Sunday, April 14, 2013

Short arse

But not short of bull

The rifle the Chinese navy honour guard is carrying is an SKS

A corrupt organization

Two more reports below about crookedness at  Australia's largest scientific research organization, the CSIRO.  An earlier report was covered on this blog on 11th.   The Green/Left have no committment to truth and honesty.  "There is no such thing as right and wrong" is their gospel.  So they eventually destroy anything they get control of.  And given their support for global warming and persecution of any kind of dissent, it is clear that the Green/Left now run the CSIRO.  See here and here and here and here and here

CSIRO faked documents, whistleblower tells court

A senior CSIRO manager who blew the whistle on the alleged illegal use of intellectual property by CSIRO was forced out of the country's peak scientific body after senior staff convened "sham" job selection panels and faked an official document in an attempt to mislead him, a court has heard.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal made a damning assessment of the internal workings of the national science institute and criticised two senior executives for giving unreliable evidence in court. One of those men is group executive Calum Drummond, whose position sits one rung below CSIRO's chief executive.

But despite the tribunal's dramatic castigation, the boss of CSIRO, Megan Clark, told a Senate estimates committee in February there would be no internal investigation of the matter, nor any disciplinary action taken against the two senior staff.

CSIRO's treatment of Martin Williams, a highly successful former business manager, may not have been unique. An investigation by the Herald has found that in some sections of the organisation, bullying is rife. In February, the CSIRO announced an independent inquiry would review claims of bullying and harassment, chaired by the former Commonwealth ombudsman Dennis Pearce.

In the case of Mr Williams, whose job "was to keep scientists out of jail" by ensuring contracts were legally vetted, things began to unravel in mid 2008 when the CSIRO division he worked for merged with two others and he found himself without a position.

But instead of following normal procedures to redeploy Mr Williams - a deputy of the former Textile and Fibre Technology division who brought in more than $53 million of research funding over a decade - senior staff gave him conflicting advice, disregarded company policy and convened "sham" selection panels, the tribunal heard.

In one instance, a senior manager, Damien Thomas, sent an email to Mr Williams that the tribunal's Deputy President James Constance concluded was "deliberately false".

The affair left Mr Williams with a severe mental illness and unable to work: "The bullying completely destroyed my health," Mr Williams said.

In a 10-day hearing last year, his case against the Commonwealth's workplace insurer, Comcare, exposed CSIRO's woeful redundancy process.

Deputy President Constance found the "inconsistent and at times ill-considered" advice given to Mr Williams by senior staff a significant contributor to his illness. He made no findings on the panel selection process.

"I am satisfied that the conflicting advice was a result of insufficient care being taken in the management of Mr Williams' situation or of a deliberate intention to mislead Mr Williams," he said.

He also found Dr Drummond, the former head of the merged division, now group executive of manufacturing, materials and minerals, an unreliable witness.

A spokesman for the CSIRO, Huw Morgan, said the tribunal's findings related to the witnesses' poor memory of the events and were not a reflection of their professional conduct.

Mr Williams' duty to authorise CSIRO partnerships could put him at odds with the organisation's scientists, including several researchers he alleges "fell into contract" with the Victorian government using intellectual property not owned by CSIRO.

Mr Morgan said while a funding proposal was submitted to the government, a partnership was never approved or agreed to.

Mr Williams, who has not been able to work since September 2008, said the CSIRO had transformed from a benevolent organisation into a ruthlessly competitive workplace, that was burdened by pressure to generate income.

"I got nothing. I got worse than nothing."


CSIRO accused of more shabby tactics

In late 2004, Sylwester Chyb was teaching at the prestigious Imperial College in England when the award-winning entomologist was presented with an exciting opportunity - becoming a molecular cell biologist at Australia's peak scientific body.

Urged by CSIRO to accept the position and promised he would lead a team working towards discoveries in the area of his specialty - insect neurobiology - Dr Chyb saw a bright future in Australia.

But within days of uprooting his family in 2005 and moving to Canberra, things began to fall apart. Now the eminent scientist is taking the CSIRO to court, accusing it of bullying, deception and breach of contract.  "It was the biggest mistake of my life," Dr Chyb said.

His experience is the latest revelation in a Fairfax Media investigation into the workings of Australia's peak science organisation, which has revealed evidence of serious mismanagement and questionable practices.

There were clear warning signs even as Dr Chyb negotiated his contract. According to his statement of claim, shortly after his final interview, Dr Stephen Trowell, an official in the same division, invited him for a coffee at the CSIRO Discovery Centre at Black Mountain.

"I had never heard of Stephen Trowell, but he claimed to be working in my area," Dr Chyb recalled. "He said, 'Don't worry, if you're unsuccessful, then you can work for me."'

It was only years later Dr Chyb discovered that his appointment had been recommended by external reviewers to the CSIRO to overcome Dr Trowell's perceived shortcomings.

Dr Trowell's comment was troubling because it would have been a significant demotion for the Oxford and Cambridge-educated scientist. After he raised his concerns, the contract Dr Chyb signed had another scientist identified as his line manager. Despite this, Dr Chyb's statement of claim in the Federal Court says that on his first day of work he discovered that Dr Trowell was indeed his boss and would remain so until midway through the following year.

It was a portent of what was to come. He became increasingly upset at what he perceived to be a campaign against him and he contributed to the tension with what he acknowledges was direct language. The funding promised for long-term research into insect chemoreception he says largely never materialised.

In mid-2009 his division bosses refused him permission to accept a publishing deal for a groundbreaking book on the Drosophila, or fruit fly, which is a widely used laboratory model organism. He was not allowed to work on it even in his own time.

In the end it was the breakdown of Dr Chyb's relationship with Dr Trowell that led to his departure. It was only years later that he discovered an external review by international science leaders had made a frank assessment of Dr Trowell's scientific standing.

"The committee considers that although the leader has a track record of patenting and as a CEO of a start-up company … he does not have as much credibility as the committee feels necessary," the document said.

"The addition to this group of Dr S. Chyb, a researcher with a good publication record and interest in insect gustatory receptors is seen as a positive development."

In April 2009 Dr Trowell accused Dr Chyb of intimidating a younger scientist; he was forced to formally apologise a few days later for an email he circulated containing the allegation.

At the end of the year a misconduct investigation was sparked, which led to Dr Chyb's departure. He had been accused of trying to profit from the accommodation allowance CSIRO gave a recruit - he had moved into a studio flat Dr Chyb and his wife owned - but Dr Chyb had expressly sought permission for the transaction. Now CSIRO is relying on this allegation as part of its defence against Dr Chyb's legal claim.

While he was defending that accusation Dr Chyb discovered a discrepancy in the money budgeted for his researcher's relocation on a document which carried his signature. Dr Chyb was sure he had never signed it.

And he was right. An external investigation commissioned by CSIRO found his signature had been electronically forged on to the page.

The investigation against Dr Chyb over the researcher's stay never eventuated. Instead, CSIRO made Dr Chyb's position redundant.

"They painted a picture of no-compromise, blue-sky science," he said. "But [I] ended up working … on very applied projects. There would be no way I would give up my permanent job for that."

Dr Chyb's court hearing is set down for later this year.


Great Green fallacy revealed

Opposition to the proposed natural gas processing hub near James Price Point  in Northern West Australia,  was NOT widespread in the area concerned. 

A DAY after Woodside's decision to abandon its $40 billion Kimberley gas plan and a month after Colin Barnett's emphatic win in the west, a key tenet of an extraordinary environmental campaign can be exposed for what it always was - a great Green lie.

The battle over Woodside's facility at James Price Point was turned into middle Australia's cause celebre by rock stars and Green royalty such as Missy Higgins, John Butler and Bob Brown.

While environmentalists will today be celebrating news that Woodside has all but walked away from the proposal, they can't escape the election result that should finally kill the false notion that the majority of Kimberley residents - including thousands of indigenous Australians - did not want the project to go ahead.

Consider this: in the lead-up to the March 9 election the Greens threw everything they had at the remote seat vacated by Labor's retiring Carol Martin, the first indigenous woman to be elected to an Australian parliament.

Martin, along with the Kimberley Land Council, the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre, and the Kimberley Language and Resource Centre, which represents the 29 tribal groups across the region, backed the project because they believed it would break the cycle of indigenous welfare dependency, particularly in tourist town Broome, and create jobs.

Year after year organisations and identities such as Environs Kimberley, WWF Australia, the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation claimed the majority of locals did not want the project in their backyard (despite it being 60km north of Broome) and that the original consenting vote among traditional owners was somehow corrupt. However, three of the four parties - the Liberals, the Nationals and Labor - supported James Price Point. The Greens, standing alone, made no apologies for their stance.

Liberal Jenny Bloom picked up 25.7 per cent of the primary vote, Michele Pucci of the Nationals 18.4 per cent, Labor's Josie Farrer 26.7 per cent and the Greens' Chris Maher secured 23.5 per cent. So seven out of 10 people eligible to vote supported a party that wanted the project to go ahead. That is about as comprehensive a vote of support as any proponent of the development could wish for.

The green rhetoric that worked so effectively in the faraway east had the complete opposite effect closer to the action in the west.

According to Newspoll, Green support slowly evaporated, from 12 to 8 per cent, as their Kimberley campaign evolved in the six months to March. On election day they were punished and now hold just one (upper house) seat in the WA parliament, down from five a few years ago.

While Woodside says the green campaign had little to do with its latest announcement, it's hard not to think that in some way it did.

As for the Greens, they must decide whether their role was worth their current political irrelevancy. And the wishes of the local indigenous population for a brighter future have again been shattered.


Wood heater link to heart, lung diseases

But it's "sustainable"

Hundreds of thousands of Australians are endangering their health by the regular use of wood heaters at home.

About 1 million homes regularly use wood-burning heaters, despite links to heart and lung disease. Health and environment experts are calling on the federal government to better regulate their use.

In a submission to a Senate inquiry into the impact of air quality on health, a Launceston lung specialist, James Markos, said there was no safe threshold for the fine particle pollution that resulted from wood-burning heaters, just as there was no safe threshold for exposure to tobacco smoke.

Along with irritating existing conditions such as asthma and emphysema, studies had found that prolonged exposure to wood smoke was an "important environmental risk factor" in fatal heart or lung disease or lung cancer, he said.

At particular risk were those with lung disease, children, older people and those who lived in valleys, where smoke could get trapped.

The inquiry, which holds its first hearing on Tuesday, comes as the Council of Australian Governments environment council released a discussion paper on national action to reduce emissions from wood heaters.

According to the paper, wood heater emissions are a "significant" contributor to particle pollution in Australia during winter. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found 10 per cent of homes used wood heaters as the main source of heat. This adds up to about 1.1 million wood heaters around the country, with about 25,000 new ones sold each year.

While state governments and local councils have introduced schemes to reduce wood heater emissions and a review of the Australian standards for emissions is now under way, an Edith Cowan University adjunct professor, John Todd, has told the inquiry a national taskforce was needed.

The environment consultant argued that there had been little change in wood heater technology for 30 years, and the government should invest in research to produce cleaner-burning heaters. "This is a national problem," Dr Todd said.

The Australian Medical Association said the "big issue" was that the exact impact of wood smoke on health was not being measured. Its president, Steve Hambleton, said that even though average air quality was monitored in Australia, it needed to be checked in specific pockets.

The Australian Home Heating Association already has a proposal to change the national standard for wood heaters, to reduce the particulate matter per kilogram of wood burnt, from 4 grams to 2.5 grams. General manager Demi Brown said owners could also minimise smoke if they used their heaters correctly.

Ms Brown said that governments needed to better enforce compliance standards for wood heaters. She said her organisation had notified state environmental protection authorities several times about heaters for sale that were not certified, or that differed from their certified design. They received no reply or follow-up, she said.

But she noted that wood heating emitted fewer greenhouse gases than other forms of home heating, and provided a warmth no other energy source could rival.

Parliamentary secretary for sustainability Amanda Rishworth said the government was participating in the inquiry and would respond to its findings.


Time for next generation Disability Benefits reform

The recent reforms in the United Kingdom’s welfare system have so far led to 878,000 people being taken off the British equivalent of Australia’s Disability Support Pension (DSP). Hundreds of thousands of people are now off welfare because they chose not to have their eligibility reassessed after the Cameron government decided to reassess the eligibility for everyone on disability benefits.

Australia’s government introduced tougher eligibility requirements in early 2012, resulting in the total number of people on DSP drop from 831,000 in December 2011 to 824,000 in February 2013. The DSP costs around $15 billion a year to fund.

Australia’s relatively modest fall, while welcome, is largely the result of reducing the number of new entrants to the DSP rather than moving people off it.

When the Gillard government introduced the tougher eligibility criteria last year, it chose not to reassess existing recipients en masse – unlike the UK government.

Mission Australia chief Toby Hall said about 350,000 to 400,000 people on DSP are capable of re-joining the workforce. Most of these people can work at least 8 hours a week; however, because there are no participation requirements for the DSP, these DSP recipients don’t even have to look for work.

There is enormous untapped potential here. Already, 75% of the economic benefits of the NDIS are contingent on DSP reform, and we need to start looking at the next generation of DSP reform now.

Some of the more ambitious reform proposals suggest carving out those people on DSP who have a partial capacity to work and placing them on a new benefit similar to Newstart. Reforms along these lines would include modest participation requirements and provide a number of incentives to make it easier for more people to move off welfare and into work.

Over the last few years, the government has made it substantially tougher to get onto the DSP. To ensure future prosperity, it is essential to make it easier to get off the DSP.


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