Australian Politics 2019-09-29 15:41:00

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Labor ‘dragging heels’ in drought efforts

The Labor party is in the grip of the Greenies, who hate dams.  But building more dams is the only way to cope with drought

Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie has lashed the Labor state governments of Queensland and Victoria for “dragging their heels” when it comes to building new dams.

Senator McKenzie told Sky News on Sunday the lack of co-operation between the Federal government and their state counterparts meant “drought busting” infrastructure was being prevented from “getting off the ground.”

“This is one of the most frustrating topics I think as a National Party MP and somebody that cares about rural and regional Australia,” she said. “We’re a government that has been able to manage the economy well enough we’ve got money on the table to build infrastructure … that helps us to be able to droughtproof for the next time.”

“The reality is the Commonwealth government can’t just roll in with our diggers and graders and roll into a state and start digging,” Senator McKenzie said. “We have to have a partner in this in state because the sovereignty of states to actually build the things the money’s on the table.”

As revealed by The Australian, the Victorian government has ruled out building any new dams, saying climate change will mean not enough water will flow into them to make them worthwhile.

“At the end of the day if you’ve got Lisa Neville here in Victoria saying no more dams despite the CSIRO saying we should get on with it and you’ve got [Anastasia] Palaszczuk up in Queensland dragging her heels on Rookwood and other drought-busting infrastructure and you get NSW finally coming to the table today with $84 million dollars, which is fantastic news, the reality is we’ve been here this whole time waiting.”

Senator McKenzie also announced the Farm Household Allowance would be extended and made available to farmers for four years every decade instead of once over the lifetime of a farmer.

“Right now farm household allowance you’re only able to access for four years in your entire lifetime as a farmer, which is just ridiculous,” she said. “In this country every two decades we’re going through a period of significant hardship, as we are now, so we’ve made a change now that every decade, farmers will be able to access this payment for up to four years.”

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an additional $100 million in drought relief funding.

Of this, more than $50 million will be put towards expanding and simplifying the Farm Household Allowance, a payment for farmers struggling to pay bills. The latest package comes on top of the $7 billion set aside in drought relief funding.

Senator McKenzie said the subsidy program wouldn’t affect Australia’s free trade agreements.

“This is this is not an American or US-style farm bill subsidy program at all and as an exporter that exports 70 per cent of what we produce we don’t want to be doing anything here at home that puts us at risk our ability to trade.”

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Scott Morrison is flying to the Queensland Outback today to help drought-stricken farmers. The Prime Minister, who has been criticised for not doing enough for rural communities, will announce $100million in aid.

The money will go to 13 local government areas to help farmers pay for food, water and fuel and have access to counselling.

Mr Morrison will land in Sydney after his state visit to the US and will immediately take a flight to Dalby in south Queensland.  He said: 'We know we can't make it rain, but we must keep finding ways to do everything we can to make life just a bit easier and remove some of the burden.'

Earlier this month Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said Mr Morrison was doing too little for drought-affected farmers.

'The farmers have become Scott Morrison's forgotten people,' he said. 'No real action on his part despite the fact that it's very, very clear based on all the advice that this thing is not going to get better any time soon.'

On the Today Show on Friday morning Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton defended the Prime Minister. 'This is not our first trip out. This money builds on a mountain of support that is already there,' he said.

Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said his party would look at the proposals but said 'we doubt they will be enough after years of inaction'.

It comes after farmers slammed Mr Morrison for plegding $150million to support a NASA mission to Mars.

Amanda Bolton, who runs Birkwood Farm in the Queensland town of Mutdapilly, posted a photo to Facebook of her dried-up dam. 'The Australian Prime Minister has just announced that the Australian government will be contributing 150 MILLION dollars to the upcoming Mars missions,' she wrote.

'150 MILLION dollars is a lot of money that could buy some pretty cool stuff. 7.5 million small square bales of hay, roughly 880,000 large round bales, 7.5 million bags of basic stock pellets, roughly 30 BILLION litres of water from our local council water collection station.

'Worst drought in recorded history, a number of regional towns will run out of water within weeks, record bushfire season, record dust storm activity etc... This country is desperate. 'But yeah, sure, the Moon is fun too, I guess.'

The deal between the Australian Space Agency and NASA was announced in Washington DC on Saturday.

Ms Bolton's confronting post has been shared more than 50,000 times with thousands of Australians slamming Morrison for turning his back on battling farmers. 'Scott Morrison, please pay attention, stop rubbing up to that Trump moron and look after our farmers. They die, we die,' one person wrote.

'Too busy making himself look good on the World Stage while a major portion of his own country is if not dead its dieing! (sic),' read another comment.

Australia is currently on the grips of the most severe drought on record.

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Do sharks have a right to eat us?

That seems to be the Queensland Labor government's position

FOR almost 60 years, the State Government's shark control program has been making Queensland beaches safer. The program has been one of very few public policies to have endured for such a time while remaining blessedly free from the foibles of partisan politics.

The reason for this has been simple. Who would dare argue with the results? From 1915 to 1962 there were 36 recorded cases of shark attacks in Queensland. These resulted in 19 deaths. But since the dragnet of baited drumlines was introduced in 1962, there's been only one fatal shark attack at a protected Queensland beach.

Little wonder the program has been gradually expanded. However, the program finally found a naysayer in the shape of fringe environmental group, the Humane Society. And inexplicably, the Federal Court has agreed with the group's view that the drumlines do little to protect swimmers.

How the court came to such a view simply beggars belief. Surely, they only had to look at the statistics of recent attacks in northern NSW where there are no permanent drumlines to realise how effective the Queensland program is? What was required here was a bipartisan approach and a plan to ensure swimmers were protected

The court's decision was clearly out of step with public sentiment and requires the politicians who've supported the program to fix it. Given the long history of bipartisan support, not to mention the implications for. Queensland's tourism industry, you'd like to think it would be a relatively quick fix.

However, what has ensued instead has been an unedifying display of pointless political point scoring that has done nothing but advertise to the world that some of the Sunshine State's most famous northern beaches are less safe now than they were a few weeks ago.

Much of the controversy has centred around the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' decision to remove 160 drumlines from within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The court's decision only related to the marine park zone and that's why the department only removed drumlines in this area.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has been particularly vocal. She's accused the Palaszczuk Government of choosing "public alarm over personal safety" by removing the drumlines when the court only said caught sharks should not be killed.

"Queensland should reinstate the existing drum lines, while increasing surveillance and exploring modern complementary technologies such as drones, smart drum lines and tags," she said.

There's ample reason for Ley to be sceptical about the Palaszczuk Government's motives in ordering the removal of the drumlines within hours of the court ruling. After all, the administration isn't exactly known for doing anything at pace.

And the States handling of last year's Cid Harbour shark attacks —when it first said drumlines were the answer but then recanted and claimed all it could do was erect signs instead — hardly inspired confidence.

However, what on Earth is Ley suggesting when she says the State Government should just drop the drumlines back in and increase surveillance? Is she saying to hell with what the court has ordered? Or does Ley reckon fisheries officers should just harden up and start arming themselves with a decent set of pliers so they can simply release the sharks?

It might be news to the minister but these officers are dealing with marine life a bit bigger than the cod they catch in the Murray River in her electorate. In fact, cutting a cranky 4m tiger shark loose from a hook is nearly as dangerous as getting between Ley and a bargain Gold Coast apartment buy, something she's somewhat famed for.

Yet, while Ley is happily ordering fisheries officers back into the water, the Morrison Government hasn't come up with a timeline for a legislative fix to what the court has ordered.

The LNP Opposition might be right when they say SMART drumlines, where sharks are caught and released,should be considered as temporary solution. However, it would take time to train officers and whether that's worthwhile depends primarily on how long it's going to take their federal colleagues to come up with a legislative answer.

Dropping in new drumlines at 17 locations just outside the marine park was a prudent move by the State but that still leaves 27 beaches no longer with protection.

However, what wasn't needed was State Fisheries Minister Mark Furner's ham-fisted suggestion that Ley would be blamed if there was an attack.

While the politicians squabble, the reputation of Queensland beaches is taking a further battering, the last thing the tourism industry needs after those terrible Cid Harbour attacks.

From the start, what was required here was a bipartisan approach and a plan to ensure swimmers were protected by drumlines again as soon as practical. Instead what happened was the political sharks began circling as soon as they saw an opportunity for a cheap feed.

"Courier Mail" 27 Sept. 2019






Queensland Public Hospitals still missing targets as delays blow out

QUEENSLAND hospitals, are failing to meet their own benchniarks to see emergency patients in time and have abandoned elective surgery targets they can't reach.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that not one hospital and health service (HHS) saw all of its sickest patients within recommended times, with hospitals south of Brisbane and on the Gold Coast performing the worst

While most came close to seeing the most critical patients within two minutes, many wait times blew past the 10-minute and 30-minute markers for those with conditions "imminently" or "potentially" life-threatening.

Only three of the state's 15 HHS met the previous 25-day target for elective surgery waits used in 2017-18. The target is now missing from the 2018-19 annual reports released yesterday.

The results come amid presare on Health Minister Steven Miles to fix blown-out wait times, ambulance ramping and IT bungles relating to the integrated electronic medical record system (ieMR) and ordering system.

The worst elective surgery results were in regional areas, with Central Queensland and Central West recording the longest wait of 59 days. Patients in the. South West district covering Roma and Charleville waited 55 days, Gold Coast residents waited 49 days and Mackay residents waited 43.

Those in the Torres Strait waited just a week for elective surgery and an average of five minutes in ED.

More than half of the services recorded deficits. West Moreton recorded a $26.88 million deficit because of projects like ieMR. The Sunshine Coast also recorded a staggering $222 million deficit, up from the $13.9 million deficit in 2017-18, and attributed the result to increased demand.

The troubled Metro South HHS recorded a $15 million deficit and blamed increased demand on population ageing and the prevalence of chronic disease conditions.

The Children's Health Queensland HHS, which runs the Queensland Children's Hospital, finished the financial year with an operating surplus of $27.79 million. It found the implementation of the ieMR "has continued to result in increased efficiencies and service improvements".

The hospital was one of the state's best-performing hospitals. It exceeded its target of treating the second-most serious category on time.

"Courier Mail" 27 Sept. 2019

 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here