Archive for January 2019

Election 2016: Labor petitions disappear ahead of major savings announcements

A link to the now defunct petition. Election 2016: news, analysis and video
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Labor has quietly ditched its online petitions on pensions and family benefits, ahead of a major savings announcement on Friday which is expected to take the axe to welfare payments.

The websites DontPocketOurPensions南京夜网419论坛 and GiveFamiliesAFairGo.org have disappeared in recent weeks as Labor eyes savings designed to bolster its budget bottom line and mute the government’s “black hole” attacks.

The campaign on pensions railed against the government’s moves to change the pension assets test, slash concessions by $1.3 billion and lift the qualifying age to 70.

“The leader of the Liberals may have changed, but their unfair pension cuts remain exactly the same,” the petition stated, in a version of the website archived on April 4.

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek still had a link to the petition on her website early on Friday morning, but it was later removed.

Similarly, the now-defunct website “Give Families A Fair Go” implored visitors to sign a petition against so-called cuts to 1.5 million families, including the Schoolkids Bonus.

Labor has already pledged not to restore the bonus – a product of the Gillard Labor government – due to budgetary constraints. The Coalition axed the $4.5 billion payment in 2014 and the final cheques will be issued next month.

Labor sources confirmed the pages were taken down about two weeks ago. Links to both petitions have subsequently disappeared from the website of Labor’s families spokeswoman, Jenny Macklin.

The political imperative of returning the budget to surplus is now set to see Labor jettison a number of welfare provisions it had previously promised to protect. It will today clarify its position on what it calls the “zombie measures” that have failed to pass the Senate.

“We will resolve not to oppose some measures, and confirm our continued opposition to others,” a party spokesman said on Thursday night.

“We will announce some new measures that better target family payments, while protecting those who need support the most. Families will still be better off under Labor.”

The Turnbull government has heaped pressure on Labor over its spending promises in the election campaign, insisting the opposition has a “black hole” in its figures between $22 billion and $67 billion.

The so-called zombie measures are worth an estimated $9.2 billion over four years and $31.3 billion over 10 years, according to updated Parliamentary Budget Office estimates.

Labor has promised it would return the budget into surplus in 2020-21, the same year the government plans to, but would run higher deficits in the intermediary four years.

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RV net widens as vet is charged

Albury veterinarian Dr Bob Fielding.ALBURY veterinary surgeon Bob Fielding has been caught upin the Racing Victoria stewards probe of Wodonga trainer Brian Cox.
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The vet has been hit with three charges following the investigation which detected a prohibited substance at Mr Cox’s stables in Wodonga in early March.

Stewards allege Dr Fielding sold Mr Cox 1kg of Nitrotain, whichcontains the prohibited substance Ethylestrenol.

The alleged sale was recorded in Dr Fielding’s “day diary”, but heissued an invoice to Cox Racing listing “Pentosan 50ml & 6ml x 2″‘ as the product of purchase when it was “Nitrotain 1kg”.

Dr Fielding is also alleged to have givenfalse evidence when questioned by stewards in relation to the matter on April 29.

The stewards issued the charges late on Thursday.

The Border Mailattempted to contact Dr Fielding for comment, but was unsuccessful.

He is engaged by Mr Cox to treat his horses.

Stewards also allege Dr Fielding gave false evidence in an interview with stewards regarding the veterinary advice he gave MrCox last December regarding the horse Cochranes Gap.

Last month, Mr Cox was hit with 13 charges from stewards in relation to the stable inspection.

He is facing a minimum mandatory disqualification period of three years if found guilty on any of the charges relating to theadministration of the steroid.

Mr Cox is also facing charges of allegedlymanhandlingsteward Dion Villella in an attempt to remove the prohibited substance from him.

The leading Wodonga trainer has also been charged with pushing another steward, Rhys Melville, during the visit.

Stewards allegeMrCox was given veterinary advice on December 8 last year to rest and confine the horseCochranes Gapfor a period of two to three months to overcome a serious leg wound.

The horse waspresented for a jump out at Wangaratta the next day.

Mr Cox has been ordered to front the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, but no date for the hearing has been set.

Dr Fielding has also been ordered to appear before the RAD board at a future date.

Mr Cox has been able to continue to train during the stewards investigation and had runners at Swan Hill on Friday.Dr Fielding is the regularly appointed vetat Bordermeets.

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A lifetime of saving lives

LONG STINT: Warren Mannion has begun his 40th year as a paramedic – and has no intention of calling it quits any time soon. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 050916cpara1IT is a long way fromcompleting a butcher’s apprenticeship to notching up four decades as anambulance officer andparamedic, but Bathurstresident Warren Mannion is on the verge of doing just that.
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And he has no intention of stopping.

At least, no intention until his beloved Cronulla Sharks have finally won a premiership, anyway.

When he’s not copping jokes about the Sharks’ Amco Cup win and when that trophy might have some company, he is a father, a grandfather, and an overseer of the nextgeneration of local paramedics.

He has now entered his 40th year in the profession – which is a long time to be helping to save lives.

“My dad was a paramedic for 35 years, so it is in the blood. I was an ‘ambo baby’ and lived around stations the whole time I was growing up, so that made it a logical career path in some ways,” he said.

“I am actually a butcher by trade. I finished myapprenticeship and came home one day and saw mum watching the Granville train disaster on television and dad was actually on the coverage.

“After seeing that I made the decision that it was what I wanted to do.”

Initially, Mr Mannion was stationed at Rockdale, south of the Sydney city area, before a regional transfer, and he has stayed west of the Blue Mountains ever since.

“I did regional and remote postings. I worked on aeromedical and helicopter units for six years, which was a bit of an experience,” he said.

“There have been a hell of a lot of things I’ve enjoyed about the job and, though it is starting to wind down a bit now and I’m more involved in paramedic education, it is still something I really enjoy.

“I’m an operational intensive care paramedic, but my main role now is assisting with the certification of currentparamedics and helping them maintain their skill-base and their qualifications.

“The whole profession changes a lot. It has changed so much since I started with the new drugs, equipment and skills that everyone needs to know.

“We are probably busier now than we have ever been, and everything has changed accordingly with that. The design of ambulances isobviously a lot different, and we even have electronically-operating stretchers now.”

In such a vital profession there have naturally been plenty of calls that Mr Mannion would prefer to forget, and in his job there isn’t much he hasn’t seen or had to deal with.

But on the flipside, thesatisfaction of saving lives and, in some cases, welcoming new life, is more than enough to make up for the bad days.

“You do see the sadness, the accidents and so forth that come with the job, but any time you can help deliver a baby is something amazing,” he said.

“It is a real high that you get from seeing a new life come into the world. That sort of thing makes it far easier to focus on the positives of the profession than the negatives.”

While his role as more of an educator than a regularlyrostered officer means that his career is beginning to wind down, he says he has nointention of giving it away just yet even if other things are starting to become a priority.

A dad to Tim and Jennifer and grandpa to Harry, Samara and Emerson, he spends as much time as he can with them as well as his partner Kat and her children Kobie, Kelsi and Mathew.

“Kat has spent the last 15 years as a paramedic as well, so it is hard to get away from it,” he said.

“The kids have all grown up and moved out; a few of them are doing uni. It is starting to get towards the end for me professionally, but I’ve still got a few years left in me. I might call it quits when the Sharks win a comp. I’m not holding my breath for that, though.”

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CFA crisis continues: Board given deadline

RELATED: Wimmera volunteer speaks out about CFA disputeWimmera firefighters battle to be heardUPDATE
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The CFA board has been given an ultimatum –it has until 5pm to accept the controversial deal with the firefighters’ union or face dismissal.

The ultimatum was delivered on Friday afternoonby Deputy Premier James Merlino, as he was announced as a replacement for former Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.

EARLIER

The government will ram through the controversial enterprise agreement with theUnitedFirefighters Union.

The drawn-out deal has divided some volunteers and led the to the resignation of embattled emergency services minister Jane Garrett.

Following Ms Garrett’s resignation the cabinet formally accepted the Fair Work Commission recommendations but added “safeguards for volunteer firefighters” intothe agreement.

It hasinsertedclausesthat clearly specify the role of volunteers and theservices they provide and states they are not altered by the EBA.

Police minister Lisa Neville said the government has unanimously chosen to reach an agreement.

She said the government had negotiated additional clauses that would assure volunteers the work they currently do would not be impacted.

The government has given the following answers to the listed concerns raised by the CFA:

Diversity

Mr Andrews said a statement of joint intent between the CFA and the UFU would be created to ensure theagreement would not override the National Employment Standardsaround requesting flexible working arrangements .

Sevenon the ground

One of the most contentious issues has been the requirement for seven professional firefighters to be dispatched to a fire incident.

“A statement of joint intent between the CFA and the UFU will commit the parties to working together on the rollout of 350 new firefighters and the implementation of the seven on the fireground dispatch model,” the statement says.

Consultation and dispute resolution

On controversial consultation and dispute resolution procedures the government will seek a commitment from the parties that “agreement will not be unreasonably withheld”.

“Volunteer and career firefighters have told us they’re sick of being used as a political football – they want this fixed because they want the focus back on fighting fires and keeping their communities safe,” Mr Andrews said.

“I’m not having this drag on for another 1000 days – because that’s not safe, and that’s not fair.”

FRIDAY MORNING

EMBATTLED emergency services minister Jane Garrett has resigned from cabinet because she was unable to support the cabinets proposal to end the bitter CFA enterprise agreement dispute.

Premier Daniel Andrews released a statement accepting Ms Garret’s resignation.

“Despite all concerns previously raised by Ms Garrett being addressed, she had indicated she refuses to support Cabinet proposals to end the long-running dispute over the CFA enterprise agreement,” Mr Andrews said.

Ms Garrett has been vehemently opposed to the government’s proposed deal with the firefighters union.

She has shared the CFA and volunteers’ concern that the deal, as it stands, would undermine the role of volunteers and management to do their job.

​What this means for the CFA board, who have opposed the agreement, and their fears the Andrews’ government will capitulate to the demands of the United Firefighters Union is yet to be determined.

Ms Garett’s resignation comes as asenior government minister wasforced to mounta humiliatingretreat after claiming in Parliament key elements of its industrial dealwith the firefightersunion had been cleared by the Fair Work Commission boss.

In the latest debacle capping off a shambolic week for the Andrews government,Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins was forced admit to Parliament thatshe “mispoke” after claiming Fair Work president Iain Ross had said the deal would improve diversity in the fire services.

“In an attempt to summarise complex issues for the benefit of the house I paraphrased in a way that unintentionally overstated the President’s comments,” Ms Hutchins said.

After a crisis meeting in Premier Daniel Andrews’ office on Thursday afternoon,Ms Hutchins has written an apology to Mr Ross, which he has accepted.

And in a sign that the industrial standoff with the CFA continues, the board said it hadlegal advice from a senior counsel that “unlawful terms” remain in the latest version of the deal and it would not sign.

That followed a finding from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission that key elements of the deal breach diversity laws.

Cabinet is set to meet on Friday to discuss the finalised role of Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley’s role overseeing the implementation of the controversial deal.

But others in caucus are angry at the government’s handling of the entire chaotic week.

“What does it look like to volunteers? The IR minister has had to recant. A minister can’t even read a two minute statement and get it right,” a caucus source said.

“It is pretty poor to see ministers taking pot shots at each other,” another said.

Labor is hoping that the dispute will be resolved this week. Otherwise, the government will be forced to resort to a “plan B” option likely to involve sacking the CFA Board.

Following question time where Ms Hutchins said she had been given assurances that the agreement would not damage diversity,Opposition industrial relations spokesman John Pesuttospoke to Mr Ross and was told nosuch assurances had been given.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy accused the government of trying “every tactic in the book” to force the CFA board – including verballingMr Ross. He said under the precedentsof the Westminster system Ms Hutchins should resign.

Ms Garrett was grilled in parliament by the Opposition.

“The board and the CEO agree with me and this government that we want a resolution to this dispute that supports both career and volunteer firefighters,” she said.

Before question time Mr Andrews said he was “very, very positive” the government was making progress.

“We are making real headway, real progress and I am just so determined, so determined, to make sure that we get a good outcome for volunteers, for the career firefighters, because unless we do that, we’ll be compromising the safety of our state,” hesaid.

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Top marks

A FIFTH Olympic qualifier in as many weeks has catapulted Tasmanian javelin thrower Hamish Peacock into career-best form two months out from the Rio Games.
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After a frustrating season of near misses to the magical 83-metre mark, the 25-year-old UTas athlete landed three in one competition on a sensational night in Norway.

Peacock’s best of 84.25m in the final round of the Diamond League meet in Oslosaw him finish fourth behind German winnerThomas Roehler, but the Tasmanian’s consistency was demonstrated byhis series also including throws of 81.86, 83.84, 79.48, 82.90and 83.47.

It follows his maiden Olympic Games standard of 83.53from the Golden Grand Prix in Japan last month, before a new personal best of 84.39in his home town of Hobart and victory at a meet in the Spanish city of Huelva last weekend.

Peacock’s manager, former Athletics Tasmania president and six-time Olympic officialBrian Roe, said the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist is beginning to develop some useful habits.

“For me, this was his best result in this level of company,” Roe said.“Hamish is doing all the right things as it gets closer to when it really matters.”

Roe said that to continue competing after round 3 in Diamond League meets, throwers must be in the top four.“It makes itfar more cut-throat so you’ve got to be on your guard right from the beginning.

“Hamish just missed out and finished fifth in Shanghai so it was an additional focus for him in Oslo.

“Also, his best throw came in the final round which is a good skill to have when things get tight at the end of championship meets.”

Roe said Peacock’s realistic aim on his Olympic debut in Rio will be to make the top 12 to qualify for the final, then the top eight which continue after the third round.

In a busy program for Tasmanian athletes in Europe, Peacock will next compete in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Tuesday,three days after Hobart’sLondon Olympian Tristan Thomas runs the 400-metre hurdles in nearby Geneva and five days before King IslanderStewart McSweyn contests the 3000m steeplechaseat theSavo Games in Finland.

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