Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Army fined for cadet's peanut allergy death

This is pretty ridiculous. Its undoubted outcome will be to remove peanuts from all military rations and all foods sold to children. But peanuts and peanut butter are favourite foods for kids. Why should one kid with a problem be allowed to deprive all kids of something? I would have called the death a "death by misadventure". The kid surely knew he had an allergy and should have been more careful. And the parents should have made enquiries about what rations he would be served

THE Australian Defence Force has been fined more than $210,000 over the death of a teenage cadet who had an allergic reaction to peanuts in a ration pack meal. Scotch College student Nathan Francis, 13, died after suffering a severe allergic reaction to peanuts in his meal on March 30, 2007. The Melbourne boy was taking part in a Scotch College army cadet unit exercise in the Wombat State Forest in western Victoria.

Comcare, the Commonwealth occupational health and safety authority, took action in the Federal Court against the Australian Defence Force, lodging a writ last June. Justice Tony North said the case was "every parent's worst nightmare".


Muslim values at work -- in Australia

A man used a butcher's knife to stab his stepdaughter up to 20 times because he believed she was a "slut" who was interfering in his marriage, a court has heard. Khaled Ibrahim Mohamed Ellaimouny, 38, was today jailed for 12 years for the attempted murder of his stepdaughter Amanda Lee Smith, who was 24 when her stepfather stabbed her in the chest, arms, legs and face as she sat on the lounge of the family's Shailer Park home in January 2007.

In the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Crown prosecutor Philip McCarthy said Ellaimouny, an Egyptian national who married Ms Smith's mother after meeting her online, moved in to the Smith family home in January 2006. Mr McCarthy said Ellaimouny, who worked as a chef at a restaurant in the Logan area, got along well with his stepdaughter until late 2006 when he discovered semi-nude photos of her and her boyfriend on a family computer and began referring to her during arguments with Ms Smith's mother as "the slut daughter."

Following marital troubles in late 2006, Ellaimouny moved out of the home. He met with his wife at a local tavern on January 14 and told her to choose between him and her daughter, whom he claimed was interfering in their marriage. He later turned up at the family home where during an argument he spat in Ms Smith's face and slapped her before she and her mother locked him out of the house. However Ellaimouny got in through a side door, grabbed a butcher's knife with a 21cm-long blade from the kitchen and screamed "Now I'm going to kill the bitch" before stabbing and slashing Ms Smith's chest and arms, Mr McCarthy said. "You've ruined my f---ing life; I want you to die," Ellaimouny reportedly said.

Friends of Ms Smith arrived at the house as Ellaimouny was leaving, covered in a blood and carrying the bloodied knife. He allegedly told them: "I stabbed the slut. I wanted to kill her, but unfortunately she's still breathing."

Ms Smith was taken to hospital where she was treated for 20 wounds, including a severed radial artery of her right arm, severed nerves and a 4cm gash into her lung cavity.

Mr McCarthy said Ellaimouny told his wife after the incident: "I stabbed her because she's a f---ing slut, she deserved that. All I wanted to do ... just get rid of her." On the first day of his trial today, Ellaimouny pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder and a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, which related to him sending a letter from jail encouraging his wife to convince Ms Smith not to proceed with charges against him.

Justice John Byrne said the attack upon Ms Smith was "frenzied and sustained" and would have been "a terrifying experience for her." "She is fortunate to have survived," he said. He sentenced Ellaimouny to 12 years behind bars and declared him a serious violent offender, which means he must serve 80 per cent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. He will be deported to Egypt upon his release.


Up to 10,000 Asian refugees expected to head to Australia

"Asia" apparently includes the Middle East these days. More of those lovely Muslims to hate us while sponging off us

A MASSIVE influx of up to 10,000 asylum seekers is expected to head to Australia, Indonesian authorities have warned.

About 1500 asylum seekers have already arrived in Indonesia from Malaysia by boat this year and registered for refugee status, while the same number again are believed to have arrived and not registered, Fairfax newspapers report.

Malaysia is used as a staging point to obtain tourist visas before refugees seek passage to Australia via Indonesia. The refugees are believed to include people from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and Iraq.

An Australian immigration enforcement official says the high volumes of people present a similar situation to the thousands who began arriving in the late 1990s.

With Australian financial and technical support, the Indonesian government will announce on Wednesday a strike team of 12 dedicated police to combat human trafficking. But the sheer number of asylum seekers from Malaysia will put pressure on the new security measures.

Coordinator of the Malaysian immigration support group Tenaganita, Aegile Fernandez agreed that up to 10,000 asylum seekers in Malaysia were planning to come to Australia. "I would put the blame on these agencies that have been promising Australia as the destination,'' she said.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has 49,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers in its records in Malaysia and estimates there are 45,000 unregistered illegal immigrants.


Queensland teachers can fail literacy, numeracy test

Talk about the blind leading the blind! It's bad enough that some kids go right through primary school without learning to read and write but having teachers that bad is really the end of the road. It shows how desperate the government is to find people willing to stand up in front of an undisciplined mob day after day

Graduate teachers will be allowed to repeatedly fail a new test of their literacy and numeracy skills and still be let loose in Queensland classrooms. The State Government will not cap the number of times the test can be taken and will register graduates as teachers as long as they eventually pass. The landmark new test, recommended by education expert Geoff Masters, is being introduced to improve the low standards of Queensland students.

Premier Anna Bligh said it was fair to allow graduates to sit the test repeatedly because they may be sick [Sheet! No matter how sick I am I can still spell!] or have other excuses for their poor showing. "I don't anticipate there would be any limit on the number of times someone can sit, as long as they can ultimately meet the standard," Ms Bligh said. "I think we understand that there are sometimes reasons why people don't do well in tests. They might know the information but might not be well that day. "You would still want to give them the opportunity to demonstrate that, but it wouldn't be the same test."

The Government is yet to figure out what would constitute a pass mark for the tests [It will undoubtedly be low], which will judge proficiency in literacy, numeracy and science. However, a trial will be conducted next year before the official introduction of testing for primary school teaching graduates at the end of 2011 at the earliest. Tests for high-school teaching graduates will be introduced at a later date.

Current teachers will avoid the tests but those transferring from interstate will have to sit the exam before they can practise in Queensland. The Queensland College of Teachers will be responsible for developing and administering the tests.

In his report, Professor Masters found there had been an "absolute decline" in literacy and numeracy between 2004 and 2007. Meanwhile, teachers are ramping up their campaign for higher pay, with a vote today likely to call for further industrial action. The Government has offered teachers a 12.5 per cent pay increase over three years. However, the union has insisted the amount was unacceptable. [The government should fire the lot of them and bring in local retired people to teach. They would know a lot more than the current crop of teachers]


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unimpressed by the Bruno/Rudd appearances on the Rove TV show. He thinks Rudd is not "fair dinkum"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Qld scientists claim swine flu vaccine breakthrough

Scientists at the University of Queensland have developed a vaccine for swine flu. The breakthrough against the influenza A(H1N1) virus will be announced at the university's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology tomorrow.

Five Australians with swine flu have died while more than 3000 have been diagnosed. "It's one of the first swine flu vaccines made but, unfortunately, it can't be used in Australia yet," a university spokesman said. "It's not registered for use in Australia yet."

Meanwhile, scientists from CSL say its Melbourne laboratory has created an effective sample of a vaccine against the influenza, but human trials are needed to determine the right dosage and may not be available until next winter. Fairfax Media says the federal government has ruled out releasing the vaccine early to vulnerable groups such as the elderly or those with chronic illnesses.

Rachel David from CSL said results of the trial - involving 240 healthy adults from South Australia - would determine when the 10 million doses ordered by the government would be distributed. Dr David said the earliest the vaccine would be ready for use is mid- to late-August, but if the virus continued to produce mild symptoms the government might delay distribution until next year. The Therapeutic Goods Administration, the government and public health experts, not CSL, would control when the vaccine is available.

All five people who have died in Australia with swine flu - two Western Australians and three Victorians - had underlying health conditions.


Oh dear! Such a funny man. Wise of Rudd to be apprehensive

KEVIN Rudd may have been spared from sharing the Rove Live spotlight with Austrian fashionista Bruno last night, but he nonetheless claimed to be nervous just knowing the flamboyant icon was in the building. "Basically, I'm in a state of induced panic," the Prime Minister told Rove McManus during his appearance on the comedian's show last night, The Australian reports. Pointing to the audience, he added: "Each one of you would be, too."

Asked what had happened to the political adviser who booked him on the Ten Network prime-time show on the same night as Bruno, the alter-ego of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, Mr Rudd was candid. "Well, they're in therapy," the Prime Minister joked.

Mr Rudd said he had only found out who else would be on the show after he had already agreed to appear. "I said, 'Are we on together? Like, you know, in the studio at the same time?"' he said.

Mr Rudd, who first appeared on the Ten talk show in the lead-up to the 2007 election, certainly had reason to be concerned - Bruno was not only a hard act to follow, but had also expressed a personal interest in meeting the Prime Minister. "That guy - I saw him backstage - so hot," Bruno told McManus. "You guys have got the hottest Prime Minister."

Bruno then proceeded to fantasise - aloud - about "Ruddy". "It's our 15th anniversary together," he wondered aloud. "Me and Ruddy have adopted two children together. He's massaging my feet in the bath. It could never happen. Could it?"

While waiting in the green room, Mr Rudd would have learnt much about the style thoughts of Bruno, whose eponymous film opens in Australia on July 9. Hitler's personal style, for example, was well-dressed, but "apparently, behind closed doors, he was like a real tyrant - worse than Elton".

He then went into great depths discussing McManus's nether regions. "I haven't seen that much hair since the 80s," Bruno said.

SOURCE. More antics here.

No jail time for killing a woman??

This is preposterous. It is plea-bargaining gone mad. But even after the plea bargain, a jail term could have been imposed

A SECOND man charged over the cruise ship death of Dianne Brimble has pleaded guilty in a Sydney court to involvement in the incident. Letterio "Leo" Silvestri, from South Australia, pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre District Court today to concealing a serious indictable offence.

Ms Brimble, a 42-year-old Brisbane mother of three, died 100 nautical miles out to sea on board the P&O liner Pacific Sky in September 2002. She had ingested a toxic mix of alcohol and the date-rape drug known as fantasy. Her body was found in a cabin belonging to Silvestri, Ryan Kuchel and one other man, who were also charged after a 16-month inquest into Ms Brimble's death.

Last week, Kuchel also pleaded guilty to hindering a police investigation. Kuchel was sentenced to an 18-month good behaviour bond. Kuchel and Silvestri had both been due to face trial in the NSW District Court today charged with perverting the course of justice. Lawyers for Silvestri said the trial could have lasted up to four weeks.

Judge Greg Hoskins has adjourned the matter until 2pm (AEST) while he sees if a pre-sentence report investigating sentencing options can be obtained for Silvestri.


Food fanatic father

I suppose this is one endpoint of the "obesity" war. He sounds like a bit of a nut but you can't entirely blame him for believing all the tripe about "obesity" that is constantly poured out in the media these days

A COURT has banned a Victorian father from weighing his son. The Family Court orders also prevent the dad discussing the nine-year-old's weight with, or within earshot of, the boy, the Herald Sun reports. The man could face sanctions including fines or jail if he breaches the order and a series of others set by the judge.

Justice Nahum Mushin imposed the restrictions at the end of a bitter 16-day custody hearing where the child's health was a major flashpoint. The court heard the dad is fixated on the fact his disabled son's weight exceeds 40kg, and he blames his ex-wife for the blowout. The father - who can't be identified for legal reasons - accused the mother of allowing the boy to watch too much television, eat fatty foods and exercise little.

He was concerned the child's weight was having an impact on the effectiveness of various medications. The boy suffers from a range of medical problems. The mother accused the man of denigrating the boy about his weight, and of using his size as a reason to criticise her.

Doctors and teachers trying to care for the boy were alienated by the man's aggressive behaviour, the court heard. The man's conduct to the child's main doctor was "harassing, aggressive and confrontational", the court found in a judgment published last month. The dad - who wanted his son to change schools - also wrote "derogatory, dictatorial and sarcastic notes" in a diary to a teacher, the court heard.

The judge ruled the children should live with the mother and granted her sole responsibility for decisions about the boy's health and education.

Justice Mushin described the case as "extremely protracted and bitter". "There is enormous antipathy between the parties. Throughout this trial I searched for, and could not find, any point of convergence between them with regard to their parenting," he ruled.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Indian community outraged over lenient jail terms for thugs

The thugs should have been convicted of attempted murder and spent years in jail for it. Sadly the token sentences they actually received are all too typical. No wonder violent crime continues to flourish. This will be a big blow to Australia's standing in India and may just about kill off our overseas student industry. Indian students coming to Australia to complete their education has so far been a considerable source of revenue for Australia

Notice that, contrary to usual practice, no names of the offenders are given. I can't imagine why. I'm guessing that there was at least one "Mohammed" among them and the the surnames would have been mainly Sudanese

The Indian community has reacted with outrage after a magistrate ruled that the young thugs who beat an Indian man almost to death will walk free after serving only six months. On Wednesday, Magistrate Kay Macpherson said five teenagers acted "like a pack of animals" when they bashed Indian student Sukhraj Singh in December and left him in a coma for three weeks. But she sentenced four of them to only 12 months' youth detention - meaning they will be eligible for parole within weeks after serving more than six months on remand. Another youth involved in the attack escaped custody, instead being sentenced to a 12-month youth attendance.

One of the youths - who at 14 already had an earlier conviction for armed robbery - had been involved in 12 violent incidents since he had been on remand, Ms Macpherson noted in sentencing him.

Mr Singh was initially speechless when told of the sentences. "I don't understand this at all," he said.

But a source revealed that all four of the youths had been involved in violence while on remand at the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre. The source said the youths had been kept apart at the centre. "We would have had no hope of controlling them if they had been together," he said.

Mr Singh was bashed by the gang in December in a grocery store in Sunshine. The five youths, then aged between 14 and 17, were originally charged with attempted murder over the attack, which fractured Mr Singh's skull on three sides. But the attempted murder charges were dropped when the five agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of intentionally causing serious injury. The five also pleaded guilty to armed robbery over the attack. Another man and a youth have pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and will be tried later.

Indian community leaders reacted with outrage to the leniency shown by the court. "What sort of a sentence is this?" said Vasan Srinivasan, president of the Federation of Indian Associations, Victoria.


Amazing: Government of Victoria imports the trash of the world's social workers

There is a unending stream of stories coming out of Britain detailing the sheer evil of British social workers -- and we want that garbage in Australia? Their attitudes stem from the Marxist hate they learn in their social work schools: The middle classes are the enemy and the "worker" can do no wrong. Too bad if the occasional child get brutalized and killed. Victoria shouldn't be touching such animals with a bargepole. I regularly post horror stories about British social workers on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Thank goodness the recruitment drive was largely unsuccessful

THE Brumby Government has spent more than $500,000 of taxpayer money in five months to recruit health workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland and fly them to Victoria. The Department of Human Services alone spent $457,051 to lure 50 child protection workers from England, Ireland and Scotland in a recruitment campaign launched last October. But by last March only 19 European child protection staff had started work in Victoria, with a recruitment cost of more than $24,000 per person on top of an average annual salary of $49,800. And at least three have since returned home, citing "personal" or "medical" reasons.

The DHS spent $224,000 on advertising, $134,000 to relocate workers to Australia and more than $1300 on a welcome party, documents obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun through Freedom of Information reveal. Community Services Minister Lisa Neville flew business class to the UK for a "welcome event" celebrating the success of the scheme - racking up a $52,000 bill in the process. Ms Neville defended the spending, saying the Government had taken action to recruit desperately needed staff and expand services. "We make no excuses for trying to find the best people to help stand up for vulnerable Victorians," she said.

Opposition community services spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge said the move was a "stop-gap solution" to a major problem. "Here we are at a time when the Government is trying to promote our workforce and they're bringing in these workers from overseas," she said. "They're spending all this money to bring in offshore workers when they have known about the problems for years and failed to act."

A Government spokeswoman, Peta James, said that as of last week there were 31 child protection workers recruited from overseas in Victoria - seven in regional areas and 24 in Melbourne. She said four more were likely to arrive by the end of July. The workers, recruited from London, Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Belfast, have been offered two-year contracts in the hope they will stay in Victoria and then train Australian graduates.

The Government paid their immigration and citizenship fees, airfares and short-term accommodation costs to convince them to move to Victoria. Information and interview sessions held in the UK to recruit them cost $91,189. Two DHS staff sent to oversee the process lodged expense claims for almost $15,000.


Rudd reform 'won't reduce child abuse'

VULNERABLE children in the care of dysfunctional or abusive families will be no better off under the Rudd government's revamped child protection program because the reforms make it harder to remove minors from their parents. The planned expansion of child abuse prevention programs could inadvertently lead to more children dying while in the custody of unfit family carers, according to a report by Centre for Independent Studies research fellow Jeremy Sammut.

"Fatally Flawed: the Child Protection Crisis in Australia", argues that seven-year-old Ebony, who was starved to death in 2007 by her parents, could have been saved if not for the failed child protection ideologies that kept her with her dysfunctional parents. "They (the government's proposed reforms) are actually a plan to leave more children with dysfunctional parents for longer, at great risk of long-term harm, on the highly questionable basis that family support services will keep them safe," [What a laugh!] Dr Sammut writes.

Under the umbrella of the recently released National Child Protection Framework the Rudd government has endorsed a multi-million-dollar expansion of programs to help struggling families. But Dr Sammut says there is no evidence this approach works. "A radical family preservation-focused approach to child protection has become orthodox practice inside child protection agencies," he writes. "According to this approach, the best way to protect vulnerable children is to defend parental rights, keep families intact, and try to prevent abuse and neglect by providing support services which attempt to address the parents' complex problems. [What if the problem is simply that a particular parent is a nasty bastard? But Leftists seem to think that all criminals are simply "misunderstood". Too bad about the people they hurt] "This has led child protection agencies, which in most states are sub-departments of much larger departments of community services, to become increasingly confused about their core responsibility to intervene in the best interests of children."

Dr Sammut said child protection academics routinely argue that mandatory reporting, introduced in the 1990s and making it compulsory for professionals and the public to report any suspicions of child abuse, has been responsible for overwhelming agencies and should be wound back. In NSW, only 13 per cent of complaints are followed up with a home visit. But far from being a failure, Dr Sammut argues it has been a spectacular success.

"Mandatory reporting has mass-screened disadvantaged families, capturing an increased level of dysfunction in Australia's expanding underclass of welfare-dependent families which have serious problems including domestic violence, parental drug abuse and mental illness," he says. "The most at-risk children have been identified and re-identified, mostly by mandatory reporters."

In NSW, a quarter of all the hundreds of thousands of child abuse reports are triggered by only 2100 families. Half of the reports are accounted for by only 7500 families. "A relatively small hard core of dysfunctional parents retain custody of their children, and are re-reported 10 and 20 times, because child protection agencies fail to take the appropriate statutory action in thousands of high-risk and potentially catastrophic cases. This was the case for Ebony," Dr Sammut says.

Despite a widespread belief that a lack of funding is crippling agencies such as DOCS, Dr Sammut says money "is not the problem". According to his report, government spending on child welfare is at record levels, having quadrupled in a decade. At the same time, child abuse continues to soar, with substantiations of abuse having doubled since 2000.

Dr Sammut argues the only way forward is for state governments to establish child protection agencies separate from departments of community services. "To do this job properly you need a whole range of skills, good assessment abilities, deep knowledge of child development, as well as the skills of a policeman. Instead, we unleash first-year graduates on the community."


Later retirement age in Australia creates anger

FORCING older workers to wait until they are 67 to qualify for the age pension has little public support, a new poll has revealed. Under the plan announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan in last month's Federal Budget, the pension qualifying age will be gradually stepped up from 65 in 2017, to reach 67 by 2023. The move, which has the political backing of the Opposition, follows concern about Australia's capacity to pay age pensions into the future, given its ageing population.

But a Galaxy poll, conducted exclusively for The Courier-Mail, has found less than a third of Queensland voters – only 28 per cent – agree with the decision. Of the 800 voters surveyed, 69 per cent opposed the increased pension age, while 3 per cent were uncommitted.

Seizing on the poll result, the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association yesterday demanded the Government abandon the move. Policy co-ordinator Charmaine Crowe said it would force more elderly Australians into poverty. "It's going to disproportionately disadvantage those on low incomes," she said. "Cleaners, people in the hospitality industry, construction workers, landscapers, truck drivers . . . These people may not have the physical capacity to continue working full time."

Ms Crowe said unless they qualified for a disability pension, those older Australians would be forced to rely on the "grossly inadequate" Newstart allowance - a maximum of just $226.30 for a single person. She said those who lost a job or couldn't find an employer willing to take on a 65 or 66-year-old would also be forced on to Newstart.

Echoing that concern, 61-year-old Brisbane factory hand Alphonsa James said the politicians who decided to lift the pension age were pen-pushers, who did not understand the toll it would take on ageing workers in physically demanding jobs. "I don't think I would be able to make it until 67," he said. "It's putting more strain on your body and you're going to kick the bucket very, very quick." Mr James, whose parents both died in their 60s, said he was hoping to reach his retirement age in reasonable health so he would have a few years to enjoy his grandchildren.

But defending the higher pension age, Mr Swan has highlighted the longer life expectancy of today's retirees – with an average Australian man likely to live for more than 19 years after retirement by 2017, up from 11 years of retirement a century ago.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics report last year also found older workers were slightly healthier compared with their non-working counterparts. The report found mature age workers – aged 45 to 74 – had lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia is also supporting the move, predicting a saving of about $800 million a year in pension payments alone. CEDA chief executive David Byers said two more years in the workforce could deliver a huge boost to retirees' personal retirement savings, increasing their quality of life in the later years.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Most "asylum seekers" since Tampa heading towards Australia

Wishy-washy Rudd has revived the flow that Howard stopped

THE biggest boatload of asylum seekers since the Tampa crisis is heading towards Australia. The vessel, believed to be carrying up to 190 people, is being tracked by border protection authorities. It recently passed between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra and is believed to be southeast of Bali. Authorities are waiting to see if it heads east towards Darwin or southwest towards Ashmore Reef.

The boat is one of several being monitored by Border Protection Command, which tracks suspect vessels as soon as they leave port. If the numbers aboard are as high as authorities believe, the vessel could mark a turning point in the tactics of people smugglers.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor's office declined to comment, saying it did not discuss operational matters. Most boats in recent times have carried about 20 unauthorised arrivals. But there are bigger profits to be made by smugglers who are willing to load more people aboard old fishing boats and ferries.

The Norwegian freighter MV Tampa rescued 433 asylum seekers from a leaky boat in 2001, prompting the Howard government's so-called "Pacific Solution". The policy was dismantled by the Rudd Government, which axed mandatory detention and closed processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island. It has also stopped billing immigration detainees for the cost of their stay.

The number of unauthorised boats heading to Australia has been steadily climbing, with 15 arriving already this year. The latest came this week, carrying 49 asylum seekers and four crew. The asylum seeker surge will test refugee processing facilities on Christmas Island, which are reportedly close to capacity.

Opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone said the Government was failing to deter boat arrivals. "It's on for young and old again," she said. "The people smugglers clearly have a well established pipeline to Australia and they are using the Rudd Government's soft policies to recruit more clients."


Unions getting aggressive again

They know that Rudd hasn't got the ticker to really take them on

UNIONS have flagged plans to beat Julia Gillard's ban on pattern bargaining by lodging multi-employer pay claims and taking co-ordinated industrial action after the new workplace regime starts operating next week.

Employers warned the union strategy was de facto pattern bargaining, increasing their "trepidation" about the new laws, which they said represented "big increases in union power".

At the recent ACTU Congress, union leaders were briefed by a senior official about how they could get around the ban on pattern bargaining.

ACTU senior industrial officer Cath Bowtell said unions were "disappointed we were unable to see the pattern bargaining provisions in the act, (but) we shouldn't overstate what they do".

"There is nothing that prevents unions lodging common claims and even taking co-ordinated industrial action, provided you are genuinely bargaining with each employer," she said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry said employers should be concerned by Ms Bowtell's comments. "That sounds a bit like pattern bargaining by another name," the chamber's workplace policy director, David Gregory, said.

Business expected unions to start pushing for single agreements to cover a range of different employers, he said.

"There is this ability for a single agreement covering a whole range of employers to be established. You would have to think that probably some unions are looking strategically at those sorts of outcomes in terms of the way they co-ordinate claims."

The recent union criticism of the Fair Work Act was a "smokescreen" to camouflage gains by unions, he said.

"These are, by any measure, significant changes in terms of what they introduce, right through from no more statutory individual agreements to all of the things around bargaining and agreement making.

"With the right of entry provisions, unions now won't necessarily need to be bound by an award or an agreement at a workplace to seek to exercise those rights."

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said some employers were better prepared than others for the new laws, but "there is a general sense of trepidation about what the changes will mean in practice".

"While some of the hard-won amendments wound back some of the sharper ends of it, there is no doubt employers are going to face a very different industrial landscape with big increases in union power," she said.

The legislation had been "a massive drafting exercise and the law has not yet been tested and settled", Ms Ridout said.

"As problems arise, AI Group will be raising them with the government and seeking amendments to the legislation and regulations where necessary. Parliament needs to remain open to necessary changes."

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said he could not judge how fundamental the new laws would be in swinging the pendulum back to unions. "This is a restoring of the balance, and Labor industrial relations legislation has always been about regulating the conduct of employers and setting out certain rights that workers have," he said.



As in America, the Senate is the crucial battleground

As the US Congress considers the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Australian Senate is on the verge of rejecting its own version of cap-and-trade. The story of this legislation's collapse offers advance notice for what might happen to similar legislation in the US-and to the whole global warming hysteria.

Since the Australian government first introduced its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation-the Australian version of cap-and-trade energy rationing-there has been a sharp shift in public opinion and political momentum against the global warming crusade. This is a story that offers hope to defenders of industrial civilization - and a warning to American environmentalists that the climate change they should be afraid of just might be a shift in the intellectual climate.

An April 29 article in The Australian described the general trend-and its leading cause.
There is rising recognition that introduction of a carbon tax under the guise of "cap and trade" will be personally costly, economically disruptive to society and tend to shift classes of jobs offshore. Moreover, despite rising carbon dioxide concentrations, global warming seems to have taken a holiday....

With public perceptions changing so dramatically and quickly it is little wonder Ian Plimer's latest book, Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, has been received with such enthusiasm and is into its third print run in as many weeks. [It's now up to the fifth printing.]

The public is receptive to an exposé of the many mythologies and false claims associated with anthropogenic global warming and are welcoming an authoritative description of planet Earth and its ever-changing climate in readable language.

One of the most remarkable changes occurred on April 13, when leading global warming hysteric Paul Sheehan - who writes for the main Sydney newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, which has done as much to hype the threat of global warming as any Australian newspaper - reviewed Plimer's book and admitted he was taken aback. He describes Plimer, correctly, as "one of Australia's foremost Earth scientists," and praised the book as "brilliantly argued" and "the product of 40 years' research and breadth of scholarship."

What does Plimer's book say? Here is Sheehan's summary:
Much of what we have read about climate change, [Plimer] argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modeling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as "primitive."...

The Earth's climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth's climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable-human-induced CO2-is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly.

In response, this is Sheehan's conclusion: "Heaven and Earth is an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." This cannot be interpreted as anything but a capitulation. It cedes to the global warming rejectionists the high ground of being "evidence-based," and it accepts the characterization of the global warming promoters as dogmatic conformists.

The political impact has been manifested in a series of climb-downs as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government has been forced to delay its plans for cap-and-trade controls. On May 4, the government announced it would postpone the onset of the scheme until mid-2011, a year later than originally planned.

On June 4, this delayed emission trading scheme passed the House of Representatives despite a vote against it by the opposition. But it now faces almost certain defeat in the Australian Senate. Whereas the Labor government controls 32 votes in the Senate, the opposition Liberal-National coalition controls 37 and is committed to vote against it if the Rudd government will not grant more time to consider the outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference in December and US Senate deliberations. This itself is a compromise position, because many of the coalition parliamentarians now want to vote unconditionally against an ETS in any form.

There are 7 other votes in the Senate: five Greens who say the scheme doesn't go far enough but who could be induced to go along; one independent, Nick Xenophon, who has pledged to vote against the bill unless the government waits till after Copenhagen; and one other, Senator Steve Fielding of the Family First Party, who has decided to investigate the whole thing first hand. Fielding could turn out to be the single deciding vote.

His story is particularly interesting. Andrew Bolt, who has been leading the charge against the global warming hysteria for years, notes that Fielding's investigation "could blow apart the great global warming scare."

Fielding went to the US to assess the American evidence for global warming at close quarters. As Melbourne's Age reported on June 4:
Senator Fielding said he was impressed by some of the data presented at the [US Heartland Institute's] climate change skeptics' conference: namely that, although carbon emissions had increased in the last 10 years, global temperature had not.

He said scientists at the conference had advanced other explanations, such as the relationship between solar activity and solar energy hitting the Earth to explain climate change.

Fielding has issued a challenge to the Obama White House to rebut the data. It will be a novel experience for them, as Fielding is an engineer and has an Australian's disregard for self-important government officials. Here is how The Age described his challenge:
Senator Fielding emailed graphs that claim the globe had not warmed for a decade to Joseph Aldy, US President Barack Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, after a meeting on Thursday…. Senator Fielding said he found that Dr. Aldy and other Obama administration officials were not interested in discussing the legitimacy of climate science.

Telling an Australian you're not interested in the legitimacy of your position is a red rag to a bull. So here is what Fielding concluded:
Until recently I, like most Australians, simply accepted without question the notion that global warming was a result of increased carbon emissions. However, after speaking to a cross-section of noted scientists, including Ian Plimer, a professor at the University of Adelaide and author of Heaven and Earth, I quickly began to understand that the science on this issue was by no means conclusive….

As a federal senator, I would be derelict in my duty to the Australian people if I did not even consider whether or not the scientific assumptions underpinning this debate were in fact correct.

What Fielding's questioning represents is just the tip of the kangaroo's tail. He speaks for a growing number of Australians who will no longer take green propaganda on trust.

And that's what makes Plimer so influential—not just his credibility as a scientist, but the righteous certainty with which he dismisses man-made global warming as an unscientific dogma. He writes: "The Emissions Trading Scheme legislation poises Australia to make the biggest economic decision in its history"—Australia generates 80% of its electricity from coal, which would essentially be outlawed—"yet there has been no scientific due diligence. There has never been a climate change debate in Australia. Only dogma."

Plimer is not a "skeptic," a term which would imply that he merely has a few doubts about the global warming claims. Instead, he rejects the whole myth outright, and this seems to have emboldened and liberated a great many Australians who were already chafing under global warming conformity. As Plimer puts it:
[T]here are a large number of punters [Australian for "customers" or "gamblers"—in this case, skeptical customers who may or may not buy what the government's selling] who object to being treated dismissively as stupid, who do not like being told what to think, who value independence, who resile from personal attacks and have life experiences very different from the urban environmental atheists attempting to impose a new fundamentalist religion. Green politics have taken the place of failed socialism and Western Christianity and impose fear, guilt, penance, and indulgences onto a society with little scientific literacy.

Australia is not that different from America. If a shift in public opinion against the global warming dogma can happen on one side of the earth, it can happen on the other—especially when the US edition of Plimer's book, scheduled for July 1, hits the stands.

His role, Plimer says, is to show "that the emperor has no clothes." After three decades of relentless global warming propaganda, it's about time.


Using taxpayers' money to save obese people from themselves is futile nanny statism

By Dr Jeremy Sammut

The Rudd government’s National Preventive Health Taskforce will next week call for obese people to be given tax breaks or cash subsidies to offset the cost of gym memberships and fitness equipment.

Public health lobbyists have hailed this step as a new dawn in the fight against obesity. But really, it highlights the mixed success of the last 40 years of public health promotion campaigns – on which Australian governments currently spend about $2 billion per year.

Despite what the misleading Body Mass Index statistics allegedly tell us about the nation’s expanding waistline, the healthy lifestyle message has seeped into the culture. First it was jogging and cutting red meat and dairy out your diet. Now it’s cutting out sugars altogether and going to the gym three times a week.

Many Australians order salad instead of chips. Snack on low-fat yoghurt instead of ice-creams. And pass when the cheese platter comes around. They even pay for gym memberships out of their own pockets so they can work out before or after work or during their lunch hours.

And for their trouble, the government is about to force them to subsidise the unhealthier habits of people who haven’t the will and self-discipline to follow their good example. And to pay for what? Ab-crunchers that will sit dusty and dormant in the garages of the slothful and indolent?

The high priests of the nanny state are at it again. As usual, bad behaviour is being rewarded and good behaviour is punished. And the importance of individual responsibility is being ignored entirely.

The above is a recent press release from the Centre for Independent Studies

Friday, June 26, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG comments on Kevin Rudd's grief about Jacko dying

Economic forecasts show Australia leads the world

Thanks to the strong economy bequeathed by John Howard. There was never any problem with the banks in Australia. They have returned good profits every year without interruption. Rudd's "rescue" of them was just a stunt

AUSTRALIA'S economy is a tower of strength after two respected international reports confirmed it continued to lead the developed world. As national politics was again dominated by the Utegate saga, the International Monetary Fund added its weight to mounting evidence that Australia was powering ahead of its rivals during the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It yesterday upgraded its outlook for our economy, tipping it to retreat by only 0.5 per cent this year before growing by 1.5 per cent next year. It earlier forecast a contraction of 1.4 per cent.

"We currently, among the major advanced economies, have the fastest growth. We have also the second-lowest unemployment," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told Parliament. "We have the lowest debt. We also have the lowest deficit."

Mr Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan welcomed the signs of a recovery despite again having to fend off Opposition attacks over allegations Mr Rudd's office asked a senior Treasury official to help John Grant, a mate of Mr Rudd's, gain access to car industry finance. The ploy backfired on the Coalition when the email at the centre of the scandal was found to be a fake. But Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull is continuing to pursue Mr Swan over claims he gave special treatment to Mr Grant, a car dealer and neighbour of Mr Rudd who loaned the Prime Minister a $5000 Mazda Bravo ute. Mr Swan denies the allegations.

Parliament now goes into a six-week winter break and most MPs are today in their electorates to be greeted with concerns on the economy.

Yesterday's positive IMF forecast followed an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report that commended the Government's stimulus measures. "In particular the IMF has strongly commended the Government's three-stage stimulus strategy, starting with direct payments, moving to shovel-ready infrastructure, followed by major nation-building projects to support jobs and strengthen the economy for the future," Mr Swan said.

The OECD also gave a tick of approval to the Australian economy and the Rudd Government's measures to stimulate activity, including its infrastructure packages. It forecasts the domestic economy will contract by 0.4 per cent this year, the mildest contraction of any of the 30 OECD countries, before growing by 1.2 per cent next year.

Importantly, the OECD believes unemployment will be not be as severe as the forecast in the Budget. Treasury has predicted unemployment will peak at 8.5 per cent mid-2010, but the OECD believes the highwater mark will be 7.9 per cent. Treasury Secretary Ken Henry was not ready yesterday to concede economic forecasts in last month's federal Budget had been too pessimistic. "Of course, the March quarter was stronger than we had expected," Dr Henry said. "It means we are now thinking that gross domestic product growth in the present year, 2008-09, will be somewhat stronger, but it will still be weak relative to trend. It may be that there is some upside to our forecasts, but really it is too early to tell."


Labor governments claim to be the battler's friend. So how come they are giving millions to car dealers, of all people?

OzCar passed by Parliament. The whole think definitely smells. Would you buy a used car from this government?

THE Federal Government's controversial OzCar scheme has been passed by Parliament. Labor will now be able to set up the $850m taxpayer-funded finance scheme, designed to assist Australian car dealers struggling in the wake of the global financial crisis.

OzCar has been in the spotlight since it was revealed the public servant responsible for it, Godwin Grech, may have given false evidence at a Senate inquiry last week.

Following Mr Grech's testimony, the Australian Federal Police uncovered a fake email at his home which purported to show Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's office seeking OzCar support for a Queensland car dealer who had supplied Mr Rudd with a ute.


Shame of violent schools revealed

Report from South Australia (Population 1,600,000)

An average of 22 violent attacks, sexual incidents or drug abuse cases are reported each week in our schools, the Education Department has revealed. For the first time, it has released complete details of "critical incidents" serious enough to be reported in writing by schools to head office, ranging from knife attacks to sexual assaults.

In response to a Freedom of Information probe by Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire, the department released details of all incidents in the 2008 school year and 2009 so far, including 406 violent attacks, 97 sexual incidents, 180 threats, 20 abductions or stalking, 35 drug possessions and 24 cases of self-harm. Among the more serious cases at the state's primary and secondary schools were:

CHILD pornography spread on students' mobile phones.

A STUDENT shot in the eye, requiring surgery.

A RECEPTION student stabbing another student with a pencil.

THREE adults found having sex and using drugs in school toilets.

A GIRL held against her will, blindfolded and photographed.

THE stabbing of a student, which was filmed.

A STUDENT breaking into a teacher's house and sexually assaulting her.

A GIRL'S hair being set alight.

A TEACHER at school under the influence of drugs.

Australian Education Union state president Correna Haythorpe said teachers and students were increasingly being put in dangerous situations. "There is absolutely no doubt that these incidents are on the increase," she said. "What we need is a systematic approach which includes more student counsellors and more resources for our schools. "Otherwise it places teachers, staff and students at risk."

SA Secondary Principals Association president Jim Davies said the real concern was "strangers" coming into school grounds. "Those sorts of incidents certainly cause a lot of concern because whilst there will inevitably always be situations where students have a go at another group of students in your school, you have more control," he said. "When there is a third party involved that is not part of your school community, it is very difficult to have those proactive influences over those people coming in."

Child protection expert Freda Briggs said while the statistics were shocking, they were only the tip of the iceberg. "We know that not everyone reports this kind of behaviour, so we won't really know the true extent of what is happening," she said. "The real problem is much deeper. "The dangerous thing is that if this is continually happening in schools and if victims are fearful, they can't relax at school, so you will get reluctance to attend and learn." Including less-dangerous events which posed a threat to student safety but no injury, there were 1271 "critical incidents" reported to the department over the 15-month period, or around four every school day.

Students were by far the worst offenders, with 641 incidents blamed on their behaviour, 215 blamed on parents, 52 on other adults, 25 on former students and 20 on staff members. Knives were the weapon of choice in most armed assaults (38), followed by scissors (8), sticks (5), pens and pencils (6), rocks (5), desks and chairs (2), and garden spades (2). Many of the weapons were improvised from common school items such as a ruler, shot-put, fire extinguisher and wheelie bin.

Mr Brokenshire said it was disturbing that many of the crimes were filmed and the images distributed for pleasure. "This data shows why we need a police-in-schools program to build rapport with students and encourage law-abiding behaviour," he said. Mr Brokenshire said authorities should study school districts which had restricted the incidence of violence and implement these strategies in other areas.

Education Department chief executive Chris Robinson said the reporting of critical incidents was an effective way to ensure that schools got the support they needed. "While many of these reported incidents can be quite minor, we strongly encourage schools to report all incidents so they receive adequate support," he said. "Incident reports filled out by schools stem from reasons such as abusive parents, schoolyard incidents, accidents, after-hours break-ins and intruders. "Many of our schools have close working relationships with their local police and don't hesitate to call when help is required."


Self-serving know-alls fuelled fatal Victorian bushfires

The bureaucratic ineptitude being revealed at the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission is at once extraordinary and infuriating. The lessons have implications for every aspect of government in Australia and demand a radical rethink about the dominance of politicised bureaucracies within our lives. The emerging picture eerily imitates Franz Kafka's The Trial.

Government fire services furtively developed their doctrinaire rules, then enforced them with mindless zeal. Fire and emergency supremos were provided with limitless authority to bend citizens and communities to their rigid controls without effective scrutiny or supervision. What emerges is a layer of self-styled bureaucratic intelligentsia devising policies that became sacrosanct in themselves regardless of their original purpose. Ideological processes left no room for common sense, pragmatism or compassion, and opportunities to help vulnerable people were wasted. Policies bore testimony to the assumption that the population was so imbecilic as to need greater protection from itself than from raging wildfire.

Sound familiar? This mindset is magnified by its ubiquity in modern Australian government and alarm bells should be ringing. Failures equally significant but less conspicuous are probably simmering away beneath the whole gamut of populist government decision-making. The danger is fanned by the speed and dimension of decisions that are made under of a veil of urgency associated with recession, security and other confected emergencies.

Day after day, emergency service tsars present themselves to the royal commission as though they are the stars atop the tree of knowledge. The Country Fire Authority seems genuinely bamboozled that a handful of head office executives did not prove to be wiser than its thousands of volunteers who have intimate knowledge of local roads, properties and personalities. Directions, strategies and resources were issued and controlled by executives far removed from the horrific reality that their edicts and regulations created. Volunteers and citizens were left to fend for themselves after bureaucratic strategies descended into chaos.

Rigid and enforced controls were relaxed only when they were mocked into submission by a recalcitrant inferno. The winding trail of blunders growing from stubbornly centralised remote control defies the imagination. Emergency call centres were overwhelmed while extensive volunteer networks lay idle. NSW firefighters were called up with media fanfare and weren't provided with so much as a map. One homeowner was relieved to see a NSW bushfire tanker arrive at his front gate, only to learn it was lost.

ABC radio had been anointed the official emergency broadcaster with little regard for the millions who listen to commercial radio. Descriptions of the official information feed provided to the broadcaster conjure visions of a garbage chute funnelling ad hoc faxes, phone calls, emails and web bulletins. Producers and announcers consumed valuable time piecing together the scraps of intelligence.

To his credit the CFA chief officer continues to roll up to the royal commission to take his medicine. It will be interesting to see if his past and present ministers will also be required to testify and give an account of their stewardship. Neither justice nor recovery will be served if the bureaucrats are hung out to dry by themselves.

The vast body of evidence suggests a great deal of loss and destruction could have been avoided if local knowledge, experience and commitment had been respected and used. Instead, the politicians and their bureaucrats shared a motivation to exert close and uncompromised control. An aggressive resistance to contestable advice allowed policy-makers to deny the existence of culpable knowledge. The mandarins eventually succumbed to their own intoxicating publicity and stared down the risk of their knowledge deficit. Dysfunctionality bred like a virus in a hotbed of intellectual conceit.

The implications are sobering for every aspect of government policy. School principals especially must be crying tears of blood as they witness the obscene waste of money occurring under the ridiculously rigid policies of the so-called Building the Education Revolution.

Of course the critical role of bureaucracy must be respected and communities are happy to oblige. However, such respect does not establish government entities as the sole repository of wisdom. People don't expect governments to be omniscient but they are entitled to hold them to a lie as much as a truth. Including communities in practical policy formulation must go far deeper than the cosmetic consultation most Australian governments practise.

It must also go deeper than community cabinet meetings and a prime ministerial revival of an imagined Australian lexicon. It also goes beyond the federal government's notion of "umpire politics" where decisions are designed to mute the lobbyists rather than genuinely serve the nation.

Real change requires courage and creativity that is shared and accepted with a parity of worth. The view that these qualities are vested exclusively in parliamentary and bureaucratic empires is a dangerous and culpable vanity that Australia simply cannot afford.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

One in four prisoners is black

It's the alcohol that does it. They generally can't handle alcohol -- often getting violent under its influence

ONE in four prisoners in Australia is indigenous and their over-representation in the jail system is only getting worse, a new report states. Aborigines are 13 times more likely to be locked up than other Australians, while the proportion of indigenous women being incarcerated has tripled in the past 20-odd years. Half of the 10- to 17-year-olds in corrective institutions are indigenous.

"The fact is, every year it gets worse,'' Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) executive director Gino Vumbaca said. "The investment in prison cells is clearly flawed. It's not working. "If you build more prison cells, invariably you'll fill them with more indigenous people.''

In the decade to 2007, the number of indigenous Australians in prison rose by 6.7 per cent a year, on average. Aboriginal people went from comprising 18 per cent of the prison population to 24 per cent. The situation is worst in the Northern Territory, where 83 per cent of the prison population is indigenous. In Western Australia, it's 41 per cent. Victoria has the lowest proportion of Aboriginal prisoners - 6 per cent of that state's inmates are black.

The statistics are collated in the ANCD's National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee (NIDAC) report Bridges and Barriers - Addressing Indigenous Incarceration and Health. Mr Vumbaca says the report proves tinkering around the edges of the problem hasn't worked and it makes economic sense to invest more in rehabilitation. "What we need is greater investment in things like residential treatment services so judges, magistrates and the police have options other than incarceration.''

The report estimates it costs governments $269 per day to lock up a prisoner. That's compared to just $98 per day for someone in residential rehabilitation.

NIDAC chair Ted Wilkes says treatment provides people with a chance of recovery - which leads to less re-offending. "Indigenous Australians increasingly fill our country's prisons and juvenile detention centres at alarmingly disproportionate rates,'' he said. "Treatment is simply far more effective in terms of outcomes and costs than imprisoning people.''

The report recommends making diversion programs more accessible for indigenous Australians, while simultaneously establishing a network of indigenous-only residential rehabilitation centres as alternatives to jail. It also suggests every young Aboriginal person be given an individual education fund "to assist and promote their participation and retention within the education system''.


Breastfeeding tyranny comes to Australia

The informal oppression of women unable or unwilling to breastfeed is in high gear in NYC and it seems that it has now come to Australia

A Queensland Health campaign hoping to convince new mothers to breastfeed is under fire for using "guilt-inducing" language. The $100,000-a-year campaign is called "12+months on the breast: Normal, natural, healthy".

Women's Forum Australia spokeswoman Katrina George said any campaign to support breastfeeding as a choice was a good move, but she questioned the use of the term "normal". "The use of the word 'normal' in the campaign slogan is ill-considered, as it may imply women who do not breastfeed for 12 months or more may have failed – failed their babies and failed as a mother," Ms George said. "That is an unfortunate message to send to women."

Beyond Blue deputy chief executive Nicole Highet said that, as an advertising campaign, the slogan could risk a negative impact on some people. "This advertisement is great for women who are breastfeeding as it will make them feel better about doing it," Ms Highet said. "But for those who can't breastfeed or are struggling, it can be yet another disappointment and point of view that could make them feel guilty and make them feel like they have failed. "I don't think they have looked at the target audiences who will read this. As a result I don't think they have considered the potential risk this campaign might lead to for those women."

Population Health Queensland acting executive director Sophie Dwyer said the booklet, written by Queensland Health and the Australian Breastfeeding Association, would be given to every mother attending publicly funded antenatal services across the state, backed up by posters and a website. "The content . . . (was) market-tested with Queensland mothers (including pregnant women, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers)," Ms Dwyer said.

The booklet describes how breast milk boosts the health of infants, promotes mother-child bonding and is cheaper than formula feeding, and tells how common problems can be overcome.

Bub Hub co-founder Brad Lauder, whose website has more than 400,000 visitors every month, said the site's feeding forum was one of the most emotive discussion boards. "People feel so strongly about it one way or the other," Mr Lauder said.

Bottle formula was fine for happy baby Nataley. YERONGA mum Ewa Bramwell had trouble breastfeeding soon after the induced birth of her daughter Nataley, now 20 months. Bramwell and her husband Brett decided she would express breastmilk via a pump and bottle feed their baby. They moved on to formula four months later.

"I was taught about breastfeeding in antenatal classes and I was all for it. And then when I tried to breastfeed, it didn't work," she said. "Nataley was really hungry and nothing was working, so my mother-in-law suggested I try to express. I did that, and in between we tried a little bit of formula, because she just needed to eat. "It was stressful to us as parents because that's the way it is supposed to be – a mother to breastfeed a child. It's supposed to be perfect. "Luckily, my milk kicked in after expressing, and Nataley was bottle fed straight away, but only as a delivery method."

Ewa expressed for a few months, but her supply waned and the length of time it took to pump enough breastmilk became cumbersome. "I had to have a life, I couldn't spend all day on a pump. So I stopped and took up formula. She's fine and perfectly happy. "I believe I will breastfeed my next baby. But if I can't I will give it formula. I think that's perfectly fine. I don't think when kids grow up you can say 'That person was breastfed and that person was on formula'."



Four articles below

Global warming isn't real, says Senator Fielding

Family First senator Steve Fielding has made up his mind on climate change - the world is not warming now, and humans aren't changing the climate. The government and the country's top scientists have tried to convince Senator Fielding, who holds a crucial vote in the upper house, that global warming is real. But he's released a document setting out his position.

"Global temperature isn't rising," it says. On emissions trading, Senator Fielding said he wouldn't risk job losses on "unconvincing green science". The document says it is a "fact" that the evidence does not support the notion that greenhouse gas emissions are causing dangerous global warming.

Senator Fielding later sought to clarify his position, saying he believed in global warming, but he did not think the world was warming now and did not think humans were causing global warming. "Over the last 15 years, global temperatures haven't been going up and, therefore, there hasn't been in the last 15 years a period of global warming," Senator Fielding told AAP. "I think that global warming is real, and climate change is real, but on average global temperatures have stayed steady while carbon emissions have increased over the last 15 years. "Man-made carbon emissions don't appear to be causing it."

Because of the numbers in the upper house, Senator Fielding's verdict means the government will have to rely on the opposition to get its emissions trading scheme (ETS) legislation passed. The Senate was initially supposed to vote on the ETS this week, but that now appears unlikely as the legislation has been shunted towards the bottom of the agenda....


Senate conservatives delay vote on Warmist laws

KEVIN Rudd attacked the Coalition yesterday for deferring a vote on the emissions trading scheme until August, saying it was more evidence of Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's "lack of leadership". "They have such strength of leadership that they have now resolved to vote not to vote ... They cannot unite themselves even to bring on a vote for the simple reason that they fear that they will split right down the middle," the Prime Minister said during question time.

The Coalition wants to delay a final vote on the laws until after the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in December, but Mr Turnbull told the Business Council of Australia last week he wanted to avoid a double-dissolution election on the issue.

Yesterday's delay was achieved through a deal between the Coalition and Independent senator Nick Xenophon, in which the Coalition promised to bring the laws to a vote for the first time when the Senate resumes after the winter break in August. That commitment means the government could bring them on for a second vote in November, just before the Copenhagen conference, with the necessary three-month interregnum for that vote to be the one that decides whether they become a possible trigger for a double-dissolution election.

Business lobbyists welcomed the delay because it gives them time to finalise negotiations with the government over crucial regulations and proposed compensation. But the Climate Institute think tank said the delay "further hinders low carbon investments and hurts Australia's global credibility".

"Stretching out the squabbles in the Senate on clean energy and low carbon industrial legislation like the renewable energy target and now the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme helps nobody," Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said. The delay came as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry released a study into the effects of the scheme on small and medium businesses including food processing, plastics and chemicals, and machinery and equipment manufacturing.

The study found the scheme would generate extra costs that would reduce the firms' profitability by between 4 and 7 per cent. A large part of that impact came from the expected inclusion of transport fuels in the scheme from 2014.

Mr Turnbull and his climate change spokesman Greg Hunt have indicated the opposition is "predisposed" to support the government's proposed 20 per cent renewable energy target after it has been considered by a Senate committee, but several Coalition MPs at yesterday's party meeting said they were not inclined to support the laws.


Major changes in views on the environment

We live in a world in which we are constantly bombarded with the results of surveys about attitudes to political, social and economic issues of the day. Even the Australian Statistician undertakes surveys that produce subjective data that has potential implications for government policies.

The state of the environment is a prime survey target as it is now of considerable interest to a high proportion of the community. It is not surprising, then, that last week the Statistician undertook a survey covering environmental views and behaviour. This is the Bureau's first such survey and I examined it with considerable interest.

That led me to write to the Statistician querying the approach adopted and pointing out the importance of taking the utmost care in surveying present attitudes on the environment. What I had particularly in mind was not only the legislation on an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be debated in the Senate but also the international meeting (in December) in Copenhagen on the mooted global scheme to reduce CO2 emissions.

The attitudes (supposedly) adopted by the Australian public on such issues could have a significant influence on relevant policies adopted by our government and opposition parties. A survey of such attitudes by the normally respected Statistician would assume even greater significance than one by firms involved in the survey business.

The basis of my querying the Statistician is that, while the questions seem largely to fall into the category of having obvious answers, they could be quoted as providing general support for government policies to reduce emissions. The basic survey question was "Are you concerned or not concerned about climate change, water shortage and accumulation of waste". It was the only question asked relevant to those issues.

Faced with such a question, it would be difficult to imagine a majority "Not concerned" answer. That in fact was the case, with "concern" being expressed by nine out of ten about water shortages, around three-quarters about climate change and nearly seventy per cent about the accumulation of waste.

My letter to the Statistician suggested it would have been more meaningful to adopt the approach of some surveys overseas and attempt to identify a wider range of aspects on which people assess environmental issues For example, in surveying views on global warming, the Gallup poll in the US asks "thinking about what is said in the news, in your view is the seriousness of global warming - [generally exaggerated, generally correct or is it under-estimated]?" Note also that the Gallup survey is about global warming not the meaningless concept of "climate change" used by the Statistician.

The US Gallup poll is of particular interest given the reported "passionate" belief of President Obama that the world faces a serious threat of dangerously high temperatures from increasing emissions and the current consideration by Congress of ETS legislation also. Importantly, the Gallup poll for March recorded a big jump in Americans judging the seriousness of global warming to be exaggerated, up to 41 per cent from 31 in 2005 and 35 last year. Evidently the President's passion has had little effect so far.

This Gallup polling also produces a rating of seriousness of various environmental issues and, of eight environmental issues (including water supply and water and air pollution), global warming not only ranked last but had fallen by 6 percentage points in extent of concern since last year. Although a general diminution of concern about environmental issues was to be expected given the economic downturn, the continued relatively low ranking for global warming led Gallup to suggest "something unique may be happening with the issue".

Also of considerable interest is the latest survey by the Pew Research Center. This shows that "Protecting the environment" has dropped from tenth to sixteenth on the priority issues for American voters and global warming was last on the top twenty priority list.

These surveys have obvious implications in terms of the all-important US policy position on global warming- and should also do so for the policy positions of Australia's political parties too. Unfortunately, our major political parties seem way behind the ball game in gauging both community attitudes and the fundamental flaws in the science used in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


GREENWASH: Shopping centre reserves parking for hybrid vehicles

Shopping mall operator Westfield has installed hybrid-only car-parking spaces at some of their shopping centres.

Here’s a pic I took this morning of the spaces at Westfield Hornsby in Sydney. They are sited directly opposite the main entry. They are empty. They usually are.

What I find fascinating about this is that Hornsby is a battlers’ area so there are very few Toyota Prius cars or other hybrids. Some have noted that the hybrid Lexus RX400h SUV produces 192g/km of CO2 but the non-hybrid Volkswagen Golf 118TSI produces 144g/km of CO2, suggesting that the hybrid designation is arbitrary and does little to assist the environment.

Basically all Westfield have done is removed two of the best parking spaces in the complex and allocated them to those wealthy but environmentally conscious souls who had the money to buy one of these expensive motor vehicles. [VEXNEWS: We are reminded of the former Soviet Union with its special express lanes on highways for ministerial vehicles in the form of Zim limousines. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.]

This does not benefit their customers, the only benefit is to Westfield. This pointless action gives them a warm, fuzzy inner-glow and something to boast about in corporate communications and with pesky left-wing environment reporters keen to denigrate Westfield’s big shrines to retail as concrete eyesores.

SOURCE (See the original for pix)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is trying to figure out the "utegate" affair

The "Blitz"

Pictured above are a couple of "Blitz" trucks in mint condition. There were a number of variations of them. You see above, for instance, that they came in both 6-wheel and 4-wheel versions. They were made in Canada by both Ford and Chevrolet during WWII as part of the huge Canadian contribution to the war effort. Male Canadians and Britons in those days were men, not the whining mice that most seem to have become under Leftist influence in the postwar era.

My interest in the "Blitz" stems from the fact that my father used to use one in his work as a timber feller ("lumberjack" in North American parlance). Once you have felled a huge forest tree, you have got to get it out of the bush somehow -- either to a rail siding or a road where you can load it onto a truck.

Unlike his father, my father did not use a bullock-team to "snig" (drag) the log along a bush track to its destination. He used a Blitz. A Blitz was originally designed to negotiate the often difficult terrain leading up to battlefields and it therefore had both 4WD and a double-reduction gearbox. It was slow but tough and versatile and could go almost anywhere -- which made it ideal for forest work after the war. And it was immensely popular after the war. They were all over the place in country areas. They were often used as tow-trucks. The picture below is an indication of how many there were before they all eventually wore out.

What I would like to know is how they originated. They were apparently designed in Britain but look like no other British vehicle. My suspicion is that the design was a copy of an Opel Blitz of the period. Opel is/was the German tentacle of GM. So I suspect that the British just copied a successful German design. I have however not been able to find a picture of the Opel Blitz of that period.

The name "Blitz" certainly suggests a German origin. "Blitz" is the German word for lightning. On the other hand, maybe the name is simply ironical: Whatever else the Blitz was, it was certainly not fast.

There must be a million collectors of military vehicles worldwide and a Blitz in good condition would certainly be most prized in such circles so I hope at least one collector reads this and is able to give me the history behind the "Blitz".

Australia to cut skilled immigration, but let in lots of unskilled immigrants

This is typical Leftist destructiveness. Decoding note: The "Pacific guest worker program" mentioned below consists of bringing in totally unskilled Polynesians, a group known for a high crime-rate, obesity and not much else. "Shutting down the Pacific solution" means giving residence permits to illegal immigrants, mostly Middle Eastern Muslims with all their horrible attitudes. Leftist speech is routinely designed to cover up folly so needs a lot of decoding

Skilled immigration will fall due to the global economic crisis, the Federal Government says. ''I expect the numbers of our program to drop next year ... as a reaction to the economic circumstances,'' Immigration Minister Chris Evans told reporters. Senator Evans said the size of the cut would be a matter for cabinet.

The government was very aware that labour demand would differ across regions and economic sectors. ''It's not a one size fits all.''

In Britain the government is hardening immigration laws as unemployment rises amid the financial meltdown. Non-European Union workers migrating to Britain will, from April, have to hold a masters degree and will have to show they earned a salary of at least $44,000 before moving to the UK.

Despite the pressures on immigration, Senator Evans said the Pacific guest worker program would not be reviewed ''at this stage''. However, he did say the government was reconsidering what occupations should be listed on the commonwealth's critical skills list.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union has already called for construction jobs to be cut from the list. ''The critical skills list is under review and that's one of the things we will look at as the circumstances change,'' Senator Evans said. ''We will probably have a formal look at that in the next couple of weeks.''

South Australia's Master Builders Association has warned against such a cut, saying the soon to come infrastructure spending by government meant plenty of workers would be needed in the sector.

Senator Evans' comments came after meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres. The meeting culminated in the government offering an extra $4.4 million in funding to the body. Mr Guterres admitted the snowballing economic crisis would not help refugees but praised Australia for taking a bigger role in the issue since Labor's election win, especially for shutting down the Pacific solution. ''We believe things are moving in the right direction,'' Mr Guterres said.


Australian Army red tape too much even for Germans

Pretty bad when a suppier would rather lose a sale than cope with all the self-important bureaucratic nonsense

THE army's $450 million plan to acquire new 155mm self-propelled guns faces a one-year delay because of the complexity of the Defence Materiel Organisation's tender process. The revelation comes as one of the two contenders to supply the artillery declined to participate in the final tender negotiation with the DMO.

German firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, whose PzH 2000 gun was favoured to win the contest to supply up to 18 guns to the army, has declined to participate in the offer definition and refinement process with the organisation. KMW is competing against Raytheon Australia, which is teamed with Korean manufacturer Samsung Techwin, which is offering the AS-9 gun.

Senior government sources told The Australian yesterday that neither tender had fully met the DMO's tough contractual requirements. Only the Raytheon consortium has chosen to continue negotiations with the DMO. According to informed sources KMW has cited problems with intellectual property as well as a requirement for more equitable risk-sharing with the commonwealth in its decision not to participate in the offer definition and refinement process.

Raytheon is now pushing hard for an early decision but the KMW tender offer will remain on the table and valid until next April.

Last month DMO chief Stephen Gumley told a Senate estimates committee there were a number of "technical issues" that had to be resolved before a decision could be made on a preferred tenderer. The German firm, which is partnered with BAE Systems Australia, has offered brand new surplus Dutch army guns as part of its tender in the Land 17 project.

The PzH 2000 gun is in service with the Dutch military in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan and has impressed the Australian army with its all-round capability.


Yummy donkeys

No doubt the animal-lovers will freak out over this but they wont be able to throw about their favourite word --"endangered" -- this time

WHAT a hide - donkey steaks, processed in Queensland, will soon be sold in China and the skins will be used to boost Chinese womens' libido. The emerging export industry will process meat from feral donkeys sourced from the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. Already there are talks with a Charleville abattoir, one of several Queensland operators set up for kangaroos but capable of processing donkeys.

This was confirmed yesterday by Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin, who said China had signed a trade protocol that accepted donkey steaks and skins. "This is a great diversification opportunity for the macropod industry," Mr Mulherin said. "This emerging donkey trade could mean dozens of new jobs for harvesters and processors and more than $20 million into our economy. "All going well, donkey meat will soon be hitting the woks in Beijing and the skins will be used in traditional Chinese medicine in a product designed to increase the female libido."

Donkey meat is considered a delicacy in parts of China where taste buds cover a wide range - anything from slivers of camel hump to pigeon tongues are served up. China has its own supply of donkeys but cannot meet all the demand, with importers regularly advertising overseas for the animal. And Australia has an estimated population of more than five million wild donkeys which would be killed and then transported to Queensland for processing.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Australia's incompetent tax bureaucrats again

An Egyptian TV tycoon has won an epic legal battle with them. This is even dumber than operation Wickenby. At least the bureaucrats won a round or two in Wickenby even if it cost them far more than they recovered. It took them 16 years of farting around in this matter and in the end their case was so weak that the judge threw it out before any defence evidence was called. So the taxpayers of Australia are millions down the drain again --for nothing. The bureaucrats were obviously sure that the "wog" was crooked and he may well be but you have got to prove it. It's oppression by litigation -- a well-known American artform particularly associated with the now fallen Eliot Spitzer. It is a disgrace. I am delighted that the "wog" in this case refused to give in

BUSINESSMAN Mike Boulos is well known for creating Australia's first ethnic pay-TV business. Less well known is the authorities' 16-year pursuit of him over an alleged $1.1 million sales tax fraud. Boulos has always denied wrongdoing - and after several legal battles, a judge has agreed, directing a jury to return a verdict of not guilty to 10 counts of defrauding the Commonwealth, The Australian reports. District Court judge Robyn Tupman told a jury last month, there was "no evidence capable of proving the guilt of the accused and in particular of proving his guilty knowledge in relation to these charges".

It has been an extremely expensive exercise, costing millions of dollars. The result of the trial came only after the jury had heard the evidence in the crown case, which was entirely circumstantial. The investigation by the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Federal Police involved scores of officers and spanned Australia, Europe, South Africa and Singapore. Along the way documents have been (legitimately) destroyed and key witnesses have left the country.

Boulos, who could not be contacted, is no stranger to controversy; his Television & Radio Broadcast Services (TARBS), which broadcast ethnic pay-TV channels, collapsed in 2004. He later set up United Broadcasting International with his wife.

He has been involved in various business-related legal actions in the past. The fraud charges against the Egyptian-born Magdi Boulos, as he is known in court proceedings, date back to January and February 1993 and relate to sales tax refund cheques issued by the Australian Taxation Office. At the time Boulos was involved with a number of companies. One of them, Brendons Advanced Technology (BAT), was a private investment company and Boulos and his wife were sole directors. Computer World Solutions (CWS) was another Boulos-related company, which sold computers. The allegedly fraudulent sales tax refunds involved transactions between CWS, BAT and another Boulos-related company, Trio International.

The tax office believed the transactions never occurred and it began an investigation, which dropped off from 1994 to 2000, only to be renewed when Boulos was raided by the AFP in 2000. By this time Boulos thought he was no longer being investigated. This six-year pause in the case was later described in one the several court judgments relating to Boulos as "an unjustifiable delay by prosecuting authorities".

The AFP wanted to interview Boulos in 2001 but he declined and later left the country. A warrant for his arrest was issued that year - but supporting documentation was found to be faulty - and another warrant was issued in 2002. Boulos voluntarily returned to Australia in December 2004, when he was arrested at Sydney airport and charged with 10 counts of defrauding the Commonwealth to the tune of $1.1m.

A number of legal challenges followed. Boulos was unsuccessful last year in having the charges thrown out of court, and in April this year a jury in the NSW District Court began hearing the case. Evidence emerged that appeared to implicate another employee at the firm, who was involved in the paperwork relating to the computer sales transactions that led to the refund cheques being issued.

At the conclusion of the crown case, before the jury heard from the defence, Boulos's barrister, Ian McClintock SC, rose to his feet and said that there was no evidence Boulos would have known the transactions were bogus. The computer companies were turning over about $50m, dealing with "substantial numbers of computers involving substantial sums of money". Further, he argued, the other employee had direct control over all the companies involved in the computer transactions.

Boulos has spent more than $2m in legal fees but, unless he applies to the Federal Court for an ex-gratia compensation payment from the Government, is unlikely to recover his money. After the trial, Boulos again went overseas, this time with little fear he would be arrested on his return. He is due to touch down in Australia today.


Old lady penalized for having a small amount of savings

If she had blown all her money on drugs, she would have got a tick of approval!

Astrid Bieler is 72 and has four screws in her spine, but in less than three weeks Housing NSW will evict her from the flat where she has lived for the past 10 years. When she was among the first to move into the Tweed Heads development for over 55s, Ms Bieler hoped to remain in her new home for the rest of her days. The flat was purpose built for aging singles like her, she had friends in the area where she had lived for 12 years and she could manage the $130-weekly rent.

In July the landlord, Alby Ross, who had built and run her complex, advised his tenants that he was putting the Banora Point property on the market... It was quickly bought by Housing NSW, which then screened the tenants to work out who could stay and who must go. Ms Bieler desperately wanted to stay but was told that even though she was on a full pension she was too young [at 72??], not sick enough and, with life savings of $20,000 and 5000 Telstra shares [worth $16,000 at current market value], too wealthy.

The department gave her six months to find somewhere else, and when she failed to move, gave her a final month. It has now advised her she will have to leave to make way for someone more deserving unless her last-minute appeal to a Housing Appeals Committee is successful. A spokeswoman for the Housing Minister, David Borger, confirmed Ms Bielder would have to move out but denied she was eligible for public housing, a claim Ms Bielder says is simply wrong. "I was approved for public housing and put on the waiting list in Tweed Heads in August," she said.

Mr Borger's spokeswoman said the department regretted evicting aging tenants but Ms Bielder's savings meant she had to make way for others less fortunate. "Unfortunately, the reality is that there are many people who are doing it tough who need help from Housing NSW - people with no assets at all, no family and who also suffer serious health problems." The department has been trying to help her find accommodation, suggesting options such as caravan parks and places for sale. [What could she buy with $20,000??]

"I just want to stay where I live, where I have my friends," she said. "I can't understand why a government department is doing this to someone my age."


NSW government still bullsh*tting about horror school

A recent successful bullying claim has put the spotlight back on Farrer high school.

IN THE days when boys were allowed to be animals at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, the end of each school year was marked by "the rumble". Year 12s stood at one end of the oval and the rest of the school at the other, with mattresses padding the intervening ground. At the squeal of a whistle they would launch themselves at one another - 13, 14 and 15-year-old boys against 18-year-old men - in a mass wrestle. Anybody caught punching would be whacked by the principal with a stick. It was an exercise in catharsis for the boys, who had suffered a year of brutal discipline at the hands of the year 12s, but was stopped in the early 1990s after a series of broken bones.

The NSW Department of Education says the Tamworth school now adheres to rigorous anti-bullying policies, promotes friendship between boarders and day boys through the "Farrer Friends" program and has a student welfare system that is regarded as best practice.

But the bullying claim brought by a Farrer old boy that resulted in a payout of nearly $500,000 in the Supreme Court on Friday has whipped up a squall in the community of students, alumni, teachers and parents known as the "Farrer Family". Some have accused David Gregory of whinging and money grabbing, but others have said his experience was neither isolated nor historical, and continues at the school.

"It's a totally traditional thing, in that what went on 20 years ago still goes on, and it's absolutely historical," said one mother, who withdrew her son last year after he threatened self-harm. "In year 7 you've got no rights; in year 12 you've got all the rights."

The conditions for bullying were fertile at Farrer during the 1990s when Mr Gregory was a student, because the school's philosophy was to give year 12s responsibility for the discipline of their juniors, creating what one former student described as a Lord Of The Flies effect.

Old boys have told of punishments such as having their heads held between speakers on loud volume, being forced to fill a pond on the prefects' lawn one cup at a time from a tap 50 metres away and being stripped naked and thrown into an icy pool in midwinter.

Karen Strachan, whose son Jeremy was a contemporary of Mr Gregory, said he was still damaged from his six years at Farrer, which included six boys tying him up one night and simulating sexual acts upon him to humiliate him. "Jeremy asked me not to take it any further, so I didn't. He had a horrific time when he was there. He went in the army and the army is pretty tough but he said his time at Farrer was worse than the army."

Parents say practices to which Mr Gregory was subjected, such as "gnome duty", which requires students to stand outside the year 12 dormitory holding a broom and a rubbish bin lid, still occur at the school. Moreover, they say, a rivalry has developed between the boarders and the day boys, and the school is reluctant to respond to complaints.

Lianne Penfold withdrew her son from the school in 2007 after he complained of bullying, much of which involved fights between the boarders and day boys, and often resulted in his arriving home with cuts and torn clothing. "We thought the selective school and all-boy environment with good role models would be good for him … but he was very unhappy," she told the Northern Daily Leader. "He never had friends over, and he would come home from school and go to his room and stay there."

The other mother, who pulled her son from the school last year, said her day-boy son was a target at Farrer because he was more brains than brawn. "The kids who were bright weren't treated the same as those on the footy team," she said. "Farrer footy team is the golden egg over there, and they were treated differently to everyone else." In this environment a boy such as Mr Gregory, who enjoyed politics and literature, might always have been regarded as an eccentric. But former students say the school has little tolerance for those who are different.

Simon Smart, who attended the school in the 1980s, said he enjoyed it because he fitted in, but he could see in retrospect that it would have been a difficult place for outsiders. "It was a very aggressively heterosexual environment," Mr Smart said. "It had the potential to be a great school, but its great failing was the inability to protect the vulnerable kids."

The NSW Department of Education said it did not accept that there was rivalry between boarders and day boys and conducted regular anonymous surveys to spot concerns including bullying. S"Any incidence is dealt with strongly and thoroughly, through the school's welfare and discipline procedures and by providing necessary counselling and support," a spokesman said.


Reason clouded by CO2 obsession

By Peter Schwerdtfeger, emeritus professor of meteorology at Flinders University in Adelaide

ALTHOUGH there are many doubters of man-made climate change, I am not yet one of them. But I remain unconvinced that carbon dioxide is the sole bete noire. Two decades ago, I pored over the spectral properties of the infra-red radiation of this gas, which is essential to plant life, and found that it was almost completely overshadowed by the radiative properties of water vapour, which is vital to all forms of life on earth.

Repeatedly in science we are reminded that happenings in nature can rarely be ascribed to a single phenomenon. For example, sea levels on our coasts are dependent on winds and astronomical forces as well as atmospheric pressure and, on a different time scale, the temperature profile of the ocean. Now, with complete abandon, a vociferous body of claimants is insisting that CO2 alone is the root of climatic evil.

I fear that many supporters of this view have become carried away by the euphoria of mass or dominant group psyche. Scientists are no more immune from being swayed by the pressure of collective enthusiasm than any other member of the human race. I do not believe for one moment that undisciplined burning of fossil fuels is harmless, but the most awful consequence of the burning of carboniferous fuels is not the release of CO2 but the large-scale injection ofminute particulate pollutants into the atmosphere.

Detailed studies led by internationally acclaimed cloud physicist Daniel Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have revealed that the minute water vapour droplets that form around some carbon particles are so small as to be almost incapable of being subsequently coalesced into larger precipitable drops. In short, the particulates prevent rainfall.

Rosenfeld's research group has shown that humans are changing the climate in a much more direct way than through the release of CO2. Rather, pollution is seriously inhibiting rain over mountains in semi-arid regions, a phenomenon with dire consequences for water resources in the Middle East and many other parts of the world, including China and Australia.

Rosenfeld is no snake-oil salesman. As an American Meteorological Society medallist, he has an internationally endorsed research record in cloud physics that no living Australian can claim to emulate. It is more than 20 years since Australia was a knowledgeable force in cloud physics and cloud seeding. CSIRO's relevant division has long been disbanded and its cloud-seeding techniques based on the use of expensive silver iodide have been superseded by the Israelis using an inexpensive and far more natural product: sea salt.

Chinese and Israeli researchers have shown that the average precipitation on Mt Hua near Xi'an in central China has decreased by 20per cent amid increasing levels of man-made air pollution during the past 50 years. The precipitation loss was doubled on days that had the poorest visibility because of pollution particles in the air. This explains the widely observed trends of decrease in mountain precipitation relative to the rainfall in nearby densely populated lowlands, which until now had not been directly ascribed to air pollution.

Some of the most chilling evidence was presented by Rosenfeld's Australian-based research associate Aron Gingis in a 2002 submission to the House of Representatives standing committee on agriculture, fisheries and forestry concerning future water supplies for Australia's rural industries and communities.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's satellite map of southeast Australia, enhanced by Rosenfeld, shows the frightening persistence and longevity of pollutant trails across vast areas, including the all-important Snowy Mountains catchments. It may well be concluded that the increasing emissions from the phalanx of brown coal-burning power stations at Hazelwood and other locations in Gippsland, Victoria, have substantially wrecked the natural precipitation processes over the once hydrologically rich Australian Alps.

If Rosenfeld's scientific interpretations are correct, then southern Australia would greatly benefit from the application of his discoveries. At the very least, Rosenfeld's conclusions should be accorded appropriate evaluation and testing by an unprejudiced panel of peers.

Yet his work so far has been ignored in Australia because it does not fit in with the dominant paradigm that holds CO2 responsible for reduced rainfall in semi-arid regions.

Scientists, like all other people, need to remain open to competing views and avoid the danger of being locked into tunnel vision through group obsession, which is what global warming seems to have become.