Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Julia Gillard losing ground to Tony Abbott: Poll

JULIA Gillard is beginning to pay a personal price for Labor's continuing problems, with the number of voters dissatisfied with her performance as Prime Minister now equal to those who are satisfied. For the first time since she became Labor leader in June, Ms Gillard has a zero net satisfaction rating.

She has also dropped back to the lowest level of support on the question of preferred prime minister that she hit during her worst week of the election campaign.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, voter satisfaction with Ms Gillard dropped three points to 41 per cent and dissatisfaction rose four points to 41 per cent.

Meanwhile, support for Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister has risen slightly from 32 to 34 per cent, his highest rating in two months.

Personal support for the Opposition Leader has also improved, with his satisfaction rating rising three points to 44 per cent and dissatisfaction falling four points from 46 to 42 per cent.

The Coalition continues to hold the comfortable lead over the Labor government it has had since the election on both primary votes and a two-party-preferred basis.

The Coalition's primary vote was unchanged on 43 per cent from two weeks earlier, the same vote it had at the August election, and Labor's is up one point to 34 per cent, four percentage points below its primary vote in August.

While not statistically significant, the Greens' primary vote has dropped from 14 to 13 per cent - the lowest level since the election, when the Greens won a lower house seat for the first time at a general election.

On a two-party-preferred basis, using preference flows at the August election, the Coalition has kept its four-point lead over Labor, 52 to 48 per cent. At the election, the ALP had a two-party-preferred vote of 50.1 per cent compared with the Coalition's 49.9 per cent.

It is the first time the Coalition has held a four-point lead over Labor in successive Newspoll surveys since January 2006 when John Howard was prime minister.

Labor took a hit in the Newspoll survey two weeks ago in the wake of the release of the disastrous Murray-Darling Basin report, which appeared to turn off regional voters.

Labor's primary vote and its two-party-preferred vote are still languishing below the party's level of support in June, when Kevin Rudd was removed as prime minister and replaced with Ms Gillard.


Gillard still hot to trot on a carbon tax

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to put a price on carbon even if the United States scraps plans to address climate change.

The opposition has called for the federal government to renege on a carbon tax after US President Barack Obama was dealt a serious blow in the US mid-term elections last week.

A Republican majority in the US House of Representatives is likely to curtail the plans of President Obama, a Democrat, for a cap and trade system to curb emissions.

But Ms Gillard said Australia would persist with plans to put a price on carbon even if the US, the world's biggest economy, didn't.

"On climate change, President Obama is obviously defining the strategy for his country, in circumstances where the Congress has been difficult for President Obama to deliver his reform agenda on climate change, and post the mid-term elections, it is going to be increasingly difficult," she told the Nine Network.

"We are great friends and allies of America, but we are not an American State. We are our own country, we will determine our own strategy."

Ms Gillard said she looked forward to meeting President Obama at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Yokohama this week.


Health faddists who paid a big price for their fad

You have to be a real nut to think that cow's milk is bad for you -- unless you really are allergic to it

A BRISBANE mother who became dangerously ill after drinking Bonsoy milk has told how the product destroyed her life. Shannon Cotterill, 31, of Coopers Plains, is one of 155 Australians to join a class action against Bonsoy’s distributor Spiral Foods Pty Ltd.

Marketed as “the original and the best” soy milk, Bonsoy was recalled world-wide shortly before last Christmas after it was discovered that one glass contained seven times the safe dose of iodine.

Before the recall, scores of people developed thyroid problems after drinking the milk. A number of women also reported miscarriages or babies with abnormalities. Other symptoms included anxiety and irritability, heart attacks and hair loss.

Ms Cotterill drank Bonsoy for four years before giving birth to her daughter, Lucy, in December last year. Shortly after the baby was born, Ms Cotterill became very unwell with three hospital admissions including one for congestive heart failure. She suffered weight loss, severe muscle weakness and a heart rate of over 150bpm.

“I could not walk up stairs or hold Lucy, I had to give up breastfeeding,” she said. “We had to move back home with my mum and dad because I was too sick to look after Lucy or do anything around the house. “I’ve had to extend my maternity leave because I’m not well enough to return to work.”

Ms Cotterill’s daughter Lucy, now 11 months, has some lumps in her breast tissue, which doctors are monitoring and believe could also be linked to Bonsoy. “I put Lucy to bed every night, kiss her and tell her I love her and that I’ll see her in the morning, then I silently wish for her to not ever suffer because of this,” Ms Cotterill said.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn is handling the legal action.

Company principal Rod Hodgson said the scale of the problem was much bigger than originally thought. “Our clients are health-conscious people – they drank this milk to improve their health and they got sick – some critically ill,” he said. “Some have quit their jobs and lost their businesses because of their illnesses. Others live with on-going health problems and their lives have been devastated.”


Great shortage of male teachers

CHILDREN face going through school without ever having a male teacher because of falling numbers of men in primary schools. Male teacher numbers in Government primary schools have dropped below 20 per cent for the first time in a decade as classrooms become female-dominated.

Catholic primary schools across the state have even lower proportions of men, with only about 15 per cent of teachers from kindergarten to Year 6 being male.

Teacher of eight years Scott Carroll said there was a stigma attached to men who worked with children: "Primary teaching is traditionally associated with females - perceptions need to change."

Principal of Mary MacKillop Primary School at Penrith South, Anne Corrigan, said men brought different perspectives to a school. "I like guys in my school, role models are important," Ms Corrigan said.

Data released by the NSW Government shows classrooms in public primary schools have lost 609 male teachers since 2000. The decline showed an election commitment by state Labor seven years ago to "work to increase the number of male teachers, especially in primary schools" had failed. With just 4695 men in the public primary system, there are children who have never been taught by a man.

Parents have said that, because of the high level of single-parent families in many areas, it is important young children are taught by male as well as female teachers. Many principals agree, telling The Daily Telegraph it is critical that more men work in primary schools.

NSW education chiefs argue that gender is not the most important factor in seeking suitable applicants. A Government spokeswoman said: "There is no definitive research that students, learn better from a particular gender - it is the quality of the teacher."

Low social status, poor wages and fear of being labelled a paedophile were identified as factors in men shunning primary teaching.

The Australian Catholic University said the presence or absence of male teachers had "major implications for the culture of schools".

The NSW Government offers up to 300 teaching scholarships each year using "male teacher role models".


Give us a break, say exhausted NSW doctors

JUNIOR doctors are taking action against hospitals which force them to work more than 100 hours a week, putting patients' lives at risk. The Health Services Union, which represents about 5500 interns, resident doctors and registrars across the state, is demanding NSW Health pays junior doctors more for on-call shifts and give them breaks between shifts - to put an end to doctors working up to 36 hours' straight.

Junior doctors are paid time and a half for the first two hours worked after a 10-hour shift, then double time for any hours after that. But once they have logged 24 hours in a row, the pay reverts to single time. They are paid an allowance of $13.10 for being on call for 24 hours.

"But we've got doctors who work 24 or even 36 hours straight. They then go home and expect to get some sleep but that is interrupted by phone calls from the hospital and they they return for another long shift so any family or social life goes out the window," said the union's industrial services manager, Andrew Lillicrap. "That has big implications for patients."

The union was pushing for 10-hour breaks between shifts, higher hourly rates for overtime and an hour's pay for every phone call a doctor takes at home to advise on a patient, he said. The union's general secretary, Michael Williamson, said 17 hours' of wakefulness "can create an equivalent impairment to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05". "And after 24 hours of wakefulness an equal impairment to a blood alcohol level of 0.1," he said.

The vice-president of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton, said changes to the NSW Medical Officers Award were long overdue. "If these people were airline pilots their employers would be hauled over the coals, but somehow we expect doctors to be different to normal people. It's time to bring this award into the 21st century - a junior doctor who mis-writes a drug chart because they are tired can put someone's life at risk, and their own career is over. It's not on," Dr Hambleton said.

A survey in 2006 by the AMA found 62 per cent of hospital doctors to be working unsafe hours. For those in surgical rounds, that rose to 85 per cent. The level of risk was determined by calculating total weekly hours, the amount of night work, the length of shifts, the extent of on-call commitments, access to breaks, and the long-term work pattern.

One doctor, who did not want to be named, provided a diary of his week, which showed he had worked more than 106 hours over seven days and was on call for 77 hours.

On some days, he had only fours hours between shifts to sleep, and that time was interrupted by taking phone calls from the hospital. For four consecutive nights last week he did not get home in time to see his three young children before they went to sleep and he often slept on the couch so his wife was not disturbed by his ringing phone when he was on call.

"More money for phone calls wouldn't make much difference. I don't do this for money, but it will make the hospitals stop and think before they ring for trivial matters. Some registrars get 20 to 30 calls a night." He said he often fell asleep at the wheel on the way home and knew of one colleague who fell asleep on a patient while operating.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Young Doctors working excessive hours has been institutionalized in the HC system for many, many years now. Calls for change have been ringing out since the 80s that I can recall. Older Doctors could stop it tomorrow if they wanted to but they consider it a rite of passage or character building or some such nonsense. One rarely sees the well remunerated Consultants putting in these kinds of hours, but one often sees them chewing out the exhausted, younger doctors for some slight transgression that usually involves an inconvenience to the Consultant.