Friday, September 28, 2012

Sharks to be killed if close to swim beaches

The pro-shark nuts should be thrown in with them to see how they like it

A PLAN to protect West Australian beachgoers by killing great white sharks that come too close has angered animal welfare advocates and conservationists.  Many were also affronted by Premier Colin Barnett's dismissal of the animals as just "fish".

The government today announced a $6.85 million package of "shark mitigation" strategies in response to five fatal attacks in the state's waters within 10 months.

It has allocated $2 million for a new Department of Fisheries service to track, catch and destroy sharks found in close proximity to swimmers.

The government has also redefined the circumstances in which an order may be given to kill sharks that pose an imminent threat to humans.

"Previously the orders were used in response to an attack, but now proactive action will be taken if a large white shark presents imminent threat to people," Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said.

Baited drum lines could also be set to capture sharks that presented a danger, he said.

Premier Colin Barnett said it was "not going to be a shark hunt".

"We will always put the lives and safety of beachgoers ahead of the shark," he told ABC radio.  "This is, after all, a fish - let's keep it in perspective."

The Conservation Council of WA said the "guilty until proven innocent" approach was a kneejerk reaction to public concern that would harm the environment and would not protect swimmers.

"We urge the government not to use the new kill powers for sharks," CCWA marine co-ordinator Tim Nicol said.  "We are ... concerned that this policy perpetuates the fear that all large sharks are potential killers, when in fact we do not know this."

The Wilderness Society was also critical of "pre-emptive cullings", while ABC radio talkback callers flooded the phone lines, with many saying the best way to stay safe was to stay out of the shark's habitat.

Some said the strategies were vote-grabbing stunts.

Mr Barnett also today reiterated his opposition to shark nets because they posed a threat to marine life.

Instead, $2 million will go towards continuing shark tagging programs, including the use of GPS tracking systems, while $2 million will go into a research fund over four years.

Mr Nichol welcomed the research funding.  "If we want to reduce fear of swimming at our beaches, then we need to engage in research and education, not in killing with no purpose," he said.

"For example, we need to explain the times of year that are most dangerous because of oceanic events that attract large sharks to feed near shore, for example when snapper are spawning in Cockburn Sound."

University of WA, where researchers are developing shark attack deterrent wetsuits, also welcomed the research funding.

The government also pledged $200,000 for a feasibility study and trial of a beach enclosure to protect swimmers, $500,000 for extra jet skis for Surf Lifesaving WA, and $150,000 for community awareness programs, including a smartphone application.


Former Treasury deputy secretary Richard Murray's paper proposes abolishing state governments

Not a hope.  Queenslanders will resist anything that seems to give Canberra more power  -- and Queensland is too big to push around.  Sir Joh showed all that

STATES would be abolished and more power given to city and regional councils in a two-tier government under a radical proposal to shake up the nation's economy.

Under the controversial plan, Queensland would split into six regions and shed the state government in favour of a bigger federal parliament, five city and 19 regional councils nationally.

It comes after The Courier-Mail this week exclusively revealed plans for Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton to unite north of the Tropic of Capricorn under an economic co-operation zone.

Delegates told how the state's north wants to lobby as a unified bloc for big-ticket items in the economic powerhouse region worth about $60 billion a year, splitting the state along economic lines.

In his newly published paper, A New Federation with a Cities and Regional Approach, former Treasury deputy secretary Richard Murray offers a blueprint for macro and micro-economic reform.

He suggests rewriting the Constitution to share revenue and power between two tiers of government.

His paper reopens fresh debate on federation, productivity and governance as it looks at the "multiple, overlapping and interacting problems of the three-tier system of government".

Townsville Regional Council Mayor Jenny Hill yesterday said the paper proposed a much more streamlined system of government.

"Many people bitterly complain about too many layers of bureaucracy and government," she said.

"I think some councils would be up to the task, others might not.

"It would be very hard if not impossible to get the state governments to give up their power and let it devolve to the regions.

"But, because we started out as colonies, we've been left with this legacy of the 19th century.

"It is holding us back in the 21st century."


Tasmania's Upper House votes down gay marriage

The Tasmanian Premier and gay rights campaigners have vowed not to give up on same-sex marriage despite a historic bill being defeated in the state's Upper House.

After two days of impassioned debate, the bill was voted down on Thursday night eight votes to six after every member of the Legislative Council spoke at length on the issue.

Premier Lara Giddings said it was a disappointing result but the Government would not give up on the reform.

"We will continue this. It's not the end. It's the beginning," Ms Giddings said.  "It took many times for us to get gay law reform through.  "It took many times and attempts to get anti-discrimination law reform through."

Greens leader Nick McKim says the legislation's defeat was deeply disappointing.  "The Council's chosen fear over love, the Council's chosen division over unity, and it's chosen the 19th century over the 21st century," he said.  "And the Council tragically today has held Tasmania back."

The Opposition Leader, Will Hodgman, says the blame for the bill failing rests with the Premier.

He criticised the legislation as hasty, in breach of an election commitment and in reckless disregard of potential cost to taxpayers of a High Court Challenge.

Gay rights campaigner Rodney Croome says he is committed to campaigning for legislative change.  "I want to be able to marry the man I love in the state I love and I will make sure that happens," he said.

Amanda-Sue Markham from the group Save Marriage Coalition says while it is a good result, she feels sorry for same-sex couples.

"While I'm pleased that we retain marriage as the Federal Act, it's still mixed with sadness for those people who are very upset about the outcome."

The final speaker before the vote, Member for Windermere Ivan Dean, had been under enormous pressure but decided to vote against the legislation.


Abbott compares carbon tax to an octopus

Tony Abbott's latest description of the carbon tax invites voters to imagine its tentacles reaching into the depths of the economy, pushing up the already high cost of living.  He has also likened Labor's propensity to increase taxes to a "poison", with the only antidote to get rid of the Government.

The Opposition Leader took his anti-carbon tax campaign to a frozen fish supplier in Sydney, warning that the tax was hitting the business through higher electricity costs and sky-rocketing prices for refrigerant gases.

"What people are starting to understand is that this is an octopus embracing the whole of our economy," Mr Abbott told reporters.

"Every time you turn on a light, you pay; every time you open your fridge, you pay; every time you buy a cup of coffee, you pay, and as is obvious after a visit like this, every time you buy a piece of fish at the supermarket or elsewhere, you pay because of Labor's carbon tax."

Mr Abbott's latest analogy has prompted Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to question whether the Opposition Leader has a problem with animals.

"Previously he has described the carbon price as 'another cash cow', 'a python squeeze', 'a cobra strike', 'a dog of a tax', and today it was 'an octopus'," Mr Combet said.  "What's he got against animals? [What a supercilious and evasive response!]?

"Mr Abbott's time would be better spent having his Coalition policies costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, rather than inventing a menagerie as part of his shallow scare campaign."

Mr Abbott says 80 percent of the increase in western Sydney power prices was because of the carbon tax. In Queensland, he says the carbon tax was responsible for almost the entire increase.

A report by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal released in June showed that on average, electricity prices in the state were increasing by 18 per cent.

It said that on average, about half of that was carbon tax related with the bulk of the remainder due to the extra investment in infrastructure, such as poles and wires.


John Howard revives history wars in attack on Labor Party curriculum

JOHN Howard has re-entered the culture wars, describing the Gillard government's national school history curriculum as "unbalanced, lacking in priorities and quite bizarre", and accusing it of marginalising the Judeo-Christian ethic and purging British history.

The former prime minister said last night that "our Western heritage appears to be so conspicuously absent from the history curriculum reflects a growing retreat from self-belief in Western civilisation". In a swingeing critique of the government's national high school curriculum, which is being introduced at various levels in the states through to 2014, Mr Howard said a lack of proper perspective in history teaching would "deny future generations a real understanding of what has made us as a nation".

"The curriculum does not properly reflect the undoubted fact that Australia is part of Western civilisation; in the process, it further marginalises the historic influence of the Judeo-Christian ethic in shaping Australian society and virtually purges British history from any meaningful role," he said in the inaugural Sir Paul Hasluck lecture at the University of Western Australia.

The attack on Labor's curriculum from the Liberals' foremost cultural warrior reflects the opposition to the curriculum from Tony Abbott and opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, and reluctance from the Liberal states of NSW and Victoria to implement the changes due to start in all states after the next federal election.

As Julia Gillard fights with the Liberal premiers over various policies and draws the Opposition Leader into the disputes, the differences over the history curriculum will provide further antagonism between the government and the Coalition.

Mr Howard called on state education ministers to do something about the curriculum and said only they could act. He and Mr Pyne have both declared the role of Western civilisation is a crucial element in Australian history and must be properly taught in high school.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett told The Australian last night the history curriculum had been developed with educators, history experts and the community, and was endorsed by all education ministers.

"The end result is a curriculum, which is robust, comprehensive and of the highest quality," Mr Garrett said.

"While there will be scope for the curriculum to be reviewed over time, the curriculum is the result of an extensive development process and has the backing of teachers and academics."

Some of Labor's national curriculum is being taught in most states but no state has yet adopted the whole curriculum from the beginning of school through to Year 10, which is due in 2014.

Mr Howard praised policy making history a compulsory subject in Year 10, and said it was good there would be more emphasis on indigenous history and that Asian history would be more prominent.

"Beyond those praiseworthy features," he said, "there is much about the curriculum that I find unbalanced, lacking in priorities and in some cases quite bizarre.

"The teaching of history is meant to explain what happened, why, and what lessons can be learned from the past.

"The structure of this curriculum will not facilitate this occurring."

The national curriculum was changed earlier this year to include more indigenous history and a teaching of Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations, after complaints from the Greens.

"It is a fact that the modern Australia is a product of Western civilisation; the Judeo-Christian influence is a reality and the British inheritance self evident. We cannot properly understand our nation's history without fully recognising that this is the case," Mr Howard said.

"The laudable goals of enhancing the teaching of indigenous and Asian history could have been fully achieved by the curriculum's authors without relegating or virtually eliminating the study of influences vital to a proper understanding of who we are as a people and where we came from.

"That our Western heritage appears to be so conspicuously absent from the history curriculum reflects a growing retreat from self-belief in Western civilisation.

"It is as if the West must always play the villain simply because it has tended to enjoy more power and economic success than other parts of the world since 1500.

"Magna Carta; parliamentary democracy, the language we speak - which, need I remind you, is now the lingua franca of Asia; much of the literature we imbibe; a free and irreverent media; our relatively civil system of political discourse; the rule of law; and trial by jury . . . these are all owed in one form or another to the British."

On secular pressure to remove religion from consideration in schools, Mr Howard said: "Christianity has often reinforced and inspired many of our most important secular ideas and values, including freedom of speech and freedom of association.

"The curriculum does not reflect this."


1 comment:

Paul said...

Formalizing this thing called "Gay Marriage" is in nobody's political interest as the Tasmanians proved. Pass it and it becomes politically useless. I doubt the Premier was really that bothered. Its now off her agenda for the foreseeable. Maybe she can try focusing on something that matters, like the Gunns bankruptcy. Now there's a problem that belongs to everybody.