Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Vegemite name smart or stupid?

They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. If true, the stupid name is in fact a winner. Most Australians feel some ownership of their beloved spread so there is great interest in the matter

IT MUST have seemed like a good idea at the time. But no sooner had Kraft trumpeted the name of its new Vegemite variant, iSnack 2.0, than it was met with almost universal condemnation by customers. On Saturday, the internet bristled with indignation at the name chosen from 48,000 suggestions by Vegemite fans as part of a public relations campaign to name its new cheese-based spread.

But the internet-savvy generation that Kraft sought to court with the new name appears to be turning on it with a savagery not seen since Coca-Cola changed its recipe in 1985 and rebranded it New Coke.

By last night the number of negative comments on Twitter, the microblogging site which has 700,000 Australian users and where consumers have collectively vented their spleen, numbered in the thousands. A website, Names That Are Better Than iSnack 2.0, has also sprung up.

Even Kraft appears to be hesitant to give unqualified support to the name - chosen by a 27-year-old West Australian and announced on Saturday. A spokesman, Simon Talbot, admitted it was polarising consumers but said the negativity was confined mainly to older consumers. Kraft has shipped its 3 millionth jar since the competition's launch in July, he said, so the product was proving more popular than the name.

But he left open the possibility of change. ''I can't say that we are not changing it. All I can say is that we are listening to consumers and, yes, there are some strong feelings towards it. It has taken us by surprise.''

Nick Foley, managing director of the branding agency Landor Associates, said the idea of asking shoppers to come up with a name was excellent but ultimately the name failed. ''They are taking the 'i' that is associated with the iPod and 2.0, which is a term for the web. So what does any of that have to do with a food product?''

Other marketing experts said Kraft was being canny, citing the adage that all publicity is good publicity. Paul Harrison, a lecturer in marketing at Deakin Business School, said the product was gaining valuable awareness and if people liked the product then a ''daggy name'' hardly mattered. ''I remember people questioned what Tim Tam meant when that was launched … it takes time for a brand name to be accepted.''


Political dishonesty in search of the grey vote

Are you appalled by the greedy decision by the state governments to appropriate a quarter of the hard-won $32-a-week age pension increase from singles living in public housing? Do you share the view of the federal minister Jenny Macklin that the states' behaviour is ''totally unacceptable''?

If you do, you probably see yourself as one of the more caring members of society. Sorry, I don't agree. Your sympathy's too selective. If you really cared you'd give the matter a bit more thought and not be such an emotional easy touch. When it comes to ''hard head, soft heart'' you flunk on both.

As for the Rudd Government, its outrage is confected. This isn't compassion for the needy, it's vote-seeking populism. Macklin, who's been expert in this area for decades, should be ashamed of herself.

The minority of needy people who manage to make it into the hugely under-supplied public housing are on a relatively good wicket. Whereas those who don't make it struggle to pay a rent based on what the market will bear, those in public housing are charged an amount geared to their ability to pay. In most states this is 25 per cent of their income, up to a cap at the market rental. How many private renters do you know spending only a quarter of their income on rent? Although virtually everyone in public housing is needy, not all of them are on a pension that's just been increased by $32 a week.

When you demand that those who have received such an increase be exempted from paying higher rent, you're saying they deserve a concession the others don't get. Why? Why should their rent contribution drop to 23 per cent while everyone else pays 25 per cent? Why are single age pensioners more deserving than the unemployed or sole parents?

And what about all the needy people on the waiting list for public housing? By arguing for some public tenants to get a concession, you're leaving the housing authorities with less money to spend on additional housing. Why's that fair?

The knee-jerk reaction against the supposed iniquity of applying a fundamentally generous rule to age pensioners is symptomatic of a deeper problem. The NSW Opposition's Pru Goward accused the State Government of ''attacking the most vulnerable in our community''.

Do you agree with that? It's nonsense - as I'm sure Goward is smart enough to know. People on the age pension are nowhere near being the most vulnerable. That dubious honour goes to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. After them are the unemployed, sole parents, the disabled and carers of the disabled or frail aged.

Only then come age pensioners - and even among them there are gradations. The great majority who own their own homes are comparatively well-off, those in public housing are next, leaving those in private rental the most needy among the elderly.

But the game we're playing isn't about who's most vulnerable or needy, it's about who we feel most sympathy for. And when it comes to the deserving poor, age pensioners win hands down. They're the most socially acceptable among the needy, the ones most like you and me.

Although like all successful interest groups they feel greatly put upon, the aged are hugely powerful politically. That's because there are so many of them, they have so much time to worry about the deal they're getting - there's something about old age that makes people greedy - and they get so much sympathy from their children and grandchildren.

Every politician understands and panders to the political power of the aged. That's why Kevin Rudd gave them a big pension increase even though it wasn't an election promise, was granted after the budget had plunged into deficit and will be an ever-growing burden on taxpayers for decades to come.

The aged were the backbone of John Howard's electoral support and he threw them bones throughout his time in office, without ever being reckless enough to give them a big, continuing pension increase. The increase was Rudd's attempt to bribe the elderly over to the Labor side.

The proof that this was motivated more by vote-buying than genuine concern for the needy can be found in the fact Rudd was far more generous than the report he commissioned recommended he be.

The Harmer report concluded only single pensioners living alone were greatly in need of an increase to recognise the costs they face. Neither married pensioners nor singles living with others needed a rise. The exception was those, whether married or single, living in private rental accommodation.

The report recommended the single pension be raised from 60 per cent of the married rate to between 64 and 67 per cent. So what did Rudd do? He ignored the recommendation for special assistance to private renters. He ignored the recommendation that the married pension was adequate and awarded a $10 a week increase.

He ignored the finding that singles living with others weren't greatly in need and chose to raise the single pension to a top-of-the-range 66.3 per cent of the married rate. And because he'd unnecessarily increased the married rate this meant the increase in the single rate had to be even bigger.

Sole-parent pensioners were specifically excluded from the increase, as were the unemployed. Harmer was not permitted to inquire into the adequacy of their payments. Because pensions are indexed to average earnings rather than prices, they rise by a per cent or two more each year than the dole does. The latest increase puts the gap between the single age pension and the single dole at $108 a week.

What makes the jobless and sole parents so undeserving? Their lack of political clout. Being either bludgers or immoral, they get little sympathy from the public. And since the voters have no sympathy for them, neither has Saint Kevin, the great social democrat. You may call this compassion. I don't.


Mining magnate attacks 'racist' treatment of Chinese

There could be something in this accusation. The unions have never liked the Chinese (they work too hard) and unions do have weight with a Leftist government

THE nation's fifth-richest man, Clive Palmer, has denounced the federal government's foreign investment rules as racist, claiming they are weighted against Chinese companies seeking to buy into Australian resource projects. The Queensland-based mining magnate warned that Chinese investors would not tolerate "the idea of being discriminated against because of the colour of their skin".

Contrasting an exemption allowing US investors to invest up to $953 million in an Australian business without foreign investment approval with the tight controls applying to the Chinese in the resource sector, Mr Palmer said the absence of a "level playing field" could cause Beijing to spend its estimated $1.8 trillion in cash reserves elsewhere. "We've got the opportunity to grab that if our politicians could only be fair and treat the Chinese people and Chinese government with the dignity they deserve," Mr Palmer said. "Why should the average American, regardless of his education or qualifications, have the right to invest $950m in Australia but the average Chinese person, regardless of how much money he has, is not allowed to invest without our Treasurer saying so?"

His comments, to a business lunch in Brisbane yesterday, come at a time when the standoff over the detention in China of Australian businessman Stern Hu, knockbacks under foreign investment rules of a series of Chinese resource investments and a defence white paper identifying China's military build-up as cause to boost the Australian navy have strained Sino-Australian relations.

Foreign Investment Review Board director Patrick Colmer last week warned Chinese investors to talk to the advisory body first, before signing deals.

Two Chinese government-backed companies, Wugang Australia Resources and China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Co, have been on the wrong end of recent national interest decisions on resource investments in South Australia and Western Australia respectively.

Australia's ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, yesterday sought to further calm tensions on the eve of the ruling Communist Party's 60th anniversary celebrations tomorrow, saying Australia did not see China as a military threat. "Obviously China's own defence spending is rising very rapidly," Mr Raby said in a rare interview via online video with the China Daily. "We think that is as it should be, given the growth of the Chinese economy and the need for modernisation of the Chinese armed forces. "Our white paper is not about any particular nation, or source of threat, but rather looks at the range of contingencies that the Australian government needs to look at in the next 10 to 20 years."

Mr Raby said the bilateral relationship was "excellent", with Australia and China's leaders meeting "regularly either bilaterally or at the margins of major international conferences". "China is our second-largest trading partner, and there are something like 120,000 Chinese students studying in Australia," he said. "So which ever measure you want to use, it's a very busy, dynamic relationship."

Mr Palmer this week returned from an investment mission to China, where he was drumming up support for his company's $7 billion development in central Queensland's Galilee Basin, combining a giant new coalmine with a purportedly "clean" power station, rail and port upgrades.

The larger-than-life businessman has a personal wealth of $3.42bn, making him Queensland's richest and the fifth-wealthiest nationally. Mr Palmer let fly at Wayne Swan, who is responsible for the Foreign Investment Review Board, referring to the Treasurer as a "goose ... or waterfowl of some description" and warning that he would go to the High Court at the first opportunity if one of his developments was affected.

Mr Swan's office hit back last night with a statement playing up Mr Palmer's financial support for the Liberal National Party in Queensland.


"Tough love" welfare policies work -- as quarantining parent payments cuts indigenous truancy

INDIGENOUS leader Noel Pearson's tough welfare reforms in Cape York, which financially punish the parents of children who repeatedly miss school, have dramatically boosted attendance rates.

A report to be tabled today in Queensland parliament shows that school attendance in one of the nation's most troubled Aboriginal communities, Aurukun, has almost doubled since the introduction last year of the Family Responsibilities Commission in four Cape York communities. The report on the FRC, which links welfare payments to social responsibility, allows a comparison of school attendance in the four Cape York communities that are taking part in the welfare reform trial, one year on from its introduction.

The communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge are all part of the $48million four-year Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, which is being funded by the federal and Queensland governments in partnership with the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, founded by Mr Pearson. It aims to tackle school attendance, drug and alcohol abuse, health, child safety, economic development and housing.

The FRC is a key plank of the Cape York reform agenda, with a magistrate and respected Aboriginal community members sitting on a commission that has the power to direct that a person's income be managed by Centrelink. The FRC is notified if a person's child is absent from school three times during a term or is not enrolled in school, if a person is the subject of a child safety report or is convicted of an offence in the Magistrates Court, or if someone breaches their tenancy agreement. The project is aimed at restoring social norms through collective responsibility.

Figures contained in today's quarterly report show that school attendance has increased in Aurukun, which had an average attendance rate of 37 per cent 12 months ago and now is achieving an average rate of 63 per cent, while Mossman Gorge rose from 60.9 per cent to 81.6 per cent.

Attendance at schools in Coen and Hope Vale have experienced a slight reduction, with Coen's attendance rate falling from 96.8per cent to 93.6 per cent, and Hope Vale's attendance falling marginally from 87.6 per cent to 86.9 per cent. Those two communities have remarkably high rates of indigenous attendance compared with poor attendance rates in remote schools across the nation.

The Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Desley Boyle, said the commission had been working with local schools, parents and case managers during the first six months of this year to devise ways of getting children to come to school. "I want to applaud all those involved, including parents and community leaders," she said. "As a result of this concerted effort, there are important improvements in school attendance."

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said yesterday research indicated that education and employment made the largest contribution to closing the life expectancy gap. "The latest report from the commission shows a promising upward trend in school attendance, and demonstrates what can be achieved when parents take responsibility for their child's future," she said.

Figures contained in the quarterly report reveal that the commission has been following through vigorously on the punitive aspects of the welfare reform project. Between April and June this year, there were 31 conditional income management orders issued. More than 252 school attendance notices were issued, together with 46 child safety notices, 336 magistrates court notices, and two housing tenancy notices.

Those who are issued with such notices are referred to the FRC, which sits periodically in each of the four Cape York communities. When the FRC receives a referral it typically holds a conference in an informal setting with the notice recipient, who is encouraged to come an agreement with the commission about an appropriate response to the issues that have led to the notice being issued. If the person is unwilling to change their behaviour, the FRC can issue warnings, refer the person to community support services, or order income management.

The FRC is a crucial aspect of the Cape York Institute and governments' efforts to reinforce indigenous community values of respect and responsibility, as well as determining what actions will be taken at a community level to address dysfunctional behaviour.

The federal government has also moved to link school attendance to welfare in certain communities in the NT.

But Mr Pearson's tough model measures to instil social norms have not been popular with all Aboriginal leaders. Indigenous education expert Chris Sarra yesterday slammed government attempts to combat truancy through welfare quarantining as ill-conceived and a waste of taxpayers' money. Dr Sarra said the policies -also being trialled in the NT and scheduled for testing in suburban Brisbane - were ill-conceived because they are based on flawed assumptions. "The assumptions are that parents are actively trying to keep their kids away from school, that parents don't want quality education for their kids, and that schools are the kind of places that are really exciting for every child," Dr Sarra said. "That's simply not the case." Dr Sarra is the executive director of the Queensland University of Technology's Stronger Smarter Institute and is the former principal of Cherbourg primary school.

A fortnight ago, Federal Minister for Families Jenny Macklin and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced that a year-long trial would begin in Brisbane's urban southern fringe, which could see parents lose welfare payments if their child was routinely and inexplicably absent from school. The trial will also run in the remote indigenous communities of Doomadgee and Mornington Island and follows a trial in several Northern Territory communities.

The Queensland and Northern Territory trials are separate to the Cape York welfare reform trials.


Muslim stupidity again

And official stupidity in pandering to it. The health and welfare of a patient should always be the first priority of paramedics. Muslim males are incredibly insecure about their women -- a sign of weak character, it seems to me

A PRIVATE ambulance crew who stopped at a major accident where a baby's life was in the balance claim they were abused and ordered to leave the scene. Rian Holden chanced on a Melton crash scene where eight people were injured after their people-carrier flipped on Sunday. He said that he and his partner stopped to help Ambulance Victoria crews, who gladly accepted. Mr Holden said paramedics were struggling to attend to all the injured -- with both a mother and her child in a critical condition.

The private operator, who runs Event Medical Solutions, said he followed instructions of paramedics, helping move the child on to a spine board and administering first aid to others while his partner sat with an injured Muslim woman in traditional dress.

But Mr Holden said problems arose as he took the blood pressure and pulse rate of the injured woman. Ambulance Victoria operations manager Paul Holman had ordered him to leave. "It was in bad taste," Mr Holden said. "We copped a gob full of abuse. It makes you not want to do that in future. "It's all because he has a problem with me. Everyone was helping and we rendered basic first aid."

Other trained medical professionals stopped at the scene, including two nurses, while bystanders sheltered the injured from high winds. As helicopters transported the critically injured mother and child, police were asked to ensure Mr Holden left the site.

Mr Holden has written to Police and Emergency Minister Bob Cameron and to Ambulance Victoria chief executive officer Greg Sassella, demanding an apology. But Ambulance Victoria's Mr Holman said he was only short with the private operator because he had the welfare of patients on his mind. He said one of the injured men was becoming irate that Mr Holden was treating his wife -- that created a culturally sensitive situation. "I don't know him (Mr Holden) at all," Mr Holman said. "These people are Muslim. I asked him to get out of the ambulance, thanked him and asked him to leave.

"I was probably short because I had eight critically ill patients. I wasn't in the mood to have a long conversation. "He was asked to leave politely. And I did get the police to make sure he left." Mr Holman said he was concerned about Mr Holden's credentials but insisted he had not been rude to him.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Google monkey business again

They have blocked me from updating DISSECTING LEFTISM on the pretext that it seems to be a spam blog. Since it has had daily updates since July 2002, they must have moronic algorithms to think so. Even more moronic is the fact that they have not blocked the large font version of the blog, which has identical content and is also updated daily. I have applied for a review of the block so I hope the block is lifted soon. I am not due to post there again until roughly 12 hours from now

Only NSW is set to use the best method of teaching kids how to read

The amazing defiance by teachers of all the research evidence shows how deeply they are involved with the most destructive elements of the Left: Simplistic theories must triumph, no matter how much havoc they cause. And the havoc wreaked on literacy has been extreme, with many kids years behind where they could be in reading ability.

FOUR years after the national inquiry into teaching reading, one Australian government has finally embraced the key recommendation that children be taught the sounds that make up words as an essential first step in learning to read. The NSW government has released literacy teaching guides incorporating the latest research evidence on the best way to teach reading. The guides mandate that children from the first years of school be explicitly taught the sounds of letters and how to blend and manipulate sounds to form words in daily 10 to 20-minute sessions.

The guides set out key principles for teachers to follow in reading instruction, stipulating that phonics need to be taught to a level where children can automatically recall the knowledge. They also debunk "common myths" about phonics that "have almost become accepted as truths", including that "phonics knowledge is caught, not taught" or that having a sound of the week is an effective way of teaching. Devised in response to the 2005 national review on teaching reading, the NSW guidelines were yesterday lauded as the benchmark for the rest of the country.

A bitter debate has raged for the past three decades over the teaching of reading, with the proponents of phonics pitted against those favouring the "whole language" method, which emphasises other skills instead of sounding words.

Whole language advocates encourage students faced with an unfamiliar word to look at the other words in the sentence, the picture on the page or the shape of the letters rather than by "sounding out" the word. The national review, released after an inquiry led by the late educational researcher Ken Rowe, was one of three large international studies in the past decade to examine all the evidence about teaching reading, including an earlier US report and Britain's Rose report, completed in 2006.

All three reviews concluded the same thing, that teaching children phonics and how to blend sounds to make words was a necessary first step in learning to read, but not the only skill required.

The Australian inquiry was prompted by a letter from reading researchers and cognitive psychologists, many based at Macquarie University, concerned about the state of literacy teaching in the nation. One of the signatories to the letter, Macquarie University professor Max Coltheart, yesterday said the NSW guides were entirely consistent with the recommendations of the reading inquiry and that "Ken Rowe would have been delighted". Professor Coltheart called on the other states and territories to follow NSW's lead.

Jim Rose, author of the British report and now reviewing the English primary curriculum for the British government, praised the NSW guides for "establishing the essential importance of phonics". "It provides some firm guidance for principals and teachers rather than leaving them to reinvent reading instruction, school by school," Sir Jim said.

The assistant principal and kindergarten teacher at Miranda Public School in Sydney's south, Susan Orlovich, has already started using the guides in teaching her students. "For the first time, we have really clear materials and guidelines for setting up an early literacy program that's integrated and balanced but ensures we also teach phonics and phonemic awareness explicitly and systematically," she said. Ms Orlovich said the guides had struck the right balance between teaching the skills necessary to sound out words and decode the alphabet, and comprehension with students being able to write their own words. They also gave teachers strategies for students at different stages in recognition that some already understand the phonemic basis of language.

"Some kids can learn with whole language, and make those connections and do phonemic substitution, so if they know how to write 'look', they can write 'book'," she said. "Some kids are able to make that substitution without being taught, but for other students, you need to teach them explicitly, make it visual for them."

In an interview with The Australian during a visit to Australia last week, Sir Jim said the simple view of reading was that it had two dimensions, comprehension and word recognition. While teaching sounds is often denigrated by the whole language side of the reading debate as a decoding skill unnecessary to be able to read, Sir Jim said it was essential children knew how the alphabet worked and that it was a code to be understood. "It's not just barking at print, although that is a stage you go through," he said.

Professor Coltheart, said he understood the new national English curriculum being written would include extensive material on the teaching of phonics in the early years of school, including phonemic awareness in the first year. "This alignment between the national curriculum and the NSW guides for teachers is going to be of enormous benefit for the state's young children. I hope other states will be following in NSW's footsteps," he said.

Sir Jim said the reading debate was a false dichotomy and the two sides had more in common than the extremists were prepared to recognise. "A picture has emerged from the research that is overwhelmingly clear; I can't see any conflict, they're closer than they admit," he said. "I don't understand why they can't accept good evidence that would enrich both sides."

The NSW Education Department has produced two guides, one focused specifically on phonics and a companion guide on phonemic awareness, or the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds that make up words. In response to the myth that phonics knowledge is "caught, not taught", the guide says letter-sound correspondences are arbitrary and therefore difficult to discover without explicit teaching. "Left to chance or inference alone, many students would acquire phonics knowledge too slowly or fail to learn it at all," it says.

Another myth debunked is that teaching phonics impedes student comprehension by having them rely too much on "decoding" rather than "reading for meaning", resulting in students "barking at print" without understanding what they're reading. "Effective phonics teaching supports students to readily recognise and produce familiar words accurately and effortlessly and to identify and produce words that are new to them. Developing automatic word recognition will support and enhance students' comprehension skills," the guide says.


More regulation of banks will hit small business

OPPOSITION treasury spokesman Joe Hockey warns further tightening of Australian bank lending will place an undue burden on small business. At the Group of 20 summit's conclusion last week, the world's leading developed and developing nations agreed to improve the quantity and quality of bank capital and "discourage excessive leverage".

Mr Hockey said he was keen to see more detail from the G20 forum on capital adequacy requirements, the ratio of a bank's capital to its risk, and what impact they would have on Australian financial institutions.

"Already you are seeing the Australian banks run a very tight line with small business," he told ABC TV on Sunday. "If there is additional capital needed by those banks, and if it does mean that the banks will tighten up on their lending practices, it will be much more difficult for small business to get money."

Mr Hockey called on the Federal Government to establish a securitisation market in Australia that would provide alternative funding to smaller financial institutions. "My concern at the moment is that there is a lack of competition between the major banks and other financial institutions," he said. "This is a looming issue, a very real issue for small business, a very real issue for home borrowers. "The lack of competition in banking is a problem and the Government doesn't want to do anything about it."



Three current articles grouped below

Lots of climate skeptics among Australia's conservatives

(Reminder for readers outside Australia: The Liberal party is Australia's major conservative party)

Only 12 members of Malcolm Turnbull's backbench support their leader's plan to negotiate with Labor on an emissions scheme. [And the National Party is SOLIDLY opposed]

The opposition's emissions trading spokesman says he's not surprised two-thirds of Liberal backbenchers are opposed to negotiating with Labor over its carbon pollution reduction scheme. But Ian Macfarlane insists the alternative is to let Kevin Rudd force a "crazy" scheme on Australia that could destroy the economy. It's been revealed more than two-thirds of Liberal backbenchers disagree with Malcolm Turnbull's plan to negotiate amendments with the government on its ETS.

Just 12 of 59 federal Liberal MPs support Mr Turnbull's decision to negotiate, The Australian reports. Another 41 want the opposition to either oppose the draft laws completely or negotiate amendments only if a parliamentary vote is delayed until after global climate change talks in December.

"It is obvious to everyone on our side of politics that this is an emissions trading scheme, in its current form, that will cost jobs and will see industry close and move overseas," Mr Macfarlane told ABC Radio. "On that basis, I'm not surprised to see such strong opposition from the backbench." But while everyone in the coalition would prefer the legislation not to come before parliament until after Copenhagen, the prime minister was vowing to rush "headlong into this" so the coalition had to negotiate.

"I'm being pragmatic and I'm being open with everybody," Mr Macfarlane said. "The reality is we do not control the parliament. Control of the parliament lies with the prime minister (and) he is on this crazy path that will potentially destroy Australia's economy. "Without being able to stop him we need to ensure that the legislation that goes forward is in fact legislation that will protect jobs ... and industry." Mr Macfarlane admitted the partyroom would have the final say, but stressed the best option was to amend the legislation "if Kevin Rudd won't see sense".


Victoria celebrates as September's rainfall hits highest level since 2000

A teeth-grinder for the Greenies and their claim that drought proves global warming. Only disaster makes them happy

FARMERS are rejoicing in the best September rainfall for nine years, which could have far-reaching benefits for the Victorian economy. The Wimmera and Mallee in particular have had significant falls, providing a much-needed boost for local farmers. "A lot of people who would have been questioning their future have had their faith restored," said Farmers Federation president Andrew Broad. "It is pretty much the best start to spring we could have hoped for."

At the weekend, many parts of the state gained more than 100mm [4 inches] in 72 hours. The wettest area is Mt Baw Baw, which has received 357mm of rain this month.

And it is also good news in Melbourne as well, with the city's catchments boasting an increase of 17 billion litres. Water storages for the capital have risen from 30.8 to 31.7 per cent. But while Victoria celebrates, parts of southern NSW are still up to 20 per cent below their average for the month.


Coal firms' advertisements hit emissions plan

COALMINING companies have rolled out a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign in key mining areas warning that the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme could force pit closures and job losses. The campaign - designed by Neil Lawrence, creator of the "Kevin 07" advertising blitz that helped put Labor into office - was launched yesterday by Australian Coal Association executive director Ralph Hillman. The "Let's Cut Emissions, not Jobs" campaign began in central Queensland, which includes the key Labor-held seats of Flynn, Capricornia and Dawson, and will be rolled out in other major coalmining areas such as the Hunter Valley in NSW.

Mr Hillman said Canberra's proposed carbon reduction scheme was flawed in its treatment of coal. "The proposed plan would not cut carbon emissions while costing regional Queensland thousands of coal industry jobs," he said.

The advertisements were launched as Anglo-American chief executive Cynthia Carroll warned the ETS could cost Australia's coal industry $14 billion in its first 10 years of operation. The ads, to run on regional TV, radio and newspapers, say: "A new tax on coal mines is coming. Many thousands of regional jobs could be going."

But Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said Treasury modelling showed the coal industry would continue to grow under the government's scheme. He said only about 12 per cent of Australian coalmines would face a "material" cost under Canberra's plan, and they had been allocated $750 million in targeted assistance over the first five years of the scheme.

Mr Hillman said the coal industry accepted the science of global warming and supported action to cut carbon in the atmosphere. He said the campaign - revealed last week by The Australian - was being run because coalmining communities had not been properly warned of the effects on regional areas of the scheme in its current form. "People need to understand mines will close and thousands of jobs could go as a direct result of the proposed tax," he said. "Even more frustrating is the reality that global carbon emissions will not be reduced."


Monday, September 28, 2009

The usual rush to shriek "racism"

It is only racist that blacks get more severe treatment from the legal system if you assume that blacks are just like us only browner. And anybody who knows the first thing about Aborigines knows that not to be so. Even advocates for Aborigines don't say that and governments from both sides of politics have treated Aborigines differently -- and continue to do so. And a major reason for that is the extraordinarily high rate of child abuse and domestic violence among Aborigines -- something that has often been documented and is denied by no-one involved with Aborigines. I have seen quite amazing examples of Aborigine misogyny with my own eyes.

The different treatment of Aborigines can be explained in many ways without invoking racism. For a start, their much lower IQ will often mean that they present poorly in court -- giving little impression of penitence or hope for reform. Secondly, the extraordinarily lenient sentences handed out when tribal custom can be invoked in some way (try 6 month's jail for raping a 13 year-old, for instance) suggests that the justice system leans over backwards to be lenient, with the result that an Aborigine will sometimes be charged with a much lower level of offence than the crime warrants. And the sentence in such cases might well be expected to be more severe that the norm for that category of offence. It is in fact that which would be my immediate explanation for the statistics below

POLICE across Australia are far more likely to arrest young Aborigines and see that they go to court than non-indigenous juveniles, who are considerably more likely to be let off with a warning or caution. A groundbreaking study by the Australian Institute of Criminology to be published today paints a disturbing picture of young Aborigines' contact with police.

It may go some way to explaining why indigenous 10 to 17-year-olds are 28 times more likely to be in detention than non-indigenous youths.

Pulling together for the first time comparative national data on young people's contact with police and the courts, the AIC report reveals the differential treatment of indigenous children doesn't stop at the front gate of the juvenile justice system. In at least two states, Western Australia and South Australia, young Aborigines are more likely to be convicted in children's courts than non-indigenous juveniles for the same type of offences, the report shows. No other states provided data on conviction rates.

In Western Australia, the one state that issued statistics on sentencing, young Aborigines are more than twice as likely as non-indigenous juveniles to be given a jail term after being found guilty.

The AIC study, "Juveniles' contact with the criminal justice system in Australia", finds that in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, police are more likely to arrest and refer to court young Aborigines, compared with non-indigenous youths. Information from Victoria and Tasmania was not available.

"(In NSW in 2007-08), 48 per cent of indigenous juveniles were transferred to court, compared to 21 per cent of non-indigenous juveniles," the report says. "And 32 per cent of non-indigenous juveniles receive warnings compared with 18 per cent of indigenous juveniles. "(In Queensland in 2006-07), indigenous juveniles were more likely to be processed by way of arrest (39 per cent) than any other method, while non-indigenous juveniles were more likely to be dealt with via a caution (49 per cent) than any other method of processing." In Western Australia, where half of all juveniles arrested are Aboriginal, 71 per cent of the cautions issued in 2005 were to non-indigenous youths, 29 per cent to Aboriginal juveniles.


Penny-pinching government healthcare system refuses to save seriously ill young woman

Forcing her into expensive but successful private treatment. In their "kind" socialist hearts, they condemned her to death. Now they are in coverup mode and refusing to admit error -- even though she is living proof of their wrong call

THE Department of Human Services has been accused of abandoning a Victorian woman with a brain lesion who survived only because of life-saving surgery interstate. Victorian medicos ruled her condition was inoperable and the DHS has refused to pay $300,000 for the surgery in a private NSW hospital.

Alicia Withington was sent home to die, but the 30-year-old is living proof the Victorian system failed her.

In another twist, the state Opposition has accused the department of hiding documents relating to Health Minister Daniel Andrews' decision not to fund her operation. Details of the case come after a string of controversies involving the DHS, including:

REVELATIONS vulnerable women in state-monitored care homes were trading sex for cigarettes, or being raped.

CLAIMS the DHS was aware of violence in the home of a toddler six months before she died after an assault by her father.

SHOCK details of a man fathering four children with his daughter who he used as a sex slave for 30 years.

Mrs Withington said Victoria's top neurosurgeons refused to operate on her arteriovenous malformations (AVM) - a tangled mass of abnormal blood vessels 12.5cm long in the right side of her brain. "I had a ticking time bomb in my head about to explode and I was told it was too risky to operate," she said. "I feel I was sent home to die at the age of 27."

But Mrs Withington, now 30, who runs a cafe in Ocean Grove with husband Daniel, sought a second opinion. Sydney specialist Prof Michael Morgan agreed it was risky, but operated in March 2008. "No one should have ever said my AVM was inoperable, because here I am today walking, talking and very much alive," Mrs Withington said.

Mrs Withington and other family members have taken out second mortgages on their homes to pay the bill. "The Health Minister, Daniel Andrews, refused to pay it because he said I had gone through the private system in NSW," she said. "It's not like I went to another country." She says the Victorian Government should have funded the operation because it should have recognised it could be successful.

Opposition community services spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge has taken up Mrs Withington's cause, applying under Freedom of Information for documents held by Daniel Andrews and DHS. Officials told her there were no documents held by Mr Andrews' office on Mrs Withington, in correspondence seen by the Sunday Herald Sun. But in a letter obtained by the paper, Mr Andrews discusses with a Labor MP why the Government would not fund Mrs Withington's treatment. A tribunal has ordered the department to answer requests for information.

A spokesman for Mr Andrews said: "It would not be appropriate for the Government to selectively fund private treatments." He said the minister's letter discussing Mrs Withington's plight was not in Mr Andrews' office, but held by the DHS.


Solar Energy Hits the Dust

Dust on a solar panel will reduce its efficiency by up to 50%. See here

The Day Solar Energy disappeared in the Australian Dust Storm (23/9/09). This picture was taken from the office of the Carbon Sense Coalition in south eastern Queensland, Australia.

The green coalition in Canberra recently decreed that by 2020, just a decade away, Australia must produce 20% of its power using feeble energy sources such as sunbeams and sea breezes. This Green Plan will require vast areas of dry and dusty Australian deserts to be covered by solar panels.

Have they allowed for the army of cleaning persons and the Murray Rivers of water that will be needed to wash the panels after every dust storm? Maybe this where the Green jobs are coming from, and why Penny Wong is hoarding water permits?


And still they come

More responses to Mr Rudd's welcome mat

TWO more boatloads of suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted by authorities in waters off Australia's northwest coast. Border Protection intercepted a vessel approximately 93 nautical miles northwest of Darwin just after 4pm on Sunday. It was carrying 12 passengers.

About an hour later another boat carrying an estimated 28 passengers and four crew was intercepted seven nautical miles north of Ashmore Reef. All on board the boats are on their way to Christmas Island for security, identity and health checks.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said people smuggling was a worldwide problem and Australia was committed to working closely with its neighbours to address the issue. "Situations around the world mean that large numbers of displaced people are looking for settlement in stable, democratic nations such as Australia," he said in a statement. Such people can "fall prey to people smugglers", he added. "People smuggling is not just an issue for Australia - it is a global and regional problem," he said.

Mr O'Connor maintained recent meetings with government officials in Indonesia and Malaysia "had led to positive steps forward in bilateral and regional cooperation to deter people smuggling".

More than 1,400 people have arrived on 28 unauthorised vessels so far this year.

The opposition wants an inquiry into border protection and believes the increase in boat arrivals is leaving security at sea and airports exposed as customs assets are deployed to the north in increasing numbers.


Even Victoria is now making nonsense of the Greenie "drought" panic

ONCE parched creeks are now flowing across Victoria as reservoirs fill from days of heavy rain and snow after days of wild weather. The weather bureau has issued a string of flood and flood-watch warnings after deluges in some areas, with up to 175mm of snow and rain at Mt Baw Baw in Victoria’s high country over the past week.

There are minor flood warnings for the Goulburn River, Macalister River, Westernport catchments. Flood watches have been issued for the La Trobe, Thomson and Avon catchments. And initial minor flood warnings have been issued for the La Trobe, Moe and the upper Yarra river.

Ski operators, farmers and gardeners are among those who have welcomed the much-needed spring rains, which are now drifting east of the state....

Senior forecaster Peter Newham said today there would be a “significant improvement to the weather in the next 24 hours” after nearly a week of rain, although the climate was still “pretty miserable" in the city, with showers in the east and Gippsland region. Forecasters now expect a weak front to pass through the state on Wednesday, bringing the potential for showers.

Mr Newham did not expect the falls to be significant compared with the past week of rain, which also saw heavy falls at Monbulk (132mm) and Marysville (122mm). He said the significant falls had seen most catchments receive 50-150mm of rain, with the reservoirs set to rise gradually as water flowed into them from burgeoning streams. Water catchments are finally seeing some rain soak in, and inflows to dams are picking up to push our storages to 31.3 per cent full....

Spring snow has been falling thick and fast on our ski slopes, with such good cover some operators are staying open an extra week for school holiday fun. There have been falls all across the state. Mt Baw Baw and Mt Buller have been belted with rain, with Mt Baw Baw copping more than 80mm since Friday.

Ski resort owners are rubbing their hands as some of the best falls of the season hit the slopes. Mt Buller and Falls Creek have decided to extend their seasons. Mt Buller spokeswoman Rhylla Morgan said almost 60cm of snow had fallen during the weekend, providing excellent cover. "We were pretty much out of snow and were going to close but I was out today and snow was up to my thighs,'' Ms Morgan said.

Deb Howie, from Falls Creek, said a variety of beginner and intermediate lifts would remain open this week. "It's been an amazing season, we have had almost 35cm this weekend,'' Ms Howie said.

Wet weather looks set to continue throughout parts of the state. Forecaster Dennis Luke said the east of the state would get some good falls at the end of the week.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Death panels coming to Australia

Courtesy of a Leftist government, of course: The same folk who brought you eugenics in the first half of the 20th century. This already happens in England and is much feared by opponents of ObamaCare -- after evil Ezekiel proposed such measures

DYING cancer patients could be weaned off taxpayer-funded drugs as the Federal Government is confronted with spiralling health costs. Health Minister Nicola Roxon wants debate about the moral challenge as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee plans trials to determine when costly drugs become ineffective and should no longer be dispensed.

Talks between the PBAC and oncologists are part of a broader debate on how taxpayer money could be better spent, as doctors brace themselves for a rising tide of cancer patients, an ageing population and growing health expenses.

Ms Roxon is also believed to be talking to doctors and pharmacists about diverting patients to some cheaper generic drugs. It could spark greater competition and save the Government millions of dollars. [But see here]

Ms Roxon argues that relief from cancer drugs in the last months of life should not be underestimated, but says some are not cure-alls. "Would the community support looking at mechanisms to better control the use of these medicines so that they are only used when the evidence shows they are truly effective, balanced by greater investment in palliative care, so we can better meet the needs and preferences of patients at the end of life?" The question recently put to doctors in Sydney comes as PBAC chairman Lloyd Sansom stressed that moves to keep the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme sustainable would not impeach or impair patient safety. The PBS costs taxpayers $8 billion a year for more than 3500 subsidised medicines.

Prof Sansom said more information was needed. "We need trials to be done ... to address any advantages in continuing with drugs when the patient (cancer) has progressed. If there is any benefit," he said.

The Australian Medical Association vice-president Steve Hambleton said the issue was sensitive and some doctors had trouble saying "no" to patients. "If you're on your last legs, there's no point in having expensive chemotherapy if there's no clinical benefits," Dr Hambleton said.

But apart from cancer drugs - which can cost taxpayers up to $50,000 a patient - Ms Roxon is asking why doctors dispense expensive, subsidised drugs to patients when cheaper generics are prescribed.

Ms Roxon told The Courier-Mail yesterday the Government had to be smarter in how health dollars were allocated. "The current pharmacy agreement negotiations are very important," she said.


Disgraceful government treatment of military widows

SIX months after her husband was killed fighting in Afghanistan, Breeanna Till is broke - let down by the government that promised solemnly to look after her. Heavily pregnant with the child Sergeant Brett Till will never know, the Sydney widow fears becoming like "a single mum on the dole" when she gives birth in a few weeks, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

The $905 weekly pay her husband brought home lasted just a fortnight after he died in a roadside bomb explosion. In its place, the military gave Mrs Till a compensation payment of just $305 a week.

Sgt Till, 31, was a much-respected explosive ordnance disposal technician from the Incident Response Regiment, stationed at Holsworthy. On March 19, he was with a group of soldiers conducting "route clearance" work in southern Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device was found.

Mrs Till, who looks after Jacob, 10, and Taleah, 7, Sgt Till's children from a previous marriage, is employed as an school art teacher but will soon receive her final pay cheque as she goes on maternity leave. Last week, she broke down in tears as she told a Department of Veterans' Affairs review panel of her plight at a public meeting in Sydney. "What the DVA are offering the family of a man who died in the service of his country is the same as if I was on the dole as a single mum," she said. "It's disappointing... The public opinion is if a guy is killed overseas, his family will be looked after."

Defence Force head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said Sgt Till was "highly skilled and very courageous". "I can think of no more admirable action, nor one more worthy of our gratitude and respect, than that of this fine soldier today," he said at the time. "To the family, I say that our thoughts and prayers - my thoughts and prayers - are with you. I'll ensure you're supported through your time of grief." In a condolence speech to Parliament, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offered the Till family "profound sympathy".

Mrs Till said it had been "difficult" to deal with the issue. "Obviously, I've had to deal with Brett's death itself, but when he died we got the rest of that fortnight's pay, one extra fortnight's payment, then it stopped. "Fortunately, I've been at work still, but the difference between Brett's pay and the compensation is vast."

She said the Department of Veterans' Affairs had also given her a choice of whether to receive a pension or a lump sum. "It's like having to choose whether to house the family or feed them. The lump sum won't pay for a house, the pension won't pay the rent and bills."

The Federal Government is reviewing the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act after a series of complaints by former servicemen.


Homosexuals want to impose themselves on churches

Laws that are already oppressive are not oppressive enough for queers

GAY rights advocates have criticised slated changes to Victoria's equal opportunity laws that will continue to allow religious organisations to discriminate against gays and single parents.

State Attorney-General Rob Hulls said a new Equal Opportunity Bill will be introduced into parliament next year. Under the changes, religious groups will no longer be able to discriminate on the grounds of race, disability, age, physical features, political belief or breastfeeding. But they can continue to discriminate on grounds including sexuality or marital status if it is in accordance with their beliefs.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome says the right to employment and education is more important than pandering to religious prejudice. "Too often this issue is seen as gay rights versus religious freedom when, in fact, it is about the right to a job you're qualified for, to attend the school of your choosing and to receive essential services," he said.

Australian Christian Lobby director Rob Ward said some of the options canvassed as part of a review of exemptions to the Equal Opportunity Act, had they been implemented, would have had serious repercussions for churches, religious schools and church-related organisations. "Faith-based groups throughout Victoria have been united in their strong concern about a number of the options being looked at as they would have undermined the very core of these bodies by preventing them from upholding their beliefs in terms of who they employ and, therefore, how they operate," he said. "It is good to see the Victorian Government respecting those concerns and the basic right to religious freedom in this state."

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission chief executive Helen Szoke said the proposed revamp of the law was a positive step towards a better balance between religious freedom and anti-discrimination. She said she was pleased religious bodies would soon have to demonstrate how employing someone of a particular religion is an inherent requirement of a job. "Religious schools or religious charities, for example, will have to show how belonging to a particular religion is relevant to the job they are trying to fill," Dr Szoke said. "In the case of religious education teachers or chaplains, this will be clear. However, in the case of office staff or the maths teacher it will need to be made explicit how religion is relevant to the job."


More news about the "drought"

Greenies told us solemnly and at length that recent water shortages in some parts of Australia signalled global warming. Does the news below then signal global cooling?

BILLIONS of litres of water are being released out to sea as Adelaide's largest reservoir nears capacity following torrential rain - with more on the way this weekend. SA Water this morning started releasing water from the Mt Bold Reservoir for the first time in almost four years as heavy rain pushed storage levels in Adelaide’s metropolitan reservoirs to 84 per cent.

SA Water spokeswoman Courtney Blacker said an estimated three billion litres could be diverted from Mt Bold dam, along the Onkaparinga River and out to sea by the end of the day. Happy Valley reservoir, which usually takes excess water from Mt Bold, is also close to capacity meaning water must be diverted into the Gulf.

"In the past four days there has been too much water which is a good thing to say,’’ Ms Blacker said. "It’s been 2005 since it (Mt Bold) has been flooded and it’s exciting to see the reservoirs getting full and we haven’t had to pump any River Murray water since July.’’

The public lookout at Mt Bold reservoir has been closed since 4.30am today as a safety precaution while police are urging the public to be aware of fast-flowing water further downstream at the Clarendon Weir. [Being a born pedagogue, I will note once again that the difference between a weir and a dam is that water does not flow over a dam. A weir is a simple barrier]


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brawl involving 200 NON-AFRICAN youths erupts at Melbourne shopping centre

Wow! The embargo on race being mentioned is lifted for once. But only because the offenders were not African this time. Easy to see what we should conclude when race is not mentioned. Around 2006/2007 it was not uncommon for troublemakers in Melbourne to be identified as African but after that an iron curtain on such mentions seems to have come down. Were we supposed to conclude that Africans in Melbourne had suddenly abandoned the very high tendency to criminality that they exhibit in every country in the world where they are found?

GANG violence erupted at a western suburbs shopping centre, with one youth stabbed repeatedly in the chest. The brawl, involving up to 200 teenagers, was only dispersed when police arrived at Aquatic Drive at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong shortly after 4pm yesterday. One boy, 15, was stabbed three times and taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Police were attempting to interview him last night.

The majority of those involved were Pacific Islander and Asian youths, but the cause of the affray is still unknown. Police found knives, sticks and umbrellas at the scene where youths aged between 13 and 15 ran from the scene. Between 40 and 50 people were spoken to by police, who are now searching for CCTV footage.

Acting Sergeant Jacob Bugeja, of Footscray police branch, said fights in the carpark were common. "I'd say it's got something to do with an ongoing school battle,'' he said. "The fact they were all a similar age is an indication of that.''

Sgt Bugeja said they were called to the area every six weeks, but he had not seen as many youths congregating before. The injured teen is in a stable condition.

A similar-sized brawl at Highpoint in October 2007 involved African youths from the Flemington high-rise flats. On that occasion there were in fact two brawls, one inside a cinema and the other in the shopping centre, which had to be shut down. Police arrested and charged several youths.


No security clearance to work at an Australian airport??

That this guy had full access to passenger aircraft shows what bunglers are the bureaucrats who are supposed to keep us safe. No surprise, I suppose. I resolved some years ago never to step on a plane again

A FORMER Qantas cleaner who was jailed yesterday for at least nine years for compiling a ''terrorism training manual'' had been convicted of terrorism-related offences in Lebanon.

Details of Belal Khazaal's overseas convictions emerged in the NSW Supreme Court as the Lakemba man - the first person in Australia convicted of making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act - was sentenced. In December 2003 a Beirut military court convicted Khazaal in absentia of helping to fund a bombing campaign in Lebanon. He was sentenced to 10 years' jail with hard labour.

His Supreme Court trial centred on a 110-page book, Provisions on the Rules of Jihad, compiled in September 2003 using material he downloaded.

Khazaal had the book posted on an extremist website that was endorsed by al-Qaeda and ran publications by leaders of terrorist organisations. He said it was ''strictly religious journalism''.

Justice Megan Latham said it was a ''terrorism training manual'', advocating ''widespread and indiscriminate loss of life, serious injury and serious property damage within the countries identified as enemies of Islam''.

She jailed him for a maximum 12 years. He intends to appeal against his conviction and his sentence.


Guilty until proven innocent

Woman, 71, held for 9 days by mental health chiefs. This should not be allowed without judicial supervision. The woman should have appeared before a judge or magistrate before she was incarcerated

QUEENSLAND Health has defended a system of involuntary admission for people suspected of being mentally ill, after a 71-year-old woman complained of being handcuffed and incarcerated for nine days without cause. Self-described ''free-spirited'' artist Joanna Antonellie, of Stanthorpe, said emergency services forcibly removed her from her home and took her to Toowoomba's Acute Mental Health Clinic on August 25.

Ms Antonellie, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, does not know what triggered her admission but believes she was subject to an Emergency Examination Order (EEO) or Justice Examination Order (JEO) under the Mental Health Act. An EEO can be made by a police officer, ambulance officer or a psychiatrist to detain a person immediately for six hours and for up to 72 hours after examination. A JEO allows someone to apply to a magistrate or JP to have a person undergo a non-urgent mental health assessment within seven days.

Ms Antonellie said she spent a total of nine days in hospital - six days voluntarily for observation - and was examined by three psychiatrists, but was not found to have a mental illness. ''I want to find out why this happened,'' Ms Antonellie said. ''It's not right that this can happen in Australia.''

The former vet nurse, martial arts devotee, counsellor and crocodile hunter was at a loss to explain a motivation, except jealousy or misunderstanding. "I'm an artistic person and I've been an adventurer. I've lived the sort of the life I think people would probably be jealous of,'' she said.

Ms Antonellie has lodged complaints with local member Lawrence Springborg, the Crime and Misconduct Commission and Queensland Police, and has also lodged Freedom of Information requests with various government departments.

Queensland Health senior director Dr William Kingswell said he could not comment on specific cases for privacy reasons but defended the system as an ''important'' tool. "Yes, it would be possible for (JEOs) to be misused but in practice it would be uncommon because you've got to persuade a magistrate (as to the person's illness),'' he said. [That's a laugh. Police know which magistrate will give them whatever they ask for and go to that one] "The strength of this mechanism is for people at their wit's end trying to get treatment for a mentally ill person.''

A QPS spokeswoman confirmed a complaint was being investigated, and said Ms Antonellie was warned handcuffs would be used if she continued to abuse officers.


More disruptive seekers after personal publicity

Greenies say Queensland koalas are 'near extinction'. Even in the unlikely event that it's true, koalas are in plague proportions in other parts of Australia e.g. Kangaroo Island -- so what does it matter? And there are always plenty of koalas at Brisbane's Lone Pine zoo if anybody wants to get up close to one. Yes. I know I don't get the spirit and that a distant glimpse of one up a tree in a forest somewhere is far better than cuddling one in a zoo

CONSERVATIONISTS say koalas are on the brink of extinction in southeast Queensland and more needs to be done to protect them. Hundreds of protesters are expected to rally in Brisbane and march on Parliament House at noon (AEST) today to raise awareness of the plight of the marsupials.

Rally spokeswoman Carolyn Beaton said there had been 25,000 recorded koala deaths in southeast Queensland - the fastest growing region in Australia - over the past decade.

Ms Beaton said rapid development in other parts of the country, particularly along the east coast, was also threatening koala habitat.

"This rally will show our politicians, and indeed the world, that Australia does care about its wildlife and we, as Australians, will not stand by and let the rest of our koalas be wiped out," she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government today announced it would protect 5.6 hectares of state-owned koala habitat at Alexandra Hills.

State Climate Change Minister Kate Jones said the land, located on Windemere Road and of high commercial value, would be handed over to Redland City Council.

The Government is currently drafting a state planning policy aimed at protecting koalas to halt declining numbers and recently completed a koala mapping project.


Friday, September 25, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is not impressed by Kevin Rudd's poorly-attended speech at the United Nations

Sydney's huge dust storm caused by global warming?

You knew that somebody would say it was, didn't you? They knew that they had scant grounds for saying so but some in the media did. Even the guy below -- who knows what really caused it -- can't quite resist the temptation. He also leaves out a lot: like the fact that Northern and Western Australia have had exceptionally good rains recently. And even the drier Southeast (where Melbourne is) that he talks about actually got rain during the Sydney dust storm! It is utter rubbish to claim that Australia as a whole is getting drier. The rains have tended to move North but have certainly not vanished. Quite to the contrary. Most dams in Queensland are full to overflowing. And the Southeast has suffered that way before. In 1901, the mighty Murray river was just a chain of waterholes. Pesky how awkward the whole truth is!

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world and dust storms are fairly common — but only occasionally does the dust reach the coast, and yesterday’s storm was probably the biggest to hit Sydney for 60 years. In fact, this year has been exceptionally violent, with freak weather disasters hitting at bewildering speed every month.

Most bizarrely, this winter (June, July and August) was the hottest on record, and followed desperately dry months, with the lowest rainfall on record in Melbourne. Much of the blame for this can be pinned on an El Niño brewing in the Pacific, as the tropical seas there grow unusually warm and bring heavy rains to South America but leave eastern Australia in drought.

It is no surprise that some of the biggest dust storms in Australia’s history have come in El Niño years — and more dust storms could hit this year.

The storms are an ecological disaster, ripping up valuable topsoil from farmland. But a far greater threat is that much of Australia has been in its worst drought for several years, which has crippled its most prosperous farmland in the Murray-Darling Basin, in the southeast of the country.

This severe drought is difficult to explain simply from natural fluctuations in climate. Instead, Australians are now facing the brutal truth that theirs is largely a hot, dry country that is turning even hotter and drier — and that this is most probably caused by unnatural changes in the climate.


Why are the most negligent and hostile bureaucrats beyond all accountability?

Five people died needlessly because of their indifference to their duties. Unless some of these goons are brought to justice there is just going to be more of such reprehensible behaviour under a cloak of official protection

CRUCIAL evidence on the 2005 sinking of the immigration vessel Malu Sara in the Torres Strait, with the loss of all five on board, has forced the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to acknowledge a failure by rescue authorities to take action that could have averted the tragedy.

A supplementary report, released yesterday by the ATSB, said evidence regarding the state of the Malu Sara had not been passed on, and the "mistaken assumption" that a well-equipped helicopter was not available contributed to the failure to save the lives of five Torres Strait Islanders.

The report said this significant evidence was not provided to the ATSB during the initial safety investigation.

It was revealed during a 2007 inquest that ATSB investigators had not bothered to interview key people involved in decision-making regarding the plight of the Immigration Department boat.

Their original report largely laid the blame for the sinking of the vessel at the feet of the skipper, Wilfred Baira, an Immigration Department official who was instructed to drive the motor vessel on its fateful, 74km trip from Saibai Island near Papua New Guinea to Badu Island, in October 2005.

The instruction was issued by Immigration Department official Garry Chaston, who knew that earlier that day the Malu Sara had been taking water. He was responsible for purchasing the vessel, and knew it had no navigation equipment. Mr Chaston also knew Baira was not licensed to handle the Malu Sara.

Mr Chaston has since been allowed to resign from the department and retire with full superannuation and leave entitlements.

The supplementary report was also strongly critical of Queensland police officer Sergeant Warren Flegg, who was in contact throughout the night with the Malu Sara but did not think its plight required any rescue measures until several hours after Baira reported it was sinking.

The report said: "It was not until 1154 hours on October 15 that the Rescue Co-ordinating Centre in Canberra, at the request of the police, formally assumed responsibility for the co-ordination of the aerial search. This was over eight hours after the water police were told the Malu Sara was sinking and in need of assistance."

The report further acknowledged that Sergeant Flegg did not "task" a helicopter because he did not check earlier information that it was unserviceable. The helicopter was in fact fully operational and available.

On the issue of two people and a pilot in a search plane reporting seeing someone in the water wearing a yellow life jacket, the amended report said because the sighting was unconfirmed, it was officially recorded that there were "no sightings".

In his inquest findings, Queensland Coroner Michael Barnes said the sinking of the Malu Sara was "a foreseeable and totally avoidable disaster that resulted from official indolence and incompetence".

He reported that the five islanders who died were mocked by Sergeant Flegg and rescue officers when they made distress calls by satellite telephone.

No charges have been laid against the builders of the unseaworthy boat or anybody else in regard to the deaths.


Anti-biker laws declared invalid

These laws were a gross assault on civil liberties -- far worse than anything the bikies did. See here

SOUTH Australia's anti-bikie laws have been declared invalid by the Supreme Court, casting doubt on similar legislation elsewhere in the nation. SA was the first state or territory to introduce anti-bikie laws aimed at dismantling the outlaw motorcycle clubs. SA's legislation empowered police to ask magistrates to place control orders on bikie gang members, effectively banning them from associating with each other.

Eight members of the Finks motorcycle club had control orders imposed on them, but two - Sandro Totani and Donald Hudson - challenged the orders in court, arguing they were unconstitutional. In a judgment delivered today, the Full Court of the SA Supreme Court declared the control orders, made under section 14 of the Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008, invalid.

NSW has enacted similar laws while Queensland and Western Australia were set to follow suit.


Another government that knows how to get people out of their cars

Gross lack of track maintenance forces rail speed limit cuts

A LACK of maintenance has seen speed restrictions imposed on trains across Melbourne as the rail network crumbles. Speeds have been cut by up to 65km/h because the poor state of tracks would make normal limits dangerous. The speed restrictions add up to two minutes extra to each trip, which can lead to chronically late services throughout the day.

Details of the worst 12 locations for July have been obtained by the Herald Sun using Freedom of Information laws. Most speed restrictions were imposed in the outer suburbs. Connex spokesman John Rees said repairs were always going to be required on an older, larger and very busy rail network such as Melbourne's. "Wherever possible, we run trains at line speed, but the comfort of our customers and staff is our priority," Mr Rees said. "Connex will continue to put in place temporary speed restrictions to ensure that our customers and staff remain safe while travelling with us."

Mr Rees said many of the problems identified in the report had been fixed. The top priority for July, a 225m section of track between Watsonia and Greensborough, had been fixed. A flaw detected in the track saw the maximum speed cut from 75km/h to just 15km/h.

One of the most significant causes of delays are "tram squares", on level crossings, where tram tracks cross rail tracks. Speed limits are already low - at 30km/h - but the extreme stress they endure means the limit was cut in half. "The Kooyong tram square is due to receive the same replacement and upgrade treatment that the Glenhuntly tram square received in August," Mr Rees said. "Other speed restrictions were in place while upgrades were being made as part of the Government's infrastructure improvements."

Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said not enough had been spent on maintenance. "Lynne Kosky is obsessed with giving the green light to Labor's myki mess but shows a red signal to stop sufficient investment in rail tracks, signals and points," he said.

A spokesman for Acting Public Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said Connex had spent between $80 million and $100 million on rail network maintenance. "Speed restrictions occur on the rail network when necessary maintenance and track upgrades occur," spokesman Stephen Moynihan said. "As part of the new franchise, maintenance spending will be doubled, with an additional $500 million spent over the (eight-year) life of the contract."


Another NSW government hospital doesn't give a damn

WHEN the family of Emilia Chatterjee complained to Gosford Hospital that she had contracted an infection after being left in urine-soaked clothes, the hospital apologised to the 84-year-old and said the issue had been addressed. The only problem was that Mrs Chatterjee was dead.

In a shocking bungle that heaped insult upon injury, the hospital acknowledged that staff had not cleaned rooms as they should have, nor listened to the requests of her daughters, who were forced to maintain a round-the-clock vigil on their mother to ensure she was looked after.

The family said nurses told them that the urine she was left to lie in had given her an infection - one that took her life on August 28, seven weeks after she entered hospital.

Yet when the Central Coast Health Service wrote three weeks later to say the issues had been addressed it was clearly under the impression that the great-grandmother was still alive. "The Nurse Unit Manager has asked that I extend her apologies to you and Mrs Chatterjee for any distress caused as a result of the actions of nursing staff," CCHS divisional manager Andrew Roberts wrote.

Mrs Chatterjee's daughter Giorgina Neilson said the family was horrified at the conditions her mother was in. "The hygienic condition of the hospital was totally unacceptable. We were horrified," she said. "She wasn't being fed, she wasn't being cleaned regularly . . . The hospital did acknowledge, some of the nurses did acknowledge to my sister that it was because she lay in the urine that she got the infection."

Yesterday the State Government was again forced into a grovelling apology. "Central Coast Health general manager Matt Hanrahan extends his sincere apologies on behalf of the health service for the distress experienced by the family of Mrs Chatterjee," it said in a statement. "Mr Hanrahan said that the failure to acknowledge the death of Mrs Chatterjee in correspondence with the family related to concerns regarding her care was regrettable."

The bungle was also a baptism of fire for new Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt, who yesterday ordered a full departmental investigation.


Thursday, September 24, 2009


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

Nearly 100 "asylum-seekers" on latest boat

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

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

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

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

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


Jail wasted on juvenile offenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Child "safety" in Victoria again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rudd has a bet each way on climate change laws

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Australian policies in WWI primarily served Australia, not Britain

Another derogatory Leftist myth exploded

IN a bold re-interpretation of one of Australia's pivotal periods, historian Neville Meaney explodes the myth that the Great War broke upon an innocent nation of colonial deference devoid of any independent strategic consciousness. The myths about World War I constitute a cultural fortress in Australian life, perpetuating contemporary prejudices and denying the light of authenticity to a startling political era.

The central narrative beloved by our culture industry is that a generation of young Australians was sacrificed by weak, pro-British political leaders enslaved by Empire and without any concept of Australian nationhood.

Meaney has thrown a brick at this mythology. It is a very large brick in the form of his 535 page project, Australia and World Crisis 1914-1923, published by Sydney University Press and launched several weeks ago in Sydney by Kim Beazley, with support from defence analyst Hugh White.

Meaney has dedicated much of his life to this project while working in the history department at Sydney University and teaching generations of Australians, such as current Washington ambassador Dennis Richardson, New York Times reporter Jane Perlez, historian James Curran and aspiring Liberal MP Tom Switzer.

Launching the book, Beazley said it should transform conventional historical accounts of Australia and the Great War and assessments about the relationship between Australian leaders and Empire central in London.

The thesis is that in World War I, Australia was engaged in a "hot war" against Germany and its allies in Europe and a "cold war" against Japan in the Pacific. Meaney fuses two stories as never before: Australia's obsession about Japan's threat and its struggle with London to have Australia's national interests recognised. He enshrines the notion of an "Australian crisis", the possibility of having to face the menace of Japan, Britain's ally, at a time when all British resources were pledged to the struggle for survival in Europe.

For Meaney, Australia's fierce support for Britain against Germany went far beyond sentiment. With its geographic isolation, Australians were "drawn to embrace Britishness with an intensity which was greater than that evinced by the people of the British Isles". This was tied to the world view of many Australians that the conflict was tantamount to a British race struggle for survival. But it possessed another dimension: the belief that Japan was Australia's real enemy and an ultimate focus of its strategic and defence calculations. Meaney shows this convincingly.

"The cold war against Japan was very different," he writes. "It was peculiarly Australia's war. From its origins - that is, from Japan's triumph in the Russo-Japanese war - Australia had viewed Britain's Asian ally as a potential enemy. Learning from its European mentors (Japan) had set out on an imperial course, seizing Taiwan, annexing Korea, acquiring spheres of influence in Manchuria and seeking to gain a supreme influence in northern China.

"It resented the White Australia policy and took offence at the racial discrimination suffered by its nationals. The British had little sympathy for Australia's distrust of Japan. Even if they had shared Australia's anxieties, the British, hard pressed at home in trying to outmatch the German navy in the North Sea, were in no position to assist Australia.

"As a result, Australian policy-makers, their fears heightened by racial ideas of international politics, pursued their own defence and foreign policies, raising their own military forces, acquiring their own navy and seeking the co-operation of the other British Dominions and even the United States." Japan's entry into war on Britain's side merely intensified the "cold war" fixation of Australia's leaders. Wartime Prime Minister W.M.Hughes, with his international relations philosophy of pessimistic realism and his eyes on Japan, warned: "History shows that there has never been a weak nation worth attacking that has not been attacked. If Britain were defeated, Australia would be left merely to choose to whom it should surrender."

By references to cables, documents and speeches, Meaney shows that Australian leaders were in repeated conflict with London over war strategy, consumed with their inter-related fears about the consequences of a German victory in Europe, worried that if Japan switched sides, it could impose its own terms upon Australia.

He offers vivid portraits of the three war leaders, Liberal Prime Minister Joseph Cook, Labor PM Andrew Fisher and Hughes, leader for most of the war who broke from Labor to join the conservative side. Each of them knew Australia's interests were tied to Britain yet separate from Britain. Australia's diplomacy was dictated by the quest for influence, not colonial servility.

Cook was aware that "Australian and British strategic interests were not identical". Fisher, a practical romantic, realised that Britain had long ignored Australia's Pacific concerns, and he "put Australian interests ahead of imperial sentiment".

Meaney says: "Fisher's assertion of an independent defence policy was not motivated by an Australian cultural nationalism. He did not look to convicts, shearers, bushrangers to provide a separate story for Australians (but) his decision to put Australia first was the result of a settled view that Australia as a political community had a set of interests peculiar to itself and it was those interests which the Australian government had a prime responsibility to protect."

Hughes had the quickest, most incisive mind and a compulsion to action. Yet he was prone to absolutist solutions that polarised the nation primarily in Meaney's view because of his extreme commitment to the "idea of nationalism". Confronted by the European war and obsessed by Japan, Hughes' view was that Australia's survival depended upon Britain's total victory in the war and in the peace.

At the Paris peace conference Hughes was openly contemptuous of US president Woodrow Wilson's peace proposals, demanded a crushing settlement upon Germany and alienated the Japanese by his extreme opposition to their campaign for a racial equality provision. Returning to Australia he declared the Treaty of Versailles was "not a good peace for Australia: nor indeed for Britain". Hughes failed to get his way more often than not because of the extremism of his stances.

"Victory in Europe offered little comfort," Meaney says of Australia's postwar policy makers. "Japan had become a world power." It had extended its empire in East Asia and was facing Australia across the equator. Respite would come with the US-sponsored 1920s Washington naval settlement that, in Meaney's view, ended the immediate world crisis.

The upshot, Meaney argues, was that the sense of independence within Empire displayed before and during the Great War was lost in the more compliant era of Australian history of the 20s and 30s.


Immigrants help to propel population near 22 million

AUSTRALIA'S population soared by almost half a million people in the year to March - boom not seen since the 1960s, according to the latest statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday shows the population increased by just over 2 per cent – or 439,000 people – in the year. There are now 21.8 million of us.

Most of the recent increase of almost 300,000 people was due to immigration. But there's also a mini baby boom, with 160,000 babies entering the world during the year.

Recent research showed Australia's population would balloon to 35 million – seven million more than previously thought – during the next 40 years. The government says the population boom is great news because it means the economy will keep growing.

However, some green groups say enough is enough. Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Charles Berger said the growing population was on a collision course with the environment. She said more people meant more greenhouse pollution, poorer river health and struggling infrastructure. Every extra million people added 25 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution, she said.

The ABS data showed Western Australia was leading the population proliferation, while Tasmania was last.


Feminists screwing it up for sisters

Janet Albrechtsen

“WHAT the hell has happened to feminism?” grumbled the Herald Sun’s Jill Singer a few weeks back. Here’s an idea. Feminists are screwing up feminism. Take last week. No matter which way you turned, women, especially those who talk most about feminism, were proving that women are often their own worst enemy.

Let’s start in parliament. On Tuesday last week, female ministers in the Rudd government were delighted at news that the Coalition was failing on a new measure of female progress. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told parliament that she woke up that day, read the report from The Sydney Morning Herald that this year women in the Coalition have been granted only 8.4 per cent of questions asked in parliament despite making up 20 per cent of Liberal and National MPs, and “thought that it was pretty bad”. Ditto, said her Labor sister Tanya Plibersek, the Minister for the Status of Women.

Forget about counting the number of women in the boardroom, in law firms or on the bench. The real sign of women’s emancipation is the number of questions they ask in parliament. Showing Labor’s enlightenment towards women, four female ALP backbenchers rose that day to ask questions of their frontbench big sisters.

Thinking she had the killer response to Labor’s brazen display of girl power, Opposition Deputy Leader Julie Bishop reminded them that their own Paul Keating used his maiden speech to describe the increasing number of women in the workforce as “something of which we should be ashamed”.

Break it up, girls. As Speaker Harry Jenkins, said at the end of a disgraceful question time, “Calm down ... Not one of the greatest moments for the house.” Indeed, it was a low point for women, too. Bishop’s retort was embarrassing. Keating’s comments, made in 1969, reflected a different era. The world, including Keating, has moved on. Hallelujah for that. Better if Bishop had pointed out that handing out lame dorothy dixers, prepared by the minister’s office, to backbenchers, who take turns jumping up like a ventriloquist’s doll, is hardly a sign of female political empowerment. It’s tokenism, pure and simple.

This is feminism at its most flippant, phony and foolish. Deriding other women for not keeping up with Labor’s empty feminist question time gestures doesn’t advance the place of women. It’s just politics. But, then, feminism has rarely been about women. For so many feminists, feminism is, at its core, about pushing a particular agenda. For some ageing feminists, the agenda was, and sadly remains, one of man-hating. So it is with Adele Horin, The Sydney Morning Herald’s resident feminist.

On Saturday, Horin deconstructed the online responses to Singer’s sepia-soaked vision of early feminists “fighting sexual objectification by refusing to shave our legs and armpits, burning our bras and demonstrating for equal pay” in contrast to modern girls who are “behaving like brain-dead, underpaid and over-waxed hookers”.

The online responses to Singer’s Herald Sun column revealed an avalanche of misogyny, wrote Horin. One chap told Singer to “suck it up princess and just worry about what fabric softner (sic) to put in the wash”. Aghast, Horin concluded: “The Herald Sun is not a fringe publication. This is a segment of ordinary Australian menfolk, unleashed.”

Now, I have more than a little experience with online hate mail. During the past few years, it has arrived each week in predictable lashings: rude, obnoxious, spiteful, nasty stuff. Like Singer, I’ve been told to get back in the kitchen (this chap would like my cooking even less than my writing). Some guy told me not to breed. (Too late.) The Australian is not a fringe publication. But you’d have to be desperate or dishonest to extrapolate from a group of unrepresentative online maddies, whether from the Left or Right, to the views of ordinary Australian menfolk.

The fundamental mistake, made over and again by women such as Horin, is to assume that the world can be utopia or close to it. Alas, some men will take longer than Keating to come to a more enlightened view of women. Some may never get there. A mature, honest feminism would stop dwelling on the trivial and irrelevant.

In that vein, while Horin was lecturing an unrepresentative bunch of dopes for doing the men’s cause no favours, the same can be said for a bunch of women. Their constant cries of discrimination often do women no favours. Three decades ago, feminists maintained that equality in the workplace depended on universal child care for children and full-time work for women. Anything less was discrimination. Never mind that many women wanted to work part time to combine the cherished role of rearing children.

Having finally caught up with the notion that many women want this, the latest feminist demand is that part-time work be regarded as some kind of new human right.

Last week, The Sydney Morning Herald reported a woman’s tale of discrimination woe. Rebecca Salter was offered the position of assistant principal at a primary school in Sydney’s inner west. The job offer was withdrawn when she revealed that she was returning from maternity leave and wanted to work part time. NSW opposition spokeswoman for women and former sex discrimination commissioner Pru Goward said it was “an open and shut case” of discrimination.

Is it too much to expect a former sex discrimination commissioner to stop with the stereotypes? The school, Marrickville West Primary, wanted a full-time assistant principal. Not unreasonably, some jobs cannot be done as well, or at all, on a part-time basis. That’s not evil, unlawful discrimination against women. That’s life, as even Plibersek acknowledged amid last week’s parliamentary melee.

While so many feminists refuse to accept it, some jobs demand full-time attention. Not every job can be done on a part-time basis.

Contrary to the newest feminist mantra, the world of work and families is not some kind of utopia where women (or men, for that matter) can have it all. Having children raises difficult, imperfect choices. You can do the full-time work, full-time child care caper. Or you can work part time, allowing more time at home with children. Each person will make a personal decision but whatever the choice, something has to give: whether it’s losing precious time with young children or making difficult career sacrifices. That applies to men as much as it does to women.

Indeed, let me suggest that society’s bias makes it easier for women to work part time if their preference is to rear children, than for men to do so. So here’s another idea. How refreshing and grand it would be if women could sometimes, just sometimes, resist the temptation to treat every occasion as proof that women are being mistreated by a big bad boys’ world.


Coverup of bullying at NSW government hospital

The New South Wales Opposition says nurses who have complained of bullying at a far south coast hospital would not mind if findings of an investigation were made public. Bega MP Andrew Constance says an external investigator's report on bullying and operational issues at Pambula Hospital should be given to the community.

The Greater Southern Area Health Service says the report will not be released publicly. However, a summary and set of recommendations will be released. Its eastern sector general manager, Ken Barnett, says staff and appropriate unions will be consulted before it is considered whether to implement recommendations.

Mr Constance says if unions are entitled to know the findings, so should the broader community, and nurses names could be omitted from the documents. "You don't necessarily need to disclose names but the community are entitled to know what occurred at the facility and what is going to be done about it in the future," he said. "The only way that the confidence can be regained by the community in what's occurring at Pambula Hospital is for that availability of the information and that openness and transparency around what's happened."

He says not releasing the investigation findings to the community will further erode public confidence in the health system. "I think nurses want accountability in the system. They want to be able to raise issues of concern and I think there's been enough secrecy clouding the hospital as is without it being furthered by a government not willing to be open and transparent about this report," he said. "The community is aware of the investigation. It's important that the community have the recommendations and the findings of that investigation."