Anti-Islam Senate candidate claims she is being discriminated against by bosses

December 23, 2015

 Heath Aston

Political reporter

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Kim Vuga (left), while on <i>Go Back to Where You Come From</i>.
Kim Vuga (left), while on Go Back to Where You Come From. Photo: SBS

A Senate candidate running on an anti-Muslim, anti-immigration platform says she is being discriminated against by her public service bosses over her contentious political views.

Kim Vuga, a one-time participant on the SBS program Go Back to Where You Came From who went on to form the political party Love Australia or Leave, was given seven days to resign by her superiors at Townsville Hospital and Health Service in north Queensland.

In a letter from the chief operating officer of Townsville Hospital, Danielle Hornsby, Ms Vuga was told that section 44 of the constitution requires that a state public sector employee has to resign before contesting an election.

“I am seeking your immediate action to advise me of your resignation within seven days of receipt of this letter,” Ms Hornsby wrote on December 17.

In the letter she cites the case of Phil Cleary, the independent who won the Melbourne seat of Wills in a 1992 byelection sparked by the retirement of former prime minister Bob Hawke. The High Court declared his election void because he was still employed as a teacher in Victoria – despite him being on unpaid leave at the time of the ballot.

But constitutional expert Professor Anne Twomey told Fairfax Media that section 44 did not apply to candidates like Ms Vuga who have publicly expressed their intention to run in an upcoming election that has not been called.

She said the constitution only required that a public servant resign by the time nominations close, generally two to three weeks out from polling day.

“Given that we are nowhere near the date that a Senate election will be called, section 44 is completely irrelevant,” Professor Twomey said.

Ms Vuga, who works as a community mental health officer, said her superiors did not like her strident political views and they were seeking to get her out of the public service because of them.

“I’ve been discriminated against. I believe I am too controversial for them,” she said.

“They want me to be unemployed just before Christmas. It’s un-Australian, it’s unfair. What happened to looking after workers? If these bullies and thugs can do this to me they can do it to anyone.”

Among Love Australia or Leave’s most controversial policies is a full ban on any more Muslim immigration into Australia.

“Our cultures are incompatible and we need to be sorting out the Muslim problem that exists here before we take any more [refugees and Muslim immigrants],” Ms Vuga told Fairfax Media in November.

Ms Vuga wrote back to Ms Hornsby on Monday, refusing to resign.

“I am not yet a politician as stated. I am not yet a candidate, however as I stated, I will be intending to contest as a QLD Senate candidate at the 2016 election representing Love Australia or Leave Party,” she wrote.

A reply letter from Ms Hornsby, sent on December 22, appears to suggest the Health Service could back down.

Ms Hornsby pointed to the Queensland Health policy.

“I note that the policy references section 44 of the Commonwealth constitution, and then provides further context by referring to decisions made by the High Court of Australia, to provide further guidance to help relieve ambiguity. The High Court of Australia determined that a Victorian school teacher (state employed) was declared invalid because he had not resigned from public employment. The policy indicates that this would take effect before nominating with the Australian Electoral Commission to contest the election,” she wrote.

“My intention in writing to you was to inform you of this information, which may impact on you.

“I apologise if my original letter did not make this intention clear.”

Contacted by Fairfax Media, Ms Hornsby said she was unable to comment.

Source : Canberra Times

Tasmania celebrates Christmas with a scorcher

December 25, 2015 8:53pm

Source : The Mercury

Victorians ‘need to stop talking about the road toll’

December 26, 2015 – 12:15AM

Adam Carey

Transport Reporter for The Age

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Alan Zimmer returns to the spot in the Dandenong Ranges where he lost an arm in a motorbike accident.

Alan Zimmer returns to the spot in the Dandenong Ranges where he lost an arm in a motorbike accident. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Alan Zimmer was winding through the Dandenong Ranges, just 20 minutes into a two-week motorbike ride to northern NSW, when a learner driver in a 4WD coming the other way rounded the bend too wide, crossed the double white lines and sideswiped him.

Or at least, that’s what Mr Zimmer’s riding companion saw.

He was knocked into a 12-week coma and still has no memory of the crash more than eight years later.

He also has no right arm. Doctors could never get it moving again and 18 months after he was hit, he had the limb amputated from the shoulder down.

“My nerves were ripped out of my spine so my arm was useless anyway,” he says, the loss something he has long since come to terms with.

Born left-handed, his strict and old-school German parents forced him to sit on his left hand until he became right-handed in many things and he had to relearn basic tasks.

“It’s like a rug is pulled out from under you,” he says. “It’s hard to cope with simple things like eating a boiled egg, going to the toilet, spreading butter.”

Mr Zimmer is 62 and in early retirement owing to his injury, which put paid to a rewarding career in heavy engineering that had given him the means to travel the world, working with his hands.

He revisited the scene of the crash with Fairfax Media this week – a bend near the top of a steep rise on Paternoster Road, just outside the hills hamlet of Cockatoo.

Incredibly, he travelled there on his custom-made motorbike, which has an entire set of controls on one handlebar.

He got his licence back less than two years after the crash.

“Some people call me an idiot, other people are proud of what I do,” he says.

It’s a different road now, still narrow and serpentine but sealed at the shoulder for much of its length as part of the federal government’s black spot funding program.

Communities across Australia compete for a slice of funding from the ongoing program, which has a pool of $500 million over four years from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

But the pool is a drop in the ocean, given road crashes cost Australia $27 billion a year, according to Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates.

This is the equivalent of 18 per cent of health expenditure and 1.8 per cent of gross domestic product.

In Victoria, the annual cost is an estimated $6 billion.

We need to stop talking about the road toll

Those big numbers tell the story of thousands of people like Mr Zimmer who are maimed or worse on the roads each year.

So far this year 247 lives have been lost and more than 6000 people have been put in hospital, Transport Accident Commission data shows.

The commission’s annual report shows that the number of claims it accepted from victims of road trauma rose to 47,204. It paid out a record $1.13 billion.

The figure grows every year as new claimants enter the scheme, some of whom require a lifetime of financial support.

Mr Zimmer’s permanent injury has left him financially dependent on the TAC, which is funded by payments made by Victorian motorists in annual vehicle registration fees.

The authority paid for his treatment and rehabilitation and a portion of his former wage, but nothing like what he would have earned if he could have continued working.

The road toll and annual claims list are blunt ways to measure the cost to the community of death and injury on the roads.

For this reason, both the TAC and Victoria Police have quietly stopped using the term “road toll”, which has defined community understanding of the impact of road trauma for generations.

Check the Victoria Police news website: a big badge on the right-hand side keeps tabs on “lives lost on the road” this year. Reference to the road toll was removed on November 1.

The head of the TAC, Joe Calafiore, argues Victorians need to stop talking about “the road toll” too, because the term fails to convey the real-life impact of road trauma. It could even be counter-productive to the authority’s 40-year goal of zero road deaths, he said.

“We’ve spoken about the road toll since the 1920s, it’s language people understand,” Mr Calafiore said. “But the word toll implies a price that has to be paid … It feels like a scoreboard. Are we up or down this year?”

The answer is up, ever so slightly.

A record low 243 road deaths was achieved in 2013, but the number rose again to 249 last year and the death of a young man in a collision between a motorcycle and a taxi on December 23 brought the figure to 250, putting “zero” lives lost even further beyond reach in 2015.

The Christmas road deaths spike is a myth

Now is a nervous time of year for road safety authorities, when Australians get in their cars and migrate en masse to holiday places.

Alcohol, fatigue from driving long distances, increased traffic on rural roads and distraction are all factors that come into play, all of which increase the risk of accidents.

Victoria Police step up enforcement and the TAC saturates the media with safety messages in a bid to stem the Christmas spike in road deaths, to the point where there is no longer a spike.

The TAC provided Fairfax Media annual figures for road deaths over the past 28 years, during the Christmas period between December 18 and January 7.

In 1987-88, 57 people died in the three-week period, making up 8 per cent of the 705 road deaths for the year.

Last year there were eight deaths in the three-week period, making up about 3 per cent of the 249 people killed.

Over the entire 28 years, 5.8 per cent of deaths happened in that three-week period, which accounts for 5.7 per cent of the year.

Even Mr Calafiore admitted to being surprised to learn the Christmas spike is a myth.

He said the increased effort by authorities was required all year if the tally of road deaths is to fall below its current plateau of about 250.

“It’s about injecting more ambition into road safety, not settling for 250 deaths,” he said.

The TAC “safe systems” approach will also require investing more into designing safer roads, streets and vehicles, so that crashes are less likely, and those that do occur are less likely to result in death or serious injury.

The TAC has not put a figure on what it will cost to reduce road deaths to zero, but the bureau report that calculated road trauma’s $27 billion annual cost also calculated what society is willing to pay: $7.7 million to avoid each road fatality.

It remains to be seen if that will be enough.

Source : The Age

Discounted women’s shoes and men’s suits to tempt last of the binge shoppers

December 25, 2015 – 11:11PM

John Thistleton

Reporter for The Canberra Times.

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Best and Less staff are excited with all the hype that goes with the biggest retailing event of the year.
From left, Julia Zordzik, Jaydel Clarke, Store manager David Layton, and Sonia Downie.

Best and Less staff are excited with all the hype that goes with the biggest retailing event of the year. From left, Julia Zordzik, Jaydel Clarke, Store manager David Layton, and Sonia Downie. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Discounts from 30 per cent to 50 per cent on women’s dresses, intimate apparel, women’s shoes, handbags and wallets, business shirts, and men’s suits will be offered across Canberra’s major shopping centres on Boxing Day.

Also expect kitchenware, tools, and gadgets to be discounted.

The search for a bargain, returning goods, and browsing will bring out another surge of shoppers. Paperchain in Manuka will open from 10am to 6pm, a shorter period than the usual 12-hour day of trading, according to co-owner Maxeme Tall.

“It’s quite busy, there are lots of people about. We tried closing once, it was very unpopular, so now we are open,” Mrs Tall said. “What often happens, people who receive gift vouchers,  it is their chance to get a book for it immediately. We get a lot of people changing books, because we give exchange vouchers. There are lots of visitors in Canberra, people come to Manuka for breakfast. The bookshop is a natural progression from there.

“There’s a lot of cafes open, there is pressure on us to open and I have staff prepared to work so we open,” she said.

Head of retail sales for Best and Less Joseph Van Dyk says customers should get in early for the best bargains at the store in Belconnen Mall.

“Normally Boxing Day is one of the biggest trading days of the year, with the great competitive offers we are  running we anticipate great results,” he said.

“Bargain hunters and mums will get a pleasant surprise when they see the great offers also running in our homewares department this year with  discounts of up to 70 per cent.

“With Boxing Day being one of the biggest trading days on the  retail calendar we have planned for additional team members to be rostered on to assist with the rushes throughout the day.

“We will have up to 50 per cent off in all departments, that’s baby, kids, ladies’ and men’s, shoes and homewares,” he said.

“Christmas is a very busy time for everyone in retail and to a large degree a self-motivating time for store teams. They love the rush and are looking forward to this busy period while enjoying the festive spirit,” Mr Van Dyk said.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said sales this year are no bigger or earlier than in 2014, and discounts of up to 50 and 60 per cent will not be unusual. Some shops will offer 75 per cent off.

“The other thing that is always huge on post-Christmas sales is bed, bath and linen wear, sheets, towels, pillows, that type of thing,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“You have specialist retailers who might be in just furniture, in beds, in just electrical, those things are going to be on sale.”

Bigger items such as televisions and furniture with $4000 to $6000 price tags are not snap decisions, whereas a pair of women’s shoes going for $100 to $150, become a snap decision, he said.

Mr Zimmerman expects more of the 30 per cent, 40 per cent and 50 per cent discounts, as opposed to the sea of 75 per cent discounts that sprung up at pre and post-Christmas sales in 2010 and 2011.

OPENING HOURS:

Canberra Centre: 8am – 7pm

Majura Park: Woolies 7am – 8pm. Big W 8am – 6pm. Toys R Us 9am-5pm.

Westfield Woden: 9am-6pm

Tuggeranong Hyperdome: 10am -4pm

Westfield Belconnen: 9am -6pm

Marketplace Gungahlin: Specialty shops 10am -4pm, Woolworths 7am-midnight, Big W

Canberra Outlet Centre, Fyshwick:  8.30am -6pm

Coles Belconnen, Woden, Jamison Centre: 8am – 8pm. Gungahlin: 7am-10pm

​Cooleman Court, Weston: 9am -5pm. Aldi 8.30am to 8pm Woolworths 7am – 10pm.

Harvey Norman Fyshwick: 9am – 5.30pm

Source : Canberra Times

Man knocked unconscious in Brighton-Le-Sands ice cream shop brawl

December 26, 2015 – 4:53AM

Kate Aubusson

Journalist

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A violent brawl left one man unconscious in Sydney’s south on Christmas Eve.

About 11pm on Thursday emergency services were called to the Grand Parade in Brighton-Le-Sands following reports a number of men were involved in a brawl outside an ice cream parlour.

Police were told a group of three men walking along the footpath approached another group of three men who were sitting at tables outside the parlour.

Men used chairs to beat each other outside an ice cream parlour in Brighton-Le-Sands.

Men used chairs to beat each other outside an ice cream parlour in Brighton-Le-Sands. Photo: Seven News

A verbal argument between the two groups erupted into a vicious brawl.

The men punched, kicked and used restaurant chairs as weapons, police said.

One man was knocked unconscious.

Christmas Eve turned ugly at the suburban ice cream parlour.

Christmas Eve turned ugly at the suburban ice cream parlour. Photo: Seven News

Footage captured by a witness shows a man lying motionless on the pavement as the other brawlers continued their assault.

“He just like, one punch in the face, and he was on the floor, didn’t move. And then the other guys just went at each other,” witness Fleur McGregor told Channel Seven.

One man can be seen using a chair to club a man lying on the ground.

He was hit with a chair four times before being kicked repeatedly in the head, according to Channel Seven.

The ice cream parlour’s customers were trapped inside as the brawl continued. One employee can be seen closing the parlour’s glass front doors.

“This poor little girl at the window of the ice cream store … was terrified because of what was happening,” Ms McGregor said.

Emergency services attended the scene immediately, but most of the men involved had fled.

The man who was knocked unconscious was spoken to by police and ambulance paramedics but he declined any treatment, police said.

He is expected to make a full recovery, they said.

Officers from the St George Local Area Command have released descriptions of three men who may be able to assist police with their inquiries.

One man is described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance, medium build, aged in his 20s, with short dark hair and facial stubble. At the time he was wearing a red shirt, black tracksuit pants, and white runners.

The second man is described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance, medium build, aged in his 20s, with short dark hair and facial stubble. At the time he was wearing light grey shorts, a grey/green T-shirt, and white runners.

The third man is described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance, aged in his 20s, large build with short dark hair. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a blue T-shirt, black shorts, and highlighter yellow and green runners.

Anyone with information has been urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Source : Sydney Morning Herald

Man critically injured after falling six floors in Surfers Paradise

December 26, 2015 – 1:04PM

Drew Creighton

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A man is in critical condition after falling six floors from a Surfers Paradise balcony.

A man is in critical condition after falling six floors from a Surfers Paradise balcony. Photo: Supplied

A 38-year-old man was critically injured after falling from a sixth floor balcony in Surfers Paradise early Saturday morning.

The man was taken to the Gold Coast University Hospital after he fell about 6.45am.

Police are treating the fall as suspicious and have set up a crime scene around the Orchid Avenue apartment.

Gold Coast detectives have made an apeal for anyone who was in the Orchid Avenue entertainment precinct between 5:00am and 6:45am Saturday morning to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Source : Brisbane Times

Earthquake tremor felt shortly before 9am in Darwin and Top End

December 24, 2015 11:45pm

Source : NT News