Sunday, August 29, 2010

Australians still support the monarchy

To the dismay of the arrogant Leftist intelligentsia. Not mentioned anywhere below is the result of Australia's referendum on the subject in 1999. In defiance of all the talking heads, 55% voted for the Monarchy. Even many people of non-British origin voted for it. In my home State of Queensland nearly two thirds voted for the Monarchy: An aptly named State (actually named after Queen Victoria)

Public support for a republic has slumped to a 16-year low with more Australians in favour of retaining the monarchy for now.

A Sun-Herald/Nielsen poll conducted two weeks before the federal election showed that - when asked straight out if Australia should become a republic - 48 per cent of the 1400 respondents were opposed to constitutional change (a rise of 8 per cent since 2008) while 44 per cent said we should change (a drop of 8 per cent since 2008). But when asked which of the following statements best described their view:

- 31 per cent said Australia should never become a republic.

- 29 per cent said Australia should become a republic as soon as possible.

- 34 per cent said Australia should become a republic only after Queen Elizabeth II's reign ends.

Backing for a republic is at its lowest since 1994 - five years before Australia had a referendum on the topic.

Nielsen pollster John Stirton said yesterday that, despite the slump, there was a sense of inevitability Australia would one day become a republic with a large number backing Prime Minister Julia Gillard's stance that the issue should be closely considered after a change of monarchy.

"These results suggest Australians will be more likely to support a republic when Queen Elizabeth II is no longer on the throne," he said.

Our top politicians are divided over the republic issue. During the election campaign Ms Gillard echoed the sentiments of her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, who said a republic was not a first-term priority and would only be considered after a monarch change. Ms Gillard said a Labor government would work towards an agreement on the type of republic model - a sticking point in the 1999 defeat of the referendum.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott - an open monarchist along with his mentor and former leader John Howard - said Australians had shown little desire for change. He would not seek to put the republic question to a vote under a Coalition government.

"The Australian people have demonstrated themselves to be remarkably attached to institutions that work," he said. "I think that our existing constitutional arrangements have worked well in the past. I see no reason whatsoever why they can't continue to work well in the future.


Vast area to be locked away from development in Queensland

The pretext is to protect farmland but there is no threat to farmland. It is just the usual Greenie hatred of development

MORE than 70,000sq km of Queensland could be subject to new legislation that would lock away areas from housing, mining and even forestry, according to business. Land from the NSW border to Cairns and west to central Queensland will be investigated under a plan aimed at identifying and protecting important cropping areas.

One industry source said the area under review was about as big as Ireland and "enough land to have its own flag and compete in the Olympics".

The State Government's draft policy includes restricting the controversial underground coal gasification on strategic cropping land, adding another hurdle for trials under way in Kingaroy and other food-producing parts of the state.

It would mean a paddock-by-paddock assessment that will delay resource development, cost millions and cause companies to question whether it is worthwhile, according to the Queensland Resources Council.

And the resources minister will be given "arbitrary" powers to grant approval to developments, even on important cropping land, raising concerns about the impact of vested interests.

Urban Development Institute Australia chief executive Brian Stewart said the policy could add to the cost of housing. "Uncertainty adds risk and risk adds to the cost," Mr Stewart said.

QRC chief executive Michael Roche said mining projects will need to be assessed to see whether they sit on the best of the best cropping land or not. "The maps put a question mark over projects, many of which have already spent tens of millions of dollars," he said.

A company at the centre of the issue, Ambre Energy, yesterday rejected suggestions its $3.5 billion coal-to-liquids project at Felton was not put in doubt by the new policy, but said an assessment would have to be made.

The Friends of Felton farming group said the policy was a step in the right direction. FOF president Rob McCreath said he hoped the policy meant the end to Ambre's scheme. "We can't see any way the development could possibly be allowed in the Felton Valley," he said.

He said the most crucial issue from the policy paper was that coal-seam gas mining would still be allowed on good cropping land and could potentially affect it by depleting water.


Government continues to allow dangerous doctor to harm patients

A BABY boy could be left with brain damage after a WA obstetrician's bungled attempt to use forceps during his delivery.

The Sunday Times revealed earlier this month that the doctor, who has a history of medical negligence, was involved in the botched birth at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco in late January.

The baby's parents plan to take legal action against the obstetrician.

It comes as other patients, left with injuries or ongoing complications as a result of mistakes made by the doctor, called for him to be banned. Among the parents' allegations:

* The baby spent more than four weeks in intensive care because of incorrect use of forceps.

* He had scratches to his face that required plastic surgery.

* There are fears he may be brain damaged after a heavy loss of blood.

* The doctor dropped the forceps several times during the delivery.

* The parents were not told of the obstetrician's disciplinary record.

SJGH banned the obstetrician from working at the site shortly after the incident, though he was still able to work at other hospitals.

It was one of many disciplinary actions taken against the doctor during his career.

In 2008, the State Administrative Tribunal found the obstetrician had conducted surgery on several patients - including removing their ovaries - without providing them with adequate advice.

The tribunal determined he could continue to practise medicine, but would not be allowed to perform hysterectomies and had to undergo further training.

Three weeks ago, The Sunday Times revealed, despite the January incident and his past misdemeanours, the obstetrician was allowed to continue to practise medicine in WA.

He was one of 51 doctors considered so dangerous they were allowed to practise only under strict conditions.

Several days after the newspaper report, the doctor was given an interim 30 days suspension by the WA Medical Board. The board is now preparing a new case against the doctor.

Past patients this week called for him to be banned for life.

Leanne Bramwell, of Cannington, said she was left permanently incontinent after a botched hysterectomy in May 2006. The 40-year-old was awarded compensation after litigation with the doctor's insurance company. "My life will never be the same. No amount of compensation makes up for it," she said.

Ms Bramwell said she wanted to create a support group for victims. Health Consumers Council chief executive Michele Kosky confirmed yesterday that several patients had contacted the organisation in recent years to receive advice about making a complaint against the obstetrician.

Among them was a 62-year-old patient who suffered complications after undergoing gynaecological surgery.

Yesterday the patient said she needed an excessive amount of recovery time after the operation and was now booked in for remedial surgery to fix the complications.


Food fanaticism hits charity fundraising in South Australia

There's no proven harm in any of the stuff banned and people will get it elsewhere if they want it anyway

THEY'VE been a staple of hospital waiting rooms and reception desks for decades, but charity fundraiser chocolates, mints and lollies will be banned from all SA Health buildings under a crackdown on "unhealthy" food.

Butter, pies, pasties, sausages, bacon, soft drinks and even cordial are among more than 20 food items on a "red" list which will also be banned at department events, meetings and functions under the new state food policy which becomes mandatory on October 1.

Workers will even have to seek permission from department executives if they want to serve alcohol such as sparkling wine and fried food such as spring rolls at their staff Christmas party.

Already boxes of charity chocolates and Lion Mints have been removed from counters at the Royal Adelaide and Women's and Children's Hospitals.

However, while the sale of confectionery to raise money for good causes will be banned, chocolates and lollies will still be able to be sold at hospital and office cafeterias and in vending machines, as long as they make up only 20 per cent of the food on display.

SA Health's 30,000 staff were sent an email about the policy last week by chief executive Dr Tony Sherbon, who wrote: "Healthy eating is important for healthy lifestyle, which is why SA Health is making healthy food and drink choices easier in the workplace through the Healthy Food and Drink Choices for Staff and Visitors in SA Health Facilities policy."

The email stated "RED (unhealthy) category food or drinks should not be provided" at functions, meetings, events or even in "social club fridges".

The new policy also bans staff and charities from holding fundraiser sausage sizzles or lamington drives at SA Health sites, instead recommending staff seek sponsorship for "climbing stairs", playing hacky sack or having their head shaved.

Nurses, doctors, unions and charities have lined up to oppose the policy, describing the bans as "heavy-handed" and a "ridiculous" waste of money.

Service organisation Lions Club, which has raised funds through the sale of its trademark mints for more than 30 years, said the banning of its fundraiser boxes "was of course disappointing". National executive officer Rob Oerlemans said the organisation was looking into the impact the ban would have on fundraising at its national board meeting in Sydney today. "We will just have to abide by these regulations, but the money we raise from these sales fund things like research into child cancer, spinal injury and diabetes prevention," Mr Oerlemans said.

Elaine Farmer, general manager of Surf Life Saving South Australia, which relies on funds raised through annual chocolate drives, was also disappointed by the ban. "It's getting tougher and tougher out there to raise money and every door that is closed on us just makes it worse," she said. "We have quite a few clubs that have chocolate runs for five to six weeks every year, which raises thousands of dollars, and it's very disappointing to now be banned from public hospitals and health departments."

Australian Medical Association state president Dr Andrew Lavender labelled the banning of foods "patronising and ridiculous". "There is no such thing as bad foods, it's all about how you use them, and this arbitrary banning is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut," Dr Lavender said. "This policy is a waste of resources. It's a nanny state approach and it would be much better putting that time and money into education programs."

Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars also described the policy as heavy handed. "It is getting to the point people are not sure if they can bring a chocolate cake to work to celebrate someone's birthday," she said. "It seems extraordinary that people will have this type of control placed on them in the workplace.


NSW: The State of corruption

The police, the ambulance service and now the fire brigade

THE corruption watchdog is expected to next month announce public hearings into widespread fraud, rorting and corruption within the NSW Fire Brigades. The Sunday Telegraph understands the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been compiling an extensive dossier of evidence through secret investigations for the past 18 months.

Few ranks of the NSWFB are to escape the spotlight on the rot, which allegedly extended up to the level of assistant commissioner.

The NSWFB has established an executive crisis team to manage the fallout over the misuse and abuse of public funds and entitlements.

The investigation follows a tumultuous year for the NSWFB in which The Sunday Telegraph exposed a hidden culture of bastardisation and ritualistic abuse from the 1970s and 1980s. Seven former and serving firefighters have been charged with indecent assault and an additional 56 matters of assault, abuse and bullying were reported to police.

In this new investigation, a deluge of whistleblowers have reported to ICAC allegations of credit card and petty cash rorting, double-dipping and travel allowance fraud.

Among the divisions to face intense scrutiny are the rescue section at Greenacre, the State Training College at Alexandria and the travelling Firefighter Championships.

Some stations have also been reported to ICAC for rostering fraud, allegedly involved highly organised collusion which has allowed individuals to pocket bonuses they fraudulently attained. Other officers are accused of falsifying statutory declarations in order to obtain leave while they worked elsewhere.

The hearings are expected to explore allegations NSWFB employees used brigades' facilities and equipment to run their own private training business and pocketed cash for hiring out NSWFB equipment such as a bobcat.

One section clocked up $25,000 in petty cash spending in one year. but after ICAC investigators began asking questions, that section's petty cash bill plunged to $5000. Others have been accused of selling raffle tickets to the public and buying beer with the proceeds.

The NSW Firefighter Championships are expected to receive particular scrutiny over allegations senior officers and executives stayed in luxury hotels, and on a single night charged $9000 for alcohol to their taxpayer-funded account.

The misuse of frequent flyers, a secret donations account and kickbacks from travel agents are other allegations related to the championships that have been reported to the ICAC.

The ICAC was expected to report on its investigations in March and the delay has given rise to speculation that fraud and rorting were more endemic than first believed. "I think the reason why it's taking so long is because every time they lift a rock there's more underneath it," a NSWFB insider said.

The probe has created a divided brigade, with deep mistrust over who is a whistleblower and who is a rorter. "There is widespread corruption and it's still going on. People aren't being held accountable," one insider said.

The result of a separate investigation referred to ICAC last year that senior officers covered up a ritualistic and sexualised assault and told the victim to keep quiet is not known.

The Department of Public Prosecutions is yet to make a decision about whether to pursue ICAC's recommendation in December 2008 of criminal charges against several people over fake and fraudulent station upgrade contracts worth $2 million.


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