Lower classes being seen as lesser humans

AUSTRALIA rolled its eyes when Tasmania boasted four out of seven finalists in television show Bogan Hunters.

“The seven biggest bogans in the country have been found and it may come as little surprise to some that four of them are from Tasmania,” one News Ltd piece sighed.

Esteemed publication The Daily Mail nodded along: “They market themselves as a state full of untouched wilderness, craft beer and edgy art exhibits, but Tasmania can’t shake its reputation as the bogan capital of Australia.”

Instead of laughing and dismissing these people, a decent society should try and address the issues of unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, poor education and health issues that flow from generation to generation.

It seems most Tasmanians would rather ignore this element of society. George Town residents have told me their lower classes are either non-existent or nocturnal.

Pretending poor people -“bogans” – don’t exist or completely separating them from the rest of the population only serves to further marginalise an already disadvantaged group of people.

Off the record, journalists hear politicians joke about bulldozing poor areas, event organisers whisper about ticketing events to “keep out the bogans” and Launceston business owners whinge about the riff-raff that hangs around the mall.

One CBD retailer moaned in a public meeting that the three op shops on Launceston’s Charles Street were bringing down the tone of the area.

“What’s next?” she asked.”A brothel?”

And call a spade a spade: repeated attempts to move Launceston’s Metro interchanges is about nothing more than keeping “the anti-social element” out of the CBD.

A University of Melbourne study found that Australians viewed people of a lower-class as animal-like.

Although viewed as warm and competent, peoples’ perception of our disadvantaged overlapped with that of rats, dogs and apes.

Plainly, Australians view its lower classes as lesser humans.

No wonder people were so upset with Glamorgan Spring Bay Mayor Bertrand Cadart when he said Tasmania ranged from “the most bogan of bogans … to the greenest pains in the arse”.

But typically for Tasmanians, instead of accepting Cr Cadart’s view and looking at the bigger issues, people flew to deny the label.

A third of the state is reliant on government benefits. The portion that is employed has the lowest average income in the country – 13 per cent of Tasmanians live in poverty.

The Tasmanian Council of Social Services has argued that the federal budget will only make this situation more dire.

For Tasmania to isolate such a large portion of its residents only takes away a large portion of the ideas, resources and opportunities.

The poor aren’t the problem – it’s the people who judge them and exploit them.

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Learn the facts about boats first

DEFENDERS of genuine asylum seekers may need to moderate their comments in light of the recent interception of a boat in international waters.

The return of 41 Sri Lankans to their country via an Australian customs ship to the Sri Lankan navy on Monday has attracted international attention.

Unfortunately the level of hysteria does not match the facts.

Of those 41 people returned, 37 were from the ruling Sinhalese class – the dominant ethnic group.

Four were Tamils with only one having some grounds for asylum.

However, far more revealing were the reasons they took the perilous and long boat trip from Sri Lanka because it clearly was not about oppression in their home country.

Fairfax reporter Jason Koutsoukis spoke to the families in Galle where most had paid one million rupees, about $8200, to people smugglers.

Punchi Banda Podinilame had a son, son-in-law and seven other relatives on board and said, “they left for economic reasons,” – “they wanted work, they wanted jobs, they were told this was easy to find in Australia.”

One of the passengers Anthony Fernando was quoted, “I went to Australia to find employment and then settle and bring my wife and family,” while another thought he was going to New Zealand, “my dream was four houses in New Zealand.”

Four people smugglers are now behind bars and their prosecution will send a strong message.

Immigration to Australia must be about the orderly transfer of genuine asylum seekers from UNHCR camps where many have been waiting for years.

The biggest tragedy of the boat people era is the 1200 people who have died at sea – this seems to be forgotten in the human rights legal hyperbole.

Yes, the federal government’s policy of off-shore processing is tough, very tough.

However, the alternative of families dying at sea is far worse.

If nothing else the publicity surrounding these two interceptions will reinforce the policy that if you want to come to Australia there is a proper process, and that doesn’t involve paying people smugglers. – MARTIN GILMOUR, editor

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Cameron admits price of failure

KATHMANDU founder Jan Cameron has virtually ruled out a second attempt to regain control of her discount retail empire, saying “I failed and have paid the price for that failure”.

Ms Cameron, who appointed administrators and receivers to retail holding company DSG Holdings Australia last week, appears to have no plans to buy back DSG’s 100-plus profitable Sams Warehouse and Crazy Clarkes stores.

Rather, the 60-year-old philanthropist, environmentalist and animal welfare advocate is relieved that her five-year foray into the discount variety sector has come to an end.

“I’m relieved that I can stop worrying and trying desperately to make the company work,” Ms Cameron told Fairfax Media.

“I don’t feel bitter (but) disappointed for all the staff. Some of them are finding jobs but it will be very difficult for others.”

DSG’s receivers, David Winterbottom and Rahul Goyal, of KordaMentha, have received 25 expressions of interest from parties keen to take over some of DSG’s remaining stores. None have expressed interest in the entire store network.

More expressions of interest are expected before the July 17 deadline, Mr Goyal said.

However, Ms Cameron, who is estimated to have lost more than $200 million of her fortune on the venture, is not among them.

When Ms Cameron’s former company, Retail Adventures Pty Ltd, collapsed in October 2012 after racking up losses of $114 million in two years, Ms Cameron used her position as the largest and only secured creditor to buy back the business three months later.

“(Jan) can regain control, but my conversations to date have been about her exiting this business,” Mr Goyal said.

This time, there will be little to buy back.

The receivers plan to close about 40 of the remaining 143 Sams Warehouse and Crazy Clarks stores, all of which are leased, and are looking for trade buyers for the balance.

The receivers are also winding up DSG’s distribution centre in Queensland and head office in North Ryde.

This means potential buyers would need to have warehouse and logistics systems in place.

“We’re hoping to find someone who has the back office infrastructure and can add the stores onto their network,” said Mr Goyal.

“They don’t necessarily need to be in this (discount variety) space but to have the warehousing and logistics, so it could be someone in a complementary business,” he said.

“Lots of people are looking at it strategically to expand their own business as they (DSG) have some great locations with little competition.”

Ms Cameron is DSG’s only secured creditor and is owed about $100million, while unsecured creditors are owed about $15 million and DSG’s 2500 employees just under $10million in entitlements.

Mr Goyal says KordaMentha is hoping employee entitlements will be covered by funds raised by selling off stock.

Whether Ms Cameron recoups any of her investment depends on funds raised from selling the rest of the business.

“We are hoping she gets something back from this,” Mr Goyal said.

Meanwhile, Ms Cameron is still being pursued by creditors of Retail Adventures over allegations of insolvent trading and preferential payments.

Mediation talks failed last week and Ms Cameron faces a public examination of her finances next month.

According to Retail Adventures liquidator, Deloitte, part of the price DSG paid to buy back control of the business after it collapsed in 2012 was offset against Ms Cameron’s secured loans.

Deloitte believes Retail Adventures may have been insolvent at the time security was granted and the security is therefore voidable.

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Asthma alert as wood smoke levels increase

Asthma sufferers are being warned about wood smoke in Launceston. Picture: SCOTT GELSTONWITH winter in Launceston comes wood smoke, and asthma sufferers are being warned to be vigilant as levels exceed national standards.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Launceston levels of PM2.5 – known as the best measure of wood smoke pollution – exceeded national reporting standards twice in the seven days to Thursday, July 3.

Asthma Foundation chief executive Cathy Beswick said she had seen a steady rise in high smoke alerts across the state, which was concerning for asthma sufferers vulnerable to the health effects.

“It should be highlighting to the public the importance of being a good neighbour when it comes to smoke,” Ms Beswick said. “The particulate matter gets into the lungs, it causes respiratory distress, it can cause an asthma attack, it causes people to cough more and get short of breath.

“It can ultimately lead to worsening asthma conditions and we do still have death from asthma.”

An EPA spokesman said the agency was working on a community education program on the negative impact of wood smoke, with Longford one of the focus areas. He said the program wasn’t about fines or woodheater buy-back schemes, but how people used their woodheaters.

Tips include:

•After adding wood, burn fire on high for 20 minutes, especially before going to bed.•Use only dry, well-seasoned wood in your heater.•Don’t smoulder – always burn with a flame.For more specific health advice about wood smoke visit http:/ /www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/alerts/air.

For updates on smoke levels in Tasmania, “like” Smoke Alert Tasmania on Facebook.

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Recycled plastic to update boardwalk

Infrastructure services director Harry Galea and Launceston acting Mayor Jeremy Ball at the Seaport boardwalk. PIcture: MARK JESSERA STRETCH of recycled plastic boardwalk will be installed at Launceston’s Seaport “before summer”, according to Launceston acting Mayor Jeremy Ball.

More than $1.2 million has been allocated by the council for the project, with the unique design expected to at least double the life-span of the timber boards.

“We’re out to tender in a couple weeks’ time to find a replacement for the ageing boardwalk,” Alderman Ball said.

“We’ve specified recycled plastic decking, which is at a slightly higher cost but it lasts far longer and I think it will give a great finish to this area.

“Timber usually gets about 15 years out of it, but this recycled plastic lasts for about 30 years.

“That really is a far longer life and saves on some of those concurrent costs, which hit ratepayers hardest.”

Alderman Ball said the priority for the council was to have the project completed by summer, in an effort to benefit surrounding businesses.

“Our aim is to make sure the work is done before the summer season starts, which is obviously really important for traders here.

“We don’t know exactly what the product will be, but we want to replicate that timber finish.”

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