Sunday, September 18, 2011

A shot across the bows for anyone who tries to gain from Gillard's carbon tax legislation

Since the government will almost certainly be turfed out at the next election (a maximum of two years away now), businesspeople would be wise to sit on their hands until then

COMPENSATION given to households and industry under the government's proposed carbon tax would be removed if the coalition wins the next election and unwinds the legislation, the Opposition says.

Debate will resume on the government's carbon price legislative package this week, with the opposition continuing to maintain it will not support it.

Not only has the opposition vowed to remove the legislation if it wins office, it says it will remove various compensation measures attached to it. "Well, we have to," shadow treasurer Joe Hockey told Sky News on Sunday. "We've committed to removing the carbon tax. I don't think it's hard to introduce legislation to abolish the carbon tax."

Further pressed on whether he thought it might be difficult to unwind the tax once it was legalised, he replied "No, I don't."

The government wants a $23-a-tonne fixed price on carbon to start on July 1, 2012, followed by a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015 - with the aim of cutting 160 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2020.

The carbon price will be accompanied by compensation for households and industry, new statutory authorities and extra funding for clean-energy projects, as well as a tender process to close down some of the dirtiest coal-fired power generators.

Mr Hockey said he did not believe it would be a problem removing compensation given to households and industries.

"We have sent a very clear message to business that if you enter into an agreement with the government, do not assume that we will not come along and try to unwind it," he said.


Tough "asylum seeker" laws proposed by Australia's Leftist Federal government

Conservatives dubious

Under the legislation the Immigration Minister could send asylum seekers to a third country of his choice.

Legal experts say they are concerned the draft legislation allowing asylum seekers to be processed offshore may be structured so it cannot be challenged in court.

The proposed changes to the Migration Act were announced on Friday night and have drawn strong criticism from the Opposition, the Greens and human rights advocates. Under the changes, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen would have broad powers to send refugees to a third country for processing if he can prove to Parliament that it is in the public interest.

The Government needs the changes to be allowed in order to resurrect the so-called Malaysian solution which was scuttled in the High Court last month.

Mr Bowen has stood by the draft legislation even after being heckled and chased by protesters at a press conference in Sydney on Saturday.

Among those against the changes are legal experts, who say the legislation would shred Australia's obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention. Australian Lawyers Alliance president Greg Barns says he is concerned Mr Bowen will include a clause in the legislation that would mean the powers cannot be challenged in court. "Which means that it will say that a decision of the Minister is not appealable in any court of law in Australia," he said. "In other words, it'll just leave it to the Minister effectively to play God, with people's lives."

But he says even if that is the case the laws may still be open to challenge as Australia has obligations under international human rights conventions. "It may be that this particular clause is so offensive through the rule of law that the courts might find creative ways of dealing with it," he said.

David Manne, the lawyer who bought the landmark case to the High Court, says the draft changes would destroy human rights safeguards for asylum seekers. "These proposals go well beyond what the Government said the problem was that it wanted to fix after the High Court decision," he said.

"It's a matter of profound concern that they're seeking to strip the Act of key protections that the Minister was required to turn his mind to in deciding whether it was safe to expel someone
to a particular place; requirements that the Parliament agreed to a decade ago."

The draft legislation says it is for the Immigration Minister to decide which countries should be designated as offshore processing countries and the rules of natural justice would no longer apply. All the Minister would have to do is tell Parliament which country he plans to send asylum seekers to and why it is in the public interest.

The Government proposes the Minister gives Parliament a copy of any written agreement between Australia and the third country, but the agreement would not have to be binding.

Despite being mobbed by about 40 protesters shouting "shame Bowen, shame", Mr Bowen has stood by the proposal. "The government of the day should have the capacity to introduce its policies, to be accountable to parliament to do so. That's what our legislation proposes," he said. "As I've said, if there are constructive suggestions as to that legislation, we'll be happy to work those through in good faith, with people proposing them in good faith."

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was briefed on the changes on Friday night and Mr Bowen has urged him to support the Government's plans. Mr Abbott so far appears unlikely to back the move, saying it would remove human rights protections, resulting in a system of "offshore dumping". "My initial response and that of my senior colleagues is that the draft legislation strips out protections that the Howard government thought was necessary," Mr Abbott said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has invited Mr Abbott to meet her on Monday to discuss offshore processing, saying despite their policy differences it is important to work towards "bipartisan
action" to restore a government's right to determine border protection policy.


Do bureaucrats hate volunteer workers? (1)

The ones in charge of the Qld. SES seem to

AN SES storm hero awarded for her dedication and bravery was stood down for six weeks because she forgot to wear her hat.

Brisbane State Emergency Service group leader Jan Irons was one of the organisation's shining examples, receiving two awards during her 31 years in the SES.

She received the Australia Day Emergency Services Medal in 2002 after placing herself in "very real personal danger" on helicopter rescue missions.

Three years ago she was named SES Member of the Year, and was presented the award by Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts at a Brisbane ceremony.

"Jan is regarded throughout the state as one (of) the most dedicated and hard- working members of the SES," Mr Roberts said at the time. "She is the kind of volunteer who gives 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time."

But the praise faltered this year when Ms Irons was suspended from her group leader role for six weeks after arriving at an Anzac Day parade without her SES hat.

Ms Irons confirmed the disciplinary action when contacted by The Sunday Mail last week but said she had accepted the punishment as an order had been issued ahead of the parade for members to wear their hats.

However, she described feeling "disappointed" by the reaction.

"It was threatening rain. I was standing in the shade of a building. I had all the sunscreen on and I just didn't think about the hat," she said.

"I brought it with me. It was in the car. I just didn't think to put it on. The whole thing was so trivial. I disobeyed an order, so you pay the consequences."

Ms Irons said she was able to continue as an SES volunteer during the suspension, with a fellow volunteer temporarily stepping in as group leader.

News of the disciplinary action comes weeks after The Sunday Mail revealed frustrated volunteers were quitting over excessive safety rules and training requirements.

David Fahy has resigned from the SES after almost 30 years of volunteering over disciplinary action against another SES volunteer.

"I believe that gunboat diplomacy and military discipline have no place within a volunteer organisation like the SES," he wrote in his resignation letter.

An Emergency Management Queensland spokeswoman said Ms Irons was not suspended for failing to wear a hat, but for her "inappropriate response to the direction to wear a hat".

She said a directive to volunteers to wear broad-brimmed hats was in the SES Operations Doctrine, reinforced at this year's Anzac Day parade.


Do bureaucrats hate volunteer workers? (2)

The ones in charge of the Qld. rural firefighters seem to

RURAL firefighters say unrealistic training requirements are forcing volunteers to follow the example of their SES counterparts and quit the service.

Repetitious training, over-regulation and a broken prior-learning recognition scheme have been accused of pushing Rural Fire Service volunteers to the limit.

"There is that enormous frustration of people going through training levels then having to repeat them again and again because of some slight change," Rural Fire Brigade Association CEO Dick Irwin said. He said the problem was discouraging members at a critical time for the service, with prime conditions for a menacing bushfire season.

Training problems were among issues discussed at a Rural Fire Service conference in Cairns this weekend. Firefighter Ian Bell from Colosseum, south of Gladstone, said members were struggling to find time outside of their full-time jobs for repetitive training exercises. "They continually forget that we are volunteers," he said.

"Most of the people in this area, having lived on the land, they know more about the fires than the people doing the training anyway."

It comes as government documents substantiate claims in last week's Sunday Mail that more than 5000 SES volunteers had quit the service. The documents reveal 12,818 active SES volunteers and another 10,000 inactive members were identified following a 2001 audit. That compares to about 7000 active volunteers today.

Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts had previously denied a dramatic drop, saying clear records were not kept until a few years ago. "There were a lot of inactive members included on the list," he said of old SES records.

But former SES deputy director John Baker said an audit in 2001 had separated active volunteers from inactive members as part of an equipment roll-out. "It was imperative at the time that accurate numbers were established," Mr Baker, who worked for the SES from 1993 to 2006 as a paid employee, said.

He believed the SES had been starved of support and resources by the State Government for decades, resulting in volunteers leaving the organisation. Mr Roberts last week said a new SES funding package would provide another $9.9 million over five years on SES support and buy 56 new flood boats.



Four current articles below

Flying doctor service "too busy" to pick up badly injured boy from a remote location

A CENTRAL Queensland mother had to drive almost 200km to save her son because there were no doctors in her district and the Royal Flying Doctor Service was unavailable.

Riley Godwin, 8, ruptured his liver and suffered internal bleeding after falling off his pushbike and landing on the handlebars. "He was bruised on that side and in considerable pain so I rang the RFDS but they were busy," Tricia Godwin said.

"They were great and offered me advice and we thought we might be dealing with a fractured rib so I thought it best to take him to Emerald. "But by the time we got to Emerald he was quite sick."

The Godwins live on a cattle station in the central highlands, 200km south of Emerald, with their own RFDS airstrip.

They are no strangers to dealing with emergencies. "When you live out of town you learn to deal with the fact there is not going to be a doctor, or the skill level you get when you see some doctors is not there," she said. "It is not a position you like to be put in for the health of your family. "Yeah, I was afraid, but the adrenalin kicks in and you do what you have to do as a mother."

Mrs Godwin drove straight past Springsure because she "knew there would be no doctor there and it was best to keep going". By this stage, Riley was in considerable pain and going into shock.

He was stabilised at Emerald and was then airlifted to Brisbane to the Mater Children's Hospital for emergency treatment. The accident happened at noon and mother and son arrived at the Mater at 1am the next morning. He spent nine days in hospital recovering.


Babies die because of inadequate facilities at government hospitals

TWO babies have died and premature births have risen by more than 19 per cent in small hospitals not equipped for women to give birth, confidential data obtained by The Sunday Mail reveals.

The obstetric data shows maternity services are "high risk" and "vulnerable" at remote Queensland hospitals because of a reduction in qualified doctors and closure of operating theatres.

More than 50 doctors were briefed on rural obstetrics in a closed session at the annual conference of the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland. The data has been provided to Queensland Health.

Doctors were told that small rural hospitals with fewer than 250 births each year needed to "as a matter of urgency" implement "risk-management strategies". Verified obstetric data from 2009 shows more women "are having babies at facilities they shouldn't be". Ten extra level one hospitals, where there is no planned birthing or maternity services, have had deliveries since 2005.

The two baby deaths, the reasons for which are not explained in the report, occurred at hospitals with fewer than eight births each year. The number of premature births at level one facilities increased by 19.5 per cent in one year.

Health Workforce Queensland is a non-profit corporation that recruits medical professionals for remote areas. Its chief executive officer Chris Mitchell said maternity services were "woeful".

"There is a harsh reality the number of procedural doctors and midwives required and operating theatres that are functioning have reduced," Mr Mitchell said.

More than half of Queensland's maternity units have been closed since 1995, most of them in regional and remote areas. Mr Mitchell said there also had been "dumbing down of personnel" as well as a lack of equipment. "Then a woman having a baby presents and it is a disaster in the making," he said.

Queensland Health acting deputy director-general Bronwyn Nardi said state and federal governments were working to improve access to birthing for rural and regional Queenslanders.

"Queensland Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing have renewed the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program for another year to June 2012, expanding it to include maternity services," she said.


85-year-old has heart surgery cancelled repeatedly

SIX times in two years Lionel Davis has readied himself for elective surgery to treat his heart condition. Each time the 85-year-old Port Pirie grandfather has been forced to endure the cancellation of his much-needed heart valve replacement and bypass surgery.

On every occasion he has made the 200km trip down to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, including twice where he was admitted, had blood taken and was prepped for surgery.

Mr Davis, a former farmer and truck driver, said the long-overdue surgery would give him his life back. "If I have this operation, I'll have a better quality of life and I'll be able to get out and do more things," he told the Sunday Mail.

"It's distressing because you build yourself up and the next thing it gets cancelled. "Too often I've been prepared for the operation and then at 9pm the night before they tell me to go home.

"I've had all the tests in the world and it's a 400km round trip, it's frustrating. "It's like being adrift. I'm going round in circles."

Elective surgery is classed as an operation that a doctor believes is necessary, but can wait more than 24 hours. But elective operations are often cancelled when hospital beds are full. SA Health data released last month showed nearly 14,000 patients were waiting for procedures across the state.

During the week, Mr Davis was rushed to the RAH with a suspected heart attack, just three days after his sixth attempt at surgery was again cancelled. His health has now deteriorated to such an extent he was at risk of being deemed unfit for surgery, after being diagnosed with a tumour on his liver and spots on his lungs.

His weight has plummeted 7kg as depression takes hold. Mr Davis said he was definitely stronger two years ago. "If it had all been done two years ago we wouldn't have to worry about these delays," he said. "Now I'm classed as high risk with the cancer I've got, so there's a danger of me not coming out of the operation. "They're worried about the risk of me having a stroke. "But if I had had the operation this would be a moot point.

"I just want to get through the operation so I can come out the other side and go fishing again."

In a statement to the Sunday Mail Royal Adelaide Hospital general manager Professor Villis Marshal apologised to Mr Davis for the cancellation of the planned surgery. "Mr Davis's surgeons decided that a more detailed understanding of the potential risks unique to Mr Davis's situation is required before he is subjected to the procedure," he said. "This has proved to be a complex process and unfortunately has led to the deferral of Mr Davis's case. "He should have been advised of this last week and I apologise for this breakdown in communication."


Family left waiting for an explanation of why their son was killed by a self-important male nurse

THE family of a schoolboy mistakenly sent home to die by a WA hospital are angry they've been waiting 12 months for an inquest date.

On the first anniversary of Andrew's death yesterday, the Allan family spoke of their "torture" at being no closer to getting the answers to bring them closure. Despite Andrew dying 12 months ago, no coronial inquiry date has been set.

Shadow attorney-general John Quigley said the hold-up was a " a calamitous tragedy", and the Government should act immediately to cut the backlog.

Andrew died just hours after an inexperienced male nurse sent him home with junior-strength Panadol and a pamphlet on gastroenteritis from Northam Hospital, 97km northeast of Perth.

He was not referred to a more senior nurse or a doctor standing just metres away in the emergency department, despite having a high temperature, sweating profusely and being barely able to stand.

The cherished urn containing the ashes of the 16-year-old at their home has been the subject of quiet and tearful vigils from his parents James, 47, and Kylie, 43, and their children Emily, 15, and 13-year-old Sean.

Mrs Allan told The Sunday Times the pressure of the inquest delay had changed her personality and put pressure on her marriage. At one point, the stress was so great the couple even considered selling their horse stud farmstead in Caljie, 45km east of Northam. "The last year for us has been torture," Mrs Allan said.

"We feel like we are being penalised when we are the aggrieved party. We are not at fault and have been told nothing. Our son has died after we put our faith and trust in the hospital system.

"This should have been sorted months ago. As each month passes, it just gets worse for us all. We just want to know why this was allowed to happen."

Andrew's death sparked an independent review commissioned by Health Department director-general Kim Snowball and conducted by Prof Bryant Stokes. His report was damning and found the correct triage assessment protocols were ignored and records were not made at the time of Andrew's visit.

The investigation led to sweeping changes in the way emergency patients are now assessed and the installation of CCTV cameras monitoring triage desks and emergency waiting rooms in all WA hospitals.

But the Allans believe Andrew's inquest will hold the key to exactly why their son was turned away in such a desperate state of health and shed light on the questions they long to have answered by the nurse himself.

"The report only shows what I said was all true," Mrs Allan said. "We know what happened, but we want to know how it happened. "What was the nurse's motive? Why did he do what he did? Was he following orders? "The only person who can answer that is him."

The nurse known only as RN-A in Prof Stokes' report has been sacked for failing to co-operate with the investigation. [I suspect that he is queer. A huge ego seems not uncommon among the more overt queers. A huge ego can be disastrous in anyone -- by leading to overconfident decisions]

Paying her respects to her son yesterday, the heartbroken mother realises her biggest challenge will be facing the nurse at the inquest.

The Allans have engaged a high-profile lawyer to represent them and pursue legal action against the State Government, but will not act until after the inquest.

Andrew died after swine flu and a bacterial infection he had at the time went undiagnosed.

Mr Quigley described long inquest delays in WA as a calamitous tragedy for families like the Allans. "How can they (the Allans) move on in their own family life without the resolution of these huge questions?" he said.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the Government had allocated $1.8 million extra funding to the Coroner's Court allowing for six additional staff members and the backlog to be tackled. He said a decision regarding Andrew's inquest was expected to be made soon.



Paul said...

"I suspect that he is queer. A huge ego seems not uncommon among the more overt queers".

I'd go all knee-jerk and say get stuffed on behalf of the collective sisterhood, but then I remember that jumped up old ponce that works in our theaters. I was managing one day and I got him on the phone and within about five seconds he was giving me the whole mememe..I'm in Charge so ner-ner-ner pouty performance. I baited him, trying to get him to make a complaint accusing me of being a homophobe, but it didn't work.

I still think this Nurse (story subject) was more likely an example of those who get over-promoted without the requisite experience, and think the little they know is all there is to know. His lack of co-operation smacks of someone who now knows exactly what he's done but won't fess up. Basically a young thing (Straight guys are also pretty good at pretending to know things they don't know, for fear of looking incompetent) testing out his new-found yet misunderstood authority. Honestly, the training these days just lacks so much depth and relevant detail since they took it out of hospital schools.

jonjayray said...

In my view, the guy's quite extraordinary degree of stiff-neckedness has to be attributed to something out of the ordinary but we can only speculate what that is

But I still stick to my suspicion that if you or I had a conversation with him for just 5 minutes we would know what it was

Paul said...

I'll be interested to see how this story progresses. So far he's not looking too impressive is he.