Saturday, November 07, 2009

Rupert Murdoch voices his concerns about Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd is delusional if he thinks Australia can lead the world or act as a bridge between the US and China, according to Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corporation. He's very intelligent, he's very interesting, but he's kidding himself with the G20 - the grouping of the top 20 countries in the world, Mr Murdoch said.

"(President) Obama actually wants to cut the even more exclusive G8 to a G4 - and really, to a G2; just the US and China," Mr Murdoch said in a wide-ranging interview yesterday, the Herald Sun reports. "If Rudd thinks we can set an example for the rest of the world with a cap-and-trade system on greenhouse gas emissions - the ETS - all it would do is push up the cost of living in Australia and the rest of the world will laugh," he said. But is it hurting the country yet? No. But the Prime Minister should focus on running Australia.

Mr Murdoch said many difficulties had arisen from Mr Rudd making so much in the election campaign about his knowledge of China. It probably led the Chinese to expect too much from him, he said. "But I think he was right to disillusion them," he added immediately. And any idea that Australia could be a bridge between China and the US, that's "certainly delusional".

In another interview, Mr Murdoch has told The Weekend Australian that Mr Rudd is wasting time on spats with the media. Mr Murdoch's concerns follow public disagreements between Mr Rudd and editors at News Limited newspapers, including The Weekend Australian. "He's oversensitive and too sensitive for his own good," Mr Murdoch said. "I've said that to him, sympathetically. Politicians all over the world are paranoid about editorials and in their own interest they would be better employed reading something else, or albeit more laid back about it, put it that way."

Mr Rudd has accused News Limited of running vendettas against him and his government, citing things such as The Australian's scrutiny of the Rudd Government's "education revolution" and other stories, such as the Godwin Grech fake email affair.


Sea rise much slower than predicted

SEA levels on Australia's eastern seaboard are rising at less than a third of the rate that the New South Wales Government is predicting as it overhauls the state's planning laws and bans thousands of landowners from developing coastal sites. The Rees Government this week warned that coastal waters would rise 40cm on 1990 levels by 2050, with potentially disastrous effects. Even yesterday Kevin Rudd warned in a speech to the Lowy Institute that 700,000 homes and businesses, valued at up to $150 billion, were at risk from the surging tide.

However, if current sea-level rises continue, it would not be until about 2200 - another 191 years - before the east coast experienced the kind of increases that have been flagged. According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Meteorology's National Tidal Centre, issued in June, there has been an average yearly increase of 1.9mm in the combined net rate of relative sea level at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, since the station was installed in 1991. This is consistent with historical analysis showing that, throughout the 20th century, there was a modest rise in global sea levels of about 20cm, or 1.7mm per year on average.

By comparison, the NSW Government's projections - based on global modelling by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as CSIRO regional analysis - equate to a future rise of about 6.6mm a year. Such a projection has caused widespread concern for landowners and developers, derision from "climate sceptics" within the scientific community and even some head-scratching from Wollongong locals such as Kevin Court, 80.

"I have swum at this beach every day for the past 50 years, and nothing much changes here," Mr Court said yesterday as he emerged from the surf at Wollongong's North Beach, just a short paddle from the Port Kembla gauging station. "All this talk about rising sea levels - most of us old-timers haven't seen any change and we've been coming down here for decades. "A few years ago part of the bank at the back of the beach was eroded. But you look at it now, and all the grass has grown back over it. The water hasn't washed back there for years. "And that's nature. It's up and down, it comes and goes in cycles - nothing dramatic."


Incompetent African doctor stood down from public hospital

The cases of incompetent overseas doctors in Australian public hospitals never stop coming -- despite all the checks that are supposed to be done. Why? Because Australia does not train enough of its own doctors and public hospitals are desperate for staff

AUTHORITIES will investigate a doctor over concerns he was not fully qualified for his job and examine why it took a month for knowledge of a past criminal charge to reach the top. Queensland Health stood down Zimbabwe-trained Dr John Chibanda over concerns he was working outside the scope of his credentials at Emerald Hospital. The matter will be investigated by both the Health Quality and Complaints Commission and the state's Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Dr Chibanda, an Australian citizen, had previously worked at Katherine Hospital in the Northern Territory without incident. He started work in obstetrics at Emerald Hospital in late 2007 and was supervised due to the level of his experience. After complaints about the standard of his work around August 2008, he was stood down from obstetrics, but continued to work in emergency and other general areas of the hospital. He was again investigated after further complaints in May this year, and a Google search in late September turned up a criminal charge for fraud in Zimbabwe.

Health Minister Paul Lucas said Dr Chibanda was challenged about the information - which related to the fraudulent supply of a death certificate for insurance purposes - and he claimed the conviction had been quashed. "However, the form that one is required (to fill in) when one seeks registration as a doctor in Queensland clearly requires ... that one disclose not just criminal convictions but if one has ever been charged with a criminal offence," Mr Lucas said.

"I want to make it crystal clear. "I expect there to be a full and rigorous investigation of these matters. "If there is anyone who has misled, if the wrong thing has been done, then there will be no forgiveness, no mercy, there will be very, very strong action."

About a dozen complaints were made about Dr Chibanda - some from patients and some from nurses - but none relate to deaths or permanent injuries.

Also under investigation is why it took about a month for his criminal history to be reported to the top, with Queensland Health's centre for healthcare improvement chief Dr Tony O'Connell saying he only became aware of the matter this week.

Mr Lucas said the appropriate checks through medical bodies and referrals were done, in addition to an earlier Google search that had failed to pick up the fraud matter. "I would have thought that we would be bending over backwards to check these things," Mr Lucas said. "I would have thought that the relatively modest things that you can do in addition to the rigorous checks would be second nature, and I want it investigated as to why this happened."

Dr O'Connell said "a few dozen" obstetrics cases handled by Dr Chibanda and hundreds of other cases would be reviewed. Patients with concerns about treatment by the doctor were urged to come forward. Dr Chibanda is the second doctor to be stood down from Emerald Hospital within months. A doctor at the hospital was suspended in September over a disciplinary matter.


State headed for dumb, immoral future, warns teacher

And such problems are far from isolated to Queensland

A BRAVE Queensland teacher has spoken out against thousands of students and their parents who couldn't care less about education. Cooper Dawson, who has taught at 12 state primary schools across the Gold Coast and Cairns, says levels of apathy, petty crime and disrespect in classrooms are now so bad that Queensland faces a dumbed-down and immoral future.

While most teachers fear going public with such opinions, Mr Dawson, 38, says breaking the silence about pathetic learning attitudes and behaviours – often triggered and passively supported by parents – might be the only way to stimulate much-needed change. "As a teacher in an industry where the burnout rate is five years, I am taken aback, astounded and shocked by the behaviour and disinclination of students to learn," he said. "We are facing a generation of single-minded children equipped with little academic knowledge (through no fault of teachers) and wavering morals determined to ask or steal from society any tangible item. "And, remarkably, they believe they deserve it.

"The social behaviour of primary school children is hard to ignore when faced with the growing epidemic of school bullying and student suspensions. "Children from negative households and with parents who are disinterested or fail to see the importance of education are contributing to a cycle where their child is entering a world without the tools to become a positive part of society."

His view, backed in private by many teachers, principals and parents across the state, supports figures released by the State Government this year showing a 46 per cent spike in suspensions for "refusal to participate" from 2006 to 2008 (with 6620 last year). Over the same period, there was a 40 per cent spike in suspensions for "property misconduct" (with 3785 last year).

Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Association president Margaret Black said Mr Dawson's revelations and the suspension data were a reminder to parents and teachers to work together to solve the crisis. "There's nothing more powerful than a three-way (parent/teacher/child) partnership," she said.

A rapid rise in schoolyard bullying, including cyber-bullying, has also been documented this year, with an average of three students in each class bullied every day.


It's Rudd's fatal shore

Andrew Bolt comments on the illegal immigrants who come to Australia on overcrowded small boats -- some of which sink. The "Fatal shore" is an allusion to the fact that many of the original British immigrants to Australia died on the way because of the primitive sailing-ship technology of the time

TWELVE more dead. Now will the Rudd Government finally see that its "compassion" kills? The sinking on Sunday of a boat carrying Sri Lankan asylum seekers brings to 54 the number of boat people who have died this year trying to reach us. Yes, 54. That's the price of the "compassion" this Government showed last year by weakening the laws that once deterred boat people from risking their lives like this.

And don't tell me I have no right to be angry. I've warned a dozen times, in print and on air, that people would die as a consequence of what Rudd had done. Just last week I showed that 42 boat people had died already in sinkings off Malaysia and Indonesia, and in an explosion at Ashmore Reef, proving the Government had again deceived you in claiming there was "no evidence" of these deaths. Now we have these latest deaths - including two boys - and more will die, too, unless this deceitful and opportunistic Prime Minister undoes the mischief he has wrought.

No, I do not blame Rudd directly for these deaths. He didn't man the boats or sink them. But I do blame him directly for luring people into such lethal voyages through his sheer foolishness, political opportunism and vanity. And I blame him for then deceitfully disclaiming all responsibility.

Let's first nail the worst of those deceits - his claim that he's actually been "tough" on boat people, and this year's 12-fold increase in arrivals has nothing to do with his policies: That it's outrageous to suggest that he's luring people to their deaths. Well, look at the graph on this page, taken from the website of his own Department of Immigration.

See the circle? I've added that to mark the date in late July last year when Rudd revealed his most dramatic changes to the boat people laws. And see the number of illegal immigrants caught and detained immediately soar? Draw your own conclusion.

As for Rudd being "tough" on boat people, let's check what he actually did that day to instead persuade them their luck was in, and Australia once more a soft touch.

Rudd had already scrapped the temporary protection visas, which allowed us to send back refugees who'd got here by boat once their countries were again safe. He'd also scrapped the "Pacific Solution", under which boat people were sent to Nauru and Manus Island, with no guarantees they'd ever be let into Australia. And on July 29, he sent the biggest signal of all to show that unlike wicked John Howard, he was compassionate. Automatic detention of boat people was over. From now on, children and adults cleared of security risk would no longer be held. They'd be free to stay at large while the government worked out if they really were refugees. What's more, the onus of proof would be switched: rather than making boat people prove they were no threat, the government would have to prove they were to keep them in detention.

How the Left cheered! How journalists praised. How rights activists sighed they could feel proud again. And how the people smugglers pricked up their ears.

Rudd denies he went weak, but this is how his grand gesture in July was hailed at the time by constitutional law expert Professor Clive Williams, a human rights activist and candidate for Labor pre-selection, who summed up well the mood in Rudd's ranks: "A clear break has been made from the Howard era ... this risk-based approach is more compassionate ... "

Rudd was warned against this "clear break", of course, and not just by some who-cares journalist. The Australian Federal Police, the International Organisation for Migration and Indonesian officials all said it gave people smugglers a green flag.

Look at the graph again: he had. Or ask boat people themselves if they'd seen this signal - people who'd waited in Indonesia for months, even years, for some such sign. An Iraqi told the ABC: "Kevin Rudd - he's changed everything about refugee. If I go to Australia now, different." An Afghan told The Australian: "I know Kevin Rudd is the new PM ... he has tried to get more immigrants. I have heard that if someone arrives it is easy."

But Rudd was too intoxicated with the easy praise to heed such warnings. Too pleased with this chance to damn the Liberals as the nasty party which put children "behind barbed wire". Oh, how easily Labor preened and mocked back then, and how feebly the spineless Liberals took it.

In the very month that Rudd watered down the laws, the Labor head of a joint parliamentary committee on migration toured the detention centre at Christmas Island and declared it "an enormous white elephant". Michael Danby said his committee agreed with him, and was now wondering what to do with Howard's "stalag". Could they turn it into a tourist centre, perhaps?

Still laughing, Michael? Thanks to the great wave of boats unleashed in large part by your boss, this "stalag" at Christmas Island is so crammed that Rudd is now having to double its size, and has rushed over dongas once intended for Aboriginal communities.

Of course, Rudd is trying to dodge any blame. Here's his latest spin to explain the surge in boats: "What we're faced with in Sri Lanka is 260,000 people displaced because of the civil war." More deceit, I'm afraid. In fact, that war ended in May with the defeat of a terrorist group the Tamil Tigers. Sri Lanka is now safer, not more dangerous, both for the Tamils and Sinhalese there.

While it's true that some Tamils, especially those connected with the Tigers regime, are now trying to leave Sri Lanka, not least for economic reasons, it's also true that many of the 78 rescued Tamil boat people now refusing to leave our patrol ship Oceanic Viking have said they'd actually left their island years ago, and have spent up to five years in Indonesia, waiting for this chance to sail here. And let's not forget that many of the boats now coming are filled not with Tamils but Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis and even, it seems, some Sri Lankan Muslims.

But it's the lie of Rudd's "compassion" that most needs puncturing before more people die. LET me give just one more example of how misapplied "compassion" can actually kill. The Oceanic Viking Tamils were rescued by Australia last month after issuing a fake SOS from their ship, after reportedly drilling holes in the hull. Likewise, 42 Afghans were rescued in April at Ashmore Reef and even granted permanent residency here after blowing up their own boat, killing five.

How compassionate we were both times. And foolishly so, in the case of the Afghans, who can now stay despite refusing to say which of them set off the deadly explosion.

But now check the price of this compassion. The Government has just ordered a coroner's inquiry into the deaths on Sunday of the 12 Sri Lankans to find why their boat suddenly capsized off the Cocos Islands, just as they and 27 others were about to be rescued in Australian search-and-rescue territory. Why the inquiry? Because some of those involved in the rescue claim the Sri Lankans may have deliberately sunk their own boat. Plus, of course, an inquiry lets Rudd say "no comment" in the meantime.

Yes, it's nice to seem good. But it's far finer to actually do good, even if it makes you look bad. Kevin Rudd chose last year to seem good, but with the dead now bobbing in our waters, he must be judged instead by the deadly consequences. What has his "compassion" - of a flashy kind so common in this Age of Seeming - actually brought?


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