Monday, November 11, 2013


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amused at how hard the media are doing it now that the conservatives are in charge federally

Poll reveals Queenslanders want a return to corporal punishment to deal with bad behaviour in schools

BRING back the cane - that's the call from Queenslanders fed up with bad behaviour in our classrooms.

An exclusive Sunday Mail/Seven News poll reveals a majority of people want to see corporal punishment reintroduced to state schools after an 18-year ban.

The survey also found more than one in five respondents see misbehaviour and bullying as the major issue affecting children’s education.

While the teachers’ union remains firmly opposed, Queensland Association of State School Principals president Hilary Backus said the results reflected a feeling in society and there was an argument that individual schools should be allowed to decide whether to use the cane.

"We are seeing such a challenge in children entering schools who have been used to getting their own way and not able to follow instructions. Maybe society is realising we should put an end to it," she said.

"I don’t think I could say we would welcome it back. But should schools, with their communities, determine what is appropriate for their school setting? I don’t think I would have an argument with that."

But State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek is adamant this is one issue where policy will not be led by public opinion, ruling out any return to the days when unruly students were given six-of-the-best.

"I think we’ve moved on from that," he said. "There is no science or data that it (corporal punishment) will make a difference. I don’t believe hitting them with a cane or a feather-duster is the answer."

Mr Langbroek said new laws passed last month enabling other disciplinary measures such as Saturday detentions would be more effective.

More than 61,000 suspensions were handed out to public school pupils in 2012 — a third of them for "physical misconduct" -- and 1,331 expulsions.

Documents obtained by The Courier-Mail under to Right To Information laws earlier this month revealed almost 100 incidents of violence or threats of violence including assaults on staff and the use of weapons including knives and a spear.

Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association president Norm Fuller said: "Certainly, we need strong discipline but there are other ways of doing that. I would not like to see us go back to the days of the cane — that’s not necessarily going to change behaviour."

And Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said they wanted the ban to stay. "Teachers and principals are not enamoured by the idea of belting kids. No professional would argue there’s any benefit."

Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People Barry Salmon, a former teacher, also opposed the return of the cane.

"There are more effective ways of managing a child’s behaviour which do not include the use of physical punishment, through setting clear boundaries, consistent expectations, appropriate penalties and positive encouragement, he said.

Dr John Reddington — founder of the "Concerned Psychologists" group which has been campaigning for 12 years to make smacking illegal — said the Newman Government’s tough recent stance on law and order could be influencing the turnaround in public opinion on corporal punishment.

"But violence produces violence," he said. "The majority (of people) simply don’t understand alternative methods."

P&Cs Qld spokesman Peter Levett said he was "not necessarily surprised" by the level of support for corporal punishment but declined to state any position on the issue.

Kevin Glancy, Queensland convener of conservative lobby group CANdo, said the use of corporal punishment had made previous generations "stronger and more disciplined".

"Australia would be a better place if young people came out of schools with a sense of discipline. The streets would be safer. "People are tired of the dysfunction," he said.

Although banned in state schools since 1995, corporal punishment is still allowed in Queensland non-state schools with at least two still using the discipline method — Central Queensland Christian College and Chinchilla Christian School.

Central Queensland Christian College principal Michael Appleton declined to comment this week, stating that it was not a central issue of school life for them and they have no interest in telling other schools whether they should or should not use it.

Two years ago, he told The Sunday-Mail his school had a culture of grace and love, with physical discipline only used after warnings and time-outs

"Normally this is never needed, but sometimes there are children who are looking for the boundaries in life and will push and push until they find them.

"When they have that "ouch” moment physically, they know they’re going the wrong way.

"When using physical discipline, we take time to express our care for the child and provide reassurance afterwards.”

At Chinchilla Christian School its parent handbook for Prep to Year 7 states discipline refers to the training of mind and character in an atmosphere of love and security. "Counselling goes hand in hand with discipline.”

A position statement released by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians this year warns physical punishment may be harmful in the long term.

"Research shows that a child who experiences physical punishment is more likely to develop aggressive behaviour and mental health problems as a child and as an adult,” it says.


Vote expert says WA Senate result comes down to just one vote

ABC election analyst Antony Green says the outcome of the Senate vote in Western Australia would have come down to a solitary vote.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on Friday released the party-by-party tally of votes counted in the days after the election.

Earlier this week the AEC declared the results of the poll despite admitting that it had misplaced 1,375 ballot papers in the recount.

The tally sheets released on Friday include the lost votes.

Green says if the missing votes were to be included in the recount, the Palmer United Party (PUP) and Labor would have won the final two Senate spots and not the Greens and the Australian Sports Party.

"If these votes could be included in the count, then they would produce the closest Senate election result in Australian history with a gap of just a single vote determining the final two Senate seats," Green wrote in his election blog.

"On the first count, the Shooters and Fishers Party led the Australian Christians by a critical 14 votes, 23,515 to 23,501. This excluded the Australian Christians and resulted in the election of the PUP's Dio Wang and Labor's Louise Pratt to the final two seats.

"On the recount which was conducted minus the missing votes, the Australian Christians now lead at the crucial count by 12 votes ... and the last two seats being won by Wayne Dropulich of the Australian Sports Party and Scott Ludlam of the Greens."

Green says the missing votes are ticket votes, leaving no doubt where the preferences of each would go.

"So the Shooters and Fishers Party would lead by one vote, yes, just one vote out of 1.3 million," he said.

"This is so close that even if the votes were not missing, the result would go to the Court of Disputed Returns to adjudicate.

"With votes being missing and modelling indicating the result is so close, the chances of the court overturning the result and calling a fresh election are even higher than before.

"What an astonishing result."

AEC spokesman Phil Diak says the commission has released the information for the benefit of voters, candidates and parties.

"We've now entered a 40-day period for any petitions to the Court of Disputed Returns so this is further information for the community and candidates that contested the election, and the parties of course," he said.

Mr Diak says the commission is still deciding if it will ask the court to call for a new election.


Abbott promises respectful new parliament

A cessation of the "ad hominem" attacks would certainly be welcome

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has promised a "respectful" new parliament when it assembles for the first time next week, promising the Labor years will soon fade like "a bad memory".

Addressing the West Australian Liberal branch at its annual conference on Saturday, Mr Abbott pledged a parliament that "discusses the issues, rather than abuses individuals".

The prime minister said the parliament wouldn't impugn the motives of opponents or trash their reputations.

If anyone tried to go over the top, new Speaker Bronwyn Bishop would sort them out.

"And I am confident that after just a few weeks of the new parliament - that parliament that diminished our policy and embarrassed our citizens over the last three years - will soon seem like just a bad memory," Mr Abbott said.

He said the Liberals had already restored "due process" to government, including the 10-day rule for cabinet decisions.

"Now you might think that's just a paperwork rule but if you don't get these things right ... you end up getting important details wrong.

"I want to say that we have made a good start, that the adults are back in charge and that strong, stable, methodical and purposeful government is once more the rule in our national capital."

Mr Abbott devoted much of his address to the Liberal's media strategy, which contrasted with Labor's "endless interviews, all about glorifying politicians".

"I think all of you will have noticed that there is a new tone and a new style in Canberra.

"Yes, we will speak when we need to speak. But we won't speak for the sake of speaking and we won't bang on things for the purposes of a PR gesture."


Judge rebellion put down in Qld.

Queensland's chief justice says the judiciary should welcome public commentary about their role, the day after a judge lost a legal battle with the government over new bikie laws.

Paul de Jersey says occasional robust public exchanges bolster the strength of the system rather than erode it.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal ruled Justice George Fryberg erred when he froze a government bid to revoke bail for alleged bikie Jarrod Kevin Anthony Brown because of reported comments by Premier Campbell Newman.

In a Brisbane Courier-Mail op-ed piece on Saturday, Justice de Jersey says Queensland has a robust legal system that is free from corruption.

"Judges should not be troubled by public commentary. They should welcome it," he wrote.

"It shows that people are interested in how this branch of government independently discharges its duty, and that citizens will exercise their right to question and call to account."

The op-ed was penned by the chief justice after he attended a meeting in October with more than 30 of his Asia-Pacific counterparts.

It is the first time that the chief justice has gone public during the row over Queensland's new clampdown on criminal motorcycle gangs.

The Newman government has passed legislation which means defendants must prove they are not bikies in order to be granted bail, rather than the prosecution proving their affiliation.

Justice Fryberg said a fortnight ago there was a risk the public could perceive any decision he made as having been been influenced by Mr Newman.

The premier was quoted in media reports urging judges to act within community expectations.

Court of Appeal justices ruled on Friday that the reported comments would not make the public think judges had been influenced in their decision-making.


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