Inside the system

Officer who locked up Haneef promoted

Ramzi Jabbour, an officer who faced harsh criticism over his role in the infamous Muhamed Haneef case, has now been made Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Dr Haneef was targeted under draconian new “anti-terror” laws in 2007, arrested at Brisbane airport in connection with a failed London bomb plot.

Haneef was detained without charge for 12 days, had his visa cancelled and was eventually charged with supporting a terrorist organisation. The charges proved to be completely unfounded and were dropped almost immediately. But he still spent a month in total wrongfully locked up.

The subsequent embarrassment and public outrage forced apologies from the AFP and the Commonwealth. A 2008 report into the scandal by retired NSW judge John Clarke mentioned the new AFP Deputy Commissioner specifically. It said the then AFP Commander Ramzi Jabbour “lost objectivity” and also described him as being “unable to see that the evidence he regarded as highly incriminating in fact amounted to very little”. Clearly the treatment he dealt out to Haneef is no barrier to promotion in the AFP.

Qantas CEO gets 490 per cent pay rise

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has received an unbelievable 490 per cent pay rise—up almost $10 million from last year. His already exorbitant salary will now be $11.8 million, or 274 times the wage of the average baggage handler.

As if this wasn’t shocking enough, recent research has revealed that top CEOs in Australia are actually being paid far more than official figures in Annual Reports suggest. According to the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), the ten highest paid CEOs from among Australia’s 100 biggest companies collectively took home around $71 million more than they admitted.

This took their collective remuneration up to $171 million—equivalent to the pay of 4000 baggage handlers! Ramsey Healthcare CEO Chris Rex topped the rotten pile, grabbing more than three times the official figure. Thanks to “less obvious forms of remuneration” his pay hit $30 million in 2014.

Force students to pay back HECS sooner, says Andrew Norton

The Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton used a recent education conference to call for a dramatic lowering of the HECS repayment threshold. This would mean graduates with lower incomes would have to start making payments.

The rabid advocate of university deregulation and former adviser to John Howard’s Education Minister David Kemp, says that, “If we keep the current threshold, increasing numbers of students will not repay their debt”. Increasing numbers of graduates are not reaching the current repayment threshold of $54,126 annual income.

But the falling ability of students to repay HECS debts is a result of the flagging economy and increasing graduate unemployment. The unemployment rate for graduates four months after completing their degrees is at almost 12 per cent—its highest level in 20 years. Norton also used the conference to repeat his calls for HECS debts to be taken from the estates of the dead.

UN report predicts Gaza to be uninhabitable

Gaza could be uninhabitable within five years, according to a report by the UN Trade and Development Board. Subject to an eight year economic blockade by Israel and Egypt, and three wars in the last six years, Gaza has been crippled. The report says the onslaught has, “ravaged the already debilitated infrastructure of Gaza, shattered its productive base, left no time for meaningful reconstruction or economic recovery and impoverished the Palestinian population.”

It also points out that while Gaza’s population of 1.8 million rely on coastal aquifers as their primary source of fresh water, 95 per cent of it is unsafe to drink. Food insecurity affects 72 per cent of households and almost half the population receive some form of food aid. The prediction is that the problems will worsen, firstly because of the constant destruction wrought on Gaza and secondly because the population is set to expand by 300,000 by 2020.

The report was released as the Egyptian army stepped up its efforts to shut down smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. The bloody dictatorship of General al-Sisi plans to build 18 fisheries along the Gaza border which are supposed to flood any smuggling tunnels used to bring in desperately needed supplies.

Border Force shows its soft side

Tony Abbott’s new gun-toting, 6000 strong Border Force may be designed to strike fear into the hearts of black and brown people in Australia and offshore prison camps, but they have a soft side for their political masters.

In September it was revealed that Melbourne based toymaker Wompro has been commissioned to produce 2000 “Border-force branded plush dogs”—soft toys to be used as “corporate gifts” for “international dignitaries and other stakeholders”.
Border Force is desperate for some good publicity at the moment, so was happy to spend $15,000 on the toys.
After the $10 million cost of their new Gestapo-style uniforms and rebranding the department, it’s next to nothing.

Sydney pub bans workers

A Sydney pub has introduced a new rule banning hi-vis work wear, following a ritzy renovation. The ban on florescent work wear at The Village Inn in Oxford St, Paddington will keep out construction workers who previously frequented the venue.
The pub now has a sign that reads, “Dress code: Upscale fashionable attire”. Below it there is a comprehensive list of banned clothing, including “Steel Cap Boots”, “Flannelette Shirts”, “Trade-Work Wear” and even includes “Rats Tails” or “Mullets”.

Owner Leeroy Peterson defended the decision by saying, “it doesn’t fit the demographic of the area anymore”. The venue has been bombarded with negative online reviews.

One reviewer put it succinctly, “Don’t want tradies… Who refurbed ya pub mate?” Who said that class is dead?

Things they say

We are moving forward, only forward.
Alexis Tsipras channels Julia Gillard in launching Syriza’s election campaign in Greece. The party’s campaign slogan is “Only forward”

A form of communication oppressively compelling a speedy response
Dyson Heydon justifies his distaste for email

The feeling on the ground is ‘everyone can piss off back to Australia’.
Ronnie Knight MP for Manus Island, explaining that community goodwill had evaporated following the alleged rape of the local worker by Wilson security guards.

Something is happening here in Australia. People have united behind the simple idea that our boundless plains are here to be shared, especially with those that are in desperate need.
NSW Premier Mike Baird sniffs the wind, while conveniently ignoring the detention camps his party runs for refugees

Look at the Smorgons. There are 65 of them. A nightmare. With us I have two wives, past and present, who don’t care and two daughters who don’t care. So no fighting.
Harry Triguboff, boss of Meriton, explaining the problems of billionaire families

I didn’t want to create a dynasty. I just wanted to create a business…for me!
Triguboff explains why he is worth $15 billion


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