Tuesday, October 27, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is critical of Kevvy's "Indonesia solution" to illegal immigration

Black gang-rapists get sympathetic judge

THREE men repeatedly gang raped a teenager during a horrific nine-hour ordeal but a judge yesterday ruled the trio were not "depraved monsters". The men, Zambian nationals Tyrone Chishimba, Likumbo Makasa and Mumbi Peter Mulenga, were found guilty of aggravated sexual assault without consent after a 15-year-old was repeatedly raped at a unit in Hurstville in August 2006.

During the three-month trial, the court heard the intoxicated girl, who cannot be identified, passed out at the unit and later woke up to find one of the men having intercourse with her, while the other two watched.

During sentencing submissions yesterday, a judge said the trio were guilty of serious crimes but were not depraved monsters, before sentencing them to at least three years in jail. Attorney General John Hatzistergos last night ordered a copy of the transcript to be sent to him and will discuss the possibility of an appeal with the DPP.


The latest Greenie attack on ordinary people

They want to evict everyone from waterfront properties "for their own good" -- because of allegedly rising sea-levels

MORE than 80,000 buildings on Victoria's coast may be at risk of rising sea levels, but Liberal frontbencher Tony Abbott isn't worried. Mr Abbott says he is unconcerned that beachfront areas of his northern Sydney electorate may be inundated by rising sea levels caused by climate change. Sea levels had risen along the NSW coast by more than 20 centimetres during the past century, the Liberal frontbencher said. "Has anyone noticed it? No, they haven't," he told reporters in Canberra today.

Mr Abbott, whose electorate of Warringah takes in Manly, Harbord, Dee Why Curl Curl and Balmoral, on Sydney's north shore, was responding to a parliamentary inquiry report which canvassed the option of forcing people living near the coast to move from their homes as climate-induced sea levels rose. Australia had the resources to cope with the issue in "the normal way", he said. "Ask the Dutch, they've been coping with this kind of thing for centuries and they seem to manage."

In Victoria, the Western Port region is especially vulnerable amid estimates that 18,000 properties valued at almost $2 billion are in the danger zone. And the effects of storm surges, heatwaves and insect-borne diseases associated with climate change are likely to increase the nation's mortality rate.

The alarming forecasts emerged last night in a new report tabled in Federal Parliament by the all-party House of Representatives Climate Change, Environment, Water and the Arts Committee. Titled Managing our Coastal Zone in a Changing Climate: the Time to Act is Now, the 368-page report urged the Federal Government to take greater charge of protecting the nation's coastline in co-operation with state and local governments.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said today a rise in sea levels would cause a big re-alignment of coastal housing and other buildings. "(Climate Change Minister) Penny Wong herself has said that up to 700,000 properties are threatened this century by rising sea levels on the eastern Australian seaboard," he told reporters. The government and opposition should be looking at how they would prevent people settling in areas threatened by rising sea levels in coming decades.

Senator Brown had some advice for people already living in areas likely to be under threat. "Assess your future and become active with the Rudd Government and the Opposition who simply don't get the need for action on climate change."

Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said the inquiry's finding revealed a "complete disconnect" between science and the climate change policies of Labor and the coalition. "This is not just for people on the coast, people who live on estuaries are extremely vulnerable as well," she said, urging householders to check their insurance policies to ensure they were covered for storm damage and flooding.

It is estimated 80 per cent of Australia's population lives in coastal areas and 711,000 addresses lie within 3km of the coast and less than 6m above sea level.

Expert evidence to the committee estimated one metre of sea level rise this century - the upper limit of expectations - would drive the shoreline back 50-100m, depending on local wind, wave and topographical features....

Today. senior Liberal senator Eric Abetz admitted he had not read the report, but hoped it was based on sound information. Sea levels were unlikely to rise overnight, he said, "So, we've still got some time."

Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said sea levels had been rising for about 10,000 years. "And if you wait around they'll cover the flood plains of the major capital cities," he told reporters, adding that a "massive new tax" from an emissions trading scheme (ETS) would not stop the sea rising. He accused the government of "grossly exaggerating" the effects of climate change to get its package of ETS bills approved by parliament.


Labor party claims credit for work of previous conservative government

NEARLY three-quarters of projects claimed by the Rudd government as evidence of its delivery of major new infrastructure were conceived by John Howard. But Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese has defended the government's record, saying its infrastructure investment is on track and has insulated the economy against the effects of the global recession.

Mr Albanese faced opposition ridicule last night after rejecting Business Council of Australia concern about infrastructure provision by saying the government had completed 32 big road and rail projects since taking office late in 2007.

However, Nationals leader and former transport minister Warren Truss scoffed at Mr Albanese's list of projects, insisting at least 22 were the work of the previous government. Mr Truss said one -- the upgrading of the Bruce Highway at Gympie in Queensland -- had been completed in the same month the government took office in November 2007.

Describing Mr Albanese's claims as "astonishing", Mr Truss said: "Labor is bereft of original thought. "No amount of spin covers up the fact that the Rudd Labor government is spending $5 billion less on road and rail than theCoalition committed before the election."

In opposition, Labor campaigned heavily on infrastructure, accusing the Howard government of having failed to reinvest the fruits of the 1990s resources boom in infrastructure, leading to export bottlenecks. After taking office, the government created the independent Infrastructure Australia organisation to audit and prioritise infrastructure needs. Earlier this year, IA announced $22.5bn in funding for a range of major projects, also appealing for greater private sector effort.

Yesterday, the BCA released a report noting that only 14 per cent of government spending on economic stimulus had been devoted to productive economic infrastructure and pointing to its continuing concern about the need to address export bottlenecks.

Mr Albanese said the government and the business community were "talking the same language" and investment in road and rail had been instrumental in insulating the Australian economy.

The minister said the government had completed 32 large-scale projects in its first two years in office, slightly modifying a claim in parliament last week that the government had "announced, built, completed" the 32 projects. Asked yesterday to name the 32 projects, Mr Albanese produced a list of 29 road and rail projects from all Australian states.

But Mr Truss said at least 22 of the claimed projects had been announced, commenced or even completed by the Howard government. "The biggest infrastructure reform that this government has undertaken is to rename a number of successful Coalition programs or shuffle funding around others," Mr Truss said.

Last night, Mr Albanese's spokesman said Labor had never claimed to have originated all of the projects, only to have delivered them. Earlier, Mr Albanese told question time that Labor was spending more on rail infrastructure in 12 months than the previous government spent in 12 years. "During the Howard years, public investment in the nation's infrastructure, as a proportion of national income, fell by close to 20 per cent," the minister said.

He said 70 per cent of government stimulus spending had been dedicated to infrastructure, including $4.7bn towards the national broadband network, $3.5bn in clean energy infrastructure, $16.2bn on schools and $6bn on housing. "The largest growth in social housing in Australia's history is occurring right now," Mr Albanese said. "We also have a longer-term investment when it comes to infrastructure development with the $36 billion we have allocated in road and rail infrastructure through the Nation Building program -- some $9.3 billion is under way right now," he said.

Opposition acting infrastructure spokesman Scott Morrison backed the BCA report, accusing the government of having overlooked "shovel-ready infrastructure projects". "Under Labor and Kevin Rudd, economic infrastructure has taken a back seat to old-fashioned Labor spending on social infrastructure," Mr Morrison said. "Labor's reckless spending has meant they have wasted a once-in-a-generation opportunity created by the economic legacy of the Howard government to invest in our nation's economic infrastructure."



Three current articles below:

Teachers failing the maths grade

STUDENTS in almost 60 per cent of high schools are being taught by unqualified teachers, with mathematics one of the worst-hit subjects. The disturbing number of teachers working in areas outside their expertise has been uncovered in a special survey of 1473 principals across Australia.

One in five schools in NSW said they had at least one maths teacher who was not fully qualified. Other subjects shown to be suffering from a lack of specialists include technology, computer science, languages, science, music and special education.

The shock figures emerged as more than 30,000 Year 12 candidates sat the HSC General Mathematics paper yesterday and a leading maths educator warned Australia was slipping behind other countries.

The Australian Education Union said its survey showed schools faced major problems including serious shortages of teachers qualified in key subjects and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. "(It) found that because of the shortages 59 per cent of secondary schools had teachers working outside their area of expertise," AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos said. "We need a long-term plan to address the chronic problems with the supply of teachers. "It is not good enough to have unconnected initiatives that do not go to the fundamental issue of how we value and reward teachers."

Principals were also asked what they believed the Rudd Government's main education priority should be. Twenty-eight per cent said increased teacher numbers. None suggested computers for Year 9-12 students, a policy plank of the Government.

One of the state's top maths students in the 2008 HSC, Ahmad Sultani (Parramatta High School) said maths needed a much better image in the early years of high school. Mr Sultani, now completing his first year at UNSW, said the subject should be promoted more vigorously to students.


School heads to get more control

STATE education departments should hand control of school finances and the power to hire teachers to principals and school boards, reversing a century of bureaucratic stranglehold over the running of schools. A federal government report, released to The Australian, argues that the starting point in school governance should devolve decision-making to the school level, allowing principals to respond to the individual needs of the students and their communities. The only place for centralised control over schools should be in setting frameworks for curriculum and standards and, in exceptional cases, where a school believes it is more efficient for decisions to be made by the department, such as for very small schools and those in remote areas.

Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard yesterday backed the broad directions outlined in the report, saying the Rudd government was already pursuing the measures in its education reforms. "School principals should have the autonomy to make more staffing and salary decisions to help tackle local problems like poor literacy and numeracy," she said. "It is important principals have the support and flexibility they need to respond to the needs of their students. The creation of the first national education authority responsible for curriculum, assessment and reporting provides a solid framework for greater principal autonomy."

The report highlights the need for principals to be trained as managers to run the business of schools, and Ms Gillard said the new Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership formed by the commonwealth, states and territories would fulfil that role in developing the tools and support required.

The release of the report, commissioned by the previous federal government, comes in time for a national forum hosted by Ms Gillard next month, giving individual school principals a rare opportunity to speak directly to the government about its education revolution. Announcing the forum at the weekend, Ms Gillard said she wanted to have a "national conversation with school principals about the challenges they are facing on the ground".

The report identifies widespread support among principals for greater autonomy, with a large proportion wanting greater involvement in the selection and management of staff and their performance and greater flexibility in the allocation of school budgets. "There is a general acceptance of the view that a degree of autonomy is necessary if schools are to respond to the expectations of their communities and the mix of student needs in the local setting," it says. "Principals accept the need for accountability and seek to exercise a higher level of educational leadership. "(But) administrative support for government schools is inadequate given expectations for schools and in comparison to the support for principals in most independent schools."

In Australia, state and territory governments give varying degrees of autonomy to schools within a framework of standards and accountability, with Victoria giving principals the greatest control and NSW the most rigid centralised system.

The report notes that, as a result, there are less innovative approaches to school autonomy in Australia of the kind gaining momentum in other places around the world, such as the charter movement in the US of publicly funded and privately operated schools, usually run by local communities, and the academies in England, of privately run and funded schools operating as public schools. "New governance arrangements should be established to allow federations of schools to be established and greater creativity should be encouraged in the development of new kinds of schools that will have higher levels of autonomy ..." the report says.

"(It) shall provide schools or several schools planning together with a range of options to traditional patterns of governance, including federations of schools to share resources and other innovative governance arrangements. After more than a century of operations in which the 'default position' has been 'centralisation', a new default position of decentralisation should be adopted, with exceptions to be based on local and regional circumstances. "The default position should remain at centralisation in establishing frameworks of curriculum, standards and accountabilities."

It says the most effective model for school autonomy has "direct school involvement in the selection and performance management of staff, the deployment of funds in a budget that covers real costs in all aspects of recurrent expenditure, adaptation of curriculum and approaches to learning and teaching to the needs of the school's community, and choice in determining the source of support required by the school".

But it says autonomy should not permit schools to change the selection of students, such as enrolling only smart students and excluding students in their local catchment area.

The report says any system must allow individual schools flexibility in the level of autonomy they think is appropriate, saying that a one-size-fits-all approach will not be successful. "The extent of autonomy in each instance may be varied according to exceptional circumstances," it says.

The report, commissioned in 2007, calls for decision-making to be simplified and a reduction in the compliance and paperwork demanded of principals. It says school budgets should reflect the actual salaries paid to teachers rather than the average.


Teachers accused of sexual misconduct missed by government screening system

TWO private school teachers under investigation for sexual misconduct against students were able to walk into state school jobs without background checks. One teacher was accused of further misconduct in the state system before Education Queensland learnt of the original allegations, 18 months after the teacher was hired.

The cases, which allegedly occurred at Brisbane and Gold Coast schools, have highlighted flaws in Education Queensland's teacher screening system. The teachers were not required to reveal whether they were under investigation when they applied for jobs in the state school system.

Documents obtained under Right to Information laws show Education Queensland only became aware of the alleged misconduct when the teachers were referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission by the Queensland College of Teachers in September last year. One teacher has been sacked and is facing court action. The other has resigned. The QCT is investigating six other alleged inappropriate relationships.

The State Opposition has labelled the screening process for teachers a "disgrace", accusing the Government of putting the rights of teachers before student welfare. "It's not acceptable they can slip through (the net) and turn up teaching somewhere else while they're under investigation," Opposition Education spokesman Bruce Flegg said.

The RTI documents show one of the teachers was under investigation following allegations he "inappropriately touched a student, breached the student protection policy, carried on an inappropriate relationship with one of the students, (and) allowed students to engage in behaviour that could have exposed them to physical harm" while working at a Brisbane Catholic school. The Courier-Mail understands the teacher subsequently resigned, before taking up a position at a state high school. This teacher has since been sacked and the matter is before the courts.

In the second case, the teacher resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct at a Gold Coast Catholic school, only to be given full-time work at two state high schools during which time the teacher was accused of further misconduct. That teacher has since resigned.

An internal investigation by the State Government's Ethical Standards Unit recommended in October last year that the Department of Education and Training "urgently undertake a risk assessment process to determine the appropriateness of retaining these officers in their current teaching roles". It found hiring processes "do not require an applicant to declare outstanding or incomplete investigations". "The department does not have any jurisdiction to investigate the conduct of employees prior to their engagement . . . and cannot be held accountable under the department's Code of Conduct for his alleged behaviour whilst employed in the private school sector."

Education Minister Geoff Wilson refused to be interviewed but said in a statement that he "understands" additional checks were now being undertaken. They include a disciplinary investigation by a past or present employer and police check.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a real ramping up of the "Climate Change" scare stories lately. Kerry O'Brien on the ABC is one of the worst offenders when it comes to pimping climate change for the Rudd/Brown/Obama governments' future tax base additions.