Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Multiculturalism" is not confined to Melbourne

Sydney police have yet to learn that the race of offenders must be kept secret, apparently

A GIRL'S pleas for help were ignored as she was being sexually assaulted by two men in a Sydney shopping mall, police said yesterday.

The 15-year-old was dragged into a garden bed by two men as she walked through Parramatta Mall at Church St about 2am on Sunday.
She told police she cried out for help to a nearby male but he apparently ignored her and kept walking.

After being released, the girl went to a fast food restaurant in the mall and told her friends what had happened.

They contacted police and a crime scene was set up. Police said the men they want to question are both of black African appearance and are appealing for anyone who can assist the investigation to come forward, particularly the male passer-by.


Greens 'derailing' key resource projects

THE gas industry has demanded the Greens stop trying to derail coal-seam gas projects, which are crucial if it is to build up to $60 billion worth of new gas-fired power stations to meet Julia Gillard's plans for a clean energy future and back up unreliable wind energy.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, representing firms such as Santos, said coal-seam projects in Queensland and NSW would provide a "great deal" of the gas needed to meet the expected 200 per cent rise in gas due by 2050 because of the price on carbon.

"The biggest constraint is ironically going to be the opposition to the development of coal-seam gas by the Greens," association chief executive Belinda Robinson said. "This is the party which has established itself on the moral high ground on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "But it's also the party that poses the greatest threat to the development of the one fuel type that provides the greatest opportunity for significantly reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions."

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne has described coal-seam gas as a "disaster" for Australia, while protests from residents have flared in inner-western Sydney and the Hunter Valley, and legal action looms over a project in Queensland's Darling Downs.

The warning comes as figures compiled by the Australian Energy Market Operator for The Australian reveal it would cost about $2.4bn to build the gas plants required to replace the 2000 megawatts of energy production from high-polluting coal plants that will be closed. There would also be annual running costs ranging from $585 million to $1.46bn by 2030.

The government plans to buy out and close high-polluting coal-fired plants, with the "polluting dinosaur" Hazelwood power station in Victoria expected to be among those to close. As well as replacing coal, gas will be crucial to backing up wind, which is notoriously intermittent.

When demand for power rocketed to its highest level in South Australia last summer, the state's 1150MW of installed wind power generation was only able to contribute 60MW of supply.

Treasury modelling forecasts that under a carbon price system, between $50bn and $60bn of gas electricity generating plants will be needed by 2050, with between $1bn and $9bn needed in the next nine years.

More gas will be used to generate electricity as it will become more profitable when the carbon price starts. But there are fears that although Australia has ample gas reserves, electricity generators will struggle to secure long-term contracts for gas supplies because of the surging Asian demand for liquefied natural gas.

On top of this, domestic gas prices are expected to rise as LNG is exported from the east coast after 2015, while the gas transmission industry has warned that its costs will rise because a carbon tax is likely to increase the costs of operating the compressors that move large amounts of gas over long distances.

While there have been 9420MW worth of gas generation projects publicly announced, new figures from AEMO show none has moved to the advanced or committed stage that means a project can proceed.

Ms Robinson said coal-seam gas supplies would have to grow if more gas-fired power stations were to be built. But she said the approvals processes for the projects were becoming more complex, despite previous criticism from the Productivity Commission about convoluted approval requirements.

She said the approvals process was "often a reflection or a response to the level of political opposition being brought to bear". "If we are going to do this, the Greens must be accountable and responsible for the decisions they take and the extent to which they oppose the coal-seam gas industry," Ms Robinson said.

The switch from coal-fired power to gas is expected to require investments in upgrading the pipelines that transport the gas from the south to the north of the country, and can transport gas back down from the coal-seam projects in the north.

Extra capacity will also be needed for the pipelines that feed gas to the big cities.


Schoolboy is taking his fight to play netball in a girls' side to the discrimination watchdog

Interesting to see how the bureaucrats wriggle out of this one -- but wriggle they will

A SCHOOLBOY is taking his fight to play netball in a girls' side to the discrimination watchdog.

Danny Loats, 11, is the only male player in the Banyule District Netball Association and has been picked in their representative sides two years running.

But after enjoying the backing of his Alphington teammates and rivals alike in his own league, their opponents refused to let him line up in a recent junior tournament.

Danny's netball-mad family has enlisted lawyers Maurice Blackburn to take their case to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, with a conference scheduled today.

Danny told the Herald Sun he was the only player of more than 800 not allowed to take part against Diamond Creek Force. "It's sort of sad because everyone else could play but me," he said.

His dad Greg said Danny was the first allowed to try out for state selection in his age group. But there were few alternatives for boys playing at Danny's level except to join girls' teams, he said. "It's all about boys having the same opportunity as girls to play netball," Mr Loats said. "Girls can play AFL and soccer, boys should have the same opportunities."

Netball Victoria has an exemption from VCAT allowing its member associations to declare themselves girls-only in Danny's age group. It's up to the leagues to decide if they want boys to play. Danny's family wants Netball Victoria to change its policy so boys can't be excluded.

But Netball Victoria denies Danny has been unfairly left out, saying the issue was with the law, not the sport. "We're inclusive, we support boys playing netball," a spokeswoman said.

She said Diamond Creek Force followed Netball Victoria's guidelines "to the letter".

Danny's lawyer Natasha Andrew said he just wanted to compete at the top level.


NSW Leftist politicians sent to ethics class

They sure need it

LABOR MPs will be sent to ethics classes after the former government recorded six scandals within eight weeks last year.

A review of the ALP's massive defeat at the state election this year recommends regular continuing education and training in ethics for all caucus members.

The ALP general secretary, Sam Dastyari, said the party would accept all recommendations of the review by former deputy premier John Watkins and the state secretary of the Queensland ALP branch, Anthony Chisholm. "We will be implementing every recommendation in full," he said.

The Labor leader, John Robertson, told the state ALP conference in Sydney at the weekend that the party had to be "honest with ourselves and honest with the people we represent".

The deputy leader, Linda Burney, is a strong advocate of further education and training for MPs, who she said had to "sink or swim" on entering Parliament.

The Watkins/Chisholm review said scandal had haunted the last term of the state Labor government. "Embarrassing, tawdry and devastatingly regular reports of scandalous, inappropriate and corrupt behaviour became the norm," the review said. "Those scandals ranged from the sordidly criminal to the adolescently stupid, but all did their damage.

"The party selected candidates who should never have been in Parliament. Whether that was due to centralised choice of candidates, factional patronage, abuse of the N40 rule or just carelessness, NSW Labor certainly paid dearly for its mistakes."

The review said education and training in ethical standards and ministerial duties and responsibilities may have helped avoid some of the scandals which included Karyn Paluzzano lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Paul McLeay viewing pornography at work, and Ian Macdonald's travel rorts [Sir Lunchalot!]

"There is no denying that those involved in scandal showed a deep lack of respect for the people of NSW, for the NSW Labor Party, for other members of caucus and for the government."

Geoff Gallop, from the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney, said it was a good idea to constantly remind public officials of the standards of behaviour expected of them. "It never hurts to remind MPs that they have an obligation, not an option, to act in the public interest," he said. "Many a politician has fallen foul of the law because they forgot that."


South Australian teachers kept on hold for hours to report abuse claims

The typical indifference that pervades government "child protection"

TEACHERS reporting serious cases to the Child Abuse Report Line wait for up to two hours for their calls to be answered.

Teachers were frustrated because they could spend whole lunch or recess times, or hours of their own time waiting on hold, according to Australian Education Union SA principals consultative committee chairman Ian Kent and SA Primary Principals president Steve Portlock. "I've had teachers report they've waited up to two hours to get through," Mr Kent said.

Families and Communities Minister Jennifer Rankine said the number of notifications reported to the 24-hour line was growing in line with awareness of child abuse issues and rostering of staff for the service was under review.

Mr Kent said some teachers also felt that - once they did get through to make the report - their concerns were not taken seriously. "It's quite often when you do ring up, the person at the other end of the line will say, 'well, why are you reporting that?'," Mr Kent said. "But it could be just the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle that confirms a child is being abused or neglected."

He said the process of mandatory notifications was essential but demanded thorough documentation - also a time-consuming process for teachers.

Ms Rankine said waiting times could be "highly variable depending on the time of the day and the number of calls". "In 2009-10, 36,038 notifications of suspected child abuse or neglect were received through the Report Line and this was a 10.5 per cent increase on the year before," Ms Rankine said.

She said there was now a dedicated line for teachers calling between 8.30am and 5pm on weekdays, while Families SA "is in the process of appointing interim additional staff to be rostered on during peak times to better meet demand".

Mr Kent and Mr Portlock said that regardless of waiting times, teachers would continue to take the time to ensure reports were made. "The students are the first priority," Mr Portlock said. "Teachers and principals see mandatory notifications as an important responsibility and they take it seriously."


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