Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Open Letter to All Members of the Australian Federal Parliament

Soon our elected representatives will be asked to vote on Senator Wong’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

This scheme is not about carbon or pollution. Its main effect is to provide for a cap on the human production of carbon dioxide, a colourless harmless natural gas. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than oxygen or water, the other two atmospheric gases on which all life on earth relies.

The bill will also levy a tax on whatever carbon dioxide is produced, and levy an excess production tax on anyone whose production exceeds the legal cap. It is a carbon dioxide Cap-n-Tax Bill.

There is no human activity whatsoever that does not generate carbon dioxide. Therefore any attempt to measure, cap and tax human production of carbon dioxide must eventually extend to every human activity (the UK government already floated the idea that every person be issued with a personal carbon ration card).

This is a very serious proposal, with wide-ranging implications for all aspects of economic life and personal freedoms. It could only be justified if there was a clear and urgent danger that additional human production of carbon dioxide is highly likely to cause dangerous global warming. There is no evidence that this is the case – just computer models and scare forecasts.

Neither the scientific questions, nor the cost benefit analysis has been subject to any critical independent analysis.

The diagram below illustrates the sequence of decisions that should be made before this bill gets assent. If the answer to ANY ONE of the boxed questions is “NO”, there is no justification for Australia rushing ahead with its Cap-n-Tax Bill.

This diagram, although light-hearted, has a factual basis and conveys some very serious messages.

It is highly unlikely that anyone could honestly answer “Yes” to every question, which is what is required to justify passage of the bill. This suggests that there is a high likelihood that the bill will have NO CLIMATE EFFECT WHATSOEVER and thus be a costly exercise in self delusion.

Start from the bottom left

Start from the bottom left


That great government healthcare again. Broken neck? Take a Panadol

A MAN who broke his neck in a freak accident was sent home and told to take Panadol after hospital staff failed to diagnose his life-threatening injury. Paul Curtis, 31, endured two days of increasing pain and fear after a doctor in the emergency department at Sydney's Ryde Hospital sent him away without ordering an X-ray. He went back to the hospital where another doctor ordered tests. He said Mr Curtis was lucky to be alive or not in a wheelchair.

The Carlingford man went to Ryde Hospital late on Friday May 29 after he and a friend cracked their heads during a church youth group activity. "I drove home but I didn't feel right and my housemate, a nurse, thought I wasn't looking very good," he said. "I told the hospital staff I had had a serious head collision and the nurse noticed a mark on the back of my neck.

"After 2 hours I saw the doctor and told him my neck was sore. He told me I couldn't have an X-ray because the X-ray unit was shut and told me I would be fine. "He told me to go home and take some Panadol."

By Monday his condition had worsened and he returned to the hospital where another doctor ordered an X-ray and a CT scan. With the break detected, he was put in a brace and sent by ambulance to Royal North Shore Hospital, where he later had surgery and a plate inserted in his spine. "I was crapping myself when they told me my neck was broken - I had been walking around like that for two days," Mr Curtis said. "There was a chip out of my spine and the doctor said it was lucky it hadn't severed my spinal cord."

A Ryde Hospital spokeswoman said Mr Curtis had not complained of a loss of consciousness and told emergency staff he had taken Panadol for the pain. She said hospital records from the Friday night did not show any discussion about an X-ray but said radiologists could be called back to the hospital after 11pm if required. Hospital records showed he returned to Ryde at 9.08am on the Monday, and was in an ambulance en route to Royal North Shore at 9.21am.

Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said: "It was nothing more than luck that saved this man from sustaining further damage as a result of not being treated properly - quite frankly the fact he was sent home with the injuries he had is enough to send shivers down the spine. "The Rees Labor Government has failed to provide Ryde Hospital with the resources it needs to deal with cases like this. "Ryde Hospital clearly doesn't have enough funding or staff skill mix to deal with cases like this, and that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Health Minister John Della Bosca and his incompetent area health services."

Ryde MP Victor Dominello, a Liberal, defended hospital staff, saying it was not their fault they did not have sufficient resources to treat patients properly.


Once again: The absurdity of making bureaucrats responsible for "care"

Getting them to listen is near impossible. Dad accuses DOCS of ignoring abuse

THE father of a boy who was sexually assaulted by a Government-approved foster carer has accused the Department of Community Services of ignoring continuing abuse. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded with DOCS to remove his two young sons from their mother's care after what he claims is a series of mistreatment. He recently detailed to DOCS an incident where the boys were deadlocked in their home by their mother while she went to visit a fortune teller.

The boys had also complained of living in filth, being hit on the back of their hands with knives, and assault at the hands of one of their mother's boyfriends, their father said. A DOCS foster carer who had minded the boys for their mother in a private arrangement has been convicted of sexually abusing the younger boy and will be sentenced in August.

DOCS sent seven troubled children to stay with the man for "weekend respite care" in the more than four years it used him as an approved foster carer. A spokeswoman for the Community Services Minister, Linda Burney, said the man, who cannot be identified, was accepted by DOCS to care for kids in crisis in February 2004 after he applied for the role. "He underwent standard departmental foster-care training and assessment, as well as thorough checks regarding his background," the spokeswoman said. "All potential carers must undergo these checks … All checks … came back clear. "The department immediately suspended him from being a carer on hearing the allegations in April 2008." The spokeswoman said further investigations show no evidence has been found of "abuse of any of these other children".

The father raised concerns about the man with DOCS in September 2006, but was ignored until he took his son to police last year. They subsequently charged the man with a range of offences including having sex with a child under 10.

The father said: "DOCS ignored me when I told them my sons were at risk from a man who was acting like a classic pedophile - now they are ignoring me again. Do my kids have to be brutalised before they will do something? It seems emotional abuse and risk of harm is not sufficient to make DOCS act. The only people DOCS are concerned about protecting is themselves."

The father is pinning his hopes on a Children's Court-ordered psychiatric assessment of his former partner, which he says was promised by the DOCS director-general, Jenny Mason, in a meeting more than a month ago. Such a report could help his custody case in the Family Court.

But Ms Burney's spokeswoman said a psychiatric assessment had been discussed, not promised. "It was raised as one of a number of possible options available pending a full case review and investigation of his concerns," she said. "The department is taking the father's concerns very seriously, and has launched a thorough investigation in response.

"The department is maintaining regular contact with the family to ensure the children are well supported. At this point in time, there are no immediate concerns for the children's safety."


Revolutionary Australian Artificial heart design

Developed with no government support -- just as with the British inventors of IVF. Propping up failures is what governments do

QUEENSLANDERS have created the world's first artificial heart which fits inside a human body and can mimic the pumping fluctuations of a healthy heart. The titanium device – which is about the size of a fist – will provide an alternative to heart transplants, doctors say. It has the potential to save thousands of lives a year worldwide, and will provide significant savings for government-run and private health systems, its inventors believe.

The device – to be marketed under the name Bivacor – also will deliver an alternative for people with heart disease over the age of 65, who are currently considered by most doctors to be too old for heart transplants. The key element of the Bivacor's revolutionary design is a pump that can duplicate the function of both the left and right sides of the heart in a single, small device. Driven by tiny electromagnets, the pump's twin rotors can alter speed and position to suit blood-flow demands that fluctuate depending on a patient's activity.

Most existing artificial hearts or supportive pump devices are external, and usually pump through just one side of the heart. That places extreme limits on patient mobility and can reveal problems on the other side of a diseased heart.

The Bivacor allows patients to move around and reduces the risk of infection, by being secured inside the body and without external tubes.

A team of biomedical engineers, intensive-care specialists, cardiac surgeons and cardiologists has been working on the project for seven years at Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital, one of Australia's leading heart hospitals. One of the group, engineer Dan Timms, 30, devised key elements of the design after watching his father die of heart failure at the hospital two years ago.

He perfected the artificial heart's impeller – a twin fan inside the pump that can spin at different speeds and also tilt to adjust blood flow and pressure. Dr Timms unveiled his invention at a recent heart conference in Paris.

Professor John Fraser, 40, director of the Critical Care Research Group (CCRG) at Prince Charles and the leader of the Bivacor development team, said the invention was lauded by heart experts. "After Daniel gave his presentation, the conference concluded that the device would revolutionise artificial heart technology," Prof Fraser said. "One of the world leaders in cardiology exclaimed, 'Within 10 years, all artificial hearts will be based on this revolutionary Queensland design'."

Once in production, the Bivacor, which has been patented, is expected to cost about $60,000 a unit. That compares with external heart machines – which cost up to $600,000 each – that are currently used on patients who can wait in hospital for up to six months for a heart transplant.

Remarkably, most of the funding for the Bivacor project – about $250,000 so far – came from the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation raising funds through selling ice creams at the Ekka. [Annual agricultural show] "Despite repeated attempts, there has been no money forthcoming from Queensland Health or Government," Prof Fraser said. "Jon Roberts (chief executive of Prince Charles Hospital) has been outstanding, but can only do so much to support us."

The Bivacor is expected to be in clinical trials in the next three years if the team can secure funding of $3 million. A German company has approached the team to fund development, which has both pleased and disappointed the research team. "It would be a shame to see such a Queensland home-grown project go overseas," Prof Fraser said. Representatives of the CCRG team are in Europe this week to discuss the development of Bivacor with international companies.


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