Monday, January 01, 2007

Your government will protect you -- in its usual negligent way

Queensland: Plenty of money to pay an ever-expanding bureaucracy but no money for basics

Volunteer rural fire- fighters were told to stop using old vehicles, but haven't been given replacements.

Coverty Rural Fire Brigade, near Kingaroy, had to stop using a 1949 truck and 19705 utility. First Officer Col McGregor said the brigade had relied on the vehicles to carry water, equipment and personnel. "They won't allow us to use them, but they won't give us new vehicles to replace them," he said. The brigade had been left with a truck that could carry only two people to a fire.

The ban on old vehicles comes after The Sunday Mail last year revealed fire-fighters at Ambrose, between Gladstone and Rockhampton, were using a battered old truck that traffic inspectors had ordered off the road.

Mr McGregor said local fire authorities last year insisted the 12-member Coverty brigade get rid of any vehicles older than 20 years. The brigade had reluctantly sold its van, which was almost 60 years old. The van had been slow, but was better than nothing, Mr McGregor said.

But fire service rural operations director Paul Adcock said old vehicles could cause a safety risk and Coverty had not needed three trucks. "The situation with brigades like Coverty is that they are what we call traditional rural fire brigades, or farmer brigades," he said. "Generally we don't supply that class of brigade with a vehicle. "We provide slipon units and trailers and things like that which are much more suitable to a farm-type environment.

Volunteers from Aldershot Fire Brigade, near Maryborough, also say they have been left with a truck that can carry only two people. First officer Norm Rymer said State Emergency Services Minister Pat Purcell promised to replace the 13-year-old vehicle. "I took it to the Minister so he could see it. He wanted to see a relic that seated only two people. He said he'd do something about it, but he's done nothing. "I've been in the brigade three years and they were trying before then to get it replaced." The brigade's 14 members were warned against using their own vehicles to travel to fires as they might not be covered by insurance.

Mr Adcock said Aldershot's vehicle would be replaced in 2008/09.

(From "THE SUNDAY MAIL" December 31, 2006 Page 11)

Australia's Inhofe?

(Senator Inhofe is the most vocal global warming mocker in the U.S. Congress)

Controversial Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen has defied John Howard on climate change just months after the Prime Minister personally intervened to prevent him being ousted from his blue-ribbon Perth electorate of Tangney.

The former CSIRO scientist, who alarmed conservatives earlier this year when he said he would be happy to have a nuclear reactor in his electorate, has written to constituents to encourage them to be sceptical about global warming. Dr Jensen insists the argument over climate change is not clear-cut, despite the Prime Minister accepting that global warming is a real issue. Mr Howard has appointed a taskforce to examine the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

"There have been many predictions of dire consequences if global warming is not tackled in time, but what are we tackling and will any initiatives we take have any effect?" Dr Jensen says in a letter posted on his electorate website. The letter and website contain links to a number of articles that question whether global warming is a recent phenomenon, including a savage critique of Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

Article above from "The Australian" of December 30, 2006

Women 'moved on' from feminism

John Howard believes young Australian women have entered a post-feminist era and "moved on" from the need to measure their lives by success in a career. Discussing the rise in births triggered in part by the Coalition's baby-bonus scheme, the Prime Minister told The Sunday Telegraph he thought young women had "a greater awareness now of the disadvantage of postponing having children too long".

Mr Howard said they realised that if child-bearing was left too late, it produced "complications". "Fortunately, I think today's younger women are more in the post-feminist period, where they don't measure their independence and freedom by the number of years they remain full-time in the workforce without having children," he said. "I think they've moved on from that sort of demonstration phase. "I don't mean demonstrations in the streets and so on, but in the sense that they thought: 'I'll be letting the sisterhood down if I don't stay in the workforce until I'm a certain age.' "I think they're more confident and everything."

Mr Howard would not indicate whether his thoughts were influenced by his daughter Melanie - who is in her early 30s and was married in September, 2003 - and whether she might be expecting a child. He said it was not a matter on which he would comment.

"I think what I would claim in relation to such things is that we support choice, and that we don't measure women's achievements and women's rights by the number of full-time female participants in the workforce."

Mr Howard said that when most Australian families decided to have children, they wanted to be in a situation where "in the very early years, in the very early stages, somebody - usually the mother - is at home caring for the child full-time". Then they would go back into the workforce, usually part-time. He said the most common family grouping was what he called "the one and a half to one and a quarter", where there was a full-time breadwinner and the other partner worked part-time.

"Some of them return to full-time work, but the norm is not two people in the full-time workforce from the time a child is born. "That is not the norm, and I think you have to have policies that accommodate all of those choices. "In the last figures I saw, about 27 per cent were one and a halfs, 18 or 19 per cent were two full-timers and about 22 per cent were on single incomes. "When you add the first group and the third together, its more than double the other one."

Mr Howard said all choices had to be accommodated. He believed Coalition policies did that, without trying to tell people how to organise their lives.

Adi Levy, 26, who has a 15-month-old son, Jacob, said starting a family younger had many advantages. "I love being a young mum. I have so much more energy and patience than I would have if I was 10 years older," Ms Levy said. "Provided you're ready for it and you're financially stable, it's a good idea to start young; it's fun. "My aim is to have three children before I reach 30, but we'll see how we go."

Australia's fertility rate is at its highest level since 1995. Women aged 30 to 34 continue to have the highest fertility rate of all women (117.5 babies per 1000 women in 2005) - the highest for this age group since 1964. This reflects the continuing trend of delaying motherhood. Fertility rates of teenagers and women aged 20 to 24 continue to decline, although teenage fertility has increased in some states and territories. The median age of mothers giving birth in 2005 was 30.7 years, 3.4 years older than mothers in 1985.


Storm brings baby boom

Great news. Being born in Innisfail myself, I am delighted to see it

Meet Larry's legion. Far north Queensland is on the cusp of a baby boom and it owes it all to Tropical Cyclone Larry. When the Category 5 storm cut power to thousands of homes just over nine months ago, couples walked away from their lifeless televisions, lit candles and snuggled. "You can tell there was a lot of loving going on at the end of March," said Innisfail region Coca-Cola sales manager Shane O'Brien.

The legacy of all that love is beginning to show in cyclone-affected regions. Mr O'Brien's wife Joanne gave birth to Flynn - conceived during the three weeks their Upper Daradgee home was without electricity - nearly two weeks early on December 17. "No sport, no TV . . . see what happens," Mr O'Brien joked. "You'd be out all day working, cleaning up after the cyclone, and come home absolutely exhausted and end up going to bed early. "There was nothing else to do."

The O'Briens are not on their own. Across Innisfail and its surrounding towns, there are pregnant women everywhere: strolling through the main streets, packing into doctors' waiting rooms and filing into ante-natal classes. "Everyone's talking about how many big bellies and babies there are around the place," said expectant mum Kathryn Dryden.

Joanne O'Brien and workmates Melanie Worth and Dayle Mauloni all became pregnant within weeks of each other. Mrs Worth's son Harry was born nearly 11 weeks premature on October 6. "We think he might have been the first of the cyclone babies," she said.

Johnstone Shire Mayor Neil Clarke reckons the swollen bellies represent his constituents' resolve to rebound from the lows of 2006. Mrs O'Brien agreed, saying the baby boom was cause for celebration after the trials brought about by Larry. "Flynn's birth has brought us a lot of joy and has put everything into perspective," she said. "We had all that bad luck and suddenly it turned to good luck."

Although hospital birth figures are yet to reflect Innisfail's growth, new arrivals Leonardo Kenderick, Clayton Daley and Tanna Hooligan were evidence of it at Innisfail District Hospital.


No comments: