Tuesday, February 09, 2010

“Understanding the Ruddy ETS”

The Carbon Sense Coalition today claimed that the Emissions Trading Scheme proposed for Australia and now before the Australian Parliament was far more than “A Great Big New Tax”. The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that PM Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme combined a Big New Tax with a War-Time Rationing scheme and an Income redistributing compensation scheme, all to be run by a regulatory army probably bigger than our real army.

He continued: “Let’s try to understand this Ruddy ETS. “To simplify things, let’s look at just the electricity industry.

“If Rudd’s ETS ever rules Australia, companies producing electricity from carbon fuels must beg, buy or borrow a permit to burn coal, gas or diesel. “They can beg a free permit from some mate in Canberra; they can buy a permit from some lucky sod who managed to get more permits than he needs; they can borrow a permit by entering into some tricky derivative trade with a speculator in Chicago; or they can pay carbon credit penance to a shifty land owner in some foreign land who promises solemnly not to clear his trees. “No matter which option is chosen, power costs will go up and companies must pass the extra cost (plus GST) onto their customers or go broke. “There will be no effect on climate.

“Now look at consumers. “The ETS must push up the cost of all goods and services using carbon fuel. It will boost the cost of electricity, food, transport and travel. When this happens, consumers will suddenly understand the ETS Tax and politicians who voted for it will feel their anger.

“But there is a plan: “Let’s compensate all those likely to vote for us”. “If these subsidies work properly, the lucky consumers will be in the same position as they were before ETS, except for the extra bureaucracy. For these consumers, there is no signal to reduce their consumption of carbon fuels. The ETS will do nothing except create a tangle of red tape which consumes and redistributes wealth.

“But for the un-subsidised consumers, the ETS is an extra tax on everything. “And for the power companies, the ETS will produce nothing except a heap of angry customers, and lots of red tape.

Mr Forbes claimed that Tony Abbott was wrong about the ETS. “It is not just a Great Big Tax. “It’s a Great Big Tax PLUS a mountain of Red Tape. “And it will have absolutely no effect on world climate.”

Press release from Carbon Sense above

Kevin Rudd under fire for 'broken' hospitals pledge

KEVIN Rudd's election pledge to fix the nation's hospitals is under fresh attack after the Prime Minister said he wanted a "compromise" with states. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott jumped on Mr Rudd's comments and accused him of "walking away" from his promise of a federal takeover of hospitals if the states disagreed with his reform plan. In a sustained attack, Mr Abbott accused the Prime Minister of a string of broken promises and labelled him deceptive, weak, tricky and a lifelong bureaucrat addicted to process in a foretaste of the Coalition's election campaign.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said: "If the Prime Minister cannot keep his 2007 election commitments, how can he be trusted with his 2010 election commitments?"

Labor previewed its attack, repeatedly questioning the Coalition's economic credentials. Mr Rudd said Mr Abbott's attack was "distraction with a capital D" to deflect from former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull's climate change rebellion. Mr Turnbull confirmed he would cross the floor to support Labor's emissions trading scheme in an impassioned speech where he bucketed Mr Abbott's alternative plan. He said that schemes like Mr Abbott's – where "bureaucrats and politicians (would) pick technologies and winners, doling out billions of taxpayers dollars" – were neither economically efficient nor environmentally effective.

During a failed censure motion, Mr Abbott accused Mr Rudd of breaking several election promises, from fixing the the hospital system by mid-2009, to preventing homelessness and ensuring no worker would be worse off under Labor's workplace changes.

Opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton told The Courier-Mail: "This puts a big question mark on Kevin Rudd's integrity (and he's) had two years of wasted opportunity in health." He said Mr Rudd's willingness to compromise with the states was "confirmation he won't be able to fix hospitals".


OECD queries cost of new broadband network

But it's Kevvy's own idea -- his only one -- so he's likely to stick to it

THE OECD has questioned Labor's $43 billion national broadband network as the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy fends off an Auditor-General's report that shows $30 million was lost after he ignored public service advice that his original scheme risked failure.

As the opposition yesterday seized on the Australian National Audit Office report's findings that the government had been given "clear advice" of the risks in implementing its NBN election commitment, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Australia desk, Claude Giorno, called on the Rudd government to apply more rigorous cost-benefit analysis to its infrastructure spending, including its $43 billion broadband network. Mr Giorno said "questions need to be answered" about Labor's broadband network because of the amount of spending involved and the apparent lack of any cost-benefit analysis.

The government's proposed fixed fibre technology network required "very careful assessment". "Maybe not everybody needs to have a very-high-speed broadband connection," he said. "Maybe it would be less costly to develop alternative technology depending on where you are geographically."

Taxpayers lost $17m and bidders about $13m. The government paid $604,918 to a panel of experts and $10.96m to consultants - including legal adviser Corrs Chambers Westgarth ($3.45m), investment, financial and commercial adviser KPMG ($2.85m) and regulatory adviser Frontier Economics ($1.31m). The experts panel, which assessed the original NBN bids, included: Tony Mitchell ($168,893.56); Rod Tucker ($161,476.63); Tony Shaw ($112,895.94); Reg Coutts ($128,892.49); and John Wylie ($32,759.49).

Opposition Senate leader Nick Minchin accused Senator Conroy of misleading the Senate on February 3 last year when he said the government's ambition was to sign a contract for the NBN by March. This was despite Senator Conroy having received a report from the expert panel on January 20 that none of the bids represented value for money.

Senator Conroy denied he had misled parliament, saying on February 3 that a range of policy options was still open to the government.

Opposition communications spokesman Tony Smith said taxpayers should be worried as Senator Conroy embarked on the new NBN proposal. "Taxpayers have every reason to be worried that the same master of this disaster is presiding over even more taxpayers' funds on the reckless NBN II proposal, which was announced without a cost-benefit analysis or a business plan."


Western Australia: Gifted kids let down by system

THOUSANDS of potential child geniuses are going unrecognised in schools, leaving many in danger of never reaching their full potential. For some of WA's 35,000 gifted children, their overlooked "gifts" have become a burden, forcing them to turn to misbehaviour or switch off from lessons.

According to US child intelligence expert Deborah Ruf, the education system - particularly primary schools - is failing to get the most out of gifted children. Dr Ruf, who will be speaking at the University of WA this week, said schools spent more time focusing on struggling pupils. "The brightest children spend nearly the entirety of their school years being instructed far below their capacity to learn, with the result that we are losing them and what they could become," she told The Sunday Times.

"Many of these exceptionally bright children are living right now in homes and learning in classrooms where the adults responsible for them often don't know or don't fully understand their potential. "Some of them are mistakenly labelled as behaviour problems. Others flounder in classrooms designed to meet the needs of children who are far behind them in their learning."

Gifted and Talented Children's Association of WA spokeswoman Kriss Muskett said gifted children went unnoticed because teachers did not know how to identify them. She called for teachers to be trained "at an undergraduate level" to recognise different levels of giftedness and how to deal with those children.

The Education Department said gifted primary school pupils were given the opportunity to extend themselves through the Primary Extension and Challenge Program. The part-time program is available to students in Years 5, 6 and 7. There are also 16 secondary schools that offer selective programs.

David Axworthy, executive director of school support services, said WA was the only state to test every student in Year 4 to see if they needed to be challenged, and more than $7 million a year was spent on public school programs designed for gifted students. Education Minister Liz Constable said she was committed to the development of gifted children because she had completed her PhD in the area.


Queensland Health a bureaucratic mess

ONE of the world's top medical experts has delivered a damning assessment of Queensland Health five years after the Bundaberg Hospital scandal. The unflattering report comes despite billions of dollars in extra funding being poured into the system after the Bundaberg fiasco. The top-level review, conducted by recently retired UK chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, found the department and the independent watchdog set up following the 2005 health inquiries had little idea who was responsible for improving patient safety.

Obtained by The Courier-Mail, the August 2009 report said hospitals had overlapping and unclear safety standards, were too reliant on overseas-trained doctors while staff were burdened with duplication. There was also no strategy for remote and regional areas while the public was given a "weak voice" in the system.

In one of a raft of botched policies, Sir Liam identified an "ambiguity" between the roles of Queensland Health and the Health Quality and Complaints Commission. "(There is) no clear agreement on the respective roles of the (HQCC) and Queensland Health in quality improvement," the report said.

Sir Liam, who visited for a week last year focusing on clinical governance, said Queensland had made a "major commitment" to reform, including an impressive roll-out of programs, strong leadership and accountable services. But he also identified areas where policy was ill-defined or lacking, including unclear and varying reporting standards. "Some standards have strong clinical and managerial credibility, others are not valued," the report said.

Sir Liam, whose bill is expected to hit about $40,000, said recruitment was strengthened but that it took four to five months to hire doctors. "Many areas are still heavily dependent on locums (mainly international medical graduates)," the report said.

It also said that the role of the QH Patient Safety Board needed refocusing. "At the end of every meeting, the board should ask itself: 'Have we concentrated on the most important things?'," Sir Liam said.

Sir Liam noted patient safety was comparable to other countries but the PRIME incident reporting system was overburdening staff. "There is a clear sense of 'implementation fatigue' permeating the current system," Sir Liam said.

Predicting tensions, Sir Liam said QH should own responsibility for quality standards but said the HQCC was "ambitious" and wanted to be proactive in patient safety culture. "On the other hand, it is unlikely that Queensland Health's senior management would accept a wide-ranging quality improvement and cultural change role for the commission," he said.

Centre for Healthcare Improvement boss Tony O'Connell said it was moving in the right direction but admitted more work was required. "This is always a work in progress and we'd never say we'd completed all tasks," he said.


Australia Tightens Immigration Rules

Foreign doctors, nurses and school teachers who speak good English and have jobs already organised will be Australia's top priority migrants under new immigration policy

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans announced Monday several reforms to his country's immigration policy, including several policy changes aimed at attracting more highly-skilled immigrants to the country.

Criticizing the ongoing trend for new immigrants to enroll for vocational courses for gaining residency, Evans said that Australia would change the current list of 106 skills in demand and review a points test based on qualifications, skills and proficiency in English currently used to assess migrants. He said that the present list will now be replaced by a "more targeted" Skilled Occupations List.

"We had tens of thousands of students studying cookery and accounting and hairdressing because that was on the list and that got them through to permanent residency," Evans told Australian radio, adding that such courses will no longer be an assured path to permanent residence.

"The current points test puts an overseas student with a short-term vocational qualification gained in Australia ahead of a Harvard-educated environmental scientist," Evans said.

"We want to make sure we're getting the high-end applicants," Evans said, stressing that the changes brought about by the new immigration policies would try to attract more health workers, including more doctors and nurses, as well more qualified professionals in the fields of engineering and mining.

"The new arrangements will give first priority to skilled migrants who have a job to go to with an Australian employer. For those who don't have an Australian employer willing to sponsor them, the bar is being raised," Evans said.

"If hospitals are crying out for and willing to sponsor nurses, then of course they should have priority over the 12,000 un-sponsored cooks who have applied and who, if they were all granted visas, would flood the domestic market," he added.

Evans also pointed out that some 170,000 people applied for living and working permanently in Australia last year alone, when there were just 108,000 vacancies available. He added that all lower-skilled applications lodged before 1st September 2007 would be withdrawn and application fees worth A$14 million ($12.15 million) refunded.

The reforms in Australia's immigration policy comes in wake of reports that thousands of students from overseas, mainly from Asia, were manipulating the existing system by providing fraud documents to enroll for vocational courses at private Australian colleges, purely to gain residency permits.



Paul said...

Turnbull remains as ever the Member for Glodman Sachs.

Paul said...

As an end user of the PRIME system of reporting, I can tell you that yes, it is burdensome, cumbersome, user unfriendly and we are told to fill out PRIME reports for every single incident and potential incident. This means that Nurses, especially in grossly understaffed medical and surgical areas are being commanded to pull 15 to 20 minutes per report out of their time When they can't keep up already with the existing demands of patient care. When I say potential incident I mean filling out reports for things that could have happened, even though they didn't. PRIME is hated by most staff, and seen as tokenism i.e only exists so the Minister can say in Parliament that "systems are in place", and prolems it does unearth are NEVER addressed because they always point to inadequate staffing at the bedside where it used to count.