Monday, June 04, 2007

Rudd may face second crisis over union video

LABOR Leader Kevin Rudd is facing further embarrassment from militant unionists, with revelations a senior CFMEU official has been caught on video allegedly threatening employers with revenge after a Labor election victory. According to industry sources, CFMEU official, Joe McDonald, is shown on the tapes telling an employer words to the effect: "You wait till f..king Kevin Rudd's elected. I'll be back!".

He was allegedly caught on camera making the threats by inspectors from the building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission, set up by the Howard Government to police the industry. He was allegedly trespassing on a company site at the time - a practice outlawed following the Cole Royal Commission into the construction sector.

If authenticated, the video would suggest unions were simply waiting for Mr Rudd to be elected before expecting their rights to unilaterally interfere in workplaces to be restored. The ABCC Commissioner, John Lloyd confirmed evidence produced in a case involving a firm called Broad Constructions "includes two videos". Sources said the evidence involved footage shot by ABCC inspectors of Joe McDonald, and described him as being "over the top and making threats".

Mr McDonald's CFMEU colleague and union state secretary, Kevin Reynolds, has criticised Labor's decision to retain the ABCC until 2010, accusing Mr Rudd of caving into employers. But Mr Rudd told the WA Labor Party Conference yesterday: "When it comes to the construction industry, we support a strong cop on the beat."


Labor's green 'fanatics' in denial, says Turnbull

The Federal Government is stepping up its attack on the Opposition's climate change policies. The Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull is defending the Government's decision to wait until next year before setting pollution reduction targets. He told the ABC's Insiders program it is a sensible approach. "Are you going to trust a bunch of fanatics, which is really where Garrett and Rudd are at the moment?" he said. "They are on a fanatical, moralising campaign blind to the economics, blind to the realities, determined to prove they are greener than the greenest green. "And if you have policies based on that type of ideology you may feel pure but you will be pure at the price of being very poor."

Labor leader Kevin Rudd has said his party is committed to a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Mr Turnbull rejects the suggestion that the Government has been in denial on climate change, citing initiatives such as a move away from incandescent light bulbs, and its funding to stop deforestation. "Labor are the real climate change deniers, they are denying the global perspective of climate change," he said. "Labor has not thought any of this through."

The Prime Minister will focus on global warming and carbon emissions trading when he delivers a major speech today at the Liberal Federal Council in Sydney. Mr Howard will tell the council that managing climate change will mean higher costs for business and householders but he will argue the Coalition would do a better job of managing that than a Labor government. He is expected to attack the Opposition's approach, accusing it of being irresponsible for setting a greenhouse reduction target but not doing the modelling to know how that would hit the economy.

He will stress that a carbon trading system is necessary. Mr Howard will lay out the principles of emissions trading that his task force has called for and explain how the Government is moving towards implementing it. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese says the Government has been in denial on climate change for too long and he has labelled the scheme a political stunt.


More cutbacks in Melbourne public hospitals

WARDS are being closed, surgeries cancelled and hospitals left in disrepair as the health network serving some of Melbourne's poorest battlers reaches breaking point. Western Health network is slashing its services, including to children, because of costs. Surgeons in the network -- which includes Western Hospital, Sunshine Hospital and Williamstown Hospital -- were told of the deepening crisis this week. It is understood there will be budget cuts estimated at $15 million. The consequences are believed to be:

MORE than 2000 elective operations to be axed in the '07/'08 financial year

ONE ward being closed at Western Hospital, with patient numbers down by about 100

UP TO 40 people waiting on trolleys each day in emergency departments at Western and Sunshine

AND two of the three pediatric surgeons at Sunshine Hospital are taking leave because their working hours are being slashed.

A Western Health network spokesman confirmed the budget troubles on Friday. Staff in the Western Health network have confirmed the ward closure at Western Hospital. Staff told of there often being "more than 20 people in the Emergency Department on trolleys awaiting admission". AMA Victoria president Dr Douglas Travis confirmed Western Health had over-run its budget. He said: "There is a planned general reduction in services. "Administrators go through great anguish deciding how best to 'cut the cloth to fit'."


State political party wants gun training for kids

CHILDREN should start firearms training from age 10 and shooting programs should be reinstated at schools, says the NSW gun lobby. At present children as young as 12 can gain a gun permit, allowing them to shoot semi-automatic pistols, bolt-action rifles and other firearms under supervision.

NSW Shooters Party MP Roy Smith told the Sunday Telegraph his group would lobby parliament to allow 10-year-olds to gain two years' experience with air rifles before they sat for gun licences. "Kids these days get in trouble because we don't trust them with anything," Mr Smith said. "BB guns and air rifles now have to be registered when, in my day, all the boys were running around with them; we don't trust kids with pocket knives and we don't trust them with (fire) crackers. "So essentially the first taste of responsibility kids get in Australia nowadays is when we hand them the keys to the car - often with tragic consequences." Mr Smith said his party would also lobby for gun safety programs and shooting lessons to be reintroduced into school curriculums.

In contrast, the Coalition for Gun Control last week urged the State Government to abolish gun permits for minors. Spokeswoman Sam Lee said the law was "absurd". "It is dangerously ironic that a young person cannot possess a fake or replica handgun but that they can legally use a real one," she said. "We don't let them get a driver's licence until they are 17, because it's too dangerous, but we let them shoot with a semi-automatic handgun before they are even teenagers."

Sporting Shooters Association of Australia statistics show big increases across all ages - including minors - in its membership. Spokesman Adam Leto said in 2000, there were just 15 members under the age of 18. Last year that figure had jumped to about 400, with an average of 120 new members signing up every three months. "We now have about 1000 members under the age of 18," he said.

Western Sydney schoolboy Matthew Woolnough, 12, earned his gun licence two months ago and goes to target practice with his brother Aaron, 14, at an SSAA indoor range. "I enjoy it," he said. "It gives you confidence although the other kids say, 'you can't play soccer so you have to shoot guns instead'. "I have a disease which makes my cartilage disintegrate so I can't (run around on the field)."

Ashleigh Bell, 17, took up shooting initially because of her dream of becoming a policewoman. "You feel really strong and confident when you know how to use a gun and the other kids think it's pretty cool," she said. "It's relaxing, it improves your concentration and when you're feeling angry you can come here and shoot instead of taking it out on a person."

Her sister Rebecca, 12, currently has her temporary membership exemption - a precursor to a minor's permit, which she is due to receive next month. "I wanted to do it because I saw my sister liked it so much," she said. "I've been told I've got a pretty good eye so I'm pretty happy with that."


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