Thursday, February 26, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is upset that thousands more Australian jobs have been lost and production moved to China

A great French ship visits Sydney

The Queen Mary 2 was built in the Alstom Chantiers de L'Atlantique shipyard in Sainte-Nazaire, France.

Details of the visit here

Australian economy unexpectedly strong

Thanks to business

Economists say the Australian economy may have escaped a quarter of negative growth after figures showed a surge in capital expenditure to almost $25 billion. Most economists had been expecting spending on buildings and equipment to fall in the December quarter, but today's official figures show a 6 per cent increase compared to the previous three months. It comes after figures yesterday revealed a stronger-than forecast performance in the construction sector.

CommSec had been forecasting that economic growth was flat in the quarter. But CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says it is now predicting the economy expanded by 0.5 per cent. "There's no doubt that the global economy remains on its knees, but what we're really seeing is that the business sector's really driving growth in Australia," he said. "Rather than making any knee-jerk responses and cutting spending, it's the business sector that is actually increasing investment plans."


Cops kill black with pepper spray

If there were four of them holding him down, why did they need to spray him at all?

A man died shortly after being held on the ground by four police and sprayed with capsicum spray, an inquest heard yesterday. Coroner Greg Cavanagh was told the man's friends warned police not to spray him as he suffered from asthma. The man - who cannot be named for cultural reasons - was taken from the Palmerston home where the incident happened on January 1, 2008, to Royal Darwin Hospital but died later that night.

Eyewitness Simon Pascoe told the coronial inquest that people at the house had told police to let the man go and be careful because he had asthma. "Every time we tried to warn them, they said: 'Don't come any closer or we're going to use our spray on you'," he said.

The inquest heard there had been an argument over "grog" at the house, and a woman had called the police and told officers that the man needed to go to the sobering-up centre. An autopsy found he only had a blood alcohol concentration of .035 per cent. [legal to drive]

The inquest into the man's death will run concurrently with an inquest into the death of Alice Springs filmmaker Bob Plasto. He was arrested and ground-stabilised in Darwin on December 22, 2007 after staff at the Cavanagh Hotel called police when he was behaving irrationally. Police took him to Royal Darwin Hospital for a mental health assessment - but not until after he waited in a caged police car at the Darwin watch house for a shift change. He was pulled to the ground by police officers at the hospital and kept in custody while he was in hospital for several days before he died.


Queensland's rogue "Health" department again

Appalling bureaucratic indifference to the suffering of one of their own staff. Some hard old bitch at the top didn't care that a young nurse had been raped by a crazed black

QUEENSLAND Health officers acted inappropriately and insensitively when notified of a nurse being sexually assaulted on Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait last year, a report has found. The damning report found members of the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Health Service District executive failed to manage the repatriation of the remote area nurse from the island in line with the seriousness of what had occurred. The nurse has welcomed the findings, saying she was keen to see system failures fixed so no other staff member was hurt. The morning after the attack last February, the nurse was allegedly told by superiors to forget about the incident and return to work. Her boyfriend chartered an aircraft to take her to safety.

A Queensland Health ethical standards unit investigation found "substantial evidence" of a systemic failure of the district executive to acknowledge and address workplace safety issues over a long period. QH director-general Mick Reid, who received the report on Monday, said last night the department accepted the investigation had found serious faults in the way staff had responded to the incident. The health service district CEO Cindy Morseu has been stood aside on pay over the investigation's finding, effective immediately. "It's not an easy thing to step someone aside. It's done with a lot of pain," Mr Reid said. "But the allegations are so significant and the findings are so clear that it would have been inappropriate of me not to take action."

Mr Reid said the Crime and Misconduct Commission had reviewed the report by the Ethical Standards Unit and was satisfied with the investigation. The report's findings were released on the Queensland Health website last night after a news conference planned for mid-afternoon was called off. Premier Anna Bligh, enduring a tough start to her campaign, had earlier told journalists she was unaware when the report was due to be released.

The issue erupted in State Parliament last year when the Opposition accused Health Minister Stephen Robertson of tabling a sanitised version of a security audit carried out 16 months before the attack. Although the report found alterations to a draft risk assessment did occur, the investigation found there was no external influence on the report's authors to doctor the document.

The Health Minister was briefed on the report's findings earlier this week.

Mr Reid said the partner of the woman concerned had also been advised about the report's findings. "I've offered him and her a full briefing regarding the findings," he said. They had not yet decided whether to take him up on that offer."

Queensland Nurses Union assistant secretary Elizabeth Mole told ABC Radio this morning the woman was keen to see system failures fixed so no other staff member was hurt. ``She's holding up okay,'' Ms Mole said. ``She actully welcomes the findings ... with some disbelief that this one component of the whole sorry saga has been concluded. She certainly feels that its good to have some closure on one component but she's got a long way to go.'' Ms Mole said the nurse was receiving workers' compensation but had not yet decided her future in the profession or with Queensland Health. ``She really is an amazing woman. She actually said she wants to make sure the systemic failures are fixed, she doesn't want to see this happen again. ``She's not interested in retribution.''

Ms Mole said members conceded it was challenging to provide health services in the Torres Strait Islands, but strong systems had to be put in place to ensure health workers' safety.


The public hospital lottery: Emergency patient ignored in one public hospital but treated well in another

An elderly woman was left untreated in Caboolture Hospital's emergency department for four hours despite having lost the use of a hand and a leg. She was later taken to another hospital for attention.

The case is one of two this month which have thrown doubt on the department's ability to provide timely treatment. The other involved a 10-year-old boy who had to wait six hours for a head wound to be stitched.

Helen Tansley said her 81-year-old mother, who did not want to be named, was lucky to be alive despite the lack of treatment for what turned out to be a blocked left femoral artery. ``Mum said no one spoke to her at all ... so it was difficult to understand how her level of emergency was determined,'' Mrs Tansley said of the February 7 incident.

Health officials have admitted the hospital was put on bypass four times in February. The hospital was on bypass on Tuesday afternoon, with some ambulances diverted to Redcliffe Hospital.

Caboolture Hospital executive director Caroline Weaver said patients were assessed by a triage nurse shortly after arrival, which was the case with Mrs Tansley's mother. Mrs Weaver said the emergency department was at capacity when she arrived.

Eventually the woman's husband took her home to Morayfield and called a doctor who arranged an ambulance to take her to Redcliffe Hospital, Mrs Tansley said. ``Treatment at Redcliffe in all aspects was fabulous,'' she said. This was in contrast to Caboolture, where she said staff were hostile and uncaring. ``We were appalled at the total neglect and the dreadful attitude and manner of all staff we encountered,'' Mrs Tansley said.

Mrs Weaver apologised. ``Sometimes during periods of intense activity the staff may appear rushed, and this is not meant as uncaring or disrespectful,'' she said.

In the other incident, an ambulance crew was taken off the road for three hours on February 10 to look after a boy waiting to be treated for a head injury. Mrs Weaver said that during busy periods, ambulance officers stayed with patients until a bed was available.

In the three months to December, Caboolture Hospital treated 14,069 people as inpatients or emergencies, a 14.6percent increase from the same period in 2007


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