Saturday, April 04, 2009

ANOTHER birth in a public hospital toilet

A WOMAN gave birth to a stillborn baby in the toilets of Bankstown Hospital after being told by two doctors that she was just constipated. Health officials have confirmed that the woman, aged 21, went to the hospital unaware she was pregnant, after consulting two local general practitioners. It is the fifth serious incident to have occurred in the toilets of a NSW hospital since a miscarriage at the Royal North Shore in September 2007 prompted the State Government to open a special commission of inquiry into the health system. The Garling commission handed down its 139 recommendations just last week.

Complaining of pains in her stomach on Thursday night, the woman was taken for X-rays, a process that can be harmful for pregnant women. The results confirmed she was heavily pregnant, but the woman wandered off from the radiology section of the hospital before she was informed.

While she was in the hospital toilets, her waters broke and she gave birth to the child in a toilet bowl. It is understood the baby had a pulse and hospital staff rushed to try and resuscitate the child, but were unsuccessful.

A Sydney South West Area Health Service spokesman said the details of the events were still being investigated. "[The woman] gave birth to a baby that sadly did not survive," he said. "These are very unusual and upsetting circumstances for the patient and hospital staff. The woman is receiving ongoing support and care. "The family have requested no further details be released. This is now a matter before the coroner and it is inappropriate to comment further."

A spokesman for the Health Minister, John Della Bosca, said he was first alerted to the incident by a media report, but confirmed it would be referred to the coroner to be investigated. "[Mr Della Bosca's] very concerned about this. He has already made phone calls to make sure that woman involved gets the support she needs," the spokesman said.

The Opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, describing the incident as "horrific" and "unbelievable", said Mr Della Bosca needed to show some leadership and extend the coroner's powers. She said the incident had echoes of the Vanessa Anderson case. Her death in November 2005 highlighted systematic failings of the health system.

"A coroner looks at death, a coroner doesn't look at the system and how it has let this mother and her child down," she said. "I expect a coronial inquiry, but we also need to know what else in this whole process went wrong …" "This is more than a death, it's about a whole systemic failure to address what went wrong, and this woman has been subjected to error after error after error." It is the fourth time a woman has lost a child in a NSW hospital toilet since September 2007.


Bishops running amok

Pronouncing on matters outside their field of expertise is not confined to scientists

There used to be a time when lefties regarded the church in all its forms as an enemy of freedom. In some of the bigger civil upheavals of the past century, Spain in the 1930s, France and Mexico in the late '60s, left-wing activists went so far as to physically attack the clergy. Today, the Left is more at risk of being rendered obsolete by the churches, which conspired this week to ensure that as the Group of 20 summit got under way in London, God should crash the party.

The God we saw in London this week was a much more supreme version of the supreme being most of us know. Not the kindly old white-bearded guy but an activist and thinker, a can-do, Keynesian God who believes that governments must play an interventionist role in the event of market failure. A God who regards climate change as the greatest moral challenge facing our generation, to quote St Kevin of Nambour, and wants us all to sign up to an emissions trading scheme.

Ahead of the G20 meeting most people would have assumed that the biggest lunatics would be the ones out on the street trying to set fire to Burger King, Laura Ashley and other examples of capitalism at its most sinister. But the anarcho-syndicalists and deep ecologists were out-weirded hands-down by the clergy.

In welcoming our Prime Minister to St Paul's Cathedral, Bishop of London Richard Chartres added a new ritual to the liturgy: not the jangling of the incense but the blowing of smoke up the arse. "It would not be too strong to say the election of Kevin Rudd constituted something of an Obama moment for that country," he said.

It's hard to fathom how the vicar drew such a parallel, although it should be remembered that this is the same bloke who wrote in The Times about the liberating powers of being retrenched and how "getting off the treadmill" can be good for the soul.

In fairness, it may have been the similarities between Rudd and Barack Obama's victory speeches that confused him. You'd remember Rudd saying: "We have put before the Australian people a plan, it's our agenda for work, and you know something? Everything I have said through this election campaign and in the year leading up to it is our agenda for work", in much the same way that Obama said: "Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope."

The Bishop of London was just the warm-up act. The star of the show was our very own George Browning, the former bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, who tastefully decided that a service in memory of the 173 people who died in the Victorian bushfires was the ideal spot for a free lecture on climate change. "We dare not contemplate a future without learning the lessons this experience has taught us," he said.

Browning didn't expand on the carbon footprint caused by the mileage of his Canberra-Sydney-Singapore-London-Singapore-Sydney-Canberra homily, as he was too busy making mileage out of our greatest natural disaster. It was audacity in the highest to deign to speak for the families of the dead, many of whom would not blame the disaster on climate change at all. Some of them might argue that it was more the result of staunch climate change adherents in local government who prevented land and home owners from cutting down trees.

Taste aside, the more fundamental point is whether a clergyman who makes a living talking fantasy has any standing to hold forth on the most complicated scientific question of our time. During the past year that great empiricist George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has written several columns saying he's yet to be convinced by the science on climate change. Now we have the likes of Browning at the other end of the spectrum. Both men also believe that it's possible to come back from the dead.

Maybe I should get the Bible out and have another flick-through, but I'm struggling to remember the passage about climate change, either for or against, unless it's referred to obliquely in Revelation along with that stuff about the seven-horned beast that will arrive shortly before The Rapture. I can't recall the section on financial regulation or monetary policy either, a problem not shared by the 32-member delegation of vicars, mullahs, rabbis and other holy men whose G20 communique just may solve the global financial crisis.

It went beyond the generic and vaguely admirable anti-greed stuff that underpins allreligions and instead offered precise suggestions to "restore that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity and the moral equivalent to safeguard human dignity". Sounds like God's backing the bailout, then. Maybe Kev sent him a $900 cheque, too; if dead people and prisoners got them, there's no reason deities should miss out.

A day ahead of the communique, the Pope upped the ante by urging Gordon Brown to embrace an ethical financial system and to ensure that developed nations did not wind back on their aid budgets as a proportion of gross domestic product, "especially for Africa and for less developed countries elsewhere". It was the Pope's first bit of assistance to Africa since his helpful observation to its vastly uneducated, highly religious poor last month that condoms only make AIDS worse, a bit like the old Methodist warning that sex should be avoided as it can lead to dancing.


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's short fuse trigger exodus of personal staff

Mark Latham, Rudd's Labor party predecessor, was an even bigger bully. But it should be no surprise that Leftist "compassion" is a false front.

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd's short fuse and unreasonable demands have triggered an exodus of personal staff and a backlash from public servants. His staff turnover is about to reach 16, or one a month since winning office, with the latest casualty being $78,000-a-year ex-butler John Fisher, dubbed "Jeeves" by the Opposition, The Daily Telegraph reports. "Jeeves" will join a range of advisers, secretaries and assistants to leave the turbulent PM's office.

Mr Rudd's bully-boy style has come under close scrutiny after it was revealed he had reduced a young RAAF cabin attendant to tears during a VIP flight when she was unable to produce the right meal.

Labor staffers - even those who have left the PM's office - are reluctant to speak out about their boss. But some are privately critical of Mr Rudd's management style. "He never gives positive feedback and gets angry very easily," said one.

A former senior Rudd staffer described his old boss as intolerant and socially dysfunctional. He said Mr Rudd was unable to deal with situations such as catering and usually left those matters for others to handle.

Senior public servants have also become frustrated at the unrelenting demands of the workaholic PM, who thinks nothing of calling them at night.

Mr Fisher, whose role as butler caused embarrassment to the PM, is expected to leave after Easter. He has moved on from his role as travelling assistant, where his job was to lay out Mr Rudd's suits. Other staff to recently depart include Virginia Dale, a long-term Labor adviser, and Gary Quinlan, who will soon become our new ambassador to the UN.

Mr Rudd's spin doctor Lachlan Harris also has been criticised from Labor MPs who say they've received sprays. Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull turned up the heat after revelations Mr Harris had tried to cover up the jet incident. "You get the feeling with the Rudd Government that they only tell you the truth when they've been found out," he said.


Laurie Oakes has more background on the matter. There is a chronically inept defence force bureaucracy (surprise! surprise!) involved too. But that is of course no excuse for abusing an entirely innocent young woman.

Principals Australia calls for job preparation -- in pre-school!

Does the nonsense from "educators" ever stop? It's true that little kids do have career thoughts. Most little boys that I have known have wanted to be firemen or policemen when they grew up but I know none who grew up to be so. The Archbishop of Westminster wanted to be a truck driver when he was a boy.

THE head of Principals Australia believes toddlers in daycare should be given early career counselling to help them work out what they want to be when they grow up.

Kate Castine, who runs the Principals Australia career education project on behalf of the federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, is calling for "career development concepts" to be included in the new national curriculum, according to a report in The Australian. The call was immediately rejected as "crazy stuff" by a leading childcare operator, while the state and territory children's commissioners warned against pushing academic-based teaching on children still in nappies.

But Ms Castine said research showed students as young as six could identify what they wanted to do when they grew up. "The argument that children should be exposed to career development concepts at an early age has been endorsed by current worldwide research," she wrote in comments posted on the department's official online forum, seeking feedback on the latest draft of the "early-learning framework". "Reference to career development competencies needs to be explicit so teachers understand its importance."

Ms Castine said her concern was that little children rarely think beyond what their parents and relatives do for a living. "They identify very, very limited careers, usually associated with their family," she told The Weekend Australian. "That makes quite good sense but what needs to happen is that children who are very young need to identify there's a whole range of possible careers ... and not just what they see at home."

Queensland's biggest childcare chain, the community-based C&K, yesterday rejected the kids' careers counselling as "crazy stuff". "What about letting children be children?" said C&K's chief executive Barrie Elvish. "It's bad enough that kids in years 11 and 12 have to choose a career. How on earth can you get a four-year-old to think about what they'll be doing in 20 years' time?"


Indian students boost Australia's export economy

VASHA Vankadesh is the new face of Australia's export economy. As part of an exploding diaspora of young Indians now studying in Australia, she contributes more than $30,000 a year to the domestic economy as she ploughs her way through an engineering degree at the Australian National University in Canberra. But Vasha's investment in Australia is unlikely to end there.

The 18-year-old from Chennai, in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, was one of the 96,739 Indian enrolments in Australian higher education and vocational training courses last year, a massive 54 per cent increase on the almost 63,000 Indian enrolments in 2007 and up from just 11,313 in 2002.

With India projected to be the fifth-largest consumer market by 2025, Australian-trained Indian graduates and skilled workers represent a future trade and investment bonanza as they return home to jobs in the business and government sector.

Australia's now well-established business links with Southeast Asia can be traced back to the 1950s, 60s and 70s when many students from that region studied in Australia.

"You're now seeing the beginnings of that sort of relationship between India and Australia," Australia's High Commissioner to India, John McCarthy, said yesterday.

Indian students now make up almost 18 per cent of Australia's total foreign student population, the second largest group after China, which represents 23.5 per cent of the total foreign student body. Foreign students are now Australia's third-largest export income earner, behind coal and iron ore, contributing $14.1 billion in direct income and an additional $12.6 billion in value-added goods and services, a new Access Economic report has found.

Vasha says she chose Australia over Britain and the US because it was closer to home and cheaper. "I was quite nervous, but since a large number of (Indian) students are now in Australia they're really helpful to new students," she said. She plans to return to India at the end of her four-year degree.


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