Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prince William's wedding good for the monarchy

The British monarch is also the Australian monarch but there are some Australians who want a republic instead

Miranda Devine

The timing of Prince William's engagement is a serious setback for the republican movement. There's no doubt he'd be a better king than his father.

THE Queen announced the news of her grandson's engagement yesterday with the following tweet - yes, tweet - on social networking site Twitter: "The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are absolutely delighted at the news of Prince William and Catherine Middleton's engagement."

It was a sign, not just that the monarchy has finally arrived in the 21st century, but that it belongs to William's generation. Twitter and Facebook, after all, are as alien to fusty 62-year-old Prince Charles as fidelity was in his first marriage.

After all his public agonies, Charles should now take the many heavy hints that have piled up over the years and sail off into the sunset with his mistress-turned-wife Camilla, leaving his far more formidable 28-year-old son to be king, and the far more appropriate Kate Middleton as queen.

Not least among the hints to Charles, first in line to the throne, is the longevity in office of his mother, the Queen, who forges valiantly on with her daily royal chores at the age of 84. Surely, if she thought her eldest son were worthy of succeeding her, she would have retired long ago to relax with her corgis.

With news of the royal engagement, the monarchy can now smoothly bypass Charles and Camilla and instead install the young, wholesome, photogenic, down-to-earth and thoroughly likeable couple as King Wills and Queen Kate.

This, of course, was the original revenge plan of William's beloved mother, Princess Diana, which she unveiled in her famous tell-all 1995 television interview with Martin Bashir on BBC's Panorama, two years before she died in a car crash in Paris.

Diana's sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring on Kate's Middleton's hand now seals the deal. "It's my mother's engagement ring," William said in a remarkably gracious television interview with his fiancee beside him, the highly recognisable ring firmly on her finger. "So I thought it was quite nice because obviously she's not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement about all this. It's my way of keeping her sort of close to it all."

The couple appeared to be so lovely and genuinely in love, it's no wonder their news has delighted their economically troubled nation, with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his Cabinet reportedly pounding fists on their desks with happiness.

In Australia, meanwhile, can't you just hear the sound of republicans gnashing their teeth? "The fact that in 2010, a wedding announcement to the other side of the world between two young English people stands to impact on our own constitutional arrangements is simply absurd," the Australian Republican Movement's chairman, Mike Keating, said in a statement yesterday.

The truth is that Prince Charles was the republicans' best tool. It is hard enough in Australia to justify the existence of a foreign monarch in modern times, let alone one as kooky and flawed as Charles. It's not Charles's age that is the impossible impediment to his taking the throne. It is his track record.

Of course, many people will never forgive Camilla, whom Diana nicknamed "the rottweiler", for ruining her marriage to Charles. Even though she married her long-time lover five years ago, the opposition in the United Kingdom to Camilla becoming queen has grown, and runs as high as 90 per cent in some opinion polls.

William's engagement announcement also couldn't have come at a better time to eclipse the bad publicity that is sure to come from his father's forthcoming greenie documentary, Harmony. To be broadcast this week in the US, it is reportedly an attempt by Charles to pitch himself as a British Al Gore. It could also be seen as his last-ditch pitch for what Diana called the top job.

Charles says in the program: "I can only somehow imagine that I find myself being born into this position for a purpose - to save the planet." Billed as a call to action on climate change, the project was his idea, and comes with a book as well as a children's version.

"He felt there were a lot of urgent issues to be discussed," his co-producer, Stuart Sender, told Reuters. "He is very involved in the movie as a narrator, and on camera . . . some of the prince's projects are also featured in the film."

The timing of William's engagement announcement - made three weeks after he proposed to Kate in Kenya -- may simply be unfortunate coincidence, from Charles' point of view.

But his first response to reporters' questions yesterday was abrasive. "They've been practising for long enough," he said. Camilla said the news was "wicked". Yes, she had just come out of the musical of the same name but why would she employ a slang word used by people 40 years her junior, which has such an obvious double meaning?


Hospital bureaucrats paid more as Victoria's health system fails

MILLIONS of dollars of extra taxpayers' cash is being used to pay for hospital bureaucrats while the state's health system fails. A Herald Sun investigation has discovered the Health Department is paying more money to more bureaucrats than ever before - at the same time as people die waiting for ambulances and surgery.

The number of executives paid more than $200,000 at the state's 13 biggest public hospitals jumped by more than a quarter in just a year, annual reports reveal.

The angry mother of a man who died from a heart attack last month while waiting at home for life-saving surgery says hospital bosses had failed the public.

But Health Minister Daniel Andrews' spokeswoman defended the Government's commitment to hospitals. "Unlike Ted Baillieu, Labor has a fully-costed, fully-funded plan to build or open 941 beds and to treat more patients in hospitals across Victoria," she said. "Labor has recruited almost 11,000 additional nurses and more than 3500 extra doctors and has a plan to recruit 2800 additional clinical staff over the next two years. "Our system is now treating more than 730,000 extra patients a year because we have supported the staff, facilities and equipment that are important to patients." [A non-reply]

Hospitals making the biggest losses were among those with the biggest rise in expensive bureaucrats. Monash and Box Hill top the list of hospitals with highly paid administrative staff while other to see a rise in bureaucrats despite multi-million dollar losses were the Melbourne, Children's, Alfred, and Womens'.

The blowout in executive pays comes as the Government demands up to three per cent be cut from hospital's acute health budgets to achieve savings of up to $185 million.

Gordon Field, 55, was told he desperately needed a heart valve replaced but was still sent home by Monash Medical Centre. Days later his worried mother, Jean Field, 80, found his body on the floor of his home where he had died a day earlier. There was also a letter that had arrived days before, informing Mr Field he had been placed on a category 2 waiting list with a 90-day wait for surgery.

"I can't complain about the doctors and nurses because they do all they can, it is only the bureaucrats in the hospital who are overpaid and underworked who are doing the damage," Mrs Field said.

More than 6000 Victorians have died waiting for surgery in the past nine years.

The pay pool for the state's 64 hospital high-flyers who manage those waiting lists rose by almost a third, from $12.9 million in 2008-09 to $16.7 million in 2009-10. At the same time the hospitals posted combined losses of $134 million and failed to meet five of nine key performance targets.

Artist Peter Horne has been waiting in pain for almost three years to have his arthritis-ravaged ankle reconstructed, and was dismayed when told of the growth in bureaucrats.

AMA state president Dr Harry Hemley said the growth in bureaucrats' pay seemed strange given that public hospitals gave doctors only a 3.25 per cent pay rise last year. "Victoria's health system needs more beds, not desks," he said. "Our hospitals system's performance dropped last year, with more patients waiting longer for emergency care and elective surgery." Dr Hemley said the next government needed a plan that included more hospital beds.

Opposition health spokesman David Davis blamed government mismanagement of public hospitals for the rewarding of executives taking precedence over patient services. "While tens of thousands of patients wait on secret outpatient lists, and tens of thousands languish in emergency departments, John Brumby is busy pumping up the pay packets of hospital bosses," he said. The Opposition has promised an extra 800 hospitals beds.

Health Minister Daniel Andrews' spokeswoman defended the Government's commitment to hospitals. "Unlike Ted Baillieu, Labor has a fully costed, fully funded plan to build or open 941 beds and to treat more patients in hospitals across Victoria," she said. "Labor has recruited almost 11,000 additional nurses and more than 3500 extra doctors, and has a plan to recruit 2800 additional clinical staff over the next two years.

"Our system is now treating more than 730,000 extra patients a year because we have supported the staff, facilities and equipment that are important to patients." [Another non-mention of the bureaucratic bloat. Leftist just LOVE bureaucracy]


Greens say politicians get enough peanuts already

I have to agree --JR

GREENS leader Bob Brown has rejected moves to pay MPs more cash, saying increasing their pay packets won't attract better talent to parliament.

Federal MPs are in line for a new year pay rise, with shadow ministers pay at $200K. Even rookie MPs' salaries will jump from $135,000 to nearly $170,000 as part of the biggest changes to parliamentary entitlements for years. The wage rise will deliver a superannuation bonanza, adding thousands of dollars to the retirement incomes of the 226 federal MPs and Senators.

But they also will lose a raft of perks, which can add $60,000 to an MP's salary. The Gold Pass- lifetime travel to retired MPs - is almost certain to be scrapped for future parliamentarians.

Liberal frontbencher Eric Abetz said there was truth to the old saying "if you pay peanuts you get monkeys", but Mr Brown gave that line a twist. "There is an old saying that if you pay them peanuts you get monkeys, but if you give more peanuts you sometimes get gorillas," he told reporters in Canberra.

Senator Brown says politicians already earn well above the average national wage. "We are very well paid," he said. "We have to be very careful about assuming that it is only money that will get you good politicians."

Liberal MP Don Randall also believed it was time to look at the issue. "The Prime Minister should get more pay," he said.

But some of his colleagues were reluctant to comment. Malcolm Turnbull, believed to be the richest MP in parliament, said it was a matter for independent review. And Opposition frontbench colleague Scott Morrison gave the same one-sentence reply to repeated questions on the issue. "It's a matter for the independent tribunal," he said three times.

Labor backbencher Amanda Rishworth was equally wary of talking about the controversial issue. "I'm quite happy with my lot in life," she said.

But Independent senator Nick Xenophon believes it was his staff who deserved a pay rise. "They are working around the clock and what they're getting paid is completely unfair," he said. "If anyone gets a pay rise first it should be the staff."

Well-placed sources said travel was likely to be tightened for current politicians - a plan that has already triggered a backlash.

The Government, which has since April been sitting on a secret report outlining the changes, is determined to clean up the $340 million entitlements system following a series of critical reports. Perks that have been abused, including the $35,000 electorate allowance and the $18,500 "overseas study" entitlement, will be "cashed out" with the higher salary.

A backbencher salary will rise to $170,000-$180,000, while shadow ministers will get a more generous increase. It will also flow through to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who earns about $350,000 a year, and Cabinet ministers, who earn about $230,000.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard firm on homosexual marriage policy

A CHANGE of Labor policy may not be enough to persuade Julia Gillard to back gay marriage. A motion from the Greens, amended by Labor, due to be voted on in parliament this week calls for all MPs to canvass the issue of gay marriage with their local voters.

The motion has reignited debate on gay marriage, which is not supported in Labor's national platform. Left faction members and other Labor MPs have indicated their support for a conscience vote in parliament and want the platform changed at the party's national conference, expected late next year.

Ms Gillard said she had no problem with the Greens' motion passing in its amended form and for the debate to be had at the Labor national conference. "The platform is decided at the conference and the federal parliamentary Labor Party, led by me, makes decisions on how we will go about working on platform questions," Ms Gillard said. She said people were "getting way ahead of themselves" if they thought the issue could be resolved quickly.

Ms Gillard said she hoped the conference and the party would continue to talk about "the things that will determine prosperity, opportunity and equity in this country for the decades in front of us".

The Herald Sun reported former Labor leader Kevin Rudd had agreed to let MPs have a conscience vote on same-sex marriage in his second term, in a deal with key Left faction leaders, but the plan lapsed when Ms Gillard replaced him as prime minister. Ms Gillard told reporters she was not aware of the deal.


Star warmists are ripping us off

Andrew Bolt

DICK Smith and his two helicopters aren't just evidence that global warming is the first faith preached exclusively by hypocrites. Our petrol-powered greenie also demonstrates a bizarre chasm between private behaviour and public policy that should warn us we're being ripped off.

Smith, in a profile in Good Weekend on Saturday, once more banged his warmist drum. Having criss-crossed the world by chopper and private plane, the entrepreneur declared: "After my research, it is most likely that humans are affecting climate." Er, one human in particular, Dick.

As the same article made clear, few of us would have pumped out more emissions than Smith, even though he's the one claiming these gases are suffocating the planet. For instance: "He has a holiday house, a farm with a homestead, a large house with a swimming pool, two cars, a steam train and all that owning three separate households entails. "He's very open but for some reason refuses to confirm just how many aircraft he owns - there are at least two helicopters and a jet."

Smith objects that cutting back on his joy rides would "make no measurable difference", and change really had to come from governments. Decoded, that means governments must pass laws to force the rest of us to make the sacrifices Smith will not. Or put it this way: Smith wants governments to force up the bills for the power you need to cook dinner and wash the kids' clothes, but won't voluntarily cut down on his helicopter trips to watch birds.

You may say I've picked an extreme example, but how many would you like?

There's Virgin boss Sir Richard Brazen, for instance, who says we must cut our emissions, but then drops in to Brisbane in a private helicopter (yes, him, too) to flog his new line of business - joy rides into outer space.

Or take our own Alarmist of the Year, Tim Flannery, now a consultant for Brazen's gassy Virgin Galactic despite demanding we cut the emissions that "threaten civilisation as we know it".

Or how about Al Gore, the global warming billionaire, who says we must save the world by leaving a smaller footprint, yet recently bought his fourth big house. Or was it his fifth?

Then there's supermodel Gisele Bundchen becoming a United Nations environmental ambassador, then ordering herself a new 20,000sq ft home with a six-car garage, lagoon and lift.

Have I missed anyone? Oprah Winfrey, perhaps, who urges her viewers to "see what you can do to stop global warming", but then announces she'll fly 300 of them to Australia. She herself will probably take her private plane.

And how could I forget Laurie David, producer of Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the propaganda tape for the warming faithful, who admits: "Yes, I take a private plane on holiday a couple of times a year," but says she has the right attitude: "I feel horribly guilty."

Or director James Cameron, who sold his crazy environmental movie Avatar as a plea to "live with less", yet lives in a Malibu mansion with no less than six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a tennis court, a swimming pool, a guest house and an indoor cinema.

Sorry, but you shouldn't get me started about these celebrity warmists, each blinder than the last.

Take film star Jeremy Irons, who insists "people must drop their standard of living", while enjoying his six houses and a pink castle. Couldn't he at least paint the damn thing green?

But I won't go on. Point made. Well, half the point. Against the refusal of the loudest warming preachers to make observable sacrifices of their own, set the sacrifices demanded of much poorer taxpayers.

See, the thing about global warming is that it not just licenses closet totalitarians to design ways to force others to live more virtuously, but also excuses any harebrained scheme. After all, they're "saving" the planet. How could you question that great work?

And so one planet-saving scheme after another is proposed by governments that achieve nothing and cost a bomb - often so much, that even a Labor politician must finally choke.

Some examples? The NSW government last month had to slash a subsidy for solar panels to stop it from blowing out by $2.5 billion.

The Rudd government's own solar rebates had to be scrapped completely, along with the much-rorted [defrauded] "green loans" scheme and the "free insulation" disaster, in which $2.4 billion was frittered on often substandard or even lethal batts and foil.

Still going is the $100 million a year the Gillard Government is investing into the El Dorado of carbon capture - a quixotic scheme to catch and bury emissions of our power stations. Add the countless millions in subsidies and padded prices paid for wind power and you'll know part of the reason for your power bills soaring.

Rod Mills, head of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, explained it last week to the Labor-Greens carbon price committee: "Household solar and wind generation in particular ... are high-cost measures and ones where the cost is added to the bills of all electricity consumers."

Compare: making electricity with brown coal costs less than $40 a megawatt hour; with wind more than $100, and with solar about $300.

And the sick joke is that solar does little to stop any warming anyway. An Australian National University review of the scrapped federal scheme says it wasted $1 billion to cut our emissions by a microscopic 0.015 per cent, and mostly by importing solar panels from China.

All of it charged to you, dear reader, in the hope that because we're "saving the planet" you won't ask such awkward questions as "will it actually work?" and "how much will it cost?" and "are you out of your freaking mind?"

How else to explain the Gillard Government's "cash for clunkers" scheme, in which owners of old bombs will be paid up to $2000 if they scrap them and buy a "green" car instead. That works out to a lunatic $400 for each tonne of carbon dioxide "saved", even accepting the Government's own figures. Put that in context: the emissions trading scheme proposed by Kevin Rudd planned to start with an effective tax of just $23 a tonne.

Here's a tip for Smith and his kind. You think this joke can go on for much longer, with warming preachers belching hot air while everyone else must cork their own? If the planet really is threatened with warming doom, why don't you act like you believe it?

In truth, a Smith demonstrates the real question we must calmly consider: would each sacrifice we're told to make in fact make so much difference that we should make it? Hear that choppering high over your head? That's Smith's answer.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Still trying to work out what "Gay Marriage" would give us that we don't already have. Next of kin rights? We have those because our families love and respect us, largely because we have been honest, yet respectful of them. Inheritance rights? We can have, and have made, our wills as we see fit. Taxation? In some ways we are actually better off as things stand now, and even if that wasn't so we have enough to live on without needing any tax benefits. Property and assets? all jointly held, always able to get loans or assets as a couple, no issues I can see. Recognition of our relationship? We aren't exhibitionists and don't need anyones blessing. 26 years with the same partner is regarded as impressive these days regardless of sexual orientation anyway. Unless there's some specific civil right I'm missing here that I haven't yet noticed I don't have, then I can't see any need for "Gay Marriage" as a political issue. Churches? They can or don't marry people as they (rightly) see fit, and we don't really care what they do or think. I fear this issue has been pushed out there as some kind of distraction from other far more pressing issues and it will attract a chatter of circular debate among the chatterers before being put away unresolved until the next distraction is needed.