Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not ready for women on frontline

All Australian army recruits these days are volunteers so it is my view that if a woman is accepted into the infantry she should be willing and able to perform all infantry duties. Unwavering scrutiny on whether she is able to perform all infantry duties should be expected before she is accepted however. Having lower standards for strength and stamina should not be permitted. My Australian army contacts tell me that a lot of female soldiers are lesbians so many may have masculine physical traits -- JR

By Sally Morrell

EVERY now and then the feminist mantra I preach to my daughter - "Women can do anything men can do" - gets exposed as spin. Yes, she can be the prime minister of Australia, I tell her. Yes, she can run a top 10 company and be a world-leading scientist if she wants to. But "anything"? She'll never play for Richmond, she'll never join the Melbourne Club and I used to think she'd never be able to serve on the frontline of a war.

But that last one might be about to change. Defence Personnel Minister Greg Combet last week said a new centre of expertise at Wollongong University would study the physical requirements for modern soldiering and the results would help our defence force decide who could serve where, "regardless of gender". And that means our female soldiers could get one step closer to fighting alongside men on the frontline, rather than be kept in support or - at best - restricted to "kill at a distance" fighting. Rather than see the enemy from the safe distance of a TV monitor or electronic sights, women may then get up close and personal. Whites-of-their-eyes stuff.

And that's when my "women can do anything" mantra goes all wobbly. Part of my sudden attack of sexism - and the least important - is that when I think of a woman going head-to-head with an enemy soldier, I picture an average woman. Smaller than the average man. But the woman who puts her hand up for this sort of gig is not going to be average. It would be a very small group of the women in the army now who are champing at the bit to fight one-on-one with the Taliban, and I'm guessing they don't have the build or delicate sensitivities of perfume counter assistants.

Maybe they can indeed carry a heavy pack as far as their male colleagues. Maybe they can shoot someone dead in the firefight with just the same lack of hesitation or compunction. If they can do all that, why are they being stopped from doing what they want to do?

But it's not about their physical suitability really, is it? In fact, it's not even about their psychological ability to handle the killing jobs that for millennia have been men's work. It's actually about the psychological ability of the rest of us to deal not just with women doing the killing, but with women - our women - being killed. Or even simply captured.

Let's be frank. A captured woman will have it a lot tougher than a captured man. Who can forget the horrific plight of the Dutch "comfort women" the Japanese captured in World War II?

Nor am I sure if we could endure the sight of little children crying as the coffin carrying their mother is brought out of an RAAF Hercules. This really isn't about whether women are strong enough to fight, but whether the rest of us are strong enough to endure their death or capture. I'm not sure if we are or not.

But if we can be sure that no woman is sent to fight that didn't specifically ask to go, then nobody should stop her. They best know the risks, and we must honour not just their sacrifices but their judgment.


Greenie nonsense killed people in fire

A Greenie council has blood on its hands

RESIDENTS in one of the areas devastated on Black Saturday were not allowed to clear highly flammable, noxious tea tree on their land because it was classified as native vegetation by the local council, the royal commission into the bushfire disaster has been told. Peter Wiltshire, who suffered serious burns and damaged airways trying unsuccessfully to save his home at St Andrews on February 7, said yesterday the tea tree, known as burgan, was "extremely flammable and lets off gases in heat". Wildfire from burning burgan on a neighbouring property created enough radiant heat to cause a horsefloat at one end of his house to instantaneously burst into flame.

But the local Nillumbik Shire Council stopped landowners clearing burgan without applying for permission, Mr Wiltshire said. "They call it native vegetation and we are not allowed to clear it without a permit. It is probably the most noxious and flammable material. It really is a pest and dangerous."

Mr Wiltshire, who is chairman of the St Andrews Country Fire Authority brigade, said a massive fireball that engulfed his house and caused window glass to melt was fuelled by "black gas" above tree-top level. He suffered serious burns to his face and both arms, had damaged airways from inhaling heated air and smoke and spent 24 hours in an induced coma in hospital after escaping with his wife and daughter from their blazing home.

Twelve of the 173 people who died on Black Saturday were killed in St Andrews.

Tasmanian Fire Service fire management planning officer Mark Chladil told the hearing that Victoria's decision to allow people to automatically rebuild on the sites of their former homes using only the new national bushfire building code was "somewhat risky". Sites needed to be fully assessed for bushfire threat using the full gamut of planning issues, said Mr Chladil, who is also a member of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council. "To be blunt, rebuilding at the moment would be somewhat risky in each of these places without considering the range of siting, water supply, access, vegetation management options as well as building options," he said. "There are going to be sites where it will be seen as foolhardy to have rushed in and rebuilt in the same place without addressing these issues." The social welfare benefits of allowing survivors to rebuild as quickly as possible could be better met by providing each family with an individual building assessor to advise them on rebuilding, Mr Chladil said.

Earlier, the inquiry was told that an essential handbook vital in ensuring the effectiveness of the new national building standard would not be available until at least the end of the year. Barry Eadie, the head of the Standards Australia committee that developed the new bushfire building standard hastily introduced after February 7, said the new code would not save houses without the companion handbook, which gave crucial advice about such things as planning, water supply, access and maintenance of landscaping and vegetation. [It's common sense among the bureaucrats that is needed, not more unreadable official bumf]


A public hospital for possums??

THIS photograph was taken in the intensive care unit at the ailing Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital. Staff found the brush-tailed possum sitting among open boxes of face masks, gloves and surgical sponges, its faeces scattered across the counter. It was sent to the Herald only days after one of the state's most senior health bureaucrats denied claims the hospital had a big problem with possums, known to spread deadly golden staph and e.coli infections. The photo was taken in 2005 but staff say possums have been plaguing the hospital for more than a decade and are removed weekly from wards and offices.

Desperate for help, they sent the picture to the Health Department at the time it was taken but the warning went unheeded. And one senior official used it as a point of laughter to show visitors to his office. After the possum was found, staff in the intensive care unit locked up medical supplies but say maintenance workers regularly move the animals to boxes in trees within the grounds. ''The one in the intensive care unit is not an isolated case. It's par for the course around here,'' one doctor said.

Possums, which have a lifespan of 15 years, can carry deadly diseases easily transmitted to humans, including Lyme disease, leptospirosis, rickettsia and mycobacteriosis, which can cause abscesses, fistulas, headaches, vomiting and renal failure. Their faeces can carry the gut parasite cryptosporidium and their urine can cause breathing problems for asthmatics.

Any animal in a hospital was a health risk but some, such as possums, were known to spread superbugs such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, said an infectious diseases expert at Canberra Hospital, Peter Collignon. ''Allowing a wild animal, which scavenges far and wide, to contaminate gloves and surgical equipment is obviously a real problem.''

The chief executive of the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service, Matthew Daly, last week rejected allegations that the hospital had been neglected but did not deny continuing possum problems. All reports of possum urine had been addressed, he said. ''Possum nests were in a derelict buildings and were subsequently removed,'' he said.

Up to six possums might live in the roof space of a family home, but more than 25 would probably be found in a hospital, said David Bennett, the owner of a possum removal service in Adelaide. ''You definitely wouldn't want them in a hospital. And unless you get an expert in, there is no way to keep them out. They are highly territorial and will immediately return to where they were.''

A spokeswoman for the area health service said yesterday the present management was not aware of the photo and an inspection of the hospital last week found no evidence of possums in wards or patient areas. ''All such reports are taken seriously and are dealt with at the time,'' she said. [What utter bulldust! A problem known since 2005 has still not been dealt with]


West Australian police throwing their weight around again

But a court took a proper view of the matter with a negligible penalty for the "offender". The strange priorities and waste of resources are undoubted, however. They could have just cautioned him to watch where he was going if there were any real concerns. This is probably Australia's most hated police force because of its record of malpractice and brutality. See here for some instances

BRENTON Green was monkeying around when he donned a costume to entertain city shoppers, but the stunt backfired when he was arrested and tossed in the lock-up. Dressed as a monkey, Mr Green, 21, attracted the attention of two police officers on bicycles as he paraded among Perth shoppers on Sunday afternoon, hugging people, posing for photos, waving and dancing.

When the officers interrupted his show in front of about 40 onlookers and asked for his name, he responded by shaking his head and making strange sounds. The second time police asked for his name, Mr Green replied: ``Monkey''. The officers responded by pushing him against a shop window and handcuffing him in front the stunned audience.

Mr Green said the idea of Monkey's Day Out had been spawned from the Free Hugs campaign phenomenon - the story of Sydney man Juan Mann, who has led a mission to hug strangers to brighten up their lives. People worldwide from Sydney to Helsinki to Tokyo and London have now joined the Free Hugs movement, but police in some cities have ordered the campaign be banned, amid public liability concerns.

WA Police spokesman Sgt Graham Clifford said officers intervened after seeing the monkey man bump into several people and knock a hamburger out of another man's hands. Police said Mr Green failed to give them his name by ``continually shaking his head and making squeaking noises''.

Mr Green was taken to the East Perth police lock-up and was charged with failing to comply with a police request. He was bailed, with the condition not to return to the city. But as he walked to the train station, the same arresting officer, re-arrested Mr Green, claiming he had breached the conditions of his bail. He spent Sunday night in the East Perth lock-up.

``I thought it was pretty ridiculous, I thought it was some sort of a joke. And then he put the cuffs on me and I just couldn't believe it,'' Mr Green told PerthNow today. ``I was in police custody for over a day. ``Last night I saw four stories on the news with people getting bashed, home invasions...what are they doing wasting their time arresting me when they could be spending it dealing with more serious crimes.''

Mr Green's mate Brad Hurle, who filmed the arrest and posted the footage on YouTube, said he was angered at the police response. ``It's a bit ridiculous that police locked him up when there are real criminals out there,'' Mr Hurle said. ``There was absolutely nobody that had a problem with him. Everybody got a kick out of it. It was just a feel-good thing to create a bit of love, but the police put a stop to that. ''

Mr Green appeared in Perth Magistrates Court yesterday charged with failing to comply with a request given. He was released with a spent conviction, a three-month community release order and ordered to pay $60 in court costs.


One reason why your dental bills are so high

Official regulations make dentists pay sky-high prices for the equipment and supplies that they use

DENTISTS are allegedly being shown how to access unregulated overseas markets to obtain cut-price dental equipment which is not being scrutinised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The Port Macquarie dentist Jeremy Rourke conducted a series of capital city seminars in May, titled ''Work SMART = Grow RICH: Profiting from every minute''.

He charged dentists $770 each for the one-day course, promising to show participants ''how it is possible to 'DOUBLE production and TRIPLE profitability''.

Although the Herald is not suggesting Dr Rourke is acting illegally, one professional who attended a Sydney seminar on May 18 told the Herald she became angry and walked out when he began showing participants how to access sites such as Made in and eBay, where dentists could directly import dental equipment and materials for a fraction of the price of Australian-made goods.

Under TGA regulations, all dental products and materials, local or imported, must be listed on its register before they can be used on patients. But concerns have been raised by the dental supplies industry that the practice of dentists accessing unregistered products from unregulated Asian markets has become widespread.

Raymond Shroot, the NSW president of the Australian Dental Industry Association, which represents suppliers of dental equipment, said anyone seeking to import a medical device could easily bypass the TGA's scrutiny, because there was no requirement for the importer to quote an Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods listing number.

''To get anything that is listed with the TGA through customs you should have to quote that number on the customs clearance form, but that hasn't been the case,'' Mr Shroot said. ''We've been told the TGA is unwilling to changes its practices.''

Dr Rourke told the Herald he had done nothing illegal. ''I simply tell dentists there are websites where there are items available but I make them aware that anything used in patient treatment has to go past the TGA.''

Dr Rourke denied that by showing dentists how to access cut-price unregulated equipment, he was educating them on how to avoid TGA regulations. ''You can show someone where the murder section of a library is, but that doesn't make you a murderer because you've shown them where to get the information, does it?''

The Australian Dental Association has dismissed concerns raised by the local dental supplies industry, accusing it of scaremongering to protect its business. When asked last week if he was aware of any dentists importing equipment not listed with the TGA, the national president of the association, Dr Neil Hewson, said: ''I've got no idea, how would anyone know they're doing it … we can't monitor everything our 10,000 members do.''


1 comment:

Building Supplies said...

A real eye opener on the state of state hospitals!