The Guardian 9 March, 2005

Dingo bytes

Former ABC presenter Linda Mottram has rejected the Australian Broadcasting Authority's (ABA) finding that the ABC breached its own editorial guidelines in its Iraq invasion coverage. She said the finding had even failed to acknowledge the complainant had been a minister (Former Communications Minister, Richard Alston) in a government who had "a direct interest in securing public political support". The ABA, traditionally a commercial broadcasting regulator, investigated Alston's complaints after the ABC's own Independent Complaints Review Panel (ICRP) had previously upheld 17 of his original 68 complaints. Alston referred 43 of those the ICRP rejected to the ABA because he claimed it was more independent. In all the ABA cited four breaches of impartiality guidelines.

Victorian hospitals are being forced to spend millions of dollars each year leasing beds from nursing homes because of a shortage of Commonwealth-funded aged care places. A state government report on hospital services shows that 428 patients needed a residential aged care place in the September quarter. Only 150 had beds under a program known as interim care, while the remaining 278 were forced to remain in hospital taking up beds that could have been used by people on surgical waiting lists.

The Howard governments has hardened its immigration policy by refusing to let visa over-stayers long settled in the community remain in Australia on humanitarian grounds. According to a Senate Estimates hearing hundreds of families have been split up since Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone delegated responsibility to her junior minister Peter McGuaran who had rejected 96 per cent of requests for him to intervene in over-stay cases. "I don't shy away from the fact it will only be in exceptional cases when there is a public interest in me granting visas to people who have failed to meet the normal criteria", McGuaran said. Greens Senator Kerry Nettle had raised the issue in the hearing after complaints from constituents.

Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott's personal views are imposing a "moralistic agenda" on the national HIV/AIDS strategy according to Government sexual health advisers. Health Department bureaucrats changed the draft strategy, written by an HIV/AIDS advisory committee, to include recommendations on sexual abstinence. One source on the committee said bureaucrats changed the draft to accommodate what Mr Abbott would have wanted. Others have said his office had directly intervened in the formation of the strategy. The committee, made up of experts and community representatives, was not told of the changes to the draft strategy by the Minister's office. The strategy is due to be released in April.

HOG OF THE WEEK: is NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney. Mr Moroney rejected the idea that the Macquarie Fields riots were caused by social disadvantage, saying he had grown up on a housing estate. "It's about personal choices. It's about life choices. If you can live on a housing commission estate and aspire to be the prime minister of Australia, that's a life choice", he said.

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