Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Slipper looks like a slip-up for Julia

Will it bring on an early election?  It seems possible.

Leftists normally screech loudly about sexual harassment but Gillard  appears indifferent to this episode.  Perhaps homosexual harassment is OK?

KEY independent MP Rob Oakeshott says he is "open minded" on a no confidence motion that might be moved against the Gillard Government in the wake of the scandal to engulf controversial MP, Peter Slipper.

Mr Oakeshott said this afternoon he was "frustrated", "despondent" and "pretty angry" at the latest turn of events, saying if allegations made against Mr Slipper were proven true, it would turn out to be "the darkest days of this 43rd parliament".

Mr Oakeshott hasn't ruled out withdrawing his support from the government on the floor of the House of Representatives. "I'm open minded on a no confidence motion that may come before the House in May in regards the speakership," the federal NSW MP told ABC Radio.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said: "One of the really worrying features of the Prime Minister's attempt to explain herself away, to explain her actions away, is that she's essentially making light of sexual harassment.

"I mean, to suggest that sexual harassment and the misuse, the quite possibly fraudulent use of Commonwealth entitlements is on a par with those other issues just shows again that this Prime Minister does get bit.

"She just doesn't get  it when it comes to the seriousness of this and the appalling cloud that now hangs over, not just the Parliament, but her and her Government."


The embattled Queensland MP, who was forced to step aside yesterday following The Daily Telegraph's revelations of alleged sexual harassment and Cabcharge misuse - also faces questions over a mystery Townsville taxi trip on June 1 last year. Mr Slipper was in Canberra on the date the taxi fare was booked.

A Daily Telegraph investigation has now uncovered a raft of apparent breaches of Commonwealth entitlements by Mr Slipper. These include a number of questionable taxi fares, including a short ride from Pascoe Vale to Carlton in inner-city Melbourne that took place at 4.19am (EST).

He also flew to Melbourne to interview a potential adviser for a role in his electorate office on the Queensland Sunshine Coast.

And in a further blow to Mr Slipper - who now faces a lengthy and potentially costly court battle to clear his name - it can be revealed that one of his most trusted advisers, Tim Knapp, is being questioned by the Australian Federal Police over two matters.

One of these involves the illegal use of a Commonwealth fuel card - which was in Mr Slipper's name - and was used in a private vehicle.

The AFP is also investigating claims that Mr Knapp may have engaged in fraud against the Commonwealth by taking leave from Mr Slipper's office, even after he had been paid out for these entitlements.

Mr Slipper, who has been forced to repay more than $20,000 in wrongly claimed entitlements, is prevented from using taxpayer funds for blatant political or "party business", according to Finance Department guidelines issued to every federal MP.

And yet in March 2010, he spent more than $3000 to help a good friend, Jillian Law, as she campaigned for a seat in the Tasmanian parliament as a member of the Liberal Party.

On March 5, 2010 - just two weeks before the Tasmanian election - the then Liberal backbencher flew to Melbourne where travel records show he caught a taxi from Pascoe Vale to inner-city Carlton at 4.19am.

A few hours later, he flew to Hobart for the sole purpose of speaking at a fundraiser for Ms Law, who only managed to attract 800 votes at the March 20 election and failed to secure a seat.


Negligent Vietnamese doctor now practising in Australia

There have been other instances of East Asian doctors not relating well to indigenous people.  The attitudinal and cultural gaps can be too wide to transcend fully  -- leading to a dismissive attitude on the part of the doctor

A baby too weak to suck from a bottle, with a high temperature and losing weight rapidly, was sent home three times by doctors in the two weeks before she died.

A New Zealand coroner has found that the last doctor who saw three-month-old Skylah Vaimalu should have sent her to hospital.

But he is powerless to make any recommendations against Dr Huu Hoai Nam Nguyen because Dr Nguyen is now practising in Australia.

Skylah died at her home in Arawhata Street, Porirua, on September 1, 2007. Wellington coroner Ian Smith's long-awaited findings into her death have just been released.

Born in May that year, the fourth daughter of Travilla Pupuke and Mosa Vaimalu, Skylah was a bubbly baby. "She was a very happy baby," her mother said yesterday.

Shortly after Skylah received her vaccination injections in August 2007 she developed flu-like symptoms. Ms Pupuke gave her Pamol but, by August 19, her cough had a high pitch and she had diarrhoea.

The next day she took Skylah to Waitangirua Health Centre, where the baby was diagnosed as having bronchiolitis and continued paracetamol was prescribed.

Later that afternoon, she developed a high temperature and was bleeding from the nose. Her mother took her to the emergency department at Kenepuru Hospital, but the doctor was not concerned, again diagnosing bronchiolitis.

In the following days, Skylah remained very sick and continued to lose weight. On August 29, Ms Pupuke again took her to Waitangirua Health Centre, where she was seen by locum Dr Nguyen. Skylah was dehydrated, had severe diarrhoea, was pale and losing weight.

Dr Nguyen again diagnosed bronchiolitis, prescribing Histafen. He told Ms Pupuke that, if Skylah would not take a bottle, she should feed her with a syringe. "Ms Pupuke felt that her concerns for her daughter's health were being ignored," Mr Smith says in his findings.

On August 31, the family continued to monitor Skylah and give her medication. By this time her breathing was heavy, her skin was pale and she had trouble sleeping.  At 1.45am on September 1, she was given formula with a syringe.  "Ms Pupuke was now exhausted and fell asleep but, when she awoke between 7.30am and 8am, she found her daughter deceased."

Pathologist Jane Zuccollo found Skylah lost 1.5kg in 10 days, from 7kg to 5.5kg. The coroner concluded she died from sudden unexpected death in infancy after suffering bronchopneumonia.

Wellington Hospital general and community paediatrician Nikki Blair completed a review of the medical care Skylah received. In a statement, she told the court that Skylah should have gone to hospital.

"Dr Blair was also critical of Dr Nguyen's suggestion of providing a syringe for feeding as being inadequate for a baby too weak to suck," Mr Smith said.  "Had Dr Nguyen still been practising in New Zealand, I would have recommended that he receive more formal training in paediatric medicine, but I understand that he now resides and practises in Australia."

Ms Pupuke, who has since also moved to Australia, said: "It's very hard to understand that Mr Nguyen, being the last doctor that saw her, did not admit her. I feel strongly that her health and wellbeing was not much of a concern for them. I do feel I've been let down – me and my family, but mostly my daughter."

The Medical Council issued Dr Nguyen with a certificate of good standing before he left, unaware of this case until contacted by The Dominion Post yesterday. Spokesman George Symmes said it would hold a complaints hearing next week.

Waitangirua Health Centre chairman Logan McLennan said there had been no concerns about Dr Nguyen's performance.


Compensation claim fears cramp students after classmate sues girl over tennis mishap

COMPENSATION claims against schools for playground and sporting field accidents are creating a "nanny state" harmful to children's health, a childhood obesity expert says.

Professor Geoff Cleghorn said a growing number of compensation claims by students and parents could lead to more schools banning or restricting sports and outdoor activities.

His concerns follow revelations in The Courier-Mail that Julia Wright-Smith, 13, a student at prestigious Somerset College, was served with legal papers by lawyers acting for architect Paul Burns, whose daughter Finley was allegedly accidentally hit in the eye with a tennis ball by Julia, her classmate.

Other Queensland schools have also moved to ban activities including tiggy, red rover and cartwheels because of injury fears and a flood of compensation claims.

Prof Cleghorn, from the University of Queensland, said accidents happened in the playground and risks could be eliminated only if all sports and outdoor games were banned.  "If you try to legislate against every element of chance, you're not going to have them (activities)," he said.  "In the drive to provide a caring and nurturing environment, you could be creating a nanny state. I feel strongly that kids should be out exercising."

An investigation by The Courier-Mail in 2010 found Queensland state schools had been successfully sued for thousands of dollars for playground and sporting field accidents.  They included lawsuits by children injured while doing handstands, running on the school oval and being thrown in a judo demonstration.

But compensation law expert Mark O'Connor, of Brisbane firm Bennett and Philp lawyers, said most school sport injuries lawsuits were thrown out.

"Sports injuries rarely succeed in the courts because the courts expect people doing physical sports to be aware of any possible risks involved," Mr O'Connor said.

But the Burns' lawyer, Mark Frampton, said there was "nothing malicious" in the case and Finley had to serve legal papers on Julia in case she suffered long-term eye damage and needed to mount a compensation claim "down the track".  Mr Frampton said the Burns family was required to give notice of a potential claim.


The impossible dream:  Firing hospital bureaucrats

It appears to have happened in South Australia but it's mostly just a reshuffle

MORE than 50 full-time bureaucrats will be axed from the state Health Department.

In a statement late yesterday, SA Health chief executive David Swan said 53 full-time equivalent staff would lose their jobs in a savings measure expected to rein in $10 million a year. The cuts equate to each job being worth nearly $190,000 a year.

Front line staff and service delivery would not be affected.  "All of these roles are located within the Department for Health and Ageing, not in our hospitals," Mr Swan said.

Earlier this month, Health Minister John Hill admitted his department would not be able to meet savings targets set for it by Treasurer Jack Snelling.

Mr Hill also banned flexitime for senior employees to save up to $13 million a year. The department was supposed to shed more than 440 full-time equivalent public servants this year but had only managed to shed 70 by December last year.  The Health department is facing a projected overspend of $125 million in 2011-12.

Mr Swan said the department was "continuously looking at ways to identify efficiencies to ensure funds are directed into services".

"In line with this, the department has conducted a review of activities over the past few months which has resulted in a restructure," he said.

"The review has led to the reduction of 53 FTE positions through targeted voluntary separation packages and redeployment. These positions were situated across a number of head office functions, including communications and policy."

Mr Swan said the review also identified additional savings in goods and services expenditure throughout the department. In addition to the review, a further 22.4 FTE vacant positions were declared "excess to requirements" as part of the existing savings strategies.  This brings the total number of positions to be reduced by 75.4 FTE.

"We are always looking at how we can improve the way we do business and continue to deliver world-class health services to South Australians," Mr Swan said.


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