Sunday, June 27, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unimpressed by the manner in which Australia acquired a new Prime Minister.

Julia won't act on climate without consensus

Which she knows she won't get. Clever: Makes her sound good to the ratbags but costs nothing

Labor failed to convince the public a carbon tax was necessary, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says. Ms Gillard said she was concerned about the government's proposed emissions trading scheme because community consensus had not been achieved.

Asked if she was behind the delay of the ETS because it was hurting Labor, Ms Gillard said she had concerns. "I was concerned that if you were going to do something as big to your economy as put a price on carbon, with the economic transfer that implies... you need a lasting and deep community consensus to do it," Ms Gillard told the Nine Network. "I don't believe we had that last and deep community consensus."

The prime minister said she believed Australia should have a price on carbon. "I will be prepared to argue for a price on carbon... so that we get that lasting and deep community consensus," she said. "But we are not there yet."

Ms Gillard said the government could take practical measures. "I believe in climate change. I believe it's caused by human activity and I believe we have an obligation to act," she said. "And I will be making some statements about some further things we can do to address the challenge of climate change as we work to that lasting and deep community consensus."


Send Pithouse to the shithouse

Corrupt Victoria again: A justice system that is unaccountable -- no matter how unsatisfactory its employees' behaviour may be

A Victorian magistrate refused a police application to protect the wife of a violent prisoner who was later stalked and attacked by the man. Richard Pithouse's conduct sparked two formal complaints to the state's Chief Magistrate, Ian Gray, in November, but it seems no action was taken.

According to the complaints, the magistrate refused to hear evidence including threats to bash and kill written by the jailbird.

Last week the Sunday Herald Sun revealed that Mr Pithouse refused to hear a sex assault victim's impact statement because he was late.

Mr Gray said he believed it was important victims had a voice in the justice system. "I am meeting with Mr Pithouse shortly and will counsel him accordingly," he said.

In October, Ballarat police applied for an intervention order against a man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, on behalf of his wife as his prison release date drew near. But Mr Pithouse refused the application without hearing any evidence, the complaint said.

A Ballarat welfare organisation later complained to Mr Gray after Mr Pithouse refused to hear evidence of the man's threatening letters. The complaint said the magistrate had bizarrely accused police of conducting a vendetta against the prisoner. Another formal complaint over the episode was made by detective Sgt Craig Dooley.

Prison letters sent by the man, but ignored by the court, included the threat "I'll kill her literally if she introduces guys to my wife". He also wrote "The ---ts have to be dealt with before I go out with a bang" and "I'm going to bash you with a cricket bat 100 per cent".

On release the man phoned his wife daily and threatened to burn down her grandmother's house. The harassment reached its peak on December 30 when he threatened her with a kitchen knife, a court later heard. A violent scuffle ensued in which the woman stabbed her attacker with the knife he was wielding - an offence for which she has been charged.

The woman had in the interim successfully obtained an intervention order against her husband by appearing before a different magistrate.

The man is on remand for breaching an intervention order and threatening a police officer with a razor blade.

Justice advocate Steve Medcraft slammed the Chief Magistrate's failure to act. "It seems it's an exclusive boy's club for magistrates," he said. The Justice Department would not say how many complaints had been made about Mr Pithouse.


Julia puts brakes on 'big Australia'

It might give ordinary Australians a break while governments catch up with all the roadbuilding and housing construction that is needed to cope with the big influx of migrants that we have already had in recent times.

Traffic congestion in all Australian big cities has got a lot worse in recent years because there are a lot more cars on the road now. We need a break while roadworks (more tunnels, bridges, freeways etc.) catch up -- which won't happen overnight

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is breaking free from one of her predecessor's main policy stances by announcing she is not interested in a "big Australia".

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was in favour of population growth, with his government predicting it to hit around 36 million by 2050, largely through immigration. But Ms Gillard has indicated she will be putting the brakes on immigration in order to develop a more sustainable nation.

"Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population," she told Fairfax. "I don't support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a 36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia. "I support a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our busses, our trains and our services can sustain."

But Ms Gillard says that does not mean putting a stop to immigration all together. "I don't want business to be held back because they couldn't find the right workers," she said. "That's why skilled migration is so important. But also I don't want areas of Australia with 25 per cent youth unemployment because there are no jobs," she said.

Mr Rudd installed Tony Burke as the Minister for Population, but in one of her first moves as Prime Minister, Ms Gillard has changed his job description to Minister for Sustainable Population. Mr Burke will continue to develop a national population strategy which is due to be released next year. Ms Gillard says the change sends a clear message about the new direction the Government is taking.

But an urban planning group is trying to convince Ms Gillard of the benefits of a big population. Urban Taskforce Australia chief executive Aaron Gadiel says a large population increases the tax base to fund improvements to infrastructure and welfare services. "We shouldn't be trying to fight it, what we should be trying to do is ensuring that we've got the investment and infrastructure that makes that process easier to manage," he said. "I think people should be focussing on how much state, federal and local governments have been investing in urban infrastructure to help absorb population growth."

A survey earlier in the year by the Lowy Institute found that almost three-quarters of Australians want to see the country's population grow, but not by too much. The Lowy Institute surveyed more than 1,000 people and found that while there was support for increased immigration, Australians were not quite prepared to embrace the Government's predicted 36 million. The poll showed 72 per cent of people supported a rise in Australia's population, but 69 per cent wanted it to remain below 30 million people.


Another political redhead is doing well

Pauline, Julia and now Marise

She's a 45-year-old Senator dating the youngest member of Parliament - but don't call her a cougar. Liberal senator Marise Payne says she is proud of her partner, Stuart Ayres, 29, for winning the state seat of Penrith with a record 25.5 per cent swing away from Labor. "It's just us. It's not an issue, it's who we are," Ms Payne said rolling her eyes, when asked about the cougar tag.

"I have worked in politics for a long time, I am used to the joys and the lesser moments," she said.

The couple, who have been dating for three years, worked together on his campaign to secure a Liberal stronghold in Western Sydney. The Penrith by-election was forced by the resignation of disgraced Labor MP Karyn Paluzzano, who admitted lying to ICAC over misusing staff entitlements.

"One of the first things I learned about Marise is she is a hard worker," Mr Ayres said. "I actually had no idea how old she was, it's never been an issue for me. "I saw her at a politics function and wanted to talk to her. I muscled up the courage, wandered across the room and that's how it started out."

And although there is no talk of marriage the couple live together at Leonay and are building a property in Mulgoa. "We are really looking forward to building our property but when the by-election came up we had to hit the pause button. Now we are very excited, I can't wait to get into taps and tiles and floors," Ms Payne said.

It took an accident in her early 20s to change Ms Payne's priorities and spark her interest in politics. "When you break your neck and recover you realise life is too short. I pursued my passion - politics," Ms Payne said.

Ms Payne trained as a lawyer at the University of NSW before going on to serve as a political adviser to the Liberal Party and has served in the Senate since 1997.


Court punishes the victim while the aggressor waltzes away

A grandmother taken to hospital after being assaulted by her son-in-law has been banned from seeing her grandchildren because a family court thinks she needs counselling. The woman, who cannot be named, has been limited to sporadic, 20-minute visits with the young boy and girl for the past 18 months despite reports showing how much the children adore her.

"The girl spent every opportunity possible hugging her grandmother," a social worker's report said. "There is little doubt the children were overjoyed to see her." The young boy and girl lived with their grandmother for years until an altercation where the grandmother was injured after being rammed by a truck driven by the children's father. He pleaded to assault charges and paid a fine.

The grandmother wasn't arrested, but said she felt she was held responsible because she was labelled as the instigator. The woman has a chance to see her grandchildren again, but only if she gets counselling. The son-in-law continues to have custody of the children, who have attended seven schools while in his care.

Documents show the children were performing better at school when they were living with their grandmother. A woman who has known the grandmother for 30 years said she was "a very caring person who has been badly done by".

The social worker's report showed the granddaughter was forced to control her weeping because her grandmother was under scrutiny during visits. "She told her grandmother she loved her and the grandmother reciprocated, and repeated the same words of affection," the report said.

The grandmother plans to attend the counselling to regain access to the children. "They lived with me day in and day out for years," she said. "There is nothing wrong with me. What's happened to me is what's wrong."


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