Archive for January, 2019

  • Labor regains its heartland with Nuatali Nelmes as lord mayor

    Date: 2019.01.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    SWEET VICTORY: Nuatali Nelmes is congratulated by supporters after winning the vote for Newcastle lord mayor. Picture: Max Mason-HubersEDITORIAL: Labor’s Newcastle resurgence
    Nanjing Night Net

    THE seismic shift of political power in Newcastle has been completed with Labor regaining control of Newcastle council in a crushing win at the weekend’s lord mayoral byelection.

    Labor’s Nuatali Nelmes romped home in Saturday’s poll and with support from the Greens, will control the council until the next election in 2016.

    The win means Newcastle has regained its mantle as ‘‘Labor heartland’’ and has control of local, state and federal offices for the first time since 1998 when Greg Heys was the city’s lord mayor.

    How effective they are in dealing with Liberal state and federal governments now becomes the city’s biggest challenge.

    Ms Nelmes, the daughter of former councillor Paul Scobie, becomes only the second woman to win the lord mayoral role, behind the popular Joy Cummings who served two stints in the 1970s.

    Saturday’s byelection provided a decisive win for the 38-year-old Merewether resident, earning more than 42per cent of first preference votes.

    Independent candidate Brad Luke provided the only real competition but fell more than 15,000 votes short of a win.

    Greens candidate Therese Doyle earned almost 14per cent of the primary vote with independent Aaron Buman further behind with slightly more than 11per cent.

    Spending Sunday with her husband and children, Ms Nelmes said she was keen to get on with the job. At the top of her agenda was making the council ‘‘more open and transparent’’, she said.

    Among her other priorities was restoring funding to war memorial services, pumping $90,000 into the Renew Newcastle scheme, restoring environmental programs and pushing for state and federal funding for the expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery.

    ‘‘We need to continue the revitalisation of our city and, to be honest, a lot of people I have spoken to are not happy about the rail line being cut,’’ she said.

    ‘‘They feel like they’ve been cheated. They want improved public transport, not less. We need to be sending that message to the state government.’’

    The cost of those promises and restoring the services slashed by the council in recent years as it turned its finances away from insolvency will be Ms Nelmes’ biggest challenge, but she said the money would be found.

    Mr Luke said he hoped the council would continue to focus on the city’s urban renewal and not get sucked into another spending spree, which would undo its hard-won financial recovery.

    ‘‘At the end of the day, you’ve got to put your hand up and run, especially when you have no confidence in the other candidates who are running,’’ Mr Luke said.

    Mr Buman, he said, had taken a lot of his votes away, ‘‘which was unfortunate’’.

    ‘‘The people have voted, they’ve made their choice and we all have to get on with things,’’ he said.

    Mr Buman was disappointed with his result, saying he’d be unlikely to seek election again. While he paid tribute to Ms Nelmes’ win, he said he feared for the council’s future.

    ‘‘I take my hat off to Nuatali,’’ he said. ‘‘But I can’t say I have high hopes for Newcastle council. I think it’s about to implode. Therese Doyle will probably be elected the deputy – we’re in trouble.’’

    Ms Doyle and the Greens polled better than Mr Buman, saying the substantial swing to Labor was ‘‘a rejection of the crony politics that has been the hallmark of council business for the past two years’’.

    ‘‘Now we need to act on our promises to the people of the city and make sure they have a real voice in all future decisions about the city’s direction,’’ she said.

    The election of Ms Nelmes means that yet another byelection will need to be held in the city to fill the councillor seat she is about to vacate. That byelection will likely be held in February and will require the residents of Ward 3 to vote again. Ward 3 includes the suburbs essentially bordered by Kotara, New Lambton, Jesmond and Waratah.

  • Sacked Bishop Bill Morris to campaign for ordination of married men

    Date: 2019.01.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Former bishop William Morris. Photo: Nev Madsen/Toowoomba ChronicleSacked Catholic Bishop Bill Morris will campaign for the ordination of married men, during a book signing tour to Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
    Nanjing Night Net

    He says he was treated unfairly and deprived of natural justice by the late Pope Benedict who had a “closed door approach” during a private meeting in Rome.

    “I experienced a monologue, there was definitely no dialogue,” Bishop Morris said from Brisbane on Sunday.

    “My disappointment was that he [Pope Benedict] didn’t listen to me.

    “He repeated exactly what had been given to him and what was given to him had been wrong.

    “The facts were wrong, the interpretation was wrong and therefore his take on that, accusing me of doing something that I didn’t do on the grounds of the advice he was given [was wrong].”

    The controversial cleric was rushed to hospital in Brisbane with pneumonia in June on the morning he was due to fly to Canberra to launch his book – Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three.

    He said he was now well enough to do the national tour where he will speak out about his treatment.

    He was forced out of his position in Toowoomba in 2011 after a group of conservative “temple police” parishioners complained directly to the Vatican about his preaching which included discussion about ordaining women and married men. The book notes that in 1998 Pope John Paul II effectively made it an offence for the faithful to discuss the possibility of the ordination of women.

    Bishop Morris had raised issues including married clergy, female priests and the possibility of recognising Protestant orders, in an Advent pastoral letter in 2006 that discussed the declining number of priests in far-flung parishes like Toowoomba.

    He was told in a meeting with Pope Benedict that it was “God’s will that you resign”.

    He says under pressure, he agreed to take early retirement but was still active in the Toowoomba and Brisbane dioceses.

    He told Pope Benedict during the meeting in 2009 of a sex abuse case at a Toowoomba school but the Pope dismissed the bishop’s request to stay at his post to deal with it.

    Bishop Morris said the atmosphere within the Catholic Church was changing under Pope Francis who encouraged dialogue.

    “I’d say in the process of dialogue the truth [about me] would have come out,” he said.

    Bishop Morris will speak at the Centre for Christianity and Culture at Barton at 7.30pm on Monday, December 1.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Failing waste company leaves mountain of garbage, multimillion-dollar headache

    Date: 2019.01.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Rubbish heap: Machinery stopped at the Skippy Bins site in West Belconnen. Photo: Jeffrey ChanA failing waste management company has left a mountain of rubbish at a disused depot near the NSW border, potentially burdening ACT taxpayers with a multimillion-dollar clean-up bill.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Skippy Bins, a Canberra-owned company offering a waste collection and processing service, is struggling with cash flow problems and significant tax debts, forcing the Tax Office to apply to wind it up.

    The company is now in voluntary administration and trying to find a way to keep itself afloat.

    Its West Belconnen waste processing depot lies in a state of abandonment, after being reclaimed by the ACT government early last month.

    The government is now dealing with a mountain of refuse, and says it will chase the costs of any clean-up from the company.

    The ACT is claiming $5.89 million in costs from the business, according to documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

    Liquidator Steven Gladman, of Hall Chadwick, said the most of the ACT’s claim was for clean-up costs.

    The government is assessing the piles of rubbish, which include building waste, for hazardous materials. An engineering report has also been commissioned.

    The depot is fenced off and the ACT Property Group has changed the locks and restricted access to protect the public.

    Skippy Bins director Michael Froome declined to comment about the situation.

    But it is understood the company, which has operated for 12 years, is confident it can survive and avoid taxpayers forking out for the clean-up.

    Financial documents show MNG Investments, which trades as Skippy Bins, was being pursued for $619,000 by the ATO, and had failed to lodge all of its returns.

    It has a long list of other creditors, and more than 50 individuals and organisations were listed at a creditors meeting last week.

    Mr Gladman said the other debts included unpaid tip fees owed to the ACT Government, and general trade creditors, such as Telstra, the company’s suppliers, equipment repairers, fuel suppliers, and accountants.

    The company’s core business is providing skip bins to residential and commercial clients in Canberra, Queanbeyan and Murrumbateman for waste. The bins are then picked up and the rubbish processed at the depot near the north-western ACT/NSW border.

    The waste is sorted, and recyclable material – including metal and aluminium, timber and wood, green waste, and plastic – extracted.

    Concrete and bricks are also crushed and converted into recycled concrete.

    ACT Property Group director Daniel Bailey said Skippy Bins is currently trying to trade its way out of debt.

    “If the operator can trade his way out of debt with the assistance of the liquidator there will be no public impact,” Mr Bailey said.

    The voluntary administration process is typically designed to give companies like Skippy Bins breathing room from its creditors to try and save as much of the business as possible.

    Mr Gladman said the voluntary administration period would last about a month, giving the company time to come up with a plan to save itself.

    If that plan is better for creditors than liquidation, the liquidator can decide to keep the company alive.

    The next meeting of creditors is due in about two weeks. Signs are up around the site advising that the property has been reclaimed by the ACT Property Group.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Police on the scrap heap: The hidden plight of injured officers

    Date: 2019.01.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    ‘I can actually smell the blood’: injured and discharged police officer Chadd Brunner. 
    Nanjing Night Net

    In his surreal nightmare world, Chadd Brunner finds himself walking through the basement of Penrith police station, its walls and floor covered in blood.

    “I can actually smell the blood, I can see the bodies and there is a car accident I attended on the M4 – under the basement. It’s all jumbled,” he says.

    The nightmares began after the workplace bullying started.

    Brunner, a former police officer, alleges he was repeatedly bullied at work and he has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Both he and his wife Debbie, who was physically injured at work, have been medically discharged.

    Between them, they gave 30 years of service to the NSW Police Force. They are among hundreds of officers whose injuries have rendered them useless for further police service and who are in limbo waiting for insurance claims to be determined. Many have been waiting for years while enduring what they describe as excessive levels of surveillance by insurance companies, compounding their mental health injuries.

    Debbie says surveillance officers have had her home under constant watch.

    Chadd, like other police officers in a group known on Facebook as the Forgotten 300, is fearful every time he steps outside his home and has considered suicide.

     

    The Forgotten 300 is an advocacy group for hundreds of injured police who have claims with the insurer MetLife, which lost its government contract in 2012 when the police death and disability scheme was overhauled. Those who have waited years to have their claims determined feel abandoned.

    NSW MPs are now calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the plight of injured police and the hidden number who take their own lives.

    Greens MP David Shoebridge is holding a parliamentary forum next month where police will share their personal stories.

    Mr Shoebridge believes a special commission of inquiry is in order to review “clear failings in the system and to make recommendations to remedy them”.

    “The NSW Police Force treats its officers like disposable assets, once injured they are thrown on the scrap heap.”Metlife’s delay in deciding cases, along with their aggressive use of surveillance, can seriously aggravate an officer’s psychological injury. We expect police to run towards danger and put their lives at risk for the public, and in return the public owes them a duty to protect and support them if they are injured.”

    Mr Shoebridge says the government has failed to address the problem, leaving hundreds of injured police fighting long and lonely battles against “a very bloody-minded insurer”.

     

    Deborah Bryant was widowed in December last year after her husband Ashley took his own life at the age of 44, a year after being medically retired from the police force.

    Before leaving his wife and three children behind, Mr Bryant called 000 saying: “I suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. I can no longer live with the trauma of it and I want this to go to the coroner. There needs to be more things put in place for what happens. For partners of those that suffer, because I suffer and so do the partners. And there has to be more done for them. All right, I have no more to say.”

    Mrs Bryant said her husband, a detective sergeant who had dealt with trauma for 24 years, took his life after his insurance claim was denied. He was overwhelmed that he was letting down his family. She said police with serious mental health conditions should not be put under surveillance.

    Police Minister Stuart Ayres said he was disappointed former officers were experiencing stress as a result of surveillance techniques used by MetLife.

    “The NSW Police Force has advised me it has met with MetLife and the First State Superannuation Trustee Corporation to address the delay in assessing claims,” he said.

    “The health and well-being of police officers is of paramount importance to this government. I hope that with improved processes now agreed with MetLife, stresses experienced by former police officers can be minimised.”

    A MetLife spokeswoman said post-traumatic stress disorder was a serious and complex issue.

    “MetLife understands the concerns of former police officers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress and is working closely with all parties involved to resolve outstanding claims,” she said.

    The spokeswoman said MetLife had paid more than $156 million in benefits to former NSW police officers.

    NSW Police Association president Scott Weber said insurance company investigations were not cost efficient because they compounded mental injuries.”It is putting more pressure on injured workers. It exacerbates the injury and increases the insurance payment,” he said.

    “It’s time insurance companies looked at harm minimisation and dealing with the payment instead of trying to get out of their responsibilities.”

    There were 267 outstanding claims with MetLife in August, including 220 related to psychological injuries, according to a government response to a question on notice.

    “We still have injured police officers still left in limbo for a long time,” Mr Weber said.

     

    The Brunners receive a fraction of their former incomes – unlike injured police officers before them who received so-called “mortgage-busting” lump-sum payments of up to $400,000 before the government changes to the scheme in 2012.

    But more painful than their loss of income has been the lack of support from former colleagues.

    Debbie said Chadd had gained 30 kilograms, and had become a smoker and heavy drinker. It has put a strain on their marriage.

    “It totally turned our life as a family upside down,” she said.

    “I nearly lost Chad on several occasions this year and when you don’t get the support to cope with that, it tore our marriage apart. We separated for a period of time this year. It got to the point where we couldn’t cope with our own injuries and what we were dealing with individually, let alone trying to deal with each other’s. Many languish on scrap heap since insurer swap

    Thousands of uniformed police officers rallied outside NSW Parliament in Sydney in November 2011 to protest against the government’s plans to slash compensation payments to officers who are injured or disabled in the line of duty. They defied orders from Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione against wearing their blue uniforms during the protest.

    The officers were furious with proposed changes to the police death and disability scheme, which would restrict some compensation payouts and place a greater emphasis on rehabilitating injured officers back to work.

    Mike Gallacher, who was police minister at the time, said spiralling costs of the death and disability scheme were unsustainable and had delivered lump-sum payments of more than $400,000, which had discouraged officers from returning to work. He said the government’s priority was to get injured police officers working again.

    When the insurance scheme was overhauled in 2012, the government awarded the contract previously held by MetLife to another insurer called TAL. There are more than 230 injured police still waiting to have claims settled by MetLife. which has put them under excessive levels of surveilance

    The NSW Auditor General found that injured officers had cost the NSW Police Force more than $110 million in 2006–07. Costs had been increasing since the introduction of the death and disability scheme in 2005. In 2011–12 the scheme cost $260 million, more than 10 times what was anticipated in 2005.

    In a report released earlier this year, the Auditor General said up to 526 police officers a year were receiving large lump sum benefits and medical discharge following long-term sick leave under the old scheme.

    Since the introduction of the new scheme, the number of medical discharges have fallen dramatically under a policy to return injured officers to duty as soon as possible.

    The Auditor General reported the new scheme had reduced the length of time injured officers are on benefits. It has also decreased costly claims for psychological injuries and the number of injured officers returning to work on rehabilitation. This had been achieved through reducing the incentive to claim a lump sum and leave the police force.

    “Payments to injured officers have decreased substantially when compared to the previous death and disability scheme,” the Auditor General said.

    However, the improvement in performance has not yet resulted in reduced premium rates … which are nearly double the statutory target of 4.6 per cent of police salaries.

    A spokeswoman from MetLife said MetLife has paid more than $156 million in benefits to former NSW police officers.

    MetLife hasMetlife has said that in the last 12 months it had considerably boosted its dedicated assessment team and reduced the number of cases significantly.

    “False claims can have a direct impact on the future costs and benefits for current serving officers and consequently it is important to ensure claims are handled with rigor and diligence.

    “We continue to work directly with the police commissioner and his team, our superannuation fund partner, reinsurers and other specialist parties to ensure that all genuine claims are assessed and paid as soon as possible.”

    The new government insurer, TAL, said it recognised the complexity of some claims and was working works with all stakeholders to finalise claims as quickly as possible.

    “Many of the claims are of a psychological nature and as part of the process to determine if the illness is permanent,” the spokesman said.

    “TAL, where possible, also explores return to health and work options to help get people back on their feet.”

    “TAL’s primary goal is to service the needs of our partners and customers in accordance with the agreements we have with them and to meet our obligations to pay all valid financial protection claims.”

    TAL said it paid out over $843 million in claims in 2013, a 45 per cent increase on 2012 when $580 million was paid.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.