Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Is this true?

It sounds believable and it is mentioned a couple of times on the net but I think it needs confirmation

The first group of asylum seekers have been transferred from Christmas Island to Nauru, as part of new offshore processing arrangements.







ASIC loses another one

Background here.  ASIC was heavily criticized in the Federal Court but was too childish to heed it.  They can really be goons at times.  Wasting taxpayers' money seems to be all they're good at

The High Court's decision to clear Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest of allegations he misled investors represents a major defeat for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

ASIC had filed a civil suit against Mr Forrest over comments he made in 2004 and 2005 when he was chief executive of FMG.  It was alleged that he misled investors when he said he had "framework agreements" with Chinese entities to build Fortescue's iron ore project in the Pilbara.

WA resources analyst Tim Treadgold says ASIC was persecuting Mr Forrest and that its case was a complete waste of time.

"I think the whole case was flawed from the day they started it and there's been no end of unpopularity with ASIC and others voicing that opinion, but I think they completely wasted their time and our money," he said.

"It's astonishing that someone at ASIC decided to persecute Forrest as much as prosecute him because a reasonable man's reading of those announcements made with Chinese companies was that Forrest was telling the truth to the best of his knowledge.

"He got badly let down by the Chinese on the other side of the deal. To me it was wake-up call of what it means to do business with a Chinese partner - just take care.

"And then to get hauled into court, the way he was, and for the whole process to drag on for as long as it has requires a pretty fulsome explanation from ASIC as to what game it was playing."

The full bench of the Federal Court dealt Mr Forrest a blow last year when it said he had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.  But Tuesday's High Court decision supported an earlier ruling that Mr Forrest and Fortescue had not misled investors.

The High Court said Fortescue and the Chinese state-owned entities had entered into agreements that each intended to be binding, and that representing them as such was not false or misleading.

Minter Ellison consultant and former Supreme Court judge Bob Austin says Mr Forrest could have been banned as a company director had today's decision been different.  "ASIC, if it had won, would have wanted an order disqualifying him from managing any corporation for some period of time and so that issue is now off the table," he said.

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan says he cannot comment on the High Court's ruling because he has not read it.

But Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey says he hopes the corporate regulator has acted independently in its proceedings.

Mr Hockey has tried to link the case to Mr Swan's public attacks on Mr Forrest.  "I think ASIC have some questions to answer because they very aggressively went after Mr Forrest and I know that Wayne Swan has been an outspoken critic of Andrew Forrest so I would hope that ASIC have acted totally independently, I believe they have," he said.

ASIC first announced it was issuing the proceedings in March 2006, at least a year-and-a-half before Labor won office.

Fortescue Metals Group has issued a statement saying the decision brought an end to a "process that ASIC thought was appropriate but was ultimately determined to be wrong".  FMG also said ASIC's allegations had been "an expensive distraction".

ASIC later issued a statement saying it brought the case because it raised issues of integrity of the capital markets.

Deputy chairman Belinda Gibson said compliance with continuous disclosure goes to the heart of ASIC's strategic priority, of fair and efficient financial markets.

ASIC says the loss will force it to assess its continuous disclosure rules.  "Observation of our continuous disclosure laws is essential, not only for investors but for the broader capital markets," Ms Gibson said.

ASIC said the judgment against it raises discussion about what the market would consider to be a significant statement about the nature of an agreement.

It said the judgment also raises the issue of what is necessary to ensure the market is properly informed.

The regulator said it was carefully considering both points.

The Chartered Secretaries of Australia group says the decision highlights concerning trends in the continuous disclosure regime.

"It has given some sense that the courts will look to the commerciality of the decisions," director of policy Judith Fox said.  "Continuous disclosure is a really difficult area and boards really wrestle with it because it's not a black and white area.  "It's about judgment calls, trying to make sure the information you release to the market is not misleading, that it's accurate."


Controversial Dutch MP postpones Australia visit

Anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders has postponed a visit to Australia because of delays in obtaining a visa, despite today's announcement that his application would be approved.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said he had decided to issue a visa to the controversial MP, declaring Australia's democracy is strong enough to withstand a visit by the "extremist commentator".

Mr Wilders was due to speak at events in Sydney and Melbourne later this month at the invitation of the Q Society, which is concerned by what it calls the "Islamisation" of Australia.

But the group says "extraordinary delays" in getting a visa have forced Mr Wilders to delay his visit until mid-February next year.

"Minister Bowen's (announcement)... is too little too late," the Q Society said in a statement.

"When Mr Wilders' visa may be issued is still uncertain; it could be tomorrow, it could be next week, it could be a week after the scheduled departure.

"Q Society asks Minister Bowen why, after lodging papers in late August, has his visa still not been issued?"

A spokesman for Mr Bowen says Mr Wilders was advised by email this morning that his visa application had been approved.

Q Society's spokesman Andrew Horwood has told the ABC that Mr Wilders' speaking tour may now be expanded to include Perth given the strong public interest.

"We've been really inundated by what I'd call the silent majority in Australia who've been looking back and concerned about what's been happening," Mr Horwood said.

Last month, the ABC's 7.30 program reported the processing of the Dutch MP's visa had stalled because it triggered a notification on the Movement Alert List - a database of people of concern to Australia.

It meant his application was held up at the Department of Immigration headquarters in Canberra while more thorough checks were done.

But Mr Bowen this morning announced that after long and careful consideration, he would not be intervening in the process to stop Mr Wilders coming to Australia.

"I've taken the view that he's a provocateur who would like nothing more than for me to reject his visa so that he could become a cause célèbre ," Mr Bowen told ABC radio's AM program.

"I'm not going to give him that opportunity to be the cause célèbre for his cause which is radical and extremist.

"I think our society's robust enough, our multicultural is strong enough, and our love of freedom of speech entrenched enough that we can withstand a visit from this fringe commentator from the other side of the world.

"We should defeat his ideas with the force of our ideas and the force of our experience, not by the blunt instrument of keeping him out of Australia."

As one of the world's most prominent anti-Islam campaigners, Mr Wilders has attracted controversy in many parts of the world.

In 2009 he was refused entry to the UK but later appealed and won.

He was also tried and acquitted in the Netherlands on hate charges over his controversial public comments.

The website for the Q Society, which invited Mr Wilders to Australia, states that: "Aggressive or stealth proselytising and brazen imposition by Islamic organisations and Islamic religious fanatics were our 'call to arms'".

And it has accused the Federal Government of "kowtowing to Islamic supremacists".


The dumb teacher problem

Getting someone to stand up in front of an undisciplined rabble of a class is such an unappealing prospect in Australia and America today that education departments often have to take almost anyone who will do it.  The teachers' colleges would be amost  empty if high standards were required for admission

The nation's elite universities warn that Australia is at risk of training a generation of "toxic teachers" who will pass their own deficiencies at school on to their students.

The executive director of the Group of Eight research-focused universities, Michael Gallagher, said Australia was "at risk of producing a cohort of "toxic teachers".

"The next generation of teachers is being drawn from this pool" of people "who have themselves not been very successful at school," he said.

Much of the growth in teaching enrolments since 2007 has come from school leavers with scores in the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) range of 50 to 70, prompting the NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, to start a debate about minimum education standards for teachers. At present, some 20 per cent of teaching enrolments have an ATAR of less than 60.

The Australian Catholic University vice chancellor, Greg Craven, however, has warned any attempt to set minimum standards for entry into teaching courses, such as an ATAR of 70, would be an attack on universities' independence and encounter stiff resistance. He accused the NSW government of dishonesty, hypocrisy, cowardice and blame shifting in its effort to start a debate about teaching standards.

In a speech to be delivered at the National Press Club today, Professor Craven will criticise Mr Piccoli's July discussion paper, Great Teaching, Inspired Learning, for fudging the figures around the demand for permanent teachers, lamenting teacher quality while paying them so little, failing to confront teacher unions over work practices that protect low performance, and attempting to shift blame to universities.

Professor Craven takes particular issue with the assertion that NSW has "a gross oversupply" of teachers.

The NSW discussion paper says although about 5500 teachers graduate each year, only 300 to 500 of them are employed in permanent positions by the NSW Education Department.

This not only omits teachers employed in the large Catholic and independent school systems but hides the reality that "the department itself deliberately has casualised its workforce, so new teachers overwhelmingly go into 'casual positions' that actually may be full time", Professor Craven said.

About 30,000 casual teachers deliver about 2 million days of teaching in NSW a year.

He said ATAR scores were skewed against people from low socio-economic backgrounds and failed to predict success at university.

"What really matters is the quality of a student once they have completed their university degree, not when they enter it … Trying to determine who should be a teacher on the basis of adolescent school marks rather than practical and theoretical training received during their course is like selecting the Australian cricket team on school batting averages while ignoring Sheffield Shield innings", Professor Craven said.

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maurie Mulheron, said: "You can't talk about high teaching standards and professional respect at the same time you are pulling $1.7 billion out of public education".

Mr Piccoli is overseas and unavailable for comment, but a spokesman for the NSW Department of Education defended the discussion paper.

He said university training of teachers was only one of five areas it examined, but acknowledged there is wide variation in the ATAR scores of undergraduates.

"The issues of further improving teacher performance and how to even more effectively deal with those who consistently fail to meet the required professional standards are raised by the paper," he said.


Elderly patient left to wet bed in Sydney hospital corridor

An elderly woman was left in a corridor for six hours and told to urinate in her bed when she needed to go to the toilet in a disturbing case of neglect at a major Sydney hospital.

Doctors say the incident at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital points to a system in crisis.

The 89-year-old woman's daughter told ABC1's Lateline that her mother was rushed to the hospital with a serious staph infection early last week.

The daughter, who wants to remain unidentified, says her mother was left on a trolley in a corridor in the emergency department for six hours.

"I'm disgusted, terrified that I might be in the same position one day. Where do you go? And what if she didn't have me as her voice?" she said.

When the elderly patient asked for a bedpan her daughter says a nurse told her to urinate in her clothes in bed.

She was sobbing, she said 'I'm 89-years old, I've paid my taxes all my life, and this is what's happening to me. I have to urinate in the bed.' And her anguish transferred to me and I didn't know which way to turn.

The daughter says her mother was left for two hours in the same bed sheets. She says her mother then asked for painkillers.

"She was in extreme pain, was given none of her medication," she said.

"When I told them what medication she was on, a certain painkiller, they said 'we don't use that in emergency because it's too expensive'."

St Vincent's says the system was under stress when the 89-year-old patient entered the hospital and a full investigation will be undertaken.

"The easy answer would be that the hospital was extremely busy at the time, and it was; clearly there was a lot of acute and complex patients who were presenting to the emergency department," spokesperson David Faktor said.  "But that doesn't absolve ourselves of extending just basic levels of care to distressed patients."

The daughter of the patient says the hospital was chronically understaffed.

St Vincent's has apologised to the family, but says it cannot comment on whether this incident is symptomatic of a wider problem.

"I think anyone in those circumstances would be most significantly humiliated," Mr Faktor said.  "But I think the second emotion would be very angry and disappointed and we, as a society, deserve better than that.  "We as a hospital certainly aim to provide care that is leaps and bounds better than that."

System in crisis

Brian Owler, president of the NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association, says the public hospital system is in crisis.

"It's a symptom of a hospital system - whether it's New South Wales or any other state - that's under enormous stress and pressure," he said.

"It's a result of underinvestment in infrastructure of health care, right across the country. Not just governments in place now but governments that have gone before them."

The AMA says emergency departments do not have enough beds to cope with increasing demand and budget cuts are making the situation much worse.

"Having cuts on top of that to a system that's already under stress means that, whether you make the cuts to the back line or not, the frontline clinical services are always going to be affected, particularly in a system that's already under stress, and where there's no surplus jobs that exist in particular in NSW Health," Dr Owler said.

The New South Wales Government rejects the claim that the health system is in crisis.

In a written statement NSW Health Minister Gillian Skinner says she will be redirecting $2.2 billion in savings to frontline health services.


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