Thursday, February 04, 2010

Kevin Rudd, the man who isn’t there

As Opposition Leader, Rudd dragged out the brand new conservative suit Therese had bought for him, and vowed to halt reckless government spending. He said climate change was the greatest moral challenge of our time and pledged to tackle it, promised to take over hospitals in a year and bring in an education revolution, threatened to take the Japanese to court over whaling, warned he would turn back refugee boats, and promised to live at the Lodge.

He has done none of those things, and I doubt he ever will.

I don’t know why he is there, who he thinks or is, or what he thinks a Prime Minister’s job involves. It actually means he can and must do things, big things, which can shape the country he leads and not just spin from one pic fac to another.

In his first term, Howard took on his own base and reformed gun laws, an action which has had a hugely positive impact on Australian society; challenged the stranglehold of unions on the waterfront, and began the difficult task of introducing a goods and services tax. At the same time his Treasurer, Peter Costello, wiped out billions of dollars of deficit and put the Budget back in the black.

Consider just two examples of Rudd’s gross dereliction. First his approach on climate change. It was lazy and gutless. He relied on the media to make the opposition the story - and the Liberals stupidly obliged - and to pressure Malcolm Turnbull to support the Government’s policy. He failed to take his arguments to the people, to explain what his scheme entailed, and how they would be affected by it.

Second. When he was casting around for something else to do, he commissioned Ken Henry to undertake a comprehensive review on tax reform. He is now treating it as if someone has sent him a stink bomb. They probably have. It’s an independent report, he tried to tell Laurie Oakes the other day, it’s got nothing to do with the Government, and we might or might not pick up its recommendations. Oakes pointed out the head of Treasury was not exactly independent from the Government.

The man’s got a teleprompter where his ticker should be. Granted he succeeded in staving off the recession threatened by the economic crisis which saved him from disappearing into vapor, but any fool could do that by spraying around billions of dollars. The trick is to spend money wisely on long term productive enterprises, and there is little evidence that is happening.

By the time people realise how much has been wasted, and how hard it will be to repay, he will be long gone, and Julia Gillard will probably be out there trying to explain it all.

That can’t come soon enough for me. I watched all the Oakes interview with Rudd on Sunday. It went about 20 minutes and it felt as if half my life had slipped away. His voice acts like a verbal sedative. He throws in lots of facts and figures and uses his favorite expressions – you know something? Guess what?- as if he is about to offer some profound insight, then whacks us with another cliche. He is both anal and banal.

Away from the cameras, the secret Kevin is given to hissy fits, foul language and bursts of revenge. In public he is the eminently reasonable, totally predictable, and infuriatingly, nauseatingly hammy actor who got elected Prime Minister. Like I say, if anybody finds the real Kevin Rudd, please call his family.

Tony Abbott on the other hand can’t help but be interesting. It is both a blessing and a curse. He has opinions and he expresses them in ways people can immediately understand and the reactions are not always positive.

The trick for politicians is to be interesting enough to attract attention, but not too interesting so that they come across as scatter brained or weird or ill-disciplined(see Barnaby Joyce) and invite the kind of media exposure than can end up killing them.

So far Abbott is having some success. He is rattling Rudd’s cage like a great white shark in red speedos. Rudd is so tightly wound, it wouldn’t take much to unhinge him and if Abbott keeps his team united he might just manage it. Bring it on.


Couple sues Queensland government hospital over stillborn baby

PARENTS of a baby delivered stillborn at Redcliffe Hospital claim medical staff repeatedly ignored warning signs their unborn baby was distressed. Kym Marie Body and Robert Wayne Body, of Mango Hill in Brisbane's north, are suing the State Government which runs Redcliffe Hospital for nearly $300,000 in negligence and damages. Documents filed to the Supreme Court allege a midwife ignored and turned down the volume of an echocardiogram alarm that sounded for more than three hours while Mrs Body was in labour.

The documents also claim Mrs Body was diagnosed and treated for deep vein thrombosis and thrombophilia (blood clotting) at Redcliffe Hospital after the birth of her first child in 2004. She alleges the hospital ought to have known her medical history and the risks associated and failed to recognise a natural birth "could not be performed safely".

The documents show Mrs Body was admitted to hospital at 8am on February 26, 2007, and was monitored at half-hour intervals between 9.30am and 3pm. Her waters were broken by a doctor about 4pm and at 4.30pm an epidural was administered. It is alleged that at 5.10pm an echocardiogram alarm attached to Mrs Body began making loud noises, but the volume was turned down by a midwife. The documents claim four other times when the alarm sounded, indicating the baby's distress, it was turned down by the same midwife. The echocardiogram alarm continued to sound until 8.20pm but medical staff did not respond to it.

It wasn't until 9.30pm, when Mr Body requested for Mrs Body to have an internal exam that one was performed, court documents claim. By 10.40pm, Mrs Body was told the baby's heart rate was "low" and "we need to get her out now". Paige Hannah Body was delivered by vacuum extraction about 11pm. She was not breathing and could not be revived.

Mr and Mrs Body, who say they suffer anxiety and depression, are suing Redcliffe Hospital for $278,200. The State Government is yet to file a defence.


Gold Coast corruption again: Ex-police officers sue for $2m over bullying claims

TWO former Gold Coast detectives are suing for more than $2 million in compensation, claiming they were bullied out of the police service partly because they refused to act on illegal search warrants.

The revelation came as Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson admitted the Gold Coast's "Las Vegas" lifestyle may have corrupted some local police. He said there had been concerns about possible police misconduct on the Glitter Strip for at least a decade.

Ex-Gold Coast detectives Kurt Krebs and Graham Cameron have launched legal action against the Workers Compensation Regulatory Authority (Q-Comp) after they were refused compensation for alleged bullying-related stress. They claim they were driven out of the QPS after being branded as lazy for refusing to act on allegedly dodgy warrants. They are each seeking more than $1 million in compensation.

A magistrate this week ruled evidence relating to warrants could be admitted as part of Mr Krebs' case. Q-Comp's lawyers had been seeking to have the evidence excluded, arguing the warrant issue had not directly contributed to Mr Krebs' stress. However, Southport magistrate Michael O'Driscoll ruled the warrant evidence could support Mr Krebs' claim and to refuse to admit it would be a denial of "fair and natural justice". The case was adjourned.

Mr Atkinson yesterday held a crisis briefing with Crime and Misconduct Commission officials after The Courier-Mail revealed details of a major investigation into alleged police links to organised crime and the Coast's nightclub drug scene. The Surfers Paradise police station was raided by CMC investigators last weekend as part of the CMC probe that sources said would be "the biggest corruption scandal since the Fitzgerald inquiry". More than 20 officers are understood to have given evidence at secret CMC hearings.

Mr Atkinson yesterday likened the Gold Coast to Las Vegas and Kings Cross, with "temptations" greater than other areas, and some police may have "succumbed". "With 10,000 police, obviously from year to year some will do the wrong thing. That's unavoidable," he said. While he was "terribly concerned", he was confident there was no "widespread, systemic, organised corruption" in the police service and said the vast majority of officers were honest.

Mr Atkinson said the CMC had investigated concerns about possible police misconduct on the Gold Coast "for years", but nothing had been substantiated. "I believe we've done all we possibly can," he said on the Coast yesterday morning. "Every suggestion, every claim has been fully examined." Mr Atkinson called on the CMC to "clear the air" over the investigation. He said it should be finalised quickly to avoid affecting police morale.

Police Minister Neil Roberts ruled out calling an inquiry, saying the CMC already had royal commission powers. The CMC said speculation about the scope of its investigation risked hindering the probe "and unnecessarily undermines public confidence in the Queensland Police Service". "On the basis of current evidence, some aspects of recent media reports about the investigation are exaggerated or simply inaccurate," the commission's Director of Misconduct Investigations, Russell Pearce, said.

The Queensland Police Union has thrown its support behind those officers who give evidence against police accused of corruption. A union spokesman yesterday confirmed the QPU was providing legal representation for any witnesses required to give evidence by the CMC for its Operation Tesco. President Ian Leavers said it was obvious there needed to be a thorough investigation. "It is in the best interests of police and the community that the CMC investigation is conducted in a timely manner," Mr Leavers said.


Another dangerously incompetent bureaucracy

Schoolkids forced to wade croc-infested water. Bureaucrats don't give a stuff about anybody else

A PROMISED bridge that would save Northern Territory kids from wading through croc-infested waters to get to school has not been started. The NT and federal governments and the Victoria Daly Shire had planned to have a $1.5 million upgrade of the causeway in Palumpa - near Wadeye - finished by the return of the wet season, according to the Northern Territory News. Announcements of federal and NT government funding were made as early as June last year, but work on it has yet to begin.

Locals fear heavy rains expected soon will once again cause the billabong to flood the causeway, leaving residents cut off from the essential services, including the school, all on the other side of town. A 5m croc that was stalking the flooded causeway last year has reportedly not been caught.

A local man said people were disappointed nothing had happened. "There's nothing happening," he said. "It looks like a false promise."

It is believed the delay has been caused by "design issues", and work is not expected to happen until this dry season.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Regarding the stillborn baby story. It will be really interesting to know if the midwife who turned down the alarm on the monitor is really a midwife. Most specialtys are not staffed by many actual specialists these days. The Director of Nursing here (appointed without competitive process by QHealth) puts graduate nurses into Intensive Care. Thinks its good for them.