Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe returns from ‘leave’

On Saturday morning, Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe walked into his office in the city and packed up his extensive fossil collection. It was an odd activity for a senior public servant going on a holiday. At least “going on leave” was the story being peddled by Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox. But sources say the minister had told Mr Stowe the previous afternoon that he no longer had confidence in him and had asked him to leave. Five days of speculation about the status of Mr Stowe’s employment ended on Thursday, when the commissioner returned to work. With that development came calls for Mr Mason-Cox to resign amid accusations he had laid the blame for his own incompetence on a senior bureaucrat. Since Monday, Mr Mason-Cox had fiercely dismissed reports he had sacked Mr Stowe, insisting the commissioner was “on leave”.  But in an about-face, he announced on Thursday: “I am pleased to confirm Stowe has today returned from leave. I had a few questions regarding communications between NSW Fair Trading and my office and wanted to ensure that this was running smoothly.” The strange turn of events is linked to the death of central coast woman Sheryl Anne Aldeguer, who was electrocuted while using a faulty USB charger in April. On June 27, Mr Stowe released a statement about her death and warned about the dangers of the dodgy chargers. But Mr Mason-Cox was absent from Mr Stowe’s media blitz. Fairfax Media reported on Monday that Premier Mike Baird had given Mr Mason-Cox a “tongue-lashing” for skipping the opportunity to front the public campaign. On Monday, Mr Baird declined to confirm he had criticised Mr Mason-Cox, instead saying he “had full confidence in the minister”. On Thursday, he declined to answer whether his confidence in Mr Mason-Cox remained. Earlier this week, reports appeared in the media that Mr Stowe had not told the minister about the link between the death and the dangerous products for nine days.  It can now be revealed that this was part of a misinformation campaign by a senior bureaucrat, whom Fairfax Media cannot name for legal reasons. The bureaucrat has been accused by senior departmental sources of providing the media with information that could undermine Mr Stowe in an attempt to nab his position. Mr Stowe had informed the minister about the link the day he was briefed in mid-June. But when he told the minister’s office he was going public with the warnings, one of Mr Mason-Cox’s media advisers, who had been installed by the bureaucrat, said the minister did not need to be involved. Opposition spokeswoman for fair trading Tania Mihailuk called for the minister’s resignation, saying the internal chaos had come at a bad time. “Fair Trading is meant to be fully investigating dangerous USB chargers being sold – a product that has already tragically claimed the life of a young mother,” she said. “The only thing made clear from this minister’s blundering is that he is out of his depth – and has plunged Fair Trading into a state of disarray.” Greens MP John Kaye also called for the minister’s resignation. “Premier Mike Baird should put consumer safety and rights ahead of the expediency of maintaining a stable front bench,” he said. He attempted to shift the blame for his own incompetence on to a well respected and highly effective bureaucrat.” Dr Kaye believes the sudden removal of Fair Trading’s frontline staff potentially jeopardised public safety. “People’s lives were at risk from faulty chargers. He must take responsibility for failing to recognise that he was ill-advised by the temporary staff placed in his office [by the bureaucrat].” Consumer advocate Christopher Zinn said news of Mr Stowe’s reinstatement was a “relief”. Do you know more? [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au

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Coalition’s contempt returned with interest

Labor ruse sees FoFA regulations tabled in Senate

The Coalition is reaping what it sowed. It has repeatedly treated the Parliament with contempt in its effort to neuter parts of Labor’s financial advice laws before they had full force on July 1.

Rather than put changes before the Parliament as an amendment to Labor’s act, it introduced them by regulation when the Parliament wasn’t sitting. It was aware of legal advice from Arnold Bloch Leibler that they would not survive a challenge in the High Court. Regulations are meant to assist the implementation of acts, not to nullify them.

Labor alleges that Treasury sent a copy of the regulations to the Senate tabling office on July 1 and then attempted to withdraw them, saying it didn’t want them tabled until the last possible date, next Tuesday, July 15. What is not tabled cannot be disallowed.

Directed by a vote of the Senate to table the regulations immediately, the Minister, Mathias Cormann, refused. Cynics suggest he was trying to delay the process long enough to get through to the five-week parliamentary break and then accuse the Senate of creating uncertainty when it tried to exercise its rights.

Then Labor’s Senator Sam Dastyari pulled a stunt, one worthy of Cormann himself.

He read from the regulations and had a Labor senator demand that he table the document he was reading from.

In the confusion the motion passed with the help of the Greens and a handful of independents. On Monday Labor will give notice of a motion to strike the regulations down. If it succeeds, consumers will be protected in the way Parliament originally intended. It will have got around the workaround.

Twitter: @1petermartin

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A dream buddymoon

SHARING’S CARING: (Left to right) David Whitehill, Chris King, Summer King, Rachel Corfield, Scott Corfield. WEDDED BLISS: (Back row) David Whitehill, Scott Corfield, Chris King. (Front Row) : Christie Whitehill, Summer King, Rachel Corfield.

The romantic couple photos from TV presenter David Whitehill’s honeymoon only tell part of the story. Just off camera in the dreamy Italian beachside snaps of the Channel Nine wildlife expert and his new bride Christie were four of their mates.

“We had a buddymoon,” Whitehill revealed to S, as the newlyweds settled back into Sydney life after the Positano break following their June wedding in Lombok, Indonesia. “We shared the experience with two other couples: two great schoolmates of mine and their wives.”

Whitehill exclusively shared his buddymoon snaps with S – and as you can see, six wasn’t a crowd for this gang of close pals.

The Whitehills’ fellow buddymooners were Scott Corfield and his wife Rachel and Chris King and his wife Summer.

“I’ve known the blokes since childhood and over the years their partners and Christie have become close, too,” said Whitehill.

“We three couples got engaged and married within six months of each other, so it made sense to us to have a mass honeymoon.

“The girls actually came up with the idea, and the blokes were happy to go along with it!”

After enjoying the Whitehills’ wedding, the six rendezvoused in Europe and spent 10 days in a picturesque Positano house with sweeping coastal views.

Having two mates along for the ride meant that soccer fan Whitehill was able to make the most of the World Cup. “When the matches were on, we blokes headed for the pub and the girls went shopping or had cheese and wine together.”

The group dined together every night except for one, when they had a ‘couples’ night.”

“As the newest newlyweds, Christie and I had the house,” says Whitehill. “The other two pairs had romantic meals at local restaurants.”

While a buddymoon might not be for everyone, the Whitehills loved every moment of theirs. “I’d recommend it a hundred per cent,” says Whitehill. “You need the right friends, and we are very blessed to have this group who all get along really well. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise.

“Having the best friends we love and care for with us for such a special trip really uplifted the whole experience.”

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Brisbane doctor suspended after faking letters, making lewd comments

Patient care Photo: SuppliedA Brisbane doctor has been suspended for two years after forging letters to try and derail a medical board investigation into alleged sexual misconduct.

Raj Chandra, a GP with more than 30 years’ experience, admitted sending the letters to the Medical Board of Australia and to the lawyers of a woman who had accused him of making inappropriate comments and touching her buttocks.

Dr Chandra initially came to the attention of the board when the woman complained about his conduct during an examination at the Donald Road Medical Centre in Cleveland on September 9, 2011.

The woman, who was wearing shorts with a broken seam at the front, was having two moles on her right thigh examined.

Dr Chandra asked the woman words to the effect of: “Are you trying to give me an erection? Please move away from me”, according to a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision published last week.

He then tapped her on the buttock as she was leaving the consultation room. The woman’s young daughter was in the room during the incident.

After the woman made a complaint Dr Chandra brought defamation action against the woman.

She, in turn, began legal proceedings against him and in early 2014 Dr Chandra forged letters to the medical board and the woman’s lawyers.

The letter to the board, purportedly signed by the woman, asserted that she had tried to “frame” him and would be withdrawing the allegations.

A similar faked letter written to her lawyers said she had come to an “amicable settlement” with Dr Chandra and would no longer be proceeding with legal action.

QCAT Judge Brad Farr SC described the forgery as “dishonest behaviour of a significant nature”.

“The behaviour of the registrant in sending these letters was extraordinary to say the least and in every sense of the word dishonest,” he said.

Dr Chandra later admitted to inappropriate behaviour during the September 2011 consultation and creating the fake letters.

He was also found guilty of breaching conditions that had been imposed by the medical board after the misconduct incident, which required him to only treat female patients accompanied by an over-age chaperone and keep extensive records.

The Medical Board said Dr Chandra had failed to comply with the conditions 183 times between October 25, 2012 and July 31, 2013.

Judge Farr found Dr Chandra guilty of professional misconduct and suspended him from practising for two years from the date of the judgment, which was May 20 this year.

He was also ordered to keep detailed female patient and chaperone records for a year, once he is allowed to return to practice.

Judge Farr ordered Dr Chandra to pay $85,000 in costs to the medical board.

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Wounded warrior Tate had inkling about nightmare Origin series

Brent Tate screams in agony after injuring his leg in Origin last month. Photo: Anthony JohnsonTucked down the side corridor of a much happier Queensland dressing room, Brent Tate was perched up on a bench, crutches by side and fiddling with the velcro straps on his full-length knee brace.

While the rest of the Maroons finally had reason to celebrate, Tate was just trying to make himself comfortable as he recovers from knee reconstruction number four. He’s an expert by now but the experience never really improves.

In his place Will Chambers had thrived on debut, overcoming a week in which he was accused of assault to produce a quality first game in Origin football. The ‘changing of the guard’ moment was hard to escape, even if Tate has yet to decide if he will come back one more time.

It has been a wretched series for the Cowboys winger and Maroons veteran, whose opening two games were an emotional whirlwind in which he unwittingly found himself at the centre of a fierce game-wide debate, then on one leg.

The criticism he took in the wake of a lifting tackle by Josh Reynolds stung him badly. Tate said he had never felt more scared on the field and dared to invoke the name of Alex McKinnon, which would spark an hysterical and largely senseless debate across the NRL.

Once the dust had finally settled, Tate would hit the dirt once again, this time as his right knee gave way. He knew from the moment he fell to the turf in Sydney that another appointment with the surgeon lay ahead and his decorated career may be over.

Strangley enough, Tate said, he had an inkling this series may not serve up lashing of good fortune. Call it his Han Solo moment but the 32-year-old went into the 2014 series with a strange sense of foreboding.

“It’s funny, you know. I said to my wife before the series started that I had a bit of a funny feeling, that I didn’t have a good feeling about it. That’s the way it goes. It has been hugely emotional, from game one to game two and to now. It’s just time to take a breath,” Tate said.

Queensland had a cast of thousands for game three to help celebrate the eight years of success but few meant more to the current group than Tate, an elder stateman that remains one of the most-respected players in the Maroons inner-circle.

It was a huge night for Tate as well. He knows he may well have played his final game and it almost overwhelmed him when he hobbled aboard the team bus to the game.

“It is good to be here. I thought I was ok but then I got on the bus and saw all my teammates and it hit me like a ton of bricks,” Tate said, “I’m really happy. I thought, tonight, we haven’t played like that all series. We finally got it right.”

Chambers went off with a suspected concussion but stepped up seamlessly to fill Tate’s shoes. He was peppered with high balls early but withstood the assault with relative ease. The man he replaced could scarcely have been more impressed.

“I was really happy for Will. I thought he was outstanding. He did everything and more on his debut. He handled the week really well and to come out and perform like that, it was about as good a debut as I’ve seen. He looked awesome,” Tate said.

The next question Tate must address is that of his future in the game. A resume that reads 229 NRL games, 23 Origins and 26 Tests shows he has nothing left to prove but he said the call would be for personal reasons, not sporting.

“I had the surgery and the doctor has given me all the info. I just want to make sure I’m not basing my decision around emotion. I’m sore and I want to take my time. Whatever decision I make, it’s not about me. It’s about my family.”

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