28 November 2014

Magna Carta still relevant, 800 years on

Cowdery and Speed
President of the Rule of Law Institute Robin Speed, left, and former NSW DPP Nick Cowdery. Picture: Renee Nowytarger Source: News Corp Australia
LEADERS of the nation’s legal profession will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta next year — and they say the document is as relevant now as it was in 1215. 

Former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery will chair a committee established by the Rule of Law Institute to mark the granting of the Magna Carta.

He said the document helped England to avoid civil war in the 1200s and its principles — including proportionality in sentencing and the presumption of innocence — were still fundamental today.

“The framers of the document even 800 years ago well understood the fundamental principles that should apply in any system of governance that would have as an important component democracy and recognition of the will of the people and the rights of the ­people,” he said.

“When you read the document you see the expression of prin­ciples that even now are the subject of discussion, of controversy, and principles that, more often than we would like, people in positions of power seek to subvert.”

The committee set up to commemorate its anniversary — which counts High Court Chief Justice Robert French as its ­patron, and former High Court judge Dyson Heydon, silks Bret Walker and Richard McHugh, businessmen David Lowy and Hugh Morgan and Seven’s Bruce McWilliam among its members — is planning a series of lectures around Australia, a website and talks at schools next year.

The Magna Carta was handwritten in medieval Latin on untanned animal skin. Australia has one of only four surviving copies of the 1297 edition, which was purchased for £12,500 in 1952 and is on display in Parliament House in Canberra.

Rule of Law Institute president Robin Speed hopes to convince MPs to allow the Magna Carta to travel to capital city museums next year. “Many people have heard about it but not many have read it,” he said.

Mr Speed said almost every provision of the Magna Carta still had relevance today; people back then faced similar problems — for example, threats to national ­security.

“In 1215 you’re dealing with a major crisis,” he said. “We think about terrorists, but they were also thinking about the French who were wanting to invade ... and yet they were very insistent that person’s liberties be protected.

“We can easily exaggerate the importance of national security now, that it was a phenomenon that didn’t exist in 1215, but it certainly did.”

He said he was concerned about the increasing number of laws that removed the privilege against self-incrimination and delivered extraordinary search powers to government — all of which undermined the spirit of the Magna Carta.

Professor Cowdery said the ­notion that the punishment should fit the crime also remained just as crucial today.

“Moves that have been made and are being made in various ­jurisdictions around Australia towards mandatory sentencing are contrary to the principles set down and described 800 years ago and reinforced many times ever since,” he said.

He said while the laws might have changed, the fundamental principles guiding their creation and application had not.

“It’s a timely reminder that although the physical environment might change and we might have different ways of doing things now from 800 years ago, people are still people, and people haven’t changed all that much even in those 800 years,” he said. “Because we want to live in harmony and co-operation with each other, we need rules.”

theaustralian.com.au 29 Aug 2014

News ASIO spying law a major threat to democracy, says Tom Blackburn SC

Journalists seeking to expose corrupt intelligence operations could face 10 years in jail
Journalists seeking to expose corrupt intelligence operations could face 10 years in jail.

ONE of the country’s leading media lawyers has branded elements of the government’s new counterterrorism laws exposing journalists to 10-year jail terms as deeply flawed and “potentially dangerous”. 

In a damning review of recent changes to national security laws, Tom Blackburn SC claimed principles of democracy were being put in jeopardy by provisions that make it a crime to ­report on an ASIO “special intelligence operation” (SIO).

Tom Blackburn SC / Picture: Supplied
Tom Blackburn SC Picture: SuppliedMedia executives have claimed, by including a provision to prevent any ­reporting of special intelligence operations with the threat of jail terms of up to 10 years, the government has potentially criminalised journalism.

The executives argue SIOs would also remain secret forever under the laws, meaning historians 100 years from now could potentially face jail terms for chronicling events of today.

Mr Blackburn, writing in The Daily Telegraph today, said the draconian measures would fundamentally change the nature of democracy in Australia and the media’s obligations to keep the public informed.

“It makes it a crime for all time for anyone, including the media, to expose conduct that may be highly illegal, ­entrenched and corrupt if the information revealed relates to a special ­intelligence operation,” he said.

Mr Blackburn said few would argue ASIO agents should be protected and some immunity from prosecution was warranted in light of the dangerous work they do in trying to prevent terrorism acts in Australia.

“It’s already a serious offence for someone connected with ASIO to disclose secret information that has come to them during their duties,” he said.

dailytelegraph.com.au  27 Nov 2014

These so called laws are specifically designed to keep the masses enslaved and now incarcerated under the pretext of 'terrorism', in true spirit of the new prison island, Australia.

It may seem journalists are targeted but it also applies to the 'people'.

27 November 2014

Sexual predators still in ADF ranks

A new report reveals that 800 alleged sexual and physical abusers still serve in Australian Defence Force

Systematic abuse in the Navy ruined John Atkins’ life and two marriages. He supports a Ro
Systematic abuse in the Navy ruined John Atkins’ life and two marriages. He supports a Royal Commission to get to the truth. Source: Supplied
SENIOR officers are among almost 800 alleged abusers still serving in the Australian Defence Force and a royal commission is needed, the final report of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART) has found. 

The sobering document, tabled on Wednesday, details more than 2400 allegations of sexual and physical abuse in the ranks between the 1940s and today.

The Army tops the abuse score sheet with 879 cases, followed by Navy and the RAAF.

More than 1100 victims have been paid compensation totalling $49 million.

The report also includes one of the most bizarre “glossary of terms” ever published with references such as “chooking” (butting out a cigarette on a wet backside) and “gargoyling” (forcing an individual to urinate in their own mouth or doing it to them), explained in some detail.

ADF SCANDAL: Topless waitresses at military party

SKYPE SEX SCANDAL: Female cade to sue Defence Department

A separate report into abuse at the Australian Defence Force Academy recommends a Royal Commission to properly test serious allegations of rape and assault at the elite military academy between 1986 and today.
“The Taskforce has concluded that the only way of ensuring confidence that the allegations of very serious abuse at ADFA can be thoroughly and completely investigated — and appropriately dealt with — is by way of a Royal Commission,” said retiring Taskforce chairman and former WA Judge Len Roberts-Smith.

COMMENT BELOW: Should ADFA abuse be investigated by a Royal Commission?
Len Roberts-Smith QC headed the independent task force into abuse in the Australian Defen
Len Roberts-Smith QC headed the independent task force into abuse in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Source: News Corp Australia
Slater and Gordon military compensation lawyer Brian Briggs said the Taskforce had established dozens of cases of abuse at ADFA, most of which occurred during the 1990s, and nearly all of which involved serious sexual or physical abuse.

“What’s most concerning is the Taskforce has identified 60 alleged abusers who are either still serving or working in the public service who have never been held accountable for their actions,” he said.

The DART says that as of October 2014 there were 594 alleged abusers serving in the full-time force, 204 in the Reserves and another 341 in the inactive reserve.

“The Taskforce has found that Defence mismanaged many actual reports of abuse, including by taking no action, or inappropriate or inadequate action, in response to reports of abuse,” it said.

Abuse victim John Atkins, who was raped and tortured at the Navy recruit school HMAS Cerberus in Victoria as a 13-year-old in the early 1950s, said the only way to rid Defence of abuse was through a Royal Commission.

John Atkins as a proud Navy Lieutenant.
John Atkins as a proud Navy Lieutenant. Source: Supplied
He said that he believed there were many more than the 800 alleged abusers still serving.

“In addition to victims we need to hear from abusers and those who turned a blind eye to abuse,” Mr Atkins said.

“We must make changes to bring fairness and balance into the workplace without fear.”

He said one of his abusers went on to become an Admiral and another who turned a blind eye also became an Admiral and served in very senior roles.

“Their names are in the secret DLA Piper report along with the names of many, many more senior officers,” Mr Atkins said.

Defence Chief Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin welcomed the report.

“While we remain committed to action against alleged abusers, we also have a responsibility to do no further harm to complainants,” ACM Binskin said.

The Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin. Picture: Gary Ramage.
The Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin. Picture: Gary Ramage. Source: News Corp Australia
“I believe we are making real progress on cultural change across Defence to become more fair, inclusive and respectful.”

The DART report is based on more than 2400 allegations of abuse including 1600 credible cases pursued by the Taskforce.

Of the victims paid compensation, 654 received the maximum of $50,000.

“It is impossible to read or listen to the harrowing personal accounts included in these reports without being affected,” Mr Roberts-Smith said.

Former head of the Attorney General’s Department Robert Cornall has been appointed as new chairman of the DART.

Robert Cornall, the new head of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.
Robert Cornall, the new head of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce. Source: News Corp Australia

news.com.au 27 Nov 2014

A criminal government supporting a criminal defence force?

26 November 2014

Policeman charged with assault gets paid holiday

Victoria Police Questionnaire (?)

  1. Would you like to assault people AND get away with it?
  2. Do you think a form of disciplinary action should be a paid leave 'holiday'?
  3. Does shooting people with no repercussions sound like something right up your alley? 
  4. Would you like to belong to an organisation where you are above the law? 
  5. Are you are Year 10 or lower High School dropout?
  6. Can you follow orders blindly and NOT question ANYTHING you are told?
If you answered YES to all the above questions then you just might have what it takes to become part of an oppressive force against a common enemy - the people.

Don't take our word for it - it's in the results!

We'll even post our results unashamedly on the internet to show the world the police state the people are really under.

Our latest bragging rights, under the headline:

Policeman charged with assault

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 17:15

A policeman has been charged following an alleged assault in Rosebud in April.

The leading senior constable, from the Southern Metro Region, has been charged with one count of unlawful assault.

He has been suspended with pay and will appear in Frankston Magistrates’ Court on 11 February.

Victoria Police Media Unit

Ref: http://www.vicpolicenews.com.au/news/5119-policeman-charged-with-assault.html

25 November 2014

Civilians take on cops in court

Lawyers say more people are becoming dissatisfied with the police complaints system and taking are their battles to lawyers.
Lawyers say more people are becoming dissatisfied with the police complaints system and taking are their battles to lawyers.

An increasing number of Queenslanders are suing police officers claiming abuse, but the public is being kept in the dark, a leading civil libertarian claims.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties vice-president Terry O'Gorman said more people were becoming dissatisfied with the Queensland Police Service complaints system and taking their battle to a lawyer.
There's a real problem with police violence... 
But, in most cases, the QPS moved quickly to settle under a confidential agreement and avoided the court room and the public eye.

"They don't want to take them to trial so they settle on confidential terms so the amount of money paid and the allegations are never published in the media," Mr O'Gorman, a lawyer, said.

His comments came after a rare case this week when 65-year-old homeless man Bruce Rowe successfully pursued criminal charges against a Queensland police officer.

The Brisbane District Court found Constable Benjamin Arndt guilty of assault.

Constable Arndt was one of four police officers who restrained Mr Rowe in 2006 after an altercation in Brisbane's Queen Street Mall.

Mr Rowe was originally charged over the incident but won an appeal and then launched a private prosecution of assault against Constable Arndt, who was fined $1000 and ordered to pay $2250 in costs.

No conviction was recorded and the Queensland Police Union is appealing the decision.

"It shows how broken the police complaints process is in Queensland that [Mr Rowe] could only get a remedy in response to excessive police force by having to bring a private criminal prosecution," Mr O'Gorman said.

"There's a real problem with police violence, which is also reflected in the Airlie Beach case last year."

In that case, ex-policeman Benjamin Thomas Price, 34, was jailed for 27 months over the bashing of a tourist and a barmaid, including forcing a fire hose into the tourist's mouth, at an Airlie Beach watch house.

Mr O'Gorman said civil criminal proceedings were rare because the civilian was required to put up security costs, however civil proceedings were becoming increasingly common.

Lawyer Simon Morrison said his Brisbane firm, Shine Lawyers, had dealt with more than 100 civil cases against police in the past 10 years and "the vast majority" had settled early with confidential financial payments made to his clients.

"Twenty years ago it was quite rare [to prosecute a police officer]," he said.

"These days, we're seeing more of it because people are more aware of their rights."

More than 2000 complaints are made against Queensland police officers each year. Almost 3000 were made during 2009/10 - the most in at least five years - according to QPS.

QPS would not reveal how many led to legal action, including confidential settlements, advising brisbanetimes.com.au to apply for that information via the Right to Information Act.

In a statement, QPS said it was satisfied with the complaints process available to civilians.

"There are a range of ways a member of the community can make a complaint against a member of the Queensland Police Service," the statement says.

"These include through contact with the Crime and Misconduct Commission or the Queensland Police Service by letter, email, telephone or personal attendance.

"The Queensland Police Service considers these processes adequately allow the reporting of complaints against members of the Queensland Police Service."

In defending the actions of Constable Arndt, the Queensland Police Union argued that arresting officers were sometimes required to use force and Constable Arndt had been "doing his job".

The union has called for an end to civil prosecutions against police.

"The solution to this problem is for Queensland to finally introduce 'protection legislation' for police who are acting in good faith, and seeing as though every other state in Australia already has these laws, police consider this step uncontroversial," QPU president Ian Leavers said this week.

"It is now at the stage where police who are involved in any situation where they are required to use force could be at risk of criminal prosecution even if the CMC say they have no case to answer.

"The Police Union will fully support any police officer who refuses to place themselves in a situation where they may need to use force, as the repercussions and consequences of even a basic arrest with minimal use of force could be many years of heartache for the officer and their family and the potential for that officer to be found guilty, have a conviction recorded, lose their job and career all because the legislation in Queensland is insufficient and not in line with every other state."

Mr O'Gorman said the union's proposal would be "a rapid throw back to the Joh Bjelke-Petersen days".

"If the police are to be protected from private civil suits and private civil prosecution ... they would be totally unaccountable," he said.

brisbanetimes.com.au 11 Feb 20111

Australia's police 'force' the largest criminal organisation in the country.

Queensland's police are one of the most corrupt in the country.

State denies duty of care to injured police

The state government and Victoria Police are using an arcane legal technicality to block seriously injured police officers from suing the force for compensation, claiming they owe no duty of care to members hurt in the line of duty.

The use of the contentious tactic comes as Victoria Police are fighting at least three lawsuits from former officers who allege they received permanent physical and psychological injuries on the job.

In a bid to avoid a payout, the government is claiming that police officers are not technically employees of the state but ‘‘public officers’’ conducting ‘‘independent duties’’, absolving the government of civil liability for their injuries.

The defence has been filed in a lawsuit brought by former mounted police officer Justin Boyer, who alleges he sustained severe psychological trauma at the hands of fellow officers after he reported allegations of corruption to authorities.

The government’s argument is based on an interpretation of the wording of a police oath written more than 56 years ago which sees Victorian officers sworn into service of ‘‘our Sovereign Lady the Queen’’.

‘‘[The government] denies that [Mr Boyer] was employed by [the government], and says further that at all material times [Mr Boyer] was executing independent duties cast upon him by reason of his oath taken under the Police Regulation Act 1958,’’ the defence filed in the Supreme Court says. ‘‘[The government] denies that it owed a duty of care to [Mr Boyer].’’

Police Minister Kim Wells and Chief Commissioner Ken Lay have refused to comment on whether they personally authorised the defence used by the external law firm hired to represent the government because the matter is currently before the court.

A source said the government has used the defence in the past in a bid to block civil claims despite police officers being apparently recognised as employees in some industrial relations legislation and by WorkSafe.

But Giuseppe Carabetta, senior lecturer at the University of Sydney Business School, said the government’s defence could be difficult to refute because police have long been recognised in law as “office-holders” rather than employees.

“Essentially the Crown is denying that the plaintiff is an employee in the strict common law sense. As the law currently stands, the Crown will, in my view, succeed,” he said.

The decision to fight the claim also comes despite the government acknowledging Mr Boyer had received a ‘‘serious injury certificate’’ early last year.

Mr Boyer claims to suffer from a knee injury and severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after being subjected to a campaign of  ‘‘harassment, discrimination, vilification, intimidation and bullying’’ by fellow officers for reporting allegations of misconduct and corruption. He is seeking more than $250,000 in damages.

The government has denied the allegations but also claimed that Mr Boyer could be ‘‘guilty of contributory negligence’’ for failing to report to superiors that he was allegedly being victimised.

The Police Association has declined to comment on the government’s defence because the case involves a former officer making claims that include other members of the force.

theage.com.au 5 Jul 2014

In 2013 the Victorian parliament unlawfully made Victoria Police a corporation via the Victoria Police Act (2013).

Please note: Victoria Police are NOT 'public servants' as claimed.

They are employees of a corporation each liable in full commercial liability via their registered number.

24 November 2014

Secret rise in Victorian crime that authorities didn’t want you to know about

Crime has rison in seven out of ten postcode areas. Picture: Hamish Blair
Crime has rison in seven out of ten postcode areas. Picture: Hamish Blair Source: News Corp Australia
CRIME has risen in more than seven in every 10 postcodes across the state in the past four years. 

A Herald Sun investigation has found recorded crimes have more than doubled in one in six postcodes in the past four years, and more than tripled in one in 11.

And crimes against the person, including rapes, sex attacks and assaults, have jumped tenfold or more in some communities.


Victoria Police was due to release the latest quarterly crime figures this week but controversially decided to withhold the data until after Saturday’s election.

However, the Herald Sun can reveal that crime reports statewide have risen 18.3 per cent in the four years to June 30, according to crime data for every postcode purchased by the Herald Sun from Victoria Police.

Herald Sun Crime Statistics

Search Now

Welcome to the Herald Sun Crime Statistics database. Use the menu and tools above to search for statistics for a particular crime across the state or within a location.
Crimes of violence rose in 484 postcodes _ more than doubling in 215 _ and fell in 170 in the past four years.

Police command says the rise is driven by family violence reports, an increase in crimes being detected due to the addition of 1700 police and 940 PSOs in the past four years, and greater policing of offences such as breaches in bail and intervention orders.

But Chief Commissioner Ken Lay believes still more can be done and wants to discuss modernising his force with the incoming government.



“The Chief Commissioner (has) argued strongly that we need a modern police force that is responsive to the changing needs of its people,” his spokeswoman Lisa Beechey said.

“To achieve this we need a much more flexible model which allows us the freedom to deploy our police members where they are needed, when they are needed.”

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles told the Herald Sun a lack of frontline police was at the root of rising crime rates.

“Without a doubt, the problem is a lack of police — we have a severe shortage of first-response police officers,” Mr Iddles told the Herald Sun.

. Picture: Jason Sammon
. Picture: Jason Sammon
The association says 1880 more officers are needed to respond to triple 0 calls in the next five years just to keep up with projected population growth.

“If this doesn’t happen then we expect to see these crimes to keep increasing,” Mr Iddles said.

“Currently the ratio of first-response police to population is 102 for every 100,000 Victorians. In some areas such as Wyndham, Whittlesea and Casey, this ratio is less than half and a disgrace.

“A case in point is Greater Geelong. Calls for police assistance has soared from 39,000 to 90,000 in three years. The area desperately needs an extra 30 first-response officers now to cope with this huge upsurge in demand for police response”.

Mr Iddles called on both parties to tell voters what their policy is but as the last week of the campaign begins neither party was willing to tell the Herald Sun if they will fund extra police.

According to the postcode crime data, Bushfield north of Warrnambool has the state’s lowest crime rate of less than three crimes per 1000 residents in four years, while five rural areas had no crimes reported in 2013/14.

Wattle Glenn was Melbourne’s safest suburb, with 171 crimes in four years.

Outside the CBD, city fringe town Wollert and Ballarat suburb Sebastopol recorded the highest crime rates of almost one crime for every two residents for the past four years.

The most crime prone postcodes per head of population also include Fitzroy, Campbellfield, Beaufort, Collingwood, South Melbourne and Geelong _ all with more than one crime for every five residents.


ANTI-violence activist Bill McCormack believes a more callous culture has taken over our streets, particularly among young men who strike out while drunk.

His son, Shannon, was killed by a single punch to the head in Melbourne’s CBD in 2007, and the culprit has never been identified. .

Although Victoria Police has worked hard to curb alcohol-fuelled assaults, Mr McCormack says young men continue to strike first and think later.

Bill McCormack with a photo of his son Shannon who died after being punched outside a cit
Bill McCormack with a photo of his son Shannon who died after being punched outside a city nightclub in 2007. Picture: Andy Brownbill
Mr McCormack believes tough laws targeting alcohol-related crime, particularly assaults, are warranted.

And he says a system similar to the Northern Territory’s now scrapped alcohol register, where customers who had alcohol-related convictions were banned from buying alcohol, was a good start.

``I’d really like see Northern Territory-style alcohol banning orders introduced,’’ he said.

``What it does is it targets the people causing the problems, who bash people, including women.’’

Mr McCormack has supported minimum 10-year sentencing reforms introduced by the Coalition for those found guilty of single-punch assaults without warning causing death.

He said the rise in crime figures for crimes against the person — including assaults and sex attacks — was reflective of a lack respect ingrained in our youth.

``When I was a kid we learned etiquette and manners at school,’’ he said.

``A lot of kids don’t have it now. Respect for other people needs to be brought back into our schools.’’
He said witnesses to the left-hook punch that killed his son had told how his attacker and others stepped over his son’s prone body as he lay on the ground.

CCTV footage outside the former QBH nightclub has not conclusively identified the perpetrator.

Mr McCormack has campaigned for better CCTV cameras since his son’s death and also believes people have been desensitised by violent computer games that depict graphic assaults.

theaustralian.com.au 23 Nov 2014

Corporate criminals keeping the truth from the general populous.

Victoria Police - is this an organisation that you can really trust?

As per article: 

Victoria Police was due to release the latest quarterly crime figures this week but controversially decided to withhold the data until after Saturday’s election.

23 November 2014

Politician and mining magnate Clive Palmer attempts to suppress existence of private plane

AAP Image/Crook Group, David Sproule Clive Palmer poses with Palmer United Party representatives in front oh his campaign jet last year. 
Clive Palmer has lost a bid to get a suppression order concealing the already widely known fact that he owns a private airplane after a judge rejected claims the knowledge could put his life in danger.

Mr Palmer, who has repeatedly been photographed next to the estimated $70 million aircraft during the 2013 federal election campaign, now believes fresh media coverage about its existence poses "safety issues".

The application for the confidentiality order was made as part of Mr Palmer's fight against the public release of flight records for his jet that was ordered by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The departure and arrival records for all aircraft that use Australia's airspace are held by commonwealth regulatory agency Airservices Australia, which has traditionally ruled that release of this type of information is in line with public policy about transparency and does not violate privacy laws.

Fairfax Media was supposed to be granted access to the flight plans under freedom-of-information laws, a decision that is now being challenged by Mr Palmer's company, Palmer Aviation, in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Hamish Cairns/Fairfax Media Clive Palmer with wife Anna on his private plane while on the campaign trail in Queensland in September last year. 
Mr Palmer's legal counsel argued the existence of the legal proceeding should be suppressed from the public and a pseudonym used in all documentation that refers to the politician and mining magnate and his company.

"Our submission is that the basis of the business of Palmer Aviation is to provide confidential business travel to Mr Palmer and his invited guests. At the crux of that business is the confidential nature of the transportation and Mr Palmer and his invited guests' whereabouts…," Tracey Miley said.

"The only issue I can point to is safety issues if the registration of the plane is ... registration number of the plane is made known publicly."

But AAT deputy president Philip Hack found the submission was "at too high a level of abstraction".
"As I understand it, Mr Palmer is a figure of some notoriety. He is a member of the House of Representatives. He is frequently in the media," he said.

Deputy president Hack noted that aircraft registration numbers were already a matter of public record and refused to grant the confidentiality order.

The application was made despite Mr Palmer routinely using the intercontinental Bombardier Global Express - which has been emblazoned with a logo of the Palmer United Party - as a backdrop for photo opportunities and press conferences. The plane is registered in the Isle of Man, an off-shore tax haven.

PUP is under increasing pressure from factional splits, with Mr Palmer recently blasting fellow member Jacqui Lambie as a "drama queen".

Mr Palmer, whose legal counsel is now seeking to suppress all administrative documents relating to the FOI application, is also hoping to make a personal submission to the tribunal over concerns about whether his "personal information and safety" have been adequately considered.

msn.com 21 Nov 2014

Another corrupt politician!!!

Would you trust this piece of garbage running the country?

The mega-commute is driving us into an early grave

Is it time we let go of suburban life?
Is it time we let go of suburban life? Source: News Limited
MEGA-commutes that eat up our time and patience, they could also be driving us into an early grave. So is it a sad fact of life that they’re here to stay? 

On a good day Claire Struthers leaves home at 6.20am and gets to work at 8.30am but on a bad day the commute once extended to five hours because of a broken down freight train.

An editor, Ms Struthers lives in Tumbi Umbi on the NSW Central Coast and travels to Wynyard in the Sydney CBD for work. Her journey takes a minimum of four hours a day and involves her driving to a train station, a journey of 20-40 minutes, and then sitting on a train for more than an hour. It doesn’t leave her much time to spend with her 15-year-old daughter.

“It’s not ideal, if the trains are late or I’m busy at work, I only get to spend an hour with her,” Ms Struthers told news.com.au.

“It’s a 12 hour day for me, which is a big chunk of time.”

MORE: Petrol excise will hit outer suburban commuters

MORE: Families moving to the regions to escape suburbia

While spending four hours a day commuting to work might seem extreme to some, there are many more like Ms Struthers, who spend the equivalent of half their working day sitting in cars, trains and buses on top of sitting in front of a computer for another eight hours.

And it’s not just family life that is impacted by this lengthy journey to work. Medical experts are now lobbying for action as the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and its links to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease become clearer.

Mega-commute: Claire Struthers travels more than four hours a day for work.
Mega-commute: Claire Struthers travels more than four hours a day for work. Source: Supplied
A community campaign to tackle the issue was launched in western Sydney on Friday by Professor Michael Peek, director of Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre Nepean.

Prof Peek said people in areas like western Sydney bore the brunt of the obesity epidemic, routinely spending “an hour or three” sitting in a car, bus or train.

“If you spend a lot of time in a car for example, that’s less time you’ve got to be active because it’s very sedentary,” Prof Peek told news.com.au.

“There is data that shows the more sedentary you are, the more at risk of developing obesity and obesity-related medical problems.”

The campaign hopes to bring together schools, businesses and local councils to develop strategies for combating obesity, including whether better urban planning could help.

“This is not simply a medical problem that you can give someone a tablet and fix it, it’s very complex and in the end it’s not just the health professionals who will fix it.

“It also includes architects and town planners ... to make cities more exercise and lifestyle friendly.”

He said that lifestyle factors should be considered, especially when building major new projects like Badgerys Creek airport.

Unhealthy: Gridlock on the Eastern freeway in Melbourne. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Unhealthy: Gridlock on the Eastern freeway in Melbourne. Picture: Nicole Garmston Source: News Corp Australia
Melbourne architectural experts have also explored the legacy of Australia’s love for car-centric development in a new report, which suggests there is potential to redevelop areas so that work and entertainment is located within 20 minutes of where people live.

Creating 20-minute cities would also provide the opportunity for significant reductions in carbon emissions.
But one of the greatest barriers to achieving this is community resistance to changes to something that many Australians value — suburban life. So is it time for us to swap suburbia for shorter commutes, healthier lifestyles and a better carbon future?


In Melbourne, if you drive a car it is possible to travel 10 times further than someone taking the train or tram would travel in the same amount of time. At night, the difference becomes even bigger, when road congestion eases and public transport becomes less frequent. It is a situation replicated across Australia.

So no wonder Australians love their cars.

But Professor Kim Dovey, one of the authors of the report Intensifying Melbourne: Transit-Oriented Urban Design for Resilient Urban Futures, said building more freeways was not going to solve the gridlock problem.

“You need to provide opportunities for people to go where they need to go, you need to connect workplaces better and get people out of their cars and onto public transport,” Prof Dovey said.

“At the moment we are a car dependent city — if you don’t have a car, you don’t have huge access to amenities you need.”

One of the starkest examples of the legacy of car-centric planning is that of Australia’s biggest shopping centre. The Chadstone Shopping Centre in southeast Melbourne is located within a kilometre of two train stations and several tramlines but is designed so that is almost impossible to safely walk from any of these stations to the shops.

Shoppers are instead encouraged to hop on a bus from the stations to travel that last kilometre, which is a 25-30 minute walk.

Chadstone Shopping Centre is almost impossible to get to on foot.
Chadstone Shopping Centre is almost impossible to get to on foot. Source: News Limited
The Catch-22 situation that most Australian cities have become caught in, is described in Intensifying Melbourne. It notes that city development was not always geared towards suburbia. Before World War II, urban planning was linked mostly to walking, cycling and public transport. Our car-dependent cities emerged after the war when cars became more popular and we became influenced by modernist planning. It has continued under the pressure of powerful developers who own land on the outskirts of major cities.

“Developers own most of the urban fringe land and comprise a powerful lobby for more low-density suburbs,” the report from Melbourne and Monash University researchers explains. “As new fringe suburbs develop with minimal public transit they stimulate the market for more freeways.

“The freeways in turn consume the vast bulk of transport funding and stimulate demand for more fringe development.”

It is a cycle that is “utterly inconsistent with a low-carbon future” and locks people into long car-centric commutes. The challenge now is to transition to a new model in the face of climate change, increasing oil prices and population growth.


Prof Dovey is an expert in architecture and urban design at the University of Melbourne and said the important thing was to build services closer together, so people could work, shop and access entertainment without depending on cars.

“All Australian cities have conditions similar to Melbourne, they’re all relatively low density with high car dependency,” Prof Dovey said.

It’s one of the reasons that Australia has one of the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world. The emissions are nearly twice the OECD average and more than four times the world average.

Intensifying Melbourne explores the options for how urban design and public transport could be developed, with an eye to making people rethink the idea that high density equals bad outcomes.

It includes a number of design scenarios for key sites in Melbourne including Reservoir, Sunshine, Surrey Hills, Batman, Chadstone, Northland and Lygon St, Brunswick.

Possibilities: Chadstone shopping centre scenario from report Intensifying Melbourne.
Possibilities: Chadstone shopping centre scenario from report Intensifying Melbourne. Source: Supplied
“These designs are aimed at stimulating the imagination for what might happen,” Prof Dovey said. “They are not solutions but scenarios that explore sustainable development options within the existing city.”

The report identifies areas that could be redeveloped, as well as ways to improve public transport, which at the moment in Melbourne is constrained by 170 level crossings where trains block the car, bus, tram and pedestrian networks. It demonstrates that building grade separations along significant stretches of rail line could areas up to “intensification”, including the development of residential and commercial buildings.

Possible redevelopment scenario for Lygon St, Brunswick from Intensifying Melbourne repor
Possible redevelopment scenario for Lygon St, Brunswick from Intensifying Melbourne report. Source: Supplied
Trenched rail option for Sunshine.
Trenched rail option for Sunshine. Source: Supplied
Prof Dovey said that while the report focused on Melbourne, every Australian city could benefit from the principles. His colleagues have also identified areas in other states that could benefit from higher density development which is connected to public transport.

In NSW, the introduction of new light rail to the Sydney suburbs of Randwick, Kensington and Kingsford made these areas a good candidate, urban planning lecturer Gethin Davison of the University of NSW said.

A new light rail project in Sydney makes these areas a good candidate for providing extra
A new light rail project in Sydney makes these areas a good candidate for providing extra homes, work and entertainment. Picture supplied by NSW Government. Source: Supplied
In Queensland, Associate Professor Kathi Holt-Damant of Queensland University of Technology suggested that Logan, in the state’s south east, was an example of a suburb that could benefit.

“It’s going through serious growth at the moment and would benefit from all the merits of intensification and connected public transportation,” she said.

The potential for development was linked to whether it was possible to integrate the areas into the public transport network and connect it with other centres and sites.

Prof Dovey said Chadstone shopping centre, for example, could be turned into a “real town” with hotels, housing and other uses, instead of just being a mono-functional venue.

Chadstone could be so much more than a shopping centre.
Chadstone could be so much more than a shopping centre. Source: News Limited
This could be achieved through building a short underground tunnel that would link it to one of Melbourne’s busiest rail lines.

The centre would benefit from an increase in the number of shoppers and this would open up the opportunity to convert the many hectares of car parking — the centre accommodates 9000 car spaces — into new public facilities, open space as well as residential and commercial towers.

The areas around rail stations, tram corridors, university campuses and industrial zones could be opened up to the same opportunities if public transport access could be improved.

For example, university campuses often have substantial areas of carpark that could be redeveloped for residential, shops and commercial functions.


The report notes that there are many engineering and economic challenges to expanding Melbourne’s public transport system.

“While much could be achieved by radically improving bus services, only rail-based transit (trains, and light rail/trams) can achieve the quantum leap in capacity required for the necessary transformation,” the report states.

The challenge was to find new routes for both tram and train lines that could be integrated with new walkable, mixed-use neighbourhoods without damaging the enjoyment of current residents.

This would require expensive underground train stations or elevated rail and it was unknown whether the costs of building these could be recovered through land development.

The report also acknowledges there is a lot of community opposition to ambitious redevelopment plans of this scale but notes that the most significant problem was how politicised urban planning had become.

Tired of waiting? Improved rail services are the key to a 20 minute city.
Tired of waiting? Improved rail services are the key to a 20 minute city. Source: News Corp Australia
“Breaking this cycle is the biggest challenge of all,” the report states. All major decisions seemed to be geared to “short term political cycles” creating site-by-site planning, ministerial interference and ambiguous planning codes.

“The refusal to fund major public transport infrastructure, despite the clear economic and environmental advantages over other investments, is because it rarely produces political capital in the short term.”

However, it noted that with mounting fuel costs and climate change costs applied to transport, priorities would change.

“Patronage on public transport has already dramatically risen and increased crowding on trains and trams will add to political pressure for investment,” it said.

The question is whether changes will ... one on the basis of political priorities or maximising the benefits of intensification.

As for Claire Struthers, the Central Coast mum says she is planning to look for work closer to home and was not tempted to move into the city.

“We have dogs and I prefer to life a bit further out and have a larger place,” she said.

Claire Struthers spends over four hours a day commuting to work.
Claire Struthers spends over four hours a day commuting to work. Source: Supplied
But while city living was not attractive for her, she said she thought it did make sense for many other people.
“I think high density has its place, in moderation,” she said.

“I’m not much of a fan of units anyway but younger people don’t mind them because they like the shared amenities such as having a gym, tennis court or pool.”

She thinks the key to getting support for high-density development came down to having nice facilities that were user-friendly.

“I think it makes good sense but I don’t think it will happen. The government won’t build it, they are focused on cars.”

news.com.au 19 Nov 2014

Is this a (deliberate?) failure on behalf of the government to not cater for a growing population?

Once your usefulness (work / tax paying capacity) has been exhausted you can expire?

The corporate government is there to make money from the people, keep them oppressed and submissive.

Victorian government gives $5.4 million to Scotch College for land previously valued at $1 million

The sound barrier and South-Eastern Freeway over a section of Scotch College land for which the state government paid $5.4 million in a compulsory acquisition. The sound barrier and South-Eastern Freeway over a section of Scotch College land for which the state government paid $5.4 million in a compulsory acquisition.

The Napthine government paid elite private school Scotch College $5.4 million for a thin strip of land, taken for a road-widening project, that was previously valued at just over $1 million by the state's Valuer-General.

The payment was made by VicRoads in October last year.

The government's road authority in 2008 used its compulsory acquisition powers to take a 2.8-metre-wide and 400-metre-long sliver of land from the Hawthorn boys' school.

The land was taken in order to add a lane to CityLink, which runs alongside the school.

The strip of land taken for the road widening adjoins three of Scotch's sporting ovals.

In 2008 the Brumby government offered the school $1.06 million for the land, after a valuation by then valuer-general Jack Dunham.

It also offered Scotch $86,400 a year as a fee for occupation of other school land it needed during construction.

The school refused the offer, and took the government to the Supreme Court.

Nothing was heard of the case's resolution, until the school this year lodged its 2013 financial return.
It shows, among the school's revenue for the year of $70.9 million, a payment for $5.4 million as "reimbursement following a Supreme Court action".

The payment helped Scotch record a net surplus of $11.5 million.

Scotch old boy and state Liberal Party elder David Kemp headed a taskforce to ensure the school got what it considered fair compensation for the land.

Dr Kemp, the party's state president between 2007 and 2011, said on Sunday there had been "normal legal negotiations" between the school and the government over the land's worth.

And he said the negotiations were entirely undertaken by lawyers. "I had no personal role," said Dr Kemp, who is a Scotch College director.

A spokesman for Roads Minister Terry Mulder confirmed Dr Kemp had not been personally involved in the negotiations.

A spokeswoman for Scotch said the value of the land acquired for the freeway expansion "was the subject of negotiation during the Supreme Court action".

She said the final amount received from the government included payment for disruptions to school operations, ground repairs, reimbursement of other costs, and rent for the use of property by construction companies during the project, which was finished in 2010.

The Australian Education Union, though, said the payment indicated there were different rules for private and public schools.

"It is a sad indication of the Napthine government's priorities that they are willing to make a secret $5 million payout to one of Victoria's wealthiest schools for a thin sliver of land, but not willing to be open with other schools about ... extra funding under the Gonski reforms," the union's Victorian president, Meredith Peace, said.

theage.com.au 16 Nov 2014

Another corrupt money for mates deal at the expense of the public's purse.

The 'brotherhood' looking after their own.