Saturday 31 May 2014

The McNeill's publish a court-ordered apology to NSW Police

An apology which was long overdue.......

Even if this apology was hidden away on Page 41 of a 48-page issue of The Daily Examiner on 31 May 2014.

Page One of The Daily Examiner on 15 May 2014:

THE family at the centre of the infamous so-called Yamba riot will be forced to publicly apologise to the NSW Police Force after a claim for damages backfired and exposed a sinister plot to damage the reputation of local officers.
Craigh McNeill, his wife Maxine and their two children Dylan and Codie will foot their own legal costs and take out two newspaper advertisements to say sorry to officers who were pelted with bricks the night a squad car was torched at a teenage party.
The McNeills had claimed police were trespassing the night hell broke loose at the Yamba Industrial Estate and that several of those arrested were victims of police brutality and reputational damage.
But just days into what was expected to be a lengthy trial, an embarrassing stint in the witness box left Mr McNeill and his family with little choice but to withdraw.
Coffs/Clarence Superintendent Mark Holahan said yesterday police had, from the beginning, agreed that they would "fight the case to the end" and despite years of setbacks, justice had finally prevailed.
"Let the games begin".
With those words, Craigh McNeill launched an attack on police which would have ramifications for years to come.
The arrest of the Yamba father, his son Dylan and several of his children's teenage friends on Valentine's Day, 2010 made headlines and shocked the local community but it would be another four years before the real court battle began.
Following a decision in the local court, all those arrested were acquitted and Mr McNeill and his family hatched a plan to sue the NSW Police Force for damages.
But when their day in court finally came, things didn't go to plan.
Mr McNeill had claimed that he had tried to extinguish the fire with a bucket of water but a video played in court showed that the contents of the bucket appeared to have caused the fire to flare, not go out.
He said he had tried to calm the revellers down and stop them from being destructive but the court heard that out of the 107 people who gave statements to police after the party, not one could recall Mr McNeill asking them to stop what they were doing.
In the statement of claim, Dylan alleged police had told him he was "going to be raped" at Grafton Jail.
In the early stages of his evidence, Mr McNeill denied having any conversation with his former co-accused about his plan to sue the police.
A recording played in court revealed Codie's boyfriend Robert "Robdug" Harvey can be heard saying to another "Craigh says, 'Just pretend you got raped ... you'll get an extra 100 grand on there'."
Asked why he would have given that advice, Mr McNeill replied he had only said it "as a joke".
The case was suddenly adjourned on Monday for legal argument and on Tuesday morning the McNeills confirmed they would not be pursuing the case……


Moggy Musings [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat]

A mixed opinions musing: The battle of the legal opinions found in Clarence Valley Council’s May 2014 monthly meeting business paper & minutes has caused some comment in the valley. One local with a legal background who contacted Clarencegirl has formed an opinion that the administrative arm of council was denying natural justice” when it recommended this change to the Privacy Management Plan: ‘Council is exempt from complying with this Principle (6) in situations where compliance is reasonably likely to detrimentally affect Council’s conduct of an investigation’.
Some others are just glad that the tussle over who controls formation of council policy – management or the nine elected councillors – for once is out in the open. Me? As one of many moggies living in the valley, I’m glad all I have to worry about is whether fresh fish will be on the menu today!

A troubled musing: Will social housing providers on the NSW North Coast evict tenants who are under thirty, lose their jobs and cannot get income support for up to six months?

A Eureka Moment musing: It was not a relaxed wake-up this morning. My two legs sat straight up in bed with “That’s it!” on her lips. Seems she thinks that perhaps the reason why Clarence Valley Council was so eager to settle Wayne Smith v Clarence Valley Council out-of-court in December 2013 was the possibility that the investigation report mentioned here would form part of the evidence presented.

An OMG musing: Look who has turned up again. Federal Court of Australia, Wednesday 21 May 2014 Law Courts Building Sydney (P) ACD24/2007 PETER JAMES SPENCER v THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA & ANOR.

A perturbed feline musing: My servant’s calculator fascinates me – because the shiny numbers often make her say a bad word. This week I found out what some of those bad words were about. Apparently there’s a dog called “Bluddy Abbott” who is going to make us do without to increase the number of $$$ he hoards to buy bones – except that in four years’ time he will only have as many bones as he has today and will still owe the butcher heaps of money.

An he thinks voters are stoopid musing: Tamara the Tabby's owner says you can tell a state election is less than 12 months away. The sleeping bewdy of NSW politics, Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis, has finally woken up and is peppering the media with suddenly discovered concerns such as this: Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis hopes his senior NSW Government colleagues will go one step further and cancel Metgasco's PEL16 following yesterday's temporary suspension of the company's petroleum licence.

A jungle drums musing: Rumour winging its way north from Sydney is saying that Craigh Jeremy McNeill v State of New South Wales (NSW Police Force) has abruptly ended. So is this finally the end of the Yamba Riot saga?

A money musing: As the coffee was poured and tidbits from the tea table came my way, I was listening intently to the hoomins in my family discussing the fact that since July 2011 Clarence Valley Council has attracted over $749k in legal expenses of various kinds. Of course lots of this money was probably paid out by council’s insurer and some of it would have been recovered as part of court judgments – but there’s no getting away from the fact that council apparently spent a cool $14.9k investigating one of its own.

A political donation musing: A NSW North Coast politician only had one registered donor in 2007. So it’s rather surprising to find that this donor, who apparently gave no other candidate a donation in that year, could mess up his declaration so badly. The declaration appears to have the wrong ABN number for the company listed as the donor and, the candidate is also listed as belonging to a party for which he did not stand at any election to date.

A muddying the waters musing: Troy Anderson, Clarence Valley Council's works and civil director, told The Daily Examiner in May 2014 that; people experiencing water discolouration should run their taps until the water cleared. Yarz, I can just see locals running taps for 30 minutes or more non-stop when council's base water consumption rate is$1.57 per Kl.

A chortle chortle musing: I was having a quiet nap when the sounds of mirth woke me. My two-legs was amused by the fact that Clarence Valley Council's general manager apparently takes umbrage if a resident or ratepayer dares to send correspondence addressed to him to the email address officially assigned to him, What's next I wonder?  Greensill is the gift that just keeps on giving.

A worried moggies and doggies musing: If in two and a half years’ time Tony Abbott intends to do as he is promising now and so leave pensions lagging behind the true cost of living, how many of our hoomins are going to be able to afford our food and vet bills?


Tony Abbott The Musical - sneak peek

The beginnings of what could be a wonderful musical experience J

Friday 30 May 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is out of touch with ordinary people, arrogant, narrow-minded, superficial - but he's hardworking!

Essential Report 27 May 2014:

Leader Attributes – Tony Abbott

May 27, 2014

Q. Which of the following describe your opinion of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott?

2 Sep 14
(as Opposition leader)
29 Oct 14
15 Apr

27 May
Out of touch with ordinary people
Hard working
Understands the problems facing Australia
A capable leader
Good in a crisis
More honest than most politicians

Tony Abbott’s key attributes were out of touch with ordinary people (67%), arrogant (63%), narrow-minded (61%), hard working (57%) and superficial (57%).
Since April, the largest shifts have been for out of touch with ordinary people (+11), trustworthy (-11), good in a crisis (-10), hard working (-9) and a capable leader (-9).

Note: Possible that dates “2 Sep 14” & “29 Oct 14” should read “2 Sep 13” & “29 Oct 13”

The Lies Abbott Tells - Part Eighteen


“If you start a course under one system you will finish it under one system….. If you start next year your conditions of study won't change. It's only for those who start when these changes kick in in 2016 who will have the different conditions applying to them.” [Tony Abbott quoted in The Daily Telegraph 21 May 2014]


A spokesman for the Department of Education told Fairfax Media: "Students who enrol in a Commonwealth supported place after 13 May 2014 will be charged under the existing arrangements until 31 December 2015. After this date they will be charged under the new arrangements, as determined by their university or higher education institution." [The Sydney Morning Herald 21 May 2014]

Thursday 29 May 2014

Clarence Valley Privacy Management Plan to be placed on public exhibition

The Daily Examiner 23 May 2014:

CLARENCE Valley Council is asking for public help to review its Privacy Management Plan.
On February 18 the council unanimously approved a plan based on the January 2013 Model Plan from the Division of Local Government.
But after debating a notice of motion from councillor Karen Toms on Tuesday, it has voted to put its Privacy Management Plan on public exhibition for 28 days to gather submissions.
Backgrounding her move, Cr Toms said she found a sentence in the final paragraph of Principle (6) in Section 10, the information protection section of the code, which worried her.
Principle (6) covers how the council should control and grant access to personal information it holds.
She said the words "council is exempt from complying with this principle in situations where compliance is reasonably likely to detrimentally affect council's conduct of an investigation" were at odds with the language in the model plan.
Cr Toms obtained legal advice, which said the clause was beyond the power of the council to deliver.
The advice from solicitor Stephen Nazarian concluded the clause had the potential to contravene the council's obligation to provide procedural fairness to councillors and staff.
"The risk is that the terms of the plan may be relied upon to deny councillors and staff their right to a fair hearing under the code," the advice read.
The council has countered with its own legal advice, which said Mr Nazarian failed to consider a direction from the Privacy Commissioner on December 23, 2013, under section 41(1) of Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.
The direction gives a relevant agency exemption from compliance under a number of sections, including Section 10….

ACOSS: Under Abbott Government an est. 100,000 people under 30 will have no income support for six months of any year they are unemployed

Excerpt from an Australian Council of Social Service media release dated 21 May 2014:

The budget brings especially dire news for the 12 per cent of workers under 30 years of age who find themselves out of a job. They will have to wait six months for their first income support payment, then survive on no income for six months of every year of unemployment.
Despite talk of exemptions, ACOSS estimates that about 100,000 young people each year will lose income support through this measure. This budget measure risks creating a lost generation by depriving young people of the support they desperately need at precisely the time they need it most to set them on their way in life. We are still waiting to hear how the new rules to deny income support to young people up to 29 years for six months of every year will provide them with opportunity.
A six-month limit on social security for young people is a blunt instrument that is a kick in the guts for people who are simply struggling to survive and find a job. If the government believes that this many people are rorting the benefit system it should provide the evidence, and that must extend beyond anecdotes.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

The Abbott Government has decided to make guinea pigs of the under 30s living on the NSW North Coast

According to the Herald Sun on 27 May 2014, from 1 July 2014, jobseekers aged 18 to 30 years of age, living in the Richmond, Tweed, Clarence Valley, Ballina, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour areas, and who have been receiving Youth Allowance or Newstart for 12 months or more, will be required to undergo approximately 15 hours a week compulsory work for the dole for a period of six months.

After that these job seekers will receive no unemployment benefit for the next six months.

From 1 January 2015 those job seekers on Newstart will be switched to the lesser benefit, Youth Allowance.

Also from that date any person under 30 years of age who becomes unemployed will be unable to apply for Youth Allowance for up to six months depending on their work history.

Oh what a difference a year makes!

Clarence Valley Council then......

Clarence Valley Council now......

It would appear that some attitudes change when there is only sixteen months left before the next local government election.

* Snapshots from The Daily Examiner online

Yet another example of the Abbott sense of entitlement?

Tony Abbott, Frances Abbott with founder of the Whitehouse Institute of Design Leanne Hope Whitehouse
(Sole director of Whitehouse Institute Pty Ltd & Whitehouse Investments Australia Pty Ltd)
Photograph from The Sydney Morning Herald 21 May 2014

The Guardian 21 May 2014:

Les Taylor, the chairman of the Whitehouse Institute of Design board of governors, personally recommended the prime minister’s daughter for a $60,000 design degree scholarship, and has also made donations of more than $20,000 to the state and federal Liberal party.

Frances Abbott was only the second recipient of the "chairman's scholarship", according to the institute's chief executive.

Guardian Australia revealed that Frances Abbott received the scholarship from the private higher education institute in 2011. Taylor told Guardian Australia he had “put her name forward” for the award but declined to say how much the scholarship was worth.

Taylor told Guardian Australia that, as chairman of the board of governors, “I’m entitled to make a recommendation … I’ve got the right to say [if] they’d do very well at Whitehouse.

“I knew she’d do well,” Taylor said, “And she’s flourished [at the institute]. I put her name forward as I thought she’d be suitable … she’s gone from strength to strength.”

Taylor later told Fairfax Media: ‘‘I probably did say to someone at Whitehouse, ‘Frances is a nice girl or something, good family, works hard, I reckon she’d do well’.’’

Taylor told Guardian Australia he could not recall if he had recommended anyone else for the scholarship that year, but confirmed it was not offered to students every year. Taylor said he did not “get involved” with the appraisal process for the scholarship, which was completed by academic staff. It is unclear whether any other students were considered for the scholarship in 2011.

The institute states on its website that it “does not currently offer scholarships to gain a place into the Bachelor of Design” – a cache search on the website indicates this has been the same since 2011.

The institute's chief executive, Ian Tudor, told Guardian Australia the "chairman's scholarship" was issued "occasionally" and that Frances Abbott was only its second recipient.

"I understand that the selection of Frances was done at arm's length from the chairman by the owner, founder and managing director of the institute, Leanne Whitehouse," Tudor said. 
He said the institute awarded "various types" of scholarships, despite the statement on the website. 

A spokeswoman for the prime minister confirmed that Frances Abbott was a recipient of a scholarship at the institute and said it was awarded as a result of her "application and art portfolio".

She said disclosure of the scholarship by the prime minister on the parliamentary register of interests was "not required".

"Under the Statement of Registrable Interests, a scholarship is not a gift, it is an award based on merit and disclosure is not required. If alternative advice is provided, Mr Abbott will meet the amended requirements," the spokeswoman said.

"Frances graduated with distinction-level results from Whitehouse in December 2013. She has since moved to Melbourne where she works for Whitehouse as a teacher’s aide and hopes to study for her Masters later this year."

The spokeswoman said Taylor had known the prime minister "for many years and when in opposition, he received clothing from him as a gift"….

New Matilda 21 May 2014:

In February of this year, Frances Abbott – the Prime Minister’s middle daughter – completed a three-year Bachelor of Design course at the Whitehouse Institute of Design.
New Matilda can reveal that the Prime Minister’s daughter paid just $7,546 for the $68,182 degree.
The news come on a day where thousands of students in six capital cities around the country marched to express their outrage at an Abbott Government budget which see some university fees rise by more than 100 per cent.
Documents obtained by New Matilda also challenge claims by the Prime Minister that his daughter’s scholarship was won on merit.
Rather than an exhaustive application process, Ms Abbott, aged 22, was offered the ‘Managing Director’s Scholarship’ at her first and only meeting with the owner of the Institute, Leanne Whitehouse.
The Institute declined to nominate any other occasion when the scholarship has been awarded, and did not address a lengthy list of questions submitted by New Matilda early this morning.
Whitehouse insiders have claimed the scholarship was kept secret, even from many senior staff…..
Ms Abbott was awarded her scholarship before the school year began.
The Whitehouse website does not list the Managing Director’s Scholarship on its awards page, despite the fact it is by far the largest scholarship awarded by the school.
There also appears to be some confusion about the name of the scholarship – Leanne Whitehouse told Guardian Australia today it was called the ‘Chairman’s Scholarship’. But internal documents repeatedly refer to it as the ‘Managing Director’s Scholarship’.
An account of how Frances Abbott came to be a student at Whitehouse, provided to New Matilda by a staff member, casts further doubt on the claims by the Prime Minister that her appointment was based entirely on merit.
The source told New Matilda that Frances Abbott was approached by Whitehouse Chairman of the Board - and friend of the Abbott family - Les Taylor, after Taylor became aware that Frances was looking to complete a degree with a competing design school.
“Les Taylor knew the Abbott family. [Frances] wanted to do something related to creativity and styling. She was going to go to one of our competitors. I think it was Billy Blue [a design school in North Sydney],” the source told NM.
“Leanne got the Chairman of the Board [Taylor] to tell [Frances] she had the offer of a scholarship.”
A few years later, in the run-up to the 2013 federal election, Ms Whitehouse became increasingly excited at the prospect of a Liberal win, the staffer said.
“She said to me something like, ‘Do you know what this could mean to Whitehouse if [Abbott] gets in?’ 22 May 2014:

FORMER classmates of Tony Abbott’s daughter are furious that she was awarded a $60,000 design degree scholarship.
The Prime Minister defended his daughter Frances yesterday after it was revealed she won a $60,000 scholarship in 2011 to Sydney’s elite Whitehouse Institute of Design, whose chairman Les Taylor is a longtime friend of Mr Abbott and a Liberal Party donor.
Chad Mason, 20, studied for the $68,000 Bachelor of Design in styling and creative direction with Frances in 2011 and said her being awarded the scholarship was “beyond a joke”.
“Having studied in the same classes alongside Tony Abbott’s daughter … I can assure you that there were no scholarships awarded to any other students in our cohort, and I can definitely say that I studied with some extremely talented people who were more deserving of a $60,000 scholarship,” Mr Mason said….

Pedestrian Daily 22 May 2014:

Student #1: We always knew that they were playing favourites. We always knew that Les Taylor was a friend of the Abbott family. Leanne [Whitehouse, owner, founder and Managing Director of the Institute] loved to say how Tony Abbott's daughter was attending Whitehouse. So it became a very good talking point for her, I believe. It looked good for Whitehouse to have Frances there.

Student #2: No not really. When it first came out that Frances was Tony Abbott's daughter I feel like even some of the teachers were surprised that they were related.  
Student #3: No, not at all. I guess with Whitehouse because the classes are a lot smaller a lot of the students had personal relationships with the faculty. But not to the extent that is obviously was with Fran. I think with Leanne it was more about the prestige of having Fran there than it was about the quality of her work or creativity.  

The Sydney Morning Herald 23 May 2014:

Because Frances indubitably did receive that scholarship because of who she is not because of her extraordinary ability, above and beyond all her fellow students.  That is my solid opinion. I came to it because I know that she will have been gifted, smiled and enveloped in a swaddling of gratuitous entitlements ever since her father began climbing the political power beanstalk….
This scholarship does appear to have spontaneously materialised almost exclusively because of Frances’ DNA rather than her portfolio and that, to my mind, was an awful thing to do to her. If it was a gratuitous hand-out, then it was an insult to her fellow students by the Whitehouse Institute of Design.
And her father should have foreseen that this could hurt Frances as much as him and he should have declined or declared the scholarship, just to be safe. If not for himself, for his daughter’s reputation. 
Poor kid. It’s one of those first-world, one percenter sort of problems that come from privilege and wealth. Not something my feral five will probably ever have to encounter. Lucky them. 

New Matilda 24 May2014:

The Whitehouse Institute of Design has labeled claims published in New Matilda overnight that owner Leanne Whitehouse lobbied Prime Minister Tony Abbott in front of 400 people as “ridiculous”, describing her comments to Mr Abbott about red tape as “teasing”.

New Matilda 24 May 2014:

The Prime Minister’s daughter was hand-picked to help lobby a federal government regulator for course accreditations worth potentially millions of dollars on the basis of her “merit” as a student, a prestigious Sydney design college has confirmed….
Leaked documents obtained by New Matilda reveal that late last year, Ms Abbott was one of just a handful of students from more than 400 put forward by Whitehouse to be interviewed by assessors from the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. TEQSA is the federal government regulator responsible for approving or denying an application from Whitehouse to launch a new Masters of Design course, and the re-accreditation of existing courses.
That application was ultimately successful. Ms Abbott has since moved to Melbourne to enroll in the course, securing a job at Whitehouse’s Melbourne campus while she waits for it to begin later this year. Ms Abbott appears to be the only one of 74 employees with no defined role, according to leaked documents….
In the latest twist, assessors from TEQSA visited the Sydney campus of Whitehouse in November 2013 - two months after the Prime Minister won office - to view the facilities, and to interview staff and students selected by Whitehouse.
Ms Abbott was one of eight students from a body of more than 400 chosen to be interviewed.
An internal Whitehouse document obtained by New Matilda, titled ‘TEQSA Staff & Student profiles’, provides assessors with detail about their experiences at the prestigious design school.
In her profile, Ms Abbott heaps praise on the Whitehouse Institute and describes her experience at the school as “life-changing”.
“This year has been a whirlwind experience for me,” Ms Abbott wrote.
“I thought that it was going to be life changing and it has been, although for all the reasons I didn’t expect.
“Through completing my major project, I am beginning to understand what I want to do. Many opportunities have emerged, and doors have opened.
“I am currently reflecting on my creative practice, and looking forward to the future – including working with the many talented creative I have met in the past few years.”
New Matilda makes no assertion that Ms Abbott's comments were not genuine, nor that she was not a student of merit. However the Whitehouse Institute declined to comment on the appropriateness of the Prime Minister's daughter being put forward, nor would it comment on claims from Whitehouse insiders that assessors were not informed Ms Abbott was attending the design school on the secret $60,000 scholarship….

Pedestrian Daily 27 May 2014:

Though both the Prime Minister's office and the Institute themselves have been adamant that Ms Abbott's scholarship was awarded on merit through a non-advertised and discretionary scholarship known as the Chairman's or Managing Director's scholarship, questions have been raised about the nature of that so-called "merit" due to the fact that the scholarship was kept secret from students and most high-level staff at the school, and was not advertised before its awarding, nor announced afterwards. In fact, it seems that in the entire history of the school, the scholarship had only ever been awarded once before. Despite questioning, the school refused to disclose who that other recipient was.

And, as it turns out, there seems to be a very good reason that they're preferring to be tight-lipped on that one. Speaking with Studio 10, New Matilda's editor Chris Graham revealed that the only other recipient of the scholarship was Billy Whitehouse. That surname is not a coincidence, as she is the daughter of the Leanne Whitehouse, the founder and owner of the Whitehouse Institute.

So while every other student who attends the institute leaves there with an initial HECS Debt of some $68,000 - a debt that will increase at a far more rapid rate thanks to the re-aligning of University fee interest rates set forth in this year's budget - the two students who receive a doggedly clandestine free ride are the daughter of the school's owner and the daughter of the Prime Minister.

Awarded on "merit." Yeah, righto.

Montage of Tony Abbott & family on the campaign trail

Memo to Frances Abbott,
You agreed to actively campaign on behalf of a high-profile political relative and this is what happens.
Your life comes under regular scrutiny and, matters you would perhaps like to keep private go global.
You are not a victim of this media focus - you were an adult when you courted attention and very obviously enjoyed the spotlight.
You became a 'public' figure by consent.
 You cannot complain if you don't like the form this attention takes post-election.