Sunday, May 12, 2013

A cop who makes sense

W. Aust.

POLICE chief Karl O'Callaghan will order officers to stop wasting time busting people for petty offences so they can focus on "real crime".

The Police Commissioner told The Sunday Times yesterday he was fed up with officers particularly traffic cops picking up drivers with broken brake lights when they should be chasing drink-drivers and speeders. "We're going to say to police officers, 'Don't bring me back infringements for tail lights. Bring me back evidence that you focused on the things that kill people'," Mr O'Callaghan said.

The commissioner will rein in officers, giving strict orders on what crimes to target and what suburbs to focus on, saying traffic police had too much latitude.

Mr O'Callaghan wants a greater focus on crime hot spots instead of Perth's "leafy suburbs."

"We get infringements for people who have one brake light not working or have their fog lights on. It's a real problem," Mr O'Callaghan.

"We have to make sure that more police officers focus on the things that matter to the community and not the things that matter to them.

"Where there's high rates of crime or juvenile offending, we're going to say go to those areas and patrol there all night long until we tell you to go somewhere else.

"Don't patrol down the leafy streets of some suburb where there's no crime. There's no point you being there unless you get called there specifically."

Mr O'Callaghan said questions were raised about the Christmas road safety campaign when officers issued fines to boat owners who did not have red flags on their outboard motors in Lancelin. The fines were eventually withdrawn.

"I said, 'Why did they do that? The Christmas traffic campaign is about speed and inattention and drink-driving. What are they doing giving people infringements for red flags? " he said.

"Who made that decision? Of course, they did."


Exaggerated Greenpeace Ad dumped

The Nine Network has been accused by Greenpeace of buckling under pressure from the beverage industry for the last-minute yanking of an ad promoting recycling from its Friday night football coverage.

A 45-second version of the ad on YouTube has been among the most popular in Australia, with more than half a million views since its launch this week.

It features people sipping soft drinks on the beach, as birds drop from the sky and wash up dead, with discarded plastic blamed.
Coke and birds

Birds and beverages don't go together, Greenpeace says.

"[The network] took the money and now they've bottled it,” Greenpeace campaigner Reece Turner said.

"There's something seriously wrong when TV networks are happy to show gambling, rape and pillage, but are too afraid to air an ad for recycling."

Mr Turner said the environmental group had taken pains to ensure the ad did not breach copyright rules and avoided the display of company logos. The online version of the ad, though, briefly shows the Coca-Cola brand.

Greenpeace paid $22,000 for the half-minute slot, to be aired during Friday night's NRL match between Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks. NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is known to be a keen Tigers fan, and Greenpeace said it was aiming to get his attention ahead of a key meeting on a national recycling plan by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).


For its part, Nine said it dropped the ad after deciding its content was "offensive".

"We had no issue in taking the original booking from Greenpeace but on reviewing the content we deemed it to be offensive to our viewers and so advised the client we would not proceed with the placement on the network," said Peter Wiltshire, Nine Network director of sales and marketing. "We have refunded the original deposit."

Coca-Cola Amatil referred requests for comment to the Nine Network.

The US soft drinks giant, along with other beverage makers, has opposed a national recycling scheme modelled on South Australia's plan.

That state pays a 10¢ refund on most cans and bottles in a scheme that has operated for about 35 years. Versions of the scheme have lately won support elsewhere in Australia.

The decision on taking SA's plan nationally "really lies with O'Farrell", said Mr Turner. "We think if O'Farrell comes out in support of this scheme, we could have a national roll-out."

James Mathews, a spokesman for the Australian Food and Grocery Council, said its members – including Coca-Cola – were in favour of a national recycling scheme, but not one requiring container deposits.

Mr Mathews said the option was “a lot more expensive” than other measures, such as an expansion of roadside collection points – one of 10 programs being reviewed by COAG.

The "National Bin Network" would cost as little as $51 million compared with $1.76 billion for the deposit scheme. Average household grocery costs would rise 1.35 per cent under the latter plan, and have twice the inflationary impact of the carbon price, Mr Mathews said.

Greenpeace and its actions "put Evel Knievel to shame for the stunts that they perform", he said, referring to the late American daredevil.


Many alternative medicines fail test

Three-quarters of the complementary medicines reviewed by the national drug regulator have failed government checks, exposing consumers to false health claims that lack scientific evidence.

Consumer law and health experts say the figures show the tip of the iceberg, with thousands of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements going unchecked for safety or efficacy.

Chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum Carol Bennett said the figure was astounding. ''That's way too high, it's outrageous that we continue to allow that level of non-compliance.

''It's extraordinarily concerning that people are putting their hands in their pockets to spend $2 billion a year on these products,'' she said.

A law lecturer at the University of Canberra, Bruce Arnold, said products that did not comply with federal regulations should be ''named and shamed'' through government media campaigns.

''I suspect what is happening is they are picking up on a range of claims being made about the products that simply aren't true,'' he said. ''You might infer that particular businesses are actively marketing in a way they know does not comply with requirements.''

Figures provided by the Therapeutic Goods Administration show only 25 per cent of the 79 low-risk complementary medicines assessed between September and December met federal rules.

Low-risk products cannot make claims about treating specific diseases, but can claim to improve health if the companies hold research proving this is the case.

More than 10,000 complementary and alternative medicines are listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. Low-risk medications can be ''listed'' through a self-assessment system in which companies attest to their containing only pre-approved, low-risk ingredients and there is evidence supporting the claims they make for health enhancement.

A spokeswoman for the register said that, of the products that failed the review, five had their listing cancelled and their names published on the register's website.

''While the TGA ensures that complementary medicines are manufactured safely and do not contain prohibited substances, it does not test these low-risk medicines and cannot guarantee they work.'' The registry was working to reform the system, she said.

An adjunct Associate Professor in the school of public health at La Trobe University, Ken Harvey, said the register should publish more details of companies that breached standards.

He said that since November 2010 at least 47 complaints had been referred to the register by its complaints resolution panel because of non-compliance, but only eight companies had been named on the website.

''Some of these TGA outcomes merely record continued non-compliance,'' he said. ''The end result is a market flooded with shonky products, making it very difficult for consumers and health professionals to pick the small amount of evidence-based wheat from the voluminous, hype-driven chaff.''

A government brief prepared by the Department of Health and released in late 2010 found that, based on 2009-10 data, as many as 90 per cent of complementary medicines failed to comply.

That review, of 31 products, found 20 had labels that could mislead consumers, 22 had manufacturing or quality problems, and 14 lacked evidence to substantiate claims made about the medicines.


New authoritarian Federal regulations on childcare to hit families with higher costs

QUEENSLAND families will be slugged with increased childcare costs as the industry struggles to meet new reforms.

From January 2014, long-day care facilities will require an early childhood teacher to be in attendance and at least 50 per cent of staff to have - or be working towards - a diploma-level qualification or higher.

Childcare Queensland chief executive Gwynn Bridge said families would feel the impact of the new legislation.

"Higher regulations means higher costs for families," Ms Bridge said. "Families cannot afford to pay any more, they are being pushed to the point they cannot pay and we are seeing drop outs throughout the country.

"The reforms should not be enforced until the government can pay for them, not families."

The other big problem, she said, was there simply were not enough early childhood teachers in Queensland.

"We are expecting 500 or 600 additional teachers are needed," Ms Bridge said.

Karana Downs Childcare Centre director Janine Aggett agreed, saying: "I do not think we have enough qualified teachers to step in to the roles. Also when it come to the qualified educators with a diploma, many people are unsure if their qualifications meet the requirements."

Ms Aggett said price hikes were inevitable.

"It will have to affect prices, unless the government is going to offer subsidies into the future," Ms Aggett said.

Mission Australia CEO Toby Hall said the out-of-pocket costs for families with two kids in care ranged from 12 per cent of the household's income for those earning less than $75,000, to 14 per cent for those earning $135,000.

The average cost for having a child in day care have increased up to $7.08 per day in the past year.

Ms Bridge said that was minimal compared to what was coming.


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