Friday, October 31, 2008


NSW: Former deputy takes top job at Unions NSW

31 October 2008 Content provided to you by AAP.

SYDNEY, Oct 30 AAP - Unions NSW assistant secretary Mark Lennon has been appointed to the organisation's top job, taking over from John Robertson who has become a NSW Labor MP.

Mr Lennon was elected unopposed as secretary of Unions NSW, having worked for the organisation for the past two decades.He's worked on a number of campaigns including the James Hardie asbestos products dispute and anti-privatisation of the NSW electricity industry.

"One of my priorities as secretary will be in working to strengthen protections and entitlements for all workers," he said in a statement.

"We also need to continually look at how we can make unions more attractive and accessible to a new generation of workers."

Chris Christodoulou, who has worked for the peak council since 1998, was elected the assistant secretary.

© 2008 AAP Disclaimer

Monday, October 27, 2008


Red News Readers,

Lest we forget what evil bastards the Howard Government were. See quote from Phillip Ruddock below.

Jenny Haines

Afghans sent home to die

Cynthia Banham Diplomatic Editor, smh

October 27, 2008

Latest related coverage:

It's hell for Afghans we rejected
Record intake good for nation: Evans

THE Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, has demanded answers to allegations up to 20 Afghan asylum seekers rejected by Australia under the Howard government's so-called Pacific solution were killed after returning to Afghanistan, and others remain in hiding from the Taliban.

The claims are contained in a documentary to be aired on SBS on November 19. The film, A Well-Founded Fear, produced by Anne Delaney, is based on the efforts of Phil Glendenning, the director of social justice agency the Edmund Rice Centre, who has spent the past six years tracing many of these rejected asylum seekers.

About 400 Afghans detained on Nauru were returned to Afghanistan after having their asylum claims rejected. They were told by Immigration officials it was safe to go home, and that if they refused, they would remain in detention forever, according to accounts given to Mr Glendenning.

Another 400 who refused to go voluntarily were eventually found to be refugees and were resettled in Australia or other countries including New Zealand.

Mr Glendenning says he has documented the deaths of nine of the rejected Afghans at the hands of the Taliban, but he believes the figure is actually 20.

Of the other Afghans who returned home, many are hiding in Pakistan, or are forced to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan to evade the Taliban. They include a man whose two daughters were killed in a Taliban attack on his family's home near Kabul, after his asylum claim was rejected by Australia in 2002.

Senator Evans told the Herald he had asked his department to give him a "full briefing" on the matters raised by the Edmund Rice Centre.

He said the department's initial response, "and I am conscious this is the department's response - is that they don't agree with a lot of the claims made".

But he said he was "taking the claims very seriously" and had "asked for further information about the processes that occurred on Nauru and the robustness and integrity of those processes".

Much of the information Mr Glendenning used to locate the rejected asylum seekers was provided to him by sympathetic Immigration officials, concerned at what had occurred under the Howard government.

He believes the Afghans who left Nauru were "lied to" by Australian officials, and he wants the Government to reopen their cases.

"We now have the opportunity with the new Government to put the mistakes of the past to rest," Mr Glendenning said.

Senator Evans said he had an open mind about reopening some of the cases. It would be a big step, he said. "You would want to be convinced there was something very wrong that occurred.

"What some advocates are saying is you ought put them [the rejected Afghans] as a priority in the humanitarian intake over the claims of others. The reason for that priority is that they once came to Australia, were rejected as refugees, and returned to their country of origin," he said.

This would "fundamentally overturn" the basis on which such decisions were normally made, which was on priority of need.

Philip Ruddock was immigration minister until October 2003. Asked for his comments on the rejected Afghans, he said, "I would never say mistakes are impossible." But he added that Australia's asylum system was "robust and credible". He also said the Afghans left Nauru "voluntarily".

"It is the case that Afghanistan is a dangerous place but the [United Nations] Refugee Convention does not say you cannot be returned to a dangerous place," Mr Ruddock said. "The fact that somebody might tragically die [in Afghanistan] may well be as tragic as a road accident in Sydney."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Connie Levett Immigration Reporter, smh

October 22, 2008

BEFORE Villawood, Ms Bao said she had never seen barbed wire, or cockroaches and ants for that matter. Nearly eight years later, all of them spent in immigration detention, there is little evidence of the woman who was once a successful Hong Kong entrepreneur.

Detained in January 2001 and held for 6½ years in Villawood, Ms Bao (not her real name) is now in community detention, having served more time in Australian immigration detention than any person.

"Almost eight years now, even in community detention, you are still in detention. I have suicidal feelings," Ms Bao said, speaking publicly, through a translator, for the first time. "After eight years my mental health is gone. How much longer do I have to wait?

"Every day, every night I can't sleep. The fear is there. Anyone knocking on the door, my heart beats faster because of that. I am not willing to go back; I would rather die here. With my health the way it is, if they do send me back, I would die in prison."

During her time in Villawood, there were two early-morning attempts to deport her without warning. She got as far as the airport before lawyers intervened.

Her case is complex. She came to Australia to visit her sister in 2000 after her husband, a mid-ranking Chinese government transport official based in southern China, disappeared. "In China, people don't just disappear. They disappear because of the Government," Ms Bao said.

Her husband was convicted of corruption and sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

The Chinese Government issued an international alert for her in early 2001. She discovered this when she left Australia to visit her son in Canada.

En route, in Hawaii, she was prevented from entering the US, and returned to Australia, for which her visa was still valid.

In Sydney, immigration officers cancelled her visa because of the alert, and sent her to Villawood. Ms Bao, in her protection application, claimed the corruption charge was a cover for political persecution by the regime and that she will, by association, be persecuted if she is forced to return.

Her case has been rejected in the Refugee Review Tribunal and the Federal Court and most recently she was refused ministerial intervention. She has now appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, who has made clearing out long-term detainee cases a priority, this year personally reviewed - in conjunction with the Commonwealth Ombudsman - all long-term detention cases. In Ms Bao's case he found that it was "not in the public's interest to intervene".

The Ombudsman's report in March revealed the Department of Immigration had sought assurances from the Chinese Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, that Ms Bao would "not be executed or subjected to torture or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment" on her return.

But Nick Poynder, a leading migration barrister, said diplomatic assurances were "not worth the paper they are written on". Countries frequently gave diplomatic assurances but once the person was within the assuring country's jurisdiction there was no way to enforce it, said Mr Poynder, who is assisting with Ms Bao's Human Rights Committee appeal.

Setting aside the protection concerns, Ms Bao is a broken, traumatised woman, whose composure quickly disintegrates when asked to retrace the steps that brought her to Australia.

Senator Evans acknowledged the severe impact on the physical and mental health of long-term detention in a July speech.

"Recent research undertaken by the centre for health service development at Wollongong University dramatically highlights the deleterious health impacts of long-term detention," he said.

Ms Bao is speaking out now only because she is so desperate. She says she will not return to China.

"When I came to Australia I saw it was a country where people have freedom," she said.

"Since these eight years of detention I regret such a country would do this to me. I regret being here for eight years … but I still need to stay here because there is no way I can go back to Hong Kong or China. I can't go anywhere. My only hope is here."

Friday, October 17, 2008


Rise in deaths of children at risk

Brian RobinsOctober 16, 2008

THERE has been a surge in the number of deaths of children at risk in NSW in 2007, despite a $1.2 billion funding injection into the Department of Community Services over the previous five years.

The revelation came at an estimates hearing at State Parliament yesterday, as an inquiry is finalising its recommendations as to whether the Government is doing enough to protect children at risk.

The Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, said yesterday 156 children at risk had died in 2007, up from 114 in 2006. In all cases, the children were known to DOCS as being at risk.

For several years the number of deaths of children at risk has hovered at 100-110 a year.

Criticism over the continued high level of deaths led last September to the Wood inquiry, headed by retired Supreme Court judge James Wood, QC. It is to report its findings by year end.

The number of deaths of children at risk is usually disclosed by the Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, although Ms Burney said yesterday she had told him that if asked during the committee hearings, she would disclose the data.

Ms Burney pointed to the "significant increase" in the number of deaths, which would be of public concern.

"The most frequently-recorded risk factors in reports about children and young people who died in 2007 were domestic violence and parental substance abuse," Ms Burney told the parliamentary committee hearing. "These issues seriously erode our children's safety, accompanied by a third social problem, mental health issues for parents."

Of the 156 deaths, 72 were from natural causes, 18 were babies who died of sudden infant death syndrome, known as SIDS, eight were suicides, eight died in car accidents, five drowned, three died from fires, three from accidental choking or smothering, 11 died in uncommon circumstances such as from a snake bite, four died from fatal physical assaults, and the remaining 19 died due to causes unknown or undetermined.

In all, 55 per cent were involved either directly, or their sibling, in instances of domestic violence in the three years before their death, and there was also 55 per cent in cases where there was suspicion of parental substance abuse, and 24 per cent showing parental mental health concerns

"The Opposition has been calling for a royal commission into DOCS for quite some time," the Opposition spokeswoman on community services, Katrina Hodgkinson, said. She blamed the department for not working closely with other government agencies, a culture of bullying in the department, and a "revolving door of junior ministers" handling the portfolio for the chronic problems.

During the committee hearing, the director-general of the Department of Community Services, Jenny Mason, said that despite successes in hiring more case workers, staff turnover remains high, at 8.9 per cent in 2006-07.

The Opposition put on notice questions about whether a J. Mason who donated $480 to the election campaign of Bob Debus, the former state member for Blue Mountains, and now a federal politician, is Jennifer Mason, Mr Debus's former chief of staff, who is now director-general of the Department of Community Services.

Government members of the committee sought to have these questions ruled out of order.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Why Dubbo's gone to dogs

Natasha Wallace, Health Reporter, smh

October 16, 2008

NURSES have been forced to borrow bandages and medical equipment from a vet to use on patients at Dubbo Base Hospital.

The lack of supplies at the hospital has reached crisis point because of the Health Department's failure to pay millions of dollars in bills.

Do you know more? Are you a nurse, doctor or patient who has been affected? Message 0424 SMS SMH (+61 424 767 764) or email us with information.

The chairman of the hospital's Medical Staff Council, Dean Fisher, said patient safety was at risk.

He said the situation was so desperate that three weeks ago a doctor paid $770 out of his pocket for a few days' supply of reagent - a substance needed for blood tests - because the supplier, Abbott, had refused any more credit to the Greater Western Area Health Service.

An email from the pathology department on September 25, seen by the Herald, said it had only five days' worth of reagent left "due to circumstances beyond our control".

A spokeswoman for Abbott said yesterday the company had suspended supply "for a short time" due to unpaid bills but said it was asked several times to release supply for "critical" tests and it did so.

Dr Fisher said doctors were told surgery was being rescheduled because the hospital had run out of sterilisation fluid for equipment. It routinely ran out of basic supplies such as garbage bags and surgical gloves.

"We've had nursing staff having to go down to the local veterinary clinic to borrow bandages and urinary dipsticks … because the system's broken - and this is on a day-to-day basis. Every day I go to work I have to fight to get my patients into a bed. We have to fight for everything. We've run out of gloves this week," he said.

"It's starting to compromise my work ethics and my colleagues' work ethics in providing a safe environment for patients."

Another company that had suspended supply would not go on the record, fearing its contract would be affected.

On Monday evening the Medical Staff Council passed a motion of no confidence in hospital management and demanded that the Health Minister, John Della Bosca, immediately visit the hospital.

The Australian Medical Association called for an injection of funding for rural hospitals but Mr Della Bosca has refused to rule out cuts to hospitals until next month's mini-budget.

A spokesman for Mr Della Bosca said the area health service had recently paid off $6 million to suppliers, including to 5285 suppliers on October 7. Mr Della Bosca would visit Dubbo but he could not say when. Health Department officials were investigating the late payments, he said.

The area also owed aged and community care provider Catholic Healthcare $2 million, but had promised a payment within a week, an area spokeswoman said.

The chief executive of the area, Claire Blizard, will meet doctors on Monday but would not discuss the financial position or specific claims about shortages. "I have seen reports that doctors and nurses have bought food and other supplies. I thank them for their support but do not wish them to be put in this position again.".. The area service had made payment of local creditors a priority and another payment would be made on Monday night.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Red News Readers,

There used to be a better balance of power between doctors, nurses and administrators that used to keep doctors like this more under control but with the deregulation of the system and the cost cutting, more and more inexperienced staff are working in the system, in face to face care and in management. If these staff do not have the knowledge, skill and experience and the confidence and assertion to stand up to doctors who practice at this sub standard level, the doctor can get away with it for some time before the system catches up them. Mandatory reporting may help, we have yet to see, but nurses and administrators also need to be re-empowered and believed when they report such sub standard practice. Doctors who practice at a sub standard level should not be allowed to get away with it because of the shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas.

Jenny Haines

Doctor investigated over hospital complaints

October 6, 2008 - 11:31AM

Source: ABC

John Della Bosca says he is deeply concerned over the allegations.

A former New South Wales doctor is being investigated by the Health Care Complaints Commission over complaints at a hospital in the state's north.

The complaints have been lodged by 10 former patients at Lismore Base Hospital, where obstetrician Dr Roman Hasil worked for four years from June 2001 to March 2005.
NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca says he is deeply concerned and it is important the allegations are dealt with properly.

"I'll be making sure [the complaints are] dealt with compassionately and with concern," he said.
Mr Della Bosca says there have since been significant improvements in the way complaints are managed in the health care system.

"We're currently discussing national principles for the registration and certification of medical professionals," he said.

"It's very important to understand, however, that quality is something that is daily worked on in our public hospitals and in a situation where the treatment is not up to standard like this one, there's a great deal of concern."

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell says the complaints should be investigated by an independent body.

"The circumstances surrounding the appointment of this doctor, his practices while he was employed by the area health service, should be investigated so that the patients and the public can have some assurance about what went on," he said.

Mr O'Farrell says there are claims that complaints were made and nothing was done.

"Given that health authorities were involved in this situation... it's important that someone outside the Health Department, and not an associated entity, investigate this matter," he said.

The North Coast Area Health Service says patient complaints about the alleged misconduct were handled appropriately.

The health service says a written apology was given to one patient who complained about Dr Hasil's treatment while she was giving birth at the hospital in 2003.

The health service says this complaint and the others raised were referred to the New South Wales Medical Board and the Health Care Complaints Commission.

The overseas-trained doctor is no longer licenced to practice in New South Wales.

© 2008 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

ABC Disclaimer

Saturday, October 04, 2008


US sheds 159,000 jobs

Article from: Agence France-Presse

By Rob Lever in Washington

October 03, 2008 11:14pm

A STRUGGLING US economy lost 159,000 jobs in September as the weight of the housing collapse and credit crunch hit a broad swath of industries, government data showed today.

"There is little doubt that the nation is in a recession, which will only deepen in coming months, as the financial crisis casts a pall on economic activity," said Sophia Koropeckyj at

"This was much worse than was expected, as the full weight of the banking crisis, the cost of imported oil and job losses to China bore down on manufacturing and the broader economy with unrelenting pressure," said Peter Morici, economist at the University of Maryland.

The unemployment rate held at 6.1 per cent, a five-year high, the Labour Department said. The report on nonfarm payrolls, seen as one of the best indicators of economic momentum, showed a sharp rise in the number of cuts after 73,000 job losses in August. It was the ninth consecutive month of declining payrolls, according to the report, which was weaker than the average analyst forecast of a loss of 105,000 jobs.

Payrolls have fallen by 760,000 so far this year as the world's biggest economy has been roiled by a massive collapse in housing that spread to the financial sector and led to global credit crunch.

The report came as US lawmakers were debating a massive $US700-billion rescue plan for the financial system, which has been drowning in losses from the housing meltdown and keeping a tight rein on credit needed for economic growth.

The latest data showed the economy expanded at a healthy 2.8-per cent pace in the second quarter, but most analysts say the figure was misleading because of a surge in exports and the impact of a one-time government stimulus.

Over the month of September, employment continued to decline in manufacturing, construction, and retail trade, while some gains were seen in health care and mining. The manufacturing sector lost 51,000 jobs over the month, bringing the decline in factory jobs to 442,000 over the past 12 months, the report said. About 18,000 jobs were lost last month in the auto sector, which has been reeling from weak consumer spending and confidence. Some 35,000 jobs were lost in construction along with 40,000 in retail trade. The troubled financial sector shed 17,000 jobs in September, with nearly half of the decline occurring in securities and investment firms.

Overall, the report showed the financial sector has lost 172,000 jobs since December 2006. The report showed average hourly earnings rose 0.2 per cent to $US18.17, slightly below the consensus estimate of a 0.3 per cent rise. The average workweek for fell by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours, seasonally adjusted.

"Together this means incomes are going to be crimped that will feed back to weaken spending," said Robert Brusca at FAO Economics. "And the will fed back into jobs. It is vicious circle time."


Red News Readers,

It would be nice to know exactly which working families Rudd thinks will benefit from the bailout given that working families are those who are most likely to lose their homes and jobs because of the credit crisis?

And Turnbull looks very upset personally by all of this. Has he lost money on his shares? Dear dear!!

Jenny Haines

Rudd, Turnbull welcome Wall Street bailout package

October 4, 2008 - 12:28PM, smh

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the US package to bail out Wall Street is a step forward in easing the global financial crisis.

The US House of Representatives passed the $US700 billion package overnight.

"This is a positive step forward in restoring stability to the global banking system," Mr Rudd told reporters in Sydney today.

"But there is still much much more work to be done.

"The stability of the banking system is important to all working families everywhere."
Mr Rudd praised the US administration, Republicans and Democrats, for putting aside their differences and passing the package.

He said he had spoken to both the Republican whip and the Democratic majority leader on the issue.

"Now the challenge is globally consistent financial regulations on transparency, on prudential standards and on corporate governance," Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd said the crisis was obviously affecting the global economy, which is why the Australian government decided to bring forward its national building program.

"We take seriously our responsibility to provide leadership in a time of great global financial and economic crisis," he said.

Turnbull welcomes bailout

Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has welcomed the $US700billion bailout package to US Banks, saying it will ease pressure on Australian banks and financial institutions.

"It is an important step to resolving confidence throughout global financial markets," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney today.

"As for Australia, while we do have a much more secure financial system - better regulated, better capitalised, lower level of default - nonetheless we are part of the world and we have been affected by the global crisis.

"We are in the midst of a global economic storm. We will get wet but we will not sink ... (the move will) benefit Australians and ease pressure on banks and other institutions in Australia."

Mr Turnbull warned that the move was no "silver bullet" and there could still be "rocky" times ahead.

"We have to recognise that this crisis has worsened to the extent that no one could have predicted," he said.

"I would not be surprised if we had more bad days on Wall Street, but I would hope that the trend will be to improve.

"Certainly we would be in a much worse position had this bailout bill not been passed."

Mr Turnbull added that the greater level of stability would make the role of every central bank "a lot easier" and hinted that a cut in the reserve bank rate was likely next week.


Friday, October 03, 2008


Yuko Narushima and Mark Metherell, SMH

October 3, 2008

THE first boatload of people to be intercepted off Australia's coast by the Rudd Government arrived at Christmas Island yesterday, but the lack of detail on the detainees has drawn accusations of secrecy from the Opposition.

The navy detected a boat with 11 male passengers, one female passenger and two crewmen off Ashmore Reef on Monday. The group was transferred to Australia's detention facility in the Indian Ocean by Customs.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, used the swift action dealing with the group to demonstrate the Government's strong stance on border protection.

"They are unauthorised arrivals and are subject to mandatory detention," he said yesterday.

"The interception of this group of unauthorised arrivals clearly demonstrated the Rudd Government's border security arrangements are working."

The Government has not identified the group's country of origin but confirmed translators had been flown to the island to help with identification.

The Opposition spokeswoman for immigration, Sharman Stone, said the Government was being cagey with information on the arrivals, three of whom claim to be juveniles.

"The Government quite clearly would know from the navy what languages these people were speaking and they would have put appropriate interpreters on their plane," she said.

"It's a case of the minister being coy. It's important to be transparent. Australians are very sympathetic and welcoming and I am surprised that Minister Evans is keeping a little veil of secrecy around this," Dr Stone said.

She said the needs of the people were more important than their country of origin.

Australia has a $396 million detention compound built by the Howard government at Christmas Island, which, since completion, has not been used. The new arrivals were being kept at a smaller complex on the island, at Phosphate Hill, saving on the costs involved with running an 800-person compound unnecessarily.

The Government could not say yesterday what it cost taxpayers to process people offshore. So far these include passage for the unauthorised arrivals to Christmas Island and a plane to transport translators and staff to conduct interviews and testing.

Offshore processing continues policies introduced by the Howard government. Known as the Pacific Solution, the policies were designed to prevent people reaching Australia.

The removal of the boatpeople to Christmas Island, outside Australian domestic territory, depriving them of recourse to Australian law, has drawn a cool response from the Refugee Council of Australia.

The council's president, John Gibson, said that although the asylum seekers were being kept away from the mainland, the Labor Government had established "a more benign process" giving the boat people access to independent review and welfare support.

"Within the current framework it is the best outcome we have got …We would obviously prefer the excision ended," Mr Gibson said, referring to the previous government's excision of offshore islands for legal purposes.