Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Australia's new Leftist Prime Minister does not support legalising homosexual marriage

Most Australian conservative commentators are thoroughly freaked by Ms Gillard's far-Left background. But there is little of that to see in her deeds or policy positions whilst in government. Both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan started out on the Left and a Rightward drift is in fact normal as people get older and wiser. I suspect that we are seeing quite a lot of that in Julia. It may also be worth noting that she owes her ascent to PM not to her party's Left but to its Right.

Such a drift has certainly happened before in the Australian Labor Party. Former Queensland Premier Ned Hanlon is a good example of that. Starting out as a Leftist firebrand he ended up so far Right he was almost out of sight. He even used police to crush a strike. I can't remember even Joh Bjelke Petersen doing that. The Labor party is tribal, however, so Laborites still honour him, rather incredibly. A major new hospital building in Brisbane was named after him not long ago by the State Labor government.

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia. Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show this morning. "We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples," Ms Gillard said.

Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

The new Prime Minister was left waiting on air while Kyle and Jackie played a song - Gettin' Over you by David Guetta featuring Fergie. "I can listen to a song," Ms Gillard said, when Kyle expressed concern it might be inappropriate to leave her waiting. The choice of song wasn't quite to her taste, however. "I'm a really kind of an eighties dag," she said.

Ms Gillard said she would do her best to be frank with the Australian public in her new role. "I think when you're doing something as complicated as being Prime Minister, there are days when people are going to look at what you're doing and go, 'That's fantastic,' and there are going to be other days when they look at what you're doing and say, 'Why on earth did she do that?'," Ms Gillard said.

"So I'm not going to try and promise people everything's going to be smooth sailing and they're going to be applauding at the end of each day because the job's too tough for that, but I'll be trying my best to be as frank as I can with the Australian people about the challenges we face."

Asked if she would be outlawing redheaded jokes now that she was Prime Minister, Ms Gillard laughed and said she would still allow them. "But expect to get a response when you do," she said.


An openly atheist Prime Minister!

This will go down a lot better in Australia than in the USA. Australians are an irreligious lot and even the small minority of churchgoers often have very vague religious beliefs. She is however not one of the hate-filled atheists like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. See the rubric below

NEW Prime Minister Julia Gillard has declared she does not believe in God, Christian or otherwise. The bold assertion risks alienating some Christians and other spiritualists, but is likely to please many others for its simple honesty.

In a morning radio blitz designed to introduce her new Prime Ministership to as many voters as possible before an election, possibly is called within weeks, she was asked if she believed in God. "No I don't. I'm not a religious person," she said bluntly to ABC Melbourne. "I was brought up in the Baptist Church. I grew up going to Baptist youth group and all the rest, but during my adult life I've found a different path.

"I'm, of course, a great respecter of religious beliefs but they're not my beliefs."

She said she would allow people to judge her as they saw fit, but maintained she would not "pretend a faith" she did not feel. "For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine," she said.

"What I can say to Australians, broadly of course, is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives."

The sheer straight-forwardness of her comments is likely to win her plaudits for not being seen to walk both sides of the street on a question which most people regard as an essentially personal matter.

Nonetheless, her frank position is in stark contrast to most political leaders, who have often paraded religious faith as the moral underpinnings of their policies. Kevin Rudd, for example, was often criticised for his invocation of faith and his habit of holding weekly Sunday morning doorstop interviews in front of a Canberra church. Just days ago, both Mr Rudd and Liberal leader Tony Abbott, a Catholic, conspicuously courted the Christian vote at the politically conservative Australian Christian Lobby.

Ms Gillard did not take the Bible in her hand when sworn into Parliament in 1998.


The downside of Julia's living arrangements

Living as a de facto with her partner may suit Julia Gillard, but does that make her a good role model for others?

By Bettina Arndt

Julia Gillard doesn't want to move into the Lodge until she gets a democratic tick of approval. Or so she says. Maybe the real reason she is stalling is to test the waters about public reaction to moving her first bloke in there with her.

Most media commentators are relaxed about a de facto first couple. Why not, they say, everyone's doing it. What's the big deal about living together?

They are right about the fact cohabitation - what some call "marriage lite" - is changing the social map. Census figures show the proportion of adults in de facto relationships more than doubled between 1986 and 2006. With other countries showing similar shifts, many social scientists studying this trend conclude marriage lite is not a change for the better.

It's fine for Gillard - a 48-year-old woman - to live with her bloke. Yet as a popular role model for women, her lifestyle choice may influence other women into making big mistakes about their lives.

Cohabitation produces two groups of losers among women and children. Most women want to have children - Gillard is an exception - and some miss out after wasting their primary reproductive years in a succession of live-in relationships that look hopeful but go nowhere, leaving them childless and partnerless as they hit 40.

People often drift into living together - someone's lease runs out or they get sick of running home for fresh shirts and underwear. They slide rather than decide, and frequently fail to discuss their mutual expectations for the relationship.

It's the women who end up stranded when they spend years in a succession of de facto relationships waiting for Mr Not Ready or Mr Maybe to make up his mind. Women's tiny reproductive window means they pay a high price for wasting precious breeding time in such uncertain relationships.

While the de facto lifestyle leads some women to miss out on having children, others are taking the risk of becoming parents despite these unstable relationships. A growing proportion of children is now born to de facto couples - up from less than 3 per cent in 1975 to 12 per cent in 2000, according to data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics Survey.

It is often assumed these children will provide the glue to keep de facto relationships together, but sadly this is not so. David de Vaus, a sociology professor from La Trobe University, found cohabiting couples who have children are more like to break up than married parents, increasing their risk of the negative impacts of family breakdown.

If Gillard chooses to play house with Tim Mathieson in the Lodge, this choice sends a strong message to the huge numbers of women who rightly admire her and seek to follow her example. A lifestyle suited to her particular needs may be riskier for many women and their children.

As a Labor politician, Gillard is hardly likely to spell this out. Her brand of politician is too nervous of offending natural constituents to express concern about lifestyle choices. But it wasn't always like that.

In 1972, an intriguing discussion between Germaine Greer and Margaret Whitlam was published in The National Times. Whitlam, whose husband had just become prime minister, was outspoken in her criticism of ex-nuptial births, declaring it was irresponsible to produce children outside wedlock. When Greer confessed she was considering having a child on her own, Whitlam was forthright: "Well, I think that's just a selfish thought."

Later in the interview, she relented a little. "It may be all right for people who are well known and who have position and who can organise themselves . . . but it's not OK for everybody," she said, questioning the impact of Greer's decision on her many fans.

At the heart of this conversation was role models. People in the public eye, our influential leaders, need to think through whether others who don't share their circumstances will follow their example and get into trouble.

Every day we see well-known Australians making dubious lifestyle decisions being lauded in the media - celebrities choosing to become single mothers, unwed fathers, parents dragging children through a succession of chaotic "blended" families.

Pat Rafter was made Australian of the Year just as he was about to become an unmarried father. What did that say to his many male fans about the importance of committed fathering?

Politicians today rarely question social trends, even when all the evidence is they are having negative social consequences. John Howard was the rare exception, when he went into bat for a child's rights to a father in the debate over single mothers and IVF. But the actions of our role models speak louder than any words. The well-heeled tennis hero cheerfully embracing unmarried paternity, the feminist toying with sole parenthood, the prime minister living with her boyfriend - why wouldn't their many fans not seek to walk in their shoes?


Australia most Leftist major newspaper sinks to new low in an antisemitic attack on a Jewish businessman

The Melbourne Age newspaper has stunned and appalled the Jewish community today by confecting a scandal about the fact that the Prime Minister’s partner works for a Jewish businessman Albert Dadon.

It inaccurately describes Albert as an “Israel lobbyist” which suggests he is paid to promote Israel. That’s simply not correct and conveys a false impression. Dadon is an investor, in property and many other things and was the Chair of Melbourne’s international Jazz Festival and created the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, which we assume he modelled on the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue formed by Phil Scanlon.

We have never read Scanlon described as a “pro-American lobbyist.”

(The Age) suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel. This is about as low and disturbing as it gets.

Indeed, we understand that the editor of the Age, Paul Ramadge, has previously put much effort into duchessing Mr Dadon in an attempt to rescue that newspaper’s reputation in Melbourne’s Jewish community which increasingly regards it as an apologist for misogynist and racist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah that are sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Sources tell VEXNEWS that Dadon went to some effort to encourage The Age to open its eyes to both sides of the story in the Middle East and that a member of The Age’s staff was invited to attend Australia Israel Leadership Forum events, including one in Israel.

Ramadge endorsed this and went to some trouble to undo the damage done by his predecessor Andrew Jaspan whose attacks on Israel seemed to know no decent bounds. That reputation will be confirmed by today’s breathtakingly anti-semitic attack that deems all Jews to be “pro-Israel lobbyists”.

The story was based around a letter from a retired and grouchy Arabist crank, Ross Burns which prompted a page seven story in the Sydney Morning Herald. Naturally the Age put it on the front-page and beat it up within an inch of its life.

We have previously written of the fact that Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a real problem with anti-Israel bias. Ross Burns, a career diplomat who was given many sweet plum Ambassador appointments, is a perfect embodiment of this.

Burns has now retired into the comfort of superannuation and is completing a PhD at Macquarie University on archaeology in Syria. He very frequently visits Syria. He has a keen interest in its antiquities and ancient ruins.

He has a long history of blowing anti-semitic dog-whistles against Israel, with a steady stream of cranky letters to the editor, speeches, appearances on an appreciative ABC and so on.

His latest suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel.

This is about as low as it gets. Where will this obscenity end? Will The Age’s Jewish employees soon be subjected to tests to ensure they are not “pro-Israel lobbyists.”

As for Burns, he is an old crank, who is just running out his private hatreds of Israel in public view, for his private benefit. No doubt he’s prominent on the wily Syrian Ambassador’s invitation list to sip on Johnny Blue in the wee hours. He’s an angry old man who is entitled to peddle his nasty views. But The Age has a greater responsibility than that.

And when journalists wonder why we will celebrate the imminent demise of this newspaper, this is why. Many journalists worry about what most regard as the Age’s inevitable end.

Two newspapers in a city are better than one, as a general proposition. Certainly better for journalists at both publications. Competition is a force for good, for consumers too. But The Age’s sickening effort today reveals it not to be a force for good in any respect.

The newspaper’s revenues are in freefall, its employees facing further redundancies, its circulation numbers rigged, the shares of parent company the most shorted in the entire stock market. Its end is nigh. And we’ll be dancing in the streets when that day finally comes.


Global cooling hits Sydney too

And it was !@#$%^& cold in Brisbane this morning too

Sydney's week of cold weather continues, with the city recording its coldest June morning since 1949 when temperatures dived to 4.3 degrees. The city recorded its minimum just before 6am, with the mercury sitting on 6.2 degrees at 9am. Sydney Airport dropped to 3.2 degrees just before 5am, its coldest June morning recording since 1985.

Richmond again got below freezing point, recording -4.8 degrees, its coldest morning since 1992. Other western Sydney suburbs dropped below zero, including Penrith which rose to just 0.1 degrees at 8am.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Who'd a thunk it? Bureaucrats actually fired for bungling! A rare event indeed. But the matter has been a huge embarrassment for the government so maybe that is what it takes

TWO of Queensland Health's most senior bureaucrats are believed to have been sacked over the payroll crisis, as the embattled department braces for the release of a top-level report into the multimillion-dollar bungle.

The Courier-Mail understands deputy director-general Michael Kalimnios and corporate services executive director Adrian Shea were tonight served notices of contract termination over the ongoing debacle, ahead of the latest pay run results this week.

The move by Queensland Health director-general Mick Reid late last night also comes ahead of a major report into the payroll crisis being tabled in State Parliament tomorrow by Auditor-General Glenn Poole.

Mr Kalimnios has been heavily involved in the roll-out of the $44 million payroll system, which has left nurses and doctors unpaid or wrongly paid for months.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Paul Lucas declined to comment, but senior department sources said the termination notices had given the pair 30 days until their contract ended.

Meanwhile, workers' entitlements may be scrutinised under plans to fix the fiasco.

The Auditor-General's report is expected to recommend discussions between Queensland Health and unions about simplifying awards. But unions are likely to oppose any proposal to change conditions for which they have fought, particularly given that the payroll troubles have been of Queensland Health's own making.

Australian Services Union branch secretary Julie Bignell said that if such a recommendation was implemented, it would create more work for the department's already over-stretched payroll staff. She said its current staff of 800 would need to be doubled to roll out the changes.

The eighth fortnightly pay under the new system is due on Wednesday.


Rudd the rotten and Queensland government corruption

By Piers Akerman

In an extraordinary coincidence, as Kevin Rudd was being tipped out of the Prime Minister’s office, an Aboriginal woman denied justice by Queensland’s Goss Labor Government - which Mr Rudd once was said to have run - had more than $120,000 in extraordinary damages tipped into her bank account.

Such sweet synchronism.

That step provided concrete vindication for those who have pressed the case of the Heiner Affair, the massive abuse of power blocking the carriage of justice against ex-members of Wayne Goss’s Cabinet and senior public servants who helped to illegally destroy documents, known to be wanted as evidence of unlawful treatment of state wards there.

The documents were assembled by ex-magistrate Noel Heiner in an inquiry into the operation of John Oxley juvenile detention centre and included reports of sexual attacks, among them the pack rape for which the Queensland Government has just awarded compensation.

The link between the Goss Cabinet’s wilful destruction of documents relating to the rape and Mr Rudd is simple. He was the Premier’s chief of staff when the Goss Cabinet ordered the documents shredded in 1990 and has since given contradictory statements about the matter.

In 2007, a bench of retired senior judges all wrote to then Queensland Premier Peter Beattie seeking appointment of an independent special prosecutor into the affair; and were rebuffed.

Last week, a second notice of concern was sent to Premier Anna Bligh by some of these ex-judges and a raft of senior law lecturers over the manner in which Queensland’s Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee acted in refusing to refer the claims for independent review.

Mr Rudd’s failure to provide an unambiguous statement on his knowledge of the documents’ destruction gave many observers one of the first clues to his personal character flaws.

That he could obfuscate, sideline inquiries and claim independent examinations that never existed revealed much about a man who drove himself to be PM.

Yet, as we have seen with the recent inquiry into the 2004 death of Mulrunji (Doomadgee) in police custody on Palm Island, it took nine investigations before evidence of a cover-up was finally revealed and police officers ordered to be disciplined.

An exhaustive audit by Sydney QC David Rofe shows that the Heiner Affair has never been properly investigated and its findings suggest that criminal offences may have have occurred covering a wider range of officials.

But Mr Rudd and others linked to the Goss Cabinet have avoided any independent investigation, such is Queensland’s lack of regard for natural justice.

In The Sunday Telegraph on October 14, 2007, I wrote: “My initial admiration for Rudd, the man, has diminished over the past nine months until I have the gravest concerns about his fitness to head a political party, let alone run this nation”.

Forgive me if this sounds like “I-told-you-so”, but I wrote that my concerns about his character related to “what I perceive to be an unalloyed ruthlessness, a lack of loyalty to anything but his short-term political ambitions and his projection of a carefully constructed image that has little or nothing to do with Rudd the man”.

“Everything he does, every word he utters, comes from a person who is totally absorbed in his mission to get ahead, no matter what the cost and no matter who has to be jettisoned in the process,” I wrote.

“Despite his claim to be a conservative Christian, the reality is that everything with Rudd is about power and when he is before an audience not enamoured of religion, he is happy to tailor his persona and step back a few paces from his ready avowals of faith....

“The list of excuses he has made for various blunders, from the phony Anzac Dawn Service he was to take part in with Channel 7’s Sunrise crew - an essential medium for the delivery of the hand-wrought Rudd image into Australian households - to his night on the tiles with New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, runs on and on.”

But it was his “consistent refusal to address grave concerns about the Heiner Affair, which bring so many question marks about his character together ... “.

I mentioned an ex gratia payment by Queensland’s government, in return for someone’s silence about activities around John Oxley juvenile detention centre, and said the “people should have sufficient knowledge to know he (Mr Rudd) is not fit to run the nation”.

Between a Queensland Labor Government anxious not to let light shine on Labor’s dark history and a media which actively promoted Mr Rudd’s candidacy for prime minister, the Australian people were denied, and are still being denied, the truth about the man who was their last leader.

Almost three years on, a majority of his ALP colleagues and the party’s power brokers have decided that the Australian people will no longer support Mr Rudd.

In that time, we have had more illegal boats arrive, we have had lethal pink batts placed in our roofs and we have seen billions of dollars squandered on a useless school building program.

What a lot of time that the nation has spent on this one flawed character.


South Australian hospitals "broke" too

Doctors, hospitals have no money for medical supplies. A similar story to NSW

DOCTORS cannot get basic medical supplies replaced because hospital budgets are running out, they say. The Australian Medical Association says this year is particularly bad, with spending restrictions affecting doctors' ability to do their jobs.

While the State Government insists equipment is provided as soon as possible, doctors say administrators are under pressure to save money - so they delay purchases. AMA state president Andrew Lavender said the situation created inefficiencies and adverse patient outcomes.

"It's always based on assumptions that are never practical," he said. "In most circumstances there isn't a specific budget allocated for equipment ... so we end up with a situation where because of the lack of a scope, for example, we're unable to deal with the number of patients that we were in the past."

Dr Lavender said it took a "huge amount of time" to organise repairs, because doctors had to ask bureaucrats to process the claims. He highlighted one example where Royal Adelaide Hospital doctors needed a flexible cystoscope (to investigate cysts), but the $10,000 price tag meant the request had to go to the regional chief executive.

University of Adelaide professor of surgery Guy Maddern said it could take up to 12 months for crucial equipment such as imaging equipment to be replaced. "We have really important pieces of equipment that have become broken or obsolete," he said. "We desperately need them and at the moment we're being told there's no replacement budget for the foreseeable future. "Every time a piece of equipment breaks we begin a six to 12-month process and even then we don't have a guarantee we'll get it."

SA Health chief executive Tony Sherbon said there was an $18 million budget for replacing and upgrading hospital equipment this financial year. "Out of this, over $2.2 million has been allocated at the RAH, including $70,000 for endoscopic equipment," Dr Sherbon said. "If there is an urgent need ... then it will always be provided as soon as possible."


Global cooling hits Sydney

There is such a lot of unusually cold weather worldwide that it is reasonable to call it global cooling

Sydneysiders have shivered through the city's coldest June morning since 1983 after the temperature dropped to 4.7 degrees just before 7.00am this morning.

Weatherzone meteorologist Martin Palmer said several Sydney suburbs had some of their coldest morning's in years, with the temperature dropping to -4 degrees in Richmond, their coolest June morning since records began back in 1995. The temperature dropped to -1.8 degrees in Campbelltown.

Mr Palmer said the cold morning's would continue to at least Thursday.

"Basically there is a big high pressure above us which for the next few days will keep things calm and still but it means very cold nights," he said.

"That will continue for the next few days, we will expect the coldest nights to be over by Thursday and we will have more clouds on the weekend which will keep temperatures up at night."


Learn how not to reason at the University of Western Australia

By Jo Nova

Tomorrow night the University of Western Australia (UWA) is hosting “Climate change scepticism under the spotlight”, where people who ought to know better are reverting to stone age reasoning. “Hail the Gods of Science!” The shame, the shame, it’s my old university.

Australian Professorial Fellow Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, from UWA’s School of Psychology, will discuss the perils of ignoring consensus in science…

The UWA School of Science ought to be grovelling embarrassed. Any scientific professorial fellow ought to warn about the dangers of ignoring the empirical evidence, or the perils of missing the whistleblowers who point out logical flaws.

Can we add that up?

Let’s follow the reasoning on consensus science. How do you weight the scoring system? Is one post-doc worth 3 honors students, or 5? Do we dilute citation-value according to the number of authors on each paper? Does a Nobel peace prize winner trump a class of undergraduates? Quick, we need a committee to figure it out. I can feel the need for a emergency formation of the Scientific-Authority-Demarkation-Institute. UN based of course.

I have written many times about how Lewandowsky uses Argument from Authority ad nauseum along with ad hominems, and lightly seasoned with Argument from Ignorance. (Picasso Brain Syndrome is probably my choice pick.)

I saw him speak at a similar venture in December, and he spent several minutes on a long rambling ad hom about John McLean. It’s worse than just being unbecoming. We should not tolerate this poor standard of reasoning in an undergraduate of science, let alone a teaching staff member.

The Witchdoctors have moved into the Faculty of Science (which is now BTW awkwardly known as Life and Physical Sciences).

Scientists one and all, it’s time we talk about the dangers of consensus. The Truth, whatever it is, does not lie with qualifications, committees, or unmeasurable “esteem”.

The big problem for us is, how do we reclaim the universities? Can we shame them into picking up their standards?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Good news about Julia for friends of Israel

The ousting of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by his deputy Julia Gillard was a dramatic event. A year ago Rudd was still highly popular but his abrupt policy reversal on global climate and the environment began a decline, which climaxed when he stunned the business world by abruptly imposing a tax on mining companies engaged in mineral and energy sales to China and India. The Australian Labor Party, which holds the reins of government, was undoubtedly strongly motivated by Rudd's plummeting standing in the polls which if sustained would probably result in a resounding defeat at the elections scheduled for next year.

The 120,000-strong Jewish community, which other than Israel has the highest proportion of Shoa survivors in the world, is recognized as one of the most Zionist communities in the Diaspora.

Jewish leaders have established a long tradition of strong public advocacy on behalf of Israel, and they can take much of the credit for the fact that successive governments have maintained a strong bi partisan support for Israel, with only one exception.

Rudd's predecessor, John Howard, who was Prime Minister for over 10 years, was regarded as one of Israel's greatest friends on the global scene and highly appreciated by the Jewish community.

The Rudd government initially maintained its support for Israel, but over recent months there were growing concerns that it was tilting the scales against Israel. The votes at the UN tended to increasingly identify with the Europeans, prompting the former Foreign Minister Downer to suggest that Rudd was distancing Australia from Israel in order to solicit Arab votes at the UN to support Australia's candidacy for the Security Council.

More recently, the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat in the wake of the passport imbroglio, distressed the Jewish community. On the other hand, if Israel was involved in this issue, many found it difficult to comprehend why they used Australian passports and ignored understandings previously made, thus embarrassing one of their best friends.

Only a few weeks ago Rudd met with the Australian Jewish leadership, who left reasonably satisfied that the relationship seemed to be back on track.

The Jewish community will certainly welcome the fact that that Julia Gillard will now be leading the country.

She is a long standing proven friend of Israel, having visited the country in 2005 and again last year in May. She headed a high level, 40 strong delegation of Australians who participated in an Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange mission, which took place at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

During the Gaza war in January 2009, when she was Acting Prime Minister, she strongly supported Israel's position, frequently making reference to Sderot which she had visited and stressed Israel's right to defend its civilian population from missile attacks.

The Jewish community will certainly welcome the fact that that she will now be leading the country, and will also be reassured that the long standing bi-partisan policy to Israel will be maintained.


False claim of Port Melbourne rape

Such a thing never happens, according to feminists. It Britain it seems to happen every other week

A WOMAN is facing charges of making a false complaint to police after claiming she was raped in Port Melbourne last month. The 22-year-old's story prompted a man-hunt for the alleged offender and a significant police investigation, costing thousands of dollars in time and resources.

On May 28, Victoria Police contacted the Sunday Herald Sun with the story in a bid to alert the public and appeal for help to find the alleged offender. When contacted on Friday by the Sunday Herald Sun, the woman, who is receiving counselling, said she was sorry for lying. "I haven't meant to upset anyone," she said.

The woman claimed she was still the victim of a sexual assault, which occurred "somewhere else".

Police from the Moorabbin sexual offences unit said the woman had made "full admissions" on Thursday night that she had lied to police. Detective Sgt Paul Toogood said a brief of evidence was being compiled to determine whether the woman would be charged with making a false report.

Sgt Toogood said the Port Melbourne community needed to be informed the rapist did not exist. "The offence reported on that date did not occur. There is no reason for the people of Port Melbourne to be apprehensive going about their business," he said.

The woman claimed she had been grabbed by the throat from behind and dragged into an alcove on the St Joseph's Church grounds on Rouse St, where she was raped between 8pm and 8.30pm on May 25.

Police said they hoped the false report would not discourage victims from coming forward for help. Detective Sen-Constable Mark Feehan said: "Victoria Police encourages all victims of sexual assault to come forward so police can provide support, investigate and prosecute offenders."

Centre Against Sexual Assault spokeswoman Carolyn Worth said false reports, while rare, were a "tricky issue". "It makes everybody slightly wary when there is a similar allegation, which we cannot afford," she said. "We've spent a long time trying to get people to take sexual assault seriously."


Another victim of ambulance delay in Victoria

A VICTORIAN family who had to switch off a mother and wife's life support says it has lost faith in the ambulance service and blames the Brumby Government for her death.

Beechworth grandmother Margaret Edwards suffered a stroke and died after ambulance service bungles, including delays getting her to hospital and going to the wrong home. Her family said long delays in treating her included a one hour and 17 minute wait for MICA services.

Mrs Edwards' husband, Eric, son Paul and daughter Meg have lodged a complaint with Ambulance Victoria, citing no confidence in the service.

Almost two months after the Sunday Herald Sun launched a campaign for action on severe delays, understaffing and a lack of MICA units, the Government has still to announce any improvements. But it's believed a major funding boost is being planned, particularly for rural emergency services.

Mr Edwards said his family's faith in the state's ambulance service had been shattered by the tragedy. "Every time I hear sirens and see ambulances I think to myself, 'Poor buggers, what's going to happen to them?'," he said. "We always thought that if anything happened we're provided for, but obviously we're not."

Mr Edwards called 000 when his wife collapsed on their bathroom floor at 6.21am in late January. Ambulance Victoria said a crew was treating her by 6.38am, left the house at 7.18am and met a MICA unit en route to the hospital at 7.38am.

But the family swore an ambulance did not arrive before 7am after it had placed another call for help and flagged down the crew after it went to the wrong house in the street.

Mr Edwards said paramedics then failed to ask for his wife's name or date of birth and left without the ambulance lights and sirens going. Five minutes later, paramedics returned after realising they had forgotten a medication list given to them by the family and their clip board containing details of the job.

Ms Edwards, who held her mother as they waited for the ambulance, described the ordeal as "a complete cock-up". "They were completely useless," Ms Edwards said. "They arrived with no lights and sirens and they left with no lights and sirens, like they were out on a Sunday drive."

Mrs Edwards' son pleaded with Premier John Brumby to act urgently on ambulance problems. "He needs to spend some more money on Ambulance Victoria and get more staff. It's just not good enough," he said. "If I had it over again I would have got her up into the car and taken her to the hospital myself."

In a letter to the Sunday Herald Sun, the family wrote: "As a family we believe the way our mother was treated was nothing short of appalling. Following this experience we no longer have confidence in the Victorian ambulance service. We hope nobody else has to go through the trauma we have just endured."

Ambulance Victoria spokesman James Howe said the first available crew was sent to Mrs Edwards' aid. "We understand the stress the family will be going through; we're happy to meet with them and explain the situation," he said. "But we stand by the figures. The response time was within our guidelines, the paramedics' response was prompt and they did everything they possibly could to assist this woman."

Mrs Edwards' death is the latest in a string of recent controversies to grip the ambulance service. This month, a 70-year-old woman died in Avoca after an ambulance - sent 55km from Ararat - took 34 minutes to arrive. A source said the Maryborough ambulance station, about 25km away, had two crews on duty at the time, but they were not dispatched.

In mid-April, a Bacchus Marsh woman, 37, suffered a severe asthma attack and died at home before paramedics arrived. A MICA crew took almost 45 minutes to attend, even though an intensive care officer is believed to have been available at Gisborne, 18 minutes away. The Melbourne communications team made no call to check.

State Government spokesman Michael Sinclair said Ambulance Victoria would contact the Edwards family. "Ambulance Victoria logs indicate paramedics were on scene quickly and did everything possible to care for the patient," he said.


Half of doctors banned or disciplined are foreign

What earthly reason is there why Australia cannot train its own doctors? Why do we have to import poorly-trained doctors from India and the Middle East? Why not fire a few of the army of health "administrators" and spend the money on more places in medical schools instead? Administrators never cured anyone of anything

HALF the doctors disciplined or banned for negligence in WA are trained overseas. But more foreign doctors will have to be recruited as the state's GP shortage nears crisis point.

Latest figures, compiled by the Primary Health Care Research and Information Service, show that in some parts of WA doctors are forced to care for more than 2000 patients each. Even in Perth the ratio of patients to doctors is well over the recommended benchmark of 1100 a GP.

More foreign doctors are needed, but an investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed 12 of the 25 doctors disciplined by the WA Medical Board since January 2009 obtained their primary medical degree overseas. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said 50 per cent of rural GPs were not locally trained - a figure that would only rise with the increasing doctor shortage. "At the moment, we would be beyond crisis if it wasn't for all the overseas-trained doctors working in rural areas," state chairman Peter Maguire said.

Australian Medical Association GP spokesman Steve Wilson said WA had been relying on overseas doctors for too long. He said approvals allowing them to work in WA had to become more robust.

"If overseas-trained doctors are over-represented in those people who end up before disciplinary hearings then we clearly need to sharpen things up," Dr Wilson said. "It's incumbent upon every medical practitioner to conduct themselves clinically, professionally and behaviourally in the highest manner."

Dr Maguire said the GP shortage was critical in rural WA. "There are a number of towns in the Wheatbelt that don't have a single doctor," he said. "People are expected to travel hundreds of kilometres to see a GP."

The WA Medical Board would not comment on its approval processes for overseas trained doctors.


Sunday, June 27, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unimpressed by the manner in which Australia acquired a new Prime Minister.

Julia won't act on climate without consensus

Which she knows she won't get. Clever: Makes her sound good to the ratbags but costs nothing

Labor failed to convince the public a carbon tax was necessary, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says. Ms Gillard said she was concerned about the government's proposed emissions trading scheme because community consensus had not been achieved.

Asked if she was behind the delay of the ETS because it was hurting Labor, Ms Gillard said she had concerns. "I was concerned that if you were going to do something as big to your economy as put a price on carbon, with the economic transfer that implies... you need a lasting and deep community consensus to do it," Ms Gillard told the Nine Network. "I don't believe we had that last and deep community consensus."

The prime minister said she believed Australia should have a price on carbon. "I will be prepared to argue for a price on carbon... so that we get that lasting and deep community consensus," she said. "But we are not there yet."

Ms Gillard said the government could take practical measures. "I believe in climate change. I believe it's caused by human activity and I believe we have an obligation to act," she said. "And I will be making some statements about some further things we can do to address the challenge of climate change as we work to that lasting and deep community consensus."


Send Pithouse to the shithouse

Corrupt Victoria again: A justice system that is unaccountable -- no matter how unsatisfactory its employees' behaviour may be

A Victorian magistrate refused a police application to protect the wife of a violent prisoner who was later stalked and attacked by the man. Richard Pithouse's conduct sparked two formal complaints to the state's Chief Magistrate, Ian Gray, in November, but it seems no action was taken.

According to the complaints, the magistrate refused to hear evidence including threats to bash and kill written by the jailbird.

Last week the Sunday Herald Sun revealed that Mr Pithouse refused to hear a sex assault victim's impact statement because he was late.

Mr Gray said he believed it was important victims had a voice in the justice system. "I am meeting with Mr Pithouse shortly and will counsel him accordingly," he said.

In October, Ballarat police applied for an intervention order against a man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, on behalf of his wife as his prison release date drew near. But Mr Pithouse refused the application without hearing any evidence, the complaint said.

A Ballarat welfare organisation later complained to Mr Gray after Mr Pithouse refused to hear evidence of the man's threatening letters. The complaint said the magistrate had bizarrely accused police of conducting a vendetta against the prisoner. Another formal complaint over the episode was made by detective Sgt Craig Dooley.

Prison letters sent by the man, but ignored by the court, included the threat "I'll kill her literally if she introduces guys to my wife". He also wrote "The ---ts have to be dealt with before I go out with a bang" and "I'm going to bash you with a cricket bat 100 per cent".

On release the man phoned his wife daily and threatened to burn down her grandmother's house. The harassment reached its peak on December 30 when he threatened her with a kitchen knife, a court later heard. A violent scuffle ensued in which the woman stabbed her attacker with the knife he was wielding - an offence for which she has been charged.

The woman had in the interim successfully obtained an intervention order against her husband by appearing before a different magistrate.

The man is on remand for breaching an intervention order and threatening a police officer with a razor blade.

Justice advocate Steve Medcraft slammed the Chief Magistrate's failure to act. "It seems it's an exclusive boy's club for magistrates," he said. The Justice Department would not say how many complaints had been made about Mr Pithouse.


Julia puts brakes on 'big Australia'

It might give ordinary Australians a break while governments catch up with all the roadbuilding and housing construction that is needed to cope with the big influx of migrants that we have already had in recent times.

Traffic congestion in all Australian big cities has got a lot worse in recent years because there are a lot more cars on the road now. We need a break while roadworks (more tunnels, bridges, freeways etc.) catch up -- which won't happen overnight

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is breaking free from one of her predecessor's main policy stances by announcing she is not interested in a "big Australia".

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was in favour of population growth, with his government predicting it to hit around 36 million by 2050, largely through immigration. But Ms Gillard has indicated she will be putting the brakes on immigration in order to develop a more sustainable nation.

"Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population," she told Fairfax. "I don't support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a 36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia. "I support a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our busses, our trains and our services can sustain."

But Ms Gillard says that does not mean putting a stop to immigration all together. "I don't want business to be held back because they couldn't find the right workers," she said. "That's why skilled migration is so important. But also I don't want areas of Australia with 25 per cent youth unemployment because there are no jobs," she said.

Mr Rudd installed Tony Burke as the Minister for Population, but in one of her first moves as Prime Minister, Ms Gillard has changed his job description to Minister for Sustainable Population. Mr Burke will continue to develop a national population strategy which is due to be released next year. Ms Gillard says the change sends a clear message about the new direction the Government is taking.

But an urban planning group is trying to convince Ms Gillard of the benefits of a big population. Urban Taskforce Australia chief executive Aaron Gadiel says a large population increases the tax base to fund improvements to infrastructure and welfare services. "We shouldn't be trying to fight it, what we should be trying to do is ensuring that we've got the investment and infrastructure that makes that process easier to manage," he said. "I think people should be focussing on how much state, federal and local governments have been investing in urban infrastructure to help absorb population growth."

A survey earlier in the year by the Lowy Institute found that almost three-quarters of Australians want to see the country's population grow, but not by too much. The Lowy Institute surveyed more than 1,000 people and found that while there was support for increased immigration, Australians were not quite prepared to embrace the Government's predicted 36 million. The poll showed 72 per cent of people supported a rise in Australia's population, but 69 per cent wanted it to remain below 30 million people.


Another political redhead is doing well

Pauline, Julia and now Marise

She's a 45-year-old Senator dating the youngest member of Parliament - but don't call her a cougar. Liberal senator Marise Payne says she is proud of her partner, Stuart Ayres, 29, for winning the state seat of Penrith with a record 25.5 per cent swing away from Labor. "It's just us. It's not an issue, it's who we are," Ms Payne said rolling her eyes, when asked about the cougar tag.

"I have worked in politics for a long time, I am used to the joys and the lesser moments," she said.

The couple, who have been dating for three years, worked together on his campaign to secure a Liberal stronghold in Western Sydney. The Penrith by-election was forced by the resignation of disgraced Labor MP Karyn Paluzzano, who admitted lying to ICAC over misusing staff entitlements.

"One of the first things I learned about Marise is she is a hard worker," Mr Ayres said. "I actually had no idea how old she was, it's never been an issue for me. "I saw her at a politics function and wanted to talk to her. I muscled up the courage, wandered across the room and that's how it started out."

And although there is no talk of marriage the couple live together at Leonay and are building a property in Mulgoa. "We are really looking forward to building our property but when the by-election came up we had to hit the pause button. Now we are very excited, I can't wait to get into taps and tiles and floors," Ms Payne said.

It took an accident in her early 20s to change Ms Payne's priorities and spark her interest in politics. "When you break your neck and recover you realise life is too short. I pursued my passion - politics," Ms Payne said.

Ms Payne trained as a lawyer at the University of NSW before going on to serve as a political adviser to the Liberal Party and has served in the Senate since 1997.


Court punishes the victim while the aggressor waltzes away

A grandmother taken to hospital after being assaulted by her son-in-law has been banned from seeing her grandchildren because a family court thinks she needs counselling. The woman, who cannot be named, has been limited to sporadic, 20-minute visits with the young boy and girl for the past 18 months despite reports showing how much the children adore her.

"The girl spent every opportunity possible hugging her grandmother," a social worker's report said. "There is little doubt the children were overjoyed to see her." The young boy and girl lived with their grandmother for years until an altercation where the grandmother was injured after being rammed by a truck driven by the children's father. He pleaded to assault charges and paid a fine.

The grandmother wasn't arrested, but said she felt she was held responsible because she was labelled as the instigator. The woman has a chance to see her grandchildren again, but only if she gets counselling. The son-in-law continues to have custody of the children, who have attended seven schools while in his care.

Documents show the children were performing better at school when they were living with their grandmother. A woman who has known the grandmother for 30 years said she was "a very caring person who has been badly done by".

The social worker's report showed the granddaughter was forced to control her weeping because her grandmother was under scrutiny during visits. "She told her grandmother she loved her and the grandmother reciprocated, and repeated the same words of affection," the report said.

The grandmother plans to attend the counselling to regain access to the children. "They lived with me day in and day out for years," she said. "There is nothing wrong with me. What's happened to me is what's wrong."


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Labor Party to show new flexibility on mining tax

JULIA GILLARD says dealing with the controversial mining tax will be her first concern as Prime Minister, and is leaving open the chance her government will back down over the proposed 40 per cent rate.

Ms Gillard used her first full day in the top job yesterday to introduce herself to world leaders, including the US President, Barack Obama, work on a strategy for talks with mining companies, and meet with her cabinet.

"My priority obviously is to ensure that we deal with the question of the mining tax," Ms Gillard said. "It has caused uncertainty, I think that uncertainty has caused anxiety for Australians."

Treasury officials had been inching towards an accommodation with the resources industry about parts of the tax. But negotiations will now be conducted on a more open footing after Ms Gillard and the Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, said all elements of the tax were on the table.

The government had previously insisted the 40 per cent tax level was not negotiable. However Mr Swan, who met with Ms Gillard and the Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, early yesterday, indicated the government had limited the range of its demands. "I'm not going to speculate publicly about the scope of those negotiations except to say that we are committed to a profits-based tax and to getting a fairer share of the value of our mineral resources," the Treasurer said.

Before her first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister, Ms Gillard insisted she was not beholden to the union and factional support that helped elevate her to the prime ministership. The demise of Kevin Rudd also did not mean that hard, unpopular reforms were no longer possible. "It is completely absurd for anybody to look at my track record in this place and to conclude anything other than that I have made my own decisions. I am a person of strong mind and I made my own decisions," she said. "It would be completely absurd to conclude that I am not prepared to stump up to hard reform."

As well as Mr Obama - to whom Ms Gillard apologised for not being able to attend the Group of 20 conference in Chicago - she also spoke to the leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia, Britain and Canada.

Ms Gillard will be based in Canberra in the coming days, rather than tour the country to strengthen her profile. "We need to get the government back on track. To do that we need to step-by-step take a series of decisions, and that is best done while I am here in Canberra," she said.

The former Labor leader Mark Latham warned that Ms Gillard could find herself victim to the same forces that helped install her as Prime Minister. "The modern Labor Party is so focused on polling, so focused on marketing … it has given up on getting these reforms through," Mr Latham said.


Miners resume hostilities over super tax

MINING critics of the super-profits tax have wasted little time in resuming their attack on it, which suggests the truce with Julia Gillard could be short-lived.

But as miners keep the pressure on the government, industry leaders also say they want to compromise with Ms Gillard. Two companies tipped to be among the big losers under the scheme - Rio Tinto and Macarthur Coal - took yet more shots at the tax yesterday while saying they were also hopeful about reaching a deal.

Macarthur's chairman, Keith De Lacy, dismissed consultation so far as "meaningless" and called on the government to remove revenue from the tax from its forward estimates. "It is not possible to negotiate in good faith with a big hairy monster like that looking over your shoulder," Mr De Lacy, a former Queensland treasurer, said. "Forward estimates should be the outcome of successful negotiations, not the starting point."

The Treasury has forecast that the tax would raise $12 billion in its first two years. Mr De Lacy said this assumption undermined the negotiations. If the government changed its estimates, he said the mining industry would be "fair dinkum" [genuine] in negotiating a policy that provided a "fair return" for Australians from natural resources.

The head of Rio Tinto's iron ore operations, Sam Walsh, said he hoped the stoush [fight] would be resolved before the election. "I'm very hopeful that with the recent changes in the structure of the government we can actually get in and engage and negotiate an arrangement," he said in Perth. But Mr Walsh also proclaimed the initial proposal "dead," and said he was "very frustrated" with the government's approach until now.

Owen Hegarty, the former managing director of Oxiana who is now vice chairman of the Chinese group CST, said Ms Gillard's actions had been "swift and positive" so far. "The simple fact that the 'negotiation' olive branch was offered in the earliest of paragraphs of the new leader's speech gives a clue, not only to the RSPT's deadly political potence, but to her determination to resolve it," Mr Hegarty said.

But market analysts doubt that the government and the miners will reach an agreement on the tax before the election. The head of resources at Fat Prophets, Nick Raffan, said the government appeared to be relying on the tax to bring the budget into surplus early, and they would be reluctant to make changes demanded by miners.

He said the most likely source of compromise would be a rise in the rate at which the super profit tax kicks in - 6 per cent under the current proposal. "The best outcome is probably a change in the threshold," Mr Raffan said. "I would think something north of 11 per 12 per cent would be more in the ball park."

A resource analyst at MineLife, Gavin Wendt, said he believed the government's pledge to negotiate with the mining industry was "electioneering," a view shared by many investors. "I am yet to be convinced that we are going to see any softening in the government's stance."


Turn off cash tap from the wasteful "Building the Education Revolution" program, say senators

THE future release of billions of dollars from the Building the Education Revolution program should be suspended until a taskforce investigation presents its findings, an interim Senate report recommends.

The Liberal-majority committee called for the suspension of payments until the taskforce's chairman, Brad Orgill, releases his initial findings on 100 schools in August.

The government had planned to sign off in July on the remaining 40 per cent of primary school building spending - about $5.5 billion. The government is already holding back $75 million in payments to seven master contractors while claims of waste in NSW school projects are being investigated.

The committee also believes Mr Orgill needs to be given greater powers to access all costings and relevant contracts to identify waste in the $16.2 billion program.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, was unavailable for comment.

Evidence given to the hearing from NSW presented contradictory views on the stimulus program.

The NSW Teachers Federation gave evidence to the committee that there would be less than $10 billion in actual value from the $16 billion allocated under the scheme.

A teachers federation research officer, Dr Mary Fogarty, said there was evidence of management fees of up to 30 per cent. In most projects cited, management fees were upwards of 13 to 15 per cent.


Global cooling hits Australia again

Warmists always say that hot weather proves global warming so ....

PERTH shivered through the coldest June night for four years and one of the coldest nights on record, with the temperature plunging to 0.1C. The city was at its coldest at 7.07am, when most people were climbing out of warm beds to head to work, with the temperature hitting a near-freezing 0.1C. It was equal fourth coldest night for Perth since records began at the Mt Lawley Bureau site.

Jandakot Airport recorded the coldest metropolitan area temperature, reaching -2C at 7.44am, but that was well short of the -3.4 on in June 2006. Perth Airport recorded 0.3C and Pearce RAAF base reached a minimum of -0.4C at 6.09am. Dwellingup, 97km south of Perth, also recorded -2C.

This morning was the coldest for June in Perth since 0.9 °C was recorded on June 18, 2006. Perth Metro's coldest night ever was -0.7 C on June 17, 2006. And it won't feel much warmer tonight, with a minimum of 2C forecast for Saturday morning.

The coldest ever night in June in Western Australia was -6C at Collie on June 17, 2006.

Light winds and clear skies plunged temperatures over much of the state, with Norseman in the Goldfields recording the state's lowest - a finger-numbing -4.7C.


Friday, June 25, 2010

A saner PM, it seems

Some cautious applause for the new policies of the new PM (see below) -- but you can't win 'em all and the pledge to revive Warmist laws is dumb. As a minister she was good on rebuffing thug unions and held the line on education reform but she was also in charge of the distrous "BER" school spending

She has never married and has no children, though she does have a male hairdresser as a partner (!). The rough makeup below does not reflect very feminine priorites, it seems to me. I cannot help comparing her life with the close family life of Margaret Thatcher

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott's days of friendly sparring on morning television are over as the Opposition gears up to attack her central role in the failed government programs that led to the demise of Kevin Rudd's leadership.

Australia's first female prime minister yesterday made immediate pledges to wind back the mining super-profits tax, review asylum seeker laws and continue campaigning on climate change.

She "absolutely" ruled out hanging on for the full term before going to the people, and said an election would definitely be held this year.

Her decision to halt the Government's $38 million advertising campaign promoting the mining tax has delivered a partial truce with the mining industry, which has also stopped its ads.

Ms Gillard declared she was "full of understanding" for voters who wanted tougher border protection to keep out asylum seekers, and said she would renew the pursuit of the Emissions Trading Scheme after the federal election.

However, the Opposition greeted the new Prime Minster with derision. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said: "It's clear that if you want to change the policies you're going to have to change the Government. They've changed the salesman but they haven't changed the product."

With an election just months away - and hoping to blunt any political honeymoon for the new Prime Minister - Mr Abbott is hoping to target Ms Gillard's central role in the Building the Education Revolution scheme. He accused her of being principal author, along with Mr Rudd, of the "school hall rip-offs".

Senior Opposition figures said Ms Gillard would be attacked for her central role in government programs, including the insulation debacle and the flood of boat people during the past 12 months.

Yesterday, Ms Gillard admitted she was as much responsible for mistakes made by the Government as the man she toppled. "I take my fair share of responsibility for the Rudd Government's record, for our important achievements and for errors made," she said. "I know the Rudd Government did not do all it said it would do. And at times it went off track."

The new PM is expected to gain an immediate bounce in the poll as she was popular with voters even before ousting Mr Rudd from the top job.

Australia's new prime minister is also certain to boost the ALP vote with women...

Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott appeared in a segment on Channel 9's Today and were joked about as a Punch and Judy show.

With plenty of smiles, jokes and even a bit of flirting, the pair entertained morning television viewers in much the same way Mr Rudd and Joe Hockey did on Sunrise in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election.


The big ego that was Kevin Rudd

A classic Leftist. Comments below excerpted from Andrew Bolt

Blame the early loss of his father, or just his wiring, but Rudd has had a manic need to assert himself, as if to make up for a deep insecurity. He'd do whatever was needed to win authority over others, or just praise. He'd be whatever you wanted him to be.

And so he'd tell me one pleasing thing in private, but another populist thing in public. He'd hold press conferences outside his church to impress conservatives, but visit a strip club to impress an editor. He'd talk primly to voters, but abuse a stewardess.

To win the election, he promised to be a Howard-lite, crying: "This sort of reckless spending must stop." To win applause, he embarked on the greatest spending spree we've seen.

And he had to be The Man. As chief of staff to the Queensland premier, or as prime minister visiting an office, he'd show his place in the pecking order by putting his boots on the desk or table.

None of this need matter. But Rudd gave in to the same deep insecurities in trying to run a team of ministers. He had to decide everything, so delays were endless. Most ministers other than Treasurer Wayne Swan, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard were cut out of the loop.

Rudd chose as his most intimate advisers, mostly people barely 30, eminently bully-able, and he ordered his MPs to visit homeless shelters and report back, as if they were children doing homework.

But when he tried his hectoring on the premiers over his health "reforms", he bought a brawl. And when he repeated the dose on our biggest mining chiefs, he bought a war he could not win.

Those insecurities killed him in the end. His fatal confrontation with Gillard was prompted in part by his refusal to believe she was as loyal as she professed. To check she was not plotting, he sent a 31-year-old aide to ring his MPs, and this last insult fuelled a bushfire.

Yet Rudd could have been saved, if voters had now not seen through him. For almost three years he has had stratospheric approval ratings. He was rated highly for trustworthiness and vision, and seemed to have a plan, and to be meticulous in implementing it.

His fall started when his grandiose schemes started to fail - and none more badly that his "free insulation" disaster.

How could this man who seemed so diligent bungle one thing after another? But the public smelled fraud only when Rudd was this year forced to drop one more overblown, oversold plan - the emissions trading scheme that he'd promised to tackle, "the great moral challenge of our time". Now it seemed to many that Rudd had tricked them. He was a fake.

Even yesterday, in his moving farewell speech, Rudd showed how much of his achievements were just cardboard scenery. He listed the targets he'd set for tackling homelessness and Aboriginal poverty - targets he wasn't actually meeting. He cited his apology to the "Stolen Generations" - people no one can find. He praised his signing of the Kyoto Accord - which led to what? He mentioned his health reform - which hasn't even been settled.

But in standing there crying, Rudd showed at last the wounded man he was. He was as humble as it would have suited him to have been from the start.


Julia Gillard 'miles ahead' of Kevin Rudd in polls

This was written just before the spill and helps explain it

LABOR party polling shows Julia Gillard is "miles ahead'' of Kevin Rudd as preferred leader. Senior ALP figures said Mr Rudd's rating amongst voters has plummeted as his deputy's standing continues to soar.

The internal polling has been done across the key marginal seats that Labor will need to hold in the next federal election. Sources within the party said things are looking "catastrophic'' for the Prime Minister.

"Julia's numbers continue to be miles ahead of Kevin's,'' a Labor source said. "Voters are turning off Kevin in a very personal way, not just on the issues.''

Mr Rudd is said to have fallen dramatically in the net approval ratings, something which caused an outbreak of concern within his party.

A Galaxy Poll published last month showed that Ms Gillard was rapidly closing the gap between herself and Mr Rudd as preferred Labor leader. The research showed that dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister had reached a new high of 51 per cent, while just five percentage points separated him from Ms Gillard as preferred leader of the party (45-40).

"Julia's (internal) figures are stratospheric,'' the source said. "Kevin has been continually going down but for Julia it has been the complete opposite.''


More Victoria police corruption

Coverup of police lies by the very body that is supposed to enforce integrity

A REGIONAL policeman has battled for more than two years to bring a complaint against the Office of Police Integrity. The policeman has been given no proper explanation as to why his allegations against the police watchdog will not be investigated further.

Despite the Victorian Ombudsman describing as "inadequate" the OPI's recording of interviews, the police union says three oversight agencies have failed to resolve the complaint. In its submission to the Proust review, which this month recommended an overhaul of the state's anti-corruption regime, the police association used the case to illustrate the procedural failings and lack of oversight of the OPI.

Sergeant Carl Bolton of Colac was the subject of an OPI investigation in 2006, after allegedly assaulting a man he arrested for public drunkenness. He was acquitted of assault by Melbourne magistrate Maurice Gurvich in 2008, and the Director of Police Integrity was ordered to pay costs.

Sergeant Bolton, who remains a Colac police officer, has subsequently fought to have the conduct of the OPI officers who investigated him scrutinised. He has alleged, in documents seen by The Australian, that OPI investigators acted inappropriately and potentially criminally by failing to disclose important evidence to his defence team.

A spokesman for the OPI yesterday said Sergeant Bolton's allegations, as detailed in his letter to the Victorian Ombudsman, "have no substance whatsoever".

On September 20, 2006, four OPI officers arrived in Colac, setting up a base in the local CFA fire house, to interview witnesses. They were responding to a complaint by a Colac local, who when arrested by Sergeant Bolton and his partner earlier that year, had given his name as Humphrey Bear and his address as Mars.

When the matter went to court in 2008, the OPI senior investigator in the case, Holly Buckle, gave sworn evidence the witness interviews were not tape recorded. After hearing three witnesses give evidence under oath that they believed their interviews were taped, Ms Buckle took to the witness box two days later and said: "There's a very strong possibility our interview was recorded." Under cross-examination Ms Buckle denied she gave evidence she knew was a "blatant untruth" and told the court she believed no recording was made.

After his acquittal, Sergeant Bolton wrote to the Special Investigations Monitor, the body charged with oversight of the OPI whose effectiveness was recently questioned by senior bureaucrat Elizabeth Proust in her review.

In the letter, dated June 20, 2008, Sergeant Bolton accused the OPI officers of "conspir(ing) with one another to destroy critical evidence". He requested the SIM investigate whether OPI officers had committed perjury, misconduct or had attempted to pervert the course of justice. The then SIM head, David Jones, responded to Sergeant Bolton saying his office did not have the authority to investigate the complaint and it would be passed to the Ombudsman.

In November 2008, Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor wrote to Sergeant Bolton informing him his office had discovered four digital recordings of witness interviews, including two interviews with the complainant -- the material Sergeant Bolton's defence counsel sought under subpoena. Mr Taylor said: "While I consider the OPI's processes at the time were inadequate, I am also of the view that OPI officers acted responsibly and did nothing contrary to the policies in place at the time." But the Deputy Ombudsman said his office could not provide legal advice or conduct criminal proceedings.

A spokesman for the OPI said the digital recordings were filed in a directory that was archived after another OPI employee moved to another department. Ms Buckle is believed not to have been present at the interviews that were later found to have been recorded.

It is understood that Sergeant Bolton, who has not spoken to The Australian, was not satisfied with this explanation and wrote to then chief commissioner Christine Nixon to request an investigation into his allegations that the OPI officers had acted criminally.

A spokesperson for Victoria Police yesterday confirmed that independent legal advice was sought about the matter. "The return advice indicated there is no basis for concluding that the OPI investigators have committed any criminal offences. Accordingly, there is no proposal to have the matter investigated by the Ethical Standards Department, they said.

Police association secretary Greg Davies, whose union funded Sergeant Bolton's defence, said the case highlighted the lack of oversight of the police watchdog. "Sergeant Bolton's concerns should have had a mechanism to be dealt with fairly and taken to their logical conclusion, rather than him receiving a short letter that had a 'Just go away boy' tone to it," Mr Davies said. "The Ombudsman's office is an entirely inappropriate body to deal with complaints about the OPI, and the SIM is basically a toothless tiger."


Thursday, June 24, 2010

How the mighty are fallen: Less than 3 years from rooster to feather duster

After the report below was filed, it emerged that Kevvy had stepped aside and the redhead is now PM. This was a pretty desperate throw as the Federal Labor party has to be badly damaged by it. Few people in the party liked Kevvy. It was only his ability to con the electorate that put him in the job and kept him there. Gillard has turned out much better from a conservative viewpoint than anyone expected so her challenge could return the Labor party to the sort of pragmatism we saw in the Hawke era. I am a bit biased in favour of redheads so I wish her well! Background on the precipitous fall of Rudd here

KEVIN Rudd this morning looks certain to lose his prime ministership in a caucus ballot after he and Julia Gillard last night spent a desperate 2.5 hours in failed talks.

Sky News reports Deputy Prime Minister Ms Gillard was tipped to take up to 70 of the 112 Caucus votes, and that Treasurer Wayne Swan has reportedly backed her for today's leadership ballot (9am AEST). Sky News believes Ms Gillard should win the vote on the reported numbers. Mr Swan is likely to become Deputy Prime Minister.

Key Labor powerbrokers yesterday moved on Mr Rudd, telling Ms Gillard she had the numbers to win. But Mr Rudd made it clear he would not step aside and that his enemies would have to force him out.

The final straw for Ms Gillard came early yesterday. Angered by a morning newspaper report leaked from the Prime Minister's office, questioning her loyalty to Mr Rudd, she called senior powerbroker and fellow Victorian MP Bill Shorten. She wanted to know what to do.

"It p***ed everyone in the caucus off," a New South Wales senior factional leader said. "And it p***ed her off, too. She has been nothing but loyal. And to have that happen was not only stupid but unwarranted."

By late afternoon, Mr Shorten, fellow Victorian Senator David Feeney, NSW MP Tony Burke and South Australian right wing factional leader Don Farrell went to see Ms Gillard in her office. They had been conspiring for the past week and they wanted her to challenge. "I'll consider it," she said. The dice was rolled.

A grim-faced Ms Gillard later confirmed she would stand in the leadership contest as she left Parliament House after telling the Prime Minister she had the numbers to oust him. "I will be a candidate in tomorrow's ballot," Ms Gillard told reporters. If she loses today she would be expected to quit as a minister and go to the backbench.

After the meeting with Ms Gillard, Mr Rudd called a press conference in which he slammed faction leaders, saying voters and not factions had made him Prime Minister, and vowed to fight for his job.


Political correctness kept a disastrous incompetent in her crucial job

Victoria police descended into new lows of incompetence and corruption during her non-leadeship of it

KEY members of the Victorian government were deeply unhappy with the performance of then police chief Christine Nixon in 2007. This led to speculation on her possible early departure from the job.

Secretly taped telephone intercepts by the Office of Police Integrity contradict the Brumby government's public claims that Ms Nixon always had its full backing during the turbulent period when links were being uncovered between corrupt police and the gangland wars.

This week in parliament, Premier John Brumby was forced to reiterate his support for Ms Nixon during her time as chief commissioner. He also denied his government had received Operation Briars phone-tap material during wage negotiations with the police union. Operation Briars was investigating possible police involvement in a murder.

The OPI's own summaries of telephone intercepts from numerous calls made by former assistant commissioner Noel Ashby between June and October 2007 - which have never been publicly disclosed - reveal Tim Pallas, the Roads and Ports Minister and a former senior adviser to former premier Steve Bracks, was unhappy with Ms Nixon's performance.

They also show that the office of Police Minister Bob Cameron was dismayed by Ms Nixon's handling of enterprise bargaining negotiations with the union.

The OPI summary of a call between Mr Ashby and Mr Pallas on July 31, 2007, only days after Mr Bracks resigned as premier, states that the two men: "Discuss implications of Bracks' resignation and portfolio change. "NA (Ashby) enquires as to if Bob Cameron will be moving. NA states that CCP (chief commissioner of police Nixon) will have to step up to the plate. "Pallas states that he will believe it when he sees (it)."

In another call, on June 29, former police media director Steve Linnell and Mr Ashby discuss Mr Pallas's view on Ms Nixon. "NA informs Linnell on his most recent conversation with Tim Pallas," the OPI states.

"The following developments were repeated to Linnell - the CCP (Nixon) is likely going in the next 12 months. "NA says things are not good between government and VicPol because of the CCP. "Linnell says there will be industrial issues because of the CCP. "NA says he has inferred that and Bracks is aware of that.

"Pallas has said to NA that there are risks, she will not be there at the next election but they cannot shorten her contract. She'll go next year if she goes out on a high and if (police union chief Paul) Mullett lays off."

That same day, Mr Ashby tells then assistant commissioner Leigh Gassner Mr Pallas had told him - in the words of the OPI summary - "the government won't run with CCP much longer".

These private opinions were at odds with the government's public support for Ms Nixon, with Mr Brumby declaring on April 9, 2008: "In terms of the chief commissioner, I've said it before and I'll say it again, she enjoys the full confidence of me and the government."


A badly troubled public hospital system in S. Aust.

REPORTS of violence, infections, falls, and medication mistakes affecting public hospital patients increased last year.

Health Minister John Hill tabled the SA Patient Safety Report 2008-09 in Parliament yesterday, which shows the number of reported incidents rose from 22,522 in 2006-07, to 26,094 in 2007-08, and 29,056 last year.

It shows the "sentinel" or most serious events included:

SIX hospital inpatient suicides.

SEVEN instruments left in patients after surgery.

TWO maternal deaths.

More than 7000 patients fell over; nine of them died after falling and 23 of them suffered serious injuries.

About 5900 medication mistakes included 660 overdoses, and about 1750 medication omissions. The number of healthcare-associated infection incidents more than doubled to 167.

The report's introduction says errors are a "normal human condition", that most "did not cause significant harm", and highlights that the increase is in reported numbers, which shows the robustness of the department's safety culture.

Mr Hill said reporting such incidents was important because staff can learn from mistakes and refine procedures. SA Health chief public health officer Dr Stephen Christley said the department had an "excellent safety culture".

"Extensive work has been, and continues to be, conducted across SA Health to address the state and national patient safety priorities," he said.

"This includes improving patient identification procedures, programs to improve team work and new initiatives to help prevent healthcare associated infections."

Opposition health spokesman Duncan McFetridge said a "ballooning layer of bureaucrats" and "years of under-resourcing" of the system had led to a "skyrocketing number of patient safety incidents".

"Minister John Hill has overseen the SA public health system as it crumbles while the Rann Government pours funds into the ballooning budget for the railyards hospital - patients' health and safety is compromised while in SA public hospitals," he said.


Incurable NSW public hospital system

HOSPITALS in NSW have performed 2304 fewer elective operations than last year despite an injection of $122 million over four years in federal funds to cut waiting lists, a leaked report shows.

The monthly Surgical Services Taskforce report also reveals that more than 2000 patients have waited longer for operations than the recommended time set by their doctors.

The proportion of elective procedures cancelled on the day of surgery has risen to 4.3 per cent, more than double NSW Health's benchmark of 2 per cent.

In May the Sydney West Area Health Service, which includes Westmead and Nepean hospitals, cancelled 5.1 per cent of planned procedures. Between July last year and March, it performed 2304 fewer surgeries - the same figure as the total for all NSW hospitals.

Figures for the remaining seven area health services and the Children's Hospital at Westmead cancel one another: Sydney South West and Eastern Sydney/Illawarra have each performed about 500 more surgeries than last year.

The Health Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, said Sydney West had been given $6.5 million more to increase operations and reduce surgery waiting times.

She acknowledged the frustration of patients who have often rearranged their lives, been "prepped" for theatre and then been told their surgery was not going ahead.

"That is unfortunate and we would always prefer not to have to do that, but it is, from time to time, an essential fact when we are running a very busy health system and we have to respond to the most urgent cases first."

On-the-day cancellations are usually due to a lack of theatre time or post-operative beds, a change in the patient's condition or the patient pulling out.

The opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said she had been told of four patients who had been cancelled 14 times, including a 63-year-old man who is still waiting for a heart valve replacement after five bookings.

A record 67,478 patients were awaiting non-urgent surgery at the end of March, a 7 per cent increase on the same time last year and almost 15 per cent more than in March 2008.

Ms Tebbutt said 2874 more operations were completed in the first three months of this year than in the same quarter last year. She pointed to Commonwealth data this week that showed NSW patients received elective surgery within clinically recommended time frames more than in any other state.

"There is no doubt that planned surgery poses huge challenges for our health system but we are responding to that with increased investment, a focus on patients waiting longer times and our predictable surgery program."


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

That good ol' socialist "planning" again

No books, no staff in Kevin Rudd's new libraries

SCHOOL libraries built under Kevin Rudd's controversial stimulus program have no new books on their shelves and no staff to run them.

Librarians have panned the Rudd Government for spending billions on new library buildings but not a cent on resources or staff training. Queensland teacher-librarians have warned Education Minister Julia Gillard that better buildings won't equal improved learning without resources and staff.

The Rudd Government has spent more than $3.9 billion on 3400 library projects under its Building the Education Revolution program, including $1 billion on 1200 Queensland libraries. The cash was only for construction or fit-out, not "non-portable" items like books.

Submissions to a federal inquiry into school libraries and teacher-librarians reveal frustration over chronically underfunded libraries and a lack of consultation on building projects.

The School Library Association of Queensland welcomed the cash injection but said "many facilities do not meet student or school needs" because schools weren't given a say in their design.

Gold Coast librarians said follow-up funding for librarians and resources was crucial. "Members of the Gold Coast branch of School Libraries Association of Queensland have visited new libraries funded by the BER, with state-of-the-art technology and inviting learning spaces, but they have minimum books on the shelves," its submission said.

The Sunshine Coast Teacher-Librarians Network was disappointed there was no cash for resources leaving "ageing collections that are no longer functional for students in the information age".

A spokesman for Ms Gillard said State Governments were responsible for funding library staff and books. "While the Government provides funding for schools, the day-to-day management of schools and allocation of staff, including teacher-librarians, is the responsibility of the government and non-government education authorities in each state and territory," he said.

In its submission, the Queensland Catholic Education Commission warned "improved buildings will not translate into improvements in library services and learning outcomes" without adequate resourcing.

A survey by the Children's Book Council of Australia found the average school library budget was just $25 per student. Many school library budgets fell below 1975 funding levels, the survey found.


Mother of slain Melbourne teenager slams police agency

Victoria's OPI seems to be a twin of the old Queensland Police Complaints Tribunal, commonly known as The Police Whitewash Tribunal. Queensland improved on that decades ago. Not so Victoria

THE independence of the Office of Police Integrity has been challenged by the mother of a teenager shot dead by police 18 months ago.

Shani Cassidy, mother of Tyler Cassidy, who was shot dead by police in December 2008 in circumstances his family believes were preventable, told the OPI and state government that an independent body needed to be established to investigate police shootings.

"An independent body needs to be set up to independently investigate police deaths in custody and see whether the police action was justified," she said in a submission to an OPI inquiry into deaths associated with police contact.

"The police have been able to control Tyler's investigation by choosing whom to get statements from and hone their questioning to suit their stance. We demand change because the system does not work at the moment."

Ms Cassidy told The Australian yesterday the OPI had instructed the family that it did not have the resources to probe the shooting, in which police fired 10 bullets, six of which hit the 15-year-old.

Police said that they opened fire on the teenager, who was armed with two knives. Ms Cassidy, who said her son was "in crisis", contacted police 30 minutes before the fatal shooting to say Tyler had left the house in a distressed state.

"The OPI has just stood back and let the police run the investigation," she said. "From the minute that Tyler was killed, everything was cordoned and contained by the same people that killed Tyler." Ms Cassidy and her partner, Greg Taylor, said a 1700-page police brief to the coroner, which has still not been completed, was "biased and amateurish" and "just tells their side of the story".

They said 700 pages of the brief concerned Tyler's school and medical records for the five years leading up to his killing.

The police probe into the shooting, including an inability to locate all the bullets fired on the night, was grossly inadequate, potentially crucial evidence had not been handed to their lawyers, and they feared the inquest would be handicapped by the police "buddy syndrome".

"I just want a fair go for Tyler," Ms Cassidy said. "He was a 15-year-old boy. They should have stood back. They didn't have to put six bullets into him."

Ms Cassidy's submission to the OPI inquiry has been made through the Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre, which says the failures of police investigating their own is a "consistent . . . theme".

Tamar Hopkins, principal solicitor at the centre, told The Australian the state government's proposed Victorian Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission would leave a failed system intact, with the OPI left untouched.

"This was a generational opportunity squandered, leaving the police as unaccountable as they ever were," she said.

A spokesman for the OPI, Paul Conroy, confirmed last night that the OPI had been in contact with Tyler Cassidy's family and advised them "that it is not feasible to conduct a parallel investigation duplicating the homicide squad's preparation of a brief for the coroner unless there is some demonstrated need".


Confirmation that top Victoria police refused to prosecute a prominent footballer despite a strong brief

And Victoria's Office of Police Whitewashing has finally decided to look into it. It took exposure of the matter on a TV program to get even that semblance of action, however

RAPE charges against Saints star Stephen Milne were dropped partly because they would cost too much if the case failed, a former detective has claimed. Mike Smith backed allegations made by his co-investigator, Scott Gladman, that other police had tried to derail their investigation.

No charges were laid against Milne or teammate Leigh Montagna over a woman's claims that she was raped at Montagna's home. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

The Office of Police Integrity yesterday announced an inquiry into Mr Gladman's claims.

Last night, Mr Smith told Nine News that money was one of the reasons they were given for the decision not to go ahead with the case. He said it was suggested that because Milne and teammate Montagna could afford top lawyers, "it would cost the department a lot of money" if the prosecution were unsuccessful. "We thought we'd done a great job," he said of the investigation. "We couldn't do a better brief of evidence if we tried."

He said the news that his superior officer and the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided not to prosecute was a turning point in his career. "That one investigation shattered it for me," he said.

The mother of the alleged victim said the family was bitterly disappointed with the decision six years ago, but had finally managed to get their lives back together. "Detective Gladman's bravery and honesty may bring about an end to it once and for all. He's always shown integrity over the matter," she said.

Mr Smith said he had urged the family to make a formal complaint after constant leaks of information, including media being alerted within 15 minutes of the alleged victim going to police.


Revolt against Rudd will be ugly

The image of Australia as a nice place for relaxed politicians is going to be on hold for a while. PM Rudd is in big trouble, and the sound of knives is being heard throughout the land. A leadership revolt is in the air, and whatever happens, it’s not going to be pretty.

Elected in 2007 with a huge win, Rudd is nobody’s idea of a fool. He survived the murderous Labor competition to become leader, too, which is about as much fun as swimming the Pacific inside a shark. With great energy, he swung into major reforms, and got a reputation for being a hard boss. So far, so good.

Then, this year, the wheels fell off, all of them. In the greatest reversal of political profile and positions since Ben Chifley sent in troops against the miner’s strike, everything collapsed.

1. The Emissions Trading Scheme, a pillar of election promises, and no small amount of grandstanding about environmental credentials, went up in smoke.

2. The Home Insulation Scheme, another environmental initiative, was bungled, resulting in several deaths, and a major investigation into widespread fraud.

3. The 40% super tax on mining produced a ferocious response from the mining industry, which even left the Liberal Opposition in their wake in terms of attacking the government.

The result of all these merry misadventures is that Labor now has a primary vote of 35%, the lowest in decades. Labor's credibility has been maimed, severely. Rudd’s own popularity is now historic, in that many people now want him to be history. These setbacks have appalled the Labor Party, so much so that the convention of saying nothing negative about policy has vanished.

For those who don’t know, the Labor Party in crisis is about as squeamish as a chainsaw mass murderer trying for a personal best score. It has a left and right wing, both of which not very cordially loathe each other on occasion. Power brokers in the Labor Party aren’t known for their collection of Nobel Peace Prizes, either.

The choices of alternative leader are easy enough: Deputy PM Julia Gillard, or Deputy PM Julia Gillard, or perhaps even Deputy PM Julia Gillard. There isn’t anyone else, and everybody else is very strongly on the nose with the public at the moment. Treasurer Wayne Swann, heavily identified with the mining tax, will have to fall on his sword, or someone will help him fall on it.

That’s not all bad news for Labor. Gillard has done the almost impossible already, getting genuine respect as a hard case in Canberra. Her political technique is excellent, and not much gets past her in media presentations. If Gillard becomes the next PM, Labor can at least be sure it’s not getting a dud.

The real bad news for Labor is an unwholesome déjà vu. This is the second time in so many years that an Australian political leader has been hanged by a high profile issue, and left swinging in the breeze by his party. The other was former Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull, also hung out to dry in an absurd, indefensible position.

Coincidence, or have Australia’s political scientists been doing more than watching reruns of Lost?

What’s a surprise in this case is that Rudd, who’s an ex-diplomat, and knows the game, has been left holding so many babies. Politicians don’t need to go looking for problems, and he would know that. Politicians, in fact, are often donated problems by their friends and advisors.

As a load of unsaleable garbage, the mining tax would take the cake as a prime example. Australians don’t lie awake at night hoping for a new tax. Particularly not at 40%. None of the usual precautions against a suicidal policy seem to have been taken in this case. There was no sounding out, no obvious sign of policy evaluation. That’s extremely suspicious. It's like a doctor not doing a diagnosis before an operation. It's not supposed to happen.

For the Labor Party to be genuinely that careless is a real concern. It’s not really too probable, because this is only a first term, and first termers tend to be more cautious. For it to provide a short pier for someone to take a long walk is much more likely. Like Turnbull, Rudd has found himself without support, and in mid air with an impossible issue.

Wile E Coyote had much the same problem, but he was syndicated. The question is, has Australian politics entered a new, virile, even more mediocre stage? Can we now elect people who can be removed at will by any tedious little maggot in a position to make policy? Or is this Canberra at its unhygienic best, a septic little country town full of no-hoper political time servers with nothing better to do than make Australia look like an idiot factory?

I ask because one thing is becoming obvious. Rudd and Turnbull both have one thing in common. They put in a lot of work. These nutcase slapdash policy approaches were obviously created by people who do very little work of any kind. Responsibility for errors of judgment or political naiveté is personal, but policy responsibilities are everyone’s business in politics.