Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Rudd's solution to hospital waiting lists: Two more layers of bureaucracy

A much expanded Federal bureaucracy plus new local bureaucracies will be added to the already-bloated State bureaucracies -- and you can bet that not a single State bureaucrat will lose his job

KEVIN Rudd says he will strip the states of a third of their valuable GST revenue to pay for a massive Commonwealth reform of the public health and hospital systems. In a speech to the National Press Club this afternoon, the Prime Minister said the Federal Government will fund 60 per cent of public hospital services and up to 100 per cent of primary health care outpatient services.

Under the historic proposal, local hospital networks would be formed to run hospitals, taking power away from bureaucrats. The states will have to sign up to tough new national standards the Prime Minister says will deliver better hospital services.

Mr Rudd said if the states don't agree to the plan, he will take it to this year's election along with a referendum to seek the necessary powers for the Commonwealth to make the reforms a reality.

The Prime Minister said the plan will end ``blame shifting and cost shifting'' and lead to less waste and duplication across the multi-billion dollar system. The announcement will set the Prime Minister on a collision course with the states, who must hand over power and revenue to ensure the reforms can go ahead.

The Federal Government has also promised to fund 60 per cent of the cost of maintaining and improving public hospital infrastructure.


Wicked by name and wicked by nature

The great majority of their vans were found to be unroadworthy by the Queensland government recently. The NT government is obviously less vigilant. Another vehicle-hire firm to avoid. There are a lot of crooks in the industry. I myself would only ever deal with one of the biggies -- such as Hertz.

TWO German backpackers have been left stranded in Darwin after their Wicked campervan broke down - and the company refused to give any money back. Luisa Heduschke, 19, and Kathrin Legermann, 20, had hired the colourful campervan for $2300 in Alice Springs last week to take it on a 17-day road trip to Darwin. "Every time we had to go through the tiniest bit of water the engine stopped and we had to wait on the side of the road for the van to get going again," Ms Heduschke told the Northern Territory News. "After 800km we had to refill all the oil, because it had run empty, but another 400km further on it was empty again."

The two backpackers rang the Wicked hotline to complain about the oil leak and were told to "bring the van to Darwin" so a Wicked mechanic could have a look at it. Instead of taking 17 days for their sightseeing trip across the Territory, the women spent just six days on the road, worried the car would stop "in the middle of nowhere". When they arrived at the Wicked depot in Darwin they said they were told they could give the car back if they were unhappy with it.

But when the women asked for their money back, after missing out on 11 of the 17 days they had paid for, they said they were told: "The policy is not to give money back when the van is returned early."

"Wicked ruined our road trip, took our car and kept our money - we can't even do something else because we don't have the money," Ms Heduschke said. Wicked spokesman Stephen Sealey was not available for comment.


Another "Green" fraud

PETER Garrett is under fresh pressure over using discredited science and dodgy data to declare a conservation zone over the Coral Sea. Mr Garrett faces a renewed attack after a scathing new study found he used "distorted" and "biased" data to make the conservation order. This comes with the newly demoted Environment Protection Minister still under fire over the home insulation fiasco.

The former Midnight Oil rocker proclaimed the interim conservation zone last May in a push by green groups headed by the US based Pew foundation to turn 1 million sq km of the Coral Sea into a "no-take zone". But, in a report commissioned by Marine Queensland, the state's peak fishing industry body, marine biologist Ben Diggles, found the research cited by Mr Garrett was based on "discredited science".

The Marine Queensland study, obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail, said Mr Garrett based his decision on research sourced and partly funded by the Pew foundation. Much of the discredited research is over claims of the "rich biodiversity of the Coral Sea" and reports 50 per cent of marlin, swordfish and tuna stocks had declined in 50 years, based on data supplied by Japanese longliners.

Marine Queensland, Coral Sea Alliance, pro-fishing groups and the Opposition last night said the findings cast serious doubt about the "credibility and competency" of the embattled minister. They said the high-profile nationwide bio-regional review was "on the brink of disaster" and called for Mr Garrett's immediate sacking.

Last night a spokesman for Mr Garrett dismissed any links to Pew foundation and said any future decisions would be made on the "basis of good science".

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd needed to order an immediate review. "Mr Garrett has a history and a habit of making his decision and ignoring his facts," he said. "This is another example of a minister who is out of control. "Mr Garrett should clearly have lost his job as the architect of the botched home insulation program, however the only remaining part of his portfolio, is now itself under serious question. His credibility as a minister is simply untenable."


A grave consequence of government inaction over bullying in their schools

They've got "plans" about bullying but that is just hot air. Reading between the lines, the aggressors were black or ethnic, and they cannot be touched, of course. That would be "racist"

A YOUNG boy has suffered terrible injuries while fleeing a bully who threatened to kill him and his school did nothing to prevent it, his mother says. Eight-year-old Blair Retallick is in intensive care after fleeing a tormentor on a school bus and running into the path of a four-wheel drive outside a Townsville school on Monday.

Patricia Retallick said her son was the target of a long-running campaign by school bullies and had been kicked, spat on, bitten, punched and verbally abused. But nothing was done despite her many complaints to Bohlevale State School and the bus company, she said.

Blair remains in the Townsville Hospital with injuries including a fractured skull, a bruise to his brain, and a lacerated liver.

Mrs Retallick said Blair and her other children, including a daughter aged five, had been targeted by bullies on the school bus for some time. She said her approaches to the school achieved nothing, nor did her complaints to the bus company running the school service. "He was having an altercation with a child on the bus and it flowed out as the bus stopped," she told the ABC. "He was running as the boy was saying to him 'I'm going to kill you' and he ran straight into the path of a car as he was running away from the boy."

She said witnesses, including other children on the bus, had reported the tormentor's kill threat, and said kids from other families had also been bullied on the bus but nothing had been done. "It shouldn't have happened. It should have been dealt with," Mrs Retallick said. "The majority of families on that bus have had issues with those kids on that bus." Mrs Retallick said she raised the bullying issue with the school as recently as Monday morning, just before her son was injured.

The incident comes just a week after the Queensland Government said it would create the a new alliance to tackle violence in schools. The announcement came after a government report found schools were not properly checking if their anti-bullying programs were working. In a statement, Education Queensland's North Queensland region director Mike Ludwig said it was premature to speculate on the cause of the accident. Counselling had been offered to the family, he said. [It's the government that needs the counselling]

Mrs Retallick said she wanted action, including better systems to report bullying. "There needs to be changes with the education department on how we can report these things," she said.

She said Blair could be in hospital for up to a month. "It's unknown at the moment. Some of his injuries are so extensive that anything could happen and it could change in the blink of an eye," she said.

Monday was supposed to have been the last day her children caught the bus to school. The family was planning to move to New South Wales and the ongoing bullying had been a factor in the decision to move, Mrs Retallick said.


Tell us again why we need population growth

The political class is on a collision course with the punters they are elected to represent over the issue of population growth, because they are failing to engage the public in a meaningful, mature debate.

While the major political parties have signed up to the official long-term projections of 36 million by 2050, the public overwhelmingly thinks that’s way too many. In response, the politicians bat on with the reflexive response “There is No Alternative”.

This dissonance highlights much that is wrong with our political system. It also opens up big opportunities for both the extreme Right and the environmental Left over the coming years.

The numbers speak for themselves, people are rejecting the idea of big population growth by a factor of two to one. I think the reason is that the public is struggling with this debate is that the arguments in favour of growth and loaded with internal inconsistencies which are too often served up as truisms. If you were to chart a discussion between the punters and the pollies on population, it would go something like this.

Punters: The cities are bursting at the seams, the roads are clogged, the trains don’t work; we need to build more power stations to keep things running: why on earth would we want more people?

Pollies: We need more people so we can build our economy, creating more job opportunities and more economic growth.

Punters: But isn’t growth the problem? Why do we need growth, if all we are going to do with it is pay for things like cleaners and cabs and the things we need to deal with a faster, busier life?

Pollies: But if we don’t have economic growth, we won’t build up the tax base so that we have enough money to pay for the aging population, all those Baby Boomers who are about to exit the workforce and expect to receive a pension to keep them going for another 30 years.

Punters: But you have spent the last ten years making massive surpluses and handing all the money back to us in cheques we never asked for. Now you are spending billions on school canteens and insulation batts that no one ever asked for – surely we could just save a bit more money now. Even better, pump up the superannuation to 15 per cent so we can pay our own way.

Pollies – But these injections of funds are important to stimulate the economy and keep it growing.

Punters; But who said we wanted to grow?

Pollies: And while we are at it, the insulation problem is part of the effort to make our cities more environmentally sustainable.

Punters: Don’t talk to us about the environment. If you cared about the environment you would not be trying to truck in millions of more people into our fragile continent. Adelaide is already running dry, droughts are becoming more regular – surely millions more people is not the environmental solution.

Pollies: Its actually pretty simple: with a larger population, you’ll be able to generate the economic activity to come up with environmental solutions.

Punters; You are talking about growth again, can you just explain to me why growth is good?

Pollies: Well, if you went to university like we did, you would know that basic economics dictate that economies that grow create wealth and jobs and those that contract are miserable and dangerous places where the common currency is the banana.

Punter: But you keep telling us we have a skills shortage, why would be creating jobs that we can fill?

Pollies: That’s precisely why we need to increase out population base, so we have enough workers to drive are growing economy.

Punter: You’re not listening to us.

Pollies: You are too stupid to understand the big picture.

Punter: Wankers.

Sadly, that’s where our national debate on population is right now.


Police coverup on specious grounds: "A police officer in South Australia has been arrested and charged with rape but senior police have refused to provide details, saying they want to protect the alleged victim. AdelaideNow reports the serving officer, 24, was arrested by Sexual Crime Investigation Branch detectives yesterday. Police said they will not release any more details of the police officer or the circumstance of the alleged rape, as it may tend to identify the victim. Neither will they release the location or time where the alleged offence occurred, as is normal practice. The officer has been suspended from duty pending the outcome of the court case. He will appear in the Holden Hill Magistrates Court in April. [They are obviously afraid that if he is identified, other victims will come forward. My Queensland Police blog continues to get plenty of updates]

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