Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New conservative Victorian Premier pledges no change!

In his first press conference as Victorian premier Ted Baillieu says that under his government "what you will see is what you will get". "We will treat families with compassion and dignity," he said.

Labor leader John Brumby conceded defeat late Monday following Saturday's tightly fought state election.

"There will be no hidden agenda, no spin, no secrecy. Accountability and transparency will the principles that underpin our government," Mr Baillieu said on Tuesday. "What you will see is what you will get." "We know that Victorians have given us a mandate to make change, a mandate for reform and we will be getting on with that task.

"But we also understand that Victorian families want to know what affects their daily lives because Victorian families are really best placed to make judgments about what's in their own interests and how the cost of living can be kept down.

"I want to reassure all Victorians that there will be no radical or sudden changes. "We will be taking a common sense and sensible approach to running this state.


But he will obstruct the Federal Left

INCOMING Victorian premier Ted Baillieu will challenge key planks of Julia Gillard's reform agenda. This included the broadband network, health reform, the mining tax and water, in a clear challenge to the Prime Minister's ability to deliver.

The premier-elect last night told The Australian he will launch an immediate audit of Victorian hospital waiting lists to determine whether the national health reform deal signed by outgoing Premier John Brumby provides enough for his state.

Mr Baillieu will also make his support for Canberra's planned roll-out of the National Broadband Network conditional on improved mobile phone reception in regional and metropolitan areas.

Mr Baillieu's aggressive approach towards Ms Gillard's major reforms came as Labor insiders predicted Mr Brumby would soon stand down to allow a smooth transition to a new Labor leadership team.

As Mr Brumby formally conceded that the Victorian election was lost, speculation centred on his Health Minister Daniel Andrews as the likely replacement leader. Water Minister Tim Holding and one of the party's rising stars, Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan, were also being mooted as candidates, but considered less likely to run.

Mr Baillieu drove through the gates to the Governor's mansion at about 6:30pm last night to formally accept his commission as next premier. While he is yet to formally outline his priorities for government, he told The Australian more questions needed to be answered before he could support either the NBN or Ms Gillard's reforms to hospital finance.

"Before taxpayers fund an NBN, basic services such as mobile phone reception in many regional and metropolitan areas of Victoria should be addressed and improved wherever possible," he said.

"Victorians don't know enough about the health deal John Brumby signed with Kevin Rudd. We will commence an audit on coming to government to reveal the true extent of hospital waiting lists in Victoria. I've made it clear that we'll examine every aspect of the health deal on coming to government, and if it's not in the interests of Victorian families, we will seek to get a better outcome from Julia Gillard."

The instalment of a Coalition government in Victoria, along with Colin Barnett's West Australian government, will further complicate the Prime Minister's task in securing state support through COAG for her reforms.

The NSW Labor government is widely expected to face a huge defeat in March next year and opposition parties in NSW and Queensland signalled they would also take a critical approach to Ms Gillard's plans. Mr Barnett said he was pleased not to be the only non-Labor premier.

Mr Brumby called Mr Baillieu shortly before a 5pm media conference to concede defeat in Saturday's election and pass on his congratulations. He blamed the "weight of time" after 11 years of Labor government as being the most decisive factor in the result. "The electorate has spoken and we must accept their verdict, no matter how close the result," he said. "The people of Victoria felt it was time to give another team a chance."

In addition to Ms Gillard's NBN and health reforms, Mr Baillieu urged caution towards Labor's proposed national curriculum, Murray-Darling Basin plan and mining tax.

"I am supportive of a national curriculum and it was originally a Liberal idea," he said. "But Victorian families don't want a prescriptive one-size-fits-all approach. There should be a focus on basics, especially with declining literacy and numeracy standards amongst Victorian students. It is also important to have a sound mix of content and skills and there should be a balanced approach to Australia's and Victoria's history and social values".

In a threat to the plans to return water to the Murray-Darling Basin, Mr Baillieu said he would not allow the changes to be fast-tracked in Victoria.

"It is clear that much more work needs to be done on the social and economic impact of the plan on Victorian communities and families," he said. Mr Baillieu will seek an emergency briefing from Ms Gillard on the mining tax and potential impacts on Victoria.

The comments to The Australian reveal the Prime Minister faces an uphill battle to deliver many of her national reforms.

Mr Baillieu said he would push for a "better deal" in the proposed national health reforms and additional commonwealth funding for major infrastructure projects.

In a forerunner to what is likely to become an increasingly difficult climate between the federal government and the states over proposed reforms, Mr Baillieu told The Australian one of the first things he wanted to do for the state on a national level was to re-examine what Victoria received in the health agreement.

"Victoria has the potential to make a bigger contribution to the national economy and do better on service delivery, integrity of government and cost of living," he said. "I will be pushing for a better deal for Victoria on health and infrastructure funding."

Mr Baillieu said he wanted to secure more funding for his proposed railway line to Avalon Airport, near Geelong, and funding to improve the state's level crossings.

He also wanted, as a key priority, "crucial road funding" to stop traffic bottlenecks in the city and suburbs which "damage the economy and slow travel speeds".

It comes as Coalition opposition parties said they would also take a critical approach to Ms Gillard's plans.

Queensland Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said the Murray-Darling plan, the health takeover, the NBN and the mining tax were all potential flashpoints. "I am encouraged that Queenslanders are growing in confidence with the policies the LNP have been announcing, but we are not taking anything for granted and will work day and night to provide a viable alternative to the tired, long-term Labor government," he said.

And NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell has declared that if he wins government he will not sign deals that left NSW people worse off. "The NSW Liberals and Nationals will not sign up to any national agreements which leave the state's services or taxpayers worse off."

NSW opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said NSW Liberals and Nationals had always voiced concerns about handing over GST funding, especially when there were no details on what levels the "efficient costs" would be set at.

"The NSW Liberals and Nationals have positive plans for health reform in NSW that we believe are compatible with the current arrangements but we reserve the right to act in the best interests of NSW patients should circumstances change".


Something odd about home schooling?

Next year I will educate one of my primary school-aged children at home. It suits him, for now, and it will suit me, now that I have made some changes. Yet it doesn't seem to suit anyone else. Even the government representative – meant to support parents and children undertaking home education – seemed, well, judgmental. When I asked why it took a few months for approval to come through – nothing accusatorial in my tone, just wanting to be across the process – she caustically responded “because we care about the children”.

My son loves to learn – more broadly than the curriculum dictates. I like to teach, and I too am still learning. I will organise help if there are elements beyond me. Basically, we are excited. And I am not asking for the $10,722 it would have cost the government to have him in primary school next year. So which bit is confronting?

Teaching has been around as long as humans have, but education and schools are relatively newer concepts, particularly our industrialised version.

The reactions of others would suggest I am removing my son from a perfect education system, a system that, despite some excellent teachers, stands accused of narrowing education, teaching to the test and moving towards rewarding a school, or recognising the "best" teachers, based on flawed measures that foster stress and desperation.

The NSW Board of Studies oversees home education in NSW. Parents or carers must complete an interview with an authorised person within the home. They need to demonstrate that a suitable education program, in accordance with the curriculum provided by the Education Act and Board of Studies syllabuses, has been devised and learning experiences, student achievements and progress can be recorded. Registration for home schooling is granted for a set period, usually between six months and two years, and once it expires you have to re-apply.

Home schooling has steadily increased in recent years. In 2009, 1945 children were registered for home schooling in NSW compared with 1417 in 2005, according to the NSW Board of Studies. More than 1.5 million students were educated at home in the US during 2007, compared with 1.1 million in 2003 and 850,000 in 1999, the US Department of Education says.

A Stanford University journal, Education Next, reported last year that the phenomenon was becoming mainstream, and the most common reason was a concern about the local school environment, rather than religious beliefs.

Research on the performance of home-schooled children here is close to non-existent. But most overseas studies indicate they perform the same, or better, both academically and socially.

Choosing to educate at home is a way of doing things differently. It may not be suitable for everyone – school is a safety net too for many families – but it should not be maligned or deemed unnatural.

The cartoonist and philosopher Michael Leunig did it for more than 10 years. He says home schooling forces parents to re-examine their own values and learning, and question what is worth doing in life. “Having the top score at 18 isn't going to help if you have a nervous breakdown at 40 . . . We are watching horrible pressure being put on children. Human happiness, sanity and health is involved in this issue. Taking back what we are meant to do is a bold step. It's not just about educating, it's about protecting character, it's about parenting.”

"What about the socialisation?" say many of those who disapprove. Frankly, much of the socialisation at school constitutes quips such as “You're gay” (if you, say, go to the library voluntarily) or, “You're weird” (if you don't own a gaming console).

If repeated exposure to this prepares a child for the adult world, then we are doing something very wrong in the adult world. So much of the school experience is just surviving – a strange way to fritter our Western advantage. Research published this year as part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which tracks the development of 15,000 children born between 2000 and 2002, found that one in four boys hate school by the age of seven.

Educating a child at home is a legitimate choice. Why are we so frightened of doing things differently? Why are we so frightened of others doing things differently?


Secrecy tells its own story about the NBN

So much for opening the curtains and letting the sunshine in. The last few weeks of the Federal Parliamentary year have highlighted the farcical lengths the Gillard Government will go to avoid the sunshine of parliamentary scrutiny.

Demanding unprecedented seven year secrecy clauses from MPs. Blocking legislation to allow the Productivity Commission to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Then finally, dragged kicking and screaming, releasing just a flimsy 36 page summary of the NBN 400-page business plan.

It begs the simple question: why be so secretive? It’s almost as if the National Broadband Network was a figurative political vampire that must be protected from the sun at all costs. No new paradigm sunshine will be permitted to reduce this policy monster to a pile of ashes.

The irony is Labor’s NBN is showing signs it will indeed be a parasitic drain on the public purse while sucking the life out of competition in the communications sector.

The flimsy “business plan” summary relies on extremely optimistic take-up rates to justify its rubbery figures. Laughably, the Government is now claiming it will cost $6 billion less than first expected. Hmmm…sounds reasonable coming from a Government that managed to overspend $2 billion on a school hall program, and waste an estimated $7 billion in delivering it.

And now an international study by two expert consultants has found that the claimed benefits of the NBN are grossly overstated. No earth shattering news here. Indeed, the study has questioned the benefits of fibre-to-the-home networks.

It’s a fair question in a world where technology is advancing rapidly and wireless internet speeds are now so much faster than we dreamt of just a few years ago.

I don’t claim to be an expert on broadband technology. But with demand (and capacity) for mobile technology growing almost daily, it seems extremely antiquated and inefficient to be digging up footpaths and laying fibre across a nation as extensive as ours.

In a fascinating development, last week a subsidiary company of Telstra located in Hong Kong announced the roll out of “fourth generation” wireless internet which will provide speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. That’s wireless technology delivering now the kind of speed promised by the NBN - and at no cost to Hong Kong taxpayers. Makes you wonder.

We all want decent, fast and affordable broadband. But as the Governor of the Reserve Bank so eloquently put it last week, “much hinges on how much you pay to do it and how efficiently it’s done.” That’s the bottom line. That’s what an independent cost-benefit analysis by the Productivity Commission would determine.

While Labor (and their new paradigm pals the Independents and Greens) refuse to subject the NBN to the sunshine of scrutiny, it’s taxpayers who will be figuratively left in the dark with their jugular exposed.


Monday, November 29, 2010

The Naomi Oreskes witchhunt comes to Australia

Jo Nova comments below on the professional slanderer and her Australian apostle, Nick Stekete, writing in The Australian. In good Warmist form, Stekete mentions not one scientific fact in support of Warmism. The way Warmists worship authority is positively North Korean

Some people just can’t think. Naomi Oreskes “reasons” by Remarkable Parallels, which is as bogus a way of thinking as any tea-leaf-incantation that we thought we left behind in the caves.

She thinks that because she can find parallels between Tobacco and Climate Skeptics, therefore skeptics are wrong about climate sensitivity due to a trace gas. Go figure why anyone struggles to analyze ice cores when they could have just done a Google search?

I can find remarkable parallels between Lysenko and modern climate science, but I don’t bother writing a book on it. If I want answers about the climate I look at the data from the planet, not data about personalities.

Mike Steketee (Some sceptics make it a habit to be wrong) has learnt a new way to throw names from Oreskes. Nick Minchin (recently retired Senator from the conservative opposition) is just the latest target of this effusion of confusion. Now anyone who raises points against a policy can be called a “doubt-monger” and the Orwellian destruction of our language advances one more notch.

Naomi Oreskes IS the Merchant of Doubt

Ponder the irony of what Oreskes herself is doing. Is she not profiteering from being a doubt-monger about scientist’s reputations? Is she not a conspiracy theorist about webs of vested interests among conservative speakers? Could it be that her entire reasoning dies by its own sword and her claims turn out to be as hypocritical as they are mindless?

Is there any possibility that governments can become too big, too powerful? Not according to Oreskes. Now anyone who even questions the growth of government power can be spat into the box called “conspiracy theorist” or “ideologue”. The mindless vacuity of Oreskes’ reasoning sucks sensible discussion into the black hole of tribal name-calling. Mike Steketee applauds from the sidelines.

Redefining “extreme”

Can governments become too large? Just ask one of the hundred million victims of states where state-power crushed individual rights to speak. Except you won’t get many answers because those victims not only lost their right to speak, they lost their right to breathe. (Think Soviet Russia, Communist China, Communist Cambodia, Nazi Germany,…)

Nothing made by man has killed more people than overbearing government. Yet now, anyone who even questions the creeping growth of government power is dismissed as an “extremist”. There is no balance allowed in this debate.

Attacking reputations to silence a scientific debate

Ad hominem attacks are always a fallacy in science. Fred Singer and Frederick Seitz held esteemed positions for decades of public service, and yet because they were ever involved with anything to do with a program or study that had the words “tobacco” in it (even if it was just a statistical test on the dangers of passive smoke), their views on global warming are therefore wrong. Thus is the great catastrophe “proved” by Oreskes and her ilk.

Nick Minchin has, of course, committed the unforgiveable sin of declaring that smokers have the right to do what they want, and not to be bossed around by the overbearing domineers who want to meddle with other people’s lives. Thus, he’s uttered the word “tobacco” and didn’t chant the right line, comrade!

What Orsekes and Steketee have discovered is merely that people who don’t want to be sock puppet citizens have principles. They don’t want to foist their own non-smoking habit on anyone else, just as they don’t want to foist an unnecessary carbon scheme on the masses. Some people are not gullible.

Why does The Australian think this transparent failure of reasoning is worth publishing in the first place? Every other newspaper in the country has soaked up the smear campaign as if it was science, but we hope The Australian might be the last hold out bastion of reason, where people don’t self-satirize themselves, and journalists don’t mistake a kindergarten name-calling program for an unbiased historical analysis.

The Questions no one can answer

Oreskes is selling doubt mongering, and the skeptics like Nick Minchin are merely asking questions no one in the western climate establishment can answer. Questions like this:

Where are the global records of raw temperature data used to calculate the global warming graphs? No one can find them.

Where are the latest global results from the ARGO oceanic temperature network, and why aren’t they published monthly on a public website?

Where is the empirical evidence for warming greater than 1.2 degrees? No one can name and explain a single paper that shows long term positive feedback that amplifies the warming, as the climate alarmists assert.

Because those who want to alarm us and control us have not got scientific evidence, they resort to the smear campaign to try to diminish the influence of the great independent minds who seek answers we ought to have.

Mankind faces the “greatest threat ever known” — supposedly. So why are the raw data, adjustments, and methods used to study this threat so difficult to find?


Labor party facing disaster in three states

And that's not mentioning the huge unpopularity of Anna Bligh in Queensland

LABOR is in crisis across three states and faces a political disaster nationally as its dismal standing with voters puts Prime Minister Julia Gillard's health reform agenda in serious doubt.

As a shellshocked Labor copped a surprise electoral routing in Victoria, the national health plan is now likely to be a casualty, with both the NSW and Victorian Coalitions confirming they would refuse to sign up to the deal in its current form.

Adding to the party's woes was a near union-led leadership coup against South Australian Premier Mike Rann and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally facing her own union-related crisis.

Ms Keneally yesterday demanded the head of NSW Labor Party boss Bernie Riordan after his union told members to consider backing parties other than Labor at the March election.

She telephoned Mr Riordan just after 6am to tell him his position was "untenable" and "unacceptable", after it was revealed the Electrical Trades Union magazine suggested a vote for other parties.

On the way to Mass, she issued a statement that she had lost confidence in Mr Riordan and then called him back to say: "You'll hear it from me directly - you've lost my confidence as party president."

Mr Riordan is tipped to resign. "He's in absolute f ... ing shock," one Labor source said. "He's in the Riordan compound now thinking about his options. He didn't think she'd stand up to him."

In South Australia, Mr Rann escaped a move by union leaders to remove him as leader at the party's annual state conference on Saturday. He was escorted by police into the meeting before the Australian Workers Union put a motion for him to resign, which he survived by 118 votes to 61.

But it is the threat to federal Labor's health reforms that is emerging as the party's biggest concern. With the Victorian Coalition on the brink of forming government and the NSW Coalition likely to win in March, Ms Gillard will have to radically alter her health reforms. The Liberal West Australian Government is also refusing to agree to the reforms.

A spokesman for Victorian Coalition leader Ted Baillieu yesterday said he would seek an urgent briefing on the reforms if he became the next premier. "We have grave concerns about it," the spokesman said.

NSW Coalition leader Barry O'Farrell said he would not be signing up to the deal in its current form if he wins office in March, as he is expected to do.

The health reforms are a key plank of what Ms Gillard claimed was a reform agenda for the new year. Under the deal, which would see the Commonwealth take over more funding responsibility for the state-run hospital systems, the states have to agree to surrender more than a third of their GST revenue.

Yesterday Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd added to Labor's internal problems, for the first time attacking the faceless men who orchestrated his dumping from the top job and who he claims are now undermining the party and the Government.

In a direct swipe at union boss Paul Howes, Mr Rudd said: "I think it is time people grew up. "We are always in better shape when the troops are singing from the same hymn sheet."

Mr Howes' name was being bandied about yesterday as a replacement as NSW Labor president, along with Treasurer Eric Roozendaal, but Labor sources denied this.


Qld.: Overworked ambulance drivers falling asleep on the job

AMBULANCE officers are falling asleep at the wheel, putting patients and their own lives at extreme risk because of excessive workloads. Paramedics are regularly being forced to work 16-hour shifts, contrary to occupational health and safety guidelines, to combat growing demand exacerbated by hospital ramping and lack of resources.

While paramedics struggle with the workload, ambulance management is boasting over salary savings.

"If you work more than 16 hours, experts say it is the equivalent of having two or more standard drinks and a blood alcohol limit of .05," Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (which represents paramedics) state organiser Kroy Day said. "Is this what we want for our paramedics? Driving patients around intoxicated, that is not to mention the safety concerns of having to make quick medical decisions and administer drugs."

There were almost 600 occasions (598) where paramedics worked a 12-hour shift or more in June, July and August this year, figures obtained by The Sunday Mail show. In the same three months there were almost 400 (398) rostered shifts not filled. Currently, 14 per cent of overtime in the ambulance service is due to shift extensions. In a 2005 review of work practices, workload and health for the Queensland Ambulance Service, Professor Tony Parker recommended shift duration should not exceed 12 hours including overtime.

There are about 3000 paramedics in the state's ambulance services, but Mr Day said about 250 paramedics were needed to cover the increasing workload.

Assistant Commissioner Rodney Waldz was quoted in minutes of a regional consultative committee meeting earlier this year that he expected to be "up to $600,000 in the black as a result of savings in wages and salaries due to vacancies". This amount would hire about eight paramedics.

Acting Commissioner Russell Bowles said QAS had the "best response times in the nation" and the move to 12-hour shifts was taken in full consultation with the union.


Boats full of illegals are still flooding into Australia

No mystery about how to stop them: Just reinstate the policies of the previous conservative government -- but the present Leftist government clearly does not WANT to stop the illegals coming -- despite fighting an election on a promise of cutting the arrivals back

More than 100 suspected asylum seekers are being transferred to Christmas Island after three boats were intercepted in two days near Ashmore Island off north-west Australia.

The opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said the arrivals brought to almost 200 the number of boats intercepted since Labor was elected. "Three years ago you could count the number of people being detained who had arrived illegally by boat on one hand. There were just four," Mr Morrison said. "The Coalition's policies stopped the boats."

"Riots, brawling, gruesome protests and self-harm have all returned to our detention network after three years of Labor's failed policies," Mr Morrison said.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, acknowledged "pressures on our detention accommodation network". "Yet you have the Coalition running around the country opposing new detention accommodation," he said.

"Last week it outlined a refugee visa cap measure that would have the effect of putting asylum seekers … into arbitrary, indefinite detention."


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Police Union angry at 'political correctness gone mad' on naming offenders' race

A major restriction on free speech has been imposed. It's never been openly announced but similar restrictions clearly apply in Victoria too

POLICE say a ban on using ethnic or religious words to describe offenders is obstructing investigations. The police union has labelled the policy, a direct order from Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan, as "political correctness gone mad". Officers can no longer use details such as a suspect's nationality, race or religion when seeking public help. Instead, they have been told to say if the person is light or dark skinned.

WA Police Union president Russell Armstrong wants the rule overturned.

The Equal Opportunities Commission says the ban was introduced six months ago after complaints that using ethnic descriptions was racist. The commission said witnesses who made reports to police would often get the ethnicity of a suspect wrong.

Mr Armstrong said using "scant descriptions" made it harder to catch criminals. "If you just turn around and say we are looking for a 20-year-old male, 180cm, with black hair, how many people in the community does that description fit?" he said. "If somebody is Australian or if somebody is English or if somebody is Nigerian, wherever they are from, police should be allowed to say that in their description of offenders.

One police insider said the policy had prevented the capture of suspects. "These rules don't give a true indication of who police are looking for," the source said. "There is a big difference between a dark-skinned person being Aboriginal or African. And if we are looking for an Asian person-of-interest it's a bit narrow to describe them as simply having fair skin and dark hair."

But Equal Opportunity Commission state commissioner Yvonne Henderson said using ethnic descriptions reinforced negative stereotypes. "It can feed into prejudiced ideas in the community about which ethnicities are mainly responsible for criminal behaviour," she said. {Must not let the public know the truth!]

Ms Henderson also said the police use of ethnic descriptions was often misleading. "Often they were inaccurate because they were based on one person's assumption of someone's racial background, which could be wrong," she said. The commission will investigate any incidents where police use ethnic descriptions.

Ethnic Communities Council of WA president Maria Saraceni said the ban stopped police condemning everyone of a particular race in an area they were investigating. "If police say they are looking for an Indian, how would the public know to distinguish between an Indian and a Pakistani?," Ms Saraceni said. "It is much more accurate to use details like height, weight or hair colour."

Police spokesman Insp Bill Munnee defended the rule. "The continued use of ethnic descriptors enforces stereotypes, does not promote understanding between cultures, damages police-community relationships and is not considered a sound investigatory practice," Insp Munnee said. [In other words, catching the crooks is bottom priority for the West Australian police and indoctrinating people with lies is top priority. It is all a coverup for the fact that Aborigines and Africans have a high rate of offending. But people must not be aware of that, apparently]


Bullsh*t school in Victoria cops flak from parents

A SCHOOL that banned homework for young students has been forced to change the policy after a furious backlash from parents. Children from prep to year nine at Carranballac College in Point Cook are not given daily tasks to do at home because it is felt it is unnecessary and even detrimental.

But worried parents feared their children were not keeping up with students from other schools and pushed for homework to be reintroduced.

The school confirmed it has "redefined" its homework policy, but said tasks were still not compulsory. "Families are encouraged to interact in quality learning experiences as a family," principal Peter Kearney said. "Families are advised upon enrolment of our belief in the value of shared family experiences." [What a lot of empty talk! What business does this pr*ick have lecturing families on what they do?]

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said the school made the homework u-turn because "parents delusionally base the quality of their child's education on the amount of homework they were given". "Parents want homework because they think it will make children better educated. But it can in fact have the opposite effect and even be harmful," he said.

Parent Melanie Bluff, who has two daughters at the school, said she approves of the scheme. "I'm a big fan because you are doing things tailored for your child," she said. "My daughter Alexandra, who is nine, lacked confidence a year ago, but teachers were able to suggest real life scenarios that have really helped. We asked her to ring for a pizza on her own, things like that, and the change has been staggering."

Mr Kearney said: "We ask parents to spend some time with their children after school time to reinforce some of the things they have learned. This process is not difficult." [But it is also none of his business]


The "obesity" war gets more and more vicious

Overweight mothers now turned away from hospitals

PREGNANT women are being turned away from several NSW hospitals for being too fat, causing outrage among women's groups. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found a number of public hospitals across the state are not allowing women with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or above to give birth there, deeming them too "high risk".

BMI is a measurement of a person's health based on their height and weight, so a woman who stands 155cm and weighs 83kg would have a BMI of 35 and be considered too overweight to give birth safely in many hospitals.

In Sydney, Sutherland Hospital and Ryde Hospital refer women with a BMI of 35 or higher to hospitals with more specialised models of care. At Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai, Mona Vale and Manly hospitals, women with a BMI of more than 40 will be told to book in to another facility.

In regional areas, Shellharbour, Milton Ulladulla, Bowral and District, Wyong, Lithgow and the Blue Mountains hospitals all refer women with a BMI of 35 or more to another hospital.

NSW Australian College of Midwives president Hannah Dahlen said that rejecting women with a BMI of 35 was "extreme" and would push more people into dangerous birthing alternatives. "It is very insensitive - one woman with a BMI of 35 is not the same as another woman with a BMI of 35," she said. "They forget about the individual. Women are making decisions like free birth at home with no assistance and that is a much worse option. "We have to be more flexible in our health system about labelling women and look at things like lifestyle, diet and exercise."

Ms Dahlen said a BMI of 35 was now "very, very common", particularly among certain cultures. [Polynesians]

Publicly-funded birthing centres run by midwives also have a policy to turn away women with a BMI of more than 35, she said.

While there is no statewide policy, all area health services in NSW consider a BMI of 35 as the benchmark. Pregnant women who are overweight run a greater risk of diseases such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. There are also higher rates of neonatal intensive care admissions, birth defects, prematurity, still birth and perinatal death among obese women.

The president of the Maternity Coalition, a national organisation advocating best-practice maternity care for women, Lisa Metcalfe, said BMI restrictions further reduced women's options. "It is another nail in the coffin for women's choice. Next, they'll be telling you, 'She has blue eyes, she'll need a specialist'," she said.

A spokeswoman for Sydney West Area Health Service said BMI was not the only risk indicator and was used as a guide for clinicians, with other factors including the mother's age, medical history and previous birth experiences.


Growing opposition to Australia's windmill lunacy

Australia is not nearly as far down the windmill road as Britain and there seems a good chance that it never will be

JOHN Coombs, the former maritime union heavyweight who refused to let radioactive waste cross the nation's docks, has experienced a change of heart.

He reckons it's time Australia went nuclear. And that's the message he wants to send to the man who stood beside him during the waterfront dispute - former ACTU secretary, now Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet.

His conversion is part of a new world of climate change politics, in which unlikely alliances are being formed and long-held positions being revised.

Mr Coombs, long retired as national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, now finds himself in the same camp as ABC chairman and former Australian Securities Exchange chair Maurice Newman.

Both own property at Crookwell on the NSW southern tablelands, a couple of hours southwest of Sydney. And both have serious doubts about the wisdom of a planned explosion of wind-power developments in the area. "There is a view that wind power will turn out to be for electricity generation what the Zeppelin was for air transportation," Mr Newman said. "It looked promising but was not the answer."

The concerns expressed by Mr Coombs and Mr Newman mirror doubts being expressed in South Australia and southwest Victoria about the cost, efficiency, social impacts and health effects of the new-generation wind turbines that cost more than $2 million each and are as tall as a 45-storey building with blades that take up more than 1ha of sky and create enough turbulence to tear apart any bird that strays too close. Since Australia's first large-scale wind turbine was installed at Breamlea, near Geelong in Victoria, in 1987, more than 1000 have sprung up in wind farms built in every state, with almost half in South Australia. Together they generate about 1.5 per cent of the nation's electricity needs - enough to power 770,000 homes. But there are plans for a multi-billion-dollar, 10-fold increase in the amount of power generated from wind as the federal government pursues a target of generating 20 per cent of our power needs from renewable resources by 2020 as part of its carbon reduction plans. It is estimated that about 40 per cent of the renewable energy target will come from wind.

Yet there is a growing tide of concern that Australia is tying too much of its energy future on a technology that is less efficient, less carbon-friendly and ultimately more expensive for consumers than alternative electricity sources, such as natural gas, coal-fired power with carbon capture and storage technology and nuclear.

Then there are the side-effects of wind turbines - their visual impact, the way they divide rural neighbours when a farm springs up on one property, their effect on wildlife and, potentially, on the health of nearby communities.

Family First senator Steve Fielding has established a Senate inquiry to investigate the health impacts of living near windmills, including concerns over noise and vibrations and the effect of rural wind farms on property values.

Submissions are rolling in and calls are growing for a re-evaluation of nuclear energy.

In Canberra this week, International Energy Agency executive director Nobuo Tanaka said it would be "very difficult" for Australia to meet its target of a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if its gamble on carbon capture and storage - the burial of carbon emissions in deep underground reservoirs - failed and it did not have nuclear power as a back-up. His comments came as a review of international studies, published by Australian researchers in the journal Energy, identified nuclear energy as the cheapest technology to help tackle global warming.

With the billions of dollars earmarked for wind power, which costs more than twice as much as electricity from coal or gas, Mr Coombs said the sensible thing was to consider nuclear energy.

"Of course if you were to mention me (politicians) could say, 'That bloke fought against nuclear waste going out of this country for 20 years', and I did.

"For 20 years I . . . stopped any ship coming in to pick (nuclear waste) up because we refused to let it go to Third World countries.

"Politically, a lot of members were opposed to nuclear energy but it was a long time ago and I gave up the fight . . . to try to stop the use of nuclear power in this country. Of course nuclear power is a reasonable thing to consider."


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Land of no hope and vainglory

Contempt for others is quintessentially English. As Irishman G.B. Shaw perceptively commented: "No Englishman can open his mouth without causing another Englishman to despise him".

And while the writer below rightly mocks an outrageously unbalanced comment from England (by Matthew Norman, British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2008) about Australia, he probably does not realize that the same ignoramus would likely be even more bigoted and patronizing in his attitude towards most of his fellow countrymen: Cockneys, Scousers and Geordies, for instance.

And the fact that England is in a deep economic crisis at the moment while Australia sailed through the global financial crisis quite unscathed must be also galling to a British bigot.

And amid all its own troubles, the cash-strapped British government now has to find 7 billion pounds to help bail out the Irish. Guess how much Australia will be up for over that? Not a cent! Must not laugh!

But perhaps the biggest laugh is the bigot's comment about the cricket: "As for our boys, the tour is going so swimmingly that the Test series is as good as ours already". Perhaps that is why the England captain was caught out in the first over at the Gabba! And must not mention Siddle's hat-trick!

See here for some comments from English cricket fans who are actually IN Australia at the moment

England, I’m told you used to be this terrifically confident place which belied its speck-on-the-map geographical status by civilising the world with such benevolent and enduring cultural endowments as the Westminster system, cricket and The Benny Hill Show.

But suddenly England, you’ve gone all insecure and snipey. England, I can’t tell you how genuinely shocked I was to read this piece by journalist Matthew Norman in The Telegraph the other day. Here’s the really surprising bit.
The peculiarly upsetting thing here is that winning at games - and I hope this doesn’t sound condescending - is all Australia has. For a country without a shred of history or a soupcon of culture, and geographically distended (with apologies to New Zealand) from the developed world, sport is the only route to international relevance. Their economy may have nimbly sidestepped the global downturn, and even be booming, but sporting success is all they care about. And with excellent reason. Without it, Australia is nothing.

England, the first thing I should tell you is that I have no idea what a soupcon is. Although after googling it, I note that it should have one of those funny little hook things underneath the c. My, you really do know so much.

Oh, and speaking of hooks, I strongly suspect that your piece is exactly that, and that Aussie-bashing is the bait. Now all you need is to reel in an outraged Aussie and fillet him or her like one of your scrummy delicious kippers.

Sorry old chap. Not biting. Instead, I am going to sit here in my 25th floor office overlooking the pristine coves and beaches and waters of one of the world’s great natural wonders (Sydney Harbour), and the shimmering sails of one of the world’s cultural marvels (the Sydney Opera House). Munching on my fresh lunch sandwich with local seasonal produce which wasn’t wrapped in 10,000 layers of plastic prior to purchase, I will refrain completely from defending the virtues of my gorgeous, clean, optimistic young nation and its diverse, outward-looking inhabitants.

Neither will I direct my readers to the very first comment underneath your inexplicably insecure piece, where the commenter mentions pharmacologist Howard Florey’s role in the development of penicillin as just one Australian contribution to global culture beyond excellence in sport and the ability to enjoy really, really good beaches without leaving beer cans all over them.

Gosh, that last sentence was a bit long, wasn’t it. Anyone would think I’m getting all worked up. I’m not. I’m actually fabulously relaxed. Why wouldn’t I be? It’s Friday, the sun’s out and I live in a country where I won’t be set upon by thousands of toothless hoons for wearing the wrong colour to a football match. Well, as long as Collingwood aren’t playing.

The real question, England, is why are you so worked up? I always thought it was the little guy in any competitive relationship who was the insecure one. The one who slanders to get attention because he’s desperately unsure of his place in the world and his general reason for being. That wouldn’t be you nowadays, would it England?


A chaotic government hospital

LAWYERS cancelling surgery at the last moment???

A 12-YEAR-OLD girl has been refused life-changing surgery after being caught in an alleged feud between surgeons at the Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne.

Emily was to have had surgery on Wednesday to treat a bone deformity that has left her unable to walk without a limp or crutches. But hours before the operation, as Emily underwent pre-op blood tests and X-rays, Southern Health corporate legal counsel John Snowden took the extraordinary step of cancelling her surgery.

After seven years of treatment at Monash, the family say it's now been "suggested" they find another hospital.

Emily suffers from fibrous dysplasia, a condition that has deformed and weakened her femurs - which have broken numerous times - and left her left leg about 7cm shorter than her right.

Rick believes his daughter has missed out after changing doctors when an earlier operation by another Monash surgeon failed. "Monash Medical Centre should be ashamed of their treatment of Emily and our family," Rick told the Herald Sun. "Emily is a sick 12-year-old caught up in a fight between doctors and the hospital. "Who is accountable for her pain and suffering in missing a vital operation? "If they can't manage this, how are they going to run the promised new $250 million children's hospital?"

Medical sources said the two surgeons had competed for the job of director of orthopaedic services at Southern Health and disliked each other intensely.

The family complained to the Health Services Commissioner in 2008 that Emily's original surgeon "had words" with the second and became abusive to his wife and daughter after they told him they had decided to seek treatment with the other surgeon, rather than repeat the failed operation. That complaint was referred to the Medical Board and is subject to ongoing investigations.

Rick said Emily was left severely scarred when pins and bracing were removed six months after the original operation in 2007.

The family's hopes were again dashed this week when the Monash unexpectedly cancelled the operation to replace a plate in her leg. In an email to Emily's new surgeon telling him that he was not to operate, Mr Snowden said he was unable to find a surgical plan or clinical evidence in support of the proposed surgery.

He also referred to the "considerable controversy" surrounding the management of Emily's case over the past three years, including the Medical Board probe. "Those factors strongly support the requirement for adequate and meaningful clinical information to be provided to Southern Health prior to performance of further surgery here on Emily," he said.

Hospital surgery program director Alan Saunder then apologised to the family for the "confusion, stress and extreme frustration".

Rick said Mr Saunder's apology came after he threatened to go to the media. "Why did it take five months to discover that (surgeon two) had not lodged the correct paperwork and no surgical plan was in place? Is he supervised? "How thoroughly was Emily's case discussed?"

Mr Saunder told the Herald Sun Southern Health had a strict policy that all complex surgery was discussed with a senior clinical team to determine the type of surgery in the patient's best interest. "In this case, the operating surgeon did not discuss the surgery with the expert team, nor did he provide a comprehensive care plan."

He denied suggesting Emily seek treatment elsewhere, but said he did agree to help if the family did so.

Opposition health spokesman David Davis said Emily's plight was the "appalling human cost of John Brumby's incompetent management of the health system". "Monash and Southern Health have more than 1000 category 2 patients waiting and hundreds of them, like Emily with very serious conditions, are forced to wait over the allowed 90 days."


The chaotic NSW school system

HUNDREDS of casual teachers had their approval to teach withdrawn after they failed to attain up-to-date teaching accreditation. At the same time, a casual teacher shortage had left some schools unable to supervise dozens of classes.

Department of Education and Training figures showed that 287 casual teachers - almost 15 per cent of all who were considered - were unable to fulfil standards for their accreditation within a five-year timeframe.

The teachers whose approval was withdrawn between 2008-09 were permitted to teach students for up to five years without attaining professional competence accreditation.

Standards teachers must meet include demonstrating communication skills, a knowledge of subject content and teaching methods, planning, assessing and ability to maintain a safe classroom environment. Eight probationary teachers failed to meet a required level of teacher performance between 2008-09, the figures obtained under Freedom of Information show.

One school had 146 classes abandoned this year after no casual teachers could be found to cover for ill staff.

Hundreds of students at Wade High School in Griffith spent the worst day of the casual teacher crisis earlier this year being supervised on the oval. "We don't have a hall so the kids had nowhere to shelter, they didn't have the staff to supervise them sitting in classrooms so the teachers supervised the kids on the oval," Julie Andreazza from the school's P&C said. "It is really disgusting." She said fill-in teachers had finally been sent from Sydney.

Other schools had to cancel library and classroom lessons.

Opposition education spokesman Adrian Piccoli said many of the casual teachers unable to gain accreditation over the five years needed more support.

The teachers have to collect evidence demonstrating their skills and work 180 days, including a block at one school, over the five years to have their performance adequately assessed. "The Government must ensure those who put their hand up to work as casual teachers are given the support needed," he said.


No one fired or demoted over disastrous Greenie scheme

Isn't it grand to be a bureaucrat or a politician?

NO POLITICIAN, nor any bureaucrat, has been held responsible for Kevin Rudd's disastrous home insulation scheme.

Even as police continue to investigate whether a series of house fires, some involving fatalities, were linked to the scheme, the Government admitted no one had been sacked or demoted over the program, under which taxpayers funded the installation of insulation material in tens of thousands of homes.

Earlier this year, Julia Gillard described the home insulation scheme as "a mess" after confirmation that shoddy installers attracted to the subsidies had improperly installed the insulation, leaving some homes live with electricity.

Despite this, the Prime Minister defied opposition demands that she sack former environment minister Peter Garrett, arguing he had been poorly served by his department and reappointing him to cabinet as Schools Minister.

However, despite Ms Gillard blaming the department, no one has been held accountable in the bureaucracy.

When The Australian recently asked Climate Change Minister Greg Combet where the buck had stopped, he referred the inquiry to his parliamentary secretary, Mark Dreyfus.

Yesterday Mr Dreyfus produced a short statement suggesting no one had been sacked or demoted but insisting the government had "learnt the lessons" of the program.

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said Ms Gillard had attempted to blame the bureaucracy when she should have simply sacked Mr Garrett. "The department from the outset recognised the risk, warned about the risk and was overridden for political reasons," Mr Hunt said. "Responsibility rests with the then minister and the current prime minister."

Mr Hunt said the government had whitewashed what was "arguably the greatest failing of ministerial accountability" since World War II. "Peter Garrett should not be a minister," he said. "The Prime Minister owns this issue now because she was part of the gang of four that overrode the department's advice. She promoted Peter Garrett and she is complicit."


Keddies finally reined in

Long overdue. The worst legal sharks in the nation

RUSSELL KEDDIE, the founder of the law firm Keddies, plans to retire from practice after "rolling over" and admitting to the Legal Services Commissioner that he was responsible for the gross overcharging of a client. Mr Keddie, 59, has filed an affidavit with the Administrative Decisions Tribunal accepting responsibility for it.

He, the partners Tony Barakat and Scott Roulstone and the senior solicitor Phillip Scroope are facing potential findings of professional misconduct after a severely injured client complained to the legal watchdog that she had been grossly overcharged.

After the Herald wrote about overcharging at the firm, Shuang Ying Meng lodged a complaint of professional misconduct. She is also suing the Keddies partners in the Supreme Court.

Mrs Meng was left a paraplegic after a bus crash in South Australia eight years ago. While her injuries were catastrophic, her legal case was relatively straightforward as there were no issues relating to liability. Her case was settled with the insurers without going to court.

However, Mrs Meng told the Herald she did not receive a bill from Keddies and it was not until she complained to the Legal Services Commissioner that she discovered Keddies had charged her $800,000 in legal fees. This was about a quarter of her total payout of $3.5 million, which was to provide medical expenses for her disability for the rest of her life. Legal experts estimated Keddies had charged Mrs Meng at least 10 times what was reasonable.

Last month Keddies, once the state's largest personal injury firm, was taken over by a rival firm, Slater and Gordon.

On October 20, six days before the takeover was announced, Mr Keddie wrote to Mrs Meng's solicitor, Stephen Firth, stating: "I wish to give you my sincere apology for what has occurred in your claim. As you may know, I [am] presently before the ADT regarding our legal costs and disbursements which were charged by my firm on the successful completion of your case. Although the sum of $180,000 was paid back to you previously, if the ADT decides that there is a different figure I have given my undertaking to the tribunal and I give my undertaking to you to refund this amount immediately with interest from December 21, 2005. I apologise for any inconvenience, stress and anxiety this whole episode may have caused you."

Mr Roulstone, who was the partner in charge of Mrs Meng's case, and Mr Barakat will move to Slater and Gordon once due diligence is is completed in early December.

Andrew Grech, the managing partner of Slater and Gordon, said he was aware of Mr Keddie's intention of accepting the blame at the tribunal but denied it was a condition of the takeover. His firm was satisfied with the professional conduct of Mr Barakat and Mr Roulstone.

The complaint against the solicitors is listed for mention before the tribunal on December 1 and the following day Mrs Meng's matter will be in the Supreme Court. A further 31 former clients are also suing Keddies.


June 13, 2008: The Herald breaks a story about dissatisfied Keddies clients, who accuse the firm of gross overcharging.

June 25, 2008: Keddies founding partner Russell Keddie is found guilty of professional misconduct for advertising his firm's services.

May 29, 2009: Disciplinary proceedings are launched by the Legal Services Commissioner against Keddies' managing partner Russell Keddie, partners Tony Barakat and Scott Roulstone and senior solicitor Philip Scroope.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Newspaper editor to sue over Warmist lies

As is normal with Murdoch media properties, "The Australian" tries to give both sides of politics a run. But ANY covering of climate skepticism evokes rage and abuse from devotees of the Warmist religion

The Australian's editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell, said he will sue journalism academic and prolific twitter user Julie Posetti for defamation.

This follows Posetti’s tweet yesterday from a journalism conference at the University of Technology Sydney in which Posetti quoted The Australian’s former rural reporter Asa Walhquist as allegedly saying "in the lead up to the election the Ed in Chief was increasingly telling me what to write".

Mitchell rejects the allegation and Walhquist has also denied it, saying she has never spoken to Mitchell about climate change.

Mitchell said his lawyers were given a brief yesterday. Posetti is a journalism lecturer at the University of Canberra. "I am not one who believes new media should be exempt from the normal laws of the land," Mitchell said. "Asa may or may not have said what the tweeter alleges. She denies to me that she did. But either way the allegations are a lie and Asa has admitted as much.

"There is not protection from the law in repeating accurately allegations falsely made. Asa works from home and I have neither seen her nor spoken to her in years, as anyone on the paper would attest."

The legal action comes after Mitchell contacted Walhquist yesterday after seeing the reported comments, also saying in an email to her that he had "never spoken" to her about climate change and “have never stood over you about ANY of your stories". "Indeed, I have not spoken to you in at least eight years. And I have never stood over people writing stories in 19 years as an editor."

Mitchell adds he is proud of the paper's environmental coverage. He said The Australian's editorials on climate change "would make it clear that for several years the paper has accepted man-made climate change as fact".

"It has supported market mechanisms to reduce carbon output for the best part of a decade. What people do not like is that I publish people such as Bjorn Lomborg. I will continue to do so, but would suggest my environment writer, Graham Lloyd, who is a passionate environmentalist, gets a very good run in the paper."

The tweets from Posetti yesterday included her quoting Walhquist as saying that writing on climate change for The Australian was "absolutely excruciating. It was torture".

Walhquist responded to Mitchell she had been quoted inaccurately and taken out of context and adding that "I do not think twitters from unnamed third parties should be regarded as an accurate news source. As a journalist I would never rely on information from such a source." "I would like to place on record the fact I have never had a conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, about climate change," Walhquist wrote. "In fact I have not had any conversations with Mr Mitchell on any subject for a number of years."

SOURCE. The tweets concerned are at the moment here

NSW poised to reject 'underprepared' national curriculum

NSW is set to upset plans for a national curriculum by refusing to sign up to it at a meeting of education ministers next month. The Education Minister, Verity Firth, received advice from the NSW Board of Studies that more time was needed for consultation in response to concerns raised by stakeholders.

It is understood Ms Firth will heed the advice and is preparing to reject the curriculum, which the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority will present at the meeting on December 8.

The Herald understands the Board of Studies has responded to concerns about a lack of consultation by the authority and the overall curriculum structure, including the times allotted to teach each subject and the capacity to cater for all students.

Ms Firth's decision is a blow to the federal Education Minister, Peter Garrett, as the meeting is the last chance for ministers to reach agreement before the NSW election in March.

The Coalition is widely expected to win power at the election, making the prospects of an agreement more difficult.

The federal government was counting on all education ministers signing up to the curriculum by year's end so that it could be implemented around the country by 2013.

The Board of Studies has consistently criticised drafts of the curriculum, saying it is inferior to the existing NSW curriculum.

Mr Garrett said last night that he had not seen the detail of the board's decision, but urged it to work with the curriculum authority to resolve problems. "This reform is too important to let it slide because of some minor concerns about one aspect. The Australian Curriculum will be a basic learning entitlement for all students in Australia, no matter where they live."

Barry McGaw, who chairs the authority board, said he had received mixed messages from the NSW government. He believed its stance would amount to a delay in introducing the curriculum rather than to its abandonment. "The other states are keen to sign up," he said.

A coalition of seven national principals' associations, representing public, independent and Catholic schools, issued a statement in support of a "truly national Australian curriculum".

The group, which includes the Australian Secondary Principals Association, is scheduled to meet with the curriculum authority in Sydney today to discuss the future of the proposal.

Sheree Vertigan, the president of the Secondary Principals Association, said the associations were "definitely committed to a national curriculum". "It will be really sad if one state is rejecting it," she said.

But Christine Cawsey, the president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, said she supported a delay in the introduction of a curriculum as it was important to give stakeholders more time for consultation to improve the content.

"The Board of Studies would not recommend such a serious decision to the minister without serious consideration about what still needs to be done."

The NSW opposition spokesman on education, Adrian Piccoli, said if the curriculum was not signed off by March 26, a Coalition government would support the development of a national curriculum in principle, but it would need to be as good as the NSW curriculum. "It needs more work," he said.


Federal government agency blew $10m pursuing Paul Hogan over tax case

All based on allegations about Hogan's "state of mind", would you believe?

THE Australian Crime Commission spent $10 million pursuing actor Paul Hogan, John Cornell and their financial adviser Tony Stewart, during its five-year criminal investigation into the trio.

The figure is more than half the total amount of $17.3m allocated to the ACC to investigate all Wickenby cases over that period.

The probe into Hogan, Cornell and Stewart was dubbed "Operation Youghal" within the ACC, and was one of nine separate probes into individuals or groups that it undertook.

The ACC announced this week that it had dropped its investigations into Hogan and Cornell, saying there was "insufficient prospects of securing convictions".

However, they are still being pursued by the Australian Taxation Office. The ACC told The Australian yesterday that it had spent "in the vicinity of $10m" on Operation Youghal, but an exact figure could not be given because some of the money overlapped with the other eight "operations".

Mr Stewart is believed to be still under investigation.

ACC chief executive John Lawler said yesterday: "It should also be noted that Operation Youghal is an ongoing criminal investigation. In my statement earlier this week, I made it clear that I was discontinuing the criminal investigation of Mr Hogan and Mr Cornell, but the investigation of the suspected facilitators of the tax-evasion schemes will continue."

The latest figures reveal that, as at the end of last month, Wickenby targets had been hit with $951.61m in tax bills, while $229.52m had been recouped. Taxpayers associated with Wickenby have since paid an additional average of about 276 per cent in tax, according to the figures.

Cornell and Hogan are considering seeking compensation from Canberra for the money they have spent on legal bills and the damage done to their "trashed reputations", according to their lawyer, Andrew Robinson.

While Hogan and Cornell are still being pursued by the ATO for massive tax bills, the decision by the ACC to drop its case could have an impact on talks that are under way with the tax office.

The bills date back to 1985, but the ATO is relying on Hogan's "state of mind" at the time - as told to the ATO by a former employee, John Gibb. Mr Stewart, who replaced Mr Gibb as Hogan's and Cornell's main financial adviser, recently told a court Mr Gibb was upset at being replaced.


Parents finally beat notorious Qld. Health bureaucracy and get to see top doctor

Marvellous what publicity will do

A COUPLE who fear their daughter could die from a mystery illness that killed their four-year-old son will this weekend meet the specialist they have been waiting months to see.

Andrew and Trudy Olive, from the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Mooloolah, have been overwhelmed by support following their heart-wrenching story in The Courier-Mail on Thursday.

Their son Tom died three months ago from an attack in which his body "turned on itself", destroying his muscle tissue.

They live in fear because their daughter Laura, 3, is showing some of the symptoms that Tom had, including aches and pains and bladder problems. Their heartfelt plea to Queensland Health and Health Minister Paul Lucas has resulted in a meeting being set up with the doctor they believe is "the best" to see regarding their case.

Mr Olive said they had been trying unsuccessfully to get together with Dr Jim McGill, Director of the Department of Metabolic Medicine at the Royal Children's Hospital, for months after being referred to him by their GP. Dr McGill is a paediatrician, clinical geneticist and Clinical Liaison for Division of Chemical Pathology, Pathology Queensland.

"This man is regarded as the best and we can't wait to meet him and give him all the information we have," Mr Olive said.

Sunday's meeting was arranged by Sunshine Coast Health Service district executive director Piotr Swierkowski who contacted them on Thursday. The Olives want everything possible to be done to safeguard Laura from the unidentified disease that killed their son.

Mrs Olive is also pregnant with their third child, adding to their concern.

The couple have been told that Tom died because his muscle cells were destroyed by an "episode", one of six they say he had in two years. Damage to his muscles was so acute, testing was of no use.

The Olives have learnt a sample had been sent to Paris, where scientists would look for a link to the LPIN1 gene, believed to have caused a handful of deaths in children.

The status of this testing is something that the Olives hope to raise with Dr McGill.


Another amazing government bungle

Bureaucrats just don't give a sh*t

On Friday, November 12, electrician Phil Cullen drove through the M2 toll plaza. His tag made four beeps, something Mr Cullen had never heard before.

He went home and logged on to his My RTA e-tag account and discovered his credit of $388 had disappeared, his credit card had been debited for more than $1000 and he had a debt of about $800. "To finish it, my tag was invalidated. All without my knowledge," Mr Cullen said.

On Monday, he rang the RTA contact centre. After what he said was two hours on the phone, he was told his e-tag had never been properly validated and he owed $2148.

Given Mr Cullen always paid his tolls and the error here was not his, he was understandably aggrieved. "I feel something has gone very wrong internally with my e-tag account," said Mr Cullen, who has four tags linked to his account.

A RTA spokeswoman said: "The RTA apologises for this initial error. The RTA is investigating the system error to ensure this problem does not occur again."

That reads like "newspeak" from the novel 1984. Something "ungood", as George Orwell would say, happened and the RTA's response was to raid Mr Cullen's bank account. Imagine if you or I did that -- helped ourselves to more than $1000 without asking? But the RTA thought nothing of it, even though it was their mistake.

When I said the RTA didn't think anything of it, that's not strictly correct. One person at the RTA thought something of it, advising Mr Cullen to contact the NSW Ombudsman about the matter. Which he has.


Vicious Asian bus driver gets away with it

Yet another rogue Brisbane bus driver. This is just going to encourage more of them

A BRISBANE City Council bus driver has been jailed, but released immediately, for causing horrific injuries to a 79-year-old passenger he assaulted for coming up 60 cents short on his fare.

The Brisbane District Court was today told Dennis Fath Chow assaulted Mato Plazino shortly after he boarded a bus at Chermside West and the pair argued after the pensioner failed to pay the full $1.20 fare about 9.30am on September 18, 2008.

The court was told Chow even refused to accept a 16-year-old school student's money -- when she tried to chip in $2 to cover Mr Plazino's fare.

Prosecutor Amanda Meisenhelter said Chow became enraged when Mr Plazino walked toward a seat after high school student Jacqueline Williams helped pay his fare and the pensioner accused Chow of wanting to "keep the money for himself."

She said Chow then blocked Mr Plazino from taking a seat, then remonstrated with the pensioner and pushed him. The court was told Mr Plazino then lost his balance, tumbled out of the bus on to the concrete footpath and fractured his skull, eye socket and sinus bone.

Chow, 40, a father of three, was sentenced to 12-months jail, to be served by way of intensive corrections order. In Queensland a person placed on an ICO is in effect being handed a jail sentence. However, an ICO allows the person the freedom to return and live as a normal member of the community, but under strict supervision by the Department of Corrective Services.

The court was told Mr Plazino was rushed to the Royal Brisbane Hospital where he was treated for the skull and facial fractures, lacerations to his face, hand and leg and various bruises. Ms Meisenhelter said after the incident Mr Plazino was diagnosed as suffering from mental health problems and has since been hospitalised.

More HERE (Mostly bullshit)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spectacular: England skipper Andrew Strauss falls in the first over of the Test at the Gabba

I don't really follow any sport but I live within earshot of the Gabba cricket ground and heard the roar of the crowd at the dismissal below. It's a perfect reply to the derision that the British tabloids have been directing at the Australian captain

AUSTRALIA has made a spectacular start to the opening Ashes Test dismissing England captain Andrew Strauss in the first over. After winning the toss and choosing to bat at the Gabba in Brisbane, Strauss was back in the pavilion after three minutes after square cutting a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery straight to Mike Hussey in the gully.

For all the talk of a greentop Gabba wicket, Australian captain Ricky Ponting said the strip looked a good one for batting.

But Ponting said there was some moisture in the surface to give the Australian fast men some encouragement in the first session. “If we bowl well and hold our catches I think we can do some damage before lunch,” Ponting said at the toss.


Europcar again

Tourist in attempted $8000 'rip off' by rogue carhire firm

A tourist has won a victory for the little man by being let off an $8000 rental car bill.

Paul Douglas-Denton, 60, was billed by Europcar for towing his rental car approximately 300 kilometres from Katherine to Darwin after vandals smashed the vehicle overnight outside his hotel in July, the Northern Territory News reported.

The company said the right to claim the money was contained in the fine print of the hire contact. But NT Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gary Clements said Europcar misinterpreted its own terms and conditions and was forced to back down. "We convinced the company that it was not a good idea to charge the customer,'' he said.

The car damage was beyond Mr Douglas-Denton's control.

Several rental car companies came under fire for "ripping off'' customers with excessive bills earlier this year.



Four current articles below

Cars, Cattle and Ethanol

The Carbon Sense Coalition today accused climate alarmists of scientific incompetence in promoting ethanol as an offset to animal emissions.

The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, was responding to claims by Mr Combet that agriculture (mainly cattle and sheep) “made up 23% of Australia’s emissions”.

“Why are emissions from cattle eating grain classed as bad whereas emissions from cars burning grain ethanol are good?

“Consider a paddock of corn. Most of the carbon in the growing plant comes from carbon dioxide in the air and is converted to plant material using solar energy via the magic of photosynthesis. Some comes from the atmosphere via microbes in the soil. “This plant material, either biomass or grain, can be fed to cattle or made into ethanol for motor fuel.

“Both cattle and cars then use an internal digestion/combustion process to extract the energy stored in the plant material.

“Both processes produce gaseous emissions. In cars, virtually every atom of ethanol carbon burnt produces one molecule of carbon dioxide. In cattle, some of the plant’s carbon is stored for a while in flesh and bones, and the rest is emitted as the natural gases carbon dioxide and methane. This methane is soon oxidised in the atmosphere to produce carbon dioxide.

“Over the life of a car or a cow, they both produce the same carbon emissions. Every atom of carbon extracted from the air by the green plant eventually returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the plant food. This is the cycle of life.

“It is therefore scientific incompetence or deliberate fraud by government climate alarmists to claim that consuming ethanol in cars is good and should be subsidised but consuming the same plant material in cows must be rationed and taxed.

“An ethanol industry propped up by subsidies and mandates is not sustainable. This industry damages taxpayers and pushes up the cost of grains, beef, pork, eggs, milk and cereals.

“Subsidising ethanol brings no environmental benefits and is the enemy of the poor and hungry of the world. Its special privileges should be immediately removed.”

Received by email from Viv Forbes [vforbes@bigpond.com]

A reply to ABC smears

In their usual way, Australia's national broadcasters have unleashed another attack on people who are not true believers in Global warming -- along the way showing their usual inability to set out a scientific case for their addled belief system.

The stalwarts of the ABC show were sloppy American Green/Left "historian" Naomi Oreskes and journalist Graham Readfearn. Jo Nova below has some comments on their effusions

The battle cry: the “skeptics” are shills of big oil, has become an own goal. The PR team for the catastrophic theory have no new evidence of Big Oil funding and thousands of people now point out that the UNskeptics were paid 3500 times as much (at least). So they are moving on…

the religiously devout believers can’t admit they were wrong, and nor can they look at the evidence, so what’s left? Post hoc random over-analysis of the irrelevant. Before, skeptics were paid hacks… and now they’re wrong because they … are ideologically against big government and regulation. From one ad hom to another.

And again, the ABC uses our taxes to promote the smear campaign, support neolithic reasoning, and does everything it can to stop people talking about scientific evidence (by spreading misinformation or slurs about all the characters on one side).

Oreskes and freelance writer Graham Readfearn can’t discuss the evidence (or lack of) for their favourite faith, but they spend a lot of time digging up irrelevant details instead.

Are man-made emissions a problem? How would we find the answer? Look not at sedimentary rocks but at stationery and submissions. As if the answer to tropical convective processes might be hidden on IPA letterhead, or in subliminal messages coded in the number of peer reviewed reports. It’s tea-leaves and rune-stones stuff, and people kid themselves that Blackberries or Androids make us modern, but the writing of people like Oreskes and Readfearn reminds us that human brains still carry software from the paleolithic.

They simply can’t string a reasoned scientific argument together, but instead reflexively resort to discussing motivations, character, ideology or just gossip about “who their friends are”.

Here’s Oreskes. She “knows” she’s right, she just has to figure why other people haven’t seen the light too:

“It’s part of this whole ideological program of challenging any science that could lead to government regulation, because it’s part of an ideological conviction that all regulation is bad, that any time the government steps in to ‘protect’ us from harm, that we’re on the slippery slope to socialism, and this is the ideology that you see underlying a kind of almost paranoid anti-communism. So even after the Cold War is over, these people are seeing reds under the bed.”

Ponder the inanity of “paranoid anti-communism?”

The Death Toll from far-left governments has been tagged at more than 100 million which is about three times higher than the current known death toll from AIDS. You can see how meaningless the Oreskes line-of-wordsmithing becomes. What’s the difference: paranoid anti-communism, or paranoid anti-AIDSism? The difference is, Oreskes won’t be trying to inanely badge or label the AIDS workers.

What is a rational fear if being afraid of mass murder is “paranoid”?

The double fallacy: When the ad hom isn’t even correct: Evidence matters so little to the smear campaigners that Readfearn doesn’t even bother to research his ad hominem targets:

"You can’t help but think that Roskam must have been chuckling to himself as he wrote that statement, given the paucity of actual peer-reviewed scientific research on climate change amongst the book’s contributors, which included Ian Plimer, Richard Lindzen, Nigel Lawson, William Kininmonth, Willie Soon, Christopher Monckton, Garth Paltridge plus the IPA’s own Alan Moran and Roskam himself".

Thus, hundreds of peer reviewed papers are described as a paucity. Richard Lindzen: 235 peer reviewed papers. Garth Paltridge: scores (in journals like Nature, J. Geophys. Res., J. Atmos. Sci., Q. J. Roy.Meteor. Soc), Willie Soon: dozens (Like Climate Research, Energy & Environment, and The Astrophysical Journal).

Ten minutes to google and Readfearn couldn’t be bothered. He apparently wants everyone to think that only people with peer reviewed climate papers should be listened to, but while he thinks climate scientists with hundreds of papers are worth mocking, he’s proud of his own climate science record. His opinions on the climate are worth televising… (According to him, and, of course, the ABC):

"Earlier this year, Lord Monckton was featured heavily in newspaper coverage when he conducted a speaking tour in towns and cities across the country, including a debate in Brisbane which was televised by the ABC (featuring yours truly). Monckton, like the majority of sceptics, has no science training and while he is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile sceptics, he has never had a peer-reviewed climate science paper published".

And Readfearn of course has not published a peer reviewed paper either. But he’s a journalist. Again, one of the anointed for whom the laws of logic part like the Red Sea.

On the plus side though, Readfearn is flexible – it’s not just ad hominem attacks and argument from authority — he can do other logical fallacies too. When he needs to, he can confuse cause and effect:

"At one point or another, pretty much every one of these climate sceptics (or sceptics of the need for action) have also been hosted by one or more of the US-based free-market think-tanks".

He think the “links” are meaningful as if correlation was causation.

The free market think tanks — shock me — approach people who have also come to similar conclusions. And passionate scientists not-so-surprisingly seek out groups and conferences of like-minded people.

Though as it happens the dastardly think tanks also approached Al Gore. The only difference is that Al was too scared to speak at one of the free market think tank events, even if they paid him. He knows he can’t answer their questions.

Oreskes and Readfearn’s ability to reason is so confused they can’t think their way out of a paragraph. You know you’ve found another taxpayer funded cesspit of reason when the writers can’t even pass their own flawed “tests”.


Green/Left attacking Australia's fishing indusrty

THE days of being able to buy fresh, local prawns are under threat from Federal and State Labor following the release of plans to prohibit prawn trawling in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker said.

The NSW Government yesterday announced a proposed new plan of management to expand the sanctuary zone from 12 to 20 per cent and to totally prohibit prawn trawling in the park within two years.

“The extreme actions of the NSW Government follow the Rudd Government’s announcement to further assess an area up to 80 kilometres off shore in order to establish a new Commonwealth Marine Reserve," mr Hartsuyker said. “The local commercial fishing industry understandably feels very threatened by both Federal and State Labor. “The NSW Government has now made it very clear that they want the commercial fishers gone. There is nothing balanced about this approach.

"Both Federal and State Labor want to rip the heart and soul out of the local commercial fishing industry. “If Labor gets its ways we will no longer be able to catch local prawns and consumers will have no choice but to purchase imported seafood."

Mr Hartsuyker said it would not only cost jobs, but would also be a boon for the seafood black market.

“Today’s announcement also highlights why the local fishing and tourism industries are so concerned about the process to establish commonwealth marine reserves," he said. “There are serious concerns that Federal Minister Peter Garrett will be guided by the extreme ideology in his department. "Those concerns are now well based given what the NSW Government has now announced.

“The flow on effect to commonwealth waters is scary. "Sustainable fishing is vital, but I believe it is wrong to blanket ban prawn trawling over the complete area.”

Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, has slammed the decision by NSW Minister Frank Sartor to place further restrictions on the Solitary Island Marine Park.

Mr Fraser said it was obvious this decision was being made in an order to garner Green preference in Labor-held marginal seats in Sydney such as Balmain and Marrickville. “The decision to ban prawn trawling in the marine reserve cannot be supported by any scientific evidence as prawn trawling is done in areas where there are no reefs, because reefs will damage fishing nets worth thousands of dollars," Mr Fraser said.

“I believe recreational fishers will also be severely impacted with sanctuary zones being increased from 12 per cent to 20 per cent as sanctuary zones are only the reef areas and the vast majority of reefs and islands are already sanctuary zones.

“This will mean that fishing competitions such as the Easter Classic could disappear altogether because if you can’t fish where the fish are, you can’t catch any fish and therefore, you can’t have a competition.”

Mr Fraser is urging Coffs Coast residents to make a submission objecting the proposal. “I totally agree with Mr Sartor when he says 87% of people favour the marine park, but if he locks it up to the extent that is being planned he will find that people’s support of the marine park will disappear," Mr Fraser said. “All sensitive areas are currently protected and commercial and recreational fishing can take place without damaging the Marine Park.

"My message to Mr Sartor is to stop destroying a recreational and commercial fishing industry in Coffs Harbour in order to gain preferences from the Greens in Sydney’s marginal seats.

“If the prawn and fisheries close we will have increasing imports, and industry sources have advised me that black market reef fish will be purchased by restaurants as they won’t be able to buy it locally.”


Coal: Realism trumps Warmism

Queensland to increase coal production by 80 per cent over next two decades

DESPITE global concern over climate change and carbon emissions, Queensland will increase coal production by almost 80 per cent over the next two decades, Premier Anna Bligh says.

Making her annual address to the Queensland Resources Council before an audience of 900 miners and business people from related industries today, Ms Bligh announced the Government's new coal plan. "The coal plan estimates that over the next 20 years, the Queensland coal industry has the potential to significantly increase its production of saleable coal from approximately 190 million tonnes per annum up to 340 million tonnes per annum," Ms Bligh said. "That is an increase of almost 80 per cent."

Ms Bligh said the plan outlined how demand for coal will outstrip all other fuels in absolute terms. "But 97 per cent of projected growth is expected to come from non-OECD countries like China and India," she said. "Developed countries on the other hand, like South Korea, are looking to reduce their reliance on coal."

She said South Korea will use Queensland gas to meet its growing energy demands. "I think it speaks volumes about the diversification of the Queensland resource industry and about Queensland as a mines and energy powerhouse of Australia and the region," Ms Bligh said.

Ms Bligh, responding to a "Lock the Gate" campaign launched by farmers in southern Queensland earlier this week, said the state's Strategic Cropping Land policy had been released for public discussion. She said there was a need to provide certainty for miners and farmers. "Government has an obligation to prevent the permanent alienation of the best of the best food producing country in Queensland."

Outside the QRC luncheon in Brisbane, Resources Minister Stephen Robertson said the Government had gone a long way to meeting the concerns of landholders who are objecting to the activities of coal and gas explorers on their land.

Mr Robertson said the Government had redressed the lack of balance, which had favoured miners. "New laws have been put in place to recognise the rights of landholders," he said. "I don't like to see people involved in this type of (protest) action when government has clearly demonstrated a preparedness to listen to their concerns and act on those concerns, and that's what we've done," Mr Robertson said.

The QRC also launched a website it says details the contribution mining makes to the Queensland economy, and it quickly drew fire from the Queensland Conservation Council. Toby Hutcheon, executive director of the QCC, said fossil fuel exports have a questionable future.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What world does this guy live in?

The Australian writer of Greek origin below argues that multiculturaliam has been "suffocated" though some vaguely defined lack of support. Since any criticism of multiculturalism was long branded as "racist", it seems to me that the exact opposite actually took place: Multicultuaralism received an oppressively large (and hence probably counterproductive) amount of support.

As with so many of these discussions, however, he appears blinded by the conventional Leftist assumption that all men are equal and that all groups are therefore equal too. The fact is that both people and groups are different, not equal (except perhaps in some religious sense). So it is not multiculturalism in general that is the problem but rather certain cultures -- crime prone Africans and Lebanese Muslims in particular. Nobody has any problem with such manifestations of multiculturalism as Lithuanian folk dancers

His whole logical problem is overgeneralization. Because Greeks and Italians have fitted in well, he assumes that (say) Africans will too -- a totally evidence-free assumption. Has he heard of the rates of crime, welfare dependency, educational failure and mental illness among blacks in Britain, for instance?

Sitting in the Norrkoping campus of the Linkoping University, Sweden, southwest of Stockholm, I am overwhelmed with a sense of wonder that the sun has begun setting at 1 pm. It will be dark by 3.30.

Though a clear, sunny day, snow is forecast for this evening and there is a type of cold that would make most Australians shiver.

In the corridors here, one of the central topics of conversation amongst staff and students is the rise of the far right, anti-immigration party – the Sweden Democrats – that received 5.7 percent of the votes and gained 20 seats in Parliament. Their motto, “responsible immigration policies” for Sweden is, according to one of my colleagues here, a euphemism for limiting Muslim migrants.

Many Swedes are in disbelief that such a party would take hold and it is a conversation that I join in carefully. In these discussions they proudly talk of the liberal attitudes reflected across the country: yes, there are problems, they say, but we all know what happens when you start signalling one minority group.

This rise of the Swedish right reflects a trend that is occurring across Europe riding on the back of anti-immigration rhetoric: Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Germany. Reading the tealeaves of her own demise, German Chancellor, Angela Merkal, to announce that ‘multiculturalism has utterly failed’. This echoes former Prime Minister, John Howard’s declaration that ‘multiculturalism has gone too far’ and that the Anglo-sphere needs to be proud of it achievements.

So, is multiculturalism dead and must it be killed off before we can be proud of ‘our’ achievements?

The answer is no on both fronts, In fact, multiculturalism could be more vibrant and alive than ever, it is just that it is slowly being suffocated through neglect and, to put it bluntly, outright lies.

To understand my position, let’s begin by with what multiculturalism actually is: it simply refers to the concept that several different cultures (rather than only one) can coexist peacefully and equitably. [Many can but will they all?]

Migration studies show us that when people arrive in a country, they tend to be attracted to where other recognisable migrants are. As such, Italians coming to Sydney in the 1950s where attracted to Leichhardt and Greeks (in the 1960s) to Marrickville. As time passes, the children of migrants tend to blend into the various other cultures, including the dominant one, and move on.

This is what we have seen happen and will continue to happen. In fact, the children of most migrants want nothing more than to be part of the broader culture – something their parents support because this is exactly why they come to the new country.

Yes, there will always those who resist this, but does this mean that we throw out a policy that has served us well? That would be ridiculous. Think of it this way, there are those who refuse to accept that passive smoking creates health problems – do we abandoned our anti-smoking laws?

Multiculturalism has served us well. Australia has developed into a complex and vibrant society and we have all benefited from it: from the everyday cultural enjoyment of food, music, theatre and dance, to the economic connections that have been built, and the way we are better equipped with dealing with challenges.

So if things are so great, why am I arguing that multiculturalism is being suffocated?

Multiculturalism succeeds for various reasons including an egalitarian approach (that is, giving migrants equal rights), support from major parties and adequate funding of services for migrants. So, for multiculturalism to work, we need to invest into the people arriving as well as in those who are already here. We need to make sure that there is sufficient infrastructure, housing, education and politicians willing to stand up to misinformation.

Anti-immigration parties have emerged because many of these aspects of our society have been neglected. If we combine this with a specific globalisation agenda that focuses on competition rather than cooperation, the world appears unstable and many of us feel neglected. It is easy for this sense of instability to be blamed towards outsiders arriving.

In addition, entire industries have been left to die – such as manufacturing. This is not the fault of migration – but follows the abandoning of any real industrial policies.

Thirdly, we have major political parties that seem to be courting the anti-immigrant sentiment rather than confronting them. Recently, Tony Abbott has been using both the population debate and the refugee boats as a way to deliver an anti-immigration method – hardly surprising given most of his policies where developed under John Howard.

Julia Gillard and the ALP have failed to respond in any meaningful way: seeming to be satisfied in letting Abbott set the agenda.

Declaring multiculturalism dead will not solve any of our problems – it will simply create new ones.

In 1996, Pauline Hanson declared that ‘Asians’ would swamp us? It has not happened.

Forty years before that we were worried about communists would swamp us. Now, when someone declares their support for communist ideals they are considered ‘cute’.

Today we seem to be focussed on the entire Muslim population as potential terrorists who are not ‘fitting in’ and will soon, you guessed it, ‘swamp us’.

It has nothing to do with multiculturalism failing – and much to do with politicians taking advantage of dissatisfaction of their own policy weaknesses to focus attention elsewhere.


The bungling bullies of Qld. Health once again

This whole affair is basically incomprehensible from a rational perspective. Why have they not simply gone back to their old payroll system when the new one has failed so ignominiously? Maybe the old one was not perfect but it was miles better than the present unending debacle. Only bureaucratic stubbornness can explain the present situation.

And stubborn and arrogant bureaucrats they certainly are at Qld. Health. I hear lots about the Qld. Health bureaucracy that's not in the papers -- and it is all appalling tales of waste, stupidity and arrogance. It wouldn't last 5 minutes as a business.

A hospital system that cannot even pay its staff correctly would be the stuff of comedy if it were not so serious. But that's what you get when you have a bureaucracy that has been metastasizing since 1944 -- when Ned Hanlon introduced "free" hospitals to Qld.

A PROMINENT Brisbane doctor is under investigation for fraud after accepting a hardship payment during the Queensland Health payroll disaster. The investigation into the highly respected doctor has angered the medical fraternity, which says he was denied natural justice after QH referred him to police before discussing the allegations with him first.

The department has since given the doctor a "qualified apology" for the distress caused but last night confirmed the investigation was ongoing.

The allegations risk further inflaming a debacle which worsened yesterday when the Bligh Government confirmed that it would spend $209 million to fix the botched system. Spending cuts or borrowings will be needed to raise the funds, which are more than three times the cost of the initial system. The Government yesterday admitted the problems, which it initially advised would take weeks to fix, would not be rectified before the next state election.

Health Minister Paul Lucas said $107 million would go towards extra payroll staff and the rest on paying for software, contractors, advisers and information technology experts.

He said the money would not come out of Queensland Health's operational budget but refused to say whether it would come from cuts or borrowings. But a confidential draft memo leaked to the Opposition details cuts already being considered by one health district.

QH metro south district chief David Theile outlined 14 areas where services could be cut, including closing palliative care beds, reducing overtime, delaying hospital repairs and leaving positions vacant. "Payroll impacts are continuing to distract our expenditure and these effects are not factored into our starting deficit," he said. "In this environment the services we currently perform need to be capped."

Mr Lucas insisted Dr Theile was referring to payroll in only an "oblique" fashion and the system's costs would be absorbed by the corporate, rather than the operational, section of the health budget.

Queensland Health last night confirmed a Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital doctor was being investigated despite the department's Director-General Mick Reid last week giving him a "qualified apology for any unnecessary distress" the police probe had caused. The first the doctor was aware of the fraud allegations was when he was contacted by Fortitude Valley police.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Gino Pecoraro said Queensland Health had failed to give the senior doctor natural justice by referring him to police for investigation without discussing the issue with him first. "If this well trusted doctor was afforded an opportunity to talk about the issue and to explain it, then it would never have got this far," Dr Pecoraro said.

The AMA and the doctor had the impression the matter had been resolved after a conversation with Mr Reid last week. "This is just another example of how the communication process between Queensland Health and doctors has failed," Dr Pecoraro said.

But QH deputy director-general Michael Walsh said the department had a legal obligation to investigate suspected official misconduct. "The matter has not been finalised and is still under investigation," Mr Walsh said.

RBWH medical staff association chairwoman Dana Wainwright would not comment on details of the case yesterday but said it had caused "significant grief". "It's an appalling thing for an employer to do," she said. Dr Wainwright said doctors were still having trouble understanding their payslips, eight months after the introduction of the payroll system.

Thousands of doctors, nurses and other health workers have been left with incorrect pays since the new system was brought on-line in March.


Australia's arrogant medical regulators take another big tumble

The arrogant bitches (e.g. Rita Maclachlan and Fiona Cumming) at the TGA thought they knew it all -- and to hell with evidence and to hell with people's jobs. No word so far about any of them being penalized for their grossly improper behaviour -- even though one of them even shredded notes in an attempt to hide their deliberations. The taxpayer is just left with a $100m bill for their high-handed actions -- $50m in 2008 and another $50m now

A SETTLEMENT, believed to be more than $50 million, has been reached in the Pan Pharmaceuticals class action against the federal government. The settlement, announced yesterday, brings to a close a string of legal suits since 2003, and is belated vindication for the company's founder, Jim Selim, who died earlier this year after a stroke and battle with leukaemia.

Mr Selim had been giving evidence in the Federal Court in the months before his death. Terms of settlement are confidential.

In 2003, Pan boasted "the largest product offering of its kind in the world", with 4500 formulations of tablets, gels, liquids, creams and powders on offer, when it became the subject of a huge product recall.

In April that year the Therapeutic Goods Administration suspended Pan's manufacturing licence and recalled everything it had manufactured in the past year. Its investigation into Pan was sparked by reports the company's Travacalm product was causing hallucinations in some people. The company collapsed within months.

In 2008 Mr Selim received a $50 million settlement from the federal government.

About 165 of Pan's customers, creditors and sponsors joined a class action, led by PharmaCare, seeking their own payments from the government and the TGA, saying they were left $120 million out of pocket by the action taken by authorities. Three other companies ran their own cases alongside it.

The litigation funder, IMF, said if the settlement was approved by the court they would receive $24 million which would generate a profit after overheads but before tax of $17 million.

Litigation funders generally receive about one-third of proceeds of settlement, making the settlement in favour of the class action more than $50 million. "Any settlement is a compromise from all parties concerned," said the executive director of IMF, John Walker. "[In] this particular dispute, I think everybody involved ought to be happy with the outcome."

Pan's associates had accused the authorities of negligence and misfeasance of public office and some are claiming for a loss of share value, which lawyers for the TGA said there was no legal authority for.

Mr Walker hoped an application for approval would be before the court before year's end.


Average Australians well aware of economic case against more immigration

By Ross Gittins, a generally Left-leaning economist

The Big Australia issue has gone quiet since the election but it hasn't gone away. It can't go away because it's too central to our future and, despite Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott's rare agreement to eschew rapid population growth, the issue remains unresolved.

This year Rebecca Huntley of Ipsos, a global market research firm, and Bernard Salt of KPMG, a financial services firm, conducted interviews with business people and discussions with 13 groups of consumers, showing them two markedly different scenarios of what Australia could look like in 2020.

In the "measured Australia" scenario, governments limited population growth, focused on making our activities more environmentally sustainable and limited our economic links with the rest of the world.

In the "global Australia" scenario, governments set aside concerns about the environment, promoted rapid economic and population growth, and made Australia ever more a part of Asia.

Not surprisingly, the business people hated measured Australia and loved global Australia. But even though global Australia was described in glowing terms - ignoring the environment apparently had no adverse effects - ordinary people rejected it. And although measured Australia was painted in negative terms - all downside and no upside - there were aspects of it people quite liked.

The message I draw is that if governments keep pursuing rapid growth to please business they'll encounter increasing resentment and resistance from voters.

Considering the human animal's deep-seated fear of foreigners, it's not surprising resentment has focused on immigration. It's clear from the way in the election campaign both sides purported to have set their face against high migration that they're starting to get the message.

But at the moment they're promising to restrict immigration with one hand while encouraging a decade-long, labour-consuming boom in the construction of mines and gas facilities with the other. And this will be happening at a time when the economy is already close to full employment and baby boomers retire as the population ages.

Their two approaches don't fit together. And unless our leaders find a way to resolve the contradiction there's trouble ahead.

Business people support rapid population growth, which really means high immigration; there's little governments can do to influence the birth rate, because they know a bigger population means a bigger economy. And in a bigger economy they can increase their sales and profits.

That's fine for them, but it doesn't necessarily follow that a bigger economy is better for you and me. Only if the extra people add more to national income than their own share of that income will the average incomes of the rest of us be increased. And that's not to say any gain in material standard of living isn't offset by a decline in our quality of life, which goes unmeasured by gross domestic product.

The most recent study by the Productivity Commission, in 2006, found that even extra skilled migration did little or nothing to raise the average incomes of the existing population, with the migrants themselves the only beneficiaries.

This may explain why, this time, economists are approaching the question from the other end: we're getting the future economic growth from the desire of the world's mining companies to greatly expand Australia's capacity to export coal, iron ore and natural gas, but we don't have sufficient skilled labour to meet that need and unless we bring in a lot more labour this episode will end in soaring wages and inflation.

Peter McDonald, a leading demographer at the Australian National University, argues that governments don't determine the level of net migration, the economy does. When our economy's in recession, few immigrants come and more Aussies leave; when the economy's booming, more immigrants come and fewer Aussies leave. Governments could try to resist this increase, but so far they've opted to get out of the way.

To most business people, economists and demographers, the answer to our present problem is obvious: since economic growth must go ahead, the two sides of politics should stop their populist pandering to the punters' resentment of foreigners.

But it seems clear from the Ipsos discussion groups that people's resistance to high immigration focuses on their concerns about the present inadequacy of public infrastructure: roads, transport, water and energy. We're not coping now, what would it be like with more people?

And the punters have a point. In their instinctive reaction to the idea of more foreigners they've put their finger on the great weakness in the economic case for immigration.

As economists know - but don't like to talk or even think about - the reason immigration adds little or nothing to the material living standards of the existing population is that each extra person coming to Australia - the workers and their families - has to be provided with extra capital equipment: a home to live in, machines to use at work and a host of public infrastructure such as roads, public transport, schools, hospitals, libraries, police stations and much else.

The cost of that extra capital has to be set against the benefit from the extra labour. If the extra capital isn't forthcoming, living standards - and, no doubt, quality of life - decline.

If we don't build the extra homes - as we haven't been doing for some years - rents and house prices keep rising, making home ownership less affordable. To build the extra public facilities, governments have to raise taxes and borrow money. But they hate raising taxes and both sides of federal politics have sworn to eliminate government debt.

The interviews and discussion groups revealed both business people and consumers to be highly doubtful about the ability of governments - particularly state governments - to provide the infrastructure we need. As well they might be.