Friday, July 31, 2009


Environment before people, says Wilderness Society -- by Sara Hudson

The misanthropic attitude of conservationists was revealed on Tuesday night when a group of Aboriginal protestors from Cape York gate-crashed a Wilderness Society and green fundraiser.

Dressed in chains and in two giant koala suits, the Cape York Aborigines crashed the party to protest against Queensland’s Wild Rivers legislation, which bans development within two kilometres of the Lockhart, Stewart and Archer rivers.

The protestors blame the Wilderness Society for instigating the legislation, which they argue denies them the ability to build businesses and enterprises on their traditional land – so that more of their people can move out of welfare into the real economy. Tania Major, the spokesperson for the Cape York Aborigines, said they weren’t against conservation but they were protesting because the Wilderness Society had not consulted with them or given them a choice on how to manage their land.

These arguments left the Wilderness Society members unmoved, with spokesperson Anna Christie saying on ABC Radio that environmental sustainability should come before people.

Only those comfortably off are able to so quickly disregard the importance of economic development. They forget that the only reason they can afford to shop at Macro and buy organic food is because they live in an industrialised society. Try living in the outback and getting an organic soy latte.

The fact that the greenies and the Aborigines have fallen out over this issue is a first. Historically, the green movement has tended to support Aboriginal causes. Protesting against the Intervention and the Howard government was a trendy pastime for many greenies.

However, the green movement has failed to address the causes of Aboriginal disadvantage, tending to rely on detached commentary rather than tackling real issues.

The green way of looking at sustainable development is typical of the affluent world that sees sustainability as being environmentally friendly—recycling, living in eco houses, and driving fuel-efficient cars. But for the poor and disadvantaged, sustainability is about having essential services such as housing, water, sewerage, and transport.

It is deeply hypocritical for the green movement to deny Aboriginal development on the premise that this will preserve the environment when they owe their own comfortable existence to Australia’s developed economy.

When dollars defend democracy -- by Andrew Norton

Earlier this week, I attended a forum on ‘dollars and democracy’. Its title reflects concern that political donations distort policy priorities and government decisions. To reduce the influence of private money on politics, the federal government plans to significantly expand regulation of political donors. Foreign-sourced donations and anonymous donations exceeding $50 would be banned outright. Gifts of $1,000 would have to be disclosed, down from nearly $11,000 now.

These rules apply to non-government organisations that express political views as well as to political parties. In fact NGOs face greater disclosure burdens than political parties. They must itemise their expenditure between five overlapping categories, while political parties need provide only one total sum. NGOs must report annually on their spending on ‘election issues’, even for future elections with issues that cannot be known for certain. NGO donors are potentially treated very unfairly. Donors’ names and addresses are put on the Australian Electoral Commission website if their gift finances political expenditure, even if the donor is unaware of how their money is used.

NGOs face significant dangers from these rules. Their staff and volunteers risk fines and jail for breaching the rules. NGOS run by political amateurs may not be aware they have any obligations. But the requirements are so unclear that even political professionals could easily make a mistake. The other danger is that NGO donors will be deterred. The disclosure rules give governments the names of their political opponents. This creates opportunities for improperly disfavouring people tendering for government business or applying for government grants. Cautious donors may decide that revealing their NGO allegiances is too costly.

It’s a mistake to think that ‘dollars and democracy’ are necessarily opposed. Private donations to NGOs are a vital part of Australia’s democratic political system. Without these gifts, many views would go unexpressed, many voices would never be heard, and many criticisms of government would never be made. Plans to ban or deter NGO donations have no place in a democratic society.

More spending on prevention is no solution for hospital crisis -- by Dr Jeremy Sammut

Public health experts have long claimed the problems in Australia’s public hospital system are due to government policy focusing too much on hospitals rather than on preventive and health promotion strategies. The report on health reform released this week by the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission endorses this idea.

The reality is that average life spans have increased dramatically in the last 40 years. Healthier lifestyles and more effective medications have resulted in significant falls in rates of heart attacks and strokes.

People who once would have entered hospitals and died while in their 50s and 60s now live longer. Improved medical treatments are also enabling people to live to older and older ages. These people inevitably get acutely ill and eventually become users of emergency departments and require admission to hospitals when they are older and sicker.

Overcrowded public hospitals are already bearing the brunt of the inexorable ageing of the population.

Between 2004 and 2007, the number of patients presenting at emergency departments with medical problems requiring unplanned admission increased faster than population growth by 15%.

This was driven mainly by rising admissions by frail and ‘very old’ patients aged 75 years and over. Patients in this age groups accounted for 14% of public hospital admissions in 1996–97. They accounted for 20% of public hospital patients in 2007–08.

The problem is that total public acute beds in Australia now number roughly the same as in 1996 – about 2.5 beds per 1000 population. Public hospitals simply do not have enough beds to care for Australia’s ageing population.

More spending on prevention will not address the tsunami of ageing-related demand that will hit public hospitals across the country in coming decades. For the last twenty-five years, State governments have cut bed numbers while opening offices filled with ‘area health’ bureaucrats. The challenge for policy makers is to reverse this process.

A national hospital voucher system, in combination with the reestablishment of local hospital boards, will close down offices, open beds, and rebuild and equip the hospital system to cope with the unprecedented impact of demographic change.

The above are three press releases from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated July 31st. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. Telephone ph: +61 2 9438 4377 or fax: +61 2 9439 7310

Islamic racist loses defamation case

KEYSAR Trad, the longtime spokesman for Muslim cleric Sheik Taj bin al-Hilaly, has been described as "racist" and "offensive" by a judge who today rejected his defamation claim against radio station 2GB. Mr Trad sued the top-rating Sydney station in the NSW Supreme Court after presenter Jason Morrison described him "gutless" and " just trouble" for his conduct at a rally after the Cronulla riots in December 2005, The Australian reported. Mr Trad's comment about the "shame of tabloid journalism' caused the crowd to boo and harass a 2GB journalist near the stage.

The reporter told Mr Morrison he feared for his safety, prompting the presenter to deliver his tirade the following morning, in which he also described Mr Trad as "disgraceful and dangerous individual who incited violence, hatred and racism."

In August 2007, a jury found Mr Morrison had defamed Mr Trad but Justice Peter McClellan found for 2GB in the second - or defence - phase of the trial that was heard in May, saying the statement were true and also protected as comment based on fact. "There is little doubt that many of the plaintiff's remarks are offensive to Jewish persons and homosexuals," Justice McClellan said in his judgment. "Many of his remarks are distasteful and appear to condone violence.

"I'm satisfied that the plaintiff does hold views which can properly be described as racist. "I'm also satisfied that he encourages others to hold those views. In particular he holds views derogatory of Jewish people. "The views which he holds would not be acceptable to most right-thinking Australians."

Mr Trad, who founded the Islamic Friendship Association, faces up to $400,000 in court costs and there are question marks over his credibility after Justice McClellan's scathing judgment.

During the trial he was subjected to close scrutiny about his public profile as Sheik Hilaly's right-hand man and he frequent statements he made to "clarify" the controversial views of the cleric. These included comments that women who dressed provocatively were "uncovered meat" inviting the attention of rapists. Mr Trad suggested Hilaly was "talking about people who engage in extramarital sex."

Neither Mr Trad or Mr Morrison were at Sydney's Supreme Court to hear the judgment. Outside court, a representative for Mr Trad said he planned to appeal. Parties are due to meet again next Thursday to discuss costs.


Fad-laden food religion well-entrenched at a Melbourne hospital

FAST food giant McDonald's has been given the green light to sell Big Macs in Melbourne's new Royal Children's Hospital. But it will have to meet strict Australian-first menu guidelines.

The hospital's retail food policy revealed to the Herald Sun paves the way for several fast food chains to operate in the $1 billion hospital. They will be subject to a "traffic light" system where half their menu is made up of "green" healthy food such as fruit, vegetables and water. "Red" food, including chips, cannot form more than a fifth of the food on offer.

The decision follows a report revealing RCH staff were split over McDonald's, which opened in the existing hospital amid controversy in 1991. Many doctors believed the presence of McDonald's sent a bad health message, while others felt it was a boost for sick children.

But RCH chairman Tony Beddison said the policy - a first at an Australian hospital - encouraged healthy eating and allowed families to make their own choices. "It provides choice, it provides great variety for children and their families, but it also gives a very clear message about healthy eating," he said. [A totally misleading message, more like it. Does he know the huge amounts of fat and red meat that Eskimos eat and how they almost never get cardiovascular disease?]

"There is going to be no retailer excluded from the tender. "It will be up to the individual retailer to come forward with their plan. But those plans must comply with the traffic-light green, amber, red policy and they need to comply regardless of who they are. "Sick kids need to be nurtured and looked after, guided and helped. But above all, we need to think about their wellbeing. "As a hospital we need to provide leadership to the community. We will not be endorsing any of the tenants, but they will need to meet this policy." To earn a place in the hospital, restaurant menus must feature:

* At least 50 per cent "green" food, such as lean meat, fish, chicken, fruit, vegetables and plain water.

* No more than 30 per cent "amber" food, including ice cream, muesli and snack bars, canned fruit, diet drinks and fruit juice.

* "Red" foods - such as chips, deep fried foods, chocolate bars, lollies, chips and soft drinks - to make up no more than 20 per cent.

At least three food stores will operate in the new hospital, but there could be room for up to nine depending on the mix of plans received when the tender process opens next month. The hospital will conduct twice-yearly audits to enforce the rules.

The hospital did not want to tell families what to eat [except that they do], but Mr Beddison said the hospital policy could be adopted far more widely. "There is no doubt this policy has extensions into other parts of the community, particularly where children eat, such as tuck shops," he said.

He would not speculate on who the likely tenderers would be, but said no restaurants were involved in developing the policy.


A joke for those who follow Australian politics

On a bitterly cold morning in Canberra Kevvy is being chauffeured to Parliament House. It is so cold that Lake Burley Griffin is frozen over.

As he jumps out of the limo Kev looks over the lake and notices that someone has "peed" on the ice and left the message........."KEVVY SUCKS".

Kevvy is enraged and orders ASIO to investigate with "no expense spared" and to report within two weeks.

Two weeks later the head of ASIO reports to the PM and says ...."our investigation is over and I have three pieces of news for you... good news, bad news and terribly bad shocking news".

Well says Kevvy give me the good news. The head of ASIO says......"We spent $5 million dollars on the investigation and have come to a successful result."

Well says Kev what's the bad news ?

The head of ASIO says "The DNA testing shows that the urine is Wayne Swann's". Kevvy is shocked beyond belief.

Looking pale, Kevvy says "and what is the terribly bad shocking news?"

The ASIO chief replies..." it’s Julia Gillard’s handwriting".

No comments: