The voice of the people?
There are certainly many who agree with her
Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has branded her critics as out of touch with ordinary Australians. Fresh from announcing a political comeback, Ms Hanson refused to back away from her latest attacks on minorities. In comments this week, Ms Hanson criticised Muslims and said she was worried black South African immigrants were bringing diseases into Australia.
Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd yesterday said the former MP was unlikely to win support with such views. But Ms Hanson angrily defended her stance. "They are not in tune with what the average person is saying, or they don't care," she said. "I am not anti-people, I am very pro-Australian. And if you want to be a member of Parliament, that's what it's all about."
Ms Hanson said she felt hurt by the criticism and believed she was being unfairly singled out for being a woman. "I just feel I am under more scrutiny than any other politician, and also because I am woman," she said. "And I get upset about it."
Ms Hanson plans to stand as an independent MP at next year's election, but is yet to say if she will run for the Lower House or the Senate. A Herald Sun voteline showed signs of support for her return to politics, with 1780 readers backing the move, and 281 opposed.
Ms Hanson stands to make a six-figure sum even if she fails to make it into Parliament. If she gains 4 per cent of the vote, she will get $2.05 a vote for campaign expenses. Ms Hanson, an MP from 1996 to 1998, reaped $190,000 after standing for the Senate in a failed 2004 comeback. She said yesterday her latest tilt had nothing to do with the money. "If you think I stand for money it's an absolute insult and a slap in the face for me," the former member for Oxley said.
Mr Howard said Australians had moved on from Hanson. "I don't believe that people are very interested in what she is saying now," he said. Mr Howard said he was critical of "zealous multiculturalism", but did not believe people should be singled out for their race or religion.
Mr Rudd said Ms Hanson had failed to come up with any positive policies. "I think Ms Hanson has in the past always been good at identifying what she sees as being problems, but I've never seen Ms Hanson come forward with any practical solutions for the long-term," he said.
Ms Hanson has said she was concerned at the ease with which people were able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans. "We're bringing in people from South Africa at the moment," she said. "There's a huge amount coming into Australia who have diseases; they have got AIDS." But immigration authorities said migrants were subject to stringent health checks.
Ms Hanson refused yesterday to elaborate on her vision for Australia, saying she would declare her position on other issues closer to the election. "I'm not going to discuss that at this stage," she said. "I'll make my comments next year."
Useless government "child welfare" bureaucracy again
A malnourished baby girl died while under an intense supervision order of the Department of Child Safety. The child's mother, 35, will appear in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court today charged with the manslaughter of the four-month-old girl on the grounds of parental negligence for failing to provide adequate care and nourishment. Police will allege the baby gained only 500g in her four-month life and weighed 3300g when she died from bronchopneumonia at her mother's Brisbane home in July 2004. Her death was believed to be have been the result of complications from being malnourished.
The baby was underweight when she was born at 2800g and suffering from methadone withdrawal among other medical problems. She gained the 500g in the first five weeks of her life in hospital and did not put on any more weight while living with her mother under departmental supervision, government sources said yesterday. Upper Mt Gravatt detectives also charged the baby's father, 39, with her manslaughter and he will face court later this month.
Medical experts contacted by The Courier-Mail said the average growth rate of a normal baby was between 150g and 160g a week. It is understood police will seek a meeting with the Crime and Misconduct Commission over the Department of Child Safety's handling of the case. The department had left the baby in the care of her mother, who was placed under an intensive management plan and the supervision of a case worker. Government sources told The Courier-Mail last night that, under the plan, case workers were supposed to conduct random weekly visits, ensure the mother maintained medical appointments, as well as involve a community health worker. It is understood case workers instead often made pre-arranged visits with the baby's mother and, in the weeks when they could not attend, spoke to her over the telephone.
The sources said the mother had allegedly failed to keep some medical appointments and the department's last contact with her was a telephone call in the week before the baby died. They said a case worker's file notes show she had recorded the baby as "thriving" but they did not contain any information that showed the baby had ever been weighed. A spokesperson for Child Safety Minister Desley Boyle said an external review found no reason to conclude the department's actions in any way impacted on the child's death. He said allegations made to The Courier-Mail were at odds with departmental information.
The Australian Left wants education reform too
Postmodern bu**sh** may have finally had its day
Kevin Rudd will demand "quality control" from the nation's schools to guarantee the children of working families a good education. Setting out his broad guide to beating John Howard at next year's election, the new Opposition Leader said yesterday he would not allow the Commonwealth to shovel billions of dollars in education funding to the states without schools performing to adequate standards.
As Mr Rudd wrestled with the final places on his new front bench, expected to be announced over the weekend, he promised a review of all party policy over Christmas. He said Labor's industrial campaign would be extended "beyond the workplace", saying the most critical aspect of fairness from the party was in "educational opportunity".
"I mean educational opportunity for kids from working families to have a high quality of education with high standards applied to it, and that means a strong emphasis on the quality control of education outcomes," he told The Weekend Australian. "I am not interested in simply investing and providing greater investment into education in the absence of guarantees of quality outcomes for working families." Mr Rudd's new approach will put the states on notice that a future Labor government will demand strong results from its financial investment in schools.
In a veiled swipe at Kim Beazley, Mr Rudd said yesterday that while it was "early days yet", he would be reviewing all Labor policies and wanted to do away with the "mixed messages" of the past. "The problem often in the past has been message confusion, too much on offer and distinctions not clear enough. I intend to reduce it down and make it clear," Mr Rudd said.
Far-Left education-wrecker to go
A nasty piece of goods all-round. Her chief talent seems to be in bed. Her boyfriend is the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Eric Ripper
Besieged West Australian Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich is set to be dumped from her crisis-ridden Education portfolio within days. But she will not be sacked from cabinet, after a parliamentary committee investigating her conduct failed this week to recommend any action against her. Premier Alan Carpenter yesterday ruled out dropping Ms Ravlich from Cabinet. He said the Upper House committee's report was "non-conclusive" but he refused to back her retaining education in a reshuffle expected next week....
Ms Ravlich was tarnished earlier this year by her mishandling of curriculum changes which were to have been implemented in 2007 but have now been delayed. A public outcry forced the Premier to intervene in the push to enshrine outcomes-based education.
She was also tainted by her contact with disgraced former Labor premier Brian Burke, who brokered a meeting for her with the editor of The West Australian to discuss her negative publicity. But the death knell sounded when a damning Corruption and Crime Commission report on her department's failure to investigate sexual misconduct complaints against teachers was released in October. The parliamentary inquiry examined Ms Ravlich's claim that she didn't know about the 10-month CCC probe, which was why she did nothing about the problems in her department. The issue escalated when former Education Department chief Paul Albert said he told her about the probe four times.
On Thursday, a majority finding by the committee said she probably did know and also found she had misled parliament. But Mr Carpenter said "probably" was not definitely and there was still considerable doubt about how many times the matter was referred to the minister....
Opposition education spokesman Peter Collier said the Premier should move Ms Ravlich immediately. He said the education sector had been crippled by disenchantment and lack of confidence. "Wherever she goes she will take with her a baggage of incompetence and that's a shame for her next portfolio," Mr Collier said.
New Testament Christianity gets an airing
Occasionally someone fights back against the huge pagan element in orthodox Christianity. The two greatest "Christian" celebrations, Christmas and Easter, are both pagan and Christians even have the Day of the Sun as their holy day!
A pastor has slammed Santa as a false god who teaches children to be greedy and selfish. Pastor Steve McNeilly of the New Life Christian Church has accused the jolly fat man of being a blasphemous stand-in for God who makes liars of parents and causes confusion among children. The Santa story created commercial rivalry and encouraged materialism and selfishness in children's hearts, Mr McNeilly said. "Santa has usurped the love and devotion and faith of little children," the Warrnambool pastor said.
Mr McNeilly's comments, first made in a country newspaper column, have sparked a storm of protest. Santa yesterday had time for only one brief comment: "I am too busy filling snacks, feeding reindeer and working out routes for our big night on Christmas Eve." Senior church leaders and a child psychologist branded the attack on Father Christmas absurd and undeserved. Catholic Monsignor Les Tomlinson said Christmas was a time for parents to teach children the joys of gift-giving. "What we are celebrating in the birth of Jesus is the manifestation of the infinite love of all humans which is reflected in our concern for the needy and the sharing with others," Monsignor Tomlinson said. "Parents have excellent opportunities in acknowledging aspects of the sharing of gifts to foster in children the joy of both giving and receiving."
Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said Santa Claus was a crucial part of a child's Christmas celebration. "These claims are an absolute outrage for the vast majority of children who are healthier and happier because of their vast memories of Christmas," he said. "It is well documented that kids do much better when they have ritual, tradition and spirituality in their lives. "Were the comments true, we would have generations of children who are just greedy little consumers. "Kids love Santa coming down the chimney and they adore the idea of leaving a bowl of milk out for the reindeer."
But Pastor McNeilly defended his beliefs even though he admitted they initially caused consternation among his own relatives. "They initially argued strongly against it, saying Santa is an important part of childhood and that we were robbing our kids of that aspect," he told the Herald Sun. "But they have since come to agree with us that you can still have Christmas with all the presents and all the trimmings but with an emphasis not on Santa." Father Christmas detracted from the "true message of Christmas that God sent his son to save us from our sins. "Instead, it's about making lists of `what I want' and building up expectations about what they will get. "It creates inequality among children who may not understand why the child across the street got a new bike and they didn't. "It makes them ask: `Why does Santa love other kids more than he loves me?' "