Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Labor Party not Leftist enough, says party honcho

How insistence on fibre broadband (NBN) at great cost to the taxpayer represents "equity, social justice and compassion" quite escapes me. One would have thought that "welfare for the bourgeoisie" would be a better description. And how unilateral Warmist legislation is going to help the worker is a VERY deep mystery. We have a very confused man here, obviously

Labor needs to rebuild and promote its image as a party of equity, social justice and compassion if it is to win votes back from the left and endure the full term in minority government, the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, says.

Launching a book in Sydney yesterday entitled All That's Left, Mr Combet said Labor failed during its first term of government "to make sure that people grasped what drives us, what our values are and what differentiates us from both the Coalition and the Greens". "Given this view, Labor must rebuild its standing," he said.

Mr Combet acknowledged speculation about whether the minority government Labor has formed with the Greens and the independents would survive the entire term.

"We will be successful if we govern guided by those enduring Labor values I have outlined, and if we ensure that our values are recognised."

Mr Combet cited the national broadband network [NBN], plans to put a price on carbon, and a boosted super guarantee, partly funded by the mining tax, as illustrative of the values he listed.

Mr Combet said part of the rebuilding strategy was for Labor to wean itself off focus group-driven politics.

Focus groups and internal polling had a role in supporting campaigns and policy development; "however, they cannot have primacy … They simply inform strategy and how to promote policies and win support for them. They cannot compel the party to abandon its values."

Mr Combet said Labor failed to promote many of its achievements in its first term, including stimulating the economy against recession, delivering a long-awaited increase to the pension, replacing Work Choices with the Fair Work Act, the apology to the stolen generation, and withdrawing troops from Iraq.

He said it was the Coalition and the Greens that were responsible for defeating the emissions trading scheme, which was "a very significant reform that would have transformed our economy without hurting equity".

"Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that Labor lost votes to the Left at the federal election. It is clear that some of this vote switching was caused by the deferral of the ETS."

Mr Combet said that "in the end, we must return to the eternal Labor values": "In tough times … you rebuild, drawing upon your core values and beliefs."


Australians want a new election - now

AUSTRALIANS want to go back to the polls - sooner rather than later, a social trends report has found. The report found that a surprising amount of voters have serious concerns about the stability of the new government and are in favour of another election, even if it meant another campaign and more cost to the taxpayer.

Adding to Julia Gillard's woes is the fact that many voters are deeply uncomfortable about how she became Prime Minister.

The Ipsos Mackay Mind and Mood October report, which measures Australian attitudes to a wide range of subjects through extensive group surveys, said that the ousting of Kevin Rudd was still an issue for voters.

The report is based on group discussions conducted in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Bendigo and Townsville in September 2010.

Ipsos Mackay Chief researcher Rebecca Huntley said: "For those who believed Gillard instigated the coup, she was viewed as disloyal and power hungry. "For those who believed she was merely a puppet of the ALP's faceless men, they were disappointed she didn't show greater strength and independence."

Many voters feel uneasy the new government did not win a majority. "The new paradigm of politics was causing new anxieties for many. One major concern voiced was that the situation was too precarious, with even a minor event sending us back to the polls sooner rather than later," the report said. "As one voter put it, 'The sooner something gets sorted out in another election the better. At least we will get something that is definite'," Ms Huntley said.

"Another voter… felt insecure about a government 'elected by only half the population. I know it costs money to go back to the polls but I think we should do it,' she said."

Many of those surveyed seemed to feel Ms Gillard stood for nothing, or very little other than holding onto power.

This is a dramatic shift in opinion from just six months before when the Mind and Mood April survey found consumers held mainly positive attitudes towards the then Deputy Prime Minister. "In our April Mind & Mood, consumers seemed to hold great expectations for Julia Gillard. They saw her claims to the top job as legitimate," Ms Huntley said.

A convincing win at the ballot might have changed the sense of unease about how she became Prime Minister before the election, but Labor's lacklustre result and the drawn out negotiations with the Independents have left voters with political fatigue and an overwhelming desire for politicians to "just get on with it". "Certainly the drawn out reasoning of the Independents and Mr Oakeshott’s famous 17-minute speech had worn their patience thin," Ms Huntley said.

The report said that once the decision on forming government was made, consumers were quick to turn their attentions elsewhere. The overwhelming mood amongst the participants when politics was raised in discussion was anger, cynicism and frustration with the two-party system.

"They have serious problems with the two-party system (specifically the perceived lack of difference between the two major parties) and the apparent inability of our political leaders to think and act long-term for the benefit of the nation," the report said.

While the spectacular success of the Greens and their elevation to centre stage was mentioned by many, the report found more wanted to discuss the role played by the Independents. "Despite the concerns about the sudden power of the Independents, consumers recognised that if you were lucky enough to live in one of their electorates, you were likely to be better looked after by government at least until the next Federal Election."

According to Ms Huntley, the test for the Gillard Government is whether it can disprove criticisms that it is weak and plagued by infighting, and can drive it's own legislative agenda on broadband, a carbon tax and asylum seekers.

"It all amounts to a somewhat tentative hold on power," she said.


Immigration Department apologises for saying church hall not suitable for citizenship ceremonies

THE Immigration Department has apologised to a Queensland Lions Club for telling them a church hall was unsuitable for citizenship ceremonies because it was used for religious activity. The Rosewood Lions Club near Ipswich was stunned to be told the Uniting Church hall was inappropriate – despite being used for the ceremonies for the past nine years.

Club president Greg Tutt said their secretary Di McCrae was informed of the decision at a briefing in Brisbane last month. “At the end of the briefing she was called aside and told the hall was inappropriate because it was used for religious purposes,” Mr Tutt said. “They also gave her a brochure explaining it. It’s on page three.”

He said they were “bemused” more than angry and believed it was “political correctness gone mad”. “We get 100 odd people to the ceremonies and we use that hall because of its size,” Mr Tutt said. “The Lions is a non-religious organisation. We don’t care what religion they come from.”

An Immigration Department spokesman said their policy was not to use religious buildings for citizenship ceremonies, but the Rosewood church hall was “entirely appropriate”.

“A building that sits on land that is owned by a religious group is an appropriate location for citizenship ceremonies as long as its purpose is community-oriented rather than a place of religious activity or worship,” he said.

The spokesman said the department had apologised to the Rosewood Lions Club for any confusion.


Genital surgery massively disfiguring, court hears

A doctor who performed a "massively disfiguring" operation on a patient's genitals told a nurse the woman's husband was dead "so it doesn't matter", a court has heard.

The former gynaecologist, known only as GSR as he cannot be named for legal reasons, is charged with maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Carolyn DeWagaeneire during an operation to remove a pre-cancerous lesion in August 2002. Mrs DeWagaeneire was 58 at the time of the operation.

He is also charged with excising Mrs DeWagaeneire's clitoris, an illegal operation for a doctor to perform unless it is necessary for the patient's health.

During the Crown opening in the District Court, Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, SC, told the jury that GSR had "deliberately performed this surgery ... either deliberately to harm her or recklessly without considering her human suffering".

"It didn't need to be such a massively disfiguring operation and he didn't have Mrs DeWagaeneire's consent."

During a consultation with the doctor, Mrs DeWagaeneire was told the operation would be a "simple vulvectomy" involving the removal of a small flap of skin, Ms Cunneen said.

"Mrs DeWagaeneire will tell you that while she was lying on the operating table in the theatre before she was rendered unconscious by anaesthetic the accused came over to her and put his face quite close to her and said to her, 'I'm going to take your clitoris too,' "the jury was told.

Ms Cunneen said that, when a nurse present during the operation had seen the cut GSR was making. she told him she thought it was "fairly radical surgery" and asked why he was taking so much. The doctor allegedly replied, "If I don't take it all, the cancer will spread." He added, "Her husband's dead; it doesn't matter anyway."

His barrister, John Stratton, SC, told the jury Mrs DeWagaeneire's condition was a "time bomb ticking, ready to go off." "He was not trying to mutilate or harm [her]. He was trying to save her life."


Background: "They call him the Butcher of Bega: a NSW doctor who has committed such monstrous acts that hundreds of terrified victims have remained silent for more than five years.

Dr Graeme Stephen Reeves is alleged to have routinely mutilated or sexually abused as many as 500 female patients while he was working as a gynaecologist and obstetrician at various hospitals across Sydney and the NSW south coast.

Despite the NSW Medical Board ruling he had psychiatric problems which "detrimentally affect his mental capacity to practice medicine" more than a decade ago, he managed to continue treating women without detection in a devastating trail of botched operations and negligence.


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