Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Famous entrepreneur calls for more philanthropy

I think Dick Smith has a point below. He overlooks the very important fact that competition between Coles and Woolworths is benefiting all Australians in the form of lower prices so I don't agree that Coles should pull back from its marketing strategy.

At the risk of sounding like a Leftist, however, it does seem rather obscene to me that people with lots of money don't use a substantial part of it to help others. I give money away constantly as does Dick Smith so both of us do literally put our money where our mouths are. One might also note that both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are in the process of giving most of their money away to worthy causes

And philanthropy is much more efficient than taxes. Government inefficiency and waste is legenday whereas philanthropy will generally get the money straight to the intended beneficiary -- JR

COLES boss Ian McLeod is destroying the livelihoods of Australian farmers with a "new form of extreme capitalism", says entrepreneur Dick Smith. The criticism follows reports the supermarket chief pocketed a $15.6 million pay cheque for 2010/11.

"Where does this extra money come from?" asked Mr Smith, a former retail electronics king and one-time Australian of the Year. "This salary and most of Coles' increase in profit clearly comes directly from Aussie farmers and Aussie processors as they are destroyed by this new form of extreme capitalism."

Coles sales have soared under Mr McLeod, with a 21 per cent lift in earnings last financial year. Mr McLeod's reward was a total salary of $15.6 million for the 12 months to June, including $11 million in bonuses.

Mr Smith said the flip side of "this greed" would be a crisis in rural areas, with "country towns boarded up, more rural suicides".

"Aussie farmers are now ploughing in their crops and Aussie processors are sacking workers and closing down because they cannot sell at a price that will even cover their costs because of the huge push by Coles to buy at lower and lower prices," he said in a statement. "Why keep pushing down down prices are down - and putting more and more Aussie farmers and workers on the scrap heap?"

Last Christmas, Mr Smith labelled chief executives of Australia's big four banks greedy.

Then last month he threatened to name and shame rich people who don't contribute to the community, saying if they don't want to open their wallets they can "rack off".

Mr Smith said the rich in the US donate about 15 per cent of their income, while Australia's wealthy give less than one per cent.

Today he called on Mr McLeod to "give something back". "Ian McLeod, you've done incredibly well out of Australia ...," he said. "I look forward to hearing that you are fulfilling your obligation as a wealthy person and have become well known publicly as a major philanthropist."


Australian generosity towards those in real distress is being diminished by illegal boat arrivals

Australia takes in more asylum seekers per head than any other country. Close to 10 per cent of the refugees resettled worldwide are taken by Australia. But nothing will ever be enough for the Left. The Left WANT the divisions and tensions the boat arrivals are causing. Their "good intentions" are just a mask for the contempt in which they hold their own society

IN the debate over asylum all sides believe there is an answer: and they have it. Human rights advocates argue the only humane course of action is to welcome those who arrive by boat.

The large majority of Australians, however, do not see the asylum issue in such straight-forward human rights terms. A number of surveys during the past 18 months indicate the majority favour policy to deter boat arrivals, including mandatory detention.

An August Nielsen poll found 15 per cent of respondents considered boats should be sent back to sea and another 52 per cent that asylum-seekers should be kept in detention while their claims were assessed.

More detail is available in the Scanlon Foundation surveys, four of which have been conducted since 2007. The just released 2011 findings indicate only 22 per cent favour granting the right of permanent residence to asylum-seekers arriving by boat; 39 per cent favour asylum in Australia, but only on a temporary basis; the remaining 35 per cent want boats to be turned back or the asylum-seeker detained pending deportation.

The value of the Scanlon Foundation surveys is that a broad range of questions (81 in 2011) are asked. This enables consideration of patterns of response and the finding is that attitudes to asylum correlate with a person's values, hence attitudes are not likely to change simply as a result of new factual information.

The advocates for asylum may well respond that if that is public opinion, then it should be ignored; that what we need is leadership and political consensus to do the right thing. But what is right is not so simply determined.

For a start, majority opinion is not simply to be stereotyped as prejudiced. The surveys show that majority opinion supports the humanitarian program, which recruits asylum-seekers overseas. It is just that this support does not extend to irregular arrivals.

Second, a generous reception policy is likely to lead to an increase in boat arrivals, with consequences not simply to be ignored.

How do we know that there will be increased arrivals? We need only examine the pattern of the past decade. In 2000, 2939 asylum-seekers arrived by boat; in 2001, 5516 arrived. In the following six years, with the enactment of the Howard government's Pacific Solution, arrivals were reduced to almost zero; fewer than 100 arrived in 2005 and 2006.

Over these years the number of asylum-seekers worldwide fell, but by nowhere near the almost 100 per cent fall experienced in Australia. When the Howard government policies were changed by Labor, boat arrivals resumed: 2849 in 2009, 6879 in last year, the highest on record. This is the pattern of movement that the human rights advocates are reluctant to face.

Australia has no land borders, it is not easy to get to Australia on a small boat. As such, a negative message from Australia will deter arrivals more effectively than almost any other First World country.

Third, there are other consequences of a generous policy.

A view widely held among asylum advocates is that Australia does not shoulder its responsibilities, leaving care for asylum-seekers to impoverished countries. But Australian governments of various persuasions since the late 1970s have maintained a large humanitarian program: during the past 10 years, 130,000 have been admitted.

It seems to be a secret (for reasons difficult to fathom) that Australia resettles more refugees per capita than any other country: close to 10 per cent of the refugees resettled worldwide are taken by Australia.

In 2009, according to the UN, Australia admitted 11,080 refugees for resettlement; the US, with almost 15 times Australia's population, accepted 79,937. Canada, with a population 1 1/2 times that of Australia, resettled 12,457. No other country accepted a substantial number. For example, Britain resettled 955 refugees, Germany 2069 and The Netherlands 369.

Australia, in consultation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has established a process for assessing asylum-seekers. Under present arrangements, boat arrivals take places from those in the camps from which Australia draws its intake.

Advocates suggest that there is a simple solution: recruit a fixed number overseas and place boat arrivals in another category. But what is a reasonable intake for Australia?

The Greens and the Refugee Council of Australia advocate an increase from the present intake of 14,750 to an offshore intake of 20,000, to be phased in across five years. But how does the government budget for an unknown number of boat arrivals?

It may be that however we argue, there is no solution. Instead of solutions, it makes more sense to think in terms of balance, which will not satisfy all but is likelier to produce a larger measure of agreement than the one-dimensional solutions on offer.

There is an additional point to be considered. A policy that flies in the face of views held in many parts of the community will likely result in the re-emergence of movements similar to One Nation that campaign on issues of national identity and race and heighten opposition to cultural diversity.

An alarming finding of this year's Scanlon Foundation survey is that 44 per cent of respondents consider that racial prejudice in Australia has increased during the past five years.

There is heightened reporting of discrimination and decline of trust in fellow Australians. Trust in the federal government recorded a sharp fall, from a high of 48 per cent in 2009 to 31 per cent last year and to 30 per cent this year.

People - whether for or against asylum rights - are close to unanimous in the view that the government is incapable of dealing with asylum.

There has been erosion of individual connectedness and weakening of communal organisations, key indicators of threats to social cohesion. While not the only cause, the asylum debate has contributed to a heightening of division in Australian society.


That wonderful multiculturalism again

More Muslim aggression

IT was a bloody brawl allegedly sparked by a hamburger with bacon. Now 32 witnesses will be called to give evidence at a hearing about how an incorrect order allegedly led to a violent assault on two police officers at a western Sydney McDonald's in April.

Mouhamad Khaled, 23, his 20-year-old girlfriend Daphne Florence Austin and his father Walid Khaled, 53, have been charged over the brawl at the Bankstown fast food outlet.

In Burwood Local Court yesterday, Magistrate Christopher Longley set a hearing date in February for Austin and Walid Khaled, who have each pleaded not guilty to charges linked to the brawl.

Mr Longley was told the prosecution will call 29 witnesses and the defence will call three people.

Mouhamad Khaled is yet to enter a plea to six charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm on a police officer, and will be dealt with at a separate hearing.

Police allege the trouble began when the group began abusing counter staff because their hamburger contained bacon. Police who were on the premises spoke to Walid Khaled about his alleged offensive behaviour. When he allegedly continued to swear, police tried to arrest him.

Police allege they were assaulted by Mouhamad Khaled and Austin, prompting them to use capsicum spray and batons. As they attempted to restrain Mouhamad Khaled he allegedly grabbed their handcuffs and assaulted them. He struck probationary Constable Matthew Sutherland on the head before swinging them at Senior Constable Alicia Bridges, hitting her.

Austin is charged with assaulting and hindering police, and Walid Khaled with resisting police, behaving in an offensive manner and offensive language. Mouhamad Khaled spent four months in custody before being granted bail in the Supreme Court. Burwood Local Court was told in August that Austin is due to give birth in November.


Cancer patients die waiting for hospital letters

CANCER patients have been kept waiting so long to receive follow-up letters from their specialists that some have died before the advice arrived at their GPs.

A backlog of correspondence needing to be typed up at Westmead Hospital means about 700 people have waited up to three years for the letters to be sent, The Daily Telegraph reported.

In one case, a Sydney doctor received a letter from Westmead about a female patient with advanced skin cancer that had been dictated by a specialist on August 21, 2009, but was not typed up until September 16, 2011. By the time it reached Dr Adrian Sheen the woman had been dead for a year.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner has now ordered a full audit to find out which patients are still alive. She has forced Westmead to hire a host of administration staff starting today and given the hospital three weeks to clear the backlog.

The problem was hidden until Dr Sheen, who is president of GP group Doctors Action, leaked the letter to the journal Medical Observer, to be released today. "It is an absolute, utter disgrace," Dr Sheen told the Medical Observer. "The family doctor is the most important thing in the community, that's the one that gets people through the health system.

"How am I supposed to help a patient when a letter arrives over two years later?" It has now emerged there are another 700 letters dating back as far as March, 2008, that still have not been sent.

The problems began in 2008 when all cancer services departments moved from various parts of Westmead Hospital to the new Cancer Care Centre.

The move gave patients access to a one-stop shop service including cancer surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, clinical haematologists, palliative care and other support specialties. But it also created a huge administrative backlog.

Mrs Skinner has ordered the hospital to slash its clearance deadline from three months to three weeks, with extra staff put on from today. "It is simply unacceptable for GPs to be receiving important letters more than two years after their patients have been referred to oncologists, without anyone even checking whether the patients in question are still alive," she said. "This debacle has come about because the previous government kept slashing staff numbers in Sydney's west, even when it was clear the system and its people were crumbling under the pressure."

Westmead issued an apology to patients, their families and their doctors yesterday. "The Western Sydney Local Health District apologises to patients, their families and their general practitioners affected by this administrative backlog," the hospital said.

It said the Cancer Network upgraded its technology more than 18 months ago with new systems now in place to ensure timely communication between the Cancer Network, patients and their GPs.

There is no suggestion the lateness of the letter caused the death of Dr Sheen's patient, however he said family GPs were often treated with contempt by the hospital system and relations between GPs and public hospitals were at "an all-time low".

The problem is the latest to engulf the state's biggest hospital. Last month the coroner blasted medical staff after a boy died of a ruptured appendix at Westmead Children's Hospital after staff there and at Liverpool failed to notice a warning in a GP's referral letter.

On Sunday it emerged Westmead staff had tagged an 80-year-old woman as a 58-year-old man. Then last week the hospital lost water pressure after "one of the hospital water valves had been inadvertently closed".


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