Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Dangerous" medals?? What utter rot!

More "security" stupidity

The Returned Services League has called for military personnel and veterans carry to be allowed to carry their medals with them on commercial flights. RSL national president Major General Bill Crews said he knew of at least one incident in which a veteran was told by airport security he could not bring medals on board an aircraft because of the security risk.

Maj-Gen Crews said airports should show more trust. "Airport security and the government in particular should recognise that people carrying medals are those whose own service is distinguished by those medals and who have the trust of the community," Maj-Gen Crews said on ABC radio. "And surely there can be an exemption made because of the importance of having those medals with you for various occasions."

Maj-Gen Crews said many veterans did not wish to place their medals in checked-in luggage because they were afraid it could get lost. Veterans travelling to funerals often travelled lightly and carried only their medals and cabin luggage, he said. "Those who dictate the security arrangements at airfields ... should make it clear that an exemption applies for those carrying medals of their own," Maj-Gen Crews said.


NSW public hospital kills cop

Concord Hospital and a leading specialist have been secretly [SECRETLY?? How obnoxious!] disciplined by the Health Care Complaints Commission after a patient was found dead on the floor in the middle of the night. Widow Jacqui Day complained about the treatment of her husband Andy, a top undercover police officer, after an anonymous letter from nurses at the hospital said: "Mr Day should not have died." Detective Inspector Day, 45, was being treated for pneumonia and died when his oxygen tube fell out of its wall tap for the second time in six hours.

After an inquiry behind closed doors, the HCCC found that Concord, a major teaching hospital, had provided below standard care to Mr Day "in a number of respects", The Daily Telegraph can reveal. The commission also found that Professor Matthew Peters, the head of respiratory medicine at the hospital, had "departed from the acceptable standard of care" in two areas. He was referred to the Medical Board's conduct committee for "counselling" for not transferring Mr Day to the intensive care unit and for failing to appropriately monitor his oxygen needs.

Mrs Day will today appear before the Government's special commission of inquiry into the state's ailing health system, sitting at Concord, to demand answers and ask why the complaints procedure is shrouded in such secrecy. There was evidence before the HCCC from four medical experts that Mr Day should have been moved to intensive care. Professor Peters told the inquiry there were no intensive care beds available and Mr Day did not want to be moved.

The commission's report, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, said there had been at least one bed available on five of the eight days Mr Day was in hospital and there was no record in the medical notes of Mr Day's comments. "In 2008, you can't leave your loved one in a public hospital on their own," Mrs Day said yesterday, adding that all adverse HCCC findings should be made public. "I still do not know how a 45-year-old man can be admitted to hospital and die on the floor in the middle of the night."

It will be Mrs Day's first visit to the hospital since her husband died at 3.30am on November 14, 2003, after eight days treatment. The HCCC took 18 months on its inquiry. The anonymous letter from nurses was sent to the coroner who conducted a 2006 inquest into Mr Day's death. The cause of death was recorded as a lack of oxygen "due to displacement of oxygen supply", however coroner John Abernethy found Mr Day's condition was so serious he would have died even with different care.

HCCC executive officer Kim Swan said legislation limited what the commission could release to the public. The Medical Board did not return calls. Professor Peters is overseas.


Literature classes still to be used for Leftist propaganda

TRADITIONAL literature and Shakespeare have made a comeback in the new draft English syllabus for school seniors, but academics and teachers are not happy. Under the proposed shake-up, Year 12 students will have to study in-depth at least one literary novel and a Shakespeare play, as well as the more trendy multi-media works scorned by some literary academics. The new syllabus is slightly more prescriptive on which books and plays should be studied, but critics say it also champions so-called "critical literacy" which encourages students to read texts through an ideological prism rather than for the simple joy of reading.

The current senior English syllabus allowed texts such as Shakespeare and novels to be "studied at different depths for different purposes" over the course of years 11 and 12. But the proposed new version insisted Year 12 students must study 15 to 20 literary texts in-depth, at least one of which should be a "complete novel" and another a complete drama text, "usually a Shakespearean drama".

The planned new syllabus followed a review of the existing syllabus by University of Queensland executive Dean of Arts, Professor Richard Fotheringham, who is an expert on Shakespeare's works.

Griffith University literary historian Professor Pat Buckridge said the draft syllabus paid "lip service" to structural change in how senior English was taught. "It has made an attempt to accommodate what I assume was the review's recommendations, but it is largely cosmetic," he said. "Appreciating texts is still not assessed. Literary criticism is still not a basic requirement."

The new draft syllabus suggested a range of approaches to texts which teachers could use including the perspective of cultural heritage, values some works emphasised more than others and critical literacy, with its social justice and ideology emphasis.

English Teachers Association of Queensland president Garry Collins described the changes as a "step back in time". "It seems to be saying you can choose any approach you like and away you go," he said. "Texts do not exist in a vacuum." Mr Collins said there should be a moratorium on any changes until current reviews were finished and national plans outlined.


Blame the "planners" for high cost housing

For more than 50 years the average Australian was able to buy their first home on the average wage. Traditionally, the median house price was about three times the median household income. Today, in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane, the median house price is more than six times the median income; in Sydney and Perth, it is more than eight times.

In 2006 former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Ian Macfarlane asked: "Why has the price of an entry-level new home gone up as much as it has? Why is it not like it was in 1951 when my parents moved to East Bentleigh, which was the fringe of Melbourne at that stage, and were able to buy a block of land very cheaply and put a house on it very cheaply? I think it is pretty apparent now that reluctance to release new land, plus the new approach whereby the purchaser has to pay for all the services up-front - the sewerage, the roads, the footpaths and all that sort of stuff - has enormously increased the price of the new, entry-level home."

Until the 1970s, land was abundant and affordable, and the development of new suburbs was largely left to the private sector. Our pre-'70s leafy suburbs of large allotments and wide streets are an enduring testimony to the private sector approach. Enter state and territory government land management agencies which, since their inception, have been responsible for astronomical rises in land prices, leading to astronomical mortgage costs. This escalation in land prices, in turn, has pushed up the cost of rental accommodation, road widening and key infrastructure projects, establishing schools, community centres and health services, and so on.

State and territory governments were spurred on by an urban planning cheer squad obsessed with curbing the size of our cities and pushing a policy of urban consolidation. The case for urban consolidation was that it was good for the environment, stemmed the loss of agricultural land, encouraged people on to public transport, saved water, led to a reduction in car use and saved on infrastructure costs for government. None of this is true. By promoting urban consolidation while demonising growth, planners have inflicted enormous damage on the economy and society, and politicians and public servants should stop listening to them.

The economic consequences have been as profound as they have been damaging. The capital structure of our economy has been distorted to the tune of many hundreds of billions of dollars and getting it back into alignment will take time.

California, birthplace of the sub-prime mortgage industry, is paying the highest price of any US state as the housing meltdown there persists. By the end of the year, property values in that state alone will have fallen by $US600 billion. California also has one of the strictest urban planning regimes in the world. It and Florida, another highly regulated urban planning regime, account for about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of all sub-prime losses in the US. Foreclosure losses, however, are significantly lower in low urban planning states such as Texas and Georgia. Like most epidemics, the US sub-prime mortgage housing crisis can be traced back to this one source: urban planning laws. The credit crisis is the direct result of unprecedented house price inflation caused by urban planning policies.

In Australia, the housing affordability problem, mortgage stress and the rental crisis are all caused by the same thing.


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