Another public hospital disgrace
Pregnant woman ignored: Miscarries in hospital toilet
A PREGNANT woman miscarried in a emergency department toilet while waiting for medical help at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, her family says. Despite complaining of acute pain, the 32-year-old woman was not seen by a doctor or given painkillers at the hospital overnight, Macquarie Radio reported today.
The woman's husband, identified as Mark, said his wife, Jana, had already had one miscarriage this year. He said Jana went to the hospital about 6.30pm (AEST) yesterday because she was experiencing similar symptoms to when she had the earlier miscarriage. Mark said that after Jana had been waiting more than an hour at the hospital, he was told by a triage nurse there was nothing they could do, and they should just wait in the queue.
"In the course of our waiting, she's ended up on the floor in a squatting position .. with her hands wrapped around her legs ... directly in view of the administration section of the emergency ward. "She's grimacing in pain and nothing's being done."
Jana then went to the toilet and stayed there for a while, he said. "Next minute, I just hear a scream and a smash, and I jumped up, and I raced into the toilet, and ... I just couldn't believe the scene in front of me. "It is my wife ... sitting on the toilet, screaming ... an image in my mind I'll never be able to get out, the look on her face, screaming, tears, hysterical, pants around the ankles ... holding a live, live mind you, live fetus in her hands ... with blood everywhere."
The woman's husband complained to emergency staff about the pain his wife was experiencing, but was repeatedly told to sit back down and wait, the report said. The man's cousin, identified only as Peter, said on Macquarie Radio that the treatment they received was disgraceful.
"When we weren't looking she walked off into the toilet and had a miscarriage," he said. "People have come running (from) everywhere. "I can't go into the finer details, it's just so gruesome, mate. It's just something I wouldn't say on air. "She's holding the little fetus in her hand, basically, and was wheeled out of the toilet in front of this packed waiting room. "Not only that, but once they found her a bed they left her lying with the fetus between her legs for one hour."
Climate promises so much hot air
What is it about climate change that attracts charlatans? While the focus has been on the Howard Government these past few days, what about the political snake-oil salesmen who would have you believe that we can reduce carbon emissions and fix global warming in the near term? That we can pull it off without noticeable economic or political pain and without worrying about what developing countries do. All bunkum. But you wouldn’t know that just by listening to the siren songs of the federal ALP or the Greens. They tell us breezily we can have it all, no worries. Where is the probing, sceptical media when these sorts of porkies are told?
Labor’s climate change policy represents the sort of brazen deception that Hugh Mackay would have no hesitation labelling “shameless mendacity” had it been offered up by the Liberal Party. But because Mackay and his progressive friends are barracking for Kevin 07, they have gone missing in action on the issue of what an ALP government can, and will, deliver on climate change.
A couple of striking recent developments in NSW tell us what a real live ALP government would be forced to do if it got its hands on the levers of power. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to the cuddly, idealistic promises of the Kevin 07 campaign. Federal Labor is hoping nobody will notice the yawning gap between what can be delivered on climate change without passing through the public’s pain barrier and what Peter Garrett and co are holding out to us.
Which is why we ought to take a close look at NSW, where this problem is writ large. The NSW Iemma Government is acutely aware of the chasm between reality and spin because it actually holds the reins of government.
Exhibit one from the NSW Government reality file is Moolarben. A few weeks ago, the NSW Government approved the development of a massive new coal mine at Moolarben near Mudgee despite loud protests from environmental and residents groups. Moolarben is huge. The Sydney Morning Herald reported it would produce 504 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 168 million more cars on the roads and almost as much climate change pollution as Australia generates in a year. If you’re a climate change purist, this is surely a disaster. But the iron law of political reality meant it had to be approved. A cleaner environment tomorrow is no substitute, electorally speaking, for jobs and prosperity today.
As Tasmanian forestry unions taught us at the previous election, the first duty of any Labor government is to preserve and enhance the jobs of union members. Utopian promises of a clean, green environment free of coal mines and timber workers must always surrender to reality.
This is one reason that those telling you it is possible to have meaningful and binding international targets on carbon emission in the near term are practising a fraud. If the NSW Government cannot say no to the jobs generated by the coal industry, can we realistically expect developing countries such as China to do so?
And any scheme that imposes real and effective targets on developed countries but not on developing countries is no more than a scheme to export jobs from Australia to China. Now, Bob Brown and Garrett may have no objection to that. But the hard heads in the ALP know better.
Exhibit two from the NSW school of practical political reality. The NSW Labor Government realises that NSW needs at least one large new power station to “keep the lights on”, to quote Premier Morris Iemma. But as Tony Owen told the Government in his report, it cannot afford to have one without privatising the NSW electricity retailing sector at a minimum, and probably also the generation sector as well.
Herein lies not one but two delicious ironies. Privatising the power industry in order to fund a new power station, inevitably coal-fired, shatters two sacred tenets of the left-wing faith. Thou shalt not privatise. Thou shalt not build more coal-fired power stations.
The need to preserve the jobs of electricity workers, no matter what the cost, will likely mean privatisation will fail because the unions will oppose it, just as they did when former premier Bob Carr and his treasurer Michael Egan went down that path in 1997. Already the unions who pull the NSW Government’s strings have vetoed privatisation.
Interestingly, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph, they have done an unholy deal with the NSW Government to keep any dispute between them quiet until after the federal election. Similarly, if NSW needs a coal-fired power station to keep the lights on, they will get one. At public expense. No matter what climate change commandments are broken in the process. Union jobs will always outrank the cost to the public and certainly trump a clean atmosphere.
The hard men from Labor’s NSW Right faction learned those lessons of practical politics along with their two-times tables. And the key lesson for voters is that federal ALP is run by such practical men today. Men such as Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan. They know, though they are not saying, that Garrett, Anthony Albanese and ALP promises of a clean, green tomorrow are all just flim-flam election material. They know that, pre-election, the vast gap between what they promise on climate change and what an ALP government can actually deliver needs to be filled with a combination of smoke, mirrors and lies.
Should Labor win the federal election, these childish stunts will stop and the real business of governing will begin. Perhaps we should be grateful: adhering to idealistic targets, butchering the coal industry and banning electric hot-water systems will simply impoverish Australians and send jobs offshore without making a jot of difference to world carbon levels or global warming.
If we think the Chinese are going to stop opening new coal-fired power stations because we veto new Moolarbens and won’t sell them coal, we have a shaky grip on reality. So the realpolitik of the ALP hard heads is infinitely to be preferred to the Pollyanna-type views of the dreamers who write the campaign ads and the jingles about clean green futures.
But it would be nice to think that when this inevitable deceit is practised upon us, it would be fearlessly exposed. To think that the left-wing faithful, the artists, poets, actors and playwrights will complain about a lack of public decency in public life, led by Mackay, excoriating the mendacious in public office. To think the intelligentsia will moan about being lied to and write books titled, Not Happy, Kev.
Multiculturalism becomes poison for social capital
WE have heard little in this year's political debate about immigration or multiculturalism, although immigration is running at record levels. Yet a change of government has the potential to bring with it a marked change in both these policy areas, and one that most Australians may not like much. Kevin Rudd has, as on other issues, kept a low profile and told his shadow immigration minister to do the same. It has been left to Paul Keating to remind us what things were like under the Hawke and Keating governments, with his attack on John Howard earlier this year.
Keating said then that when Howard disparaged elites over what he celebrated as the mainstream, he was in fact disparaging cosmopolitan attitudes vis-a-vis the certainties of the old monoculture. There was even a comparison drawn and then withdrawn between Howard's populist appeal to ordinary Australians and Hitler's to the German Volk.
In the Labor years it was the role of cosmopolitan elites to keep ordinary, red-necked Australians and their inherent racism on the straight and narrow. It was an era of stifling political correctness, where critics were howled down with cries of racist by the cosmopolitan internationalist elites of the progressive Left. It was also an era of corrupt immigration policies, with family stream migration rorted to provide branch-stacking fodder. It was a time when ordinary Australians had the cosmopolitans' virulent multiculturalism shoved down their throats, with the result that support for immigration plummeted. This is no right-wing Liberal fantasy. Former Labor finance minister Peter Walsh described immigration policy under Hawke as a process of blow-out and cave in. The immigration program numbers blew out above target, bloated by regular cave-ins to the ethnic lobbyists.
Another former Labor minister, Gary Johns, saw its immigration policy as part of vote buying and branch-stacking. But most telling of all was the findings of the FitzGerald committee inquiry into immigration policy set up by the Hawke government. The committee, headed by Stephen FitzGerald, found a key problem in maintaining support for immigration was a profound distrust by Australians of the policy of multiculturalism. Historian John Hirst wrote in 1994: "Mainstream Australian society was reduced to an ethnic group and given an ethnic name: Anglo-Celt. Its right to primacy was denied; indeed, it became the most suspect of all ethnic groups given its atrocious past."
The Howard years changed all this and Rudd is unlikely to revert to the excesses of the Hawke years; however, there are signs that are worrying nonetheless. For example, Labor's platform, where immigration is dealt with in the section on human rights, itself a worrying sign of a return of the Left to policy formulation, speaks of restoring a fairer and more balanced immigration program. At the moment the program is 70per cent skilled migrants, an economic focus that is very much in Australia's interest. Restoring balance suggest Labor will increase the role of family reunion, an ominous possibility given the record of the Hawke years.
However, the real worry, given Australia will want to continue to run a strong immigration program, is a Labor government's ability to retain a national consensus in favour of immigration. There is a substantial body of research that shows the ethnic diversity driven by immigration is destructive of social capital. The most comprehensive of these studies is by American political scientist Robert Putnam, best known as the author of Bowling Alone, a book on the breakdown of community in the US. Putnam defines social capital as "social networks and the associated norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness".
Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History, told an International Monetary Fund conference on social capital some years ago: "Social capital is important to the efficient functioning of modern economies and is the sine qua non of stable liberal democracy."
Putnam, himself from the progressive Left, is somewhat embarrassed by his findings that ethnic diversity leads to the breakdown of trust and community networks that are a vital part of any society's social fabric. While his study is of the US, he says it would apply to other countries such as Australia. Worried about the impact of his research given the increased sensitivity on immigration issues since September 11, he said nothing about it for four or five years, before delivering a paper in Sweden last year. While he is at pains to say that in the long run immigration and ethnic diversity are likely to have important cultural, economic, fiscal and development benefits, his own research doesn't establish this. What it does show is that over several decades immigration and ethnic diversity lead to mistrust, challenge social solidarity, break down community and are poison to social capital.
This isn't an argument for stopping immigration or for racial purity, since, as Putnam says, ethnic diversity will inevitably increase in all modern societies. But it is a powerful argument against multicultural policies that encourage ethnic separatism and discourage assimilation. The litmus test for a Rudd government will be what it does in response to the Howard Government's changes to Australian citizenship laws designed to increase the value immigrants place on citizenship and insist on competent English and an understanding of Australia's laws, history and culture.
Australian sociologist Katharine Betts and demographer Bob Birrell provide an excellent discussion of the changing approach to citizenship since the Whitlam government in 1973 in the March issue of People & Place. What they show is that under successive Labor governments the value of citizenship was reduced to little better than a certificate you could pull out of a corn flakes packet. They note two very different concepts of citizenship, which they label the procedural position and the patriotic view. The procedural view holds that migrants should have no other commitment to Australia beyond respect for the law and rights of others.
The patriotic position, which surveys show is held by a clear majority of Australians, attaches a strong value to citizenship as a national bond and expects immigrants to live like Australians. This is the position the Howard Government has moved to in recent years. Rudd has yet to declare his attitude to the Government's citizenship approach, but Labor emphatically rejects any suggestion of assimilation. Yet the strongly adverse effect of immigration and ethnic diversity on social capital suggests a policy that brings Australians together rather than encouraging cultural separation will be essential to sustaining immigration and its long-term benefits.
"Pumpkin" reunited with grandma
ABANDONED toddler Qian Xun Xue has been reunited with her grandmother in Auckland, 10 days after being dumped by her father in Melbourne. In a photograph released by New Zealand's Child, Youth and Family (CYF) service, Qian Xun, three, is shown being lovingly embraced today by her maternal grandmother Liu Xiao Ping, who had flown in from China. Qian Xun looked healthy and content, while Ms Ping was clearly delighted to see her granddaughter.
Qian Xun's mother, Anan Liu, was found dead in Auckland last week in the boot of a car belonging to her husband, publisher Nai Xin Xue, who is now on the run in the US. Mr Xue abandoned Qian Xun at Southern Cross railway station before fleeing to America.
CYF regional director Marion Heeney said Qian Xun, nicknamed Pumpkin, had settled in well in Auckland, but had eagerly waited for her grandmother. "While Qian Xun has times where she has been quite distressed, she is generally a very sunny, happy little girl," she said. "She has been chatting away and playing with her new toys but her focus has been on seeing her grandmother."
Ms Heeney said bringing the two together was pleasing for everybody concerned. "Despite the love and affection shown by those caring for Qian Xun, for the past nine days everyone has been new to her," she said. "She needs and deserves to feel safe and secure with a family member that she knows well. "There is clearly a great deal of love and caring between Qian Xun and her nana."
Meanwhile, Mrs Liu, in an open letter, thanked the New Zealand public for their support and paid special thanks to police in New Zealand, Australia and the US. New Zealand Chinese Herald editor Jerry Yang said he received the letter from an unnamed associate of Mrs Liu. In the letter, she said she was writing on Mid-Autumn Day, a traditional day for Chinese family members to come together. But for her, it was the day she was leaving China to attend the memorial service for her murdered daughter. "At this very moment, anyone who has a conscience would understand the deepest pain in my heart," she said.
Mrs Liu wrote that she intended to take Qian Xun back with her to China. She was grateful to the authorities who have cared for her granddaughter and expressed a desire to see justice done over the death of her daughter. ``I want her to grow up healthy in a safe and warm place being well protected by us,'' she wrote. ``I want to condemn the violent crime committed against Anan that is this murder and I'm requesting that Interpol arrest this brutal criminal as soon as possible.''