Sunday, May 16, 2010

Five reasons Tony Abbott could topple Kevin Rudd

SUNDAY Telegraph political columnist Peter Van Onselen reveals what will help take Opposition Leader Tony Abbott all the way to the Lodge - and what could trip him up

Why Abbott could win

1 Tony Abbott has managed to unite the Coalition in a way that shows he's a strong leader. After three years of Rudd backdowns and backflips, that can only be a welcome thing. Abbott has significant ministerial experience from the Howard years which means he won't be the risk that Rudd was when he was made PM with limited experience.

2 The paid parental leave scheme is a generous one which, unlike Rudd's minimum wage plan, would stop treating women giving birth like welfare cases. Abbott plans to give women their full working wages for six months if they have a baby, which if enacted would be one of this country's most significant advances in women's rights. If Abbott delivers such a policy it would be a surprise to some.

3 Abbott has core values and beliefs. You would never see a Rudd-style back-down from Abbott on his core beliefs on the monarchy or mutual obligation. The thing about Abbott is everyone knows he's a passionate politician whom you can either love or loathe. Rudd tries to be all things to all people.

4 Oppositions don't win elections; governments lose them. That's the old saying and on that score Labor may well have done enough to deserve to lose the next election. From roof insulation problems to humiliating back-downs on emissions trading, the Government hasn't been as good as it promised it would be and Abbott has done well at drawing this to people's attention.

5 Abbott's Budget reply speech demonstrated his commitment to a fast return to surplus, at least as fast as the Government's target. He's light on how he intends to do it, promising those details closer to the election. If we get the details and they're fully costed, a fiscally competent Abbott administration is far more appealing than one led by our ever shrinking Prime Minister.

And why he can't

1 Abbott has softened his persona since he was elected Liberal Party leader, but that doesn't get around the policy and philosophical positions he took when he was John Howard's attack dog in government. He was a strong supporter of the draconian industrial relations policy WorkChoices. He led the campaign against allowing for access to the abortion drug RU486. And he did cut projected spending in the health portfolio when he was health minister. People would be well within their rights to wonder if the Abbott who had the power of the Prime Minister's office stayed the same as the Abbott now running the Opposition.

2 A majority of Australians believe in man-made climate change, but Abbott isn't so sure. He said the argument was "absolute crap". It might not be "the greatest moral challenge of our generation", but Australians do have to ask themselves if they really want a prime minister who has such disregard for something potentially so serious to the future of our children.

3 However good a job Abbott is doing as Opposition leader since he took over the position late last year, the team around him doesn't look nearly ready for government. The Coalition line-up no longer includes the heavyweights from the Howard era. Instead, the front bench includes the likes of Julie Bishop and Barnaby Joyce, and Abbott won't even find room for Malcolm Turnbull despite his obvious talents now he has said he won't be retiring at the next election.

4 Opposing the Government's plans to increase compulsory contributions to superannuation is almost enough reason alone to reject the Coalition. Ageing is regarded by most experts as one of the most important challenges we will face in the years ahead. Ensuring people will have enough money to live on when they reach old age is good policy and it's a disgrace that Abbott doesn't see that.

5 The Coalition has burned through three leaders in less than three years, during which time they haven't come close to looking like an alternative government. If they can't run their own parties, how on earth can we trust them to run the country? More time in the wilderness would help them get serious about what they really stand for and what they would do differently as a government. (So far, they're light on for detailed policy.)


People being rushed through NSW hospital emergency rooms without being given adequate treatment

More people are returning to emergency departments a short time after an initial visit, according to new figures that indicate the standard of treatment may be falling. The data, provided to The Sun-Herald as part of our MyHospital project, relates to 12 hospitals in the south-eastern Sydney and Illawarra areas.

The statistics indicate an 8 per cent increase in patients returning to the same emergency department within 48 hours of a first visit. Repeat visits have risen from 4.3 to 4.8 per cent of all emergency attendances in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period in 2009, according to figures released to a patient under Freedom of Information laws.

Separate figures published by NSW Health show Sutherland Hospital has improved in the politically sensitive measure of triage performance, increasing the proportion of people seen by a doctor within benchmark times between 2008 and 2009.

But the revisit statistics - which are not routinely made public - show that may have been at the expense of treatment quality, as the hospital has more recently experienced a 12 per cent surge in emergency attendances that were return visits within two days.

Sutherland's 4.5 per cent revisit rate now exceeds the government's target of a maximum 4.1 per cent. The measure indicates the suitability of patients' emergency-department treatment, and whether those who need it are promptly offered in-patient admission.

Eight of the area's 12 hospitals have not met that benchmark in the period to April, compared to five last year. Sydney Children's, St Vincent's and Wollongong hospitals all saw their triage performance worsen between 2008 and 2009, while their rate of repeat emergency visits also deteriorated early this year.

But recent triage figures are available only for larger hospitals, making it hard for the public to scrutinise the performance of regional units such as Shellharbour and Shoalhaven hospitals.

MyHospital for the first time puts key statistics on individual hospitals at patients' fingertips. It includes the most recent full-year figures and will be updated as new data emerges.

Sally McCarthy, of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, said the repeat-emergency-visit data was ''useful among a constellation of measures'' but should be viewed in context with a facility's overall re-admission rate.

Dr McCarthy said country hospitals such as Bulli, where 17.7 per cent of patients returned within 48 hours, did not necessarily have poorer treatment.

She said, ''They don't really function like a true emergency department. They may require patients to return for planned visits for review of wound dressings or fractures. It's more likely reflective of a model of care that's gone from [urban units].''

A South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service spokeswoman said, ''As our population ages, our health services see more chronic conditions that result in patients having regular peaks and troughs in their health status, often requiring repeat medical care.''

St Vincent's spokesman David Faktor said, ''Our hospital has a patient population with the highest rates of homelessness, drug and alcohol issues and poverty. We have a high number of patients who use the hospital as their primary healthcare provider.''

After the MyHospital data appeared last week, the Bureau of Health Information flagged its first report on its website, based on the 2009 patients' survey.

Shadow health minister Jillian Skinner said, ''They are just moving things from one website to another. This is another example of how the NSW government is failing to implement any of the improvements recommended by Peter Garling in his report into the health service.''


How to deal with gross social worker failure: Cover it up!

More corruption in Victoria

A REPORT into how authorities failed a woman who was raped daily by her father for almost 30 years - and bore him four children - will not be publicly released.

Community Services Minister Lisa Neville resisted calls for her resignation when the case came to light last year. Instead she ordered Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary to investigate why authorities ignored repeated warnings about the woman's wellbeing.

The report was delivered more than a week ago, but Ms Neville's office says it was never meant to be made public. The Government is considering its findings.

"The purpose of inquiries such as this is to bring an independent and systemic approach to the operational and practice areas of service delivery," a spokeswoman said. "The findings and the recommendations of these inquiries are forwarded to the Minister for Community Services for consideration and, where evidence supports the need for new approaches, for implementation."

The Herald Sun revealed the woman's story last year, detailing how authorities had been repeatedly warned she was being abused but failed to act.

In February, the woman's 66-year-old father was sentenced to 22 years and five months' jail. "You defiled your daughter over many years on a regular basis ... To describe your treatment of (her) as appalling is a gross understatement," said County Court Judge Susan Pullen.

After the Herald Sun revealed the case last year - which Ms Neville said she was not aware of - authorities provided more services to the woman and her children.

Child safety advocate Chris Goddard said Mr Geary's report was not independent and called for a full review of the case. "This case deserves a fully independent inquiry, if nothing else," he said.


Robbed of identity, now she must change her name

Carmela Grande can trace the moment she lost her identity. It was the last week of October 2007. Now, in a battle to regain it, she is about to give up her name.

Her nightmare started in October 2007. After a few days away, she had no mail waiting for her. It was unusual, but she blamed a post office redirection error.

About four weeks later, about $25,000 had disappeared from her account after fraudsters had changed her mailing address and applied for new bank cards. They had stolen her mail from a locked letterbox and created fake IDs, using her name and birthday and someone else's photo.

But she had caught it early, got reimbursed by her bank and hoped she had got off lightly.

Police warned her the fraudsters would lie dormant for a while before striking again and advised her to change her name. "I didn't want to … I've grown up with it. It's who I am. I have defined that name," she said. But after being hit a second time, she has now conceded it is the best thing to do.

Half a million Australians became victims of credit or bank card fraud or identity theft in 2007, says the Bureau of Statistics. It is the number one fear of adults in this country, according to the Unisys Security Index.

The head of the Queensland fraud unit, Superintendent Brian Hay, said given a person's name, gender and the postcode they lived in, a fraudster could identify that person from freely available information nearly nine times out of 10.

Nevertheless, the head of the NSW Fraud Squad, Superintendent Colin Dyson, believed a name change was not necessary.

Ms Grande realised she had been targeted again last June when she tried to check her superannuation balance but was denied access to the account, even though she had warned the fund two years earlier.

Again, her postal address and PIN had been changed, and nearly $100,000 had been taken from her account.

Police have since charged someone with the fraud, but Ms Grande says she cannot be sure her personal information has not been sold on. Again she was lucky not to lose any money, although it took the super fund nine months to reimburse her.

She has now put in place safeguards: she cannot withdraw or deposit money without personal identification, and her mail goes to a post office box.

But she has been warned that clever fraudsters can phone banks or pretend to deposit money and find out where you have an account, before finding out your details.

Ms Grande has identified a name she likes a few generations back in her family, but is determined the fear of fraud will not get her down. "I'm not going to let it get the better of me. If you do that, what sort of life are you going to have," she said.


1 comment:

Ruby said...

It is unbelievable the lengths to which criminals will go to steal from other Australians. We are rapidly getting a society where truthfulness is disappearing, the vulnerable are assaulted and robbed and we cannot believe what politicians say.

We also now know that even the banks are quite happy to rip off their customers and insurance companies are also less than honest when repairing cars which are involved in crashes.

Many of our young people seem to think it more important to drink, do drugs, and be promiscuous rather than pursue worthwhile goals in education. They cannot spell,read or write properly and do not understand what they are reading. They live on credit cards, cannot add up and are quite happy to live on the dole.

Our nation is only as good as its citizens and Australia is rapidly becoming a nation where many citizens are not proud to say where they come from.

Thank God for those young Australian achievers we do have and I just hope that some of the more lazy young citizens can find some inspiration.

Does this attitude come from years and years of State Labor Governments?