Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tragedy of sick baby girl who died hours after doctor gives all-clear to go home

One wonders what the doctor was thinking.  Was he manic or something?  When my son had gastro once in his childhood, I took him to a leading private hospital where he was immediately put on a drip  -- despite him not having any gross symptoms, as the child below did.  My son made a rapid recovery

A HEARTBROKEN mother whose baby died hours after seeking medical help told an inquest she felt her fears that her daughter was dehydrated were dismissed by a doctor.

Olivia Jean Johnson, 11 months, died in May 2011 from dehydration at Balcanoona station home, about 105km east of Leigh Creek, in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Deputy State Coroner Anthony Schapel yesterday opened the inquest, in Port Augusta, into the infant's death. Olivia's mother, Melissa Hands, told the inquest she took her to Leigh Creek - two hours away - after two days of diarrhoea and vomiting.

Ms Hands said she was worried Olivia was dehydrated, but Dr Geoffrey Cox had reassured her that was not the case and sent them home after a five to 10-minute consultation.  "I said, 'I think she's dehydrated because of the dark rings around her eyes'. And he said, 'Oh no, she's not'. I went 'OK, well how can you tell that' and he said 'by her lips'," Ms Hands said.

"I thought he would want to keep us in or send us to Port Augusta and that's when he cut me off and said: 'Oh no, it's just a gastro bug'."

The inquest heard Dr Cox suggested Olivia take Gastrolyte and Panadol to help control her symptoms and told Ms Hands to return should the condition worsen.

Ms Hands said her daughter had survived hernia surgery after being born seven weeks prematurely. She said because of that, she was particularly sensitive about any unhealthy signs.

The inquest heard once home from Leigh Creek, Olivia stopped breathing about 7.30pm.

Ms Hands and Olivia's father, Wade Johnson, performed CPR for about two hours before paramedics arrived. They failed to revive her.


Internet data tracking proposal seen as 'a police state'

PROPOSED laws that would allow the web and telecommunications data of all Australians to be stored for two years have been dubbed "characteristic of a police state".

The federal government has sent its contentious discussion paper on changes to the national security legislation to a parliamentary inquiry rather than introduce it as legislation. In July, the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, acknowledged the privacy and financial costs of the scheme, saying "the case has yet to be made" for the controversial plan.

In a heated submission to that inquiry, Victoria's Acting Privacy Commissioner, Anthony Bendall, dubbed the proposals "characteristic of a police state", arguing "it is premised on the assumption that all citizens should be monitored".

"Not only does this completely remove the presumption of innocence which all persons are afforded, it goes against one of the essential dimensions of human rights and privacy law: freedom from surveillance and arbitrary intrusions into a person's life," he said.

The government says its proposals are under consideration only, and it has sought the views of the multi-party inquiry on the plans in its discussion paper.

These include allowing authorities to access anyone's computer to get to a suspect's device, or to "enter a third-party premises for the purposes of installing a surveillance device".

It is also considering increasing the scope of search warrants from 90 days to six months and establishing an "authorised operations scheme" to protect ASIO officers from civil or criminal liability.

The government says telecommunications intercept laws, which date from 1979, have become hopelessly outdated.

But civil liberties groups and telcos have slammed the proposals in submissions to the inquiry.

The Law Council of Australia said if the wide range of proposals were adopted, they would "constitute a very significant expansion of the powers of Australia's law enforcement and intelligence agencies". It questioned whether this was necessary given the "extensive catalogue" of powers the agencies already had.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre said the legislation was unnecessary and posed a threat to privacy rights.

"Extension of these powers to people not suspected of any crime who, for example, happen to live in property adjoining that of a suspect, is disproportionate to the purpose that covert search warrants are intended to achieve and is an unjustifiable incursion of the right to privacy," the centre said.

The internet provider iiNet said the government had failed to demonstrate how current laws were failing or how criminals and terrorists posed a threat to networks, and said asking carriers to intercept and store customers' data for two years could make them "agents of the state" and increase costs.

A joint submission from telco industry groups said companies were "naturally predisposed to protecting [their] infrastructure" without government requiring them to do so. Further, it argued, it would cost between $500 million and $700 million to keep data for two years. It called for full compensation from the government's security agencies.

The Australian Federal Police and the Australian Taxation Office were among the few supporting the proposal to retain all telecommunications data.

The ATO said the proposal would be consistent with European practices and that being able to access real-time telecommunications data would allow it to "respond more effectively" to attempts to defraud the Commonwealth.

The AFP said interception capabilities were increasingly being "undermined" by fundamental changes to the telecommunications industry and communications technologies.


Australian govt.  denies new asylum-seeker policy not working

Australia said Tuesday its new policy to deter asylum-seekers by shipping them to small Pacific islands would take time to work, after figures showed more than 1,000 boatpeople had arrived since it was adopted.

Canberra announced its intention to transfer asylum-seekers to tiny Nauru and Papua New Guinea on August 13 and since then 18 boats carrying 1,072 people have arrived, according to releases from Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen rejected the idea that the new approach designed to crack down on people-smugglers and deter refugees from making the dangerous boat journey was not working.

"It's not having an effect yet, but it does take time to work," Bowen told radio station 2SM.

"It will become more effective when we actually have planes going to Nauru and PNG."

Australia has said that people now arriving by boat without a visa run the risk of transfer to a regional processing country. The new policy applies to those who arrived after August 13.

But the camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, which will eventually have a total capacity of 2,100 people, are not yet up and running.

The temporary processing facility on Nauru being built by the Australian military is expected to hold some 500 people by the end of September.

Offshore processing is a sensitive issue in Australia, and is likely to be discussed by leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum, which gets under way this week.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard adopted the policy after months of bitter political debate and after several boats capsized while making the treacherous crossing to Australia and dozens of people died.

The government wants to shut down people-smugglers bringing asylum-seekers to Australia from transit hubs in places such as Indonesia amid an influx of arrivals originally from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

More than 8,800 asylum-seekers have arrived on 134 boats since the start of the year, surpassing the 2010 record of 134 boats carrying 6,555 people.

Government minister Brendan O'Connor said an increase in arrivals had been anticipated as people-smugglers "lied to those that they wanted to lure onto those vessels, in many cases unseaworthy vessels".

"That's happening now as they tell them to get in quick," he told Sky News.

O'Connor said he still believed there would be a "very significant decline in these irregular maritime arrivals" as a result of the new policy.

The policy signals a return to the policies of the previous conservative government, which sent asylum-seekers to Nauru and Manus but which center-left Labor rolled back soon after taking office in late 2007.


Gun owners set for a win in Queensland

MOVES by the State Government to cut red tape for prospective gun owners will put the public at risk of more gun violence, the Queensland Police Union has warned.

In the wake of the Robina Shopping Centre shooting on the Gold Coast, Police Minister Jack Dempsey yesterday announced a new panel comprising gun advocates, including a major firearms importer, would lead the Government crackdown on illegal gun use.

However, union president Ian Leavers said Queenslanders were just as likely to get shot by a legal firearm user, which was the case for Norm Watt and Perry Irwin - two police officers fatally wounded since 2000.

"A reduction in red tape around gun ownership will simply mean more people will die - it's as simple as that," Mr Leavers said.

"Since 2000, half the police gunned down in the line of duty were killed by licensed firearms owners. If anything, we shouldn't reduce red tape for gun owners but increase it.

"Red tape in this instance means risk mitigation and having appropriate safeguards, which we want to keep in place."

Panel members include Firearms Dealers Association of Queensland president Robert Nioa, Paul Feeney from the Queensland Shooters Association, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia president Geoff Jones, Shooters Union secretary Rob Harrold, International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting chairperson Dr Samara McPhedran and David Kelly of Halls Firearms.

Announcing the panel today, Police and Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey said it would advise on reducing red tape, delays and bureaucracy legitimate firearm owners face when applying for a new licence or weapon.

"The current system inconveniences legal firearms users, like sporting shooters and primary producers, while illegal firearms users are inadequately punished for their disregard of the law," Mr Dempsey said.

"I have created this panel to advise what legal firearms users require and any improvements that are needed, so they can safely enjoy their sport without experiencing mountains of forms and months of delays."

Mr Nioa, who operates Nioa Trading and is Bob Katter's son-in-law, welcomed the panel's creation.

"The Minister has indicated that he will be looking at ways of reducing red tape for licensed firearm owners, whilst improving public safety by targeting criminal use of illegal firearms. These are objectives I wholeheartedly endorse," said Mr Nioa.

Last year Mr Nioa threatened to launch a class action against the previous State Government over the failure of an online permit application system.  A huge backlog of applications created delays for dealers, and a significant loss of income.

Mr Jones said he was heartened by Mr Dempsey's "positive actions".

"SSAA Qld believes that the current firearm's licensing legislation and system is not evidence based and does little to contribute to public safety or the public interest," Mr Jones said.  "It is misdirected, unwieldy, costly, error ridden and is rapidly becoming unworkable."

Dr McPhedran also commended the move.  "I am especially pleased that the Minister recognises the ever increasing number of women active in the Queensland firearms community, and has ensured women are represented on his panel," Dr McPhedran said.

"This is an important step towards a more practical, common sense approach to firearms management in Queensland."


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