Friday, May 28, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is celebrating the departure of Malcolm Fraser. I don't think Zeg gets all the details of history right but he has got the general drift pretty right.

A REAL "stolen generation" needed?

If Mr Justice Martin is correct below -- and I believe that he is at least partly right -- the problem with violent black males starts when the males concerned were themselves abused as children. So shouldn't we be removing such children to more peaceful homes? And given the lack of peace in most black homes that would mean bring up black children in white foster homes -- precisely what the Leftist "stolen generation" accusers condemn

VIOLENCE in north Australian indigenous communities shows no sign of abating and it could be a further 25 years before any meaningful progress is made, a top judge has warned. In words laced with anguish and despair, Northen Territory Chief Justice Brian Martin announced his surprise resignation - eight years before compulsory retirement age - admitting that "some of the cases have been rough and demoralising". "You reach a point," he said, "where you say enough is enough."

Justice Martin said jail had become an ineffective means of rehabilitation and that he had become tired of seeing a growing tide of Aboriginal men repeatedly before the courts for violent crimes against women. "It is somewhat demoralising and distressing to see so many cases of that nature and so many offenders who are repeat offenders," he said. "These need to be addressed at a level before it gets to the court because there is a limit to what we can do. "We can put people in jail, but that in itself has proved to be an ineffective way of rehabilitating people."

Justice Martin's comments will add to an already heated debate in the Territory about the merits of so-called "soft" and "hard" sentencing of indigenous offenders.

"We (the courts) are right at the tail end of all the experiences of the life of the offender that has ultimately led to this type of offending," Justice Martin said yesterday during a candid and wide-ranging press conference at the NT Supreme Court chambers. "Being at the tail end, we can't cure them. That's the problem.

"We see many offenders who come from homes in which they were the victims. "They end up becoming offenders. We have to break that cycle somehow."

Justice Martin said stamping out the violence would take generational change and special attention needed to be given to children. "The project in my view is at least a 25-year project," he said.

"It starts with getting the very young children out of the dysfunctional lifestyle and circumstances and get them into the right lifestyle and break the vicious cycle that has been set up."

Indigenous academic Marcia Langton last night branded the 25-year timeframe as "defeatist" and insisted the situation be turned around earlier. "We shouldn't make kids wait that long for a decent life," she said. "People become defeated by how difficult the task is but you have to be tough. "It's about vigilance. There are a lot of parties that could do so much better." [Like whom?]


Official climate "experts" can't even spell

A waiver is the voluntary surrender of some right or privilege. Does the big brain below mean "waver"?
DSE invites members of the Victorian Public Service to a presentation on: Dealing with climate change denialism with Paul Holper, CSIRO

Popular opinion on climate change often waivers, particularly when the media focus on denialist views and encourage “debates” with climate change scientists. The Victorian Government, along with other governments in Australia and across the world, rely on the scientific community for advice on climate change and its likely impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is recognised as the international authority on climate change science and denialist views often lack rigor and credibility in comparison. Paul Holper (CSIRO) will present on ways to approach climate change denialism in a Victorian context.

Paul Holper Paul manages the CSIRO’s involvement in the Australian Climate Change Science Program, a $15 million program supported by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. This program undertakes observations of the atmosphere, oceans and terrestrial systems, as well as climate model development, and projections of Australia’s likely future climate. Paul coordinated the most recent climate change projections for Australia (based on IPCC models), announced by BoM and CSIRO in 2007.


Note that Public servants only are invited. Secret knowledge? I'd love to go and ask some awkward questions but I don't have that much time to waste anyway.

It would be fascinating to see a transcript of Mr Holper's lecture but I'm betting that he won't have the balls to release it. He would know that to do so would expose him to ridicule and refutation.

Misleading Federal government advertising

Just a blatant use of taxpayers' money to plug as achievements what are no more than Leftist promises

Qualification and nuance discounts affirmations of all kinds, particularly when you are trying to sell somebody something.

So that's probably the reason the federal government has opted to omit the grey area when it comes to the advertising campaign currently on air at your expense - the one that intones reassuringly that the Australian Government "will deliver better health and better hospitals".

You wouldn't want to bog the advertisement down with untidy and ill-defined bits and pieces. Like the fact that Western Australia has not yet agreed to the Commonwealth's health and hospital reforms. Or that the Senate is yet to consider any legislation that might be required to give effect to that agreement. Best keep it simple.

Rather like the lovely glossy brochures printed at your expense plugging the government's new paid maternity leave scheme. It's cool. It's big. It's fabbo. "On 1 January 2011, the Australian Government will deliver Australia’s first national paid parental leave scheme."

Well let’s hope the country can strike a modest blow for modernity after all this time. But that too depends on the Senate, which is yet to consider the necessary legislation giving effect to the scheme. But why sweat the details?

After all, this wouldn't quite work would it? "On 1 January 2011, the Australian Government will (probably) deliver Australia's first national paid parental scheme (if the unrepresentative swill in the Senate allows us to)." Not so schmick. But it would be a more accurate representation of current political reality.

I wouldn't get picky if it wasn't my money. And yours. And I wouldn't harp on about this issue if this government had resolved to be just like the one it replaced: the one that thought nothing of taking large sums of your money and investing it in advertising telling you how good they were.

You remember that period of course. Eventually the degree of taxpayer-funded self-congratulation going on under the Howard government drove us all stark raving mad.

This particular Rudd government actually had an accountability agenda. It promised to be different than its predecessor. And there is evidence to show that on several fundamentals it is different from its predecessor on the issue of taxpayer funded advertising. But there is troubling evidence too of back-sliding.

In March the government dumped the Commonwealth Auditor-General, Ian McPhee, a man it had appointed (consistent with a 2007 election promise) to the important task of policing government campaigns. McPhee (who sets his own agenda and reports to the parliament) has been replaced with a committee of retired public servants (appointed on shorter contracts and answerable to the government).

That happened in March. In May, despite the Herculean effort to get the budget back into surplus earlier than forecast, the government found more than $100 million over the forward estimates to fund advertising campaigns. These campaigns are already in the pipeline.

Health is already on the air. Quite apart from its lack of disclosure, this campaign cannot be compared with an eminently justifiable information exercise: get a breast screen, check your prostate, slip slop slap. It is simply an exercise in informing all of us that the government is doing something, lest you conclude that all that’s happening in Canberra is rave parties or book clubs. If this one represents the tone of future government advertising it does not bode well.

McPhee told Senate Estimates earlier this week that his office would not be in a position to properly scrutinise any of the new spending until next year. That's after the election folks.

No one quibbles with the right of governments to inform the public, or to run campaigns where public action is required, or to communicate on issues where education is warranted.

The recent debacle surrounding the insulation program could serve as a case in point. If there had been an advertising campaign warning the public explicitly of the possible risks, and I mean possibe, then some of the disasters could have been avoided. But current practice is less than reassuring.


Freedom from information in Left-run NSW

INVESTIGATORS are repeatedly refused access to critical documents by agencies such as the Roads and Traffic Authority, despite commitments by the Premier, Kristina Keneally, and her predecessor, Nathan Rees, to reform the government's approach to freedom of information.

The Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, is seeking to change a nine-word loophole in the legislation that governs his powers and which he says significantly hinders his ability to investigate government agencies.

The loophole allows agencies to refuse access to documents they say are covered by legal professional privilege.

Mr Barbour says his requests, over 2½ years, for a change have been met with "a series of unhelpful fob-offs" and has warned he is preparing to make a special report to Parliament to force action on the issue.

"The amendment would ensure proper scrutiny of government agencies [which are] the subject of investigation," Mr Barbour told the Herald. "Importantly, it would remove the opportunity for agencies to hide behind this exemption. "It's difficult to understand why the government is so reluctant to make such a simple yet important amendment to the Ombudsman's Act."

The NSW Ombudsman, who holds royal commission powers of investigation, is the only ombudsman in Australia hamstrung by the legal loophole. The Police Integrity Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption are not prevented from accessing any type of document.

Mr Barbour has written to at least two premiers, not including Ms Keneally, and the director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet raising his concerns and requesting an amendment to the act. In a parliamentary committee report tabled last month, he revealed that draft legislation was being prepared, but that it was "pulled before it went to Parliament".

Mr Barbour described a letter he received from Leigh Sanderson, the deputy director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, as "another in a series of unhelpful fob-offs".

In the Ombudsman's latest annual report, Mr Barbour highlighted his frustration at being stonewalled during "a very significant investigation into the RTA" and another into a freedom-of-information request refused by the Board of Studies.

During the Ombudsman's investigation into the Board of Studies' refusal to grant a group of students access to their raw and "cut-off" HSC marks, he was refused access to 60 documents on the grounds of legal professional privilege.

Refusals were also made during an investigation into how the RTA handled freedom-of-information requests, which uncovered a longstanding practice of sending draft determinations to the office of the minister and not acting until it received their endorsement.

In its report, the government-controlled Committee on the Office of the Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission has recommended the act be changed, but the government has yet to respond. Earlier this month Ms Keneally issued a memo to her ministers and department heads warning them to abide by new freedom-of-information laws which take effect on July 1.


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