Monday, February 24, 2014

Qld Premier rejects fizzy drink hysteria

PREMIER Campbell Newman has described his chief health officer’s call for parents to deny children soft drinks at weekend sporting events as over the top.

“We shouldn’t just be coming over the top and saying ban this and ban that,” Mr Newman said.  “It’s a free country. It was when I last checked and frankly these sorts of proposals are over the top.”

Mr Newman said people needed to “take a reality check” on the issue.  “I totally acknowledge that we have an issue about healthy living and obesity but I think that it’s about time we also took stock of how far we go with these things,” he said.  “When we were kids we did drink soft drink but we probably didn’t guzzle it every single day.

“I just think blanket bans, punishing the many for the sins of well maybe more than a few in this case is just not the way to go.

Qld Health's latest anti-obesity campaign addresses the "health age" of people. Are you eating yourself to an early grave?

“Let’s start in our homes with education so that people know how to properly bring up their kids and feed them.”

Overnight, The Courier-Mail reported that chief health officer Jeannette Young, who has targeted obesity as her major health challenge for the past two years, had called for parents to stand firm against children being allowed soft drink, whether it was in the home, at school or sporting events.

She said soft drink sales were already banned at state school tuckshops, but called on parents to extend that to weekend sporting activities.

“I can’t ban it, I’m not a member of the sporting clubs’ organising committees, but parents can call for a ban,’’ Dr Young said.

Queensland Health's latest anti-obesity campaign addresses the "health age" of people. Are you eating yourself to an early grave?

“You go along on a Saturday and there’s all these kids playing netball, soccer, cricket. It’s fantastic. They’re doing great physical activity and then they go and get a big can of soft drink.

“It’s reinforcing great behaviour with bad nutrition. There’s no nutritional benefit at all from drinking soft drink.’’

Dr Young’s plea comes with 27 per cent — or about 200,000 Queensland five-to-17-year-olds — classed as overweight or obese, and the figure is rising.

She said excess weight in children put them at high risk of adult obesity, bringing with it an increased likelihood of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

“Unfortunately, it sets them up with bad habits that last a lifetime,’’ she said.

Dr Young said parents should stick to giving their children water and milk.


Dangerous new credit laws

Ominous changes to information held on your credit file will come into effect from the 12th of March this year.

What is most concerning about these new credit file laws is that credit providers can issue an “opinion” on whether you genuinely intend to repay a loan... and without your knowledge.

That “opinion”, may be arrived at by a snotty nosed kid who doesn’t like the colour of your eyes and that “opinion” may ruin your life without you knowing why.

Information and an “opinion” about you can, and will, be exchanged between credit providers and banks. There is also no doubt that employers, police, lawyers, partners, media, private eyes and the next door neighbour will be able to access that information without you knowing.

“Oh, we promise we will keep the data to ourselves”, say the credit providers. I say, “What a load of frog droppings!”

Forget Dun & Bradstreet, for less than $1,000 I can find out everything I need to know about you right now, and that’s without these new laws!

So, next time you apply for credit, be nice to the snotty nosed kid taking down your details because his/her “opinion” of your future intentions matters. And if you have a bad credit rating, $1,000 could change his “opinion” of you altogether.

Of course credit providers do explain that this new information they will hold on you should lead to overall lower credit card rates.

Wanna bet?


AFP drops Somlyay fraud claims

Accusations by the Leftist "Sydney Morning Herald" come to nothing

THE Australian Federal Police have dismissed fraud allegations against former Liberal MP Alex Somlyay.

There were claims the 23-year Queensland political veteran had billed taxpayers for his wife's employment but she had never been seen at the office during the past three years.

The AFP has reviewed documents related to the matter.

"The assessment of this matter did not identify any conduct by Mr Somlyay that would constitute a criminal offence," the AFP said in a statement.

It also looked at Mrs Somlyay's employment under her maiden name and receipt of payments for work performed.

Officers spoke to Mr and Mrs Somlyay.

"The AFP found no evidence of criminality relating to fraud against the Commonwealth to warrant an investigation," the AFP said, adding the matter was finalised.

In January, the Liberal Party banned MPs employing family members.


Like it or not, national character owes much to the mother country

It is safe to assume that the academics responsible for the Australian Curriculum would disagree with Daniel Hannan's proposition that the English-speaking people are blessed with an exceptional virtue.

Hannan, as it turns out, disagrees with national curriculums, and says the Coalition government will come to regret its decision to support one.

More of that in a moment, but first a warning: politically correct readers may find the views expressed in this article offensive.

Hannan is a British member of the European parliament and author of Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World. His unfashionable claim is that the British Empire was a force for good, and that far from saying sorry for colonial settlement we should be saying thank you.

The civic system to which Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US owe their stability and success began with a quirky idea that took hold on a damp isle on the western edge of Europe: the state should be subject to the law rather than the other way round.

Australia's most important resource is not natural but imported: the spirit of liberty under the rule of law brought here by the early settlers.

"It was a way of arranging their affairs that elevated the individual above the state and that elevated the rule of law above the power of the executive," Hannan told Inquirer in a phone interview from Brussels this week.

"That's the magic ingredient that led to modern capitalism and modern freedom. Everybody does better under that system.

"The reason why a child of Greek parents in Melbourne is better off than a child of Greek parents in Mytilene has nothing to do with race and everything to do with political structures."

The idea of Anglosphere Exceptionalism would have seemed too obvious to need stating in Australia a generation or two ago.

With the abandonment of the White Australia policy from the late 1960s onwards, however, and Britain's rejection of Commonwealth in favour of joining the EU, British patriotic sentiment became distasteful to the Australian intelligentsia, who came to view it as akin to racism. It is a criticism with which Hannan is familiar.

"That's the opening gambit of somebody who can't be bothered to read the thesis.It's demonstrably false. The Anglosphere is why Bermuda is not Haiti. It's why Hong Kong is not China. It's why Singapore is not Indonesia."

The notion that the dynamic qualities of Britishness were racially determined was a heresy that took hold in the 19th century and flourished until World War II, says Hannan.

"When I was last in Australia, I was struck, and quite moved, by the multi-ethnic make-up of the people who had come to listen to me hymning the virtues of the Anglosphere," he says.

"Personal freedom, free contract capitalism, the common law are things people want to buy in to. They cross half the world in order to find a better system."

The enabling principle of personal liberty was imported from Britain and then improved upon in the colonies, as Alexis de Tocqueville noted in his study of the US in the 19th century. "The American," Tocqueville wrote, "is the Englishman left to himself."

Australia, in Hannan's estimation, is "not a spill-over Britain, but an intensified Britain". The defining Australian character of egalitarianism, often seen as a rejection of the British class system, may owe more to the mother country than we are inclined to imagine.

"The British had, historically, been remarkably ready to defy their rulers," Hannan writes in his latest book.

"Australians took these characteristics much further. Any visitor to Australia is struck by the endurance of these characteristics: informality, bloody-mindedness, individualism, self-reliance, in short, is (John Stuart) Mill's libertarian philosophy made flesh."

Conservative critics of the national curriculum say it skates too lightly over the virtues of Australia's colonial heritage, a tradition they commonly describe as "Judeo-Christian". Hannan's conclusion is subtly different. Christianity, and particularly the Protestant tradition, may have provided the seedbed for personal liberty, but it was principally in Britain that it flourished.

"There is a unique lineage of liberty that you can trace back in the English-speaking world that is qualitatively different from the Polish experience, the Russian experience or the Italian experience," he tells Inquirer.

"It is true that it can't be wholly divorced from the religious context but the outcome of that has long since transcended its denominational roots. There is an Anglosphere culture that is as strong in Ireland or, for that matter, Singapore, as in Australia or Britain."

Yet, says Hannan, having developed and exported the most successful system of government known to the human race, the English-speaking intelligentsia is now walking away from its own creation.

Britain's intellectual elites see Anglosphere values as an obstacle to European integration. Contentiously, he concludes: "Their equivalents in Australia see them as a distraction from their country's supposed Asian destiny."

The Conservative Euro MP from Britain is keen to clear up any misunderstanding.

"To be absolutely clear, I do not mean that you should not be profiting from the economic growth of Asia -- you would be crazy not to do that," he says. "It doesn't follow that you need to redefine your political system. On the contrary; yours has demonstrably worked better than most of those on the Asian mainland.

"I was really struck when I was in Australia last that the kind of people who saw Asia as kind of alternative to the Anglosphere were the precise equivalent to British Europhiles, politically and socially. They were equally dominant in the same fields, in parts of the media and parts of academic life, and they had exactly the same attitudes British Euro fanatics have."

Nevertheless, he insists, the flight away from individualism has been slower in Australia and the US than in Britain, leaving us in a stronger position.

The marshalling of national resources by the British government during World War II was the precursor for the welfare state.

"Powers given to the government, supposedly contingently for the war effort, were not returned when the peace came," he says.
Since the early 1970s, Britain has faced a "huge additional nightmare": the EU.

"Being in the EU means accepting the primacy of EU law over national law. It's meant a revolution in our legal system and it's meant a revolution therefore in the assumption of what the government does," he says.

Hannan will be at the forefront of the campaign for a decision to withdraw from the EU at the referendum that David Cameron's government has promised.

"The great advantage of us leaving, apart from us being able to trade with the wider world, is that we would, I hope, rediscover the libertarian tradition that used to go with the common law," Hannan says.

In retrospect, Britain could not have timed its entry into Europe more badly.  "We joined in 1973 and Europe's growth came to end with the oil shock of 1974," he says.

"And just at that moment was when the Commonwealth began the economic take-off that continues to this day. It was a calamitous error economically, let alone the ties of sentiment and affection that bound us to the old dominions."

The challenge for Australia is to learn from the European experience and to resist the tyranny of an ever-expanding state, he says.

"It's very, very odd to have what you and we have, which is this system where nobody really wrote the law down, it just kind of emerged. It grew like your Great Barrier Reef, coral by coral, each case leading on to the next one.

"A consequence of that is that it is assumed that you are completely free except in so far as a law has had to be developed to protect somebody else's freedom. And that leads to a completely different mentality that, up until very recently, served to keep the state small.

"The other great civilisations of the world, the Mings or the Moguls or the Ottomans, all ended up going down the road towards high taxes, uniformity, bureaucracy and over-regulation. And they all went into decline.

"The Anglosphere was always a diverse plurality based on elevating enterprise and individualism. I'm not sure that this uniqueness will survive the expansion of the size of the state that we are now experiencing."

The expansion of the state, particularly the deadening hand of the permanent bureaucracy, is at the heart of Hannan's objections to national curricula.

"We introduced our national curriculum in 1988 when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, supposedly as a way of stopping loony Left teachers," he says.

"In fact it was immediately captured, totally predictably, by the very people it was supposed to deter."

We discussed the draft Australian Curriculum's priority themes of sustainability and Asian engagement.

"I can't imagine that the current Prime Minister of Australia would design a curriculum along the lines you suggest," says Hannan.

"Inevitably, if you give them a national curriculum, no matter how huge the conservative majority might be in parliament, it is going to be taken over by the cultural relativists and the politically correct."

Hannan's solution demands the exercise of personal liberty.

"The answer is not to get your guys in charge of it," he says. "The answer is to scrap it and let parents pick what schools they want, because they can invigilate the system a billion times better than any conservative politician."


No comments: