Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Police misbehaviour

As most regular readers here will know, police misbehaviour in Queensland is so great that I have created a dedicated blog to keep track of it. And it gets frequent updates.

Such a lot of news about police misbehaviour in other States -- particularly NSW and Victoria -- has been coming in, however, that I have created a new blog to keep track of police misbehaviour Australia-wide. See Australian Police News. There are THREE updates there just today.

Federal Government to take over Australia's public health system

This is the British disaster all over again. Leftists never learn. Tony Blair DOUBLED the amount BritGov spent on the NHS but it is still chaotic with widespread denial of services and waiting list blowouts. Most of the extra money went on more bureaucracy -- as it will undoubtedly do here

THE federal government will introduce legislation to parliament this week that aims to reform the nation's health system, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says. For the first time, the commonwealth will take majority funding responsibility - 60 per cent - for public hospitals and full responsibility for primary care.

The share of commonwealth funding had dropped to as low as 38 per cent during the Howard government years, Ms Gillard said. "Australia's health system has suffered from inadequate funding arrangements and unclear accountability for too long," she told reporters in Canberra.

The new funding arrangements would ensure that federal governments properly funded Australia's public hospitals, Ms Gillard said. The commonwealth would fund hospitals for each service they provided, rather than through block grants. Doing so would meet increases in demand and help take pressure off hospital waiting lists.

New national standards for public hospital services are to be introduced, ensuring all patients receive timely and high quality services. "The legislation reflects the historic agreement to reform Australia's health and hospital system signed by the commonwealth and seven states and territories," Ms Gillard said.

The West Australia Liberal government has yet to sign up to the deal. Ms Gillard said she spoke with WA Premier Colin Barnett last week. "We are prepared to continue the conversation in good faith," she said.

Under the agreement, the commonwealth will relieve the states and territories of $15.6 billion in growth of health costs from 2014/15 to 2019/20, allowing them to invest in other essential services.

In return, the states and territories have agreed to hand over up to a third of their GST revenue. "The efficient pricing arrangements will mean that Australia gets value for money from our health dollars to deliver services as effectively and efficiently as possible," Ms Gillard said.

The prime minister called on the opposition to support the legislation through parliament.

Obstruction would only exacerbate funding squabbles between different levels of government, leading to longer waiting times in emergency departments and further elective surgery delays, Ms Gillard said.

Ms Gillard said she would be talking with crossbenchers on Monday about support for the legislation. But she was also quick to turn the pressure back on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. "First and foremost we need an answer from Mr Abbott about whether or not he will support these reforms."

Health Minister Nicola Roxon, standing alongside the prime minister, said the plan was to deliver a long-term "cure" to hospitals across the country. "The doctors and the nurses and the other clinicians in each local hospital will have more say about the problems that need to be fixed, the investments that need to be made."


Gillard defends economic rationality against populism

Good to hear that from ANY PM. The term "Hansonism" is snide however. Pauline Hanson was primarily against racial preferences

JULIA Gillard has warned of the emergence of "a strain of economic Hansonism" linked to economic populism. The Prime Minister has appealed to industry to help her protect "the post-1983 reform consensus".

Accusing the Coalition and sections of her own Labor Party of backsliding on economic liberalisation, Ms Gillard told a business dinner in Canberra last night she would be "loudly heard" promoting reform, which would sit "at the centre" of all of her government's decisions.

Ms Gillard's comments were designed to skewer recent Coalition discussion of intervention in the banking sector and repudiate a push from unions and the NSW Labor government to renege on a deal to reduce costs for businesses by harmonising workplace law across the nation.

"The reform consensus is now under serious threat," Ms Gillard told the Australian Industry Group dinner. "If a strain of economic Hansonism takes hold on the conservative side of politics in a parliament which is so finely balanced, our long-term prosperity is at real risk. Leaders must lead, and my voice will be loudly heard."

The interventionist political mood was reflected yesterday as several opposition frontbenchers used a shadow cabinet meeting to express reservations about the proposed takeover of the Australian Securities Exchange by the Singapore Exchange. "We'll be keen to hear how this could possibly enhance our position as a regional financial centre," opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey told The Australian later. Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter described the takeover as lunacy, likening it to "selling the arbitration commission".

Since ousting Kevin Rudd from the Labor leadership in June, Ms Gillard has pressed hard to shrug off her Left-faction background and underline her commitment to economic reform.

Her task has become more complicated since her post-election deal to govern in minority with the support of the Greens, who advocate trade and economic and trade policies to the Left of Labor.

Two weeks ago, Ms Gillard told the Queensland Media Club she would pursue tax and superannuation reform as well as development of infrastructure and skills and the application of market-based reforms to areas such as health, education, climate change and water. Last night, she hardened her rhetoric, warning that she would fight the "rising voices against reform" within the community and major political parties.

"I never thought in the 21st century I would hear a shadow finance minister debate the need to allow our dollar to float," the Prime Minister said. "I never thought that in the 21st century I would hear a shadow treasurer debate the need to allow a competitive market for interest rates."

Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb and Mr Hockey said last night Ms Gillard's attack was "pathetic".

They issued a statement saying that telling blatant lies about political opponents was no substitute for taking hard reform decisions and engaging in a mature debate. "Sadly, we have an economically illiterate Prime Minister, who resorts to diversions to deflect from her government's appalling record of waste and mismanagement," they said.

Ms Gillard, referring to NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's attempt to renege on the workplace safety law harmonisation deal sealed last year at the Council of Australian Governments, said: "Equally, I never thought I would hear a NSW premier deny that a deal is a deal and a signature means you agree.

"And I never thought, following a legislated reform direction, I would hear a NSW opposition leader threaten a reform of a river that belongs to the nation," she said, referring to plans to reduce water use in the Murray-Darling Basin to protect the environment.

Ms Gillard described reform as "a seamless robe" that could not be divided to suit sectional interest. "I can guarantee we will not unilaterally withdraw from the post-1983 reform consensus."

Ms Gillard appealed to business leaders for backing, saying industry had a stake in reform. She also said it was vital the nation move to put a price on carbon as quickly as possible.

She said increases in electricity prices were caused by historical under-investment in the sector and it was important to deliver certainty to prevent a continuation of under-investment and a fresh outbreak of the problem in a decade. "That is one reason why I am so committed to deliver a carbon price," she said. "Obviously, the fundamental motivation for our carbon price policy is pollution reduction. However, the industry consequences are then immediate. Delaying a carbon price makes the eventual adjustment sharper and more costly."

She also warned that the absence of a carbon price could force power companies to make "stop-gap" investments in technologies such as open-cycle gas turbines to meet immediate increases in demand, rather than making long-term investment decisions. And revenue from putting a price on carbon could be used to deliver transition support to householders. "No such revenue is available to assist with the costs of the current price rises around the country' - nor for future rises from an ongoing investment strike."


Censorship the real sleeper in the Labor government's $43bn fibre network chaos

THE political row over the future of the federal government's $43 billion National Broadband Network has been dominated by the cost issue.

Responding to calls, particularly from The Australian, for more financial accountability from what is the biggest and most expensive infrastructure project in the country's history, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has attacked suggestions that consumers may have to pay thousands of dollars to have their homes rewired to gain maximum advantage from NBN's high-speed fibre cable.

Neither Conroy nor the head of the government-owned NBN Co, Mike Quigley, who has also pooh-poohed these claims, will say what the extent and cost of rewiring will be. But this debate over cost is masking the sleeper in this project: the degree of control this government-owned monopoly will be able to exercise on the flow of information into the homes of all Australians.

After all, if things go according to plan, NBN Co will be Australia's communications gatekeeper, owned and driven by a government that favours internet censorship.

The consequences of this in a democracy raise potentially disturbing issues affecting the free flow of information that go well beyond dollars and cents. In effect, the NBN rollout gives the government the ability to determine what content is suitable for delivery into the home -- a situation not dissimilar from that which operates in China.

In the face of mounting hostility as the government headed towards August's federal election, Conroy announced he was deferring the introduction of a mandatory internet filtering regime pending a review of refused classification guidelines.

This took some of the heat out of this issue that has seen the government criticised by the US administration and Google, which has been involved in its own battles with the Chinese government over internet censorship. Earlier this year, the Obama administration said the Rudd government's plans to introduce the internet filter ran contrary to official US foreign policy that encouraged an open internet.

Conroy has built his case for mandatory internet filtering on the need to stamp out child sexual abuse material. But Google has argued the scope of the proposed filter goes far beyond this and could be used to block access to important online information.

While Conroy's review into the filter regime brought a supporting response from internet service providers, and even Google, there is no indication he has lost his enthusiasm for this form of censorship.

Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the election, the government also announced it would extend NBN's high-speed fibre-optic broadband cable to an additional 300,000 homes. If successful, this would mean 93 per cent of homes would be connected exclusively to the NBN communications pipe. Initially, the government had stated that the NBN cable would be connected to 90 per cent of homes with the remainder being serviced by a mixture of wireless and satellite delivery.

Under this revised rollout, announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, satellite will account for 3 per cent of the new high-speed broadband connection, with the balance being delivered by wireless services. These will provide "fixed", not mobile, services designed to be used in and around the home.

And in another pre-election move, Labor deferred the start-up date requiring all new premises to be "fibre ready" from July 1 this year to January 1 next year.

This legislation, which is yet to pass through the Senate, makes it an offence to install copper cabling in future and provides hefty penalties for tradesmen or body corporates by-passing the fibre optic cable in favour of copper. And under a yet-to-be-approved $11bn deal, Telstra will migrate its copper and cable broadband networks into the NBN fibre backbone. It is anticipated Optus and Foxtel will also transfer their services to the NBN.

In Tasmania, where the NBN national cable rollout is in its embryonic stages, the state Labor government has responded to a lukewarm take-up rate by deciding homes and businesses will automatically be connected to the network unless they opt out.

The decision by the Rudd government last year to dramatically up the ante for the NBN project from a $4.7bn fibre-to-the-node scheme to a $43bn rollout going directly into the home requires connection to be effectively mandatory in order to find some way to justify the massive cost.

Even though NBN will be restricted to being a wholesale information carrier, it will assume enormous power in the distribution of data and voice services, particularly as the copper network is decommissioned.


Female health worker 'bullied' after rape claim

QUEENSLAND Health staff have been accused of bullying a female worker after she complained to police about being raped by a colleague. A 33-year-old doctor was charged last month with the alleged sexual assault of a staffer and provided bail at a hearing at the Southport Magistrates Court on the condition he have no contact with the Queensland Health employee or other witnesses.

The Sunday Mail understands the alleged victim has since made an official grievance and a Workcover Claim, where she accuses Queensland Health of failing to provide her with a proper return-to-work plan and being more concerned about adverse publicity from the incident. The worker alleged Queensland Health should have allowed her temporary secondment or to be stood down with full pay but instead continued to bully her under a performance improvement plan.

Queensland Health has responded by strongly denying the claims and defended its handling of the incident by arguing it occurred outside the workplace and was subject to a police investigation "with an unresolved outcome".

Queensland Nurses Union representatives have been involved in negotiations between both parties and concluded the start of the performance plan was premature and did not follow policy.

Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates, a registered nurse, said the latest incident added to several complaints made to her office by Gold Coast Queensland Health employees about bullying in the workplace.

She told State Parliament the performance management policy was being used to humiliate, punish and belittle an employee so Queensland Health could avoid addressing a serious issue. "Queensland Health's treatment of this employee is nothing short of negligent when the hierarchy has known of this assault allegation for three months and done nothing," Ms Bates said.

Ms Bates said the initial request by the employee to take on less stressful duties was rejected and she was advised to "hurry up and get over it".

In a letter written on behalf of the employee, Ms Bates last month asked the Crime and Misconduct Commission to investigate what she called serious allegations of misconduct by Queensland Health. A CMC spokesman said the complaint had been assessed and judged not to amount to official misconduct.

A Queensland Health spokesman said the performance management system was one of several staff support processes which allowed employees to seek feedback and guidance from managers. "Queensland Health strives to provide a supportive workplace for its staff," the spokesman said. [That'a laugh!]


Labor support in the bush dries up as anger over water wastage proposals runs deep: Newspoll

Under Greenie influence, Gillard wants to let dammed water run out to sea rather than give it to farmers for use in irrigation

ANGER about the Gillard government's handling of proposed cuts in water use appears to have helped the Coalition overtake Labor in the latest Newspoll.

The weekend survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian, found the opposition ahead of Labor for the first time since before the August 21 election, by a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent in two-party-preferred terms.

The increase followed two dead-even results in previous post-election Newspolls. On election day, Labor won 50.1 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote to the Coalition's 49.9 per cent.

Although the poll shows only small movements in the primary vote since the previous survey, which was taken between October 8 and 10, Newspoll chief executive Martin O'Shannessy said last night that Labor had suffered a six-point plunge in primary support outside cities.

He linked the decline to the release of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's draft recommendation of large cuts in water usage, which have sparked angry protests in rural areas in the past fortnight.

"A deeper analysis of this poll shows a potential backlash against the Murray-Darling plan," Mr O'Shannassy said. "Comparisons between this Newspoll and the one of two weeks ago show a collapse of the Labor vote outside the five main capital cities. " Regional and country voters have punished Labor with a primary vote fall of just over six points to 31 per cent, down from 37 per cent just two weeks ago."

The Newspoll was based on 1150 interviews and the results include a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

It found Labor's primary vote was on 33 per cent - down two percentage points from the October 8-10 survey and five points down from election day. The Coalition was on 43 per cent in primary terms - down from 43.6 per cent on election day - with the Greens on 14 per cent.

An AC Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers published yesterday delivered almost identical results, with the Greens on 14 per cent - up two points. The Sydney Morning Herald reported this as an indication that Labor was continuing to lose support to the Greens.

However, the Newspoll - conducted more frequently than the Nielsen survey - has recorded support for the Greens steady at 14 per cent since the September 10-12 survey - up from 11.8 per cent recorded at the election.

Mr O'Shannessy said the fact that Greens support had not changed while Labor's had fallen indicated Labor's real losses were to the Coalition in rural and regional Australia. The Newspoll also identified a four-percentage-point reduction in voter satisfaction with Julia Gillard's performance, to 44 per cent, and a corresponding four-point increase in the dissatisfaction rate.

Voter satisfaction with Tony Abbott climbed two points to 41 per cent, while dissatisfaction with the Opposition Leader fell a point to 46 per cent, with 13 per cent uncommitted.

Ms Gillard remained favoured prime minister by a rate of 53 per cent to 32 per cent, with 15 per cent expressing no preference.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Queensland Health strives to provide a supportive workplace for its staff," the spokesman said.

Heh Heh. They're so funny.