Sunday, February 06, 2011

Milk Fascists

Why can't the do-gooders let people take their own risks if they want to? I drank raw milk for a time in my childhood with no visible ill-effects. It did taste better. Most of us kids got TB from it but hardly noticed. We were all healthy country kids so it was just another childhood illness akin to flu which came and quickly went -- leaving us immunized against TB for the rest of our lives. The milk was a very pleasant vaccine.

Dairy inspection standards are now however much stricter than the negligible ones of my far-off childhood so any infection these days is a tiny risk -- and we all take risks

The thirst for raw milk straight from the cow's udder has created a clandestine market among consumers who say it is healthier and tastes better. However, food authorities are determined to stamp out what they say is a highly dangerous and illegal practice.

Peter Melov, of Bondi, was recently fined $53,000 for selling raw milk and raw-milk products through a now-defunct organisation, Global Sov. The products were sold online and at an organic food market in Bondi Junction. "Everyone was coming in asking us for raw milk, and a few shops in Bondi had it, so I thought 'I'll just sell it'," Mr Melov said.

Selling unpasteurised milk and cheese for human consumption is illegal, but it is available to buy under names like "bath milk" in certain health-food shops and markets. The Sun-Herald understands some raw-milk aficionados have exploited this apparent loophole, buying "bath milk" for drinking. Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said companies selling raw-milk products were putting lives at risk. "There is sound scientific evidence pointing to the risks associated with consuming raw milk," he said.

Mr Melov, who was found guilty in Downing Centre Local Court of 43 breaches of the Food Act, said he had received no complaints from customers, and the NSW Food Authority had not warned him that he was doing anything wrong. He would not risk selling raw milk again, he said. "It was like we had been dealing drugs. "If we had just got a phone call, we would have complied completely with the Food Authority."

Medical microbiologist Dr Vitali Sintchenko, of Westmead Hospital, said there were sound reasons why selling raw milk was banned. "There are potential pathogens and toxins present in raw milk that can be life-threatening," he said.

Cheesemaker Will Studd has advocated changes to the legislation banning raw milk. "If we have such a healthy dairy industry, what is everybody so concerned about?" he asked. "Why aren't consumers allowed to enjoy milk in its natural state?" With the right regulation, there would not be any alarm about consuming raw milk and its products, he argued.

Fellow cheesemaker Franck Beaurain does not think it is necessary to relax existing regulations. "I really believe you can do a good job with pasteurised milk. I can't say it [raw milk] tastes better than pasteurised."


Melbourne council flies "gay pride" flag instead of Australian flag

ST KILDA'S council is fending off flak over its decision to hoist a gay pride flag in place of the Australian flag. There are three flagpoles on most of the council’s town halls, but this week, while it kept flying the local and the national Aboriginal flags, the Australian flag was taken down. “The gay pride flag replaces the Australian flag, which is at the highest mast head,” City of Port Phillip mayor Rachel Powning confirmed this morning.

In a feisty interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell program today, the mayor denied suggestions it was degrading the Australian flag. “It doesn’t reflect in any way a view by council that does not think the Australian flag is an important national symbol,” she said. But not everyone agrees, with the council accused of pandering to minority groups by flying the gay community flag above other town halls.

Port Phillip Council's move to give the rainbow flag priority in the lead up to Sunday's Pride March in St Kilda has sparked outrage. RSL state president Maj Gen David McLachlan said councils should realise that they represent all Australians and not one particular community group.

“Whether people are heterosexual or homosexual or alternate they are Australians and the primacy of the flag in protocol is the Australian flag and that should be flown before all other flags," he said.

British Australian Community president Barrie Hunt said the move was insulting to the majority of Australians especially as two indigenous flags had been allowed to keep flying. “I can't see why they can't leave the Australian flag up," he said. “Take down the indigenous flags and put up the gay pride ones and the Australian flag. What's wrong with that?"

But Port Phillip Mayor Rachel Powning said the only protocol issue was that no flag could be raised above the Australian flag. “So what we do is take down the Australian flag temporarily prior to the Pride March and raise the rainbow flag," she said. “The important thing is that we always have the Australian flag on display in the council chamber which is the most important area in any town hall."

Cr Powning questioned why the flag issue was only raised when the council honoured the gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender communities. “It makes me wonder why people raise the issue at this time because we replace the Australian flag on United Nations Day, Sorry Day and Naidoc (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week," she said.

Cr Powning confirmed that the Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag were still flying in the lead up to the Pride March. “We think this is a very important event to support,” she said.

She said the council was following its own protocol on the issue, which allowed the Australian flag to be taken down in exceptional circumstances. “The protocol states that the Australian flag will be flown from the highest pole on every day of the year from all of our town halls, with the exception of a number of events including … pride march.”

A similar exception applied to United Nations day, Sorry Day and NAIDOC week, she said, although the policy was silent on how long those flags could be flown instead of the Australian flag. “Many of our residents are in fact gay people. And what we’re doing is sending a message to our residents that diversity is very important to the City of Port Phillip.”

She said the Australian flag continued to be unfurled in the council chamber.

The Pride March, held from noon this Sunday, February 6, from Fitzroy St to the Catani Gardens aims to support the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.


Greenie ideology hurts kids

Air conditioning causes global warming so must be stopped, you see

PARENTS from hundreds of schools have resorted to paying for basic resources such as airconditioning, even while the federal government's Building the Education Revolution has spent millions on new "green" classrooms with only natural ventilation.

As temperatures reached 42.2 degrees in Sydney yesterday – and after a record run of extremely hot days – the NSW Parents and Citizens' Associations said families were commonly being asked to fund cooling that should be publicly funded.

"It is a serious health and safety issue," said NSW Primary Principals Association president Jim Cooper. He said more buses and trains had airconditioning than classrooms, but children and teachers had to endure six hours in the heat, not half an hour. "The bottom line is it's very difficult to concentrate and focus when you're in a room with a temperature of 35 degrees-plus."

But parents were asked not only to buy the airconditioners but to fund their maintenance and contribute to the power bills, said Sharryn Brownlee of the Central Coast P&C.

Only 30 per cent of public schools have air-conditioning provided by the Department of Education. Just 20 per cent of new classrooms built under the BER have air-conditioning systems. The Department of Education only provides airconditioning in heat zones with a mean January average temperature of above 30 degrees.

But the NSW Teachers Federation president, Bob Lipscombe, said airconditioners should be installed in all classrooms. "It’s extraordinary in this day and age, when just about every public building and every private building requires airconditioning, that classrooms do not get it as a matter of course," Mr Lipscombe said. "The Department is being unreasonable to expect teachers to work in temperatures in the high 30s."

The NSW P&C president Helen Walton said: "It’s not just heaters and airconditioners. We are talking about raising money for everything from providing boxes of tissues in classrooms to paying for extra staff. That’s completely unacceptable." Her association estimates several hundred schools have self-funded airconditioning over the past few years across NSW.

Mr Cooper, from the Principals Association, said funds raised by parents contributed to the purchase of six new airconditioners at his school in Albion Park, near Wollongong. "It was a lot of money for us but it was regarded as a high priority for the children," he said.

Berowra Public School, in Sydney’s north, and Havenlee Public School, near Nowra, have both raised thousands of dollars to put towards airconditioning. A survey by the Australian Education Union found 92 per cent of NSW schools had engaged in fundraising in the past year. "The [schools] which are most affected are the ones which sit just outside the designated heat areas and aren’t eligible for air conditioning despite having very high temperatures throughout summer," Mr Cooper said.

Mosquitoes in the state’s north meant "teachers can’t leave the doors and windows open for ventilation so conditions just become stifling".

Classrooms designed under the BER use passive temperature control techniques such as insulation and natural ventilation.


Responsible management of "stimulus" funds 'may have prevented flood levy'

Mismanagement of the government's controversial school halls program has resulted in $2.6 billion of taxpayer-funded waste that could have struck out the need for a temporary flood levy, says the federal opposition.

Speaking in a Senate hearing yesterday, Liberal frontbencher Brett Mason said cost data for the Building the Education Revolution scheme showed billions could have been saved if state-run projects had been completed as efficiently as those done by independent or Catholic education authorities.

"Based on the taskforce's own data, if the state governments in NSW, Victoria and Queensland were as efficient in achieving the same price per square metre as the independent school authorities in these three states, the taxpayers would have saved as much as $2.6bn," Senator Mason said.

"If they were as efficient as the Catholic authorities, the saving could have been around $1.5bn and now, because she has wasted so many billions of dollars, Ms Gillard is forced to slap people with another tax."

Queensland, NSW and Victoria account for roughly 70 per cent of school hall projects under the BER scheme, with 19 per cent of the 23,714 total projects nationwide yet to be completed. Cost per square metre was about 50 per cent greater in state schools than independent ones and about 30 per cent greater in Catholic schools.

The Gillard government has announced a $1.8bn flood levy, budget cuts and project deferrals to pay for flood reconstruction.

Head of the BER implementation taskforce Brad Orgill, who fronted the Senate hearing yesterday, did not dispute the figures but put the disparities down to "good and bad systemic differences". These included access to a school board and greater parental involvement between independent, Catholic and state-run schools.

"I suspect the differences between the government's ability to produce value for money as opposed to Catholic or independent schools goes to the fundamental differences between the three authorities," he said. "I stand absolutely by the data . . . but there are systemic differences . . . which I think are important."


1 comment:

Paul said...

United Nations day??? What the hell is THAT about!!