Monday, June 03, 2013

Qld. Premier sorry for soaring power prices, wants debate over Greenie concessions

PREMIER Campbell Newman has vowed to rein in the "mind-blowing, excessive" increase in electricity prices, flagging likely new charges for households with solar panels.

Submissions will go to Cabinet today regarding spending on poles and wires which has contributed to the 21 per cent price rise facing households.

It follows last year's Council of Australian Governments meeting, at which Prime Minister Julia Gillard sought agreement from state and territory leaders to reduce overinvestment in poles and wires.

Mr Newman said he was "very sorry" his Government could not deliver on his intention to soften power bills with a rebate - but he was working to limit future increases.

"There's some papers going to Cabinet which talk about all the things that will be done to take the edge off this sort of thing," Mr Newman said.

"It's a matter of national competitiveness now. People in the US and Canada and even the European Union now are paying less than us (for electricity). It has to be dealt with."

He said he also wanted a debate over the solar feed-in tariff which was "ultimately costing other Queenslanders".

"The solar feed-in tariff sees a relatively small group of households get a very lucrative deal, far too lucrative in many cases, and the rest of the households are paying for that," the Premier said.

"Roughly 180,000 households are benefiting with low power prices or getting cheques and well over 1.5 million are paying for that benefit to those people."

The Courier-Mail understands 92,600 Queensland households pay nothing for power or get money back as a result of the generous solar feed-in tariff introduced by the previous Labor government.

Under the deal, residents with solar are paid 44c a kilowatt hour for power - about 21c a kilowatt hour more than what it costs them.

The Newman Government has slashed the benefit for new solar panel installations to 8c.

Mr Newman described the situation as "just ridiculous".  "The solar tariff feed-in situation is one that sees those with the financial means to pay for panels win at the expense of poorer households and disadvantaged people," he said.

"I'm just making the point today.  "I'm not saying we have anything in particular in mind, but I'm saying firstly I want people to understand why we have high power prices."

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk urged caution on reduced spending on maintenance and expansion of the network.

"Now what we're seeing is a government that has no solution and has no answers when they went to the election saying they were going to lower the cost of living," she said.


Must not suggest that dealing with Sudanese is difficult

Consdidering the primitive and violent background of the Sudanese, it would be surprising if they were not difficult  -- but reality must be ignored, of course

POLICE in Melbourne's west have been caught mocking African migrants and their local community on racist stubby holders.

Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has vowed to act against those responsible, and senior officers have slammed them as "offensive".

About 50 of the drink coolers are believed to have been made up for, and distributed among, officers in Sunshine, which has a large refugee community.

On one side of the stubby holders is a cartoon image of a mudfish and the words: "Sunshine police. Whoever says Sunshine brings happiness has never worked here."

"Mudfish" or "muddie" is derogatory slang for Africans, referencing the bottom-feeder species that is a common food source in Sudan and other countries.

The other side takes a further dig at the many refugees from Sudan and other war-torn nations who do not know their date of birth, proclaiming: "My date of birth is 01/01/?"

The items were produced last year and have been used regularly at the station's "mongrel" drinking nights.

"It's extremely disturbing," said Tamar Hopkins, principal solicitor at Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre. "It's about ghettoising a whole area. It's appalling. This is really shocking."

Northwest metro police commander, Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp, said he was extremely disappointed and angry, adding: "The production of these holders was utterly misguided and offensive."

After being alerted to the stubby holders by the Herald Sun, Chief Commissioner Lay directed the force's internal watchdog to act on the matter.

Assistant Commissioner Crisp said it was his understanding that local managers became aware of the stubby holders last year, taking action to destroy them - although the Herald Sun was shown one last week - and counselling two officers held responsible.

"Since learning of this issue however, the Chief Commissioner has deemed that the counselling the members received was wholly insufficient, and he has directed the Professional Standards Command to review the matter and consider further options," he said.

"This is completely at odds with the high standards the community rightly demands from its police," Mr Crisp added.

"We simply will not tolerate racism within the force and I think our improving track record in this regard - which has included the expulsion of five police members for racist behaviours since 2010 - is indicative of our determination to provide no quarter to racism within the organisation.

"It is absolutely vital that Victoria Police treats all communities with respect."

But community solicitor Ms Hopkins said: "It really reinforces the fact that there is a problem at a really deep cultural level.

"We're not talking about accidental over-policing but ingrained prejudices. These kinds of actions and activities are about humiliating and degrading people."

Ms Hopkins said it also spoke to the force's failure to deal with racism despite promises to do so after earlier incidents involving accusations of assaults and illegal stops and searches using racial profiling against young Africans.

In February the force agreed to launch a public inquiry into racism in its ranks as part of settling a Federal Court case brought by 16 Africans aged 13-20 and an Afghan man, 23.


Bettina supports female Viagra

Bettina Arndt

Around the world, the search continues for solutions to the top-ranking sex problem facing women - loss of desire.

Drug companies are seeking a pink Viagra, a drug to boost female libido. The stakes are high, with some surveys suggesting more than half of all women experience fading desire in long-term relationships. Marital distress is inevitable when women lie in bed at night dreading the hand creeping towards them.

The latest cabs off the rank are Lybrido and Lybridos, explains Daniel Bergner, whose book What Do Women Want? - Adventures in the Science of Female Desire will be published next week. These new drugs are very sensibly targeting activity not just between women's legs but between their ears.

Writing recently in The New York Times, Bergner described research on the biochemical ingredients governing sexual desire, the balance between the lust-inducing dopamine rush produced by testosterone and the inhibiting effects of serotonin. Lybrido has a testosterone coating that melts in the mouth before the woman swallows a delayed-release tablet containing a Viagra-like substance that increases blood flow in the genitals. In Lybridos, the Viagra-like molecule is replaced by an anti-anxiety medication that suppresses serotonin.

Results of initial trials of both drugs are looking good and are soon to be presented to the US Federal Drug Authority, which is likely to require larger trials. If all goes well, these new drugs will hit the market around 2016, no doubt to be snapped up by huge numbers of women.

An Adelaide professor ran a trial for another libido-enhancing drug and had women contacting him from all over Australia, desperate to get on board. Yet many others won't be interested. For every woman keen for a solution to her lost libido, there are others who wouldn't dream of popping a little pink pill to enhance sexual desire. There are plenty of women happy to shut up shop, simply refusing to have sex - and expecting their husbands to just suck it up.

Controversy surrounds the clinical definition of low libido in women (hypoactive sexual desire disorder), which only includes women who see their diminished drive as a problem - that is, it causes them personal distress. Only 10 to 15 per cent of women meet the criteria for HSSD - while surveys that include women not bothered by their low libido can hit nearly 60per cent. The Sex in Australia survey of nearly 20,000 people found 55 per cent of women reported low desire.

Does it really make sense to dismiss low desire if the woman regards it as no big deal? If a couple visited a therapist because the woman was complaining the man was a premature ejaculator, the fact that it didn't bother him wouldn't be regarded as grounds for ignoring the problem. Surely the impact of any issue detracting from a harmonious sex life deserves proper attention.

This is not to suggest low-sex-drive women are obliged to consider drug treatment. But many regard it as outrageous to even suggest there is any obligation on the woman to consider her partner's needs.

A few years ago, when I published The Sex Diaries, howls of protest greeted my suggestion that women might sometimes "just do it" since new Canadian research had shown desire can kick in once lovemaking begins, leading to sexual pleasure for women. "Bettina Arndt - Rape Cheerleader!" shrieked one blogger, ignoring the fact that I had always said men too must "just do it" if they are the ones rejecting their partners.

The crazy thing is women do so much to please their partners. They cook lavish three-course meals and spend hours searching shopping centres for his favourite Y-fronts when a 10-minute bonk every so often would make their man a lot happier than a lot of the things they do for him. It's not as if making love is such a big ask - it's not like cleaning an oven. A female doctor wrote to me saying she tells her female patients, "It's not root canal therapy!"

There's a lesson here for young men choosing a long-term partner. They shouldn't just go for the sexiest chick, hoping the tap won't ever turn off. As Bergner explains, there's solid evidence that while most couples in new relationships start off with equal lust for each other, after a few years female drive often goes into a dive, leaving male desire far higher. A man would be far better off finding a woman who sees it as part of her responsibility to keep sex on the agenda, maybe even one who wouldn't baulk at sometimes popping a little pink pill.

The truly lucky man is blessed with a sexually generous woman, one who believes in taking one for the team.


Four-year surgery wait

Patients are being forced to wait more than two years to see a specialist doctor - what the Australian Medical Association calls "the hidden waiting list" - before waiting up to another two years for surgery.

"It's the waiting list to get onto the waiting list for surgery," AMA (NSW) president Brian Owler said. "If you don't have private health insurance, the waiting time is sometimes years - not just for surgery, but for things like testing for childhood allergies, the pain clinic."

In opposition, Health Minister Jillian Skinner said that after years of "Labor rorting, it's time to measure the real waiting lists". "We will abolish Labor's 'waiting list for the waiting list'," she said in March 2011.

But Dr Owler said: "I don't think we have seen any action on hidden waiting lists … we need to start measuring it and reporting it."

A letter from Liverpool Hospital eye clinic to a Sydney patient, obtained by Fairfax Media, says due to the high demand for services "and the current resources available, the waiting period at the present time for a routine appointment is approximately 2½ years".

The Optometrists Association Australia said some people were housebound for four years while waiting for eye surgery. NSW/ACT chief executive Andrew McKinnon said the wait for an appointment with an opthalmologist was compounded by the further wait of one to two years for elective surgery.

"There is nowhere that I am currently aware of where you get public cataract surgery in less than two years," he said. "The difficulty is if cataract becomes significant then it is socially debilitating for people - you can't read and you can't see. You become socially isolated. Someone needing a cataract operation could be housebound for as long as four years."

Opposition health spokesman Andrew McDonald said a 2½ year wait to see an opthalmologist for an appointment is "just a joke".

"It's completely indefensible," he said. "It is time for a statewide review into eye services."

Rusli Suwito, an optometrist in Liverpool, said he had been unable to refer patients to the Liverpool eye clinic for at least four years.

Dr Owler said the problem "is not confined to Liverpool … You see it particularly in western Sydney and in regional centres."

Australian workforce figures show there are more than 800 ophthalmologists in Australia, with about 350 in NSW.

Dr McDonald said most of them work in private practice because eye services are given a low priority in public hospitals. Official figures show 5116 cataract operations were done in 2012 and the average wait for patients was 231 days in NSW compared with 56 in Victoria.

Figures show 71,509 people in NSW were on the waiting list for elective surgery in March 2012.

Mrs Skinner said since March 2011, the government has delivered over 7700 extra elective surgeries.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Its not just women, though in my case its not so much the sex as it is the gymnastics that go with it.

(haven't been lighting too many fires lately......touche!)