Wednesday, October 21, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG wonders why it is only the conservatives that the media are scrutinizing over the proposed Warmist laws

Coverup of official injustice to Australian Navy sailors -- with whistleblower penalized

The navy has trouble enough as it is in recruiting enough highly-skilled men. Do they think this is going to help? How dumb can you get? And the top brass are such *holes that they have still to apologize for their precipitate actions. It doesn't say much for the leadership of the Australian navy. Isn't there anyone at the top with some decency?

THE navy knew within days that claims crewmen on the supply ship HMAS Success ran a competition on how many female sailors they could sleep with were false but did nothing to set the record straight, the federal Opposition says. The three men were removed from their ship in Singapore in May because of the allegations and have not been posted back to sea since.

The Opposition defence spokesman, David Johnson, said last night the navy's treatment of the men was ''shoddy'' and their careers may have been irreparably damaged. Senator Johnson said the claims were fabricated by an aggrieved shipmate. He said they were told they were to be sent home in disgrace and were given 30 minutes to pack their gear and get off the ship. HMAS Success's commander told the crew a ''rotten core'' had been removed.

Senator Johnson also said a Navy lawyer appointed to represent the men raised concerns about why they were ''landed'' before the allegations were investigated and the navy ignored his requests for information for months. The legal officer was also called aside by his superiors and told that he worked for the navy command and should not consider the men to be his ''clients''. The officer was so concerned that he wrote a report to his superiors setting out his concerns about the way the episode was handled, Senator Johnson said. That officer had since been posted to Western Australia even through his wife worked in NSW.

After the initial media reports in July, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said what was claimed was ''disturbing'' and the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said the claim should be investigated and such behaviour could discourage women from joining the defence force. The claims were widely published around the world.

Senator Johnson said the Navy's investigation report was due out soon. He said it became very clear to ADF investigators from the start that the claim about sailors keeping a ledger on how many female colleagues could be ''bedded'' was blatantly untrue. Senator Johnson said the Navy had over-reacted because of the intense media and political pressure that followed the initial claims run on commercial television.


The unending disaster that is Australia's European-sourced submarines: Will they EVER work properly?

Coupled with the constant problems and groundings of the A380 Airbuses, one has to wonder if welfare-cushioned Europeans now have the fire needed to make advanced projects work. The computer program that runs the boats eventually had to be scrapped and replaced with an American one. It might end up that way for the diesel motors too. The Australian workforce that maintains the boats also seems to be heavily bureaucratized and hence idle

The navy's $6 billion Collins-class submarines face serious operational restrictions after being hit by a run of crippling mechanical problems and troubling maintenance issues. Some senior engineering experts now contend that the Swedish-supplied Hedemora diesel engines may have to be replaced - a major design and engineering job that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years to complete. So serious are the problems that the Defence Materiel Organisation has put the Collins boats at the top of its list of "projects of concern" - the key equipment issues troubling Australia's Defence leaders.

The Australian understands that in recent times only a single Collins-class boat has been available for operational duties but it is unclear whether this involves more than extended training missions.

Senior Defence leaders are also vitally concerned about the productivity and efficiency of ASC, the Adelaide-based wholly government-owned builder and maintainer of the Collins class. One senior Defence source characterises the level of concern in senior government ranks about the availability of the Collins submarines as "extreme".

In the recent defence white paper, Kevin Rudd announced that the government would double the size of the RAN's submarine fleet from six to 12 when it came to replacing the Collins-class boats from 2025. "If you can't do this right, how do you do the next one," observed one senior Defence source last night. "We spend a lot of money on this core defence capability and they aren't working properly."

Defence Minister John Faulkner and Defence Materiel Minister Greg Combet have now demanded monthly updates from the navy and Defence about the operational state of the Collins-class vessels. ASC, the Adelaide-based builder and maintainer of the Collins class, is now working through a range of mechanical issues affecting the performance of the six submarines with the state of the diesel engines a fundamental concern. The trouble-plagued diesel engines are expected to last at least another 15 to 20 years before they are progressively replaced by the planned next-generation submarine from 2025.

While ASC believes they can still last the expected life-of-type and has called in a Swiss consultant to advise on a long-term remediation plan, other external experts believe there may be no option but to start planning for their eventual replacement. The Hedemora diesel engines have never functioned well from the start and there are now real doubts that they are robust enough to see out the life of the Collins boats. Other mechanical issues include the performance of the electric motors, batteries and generators but ASC sources are confident that these glitches are being satisfactorily resolved.

HMAS Collins is undergoing repairs on its diesel engines and there are temporary restrictions on two other boats while the bands on their electric motors are fixed. But ASC remains confident that four "operational" boats will be available to the navy early in 2010 while HMAS Rankin and HMAS Sheean enter ASC's Adelaide yard to undergo a "full-cycle docking" - a major refit and overhaul.

ASC has the maintenance contract for the Collins boats worth nearly $200 million and this year is budgeted to spend $330m on maintaining and upgrading the submarines, including the combat system. But Defence leaders are concerned about the company's ability to efficiently manage the regular full-cycle dockings (FCD) and other lengthy maintenance periods that the Collins boats require. Defence wants to cut the average time taken for a FCD from three to two years, saving at least $60-70m a year, which would be ploughed back into supporting the Collins capability.

ASC has a $3bn long-term through-life support contract for the Collins boats with the DMO which is due to be renegotiated by next March. Senior Defence sources say there will be three key performance indicators that they expect from the new contract with ASC including an increased availability of boats for operations and a reduced cost of ownership to the commonwealth. "We are concerned with the amount of availability of the boats and the cost of doing the maintenance as well as some of the technical outcomes being achieved," DMO chief Stephen Gumley told The Australian. "We are working with the company to improve in each of those areas.

We hope to have a new through-life support contract for the Collins by Easter next year, which would commence in the financial year starting on July 1, 2010," Dr Gumley said. "Like any complex asset, there is a series of technical challenges. "We are working with ASC and external consultants to evaluate some of the challenges that we have."

A recent external consultant's study of workforce productivity on the Collins boats at ASC's Adelaide yard suggests room for significant improvement. According to documents obtained by The Australian, the study showed that some mechanical tradesmen working on the Collins boats were idle for much of their time on the shop floor. One electrical tradesman was present for the entire day but his only role was to insert and remove the fuses for a pressure test. This test took 10 minutes and was held mid-afternoon. Another electrical tradesman was clocked to have spent three hours and 12 minutes of productive work in a day. "The average efficiency observed (using generous definitions of productive work) was 30 per cent. Over 15 days of tradesperson time across multiple disciplines was observed, and nobody has suggested that theperiod of time we studied was not representative," the consultant report found. "We believe that an efficiency of 80 per cent should be considered world-class in this environment. This would be a 167 per cent increase in the work output of the current workforce or opportunity for a dramatic cost reduction," the report said.

Ever since they were launched, the Collins boats have been plagued by mechanical problems. As early as June 1999, a report to the Howard government found a range of serious technical defects in the Collins boats, three of which had been delivered to the navy by that time. These included problems with the diesel engines as well as noise propagation and the performance of propellers, periscopes, masts and the combat system. By far the most expensive fix was the the [computerized] combat system. The original system never worked and was eventually replaced [by an American one] at a cost of close to $1 billion.


Warming harms mental health

Warmists are certainly disturbing a lot of people (That's their aim) but there is no evidence that warming is, just assertions. The stuff below is just health academics trying to clamber aboard the global warming bandwagon

The negative impact on mental health worldwide may be one of the most severe effects of climate change, with children at greatest risk, according to experts. ["Experts" say that something "may" happen. Not much more persuasive than "My old Mommy told me"]

As climate change causes extreme weather events, drought, financial strain and changes in work and migration patterns, people will be at increasing risk from mental health issues such as post traumatic stress disorder and depression, said Dr Helen Berry from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University (ANU). Despite the risk, this is an area that has received little attention, she added.

She spoke at an Australian Science Media Centre online briefing on 16 October alongside Professor Brian Kelly, Director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Health at the University of Newcastle, and Dr Lyndall Strazdins, a Fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and the ANU. "Mental health problems aren't just collateral damage from climate change, they could well be one of the most profound effects," said Dr Berry.

According to Dr Berry, scientists, health services and governments need to work together to stop the damage to mental health at a regional level before it becomes a serious problem. "It's becoming apparent that we're experience the IPCC's worst case scenario of climate change - or even worse," said Berry. "We need to address the impact that this will have on mental health, now."

Climate change can affect people in a number of different ways, according to Dr Berry. It can act directly on mental health through trauma exposure, for example a cyclone caused by increasing temperatures, or it can act indirectly via disease and community changes. "All of these factors interact and could result in a great increase in severe mental health problems," she added.

Currently half of all Australians will suffer mental illness at some point in their life, and this number is set to increase, according to the Dr Strazdins. "Mental health problems are already the second largest burden of disease in Australia, and by 2020 this is predicted to be the case worldwide," said Dr Strazdins. "Climate change amplifies the existing risks, particularly for children," she added.

According to Dr Strazdins, the mental health impacts of climate change will be more severe for children because they will be exposed to climate change for longer over their lifetime. Children are also less mentally prepared to deal with the stress from climate change related trauma, such as bushfires, which are set to increase by up to 75 per cent by 2050, said Dr Strazdins. A study on children whose school burnt down during the Canberra 2003 fires found that at least 40 per cent were suffering mild to moderate post traumatic stress disorder.

The impact that climate change has on others, such as financial strain put on parents, will also affect children, Dr Strazdins added. "A number of studies have revealed that children are already anxious and fearful about climate change. They need to be at the centre of the debate - yet the impact of climate change on children and the costs to future generations is not being discussed," said Dr Strazdins.

According to Professor Kelly, in order to minimise the problem we need to predict how people will adapt to and cope with climate change, and provide services that will help them to 'bounce back' more easily. "The people most at risk are those that are in isolated regions. In order to reach them, health services need to work very closely with organisations that respond to other impacts of climate change, such as financial counsellors, vets and local banks. "The aim is to try to see mental health as part of an overall strategy that deals with climate change impact," he said.

Despite their warnings, it's not all bad news - Dr Berry added that there could be a positive side effect to communities facing the risks of climate change. "Climate change could motivate collective action, which is the number one thing to protect mental health," she said.



The constant and ever-growing influx of "boat people" taking advantage of the Rudd government's eagerness to class almost anyone as a "refugee" has drawn a lot of public attention in Australia, as Rudd is clearly going against what the great majority of Australians want. Three current articles below

'Humanitarian' boatpeople deal breaks deadlock

KEVIN Rudd and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last night resolved their standoff, with Jakarta agreeing to accept 78 asylum-seekers rescued by Australia at the weekend, citing the plight of a sick child on board. As the 78 Sri Lankans prepared to spend their third night aboard the Australian Customs vessel the Oceanic Viking, Indonesia agreed the asylum-seekers rescued by HMAS Armidale in the Sunda Strait on Sunday would be brought to shore as soon as possible.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Dr Yudhoyono's spokesman cited the sick child as a factor in the "humanitarian" decision. "President Yudhoyono has advised for humanitarian reasons and safety-at-sea reasons the Oceanic Viking will come to the port of Merak where the 78 on board will be put in temporary accommodation until international agencies have had the opportunity to process them," Mr Smith told ABC TV last night. "We had a young girl on board who was unwell. "That's a very good humanitarian result. It's a very good example of co-operation between Australia and Indonesia."

After high-level talks about how to stem the flow of asylum boats to Australia, Dr Yudhoyono's spokesman, Dino Patti Djalal, said the Sri Lankans' claims for refugee status would be dealt with as soon as possible by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "Basically, it is because there is a sick child on board and the President is quite concerned about the health of the child," he said. "We need a clear framework for how to deal with this in the future so that we don't deal with these sorts of situations on an ad hoc basis."

He indicated that officials from both countries would be working over the coming weeks to establish such a framework. Mr Rudd and Dr Yudhoyono would discuss the matter in Singapore in November at the APEC leaders conference. The agreement came as the Prime Minister held bilateral talks with Dr Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak aimed at stopping the boat surge.

Before the deal was struck in Jakarta last night, there were further indications of an emerging schism in Labor ranks over the Prime Minister's toughened rhetoric on boats. Last night, Labor MP Michael Danby [who is Jewish] rebuked Mr Rudd over his use of the term "illegal immigration", pointedly noting he preferred Immigration Minister Chris Evans's "non-hysterical" approach. "I don't like expressions like illegal immigration," Mr Danby told the ABC.

Last night, Mr Rudd was on his way home from the Indonesian capital, where he had been attending the inauguration of Dr Yudhoyono with Mr Smith and Defence Chief Angus Houston. While in Jakarta, Mr Rudd also held talks with Singapore's Lee Hsien Loong, with people-smuggling high on the agenda.

Mr Rudd's absence from Australia saw no let-up in hostilities between the government and the opposition, with the issue of boatpeople provoking a series of bitter skirmishes in parliament. As Mr Rudd was meeting regional leaders, a Senate estimates committee hearing in Canberra degenerated into a shouting match between Senator Evans and Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who demanded to know what the Rudd government was doing to address the surge.

"We abolished the Pacific Solution. I'm absolutely proud of that. It was a blight on Australia and a blight on our international reputation," Senator Evans said. "But you, senator, you've got a choice, you either argue for it coming back, or you don't."

Malcolm Turnbull attacked the government for "unpicking" the tapestry of measures stitched together by the Howard government, while acknowledging they had been controversial. He defended reviving John Howard's declaration that Australians should decide "who comes to this country". "The previous prime minister, Mr Howard, was criticised for saying that, but the fact is, that is what every Australian expects of their government," said Mr Turnbull.

The 78 asylum-seekers transferred from their boat to the Oceanic Viking after issuing a distress call in the Indonesian search and rescue zone, includes at least five women and five young children. At Indonesia's request, Australia sent the patrol boat HMAS Armidale to the scene. "This is not an area or a matter where Australia is saying to Indonesia, 'It's your problem'," Mr Smith said last night. "This is where Australia is saying to Indonesia, and Indonesia is saying to Australia: 'We need to work together to address a very difficult problem'. It's a very good example of Australia discharging its safety-at-sea obligations. My understanding and my advice is that there's no legal obligation on the part of Indonesia to take them, and that was not a point or a view put to Indonesia by Australia."


Dangerous to let asylum seekers jump the queue

Susan Hocking

THE current debate about how best to handle the boatloads of refugees, illegal immigrants or call them what you will, arriving on Australia's doorstep has taken me back to a time when I was all-consumed with the lot of people trying to get into Australia, people who were failing miserably. I was a chairperson of the Australian Immigration Review Panel – a body that heard the appeals of would-be migrants to this country, people who had applied and been rejected. The panel was their last chance at entry and with that knowledge of what was at stake, it was the sort of role that gave me many a sleepless night. It was a responsibility not to be taken lightly. And it wasn't.

It was, however, a humbling, eye-opening and frequently very sad experience. I suspect that many people born to Australian citizenship, born to peace and relative prosperity and the assumption of all kinds of freedoms, do not always easily grasp what it is that would make people rally their families and head off on a plane, often to the other side of the world, leaving behind friends and loved ones, perhaps a familiar language, culture, a whole way of life.

When that same decision is made by people who jump on leaky boats captained by people who are little more than traffickers in human flesh for dangerous and sometimes futile voyages, our confusion and disbelief are even greater. As is our suspicion and our resentment at those who appear, like uninvited strangers.

And therein lies the stumbling point for me with the waves of boat people heading this way. The people on the leaky boats, no matter how brave they may be, no matter how determined or desperate, raise my concerns because they are unknown entities. And they are jumping the queue. In doing so – and by us accepting them – they are, inadvertently or not, making a mockery of our immigration policy and our refugee programs and of the very patient people spread all over the world – be they living in townhouses in London or squalid refugee camps in Kenya – who are adhering to all the myriad, time-consuming requirements we have of those we invite in.

Those requirements enable us to know who exactly is coming to live among us, what sort of people they are and with what sort of personal histories; to know, as far as humanly possible, what they have to offer us and what we can offer them. Fulfilling those requirements – from the masses of paperwork through to the personal qualities – is not easy and the process is usually slow. But sure. It takes patience and commitment on everybody's part. But ultimately we can rest pretty well assured that in the midst of a world on the move, we have opened the doors to people that we can be comfortable sharing our communities with.

While it behoves us to show compassion and understanding to people knocking to come in, to treat the homeless, albeit uninvited, stranger as we would a person in need knocking on the door of our own home, we have every right to wariness. We would be foolish and we would be risking the wellbeing of our own family if we simply threw that door open willy-nilly. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to think long and hard about who comes to live among us. That does not make us an unwelcoming, uncaring nation. It makes us vigilant, prudent stewards of the Australian "family".

Furthermore, we should be wary of making assumptions about degrees of despair. In a world racked with war and poverty and upheaval, we shouldn't assume that the people on the boats have any greater depth of loss or desperation than the Somali family, for example, or the Cambodians, or the Zimbabweans, all living in camps, waiting it out, counting the days, all their forms painstakingly filled in, doing it by the book, playing by the rules. Patient and with their hearts full of hope.

We shouldn't assume that the boat people have the right to jump the queue because of the sheer audacity of their voyage, any more than we should expect the patient, waiting, would-be migrant to be bumped back further and further down the line because they chose to do things by the book. And to resign themselves to a quiet acceptance of that.

I have read too many immigration applications from too many patient and deserving souls to buy into the business of queue jumping. In many ways, the process of biding time, of compiling the papers and the signatories and producing the certificates and the records – of satisfying the needs of our Immigration Department – is every bit as gruelling as hitting the high seas, bound for Australia by boat. It just doesn't grab the headlines or tug so hard at the heartstrings.

All that said, personally, if the boat people pass muster once they arrive here – if, when all the thorough checks are done, they do qualify as genuine asylum seekers, fleeing persecution and with no other safe place to go – I would not have a problem with them staying on. But please, only if it is not at the expense of those would-be Australians languishing somewhere right now, with very little to sustain them but the knowledge they have already played by our rules; the patient people.


Mainstream Australian concerns about immigration are muzzled

Thirteen years after Pauline Hanson struck a chord with mainstream Australia, the vacuum she left when she departed the political scene remains unfilled.

Civil rights apologists try to bottle up public concern about illegal arrivals, militant Islamism, ethnic gangs, drugs and the murderous danger zones that our CBDs have become, but from time to time the outrage erupts on talkback radio and in the letters to the editor columns. A caller from Bathurst, NSW, recently said the threat of Pacific Islander gangs in western Sydney made him pack up and leave, and he is not alone. A woman who was flying her Australian flag during the Cronulla riots had her house pelted with eggs. Police told her to take down the flag as it was inciting the Muslims.

These are today's forgotten people, Australians of all generations who know their history and are embittered as they see their heritage, values, institutions and way of life devalued. Under Labor, the rapid-fire arrival of boatloads of illegals has, until recently, failed to generate the banner headlines of the past, no doubt heart-warming for those Greens, Laborites and Liberal marshmallows who favour the madness of some sort of open borders policy. Ex-Liberal MP Bruce Baird, now holding a Labor job, told the Ten Network's Meet the Press Labor's policy changes on dealing with people-smugglers had nothing whatsoever to do with the recent surge in arrivals.

As Christmas Island readies to put up the no-vacancy sign, the hitherto silent Libs have broken out, led by Philip Ruddock and Kevin Andrews, and already the polls have spiked substantially in their favour, no doubt creating more grief for Malcolm Turnbull, who is handcuffed to the usual suspects in Wentworth and whose only comment to date has been a limp-wristed call for an independent inquiry.

The chief objective of the illegals and their criminal co-conspirators, the people-smugglers, is to be allowed to come ashore on the mainland and that will surely happen soon.

Still disconnected from the mainstream, there is hardly a mumble from the Liberals as our immigration rates accelerate.

A new Australia is in the making, where our ethnic minorities will become majorities, aided by people running Malcolm Fraser's line that we need a population of 50 million plus, no doubt to be fed by the spring of taxpayer-funded multiculturalism.

In 1976 the Fraser government was warned by the Immigration Department that too many Lebanese Muslim refugees were unskilled, illiterate and had questionable character and health standards. Cabinet documents released in 2007 revealed how Australia's decision to accept thousands of Lebanese Muslims escaping Lebanon's 1976 civil war led to a temporary suspension of normal eligibility standards.

With hindsight we know where Fraser stood on such matters, his sense of guilt over the Vietnam War resulting in 56,000 Vietnamese refugees coming to Australia plus 2000 or so boatpeople, culminating in him establishing the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs with his protege Petro Georgiou as its director.

Fraser has stubbornly rejected any criticism that he was responsible for sowing the seeds of unrest in Sydney's west, instead blaming schools and communities and forgetting that at no time have the views of the Australian community been honestly and properly considered on immigration and refugee issues by any government.

It is not just multiculturalism that is fuelling anger. Included in the ranks of the forgotten people are the self-funded retirees who have seen their hard-earned super and share portfolios head south during the global financial crisis, while some MPs debate and defend their salaries and maladministration allows $82 million worth of stimulus to go offshore to Australians, many of them citizens ofconvenience.

Sadly, these mainstream Australians have no one with the courage to become their flag-bearer in these challenging times. The fear of violent reprisal and being ostracised by the political elite is a reality that tarnishes and denigrates the sacrifices of past generations. Despite this, the talkback lines hum, as this form of protest is more rewarding than contacting a Coalition office.

Fearless journalism is required to expose the many unpleasant truths and maybe, just maybe, a resurgent Nationals with a Barnaby Joyce-type at the helm could strike out on its own, embracing and claiming a large and powerful constituency that has been neglected for far too long.


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