Friday, February 01, 2013
Unofficial forecaster got recent Australian long-range weather forecast pretty right
Hayden Walker is the succesor to Lennox Walker who was in turn successor to the famous Inigo Jones, who was condemned as "unscientific" for his emphasis on solar activity as an influence on weather. He made good long-range forecasts, however. Farmers planned their planting and harvesting by him. They did not expect him to get the day right but getting the week or even the month right was still very valuable to them.
In the light of the week of sub-cyclonic weather that North Queensland has just had -- and which reached into Southern Queensland for a few days -- Walker would seem to have got close to reality. The forecasts below were reported on Nov. 20, 2012 and seem pretty right as of 30 January, 2013.
In the rest of the article excerpted below, none of the official forecasters even tried to make long-range predictions. More on Inigo Jones here
Brace for summer of wild weather, says forecaster
Fourth generation long-range weather forecaster Hayden Walker said the Coast would experience more storm and rain activity for the rest of November, before the weather tapered off in December and January.
"For the start of 2013, the forecast is for good to heavy rain in January," Mr Walker said. "It won't be as substantial as some years.
"We've seen in the last two to three years an increase in sunspot and solar activity - it intensifies the heavy rain and flooding."
Mr Walker said while the weekend's storm activity had broken the heat, the rest of spring and summer would be "humid and uncomfortable".
Despite cyclones being predicted for south-east Queensland this summer, Mr Walker believed cyclonic activity would be confined to northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Patients wait years for elective surgery in Queensland public hospitals
ALMOST 2300 patients who had elective operations in Queensland public hospitals last financial year had waited longer than 12 months for their surgery, a report says.
But doctors say many more Queenslanders are waiting years for potentially life-saving procedures, and their waits will only get longer as budget cuts take effect.
The Productivity Commission's latest Report on Government Services shows Queensland public hospitals fared favourably compared with other states in relation to elective surgery during 2011-12.
Australia-wide, 2.7 per cent of patients admitted to public hospitals from elective surgery lists during the 12 months had waited more than 365 days for their operations, compared with 2 per cent in Queensland.
Of the 114,328 patients who received elective surgery in Queensland public hospitals last financial year, 90 per cent were treated within 147 days.
But the report only captures elective surgery patients who received treatment last financial year, not those still on waiting lists.
It also fails to provide comparative data between the states on the so-called "waiting list to get on the waiting list", detailing the time it takes to consult a public hospital specialist before a patient can even be put on the elective surgery list.
Queensland started publishing those figures late last year, showing an eight-year wait for some patients to see a public specialist.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Alex Markwell said the report should be treated "with caution".
"I am inherently uncertain about that data because of the way that we triage our patients into elective surgery lists in Queensland," Dr Markwell said. "They may wait five years before they're actually seen in outpatients to then get put on the elective surgery list."
Dr Markwell said she expected Queensland's elective surgery waiting lists would blow out further as thousands of health workers lost their jobs.
"Princess Alexandra Hospital has put category 3 surgery on hold until at least June," she said.
Thomson arrest rocks Labor
The surprise arrest of beleaguered former Labor MP Craig Thomson has sent shockwaves through a government that was just coming to terms with its brave new world of a hyper-extended election campaign.
Mr Thomson's case, which has been a running sore for Labor, has now entered a critical phase just as Prime Minister Julia Gillard had seized the initiative with her September 14 election announcement.
Government and opposition figures reacted cautiously to the news of Thursday's arrest, eager to avoid the legal pitfalls of commenting on matters before the courts.
Mr Thomson faces 150 charges of fraud, any one of which has the potential, if he were found guilty, to force his disqualification from Federal Parliament. But legal experts said it was unlikely that court proceedings would be concluded before the election.
A more immediate threat comes from the massive hit to the MP's finances associated with funding his legal defence.
Fairfax Media last year revealed that NSW Labor had paid almost $350,000 in legal costs relating to Mr Thomson before the MP was suspended from the party in May.
An extract of a report from NSW Labor's finance committee, prepared for the state conference, showed $240,000 of that amount was to cover a defamation settlement with Fairfax Media.
It is understood that party officials had been worried that if the ALP had not footed the bills, Mr Thomson could have gone bankrupt, disqualifying him from being an MP and causing a byelection that could imperil the minority Gillard government.
It remains unclear how Mr Thomson will meet his new costs, having left the party and having no visible means of outside support.
If a byelection were required, it would be a matter for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Anna Burke, to issue the writs. But with an election date set, that is seen as unlikely.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was alerted to the news about Mr Thomson's arrest during the question-and-answer session of his National Press Club address.
"We have certainly respected, or tried to respect, the rule that you do not comment on the specifics of cases which are currently before the courts and we will respect that rule," he said.
But he said the matter again raised questions about the judgment of Ms Gillard, whom he claimed ran a "protection racket" for Mr Thomson. The Opposition would continue to pursue those judgment questions.
Coalition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz questioned what Ms Gillard knew and when, hinting that she might have been tipped off before she announced the election date on Wednesday.
This suggestion was rejected by Ms Gillard while she toured flood-affected Bundaberg, describing Mr Thomson's situation as "something for the police". Asked if she had any prior knowledge about the arrest, she said: "Of course not."
Trade Minister Craig Emerson would not be drawn on whether Mr Thomson, now an independent MP, should stand at the next election. "Let the investigative processes continue without political interference," he told Sky News, adding that Mr Thomson was entitled to the presumption of innocence. "There has been no finding of guilt against Mr Thomson," he said.
Mr Thomson has strenuously denied that he misused union funds to pay for prostitutes, air travel, entertainment and cash withdrawals when he was Health Services Union national secretary from 2002 to 2007.
His lawyer, Chris McArdle, was scathing about the arrest process as he defended his client's innocence. He criticised the way police had handled the arrest, complaining that journalists had received more warning than Mr Thomson.
A spokesman for NSW Police said Mr Thomson had been arrested because he refused an invitation before Christmas to surrender himself. "I believe that, from reading the warrant, he was invited to travel to Victoria to surrender himself prior to Christmas, he didn't do that," he told reporters.
The spokesman described Mr Thomson's demeanour as calm. "He's accepted what's been said to him, he hasn't argued."
Mr McArdle denied the NSW police account, saying Mr Thomson had only been invited to go to Victoria for an interview. "It is untrue to say we were invited to go and surrender our client for arrest," he told ABC TV. "If we had been given that invitation, we would have done so."
He explained that Mr Thomson had declined to be interviewed because he lived in a liberal democracy, "whereby you are not obliged to answer questions".
Mr Thomson will be disqualified from Parliament if he is convicted of a criminal offence that carries a jail term of one year or more.
HSU national president Chris Brown said that the union had received the news about Mr Thomson's arrest on Thursday, "like everyone else".
Bloated railway organization shrinking at the top
NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian says jobs might go in the latest RailCorp review Picture: Nic Gibson Source: The Daily Telegraph
NEARLY 200 senior RailCorp executives will have to reapply for their jobs - the latest get-tough policy from Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian as she strives to restructure the organisation
About 180 executives, all on more than $130,000 a year, will have to prove that they are up to the task - or lose their jobs to others.
The move comes after RailCorp chief executive Rob Mason has also been told he will have to reapply to be CEO of either new organisation.
The jobs spill is the latest in Ms Berejiklian's "Fixing the Trains" policy, kicked off last year by an announcement of 750 voluntary redundancies to RailCorp middle management, with 665 having been accepted to date.
Since then the Minister has axed another 230 positions and announced a reform of maintenance work so 450 maintenance jobs will be cut.
The 180 positions will be advertised externally, from this weekend. There are plans to also make other senior staff at RailCorp compete for a job.
The new rail operators, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, will begin on July 1 and will replace RailCorp. Ms Berejiklian has demanded the senior positions be advertised, with her office saying she wants to "ensure a new culture and new talent comes into the organisations and that the best RailCorp employees stay on".
"I said on day one that fixing the trains was about a complete overhaul of rail services in this state and this next step is to make sure we have the best people in senior positions - whether they be from outside or from within," Ms Berejiklian said.
"Our customers are demanding a change and I'm determined to see significant improvements, especially around customer service and making sure there are less back office middle managers and more people out on the platform helping passengers.
"These senior staff are the people I will be holding to account and they are the people the public expects to deliver a new level of customer service."