Monday, April 01, 2013

Animal Health Australia wants cattle dogs used to the minimum

Alert eyes that don't miss much above.  They're amazing dogs

THE iconic Aussie cattle dog has been brought to heel, under new animal welfare rules that could see farmers jailed for cruelty.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) has told sheep and cattle farmers the use of dogs and electric prods "should be limited to the minimum necessary".

Sheep dogs with a habit of biting must be muzzled - as well as cattle dogs rounding up calves. The AHA wants public feedback on its plans for the first national animal welfare standards for cattle and sheep.

Farmers would be fined and possibly even jailed for deliberate cruelty, under the proposed rules to come into force next year.

Livestock must be given adequate nutrition, water, space and "social contact" with other animals.

Cattle Council animal health and welfare adviser Justin Toohey yesterday said stressed cattle produced tougher meat.

"The drover's dogs are part of the family but there has been a trend to move away from dogs for cattle," he said."It's not such a big issue mustering in open paddocks, but in yards the dogs can go a bit ballistic.

"You can get dogs biting the hocks and I've seen dogs swing on the tail and bite off the brush."

AHA spokesman Kevin de Witte said dogs biting sheep and cattle was "always an issue".  "Essentially we're using a predatory species to herd a prey species," he said.

"If you've ever seen a sheep dog trial it's a beautiful thing to see, but dogs that are not under control and bite or bark constantly are no longer really acceptable."

Sheepmeat Council chief executive Ron Cullen said a good sheepdog was "worth a couple of good men".  "The dog uses its eye and its bark, and knows how to stand and push," he said.

Working Kelpie Council vice-president Barbara Cooper said few farmers used the Australian cattle dog, a mix of collie, dingo and ``a dash of dalmatian".

"The cattle dog is a severe biter," she said."He was developed when the sheep were wild, and was a necessary part of the pioneering situation.

"But now the cattle are handled regularly and don't require a severe biting job, so most of the livestock management is kelpies or border collies."

The AHA is a non-profit company set up by the federal, state and territory governments, and farming and animal welfare groups. Its proposed guidelines state that cattle and sheep must be kept safe from extreme weather, drought, fires, floods, disease, injury and predation.

Farmers must not fire metal pellets at cows during mustering, and must not use electric prodders "in an unreasonable manner".

"A person in charge must have a dog under effective control at all times during the handling of cattle (and) ensure a dog is muzzled when moving calves less than 30 days old that are without cows," the guidelines state.

"A person in charge of a dog that habitually bites sheep must muzzle the dog while working sheep."

Toni Gardiner, who has been a registered cattle dog breeder for nearly 20 years, said public feedback on the national standards will help dogs.

"Any person being cruel to an animal, whether they are farmers or not, should be jailed for animal cruelty," she said.

"It is up to the owner/handler to ensure that they have chosen the right dog and that it is fully trained for the job intended."


Health Minister promises shakedown for investigating complaints of negligence by doctors

SOME doctors facing criminal negligence allegations had complaints made against them up to a decade ago but were allowed to continue practising.

Queensland Health sources confirmed there had been delays of some years in investigating botched surgeries that maimed and killed patients in private and public hospitals across Queensland.

Some doctors were allowed to keep practising with restrictions on the surgery they could perform.

Others who drew complaints were allowed to keep working under supervision.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg yesterday vowed a major shake-up of health watchdogs after The Sunday Mail revealed incidents involving six doctors are among 23 cases referred to police.

Mr Springborg said Queensland would no longer tolerate delays caused by cases being shuffled between federal and state agencies.

He said the cases were "disturbing" and cast a shadow of the fine work being done by most doctors and nurses.

"Many of these cases came to light shortly after the Newman Government came to power," Mr Springborg said.  "We are not going to tolerate a situation in Queensland where cases are not fully resolved."

Mr Springborg won the backing of the Australian Medical Association.  Queensland president Dr Alex Markwell said it was regrettable some complaints "fell through the cracks".

A review of government agencies handling patient complaints was necessary to maintain confidence in the profession, she said.

"The AMA is currently preparing a detailed response to the range of options being assessed by the Health Minister to ensure such matters can be addressed openly, transparently and efficiently in the future," Dr Markwell said.

The criminal negligence accusations cross many fields of medicine.

Several patients allegedly suffered unnecessary amputations and another was left a quadriplegic after a surgeon failed to detect a neck injury.

One patient is believed to have died in an operation later found to be unnecessary.

Most of the accusations are against doctors at Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Gympie and Cairns.

The review of the cases was sparked by Queensland Health whistleblower Jo Barber, a former detective, who said serious complaints against doctors were often covered up by government agencies.

Mr Hunter also confirmed Ms Barber's claims that doctors with mental health and drug problems were still permitted to treat patients.

One doctor alone faces accusations over 11 cases relating to procedures including angioplasty, a procedure to widen blocked blood vessels.

Another faces multiple charges relating to breast enhancements and facelifts.


Crean would fight superannuation tax

DUMPED cabinet minister Simon Crean says there is widespread discontent in the Labor caucus over a potential plan to raid superannuation contributions and earnings in the May budget.

Mr Crean, who was integral in bringing on last month’s leadership showdown between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, said this morning he would oppose any moves by his own party to tax superannuation retrospectively.

“I don’t have a problem if we are going to improve adequacy going forward,” Mr Crean told ABC News 24.

“But we have got to draw the line if there is any attempt to tax retrospectively what people have accumulated because that is tantamount to taxing people surpluses – your surpluses – to fund our surplus.  "That’s not on.”

Asked if a lot of people within the Labor caucus shared his concern over potential changes to superannuation by Wayne Swan in the May 14 budget, Mr Crean responded: “They do”.

“I am not too sure at this stage what it is that is being proposed by those in the cabinet that are speaking about this, what I urge them to do is frame this debate sensibly,” he said.

Speculation has mounted that Labor plans to raid the superannuation contributions and earnings of wealthy Australians in order to help pay for some of its key policies like the Gonski education reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Two weeks ago Mr Crean sat in cabinet as Regional Australia minister. He was sacked by Ms Gillard after publicly calling for a leadership spill between her and Mr Rudd.

Last night Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he couldn’t guarantee an incoming Coalition government would repeal any changes to superannuation.

He said his party would oppose such changes but if passed they may not be able to be repealed immediately.

“What we can’t do is solve all the problems that this bad government has created overnight,” Mr Abbott told Sky News.

“There are many things that this government has done that we don’t like but it will take time to repair the damage that this government has done.”

Asked by News Limited this morning if he would consider crossing the floor if the superannuation changes came to a vote in parliament, Mr Crean said he was not getting ahead of himself.

“I have never threatened to cross the floor on any issue and I am not going to start now,” he said.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s frame the argument on the debate.”

Mr Crean wouldn’t say if he had received any feedback from Julia Gillard or Wayne Swan over his comments on superannuation.

“I’ve said what I have so say, so let’s just leave it at that,” he said.

The government has been accused of engaging in class warfare over retirement savings, with the opposition warning Labor is planning a "sneak attack" on super funds in the May budget, The Australian reports.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson on Sunday said his party had no plans to lift taxes on the superannuation of ordinary Australians but that super savings of the "fabulously wealthy" should be debated.

"People who are fabulously wealthy gaining effectively an advantage by putting their money into superannuation and being taxed at 15 per cent, where the everyday Australian may be facing a tax of 30 per cent, I think does enliven a debate," he told Sky News on Sunday.

"We are not seeking to impose new taxes on the superannuation accounts of ordinary Australians.  "But there is a legitimate debate about the very top end."


Tony Abbott reaffirms oppostion to gay marriage despite daughters' pleas

TONY Abbott is standing firm in his opposition to gay marriage despite his two youngest daughters urging for the practice to be legalised.

Mr Abbott last night said he would not allow a conscience vote on gay marriage while ever the official party position was against it.

“Coalition party policy is that marriage is between a man and a woman,” the Opposition Leader told Sky News on Sunday night.

“Now, if future party rooms decide that it is no longer party policy, well then, obviously, there won’t be a whipped vote, but it will be up to future party rooms to determine what the policy is.

“While it’s party policy there’s no question of a conscience vote. It only becomes a free vote if there is no policy on the subject.”

Mr Abbott’s daughters Bridget, 20, and Frances, 21, gave an interview to News Limited last week and said they hoped and prayed the issue of gay marriage would be legalised.

They said their view was cemented by seeing their aunt, Mr Abbott's youngest sister, Christine Forster fall in love with her partner Virginia Edwards.

Frances said being in the design community "where there is quite a large gay population" had illustrated "at the end of the day it is is equal."

"Dad and I have had a few discussions about it," Frances said.

"I believe it is inevitable, I believe by the time our generation gets into power I hope and pray something is done about marriage equality and gay rights."

Bridget added: "I just think being gay is a lot more accepted and open for our generation. Chris and Virginia are a completely normal couple. They're exactly the same as Mum and Dad except they happen to both be women."

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the issue of gay marriage could be a breakthrough election issue this year.

“It certainly was in the US election,” Mr Croome told ABC News 24 this morning.

“It will be the same in Australia. If either of our national leaders were to move forward on this issue it would be a big plus for them electorally. It would appeal to younger voters and it would certainly, for Julia Gillard, galvanise the Labor party in support of her.

“So I can’t see why they wouldn’t support this issue.”


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