Thursday, February 28, 2008

The religion of peace in Australia again

GANGS of Middle Eastern youths have threatened to bash staff in popular city and suburban nightclubs. Adelaide hoteliers say the notorious "Middle East Boys" - or MEB - have said they'd find staff members' homes to exact a violent revenge after being refused entry to bars and pubs. One hotelier, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution, said gangs were barred from most Adelaide pubs but members occasionally slipped into late-night clubs undetected. He says gangs are infiltrating bars and clubs to sell drugs to young patrons. "We had one of them say: `We'll find out where you live and come around and get you' after he was chucked out," the hotelier said. "They were coming in pretty regularly for a while there but we have a strict policy now; we just don't let them in."

Chief Inspector Scott Duval, Officer in Charge of the Licensing Enforcement Branch, said he would "encourage any licensee who is experiencing problems with any patron/s to contact police". "A licensee currently has the power to bar persons from their licensed premises under Section 125 of the Liquor Licensing Act for periods of up to three months, six months or indefinitely," he said. "A person barred for over one month may apply to the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner for a review. Maximum penalty for breaching a barring order is a $1250 fine. "Amendments to the Liquor Licensing Act have been drafted which will give police the power to bar persons from licensed premises, however this power is not currently available to police."

MEB, linked by an ethnic background, is one of three groups of young men who are "of interest" to police, along with RTS (Rule the Streets) and TR (Team Revolution). All have associations with bikie gangs. The hotelier said gangs targeted the nightclubs most popular with young people because they were most likely to buy amphetamines and cannabis. Problems of gang intimidation peaked several months ago but strong crowd controls and stricter entry standards were making an impact. Hotelies have the power to ban, or bar, patrons for unruly behaviour but police urge them to also report threats of violence from anybody who might be associated with a gang.

Hotel security vision can be used to identify troublemakers. Police say they will advise hoteliers on their legislative rights and how to stop troublemakers entering hotels. MEB members had been involved in pub fights and a group describing themselves as "Persian" took part in a brawl involving dozens of young Caucasian men at Glenelg last new year's eve. Persia is the former official name of Iran.


Labor Party sticking with tax cuts

Terry McCrann comments:

RIGHT on. Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has come out swinging with a robust defence of the promised tax cuts against the inane calls to ditch them. The issue has become extremely if surprisingly useful as a mechanism to judge the competence of an economist. Apparently, we have a very large number of dud economists in this country. Interestingly they are more than happy to advertise their incompetence. You should be grateful that Mr Tanner and Treasurer Wayne Swan are treating them with profound ignore. Otherwise $31 billion of your money - an extra $31 billion - would be needlessly sucked into the Canberra fiscal maw.

Over the next four years to 2011-12, personal income tax is going to suck up $530 billion - a $70 billion increase on the $460 billion or so in the four years to 2007-08. The anti-tax cut duds want it to be a $100 billion increase, to $560 billion. And you'd still get higher interest rates to boot - with another one coming next week. Talk about a double whammy. The fiscal duo are absolutely rock solid and of one mind: there will be only one whammy. They are Thatcher-style not for turning. They will deliver the cuts in the May budget.

Mr Tanner delivered his five-part defence of the cuts at Gerard Henderson's Sydney Institute on Tuesday. He was crushingly if arguably too gently cutting in his big point. "A number of commentators don't appear to have grasped the fact that the tax cuts don't all hit the Australian economy on July 1. The total value of the tax cuts for the 2008-09 year is not suddenly carpet-bombed on the Australian economy. It is progressively rolled out over the year.''

He could've- but understandably didn't - make two very big associated and rather obvious points -- but they are also not grasped by most of the economentariat. That an $8 billion tax cut (for the full 2008-09 year) that started to dribble out in July, would be neither a sufficient nor a timely substitute for rate rises now. That's to say, if you seriously wanted to tighten fiscal policy to "take pressure off rates'', you tighten it now. Just to spell that out. Forget about ditching the tax cuts. Mr Swan would have to announce today an $8 billion-a-year tax increase. Starting in the next pay packet.

That would also make another obvious point. That ditching the tax cuts is not some sort of "painless'' alternative to higher interest rates. Both tax and rate hikes cause financial pain. That is the intention. The linked critical points made by Mr Tanner was the reforms to marginal rates were crucial to boosting workforce participation at a time of full --over-full - employment. If they were ditched unions and workers would want higher wages to compensate.

His last two points were that tax cuts could be saved, helping families repair household balance sheets, and delivering the election promise was basic to the government's moral authority. I'd add a sixth. To bow to stupidity so early in the term would be unwise.


Smacking children is not assault, say police

New Zealand take note

South Australian police accept parents using "minor force" to discipline their child, Police Minister Paul Holloway has told State Parliament. The Minister said SA Police did not have a "specific official policy" regarding smacking of children by parents, but accepted the community standard. Mr Holloway, in a written response to a question in State Parliament, said officers would only act if they believed the "application of force was more serious than an act of minor discipline, he said, and could then charge them with aggravated assault. "Police would take action against a parent in those circumstances where they believe that the force applied was or is excessive," he said. "SAPOL accept the community standard that on occasion some parents apply minor force to their child as an act of discipline," he said.

But Family First MP Dennis Hood yesterday said SA Police needed to develop an official policy to establish a consistent approach to the issue. Mr Hood said he was trying to protect the rights of parents to discipline their children by smacking in a bill introduced into Parliament late last year, which was not supported by the Government. Under his bill, parents would be protected under law from being charged if they smacked their children with an open hand on the bottom, hand or back of legs.

"I haven't pushed the legislation to a vote because the Government has said it won't support it and so it would be unsuccessful," Mr Hood said. "If somebody gives their child a whack on the bottom or the hands or legs they shouldn't be facing potential court action over that - as happened in other states and there are reports of it having happened here in South Australia as well." "Clearly there are inconsistencies with the way this issue is handled. I am not endorsing the beating of children or any form of child abuse whatsoever."

Mr Holloway said police don't keep records of parents charged with smacking their children because if action was taken, the parent would be charged with aggravated assault. Mr Hood said smacking children is illegal in New Zealand. Last week a retired Victorian family court judge called called on state governments to follow New Zealand's move to abolish the legal defence of "reasonable chastisement" for parents who hit their children.

Officers have the power to remove children from dangerous situations if they believe the child was in serious danger and they had to protect the child from harm, Mr Holloway said.


Better teacher selection needed

Elements in the NSW Teachers Federation have strongly resisted the mild proposals put forward by the NSW Director-General of Education, Michael Coutts-Trotter, to improve the processes of selecting teachers for our public schools. Principals of NSW secondary public schools have for years been seeking a more effective system of staffing their schools, and see the latest proposals as a small step in the right direction. A balance between local selection by school-based panels and statewide staffing processes would bring NSW into the 21st century, as well as ensuring students were being taught by teachers who really wanted to be in their school.

The NSW Secondary Principals' Council, the professional association that represents the vast majority of principals in the government sector, has developed a position paper that calls for just that: a balance. The SPC would like to have 50 per cent of staff chosen through local selection, with the remainder determined by state needs. Principals are rightly held more accountable than they used to be for the educational outcomes of students in their schools, but have very little say over the selection of their teachers. Greater authority to do this would lead to a better match of teachers for every school, and teachers would be able to make more informed decisions about where they might like to teach.

Schools in all parts of NSW would benefit from the adoption of the principals' position paper, as it calls for improved incentives to attract and retain teachers in rural and remote areas. Salary increases and termination bonuses after five years' service might well attract more teachers to these schools. Students in isolated areas deserve experienced teachers just as much as students in coastal and metropolitan schools do, and genuine incentives would make this possible.

The current transfer system works against the interests of many teachers who don't attract enough points to be able to move to a school that they would like to be in and to which they could make a great contribution. Some of our really great young teachers resign after a few years and either travel or work in the private sector once they realise that the present selection process is an impediment to them. More Generation Y teachers are teaching in our schools and they have a much more flexible approach to work. They don't want to be locked into a system that sees them as points on a scale rather than as a teacher who wants to work in a variety of locations. A young teacher told me a couple of weeks ago that this would be one issue he wouldn't take industrial action on. He wants the option of seeing what is available in a school before applying. He is not alone in thinking like this.

Parents want the best for their children. Knowing that the teachers of their children want to be in their school, have been selected through proper, fair processes to be there, and will be professionally developing themselves to enhance their future prospects should give parents much more confidence in their local public school.

Let's hope that NSW schools can move into the 21st century, and that the proposal by our school leaders for an improved staffing process will influence both the department and the Teachers Federation.


Over ten years of dodgy doctoring and only now is immigrant doctor stopped

"Your government will look after you", once again

An investigation into a Czech-trained obstetrician and gynaecologist, whose Queensland registration was suspended last night, has found two suspect cases in his work in the state. Dr Roman Hasil worked as a locum at Rockhampton Hospital, in central Queensland, from December 18, 2006, to January 12, 2007. After working for one day at the Redcliffe Hospital, on Brisbane's northern bayside, on March 7, 2007, he disappeared following an inquiry into his performance in New Zealand.

The Medical Board of Queensland last night suspended Dr Hasil's registration after receiving a damning report into his professional conduct from New Zealand authorities. An investigation into Dr Hasil's practices was launched in New Zealand last March after women who underwent sterilisation at Wanganui Hospital later fell pregnant. A NZ Health and Disability Commission report found Dr Hasil had not placed clips correctly on patients' fallopian tubes.

NZ authorities also noted Dr Hasil had a chequered work history in Australia from 1996 to 2005. He had lied about a criminal conviction for domestic violence in Singapore and left Lismore Base Hospital in NSW in 2005 after an allegation against him for "fiddling" timesheets, an accusation he denied. He had been dismissed from a Victorian hospital in 2005 for recording a blood alcohol reading of 0.2 while on call, the New Zealand report said.

Queensland Health acting director-general Andrew Wilson said today a specialist had reviewed Dr Hasil's work in the state and found two cases "indicating an unexpected outcome or deviation from standard practice". The findings of the two cases had been passed on to the medical board, he said. Dr Wilson said Dr Hasil had been involved in 17 obstetric and gynaecological related procedures in Queensland.

Beryl Crosby, who has advocated on behalf of patients of rogue surgeon Dr Jayant Patel, said health authorities needed to improve checks on overseas-trained doctors. Indian-trained Dr Patel, dubbed "Dr Death", is being sought for extradition from the United States on manslaughter charges relating to his work at Bundaberg Base Hospital in southeast Queensland. "They (medical authorities) need to be bloody thorough in their checks and not hire anyone with a record that harmed people," Ms Crosby said. "We don't want this here in Queensland - we've had a gutful. I know we are desperate for doctors, but we are not that desperate that we want to put people in harm's way again. It's just not on."

Dr Hasil remains registered to practice in NSW. The chief executive of the NSW Medical Board, Andrew Dix, said the board was aware of concerns about Dr Hasil, but no complaints had been received in NSW. "We will be taking urgent action to see whether there are grounds for referring him to the medical tribunal," he said on Fairfax radio today. Without a decision from the tribunal, the board did not have the power to deregister, he said.

NZ authorities declined to refer Dr Hasil to prosecutors, but the inquiry report concluded: "Many women of Wanganui have been deeply affected by the substandard care provided by Dr Hasil, and some women have been harmed".


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