Monday, January 19, 2009

The flow of illegals has resumed

A conservative government stopped it. A Leftist government has restarted it

A vessel carrying 21 asylum seekers has been intercepted by a navy patrol boat near the Ashmore Islands off Australia's northwestern coast. Navy patrol boat HMAS Maryborough intercepted the suspected illegal entry vessel on Saturday, about 39km from the Ashmore Islands, which is some 320km off Australia's Kimberley coast, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said. An air force aerial patrol had earlier spotted the boat.

Twenty people were found aboard the vessel. The group has been taken to Christmas Island for health, security and identity checks, Mr Debus said. The interception demonstrated the effectiveness of Border Protection Command's surveillance program, he said.

A day before the latest vessel was intercepted, the Federal Government announced 28 boat people intercepted by border patrols in September and November last year would be resettled in South Australia in the next few days. [And every one of them will write home encouraging others to come] They are the first people to be granted asylum since the Government softened Australia's refugee policy last July.

Announcing a "more humane" approach, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd scrapped the automatic incarceration on arrival of asylum seekers and called for an end to the detention of children and their families - both legacies of the previous government.

The Immigration Department is currently processing claims for another 134 unauthorised arrivals on Christmas Island.


Obama opts for a friend of Australia in key policy role

BARACK Obama has ensured Canberra will remain at the heart of US policy in Asia by moving to appoint one of Australia's closest friends in Washington to his top Asia policy position. Kurt Campbell, who runs the influential think tank the Centre for a New American Security in Washington - and is a good friend of Kevin Rudd - will become the assistant secretary of state for Asia and the Pacific. This is the senior Asia policy position within the State Department, and in the past its occupant has carried enormous sway over US policy in the region. The appointment has not yet been announced, but well-placed Washington sources have confirmed it.

Dr Campbell could be the most significant pro-Australian US senior official since Richard Armitage was deputy secretary of state in the first George W. Bush administration from 2001 to 2005. Mr Obama's other foreign policy appointments are also good news for us. Jim Steinberg, a senior official under Bill Clinton, will be deputy secretary of state, and Michelle Flournoy will be undersecretary of defence. Close friends of Dr Campbell, they are veterans of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue.

In some senses, all the senior Bush administration officials were pro-Australian. But Mr Armitage became the go-to person, in effect the godfather, of the Australia relationship. He had an unmatched breadth of connections to Australia as well as vast experience of Asia, and a large network of close contacts throughout the region. As one senior Australian put it: "Campbell will be the new Armitage."

Dr Campbell has an in-depth knowledge and enormous range of contacts in Asia, and an almost unparalleled level of intimate involvement with Australia. He is a member of the board of the foundation that supports the annual Australian American Leadership Dialogue, founded by businessman Phil Scanlan (soon to take up his appointment as Australia's consul-general in NewYork). Dr Campbell is a core member of the dialogue, and through its annual meetings has become a good friend of the Prime Minister. He is also on close terms with former Labor leader Kim Beazley.

His appointment, and a number of others by Mr Obama, are a triumph for Mr Scanlan's dialogue. One Washington insider suggests 12 or 15 members of the dialogue will end up scattered across senior roles in the Obama administration. This dramatically demonstrates the dialogue's success in recruiting the A-team of American international relations in both parties, and shows how central the dialogue has become in US-Australia relations.

Friends of Australia in Washington plan to work hard to foster the Obama-Rudd relationship, stressing the similarity in outlook and political philosophy, especially on international issues, of the two new national leaders. A committed Democrat, Dr Campbell spent the past eight years out of government, working in think tanks. However, as a senior official at the Pentagon in the 1990s, he worked closely with the Howard government, especially on East Timor.

He is one of the most brilliant policy wonks in Washington, who has an ability to turn deep intellectual insight into effective policy. He is regarded as a centrist or even modestly hawkish Democrat, and his appointment, along with a number of others, signals the centrist and hard-headed approach Mr Obama is likely to take in foreign policy and security issues generally. It signifies the eclipse of the Left of the Democratic Party in national security issues.

A prolific author of books, academic papers and opinion columns, Dr Campbell wrote an important book in 2006 called Hard Power - an intellectual response to the vogue of soft power. Dr Campbell argued not that soft power was unimportant, but that the Democratic Party had to master the tools of hard power and had to show the US electorate it could effectively and decisively use the military and other tools of hard power. He argued that the Democrats had allowed the Republicans to consolidate an image as the party of national security and military purposefulness, and that as a result one of the strongest Republican constituencies was the military. Too often, he said, Democrats thought generous benefits for veterans and a stress on diplomacy constituted a national security policy. He was not against diplomacy or soft power, but Democrats had to understand that hard power was at the centre of national security and international relations, and make themselves masters of it.

Dr Campbell's hard-headedness is evident in two passages in the book. One, which will bring great comfort in Canberra, shows his deep appreciation of US alliances as a central organising principle of the international system. "The US leads a remarkable alliance system," he writes. "Never before has a great power elicited such support from the world's other powers and provoked so little direct opposition. This situation is in some jeopardy as a result of the Bush administration's internationally unpopular decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein in 2003, but on balance it holds."

The other shows a nuanced but hard-headed approach to China. "The key is not to bash China but to have a sufficiently sophisticated understanding of the relationship that we can be encouraging and work together in some areas while standing firm and pushing for reform in others."

Dr Campbell's appointment will reassure Japan, which has lacked a champion in the US administration since the departure of Mr Armitage, as well as Taiwan, where Dr Campbell has extensive contacts.

Dr Campbell writes in Hard Power in praise of Australia's military prowess, stating that with Britain, France and to a lesser extent Italy, it is the only US ally capable of "any significant rapid intervention missions whatsoever".

Given his Pentagon background - Dr Campbell served in the US Navy - it had been thought he would be undersecretary of defence. But he was a strong backer of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and this may have told against him in consideration for that post.

Dr Campbell's closeness to Australia matches that of Mr Armitage. He has taken family holidays in Australia and last year gave serious consideration to coming to Sydney to live, as Sydney University had canvassed the possibility of offering him the directorship of the new and lavishly funded American Studies Centre established with government and private money.

Dr Campbell was not always an Asianist. He completed his first postgraduate degree at a university in the former Soviet Union and is a fluent Russian speaker. But Joe Nye, the author of a hugely influential book on soft power, saw his potential and was critical in promoting Dr Campbell to deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia and the Pacific in the mid-90s. In this role, Dr Campbell became a pivotal player on Asian policy. He was an important part of the decision to send a US aircraft carrier battle group to deter Chinese aggression in Taiwanese waters in 1996. And he was crucial to Canberra in mobilising support in the Clinton administration for Australia's intervention in East Timor in 1999. He became a friend of Alexander Downer, and at one ASEAN meeting he was the star of the traditional skit night, appearing with great good humour on stage in a skirt to make up for Madeleine Albright's absence.

But Dr Campbell's talents do not end there. After a stint on the US National Security Council, he wrote a TV pilot script that played a part in the genesis of what eventually became the smash hit TV series The West Wing.

Although a strong Democrat, Dr Campbell was well regarded by centrist Republicans. Some senior Republicans wanted to offer him a job in the Bush administration, but Dr Campbell was always a committed Democrat. At one point during the Clinton administration, I asked Mr Armitage who was the best person in the Clinton team on Asia, and whom I should try to get to know. He told me to seek out Dr Campbell.

Dr Campbell's wife, Lael Brainard, has been tapped as undersecretary of state for international economics under Mr Obama, making them one of Washington's most impressive power couples. There is also a strong rumour that Derek Mitchell, a veteran Asianist with a deep involvement in Burmese policy, will be the senior deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Mr Obama will appoint a special negotiator for North Korea, either the existing Assistant Secretary of State, Christopher Hill, or Frank Januzzi, a well-regarded staffer for vice-president-elect Joe Biden. The significance of this appointment is that it will free up Dr Campbell to oversee Asia policy more comprehensively. Previously the assistant secretary of state has handled the North Korea negotiations. The overall quality of these appointments means the State Department will have a strong spine, with extensive Asia knowledge at the most senior levels, under Mr Obama.


Water bureaucracy doesn't know how to call a plumber

OK. Maybe their own crews were busy. But what about calling a private plumbing firm in to fix the leak?

A resident with a water leak in his driveway says he was forced to ring 000 for help after six calls to United Water were ignored and it developed into a "geyser" yesterday. United Water said its crews were kept busy dealing with burst mains at Royal Park and Richmond yesterday and another at Enfield on Saturday. But crews were too busy to attend a leak at Cudmore Ave, Toorak Gardens, where thousands of litres of water were lost.

Resident Nigel Gammon said he reported water leaking from his driveway on Friday, only to see it turn into a "geyser" by Sunday afternoon. "At 9am on Friday my neighbour came in and said there was water coming from my driveway . . . I rang United Water and the guy said someone would be out here soon to take a look at it," Mr Gammon said. "The next day, 24 hours later nothing had happened, so I rang them again . . . "We were into today, nothing had happened, and the next thing the neighbour came in again and said there's a geyser . . . we rang 000 and they were out here in two hours. "I think I've rung up six times, the people across the road have rung up, other people have rung up and no-one gives a damn."

Mr Gammon said he was frustrated at hearing about the plight of the Lower Lakes and drought-ridden rural areas of SA, only to watch water gush down the gutters. "Here in the city, we've got an opportunity to stop the loss of thousands of litres of water and no one's done anything about it – it's ludicrous."

United Water spokeswoman Edwina Chapman confirmed crews had been delayed in attending to the Cudmore Ave leak as they were diverted to other burst water mains. "Unfortunately in this situation it's a leak that's turned into a burst," Ms Chapman said. "We had a number of (other) large bursts over the weekend that we had to prioritise . . . these bursts were damaging property. "We have a limited number of crews and they attend in order of priority."


Hate-filled social workers say foster mother is too dedicated

Their own bureaucratic power obviously comes before the welfare of the children

They were the kind of children who normally end up in an institution: they could not speak or feed themselves; they had to be rolled over in their beds; they would never walk or get out of nappies. For six years, they lived in the sun-filled home of a registered nurse on the NSW central coast - and then, on December 12, with no warning, all three were removed from her care.

The foster mother, who cannot be named because it would identify the children, says she's still stunned by the reason given. According to social workers, she'd become "greedy" for as many disabled children as possible, revelling in the fact that others saw her as a "superwoman" who could take on any burden, and using the children to fend off "feelings of worthlessness". Officially, she'd become a "compulsive caregiver". "I never knew such a syndrome existed," says the woman. She says she is the victim of "revenge" by social workers with whom she'd been in dispute for many years.

The woman's career as a foster mother of severely disabled children began in 2002. She had been working as a nurse when she heard about the plight of two girls, then aged one and four, who had a mysterious syndrome that limited their development to that of eight-week-old babies. The girls' parents could not care for them - indeed, the stress of their birth helped break up their marriage - so the nurse, who was looking for a new start in life as well, agreed to take them on as foster children.

She makes no bones about the fact she saw this as her new job. "Not many people would agree to do it, but I'm a nurse so I'm not frightened of what has to be done," she says. "I feel confident. I can deal with the medication and the doctors. "I care deeply for the children, but it was also what I had decided to do with my life. I would care for them full-time."

In return, she would receive $600 per child - or $1200, tax-free - a week. By comparison, the private corporation that employs her, Life Without Barriers, receives about $6000 a child per week from the NSW Department of Community Services.

To accommodate the children's wheelchairs, the foster mother widened the hallways in her home. She installed a ground-floor spa, and rigged up trolleys and pulleys above the beds. In 2006, she applied for a third child, a boy, who is not related but has a similar syndrome. He, too, must be fed through a tube, and use nappies and a wheelchair. The three children shared a room, and the home with the foster mum and her three teenage daughters.

It was not all smooth sailing. There were disputes with Life Without Barriers, particularly over money. It's clear from documents seen by The Australian that some welfare workers believe the foster mother and her partner, who shares care of the children, are motivated by the $1800 a week, tax-free, they receive. Last October, the foster mother agreed to meet a psychologist, Toni Single, to "work out the issues" she had with Life Without Barriers. Ms Single has an interest in the syndrome known as "compulsive care-giving" and has written papers on it. She believes that some foster parents believe they are good people who want to care for children, and do not know they have a psychological problem.

Upon meeting the foster mother, Ms Single concluded that she displayed some evidence of the syndrome. In her report, she said that people with this syndrome "enjoy being involved in the drama" of having disabled children, and often "need recognition and approval of others". According to documents seen by The Australian, Ms Single's report was the "key document" used by Life Without Barriers when it decided to remove the children from the nurse's home.

She says they have also "dredged up ancient history" - the fact that she suffered from severe depression and needed medication after her 19-year marriage broke down in 2000, for example. "That was before I took in the children," she says. "I don't deny it. I had a really hard time. But to say that I'm a nutcase now ... I mean, if that were true, how did I ever get approved? "And why, in 2006, did they give me another child? "This is all to do with the fact that I was prepared to take them on, and I will not give up."

Ms Single's report says the nurse is an "attractive, intelligent and charming" woman who had provided "good physical care" for children who would otherwise be impossible to place. "The quality of care provided to date has been of a high standard," the report says. The foster mother is "committed and competent" and "committed to their wellbeing" and often places "their needs above her own". A hearing on the matter will take place on January 28.



Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Her colleague that works hand in hand with her making bogus diagnosis has been reprimanded. His name is Dr John Theodore Miller from New Lambton. Their favourite diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They use the diagnosis to take children from loving homes to boost the earning capacity of where they receive the most work; Life Without Barriers. Toni Single came under scrutiny then quit after this article was taken to parliament. Dr John Miller's notes are empty to cover up his fraud.