Monday, February 06, 2012

Leftist hatred of Qantas

Unionists don't care if they destroy their own jobs. They just want a win

QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce has said he has "grave fears" for the future of the airline if laws are changed to increase wages for international staff and to keep heavy maintenance in Australia.

Mr Joyce also told a Senate Inquiry the Qantas Group may have to sell its budget offshoot Jetstar and withdraw from services connecting Darwin and Cairns to Asia and Europe if the amendments go ahead.

Mr Joyce and Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan are facing a grilling at the inquiry in Canberra today.

Among the issues the inquiry will address is the possibility that Jetstar has broken Australian immigration laws by bringing in foreign flight attendants at lower wages on long daily rosters to work domestic flights.

The committee met twice last November to consider two bills - one concerning flight crew arrangements and the other the enforcement of the intent of the original Qantas Sale Act of 1992.

Mr Joyce said he had "grave fears for the future of Qantas" if the legislative proposals come into effect.

Amendments to the Qantas Sale Act, which was introduced to ensure Qantas remained a majority Australian-owned flag carrier while also answering to shareholders, would strangle its capacity to run its business, he said.

Senator Nick Xenophon's proposed amendments include requiring that a Qantas Group airline such as Jetstar conduct the majority of its heavy maintenance in Australia. "Jetstar would then be confronting competitors who enjoy a lower cost base by doing virtually none of their heavy maintenance in Australia," Mr Joyce said.

"Those of us running Qantas would have to face a choice: allow Jetstar to fail within the confines of the Qantas Sale Act, or sell it to allow it to succeed outside it."

Mr Joyce also said amendments to the Cabin Crew Bill would destroy jobs, especially in regional Australia. "Whenever Qantas Group airlines use foreign crew and Australian crew on the same flights, Australian crew operate under Australian wages and conditions and foreign-based crews on the terms and conditions of their domicile country where they are employed and where they live," he said. "This is standard practice adopted by airlines all over the world."

Mr Joyce said this occurred on a limited number of flights within Australia involving a domestic sector of an international flight, enabling it to service regional destinations such as Cairns and Darwin.

"If the amendments are passed, and international crews are treated as Australian in terms of wages and conditions on domestic legs of international flights, we will no longer be able to viably operate those international services," he said.

"The proposed amendments would quite simply force the Qantas Group to withdraw from services connecting Darwin and Cairns to the tourism and trade markets of Asia and Europe."

Mr Joyce said Qantas must adapt or die.


Call for overhaul of emergency ward wait times

REDUCING the time patients spend in hospital emergency departments to under four hours saves lives, a new study suggests.

Researchers studied six Perth hospital emergency departments before and after the introduction of a "four-hour rule" which aimed to discharge or admit 90 per cent of patients within that time.

They reported a 13 per cent reduction in the number of deaths in the three largest hospitals. That equated to about 80 lives in 2010/11.

"The introduction of the four-hour rule encouraged hospitals as a whole to share the responsibility for, and help solve the problem of overcrowding in EDs," the researchers wrote in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.

"This whole-of-hospital approach appears to have led to better communication between the EDs and the wards, with an increased appreciation of each other's problems and challenges.

"While these findings apply to the West Australian health system, there is no reason to suspect that other Australian health systems should fare differently if their hospitals similarly commit to whole-of-hospital reform."

The latest Queensland Health figures show only 69 per cent of patients requiring a hospital bed in December were admitted to one within eight hours of arrival at an ED.

Commenting on the research, Canberra-based emergency specialist Drew Richardson said new national emergency access targets, to be rolled out in 2012, would progressively require a higher proportion of ED patients to be treated within a four-hour time frame.

Professor Richardson, of the Australian National University Medical School, said although he supported the four-hour targets, he called for more research.

"This study suggests very firmly that there was a reduction of death rates in association with the reduction in time spent in the ED, but it doesn't prove it," he told The Courier-Mail.

"We require more data. One of the things the study did not look at was people who died outside of hospital. You've got to be absolutely sure people aren't going home from hospital and dying. I don't think they are but that is something you've got to be sure of. "A more definitive study is required."

In a separate Medical Journal Australia article, Judy Lowthian, of Melbourne's Centre of Research Excellence in Patient Safety, and colleagues, suggested a significant redesign of the emergency health care system would be needed to achieve four-hour targets.

"Current models of emergency and primary care are failing to meet community needs at times of acute illness," they wrote.

"Given these trends, the proposed four-hour targets in 2012 may be unachievable unless there is significant redesign of the whole system."


Muslim privacy comes at a cost to ratepayers

Why can't the local mosque cough up?

RATEPAYERS will pay for a $21,000 blowout in the cost of special curtains to protect Muslim women's privacy during female-only exercise classes at a suburban pool. Monash Council has approved the extra cash, bringing the cost of the curtains to more than $66,000.

Last year, it won an exemption from anti-discrimination laws to run the women-only sessions at its Clayton pool, but failed to get a Victorian Multicultural Commission grant to pay for the curtains.

Monash councillor Denise McGill yesterday questioned the amount. "We could have bought 600 (Islamic) swimsuits for the price we are paying for the curtains," she said. Cr McGill said she did not oppose the sessions, but believed the money could be better spent.

Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Nazeem Hussain said: "The purchase of these curtains, and whether they are too expensive, is a decision for the councillors to make, and if the constituents aren't happy ... they are able to object."

Monash Mayor Stefanie Perri said it was wrong to say the sessions were only for Muslims or other minorities. "This ... will allow women from all backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy a girls' night out in Clayton and will include a series of dry exercise programs, including Zumba and yoga classes," Cr Perri said.

As reported in the Herald Sun last year, the push for the sessions came from a group of mainly African Muslim women. Council accepted a screen was needed for "cultural reasons". Women will pay a fee for the classes.

The extra money needed for the curtains will be drawn from Monash pool funds.


John Roskam and the IPA -- a conservative crusade

John Roskam’s political sensibilities were kindled at age 14, when he read George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in one night. Combined with his parents’ small-business, anti-Communist leanings, the book inspired a passion for free market liberalism that continues 30 years later.

“You could not be anything other than in favour of the individual and individual choice after reading “Animal Farm”, says Roskam, 44, the executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). “It highlights the dangers of unrestrained collective action.”

Just don’t label Roskam – or the IPA – as “right-wing”. “If journalists describe the IPA as right wing, I email or ring them and ask them how is the IPA right wing?” he says. “Right wing is Pauline Hanson.”

Roskam prefers to describe the IPA, which he has led since 2005, as a free market think tank. Over the past four years, its member numbers have soared from 300 to 1500, taking its budget to $2.4 million, and broadening its funding base from big corporates to individuals.

“The Gillard government is bad for Australia but good for the IPA – we’re expanding,” says Roskam, but adds that all so-called “independent” think tanks need to diversify away from corporate funding.

His CV is a classic think tank mix of law, commerce, academia and politics, plus a stint at global mining company Rio Tinto. Indeed, it was a fellow law student at Melbourne University, John Daley - who now leads the Grattan Institute - who suggested that Roskam apply for his first job at the Liberal Party, as a junior research assistant for Victorian MP Don Hayward.

Roskam worked with Hayward for two years from 1990, when Hayward was shadow education minister, then for a heady year after Premier Jeff Kennett came to power in 1992 and shut hundreds of schools.

He continued his education focus with two years in David Kemp’s Canberra office, when Kemp was education minister for the Howard Government. As a senior adviser, then chief of staff, he says politics taught him the importance of working closely with people, especially in the public service.

“Successful reform, whether in the corporate sphere or the public sector, requires commitment and buy in and participation from all the people involved,” he says.

After two years working in corporate affairs for Rio Tinto in Melbourne and London, Roskam returned to Australia to begin a PhD on Robert Menzies, which he hopes to one day finish. “I have 80,000 words of a PhD and 200,000 words of notes.”

It was not long before he was back in politics, however, spending a year as executive director of Liberal Party think tank The Menzies Research Centre in Canberra, before moving to Melbourne to join the IPA.

As for the biggest issue facing Australia in 2012, Roskam says the country must take advantage of its economic strength to lift educational standards.

“Even with the GFC, Australians have become accustomed to living in a boom, but we are not taking advantage of it,” he says. “Our productivity is declining, our education standards are still low – I spent eight or nine years in education policy – and we still have a very high proportion of underachieving students, including year 10 students who can’t read.”



Paul said...

A 13 percent reduction in the number of deaths "for the hospital"? Did they follow up the study to see how many patients died following early discharge? These numbers on their own mean nothing unless you know so much more about the patient population itself.

Paul said...

And another point. This one I know well. Quick discharge from ED for patients already dying and un-saveable is a great way to make the figures look good, even if it delays admission for someone who CAN be helped.