Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Does Australia's Green/Left REALLY believe in public transport?

An email below from a North Queensland relative of mine to Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan [] -- pointing out that the previous conservative government of Queensland did a lot more for rail transport than the present Leftist State government has done. He is appalled that the Queensland government railway system is getting out of freight transport -- the thing that railways are best at

You are trying hard to combat this terrible recession we are about to go into, so please take on board a few ideas of mine. You need to reverse the former Howard government's preference for road over rail transport, even on lines Townsville to Mt Isa, not to mention the Brisbane to Cairns main line.

I understand the Commonwealth has contributed some, but not a lot, of money on the Brisbane to Townsville line but virtually nothing on the rest of the line Townsville to Cairns.

Now I have travelled by car many many times over the years to Brisbane and have noticed an enormous improvement in the highway standard. Unfortunately this has attracted more and more monster trucks, in many cases driven by cowboys. Qld Rail, owned entirely by our state government, does not really want to provide a service for small freight users in the country - they want large customers, so do not look after the former.

In fact they have changed over to road transport for the entire Townsville to Mt Isa route - can you believe a railway using trucks? It defies belief as well as placing cars on the road at great risk. Tonight on 60 Minutes, we saw the devastating consequences of drink drivers killing innocent people - trucks cause devastation also directly and indirectly but no government federally or state seem to care.

You want to increase infrastructure spending? Then start with Qld Railways, electrify the line at least to Townsville from Rockhampton and straighten out many bends. Old Joh had a vision for this state once he was firmly established as Premier and he seemed to find the money for electrification, starting in Brisbane for the suburban network, then extending to Rockhampton. They also electrified and duplicated many of the coal lines in a short period of time, on time and under budget.

Why is it we have Labor governments in Qld who don't seem to be able to do anything - Goss appeared to have no vision and wanted everything closed in the bush; Beattie promised everything but rarely delivered and now Bligh will be a clone of Beattie. Unfortunately the LNP did not inspire any confidence that they would be any better.

Look: John Howard backed the NT line Alice Springs to Darwin. Once given the go-ahead, it was built with remarkable speed and will be a national asset in the years ahead. Unfortunately, unlike the main lines in the Eastern states such as Qld, it will always be underused.

I think the federal government should take over the NSW and Victorian rail tracks and bring them up to the Qld mainline standard to reduce the truck movements on our highways. It will prove cheaper in the long term, save lives and road trauma, slow down the wear and tear on our roads and reduce diesel consumption, all of which is imported.

Well, Wayne, are you going to do anything or just throw it in the too hard basket?

Single-sex hospital wards return in NSW

HOSPITALS are to be radically reformed in New South Wales, with single gender wards returning, under major changes to be announced by the State Government. The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Government will restructure hospitals - with some services possibly shutting - when it officially responds next Monday to the Garling inquiry, held last year into NSW hospitals. Mixed-gender wards will be wiped out where possible, with men and women returning to single-sex rooms or separate ward bays.

It follows Commissioner Peter Garling SC's disgust at men and women sharing wards when he handed down his 1100-page report last November. The move back to gender wards will cost $12 million over four years and was approved by Cabinet last night. Health Minister John Della Bosca said public hospitals needed to have greater resources to place men and women in separate rooms.

Under the new plans, elderly patients would be treated in their homes rather than in hospitals in order to alleviate pressure on the system. In his report, Mr Garling said hospitals were not a suitable environment for the elderly. "My recommendations are designed to encourage models which deliver as much care as possible in the home and not in the hospital, which is a very alienating place for older citizens," Mr Garling said. Other reforms include:

* THE sacking of doctors who repeatedly fail to wash their hands;

* BEDSIDE briefings by doctors and formal shift handovers;

* BETTER supervision of junior doctors; and

* EMERGENCY response teams within hospitals.

The Garling inquiry began a year ago and was aimed at restoring the ailing health system. The landmark 10-month investigation followed a string of mishaps and the death of teenager Vanessa Anderson. The 15-year-old died at Royal North Shore Hospital in November 2005 after being given the wrong medication for a brain injury after she was struck in the head by a golf ball.

Mr Garling's controversial report made 139 recommendations, some of them regarded as radical. At least 10 hospital emergency departments were deemed "unsafe" or unnecessary. The Government has been considering whether to endorse Mr Garling's recommendation to close Manly, Ryde, Sydney, Mt Druitt, Auburn, Camden, Bulli and Kurri Kurri's emergency departments.


Cannabis users 'suffering new syndrome'

THERE is mounting evidence to support the existence of a new syndrome afflicting heavy cannabis users, after the world's first cases were found in South Australia. The condition "cannabinoid hyperemesis" was first identified in a group of about 20 heavy drug users in the Adelaide hills in 2004, and a new case has emerged this time in the US. The syndrome is characterised by nausea, stomach pain and bouts of vomiting - ill effects which, oddly, sufferers say they get some relief from by having a hot shower or bath.

The new case, involving a 22-year-old man in Omaha, is published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology where doctors were also told to consider it when treating people with unexplained vomiting. "Given the high prevalence of chronic cannabis abuse worldwide and the paucity of reports in the literature, clinicians need to be more attentive to the clinical features of this under-recognised condition," writes Dr Siva Sontineni, and colleagues, from the Creighton University Medical Centre.

In the US case, the sufferer had been smoking marijuana daily and in heavy doses for six years. This eventually led to bouts of vomiting lasting two to three hours daily, and this was worse after meals. As with South Australian cases, the young man initially turned to "compulsive hot bathing behaviour" to relieve the symptoms but he was not cured until he gave up smoking cannabis altogether.

Adelaide-based drug expert and emergency ward doctor, Dr David Caldicott, said he had seen three cases of the illness and it was possibly also under-reported by sufferers. "We're probably seeing the tip of the iceberg in the emergency departments, it's probably far more common but far milder (in the broader community)," he said.

Little was known about how cumulative cannabis use could lead to vomiting and, particularly, why sufferers would find some relief in hot bathing, Dr Caldicott also said. "That's a distinct and unanimously recurrent feature of this condition, and we don't know why," he said. "Grown men, screaming in pain, sweating profusely, vomiting every 30 seconds and demanding to be allowed to use the shower. It's a very dramatic presentation."

Dr Caldicott said the condition had been identified in a small number of cannabis users "but in the medical community it is now considered to be a real condition".

The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, based at the University of NSW, is taking a more conservative approach. Centre director Jan Copeland said more cases would need to emerge before it could be considered a new syndrome linked to chronic cannabis use. "It is not unusual for there to be significant mental and physical health complications with this level of cannabis use," Professor Copeland said.


Crooked Victorian cop finally convicted

THE former media chief for Victoria Police has avoided jail after pleading guilty to perjury charges. Stephen Linnell, 40, was given an eight-month jail sentence, fully suspended for two years, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today after leaking sensitive information about a murder probe then lying about the leak under oath. He was also fined $5000 over the charges.

Linnell pleaded guilty to three counts of perjury and three counts of disclosing confidential information. The court previously heard Linnell leaked sensitive information about a murder probe to then assistant commissioner Noel Ashby because he saw him as a mentor and close friend.

The information related to the 2003 murder of male prostitute and alleged rapist Shane Chartres-Abbott and the probe was examining whether police were involved. Linnell then lied about leaking the information when called to give evidence under oath at an Office of Police Integrity (OPI) hearing in 2007. The court had heard Linnell was trying to "protect a mate'' and had nothing to gain personally from passing on the information. He claimed to have been manipulated by Mr Ashby in his drive to succeed Christine Nixon as chief commissioner.

Mr Ashby and former police union secretary Paul Mullett also face perjury charges and will appear at a pre-trial committal hearing in May. Both have said they will fight the charges.

Linnell quit his media director job in November 2007 and now works as a journalist at a suburban newspaper. Wearing a black pinstriped suit and white shirt, Linnell showed little emotion as magistrate Peter Couzens sentenced him. "The price you have paid both professionally and personally for your actions is the price you will continue to pay for the rest of your days,'' Mr Couzens said.

Linnell's family, including his brother Gary who is the editor of Sydney's Daily Telegraph, and other supporters took up almost two rows of the packed courtroom.


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