Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Public broadcaster scaremongering on the environment

NEWSFLASH: Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he can't guarantee the Great Barrier Reef will still be here in 20 years. That's how our ABC breathlessly reported Turnbull's response to the recycled report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For the record, Turnbull also refuses to guarantee the world will not be under attack from an intergalactic force or threatened by any asteroids streaking toward it in 2027. But your ABC hasn't got around to reporting his position on those eventualities because intergalactic forces and asteroid attacks are not part of its agenda. Yet.

If our ABC has found anyone to guarantee the security of the Great Barrier Reef, the height of Mt Everest or the snows of Kilamanjaro in 2027, it isn't saying. But the fact that it can lead its news broadcast with a statement of such utter fatuity indicates how deeply its cultural warriors have committed themselves to flaying the Government over claims of human-induced global warming.

It is interesting to note that, when the ABC was broadcasting Turnbull's refusal to guarantee the future of the Great Barrier Reef at 9am on the Saturday of the Easter weekend, he was in Washington where he had just secured the support of the US for the Howard Government's initiative to reverse global deforestation. While the ABC was either replaying an old broadcast of Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett demanding Australia sign up to the failed Kyoto Accord, or playing a new interview with Garrett repeating his old demand that Australia sign the dead accord, Turnbull was meeting White House Council on Environmental Quality chairman James Connaughton, the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Dr Paula Dobriansky and other senior US officials, and securing their agreement to work together to face the international challenge of global warming.

And, while the ABC was replaying Garrett's new or recycled views, Turnbull had flown halfway around the world to Indonesia to talk to his Indonesian counterpart, Rachmat Witoelar, about Indonesia's support for the projects already under way aimed at preserving old growth forest and stopping illegal logging. According to Turnbull, Indonesia has even agreed to permit the use of satellites to identify areas of illegal logging, a plan critics were quick to claim would be unacceptable to Australia's northern neighbour. Those critics were wrong, but our ABC has yet to broadcast that fact.

"Indonesia is more than willing to accept any technical assistance we can provide," Turnbull said. "If the world could halve the current rate of deforestation, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by three billion tonnes a year, almost 10 times more than what would be achieved under Kyoto."

Garrett is not Kyoto's only champion. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is also trying to push Australia into the joke protocol and last week the European Union's Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas was given ample ABC air time to bash the Howard Government for refusing to sign up and place the Australian economy at risk. The problem for the EU is that Australia is actually on track to meet its Kyoto target but, as Prime Minister John Howard noted last week, at least 12 of the EU's 15 member nations, including Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy, are unlikely to meet their 2012 Kyoto commitments.

What Al Gore, the EU, the UN, Garrett and Rudd all choose to ignore is the science which shows that the Earth's climate has always been variable and that climate change can be attributed to many things but that among the least likely to have had any influence is human activity. Professor Ian Plimer of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide says the current theory of human-induced global warming is not in accord with history, archaeology, geology or astronomy and must be rejected. Further, he says, the current promotion of this theory as science is fraudulent and the current alarmism on climate change is not science....

While some adults believe they will feel better if they publicly confess to leaving a light on at night and while The Sydney Morning Herald believes we should take a lead from frightened primary school students, most rational people want to understand the science behind the wild claims being made for climate change.

To date, the debate has been led by those seeking political and economic gain through fear. Professor Plimer's view is unpopular because it absolves humans from blame and robs the self-flagellating publicity-seekers of their moment in the spotlight. It does not however mean that his views are not as deserving of equal consideration in this debate. As for Turnbull and Garrett, one is out there walking the walk and the other is just talking through his very necessary hat.


Victoria: The government version of urgency

LIFE-threatening ambulance delays at overcrowded hospital emergency departments are growing longer. Emergency ambulances now take an average of 32 minutes to unload a patient. This "at hospital time" has jumped four minutes in the past six months and has stretched by eight minutes, or 33 per cent, in the past two years. A frustrated paramedic sent photographs of ambulances queueing outside the Monash Medical Centre's emergency Department to the Herald Sun. He said six emergency ambulances and two patient transfer ambulances waited for up to an hour to offload their patients last week.

Metropolitan Ambulance Service operations general manager Keith Young acknowledged growing delays were affecting emergency response times. "There are growing pressures on some hospitals that ultimately result in a delay in us unloading patients, which is a concern," Mr Young said.

The MAS aims to respond to 90 per cent of emergencies in 14 minutes. In 2005, the target was 13 minutes. A MAS survey in 2005 found a strong community preference for response targets of less than 10 minutes. In recent months the average response time to 90 per cent of emergency calls has been close to 16 minutes, a Health Department source said. "There have been several close calls where it looked like it would hit 16 minutes," the source said.

Paramedics said there was no doubt the delays would cost lives. One said hospitals continued to force ambulances to queue to avoid financial penalties imposed by the State Government on hospitals that go on full or partial bypass too often. "The system is broken and (Premier Steve) Bracks has hidden behind a lot of smoke and mirrors for a long time," the paramedic said. "The early warning and bypass system is fundamentally flawed. "It penalises a (struggling) hospital by taking money from them when they need the money to pour into (extra) staff. "The end result is patients are put at risk."

A Health Department source said overcrowding had become so dire at the Royal Melbourne Hospital that it had virtually given up telling the MAS when it was too busy to cope with more patients. Hospital emergency department staff claim they are regularly directed to ignore bypass and early warning systems designed to help ambulances avoid crowded hospitals. The practice has become common since the Herald Sun revealed last year that the Royal Melbourne had spent 102 hours on full or partial ambulance bypass last May, more time than any other hospital. Mr Young confirmed some hospitals had been spoken to about diverting ambulances when their emergency departments were full. A reference committee of MAS, department and hospital representatives was looking at new management strategies to deal with delays.


The "drought" hits Western Australia too

SUNDAY'S downpour brought Perth its wettest day in almost two years with a massive 40.4mm of rain recorded between 9am Sunday and 9am Monday. The last time Perth experienced similar conditions was in June 2005, with the showers taking us close to April’s monthly average of 44mm.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Adam Conroy said the massive figure was unexpected. “Yesterday’s showers brought more rain than all of June last year, which only saw 24.6mm falling,” he said.

The showers and thunderstorms wreaked havoc on our roads, with minor flooding in some areas. Conroy said it was the tenth wettest April day on record and we will be lucky to get anything close to it for the rest of the month. “We’ve got a weak cold front coming on Tuesday night and through Wednesday morning, and another one on Friday night, but we’re unlikey to see falls like the one we’ve had with this system,” he said.


Weapon paranoia in Australia too

A YOUNG mother who says she uses a small penknife only to cut fruit for her son has been arrested for having an offensive weapon in a courthouse. Jessica Lee Woods, 23, a student from Pimpama on the Gold Coast, and the daughter of a former policeman, was charged with having possession of a knife in the Southport Magistrates Court without reasonable excuse on March 14. Ms Woods was not required to enter a plea to the charge when she appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday when the case was listed for mention.

Outside court, her solicitor, Will Keys, said he will seek to have the charge struck out when the case resumes on Friday. "I'm appalled at the way this girl was treated," Mr Keys said. He said he would ask for the charges to be dropped, the photographs and fingerprints taken by police to be returned to his client and for legal costs to be reimbursed.

Mike Woods, 57, a former sergeant employed for 20 years in the Northern Territory police force, yesterday accused police of wasting resources by arresting his daughter after a complaint was made by court security staff. Mr Woods said he was concerned Jessica, who is finishing a course at TAFE to start work as a teacher's aide, may have trouble getting a blue card to work with children unless all evidence of the charge was removed from police records.

In statements provided to Mr Keys, Jessica and her brother, Luke, 22, explained how they had to attend the Southport Courthouse on March 14 for a civil matter involving a property dispute when they passed through a security scanner. After being asked if she was carrying any sharp objects, Ms Woods checked her handbag and produced a penknife and small Swiss army knife - both closed and only 4cm long. When asked by police why she was carrying the knives, Ms Woods said she told them: "I use them to cut fruit for (my four-year-old son) Seth."


Red tape is strangling Australian family life

By Sue Dunlevy

I DECIDED I'd had enough of the nanny state the day my kids came home in disgrace because they had hummus for lunch - it was the same day the ACT Government banned me from walking my dog to school. Business is always whingeing about government regulations, but what about the red tape strangling family life? Governments are now trying to micro-manage every aspect of a parent's job - from telling you what you can feed your kids and how you can discipline them to how much television they can watch. Now Kevin Rudd wants to test what sort of a parent you are by measuring your child's waistline, empathy, curiosity and whether they pick up a pencil dropped by a classmate.

My one luxury as a working mum used to be lunch order day - but the healthy canteen policy has robbed me of that. Instead of sleeping in one day a week I'm now up packing lunches - because cream cheese and lettuce sandwiches just don't have the same appeal to my kids as chicken nuggets. "Mum, I don't do sandwiches," my 11-year-old solemnly informed me during the canteen's healthy sandwich drive.

Even the task of concocting a healthy home-made lunch has become a feat of Olympic proportions, thanks to the school's new nut-free policy. After calling a family conference to workshop lunch ideas that removed nuts, muesli bars and peanut butter from my kids' lunchboxes, I thought I had the perfect solution: chicken and hummus rolls that are not only good but tasty.

Wrong. Hummus (which I never realised until now is a nut) is also banned because it has sesame seed paste in it.

That just happened to be the day the school newsletter informed me that getting the kids fit by walking the dog to school with them was now also illegal and I'd be fined if I took the dog on to school grounds.

If governments want to wrap families in red tape they should at least make sure the rules they set are consistent. Do they want us to feed our kids healthy food and get them fit or not?

What annoys me most about the burgeoning nanny state is that all families are being penalised by rules meant to stop the bad practices of a minority. If one in four children are overweight, that means the overwhelming majority aren't. The 75 per cent of families who buy their kids one junk food meal a week at the school canteen as a treat are penalised because a few parents feed their kids junk more often.

This is an election year and I reckon it's time for families to fight back against the government red tape that is taking the spontaneity out of parenting. Ban boring televised debates between two leaders and put them to a real life test. Before we let Kevin Rudd or John Howard impose any more we-know-better-than-you rules on families, they should have to try to battle with the problems their rules have already caused.

Let's run the election campaign like a reality TV show. Instead of touring the country making staged policy announcements, John Howard and Kevin Rudd should each be put in a suburban home with two kids for five weeks. Hidden cameras can show the voters how they manage the family budget with child care fees of $90 a day and subsidies of just $4.57 a day. Every morning they will have to come up with a packed lunch that's not only healthy but complies with the school's nut-free, seed-free, taste-free allergy policy and yet is still eaten by the children.

They'll have to work out how to fit in exercising the dog and the kids while getting the kids to school without straying on to school grounds. They'll have to juggle working overtime with the massive penalties for picking your kids up late from childcare and still get home in time to cook a healthy meal. They'll have to figure out how to entertain the starving and exhausted kids who aren't allowed to watch television or play on the computer and can't go to the local park because it has been stripped of its play equipment because of public liability risk.

And, before they can creep exhausted into bed, John and Kevin will have to find a non-existent product which will kill nits and spend an hour of quality time combing lice out of the childrens' hair. Only when they can do all this do they deserve the right to impose more new rules on us.


1 comment:

Colin Campbell said...

Hilarious. That is us. Very nicely written and thanks for sharing.