Thursday, July 09, 2009

New Green/Left policy: Keep those ordinary scum Australians off Ayers rock

Andrew Bolt

Whose rock is it anyway? And is this really about religion ... or power?
The Northern Territory Labor government and the federal opposition are furious with a federal plan to close the climb to the top of Uluru, saying Peter Garrett is slamming the gate on a world famous tourism experience.

A 10-year draft management plan for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, released yesterday, indicates the days of climbing the rock are coming to an end: “For visitor safety, cultural, and environmental reasons, the director and the board will work towards closure of the climb,” it says.

One reason to instinctively distrust this try-on is the claim that a ban is also for “visitor safety” and “environmental reasons”. Every visitor who climbs it knows full well from all the signs that it’s a challenge, and it’s clearly their own judgment that the climb is worth the risk, just as countless people judge that flying is worth the risk of deep vein thrombosis. By what right does Garrett insist it’s not? As for the “environmental reasons”, I rather suspect that a million more people may walk on this giant rock without grinding the thing into a pile of sand.


Violence rife in Qld. government schools

And nobody knows what to do about it because any real discipline would be labelled as "child abuse"

SHOCKING levels of student suspensions from Queensland's state schools have been revealed, with the Government admitting not enough has been done to combat violent behaviour. The Opposition has labelled the escalating violence "another crisis" the Government had been ignoring.

Education Minister Geoff Wilson yesterday took the unprecedented step of releasing school-by-school discipline data, acknowledging more needs to be done to quell increasing behavioural problems. The Government is now considering longer suspensions and the ability for principals to exclude their own students without departmental input, while asking schools to revise their behavioural plans.

It follows revelations in The Courier-Mail earlier this year of a 20 per cent hike in suspensions from state schools between 2006 and 2008, with more than 55,000 handed out last year.

State government figures released yesterday show total disciplinary actions rose from 47,847 in 2006 to 58,167 in 2008 in Queensland state schools. Nearly one-third of all suspensions in 2008 were for "physical misconduct". Others were for verbal and property misconduct, disruptive behaviour, absences and substance abuse. Dozens of schools had more than one suspension handed out for every three students while one – Normanton State School – issued more suspensions than they had pupils. Meanwhile, 10 state high schools excluded or cancelled the enrolments of 20 or more of their students last year alone.

But Mr Wilson said higher disciplinary action numbers were just as likely to indicate a strict school acting for the benefit of all students. He described the rising levels of violence as "totally unacceptable" and said cyber bullying was the "new frontier of violent behaviour". Mr Wilson will now consult the Statewide Behaviour Committee to consider greater disciplinary powers for principals.

Queensland Association of State School Principals president Norm Hart said he would welcome stronger powers, especially the right to exclude students. Under the current system, principals can suspend students for up to five days, but the department must review any harsher penalties.

Opposition education spokesman Dr Bruce Flegg said the government response had came years too late and only after recent Opposition pressure. "It is emerging as another crisis for the Government that they have ignored over the years," he said.

Both Mr Wilson and Mr Hart urged the public to treat the suspension data cautiously, as one student could be suspended a number of times.


Australian banking system as good as it gets

The reactionary Left talking about going back to failed ideas: Many government banks failed late last century and the one that did not (CBA) only surged ahead after it was privatized

THE notion of a "people's bank" that would be set up to rival Australia's big four banks has not been contemplated, the Federal Government says. Six influential economists have written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan calling on them to set up an inquiry into the nation's financial system, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. In the open letter, the economists have suggested the Government set up a "basic bank'' - managed by the Future Fund - that would allow Australians to deposit money through Australia Post, the report says.

Since the start of the economic downturn, the big four banks have increased their share of the mortgage market from 80 to 92 per cent, and have taken over St George and Bankwest.

The letter, from economists who have advised both sides of politics, expresses concern about the way the banks are using their privileged access to Government guarantees. The banks are reportedly rushing offshore to expand, even though the public is told they are "lucky not to have had substantial overseas exposures,'' the report says.

"We believe the banks in our economy have worked very well,'' Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor told Sky News. "That's not something that's been contemplated by the Government,'' he said, referring to the "basic bank'' idea. Australia's big four banks were in the top eight banks in the world, which provided confidence in the nation's financial system and ability to recover from the global recession, Mr O'Connor said. "So I don't think there's any particular need to look at the systemic review of our financial system, it's very sound.''

Opposition finance spokeswoman Helen Coonan said it was an "interesting idea''. "I think innovative ways with how consumers can be assisted with how they choose their financial products and how they actually run their finances should not be dismissed out of hand,'' she told Sky News. Senator Coonan said she wasn't "bashing the banks'' but if consumers could be given a better deal, it should be considered.

Small Business Minister Craig Emerson said he believed there was a reason Australia now had no state-owned banks, after having 11 in 1990. "They all sound like a good idea at the time but they all ended up going either belly up or into severe financial situations,'' Mr Emerson said. "I can understand why people are feeling this way, it's a concentration I suppose, with the global recession, we do have four major banks in this country.''

Mutual banking institutions, such as credit unions and building societies, already fill economists' calls for a new "people's bank'', a credit union industry body says. "Credit unions and mutual building societies exist for their members: being mutual organisations, their members own them,'' CEO of Abacus, Louise Petschler, said. "Instead of maximising external shareholder returns, credit unions and mutual building societies put their profits back into better rates, fairer fees, responsible lending,'' she said.

Instead of arguing for a "people's bank'', the economists should recognise the strong competitive alternative to the banks - credit unions and building societies - she said.


Libellous sensationalism costs TV station a bundle

One hopes that they might do some of that famous journalistic fact-checking in the future. They got the wrong person altogether. With legal costs, a few minutes of careless sensationalism will have cost them over a million

The Seven Network has been ordered to pay $240,000 in defamation damages to a mortgage broker falsely portrayed as having fleeced $1 million from a dementia patient. In awarding the damages to Peter Mahommed, Justice David Kirby said the elderly woman had not suffered from dementia and was a "practised fraudster".

Mr Mahommed, 53, sued Channel Seven in the NSW Supreme Court over a June 2004 Today Tonight program and two earlier promotional broadcasts screened throughout most of Australia. He had worked in the Newcastle area but since the show could not continue in the job. He moved house, grew a beard and wore a baseball cap so people would not recognise him. "In the five years that have elapsed since the program, Mr Mahommed has certainly aged and presented as a person much less confident than he appeared on the screen," the judge said.

In the first promotion, a voice-over said: "Stolen, stolen, stolen. The million dollar dementia patient rip-off. "She kept forgetting, so this mortgage broker took everything she had." Reporter David Richardson then asked: "Where's her money?"

The program featured Doreen Sylvia Smith, then 76, of Caves Beach south of Newcastle and her son Trevor Steele being interviewed by Mr Richardson.

In 2007, a jury found the material conveyed 12 defamatory meanings about Mr Mahommed including that he had ripped off $1 million from a dementia patient. At the second-stage hearing before Justice Kirby last month, Channel Seven did not put in a "truth" defence to 10 of the meanings - all of which the judge found were untrue and "devastating" to Mr Mahommed's previous excellent reputation.

The broadcaster argued two were true, that Mr Mahommed charged Ms Smith "outrageous fees" and that he was a dishonest financial adviser and mortgage broker. But Justice Kirby rejected those submissions. He noted that the Office of Fair Trading ultimately took no action on a 2004 complaint against Mr Mahommed made by Mr Steele in relation to the various loan dealings.

The judge said Ms Smith, who when married was known as Mrs Steele, had a "colourful past" and over the years had been convicted of dishonesty offences and had served time in jail. "I have the strong impression, at least during 2002, that Mr Mahommed was, to some extent, under the spell of Doreen Smith, a practised fraudster who, I infer, was very plausible," he said.

He said Mr Mahommed was "confronted by a powerful and successful woman" who had been bankrupt and yet survived with substantial assets. The judge noted that "well after these events", Ms Smith was charged with unrelated fraud offences. "In June 2008 she was given a six month suspended sentence after entering into a bond," he said. "She was ordered to pay compensation of $53,500."

He ordered Seven to pay Mr Mahommed's legal costs.


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