Tuesday, January 08, 2013
In an exclusive interview with The Australian Financial Review shortly before Christmas, Abbott said that "there is still this left-of-centre ethos in the ABC" and expressed hope that the managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, "continues to address it". Abbott commented that there is much about the public broadcaster that he likes and admires.
But, while praising ABC presenters Chris Uhlmann and Mark Simkin as "highly professional, even-handed commentators/reporters", Abbott commented that "there is the ongoing issue of bias in the ABC news and current affairs section"....
The ABC airs many a howler and then goes into denial mode when attention is drawn to its errors. In recent times, such influential documentaries as Menzies and Churchill at War and All the Way (on the Vietnam War) contained significant errors that ABC management refused to correct or even acknowledge.
The public broadcaster's online publication The Drum also declines to address errors on its website - as I have documented in my Media Watch Dog blog.
The essential criticism of the ABC is that it does not engage even one political conservative as a presenter or producer or editor on any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets. This despite Scott's pledge, made over six years ago, that, under his management, a "further diversity of voices" would be carried on the public broadcaster. It has not happened.
The ABC is replete with leftists or left-of-centre presenters/producers/editors. But it remains virtually a conservative-free zone. If ABC management is aware of conservatives to match the likes of Phillip Adams, Jonathan Holmes, Fran Kelly and others - then it should name names. Otherwise, it should cut the pretence.
There is no conspiracy at play here. It is a natural phenomenon that like-minded people tend to mix with, and engage, their own. Arthur S. Brisbane reflected on this reality after he stepped down from his two-year appointment as the public (or reader's) editor of The New York Times.
Writing in that paper's Sunday Review on August 25 last year, Brisbane referred to a left-liberal world view, which "virtually bleeds through the fabric of the Times". As a result, according to Brisbane, "developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in the Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects".
A similar world view pervades the public broadcaster in Australia. This leads ABC staff to embrace left-liberal causes and to defend one another from criticism about lack of balance, unprofessional behaviour or factual error.
The fact is that there is more real debate on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News than on some ABC programs. The final Fox News Watch program last year consisted of a real political debate between Jim Pinkerton, Juan Williams, Richard Grenell and Judy Miller. Meanwhile, ABC 1's Media Watch program has only had leftist commentators in over two decades.
Ambulances still diverting emergency patients from overstretched hospitals
EMERGENCY patients are still being diverted from major Queensland hospitals on a daily basis despite changes aimed at halting the dangerous practice.
From January 1, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg banned hospitals from going "on bypass" - where ambulances are forced to go to other hospitals when closer emergency departments are full - as part of a 15-point plan to improve access and treatment.
However, paramedics say little has changed except that the order to drive past the nearest hospital now comes from the Queensland Ambulance Service communications centre and the practice is now known as "load sharing".
The Courier-Mail has obtained a log of dozens of cases in the past seven days where paramedics were told to drive past overstretched hospitals.
The longest diversion in recent days saw patients spend an extra 30 minutes in an ambulance before arriving at the next nearest facility.
None had life-threatening illnesses, but paramedics say a patient's condition can deteriorate rapidly.
They have called for changes to improve patient flow, bed management, off-stretcher times and staffing to be rolled out quickly.
A spokesman for Mr Springborg said the QAS taking control of which hospitals patients were transported to was a key recommendation of the Metropolitan Emergency Department Access Initiative.
"Under the old system, hospitals had a category beyond 'extreme' (capacity), which was 'bypass'. That enabled them to just say no to admissions. That is the practice that has been banned," he said.
"Costly redesigns are under way in hospitals to improve patient flow."
The Department of Community Safety, which includes the QAS, was unable to reveal how many patients and ambulance crews had been redirected in the past week.
A spokeswoman said hospital load share and patient distribution were "a daily occurrence" and were not individually documented.
The QAS had developed a Patient Safety Distribution Unit that would oversee the distribution of patients across the emergency departments.
"MEDAI Recommendation 7 included a review of QAS load share across emergency departments to deliver the right patient to the right hospital," she said.
"This is aimed at assisting the emergency departments during times of peak demand, ensuring a better patient flow to improve clinical outcomes. This does not mean the hospital is on bypass."
The Emergency Medical Service Protection Association (EMSPA), which represents Queensland paramedics, has been monitoring the issue.
EMSPA Industrial relations adviser Efthimia Voulcaris said members had reported that, in real terms, bypassing was still happening on a daily basis.
Under changes driven by emergency physician David Rosengren, they were no longer able to bypass.
"This has not stopped it happening," Ms Voulcrais said.
'Hot swap' ambulance shift changes leave patients in limbo
AMBULANCE "hot swaps" - shift changes with injured or sick patients on board - are leaving Queenslanders angry.
The Courier-Mail last week revealed a case in which a patient died after paramedics decided to do a shift change instead of heading straight to hospital.
Daniel Heinz was also left on board for a hot swap after injuring his leg in a motorcycle accident last February. The 51-year-old ex-firefighter was semi-conscious when the triple zero call was made.
"They put me in the ambulance and everything seemed fine," he said.
"Working in emergency services I knew how things should happen and all seemed to be going fine.
"I couldn't believe it when we turned up at the ambulance station. When I asked what was going on they said 'shift change'.
"I thought that was bad enough and then they started to move me into another ambulance.
"I was in a neck brace, with a possible spinal injury and they were moving me about."
He could not understand the reasoning behind the decision not to take him directly to the nearest hospital.
"What were they thinking? Do they risk a patient all to prevent having to pay someone overtime?" Mr Heinz asked.
"I was lucky my injuries were not intensified by that. Others might not be so lucky."
United Voice ambulance paramedic state councillor Craig Crawford said hot swapping was brought in by the ambulance service to alleviate overtime.
A Queensland Ambulance spokeswoman said officers felt Mr Heinz was stable when they decided to hot swap.
"En route to the Princess Alexandra Hospital the paramedics, who were at the end of their shift, transferred the patient to a pre-positioned crew at Redbank Ambulance Station," she said.
"The transfer was conducted within two minutes.
"The paramedics used their clinical expertise and judgment to make the decision that it was clinically appropriate to transfer the patient . . . based on the patient's stable condition."
United Voice's Mr Crawford said shift changes with a patient on board were not an uncommon occurrence. He said it would be rare for a crew to do a hot swap with a possible spinal injury patient in the ambulance.
"Spinal injury, heart attack, anything that time is of importance, a swap would be less likely," he said.
Complaint about cab driver ignored until media get involved
A taxi driver who wanted a young female passenger to have sex with him has been tracked down and suspended.
13CABS chief operating officer Stuart Overall told radio station 3AW on Tuesday morning that "we've been swift in our action. We've suspended the driver. We got him in yesterday to 'please explain' and we've suspended him immediately pending a further investigation."
Sarah, 19, booked a taxi through 13CABS last Thursday. The cab picked her up at midnight from Clayton, for a 6km trip to a friend's party in Huntingdale, but stopped a few streets short of the destination.
Sarah said the driver repeatedly propositioned her and "refused to take no for an answer". She eventually got out of the cab and complained the following day to 13CABS who, she said, ignored her complaint.
Sarah told her story to 3AW on Monday, after which 13CABS took action.
Mr Overall said the phone operator who brushed off the complaint "will undergo further training", and he urged Sarah to report the incident to police.
“The best we can do is suspend him, get him off the road and driving for us, and then we can provide that information to police and they can do the official duties from there” Mr Overall said.
Sarah said it was distressing that she had to tell her story on the radio in order "to be taken seriously" by the company.
"It was such a scary and uncomfortable situation to be in," she told 3AW. "If no one had gotten this driver off the road and something else had happened I just would have felt awful."