Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is worried about the future for highly-skilled employment in Australia

A new Hitler Jugend?

OK. That heading is a bit unfair. I think Kevvy is a bit misguided but I don't think he is a bad man at all. It is however entirely in keeping that a Leftist would have a scheme to organize the nation's youth into some form of government-run youth organization. There was the Hitler Jugend, Stalin's Komsomol, Putin's "Nashi" and Obama also has proposed something of the sort. Kevvy's version, however, seems reasonable enough, though undoubtably socialistic (government-run)

Kevin Rudd wants to recruit an army of young volunteers to help the elderly, feed the homeless, and clean up the environment. In exchange for giving up their time, members of the new Community Corps would get discounts on their university HECS debts. The proposal could attract tens of thousands of volunteers from the 1.3 million Australians with a higher education debt. The average ex-student has a $12,000 HECS debt, which typically takes more than seven years to pay off. The scheme could wipe out students' debts as they accumulate hours of community service, the Herald Sun reports.

The plan, backed by top business minds and embraced by community and welfare groups, emerged from the Prime Minister's 2020 summit. The Government is expected to adopt it within days when it releases its final 2020 summit report.

Mr Rudd, who has pleaded for Australians to pull together to beat the rapidly worsening economic downturn, has described the idea as "a very practical trade". Corps members could deliver meals on wheels, youth and Aboriginal services, become volunteer firefighters, or assist the disabled and elderly. Landcare and water projects could also benefit. It is understood the Corps would operate within Australia, unlike the US Peace Corps, which works on projects across the globe.

The plan is believed to be one of about six big ideas from the 2020 summit to get the green light. After the summit, Mr Rudd said: "We need more volunteering in the community, and students are emerging from university with a whole lot of debt. "The idea . . . where young people would go out and provide voluntary service in the community in exchange for reducing their HECS debt . . . is one we want to consider."

Brotherhood of St Lawrence chief executive Tony Nicholson said there would be plenty for Community Corps members to do. "It could range from assisting with recreational programs to driving a community bus, to assisting disadvantaged people get to the doctor or do their shopping," he said. Mr Nicholson said those with special skills, such as IT graduates, would be particularly useful.

When the idea was floated at the summit, the architect of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme, Prof Bruce Chapman, said it would appeal to wealthier students. Poorer students, he said, would probably prefer to enter the paid workforce.


It's happened again! Tiny baby found alone, abandoned and screaming in a closed childcare centre

This is gross negligence on the part of staff. I have always said that the only place for little children is in a loving home but this just reinforces that

A woman broke the window of a Darwin childcare centre with a brick when she arrived to find the building locked, the lights out and her tiny son trapped inside. Yula Williams, 30, said she could hear her eight-month-old baby Xavier "screaming and crying". "It made me terrified to know that my son was inside the centre, locked and in the dark," she said.

Ms Williams had dropped her son off at the centre in the Darwin suburb of Wagaman around 8am (CST) on Tuesday and went to work. She had dropped her car off at a local mechanic and arranged for one of her cousins to collect her son from the centre before it closed at 6pm (CST). But when she arrived home later that night her son was not at the house. "It was just a mother's instinct that I went back to the childcare centre and looked around," she said.

Ms Williams arrived at the centre shortly before 6pm but staff had already left the building. After scanning all the the security screens the frantic mother climbed the back of the building to call Xavier's name through elevated slats. "I couldn't hear him from the outside but when I walked around and called through the vents to the bedrooms I heard him scream," she told ABC radio in Darwin. Desperate to get to her tiny son, Ms Williams then picked up a brick from the garden bed and smashed it through a window. Police arrived at the scene about 7.30pm (CST) after they were called by one of the mother's relatives, who told them a baby was missing.

St John Ambulance officers also attended the centre to ensure the child was in good health. They gave Xavier the all-clear.

Ms Williams said that while she could understand the misunderstanding with her relative over the pickup arrangements, she could not understand how the centre had not called her to let her know that no-one had come to collect her son. Police said they were continuing to conduct investigations into the incident.


More photography madness

"Bordering on the absurd" understates it

A Perth library has declined to display an inoffensive photograph of two toddlers because of fears of a post-Henson backlash. Earlier this month, photographer Nicole Boenig McGrade submitted her picture, Kids in Suburbia, for an exhibition. Concerned that the photo might prompt complaints, the exhibition organiser suggested it be left out and Boenig McGrade agreed. The photographer declined to name the venue yesterday, but The Australian has since confirmed it is the Subiaco Library.

"They're just being cautious and I can understand that because no one wants to be put in a position where they might cause other people to be upset," said Boenig McGrade. But she said she was shocked to think her photo of two children playing on the footpath outside their WA home might be considered offensive. "This is an image of Australian lifestyle -- this is who we are. Children are part of our history and that's how I see my photographs," she said.

The photo, taken in 2006, shows an 18-month-old boy and his three-year-old sister, both with their shirts off. Their parents asked Boenig McGrade, a mother of two, to take the image, and they attended the photo session.

Library manager Colleen Harris is on leave and unavailable for comment, but it is understood that she was also concerned about the Australia Council's new protocols for artists working with children, released on January 1. The protocols, introduced after last year's national furore over Bill Henson's photographs of naked children, do not apply to Boenig McGrade because she receives no government funding.

Executive director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, Tamara Winikoff, said yesterday the council protocols would hinder artistic freedom. "Because of justified anxiety over the protection of children, what we're seeing here is a complete overreaction which is bordering on the absurd now," she said.

Australia Council chief executive Kathy Keele last night defended the guidelines. "I certainly hope -- and it's been our intention all along -- that this does not exclude children from our arts body of work in Australia," she said. "But we will all have to work hard to interpret what's in front of us, and talk about what it means." [More talk is not what is needed. The deficit is of realism and commonsense]


University Dismisses Climate Change Sceptic

It is common for Australian academics to publicly express an opinion on climate change including in our newspapers; think Tim Flannery, Ian Lowe and more recently Barry Brook. A couple of weeks ago Jon Jenkins, an Adjunct Professor at Bond University, had an opinion piece published by The Australian newspaper. The piece was critical of the accepted dogma on anthropogenic global warming with a focus on how global temperatures are recorded and ended with a comment on sustainable development:
"Science is only about certainty and facts. The real question is in acknowledging the end of fossil fuels within the next 200 years or so: how do we spend our research time and dollars? Do we spend it on ideologically green-inspired publicity campaigns such as emissions-trading schemes based on the fraud of the IPCC, or do we spend it on basic science that could lead us to energy self-sufficiency based on some combination of solar, geothermal, nuclear and renewable sources? The alternative is to go back to the stone age."

Interestingly Bond University has a new name for its business and IT faculties, The Faculty of Business, Technology & Sustainable Development, but apparently didn't like Professor Jenkins' very public opinion on the subject of sustainable development. For his opinion, Professor Jenkins received an official reprimand from the Bond University Registrar and then was informed last Friday that his adjunct status had been revoked. No doubt he has contravened some rule or other at the University and no doubt this would have gone unnoticed if Professor Jenkins had a more popular opinion on these most politically charged subjects.



Three articles below

Another deadbeat public hospital in NSW

Outstanding bills which have seen a security firm threaten to withdraw its services from a rural NSW hospital will be paid within 24 hours, the state government says. Health Minister John Della Bosca said he had spoken to Greater Western Area Heath Service (GWAHS) chief executive Dr Claire Blizzard, who gave an assurance the bills would be paid imminently.

Heartland Security threatened to halt work at Parkes Hospital if the bills were not paid by today. The firm also has complained about a string of late payments by the health service last year.

"I've been advised by the GWAHS by Dr Blizzard ... that she will be paying within 24 hours the outstanding account to the security firm involved," Mr Della Bosca told reporters in Sydney.

The work performed by the security personnel includes escorting nurses to their cars at the end of a night shift, to offer protection against possibly violent patients. Mr Della Bosca said there were three outstanding bills from the security firm, and only one from November was outside the new benchmark of 43 days in which a bill should be paid. But the latest case of late-payment also follows reports of staff at Mudgee Hospital using petty cash to buy sausages after a butcher refused to supply further meat, and a cancellation of surgery at Orange Base Hospital when it ran out of syringes.

Mr Della Bosca said the outstanding accounts at the GWAHS totalled $60 million when he took on the health portfolio, and they now stood at $23 million. "It has more than halved in four months so that is a very good trend line,'' he said. "I expect that to continue. I expect the GWAHS will achieve the benchmarks that we require for payment of local businesses and suppliers.''


NSW Premier 'too busy' to deal with failing hospitals

Easy interpretation: His brain is so constipated with failed Leftist ideas that he hasn't got a clue what to do

Doctors at Dubbo Base Hospital have not been paid for weeks, nurses at Orange are using their own money to buy batteries for heart monitors and cake trays to dispense pills, and students in Mudgee have bought beds for the emergency department as more reports of the state's credit meltdown come to light. But a spokesman for Nathan Rees said yesterday the Premier was "too busy with other things" to deal with the issue. The Director-General of NSW Health, Debora Picone, refused to comment, saying the Greater Western Area Health Service "managed itself".

The area health service, which covers 56 per cent of the state, is in crisis after more reports that creditors are waiting up to six months to get paid, deliveries of food and medical supplies to hospitals have been cancelled and vital maintenance work, such as fixing blocked pipes and faulty lifts, is not being carried out.

About 12 creditors came forward yesterday, including one owed more than $16,000 for delivering fruit to remote hospitals and a nurse who was angry that several wards at Orange Base Hospital had been without paper towels, vital for infection control, for several weeks because unpaid suppliers had stopped deliveries

Their claims came after the Herald reported a Parkes security firm was threatening to withdraw its services if its $6000 bill was not settled within 24 hours. Its owner, Lindsay Harvey, said he was told yesterday his money would be in his bank account by this morning. Steve Miller, the owner of Country Fruit Distributors in Dubbo, owed $14,000 for three months, was also paid about $7000 yesterday after complaining to the Herald.

The chief executive of the Greater Western Area Health Service, Claire Blizard, said it was "clearly unacceptable that some creditors are facing these delays". "We have made progress in relation to the payment of creditors and in the past couple of months we have made a 50 per cent reduction in creditors owed money. This is not a problem that can be fixed overnight," she said.

Students from Mudgee High School ran car washes, charity balls and raffles to raise $20,000 for emergency department beds last year. "It's a bit of a shame really that in a country like ours, as rich as ours, that our Government's health system has to rely upon local community donations to keep the hospital running," the former school captain, Hannah Kempton, said. Three emergency trolleys were bought by the hospital's auxiliary last week after it raised more than $15,000 in raffles, while a football team paid for carpet in the maternity ward. "It would be nice if we didn't have to buy these things, but we do," the president of the auxiliary, Glenys Goodfellow, said.

The Opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said it was unacceptable. "If people don't pay their speeding fines or taxes on time, then they get taken to court or there's some penalty. Why should the . Government think it's the exception?"


The hugely bureaucratized Queensland Health are such unpleasant people to work for that they have to employ any scum to fill the gaps that their bloodymindedness creates in their workforce

A Pakistan-trained doctor will face a tribunal after allegedly performing an unnecessary vaginal examination on a patient. The Queensland Medical Board referred Naseem Ashraf to the Health Practitioners Tribunal earlier this month, claiming he had engaged in "unsatisfactory professional conduct" that may require disciplinary action.

Ashraf, who is no longer registered as a doctor in Queensland, was working as a senior medical officer and anaesthetist at Mount Isa Base Hospital in October 2004 when the misconduct allegedly took place. It is alleged Ashraf performed an intra-vaginal examination on a woman who had visited him for a pre-anaesthetic consultation. The woman was due to undergo surgery one week later to remove abnormal cells detected during a routine pap smear.

According to a referral notice filed by the Queensland Medical Board in the Brisbane District Court, the vaginal examination was not required for a pre-anaesthetic assessment. The board also is claiming Ashraf did not gain the woman's consent before conducting the examination, or keep adequate medical records. Ashraf will face the tribunal at a later date.


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