Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another episode in the NSW police goon saga

A British cop who did something very similar got several years in jail. Any hope of that here? You'd be joking!

A YOUNG woman is fighting for her life in hospital after being struck down by a police car on Friday night, sparking a brawl between her friends and officers on the streets of Sydney. Carmela Pronesti, 20, was celebrating at an 18th-birthday party at the Mykonos Restaurant in Parramatta when she was hit by the marked police car outside the venue. Some witnesses claim the vehicle had its warning lights on but no siren.

Ms Pronesti's friend, James Pike told The Sunday Telegraph the police car seemed to appear out of nowhere. "She walked out on to the road, we said 'stop', then the cop car came flying through and hit her," he said.

Friend Murray Reilly said Ms Pronesti's boyfriend and police at the scene became embroiled in an altercation. "We just ran in to see if she was OK," he said. "She was lying on the road; she wasn't moving."

More than 12 police cars arrived as plain-clothed officers and uniformed police were confronted by Ms Pronesti's friends. A sergeant-ranked policeman, from Parramatta Local Area Command, was behind the wheel of the car and was allegedly responding to a report of a brawl in the area.

Witnesses said the car collided with the woman, who had just left the party with friends and was walking on the road. She was taken to Westmead Hospital where she remains in intensive care in a serious but stable condition.

A critical incident investigation, led by police from Eastwood Area Command, is under way. It will explore conflicting statements between friends of Ms Pronesti and the officer, who may have run a red light when he allegedly ran her down. The sergeant will also be quizzed by members of the NSW Police Force Professional Standards Command, a Parramatta source told The Sunday Telegraph. "He's certainly the subject of an investigation," the source said. "He was responding to a brawl and he got into one."

The internal police investigation will also examine allegations of police brutality. Another witness, John-Ross Campbell, claimed he was mistreated when he tried to break up the melee. "The police stopped us, then they shoved me against the wall," he said. "We we're just, like, 'We want to know if she's all right.' We all just got roughed up. I was just helping my mate who was on the ground. I fell to my knees and I put my hands up to give in."


Massive shark lurks metres from shore at popular island

Since the Greenies got all sharks protected, we are seeing more and more of them close to people. There have already been attacks but shark life matters more than human life to Greenies

ANGLER Col O'Donnell has seen the arrival of some fierce competition at his favourite fishing spot. But the experienced fisherman is happy to step back and let the latest visitors, a group of whaler sharks, catch their fill, watching in awe as they herd their prey and devour it with ruthless efficiency.

Mr O'Donnell's fishing mate Alex Augheros snapped a photo of this terrifying tourist - a five-metre predator identified by experts as a whaler - cruising just metres from shore at Moreton Island, off Queensland's coast. The shark had four hungry buddies with him. The fishing spot is close to Stradbroke Island where bronzed whaler sharks killed a 21-year-old woman in 2006.

Mr O'Donnell, 72, says he quickly retreated to higher ground. "We were fishing at Long Point, on the southern end of Moreton Island, when the sharks came in for the bait fish," he said. "It was certainly exciting. I was in knee-deep water and had to take a few steps back, while keeping an eye on the rod and an eye on the sharks. "I've never seen them at that spot before."

Mr O'Donnell, who has fished in the area for years, said he was happy to share his fishing spot with the ocean's finest hunters.


Rookie teachers quitting

You'd quit too if you had to stand up in front of an undisciplined rabble every day

YOUNG teachers are leaving the profession at an "alarming" rate, new figures reveal, threatening a staffing crisis in NSW public schools, with half of the teaching workforce approaching retirement. The number of teachers resigning after four years or less in the job has increased by nearly 20 per cent over two years, according to official government figures obtained by the NSW Opposition under freedom of information laws. The figures show a similar increase in the rate of resignations among teachers with five to nine years' experience. The overall number of teachers resigning from public schools has increased by nearly 10 per cent over the same period, between 2006 and 2008.

The Opposition's education spokesman Adrian Piccoli said the figures were "alarming" and suggested the State Government had failed to provide young teachers with enough support. "The NSW Labor Government thinks they can churn out graduates, send them into schools that are under-resourced and without support, and hope for the best. These statistics show that theory is not working," Mr Piccoli said.

"The way to deal with it is to support young teachers with more mentors, help them deal with challenging students and give them more opportunity for professional development." Mr Piccoli said the Government had "turned a blind eye" to the looming teacher shortage crisis and that teachers were being asked to do "more with fewer resources". "No one lasts in a climate like that," he said.

The NSW Teachers Federation president, Bob Lipscombe, said the new figures presented a worrying future for state education. "This is particularly alarming because we know that 50 per cent of the teaching service will reach retirement age by 2016," he said. "If we can't hold these early-career teachers in our system then the future will be bleak."

Mr Lipscombe said the new figures reinforced the findings from an Auditor-General's report released early last year, which showed that 41 per cent of schoolteachers were aged 50 and over. A third of schoolteachers - more than 16,000 - would reach retirement age in three years. It was estimated that by 2016, 25,000 staff would reach retirement age.

A national audit conducted by the Australian Education Union of more than 1500 new teachers, released this year, showed that more than half those surveyed did not believe they would be teaching in 10 years. The main reasons cited for dissatisfaction with teaching included the workload and behaviour management.

Mr Lipscombe said despite repeated warnings the NSW Department of Education was not doing enough to attract and retain teachers. "The State Government must take action," he said. "It can't just hope there are going to be sufficient teachers in the future."

The teachers' union has lobbied the State Government to reduce classroom teaching time by one hour for all new teachers. It says the Government has released permanent teachers from an hour of teaching time, but it has not given thousands of beginning teachers, who work on a temporary basis, the same allowance.

The union has asked for more mentoring for teachers but says the Department of Education had not increased the number of mentors from 50 full-time positions it provided in 2003.

Last year, Mr Lipscombe said the State Government issued a press release saying there were 110 people on a waiting list to fill vacancies at a school in a country town. "Yet they were unable to fill two vacancies the next day and the following week they had three vacancies," Mr Lipscombe said.

Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said experienced teachers also needed to be rewarded with extra pay to ensure they remained in the profession. Starting teachers in NSW earn $52,745 and classroom teachers earn a maximum of $78,667. Teachers need to be promoted out of the classroom to head a department before they can earn $90,532. "Teachers are overworked, undervalued and continue to be underpaid," Mr Gavrielatos said.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Verity Firth said that for a workforce of about 50,000 permanent schoolteachers, resignation rates were very low. "Last year, the retention rate of teachers in NSW public schools in their first year of service was 96 per cent and the retention rate of teachers in their first five years of service was nearly 88 per cent," she said. "There are a vast range of initiatives in place to support our teachers, particularly those just starting out. This financial year we are investing $5 million in the Teacher Mentor Program, which began in 2003.

"NSW public school classroom teachers are among the highest paid public school classroom teachers in Australia. "The Rees Government is not complacent about our strong teacher retention rates and will continue to investigate further ways to ensure teaching remains an attractive and rewarding career."


As more and more public hospital horror stories emerge, more Australians turn to private insurance

AUSTRALIANS are flocking to take up private health insurance, with more than 4000 people joining each week, a surge likely to undermine claims that the private system is about to be king hit by changes announced in last week's budget. A leaked report obtained by The Sunday Age reveals that 225,000 more people took up private cover during the 12 months to March this year.

The report, from the independent but publicly funded Private Health Insurance Administration Council, shows that more than 9.7 million Australians are now covered for private hospital insurance, equivalent to 44.6 per cent of the population — the highest proportion since March 2002.

The surge came despite warnings from insurers and the Opposition that changes announced in last year's budget would force people to abandon private insurance, putting more pressure on the public system. Similar claims followed last week's budget, which announced plans to means test the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate for singles earning more than $75,000, and for families earning about $150,000. The rebate will phase out completely for couples earning more than $240,000.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has pledged that the Liberals would vote against the plan, warning that it would lead to people dropping out of insurance schemes. Family First senator Steve Fielding and Independent Nick Xenophon have also expressed concern....

A spokeswoman for the Health Insurance Association said more people were joining because people were concerned about the state of the public system and that the 2008 budget changes had been watered down.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday accused the Opposition of plotting to force people on low incomes to pay private health insurance. "The reason that Mr Turnbull wants to get rid of private health insurance measures that the Government has proposed in the budget is because he believes, and has explicitly said, that every Australian should have private health insurance," Ms Roxon said. "What that means is that every pensioner, every veteran, every family, no matter what their income, should have private health insurance."

Mr Turnbull actually said that in "an ideal world, every Australian would have private health insurance". He said the Opposition strongly supported Medicare as a cornerstone of a health system that also encouraged self-reliance.


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