Saturday, 25 March 2017

WHY DID LIBERAL GOVERNMENTS NOT SEE OUR GAS CRISIS COMING?

How much warnings to do governments need to get about the crisis in the East Coast Gas Market before they act.

It was 2 years ago I told parliament about the anticompetitive nature of the gas market and NSW consumers will be extorted through cartel type behaviour. No-one would listen. It is best described by the words of others such as contained in the attached article by Mike Seccombe in #thestaturdaypaper "This,” as one energy market analyst put it, “is a clusterfuck of epic proportions.”  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/…/the-ga…/1490360400440

Whilst the Liberal just play politics with energy security as it is the story of the week, this major crisis will envelop us all. This is what I warned parliament about in 2015. https://www.facebook.com/ron.hoenig/posts/1266314843483498

Sunday, 11 December 2016

LABOR UNVEILS PLAN TO HELP REVIVE SYDNEY’S NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY

NSW Labor has unveiled a three-point plan to revive Sydney’s night-time economy following the missed opportunity of the Baird Government’s response to the Callinan Review. Labor would create a new class of liquor licence that rewards venues across Sydney that host live music, theatre or cabaret with longer licensing hours.

Labor would also put in place a night-time economy commissioner - much like those operating in London and Amsterdam - to co-ordinate growth in after-hours activity across metropolitan Sydney.

The third plank in Labor’s plan to resuscitate Sydney’s night-time economy would be a policy focused solely on encouraging the growth of live music and small cultural events across not just the CBD but the suburbs.

By contrast there was a distinct lack of any comprehensive plan to help revive Sydney’s night-time economy in Premier Baird’s response on Thursday to the Callinan Review. Labor supports the review’s key recommendations that closing times in the CBD be extended from 3am to 3:30am, and lock-out times pushed back from 1:30am to 2am in a two-year trial for genuine live entertainment venues.

Labor has previously announced it supports the extension of bottle shop sales in the city by an hour to 11pm, and to midnight in regional areas where home delivery is often unavailable.

NSW LABOR CALLS ON FEDERAL GOV’T TO KEEP AFTER HOURS HOME DOCTOR SERVICE

NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called on the Federal Government to keep its after-hours home doctor service – which is the subject of a review. Removal of the service would affect the State’s emergency departments which are buckling under the pressure of demands and State and Federal cuts.

The service was introduced by the Howard Government in 2005 in a bid to reduce unnecessary visits to emergency departments. It has been found to reduce unnecessary ambulance call-outs and unnecessary presentations to emergency departments.

The service is used mainly by children under the age of four and by the elderly with mobility issues. Mr Secord has called on Federal Minister Sussan Ley to retain the service – saying its removal would see patients “flood” NSW emergency departments with minor ailments and conditions. He also wrote to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner urging her to contact her Federal counterparts.

Research by Deloitte has found that the after-hours home doctor service saved Federal, State and Territory governments about $724 million in costs a year.  It also found that an average home visit cost $128 compared to up to $368 for a “typical” self-referral visitation to an emergency department or a $1,351 ambulance trip.

In the 2015-16 financial year, $72 million was spent by the Federal Government on the NSW service and 695,715 patients here used the service. On December 7, the independent Bureau of Health Information reported that more than 650,000 patients visited a NSW emergency department in the July to September quarter, an increase of 3,900 compared to one year ago.

In addition, more than 148,000 patients travelled to the emergency department by ambulance in the July to September quarter. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Ron Hoenig's Heffron Gazette - December 2017

Residents should have received their copy of the November 2015 edition of my newsletter called the "Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette". It is available for download here:

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Football (Soccer) Academies exploiting 6 year old children and their parents.

A parliamentary inquiry is needed into children's soccer (football) in NSW to expose the scandalous exploitation of local children and their parents. Paying fees such as $1100 for a 6 year old to play on a local park on a Saturday for what is supposed to be a community based sport run by volunteers is outrageous.

Private profit making academies have infiltrated this children's sport, exploiting parents into paying huge fees under the belief if they pay, one day their child will play for Manchester United. All the while peak bodies like the belligerant and incompetent Eastern Suburbs Football Association just close a blind eye to this exploitation.

While Council's and Centennial Parklands believe they are subsidising children's sport run by volunteers, do not realise their grounds are subsidising the profits of private individuals. And he state's peak soccer body Football NSW sits there mute playing politics. This sport is substantially subsidised by the public. It must be accountable to the public. The only way to do so is through a parliamentary inquiry. This is what I told parliament. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) - How the Liberals managed to destroy meaningful reform

It is unfortunate that the debate about principle all but disappeared when the NSW Parliament amended the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act, 1988, when parliament, in my view, in a misuse of legislative power, removed The Hon Justice Latham from her position as Commissioner.

It is contrary to principal for parliament to remove an independent statutory officer for no expressed reason. It would be just as improper for the parliament to remove the Solicitor-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, a crown prosecutor, or a public defender by legislation, without reason. All the government managed to do was to leave it open to criticism that it was motivated by retribution because the ICAC had dealt with adversely a number of Liberal Party members of parliament.

The debate has been about the Liberal governments motive, with informed commentators like Richard Ackland asserting in an opinon piece published in The Guardian on 24 November 2016:

"The wounds run deep, especially after Barry O’Farrell shot his premiership to death by providing an incorrect answer to the commission in a separate but related matter.
Icac’s parliamentary oversight committee, dominated by politicians from the right of the spectrum, soon got to work. Its job was ably assisted by two other factors: Icac’s inspector, the former judge David Levine; and the commission’s attempted investigation into allegations against senior crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, which ended up being stuck down by the high court."
I am a member of the "ICAC parliamentary oversight committee" and together with my Labor colleagues spent more than 12 months listening to evidence, considering submission, and receiving briefings from the architects of ICAC some 28 years ago. I can assure the public in the words of Bruce McClintock SC who undertook a review of ICAC in 2005, and again with former Chief Justice of the High Court Murray Gleeson in 2015:
"Anyone who thinks that a weaker ICAC will result from these changes and is tempted to use an official position for private gain will be in for an unpleasant surprise."
As Mr McClintock said in an opinion published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 November 2016 entitled "The changes to the ICAC will make it more effective" at 
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-changes-to-the-icac-will-make-it-more-effective-20161124-gsws6k.html
"Critically, the reform of the ICAC has not come at the expense of any of its powers to investigate, expose and prevent corruption. There is no watering down of the ICAC's extensive powers.

Change is rarely easy, and these reforms are no exception. However, once implemented, they will deliver a more effective and robust ICAC."

All the Liberal government has done, through its own incompetence, through the misuse of legislative power, brought the whole process into disrepute, as well as the very organisation that the community should have confidence in.

I wanted the parliament to debate principle. The video of my contribution to the debate is here: https://youtu.be/pytFHZg9twI

Monday, 5 September 2016

Legal Aid without leadership for 4 months

The NSW Attorney-General left Legal Aid without a board of directors for four months earlier this year, failing one of her basic responsibilities.

Legal Aid, which provides vital legal services to disadvantaged groups, was left without a board from 17th February 2016 to 23rd June 2016 – a third of this year.

The leadership of the Legal Aid Commission is by a board appointed by the Attorney-General which then goes through a Cabinet process.

In February, the terms of all appointed members had expired and the papers for new appointments were reportedly left ‘lying on the Attorney’s desk’.

During Budget Estimates hearings today Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton refused to deny she had the appointments sitting on her desk for months and couldn’t explain why the board was left unable to function.

While Ms Upton admitted these appointments are “important”, she avoided answering the question of why the new appointments had been ignored.

The Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch said that this displays the Government’s complete contempt for the important work done by Legal Aid. He said:

“The Attorney-General literally had years of notice of the board’s members terms expiring but she managed to forget to appoint new members. It’s incomprehensible. This is pretty basic. If you can’t trust a Minister to keep boards appointed, why would you trust them to do anything more serious?”