Looking at Australian politics from a libertarian/conservative perspective...
R.G.Menzies above

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Two of my ancestors were convicts so my family has been in Australia for a long time. As well as that, all four of my grandparents were born in the State where I was born and still live: Queensland. And I am even a member of the world's second-most condemned minority: WASPs (the most condemned is of course the Jews -- which may be why I tend to like Jews). So I think I am as Australian as you can get. I certainly feel that way. I like all things that are iconically Australian: meat pies, Vegemite, Henry Lawson etc. I particularly pride myself on my familiarity with the great Australian slanguage. I draw the line at Iced Vo-Vos and betting on the neddies, however. So if I cannot comment insightfully on Australian affairs, who could?


29 April, 2016

Greenies trying to stop oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight

It's Greenies doing what Greenies do and compromise is unknown to them.  But if drilling is to be banned there, drilling is impermissible anywhere.  For most of the length of the bight (over 1,000 kilometers), the land adjoining the Bight is basically desert.  There's nothing there.  So virtually no people to endanger in any way.  The land concerned is not called the Nullarbor plain for nothing.  Most people seem to think it is an Aboriginal name but it is in fact Latin -- meaning "No trees".   That's how barren it is. 

And the minimal runoff from the land means that there is not much to encourage life in the seas there either.  There will of course be marine life feeding off marine algae and the like but there is no reason to think any of it is unique, let alone importantly unique.  All deserts have creatures in them at low densities so the Greenies can claim that creatures on land and sea there are "endangered" but that is just a reflex.  Nobody that I know has shown that there are in fact unique creatures there, let along importantly unique ones. No doubt there are whales etc there but are there any whales there that are not found elswhere?  Even the Greenies have not yet claimed that.

So if exploration even in a desert area is impermissible, where is it permisible?  To Greenies NO oil exploration or new production is permissible but less obsessed  people do not have to agree

When executives of the global oil giant BP fronted the company’s general meeting in London this month they knew they faced ­plenty of upset shareholders.

The mop-up from the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had just eaten up another $US20 billion ($25bn) of shareholder funds in a major legal settlement, and collapsing world oil prices had smashed the company’s full year profit, causing an investor revolt over an executive bonus scheme that seemed completely at odds with the financial performance.

But when the most senior BP executives faced investors, the level of hostility towards an oil ­exploration project 16,000km away took them by surprise.

“Gosh, this investment in Australia is not very popular today,” BP chief executive Bob Dudley said. But he couldn’t see why all the fuss. “The country had an area and invited people to participate in a bid,’’ Dudley said. “We do this around the world in exploration; ­it is not a particularly unusual or harsh area.”

BP’s plans, along with rival oil giants, to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight is highly contentious, but the potential rewards — up to 1.9 billion barrels of oil worth up to $110bn (at today’s depressed prices) are great. But so are the risks. It could be the next Bass Strait, enthusiastic backers claim. Or it could be the next Deepwater Horizon disaster, passionate ­opponents warn.

At the general meeting, BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg emphasised that the company was not trying to pressure governments. “To run Bight or not run Bight is not a decision for BP,” he said. “It is a ­decision for Australia.”

Now, as BP plans a $1bn exploration program and a $US750 million drilling rig nears completion in a South Korean shipbuilding yard, the federal Senate is taking a very keen interest.

Today, a Senate inquiry holds its first public hearings, hoping to determine how the contentious drilling permits were issued and administered and whether the great risks in drilling in such a ­hazardous environment as the Great Australian Bight were properly assessed.

The Bight drilling program is at a very early stage but is vigorously touted as being the next Bass Strait: an area containing billions of dollars worth of oil reserves that could transform Australia from a net importer of crude oil into an exporter.

For risk-hungry explorers it represents one of the world’s great unexplored deepwater oil regions, similar in potential to that of the Niger and Mississippi deltas. Major oil companies, led by BP, Statoil, Chevron and Santos, are lining up for a piece of the action.

But the calamitous events six years ago in the Gulf of Mexico, when an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon well killed 11 wor­kers, spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, killing countless wildlife, ruining fisheries and decimating local communities, mean that the Great Australian Bight drilling plans have put environmental groups on high alert.

Leading environmental groups have spent many months war gaming a major confrontation with BP over its Great Australian Bight plans. The campaign dovetails into a broader agenda to limit fossil fuel developments, most particularly in new frontier and ­potentially difficult areas like ­Alaska and deepwater targets such as the Great Australian Bight.

BP says in its submission to the federal Senate inquiry, it wants the matter concluded quickly “given the Senate has taken the unusual step of specifically naming our company and its proposed investments in Australia”.

Global oil and gas production will keep rising over the next two decades, it says, to help meet world demand for primary energy. It points out that Australia has produced oil since the 1960s with a history of drilling in Commonwealth Marine Areas, including the Great Australian Bight. And Australia is a net oil importer, as consumption keeps rising despite domestic oil production steadily falling. The whole nation would benefit from the discovery of a new oil or gas region, and not just through tax and other macro­economic benefits, BP says.

“Wood Mackenzie, an independent oil and gas analytical firm, estimates the potential resource in the Great Australian Bight to be 1900mmboe (million barrels of oil equivalent) of oil — more than 20 times the entire ­Australian production in 2014,” BP’s Senate submission says. “A new oilfield development could make a material difference to the balance of payments — and to tax revenues.”

Ironically, BP was granted special tax arrangements over its Great Australian Bight exploration program and can deduct 150 per cent of costs from its royalty obligations. But in response to publicity about the tax arrangements, the company said it “considers transparency an important requirement to increasing trust in tax systems around the world”. The company told an earlier Senate hearing into tax avoidance that BP Australia’s effective tax rate had averaged 28.4 per cent over the past five years with income tax payments alone exceeding $2.2bn.

Given the company’s recent history in the Gulf of Mexico, however, it is not tax matters that concentrate the minds of environ­mental groups.

The Great Australian Bight is an “extra­ordinary ocean and coastal environment of global conservation significance”, the Wilderness ­Society says in its Senate inquiry submission. “It is remote, wild and pristine, with more local marine life diversity than the Great Barrier Reef.

“While scientists are still trying to understand the diverse eco­logical values of the Bight, we know already that it is a major haven for whales, including the threatened southern right whale, and home to other significant ­marine wildlife such as the Aus­tralian sea lion, giant cuttlefish, dolphins, great white sharks and a vast array of seabirds. All of this life and ­immense natural beauty supports thriving fishing and ­tourism ­industries and a uniquely Australian way of life for the many ­coastal communities of the Bight.”

Both sides are haunted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. ­According to BP, if the Bight was hit by a worst-case scenario — a loss of control of the well resulting in uncontrolled flow of petroleum into the ocean, “oil would take ­several weeks to reach shore and the direction in which it could drift ­varies due to seasonal differences in current and wind direction”.

But the Wilderness Society says an oil spill from a deep-sea well blowout could close fisheries in the Bight, Bass Strait and even the Tasman Sea while even a low-flow oil spill could affect all of southern Australia’s coast, from Western Australia right across to Victoria through Bass Strait and around Tasmania.

BP aims to begin exploratory drilling in October and has a $US750m harsh environment, semi-­submersible oil drilling rig nearly completed in South Korea and ready to ship to the Bight.

The Senate has a fortnight to investigate but given the looming federal election, it is feasible the Senate may not finish the task. The inquiry terms of reference call for an assessment of the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of BP’s plans, including the risks of something going wrong.

Submissions to the inquiry ­include local councils and fishing groups. The city of Victor Harbor thinks the risk of an oil spill within the Bight may be low but the ­consequences potentially catastrophic. It points out that the Bight is a pristine environment and a critical sanctuary for many threatened species that support two significant industries: fishing and tourism.

The South Australian Oyster Growers Association says it does not want to block potentially beneficial oil projects for the Eyre Peninsula and South Australia. But drilling for oil does pose a “significant risk to the currently pristine unpolluted environment and the image of this”.

“These are the features that our reputation and credentials in the marketplace are based upon, and have taken decades to ­establish and promote,” the association says.

Then there’s damning evidence by the world’s foremost engineering disaster expert, Bob Bea. Bea, nicknamed the “Master of Disaster”, criticises BP, saying there is not “sufficient information to determine if BP has properly ­assessed the risks”.

“The information that has been presented indicates that BP has apparently integrated the key ­aspects of what has been learned about drilling in high-risk environments,” Bea says. “However, the information is not available to ­determine if BP has properly assessed and managed the risks ­associated with an uncontrolled loss of well control.”

Bea, professor emeritus at the Centre for Catastrophic Risk Management, University of California-Berkeley, has worked for more than 55 years on offshore oil and gas industry operations in 72 countries.

The American ­Society of Mechanical Engineers journal says: “If Robert Bea turns up on your project, it’s not a good sign. Either you’re in the middle of a major disaster or someone is worried enough to send out the ­nation’s foremost forensic engineer to take a look.”

The Wilderness Society says BP has admitted containment booms and skimmers will not work in the Bight and that the area is “right on the edge of” the reach of helicopters. But of major concern is the level of secrecy ­imposed by the government-­sanctioned ­appro­v­ing authority, which has all of the environmental powers of the federal government over the offshore exploration area including endangered and listed marine species.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority is an ­independent statutory authority that is the national regulator for health and safety, well integrity and environmental management for offshore oil and gas activities in Australian waters.

Green groups demand that BP release its environmental plan and that the federal government assemble an independent expert panel to look at oil drilling in the Bight. They claim NOPSEMA does not have necessary environmental expertise. “While we know the Bight is a pristine marine environment with at least 36 species of whales and dolphins, there is still much we don’t know as the GAB Research Project, which BP has partly funded, won’t report until mid-2017,” a Wilderness Society spokesman says.

The Wilderness Society is ­demanding a transparent process. “Instead, we have an Environment Minister who has handed off his responsibility to protect the environment to a poorly known regulator; one running a highly flawed and opaque process that fails to ensure the protection of our environment or properly assess the cumulative impacts of all potential oil development in the Great Australian Bight.”

BP is no doubt banking on the Senate inquiry falling victim to the electoral cycle. It wants to start drilling in October and the federal government has delegated the ­decision to its regulator.

In its own Senate submission, NOPSEMA says a final decision on the BP plans for the Bight is yet to be made. It notes that two statutory independent reviews found NOPSEMA to be a “robust, rigorous and competent regulator”.


Manus Island asylum-seekers in legal limbo as PNG shuts detention centre

Malcolm Turnbull has categorically ruled out bringing the asylum-seekers detained on Manus Island to Australia, warning against becoming “misty-eyed” about the plight of more than 900 asylum-seekers and refugees in limbo on the island.

Although his Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has chosen his words carefully – indicating some refugees may be allowed to come to Australia on a non-permanent basis – the Prime Minister today declared “none of the detainees there will come to Australia”.

“We are seeking to ensure that the people detained at Manus can either settle in PNG as they have the opportunity to do, or in third countries, but they will not come to Australia. I want to be very, very clear about that,” Mr Turnbull said in Hobart..

“There will be no transfer of those individuals to Australia because to do that would send a signal to the people smugglers to get back into business, and that is utterly unacceptable.”

Mr Turnbull said the government needed to show people smuggling syndicates that Australians were “very clear and determined” in defending their borders.

“If we want to have secure borders – if we want to ensure that women and children are not drowning at sea, put into leaky, dangerous boats by criminals and gangsters, by people smugglers – then we must have secure borders and we do and we will, and they will remain so, as long as I am the Prime Minister of this country.”

Bill Shorten pledged a “unity ticket to defeat the people smugglers” but blamed the Coalition’s “incompetent” handling of Manus Island for the political “train wreck”. “Labor is resolute against the people smugglers. It doesn’t matter about Liberal or Labor we have the same position on opposing the people smugglers,” the Opposition Leader said.

“But Minister Dutton and Prime Minister Turnbull have created a situation, an almost unworkable situation of semi-permanent, indefinite detention.”

Victorian independent senator John Madigan said the government needed to “man up” and accept the asylum-seekers, warning of “devastating effects”. “The government’s policy on asylum seekers has always rested on the idea that we must treat those who arrive on our shores as harshly as possibly as a deterrent to others. Whether or not this is effective, it is immoral,” Senator Madigan said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young claimed the government’s policies were about “fear-mongering, punishing people and winning votes”.  “We don’t need to have this cruel treatment of people seeking asylum, there is a better way. Assessing people’s claims quickly and fairly, so that they can be flown here safely, is the answer,” she said.

International lawsuit may force Manus detainees’ return

Papua New Guinea could bring an international lawsuit to force Australia to take back more than 800 asylum-seekers from Manus Island, Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs said today, with the Turnbull government refusing to permanently resettle any of the refugees.

The federal government was scrambling to decide on a response last night after the O’Neill government demanded “alternative arrangements” for the 905 ­asylum-seekers and refugees on the island, sparking renewed calls to settle them on Australian soil.

PNG High Commissioner Charles Lepani today insisted the asylum-seekers were “within Australia’s responsibility” and his government never understood it has been asked to hold them “for such a lengthy period of time”.

“It’s an issue that Australia has to deal with. That’s our position,” Mr Lepani told ABC radio.

“This is within Australia’s responsibility; they are there on account of us trying to help Australia resettle and process these people. That was the original intention — to process these people, not to have them for such a lengthy period of time.”

However Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was adamant the men would not find permanent sanctuary in Australia.

“The men off Manus Island will not be settling permanently in Australia and we will work with the Papua New Guinea government to help them return home or back to third countries,” he told the Nine Network.

Professor Triggs said the stand-off could ultimately be resolved by both governments submitting to arbitration by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“Basically of course Australia can’t force Papua New Guinea to hold people who were originally Australia’s responsibility, but equally of course for practical matters it’s very difficult for Papua New Guinea to force Australia to take these asylum-seekers back,” she told ABC radio.

“International law always has the option of perhaps initially some form of mediation or conciliation, possibly even an agreed arbitration of the matter, but ultimately it would be of course possible for one to bring another state before the International Court of Justice — the world court — for determination.

“There’s a long way to go to think about that, but these are always options in international law.”

Professor Triggs said it seemed “very unlikely” that either major party would buckle on its “politically successful” policies on the eve of an election.

“It may very well be that it takes a unanimous decision of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court to finally shift certainly public opinion and maybe hopefully also political views,” she said.


Greenies trying to worm their way into Primary school classes
A new program is being launched to Primary Schools during Term Two by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Australia. The Future Generations program focuses on bringing the cross curriculum priority of sustainability into every subject – from the Arts to Humanities and English.

Through consultation with Primary School teachers across the country, FSC Australia found that incorporating sustainability into subjects other than science was sometimes difficult and resources were limited or hard to find. “We are a five star sustainable school and sustainability is core to our values, but we still struggle to integrate sustainability into lessons. And it’s so important for the children to take an active interest in sustainability and the future of our world,” said Stephen Rothwell, Principal, Chatham Primary School.

Working closely with Deakin University and with the support of Tork® Professional Hygiene, FSC Australia has developed a series of lesson plans and activity sheets. These free lesson plans are available for primary levels from one up to six and are inline with AusVELS curriculum. The lesson plans and activities are creative and thought-provoking and cover topics including deforestation, ecology and the food chain.

The role of FSC is to help take care of forests, their wildlife and the people who live and work within and around them. Forests provide material for so many things in our lives such as books, tissues, furniture, buildings and more. As Adam Beaumont, CEO of FSC Australia puts it, “By ensuring these resources are managed responsibly, we at FSC seek to strike a balance between the needs of society and the needs of the forest. The Future Generations program aims to increase awareness of FSC and its role within the next generation.”

The Future Generations Lesson Plans and Activity Sheets are available and free to download through the FSC Australia website.

Press release from FSC

'Sneaky' move gives Queensland Premier major advantage at the ballot box

Queensland's opposition has likened Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's controversial voting reforms to Greg Chappell's infamous underarm bowling tactics that embarrassed Australian cricket 35 years ago.

Liberal National Party leader Lawrence Springborg says while parliamentary rules allowed the Labor minority government to 'sneak' through compulsory preferential voting last Thursday, they weren't in the spirit of the game.

The shock move, without public consultation, gives Labor a major advantage at the ballot box, assisted by preferences far more than the LNP.

A still-fuming Mr Springborg compared the blindside to what former Australian captain Chappell did when he ordered his younger brother, Trevor, to bowl underarm in a one-day international final to deny New Zealand a six for a possible last-ball tie.

'What the Labor Party may have done in parliament may have been in the rules but just the same as the infamous underarm bowling incident with Trevor Chappell in 1981 it may have been in the rules but it doesn't make it right,' he said.

'Ms Palaszczuk came to power in Queensland promising to be open, accountable and, above all, consultative.  'Last Thursday in parliament she became all of those things she rallied against in 2014-15.'

Ms Palaszczuk defended the government's actions, saying it would help prevent informal voting and bring Queensland in line with federal elections.

She also said she was looking at compulsory preferential voting in local government elections, much to the chagrin of the Brisbane lord mayor.

Graham Quirk said Labor councillors had already spoken about wanting compulsory preferential voting two weeks before, and said the public should view the change in a 'cynical' way. 'This was a choreographed piece - this is a premeditated arrangement,' he said.


Conservatives love to hate political correctness, but the left should rail against it too

A Leftist below argues for civil debate over political issues.  She may even mean it. Leftists are normally civil only to those who agree with them, so a call for civility from them is usually a demand to agree with them

Gay Alcorn

By far the most insightful person on Australia’s Q&A program this week was the Catholic theologian and philosopher John Haldane. He took complicated and charged questions and tried to make sense of them. In doing so, he spoke of something critical in a liberal democracy, something we are at risk of losing – the idea of “reasonable disagreement” on controversial issues.

“People who hold contrary views on these matters are neither stupid nor wicked,” he said. “In the US, conservatives tend to think of liberals as being bad people, immoral people, but liberals think of conservatives as if they are stupid.” The answer was not moral relativism, or a failure to make decisions, but “civic friendship” in the way we discuss these issues.

“We’ve got to keep the conversation open.”

I am wary of religious doctrine whatever the faith. Religions have a history of intolerance and there is a remarkable lack of self-awareness by those who complain it is now the religious who are being silenced on debates such as same sex marriage.

Yet Haldane identified a trend that is no longer a fringe tendency in Australia and in many parts of the western world. Labeling people who have an unpopular view as somehow intrinsically bad or immoral, declaring such views as intolerable even to hold, is now a big part of our culture and is having an impact on our conversations and our politics.

This is not just about religious conservatives feeling that their views, while not silenced, are so ridiculed and personalised that few feel comfortable expressing them. It is just as prevalent in the attempts to silence or attack those who identity as progressives but who may have sent an insensitive tweet, or hold a view that transgresses the orthodoxy of the moment.

For many supposed progressives, disagreement must now be accompanied by a personal attack against someone who doesn’t deserve a say because of who they are, not for what they believe.

I support same sex marriage, yet am deeply uncomfortable with the assumption that anyone with reservations must be a bigot and a homophobe. That is the level of the debate in Australia, and it is championed by so-called “progressives”, who display with glee the same intolerance they rightly accuse churches as historically holding.

It is an insidious tendency because of course progressives should stand up for greater levels of equality and for the human rights of the marginalised and disadvantaged. But to do so by devaluing free speech and thought on the grounds of championing the aggrieved is a betrayal of progressive politics in a fundamental way.

It has not been helped by our well-meaning discrimination laws, which have endorsed and encouraged the view that being “offended” should be unlawful. The very idea debases notion that debate, ideas, and openness to complexity is the way to make progress.

It is a symptom of what’s gone wrong that the Tasmanian anti-discrimination commission deemed the Catholic Church had a case to answer for its booklet opposing same sex marriage on the grounds that it could offend, humiliate or insult same sex couples and their children. To be offended and insulted is distressing, but nobody should be legally protected against it in a democracy, even on a highly emotional issue such as this.

The insistence on personalising disagreement is pervasive.

Actor and writer Stephen Fry has apologised for a few sentences he uttered at the end of a long and fascinating interview in the United States. The irony of this little incident gives it a poignancy beyond the familiar pattern: someone says something that deliberately or accidentally offends people, who declare their hurt and anger, demanding the person is sacked from their job or at least be publicly shamed. The targeted one, sometimes famous, sometimes not, says “up yours”, or more likely grovels an apology, perhaps deleting their social media account to crawl into a hole for a time.

Fry’s was just one example, but it was so telling that he was shamed when the entire purpose of his interview was to discuss the so-called “regressive left”. What happened to Fry was exactly what he was talking about – to be pilloried by the left for something he said that was certainly insensitive, but hardly worth the vehemence of the reaction.

More broadly, he was talking about the phenomenon of people identifying with the progressive side of politics being so intolerant of views deemed unacceptable, especially regarding anything to do with race, gender, sexual identity and religion.

Fry appeared on The Rubin Report, a program that regularly scrutinises this phenomenon. Host David Rubin is convinced that the regressive left is the equivalent of America’s Tea Party – dangerous for progressive politics, whose purpose should be to champion reason and debate to achieve greater equality and improve human rights. “If we don’t have the courage to stop them, then a year or two from now we’ll wonder why our system is screwed up even more than it is now,” says Rubin, who thinks of himself as a progressive.

I don’t think Rubin is overstating the dangers of declaring certain thoughts and speech unacceptable. Although, as Fry would say, it’s complicated.

In the 11-and-a-half-minute interview, Fry mused about all this in his erudite, amusing and slightly pompous way, and said he feared that “the advances of the Enlightenment are being systematically and deliberately pushed back” – the idea of free thinking, open societies not ruled by churches or “enforced thinking”.

“Enforced thinking” was prevalent because “life is complicated and nobody wants to believe that life is complicated, this is the problem. You might call it infantilism of our culture”. The example he gave was the campaign, ultimately unsuccessful, by some students who demanded Oxford University remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College.

Rhodes was a student at Oxford and left money to provide a prestigious scholarship. He was also undoubtedly an imperialist with a belief in the racial superiority of Anglo Saxons. Even in his own time, his views were considered extreme by many.

For outspoken students, a Rhodes’ statue should not grace a university where minority students already felt intimidated – it was offensive to them and a sign that Oxford had failed to come to terms with its past. Pulling down monuments to people who do not have views acceptable in our own age would keep all of us busy for many years, yet the students made a valid point – who would not understand why Confederate flags in the US are so deeply offensive to African Americans?

Fry’s view was that the student campaign was an example of a tendency to declare someone good or bad, full stop. “To remove his statue strikes me as being stupid,” he said. “The way to fight colonialism and the ideas behind it is not to pull down statues. It’s to reveal, to say who he is … look at him, occasionally throw an egg on it.” How very old-fashioned of him to argue that free speech and argument can expose repellent views, that it isn’t necessary to erase them from history, to “unperson” them.

Fry went on to discuss the movement particularly on American campuses to ban people from speaking who might offend or “trigger” deep feelings in some students because of their experiences or their identity as a minority. “There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape. To say the word rape is to rape,” Fry said.

Rapes are “terrible things and they have to be thought about clearly”.

“But if say you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in a Shakespeare class or you can’t read Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, and it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I’m sorry. It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self pity gets none of my sympathy…. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up.”

I know what he meant, but Fry expressed that woefully. In the context of all that had gone before, he was not saying that victims of sexual abuse should just “grow up”. He was trying to say – clumsily – that if you’re a woman, or a victim of sexual assault, or a racial minority for that matter or a transgender or homosexual or all the other signifiers of identity politics – your personal feelings and experiences are not enough to censor other views, to restrict free speech.

There are real examples of sexism and racism and of course they need challenging. And nobody pretends free speech is absolute. In many ways, I love the fiery pushback from people who have indeed been, and still are to varying degrees, marginalised in a culture that privileges the white middle class heterosexual man. Yet the words “racist” “misogynist”, “homophobe” and “bigot” are so routinely bandied about now they have lost their power.

The cry of “shame” at something someone said or did, the social media pile on, perhaps wouldn’t matter too much except that its impact is to stop people being honest about what they think for fear of being attacked by the mob. Not just that. It’s an insistence that people who hold such views are morally bad.

Many people now roll their eyes at feminist Germaine Greer, but recently on Q&A she refused to be bowed, and there was something brave about it.

It is a sign of human progress that transgender people at least in parts of the West are far more visible and that discrimination against them is being acknowledged and starting to be addressed. Yet as hurtful as it must be for the trans community, I don’t think Greer is alone in questioning the insistence that, somehow, Caitlyn Jenner was always a woman, even at birth.

Did anyone else groan when Glamour Magazine named the famous trans woman its “woman of the year”, or when Jenner declared the hardest thing about being female “figuring out what to wear”?

These are hard issues to raise, and it’s an old feminist debate, but Greer doesn’t accept that men who identify as women are women. She hits a nerve when she says in her outrageous way that, “I don’t believe a woman is a man without a cock”. Call her transphobic if you like, but better to loudly present the arguments why she’s wrong, or just ignore her.

But the outraged don’t want that – last year, Greer faced a campaign by campus feminists to ban her from speaking at a university about a different subject because of her “transphobic” views. Feminists are tied up in knots with intersectionality and understandably want to support marginalised women. But trying to shut down dissenting or offensive views is another kind of intolerance.

And so what happened to dear old Stephen Fry, a homosexual and bipolar sufferer who has fought hard against intolerance and discrimination? The symbiotic relationship between the mainstream media and social media makes the trajectory predictable. A few people were “outraged” on Twitter about Fry’s remarks about victims of sexual abuse. And so the Telegraph in London had a story: “Stephen Fry tells sex abuse victims to ‘grow up’ prompting social media outrage.”

That’s the story – social media outrage. I am sick of reading stories that begin “Twitter was outraged” but it’s obvious why it’s become routine. Conventional media, as well as platforms like Facebook, need drama to achieve online traffic.

“There is a toxic relationship between mainstream media and social media,” said Jon Ronson in an interview recently. Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, chronicles how lives can be ruined by social media humiliation. “To begin with old media just ignored Twitter,” he said. “Then it tried to emasculate it by doing ‘the 50 best tweeters’ pieces, trying to control it ... and then what happened was that mainstream media began to bow to Twitter’s agenda setting.”

So Fry was fried, but surely nothing he said in his interview justified the ugliness of some of the response.

The right loves all this stuff. Conservatives rail against “political correctness” but have little commitment to social justice or addressing structural inequality. Yet progressives should rail against it too, much more strongly than they are now. Because it’s not progressive in any way. The censors of the left may have the best of intentions, but too often, they’re just another bunch of reactionaries.


28 April, 2016

On Anzac Day Dissent And Political Correctness

Michael Brull is a far-Leftist Australian Jew.  So he hates Israel and Australia in roughly equal measures. But he is always good for a laugh.  His talent for missing the point is unfailing.  As with many Leftist articles, his article below is very long-winded. I have however reproduced it all so that people can see that he just doesn't get it.

Yet his basic point can be expressed quite simply.  He says that Leftist criticism of the ANZAC commemorations is somehow disallowed or suppressed.  But he quite spoils his own argument by listing towards the beginning of his article all the Leftists who HAVE criticised it, some of them quite prominent.

And if such criticisms have been suppressed, how is it that way back in the benighted early '60s my junior High School curriculum included a study of what is probably the most anti-ANZAC story ever written -- Seymour's "One day of the year".  And that was during the Prime Ministership of Sir Robert Menzies, an archetypal conservative.  Brull is talking through his anus.

He seems to have realized that his article lacked point and was  wandering all around the place like Brown's cows so he concluded it by saying:  "We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so".  It's a conclusion that is quite detached from the rest of his article.  If he had shown that someone has denied him those entitlements, it might have made sense -- but he did not.  All he shows is that conservatives sometimes criticize  criticisms from Leftists.  Is it not allowed to criticize Leftist criticisms?  Is it only Leftists who are allowed to criticize? He seems to think so:  Typical Leftist bigotry.

The big thing that is totally missing from his article is any awareness that ANZAC day is a day on which we remember the premature deaths of our relatives.  I had relatives who died in both world wars.  I never knew them.  I was too young at the time.  But I know the families and know they must have been people like me who felt like me and I know how grievous their deaths were at the time. An uncle Freddie of mine in particular was much loved and I regret that I never got the chance to know him. 

And most people who attend ANZAC day ceremonies are like that.  Their degree of  closeness to the dead will vary but they will all be mourning relatives.  And the ex-servicemen who march will be remembering close friends who were lost.

And enlisting in the armed forces is an heroic act.  We walk into great danger.  We offer to put our lives on line to defend our families from an enemy.  And on ANZAC day we honour that heroism

And, Yes. I myself did voluntarily enlist and serve in the Australian army in the Vietnam era.  I never got to Vietnam but I did apply to go

Go beyond the tedium of mainstream Anzac Day coverage and you’ll see the meaning ascribed to the Day, and the way the history around it is constructed, remain hotly contested. In a fundamentally political disagreement, shutting sceptics out should be seen as an act of political correctness, writes Michael Brull.

Once again, Anzac Day has sneaked up on me. For those of us who are unpatriotic, it is easy to feel like we’re a negligible minority. It is easy to think that your feelings of ambivalence, indifference, or even hostility to Anzac Day are totally marginal and isolated. It is just you and a few of your friends, while the rest of the nation patriotically gets up early and cries on cue at the heroism of our diggers. Yet the truth is that there is plenty of dissent about Anzac. The only reason you don’t hear about it so often is that it’s usually shut out of the mainstream media.

Right-wingers are perfectly aware of this. Since 2009, right-wing historian Mervyn Bendle has been complaining about academics trashing the Anzac legend, in a series of long and tedious essays for Quadrant. The “intelligentsia and the Left”, he complains, offer a perfunctory nod to the bravery of the Australian soldiers in World War One, only to follow by emphasising what they think really matters: an approach which is “always critical, debunking and even denunciatory of the legend, applying a form of methodological nihilism to allege that at the core of the Anzac legend there is nothing—only meaninglessness, futility, error, ‘a nightmare happening in a void’ as George Orwell remarked of Great War literature. Alternatively, if there is something at the core of the legend, it is shown by the revisionist to be unworthy, wicked and iniquitous—militarism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, masculinism—and therefore can and must be condemned and ridiculed.”

One summary of a collection of academic writings by Adrian Howe, an Associate Professor at RMIT University, identifies the Anzac legend as “a masculinist and British imperialist military tradition”; a “nationalistic, militaristic tradition [that is]class-based, race-based, ethnocentric and male-centred”; while Anzac Day is “a day celebrating Anglo-Australian manhood, militarism and a bloody defeat in an imperialist war [and]should be abolished”.

The list of offending scholars is long. They include Anthony Burke, Mark McKenna, Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake, James Brown, and David Horner. Military historians come in for a particular scolding, including Joan Beaumont, Brown and Horner again, Peter Stanley, and two books edited by Craig Stockings. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating is also counted among the unpatriotic. Bendle grumbles that in a speech, Keating “largely regurgitated the nihilist view that the conflict was pointless and futile, which has long been the default ideological position of the Left.” Alas, Keating dismissed “the war as the lamentable product of European tribalism, ethnic atavism, nationalism and racism in which Australia had no stake”.

Bendle assures readers in the tiny, largely unread magazine of the aggressive, purportedly highbrow intellectual right that Keating’s “facile, unhistorical ramblings” are wrong: “the Anzacs who sacrificed their lives or their health in battle did so for a great cause. To pretend otherwise is to betray their memory.” Thus, to doubt the cause of World War One, 100 years later is to betray the soldiers. It turns out that to be properly patriotic, we must not just mourn the dead. We must also celebrate the reasons they were sent to die.

In a sense, Anzac Day isn’t just about remembering suffering of soldiers. The sanctification of their memory is done with a political intent, with particular political aims.

The parallels to today are not hard to find. Many people thought it was really terrific how there were such widespread demonstrations around the world before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Even if they didn’t stop the war, at least they showed anti-war sentiment. Was there any precedent for such anti-imperialism?

Yes, there was. Adam Hochschild reminds us of the large anti-war demonstrations across Europe before World War One. As Austria declared war on Serbia, 100,000 protesters converged at the heart of Berlin against war. The French Socialist leader Jean Jaurčs stood with his arm around Hugo Haase, co-chair of the German Social Democrats, before an audience of Belgian workers. In Britain, Keir Hardie spoke to an enormous crowd at Trafalgar Square, “the largest demonstration there in years”. To wild cheers, according to Hochschild, he urged a general strike in the event of war.

As is known, these protests more or less ended as the war started. As in 2003, the media decided to “support our soldiers”. Like Bendle, this support for the soldiers in practical terms meant stifling any doubts or criticisms about the cause for which they were sent. Though the interests of soldiers and the politicians who command them are not necessarily the same, they are conflated by leading political figures. The loyal scribes of these politicians assure the public that to doubt the politicians is to doubt the soldiers, and how dare anyone cast aspersions on those risking their lives to keep us safe and defend our freedom? How dare anyone belittle the sacrifice of the soldiers, by questioning the values and wisdom of the politicians who send them into harm’s way?

Last year, Scott McIntyre was fired from the SBS for his blasphemies about Anzac Day, at the behest of Malcolm Turnbull, then, judging by Turnbull’s own words, the Minister for Right-Wing Communications. Though McIntyre’s tweets were condensed due to the nature of the medium, his supposedly inflammatory comments were duly analysed by academic specialists on the Anzacs. Professor Phillip Dwyer, Director of the Centre for the History of Violence at University of Newcastle, agreed that the Anzacs were “no angels”, whose members included those who behaved in “overtly racist manner”, and also rapes and summary executions. Geoff Lemon observed that it was hard to argue that Gallipoli was “an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with”.

Recording historical facts about wrongdoing by Anzacs makes it harder to valorise the soldiers. They shift from becoming our heroic diggers, to human beings, many of whom acted in the flawed ways armies often act in conflict zones. Yet historians have not just challenged the factual basis for hero-ising the soldiers. They are also resolutely sceptical about the value of worshipping the Anzacs. Frank Bongiorno commented that “Anzac’s inclusiveness has been achieved at the price of a dangerous chauvinism that increasingly equates national history with military history, and national belonging with a willingness to accept the Anzac legend as Australian patriotism’s very essence.”

Academics are not infallible. Academic specialists can be wrong, just as academic specialties can function to mostly serve power. Anyone who has too much reverence for academic specialists should revisit the performance of all the economists who failed to predict the 2008 crash. They may know more than the rest of us about what happened during the war, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily more right about the reverence with which the Anzacs should be treated.

My point in reviewing their Anzac scepticism is not to suggest that academics verify or vindicate such suspicion. It is to suggest that jingoism tries to pretend a moral or political disagreement is somehow inherently illegitimate. There are many different ways to approach history. Trying to sanctify one approach to one aspect, and acting horrified at those who dissent from this particular approach is a political act.

As noted by Jumbunna researcher Paddy Gibson, in response to Aboriginal protests of Invasion Day, Prime Minister Bob Hawke started to push Anzac Day as an alternative to Australia Day as a way to cement Australian nationalism. This support for Anzac Day since the late 1980s has revived and reshaped Anzac Day, as the government has sought to push Anzac Day, and the particular values of its modern incarnation, on the general public. This culminated in the extravaganza of last year, when the government spent over $300 million on Anzac commemorations. Yet there were signs this had limited effects. Australians didn’t tune in to the World War One documentaries. Attempts to flog Anzac merchandise were increasingly seen as tacky. Everyone tried to cash in. Woolworths and Target put the Anzacs in their marketing. Now folded soft-porn mag Zoo featured a woman in a bikini with a poppy to mark the special day.

This kind of marketing was seen by some as exploitative. But using Anzac Day as a way to promote the virtue of World War One while hiding behind the political sanctity of Australian soldiers who died seems comparably cynical.

If we’re going to remember the past, and celebrate parts of it, why single out Australian soldiers? Why not celebrate Aboriginal warriors, who died resisting the invasion of their land and the decimation of their peoples and cultures? Why not celebrate trade unionists, who secured some of the best working conditions and entitlements across the world, and kept Australia one of the more egalitarian Western countries until the 1980s? Why not celebrate the suffragettes, who earned white women the vote in Australia before most of the rest of the world? Why not celebrate the activists for Aboriginal rights, who fought for land rights, treaty and sovereignty? Or those who won Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the vote, and dismantled most elements of formal racial discrimination in Australia? Why not remember and celebrate the Australians who fought against World War One? Or those who successfully campaigned against conscription in Australia during World War One, or those who successfully ended Australian involvement in the war on Vietnam?

We can imagine a conservative response to these suggestions. Ah, but you see, these are political choices. Celebrating feminists, anti-imperialists, Aboriginal resistance and trade unionists doesn’t reflect the entire political spectrum. We couldn’t base nationalism on the political values of a segment of the population. It would leave out the rest of us.

Perhaps that’s fair enough. But what about those who feel left out by Anzac Day? Honouring those who fought in a war, while refusing to permit reflections on whether the war was unjust or not, is political. And so are nationalism and patriotism.

Some people may be proud Australians, who think ours is the greatest country on earth, with a largely, if not entirely unblemished history. Those who disagree are not committing a crime, they are simply engaged in a political disagreement. Australians who are horrified at Anzac sceptics are simply trying to enforce their political correctness on the rest of us. We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so.


Police close down Facebook page exposing Police bullying and suicides

NSW Police have abused their power and in effect directed Facebook to take down a support page for police, former police and their families who are dealing with mental health problems such as stress, depression and to help with suicide prevention. Posts on the page were broad and allowed people with mental health issues to reach out for support while other posts gave families and friends the opportunity to pay tribute to deceased officers.

It seems the only reason that the Facebook page (The Forgotten 300) was taken down is that a few posts criticized some serving officers and other posts were critical of the lack of support within the police force for officers and former officers suffering mental health issues.

The police have admitted that they had Facebook take down the page (18th March 2016) yet there was no allegation that any crime had been committed or anyone had been defamed. There was no legal basis given to have the page taken down so one has to assume there is none.

The NSW police say they did not like the fact that a number of serving officers were criticised on the page:

“With regards to the Forgotten 300 Facebook page, I can confirm that the NSW Police Force did contact Facebook regarding concerns over numerous posts considered offensive and detrimental to the wellbeing of particular serving officers.”

“My understanding is that Facebook independently reviewed those posts and has taken action in accordance with their own terms and conditions.”

“The NSW Police Force respects the privacy and wellbeing of all its employees. If content appears on social media channels that is offensive and causing distress to current officers, we have an obligation and responsibility to ensure these officer’s wellbeing and will act to provide advice and support.”

They say “posts considered offensive and detrimental to the wellbeing of particular serving officers”. Where is the evidence supporting that statement? And where is the concern, when the page was deleted, for the stress and duress suffered by people who used the Ther Forgotten 300 page for support?

You can’t close down the internet

The Forgotten 300 Facebook page had over 54,000 followers and was started in 2012 when the NSW state government capped compensation claims for injured police. The 300 related to the number of officers that were short-changed the compensation they would have been previously entitled to. The page was started by the wife of a former police officer.

Forgotten 000's

In 2013 the administration of the page was handed to former police officer Berrick Boland. The Forgotten 300 page was deleted by Facebook on the 18th March 2016 and while it did get some media coverage (Click here to read) it should have been a lot more.

Berrick Boland has not sat idle since the page was taken down and another page has been set up called The Forgotten 000’s which has been broadened to cover all emergency services people such as Firefighters and Ambulance Drivers etc. Mr Boland has also set up a website which is still under construction awaiting a first post but will be up and running soon.


Labor’s child care ‘crocodile tears’

Labor’s rank child care hypocrisy was on stark display in an astonishing press release today that ignored the work the Coalition has done to reduce the ballooning child care fee growth that became the norm under Labor.

“The reality is that this Government hasn’t done a single thing to help families access affordable child care.” - Kate Ellis, Media release, 24/4/16

What the Opposition spokesperson for early childhood Kate Ellis has hoped no one would remember is that child care fees grew at an average of 7.8 per cent per year during Labor’s time in government and spiked up to 12.5 per cent in 2009.

That’s compared to the Coalition’s record where we’ve brought that growth under control, with child care costs increasing by only 3.6 per cent in the last year.

What this shows is that we have reduced the growing cost burden for families and taxpayers by taking action to cap certain types of hourly fees and streamline payments to parents who are studying.

In an act of startling admission, Labor also confirmed that their stalling and blocking tactics have prevented almost one million families getting more accessible, affordable and fairer child care.

“This is nothing but a cruel promise to hard working families – to pretend to offer help and get their hopes up…” - Kate Ellis, Media release, 24/4/16

At every turn Labor has stood in the way of the savings required to fund the Coalition’s more than $3 billion additional investment in child care that will give more children access to early education and care and will support families and parents who most depend upon child care in order to work, or work more.

Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis have zero credibility when it comes to child care and pre-school education. Their mistakes in government left a legacy of accelerating fee increases.

Labor’s 2008 change to the Child Care Rebate, without a check on what providers could charge, was described by the Productivity Commission report into the sector as having “accelerated” the climb of child care fees (Page 391), meaning families and taxpayers pay more.

Where the Turnbull Government has tried to fix Labor’s mistakes, the Opposition has only sought to play politics and cry crocodile tears while families suffer.

The Coalition is the only party with a plan to deliver the flexible, accessible and affordable child care system that today’s modern families require.

Press release from Sen. Birmingham

Anti-Islam parties after your vote on election day

THEY’RE the far right wing parties hoping for a Trump-style revolution in Australia at the federal election.

From a party calling for an end to the “Islamisation of Australia” to another whose leader has a criminal past — how much do Australians know about these parties?

After being deposed as prime minister last year, Tony Abbott warned that a splinter right-wing movement could damage the Coalition.

“The last thing we need is another conservative party, particularly a rogue conservative party that is raging against the world. That’s the last thing we need,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax last year. He also said the emergence of One Nation almost led to defeat for John Howard in 1998.

Will the rise of Donald Trump in the US, some Coalition voters disenchanted with Malcolm Turnbull and the rising threat of terrorism lead to a groundswell of support for these extreme parties? What realistic chances do they have on July 2 or are they just standing for election to make some noise? went to find out.

Jim Saleam is a survivor of far right politics in Australia. He has stood in elections since the 1980s, helped start the nationalist party National Action in 1982 and has spent time in jail. He now runs the Australia First Party out of his home on a busy highway in Tempe, south of Sydney.

The party will have candidates contesting the Federal Election, including Dr Saleam standing in the western Sydney seat of Lindsay.

It is an important area for the anti-immigration party, with debate over a mosque at Kemps Creek helping Australia First gain some traction.

(The party had a councillor elected to Penrith Council in 2012 before he resigned from the party to continue on council as an independent councillor).

Most recently, Dr Saleam stood against Treasurer Scott Morrison at the 2013 election and only gained 617 votes.

But the party isn’t really interested in getting elected. It’s just keen to get its controversial message out there. “We see the electoral process as a chance to put some of our views out there but also an opportunity to mobilise people around movements and issues,” Dr Saleam tells

The party’s “eight core policies” include an end to multiculturalism and limiting immigration to white Europeans.

They want to see the White Australia policy reinstated. “I had the great privilege of being born into that sort of Australia. And I made a personal decision many years ago that my children would die in that sort of Australia,” Dr Saleam said.

He mocked other far right parties such as the Australian Liberty Alliance that are opposed to Islamic immigration. “Diversity minus Islam is still diversity.

“As Pauline Hanson always says there’s a right way and a wrong way (to enter Australia). We say, ‘No right way, no wrong way, no way’.”

He believes Australians are being “ethnically cleansed”.

But Dr Saleam’s past and the party’s extreme views mean it will never attract a big following.

(The party was deregistered last year because of a lack of members, only to be reinstated this year when it reached the minimum number of members of 500).

In the 1990s, he was jailed for three and a half years for supplying a gun to two men who shot up the home of an African National Congress representative.

(After getting out of jail, Dr Saleam spent five years at Sydney University where he did a PhD on right wing politics in Australia).

He still maintains he was set up by the police and his case was one of “four great political trials in Australia”.

As for being labelled a racist, he doesn’t seem to mind. “I really don’t care. It’s something that’s inevitably said because obviously I exercise a racial preference,” he said.

“The label of racist doesn’t really disturb me that much, it’s more (important) that people read what we actually do say.”

Kirralie Smith rose to prominence with her anti-halal website Halal Choices, which has more than 24,000 followers on Facebook and aims to take action against the halal industry. She saw a move into politics as the next logical step.

She will contest the Federal Election in the NSW Senate with the new far right-wing party Australian Liberty Alliance. The anti-immigration party will have candidates running for the Senate in every state and territory.  The party was launched by anti-immigration Dutch MP Geert Wilders late last year, with Ms Smith saying it now has “thousands of members”.

Ms Smith is quick to point out the party has 21 policies, but its anti-Islam stance has naturally drawn the most attention. Among its core policies is to “stop the Islamisation of Australia” and for “integration over separation”.

“Islam is not merely a religion, it is a totalitarian ideology with global aspirations,” the party’s website says. The party says Islam “seeks dominance over all aspects of human life and society”.

Ms Smith got involved with the party because of her concern about “political correctness”. “I thought if I waited any longer then we might be in real trouble,” she told

Ms Smith said political correctness was “shutting down debate” on issues such as same sex marriage and the Safe Schools policy.

Mr Wilders has been a controversial figure in European politics. He has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and called for it to be banned.

“I may not agree with every statement he’s made, but I generally agree with his sentiment. I’m generally on the same page, but maybe I wouldn’t say things the same way he does,” Ms Smith said.

“I’ve read the Koran, but haven’t read Mein Kampf, so I couldn’t make that comparison. But what I will say is the Koran is an extremely dangerous book.  “There are over 100 passages that incite violence against non-Muslims.”

Ms Smith said claims the party was racist were “ignorant”. “We have members of all backgrounds and all ethnic grounds and all belief systems, well almost all belief systems,” she said.

When asked if the party had any Muslim members, Ms Smith said: “I don’t know, I don’t know every member”.

The party and Ms Smith have been likened to Trump because of calls for zero immigration, with Ms Smith laughing off any similarities.  “That’s just sensationalism,” she said. “I’m not going for prime minister, but I just call a spade a spade. That’s about as far as the comparison can go.”

It was Pauline Hanson’s One Nation that was the first right wing party to win widespread appeal when it was formed in 1997.

The party outpolled the Greens and the Australian Democrats in the following year’s Federal Election in the lower house. They received one million votes for the Senate to win one seat.

Now back at the helm of One Nation, Ms Hanson will run for a Queensland Senate seat at the Federal Election.

Ms Hanson, who has been more known for her appearance on Dancing with the Stars in recent years, shot to fame with her maiden speech in Parliament in 1996.

Then the independent MP for Oxley, she said Australia was being “swamped by Asians”. “(They) have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate,” she said.

Twenty years later, Ms Hanson said voters had realised what she said all those years ago had proven correct.  “I’ve been on the political scene for 20 years and people are realising that what I said years ago is actually happening,” she told

In her maiden speech, she also called for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) to be disbanded (it was in 2005) and opposed privatising Telstra.

Ms Hanson also said offshore processing for asylum seekers was another One Nation policy later implemented.

The former fish and chip shop owner has contested state and federal elections in recent years without success. Last year she narrowly lost the seat of Lockyer in the Queensland State Election by 214 votes after preferences.

She said changes to Senate voting at the July 2 election would give her a greater chance of a return to federal politics.  “Previously the Liberals, Nationals and the Greens have always preferenced One Nation last. This gives the preferences back to the voters,” she said.  Ms Hanson said preferences had always “destroyed” One Nation.

But Ms Hanson was dismissive of parties such as the Australian Liberty Alliance.

“They’re a one issue party — you’ve got to look beyond that,” Ms Hanson told


27 April, 2016

Deconstructing Greer

Now the Left are turning on a feminist icon

Dominic Perrottet

Recently I received a letter, as NSW Finance and Property Minister, demanding that I urgently remove the ‘Germaine Greer’ plaque from the Sydney Writers Walk in Circular Quay.The reason for the demand, sent from a concerned, vigilant citizen, was that Ms Greer holds horrifically bigoted views on transgender issues, so her name can no longer defile public places in NSW.

Although it was just one letter, it’s a telling example of the Left’s ruthless totalitarian reflex. As Stalin erased Trotsky from Soviet photographs, so Ms Greer must be expunged, our public places sanitised – that’s progress, comrade.

Ms Greer is a particularly interesting target for the Left because she was once its darling; a feminist pioneer at the vanguard of the gender revolution. She stuck it to the man, and is still sticking it to him.

Unfortunately for Ms Greer, these days the man sometimes identifies as a woman, which means the once-celebrated feminist is now guilty of le thoughtcrime du jour: transphobia. Explaining her position on Q&A last week, Greer didn’t retreat: ‘If you’re a 50-year-old truck driver who’s had 4 children with a wife and you’ve decided the whole time you’ve been a woman, I think you’re probably wrong.’ See, this insolent fuddy duddy refuses to grasp that such thoughts are no longer ‘acceptable’. In the ever-shifting hierarchy of progressive issues, the trans-agenda now trumps feminism. So for Ms Greer, it’s confess, recant, conform, or you’re out.

That anyone would think it appropriate to denounce Ms Greer to a Minister of the Crown came as a shock to me. But this is the world we are in: public office holders are under increasing pressure to use state power to enforce the ‘progressive’ agenda. Sadly, too many are caving.

Take Germany, where a comedian is now the subject of a government-approved criminal investigation – for making jokes about the president of Turkey. Or Tasmania, where the Catholic Archbishop is being dragged before the anti-discrimination commission for publishing a pamphlet explaining his own Church’s teaching on marriage. Or Scotland, where the Glasgow police – providing locals with some helpful advice on the perils of social media – recently tweeted: ‘Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend…’

That’s right McDougall: you’re just one Facebook post away from hearing the friendly local constabulary’s jackboots crunching up your driveway.

Defending freedom doesn’t mean agreeing with every offensive statement anyone makes. A case in point: a few weeks ago some unruly footy fans unfurled a banner at the MCG emblazoned with ‘STOP THE MOSQUES’.

The reaction was swift and ruthless. Eddie McGuire told the ABC that those responsible should be banned from footy. AFL boss Gillan McLachlan got busy ‘talking to the Victoria Police to see how they may prosecute’. No matter that there are no grounds for prosecution: where there’s a will, there’s a gulag.

When a similar banner was unfurled at a game in WA, the police jumped straight in, marching the fans out and banning them from the ground.

When I’m watching a match, I pre- fer not to be distracted by louts with offensive banners trying to stir the polit- ical pot. But if footy codes are going to politicise games with statements about refugees and rounds where players wear rainbow bootlaces and the like, it’s not clear to me why one set of political statements is permitted, and another isn’t; why we’re free to use the game to spruik (invariably left-wing) political views on some issues, but get bundled away by cops for voicing opinions on others.

If you’re banning the Sydney University Evangelical Union for the unspeakable crime of requiring its executive to believe in Jesus (Marx forbid!), more power to you. If your target is George Pell, or Tony Abbott, or some other conservative punching bag, go ahead and spew your hate-filled bile from the rooftops. You’ll be lauded as brave and a hero and get interviewed on ABC, and maybe even nominated for Australian of the Year (or at the very least a Logie).

But if you want to use your freedom to challenge the dogmas of the new orthodoxy, I’m sorry comrade, that’s not what freedom’s for, so put a sock in it. Or else.

As Ms Greer’s cautionary tale illustrates, conservatives aren’t the only ones liable to find themselves on the wrong end of a progressive truncheon.

The revolution always eats its own, because there is no rhyme or reason to the opinions ‘progressives’ endorse from one day to the next. Their beliefs – no matter how ruthlessly enforced – may be useful in advancing ‘progress’ to some fabled utopia, but once their utility has expired, those beliefs can be discarded like last season’s flared corduroys. That’s where serious thinkers like Ms Greer run into trouble. Because serious thinkers have serious arguments rooted in serious principles that can’t simply be jettisoned.

When you abandon your principles, it’s hard to see the point of debate, other than to see who can shout the loudest. Contests of ideas degenerate into contests of fists. That’s not progress.

True progress demands a truly free exchange of ideas, because the best ideas are forged in the furnace of fierce disagreement – the battle of ideas, where wits are sharpened, arguments blunted, minds expanded, and gradually, truth revealed.

Nothing has made this clearer to me than the responsibility of legislative decision-making. Free debate is simply indispensable in that process. But I have felt the chill setting in – the reluctance to speak out, even among colleagues, on matters of huge importance, for fear of falling foul of the PC police.

This is the path to dead-end, unthinking government. If democracy is to survive, we must defend freedom. We must resist the growing pressure to deploy the state’s firepower to enforce a ‘progressive’ agenda that criminalises dissent. Because you can only have progress with a contest of ideas. And you can only have a contest of ideas if you are free.


Biodegradable bags aren’t better than regular plastic bags,  report finds

CONSUMERS like to believe we’re doing the right thing for the environment. Purchasing plastic bags or coffee cups marked “biodegradable”, “compostable” or even plain old “environmentally friendly”, helps us sleep better at night.

But a new Senate inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia has found that “biodegradable” plastic bags are just as bad as regular plastic bags.

“While consumers might feel they are ‘doing the right thing’ by choosing biodegradable or degradable plastic, these products simply disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces to become microplastic,” read the report based on the senate’s findings.

“The committee also notes that there is some community confusion regarding the differences between biodegradable, degradable plastic, compostable and traditional plastic.

“The committee strongly considers that education campaigns are required to ensure consumers make informed choices about the alternatives to traditional plastics being offered.”

Normal plastic bags are usually made from petroleum, while biodegradable bags are made from plant or organic material which can decompose much faster.

But UNSW biodiversity expert Mark Browne, one of several scientists who made submissions to the inquiry, says the biodegradable material has the “same level of environmental impact” as that in regular plastic bags.

“These pieces of microplastic can be ingested or inhaled by animals,” Mr Browne told

“They can enter their lungs or guts and can transfer chemicals into the blood and surrounding tissues, which can affect how well they’re able to fight off infections.

“In plants, they can block the plant’s access to light, and plants need light to photosynthesise and produce food,” he said.
Plastic bags can kill marine life. Here a scuba diver swims over a discarded plastic bag tangled on a coral reef.

Plastic bags can kill marine life. Here a scuba diver swims over a discarded plastic bag tangled on a coral reef.Source:Getty Images

These microplastics can also affect how much food and water animals can consume.

“The particles fill up the animals’ guts and they’re not able to consume as much water or food. They may die from dehydration or starvation or being infected because their immune systems have been reduced,” Mr Browne said.

“The public is buying or using these bags thinking that they’re a quick fix, but there is not enough testing to prove they’re safe.”

Clean Up Australia managing director Terrie Ann Johnson told the inquiry marine plastic pollution is a growing global threat to biodiversity.

“[It’s already having a devastating impact on the Australian environment with significant potential to disrupt our lifestyle and lead to substantial economic loss,” she wrote in a submission.

Ms Johnson said it was a common misconception that marine debris and plastic pollution in Australia is a result of international pollution, or waste generated “at sea”.

According to the CSIRO, around 75 per cent of our marine debris is generated by Australian people, “not the high seas, with debris concentrated near cities”.


ABC inconsistent on sexism

Twitter provides a wonderful insight into the real thoughts, leanings and character of public figures — especially journalists. Last year, on this very day, for instance, we discovered what SBS sports reporter Stuart McIntyre really thought about the hundreds of thousands of men and women who risked their lives or sacrificed them in defence of our freedom and security.

Paul Bongiorno is a MWW favourite for his green Left commentary on RNBreakfast. We often ponder why he is paid by taxpayers to add his hard Left views to a radio network that already defies its charter obligations on balance to run a green Left agenda.

My theory is that Radio National pays Bonge to make the likes of Fran Kelly, Phillip Adams and Jonathan Green appear more mainstream.

Bonge is often first to harangue anyone from the right-of-centre over any comments that could be construed as sexist, xenophobic or insensitive. Yet in a revealing moment last week he tweeted about an American actress, Bel Powley, who was suggested to play Monica Lewinsky in a telemovie. “The actress not ugly enough,” tweeted Canberra’s Italian stallion.

Really? The former priest chose to publicly ridicule Lewinsky — surely a victim of sexual harassment if ever there was one — as ugly. Apart from being absurd and nasty it raised the question of why he would want to demean a woman in such a way.

We are left to presume it had something to do with how Lewinsky’s treatment helped to harm the reputation of progressive hero Bill Clinton. Clinton, of course, cops no abuse from Bonge; he saves that for the victim. Given the way Bonge (rightly) railed against sexist attacks on Julia Gillard, he is left looking like a misogyny hypocrite — just the sort we might expect Kelly to call out on RNBreakfast. We’ll listen with interest.

We couldn’t accuse the ABC of being inconsistent on border protection. Well OK, they went a little quiet on it for six years of chaos under Labor. But when they focus on it, they are consistent — in short, they are against border security and are prepared to run, unchecked or unverified, all sorts of claims about the mistreatment of asylum-seekers.

In an exchange related to border security last week the host of ABC radio’s PM, Mark Colvin, tweeted: “It’s the job of journalism to ask government for facts.” Had Colvin suddenly developed a naive faith in government? No, it transpires that Colvin was backing his ABC colleague, Peter Lloyd, in a rant against the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, apparently because he wasn’t responding to questions about an asylum boat turned around by the Sri Lankan navy.

Yet it seems Lloyd only knew about the turn-back because Dutton had announced it, and talked about it on 2GB. On Twitter, the Minister included a link to the Sri Lankan navy’s website for additional information. Still, Lloyd and Colvin were publicly chastising Dutton for his failure to respond to a list of 20 questions — there was “no reply” as yet, tweeted Lloyd as Colvin tweeted this was despite the “large numbers” of media types employed by the department.

As is the way in the new unbearable lightness of journalism, Lloyd also tweeted his questions. He wanted to know the date and port of the boat’s departure, when it was intercepted, how many people were on board etc. Well, I can tell him. There were nine people (five men, one woman, two boys and a girl) on the fishing vessel Rishna Duwa, intercepted at 6am on April 19th, about 30km off Negombo, the port of its departure. It was a colourful little boat painted bright green, yellow and orange. I can tell you this because all this information, and more, was available on the Sri Lankan navy website via the link Dutton had tweeted nearly 24 hours before the Colvin and Lloyd twitter protests.

Perhaps, in future, when the Sri Lankan navy does something in Sri Lanka, Lloyd and Colvin will contact the Sri Lankan government. Or perhaps they’ll click on the link supplied by the Australian government to help out. Or perhaps they’ll get on to Twitter complaining about another Coalition government conspiracy of silence over shameful border security policies.


English to become compulsory in Qld schools

English is set to become a compulsory subject for year 11 and 12 students in Queensland. While most students in those years study English, it is ultimately up to schools to decide whether it is compulsory.

The Queensland government wants to make all students to complete an English subject in their final years of school to ensure they have necessary communication skills for the digital age.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said about 98 per cent of students in years 11 and 12 currently studied English. "Let's make it compulsory and get the other two per cent," she said while launching the 2016 Premier's Reading Challenge on Tuesday.

Education Minister Kate Jones said a taskforce examining senior assessment and tertiary entrance would next week decide whether English would be made compulsory. "Our view is that we think that this sends a very strong message about the quality of education in Queensland," Ms Jones said. "We understand that in the digital economy having good quality communication skills is critical."


26 April, 2016

Just a "boy".  No mention of a terrorist suspect's religion.  How strange!

The "extremist" literature he had was Presbyterian, perhaps?  Presbyterians can be pretty extreme about discouraging gambling

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with planning to carry out an Anzac Day terrorist attack in Sydney. The teenager was arrested near his home in Auburn, in Sydney's west, on Sunday by counter terrorism police.

On searching his home, police did not find any weapons or explosives but they did uncover extremist propaganda, 9News reported. They also allege the boy was trying to source the method and the equipment for carrying out the attack.

The boy was charged with one count of acts in preparation for or planning a terrorist act, which carries a maximum penalty of a life imprisonment.

Police say he was acting by himself and he was refused bail to appear before Parramatta Children's Court later on Monday.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said it was 'really concerning' to see a 16-year-old charged with the offence.

'We will be suggesting that there was a proposed attack to happen on this day [Monday] and that being Anzac Day, it is very, very concerning,' he said.

Comm Scipione would not reveal which suburb the boy had targeted but he did confirm the attack was planned for Sydney.

He also urged families heading to Anzac Day services not to be deterred by the incident.

'The risk from this particular threat has been thwarted... Do not let an event like this stop you from going out,' Comm Scipione said.

'So, please, don't be perturbed. We are doing absolutely everything we can to keep people safe. This threat has been dealt with. Enjoy your day.'

The boy appeared to have been acting alone in planning the alleged attack.

'People shouldn't have concerns that this person may have other associates out there that may have been joining in the threat,' Comm Scipione said.

'We believe it was one person by himself and at this stage we are satisfied.'

Comm Scipione said NSW Police had increased their presence around the state following the arrest.

'At this stage it is a noticeable increase... we are not leaving anything to chance at the moment,' he said.

Comm Scipione said counter terrorism police were forced to act on Sunday afternoon in order to ensure public safety.

'Clearly we have taken swift action to ensure community safety on the eve of a sacred day on the Australian calendar,' Commissioner Scipione said.

'I want to assure the NSW community that our counter terrorism capability is such that we were able to move quickly to prevent harm.

'The age of the individual is obviously a concern for us, and it remains a measure of the ongoing task facing law enforcement and the community.'

AFP State Manager Sydney Office, Commander Chris Sheehan, said family and friends are vital when it comes to connecting with those young people who may be susceptible to carry out criminal acts that attract significant penalties.


African gang members who attacked Chinese students during a spate of home invasions were out on bail for similar attacks

"Suspected Sudanese Apex gang members who were arrested after allegedly assaulting a group of Chinese international students were released on bail for similar attacks.

Five teens - aged 16 to 19 - of African background were arrested on Saturday night over a recent spate of violent home invasions and car thefts in Melbourne's south-east over the weekend.

According to the Herald Sun, several of the youths were freed on bail accused of carrying out similar violent offences.

The revelation comes after detectives from the Taskforce Tense arrested five teens over an alleged crime spree in Brighton East and Ormond in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Investigators executed warrants at neighbouring suburbs Cranbourne and Hampton Park later that night, and allegedly recovered a stolen BMW, Honda CRV, mobile phones and a computer.

According to the Herald Sun, five Chinese nationals living at the Ormond home were awoken at 6am on Saturday when six African youths broke into their townhouse.

'I thought, why did they choose our house? What's their aim,' one of those Chinese students, named Tony, said.  'One or two of them had weapons — hammers. I don't want to die, I thought about that,' he said.

'I've got no idea why they picked here. I now think Australia's not a safe place. I thought it was safe before, but not now.'

The rampaging youths allegedly demanded car keys and sped off with a stolen Honda SUV and white BMW 7 series car.

Two of the arrested men have been charged with aggravated burglary, assault, theft of motor car, handle stolen goods and possess proceeds of crime.

They remain in police custody and will appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Sunday.

A third man, 17, will appear at a children's court at a later date to face the same five charges.  Two more men, 18 and 16, were released without charges.

The Herald Sun reported that Chinese nationals were being targeted by the infamous Apex gang because they are seen as unlikely to fight back when threatened by gang members.

Victoria police say the arrests are 'part of an ongoing commitment toward dealing with violent gang-related offending seen across southern metro region suburbs in recent months.'

Last month, a violent gang-related riot in Melbourne shut down parts of the city and terrorised the public. 

The Apex gang were filmed causing chaos on March 12 as more than 100 members clashed in Federation Square and on Swanston Street in front of families attending a Moomba community event.

The Apex gang had threatened on social media to return and run amok again on Sunday night but police managed to disperse the group.


Channel Seven slammed for crossing to an ad break while the Last Post was being played

Leftists have long mocked ANZAC day so I think we can guess the politics of the person who did this

Channel Seven has come under fire from viewers after the broadcaster cut to an ad break during the Last Post before the Richmond-Melbourne game on Sunday night.

The Last Post was being played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) when Seven cut to an ad for one of its other programs, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

The bugle call, which signifies the end of the day's activities in military tradition, is sounded at commemorative services such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

Seven reportedly cut to an ad for an episode of My Kitchen Rules.

Viewers took to social media to share their disappointment at the broadcaster's action.

One person wrote: 'An actual human being, made a conscious decision, to press a button, to interrupt The Last Post'.

Another questioned where Channel Seven's Anzac spirit was, while a further person commented that they 'weren't surprised'.


Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison defends anti-gay commentator at Australian Christian Lobby event

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has defended the right of a Christian commentator to make controversial statements concerning homosexuality, which have included likening the advancement of gay rights to the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany.

"I respect everybody's opinions, I just hope and wish others would do the same," he said, after speaking at the Australian Christian Lobby conference. "I have always respected everybody else's faith and always sought to respect everybody else's view."

The ACL has been criticised for inviting conservative American commentator Eric Metaxas as keynote speaker at Saturday's event in Sydney. The author and radio host has drawn parallels between the current push for equality and the Church failing to stand up to the Nazi party.

He is also a supporter of gay conversion therapy and claims "normalising" homosexuality is an attempt to break down all sexual boundaries.

The Treasurer's speech to the 600 people attending the ACL's "Cultivating Courage" conference focused on the importance of marriage and the family, which he called "the most sacred national institution". "To protect our country, to protect our society, to protect our economy and to protect our children, we must protect the family," he said.

He thanked the "millions of people … who I know pray earnestly for our political leaders".

"I'm a big believer in prayer, I've seen the impact of it in my own life and I know it works," he said.

But the Treasurer declined to discuss further his own strong Christian beliefs. "My faith is not my politics. My faith is an important part of who I am, as it is of every human being, whatever their faith might be. Judge me on my policies. My faith is my business."

ACL managing director Lyle Shelton told the conference that it was becoming harder to be a Christian in Australia. "We face false slurs and labels, designed to demonise us into silence," he said.

"Bigot, homophobe, hater, are just some of the pejorative terms that have been used to characterise us ordinary Australians, who simply believe that marriage [should be] between a man and woman."

A small group outside the Wesley Conference Centre staged a protest in favour of same-sex marriage and gay rights. Cat Rose, from the Community Action Against Homophobia, criticised Mr Morrison's decision to speak at the ACL event. "We've got no problems with the Christian lobby but all they do is talk about gay rights and how to stop them," she said.

Conference attendees were asked to "refrain from going outside at any time" to avoid protesters.

Mr Shelton also criticised public support from large corporations, including Telstra, for marriage equality. "If you work for a big corporation like Telstra, you'd better keep your head down because you might end up with a tap on the shoulder by the diversity officer," he said.

"Such has been the capitulation and capture of corporate Australia by rainbow politics."

In 2014, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used his appearance at the ACL conference to make a case for marriage equality and argued that freedom of worship did not mean freedom to vilify.


Labor is taking Europe’s road to ruin

It is easy to understand why Labor wants to increase taxes on higher-income earners. And it does not take much nous to figure out why the government might feel under pressure to do so too. But what does require explaining is how the need to raise taxes in next month’s budget has become an unchallenged part of the conventional wisdom.

After all, we are hardly slouches in the revenue stakes. On the contrary, data from the Inter­national Monetary Fund shows Australia is exceptional in the reliance we are already placing on higher revenues, rather than on better controlled public spending, to restore budget balance.

Taking the advanced econo­mies as a whole, about 25 per cent of the projected fiscal improvement over the decade will come from increasing the share of taxes in GDP, with the remaining 75 per cent being achieved by slowing the growth of outlays. In Australia, however, virtually all the fiscal ­effort will be on the revenue side, with public spending growing at a rapid rate.

Yet there is little reason to think that our lopsided emphasis on raising revenues makes any sense. Rather, simple economics suggests the emphasis should lie squarely on public expenditure ­restraint.

An example illustrates the point. Assume the last dollar of public spending yields 10c in net benefits, but that by reducing the incentives to work, save and invest­, the additional dollar in taxes required to make that spending fiscally sustainable would impose 30c worth of costs. In that case, cutting spending would clearly be preferable to boosting taxes. Conversely, it is only if the net benefit from the last dollar of public spending exceeds the cost of raising taxes that a tax hike might be justifiable.

The question, in other words, is how the social loss from higher taxes compares with the social benefit of sustainably higher expend­iture. And while such comparisons are inevitably fraught, the former is likely to greatly exceed­ the ­latter.

That is partly because the options for tax increases have been narrowed to the point where only the most inefficient possibilities remain on the table. Obviously, no tax is costless, but some are plainly more distorting than others. And with the top rate of income tax already at 50 per cent (and closer to 58 per cent when the GST is taken into account), plugging the deficit by raising that rate could reduce national income by up to 60c for each additional dollar in revenue raised. Such a tax increase would therefore only be sensible if each dollar of public expenditure yielded $1.60 in benefits.

The hurdle would not be any lower were taxes hiked on superannuation or capital gains. An effic­ient tax system should be neut­ral between consuming today and consuming tomorrow; ours isn’t, taxing many savings heavily.

Aggravating those distortions would have substantial economic costs. That doesn’t mean total savings would necessarily fall were taxes on savings raised. Rather, just as higher income taxes — by making taxpayers poorer — may force them to work longer hours, so taxpayers, faced with steeper taxes on savings may offset some of the impact on future incomes by maintaining their savings effort.

But much as it would be absurd to believe the longer working hours meant the higher income taxes had not distorted decision-making, so it is foolish to claim, as the Grattan Institute’s John Daley regularly does, that the near constancy of total savings implies raising taxes on savings is harmless.

Instead, put in the jargon of economics, the “income” effects of the tax hike — which raise savings — disguise the “substitution” effect­s, which reduce them; but it is those “substitution” effects that measure how seriously efficiency is being undermined.

The efficiency losses would be every bit as great were negative gearing abolished. In simple terms, this would raise the cost of providing rental housing, compared with the cost of owner-occupa­ncy, by a further 6-10 per cent in a market where that choice is already severely distorted.

Of course, those costs could be worth bearing if the spending they made sustainable had high net benefits. In reality, as public spending has burgeoned so its quality has deteriorated, to the point where its benefits are far below the thresholds needed to justify raising taxes.

For example, real commonwealth expenditure on childcare has increased from $1.8 billion in 2002-03 to just less than $7bn, so that spending per child under the age of five has literally trebled; yet there are few signs of any social return­s from massively boosting outlays. Merely reversing that increase would yield savings that exceed­ the revenues that could plausibly be obtained from abolishing negative gearing and halving the capital gains tax concession.

Equally, real commonwealth school spending per school-aged child has doubled since 2002-03, but the proficiency level of lower performing students has barely increased­, while that of higher-performing students has dropped. And in healthcare too there is a great deal of “flat-of-the-curve” spending, which yields no health benefits, and evidence of widespread waste.

Obviously, reforming spending programs is tough. But it is not the substantive difficulties that impede reform: it is the fact that in those areas and others the benefits of the spending have been captured by producer lobbies, going from the teacher unions to the self-appointed welfare advocates, whose swarms of petty appetites are as vicious as their rhetoric is sanctimonious. Taking them on is far harder than shafting taxpayers, all the more so when the slugs can be cloaked in the mantle of “fairness”.

That has been Europe’s road to ruin. And it has long been Labor’s chosen road too. The test for Scott Morrison is whether the Coalition can do better.


25 April, 2016

Violent Moomba Festival gang riot that terrorised Melbourne involved African gang

We are told of the African involvement only because some of them are now wanted men.  But we are told little else.  The white guy could, for instance, be an Algerian Muslim but, if so, we will never hear of it

These are the faces of three young men police are searching for after a violent gang-related riot in Melbourne shut down parts of the city and terrorised the public.

Police have so far charged 24 people, some as young as 14, who were involved in the riot at Melbourne's Moomba festival on March 12.

But investigators are yet to identify these three men and are now appealing for public assistance to help identify them.

Two of the men are believed to have been involved in a 10-person fight on Swanston Street between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane at about 10.30pm, just prior to a larger brawl at City Square. The other young man is alleged to have stolen a woman's phone while she was waiting at Melbourne Central train station at about 12.10am.

A number of the teenagers already arrested over the brawls have claimed to be part of the notorious Sudanese Apex gang, but police said earlier this month many are normal young people who haven't ever had run ins with the authorities.

The majority of those charged so far have been under the age of 18. They have been accused of a range of offences including affray, riotous behaviour, robbery and theft.

Police have released descriptions and photos of the three men they wish to speak to after coming through CCTV and still images taken on the night.


Malcolm Turnbull says the government will not make any changes to negative gearing in the upcoming budget, as he declared Labor’s housing plan would “sledgehammer” the property market

Setting the scene for home ownership to be a key election battleground, the Prime Minister said Labor’s policy to remove negative gearing on existing homes from 2017 and halve the capital gains tax discount to 25 per cent would deliver a “reckless trifecta of lower home values, higher rents and less investment”.

The Coalition today ruled out any changes to negative gearing, more than two months after Labor announced its policy.

Labor today accused the Coalition of launching a fear campaign and challenged Treasurer Scott Morrison to outline a housing affordability policy.

Mr Turnbull did not reveal any modelling that helped the government reach its decision but said it was an issue of “common sense”.

“What Labor is proposing to do is to take one third of the buyers out of the market. If you take one third of the buyers out of the market, all other things being equal prices are going to fall,” he said.

“What Labor is proposing is a huge reckless shock to the market. This is not fine tuning, this is a big sledgehammer they’re taking to the property market.

“What Labor clearly wants is there to be less investment in Australia because they’re jacking up the tax on investment.”

Cabinet minister Michaelia Cash said the Coalition was “backing the Australian people” after the government received “overwhelming feedback” — particularly from real estate agents — that mums and dads did not want any changes that would devalue their homes.

“We have made a determination that based on where the housing market in Australia is at the moment, and it is unfortunate you’re looking at housing prices dropping, we will be making no changes to negative gearing,” Senator Cash told Sky News’s Australian Agenda program.

“We’re going to back the Australian people every step of the way and not impose a tax on houses.”

The Turnbull government is warning that a Labor election victory would drive up rents and reduce home values, impacting ordinary workers like nurses and teachers.

“When you talk to the average person in the street, if you take a dollar off their house — the asset that they have worked hard for, the asset that is going to see them into retirement — you take one dollar off that and seriously you are distorting, you are putting fear through the public,” Senator Cash said.

“But what is worse is the impact it is going to have on new housing stock. If you have got higher paid people competing with the mums, the dads, the nurses, the teachers et cetera for an investment property, how is the mum and the dad and the nurse and the teacher ever going to be able to buy that investment property?”

The Prime Minister had left room to retreat on a controversial change to negative gearing in the face of backbencher fears and a warning shot from Tony Abbott about the government’s economic direction.

The government was looking at ways to cap the use of negative gearing without harming average workers, including setting caps of $30,000 or $50,000 on the amounts they can claim on their investment properties.

The Labor proposal seeks to halt negative gearing altogether on existing properties in order to channel ­investment into new housing, while also increasing capital gains tax more generally.


Australia urged to tap into international pulses market

Pulses can be loosely defines as edible legumes, like chickpeas, mung beans, lentils and soy beans

There is huge market potential for Australian growers when it comes to supplying pulses to developing countries, according to an industry expert.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization this week held the 2016 International Conference on Pulses for Health, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture in Drylands, hosted in Marrakesh, Morocco.

At the conference was University of Western Australia agriculture director Professor Kadambot Siddique who was named Special Ambassador for Pulses 2016.

He said the demand for pulses in developing countries was outstripping the supply by figures into the millions of tonnes.

"We need to really boost production because the national market and regional markets are very high," he said.

"The availability of pulses per capita basis is declining because of the growing population."

Mr Siddique said the majority of pulse production, in terms of total volume, was undertaken in developing countries.

"Whereas in developed countries such as Canada and Australia there is sufficient quantities for export," he said.

"For example India produces about 18 million to 19 million tonnes of pulses per year, but they need another five million to six million tonne per year.

"As a result they are importing from countries such as Australia, Canada, Myanmar and so on," he said.

He said there was a similar demand coming from the Middle East and Europe.

Mr Siddique said in order for Australia to take advantage of the market, growers needed to work together to come up with a business strategy.

"I think we need a coordinated approach, and I'm very keen to see that happen," he said.

Pulses to offer strong price

Mr Siddique was confident pulses would fetch good prices per tonne, quoting recent sales of chickpeas in Australia.

"We had close to half-a-million tonne of chickpea, mostly in the north east [of Australia] although increasingly coming in to Western Australia and Southern Australia and we got a very good price," he said.

Mr Siddique said production of pulses took a dive in the late 1990s with some diseases wiped out many crops.

He said the disease risk could now be minimised thanks to large amounts of research, conducted largely by the Grains Research Development Corporation.

He said the pulses still posed higher disease risk than traditional crops, but the new, resistant varieties could minimise that.


Chewy, sweet and easy to make! How to bake the PERFECT Anzac biscuit - courtesy of the Country Women's Association

It doesn't get more Australian than an Anzac biscuit straight out of the oven, often accompanied with a cup of tea.  But over the years there has been much debate on how to make the perfect Anzac biccie, from the exact quantities to how long they need to be in the oven. 

So with Anzac day on Monday, Femail has tracked down the best - and easiest - Anzac day recipe, guaranteed to have you reaching for more.

Anzac biscuits were originally made during World War I and sent to soldiers serving overseas. The ingredients were chosen because they were freely available at the time and wouldn't spoil on the long journey to where the troops were stationed. Eggs, for example, were never part of the recipe because of the egg shortage during the war years. Over time the recipe evolved, but the main ingredients stayed the same. They are now baked all year round, but are more common in April around Anzac Day.

The recipe Femail is recommending comes straight from a member of the Country Women's Association (CWA), Joan Breznell from Shepperton. It doesn't include coconut and is simple to make.

This recipe is a classic version of the biscuit, sweet and easy to make - and eat. Baking at a low temperature allows the treat not to overcook and stay perfectly chewy even after cooling down.

It also stays true to the original Anzac recipe by using plain white sugar, not brown, getting the caramel flavour the biscuit is famous for simply from the golden syrup.

According to the Australian War Memorial, unlike most of the modern Anzac biscuits eaten today, and the recipe Femail has recommended, traditionally the food was 'very, very hard'.

The biccies were eaten as bread, or ground up and added to soldiers porridge, and called an Anzac 'wafer' or Anzac 'tile'. By the early 1930s the recipe had started to change, with the CWA publishing two recipes, one with coconut and one without, in a recipe book.

Personally we think we prefer the CWA's version, which is easier on the teeth and a nicer option for afternoon tea.


24 April, 2016

Does Australia have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD?

The Left-leaning article below answers 'No' to that question but still searches for something to whine about.  They are up against it however -- as they concede that "Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany". 

What they look at is how big is the achievement gap between well-off and poor kids.  And in the Australian case they admit that the gap is not due to lack of "resources" (mostly meaning money spent per pupil).  So insofar as the gap is largeish in Australia, it is probably due to Australia's huge network of government-subsidized private schools.  40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.  And there is no doubt that such schools do have some beneficial effect on exam performance and other indications of educational achievement.  Well-off kids get better schooling in Australia

Is that unjust?  Maybe it is but it is not beyond remedy. Australian government schools for many years modelled their curricula and procedures on famous British private schools such as Eton.  I was one product of that system (including compulsory Latin!) and the excellent education I got from it has definitely helped make my life easier and richer.  I shudder at the impoverished and propaganda-laden curricula of today.

With their constant imposition of unproven and unsuccessful educational theories, the Left have destroyed the old system.  But it shows what is possible.  Government schools CAN provide a high quality education.  All you have to do is to go by what works

As the debate around public and private schooling in Australia rages on, writer and social commentator Jane Caro told the Q&A audience that Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Is that right? When asked for sources to support her assertion, Caro referred The Conversation to a 2015 report published by the Australian Council of Educational Research.

The report analysed results from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and noted: "the general relationship between the overall level of schools’ educational resources and the resources gap between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Where resources are high, the gap tends to be low, and where resources are low, the gap tends to be high"

    The OECD analysis also showed that, contrary to the general pattern, Australia has a high level of resources as well as a high level of inequity in the allocation of those resources. Australia’s overall level of schools’ educational resources is above the OECD average, yet it is ranked fifth among 36 participating countries in resource disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.

Caro also sent The Conversation an article published by the Save Our Schools organisation titled OECD Report Highlights Education Inequity in Australia, and the PISA 2009 results report published by the OECD.

What the data shows is that Australia is not the worst or nearly the worst when it comes to equality and our education system.

However, it is true there is a great deal of evidence that Australia’s education system is very unequal. The level of equity is not getting better and if anything, it is getting worse.

What do we mean by ‘unequal’?  The best tool for understanding how equal or unequal the Australian education system is compared to other OECD education systems is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Equity in PISA refers to how well students do on cognitive tests according to their socioeconomic background (SES).

Socioeconomic background is measured in PISA by taking into account parental occupation and education, access to home educational and cultural resources, family wealth, and books in the home.

According to PISA’s measure, “unequal” means there are large differences in the outcomes of high SES and low SES students. In other words, it’s when kids from wealthy or well-off households consistently get better test results than kids from poorer families.

In the 2000 PISA report, Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy was indeed referred to as “high quality – low equity”. In other words, Australia’s achievement was higher than the OECD average but in terms of equity, Australia was below the OECD average.

In reading, in particular, Australia continues to fall into the category of high-quality - low or average equity.

In mathematics and science – subjects that less likely to rely on parental involvement and resources than reading literacy – this is not the case.  In these subjects, Australia falls into the high-quality - high-equity quadrant.

‘Among the worst’? While Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy has been classed as low equity, Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany (among others) were also classed as low equity when it came to reading literacy.

Saying we are “among the worst” may stretching it a bit – but this is splitting hairs. The data supports the overall point that Caro was making: Australia does have a schooling system that is not equitable.

Based on data from PISA:

    There is a gap of about 2.5 years of schooling in mathematical literacy between students in the highest SES quartile and those in the lowest quartile.

    Low achievement is strongly associated with low SES. In both mathematics and reading literacy, low SES students comprised about 45% of all low performing students while students from the second lowest quartile accounted for a further 29%. Just 10% of students of low performers were from the highest SES quartile.

    Australia shows a high level of variation in reading literacy performance due to SES differences between schools

    A recent re-analysis of the PISA 2012 data found that a socioeconomically disadvantaged student in Australia was six times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student. After taking account of several other factors influencing school performance such as gender, immigrant and language background, family structure, urban or rural location, pre-primary education and grade repetition, a socioeconomically disadvantaged student is still five times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student.

    While all Australian schools report adequate educational resources, schools with a large proportion of low performing students report much lower levels of these resources than schools with a large proportion of high performing students.

    Between 2000 and 2009, Australian secondary schools became more differentiated in reading achievement. That differentiation became more strongly linked to the average socioeconomic context of the school.

Verdict: Australia doesn’t have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD.  However, there is good evidence that our schooling system is not equitable.


Teach for (some of) Australia

The credentialism idiocy is keeping able people out of teaching.  Requiring a 4 year teaching degree before you can teach is chrome-plated imbecility. It's not long since a one-year diploma was deemed adequate.  And I successfully taught in Australian High Schools for two years without one second of teacher training. My students got excellent exam results too

Over the past few months, attention has been drawn to low entry standards for teacher education courses in Australian universities. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has been one of the strongest voices advocating for higher entry standards for teaching degrees. In NSW, new teachers can be registered only if they have achieved results of at least a Band 5 (there are 6 achievement bands) in at least three subjects -- including English -- in the Higher School Certificate, or an equivalent qualification.

Given Minister Piccoli's evident understanding of the importance of encouraging highly capable people to become school teachers, it is curious that some of the brightest and talented new teachers in Australia are not allowed to teach in NSW schools.

The Teach for Australia (TFA) program has been recruiting high achieving people to teach in disadvantaged and hard to staff secondary schools since 2010. The average ATAR of TFA 'associates' is a very high 95. Only 6% of applicants enter the classroom. In contrast to the trend throughout the rest of the teacher education sector, 47% of TFA associates were qualified as science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) teachers.

One of the criticisms of TFA's approach is that TFA associates start teaching before they have completed post-graduate teacher education. Instead, they complete an intensive six-week course and then continue their studies while teaching part-time. Bear in mind that the associates already have at least an undergraduate degree in their subject area (almost half had advanced degrees in 2016) as well as professional work experience.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the teacher education sector, there is little objective data showing the educational impact of TFA associates on student performance. A report from TFA states that 90% said that TFA associates had a greater impact on student achievement than other graduate teachers after two years of classroom teaching. Survey data is not ideal, but there is evidence from TFA's sister programs -- Teach for America and Teach First (UK) -- that teachers recruited and trained by this method are at least as good if not better than traditionally-trained teachers.

TFA associates currently teach in Victoria, the ACT, Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is time for the other states to get on board. They have little to lose and everything to gain.


Australian scientists write open letter demanding action on Great Barrier Reef as 93 per cent of the reef has been affected by coral bleaching due to climate change

But what CAN the government do if it's due to climate change?  They want the government to stop all coal usage but that would do nothing for the reef.  The proportion of CO2 added to the atmosphere by the burning of coal in Australia is minuscule.  The whole thing is just a cynical and dishonest attempt to push their usual barrows by exploiting something that is almost certainly due to the El Nino weather oscillation and not to "climate change"
Dozens of Australian scientists have penned a letter to express major concern for the Great Barrier Reef, which is currently undergoing its worst coral bleaching in history.

The letter signed by 56 scientists urged the government to make phasing out fossil fuels and coal a major priority to save the reef.

'We are now seeing first hand the damage that climate change causes, and we have a duty of care to speak out,' the open letter stated.

'Australia must rapidly phase-out our existing ageing and inefficient coal-fired power stations.

'In addition, there can be no new coal mines. No new coal-fired power stations. The transition to a renewables-led energy system, already underway, must be greatly accelerated.'

The letter, published in The Courier-Mail as an advert, cost the $14,000 to publish and was funded by a the Climate Council successfully raised money from 250 sponsors.

A report by noted the letter was published in the same week it was revealed 93 per cent of the world's largest reef was affected by coral bleaching, the worst case in recorded history.

Organisations are demanding further action from the federal government, with WWF Australia pushing for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 and net zero carbon pollution before 2050, according to the report.


End Aboriginal cult of victimhood and focus on what matters

Too many Aboriginal people in this country suffer and languish — not due to a lack of energy, effort or resources, but misplaced priorities.

Take the recent stories generated by the 25th anniversary of the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. We’ve seen stories and heard speeches all centring on the theme of “25 years later, Aboriginal people still die in custody”. The usual suspect, racism, is fingered as the underlying cause of these deaths.

At this point, I want to make a disclosure: I write this piece as someone whose research interests include how best to promote the holistic wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Further, I write as a part-Aboriginal Australian. I do not ­believe that this ancestry makes my opinion more valid than anyone else, but in a world dominated by political correctness, it does provide me with the freedom to discuss matters that many are afraid to discuss for fear of “blaming the victim” or being labelled racist. Ultimately, I believe Aboriginal ­affairs is all our business, and we as a nation must work together.

Drawing attention to an issue like Aboriginal deaths in custody is misplaced, for the simple reason that while Aboriginal people are over-represented in custody, they are not over-represented in deaths in custody. In fact, an Aboriginal person in custody is less likely to die than a non-Aboriginal person in custody.

Stating this another way, there is an over-representation of non-Aboriginal deaths in custody. However, the narrative of elevated black deaths in custody is emotive, and that gets attention.

Consider The health of Australia’s prisoners 2015, a publication by the Australian ­Institute of Health and Welfare. It states: “With just over one-quarter (27 per cent) of pri­soners in custody being indigenous, and 17 per cent of deaths in custody being ­indigenous, indigenous prisoners were under-­represented.”

This is something that activists should never lose sight of. Yet Greens indigenous affairs spokeswoman Rachel Siewert is quoted on an ABC website as saying: “It has been 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and Aboriginal people are still dispro­portionately dying while in incar­ceration.” At least she got the 25 years right.

At the same time as the deaths in custody furore, Melbourne ­Aboriginal actor Uncle Jack Charles was again refused a taxi ride. This was immediately ­ascribed to racism.

It is possible, maybe even likely, that racism was the motivating factor for the ­refusal. However, such racism may not be as common as some people would like to think. I am guessing that each week thousands of Aboriginal people across the country must catch taxis without incident.

As such, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’s response that racist taxi drivers are not welcome in Victoria seems like an over-­reaction, or playing to the gallery. If it is the case, the other premiers and chief ministers should perhaps prepare for a huge ­invasion of racist taxi drivers from Victoria.

No doubt Premier Andrews will be hailed by some as the man who took a courageous stand against racism. But how does this help Aboriginal people?

Certainly addressing racism against Aboriginal people where it exists is worthwhile. But this should not take the place of ­addressing those issues that have the most negative impact on Aboriginal people — like unemployment, poverty, alcohol abuse, child sexual abuse, violence and unsafe living environments.

These problems require government input — but also personal responsibility. But when people are continually told that they are victims of ­racism, personal responsibility is quickly forfeited.

My friend Dave Price, husband of Northern Territory Minister Bess Price, says: “It is enormously difficult to convince your Aboriginal loved ones bent on self-­destruction that they have the power in themselves to take ­responsibility for their lives and solve their own problems when the rest of the world tells them that they are victims with a capital ‘V’. The whole debate needs to change. Let’s start by getting rid of the pernicious victim stereotype and the stultifying viciousness of political correctness gone mad.”

Shouts of racism may help politicians and academics with popularity contests, but they come at a high price for too many Aboriginal people.

I agree with Dave: unless the debate changes, the outcomes will not change. Let’s keep applying the same effort but direct it ­towards addressing the real causes of Aboriginal suffering.


22 April, 2016

Queensland’s Rockhampton Base Hospital under scrutiny where mum died during childbirth

A C-section should have been totally under control

A QUEENSLAND hospital, where a mother died giving birth on Monday, was already under scrutiny following adverse health outcomes for four other babies born in the maternity unit.

Amanda Sheppard died following complications in theatre during an elected caesarean at the Rockhampton Base Hospital in central Queensland.

Baby Willa, who survived, was Ms Sheppard and husband Glynn’s first child.

Ms Sheppard’s death, the cause of which was a suspected embolism, an obstruction of an artery either by a blood clot or amniotic fluid, is to be investigated by the coroner amid a separate review focused on four babies born at the ward.

One of them died and the other three suffered adverse outcomes, including one case of brain damage.

A fundraising page on website GoFundMe, set up by Ms Sheppard’s friend Teagan Govaars, has raised about $6000 by Wednesday morning for the grieving father and baby Willa.

On the site, Ms Govaars said the couple had been excited about the arrival of their first child.

“This day was supposed to be one of the best and happiest days of their lives and instead she has now left her beloved husband and brand new baby girl behind,” the message reads.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said on Tuesday, he had asked the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service for more information, reported the Courier Mail.

“Specifically if there is any connection between this death and the other incidents at Rockhampton hospital that are being investigated,” a spokesman said.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service CEO Len Richards, who announced last week he had resigned to take up a position in South Australia, urged “central Queensland women to maintain confidence in the care provided by our Maternity Unit”.

Midwives had passed a vote of no confidence in Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service senior management over their handling of long-term staffing and training issues.

But Queensland Nurses’ Union regional organiser Grant Burton said on Tuesday the woman had died from complications during surgery, which were not connected with staffing levels.

Latisha Ryder from Maternity Choices Australia told the ABC they were worried about the standard of care mothers are receiving at the hospital.  “I think women probably have every right to be concerned,” Ms Ryder said.


Australia’s largest landholder agrees to $370 million deal with Chinese company

AUSTRALIA’S largest landholder S Kidman & Co has agreed to a $370.7 million deal that will see the company partly sold to a Chinese buyer.

Kidman, which has cattle stations covering 101,000 square kilometres in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, produces grass-fed beef for export to Japan, the USA and Southeast Asia.

It owns 160,000 cattle on leasehold land run as 17 properties.

Under the plan, it will sell 80 per cent of the cattle company to China’s Dakang Australia Holdings and the rest to locally listed Australian Rural Capital.

The deal will be subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Kidman chairman John Crosby said the proposed investment would lead to an increase in production and the expansion of international markets for Kidman beef, the majority of which is already exported.

Dakang Australia and ARC plan to jointly manage and develop the Kidman business.

Mr Crosby said the consortium and Kidman had complied with all requests made by the FIRB and said the sale would secure the long-term future of the enterprise.

“We believe Dakang Australia and ARC will be good custodians of the business and this transaction will provide a solid platform for growth and, at the same time, an opportunity for Australians to participate in Kidman’s future,” Mr Crosby said in a statement.

Dakang director Gary Romano said Australian Rural Capital would provide expertise in the local agriculture sector.

Mr Romano and ARC spokesman James Jackson said the consortium wanted Kidman to become an even stronger player in Australia’s beef cattle sector, and transform it into a global brand for beef and related products.

The Kidman board is recommending shareholders accept the consortium’s offer subject to no superior proposals.

A previous foreign bid to buy the company was blocked by Treasurer Scott Morrison in November because of national interests. Anna Creek station in South Australia will be separated from Kidman’s other businesses prior to the completion of any acquisition.

Dakang Pasture Farming is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and has a market capitalisation of about $3.75 billion.

Shanghai Pengxin Group owns 55 per cent of Dakang Pasture Farming and has New Zealand dairy interests.


Asylum seeker boat bound for Australia intercepted

  Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed an asylum seeker boat en route to Australia has been stopped by the Sri Lankan Navy.

 The Navy reported that six adults and three children were onboard the boat when it was stopped on April 19 in the waters west of Negambo.The passengers – five men, one woman, two boys and one girl – have since been handed over to police for further investigations.

Mr Dutton told 2GB radio the boat had left a Sri Lankan port, but was stopped before it reached international waters."The Sri Lankan Navy intercepted that boat, turned it around and took them back to shore," he said."

It just shows you that the people are still there … We're dealing with these on-water matters all the time."


Local government tyranny

ON a crisp and clear autumn day with the leaves on the trees turning from green to red, there isn’t a prettier place in South Australia right now than Stirling. One of the best spots to take it all in is the Stirling Hotel, rugged up on an outside table with a coffee and some gooey cake, or a piping hot parmy and a warming pint.

It isn’t that long since the Stirling Hotel had fallen on hard times. It was closed for about three years but under new management has become not just a much-loved part of life for Hills residents but a beacon which draws visitors from all over town.

Its owners are ambitious, risk-taking people who completely re-imagined the pub to include high-end accommodation, one of the best cellars in the state, and a superb patisserie. All this effort and energy has injected new life into the town and other local businesses.

Many of those who make the day trip on a weekend end up buying something from the local nursery, the excellent homeware and gift stores, the fantastic Matildas Bookshop.

So why on earth is the local council treating this pub like a criminal operation?

The pub might have been voted the hotel of the year and best pub restaurant by the Australian Hotels Association, but as far as a particularly unpleasant cabal of councillors is concerned, it’s a blight on the high street.

Short of declaring it should be drummed out of town, some turbocharged pedants on council have piled so much pressure on this wholly reputable enterprise that it’s surprising the owners haven’t chucked in the towel.

Or the tea towel, to be more precise, as it was a tea towel which played a starring role in one of the many trifling health and safety breaches imposed by the council.
The grand interior of the restaurant at the Stirling Hotel

The hotel was hit with fines totalling $2500 last year for three infringements identified by the council’s regulatory unit. The crimes were as follows. One of the bins had not yet been emptied, a piece of cheese had been left in a slicer, and a tea towel was lying on a stainless steel bench.

That’s all.

Rather than have his reputation tarnished by these innocuous infringements, owner Brett Matthews thought stuff this for a joke and signalled his intention to fight the charges.

The council upped the ante and hit back with some 50 extra trumped-up infringements, the seriousness of which extended to a cracked tile not being fixed, and a fingerprint on a light switch.

No rats, no mice, no weevils. No Fawlty Towers-style pigeons in the rainwater tank. Nothing that would pose the remotest threat to any diner, nor be regarded as going beyond the normal cut and thrust found in any busy commercial kitchen.

Brett Matthews told the Mount Barker Courier that in hindsight he kind of regretted his decision to take a principled stand against having his name sullied.

"I probably should have paid the expiation,” he said. "Looking back on it now, I wish I had.”

Instead, he has to drag himself along to the Magistrates Court next month, adding to the many hours he has already lost as a result of all this pedantry. That’s time he could have spent coming up with new ways to expand a business which already employs 90 permanent staff, rising to 110 at peak times.

The stupidity runs both ways. Not only has the council damaged the viability of a great local business, it has exposed its own ratepayers to a legal bill already running at $32,000.

Scratch the surface of this dispute and you find a stellar example not just of how a few obsessive council crackpots who love strangling people with red tape can set about to extinguish what little business culture exists in our struggling city.

Aside from the bogus food hygiene charges, the pub is also fighting on another flank, with a clique of local residents finding a sympathetic ear from green councillors to force the pub to get rid of its outside dining and drinking area, on the grounds that it’s somehow offensive to the environment.

It’s just bizarre that this least representative tier of government can be allowed to get away with this kind of nonsense. It makes you wonder whether it’s time for the State Government to embark on the kind of brutal forced amalgamations happening in NSW to put the pedants out of business, so that businesses can stay in business, and the rest of us can keep enjoying life.


De gustibus non disputandum est

I always have Anzacs on hand and eat them frequently, often with a cup of tea -- JR

I don’t like ANZAC biscuits.  THERE. I SAID IT.  I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor and swallow your impulse to yell, “f--- off, we’re full.”

I figure I only have so many biscuits I can eat in one life time.  Why would I waste those opportunities on the world’s most boring biscuit? Honestly, I’d rather eat a Scotch Finger.

Yes. I prefer a biscuit whose only selling point is that you can snap it cleanly in half, over that greatest of Australian food icons, the humble ANZAC.

ANZAC biscuits are dull and lifeless, and I only eat them under duress.

Let’s break it down.  ANZAC biscuits contain oats, butter, golden syrup and flour. AND NOTHING ELSE.

They are presented unadorned to the biscuit consuming public. The chewy ones a like trying to get through three day old calamari rings, while the crunchy ones will cut your throat on the way down.

Where is the icing? Where are the nuts? The fruit? The chocolate? Why haven’t we tzujed these babies up? If ever there was a biscuit crying out for a queer-eye-for-the-straight-guy action, it would be the ANZAC.

But the tradition of it, I hear you cry. Biscuits lovingly baked back at home because of their longevity, sent to sons and husbands on the frontline as a special treat from home.

Yeah, like, I know. But, I ask you, wouldn’t those same sons and husbands now like something a bit fancier?

Even just a Monte Carlo? A shortbread cream? Even a kingston? I also don’t like kingstons. YES. I KNOW. But come on, it’s just a couple of ANZACs with the stingiest squirt of chocolate cream. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.

You know what? A biscuit is a treat. Don’t believe me? Ask my four-year-old.

A good, flavour-filled biscuit in the middle of the afternoon with a cup of hot Earl Grey tea is the best way to restore your mood and energy.

Why would you trash your treat with a tasteless crime against baking?

Instead, friend, I propose we replace the ANZAC biscuit. I say, in the great Aussie tradition of refusing to figure things out ourselves, we hold a competition to find the perfect Aussie treat. After all, that's what we did when we designed our capital city.

And look how that turned out. We got Canberra. A triumph of city planning and culture. A trophy on our nation's mantlepiece. We deserve a snack that can take it's place in our national pool room. And friends, that ain't an ANZAC bikkie.


21 April, 2016

Christophobic Facebook

Respectful post on homosexual marriage by Australian clegyman immediately deleted.  Restored only after intervention by Australian politicians

Federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie has called on Facebook to explain why it deleted a Sydney academic’s post about same-sex marriage and reinstated it only after being quizzed by free-speech advocate Tim Wilson.

The post by John Dickson, an ordained Anglican minister and founder of the Centre for Public Christianity, was removed on ­Saturday because it did not adhere to Facebook’s “community standards”.

The 500-word opinion piece, which called for a more respect­ful debate on the issue of gay marriage, had been reinstated on Sunday night, with Facebook telling Mr Dickson one of its employees had “accidentally” deleted it.

Mr Hastie said yesterday he had told Mr Wilson, the former human rights commissioner and a Liberal candidate at the next federal election, about Facebook’s censorship when he heard about it on Sunday. Mr Wilson later spoke to someone he knew in Face­book’s government affairs team and the post was reinstated.

Mr Hastie, the MP for the seat of Canning in Western Australia, said Facebook should explain its actions.  “If they have assumed a new morality, just be clear about it,” he said. “I find it troubling that Facebook would censor a respected public figure like John Dickson who was advocating in a very reasonable and winsome manner.  “If that sort of engagement is going to be censored, I would be worried about the future of debate in this country.”

A Facebook spokesman declined to say why the post was removed or whether it had been the subject of complaints.  “This comment was removed in error,” he said. “We promptly restored the comment once we realised this, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

Last month, Facebook entered a partnership with the Australian Marriage Equality lobby group that allows users to add a prominent banner to their profile picture showing support for same-sex marriage.


The restored FB post is here

Europcar again

Only use them as a last resort.  They will blame you for everything and anything

IT’S the most frustrating part of booking a hire car: the pressure to buy extra insurance.

On the one hand, you’ve shopped around for the best price and are determined to stay within your budget.  But the prospect of getting into an accident means you could face a disastrous repair bill, and you don’t want that do you?

Until January last year, customers of Europcar were told they could avoid this by purchasing the extra insurance cover, which would cap their bill for any damage at a ‘Damage Liability Fee’ of $3650.

But Europcar failed to inform people that they would still be up for any overhead, underbody or water damage to vehicles.

The Federal Court has just fined the company $100,000 for this misleading advice in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

And the court declared void the parts of Europcar’s 2013 standard contract that allowed the company to hold drivers liable for every little scratch on vehicles, no matter how trivial — which made returning hire cars an anxiety-ridden exercise.

Also declared unfair and void were contract terms that held customers liable for vehicle loss or damage, regardless of whether they were at fault.

“This decision is an important one, as it makes it clear to car rental companies that they cannot simply rely on contractual terms to hold consumers liable for any and all damage that may occur during a rental period, regardless of the circumstances,” ACCC Deputy Chair Michael Schaper said. “Terms in standard form rental agreements must be fair.”

The ACCC is in the middle of an industry-wide review of Australia’s car rental industry, investigating misleading pricing and charging, and unfair contract terms.

Earlier this month, Hertz Australia agreed to refund hundreds of customers amounts totalling $395,000 after charging them for damage they did not cause, in an enforceable undertaking signed after an ACCC investigation.

Hertz and Europcar were named as the worst offenders in a recent Canstar survey of hire car users amid industry-wide frustration, the comparison site’s spokesman Simon Downes told

“Some drivers claim to have been charged up to double the original quoted price, while others have been left waiting months for security deposits to be returned,” Mr Downes said.

“Other common complaints include not being able to pay by debit card, and charges for refuelling.”

The survey found that while 81 per cent of hire care users inspected vehicles before driving off, just 57 per cent read their contract properly.

“If you are driving a vehicle worth thousands of dollars it’s important to know exactly where you stand should something go wrong,” Mr Downes said.

“It’s also concerning that many people have experienced a lack of transparency over costs and potential charges. The operators should be doing everything they can to make all costs involved as clear as possible, including insurance.”

Europcar said in a statement that it had co-operated with the ACCC, correcting its advertising and contract terms “as soon as we were advised”. The statement said the misleading conduct, which it initially disputed, “was not deliberate”.

“We have invested significantly in reviewing and updating our own policies, processes and documentation so that these are as user-friendly and transparent as possible,” managing director Ron Santiago said.

“We’re extremely confident that our Terms and Conditions are now industry leading and we are always looking for ways to raise the bar and improve the experience for our customers.”


Workers’ entitlement scheme open to abuse

And, as usual, it’s the taxpayer who’s left to foot the bill

It’s a shame that Labor’s Brendan O’Connor chose shabby politics over sensible policy last week after Queensland Nickel collapsed. Labelling the Townsville-based MP Ewen Jones “pathetic” for shedding tears over the hundreds of job losses in his Queensland electorate betrayed the calculated ignorance of Labor’s employment spokesman on a critical matter. Rather than stick the boot into Jones for low-rent political reasons, Labor’s employment spokesman might try to muster some real conviction about the importance of the Turnbull government’s pursuit of Clive Palmer.

O’Connor was determined to make a cheap political point by attacking the Coalition over a measure in the 2014 budget that hasn’t passed. That measure sought to achieve almost $80 million in savings for taxpayers by bringing the cap on paying out workers’ entitlements under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee in line with national employment standards in the Fair Work Act.

Looking out for workers is commendable. But what about looking out for taxpayers who foot the bill for FEG?

Therein lies the flaw at heart of Labor, best personified by O’Connor who appears to be clueless about the moral hazards inherent in a scheme where taxpayers pick up the tab for unpaid workers’ entitlements when companies go bust. A well-meaning administrative scheme of last resort — the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme or GEERS — introduced by John Howard in 2000 following the collapse of National Textiles — capped redundancy entitlements in line with the National Employment Standards. Under Labor, that morphed into FEG, a legislative scheme of first resort in 2012 which removed that cap.

Since its inception, taxpayers have paid out $1.88 billion to workers under the original scheme and its successor FEG. Only a fraction — $225.8m or 12.19 per cent has been recouped from those responsible for the corporate failures. And in a further snub to taxpayers’ interests, the former Labor government stripped funds from the Department of Employment necessary to recover money paid out under FEG. By contrast, the Abbott government set aside $16m in the last budget to bolster efforts to recover money paid out under FEG.

Operating like a litigation arrangement, the commonwealth funds liquidators to pursue its rights more aggressively. Given that the commonwealth has already recouped from corporate collapses more than the cost of recovery efforts, this pilot program must surely become more permanent in the May budget.

Indeed, the importance of the recovery program has been cemented following the collapse of Queensland Nickel and the record $73m that the Turnbull government will pay to sacked workers for unpaid entitlements. Moreover, it costs money to chase money. Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has appointed a special purpose liquidator to pursue potential litigation and to recover money from those responsible for the collapse of Queensland Nickel.

Why? Because the moral hazard implicit in FEG demands it. After all, the Administrator’s report to creditors released on April 12 concluded that Clive Palmer and his nephew and Queensland Nickel managing director, Clive Mensink, “appear to have been reckless in exercising their duties and powers as directors”.

The government’s pursuit of Palmer is not a political witch-hunt. There are bigger issues at stake than Clive. Chasing down those responsible for the collapse of Queensland Nickel is about curbing the moral hazard of a well-intentioned federal scheme. After all, when a company goes broke and a government fund automatically kicks in to pay millions of dollars to workers to cover unpaid entitlements, those payments sends a couple of messages. First, that the government will cover at least part of their unpaid entitlements. And second, that if a corporate boss mismanages a business, or worse, if they are a crook or a spiv and fail to pay workers their entitlements, taxpayers will pick up the tab for their financial failures.

O’Connor doesn’t need a degree in rocket science, or even in economics, to understand these unfortunate but undeniable incentives to corporate crooks. And as fun as it was for those on ABC’s Insiders last weekend to laugh at the “show us the cash, Cash” line, deeper political analysis might explore how the Fair Entitlements Guarantee is an invitation to corporate crooks to keep repeating their crooked behaviour in full knowledge that taxpayers will pay for unpaid workers’ entitlements.

Using the recovery program to protect the interests of taxpayers, former Employment Minister Eric Abetz commenced the investigation of directors involved in the collapse of Bruck Textiles in Victoria. In the Federal Court since last September, this less high profile collapse squarely raises the moral hazards at stake under FEG.

Throughout the compulsory investigation, the liquidator’s counsel, Peter Kulevski, forensically questioned Bruck’s lawyers, its accountant, chief financial officer and chairman, uncovering evidence that directors may have deliberately undertaken a corporate restructure and liquidation of the Wangaratta textile-maker to avoid paying employee entitlements. The public investigation extracted this evidence from one of Bruck’s lawyers during restructuring conversations: a file note written by Rick Catanzariti in 2013 recorded Bruck chief executive Geoffrey Parker as saying: “We need to take a number of people out. It will cost a fortune.” The people are Bruck employees. The file note also records Parker saying: “Lots of core businesses go into administration and use GEERS to supplement it.” Parker meant FEG but same sentiment.

And that’s exactly what transpired when, on July 10, 2014, Bruck sold its business and assets to Australian Textiles Mills, a related company of its parent company for the princely sum of $1. In return, ATM agreed to assume some $11m in liabilities. While many Bruck employees moved across to ATM, 58 were not offered employment. The next day, Bruck was entered into liquidation, unable to pay the entitlements of the 58 workers, leaving the government to pay $3.5m under FEG. Meanwhile, Parker became chief executive of the new textile business.

The ultimate shareholder in the textile group, before and after the restructure, is Philip Bart, who fronted the public investigation earlier this month. Remember that name? Bart was the principal owner of National Textiles which went bust in 2000 owing $11m to workers, a collapse that gave rise to GEERS.

And now Bruck has gone broke. ASIC and the federal government are investigating whether its liquidation and the Phoenix-style rise of ATM is a flagrant abuse of the FEG scheme. This is a litmus test of section 596 of the Corporations Law which prohibits transactions intended to avoid the payment of employee entitlements. Lawyers suggest that if section 596 doesn’t kick in here, the law may need changing.

While we await the liquidators report into a classic example of directors privatising corporate profits and socialising corporate loses, the Turnbull government is also determined to ensure that taxpayers don’t get fleeced in Queensland Nickel. And that may not be the end of battles over entitlements. If South Australian steelmaker Arrium goes under, the payout to Queensland Nickel workers may look like peanuts.

Which is why it’s high time Labor put some meat on its bony claim of being a prudent economic manager. To be sure, it’s laudatory to look out for workers. But what about curbing moral hazard too? In layman’s terms that means looking out for taxpayers.


Bob Hawke calls for legal voluntary euthanasia

After taking part in Andrew Denton's Better Off Dead podcast, former prime minister Bob Hawke has added his voice to calls for voluntary euthanasia to be legalised. He spoke to RN Breakfast about why it hasn't happened already and his own fears.

Bob Hawke tries to exercise his brain each day with cryptic crosswords and sodokus, but if he were to 'lose his marbles' he would want Blanche d'Alpuget to be able to 'end things' with the help of their GP.

The former prime minister recently appeared on Andrew Denton's pro-euthanasia Better Off Dead podcast.

'In my judgement, there's no moral or ethical grounds for the absurdity of having a position where a person is in terrible pain and for some quasi-religious or moral reason you're going to make them suffer and suffer and suffer.'

Hawke says the thought of 'losing his marbles' is unbearable, and considers mental exercise just as important as physical exercise.

'I do at least a couple of hard cryptics each day and a couple of hard sudokus, so I'm doing my best not to ever be in a situation where such a decision is required.'

If it were to happen, though, Hawke believes his wife, Blanche d'Alpuget, should be able to legally 'end things' via their family doctor.

Euthanasia has not been at the top of the political agenda in recent years, and Hawke suggests this comes down to fear.

'Politicians, by definition I think, are not the bravest of people ... They hear some people in the electorate or something in the media saying "we don't like that" and that's almost enough for them to say "we won't touch it".

'Despite the fact that I think the polls show that something like 70 per cent favour pro-euthanasia legislation, the fact that you've got a significant number who don't like it is enough for a lot of politicians to say, "I don't want to get involved in that controversy."

'Their first concern is saving their seat, they don't want to do anything that is going to lose them votes ... It's not very brave.'


Queensland police officer charged with rape, assault

A POLICE constable charged with rape met his alleged victim through online dating site Plenty of Fish, a court has been told.  The 23-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was granted bail in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning despite police objecting to his release.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Scott Pearson said the man met up with a woman through Plenty of Fish over the weekend.  He said the woman “stipulated... there would be no sexual contact”, but the man allegedly digitally raped her twice. It is then alleged he tried to choke her and after she told him to stop he replied “shut up, c**t”. He has been charged with two counts of rape and one of common assault.

The man is not required to enter a plea to those charges at this stage of proceedings. Bail was granted because he has no criminal history and no weapons are alleged to have been used.  The case returns to court on May 16.

It is alleged the officer from the northern police region sexually assaulted the woman before grabbing her by the throat.
The police prosecutor, Sgt Scott Pearson, said the victim told him she did not want to be choked, to which the accused replied: “Shut up, c*nt.”

He then allegedly told her she looked like the kind of girl who “liked to be choked in bed”.

The woman then dialled triple-zero, showed the man and threatened to call the police, the court heard.

It is alleged he then swore at her again before leaving.

The court also heard the man has no previous criminal history and has strong ties to the community.

There was no suggestion he used a weapon or caused significant injuries, his lawyer said.

His parents attended the court hearing.

He has been suspended since being arrested by members of the ethical standards command. The magistrate, Tina Previtera, granted bail on the condition the man live with his parents


20 April, 2016

Hospital accused of 'incompetence or racial profiling' in  treatment of Aboriginal singer

It's possible that a black may have been negligently treated by white staff.  I have lived in Darwin and the way many Aboriginals live around Darwin would put most people off, leading to a reluctance to have much to do with any one of them.

But, as it happens, I see what happened as the sort of routine negligence that you get in most over-worked government hospitals. Getting into surgery only 8 hours after arrival is in fact pretty good by such standards. 

And making a mistake over his diagnosis is also a routine feature of government medicine.  Staff seldom have much time to sit down and take a detailed history.  And diagnosis is guesswork anyway.

And it takes time to look at a patient's notes too.  This guy had quite a history so the notes would have taken a while to digest.  So the most probable diagnosis -- Aboriginal alcohol problem -- was made and staff went on to other demands on their time. 

This was government medicine, not racism

The doctor and manager for Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu have accused a Darwin hospital of either being incompetent or racially profiling the Indigenous singer during a recent medical incident.

Gurrumul was taken to the emergency department on Easter Sunday, with internal bleeding complications known as oesophageal varices, resulting from liver disease. His manager, Mark Grose, and specialist doctor, Paul Lawton claim Gurrumul was not adequately treated for eight hours, causing his health to deteriorate and him being placed in intensive care where he then received the necessary surgery.

Gurrumul has been battling liver disease related to having hepatitis B as a child, Lawton said, and hospital staff should have responded immediately. He said Gurrumul’s life had been risked because doctors did not perform the surgery in a timely manner.

Gurrumul had previously been hospitalised a month ago for the same reason, Lawton said.

In a published letter to the NT health department, Grose, who accompanied Gurrumul to hospital with nurse Michele Dowd, accused the hospital of leaving Gurrumul in A&E “for over eight hours, it seems, without any real attempt to treat the problem”.

“Why was he left for over eight hours when the reason for his admittance was clearly evident in Michele’s explanation to A&E staff and was clearly in all of his notes?” Grose wrote.

“There are two assumptions I can make which are both very disturbing but which need answering: Was Gurrumul Yunupingu’s level of A&E care related to assumptions based on his race or is there a serious fault in the system which allows someone to be largely ignored in A&E while seriously ill?”

The Top End Health Service categorically rejected the assertions.

Executive director of medical services, Professor Dinesh Arya, said a review was launched as soon as the concern about Gurrumul’s care were raised and he was “satisfied that care provided at RDH was timely and appropriate”.

“I will also be offering an opportunity to the patient and his carers/friends to meet with the clinical teams who were involved in providing care to the patient so that they have an opportunity to understand assessment findings, treatment provided and ask any questions. This will also enable clarity in relation to ongoing care and treatment of this patient.”

Arya said he and the RDH patient advocate also met with Gurrumul on Monday to ask him if he was satisfied with his treatment.

“It is concerning it has been suggested that some care assumptions may have been made based on the patient’s race,” he said.

“The hospital has a proud multicultural staff and more than 60% of patients admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital identify as Aboriginal. Claims of poor treatment due to a patient’s race have never been raised at the hospital and RDH will continue to provide the best possible service to all patients requiring treatment.”

Dr Lawton said the treatment of Gurrumul was not timely, and concurred with Grose’s assessment.

Lawton, who has been outspoken on issues of race in the treatment of kidney and liver disease, suggested the incident illustrated systemic issues with care of Indigenous people in hospitals.

He said someone had written on Gurrumul’s chart that he was a drinker, when he is not. “Someone has made that assumption initially and then it has been repeated and amplified based on no evidence whatsoever,” he told Guardian Australia.

“It’s assumed people with liver disease have alcohol problems. Which is, to use Mark’s term, racial profiling.”

Arya said no chart or medical record notes about a patient’s history were made without being confirmed. “Questions about use of alcohol and/or other substance use are part all clinical assessments,” he said.


Turnbull’s brutal question for voters

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull intends to put a brutal equation to the electorate. Voters have had four prime ministers in the three years since June 2013. Mr Turnbull will ask: Do they really want to go to No. 5 by dumping him on July 2?

That matter of political instability will be as much a factor in the looming double-dissolution election as the Budget and Labor’s demands for health and education spending.

Mr Turnbull last night was, as expected, given the double-dissolution justification he has been wrangling for when the Senate voted down legislation to revive the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) for a second time.  With the constitutional requirements loaded, the Prime Minister has made clear today he intends to pull that trigger.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull kick-started an unofficial election campaign with a visit to a Canberra construction site this afternoon and confirmed he intended to call a July 2 election “at an appropriate time after the Budget is delivered”.

But first, the government will announce today extra support for the Australian Security and Investment Commission, the organisation policing the finance sector. The government has been goaded into action by Labor’s repeated calls for a royal commission into banks, a demand with considerable grassroots support but dismissed by Treasurer Scott Morrison as “crass populism”.

Then the Budget will be delivered on May 3. There are reports today the government will promise about $16 billion in spending cuts through attacks on the tax concessions of transnational companies and those of hefty superannuation accounts used to minimise tax rather than save for retirement.

The Budget will not be passed in full before the election, but the government will quickly seek passage of Supply, needed to fund the daily operating costs of the public service.

As with standard practice, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will be able to give his formal reply to the Budget a week later on May 5.

And it is expected that on May 11 — the latest date possible for the Turnbull plan — the Prime Minister will formally call the election of all seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In a regular election only half the Senate spots are contested.

This will give the government time to release new programs and promote them with public money before the restrictions imposed when the election campaign starts and Mr Turnbull becomes a caretaker prime minister.

That means 23 days from last night’s defeat of the ABCC bill until the official start of the election campaign proper. But in effect it is already under way, and now we are 74 days out from polling day.

“Labor’s ready for an election whenever it is,” Mr Shorten said in a statement. “This will be a contest between Labor putting people first, and a Liberal Party looking after vested interests and the big banks. “Australians know where Labor stands and what we stand for: decent jobs, protecting Medicare, better schools, renewable energy and a fairer tax system.”

And in an indication the Labor campaign will target Mr Turnbull and disappointment in his performance, Mr Shorten said: “Australians are fed up with a Prime Minister who dithers but doesn’t deliver.”

Government senate leader George Brandis said last night the Coalition would argue for its return on economic grounds.  “Economic management has always been a Coalition strength and a Labor Party weakness because we actually do believe in governments living within their means,” Senator Brandis told ABC TV.

“We actually do believe in keeping taxes as low as they can reasonably be, consistent with maintaining decent services. We actually do believe that the growth of government is something to be avoided, rather than something to be encouraged.

“So our economic credentials, our fiscal conservatism, are well established and it is one of the most important single differences between us and the Labor Party.”


Cory Bernardi holds parents responsible for teenage ‘trasher’

‘The most disturbing aspect of this entire sorry saga is that a 14-year-old child was taken out of school and driven to a violent protest by her parents.’ Cory Bernardi's electoral office on March 18.

Cory Bernardi has lashed the parents of a 14-year-old girl who allegedly was involved in the trashing of his Adelaide electorate office, saying they should be held accountable for any criminal actions of their child.

The South Australian Liberal senator told The Australian last night that “the most disturbing aspect” of the March 18 incident by protesters who supported the Safe Schools program was the ­involvement of a child who was encouraged to violent behaviour by her parents.

South Australia Police yesterday said they had reported 12 people for disorderly behaviour after investigating the protest. Three of the alleged protesters were also reported for property damage — a teenager from ­Inglewood, a 20-year-old woman from Klemzig and another woman, 24, from Prospect.

“The most disturbing aspect of this entire sorry saga is that a 14-year-old child was taken out of school and driven to a violent protest by her parents,” Senator Bernardi said.

“One has to ask, what are we doing to the next generation, when some parents think that sort of thing is okay. In my mind, the parents of the 14-year-old who was taken out of school to attend a violent protest need to be held to account just as much as their child does.”

The group allegedly defaced walls and carpet, pushed over a fence and destroyed electoral material in Senator Bernardi’s Kent Town office, on the fringe of Adelaide’s CBD, on March 18.

Eight adults and four juveniles are expected to be summonsed to face an Adelaide court.

Police said those reported for disorderly behaviour were a Glenunga man and another from Adelaide, both 21, an 18-year-old woman from Bradbury, 23-year-old men from Prospect and Croydon, a 22-year-old woman from Croydon Park, and teenagers from Athelstone, Rosewater and Hewett.

Senator Bernardi reacted furiously after slogans including “Australia’s Trump” and “f..k Bernardi” were scrawled on his office walls, while his wife and staff retreated to locked rooms.

“Lefty totalitarians have trashed my office and threatened my staff because their agenda has been exposed,” he said at the time.

He blamed Bill Shorten for inciting the protest, saying at the time that the Opposition Leader gave “Lefty totalitarians” an implicit green light to resort to name calling and violence to shut down debate, after Mr Shorten in February had labelled him a “homophobe” for pushing for a review of a taxpayer-funded ­program about lesbian, gay, ­bisexual, trans and/or intersex students in schools.

A spokesman for Mr Shorten said the accusation was “disgraceful”. “Nothing excuses the behaviour of those who attacked his office,” the spokesman said.

Senator Bernardi was among those leading the charge against the Safe Schools program, an anti-bullying program funded by Labor and launched by the Coalition two years ago.

South Australian Labor senator Penny Wong said the program was not a political statement, but to ensure children were safe at school. She accused Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham of “rolling over” to the hard Right of the Liberal Party.


Brandis questions climate change beliefs

Attorney-General George Brandis has questioned the science of climate change, saying he's not "at all" convinced it is settled.

Labor has seized on comments by the senior Turnbull government minister that there were a number of views about the cause of climate change, arguing it proves the deep climate scepticism in the coalition.

"It doesn't seem to me that the science is settled at all," Senator Brandis told parliament on Tuesday during debate on the tabling of documents relating to the CSIRO.

The attorney-general was addressing a recent CSIRO restructure - undertaken internally - which will move the focus away from collecting climate data.

About 200 jobs are at risk, however the overall head count is expected to return to current levels within two years.

Senator Brandis said he wasn't embarking on the climate debate himself, but challenging the illogical position of the Labor party.  "But I'm not a scientist, and I'm agnostic really on that question."

Senator Brandis said, if the science was settled - like Labor claims - why would Australia need climate researchers.

CSIRO head Larry Marshall said in an email to staff when announcing the restructure that the question of climate change had been proved and it was time to refocus on solutions to it.

However, scientists say without continuous data collection - some of which is undertaken by the CSIRO in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology - huge gaps could form that could never be recovered.

Labor said the attorney-general's comments were breathtaking. "The commitment of Senator Brandis to addressing the impacts of climate change is so shallow, he hasn't made up his mind whether it actually exists yet," environment spokesman Mark Butler and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said in a statement.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lost the Liberal leadership in 2009 in part due to his commitment to climate change and an emissions trading scheme.  As a backbencher, he heavily criticised the coalition's direct action climate policy.

Senator Brandis' office referred AAP to an interview conducted in 2014 in which the attorney-general told a reporter he was "on the side of those who believed in anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming and who believed something ought to be done about it."


19 April, 2016

Marxist paper says that barrier reef damage is being covered up by Murdoch newspaper

The main Murdoch paper in North Queensland, where the reef is, did cover the bleaching.  It was just the main Murdoch paper in the South, where the reef is not, that mostly ignored the alarms.

And the "Courier Mail" had good reason to ignore the Greenie shrieks.  Greenies have been crying "wolf" over bleaching almost incessantly for many years.  Another such cry is not much news. 

And the point is that corals always recover.  On Bikini atoll the corals re-grew even after sustaining a direct hit from a thermo-nuclear blast.  And even the chief reef alarmist said: I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover”

Coral bleaching is a complex event and it is only Warmists who are sure that global warming causes it. As NOAA says: "Coral bleaching is not well understood by scientists. Many different hypotheses exist as to the cause behind coral bleaching"

I grew up a short boat ride from the reef and as far back as I can remember (over 60 years) there have been alarms about damage to the reef, including bleaching. And that was long before global warming is supposed to have got going. 

Assuming that warmer water is the problem, however, note one thing:  Both the big 1998 die-back and the present die-back coincided with big El Nino events.  And Australia is right in the path of an El Nino event.  It's by far the most parsimonious hypothesis to say that the present problems of the reef are wholly an El Nino effect, and hence just another one of nature's cycles, nothing to do with global warming

But most of the people quoted below are well-known Warmists so they are too predictable to be heeded

The images went around the world. The snapshots of the Great Barrier Reef, from Cairns to Torres Strait, looked more like a pile of bones than coral. Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s centre of excellence for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Townsville, was surveying the reef by plane and helicopter. It was, he wrote on March 26, “the saddest trip of my life”.

From March 22, Hughes criss-crossed 520 individual reefs in four days, covering 3200 kilometres by air. Just four showed no evidence of bleaching. The further north Hughes travelled, over what were once the most pristine waters of the reef, unspoiled by the runoff that pollutes the south, the worse the bleaching became. Fringing reefs in Torres Strait, he said, were “completely white”.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science currently has 300 researchers swarming over the reef, complementing the aerial surveys. Reefs are scored on a scale of zero, which indicates no bleaching, to four, which means more than 60 per cent is bleached. Their observations have replicated Hughes’s. In the meantime, Hughes has continued southwards, trying to find a limit to the unfolding tragedy beneath him.

Like most scientists, Hughes prefers to talk in numbers. “I wouldn’t talk about the Barrier Reef dying or the killing of the reef or whatever. I think that’s overstating it,” he says. “I’ll say what number of reefs we’ve surveyed, how many are severely bleached and how many are not severely bleached – but then often the language gets changed, depending on the style of reporting by particular outlets.”

“It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside.”

To clarify, bleached coral is not dead coral. It’s just very unhealthy. Varying combinations of heat stress, bright sunlight and poor water quality cause coral to expel the algae, or zooxanthellae, on which it feeds, and which also gives it its brilliant colour. This exposes the limestone skeleton beneath. Different types of coral are more susceptible to bleaching than others.

Hughes is clear, though: this is really, really serious. “There’s a window of opportunity to survey the corals when they’re severely bleached, because after a few weeks they start to die, and then the skeletons get covered in seaweed and you can’t see them from the air anymore,” he says. “We timed our northern surveys to coincide with the peak whiteness of the reefs, before there was significant mortality.”

North of Cooktown, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is now reporting up to 50 per cent mortality rates. The full extent of the damage, Hughes says, will take months to unfold. “Different corals linger for longer before they die – and also, of course, some of them won’t die, they will recover. I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover.”

When Hughes returned from his first sojourn north, his phone rang off the hook. In the week before April 7, according to the media monitoring company Meltwater, the story was reported more than 1000 times in 70 countries. Video footage given to ABC TV’s 7.30 and later used by the World Wildlife Fund has been viewed more than four million times. “It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside,” Hughes says.

By any objective measure, the bleaching of the reef is a massive story. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world – the only Australian environmental feature to be granted such status. It’s home to about 215 species of birds, 30 types of whales or dolphins, half a dozen kinds of sea turtle, and 10 per cent of the entire world’s species of fish.

Any potential danger to the reef is economic and diplomatic as much as environmental. According to a Deloitte study commissioned by the Australian government in 2013, its value to the national economy is about $5.7 billion annually. It attracts two million international visitors each year. It employs close to 70,000 people on a full-time basis.

There have been some efforts to inform people about the devastation under way on the reef in the media. News Corp’s The Cairns Post – with a local readership whose livelihoods are directly threatened – has reported the issue, as has Fairfax’s Brisbane Times. But in Queensland’s only statewide newspaper you wouldn’t have read about Hughes’s findings or their ramifications. Since his surveys began, The Courier-Mail hasn’t interviewed him, nor sent one of its journalists into the field to verify either his or his colleagues’ observations.

“It basically shows they’re either in denial about the science,” says Ian Lowe, emeritus professor in the School of Science at Griffith University, “or they’re colluding in obscuring the science so the community don’t understand the threats being posed to the reef, both by climate change and by the associated acidification of the oceans, both of which put real pressure on corals.”

On March 25, the day Hughes completed his survey of the northern section of the reef, the newspaper ran a short piece on page three, lambasting Greenpeace for sharing an image of bleached coral taken in American Samoa that was incorrectly labelled as being from the Barrier Reef.

Last week, on April 7, The Courier-Mail ran on its front page a story titled “David Attenborough’s verdict: Still the most magical place on Earth”, accompanied by a picture of the famed naturalist and filmmaker standing atop some coral at low tide. Inside was a double-page spread headlined “It takes your breath away”, with the sub-head “Reports of reef’s death greatly exaggerated: Attenborough”.

Well, at least that was what the subeditor said. The lead quote came not from Attenborough, but from federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, after he was granted a preview of the first part of Attenborough’s TV series on the reef that aired last Sunday. “The key point that I had from seeing the first of the three parts is that clearly, the world’s Great Barrier Reef is still the world’s Great Barrier Reef,” Hunt said.

Had Hunt seen the third part, or had the reader progressed to the end of the article, they would have noted Attenborough’s conclusion: “The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. The twin perils brought by climate change – an increase in the ocean temperature and in its acidity – threaten its very existence. If they continue to rise at the present rate, the reefs will be gone within decades.”

The Courier-Mail’s relationship with environment organisations has been frosty since the departure of long-serving reporter Brian Williams. Williams says these issues have always waxed and waned. “Not long before I left The Courier-Mail I was doing stories on the prospect of this bleaching occurring, and I actually spoke to some friends in the conservation movement and suggested that the debate would swing back again.”

For now, though, the newspaper is running heavily in support of Adani’s massive Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin, which had been given the go-ahead by the Queensland state government on April 3. “In the real world you need jobs,” began an editorial on the same day, which lambasted “hashtag activism” and defended the regulations it claimed would protect the reef.

“The science on the health of the reef is plain,” the paper said. “This great natural wonder loved by all Queenslanders faces a range of stresses – as it has during the entire past century – from agricultural runoff to the current coral bleaching.”

No mention was made of climate change. The science on that is plain, too: according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, bleaching is caused primarily by heat stress. The authority also notes that the reef has in fact been bleached only twice previously in the past century – and those events were in 1998 and 2002. This event is far worse. Hughes has said the reef is being “fried”. It’s perhaps more accurate to say it’s being slowly boiled. Water temperatures are up to 35 degrees around Lizard Island, and about 2 degrees above normal summer averages generally.

Climate scientists say that in addition to 2015 being the hottest year since records began in 1880, water temperatures around Australia are at all-time highs. They point to more frequent El Nińo events, and more intense cyclones. It’s not just the Barrier Reef that is suffering, either: corals are being bleached across the southern hemisphere, from the central and eastern Pacific across to the Caribbean.

Scientists usually fare poorly in the media for their struggle to speak in lay terms. Now, the government’s own experts are being dismissed as activists.

John Cook, a climate communication fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, says it’s a deliberate strategy. “It’s an attempt by people who oppose climate action to deliberately lump them together, and so when a scientist publishes empirical research about climate change, then they get labelled an activist.” Politicising science, he says, is a way of casting doubt on it.

“I remember having conversations with editors about how climate should be covered, and being told that it was a political story,” remembers Graham Readfearn, who launched his GreenBlog at The Courier-Mail in 2008, before resigning in 2010. “The politics are a distraction when the issue is quite literally staring you in the face, in the form of white coral.”

The newspaper’s website has since deleted all of Readfearn’s posts. Questions to The Courier-Mail’s editor, Lachlan Heywood, went unanswered.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor of marine science at the University of Queensland with a special interest in the communication of science issues, notes that the premiere of Attenborough’s series on Sunday night was watched by 10.6 million people in Britain alone. But in Queensland, there is an eerie silence. In politics and in the state’s most-read newspaper, no one wants to talk about what is happening in front of them.


Happy student campers told to queer their ideas

Government schools have promoted a gay school holiday camp that teaches young teenagers to "queer their ideas".  The Camp Out organisation is hosting the camp in Sydney this week for 13 to 17-year-olds who are gay, straight, intersex or simply "curious and questioning" their sexuality.

Camp Out — which describes itself as a "collective guided by queer politics" — sent registration packs to schools across NSW. It encourages children to "reach out to queer communities".  "Helping campers to queer their ideas about the future is a key goal," Camp Out says on its ­website.

"For us, one of Camp Out’s central missions is helping campers to imagine what their futures might look like outside of compulsory heterosexuality — to introduce them to ideas and people that ­better fit their own conceptions of their sexualities and gender identities.

"Camp Out aims to skill LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) in reaching out to queer communities, drawing support from those communities, and also in forming their own communities."

Marking its five-year anniversary on Facebook last month, Camp Out stated: "On this important day in our activist history, help us continue to build generations of queers who are proud, resilient, creative and fabulous!"

Camp activities yesterday included "queer sex ed, feminism and dancing workshops".

The Wollongong High School of Performing Arts, on the NSW south coast, promoted the five-day camp in a "roll call notice" for teachers to read to their classes last month.

The nearby Warrawong High School advertised the camp on a poster, and Camp Out’s Facebook page shows a photo of a regis­tration pack arriving at Chatham High School in Taree, on the NSW north coast.

The camp is staffed by volunteers older than 21 who have "working with children" checks.

"We use the term ‘camp crew’ intentionally to emphasise that we are not trying to take the place of a counsellor in any way," the Camp Out website states.

"While the health and safety of our campers — physical, mental and emotional — are our utmost responsibility, we do not profess to be counsellors or crisis support."

The camp is drug and alcohol- free and has an "ask to touch” ­policy which "means that any kind of sexual or non-consensual touch is not allowed at camp".

"A huge and very valid concern for parents is for the safety of their child attending Camp Out," its website says.

The independent Camp Out group is backed by Twenty10, a NSW and federal government funded counselling service for LGBTI children, teenagers and adults in NSW.

News of the "queer camp" follows an uproar over The Australian’s revelation yesterday that Victoria’s new family violence curriculum asks Year 8 students to study sexualised personal ads and write their own ads seeking the "perfect partner".

One of the ads, to be analysed by students as young as 12, includes a "lustful, sexually generous" person "seeking sexy freak out".

Victoria’s opposition spokesman on education, Nick Wakeling, yesterday said parents had a "right to be concerned".

He said Premier Daniel ­Andrews "must stop treating our schools as his opportunity to ­impose his social agenda" on children.

"Parents should never have to learn about what their 12-year-old child is being taught on the front page of the newspaper," he said.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said he understood parents’ concerns but they could not "stick their head in the sand".

"I understand those concerns and I know they are challenging ­issues," he said. "But we can’t as a society stick our heads in the sand and think our kids aren’t exposed to these issues.

"We trust the professional judgment of our teachers to choose the resources that are ­appropriate for their students."


Protect kids from Marxist sexualisation programs

There are few forms of predation that offend our common morality more than child sexual abuse. During the 1970s, pedophile groups capitalising on the sexual liberation movement sought to redefine their exploitation of youth as an expression of children’s sexual rights, self-determination and autonomy. Groups such as the North American Man/Boy Love Association claimed children were sexual beings and sought to repeal age of consent laws to liberate their sexuality. They were welcomed by fringe elements of the neo-Marxist minorities movement that advocated sexual libertarian ideology under Queer and “sex positive” politics.

Today, the discourse on children’s sexual rights and the belief they are sexual beings are invoked to justify school programs that sexualise youth at ever younger ages.

Daniel Andrews’ Labor left government in Victoria invokes neo-Marxist rhetoric to defend highly questionable school programs that encourage the sexualisation of children. The Safe Schools Coalition and Building Respectful Relationships programs were introduced using minority politics as the rationale. In each case, a state-designated minority group and political cause are aligned in a program of social change that uses youth as change agents. Program designers create an urgent health case for government funding without causal evidence to validate a linear relationship between program activities and core objectives.

The Safe Schools program was created for the state-designated minority group LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) for the cause of anti-bullying with the stated objective to improve health outcomes. The program encourages young people to become change agents for the cause of sexual ­diversity. When the program was criticised by conservative Senator Cory Bernardi, Labor leader Bill Shorten accused him of homophobia. After community outrage following revelations that program co-founder Roz Ward designed Safe Schools as part of a Marxist social change strategy, the liberal coalition withdrew commonwealth funding beyond 2017. Despite the Marxist objective of the Safe Schools program — or perhaps because of it ­­­— Daniel Andrews continues to defend it.

His education minister James Merlino vilified politicians concerned about the hard Left’s indoctrination of children, calling them “bigots”. It is uncertain what pejoratives Merlino, a heterosexual married man, has devised for the lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who oppose Queer politics and the Safe Schools program.

Unfortunately, the SSC debacle is not isolated. Last week, it transpired that the Andrews government had produced another school program that sexualises children. As with the SSC program, Building Respectful Relationships began with a state-designated minority group, women, aligned with the important cause of domestic violence prevention. The case for government funding was again framed as a health imperative, namely, the prevention of violence against women. And once again, the program was introduced in schools without causal evidence linking its exercises to the stated objective.

Like Safe Schools, the BRR program promotes a radical agenda divorced from its stated program objective. It promotes the sexualisation of children by inculcating techniques and beliefs centred on the premise that children are sexual. Instructors are encouraged to sexualise children, and children to sexualise themselves and their peers. They are asked to view highly sexualised personal ads and write their own, discuss transgenderism and anal sex. Program authors acknowledge that one exercise may cause “disassociation” in children.

Sexualising and inducing a dissociative state in children are methods of pedophilic predation. They are not methods of domestic violence prevention.

It is increasingly common to find the sexualisation of very young children promoted as part of sex education in schools. In 2009, the United Nations produced International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. The first iteration met with controversy after conservatives revealed it sexualised prepubescent children by promoting masturbation. The offending sections were removed only after public outcry.

NGOs have joined the UN in a push for radical sexual programs aimed at youth under the auspices of sexual diversity and sexual health. The International Planned Parenthood Foundation claims that “the taboo on youth sexuality is one of the key forces driving the AIDS epidemic”. In fact, the premature sexualisation of youth, especially the exploitation of girls for prostitution and other harmful cultural practices, have been key drivers of HIV transmission in Southeast Asia and Africa for ­decades. Despite the fact, the IPPF asserts repeatedly that “young people are sexual beings” and criticises the Catholic Church for imposing barriers on young people, denying “pleasurable and positive aspects of sex”. Its solution is comprehensive sexuality education, which it describes as perhaps “the single most important gift that parents can offer to their children”.

The Netherlands government promotes comprehensive sexuality education in what some call the Dutch model. Under the Dutch CSE model, schoolchildren begin sexual programs at four years of age. Modules for young children include “what feels nice” and “does bare make you blush?” Lessons marketed under the “Spring Fever” package include “being naked”, a module that explores nudity, undressing and being in the bath.

It is unclear why any adult would solicit an account of how a child undresses or why the Dutch state would mandate such discussion in schools. CSE advocates defend their programs with studies that indicate efficacy, but mainly in comparison to abstinence programs. There is a more moderate middle path that provides children requisite knowledge in biology, safety from violence and mutual respect without encouraging their sexualisation in activities that resemble grooming.

The sexualisation of childhood by governments and NGOs should be a source of broad community concern. The state has no business interfering in childhood by conditioning children’s sexual responses. As a whole, parents remain the best arbiters of their children’s morality and guardians of their development. Australian children are ranked 14th in literacy and 19th in mathematics according to OECD reports. Governments should take remedial classes in teaching kids the basics of reading, writing and arithmetical instead of indulging messianic pretensions to parenting by proxy.


Must not mock Leftist journalists and their lockstep  thinking

There was a time when journalists and commentators hollered against the zeitgeist. This was a useful role. Sure, we need straight reporters giving us the unvarnished news but aside from that, when it comes to opinion, commentary and campaign journalism, a bit of dissent is required. Whatever convention is being adopted unquestioningly by authorities, whatever groupthink is extant in society, we need it to be challenged. Among the opinion writers, journalists and commentators we need a good quota of contrarians and sceptics.

Journalists filled this role when the zeitgeist was conservative. In the 1960s and 70s contrarianism came naturally as they challenged conservative social and political norms under conservative governments. Many Boomer journalists and their Millennial comrades hanker for those days — Iraq is their Vietnam, refugee advocacy their civil rights movement, and gay marriage their summer of love. Against conservative governments or ideas their dissent is there for all to see. But when the zeitgeist blows with a progressive issue, such as climate change, gay marriage, open-border migration, new entitlements or “moral” taxes, journalists now become warriors for groupthink. They beg to agree.

The journalistic mob turns on commentators who dare question the herd mentality. It is Pythonesque. We all know the scene. “You’ve got to think for yourselves, you’re all individuals,” Brian lectures the crowd. “Yes, we’re all individuals,” the gallery of journalists responds in unison. And from down the back Tim Blair, The Daily Telegraph columnist and blogger, delivers one of the shortest and most sweetly ironic lines of all time. “I’m not.”

Blair became the target of leftist journalists (again) last week. Through the journalists’ union, some of his colleagues tried to silence him. They demanded his employer (News Corp Australia, publisher of The Australian) distance itself from his views. So-called progressives publicly wished violence upon him.

On most days the Left claim News Corp journalists do their master’s bidding; now they demand this master asserts control over its writers’ opinions! Pythonesque. If not so funny, it would be scary. We live in the age of thought police, and the censors are journalists themselves. Blair’s crime was to mock a push on behalf of ABC employees for domestic violence leave. In his typically blunt satire, Blair pointed out the absurdity of this exercise in what we might call virtue-signalling or entitlement creep. Provocatively, he wondered why the union thought ABC staff needed this provision. “What kind of carnage-strewn bloodhouse are they operating over there?” he blogged. “Is that why ABC staff work so few hours — because they’re always recovering from the previous night’s beatings? Why are staffers not pressing charges instead of seeking leave?”

He could have noted ABC workers already have personal leave, sick leave, compassionate leave and parental leave, that separate leave categories for every social scourge are silly, and that one of the greatest problems with domestic violence is the unwillingness of victims to report attacks.

But this was not a thesis, it was a pithy, satirical blog. Blair made his point, perhaps too well.

Twitter, of course, reverted to its default mode of anti-conservative outrage. Leftist tweeps can be routinely offensive and profane — sometimes ABC actor Brendan Maclean even wondered on Twitter why Blair’s colleagues didn’t just “punch him in the back of the head” — but they are incandescent when a right-of-centre commentator mocks their sanctimony.

The daily quandary for the morally vain is how to trumpet their greater sensitivity on issues that concern all fair-minded people. The answer is always the same: pretend someone else doesn’t care and denounce them. Hence they smear others as racists, homophobes, misogynists or in Blair’s case, of being unsympathetic about domestic violence.

Perhaps the unions pushing for domestic violence leave are the ones demeaning the issue. And if public sector and journalists’ unions are justified in demanding this new entitlement at the ABC (and at News Corp Australia as it happens), perhaps it is a good thing that some journalists swim against the tide.

Whatever you think about the leave provision, perhaps debating its merits or explaining why it might be considered above ridicule would be a more intelligent and liberal-minded approach than trying to threaten, intimidate, “punch in the back of the head” or otherwise silence someone with whom you disagree.


18 April, 2016

Coral reefs set to lose tolerance to bleaching as oceans warm

There's probably a few factual bits below but it's mostly just modelling crap.  They at least acknowledge that corals do adapt -- which is a great leap forward for them

The future is not looking bright. Coral reefs are set to become more vulnerable to bleaching as rising temperatures cripple their self-defence mechanisms.

Bleaching occurs when warm waters strip away the colourful photosynthesising algae that provide nourishment to corals.

This happens during unusually warm periods, such as during El Nińo years, but doesn’t always kill coral, which can recover when waters cool again.

Corals are often able to survive heatwaves by developing resistance during periods of milder warming, when water temperatures rise and cool off again, says Tracy Ainsworth of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The corals are essentially given a warning for what’s about to come, a sort of practice run.

A little stress can help corals

"Corals that undergo smaller stress prior to a bleaching event are able to retain more symbionts within the tissue, those algae which are crucial for nutrition," says Ainsworth. "This has major implications as to whether or not it can survive."

Now that climate change is driving up ocean temperatures, there are fears that these acclimatisation periods will become shorter or disappear completely.

To get an idea of how warming waters might affect corals, Ainsworth and her colleagues studied patterns of sea surface temperatures at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the last three decades.

They found that during that time, 75 per cent of heatwaves were preceded by moderately warm temperatures. These can help cut coral mortality by 50 per cent.

More heat, more stress

They then modelled future scenarios and found that this proportion may drop to 22 per cent if sea surface temperatures rise by 2 °C, as could occur by 2100.

What’s more, they found that an increase in local water temperature of just 0.5 °C can lead to loss of this adaptation mechanism.

"We will no longer be getting a situation where corals have a small stress, a period of recovery due to water cooling, and then a big stress," says Ainsworth. "What we’ll see is an accumulation of one big stress."

Survival strategies

Their experiments also confirmed the importance of practice runs, showing that corals developed a number of heat resistance strategies as the water warmed up.

"They upregulated their heat shock responses and all these other molecular mechanisms that prevented damage to the cells during the next stress," says Ainsworth.

But increasing sea temperatures caused by climate change will see that gap between the preparation period and the peak stress disappear, says study co-author Scott Heron of the US  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Not too late

"Those temperatures will no longer drop below the stress levels," says Heron. "So instead of a gap to recover between the preparation period and the peak stress, the corals have an extended period of stress."

If these predictions are born out, coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef could dwindle to less than 5 per cent by the end of the century.

Nevertheless, it is not too late to turn things around. The researchers’ modelling studies demonstrated that aggressive efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions would result in no net decline in coral cover by the end of the century.

"I think we do still have hope, we should never give up," says Ainsworth.


Reduce Indigenous incarceration rates? Not so fast

The Australian Bar Association is right in stating that the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system has nothing to do with racial discrimination.

But while the suggestion by the Australian Bar Association to review mandatory sentencing laws for minor offences such as the practice of jailing fine defaulters is worthwhile, it is important to remember the reason why most Indigenous people are in jail in the first place.

In the push to lower Indigenous incarceration rates the real victims are often forgotten. People who are assaulted or even killed by their family members, like the woman whose partner set fire to her genitals because she ‘looked at another man the wrong way.’

Abolishing mandatory sentencing for minor crimes is also unlikely to reduce the Indigenous incarceration rate as much as most people hope.

The belief that most Indigenous people are in jail because they have been unfairly targeted by police and arrested for relatively minor ‘social nuisance’ offences is not true.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on prisoner characteristics shows that of the 9,885 indigenous prisoners in 2015, only 1,069 indigenous prisoners were in jail for offences against justice procedures, such as non-payment of fines. Most (56%) per cent were in jail for serious crimes such as homicide, assault and sex offences.

As Indigenous lawyer and member of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Josephine Cashman, has pointed out, Indigenous family violence statistics are horrifying. Between 2012 and 2013, Indigenous women were hospitalised for family-violence assault at 34 times the rate of non-Indigenous women. Homicide rates for Indigenous people are also seven to eight times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous people.

In saying this, however, it is important to note that these disturbing statistics are not necessarily related to Indigeneity, but rather are a problem of poverty and social dysfunction.

Australia’s most disadvantaged postcodes have at least twice the rate of unemployment, criminal convictions and imprisonment than other postcodes.  One of the main reasons the Indigenous incarceration rate is 13 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians is because a greater proportion of Indigenous Australians live in these low socioeconomic, welfare-dependent suburbs or communities than other Australians.

A 2012 Queensland study found the postcodes with the most chronic offenders were in remote and very remote locations with the highest levels of disadvantage.  These are places like Yuendumu in the Northern Territory where at one time, 93 people from a total population of 587 were in prison.

According to the Australian Bar Association president, Patrick O’Sullivan there is no direct discrimination on the basis of race in the criminal justice system.  For various reasons, mandatory sentencing tends to indirectly discriminate on the basis of disadvantage and the high rate of disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians, is why mandatory sentencing has had a disproportionate impact on them.

In fact, although many social justice advocates claim ‘the criminal laws and sentencing regulations unfairly target Indigenous people’ if there is any discrimination it tends to be in favour of Indigenous people. Overall, Indigenous offenders receive shorter sentences than non-Indigenous offenders for most crimes.

The reason Indigenous people are more likely than non-Indigenous people to be locked up for minor crimes like traffic offences, is because Indigenous people are more likely to lack the financial means to pay their fines, not because the courts are biased.

The Australian Bar Association is right to suggest reviewing the practice of jailing fine defaulters, but in the rush to reduce the overall Indigenous Incarceration rate it is also important not to forget who the real victims are.

Strategies to reduce the level of disadvantage and the corresponding high rates of family violence and intimate partner homicides among Indigenous Australians are likely to be much more effective in reducing Indigenous incarceration rates than tinkering with the criminal justice system ever will.


Solar scheme costing Qld. too much

A VOLUNTARY "battery buyout” deal for solar-equipped households on the most generous feed-in tariff is being considered by the Palaszczuk Government.

Under the proposal, the 238,000 customers on the 44˘ a kW rate would receive a rebate on installing a battery storage system in return for agreeing to cancel the Solar Bonus Scheme early.

Solar analyst Nigel Morris says the move could save the State Government more than $1 billion by cutting a third of the estimated cost of the Solar Bonus Scheme, which does not end until 2028.

The money paid to households for power generated back into the grid from rooftop solar panels is recouped through higher electricity charges for all consumers, adding $89 to the average annual bill last year.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey told The Sunday Mail: "We are looking at it. "It’s early days. If the policy setting is right, there will be benefits for consumers and for the networks. "The principal has to be that any change has to be voluntary.”

The Government recently rejected a recommendation from the Queensland Productivity Commission to end the Solar Bonus Scheme eight years early.

But Mr Bailey said it made sense to consider new policies around the looming "revolution” in battery storage technology and its impacts. "Battery take-up is very modest at present, but that will change and we want the policy settings in place. Every Australian government should be looking at this now.”

Mr Morris’s buyout approach suggests paying consumers on the Solar Bonus Scheme the equivalent of 50 per cent of what they could be expected to receive until 2028 as a rebate on installing battery systems. Enabling consumers to store power would result in more efficient energy use, reducing the burden and costs of transmission and generation.

"It’s a win-win," he said.

Solar Citizens spokesman Reece Turner said: "This is definitely something the Government should be considering.”  But it was essential that any buyout was voluntary and that the savings were directed to reducing the power bills of all Queenslanders, he said.

The Solar Bonus Scheme had helped give the state the highest penetration of rooftop solar panels in the world.

"And this could put us ahead of the curve in working out how to run a 21st century electricity grid,” he said.


Victoria Police is about beating you 'sensless'. Corinna Horvath  case still requires action

In 1996, 21-year-old Corinna Horvath was assaulted by police during an unlawful raid on her Melbourne home. Her nose was broken and a tooth chipped. She was hospitalised for 5 days.

In 2001, Ms Horvath won a civil case at the County Court. After 40 days of evidence, the judge found police had committed trespass, assault, unlawful arrest and false imprisonment and awarded Ms Horvath $143,525 in compensation. This amount was reduced on appeal and Ms Horvath was denied leave to appeal to the High Court.

In Victoria, individual police officers, rather than the State, are liable to pay damages for unlawful conduct. Where a police officer is unable to pay, the victim can go uncompensated. Further, none of the police involved has been disciplined or prosecuted by the State. Ms Horvath seeks adequate compensation and effective discipline of the police officers involved.

In 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Ms Horvath's right to an effective remedy was violated, in relation to the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention to which she was subjected, and the interference with her home and privacy. The Committee recommended legislative reform in Victoria and adequate compensation for Ms Horvath.

Partial remedy in record time!

On 19 September 2014, Corinna Horvath obtained an individual remedy some 5 months after the UN found her rights had been violated and that she should be compensated. Ms Horvath received a written apology from the Victorian Police Commissioner and an ex gratia payment as compensation for the violent assault on her by police in 1996.

Congratulations to Ms Horvath and her legal team. Thank you to everyone who campaigned for her right to an effective remedy.

However, there is more to be done. The UN Human Rights Committee found that Australia "is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations occurring in future" by means of law reform "to ensure its conformity with the requirements of the Covenant."

The events in question:

Corinna Horvath and her partner, Craig Love, had friends David and Colleen and their two boys over for a barbecue one Saturday afternoon in 1996. At about 9:40pm, two police officers knocked on the door wanting to inspect her unroadworthy car for evidence it had recently been driven, contrary to police instruction. Ms Horvath refused and asked them to leave. A scuffle ensued, in which the police claim they were assaulted by Horvath and Love, but a County Court judge found that Horvath and Love had 'used no more force than was necessary' to prevent the police trespassing on their property. The police left and called for reinforcements.

At 10:30pm, 5 police cars arrived and 8 policemen got out and surrounded the house. One of the police ‘yelled … in a loud and aggressive voice’ that the occupants should open the door, as they intended to make an arrest. The occupants refused, asking for evidence of a warrant. The officer replied that they did not need one. One of the officers then kicked open the front door ‘with great and sudden force’, striking Ms Horvath's friend David in the face with the door, causing injury and constituting an assault.

This same officer then entered the house, ‘pursued David … brought him to the floor and, in the course of so doing, struck him on the right side of the head and hit him at least once with a baton across his lower back.’ Another police officer then informed the first that David was not the man they sought to arrest.

The first officer then entered the lounge room where he tackled Ms Horvath to the floor, then 'brutally and unnecessarily' punched her in the face up to a dozen times, thereby 'rendering her senseless'. Ms Horvath has no recollection of this assault. She suffered a broken nose and chipped tooth, bruising and scratches to her face and body. Two officers then handcuffed her 'in a manner that restricted her from reducing the pain and blood flow from her nose or otherwise relieving her injuries' and dragged her to their divvy van. Meanwhile, her friend Colleen was forced to the floor and held there with a knee in her back. Ms Horvath and Mr Love were both arrested and taken away by police.

Ms Horvath was 'not provided with immediate medical treatment' in police custody, but instead 'left screaming in pain in [a] cell'. She was 'eventually discovered by a police doctor who contacted her parents', who called an ambulance. She was released from custody at about 12:20am and taken to hospital for emergency treatment.

A week later, Ms Horvath returned to hospital and was admitted for 5 days, requiring surgery to repair her facial injuries. She is left with scars on her nose and has been treated for anxiety and depression arising from the assault.


17 April, 2016

Sugar tax could save 1600 lives, raise $400 million, Australian research shows

This is complete and utter rubbish founded upon unproven and improbable assumptions.  We all eat huge amounts of sugar. If sugar were bad for us we would all be dead. Instead our life expectancy continually improves.

Robert Lustig for years demonized sugar while other medical researchers pointed out how the evidence did not support him.  So what has changed?  All that evidence has not gone away.  It's still there.

What has happened is the need some people seem to feel for sounding alarms.  They like to dramatize themselves as wiser than the herd. So when the decades-long demonization of dietary fat finally foundered on the rock of actual evidence, a new boogeyman had to be found.  And sugar was elected. 

The only evidence anyone has about the badness of sugar is a few epidemiological studies, which intrinsically CANNOT identify the cause of anything and are regularly misinterpreted

A 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could save more than 1600 lives and raise at least $400 million a year for health initiatives, new Australian research shows.

The study, co-written by the Obesity Policy Coalition and the University of Queensland's School of Public Health, is the first of its kind to model Australian population data to assess the impact of a sugary drinks tax.

In the first 25 years of a sugary drinks tax there could be 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4400 fewer cases of heart disease and more than 1000 fewer cases of stroke, according to the study.

"This sort of study ... provides the evidence base needed to support policy decisions by government, like taxing sugary drinks," said Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin, who co-wrote the study.

"It's quite hard to have a policy that is likely to reduce body mass index, because it is quite hard for people to lose weight. This is a policy proposal that would support people to consume less sugary drinks, leading to reduced BMIs, reduced incidences of disease and then reduced deaths."

According to the study, a tax in Australia could lead to a 12.6 per cent reduction in consumption of sugary drinks, the largest contributors of added sugars in Australians' diets.

The biggest consumers are among males aged 19 to 30 years, consuming up to 1.5 litres per day, while the top 10 per cent of consumers drink more than one litre a day (including diet drinks). In 2015 Australians purchased around 1.1 billion litres of sugary drinks at a total cost of $2.2 billion, excluding those purchased at fast-food outlets, vending machines and convenience stores.

Ms Martin said Australia's consumption rates highlighted the money that could be raised for health initiatives.

"The tax at one end saves lives, improves quality of life, raises revenue and ultimately reduces healthcare costs."

The research findings come only weeks after the British government announced it would introduce a sugar levy on soft drinks from 2018, a move which prompted calls for the Australian government to follow suit.

Anurag Sharma is a senior research fellow at the Monash University Centre for Health Economics, whose research has outlined the potential impact a tax would have across different income groups.

He said his research showed the burden of the tax was "almost negligible".

"Low-income individuals would reduce consumption the most and they would be the most to benefit in terms of weight reduction."

In 2014, Mr Sharma and his team compared a 20 per cent flat rate sales (valoric) tax and a 20˘ a litre volumetric tax.

Their research showed the average yearly per capita tax burden on low-income households was $17.87 compared with $15.17 for high-income households for the valoric tax, and $13.80 and $10.10 for the volumetric tax.

"We found the volumetric tax to be more effective in reducing obesity, because those heavy drinkers tend to buy multipacks which can be cheaper," Mr Sharma said.


Moron feminist takes two small incidents and hangs huge generalizations on them

Widely-read Australian feminist, Em Rusciano, below, takes two slightly off-colour incidents and claims that they prove what a bad lot "men" are. If that's feminist logic, it sure discredits feminism.  I can find two incidents that will prove anything and everything by her criteria. 

Generalizations need to be founded on representative sampling, not one-off incidents.  If you like unrepresentative sampling, just stand outside a divorce court for half a day and you will find a stream of men who will give you chapter and verse to prove that WOMEN are a bad lot

TO THE people raising the future men of the world: I’ve been forced to contact you, because the level of online douchery and quite frankly predatory behaviour aimed at young women, has this week hit an all time dickhead high score.

By now, I’m sure you’ve read about the man who took a creep shot of a woman doing her fruit and veggie shopping at Woolies. He thought it would be romantic to post it on their Facebook page and then say he’d turn up everyday in the same spot until she acknowledged him.

It was also a huge week for prestigious higher education institutions.

Male students at Sydney’s UNSW filmed themselves on a bus trip chanting the following: "I wish that all the ladies were little red foxes, and if I were a hunter I’d shoot them in the boxes.”

Not since Lennon and McCartney have such lyrical heights been reached.

The delightful Melbourne University crew were found to have a Facebook page that rates female students’ looks, tells you where you can find them, and provides delightful photo captions such as: "I bet some vibrato on her G-string would sound nice”. Hint: the woman they were rating was a musician.

I have two daughters, and when I read these kinds of things, I completely despair as to what kind of world I’m sending them into.

You see, I can teach them all manner of things about life. I can arm them with the tools to deal with certain challenges. But in this particular scenario, I’m completely impotent.

I can’t stop men from taking photos of them without their consent. I can’t teach boys that chanting words that glorify acts of rape and violence against my girls is gross and wrong.

So, I’m asking you to have higher expectations of your sons’ behaviour. I’m asking all fathers to model their own behaviour in a manner that shows their sons how to respect women. Hey, lets not stop there. Why not be respectful of all humans in general?

I’m asking that all mothers be courageous enough to squash any inequality, should it pop up even in the tiniest way. As women, I’m sure you never want to be objectified, so don’t accept it from your sons or their fathers.

Teach them to be in tune with their own feelings. Allow them to explore a range of negative emotions, not just anger.

Tell them that it’s OK to be sad, vulnerable and sensitive. I believe forcing young men to repress emotions leads to frustration and bad behaviour down the track.

I don’t think it’s right that I have to tell my girls that they need to adjust their behaviour and actions to compensate for the possibility of a man not being able to control himself.

Realistically I’m going to have to, but I’d rather not.

Finally, remind them that girls are their equals and are people first. Remind them that no­ one is better than them — or less than them — because of what gender they are.

I have no doubt that a lot of you already do this. I am in no way saying that all your sons will behave in this manner.

I’m just a mother trying to help shape and change the world in which her daughters are growing up, so that they may be the best humans they can be.


Another university grievance mongers’ song and dance

What a marvellously McCarthyesque moment. On the ABC’s 7.30 this week the shamefaced former collaborator admitted to his inquisitors that he saw the error of his ways. James Dunn, a big burly country boy who’s treasurer of Baxter College at the University of NSW, acknow­ledged that even last year he was involved in the college’s annual Boys Night Out activities where they chanted "appalling” songs.

Now that furious students are protesting against these "disgusting songs which glorify rape”, he has seen the light. "I’m condemning my own actions at this time,” he blushingly disclosed.

And the lyrics of the song 7.30 described as "hideous”?

I wish that all the ladies were buns in the oven

And if I was a baker

I’d cream them by the dozen

Crude? Yes, bawdy and lusty, but also a typical drinking song, the type of vulgar sexual ditty that has been part of our culture since before Chaucer’s time. I remember the girls at Ascham School romping through a performance of the Canterbury Tales that included the memorable lines:

And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,

And seyde, ‘Y-wis, but if ich have my wille,

For derne love of thee, lemman, I spille.’

Not so different. But, then, these female fascists probably would like to ban Chaucer too.

The Baxter drinking song speaks not of rape but of men’s desire for sex, an urge some feminist lobby groups appear to regard as reprehensible. Here’s Jocelyn Dracakis, a student rep on the UNSW Council: "It shows lyrics that glorify acts of rape … It’s completely revolting that this kind of behaviour has been allowed to take place in the college.”

Among the lyrics sung by students and replayed on 7.30 was this little gem: "I’d like to tickle their clitoris.” Rape culture? On the contrary. Isn’t this exactly what we women have long been asking for? How it is possible that this nonsense was the leading story on our ABC’s top current affairs program? Let’s hope Michelle Guthrie takes note.

The most depressing aspect of this whole affair is the lobbyists have persuaded the university administration to cave in to their strident demands that such songs be verboten. The university released a statement saying it was "appalled by the sexist and demeaning attitudes and behaviours” and had "taken steps to insure that incidents of this kind do not occur again”.

Surely our intellectual elite should have the guts to stand up to these crazy grievance mongers. OK, young men’s right to sing a dirty ditty isn’t actually a noble cause. But there are important issues at stake in the inability of university authorities to withstand such silly, vexatious campaigns.

This month the University of Sydney Union gave in to protests and decided the 88-year-old Catholic Society at the university should face deregistration on the grounds that it was discriminatory to require senior members to be Catholic — that’s despite the union funding a "women’s room” and a centre for indigenous students. Similarly lily-livered behaviour now characterises some of the world’s leading universities.

Late last year British columnist James Delingpole wrote a marvellous column in response to the decision by Oriel College at Oxford to give in to student demands to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes, British imperial hero and founder of the Rhodes scholarship. Delingpole penned the letter he wished Oriel College had sent to the black South African student demonstrator. It included some memorable statements:

"Of course, you are perfectly within your rights to squander your time at Oxford on silly, vexatious, single-issue political campaigns … We are well used to seeing undergraduates — or, in your case, postgraduates — making idiots of themselves. Just don’t expect us to indulge your idiocy, let alone genuflect before it. You may be black — ‘BME’ as the grisly modern terminology has it — but we are colourblind.

"We do not discriminate over sex, race, colour or creed. We do, however, discriminate according to intellect. That means, inter alia, that when our undergrads or postgrads come up with fatuous ideas, we don’t pat them on the back, give them a red rosette and say: ‘Ooh, you’re black and you come from South Africa. What a clever chap you are!’

"No. We prefer to see the quality of those ideas tested in the crucible of public debate. That’s another key part of the Oxford intellectual tradition, you see: you can argue any damn thing you like but you need to be able to justify it with facts and logic — otherwise your idea is worthless.”

Where’s the logic in claiming a song about tickling the clitoris contributes to the rape culture? A trivial issue, perhaps, but symptomatic of a wider malaise.


Degrees are more necessary than ever before, but the rewards aren’t as great

HAVING a degree has become a basic prerequisite for most careers. Those without a degree are more likely to be disadvantaged in career and economic terms.

You could think of this as somewhat like mobile phone ownership. Twenty years ago, those of us without a mobile phone got by just fine — having one was a status symbol. Now, even though the phones are much, much better, having one is nothing special. And those without one will really struggle.

Yet widespread participation in higher education has implications for individuals. On the one hand, the more people who have a degree, the more this becomes a basic expectation for employers. On the other hand, the more having a degree becomes a basic expectation, the less "special” it is and the lower the premium, in terms of pay, that can be gained.

We can see this clearly in shifts in graduate starting salaries. Since the mid-1970s, median annual starting salaries for bachelor degree graduates have deteriorated steadily.

In 1977, when a minority of people completed high school, let alone went to university, graduates of engineering, education, computer science, social work, veterinary science and agricultural science all had starting salaries above male average weekly earnings (MAWE) — the long-term benchmark for salary levels in Australia.

In 2011, only graduates of dentistry, optometry and earth sciences had salaries above MAWE. Even medicine, perhaps the most sought-after degree, has taken a tumble, from a starting salary of 138.5 per cent of MAWE in 1977 to 91.4 per cent in 2011.

This diminution in monetary value of having a degree corresponds to steep rises in participation in higher education over the same period.

Three decades ago, only around 40 per cent of young people completed high school (46 per cent in 1985, for example). Today, around the same proportion complete a university degree.

What all this shows is that we are experiencing credential creep. The level of educational credential needed to stand out from the crowd has risen steeply. This is compellingly demonstrated by the steep increases in participation in the highest degree levels.

Australian universities graduated nearly 8000 doctorates (PhDs and professional doctoral degrees) in 2013, more than double the number graduating in 1999.

Of course, higher education is about much more than the piece of paper received at the end.

Remarkably, in the face of such steep increases in participation, graduates’ satisfaction with their experience at university is extremely high. It has remained high over the past decade, at well over 90 per cent. Similarly, more than half of Australia’s universities rank in the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities top 500.

Data such as this flies in the face of anecdotal concerns about a decline in the quality of higher education in Australia.


Universities today enrol an exceptionally diverse community of students, of varying social, academic and cultural backgrounds. That this has been achieved without plummeting satisfaction levels or widespread loss of institutional standings — despite static or declining public funding — is remarkable.

But these increases in participation and diversity create social tensions.

Australian tertiary education is now characterised by a lack of clear purpose. This stems from policymakers’ failure to conceptualise the tertiary education landscape and the role of the institutions that comprise it, as well as the lack of any instrumental view of objectives based on need.

It has become unclear what differentiates the vocational, education and training (VET) sector from the university sector and, in turn, from private tertiary education providers. Enabling, bachelor and sometimes postgraduate-level education is available from all three kinds of institution.

Despite this, funding and regulation of VET and higher education are undertaken by state and federal governments respectively. The regulation of private, international and postgraduate coursework education has been developed ad hoc rather than planned.

The result is a series of policy and legislative artefacts formed on the hop, rather than a coherent and systematised sector serving clear societal needs.


Having a degree is no longer a quality status signal in itself. What counts now is what institution? What course? What extra-curricular activities?

The more ubiquitous holding a degree becomes, the more we will see status signals and classing structures strengthening their place within the higher education system, with a more nuanced differentiation of the credential as capital.

This raises important questions about social equity.

Today, young people are pressured to go to university even if they may not be particularly interested in scholarly pursuits.

Many end up in institutions or courses that are unsuited to them, despite their ability, for selection measures remain tightly correlated with social class.

Large employers (banks and the like) no longer focus their recruitment on school leavers and train them up. Now they recruit university graduates and complain that they do not have the required skills. Similarly, students forgo earning while they are learning, and the costs of gaining a qualification are high.

Pressing inequalities in early education and schooling that lead to inevitable inequalities at the tertiary level; credential creep that is pushing all the way to the PhD; increasing stratification in the status of institutions, disciplines and modes of study — these are the contemporary frontiers for equity in Australian tertiary education.

We need a new conceptualisation of the purpose of tertiary and higher education, of training, of skills. And it needs to be supported by policy and funding mechanisms that recognise new realities rather than perpetuating old stereotypes.


Fatuous 50 has no idea of real world: think tank

A high-profile group of unionists, academics and former public servants who oppose a corporate tax cut in the budget has been dubbed "the fatuous 50" by a conservative think tank.

Institute of Public Affairs chief John Roskam said many in the group had "spent so long on the public teat and no doubt have ­defined benefits superannuation schemes and won’t be affected by changes to superannuation".

"Their real world experience, for so many of these people is limited to the university common room. They have little idea about what it takes to run a business, ­employ people and create wealth," he said.

Mr Roskam’s jibe sparked an immediate backhander from the progressive Australia Institute think tank, which declared the group spoke for most Australians who wanted a clampdown on tax concessions for "the big end of town”.

In an open letter published in Fairfax newspapers, the group urged Malcolm Turnbull "not to cut tax at this time — and certainly not for companies".

The letter comes as the government debates income and company tax levels as a proportion of GDP, which next year is set to rise above its long-term average of the past 30 years, and bracket creep puts more workers into higher tax brackets.

The group said data from the OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank made clear "Australia is a low taxing country. To have world-class health, education and transport services we need to collect the revenue to fund them". It said real tax also required "fairness".

The group included former ­Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser and Keating government health minister Carmen Lawrence, academic and author Robert Manne, ACTU president Ged Kearney, and GetUp! founder Simon Sheikh who runs superannuation fund Future Super.

Mr Fraser dismissed the growth arguments for cutting the corporate tax rate.

"The argument that comes from supporting such a move is based upon very discredited trickle-down ideology," he said. Another signatory was Josh Bornstein, whose law firm Maurice Blackburn has recently been criticised over slow payments to Victorian bushfire class action clients, and who previously headed the progressive Per Capita think tank.

As a Maurice Blackburn principal, Mr Bornstein last year shared in a $16 million dividend as a result of the action, while Black Saturday victims are yet to receive a cent.

Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist, who organised the letter, said: "Given all the scandals about corporate tax evasion and a constant hectoring about living within our means, the 50 community leaders and economists look like they are on the money."

The Centre for Independent Studies said the letter was "inconsistent and misguided". Centre economist Michael ­Potter said OECD statistics had company tax in Australia raising 4.9 per cent of GDP in 2013 (the latest year available). The unweighted OECD ­average was 2.9 per cent.


15 April, 2016

Actor and Aboriginal elder Uncle Jack Charles refused taxi in Melbourne, again

I wouldn't pick him up either.  And I speak as a former taxi driver.  He looks like a hobo. His race has got nothing to do with it.  He needs to smarten up if he wants to be treated with respect.  Most people present themselves fairly well before they hop into a taxi.  It's just ignorant to do otherwise

Aboriginal elder and renowned actor Jack Charles has again been refused a cab in Melbourne because of what he calls systemic racial discrimination against Indigenous Australians by taxi drivers.

The 72-year-old was with two artists visiting from Turkey when they tried to catch a taxi from outside Flinders Street Station about 3pm on Wednesday.

"Uncle Jack" said a taxi pulled up and the party started to get inside when the driver told them he would not accept the fare.  "My mate Ibrahim jumped in the front and started to explain where we were going and I started to jump in the back," Charles said.

"The driver said that he'd knocked off once he saw me. So I believe it was me, [that's] why he refused to pick us up.  "Drivers that have knocked off don't actually pull in to pick up a fare."

Artist Ibrahim Koç, who is working on an art project about similarities between Aboriginal Australians and Turkey's Yörük people, was with Charles at the time and said it was an "ugly" event.

"The taxi driver saw Jack and he doesn't want to take us. Why? I don't understand."

Charles has forged a prolific acting career over more than 50 years, co-founded Australia's first Indigenous theatre group and starring in films including The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Blackfellas and Pan. He has also performed in many stage plays across the country and toured internationally.

But despite his stellar career, being refused a taxi has become a regular occurrence for the veteran actor.

Charles was told he couldn't catch a taxi unless he paid the fare upfront moments after being named Victorian Senior Australian of the Year in Melbourne in October last year.  On that occasion, another taxi driver told him drivers were allowed to request pre-payment from Aboriginals.

Just two days later, a taxi allocated to collect him at Melbourne Airport sped off without him.

Charles said on Wednesday that regularity did nothing to lessen the pain caused by such acts of discrimination.  "I won't sleep tonight, I'll be writhing in pure agony of the mind… this really impacts on me, totally," he said.

Charles said many taxi drivers came from overseas and industry education was needed to stamp out discrimination.  "These incidents are repeated over and over again," he said.  "It's illegal, it's racist, it's racial profiling and it shouldn't be done, so we need to educated this mob."

Charles said he approached the taxi industry after last year's incidents to arrange a round-table discussion about discrimination against Aboriginal passengers, but it had not eventuated.

He intends to sue the driver who refused to pick him up on Wednesday and his driving company for racial discrimination.

The Taxi Services Commission said it would investigate the incident "pending further information being provided about the taxi involved".

"Racial discrimination is totally unacceptable," a commission spokesman said.


Anti-homosexual Marriage Advertisement Banned

In February, the Australian anti-marriage equality group Marriage Alliance released an advertisement depicting a young woman in an office with a rainbow noose around her neck. Along with the image, the message "same sex marriage increases PC bullying in the workplace.”

Shortly after being posted, many people responded with disdain towards the ad.

BeyondBlue, a mental health advocacy group, tweeted to the organization, "You may not have thought about it, but you may want to consider the harm that depicting someone in a noose may cause. We’re advocating strongly in this space to reduce stigma and harmful messages around suicide like this.”

Facebook moderators removed the ad after receiving multiple complaints, citing that the image violated community guidelines by "containing self-injury” "graphic violence” and "hate speech”.

Two months after the original ad was posted, the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) ruled on Monday that the group’s advertisement breached standards set in place.

The Marriage Alliance argued that the ad "fell within the grounds of what is acceptable for political advertising and should fall outside of the jurisdiction of the ASB.”

They went onto state "You will be aware that our organization is preparing for, and engaging in the preliminary stages of a political campaign concerning, inter alia, the proposed alterations to the definition of "marriage” and "family” throughout the Commonwealth. This is a highly contentious political debate that has attracted a great deal of press and commentary.

Accordingly, it is our view that our communications fall under the exclusion of "political advertising” as per the information on your website. We therefore question the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Bureau in this matter but have decided to provide this response as a sign of good faith, on a without prejudice and no admissions basis, and with all rights reserved.”

The ASB noted that the image used was extreme and stated the "depiction of violence which is not justifiable in the content of the product or service advertised.” They also noted that it is standard practice "in both the print and television industries” to accompany suicide related material with information that will assist people who may find the information concerning.


Telstra slammed for backing away from its support of same-sex marriage

What's a telephone company doing in politics anyway?

TELSTRA has caved to pressure from the Catholic Church, pulling a public campaign in favour of same-sex marriage — and its customers are not happy.

The telecommunications giant, and one of Australia’s largest companies, copped heat on social media after it said it would no longer actively back marriage equality.

Queensland mum and the national spokeswoman for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) slammed Telstra and said the company should be "ashamed” of itself after caving into "bullying” from the Catholic Church.

Shelley Argent told she had even considered disconnecting from the telco but in her neighbourhood there were no other options.

The former nominee for Senior Australian of the Year said she was furious at Telstra’s apparent decision to step away for its support of same-sex marriage, despite it officially being a backer of the campaign.

But Telstra said it hadn’t changed it’s position, it just had no plans to express it’s view.

Last year, Telstra joined hundreds of other companies in publicly declaring its support for same-sex marriage with its logo appearing online and in press adverts from Australian Marriage Equality (AME), the primary campaign group backing the change.

Telstra’s main rivals, Optus and Vodafone, are also listed as backing the marriage equality campaign.

The Government says it will hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage if it wins the next election, a move criticised by marriage equality campaigners who say Parliament should make the decision and a public vote will stir up hatred towards gay people.

However, a letter from the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, suggesting religious organisations could scrap contracts with companies supporting marriage equality, appears to have toppled Telstra’s support.

The archdiocese’s business manager, Michael Digges, wrote to companies whose logos were associated with AME saying it had "grave concerns” about them backing the campaign, reported The Australian.

"You may be aware that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international,” Mr Digges wrote.

"Undoubtedly, many of the Catholic population of Sydney would be your employees, customers, partners and suppliers. It is therefore with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign.”

It’s understood Telstra has contracts with Catholic schools across the country.

A spokesman for Telstra said the company had a "long tradition” of supporting diversity and inclusion.  "Our position on the issue has not changed,” said a statement. "What has changed is that the Government has indicated it will call a plebiscite on the issue.

"Our people and stakeholders can contribute to this process and out of respect, it is important we allow them to voice their own views.  "Given this we have no further plans to be active in the debate.”

It hasn’t satisfied Telstra customers who have given the company a roasting on social media. One customer was particularly unimpressed when a staff member suggested his anger was due to his "ideology”.


Sydney needs more schools

With the constant high inflow of migrants this was inevitable

Over the next ten years demand for schools across Sydney is almost going to double.

Public schools in areas already battling with surging enrolments will be pushed to breaking point over the next decade as the number of school-aged children swells by two to three times the state average, new data shows.

Some desperate parents are looking to move their children to the country with little relief in sight for stretched schools in the Waverley, Canada Bay, Sydney and Ryde local government areas.

Enrolments have skyrocketed by between three to five times the NSW average over the past four years across these Local Government Areas, according to a Fairfax Media analysis of Department of Education figures.

And it is set to worsen. Over the next 10 years, the population aged 5-19 will balloon in these areas by more than 25 per cent. In areas of Sydney's south west, such as Camden, this figure will soar past 55 per cent, according to Department of Planning projections.

The City of Sydney will be among the areas hardest hit, with a projected 41 per cent surge in the number of school-aged residents. Schools in the area are already under pressure, with enrolments growing by more than 13 per cent since 2012 – nearly 3.5 times the state average.

Despite the numbers, the Department of Education has no plans to build new primary schools in key areas such as Green Square, which will become Australia's most densely populated suburb by 2030 following the influx of 61,000 residents.

While Camden will get two new schools, the extra 3000 places will only just meet demand at current growth rates.

A lack of extra schools in some areas could put further pressure on institutions in the surrounding suburbs, some of which have already been forced to relocate future students.

In a letter to families last week, Newtown Primary School principal Abbey Proud advised the school had been forced to change enrolment boundaries to cope with surging demand as the school runs out of space to build more demountable classrooms.

The squeeze has been replicated across Sydney at schools such as Homebush West, where children have been banned from running due to overcrowded playgrounds, and in Willoughby, where growth has continued unabated for more than a decade.

The strain on enrolments is driving parents to look to schools beyond Sydney.

"We are going to go further out into the country because it is very difficult to find places in the city," said Janine Barrett, whose son Frederick will start high school next year.

"The government are burying their heads in the sand," she said. "They think they are providing adequate facilities but they are not even trying to future-proof the situation, they are just looking to stick a band-aid over it."

Erskineville parent David Hetherington said he was concerned about his son's future in local high schools in Balmain and Leichhardt, which grew by between 29 and 22 per cent respectively over the past three years.

While the NSW government has just announced the relocation of the nearby Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, a department spokesman said the government had no plans to turn any part of the vacated space into a school.

Such a plan, suggested by NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, could counter swelling demand in the area due to the nearby redevelopment of the Bays precinct, where 16,000 homes are expected to be built.

"I don't think our schools can handle it. Demand has changed out of sight, there is an enormous influx of apartment building going on," he said.

Instead, the government pointed to its redevelopment of the existing Ultimo public school to accommodate 700 students – 300 fewer than originally proposed.

Across town, enrolments at Bourke Street Primary in Surry Hills have boomed by 160 per cent.

A department spokesman said construction has begun on a new two-storey building with two new classrooms, a new library and a hall. The multimillion-dollar investment will only increase capacity at the inner-city school by 80 students, from its current 360.

Further east, two Bondi public schools have grown by more than 50 per cent since 2012, while Waverley Council's enrolments have increased by more than 22 per cent – the largest of any Sydney LGA. The area's six schools now serve 3500 students, compared with fewer than 2900 in 2012.

In October, the department submitted an application to Woollahra Council to start work on a $12 million makeover of Bellevue Hill Primary school to take in up to 1000 students from Woollahra and Bondi public schools.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government had invested almost $4 billion in capital works, including expanding capacity and new schools.

"The NSW government is making a massive investment in public education, including $1 billion in funding from Rebuilding NSW for up to 1600 new or refurbished classrooms to service growing student populations," he said.

Labor leader Luke Foley accused the government of looking after the interests of property developers.

"While public schools are overflowing, children have no room to run around and playgrounds are full of demountable classrooms," he said.


Soldier Mark Dransfield jailed over one-punch Adelaide attack on Liam Sutcliffe

An Adelaide soldier has been sentenced to five months in jail over a one-punch attack, with the judge saying the crime is becoming more frequent. An Adelaide soldier has been sentenced to five months in jail over a one-punch attack, with the judge saying the crime is becoming more frequent.

In January last year, Mark Dransfield, 23, punched Liam Sutcliffe in the head outside a licensed venue in Currie Street in the Adelaide CBD late at night.

Dransfield pleaded guilty to recklessly causing harm.

District Court Judge Paul Cuthberton said the victim was seriously injured, suffering a fractured skull, cheek and eye socket, and then faced dizzy spells and impaired vision.

He said Mr Sutcliffe was now wary of big crowds and busy public places, and had trouble remembering names.  "The consequences of your actions have been devastating for your victim," the judge told Dransfield.  "He was not committing any crime, nor was he affecting you in any way ... you saw fit to hit him hard at a time when he was not expecting a blow to come."

Soldier will lose Army job

Judge Cuthbertson said Dransfield, a private in the Australian Army, would lose his job and he accepted the man was truly contrite.  "The offence was a spur of the moment one and certainly committed without mature reflection on the possible consequences to your victim or to yourself," he said.

Dransfield's guilty plea, remorse and agreement to make compensation payments for his victim led the judge to reduce the sentence, but he said others had to be deterred from such crimes.

"There is an expectation in the community that members of the community should be able to feel safe in public places and not be required to watch out all the time, to guard against a sudden blow coming suddenly from somewhere," he said.

Outside court, the victim's father Howard Sutcliffe welcomed the jail sentence for the single-punch attack.  "It's happening far too much and the general public wants to feel safe," he said. "I think if we start giving people like that jail sentences, I think the message might get through.

"I went to the hospital thinking I was just going to pick him up, that he'd just gone there to get a few stitches, so I couldn't believe it when I saw him on a table, bleeding from the ear, incoherent."  He added that his son's recovery had been slow.


14 April, 2016

New perils in moving house

Why Turnbull wants to abolish The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

Hello Mr or Mrs Australian citizen. Are you planning to move house? Be very careful, very careful indeed. According to official advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman, when you go to hire your removalist, through no fault of your own, you could be investigated, prosecuted and fined by the Australian government.

In compliance with the terms of an "enforceable order”, issued by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which came into effect on April 4, a "hirer” is defined as "the party to a road transport contract, other than the contractor driver”. The FWO has confirmed the order "could cover an individual hiring a contractor driver to transport personal household furniture”.

Journeys covered by the order are journeys longer than 500km or more than 200km and across state borders.

A driver covered by the order is a self-employed "contractor driver”, who, if they were not self-employed, would be an employee covered by the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010. Job classifications listed in this award include furniture removers, assistant loader, courier and driver.

Therefore, if you want to move from, for example, Sydney to Melbourne, or Yamba to Brisbane, providing you hire a removalist who is a contractor driver, and depending on the size of the vehicle your furniture goes in, you must pay a price according to the bewildering schedule of "safe rates” listed in Schedule B of the RSRT order.

Failure to pay the correct rates is a breach of the law, and hirers are liable for their part in breaches.

So how are you supposed to know, when you arrange the move, whether your removalist is a contractor driver covered by the order, or an employee driver not covered by the order? How are you supposed to know the size of truck and get the price right? How are you supposed to avoid breaking the law?

There is no way you can know, of course. It is not humanly possible to know. You could very easily break the law without knowing. All you can do is ask the removalist, rely on their word, and hope they are both truthful and in full understanding of whether they are covered by the order.

If someone thinks breaches of the order are occurring, they can anonymously dob your removalist in for investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Businesses dob their competitors in like this all the time, especially when they think their competitor is taking market share and must be undercutting their prices.

If this happens, you will be caught up in a nightmare. Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors can enter premises without warrant or permission. They could turn up at your work, ask to interview you, inspect documents (such as your removalist invoice) and take copies.

The inspectors have the legal power to require you to give your name and home address and provide evidence, for example by tendering of your driver’s licence.

Failure to comply with this can result in your prosecution and fines of up to $5400.

Inspectors could then send to your home a "notice to produce records or documents” and if you don’t comply with the notice, you could be prosecuted and fined up to $10,800.

If you are prosecuted and found to have breached the RSRT order, by not paying the required rates that hirers of contractor drivers are required to pay, the maximum penalty, again, for you, is $10,800.

Your ignorance of the rules will be no excuse, especially now that you have read about this staggering situation in this newspaper.

Welcome to hell, Australia. This is what happens when you elect Labor governments.

They give the unions too much, and everyone suffers the consequences.


Turnbull government decides against banning tourists from climbing Uluru

Why should primitive superstitions be given government support?

"Either we can't spell, or they can't read," traditional owner Vince Forrester says of the thousands of tourists who scale Uluru each year, against the wishes of local Aboriginal people.

"There are all these [signs in] different languages asking 'please don't climb'. I feel disappointed that they really haven't got it yet."

The Turnbull government last week announced the privately run Big Uluru Trek would begin in August - a 100-kilometre five-day desert hike from Amata to Uluru that would provide a new tourist drawcard and boost investment. It raised the prospect that the controversial rock climb might finally be banned.

The climb traces the route taken by the ancestral Mala men on their arrival at Uluru, and traditional owners consider that tourists who take the walk are disrespecting this spiritual significance.

A 2010 plan to manage the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park stated authorities would "work towards closure of the climb" for safety, cultural and environmental reasons.

However, a spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday said there were "no plans to change current arrangements".

In 2009 when in opposition, Hunt reportedly said closing the rock to walkers "was on Labor's agenda", adding it would "end one of the great tourism experiences in Australia".  "Big Brother is coming to Uluru to slam the gate closed on an Australian tourism icon, the climb," he said.  His spokesman this week would not say if Hunt still held that view.

The plan of management states the climb should permanently close when any of three conditions are met: fewer than 20 per cent of Uluru visitors make the ascent, enough new "visitor experiences" are established to replace it, or the climb is not the principle reason people choose to come to Uluru.

Climb numbers have fallen steadily over the past few decades. Between 2011 and 2015 the proportion of Uluru visitors scaling the rock "fluctuated" around 20 per cent, according to federal agency Parks Australia - equating to about 55,000 people last year. It did not provide year-on-year figures.

Parks Australia's own research has shown that 98 per cent of visitors would still visit Uluru if the climb closed. It said on Tuesday that more visitor activities would be announced.

Some 36 people have died climbing Uluru – the latest in 2010 – and more have been injured, causing grief to local Indigenous people who believe they have a duty of care to those visiting their country.

Forrester said traditional owners were "very disappointed" the government would continue to allow tourists to keep clambering over Uluru, which he described as "the soul of the country".

"Uluru is sacred. People are becoming more aware - now we have to get the politicians and the bureaucrats to understand," he said, adding "when there's an accident, it turns my guts."

Big Run Events managing director Greg Donovan, who proposed the Big Uluru Trek, backed the push for the climb to eventually cease. "It's seen to be very intrusive to spirits and stories and special places for people to climb on the rock," he said. "By taking that away, I don't think it would impact very greatly on tourism at all."


You can't win

There is no parenting topic that gets people more worked up than breastfeeding.

This afternoon hundreds of commenters got worked up over the Today Show’s choice to post a photo taken from a Willoughby Cafe on their Facebook Page. The sign reads:

"BREASTFEEDING MUMS — Pop in have a FREE cup of tea if you need a pitt stop … No need to eat. No need to ask. Please Relax J Willows.”

Cue internet mayhem. Comments included everything from simple statements about loving the sign to people calling discrimination against bottle feeders to others calling discrimination against men. And, of course, one lovely gentleman calling breastfeeding women "slappers that just love attention” and the café owner "a person who likes his customers to get their tits out for him.”

As a woman who breastfed my two children, I personally, love the sign. Breastfeeding is hard bloody work. I have never eaten as much or drunk as much (non-alcoholic seeing as though I was feeding after all) than when I was breastfeeding.

The offer of a free cuppa, a comfy chair and zero judgment while feeding is pretty much the dream of every breastfeeding woman. Well, it definitely was the dream of this one.

And I assure the gentleman who commented on the post that no woman breastfeeds for attention nor do they like to "get their tits out”. If anything, much of the feeding process, particularly in public, involves a tonne of strategic positing in order to AVOID getting your tits out on full display.

I have no doubt that both bottle feeding parents, and men in general, are more than welcome in the café as well. The fact that the owner went to the trouble to write the sign pretty much promotes the fact the café is family friendly.

Is this another case of someone trying to do something nice and getting ridiculed in the process?


"Vomit-like" new $5 note

THE Reserve Bank has unveiled the design of Australia’s new $5 banknote, and the reaction has been mixed.

From "it looks like vomit” to "what even is that”, cash carriers of Australia are weighing in with their comments on the colourful new design.

The new note, which will be issued into circulation from September, will keep the same basic colour, size, and people portrayed as the old fiver, but the design is a bit different.
And from the back: Our new fiver. Picture: Reserve Bank Australia

When the series is complete, each New Australian banknote will depict a different species of Australian wattle and a native bird, RBA Governor Glenn Stevens announced today.

"On the $5 banknote, these are the prickly Moses wattle and Eastern Spinebill,” he said in a statement.

Those are the yellow caterpillar looking things and the little bird, drawn in the middle of the note next to the slightly aged and more surly-looking queen.

The design took in research involving focus groups, and a "culmination of a process of extensive consultation with subject-matter experts and the cash-handling industry”, the RBA said.

But despite the research, not everyone is happy with the design. One user has gone so far as to threaten never to use the denomination again.

The new notes will also feature a new "tactile” feature to help the vision-impaired community distinguish between denominations.

And yes, people have managed to make fun of that as well.

The $5 banknote was first issued in Australia in 1967, the year after the currency was changed from the pound to the dollar.

The original design, printed on a paper note, featured botanist Sir Joseph Banks and humanitarian Caroline Chisholm.

The polymer note was first introduced in 1992, followed in 1995 by another design printed in a deeper shade of mauve to help confused users distinguish it from the similarly coloured $10 banknote.

The current design features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which was commissioned by the RBA in 1984. On the reverse side are pictures of old and new Parliament Houses.

A limited edition commemorative fiver was also introduced in 2001 for that year only, features Sir Henry Parkes on one side and Catherine Helen Spence on the other.

Issuance of the new $5 banknote will commence on September 1, although it will take some time for the new banknotes to be widely circulated, the RBA has warned.

The current series of banknotes can continue to be used even after the new banknotes are issued.



13 April, 2016

Australian education blighted by bureaucracy and political interference

The criticisms below by an experienced Australian teacher are fair enough but I have grown tired of comparisons with Finland.  As experienced IQ researcher Edward Dutton sets out in detail, Finns have a considerable IQ advantage -- with an average of 105 on some calculations.  (Dutton works in a large Finnish university so he is close to the data).  And IQ is the best predictor of educational success.  We will never do as well as they do.  But there is still, of course, plenty of room for improvement

Phew. School holidays. A chance to recover from a typically frenetic first term and take stock.  It's been busy, in and out of the classroom.

Inside the classroom, it's been business as usual. Preparing lessons, marking, dealing with parental expectations and trying to blend the diverse backgrounds of our students into harmonious classes.

We've just finished writing reports, making sure that we have reached "outcomes" that are incomprehensible to parents and students but fulfil a bureaucratic need for accountability.

Instead of giving our students marks or, God forbid, rankings, we have disguised their results in generalities so their parents are saved from facing the truth about their children's real progress.  We aren't allowed to tell it how it is.

Even though we've been drowning in a sea of paperwork we've done our best to come up for air and actually teach our students.  We've tried to give them one-on-one tutelage but the size of our classes has made this impossible.

Then there are the NAPLAN tests that we aren't meant to prepare our students for but do because "bad" results will reflect badly on our schools and give those who want to bag us a free kick.

On top of this we've been filling in the host of forms that make taking students on excursions, to sporting events and into the woods prohibitive.

Into the woods? That's where William Doyle's son was sent when he spent some time in a Finnish school. Doyle wrote that his son was given a compass and told to find his way back to school. In Australia his teachers would be hauled over the coals for abrogating their duty of care let alone failing to comply with risk-management strategies.

Why is this relevant? Because there has been a lot going on outside the classroom too. With an election looming and school funding well and truly on the agenda, we are having yet another debate about how to lift our educational standards.

Politicians and commentators who haven't been inside a classroom since they left school (apart from photo ops) have been pontificating about what is wrong with our schools.

The clarion call is, of course, "we need better teachers".

Better teachers? Better at what? Filling in forms? Disciplining oversized classrooms? Raising standards with inadequate resources? Does this imply that teachers like me aren't any good?

Hot on the heels of this comes the lament that we are falling behind the rest of the world: "why can't we be as good as the Finns?"

I'll tell you why. The Finns don't spend their time arguing about who should fund their schools. They don't waste any ink on public versus private arguments. They don't bag their teachers.

As Doyle discovered they regard their teachers as "the most respected and trusted professionals next to doctors". That's not the case here.

I have yet to find out what is wrong with the training, just that it needs to be "better".

Finnish teachers complete masters degrees. Our unis and colleges are lucky to receive adequate funding to enable them to complete any sort of training. They are forced to lower entrance scores to attract students who will pay the HECS fees that fund the courses. It's Pythonesque.

We want "better" training but we don't want to pay for it.

Not only are Finnish teachers respected and trusted, they are recognised as being the experts when it comes to education because they actually work at the coalface, not in an office.

I haven't even mentioned comparable pay rates because a country that can't find the will and resources to implement a report that every educator in the land backs is never going to pay teachers what they deserve – let alone the kind of salary that will attract the "best and brightest".

We are still arguing over class sizes when the Finns make opportunities for one-on-one teaching by having manageable class sizes.

The Finns have virtually discarded standardised testing. We have become more and more reliant on NAPLAN results for meaningless and costly data that enables us to identify the "best" schools.

We actually have great curriculums, as impressive as anyone's – we just don't have the resources to implement them.

We burden our teachers with piles of pointless assessment procedures that mask our students true results but satisfy bureaucrats' need for "accountability".

As for sending our students into the woods with compasses, we won't let them get a bus to a cricket game without a 10-page risk assessment.

Spare me the comparisons. We know exactly how to lift our educational standards. It was outlined in the widely revered Gonksi report. Until we are capable of putting our children's needs in front of anything else we will continue slipping down the educational league table.

It's got nothing to do with "better teachers". It's got everything to do with "protecting our children from politicians".


NT fracking ban looming

The Northern Territory government says the new regulations it's developing for mining will be more transparent and put the onus on companies to prove they're doing all they can to minimise any risks from fracking.

But environmental groups say companies can't be trusted to do that unless there's something in it for them.

The Senate Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining is sitting in Darwin on Tuesday, following previous hearings in Queensland and NSW.

Shale gas fracking is a big issue for the NT as it heads to an election in August, with Labor promising a moratorium if it wins, which has caused uncertainty in the local industry and raised concerns that it will cost more jobs.

There has been a groundswell of anti-fracking sentiment across the NT even as the current Country Liberals government talks up the economic benefits.

It says the science is in, and that there have been no reported instances of fracking in the NT causing any water contamination.

A report it commissioned in 2014 found there was no need for a moratorium if there was proper regulation in place, and the government is developing a new regulatory framework which it says will require companies to go above and beyond to minimise any potential risks, rather than meeting a prescribed minimum standard which may not adequately forsee all potential risks on every project.

"Built into this is significantly more transparency and stakeholder engagement through that approvals process than has ever been present before, so that everyone does have, we believe, a greater level of transparency and therefore hopefully confidence in the processes we're implementing," said Ron Kelly, CEO of the NT Department of Mines and Energy.

But all scientific reports on the practice say the industry is only safe if a robust regulatory regime is in place "and we're not there yet", said David Morris, principal lawyer with the Environmental Defenders Office NT.

Until that is developed, he supports a moratorium, he said.

"The other thing I have significant concerns about is the capacity of the regulator in an environment where we have a huge amount of onus placed on the operator to do the right thing," Mr Morris said.

"I'm not sure that history tells us we should have a great deal of confidence in oil and gas operators doing the right thing, unless they're required to or they see an incentive in doing so."


Labor ignored property negative gearing warnings

Labor proceeded with its controversial policy of limiting negative gearing to new homes despite opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen being warned last July that such a move would push down house prices and hit economic growth.

UPDATE: Liberal minister Josh Frydenberg has ridiculed opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen’s "dog ate my homework” excuse for not disclosing his knowledge of economic modelling that predicted curbs on negative gearing would push down house prices and hit economic growth.

The Australian has confirmed that accounting and financial advice firm Bongiorno & Partners last year commissioned BIS Shrapnel to conduct an analysis of the effect of limiting negative gearing to new houses and communicated key findings to Mr Bowen’s staff and then Labor ­financial services spokesman Bernie Ripoll.

BIS Shrapnel’s report — which found limiting negative gearing to new houses could lead to lower house prices, rent rises of up to 10 per cent, cost the budget more than it saved and cause unemployment to rise — sparked a political furore when it was publicly released last month.

The identity of the firm that commissioned the report was not released at the time, prompting Mr Bowen to claim it was by "an anonymous vested interest”.

In attacking the document, Labor did not reveal it had received the advice last year from Bongiorno & Partners while it was developing its negative gearing policy.

"Whoever’s commissioned it, they know who they are, but then they’ve put it out on the newspaper anonymously, you’ve got to have the courage of your convictions when you’re in these policy debates," Mr Bowen told ABC Radio National on March 3. He claimed that "whoever paid for it” should get their money back.

The Australian has been told the report was intended to be an economic document rather than a political document to inform policy development on the negative gearing issue.

Bongiorno & Partners is the same firm that commissioned research in 1983 as then Labor treasurer Paul Keating considered disallowing negative gearing. The report was ignored and negative gearing was abolished in 1985. In 1987 the then Labor government reinstated negative gearing.

Staff working for Mr Bowen were briefed last July on the key findings, while Mr Ripoll was sent the report after a meeting with Tony Bongiorno, a partner from the accounting firm, at the ALP national conference last July.

After the report was publicly released last month, Labor seized on its finding that neither rents nor dwelling prices displayed any notable change of behaviour or deviation from trend during 1985-87 during Mr Keating’s abolition of negative gearing. But Mr Bowen dismissed its warnings that it could push down housing prices and increase rents.

"It is a poor excuse for analysis," Mr Bowen said on March 3. "It was commissioned by an anonymous vested interest who won’t even put their name to it. I mean that’s how much faith they have in it. And whoever paid for it she (sic) would get their money back because it is an atrocious piece of political propaganda, it is not analysis. It does not bear any scrutiny."

When The Australian asked Mr Bowen last month if his office had been briefed on the report, he said: "Lots of vested interests try to lobby the government and opposition about policy. Unlike the government, Labor puts the national interest ahead of commercial self-interest. Scott Morrison may fall for a fatally flawed and compromised report, I do not.

"From the start, media reporting of this BIS ‘analysis’ should have included a discussion of who commissioned it. Failure to do so is irresponsible.”

Asked again yesterday whether his office was briefed on the report, in light of the fact it had been commissioned by Bongiorno & Partners, Mr Bowen said: "From the start, media reporting of this BIS ‘analysis’ should have included a discussion of who commissioned it. It is totally unsurprising to see big negative gearing consultants or property interests commission ‘analysis’ to attack Labor’s sound policy proposals. It doesn’t matter whether it was Bongiorno’s accountancy firm or a property company who commissioned this dodgy research, the reason the Building Industry Services Shrapnel blew up in Scott Morrison’s face was because it didn’t stand up to 30 seconds of scrutiny.

"What happened to Scott Morrison’s public desire when it came to dealing with the ‘excesses’ of negative gearing? Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison can stand with powerful vested interests when it comes to negative gearing reform, Labor will happily stand with young Australians looking for their first home. Unlike the government, Labor puts the national interest ahead of commercial self-interest.”

Labor plans to limit negative gearing to new dwellings from July 1, next year with existing investments grandfathered. After that date existing houses and share income could be offset against investment income but not against wages and salary income.

It also proposed halving the capital gains tax discount on assets held for more than 12 months from 50 per cent to 25 per cent.

The BIS Shrapnel report assumed the change was restricted to limiting negative gearing to new houses and assumed a start date of July 1, this year. It did not factor in the capital gains tax change.

The BIS Shrapnel report predicted higher rents would push 70,000 households into "rental stress", where they are paying out more than 30 per cent of their incomes on housing costs.

Median rents of $510 a week would need to rise by $73 a week in Sydney to provide an investor who had lost the benefits of negative gearing with an equivalent return.

Melbourne’s median rent of $370 would have to rise $56, Brisbane’s ($375) by $32, Adelaide’s ($280) by $29, Perth’s ($415) by $30, Canberra’s ($375) by $28, Hobart’s ($280) by $10 and Darwin’s ($465) by $20.

BIS Shrapnel found limiting negative gearing would result in "a short-run correction in real prices due to lower investor demand”.

"However, it will result in higher rents than would be expected with negative gearing," the report said. "Landlords will require higher yields to compensate for the lost negative gearing concessions.”

The report said it was unlikely prices would fall enough to restore rental yields to compensate for lost negative gearing concessions. But a fall in prices would reduce the feasibility of development, causing construction to fall and rental supply to dry up.


Dingo tried to snatch toddler after biting infant on remote WA beach

A dingo has bitten a toddler through her nappy and tried to snatch her from a remote beach in Western Australia's Kimberley region.

The girl's alarmed parents chased the dingo away after the Friday night attack which broke the child's skin but did not draw blood.

The family were having a picnic on the beach while holidaying at Cape Leveque when the dingo attacked, first grabbing the child's teddy bear before biting her.

The child's mother, Christine Dwyer, told ABC radio the dingo tried to drag her daughter backwards but "only got six inches".

"She tried to crawl away and was crying, and it just ran back in and grabbed her on the back and buttocks," Ms Dwyer said.

Resort staff had been very helpful, shooing away the dog and taking them to nurses to clean up scratches and puncture wounds, she said.

The attack comes nearly 36 years after Azaria Chamberlain was killed by a dingo in Uluru in a case that attracted the attention of the nation, after her mother Lindy was convicted of murder and jailed but released after three years when that decision was overturned.


Australia lifts iron ore outlook, forecasting rising prices until 2021

The head of Australia's mining giant BHP Billiton says there's more volatility ahead for Chinese-driven commodities, and it's time to look beyond iron ore.

Australia, the world's top iron ore shipper, is bullish about prices for the next five years even as China produces less steel.

Iron ore will average $US45 ($A60) a metric ton in 2016, the Department of Industry said in a quarterly outlook on Friday, raising its outlook from $US41.30 projected in December. As high-cost miners close, Australian producers will boost shipments, and prices will rise to $US56 next year, $US61.40 in 2018 and keep on rising to $US64.70 in 2021, the department estimated.

The commodity has staged a surprise rebound in 2016 as China's policy makers signalled they are prepared to support growth in the largest user. While the advance has not swayed many sceptics, with banks including Goldman Sachs reiterating bearish forecasts, Australia projects that its giant low-cost producers, together with Brazil's Vale, will claim a greater share of global trade and prices will climb.
In for the long haul: Australia remains bullish on iron ore even as Chinese demand wanes.

In for the long haul: Australia remains bullish on iron ore even as Chinese demand wanes. Photo: West Australian Government

"The increased exports is a result of continued closures in the Chinese domestic industry," said Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at ANZ Banking Group in Sydney. "This is a fair assessment of the market over the medium to longer term," he said, citing the price outlook.

The forecasts by the department refer to spot ore with 62 per cent content free-on-board Australia. The raw material delivered to Qingdao port in China rose 0.2 per cent to $US54.70 a dry ton on Thursday, according to Metal Bulletin. Iron ore soared 23 per cent in the first three months, capping a quarter that witnessed a record one-day jump of 19 per cent on March 7.

As China slows and policy makers shift the economy toward consumption and away from investment, steel production and demand are both shrinking in the country that accounts for about half global supply. Steel output in China will drop to 781 million tons this year from 806 million in 2015, the report forecast. By 2021, China's output would be down to 706 million tons, it said.

Iron ore cargoes from Australia will probably increase to 846 million tons this year and 881 million tons in 2017 as billionaire Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill venture ramps up operations, according to the department. Over the medium term, exports may be supported by an expansion of production from the country's largest producer, Rio Tinto, the department said. By 2021, shipments may be 926 million tons, it said.

The Roy Hill project in Western Australia's ore-rich Pilbara is targeting output of 55 million tons a year. It began exporting in December and last month dispatched its first China-bound cargo.
New capacity

"New low-cost capacity is expected to be commissioned over the projection period, which is expected to further displace higher-cost producers," the department said. "Growth in supply from Australia in the short term is largely attributable to the anticipated increase in production from Roy Hill."

Australia and Brazil, the two biggest suppliers, will account for about 90 per cent of global trade by 2021, up from 77 per cent last year, it said. Even as demand for steel wanes, China's imports may exceed 1 billion tons this year and remain at about that level for the next five years, according to the report. The country will probably purchase 98 per cent of its iron ore needs from the seaborne market by 2021, up from 83 per cent in 2015.


12 April, 2016

Pressure on Turnbull over banks as three more Nats MPs speak out on royal commission

In a remarkable example of ingratitude and passing the buck, many farmers who borrow speculatively and then go broke, blame the banks for lending them money.  National Party politicians tend to support such anti-bank attitudes

Three more Nationals MPs, including a dumped former minister, have left the door open to supporting a royal commission into the banking and finance sector, ramping up pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to hold the inquiry and highlighting divisions in the Coalition over the issue.

And Australian Council of Trade Union chief Dave Oliver has also thrown his weight behind the move, writing to Mr Turnbull on Sunday to urge the inquiry – and to create a federal independent commission against corruption – because of the "many scandals and allegations of corrupt behaviour in recent times".

The Coalition and Labor are on a collision course for an election year fight over wrong-doing in unions and the finance sector after Mr Shorten announced on Friday that if elected, the ALP would hold a two-year, $53 million inquiry after a string of allegations of wrong doing at Westpac, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank and elsewhere in recent years.

On Sunday, cabinet ministers Peter Dutton and Josh Frydenberg as well as Mr Turnbull pushed back against the inquiry, with the prime minister describing it as a "thought bubble" and arguing banks and financial services were already heavily regulated.

"[ASIC] has all of the powers to inquire of a royal commission but it's got the powers to prosecute and to take action, which it is doing. It has many current actions on the books at the moment. It has banned people from in the industry, it has enacted fines, it is a very active regulator," he said.

"In addition to that you have the prudential regulation authority, APRA, and it also has powers equal to a royal commission and indeed greater."

The opposition leader, Mr Turnbull said, was trying to distract people from the fact that Labor opposes the restoration of the construction industry watch, the ABCC.

But Nationals MP George Christensen backed the probe, while MPs Luke Hartsuyker and Ken O'Dowd indicated they could be prepared to support it too, creating a political headache for the prime minister.

Mr Hartsuyker, a former minister for vocational education in the Abbott government, said of the inquiry: "I think it is definitely something that should be considered".  He is the most senior government MP yet to indicate a willingness to support the probe.

Mr O'Dowd said he was "open to the idea, but I need more evidence and I wouldn't like to see the reputation of the big four banks tarnished overseas".

Mr Christensen went further, declaring " there is disgruntlement out in the community with banking practices, which are less than fair, in some cases highly unethical and bordering on the illegal".

Coalition MPs Warren Entsch and John Williams – who has led the charge on the issue – have already called for a royal commission into the banks.

In June 2015, Labor voted with the government against a Greens push for the creation of a royal commission into "misconduct within the financial services sector".

But party strategists say the recent spate of scandals in the finance sector, many of which have been revealed by Fairfax Media, represent a tipping point and have caused the re-think.

One Labor MP confidently predicted the federal government was "on the wrong side of this one, how can they keep defending the banks?" and that the decision to hold the inquiry was an "80-20 proposition".

Along with his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Oliver included a list of 73 examples of allegations of wrong-doing at the major banks in recent years.

"The recent allegations of corrupt behaviour, unlawful payments, and unconscionable conduct have made it clear that there is a need for serious scrutiny of alleged corruption, wherever it may occur. There is a clear need to ensure that the people of Australia have faith in the banking sector," he said.

"Honest, hard working banking employees should have nothing to fear from this inquiry and should be encouraged to come forward with their evidence of perverse incentives, inappropriate practices and exploitative processes."


Turnbull might have to ditch the double dissolution

Over the Christmas break Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly war-gamed the political year to come, with "all options" apparently considered. This anecdote was relayed last month to indicate the amount of pre-planning that went into the PM's audacious strategy to outwit the Senate, involving the Governor-General recalling Parliament to establish the justification for going to a double dissolution election.

But to what extent did Turnbull's scenario planning really canvass all the options? Did the prime ministerial ego permit consideration of sub-optimal situations such as that in which Turnbull currently finds himself?

And if so, did he leave himself options beyond going to a double D? The most easily foreseen factor in Turnbull's scenario planning would have been the subsidence of the PM's popularity rating to that of mere mortals. Turnbull may have hoped his stellar run in the opinion polls would be sustained until closer to the election, but he would have been a fool not to expect it to fall at all.

However, could Turnbull have anticipated that, a bare six months after taking on the top job, Labor would be back in contention for the upcoming election? This is the trend being suggested by the swarm of opinion polls now being covered by Australia's political media. It may have also been relatively easy for Turnbull to predict he would remain ahead of Labor Leader Bill Shorten in the opinion polls as preferred PM.

But did the PM credit the Opposition with being able to keep its nerve in the face of his initially stratospheric popularity, hanging on to its less than inspiring leader in the name of party unity? According to one media report on the weekend, such a change was barely averted last month when a "contingency plan" to change Labor leaders was shelved in light of Turnbull's ongoing poor form.

Similarly, would Turnbull have anticipated that voters would tire quickly of his "float and drop" approach to policy consideration, where options are raised without warning for public "discussion" only to be summarily discarded once they become too challenging to defend? As a result, there may be a growing perception that the PM only waffles and dithers.

In contrast, Shorten has appeared to become increasingly sure-footed, aided by a more streamlined appearance (yes, looks are important in politics), improved elocution, sharpened lines and a modest collection of populist policies that have so far evaded any serious scrutiny from the media or Government.

In addition to the foreseen developments are the ones that were less likely to be anticipated, such as the release of the Panama Papers and the exposure of shady behaviour by Australian corporates.

Combined with the revelations of the Liberal Party's dodgy fundraising practices and the indulgent, self-destructive behaviour of Government MPs, these events have - rightly or wrongly - framed the Prime Minister as the protector of corporate crooks and the leader of a parliamentary wing made up of spoilt and entitled brats.

If the PM has truly considered all the options, doing a deal with the Senate crossbench on the ABCC and skipping the DD should definitely be on the table.

Given these circumstances, would it be a mistake for the PM to go to a DD election even if the Senate gives him the trigger? Analysis by the ABC's psephologist, Antony Green, has projected the new Senate voting rules paired with the halved Senate quota at a DD would clean out some of the micro party MPs who currently sit on the crossbench. Others with a higher public profile may survive. But if Labor continues to close in on the Coalition there is also a greater chance of a hung parliament occurring in the House of Representatives.

As a result, Turnbull may well end up swapping one crossbench for another, or even ending up with two. If Turnbull didn't war-game this scenario over Christmas, he certainly should be doing so now. It is not impossible to navigate legislation through the Parliament's two chambers when the Government has only a minority in each - as the Gillard Government showed - but the dual minority status does make it difficult for the Government to argue that it has any mandate for reforms that it took to the previous election.

Consequently, there is yet another scenario the PM should be war-gaming right now. Turnbull has said he'd rather the Senate passed the Government's legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, thereby avoiding the need for a DD election. Several of the crossbench Senators have demanded the ABCC bills be amended to transform the proposed regulator into a federal ICAC, which is an entirely different beast.

But by committing to a Senate inquiry into the establishment of a federal ICAC (which, incidentally, Labor does not support) Turnbull could possibly win the six crossbench votes needed to pass the ABCC bills.

This would also give the PM a plausible justification for passing up the chance to go to a DD, and secure up to five months more time for the Government to re-establish its favourability with voters before heading to a normal election. In fact, a media report last month suggested the Liberal Party's pollster, Mark Textor, advised the PM to forgo the early election and avoid calling an election altogether unless his approval rating was trending up again.

Wriggle room of this kind may be even more important if the federal budget is not received particularly well by the voters. Granted, forgoing the DD means the Government will be saddled with a feisty and cranky Senate crossbench for another three years, but some of the alternatives - a hung parliament, no mandate, or even an election loss - are palpably less attractive.

If the PM has truly considered all the options, doing a deal with the Senate crossbench on the ABCC and skipping the DD should definitely be on the table. It would be the "float and drop" to surpass all others, but perhaps the key to the Turnbull Government's survival.


Diplomats gone wild: Saudi staffers run riot on our roads with police powerless to stop them

Imagine driving at 135km/h past Parliament House at 2am on a Tuesday, leading police on a pursuit, failing to provide a valid licence, blaming your behaviour on a lack of antibiotics and getting away with it.

That's exactly what happened to one diplomat at the royal embassy of Saudi Arabia who used his immunity to escape a $1811 fine and six demerit points.

His exploits are just one chapter in the latest chronicle of diplomats behaving badly, dutifully archived by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and released under freedom of information laws.

Another Saudi diplomat was caught speeding through an intersection at 107km/h in an 80km/h zone. Officers attempted to stop him as he approached, but he sped right past them.

Officers eventually caught up but he again refused to pull over despite sirens and lights blazing in his rear view mirror. Eventually, police gave up due to fears for public safety.

Another Saudi, who was caught at 126km/h in an 80km/h zone, told police he was driving his father's car and was speeding "because he needed to go to the toilet".

"The excessive speed he was travelling at risks undermining the reputation of the royal embassy of Saudi Arabia and that of the wider diplomatic community," said one DFAT official.

In some cases, the foreign diplomats were drunk behind the wheel.   One Saudi told police he had not had anything to drink and didn't understand why he returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.15, triple the legal limit.  A woman in the car began yelling at the man in a foreign language and told police it was forbidden in Saudi culture to drink alcohol.

Normally, this diplomat would be summonsed to appear before the ACT Magistrates Court and face a maximum penalty of $1400 or six months in jail. Instead, police allowed him to walk away scot-free.

It's not just the Saudis who are letting diplomatic immunity get to their head. One Mexican Embassy staffer was stopped by police and asked to complete a breath test.  He raised his voice and said: "I don't want to, so I don't have to. I'm here with my family ... I'll complain if hear anything about this!"

Police believed he had been drinking, but were powerless to do anything more. He had an older woman in the passenger seat and children in the back.

These latest escapades only add to early offences reported by Fairfax Media, such as a $387 fine for a Saudi diplomat who failed to put a seatbelt on a seven-year-old girl.

These foreign diplomats were never formally charged by police or brought before a court of law like regular Canberra residents. In most cases, they never even paid their fines.

More than 200 reminder notices were served to foreign embassies chasing overdue money last year, ranging from simple parking fines to red light infringements.

DFAT's chief of protocol, Chris Cannan, has the unenviable job of reminding foreign diplomats to respect the law of the land.  "Not happy," was how he described his mood after reading about one Saudi's exploits.

"I will be calling in the Saudi ambassador – most likely early next week – to express strong concern about this offence as well as another serious offence committed by a Saudi diplomat a week or so ago," he told a police official.

"I will also foreshadow to the ambassador a freedom of information release next week which will again list Saudi Arabia as the embassy with, by far, the highest number of traffic infringements."

An ACT Policing spokeswoman said road rules were designed to protect everyone's safety and those who break them dramatically increase the risk of injury and death, to themselves and others.


Hate-filled far-Leftist reporter gets a payout after his sacking

Sacked SBS sports reporter Scott McIntyre has settled his unfair dismissal case with broadcaster SBS over a series of controversial tweets he made on Anzac Day last year.

In joint statement released on Monday morning, an hour before McIntyre and SBS were due to begin a three day hearing in the NSW Federal Court, the parties confirmed the dispute over his termination had been resolved.

McIntyre, who had worked at SBS since 2003 and was employed as a sports reporter since 2008, had been suing SBS for unlawful termination under the Fair Work Act and sought a court order requiring SBS to pay compensation and damages.

McIntyre found himself at the epicentre of controversy after he referred to the commemoration of Anzac Day as "remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these 'brave' Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan".

In another tweet he wrote: "Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered."

In the statement, McIntyre acknowledged the views expressed in his tweets were "contentious" and regretted "any attribution of his views to SBS and acknowledges that SBS was drawn into controversy following the expression of his views".

The broadcaster said in the statement that "Mr McIntyre was a well respected sports reporter with SBS for a period spanning over a decade, and SBS is disappointed that it was unable to continue with his services following his tweets".

Amid the controversy, which spiralled into a debate around free-speech and the limits around using employer-linked twitter accounts to express personal views, then-communications minister Malcolm Turnbull publicly condemned Mr McIntyre's comments describing then as "despicable remarks which deserved to be condemned".

The Minister then discussed the issue directly with the broadcaster's managing director Michael Ebeid in a late-night phone call on April 25, 2015.  McIntyre was sacked the next morning.

However, both SBS and Mr Turnbull denied the Minister had directed SBS to take any action in relation to McIntyre's employment.

In a hearing in the Federal Court in December last year, lawyers for SBS maintained Mr McIntyre was not sacked because of the political views he held, but because the tweets were in breach of the broadcaster's social media policy and code of conduct.

The court heard SBS director of sport, Ken Shipp?, had repeatedly told Mr McIntyre to delete the tweets and apologise, but he had refused.

Mr McIntyre's lawyers refuted this, claiming that at no stage prior to his sacking did SBS direct him to delete the tweets, apologise, or inform him that he had breached the code of conduct or social media guidelines.

He said he was denied procedural fairness and that he was sacked, in part, because of "his expression of political opinion".

The terms of the McIntyre's settlement with the broadcaster remain undisclosed.


11 April, 2016

Offensive name of Communist leader on display

It was rather nostalgic for me to see the South Vietnamese flag above again.  I stuck a lot of them on top of Leftist posters during the Vietnam war

The surname of the restaurant owner is Turkish and therefore presumably Muslim.  So the name of the restaurant could be intended as anti-American

About 100 people have protested outside Brisbane's Uncle Ho restaurant, which was closed on Sunday due to "death threats" for naming the eatery after Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh.

The city's Vietnamese community said the name and advertising was ignorant and insulting and they would continue to organise protests until the name was changed.

They held a peaceful protest outside the New Farm establishment on Sunday morning, singing national songs and holding placards such as "Ho Chi Minh is nobody's uncle".

The restaurant's director Anna Demirbek was unapologetic in an Instagram post on Sunday.  She said they were fully conscious the brand would be sensitive. "We have no position on the political or historical landscape of Vietnam," she said. "We are not communist sympathisers. "Over the past 24 hours management have received death threats and threats of burning down the building our business is housed in."

Phoung Nguyen said protesters' attempts to contact the owners of the New Farm restaurant had failed.  She said because their peaceful approach did not work, they decided to rally. "For Vietnamese, especially from the south, who risked their lives and ran away from their country by boat in the 70s and 80s, we hate that name," she said.

"We settled in Australia and live in peace and enjoy the freedom, democracy and work hard in a country which opened its arms to us.

"We are incensed. "The posters in there is some sort of promotion for the Vietnamese army and remind us of the invasion of Saigon.

"It was a terrifying period for all of us, we were the losers and the winner did not treat us humanely.  "Why do you promote an eatery with all the war, guns, tanks images?"

Millions fled Vietnam as a result of Ho Chi Minh and the communist regime.

Since its opening in late March, the restaurant's Instagram feed has drawn criticism for making light of the history.

One post a month ago, featuring a red tank and military saying "gather your squadron and mobilise the troops" offended a number of people.

"This kind of imagery is insensitive at best and horribly offensive to so many Vietnamese Australians, many whose families fled torture and death at the hands of 'Uncle Ho', it's also a slap in the face to many Vietnam vets," patches_o wrote.


Love Australia or Leave Party founder Kim Vuga blocked from Queensland pub

One can understand that the pub owner wishes to avoid disturbances but it it exposes the Fascist nature of the Left that their constant use of street disturbances does effectively  restrict other people's rights

The founder of an anti-Islam and anti-immigration political party has hit out at a Queensland pub for discrimination because it wouldn't let her meet there.

Kim Vuga, the grandmother who rose to prominence sticking to her views on SBS' Go Back to Where You Came From reality show, said it was another example of a nationwide clampdown on free speech.

She'd organised to have a group "meet for drinks" at the Beach House Hotel in Hervey Bay before heading to another, unnamed hotel for the meeting itself, she said to prevent the venue being attacked online by "anti-Reclaim Australia" groups.

On Friday, Ms Vuga was told she and her members weren't welcome in the venue.  "I did say to him (the venue manager), that's discrimination," she said.  "We've got members of the public only having a drink. We're not discussing politics and he didn't care."

The independently owned hotel's venue manager, Paul Robins, told Fairfax Media a party representative had contacted the venue earlier this week and asked to host the forum.

"We said no, that we didn't support their views or didn't want anything like that associated with our venues," he said.

"(We said) we don't have an issue if you're having a drink with your friend but you're not to organise a political meeting in our venue.

"Next thing we find flyers where she's advertised that she's having this meeting in our venue after we'd already said no."

Ms Vuga's party supports an indefinite moratorium on Muslim immigration and a ban on all immigration until the budget was back in the black.

The Townsville woman called for Australia's gun laws to be rolled back to pre-Port Arthur massacre days, wanted the country to withdraw from the United Nations and proposed a series of water pipes beginning in the north and criss-crossing the rest of the continent to guarantee water safety.

Ms Vuga also wanted an end to politicians' perks after leaving office, decentralisation of the population and development of affordable renewable energy.

Ms Vuga insisted members were only meeting for drinks but Mr Robins said that was just "semantics".  "We're a hotel, we're not a political organisation," he said.  "We're an inclusive venue and we simply just don't want to be associated with her or her political views."

The Love Australia or Leave Party is yet to be registered with the Australian Electoral Commission but Ms Vuga plans to run for the Senate in the coming federal election.

She said the party had "way over" the 500 members it needed to register, papers had been filed with the AEC and it would also run candidates in Victoria,  Western Australia, New South Wales.

If elected, Ms Vuga said she would push for refugees settled in Australia under Labor's "open door policy" to be sent back to their country of origin, even if they'd been persecuted.

"I believe our compassion ends at the borders," she said. "I believe we're in a climate where we need to be concerned."


Turnbull promises to abolish Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal after election

Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal if his government wins the upcoming election.

The Coalition has also announced funding from the Road Safety Remuneration System would be redirected to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, which the Prime Minister said was the body that can "actually deliver real and tangible road safety outcomes in the trucking industry”.

"The Turnbull government is taking action to support truck owner-drivers across Australia who are unfairly disadvantaged by the destructive Road Safety Remuneration System Payment Order, which came into effect on 7 April 2016,” Mr Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said in a statement.

"Bill Shorten set up the Road Safety Remuneration System solely to advantage the Transport Workers Union.

"The union claims that if you pay someone more money then they will drive more safely. This is not based on evidence or common sense. The RSR System is predicated on this flawed claim and it puts tens of thousands of owner-drivers across Australia at risk of being driven out of business.”

The government said there was "no evidence” the RSRS had achieved "any safety outcomes” during its four years of operation and would not achieve any in the future.

Labor slammed the Turnbull government for "trashing” the independent tribunal, claiming the move to scrap it was "based upon their opposition to establishing safe rates for the transport industry”.

"This decision is extraordinary and extremely dangerous given the body of evidence that links pay and safety on our roads,” the opposition’s employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said.

"The Turnbull Liberal government has gone from seeking to delay the decision by legislation to now recklessly trying to kill off the tribunal, simply because Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t like its decision.”

Mr O’Connor said the government should convene a meeting with all affected parties – employers, workers, unions, and owner-operators to "reconcile where possible outstanding differences”.

"Abolishing the independent tribunal will set a deeply disturbing precedent and clearly shows the Abbott-Turnbull government has no respect for the concept of an independent umpire,” he said.

"It also raises very serious questions about future decisions of government. If they are willing to abolish a tribunal because they don’t like a decision, what would stop the Turnbull government intervening to defer the increase in the national minimum wage, or override a decision of the Fair Work Commission on penalty rates?”

The government’s statement said the states would be consulted to determine how funding for the NHVR can be used to "strengthen safety measures and deliver real results”.

"The bill the government will be introducing to parliament when it resumes on 18 April, if passed, will suspend the operation of the Order and provide the trucking industry with certainty, until such time as we take legislation to a new parliament to abolish the RSRS,” Mr Turnbull and Senator Cash said.

Furious self-employed truck drivers are planning a protest convoy to take their fight against the tribunal to federal parliament, warning new minimum rates of pay will drive them out of business.

The protest is planned to ­coincide with the resumption of parliament in a week’s time. It is being fuelled by anger among thousands of owner-drivers across the country who hope to pressure MPs into overturning the tribunal’s order mandating the new pay regime.

The government already has support of five of the six crossbench senators it needs to freeze the pay rates. The remaining three independents are expected to decide on a position soon.

Owner-driver truckies said last week they faced ruin after the Federal Court handed the TWU a legal victory by giving the green light to a new pay regime.

The pay rates, promoted by unionists as being needed to make roads safer, came into force at 4.15pm on Thursday, prompting independent senator Glenn Lazarus to warn the decision would trigger convoy protests across the nation.

Owner-drivers say the mandatory pay rates will price them out of the market, and Nat­ionals MPs have already been planning to introduce legislation to abolish the RSRT.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said while the new pay regime fell outside the scope of his responsibilities, the tribunal’s order would lead to price increases and would be likely to have an adverse effect on competition in the sector.


The NBN debate

Waleed Aly took aim at Malcolm "the man who virtually invented the internet in this country" Turnbull, labelling the Coalition NBN rollout as a "mongrel network".

He highlighted that Turnbull, the then communications minister under PM Tony Abbott, stopped the rollout of a full fibre broadband network, replacing it with what the the politicians claimed would be a cheaper, faster network using a mixture of technologies.

Towards the end of his commentary saying "If you are watching this right now on the internet and you had to wait for even a second for this video to buffer, you know who to blame: Tony Abbott and the guy who he says 'invented the internet'."

While Aly's popular show brings a somewhat technical debate alive for to the average punter, he's missed some crucial points, especially the biggest one: rollout speed.

A lot of his argument focused on the advantages of a full fibre rollout (Labor's previous approach) versus the Coalition policy being implemented now, saying we're suffering as a country because of it.

While he probably isn't wrong, what he missed is that the full fibre debate is dead. It's gone.

Neither party is going to go ahead with a full fibre rollout anymore, so any debate around it is beating a dead horse.

When it comes to the actual technology of choice, Aly was better off pointing to fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp) technology, which has become a viable, cheaper option.

Campbell Simpson at Gizmodo has put together a fantastic explainer, but to summarise FTTdp, it basically runs a skinnier fibre cable right up to the telecommunications pit outside your house and then uses the existing copper line to do the rest.

That means you don't suffer from lower speeds due to the extensive use of copper - the further away you are from the node (those big green boxes), the slower the internet speed is. This technology is only marginally more expensive than the current fibre-to-the-node rollout, but offers speeds almost as great as full fibre.

It also means your front yard doesn't have to be torn up to get full fibre, and there's the relatively cheap option of paying to upgrade the connection to full fibre if you want.

Labor's communications spokesman, Jason Clare suggested earlier this week that it's the ALP's technology of choice, and the NBN Co has been trialling the technology.

So why hasn't prime minister Malcolm Turnbull or communications minister Mitch Fifield ever spoken about it as a viable alternative to the heavily criticised fibre to the node options? Their stance is it's best used to plug holes when FTTN doesn't work.

Back to Aly's rant, the biggest thing he misunderstood is around rollout speed.

He raised the point that Australia's global rank in average internet speeds had dropped from 30 down to 60. True, but Aly was placing the blame on the MTM rollout, which is completely false.

If you look at the rollout, the majority of connections activated are full fibre connections, meaning the drop is due to the amount of people still stuck on ADSL.

The problem lies in the huge difficulty NBN Co is having with its rollout. It's simply years behind schedule. That delay is not about a political party's policy or choice of technology.

Why? We never get any real explanations from politicians who proposed to the contrary or NBN executives. We get told it's delayed, just to deal with it.

And that's the biggest issue we should be debating, and the thing Aly needed to put more emphasis on.

Which brings us back to his final line, blaming Abbott and Turnbull if you have to "wait one second" for a buffer.

The line damaged the rest of his argument, because regardless of how you see this debate politically, the truth is that irrespective of the government rolling out the NBN, the exact same number of people would still be watching that video on their old ADSL connection. Despite is promises, the NBN just hasn't turned up.

So stop arguing over the tech. It's time to bring both the politicians and NBN CEO Bill Morrow to account over why it's taking so damned long.


10 April, 2016

Australian Liberty Alliance, the anti-Islam, Donald Trump-style party, claims major growth

An Australian political party which advocates Donald Trump's idea of banning Muslim immigration says its membership has quadrupled in size since its launch with disaffected National and Liberal party members comprising the bulk of those joining.

The Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) which was launched in secret in Perth last year by the far-right and anti-immigration Dutch MP Geert Wilders puts its growth down to social media given it has received virtually no mainstream news coverage and claims it had its request to advertise nationally in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp newspapers knocked back.

Though neither the Liberals nor Labor consider the party a serious threat, Liberal MPs confirmed the party was stealing "rank and file" members and said there had been a rise in communications from disaffected supporters telling them they were ditching the Coalition for the ALA, following last year's leadership change and the government's subsequent poor performance.

The ALA's Senate Candidate in New South Wales, Kirralie Smith, told Fairfax Media their meetings were attracting up to 300 followers in metropolitan areas and between 50-100 in the regions.

"We just get so many Liberal and National party supporters who were paid up members who have quit that party and joined us, they are very vocal in telling us," she said.

Queensland Liberal National George Christensen confirmed the ALA was "definitely taking rank and file LNP supporters" but doubted it would translate into enough support for the party to win a senate spot. He said a recent ALA meeting held in Mackay and advertised only on Facebook attracted 50 people. By comparison a meeting he advertised through direct mail attracted 200 attendees. "Without any direct communication, to attract 50 people from a single Facebook message, that's pretty good," he said.

Other Liberals who did not want to be named said they were increasingly on the receiving end of emails and social media messages from angry supporters telling them they would be abandoning the Government at the next election for the ALA.

Ms Smith could not provide exact membership figures for the party but said they were in the several thousands having increased four-fold since their launch last year. A party in Australia needs 500 members to be registered.

Ms Smith hit out at News Corp, which has run several paid advertisements for the party in two of its newspapers, for falling victim to the "PC [politically correct] beast" when it refused to run ads for their upcoming meetings in other papers. "We're not too far extreme, they're far too extreme, their reasoning was that it didn't fit their brand," she said. A spokesman for News Corp declined to comment.

Anti-Islam platform

In its manifesto, the ALA calls for a 10-year ban on granting residency visas to anyone from an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member country which includes Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia, Morocco and Iraq. The only exception it would make would be for persecuted non-Muslim minorities living in those countries.

Ms Smith said the party had advocated banning Muslims migrating to Australia before the Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump suggested the United States could shut its borders to Muslims, following the US San Bernadino shooting.

"I think Donald Trump stole our ideas," Ms Smith said jokingly.

When asked if the ALA realised would prevent doctors, entrepreneurs and other skilled migrants from calling Australia home, Ms Smith said the measures to deal with the threat of Islamist terrorism "had to start somewhere".

"The reality the threat's greater than the benefit [of migration] at the moment," she said.  "I won't back down or apologise for wanting to confront an ideology," she added.

The ALA would also seek to impose restrictions on mosques. The Australian constitution expressly prohibits the Commonwealth from enacting laws which prohibit the free exercise of any religion.

"The fact is that being opposed to a mosque does not make you a racist, mosques are not a race," she said in a video posted on Facebook. Ms Smith said the post had reached half a million people and had been viewed 173 thousand times and said 85 to 90 per cent of the comments were supportive.

Mr Christensen is a strident critic of radical Islam and has advocated banning the burqa. He said the ALA's policy of banning all Muslim migration was a step too far for him but said that suppressing conversations about Islam in the community would only foster support for the ALA.

ALA not a serious threat

The ALA is fielding five Senate candidates who advocate smaller government, merging and radically stripping back the ABC and SBS but they are best known for their anti-Islamic views. Neither Labor nor Liberal considers them a serious threat or chance at gaining a Senate spot.

Labor MP Stephen Jones identified Tasmanian independent and ex-Palmer Senator Jacqui Lambie was a more serious threat when it came to a non-PC candidate as she drew blue-collar voters as well as conservatives.

"People like authenticity in a politician. They hear everyone else spin and look like a cardboard cutout, so when they see someone who looks like them and speaks like them they like it," Mr Jones said.

Several Government MPs said the fallout from the leadership spill combined with the disillusionment in mainstream politicians and the media meant there was fertile ground for a more credible and better organised splinter party to succeed.

Deposed Prime Minister Tony Abbott is amongst those who have urged for disappointed Liberals to remain "in the tent" rather than flirt with fringe-parties.

Shortly after his removal as leader, he urged anyone thinking of forming a micro-party to compete with the Liberals to abandon the idea warning such a move would damage the Coalition.

"I'd say please don't, please don't. The Liberal Party doesn't have enough members as it stands, we can't afford to lose good members. I can understand why people are dismayed at the fact we did what we said we'd never do."

"The impact of the One Nation movement was to bring the Howard government perilously close to defeat in 1998," he said.

"The last thing we need is another conservative party, particularly a rogue conservative party that is raging against the world. That's the last thing we need."


Brisbane parents vent over menu for sick kids

Public hospital food is traditionally poor but there is nothing wrong with meat pies or potato products

PARENTS are furious their sick children are being served party pies and potato gem meals at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

But Health Minister Cameron Dick says he stands by the hospital menu, which meets state and national nutrition standards.

Parents worried about the lack of nutrients in processed items also report that chips, gems or wedges are served daily with many inpatient meals.

David Rosengren, chairman of the Queensland Clinical Senate, which advises the Department of Health and Minister for Health, believes that hospitals should lead the way when it comes to eating well.

"Unless there is a medical justification from a nutritional point of view for serving these kind of meals, then hospitals need to set a better example," Mr Rosengren said.

"However, it is important to understand that paediatric care can be a challenge.  "Undernourishment is one of the biggest problems hospitals face and high-calorie meals are often necessary.

"It can be a double-edged sword. While the Clinical Senate is working hard to break the cycle of bad nutrition, hospital staff need to make sure children are eating."

A standard party pie has about 36 per cent fat, 52 per cent carbs, 12 per cent protein and can be high in sodium and preservatives.

A Queensland mum, who did not want to be named, told The Courier-Mail: "The meals are often unhealthy and serving sizes small.  "Some kind of chips, gems or wedges are usually on the plate."

Dr Robyn Littlewood, director of Dietetics and Food Services at Children’s Health Queensland, said items such as hot chips, wedges or pies were included on the menu as they were child-friendly and also because sometimes that’s all a sick or injured child feels like eating.

"These items are also often the appropriate sources of protein and energy when patients are recovering from illness," Dr Littlewood said. "Other meals that are offered to patients include roasts, pasta dishes, salads and fruit."


Labor party lies on schools

Labor’s letter of lies to schools across the country shows that Bill Shorten is wilfully ignoring facts in order to scare students, parents and educators. It is nothing short of a dishonest smear campaign.

"Mr Turnbull’s policy of cutting $30 billion from schools…" - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16

FACT: There are no cuts. It is an utter lie to suggest that the Turnbull Government’s funding is doing anything but increasing each and every year, off of a record base, meaning there is no reason schools won’t be able to continue to support teachers and existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or additional resources.

"…walking away from public education is one of the worst ideas ever put forward by a prime minister." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16

FACT: The Turnbull Government is not abandoning schools or public education and has never proposed doing so. We are putting a record $69.4 billion into schools and only ever proposed an alternative means to allow states to grow this by even more, if they wished (which all but WA rejected). This funding will continue to grow year on year into the future and builds on the growth of Commonwealth funding per student for public schools in real terms by 66.1 per cent over the past 10 years.

"Labor has made the difficult decisions on taxation and savings necessary to make sure our plan for schools is fully funded and fully costed over the next decade." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16

FACT: Labor’s education policy funding outlook is built on a ‘tax and spend’ approach and economic fantasy. Even ABC’s Fact Check unit sees it as "rose-coloured" at best.

"[The Turnbull Government is] not providing any certainty about schools funding." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16

FACT: The Turnbull Government’s growing funding is locked in and clearly outlined in budget papers. The only people who seem not to understand that are the Labor Party and Bill Shorten. Schools, parents and students can be confident that the Turnbull Government’s record investment in education is only going to increase.

"What we're doing is Budget repair that's fair." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16

FACT: What Labor is proposing is ‘Budget repair’ that adds to their $51.3 billion black hole at a time when the budget is already $36 billion in deficit. It’s not repair, it’s vandalism. Labor’s plans will only be paid for by higher taxes or greater debt, leaving fewer jobs and opportunities for students when they finish school.

"Well I’ll tell you what reform for…education funding looks like - needs-based funding in schools." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16

FACT: Labor aren’t proposing reform. They’re just re-announcing unaffordable levels of spending with no reforms to how it is used.  Needs-based funding is built into our existing and future funding models, ensuring students with higher needs receive more funding.

The fear being spread by Labor and the unions about schools funding detracts from the real conversation we need to be having. While funding matters, what you do with it matters even more. Evidence tells us to focus on the quality of teachers and teaching; the teaching of reading and maths; and the engagement of parents. That's exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing.

Press release from Sen. Birmingham

Lambie asks PM to probe navy abuse claims

Senator Jacqui Lambie wants Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to investigate claims the navy failed to take action over an alleged rape of a junior sailor by a higher ranked sailor.

Alleged victim, former sailor Trent Bourne, says his attempts to report the abuse through the chain of command were fobbed off and he has letters, emails and medical notes to support his claims.

"I am utterly appalled that his allegations of sexual abuse have not been taken seriously or dealt with accordingly," Senator Lambie said in a letter to the PM, as well as the defence and veterans' affairs ministers.

"This occurred in 2012 and it still has not been resolved."

The latest allegations arise with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) having battled a culture of abuse in its ranks for several years.

Senator Lambie met with the Prime Minister in February over accusations the ADF had ignored the abuse, including sexual assault, of an SAS trooper and former Army officer.

A letter from former Deputy Chief of Navy Michael Julian van Balen sent on March 28, 2014 to Mr Bourne confirms former Chief of Defence Force David Hurley was made aware in 2013 of the alleged attack.

Emails between Mr Bourne and the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) - which independently monitors the military justice system - confirm an investigation was launched in January, 2016 into the alleged attack and claims the ADF failed to act.

Mr Bourne said the alleged attack took place in late January 2012 when he was invited to the off-base apartment of the senior sailor after a group meeting which they both attended.

"He went to the bathroom, came out with no shirt on and grabbed me and pushed me with force into the bedroom," he said of the alleged rape.

A spokesperson for the ADF said all allegations of inappropriate or potentially criminal behaviour by Defence personnel were taken very seriously.

"Primary responsibility for the investigation of criminal allegations does, however, lie with the civilian police even in cases involving ADF personnel," the defence spokesperson said.


8 April, 2016

Offensive Muslim officer in the Australian navy being cosseted

Note the Muslim headgear.  A believing Muslim cannot fully integrate into mainstream Australian culture and it's just a pretence to present her as having done so. Both she and Christian Maj. Gaynor disapprove of homosexuals.  Maj. Gaynor was fired from the army.  He must be watching this with great interest

The military establishment launched into a flurry of alarmed and secretive activity over incend­iary social media posts by its most senior Muslim officer late last year, with Chief of Navy Tim Barrett ordering a subordinate to ­investigate and "keep close hold".

Emails between senior officers, released under Freedom of Inform­ation laws, reveal they considered whether Captain Mona Shindy should be sacked, with a legal assessment comparing her case to another in which a ­reserve officer had been expelled from the service for speaking out.

The crisis reached the top, with the Chief of the Australian ­Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, asking "did she ­actually say what is alleged?" and "did she really re-tweet this?".

The moves followed a wave of controversy, detailed in The Australian, over articles, tweets and re-tweets by Captain Shindy, who is Vice-Admiral Barrett’s strategic adviser on Islamic affairs.

The tweets included remarks mirroring claims of Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed after the Paris terror attacks in November, in which he said factors such as Western foreign policy in the Middle East, the media and lack of ­opportunity were fuelling Islamic extremism. Captain Shindy mocked Tony Abbott after the leadership coup in September by pointing to pro-Muslim statements by Malcolm Turnbull, and tweeting: "Looking forward to a #PM that unites #auspol & #OZ".

The emails, released on the ­Defence website following an FOI request, show Air Chief Marshal Binskin took an intense interest in the issue, often seeking updates, with one email asking: "Any feedback?"

In another email in relation to a letter of complaint about Captain Shindy, Air Chief Marshal Binskin wrote "any answer is going to have to be well crafted".

The emails show that apart from having her official ­Defence Twitter account closed down, and being "counselled", Captain Shindy has been cosseted by ­Defence spin doctors in her role as Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, so that on the speaking circuit her message can be, in Vice-Admiral Barrett’s words, "cleared and controlled".

The emails also include ones from Captain Shindy to her ­superiors in which she attempted to ­explain her actions, complained about a "bombardment" of ­adverse emails and social media attacks on her, which she ­described as "ill informed, misguided and offensive ranting", and asked for a personal assistant.

In an email with the subject line "External Email Bombardment and Request for Support" to Vice-Admiral Barrett and his chief of staff, dated December 4, Captain Shindy wrote: "I would very much appreciate a dedicated media, communications savvy personal assistant who can help me selectively accept high-impact engagements, assist with speech writing and effective messaging, help manage my diary to balance work commitments and my personal wellbeing, and protect my personal and professional interests when it comes to managing me as a ‘commodity’ and addressing the inevitable vitriol."

Captain Shindy also once wrote in a published article that Western governments had a "double standard" of not bringing ­Israel to justice over its occupation of Palestinian territories while being quick to go to war in Iraq, and retweeted Mufti Musa Ismail Menk, the top Islamic cleric of Zimbabwe, who had taunted gays as being lower than animals, ­describing him as "always a source of wisdom".

The documents show Captain Shindy sent an email to Vice ­Admiral Barrett, saying she had "no idea" about the "totality" of the Mufti’s Twitter feed, and that now that she knew of his comments about homosexuality being "filthy" she did not agree with them.

But she said a line she quoted from Mufti Menk following the Paris attacks, which said in part "the noise around us often makes it hard to know what’s going on ... So speak less & listen more", was "to my mind ... a pretty harmless piece of commonsense".

Captain Shindy is a respected 26-year veteran of the navy and until recently the head of its ­Guided Missile Frigate Program.

The documents include what appears to be a legal assessment comparing Captain Shindy’s case with that of a reservist officer whose name was redacted, but who is thought to be Major Bernard Gaynor Jnr, who was sacked for what Defence said were unacceptable remarks relating to gay and transgender people.

Major Gaynor won a wrongful dismissal case, which Defence is appealing. The assessment says that in both cases, "Defence determined that public comments were being made and social media used that was not in accord with ­Defence Policy" and the officers were ordered to stop making them.

But it says a key difference is that while the unnamed officer "did not desist from making further comments", Captain Shindy "has ceased making inappropriate public comments". The assessment concluded that no further action against her was required.

In another email Vice Admiral Barrett wrote of the "need (for) a review of our own social media products". A Defence spokesman said yesterday a communications manual that would include policy on social media use was under ­development.


NSW cop  who 'blew almost three times the legal alcohol limit while driving a police car without a valid licence' has kept his job

A senior police officer who allegedly blew almost three times over the legal alcohol limit has kept his job despite being caught drink driving with an expired licence.

Senior Constable Craig Andrew Sear was driving to a detectives training course in an unmarked police car from Nowra, south west of Sydney, when police claim he recorded a blood alcohol concentration of 0.138 in March, the Daily Telegraph reported.
It was also discovered that the 41-year-old's drivers licence had expired a month earlier in February.

He did not make an appearance at Nowra Local Court on Monday when his case was mentioned, but according to court documents he did attend a serious traffic offenders course on Saturday.

According to the South Coast Register, Senior Constable Sear was previously in the Navy and had spent eight years in the fire brigade.

His case will be heard again in court on May 3.

Senior Constable Sear, who has been in the force for eight years, has continued to perform 'restricted duties' for the Shoalhaven local area command, despite his active criminal proceedings


Stupid "organic" woman who refused whooping cough booster becomes newest advocate for immunisation

An anti-vac advocate who refused immunisations during her pregnancy is now speaking out in favour of vaccinations after infecting her newborn daughter with whooping cough.

Identified only as Cormit, the Gold Coast woman discussed her regret at not agreeing to the vaccine in a video posted to the Facebook page of Gold Coast Health.

"Being the healthy, fit, organic woman that I am, I said ‘Leave me alone, I don’t need this’," Cormit said in the video.

"I’ve been a very healthy pregnant woman – no problems, no complications, worked, worked out, went to the gym every day, ate healthy, had no deficiencies, had a natural birth and somehow through the last two weeks of my pregnancy I’ve managed to get whooping cough."

Following her natural birth, Cormit went to the doctor about a persistent cough and discovered she had contracted whooping cough - which she had also passed on to her newborn daughter, Eva.

"Within two weeks the cough became pretty scary – horror movie, coughing to the point of turning blue, flopping in my hands, can’t breathe, running into hospital," Cormit said. "A lot of suffering for a little tiny, little cute thing that you love so much."

Having been at Gold Coast Hospital for three and a half weeks, the new mother said that if she could turn back time she would have gotten immunised.

"I got over it very quick, it was nothing for me. But she is into week four and every hour I have to stay here watch her going blue, watch her go blue, watch her cry, and give her oxygen," she said.

Australia is currently facing a whooping cough epidemic, with the number of reported cases quadrupling in New South Wales between April and December last year. In Victoria and the ACT, the number of reported cases doubled.

The federal government recommend the whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women, babies and children. A booster shot is recommended during the third trimester of pregnancy, as antibodies can transfer to the newborn baby through the placenta.


Residents say they aren't racist, they just don't want new mosque

A group of residents in Melbourne's southeast are adamant that they are not being racist by protesting the proposed building of a new mosque in the area.

At 25m tall and able to accomodate 500 worshippers, the super-sized site could become the biggest Islamic place of worship in Australia.

The multi-million dollar development proposal also includes plans for an Islamic school for 1000 students.

The City of Casey have already received more than 100 objections to the development.

Terry Ryan lives next door to the site and is concerned that his family home will be overshadowed by the building.

"It's got nothing to do with religion, it's just not a particularly pretty building," Mr Ryan told A Current Affair.
A group of residents in Melbourne's southeast are adamant that they are not being racist by protesting the proposed building of a new mosque in the area.

After an anti-mosque banner was smuggled into a Collingwood versus Richmond football match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday night, residents like Mr Ryan feel like it has become even harder to voice their legitimate concerns over the mosque.

"If it was a Catholic building, if it was a big Jewish building, if it was a supermarket, I'd be complaining about it," Mr Ryan said.

But residents in Melbourne's southeast are already fearful of radical Islam. In September 2014, terror suspect Numan Haider was shot dead by police at nearby Endeavour Hills.

Residents say there is no need for another mosque in the area - with one on the same road three kilometres away and another one in a neighbouring suburb, a ten minute drive away.

But Waseem Razvi from the Saarban Islamic Trust, the group behind the proposal, says residents should not fear mosques being erected in the area.

He argues more mosques across Australia will help to "stamp out" radical ideas.

"Mosques are at the forefront, are the frontline against extremism and terrorism," Mr Razvi said.

"Having a mosque in the area would actually make it much more safer than without having it."

The City of Casey are expected to vote on the mosque's development application in May.


Sydney University students claim they were left 'heavily traumatised' after they were 'violently pushed and viciously assaulted' by police during a library protest against fees

Defiant student protesters routinely claim police brutality when the police bring them under control

A group of students were left 'heavily traumatised' after police 'violently pushed' them out of The University of Sydney library during a protest against the deregulation of university fees.

Footage of the incident was posted online by the university's newspaper, Honi Soit, and showed officers grabbing students by the arm and pushing them through glass doors.

One of the protesters, Georgia Mantle, said police 'put me in a wristlock and pulled my hair and lifted me up by the ankles'.

The incident took place before the arrival of Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham who was due to adjudicate the Liberal Club's annual John Howard Debating Cup.

Students had been chanting and delivering speeches for about 15 minutes before police surrounded them and forced them out, according to Honi Soit.

But one of the protesters, April Holcombe, said no-one had provoked the response as everyone was 'peacefully standing outside the venue when police came and violently pushed everyone out of the building'.

She said police had 'viciously assaulted' an Aboriginal woman as well.

Another student Liam Carrigan added fellow protesters were 'nearly trampled' during the incident.

As a result, a security door at the library was damaged.

In footage of the protests, students can be heard chanting: 'Simon Birmingham get out, we know what you're all about: Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses.'

One protester says over on a loud speaker: 'We're education activists and we're here because there's a Liberal education minister in this building and he has the gall to step into this university when he wants to deregulate university fees.'

'Officers attended the Sydney University campus where a small student protest was taking place,' she said.

'There were no arrests. However a small number of protesters were moved on after allegedly breaching the peace.'


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

7 April, 2016

Credentialism is alive and well in Australia

The value assigned to more and more education is a great folly.  Jobs that were once done perfectly well by a high school graduate now mainly go to university graduates.  Teaching is a good example.  You mostly now have to have a 4-year teaching degree to become a teacher.  Yet for two years I successfully taught senior High School geography even though my highest qualification for it was junior High School geography.  I just kept a chapter ahead in our geography book.

As the ups and downs of the mining boom stole the headlines Australia was experiencing a less celebrated economic transformation: a know-how boom.

Since the middle of last decade the share of adults with an advanced post-school qualification has swelled dramatically.

In 2005 the proportion of Australians aged between 20 and 64 with a Certificate III qualification or higher has jumped from 47 per cent to 60 per cent (Certificate III level recognises advanced technical skills and knowledge, such as a tradesman). In that period the share of 20- to 64-year-olds with a bachelor degree or higher has climbed from about 21 per cent to nearly 30 per cent.

The trend for school students to stay in class longer is similar. Over the past decade the national year 12 student retention rate has climbed from 74.7 per cent to 87 per cent.

Government policies have played a role in boosting the number of adults with university degrees and technical qualifications but the main driver towards obtaining those qualifications is a perception among individuals that know-how has become a modern necessity. It's a reflection of a momentous economic shift towards knowledge-based employment. Those with higher qualifications are more likely to be employed, to earn more when they are employed, to increase the productivity of their co-workers, to increase innovation and technical change and increase employers' profits.

The proportion of adults with a higher qualification is set to keep rising.

That's good news, overall. But the know-how boom has also exacerbated a hazardous political fault line.

Despite all those new qualifications, a big portion of voters still have little or no post-school education. And that leaves them increasingly vulnerable to economic change.

Employment in high-skill, high-value knowledge industries has tended to grow more quickly than other sectors, especially in big cities. Low-skill workers are likely to face growing competition from new migrants, offshoring and even robots.

"It's pretty Darwinian out there in the labour market these days," says Dr Nicholas Gruen, the economist who authors the Wellbeing Index. "If you don't have a post-school qualification the odds are stacked against you."

That's an obvious recipe for discontent. You don't have to look far to see the strife this growing educational-cultural divide can fuel.

In the US, Donald Trump's unsavoury campaign for President has been underpinned by poorly educated voters angry about how society is changing. His candidacy has exposed a deep fissure in US politics: class and education. Analysts note that the single best predictor of support for Trump during the Republican Party primaries has been the absence of a college degree.

In Britain, the educational-cultural divide is a factor in the campaign to exit the European Union, known as "Brexit.

The Economist magazine points out those without tertiary qualifications are much more likely to favour "Brexit" than graduates. It argues that "Britain's great European divide is really about education and class". Britain is scheduled to hold a referendum in June asking voters whether they want Britain to remain in the 28-nation economic block. The latest opinion polls show the "Leave Europe" camp with a solid lead.

Should Britain vote to leave the EU the uncertainty would shake global financial markets and probably take a toll on the global economy.

Australian politics isn't plagued by Trumpism or Brexit but it would be folly to assume politics here is immune to the educational-cultural divisions on show in English-speaking democracies with whom we often compare ourselves.

"It's a big new divide all right," says Gruen. "We've seen it before with Pauline Hanson and to some extent the National Party. It's a pretty toxic situation."

The know-how gap in Australia looms as a significant economic and political challenge. That should shine the spotlight on the effectiveness of our education systems: from early childhood through to universities.


Terracini is on the case

Terracini is famous for his hats and his success in court.  He seems set to right an injustice

A top criminal lawyer has vowed to get murder accused Ben Batterham released from prison, as it is revealed he was covered in bite marks after he 'detained' an alleged thief found inside his home.

Mr Batterham, from Newcastle, north of Sydney, has been imprisoned at Cessnock Correctional Centre since being charged with the murder of Richard James Slater on March 27.

The father-of-one made no application for bail when he case was mentioned in court last week, but high-profile criminal lawyer Winston Terracini SC, who visited the prison on Tuesday with barrister Brian Murray, has taken over and vowed to make an application for bail 'as urgently as possible', the Newcastle Herald reported.

Mr Terracini SC, who has also represented high-profile clients like Harriet Wran, said Mr Batterham's family are organising a surety, while he has applied for a forensic pathologist to review the post mortem examination on Slater. 

The 33-year-old was reportedly heard on a Triple zero call threatening to kill Slater, known to his family as Ricky, after he found the convicted criminal standing near his young daughter's bedroom at about 3.30am on March 26.

His arrest has caused significant outrage in the community, with thousands of people signing a petition demanding his immediate release. 

Many have claimed that the father-of-one was simply defending his home and family after the convicted sex offender allegedly broke in.

It was initially reported that a fight broke out between Mr Batterham and Slater - who was understood to have been put in a choke hold on the street until police arrived.

However, a tripe zero recording that was obtained by the Daily Telegraph indicates that Mr Batterham could be heard threatening the intruder before a drawn out fight ensued.

According to the Newcastle Herald, Mr Batterham sustained a number of injuries in the altercation, including several bite marks to his body.

Slater lost consciousness in front of Mr Batterham's home following the brawl and was rushed to John Hunter Hospital where doctors found that his brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long.

His family turned off his life support and Mr Batterham's grievous bodily harm charge was upgraded to murder.

The father-of-one's was expected to remain behind bars until his case is heard again in court on May 25, but Mr Terracini SC has vowed to have his release 'expedited'.


'It's offensive': Men and women forced to sit SEPARATELY at Sydney Muslim conference - and attendees must buy tickets stamped 'male' or 'female'

An influential Muslim group is selling sex-segregated seating for a major conference next month, with male and female tickets being sold separately for the event.

Channel 7 reports that the United Muslims of Australia (UMA) has organised the Quest for Success conference in Sydney and they confirmed that those attending it will be separated by their gender.

This comes after radical Muslim political party, Hizb ut-Tahrir, were found guilty of discriminating against women after making them sit at the back of public meetings last month.

The issue came to a head during a public meeting in Western Sydney, where men were seated at the front, but women were made to sit at the back of the room.

Anti-discrimination campaigner Alison Bevege believed that the decision to separate men and women in this way at the Sydney conference next month was ‘offensive’.

‘It’s just as offensive to split women from men side to side as it is to split black people from white people from side to side,’ Ms Beverage said.  ‘It's appalling, it's a step back for women's inalienable right to equality.’

The price range for tickets makes no attempt to hide the segregation with an early bird male ticket costing $50, non-discount male ticket $70, and male student $35. Separate female tickets are available in the same price range.

On the Quest For Success website it states that the UMA is one of the largest Islamic youth and community based organisations in Australia, which has been running for more than 15 years.

It said the foundation was founded on traditional Islamic principles and focused on providing quality spiritual, social, educational and recreational programs and activities for the continued development of the Muslim Community within Australia.

‘We are excited to announce that the 2016 UMA Conference - Quest for Success - will focus on the journey of seeking success in this life and the hereafter,’ the website said.

‘The event will feature inspirational international and local guest speakers to share their vast range of insights, experiences and advice on how this goal can be attained by developing a blueprint for Muslims individually, within the family environment and the wider community.’


Must not joke about skin color

Channel Nine’s Today show presenters have been criticised for joking about being "too white" for a Gold Logie nomination after Lee Lin Chin and Waleed Aly were recognised by the television awards for the first time.

Announcing the nominations for the Gold Logie Today’s Karl Stefanovic made fun of Chin’s first-time nomination and remarked to fellow Nine presenter Ben Fordham that he wasn’t really white himself.

Fordham said: "Because this whole idea in the past that it’s been all white, last time I checked, Stefanovic ... where is that from? What part of the world is that from?"  "It’s from the eastern bloc," Stefanovic said on Monday’s show.

"Correct, so you’ve been trailblazing long before Waleed and Lee Lin Chin," Fordham said.  "I might look white on the outside but I’m dark on the inside," Stefanovic said.

Fordham questioned why Lisa Wilkinson – who was sitting at another desk in the studio – hadn’t received a nomination given her many accomplishments in the media industry.

"Lisa’s too white," Stefanovic said.

"I got a spray tan and everything and still didn’t make it," Wilkinson replied.

The exchange was labelled racist by some people on Twitter.  The artistic director of the Melbourne writers’ festival, Lisa Dempster, tweeted: "Disgusted by Karl Stefanovic & Lisa Wilkinson’s comments about the #Logies. Not ok, guys."

The Indigenous SBS broadcaster Michelle Lovegrove wondered: "So skin colour determines a Logie nomination?"


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

6 April, 2016

Why you don't need private health insurance (?)

Government healthcare for all is an enduring Leftist dream.  And they have gone close to enacting it in some countries.  Obamacare in the USA is the latest such "triumph".  That many Americans still can't get ANY healthcare must not be allowed to rock the boat, it seems.

So every now and again we see some Leftist trying to counteract all the horror stories emanating from government hospitals by saying that the government system is so good that private health insurance is not needed.  The 40% of Australians who have private health insurance and go to private hospitals is deluded, apparently.

But I am not going to contest his claim that he personally has received satisfactory treatment from government hospitals. Undoubtedly, some people do.  The elephant that he can't see in his room is: Waiting lists.  For some treatments, patients can wait years in the government hospital system.  Even cancer patients can wait weeks to get an appointment with a specialist  and then there is a much longer wait for actual surgery.  And that can be fatal.

As it happens, I get a lot of cancer and have top private health insurance.  And I can get an appointment at very short notice, sometimes less than a week.  And I can be under the knife a couple of weeks after that.  So private hospitals are needed if you want to dodge waiting lists.

As it happens, most of my surgeries are minor so I mostly choose to be treated as an outpatient rather than being sdmitted.  And I have to pay most of my costs for that out of my own pocket.  Health insurance mostly covers hospitalization plus a few incidental things.  But there have been quite a few occasions where I had to be admitted.  On one occasion I was on the operating table within hours of arriving at the front counter.   And the very large costs that my admissions generated were completely covered by my health insurance.  And I went to what is often regarded as Brisbane's top private hospital.  The treatment I received there certainly was as good as I could have asked.

So you can win the lottery with government hospitals but you wouldn't want to rely on it.  40% of Australians don't.  Maybe they know something?

Every year people rail against the private health insurance companies for hiking up premiums, usually way above the inflation rate.

Not me. Couldn't care less.  I don't have private health insurance. Never have. Can't see the point.

Not only do I think I'm better off financially, I'm also putting my money where my mouth is - in support of a universal public health service.

Ian McCauley, a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Development, has done some modelling on whether you're better off insuring or not.

He told me that if a reasonably healthy person at 25 wisely invested the equivalent of their insurance premium every month to cover medical expenses, they'd have about $80,000 left over at death in their 80s to pay for a very decent wake.

I, too, reckon I'm better off without forking out thousands for a policy I don't really need. And my family has had some health emergencies in our time.

Last year my partner was diagnosed with cancer. She is now recovering after having had the most dedicated support from nurses, doctors and other professionals in the public health system. We have been out of pocket for some things, sure, but many of those expenses aren't covered by most health insurance, anyway. The bulk of our expense was covered by Medicare.

We found there is no difference in the quality of care she received. We know this first hand - my partner shared a public ward with private patients.

For other incidents - broken bones, childhood illnesses - and ongoing visits to the GP, Medicare covers us via payments we make through the taxation system. (We only go to bulk-billing doctors.)

We have never felt like we were a low priority - whether on the cancer ward or when my son broke his leg. We have nothing but appreciation and praise for the dedicated healthcare workers in our public hospitals. They truly are heroes.

One of my sons has braces at the moment. We've paid for that out of our pocket, but the payments are spread out over a couple of years and are manageable at $280 a month.

Private insurance doesn't cover the full cost of what they call these "extras", anyway.

A quick look at Medibank's insurance for "Top Extras" (up to $45.51 a week for a family with hospital cover from April 1) shows they only pay $1000 a year for orthodontics, with a lifetime limit of $3000 per person. So that's $2366.52 a year in premiums for ancillary health cover with only a $1000 for braces.

I think I'll pass. Have they actually checked how much braces cost? It's closer to $10,000.

Given all the caps, limits and thresholds, it really shouldn't be called insurance.

The whole idea of insurance is that you cap your expenses by paying a premium and the insurance company carries the burden of open-ended risk. Don't feel sorry for them, they employ batteries of actuaries to make sure they make a tidy profit.

If you have top-shelf comprehensive car insurance and through no fault of your own your vehicle gets totalled, you'd expect your policy to cover the cost of a new car.

But health insurance? It's the insurance companies that cap their exposure while you still carry the open-ended risk.

Some people take out health 'insurance' just to avoid paying a tax levy. And the insurance companies know this. NIB's website asks "What can we help you with?" and one of the options is "Cover to avoid tax".

Seriously? Why would anyone prefer their money sitting with an insurance company rather than going into the collective pot to pay for roads, schools and hospitals?

While many of us focus on whether or not to continue paying a premium for a pretty poor product, we actually need to look at the policy implications.

What is our health system for? The argument that public patients are a "burden" on the health system is just muddle-headed. It seems our policy pundits and political parties are all in favour of our public health system - until somebody has the temerity to use it.

This is a false moral appeal, says McAuley. "It is an attempt to redefine our public health system as one for the also-rans, the poor and indigent in our society."

The whole public health system should actually be seen as a universal public good, not part of a welfare system.

Sure, if you can afford to pay more you should - but that's what we have a taxation system for. Making that more equitable should be the real focus of tax reform.


Rogue organization explains Australia's warm waters

Australia's BoM has often been caught out making unwarranted "adjustments" to Australia's temperature record.  They are so crooked that they couldn't lie straight in bed.  So the screed below is amusing. The seas around Australia -- and Australia has a lot of those -- have apparently warmed up a bit recently.  So that's got to be global warming, right?  They say so but in a very guarded way.  They agree that most of the causative factors are natural but slip in: "with a substantial contributor being human-caused climate change".

Hey!  No numbers?  These guys are supposed to be scientists and scientists quantify.  How much is "substantial"?  They can't say because they are afraid to say.  If "a substantial contributor is human-caused climate change", then CO2 levels must have risen a lot, right?  But we can easily check that.  Australia has its very own CO2 monitoring station at Cape Grim.  So what does Cape Grim tell us about recent CO2 levels?  It tells us that CO2 levels have been stuck -- completely plateaued -- on 398ppm for the last 7 months. Check it for yourself.  So the temperature rise was NOT caused by a CO2 rise and the human contribution was therefore zero.  More BoM lies

This summer’s sea temperatures were the hottest on record for Australia: here’s why

The summer of 2015-2016 was one of the hottest on record in Australia. But it has also been hot in the waters surrounding the nation: the hottest summer on record, in fact.

Difference in summer sea surface temperatures for the Australian region relative to the average period 1961-1990. Australian Bureau of Meteorology

While summer on land has been dominated by significant warm spells, bushfires, and dryness, there is a bigger problem looming in the oceans around Australia.

This summer has outstripped long-term sea surface temperature records that extend back to the 1950s. We have seen warm surface temperatures all around Australia and across most of the Pacific and Indian oceans, with particularly warm temperatures in the southeast and northern Australian regions.

Last summer’s sea surface temperature rankings for Australia. Australian Bureau of Meteorology

In recent months, this warming has been boosted – just like land temperatures – by natural and human-caused climate factors.
Why so warm?

These record-breaking ocean temperatures around Australia are somewhat surprising. El Nińo events, such as the one we’re currently experiencing, typically result in cooler than normal Australian waters during the second half of the year. So what is the cause?

The most likely culprit is a combination of local ocean and weather events, with a substantial contributor being human-caused climate change.

In the north, the recent weak monsoon season played a role in warming surface waters. Reduced cloud cover means more sunshine is able to pass through the atmosphere and heat the surface of the ocean. Trade winds that normally stir up the water and disperse the heat deeper into the ocean have also remained weak, leaving the warm water sitting at the surface.

In the south, the East Australian Current has extended further south over the summer. This warm current flows north to south down Australia’s east coast. Normally it takes a left turn and heads towards New Zealand, but this year it extended down to Tasmania, bringing warm waters to the south east.

This current is also getting stronger, transporting larger volumes of water southward over time. This is due to the southward movement of high pressure systems towards the pole.

High pressure systems are often associated with clear weather in Australia, and when they move south they prevent rain. This southward movement over time has also been linked to climate changes in our region, meaning that changes in both rainfall and ocean temperatures are responses to the same global factors.

We’ve also seen high ocean temperatures in the Indian Ocean. Around 2010, temperatures in the region suddenly jumped, likely because of the La Nińa event in the Pacific Ocean. The strong events during this period transferred massive amounts of warmth from the Pacific Ocean into the Indian Ocean through the Indonesian region.

The warmer waters in the Indian Ocean have persisted since and have influenced land temperatures. The five years since the 2010 La Nińa are the five hottest on record in southwest Western Australia (ranked 2011, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012).
What are the impacts?

The world’s oceans play a major role in global climate by absorbing surplus heat and energy. Oceans have absorbed 93% of the extra heat trapped by the Earth since 1970 as the greenhouse effect has increased. This has lowered the rate at which the atmosphere is warming – which is a good thing.

However, it also means the oceans are heating up, raising sea levels as well as leading to more indirect impacts, such as shifting rainfall patterns.

As a nation that likes to live by the coast as well as enjoy recreation activities and harvest produce from the sea, warmer-than-usual oceans can have significant impacts.

Australia derives a lot of its income from its oceans and while such impacts aren’t often seen immediately, they become apparent over time.

Warm sea temperatures this summer and in the past have seen declines in coral reef health, and strains on commercial fisheries and aquaculture. The Great Barrier Reef is currently experiencing coral bleaching amid very warm water temperatures.

Our neighbouring Pacific islands have also seen the impacts of these very high sea surface temperatures, with recent mass fish kills and coral bleaching episodes in Fiji.

The impacts of warmer ocean temperatures are also felt on land, as ocean temperatures drive climate and weather. Abnormally high sea surface temperatures may have contributed to the intensity of Cyclone Winston as cyclone potential intensity increases with ocean temperature.


Public servants must not criticize their departments?

Soviet attitudes in Australia?  Fortunately knocked on the head this time

The extraordinary lengths public service bosses will go to in pursuit of internal critics has been exposed by a Fair Work Commission unfair dismissal case.

Details of the hunt by Department of Human Services managers for one its employees who criticised the department in online forums, read more like an FBI crime thriller than routine public service business.

And the Commission's decision has dealt a serious blow to the Australian Public Service's crackdown on the social media use of its employees.

In a damaging outcome to the department, FWC also found it used one of its official social media channels to supply misleading information to the public and that DHS sacked its internal critic after he told the truth about waiting times.

Centrelink worker Daniel Starr was tracked-down and sacked after he went online to contradict the department's "ridiculous assertions" about Centrelink waiting times, blasted some of his colleagues and wrote that he had no idea what senior DHS managers did with their time.

But the department will now have to give the 21-year-veteran his job back in a decision that is a serious blow to the Australian Public Service's policies on the social media activities of its workers.

The Fair Work Commission found public servants were not bound by their code-of-conduct to show deference to the government while on their own free time.

Commission Vice-President Adam Hatcher found the Public Service Act gave departments no general right to discipline their employees for political speech outside of working hours and such powers would be a "gross intrusion into the non-working lives and rights of public servants."

In April, 2015, Mr Starr, posting on a forum as user "mmmdl" engaged in an online argument with an official DHS account, Flick@HumanServices, about waiting times for youth allowance claims.

Mmmdl accused the department of "ridiculous assertions" and urged other users to contact their MPs about the "utterly disgraceful" situation.

Then the hunt for Mr Starr began, ordered by senior DHS bureaucrats Mark Withnell and Melissa Ryan, Vice President Hatcher noted in his decision.

"I would infer that this (investigation) involved a wholesale trawl through all of "mmmdl's" online posts, since it was discovered from those posts that "mmmdl" claimed that he was approximately 39 years old in January 2015, had been employed at Centrelink for 20 years, lived opposite the Telstra exchange in Corrimal, and would be travelling overseas during late May to early June 2015," Mr Hartcher wrote.

"These claims were matched with the Department's internal data sources, and permitted "mmmdl" to be identified with a high degree of confidence as Mr Starr."

Mr Starr took to the Sportal forum in 2013 to write about cuts to the public service.

"?Part of that "?understaffing"? is the fact that, yes, we have our share of utterly useless people that couldn't get a job anywhere else ... I honestly have zero idea what all our managers do, especially the higher managers.

"None at all.ť"



University of Queensland Union to host bake sale that charges based on gender

A bake sale that will charge customers based on their gender for a 'Feminist Week' at the University of Queensland has sparked outrage online with some students calling it discriminatory.

University of Queensland Union posted a list of events for an organised 'Feminist Week' from April 4-8 to their website including a Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale at the campus on Tuesday.

The University of Queensland Union is holding a bake sale to celebrate Feminist Week - but not everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too.

The event welcomes anyone to come and purchase a baked good, but created cost divisions between men and women.

"Each baked good will only cost you the proportion of $1.00 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods with cost you $1.00!)," the UQU outlined on their site.

"For example, if you are a woman of colour in the legal profession, a baked good at the stall will only cost you 0.55 cents!."

Many voiced their outrage at the bake sale by commenting on a post put up by UQ student Ashley Millsteed to the UQ Stalkerspace Facebook page that called the bake sale discriminatory, citing the Queensland's 1991 Anti Discrimination Act and the national 1984 Sex Discrimination Act.

"UQU, which is meant to represent all students, is engaging in conduct that's blatantly discriminatory against men to try and make some asinine political point," he wrote.

"What's interesting is that this bake sale itself constitutes discrimination under both Queensland and Federal Anti-Discrimination law."

"This is incredibly disappointing. Shame on UQU for condoning this. This is exactly why more people are starting to reject feminism. It's insulting to the women (and men) who fought, and who continue to fight for equality," wrote another commentator.

The gender pay gap is the difference between women's and men's average weekly full-time equivalent earnings and is influenced by a number of factors including work, family and society.

The gender pay gap sits at 17.3% as of March 2016, the government funded Workplace Gender Equality Agency found.

UQ School of Education associate professor and gender studies co-convenor Liz MacKinlay said the bake sale was a clever way of raising attention.

"When we ask people to check their privilege and think about equality the people who are privileged seem to get the most upset because they have the most to lose," she said.

"The reality is that people who are not privileged don't get the choice to get upset or not because as soon as they raise their voice it is silenced."

"If people are upset about it, the next question that needs to be asked is 'Why are you upset about that? Think logically about the reasons why you are upset.

"You are being asked to think about why it might be that women get paid less over the course of their lifetime."

Professor MacKinlay said she gets "pretty frustrated" when she hears people calling events like the bake sale discriminatory.

"I get pretty frustrated when I hear people saying 'What about the men, isn't that discriminatory, isn't it reverse-sexism?'," she said.

"Many men generally speaking have the extra pay as an unearned privilege while women are disadvantaged and people of colour are disadvantaged and minority groups and people who don't conform to binary genders are disadvantaged.

"If we actually looked at that the work women do to raise children at home, what cost would we be putting on that, how much is that worth to us?."

UQU women's officer Madeline Price helped organise 'Feminist Week', which runs each semester, and said it was interesting that out of all the events, the bake sale had generated the most discussion.

"If people are upset they have to pay 35c more for a cupcake, how do you think the person who earns that much less per dollar each year for the same work feels?," she said.

"(The bake sale prices) look at every identity factor that that person identifies with, we have a comparison chart for all professions, and include such intersections as gender, disability, race, sexual identity and ethnicity.

"Most of the discussion generated online is about how discriminatory it is against men when in reality it is based on a lot of other factors, more than just gender."


Outrage over child photos ignores law and logic

This week's non-story concerned the use of stock photos of happy kids and families by Barnardo's Find A Family program to promote adoption. That this story was beaten up by 'outraged' anti-adoption groups is revealing of their agenda.

The simple explanation is that privacy laws prevent the use of real images of children awaiting adoption. However, this logical legality wasn't good enough for the Australian Adoptee Rights Action Group, which reached into its stock bag of slogans to assert that the ads represented the "commodification" of children.

This slur, which implies that adoption represents an illegitimate trade in children, is wrong-headed. The alternative to adoption for children with no prospect of going home safely is to spend the rest of their childhoods in care.

The current child protection system truly turns children into valuable commodities. Those who spend the majority of childhood in care are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funding to the non-government charitable organisations that provide outsourced 'out-of-home' care services.

This is the system into which vulnerable children are eventually dumped after being profoundly damaged by prolonged exposure to abuse in the family home, before they are further damaged by spending extended periods in highly unstable 'temporary' care while efforts are made to reunite them with their dysfunctional families.

Adoption reform is about breaking this destructive cycle by intervening earlier to rescue children and provide them with the permanent and stable families they need to thrive.

None of this cuts any ice with anti-adoption groups because most of these activists were adopted and had negative experiences.

This was usually in the days when adoptions were 'closed', and lack of contact with and knowledge of biological families and heritages affected the sense of identity and belonging of some (but by no means all) adoptees. We have learned from these mistakes and harm done, which is why modern adoption are always 'open' in the best long-term interests of children.

Despite this, the anti-adoption movement encourages risk-adverse attitudes by arguing that because some adoptions have been unsuccessful, there must be no adoptions under any circumstances. In practice, this means taking a risk-blind attitude and overlooking the harm that the current system is doing to many children.

 The seeming belief that successful adoptions will invalidate the personal experiences of anti-adoption activist's verges on the narcissistic. It ignores the good that adoption would do for many children caught up in our flawed and failed child protection system.


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

5 April, 2016

Generation Y are at risk of becoming the first generation in modern history to be worse off than their parents

Jennifer Rayner writes below a long and well-informed article about the difficulties young people have in getting good jobs.  She says that something must be done but has no idea what.  So I thought I might mention some of the things that could and should be done to improve the prospects of the young.

I have mentioned previously how important useful education is.  If kids learnt at school how to program a computer instead of learning how to save the planet or explore their sexuality, there would be a huge improvement.  I mentioned previously that my son got a job within hours of making his first job application as a "developer" (computer programmer).  The course he did left him with an accomplished body of work on the net and that was gold to prospective employers. And $200,000 a year is a reasonable expectation for him in the fulness of time.

So being useful is the ultra-simple recipe for getting a good job.  In fact, if you are useful, jobs can emerge.  A job that was never advertised can materialize out of thin air if someone knows you are useful.  When I moved from Brisbane to Sydney many years ago, I wanted a job so looked up a Sydney businessman I knew and asked him if he needed anybody.  He knew that I was at that time something of an expert on die-head chasers (Don't ask.  It's in mechanical engineering) so his respect for that skill caused him to invent a job for me immediately.

So the number one thing that an individual can do for themselves is to choose their education with realistic and practical goals in mind. 

But there are also things that the government could do.  The simplest would be to abolish the minimum wage.  Many skills cannot really be taught at school.  They have to be learnt on the job.  I learnt about die-head chasers through working in a transmission machinery firm.  So that is the famous "experience" that employers demand.  They want you to have job knowledge. But how can you get that experience?  Without a statutory minimum wage you could negotiate a very low initial wage that would make it worthwhile for an employer to take you on while you gain experience.  And once you have that experience you can move up.

Unpaid "internships" are being used for "experience" purposes to some degree lately but wouldn't it be better to earn SOME money in your first job?  And unpaid internships are basically possible only for kids with rich parents.

And a HUGE problem for the young these days is the high cost of housing.  But that could rapidly be ameliorated by governments too:  Stop all immigration.  Australia has a high rate of immigration and home building cannot keep up.  So you effectively have an ever larger number of people to be accommodated and an almost fixed stock of housing to accommodate them.  And we all know what higher demand does without a commensurate increase in supply:  Prices rise.  It's the good old and completely unrepealable law of supply and demand.  And stopping all immigration, or almost all, would be popular too.

Neither of the government actions I have mentioned are likely to happen so perhaps I can point to some areas of hope.

One of the big things holding up housing provision is land use restriction -- "zoning" enforced by local councils and State governments.  This is a well-known bottleneck and councils are hopefully increasingly aware of how destructive such policies are.  Greenies are one of the major groups obstructing release of land for housing but they never relent on anything.  They just have to be defeated politically.

But most hopefully of all, the flood of Chinese money coming in to support apartment construction at the moment should knock down both rents and purchase prices in the not too distant future.  Apartment building are springing up like mushrooms in the major capital cities at the moment.  All that extra supply should lower prices

I WILL be 30 soon. At that age my mum and dad were settled, prosperous parents of three. Homeowners; tenured workers tucking away super and long service leave; possessors of both everyday and special-­occasion cutlery.

I see now that they were the benchmark I instinctively set my expectations against. Growing up in the striving suburbia of Hawke and Howard, I never doubted that my friends and I would lead lives that eclipsed theirs.

I didn’t doubt we’d continue the golden trend tracing back to the Great Depression, yet another Australian generation to enjoy more wealth and opportunity than our parents did.

I doubt it now.

As I look around the bar on a Friday after five, I see none of the steady satisfaction that brimmed from my parents and their peers. Instead, I see young people squeezed by creeping pressures not of their making and largely beyond their control.

I find 20-­somethings living out an ever-extending adolescence as the building blocks for a stable, comfortable life slip further from their reach. I hear brittle laughter at black jokes about renting till 50 and retiring beyond the grave.

I see my generation becoming the first in more than 80 years to go backwards in work, wealth and wellbeing.

This is not a whine from entitled Generation Y. If you’re already firing up to dismiss the article in those terms, stay your snark for a moment.

This is a warning about the waves of demographic, economic and social change that are already breaking over young Australians. Left unchecked, these changes will lead to rising intergenerational inequality in this country.

Just as we have seen a growing gap between rich and poor over recent decades, we’re beginning to see young and old pull apart in ways that will wear out our communal bonds.

If you’re uncomfortable taking a young woman’s word for it, allow me to deliver you the same message from an old white man instead.

In February 2014, leading economist and Deloitte Access Economics director Chris Richardson told the Australian Financial Review: “There is a stunning generational unfairness in our settings, and all those disengaged young Australians need to wake up to the fact they’re being massively screwed.”

It isn’t just young Australians who need to wake up to this fact. It’s all of us. This country is so busy planning for the looming grey tsunami that we’re letting an entire generation fall behind. If we don’t think harder about building a future for the old and the young, my friends and I will be just the first of many generations to face lives of shrinking opportunity.

I don’t believe Australians want that. I think we want to be a country that does right by all its people; a community that can take care of the old without making second-­class citizens of the young.

To do that, we first need to recognise where we’re going wrong. Then we need to find the will to fix it.

Some things I gained in five years juggling multiple jobs in restaurants and bars: a revulsion for the milky­sweet smell of Baileys. The ability to count up to 20 in Thai. A sixth sense about which ones will be waiting for you in the car park at the end of your shift.

Things I did not gain: more than $3000 in superannuation. Sick leave. Permanent work or transferable skills.

My time as a casual worker in strip­lit kitchens and gummy­floored bars was mercifully brief compared with that of some of my friends, who are still pulling beers as our 30s loom. It paid the bills (just) while I studied and kept me from relying too heavily on the grudging beneficence of Centrelink.

In truth, I remember only bits and pieces about the individual jobs. But what clings to those years like a sour incense is the memory of how utterly powerless I felt.

I could do nothing when the manager called at 8am to say I wouldn’t be needed that day. I had no recourse when I was sent to work in the smoking lounge of the pub despite asthma that had me gasping for air by the end of my shift. I had little option but to agree when the boss suggested I’d be better off getting paid cash in hand with no tax questions asked.

Throughout those years, if I was sick: that was my problem. If I couldn’t make a shift: there were often no more after that. If I had a concern, a complaint or even a question: no one wanted to hear it.

That powerlessness is what hundreds of thousands of young Australians feel as they try to navigate their first steps into the job market.

Economics editor of The Australian David Uren argues it is now harder for young people to get reliable, well-paid work than at any time in the past 20 years — and back then there was a vast recession on. Many of the doorways that our parents and grandparents passed through on their way to full employment have been closed and bricked up for good.

That’s because the world of work is changing; everyone knows this.

We feel it like an absence, a growing blank space at the centre of our economic life. The awareness seeps into those of us who’ve joined the job market more recently through the growing drought of permanent positions, the ceaseless hustle for that next contract role, the pressure to update skills we’ve only just attained. It is the product of structural and technological tides that no country can entirely levee against.

But while the changing nature of work affects us all, not all of us have been equally affected. Rather, Australians in their late teens and 20s have lost far more ground than others. The gap between green workers and grey ones is widening on measures of underemployment, wage growth and casualisation.

Taken together, these trends risk creating a working underclass of the young.

Take underemployment, for example. Being underemployed might be preferable to having no work at all, but plenty of people will tell you that it’s a stressful and grinding life.

Underemployment is particularly rife in sectors like hospitality and retail, where shifts can get cut with a few minutes’ notice if the customers aren’t flowing.

I once worked a waitressing job where my weekly hours ranged from 10 to 25 depending on how badly the business was going that week. On those paydays when my envelope had only a couple of yellow notes in it, I’d stuff stock cubes and dried shrimps from the restaurant’s kitchen into my pockets on the way out the door. You can make a surprisingly tasty soup by boiling those ingredients with a kettle of Maggi noodles.

There have always been more young Australians struggling to get enough work than older ones, but where fewer than one in 30 young people said they were underemployed in the 1970s, the figure now stands at about one in six.

The most obvious and direct impact of underemployment is money; or rather, the lack of it.

Having insufficient work means living payday to payday, with little or nothing left over at the end of each week to put aside. This leads to a reliance on credit cards to cover costs like uni books and bills, and loans when a car breaks down or a bond must be paid.

Young Australians are carrying more debt than ever before. The escalating problem of underemployment is one reason so many of my peers can’t get ahead financially.

There’s been plenty of fiery debate in recent years about the growing gap between the “1 per cent” and the rest of us. But I’ve yet to see anyone point out that wage inequality is also mushrooming between different age groups.

The gap is opening up because over the past two decades wage growth has been much slower for young workers than for their elders.

Adjusted to 2013 dollars, weekly mean fulltime earnings for people in their early 20s grew by $190 between 1990 and 2013. But for people in their early 50s, wages grew by $577. Older Australians now earn more than $600 a week more than younger workers, up from just $220 a week more 20 years ago.

None of this is intentional. No dastardly government set out to design the difficult job market young Australians are struggling to enter today (although some have been blithely indifferent to how their policies have exacerbated the problem).

It’s just sour luck that there have been enormous structural changes in employment over the past 30 years; changes that have primarily hit the lower end of the job market, where young people seek a first foothold.

The rise in underemployment and casual work among 20-­somethings (and to some extent, higher unemployment) stems from the loss of quality low-­skill white and blue collar jobs that gave many of our parents their pathway into the job market.

With those jobs gone, we are forced to gather instead in industries where work is less secure. Casual jobs in insecure sectors like hospitality and retail don’t only come with fewer rights and conditions. They also offer fewer opportunities for skills development and career advancement.

Young people who start their working lives here risk getting stuck in a cycle of insecure work as they grow older, watching mutely as better-­trained workers move on and up.

Our nation is not unique in this; almost every advanced economy is dealing with similar structural shifts in employment thanks to changing technology and globalisation. But that doesn’t mean we’re powerless to tackle the inequalities this is creating.

In May 2015 current Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Martin Parkinson got to his feet to deliver the graduating address at the University of Adelaide. This is what he told the bright, accomplished young men and women who sat before him on the cusp of their adult lives:

“My generation has failed you ... despite having benefited from massive growth in living standards, income and wealth. We rode the benefits of others’ reform efforts, and thought that success was our doing,” he said.

“In the process, we conflated self-­interest with national interest. We lost sight of the big picture and applauded the things that made me better off, irrespective of the cost to others in our community, or to future generations ... your generation is at risk of being the first in modern history whose living standards will be lower than those of their parents ... And the longer we wait to address today’s challenges ... the greater the damage wilfully being done to future living standards.”

I don’t think a more honest set of sentences has been spoken by an Australian public figure in at least a decade.

Mr Parkinson was prepared to face up to something we all need now to admit: things can’t go on as they are. We are seeing the development of a lopsided Australia where young and old live differently.

Good jobs, comfortable wealth and the wellbeing that comes with both are increasingly being concentrated in the arthritic hands of older people. Meanwhile, younger Australians are forced to live with less: crappier work, lower wealth and worse wellbeing.

This inequality is already a reality for my generation. I can’t stress enough that we carry the weight of it heavily. We experience the unfairness daily in the gap between our means and the milestones of traditional adulthood. We sense it in the divergence between our aspirations and the opportunities in front of us.

If we don’t do something about these problems, those coming after us will know deeper inequity still.


Is this the moment Australia finally lost the plot to political correctness?

Schools ban the phrase ‘sitting a test’ because some children might have to stand during assessments

Guidelines have been introduced by meaning that school children are now required to 'take' tests or assessments instead of 'sitting' them.

Taking political correctness to a new level, the unwritten instructions are being used in the annual NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) tests.

The changes are based on the fact that not every child may do exams in a seated position.

One educator said that there might be children who couldn't sit down for assessments, reported The Daily Telegraph. 'It could be a disabled child or one that has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who has to answer the questions while standing up.'

The words 'maths' and 'numbers' must also now be referred to as 'mathematics'.  


There are no longer any children in immigration detention in Australia but 50 are still languishing on Nauru

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed there are no children in detention on the mainland for the first time in a decade.

The last group - which included a baby, a toddler and a 17-year-old - left Darwin's Wickham Point detention centre on Friday.

Under the previous Labor government the number of asylum seeker children in detention in Australia peaked at close to 2000 in mid-2013.

Mr Dutton admitted that the last 100 cases had been complicated.

In a handful of cases one parent had been subject to a negative security assessment from the national spy agency but the whole family had been in detention so they wouldn't be separated.

"In some cases I've had to say we're not going to let the father out because ASIO has a security concern about him, but we will let the mother and children into the community," Mr Dutton told 3AW Radio on Sunday.

Mr Dutton acknowledged it was cheaper to have people housed in the community rather than in detention centres and it was better for mental health.

But he maintains that processing asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea remains an important deterrent to stop the flow of asylum seeker boats and deaths at sea.

He pointed out there were 14,000 asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia, who potentially may still try to get boats to Australia.

Asked about the plight of children on Nauru, Mr Dutton said the federal government was working to secure arrangements with third countries to take asylum seekers and refugees from the Pacific island because they won't be coming to Australia.

He insisted the children were getting health care and education access on the island.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said her party was delighted there are no children in detention in Australia.

"What shocks me is that processing times have blown up to 445 days under this government," she said.


Qld government grants Adani coal mine leases

So the mine has now received both State and Federal approval  -- to the frustration of the Greenies.  Greenies have an instinctive hatred of ALL mines.  Rationality seems to play no part in that.  They want EVERYTHING to remain untouched, including the ground underneath our feet

The Queensland government has granted three mining leases for Adani's multi-billion dollar Carmichael coal mine, which will be the largest in Australia.

Green groups say the mine will fuel global warming and compound threats to the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, amid one of its worst coral bleaching events on record.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham made the announcement in Mackay today.

The premier put the value of the project at $21.7 billion and says the approvals mean thousands of new jobs are now a step closer to reality.

Ms Palaszczuk said the move marked a new era of the resources sector.

'Today is a very significant step because it demonstrates my government's 100 per cent committment to creating jobs across Queensland and jobs in regional Queensland,' she said.

'What we have been experiencing here especially here in central Queensland and the northern parts of our state, has been a downturn in the mining community.'

Earlier today, the Australian Conservation Foundation questioned whether Adani had pressured the mines minister to abandon his stated concerns about granting mining licences before court challenges had concluded.

Adani said the approvals meant it could proceed to the next stage of development but acknowledged ongoing uncertainty from unresolved legal challenges 'by politically-motivated activists'.

It said a final investment decision would not be made until the court challenges were resolved, and it had secured the final approvals it needs.

'Having previously sought to progress to the construction phase in 2015, Adani is keenly aware of the risks of proceeding on major works in advance of the conclusion of these matters,' the company said in a statement.

It also took a swipe at processes it said had held up a very significant project for Australia.

'The granting of the mining lease, coupled with strict and rigorous science-based environmental approvals, underlines the importance of major projects in Queensland, and in Australia more broadly, not being subject to endless red tape, after approving authorities have exhaustively examined them over some six years.'


Shriek over possible Australian investment in new coal mine

The shriek is below complete with all the wrong and stupid Warmist assumptions we have heard so often

It was all over the news in India. The Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley would be meeting Future Fund chairman Peter Costello to discuss using the Fund to help finance Adani’s Carmichael coal mine. There was no announcement of the meeting in Australia, but the questions must be asked: how should Australia’s sovereign wealth fund be used, and should it, a “future” fund, be considering the energy projects of the past?

The prospect of Costello dedicating sovereign funds to the massive coal mine in the Galilee Basin is so misguided. Future energy investment lies in renewables, not coal, and this trend is already playing out worldwide. The Australian economy already runs a real risk of becoming fossilised, caught in the past and missing out on the huge investment market in renewable energy as the world inevitably decarbonises and shifts to a zero emissions economy.

This global transition to renewables is an unavoidable condition for containing global warming below 2C. The future is renewables, the past is coal, and the economic benefits are easy to highlight.

In this transition, Australia stands to attract a major portion of the $2.3tn annual trade value from emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries, like cement, steel, and aluminium. In this era, countries with abundant, cheap, high quality renewable energy will attract these industries.

The Renewable Energy Superpower report to be released in Sydney on Monday 4 April shows that Australia is consistently in the global top three of countries with economic wind and solar energy resources, whether based on energy production potential per square kilometre, energy production potential from total land area, energy production potential from un-utilised land area, or energy production potential from rural land area.

Under various scenarios developed by the International Energy Agency for their World Energy Outlook, investment in renewables and energy efficiency will make up around half of the future investment in energy in the next two decades, with investment in coal only making up 1-2%.

Whichever scenario the IEA looks at, renewables and energy efficiency attracts more investment in the next two decades than coal, oil and gas combined. Some $28tn is expected to be invested globally in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2035.

Investment in renewables and energy efficiency globally is already large – around US$390bn is estimated to have been invested in 2013 alone, according to the International Energy Agency. In order to contain global warming to the 2C, the IEA estimates the annual investment in this market to more than double by 2020 to around US$750bn annually, and then to grow exponentially to US$2,300bn annually by 2035.

It also estimates that the renewables dominated power sector and energy efficiency markets will be 20-40 times the value of future coal sector development. The other important point that is relevant to Australia is that power sector and energy efficiency investment is skewed towards Australia’s neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region (40%) compared to global fossil energy investment (25%).

So how large is Australia’s renewable energy resource? While it is widely accepted that the total renewable energy resource across Australia is significant, the Superpower report conservatively models only the solar and wind resource that is available within 10kms of Australia’s existing electricity grid and able to generate power at a price competitive with other new power stations.

This is the resource that is immediately available to the existing electricity grid. The results are staggering even when only this small portion of Australia’s total renewable energy resource is captured – it is equivalent to 5000 exajoules, enough to power the world for 10 years.

Put another way, this solar and wind resource is greater than Australia’s coal, oil, gas and nuclear resources combined.

Many proponents of fossil fuels argue that there are enough fossil fuels to power the world for hundreds of years, that coal is cheaper and is good for humanity. These arguments ignore the reality that burning fossil fuels is incompatible with meeting the globally agreed goal of limiting warming to 2C, that new renewables are cheaper than new coal and new gas, and that many developing countries want solar.

In the decarbonised world in which we are heading, Australia will be a renewable energy superpower if it plays its investment cards right. If we are serious about our Future Fund funding the future for all Australians, it is renewables – not coal – where the investments must be made.


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

4 April, 2016

Still no closure in murder of schoolgirl Leanne Holland

The refusal to take this case further is a shocking case of police petulance.  Here is what may lie behind that:

"The Crime and Misconduct Commission continues to probe Detective Senior-Sergeant Graham Richards, the officer who arrested and charged Stafford for the brutal slaying. Sgt Richards was last month identified as one of four officers at the centre of an investigation by the CMC over alleged improper relationships between prisoners and police. Sgt Richards, the officer in charge of Rockhampton CIB, has been stood down pending the outcome of that investigation"

And there's this:

"A PETITION seeking to pardon convicted killer Graham Stafford will point the finger at three men suspected of Leanne Holland's murder. Stafford's legal team is preparing documents containing new evidence to present to the Governor, Quentin Bryce, in a bid to clear Stafford, 43, of the killing of the 12-year-old in 1991. The petition will focus on three men. Two are serving life sentences for unrelated murders. The third was released from jail in 2003 after serving seven years for rape"

So the police claim that a wrongfully convicted man is the only suspect is just wrong.  What seems to be driving them is embarrassment about how badly the initial investigation that led to the wrongful conviction was carried out.  There was shocking negligence in both the investigation and the prosecution.

If the matter were taken further and the real culprit were identified they would face huge criticism.  Interstate police should be brought in to mount a new investigation

THE man who went to trial over the murder of schoolgirl Leanne Holland has called for a coronial inquest into her death, despite police saying he is the only suspect.

Graham Stafford, 52, told The Sunday Mail an inquest would give answers into the death of the 12-year-old Goodna girl who was murdered in 1991.

Leanne’s body was found partly naked and dumped in bushland in Redbank Plains, about 10km from her home.

Mr Stafford, who at the time was dating Leanne’s sister Melissa, served 14 years’ jail before his 1992 murder conviction was quashed. He has always maintained his innocence.

“I have no fears what would be dug up in a coroner’s inquest,” Mr Stafford told The Sunday Mail.

“Unfortunately, Terry (Leanne’s father) is no longer with us and I don’t think Melissa has ever given a response so I don’t know what her feelings are (about an inquest).”

After Mr Stafford’s conviction was quashed in 2009, the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial but the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions refused.

A 2012 police report found there was enough evidence to send him back to trial. However, the DPP ruled it out and said it was not in the public interest.

Former attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie then sought independent legal advice which found there was basis for prosecution but it was not worth pursuing charges.

Mr Stafford said police had refused to release the 2012 report through a Right to Information request, stating it was legally privileged, and he had since lodged an appeal.

“They have what they claim is the opportunity to take me back to court and bolster the case, and they don’t even want to discuss it,” Mr Stafford said.

“The taxpayers paid for this report. It took them close to three years for them to come up with it and now it just conveniently passes away.”

A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said any request for an inquest should comply with the Coroners Act 1958 and detail the reasons to justify holding it.

“I understand no such request has been made,” she said.


Anti-Islam banner displayed at football match in Melbourne

The banner is entirely reasonable if you have read the Koran.  The Jihadis are just doing what the Koran commands.  So a Muslim just has to become more religiously motivated to wage jihad.  And hatred of Western civilization repeatedly preached in the mosques is a major influence in pushing young Muslims to Jihad.  So the Muslim population as a whole is the problem.  Any one of them at any time could decide to wage murderous Jihad against us.  Many have done so in the past and many will do so in the future.

We should be entitled to protect ourselves from such a menace. Pretending that Islam is a religion of peace makes ostriches look alert.  Brussels is the seat of the EU which has parceled out million to Muslims, including great gobs of cash to Palestinian terrorists. Did this blood money buy Belgium any goodwill?

Leader of the United Patriots Front Blake Cottrell has appeared in a video to explain the controversial reason why members of the extreme far-right political group held up a banner emblazoned with 'Stop The Mosques' at an AFL match.

Mentioning the Lindt Cafe siege and the shooting of Parramatta police worker Curtis Cheng, Mr Cottrell said in the video he is 'concerned about the future' of Australia and called for the removal of 'places of worship and segregated communities for a foreign power which [don't] like us.'

The anti-Islamic banner was unfurled during the second quarter Collingwood-Richmond match at the MCG in Melbourne on Friday night with a prominent United Patriots Front logo.

'You think i'm peddling fear? I'm concerned about the future of my country and I'm realistic about the people being brought into this country - that they aren't like us and never will be like us,' Mr Cottrell said in the video.

Following the stunt, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire calling for those responsible to be banned from attending games.  'If they have anything to do with our club, they'll be banned,' he said.

In the video, Mr Cottrell claimed the group used the banner to make 'a set of predictions' about how the AFL would react to the stunt.  'It's the left wing progressives that spread fear of social and financial strangulation if the people don't do what they ask and even the AFL is subject to them is under their control,' he said.

A video taken at the match and posted to the UPF Facebook page with the caption 'Rise Without Fear' shows the banner being hoisted up below one of the MCG's large LED screens. 

The AFL issued a statement saying the actions 'no place in society' and the league would also work with police.

'Match-day security removed the banner when they became aware of it and evicted the patrons responsible.

The UPF campaign heavily against Islamic immigration, proposed mosques and halal food.

The group regularly post videos and images to their Facebook page to promote their slogans and messages that primarily discriminates against Muslims.


March temperatures sets record as hottest ever, Bureau of Meteorology says

As Australia is in the South Pacific, it is a bullseye for El Nino -- and this is a strong El Nino that demonstrably pushed up 2015 temps up all by itself.  CO2 levels were static (they just oscillated around 400ppm) for the whole of 2015 according to Mauna Loa.   So the caution expressed below is commendable: "Climate change is thought to be adding to the unusual heat".  No harm in thinking

You could be forgiven for not noticing the end of summer — March was a hot one.

Information released by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) indicated it was the hottest March on record, reaching 1.7 degrees Celsius above the long-term average.

This eclipsed the 1986 record of 1.67 degrees above the average, BoM said in its monthly climate report.

The unusual heat was particularly noticed in the Top End, where the failure of the monsoon allowed temperatures to creep up.

This, coupled with a high pressure system off the east coast of Australia, caused a heatwave strong enough to prompt BoM to issue a special climate statement about the phenomenon.

March 2 became Australia's hottest day on record. Averaged across the country, it reached a top of 38 degrees Celsius.

There was no relief overnight either with minimum overnight temperatures the warmest ever, smashing the 1983 record by 0.83 degrees.

The hot March came on the back of the hottest February globally, and the hottest year for 2015.

A strong El Nino weather pattern prevailed at the start of the year, which has traditionally been associated with hotter weather.  Although the El Nino is weakening, the heat effects are expected to persist for a few more months.

Climate change is thought to be adding to the unusual heat.

The scorching start to 2016 prompted Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel to warn that the world was "losing the battle" against climate change.


Labor's hypocrisy over shipbuilding

Defence Minister Marise Payne has accused Labor of extreme hypocrisy over shipbuilding, insisting the opposition never placed a single ship order during six years in government.

It comes after leader Bill Shorten challenged the federal government to commit to building submarines in Australia, accusing it of abandoning blue-collar workers.

'It is hypocritical in the extreme and they should be exposed for the absolute hypocrites that they are,' Senator Payne told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

Addressing a shipbuilders' rally in Adelaide, Mr Shorten criticised coalition MPs for not having the 'intestinal fortitude' to make a commitment.  He said he was gravely concerned Australia would see the demise of manufacturing in Australia if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was re-elected later this year.

Labor was committed to supporting the building and maintenance of submarines in South Australia, supporting a continuous build until the submarine contracts came online, he said.

'This submarine battle is not just about the submarines,' he told Saturday's rally. 'It's actually about do we want to be a country that makes things in Australia?'

Mr Shorten argued the prime minister was too focused on his own job - rather than the issues faced by the manufacturing industry.

Senator Payne in March confirmed Spanish shipbuilder Navantia had been selected as the preferred tenderer to construct urgently needed replacements of replenishment vessels HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius.

The decision sparked outrage from Labor and shipbuilders, angry that shipbuilding dollars were being sent overseas while Australia's own industry was on life support.  Mr Shorten said it was a 'terrible decision', vowing to make manufacturing and jobs a core election issue.


BOOM: Australian manufacturing hits a 12-year high

So much for the "the demise of manufacturing in Australia"

Activity levels across Australia’s manufacturing sector expanded at the their fastest pace in over a decade in March.

The Ai Group manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) jumped by 4.6 points to 58.1, leaving the index at the highest level seen since April 2004.

The PMI measures changes in activity levels from one month to the next, with 50 signifying that activity levels were unchanged from one month earlier. At 58.1, this signals that manufacturing activity levels are not only expanding, but roaring higher.

Even excluding the fact the series tends to be volatile, the series’ three-month average — a better gauge of the overall trend — rose to 54.4, a level not seen since June 2010.

While a far smaller industry that which it once was, this is a good sign that Australia’s economic transition is gathering momentum, fitting with recent improvements in recent business indicators.

Like the headline reading, the internal composition of the March report was equally impressive.

Production and employment expanded strongly while new orders and exports, lead indicators for future demand, jumped by 9.3 points and 3.5 points to 61.7 and 57.2 respectively.

The table below, supplied by the Ai Group, reveals the impressive internal details. The sub-indices use three-month moving averages, providing a better guide to the overall trend in each.

By sector, five of eight saw activity levels improve from one month earlier with the largest — food, beverages and tobacco — jumping 9.3 points to 71.0, marking the fastest expansion seen in the history of the survey.

Understandably, Innes Willox, CEO of the Ai Group, was impressed with the result.

“Growth in manufacturing production, sales, employment, exports and new orders fueled a surge in March,” said Willox. “Significantly, the important machinery and equipment subsector, which has been buffeted by the step-down in mining investment and the fading auto assembly sector, moved out of contraction in March for the first time in more than four years.”

Willox suggests the lower Australian dollar has played a major role in the recovery, seeing activity levels expand for the past nine months, the longest stretch seen since 2006.

“The strong manufacturing performance and its expansionary run since the middle of 2015 are in large part due to the boost provided by the lower Australian dollar,” he said.

“Even though the dollar has appreciated quite strongly since mid-January, the local currency is still close to 30 per cent lower against the US dollar and almost 20 per cent lower against the Trade Weighted Index compared with three years ago.”

“The positive impacts of this depreciation have taken some time to accumulate as businesses have become more confident that it will be sustained. With momentum positive and new orders growing strongly, the positive trend appears to have some way to run.”

Of course, the Australian dollar has appreciated significantly over the past month, providing a test to the sector should it be sustained for a considerable period of time.

“The sharp lift in the value of the Australian dollar over the past two and a half months will test some manufacturers and, if maintained, can be expected to slow the pace of recovery over the months ahead,” said Willox.

Market attention will now turn to the Ai Group’s services and construction PMI reports that will be released next week. Should those significantly larger sectors show a similar improvement, it suggests that Australia’s economic rebalancing is gathering pace.


3 April, 2016

Waleed Ali has a good imagination

Waleed Ali is an Australian-born Muslim lawyer.  He is the go-to Muslim for the Leftist media.  He has a long screed below about how weird Australians are.  They are weird because there have been a few media discussions about the right way to describe white settlement in Australia.  He seems to think such discussions are illegitimate.  Since there is disagreement about it, I would have thought such discussions to be perfectly normal. It is just one of the many things that arise for public discussion all the time.

And there is something to discuss.  Calling white settlement of Australia an invasion conjures up visions of an armed force arriving and doing battle with another armed force to take possession of territory.  But the white settlement of Australia was nothing like that.  The whites who arrived under Governor Phillip in 1788 encountered no systematic resistance at all.  Basically, the Aborigines just looked on in astonishment. There were one or two minor skirmishes after a while but that was all.  So calling the British arrival an invasion is misleading.  And why it is not sufficient to say simply that the British expeditioners "settled" in Australia escapes me.  That says nothing about who else might have been there at the time.

So if this passing topic of conversation has any implications at all I would say that it is just another instance of Leftists using misleading language and others insisting on greater  terminological accuracy.  All the vast implications for Australian souls that Aly writes about are just figments of his imagination. 

I grew up among working class Australians of the same British ancestry as mine and I can assure one and all that in that environment, on the rare occasions when it is mentioned, the topic of Aboriginal displacement evokes mild sympathy but absolutely no Angst.  Leftist might agonize but agonizing is what Leftists do

Leftists cannot cope at all with carefully expressed conservative thought.  Confronted with that, all they can do is stick fingers in their ears or run away.  So the focus of their criticism is always on  impromptu and less well educated  conservative utterances.  They reveal their own limitations in doing that. Waleed Ali does

This "lowest common denominator" representation of conservatives is a common Leftist strategy.  I wish I had kept a link to it but around ten years ago I saw a New York Times article about conservatism that was illustrated by a picture of a snaggle-toothed Appalachian.  You can lie with statistics but you can also lie with pictures.

And there is in fact an incontrovertible example of the NYT deceiving in that way. When the Trayvon Martin death became a great Leftist campaign, Martin was represented by a picture of him as a nice kid aged about age 11, rather than equally available pictures of him as the sneering thug that he later became.

Every country has its weirdness, its reflex points that trigger spontaneous, uncontrolled actions that look almost comically irrational to the observer. It's the kind of thing you can only comprehend once you know the anatomy.

Take, for example, the United States' permanent weirdness on guns. Viewed from Australia – a nation that embraced gun control with relative (though not total) ease after a single massacre – it's gobsmacking that repeated mass shootings seem only to entrench positions rather than inspire a solution.

It's only when you grasp how guns have become totems of individual liberty and a principled distrust of government – and that these ideas constitute nothing less than the country's very reason for being – that you can begin to make sense of the madness.

So, beneath every weirdness most likely is a revelation. Not about the substance of whatever issue is in play, but about the essence of the nation grappling with it.

For Australia, it's Indigenous history. The US may be caught in a cycle of tragedy and denial, but we simply do away with the cycle. For us it's a founding tragedy, then steadfast denial ever since. The specifics might change – terra nullius, the stolen generations – but the constant is a remarkable jumpiness at the very thought of facing the past. A jumpiness so powerfully reflexive, it doesn't matter how insignificant the stimulus.

This week it's a guide on "Indigenous Terminology" from the University of New South Wales. As documents go, it's resoundingly minor: an advisory list, likely to be read by very few people, that "clarifies appropriate language" on Indigenous history and culture. But that was enough to start the nation's most prolific outrage machines to humming.

"WHITEWASH", boomed The Daily Telegraph, taking particular exception at the guide's suggestion that Australia was not "settled" or "discovered" by the British, but rather "invaded, occupied and colonised". This instantly triggered the talkback reflex, with lines of angry callers – historians all, no doubt – venting with all the gusto Alan Jones or Ray Hadley could inspire in them. For colour, and certainly not content, Sydney radio host Kyle Sandilands joined the party, ensuring the meltdown covered all frequencies.

Where do you start? Perhaps with the Tele's remarkably sloppy allegation that "UNSW rewrites the history books to state Cook 'invaded' Australia". Of course, UNSW did no such thing. The reference to Cook is entirely a Telegraph invention. The guide talks of invasion but doesn't attribute it to James Cook, who had no army with which to invade. It's an extrapolation showing that not only does some editor or other know nothing about the history they're so keen to defend, but that they're also quite keen to rewrite the present.

Or perhaps you might begin with precisely which historical account does the rewriting: the one of "settlement" with its implications of an uninhabited continent, or the one whose language of invasion and colonisation implies the significant resistance of Indigenous people and the slaughter that flowed as a result?

All that history is well trodden. For now, it's the weirdness of this, and what it reveals, that interests me. Specifically: why is this hysterical response so entirely predictable? Why is it that the moment the language of invasion appears, we seem so instinctively threatened by it? This isn't the response of sober historical disagreement. It's more visceral than that. Elemental even. It's like any remotely honest appraisal of our history – even one contained in an obscure university guide – has the power to trigger some kind of existential meltdown. What strange insecurity is this?

An American observing this, perhaps even while carrying a gun, would be entitled to be bewildered. Theirs is a dark history too – one that encompasses indigenous dispossession, slavery and segregation – but it's a history they can hardly be accused of denying in the way we do.

Sure, indigenous American history is frequently ignored, but this is partly because it is buried beneath the sheer tonnage of black history that is so constantly rehearsed. There will be people in the US south who lament losing the Civil War, and who cling to the Confederate flag. But it's hard to imagine a public freak-out because a university wanted to discuss slavery. By now, slavery and its abolition are central parts of the American story. There might be varying degrees of honesty in the way the US tells that story, but it has typically found a way to incorporate its warts.

Why do we struggle so much more? Demography, sure. It's harder to brush aside the claims of 13 per cent of the population than the roughly 2 per cent of ours that is Indigenous. But it's also a function of national mythology.

The US is built on the idea of constant progress through individual liberty. It's a nation that is never finished, never perfect, but always being perfected. Its historical scars are therefore not fatal to its identity. Indeed, they are essential because they allow Americans to tell a story of their own perfectibility. In these hands, slavery is not simply a stain, but a symbol of how far they've come. So, in the process of acknowledging slavery, the US is celebrated, not condemned.

We're not like that. We struggle with our history because once we admit it, we have nowhere to go with it; no way of rehabilitating our pride; no way of understanding ourselves. As a nation, we lack a national mythology that can cope with our shortcomings. That transforms our historical scars into fatal psychological wounds, leaving us with a bizarre need to insist everything was – and is – as good as it gets.

That's the true meaning of the love-it-or-leave-it ethos that so stubbornly persists. We don't want to be improved in any thorough way, because for us that seems to imply thorough imperfections.

Instead, we want to be praised, to be acknowledged as a success. It's a kind of national supplication, a constant search for validation. And history's fine, as long as it serves that purpose. But if it dares step out of line, it can expect to be slapped swiftly with the Sandilands dictum until it changes the subject: "you're full of shit, just get on with life". Then we can be comfortable again.


Sydney University Catholic Society faces ban for Catholic-only board

The 88-year-old Catholic Society at the University of ­Sydney is facing deregis­tration on the grounds that it ­requires senior members to be Catholic.

In a move that has startled many of the university’s Catholic students, the society, formed in 1928, has been told that its membership requirements are discriminatory, and further funding could be denied if the Catholic stipulation is not ­removed.

“It’s a surreal situation,” ­society president Francis Tamer said. “We have been told we are discriminating against people ­because you have to be Catholic to be on the executive. Of course you do — we are the Catholic ­Society.”

One of the university’s best known Catholic alumni, Tony Abbott, agrees, saying “it seems like a hell of a double standard” given that Sydney University has long offered both a “women’s room” and a Koori Centre for ­indigenous students. The Catholic issue came to a head after the University of Sydney Union, which funds social clubs, this year decided to ­enforce a longstanding requirement that they be free of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and religion.

Other clubs caught in the mire include the Evangelical Union, which requires members to pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ, but not the Wom*n’s Revue ­Society, which freely ­admits to producing a stand-up comedy show comprised only of “female-­identifying students”.

The USU president, Alisha Aitken-Radburn, said the issue had “turned into an argument over whether we are discriminating against Catholics or whether we are anti-Christian, which ­simply isn’t true”.

“We value religious clubs, but we don’t understand why they need to force their members to say this or sign that,” she said.

“We don’t mind if it’s voluntary, but we don’t want clubs to force members to have to do anything to join.”

Mr Tamer and fellow Cath­olics lodged a formal protest against the planned deregis­tration during a USU board meeting yesterday and after much discussion, the USU promised to “address the complex issues identified in this matter” and to seek legal advice, “because the law surrounding this matter is complex”, before axing the club.

“It’s a relief, ­although we’d still like more clarity because we don’t know if they’re putting it on hold forever, or for a day, or for what,’’ Mr Tamer said.

He said anyone could join the Catholic Society. “We get all kinds of people — Muslim, Jews, atheists — coming along, who might be curious,” he said, “but if you want to be on the executive ... you do have to be Catholic.”

Mr Abbott said the requirement was “sensible, because I’d assume that if you are the gymnastics club, you don’t want ­people coming along who have no particular enthusiasm or passion for gymnastics”.

The Catholic Society has won the support of other religious groups on campus, including the Sydney University Muslim Students Association, whose president Shahad Nomani said: “We have been toeing the line, saying you don’t have to be Muslim to join our executive, but it’s actually ridiculous. All members of our executive are Muslim but we are not allowed to say they must be Muslim.”

University Liberal Club president William Dawes said his club was also sympathetic to the Catholic Society’s cause: “We don’t force you to join the Liberal Party, but what would be the point of joining our club if you didn’t support the ... party?”

The president of the univer­sity’s ALP Club, Dylan Williams, said his club “doesn’t say you have to be a member of the ALP to join our club, but we exist to promote the ideals of ­social democracy, so it would be weird if a Liberal wanted to join”.

Ms Aitken-Radburn said the issue was “about the mandatory requirement for membership. I really don’t understand why clubs can’t ask members to stand up on a voluntary basis and swear ­allegiance to whatever, without forcing them to do it. What is the practical difference?”


Shocking video shows a drunk African slam an elderly driver to the ground and almost run him over in a violent carjacking

Bill Bakow was sitting in his car outside Ridleyton Foodland in Adelaide when Zac Chol jumped onto his bonnet, hauled him from the vehicle and sent him sprawling onto the concrete.

When 33-year-old Mr Chol tried to drive away he nearly backed over the pensioner, who suffered back, shoulder and arm injuries from the attack, reports Yahoo.

Mr Chol told the court he thoroughly regretted the 'huge mistake' after he sobered up, sending a letter of apology to the victim.

However the prosecutor for the case noted the random and brutal targeting of Mr Bakow – who suffers nightmares from the attack - warrants time behind bars.

Mr Chol pleaded guilty to the car theft as well as spitting at the police officers who arrested him shortly afterwards.

The court heard he was a chronic alcoholic who had escaped atrocities in Sudan.


Refugee Council accuses Australia of 'cherry picking' Syrian refugees for resettlement

I certainly hope that we are cherry-picking.  We want refugees who will fit in well to Australia and there is no doubt that Christians will do that much more readily than Muslims

The Refugee Council has accused Australian immigration officials of "cherry picking" Middle Eastern refugees to be resettled in Australia.

"I don't think anyone expected that the program would be weighted as strongly towards Iraqi Christians as it now appears," Paul Power, the council's CEO, told 7.30.

"No-one can argue that those who are getting resettlement to Australia need resettlement.

"But there are millions of refugees in the middle east in need of resettlement and for Australia to cherry pick people from perhaps 1 to 3 per cent of the refugee population in countries such as Jordan and Lebanon really doesn't reflect at all well on Australia."

Mr Power said it was wrong to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis with a program that prioritises persecuted minorities, when the vast majority of Syria's nearly 5 million refugees are Muslim — many who have suffered their own persecution at the hands of the Assad regime and Shia militias because they are Sunnis.

"It's pretty clear that religious minorities are not the only people who have fled," Mr Power said.

"In fact, the religious minorities are represented in only a small way amongst the refugee populations in Jordan and Lebanon."


Green Coal

Grant Goldman

The Hunter Coal Festival starts today and runs until Sunday 10th of April.  Tomorrow Saturday I shall be in Singleton compering Family Day which will be great.  It is all free and everyone is welcome.

Coal is wonderful and is a gigantic contributor to our prosperity.  Unfortunately there are people with wicked motives who are waging war on coal. 

For the past five years there has been a continuous propaganda campaign run internationally by the Greens and their allies against coal generally and in particular against Indian Companies involved in the coal industry.  The campaign has also embraced a raft of spurious lawsuits trying to destroy, damage or delay the plans of Adani and GVK to become significant producers and exporters of Queensland Coal.

One of the catch cries of the villains is the theme “CAN’T EAT COAL”. The truth is that coal is a huge contributor to the provision of food worldwide.  Without coal there would be No modern agriculture, No tractors or harvesters, No trucks, No fertiliser, No pesticides or herbicides, No refrigeration, No steel cans or bottles, No grain silos, No efficient transportation, No modern irrigation, No scythes or spades, No modern fishing fleets.  Without coal most of the world’s population would starve to death in the dark.

The enemies of coal are the enemies of 300 million people in India who don’t even have a light bulb. These people want their children to be able to study at night. They want to refrigerate food for themselves and their families. The enemies of coal exhibit a strongly racist view that these 300 million people should be deprived of the benefits of coal because they are only Indians.

As one example of this wicked war on coal, in May 2015 a bunch calling themselves “One Million Women” was operating a website which made this false claim:

The Indian company Adani is in charge of the coal terminal at Abbot Point - This is expected to destroy our Great Barrier Reef.

The One Million Women Website on Monday 11 May 2015 was displaying a photo of Sir Richard Branson and a headline asserting “Richard Branson Lobbies UN to List Great Barrier Reef as ‘In Danger’”.

On a very large percentage of Virgin Australia flights in and out of Brisbane Airport the passengers include men and women wearing hi-visibility outfits.  These are among the thousands of miners whose purchasing power helps Queensland and the rest of Australia prosper.  Another useful piece of information is that Brisbane Airport’s long overdue second runway now under construction has been made possible by a dredging program involving the delivery of eleven million cubic metres of sand sucked out of Moreton Bay.  That is nearly eighteen millions tonnes, and the massive dredging job was finished in December 2014.  So the founder of the Virgin group of companies is happy to sell thousands of air tickets to the mining industry and is happy to receive the benefit of dredging when it suits him.  I should mention that every concrete runway in the world has depended upon coal or a coal substitute for the production of the cement.

So what is the Australian Coal Industry doing to defend civilisation against these unworthy attacks on coal?  We know that the enemies of coal deliberately tap into the ancient racist assumption that everything that is black is somehow inferior, which you will admit puts coal rather at a disadvantage.

So Australian Coal Industry scientists working with their Indian Counterparts have developed a coal preparation process which at the front end changes the colour of coal to GREEN.   I have a lump of this amazing green coal on my desk and I am posting a photograph of this green coal on my website.

The good news is that green coal has all the calorific value of its black ancestor.  The only difference is the colour. Everyone loves Kermit the Frog.  The enemies of coal will have to find a different target.


1 April, 2016

National minimum wage should be lifted $30 a week, Australian Council of Trade Unions says

The rise sought is proportionately small but it may in absolute magnitude be enough to cause some small businesses to shut.  A lot of businesses in the hospitality trade are marginal and most have minimum wage workers.  I would support an inflation adjustment only

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has urged the Fair Work Commission to lift the national minimum wage by $30 a week.

The union has lodged its submission as part of the Commission's annual wage review.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said more than 1.8 million of the nation's lowest paid workers should receive $686.90 a week, or $18.07 an hour.  The current national minimum wage is $656.90 per week, or $17.29 an hour.

"The minimum wage is still sitting around 40 per cent of what average wage earnings are and if this trend continues we could end up with a US-style working poor in this country."  He said the minimum wage had barely kept pace with inflation.

"This is an insult to every low-paid worker in the country, $10 in an environment where childcare costs are going up, utility costs are going up, education and housing affordability are skyrocketing," he said.

The ACTU denied that jobs were at risk if wages were increased.
Wage hike should not make work harder to find: industry group

In its submission, the Australian Chamber of Commerce urged the Commission to increase the minimum wage by no more than 1.2 per cent, or $7.90 a week.

Australian Chamber spokesperson Patricia Forsythe said more than 730,000 Australians were out of work, including more than 250,000 young people.

She said any jump in wages should not make it harder for people, particularly youth, to find work.

"Economic data shows there is spare capacity in the labour market, indicating that many low-paid and low-skilled workers are struggling to find work," Ms Forsythe said in a statement.

"We must be careful that the minimum wage does not exacerbate the risk of unemployment for these workers."

The Australian Industry Group said the minimum wage should increase by 1.6 per cent, or about $10.50 a week.

Group chief executive Innes Willox said economic growth remained patchy, so a modest increase was needed.

"The panel needs to fully take into account the needs of those whose jobs will be threatened (including many low paid workers) if an excessive minimum wage increase is awarded," he said.


Federal Labor party clueless about schools

Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen and Kate Ellis have today demonstrated that Labor either don't have the faintest idea of how our school education system is structured in Australia or that they are hell-bent on telling lies all the way to the election. 

"Malcolm Turnbull has today said that he will abandon school education in this country." - Bill Shorten, Transcript – Press Conference, 30/3/16

Fact: The Commonwealth doesn't run any schools or employ any teachers. States and territories run 100 per cent of government schools in Australia.

"It [school funding] is a core responsibility of the federal government." - Chris Bowen, Transcript – Press Conference, 30/3/16

Fact: In 2013-14 the Commonwealth provides just 13 per cent of the average per student funding in a government school. School funding is a core function of the states and territories, who provide 87 per cent of funding. (Source: 2016 Report on Government Services)

"We don't want to see the system broken down into each state and territory having totally different systems, totally different funding models." - Kate Ellis, Transcript – Press Conference, 30/3/16

Fact: States and territories do run different systems and apply different funding models. For example, 2013-14 per student funding for government schools in Victoria was less than $12,000 but in Western Australia was more than $17,500 for government schools. (Source: 2016 Report on Government Services)

Labor love a system where accountability is blurred and the buck can always be passed from one level of government to another. 

Labor’s implementation of the Gonski model resulted in 27 different funding arrangements with government and non-government sectors, resulting in different payment levels depending on the deal they could get out of Bill Shorten on the eve of the 2013 election.

However, Australians deserve better than a further blurring of the lines in school education and the pretence that funding is the only thing that matters. 

The Turnbull Government wants to deliver clarity, accountability and the incentive for our school systems to innovate and be their absolute best rather than being strangled by multiple levels of government bureaucracy.

Press release from Senator Birmingham

A staggering number of Australians were born in another country

Australia is regarded as a multicultural nation, and now we have the figures to prove it.

According to migration data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) earlier today, the proportion of Australians born overseas hit the highest level in over 120 years in 2015, rising to 6.7 million persons. That’s 28.2% of Australia’s estimated residential population.

The table below, supplied by the ABS, reveals the top 10 nations of birth for residents not born in Australia.

Though the UK, at 5.2% of Australia’s population, still retains top spot by some margin, it’s clear that mantle is likely to be challenged in the years ahead by the likes of New Zealand, China and India.

As a proportion of Australia’s total population, the percentage born in the UK has fallen steadily over the past decade while the proportion from New Zealand, China and India has steadily grown.

“Over the last 10 years, the proportion of the Australian population who were born in the UK decreased from 5.6% in 2005 to 5.1% in 2015,” said the ABS. “Conversely, the proportions increased for people born in New Zealand (from 2.1% to 2.6%), China (from 1.1% to 2.0%) and India (from 0.7% to 1.8%).”

As for where new arrivals tend to settle upon arrival in Australia, it’s clear that most continue to head to the most populous states within Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

According to the ABS, 66,100 migrants settled in New South Wales in the 12 months to June 2015, equating to 39.3% of all net overseas migration over this period. That was followed by Victoria (54,100), Queensland (19,100) and Western Australia (14,100). Tasmania, at just 100, had the lowest net increase in migration.

Overall net migration totalled 168,183 during this period, with 478,557 persons arriving and 310,374 departing.


Tony Abbott: I was right to put national security before moral posturing

Tony Abbott has penned a 3,706-word essay for the rightwing magazine Quadrant defending and celebrating his two-year period in office.

Australia’s former prime minister says he is proud of his decision to not “join the human rights lobby” and take a stand against what he describes “tough but probably unavoidable actions taken” by the Sri Lankan government during the civil war there.

He doesn’t indicate what actions or lobby groups he is referring to. The UN has said it found evidence “strongly indicating” torture, executions, forced disappearances and sexual abuse committed by Sri Lankan security forces against the country’s Tamil ethnic minority, who were fighting a separatist war.

Abbott says not mentioning the alleged war crimes would have pleased the Sri Lankan president, which was important because it was a “seminal truth” that “all politics is personal” – an aphorism he attributes to the US vice-president, Joe Biden. He suggests his diplomacy allowed the two countries to cooperate more strongly to stop asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australia.

That sort of diplomacy is also embodied, he says, by an interaction he had with Indonesia: “As a very early sign of good faith to the Indonesians, I had West Papuan activists, who’d arrived in the Torres Strait claiming asylum, quietly returned to Papua New Guinea.”

West Papua is a province of Indonesia, which has been fighting for independence. Indonesia has been accused of shooting and beating activists and there have been claims of torture.

When it came to stopping the asylum seeker boats, Abbott says that even before he was sworn in as prime minister he met with border protection agencies and told them their duty was “to stop the boats by all lawful means notwithstanding fierce controversy at home and possible tension abroad”.
Tony Abbott writes: ‘A country that can’t control its borders sooner or later loses control of its future.’ © The Guardian Tony Abbott writes: ‘A country that can’t control its borders sooner or later loses control of its future.’

He continues: “Some media claimed that harsh treatment of boat people was being hidden. Some government lawyers claimed that the operation was beyond power. Some senior officials fretted about the consequences for our relationship with Indonesia.

“But the government simply had to stop the boats – our national interest and our self-respect as a country demanded it – and succeed we did through an indefatigable resolve to get it done.”

He adds: “A country that can’t control its borders sooner or later loses control of its future.”

Abbott also trumpets his efforts against terrorism. Because of his decisions – and “despite the Turnbull government’s recent decision not to commit specialist troops to ground operations in the Middle East” – Australia is the biggest contributor, after the US, to the battle against Islamic State.

He links the fight against Isis to Islam itself, saying the conflict must continue until either Isis is destroyed “or until Islam rids itself of all notions of ‘death to the infidel’”.

On the home front, of legislation compelling telecommunications companies to retain metadata for two years, he says: “The problem is not just terrorism but those who would justify or excuse terrorism without actually advocating it. As prime minister, I was determined to advance our interests, protect our citizens and uphold our values around the world.

“The best way to do this was usually to be as practically helpful as possible in our dealings with other countries. That meant putting aside the moral posturing of the Rudd years to be a country that said what it meant and did what it said.”


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Two of my ancestors were convicts so my family has been in Australia for a long time. As well as that, all four of my grandparents were born in the State where I was born and still live: Queensland. And I am even a member of the world's second-most condemned minority: WASPs (the most condemned is of course the Jews -- which may be why I tend to like Jews). So I think I am as Australian as you can get. I certainly feel that way. I like all things that are iconically Australian: meat pies, Vegemite, Henry Lawson etc. I particularly pride myself on my familiarity with the great Australian slanguage. I draw the line at Iced Vo-Vos and betting on the neddies, however. So if I cannot comment insightfully on Australian affairs, who could?

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

A great Australian wit exemplified

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


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"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral Reef Compendium
IQ Compendium
Queensland Police
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Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
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Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
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Bank of Queensland blues

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Rightism defined
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Irbe on Leftism
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