Friday, April 22, 2016

Queensland’s Rockhampton Base Hospital under scrutiny where mum died during childbirth

A C-section should have been totally under control

A QUEENSLAND hospital, where a mother died giving birth on Monday, was already under scrutiny following adverse health outcomes for four other babies born in the maternity unit.

Amanda Sheppard died following complications in theatre during an elected caesarean at the Rockhampton Base Hospital in central Queensland.

Baby Willa, who survived, was Ms Sheppard and husband Glynn’s first child.

Ms Sheppard’s death, the cause of which was a suspected embolism, an obstruction of an artery either by a blood clot or amniotic fluid, is to be investigated by the coroner amid a separate review focused on four babies born at the ward.

One of them died and the other three suffered adverse outcomes, including one case of brain damage.

A fundraising page on website GoFundMe, set up by Ms Sheppard’s friend Teagan Govaars, has raised about $6000 by Wednesday morning for the grieving father and baby Willa.

On the site, Ms Govaars said the couple had been excited about the arrival of their first child.

“This day was supposed to be one of the best and happiest days of their lives and instead she has now left her beloved husband and brand new baby girl behind,” the message reads.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said on Tuesday, he had asked the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service for more information, reported the Courier Mail.

“Specifically if there is any connection between this death and the other incidents at Rockhampton hospital that are being investigated,” a spokesman said.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service CEO Len Richards, who announced last week he had resigned to take up a position in South Australia, urged “central Queensland women to maintain confidence in the care provided by our Maternity Unit”.

Midwives had passed a vote of no confidence in Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service senior management over their handling of long-term staffing and training issues.

But Queensland Nurses’ Union regional organiser Grant Burton said on Tuesday the woman had died from complications during surgery, which were not connected with staffing levels.

Latisha Ryder from Maternity Choices Australia told the ABC they were worried about the standard of care mothers are receiving at the hospital.  “I think women probably have every right to be concerned,” Ms Ryder said.


Australia’s largest landholder agrees to $370 million deal with Chinese company

AUSTRALIA’S largest landholder S Kidman & Co has agreed to a $370.7 million deal that will see the company partly sold to a Chinese buyer.

Kidman, which has cattle stations covering 101,000 square kilometres in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, produces grass-fed beef for export to Japan, the USA and Southeast Asia.

It owns 160,000 cattle on leasehold land run as 17 properties.

Under the plan, it will sell 80 per cent of the cattle company to China’s Dakang Australia Holdings and the rest to locally listed Australian Rural Capital.

The deal will be subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Kidman chairman John Crosby said the proposed investment would lead to an increase in production and the expansion of international markets for Kidman beef, the majority of which is already exported.

Dakang Australia and ARC plan to jointly manage and develop the Kidman business.

Mr Crosby said the consortium and Kidman had complied with all requests made by the FIRB and said the sale would secure the long-term future of the enterprise.

“We believe Dakang Australia and ARC will be good custodians of the business and this transaction will provide a solid platform for growth and, at the same time, an opportunity for Australians to participate in Kidman’s future,” Mr Crosby said in a statement.

Dakang director Gary Romano said Australian Rural Capital would provide expertise in the local agriculture sector.

Mr Romano and ARC spokesman James Jackson said the consortium wanted Kidman to become an even stronger player in Australia’s beef cattle sector, and transform it into a global brand for beef and related products.

The Kidman board is recommending shareholders accept the consortium’s offer subject to no superior proposals.

A previous foreign bid to buy the company was blocked by Treasurer Scott Morrison in November because of national interests. Anna Creek station in South Australia will be separated from Kidman’s other businesses prior to the completion of any acquisition.

Dakang Pasture Farming is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and has a market capitalisation of about $3.75 billion.

Shanghai Pengxin Group owns 55 per cent of Dakang Pasture Farming and has New Zealand dairy interests.


Asylum seeker boat bound for Australia intercepted

  Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed an asylum seeker boat en route to Australia has been stopped by the Sri Lankan Navy.

 The Navy reported that six adults and three children were onboard the boat when it was stopped on April 19 in the waters west of Negambo.The passengers – five men, one woman, two boys and one girl – have since been handed over to police for further investigations.

Mr Dutton told 2GB radio the boat had left a Sri Lankan port, but was stopped before it reached international waters."The Sri Lankan Navy intercepted that boat, turned it around and took them back to shore," he said."

It just shows you that the people are still there … We're dealing with these on-water matters all the time."


Local government tyranny

ON a crisp and clear autumn day with the leaves on the trees turning from green to red, there isn’t a prettier place in South Australia right now than Stirling. One of the best spots to take it all in is the Stirling Hotel, rugged up on an outside table with a coffee and some gooey cake, or a piping hot parmy and a warming pint.

It isn’t that long since the Stirling Hotel had fallen on hard times. It was closed for about three years but under new management has become not just a much-loved part of life for Hills residents but a beacon which draws visitors from all over town.

Its owners are ambitious, risk-taking people who completely re-imagined the pub to include high-end accommodation, one of the best cellars in the state, and a superb patisserie. All this effort and energy has injected new life into the town and other local businesses.

Many of those who make the day trip on a weekend end up buying something from the local nursery, the excellent homeware and gift stores, the fantastic Matildas Bookshop.

So why on earth is the local council treating this pub like a criminal operation?

The pub might have been voted the hotel of the year and best pub restaurant by the Australian Hotels Association, but as far as a particularly unpleasant cabal of councillors is concerned, it’s a blight on the high street.

Short of declaring it should be drummed out of town, some turbocharged pedants on council have piled so much pressure on this wholly reputable enterprise that it’s surprising the owners haven’t chucked in the towel.

Or the tea towel, to be more precise, as it was a tea towel which played a starring role in one of the many trifling health and safety breaches imposed by the council.
The grand interior of the restaurant at the Stirling Hotel

The hotel was hit with fines totalling $2500 last year for three infringements identified by the council’s regulatory unit. The crimes were as follows. One of the bins had not yet been emptied, a piece of cheese had been left in a slicer, and a tea towel was lying on a stainless steel bench.

That’s all.

Rather than have his reputation tarnished by these innocuous infringements, owner Brett Matthews thought stuff this for a joke and signalled his intention to fight the charges.

The council upped the ante and hit back with some 50 extra trumped-up infringements, the seriousness of which extended to a cracked tile not being fixed, and a fingerprint on a light switch.

No rats, no mice, no weevils. No Fawlty Towers-style pigeons in the rainwater tank. Nothing that would pose the remotest threat to any diner, nor be regarded as going beyond the normal cut and thrust found in any busy commercial kitchen.

Brett Matthews told the Mount Barker Courier that in hindsight he kind of regretted his decision to take a principled stand against having his name sullied.

"I probably should have paid the expiation,” he said. "Looking back on it now, I wish I had.”

Instead, he has to drag himself along to the Magistrates Court next month, adding to the many hours he has already lost as a result of all this pedantry. That’s time he could have spent coming up with new ways to expand a business which already employs 90 permanent staff, rising to 110 at peak times.

The stupidity runs both ways. Not only has the council damaged the viability of a great local business, it has exposed its own ratepayers to a legal bill already running at $32,000.

Scratch the surface of this dispute and you find a stellar example not just of how a few obsessive council crackpots who love strangling people with red tape can set about to extinguish what little business culture exists in our struggling city.

Aside from the bogus food hygiene charges, the pub is also fighting on another flank, with a clique of local residents finding a sympathetic ear from green councillors to force the pub to get rid of its outside dining and drinking area, on the grounds that it’s somehow offensive to the environment.

It’s just bizarre that this least representative tier of government can be allowed to get away with this kind of nonsense. It makes you wonder whether it’s time for the State Government to embark on the kind of brutal forced amalgamations happening in NSW to put the pedants out of business, so that businesses can stay in business, and the rest of us can keep enjoying life.


De gustibus non disputandum est

I always have Anzacs on hand and eat them frequently, often with a cup of tea -- JR

I don’t like ANZAC biscuits.  THERE. I SAID IT.  I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor and swallow your impulse to yell, “f--- off, we’re full.”

I figure I only have so many biscuits I can eat in one life time.  Why would I waste those opportunities on the world’s most boring biscuit? Honestly, I’d rather eat a Scotch Finger.

Yes. I prefer a biscuit whose only selling point is that you can snap it cleanly in half, over that greatest of Australian food icons, the humble ANZAC.

ANZAC biscuits are dull and lifeless, and I only eat them under duress.

Let’s break it down.  ANZAC biscuits contain oats, butter, golden syrup and flour. AND NOTHING ELSE.

They are presented unadorned to the biscuit consuming public. The chewy ones a like trying to get through three day old calamari rings, while the crunchy ones will cut your throat on the way down.

Where is the icing? Where are the nuts? The fruit? The chocolate? Why haven’t we tzujed these babies up? If ever there was a biscuit crying out for a queer-eye-for-the-straight-guy action, it would be the ANZAC.

But the tradition of it, I hear you cry. Biscuits lovingly baked back at home because of their longevity, sent to sons and husbands on the frontline as a special treat from home.

Yeah, like, I know. But, I ask you, wouldn’t those same sons and husbands now like something a bit fancier?

Even just a Monte Carlo? A shortbread cream? Even a kingston? I also don’t like kingstons. YES. I KNOW. But come on, it’s just a couple of ANZACs with the stingiest squirt of chocolate cream. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.

You know what? A biscuit is a treat. Don’t believe me? Ask my four-year-old.

A good, flavour-filled biscuit in the middle of the afternoon with a cup of hot Earl Grey tea is the best way to restore your mood and energy.

Why would you trash your treat with a tasteless crime against baking?

Instead, friend, I propose we replace the ANZAC biscuit. I say, in the great Aussie tradition of refusing to figure things out ourselves, we hold a competition to find the perfect Aussie treat. After all, that's what we did when we designed our capital city.

And look how that turned out. We got Canberra. A triumph of city planning and culture. A trophy on our nation's mantlepiece. We deserve a snack that can take it's place in our national pool room. And friends, that ain't an ANZAC bikkie.


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