New authoritarian law from the NSW Left
What is wrong with an arrangement that both parties concerned are happy with? As usual, this is self-chosen "elites", mostly on the Left, treating adults like children and presuming to make very personal decisions for them. Fortunately, because of federalism, people can just move to another state or territory and get on with their lives without such interference
NICK BONE would give anything for his son. But from today, giving him a brother or sister could land him in jail.
Long-awaited laws that come into force today giving recognition to parents of children born through surrogacy also have imposed penalties designed to protect overseas women from exploitation by families seeking commercial surrogacy. Penalties include up to two years' imprisonment and fines of $275,000 for parents who have children through overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements.
The changes would force desperate would-be parents into "underground" arrangements, said speakers at a forum last night organised by the group Australian Families Through Gestational Surrogacy.
But Mr Bone's biggest worry right now is what his 10-month-old son, Otis, will think when he discovers he was born through an arrangement the state has since decided is wrong. "I never wanted to lie to him about anything, but how will he feel knowing that when he is growing up?" Mr Bone asked.
He did not believe Otis's birth mother was exploited, as he had developed a relationship with her, talking regularly during the pregnancy, and had seen the benefits his money had provided.
The Greens MP David Shoebridge said the ban was a "last-minute amendment", introduced and voted on within 48 hours despite the rest of the legislation being crafted from years of community consultation. It would leave distraught families in its wake.
The original bill banned commercial surrogacy in NSW, but Mr Shoebridge said the Greens had supported it because it was in line with community standards. However, he believed the issue was open for debate in the future.
Jenni Millbank, a law professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, said some people would still use overseas commercial surrogacy, either illegally or by moving to another state.
She believed the law was implemented without proper consultation, and was unlikely to achieve its goal. A transnational accreditation system for surrogacy providers would be a better way of protecting birth mothers, she said.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said it was important the ban on commercial surrogacy was not undermined or circumvented.
Commercial arrangements had "been roundly rejected by the National Health and Medical Research Council as well as lawmakers around Australia via the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General", the spokesman said.
Men banned from dance event at Town Hall
A WOMEN-only dance party has seen a suburban council accused of being segregationist. The Dance Sister Dance at Brunswick Town Hall in Victoria has won a VCAT exemption from equal opportunity laws. The Moreland City Council dance is designed for cultural groups whose women would not take part if it involved men.
But Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis said Moreland was supporting segregation. "We have segregation in swimming pools, now we have segregation for dancing. Will the next step be buses only for various nationalities," Mr Davis said. Similar exemptions have been granted for councils to offer female-only swimming sessions at public pools.
VCAT member Anna Dea said the dance party was justified because Moreland council research showed many women and girls preferred to be active in a female-only environment. [What say I prefer to be active in a "whites only" environment? Would that be OK?]
"In addition, many newly arrived communities find it culturally inappropriate for young women to participate in physical activity with males present," Ms Dea's decision said. "Young women tend to be less confident dancing at mixed events and it is hoped this event will build confidence, raise self-esteem and develop skills."
The City of Moreland, which stretches from Fitzroy North to Glenroy, has a large migrant population, with about 8 per cent of residents Muslim. It offers a women's only program at the Brunswick City Baths.
Mayor Oscar Yildiz said it was important for the council to offer activities in appropriate settings. "This event encourages women and girls from all cultural backgrounds to become familiar with dancing and raise their skill and confidence," Cr Yildiz said.
John Roskam, head of free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, said the dance party issue wasn't as clear cut as women-only swimming sessions. "If it's encouraging people to participate in the community then that would have to be a good thing, " Mr Roskam said. "But the thing is, we can't be making a habit of it. "We want the genders to be mixing in society."
Personal responsibility upheld
This may help cut back the fashion for blaming everyone except the person responsible for mishaps
A man left a quadriplegic when he dived into a riverbed has lost a $5 million lawsuit against local authorities. Timothy Felhaber was aged 17 in September 2002 when he and friends were using a rope swing attached to a tree to propel themselves into the Fitzroy River at a recreational area known as the Ski Gardens, near Rockhampton.
On his last swing he dived headfirst into the water, struck his head on the river bed and broke his neck. Mr Felhaber claimed Rockhampton City Council was responsible, at least in part, for his injury. He claimed authorities should have erected signs warning of the dangers of diving into the water.
At a trial in the Rockhampton Supreme Court earlier this month, he sought $5 million in damages.
He claimed the council was in breach of its duty of care to him by failing to remove the branch of the tree from which the rope was slung, removing the rope swing.
He also said the council failed to put up a sign warning people that the depth of the river may change and that diving was prohibited.
However the council argued Mr Felhaber had failed to prove any duty of care owed to him had been breached.
In a judgment published last week, Judge Duncan McMeekin found in favour of the council, ruling:
* the activity on which the plaintiff was engaged was a voluntary recreational activity
* the risks inherent in the activity were obvious and the exercise of care by members of the public could be expected to keep them safe
* the council were not armed with any special knowledge relating to the risks inherent in carrying out the activity
* the council in no way "required or invited or encouraged" entrants to the area to engage in the activity
"The plaintiff made a mistake in his dive," he said in the 22-page-long judgment. "I suspect that his swing took him not so far out as was usual and his chosen method of dismount brought him a little closer to the bank than he expected. It was not a deliberate action of courting a risk but a negligent failure to ensure he kept a safe distance away from the bank."
In 2004 the council erected a sign at the Ski Gardens warning of diving dangers and of crocodiles in the water.
Judge McMeekin said it was unreasonable for the council to remove every tree from which a rope could be attached.
Privacy decrees gone mad
No privacy for the little guy
YOU KNOW what really gets my back up? It's privacy laws. I know, they are meant to keep our affairs private. But why do they work only one way? When my telecom "provider" makes an unsolicited call to "help me get a cheaper plan" the first thing they want to know is my date of birth. Why? For privacy reasons, we must ensure we are talking to you, I am told.
Well, they rang me, I didn't ring them, so how do I know it is them, not some devious schemer trying to steal my identity? Reasoning on this level doesn't compute. I have tried suggesting they tell me my date of birth, and if correct, I would continue the discussion. No, I am told. We are unable to disclose that information - privacy laws, you know!
I went looking for a cheaper green slip for my rego. No problem, said the smiling customer service officer at a big bank. What is your full name? What is your date of birth? What is your address? What is the rego number of the car in question? Etc etc. I replied that I only wanted the price on a green slip for a 2005 popular make of car, that I was under 75 and over 25, lived outside the metropolitan area, and had no demerit points, surely that was all she needed to know to give me a price. "No - the computer has to have all that information to give a quote," I was assured. My full name? My exact address? My exact date of birth? The rego number of my particular car? What for? What about my privacy? Does the process of getting comparative quotes have to put me at the mercy of every junk mail distributor in the world?
Our local paper recently ran a notice, inserted by a city funeral director, announcing the funeral of a former resident who left our district 50 years ago, leaving behind many friends, most of whom are dead. In recognition of the fact that this lady was a good friend of my parents, now both dead, I rang the funeral director for her family's address in order to send a sympathy card on behalf of my family. "No, privacy laws forbid us releasing the family's address. We will forward any card you wish to send."
Well, did they think that this old lady did something dastardly to my family half a century ago, and that I have been waiting ever since for just such an opportunity to even the score with her bereaved family? What absolute rot. Why do we have to accept such mindless and senseless nonsense?
Some very welcome legal immigrants to Australia
It was drizzling and 8C in County Meath yesterday but Irish carpenter Conor Foley was far from home, drinking very cold beer in a West Australian heatwave.
The 25-year-old and his girlfriend, Aisling Mooney, a beauty therapist, have been granted 457 work visas to stay in Australia for four years. It is news that has made them the envy of friends back in Ireland where a new wave of emigration is under way. "We have loads of friends who want to leave Ireland for economic reasons," said Ms Mooney. "For us, it's the lifestyle as well. Perth is just so outdoorsy and we have changed our whole way of living."
The latest exodus from Ireland coincided with the recession in 2008 that saw unemployment reach 13 per cent. It is predicted that the number of people leaving Ireland over the next two years will reach 100,000, more than twice the number that left in 2009 and last year.
In Friday's Irish election, ruling party Fianna Fail appears to have been dumped over the economic malaise that led to the IMF-EU bailout of $116 billion last year. The centre-right Fine Gael is expected to look to the centre-left Labour Party to form a coalition government.
Ms Mooney and Mr Foley are taking a keen interest in the result, but say Perth is a more optimistic place with better opportunities. They will stay regardless of what happens at home. "We want to become permanent residents, that is our next goal, and buy a house," said Ms Mooney.
Mr Foley's visa was sponsored by the large construction company he works for. His skills in building maintenance are in high demand as Western Australia's next round of resource projects looms. Ms Mooney is entitled to a visa because she is the partner of a skilled worker, but she has found her skills are sought after and has been in full-time work since their visas were issued.
The state Chamber of Commerce and Industry predicts Western Australia will need almost 500,00 extra workers over the next decade. State Training and Workplace Development Minister Peter Collier has said that attracting overseas workers would be critical.
Another prison bungle
NEW prison uniforms under fire for "camouflaging" inmates are now being labelled a fire risk.
Prison officers have claimed the new uniforms introduced last June were being reviewed because they were highly flammable.
This comes after The Courier-Mail revealed last week that Queensland Corrective Services had "camouflaged" the majority of its more than 5600 inmates with the "new-look" green, khaki and denim uniforms, making prisoners hard to spot in rural areas if they escaped.
The new prison-issue T-shirt, singlet and shorts were being made from a cotton-polyester blend, which could easily ignite and would burn rapidly.
But QCS Commissioner Kelvin Anderson hosed down claims the uniforms were unsafe. Mr Anderson said there were no plans to change them.