Monday, July 30, 2007

Out of the frying pan, into the fire? Medical desperation in Queensland

MORE than two in three people want the Federal Government to take control of Queensland's failing health system, the Queensland: Your Say survey has revealed. Data from the poll shows 69 per cent of Queenslanders have lost faith in the State Government's ability to run their health service. Despite promises that problems will be resolved, patients continue to suffer substandard levels of care, including waiting lists of up to eight years for surgery, a lack of beds, and closure of 38 maternity units in rural Queensland because of a lack of staff.

Queenslanders have spoken out loud and strong with 10,700 people raising their voices in the 2007 Sunday Mail-National Nine News Your Say survey. Readers seized the chance to share their feelings in one of the biggest responses to a survey in any Australian newspaper.

Queensland Opposition health spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said he was not surprised the public was frustrated with the State Government. "Health is such an important portfolio, and yet Beattie and Labor are not running it properly," he said. "It's certainly not a lack of money that is causing the problems because the budget has gone from $3 billion 10 years ago to $7.15 billion now."

Hospital patient Campbell Ney, 64, from Mareeba, is among Queenslanders unhappy with the system. He was last week forced to transfer from Cairns Base Hospital to Mossman Hospital because of a lack of beds. Mr Ney, who has a severe lung infection, said: "I'm a pretty easygoing sort of a bloke but this health system is off the rails."

In the past two years Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has investigated the possibility of taking control of Queensland's health system, but yesterday told The Sunday Mail he had no plans to do so at the moment. "I'm flattered that people think the Howard Government is much better placed to fix the health system than the Beattie Government," he said. "However, the Commonwealth Government has no plans to take over the public hospital system."

State Health Minister Stephen Robertson blamed the Federal Government for failings in the health system. "Queensland's public hospitals have been short-changed by the Howard Government to the tune of $2.6 billion over the life of the current five-year Australian Health Care Agreement," he said. In a sign of falling support for public health services, the Queensland: Your Say survey revealed 64 per cent of readers had taken up private cover.


Now it's the NSW ambulance service in strife

Eerily similar to the Queensland situation

AN ambulance staffing crisis is forcing rookies with just nine weeks' training onto the streets to try to save lives without proper supervision. One in three NSW Ambulance Service officers is a trainee because experienced staff are quitting in record numbers, fed up with being overworked and underpaid, front-line sources say. Last year there were twice as many resignations as in 2002. Tensions among those left behind are said to have reached breaking point, the sources say, with suicide attempts increasing. One senior officer said patient care was being compromised by the exodus of experienced officers. "Make no mistake, patients have died because of this and they will continue to die," she said.

A copy of the service's 2007 corporate culture survey leaked to The Sun-Herald paints a grim portrait of chronically poor morale and employees who feel undervalued, restricted in how they go about their work and disengaged from decision-making processes. The vast majority believe their supervisors do not deal effectively with key issues such as stress, excessive workloads, absenteeism, harassment and bullying, and are not addressing their concerns about industrial relations.

NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher last week countered criticisms of the service's capabilities by pointing to the recruitment of 327 personnel over the past four years. However, Freedom of Information figures obtained by the Opposition and seen by The Sun-Herald show 475 resignations over the same period. Novice ambulance attendants who might normally spend more than a year teamed up with two fully qualified partners are being thrown in the deep end, sources say.

A NSW Ambulance Service spokesman insisted trainees were placed under "close supervision at all times" but Health Services Union Hunter Valley officer Peter Rumball disputed this, saying the practice of pairing trainees with a single unqualified trainer to save money was commonplace. Mr Rumball said the union had repeatedly raised concerns about how one senior officer was supposed to supervise a trainee when he or she had more than one patient to treat at a time, or if the pair had to split up, or one had to stay with a patient while the other drove to hospital or went off to retrieve equipment. "Officers who come straight out of the service's rescue school get no supervision or mentoring at all," Mr Rumball said. "They are classed as fully qualified even though they have never undertaken a rescue."

A paramedic with 10 years' experience said rookies were being pushed onto the front line without proper regard for the consequences. "You have a situation where they are performing extremely demanding tasks without the proper supervision and that is where errors can be made," she said. "The way the roster system is set up is that at training stations there should be 10 fully qualified officers. "But how it is now is that out of those 10, two or three are trainee officers and are actually not qualified but they are rostered on to fill out those positions. "The trainees are being used to fill the holes and are just thrown straight in."

Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said the number of calls she was receiving from ambulance officers in distress outstripped even those from within the ranks of the state's 40,000 nurses. "This issue is all about long-suffering ambulance officers who are under enormous stress, not getting any support and burning out," Ms Skinner said. "The fact that they're resigning at a faster rate than ever before speaks for itself. "What we're talking about is people at the coalface being forced to bear the brunt when, instead, it should be the Government dealing with it." Mr Rumball said his concerns about stress levels of the job were grave, and he knew of five colleagues who had attempted suicide in the past few years


Windpower, union stupidity and green lies

For those of you who think that our union officials are not all that bright, look no further than Dean Mighell, the southern states branch secretary of the Electrical Trades Union who recently forced to resign from Australian Labor Party. What makes this particular union Neanderthal interesting is the regrettable fact that he is genuinely representative of what is laughingly called the "unions' intelligentsia".

This union hotshot is so dense that he promotes policies that would impoverish his members in the dim-witted belief that raising the ratio of labour to capital creates high-paying jobs. As evidence one merely has to refer the statement he made several years ago that stopping the construction of gas-fired generators in favour of windmills would increase the demand for labour and raise real wages. This birdbrain and his fellow halfwits argued that centralised power generation doesn't create enough jobs.

That power stations are built not to maximise jobs but to generate electricity at the lowest possible cost is apparently far too complex an argument for Dean Mighell to grasp. In pursuit of jobs, rather than prosperity, these intellectual giants of the union movement - and the ALP - once met with state government officials and Pacific Hydro (a so-called Australian renewable energy company) to discuss building windmill generators with the purpose of creating more jobs. (The company had already built an 18-megawatt windmill in the state., the output of which has been greatly exaggerated).

According to the absurd logic of these economic and scientific illiterates, windmills create more jobs because they are labour intensive. So are wheel barrows and shovels. Does this mean that all earth moving machinery should be banned by law? That scores of factories should be set up to manufacture nothing but shovels and wheelbarrows? Think of the enormous number of jobs this would create. And think of the gigantic wage cuts that such a policy would impose on the masses.

I am deadly serious about this comparison. There is no fundamental economic difference in principle between sabotaging the building of gas-fired power stations and the banning of bulldozers. The only thing that makes them differ is that the latter proposal is self-evidently stupid while the union's proposal requires the kind of knowledge that most people do not possess - and that includes the dimwits who run the state Liberal Party.

First and foremost, what raises real wages for everyone is capital sometimes called the material means of production. The less capital per worker the lower real wages will be. It follows that any policy that raises the labour-capital ratio is a recipe for lowering real wages. And that is exactly what these windmills would do.

No the upper limit for a windmill is about 59.3 per cent. This is also called the Betz limit. What the Betz tells us is that it is impossible for any windmill or wind turbine to turn more than 59.3 the per cent of the wind's energy into mechanical or electrical energy. In English so plain that even a union official can understand it - wind power is dilute and that's where its diseconomies of scale come from. And diseconomies of scale mean rising costs, not falling costs. Another insurmountable technical problem is the scientific fact that the maximum power one can extract from a windmill is also proportional to the third power of the wind's velocity. This means that even small changes in wind velocity will generate huge disproportionate changes in output, even with the best designed windmills.

A 1978 British study will give readers some idea of just how inefficient these windmills are. It calculated that it would take 20 million windmills with 100 foot diameter blades to meet the country's electricity needs. For America, it would have been something like 250,000 windmills with 300 foot blades. How many windmills would it take today? Can you imagine our union activists climbing one of these monsters to fix a fuse? Not on your life. This is Australia, mate. (That the study is nearly 30 years old is irrelevant. Physical laws do not change with the passing of time).

Denmark is one country from whose energy mistakes Australia could certainly learn. It allowed itself to be conned by green fanatics in to diverting masses of scarce capital into building wind farms, much to the disgust of real scientists and engineers. The country is now in the ridiculous situation where its theoretical generating capacity is three times that of peak demand. Yet, according to a 1999 estimate, wind accounts for only about 1.7 per cent of electricity production - at a cost of about $AUS600 million in annual subsidies. On the other hand, gas-fired power stations have concentrated power and economies of scale, which means falling costs. By this means, the price of electricity is lowered. And that means lower input prices for industry which in turns expands the demand for more jobs.

Nevertheless, despite experience, scientific studies and engineering knowledge the Labor Government's energy kommissars are sabotaging the state's future electricity supplies by implementing so-called `clean power' policies. And they are doing it with the support of economic illiterates like Dean Mighell'. In the meantime, the State Liberal Party's economic illiterates are busy putting together its own green energy policy which will - if I have been properly informed - be tantamount to economic euthanasia.

*Any youngster with a calculator can work this out from the following very rough rule-of-thumb formula P =r2v3. So if the radius of the blades is 3 metres and wind power is 30 mph, output will be 243 megawatts. Should wind velocity drop to 15 mph output will plummet to 33.75 megawatts which amounts to an 88 per cent drop in output. Therefore the greens' claim that one can run a modern economy on windpower is a malicious lie.


Global warming policies for mass poverty

The newly formed Carbon Sense Coalition today described the Global Warming Policies of both Federal and State government and opposition parties as "Policies for Poverty". Chairman of the new group, Mr Viv Forbes, says that at a time when scientific and informed opinion was becoming more sceptical of the apocalyptic prophecies of the Global Warming Industry, politicians and the media were competing to propose the most extreme and expensive options to "solve" a non- problem.

"A coalition of big business, big government and state funded media and research bureaucrats is colluding to impose job losses, power shortages and increased costs for electricity, transport and food on the unsuspecting Australian community - a well designed total package of Policies for Poverty." "Ordinary workers, consumers and taxpayers will be sacrificed on this Altar in the vain hope that it will have some beneficial effect on earth's future climate". "Even casual analysis of the evidence will show that even if Australia closed every coal mine and power station, and stopped all cars, trucks, ships and aeroplanes, it would be impossible to detect any effect on world temperature". "Politicians seem prepared to impose enormous costs on the Australian people in order to achieve miniscule effects on a non problem".

"Professor Lance Enderbee has published graphs of mean temperatures from 27 rural recording stations in Australia for 100 years from 1890 to 1990. The trend is horizontal, with mean temperature in 1990 below that for 1880. This has occurred during the century of the motor car, two world wars, and massive growth of coal burning for steel production and power generation. Rising carbon dioxide levels have had no effect on temperatures". "A similar data set for six Australian capital cities shows a generally rising trend in temperature since 1950 - that is, rising temperature in Australia is an urban effect, not a result of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." "Urban heating is caused by air conditioners pumping heat into or out of buildings, motors cars exhausting hot fumes, hot factories, millions of hot bodies, politicians emitting hot air, hot concrete and bitumen, polluted air, fewer breezes and less cool pastures, swamps and scrub." "This urban heating will be made worse by the silly proposal to replace electric appliances (whose source of heat and emissions is controlled in an isolated power station in the countryside) with millions of small open fires burning in gas stoves and hot water systems in every home all over the city."

"The federal government and five state governments have six different programs and models covering emissions trading, carbon caps, carbon taxes and renewable energy schemes. Each jurisdiction is rushing to set up new energy, greenhouse and climate change offices with hierarchies of expensive public officials to staff them. "Merchant banks are gearing up for the easy profits to be generated by carbon trading. Lawyers are preparing for the rush of new business from the disputes, legal challenges and shady deals which will follow the complicated sets of laws and regulations on carbon caps, emissions trading rules, conditions covering free permits, penalties, exemptions, offset policies, early abatement rules, reporting requirements and international trading rules". "All of this is creating a totally artificial industry living on the sweat of ordinary workers, farmers, miners, foresters, consumers, tax payers and shareholders."

"Every carbon cap or tax will increase the cost of electricity in every home, farm and factory. Every increase in power costs will drive one more business and its jobs to China or India. Every subsidy for playthings like solar collectors or wind farms will cause an increase in taxes. And every ethanol plant built will increase the costs of every bit of food on the table of every home in the country - all of these are Policies for Poverty."

"The long term effects on the community will be obvious, but different. Emission traders and regulators will get bonuses in their pay packets. The beautiful people in the leafy suburbs will cut back on cappuccinos. Grain and sugar farmers supplying ethanol plants will prosper. All other farmers and consumers will suffer losses as grain, sugar and electricity costs rise. Coal miners will lose their job. Factory workers will lose their house. Politicians will lose office."


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