Saturday, November 06, 2010

Gillard between a rock and a hard place

This week's US election has delivered another arrow deep into Labor's political heart with Obama, in words sure to wound, abandoning any emissions trading scheme for many years. Read his words because they will cut into Australia's political debate. "Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the political cat," he said. "It was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. And I'm going to be looking at other means to address this problem."

Shadow climate minister Greg Hunt said: "The President has announced that cap-and-trade is now dead, buried and cremated in the US. If she [Gillard] won't listen to Coalition plans for direct action, perhaps she might listen to the US. President Obama will now examine direct action models, just as has been put forward by the Coalition here in Australia."

Yet Gillard has pledged to a carbon price as proof of her economic reform credentials. That means an Australian price without any US congress-approved price. It is almost certainly an impossible call. Tony Abbott will renew his campaign with fresh and simple ammunition: "If Obama says no, than Australia should say no." Understand the magnitude of Gillard's dilemma: she must press ahead or fall away.

Pressing ahead will accentuate the lift in electricity prices and falling away will confirm Labor as a party in a systemic crisis over belief and commitment. The risk, again, is that the Greens and Abbott will look strong while Labor twists in the wind as its support declines.

Could there be any worse situation? Yes. It lies in the explosive outlook building in this country over boatpeople. This protracted crisis is far advanced without any sign of policy resolution. The Canberra-induced trap is to think this issue is settling down. That misses the mood on the ground and the shift in policy.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said last month the refugee approval rate for claims from Afghans is at 50 per cent, down from well above 90 per cent. That is, on Australia's own assessment, only one in two Afghans arriving is a refugee. The others, pending appeals, have no right to be here. "I think that's an important message," Bowen said in a classic understatement. It penetrates to the central issue: that Australia's approval rates have been too generous, that the restrictive language of the 1951 Refugee Convention needs to be upheld and that Australia must deny asylum-seeker arrivals any migration self-selection outcome.

The progressive mantra is about to unravel. This is because the flow of boats is increasing, fewer boatpeople are refugees, it is extremely hard to deport non-refugees, new detention centres are having to be established on the mainland and numbers are such - totalling 5800 this year - that with family reunion included boat arrivals now affect Australia's overall population intake profile.

Far from Canberra, community meetings at Northam in WA and Inverbrackie in South Australia, showed on-the-ground alarm about new detention facilities.

Abbott led the Coalition team. He punished Labor, saying people were "understandably outraged" when governments lost control of the borders.

Bowen says Labor has a plan to stop the boats. It is the regional framework including the proposed East Timor processing centre that Gillard pushed this week in Indonesia and Malaysia. Neither country is persuaded. Both will keep talking.

As a new Prime Minister, Gillard has tied her prestige in the region to this initiative. It will end in Gillard's humiliation or in a regional solution of improbable benefit to checking the boats to this country. The reality is Gillard cannot tolerate the status quo on the boats. Ongoing arrivals reveal Labor's failure to deliver border security, a legitimate expectation of the Australian public since nationhood.

Labor always looks better when the parliament sits. Its tactical skills expose Coalition flaws and divisions and the media duly follows. But such tactics are not enough to save Gillard Labor.

Arising from the resources boom, the finance sector, federal-state relations, climate change and boat arrivals, it is besieged by policy challenges that demand far-reaching and convincing responses that, so far, seem beyond Labor's political character.


Asylum-seekers are not criminals Australia's Immigration Minister tells angry residents

In that case, why does the government jail them?

Chris Bowen has rejected claims people campaigning against detention centres being built in their communities are racists. But the Immigration Minister insists asylum-seekers are safe and unlikely to escape detention and break the law.

Mr Bowen is trying to hose down community concerns after a meeting in Northam, about 100km northeast of Perth, on Thursday night in which the Department of Immigration and the local council answered questions from angry residents about the plan to house 1500 asylum-seekers in the community.

West Australian Labor senator Glenn Sterle was invited to the meeting but left when he was denied a chance to address the nearly 700-strong audience by the meeting's facilitator, former state Labor MP Gavan Troy.

Many residents raised concerns about the detention centre's impact on Northam's already strained and understaffed hospital and the contingency plans in place if there were a riot.

Senator Sterle condemned the constant "heckling and throwing of racist statements" for drowning out what were some genuine concerns about the centre. Mr Bowen said he believed in freedom of speech and people should be able to raise views.

The meeting was dominated by people voicing intense hostility to the detention centre and to asylum-seekers, with some labelling them "criminals" who could escape and attack local women.

Mr Bowen said there had been very few escapes from detention centres. "I'm not aware of any evidence that people who do escape from detention centres on very rare occasions undertake criminal acts," he said. "All the evidence shows that people while their claims are being processed conduct themselves in a perfectly appropriate way."

Liberal Premier Colin Barnett called on the Gillard government to halve the number of male asylum-seekers planned for the Northam detention centre, saying he understood the "great anxiety" expressed by furious locals. But he said T-shirts with "Bomb their boats" written on them worn by two residents at the meeting were inappropriate. He said it showed the issue needed to be handled carefully and there should have been proper prior consultation.

Northam resident Chris David yesterday claimed the meeting had been hijacked by a vocal minority bent on fearmongering. Another resident, Nigel Sutton, said he was shocked when he heard One Nation state deputy president Lyn Vickery tell the meeting asylum-seekers would "slit your throat".


A sad day for independence

Trust the authoritarian instincts of Gillard's Leftist government to attach such onerous conditions to help for a small community

Two centuries after Fletcher Christian rebelled against the King's authority in the form of Captain Bligh on HMS Bounty, his descendants have given in to economic desperation and agreed to be ruled by a foreign power.

In a surprise announcement that shocked other Norfolk Island MPs, the Australian territory's Chief Minister, David Buffett, has told the island's parliament his impoverished administration will give up its fiercely held self-government in exchange for a financial bail-out from Canberra, The Australian reports.

The move will mean the 1800 permanent residents of Norfolk Island will probably have to pay Australian income tax, and lose some of the power to run their own affairs.

Some of the island's long-held unique laws, such as not requiring the wearing of seat belts, will be overturned.

Many islanders yesterday described Mr Buffett's acquiescence as a disgraceful sell-out of the independent values they have held since the 1789 mutiny on the Bounty, the years hiding from British authority on Pitcairn Island and their resettlement as a fully self-governing territory on Norfolk in 1856.

The Norfolk Island telephone book is still dominated by the names Adams, Christian, Nobbs, Quintal and Buffett, descendants of the English mutineers and the Tahitian women they brought with them to Pitcairn.

Ron Nobbs, a retired agriculture officer and former chief minister, yesterday told The Australian he thought the grab for Canberra cash was misguided, presenting the danger that "everyone will be thinking they can go on the dole and people can be sitting around drinking." He blamed unwise big-ticket expenditure by the Norfolk government, such as extending the airport's runway, as being the cause of the cash crunch.

He said the absence of income tax had encouraged doctors, teachers and other professionals to live and work on the remote Pacific island.


Another charming Muslim "refugee"

With their usual attitude to women

A magistrate has refused to sentence a self-confessed paedophile, saying his crime was so serious it must be dealt with in a higher court. Sayed Mohammed Sidaqat, 34, has pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault.

On July 17, he boarded an Outer Harbor train at Ethelton and squashed the girl before caressing her hand and placing it on his erect penis. Previously, prosecutors told the court the girl felt "extremely scared and powerless" as Sidaqat kissed her neck and touched her.

They said the assault occurred just one month after Sidaqat - a Afghani refugee - was granted a visa on "humanitarian grounds".

Today, Magistrate Joseph Baldino refused to deal with Sidaqat - because state law prevented him from giving the paedophile a harsh enough sentence. "As a magistrate I have limitations - the maximum sentence I can impose is one of two years, and the maximum sentence for this offence is eight years," he said.

"Even allowing for a discount for a guilty plea, I am of the opinion that - given the nature and gravity of this offending - a sentence of imprisonment in excess of two years is warranted. "Therefore, I am referring this matter to the District Court for sentencing."

He noted submissions, made by Sidaqat's counsel, that their client had been tortured by the Taliban and continued to suffer from mental health issues. Those issues, he said, reinforced his decision to move the matter to the District Court.


Bungling education bureaucracy in NSW again

No wonder they are so prone to secrecy. But this goof was impossible to hide

If the teachers who wrote questions for the HSC were being marked, they would be headed for a fail. This week's chemistry exam is the third to be marred by claims of mistakes.

HSC chemistry text book author Dr Geoffrey Thickett said higher performing students would have been the worst affected of the more than 10,500 students who sat the exam on Wednesday. In one question, students were led to believe that the wrong gas would be produced in a chemical reaction from which they were asked to calculate a volume.

Another gas, ethylene, was referred to in other parts of the paper by its lesser known name of ethene, potentially confusing students. Dr Thickett said using different names for the one gas "indicates poor proof-reading of the exam".

An old term for alcohols was used despite the newer term being used in the past three HSC chemistry papers. Another question on combustion concepts also contained a mistake and relied on what Dr Thickett called a "myth". "I am concerned a paper could come out with so many errors in it," he said yesterday.

Last month a mistake was picked up in the business studies paper after the multiple choice answer section was incorrectly listed a, c, b, d. The towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were confused in the ancient history paper.

A NSW Board of Studies spokeswoman said that the chemistry paper would be examined. She claimed only university level students would be able to identify the issues. "The board will bring in additional science experts to examine claims of error in yesterday's HSC chemistry paper," a spokeswoman said.

"An initial reaction from the board's science inspector and chemistry chief examiner is the criticisms mostly relate to concepts that only appear in university level study rather than senior secondary."

The use of ethylene and ethene would be "brought to the supervisor of marking's attention".

"The chief examiner and supervisor of marking will be closely monitoring responses to see if any adjustments need to be made to the marking guidelines," she said. "All students will be rewarded for the quality of their answer."


Family slams 'disgusting' public hospital treatment

Although it has a church connection, St. Vincent's is a public hospital

An elderly patient was left in blood-soaked, vomit-stained clothing for two days at St Vincent's Hospital after being admitted last week, according to a family member, who today labelled his treatment "disgusting".

Ron Kenyon, 79, was taken to St Vincent's with head injuries after falling down steps in Geelong on Thursday last week. His stepdaughter, Lisa Llewellyn, said Mr Kenyon was rushed from Geelong Hospital after suffering "a brain bleed and also an external bleed and a number of other injuries" from the fall.

But when Ms Llewellyn and her brother, who both live in Sydney, visited Mr Kenyon on Saturday they were shocked to find him still dressed in filthy clothing. "We drove in that delightful weather you had on Saturday up to St Vincent's (from Geelong). We thought the weather was bad. When we actually reached the hospital and saw the condition that my stepfather was in it became a hell of a lot worse," she told 3AW.

"His trousers had been changed, but he was in the same shirt he had collapsed in ... two-and-half days later. It was blood-soaked. It was vomit-stained. They hadn't bothered to change it."

Ms Llewellyn said when the foul state of the man's clothing was raised with staff "they had two excuses". "One being they didn't want to disturb him. The second being 'We find it easier to do the treatment when he is wearing a gown.' I thought, 'Well, he's currently wearing a shirt. Where's the gown?"'

Compounding the family's concerns was the failure of hospital staff to wash Mr Kenyon, to change the dressings on his wounds and to detect a "pretty bad chest infection," Ms Llewellyn said. "It wasn't until we pointed out that, you know, you could hear the chest rattle at the end of the hallway that they eventually did an X-ray and put him on some antibiotics," she said. "... My mother pointed out yet again that he is prone to chest infections, that he'd just recovered from pneumonia. He was in the throes of a pretty damn serious chest infection."

Ms Llewellyn said the family had lodged a formal complaint with hospital administration.

St Vincent's chief executive officer Professor Patricia O'Rourke issued a statement today saying the hospital was investigating the allegations "as a matter of urgency". "We regret that we have not met the expectations of the family," she said. "Any identified shortcomings in our systems, processes and communication will be addressed immediately. We will provide a response to Mr Kenyon's family by close of business today."


Green mirage is killing our future

Comment by Andrew Bolt

When we will wake up? We’re destroying our future by chasing a green mirage:
South Korea and Taiwan are managing to produce cheaper power than Australia, even though they have to ship the Australian coal that fires their furnaces.

In self-sufficient Australia, households are paying one-third more for electricity than those in Taiwan and South Korea - two of the biggest buyers of Australian coal. Residential power prices in Australia have surged 12.4 per cent in the past year, four times the rate of inflation…

Industrialists yesterday declared that Australia’s surging power prices could rob the manufacturing and mining sectors of their competitive edge…

The Energy Users Association of Australia yesterday claimed power prices were on track to double within five years and triple within a decade as utilities spent billions of dollars on infrastructure, and the federal government forced them to source one-fifth of their supplies from renewable energy by 2020…

Industry analyst Ben Freund, the chief executive of energy price comparison website GoSwitch, ... said Australia had not built any new coal-fired power stations for two decades, despite surging demand from a growing population fond of power-hungry air-conditioning, clothes dryers and flat-screen TVs…

“If demand is increasing, we should just be producing more of it; supply should meet demand as it does for any other commodity and we shouldn’t be seeing these sorts of skyrocketing prices.”

Way to go. We’re pricing ourselves out of the market in part by demanding much more expensive ”green power” - a largely token gesture - and frightening off investment in coal-fired power by threatening an emissions trading system.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Selling out their craft to the global warming cause

Andrew Bolt

Should journalists report the views of global warming sceptics - even just for balance?

A panel of “top” journalists and journalism academics, as chosen by the University of Technology Sydney’s far Left Centre of “Independent Journalism” and broadcast by the ABC, agree that on the whole the answer is ... no, or rarely. (Listen at the link.)

Naturally, in accord with their commitment to debate, not one person on the panel is a sceptic, or challenges this group think.
The ABC’s Sarah Clarke says she prefers to rely on material given the “all clear” by the IPCC, and praises the ABC and Fairfax papers for having been two “responsible” outlets that have been “objective” on global warming.

Monash University’s Philip Chubb says the debate “doesn’t need to go outside the halls of climate change”.

Warmist academic Anne Henderson-Sellers, who says she sets her students the homework of watching the propagandist An Inconvenient Truth and The Age of Stupid to inform themselves, demands to know why journalists didn’t describe Lord Monckton as a “fruitcake” so her hairdresser wouldn’t be so impressed. Chubb calls him a “clown”.

No one panellist, because of this lack of debate, raises one of the more obvious questions. For instance:

- Where on earth is the evidence that media outlets have given an equal hearing to sceptics? For instance, which sceptical scientist here has got equal media time to Tim Flannery? Which sceptical film maker has received the air time of Al Gore? Which media outlets have backed a sceptical propaganda event as they have Earth Hour? Which media outlets have run sceptical specials as they’ve run specials warning of apocalyptic warning? Where is the sceptic on this very panel?

- How would these journalists justify treating as the “truth”, not to be questioned by outsiders, of statements by the IPCC since proved to be false or highly questionable? Are they to be treated as true until the IPCC admits they are not? Are outsiders who point out their error to be ignored unless the IPCC gives the “all clear” to report them?

- How can journalists justify suppressing a debate when even the leading warmist authority, the IPCC, says the chances of its theories of man-made warming being correct are ”at least a 9 out of ten” - which suggests there’s perhaps a 10 per cent chance they are wrong? Does this mean the media cannot even report the IPCC scientists who doubt? And how can mere journalists justify ignoring the views of sceptics as learned and prominent in their field as, say, Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT? Would these journalists have refused to report the views of Galileo? Of that mere assistant patent examiner Einstein?

- Why does the astonishingly certain and peremptory Henderson-Sellers praise An Inconvenient Truth, and use it as a teaching aide, yet demand the media not report the sceptics who have proved that it is in fact riddled with errors and exaggerations? Why must a warmist as untrained and prone to exaggerate as Al Gore be spared scrutiny?

- How broadly should this restriction on reporting sceptics be applied? Should it also include not reporting them when they point out failed predictions? The vested interests , sheer nuttiness, religious fervor, totalitarian tendency or extraordinary hypocrisy of some warmists? The threat to freedom of some “solutions” the warmists proposed? The extraordinary futility and economic cost of Australia taking the lead on emissions trading, or adopting grand schemes for ”green energy”? Examples of mere alarmism? After all, these are subjects which surely may be discussed intelligently even by those “outside the halls of climate change”.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

1 comment:

Paul said...

"The meeting was dominated by people voicing intense hostility to the detention centre and to asylum-seekers, with some labelling them "criminals" who could escape and attack local women."

Obviously these people have been to Melbourne.