Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has been busy lately. He has two new offerings up. In one, he is steamed that NSW voters seem to find their new female Premier a more attractive personality than the Liberal Party leader. Intended vote swings the other way, however. He actually scored a "well-done" from the leader of the NSW opposition over that one.

And in the latest toon he has a shot at the Leftist teachers' unions who cannot stand the thought of teachers being judged by results

Police communications centre can't cope with calls

Having thousands of employees doing paperwork all the time is more urgent, apparently

CALLS for help to Queensland police are going unanswered because the state's main communications centre is understaffed. Frustrated operators say dozens of callers each day are forced to wait in long queues or fail to get through to the QPS call centre in Brisbane because overstretched operators cannot cope with surging demand. The delays affect callers reporting incidents ranging from burglaries and noise complaints to car crashes.

Queensland police yesterday admitted the situation was "not ideal", but said life-threatening triple-0 calls were still being answered promptly.

Figures provided by the QPS show the Police Communications Centre handled more than 1100 calls a day last year, including 480 to the triple-0 number. The statistics represent a 50 per cent increase on 2005, yet staffing levels have not kept up, improving just 20 per cent in the same period. The Courier-Mail has learnt the PCC regularly operates with a staff of just 12 officers and radio operators – six fewer than the agreed minimum staffing level.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said delays in answering calls could "cost lives". "It is critical that the safety of the public is put first when staffing levels for communication centres are determined," he said. On a busy shift, call takers can handle more than 160 calls each. At the request of Inspector Paul Fogg, the QPS recently installed a massage chair in the centre's meal room.

But frustrated officers said it was simply impossible to answer all calls with many going unanswered or waiting up to half an hour in phone queues. "At one point on New Year's Eve, we had 20 triple-0 calls in a queue. We weren't able to answer any of them on the first presentation," an officer said. "One caller waited 28 minutes to be answered (on the normal line). Most people wouldn't have the patience, but this was from a police officer who wanted to see how long it would take."

A QPS spokesman said triple-0 calls were given priority by the PCC which meant there could be "some delay in answering non-urgent calls". "On average, 90 per cent of triple-0 calls are answered within nine seconds of being presented to the PCC," he said. The establishment of a new call centre called Policelink later this year would alleviate some of the PCC's workload, the spokesman said.

Officers said a fair proportion of calls to Policelink would be forwarded to the PCC for attention, including those relating to noise complaints, car crashes and community assistance. "We like to think it will help, but there are no guarantees. It's very much a case of wait and see," the PCC officer said.


Yugoslavs bring their old hatreds to Australia

Croatians are anti-Russian because Russia has always supported the Serbs. Various ignorant newspaper headlines claim that the events described below are "racism" that shames Australia. How come? Serbs and Croats are racially the same. They even speak the same language. The rivalry is a religious one. Croats are Catholics and Serbs are Orthodox. And what's it got to do with Australia anyway?

RACIAL tensions cast a sinister shadow over the first day of the 2010 Australian Open. Ugly scenes of unruly fans chanting as they headed to Melbourne Park, letting off flares, intimidating visitors, making a mockery of security and shaming so-called multi-cultural Melbourne were broadcast to a world-wide audience who had tuned in to watch the tennis. Award-winning photographer Craig Borrow, from the Herald Sun, was spat on and slapped in the head as he attempted to photograph the chanting mob.

And in a worrying indication about security at the two-week tournament, at least one person was detected and ejected from Melbourne Park for smuggling in flares into the area - despite security searches on arrival.

Day One saw thrills and spills and upsets on the court including world No. 14 Maria Sharapova was bundled out by an upstart fellow Russian.

But it was the boorish bad behaviour of some Croatian fans which stood out just a day after the success of Sunday's exhibition match organised by Roger Federer and supported by stars of the sport who helped raise more than $500,000 for the countless victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Teams of security staff were waiting when the front gates opened but some Croatian fans tried to dodge them by running up the stairs while others attempted to hide their faces under hats, hoods and scarves. Police defended the security presence, despite louts managing to breach the event, saying it was "as tight as it can be". "People are innovative and people smuggle contraband and other illegal goods into events, tournaments, to a number of public places," officer in charge of major events, Superintendent Jock Menzel said.

The behaviour of some fans yesterday - before the gates had even opened or a ball been hit - sent out signals of a return of the racial tension that have marred the international grand slam events in recent years. In the worst scenes of disharmony, opposing fans last year hurled chairs during a fracas in front of stunned families enjoying the sunshine in Garden Square last year - one tennis fan was knocked unconscious.

Eleven had been rejected by lunchtime yesterday and other groups of Croatian fans shunned the bad behaviour of the few who tarnished the name of all Croatian fans. "It is just a few older fans who make trouble and the general public thinks it is all of us," said members of one roaming group of proud, Australian-born Croatians who declined to be identified. "Flares are just over the top and dangerous and there is no place for them at a place like this."

Tennis Australia put fans on notice declaring that anyone would be expelled from Melbourne Park if they were caught playing up.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding said louts ejected from the Australian Open should be banned from all sporting events for at least three years or jailed. The idiot troublemakers deserved the full weight of the law, Senator Fielding said. He said the latest incident had already been a major embarrassment for Melbourne, which was currently on show to the world.


A small Antidote to welfare dependency

THE federal government's extension of income management across the country, announced late last year, reflects a new consensus in Australia and internationally about the pernicious effects on individuals and families of long-term welfare dependence.

From July, long-term welfare-dependent people will have half their payment quarantined to be spent on food and household essentials. Income management will also be extended to welfare dependent parents who are the subject of child protection concerns, and people assessed as vulnerable because of domestic violence or financial crisis.

The government's announcement was undoubtedly designed to ward off criticism that the Northern Territory intervention is racially discriminatory. Yet despite this practical (and even cynical) motivation, this bold policy shift is the biggest reform to welfare policy since the Howard government's "mutual obligation" package in the late 1990s. The Rudd government should be congratulated for taking such a tough stance.

We now know that many of the welfare policies designed to help people instead trap them in a cycle of dependency. In Australia, the evidence of this is most apparent in remote indigenous communities. But experience shows that the damaging effects of welfare are not confined to any race, gender or geographical location.

Almost one in six Australians of working age is reliant on income support. Long-term welfare dependence, which is often coupled with drug and alcohol addiction, child abuse and domestic violence, is overwhelmingly concentrated in disadvantaged communities. Children of jobless parents are more likely to end up on welfare. If these problems are to be overcome, the cycle of dependence must be broken.

Governments should not only help people to move off welfare but also hassle those who have lost their confidence, motivation and capacity for independent action to find work.

The new income management policy will try to achieve this with a mix of carrots and sticks. Individuals who show they can manage their money responsibly can opt out, and incentives will be offered to those who demonstrate that they can save.

While the usual critics of welfare reform claim that this policy unfairly targets the most vulnerable people, it appears that there have been some important converts. Appearing on ABC radio in November, Mission Australia chief Toby Hall endorsed the policy. He said that for the group of people who had "taken welfare for granted for too long", income management would increase the pressure to move into work.

The opposition should support the move as well. Expanding income management is the next logical step in the successful program of welfare reform implemented by the Coalition. John Howard's reforms, along with prosperous economic times, saw the number of prime-age households (in their mid-30s to mid-50s) reliant on welfare drop from about one in six in the mid-1990s to one in 10 in the late 2000s.

But while the Labor reforms are a move in the right direction, the road ahead may still be rocky. Income management on a large scale is untested. The potential for unforseen and unintended consequences is high. The government must be careful to define exactly what its objectives are, and be willing to change tack if they are not being met.

One danger is that income management could potentially exacerbate the dependency it is trying to overcome. Income management should be the means to an end, not the end itself. The reforms will fail if people simply become more reliant on government to manage their budget, instead of taking up the responsibility themselves.

To guard against this, local communities should be given some autonomy to decide how income management is administered. This flexibility could be more effective in tackling problems such as poor school attendance, domestic violence or drug abuse, which vary between communities. A good example of this approach is Noel Pearson's Family Responsibilities Commission in Cape York, which empowers local leaders to make decisions about individuals' income management based on their adherence to basic standards of behaviour.

There is also a danger that, in exempting Disability Support Pension from income management, the government will inadvertently increase the incentive for people who may be marginally disabled but still able to work to apply for this payment. Once they are on DSP, there is little chance they will ever leave welfare.

It is politically difficult for the government to extend income quarantining to DSP recipients, many of whom have severe physical and mental disabilities and would see income management as an unfairly punitive measure. But this difficulty simply highlights the need for reform of this payment. Perhaps it is time for a two-track system where severely disabled people are exempt from measures such as income management but those with a greater capacity to work are not.

In an open, liberal society, we celebrate our capacity to live our lives free from a high level of government interference. But growing levels of long-term welfare dependency present us with a real dilemma. Should we strive to protect the independence of those who are so clearly dependent on the state in so many ways? Paradoxically, paternalistic interventions may now be essential to rebuild people's capacity to take responsibility for themselves.


Public vs private school: funding row escalates

The Leftist enemies of private schools are being completely dishonest about this. Government schools in Australia are funded by State governments and private schools are subsidized by the Federal government -- so just looking at the Federal spending ignores the great bulk of taxpayer-funded spending on schools. See also here

Queensland private schools have accused the Australian Education Union of manipulating federal funding data showing private schools are set to receive billions more taxpayer dollars than their government counterparts. A report released today by the AEU claims the Federal Government's school's funding system is "flawed" and disadvantages those in the government's own school system.

The research, conducted by University of Sydney senior academic Dr Jim McMorrow, has revealed that by 2012-13, private schools will have received $47 billion in funding for building works, new equipment and running costs, compared to $35 billion set aside for public schools. The report revealed that despite the public system is teaching two-thirds of all students nationwide, it will receive just 36 per cent of federal education funds by 2012-13.

Despite Kevin Rudd's promise before the 2007 election of a digital education revolution at all schools, the report shows that the public school system is being shortchanged $500 million for computers and trades training facilities. "The Government should reconsider its allocative criteria for this program, to achieve a more equitable and strategic outcome from its investment in this area," Dr McMorrow said in the report.

AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos said the Federal Government's funding system was putting the interests of private school students ahead of students in public schools. "This system is so flawed that private schools are given huge increases every year regardless of their wealth or income while public schools are being denied the chance to expand the educational opportunities of student," he said. "True equity in education can only exist when government schools set the standard for high quality education."

But Independent Schools Queensland, which represents the state's private grammar and faith-based institutions, hit back today, saying the AEU had "misrepresented the facts". Acting Executive Director David Robertson said it was the state and territory governments - not the Commonwealth - which provided the bulk of the funding for public schools. "Any analysis of how schools are funded in Australia must take into account the funding provided by both federal and state or territory government," Mr Robertson said. "The AEU has once again been selective in its use of data and the picture it's painted of school funding is incomplete."

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said public school teachers in Queensland teachers had long opposed the Howard Government's schools funding system, which the Labor Government had adopted. "We haven't been campaigning based on the fact that the funding has gone to the private schools, our issue is the lack of funding going into the public system," Mr Ryan said. "The private schools receive the bulk of the funding despite the needs of the public schools being greater than that of the private schools."



Paul said...

I suggest that people who accept long-term welfare dependency also by extension accept some level of management of how that money (provided by taxpayers) gets used.

rloader said...

I just wonder if this income management extends to the Muslim Migrants in particular and various other migrants who make up the bulk of our welfare payments. They receive very large welfare payments because of the large families they are having.