Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hospital in the dark over rape claims

THE medical regulator failed to tell a Victorian hospital its only obstetrician was being investigated over rape allegations.

Regulators banned Stawell Hospital's Arthur Obi from examining patients alone pending a police investigation that ended with his acquittal in December.

The ban took effect last January and remains in place.

A Herald Sun investigation has established that the hospital was not told of the ban until April and that even now, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has still not told them why it was imposed.

"(The agency) ... does not share sensitive information that could compromise internal procedures," a spokesman said.

The agency last night conceded in a statement to the Herald Sun that it should have alerted the hospital before April and that it had changed its systems to ensure it did not happen again.

Spokeswoman Nicole Newton said doctors also had a legal and ethical responsibility to inform their employers and Dr Obi's conditions had been on the regulator's public database for a year.

Its records show Dr Obi, who also works in a private clinic in Stawell, is not permitted to perform "intimate examinations" without a female chaperon in the room.

He is also required to display a sign telling patients of the chaperon order.

The Herald Sun has confirmed through court records that Dr Obi's conditions relate to allegations he digitally raped a patient in 2008 and 2010.

Dr Obi denies the claims and was found not guilty on six counts of rape and sexual assault in the Ballarat County Court in December.

The court heard Dr Obi was also the subject of complaints of harassment and unprofessional conduct from nurses and doctors.

One doctor allegedly complained that Dr Obi failed to communicate with medics during the resuscitation of an infant in 2010.

One of Dr Obi's lawyers told the court Dr Obi thought he had verbally mentioned the chaperon condition to the hospital and that any failure to comply was unintentional.

He also told the court the regulator had resolved to take no further action over the claims of harassment and unprofessional conduct.

The hospital confirmed to the Herald Sun it terminated his contract in May.

Dr Obi moved to Stawell from London after a global recruitment drive. His sacking has divided the town, with hundreds supporting his reinstatement.

heraldsun.com.au 27 Jan 2012

Another timeless example of how the system fails the citizens, but no the corporates.


Toyota sickies claim sparks fury among Aussies

A ROW has erupted over the work ethic of Australians after Toyota president Max Yasuda claimed his company had a sick-day epidemic around long weekends.

Toyota union representatives labelled the claims "nonsense", while Prime Minister Julia Gillard said there had always been workers who abused sick leave.

But research has found almost a third of businesses believe non-genuine sick days are on the rise, with Australian employees taking 9.4 days' sick leave a year on average.

Absenteeism is estimated to cost the economy $30 billion a year.

Workers in the health, banking, hospitality and government sectors are most likely to call in sick, each averaging more than 10 days per worker. Manufacturing workers had 8.5 days sick leave on average.

Absenteeism expert Paul Dundon, of Direct Health Solutions, said the power of unions in Australia contributed to the sick-day culture.

"High absenteeism makes workplaces unproductive, but unions have a lot of power and there's fear among business to do something about it," he said.

Ms Gillard yesterday admitted some Australians took unnecessary sick days. "I think we have just got to be a little bit sensible here - yes, there are times when people take sick days they shouldn't have," she said.

Mr Yasuda sparked outrage when he claimed in the Australian Financial Review that absenteeism was as high as 30 per cent at the company's Altona plant, particularly around long weekends.

But Paul Difelice, regional secretary for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union vehicle division, said the only time sick leave hit that figure was last Friday - the day after Australia Day, giving absent workers a four-day weekend.

"They are ill-informed comments," Mr Difelice said. "Saying sick leave is a problem at Altona is nonsense."

The spike in sick leave last Friday came in the same week Toyota sacked 350 workers.

Ian Jones, federal secretary of the AMWU vehicle division, said he was "puzzled" by Mr Yasuda's comments and demanded a meeting with him to explain them.

heraldsun.com.au 3 Feb 2012

Another misrepresentation coming from the mouth of a so called 'leader', from a nation of slave labour.

The pressure is put on the Japanese workers that if you take your owed holiday period, you are seen as a non company person.

The company has one objective only, and that is to have high profits, at the expense of working conditions or company morale.

The sacking of workers is a move only to maximise profits.

What a bunch of party plankers

THE Commonwealth Bank is celebrating its home-loan selling success with a "pirate party", days after raising interest rates on customers to protect mega-profits.

The bank is flying 200 of its "mobile bankers and mortgage innovators" from throughout the country to Lorne for a gala dinner on a "treasure island".

CBA staff are ordered to come dressed as a "pirate, wench, rascal, scoundrel or villain", with those refusing to join in the fun ordered to "walk the plank".

What do you think of the CBA's pirate bash? Have your say below.

But CBA workers are mocking the party, saying most customers believe bankers are already pirates.

They say the party is just another slap in the face for customers faced with "over-priced loans".

The bank said last night it was not paying for the March 5 party. Third-party suppliers were footing the bill.

Consumer group Choice urged the Commonwealth Bank to make the pirate outfits official uniform.

"This is definitely showing they are determined to be different - CBA has really nailed their colours to the mast," Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said.

"Don't stop with just the party, they should come to work dressed as blood-curdling pirates with cutlasses, eye patches and great big hats."

It comes as French bank Societe Generale said yesterday Australia's big four banks' claims they needed to increase their interest rates this month because of funding costs were "dubious."

And ANZ was lashed with harsh criticism last week after the Herald Sun revealed it was sending its top performers on a luxury cruise to Malaysia's Langkawi islands.

In a "reply all" to an email invitation to the party at Lorne's Mantra Erskine Beach Resort, a Commonwealth Bank staff member wrote: "How ironic, theme for Lorne is pirates.

"Just been listening to 3AW today and they are having a field day on the CBA after announcing interest rate increase. They are calling us pirates, so I guess on that note we could all wear our Corporate Wardrobe at Lorne."

Thrive PR account manager Alicia Grabowski said both the Commonwealth and ANZ banks had shown disrespect to their customers by failing to cancel their celebrations.

"You can lose all the money in the world and still operate a business, but if you lose your reputation you are bankrupt," she said.

The pirate party is part of the Commonwealth Bank's 2012 national conference for mobile lenders, March 4-6.

The bank hit the mortgagees with a rate rise of 0.1 of a percentage point last week, pushing its variable rate to 7.41 per cent, as it posted a $3.57 billion half-year profit, which was up 7 per cent.

A CBA spokesman said: "The bank's focus on its customers has seen its customer satisfaction ratings reach all-time highs and the gap continuing to narrow between the CBA and the highest-rated competitor.

"The bank will continue to place emphasis on customer satisfaction and ensuring customer needs are met."

ninemsn.com.au 22 Feb 2012

Police bungle on a huge scale

THREE-QUARTERS of Victoria Police officers have confessed to illegally preparing affidavits used to get search and other warrants.

An investigation by the force has identified almost 3000 pending criminal cases in Magistrates' courts which could be affected by the affidavit bungle and faulty affidavits will also be an issue in 299 upcoming Supreme and County Court cases.

Hundreds of convicted criminals are also likely to try to get their convictions overturned by arguing evidence obtained from dodgy affidavits was wrongly used against them.

"There are certainly cases we will be losing and there are others where we will lose some of the charges,'' Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said yesterday.

The more than 9000 police who recently admitted failing to correctly swear affidavits were flushed out by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay's promise not to take disciplinary action against officers who confessed.

Mr Lay's amnesty, which was revealed in the Herald Sun in December last year, resulted in 75 per cent of the force signing disclosure forms admitting to incorrectly preparing affidavits.

A Victoria Police probe into the problem revealed the practice of officers failing to swear affidavits started at least 15 years ago and involves ranks right up to deputy commissioner.

The Herald Sun has also discovered:

POLICE will stop investigations and not lay charges in some cases as a result of faulty affidavits.

SOME of the forces most experienced detectives, including from the Purana gangland killing taskforce, the homicide squad, the Ethical Standards Department and the drug taskforce, have admitted flouting the law for years by not swearing affidavits.

THE embarrassing debacle has also infected the vast majority of suburban and country police stations.

Mr Cartwright stressed that not swearing an affidavit did not mean the contents of the affidavit were false as officers believed that by signing it they were attesting to its accuracy.

But he said he wasn't making excuses for so many in the force having incorrectly prepared affidavits for so long.

"It is deeply regrettable that we have actually had to go through this,'' Mr Cartwright said.

"We have 9000 members who say basically we got it wrong, or we are not sure we got it right. We shouldn't have got to that situation.

"Having said that, once we have discovered the problem we have worked really hard, and we continue to work hard, to fix it.''

"What the challenge is now is to make sure that in future we don't have other similar problems and that we have fixed whatever it is that is the root of this problem.''

Tony Mokbel and notorious underworld heavy Sean Sonnet have already seized on the police stuff-up to try to get off drug and conspiracy to commit murder charges.

The revelations in today's Herald Sun are expected to prompt hundreds of others to follow their lead as accused and convicted criminals discover there is every chance their cases involve unsworn affidavits.

Mr Cartwright said some long-serving members of high profile squads involved in major drug and organised crime cases had admitted to never having correctly sworn an affidavit.

"So you can imagine that every case that will have come out of those particular areas will be tested,'' he said.

Mr Cartwright said it was impossible to say how many prosecutions would be affected as the problem was being handled on a case by case basis as each accused or convicted person came before a court.

He said it will be up to the magistrate or judge in each case to decide whether or not to admit evidence obtained as a result of police using unsworn affidavits.

A judge in one current high-profile case, who can't be named for legal reasons, recently ruled evidence from search warrants was illegally obtained through improperly prepared affidavits.

But the judge used his discretionary power to still allow the evidence into the trial, saying doing so was more desirable than throwing it out.

"The probity value outweighed the prejudicial value is basically what he has found,'' Mr Cartwright said.

Police and prosecutors are hoping many more judges and magistrates come to the same conclusion as the thousands of cases affected by dodgy affidavits get to court in coming months.

WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE:

Sworn an oath or affirmation as to the truth and accuracy of the contents of the affidavit - which takes about 15 seconds.

WHAT THEY DID:

Just signed the affidavit in the presence of a senior officer authorised to witness affidavits.

WHAT JUDGES AND MAGISTRATES HAVE TO DO IN EACH CASE INVOLVING UNSWORN AFFIDAVITS:

Use their discretionary powers to decide if the desirability of admitting the evidence outweighs the undesirability of admitting evidence gained as a result of unsworn affidavits being used to get search and other warrants.

THE NUMBER OF PENDING CRIMINAL CASES WHICH COULD BE AFFECTED:

Just under 3000 in the Magistrates' courts and 299 in the higher courts.

HOW THE PROBLEM WAS IDENTIFIED:

Defence lawyers in a County Court drug trial in October last year challenged aspects of search warrants used to get evidence against the three accused, prompting a Det-Sen-Sgt to admit he had never used a bible to swear to the truth and accuracy of affidavits.

The judge then asked that a senior Victoria Police officer be called to give evidence as to how widespread the practice of not swearing affidavits was.

That senior officer told the court he had conducted a quick poll in the crime department and 25 detectives told him they didn't swear affidavits.

THE NUMBER OF POLICE WHO TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF AN AMNESTY TO ADMIT TO NOT SWEARING AFFIDAVITS:

More than 9000.

WHO IS ALREADY TRYING TO USE THE BUNGLE TO GET OFF CHARGES?

Tony Mokbel is attempting to use the affidavit debacle as grounds to be allowed to change his guilty pleas on drug trafficking charges to not guilty.

Would-be hitman Sean Sonnet pleaded guilty to conspiring with now-dead crime boss Carl Williams to commit murder. Sonnet is due in court this week to try to use the unsworn affidavit issue to change his plea to not guilty.

news.com.au 23 Feb 2012

A bungle is understood to be a mistake due to sloppy or ineffieient work,

The article should read as Police fraud on a huge scale.

Police are also involved in the drug syndicate, give free passes to ciminal bikie members, and fraudulently hand out thousands of road fines, but this information curiously does not make it out into the public arena.


Facebook 'accessing users' texts'

Facebook is accessing the private text messages of smartphone users who have downloaded its internet app, according to a British newspaper investigation.

The social network giant admitted reading users' messages, saying it was using the data to help launch its own messaging service, London's Sunday Times reports.

The newspaper said other companies accessing smartphone users' personal data included Flickr, the dating site Badoo and Yahoo Messenger.

It was claimed that some apps enable companies to intercept phones calls, and that YouTube was capable of remotely operating accessing and operating users' smartphones to take photos and video.

ninemsn 27 Feb 2012

Another 'breach' in user privacy by the corporate giants.

User data is being shared by the world's I.T companies hidden in plain sight in the terms and conditions in the EULA (End User License Agreement) by companies like Apple, HP, Micorosoft and many others.

Users 'trust' the companies with their data, but this trust is broken, as this data is used and sold between different entities.

In the corporate world there are no penalties for these kinds of breaches, rather rewards.