Thursday, August 26, 2010

Were Australian troops in Afghanistan forced to cut and run?

Due to a lack of backup

THE former Australian chief of operations in Iraq has raised concerns about the gun battle that resulted yesterday in the Army's 21st combat death in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney - attached to the Mentoring Task Force - was killed in action yesterday in the Deh Rawud region west of Tarin Kowt during a three-hour battle with Taliban insurgents.

Major General Jim Molan, now retired, told The Australian several aspects of the fire-fight as described yesterday by the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, were of concern. "We can't tell from what the CDF said whether they were running out of ammunition or . . . backing off because quite literally you can run out of ammunition in 10 or 20 minutes in a serious firefight," he said.

He also queried why there appeared to be no rapid reaction force acting in reserve to provide assistance to the beleaguered joint Australian-Afghan National Army foot patrol.

"In a logically-run war, if you bumped a large group of enemy such as this then you would try to defeat them. "It doesn't appear that we did that. We fought for three hours, fired cannon, dropped a missile, and then we left the battlefield," he said. "Now to me, that sounds a bit inconsequential."

In Oruzgan the Taliban were coming into contact with Australian-led Afghan troops and members of the 300-strong Special Forces Task Group, said Raspal Khosa from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.


Global cooling hits Australia

HUGE overnight snowfalls have delivered Victoria's best skiing conditions in years. Falls Creek had the biggest dumping, with 54cm of fresh snow recorded in the 24 hours to 6am. Mt Hotham had 46cm, Dinner Plain 30cm, Mt Buller 29cm and Lake Mountain 25cm. There was 10cm of new snow at Mt Baw Baw and Mt Buffalo.

Falls Creek resident Chris Hocking said 226cm of snow had fallen in the area so far this month, already higher than any August figure in at least a decade. "The volume of snow we have seen in August is just staggering,’’ Mr Hocking said. "I haven’t seen anything like this in so many years.’’

It's already been the wettest winter since 1996, with Melbourne's rainfall almost 10mm above average for the season. And if you've been cranking up the heater on a daily basis, it's probably because the mercury hasn't made it past 18C in Melbourne, forcing us to shiver through an average maximum of 14.6C.

Weather bureau senior forecaster Terry Ryan said there had been a return to the icy winters of more than a decade ago. "It's been a return to average temperatures, which we haven't had for a while," Mr Ryan said.

The wet weather had been great news for our dams, currently about 40.2 per cent and growing by 0.2 per cent a day, according to Mr Ryan. "There's no reason why we can't be up to 45 per cent by the end of spring, and there's an outside hope to touch 50 per cent," he said.

And, while the weather has kept most of us inside it has also been a boon for snow bunnies, with conditions among the best in several years. Falls Creek is leading the way and, with more snow expected overnight, it could break records.

Local resident Chris Hocking said last night the snowfall had been amazing. "It's already the best in six years, minimum," he said. "And it's likely to go into the 20-year margin before the end of the month."


Pakistani doctor at black settlement "too busy" to see little girl -- who then dies

THE grieving family of a four-year-old who died in the Doomadgee Hospital has developed such a "deep mistrust" of the health service they are reluctant to take their other children back there, an inquest has been told. The girl's mother, Regina Nero, who has a seven-month-old baby, Renae, wept yesterday as the state's Northern Coroner Kevin Priestly began an inquest into the pre-schooler's death on July 23 last year.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Helen Price, said the inquest would consider the medical cause of the child's death, the circumstances, and the quality of treatment. The child is being referred to as "little Gungaleeda girl" during the inquest out of respect for local Aboriginal culture, which forbids mention of a dead person's name.

Ms Price said Doomadgee Hospital records showed the little girl was taken there three times in the five days leading to her death, but was sent home without seeing a doctor. "I wasn't allowed to see the doctor," an emotional Ms Nero told the inquest, sitting in Doomadgee, yesterday. "They said the doctor was busy."

Ms Price said the child was finally admitted to the hospital in the early hours of the day she died, in distress and breathing rapidly.

The inquest was told the hospital's only doctor, Zulfikar Ali Hudda, diagnosed a respiratory tract infection and prescribed antibiotics. But 12 hours after her admission, she deteriorated rapidly.

Ms Price said Dr Hudda, who had only been working in the community for about a week when the death occurred, organised for Gungaleeda to be transported to Mount Isa for specialist care. However, she died before the Royal Flying Doctor Service could get there. "Unfortunately, little Gungaleeda girl's condition deteriorated. She vomited and went into cardiac arrest – all attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful," Ms Price said.

The court was told Dr Hudda unsuccessfully tried to perform a tracheotomy – an incision in the windpipe – to insert a tube to help the child breathe.

Barrister Frank Richard, for the family, told the inquest that events leading up to, and after, the little girl's death had since made them question seeking medical assistance for their other young children. He also said Ms Nero and the girl's grandmother, Katrina Walden, had been taken into the hospital's resuscitation room where the child lay dead, without being told she had died. Mr Richard said they were "inadequately prepared" for what they saw.

The inquest, which will move to Mount Isa today, will hear evidence the little girl had pneumonia when she died, as well as a rheumatic heart condition.

Mrs Walden told the inquest yesterday her granddaughter had a rapid heartbeat when she was taken to the hospital in the days before her death.

With the coroner's blessing, Doomadgee pastor Guy Douglas said a prayer in the town's courthouse before the start of the inquest, calling for peace and comfort for the family. "I feel that there's still a lot of hurt and a lot of anger," he said.


Fathers 'stereotyped' by Australian Child Support Agency

THE government watchdog responsible for overseeing child support payments has been unfairly focusing on parents who do not pay enough while ignoring those who are getting too much, the Commonwealth Ombudsman says.

In a report that might not be well received by some single mothers, the acting Ombudsman, Ron Brent, found that the Child Support Agency had at times been unduly influenced by stereotypes about fathers not meeting their obligations. He found that, as a result of this and other factors, the agency had "not been even-handed" in its role as an investigator.

Those required to make payments - usually fathers - were made the subject of rigorous investigations including their property holdings, tax minimisation arrangements and involvement in complex corporate structures.

The review found that on some occasions these investigations were intrusive and insensitive - assuming that fathers deliberately rather than accidentally mis-represented their ability to pay child support.

In a number of cases the financial records of a father's new partner were demanded without sufficient explanation as to why they were needed and what they would be used for.

At the same time there were "very few investigations" into those who received payments - usually mothers - to see whether they were getting too much.

"The CSA needs to change its case selection procedures, to be more even-handed in its approach to the two parties," Mr Brent said. "It is also important that investigations are carried out with sensitivity and without implying that all investigated parents are trying to avoid child support obligations. "I do not think that fathers have been victimised, but I can understand why they might have that impression."

While greater balance was needed, Mr Brent said it was right that more attention be paid to fathers because they were more likely to have complex financial arrangements where errors were more common.

He also said that up until recently, government policy had in fact encouraged the agency to focus on fathers rather than mothers.

Elspeth McInnes, a policy adviser to the National Council for Single Mothers and Their Children, said she did not believe the Child Support Agency applied a gender filter to its investigations. "I think the filter is the law," Dr McInnes said.


Australian students asked to plan lethal 'terror attack'

The teacher must be some sort of Leftist nut

Western Australia's Education Department chief has apologised after a high school teacher set students an assignment to plan a terrorist attack to kill innocent people.

The society and environment teacher at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School asked Year 10 students to pretend they were a terrorist planning a chemical or biological attack on "an unsuspecting Australian community". "Your goal is to kill the MOST innocent civilians in order to get your message across," the assignment read. The students had to explain their choice of victims and decide the best time and place to release their weapon.

The assignment was withdrawn and the teacher counselled following a complaint made to the school after one 15-year-old student refused to do it, saying she was horrified and disgusted.

Education Department Director-General Sharyn O'Neill on Wednesday said the teacher had exercised "poor judgement" and was remorseful. She said the teacher, who has been teaching for three years, was "well intentioned" and her heart was "in it for the kids".

Ms O'Neill said her "deepest sympathy" was with families of victims of terrorism who may have been offended by the assignment. "We are very sorry for the pain and discomfort that this situation has caused," she said. "Certainly no ill was meant by this assessment task. I'm incredibly disappointed with the assessment item that was set by the teacher. "I think it was inappropriate, it was insensitive and rightly, people are upset. "This is not what we expect of professional educators."

School principal Terry Martino said he had the assignment withdrawn as soon as he was aware of its content, and he had talked to the teacher. "This is one mistake by a hardworking, keen young teacher who is highly regarded by staff, students and community," he told the West Australian.

Education Minister Liz Constable said she was pleased Mr Martino acted quickly to ensure the assignment was withdrawn and the teacher was counselled. "It was certainly an inappropriate method of exploring the issue of conflict and had the potential to offend and disturb parents and impressionable students," she said. "Schools take the education and teaching of these issues very seriously but this must be done in an appropriate way."

State School Teachers Union president Anne Gisborne said Mr Martino had taken the "appropriate" action under the circumstances. "I don't know the motivation behind the program... in hindsight the teacher is probably wishing they hadn't done this." Ms Gisborne said the objectives of the assignment could have been achieved in a more sensitive manner.

The issue ran hot on talkback radio in Perth on Wednesday with one caller saying he had a son fighting in Afghanistan who he thought would not appreciate the assignment. Another caller told Fairfax Radio the teacher should be jailed for giving the students the assignment.


Can Victoria police do anything right?

They apologise for failing to protect children from known pedophiles. Once again it needs a newspaper to budge them into doing the right thing

VICTORIA Police has apologised over its failure to protect nearly 700 children who have been knowingly exposed to convicted sex offenders. This follows revelations in The Australian today that police failed to notify child protection authorities that children were coming into regular contact or living with hundreds of registered sex offenders.

Victoria Police says an audit has revealed that 667 children have been exposed to 376 offenders since 2005. In most of the cases, sex offenders had told police they were in contact with children, but police didn't notify child protection authorities, which is a mandatory obligation under state laws.

Assistant Commissioner Jeff Pope has admitted Victoria Police did not meet its basic child protection responsibilities. “Unfortunately what it means in this case is that on these occasions we haven't properly notified DHS and properly discharged our obligations to mandatorily report that children are at risk,”Mr Pope said today. “It won't happen again, and it's a very unfortunate oversight, and we're very sorry that it's occurred.”

The offenders included a parent or a parent's new partner or spouse, housemate or close friend.

The state Ombudsman's office announced it is investigating Victoria Police management of the sex registry and the Department of Human Services has formed a taskforce to review all of the cases.

Previous Ombudsman reports have criticised the government's management of child protection, which has been under fire following revelations DHS had placed children in the care of convicted sex offenders and failed to conduct criminal checks on prospective carers.

The police have confirmed three offences involved the same family, but no charges were laid because the offender had died.

Opposition community services spokeswoman Mary Wooldrige said the government must overhaul the child protection system. “The Ombudsman's already revealed children have been placed with sex offenders by John Brumby's government,” she said. “Now we find hundreds more children have been placed in harm's way by the most basic failures in the government's responsibilities. “We believe these situations need to be exposed in a comprehensive review of the system.”


Note that I have a special blog on Queensland cops, there is so much misbehaviour among them. And there's been plenty of posts lately. Two today.

1 comment:

Paul said...

A Pakistani doctor working in Doomadgee. Understanding all round I'm sure.

(Place is named DOOMadgee for a good reason)