Friday, July 20, 2007

Global cooling now hits Queensland too

Queensland breaks all-time cold weather record

SOUTH-EAST Queenslanders have woken to a record-breaking cold morning. The Bureau of Meteorology said temperatures fell to a record low at Brisbane Airport shortly after sunrise today, with a temperature of -0.1 degrees celsius recorded at 6.39am (AEST). The previous record for the airport was 0.6 degrees, recorded in 1971 and 1994. Elsewhere in the region, Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane, recorded a low of -4.8 degrees overnight, just 0.1 degree short of the lowest temperature recorded there, in 1995.

There have also been reports of -7 degrees in Stanthorpe, in Queensland's south, while nearby Warwick recorded a temperature of -6.4 degrees. Kingaroy, north-west of Brisbane, plunged to -3.2 degrees, while Amberley, in Brisbane's south-west, fell to -1.9 degrees. Brisbane itself was slightly warmer at 3.9 degrees, while the Gold Coast got to a low of 3.1 degrees about 7am (AEST) and the Sunshine Coast recorded 1.4 degrees.

The cold weather is a result of a combination of dry air and clear night skies as well cold air being pushed up from the south by a strong low pressure system in the Tasman Sea, a bureau spokesman said. Cold temperatures are expected to continue tomorrow but should return to average by the weekend, the spokesman said.


Hate-filled Leftist broadcaster in trouble at last

Note the following comment from Carlton on George Bush: "Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand"

BESIEGED 2UE radio jock Mike Carlton is "on borrowed time" as management yesterday publicly outed him as "despicable", "disgraceful", "pathetic", "appalling", "unreasonable" and "unbelievable". Setting up a clear mandate to dump the breakfast host, Carlton was hung out to dry by a furious Southern Cross Broadcasting management yesterday after telling listeners he "loathed" and "hated" his former colleague Stan Zemanek. Carlton said he would only go to his funeral "to check he was actually dead."

The comments, said to have made Zemanek's wife Marcella "sick to the stomach" and devastated his two daughters as they prepared for the funeral, were born of "a despicable hatred of the kind seen only in the Middle East", Carlton's boss Southern Cross Broadcasting's group general manager Graham Mott said yesterday. "It's just despicable. As I said to Mike it's hatred like you see in the Middle East, it's absolute rubbish. "There's no going back, no recovery from those words," he said.

Carlton's contract is up for renewal at the end of the year but the stinging attack from management - which was reiterated in an unprecedented memo to all Southern Cross Broadacsting staff yesterday - gives ample cause to sack Carlton for bringing the station into disrepute, a station source said. "This is totally unheard of. He's got to be out the door," a 2UE source said last night. Leaving open the option to dismiss Carlton, Mott said it was a matter for behind closed doors. "That's not for public consumption," he said.

But he was so incensed by Carlton's behaviour - and by that of drive presenter Steve Price who replayed the comments on his show and condemned Carlton's "bad taste and bad behaviour" - that he described the incident in his memo as one of 2UE's "darkest moments". "This whole episode is one of our darkest moments and I hope we can move forward with the knowledge that while we may not always agree with each other and we may not like each other; we should at least respect the dead along with their family and friends and we MUST NEVER subject our listeners to such disgraceful behaviour ever again," the memo to more than 100 staff read. "Mike has gone too far and his comments are despicable," it said. Mott said it was a cowardly act to publicly attack a dead man just hours before he was due to be cremated. "I knew they didn't like each other but you don't use airtime to play it out - and it's not exactly very brave to do that when the guy is dead is it?"


A return to paternalism that might do some good

This has a lot of similarities to how Aborigines were managed in the '50s and earlier

ABORIGINAL leader Noel Pearson yesterday hailed a $48 million program aimed at wresting four Cape York communities from the grip of passive welfare as "the most significant reform in welfare since the Second World War". Under the plan announced yesterday by Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough and Mr Pearson, the 3000 residents of four key Aboriginal communities on Cape York will have to accept responsibility for the healthy upbringing of their children, properly maintain and pay rent on their homes, and work to get off "sit-down money" welfare payments. Failure to accept responsibility could result in having a significant portion of welfare payments made to individuals taken from them and managed by a responsible family or community member.

Mr Brough said $48million had been allocated for the four-year trial at the Aurukun, Hopevale, Mossman Gorge and Coen communities, commencing early next year. Under the plan, the Queensland Government will introduce legislation establishing a Family Responsibilities Commission to enforce the welfare obligations. The commission would be chaired by a retired magistrate and include respected Aboriginal members of each of the four communities participating in the trial.

Mr Pearson explained that the commission would work with families and communities to deal with issues of drug and alcohol dependency, violence, child neglect and truancy, gambling and poor financial management.

The federal funding commitment was made after Mr Brough's cabinet colleagues accepted recommendations in a report titled From Hand Out to Hand Up, compiled by the Cape York Institute, which is headed by Mr Pearson. Mr Pearson, who has fought for nine years for reform of what he calls "welfare passivity", said the Government's support for the institute's plan would allow comprehensive reforms to rebuild social norms and create incentives for economic development and growth in Cape York.

Mr Brough said the Government's support was "an expression of the overwhelming desire of people in Cape York to ensure their children grow up in a safe home, attend school and enjoy the same opportunities as any other Australian child". "The trials in these four communities aim to promote engagement in the real economy, reduce passive welfare and rebuild social norms, particularly as they affect the wellbeing of children. "A major feature of the reforms is the introduction of a set of obligations attaching to welfare payments, which will require parents to send their children to school and protect them from harm and neglect. "The housing reforms require tenants to comply with lease conditions. "If people do not uphold the law, welfare sanctions may be introduced to those convicted of domestic violence, drugs or alcohol offences."

Mr Pearson was careful to emphasise that people would not have welfare money docked before a "help" process, including interviews with relationships and violence counsellors and-or financial managers, was exhausted. If recalcitrant or criminal conduct persisted, the Family Responsibilities Commission would determine whether there had been a breach of any of the "obligations". The federal Government will amend legislation to enable Centrelink to redirect a person's welfare payments as directed by the commission.

The federal funding also provides for the establishment of a trust to assist parents to contribute to their children's education and, in some cases, to help send them away to secondary boarding colleges and university. Mr Pearson said Hopevale was "the best home in the world" when he was a child, despite being brought up in poverty. "It's going to be a very rocky road," he said, "but if we get these changes made, I believe that one day soon my community will have children who will look back on their childhood and say, 'This is the best place in the world'."


Rudd wimping out on union thug

KEVIN Rudd will come under pressure to dump a former Tasmanian union leader and endorsed Labor candidate who faces charges in the Federal Magistrates Court for leading unlawful strikes. Kevin Harkins, the ALP candidate for the federal seat of Franklin, will be charged over allegedly illegal strikes involving 80 workers who marched on the Tasmanian parliament in December 2005.

Mr Harkins, who was chosen to replace retiring Labor MP Harry Quick for this year's election, was leader of the left-wing Electrical Trades Union in Tasmania at the time of the alleged offence. The charge, which carries a maximum penalty of $22,000, follows a lengthy investigation by the Howard Government's Australian Building and Construction Commission, in which Mr Harkins and the union refused to co-operate.

As Labor Leader, Mr Rudd has declared he has a "zero tolerance" policy for unlawful union behaviour. He has already forced the resignation from the ALP of Victorian ETU leader Dean Mighell for bad language used at a union meeting, and moved to expel Joe McDonald, West Australian deputy of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, for aggressive behaviour on a Perth building site.

Mr Harkins was named in the royal commission into the building industry in 2003, with the adverse finding that he had engaged in "unlawful conduct". At the time, however, he was not charged with any offence.

Last month Mr Rudd resisted pressure to drop Mr Harkins as a candidate after Treasurer Peter Costello branded him a union thug. In Parliament Mr Costello claimed that Mr Harkins had threatened a builder and said, "if necessary, the union, they would block off the entrance to our site with the truck in the middle of a concrete pour". Mr Costello called on Mr Rudd to disassociate from Mr Harkins and make it clear he would stand up against "thuggery".

A spokesman for Mr Rudd last night said the Labor leader could not comment on matters before the court. He also declined to comment on whether charges against Mr Harkins in the Federal Magistrates Court might affect his continued position as a Labor candidate at this year's election.

The union Mr Harkins led also faces charges over the strikes in December 2005 at several building sites in Tasmania, with a maximum potential fine of $110,000 for the union if a prosecution is successful. The ABCC lodged papers in the Federal Magistrates Court yesterday related to charges against Mr Harkins and the Tasmanian ETU. They will be served with papers today. ETU national secretary Peter Tighe and lawyers for the union have been notified of the ABCC's actions. In a statement last November, Mr Harkins said he expected charges and claimed they related to "paperwork". He said he was prepared to be guilty of defending workers.


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