Saturday, May 19, 2012

Poll finds no Julia Gillard Government MP would survive election in Queensland, with 23% primary vote

Qld. is the "must win" state to form a Federal government

QUEENSLANDERS are waiting to smash Labor out of the state.  Support for federal Labor has collapsed to a mere 23 per cent in Queensland, the latest Galaxy poll conducted exclusively for The Courier-Mail shows.

No federal Labor MPs would be left in the Sunshine State if this result were repeated at the next election.

And the majority of voters say this humiliation would be just desserts for Labor.  Almost 60 per cent of respondents to the poll said Labor deserved to be reduced to a rump of one or two seats in Queensland.

Under Julia Gillard, Labor's primary vote has, for the second time, fallen to the lowest level recorded in the history of the Galaxy poll.  The 23 per cent primary vote marks a slump of more than 10 points since the last election.  It's a decline of seven points since the last state-based federal poll in November and takes Labor back to its low recorded in a Galaxy poll last August.

The Liberal National Party primary vote is now at 56 per cent. This would see Labor crushed in Queensland by 64 per cent to 36 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis, assuming preference flows from the past election.

The collapse in support suggests federal Labor has not gained any benefit after voters took out their anger on former premier Anna Bligh in March.

Galaxy chief David Briggs said the dire poll for federal Labor was in line with the two-party preferred figure observed in the state election.  "Support for the federal Labor Party has slumped in Queensland. Voters look like they are prepared to give Julia Gillard's federal team the same treatment that was meted out to the Bligh government in the recent state election," Mr Briggs said. The poll surveyed 800 people across Queensland last Tuesday and Wednesday.

It came just over a week after the Government used its Budget to promise $5 billion in new handouts to ease cost-of-living pressures for families and people on low incomes.  In the same week, the Government starting running advertisements promoting its coming suite of tax cuts and welfare boosts designed to compensate for the carbon tax.

But community opposition to the carbon tax appears to be growing stronger as the July 1 start date approaches.  Only 25 per cent of voters supported the carbon tax and 72 were opposed, the poll found.  Among Labor supporters, a small majority of 54 per cent supported the carbon tax. But among the LNP supporters who Labor needs to win over, only 8 per cent backed the tax.

Opinions have hardened in the nine months since a Galaxy poll in August found 28 per cent supported the tax and 67 per cent were opposed.


Tony Abbott rejects claim the carbon tax will have trivial impact

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has rejected claims he's "over-egged the pudding" with his warnings on the climate tax.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet yesterday said Australians would realise Mr Abbott had been scaremongering when the tax is implemented in July.

But Mr Abbott is standing by his claims, saying the more people know about the tax the less they like it.

"This is a gratuitous act of economic self-harm," he said at Flemington Markets in Sydney's west today.

"The carbon tax is socialism masquerading as environmentalism.

"The more the public see of the carbon tax, the less they like it.

"I think the public understand that compensation is for today, but the tax is forever and it's going to go up and up and up as time goes on."

From July 1, the Government will make less than 500 of Australia's biggest polluters pay an initial $23 for every tonne of carbon they put into the atmosphere.

This will be followed by a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015.

The aim is to cut 160 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2020.


Quit Facebook or be expelled, school says

A Queensland primary school principal is threatening to expel students aged under 13 who refuse to delete their Facebook accounts, in a bold bid to stamp out cyber bullying at her school.

The policy has been applauded by cyber safety experts who say schools are grappling to deal with a surge in problems caused when children use social media sites designed for adults.

Leonie Hultgren, the principal of Harlaxton State School in Toowoomba, Queensland, has explained the school's new policy in its latest newsletter.

Ms Hultgren wrote that the school expected students would adhere to the Facebook guideline that users must be 13 years old to create an account.

It is not uncommon for primary students aged under 13 to falsify their birthdates to set up a Facebook account.

Ms Hultgren said it was school policy that students and their parents would obey state and Commonwealth laws, as well as the guidelines set by social networking sites, with regard to children's use of such sites. Therefore, she stated, no Harlaxton student aged under 13 was to have a Facebook account.

"Parents should understand that a student who contravenes the law or rule in a digital scenario may need to meet with the Principal to discuss this issue and their continued enrolment at Harlaxton," Ms Hultgren wrote.

The Queensland Education Department’s director for the Toowoomba region, Greg Dickman, said the department, "fully supports the principal in managing these issues at a school level".

He said Queensland state school principals had the power to discipline students if they were found to be using technology inappropriately "both at school and outside of school hours".

A Victorian Education Department spokeswoman said that while principals could seek meetings with parents if students aged under 13 had Facebook accounts, they did not have the same disciplinary powers as their Queensland counterparts.

"The principal can only request the family to remove their child's Facebook profile," the spokeswoman said.

Ms Hultgren declined to be interviewed, but in an open letter to parents, she detailed the thinking behind the new policy. She acknowledged some families may ask: Why is Facebook a school issue?

"As many of the parents in the (senior) class would testify, there has been some considerable Facebook traffic that either bullies a child of this school or in some cases denigrates some staff and the school. Either of these circumstances warrant the school becoming involved," she wrote.

But Steven Troeth, a partner at Gadens Lawyers, which provides legal advice to leading Melbourne schools, said that while schools had the right to take disciplinary action when Facebook was used to bully students or staff, even if the bullying occurred outside school hours, he doubted principals had the authority to issue a blanket ban on social media.

He said the Facebook guideline that stipulated users must be aged 13 and older was not enforced by any law.

" 'You won't come to our school if you have a Facebook page' seems to me to be extending beyond the realms of the school's ability to dictate what students can and can't do at home," Mr Troeth said.

"But it's understandable that they might want to have some control over it because of the potential to impact on the school."

Cyber safety expert and former Victorian policewoman Susan McLean advised the Toowoomba principal on the new policy. Ms McLean said the reaction from some quarters was "appalling".

"You could not print the response to the principal that some of the mothers wrote on Facebook," Ms McLean said.

She said children broke the law if they provided false information online about their ages. Schools had a duty of care, she said, which meant that if they knew a student aged under 13 had a Facebook account then the child needed to be reported to Facebook so the account could be deactivated.

"If a child cannot and will not make a good decision on their own personal safety, if their parents fail in their job in protecting their own children then the next line of defence is teachers," Ms McLean said.

Ms Hultgren's move has been applauded by adolescent and child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.

Dr Carr-Gregg has spoken to the Toowoomba principal and congratulated her on her stance.

"I think this is a desperate attempt to deal with really disturbing and problematic Facebook behaviour which is impacting on her school," Dr Carr-Gregg said.

Dr Carr-Gregg said increasing numbers of primary schools in Victoria were experiencing problems as a result of Facebook use among students.

"It's directly related to the lack of supervision of very young people who do not have the skills, knowledge and strategies to manage their digital behaviour."

In her letter to parents and students, Ms Hultgren applauded those who had refused to allow their children to set up a Facebook account before they turned 13.

"There is a reason why the legal age for Facebook in Australia is 13. There is an assumption that by that age children will have been taught (and understand ) the implications of using social media. It is anticipated that the child will have gained a strong moral purpose and be able to differentiate between what is socially acceptable and lawful and what could be considered libellous and unlawful.

"We have spent the last five years teaching our students about respect, relationships and resilience. It may seem insignificant to lie about your age to gain access to a social media site but where does it stop?"


Qld. Health bureaucracy on the way out

LOCAL hospital boards will have the power to hire and fire their own chief executives under new laws to be introduced in State Parliament today.

At least 17 new boards will be established to run the state's 128 hospitals.

The move by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg is seen as a full-frontal attack on central control of hospitals favoured by the Labor state governments for nearly two decades.

Under new Health and Hospitals Network legislation, the boards will be responsible for their own financial management and be able to set their own priorities for patient care.

The new law is seen as the first step by the Newman Government in tearing down the massive Queensland Health bureaucracy which has been criticised for having more spin doctors than real doctors.

Under the Springborg plan even the ownership of land and buildings will be vested in the boards.

In more populated areas, Mr Springborg also plans to establish a series of ancillary boards to wrench power out of the hands of city bureaucrats and return it to the regions.

The boards will begin operating from July 1.

"They will no longer be outposts of the empire," a spokesman said. "They will be accountable and responsible to themselves. They will run their own show."

Under the changes each board will have to have a doctor or nurse as a member and each chief executive will be subject to the direction of the minister.

The boards will, however, be required to seek ministerial approval if they intend to end an existing hospital service.

Local boards will have autonomy in speaking to the press, ending years of frustration from local media organisations unable to gain comment on vital matters of public interest in their areas.

Under the Springborg plan hospitals will have to regularly publish surgery waiting lists and "ramping" details - the number of times patients in ambulances are forced to wait outside hospitals while beds are found.

The lack of local input was one of the reasons why complaints against rogue surgeon Jayant Patel were not taken seriously.

Patel was the Bundaberg Hospital surgeon jailed over the deaths of three patients.

Under the new laws the minister will have the power to suspend the chief executive or members of hospital boards for misconduct.

Mr Springborg is understood to have consulted leading barrister Tony Morris, QC, for advice on the changes.

A source told The Courier-Mail that an administrator might be appointed to run a Cape York board.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Up here, in the battle for resources and money, one of the hardest things has been convincing Brisbane that Cairns is not Brisbane.