Monday, March 11, 2013

We'll fire climate staff and sub-let offices, warns Federal conservative spokesman

An incoming Coalition government might sack staff from the doomed Climate Change Department if they refuse to take redundancies.

The subsequent surplus office space in the Nishi building could be sub-let, or the Coalition might cancel the department's 15-year $158 million lease.

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt detailed plans for abolishing the department amid reports the government might get in first to make savings in the budget.

Abolishing the Climate Change Department would reduce overlap with other areas, Mr Hunt said.

"From a managerial perspective, I think it makes a lot more sense. It's a significant and genuine efficiency and improvement," he said on Sunday. "It's more logical and more efficient to have a single department of climate and the environment."

Mr Hunt said the merger would result in job reductions. "The merged department will be significantly smaller," he said.

"Our preference is to have voluntary redundancies - we've never hidden that it would be a significantly smaller department."

Mr Hunt described the Climate Change Department's lease as one of the worst property deals for the Commonwealth in the past 20 years.  "They've managed to lock us in for an extraordinary amount of time with a building that is arguably surplus to needs," he said.

"We'll review the contract and review the options for sub-leasing to the private sector. I don't want to pre-empt the outcome of what would be a genuine review process.

"I am extremely confident from discussions I have had that we can save the Commonwealth very, very significant amounts of money.  "We will make significant savings in terms of staffing and associated administrative and building costs."

A Coalition government would also abolish the Energy Security Council, the Climate Change Authority and the Climate Change Commission, as well as the $10 billion Clean Energy Fund.

Speculation on the Climate Change Department was sparked after Prime Minister Julia Gillard said last month its secretary, Blair Comley, would leave.

Nishi developers Molonglo Group said on Wednesday the apartments were nearly finished but was unable to give a firm idea of when the project would be completed. Most work at the Acton site has been shut down since last Monday, when Ply, the main contractor, allegedly owing millions to local subcontractors, called in the administrators.


Homework hits home as Qld. schools outsource teaching to parents

MUMS and dads will be asked to teach their children literacy and numeracy at home under a state reform designed to improve student results.

Parents will be called on to play a bigger role in education under new instructions from Education Queensland to schools.

The move is recognition of research showing children learn much more from their parents than their teachers.

Parent body P&Cs Qld welcomes the idea, saying "it is the parent's responsibility to be the educator".

Principals are also supportive, saying the idea would counter the shift in responsibility from parents to schools.

Under the instructional framework, state schools are being told to consider running training and developmental courses for parents and to invite them in as guest teachers.

Other initiatives include setting practical literacy and numeracy activities that involve parents, providing parent literacy and numeracy workshops and sending staff into homes to explain the jargon used in schools.

"Parents and the broader community play a vital role in supporting successful learning outcomes for our children," the framework states.

It says a key marker of success will be parents being acknowledged as the first teachers of their children.

Some schools, including Redbank Plains and Glenala state high schools, have already demonstrated remarkable improvements in student results.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said the framework was about "valuing parents as part of the education process", not just telling them about it.

"It has got huge merit and it has got merit because what it recognises is that education doesn't just take place in school," Mr Bates said.

He said research showed school was responsible for about 20 per cent of a child's learning, family about 40 per cent and social about 40 per cent.

"In that sort of a situation we have to realise that clearly schools can do a lot, but they can't do it all," he said.

EQ deputy director-general Lyn McKenzie said the new framework was about turning "good schools into great schools". She said the teachers would not be doing less.

"It is about how can we help the parent add value to their child," Ms McKenzie said.

"Unless we work with the families in helping them understand how to assist their child in their learning then it will be more difficult to go from good to great schools."

Qld P&Cs CEO Peter Levett said the group backed the framework. "It can be as simple as reading to your child or asking them at the end of the day how school went," Mr Levett said.

"It comes back to ... that parents are the first teachers of their children and that responsibility continues throughout your child's education.

"Obviously there are parents that are time poor (but) it is the parent's responsibility to be the educator and that is not taking away from what the school is doing, it is adding to it."

Queensland Association of State School Principals president Hilary Backus agreed.

"Over the last 15 to 20 years there has been a massive shift to schools being asked to be responsible for elements such as teaching your child to swim, sex education and behaviour, which previously were clearly the responsibility and domain of parents," Mrs Backus said.

She said parents without a good education could make a difference by demonstrating they valued learning.


Hanson wants to contest next election

Former One Nation MP Pauline Hanson says she wants to contest the next federal election.  Ms Hanson says she will run as an independent in a Queensland seat but has not decided which one.

She represented the federal seat of Oxley in Queensland for two years from 1996.  She was originally pre-selected as a Liberal but was dumped from the party, sat as an independent and then founded One Nation.

Ms Hanson has raised migration and job security as key concerns.

"Our country's changing, we're not being listened to," she said.  "Too many people are hurting.

"My fear is that my children and my grandchildren and many other Australians will never own their own home, there's no job security.

"We're bringing in people into the country that are filling positions that belong to Australians.

"I think that we need to take a stance on who we are as a nation, as a people, as our culture and our way of life."


Surgeon wins big payout over job loss

The South Australian Government has agreed to pay a cardiac surgeon $4.3 million in compensation over loss in income and damage to his reputation.

Professor John Knight was stood down by Flinders Medical Centre in 2009 during an investigation of an 81-year-old heart patient's death.  The surgeon later was cleared by the Coroner of any wrongdoing.

But after a brief period of re-employment Professor Knight's contract with the hospital was not renewed.

Opposition health spokesman Rob Lucas said it would cost taxpayers even more once legal costs were added.  "This is a disgraceful example of incompetence and financial mismanagement by the South Australian Government and Health SA and ultimately the cost to taxpayers will be in excess of $6 million," he said.

"Once the Coroner completely exonerated Professor Knight, the issue for the former minister for health and the Government is why did the Government then continue both his demotion, in terms of no longer being head of the unit, and then ultimately the non-renewal of his contract in the public health system at the Flinders Medical Centre?"

The SA Government's internal consultant Warren McCann will now head a review.

Health Minister Jack Snelling told Parliament it would examine SA Health's policies relating to the suspension of staff.

"Following this settlement and the earlier coronial inquest, I announce that I have approached Mr Warren McCann, Commissioner of Public Sector Employment, to carry out an independent review of the circumstances in which it is appropriate for a suspension of a clinician or health worker to be made," he said.

Professor Knight said the settlement confirmed the claims made against him were false and mischievous.  "Whilst these outcomes are satisfying I am still without an apology from the Government," he said.

"I'm also profoundly saddened that I continue to be deprived of the ability to continue my academic career and work in the public hospital system.

"Furthermore I remain deeply distressed that a number of people who loyally stood by me in the face of baseless allegations have suffered ostracism and harassment in the workplace and ultimately loss of position."

Former health minister John Hill said he never personally attacked the cardiac surgeon.

Mr Hill, who made a statement to Parliament at the time of Professor Knight's suspension, now said he only relayed facts about the case at the time.


1 comment:

Paul said...

If Tim Flannery gets fired, I'd like to watch.