Thursday, February 21, 2013
Freedom of speech struggling in Australia
If Muslims had wanted to disprove what Wilders says, they would have either stayed at home or attended the talk and listened politely. But they were too dumb for that. The obstructive response to the lecture by Wilders proved everything he said: That Muslims are intolerant and violent enemies of free speech and diversity of ideas
by Ronit Fraid
I went to hear Geert Wilders speak tonight. I already knew what he was going to talk about. I didn't go for the information.
I had already seen him on the telly when he was "interviewed" by Tony Jones. I didn't go in order to see him.
Had I thought about it consciously, I might have decided I didn't need to travel to Somerton and risk a confrontation with nasty protestors who might disturb my peace of mind with their violent rhetoric. But I didn't think about it. I just went.
Now that it is over and the unanticipated confrontation is over, I realise why it was important for me to go to hear Geert Wilders speak. It was important because I live in a free and democratic country, where people are permitted to have opinions and express their ideas. This is a country where people are allowed to disagree with each other and talk about difficult issues openly and without fear.
I went because I wanted to be comforted that my faith in Australia as a free and open democracy is justified and that the rule of law prevails, that freedom of speech has not been compromised by entities who don't believe in it.
I also went because I wanted to say to those who threaten our civil rights that they will not succeed. On the other hand, they did make it bloody difficult for everyone, in particular the organisers who had a nightmare job trying to book a venue...and because of the amount of security needed to keep Wilders safe and the huge police presence required to ensure that we, the peaceful audience, could enter the hall and listen to the speakers without incident.
Geert Wilders sends a strong message. It is a message about the nature of Islam and the effect of Islamic immigration on Europe. It is not a comfortable message and one doesn't have to agree with Wilders or listen to what he says. That is the free choice people make in much the same way that people make the choice to listen, to hear and to evaluate for themselves the importance of the message he brings. And that is a choice Australians need to protect fiercely...because without it we really are not free anymore; which goes to validate and support the very argument that Wilders is making.
Incredible Federal stupidity in cutting hospital funding
They must WANT to lose the election. This enables State Premiers to blame Gillard for all deficiencies in their hospitals
The federal government will consider restoring $404 million cut from hospital budgets around Australia this financial year following the reversal of a cut to Victorian funding and threat from the Prime Minister to bypass state governments and fund hospitals directly.
Health minister Tanya Plibersek said Prime Minister Julia Gillard had written to other states to say she would consider restoring funding to hospitals after a readjustment of population forecast figures in October had resulted in a $404 million shortfall this financial year.
The restoration of $107 million in funding to Victoria would be made directly to hospitals, bypassing the Baillieu government.
After the announcement of the new arrangement with Victoria, NSW and Queensland demanded the return of their share of cut funding.
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said Ms Plibersek also had an obligation to reverse cuts in funding to other states.
"It doesn't relieve the federal government of its responsibilities to restore funding to all states and territories," Mrs Skinner said.
Mrs Skinner said the direct funding to Victorian local hospitals networks was "a very strange deal". "I'm absolutely stunned by it," she said. "It goes against entirely not only the COAG agreement but the spirit of the agreement in that specifically states that the states and territories are the system managers and that funding is to go through the states and territories for disbursement to the hospitals."
Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg demanded the Commonwealth restore $103 million in federal funding cut from the Queensland's allocation this financial year.
"Queensland should get that money back because it equals thousands of operations in Queensland," he told ABC radio. "It means that we won't have to cancel elective surgery for non-urgent patients and also it will mean that we'll be able to save some of the clinical jobs that are now at risk."
In October last year the federal government announced that it would reduce its health payments to the states by $1.6 billion nationally over four years after a review of population forecasts indicated a decline.
The backdown on Wednesday night comes after widespread concern about the closure of 350 beds and cancellations of thousands of operations around Victoria.
Speaking in Melbourne on Thursday morning, Ms Plibersek did not rule out further adjustments in the years ahead, leaving uncertainty about hospital funding around Australia for 2013-14.
She said any other funding boost around Australia for this financial year would go directly to hospitals and come from funding otherwise earmarked for those states.
Ms Plibersek said all threatened services must now be restored in Victoria and she was pleased that Casey Hospital, in Melbourne outer south-east, would not proceed with plans to close its emergency department overnight.
She said that she was "open" to making arrangements in others states similar to those she had announced in Victoria.
Ms Plibersek confirmed on Thursday that the $107 million Victorian rescue package consisted of $55 million budgeted for a project to streamline national and federal laws, and the rest from federal reward money for meeting health benchmarks.
She said there would be no need to allocate further rescue funding in the new financial year, and the federal government would continue to use the new, lower estimates of Victoria's population to calculate payments.
Speaking to reporters in Adelaide, the Prime Minister threatened to bypass other states and deliver funding directly to local hospital networks while cutting other state funding.
"I have said to premiers and chief ministers very clearly, that the federal government is not going to tolerate the continued playing of politics with health," Ms Gillard said.
"There is a very clear message to those premiers: we will go around you, we will deal direct with hospitals and local hospital networks, and we will rearrange your budget for you. "We will rearrange state budgets by cutting them back in other areas."
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu said the Commonwealth funding was an interim measure, adding that "the damage has already been done". "The money will be welcomed by hospitals, but this is a short-term fix and we have certainly not had a long-term fix on this," he said.
Climate sceptic lets loose
LORD Christopher Monckton, one of the world's best-known climate change sceptics, breezes into Tasmania today with a warning the Greens are the new totalitarians and Labor is not much better.
Speaking from Melbourne yesterday, the outspoken British peer said there had been no measurable global warming for at least 16 years and quite likely longer, despite increases in carbon dioxide emissions. Lord Monckton said the science was collapsing around the alarmists and ordinary people were angry at the lies that had been told.
He said much of the debate was driven by left-wing politics. "The Greens are too yellow to admit they are reds," he said. "Labor is frighteningly close.
"The totalitarian left thinks they know best how we should live. It's about increasing the ability to interfere in every aspect of our lives, down to the last dim, flickering light bulb."
Lord Monckton described Australia's carbon tax as "fantastically cost-ineffective".
If the whole world adopted Australia's carbon tax scheme for 10 years, it would cost $317 trillion or 59 per cent of global GDP. This amounted to $45,000 for every person and all it would achieve was to forestall warming by about one sixth of one degree. It would be 36 times more expensive than paying the cost of adaptation to any climate change.
While carbon dioxide did have some effect on temperatures, he believed it was vastly overstated. He dismissed the idea of a scientific consensus as intellectual baby talk. "Science is a matter of verifiable proof. Climate science is much slipperier."
Asked about warming of the sea along Tasmania's East Coast, he said Australia was one of the only places where warm currents had had any effect, but the Great Barrier Reef had experienced no temperature change at all.
Lord Monckton is speaking at the University of Tasmania's Sir Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre in Hobart tonight at 7.30
'I was capsicum sprayed and fined after going to woman's rescue'
He's lucky he didn't get shot. The Vic cops are good at that. Their tiny egos need a lot of propping up
A GOOD Samaritan who rushed to the aid of a woman "having her lights punched out" was gobsmacked to get a $553 fine from police in the post.
Aaryn Hayes, 25, was with friends in Brunswick St, Fitzroy, on Sunday morning when he saw a man grab a woman by the throat and throw her to the ground.
Mr Hayes grabbed the man towering over her and pinned him against a wall. Seconds later, police arrived and doused both men with capsicum spray.
"The guy was punching the hell out of this lady," Mr Hayes said. "I didn't punch him or hurt him. I simply grabbed him and moved him away from her to stop the violence.
"She was having her lights punched out - he was getting really stuck in - and people were just walking past. I had to help," he said.
Mr Hayes said while one police officer dealt with "the yelling and screaming offender", he explained to the other what had happened, and they helped him clear the spray from his eyes.
"Then the other officer came over and said I was disturbing the peace and acting in a riotous way.
"I was bewildered. I was just trying to stop a woman being beaten to a pulp and police were saying I was in the wrong for helping.
"I was with seven friends and my girlfriend, who were all witnesses. But when they spoke to the officer he threatened to arrest me and take me back to the station.
"Meanwhile the guy who attacked the woman was let go because the woman didn't want to press charges."
Mr Hayes said his shock was compounded on Tuesday when he received in the post a $600 penalty notice for "riotous behaviour". "I feel like a criminal for trying to help police," he said.
"I keep thinking, 'What if it was my girlfriend or mum who was being attacked, and no one helped?'. "It's not in my personality to walk by, but the fine has made me think twice."
Mr Hayes said he was seeking legal advice and would contest the penalty in court.
A Victoria Police spokesman, Belle Nolan, said: "It's believed a man in his 20s intervened in a verbal dispute between a man and a woman. It's alleged the man assaulted the victim, aged in his 50s, and refused to comply with police instructions to stop.
"He was sprayed with capsicum spray and received an infringement notice for riotous behaviour."