Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leftist Australian Prime Minister silences critic

A typical Leftist "modus operandi". Stalin would understand

It was the night a young Lion roared but was seemingly silenced by the might of the public relations machine. A 19-year-old Lions service club volunteer who suggested the PM was "too stingy to buy a $2 scratchie ticket", was gagged within two hours of The Sunday Mail attempts to investigate her claims.

It all began with an email from the teenage fundraiser who was selling $2 footy doubles in the corporate dining area of last weekend's Indigenous All Stars game at Skilled Stadium. "We were going around the tables in the function room with most people buying tickets gladly to support the Lions Club," she said. "I then approached the table where the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was sitting. Not only was he too stingy to buy a ticket, he wouldn't even look me in the eye and completely ignored me. His was the only table that didn't buy any tickets. I am upset that he would treat a volunteer this way and was disinterested in supporting the Lions club."

Two hours later, after the intervention of the PM's office, the NRL PR machine and the Lions club, the teen changed her mind, saying she'd been reprimanded for speaking out.

In public office, Mr Rudd and his fellow politicians constantly get fundraiser requests to buy tickets in raffles, lotteries and auctions.

In response to this email, The Sunday Mail contacted the volunteer, conducted an interview and, satisfied she was genuine, contacted the Prime Minister's press secretary Fiona Sugden for comment. One hour later it came with one line amounting to Mr Rudd fully supporting the Lions club. Then, 20 minutes later, the NRL's director of media and communications, John Brady, rang The Sunday Mail, wanting to know where it was going. "How can you believe this girl? Why would the PM ignore her? This is just muckraking," he said. Mr Brady then provided contact details for a Lions club representative who would confirm the story was rubbish.

When contacted, Lions spokesman John Clarke said nobody in his group would have made such a statement. An hour later, the volunteer changed her mind, sending a second email that retracted her earlier comments. She said: "I've been reprimanded by the Lions club for speaking on their behalf without authorisation. The Lions club is apolitical and must be seen that way. "I'm sure that you are aware that the Lions club works hard for the benefit of all in the community and that the fundraiser at the Titans game is a significant event for the club. I am not available for further comment."


There is little that is black and white in attacks on Indians

An amusing article below. It is an academic's long-winded way of saying that the attacks on Indian students in Australia are the work of other immigrants, mostly blacks. Up until about 2007, that was from time to time admitted in the media but you are no longer allowed to say that openly.

The writer's "solution" is risible however. It amounts to saying that when you solve all the other problems of the world the attacks on Indians will cease. Sending badly behaved immigrants back to their countries of origin would, by contrast, work like a charm. There is ample provision for that in Australian law but it it is only done so far with immigrants of British origin -- which is clearly racist

One of the problems with the debate about violence towards Indian students in Melbourne is that the analysis has focused on the victims and their nationality. It is hardly possible to make claims of racism or otherwise in these attacks without knowing something of the offenders. Who are they, and can they be understood solely in terms of their own nationalities (which is basic to the racist claim)?

Are those who argue that the attacks are racially motivated assuming that the attackers are all of Anglo descent? If they were of Middle Eastern or African or South Asian heritage, would that make it different? Are all instances of inter-cultural violence racist?

The treatment of race in this discussion has been simplistic. One-third of Melbourne's population was born overseas. Relative to Australia's indigenous people, every non-Aboriginal here has a recent heritage from elsewhere. Most of us are hybrids of one sort or another, meaning that the concept of race is complex. The answer to the question "where are you from?" from someone who looks Asian is as likely to be "Prahran" as "Thailand".

It is partly because of this, according to Victoria Police, and partly because of concerns about racial stereotyping, that the racial backgrounds of the perpetrators and victims of crime are no longer routinely recorded in Victoria. The fact is, we don't know the race of people involved in the vast majority of crimes in Melbourne, let alone whether they are racially motivated. We do have a sense that many robberies of international students go unreported and that the geographic distribution of these crimes is skewed, so the vexed discussion of proportionate and disproportionate incidences is being held in a vacuum.

There is anecdotal evidence that racial abuse has occurred in some of the attacks on Indian people. I expect that Lebanese victims of similar crimes also suffer racial abuse. Women and openly gay victims likely experience a different choice of words. What connects these crimes, I am prepared to hazard, is a word that has not yet been mentioned: class, of both offenders and victims.

It is undoubtedly true that there are racist, misogynist and homophobic people looking for anyone "different" to beat up – there are testosterone-fuelled Neanderthals in every era and society. But, in the absence of good data, we can also assume that there is a large number of alienated young people, brought up in a culture of virulent individualism, with its relentless demand for wealth, fame and beauty, who have come to realise that their reality is devastatingly at odds with their expectations. Poverty combined with a sense of thwarted entitlement is a bad mix.

We can assume too that some of the attacks are drug-inspired and that a laptop translates directly into a foil of heroin. The offenders in these instances may well be doing their own form of racial stereotyping but not necessarily out of hatred for the presumed race of their victim.

As is so often the case, the victims of these crimes of poverty and marginalisation are themselves poor and marginalised. The international education market has become more essential to Australia and the global value and accessibility of an English-language education has increased. So Melbourne is seeing more, less advantaged students living in the most disadvantaged suburbs where the housing is cheapest, having to work poorly-paid night jobs to survive. If it were ever true to assume that international students are wealthy, it is no longer the case. Their marginal status and class in the Australian context makes them vulnerable by these facts alone.

What can be done? The old policy response of law and order — ever wheeled out by politicians at a loss — is a demonstrated failure. Nowhere in the world has extra policing and heavier sentencing prevented crimes of poverty. Even where hugely expensive "zero tolerance" policies are applied, such as in New York, crimes of poverty still occur while the prisons overflow with young, poor, predominantly black men whose continued alienation is assured.

A more effective response would be to try to reduce class inequality. Providing decent, affordable housing and equal educational opportunities would be a start.

But important socialising environments — where people learn about themselves and others and develop the skills to deal with the things life can throw up — go beyond housing and school. The places where young people learn to interact positively and meaningfully with others are the small places of community centres, local clubs, theatre groups and — dare I say it — live music venues.

It is in these small social environments that people form friendships based on shared interests, and become realistic about their hopes and expectations. In places such as these they also meet people from different cultures, and women and gay people. These interactions sow the seeds for empathy and appreciation of difference.

Any serious policy response to street violence needs to start with a good, hard look at the city, from the macro, contextual view of the distributions of wealth, locations and types of housing and jobs, and funding of and access to education, to the micro issues of the social opportunities and facilities offered to young people. Into all these analyses then come the complexities of racial and class differentiation.

Simple solutions to urban problems are invariably wrong. In this anything but simple matter, the categorical claims for or against "Australia as a racist society" are neither meaningful nor helpful.


Irrational Medicare system delivers inverse health care

(Australians already have a "public option" for all, which they call "Medicare". It delivers cheap visits to private doctors but third-rate hospital care)

By Dr Jeremy Sammut

This week, two health stories from different states point to some fundamental problems with Medicare.

In Victoria, The Age has reported on a convicted conman investigated twice in recent years for suspected Medicare fraud who continues to bill the system for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph has alleged that the Federal MP for the NSW Central Coast seat of Robertson, Belinda Neal, offered (though she strongly denies it) to have a local Labor Party branch member moved up the waiting list for hip-replacement surgery in return for supporting Neal in a bitter pre-selection contest.

The extent to which Medicare may be being ripped off is unknown. Incredibly, healthcare providers are not obliged to hand over their billing records to investigators, and one in five who are audited refuse to do so.

The federal government spends about $14 billion a year on bulk-billed general practice and other allied health services, or about half the amount state and federal governments spend on Australia’s 750 public hospitals.

Expenditure on this part of the Medicare program (which all governments treat as a political sacred cow) is uncapped and demand-driven. Unquantifiable amounts of health dollars are being wasted due to not only fraud but also overuse of bulk-billed services consumed without upfront charges and co-payments.

By contrast, public hospital budgets are capped and this part of the system is supply-driven. Budget limits determine services levels, and public hospital care is rationed not only by elective waiting lists but also by emergency patients waiting for hours, sometimes days, before a free hospital bed is found.

Australia’s ‘free and universal’ public health system is therefore well-described as an irrational ‘inverse insurance system.’ The worried well can see the doctor for ‘free’ an unlimited number of times although their health needs are mostly minor, leaving taxpayers to pick up the ever-increasing bill. But when medical problems are most serious, an ‘inverse care law’ applies, and patients are forced to queue to receive hospital treatment.

The diminishing numbers of true believers who think Medicare the unblemished jewel in the crown of Australian social democracy are truly deluded. Medicare is not free, let alone universal, and beyond the cost to taxpayers, the highest price is being paid by the truly sick who are routinely denied timely access to essential hospital care.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated February 19. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Now bananas and mangoes are bad for you!

EATING too many bananas and mangoes can make you gain weight rather than lose it, a weight loss expert has warned. Queensland Health recommends adults eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day, to help prevent heart disease and other health conditions.

But Dr Leon Massage, who operates a private weight loss clinic in Melbourne, has warned not all fruits are good for weight loss, particularly bananas and mangoes, The Cairns Post reports. "The tropical fruits tend to be more high in glycaemic index and more high in their calorie content," Dr Massage said. "So they are healthy, but you have to eat them in moderation."

Dr Massage, who was in Cairns this week to present a workshop on weight loss and nutrition, said dieters often made the mistake of eating larger amounts of fruit than necessary. "People often make the mistake in having large volumes of fruit, which can be a problem on their own," he said.

Cairns Base Hospital dietician Simone Conchin said it was nutritionally important to regularly eat different types of fruit and vegies. But she said people need to stick to eating two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables and make sure they exercise.


Desperate call for high school teachers in NSW

Not exactly surprising. Teaching was once seen as a noble profession. With today's chaotic schools, sensible people avoid a teaching career

MORE than 1840 high school classes are waiting for permanent teachers. The Education Department is also yet to fill hundreds of vacant positions. According to The Daily Telegraph, 421 teaching jobs are vacant in NSW, including 288 regular teachers and 133 head teachers.

Maths was one of the subjects hit hardest by the lack of head teachers, with 11 Sydney high schools and eight regional schools awaiting senior staff.

Based on the formula that every teacher takes an average of five classes of 25 students and head teachers take at least three classes, more than 50,000 students would be waiting for permanent teachers to replace casuals until the vacancies are filled.

A spokesman for the department said it took an average "five to six weeks" to fill teaching positions, meaning the wait to employ 421 teachers added up to more than 70,000 teaching hours.

Education Minister Verity Firth was clueless on the number of high school teacher vacancies. At a press conference that Ms Firth called on school security, she was asked whether schools would be safer if the state's 421 teacher vacancies were filled to improve supervision. "I'm not aware of that statistic which you are quoting," Ms Firth said. When told the figures were provided by her own department yesterday morning she said: "I need more information on what these vacancies are." The Daily Telegraph can tell her the figure includes 288 teacher vacancies in the secondary system.

After it was revealed this week that HSC students were forced to teach themselves via the internet in the absence of a qualified Year 12 maths teacher, the department revealed there were 52 vacancies for the subject. Apart from Davidson High School, there were 10 other Sydney high schools without head maths teachers including Bankstown Girls, Killarney Heights, Nepean, Parramatta, Punchbowl Boys, Quakers Hill, Rooty Hill, Ryde Secondary College, Sarah Redfern and Seven Hills. The list of regional schools included Boorowa Central, Broken Hill, Callaghan College at Wallsend, Coffs Harbour Senior College and Murwillumbah.

Opposition education spokesman Adrian Piccoli said the system of employing teachers was in urgent need of an overhaul. "It reinforces just how out of touch the Government is with priorities in education," he said.


1 comment:

Paul said...

That a mere mortal would venture to brazenly approach the FUTURE Secretary General of the United Nations????

The very thought?