Organisers of a trauma forum to be held at Iguana’s Waterfront Bar and Restaurant at Gosford tomorrow were surprised to receive apologies from State Health Minister John Della Bosca informing them he would not be able to attend. Problem was — Mr Della Bosca had not been invited.

West Australian editor Paul Armstrong read an article in the Fin Review a couple of Fridays ago about how the National Party’s Royalties for Region Fund was being seen by both the Nats and the Libs. Been a big story here. Anyway, he flipped because he thought the Nats had given the Fin an exclusive — picked up the phone and rang Brendon Grylls directly. For 30 minutes he apparently abused the Nats leader and told him he would “end” him. When Grylls asked him what he meant Armstrong apparently told him he would “dismember” Mr Grylls — or words to that effect. Armstrong actually belives he runs the state and politicians of all persuasions should bow before him. This story is all over Perth but not sure if anyone has reported it. Yet another of Armstrong’s petulant, ego-driven outbursts.

The axe has fallen at the local arm of internet veteran Yahoo! More than 20 folk were retrenched at Yahoo!7 yesterday — everyone from senior engineers, chief legal counsel, ALL customer care (be prepared to be transferred to Hong Kong if you call), partnerships staff and all writers.

Seems The Oz‘s standards are slipping not only in grammar but also in simple fact-checking. Today, Siobhain Ryan wrote, “West Australian aged care operators revealed this month that they had turned down 360 out of 1000 bed licences offered in the Rudd Government’s 2007-08 funding round”. Not true. Applications were received for more than the 1,000 places available; however, the Department of Health and Ageing did not allocate all of them for fears about the ability of those applicants to provide the appropriate level of care. In other words, the Department turned down those applications. The funding round was also announced and started under the previous government. It just so happened that the government changed before the results could be announced. A simple phone call could have confirmed this.

Why are St George and the Commonwealth Bank still offering 100% mortgages? A conveyancing solicitor in Sydney’s western suburbs says he’s still getting clients coming to him with 100% mortgage deals from those two banks and no need to put up security. He wants to know why those sorts of loans haven’t been banned in this climate.

Obviously the politically correct Toyota Prius being driven by the ALP Mayoral candidate for the City of Melbourne doesn’t come with a Melways — otherwise Will Fowles would have clearly known he was shaking hands and smiling for votes last Saturday at a festival in the City of Moonee Valley. Who said those recent (and controversial) boundary changes wouldn’t be confusing?

QF970 Brisbane to Townsville scheduled to depart at 0855 today. At 0910 Qantas advise that the plane is “not repairable” (their words). This was 30 minutes after we watched ground crew unload the bags. Qantas now trying to find a replacement plane – maybe from Canberra or Adelaide. Passengers seriously not happy and the desk staff at Gate 16 are copping heaps! Back in the Qantas Club (where I write this) there are no updates at all. The Flying Kangaroo or should that be the Dying Kangaroo!

Taxes raised in Australia are supposed to be based on the principle of “those most able pay more, those least able pay less”. The taxes raised by Local Government do not follow this principle. Check out a few Rate Notices from around Australia. A practice “sneaked in” about 20 years ago of levying a “minimum charge” onto all of the properties within a shire that fell below median value. That is, the Gross Rental or Unimproved Value of ascribed to a property by the State Government’s Valuer-General. Therefore, all the poorest people in a shire pay the same Rates as those who own a median value home i.e. three bedroom detatched dwelling.

The single mother living in a bed-sit is levied the same Rates as someone living in a three bedroom, detatched home. The “minimum charge” practice is grossly unfair to low income earners, especially when their hard earned money is used to subsidise the better-off people within the shire. No-one wants to know about this rip-off because it involves doing some simple arithmetic to work it out i.e. multiply the Unimproved or Gross Rental Value stated on the Rates Notice times the Rate in the Dollar detailed on the same Rates Notice to find out what you SHOULD be paying instead of the “minimum charge”.

In many cases the value of the property times the rate in the dollar equals an amount up to half that levied in the “minimum charge”. This has been one of the most insidious government rip-offs practised on low-income people as low-income suckers think they are getting a good deal with a “minimum charge”.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey