Thursday, December 20, 2012

Toddler's drowning: manslaughter charge dropped

Why should a neighbour be charged when the mother was not?  The greater burden of responsibility lies with the mother.  I suspect that that consideration was the real reason behind the withdrawal of the charges.  The defendant could well have joined the mother to the case and asked that 90% of the responsibility be assigned to her  -- which would have been hard for the court to deny in the light of the facts.  Any claim that the neighbour should be more vigilant than the mother would be absurd.  Blame-shifting is pervasive these days so it is good that blame-shifting was abandoned in this case

A man who was charged with Australia's first-ever manslaughter over the drowning death of a toddler in his backyard pool has had the case against him dropped.

Philip Cameron was charged in July over the death of a two-year-old boy.

Police alleged that the 61-year-old had failed to properly fence the pool at his Armidale property.

The toddler had been playing in a yard on May 16 when he wandered away from his mother, fell into Mr Cameron's pool and drowned.

The case returned to Armidale Local Court on Wednesday, where a solicitor for the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions terminated the prosecution.

A spokesperson for the DPP said the matter was withdrawn "because, based on the available evidence, there was no reasonable prospect of conviction".

In a prepared statement read outside the court, Mr Cameron's solicitor, Mark Daly, said the right decision had been made by the DPP.

He expressed Mr Cameron's "deepest sympathy for the loss the poor child's parent's have suffered".

Mr Daly also emphasised the importance of repairing neighbourhood fences, claiming "no dispute over a fence is worth a child's life".

At the time he was charged, one neighbour described Mr Cameron's unkempt pool as "a bit of a cesspit", with a dilapidated pool fence surrounding it.


Unions versus Greenies

Unions win.  Unusual for a Leftist government to approve that horror of all horrors:  A MINE

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke has given an Indian mining company the green light to develop an iron ore project on Tasmania's West Coast.

The mine, one of a handful of proposals being fiercely opposed by Tarkine conservationists, is expected to create 125 jobs over its predicted decade of operation.

The National Tarkine Coalition said protesters would barricade the site as soon as work started.

TNC's Scott Jordan said Mr Burke had folded to pressure from the Australian Workers' Union which organised a loud and very angry pro-mining rally in Burnie last month.

'What the AWU wants, Tony gives, it seems," Mr Jordan said yesterday.

"We will monitor the situation and as soon as they start works on site we will be there."

Mr Burke has imposed 29 conditions on Shree Minerals' project including the development of plans to protect threatened species and the Tasmanian devil.

Shree Minerals said the Federal Government approval was a major milestone in its bid to start production at Nelson Bay -- near Couta Rocks -- and the ghost mining town of Balfour.

The company will now seek funding partners.

The Nelson Bay River project has already been approved by the State Government.

Shree Minerals chairman Sanjay Loyalka said the project's development would include measures to stop acid drainage and minimise the risk of road kill.

Mr Loyalka said the mine's footprint would be small compared to the social and economic benefits it would bring.

He said the project would also boost the state's finances through royalties and payroll tax.

Shree Minerals will commission a research program to understand orchid biology in the North-West and support the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

Federal Braddon MP Sid Sidebottom said Mr Burke's decision was welcome news for the region.

"Mining has a long history and ongoing importance to the economy and I am pleased that it will continue to do so," Mr Sidebottom said.


Ambulance Victoria to investigate as Lysterfield man says paramedics left him to die

Ambulance Victoria is notorious

A MELBOURNE father feared he would die after he was allegedly refused an ambulance several times while suffering a heart attack.

Ambulance Victoria is investigating claims John Mason and his wife called 000 up to six times after he was abandoned by two paramedics following an argument.

The Lysterfield man, who has since had major surgery twice, is considering legal action after claiming the pair left him for dead.

His brother eventually rushed him to the Monash Medical Centre emergency department early on November 14.

"It's a bloody bad experience. I was lying on the floor of casualty screaming in pain before they took me through," alleged Mr Mason. The rheumatoid arthritis sufferer was treated for heart attack symptoms on November 13 before being discharged from the centre, allegedly still vomiting, that night.

When two female paramedics arrived at Mr Mason's home hours later, at 2am, he alleged they told him there was no point in taking him to hospital as there would be a long wait to be treated.  "They attended the house with no equipment and were arguing there was no point going to hospital," Mr Mason said.  "They did no checks: no pulse rate, no blood pressure, no ECG. It stinks to high heaven."

He said a heated argument followed and he told the paramedics to leave.

After six further calls to emergency, Mr Mason claimed a man who identified himself as being from triage told him to stop calling.   "He said: 'Understand, John, we are not coming, we are not picking you up'."

Ambulance Victoria Metro East regional manager Cath Anderson confirmed an investigation. She said an initial inquiry found the paramedics "provided appropriate care at the time in difficult circumstances".

Ambulance Victoria group manager Andrew Watson alleged the patient was agitated and intimidating. But Mr Mason denied that.


Women still can't have it all

Nicolle Flint

It is a decade since Virginia Haussegger's pivotal "The sins of our feminist mothers" was published on this page. Haussegger's opinion piece articulated the anger and frustration of a generation of women left childless as a result of their feminist mothers promoting the myth of "having it all": the career, the husband and the babies. The article hit a collective nerve. A book followed recording Haussegger's personal account of feminism, career, relationships, health, and, ultimately biological childlessness.

The messages resonated with women of Haussegger's generation and with mine. Wonder Woman: The Myth of Having It All was the talk of every woman in town.

Thanks to brave women like Haussegger, my generation received the message loud and clear to look after their reproductive health; to not delay pregnancy too long. We have been successfully reprogrammed to hear the biological clock ticking. Unfortunately, this is not a gentle while-away-the-hours-type ticking. Rather, it is a nuclear-bomb-is-about-to-explode-so-PANIC-NOW-style ticking. I sometimes wonder if this has done more harm than good; if, in fact, it would be better not to know.

But we are, of course, the generation who does know. We know our fertility drops markedly after 35 years of age, that when you hit 40 the chances of natural conception and a healthy pregnancy are so slim as to be negligible, that 40-plus Hollywood celebrity mothers use donor eggs. Our GPs gently, but regularly, remind us of these facts.

Yet all the education, awareness and warnings in the world won't guarantee you'll find a partner to father your children. Contemporary records of this dilemma abound: Sushi Das' Deranged Marriage: A Memoir touches upon it, recent articles by The Advertiser's Amber Petty and Rebekah Devlin discuss it, and Martha Wainwright and Lily Allen have sung about it.

The prevailing advice for those hitting the 35-year-old "single no children" danger zone is to freeze our eggs. This sounds like a neat future-proofing insurance policy but at this stage unfortunately it is not. The procedure is expensive ($10,000 plus) and the statistical success of eventually achieving pregnancy is far from encouraging. But at least we have an option, limited though it may be, and more information than was accessible to Haussegger and her contemporaries.

But did Haussegger's message about the myth of having it all generate other less positive ramifications? Has her warning, in fact, caused a generation of women to regress in the workplace just when women were gaining a collective foothold? Did educated young women heed her warning so thoroughly their careers have been sacrificed for children?

Debates over women's representation in the workforce, and in the realm of literature and theatre abound. According to reports on the arts and theatre for example, more women than men feel caring for children has affected their artistic careers. Women are working "flexibly" or part-time, consciously or unconsciously enabling their partner's career to prosper over their own. Are women and men still incapable of privately negotiating their family commitments to the mutual benefit of both their careers?

It seems so. In an article titled "Desperate Gillard's War has Failed her Own Gender", Henry Ergas wrote in The Australian on Monday "the share of women in full-time employment has increased only 3 percentage points since the 1960s". According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) women represent just 35 per cent of all full-time employees (a figure that was 34 per cent in 2002).

The 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership reports women represent just 9.2 per cent of both executives and directors of ASX 500 companies, and that in the "pipeline" to senior ASX 500 management positions men hold 2148 line positions and women just 141. WGEA director Helen Conway said "we've been conducting the census for 10 years and, frankly, you'd expect to see more progress … companies have failed to develop and maintain a strong pipeline of female talent, and you can see this in the negligible growth in female executive management".

If my generation has embraced babies over the target of the boardroom, this is a predictable outcome. As with the debate in the arts, if women are not half the playing field in the first place then how can they expect half the positions? How can workplace gender imbalances be addressed if women are not in the workplace full-time to address them, when the stark reality is that businesses operate on a full-time work week, especially in the ranks of senior management?

The great post-feminist challenge is for women and men to reconcile the myth of having it all with reality, and this is a private matter, not one for the state. Suffocating business with further regulation and reporting requirements is counterproductive and ultimately pointless if couples are making private decisions that result in workplace gender imbalances. Men and women must reflect on the private choices they make and what this means for women's careers.

In a decade from now I hope women in their 30s won't be facing the same difficult circumstances and choices. I hope women and men can privately negotiate to improve women's full-time presence in the workforce, that reproductive technology may have improved further still, that we can have a more substantive and informed debate about other options such as American-style egg donation and surrogacy, and that the conversation started by Virginia Haussegger in 2002 and continued by others like Das, Petty and Devlin might assist the women who follow next.

A decade on from Haussegger's article women know more, panic more, yet are not presented with more conceivable solutions to our problems of procreation, partnership and profession. We should be able to have it all. But this time it's up to women - and men - to make it happen.


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