Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Leftists fail to prioritise people

LEFT-WING policymakers have failed indigenous communities and social order is more important for Aborigines than land rights, says Noel Pearson. The director of the Cape York Institute says urban critics of John Howard's intervention plan are misinformed, and he dismisses claims the plan is an attempt to take control of uranium-rich land.

"If political circumstances became such that one was forced to prioritise. I place social order ahead of land rights," Mr Pearson writes today in The Weekend Australian. "Of course the land problem is being overstated. If there is a 'land grab'. then it is principally being grabbed for the benefit of Aboriginal families obtaining private leasehold title for housing and businesses."

Mr Pearson. whose institute last month hosted the Strong Foundations conference in Cairns, sponsored by The Australian, says the failure of indigenous communities to maintain social order was the reason the federal Government had been forced to intervene. "(Conference speaker Marcia) Langton cut to the chase: non-conservative indigenous and non-indigenous people's failure to take sufficient political and practical responsibility for social functionality in indigenous communities made the recent intervention by conservative leaders inevitable," he says. "Of course the conservative leaders would ultimately intervene, Langton explained, and it is hardly surprising that their plan is shaped by their conservative ideology."

Mr Pearson says Aborigines need to force their way into the mainstream political agenda and look to the future: "The principal psychological problem of indigenous leaders is they have got bile in their livers about the fact of the Howard Government and its history over the past decade. "Our progressive non-indigenous supporters can afford to devote all of their energies to willing the New Jerusalem - after all, even a conservative government looks after them notwithstanding their contempt - but our people cannot afford this indulgence. "We have to deal with the government and the politics of the day and devote our maximum energies and talents towards making good of things that otherwise seem bad."

Mr Pearson says the Howard intervention is needed because abuse in Aboriginal communities is so widespread. "Urban-based critics just simply do not know the realities. Neither did 90 per cent of Australia until recently," he says. Mr Pearson says Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin abandoned Aboriginal people because her Government had become obsessed with its media image. "Martin put more energy and political angst into combating Lateline and federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough in relation to the Alice Springs town camps than in relation to the problems that were exposed," he says.

The above article by Padraic Murphy appeared in "The Australian" on July 7, 2007

Staff crisis cripples public hospital

HUNDREDS of patients have had their diagnoses for deadly afflictions such as cancer and strokes delayed because of acute staff shortages at one of Queensland's biggest hospitals. The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital is being forced to conduct rolling shutdowns of multimillion-dollar diagnostic equipment because of a lack of radiographers to operate the machines. The revelation is another blow to the State Government's claim that the struggling Queensland health system is "turning the corner" after a $10 billion funding injection over five years.

In a damning email obtained by The Courier-Mail, RBWH medical imaging technology director Paul Esdaile warned that equipment closures were expected to continue for months. "Due to the poor response to the recent advertising campaign attempting to attract radiographers, the department has no choice but to close some clinical rooms," he wrote in the email late last month. "There will be more to follow in the months ahead, as the chances of employing additional staff are very slim." The email outlined ongoing closure of equipment, including one outpatient MRI machine over the first two weekends of this month.

The adjoining Royal Children's Hospital is already in danger of having to mothball Queensland's only pediatric MRI scanner after the resignation of key staff members. The RBWH hierarchy is also being forced to conduct Monday- to-Friday shutdowns of one of its two outpatient CT scanners, which help doctors to diagnose ailments from cancers to internal injuries of accident victims. Other closures are also occurring on ultrasound and digital fluoroscopy machines, which diagnose throat cancer and strokes. Unofficial waiting times recently posted on hospital bulletin boards state there is a 60-day wait for a CT scan and a 148-day wait for an MRI scan.

One radiographer at the RBWH said medical imaging at the hospital was now in "meltdown". It is understood other hospitals, including the Mater and Princess Alexandra, are suffering similar difficulties keeping their machines operating at normal levels. A Queensland Health spokesman said there was a national shortage of radiographers and Queensland hospitals were not immune. RBWH acting chief executive officer Judy Grabes agreed the hospital did have a radiographer shortage and plans had been developed to ensure it did not "greatly" affect patients. "This means that some medical imaging rooms for non-urgent cases will be periodically closed," she said.


The bad news is it's jobs galore

The Left-leaning Sydney Morning Herald looks desperately for the dark lining in a silver cloud below

THE jobless rate is tipped to tumble below 4 per cent - its lowest for 33 years - but economists warn it is a two-edged sword: it threatens to bring higher wages, inflation and an interest rate rise before the election. Amid a furious national debate over housing affordability, another rate rise could anger voters with mortgages, despite the accolades that will flow to the Government for the historically low jobless rate.

The hunt for staff has led to a 36 per cent increase in the number of job ads appearing in newspapers and online over the past year, according to the respected ANZ survey of job ads, prompting this prediction from the bank's head of economics, Tony Pearson: "We believe we may well see an unemployment rate with a '3' in front of it before the end of the year." But he added: "Policymakers will need to remain vigilant for any signs that the tightening labour market is placing upward pressure on wages growth."

A Macquarie Bank economist, Brian Redican, said a jobless rate below 4 per cent could be the point at which inflation began to accelerate. "If it did fall below 4 per cent ... that could prompt the Reserve Bank to bring forward an interest rate rise to before the election," he said.

Industry groups say demand for workers is even higher than shown by the figures, because employers are abandoning advertising for staff because they know it will not work. A survey of 1200 business executives released today by Dun and Bradstreet shows a third think wages growth will be the most important influence on their business in the new financial year, compared to just 15 per cent who say interest rates. Businesses fear they will be forced to offer higher pay to tempt a dwindling pool of workers.

The Reserve Bank is worried workers will spend their higher wages, stimulating the economy and pushing up prices. Financial market observers believe there is a good chance the bank will make a pre-emptive strike against inflation next month by raising the cost of borrowing to a decade high of 8.3 per cent.

The Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, promised yesterday to look at tax credits for developers offering low rent accommodation to ease the housing shortage.

The head of Restaurant & Catering Australia, John Hart, said Sydney restaurants in particular were feeling the staff squeeze. "Every restaurant, on average, could employ another person if they fronted up to the door," he said. A survey of building and construction jobs by recruitment firm Olivier Group found demand for these workers had doubled over the year.

The jobless rate fell to 4.2 per cent in May. Federal Treasury predicted at the time of the budget in May that the jobless rate would rise to 5.25 per cent as welfare-to-work changes, which come into effect this month, force more women to seek work.



Sheer Puritanism. Not mentioned below is that lifespans have grown considerably since the 1940s

SIXTY years after the end of war-time food rationing, a leading nutritionist is calling for the return of the ration books. A 1940s diet could control the epidemic of obesity afflicting Australia and much of the developed world, says nutritionist Rosemary Stanton.

Apart from reducing the amount and variety of fatty foods available, rationing would reintroduce older values such as sharing and cutting down on waste. "During war time if you noticed the apples in the bowl were getting a bit wrinkly, you stewed them," Dr Stanton said. "Today you just chuck them out."

Rationing in war-time Australia was less severe than much of the rest of the world, and the only foods to which it applied were tea, sugar, butter and meat. Meat was rationed to the equivalent of 900g a week, butter to 450g a fortnight; sugar to 900g a fortnight and tea to 450g every five weeks. "Austerity meals" were served in Australian restaurants and hotels, limiting expenditure to five shillings (about $15 at today's values) for dinner, four shillings for lunch and three shillings for breakfast.

"There was very little incidence of heart disease or diabetes during the war years, and obesity was almost unknown," Dr Stanton said. People grew their own fruit and vegetables, and swapped foods with their neighbours, both of which should be encouraged today, she said. "We were restrained in the amount of fatty foods we could buy, whereas today there are no limits. This leads to waste and the massive amount of food we throw away.

Her latest book, Healthy Eating for Australian Families, includes a recipe for chocolate cake Dr Stanton discovered in an old World War II recipe book.


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