Monday, August 15, 2011

Household power switched off by remote

Anything is better than building new power stations. Building a new power station was once seen as a great advance and a public service. Now it is seen as something to avoid by any means possible. In an age of unprecedented abundance we are told we must cut back on everything.

At least this is proposed as a voluntary scheme. In California they want to do it compulsorily. But I can't see it having much take-up. Who is it going to appeal to if your power gets cut off when you most need it? Insane

TVs, airconditioners and fridges could be switched off remotely by power companies during peak times under plans to rein in households' demand for electricity.

The option is among measures being considered as part of a national review of the management of domestic power use.

The Ministerial Council on Energy has initiated the Australian Energy Market Commission review in response to the nation's increasing demand for power.

The council is seeking ways to ease the demand for electricity during extremely cold nights and exceptionally hot days, to avoid the need for energy companies to build more power stations.

AEMC chairman John Pierce said the investment in infrastructure to guarantee electricity supply during peak periods was contributing to rising power bills.

He said the review was looking at options whereby power companies would remotely turn off appliances for a set period, in return for a lower bill.

Those signing on to such a scheme could see their airconditioner or fridge turned off for 30 minutes during a peak period every five hours.

When the airconditioner or fridge came back on, a neighbour's airconditioner or fridge would be turned off, resulting in an easing of electricity demand during a peak, Mr Pierce said.

He said homes would be required to be fitted with smart meters to allow energy companies and households to communicate electronically.

He said alternative options to manage power were necessary if families were to avoid further price rises.

"The plasma TVs and airconditioners are the obvious things, but a lot more people also now have pool pumps and larger refrigeration systems, all of which are increasing demand for power," Mr Pierce said.

"This option is one way to help electricity suppliers manage peak demand, while also offering a cheaper price for customers."

AEMC is seeking comment on its proposals until the end of the month. A public forum will be held in December. A final report will be sent to the Federal Government in September next year.


Boy's public hospital death avoidable, says NSW Coroner

Negligent emergency room doctor who was sure she knew better than some mere GP

THE death of a seriously ill eight-year-old boy in hospital after a series of failures by doctors was a tragedy that could have been avoided, a coroner says.

NSW Deputy State Coroner Scott Mitchell today concluded Jacob Belim died of septic shock after a ruptured appendix which led to peritonitis at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children at Westmead, on March 28, 2009.

Handing down his findings at Glebe Coroner's Court, the coroner said Jacob's GP had correctly diagnosed him after complaints of stomach pain, and - knowing he needed urgent surgery - phoned an ambulance to take him to hospital.

The coroner criticised Dr Claire Ferreira, the emergency department registrar at Liverpool Hospital, saying that her failure during her examination to adequately consult the notes and read the GP's letter of referral, and her failure to arrange an ultrasound, led to a misdiagnosis.

This contributed to a degree of uncertainty, confusion and delay in Jacob's treatment, he said.

Another doctor directed he be transferred to the Children's Hospital at Westmead, where Dr Ferreira spoke to a doctor, probably Bhaveshkumar Patel, who recalled he had been informed the boy had a possible bowel obstruction.

The coroner said Dr Ferreira hadn't ensured prompt antibiotic therapy and adequate hydration, which placed Jacob in danger and may have led to significant delay once he arrived at Westmead.

Dr Patel said that contrary to the view of Liverpool doctors, he thought it was most likely appendicitis or a burst appendix and the appropriate course was surgery. But he maintained an ultrasound was needed first. "Both of these matters could and should have been properly dealt with at Liverpool," the coroner said.

Jacob died about 2.30am during emergency surgery.

The coroner said a fundamental reason why the surgery was not performed at 7.15pm was because the surgical team "still hankered after a diagnosis of bowel obstruction and still had doubts about a burst appendix". "It was tragic what happened and could have been avoided," the coroner said.

Jacob's parents, who told the inquest their son was a "gentle, kind, honest and funny" boy, said they plan to launch civil proceedings.


Another Labor party thug

Not unexpected from a party that not long ago elected a foul-mouthed bully -- Mark Latham -- to be their leader

UNDER-FIRE Labor MP Craig Thomson - already battling claims he authorised union funds to pay for prostitutes - reduced a charity worker to tears in a spittle-laden tirade that has increased pressure on him to resign.

Mr Thomson gave a Salvation Army worker a verbal "bollocking" after a fiery poker machine rally in the NSW Central Coast and allegedly threatened to name and shame her in parliament, reported The Daily Telegraph.

It is claimed that he called her a "disgrace" and threatened to "finish your career". Mr Thomson vehemently denies this but does not deny that there was a dispute.

The incident, which shocked onlookers on Saturday night, is the latest chapter of controversy in the career of Mr Thomson - now dubbed the man most likely to bring down the Gillard government, which is tenuously holding on to a one-seat majority rule.

At the end of the two-hour rally, where he was heckled by angry club members over recent scandals, Mr Thomson charged towards rally moderator Louise Duff. Ms Duff was seated as the Dobell MP, flanked by fellow Labor MP Jill Hall, stood over her and allegedly threatened that he would "publicly name" her in parliament.

Clubs NSW spokesman Jeremy Bath said he witnessed the verbal spray, but Mr Thomson has strenuously denied that he made the threats.

A senior Liberal Party source last night described the incident as "Iguanas all over again" while Labor sources have described the incident as a Liberal Party conspiracy.

The Daily Telegraph spoke with many witnesses at the club, who corroborated the account. Mr Thomson has denied most of the claims, including that Ms Duff had to wipe spittle from her face because he was speaking so close to her.

The 47-year-old said he was angry that he had not been given a "fair go" at the meeting, attended by 1200 club members. He confirmed that he had words with Ms Duff following the rally and later called her to apologise. "You've got a meeting that was stacked. And the claims about what happened afterwards are complete rubbish," Mr Thomson said.

"Jill Hall and I approached Louise at the end of the meeting because she allowed (Senator Concettta) Fierravanti-Wells an open question which was just a spray and we had no right of reply. It wasn't fair. "As I understand now it wasn't Louise's call to make. I apologised for raising that issue with her."

Ms Duff politely declined to discuss the matter yesterday. "I accepted an apology . . . and I wish to move on," she said.


Media a force for democracy

Jessica Brown

Only a few weeks ago, a motley crew of jumpy Ministers and gloating Greens demanded a media inquiry. Now it seems the media – with the help of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws – are doing a better job of upholding democracy than the politicians.

This week, news emerged of a scathing 470-page report into federal Indigenous policies. The Finance Department recommended scrapping 25 separate programs.

A separate government review of the Disability Support Pension showed that many people use the program for early retirement, with as many as two in five 63- and 64-year-old men claiming the benefit.

In the Emerald City, consultancy firm Booz & Co. warned that bus commuters in the Sydney CBD can expect worsening congestion in already overcrowded bus lanes.

South of the border, Victoria Police warned of a cost blow-out and serious problems with recruitment.

These four reports, undertaken or commissioned by government, were all withheld from the public. Presumably, this was because of their embarrassing content.

The reports were only released after Channel 7, The Australian, and The Age made FOI requests.

The Finance Department’s report has highlighted the government’s response to Indigenous disadvantage as weak. It has spent $3.5 billion, and has little to show for it. The report has again kick-started the debate.If it weren’t for Channel 7, this would not have occurred.

Reports of this type should be published as a matter of course. Taxpayers foot the bill; they deserve to know the results.

Before worrying about media accountability, perhaps the governments of Australia – federal and state – should be worrying about their own.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 12 August. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

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