Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Climate, coral and the attention-seeking Dane

Can Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg read a textbook?

Once again Hoagy has been on TV and in the news recently moaning piteously at the impending doom of Australia's Great Barrier Reef due to global warming. So I thought the brief history lesson below might explain why he is essentially talking though his anus. The reef has been around for half a million years at least, and is still there despite going through far greater climate upheavals than we have seen in our times.

The excerpt is from World Atlas of Coral Reefs by Mark D. Spalding et. al.

Hoagy is a crook.

The other winners

On the Left above: Melbourne Cup Myer Fashion in the Field. Winner Kirsty MacGillivray. What a charming lady. The judges judged well. I suspect that it is also she who appeared in the big hat in my post of yesterday.

In the middle: My personal pick of the funniest photo. Former Miss Australia and Miss Universe, Jennifer Hawkins with Melbourne Lord Mayor John So. Mayor So is very popular and I believe deservedly so but his Han ancestry does leave him rather short in some ways.

On the Right: My personal pick of the best fascinator (A fascinator is a hat that isn't really a hat). Worn by Daria Komyza of Russia.

Below: Hats/fascinators galore

Some background on the off-field activities here.

Queensland "Free" education not so free

PARENTS at a state primary school have been hit with unexpected "mandatory" fees to fund basic classroom equipment and resources. Robina State School on the Gold Coast last week wrote to parents demanding up to $120 per student for ink, work sheets and computer software. The first page of the 2009 Resource Scheme Years 1-7 Contract Form demanded parents participate in the scheme or have their child's access to equipment and resources cut off. The second page gave a choice for parents who opted out to pay for and secure themselves the resources and services, including technology licences and classroom readers.

According to the Education Act 2006, state education is to be free. Section 56 allows principals to ask parents for "voluntary" financial contributions. And it demands there be no negative consequences for those who do not pay.

This case has outraged parents, who say it is a mockery of so-called free education.

Education Queensland is unaware how many Queensland schools have made similar demands, citing a lack of data. Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Margaret Black believed it was the first time a school had omitted the word "voluntary" and issued the request as a contract. She urged parents to "make sure the word voluntary is included". Only after The Courier-Mail asked about the legality of the contract did Education Queensland instruct the Robina school to change its tune. "The principal has been asked to clarify the statements in the letter to rectify any misunderstanding it may have caused," a department spokeswoman said.

McCullough Robertson Lawyers partner Malcolm McBratney said the school's Resource Scheme appeared to be compulsory. "It's a legally enforceable contract," he said. "It doesn't seem you've got much choice."

Angry parents said the letter was deceptive. "The letter basically aims to blackmail parents into paying the voluntary annual state school contributions," the parents said. "We send our kids to a public school because we cannot afford a private school and the fees. "The school is trying to force parents and caregivers to pay voluntary contributions by sneakily ... calling it the 'resource scheme' and saying there's 'membership' to be had."

Ms Black will seek an explanation from the Assistant Director General for Education. "I'll ask, 'When did voluntary contributions become signed contracts?'," she said. Primary and high schools often send letters to parents in October and November seeking money to shore up resource budgets for the following year.


Just one example of tyrannical "Guardianship" laws

Petty and unaccountable bureaucrats are given vast powers and act like mini-Hitlers

A MAN whose affairs were taken over by the state after he spent $200,000 on phone sex will appeal the orders he says have made his life a misery. "The mental stress has been unreal," the 78-year-old told The Courier-Mail. "It's with you every minute you're awake and it's cost me $40,000 in medical and legal fees, and that's a conservative estimate. "I've also lost money as a result of being under the financial orders because of the way the Public Trustee has invested my money in shares."

The man was placed under the orders by the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal in October 2006, after relatives claimed he had spent tens of thousands of dollars on 1902 calls in almost 10 years. The relatives alleged the man was delusional, incapable of looking after himself and had dementia. However, The Courier-Mail reported last year, medical evidence stated he did not suffer dementia or other mental disability.

His challenge to the tribunal's ruling is supported by Carers Queensland and pro bono lawyers appointed by the Queensland Public Interest Legal Clearing House.

It follows the recent distribution of more than 1000 discussion papers by the Queensland Law Reform Commission, as part of the second stage of its sweeping review of the state's controversial guardianship laws. The discussion paper - Shaping Queensland's Guardianship Legislation: Principles and Capacity - looks at changes that need to be made to the guardianship of people with impaired decision-making capacity and their right to appropriate health care.


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