Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bloated and useless water bureaucracy in Qld.

Typical Leftist plundering of the good old taxpayer

WATER bosses are pocketing $100,000 salary increases as Queenslanders are hit with soaring utility bills. Bosses at the state water bodies have been criticised over their "excessive" pay rises while consumers are being gouged every time they turn on a tap.

The best rain in a decade has ended the drought and filled the state's dams, but critics say the State Government reforms aimed at securing future water supplies have created a bureaucratic monster with a financial appetite to match. Now households are paying the price, with water bill increases of up to $300 a year to pay for the army of new water administrators.

Four separate State Government agencies, three council-owned retailers and a Government department are now involved in water delivery. Annual reports reveal the vast cost of the agencies, with executive salaries one of the biggest expenses.

"They were supposed to build a water grid, but instead Labor has built its very own millionaire's row by paying these excessive salaries and perks," Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said. "Southeast Queenslanders are paying for it through massive increases in their water bills."

SEQ Water Grid Manager chief executive Barry Dennien, who oversees water flows and projects, has been a big winner, with a pay increase of about $120,000 to a whopping $460,000 a year. A Government spokesman said the rise came when Mr Dennien was promoted from "acting CEO" to "CEO".

Seqwater chief executive Peter Borrows, responsible for providing bulk water from dams and weirs, received a rise of about $80,000 - including a performance bonus to a total of almost $500,000 a year.

LinkWater, responsible for the pipe network that transports water, has concealed the salary of chief executive Peter McManamon in consecutive annual reports by using a broad salary range. But a Government spokesman said the package was close to $400,000, a rise of up to $100,000.

WaterSecure chief executive Keith Davies, responsible for recycling and desalination, earns a massive $540,000. Mr Davies' generous salary comes despite WaterSecure struggling to find industries to take up expensive recycled water, and ongoing problems with the Gold Coast desalination plant. Premier Anna Bligh retreated on a plan to add recycled water to the region's drinking supply, and millions of litres are being flushed down the Brisbane River.

The Water Commission, set up in the worst days of drought, appointed new chief executive Karen Waldman in May. A Government spokesman said Ms Waldman was on $230,000 a year. The commission, which critics want disbanded now that dams are overflowing, has reduced costs but has an annual $1.1 million executive salaries bill.

Taxpayers are also funding hefty pay rises for numerous other executives in the various bodies, and generous remuneration for board members.

The Government's spokesman said: "Salaries paid to executives are competitive with those paid in similar roles interstate and overseas".

However the Local Government Association blasted the new water grid network for forcing up costs. "The architecture is not ideal and certainly costs a lot of money," said executive director Greg Hallam.

The bosses of southeast Queensland's three new council-owned water retailers responsible for water billing - Unitywater's Jon Black, Allconnex Water boss Kim Wood and Queensland Urban Utilities chief executive Noel Faulkner - are also on lucrative salaries.

Gold Coast-based Allconnex's annual report indicates Mr Wood, who took up his post in January, is paid about $350,000. Other retailers are yet to release their annual reports, but are certain to be on a similar scale and sources say the real figure could be closer to $400,000. Allconnex managers were treating salary details with such secrecy that when The Sunday Mail found their annual report on their website it was immediately pulled down.

In a worrying sign about the accountability of the new retailers, all declined to comment on salaries and have refused to provide any details about the number of households struggling to pay bills.


Plenty of money for bureaucracy but too bad about public safety

Typical Leftist priorities

Just one cyclone shelter has been built since the State Government promised four years ago to provide safe havens in every community from Cooktown to Bundaberg.

With Queensland facing the worst cyclone season in 40 years, The Sunday Mail can reveal that only Innisfail will have a shelter to house evacuees during a Category 5 storm.

Opposition emergency services spokesman Ted Malone said the cyclone shelters were proving to be another "hollow promise" by the Government.

"It seems nothing has been done since (former premier) Peter Beattie stood amongst the devastation at Innisfail in 2006 and promised to deliver a major facility in every community between Cooktown and Bundaberg that could withstand a Category 5 cyclone," Mr Malone said.

The finished shelter at Innisfail State College, which doubles as a performing arts centre, was opened by Premier Anna Bligh in February, almost four years after Category 4 Cyclone Larry hit north Queensland. It is built to withstand Category 5 wind gusts over 280km/h.

The Queensland Home Building Code mandates that houses and buildings built after 1982 meet cyclonic wind standards up to Category 4.

A list provided by the Department of Public Works shows a further three locations earmarked as public cyclone shelters are still being completed or stuck in the planning stages:

* Kowanyama Multi-purpose Sport and Recreation Centre nearing completion.

* The new Community Events Centre in Cooktown still in the planning stages.

* Redlynch State College near Cairns work under way to reinforce the hall.

The revelation comes as Queensland prepares for the start of cyclone season on November 1.

Bureau of Meteorology regional director Jim Davidson last week warned Cabinet that six cyclones and monsoonal rain were likely to lash the Queensland coast during the cyclone season - a prediction not seen since the 1970s.

After Cyclone Larry, the most severe cyclone to strike the state in a century, former premier Peter Beattie promised to build cyclone shelters in every major community along the Queensland coast.

On August 22, 2006, Mr Beattie said Labor would equip communities from Bundaberg to the Torres Strait, and on western Cape York Peninsula, with shelters able to withstand winds of up to 306km/h.


Druggie abortionist infects 41 women with the druggies' disease

Why was a known druggie allowed to continue in practice?

STATE Health Minister Daniel Andrews has backed his chief health officer over waiting six months to screen more than 1000 patients exposed to a doctor suspected of spreading hepatitis C.

Dr John Carnie revealed on Saturday that the health department had expanded screening to three more clinics as police raided five Melbourne properties, including the Hawthorn home of anaesthetist James Latham Peters.

The broadened screening comes more than six months after a hepatitis C cluster was discovered among patients at Croydon Day Surgery - now called Marie Stopes Maroondah. Forty-one patients at the abortion clinic are suspected of contracting the same strain of hepatitis C as Dr Peters. The affected women were exposed to Dr Peters between January 2008 and December 2009.

Mr Andrews said Dr Carnie was appropriately exercising an "abundance of caution" in moving to screen patients at Dr Peters' former workplaces. He said there were no known cases of hepatitis C at any of the three clinics but could not rule out the possibility other patients had been infected.

"There's no suggestion that anybody that's been treated at those three clinics is hep C positive but in order to be absolutely certain ... he is extending that look back into those three clinics. I think that's an entirely appropriate thing for him to do," Mr Andrews told reporters today.

He said it was appropriate that early investigation focused on known, high risk cases before moving to precautionary screening. "I fully support the approach that the chief health officer has taken. He has dealt appropriately where he has known there is a high risk. "He is now appropriately moving to provide support and reassurance where there is a much, much lower risk ... in order to be safe rather than sorry."

The department has tested more than 3000 patients treated between 2006 and 2009 at the Croydon Day Surgery and is still tracing a further 300 women. Staff are now trying to contact another 1066 female and male patients at three other clinics.

They include 900 patients who attended Fertility Control in East Melbourne between January 2008 and November 2009, 150 from St Albans Endoscopy who were treated between February and September 2008, and 16 who attended the Western Day Surgery in Sunshine in March 2008. No charges have been laid over the infections.

The case is unprecedented in Victoria, presenting challenges for police working out if and how to lay charges related to spreading a disease and for the Department of Health in working out how many patients are affected. Detective Sen-Sgt Paul Robotham said the police were looking for evidence on how the outbreak occurred.

It remains unclear why police waited until yesterday to raid the Croydon clinic. "It's just the nature of the investigation and the appropriate time to conduct those searches," Det Sen-Sgt Robotham said. "I'm not going to make any comment either way as to why it's done now. It's just a tactical decision that it was done today."

Articles including a computer were seized from the Hawthorn home of Dr Peters. Dr Peters reportedly had a history of illicitly injecting himself with painkillers, a conviction for forging prescriptions for pethidine and a charge of possessing child pornography.

"This whole thing has been extremely distressing for the patients concerned, the other doctors concerned, the clinics and the department," Dr Carnie said.


Another slack NSW hospital

Baby was given to the wrong mother. Careful attention to baby ID is routine -- but not in NSW, apparently

A HOSPITAL has apologised to a mother after giving her baby to the wrong woman for breastfeeding.

Newborn Hunter-Joe Harris has undergone emergency tests for HIV, hepatitis and other infections after being handed to the wrong woman for a 4am feed.

Last night Hawkesbury Hospital admitted the mistake, saying the baby was feeding from the wrong mother for about 20 seconds before midwives realised. The hospital has conducted health tests on the woman and has assured Hunter-Joe's mother, Danielle, that they came back clear. The Harris family will have to wait five months for tests on Hunter-Joe to come back. In the meantime, the month-old baby is at home and seemingly in good health.

Ms Harris wants a written apology, saying she felt "sick and angry" when she found out about the mix-up.

"The nurses said: 'Oh it's funny how there's two Hunters in the hospital.' And she [the other mother] turned around and said: 'My baby's name's not Hunter,"' Ms Harris told Channel Nine. "If she didn't say that, he could have fed for the whole half an hour and [gone] to sleep next to her."

David Maher, the general manager of Hawkesbury District Health Service, said "human error" was to blame and that staff had been counselled on proper procedures. He said no one would be sacked as a result of the incident but that identification systems would be reviewed. "This is something that is not designed to occur, it was an error. There are systems in place for checking identifications of babies … but something has gone wrong in this case," Mr Maher said. He spoke to the Harris family last week and offered the hospital's apologies.

The Harris family is not alone. Babies were handed to the wrong mother for feeding on at least 26 occasions between 2006 and 2009, government figures show. In most cases, overworked staff failing to check identification tags were to blame.

In one case a newborn had to have its stomach pumped after being given month-old breast milk from a woman who was not the child's mother. At Blacktown Hospital a baby was given unnecessary medication because of incorrect identification tags.

After a spate of mix-ups, midwifery expert Robyn Thompson said the psychological trauma to women could be devastating.


Pressures forcing teachers to quit Queensland schools

"Behaviour-management issues" is code for lack of discipline

CLASSROOM sizes and behaviour-management issues are driving teachers out of the workforce. Almost three quarters of Queensland teachers say it is difficult to retain staff because morale is so low.

Teachers and parents are compensating for a lack of government funds by working longer hours and fundraising for school essentials, the State of our Schools survey by the Australian Education Union released exclusively to The Sunday Mail reveals.

Last year, parents and teachers dug deep raising $15 million through fetes, uniform sales and voluntary contributions, with funds going towards classroom essentials and new facilities. More than 60 per cent of Queensland respondents said this fundraising was "very important" in keeping the school running, with most of the money going to fund classroom equipment, library resources and sporting goods.

Other results include 44 per cent of Queensland teachers saying student outcomes would improve with smaller class sizes, 18 per cent calling for more support for students with disabilities and behaviour-management issues and 68 per cent saying reduced workloads and help with troubled kids would ease the pressure.

AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said while teachers and principals were "the glue that held schools together", the public deserved better. "Ultimately our public schools are great schools and doing a great job by international comparisons," Mr Gavrielatos said. "But what we need to do is put in place resources to ensure the needs of every child can be met."

The survey was released to coincide with the union's national campaign launch around the Review of Funding for Schooling. The union is calling for more equity between the amount of funding given to government and private schools, saying two thirds of federal government funding goes to private schools, which educate just one third of students.

But Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson said while this claim was strictly correct, it was misleading because government schools received 96 per cent of their funding from the states. He said he welcomed the review which was the first analysis of funding in 35 years.

Currently funding for non-government schools is calculated using the SES model (socio-economic status). This measures the income profile of students' parents through cross-matching postcode and census data. "It's a transparent funding model . . . the Government says these non-government schools whose parents can afford it, should receive less," Mr Robertson said.


Protests in Australian towns over plans to hold illegals there

Many of the illegals are fundamentalist Muslims from Afghanistan and fundamentalist Muslims deliberately killed a lot of Australians in Bali. Certainly not ideal neighbours

SENIOR government ministers have warned against public hysteria following an angry backlash against plans to move asylum-seekers.

Immigration officials were jeered as they tried to reassure residents at a public meeting in the Adelaide Hills that having the asylum-seekers in their communities would be a positive and rewarding experience.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson warned against public hysteria over the government's plan to build centres in the two states to handle rising numbers of boat arrivals. "Let's not start this sort of hysteria that they're somehow horrible, dangerous people," he said. "These are people who will be assessed using the normal checks that were put in place many, many years ago."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen assured residents that resources would not be stripped from local communities, and extra resources for the centres would be provided by the government.

Residents of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills reacted angrily to plans to house up to 400 asylum-seekers on the nearby Inverbrackie defence estate.

At a meeting on Thursday night, many said they were concerned schools could be overwhelmed and crime could rise.

The Coalition leapt on the issue, vowing to push for a parliamentary inquiry to examine the plans for the centres.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the government had created a "rolling detention crisis".

"There are just so many people now that they're trying to accommodate, that the community of Inverbrackie, without any consultation, without any forewarning, has had this forced upon them.

"I'm just amazed that the government is surprised that there would be some reaction from the community when they haven't even been talked to." Mr Bowen "should front up to the community and answer the questions", Mr Morrison said. "He shouldn't be shielding himself behind Immigration officials who too often have to do the dirty work of this government."

Mr Morrison's comments drew criticism from Liberal Bruce Baird, an outspoken critic of John Howard's hard line on immigration, who held the seat of Cook before him. "They're creating myths and scaremongering, and I think that's unfortunate," Mr Baird said. "They're very vulnerable people."

Mr Baird, who is chairman of the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council, said there was no reason for residents to be concerned. "When we released children and their families in 2005 there was concern that they would abscond and cause problems in the community, and neither of that happened. . . . They would probably be model citizens."

Mr Bowen said health services for asylum-seekers would be provided on-site. "Any additional teaching resources required will be paid for by the commonwealth, as they always are."

Mr Bowen said the residents' concerns about pressure on health facilities and schools were understandable and it was appropriate that the government respond to them. "We are working closely with the Department of Education and schools to ensure that families are accommodated at this centre with no adverse impact on local communities."

The Department of Immigration and service provider Serco would bring in medical experts to the Inverbrackie facility to care for detainees, he said. "There will be no impact on local facilities."

Federal Liberal MP Jamie Briggs wants to introduce a private member's bill establishing a parliamentary inquiry to hear the residents' views.

Mr Morrison said people were rightly upset. "These are not refugees who have been settled into the community, who have had their asylum claims proved. They are people who are maybe there for six months, three months."


1 comment:

Paul said...

You've got to wonder how so many could be infected with HepC by this guy. The only way to do so that I can see would be if he was injecting himself and then injecting them with the dirty needle which he would know by his training would result in cross-infection. Which begs the obvious question....deliberate act?