Saturday, January 24, 2009

Greenie people-haters at it again -- Australia "Full up"

Very strange ideas in a mostly empty country. Most people who live in Manhattan wouldn't live anywhere else but it has at least 100 times the population-density of Australia

Prominent Australians have thrown their support behind a controversial new book which argues that population growth is the biggest threat to environmental sustainability in this country. In a provocative attack on water conservation schemes, such as Melbourne's Target 155, the book Overloading Australia urges Australians to ignore water conservation, forcing politicians to rethink population and immigration policy.

Focusing on perhaps the most taboo aspect of environmental debate, authors Mark O'Connor and William Lines have argued that pro-immigration and "baby bonus" policies are at odds with plans to reduce carbon emissions and secure water supplies. "The task of simultaneously increasing population and achieving sustainability is impossible," the book argues. Predicting Australian cities will suffer more congestion, pollution, loss of biodiversity and diminished services, the authors argue there is no point conserving water "until we get restraint in population".

O'Connor said his background was largely in poetry, yet despite his lack of conventional expertise in demography and population studies, his book has struck a chord with prominent Australians and increasingly echoes the views of leading environmentalists. Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr has agreed to launch the book next week, and has lauded O'Connor's previous books about the perils of unchecked population growth. The Australian Conservation Foundation has also called for a "substantial reduction" in the nation's skilled migration program in this year's budget. In its budget submission, the foundation said Australia's population needed to be stabilised at "an ecologically sustainable level". "Population increase makes it harder for Australia to reduce carbon pollution levels and is placing immense stress on state and regional planning, infrastructure and ecological systems."

The comments will resonate with the Brumby Government [of Vivtoria], which has presided over an increase in total emissions in recent years, despite improvements in emissions on a per capita basis. Monash University population expert Dr Bob Birrell, who has read Overloading Australia, said despite the global nature of the emissions problem, national borders still mattered because people tended to adopt the typical emissions profile of the nation they lived in. "When you add an extra million in a society like ours you are imposing a very considerable additional burden, there is no way of escaping it, and that's the key to understanding why the population issue is so serious in Australia; we live very high on the hog," he said.

Australia will welcome a maximum of 203,500 new migrants this financial year, with skilled migration accounting for 133,500 of those places, and refugees just 13,500. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the Rudd Government had started developing a longer-term migration plan that would consider "net overseas migration rates and the impact of demographic changes".

Victoria has swelled by about 1500 people a week in recent years, a rate that Premier John Brumby has described as "about as fast as we want to go".


New Pill 'eases women's pain'

A NEW contraceptive pill is set to revolutionise the lives of two million Australian women after a landmark clinical trial being launched in Sydney. Doctors are hoping the new type of pill will bring relief to women who suffer debilitating pain and discomfort each month. It comes as researchers believe women on the Pill suffer "hormone withdrawals" when they stop taking it during the seven-day break. Causing addiction-like reactions, women suffer pelvic pain, headaches, mood swings and breast soreness.

The Royal Hospital for Women at Randwick is recruiting women to take part in a worldwide trial for the new pill. Sexual health physician Terri Foran said the new pill would change the way women take the Pill in Australia. "There is no reason why women have to have a seven-day pill-free interval," Dr Foran said. "A lot of women suffer these symptoms and believe they are normal or its PMT, but they don't have to (suffer). "We believe it will work but before we put our hand on our heart and declare that, we have to test its effectiveness."

At least 70 per cent of all women who take the Pill suffer symptoms that can be mistaken for premenstrual tension. The new pill shortens the hormone-free interval from seven to two days and aims to end the withdrawals. Introduced in 1961, the contraceptive uses a combination of oestrogen and progestogen. Dr Foran said that by reducing the pill-free interval to two days, the body would not have enough time to experience the "withdrawals". "The difference with this pill to others on the market is that it alters the amount of hormone given and alters when it is given in the cycle," she said. "There is a suggestion that if you can manipulate that pill-free week, you might be able to lessen the symptoms. "The shortened break might well mean they don't get the symptoms."

More than two million Australian women take the Pill, making it the most common form of contraception. Unlike other types on the market that aim to reduce the symptoms, this new pill contains a natural form of oestrogen, estradiol, which could hold the key to ending the monthly suffering. Dr Foran yesterday urged women who suffer from withdrawal symptoms to take part in the trial. At least 880 women are needed worldwide to be part of the six month trial.


Federal conservatives compromise on climate policy

THE Federal Coalition is moving beyond denial into a new era with the release of its climate change policy, a key environmental research group says. Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull today unveiled a three-stage climate change policy which aims to achieve annual reductions of carbon pollution of equivalent of at least 150 million tonnes by 2020. The Coalition's Green Carbon Initiative would offset greenhouse gases by biosequestration capturing and storing large quantities of carbon in soil and vegetation. Mr Turnbull said the plan also would include measures to encourage improved energy efficiency in buildings where he says 23 per cent of greenhouse gases originate. A third element of the Coalition's plan is to increase investment in new technologies such as clean coal.

The Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the policy initiatives on green carbon, soil carbon and forests were important. "The key things really are to welcome a coalition that is moving beyond denial and delay," he said. "We still need to see the detail but he has some important new ideas and some important new energy into the things which need to be addressed, like energy efficiency and clean energy technologies in which the government said it's been planning to do things, but has not yet come forward. "Most importantly this is a recognition we will need stronger targets than the government is talking about. "We need to move beyond a mining based economy into the new economy of the 21st century."

Mr Connor said the policy has Mr Turnbull joining other conservative leaders across the world who recognised taking action on climate change was good risk management and insurance and could lead to economic benefits. He said it was an important step for the climate change debate in Australia. "It's a very important moment in Australian political history," he said. "It will be fascinating to see how its received."

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong dismissed the policy as short on hard facts and costings. Senator Wong said Mr Turnbull's speech to the Young Liberals convention was designed to distract attention from the Liberal Party's own internal divisions over the issue. "This is the speech you make when you don't want to tackle the issue of climate change in a real way," Senator Wong told reporters in Adelaide. "This is the speech you make when you're a leader who can't control your own party and climate change deniers stand behind you." Senator Wong said the coalition had failed to release any hard data on how it would reduce carbon emissions. "The reality is tackling climate change is not easy, it is a hard economic challenge," Senator Wong said.

The Greens welcomed the Coalition's climate change policy, but said it still protected the big polluters. Greens senator Christine Milne said that while the announcement sidelined the Coalition's climate change sceptics and was an improvement on the Government's narrowly focused scheme, it still fell short. "Malcolm Turnbull is trying to make himself out as a 'green' conservative like the UK's (Tory leader) David Cameron, but scratch below the surface and you see Howard's coal-black Liberals of old," Senator Milne said. She said the coalition's new policy lacked detail and still protected the biggest polluters, the coal, logging and "energy-hungry polluters".

The Government is expected to introduce legislation soon for its proposed emissions trading scheme due to start in 2010, which targets a cut in carbon emissions of between five and 15 per cent by 2020.


Victorian Nurses Board approves 103 registrations of criminal nurses

As usual, your regulators will protect you

NURSES guilty of manslaughter, sex offences, arson and torturing animals have been allowed to care for the sick and vulnerable in Victoria. In the past three years the Nurses Board approved registration of 103 nurses who had admitted being found guilty of crimes such as theft, stalking, drug trafficking, possessing child pornography and manslaughter. The board cancelled registration of two nurses because of their criminal pasts, while the results on another three nurses are unclear, the Herald Sun reports.

Patient advocates and the Opposition want an immediate investigation of registration of some nurses, as well as the process, in light of documents obtained by the Herald Sun through Freedom of Information requests.

But the Nurses Board says it is not concerned that at least 103 of Victoria's 86,000 registered nurses have serious criminal records. Its says its investigation processes ensure public safety. In 2006 it became mandatory for nurses to disclose their crimes when renewing their registration each year. Since then the board has been told of:

A NURSE convicted of manslaughter in 1994 whom it re-registered.

THREE nurses guilty of indecent assault who had their registration renewed.

TWO nurses guilty of cruelty to animals.

THREE nurses guilty of recklessly causing serious injury and others who committed serious assault, common assault, unlawful assault, intentionally causing serious injury and negligently causing serious injury.

TWO nurses convicted of stalking.

A NURSE caught with a drug of dependence and taking it into a prison in 2005.

A HOST of theft, fraud and social security offences.

In one instance the board renewed a nurse's registration despite being aware of 19 convictions for arson. Some offences date back many years, but all were disclosed to the board after 2006.

Medical Error Action Group spokeswoman Lorraine Long accused the state's medical authorities of placing the interests of nurses above those of their patients. "The Nurses Board is looking at the rights of nurses, but the patients are part of this equation and where are their rights? Who is protecting them?" she said.

Health Services Commissioner Beth Wilson said she had not urged an investigation because the new disclosure requirements may lead to better processes. "When you get a whole lot of disclosures all at once like this you can't possibly investigate them all, particularly when some of them go back to the 1980s . . . What is more important is the nurse's record. Have they been a good nurse and are they well supervised? "It might be that sometimes people who make mistakes in their life could actually be better nurses."

Opposition health spokeswoman Helen Shardey demanded the board investigate the most serious offences.


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