Another overseas doctor disaster at a government hospital
Under quite inexcusable circumstances. Government hospitals will take anyone and turn a blind eye if they need to
AN IRAQI-trained heart surgeon has reportedly had his contract terminated by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital after concerns about the standard of his work. Channel Nine journalist Dixie Marshall has revealed that SCGH had employed a Fremantle Hospital surgeon to review patient files belonging to Dr Jaffar Shehatha, who had been suspended from conducting surgery at the hospital since February.
In July, The Sunday Times reporter Anthony DeCeglie revealed that a top surgeon at SCGH claimed two doctors were conducting critical surgery without proper qualifications. In an article titled "Doctors in ops dispute", De Cegelie revealed that cardiothoracic surgeon John Manuel Alvarez lodged an internal complaint in which he claimed that last year he warned SCGH bosses that he feared two of his peers were under-qualified for the major surgery they were performing. At the time, The Sunday Times understood that some of the concerns related to whether or not the two doctors had passed specialist examinations.
An SCGH spokeswoman confirmed that Dr Alvarez had made complaints about the quality of some of his peers who were conducting critical surgery last year.
This morning, Marshall said that it was understood the investigation found significent deficiencies in the work of Dr Shehatha, who trained at the University of Baghdad and became a surgeon at SCGH in July 2008. According to Marshall, Dr Shehatha was meant to spend two years in the Royal Perth Hospital's training program but was asked to leave after one year because RPH surgeons believed he could not be trained.
Miners warn of huge job losses under Warmist laws
THE minerals industry has demanded Kevin Rudd overhaul his proposed emissions trading system or risk smashing Australian jobs and the nation's industrial competitiveness.
As the Prime Minister lobbied global counterparts for action on climate change in New York yesterday, the Minerals Council of Australia warned that his ETS plans were far too tough compared with new European Commission ETS proposals that emerged during the weekend. If Mr Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme went ahead, the council said, it would cripple the ability of Australian companies to compete against Europeans, costing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars and having no environmental benefit.
The dire warning came as Mr Rudd continued to express pessimism about the chance of a new agreement on global emissions reductions at the UN Copenhagen climate change summit in December. While he vowed the government would press ahead with its proposed ETS regardless of the Copenhagen outcome, fresh divisions emerged in the opposition, as the Nationals hardened their opposition to backing Liberal-framed amendments to the CPRS legislation.
Mr Rudd's plan to have the Senate consider his CPRS legislation before the Copenhagen meeting has split the Coalition. Most Liberals agree that if the Prime Minister goes ahead, they will reluctantly co-operate on amendments to make the legislation more acceptable to business rather than reject the CPRS for a second time and hand Mr Rudd a trigger for a double dissolution and an early election. But the Nationals and some Liberals oppose the CPRS outright, insisting it is risky to legislate for an Australian scheme without knowing whether big emitters such as China and the US will also embrace a trading scheme.
MCA acting chief executive Brendan Pearson yesterday backed the cautious approach, seizing on weekend proposals from the European Commission to attack the CPRS as a potential job-destroyer. Under the EC proposals, Mr Pearson said, 80 per cent of minerals producers and manufacturers would receive free permits, meaning the coal, aluminium, copper and non-ferrous metals industries would faced little cost. At the same time, 90 per cent of Australia's mining exports, by value, would be produced without any compensation. "While Australia's coalmining sector pays $5 billion in carbon costs over the next five years, the EU industry will pay nothing," Mr Pearson said. "While the Australian gold sector pays $810million, the comparable industries in the EU (and US) will face no or limited permit costs."
Mr Pearson said Mr Rudd's proposals would put Australia "completely out of step" with Australian industry's competitors, noting the EC proposed giving assistance to 164 industry sectors from 2013 until 2020. "The CPRS needs substantial revision to bring it into line with the approaches being adopted by our trading partners," he said. "Failure to do so will lead to the hollowing out of Australia's regions, as export industries slowly decline under the weight of a self-imposed carbon burden estimated at approximately $130bn over the next decade."
He said the EC proposal included a single, simple, trade-exposure test on industry. If firms met the test, they would qualify for assistance, irrespective of their emissions intensity. "The CPRS should be amended to include such a test," Mr Pearson said.
The call for a fresh look at the scheme came as Mr Rudd's weekend expressions of pessimism about an outcome in Copenhagen sparked further debate within the Coalition. Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said that if Mr Rudd believed Copenhagen would fail, he must delay a vote on the CPRS issue. Senator Joyce also said that Mr Turnbull should dump his willingness to negotiate with Labor on the issue. With Mr Turnbull overseas, acting Liberal leader Julie Bishop expressed concern that Climate Change Minister Penny Wong had proposed a Copenhagen compromise under which developing nations would not have to commit to cutting carbon emissions -- only to producing a schedule for future reductions. "This highlights the madness of Australia locking into an emissions trading scheme without knowing what the rest of the world will do," she said.
Stimulus was unbelievable waste, inquiry hears
An academic believes the Federal Government's approach to tackling the global financial crisis has been a waste of money and that the recession was part of the business cycle, a Senate inquiry has heard. The Senate is hearing from a number of academics to examine the impact of the Government's series of stimulus measures since October 2008 and whether economic circumstances warrant changes to the initiatives.
Professor Steven Kates from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology backed the Government's measures to support the banking system, but said interest rates should have been lowered further and taxation lowered. "But one thing you shouldn't do, you should not have this blanket expenditure as a stimulus - four per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) is an unbelievable amount of money," Prof Kates told the Senate Economics References Committee.
"That will not create growth and, in fact, wastes resources so comprehensively. "They are destroying our savings, they are going to push up interest rates, they are going to push taxation in the future, and may push up our inflation rate."
He said unemployment would have been 6.1 per cent now rather 5.8 per cent, calculating that the Government had spent $1.5 million savings each job.
Labor senator Doug Cameron said Prof Kates' comments had certainly embedded in his mind that you should never let an "academic economist run the economy". "Why have the IMF, the OECD, the ILO, the treasuries of every advanced economy, the Treasury in Australia, the business economists around the world, why have they got it so wrong and yet you in your ivory tower at RMIT have got it so right?" Senator Cameron said.
Prof Kates said the response to the crisis had been based on Keynesian economics that backs government intervention to stabilise growth during a downturn in a business cycle. "The use of Keynesian economics has been one of the great catastrophes for economic theory in the west," Prof Kates said.
Hostility to China re-emerging
The old "white Australia" policy of the early 20th century was in part a response to labor union fears about "the yellow peril" and the low wages it would bring
SIGNS of community concern over Chinese influence on Australian living standards are shaping up as a key domestic issue for the Rudd government as it struggles to mend its already strained relations with China. Home buyers in Melbourne, for example, are complaining that they are being frozen out of a tight housing market by Chinese purchasers who have no intention of living in their new properties. The influx of Chinese money on to the Australian housing market follows a relaxation by the federal government last March of its rules on foreign companies and temporary residents.
Liberal Party officials say uncertainty about this and the effect of Chinese investment in Australian industries are surfacing during the process for preselecting candidates for the next federal election, particularly in Victoria.
This coincides with the launch last week of a campaign by the left-wing Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union against Australia signing a free trade agreement with China. The cornerstone argument by the union is that a free trade deal will destroy thousands of Australian manufacturing industry jobs. The campaign launch by the secretary of the union, Dean Mighell, had the support of three lower house independents, Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who argued that the government should give the parliament a bigger role in evaluating the merits of free trade deals.
What was not revealed at the low-key affair in the Parliament House coffee shop was that controversial Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce had originally agreed to launch the campaign but had taken to his sick bed in Queensland with bronchial pneumonia. Joyce was an outspoken critic of the Chinalco-Rio takeover proposal and his involvement in this latest campaign throws up challenges to his party leader, Warren Truss, who is opposition trade spokesman, and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull because the FTA negotiations with China were initiated by the Howard government.
Joyce, who is regarded by many as the de facto head of the Nationals, has already crossed swords with Turnbull over the Coalition's response to the government's emissions trading scheme. Further tensions are likely to speed up a split within the Coalition that seems inevitable anyway by the end of the year.
Ironically, while the Australian government has been trying to push the FTA negotiations along, the Chinese have been dragging their heels with the 14th round of discussions yet to be scheduled. But what is certain to antagonise the Chinese if the ETU campaign gains traction is that in arguing against concluding the FTA it savagely attacks China's employment standards and its record on human rights.
Mighell says a union-commissioned report on the FTA, titled The China Advantage, is aimed at sparking public debate on its effect on the livelihood of Australians. It has sent the report to other unions across the country seeking support and has established a "save Aussie jobs" website to drive the campaign. "Astonishingly, there is currently very little public debate," Mighell says. "It is a social-justice matter that all Australians should be concerned about." He says the dangers posed by the FTA would not only be a threat to jobs "but also (affect) the employability of our children".
To broaden the political base of the campaign the union commissioned the FTA report from a conservative consultancy, CPI Strategic, headed by Rick Brown, a former adviser to Howard government ministers Kevin Andrews and Nick Minchin. The report criticises China's lack of labour rights and poor enforcement of regulations in relation to child labour, occupational health and safety and environmental protection, which it says gives the country a disturbing trade advantage, particularly in relation to manufacturing.
All this comes against a backdrop of increasing criticism of the Rudd administration by the government-owned Chinese media, particularly over its response to issues such as the detention of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu and protests by Chinese Muslim Uighurs.
That the ETU campaign is not endorsed by the Rudd government nor involves Labor MPs (yet, anyway) may not be enough to satisfy the Chinese in the present diplomatic environment. So it would not be surprising for them to expect a public rejection of the campaign by Kevin Rudd in the interests of closer trade co-operation. But the dilemma for the Prime Minister is how to finesse this without exacerbating the issue and potentially triggering a One Nation-type domestic backlash in Australia.