Saturday, 26 May 2018

Quotes of the Week


“The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny.” [Journalist Chris Hedges, writing in truthdig, 20 May 2018]

“…it is notable that in the past few weeks I've received close to 1,000 representations from local Greenway residents by email, phone and in person regarding the latest reports of systemic abuse in the live animal trade for sheep.”  [Labor MP for Greenway Michelle Rowland, Hansard,  21 May 2018]

“If you were even peripherally aware of history, you’d know that people subjected to lifelong exploitation, forced into a precarious existence or buried under annually compounding debts will, eventually, wheel guillotines into the town square and start taking names.” [Journalist and former Australian senator Scott Ludlam writing in The Guardian, 25 May 2018]

Tweets of the Week



Note: Cr Keith Williams is deputy mayor of Ballina Shire Council on the NSW Far North Coast.


Friday, 25 May 2018

Patagonia Australia held a "Never Town" conservation activism event at Yamba in May 2018


On Friday 18 May 2018 Patagonia Australia held a “Never Town” film showing and information night on environmental and conservation issues affecting the Clarence Coast.

NEVER TOWN TRAILER from Patagonia Australia on Vimeo.

The evening started with live music and a slide show against the sides of the water tower on Pilot Hill overlooking the Clarence River mouth and ocean at Yamba.

The good-sized crowd that gathered reflected the make-up of the Lower Clarence - retirees, young adults, families with children, along with local business owners and surfing enthusiasts. At least one Clarence Valley councillor was there.

Welcome to country was given by “Fox” Laurie accompanied by DJ Eamens on the didgeridoo.

Judith Melville spoke on some of the issues surrounding the state government’s proposal to designate Port of Yamba-Clarence River an official cruise ship destination and possibly build an international cruise ship terminal.

Dianne Chapman from the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation spoke of the Yaegl community’s connection to country and commitment to protect Clarence Valley land and waters.

After the film ended a Valley Watch Inc. petition was sent round the audience with this wording:

“We, the undersigned, respectfully call on the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, Minister Melinda Pavey (Roads, Maritime and Freight) and Minister Andrew Constance (Transport and Infrastructure) to reject any proposals to allow cruise ships to enter the Port of Yamba or Clarence River estuary.

The Clarence River estuary is an integral part of a valuable Clarence Valley tourism sector which contributes over $300 million to the Clarence Valley’s annual income and employs more than 2000 people. To put that at risk for the dubious benefit to be derived from a brief morning visit is unacceptable, given the threats that a 4,000 tonne, 90 metre long cruise ship pose to the estuary, the fishing industry and Yamba/Iluka’s reputation as a clean, green holiday destination, and to the Dirrangun Reef, which is protected under the Native Title Act (1993).”

Anyone wishing to sign this petition can call in at the Valley Watch booth at Yamba River Markets held on the fourth Sunday of every month at Ford Park next to the ferry jetty. 

The next three market days are Sunday 27 May, 24 June and 22 July 2018.

Now customers can't even trust their local bank tellers


It seems schoolchildren are considered fair game by the big banks......


Junkee, 19 May 2018:

Oh boy. This is a tough one. An investigate report by Fairfax Media has found that Commonwealth Bank employees set up thousands of fraudulent children’s savings accounts in order to meet internal targets and earn bonuses.

That’s right folks. Your mates the Dollarmites? They were in it up to their neck.
According to the report by Fairfax reporter Adele Ferguson, the scam involved employees illegitimately activating Youthsaver accounts that had been set up by parents via the Commonwealth Bank’s school banking program (better known at Dollarmites) but did not contain any actual money. Since the sign-up would not count towards internal sales targets unless a deposit was made in the first 30 days, employees would deposit a small amount of money into the account themselves to ensure that it was counted.

The matter first came to the attention of senior management at the bank in 2013. An internal investigation found that at 150 branches, as many as 5347 Youthsaver accounts contained less than $1 in deposits. According to the Fairfax report, “managers were asked to look into them to see if they had been fraudulently set up using illegitimate sources of funds”, but the bank chose not to broaden the investigation to include the almost 900 other branches that were in operation at the time.

Ultimately, no disciplinary action was taken against employees. In an email obtained by Fairfax, one senior manager said “the issue is widespread, it would seem unfair to name a handful when more are involved”.

The bank did not inform any of the customers or schools involved.


The school banking and customer referral scandals came to light inside the bank shortly after CBA's now chief executive, Matt Comyn, was appointed to run the retail operation in 2012….

“While this practice did not financially harm any of our customers, it was a breach of their trust. For that I’m deeply sorry. As CBA’s new chief executive, my number one priority is to expedite changes that will prevent any behaviour that undermines our customers' trust in us – and to remove any CBA employee who knowingly acts against our customers’ interests.”

The country’s largest consumer group, CHOICE, seized on the scandal to renew its calls to ban school banking schemes.

“It's a pretty basic expectation that bank staff will handle money honestly. Whether it involves five cents or $5 million, any mishandling of funds goes to the heart of trust in the institution,” CHOICE chief executive Alan Kirkland said.

He said if senior staff knew it was happening on a mass scale and did nothing about it, they were complicit in that fraud.

 “This raises serious questions about the culture of the entire bank,” he said


While over at the Banking and Finance Royal Commission………

ABC News, 21 May 2018:

The banking royal commission has heard an elderly, seriously ill woman faced homelessness after her daughter's business failed.

Carolyn Flanagan cannot read or write due to blindness caused by glaucoma, she has trouble speaking due to the effects of cancer surgery, suffers memory loss and has osteoporosis, among other medical problems.

The pensioner sought help from Legal Aid NSW when Westpac tried to take her home, which was used to guarantee her daughter's loan. A complaint was taken to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which found in Westpac's favour.

It was only a last-ditch effort by Ms Flanagan's Legal Aid lawyers that managed to keep her in her home.

Solicitor Dana Beiglari told the hearing her manager at the time "contacted another consumer advocate to see if he had a senior contact at Westpac who we could escalate this matter to, given our client was facing homelessness in her old age".

Ms Beiglari sent a letter to Westpac outlining Ms Flanagan's medical circumstances and managed to secure a "life interest" in the property for her, which means she can remain in the home until she dies or decides to sell.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Michael Hodge QC asked Ms Beiglari about the Westpac employee's response to the case.

"What that employee of Westpac expressed to you was surprise with the thought that Westpac would be evicting and it wasn't in line with what Westpac would normally do?" he asked.

"Yes, that's correct," Ms Beiglari answered.

Ms Flanagan maintained a sense of humour under questioning. After Mr Hodge listed off her litany of health issues, including depression, she quipped "that'd depress anybody".

She gave her evidence through a video link as she was too unwell to travel. 

Westpac's lawyers questioned her recollection of events and the amount of the loan.
Westpac executive Alastair Welsh followed Ms Flanagan and Ms Beiglari in giving evidence. He said there was nothing "technically" wrong with Ms Flanagan being allowed to act as a guarantor.

"My review of the file shows we followed the process I would want the bank to follow," Mr Welsh said.

However, he admitted there were some problems with the bank's handling of the case once the loan failed.

The inquiry heard it was Westpac policy to "exercise extreme caution" with parental guarantees.

Mr Welsh admitted there were warning signs in Ms Flanagan's case that should have been observed by the banker.

"She suffers from quite debilitating health conditions. Would that be a relevant factor?" Mr Hodge asked.

Mr Welsh agreed and said there were no comments on Ms Flanagan's file noting her condition.

The bank manager involved is no longer employed by Westpac.

ACCC: Australians lost $340 million to scammers in 2017




Thursday, 24 May 2018

Is the war about which political party showed the most disrespect towards the Australian Constitution and Parliament about to spill more blood?


Newcastle Herald, 18 May 2018:

The citizenship crisis could claim more government MPs after Attorney-General Christian Porter said they had to prove their possible dual citizenships were renounced.

Labor says this puts Treasurer Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and 12 other coalition MPs in danger.

Mr Morrison's maternal grandfather was born in New Zealand, while Mr McCormack's was born in Greece in 1896.

The citizenship test in the constitution has already forced more than a dozen MPs to quit because they were citizens of foreign countries at the election.

"The requirement is that you have to show that you've completed the renunciation process," Mr Porter told reporters in Perth on Friday.

"You need to evidence not merely the start of the renunciation process but its completion.

"So when people haven't done that, no matter who they are, they need to do so."

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says it sets a new benchmark that goes too far.

"Mr Porter has created a test that many of his own MPs fail. This is a very dangerous path for the government to go down," Mr Dreyfus said.

He says 14 coalition MPs have not shown evidence of completed renunciations, despite having parents or grandparents born overseas.

Mr Porter had earlier attacked Labor MP Emma Husar because she had not provided documented proof she had renounced Polish citizenship, which she was entitled to through her paternal grandparents.

Ms Husar says she wrote to the Polish consulate to renounce any entitlement 16 days before her nomination for federal parliament in 2016.

But Mr Porter says Ms Husar had not put on the citizenship register any documented evidence her renouncement was accepted.

Ms Husar told The Australian on Friday she had nothing more to add.

"You have to have something to renounce. You have to have something in order to give it back. I am not a dual citizen," she said.

Under new rules set to be introduced before upcoming by-elections, candidates have to give their citizenship information to the Australian Electoral Commission.

It will then be made public, but the AEC won't be given the power to adjudicate the eligibility of candidates.

News.com.au, 18 May 2018:

NEW TEST FOR MP CITIZENSHIP?

* If renunciations are required, as the Attorney-General suggests, then there are eligibility doubts over more federal MPs.

COALITION

* Scott Morrison: Maternal grandfather born in NZ, no renunciation confirmation provided.

* Michael McCormack: Maternal grandfather born in Greece. Greek Embassy does not have him registered on Greek municipal records, a requirement of being a citizen.

* Zed Seselja: Both parents, all grandparents born overseas, no renunciation confirmation provided. Croatian embassy says he is not a citizen.

* Julia Banks: Greek father and four Greek grandparents. Greek Embassy does not have her registered on Greek municipal records, a requirement of being a citizen.

* Alex Hawke: Mother and maternal grandparents were born in Greece. Greek embassy does not have him registered on Greek municipal records, a requirement of being a citizen.

* Craig Kelly: South African maternal grandfather, no renunciation confirmation provided.

* Nola Marino: No documents proving she does not get Italian citizenship from her husband. Father born in the USA, maternal grandfather born in Sweden, paternal grandparents born in Italy.

* Llew O'Brien: Paternal grandfather born in Canada, no renunciation confirmation provided.

* Ken O'Dowd: Paternal grandmother born in the Netherlands, no renunciation confirmation provided.

* Tony Pasin: Italian mother and father, grandparents on both sides, document says he is not eligible to apply for Italian citizenship, but not whether he is a citizen.

* Angus Taylor: Maternal grandparents born in NZ, no renunciation confirmation provided.

* Alan Tudge - Maternal grandfather born in Canada, no renunciation confirmation provided.

* Tim Wilson: Maternal grandfather born in India, no renunciation confirmation provided.

LABOR

* Emma Husar: Polish grandparents, checked that she did not have citizenship but renounced it anyway, no renunciation confirmation provided.

* Mark Dreyfus: Jewish father and paternal grandparents fled Nazi Germany and stripped of their citizenship. No renunciation confirmation provided.

* Michael Danby: Jewish father and paternal grandparents were born in Germany. Father was stripped of citizenship when he arrived in Australia. No renunciation confirmation provided.

Sometimes it is hard to believe how bone-achingly stupid governments can be…… Part Two



This was an example of Smart and Skilled/VET at work in 2016…….

The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2016:

The NSW government has given tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to help train staff at private corporations including global giant McDonalds.

A freedom of information request by the NSW Greens reveals the state government has awarded Mcdonald's Australia $1,809,485 in funding for vocational education and training.

In the second quarter of 2016 McDonald's reported net income of $1.09 billion, or $1.25 per share, on sales of$6.26 billion.

This was Smart and Skilled/VET-HELP on a national level in 2017……
via @TAFEeducation


According to the Commonwealh Ombudsman, between 1 July 2017 and 31 March 2018 there were 5,193 VET loan assistance complaints lodged by students, many of whom had discovered they had been signed up to a student loan without their knowledge or discovered that the loan amount is larger than they expected.