Monthly Archives: December 2022

Australian Politics 2022-12-02 00:58:00


Top Qld oncologist found guilty of ‘unnecessary death’

The doctor has surrendered to his accusers but I don't think he needed to. Imunotherapy can work miracles and it can be argued that is should be tried first before leaping into surgery.

His decision to use ipilimumab is perhaps questionable. It is an older drug that can have severe side effects. Since Keytruda has now been approved for use with melanoma, that would have been a better choice. But it may not have been available under any protocol in 2018

But, as his colleagues say, he should have recognized the side-effects of ipilimumab as they emerged and gone straight into surgery at that point. So there was a degree of negligence there. But as a busy chief oncologist in a public hospital, such omissions can happen. It was probably his workload that was principally to blame

A top Queensland oncologist has been found guilty of professional misconduct, after a melanoma patient died “unnecessarily” due to the doctor’s multiple failures in diagnosis and treatment.

Paul Norman Mainwaring is a former director of oncology at the Mater Hospital and more recently practised at Canossa Private Hospital in Oxley.

He is now co-founder and chief executive of cancer diagnosis biotech company XING Technologies.

In a decision published on Tuesday, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal member John Robertson found that the 57-year-old’s “multiple failures” and, in particular, his initial treatment decision by immunotherapy for the melanoma patient in 2018 was “very serious”.

“The expert evidence against (Mr Mainwaring) is overwhelming, (his) multiple failures and, in particular, his initial treatment decision are therefore very serious,” Mr Robertson states in his decision.

Mr Mainwaring admitted during the tribunal hearing on September 15 that he “acted in a manner that was substantially below the standard reasonably expected of a registered health practitioner of an equivalent level of training and experience”, the decision states.

He also accepted his various failures in treatment decision-making including failure to seek other specialist opinions, and failure to keep notes amounted to professional misconduct.

He has surrendered his medical registration.

The decision states that a 76-year-old patient, known as PB, lost 11kg in weight and “tragically died” in Brisbane on 25 May 2018 after he developed an infection from severe diarrhoea and a perforated gastrointestinal wall which was a “known complication” of the immunotherapy called ipilimumab, with four doses by infusion between January and March 2018.

“Ipilimumab was not the appropriate treatment for the patient given the patient’s melanoma was either a stage IIB or stage IVa; has known side effects due to its high toxicity, including colitis and diarrhoea,” Mr Robertson wrote in his decision.

“The appropriate approach to the patient’s condition was to “wait and see”,” Mr Robertson wrote.

The tribunal heard that three experts in the field - Benjamin Brady, a specialist oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Centre in Victoria, Victoria Atkinson a medical oncologist at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and Brian Bell, the executive director of medical services at the same hospital - concurred that the choice of ipilimumab as a treatment was not clinically appropriate.

Dr Brady and Professor Atkinson told the tribunal that the patient “had an avoidable and unnecessary death” with Professor Atkinson stating that PB “had at worst, a completely resected stage IVa melanoma and had a very high likelihood that he would be cured from his cancer”.

Mr Mainwaring’s diagnosis of the man with a more serious metastatic melanoma “was neither clinically appropriate nor accurate”, when he was more likely to have a less-serious form of melanoma.

Dr Brady also considered that the risks and benefits of the treatment were not adequately emphasised to PB by Mr Mainwaring and that he failed to ask a colleague for a second opinion or for any help in managing PB’s treatment.

Mr Mainwaring has not practised for over three years and surrendered his registration in February 2019.

Prior to surrendering his registration, he had permanently retired as medical oncologist at Canossa Private Hospital and he told the QCAT hearing that he had no intention to return to practice.

“But for his voluntary cessation of practice in 2019, the seriousness of the conduct would ordinarily warrant the respondent be disqualified from practice for a lengthy period to send an appropriate message of denunciation to the medical profession and the community at large,” Mr Robertson wrote.

Mr Mainwaring told the tribunal he deeply regretted the tragic circumstances surrounding PB’s death and offered his sympathies to his family, and he was remorseful for his conduct.


Revenue NSW has cancelled 33,121 fines in wake of the landmark ruling this week

Australians fined thousands of dollars for flouting Covid rules let out a sigh of relief this week with 33,000 fines ruled invalid - with many more expected to be refunded soon.

A landmark court case has seen the fines of tens of thousands of NSW residents withdrawn and the validity many more across the national thrown into doubt.

A Supreme Court judge Dina Yehia SC ruled two infringements imposed by police were invalid after hearing the wording on the penalty notices did not meet the legislative requirement of the Fines Act.

The ruling saw Revenue NSW has cancelled 33,121 fines, with the validity of another 30,000 also now in doubt.

Marrickville mother Karina Williams was fined $1,000 while buying fish and chips with her boyfriend in Croydon Park, just a few hundred metres from her home.

The single mother had failed to register her movement in the Canterbuty-Bankstown council, which at the time had been considered an LGA of concern.

Ms Williams and her partner, who had not been outside his LGA, were both slapped with a $1,000 fine for the perceived breach in August 2021.

For the mother-of-two, who was supporting her two teenage children on JobKeeper, the 'unaffordable' fine became a source of major anxiety.

The unpaid fine attracted several fees before it eventually prevented her from reapplying for her driver's licence after a suspension.

Ms Williams, with the help of lawyers from the Aboriginal Legal Service, was able to quash the debt, but the fine remained on her police record.

There were 62,138 Covid fines issued in NSW totalling $56,587,740.

Of that total, 16,462 fines worth $14,688,520 had been paid as of September, and before Tuesday's decision just 1,363 had been withdrawn.


What is Ozempic and why is there a shortage of it?

Judie Thompson recently drove to a pharmacy 45 kilometres from home to replenish her dwindling supply of the drug she says changed her life. Thompson, 64, from Brisbane, began using the drug in March to manage her type 2 diabetes. Since then, she has lowered her insulin usage from five injections a day to just two – and lost 20 kilograms.

“It’s changed my life totally,” she says. “I was 107 kilos when I went on it, and I started losing weight as well as noticing how well my insulin was working.

“I walk my dogs, which I haven’t done in 10 years. I’m so happy to be me now.”

The drug, Ozempic, which comes as a weekly injection, has been approved in Australia for treating type 2 diabetes but is also sought after because it can help with weight loss, as is its weight-loss-specific counterpart, Wegovy, in the United States. Ozempic is now a “Hollywood drug”, according to some reports. Asked how he got to look “so ripped”, billionaire Elon Musk tweeted it was down to “fasting … and Wegovy”.

Now there’s a global shortage of Ozempic. It will not be available in Australia until April, affecting people who use the drug to manage their diabetes.

What’s causing the shortage? Who should be using Ozempic? And is it a magic shortcut for weight loss?

Ozempic was created by Danish drug company Novo Nordisk in 2012 and approved for use for type 2 diabetes in the US in 2017 and in Australia in 2019. In July 2020, it was listed on the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS) so that it costs about $40 (or $6.60 with a concession card) for a monthly course of weekly injections. The same amount on a private script, or “off label”, can cost $130 or more.

About 1.3 million Australians were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 2000 and 2020, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to use and/or produce insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels.

In clinical trials by Novo Nordisk, it was discovered that semaglutide, which Ozempic contains, had a dual effect: it could also lead to weight loss in patients.

Semaglutide stimulates cells that make insulin while suppressing glucagon, affecting blood glucose levels, says leading endocrinologist and obesity specialist Professor Joseph Proietto at the University of Melbourne. “Semaglutide is an analog of one of our own hormones that we make in our small bowel called glucagon-like-peptide-1 [GLP-1],” adds Proietto, who established the weight control clinic at Austin Health. He says GLP-1 slows gastric emptying “so that it makes you feel fuller for longer, and then it goes to the brain and suppresses hunger. And both of those actions help with weight loss.”


Rio Tinto chief scientist Nigel Steward says hydrogen ‘hype’ faces tough tests in reality

Rio Tinto’s chief scientist has fired a shot across the bows of companies and governments banking on green hydrogen “hype” as a solution to global warming, saying the company does not see hydrogen as a serious alternative to fossil fuels as an export commodity.

Speaking at Rio’s London investor day on Wednesday, Rio chief scientist Nigel Steward said the company did not believe hydrogen could be used as an “energy carrier” in the near future, given its production costs and problems with shipping it around the globe.

“Hydrogen is much hyped, particularly as an energy carrier. We don’t see hydrogen as being used as an energy carrier,” he said.

Mr Steward’s comments fly in the face of the ambitions of Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, which plans to spend billions in the hope of turning green hydrogen into a major seaborne commodity.

But the Rio chief scientist warned investors that recent research suggested that direct shipping of hydrogen at scale could even exacerbate global warming.

“If we want to use hydrogen as an energy carrier, and we‘re going to transport it around the world as liquid hydrogen, that’s problematic because 1 per cent of the hydrogen per day is lost to the atmosphere,” he said.

“Recent studies have shown that hydrogen actually has a global warming potential five to 16 times greater than carbon dioxide. So what this means is it is better to burn natural gas than it is to transport hydrogen around the world and then consume that later.”

Fortescue and other hydrogen hopefuls have said they plan to tackle the issue of energy loss in transporting liquid hydrogen by instead producing ammonia as a means to transport the commodity. But that would require additional chemical processes that would use even more energy, making its use less efficient.

Mr Steward said Rio believed hydrogen could have a major role to play in global energy transition, but said the mining giant believed it was best consumed where it was produced.

“We see hydrogen being used for its unique chemical properties. As a reducing agent for production of green steel, as a reducing agent for ilmenite in the smelting process to make iron and titanium, and also as a source of energy for calcining alumina in our refineries,” he said.

But even that would require a significant technological breakthrough to bring production costs down, he said, given hydrogen production requires significantly more energy to produce than even aluminium smelting.

“It’s a very, very energy intensive material. It requires four times the amount of energy per tonne to produce than aluminium – and we think of aluminium as being very energy intensive,” he said.




Median Household Income in October 2022

Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in October 2022 is $78,813, an increase of $218 (or 0.28%) from the initial estimate of $78,595 in September 2022.

The latest update to Political Calculations' chart tracking Median Household Income in the 21st Century reflects the results of that revision, showing the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through October 2022. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant October 2022 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to October 2022

Adjusted for inflation, October 2022's estimated median household income of $78,813 represents a new record peak for this demographic characteristic, exceeding the December 2021's previous peak by $554. However, we also observe the real rate of growth of median household income noticeably slowed in October 2022, suggesting the U.S. economy is slowing after its third quarter rebound.

Turning our attention next to average personal earned income, we find that this measure continues to show signs of a decelerating economy. Average personal wage and salary income is more sensitive than median household income to changing economic conditions, so its trends are of increasing interest with the rising probability of recession taking hold during the next twelve months. Here is the latest update to our chart tracking the average income earned by individual Americans during President Biden's tenure in office.

Average Individual Earned Income During Biden Era: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to October 2022

Here, we confirm the average American's earned income, after adjusting for inflation, is continuing to trend well below its December 2021 peak in terms of constant October 2022 U.S. dollars, and is nearly unchanged from September 2022's revised level. Meanwhile, nominal income growth during 2022 has slowed substantially compared with how fast it grew during 2021. We see the gap between actual average income growth and a simple linear projection based upon 2021's rate of income growth continues to widen.

Since this chart focuses on incomes earned by individual Americans, it is especially relevant to people who live alone. This particular demographic, which represents 29% of all U.S. households, bears the brunt of the erosion of buying power that has accompanied President Biden's inflation during 2022.

Analyst's Notes

The BEA made significant downward adjustments to its aggregate wage and salary data for the months of April through September 2022. Going month by month, April was revised down by 0.29%, May by 0.49%, June by 0.59%, July by 0.58%, August by 0.54%, and September 2022 by 0.50%.

For the latest in our coverage of median household income in the United States, follow this link!


U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Population. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 1 December 2022. Accessed: 1 December 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 1 December 2022. Accessed: 1 December 2022.

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 10 November 2022. Accessed: 10 November 2022.

Australian Politics 2022-12-01 10:55:00


The Finnish example

In considering the article below, some caution is needed. One should, for instance, not mistake the initial results from a policy change for the final effects. Finland was for some time a world leader in education results on the PISA criteria but it has slipped back to sixth place recently

There are also ways in which Finns are different. Psychologically, they are famously taciturn for intstance. That may help Finns to minimize conflict

Sociologically, all Finns are clearly aware of their heroic struggles with the Soviets. That clearly fosters a sense of brotherhood among them -- something very conducive to acceptance of socialist policies

So what works well in Finland might not transfer well to other societies

The leader of the nation ranked as the happiest in the world arrives in Australia on Thursday, and it presents a great opportunity.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet his Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, on Friday and will surely be interested to learn more about Finland’s success and how it might apply to Australia.

Finland has led moves towards emphasising wellbeing in economic decisions, of the kind that Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers has commenced since Labor took office in May.

Finland is famous for its well-resourced schooling and equality in education funding. This contrasts with the considerable inequalities that remain in Australian school funding almost a decade after the Gonski review’s call for change. Those recommendations lie dormant.

Finnish experience shows that equality between schools – a mutual striving for all schools to be good schools – is the best way to lift a nation’s educational excellence. That collective striving relies on valuing, trusting and fairly rewarding the teachers in those schools.

People will obviously be happier if allowed to pursue what they really want to do with their lives, rather than be pushed into an occupation their parents or others deem to be of suitable status. Encouraging those who choose different vocational paths from a professional career, for instance, contributes to Finland’s happiness. Being in a trade such as a plumber, electrician or carpenter is more valued than here.

Students in Finland are encouraged to follow their natural curiosity. We learn most effectively through trial and error. In Australia, there is too great a requirement for competitive high-stakes testing. This leads to the recitation of pre-prepared “right answers”. It causes anxiety for young people, but it also fails to foster creativity and innovation.

Finland has a remarkable history of innovation, due in part to its strong investment in research and development, which has helped it establish niches of design and production excellence for export. The best-known example is the Nokia company, which dominated global mobile phone production for more than a decade. Australia can learn from this approach to rectify our own underinvestment.

Gender equality is also advanced in Finland. Prime Minister Marin has spearheaded initiatives to increase paternity leave. Last year, paid parental leave in Finland was extended to 14 months, of which almost seven months is allocated for fathers. While some of that paternity leave can be transferred to mothers, most has to be taken by fathers for the family to gain the full entitlement. This “use it or lose it” minimum requirement is the only proven way to lift men’s role in caring for their children.

The new Australian government has made a welcome decision to extend paid parental leave to six months. However, it still needs to demonstrate how fathers will be encouraged to actually take that leave. That will support more mothers to return full-time to the workforce. The proportion of women in full-time jobs in Australia is 20 percentage points below Finland.

Finland is also the least corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International. It stands at equal No. 1 on that index, alongside Denmark and Jacinda Ardern’s New Zealand, who Sanna Marin met on Wednesday. Australia languishes at No. 18, underlining the need for the National Anti-Corruption Commission being legislated in our federal parliament this week.

Finland has consistently pursued social democratic policies, the kind that Australia needs to revive if it is to boost its happiness, educational achievement and gender equality. Marin’s visit should provoke us to ponder the question: Do we want to become even more like America, or be more like Finland? We are poised between those two poles on so many indicators.

Measurements have shown, for instance, that an American with tertiary-educated parents is almost seven times more likely to enter tertiary education than a fellow citizen whose parents had no post-school education. In England, the difference is six times and in Australia, it is four times. In Finland, however, you are almost no more likely to get a tertiary education simply because your parents did. Finland has thus created extraordinary intergenerational opportunities for people from less privileged family backgrounds, based on genuine merit.

Australia can learn from this to further realise the full talents of our people to achieve what they want according to their interests and abilities. Our success, indeed our happiness, need not be determined by inherited advantage.


Police officer who shot and killed Gabriel Messo may have committed homicide, coroner says

Stupid armchair criticism of a split-second decision

A junior police officer who gunned down a man as he savagely stabbed his own mother in broad daylight may have committed homicide, according to Victoria's coroner, who has referred the case to state prosecutors.

Gabriel Messo died after being shot three times by a Victoria Police officer who confronted him as he brutally attacked his mother in a public park in Melbourne's north-west about two years ago.

The assault was so ferocious that his mother, Lilla Messo, lost an eye and developed an acquired brain injury. She ultimately survived the attack.

Mr Messo's death was being investigated by the Victorian State Coroner John Cain, who today found that the first two shots fired by Constable Emmanuel Andrew was an acceptable use of force.

"The level of force used was not disproportionate to Constable Andrew's objective to prevent the assault from continuing and to protect Lilla from really serious injury," Judge Cain said.

But Judge Cain said he was "gravely concerned" about the third shot which was fired just five seconds after Gabriel Messo, who was by that point unarmed, had stopped attacking his mother and was moving away from police as he clutched his torso.

"I have formed a belief to the requisite standard that an indictable offence may have been committed by Constable Andrew in connection with Gabriel's death," Judge Cain said.

"The indictable offences I have formed a belief to the requisite standard include but are not limited to … of homicide, causing serious injury intentionally, conduct endangering life or assault."

He has referred the case to Victoria's director of public prosecutions, who will ultimately decide whether to criminally charge Constable Andrew.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said he was confident prosecutors would assess whether to lay charges as quickly as possible.

"We will await the findings in due course," the chief commissioner said.

"I know this will be an incredibly difficult time for the member involved and Victoria Police will continue to support him during this process."

Police union backs officers involved in Messo shooting
Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt strongly condemned the coroner's findings and said the two police officers attending the Gladstone Park assault had made the right decision.

"We've got a decision to make as a community in Victoria. I can tell you now, police forces around the world are being roundly criticised for attending scenes and doing nothing," Mr Gatt said.

"These officers did something. They went and saved the life of a Victorian, a vulnerable Victorian who had been assaulted there for 17 minutes."

Mr Gatt said the situation needed to be quickly resolved by prosecutors for the benefit of police officers who had been "tormented" by the years-long wait.

He said that he had spoken to both officers and they were shocked by the coroner's findings.

"Does that make us angry? Yes it does," he said.

"Because police officers are asked to do this each and every day, and they shouldn't have to do it under the shadow of this sort of persecution."

Mr Gatt warned the findings could have lasting implications for policing in the state.

"Most people in the community would understand the terrible message this sends to police officers across Victoria," Mr Gatt said.

"Police officers who will get out of their cars and question 'should I rush in and do something or should I sit back, save I be criticised in the cool light of day, years and years later?'"


Washing machine repairman wrongly targeted as a suspect in the William Tyrrell investigation is awarded almost $1.5MILLION in damages

Crooked cops again

A washing machine repairman who was wrongly named as a high-profile suspect in the investigation into William Tyrrell's disappearance will receive almost $1.5million in compensation.

Bill Spedding sued the NSW Police alleging detectives maliciously pursued him while investigating the disappearance of the three-year-old from his foster grandmother's home in Kendall, on the NSW north coast, on September 12, 2014.

His case before the NSW Supreme Court sought compensation for reputational harm and psychological treatment. Mr Spedding also sought exemplary damages to punish police for purportedly using the courts for an improper purpose.

The tradesman was an early high-profile suspect in the disappearance, with police searching Mr Spedding's Bonny Hills home and draining his septic tank in January 2015. But they found no evidence linking him to William.

Bill Spedding was awarded almost $1.5 million in damages after suing the NSW Police Force for malicious prosecution. Above, outside court on Thursday with his wife Margaret
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Bill Spedding was awarded almost $1.5 million in damages after suing the NSW Police Force for malicious prosecution. Above, outside court on Thursday with his wife Margaret

A coronial inquest later found Mr Spedding had an alibi on the day of William's disappearance. He was attending a school assembly for a child in his care that day, and had a receipt from a nearby coffee shop.

During the police investigation into Mr Spedding, the tradesman was charged in April 2015 over the historical child abuse claims, spending 56 days in custody and then being released on strict bail conditions.

The charges were later dropped by prosecutors.

Mr Spedding alleged that the charges were levelled against him in a bid to intimidate and place pressure on him.

Mr Spedding's lawyers claimed a police investigation prior to those charges being laid was 'done in extreme haste' in three or four weeks.

'The investigation was not in any way professional, careful or proper,' said Mr Spedding's lawyer Adrian Canceri during closing submissions in August.

Mr Spedding has claimed the anxiety and depression he suffers were caused by the prosecution and the public attention it brought.

Clear evidence emerged that the complainants had been coached by another person to make allegations and another person's evidence undermined the case, Justice Harrison heard.

Barrister Adrian Williams, for the State of NSW, had argued that misunderstandings occurred but it didn't follow that police were acting maliciously.

William Tyrrell has never been found


Coalition slams proposed changes to referendum rules

The Coalition says Labor is exposing the Voice referendum to a misinformation campaign by scrapping laws requiring voters to be posted a pamphlet that outlines the arguments for the Yes and No cases.

The Albanese government on Thursday introduced legislation to the lower house to modernise laws governing how the referendum will be conducted.

Among the proposed changes contained in the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2022, is the ditching of a provision that requires households to receive an official pamphlet outlining the proposed change to the Constitution, comprising up to 2000 words each on the Yes and No cases.

Shadow attorney-general Julian Leeser said the proposed change would compromise the quality of public debate in the lead-up to the national vote and risked creating an avenue for misinformation and interference to circulate.

“This is not about whether you vote yes or no,” Leeser said. “This is about ensuring the government provides information so that Australians can make an informed choice.

“A successful referendum will only occur if the change is clearly explained, and there is transparency and detail.”

Shadow special minister of state Jane Hume said the scrapping of the pamphlet was worrying as misinformation had already played a role in Australian elections.

“But this is more than just an election, this is changing Australia’s governing document - it could not be more important,” she said.

Introducing the bill on Thursday, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Patrick Gorman said while the government had decided against publicly funding formal Yes and No campaigns, it would fund a civics education campaign, which would inform voters of the facts around the referendum.

“This information will provide voters with a good understanding of Australia’s Constitution, the referendum process and factual information about the referendum proposal,” Gorman said.

He said the pamphlet requirement was first introduced in 1912 and was an outdated mechanism for informing voters in a digital age.

“As the next referendum will be the first in the digital age, there was no need for taxpayers to pay for a pamphlet to be sent to households,” he said.

“Modern technology allows parliamentarians to express their views to voters directly and regularly through a wide range of sources, such as television, email, and social media that did not exist when the pamphlet was introduced in 1912.”

The bill will be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which will report in early 2023.