09 January 2016
from the Commoner’s Understanding No Technicalities in law series, brought to you by CorpAu
The courts of Australia are based on the Roman Code or Roman Curia law.
What this means is that before you even enter the courtroom doors you are branded as guilty.
The terms that are used to describe your ‘guilt’ are absolute liability and strict liability.
The definitions of the two phrases are as follows:
Absolute liability – you are guilty and you will be punished.
Strict liability – you are guilty and you must prove your innocence.
Do not be fooled by the common catch phrase that you’re “innocent until proven guilty“.
This does not apply in Australia.
The phrase only belongs in Hollywood films. Leave it there.
08 January 2016
Sheriff called over unpaid tollway fines
Georgia Sharp's partner spent 8 months driving Melbourne's tollways without an e-tag, now Georgia has over $50,000 in fines in her name and the sheriff at her door.
It was a bad moment in what had already been a very challenging year or so. The young New Zealander had recently had her first baby with her partner, Julian. Then, Julian had been diagnosed with cancer. Now the sheriff was telling her she was under arrest and faced the prospect of prison.
The couple had started grappling with toll road fines around the time Georgia had given birth to son Finn. Then came the diagnosis. Frankly they had other things to worry about.
Georgia Sharp."Our minds weren't exactly on having to pay the government this amount of money. We put it out of our heads."
Georgia wasn't to know it, but she is one of the swelling ranks of people criminalised in Victoria over big infringement debts on unpaid CityLink and EastLink tolls.
The growth in value of outstanding toll warrants outstrips that of all other warrants, including for other traffic offences, and accounts for the bulk of the increase in the value of outstanding warrants.
Increasingly, toll debt cases are dominating and clogging Victoria's courts. And they are set to grow exponentially as the existing toll roads are widened and the network extended, including through Transurban's proposed Western Distributor.
Pressure is mounting for reform.
"The justice system was never built for that," says veteran western suburban community lawyer, Denis Nelthorpe. "And the courts and magistrates are struggling unbelievably with it."
They aren't the only ones struggling. Julian had commuted to work through periods in 2013 and 2014 unaware, he says, of the toll rules. And the couple also moved house.
Toll notices mailed did not reach them for months, by which time Julian had run up 183 infringements - a total of more than $50,000 in tolls, fines and fees.
Georgia and Julian had agreed to a payment plan of $120 a fortnight. But over Christmas 2014 they defaulted, a mistake that led to yet more fines.
Their story is familiar one.
In another recent case a toll road user racked up $100,000 in outstanding toll infringement debt. A magistrate this year gave him 80 years to pay off the debt. The final payment falls due when the offender is 130.
A current case involves a Gippsland man with $450,000 in infringement debt, most of it toll-related.
The ballooning figure for outstanding toll warrants suggests the penalties are failing to act as a deterrent. It also raises questions about the state's role as debt collector and enforcer for private tolling companies, an arrangement put in place in the mid-1990s by the Kennett government as part of the CityLink contract.
By contrast, when customers fail to pay service providers such as Telstra or Origin Energy, or retailers such as Harvey Norman, these are civil matters between the company and its customers. Rarely, if ever, do such customers end up with penalties of $50,000 or $100,000 for failing to pay bills.
Victorian Greens consumer affairs spokeswoman Ellen Sandell has called for an investigation by the Ombudsman into the "ridiculous" debts. "Victorians should not have to live with the stress of huge debts and the threat of going to prison when all they did was drive on a toll road."
The tolls themselves make up a small fraction of the large warrant figures, often under $10 each. The big hit comes from the multiple administrative fees included in invoices for each unpaid toll from Transurban (CityLink) and ConnectEast (EastLink), and then additional fees by government agencies Civic Compliance and the Sheriff's Office, as unpaid tolls evolve into infringements, enforcement orders and warrants.
Many of the offenders are not what he describes as the "usual suspects" – court regulars with histories of mental health issues and/or alcohol or drug abuse.
"What we're seeing quite often is first-timers, including middle aged women, who have virtually never had a parking ticket before. That indicates a system was out of control and potentially broken".
Often the people concerned - like Georgia - have been affected by one-off or short-term problems such as a death in the family, illness or loss of a job.
Late in 2015, lawyers pleaded at the Werribee court to show lenience to Georgia, who has suffered postpartum depression.
"I was struggling with being a first-time mum when I defaulted on the payments," she says. "I was so wrapped up in every little problem I had with the baby, I didn't even realise I had defaulted for two months."
The court agreed to waive much of her debt but insisted she pay $1200, a small proportion of the total sum but a substantial amount nonetheless for a young family with big challenges.
Mr Nelthorpe says the non-payment of tolls should be matter between the tolling companies and toll road users. And he says that follow-up invoices should generate one administrative fee per offender to keep the overall penalty within reason. "For many people, the bigger the amount the less they are inclined to face it," he says.
Georgia says the multitude of fines and the size of her toll debts only compounded more pressing personal problems. "I think I was in denial. Honestly if you've been living your life and someone comes up to you and says, 'You owe us $57,000', it's a ridiculous amount of money. Do they really expect a 24-year-old to be able to handle the stress of such a large debt, let alone be able to pay it?"
To date the Andrews government has shown no interest in tackling the escalating toll infringement debt. Nor does it even acknowledge a problem.
Acting Attorney-General Jane Garrett simply stressed that 99 per cent of those who used toll roads did so legally.
A department spokeswoman stressed that tolls were well publicised and "motorists actively choose to drive on toll roads".
"While the majority of people do the right thing, unfortunately there are always a small percentage who choose to flout the law," said the spokeswoman.
theage.com.au 7 Jan 2016
What the corporate media is NOT telling you is that:
- The person who knocks on your door is NOT a real sheriff.
- The face of the 'public' 'sheriff' Brendan Facey is not in office lawfully.
- The Sheriff Act 2009 has not been enacted lawfully.
One-third of Australian pensioners live in poverty, according to a report by the OECD, Photo: Greg Newington
The findings of the OECD report, Pensions at a Glance 2015, compared Australia to 33 other countries.
Australia was ranked second lowest on social equity, with 36 per cent of pensioners living below the poverty line, which the report defined as half the relevant country's median household income.
Australian pensioners fared better than their counterparts in South Korea, where 50 per cent live below the poverty line but performed poorly against the OECD average of 12.6 per cent.
The report, released last month, found the Australian government contributes less to old-age benefits than other OECD countries. The Australian government spends 3.5 per cent of GDP on the pension, below the OECD average of 7.9 per cent.
The findings are backed up by the Global Age Watch Index 2015 report card which rates countries by how well their older populations are faring.
It ranked Australia lowest in its region on income security, due to the high rate of old age poverty and pension coverage which is below the regional average.
Paul Versteege, senior research and advocacy adviser with the Combined Pensioner and Superannuants Association, said the base Australian pension rate was low compared to median household incomes.
"There are huge discrepancies among retirees in various countries," he said.
"In Australia there is quite a large group that has to subsist on the age pension as its only source of income. In spite of pension reform and recent increases to the pension, the base pension is still quite low for singles."
The annual payment for a single person is about $22,000 and $34,000 for a couple, with 2.25 million Australians claiming the pension.
Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said the report challenged perceptions that the entitlement was too high.
"Claims that the age pension is somehow too extravagant and unsustainable do not bear out," he said.
"We have always argued for progressive improvements to the pension but at the moment an increase to the pension is highly unlikely and more focus ought to go towards building superannuation contributions."
Chief executive of Vision Super Stephen Rowe said he was "staggered" by the findings of the OECD report, saying it painted a bleak picture for many older Australians.
"Are we generous enough with the pension? I don't think so."
He said that Australians retiring now have not received the full benefit of compulsory superannuation contributions, introduced in 1992, but were grappling with rising living costs.
"The basic cost of living in Australia is quite high, compared with some other OECD countries," Mr Rowe said.
Chief executive of National Seniors Michael O'Neill said the pension had gone backwards in real terms and many older people had not accumulated enough superannuation to supplement the benefit.
"In terms of sustainability, the report confirms that Australia spends substantially less than the OECD average on pensions," he said.
"In fact, our pension spend has dropped and plateaued since 2000. Against other countries, our proportion of pensioners living below the poverty line is startling."
06 January 2016
AS WILL Smith would say: “Welcome to Erf.”Thirty-five years ago, fighter pilot Oscar Santa Maria Huerta had a real-life Independence Day moment when he attempted to shoot down a mysterious light-bulb shaped craft, in what to this day remains the only documented case of a military aircraft firing on a UFO.
It was early on the morning of April 11, 1980, and the 23-year-old Peruvian air force lieutenant was preparing for daily exercises along with around 1800 military personnel and civilians at the La Joya Air Force Base, 1000km south of the Peruvian capital.
Lt Huerta, a pilot with eight years’ experience who had been flying combat missions since 19, was ordered to take off in his Russian-made Sukhoi-22 fighter to intercept the strange silvery object that had been spotted floating near the end of the runway.
The object was five kilometres away, hanging in the air about 600 metres off the ground, and was not replying to any communications.
“This ‘balloon’ was in restricted air space without authorisation, representing a grave challenge to national sovereignty,” the now-retired Colonel writes in UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record.
“It had to come down. La Joya was one of the few bases in South America that possessed Soviet-made warfare equipment, and we were concerned about espionage,” he wrote.
After takeoff, Colonel Huerta flew to 2,500 metres and came in for an attack run. “I reached the necessary distance and shot a burst of sixty-four 30mm shells, which created a cone-shaped ‘wall of fire’ that would normally obliterate anything in its path,” he writes.
Just one of those shells would wipe out a car, but they had no effect on the object. “I thought that the balloon would then be torn open and gases would start pouring out of it. But nothing happened. It seemed as if the huge bullets were absorbed by the balloon, and it wasn’t damaged at all.”
Turning up and to the right, Colonel Huerta attempted to position himself for another shot.
“I began closing in on it until I had it in perfect sight,” he writes. “I locked on the target and was ready to shoot. But just at that moment, the object made another fast climb, evading the attack. I was left underneath it; it ‘broke the attack’.”
He attempted the same manoeuvre two more times, and each time the object escaped by shooting upwards seconds before he could fire.
By this time the object was 14,000 metres above ground. Colonel Huerta decided to attempt an attack from above, so it could not leave his target range, but the object shadowed him all the way up to 19,200 metres — well above his aircraft’s specifications.
Running low on fuel, he realised he couldn’t continue the attack, so decided to fly close to the object to get a better look. It wasn’t until he was 100m away that he realised what it was.
“The bottom was a wider circular base, a silver colour, and looked like some kind of metal. It lacked all the typical components of aircraft. It had no wings, propulsion jets, exhausts, windows, antennae, and so forth. It had no visible propulsion system.
“At that moment, I realised this was not a spying device but a UFO, something totally unknown. I was almost out of fuel, so I couldn’t attack or manoeuvre my plane, or make a high-speed escape. Suddenly, I was afraid. I thought I might be finished.”
Colonel Huerta made his return, gliding part way due to lack of fuel and “zigzagging to make my plane harder to hit, always with my eyes on the rearview mirrors, hoping it wouldn’t chase me”.
Colonel Huerta says the craft was witnessed by everyone on the base, many of whom were required to give reports. A June, 1980 document from the US Department of Defence titled ‘UFO Sighted in Peru’, describes the incident, stating only that the object remains of unknown origin.
A similar incident occurred in 1976, when Iranian air force General Parviz Jafari attempted to fire on a UFO but found his equipment malfunctioning. “My equipment was mechanical, and perhaps that’s the reason it could not be shut down, so instead, the object had to jump away at the last minute,” Colonel Huerta writes.
“I find myself in the unique position, at least for the moment, and as far as I know, of being the only military pilot in the world who has actually fired a weapon and struck a UFO. It still gives me chills to think about it.”
05 January 2016
Is 'useless' a deliberate action that allows [other] people to get away with corporate crimes?
Are the people in the ACCC paid to turn the other way?
The ACCC allows dodgy business operators to stay in business rather than closing them down and putting them before the courts. People like Henry Kaye (or Kukuy) with his sister Julia 'Feldman' (nee Kukuy).
The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is supposed to 'protect' the consumer?
Could it be said that the ACCC is supportive of corporate criminals running the country, or could that be relegated to a 'conspiracy theory'?
If you don't protect yourself no one else will, least of the corporation conglomerate (nee government).
The serious message is hidden in an automotive article from 31 Dec 2015 by news.com.au of the headline:
The biggest surprises in motoring in 2015
Joshua DowlingNews Corp Australia Network
Here the 10 highlights and lowlights from the motoring world in 2015. Here’s to a better 2016!
Motoring highlights of 2015:
1) We can’t get enough V8s
High petrol prices? Pah! Australians gorged themselves on V8s in 2015. More than one third of all Holden Commodores sold was a V8 — in the year that Holden released a thirstier V8 than the one it replaced!
Never before has a car company been so rewarded for an increased thirst for fuel. The trade-off: more power! Grr, grr, grr.
When Holden grabbed the Corvette V8 for the Commodore SS, it forced Holden Special Vehicles to fit the supercharged V8 from the GTS to the Clubsport sedan and wagon and Maloo ute. Buyers are lapping it up while they can; the imported 2018 Commodore won’t be available with V8 power (see “lowlights”).
Over at Ford, the blue oval brand had to DOUBLE production of its supercharged XR8 Falcon sports sedan because it underestimated demand even though someone paid $236,100 for the last Ford Falcon GT in 2014.
Then Ford undercalled how many Mustangs it thought it could sell. It expected to sell 1000 in the first year, but is now holding 4000 orders and there is a year-long wait. The downside: Ford put the price up. It blamed US currency but even the boss said demand was major factor in the price hike.
When Jeep owner Teg Sethi wasn’t happy with the response he got from the US car giant over repeated quality and reliability issues with his Grand Cherokee, he spent $8000 of his own money to create a You Tube video clip that went viral and global. It clocked up more than 2.2 million views in no time. Now various state government departments are reviewing why Australia has among the weakest lemon laws in the developed world. In the US, cars with problems like this would have been replaced or refunded.
Following a special investigation, Toyota Australia uncovered a range of dangerous counterfeit parts, including airbag spiral cables that could fail to deploy in a crash, and brake pads fitted with asbestos. The parts — sold in what appears to be genuine Toyota packaging — were imported by unscrupulous independent repairers at a fraction of the cost of the genuine parts. Toyota took legal action to stop the sale of the potentially deadly goods after various agencies including the ACCC did not or would not act. Later, thousands of counterfeit wheels for popular cars were also exposed after testing and independent repairers showed how easily they can be buckled after hitting a pothole.
Utes are becoming the new family car, as they become more luxurious and get more safety equipment. Utes are now the third biggest market segment behind small cars and SUVs. Used for work and play, they are often used on worksites during the week and then to take the family camping/tow a boat or caravan/carry bikes/carry surf gear on weekends. In 2015, we had five all-new or overhauled models arrive within months of each other, including the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, and Mazda BT-50. Next year expect big changes to the Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max utes. And there is some homework for certain brands after Toyota put a rear camera as standard on all HiLux ute models. Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Isuzu and Holden, please make 2016 the year you too put cameras as standard across all ute models.
A rare 1960 Volkswagen Kombi Samba Microbus set what is believed to be a world record when it went under the hammer in February for $202,000.
Proving that it wasn’t a once-off, someone else paid an eye-watering $158,000 for a similar Kombi in another classic car auction in November.
“Most of the old Kombis in the UK and Europe have deteriorated beyond repair due to all the salt they put on the roads in winter, they just rust out,” says Ray Black, the president of the Volkswagen Classic and Vintage Club of Australia.
“So a lot of foreign buyers have been coming over here and buying our Kombis in almost any condition.”
The latest big dollar result was for a 1967 “11-window” Kombi assembled in Australia that had just two owners throughout its 48-year history.
Motoring lowlights of 2015
1) VW diesel scandal
It’s the biggest scandal to rock the car industry in decades and will take years for the company to recover.
German car giant Volkswagen was busted for creating software that cheated emissions tests on its diesel cars in the US. The cheat was discovered after a university study sought to prove how good VWs were, but grew suspicious when they couldn’t replicate the lab figures in the real world. The university notified the US Environmental Protection Authority who, in turn, asked Volkswagen to “please explain”. VW said there must have been a fault with those vehicles but said they would order a recall as a precaution. Months later, when the EPA retested the recalled vehicles, they still blew the emissions meters by up to 40 times the legal limit. Finally, VW came clean about the cover up in the US and overseas, and now 11 million cars globally are being recalled, including about 100,000 in Australia.
Japanese airbag supplier Takata was forced to recall more than 34 million cars worldwide after it was found some of its airbags could detonate shrapnel if deployed in certain conditions. So far, eight deaths globally have been attributed to the faulty airbags, which were fitted to certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Chrysler and Mercedes vehicles. More than 800,000 cars were eventually recalled in Australia alone, but many won’t be fixed until 2016 because of the backlog.
It was a test drive veteran News Corp motoring journalist Peter Barnwell will never forget. He was testing the new Ford Everest SUV when, after a series of odd electrical faults, the instrument display went blank, the engine suddenly died and then fire started appearing from under the bonnet. He pulled over immediately, called 000 and hid behind a nearby tree to avoid the shrapnel from the burning wreck. The Everest was a write-off but Ford found the cause within days even though there was barely a shell left. Apparently a worker forgot to connect one of six battery cables after the battery went flat near the Everest factory’s holding yard in Thailand. Ford Australia says there is no need to recall the Everest or the Ranger ute, which shares the same engine and electrical systems.
Aussie V8 fans will have to get used to four-cylinder and V6 power for their future performance sedans. The Asia-Pacific boss of General Motors, Stefan Jacoby, confirmed at the Frankfurt motor show in September what has long been feared. The Holden Commodore V8 will die once manufacturing comes to an end at Holden’s factory in Elizabeth in South Australia at the end of 2017. In an interview with Australian media, Mr Jacoby said: “The world obviously is changing and the V8 period is coming to an end.” The V8 is the single biggest-selling version of the current Holden Commodore and one of the few models not to go down in sales. RIP: V8 Commodore.
Ethanol-blended fuel (known as E10, because 10 per cent is Ethanol and 90 per cent is regular unleaded) is once again about to be forced on NSW motorists — even though you have to burn more of it to travel the same distance as you would on regular fuel. Because E10 burns faster, independent testing has found the environmental benefit is negligible and motorists have the added inconvenience of having to refill more often — or use more expensive fuel. Other states such as Queensland and Victoria have largely shunned E10 because of the questionable benefit. Consumer groups fear motorists are lulled into using the fuel under false pretences. It’s cheaper at the pump, but you have to buy more of it to travel the same distance as regular fuel. So why has it been forced on NSW motorists and fuel retailers? Displaying E10 pricing also restricts price pressure on 98 premium unleaded, the dearest fuel. E10 takes up space on pricing boards that would otherwise be used to display the price of 98 premium unleaded. Thanks for nothing.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling
03 January 2016
- involved in criminal activity,
- remain 'at large' and
- are above the law immune from any prosecution.
This is the reality the masses face as they reside on this continent which is still a colony.
The attitude of the authorities is that the general populous are criminals (either past, current or future) but sssshhhhh don't tell the
Make no mistake about it, the police 'force' are a bunch of (alleged) criminals, whether it be at state or federal level.
In this case the people in the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have committed criminal offences against the general public which under the Commonwealth Crimes Act (1914), are indictable offences.
In reality there should be Royal Commission, but it is very doubtful that this will happen with regards to this matter.
From an I.T perspective there is a HUGE advantage that the authorities have when their 'slaves' are using 'smart' phones.
The advantage is that programs (modern term - apps) can be uploaded (pushed) to the target's phone without their knowledge, basically gaining unauthorised access to equipment, also a breach of various other 'laws' (or Acts), where the validity of those Acts is put aside.
Do you REALLY need a 'smart' phone to call or text someone??? !!! ???
Despite what the police will officially state that - "the conversations police recorded were not obtained by illegality" - You can bet your 'Constitution' that they were factually obtained ILLEGALLY.
The 'victims' 'should' take action against the people involved.
See article from 23 Dec 2015 by the Herald Sun publication of the title:
Australian Federal Police remotely turning phones of criminals into listening devices
POLICE are secretly turning the mobile phones of criminals into listening devices to record their face-to-face meetings.
The hi-tech spying tactic involves officers remotely uploading a hidden program to a phone, which turns it into a microphone and records its unwitting user’s offline conversations.
Two alleged drug traffickers launched an appeal against the investigative technique after one of their phones was bugged by the Australian Federal Police.
The pair are facing a County Court trial charged with conspiracy to traffic a large commercial quantity of ecstasy or MDMA in 2013.
But the Court of Appeal last week rejected their bid to stop the AFP using evidence it obtained from conversations recorded through the phone.
Instead, a panel of three judges determined that the sneaky crime-fighting tactic was legal under the Surveillance Devices Act.
AFP officers had obtained a warrant to use “listening, optical, data and tracking surveillance devices” as part of the investigation.
The court heard the AFP secretly uploaded software to the accused’s mobile phone “remotely via the mobile telephone network”.
“The telephone with the microphone thus activated by the software permitted the transmission of face-to-face conversations via the mobile telephone network to police at a remote location where they were recorded,” Justice Phillip Priest said.
“At least several conversations involving the accused, sought to be relied upon by the Crown, had been recorded as a result of software having been remotely uploaded to (the accused’s) mobile phone.”
The alleged traffickers argued the conversations could not be used against them because the recordings were illegally obtained, claiming the phone was not an approved surveillance device.
But lawyers for the AFP argued that the phone was a surveillance device because it was “clearly capable of being used to record, monitor or listen to a conversation”.
Justice Priest said it was “tolerably clear” that the phone was a legal listening device and the conversations police recorded were not obtained by “illegality”.