Wednesday, October 18, 2006


And, being born of an Australian mother, Prince Christian of Denmark is as Australian as he is Danish. Both he and his mother are of course immensely popular in Australia.

Nuclear power coming to Australia

The cartoon refers to the deep divisions among Australia's Left about nuclear power

Prime Minister John Howard has given his strongest support yet to the use of nuclear power in Australia, backing the local development of the "clean" energy industry. An expert taskforce is due to release a draft report next month on the merits of nuclear power and whether Australia should be thinking of value-adding options, such as enrichment, for its vast uranium stores. But before the experts have even had their say, Mr Howard has indicated he believes nuclear power is an industry Australia should be developing. Mr Howard has previously suggested nuclear power was something Australia should consider if economically viable.

"I'm in favour of Australia developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes," he told the Nine Network. "It's clean and green and, in an age where we're worried about global warming, we should be looking seriously at nuclear power as an option because it's clean and it doesn't emit greenhouse gases. "I can't understand why the extreme greenies oppose it."

Mr Howard's one-time adversary, former prime minister Paul Keating, sees the issue completely differently. "Nuclear energy is a bad fuel, a dirty fuel, a dangerous fuel," he told Sky News. "Nuclear is a no-no generally in my opinion - it is a bad business." Instead Mr Keating would prefer to focus on alternative strategies to reduce Australia's reliance on fossil fuels, options such as hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel cells.

Labor has pledged there will be no nuclear power if it wins government, but it does plan to re-examine its policy of no new uranium mines at its national conference next year. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley wants the policy changed but faces a difficult job convincing some sections of Labor that it is the way to go. Mr Keating thinks a change in the Labor policy would be a mistake. "I think I would stay with the existing policy," he said. "This is not a good industry to encourage, and anyone that has an electricity program, ipso-facto ends up with a nuclear weapons capability."


West Australia education chief quits over sex 'cover-up'

A far-Left organization show its non-existent principles

The head of Western Australia's Eductation department has resigned after a damning report that found sexual misconduct is not being properly handled in the state's schools. In a scathing report, the state's Corruption and Crime Commission said the Department of Education and Training repeatedly covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children by teachers, and was more concerned with protecting the welfare of staff than students. Department of Education and Training (DET) director general Paul Albert has agreed to leave the job after a meeting overnight with Premier Alan Carpenter.

Mr Carpenter has said that while he accepts the CCC did not make any specific adverse findings against Mr Albert, "we both agreed that public confidence in our education system was paramount". "It is with regret that, during our discussion, we came to an agreement that it was in the best interests of all parties for Mr Albert to leave the public service under a Management Initiated Retirement."

The state Opposition has called for Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich to resign. After the release of the report, CCC spokesman Roger Watson said the department had resisted the efforts of the CCC to get it improve procedures. He indicated the report had been released publicly in a bid to force change, saying the commission had thought hard before taking that action. The CCC revealed that in one case where a teacher was convicted of indecently dealing with a child under 13, the department had responded by transferring him to another school. The department believed the facts that the child was not one of his students and the conduct did not occur in school hours were mitigating factors.

In another case, a school principal and deputy principal were found to have covered up a relationship between a teacher and student after the teacher agreed to resign. The CCC said the deputy principal was aware the teacher had been investigated for inappropriate conduct with an under-age girl at another school five years earlier but he was allowed to resign before an investigation was conducted into the latest allegation.

The department also failed to investigate repeated allegations about a teacher engaging in sexual contact with female students at school camps over a number of years, and decided not to investigate allegations against a school gardener. It also allowed a teacher with a history of sexual contact with students while on overseas excursions to attend another overseas trip where he was seen engaging in inappropriate conduct.

Ms Ravlich said yesterday she had no knowledge of the explosive allegations until she was briefed by the CCC on Thursday night and received the report on Friday. Yesterday, she labelled it "extremely serious" and that she was extremely angry. "There's no doubt about it, the department has got it wrong," she said. "I think it would be fair to say that the department probably does need a shake-up." But Ms Ravlich had said she was "very disappointed" in Mr Albert. She said she could not act against other staff exposed by the CCC because she had no capacity to do so under the Public Sector Management Act.

Mr Albert claimed he was unable to keep the minister informed because the CCC had instructed him not to disclose any information. Under pressure from the media, he later indicated the actions of staff involved in the incidents would be reviewed. This included the decision by human resources executive director Alby Huts to return a convicted child abuser to the classroom.

Mr Watson said the cases were not isolated examples of the department's handling of sexual misconduct matters. Ms Ravlich said all six recommendations of the CCC would be implemented immediately. The state Opposition has said the report highlights the latest in a series of crises for the minister who has come under fire over Western Australia's controversial "outcomes-based" education system.


Drunken yobs don't like anybody who looks different

An Australian Rules football club has apologised for an assault on a Jewish man who has said drunken players hurled racial taunts and bashed him in front of his young children. Victorian police are investigating the savage attack on Menachem Vorchheimer, 33, by players from the Ocean Grove Football Club. About 20 footballers had just left Caulfield racecourse in a mini-bus.

Mr Vorchheimer has said the men yelled "F--- off Jews" and "Go the Nazis" before motioning as if they were shooting a machine gun at him and his children. They then snatched his traditional Jewish headwear and punched him in the face, he has said.

The club's president has apologised to Mr Vorchheimer. But the team's coach has said the incident was an "accident" and that the father of two had rejected an apology offered immediately afterwards.

Mr Vorchheimer has told the Herald Sun his children, aged 6 and 3, were screaming and crying during the attack that left him with cuts and bruises to the face. Witnesses surrounded the bus and stopped it from driving off until police arrived.

The trouble began when Mr Vorchheimer and his children were walking along Balaclava Rd, Caulfield, about 6.30pm on Saturday. Mr Vorchheimer was wearing traditional Jewish dress including a shabbat hat and a yamulka, the skull cap worn by Jewish men. As the minibus drove past, some of the players were laughing and yelling racist abuse, he has said. When the bus stopped at a red light, Mr Vorchheimer went to the driver's door. "I wanted to find out where they were from so that . . . I could make approaches to that organisation," he said. But the bus driver appeared to ignore him and took off when the light turned green.

As the bus drove past, two men reached out the back window, grabbed Mr Vorchheimer's hat and skull cap and hurled more abuse. A driver who saw the incident pulled in front of the bus and stopped it. Mr Vorchheimer said the men threw one of his hats out the bus window but when he asked for the other hat he was attacked. "I was pulled toward the open window and then punched by a right hand into my left eye by a passenger on the bus. I fell back and was in enormous pain." Mr Vorchheimer said he felt blood running down his face as the men threw his other hat out the window. "Meanwhile my kids are on the sidewalk crying and screaming," he said. He said witnesses surrounded the bus and stopped it from moving. Mr Vorchheimer said he sat in front of the bus and said. "You're not going 'til the police come."

More here

Public hospital cancer patients shafted

Secret waiting list figures have exposed the deadly delays Queensland cancer sufferers are forced to endure. Damning internal Queensland Health statistics have revealed cancer patients are waiting more than four times longer than recommended for life-saving treatment. According to the latest figures, priority-two patients, who have been diagnosed with aggressive cancers and internal bleeding, are now waiting up to 48 days for radiation treatment. Queensland Health's recommended maximum waiting time is 14 days to avoid "a significant adverse effect on outcomes". Patients with priority-three conditions, who predominantly suffer breast and prostate cancers, are waiting up to 89 days for treatment. The recommended maximum waiting time is 28 days.

The figures have changed little in the month since Health Minister Stephen Robertson downplayed radiation waiting times as a week-to-week prospect when they were initially obtained by The Courier-Mail. Mr Robertson, who yesterday could not be contacted, has repeatedly insisted the Government is tackling waiting times with a $9.7 billion injection into Queensland's health system. However, a spokesman for the Medical Radiation Professionals Group, a collective of Queensland Health workers, said waiting times would worsen.

Only the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital manages to treat patients within recommended waiting times. High-level hospital sources believe the RBWH's short waiting times were being caused by a chronic shortage of specialists able to recommend radiation. The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane has the longest wait times for category-two patients at 48 days. Townsville hospital has maintained the longest wait for priority-three patients at 89 days.


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