Friday, 27 February 2015

One way of dealing with traffic summonses in Victoria

I saw this account of opting for a court hearing for a traffic summons posted by a Facebook friend in Melbourne, and thought it worth sharing with our readers, with his permission:

This is my first time in my life going to a magistrate court and defended myself against a charge laid on me by the police with a 3 demerit points for driving and a $450 fine. 
The incident happened last year when I was turning right on a traffic light. I was booked by a police car which trailed behind me and the two policemen claimed that I made the right turn on a red light. I protested that the light was amber when my car was turning right but to no avail and had to go to court to defend myself.
Today, in the court session, there were rows of people in front of me where their case is being heard by the judge. I must thank the court sessions as I begin to pick up the lingos and mannerism from observing the defendants and lawyers how they present before the judge. At the same time, I made observations about the judge’s attitude towards certain behaviour. 
For example, the judge is very strict with regards to drink drivers and people who are absent from court session. In one of the cases, the lawyer was present but the defendant was missing. The lawyer apologised on behalf of the defendant who didn’t turned up but the judge immediately issued a warrant of arrest and adjourns the case. 
However, the judge is sympathetic towards individuals who plead their case and show remorse for their behaviour. For example, some people lost their job and in their stressful moments, committed petty crimes in shopping malls. They are sorry for what they did and the judge made them do community work instead of jail time. 
One of the funniest cases I heard today was about a pillow fight between two girls. The victim complained to the judge that she was deeply insulted by the bully and her pillow was destroyed. The judge ordered the bully girl to write a letter of apology and pay the damage pillow worth $30!
When it came to my turn, I stood before the judge and the short conversation goes like this:
Judge: Do you have a lawyer to represent you?
Me: No, Your Honour, I will represent myself.
Judge: You can get legal aid if you wish.
Me: Yes Sir, I know the free legal services but there is a waiting period for it and thus I will represent myself.
The Prosecutor then begins to read my charges before the Judge.
Judge: (to me) what do you have to say?
Me: Your Honour, in the light of the circumstances surrounding that day, I may have made an error judgement and therefore plead guilty. However, I would like to present to the court, my side of my story during that day when I made the right turn at the traffic light. { I begin to elaborate a bit to the judge how I believed it was amber light and I had to made the turn as my car has already cross the white line and I just had to complete the turn }
Judge to Prosecutor: What are his criminal records?
Prosecutor: Clean, your Honour!
Me: Your Honour, I would like the court to consider waiving off my demerits points as well as my fines.
Judge to Prosecutor: What are his penalties?
Prosecutor: Your Honour, 3 demerits point and $450 fine.
Judge looked at my file and begin to question me how long have I got my driving licence, my family background, my work background etc and pause a while..
Judge to me: Given that you made an earlier plea of guilty to this case and consider your good driving records, I cannot do anything for your demerits point as that is the LAW of Court however, I will waive off the $450 fine.
Me: Thank You, your honour. 
Well, to me, this news is better than nothing. I have saved $450 and learnt a lot from this episode. In the court session today, there were ONLY TWO Asians. One was a China guy who was caught twice for drunk driving where the Judge suspended his licence. The other Asian guy was me. 
I think the reason why I don’t see many Asian going to court to fight their case is that Asians tend to be reserved and just comply to pay the penalty/fine.
I am not advocating people should break the law and wilfully not pay the penalty but today lesson have taught me this. 
The LAW is UPRIGHT and punishment will dealt with but there is always a compassionate side of the LAW where if you plea with the LAW, the LAW will judge you based on the circumstances and reduce penalties accordingly.

The friend prefers to remain anonymous.

In short, if you can afford the time and remote risk of paying a heftier fine than on the summons, it's worth trying.

I would probably do this the next one I cop. A and I have each 'exhausted' our free official warnings and a day in court might prove to be an interesting life experience, even if we don't actually save any money.

Note: For speeding summonses where the alleged speed is up to 10km/h above the speed limit and it is the first offence in the past two years, these are automatically eligible for "pardon" to a warning, for those who write in. If you do not write in to appeal, it's demerit points and a fine as per normal.

-S

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The ripoff dentist

As ex-Singaporeans (but still Singapore citizens officially, I'm just nitpicking between citizenship and identity here), we have heard a ton about how expensive dental care is in Australia. The Singaporeans we knew who live or work in Oz would try to schedule their dentist visits whenever they went back to Sg to visit.

So we waited, and waited. After all, we've gone for extended periods between dentist visit while living in sg. We've been living here for 15 months now, without having visited a dentist. Until today.

A few days ago, I started developing a toothache at the back of the left of my upper jaw. Right where a wisdom tooth could be expected to emerge. Indeed, it was on its way out.

Being currently underemployed and having quite a bit of spare time, I decided to bite the bullet and face the exorbitant cost of visiting a dentist here. So I traipsed over to the medical centre not ten minutes walk from where we live to enquire, and made an appointment on the same day (today). Turns out that there was a "special" for dentist treatment, and being the perennial tight arse, I decided to go for it as my teeth were long overdue for "servicing" anyway.

Fucking expensive dental treatment in Australia
The dentist was such a ripoff that two $15 "single X-Ray film"s and the dentist's tender mercies couldn't ascertain if I needed the offending wisdom tooth extracted.

So I had to go for an X-ray upstairs. It took about 15 minutes and I was presented with two copies of film and goodness knows how much my fellow Aussie taxpayers had to pay for my X-ray. Don't worry, A pays more than enough tax to cover it. At least there were no charges to me. At the rate I've been having X-rays here (this is my 3rd, the first two were to rule out fractures on two separate occasions), I'd be broke if I had to pay for them like in some other countries.

The ripoff dentist then examined the film and told me that I should get my two upper wisdom teeth removed. "The sooner, the better", she said. Of course she would. She must be on commission basis or something

I was quoted $120 for one, and $150 for the other. The nerve!

**Not a fair comparison, but I remember surgical extraction of my two lower wisdom teeth in sg cost me something like $2,400, most of which was claimed back from Medisave. But it was a highly-recommended surgeon, not some random ripoff neighbourhood dentist.

-S

Friday, 13 February 2015

On the warparth Part 1: A letter to the ombudsman

Some people never learn that I am not someone to be fucked around with. I've had it with my employer's bullshit, and he's gonna have something coming his way.

Apparently there's a government body for people to complain to about everything. I'm not sure how long my complaint will take to reach someone, but I will ensure that it eventually does.

Here's the email to the Victorian Ombudsman, Agony Uncle extraordinaire:

Good day Sir/Mdm,

I have been working part-time at (xxxxxxx), a recent start-up workshop located at (xxxxx), ABN (xxxx999999)

More often than not, I am paid late, and to date, I have not seen one cent of Super in my Super fund. Whenever I ask him about my Super, the boss says “later”.

I am sick and tired of this rubbish, but I don’t know who I can turn to to resolve this situation.

As far as I know, none of my co-workers have received their Superannuation. Only my former supervisor, who has left the company for more than two months ago now, has reportedly been paid. Even then, the super was paid out very recently, and certainly delayed by half a year if not more.

If any clarification is required, I may be reached at (S's mobile).

Regards,
S

In Part 2 of this series, maybe I'll call the Australian Tax Office. In part 3, if it gets to that stage, I might talk more about my job. Then again, I must confess part 1 & 2 are more for my pleasure than yours.

-S