Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rudd set to shaft Australia's farmers

"We'll take Japan to court", says PM. This will have a major adverse impact in Japan. It will be seen as a loss of face. Japanese consumers are highly likely to stop buying farm products of Australian origin. Rudd should butt out of something that is none of his business. Once Australia is seen as a hostile nation by Japanese consumers, there will be no rebuilding of Australia's farm-products trade for a very long time. Japanese tourists are also important for Australian business and that could come to a grinding halt too

KEVIN Rudd has vowed to take Japan to the International Court of Justice if it doesn't agree by November to stop Antarctic whaling, but a behind-closed-doors deal could blow a big hole in his case before then. A proposed compromise in the International Whaling Commission that allowed Japan to continue so-called scientific whaling, on a more restricted basis, could wreck Australia's claim that the practice is illegal under international law.

The Prime Minister yesterday demanded Japan reduce its Antarctic research quota to zero, from this summer's maximum 985 whales. "If we don't get that as a diplomatic agreement, let me tell you, we'll be going to the International Court of Justice," Mr Rudd said. "Secondly, if we don't reach a landing point with the Japanese diplomatically, that action will occur well before the commencement of the next whaling season, which is this November, OK?"

The ICJ president until 2012 is Hisashi Owada, a former head of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and father of Crown Princess Masako, wife of the heir to the Japanese throne.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, who meets Mr Rudd in Sydney today, said last night he wanted to know exactly what yesterday's comments meant. "I would like to ask him directly what his real intention was from his comment," Mr Okada said. "However, I understand he addressed that comment with discretion, making the precondition `if we don't get that as (diplomatic) discussion', so I do not see a big difference."

Liberal environment spokesman Greg Hunt criticised the ultimatum for postponing beyond the federal election a promise Mr Rudd first made as opposition leader in 2007: "He made the promise; he hasn't kept it." However, the new pledge is more categorical than Mr Rudd's recent assurances the government would act unless there was diplomatic "progress" before the IWC's June annual meeting. Mr Rudd has been heavily criticised by voters over the unmet promise, and was again yesterday on the Seven Network's Sunrise program before making his surprise commitment.

The Japanese fleet is expected to continue hunting for another three weeks in Antarctic waters, a large area Australia claims as an exclusive economic zone.

Following a series of hazardous clashes with a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, activist Peter Bethune leapt on to a Japanese vessel on Monday and is being taken to Tokyo for possible criminal charges.

Meanwhile, a "support group" of a dozen nations, including Australia and Japan, is trying to negotiate a compromise on the question that threatens the IWC's existence. The group is rumoured to be working privately on a deal limiting, but not halting, Antarctic scientific whaling and allowing commercial whaling in Japanese waters. Environmentalists and lawyers fear IWC acceptance of any scientific whaling as legitimate would be fatal for an international action based on illegality. The group's chairman is expected to report progress on Monday.

Environmental groups will ask Environment Minister Peter Garrett on Tuesday for an assurance Australia won't support any IWC compromise.


Crazy unfair dismissal laws are back with a roar

Unsafe worker can't be fired

THE nation's industrial umpire has ruled that a long-term employee who was legitimately sacked for repeated safety breaches must be reinstated and paid compensation because of his poor education and poor job prospects. In the latest ruling to concern business, Fair Work Australia found the worker had engaged in "relatively serious misconduct", but ruled the sacking harsh due to his length of service and the fact he was a poorly educated middle-aged family man, The Australian reported.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the ruling sent the wrong message, and "really exposes employers to double jeopardy". "Here we have an employee repeatedly failing to observe health safety obligations, a valid reason for dismissal found to have existed, but the company still found to have acted unlawfully," said the chamber's workplace policy director, David Gregory. "It makes it very difficult for employers to try and work their way through this maze of what seem to be competing obligations contained in different pieces of legislation.

During a shutdown at Norske Skog Paper Mills in Albury last September, Paul Quinlivan and a colleague were cleaning out a tank that captured staples from recycled pulp, when he repeatedly removed his safety glasses and was told four times by a manager to put them back on.

The tribunal accepted that his repeated failure to wear the safety glasses and his disdainful and abusive response to management amounted to serious misconduct. But the tribunal said the sacking was a "disaster" for Mr Quinlivan, taking into account that he had worked at the mill for 20 years, was married with two daughters, aged nine and 11, and had a mortgage of about $70,000.

"If the applicant had substantially lesser service; had not been a middle-aged man with very poor employment prospects for whom the dismissal has such serious personal and economic consequences; or if it had been brought home to him at any time on 2 September, 2009, that a further breach would have serious consequences, I would not have concluded that the dismissal was harsh," vice-president Michael Lawler found. He said Mr Quinlivan should have been warned rather than sacked. He ordered his reinstatement and that he be paid $16,000.


English teachers who don't know grammar

Grammar guide an 'education disaster'. The errors do seem to be bizarre. The author obviously knew nothing about grammar but just made it up as she went along. There is no logic or system in what she wrote -- JR

One of the world's most respected authorities on grammar has written to every school principal in Queensland, warning them of an error-strewn grammar guide distributed by the state's English Teachers Association. University of Queensland emeritus professor Rodney Huddleston says he was forced to write to schools directly because the English Teachers Association of Queensland refused to acknowledge or correct the 65 errors he had identified in its teaching guide on grammar, printed as a series of eight articles in its magazine.

In the letter, Professor Huddleston says the guide, called Grammar at the Coalface, "contains an exceptionally large number of errors -- over 60 in 15 1/2 pages of relevant text -- many of them very serious and basic, and including major misrepresentations of functional grammar". "It would be an educational disaster if teachers were to base their classes systematically and comprehensively on the Coalface Grammar," he says. "If students gave Coalface answers in tests and examinations, they would be marked wrong and generally regarded as lacking basic knowledge of grammar. "It is incontestable that it contains a great many errors, and I can see no justification for ETAQ's refusal to warn members of the dangers of using it as a teaching resource."

Professor Huddleston's view is supported by the former president of the Australian Linguistics Society, Randy LaPolla, who said Professor Huddleston was the "foremost expert on the English language and the grammar of the English language in the world".

Professor Huddleston, one of the principal authors of Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, first raised the errors in 2007 after the grammar guide appeared in the English teachers' magazine Words'Worth. As reported in The Australian in June 2008, Professor Huddleston wrote to the author, Lenore Ferguson, the magazine editor at the time, outlining the errors.

Dr Ferguson said at the time they were differences of opinion rather than errors, and the only mistakes she acknowledged were "mishaps" that had occurred in the editing process. Almost three years later, Dr Ferguson and the ETAQ still refuse to correct the guide, although the association has posted on its website until next month Professor Huddleston's critique and Dr Ferguson's response.

In her response, Dr Ferguson says the grammar guide "is now old business from a practitioner viewpoint" and "most of us have moved on". She says her intent was to provide a practical guide drawing on different types of grammar that would be useful in classrooms, but Professor Huddleston had replaced her "practical framing with a theoretical one and evaluates my articles from this superimposed perspective".

After being contacted by Professor Huddleston, Professor LaPolla, in his capacity as president of the linguistics society, wrote to Dr Ferguson in July 2008 urging her to publish corrected versions of the articles. In the letter, Professor LaPolla says his criticisms are the same as Professor Huddleston's, which were justified and not due to a different theoretical stance. Professor LaPolla told The Weekend Australian the mistakes in the grammar guide were basic errors and it was "bizarre" that school teachers in Queensland were telling Professor Huddleston he was wrong.

One of the errors cited by Professor Huddleston is "Sam's" -- as in "Sam's folder" -- being classified as a possessive pronoun, rather than the possessive form of a proper noun. Another example is the phrase "set of", as in "a set of bowls", being described as an adjective, which Professor Huddleston says is not a grammatical unit but a noun followed by a preposition.


The lies of Aussie Climate Minister, Penny ‘Wrong’

A comment from Britain

Our Australian skeptic friend, Val Majkus, has sent me a link to a speech made yesterday by Australian nutjob, Penny Wong, who is the Aussie Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water. Wong somehow kept a straight face when she told the crowd: “Climate change [is] happening more quickly than we previously thought.”

Wong was addressing the first national forum on coasts and climate change in Adelaide and promulgating all the usual doomsaying myths for her dwindling band of climate cult followers that global temperatures are fast rising and sea levels, as a consequence, will rise by a meter this century.

Then, the self-serving climate minister showed no remorse for going on to smear tens of millions of concerned citizens that form the grassroots movement of climate skeptics by implying they are under the sway of the tobacco lobby! Wong will come to rue her ludicrous statements. Projecting herself as some kind of high priestess. She is, in fact, no more than another gray-suited peddler of snake oil patter.

Here in Britain the mainstream media has remembered what it means to do objective journalism. Sadly, the Aussie press hasn’t yet woken up to Wong’s wonky word spin–but they will. The days of her ilk are numbered. So I need only proffer a couple of simple facts to debunk Wong’s ‘catastrophic’ global warming myth. But the minister won’t want her audience to hear such basic truths:

First, as widely reported, Professor Phil Jones, one of the world’s key alarmist climate scientists, admitted to the BBC last week that there has been no statistically significant rise in global temps for 15 years.

Second, scientists from 50 research and operational agencies from 26 countries have proved that world sea levels have fallen for the past six years.


Another triumph of government medicine

Toddler Tarliah O'Connell's tooth agony 'ignored' for days

A TODDLER suffering a mouth infection so severe it later required surgery and teeth removal was given only Panadol while the infection worsened at a hospital. Tarliah O'Connell, from Penrith, NSW, was moaning in pain after four days at Nepean Hospital and the painful infection then spread across her face. After being given only Panadol and Nurofen, a desperately sick Tarliah was transferred to The Children's Hospital, Westmead, last Thursday.

Her mother Raquel said Tarliah was immediately given morphine to control her terrible pain. She said her daughter has been left so traumatised she was now scared of medical staff. Tarliah has undergone serious facial surgery to treat the infection which even spread to her throat.

"Last Thursday they were still keeping her on Panadol," an angry Ms O'Connell said. "She was moaning in pain. "They [Nepean staff] said she needed to go to Westmead. We got to Westmead and they put her straight onto morphine." She said Tarliah may be left with scarring and may need more teeth removed. "She is still at the Westmead hospital and is being fed through a tube."

A NSW Health spokesman conceded Tarliah's pain relief consisted of only intravenously administered Panadol and oral Nurofen. The spokesman said "an apology has been offered" to the O'Connell family for their distress. He said Tarliah was also given antibiotics and IV fluids in a bid to "ease her discomfort". "The patient needed more specialised paediatric treatment and her doctor recommended that she be transferred to Westmead Children's Hospital," the spokesman said.

Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said Tarliah's treatment was "appalling".


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