Monday, 23 October 2017

Deputy Prime Minister & Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce in real trouble in his own electorate?


This is allegedly a genuine National Party of Australia document. However, to the chagrin of many it has been revealed to be a fake.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DMs2L-vUIAALcUZ?format=jpg&name=large


Leaving aside the fake poll, the truth is that it is not just Barnaby Joyce's inappropriate dual citizenship which is a problem.

There is another issue which is not being denied at this stage......

According to News Corps’ Herald Sun on 21 October 2017:

Colleagues have told the Herald Sun they are worried the public figure has been punted out of the family home, which doesn’t exactly coincide with their, er, political beliefs.

The late-night office grappling is believed to have been going on for at least eight months and is an open secret in political circles. One minister was heard exclaiming they couldn’t believe it hadn’t leaked out yet.

There is more than one path to academic success and a job you love


Sharna Clemmett on Facebook:

On Friday I gave a speech at my old high school, for the year 12 final assembly. I was asked to publish it, so here it is.

********************
1. I am a former Kadina student. I was in year 12 in 1996.

2. It is 21 years since I last attended this fine school. That makes it 21 years since I dropped my bundle, dropped out of school, and spent about a year on Centrelink benefits, wondering what life was all about, what to do with it, and why.

3. There you have it: the thing that for years I felt was something of which to be ashamed: I never obtained a Higher School Certificate. I am a high school dropout.

4. At your stage, I didn’t have a plan. My plan fell apart in year 12. I moved out of home when I was almost 17. I was sharing a house with a fellow Kadina student and her 6 month old baby. We had very little money. It was tough. Centrelink, in its wisdom, gave me a choice, which was the choice required by the rules: either study full time, or look for work full time. You are not eligible for out-of-home benefits if you study part time.

5. It all got too hard, and I dropped out.

6. At this point, it doesn’t sound like a success story in the making. But really, that was just the start of my journey on a windy road. If I’d known that at the time, I would have been much less despondent about my life.

7. After I dropped out of school, Centrelink gave me another choice: undertake a 6 month, government-funded training, work-for-the-dole program, or you lose your benefits.

8. Off I trotted to work at St Vincents Hospital in Lismore as a Patient Service Assistant. I worked in the surgical ward. I rode my rusty bicycle across the Lismore basin to work every day, starting at 6:45. I learnt some medical terminology. I wiped down and made beds; pushed beds and trolleys; helped wash patients; ordered stock for the ward; organised patient notes. Even though I had no desire to ever be a nurse or a doctor, and there was nothing in particular about a hospital that appealed to me as a place to spend my working life, I always made sure I talked to the people around me, and I worked hard. I had sore feet at the end of most days.

9. At one point I worked out, on average, that if my fortnightly Centrelink payment had been calculated based on the hours I was working, my hourly rate was $3.20 an hour. I was always at work early, I often worked half way through my lunch break, and I often did not finish until after my rostered time.

10. Because I had demonstrated that I worked hard and effectively, the hospital employed me as a casual in administration at the end of the training program. After about 6 months I realised that this – working in hospital administration – was likely to be the pinnacle of my working success if I stayed where I was. I decided to move to Sydney to see what other opportunities there might be.

11. I was in Sydney selling insurance from a call centre (“welcome to NZI, this is Sharna, how can I help you?”), and I got a call suggesting I contact a someone about a job at a new hospital.

12. A senior executive from St Vincents, who had noticed me working hard, had moved to Sydney and was involved in starting up North Shore Private Hospital in St Leonards.

13. So that was how I landed a role in admissions and reception for the Day Surgery and endoscopy unit at North Shore Private. I still hadn’t decided that I wanted to work in a hospital, or be a doctor or a nurse – but I had decided I didn’t like selling insurance in a call centre. So sure, why not?

14. After I had been at North Shore Private for about a year – always at work a bit early, usually leaving late, and making sure the day surgery admission process worked like it should, an anaesthetist asked me whether I would be interested in a change in employment. He said his rooms were looking for someone, and he thought I’d be good. I said I wasn’t looking to move, but I’d call and have a chat anyway. Why not?

15. That’s how I ended up managing the diaries of 42 anaesthetists who worked all over Sydney. I was paid very well in that position, because the responsibility was huge. If I didn’t do my job, there would be a surgeon standing around at a hospital waiting to start an operation with no anaesthetist. That happened once. Only once. A vascular surgeon was standing in theatres with patients waiting and no anaesthetist. There was fury. It still makes me feel slightly ill to think about it. At first, a number of the anaesthetists didn’t think I was up to that job. I was only 20. It required a lot of tact and discretion. They thought I was too young. Damn I worked hard to prove them wrong.

16. Then I got a bit bored. I thought I’d start a tertiary preparation course by distance education, to try to get into university, but didn’t finish it. I sat the STAT test. 6 years after I had dropped out of school I was offered a spot in a communications course at UTS, as a mature age student.

17. That was a course requiring a 98 TER, or tertiary entrance ranking. Absurd. I still can’t help but think the university made a mistake with my application.

18. Because I had forged such good relationships in my work, and worked so hard, my employers sat me down and asked me how many hours I could work whilst I went to uni, and how much they needed to pay me so that I could live. They increased my hourly rate so I could survive. Had I worked on the basis that I would be paid just to turn up to work, as opposed to being paid to get the job done in the best possible way, that would not have happened.

19. Anyway, a year into uni, I picked up a few law subjects as electives. I didn’t think I’d be any good at law. I’d never had any desire to be a lawyer. I just wanted to see whether it might be an option. Turns out it was. They let me into law.

20. In my second year, I applied for summer clerkships. A clerkship is supposed to be an ideal way to start your career in the law: law firms get in keen law students over summer, then offer them jobs after they graduate. I didn’t get one. I was gutted. So I looked for an alternative, and went and worked for a barrister in chambers. Turns out that barrister was then appointed to the AWB Inquiry, or the “Wheat for Weapons scandal”, as Kevin Rudd called it. The barrister took me along with him. At one point, when I was instructing senior counsel at the Bar Table in the inquiry, I wondered what would happen if all those barristers, and Commissioner Cole, knew what a fraud I was - that I was a high school drop out, from Lismore, sitting in the middle of their Royal Commission.

21. The contacts I made in the Royal Commission (and my university results) have helped me at every stage of my career since. After the Royal Commission I got a job working as a tipstaff to a Judge in the Supreme Court. The Judge asked me why I had not finished school, and told me I should not be ashamed of not having finished school. He was much more concerned about why I did not get a distinction in the Law of Evidence.

22. I went on to practice as a lawyer for 3 years. Then I sat the Bar Exams. Once again, I did not believe I was up to it. I did not think I would pass. But I worked hard and I passed.

23. So here I am. High school drop out; barrister in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. [**put on robes]

24. It’s funny, I used to hate my school uniform. Now, in the course of my work, I often get dressed up in this, to run trials in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. A horse hair wig. It’s funny how our preferences change over time.

25. This year, it is 21 years since I left Kadina without a Higher School Certificate.

26. It is 10 years since I was admitted to practice as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

27. It is 5 years since I qualified as a barrister at the NSW Bar.

28. Soon you will be sitting your final HSC exams, then you’ll get your results. You’ll be given a university admission ranking, if that’s what you’re going to do. This might also be looked at by future employers.

29. This is a pretty scary time. There’s a bit of pressure on you. Even if your parents and teachers are not putting pressure on you, it’s likely you feel the weight of their expectations, or at least their hopes for you. Even if you don’t feel that from other people, it’s quite likely you’re putting that pressure on yourself anyway. Then there’s the question of “what am I going to do afterwards?”; “what does the world have in store for me?”

30. Had I tried to pick up all the pieces at once - done my HSC, and gone straight to uni - after I dropped my bundle in 1996, there is no prospect I would be where I am today. I wouldn’t have thought to study law. I just worked with what I felt I could at the time. And I worked my arse off, consistently. I worked my way through from shit kicker jobs, to well paying jobs, to excelling at university. I found a career I love.

31. If you drop your bundle, just pick up the pieces you can carry and work with them. Do something, and do it to the best of your ability. Make meaningful connections and use them. People will respect you if they see you work hard.

32. I have been told that my life has been like a series of lily pads, in which I just jump from one to the next. But I made those lily pads, dammit. And you can make yours. The secret to your success is: you.

33. So here are a few loose rules to live by:
1. First: No matter what result you get in the HSC, the secret to your success in life is you. It’s not numbers on a page. They may help. But it comes down to you: what you put in dictates what you get out. You are the secret to your success.
2. Second: Take opportunities when they arise, even if you don’t think you want them. (It’s amazing what doors a seemingly shitty job can open.) If you miss an opportunity you think you want, take the next one.
3. Third: If you drop your bundle, just pick up the bits you can carry and work with them.
4. Fourth: Talk to people and make meaningful connections. The connections you make will help you through, give you a leg up, and lead to opportunities that may surprise you. And I’m not just talking about work or career opportunities. I mean life opportunities.
5. Fifth: You might have a plan, but you can get to where you want to be, one way or another, and you can succeed, by a different, perhaps more windy, path than the path you have mapped out in your mind.

********************

Australian politics, law, justice and eligibility to sit as a federal parliamentarian


Excerpt from Ingrid Matthews’ article in Independent Australia, Hurrah! It's Section Forty-Forganza Week!, 12 October 2017:

REPORTING POLITICS, LAW AND JUSTICE
There are two other general points to make about the media framing of this case. 
The first is the oft-foreshadowed possibility that those MPs who have not done so may be "forced to resign". This is supremely irritating, because no force is involved (unlike, say, how police handled a child here). Any resignation would be a function of the MP failing to comply with our Constitution and of the High Court doing its job.
The absence of force is important, because the biggest claim that common law liberal democracies like Australia make for our system is this: legal and political conflicts are settled in a "civilised" manner. With words, not fists. With elections, not coups. Using evidence and argument, not violence and vigilantism.
The rituals of legal process are imbued with this pretension to courteous resolution. But that is not how the law looks to Black people in prison cells and their families. Or to welfare recipients sent AFP-branded debt notices by Centrelink. We pay Barnaby Joyce over $1 million per three-year term, and thousands more in expenses, while aggressively pursuing the poorest people in society for petty or non-existent offences and debts.
This is not justice.
Similarly, the notion that the "High Court could bring down the Government" is erroneous. If Joyce is disqualified, it would be a product of Joyce’s oversight and not because the High Court exercised some previously unrealised prerogative power in a curial coup. Plus, there are crossbenchers in the Lower House. The member for Indi will support the Government on confidence and supply. Thus a shift from a majority to a minority government does not "bring down a government". Such a narrative is misleading and frankly embarrassing, given we had a minority government a mere four years ago.
In my view, if Joyce could discover and renounce New Zealand citizenship in 2017, he could have done so in 2004 when he nominated for the Senate, or in 2013 for the seat of New England (Wiki history here). This position is based in law and morality. To me it is simply wrong of Joyce to not ensure his eligibility to sit in the Australian Parliament when he receives such enormous largesse from the Australian public to do so. I say largesse because I can not see any value-add to the national interest, any return on our investment, in Joyce and his travels.
So yes, the politics of this case are fascinating, but not necessarily in the ways that are offered up by political reporters. Constitutional law is a serious business, and the law is not a game.
Ingrid Matthews is a sessional academic who teaches law and human rights. You can follow Ingrid on Twitter at @iMusing or via her blog oecomuse.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Castle Hill, Townsville carries the message "STOP ADANI"


A major heritage-listed landmark shows that not everyone in Townsville, Queensland, appears to be happy with becoming a mining FIFO dumping ground hub for the financially dubious multinational Adani Group ……

Castle Hill aka Cutheringa Mountain est elevation 264 metres
Image: Townsville Bulletin, 16 October 2016


Shorter Donald Trump: there's noboby like me


https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/24-things-nobody-does-better-than-trump-according-to-trump/58a766ff8c0157477a35a726

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Horse's Rear of the Year


Anthony John ‘Tony’ Abbott
Liberal Member for Warringah & sacked former Australian Prime Minister
On the subject of the 2017 Same Sex Marriage national voluntary survey

Stop the boats, save the goats!


cartoon of climate change denialist and sacked former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who on 9 October 2017 told the world: "Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods, we are more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect"

Believe it or not tweet



Friday, 20 October 2017

US President Trump says he is proud to be among so many friends in October 2017



Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to attend and give a keynote speech at the annual Values Voter Summit which this year was held in Washington DC on 12-15 October.

This event included at least nine other misogynistic, anti-Muslim and/or anti LGBTI speakers -  six of whom belong to ‘hate groups’ listed by The Southern Poverty Law Centre - as well as a three-hour long  Values Voter Summit Activist Training workshop for attendees.

Trump previously spoke at this far-right ‘Christian’ summit in 2015 as a candidate and then in 2016 as the Republican presidential nominee.

Excerpt from the White House transcript of Trump’s 13 October 2017 summit speech:

We believe in strong families and safe communities.  We honor the dignity of work.  (Applause.)  We defend our Constitution.  We protect religious liberty.  (Applause.)  We treasure our freedom.  We are proud of our history.  We support the rule of law and the incredible men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  We celebrate our heroes, and we salute every American who wears the uniform.  (Applause.) 

We respect our great American flag.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

And we stand united behind the customs, beliefs and traditions that define who we are as a nation and as a people…..

“When I came to speak with you last year, I made you a promise.  Well, one of the promises I made you was that I’d come back.  See?  (Applause.)  And I don't even need your vote this year, right?  That's even nicer.  (Laughter.)  

But I pledged that, in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected, and defended like you have never seen before.  That's what’s happening.  That's what’s happening.  You see it every day.  You're reading it.

So this morning I am honored and thrilled to return as the first sitting President to address this incredible gathering of friends -- so many friends.  (Applause.)  So many friends.  And I'll ask Tony and all our people that do such a great job in putting this event together -- can I take next year off or not?  (Laughter.)  Or do I have to be back?  I don't know…..

So I'm here to thank you for your support and to share with you how we are delivering on that promise, defending our shared values, and in so doing, how we are renewing the America we love.

In the last 10 months, we have followed through on one promise after another.  (Applause.)  I didn't have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.  (Applause.) 

Some of those promises are to support and defend the Constitution.  I appointed and confirmed a Supreme Court Justice in the mold of the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia, the newest member of the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch.  (Applause.) 

To protect the unborn, I have reinstated a policy first put in place by President Ronald Reagan, the Mexico City Policy.  (Applause.)  To protect religious liberty, including protecting groups like this one, I signed a new executive action in a beautiful ceremony at the White House on our National Day of Prayer -- (applause) -- which day we made official.  (Applause.) 

Among many historic steps, the executive order followed through on one of my most important campaign promises to so many of you: to prevent the horrendous Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors or our ministers or rabbis.  These are the people we want to hear from, and they're not going to be silenced any longer.  (Applause.) 

Just last week, based on this executive action, the Department of Justice issued a new guidance to all federal agencies to ensure that no religious group is ever targeted under my administration.  It won't happen.  (Applause.) ….

We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.  (Applause.)…

We know that it's the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities.  (Applause.)  And above all else, we know this:  In America, we don't worship government -- we worship God.  (Applause.)  Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face……

For too long, politicians have tried to centralize the authority among the hands of a small few in our nation’s capital.  Bureaucrats think they can run your lives, overrule your values, meddle in your faith, and tell you how to live, what to say, and how to pray.  But we know that parents, not bureaucrats, know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society.  (Applause.)  

We know that faith and prayer, not federal regulation -- and, by the way, we are cutting regulations at a clip that nobody has ever seen before.  Nobody.  (Applause.)  In nine months, we have cut more regulation than any President has cut during their term in office.  So we are doing the job.  (Applause.)  And that is one of the major reasons, in addition to the enthusiasm for manufacturing and business and jobs -- and the jobs are coming back.  

That's one of the major reasons -- regulation, what we've done -- that the stock market has just hit an all-time historic high.  (Applause.)  That just on the public markets we've made, since Election Day, $5.2 trillion in value.  Think of that:  $5.2 trillion.  (Applause.)  And as you've seen, the level of enthusiasm is the highest it's ever been, and we have a 17-year low in unemployment.  So we're doing, really, some work.  (Applause.) 

We know that it's the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities.  (Applause.)  And above all else, we know this:  In America, we don't worship government -- we worship God.  (Applause.)  Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.”

In this administration, we will call evil by its name.  (Applause.)  We stand with our friends and allies, we forge new partnerships in pursuit of peace, and we take decisive action against those who would threaten our people with harm.  (Applause.)  And we will be decisive -- because we know that the first duty of government is to serve its citizens.  We are defending our borders, protecting our workers, and enforcing our laws.  You see it every single day like you haven't seen it in many, many years -- if you've seen it at all.  (Applause.)  

Please note that statements made by Trump in this speech need to be fact checked for accuracy.

Tony Abbott will never stop until he has destroyed Australia


“the shame and humiliation of losing high office drives him on, with the thinnest of rationalisations for his actions” [Judith Brett]

La Trobe University Emeritus Professor Judith Brett writing in The Monthly, August 2017:
Once again Tony Abbott has wrecked the chances of Australia achieving a bipartisan policy on emissions reduction. When, at the end of 2009, he successfully challenged Malcolm Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party, the catalyst was Turnbull’s co-operation with the Rudd government over the introduction of an emissions trading scheme. Winning by one vote, Abbott immediately announced a secret ballot on whether the party should support the Labor government’s legislation. The result, 54 against to 29 for, spelled the end of the Opposition’s co-operation with the government on its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. When the scheme reappeared in 2011 as a price on carbon under Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her climate change minister, Greg Combet, Abbott made this “great big new tax on everything” the centrepiece of his campaign against the government. And when he won the election in 2013 he repealed the legislation.
To be sure, others have also contributed to the long-running disaster of Australia’s climate policies: the Greens under Bob Brown, who, in a fit of self-indulgent high-mindedness, refused to support Labor’s legislation in the Senate; Kevin Rudd, who walked away from the “great moral challenge of our generation” when the going got tough; and Julia Gillard, with her culpable naivety in promising that there would be no carbon tax in a government she led, and then agreeing that the scheme her government introduced could be called a tax. But it has been Abbott’s continuing belligerent prosecution of what shadow environment minister Mark Butler calls in his new book the Climate Wars that has turned going slow on emissions reduction into a Liberal cause. It is Abbott who has given focus and a voice to the motley collection of climate sceptics in the Coalition party room and kept alive the delusion that coal has a viable long-term future. For even if it were not the case that burning coal is contributing to global warming, the rapid development of renewables and their plummeting price would be numbering its days. If one can make energy from the sun, wind and tides, why would anyone bother digging up and transporting coal?
And he is at it again. For a brief moment early in June, the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, chaired by Australian Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, held out the hope that Australian politics might reach a bipartisan consensus on a scheme to both reduce emissions and increase energy supply, by providing the certainty the private sector needs to invest in new energy generation. Fearing Abbott and his troops, Prime Minister Turnbull had already ruled out an emissions intensity scheme, despite its widespread industry support. Finkel knew he couldn’t consider it, even if it were a better option than the clean energy target he eventually recommended. The clean energy target seemed like clever politics. As it was “technology neutral” it did not explicitly rule out coal. Labor promised to work with the government to hammer out a deal it could live with when it returned to government. Business welcomed the possibility, finally, of a bipartisan agreement that would provide the certainty needed for new investment in energy generation. The Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Energy Users Association of Australia and energy retailers Origin, AGL and Energy Australia were all on board, and argued that the clean energy target would lower prices for consumers.
Not so, said Abbott, whose special contribution to the debate has been to reduce complicated, technical arguments to simple cut-through slogans with little connection to reality. The clean energy target is a tax on coal, he declared. Since the Finkel review was delivered, Abbott has upped his profile and his attacks on the government. Setting out his conservative manifesto to the Institute of Public Affairs at the end of June, he called for a moratorium on new wind farms, a freeze on the renewable energy target at its current level of 15% and the construction of another “big coal-fired power station”. Contrary to the evidence in the Finkel review and the assertions of the energy providers, Abbott claimed that the renewable energy target was causing people’s power bills to increase by making coal uneconomic, and that if private investors would not build a new coal-fired power station, then the government should step in and make good this market failure “as soon as possible”. Just why this last suggestion is either a liberal or a conservative one is hard to fathom. It sounds much more like an old-fashioned socialist argument for re-nationalisation of the power supply.
But consistency has never been Abbott’s strong point. His major preoccupation has always been product differentiation, drawing up the battlelines between the Liberal Party and its major enemy the Labor Party and winning the fight. From this perspective the main problem with the proposed clean energy target is that it is too similar to Labor’s policy. Abbott believed, he told Paul Kelly in early July, that energy policy was “the best hope for the government to win the next election”. Attacking the big fat carbon tax worked in 2013, so why wouldn’t it work again? Peta Credlin, whom Abbott described as the fiercest political warrior he had ever worked with, has since admitted on Sky News that Labor’s climate change policy was never a carbon tax, but that by pursuing “brutal retail politics” the Coalition made it one in the minds of the electorate, replacing fear for the future of the planet with a fight about the hip pocket.
Read the full article here.
www.tonyabbott.com.au, 11 October 2017

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Be a hero - save an endangered Swift Parrot family today


Swift Parrot
Lathamus discolor
Psittacidae
Critically endangered (Australian federal listing)
IUCN Red List
Image: Geoffrey Dabb/ Canberra Birds

Swift Parrots breed only in Tasmania and then fly across Bass Strait to forage on the flowering eucalypts in open box–ironbark forests of the Australian mainland. While on the mainland, they are nomadic, spending weeks or months at some sites and only a few hours at others, determined by the supply of nectar. [Birdlife Australia]

                                     

Go to https://pozible.com/project/operation-pko to donate

ABC News, 18 October 2017:

The parrots are nomadic and eat nectar, travelling in flocks to nest near flowering eucalypts.
"This year, all their food is on the east coast of Tasmania, and that area is full of sugar gliders," Dr Stojanovic said.
"We're very concerned that all the birds we bred on predator-free islands last year, will end up nesting on the mainland in sugar glider habitat and be eaten."
With the help of an electrician, Dr Stojanovic has designed "a possum-keeper-outer" nest boxes, with a door to close behind the parrot once darkness fell.
"Effectively, it's just a little motor and a light sensor," he said.
"As soon as it's daytime the sensor automatically detects that there's ambient light and it will open to release the parrot to go about their business….
Dr Stojanovic said previous research had shown the possums could eat parrots "within a couple of days" of the bird laying its eggs.
"About half of the female swift parrots that nest on the mainland of Tasmania each year end up being eaten by sugar gliders," he said.
"It can be a really severe rate of predation."
Dr Stojanovic said the crowd-funding protection measures were needed due to ongoing deforestation of the swift parrot habitat, by logging.

"Want to clear the pool of sharks? Ask the little lady. The sheilas are tough in Australia."


“Want to clear the pool of sharks? Ask the little lady. The sheilas are tough in Australia” I’m sure the North Coast Voices reader who sent me a link to this video along with that comment was boasting a bit as he said it.

Meet Melissa Hatheier of Cronulla……

Image from ABC News, 11 October 2016

And this is Melissa tidying away “a little Port Jackson shark” at Oak Park Sea Pool, Cronulla, NSW………





So troubled multinational Serco's staff are going to answer phone calls made to Centrelink in a Turnbull Government pilot program?


Multinational Serco Group plc registered in England and Wales, with revenue in 2016 of an est. $5 billion and an underlying trading profit of est. $139 million, has made the news again.

One of its subsidiaries, SERCO CITIZEN SERVICES PTY LTD1 ABN:89 062 943 640, won this $53.75 million federal government contract commencing 7 September 2017:

CN ID: CN3460117
Agency: Department of Human Services
Publish Date: 11-Oct-2017
Category: Temporary personnel services
Contract Period:
7-Sep-2017 to 29-Oct-2019
Contract Value (AUD): $53,752,454.80
Description: Centrelink Call Centre Enhancements Initiative

On 11 October 2017 it was reported that the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge stated this contract was for a pilot commencing in late October 2017 would help reduce Centrelink call wait times.

An est. 250 Melbourne-based Serco staff will take calls about welfare payments in the three-year pilot program.


Of course Serco will comply, Minister.

Just as it has on every single contract in the past......

Stolen Laptop Exposes Personal Data on 207,000 Army Reservists. Serco held the data on reservists as part of its contract with the U.S. Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation division. As a result, Dahms said, some of the data on the missing laptop may belong to dependents and spouses of U.S. Army reservists, 13 May 2010

Serco's paper trailer raises accountability questions. Crikey has taken a closer look at the extent that Serco contracts outsources to other companies and can reveal that millions of dollars from the detention contract has ended up in some startling places, 1 November 2010

Serco employee suspected of Victoria Police breach. Man accused of adjusting 67,541 traffic infringement records, 15 April 2011


Serco operates and maintains a surprisingly large and diverse range of services in both the UK and Australia, as well as in several other countries. Its website lists some examples of the scale of its operations including: traffic management systems covering more than 17,500kms of roads worldwide, managing 192,000 square miles of airspace in five countries, managing education authorities on behalf of local governments, and providing defence support services worldwide.[2] Serco also manages a number of hospitals, prisons and detention centres, and is involved in a host of other services.[3]…..Focussing on the company Serco, there have been numerous reports of instances where its service provision has been sub-standard, high-cost, has eliminated diversity, or has lacked accountability. Putting this focus on Serco’s faults is not to say that it is any more prone to failures than other corporations in this area, or that it is always unsuccessful in its service provision. Rather, the point is to show clearly the dangers of privatisation, and why it must not be accepted as a universal good, 7 March 2012



Sources in the justice system blamed the foul-up on staffing issues at Serco. One said: "This sort of thing happens every week." The seven-year PECS deal has turned into a horror show for Serco. It faces allegations that it doctored transfer records to flatter its performance, with five Serco staff under investigation by the City of London police. That is not its only problem contract. There are separate claims that, along with rival outsourcer G4S, it overcharged taxpayers on a deal to put electronic tags on criminals, 17 October 2013

Private contractors Serco has agreed to repay £68.5million to the taxpayer after over-charging for tagging criminals. The firm was investigated by the Ministry of Justice over claims that together with rival company G4S it over-charged for tens of thousands of criminals, including those who had left the country, been returned to prison or even died, 19 December 2013

Outsourcing giant Serco is embroiled in a fresh misuse of public funds scandal after a company it set up overcharged NHS hospitals millions of pounds, 27 August 2014

Serco is failing, but is kept afloat thanks to Australia's refugee policy. It’s a sign of the times that a company like Serco, with murky financial statements masking its true economic shape, is continually rewarded for failure by new and larger contracts, 11 November 2014

Serco turned 'blind eye' to corruption in UK immigration jail, court hears, 26 February 2015

Serco has brought a culture of profiteering, bullying, intimidation and corruption to Mt Eden prison, a Whangarei barrister says.The comments come as controversy surrounds the private company that operates the prison, and with Corrections boss Ray Smith revealing a third incident at the facility has left him no choice but to seek legal advice in regards to the contract, 24 July 2015

On Monday, Serco was fined $NZ500,000 ($A328,750) and was prohibited from overseeing operations at the correctional facility while an internal investigation took place. The fine came after six disturbing videos — shot on a smartphone and smuggled inside the prison — surfaced on YouTube earlier this month. The videos showed prisoners participating in organised ‘fight clubs’ as large groups of fellow inmates watch on. Inmates were also seen blatantly smoking and drinking alcohol in the videos, which were captured without the knowledge of staff. However, the NZ prison officers union said bosses knew about the fight club for up to 18 months, but did nothing about it, 29 July 2015

A GUARD at the Wickham Point Detention Centre in Darwin has been fired after it was found he was trying to coerce female detainees into having sex with him. Serco, the company contracted to run Australia’s immigration facilities, said in a statement to the NT News that a detainee services officer from Wickham Point was dismissed in late May following two separate complaints from female detainees, 6 August 2015





Serco targets further cost cutting as it seeks to keep its profits on track. Serco boss Rupert Soames has said the company still has costs to cut before it is trading at full strength, as the firm enters the middle stage of its five-year turnaround plan. He said that there were plans to further reduce overheads and make Serco’s processes more efficient, as well as bringing down some of its IT costs. “We’ve still got a lot of costs that we have to get out of the business,” he said, 3 August 2017.



Footnotes

1. Serco provides care and welfare services, on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, to people living in Australian onshore immigration centres whilst their visa status is resolved. Since 2009, more than 61,000 individuals have been in our care, representing more than 20 different cultural and linguistically diverse communities. Within the Australian justice system, Serco operates three prisons: the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (Queensland) with 400 beds, Acacia Prison (Western Australia) with 1400 beds and the Wandoo Reintegration Facility (Western Australia) with 80 beds.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Australia - where the rich get richer as wealth & income inequality grows (interactive mapping)


The Guardian, 12 October 2017

Australia is among countries with the highest growth in income inequality in the world over the past 30 years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Vitor Gaspar, the IMF’s director of fiscal affairs, has told an audience at the launch of the IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor that Australia’s income inequality growth has been similar to the US, South Africa, India, China, Spain and the UK since the 1980s.

Last month the treasurer, Scott Morrison, said that income inequality was not getting worse in Australia.

Morrison told the Business Council of Australia in late September that Treasury and the Reserve Bank had found, in specific analysis of current wage fundamentals, that Australian wages were growing slowly across most industries in the economy, and most regions of the country, so the slow growth was evenly shared.

However, he would not release the Treasury analysis.

Graph showing inequality by country by the IMF. Illustration: IMF

Gaspar said IMF staff had used the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s income distribution database, Eurostat, and the World Bank’s Povcalnet data, among other sources, to calculate that income inequality had increased in nearly half of the world’s countries in the past three decades, and Australia had experienced a “large increase” in that time.

“Most people around the world live in countries where inequality has increased,” he said.

The IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor, released overnight, is dedicated to the global growth in income inequality. It warns that while some inequality is inevitable in a market-based economic system as a result of “differences in talent, effort, and luck”, excessive inequality could “erode social cohesion, lead to political polarisation, and ultimately lower economic growth”. 

It also warns that income inequality tends to be “highly correlated” with wealth inequality, inequality of opportunity, and gender inequality……

Earlier this year, the OECD economic survey of Australia in April found “inclusiveness has been eroded” in the past two decades.

“The Gini coefficient has been drifting up and households in upper-income brackets have benefited disproportionally from Australia’s long period of economic growth,” the report said.

“Real incomes for the top quintile of households grew by more than 40% between 2004 and 2014, while those for the lowest quintile only grew by about 25%.”

In July the Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, when asked about his views on inequality at a charity lunch in Sydney, said it had grown “quite a lot” in the 1980s and 1990s and had risen “a little bit” recently, but it was important to make a distinction between income and wealth inequality.

“Wealth inequality has become more pronounced particularly in the last five or six years because there’s been big gains in asset prices,” Lowe said. “So the people who own assets, which are usually wealthy people, have seen their wealth go up.”

He said income inequality had increased slightly in recent years, but wealth inequality was more pronounced because of rising asset prices.

So how do individual regions across Australia fare?

The Guardian on 4 February 2016 published this Australia-wide interactive graphic:



Income Distribution in NSW Northern Rivers Region (based on Australian Taxation Office data for 2012-13)

Byron – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 38.5% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.544

Kyogle – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.9% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.554

Ballina – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.2% of income – Gini coefficient 0.495

Tweed – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.473

Clarence Valley – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.1% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.493

Lismore – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 29.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.459

Richmond Valley – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 28.1% of total income  – Gini coefficient 0.448

*  Some low income earners, eg. those receiving Government pensions/allowances or earning below the tax free threshold may not be present in the data, as they may not be required to lodge personal tax forms. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, Total Income, 2012-13]