Australian Politics 2020-02-20 15:41:00


State government to block new coal-fired power station?

The Greenies are happy.  See below. But Qld. Premier Palaszczuk is facing an election in October and blocking the Collinsville proposal would lose her the whole of the North.  She would be out on her ear. So she won't do it.  Coal mining is popular in the North -- which is why Scott Morrison won federally

Premier Anastascia Palaszczuk is absolutely right to question the impacts of a coal fired power station on the Great Barrier Reef says the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

The Premier echoed the sentiment of Labor Federal leader Anthony Albanese when she said she was open to blocking a planned coal-fired power station at Collinsville.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef spokesperson Shani Tager said: “The Premier is right to highlight the impact that coal-fired power stations have on our Reef. The single greatest threat to our beautiful Reef is climate change and coal fired power stations are a big part of the problem.

“Our Reef supports 64,000 jobs and is home to thousands of incredible animals, let’s not throw them down the drain for an uneconomic, unwanted and polluting coal fired power station when we could be building clean, renewable energy.

“It would be absolutely irresponsible to build a new coal fired power station at a time when we need to be moving beyond coal to give our Reef a fighting chance.

"Our Reef is still a dynamic, vibrant, awesome place but it’s in deep trouble and it’s time for politicians of all stripes to be standing up and taking steps to protect our Reef.”

Email.  Contact: Jo Manning 0405 567 228 /

Government waste over disability scheme

THOUSANDS of dollars a day stolen from vulnerable clients on the National Disability Insurance Scheme are automatically reimbursed without being investigated, a whistle-blower has revealed.

Former senior fraud investigator John Higgins, who spent decades working for the Australian Federal Police, has spoken exclusively to The Sunday Mail to blow the whistle on the extent of fraud dogging the multibillion-dollar agency.

Mr Higgins was one of a dwindling number of full-time fraud investigators chasing crooks ripping off the NDIS when he left the agency last year, frustrated by inaction.

He said investigators were swamped with tip-offs they did not have the resources to chase as dodgy providers bill clients on a daily basis for services they do not provide.

In 2018, the Federal Government established the NDIS Fraud Taskforce to tackle serious fraud, which NDIS Minister Stuart Robert says is proof of the Government's commitment to finding scammers. "Perpetrators can and will be dealt with through the criminal justice system," Mr Robert said.

But Mr Higgins said the taskforce focused on large-scale corruption and investigators were failing to deal with hundreds of smaller scams happening each day. In one case he said a so-called provider was invoicing a client for two hours of cleaning to drop off a loaf of bread and a packet of cigarettes.

"These are not geniuses doing this - it is so simple to rip off," he said. "People have got (assistance) plans worth hundreds of thousands of dollars ... but the money isn't going to those who need it."

Mr Higgins said clients who noticed money missing from their plan were automatically reimbursed and the missing money was rarely chased up. "There are almost no checks and balances," he said.

Mr Higgins claimed in cases where scammers were pursued, investigators were improperly using what was known as section 55 orders to obtain documents such as bank statements and pay slips. Section 55s can be used to gather evidence for compliance issues, but not if it ultimately ends up as evidence in a criminal matter.

The NDIS said its taskforce did not obtain evidence under section 55 of the NDIS Act for criminal investigation. But it was unable to say how many investigators it had on staff, how much was lost to fraud last year or reveal the on-going operation cost of the fraud taskforce.

From Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 16 Feb., 2020

Labor party rediscovering the workers

Joel Fitzgibbon and Anthony Albane­se met at a Young Labor conference in 1985. Both were elected to federal parliament on March 2, 1996, the day that John Howard became prime minister.

Even though they hail from differen­t ends of the party, as is often the way with MPs elected at the same time, Albanese and Fitzgibbon­ became and remain friends. Despite everything.

That “everything” includes the dinner for 20 right-wing Labor MPs — held at Kokomo’s in Canberra­, not Otis — on the Sunday­ in between sitting weeks, now cast as a sub-faction to pursue the interests of workers, residing­ within the party explicitly created to pursue the interests of workers, raising all sorts of questions for modern Labor.

Attendees have since told colleagu­es they thought it was an invitation to socialise or that they were trying to find ways of helping the Opposition Leader, something Albanese has struggled to see. They also insisted it was not driven by malice, there was no intent to undermine Albanese, and nor did they mean for it to become public.

It leaked because of the accid­ental inclusion of a government staffer on a group email. Oops. The idea for the group originated at a much more intimate dinner at Otis, the favourite restaurant of powerbroker Don Farrell.

The group subsequently opted to call itself after the venue where it was conceived, rather than after the more funky Kokomo’s, both in the hope of avoiding the puns and word games which could flow from a classic cock-up rather than conspiracy, and because the founders have a serious mission which they want taken seriously.

Revelation of their existence became a mitigated disaster. Both sides of politics took comfort from the other’s misery. Labor MPs were consoled by the fact that at least they weren’t plotting to get rid of their leader or his deputy while Coalition MPs rejoiced that at last Labor’s differences had erupted to the surface.

If anything good has come out of the exposure for Labor (and many senior opposition figures say none has) courtesy of The Australian’s Peter van Onselen, who broke the news on the Ten Network, it is that Albanese has got the message. Because if he hasn’t by now, he never will.

Sensible Laborites see clearly where the party went wrong. They saw what happened with Bill Shorten, a deeply flawed politician with flawed policies to match. They saw what happened with Jeremy Corbyn, also a flawed politician with flawed policies. And they can foretell Bernie Sanders’s fate if he wins the Democrat nomination.

They are entitled to ask how many suicide missions do there have to be before progressive-socialist leaders accept they have strayed too far from the centre, desertin­g the workers their parties were born to represent.

In the wake of the bushfires, Australians profess to care more about climate change and are less wedded to coal. But at the ballot box last May they showed they care more about their hip pockets, their jobs, their tax, their cost of living and their economic security.

Otherwise Shorten, regardless of his shortcomings, would have been elected. Labor would have won Higgins and Kooyong, Kerryn­ Phelps would have held on to Wentworth and perhaps Trevor Evans would have been turfed out of Brisbane. They cared about climate, but not enough to choose higher taxes and a leader they neithe­r liked nor trusted.

This is what Albanese’s colleagues, including Fitzgibbon, have been trying to tell him, believing that while sentiment in some parts of Australia has streng­th­ened, in other parts it hasn’t.

The right worries that despite its greater numbers in caucus it has lost its clout, and Albanese will be more susceptible to the arguments of his natural allies in the left.

Reflecting the tensions, Alban­ese has struggled to articulate a convincing position on coal. Early in his leadership he flew to Queensland to begin the tricky task of repositioning, trying to sound more accepting of it. Yet when Fran Kelly asked last week if he would support a coal-fired power station funded by industry, he replied: “You may as well ask me, Fran, if I support unicorns.”

Albanese risks being branded by the government as Bob-Each-Way Albo, or as Mr Inbetween, the likeable hit man on the TV series who tricked up a horse to look like a unicorn so he could impress his daughter.

Morrison, his authority weakened by his sorry summer, is trying to reweight his arguments with greater emphasis on climate change and less on coal. Thanks to the pressure from rebel Nationals, and his fight to save Michael ­McCormack’s leadership, he faces greater risks in the short and medium­ term.


Women denied final step in cancer surgery

When they rely on public hospitals

SCARRED cancer survivors who have waited eight years for a breast reconstruction are among nearly 4000 Queenslanders in the queue for plastic surgery, as short-staffed hospitals hunt for surgeons overseas.

In a devastating Sunday Mail expose, brave women reveal their scars and their souls, telling how they have been left in limbo by Cairns Base Hospital, the epicentre of the surgery delays.

The State Government has been aware of the problems in Cairns, where at one point well over 100 women were on the waiting list In 2017 the Health Depart-ment injected $4 million into the hospital to clear the list. Brisbane surgeons were flown in but in the end they only cleared the assessment list, leaving many women still without surgery appointments.

The Sunday Mail has spoken to four of the forgotten women left hanging for a shocking number of years. They feel ugly, lonely, depressed and on the scrap heap as they are desperate for the healing surgery so they can feel whole again.

Single mother-of-two Kate Yeoman, who has been on the waiting list for eight years, considered selling her home to pay for private surgery but chose to put her kids first. "I've waited so long that I sometimes think I should just live my life without them (my breasts), but my kids are growing up and I have got my life back, I deserve to feel like a whole woman," she said.

"Women left without breasts feel unfeminine, uncomfortable and vulnerable, unable to complete the healing process. In the end I realised that my children's future was more important than raising the $25,000 needed for the double breast reconstruction surgery so I stayed on the waiting list. "It's now been eight years and I still live with the scars that remind me every day of the trauma of breast cancer."

Ms Yeoman appealed to Health Minister Steven Miles last year and was sent a letter from the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHS) in November stating that while the delay was "regrettable", her condition was not life-threatening and therefore not urgent

"In Queensland, there are only a small number of highly skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeons who work in the public system and their priority is the patients with life-threatening conditions or who require the reconstruction surgery to restore function," the director of intensive care, women and perioperative services, Susan Henderson, wrote on Queensland Government letterhead.

"Due to increasing demand, coupled with the subsequent unsuccessful attempts to recruit to this specialty over many years, patients like you have experienced delays while waiting for an appointment/ surgery, which is regrettable.

"I recognise that you have been on the waiting list for a considerable time and I apologise that you have not received the breast reconstruction surgery you require. I am also sorry I am unable to offer you an appointment at this time."

The letter reveals the Cairns Base Hospital hired an extra surgeon last September and recruited another from overseas, who cannot start work until August this year "due to registration and medical requirements for international medical graduates".

Ms Yeoman has now received a surgical consultation appointment for next week. She is one of 56,176 Queenslanders on the surgical waiting list, which has grown by 7 per cent in the past two years despite record spending on public hospitals.

Health Departinent data reveals 3807 Queenslanders are still waiting for plastic and reconstructive surgery after accidents or cancer surgery.

From Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 16 Feb., 2020

 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