Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Relocating tenants for populist purposes

"Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY"

Benjamin Franklin would have a fit if he was living in Australia.

Short-sighted populism again from hair-trigger jumpy NSW Labor, perfected by Bob Carr, chip chip chipping away at our essential liberties.
(As a perfect example, Verity Firth just today dumped Iemma's and Della Bosca's idiot plan to fine and jail parents of truanting kids. A resounding chorus of "we told you so" from welfare and education groups is in order).

Back to Ferguson: couldn't
the same result been achieved, without eroding all our civil liberties, by that other all-purpose impost on tenant's security of tenure, the policy of "relocating tenants for management purposes", which states "As a social housing landlord, Housing NSW has the right to ask any tenant to relocate to another suitable property, identified by Housing NSW, that meets their housing needs.", in other words, "anything goes" or rather "anyone goes if HNSW says they go".

Housing peaks comment on Ferguson amendment

Comment on the Housing Amendment (Registrable Persons) Bill 2009
23 September 2009
For further information refer to Shelter NSW or the Tenants' Union of NSW

This is a brief comment on the Housing Amendment (Registrable Persons) Bill 2009 by the Tenants' Union of NSW and Shelter NSW. The Tenants' Union of NSW is the State's peak tenants' organisation and specialist community legal centre for landlord-tenant law. Shelter NSW is the State's peak low-income housing policy organisation.

We object strongly to the Bill.

The Bill would allow the tenancies of a specified category of tenants to be terminated, and for those tenants to be evicted, by agreement of the Police Commissioner and the Director-General of the Department of Human Services.
A tenancy may terminated without notice to the tenant, and with immediate effect. The tenant may be evicted, without notice and immediately, by the police.
The Bill provides no role for the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, or the courts, in the decision to terminate and evict. The Bill expressly prevents any review by the courts of the Commissioner's and the Director-General's decisions.
What the Bill provides for is summary eviction. It should have no place in New South Wales residential tenancies law.
The Bill is unnecessary. The Residential Tenancies Act already includes special provisions that allow Housing NSW to offer a tenant alternative premises and terminate their original tenancy
We believe the safety of children is best ensured by teaching children to recognise and report inappropriate conduct on the part of any adult – whether a family member, friend, neighbour or stranger.

[Note: DH endorses this statement except for the italicised article of faith above. Would that it were so simple!]

The Ferguson amendment

So the ever-reactive NSW Labor government is taking to the Residential Tenancy Act with a shovel at the behest of the mob, who'd cut off their collective legislative nose to spite their neighbour's face.

That said, who wants to have a paedophile, or any crim, for that matter living next door?

Why not some innovative legislation for a change, pairing every crim discovered in public housing, with a crim from the North Shore? Let's demand that a suitable punishment for billionaires who commit tax fraud, money laundering, property theft, or big-time is to be required to billet a low-rent . Maybe even chain 'em together with ankle-braces for public appearances? Maybe one day, if justice is done, we cd even see a former Housing Minister 'tripp'ing along with a small-time stand-over man hobbled to his ankle.

Meanwhile, perhaps a room could be found for Ferguson at the Goanna* mansion?

*Aka the Packer paterfamilias, as described by the Costigan commission into organised crime. The Packer family being DH's favorite candidate for a good mobbing.

Mallard mallets media, mob madness

As Dennis Ferguson gets his own personal piece of legislation, it's worth foregrounding this comment from the ever witty and incisive Garry Mallard, of the National Tenant Support Network. (See it in context below, under the Dennis Ferguson Dilemma)

Garry Mallard writes:

Ferguson is not a "Queensland paedophile" as has been suggested. We are not a nation of closed borders. Nor are we genetically disposed or endemic to any particular state. Ferguson is, if one must apply a label, an Australian paedophile. He is free to live in whatever state/territory he wishes, notwithstanding any travel restrictions that may have been placed upon him as a condition of his parole. Once resident in NSW - and for the purpose of this situation 'resident' can be read as 'present' - he is entitled to apply for public housing in NSW, if he meets the criteria.

The main function of public housing - under current policy - is to house those who, for whatever reason, are unable to find and maintain accommodation in the private sector. Lets see now, a man hunted by media and angry, poorly informed mobs...mobs whose ONLY source of information about Ferguson is the aforementioned and wholly trustworthy media -- a man who has coffins delivered to him and firebombs found in his yard -- a man who "law abiding" citizens have promised to torment, harass and otherwise subject to relentless abuse and attention until they have him out -- a man who, to anyone playing with a full deck of their own, is obviously afflicted with an intellectual disability and mental illness quite distinct from his perverse attraction to children -- a many whom even the Housing Minister and the Premier have sought to see out on his ear...a man who under all these circumstances has absolutely zero chance of finding and maintaining a tenancy in the private sector, and you are thick enough to wonder why he is eligible for public housing?

It's YOU, you and the media with your madness and obsessions, YOU have MADE him the MOST eligible human being in all Christendom! Congratulations, you must feel so proud.

For the record, when he was allocated the home in Ryde it was done in consultation with numerous agencies whose job it was to 'support' him. For support, read "watch" and monitor him. Here's a reality check for the people of Ryde. Until the moment you assembled your mobs and started to complain, you were, on balance of probability, safer from his perversions than any other community in the nation. That's not to say your community was immune from the influence of paedophiles in general - they were doubtless among your mates in the mob. But safe from Ferguson. Why? Ferguson has the highest profile of any criminal in Australia. People are not just watching him, they are actively looking for excuses to put him away again. Let me just point out here, that it's a matter of record that he has been lumbered with a number of charges since his release from prison, all of which he was acquitted of. Sloppy police work no doubt, but I digress... He enjoys a level of infamy not seen for many years and for this reason, should he be driven to offend again, surly he's unlikely to do it on his own doorstep? Isn't it more likely he'll offend somewhere where police won't knock on his door before looking elsewhere? Of course it is! If he is going to offend again, it will be somewhere other than Ryde.

I'm stunned to think that anyone thinks finding digs for him in the boonies, far from schools -- and children for that matter -- offers any sort of security. Do they think him too stupid to buy a train ticket, or board a bus? Has a phobia about public transport and Taxis I've not read about, does he?

If people don't like his ilk, they should lobby for tougher sentencing, or the return of the death penalty -- it matters little which, but it does matter that they should have the courage of their convictions and work to develop social policy to address their concerns. Mobs spoon fed every 'fact' by the least reliable source of information in the cosmos - the media - should not be permitted to engage in this process however, for they have already proven themselves too gullible; too stupid to be trusted with such a weighty responsibility.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Frontline Housing NSW staff pay cut again

While job hunting on SEEK about a week ago, DH noticed that Housing NSW was advertising again for "strong-minded" staff, i.e. counter staff.

But their already miserable hourly rate has been cut since February from $23 to $20!

DH commented on this with dismay back then under the heading:

Wanted by D'oH: Strong minded social workers prepared to work for $23ph.

It's a sad commentary on how wages are being driven down as unemployment goes up. Pity the working class, with Centrelink whipping them from behind to force them to accept whatever employers feel like dishing out, and with a broken union movement and a toothless Labor party.

Spotless Inc, shoddy contractors, make dogs breakfast of maintenance program

DH lives in a street that HNSW is currently repainting for the 3rd time in 4 years, despite that the houses were built of paint impregnated boards that were not supposed to be painted in the first place. (But having been painted once, will have to be repainted evermore).

This second repaint is because the first lot of contractors did such a terrible job just 2 months ago.

What a terrible waste of money, for a job that didn't need to be done in the first place, didn't need to be repeated just 4 years later, and was done in some cases in a colour that jars with the existing look of the buildings, thus cheapening their value even further. Makes you wonder whether the contractors managed to get a cheap joblot of paint somewhere

And it's no use complaining, apparently that the money could have been spent on things we really need. Apparently, with the "New Maintenance Program", money is locked in for specific purposes, in this case, presumably to give jobs to painting contractors who do not appear to have got any trade qualifications whatsover.

Who are these people, who descend on our houses, hacking, botching, and smearing their way through publicly owned property?

Is there some kind of black market exploiting recent migrants?

DH had to have her bathroom floor replaced, and when HNSW inspected, the job was so poorly done that they demanded it be redone

Since the stimulus package spend, every job DH has had done has had to be redone!

What's going on? Is it just DH's karma? Was she perhaps a jerry-builder in her past life? Or are we looking at a systemic problem?

And why is Spotless Inc getting paid a fortune to totally fail to project manage these apparently straightforward jobs?

Samples of contractor's handiwork

Disclaimer for the downwardly envious: If the money saved on this shoddy work was going to be used to rehouse one of the homeless, DH would gladly have done without.

Work includes - door hacked when it didn't fit on replacement (yes, the door in the picture is shut), waterproofing is smeared on willy-nilly, vanity basin set in at angle, ceramic tiles that look dirty even when clean, tiles unaligned (not shown).

DH wants to make clear that it is not HNSW's fault. They are trying to put things right. Actually DH has asked not to have the jobs redone as it's not worth the expense and further disruption. She is not that house-proud, and there are more urgent uses for the money elsewhere. Perhaps there are not enough skilled tradespeople around for the huge amount of stimulus work?

It's the Class Struggle, Baby

After seeing the heart-breaking circumstances of homeless families living in trashy, exorbitantly priced motels, ($900 forked out weekly by HNSW!), forced to pack up weekly and move out to apply for another weeks tenure, or being exploited by ratbag landlords, DH feels really bad.

Perhaps she should rename the blog and stop claiming to be desperate? Compared to those people she is in heaven.

Should she complain about poor maintenance and HNSW inefficiency, for instance, when other people are in such desperate circumstances?

But she will resist the temptation to feel guilty.

When the Packer family, say, and all their free-loading cronies feel guilty enough to start paying taxes, then she'll shut up.

When the Labor party hits these wealthy parasite and hits them hard, then she might consider feeling guilty about having a roof over her head.

In these dire circumstances those in power, will be hoping that the poor can be divided and ruled, will be stupid enough to squabble amongst themselves over a few crumbs, while the rich go on being baled out, and allowed to speculate and carry on as before.

DH will continue to insist on speaking out critically on behalf of those who have managed to get a toehold in housing, however tenuous.

Yes, Virginia, there is a class struggle, and its getting pretty naked out there at the moment.

These people doing it tough are not Howard's euphemistic "battlers". They are simply the Australian working class, and the sooner "Labor" wakes up to whose interests they're meant to be protecting, the better.

4 Corners: Last Chance Motel: Whose fault?

Anyone who watched this heartbreaking ABC doco about homeless families in NSW must be wondering: how can this have happened in a wealthy country like ours?

The fact that the Howard Government did nothing about Housing for 11 years cd have something to do with it.

Should Howard, and his Clayton's Housing Ministers (there was no housing ministry), be compelled to face a few restorative justice sessions with some of the 150,000 victims of his neglect? Guess he was too busy bashing the poor to give them a "hand up", let alone a hand out.

Then there are the immigration quotas of 168,000 per annum: where are these people going to live? Oh, yeah, 38 to a bedroom... Now there's a solution...

And now Labor cuts $750 million out of the Housing stimulus package while the silvertail schools get another paint job. There go 800 houses, which would house, (guesstimating), 2,400 people.

But according to some ninny who wrote into the ABC's comments page, one homeless couple have only themselves to blame because they were doing a TAFE course instead of running around like lunatics looking for non-existent jobs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dennis Ferguson Dilemma

The broader context of the Dennis Ferguson story is that as a culture, we do not know what to do with the mentally ill, the criminally insane, or the radically neurologically different, and we know damn well that there are no easy answers.

We do not believe in dedicated psychiatric hospitals. Yet we dump people with psychiatric problems in public housing with who knows what support. If public housing fills up with enough mentally ill, aren't we going to end up with Claytons Psychiatric Hospitals, the psychiatric hospitals you have when you don't believe in having them, which means psychiatric hospitals with no services, no staff, no central office, no resources, no nothing. Apologies to the advocates for the mentally ill, but nothing describes it better than Free Range Psychiatric Hospitals

Both David Borger and today Barry O'Farrell have been grandstanding on this issue. You have to feel sorry for them, because whichever way you look, there are no easy answers, but leading populist stampedes, and giving aid and comfort to lynch mobs does neither of them credit.

Predictably, the vigilante role of the gutter press is despicable. How's this for a title from the Daily Telegraph: " Paedophile: Beware of the devil Dennis Ferguson next door"

Meanwhile, Callan Park, a sacred space, some say, for the mentally ill, is slipping out of the public's grasp. Here is an opportunity to do something creative, to create supported homes with communal facilities, perhaps onsite employment opportunities and support in place.

DH Comments on SMH Website here

Public Housing tenants in my experience are extraordinarly understanding, patient with and tolerant of their troubling neighbours, despite the fact that public housing estates have become dumping grounds for mentally ill people, drug addicts, and released prisoners, without sufficient investment in support services for them. Part of the reason is a decade's neglect of public housing by the Howard Govt, [who over its tenure ripped $3 billion out of the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement which funds the states social housing programs, and led to the current triage policy targetting housing to "those most in need"]. Partly it's the red tape associated with setting up the necessary support services, with years of pilot projects and evaluation reports. Nevertheless we as tenants understand better than most, and accept with good grace, that everyone has a right to accommodation.

There is no easy answer, but a decent society will not get off on hounding a few unfortunates while taking a "beggar my neighbour" approach, ie refusing to pay the taxes that support adequate solutions.