Teen tells Carmody Inquiry about violent world of youth residential care
A TROUBLED teen has given the Carmody Inquiry into child protection an expletive-ridden insight into the violent world of youth residential care.
The boy - who turns 17 this year - took the stand yesterday to tell lawyers about his life which includes round-the-clock staff, two cars, and a cleaning and cooking service.
The youth who gave evidence was removed from his mother when he was about 15 and now lives in a group residential home costing $800,000 per annum.
He was the only occupant for up to six months of last year.
The Carmody Inquiry has turned the spotlight on residential care after police gave evidence residential care homes - run by private companies and costing more than $1000 a day per child - are swallowing up police resources with constant callouts, often relating to violent crime, runaways and drug abuse.
Counsel Assisting Ryan Haddrick told the inquiry the cost of the homes was a "scandal" while other witnesses have questioned whether more than 600 youths living in residential care have any chance of improving their lives.
The 16-year-old boy who fronted the inquiry yesterday and cannot be named said the youth workers who cared for him had to do what he wanted in terms of cooking, cleaning and clothes washing. "They have to bow to me," he said.
The boy also said he was aware no one could physically touch him by law.
His mother - "she never wants me back" - would slap him if he swore, he said.
But after moving into state care he had learned his rights. "They are not allowed to belt anyone," he said.
Under cross-examination from Mr Haddrick, the youth appeared supremely confident.
He told Mr Haddrick that he looked forward to having his own subsidised unit to live in later this year, where he would only be required to pay 25 per cent of the rent - using welfare benefits to cover the cost.
Conservative retracts Hitler comparison
But Jewish politician refuses to retract similar accusation
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has retracted comments he made over the weekend in which he compared the Government with a movie scene about the demise of Adolf Hitler.
Following the resignation of two senior ministers, Mr Pyne declared: "This Government is starting to resemble a scene from Downfall and the Prime Minister is presiding over a divided and dysfunctional Government."
His comments prompted demands for an apology from Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus, who described the remarks as deeply offensive.
"It is deeply hurtful to Holocaust survivors, it should be deeply offensive to any right-thinking Australian," he said.
"Certainly anyone who knows anything about Hitler's Third Reich, because that's what he's referring to, would know this is a disgraceful comment to make.
"I call on him to withdraw it and apologise for it."
This morning, Mr Pyne said he was not suggesting the Prime Minister bore any resemblance to Hitler, but that the chaos in the Government was similar to a scene from Downfall.
"I'm not necessarily apologising to Mark Dreyfus - because his is confected outrage designed to get a headline," Mr Pyne told Sky News.
"But if anybody else has taken offence at that, well of course I retract the statement."
He has called on Mr Dreyfus, who is Jewish, to apologise for comments he made in 2011 in which he likened Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's campaign against the carbon tax to Nazi propaganda.
"To call Tony Abbott Joseph Goebbels two years ago and not to apologise was an outrageous and sick thing to do and he should apologise for that," Mr Pyne said.
"I'm bigger than Mark Dreyfus, he can't apologise.
"Two years later he's still clinging to the idea that he was right and I'm quite happy to retract that statement if it clears the air. Mark Dreyfus should do the same."
But Mr Dreyfus says his comment was quite different because it was "very specific and targeted" to the propaganda techniques.
And he has hit back at Mr Pyne's "callous non-apology".
"Mr Pyne's description this morning of my personal response to his remarks as 'confected outrage' is grotesque," Mr Dreyfus said in a statement.
"The circumstances of my father and grandparents' arrival in Australia are detailed in my first speech to Parliament and have been on the public record since 2008."
Conservatives beat Labor on donations list
The Coalition has comprehensively beaten Labor when it comes to financial donations and income, according to figures released by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
The federal and state divisions of the Liberal Party received a little over $55 million during the past financial year, while their Nationals colleagues reported just over $8 million.
In contrast, Labor's federal and state branches recorded just under $50 million in income.
Various clubs and hotel associations donated almost $500,000 to the Coalition but only about $50,000 to the ALP.
The Government fought a drawn-out battle with clubs last year over plans to introduce new restrictions on poker machines. The legislation passed both houses of Parliament in November.
According to AEC figures, Philip Morris and British American Tobacco donated a combined total of just $8,000 to the Liberal Party during 2011-12, significantly lower than the year before.
The Labor Party's biggest donors were unions and the Canberra Labor Club, which operates poker machines in four venues. It also declared $800,000 in donations from John Curtin House Pty Ltd.
The Liberals' single-biggest donation came from the Cormack Foundation, which provided $2.3 million. The Free Enterprise Foundation Pty Ltd donated $490,000.
The Greens received $25,000 from Val Waldron. It also received $12,500 from the ACT branch of the CFMEU.
The Greens say there needs to be more regulation of political donations, while independent MP Andrew Wilkie has called on the major parties to reject "dirty money" from the poker machine industry.
"Like tobacco industry donations, it's entirely unethical for political parties to accept close to $1 million in donations from people who profit from the misery of problem gamblers," Mr Wilkie said in a statement.
"No-one hands over that sort of money without expecting something in return.
"Donations like this corrupt proper political process and are every bit as dodgy as bags full of cash changing hands in corrupt developing countries."
Inconvenient truth from Australia: Sea level rise is decelerating
A paper published in the Journal of Coastal Research finds that sea level rise around mainland Australia decelerated from 1940 to 2000. According to the latest NOAA sea level budget, global sea levels rose at only 1.1 - 1.3 mm/year from 2005-2012, which is less than half of the rate claimed by the IPCC [3.1 mm/yr] and is equivalent to less than 5 inches per century. Contrary to alarmist claims, sea level rise decelerated over the 20th century, has also decelerated since 2005, and there is no evidence of any human influence on sea levels.
Is There Evidence Yet of Acceleration in Mean Sea Level Rise around Mainland Australia?
P. J. Watson
As an island nation with some 85% of the population residing within 50 km of the coast, Australia faces significant threats into the future from sea level rise. Further, with over 710,000 addresses within 3 km of the coast and below 6-m elevation, the implication of a projected global rise in mean sea level of up to 100 cm over the 21st century will have profound economic, social, environmental, and planning consequences. In this context, it is becoming increasingly important to monitor trends emerging from local (regional) records to augment global average measurements and future projections.
The Australasian region has four very long, continuous tide gauge records, at Fremantle (1897), Auckland (1903), Fort Denison (1914), and Newcastle (1925), which are invaluable for considering whether there is evidence that the rise in mean sea level is accelerating over the longer term at these locations in line with various global average sea level time-series reconstructions.
These long records have been converted to relative 20-year moving average water level time series and fitted to second-order polynomial functions to consider trends of acceleration in mean sea level over time. The analysis reveals a consistent trend of weak deceleration at each of these gauge sites throughout Australasia over the period from 1940 to 2000. Short period trends of acceleration in mean sea level after 1990 are evident at each site, although these are not abnormal or higher than other short-term rates measured throughout the historical record.