Sunday, July 12, 2009

Typical Leftist government: Cut frontline services but NEVER cut the ever-growing bureaucracy

WA Police stripped of mobile phones while on the beat. The government could have got equivalent savings by firing just TWO "administrators"

FRONT-LINE police have been stripped of their mobile phones because of State Government cost-cutting. In a move the force says will save a meagre $200,000, it has axed 115 mobile phones from operational officers - 113 in the city and two in regional districts. And The Sunday Times understands that it will cut more phones, which are shared between patrol teams, from regional police districts.

Some officers must now solely rely on the radio network, but country police have expressed concerns with the botched regional system, which has broken down an average of 100 times a year in the past few years. The WA Police Union yesterday slammed the move, describing it as ``outrageous'' and akin to sending officers on the beat with no firearms, handcuffs or Taser stun guns.

It comes despite Police Minister Rob Johnson repeatedly insisting that the Government's 3 per cent ``efficiency cuts'' would not affect front-line police services.

``This is an absolutely pathetic indictment on this Government with the 3 per cent cut, which is going to affect operational police officers throughout the state,'' WA Police Union president Russell Armstrong said. ``A 3 per cent cut for police or any other emergency service is absolutely disgraceful. ``It's absolutely outrageous that police officers haven't got the modern communications in their vehicles of a mobile phone. It's 2009, not 1979.'' Mr Armstrong said while metropolitan and some regional officers had the secure digital radio network, TADIS, they still needed access to mobile phones. And many country areas were still forced to rely on the unreliable and non-secure old analogue system. The digital system covers stations from Dunsborough to Lancelin, leaving key towns such as Geraldton, Albany and Broome out of the loop.

Officers use the phones to contact victims of crime, complainants and liaise with hospitals and other agencies while on the road. Mr Armstrong said he was aware of cases where officers had been forced to ask complainants to use their phones for police business. He demanded the State Government order the phones be reinstated as a matter of urgency.

Deputy Commissioner Chris Dawson said the decision was part of the State Government's budget cuts. ``A decision was made to reduce the WA Police mobile phone bill by 20 per cent as part of the 3 per cent efficiency dividend,'' Mr Dawson said. ``(WA Police's) mobile phone bill is about $1 million a year.'' Mr Dawson said he had no concerns about the safety of front-line police. ``We don't believe it will impact on officers' safety or efficiency,'' he said.

Mr Johnson said with the introduction of TADIS there was less need for police to have mobile phones.


Barnaby takes Rudd down a peg or two over climate folly

KEVIN Rudd should take an ``ego pill'' when it comes to global climate change negotiations, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce says. The major world powers do not care what Mr Rudd thinks about tackling climate change, he says. ``Mr Rudd has got to stop fooling himself that he is a mover and shaker on ... world environmental politics,'' Senator Joyce told Sky News today. ``He has got to support the main players, take an ego pill, and realise the main players are the United States and China and Europe and support their mechanisms for an outcome rather than believing he's actually going to be constructive. ``Away from the niceties, I don't think they really care what Mr Rudd says.''

Mr Rudd watched from the sidelines in L'Aquila, Italy, as the Group of Eight nations agreed on Wednesday that developed nations should cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. But a day later the 16-nation Major Economies Forum, made up of major and developing nations, failed to agree on an emissions target.

Mr Rudd was overheard telling his Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen yesterday that world leaders would be unlikely to reach an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at UN climate change talks to be held at Copenhagen in December.

Senator Joyce said Mr Rudd's admission that Copenhagen was unlikely to produce results suggests the climate change forums in Italy were a flop.


Sex furore best left at sea

WHERE was Benny Hill when you needed him during the week? News that several seamen from the HMAS Success were called home for conspiring to have sex with female colleagues at sea was almost too good to be true for those who love a bit of schoolboy humour. With headlines such as "Probe into navy sex bet scandal", it was all too funny, except not many seemed to see the humour.

Heaven forbid, but some 20-something male sailors had put together a list of women to whom they assigned a value if they were able to have a sexual relationship with them. As a result of thinking about having sex, these sailors have now been questioned by many as to their suitability of possibly shooting people in defence of our country.

Melinda Tankard Reist [who seems to have become Australia's official wowser], of Woman's Forum Australia said: "I don't think these men should have a role in the navy. These are not the kind of men we want defending us."

What? I think too many people have been watching An Officer and a Gentleman too many times. Hello! Richard Gere is a movie character. So now you are not allowed to think about stupid and inappropriate things?

In the meantime, almost every publication (men's and women's) lists the desirability of people on a daily basis. During the week, the Herald Sun had a story referring to Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis as "our sexiest MP".

Maybe it's time to bring back the eunuch. They were trusted men of old who were gelded to keep their minds on the job without fear of getting the urge, so to speak. Not only that, but we could get a great navy choir out of all this.

Yes, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have called for action - or rather, for no action - from our navy boys. The sailors have been sent home to face the possibility of the sack rather than ending up in one. I'll make a wild guess and say that in offices all over the world, members of both sexes and all sexual persuasions have sized up the sexual form guide of those around them.

Surely all that was required was for the Rear Admiral or someone of a suitable rank to take the boys aside and tell them to pull their heads in? Did we really need the PM and the Deputy PM commenting on such things? Should we really be worrying about sex drive and an inappropriate sense of humour when judging suitability to be a sailor? If the navy finds that the now famous ledger had serious undertones or proof of any form of physical or mental abuse , then sack them. Otherwise, can we just leave these things to the ship's officer?

Being stupid is not a hanging offence - acting on such stupidity is. Knuckleheads have to constantly be reminded where a joke starts and ends - particularly in the armed forces, as a history of bullying would attest.


Compulsion to compromise in divorce preceedings leads to injustice and failure

Mediation or negotiation in family disputes, while attractive in principle, can often be ineffectual, and at worst, counterproductive. In the 1989 film, The War of the Roses, Barbara and Oliver Rose were in such extreme conflict over their dream house, they eventually killed each other. Only judicial intervention could have stopped the carnage.

The importance of dealing with divorce in the best possible way when one-third of Australian marriages fail is clearly crucial to the well-being of the community. Over the past 25 years, family disputes in Australia have been increasingly resolved through mediation and negotiation, rather than litigation. Since the mid-1990s, "Alternative Dispute Resolution" (ADR) has become the most common way to resolve family feuds.

In July 2007, the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act, took that one step further, heralding a major change in the way family mediation operates in this country. Today, nearly all divorcing couples with children are not just encouraged - but required - to take part in at least one session with a family mediator before an application for a parenting order can proceed in court.

This transition to compulsory ADR has been very fast when compared to the gradual changes normally characterising common law. Certainly a major factor for its rapid introduction has been the huge increase in the breakdown of family relationships, resulting in excessive workloads for courts.

But the major focus on the perceived benefits of ADR - its lower cost, speedier decisions and added control it offers disputants over disagreements and solutions - has come at the expense of recognising its problems. The rationale that parties who are initially unwilling to mediate will eventually settle is not only unsound, but does not deal with other goals in the civil justice system, such as truth, correctness, openness, transparency and accountability. The benefits of ADR are only valid so long as the procedure is truly voluntary.

In reality, parents often feel coerced into accepting shared parenting plans out of need, fear, ignorance, guilt or low expectations. Compelling parties to mediate fundamentally undermines both the fairness and effectiveness of the process to the point where it can be no longer legitimate. A good faith requirement exists in the 2007 amendment which includes the need for participants to make a ‘genuine effort' at resolving the dispute. Unless disputants are certified as making this ‘genuine effort,' they cannot proceed to a judicial decision.

But how do we measure the notion of ‘good faith' and ‘genuine effort'? And who has the responsibility for making such judgements? This is the most contentious aspect of the changes to Australian divorce laws. Some couples make very little effort to reach agreement, but are still issued with a certificate that allows them to proceed to court. They still want their ‘day in court' and only pay lip service to the need for ‘good faith' negotiations.

Family dispute mediators, for their part, aim to resolve a dispute, rather than assign blame. Some do not have the rigorous training and experience formerly held by court mediators. If they are to become family dispute resolution practitioners, weighing evidence and assigning blame, then they run the risk of duplicating the court system. Paradoxically, this leads to not only increased costs, but also to anger and resentment from the disputants, who have everything at stake.

True, there is provision to exempt certain cases from the compulsory nature of ADR, such as when domestic violence is alleged. But an informal exemption is not always sufficient to ensure that this never happens, especially as family violence is often kept secret. A survey conducted last year by the Australian Family of Studies found that a year after the amendment was introduced, many women with apprehended violence orders were forced into mediation with their partners, where further threats of abuse occurred.

What's more, anecdotal and preliminary statistics with family mediators suggests that the introduction of mandatory family mediation in Australia is counteracting one of its main objectives because we now have lower settlement rates than previously occurred. Once couples were compelled, rather than given a choice to mediate, only about 50% to 60% of them reached full settlement. That compares to around 80% when mediation was voluntary.

Recognising that the use of compulsory ADR in family mediation may need further consideration, a National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council will present a report to Attorney General Robert McClelland in September 2009 about the barriers and incentives of compulsory ADR as an alternative to civil proceedings.

The Government needs to be careful. Compulsory mediation is a contradiction in terms. As was the case with the fictitious Rose couple of Hollywood, certain cases can only be adequately resolved by judicial decision-making.

SOURCE. Further commentary here.

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