Monthly Archives: January 2019

2019
01/21

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Melbourne apartment towers turned into ‘shoddy hotels’

“Makeshift” hotel operations are taking hold of Melbourne’s residential towers, which are increasingly swamped with cleaners and tourists.
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In one case, a reception desk was installed in a CBD building to manage the continual stream of holidaymakers checking in and out of short-stay apartments.

Permanent residents say it is like living in a “shoddy” hotel. They report being racially abused or sexually harassed by revolving groups of visitors, who often use the apartments as a “party pad”.

It is estimated there are 3315 rooms in Melbourne being hired out in buildings not necessarily designed to be hotels.

An independent state government panel recently found some short-stay occupants in the CBD were responsible for dropping items off balconies and urinating, vomiting and being naked in common areas.

It also reported that the use of apartments for short stays could be causing buildings to be occupied by more people than they were designed for.

President of the Owners Corporation Network Victoria, Roger Gardner, said it only took a relatively small number of short-stay apartments to make a residential building feel like a hotel.

“From the perspective of permanent residents it’s a disaster and it’s getting worse,” he said.

But owners’ corporations have no powers to ban short stays, according to a ruling last month by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

At the Aura on Flinders building, there are more than 90 short-stay apartments. This year the serviced apartment provider installed a reception desk in the lobby area of the residential tower near the Melbourne Aquarium.

Sam Wilde has been living with her partner at Aura on Flinders for 18 months. She said she discovered dried vomit “and other indiscernible fluids” sprayed on the elevator floors and walls on more than one occasion.

Ms Wilde said the lifts were often congested, due to travellers and cleaners ferrying their trolleys from floor to floor. “On one particularly memorable occasion it took me nearly 20 minutes to travel from the lobby to my 20th-floor apartment,” she said.

Another night Ms Wilde said three men “all over six foot” had followed her to her apartment door, asking her “sexually-related questions”.

Other residents who spoke to The Saturday Age said permanent tenants had moved out because they disliked living alongside dozens of serviced apartments, only to have the newly-vacated apartments turned into more short stays.

“It’s like a cancer in the building,” said one tenant, who did not want to be identified.

It is understood the 90-plus serviced apartments are managed by the same company, Aura on Flinders, which is linked to Acacia Global Trading. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Rooms were available at the building this weekend from as little as $129 a night, through popular booking companies including Wotif, Booking南京夜网 and Expedia.

Residents complained that the cheaper prices sometimes attracted large groups of teenagers throwing parties.

Before being elected last year, the Victorian Labor government pledged to improve the regulation of CBD residential buildings “so property is protected from unruly ‘short-stay’ parties”.

However, the independent panel established by the government rejected most solutions it discussed, including banning short-stay units in residential buildings.

The government is considering the panel’s recommendation to make short-stay accommodation providers responsible “to a limited extent” for parties in the apartments they let.

Minister for Consumer Affairs Jane Garrett said the government was “working to introduce a commonsense, long-term solution to this problem that fosters tourism but also protects neighbouring residents.”

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2019
01/21

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Country councils hit out over Victorian government flood works funding proposals

The morning after: Charlton’s historic Rex Theatre stands in flood waters in September 2010. Photo: Justin McManus A regional council has delivered a spray to the Andrews government over funding responsibilities, urging it not to lump the costs of flood mitigation works on to regional ratepayers.
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The criticism from the mayor of Bendigo, Peter Cox, comes as the state government maintains support for its cap on council rate rises, a measure that would restrict the ability of councils to raise revenue.

And the mayor of the small country shire of Buloke, Reid Mather, has warned that a new proposal – under which flood mitigation infrastructure costs would be split equally between the three tiers of government – was “unsustainable” for the Buloke community.

“We don’t have the capacity to raise a third, nor would we have the capacity to do ongoing maintenance. And I guess that would see our community miss out,” Cr Mather said.

“The structural funding that comes from state and federal governments to small rural councils is just inadequate for them to take on any significant infrastructure costs going forward,” he said.

The Buloke town of Charlton was severely hit by the January 2011 floods, with significant water through businesses and houses, causing at least tens of millions of dollars in damage.

Bendigo’s Cr Cox was commenting on a proposed strategy for dealing with flood plain management recently released by the state environment and water department. “It is nonsensical to be on the one hand demanding a rate cap while on the other proposing to shift significant costs onto local government. The council urges the government to reconsider,” he said.

Cr Cox said he was “an advocate for lower council rates” and supported the Andrews government’s rates cap policy. “So I am pretty disappointed that the state government is considering asking local government to take on extra cost burdens at this time. It is not fair and it risks alienating the very people who have been supporting the government’s drive to keep costs down,” he said.

The proposed rules could potentially cost his council “millions of dollars”, he said. Bendigo has about 12 kilometres of levee bank on the east side of Bendigo Creek. Cr Cox believes the levee, built 100 or so years ago, was funded by the state.

The flood plain report proposes that regional councils equally share the cost of “new and existing regional urban flood mitigation infrastructure” with the state and federal governments. Councils would then need to manage the infrastructure.

Currently, it is not mandatory for regional councils to pay for such infrastructure, and opinions vary on who is responsible for it.

The Age understands that there are very old levee banks that were funded by the state, private contributors and in some cases councils. And there are modern examples of country councils contributing towards the cost of town levee banks.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Lisa Neville said that it was historical practice in Victoria for the different tiers of government to share the costs of flood protection.

“The Victorian government is committed to working with the Commonwealth, the City of Greater Bendigo and the wider community to achieve the best outcome for flood mitigation and the Bendigo levee,” she said.

“The Victorian flood strategy was reopened by the Victorian government for further consideration. Council are welcome to provide input into this process. The government recently provided $250,000 to the City of Greater Bendigo to undertake a study into upgrading Bendigo’s levee,” she said.

The flood plain report warned that the “floods of 2010-12 revealed serious deficiencies in the management arrangements for flood mitigation infrastructure outside Melbourne”. The report also said that about 900 kilometres of rural levees situated on Crown land were “not currently being maintained.”

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2019
01/21

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Immigration Minister Peter Dutton owes Greens Senator

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton Photo: Alex EllinghausenDutton should consider resigning: Greens
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Political hatchet jobs don’t get much nastier, or undignified, or unqualified, than the one Peter Dutton attempted on Gillian Triggs and Sarah Hanson-Young last Friday. Or more baseless.

This was how I began a column in June after the Immigration Minister launched a scathing attack on the president of the Human Rights Commission and the Greens senator from South Australia.

In both cases, the minister went off half-cocked and was wrong. In the case of Professor Triggs, he claimed she had made “outrageous” and “unfounded statements” linking the execution of two Australians in Bali to the government’s success in stopping the boats. In fact, she had done no such thing.

In the case of Senator Hanson-Young, he was responding to a report in Fairfax Media that she had been the target of secret surveillance operation during a visit to the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.

A former security guard had outlined the alleged operation, code-named Raven, in a submission to a Senate inquiry and Wilson Security – the company contracted to guard the detainees – had confirmed that “individuals” had been disciplined for “acting beyond their brief”.

When Mr Dutton was asked to comment, he described the story as “complete nonsense”, branding Hanson-Young “an embarrassment to our country”.

“I challenge the media, frankly, to go back and look at some of the claims that Senator Hanson-Young’s made over the last couple of years and look at what’s been substantiated,” he added. “Most of it is attention seeking. Ultimately, in the end, she’s wrong and that’s, I think, more of a reflection on her than anybody else.”

It was Senator Hanson-Young who went public with allegations of sexual abuse by security guards at the Nauru centre last year that led to the Moss inquiry that reported in March.

It found evidence of rape inside the centre, sexual assault of minors and guards trading marijuana for sexual favours from female detainees, vindicating Senator Hanson-Young.

Now, it has been alleged that the covert spying on Senator Hanson-Young on Nauru was far more extensive that initially reported, continuing throughout her three-day visit and including filming her in her hotel room.

The allegations should be thoroughly investigated and the minister should deliver the senator a belated apology. But don’t hold your breath.

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2019
01/21

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Hundreds of deaths in Victorian hospitals could have been prevented, audit finds

In 2013-14, just under 2000 people died who had surgery. Most were elderly with pre-existing health conditions.Hundreds of patient deaths in Victorian hospitals over the last seven years could have been avoided, an audit has revealed.
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Some of the problems that may have contributed to the deaths include ambulance delays to transfer patients to a more appropriate hospital, a shortage of intensive care unit beds to care for them after surgery, and poor decision making by staff.

The most recent Victorian Audit of Surgical Mortality has found that about 0.3 per cent of people having surgery in public and private hospitals died either during the procedure or within 30 days of leaving hospital after it.

In 2013-14, this equated to 1,924 patients out of the 663,768 who had surgery. The deaths were primarily among elderly patients with an average age of 79 and most had pre-existing health conditions.

Clinical director of the audit Barry Beiles said while the death rate had dropped from 0.4 per cent in 2007, the most recent review identified a range of areas for improvement.

When surgeons looked closely at 4,905 deaths between 2007 and 2014, he said they found nine per cent or 462 involved “areas of concern”, and six per cent or 288 involved “adverse events”.

An adverse event is an unintended injury that was caused by the medical management of the patient such as a blood vessel that was cut when it should not be.

In 20 per cent or 997 cases, the clinical management issue may have contributed to the death and in five per cent or 248 cases, it probably contributed to their death.

The audit found that six per cent or 292 of the clinical management issues identified were definitely preventable; 13 per cent or 641 were probably preventable; and one per cent or 72 were definitely not preventable.

Mr Beiles, a vascular surgeon, said while death rates and clinical management issues had decreased over the course of the seven-year audit, and no surgeons stood out as bad performers, the report highlighted some ongoing problems.

These included delayed diagnosis for patients; delayed ambulance transfers to more appropriate hospitals particularly for patients in rural areas; communication breakdowns between health professionals and a shortage of intensive care beds when patients need critical care.

Furthermore, in some cases, not enough was being done to prevent deep vein thromboembolism (DVT) for patients before surgery.

Mr Beiles said the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons was working with Victorian surgeons, the department of health and hospitals to address these issues.

“I think people should be reassured that an extremely low percentage of people having an operation in Victoria will actually die,” he said.

Mr Beiles said assessments of deaths that identified clinical management issues were sent back to treating surgeons so they could learn and improve their care.

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2019
01/21

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MISSING: Have you seen Alfred Cloudis?

Police hold serious concerns for the welfare of Mr Cloudis as he suffers from a medical condition and may not be able to find his way home.
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Police are seeking public assistance to help locate a man missing from Lidcombe since yesterday morning.

Alfred Cloudis, 71, was last seen at his homeon Gallipoli Street, Lidcombe, about 9.30am yesterday (Thursday).

At the time he informed his wife he was going to a bank and council chambers in Auburn.

Police from Flemington Local Area Command were notified after he hadn’t come home in the afternoon.

Following investigations, officersfound Mr Cloudis’ car —a white Ford Courier, with registration plates AE33NC —on Station Road, Auburn, last night.

It appears Mr Cloudis did go toa bank on Auburn Road, Auburn, yesterday where he withdrew money. But it seems he didn’tmake it to the council.

Police hold serious concerns for the welfare of Mr Cloudis as he suffers from a medical condition and may not be able to find his way home.

He is described as Indian Sub-Continental in appearance, with a dark complexion, 170cm to 180cm tall, of medium build, and black balding hair.

He was last seen wearing a zip-up jumper, grey tracksuit pants, and a white leather wide brimmed hat.

Police are urging anyone with information, or anyone who knows the whereabouts or movements of Mr Cloudis, to contact Auburn Police on (02) 9646 8699 or via Crime Stoppers.

Anyone withinformation is urgedto call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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