Saturday, February 27, 2010

27 February, 2010

"The skull" sidelined yet again

He's a former rock singer and that's the limit of his talents. It was just expediency that the Labor party accepted him into their parliamentary ranks. He's only a token minister for the environment now. First Penny Wong took up global warming duties and that was just the beginning. Garrett still has some environmental responsibilities, however, so it's a sad day when part of Australia's government is put into the hands of such a dimwit and proven failure: Another destructive decision from the political Left

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today demoted Peter Garrett as Environment Minister over the housing insulation debacle. Mr Rudd announced in Sydney the establishment of a new stand-alone department of climate change and energy efficiency, which will be headed by Penny Wong. Mr Rudd has appointed Greg Combet as the new Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

This new department will be given responsibility for winding up the troubled insulation program and the roll-out of the new household renewable energy bonus scheme. Senator Wong will be Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water. Mr Garrett will be the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts.

Mr Rudd said Mr Garrett’s passion lay with the protection of Australia’s natural resources and his reduced range of responsibilities would be more suited to him. Under the changes announced by Mr Rudd, Mr Combet will be given the direct responsibility for the troubled insulation program.

Mr Rudd admitted the department changes were a demotion for Mr Garrett. This move is designed to achieve stronger co-ordination and greater efficiency in the development and delivery of climate change policies and programs, especially in relation to energy efficiency and renewable energy," Mr Rudd said. "There’s absolutely no use sugar-coating the facts; there have been some problems in the implementation of this program, problems that as Prime Minister I have taken responsibility for and problems that I'm therefore responsible for taking action to fix." By creating a single stand-alone department with a minister focused on the roll-out and implementation of energy programs, these arrangements will deliver better compliance management for the future, Mr Rudd said.

The Department of Environment will return to its core business of protecting the Australian environmental interests, he said. Mr Rudd said: "There’s no point sugar-coating this; this does mean a different range and reduced range of responsibilities for minister Garrett. Let us simply acknowledge that fact. The core responsibility of the Department of the Environment should focus on the protection of Australian endangered species and the wider remit of environment protection, and that of course is where the minister’s passions lie as well."

The Prime Minister said that he had had a long conversation earlier this afternoon with "Minister Garrett" and said: "I indicated to him the course of action I’d be taking." Mr Rudd said that Mr Garrett "accepted my decision. I indicated that's the decision I had taken. The minister accepted my decision".


Millions wasted on Greenie schemes

TENS of millions of dollars is being funnelled into the State Government's energy efficiency programs with little or no evidence to prove they are an effective use of taxpayers' money. A report tabled in State Parliament has revealed none of the power-saving schemes were independently evaluated and the outcomes were "difficult to isolate". The bipartisan committee's report also found few of the state's 1.39 million households or 390,000 businesses were participating in the green initiatives, despite generous rebates.

The poor take-up of power-saving schemes comes as Queensland grapples with its status as the most energy intensive state in the country.

The report highlights the "enormous task ahead" to attract households and businesses to power-saving programs It found one in 780, or a fraction of 1 per cent of businesses, were taking part in the ecoBiz program, which encourages eco-efficient practices in the workplace. Just one in five households have signed up for the much touted $60 million Climate Smart Home Service scheme. The program is worth $450 per house, with a $400 government subsidy and includes 15 free energy-saving light bulbs plus water-saving shower heads.

Committee member and Opposition energy spokesman Jeff Seeney said despite costing millions of taxpayer dollars, there was no evidence the Climate Smart Home Service achieved its energy-efficiency goals. "We have grave reservations about the expenditure of such amounts of public money with no attempt to quantify the outcomes achieved," Mr Seeney said.

Other key concerns were that green initiatives were duplicated across government levels and that the large number of programs, guides, rebates and incentives was confusing and unnecessarily complex. There were also questions about a lack of co-ordination across government levels and between agencies.

Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said he would respond to the report's recommendations "in due time".


Casualty department (emergency room) shutdowns in an already overstretched Sydney hospital system

MOST seriously injured accident victims in the city and eastern suburbs will no longer be taken to St Vincent's or Prince of Wales hospitals under a new trauma plan. They will be forced to travel across town to either Royal Prince Alfred in Camperdown or St George Hospital in Kogarah. NSW Health has quietly released its trauma services plan after 10 years of wrangling among doctors. Under the plan, due to start on Monday, all major trauma patients will be diverted from Nepean to Westmead Hospital.

There are concerns about the ability of RPA, St George and Westmead to take on the hundreds of extra patients. RPA is expected to be most seriously affected as it and St George will need to absorb more than 400 extra patients a year.

The NSW chairman of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Richard Paoloni, said RPA already had the highest level of ambulance arrivals in Sydney and the plan would increase pressure on emergency beds.

The Health Services Union, which represents paramedics, is concerned about increased "trolley block" - where patients are banked up waiting to get into emergency - as well as increased travel times to RPA and Westmead.

Although Nepean will still take trauma patients, the most serious will go directly to Westmead, which will increase the patient load by more than 200 this year. Westmead is already struggling to see its emergency patients on time. The latest performance figures show it is failing to meet benchmarks in three of the five triage categories and has the worst record in the state for admitting patients within eight hours - 63 per cent of patients, well below the benchmark of 80 per cent.

RPA is also failing to see all its emergency patients on time, and is not meeting benchmarks for two of the five triage categories. The Garling inquiry recommended just three adult trauma centres in Sydney.

Richard Matthews, the deputy director-general for strategic development for NSW Health, said the changes would strengthen hospital trauma systems and paramedics would still have the power to exercise their best clinical judgment. "If someone is stabbed seriously on the street outside St Vincent's the ambos will take them into the emergency department there. In the end, they've got the responsibility of making the clinical decision about what's best for the patient," Dr Matthews said. He said the hospitals affected had received extra funding but did not say how much.


Frequent weapons seizures in Queensland government schools

MORE than 80 suspensions for violence with weapons or "objects" are handed out every week in Queensland state schools. As the State Government vowed to crack down on student violence and bullying yesterday, figures obtained by The Courier-Mail highlighted the extent of the problem. The figures, released by the Education Department, show more than 10,000 suspensions were handed out to state school students for "physical misconduct involving an object" over the past three financial years. More than two students were expelled every school week last financial year for the violation, with 89 recorded, up from 65 in 2003 to 2004.

Yesterday, Premier Anna Bligh announced state, Catholic and independent school representatives would form the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence, which will make recommendations on the best ways to stamp out the growing problem. It follows a recommendation from Professor Ken Rigby in his report on how the state is dealing with bullying, and the alleged fatal stabbing of 12-year-old Elliott Fletcher in his school's toilets at Shorncliffe last week.

Premier Anna Bligh acknowledged there was an "alarming culture of school violence", with the alliance set to address it. But Opposition deputy leader Lawrence Springborg accused the Government of "more talk and no action", saying it had established a youth violence taskforce in 2006 and claimed to have implemented its recommendations in 2009.

Education figures show there were 2797 short suspensions for "physical misconduct involving an object" in state schools last year, down from a six-year high in 2007 to 2008 when 3064 were recorded. But long suspensions – between six and 20 days – have climbed annually over the past six years in the category, reaching 456 in 2008 to 2009.

Education deputy director-general Lyn McKenzie said the type of objects used in the suspensions could include pencils and sticks, as well as knives. Replica guns have also been wielded by students.

Ms Bligh said while bullying had always existed, the playground no longer ended at the school fence and had been radically changed by technology, including social networking sites. She said the alliance would focus on preventative measures but also look at security and violent incidents in schools, including the use of weapons. The group is expected to meet within the weeks and start delivering recommendations within months.


Immigration Dept is racist, says Australia's most reviled conservative Prime Minister

Given Fraser's shaky attachment to the truth, one should ignore the claims below. He makes a great point of being "anti-racist" -- to the point of sucking up to African dictators. It is sad that he has no other claim on praise, given the many wasted opportunities for constructive reform he had whilst Prime Minister

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has blamed the immigration department for some policies such as remote detention centres that he believes may have racist motivations. He argues that white farmers fleeing Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe would not have been held in remote detention centres like more recent asylum seekers have been.

"The whole idea for establishing a detention centre in a remote, harsh place ... that sort of idea came out of the department," Mr Fraser told ABC Television on Tuesday. Asked if there was a racist culture within the department, he replied: "Maybe."

Mr Fraser added the Rudd government was "a little" better than the former coalition government when it came to the treatment of asylum seekers. He also challenged the coalition argument that Labor had lost control of Australia's borders. The former prime minister has given media interviews to promote his book, Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons.


Note that my QANTAS/Jetstar and Queensland Police blogs are still getting frequent updates


Paul said...

I note Rudd still stops short of sacking Garrett. Very weak. The Rudd Government now has the Whitlam whiff of abject incompetence about it.

rloader said...

I shudder to think what will become of the Education program, the new Installation scheme, the get tough on immigrants and the white paper on Security, all of these with no details as to how they will be funded and carried out. Australia will be the laughing stock of the world.Peter Garrett should either be sacked althogether or relegated to the back bench. He is actually being rewarded for being a good Komrade first and a bad Minister second..