Oct 10

Your Family at Risk? Take Action Now! Stand for QLD

What has already happened in NSW is now beginning in another state – the QLD LNP are now in the process of changing the State’s Workers Compensation System through the removal of journey claims.

Such action will potentially leave thousands of people vulnerable to enforced poverty in the event of becoming injured during the course of travelling to and from their place of work.

Source: Stand For QLD http://standforqld.com.au/

Fact: Every worker, young or old, CEO or trainee, whether you’re indoors or out, whether you’re a tradesperson or a professional, whether you drive 100kms to work or catch the bus for 10 minutes, is at risk of a workplace injury or illness.

Queensland currently has the best operating workers compensation scheme in Australia, with low premiums to employers and fair compensation to employees. The Queensland scheme is financially viable and provides valuable protection for workers and employers alike.

This year, a Parliamentary Committee undertook a review of Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme, finding that it was strong, resilient and efficient. In fact the scheme is considered the most effective in the nation.

However, in spite of the Committee’s report, the Newman Government has consistently refused to guarantee the future of Queensland’s nation-leading workers’ compensation scheme and seems content to let the Brisbane business lobby do it’s job in talking about the future of the scheme.

Despite repeated requests, the Minister responsible, Attorney General, Mr Jarrod Bleijie has refused to accept the Parliamentary Committee report.

If Mr Bleijie won’t listen to the Parliamentary Committee, perhaps he will listen to thousands of Queensland voters.

Take action and send your MP, the Attorney General and the Premier an email now, before they devastate an important protection for all Queenslander

Read Here: http://standforqld.com.au/email-mp-workers-comp/

Oct 10

Reminder – Special October IWSN Meeting: Hosted by UNIONS NSW in Parramatta



This month, and over the coming months, we will focus on addressing and challenging changes to workers compensation laws and the negative impact they are having on injured workers and their families.

Please feel free to invite friends, family members and other interested community members who may be able to assist us in moving forward.

There are a number of initiatives we would like to discuss that will forward our aim of highlighting the adverse impact changes are having on injured workers and their families.



  • Sasha Holley:  NSW Workers Compensation research & information session
  • John Robertson: Member of the Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra
  • Michael Daley: Member of the Australian Labor Party, Shadow Treasurer, and Shadow Minister for Finance and Services
  • Injured workers share their experiences
  • Community based activities
  • Any other business

Important: Please RSVP by 11th October 2013 on  (02) 9749 7566  or by email: adam.grumley@injuredworkerssupport.org.au

Region: Sydney

Location: UNIONS NSW, Level 4/20 Wentworth Street, Parramatta

Date of next meeting: Monday 14th October 2013.

Time: 2.30pm – 4.30pm.

Please note for those who are unable to attend this important meeting we will be streaming live over the internet via Skype service.

Oct 09

Incredible workers’ compensation claims from the Australian Public Service


News Limited Political reporter, Gemma Jones, recently wrote a piece highlighting a few possibly handpicked claims being administered by the Federal Workers Compensation System Comcare. Under the previous Government there was a clear intention to re-shape the Federal System to being administered as a best practice Workers Compensation System.

Due to the recent change of Government, nervous times may lie ahead for those who up until now had been unaffected by the changes made to the NSW Workers Compensation System. They may now have their claims re-legislated and administered by an Abbott Government.

Source The Hearld Sun: Incredible workers’ compensation claims from the Australian Public Service

A MAN who says his penis and surrounding tissue swelled because his government employer made him sit in a small plane seat is among current and former public servants seeking compensation.

Another woman claimed to the taxpayer-funded insurer Comcare she suffered a psychological injury after she said colleagues laughed when she revealed she had suffered a bout of diarrhoea in the office toilet.

Comcare offered to pay part of another man’s $16,000 fitness bill after he said the gym and personal training helped with his workplace psychological injury and his “fear of people and strangers.”

The former public servant who claimed his genital condition was caused by being forced to sit for five hours in a small plane seat had his compensation bid rejected.

He appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal with doctors reports showing due to his obesity his “penis became retracted into perineal fat folds” during the flight in March 2010.

The man later developed scrotal cellulitis, a life-threatening condition which required hospitalisation and hyper baric treatment, with the man also claiming compensation for partial deafness caused by antibiotics used during treatment.

A doctor found sitting in a cramped plane seat for five hours “would have contributed” to the development of the condition for a man who was obese.

The Tribunal last month dismissed the appeal, finding the flight did not contribute by “a significant degree” to the man’s illness.

In August the tribunal also dismissed an appeal by the female public servant who claimed an “anxiety state” after she told colleagues she had been in the bathroom for 20 minutes with diarrhoea in September 2010.

At the time the workers in her department were only allowed to be absent from their desks without explanation for ten minutes and the woman said her anxiety disorder commenced from her feeling “embarrassed” by a colleague.

After that and a later incident in which her work was questioned, she said she “felt stressed, emotionally drained, angry, (had) difficulty sleeping and increasing headache.”

A man who was compensated for his adjustment disorder which was suffered at work in 2007 was offered a free $750 gym membership and $480 worth of personal training support by Comcare.

He appealed to the Tribunal seeking almost $16,000 to refund what he had spent on personal trainers which he claimed helped his psychological injury.

Comcare told the tribunal the man had “exaggerated his sense of isolation and his need for a personal trainer.”

The Tribunal agreed Comcare should cover six personal training sessions to introduce the man to the gym, which it agreed Comcare should pay for, but rejected the man’s claim for compensation for his entire personal fitness bill.

“We find that it was not medical treatment for the purposes of the Act,” the Tribunal

Read Here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/incredible-workers8217-compensation-claims-from-the-australian-public-service/story-fni0xqrb-1226733200337

Oct 09

Unions focus on workplace bulllying across the state as part of WorkSafe Tasmania month


UNIONS want to know about the level of bullying in Tasmanian workplaces.

Source The Daily Telegraph: Unions focus on workplace bulllying

New figures show work-related harassment and bullying injuries have reduced in the past 12 months.

But Unions Tasmania boss Kevin Harkins said more work needed to be done.

“Bullying can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the targeted individuals and can result in depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, headaches, lowered self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts,” Mr Harkins said.

“The negative impacts also often extend to families, with the individual withdrawing or taking out their anger and frustration at home.

“Time off work is often then required to treat the physical and psychological effects of bullying, or the person leaves their job, which may add financial pressure to the family, further compounding an already difficult situation.”

WorkSafe Tasmania figures show 68 injuries in Tasmanian workplaces were caused by work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying in 2012, compared with 129 injuries reported in 2011.

Mr Harkins said WorkSafe Tasmania was undertaking a statewide research project to gain a better understanding of workplace bullying in Tasmania, given that figures have varied considerably in the past few years.

“This research will investigate individuals’ and organisations’ perceptions and experiences with bullying and, if required, will inform the development of strategies to reduce the impact of bullying in the workplace,” he said.

Mr Harkins said there were still gaps in workers compensation legislation that needed to be addressed with Fair Work Australia when it came to stress-related claims.

He also said both employers and employees needed to know more about what constituted workplace bullying.

The calls come as WorkSafe Tasmania month continues.

At the launch of the month, Workplace Relations Minister David O’Byrne said mental health-related injuries had grown by 6 per cent in the past year.

“In southern Tasmania, 268 people suffered mental diseases, followed by 86 in the North-West and 59 in the North,” Mr O’Byrne said at the time.

“The top three industries in which these occurred were health and community services (107 injuries), followed by education with 68 injuries, and government administration and defence recording 48 injuries.” Mr Harkins said anyone who wanted to fill out the survey on workplace bullying should contact Unions Tasmania.


– See more at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/unions-focus-on-workplace-bulllying-across-the-state-as-part-of-worksafe-tasmania-month/story-fnjj6010-1226734643419#sthash.t8CbIG6e.dpuf

Oct 08

From welfare to work: Bill Shorten’s disability plan


Shadow Minister for Education and Workplace Relations, Mr. Bill Shorten, aims to develop a national rehabilitation strategy to help get injured workers back to safe and meaningful employment, yet fails to mention ways of addressing & removing discrimination faced by thousands of injured workers trying to re-enter the workforce. 

Most employers will claim they are an EEO, offering  a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. Yet as part of their recruitment process asks the question “have you ever lodged a workers compensation claim” for all perspective employees filling out an application for employment.

By answering yes to this question, anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of suffering a workplace injury and subsequently lodged a claim for workers compensation, their application seems to proceed no further – despite meeting the requirements for the position advertised.

Source – The Australian: From welfare to work

BILL Shorten will develop a national rehabilitation strategy to help get injured workers into employment if he wins the Labor leadership, seizing on the idea as a key productivity measure that promotes dignity and an inclusive society.

The former minister, who championed the national disability insurance scheme and is contesting a ballot of members against Anthony Albanese for the right to lead the Labor Party, said it was the “missing link” between the employment and disability support systems.

“There are many people on the disability support pension who want to work and who have the ability to work if they are properly supported,” Mr Shorten told The Australian.

“I believe a national rehabilitation strategy must be explored to ensure that every Australian, including those on the disability support pension, benefits from the dignity and satisfaction of work.”

Under Mr Shorten’s proposal, injured workers on the disability support pension or living on workers’ compensation payouts would be provided with individually tailored assistance to identify the barriers to re-entering the workforce.

There are 824,082 people on the DSP. Of those who qualify for the assistance, 30 per cent have a mental illness. Although the number of DSP recipients has fallen for a range of disabilities, those with mental illnesses have grown by more than 1500 in the past two years. The former Labor government increased the DSP, which is now paid to one in every 15 people, and costs taxpayers about $15 billion a year.

Mr Shorten said his proposal was not a punitive measure that threatened continued payments.

“We can’t treat people as second-class citizens. It’s about having a practical engagement with people by putting them on a rehabilitation plan and letting them know they are valued by society and they have a role to play in the workforce,” he said.

The proposal could involve “return-to-work brokers” who would identify and manage a pathway back into the workforce and work with employers, doctors, insurers and the potential employee. This could involve exploring training and employment opportunities and identifying technology and specialised health assistance, such as physiotherapy, needs.

Doctors would develop guidelines for in treatment emphasising rehabilitation and a return to work.

He wants to end the often adversarial relationship between insurance companies, agencies and workers. The cost burden on businesses of higher workers’ compensation premiums, retraining and re-employment, could be reduced with a national rehabilitation scheme.

Too many workers were forced on to the DSP when workers’ compensation entitlements were lost and they could not return to work. In response to concerns over cost, he said this was an idea that should be worked through first, otherwise cost considerations would overwhelm it.

This was how the planned NDIS secured community and bipartisan political support.

DisabilityCare (Labor’s preferred name for the NDIS) is a reform in the great Labor tradition of Medicare and superannuation which will deliver benefits to all Australians for the future,” Mr Shorten said.

“However, we can do better to include Australians on the disability pension who get an inferior deal in our society. Too many people with an impairment or mental illness are put in the too-hard basket.”

The Abbott government has pledged to review the welfare system.

It has flagged streamlining income support payments and measures to encourage welfare recipients into work.

Labor’s leadership contest is entering the final week. Labor’s 43,823 members must send in their ballots to the party’s national secretariat by Friday. Labor MPs will meet on Thursday to cast their votes. The votes of MPs and rank-and-file members will have equal weighting. The winner is declared on Sunday.

Mr Shorten has made his advocacy of the NDIS a key part of his pitch to members and MPs. His campaign argues that he can build coalitions of disparate groups and win community support to secure major reforms.

“I am seeking a mandate from party members to develop this proposal,” he said yesterday.

“New ideas, bold ideas, in the Labor tradition is what my campaign has been.

“Labor has a long and proud tradition of fighting to improve workplace health and safety, and protecting injured workers’ rights. Supporting injured workers to get back to work, in a safe and meaningful job, is part of a good society and part of our Labor tradition.”

– See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/from-welfare-to-work-bill-shortens-disability-plan/story-fn59noo3-1226733883160#sthash.bcJkciW8.dpuf

Oct 08

Grounded – Cootes tankers off the road after fatal Mona Vale fire

Cootes trucks off the road

COOTES Transport grounded its entire trucking fleet at the weekend to check for mechanical faults in the wake of last week’s fatal tanker crash.

Source – The Daily Telegraph: Grounded – Cootes tankers off the road after fatal Mona Vale fire

Fuel companies including Shell and BP have asked motorists not to panic buy to avert a petrol crisis as Cootes’ fleet of 370 fuel tankers are slowly coming back on duty after “rigorous” inspections.





The shock move on Saturday to take the fleet off the road came as police and heavy vehicle inspectors grounded 56 Cootes trucks in NSW and Victoria as well as discovering hundreds of defects on more of the company’s trucks including inefficient brakes, axle and suspension failures, broken engine mounts and treads peeling off tyres.

The audit followed the deaths of two people when a Cootes tanker crashed at the bottom of a hill and burst into flames on Tuesday at Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches. Another five people were injured in the inferno.

Cootes, owned by transport giant McAleese Group, is accredited in its home state of Victoria and VicRoads is reviewing that accreditation as one of the country’s biggest crackdowns on a trucking company continues.

Meanwhile the company could also face prosecutions in NSW, a spokeswoman for the Roads and Maritime Service said.

“When investigations are complete prosecutions will be considered for breaching vehicle standards requirements,” she said.

Cootes is also overhauling its maintenance schedule, withdrawing from the voluntary maintenance management scheme operated by the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme that carries out regular audits of a company’s transport management systems and driver assessments.

Cootes said its fleet would now be subject to regulation, including vehicle inspections, by the individual states.

A company spokeswoman said that as well as working closely with VicRoads and NSW Roads and Martime Services, it had also put its trucks in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland to “rigorous independent inspection.”

“Once any issues identified have been addressed the vehicles are being returned to service,” she said.

A spokesman for BP said they were taken by surprise by the announcement by Cootes on Saturday morning but they were using other fuel contractors including Toll and Scotts.

“It’s obviously challenging with such a large proportion of the trucking fleet currently off the road pending inspections but they are not the only contractor in town,” the spokesman said.

Shell spokesman Paul Zennaro said customers would notice some shortages but encouraged motorists to “show restraint”.

“The company is actively monitoring stock levels at its service stations and working with its dealers, including Coles Express, to prioritise deliveries of fuel to sites where it is most needed,’ Mr Zennaro said.

“Shell expects fuel deliveries to improve progressively over the course of the week as Cootes Transport trucks are returned to service following inspections.”

Caltex said it had readjusted its supply chain, including making additional deliveries using its own trucks and other carriers.

“As a result, the impact on Caltex-branded sites in NSW is very minimal — only about 0.7% of Caltex-supplied sites are affected due to a shortage of trucks,” a Caltex spokesman said.

By lunchtime yesterday, RMS said it had inspected 211 heavy vehicles in NSW and found a total of 174 defects with eight vehicles grounded.

The RMS said it had uncovered cases of inefficient brakes, axle and suspension failures, defective steering, oil leaks in the engine/steering box, tread peeling from tyres, broken engine mounts and cracked exhaust pipes.

VicRoads said yesterday it had inspected more than 128 Cootes trucks, issuing 114 defect notices and grounding 48 vehicles.

Read Here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/grounded-cootes-tankers-off-the-road-after-fatal-mona-vale-fire/story-fni0cx12-1226734386309




Oct 07

Queensland government’s decision will put worker’s lives at risk – unions fearful it could happen nationally


ACTU condemns the Queensland government’s proposed amendments to the Work Health and Safety Laws which will put worker’s lives at risk and take the heat off employers who choose to cut corners on safety.

Source ACTU: Queensland government’s decision will put worker’s lives at risk 

ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said, “These proposed amendments will put all workers at risk, not just on construction sites but across many workplaces. It takes the pressure off employers to do the right thing and it makes it harder for unions to protect their members.”

“Unions are fearful this type of dangerous thinking could spread to other states creating a lowering of health and safety standards in Australia.”

Jarrod Bleijie Attorney-General and State Minister for Justice said he would be seeking the agreement of other states and territories to get on board. “This would be very bad for Australia because at the end of the day, these amendments reward bad employers and make going to work more dangerous, especially for those on construction sites.”

“We don’t believe there has been proper consideration of the impact of these changes on workplaces.

“Government has provided no evidence that current laws are a problem, in fact only evidence given by Government is that non-fatal injuries and disease claim rate for construction sites in Queensland are improving and at a faster rate than the rest of the country.”

“Forcing unions to give notice before entering worksites will give employers time to cover up dangerous practices, therefore putting lives at risk.”

“Employers need to be vigilant with safety all the time, not just on the day of an inspection.”

Mr Borowick said that further to the dangers involved in a weakening of right of entry laws created to protect workers, he was concerned with Queensland’s decision to reject the national standards for health and safety.

“Queensland is basically going it alone. They are moving away from national standards that aim to make Australia one of the safest countries in the world and are instead doing it their way and doing it the wrong way.”

“Unions are the number one reason why safety in the workplace is such a key issue here in Australia. While there are many good employers out there, too many others will cut corners to save money if they can and the cost of that is injury and death of workers.”

“We want people to go home at the end of the day and will fight any move to weaken occupational health and safety laws.”

Mr Borowick also said it was disappointing that the Queensland government would attempt to sway opinion by using false connection such as militant union activity and safety.

“This is an unsurprising but still disappointing attempt to link strike action with laws around safety. The laws that govern workplaces need to be of the highest order and whether there is strike action at that workplace or not should have no bearing on this.”


C/O http://www.actu.org.au/Media/Mediareleases/Queenslandgovernmentsdecisionwillputworkerslivesatriskunionsfearfulitcouldhappennationally

Oct 04

Trucking disaster firm boss Mark Rowsthorn is worth $500 million

THE head of the trucking firm which owned the truck involved in the Mona Vale disaster inferno and which has since found to have more than 100 defects in its vehicles in NSW is a businessman worth $500 million.

Source The Daily Telegraph: Trucking disaster firm boss Mark Rowsthorn is worth $500 million

As it emerged that Mark Rowsthorn the chair of Cootes’ Transport parent firm McAleese was listed in the top 40 richest people in Australia by Forbes, the Victorian government said it would launch its own inspection of the firms vehicles and review its accreditation that allows it to perform its own maintenance.


Mark Rowsthorn / Picture: Dan Himbrechts Source: News Limited



Truck crash 3

Source: DailyTelegraph

Fifty-two Cootes vehicles have been inspected since Tuesday’s tanker inferno which killed two men, with more than 100 defects found and five vehicles grounded.

“One truck actually had no front brakes working,” acting roads minister Gladys Berejiklian said.

But the NSW Government has no power to keep the trucks off Sydney roads because the company is Victorian.

Last night a VicRoads spokeswoman said it had been contacted by its NSW counterparts and would launch its own investigation into the company.

“In light of the information received, VicRoads will undertake its own inspections of the company’s heavy vehicles in Victoria and also review the company’s accreditation.”


A police officer runs for safety as the tanker burns. Picture: Stuart de Low

A police officer runs for safety as the tanker burns. Picture: Stuart de Low Source: Supplied

A spokeswoman for McAleese defended itself yesterday, saying it had spent tens of millions on maintenance since taking over Cootes trucks 18 months ago.

“We have actually committed quite an amount of money in terms of maintenance of the vehicles,” the spokeswoman said.

“Obviously that doesn’t go any way towards what happened.

“The company’s not denying what’s happened is a terrible tragedy.

“I’m not sure how Mark’s personal wealth comes into that.”

Mr Rowsthorn, a former owner of Toll and executive of Asciano, did not return calls.

Among the defects found were inefficient or ineffective brakes,

axle and suspension failures, steering components being defective and tread peeling from tyres.



 The burnt-out tanker is removed from the scene today

The burnt-out tanker is removed from the scene. Source: News Limited

The McAleese spokeswoman said: “This afternoon McAleese met with NSW Roads and Maritime Services and NSW Police.

“The Company takes its responsibilities extremely seriously. The rigorous inspection of its NSW fleet remains underway and the company is cooperating fully with officials.

“We remain committed to ensuring that any issues identified are immediately addressed.

“Since acquiring this business in 2012 from CHAMP, the Company has committed $33 million to upgrade the fleet and the Board has approved a further $46 million over the next three years as part of this fleet renewal program.”

A spokeswoman for the Roads and Maritime Services department said RMS had “in the past recommended states revoke accreditation for operators who have had a pattern of noncompliance.

“It is the responsibility of each state to determine if it will act on a recommendation.

“Accreditation schemes are not administered by Roads and Maritime Services, they are the responsibility of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

“The vehicle involved in Tuesday’s crash and its operator are accredited in Victoria under the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS), which is managed by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

“Operators accredited in this scheme are exempt from NSW vehicle inspections for annual registration and must meet compliance standards at all times.

“However, all heavy vehicles travelling on NSW roads are subject to random and targeted inspections at any time.”

Roads and Maritime has carried out random intercepts of 270 Cootes Transport vehicles in the past three months to check compliance.

The truck involved in Tuesday’s crash had not been intercepted.

Across the trucking industry, more than 22,000 defect notices were issued on trucks in NSW last year as part of 1.5 million compliance checks and the state opposition has called for all of the state’s 162,000 trucks to be inspected with high risk vehicles inspected first in the wake of the horrifying Mona Vale.

The Opposition roads spokesman Ryan Park said: “What we need to do is get [inspection of] high risk vehicles that transport high risk product such as petroleum.”

A Transport Workers Union survey of 1,000 truck drivers taken at the end of last year found that 40 per cent of drivers felt they had had to delay vehicle maintenance due to economic pressure, 27 per cent of drivers felt pressure to high speed and 43 per cent felt pressure to skip breaks.

A recent police operation on dangerous trucks, Operation Steel, issued 150 defect notices in two days in April with police at the time shocked to find one in two trucks were dangerous.


A RELATIVE of a family killed in a horrific truck crash involving the same transport company four years ago has spoken of the heartache of seeing more people hurt in similar circumstances.


David Bridge with his daughters Jordan (13) and Makeely (11) / Picture: Channel 10

David Bridge with his daughters Jordan (13) and Makeely (11) / Picture: Channel 10 Source: Supplied

Sheree Montgomery’s sister Debbie Bridge and husband David were travelling in a car with their daughters Jordon, 13, and Makeely, 11, when a Cootes Transport Group truck crossed to the wrong side of the road and exploded at Princes Highway near Pebbly Beach Road on the state’s south coast on December 28, 2009.

The girls were killed in the explosion, along with truck driver David Carolan, while Mr Bridge died six days later at Royal North Shore Hospital from multiple organ failure as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

Mrs Montgomery and her husband Frank were travelling in a car behind the Bridges at the time of the crash and Mr Montgomery battled flames to try to save his nieces from the wreck.

Mrs Bridge miraculously survived the crash, but tragically took her own life about a year ago.

Her sister told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that not a day passed that she didn’t think of her relatives and Tuesday’s crash brought back terrible emotions.

“If you were in that situation and you lost all four family members, how would you feel?” Mrs Montgomery said.

“Debbie passed away just 12 months ago. It’s every single day we live with it. It’s every single day you see the trucks on the road. Of course you’d hate to see anyone go through what we’ve gone through.”

Among the recommendations made by then Deputy State Coroner Carmel Forbes at the 2011 inquest into the deaths was that amendments be made to the Australian Dangerous Goods Code to mandate the fitting of stability control systems in vehicles used for the transportation of dangerous goods.

The general manager of Cootes Management gave evidence at the inquest that all the company’s fleet would be retrofitted with such systems.

Federal Transport Warren Truss did not respond to queries from this newspaper about whether the recommendation had been implemented before going to press.


THE elderly north shore man who died after his car collided with an out-of-control fuel truck on Mona Vale Road has been described by a neighbour as a “lovely chap” who was always the first to help.

Peter Wem, 73, died when his Subaru was hit by the Cootes Transport tanker on Tuesday afternoon after a trip to the northern beaches with friends visiting from interstate.

His wife Margaret, 72, was pulled from the burning car’s passenger seat by three bystanders along with a female friend who was sitting in the rear seat behind her.

Another man, 71, who was sitting behind Mr Wem, also died in the crash.

Mrs Wem was discharged from Royal North Shore Hospital on Wednesday but has not returned to the couple’s Turramurra home, believed to be staying with family.

A neighbour told The Daily Telegraph that the family have declined requests to speak to media because not all the Wem’s grandchildren know about the tragedy yet.

“One thing I will say is if you were digging a hole, he would be the first one by your side to help,” the neighbour said. “He was a lovely, lovely chap.

“He was very fit. He would go walking every day.”

Mr Wem, who was a volunteer at a northern Sydney scout group, had just returned with his wife from a three-month caravan holiday when the crash occurred.

A single bouquet of flowers was left in the branches of a charred tree marking the spot where the men lost their lives.

The truck driver Shane Day, 47, remained at Royal North Shore Hospital yesterday.

His former wife, Nikie, said the family were hoping he would “making a full recovery”.

Oct 03

Cootes trucks taken off the road after fatal tanker explosion in Mona Vale


Following Tuesday’s fatal accident in Mona Vale, NSW Police & The Roads & Maritime Services have carried out mechanical inspections on over 80 fuel tankers resulting in 26 defect notices being issued and 12 trucks being taken off the road.

This only further highlights the importance of regular workplace health & safety inspections being carried out in order to prevent not only workplace accidents but also to protect the community as a whole.

Source ABC News: Cootes trucks taken off the road after fatal tanker explosion

Twelve trucks operated by the same company as a tanker that exploded on Sydney’s northern beaches yesterday have been taken off the road.

Police believe mechanical problems are the most likely cause of the fatal crash involving the Cootes Transport petrol tanker.

Inspector from Roads and Maritime Services inspected more than 80 Cootes Transport trucks at checking stations in Sydney and Newcastle late this afternoon.

The company has been issued with 26 defect notices and 12 trucks have been taken off the road.

Two men died when the tanker lost control on Mona Vale Road at Mona Vale about 3:40pm (AEST) yesterday.

Witnesses say there were multiple explosions after the tanker rolled onto its side, burst into flames and collided with several cars.

Five people were injured in the crash, including the tanker’s driver.

Motorists say the section of road where the crash happened is notoriously dangerous.

But Assistant Commissioner John Hartley says initial investigations suggest the crash was caused by problems with the tanker.

“We’re investigating a number of factors that may have contributed to the crash but at this stage we’re looking at the possibility of mechanical failure on the truck itself,” he said.

“That’s probably the most important lead we have at this stage. The vehicle needs to be fully examined properly.

“At the end of the day we’ll find that something quite simple such as mechanical failure or a mistake by the driver has caused these fatal consequences.”

Police say the dead men are a 71-year-old from the local area and a man in his 60s from interstate.

Both were travelling in the same car.

“It certainly looks like they were killed at the scene by the fire rather than the crash itself,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

He has praised the actions of other motorists and locals in the minutes after the crash.

“People in the vicinity responded quickly to try and remove people from the cars as best they could and quick as they could. They’re heroes in my mind. They saved lives certainly by their quick actions,” he said.

Road closed as investigation and clean-up continue

Authorities have warned that Mona Vale Road is unlikely to re-open until Thursday morning as emergency crews work to clean up the toxic spill from the tanker.

Crews worked throughout the night on Tuesday trying to cleanse the road and surrounding bushland of fuel, debris and fire retardant chemicals used to douse the blaze.

The heat from the fire was so intense that it melted sections of the road, which now need to be re-laid.

Superintendent Ian Krimmer from Fire and Rescue NSW announced this morning that the spill had been contained to a 1.5 kilometre radius, though material has seeped into drains.

“We’re placing sand in a number of those drains to contain the fuel spillage,” he said.

“It’s still unknown how much fuel has leaked into those drains.

“It could take several days to mop up and clean up that particular situation.”

Read More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-02/mechanical-failure-suspected-cause-of-tanker-explosion/4994502



Oct 02

Victims of crime kept in dark on appeal chances


Much like injured workers, victims of crime who had their right to compensation retrospectively ripped up by the NSW LNP have since found out they had three months within which to lodge an appeal to challenge any unfair decisions imposed by the new legislation – this was in fact after the date to lodge an appeal had expired.  Disgraceful

Source Sydney Morning Herald: Victims of crime kept in dark on appeal chances

Victims of crime who wanted to challenge unfair compensation payouts were given extra time to lodge an appeal – but not told before it was too late to apply.

In the lead up to the royal commission into child sexual abuse, the NSW government cut entitlements to victims’ compensation. The new system was introduced in June.

People who made claims under the old system were given three months to appeal any unfair decisions. In 2011-12, 41 per cent of the 719 appeals lodged were successful. People whose claims were decided in the three months leading up to the changes in June decided against appealing because they risked getting even less under the new system.

The government tried to solve the problem by giving people until September 3 to lodge an appeal that would be heard under the old system.

But Community Legal Centres NSW and the NSW Women’s Alliance have written to Attorney-General Greg Smith to complain that people were not informed of the opportunity before it was too late.

In a letter to Mr Smith, Alastair McEwin, the director of Community Legal Centres NSW, said “the lack of notice about this regulation is extraordinary”.

Rachael Martin, co-convenor of the domestic violence and victims compensation working group for Community Legal Centres NSW, said there was no notice or publicity about the regulation when it was introduced.

Tracy Howe, co-convenor of the NSW Women’s Alliance, agreed, saying the government should give all relevant victims of crime an extra three months to lodge an appeal. She said the government should also write to them to ensure they are aware of the opportunity.

Shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch said the government’s original changes to victims’ compensation, which were retrospective, were unfair because they had slashed payouts.

“It’s good the government recognised the unfairness to appellants of treating them retrospectively. It’s unfathomable that they didn’t tell anyone,” Mr Lynch said.

“Having botched this regulation the government should have another go.”

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General said 16 people who lodged appeals before the changes were introduced in June withdrew their appeals after the changes were introduced. She said 192 appeals were pending in August and would be considered under the old law.

The spokeswoman said the 16 people who had lodged and withdrawn an appeal before the new law was introduced would receive letters giving them an opportunity to re-open their appeal.

“Anyone who has any concerns about the issue can raise their concerns with the new Commissioner of Victims Rights or ring the Victims Access Line,” she said.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/victims-of-crime-kept-in-dark-on-appeal-chances-20131002-2urgs.html#ixzz2gXPoR2g4

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