Sunday, June 05, 2022

Gold Coast mother loses kids after smacking child with wooden spoon

Excessive government intervention. Smacking a child is allowed in Queensland as long as the force used is "reasonable under the circumstances". That would seem to be the case here. As the child was autistic, smacking was probably needed to get his attention

A single Gold Coast mum who smacked her 10-year-old with a wooden spoon has been placed on probation and she is now fighting to get her kids back.

The mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court on Thursday to assault occasioning bodily harm.

The court was told the mum hit the 10-year-old once on the bottom with the wooden spoon after she found out he put $600 on her credit card through mobile phone games.

The child, with autism and attention deficit disorder, was left with bruises on their bottom.

The court was told after the incident the Department of Child Safety got involved and she lost both of her children. It is not clear how the smacking incident came to light.

She is currently having supervised visits with the children.

Magistrate Mark Bamberry placed her on nine months’ probation. No conviction was recorded.

Outside of court Antonious Abdelshahied, of Abdelshahied Lawyers, said: “It was a one off incident. “There was no previous violence.

“She is extremely remorseful and her focus is on trying to get her children back.”


Luxury politics has no place on ALP’s agenda

Middle-class welfare has always had, and deserved, a bad name. It is not the preserve of any one political party. John Howard’s government was justifiably criticised for doling it out. And who could forget Brendan Nelson’s attack on the Rudd government when it sought to means test the $5000 baby bonus introduced by the Howard government in 2004? “Every mother loves her baby. Every baby is valued, and Mr Rudd should value all babies equally,” Nelson pleaded.

Middle-class welfare is bad enough when the country can afford it, as it arguably could in the Howard era. We are now seeing a new level of policy self-indulgence when we can no longer afford it. Call it luxury politics – expensive policies loved by the rich and by those immune to economic downturns but that will be paid for by those who can least afford them.

As interest rates, global uncertainty and the cost of living rise, many Australians will come to rue the profligacy of policies designed in more certain and affluent times.

A prime example of luxury politics is the $5.4bn childcare policy promised by the Albanese government, due to start in July next year. As economic risks grow, this policy will introduce a level of middle-class welfare that should gobsmack even Howard, Nelson and co.

It will not only significantly lift the percentages of childcare costs the government (aka taxpayers) will pay for, but it also will lift the family income cap for families that will be entitled to the subsidy from the previously shameful level of $400,000 to the positively sickening level of $530,000.

While the maximum subsidy rate of 90 per cent applies to families earning up to $80,000, a sliding scale will continue to offer subsidies to families earning up to $530,000.

Yes, that’s right. Anyone who pays tax will be contributing to the childcare costs of families earning more than a half-million a year.

The hard-pressed aged-care workers, nurses and teachers we heard so much about in the election will be setting aside a few dollars each week to give to doctors, lawyers and the like to help them pay their childcare costs. Whether you are single or childless, gay or straight, rich or poor, you will be helping to subsidise the childcare costs of the wealthy parents in the electorates of Wentworth, Brisbane and Kooyong and beyond.

Whether there has ever been a time the average Australian could afford this is doubtful, but it is unquestionably a luxury the ordinary worker cannot afford today.

It says much about the debased condition of our welfare state that not only did this escape almost unnoticed during the election campaign, but that as a so-called woman’s issue it seemed immune from criticism.

It appears that privileged women not only don’t feel ashamed to be taking money from the poor to pay childcare costs they could easily pay themselves but regard it, hilariously, as a down payment on gender equality.

This sense of entitlement, and what caused it, deserves close scrutiny, but let us first look at some of the alleged justifications for this reverse Robin Hood mentality wrapped up in Labor’s childcare policy.

First, we’re assured that this is a productivity issue. The costs of childcare are so high that workers, especially women, are effectively locked out of the workforce because the costs of care consume the after-tax benefits of work.

This argument certainly has merit at lower levels of income. That’s why carefully targeted and means-tested childcare subsidies can be justified. Targeted appropriately, this kind of subsidy can indeed be a means of social mobility and a tool to help people help themselves.

But as a family’s income goes up and the costs of childcare as a proportion of that family’s income go down, this kind of subsidy becomes less and less defensible.

My objection here is to middle-class welfare, not welfare per se. At a family income of a half-million a year, it is obscene for women to whine that they can’t afford to go to work because of childcare costs and so demand that taxpayers earning far less should subsidise their career choices. Spare me the guff about gender equality. Let’s focus on what’s fair.

The next argument treats childcare subsidies as some kind of human right, like universal medical care, irrespective of your financial position. We hear it packaged up as universal childcare, with Labor signalling its aim ultimately to apply the 90 per cent subsidies to all families, regardless of income. Universal childcare attaches to everyone equally because you’re human, or at least a parent.

Not even those drafting the ALP’s childcare policy really believe this. If this argument had any merit, it would follow there should be no caps, no means testing and an equal payment for everyone.

This argument means the uber-wealthy are entitled to welfare just like anyone else. It is preposterous in good economic times. It is plain nuts right now.

One of the biggest spending measures promised by the Albanese government was on childcare, with Labor… pledging to spend around $5.4 billion extra over the course of the next four years. The idea is to take pressure off skills shortages, by boosting the workforce and improving the accessibility More
More to the point, it is palpably unfair to force Australians on lower incomes to contribute to the childcare bills of those people who will barely feel any pain from rising petrol prices, energy bills that are set to jump up to 18 per cent, increased mortgage repayments, and other cost-of-living pressures.

The ALP policy does at least have caps and, mercifully, the current plan fades out completely at family incomes of $530,000, so even the ALP realises, at least for now, that a childcare subsidy is not an unqualified right but a matter of where you draw the income line.

If ever there were a benefit that had some claim to universality, the Age Pension would be it. If you pay tax all your life, you should get a pension. But the pension is, of course, rigorously means-tested. According to government figures, as of March last year, only 62 per cent of the over-65 cohort receive a pension and, of those, 32 per cent receive only a partial pension.

So how have we become so addicted to policies of such manifest luxury? Why are we not querying them? Sadly, some of the worst examples of this kind of new luxury politics are justified as gender equity issues. Call the most indulgent policy a woman’s issue and it becomes sacrosanct.

Beyond reproach, or even analysis. I have previously noted how women have played men for fools – find a Male Champion of Change and you have found a woolly thinker so easily duped by women that they wouldn’t dream of criticising whatever plan women put forward.

There is an inescapable air of entitlement about women’s claims to childcare subsidies and many similar policies.

Women who have grown accustomed to demanding 50 per cent of the glamorous jobs in occupations where candidate pools are rarely going to be more than 25 per cent female are not used to pushback. It takes mammoth chutzpah to advocate a policy that requires poor and struggling Australians to subsidise the childcare costs of the rich.

Yet, as economic conditions worsen and the cost-of-living crisis deepens for the average Australian family, a day of reckoning will come for luxury politics.


Vulnerable suffering at hands of climate catastrophists

It should be a source of national shame that in a first-world nation blessed with abundant natural resources we have so many unable to warm their home in winter.

The climate catastrophists who shriek the loudest about global warming being an existential crisis that threatens lives are rather blasé about a deadly crisis they’ve helped create.

They claim “people are dying” due to global warming when the truth is that cold weather kills in greater numbers than any warming.

And tragically, soaring energy costs will undoubtedly see more vulnerable people die with increasing numbers of Australians not adequately heating their homes in the coldest months.

It should be a source of national shame that in a first world nation blessed with abundant natural resources we have so many people failing to cool their homes in summer and warm them in winter.

As the winter chill takes hold, consider the plight of pensioners, low-income earners and even some middle income households where crippling energy costs see people opting to remain cold rather than risk bill shock by turning on the heater.

There are people who should be enjoying their golden years staying in bed until early afternoon, not because they fancy a sleep-in but because it is the warmest place in the house and it means they can delay turning on the heating.

Three years ago I wrote about research conducted by doctors at The Alfred and academics from Monash University showing people who had been indoors presenting to hospitals with hypothermic emergency. The 2019 paper published in Internal Medicine Journal revealed that in just two inner-city emergency departments, more than 200 patients presented with hypothermia, with 23 people dying, over a seven-year period to 2016.

About 80 per cent of the patients presenting with hypothermic emergency were found indoors and close to three quarters of all patients were pensioners. If that is not appalling enough, consider that those stats reflect what happened in just two emergency departments and only up to 2016.

As we know all too well, energy costs have increased and are about to skyrocket further due largely to self-inflicted harm caused by policies to reduce emission targets. Interestingly, the author of the aforementioned study is now the member for Higgins, Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah. She said back in 2019: “We’re seeing patients who are clearly coming in profoundly hypothermic and being found indoors. Hypothermia is generally not something that happens suddenly ... when you get to a certain temperature, you’re vulnerable to sudden death.”

During the election campaign there was not much said about hypothermic patients but plenty about slashing emissions and ‘meaningful action on climate change.’

Never mind that such action, as we have seen in Europe and North America, invariably lead to greater unreliability and significantly higher costs.

National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke told the Herald Sun heating and cooling are important in keeping elderly people healthy but many pensioners do not properly heat or cool their homes due to soaring costs.

“We know during heatwaves they don’t put on airconditioning and in winter stay in bed to keep warm,” he said. “Australia has too much pension poverty. We’re wealthy a country that can do better. That’s why we want an independent tribunal to set the rate of the pension and rules changed to allow poor pensioners to work more without penalty. We hope the new government will fix this.”

Meanwhile, Mr Henschke urges all seniors to check their eligibility for discounts by using the National Seniors Concessions Calculator.

Around 6.5 per cent of deaths in Australia are attributed to cold weather while hot weather accounts for 0.5 per cent, according to Yuming Guo, head of Monash University’s Climate, Air Quality Research Unit and professor of Global Environmental Health and Biostatistics.

Sadly, the numbers of Australians whose health will deteriorate due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures is set to increase in line with higher heating costs.


‘Undemocratic’: Monarchist fury over republican ministry appointment

When Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced his ministry this week, one appointment jumped out to many observers: Matt Thistlethwaite, assistant minister for the republic.

For the first time, a government MP has been given official responsibility for shepherding the country towards embracing a native head of state. By a quirk of fate, it was just as Buckingham Palace prepared to host lavish celebrations for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

Albanese will light a beacon for the Queen in Canberra on Thursday night as part of Jubilee celebrations occurring throughout the Commonwealth.

Peter FitzSimons, chair of the Australian Republic Movement, said republicans felt “joyous” about Thistlethwaite’s appointment after having little to celebrate since the crushing defeat of the 1999 referendum.

“It is the greatest breakthrough for the republic movement in nigh on a quarter of a century,” said FitzSimons, a Sydney Morning Herald columnist. “We’re now on a countdown to another referendum.”

Monarchists, however, were incensed that a minister of the Crown was being paid by taxpayers to advocate for the removal of the Crown.

“It’s very disturbing, terribly unfair and undemocratic,” Philip Benwell, chair of the Australian Monarchist League, said.

“If it’s a level playing field we don’t have a problem with the government moving towards another referendum. The problem we have is that an unfair advantage is being given to the republican side. It’s not up to the government to push a particular outcome on people.”

Thistlethwaite said constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians and the creation of a Voice to parliament would be Labor’s priorities during this parliamentary term.

“I’m not going to distract from that at all,” he said. “If we’re successful with the Voice, we will move onto the republic in a second term.”

Thistlethwaite, who has represented the south-east Sydney electorate of Kingsford Smith since 2013, said the creation of an Australian republic was one of the issues that drove him to enter politics.

In his first speech to parliament, he said: “I hope that during my time in this place, we see our nation fully recognise our maturity and become a republic.”

He held responsibility for the republic as a shadow assistant minister since 2015, a position that went largely unnoticed.

Queen Elizabeth, 96, has been in poor health recently, forcing her to miss the reading of the Queen’s Speech at the ceremonial opening of the British parliament in May. Prince Charles filled in for her for the first time.

Thistlethwaite said Charles’s accession to the throne, whenever it occurs, would kickstart a new debate about Australia’s ties to the monarchy.

“As the Queen reaches the end of her reign and looks to hand on to Charles, this is an opportunity to have a serious discussion in Australia again about our future,” Thistlethwaite said.

“Australians will wake up one day, Charles will be the king and they won’t have had an opportunity to have a say in that.

“I think that in itself will trigger a lot of Australians to think: is this appropriate for a modern independent nation like Australia?”

He said Barbados’s move last November to become a republic offered a good example of a country cutting ties with the monarchy but doing so respectfully.

In January, the Australian Republic Movement released a model that would see voters elect a head of state from a pool of 11 nominees selected by state and federal politicians.

Former prime minister Paul Keating lashed out at the proposal, saying it would create a “massive shift in the current model of power” and “change forever the model of representative governance that Australia currently enjoys”.

Thistlethwaite said he understood from painful experience how the previous push for a republic was scuttled by division over whether an Australian head of state should be elected by parliament or the public.

He added he had a “completely open mind” about what model would be put to voters at a future republican referendum.

“We’re not going to do this quickly,” he said. “We’re going to take it slowly and methodically and work through the issues to make sure that the next time we get to this it’s successful.”


Labor Agriculture Minister Murray Watt confirms live sheep export ban will apply to air and sea

Weeks prior to the federal election, Labor confirmed its plan to end Australia's $92 million live sheep trade, which it claimed had been in decline for 20 years.

Speaking with the ABC, Senator Watt confirmed the ban would be all-inclusive, covering exports both by sea and air.

"My understanding is that it was a general commitment across the industry overall," he explained.

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment figures show 552,957 sheep were exported by sea in 2021, while air exports accounted for 22,572, with one mortality recorded.

But Senator Watt said the government had no set time frame to phase out the industry.

"We recognise that there has got to be consultation with the industry, with the relevant state governments, and a whole bunch of other stakeholders about the phase out. It's not something that you do overnight," he said.

What did occur overnight 11 years ago was the suspension of the live export of cattle to Indonesia, leading many to fear a live export ban on sheep would be extended to cattle.

But the new Agriculture Minister insisted this was not the case. "We absolutely have no plans to end or phase out the live cattle export trade," Senator Watt said.

The minister's comments on air exports came as a surprise to the Australian Livestock Exporters Council CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton, who said he would seek further clarification.

"If it's true, I think it does further point to the unnecessary nature of the policy," Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

"Air performance is one of the best ways to transport livestock going around. So, to try and implement a phase out of that strikes me is completely unnecessary."

Mr Harvey-Sutton said he still hoped the industry could change the federal government's mind. "What [Senator Watt is] saying is a correct articulation of the policy that Labor took to the election. But what I do know was that he emphasised the need to work with industry. He emphasised the fact that there is no timeline on that phase out," he said.

Mr Harvey-Sutton said with the industry operating primarily out of Western Australia, there was room for further discussions with Labor Premier Mark McGowan, who he said had expressed the support for the industry. "I think there's a fair bit of consultation that still needs to be done," he said.

In the meantime, the new Agriculture Minister said there were opportunities to look closer to home for meat processing.

"I want to look at what more we can be do doing to take Australian agriculture further up the value chain," he said.

"We want to obviously produce the world's best commodities, whether they be beef, lamb, crops, anything whatsoever, but we also want to make sure that we're processing them into the best products.

"So, where there are opportunities to expand onshore meat processing, I'd be really keen to take them up."

Underpinning the ban on sheep exports was the general decline in the industry, he said. "The industry has been in decline for some time now and in some respects, this [the ban] would be continuing a trend that is already happening," Senator Watt said.

But Mr Harvey-Sutton said volumes could ebb and flow over time and it was too simplistic an approach to end a trade based on declining volumes. "It sends an extremely poor message," he said. "What sort of precedent does this set? If you are an industry in decline, why bother?

"[It would say] never mind the food security, never mind the farmers that rely on it, we are going to shut it down."




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