Friday, August 20, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks the "psychic" crocodile prediction of a Gillard victory is a crock

'Muslim witness must remove burqa' - says judge

A PERTH judge has ordered that a Muslim woman must remove a full burqa while giving evidence before a jury in a fraud case. Judge Shauna Deane today ruled that the witness must remove her niqab, or burqa face covering, when she gives evidence to the jury.

The judge said she did not consider it appropriate that the witness give evidence with her face covered. However she stressed she was not making a decision which was making a legal precedent, it was simply her ruling in these circumstances.

Earlier a defence lawyer had argued that the Muslim woman should remove her burqa to give evidence in the fraud trial, just as she would have to appear without the covering in an Islamic court.

But District Court Judge Shauna Deane rejected the argument as not relevant, as the matter is not being heard in an Islamic court.

The judge heard lawyers' submissions on whether a 36-year-old Muslim woman should be allowed to wear a full burqa, also called a niqab, while giving evidence in a fraud trial.

The woman, an Islamic studies teacher, is due to give evidence for the prosecution in the fraud trial of a Muslim college director, Anwar Sayed.

In court, defence lawyer Mark Trowell, QC, said the woman's wish to wear the burqa was a "preference she has". "It's not an essential part of the Islamic faith. If she was in an Islamic court she would be required to remove it," he said. Judge Deane replied: "This isn't an Islamic court."

Defence lawyers raised concerns about how the jury could be expected to read the woman's facial expressions if they could not see her face.

Prosecutor Mark Ritter, SC, told the court the woman wanted to give evidence but would feel uncomfortable without the burqa and that could affect her evidence. "It goes beyond stress . . . it would have a negative impact," Mr Ritter said. He said the woman, who has lived in Australia for seven years, had worn the burqa since the age of 17 and went without it only before her family and male blood relatives.


The collapse of school discipline again

Parents threaten legal action to remove primary school 'bully'

PARENTS of a six-year-old boy may take legal action to remove an alleged bully who has been tormenting their son in class.

Taner, a pupil at Roxburgh Homestead school, in Melbourne, has allegedly been kicked, punched, ridiculed and verbally abused by a classmate for several months.

But Taner's parents, Sue and Cane, yesterday accused the school of failing to protect him even though staff had admitted the perpetrator was "fixated" on their son and a psychologist had recommended he be moved.

Sue, who asked that the family's surname not be published, said Taner had become so distressed by the bullying that he was admitted to hospital after vomiting and complaining of stomach cramps and breathing problems. "He said, 'Mum, I can't go to school. Every time I go he's just going to hit me and hurt me all the time'," she said. "He's been kicking him in the legs, punching him in the arms. He's having nightmares, he's extremely distraught."

Taner, who is being kept at home, said the attacks made him sad and he hadn't learnt much this year. "He hits me every school day. I say, 'Stop it, I don't like it', I give him one warning and then a second or last warning and then he hits me," he said.

Sue said the Roxburgh Park school had promised to deal with the issue, but the attacks had continued. It is believed the alleged bully has autism.

Taner's parents want the other boy removed from the class, but so far the school has offered only to transfer Taner. A child psychologist has recommended that Taner remain in his class, but an Education Department student wellbeing officer has told the parents the alleged bully will not be moved.

When told that the parents were considering legal action, the officer allegedly said: "I'll see you in court." It is believed this has been disputed.

Cane said the school had admitted the alleged bully's fixation on his son, but the family felt let down by the school and the department. "We are the victims but we are being made to feel like we're the guilty party," he said.

Roxburgh Homestead principal Barb Adam said the school had been dealing with the issue and wanted to continue talking with both families to resolve it. "There have been mechanisms that have been put in place to support both students," she said. "We're really confident we can resolve this issue but because it appears to have become a legal matter it would be inappropriate for the school to comment further."

The department confirmed it was investigating the matter. "We're working with both families to resolve the issue," a spokesman said. "No bullying is tolerated in our schools." [Except when it is!]

Parents Victoria spokeswoman Elaine Crowle said there was rarely a win-win situation in these matters. "The child and the parents deserve to feel supported by the school and we would always encourage parents to try and have it handled by the school," she said.


Australia now ruled by elites

AUSTRALIA'S first Parliament had a tinsmith, a carpenter, a cabinet maker, a butcher, a market gardener, and no less than two hatmakers sitting on its benches. Between them they could have built parliament, furnished it, tended its lawns and clad its inhabitants in the latest fashions.

Fast forward 110 years and 97 per cent of today's federal parliamentarians come straight from careers as "managers, administrators or professionals", figures from the Parliamentary Library show. The remainder include a motivational speaker (Pat Farmer, LP), an AFL coach (Damian Hale, ALP), two real-estate agents (Michael Keenan, LP and Judi Moylan, LP) and a military officer (Mike Kelly, ALP). There is not a single tradesperson among them.

A separate Herald analysis comparing politicians' past careers against the occupations of the wider workforce reveals a yawning gap between today's politicians and the people they represent.

Although nearly all of today's federal politicians come straight from a managerial, administrative or professional job, just 48 per cent of the wider Australian workforce hold such positions, according to the Bureau of Statistic's 2006 census.

The remaining half of the workforce include tradespeople and technicians (14.4 per cent), labourers (10.5), salespeople (9.8), community workers (8.8) and machinery operators and drivers (6.6).

Not one of the 226 members in the recently dissolved Parliament came directly from one of these occupations. (However, some members may have performed such jobs earlier in life because the library's figures only count the position held immediately before entering Parliament.)

According to the library, nearly a quarter of members came from a position in business - as executives, managers or self employed. The second most common path after that was through a union or party position (19 per cent of members). Barristers, solicitors and other types of lawyers made up a further 12 per cent of Parliament, despite representing just 0.8 per cent of the wider workforce.

Although Australia's Parliament has always been heavy with business professionals and lawyers, the increase in the number of politicians coming from party or union positions is startling. Just seven members of the 1901 Parliament were former union officials.

Today, 43 per cent of parliamentarians come directly from political jobs - including political consultants, advisers and lobbyists, members of state legislatures, party or union employees and electorate staff. Two-thirds of ALP members come via that route, and this probably understates the numbers who held such positions previously.

In 1981, at the end of the Fraser era, just 15 per cent of all members came to Parliament directly from political posts. The last Fraser Parliament contained six tradesmen, eight teachers, six medical practitioners, two pharmacists and a policeman.

Ian McAllister, a professor of political science at the Australian National University, said: "What we have seen in Australia is the rise of the career politician, where people are involved in politics at university and then they go work in a politician's office and then go into parliament."

Although Australia has never had a government that truly mirrored society, it had become even less representative over the past half-century. "In particular in the Labor Party, you have seen a collapse in people coming from working-class backgrounds over the past 50 years - it just doesn't happen any more, or it is very rare," Professor McAllister said. "In terms of representing the interests of the people within their electorate, you might say it would be better if they came from a background which better represented the people."

He said the rise of career politicians was a global phenomenon, but more pronounced in Australia because of the power of political parties to pick their candidates. Above-the-line voting in the Senate, in particular, meant parties more or less decided which candidates were elected. "The Senate was designed to be the state's house and it was designed to be non-partisan and in fact its more partisan than the lower house."


Bullied nurse wins appeal for compensation

Bullying of medical staff by bureaucrats is all too common

A NURSE who claimed she was bullied by Gold Coast Hospital management has won an appeal for workers compensation for a psychological injury.

Mudgeeraba LNP MP Ros Bates yesterday told State Parliament a culture of bullying and intimidation remained rife in Queensland Health and unreasonable management practices had injured nurse Susan Dale.

Although Ms Dale's initial claim for compensation with WorkCover Queensland was rejected, Q-Comp this week set aside that decision and ruled she had sustained a personal injury due to her employment.

Ms Dale had claimed the manner in which two meetings with management were conducted over complaints made against her earlier this year had contributed to the onset of her psychological condition.

Review Officer Marisha Mees found hospital management had acted unreasonably by calling a meeting to address complaints against Ms Dale and including a manager she felt did not like her as well as calling a second meeting without giving her time to have a support person present.

In a statement, Ms Dale said she was relieved there had been a positive outcome for her professionally. "My case is only the tip of the iceberg on the bullying that takes place at the Gold Coast Hospital from senior staff," she said.

Ms Bates said the decision was a damning indictment of the endemic culture of bullying and intimation that remains a part of Queensland Health.

Health Minister Paul Lucas said one complaint of bullying was one too many but Queensland Health was a large organisation and everyone needed to understand the appropriate way in which to deal with their fellow staff members.


1 comment:

Paul said...

At risk of sympathizing with QH (?), it has become extremely difficult (at least among nursing staff) to deal with serious underperformance issues because a knee-jerk response now is to accuse the manager of bullying or some kind of discrimination when such a nurse gets called on their performance and/or conduct (usually both). Managers on the floor in specialty areas are often lumped with staff members who are mentally ill, drug addicted, or just plain bizzarre and are expected to "performance manage" them, often to the detriment of the safe running of their departments because QH is so loath to risk legal battles and be seen as the Bad Guy. If someone lacks the insight to see that their performance is well below par, the paper trail involved in getting them moved out of an area is both overwhelming and intimidating, and there is now an ever-present risk of a threat of grievance/legal action (even as bluff). Inept nurses rarely survived to third year under the old Hospital based training system, but now they are barely supervised by the Unis right up to graduation, and more than ever are emerging with a fundemantal inability to do their job, and a corresponding inability to even recognize this. I have, and still am, witenssing some doozies of the kind I never saw ten - fifteen years ago, schizphrenics, bipolars, smackheads or just complete fools with personality issues etc., and they just keep coming.

Sorry but for me this is a "need to vent" issue.