink sending out threatening letters claiming repayment of alleged overpayments to recipients - 20,000 a week, no less.

It's based on a flawed IT system, very basic & unsophisticated as pointed out by many IT experts.

Nevertheless, the minister in charge says it's a great system, it's doing its job effectively, there's no problem. Despite clear evidence to the contrary.

At the same time we have Health Minister Sussan Ley spending a taxpayer funded $12,000 for a private jet to fly to a conference from Canberra to Gold Coast in March 2016 as commercial flights were 'not suitable'.

That got people looking more closely at what she's been charging us for.

It transpires that a year earlier she went on official business, at our expense, to the Gold Coast and, just by chance, while she was there she bought at auction an $800,000 apartment. Naturally, we paid for her partner to accompany her and for their overnight stay after buying the apartment.

Twitter has gone ballistic of course, investigations showing she'd been on two trips to the Gold Coast, staying five days, in the few weeks leading up to the purchase.

Treating us with the usual contempt she claims it was simply an impulse purchase. You know, there on government business, happened to come across an auction, wandered in with a spare $800,000 and on an impulse bought it.

Most of the mainstream media is ignoring it, being as it's Murdoch controlled or influenced. Fairfax is giving the stories an airing, plus of course social media.

It's the way the coalition has been going since John Howard's days, when the ministerial code of conduct was changed to fit in with what ministers were actually doing. lecturing us about the age of entitlement being over while rorting the system for all they're worth.

They usually finally say that it's all within the rules - rules which they write for themselves of course.