Thursday, September 24, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is incensed that the NSW government gave no warning of the big dust storm or any expert advice on what to do about it.

Nearly 100 "asylum-seekers" on latest boat

These are nearly always Afghans and the scandal is that the Feds take the "asylum-seeker" claim seriously. They had asylum as soon as they reached Pakistan, where there are now millions of Afghans living. These guys are the rich ones who could afford an airline flight to Indonesia and then pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers. They are no more refugees than my big toe is. They are economic migrants sneaking in the back door. Their low levels of literacy and other skills would not normally qualify them as acceptable migrants

AN Australian navy patrol vessel has intercepted a boat carrying 98 suspected asylum-seekers off Australia's north-west coast. The vessel was initially detected about 2am (AEST) today before it was intercepted after it entered Australian waters.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said HMAS Glenelg, operating under the control of Border Protection Command, intercepted the vessel at 5am (AEST) north-west of Christmas Island. The group will be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo security, identity and health checks as well as establish their reasons for travel.

More than 1400 people have arrived on 26 unauthorised boats so far this year, with the latest arrival taking the number of boat arrivals in the past two weeks to seven.

The arrivals have sparked a political row in Canberra, where the Opposition has accused the Government of going soft on border protection.


Jail wasted on juvenile offenders

If the jails were made more punitive and less like a holiday camp, the results would be different. Restricting meals to 1,000 calories a day would be a good start. Dieters live on that much but it is roughly half a demand diet

LOCKING up juvenile offenders appeared to have no greater deterrent effect on the rate of reoffending than lesser non-custodial penalties, a new study revealed.

The finding broadly contradicted two earlier studies, one which found juveniles given custodial sentences were more likely to reoffend and another which found lower reoffending rates for jailed car thieves but higher rates for those locked away for other offences.

The latest study, released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology, involved a detailed assessment of 152 juvenile offenders given detention sentences and 243 handed a non-custodial sentence, all in NSW. All were interviewed at length about family life, school performance, drug abuse and association with delinquent peers. "The results of this study suggest that, other things being equal, juveniles given custodial orders are no less likely to reoffend than juveniles given non-custodial orders," the study authors concluded.

The differing findings of the latest study were probably due to more detailed consideration of the juveniles' prior criminal records, they said.

On an average day almost 1000 young people were in custody across Australia, at a high cost to the community. In NSW, only 10.3 per cent of juveniles appearing in the NSW Children's Court in 2007 were locked up, but they accounted for almost half the budget of the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice.

Despite that cost, actual research on the impact of juvenile detention was scanty, with previous research conducted in 1974 and 1996. The latest study found about half of each group reoffended during the follow-up period, with mean time to reconviction about five months.

That is consistent with overseas studies which pointed to significant future penalties imposed on those who had served jail time, particularly reduced employment prospects.


Child "safety" in Victoria again

The Victorian government's child safety agency used to be the worst in Australia. These days it is probably third after NSW and Queensland. But that is still far from being any honour

THE family at the centre of the horrific abuse case has been let down by authorities for more than 35 years. Last week the Herald Sun revealed a Latrobe Valley man well known to welfare authorities and police had been charged with the rape of his daughter over 30 years, sexual abuse that allegedly produced four children.

Now the Herald Sun can reveal a five-year-old son of the man - the abused woman's younger brother -- died in 1973 in state care.

"There are people who have known about this family for a very long time who should rot in hell," one woman familiar with the case said. "(The surviving victim of the sexual abuse and her brother's) life would have turned out very differently had welfare and police done their job. "That's a tragedy. This should never be allowed to happen again."

The boy drowned at Half Moon Bay on a hot Sunday in February, 1973, during a trip to the beach with 16 other children from the nearby Victorian Children's Aid Hostel in Black Rock in the care of three hostel employees. The temperature that day was more than 30C, and documents show there were many people in the water as well as small sailing boats.

Coroner Henry William Pascoe held an inquest later that year which, including statements, runs to just 14 pages. Mr Pascoe found that the boy's death was "asphyxia from drowning and I further say such a death was misadventure". The boy's body was found floating 25m from shore, and surviving family members say the death was suspicious.

Two men standing near where the body was found were not identified, and inquest documents include no witness statements beyond those directly involved in the rescue attempts, despite the beach being busy. The only statements are from three carers - two who were supposed to be looking after the children, a man who brought the boy ashore, a police officer, a surf lifesaver, a doctor and a pathologist.

The boy had been in the care of the state for at least two years. His parents were not interviewed as part of the inquest, nor do documents indicate why he was in care. Documents held at the Victorian archives show one of the boy's siblings died the same year.

The Herald Sun also discovered documents showing another girl, who the mother claims died of cot death in 1968, in fact died while being taken to hospital by her father in a car. A doctor at the hospital was told the two-month-old baby had diarrhoea for the previous 24 hours and the mother told police the baby appeared unwell, but not seriously ill, about 5pm the day she died. At 7.30pm the dad was taking the girl to the Royal Children's Hospital, but she died on the way.

"Wife (had) told husband to take baby to hospital as she had a heavy cold," doctor David Roberts-Thomson, who would not sign a death certificate, noted in a statement after the death. The death was initially suspected to have been caused by gastroenteritis, but the doctor who conducted an autopsy attributed it to an acute respiratory infection.

Police claimed last week they couldn't investigate the family's concerns because the Herald Sun had not provided enough information.


Rudd has a bet each way on climate change laws

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has undermined his own argument that his emissions trading legislation must be passed before Copenhagen, admitting its defeat has not hampered his role in international climate-change talks. The Government has previously insisted the legislation's early passage is needed to maximise its muscle for Copenhagen as well as to provide business certainty.

But Mr Rudd, in New York for United Nations climate talks, drew on his recent Senate defeat to refute suggestions US influence is weakened by the stalling of legislation in the US Senate. ''Let me give you a parallel,'' he told CNN. ''Australia is very active in climate change … We are into these negotiations big time. But you know something? Our domestic emissions trading scheme was also voted down by our Senate a very short time ago. That doesn't impede me from being active in these negotiations, and my observations of President Obama is that it doesn't impede him either.''

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said Mr Rudd was ''telling Australians one thing at home and telling Americans another thing abroad''. Mr Rudd's statement to the Americans ''takes away his own argument for a [trading] system before the world comes to an agreement,'' he said. There should be global agreement first ''so as our action is not futile by merely acting alone''.

Mr Hunt said Mr Rudd's case for the legislation passing in November was also weakened by the shaky state of the international negotiations. ''Copenhagen is looking a little less certain. It is likely to be a process rather than an outcome on the day,'' Mr Hunt said. The US legislation was not likely to be passed until early next year, he said.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a speech at Monash University: ''The Government is determined to get its emissions trading legislation through.''

But acting Opposition Leader Julie Bishop said it would be ''madness'' for Australia to lock itself in before knowing what the rest of the world will do. Her strong wording comes despite Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's desire to cut a deal when the Government insists on a November vote - to head off a possible double dissolution.


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