Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Beam the Beeb up, Scotty!"

"Good afternoon, this is the News at One...and Amnesty's not happy with Space Command"

Oh dear, they just can't take a trick this week!!!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Truth , propaganda; what's the news?

How did the Beeb get this so wrong?

...and no I won't accept glib over-used disclaimers that 'it could not be independently verified' - since when has been ok to substitute quality journalistic reporting with random unsubstantiated grabs from the internet?

Shame on you, BBC, you're nothing more than a bunch of cheer leaders for Team NATO

Monday, May 28, 2012

MESSAGE TO MOTORISTS: don't play 'silly buggers' with cyclists - it'll all end in tears

People donning maroon were everywhere last week whether it was...

- jerseys creating havoc on melbourne footie fields


- number plates creating havoc on Sydney streets

...and it's the latter scenario that causes me the most concern.

A maroon number plate positioned itself ½ cm from my back mudguard in Oxford Street last Saturday night with horn blaring and engine revving. Untapped motoring-maroon rage was palpable and clearly not assisted by my bicycling-blue comment, 'you've got to be joking - back off, mate!'

The 'a metre matters' campaign was far from this visiting marauding number-plate-carrying maroon's consciousness, and left my somewhat bicycling-blue hubbie gasping in sheer disbelief as he witnessed the unfolding nastiness & closeness - (funny how when you're in the middle of a 'blue', you feel far far away)...


Final Score: 100 - 0 to baffled-bicycling-blue team valiantly maintaining position on 'Electra Amsterdam' whilst sharing road with marauding-motoring-maroon team exhibiting redcard dickhead behaviour

MESSAGE TO CRANKY MOTORISTS: 'get a life' rather than try and take one

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Premier's e-diary & me

(wouldn't it be nice if the 'diary notation' below eventuated into a meeting and a spot of bridge building? - sigh)

Receipt of your invitation/correspondence is acknowledged.

The Premier's Office will contact you once your request has
been considered.

Thank you.


Tel: 02 9228 5239
Fax: 02 9228 3935
This message is intended for the addressee named and may
contain confidential information. If you are not the
intended recipient, please delete it and notify the sender.
Views expressed in this message are those of the individual
sender, and are not necessarily those of the office of the

------------------------------- Diary Entry Details

Description: Meeting Request from Sue Abbott re:
mandatory bicycle helmet laws

------------------------- End of Diary Entry Details

...and of further interest today, the Inner West Courier reports on page 5 that...

'...the City of Sydney is keen to trial helmet-free cycling as part of the push for a bicycle share scheme.' Labour councillor Meredith Burgmann has a vision of women in print frocks riding upright, with the wind in their hair and baguettes in their baskets.'

Notwithstanding Mez's vision, one clearly sponsored by french artisan bakers & Liberty's, our Clove...

'...supports the idea but says a larger network of connected separated cycleways is needed before a trial can go ahead.'

Geez, I'll be in a gopher by then and pigs will probably be flying more frequently than Qantas planes!

C'mon, Bazza, it's in your powers to do

Go on, don't make us wait any longer - repeal bicycle helmet laws!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Email to NSW Premier: despatched 16/5/2012

Dear Premier,

I would like to make an appointment to see you soon concerning mandatory bicycle helmet laws.

I understand that you are incredibly busy but even so I am extremely disappointed that I have not had a response from you to the letter and memo that I sent to you in March 2012. In fact I am disappointed all round that of the 135 letters that I sent to the entire NSW parliament less than 10 politicians have been in touch with me. This is poor show from all of you, our elected representatives especially when you consider that we are encouraged by you all the time to ‘become engaged’ with our parliamentarians and the parliamentary process .

It is such a pity that NSW is going to lose the exciting opportunity of becoming the first state to revoke mandatory bicycle helmet laws in Australia. Currently it looks like that honour will be going to WA – shame, it could have looked good in your government’s immensely flawed transport portfolio that currently dogs our state in every department notional or otherwise: aka roads, congestion, public transport, tourism, productivity, public health, obesity, law & order, and lastly but by no means least-ly the environment.

I would like to meet with you soon to see what we can organise together, namely overdue revocation of regulation 256, a simple process by any means which would cost your government next to nothing and make you look good and innovative simultaneously.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,
NSW resident & voter

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Scone Horse Week 2012

(Photos: Hunter Valley News)
...and I'm the one legally required to wear a helmet!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Four Corner's "Hard knocks" - concussion under the spotlight

(Photos: ABC Four Corners - Monday 14th May 2012)
The ABC's Four Corners last night revealed further evidence of Australia's tendency to resist the harsh reality: that its favourite sports and the way they're allowed to operate have grave consequences for all its participants.

After the neurosurgeon in the programme, Bob Cantu from Boston University explained that...

...‘concussion is violent shaking of the brain; and in the brain every instance that the head is hit, there are two different accelerations that happen. One is a straight line acceleration – we call that linear or translational, and it stretches the neuron, the brain cell, it stretches its connection, the axon; and the other is a rotational force – the spinning of the head. That not only stretches, but it twists, and it’s a greater tension or strain on the nerve tissue, and essentially what’s happening is you’re stretching and straining the nerve cell and the nerve fibres themselves,’... can be left in any doubt that this matter is very serious and Australia ought to take note...TODAY.

Sadly the whole programme was a tragic call to arms, and with his usual clinical precision, Kerry O’Brien was spot on when he concluded...

...‘for those who might look to headgear for protection that might prevent some injury, it doesn’t do much to stop the movement of the brain inside the skull, which is what causes concussion’...

...the very same premise which many conscientious objectors raise against Australia's bicycle helmet laws (aka helmets provide no proven protection against the 'rotational-brain' injury sustained from an oblique impact).

In my opinion the reason we have been so slow to come on board with any acknowledgement of the incidences of catastrophic football head injuries is because there are many vested interests, and no-one attached to the industry wants to take the bit between its teeth, and address this huge and menacing elephant in their cosy little club room.

Football is ‘BIG’ money, and any game-change terrifies its ‘bean-counters’.’

No doubt Australian public money will be thrown at this issue but hopefully Kerry O’Brien’s final comment has stymied the all-too predictable trend in Australia for ‘recourse-to-head-gear’ in order to make something safe.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Roll-outs, familiarisation & subsidies - where have we heard this before?

After reading about the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP) displeasure at a certain drug manufacturer for rolling out their latest drug whilst simultaneously pressuring government for subsidies, I couldn't help thinking: 'my, my, my, Big Corpa, how you don't change!'

Understandably, the College is really cranky over the questionable safety of a certain manufacturer's familiarisation program, and furiously warns against the introduction of this new product before 'appropriate guidelines, prescribing practices and monitoring infrastructure were in place.' Furthermore notwithstanding that government review of the product in question is not yet complete, the RACGP's ire has been further stoked by the fact that Big Pharma's familiarisation program has ensured that 25,000 patients have already received the product for free - talk about agressive promotion...and talk about sweetening your case for inclusion on the PBS!

Analagous to this tale of aggressive promotion is another time nearly 30 years ago when another member of Big Corpa was equally intent on rolling out similiar familiarisation programs for their product whilst pressurising governments for the sweetest nectar of all - legislation to mandate your product - oh, Big Helma, did you write the book?!!

Throughout the 1985 Bicycle Helmet Safety Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport Safety the government of the day was equally pressured as our beleagured government today into not only rolling out and subsidising the helmet product but making it law as well - high five for helmet manufacturers!

You only have to take a peek at paragraph 184 where the committee pointed out that 'without a reasonable level of voluntary use, the legislation would be impossible to police and would fall into disrepute' and then para 185 where they chat about 'rebate, bulk-purchase and other schemes to minimise the cost of helmets are important tools in minimising the regressive effects of universal helmet usage.'

They continue chummily in para 189 noting that 'usage rates should be regularly monitored to assist in program development and assess community readiness for universal wearing legislation. Given the differences that currently exist this may have to be on a state by state basis.'

...& by para 190 the Committee were in a position to wisely recommend that 'the Minister for Transport seek the cooperation of the States and Territories through ATAC to:
(a) develop effective bicycle helmet promotion campaigns, with the objective of achieving universal bicycle helmet wearing,.
(b) regularly monitor helmet usage
(c) review the benefits of bicycle helmet wearing* twelve months after the mandatory bicycle helmet standard is introduced, and unless there are persuasive arguments to the contrary introduce compulsory wearing of helmets by cyclists on roads and other public places, and
(d) provide an exemption, if required, to (c) above for
riders in organised road cycling races'

Well as we all know the rest is history because six years later in 1991 Big Helma got their way with the legislated roll out of their product. Years of smoozing governments et anors had paid off, and Big Helma confidently led Australians into a public health debacle that nowhere else in the world was to ever comprehend (quick little caveat: apart from the Kiwis). Despite all the commentary and evidence that the rest of world relies upon, Australian politicians resolutely refuse to acknowledge that that not only have Australian mandatory bicycle helmet laws been a disaster for Australian cycling levels but for Australian cycling safety too.

Still least today's particular body of doctors, the Royal Australian College of General Practioners (RACGP), isn't being hoodwinked by 'Big Corpa practice' unlike the relevant body of doctors back then, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). They were instrumental in the bid for legislation to mandate Big Helma's product, and recognising the community caché that the RACS attracted, Big Helma was only too happy to welcome them on board the Big Ship "Roll-outs- Subsidies-&-Familiarisations" - ship ahoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Condoms more flexible than bicycle helmets

Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) a condom is a medical device, and so for that matter is a bandage...

...but a bicycle helmet isn't!

Why is this so because as far as I can see in section 41BD subsection 1(a) a medical device is:

"any instrument intended to be used for human beings for the purpose of modification of the anatomy...that does not achieve its principal intended action in or on the human body by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means"

Check: bicycle helmets & condoms

But then just as we get our heads around that, section 41BD goes on to perform some classic legislative acrobatics by stating in subsection (3) that:

"the Secretary may, by order published in the Gazette, declare that a particular instrument, is not, for the purposes of this Act, a medical device."...and that declarations under section 7 subsection 4 can have this affect too!

Talk about 'mingy'! - and weirdly just to add to our confusion, there's a little 'note' placed after that 'subsection 3 mingy bit' which in turn notes that "a declaration under this section does not stop articles from being therapeutic goods." !!!!

So off we go in an 'Alice in Wonderland' sort of fashion to the TGA's section 3 interpretation where we now find that 'therapeutic goods' are, among other things, 'medical devices'!!

Check: bicycle helmets & condoms (I think)

I feel it's now imperative that we have a peep at the Secretary's order in the Gazette so that we can step back and marvel at Government's attention to detail!!! No way were they ever going to countenance leaving bicycle helmets as medical devices - you see they can't force people to wear medical devices - there's the tricky little issue of consent!!!!

Conveniently the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No. 1 of 2011 published in the 'Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. S91, 31 May 2011' sets out neatly for us 'Goods that are not therapeutic goods' and 'Goods that are not therapeutic goods when used, advertised, or presented for supply in a particular way'...

...and it's where item no. 4 in Table 1 jubilantly declares "non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment" goods when their "specified use, advertisement or presentation for supply" is "use in the home or for occupational or recreational use" that finally eliminates bicycle helmets as medical devices - poor show, Dr Rohan Hammett, Delegate of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, making that Order under subsection 7(1) of the Act!

Check: condoms

Maybe it's the 'non-sterile' element that let bicycle helmets down in the medical device department - but then not all bandages are sterile are they?

Geez it really does suck - even in the 'Australian Regulatory Guidelines for Medical Devices' (p.160), that proviso is trotted out, and yet again it still provides no rationale for its decision.

Check: condoms & bandages

If bicycle helmets were medical devices we couln't be forced to wear them - sigh

Check: bicycle helmets - I wish - if only!