Friday, March 15, 2013

Ita Buttrose joins growing chorus of prominent Australians who don't back Labor's media "reforms"

AUSTRALIAN of The Year Ita Buttrose has slammed Labor's media reforms saying the public should be the ultimate judge of what is appropriate journalism.

The publishing queen told News Limited she was disappointed with the government's package of reforms, announced this week, and did not believe greater regulation of the press was necessary.

"I don't think we need any further regulation," Ms Buttrose said.

"There are already enough regulatory authorities and it's not really clear what the problem is with the current way of doing things.

"At the end of the day the public makes their own decisions. If they feel we've done the wrong thing they switch us off or don't buy us. The public should be the ultimate arbiter."

Ms Buttrose has been a staple of the Australian media landscape for decades. She was the founding editor of Cleo and editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph in the 1980s.

In January Ms Buttrose was announced as the 2013 Australian of The Year at a ceremony on the lawns of Parliament House presented by Julia Gillard.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has come under fire for Labor's media reforms, with many slamming the package as an attempt to constrain freedom of the press.

Senator Conroy has said the measures would be put into parliament next week and needed to be passed by Thursday or they would be abandoned.

This morning he said it was not an imposition to ask parliament to pass the laws quickly because the issue had been debated since 2007.

"For people to suggest that there hasn't been an effective debate around the country, they are just ignoring the facts," he told ABC radio.

He said some of the media coverage on the reforms had been "hysterical" considering the concepts in the package had been in place in the US and UK for years.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said he believed it was unlikely the reforms would pass through parliament.

He said Senator Conroy had done a poor job at selling the package.   "He could not sell fresh fish to starving seals," Mr Turnbull told the Nine Network.

Labor needs to secure the votes of several independent MPs in order to pass the reforms.  But former Labor MP now independent Craig Thomson and independent Rob Oakeshott have both indicated they won't back the package.


Qld authorities failed abused baby: report

Typical bureaucratic indifference is no match for evil

A BABY girl was not protected from abuse by her parents because of multiple failings by Queensland's child safety department, a watchdog says.

The baby suffered bleeding on the brain, broken legs, haemorrhaging in both eyes and fractured ribs, and 10 child protection workers could face disciplinary action.

A report by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian (CCYPCG) says the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services failed the baby multiple times, according to Fairfax.

The report says the department may be liable for legal fees if the child decides to sue for neglect when she is older.

The report says the baby was sent home from hospital with her parents when she was supposed to be taken into child safety protection, and that her parents, in particular her father, had a history of child abuse.

It's claimed an interstate agency had also contacted the department warning them of the unborn child's risk when the girl's mother was pregnant.

But the department failed to issue an Unborn Child High Risk Alert which would have told hospital staff to notify them of the girl's birth.

"The subject child was detrimentally affected by multiple failures in the department's service delivery which amounts to maladministration and requires redress," the CCYPCG's report said.

"... as such, the department has an ongoing responsibility to provide not only ongoing care, protection and therapeutic services for the subject child, but also to ensure access to appropriate legal services and other advice and assistance.

"This will allow the subject child to pursue any legal and other remedies available, at an appropriate age and time."

The department's Ethical Standards Unit as well as the Crime and Misconduct Commission are assessing whether 10 child protection workers should face disciplinary action.

The CCYPCG's recommendations include overhauling practices within the department as well as providing an apology and explanation to the girl when she's old enough.

The girl will remain in care until she turns 18.


RBA official delivers jobs caution, property optimism

The Reserve Bank is sceptical about February's job surge, but it has reaffirmed its cautiously optimistic view of the housing market.

A senior RBA official says a huge surge in jobs growth in February will not be the single determining factor for the central bank's outlook on interest rates.

ABS figures released yesterday showed 71,500 jobs were added to the economy last month, and the unemployment rate remained steady for the third month in a row, at 5.4 per cent.

Speaking to the Australian Institute of Building in Sydney last night, one of the Reserve Bank's assistant governors, Christopher Kent, said the future of Australia's jobs market was hard to predict.

"I would pause for a minute to think - we don't want to turn things around on the basis of one month's number, particularly as I referred to, some of this number may be overstated," he cautioned.

"The labour market is very important, but it's not the full story, so you'd want to sort of be looking at a range of other indicators before you made that call [that rates should not be cut any further]."

However, Dr Kent did say there are clear signs of a nascent pick up in the real estate and construction sectors.

Dr Kent says low interest rates, the relatively easy availability of credit for home buyers, and confidence in housing prices are the key factors driving growth.

"Our liaison with industry has confirmed that the demand for new housing has been more positive over recent months," he said.

"At the same time, however, our contacts note that conditions remain relatively subdued in most states."

Dr Kent says, with mortgage repayments taking up the lowest proportion of disposable income in the past decade, housing construction levels should rise.

"The availability and relatively low cost of finance for home purchases, combined with improving conditions in the established housing market, has been supporting housing construction in the last couple of quarters, and the expectation is that dwelling investment will continue pick up from here," he said.

"However it's really hard to know how strong this pick up is likely to be."

Dr Kent also says there has been a clear shift to higher density housing over the past decades, and that is likely to have a big impact on the market in the longer term.


PM accused of using rubbery figures in 457 visa fight

She wants to keep LEGAL immigrants out  -- while hosting thousands of useless "asylum seekers"

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is being accused of using rubbery figures to justify her call for a crackdown on 457 visa rorts.

On Thursday Ms Gillard told an Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) conference that temporary overseas work was growing faster than employment.

She said temporary overseas worker numbers were up 20 per cent compared with the same time last year, whereas employment growth for the period was only 1 per cent.

"That in itself is evidence of a problem," she said.

"The number of people coming here to fill short-term gaps should not be growing 20 times faster than employment overall."

But demographer and government adviser Peter McDonald says the Prime Minister's statement does not bear scrutiny.

He says that is because the retirement of baby boomers means Australia starts each year 140,000 workers short.

457 visa numbers

    2011-12 - 125,070
    2009-10 - 67,980
    2007-08 - 110,570
    2003-04 - 39,500

"If the labour force grows by 1 per cent as the Prime Minister says, that's about 120,000 [people]," he said.

"So we take the 120,000 growth, 140,000 we have to make up, [making a] combined 260,000 new workers that we have to get into the labour force, and 457s make up about 40,000 of that.

"I think the way the Prime Minister expressed it about growth rates, not using numbers, was really statistically misleading."

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor says Mr McDonald's comments are wrong and irrelevant.

"The Government is perfectly correct in saying the total 457 issues has vastly outstripped total employment growth, but the total figures really aren't the point of our reforms," he said.

"The Government doesn't think all 457s are rorts, the Government thinks there are problems with particular firms and particular occupations."

The ABC has confirmed that no-one in the bureaucracy is driving the Government's push against 457 visas.

On the contrary, the Immigration Department issued a statement in February saying falling demand since last June showed the program was responding well to economic needs.

But Ms Gillard sees it differently: "457s are a gap filler for our skills-poor economy at times and places of highest need. Yet that is simply not what is happening today and that is why we must fix it," she told the union summit.

Ms Gillard also said it was unacceptable that too many temporary overseas workers were filling health jobs and that local workers were missing out.  She said tighter requirements on visa applicants and employers would address that.

"Most striking of all is the widespread use of temporary skilled labour in hospitals and health," she said.

But Mr McDonald says "nasty" comments like that undermine the system.  "The Prime Minister talked about health workers, for example, in I think quite a nasty way," he said.

"The health workers that she's [talking about are] highly skilled health workers, many of them working in regional areas, the only doctor for miles, the only pharmacist for miles.

"And she's telling them that they've been given the priority whereas Australians have to clean the toilets or work cleaning the hospitals, etc.  "I think that's pretty nasty stuff."


1 comment:

Paul said...

I actually think that Gillard, having paid a little attention to polling between Rooty Hill Mummyblogger (ex-safety Lesbian) love-ins, has decided she needs to look tough on Immigration, but for obvious reasons she won't look credible by suddenly caring about illegals pretending to be refugees, so she's targeted a straw-man: the 457 system. She can say she's "cracking down on rorts" but its a relatively cost-free exercise in spin. Thing is though, everyone I know can tell the difference between a third-world pervert and a skilled migrant (even a semi-skilled), and the rorts she refers to are not numerous enough to be anything more than a normal side effect of any Government policy from any time. In summary, she's reacted to polling by creating a straw-man and knocking it down. I get a sense that even her own Party are getting weary of her chronic bullshit.