Thursday, September 07, 2006

Greer, the disgusting Greenie

Although he was an outspoken conservationist, lots of Greenies disliked Steve Irwin out of jealousy -- he got so much of the publicity and admiration that they crave -- AND he was a supporter of Australia's conservative government. So they made various specious complaints about him "disturbing" the animals he filmed. So what we see below from Australia's chief ratbag -- "publicity at any price" Germaine Greer -- is a regurgitation of that. It shows what scum she is (and always was) that she should at this time defame such a brave and brilliant man. It is a credit to Australia's responsible Left that her words were rightly dismissed by one of their chief spokesman as "politically correct claptrap"

Feminist Germaine Greer should keep her thoughts about the death of Steve Irwin to herself, Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said today. In an article in British newspaper The Guardian, Ms Greer said that the animal world had finally taken revenge on Irwin for causing stress to the animals he handled. "I think Germaine Greer should just stick a sock in it," Mr Rudd said in Canberra today. "You have got a grieving mother, you have got a couple of grieving young kids and a grieving nation and what to you get from Germaine Greer? You get a bucket load of politically correct pap - it's just nonsense.

"Steve Irwin was a nature conservationist, an animal conservationist and made a huge contribution to the preservation of wildlife worldwide. "And what do we get from Germaine Greer? - some gratuitous, politically correct claptrap. She should put a sock in it," he said.

Greer said she had "not much sympathy" for Irwin if he was grappling with the stingray that killed him on the Great Barrier Reef. Those on the boot with Irwin say he was not in any way harassing the stringray when it lashed out at him as he swam over it.

But The Guardian quoted Greer as saying: "As a Melbourne boy, Irwin should have had a healthy respect for stingrays, which are actually commoner and bigger in southern waters than they are near Port Douglas." She described Irwin's behaviour as "bizarre", noting the famed incident when he held his baby son while feeding a crocodile during a show at his Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast. "The whole spectacle was revolting," Greer said. "The crocodile would rather have been anywhere else and the chicken had a grim life too, but that's entertainment at Australia Zoo. "The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing ten times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn."

Police yesterday said footage of the incident showed Irwin in no way harassed or provoked the stingray.


Below is a reality-based account of Steve Irwin:

An American diver who owes his life to Steve Irwin says he was shattered to learn about the Crocodile Hunter's death. "He saved my life," an emotional Scott Jones said today from his home in Iowa. "I've lost a good friend."

Mr Jones was part of a tragic scuba diving expedition in the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of Mexico, in 2003. Mr Jones' friend, 77-year-old Katie Vrooman, died during the dive after a sea surge knocked her twice against rocks. Mr Jones fought to hold on to her unconscious body for almost two hours and, while hanging off rocks and floating in the water, attempted to resuscitate her. Eventually Mr Jones had to let Ms Vrooman's body go and he spent a harrowing night alone perched on rocks.

In a lucky twist of fate, Irwin and his film crew happened to be in the vicinity shooting a documentary and heard an SOS call on their radio that two divers had gone missing. Irwin, who had never met Mr Jones or Mr Vrooman, decided he would abandon his film project to try to find them.

Mr Jones was precariously sitting on a rock outcrop dehydrated and scarred from being battered on the rocks. Irwin, dressed in his khaki shorts and shirt, dived in the water and swam across to save Mr Jones.

At the time, Mr Jones did not realise Irwin was a celebrity. The quietly-spoken Mr Jones said he had heard of Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan, but not the Crocodile Hunter. "After they got me on to the main boat, Steve helped me get my wetsuit off me and he went below to do something," Jones recalled. "Somebody behind me said 'So what do you think of the Crocodile Hunter?' "So I was looking around for Crocodile Dundee. I thought when the makeup comes off Dundee's looks must change. "But, when I finally got home my daughter turned the Animal Planet channel on and I started watching his show from then. "It was wild. He was jumping on crocodiles and things like that."

Jones and his wife Deborah sent flowers to Irwin's wife, Terri, and kids, Bindi and Bob. They are also planning a trip to Australia to speak to his family. "We'd love to go to Australia and tell his wife and kids just what a great man he is," Mr Jones, who declined to tell his age, adding it was a secret, said. "He was a hell of an educator, from kids all the way up to old farts like me. "He was a hero." Mr Jones, an experienced diver, said he was surprised a stingray, "one of the most gentle creatures in the ocean" caused Irwin's death.


Realistic social security planning in Australia

Tax incentives to get Australians to do their own saving for old age

Farmers and small business owners will be the big beneficiaries of last-minute lobbying that has almost doubled the amount they can pour into superannuation to enjoy tax-free payouts. After pleading on behalf of ageing farmers and small business owners with plans to turn their lifetimes' work into super nest eggs, Peter Costello yesterday unveiled new "transitional" arrangements for his $7.2 billion super tax reforms. Until June 30 next year, anyone under 65 will be able to shift up to $1 million into super - up from a $600,000 limit at the time of the May federal Budget - paying the existing 15 per cent tax rate. The changes complete the surprise initiative of the budget to encourage super savings with a raft of measures including removing the tax on payouts from super funds for Australians retiring after the age of 60.

The Treasurer said yesterday the Government now believed it had created an environment where superannuation was the most tax-effective investment. "You will not find a better tax-preferred investment than superannuation," he said. "Don't wait until you are 55 or 60 to think about superannuation. I want 20-year-olds, I want 30-year-olds, I want 40-years-olds to think about putting money aside now." Mr Costello acknowledged that the change offered very generous tax concessions to a few, but said the long-term benefits of reform made the costs worthwhile. "It is not the concern of your average punter, because your average punter doesn't have $1 million sitting around," he said.

In the budget the Government announced that superannuation payouts would not be taxed if taken after the age of 60. The latest move makes superannuation so generous it is likely to see a massive transfer of wealth into the $1 trillion superannuation sector. Tax planners say that, for example, more people will take interest-only loans for property, in order to free up cash to plough into superannuation. Farmers and small business owners who may be considering retiring in the next two years will be able to enjoy greater tax advantages after July next year as a result of the changes. "It's no doubt going to be very beneficial to retiring farmers who sell their properties," Queensland senator Ron Boswell said.

Jo-Anne Bloch, chief executive of the Financial Planning Association, said planners had pushed the Government to lift the amount retirees could move into super. "It clearly does assist small business," she said. For many people such as small business owners and farmers, the proceeds from the sale of their businesses have been their only superannuation. "They sell the business at the end and put the proceeds into super," Ms Bloch said. "Clearly you're talking about people who are high-income earners or small business owners." In its submission to Government, the Financial Planning Association argued farmers - who often have low incomes despite owning valuable assets - were typically unable to contribute to super during their working lives.

The main improvement to super savings in the May budget was scrapping the 15 per cent exit tax and making it simpler to draw down super. But Mr Costello also introduced new contributions limits to prevent people throwing everything into super to minimise tax. From July 2007, an annual $150,000 limit on post-tax contributions will apply, but people under 65 will be able to bring forward contribution rights for two future years, putting in $450,000 in one year. This is on top of $50,000 a year in pre-tax contributions from salary, taxed at 15 per cent. People over 50 can lift this to $100,000 as a transitional measure for five years. Both contribution limits will be indexed, rising in $5000 jumps. Each partner in a marriage can take the maximum contribution into super.

Mr Costello also announced a plan to push people to give their tax file numbers to their super funds, to avoid tax penalties. The plan will allow people to claim refunds for tax withheld by super funds up to four years ago for failing to submit a tax file number.

Labor attacked the Government over new costings that show the plan will reduce revenue by $7.2 billion over four years, not $6.2 billion as originally proposed. "Amazingly, the Government underestimated administration costs of their own super plan by half a billion dollars," said Labor's superannuation spokesman, Nick Sherry.

Mr Costello said most of the $500 million administration costs related to operating the tax file number changes. He said Australians would not find a more tax-effective investment than super and urged all of them, no matter how old, to start putting money away. "What I would say to every young person in Australia (is): you can get your employer to put up to $50,000 into super, get as much as you can as early as you can because after 60 you will be getting that money back tax-free," he said.

The chief executive of the Investment and Financial Services Association, Richard Gilbert, welcomed the package, particularly for the changes for tax file number reporting. "When you look where the problems are in super, it's in lost monies," he said. "It's a major step in tracking money. This will go a long way towards solving that problem." But the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was concerned the plan might not be sustainable. Mr Costello said he wanted legislation brought in by the end of the year to implement the program. He said the Government had no plans to increase the superannuation guarantee - the amount of super compulsorily contributed by employers - from its level of 9 per cent.


More revelations about the dishonest character of a prominent do-gooder and bleeding-heart

The pretensions of righteousness hide a fraud, a liar and a crook

Marcus Einfeld's presidency of Australia's human rights watchdog ended after allegedly twice claiming compensation for the same property lost on an overseas trip. Mr Einfeld asked the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to compensate him for an overcoat and several other personal items he reported he had lost during a trip to New York paid for by the commission. But before the claim, believed to be a few hundred dollars, was paid, commission officials allegedly obtained evidence that Mr Einfeld had lodged a separate compensation claim for the same items with his own insurance company.

Mr Einfeld resigned his post in 1990, shortly after the matter was brought to the attention of HREOC's four commissioners: Brian Burdekin, Irene Moss, Kevin O'Connor and Quentin Bryce. Three independent sources familiar with the incident have confirmed the commissioners were briefed on concerns about Mr Einfeld's compensation claim. "There was lots of rolling of eyes. It was a bit beyond shock," one source told The Australian yesterday.

Mr Einfeld had told commission staff that he had bought the coat during the New York trip and lost it before he returned home. He had not kept the receipt. Mr Einfeld, who was president of the commission from 1986 to 1990, issued a statement yesterday through his public relations agency CPR denying any wrongdoing. "It's the first time Mr Einfeld has heard of this," the statement said. "He is adamant he did not make such claims. He had assistance at the time from good, loyal staff. He is certain none of them would have knowingly made a false claim. "Mr Einfeld resigned from the position because he had previously agreed to see out one parliamentary term. He left on his own terms to concentrate on his Federal Court duties."

When approached for comment, former human rights commissioner Chris Sidoti said there had been many problems at the commission involving Mr Einfeld. Mr Sidoti, who now works for a UN human rights agency in Geneva, was secretary of the commission when Mr Einfeld was president. "Working with Marcus Einfeld as president of the commission involved a constant series of difficulties," Mr Sidoti told The Australian. "Fortunately the commission's processes proved sound throughout." Former commissioner Quentin Bryce, now the Queensland Governor, said she considered it inappropriate to comment on the matter.

The commission is alleged to have learned about the second compensation claim after an insurance company called to verify details concerning a claim lodged by Mr Einfeld. The insurance company, at the suggestion of a staff member at the commission, is said to have sent the commission a photocopy of the list of lost property. The list is said to have matched that which Mr Einfeld had submitted to the commission.

This incident has come to light as police are investigating testimony given by Mr Einfeld in a Sydney court that enabled him to avoid a $77 speeding fine. On January 8, Mr Einfeld told the Downing Centre Local Court he had lent his car to a woman who had since died in the US. He told the court that at the time of the offence he had lent his car to professor Teresa Brennan of Florida. After the court proceedings it emerged that Brennan had died in 2003. It has also emerged that two doctorates held by Mr Einfeld had been conferred by institutions debunked in the US Congress as diploma mills.


Got cancer? Too bad!

Cancer patients are being forced to travel interstate to seek life-saving treatment which Queensland Health deems too costly. Public hospital patients with brain tumours and prostate cancers are flying to Melbourne and Sydney - some at their own expense - to get the specialised radiation treatment. The treatment, known as intensity modulated radiation therapy, is available in most other states and gives cancer sufferers a higher radiation dose but minimises the side effects. The revelations come after The Courier-Mail reported yesterday that Queensland cancer sufferers are waiting up to four times longer than recommended for essential radiation therapy.

In 2005, Queensland Health said IMRT could help save lives but was expensive. "IMRT offers improved patient outcomes, yet due to competing demands (and) time constraints, introduction of these labour-intensive procedures is difficult and costly," it said in an internal report.

A Medical Radiation Professionals Group spokesman yesterday said patients would be spending up to seven weeks interstate to get the treatment. The spokesman for the group, which is made up of Queensland Health employees, said the treatment could be available with an upgrade of existing equipment. "Queensland has the equipment capable of offering the treatment but not the staff," he said.

Coalition health spokesman Bruce Flegg said the Government's response to cancer was "hopelessly inadequate". "That technology should be available to public patients as it is to private patients," he said. "It shouldn't be the case that people have to travel interstate."

However, Health Minister Stephen Robertson said intensity modulator radiation therapy was "high end" medical treatment needed by only a very small number of cancer sufferers. "At present in Queensland, a very small number of public cancer patients require intensity modulator radiation therapy each year," he said. "Treatment is provided in Sydney - Queensland Health pays the cost for the handful of people needing this specialised care." Mr Robertson said the Government was keen to provide the therapy and a submission by the state's clinical oncology network was under way. The Government today will announce plans to spend $9 million on new cancer equipment at the Mater and Princess Alexandra hospitals. Mr Robertson said the funds would cut waiting times and allow both hospitals to treat more cancer patients. "It represents a significant expansion of cancer services and shows the Beattie Government is getting on with the job of improving the health system," he said


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