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?


30 April, 2018

Inside Australia's growing neo-Nazi youth movement

Leftist anti-white discrimination has bred its reply

Around the nation a secretive group of white supremacists who salute Hitler and call for a white revolution are plastering hate speech across cities and universities.

The Antipodean Resistance are a group of radicalised neo-Nazis who describe themselves as 'the Hitlers you've been waiting for'.

To join the men's chapter, you have to be white, straight, young, monogamous and only interested in dating other white people. 'Racial treason is not tolerated,' members told Daily Mail Australia.

The group, which began in Melbourne in 2016, is spreading to cities and towns across the country.  They recently opened a women's chapter to give women 'a  choice to live their lives in accordance to their natural roles'.

Over email an anonymous representative for the group told Daily Mail Australia that their 'activists come from all walks of life'. 'Our ranks are made up by men and women from every corner of the workforce. Our members have families. Some have wives and children that they seek to protect,' they said.  

'We are telling you that we are all around you. We build your houses, we cook your meals, and we keep your shelves stocked.'

The groups main targets are Jewish people, homosexuals and non-white immigrants. 'We oppose substance abuse, homosexuality, and all other rotten, irresponsible distractions laid before us by Jews and globalist elites.' 

They accuse homosexuals of being 'defined by their own hedonism, and by virtue of their own perversions deprived of the natural capacity to reproduce'.

They also refer to Jewish people as 'social parasites'.

'We recognise that there is a fundamental truth to all of reality and that reality is governed by this natural law, whether human beings acknowledge it or not,' the representative says.

The group, which claims to have 300 members, first emerged in 2016 when they put up posters in Melbourne showing the shooting of a gay man, and the text 'Get the Sodomite filth off our streets'.

Since then they've carried out over 40 'hits' as they call them, with their propaganda appearing across the country. Usually conducted in the dead of night they'll plaster streets and universities with hate speech. 'Stop the hordes,  N*****s, Ch***s, Dunec***s,' one poster reads. Others call for the murder of Jewish people.

Last year they put up flyers at Melbourne university which were written in simplified Chinese characters. They said Chinese people were not allowed into the building, otherwise they would be deported.

Posters bearing the name of a notorious neo-Nazi group which claim to be 'the Hitlers you've been waiting for' were plastered over the walls of Sydney University in 2017

'The policy of anonymity within the organisation is a pragmatic choice, as it is the most effective way to establish a political movement in the current climate,' their representative says.

'We also have no need to stroke our egos by putting our identities out on record for the world to see. We stand by our principles regardless of whether our identity is known or unknown.' 

Not much is known about the group but researchers and left activists have been monitoring their actions.

Julie Nathan, a researcher at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, has been investigating the group since they first emerged.

'The typical profile of a member is male, of white European background, aged from late teens to late twenties,' she tells Daily Mail Australia. 'Members are secretive about their identities, concealing both names and face'

'Some of them are stereotypical Hitler-saluting neo-Nazi thick-heads. But a small number of them appear to be tertiary-educated and the dominant figures.'

The neo-Nazi's have also been monitored by ASIO, out of fear the extremist group could turn violent. 

'Members of these groups are diverse and have different agendas, including extreme right-wing and extreme left-wing ideologies,' ASIO said to a parliamentary review into the expenditure of security agencies.

'A few small subsets of these groups are willing to use violence to further their own interests.'

When asked if the group was was willing to use violence the group denied it.  

'Antipodean Resistance does not believe that violence is the correct path to achieving victory,' they said.

But authorities aren't convinced. Ms Nathan says her research has shown the group has a connection to overseas terrorists organisations.

'Antipodean Resistance was one of several neo-Nazi groups which were incubated via the Iron March website (a notorious far right website shut down in 2017). The groups have maintained contact with each other.'

She says they are inspired by National Action in the UK, a white supremacists group, which was listed as a terrorist organisation in December 2016.

The group denied any affiliation with terrorists. They say their fight is about creating a society based on 'natural law.'

'When we preach our ideal future, we speak not of some Utopian post-scarcity society. We strive for something far purer, and far more realistic.'

'We strive not for an equal society, but for a one that exists in harmony with natural law, rather than in conflict.'

Ms Nathan says their end game is total domination and their membership is growing. 'The group has been able to distribute its hate propaganda across cities and towns across Australia, and organise martial arts training in remote regional areas,' she said.

'The group’s leaders have no illusions about AR becoming a popular mass-based organisation. Their dream is to impose their own Nazi dictatorship on Australia.

'Even a small group of brainwashed fanatics who co-ordinate their actions and have no moral compass whatsoever can cause immense harm.' 


Channel Nine faces $50,000 fine for using 'Anzac' as code word in Today Show cash giveaway

Channel Nine has breached a law that protects the word 'ANZAC' from inappropriate commercial use when it used it in one of it's cash giveaways.

The Today show used the word ANZAC as a code in it's daily cash give away, which is a breach of the law and carries a penalty of up to $51,000.

The popular morning show runs daily $10,000 cash giveaways where audiences text in code words advertised on the previous day to enter.

For the commemorative public holiday, the code word was ANZAC.

The minister for veterans affairs administers the protection of the word and have said they were not approached by the show.

Their approval is needed for it's use in connection with 'any trade, business, calling or profession or in connection with any entertainment or any lottery or art union or as the name or part of a name of any private residence, boat, vehicle of charitable or other institution, or other institution, or any building.'

Even the biscuits are monitored and can only have the word ANZAC attached to them if they are the traditional recipe and shape.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs told Fairfax media that the use of the word was not approved by Minister Darren Chester.

'Even if they had approached us, we wouldn't normally grant them the use of the word Anzac in this manner,' she said.

While the spokesperson said 'no decision had been made' as to if they would escalate she stressed that there were significant penalties for breaching the law. Under the Crimes Act of 1914, a penalty of up to $51,000 may be imposed 

When deciding on the appropriateness of attaching the word to a commercial context the Minister considers the views of the ex-service community, the intent of the legislation and any commemorative links.

The controversy came just after the show's host Karl Stefanovic blasted cinemas for releasing the film Avengers: Infinity War on ANZAC day. In an impassioned speech he argued that it was 'a grubby cash grab' and questioned what it taught children.

'There might be some legitimate reason why the Avengers is opening on ANZAC day but I haven't seen on earth are our kids supposed to breathe in the significance of ANZAC day?' he said. 

Channel Nine acknowledged its use of a word in a giveaway was a poor choice


Must not notice that Aborigines have dark skin

IT WAS supposed to be a nice way to bid farewell to their friends, family and followers on social media, but one comment in a video message has landed Married at First Sight’s Troy Delmege in trouble.

The reality TV star took the controversial clip with his lover Carly Bowyer before leaving Melbourne International Airport to jet off to Bali yesterday.

Uploaded to Instagram stories, the surprise couple known on the show for their goofy antics revealed how excited they were about their getaway.

However, giddy Delmege started talking about how tanned they planned on becoming when he made a strange comment about indigenous Australians.

“Couldn’t be more excited,” he said in the video. “Can’t wait to get the tan on, get some heat on me after being in Melbourne for a few weeks.” He then pointed at his Bowyer before adding: “I’m going to be dark, (but) she’ll be darker, like an Aborigine!”

The video then abruptly ends and it appears that Bowyer quickly cut the clip.

Indigenous activist Tarneen Onus-Williams, shared the video on Twitter and branded Delmege’s comments “disgusting”.


Australian jihadi's Sydney high school was a 'religious hothouse that made him ashamed of his heritage' - before he fled to Syria to join a terror group

An Australian government school is a hothouse of Sunni Muslim  preaching???

The father of an Australian jihadist jailed for travelling to Syria to join an Islamist terror group says his son's secular high school was a 'religious hothouse' that made him ashamed of his heritage.

Mehmet Biber, 25, who flew from Sydney to the Middle East in 2013 to join Jabha al-Nusra, was sentenced on Friday to at least two-and-a-half years jail after pleading guilty to entering a foreign state intending hostile activity.

During sentencing, the court heard of his father's concerns about Parramatta High School in Sydney's west, where his jailed son was a student.

'We were very happy Australian public schools were totally secular and glad we sent Mehmet to one. We were misinformed... We came to learn it was a religious hothouse,' the court heard, according to The Daily Telegraph. 

The court heard Biber's father, Gaven, believed religious practices were 'a constant feature' of education at the school, and that teachers thought they were being were being 'culturally sensitive' by encouraging it. 

The court heard the father believed Biber was made to feel ashamed of his Alawite heritage, a branch of Shia Islam.

'Visiting mullahs and prayer groups and school employed emirs were a constant feature of education there. All of them it seemed legitimising a strain of Sunni fundamentalism,' the court heard.

The father tried four times to alert authorities before his son travelled to Syria. He later went to Turkey himself to persuade him to come home.

Outside court on Friday, Mr Biber said Mehmet posed no risk to the community and just wanted to get on with his life.

'We did everything in our power to stop him but, unfortunately, the authorities gave us no assistance whatsoever,' he said. 'Any parent would have done the same thing that I did.'

Justice Christine Adamson on Friday jailed Biber for four years and nine months with a non-parole period of two and a half years.

During a NSW Supreme Court hearing last week, Biber insisted he never went near the front line because his hosts - from the moderate Ahrar al-Sham group - were protective of Australians.

However, he conceded he would have tried if allowed. Justice Adamson accepted part but not all of his evidence.

She considered his offending 'well below the mid-range of seriousness' for the charge which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Biber's youth and naivety at the time of the trip were mitigating factors, the judge said.

His decision to leave behind his pregnant wife in Australia and pose for photos during the trip with a group of men holding assault rifles were indicative of his immaturity.


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

28 April, 2018

Identity politics traps the minority mind in cycle of grievance

Stan Grant, a light-brown man, puts together below a lengthy essay which argues against the Leftist push to divide us into groups rather than having a national consciousness. I have read the articlein full, and on my reading, he says group consciousness is fine as long as it does not attack a larger loyalty to our liberal civilization.  He sees a national or civilizational consciousness as a way-station to world citizenship. 

He is right about the evils of dividing us into tribes defined by grievance but his dream of world citizenship founders on the rather awful state of many parts of the world today. Would we want to be fellow world citizens with the brutal religious maniacs of the  Middle East, for instance? 

But in my view national unity is a highly workable goal. Both the USA and Australia had achieved a large measure of it until recent times. Most Americans could feel patriotic towards their country regardless of their ethnic origins or religion.  The recent loud Leftist obsession with race, sex, class and religion is however eroding that

What would my grandfather make of our world today? I have wondered about that lately. What would he make of this age of hyper-identity? I doubt he ever uttered the word identity. I doubt he ever considered what it meant to identify with anything. Cecil William Henry Grant was an Aboriginal man. He would have said a Wiradjuri man. He lived among Wiradjuri people, he married a Wiradjuri woman and raised his children to know what it was to be Wiradjuri.

He was an Australian, proudly so. Defiantly Australian, at a time when he was told he wasn’t. When war came he signed up: he became a Rat of Tobruk. My grandfather fought not to prove his worth but because he believed himself already worthy. He came back and told his children of the world he had seen. He told them that this world was theirs, that no one could shrink their horizon but themselves.

He was a Christian; his faith was founded in a belief in justice and equality. He would have heard that same message in the words of a black preacher from the segregated south of America, who dreamed of a day when we would be judged not by our colour but our character.

When I think of Martin Luther King Jr, I think of someone who represented everything my grandfather, Cecil William Henry Grant, stood for. Yes, he was Aboriginal — that was his heritage, his family. To be Aboriginal was as natural as breathing. But it was who he was, not all he was. Like the great majority of Aboriginal people, he was what we clumsily call “mixed race”: he had an Irish grandfather. He found a world beyond his own in books and a love of knowledge. He wrote short stories and poems. I am told he kept by his bed the works of Shakespeare and our own bards, Lawson and Paterson. My father still has my grandfather’s old Bible, nearly half a century since the old man passed away.

My grandfather lived the words of the ancient Roman playwright Terence — a man bought and sold as a slave: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto: “I am human, nothing that is human is alien to me”.

He was a man of sacrifice and courage; a man born on the margins, who endured harsh poverty, bigotry and state-enforced discrimination, but who never wavered in his dignity and hope for his country. A man locked out, yet who looked for a way in.

In 1966, towards the end of his life, my grandfather nominated as a candidate to be elected as an Aboriginal representative of the Aborigines Welfare Board. I found his campaign pitch in an old edition of the welfare board magazine Dawn, distributed to Aboriginal communities across NSW. There was no mention of blame, shame or victimhood — just an unflinching belief in our basic human dignity.

Reading the pitch, I can hear his voice: it is the voice of a preacher, his cadence distinctive, his inflection rising and falling:

“Anyone claiming that Aborigines are not humanly equal to other people seems to lack knowledge of the common ingredients of which all human beings are made. For instance, all mankind is blessed or plagued with egoism, irrespective of the pigmentation of the skin. We are also subject to the influences of various other elements such as the physical, natural and Divine influences — all of which are evident in all men. Thus far we are humanly equal and should be regarded by all as such.”

Today those words may seem quaint. They are so at odds with the spirit of our times. These are angry times. He campaigned for equality and justice, but today we are likely to hear more of resentment and vengeance.

My grandfather fought for inclusion. Today we talk a lot more of separatism and exclusion. We are more likely to define ourselves by what we are not: whom we are against rather than what we share in common.

We have lost the art of moderation. We are quick to take offence, too readily wounded and too reluctant to forgive or understand. As French philosopher Simone Weil put it: “Modern life is given over to immoderation. Immoderation invades everything: actions and thought, public and private … there is no more balance anywhere.” She was writing more than a half-century ago, yet her words continue to resonate. These are times of passion more than discretion. And as another French thinker, Raymond Aron, said: “Passion automatically goes at a gallop.” In a time when we are wealthier and healthier, paradoxically we are also fearful and vicious.

Consider the Australia of my grandfather’s life, and the world I enjoy. Then, Aboriginal kids often were locked out of schools; today we have more indigenous university graduates than at any time in our history. Once, my grandfather and so many like him were denied the vote; today we have indigenous people in our parliaments. My grandfather lived on Aboriginal missions, among those rounded up and forced off traditional lands; today we have won rights to our land, our courts recognise native title. My grandfather lived in the great Australian silence, indigenous people written out of our nation’s history; today our stories are celebrated in film and music and art and literature. This is the world he dreamed of, the world he fought for: “We are humanly equal and should be regarded by all as such.” Indeed.

This is the world dreamed of by Aboriginal heroes who were often, like my grandfather, people of deep faith: Bill Ferguson, Doug Nicholls, William Cooper. They and those who followed — everyone who marched, carried a flag, raised a voice or pitched a tent for the struggle — are part of our folklore. They helped make Australia better.

Yes, there is much to do. The possibilities and promise of this country remain out of reach for far too many. The most impoverished and imprisoned in our nation are the First Peoples. My grandfather knew that too well. It was the struggle to which he dedicated his entire life. But I am sure he would recoil at the rancour and bitterness of modern politics. He believed in an inclusive citizenship; today we cleave to our difference.

It is one of the pitfalls of identity politics that it requires a permanent, unchanging enemy. At its worst it appears less motivated by justice or reconciliation than vainglorious struggle for its own sake: grievance without end.

Lately, I have sought refuge in the words of my grandfather. I have returned to the writings of great thinkers who shaped our world. My grandfather would not have read the likes of Immanuel Kant, John Locke or John Stuart Mill, yet the teachings of those Enlightenment philosophers found their way into his world view.

The belief in a shared humanity, in the fundamental worth of each individual, is the cornerstone of the liberal democratic order. Think of Kant’s ideas of liberty — the foundation of Enlightenment is that we should strive to live “free of the ball and chain of an everlasting permanent minority”. He urged us to have the courage to think for ourselves, to “make use of our own understanding”.

Or Mill, who asked we find that elusive centre to “soften the extreme form to fill up the intervals between us”. These philosophers challenge me to look outside of myself, to cast off certainty and test my ideas. The Enlightenment placed reason above superstition, disrupted conventional wisdom, reimagined society and challenged old hierarchies. It asked humanity to look beyond parochial affiliations — to, in the words of Rousseau, “cast away the yoke of national prejudices”.

These thinkers were also products of their times. Some of their views, particularly on race, are hard for me to read. Some were apologists for slavery, the architects of empire and colonisation. The same Kant who spoke of our shared humanity could say black Africans were “stupid”.

Yet, for all its faults, the Enlightenment is my inheritance, too. Its legacy is universal. Richard Dawkins says liberalism is a meme rather than a gene: it transmits across bloodlines and cultures. To French philosopher Pascal Bruckner, Western civilisation is “like a jailer who throws you into prison yet slips you the key”. Tyranny, racism and colonialism are part of the Western tradition, yet that same tradition holds out the tantalising possibility of freedom.

Liberalism, born of the Enlightenment and centred on the principle of the rights of the individual, has proved remarkably resilient. Yet, across three decades in journalism, I have seen old divisions of race, religion, tribalism and nationalism reassert themselves. The end of the Cold War — the great ideological battle between liberal democracy and communism — promised liberation. Old borders were coming down. US political scientist Francis Fukuyama proclaimed “the end of history”. Liberal democracy, he wrote, constituted “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution”.

But history has returned. Borders are going back up, democracy is in retreat. The strongman is back: Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey; Viktor Orban in Hungary; Rodrigo Duterte in The Philippines; Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt; Vladimir Putin in Russia; Xi Jinping in China; and, in his own way, Donald Trump in the US — each riding a wave of resurgent populism. This is a frustrating, mad­dening time. As father of conservatism Edmund Burke wrote, “The wild gas, the fixed air is plainly broke loose.” We don’t look for common ground; we dig in and shoot from the trenches. It is politics as civil war: words are weapons. We don’t disagree, we abuse.

We don’t debate, we yell.

Paradoxically, when social media gives us greater means to offend each other, we try to silence those we find offensive. Liberalism is under siege.

American political scientist Mark Lilla has condemned the growth of identity politics as a cancer on democracy. He considers himself a liberal (progressive in American political parlance) but fears his fellow liberals have become dangerously obsessed with identity and exclusion, and are sacrificing the idea of shared citizenship. In his book The Once and Future Liberal (Harper, 2017), he despairs at how “identity liberalism banished the word ‘we’ to the outer reaches of respectable political discourse”.

Lilla’s book grew out of an article he wrote in response to Trump’s election. It was the most widely read opinion piece in The New York Times in 2016. He argued that the fashionable idea of celebrating difference was a “disastrous foundation for democratic politics”. He said the US was in the grip of a “moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message”; it impedes progressive politics becoming a unifying force.

Lilla believes it cost Hillary Clinton the presidency and propelled Trump to the White House. He has been tracking this trend for years. In an earlier book, The Shipwrecked Mind (New York Review Books, 2016), he captured the resurgence of populism.

The shipwrecked mind, Lilla says, is the mind of the reactionary: it is the mind of the person turning away from change, who sees “the debris of paradise drifting past his eyes”. The shipwrecked mind is nostalgic for the glorious past lost. As Lilla writes: “Hopes can be disappointed. Nostalgia is irrefutable.” Yes, things were better back then.

We see the politics of nostalgia in the pledge to make America great again, or the Brexit campaign’s lament for “Little Eng­land”. Putin appeals to the longing for the glory of the Soviet empire; Xi stokes Chinese nationalism with references to the 100 years of humiliation by foreign powers.

The shipwrecked mind is the political Islamist, European nationalist, the American alt-right fascist. In Australia it could help explain the lure of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. These groups may speak about liberation but, like purveyors everywhere of identity politics, depend for their survival on a “permanent enemy” and an army of “endlessly aggrieved” foot soldiers.

Indigenous politics is not immune. We have our “shipwrecked minds”. These are people who would like to imagine themselves as the radicals, disrupters and truth-tellers. In fact, they are the most stifling reactionaries: chain­ed to tradition, they fetishise culture, reject pluralism and shut their ears to discussion.

I thought of these people when reading The Economist last December. The feature article probed the rise of identity politics and resurgent nationalism. It drew on the work of Polish social-psychologist Michal Bilewicz, who separates what he calls “altruists” from “narcissists”. Politics in this way becomes a civil war, with everything boiling down to loyalty. The two groups are categorised thus:

Look to the future / Rake over the past
Positive-sum / Zero-sum
Share / Exclude
Work together / Gang up
United by values / United by race and culture
Opponents complement / Opponents are traitors

We know these narcissists all too well: they are the avatars of resurgent populism. They are the most successful politicians of our time. History is the pulse of populist identity politics. This is history as betrayal. It is the narrative of loss, of being robbed of inheritance. This history looms over the present, obscuring progress; the past frames the present and denies the future.

Lilla calls this the “apocalyptic imagination”: “The present, not the past, is a foreign country … all that was left was memory of defeat, destruction and exile.”

This has become a powerful narrative for many indigenous Australians. It is a history I was raised on: the story of invasion and dispossession, racism and segregation, passed down through the generations of my family. These stories are painful and vivid. They have marked me — at times, I have felt, indelibly. History is where we locate ourselves; it is the foundation of identity. It can help explain so much ongoing suffering and injustice. But it can become a crippling narrative. It has been my struggle — the struggle of all of us — to move beyond it. Not to ignore it or airbrush the worst aspects but to lift its weight from my shoulders. I have no desire to be bound to a history of misery — or, worse, to revel in it.

Historical truth can be elusive, particularly when it is filtered through memory. Friedrich Nietzsche warned us to tread warily; where remembrance is concerned it is worth recalling his words: “There are no facts, only interpretations.” Memory is unreliable and selective; as we have seen, it can be a powerful and destructive political weapon. In the words of French historian Jacques Le Goff: “Memory, on which history draws and which nourishes it in return, seeks to save the past in order to serve the present and the future.”

In his 2016 book In Praise of Forgetting (Yale University Press), journalist and philosopher David Rieff challenges the adage that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. “Thinking about history … is far more likely to paralyse than encourage and inspire,” he warns. He says we risk turning it into a “formula for unending grievance and vendetta”.

French historian Ernest Renan was grappling with this idea of history and identity more than a century ago, saying in an essay that nations seek a “collective identity”. Nation, he wrote, is “a soul, a spiritual principle”. But how to form a nation out of the conflicting stories of our past? Renan looked beyond history. His words are an antidote to today’s obsession with remembrance: “Forgetfulness, and I would say historical error, are essential in creating a nation.”

Nations — peoples — do this all the time. We elevate one event over another, we celebrate particular historical figures, we commemorate victories and find glory in defeat. We are always editing history — what philosopher Homi K. Bhabha calls “narrating the nation”. The stories we tell ourselves are what we become. We have to ask: what is it that we want to be?

Identity can kill. Think of Hutu versus Tutsi in Rwanda, Hindu pitted against Muslim in India, Catholic and Protestant in Ireland, Palestinian and Israeli, the blood feud between Sunni and Shia. Identity spawned in history and nourished on violence can exert a deadly hold.

Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen has warned against what he calls “solitarist” identities. He says it can be a good way of misunderstanding nearly everyone in the world. When we divide ourselves, he writes, “our shared humanity gets savagely challenged”.

At its worst, the politics of iden­tity appears to me like that line from Franz Kafka: “A cage went in search of a bird.” It is rigid and conformist. It is policed by self-righteous moral and political guard­ians. Identity has its own ortho­doxy, it imposes its own tyranny.

Cosmopolitanism appeals as a counter to these forces. Its embrace of hybridity rejects identity politics that turns “we” into “us and them”. Kant described this idea of cosmopolitanism as a loyalty to universal humanity. Cosmopolitanism demands that I think harder about identity. It challenges me to find a better answer to the question: who am I? This is a new frontier for indigenous Australians. There has been a tendency to cling to ideas of identity purity or authenticity. This is understandable: historically, indigenous identity has been heavily politicised.

What it means to be indigenous — who is recognised or classified and who is not — has been in an almost constant state of flux. The Australian Law Reform Commission counts 64 separate definitions of Aboriginal. Indigenous (Yiman and Bidjara) academic Marcia Langton once wrote: “For Aboriginal people, resolving who is Aboriginal and who is not is an uneasy issue, located somewhere between the individual and the state.”

Today, communities often determine who is recognised as indigenous or not. Individuals can be required to obtain a letter certifying “Aboriginality”. There is a wariness of hybridity, that someone can hold overlapping or layered allegiance or affiliation.

But how do people with mixed ancestry define themselves? What about an urban-dwelling, univer­sity-educated, relatively privileged middle-class person of Aboriginal heritage? They won’t necessarily belong to any exclusive indigenous community, let alone look to it for recognition. They may have communal connections, perhaps to ancestral country, but also may trace their roots back to Italy, China or Lebanon. This is the way of our world; indigenous Australians should be no different.

It is fraught terrain. Identity is the third rail of indigenous politics. Yin Paradies is a scholar who has sought to escape what he calls a “prison-house” identity. Paradies is an example of someone with indigenous heritage who chafes at orthodox interpretations of what it means to be Aboriginal. Paradies — blending indigenous and Anglo-Asian heritage — says he represents both coloniser and colonised: black and consummately white. For this, he says, he has endured personal attacks. He has been labelled a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside) or a “nine-to-five black”. This hostility comes from a history of suspicion of people “passing as white” or “selling out”. Paradies doesn’t deny what he too calls a “deplorable history of marginalisation, discrimination and exclusion”, but that alone does not define him.

Paradies, like me, is in every way a cosmopolitan. As a journalist, I have reported from more than 70 countries. Mine has been a life spent in the world. Apart from China and Britain, I have spent enough long stretches in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel to feel equally at home in each. I can tell you where to find the best dumplings in Shanghai or the best chicken meal in Amman; I could help you buy a guitar in Kabul or tell you where to catch an art movie Tel Aviv. I count among my dearest friends colleagues from Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, China, Canada and South Korea.

All of this has shaped me. It has given me a glimpse into worlds I once could barely have imagined.

I live an admittedly privileged life — and that is one of the criticisms of cosmopolitanism, that it is the identity of the rich. But cosmopolitanism is also carried on the winds of trade and war. Every refugee fleeing tyranny on a leaky boat is taking what Bruce Robbins and Paulo Lemos-Horta poetically describe in the opening to their book Cosmopolitans (New York University Press, 2017) as “the long, exhausting and perhaps endless journey toward invisible others”.

For indigenous Australians, that journey began — for better and worse — with the arrival of the First Fleet. We took on new names, our skin lightened and we spoke in new languages.

Cosmopolitanism is not always a matter of choice. It has been a colonial project.

Cosmopolitanism asks a tough political question: is there a place for group rights? Does identifying as an indigenous person give me a unique or special claim on the state? If so, under what circumstances? Who decides?

Political theorist Jeremy Waldron has argued there is no place in cosmopolitanism for indigenous rights. To the extent that rights are acknowledged, Waldron says it should be more about contemporary discrimination and disadvantage than historical injustice.

Historian David Hollinger says historical events have “destabilised identities”, weakening political solidarity. Groups are not permanent or enduring; Hollinger says there is too much emphasis on homogeneity. Some may make a case for group right — but don’t ask who actually belongs to the group.

Do I, as someone who lives a privileged life and identifies as indigenous, have an equal claim on programs to close the socioeconomic gap in Australia? Despite identifying with the African-American community, Barack Obama, the first black US president, said his children should not benefit from affirmative action. Cosmopolitans value fluidity and hybridity; they embrace change and prioritise multiple affiliations.

So, where does that leave someone like me? Yes, I am indigenous, but this is not an exclusive identity; it is not unchanging, permanently fixed in time and place. Identity is personal choice, a social construct — but it can also have political implications. We see this around the world in the push for separatism or self-determination based on ethnicity, culture or religion.

Hollinger does not support minority nationalism or group rights that privilege some citizens over others; he says society is stronger by breaking down barriers between groups and increasing “shifting, multiple and hybrid identities”.

Cosmopolitans are accused of downplaying historical injustice and ignoring the causes and impact of economic inequality. Political scientist Michael Ignatieff has identified one of the critical flaws of cosmopolitanism: that it is aristocratic, “the privilege of those who can take their own membership in secure nation-states for granted”. While cosmopolitans may prefer to eschew parochialism or nationalism, their rights are tethered to nation states.

The question of group versus individual rights — indeed, the rights of individuals within those groups — is an enduring dilemma of liberal democracy. It is an ongoing process of litigation and negotiation.

Cosmopolitanism appeals to me, even as I struggle with it. Perhaps that is the point: it is meant to make us uncomfortable, posing as many questions as it answers. One of the great cosmopolitan thinkers, Kwame Anthony Appiah, concedes: “There’s a sense in which cosmopolitanism is the name not of the solution but of the challenge.” Appiah himself is a living example of what it is to be cosmopolitan: Ghanaian father, British mother; an internationally acclaimed academic, multilingual, multicultural. He is, like me, at home in the world.

Appiah says cosmopolitanism begins with the simple idea that “we have obligations to others, obligations that stretch beyond those to whom we are related … or even the more formal ties of a shared citizenship”. It isn’t an argument for homogeneity. Appiah may dream of a world beyond race, but he also concedes that is unlikely. Difference, Appiah says, matters, but it need not define or divide us.

My children live in the world Appiah imagines. Just last Christmas my youngest son was in the US on a basketball tour, mostly in Texas along the Mexican border. We had met him in Los Angeles and now had come to New York for Christmas. There we were, huddled together on the New York subway, bound in puffy jackets and scarfs wrapped tightly around our necks. Our jaws were still clenched against the biting cold; we hadn’t yet thawed out in the warmth of the subway.

The day before we had been in sunny California: the Los Angeles winter was proving warmer than summer back in Sydney. We were far from what I suppose we would call our home, yet feeling right at home anyway. This has been the pattern of our lives, moving from one country to another.

What does it mean for my children to call themselves indigenous Australians? They have a rich heritage and they embrace it. They have deep kinship and cultural ties. They are part of a community and they enjoy the easy friendship of people just like them.

Appiah asks, “Do identities represent a curb on autonomy, or do they provide its contours?” My children will walk through the world as indigenous Australians, but hopefully not bound to any ­stifling conformity or identity orthodoxy. They are free to be what they wish to be.

They come from a hard history, but it is not a burden my children should feel compelled to carry. They are not defined by poverty or disadvantage. They are, in fact, like so many other indigenous people today: privileged, urban dwelling, racial and cultural hybrids. They are cosmopolitans.

This is the future my grandfather would have dreamed for us. It is a world he fought for. My children live in extraordinary times. Globalisation has changed us all. Our world is smaller. We move more freely across borders.

We are richer. We carry more computer power in our pocket than NASA required to send man to the moon. We have enjoyed the longest period of global peace the world has seen.

Yet there is a blowback. Terrorism can strike us anywhere. Old religious hatreds have returned. Democracy is in retreat. The political strongman is back. We fear the stranger. Inequality is growing. Robots are taking our jobs.

Who we are increasingly defines what we believe, whom we call enemy or friend.

Australia is swept up in these global currents. Like people everywhere, we live with the wounds of history. As a nation we have to answer the question of Renan: what are we — indigenous and non-indigenous — prepared to forget?

We have those among us who would feed on endless grievance. We have our shipwrecked minds attached to a militant nostalgia. We have our populists who, like populists everywhere, need fear, suspicion and division to stay alive. And like populists everywhere, they spin a compelling tale.

The politics of identity, of separation and exclusion, is not the cure for populism — it is the root of populism. It is dangerous; it has made the world inflammable. Identity is important, the need to belong is instinctive. A sense of belonging gives the world meaning, but it also can distort the meaning of our world.

Liberalism demands vigilance. Calling out injustice and racism, closing the poverty gap, ending mass imprisonment, graduating more kids from school and university, creating jobs: these are Australia’s challenges. We have inherited a history, a history that indigenous people carry heavily. But as a nation we can choose to be altruists and look to the future, or narcissists and rake over the past. We can choose to be united by values or divided by race and culture.

The liberal democratic order that emerged from the great Enlightenment thinkers — those who sought liberty, reason and freedom — has triumphed over repressive ideologies. It has not delivered the end of history but it may still be history’s best chance.

I think that’s what my grandfather was saying.


Hate is all that the Left have

They want to divide us into warring tribes

In May 1968, Parisian students took to the streets smashing windows, lifting cobbles from streets to lob at working-class people, wearing police uniforms and damaging cars along the way. Exciting, to be sure, but this was not a genuine rebellion for it lacked the essential ingredients of rebels with a cause. Instead, here were students playing out a look-at-me psychodrama, against a phantom enemy, and with a very real attachment to the politics of hate.

On the 50th anniversary of the Paris riots, not much has changed — except that no students today would dare protest under the sassy style of May 1968 slogans such as “Unbutton your brain as much as your trousers”. Sadly, today it’s likelier to be students screaming “Button your brain as much as your trousers”.

But there is an unmistakeable line to be drawn, starting with the confused, self-indulgence of French students in Paris in May 1968 and ending with the very unfunny and very angry Catherine Deveny tweeting her miserable missives 50 years later in Melbourne. Deveny’s wacky, look-at-me anger, which explodes at regular intervals, most recently this week when she attacked Anzac Day as “bogan Halloween”, is the wretched end point of the same attention-grabbing, nihilistic hatred that burst forth from Nanterre University and the Sorbonne a half-century ago.

Sitting at an apartment window above the fray that erupted on Paris’s streets was a young Roger Scruton, who these days is known as “the most accomplished conservative since Edmund Burke”. The author of 50 books, including How to be a Conservative, was born into a Labour-voting family in Lincolnshire in central northeast England, but his politics turned.

“The thing that most struck me about those students in the street was the sentimentality of their anger,” Scruton said during an interview last year.

“It was all about themselves, it wasn’t about anything objective. Here they were, the spoiled middle-class baby boomers who’d never had any real difficulty to cope with, shouting their heads off in the street, burning the cars belonging to ordinary proletarians, who they pretended to be defending against some imaginary oppressive structure erected by the bourgeois.

“The whole thing was a complete fiction based on the antiquated ideas of Karl Marx, ideas that were already redundant in the mid-19th century.

“They were enacting a self-scripted drama in which the central character was themselves.”

Indulged attention-seekers unable to articulate what they are for, only what they are against — a faux bourgeois enemy? Talk about deja vu in 2018. What Scruton has called the culture of repudiation has grown only stronger, flourishing at universities in particular. Students scream accusations of racism against those who have long fought against racism, label others as traitors for not buying a ticket to their puritanical feminism train and howl down as Islamophobia any mention of the cultural challenge between Islam and the West.

Such drama-laden angst has teamed up with identity politics. The craving for membership which is, as Scruton says, “a deep adaptation of the species”, means the culture of repudiation attracts more and more members whose wide-ranging animosities neces­sarily mean a narrowing sphere of obligation to others.

When you hate people, rather than merely disagree with them, you show them little consideration and certainly feel no obligation towards them as fellow human ­beings.

Here is a new culture with its own conformity, “a culture of defiance, a belonging in rejection that will provide a new and bold identity in place of the old”, says Scruton.

At a personal level, Deveny doesn’t deserve attention, but what she represents does. She has become the “useful idiot” who proves how easily an unthinking culture of repudiation can lead to the politics of hate.

Her Facebook missive this week: “As it gets closer my head feels tighter and tighter and I feel more and more nauseous. I blame the collective cognitive dissonance seeping in. I abhor Anzac Day and can’t wait til it’s over. I am so delighted to hear the chorus increasing every year saying ‘Anzac Day is bullshit. It’s a Trojan Horse for racism, sexism, toxic masculinity, violence, homophobia and discrimination.’ ”[Her list of hates]

Born in the same year as those tumultuous protests in Paris, Deveny is the middle-aged version of French students lobbing angry verbal missiles, minus the humour. Like the 68ers, who at least could fall back on the Shakespearean ­excuse of the salad days of youth, Deveny fails to articulate what she is for because that requires tedious intellectual work. She is too busy listing what she is against, and it is an easy and empty imaginary foe of isms and phobias.

Then, on the morning before Anzac Day, Deveny tweets this: “Why do people in the armed ­forces use the word ‘serve’ to ­describe their work despite it being no more dangerous or prone to upheaval than many other jobs? It’s just a job and work. Throw the term ‘serve’ in the bin. It’s part of the fetishisation of war and ­violence.”

Deveny has the great fortune to live in a liberal democracy where she has the right to say what she wants. Instead of starting a thoughtful debate about the fetishisation of war, Deveny exercised her freedom with a crass tweet aimed at those who served and fought, and continue to serve and fight, to defend our freedom.

Deveny’s attack isn’t bad manners. It represents the nihilistic end point of the politics of hate, ­attacking an institution, the ­military, the soldiers who serve our country and the honour we show them on Anzac Day for their service. There is no clue from Deveny where we would be without men and women who fought, and continue to fight, for our freedoms. Being against something — the military — without pausing to consider what happens in times of war is anti-intellectual drivel.

And, of course, Twitter, with its limited characters, has become the perfect platform for this kind of stilted thinking.

To juxtapose Deveny’s politics against Scruton’s may seem like lining up a third-grade softballer against Donald Bradman. But hang in here because Scruton explains why some left-wing “thinkers” are destroying intellectual life.

“Conservative thought is difficult,” he said in an interview for Spiked Online a few years ago.

“It doesn’t consist of providing fashionable slogans or messages of hope and marching into the future with clenched fists and all the things that automatically get a following. It consists of careful, sceptical rumination on the near-impossibility of human existence in the first place.”

Critically, conservatism is not an ideological attachment but a pragmatic endeavour to preserve institutions, ideas and values that continue to serve us well. When repudiation teams up with pre-emptive surrender, we enter more dangerous territory again.

Speaking along with Scruton at London’s Acton Institute in late 2016, art historian Victoria Coates recalled one of the worst recent examples. It happened in Janu­ary that year when the President of Iran, Hasan Rowhani, visited Italy on state business, which included a formal lunch hosted at Rome’s Capitoline Museum by Italian prime min­ister Matteo Renzi.

As Coates said, the Italian hosts went to great lengths to make Rowhani feel as if he had never left Tehran. In among buildings designed by Michelangelo, some of Rome’s greatest treasures were censored.

“They weren’t just veiled,” Coates said during a discussion of the crisis of liberty in the West. “They were erased with plain white boxes, and in a final sad act of capitulation, the Italian prime minister banished that other great staple of ancient Rome and product of modern Italy — wine — from a state dinner to comply with Mr Rowhani’s faith.”

Coates explained in detail what the Italian prime minister had done. “Some 2500 years ago, this area in Rome was ground zero in the fight for freedom.” It was here that Brutus swore a pledge, in bloody circumstances, to rid the city of a degenerate royal family, proclaiming Rome as a free state. This, said Coates, “became the catalyst for the founding of the Roman republic, which turned out to be the most durable attempt at democracy in the ancient world. It lasted centuries longer than that brief, albeit glorious experiment in Athens.”

To honour Brutus, the Roman people erected a bronze statue of the founder of the republic on the Capitoline Hill, the civic and spiritual heart of Rome. Two thousand years later, what was believed to be the head of the bronze Brutus was discovered and placed in the Capitoline museum, which “constitutes sacred ground for the classical origins of Western civilisation”.

Covering the bronze head of Brutus wasn’t a case of good manners, Coates said. Good manners is when we visit a Muslim country and do not insist “on drinking alcohol or dressing like a Kardashian. Good manners would have been Mr Rowhani averting his own eyes from works of art he finds ­offensive and asking for a glass of water.”

Drawing on Alexis de Tocqueville, Coates wondered aloud: how do we enjoy the prodigal wonders of freedom without shirking the apprenticeship of liberty?

Here again Deveny serves a purpose as local proof that the pursuit of politics infused with hate creates anti-intellectual bunkers. Whereas a basic belief in human dignity unites people, encouraging us to find shared values even among people who disagree, the anti-intellectual politics of hate defaults to making enemies.

Earlier this month, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave a speech at Vanderbilt University in Nashville where she praised fellow Justice Clarence Thomas. She, a left-liberal, was nominated to the bench by president Barack Obama. Thomas is a conservative appointed by president George HW Bush.

Sotomayor said that Thomas was the justice “with whom I probably disagree the most”. Then she said, “I just love the man as a person. He has the same value toward human beings as I have, despite our ­differences.”

From a Princeton-educated Supreme Court judge to the 21st century’s most famous rapper, on Thursday Kanye West echoed the same sentiments, tweeting: “You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”

Immediately, the politics of hate rose up, with Trump haters questioning Kanye’s mental health.

Whatever dragon energy may be, people of good faith and different views can be respectful to one another. And Deveny is a national reminder that when an odium of others takes hold, the results are not pretty.


Are non-government schools really on the way out in Australia?

Federal government modelling suggests demand for non-government schools is going to fall substantially in the next 10 years, according to news reports this week. Only 21% of new students between now and 2027 are projected to enrol at non-government schools,  down from 35% of all students today.

As with most projections of this kind, there are inherent uncertainties, modelling is based on imperfect assumptions, and at best they represent an educated guess.

Last year the proportion of students in government schools rose slightly, from 65.4% in 2016 to 65.6% in 2017, the independent school share rose from 14.4% to 14.5%, while the Catholic system proportion fell from 20.2% to 19.9%.

The past two years have seen a small increase in the proportion of government school enrolments, which bucks the general trend of the past 50 years, where the government school share of all students has declined steadily from 77% in 1966 to 65% today. It is unlikely  this 50-year trend will be reversed in the next 10 years.

But many parents are not satisfied with either non-government or government schools, and so are turning to homeschooling. The number of children being taught at home has increased by more than 80% in the past six years, which indicates school systems have to do more to cater for parental expectations.

One possible reason for this is the transparency of the MySchool website, where parents are able to examine the literacy and numeracy results of local schools, and often are not satisfied. For example, even though some non-government schools charge significant fees, parents can see that frequently the local government school can provide just as good academic outcomes. That is, putting more money into a school doesn’t necessarily lead to better student results.

This shows the prevailing narrative around government schooling is contradictory. Advocates of the government school system, such as teacher unions, consistently make three statements:

* Government schools are just as good as non-government schools.
* Government schools currently get much less money than non-government schools.
* Government schools need much more money.

At least one of these statements has to be false…


Outrage as shoppers find a 'Terrorist Man' costume being sold to CHILDREN

A Melbourne shop has been caught selling a terrorist costume to outraged customers. The 'Terrorist man' costume sold for $34.99 at the JC Plaza in Clarinda, shows a man holding a gun with a long black beard, hat and jacket.

One angry customer said she left the shop in tears when she saw the outfit and told the Herald Sun she was horrified. 'I was shocked and terrified and could not believe my eyes,' she told the publication.

'I wanted to shout out, 'this is so wrong, this is shameful' and it took me a few minutes to calm down and take a photo.'  

Store owner Jin Cai apologised and told Daily Mail Australia the costumes were 'old stock' leftover from the previous owners.

Anti-Defamation Commission Chair Dr Dvir Abramovich said the costume was 'bad taste' and he called on the shop owners to immediately withdraw 'these disgusting outfits' from sale.

'There is nothing funny or cool about dressing up as a murderer responsible for horrific bloodshed and for tragic suffering that have affected so many people around the world,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'Terrorism should never be glorified or celebrated in any way. I have no doubt that this insensitive costume will get the thumbs down from most Australians who will find this sickening and who will condemn it.'

The costume has previously appeared in shops in Brisbane and Melbourne. 


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

27 April, 2018

Standing on it

General Campbell: Look at those long slim fingers.  They are the fingers of a clergyman or an office-worker, not any kind of manual worker

There’s a saying in the Army that describes in vivid Digger language ‘stupidity’. I won’t finish it here. But it starts like this: the general managed to stand on his own…

I’ll let you work out what the ‘…’ could be, but it appears that we have a general who’s done just that, realised the pain it has caused himself, and is now trying to rearrange his body parts without losing any more dignity or falling over.

I guess that’s because even the left-of-left Defence Minister, Marise Payne, can see that the incoming Chief of Defence Force has done something stupid. From The Australian today:

"But a spokesman for Defence Minister Marise Payne last night revealed commanders could apply for an exemption to the ban on death symbols. He said Senator Payne supported the intent of the Chief of Army’s minute but noted “that applications from unit commanders for exemption of a symbol or icon will be considered on a case-by-case basis”. It was not clear whether that policy was already in place or came in response to anger over the ban."

I guess that’s another way of saying that Lieutenant General Campbell’s directive banning images  is already in retreat.

Along the way, however, it will cause confusion. Units are removing works of military art and morale has taken a hit.

So will the new Chief of Defence Force’s credibility and reputation. The name ‘Care Bear Campbell’ is going to stick.


Victoria University exposed as future teachers found wanting

Victoria University was in franker times Footscray Tech. It still seems to have tech standards

Students of a Melbourne university that has enrolled teaching undergraduates with ATARs significantly below Victoria’s minimum entry prerequisite have performed poorly in a national literacy and numeracy test, with about a quarter failing to meet the standard required for entering the profession.

Victoria University, a major provider of initial teacher education degrees, was one of the worst-performing universities to sit last year’s test, with 27 per cent of students failing the literacy module and 24 per cent failing numeracy, sparking calls for entry requirements for initial teacher education courses to be tightened.

Almost 1000 students from the university sat the test, which aims to assess whether aspiring teachers have literacy and numeracy skills in the top 30 per cent of the adult population.

Nationwide, standards fell slightly in 2017 compared with the previous year, with 92 per cent of 23,000 students passing both components of the test. In 2016, 95.2 per cent passed the literacy component and 94.2 per cent passed the numeracy component.

Victoria University was among 19 out of 52 tertiary institutions to report failure rates in excess of ­10 per cent in at least one component of the test. In contrast, students from the University of Western Australia were among the highest achievers, with 98 per cent meeting the literacy standard and 99 per cent numeracy.

The results, which have been provided to The Australian, are set to reignite a push to toughen university entry requirements for teaching courses. In Victoria, the government requires that students achieve an ATAR of at least 65 — rising to 70 next year — to be admitted to study teaching.

Yet a Victoria University report detailing the profiles of incoming students reveals that the median ATAR of those offered places in Education (P-12) and Physical Education (Secondary) courses this year was 58.45 and 56.65 respectively. The lowest ATAR of a student to be offered a place was 45.3.

The university has recently rolled out a new Bachelor of Education Studies as a pathway course that is not bound by the minimum ATAR score requirement. Students are able to transfer at a later stage into a Master of Education.

Associate professor Anthony Watt, director of learning and teaching in the university’s education faculty, said the ATARs listed were “raw scores” and did not account for “special consideration bonuses” applied to disadvantaged students. He said he was confident that, after adjustments, “every student admitted to study education had achieved an ATAR of 65”.

Dr Watt likened the numeracy and literacy test to testing for one’s driver’s licence: “You don’t always get it first time. We’re keen to support everyone to achieve the benchmark and we’re working with students on that,” he said.

Centre for Independent Studies senior research fellow Jennifer Buckingham said it was concerning that some universities continued to enrol teacher candidates with low ATARs as the results suggested there was a correlation between rankings and poor literacy and numeracy.

“The literacy and numeracy assessment does actually not set a high bar; it’s really the equivalent of a Year 9 level of literacy and numeracy,” Dr Buckingham said.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said parents rightly expected graduating teachers would have solid literacy and numeracy. “These results highlight that some higher education providers simply aren’t delivering the skills Australians would expect of graduate teachers or are dropping standards too far,” he said.

“The Turnbull government has been crystal clear in our view that students who don’t make the minimum literacy and numeracy standards should never make it into the classroom.”

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino expressed his disappointment. “For too long universities in Victoria have been accepting students with ATARs as low (as) in the 30s or the 40s. It isn’t good enough and it has to change.”


Hero dad or playground villain? Father who tried to CHOKE his step-daughter's 15-year-old bully reveals the final insult that pushed him over the edge

A father who tried to choke his daughter's 15-year-old bully has revealed the final taunt that pushed him over the edge.

Mark Bladen, 53, was giving the boy a 'good old fashioned talking to' when the boy smiled at him, making the father's blood boil.

'Dr Jekyll came out,' he said of the moment he snapped at The Gap skate park in Brisbane last month, recalling the event in a 60 Minutes preview ahead of Sunday's full episode.

His daughter claimed the child had relentlessly bullied her by calling her names and giving her insulting gifts.

'(He) called me names like gorilla and King Kong, he would buy me shaving cream for Christmas so that I would shave,' she told reporter Liz Hayes.

Bladen explained he intended on giving the boy a 'good old fashioned talking to' on the day he ended up physically assaulting him.

'(But) he smiled at me,' the man said, alluding to the moment that pushed him over the edge and into a violent rage.

Chilling footage showed the moment the grown man threw himself towards the boy, who was sitting on a bench at the time, as one of his friends yelled 'get the f*** off him'.

Friends of the father have since praised him for sticking up for his 'princess', with one saying he hoped he 'would do it again'.

'He's got to stand up for his family,' one member of Chermside Darts Club said, as another agreed, saying, 'I would hope that he would do it again, to be honest.'

A woman, believed to be the mother of the bullying victim, defended the father saying, 'he did what any parent would do'.

Mr Bladen pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm and was sentenced on March 20 to pay $1000 with no conviction recorded, and ordered to pay $500 compensation.

His victim suffered bruising to his throat and scratches to his limbs in the fight, which was eventually broken up by his friends. 

Mr Bladen told police he was 'aghast' at his behaviour, and apologised outside court to the victim.

'I'm very sorry for what I did, very regretful and ashamed,' he said. 'Please don't do what I did, I just lost control. It's definitely not the way to handle things,' he said.

In his interview, Mr Bladen said he thought there was too much 'political correctness' evident in current society.

'When I was young you treated a lady like a lady and it should be the same way now,' he said.

'We live in a day of political correctness, and I hate it.'


Australia Set To Have Its Coldest Winter On Record

While we've all been freezing our arses off in the Northern hemisphere over the past few months, folk in Australia have been busy enjoying the summer sun and sticking shrimp on the barbie.

Well, Aussies, it's probably time to invest in some thermals - the land down under is set to be hit by its coldest winter on record, an amateur weather forecaster has confirmed.

David Taylor, who runs the East Coast Weather Facebook page, has said that temperatures and snowfall may be worse than previous years and impact huge swathes of the country, the Daily Mail has reported.

"It will be slightly cooler than normal in the north but the real cold will be in the southern states and southeast Queensland," Taylor told the Cairns Post. "I wouldn't be surprised if there is snow in places where it hasn't snowed for a long time."

Taylor makes his forecast using a formula which considers changes in sunspot activity, Global Forecast System modelling, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast.

If you're wondering why you should listen to the advice of some bloke off Facebook, Taylor has been right about meteorlogical events in the recent past - putting his success down to his sunspot tracking.

Taylor was the only person to correctly predict the massive weather event that hit Townsville last week which saw the north-east coast hit with 600m of rain on 28 February.

He also predicted that this week a 'decent cyclone' will cross the Queensland coast between Cairns and Gladstone, backing his assertion up by pointing to other forecasters who are saying the same thing. "It's looking pretty scary," he said.

Europe and America have already endured a hard winter this year with huge parts of the world seeing historic amounts of snowfall and freezing temperatures.

Back in January, Storm Grayson battered the eastern coast of the United States, sending temperatures in some areas plummeting to an unfathomable -69C.

The arrival of the 'bomb cyclone' brought with it a massive blizzard, freezing lakes and rivers across the north-east of the US and making -39C temperatures feel twice as cold due to icy winds.

The weather was so cold that it even temporarily froze Niagara Falls, turning the famous waterfalls into giant icicles.

Over the past few weeks Europe's been bearing the brunt of the weather too thanks to the arrival of Storm Emma and the Beast from the East.

The weather was so bad in the UK that the Met Office were forced to announce red severe weather warnings for snow, high winds and ice in some areas - the first time that's happened since 2013.


Border control is key to successful multiculturalism: Malcolm Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told a German audience that the “sovereign right” to control a country’s borders is vital to successful multiculturalism, drawing applause for the remark at a time of heightened concern over immigration.

Mr Turnbull told a Berlin foundation that using firm policies to stop people smugglers was important to keeping community support for immigration, as he acknowledged the big growth in the number of Australians born overseas.

The remark came hours before the Prime Minister met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said she expected to discuss migration policy with Mr Turnbull in their formal meeting in Berlin on Monday. “We shall discuss migration policy, an exchange of views on that. Development policy will also loom large on the agenda,” Ms Merkel said before the meeting.

While trade talks figured strongly in the meeting, Fairfax Media understands immigration policy was not addressed directly. Instead, there was a brief discussion of Australia’s population make-up and its links to the Asian region, given the leaders have discussed border control policies before.

Ms Merkel’s controversial decision to allow about one million Syrian refugees into Germany cost her significant popular support ahead of the last election, which resulted in a Bundestag that took months to form a government.

Mr Turnbull delivered a speech on trade and security to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation on Monday, just before his meeting with the Chancellor, but found that one of the questions was about how Australian succeeded as a multicultural nation.

“We manage our immigration program very carefully,” Mr Turnbull replied. “We go to great lengths to ensure that when people come to Australia, they, particularly through the humanitarian programs for refugees, they are settled. The settlement services are always a very big part of our immigration program."

The Prime Minister said the government was "absolutely determined" to ensure that people do not come to Australia other than with the consent of the government of Australia.

Mr Turnbull told the audience that Labor had “allowed border protection to slip” and produced the “tragic” story of thousands unauthorised arrivals and 1200 deaths at sea.

“So we know what works and what doesn’t. Migration programs, a multicultural society, need to have a commitment, an understanding and the trust of the people, that the government, their government, is determining who comes to the country,” he said.

“So being in control of your borders is absolutely critical. I think that is a fundamental foundation of our success as a multicultural society, as a migration nation as people often describe us. “You have to exert your sovereign right to control your own borders.”

Those comments drew applause from some in the audience, signalling the concern over questions of migration and settlement in Germany.

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

26 April, 2018

A heartfelt day of remembrance

The Left do their best to mock ANZAC day but their influence is just a tiny rock being overflowed by a great stream of national remembrance -- as again happened this year

Australia has always subscribed to the great British tradition of always having allies -- so we never have to fight alone. For example, during WW2 millions of Russians died to help preserve British freedom.  

But as allies we have to join those allies in their confrontations.  So since 1899 (Yes. 1899. Not 1989) Australian troops have joined in just about all of Britain's and America's wars.  There are only short intervals where Australian troops are not fighting in a war or confrontation somewhere on the globe.  So despite its small population and out of the way location Australia has some of the worlds most seasoned troops.

No soldier likes war.  Wars kill soldiers. But when asked to serve they give of their best.  So ANZAC day is NOT a celebration of war or an outburst of militarism.  It is a commemoration of the grit and determination of the men who have fallen -- very often men of our own family.  We take this one day to honour them and hope that we are worthy of them.

A massive crowd has gathered in Sydney's CBD for this year's Anzac Day parade which, for the first time, is being led by hundreds of female veterans.

Rain has not deterred crowds from lining Elizabeth Street to watch more than 16,000 servicemen and women march to commemorate 103 years since troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.

Among those at the head of the parade will be 100-year-old Molly Cummings, who is honouring her many family members who have served for Australia.


ABC regular Catherine Deveny is SLAMMED as a 'bigot' and 'disgusting' after her Twitter rant against Anzac Day

Outrage has flooded social media after "comedian" and ABC regular Catherine Deveny continued her attacks on Anzac Day and Australian soldiers.

Just hours after claiming the dangers faced by soldiers are no different to other jobs, the ex-television joke writer went on the attack again, calling the historic day 'bogan Halloween'.

In response furious social media users bombarded her Twitter with replies, dubbing Ms Deveny everything from an 'attention seeker' to a 'bigot' and even 'un-Australian'.

Ms Deveny first riled up the Twittersphere on Tuesday morning with: 'Why do people in the armed forces use the word 'serve' to describe their work despite it being no more dangerous or prone to upheaval than many other jobs?'

That attack was followed by several more during the day.

In response, Ms Deveny's feed was filled with angry responses from punters, media personalities and ex-service personnel alike.

'My grandad's right leg was torn apart by a Japanese bayonet whilst "serving" on the Kokoda Trail... reminds me of an epic struggle I had with a Microsoft Word document yesterday,' wrote one furious punter.

'Catherine Deveny doesn't even have a good point or anything... just a poor attempt to be provocative,' said another.

Senator Derryn Hinch joined the disapproving chorus: 'You work. They serve and many died while serving. Deveny, what a disgusting Anzac week tweet.'

One angry ex-soldier asked Ms Deveny how many years she had served in the armed forces, to which she responded: 'You didn't "serve your country", you chose a job in the violence industry'.

'My father... joined up after the fall of Singapore when it looked as if Australia might be invaded and was killed in action... you're a bigot,' she wrote.

In one of her rants, Ms Deveny defended her initial tweet by listing all the professions she believed were just as dangerous as the army.

'Firefighters, paramedics, police, doctors, social workers, nurses, window cleaners, miners, arborists, labours, farmers, construction workers, people who work with those suffering severe mental illness, prison officers, roofers, teachers (in American schools), loggers, fishermen,' she said.

She then went further, suggesting soldiers were 'sucked in with the glamour of war and racism under the guise of patriotism'.

Australia has been involved in a series of major overseas conflicts since the turn of the twentieth century, but its the nation's involvement in the WWI at Gallipoli and in WWII in the Pacific and Europe, that are best remembered on Anzac Day.


Should we be copying New Zealand? More than HALF of Australians think we take in too many migrants - while NZ PM Jacinda Ardern starts to slash their intake

A majority of Australians believe immigration levels are too high at a time when our trans-Tasman neighbour New Zealand begins slashing its intake of foreigners.

The Newspoll survey of 2068 people, published in The Australian on Monday, had 56 per cent of respondents declaring Australia's annual intake of 190,000 was too high with just 28 per cent saying it was about right.

Both major parties in Australia are committed to an all-time high permanent immigration level as New Zealand's minority Labour government, led by Jacinda Ardern, embarks on a promise to slash net immigration by more than 40 per cent.

The small Pacific nation's 37-year-old prime minister campaigned during last year's election to drastically cut the net annual immigration rate from 72,000 to 42,000.

Millionaire businessman Dick Smith, who spends his own money campaigning to reduce Australia's immigration intake, predicted the Australian Labor Party was more likely than the Coalition to slash immigration. 'I have no doubt before the next election one of the parties will astutely announce it's going to have a sensible immigration policy and they'll be elected,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Monday.

'It's most likely Labor because if you bring immigration back to 70,000 - what it was at Paul Keating's time - you can still do any amount of family reunion so that would give them the ethnic vote.

'Most of the ethnic community are concerned about the fact that there's traffic gridlock destroying Australia - they're just as concerned as anyone else.'

During the early 1990s, when Paul Keating was Labor prime minister, Australia's net annual immigration intake hovered around the 20th century average of 70,000.

However, returning to that level would require a 63 per cent reduction to Australia's current immigration pace of 190,000 per annum.

Former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott is the highest profile proponent on the Coalition side of slashing Australia's immigration intake - despite his own record as PM - with no current Labor politicians echoing his call.

'We're adding a city the size of Adelaide to our population every five years and I think that we should very significantly scale it back, at least until infrastructure, housing starts and integration have caught up,' he told Sydney radio 2GB's Ray Hadley on Monday morning.

However, Dick Smith said the conservative side of politics was more swayed by the business lobby's push to maintain high immigration levels in order to boost demand and suppress wages growth.

'The reason it would be harder for the Liberals is they are basically financed by wealthy people and wealthy people are the only people who benefit from more Australians - you become wealthier,' he said.

The electronics chain founder and adventurer said company bosses were under pressure to keep 'enormous immigration' so there was more demand for their products.

'If you're on a board or you're the managing director of a company, you have to have endless growth, endless profit growth or you will get the sack,' he said.

'Overpopulation will destroy Australia.'

Mr Smith said Pauline Hanson's One Nation would pick up votes from the major parties unless they changed their immigration policies.


Government doing nothing to stop violent hate speech

Leading political commentator and columnist for The Australian Janet Albrechtsen is calling on the government to protect our values before it’s too late.

In recent years the government has turned its focus on prosecuting people for “offending or insulting” others but turns a blind eye to speech that actually incites violence.

Ms Albrechtsen gives Alan several recent examples across Queensland and New South Wales that cannot be put up with.

One poster says “legalise the execution of jews” another says “join your fellow faggots” alongside an image of a gay man committing suicide.

“These are words that incite violence and yet the NSW Government has done nothing, even though it’s promised on so many occasions to do something.

“They know that legislation doesn’t work. Because if it did work it would be used on so many occasions to shut down words that incite violence.

“This is not about hurt feelings, this is not about insulting someone, this is about inciting violence.”


Former ASIO officer sues police for $750,000 claiming he was wrongfully arrested, put in a deadly chokehold and told by an officer 'they could shoot him and get a medal'

Gold Coast police again.  They are deep-dyed thugs. No part of this is appropriate police behaviour

A former federal security and police officer is suing Queensland Police for $750,000 claiming he was put in a deadly chokehold in a wrongful arrest.

Paul Gibbons alleges officers were excessively violent, abused him and threatened him on his honeymoon at a hotel in the Gold Coast.

He claimed he was confronted by police because they were allegedly annoyed at him taking 10 seconds to open the locked door to the hotel lobby.

One reportedly told him they could shoot him and receive a medal according to papers lodged to Brisbane District Court show, the ABC reports.

Mr Gibbons, who previously served in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), has taken the State of Queensland to court.

He is claiming damages for assault, battery, wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.

Footage from a security camera inside the hotel lobby shows the moment he is wrestled to the ground after police surrounded him when he started filming them on his phone, Mr Gibbons alleges.

The ABC reports Mr Gibbons claims the officers threatened to arrest him for obstructing police, who were at the hotel for another matter.

The former ASIO agent, who also served in the Australian Federal Police, says when he questioned why they required entry, a police officer pointed to his gun saying the weapon was his authority.

The court heard the officer allegedly said: 'When we tell you to do something, you don't ask questions. You f***ing do it. 'Hell, we can put a bullet in your f***in' head and get a medal.'

One of the officers said the recording on Mr Gibbons phone would be 'easily remedied' flashing a torch directly into the camera.

The CCTV footage shows Mr Gibbons handcuffed on the floor while an officer scrolls through the device.

Mr Gibbons said he felt as though his throat would be crushed by one of the officers when they squeezed him during the incident in 2016.

The same officer is alleged to have later said: 'I'm going to kill you c***. When we get you out to the truck, I'm going to smash your f***ing face in c***.'

Part of the claim also includes $50,000 for potentially missing out on selling the footage from his phone to the media after it was deleted.

The state government, who is representing police in the case, has not replied to the lawsuit. A spokesman for the Queensland Police Service said the force could not comment while the matter was being dealt with in court.


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

25 April, 2018

Why did a police officer give out a woman's address to her abusive ex?

A Queensland Police officer has managed to keep his job after he deliberately and callously leaked the address of a woman fleeing intimate partner violence to the abusive ex-husband she was trying to escape.

Senior Constable Neil Punchard had found Elizabeth’s (not her real name) address using the confidential police database, and directed the man to “just tell her you know where she lives and leave it that”. He then joked with Elizabeth’s ex that she would “flip out” when she realised her ex – who had a string of domestic violence orders against him – had her address and “will explode”.

Sickeningly, SC Punchard is also said to have offered advice to the man in dealing with the Family Court, and offered to liaise with other police officers to assist him in any complaints.

“If she gets the police,” he told the man, “tell them to contact me or give me their names and I will contact them. I won’t hinder the investigation, but I will give them a heads up on what has happened.”

As Elizabeth said back in 2016 when the case was first brought to light, “Knowing an officer had not only aided and encouraged a perpetrator to not only stalk me but many other horrible things, it’s really left me feeling very unsafe and I really would like to know why the police commissioner has not stood this person down.”

In April 2017, Elizabeth received a letter from the assistant commissioner who informed her that an investigation had found “sufficient evidence to support the allegations made by you”, which is to say that SC Punchard had deliberately leaked details that put Elizabeth and her family in fear for her safety. Despite this acknowledgment of fact, Elizabeth was informed that the constable wouldn’t be charged and that, following an internal disciplinary hearing, “the matter has been addressed [and] I do not intend to take any further action and now consider this matter closed”.

Yes, you read that correctly. A senior constable who colluded with her abusive ex-partner to reveal a woman's private location and facilitate further harassment and fear really did just get a little slap on the wrist while being allowed to keep his job. A job, by the way, that places him in the path of other victims fleeing the abusive men he very clearly feels kinship with.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In February 2017, a woman reported that her ex had been accidentally informed of her address due to an apparent clerical error, despite having breached several intervention orders and having threatened to kill the woman’s children.

As Sherele Moody reports here, “Queensland public servants have handed out women’s addresses to accused DV perpetrators three times in the past twelve months.”

It’s another damning indictment on police services generally throughout Australia, who have presided over a long and sordid history of Aboriginal deaths in custody, police bashings, and who have – in the past month alone – been implicated in situations where disabled members of the community have been beaten and humiliated and an Aboriginal woman has been forced to give birth alone in a police cell.

There are no other words for it. This is an absolute outrage.

Not only has this most recent incident endorsed the practice of boys protecting boys, it has doubled down on that by providing no consequences to a man with the authority to enforce the law who thinks it's funny to terrify a woman in his community. By choosing to handle this internally and continue SC Punchard’s employment, the Queensland Police Service has sent a clear message that they cannot be trusted to protect the community, only to protect the men who command it.

If members of an already male-dominated police force are working against the interests and safety of women victimised by abusive men, how can anyone trying to escape those circumstances possibly look to the institution for help?

This isn’t a case of men’s rights activists stoking each other’s paranoia in the pub or on Facebook groups – these are men’s rights activists who have access to sensitive information, power and authority.

One of the riskiest times for a person escaping an abusive partner is in the period immediately after leaving. According to social workers specialising in the field, this is when a victim is most at risk of being killed. In Australia, one woman is killed every week by a partner or ex-partner, and a significant number of these domestic homicides are perpetrated following the dissolution of the relationship.

But in addition to the risk of homicide, the victims are also subjected to harassment, bullying, threats, and ongoing attempts to continue to exert control. It’s absolutely vital that support and protection be granted to people who have been brave enough to flee situations like this, and that there are systems in place they can trust to take care of them.


‘Let them display their symbols’

In a fortuitous coincidence, The Australian today published comments from Australian soldiers a century apart in their origins and inspiration, yet surely linked by culture and relevance.

Former sergeant Justin Huggett reacted viscerally to new defence chief Angus Campbell’s ban on “death-style iconography” and other symbols used by army units to identify and motivate themselves. He says the new directive “denigrates morale” for soldiers and this can only diminish their combat power.

“There’s a lot of history with this. There’s the spirit and pride. I’ve had Vietnam veterans tell me about the emblems from Vietnam. This is a tradition that has been around for years. They are going to be lost to history,’’ Mr Huggett told The Australian.

It is difficult to disagree with the soldier’s point of view. We expect — nay demand — our military personnel are trained to kill, in order to protect our way of life, and we expect — nay demand — that they are prepared to risk their own lives in order to do so. There can be no greater expectation.

We send our military personnel into theatres of horror and uncertainty. We cannot imagine the pressures or the difficulties, not to mention the terror and grief they have confronted over recent decades in Afghanistan where Huggett was awarded a Medal of Gallantry and 41 Australian soldiers have been killed.

I have been lucky enough to meet soldiers on deployment in East Timor, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan — their professionalism, dedication and refusal to ever complain is always immensely impressive. Yet, dug in on a mountain outpost in Afghanistan, or bunkered down against terrorist insurgencies in Iraq, we demand they don’t display symbols of death or camaraderie?! They are in a situation where the choice is to kill their enemies or be killed; yet from the offices of defence headquarters in Canberra our soldiers are constantly lectured on gender diversity and fluidity, inclusive employment targets and eschewing symbols of war.

They are paid to kill and risk their lives on behalf of all of us but, at all times, to watch their manners and be sure not to offend the sensibilities of self-righteous human resources professionals and human rights advocates back home.

The other quotes — dating from experiences exactly a century ago — come from our most celebrated soldier, General Sir John Monash. He is quoted in Paul Kelly’s article today from his own memoir, writing about the character of the Australian soldier. “His bravery was founded upon his sense of duty to his unit, comradeship to his fellows, emulation to uphold his traditions and a combative spirit to avenge his hardships and sufferings upon the enemy,” wrote Monash.

“Very much and very stupid comment has been made upon the discipline of the Australian soldier. That was because the very conception and purpose of discipline have been misunderstood. It is, after all, only a means to an end. It does not mean lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs, nor a suppression of individuality.

“The Australian is accustomed to teamwork. The teamwork which he developed in the war was of the highest order of efficiency. The truest test of battle discipline was the confidence which every leader in the field always felt that he could rely upon every man to perform the duty which had been prescribed for him, as long as breath lasted. A soldier, a platoon, a whole battalion would soon sacrifice themselves than ‘let down’ a comrade or another unit.”

Sir John Monash would know. Our current defence leaders might want to ponder this culture, this legacy.

Our men and women in the battlefield need to be accorded the freedom and encouragement to fight for their values and their comrades rather than have to worry about the equal opportunity goals of their superiors or contemplate how they can mete out the ultimate in violence without ever giving the impression that they might be motivated to employ actual aggression. Let them be. Let them proudly display their symbols of defiance, aggression and teamwork.


University entrance exam should be simplified or even abolished, says chief scientist Alan Finkel

If it discourages STEM enrolment it certainly should be altered

Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel says the national system for university entry should be simplified or even abolished entirely because it is "completely obscure" and lacks transparency.

The controversial call prompted the head of the NSW committee on HSC scaling to concede it was impossible for the system to be simple and transparent as well as being equitable.

Dr Finkel said the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank "might be fantastic" as a university selection tool but was "very, very poor" in helping students choose their year 12 subjects.

The disagreement arises from concern the ATAR motivates students to pick HSC or VCE subjects based on how well their scores will "scale", or convert, into their final ranking.

Speaking upon the release of his report on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education - first reported by Fairfax Media on Saturday - Dr Finkel said the perception that the ATAR rewarded easier subjects was having a detrimental impact on the take-up of STEM courses.

"For whatever reason – rightly or wrongly – the ATAR is leading to students being given poor advice," he told Fairfax Media.

"It’s completely obscure. As a tool for university selection, ATAR might be fantastic. But as a tool that guides students as to what they should choose, through the consultations we saw that it was very, very poor."

Experts have defended the integrity of the ATAR system but Dr Finkel said that did not matter because "the reality is not what it is but what it’s perceived to be".

"We did not come across anybody who was capable of explaining it to us, and there was no value for us to go and find out from an absolute expert because it doesn’t matter," he said.

"When you make something sufficiently complex – and it is – then the perceptions of it will necessarily be either confused or simplified or completely erroneous."

Dr Finkel's STEM report, which is under consideration by the country's education ministers, urged governments to review the ATAR but did not make specific recommendations.

The chief scientist said he was not certain of the solution but one "extreme" option would be to abolish the ATAR in favour of the US system whereby individual universities manage their own entrance schemes.

Alternatively, Dr Finkel said, "let's at least simplify the ATAR so that every single parent and every single teacher and every single career adviser can understand it".

However, the chair of the Technical Committee on Scaling in NSW, Rod Yager, said complexity was necessary if the calculation of student rankings was to be kept fair.

"Everyone wants us to have a system that is equitable, simple and transparent. Unfortunately those three things are mutually exclusive," he told Fairfax Media.

"In order to be equitable, one has to consider and make adjustments for a whole host of factors that take away the simplicity and the transparency."

The complexity was illustrated by research that found the scaling system had led to lower scores in some language subjects and contributed to the declining popularity of languages.

But Mr Yager denied the ATAR could be "gamed" or manipulated by strategically choosing subjects that were disproportionately rewarded by the system.

"That’s not how it works in reality. There is some perception out there that that’s what happens, and unfortunately people react to that perception," he said.

"Don’t play the scaling game. We work really hard to make sure that there is no advantage from taking one course or another."

But the two men agreed universities had erred by largely abandoning mathematics prerequisites for courses such as science and economics.

"There is no doubt that that has been one of the worst decisions that universities have made, in my opinion," Mr Yager said.


Wind turbines delivering next to nothing to grid despite hysteria

Are we completely insane? Well, almost our entire political class and the overwhelming majority of – self-believing – “clever people” seemingly certainly are.

As I write this Wednesday evening, all those wonderful “clean” wind turbines across Victoria and South Australia are pumping out all of 30MW of electricity.

They are supposed to have the capacity to produce more than 3400MW – that’s 1½ Hazelwoods. They were operating at less than 1 per cent of capacity.

How many times do you have to say and write “when the wind don’t blow (and the sun don’t shine) the power don’t flow” to break through the thick skulls of “clever people” from PMs and premiers, through company chairman and CEOs being paid salaries in the millions and all the way down to academics and media idiots?

If the wind doesn’t blow then no power is generated.

Oh wait, sorry; all those turbines across SA and Victoria have now kicked up to producing 74MW. That’s a much more impressive 2 per cent of capacity.

Supply – more accurately, non supply – of electricity is one aspect of the insanity. The other is price. The wholesale price in SA was running at over $130 a MW hour. Victorians were doing a little better at around $108 a MW hour.

As the wind picked up, the SA price plummeted to $126 a MWh and Victoria’s to $106.

In the “bad old days” – all the way back to around 2000 – when we had wicked old, coal-fired power stations chugging away reliably pumping out electricity, irrespective of wind and sun, we paid $20-$30 a MWh, day in and day out.

It was so terribly boring – there’s so much more excitement, indeed real frisson, when prices can change by as much as that in a matter of minutes, as the wind chooses to blow or not.

And of course back then Gaia was crying tears of blood.

Never mind, as the AFR’s renewables (and Tesla) fanboy Ben Potter breathlessly informed us this week, a mammoth 9691 megawatts of new wind and solar capacity would be added to the national energy market by the early 2020s.

One can assume that Potter is as mathematically challenged as energy minister Josh Frydenberg; that like most of our 2018 “clever people” they’ve never had explained to them that any number multiplying zero still gives you zero.

We now have 3400MW of installed – OK, I’ll go along with the joke and call it – “capacity” – wind in Victoria and SA. As I wrote, that was producing all of 30MW, according to the market operator AEMO.

You can add that mammoth 9691MW, but if the wind is blowing as the same gentle zephyr, you’ll kick the relative output up to all of 115 MW.

Pity, that Victoria and SA alone need around 7500MW pretty much every hour, all day. Although, true, presumably the two states will need less by the early 2020s as more and more factories are shuttered as a consequence of crippling power prices.

To emphasise for Josh and Ben and all the others “clever people”/idiots: if you’ve got 3400MW of wind “capacity” and the wind don’t blow you will get zero or close to zero electricity.

You can have 13,000 MW of wind “capacity” and if the wind don’t blow you will still get zero or close to zero electricity.


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

24  April, 2018

Leftist hatred of Anzac day

At least as far back as the early 60s, the Left have been trying to ridicule Anzac day to death.  That it is basically a time for us to mourn relatives who died in war seems lost on them. From the French revolution onwards death has never bothered Leftists

In 1958, homosexual playwright Alan Seymour wrote the play "The one day of the year.  It portrayed Anzac day as nothing more than drunken debauchery. It became something of a hit, so much so that it was on the high school English curriculum when I was there a few years later.

The contempt  has not worked, however.  The celebration of the day has gone from strength to strength with young people stepping up to inclusion.

But the contempt rumbles on.  Below is what the far-Leftist webzine "New Matilda" has contributed for this year's occasion -- an article which disrespects Anzac day.

The curious thing about Leftist attitudes to Anzac day is that the day is actually a celebration of a big military defeat suffered by allied troops. With the assistance of incompetent British generals, the Turks gave the Anzacs a drubbing.

Leftists normally love any downfall in their own society so one would think that Leftists would feel somewhat kindly towards Anzac day.  But it is not so.

Why? Just the usual shallowness of Leftist thinking.  They think it is about military men so it must be bad.  Leftist guerillas shooting at others from behind cover is fine and honorable but brave soldiers who voluntarily put themselves in the line of fire are contemptible

NEARLY one year since a controversial Anzac Day Facebook post which sparked a major backlash, Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied has once again weighed in to the debate.

The author and TV host came under fire last April for writing, “Lest. We. Forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine ...)”. Despite deleting the post and apologising for being “disrespectful”, the resulting media firestorm and ultimately led to her leaving Australia, which she later compared to an “abusive boyfriend”.

“Only seven more days before another unsuspecting Australian gets run out of town for some mild criticism of the diggers,” New Matilda journalist Ben Eltham tweeted on Tuesday.

Ms Abdel-Magied replied, “Hot tip — you don’t even need to mention the diggers. You just need to ask for people to extend their empathy to others.”

“We hate asylum seekers and people on welfare and animal rights activists and those who seek a more just society. My dad fought in Vietnam and he would agree with you, Yassmin — and I agree with you.”

Last week, Ms Abdel-Magied was denied entry to the US where she was scheduled to speak at a New York event titled “No Country for Young Muslim Women”. US immigration officials said she was put on a plane back to the UK because she did not have the correct visa.

She later told Channel Ten’s The Project she was subjected to “aggressive” treatment, with the officer at one point saying she would “shoot” her. “When the officer got aggressive, my gut instinct to use humour kicked in,” she said. “I jokingly asked if she was going to shoot me. She said, ‘I will’.”

Earlier this year, Ms Abdel-Magied revealed a racism complaint about her tweets had been dismissed by the Australian Human Rights Commission. She recently made her acting debut in the SBS digital series Homecoming Queens, and will host Hijabistas!, a six-part series on Islamic fashion, airing on ABC iView on May 1.


Afghanistan war veteran pens scathing open letter blasting new Australian Army chief for 'farcical' ban on soldiers using 'offensive death symbols' like the skull mask

Another politically correct general alienates the troops. David Morrison was a pain and now Campbell.  If it's any consolation Britain has just appointed  General Sir Nick Carter, who is even more politically correct.  Political correctness in the armed forces even seems to survive conservative administrations

An Afghanistan War veteran has savaged the Chief of Army's directive that all 'death iconology' be banned from use in the Australian Army.

Lieutenant General Angus John Campbell said icons like the skull mask and Grim Reaper were 'arrogant and ill-considered' and 'eroded the ethos of the Army'.

However former 2RAR Platoon Sergeant Justin Huggett has written an open letter to General Campbell after learning about the new directive and ban.

Mr Huggett is a veteran of the Afghanistan War where he was awarded the Army's Medal of Gallantry. 

'As a soldier that served under you at the 2nd Battalion, it only disappointments me even further to read of this,' he wrote in the open letter.

'Going the next step, the fact you yourself are an Infantry head spins with confusion!'

Mr Huggett said he found the calls 'so left of field and farcical' that he thought it must have been a hoax.

'But now, I am just left wondering as to the levels of stupidity that this order can be interpreted or enforced he wrote.

Mr Huggett then goes on to list some of the more well known icons within the Army and how calls to ban them are in his opinion absurd.

'I ask you to consider the following. Have you seen the movie Jaws, based on a big nasty evil killer shark indiscriminately eating everyone in its path?' he wrote.

'Does the proud heritage of the Bravo Company Men and their Company logo of a Circling Shark disappear forever?'

He mentioned Charlie Company and its use of a dragon as their emblem and then gives examples that show why he feels the calls by General Campbell don't hold water.

'What about the 2/4RAR Delta Company Road Runner?', he continues.

'He without remorse affected the murdered (sic) of Wiley Coyote multiple times. Is this feathered beast from the depths of hell a concern to you and the public?

'Are you starting see the point here Sir?'

Mr Huggett then directly references his own mortar unit.

'The most senior platoon in the Battalion,' he wrote.

'Our emblem is the Grim Reaper, with the words 'Dealers in Death'.

'I can tell you this with great certainty...the 1000s MAGGOTS that served in that Platoon will hand over their Reaper Shirts the day the Devil snowboards down the slopes of hell.'

He wrote that to abolish 'years of pride and history' based on 'the minority' of people being offended was a reflection of how modern day society is going.

Then he goes on to point out how the most enduring and recognisable icon in the Australian Army was one based around violence and death.

'You wear it; I am very fortune along with 1000s of others to have the honour and privilege of wearing it, The Infantry Combat Badge (ICB),' he wrote.

'A badge based around the bayonet, the most feared and gruesome up close and personal weapon on the battlefield.'

The combat infantry badge has a bayonet as its centrepiece.

'An emblem or icon that is matched by no other and has no other purpose in its existence other than inflicting extreme pain, bone chilling physical and psychological fear in your enemy and of course horrific death,' he wrote.

'Yet as Infantrymen, not only do we wear it with pride, it's worn as the centre of importance above our medals on our ceremonial uniforms and suits!

'Men have it tattooed on them, flags of it fly in man caves and sheds, shirts and hats are emblazoned proudly with it.'

Mr Huggett asks General Campbell if he will go so far as to ban the ICB.

'This is the most violent emblem of death there is in our Military? Are you getting it yet, Sir?' he continues.

Mr Huggett then goes on to hammer the most obvious point home. 'The Army, in particular the Infantry (sic), are a fighting force designed to kill!' he states. 'We are not and never should be a reflection of society, we are trained and programmed that way.'

He said that he feels 'every effort' is being made by the 'top levels' to denigrate the combat effectiveness of the army.

'At present Sir, this decision is the most talked about thing in veteran forums at the moment...and in no way have I seen any remotely close to positive feedback, either on the decision itself or you personally,' he continued.

He said that any respect General Campbell was hoping to garner from the enlisted men and women of the army would collapse with this decision and he doubts General Campbell would 'ever get it back.'


Newspoll: Voters back migration cut

A majority of Australians has backed moves for a lower annual immigration rate, in a result that will lend support to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s push to reduce the intake through tougher vetting.

An exclusive Newspoll conducted for The Australian has revealed that 56 per cent of Australian voters believe the existing immigration cap of 190,000 a year is too high, 28 per cent think it is at the right level and 10 per cent consider it too low.

A similar number believe white South African farmers subjected to a campaign of violence and discrimination in their homeland should be afforded the same status by Australia as asylum-seekers from other parts of the world.

In a blunt message to both sides of politics, Labor and Coalition voters are overwhelmingly of the belief that a cap of 190,000 for the annual migration rate — a target set by the former Labor government — is too high.

The debate has even divided Greens voters, with more of the party’s supporters believing it is too high than those who say it is too low.

However, the poll results are also likely to be seized upon by Coalition MPs including Tony Abbott who have championed an even lower number in a debate that has divided government ranks.

Mr Dutton first raised the issue of white South African farmers in March following reports of extreme violence and intimidation.  He suggested they may warrant special attention on humanitarian grounds.

This sparked a storm of protest from activist groups and the Greens.

The nationwide poll of 2068 people, taken between April 19 and April 22, shows that 28 per cent of voters support a special immigration quota for the farmers — akin to the special program for persecuted Syrians — to come to Australia but 57 per cent agree that Australia should treat them no differently to asylum-seekers from other parts of the world.

This view was strongest among Greens voters — 77 per cent — followed by 66 per cent of Labor voters and 47 per cent of Coalition voters.

Support for a special quota was strongest among Coalition voters — 38 per cent — with almost universal support for equal treatment across all age groups.

On the broader issue of the annual permanent migration program, 60 per cent of Coalition and 49 per cent of Labor voters claim a target of 190,000 a year is too high, compared with 29 per cent and 33 per cent respectively believing it is about right.

Belief was strongest among voters over 55, with 66 per cent claiming it was too high compared with 46 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds.

Supporters of the Greens — who have policies in support of large humanitarian immigration intakes but also support anti-development and environmental protection — appeared split with 32 per cent agreeing it was too high, 36 per cent claiming it was about right and 27 per cent claiming it was too low.

The issue last week opened up divisions in Coalition ranks over denials by Malcolm Turnbull that he overruled a plan by Mr Dutton to lower the 190,000 ceiling by 20,000.

The Australian confirmed that this drop will more than likely now be achieved through the normal vetting procedures put in place in 2015.

The debate also saw the release of a report last week that confirmed that the annual ­permanent intake was making Australians richer.

A report released by Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs made the case for a big Australia, claiming the intake was forecast to add up to one percentage point to GDP growth each year for 30 years, while making a combined lifetime tax contribution of almost $7 billion.


Malcolm Turnbull, Coalition hit back ahead of May budget

Malcolm Turnbull has returned the Coalition to its strongest electoral position since September 2016, having eroded Labor’s commanding lead over the past 18 months to just two points as the government heads to the critical May budget.

The Prime Minister’s personal ratings have also rebounded following renewed questions over his leadership and suggestions that he could be vulnerable to a challenge in the second half of the year.

The latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows the Coalition reducing Labor’s lead to 51-49 on a two-party-preferred split.

While confirming 31 losing Newspolls for the Coalition under Mr Turnbull, who now exceeds the benchmark of leadership failure he set for Tony Abbott, it is the best result since the immediate post-2016 election period and follows the Prime Minister’s declaration two weeks ago that he believed he could still lead the ­Coalition to victory at the next election.

The latest poll was conducted in the wake of the banking royal commission revelations last week as the government sought to ­cauterise any potential political damage by announcing unprecedented criminal and civil penalties for banks, their directors and employees following confessions by executives of widespread banking malpractice and deception.

Mr Turnbull, who is today in Germany ahead of Anzac Day commemorations in France and has been overseas since last Monday night, has also enjoyed a significant bounce in his personal standing, which tanked during the Barnaby Joyce love-child scandal.

A four-point rise in satisfaction levels to 36 per cent has restored perceptions of his performance to the levels recorded after the ­summer break during which the Prime Minister was also largely absent from the public spotlight.

The personal boost for Mr Turnbull comes despite the first week of the current polling cycle being dominated by intense ­scrutiny of his leadership after he levelled the benchmark he set for Mr Abbott’s failure by reaching 30 lost Newspolls on April 8.

A messy public dispute about proposals to reduce the annual cap for migration was also considered not to have played well for the government, with Mr Turnbull and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton appearing to be at odds over the issue.

But the two-week period also covered a significant government pre-budget infrastructure push into the eastern capital cities and northern regional areas. In the past fortnight Mr Turnbull has announced a $5 billion city rail link to Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport as well as $1bn for the M1 motorway link between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, while money was also pledged for projects in north Queensland.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also been camped in ­regional Queensland for much of the past week after having also made a commitment to help fund the $2.2bn Cross River Rail ­project in Brisbane.

With the ­Coalition having trailed Labor on an average 53-47 split for the past year, the results of this latest poll are likely to restore stability to Mr Turnbull’s leadership in the lead-up to the May 8 budget — the last before the next election.

It is the best result recorded for the Coalition in two-party-preferred terms since a 50-50 split in the Newspoll of September 11, 2016, just weeks after the election and before the start of a collapse in support for the Turnbull government.

The latest poll of 2068 voters nationally, conducted between April 19 and yesterday, suggests the Coalition would lose only six seats, assuming a uniform national swing, if the next election were to be held now.

The previous two-party-preferred vote of 53-47 in favour of Labor would, on paper, deliver a crushing defeat with the loss of ­between 14 and 21 seats.

Scrutiny of the latest results, however, ­reveals that the Coalition is still struggling to regain core support among voters.

The two-party-preferred gains have come from changes to second-preference intentions, with the primary vote for both major parties remaining unchanged — a historically low 38 per cent for the Coalition and 37 per cent for Labor.

While there was no movement for One Nation, which stayed at 7 per cent, the Greens, who have come under increasing scrutiny since a poor result in the Batman by-election in Melbourne in March, dropped back a point to 9 per cent.

Others — comprising independents such as Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives and the populist Nick Xenophon Team — gained a point to 9 per cent.

Mr Turnbull has also maintained a slim lead over Mr Shorten as the preferred prime minister with only a three-point margin separating the two leaders — a one-point improvement on the past poll result. Mr Turnbull ­remained on 38 per cent, which is comparatively low, while Mr Shorten dropped back a point to 35 per cent.


Traditional Aboriginal sign language from Central Australia highlighted in Hobart Language Day

Interesting to see if it has any resources that might be helpful to Western sign languages

Indigenous women have travelled more than 3,000 kilometres to share their language and traditional hand signing at Hobart Language Day.

Anmatyerr woman April Campbell and senior Anmatyerr elder Clarrie Nagamara travelled from Ti Tree to the Tasmanian capital to share iltyem-iltyem, the Anmatyerr name for Central Australian sign language.

Ms Campbell teaches Anmatyerr language to school children and works with elders to maintain language and culture.

She said it was important to educate others about her language. "We came here to Hobart to share our knowledge, we came to share hand signs that we always use in our community," she said.

"We use them when we go out hunting, when we are talking to deaf people and it is really important for us to use hand sign in sorry business.

"When somebody passes away we always use hand signs. And also we use hands signs to talk to elders."

Ms Campbell said preserving traditional sign language was crucial. "It is really important for kids to learn hand signs," she said. "To pass it on to next generations."

Ms Campbell and Ms Nagamara discussed the sign language they use at home with family, on hunting trips and as part of everyday communication.

They demonstrated a number of different signs and also shared traditional sand stories with young children at the event.

Linguist Jenny Green from Melbourne University, who accompanied the two Anmatyerr women to Hobart, said sign language was an important form of communication.

"These journeys to other places really open people's eyes up to different traditions from different places," she said. "It increases people's knowledge and respect for the fabulous diversity of language practices in this country. "As a person who has learnt some of these things as an outsider, as a white fella, I think they are beautiful languages."

Anmatyerr was one of about 20 languages, including Spanish, French and Russian, being shared at Hobart's fourth Language Day event.

Also shared was the revived Tasmanian Aboriginal language, palawa kani.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) describes palawa kani as being "the revived form of the original Tasmanian Aboriginal languages. It incorporates authentic elements of the original languages remembered by Tasmanian Aborigines from the 19th to the 21st centuries. It also draws on an extensive body of historical and linguistic research". "There are no living speakers of the original Tasmanian languages," the centre said.

"Spoken records of the original sounds are limited to a few sounds that can only just be heard when Fanny Cochrane Smith spoke on the records of her songs in 1899.

"So to attempt to recover the original sounds and meanings, we have to start from written records made by early Europeans of the sounds they heard, and the meanings they thought they understood when they heard our ancestors speak."

Hobart Language Day organiser Matthew Bishop said about 150 people attended. He said having Ms Campbell and Ms Nagamara at the event was "a special opportunity to learn". "It is a nice exchange of culture and opportunity to educate people that traditional sign language exists in Australia."


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

23 April, 2018

We're starting to give up on the ideal of Australia as a nation of equals

Self-promoted ethics "expert" Simon Longstaff below "feels" that there is great heartburn among many Australians about inequality in the country.  People feel very alienated from the society in which they live.  I talk with everyday Australians quite a lot and have yet to hear a complaint about inequality.  I think Longstaff is just projecting his own chronic Leftist anger onto others. In my thorough 1982 study of Alienation in Australia, I found that on average Australians were slightly below the midpoint on Alienation.  There was some alienation but it was not high overall.

And why should there be equality?  There IS no objective equality in Australia, there never has been such equality in Australia and utopian experiments in equality emanating from Australia have all been spectacular flops.  Given that circumstance Dr Longstaff should surely offer an argument about why there SHOULD be equality.  He does no such thing.  Given the twisted mazes of moral philosophy I don't blame him but it leaves his argument entirely up in the air. He just expects us to agree with his inchoate values.

He points out that in some contrived experimental situations  people are uncomfortable with inequality.  And that may be true.  But moving from an 'IS' to an "ought" is a totally unsustainable doctrine.  Many Yemenis are at the moment being starved to death.  Do we therefore argue that Yemenis SHOULD be starved to death?

So what is this "fundamental" equality that the man with the long staff talks about?  It is undefined and therefore unexaminable.

He is however talking about something that is a sort of tradition in Australia.  Australians are often said to have "egalitarian" values. "Jack is as good as his master" is the usual formulation of it.  And Australians do tend to feel that Australia is mostly pretty egalitarian.  So how do we deconstruct that popular belief?  I think it is talk about dignity.  I think that we Australians tend to treat everyone among us with equal dignity.  We don't treat Jack's master any more deferentially than we treat Jack.  And I think Australians have largely achieved that in practice. 

But the man with the long staff wants far more than that, it would seem. He wants material equality. He is unlikely to get it.  The Soviets tried and they failed

And why do such attempts always fail?  The unthinking Longstaff has not considered that. Could it be that IQ is a major determinant of economic success and that IQ is unequally distributed?  It is probably beyond Longstaff's capacity to think that thought but, if he can ever get his brain off its Leftist tramtracks, he might like to look at Charles Murray's book on the subject

One of the most significant findings to emerge from the work of behavioural economists is that human beings would rather go without than be treated unfairly.

This was discovered in a series of experiments involving two people — one of whom had $100 and the other who had nothing.

The person with the money was told they must offer an amount to the other — with each keeping the amount agreed.

Older economic theory assumes the person with nothing should be happy to receive as little as one dollar. After all, they are then better off than they would be with nothing.

Class Act

Australia has a class system, and it has real consequences in people's lives. Explore the full series.
However, the theory seemed to bear little or no relationship to practice.

It turned out that most people would rather have nothing than accept anything less than about $40. That is, people expected to receive a fair — rather than equal — share of the money.

What might explain this behaviour which seems, on the face of it, not to be rational?

In my opinion, the best explanation is that those insisting on fairness did so because they could see no fundamental basis for distinguishing between themselves and the lucky person who had the $100 in hand.

Growing sense of discontent

In other words, there is a presumption that — at the most basic level — people are equal in intrinsic dignity.

This idea is deeply written into the ethical codes of most societies. Whether arising out of religious beliefs (e.g. that all persons are made in the image of God) or from the work of philosophers like Immanuel Kant (all persons belong to the "kingdom of ends"), the idea runs deep that human beings possess intrinsic dignity — that can neither be earned nor diminished.

It is this concept of "respect for persons" that lies behind the prohibition of slavery — or any other practice that reduces a human being to the status of a mere tool to be exploited by others.

Yet, in recent years, there has been a growing sense of discontent — and this is despite a general increase in affluence across the developed world.

It used to be that the feeling of being marginalised was experienced by those who were literally on the margins of society.

The most egregious cases of deprivation, in Australia, have fallen on a significant number of Indigenous Australians — precisely because of a failure to acknowledge their fundamental equality.

However, that unsettling feeling has been spreading.

My sense is that a growing number of Australians feel that the mythic ideal of Australia as a nation of equals is losing all credibility.

They are angry. They are disappointed. They are vengeful. Above all, they are fearful that the nation's underlying "social compact" could have been so carelessly broken — and that the presumption in favour of basic equality has been replaced by indifference to a widening gap between: city and country, "elites" and ordinary folk, the "haves" and "have nots", the "political class" … and just about everyone else.

In essence, a very large number of people have come to feel they are just cogs in a machine — counting for nothing more than their capacity to work and vote.

They feel they serve a system that is indifferent to their hopes and interests — and that will exploit and discard them at will.

They feel robbed of their intrinsic dignity — and the basic equality that is their due.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia's (CEDA) latest research report, How unequal? Insights on inequality, turns the spotlight on this dimension of contemporary life. It provides a factual account of the extent of the problem — along with analysis and recommendations for addressing the underlying issues.

My contribution to the report has been to provide a philosophical underpinning to the discussion of inequality.

But beyond this, I have tried to show how the current situation is at odds with the intentions of philosophers like Adam Smith, who established the intellectual foundations for market economics.

Opportunity not merit-based, but 'accident of birth'

Economics as a discipline — and the market as a tool — were originally conceived of as means for increasing the stock of common good. Smith had no time for a kind of dog-eat-dog, let-it-rip economy. He championed a free market that depended on the maintenance of solid ethical foundations.

He denied the legitimacy of those who lie, cheat or use power oppressively because all such vices distort the market.

Furthermore, the market was supposed to be an arena in which all could transact as equals — not in terms of outcome but in terms of opportunity.

Despite this idea being written into competition legislation, we seem to be a long way from realising Smith's ethical ideal.

Technically, the market is "open" and "free". In reality, too many people are denied the basics in education, health, civic infrastructure, etc. to be on a genuinely equal footing.

Worse still, the lack of opportunity, for some, has nothing to do with merit — but everything to do with mere accidents of birth.

We can and should do better. We should reform markets — and our democratic politics — to realise their original purposes as arenas in which all are fundamentally equal.


Our segregated cities keep rich and poor as far apart as possible

This is normal.  All cities that I know of worldwide have prestigious and less prestgigious areas.  Towards the end of the article the writer has some silly dream of getting the rich and poor to mingle more.  What he overlooks is that the rich FLEE the poor.  Why? Because crime is much higher in poor areas.  Those who have nothing tend to steal to get something.

“For richer, for poorer” is a popular phrase used in wedding ceremonies to demonstrate commitment. It is intended as a galvanising statement. But in the world of the social geography of Australian cities, the phrase has come to symbolise the reverse. There are rich suburbs and there are poor suburbs scattered across metropolitan Australia, and each kind represents different tribes.

In fact, so effective are our cities at enforcing segregation that Australia’s rich and poor need never meet or even cross paths.

Let me explain how this works.

There are many ways to measure the rich and the poor using the census, but perhaps the simplest method is median personal income. For Australia in 2016 this figure was $34,000, which meant half the population aged over 15 earned more than this amount and half earned less. The figure is dragged down by the unemployed, pensioners, students and non-working spouses.

Median personal income typically rises in the well-to-do yuppie suburbs of the inner city. Lots of double-income-no-kids and professional-type households have the effect of injecting buckets of disposable income into a local area. This is a different world to what are effectively welfare suburbs. My point is that Australia’s Goldilocks suburbs — places where income levels are astronomically high — are located close to the city centre. The rich do not commute. The poor, on the other hand, have no choice in the matter and are flung out to the city’s edge as if propelled by some centrifugal force to the margins of civilisation.

And therein lie the two worlds of metropolitan Australia — each, of course, containing different life forms — that now orbit the central business district at different radiuses and that never, ever connect.

Occasionally someone will shoot from the world of the poor to the world of the rich — Eddie McGuire made the transition from Broadmeadows to Toorak in one generation — but for the most part, and here is the bit that I think we need to change, each world tends to beget and envelop its own. Social mobility should be integral to the story of the Australian people in the 21st century.

The richest community in Sydney, and indeed within Australia, is the harbourside enclave of Point Piper, located 4km from the CBD, where the median personal income reaches $89,000, or almost three times the national average. The poorest suburb in Sydney by this measure is Yennora, located 22km west of the CBD and 27km west of Point Piper. The median personal income in Yennora was just $19,200 at the time of the last census. I doubt many Point Piper residents have been to Yennora or many Yennora residents have been to Point Piper, even for a Sunday drive. How about both suburbs do precisely that this weekend? Go to Yennora. Go to Point Piper. See how the other half lives. And this is my point. The social geography of Sydney is such that the richest and the poorest can live out their lives without bumping into each other. Each group sticks to its own geography. The cross-fertilisation of ideas and of aspiration and maybe even of compassion is constricted by the separation of the richest from the poorest parts of Sydney.

The same is true for Melbourne, where the median personal income peaks at $70,400 in Cremorne (Richmond). Cremorne (population: 2000) and Point Piper are small residential enclaves, especially when compared with the vastness of the mighty Toorak nation that spills and sprawls its way across 14,000 residents. The injection of aspirational but nevertheless proletarian apartments right into the ribs of Toorak has had the effect of dragging down the suburb’s average income. Toorak’s rich are there on large garden allotments but they’re kinda intermingled with flat dwellers.

Point Piper’s poshness is a tad less trammelled than are the tribes of Toorak.

Melbourne’s poorest suburb is Meadow Heights, located 21km north of Cremorne; there the median personal income is $19,800. Cremorne is to the Melbourne CBD as Point Piper is to the Sydney CBD. And Meadow Heights is to Melbourne as Yennora is to Sydney. It is almost as if the narrative of both cities has been scripted to some grand design.

In Brisbane the richest suburb by the same measure of income is Teneriffe whereas the poorest suburb is Inala. Teneriffe is a nifty 3km from the CBD; the public housing estates of Inala are 18km further south.

The bigger the city, the farther the poor are from the rich. In Sydney, the Yennora-Point Piper axis is 6km longer than Melbourne’s Cremorne-Meadow Heights axis, which in turn is 3km longer than Brisbane’s Teneriffe-Inala axis.

If nothing else, Australian cities are clinically efficient at social segregation. The distance between Adelaide’s richest and poorest suburbs — Unley Park and Woodville Gardens — is 12km. Perth also follows the trend with Mirrabooka’s poor being positioned 18km from Cottesloe’s rich. Even in the smaller capitals the rich and the poor manage to separate themselves. Hobart’s richest citizens live barely 1km from the CBD at Battery Point, but even in this smallish capital city the poor are sent 17km up the Derwent River to the province of Gagebrook.

Darwin’s smart set bunkers down on the waterfront’s Bayview whereas the battlers do the best they can 15km farther to the east in Moulden.

And in Canberra the place to be for aspiring mandarins is Barton, which is 16km from Belconnen’s battlers at Charnwood. Although I must say that the idea of rich and poor is differently defined in the nation’s capital.

Median personal income in Barton at $82,000 is second only to Point Piper in this exercise. But the same figure for Charnwood ($39,000) is not that much lower than the best for Hobart at Battery Point ($47,000).

We can say the poorest urban communities in Australia are located in the public housing estates of Sydney and Melbourne. We can say Point Piper really is in a league of its own. We can say it is the poor who have shifted across time from the now gentrified suburbs of the old walking city to the creeping edges of the modern car city. And we can say that the bigger the city, the farther from the city centre the poor must live.

By the middle of the 21st century it is likely that Sydney and Melbourne will be approaching the eight million mark. Based on the figures and the ratios cited above, I am pretty sure that Point Piper and Cremorne and Teneriffe and even Battery Point still will be locations prized by the city’s rich.

But it is the poor who’ll move during the 2020s and the 2030s. Perhaps farther upstream from Gagebrook, perhaps farther north from Meadow Heights and perhaps farther west from Yennora. And if this is the case then the chances of inspiring social mobility will drop as each of the city’s bubbles tightens around its kin.

And of course between these hot spots of prosperity and despair there lie broad stretches of middle Australia blossoming on our great suburban savanna.

Our cities are on the move demographically and socially, and perhaps even geographically, as the poor push farther outwards in search of shelter and support. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Maybe we can inject enclaves of prosperity into the middle and outer suburbs. Maybe we can create affordable housing for the marginalised within the hipster zone. Maybe we can create a truly diverse society where all ethnicities, all social groups, all income levels at least occasionally get the opportunity to serendipitously bump into each other.

I’m sorry but I find the alternative — the retreat into ever tightening tribal bubbles — not only boring but perhaps even corrosive to our national ideal of social mobility, inclusion and tolerance.

There are better ways to organise the way we live — and with the right town planning responses I think we can deliver even better big cities in the future.


"Dry" Western Australia gets heavy rain

Despite the doom talk of Greenie false prophet Tim Flannery

WA’s South West and Peel regions copped a drenching in the past 24 hours, with rainfall of between 30mm and 39mm.

There is more expected too, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting between 50mm and 60mm in some centres south of the Perth.

Highest falls recorded in the past 24 hours were in Mayanup (39mm), Balingup (35mm) and Waroona (32.6).

Closer to Perth, Rottnest Island received 13mm.

Up to 3mm was recorded in the Perth metropolitan area, with forecast rainfall of up to 30mm in the city today.

Bureau duty forecaster Jun Chen said centres south of Perth, such as Rockingham and Mandurah, could receive between 20mm and 40mm today, with some places receiving between 50mm and 60mm.

Today’s forecast for the South West is 15mm to 30mm of rain, with up to 50mm in some places.

Miss Chen said rainfall in Perth was expected to continue throughout the day and overnight, with isolated showers tomorrow and clearing on Tuesday.


Aussie men calling for change of discriminatory singlet rule

I wear blue singlets with no shirt quite a lot when I go out so this affects me personally

SURF clubs across Queensland are facing backlash for “discriminatory” dress standards that see women able to wear singlets but not men.

Clubs Queensland has reportedly sent out a newsletter to member clubs in order to highlight the issue with this dress rule.

“A prohibition on men wearing singlets is arguably less favourable to men than women who are permitted to wear singlets,” Clubs Queensland said in a March bulletin to its members.

“This will also apply to other prohibitions such as footwear and hats.”

Adding that the controversial dress code “may inadvertently be breaching Australia’s anti-discrimination laws by discriminating on the basis of gender”.

The common differences observed between dressing standards for men and women include:

Men not being permitted to wear hats inside the club

Men’s singlets (or sleeveless T-shirts) being prohibited inside the club, and

Men’s open footwear being prohibited inside the club.

The Anti-Discrimination commission has warned that it is against the law to set different rules for men and women and doing so may be a breach f the federal Sex Discrimination Act.

Coolum Beach Surf Club has already changed this singlet rule, telling the ABC that they were losing customers over the “sexist” dress code. “We’d have a couple come in they’d both be wearing singlets we’d say yes to her and no to him,” general manager Mal Wright said.

“If people have got a good attitude we want them to be customers at the club, we don’t want them to go away and be unhappy just because of the clothes they’re wearing.”

In response to the question of why this is suddenly an issue now, Clubs Queensland stated in a newsletter that it has been unlawful since the enactment of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984.

They said that the reason most places are only hearing about it now is that “no one has taken the club to task over it”.

The newsletter stated that any club that refuses entry because of gender-specific dress codes may risk having a discrimination complaint filed against them with the Australian Human Rights Commission.


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

22 April, 2018

Social class in Australia

To advance economically in Australia, you are often told to get lots of education.  And it's true that the higher you go educationally, the better paid you will usually be.  But is it actually education at work?  The great predictor of educational success is IQ -- so those who go furthest through the educational system will be those with the highest IQ. So it is most probably your IQ that gets you that good job.  Education is just an IQ marker that anyone can read.

As a result of that, some thinkers say that the class system is  a series of IQ levels.  What we see as Upper class and what we see as lower class will be effects of IQ, and not much more.  That is why social mobility is so poor.  IQ is highly hereditary so if you are born into a poor family you are unlikely to have the IQ assets to rise above your parent's station.

A curious example of class characteristics in fact being IQ characteristics is from the findings about breast feeding. Affluent mothers make quite a point of breast feeding these days.  To put your baby on the bottle will get you scorned and seen as uncaring, ignorant and very low class. Yet We read, for instance, that "The mother's IQ was more highly predictive of breastfeeding status than were her race, education, age, poverty status, smoking, the home environment, or the child's birth weight or birth order". So it's all IQ.

So your eventual place on the socio-economic scale will be where your level of IQ places you, with education being a marker, not a cause.  And your IQ is essentially unalterable. So rising up socially will only happen if you are one of the unusual people who come from a humble background but are lucky enough to be born with a high IQ.  Your IQ will place you in the right social rank for your level of ability.

Toby Young
sets out in more detail the case for society being invisibly ranked by IQ

Social class in Australia is a topic that often goes undiscussed — but if the response to our series on class is anything to go by, some of you are ready to start talking about it.

Some people got in touch to say they believe the archetype of Australia as the lucky country, where opportunity abounds, rings as true as ever.

But others told us the idea that hard work and application are the only barriers to social mobility is laughable.

What was constant is that everyone had an opinion.

The ABC's recent class quiz prompted a number of curious results.

More than a few people were surprised to find their tastes, according to data compiled as part of the detailed Australian Cultural Fields project, aligned them with middle or upper-class woman aged between 40-59.

Taste — whether you'd rather see a pub band than go to opera, for instance — only explains so much of course, and there are many other factors that help explain where we each sit within Australia's complex and confusing class structure.

Sue, a public servant from Darwin, describes herself as a "late baby boomer". She once lived in Sydney, but moved to the Northern Territory with her husband for his job in construction work. "I'm definitely a middle-class person," she said.

"Class in the NT looks much different to what it would in New South Wales. In terms of access to housing, education, employment, health outcomes — it keeps class very much at the forefront of your mind."

Julie wrote in to tell us about her family full of "shop-stewards, miners, railway workers, shipbuilders and plumbers".

"All politically aware, self-educated and proud of their working-class community solidarity," she said.

"My grandfather would say to explain wealth and class: 'Remember no-one is better than anyone else, it is just some people are better off'."

Education opens doors

A running theme through the conversations was the notion of education as being key to class mobility.

Greg, from Melbourne, comes from a working-class background.

"Education was the 'mobility enabler' for me. A beneficiary of Whitlam's education reforms in the 1970s, access to university was merit-based. It opened the door to me," he said.

Brisbane-based policy officer Chris believes his upbringing and education provided him with a platform that's not necessarily attainable for all Australians.

"I have relatively secure professional work and I'm paid reasonably well, I'm aware of my privileged position in the social hierarchy," he said.

"It was impressed on me that I should go to university, that I should improve myself intellectually, financially."

But education isn't always easily accessible.

Alice comes from a modest background and decided to go to university after achieving a UAI of 97.7.

Throughout her time at university, she has struggled to make ends meet, despite working multiple jobs.

"I'm safe for now. But should I choose to embark upon a Master's component, and my benefits are taken away … who knows where I'll end up. As an intelligent woman in her mid-thirties, I shudder to think that my future may very well lie in the streets as a homeless person, making me yet another uncomfortable statistic for everyone else to gawk at."


Prison officers are ordered to shave off their beards and are sent home if they turn up to work with stubble – but Muslims are allowed to keep theirs on religious grounds

Staff at Melbourne Assessment Prison have been ordered to shave their beard or risk losing their job. Sources have told the Herald Sun those who arrive at work with stubble or a beard are asked to shave, with some being sent home to do so.

Facial hair prevents a proper seal with breathing apparatus in the emergency of a fire in prison, staff have been told.

'Management are standing at the front door arbitrarily sending people home or down to the supermarket to get shavers,' one prison officer said.

Corrections Victoria has banned staff from beards, long sideburns and big moustaches, expect those who have facial hair for religious reasons. 'People are getting exemptions from doctors and from religious orders like imams to keep their beards,' said the prison officer.

The Community and Public Sector Union has labelled the policy a 'total dictatorship.' 'There has been a lot of disquiet since the order was issued. But unfortunately if staff want to keep their job, they have to keep turning up to work fresh-faced,' the CPSU's Julian Kennelly told the Herald Sun.

A Corrections Victoria spokesperson said the policy is to ensure all prison workers are ready to assist in case of an emergency

'We believe the new arrangements are fairer for everyone, meaning that all relevant operational staff- not just those with acceptable facial hair- are able to don breathing apparatus and respond to fires,' the spokesperson said.


Western civilisation at risk from its ignorant young

Left-dominated schools have erased most of our history


A friend of mine came to Australia from Czechoslovakia as a 14-year-old in 1970. Like others who have lived through another form of government, he views democracy differently from those of us lucky enough to know no other system. He treasures it more, understanding its intrinsic connection to freedom. And he sees more clearly the warning signs of a system that is being undermined from within.

My friend left his home country two years after the Prague Spring, that brief period in 1968 when reformists stood up to the communist yoke of the Soviet Union. Reform was extinguished when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in August that year. It wasn’t until 1989, and the Velvet Revolution, that the central European country was freed from communist rule.

My friend’s escape from communism turned on a dime. His mother sought authority to leave their closed country to visit her “dying” mother in Austria. It was tricky. It took years, so the “dying” mother was on her deathbed until the authorisation came through. They packed up their tiny car and headed for the Austrian border. A checkpoint officer asked the boy’s mother for her citizenship papers, then waved them on. Then the officer shouted: “Stop!” The family froze, thinking they had been caught trying to escape. The boy’s stepfather reversed the car back to the officer, who handed back the citizenship papers. “You’ll need these,” he said. In that moment, he was the white knight silently helping them escape.

After a few months in a refugee centre in Vienna, where the boy heard ABBA singing Fernando on the radio and drank Coca-Cola for the first time, the family left for Australia. At his local high school in Sydney’s Hunters Hill, he was the cool kid with a ghetto blaster. Except he wasn’t listening to music. He recorded his lessons so that, at home, he could slowly decipher the words in this strange new language. He recalls a terrific indigenous teacher who spent afternoons teaching him English.

Now in his early 60s, my Czech friend, a doctor and brilliant businessman who cares about boosting educational outcomes, is worried about the future of our democracy. He doesn’t pine for the patriotic indoctrination of Czech communists or their repression. But he tells me that he is worried by a different kind of indoctrination in the West.

Today, hurt feelings and being offended are enough to limit fundamental freedoms. And a swath of laws and bureaucracies are committed to those same repressive ends. It doesn’t matter that the intentions behind these laws were once good, it is enough that the outcomes are now rotten.

Consider the poor barber at the Hunters Hill Barber Shop just down the road from my friend’s old school. Late last year Sam Rahim turned away a woman who wanted him to cut her daughter’s hair. Sam the barber told her he was qualified only to cut boys’ hair, politely directing her to a salon up the road. She took to social media and ran to the Australian Human Rights Commission claiming he breached anti-discrimination laws. He offered an apology. And now he has been served with court papers for a claim that he breached the Sex Discrimination Act.

Sam and his wife, Ronda, have set up a GoFundMe page because, as he told the media, “The legal costs are more than we have ever anticipated.”

If his actions contravene the law, then the law stinks. But even being drawn into the morass is a travesty of common sense. Yet this is where we are today: common sense is on the decline.

That said, the Rahims have support from people who understand the end point of these doctrinaire laws. As Matthew Lesh, a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, wrote on the Rahims’ fundraising page: “Your treatment is absolutely reprehensible. An individual should not be forced to do a service that they do not provide, nor should they have to defend themselves in court. Good luck.”

Good luck to rest of us, too. We live in an age of hyper-reactions by givers and takers of offence. At Starbucks in the US a couple of employees in an organisation of 175,000 workers make a mistake, and now 8000 stores will be closed while all employees are sent to racial-bias training. A basic sense of proportion has been lost.

Today, words are being struck off as unacceptable by workplace language police. Schools and librarians are more fixated on the word “nigger” than the moral teaching in a text such as To Kill a Mockingbird, to the point that the whole book has been banished.

Our basic biology is under attack by an obsession with transgender identity when only a small fraction of people swing that way. Jobs are lost when a dissident ­employee says something even slightly nonconformist about a workplace diversity policy.

And worst of all, we’re not having a debates over ideas. We’re having a contest over whether there should be a contest of ideas. Increasingly, words and ideas are being censored for psychological reasons, where they are treated as a form of emotional violence, and those who utter such words are seen as not just wrong but evil.

As writer Lionel Shriver wrote in Prospect magazine earlier this year, “If words that cause umbrage are acts of violence, the state has every right to impound your dictionary.” We’re not there yet, but the empowering message that words will never hurt me is lost to a past era. And the whiff of a new kind of repression is unmistake­able to those who recognise the smell.

It’s worth asking whether the ideas of the Enlightenment are at risk of being forgotten. Is Western civilisation headed down a path of un-Enlightenment? Will it be too late before more of us understand what is being sacrificed on the altars of politically correct fashion and self-loathing?

My Czech friend raised some of these questions during a recent visit to Australia by Robert Tombs. The historian, who has taught history at the University of Cambridge for almost a half-century, spoke to sold-out audiences about Western civilisation. Maybe there is hope on the horizon. Jordan Peterson is a cultural rock star for retelling some common sense. And Tombs’s tremendous book from 2014, The English and Their History, was named book of the year by five publications: The Economist, The Daily Telegraph, The Times Literary Supplement, The Times and The Spectator. Even The Guardian lauded it as “a work of supreme intelligence”.

Speaking to audiences in Sydney and Melbourne at events organised by the IPA (of which I am a director), Tombs pointed out that a generation ago if he had told colleagues he was off to Australia to defend Western civilisation, they would have yawned and wondered why he needed to do the bleeding obvious. Today it’s provocative.

Tombs defies the self-loathing critics because he is no rah-rah cheerleader for Western civilisation. “The West,” he says, “ravaged continents, burnt heretics, invented the gas chamber and the atom bomb, and almost destroyed itself in two world wars.”

But Western civilisation, when seen in its full sweep, is also how we learned to end slavery, to defeat totalitarianism, to be ashamed of war and genocide and persecution. It is a story of innovation, one of unsettling change and impassioned debate. It is, he says, “an action-packed adventure story, not a philosophical treatise”. And that is how it should be taught at school and university.

Tombs recalls speaking to a class of senior secondary students in Britain. He asked the class whether they could see any parallels between Hitler and Mussolini. The teacher interrupted: “We don’t do Mussolini.”

Did the class understand the relationship between Hitler and Stalin then? “We don’t do Stalin, either,” said the teacher.

Tombs suggested they consider the connection between Hitler’s rise and World War I. You guessed it. “We don’t do that anything before the second world war,” said the teacher. Tombs reminded us we short-change students by teaching history as a series of ad hoc skirmishes.

Learning from history, understanding the full sweep of Western civilisation, depends on understanding perspective, throwing up parallels between events.

As we sit on the cusp of an era of un-Enlightenment, we should remember that this story of innovation, of ideas about equality, the rule of law, universal human rights, property rights and freedom, is not one preordained towards success.

Tombs suggests we view the story of Western civilisation as being ruled by something akin to the laws of cricket rather than, say, the laws of physics. “We don’t discover them, we make them up and agree to them.”

That was a few weeks before some Aussie cricketers in South Africa cheated, but you get his drift about ideas emanating from us and needing our commitment.

Tombs mentioned a young PhD student supervised by one of his colleagues at Cambridge. The young woman was a Mormon, she was home-schooled in Salt Lake City and studied at Brigham Young University, a Mormon university. She told her Cambridge supervisor that she felt freer at that Mormon University to express views outside the orthodoxy of the Mormon community — at least they believed in redemption. When she expressed ideas outside the confines of orthodox thought at Cambridge, she was seen as beyond the pale.

When freedom of expression is lost, we lose the ability to continue that story of innovation. Here are a few clues that suggest the story of Western civilisation is not being taught. An annual Lowy Institute poll tells us that only 52 per cent of Australians aged between 18 and 29 believe democracy is the preferable form of government.

Now brace yourself further. Polls in the US suggest that 50 per cent of American millennials say they wished they lived in a socialist country rather than a capitalist one. In Britain, 24 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds see big business as more dangerous to the world than communism.

And this: almost one-fifth of Americans aged between 21 and 29 see Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as a hero (23 per cent). Even more consider Vladimir Lenin a hero (26 per cent), while Kim Jong-un is a hero for 23 per cent of them.

A third of millennials think ­George W. Bush killed more people than Stalin did.

And here’s the rub: 71 per cent of millennials can’t define communism and four-fifths don’t know how many people died under communist rule.

If the younger generation haven’t lived it or learned about the horrible consequences of repressing freedom, how can they value the freedom they have?

My Czech friend knows better than most that our challenge is to make sure they do learn, so they don’t live it. The alternative is us sliding further into an age of un-Enlightenment.


Soldiers banned from displaying ‘symbols of death’ by new Defence chief Angus Campbell

Does the general want an Army of men or an army of old women?  It seems that old women would disturb him less

Defence’s soon to be new chief has banned soldiers from using any display of the “symbols of death” like skulls and cross bones in patches, badges or imagery.

Chief of Army Lt Gen Campbell on Tuesday issued the directive to the Army banning the “display or adoption of symbols, emblems and iconography” which he says are “ at odds with the army’s values and the ethical force we seek to build and sustain”.

He cited the use of “death symbology or iconography such as the pirate skull and crossbones, the phantom or punisher symbols, the Spartans or the grim reaper.”

The skull or cross bones, he stated, was associated with maritime outlaws and murders, the phantom with vigilantes, the Spartans as extreme militarism and the grim reaper as a “bringer of death”.

“Such symbology is never presented as ill intentioned and plays to much of modern popular culture, but it is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession the legitimate and discriminate taking of life,’’ he said.

“As soldiers our purpose is to serve the state, employing violence with humility always and compassion wherever possible. The symbology to which I refer erodes this ethos of service.’’

Lt Gen Campbell called on commanders to take immediate action and remove such symbols in any and all formal or informal use within the army.

“I appreciate that without explanation some will rile at this direction, so please ensure my reasoning is explained; but to be clear that I am adamant that this is right for the army, I have asked RSM-A to have my direction incorporated into army dress code and seek your immediate attention to addressing this issue within your command.”

The directive was issued the day after Lt Gen Campbell was announced to be the nation’s new chief of the defence force replacing Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin in July.

Queried about the decision, a Defence Department spokesman said the minute was issued as a general directive on April 17 — to reinforce all such symbols used across the organisation must align with army values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork.

“Death symbology demonstrates a general disregard for the most serious responsibility of the army’s profession; the legitimate and discriminate taking of life,’’ he said.


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

20 April, 2018

Great Barrier grief: Coral 'cooked to death' in scorching summer heatwave

This is just an academic republication of some claims made in 2016, which were shown at the time to be greatly exaggerated.  And note below that global sea surface temperatures actually FELL during late 2016. 

So if there was a big warming event in North Queensland waters at the time it was a LOCAL event, not a global one.  So any coral damage was not caused by global warming. 

The BOM does record high temperatures in the reef area in 2016 but admits that there were several factors contributing to that.  I quote:

"The 2015–16 El Niño suppressed and delayed the monsoon, leading to reduced cloud cover and weakened winds this summer. Additionally, a relatively low number of summer storms occurred over the Reef. These factors led to increased surface heating and reduced mixing, resulting in substantially warmer ocean temperatures around northern Australia from December to March 2016."

And note that the BOM places the warming in early 2016, not late 2016.  Pesky!

Something else that happened in 2016 was a regional sea-level fall --which really is detrimental to coral and could alone explain any damage.

And note the announcement from late last year that bleached corals are already recovering nicely.  So no fear is warranted.

It's just propaganda below -- propaganda in a scholarly disguise.  I actually wonder whether they did all the surveys they claim to have done? A little bit of interpolation here and there, perhaps?  JCU has a record of dubious integrity.  Ask Peter Ridd about that

Millions of corals on the Great Barrier Reef were 'cooked' during a scorching summer in the northern region, according to scientists.

The underwater heatwave eliminated a huge number of different species of coral during a process which expelled algae after the polyps were stressed.

'When corals bleach from a heatwave, they can either survive and regain their colour slowly as the temperature drops, or they can die.

'Averaged across the whole Great Barrier Reef, we lost 30 per cent of the corals in the nine-month period between March and November 2016,' said Professor Terry Hughes from James Cook University said.

Prof Hughes who acts as the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at JCU said his team was very surprised to see a quarter of the corals die in just two to three weeks during the March heatwave.

Scientists researched the entire reef by analysing water surveys at various locations along its 2,300-kilometre distance, and combined insight with aerial data and satellite monitoring. 

Results showed 29 per cent of the 3,863 reefs which make up the world's largest reef system lost 'two-thirds or more of their corals', which dramatically impacts the ability of the reefs to maintain full ecological abilities.

'The Great Barrier Reef is certainly threatened by climate change, but it is not doomed if we deal very quickly with greenhouse gas emissions.

'Our study shows that coral reefs are already shifting radically in response to unprecedented heatwaves,' said Prof Hughes.

The team warn that if changes are not made to consider climate change it will have a huge effect on tropical reef ecosystems and, therefore, a detrimental impact on the benefits those environments provide to populations of poor nations.


Victorian firefighter's union still  being Bolshie

They recently gotb the seetest cdeal imaginable from  Leftist Premier ansreews but are still unhappy

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews repeatedly denies the claims made by union boss Peter Marshall about a pact and says the appointment of the MFB chief Dan Stephens will stand.

Premier Daniel Andrews insists the powerful United Firefighter Union has no compromising material about him and that he did not strike a secret deal in exchange for support in the 2014 election.

Mr Andrews is under renewed scrutiny over his relationship with the volatile leader of the firefighters' union, Peter Marshall, just a month after peace appeared to have finally broken out with a new industrial agreement.

But in a Thursday morning press conference studded with the word "no", Mr Andrews sought to shoot down the speculation that had been running hot since Wednesday's incendiary radio interview Mr Marshall.

"No", there was no secret deal with the union, Mr Andrews  told the gathered media at Moorabbin Oval, and "no", there would be no review of the decision to hire the new Melbourne Fire Chief that has so incensed the union boss.

And "no", the Premier does not believe Mr Marshall has a secret recording of him that he is using to blackmail him.

Mr Andrews said any pre-election pledges about fire services were already in the public realm. "We made election commitments which are public and well known because we’ve been getting on and delivering them," Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said the union had been given no assurances that it would be consulted about the MFB's incoming chief executive, contradicting a statement Mr Marshall issued to UFU members on Wednesday.

"The MFB has run, as we indicated they would, an international process to get the very best CEO," he said. 'That process is run by the MFB, it has been concluded, the best candidate has been chosen and that candidate will take up his position next month and that is the end of the matter."

Firefighters campaigned for Labor during the election.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said on Thursday that he had been pressing Mr Andrews for a long time to reveal if he had entered into a secret deal with Mr Marshall.

"They’re similar points to which I have raised in question time to the Premier and the minister for the last three years and that is, 'Is there a deal you did before the election with the United Firefighters Union and if so what’s the details of it?'" Mr Guy said.

When asked on radio station 3AW if he would refer the matter to the state’s anti-corruption watchdog, IBAC, he said the Coalition would consider it.

The opposition promised last year to conduct a royal commission into Victoria’s fire services and the persistent industrial unrest that has gripped it, at a cost of about $10 million.
Mr Guy reiterated that promise on Thursday.

Mr Marshall is furious with the appointment this week of British fire chief Dan Stephens as the new boss of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, arguing that firefighters have been betrayed. [LOOKS LIKE MARSHALL WANTED THE JOB HIMSELF]

He said in a radio interview with the ABC's Raf Epstein on Wednesday that Mr Andrews had broken promises he made to firefighters and shattered their faith in his government.

Mr Marshall declined to go into details but threatened to reveal more before the next election in November.

The head of the Metropolitan Fire Board called for calm, arguing that former Merseyside fire chief Mr Stephens will soon demonstrate to all sides why he is the right person to lead Victoria’s fire services out of its state of perpetual industrial conflict.


Australian unemployment hasn't fallen much despite booming jobs growth

Australian employment surged by 420,700 in the 12 months to March, close to the highest level on record for a comparable period of time.

Under normal circumstances, such a scenario would normally lead to a steep decline in unemployment. The only problem is that it hasn’t.

According to the ABS, Australia’s unemployment rate currently sits at 5.6% in seasonally adjusted terms, down just 0.2 percentage points on the level reported in February 2017.

Even with employment growing in each of the past three months, extending the streak of job creation to a record-breaking 17 months, unemployment has actually risen since November, increasing by 0.2 percentage points.

So what gives? Why, with near-record hiring over the past year, is unemployment still sitting in the mid-5% region?

Helping to explain why unemployment hasn’t fallen further despite booming employment growth, the percentage of working age Australians in the labour force has also risen sharply, jumping by 406,700 over the past two months in seasonally adjusted terms.

With employment growing 420,700 over the same period, it’s meant that the total number of unemployed Australians has fallen by only 14,000 since February last year. Supply of labour has nearly kept pace with demand, in other words.

As Morgan Stanley explains, the sharp lift in labour force participation has been driven by two distinct factors — a lift in immigration and stronger job market conditions encouraging those not previously in the labour market to actively look for work.

[The increase has been] due to a strong increase in labour supply, as migration boosts the size of the population — 250,000 in the year to June 2017 — and more people, especially females and retirement-aged, returning to or not leaving the workforce.

“This has seen both the unemployment and underemployment rates tick up to 5.6% and 8.4% respectively as of February.”

And with increasing numbers of workers entering the labour market, Morgan Stanley says this has contributed to ongoing weakness in worker wages, keeping unemployment above the 5% level many believe it will need to fall to before wage pressures begin to build.

“[This] leaves the prospect of an increase in wage growth looking unlikely in the near future,” it says. “Despite strong jobs growth, wage pressure in the labour market remains minimal.”


South Australia's trial of England's year one phonics check shows why we need it

The proposal to introduce a phonics check - employed in schools in England towards the end of year one - into Australian schools has created considerable controversy. It has been said it would prove stressful to young children and is unnecessary, because phonics is already taught adequately in most Australian schools as part of the literacy curriculum.
Read more: Explainer: what is phonics and why is it important?

The South Australian government commissioned a trial of the utility of the phonics check last year. The results allay many of the reservations about the check and confirm the need for its introduction.

The phonics check consists of 40 single words children read aloud to a teacher. There are 20 real words and 20 "pseudo words" - all of which can be read using phonic decoding. The pseudo words are included because they can't be read from sight memory and are a purer test of phonics ability.

The headline data on student performance shows the majority of children in Reception (the first "foundation year" of school) and year one found the test items difficult. The average number of correctly read items was 11 out of 40 for Reception students and 22 out of 40 for year one.

Given the phonics check is designed for students in year one, it was expected Reception students would score low. This confirms the wisdom of the SA Department of Education and Child Development's decision to expand the trial from the original design (Reception only) to include year one. But the year one performance was also low relative to their counterparts in England and the expectations of their teachers.

In England, student performance is reported against a "threshold score" of 32 out of 40. For the past two years, 81% of year one students in the UK achieved this score. Only 15% of children in the SA trial achieved at this level.

According to the trial evaluation report, teachers and leaders observed:

students did more poorly than expected, across the board. Numerous respondents reported feeling surprised and disappointed by the results based on students' known reading abilities and results on the Running Record.

This is a clear indication existing assessments in these SA schools were not providing an accurate measure of students' decoding abilities.

The distribution of scores in SA was very different to the distribution of scores in England. In SA, student scores were distributed on a bell curve. English student scores are skewed to the right of the distribution. This means most children in SA scored around the middle, whereas most children in England score at the higher end. In many English schools, 100% achieve the threshold score.

Four ways South Australia's phonics check was different
The phonics check trial in SA employed exactly the same word items used in England in 2016. But there were methodological differences in how the checks were conducted in SA and in England, which may cloud the comparability of the results obtained.

The sample. In SA, the group of 4,406 students in 56 schools who participated in the trial was from a self-selected sample of schools who volunteered. In England, all schools are required to administer the check annually. So, the SA sample may not be truly representative of the state as a whole, let alone of students Australia-wide.

The font. Teachers raised the issue that the font used in the check was different from the standard font used in SA schools. But by the end of year one, children will have encountered many different fonts in books and elsewhere. It's unlikely this will have been a major factor influencing performance on the check.

Timing. In England, the check is given to students about a month before the end of year one (after nearly two years of initial instruction). But in the SA trial, the check was given earlier, in term three. The SA students had about a term less to learn letter sound correspondences, and this needs to be kept in mind.

The "stopping rule". More significant was the decision to advise teachers to discontinue testing once a child had made three consecutive errors. This stopping rule has the potential to deflate scores on the check, because students who had been stopped might have gone on to answer few more questions correctly. The evaluation report also found the stopping rule was not consistently applied. It's unlikely many children failing three items in succession would be able to achieve the threshold score of 32 items out of 40.

A stop rule is not part of the standard conditions used in England, although teachers do stop children if they are struggling. As many as 41% have been found to do this.

Students liked it

Teachers and leaders in the trial reported all students responded positively, including struggling readers, and they were engaged and interested. There were no reports of anxiety or stress for students. Teachers "universally" commented that students "loved the one-to-one time with the teacher".

Teachers and school leaders were overwhelmingly positive
The feedback from teachers and school leaders was encouraging and positive about all aspects of the administration of the check and the information it provided, including:

the sufficiency of training and support materials

the ease of administration

the length and duration of the check for young students

the engagement and effort of the students, and

the usefulness of the data it yielded on student reading abilities, for the purposes of guiding instruction and for identifying and supporting students who "may otherwise be slipping under the radar".

The phonics check was reported to be a "good eye-opener for teachers", and widely seen as complementing rather than duplicating existing assessments.

What should happen next?

In spite of the differences in methodology compared with the phonics check in England, it's unlikely their combined effect could account for such a difference in performance between the two. SA's results suggest there is little room for complacency about the state of phonics teaching in SA.

Almost all teachers in the trial said they taught phonics using either synthetic or analytic methods, reflecting the claim that Australian teachers already teach phonics. But there was no information to verify that phonics teaching is systematic or explicit, and these results clearly suggest they don't teach it well enough.

The SA trial of the year one phonics check has been an important initiative. The evaluation report will be a valuable guide to changes that need to be made for a state-wide implementation.

Even more significantly, the trial has provided strong support for implementation of the year one phonics check across Australia. Or, at the very least, for other states and territories to conduct similar trials. It supports the findings of the expert panel for the Australian government, and has validated the arguments of advocates that the phonics check gives teachers vital information about decoding skills not gained from other systemic assessments, and is neither burdensome for teachers nor stressful for students.


Australia May Replicate US Shale Revolution

Australia’s Northern Territory has lifted a moratorium on fracking, the process of extracting gas from shale rock, to replicate the US shale revolution in a vast region with massive mineral resources.

The decision on Tuesday was welcomed by the oil and gas industry, which is promising to invest billions of dollars in exploration and create thousands of jobs in an underpopulated region roughly six times the size of the UK.

Australian energy companies Origin Energy and Santos have identified the Northern Territory as a potential source of gas to meet a shortage of the fossil fuel in Australia, which has led to surging energy prices and prompted Canberra to implement export controls on liquefied natural gas — one of the country’s most valuable exports.

“Member companies stand ready to invest billions of dollars in new projects in the territory,” said Malcolm Roberts, chief executive of the oil and gas industry lobby group Appea, after the territory’s government’s decision to lift the moratorium.


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

19 April, 2018

How Treasury found that immigrants make Australia money

This is an old chestnut that in typical Leftist style ignores the main issue.  Immigration overall has always be known as a  positive.  The receiving country gets new workers without the expense of bringing them up from babyhood.

The big issue, however, is WHICH migrants do we take in.  Most countries have categories of migrants that they take or do not take.  Requiring at least a High School graduation in an intending migrant is a common stipulation.  So categorization of migrants is nothing new.

The problem arises when normal filters are bypassed for some reason -- usually for humanitarian reasons.  And what happens when those filters are bypassed strongly validates the wisdom of the filters.

Australia bypasses most of its filters to admit refugees.  And refugees are rarely like other migrants.  Where selected migrants soon get a job and put little strain on the social security system, refugees tend to be heavily welfare dependant. 

Additionally, black and Muslim refugees are more violoent.  Africans everywhere are very prone to crime and violence and Muslim refugees subscribe to a religion that both forbids  assimilation and encourages "jihad" against the host nation. 

So the article below is a red herring.  the issue is not WHETHER migration but WHICH migrants.  Readers are supposed to infer that ALL migrants are beneficial, which is not at all the case.

Immigrants consume less in government services than they pay in tax, making the federal government billions over their lifetimes, a landmark Treasury analysis has found, even when their expensive final years of life are taken into account

But the research, published by Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs, has come under fire from some population experts who believe it glosses over the link between migration and higher home prices, congestion, and strain on the environment.

The landmark study found in total, permanent skilled migrants deliver the federal government a profit of $6.9 billion over their lifetimes, temporary skilled migrants a profit of $3.9 billion, and family stream migrants $1.6 billion.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton have had the report for some time. Fairfax Media unsuccessfully tried to get a copy under freedom of information rules late last year.

Although the report was prepared by officials from Treasury and Home Affairs, it was Mr Morrison who decided to release it on Tuesday amid debate inside the Coalition over whether Australia's permanent and temporary migration program should be cut.

The government is expected to maintain migration of 190,000 per year in the May budget, despite the internal push for a reduction.

Australian National University demographer Liz Allen said the report makes it "very, very clear that migrants are not to blame" for infrastructure failures.

"Migrants make a net contribution to the Australian economy," she said. "If we are concerned about the failings of infrastructure such as those in the road network and rail network and housing, the issue is not migrants. The issue is the way that infrastructure funding and policy have failed to keep up with what is necessary, even to meet the population growth we would have had without migrants."

While concerns were often expressed about population-induced infrastructure pressure in cities where immigrants settled, the Treasury and Home Affairs study said there were benefits to population growth occurring in capital cities rather than regions. It said a higher population in the same geographical space increased the number of people that would benefit from a project, and could make a previously unprofitable infrastructure project viable.

University of Queensland emeritus professor Martin Bell said the report presented the “conventional conservative Treasury view,” focusing on the economic benefits of growth while paying less attention to the potentially negative effects.

“It’s important to give attention to the negative impacts as well, and the public perceptions of people in their 20s and 30s who are attempting to bid for houses,” he said.

“The report focuses on what Treasury thinks ‘might’ happen in the long term. The experience for a certain segment of the community right now is that there are negative redistributional effects as a result of high levels of migration.”

Scott Morrison has shut down suggestions from Tony Abbott, that the government should lower its immigration levels.

“There also seems to be faith in immigration as a solution to multiple issues. We are told that it generates the financial resources to meet the long-term demands for infrastructure and for the needs of an aging population. It's not going to do both.”

Mr Morrison on Tuesday said Australia’s natural population increase of around 150,000 a year had been falling as a proportion of the total. Permanent immigration was little changed. It was the rise in temporary migration that had fuelled population growth.

“You’ve got to understand what's driving the population pressures, but in addition to that you have to plan for the growth, which is what our budget is doing," he said.

The report found humanitarian migrants cost the budget $2.7 billion, with one third the result of resettlement in the first five years, including the cost of education, and the other two thirds the effect on the budget of earnings and tax too low to cover the cost of the services they consume.

Around 11 per cent of working age migrants earn no income, compared to just over 7 per cent of the working age population.

The Treasury said the higher figure most likely reflects the time it takes to acclimatise to a new country and labour market. The income of migrants grows after additional time in Australia, with substantial improvements over the first three years of roughly four times the average annual wage increase.


Adelaide Uni's Star Chamber

Bettina Arndt

Why on earth would universities choose to get involved in the messy business of determining which story to believe in a date rape case involving two students?  UTS in Sydney now has a committee of staff and students conducting investigations and recommending punishments for accused students.

The university has caved in to demands from activists and is foolishly blundering into legal territory potentially undermining proper process in what could be serious criminal matters.

For the past eight months I’ve been supporting a PhD student at Adelaide University under investigation by a similar committee after being accused of sexual assault by another student. The committee had no idea what they were doing, failing to even provide the student with full details of the accusation.

I found a criminal barrister to advise the young man on how to handle the ham-fisted efforts of the committee to force him to comply with the investigation. Scary stuff for the young man given that the committee had the power to recommend the university withhold his degree.

The university ended up dropping the case and backtracking madly when the Uni’s General Counsel realized the committee was at risk of denying basic legal rights to the male student.

I’ve made a YouTube video talking to the young man about his harrowing ordeal.

The Adelaide Advertiser is publishing a news story about all this tomorrow and an opinion piece from me. Plus I am on The Outsiders on Sky News tomorrow night with my good friends Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean. I will also attach a feature to be published in Spectator Australia on Friday, which gives international context to what’s happening.

Via email from Bettina (

Australia hosting unprecedented numbers of international students

Being in a similar time zone to China helps.  No jet lag

Australia is hosting unprecedented numbers of international students, who now make up more than a quarter of enrolments at some universities.

Department of Education figures show that in February, Australian universities, private colleges, English language courses, and schools registered a combined 542,054 enrolments.

That compares with 305,534 total enrolments five years ago.

Students from China make up the largest proportion of students at 31 per cent, followed by India, Nepal, Malaysia and Vietnam.

But universities have been seeking to diversify their international student markets, and the latest figures show there have been big rises in the numbers of students from Brazil and Colombia.

Western Australia has even opened up a market for students from Bhutan, with almost 1,000 students from that country enrolled in courses at WA institutions this year.

Grattan Institute higher education program director, Andrew Norton, said some universities were making huge profits out of the international student market.

"Because the Government has effectively capped the number of domestic students, international students are becoming an increasing percentage of all students," Mr Norton said.

"A lot of that revenue to universities is being invested in buildings and in research activities."

International students are concentrated in the larger Group of Eight universities and technology universities.

"That means there are huge numbers of international students living in the inner cities of Australia's big capitals," Mr Norton said.

"That is transforming the rental market, it's transforming the nature of the restaurants in the area, it's changing what the streets look like. So this is having a big effect on certain parts of Australia well beyond the university gates."

Chinese student Eva Li, 22, is studying finance at the University of Sydney. She said she chose the university because of its high international ranking. "There are lots of Chinese students here, education is very high level," Ms Li said. "It's not better than the good universities in America or England, but it's also quite A grade.

"The teachers are very good. It's a different type of education in Australia than in China. We have more chance to communicate with the teacher than in China. There are a lot of group works and it is not quite like this in China.

"It's a very good experience for me. Maybe I will be back to China for my job, but I will still have a good memory (of) here."

The value of the international student market has increased 22 per cent since 2016 and is now worth $32.2 billion a year.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Government was committed to maintaining a stable regime of visa entry rules to provide certainty for international students.

"We'll continue to work to promote the value of our education system to the rest of the world," Mr Birmingham said.

Universities Australia's chief executive Belinda Robinson said the growth in the international student market reflected the quality that was on offer.

"We have almost doubled enrolments over the past decade and built international education into Australia's third-largest export sector," Ms Robinson said.

"This supports Australian communities, jobs, regional economies and our relationships in the world.

"These half a million international students will become tomorrow's global leaders, returning home as informal ambassadors for Australia and extending our nation's worldwide networks in business, diplomacy and politics."


Australian minister claims foreign aid spending too unpopular to increase

Aid groups have criticised as “unfortunate and inaccurate” a government minister’s comments that Australia’s foreign aid commitment could not be increased while the public overwhelmingly opposed more spending on developing nations.

The idea of increasing Australia’s foreign aid commitment is opposed by 80% of Australians, the minister for international development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has told a UK audience, arguing any increase in foreign spending would be politically untenable in the current economy.

The minister’s comments were condemned by the aid sector, which said Australia’s influence in the Asia-Pacific had already been diminished by successive deep cuts to foreign aid spending.

Australia’s foreign aid commitment stands at $3.9bn, its lowest ever level as a proportion of the budget: 0.22% of gross national income.

In 1974-75 [under the egregious Gough Whitlam] that figure was 0.47% and the trend has been generally downward since then. Aid spending rose during the 2000s but has declined precipitously since 2013.

Fierravanti-Wells, speaking at the Overseas Development Institute, was repeatedly challenged over Australia’s falling aid budget, as she called on the UK to increase its aid to the Pacific region.

The minister said Australia’s aid budget would be fixed at $4bn a year over the next two years and could not be increased until the “economy was back on a sustainable footing”.

But even with a stronger economic base, Fierravanti-Wells said, increasing aid spending would be politically difficult because of public opposition. She revealed polling showing overwhelming opposition to increasing Australia’s foreign aid commitment. The minister said that while she would make the case for overseas aid, many Australians did not understand it was an investment not a handout.

“In Australia we had some research done where it showed that about 80% of Australians believe that we should not be spending more on foreign aid or that what we spend is about right,” Fierravanti-Wells said.

She said there was a “schism” between broad public opinion, which was sceptical about the benefit of aid, and those involved in the aid sector, who believe “the complete opposite”.

“You do have to take your public with you,” she said.

The chief executive of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, said the minister’s comments were “unfortunate and inaccurate”.

“The government should take its lead from the Australian people. Australians are sticking by longstanding values of a fair-go, equity for those doing it tough and generosity to help others.”

The UK, where the minister was speaking, has ring-fenced its aid spending at 0.7% of GNI, despite significantly higher public debt than Australia and a decade of government austerity measures.

The director of policy and international programs for Save the Children, Mat Tinkler, said the level of need in Australia’s region and globally was acute, with threats posed by terrorism, climate change and large-scale displacement from places such as Syria and Myanmar. He said a robust foreign aid program was demonstrably in Australia’s national interest and that, as a wealthy, stable nation in a developing region, Australia had an obligation to assist.

“When Australians are given the facts about the levels of need and the reality of Australia’s level of investment in overseas aid, which stands at just 20c out of every $100 in gross national income, we believe they support a strong role for Australia’s aid program and certainly don’t support the aid budget being raided again,” Tinkler said.

Australia’s role in the Pacific, where it has traditionally been the dominant power, is under increasing threat. China has poured up to $1.7bn in aid into the region over a decade, still far behind Australia’s $7bn over the same time. But China’s growing interest has been followed by reports of plans to build military bases in countries such as Vanuatu and its assertiveness in militarising atolls the South China Sea is seen as a template for increased military influence.

Other measures by which Australia can contribute to the regional prosperity have been suggested: the World Bank recently recommended that Australia scrap its regional work requirement for backpackers in Australia in favour of getting more seasonal workers from the Pacific woking in Australia’s horticultural industry.

The remittances earned by seasonal workers have been shown to be effective in increasing household budgets, improving education and healthcare for children, and benefiting broader communities.


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

18 April, 2018

Australia’s migrant intake is already being cut

There’s a certain irony in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton having different recollections about whether they had discussed cutting immigration. It’s being quietly reduced anyway.

If the current trend in the way Dutton’s department issues visas holds, immigration is being cut by about 20,000 - the figure Dutton either did or didn’t discuss with Cabinet colleagues.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The number of permanent non-humanitarian visas 2016-17 came in nearly 6,400 short of the government’s target of 190,000.  Last financial year’s shortfall is four times the total shortfall over the previous decade.

And this year’s gap is shaping up to be substantially greater. “Invitations” to take up the main independent points-based permanent visa over the first nine months of the year are down by about half on the previous corresponding period.

In 2016-17, the government planned to issue 43,990 of these subclass 189 visas and did issue 42,422. “Invitations” aren’t exactly “visas”, but they’re a good proxy.

The ABC reports the government is allocating visas that previously mainly went to overseas Asians to New Zealanders who are already Australian residents.

If the dive in invitations holds for the year’s final quarter, permanent immigration will have been cut by about 20,000 - the figure about which the always-helpful Tony Abbott suggests Malcolm Turnbull has “his knickers in a twist”.

Most of these subclass 189 visa migrants come directly from overseas, as opposed to those who transition here from temporary visas, and thus the reduced numbers will show up in the headline net overseas migration (NOM) numbers.

Another impact on NOM is working its way through the system from both the rhetoric and actions by the government in making it harder and less desirable to obtain temporary work visas. As previously reported, applications for 457 visas were down by a third in the first half of the year – and that was before the more restrictive two-tier temporary work visa system started last month.

The latest NOM figures are for the year to the end of September. They totalled 250,100 – representing close to one per cent of the Australian population. If the trend of subclass 189 visa invitations and temporary visa applications hold and international student visas are either steady or dip, NOM could be headed down to around 200,000.

(There’s a reasonable argument that the current NOM is overstated by about 20 per cent anyway, but we’ll stick with the ABS definition for consistency.)

At that level, NOM would be running at about 0.8 per cent of the population – not far off the average over the entire post-war period. And NOM includes the humanitarian element at a time when the outlook for genuine refugees – unable to live anywhere in their country of origin, unlike white South African farmers – remains bleak.

Meanwhile the anti-immigration chorus grows, tempting one side or the other of politics to explicitly break bi-partisanship.


Israel Folau escapes sanction for what he said - but sponsors showdown looms

He said homosexuals would burn in Hell

Rugby Australia is set for an ugly showdown with its major sponsors after deciding to not take action against Israel Folau over his anti-gay comments in an Instagram post earlier this month.

Fairfax Media understands RA chief executive Raelene Castle is satisfied with the “respectful” way in which the Wallabies’ highest-paid player clarified his remarks in a first-person online column posted on Monday night.

In the column, Folau threatened to walk away from the game if RA officials wanted him to. He also took aim at Castle for misrepresenting his “position and comments” at a media conference following their meeting in Sydney early last week.

Despite this, Castle and RA are satisfied with his comments and will not take action against him. RA confirmed the news on Tuesday afternoon via a statement.

“In his article, Israel clearly articulated his religious beliefs and why his faith is important to him and has provided context behind his social media comment," Castle said. "In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game. We accept Israel’s position.

“Rugby Australia will use this experience as an opportunity to remind all employees of their obligation to use social media in a respectful way.”

But the decision to bend for the renegade Wallabies and Waratahs player, who is off contract at the end of this season, is set to anger major sponsors who have been watching the issue fester over the past two weeks. In their eyes, there has been a major backflip.

It is understood RA told its major corporate partners last week it was going to take action against Folau over his claim in an Instagram comment that gay people were going to “hell unless they repent of their sins”.

On Tuesday morning, some sponsors told Fairfax Media they believed Folau was about to receive a breach notice at any moment. Instead, the opposite has happened.

Castle and RA have been under enormous pressure from Folau’s closest allies, not least influential broadcaster Alan Jones, to allow him to say what he wants because of his religious beliefs.


“After we’d all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately," Folau wrote. “At no stage over the past two weeks have I wanted that to happen.

“I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments. And did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia.

“When I spoke to Raelene about walking away, it was to help the game, not harm it, in the event we couldn’t come to an understanding.

“I used to believe I was defined by my actions on the footy field, but I see now that’s not true.

“During the meeting I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe. They explained their position and talked about external pressure from the media, sponsors and different parts of the community, which I understand."


The shrinking Labor party

Bill Shorten’s plan to lift Labor Party membership to 100,000 has failed, with those leaving the party outpacing those who are joining, and the party registering only 53,550 members at the end of last year. Labor is officially losing members.

Three years ago, Labor ­declared that as at December 2014 it had 53,930 members who were eligible to vote in a ballot to elect a national president and two vice-presidents.

The latest tally of membership, at last December, shows a fall of about 400 members in net terms.

The Opposition Leader outlined an ambitious plan in March 2014 to boost Labor’s rank-and-file members from about 44,000 to 100,000 members nationally.

“I announce the start of a major campaign to rebuild the Australian Labor Party and renew our sense of purpose,” Mr Shorten said the following month.

“A campaign to create a big party, a nation-embracing party, a party that represents and reflects the Australian people … a Labor Party with 100,000 members.”

Labor’s membership figures, provided by state branches to the national secretariat, are closely guarded.

The latest tally of members ­obtained by The Australian was prepared for the rank-and-file ballot to elect a president and two-vice presidents that will take place in May and June.

Ahead of the leadership contest between Mr Shorten and ­Anthony Albanese in September-October 2013, The Australian ­revealed the party had 43,823 rank-and-file members.

The next audit in December 2014 found the party had 53,930 members, a significant increase following the 2013 election defeat. Membership essentially has plateaued since.


'Is graffiti an art form or a criminal offence?': Schools accused of dumbing down English lessons with tests on STREET TAGS

English teachers  being asked to teach students to 'read graffiti' in Queensland

The sample assessment, detailed on the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority website, asks students to engage, examine and evaluate graffiti.  

Images of graffiti are provided to the students who are asked to explain, 'How do you know about the graffiti? Who produces the graffiti? Is graffiti an art form or a  criminal offence?'

The exercise even provides examples of student responses to the graffiti images, with answers including 'I have seen graffiti on the way to school' and 'It is mainly done by young people'.

Queensland's Education Minister refused to comment, while the curriculum authority described the assessment as an 'optional resource' for teachers, according to the Courier Mail.

'Decisions around the use of assessment items and contexts for learning are made at the school level,' he said.


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

17 April, 2018

Is Australia on a slippery slope towards a form of voluntary apartheid? How the roll out of Aboriginal-only services is driving a dangerous racial wedge between the indigenous and rest of the country

The roll out of Aboriginal-only services, relentless attacks on 'white privilege' and a national push for separate indigenous governance are 'driving a dangerous racial wedge' between Australia's many cultures.

High-profile indigenous leaders and public affairs experts warn there has been a deliberate move over the past decade to divide the public over race.

Recent incidents have even led to claims Australia is headed for its own version of South Africa's 'apartheid', a despised system of racial segregation abolished in 1993.

The uproar has been fuelled by moves such as a new code of conduct for Queensland nurses - which requires them to 'acknowledge their white privilege' before treating indigenous patients - and the roll out of Aboriginal-only waiting rooms in NSW hospitals.

Health is not the only area where efforts have been made to segregate Aboriginals from the rest of Australia, with similarly divisive measures advocated across education, the courts and even parliament.

Such moves were described as being a throwback to '1950s racism' - the beginning of apartheid - by federal senator David Leyonhjelm and commentators Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones.

Former politician and outspoken Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine worries racial tension is being deliberately stoked by 'inner-city folk' at the expense of the real needs of the wider indigenous community.

'I think apartheid is a bit of hyperbole... but I do see some dangerous trends, that is for sure,' he said. 'You see the marches and 90 per cent of those people aren't Aboriginal. It's only the inner-city folk in Sydney and Melbourne who are now shouting louder than ever.'

Mr Mundine slammed the notion of white privilege and the unnecessary push to change the date of Australia Day, which is increasingly referred to by critics as Invasion Day.

As well as Queensland nurses being told to acknowledge their white privilege, guidelines have been introduced across NSW requiring 'culturally appropriate' waiting rooms be set aside for Aboriginal patients.

But Mr Mundine said putting Aboriginal artwork in special waiting rooms would make little difference to indigenous Australians. 'You can put up nice artwork and do whatever you like, but it will not change until you get the proper services in place,' he said.

'I think it's a bit of overkill to just say let's set up separate rooms, it's more about what the reasons are for why Aboriginal people can't get proper health services.'

Simon Breheny, the director of policy for the Institute for Public Affairs, says there has been a concerted move to divide the Australian public over race, led by politicians.

'I think there is a growing movement to divide people on the basis of race and I think it's happening in a very large number of areas, from education to corporate work,' Mr Breheny said.

An independent indigenous parliament - a move that has been supported by Labor - is just one attempt to divide the country, they claim.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently knocked back the idea, Aboriginal groups in some parts of the country are pushing ahead regardless. The Yidindji Nation, a tribe outside of Cairns, has already appointed a prime minister and foreign minister, a move Mr Mundine disagrees with.

'We already have a parliament and it's in Canberra. And at the moment we have a record number of indigenous members representing us,' he said.

In 2016, Queensland University of Technology quarantined a computer room just for Aboriginal students. When a student complained he was forced to front the Human Rights Commission.

Even at the national broadcaster, ABC boss Michelle Guthrie has admitted 'being Aboriginal' is enough of a qualification to apply for a job with the corporation. As part of its Reconciliation Action Plan the ABC reserves three per cent of jobs for Aboriginal people.

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have long had courts to deal specifically with some Aboriginal cases, but  a recent report by the Australian Law Reform Commission proposed a new race-based legal system acknowledging the 'unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples'.

Sites sacred to the Aboriginal people are also being closed to climbers, starting with the world famous Uluru.

Also on the chopping block are St Mary Peak in South Australia, Mount Warning in NSW and the Glass House mountains in Queensland.

Numerous local municipalities have also moved in recent years to change the date of Australia Day away from the national public holiday on January 26.

Fremantle Council was the first to make the move in 2017, followed by three councils in Melbourne and The City of Darwin.

But issues such as Australia Day, law reform and separate hospital waiting rooms are not what is important to Aboriginal people, according to Mr Mundine.

'I think a lot of it is being blown up bigger than what it is. About Australia Day, in The Outback communities no one is talking about it,' he said.  'The main conversations are about how can we get jobs, how do we get our kids into school - just normal mundane things of life. It's only talked about in the inner cities.

Mr Breheny said there had been a clear attempt to divide Australia over race during the past decade.

'I think this is the end point of identity politics... and it looks very much like the worst parts of Apartheid and systems based on separation,' he said.

'That's certainly not to say Australia is an apartheid country, that is an absurd thing to say, but it doesn't even need to get to that point for there to be controversy.

'There has been an explosion of identity politics in the last ten years. We are seeing it in relation to presenters on the ABC, subjects at university, even to politics.

'I think it goes hand-in-hand with what we saw at Qantas where you can't talk about mums and dads anymore, and you can't call people "love" or "darl". 'Who knows what is next?'


Tickets for Bondi Beach, two year wait for childcare, gridlocked roads and packed trains: Sydney set to house another 7.5MILLION people by 2046 - but is the city already full?

Sydney's population is expected to hit 7.4 million by 2046, but with overcrowded schools, roads and beaches, residents are wondering if the city is already full.

Australia's largest city has added almost 1 million people since 2000, putting outdated infrastructure under strain.

In March former New South Wales premier Bob Carr warned that visitors to Bondi may soon need to buy tickets and pass through turnstiles to get onto the sand.

Exasperated parents are struggling to find spaces in public schools, and year-long waiting lists for daycare centres have become the norm in the city's east.

Meanwhile on Sydney's freeways, drivers have seen commute times balloon due to an increasing number of cars on the road.

Public transport users fare no better, subjected to dangerously overcrowded train platforms, packed carriages and timetabling nightmares that last for days.

Shoppers too face new challenges, fighting for baby formula on shelves which empty almost instantly, and being forced to stand in line to get into designer boutiques.

Worse is predicted in years to come, as population densities rise due to a boom in apartment construction and high levels of immigration.

Only Sydney's nightlife seems immune to population pressure, thanks to the city's restrictive lockout laws.

The once-thriving entertainment precinct of Kings Cross empties out by midnight and iconic pubs like the Bourbon are a shadow of their former selves.

Even The Star casino, which mysteriously managed to avoid the same restrictions applied to other establishments, is seeing fewer punters.

Anyone who has attempted a weekend trip to Sydney's world famous beaches in recent summers would have found them packed with locals and tourists.

Bondi Beach is now so crowded plans have been floated to sell tickets and install turnstiles to limit access.

'Do you have fences and turnstiles around Bondi, for example, when the population reaches the sort of intensified level that means the roads are choked most days in summer?,' asked Mr Carr earlier this year.

'Do you start to ration access to the coastal path - fences, turnstiles, online ticketing?'

On the other side of the harbour, ferries packed to capacity on weekends deliver thousands of people every hour to Manly Beach, voted Australia's best.

Even beaches which were relatively unknown in previous years - locals' favourites like Freshwater and Tamarama - are now overrun by crowds of sunbathers.

Forests of new apartment buildings dotted all over Sydney have resulted in skyrocketing population densities in some pockets of the city.

More people means more demand for public services, and fiercer competition for places in public schools.

In many areas of Sydney, including some of the most sought-after suburbs, schools have been swamped by rising enrolments.

At one school in the leafy north shore suburb of Chatswood, there are 60 girls for every toilet stall, leading to queues at lunchtime and recess.

Students at Chatswood Public School are now forced to use the playground in shifts, as over 1200 students cram into premises built for 800.

The situation in the inner city and inner west an influx of young families is making planners regret closing and rezoning schools in previous decades.

Even in Sydney's west, where infrastructure was designed for growth, schools are running out of capacity.

Camden saw the city's largest increase in enrolments - 2.6 times the Sydney average - closely followed by Strathfield, Holroyd and Parramatta.

Planners are scrambling to provide enough road space for the record number of new cars on the road, but it may be too little too late to cope with the population boom.

The WestConnex, a 33-kilometre motorway project now under construction, will link a number of Sydney's major arterial roads.

However, there are doubts the new scheme will be able to keep pace with the city's growing population.

Commuters have seen the trip from Coogee to the CBD double from 20 minutes to over 40, and traffic on the Eastern Distributor regularly comes to a standstill.

The Great Western Highway, King Street and Enmore Road, William Street, South Dowling Street and Cleveland Street are all a nightmare for motorists.

Drivers who are sick of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic may be tempted to trade in their car for an Opal card, but the rail network is arguably worse than the roads.

Long-suffering train users have endured a series of nightmarish commutes since Transport NSW implemented their new timetable in November.

Earlier in the year passengers saw nine-hour delays and cascading cancellations that paralysed the entire network three days in row.

Compared to the meteoric price rises of the previous two years, Sydney's housing market has slightly negative growth in the first months of the year.

Despite cooling sales numbers, and fears the city's apartment glut could crash the housing market, competition for rental properties remains fierce.

Businessman Dick Smith warned of an end to the Australian way of life if the country continued to accept more than 200,000 immigrants a year. 'You're jammed like a termite in a high-rise, or I say battery chooks,' Mr Smith told Four Corners last month.

At inner city supermarkets parking lots are permanently full, and popular locations like Woolworths and Coles in Potts Point routinely run out of shopping baskets.


Lure teachers to the bush with extra cash and nice houses, government advised

Teachers "at the top of their game" would be lured from the city to the bush with extra cash, nice houses and a guaranteed right of return under a plan to improve student results in Australia's regional schools.

A lengthy review of regional education has urged the federal government to offer more incentives for established teachers to do a stint outside the city, and to break down the stigma around the bush as a place for teachers to work.

Teachers should also be given an "absolute, rock-solid guarantee" they can return to their original school, said the report's author, education professor and former teacher John Halsey.

He pointed to models used in mining and engineering industries to lure staff to regional areas by offering "very nice housing", and flying staff and their families free-of-charge to inspect their would-be homes.

A 34-year-old teacher moving to an isolated area does not want to share a house with strangers, Professor Halsey said. And people's enthusiasm about working in rural areas was often "drained away every day after work by complaints and disappointments about the quality of housing" from family members. "It's just a fact of life," Professor Halsey told Fairfax Media. "Housing and conditions in some locations - and in some more than others - is a major issue."

The report also recommended teachers be lured with "targeted salary and conditions packages" and a guarantee they can return to their original post, not just any school.

"If you're prepared to go to Broken Hill and you've come out of the green leafies in Sydney, being told you can return to greater metropolitan Sydney is not going to cut it," Professor Halsey said.

The Turnbull government commissioned the review last year in a bid to improve lagging results for country students compared to their city counterparts. The report, presented to education ministers on Friday, also recommended making the national curriculum more relevant to regional and remote students.

"The achievements of [country] students have in the main lagged behind urban students for decades," Professor Halsey wrote. "This has to be turned around in the shortest time possible."

The report acknowledged the drawback in luring teachers to the bush temporarily was that turnover would remain high. But it was still desirable to get more teachers "at the top of their game" into regional schools.

Beginner teachers were often seen as "an important [but] over-represented" component of staff in regional schools, Professor Halsey said. "Experience does count for something and accounts in some instances for a lot," he said.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said there was "no silver bullet" to fixing inequities in regional education but he would examine the recommendations and respond


Flesh-eating ulcer common in Africa spreading rapidly in Australia

A severe tissue-destroying ulcer once rare in Australia is rapidly spreading and is now at epidemic proportions in regions of Victoria, prompting infectious diseases experts to call for urgent research into how it is contracted and spread.

In an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) on Monday, authors led by associate professor Daniel O’Brien from Barwon Health said incidents of Buruli ulcer were on the rise but researchers were baffled as to why Victoria was being particularly affected. [Lots of Africans there?] There have been no reported cases in New South Wales, South Australia or Tasmania.

In 2016, there were 182 new cases of the ulcer in Victoria – the highest ever reported by 72%, O’Brien said. But he added that cases reported until 11 November 2017 had further increased by 51% compared with the same period in 2016, from 156 cases to 236 cases.

“Despite being recognised in Victoria since 1948, efforts to control the disease have been severely hampered because the environmental reservoir and mode of transmission to humans remain unknown,” O’Brien said. “It is difficult to prevent a disease when it is not known how infection is acquired.”

The first sign of infection is usually a painless lump on the skin often dismissed as an insect bite. The slow-moving infection then burrows into a layer of fat located between the skin and the lining that covers muscles. It is in this fatty layer that the infection takes hold, spreading sideways and through the body, destroying tissue along the way, before eventually erupting back through the skin in the form of an ulcer. Those with the infection often have no idea the infection has taken hold until the ulcer appears. But when the ulcer does erupt, the pain can be extreme.

Anyone is susceptible. While the infection responds to a roughly eight-week course of antibiotics, in rare cases surgery to remove skin or even amputation is needed.

Prof Paul Johnson is an internationally renowned Buruli ulcer expert and has been studying the infection since 1993. He led the development of a highly-accurate diagnostic test for the bacteria that causes the disease and is now based at Austin Health in Victoria, where he is trying to understand why the infection is most common on the coastal Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas.

This has confused researchers because the disease is most often associated with swampland areas in tropical countries and it is found at the greatest frequency in Africa. Cases are also becoming more severe.

“It seems to occur in very specific areas of Victoria,” Johnson said. “If you don’t enter an endemic area, you don’t get the disease. But what is it about the area that contains it, and what happens to you that means you pick the disease up from that area? Those are the big questions we’ve been asking.”

He also said the infection had a “very odd” distribution. “When you enter an endemic area, it looks the same as the area you just left,” he said.

Johnson believes it is most likely the bacteria that causes the ulcer, Mycobacterium ulcerans, is being spread by mosquitos and possums. His research team caught a large number of mosquitos in affected areas and found a small proportion did carry the bacteria.

They then found ringtail possums in affected areas excreted the bacteria in their faeces.

“Our hypothesis is really that this is a disease of possums,” he said. “It sweeps through possums and contaminates the local environment through their poo including contaminating mosquitos, and people are picking it up predominately from biting insects, and maybe directly from possums.”

There could be other modes of transmission though, he said, and he said researchers did not know how possums contracted and spread the disease. Johnson said that unlike malaria, which is rapidly spread by mosquitos, transmission of Mycobacterium ulcerans appeared to be more inefficient.

The authors of the MJA article called for urgent government funding to research the bacteria and to carry out an exhaustive examination of the environments it is found, including looking at local animals and any interaction with people.

“The time to act is now,” the authors wrote.

Johnson agreed but added there were some precautions people in affected areas could take such as avoiding mosquito bites, cleaning and covering any cuts sustained outdoors, and going to the doctor if they had any concerns.


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

16 April, 2018

Some racism is OK, it seems

I posted about the first advertisement yesterday -- and the vast outrage it provoked

Both advertisements are from Australia. The second advertisement is highly comparable to the first but provoked no outrage at all. Discriminating in favour of blacks is fine.

 We live in a world where there are no moral or behavior standards, only political expediency. 

'The thought police have gone way too far this time': Critics slam proposed law that could allow children to identify as ‘intersex‘ and 'non-binary’ on birth certificates

Including the gender of a baby boy or girl on a birth certificate could become a thing of the past under a proposed law.

The Queensland government is discussing a law which will mean babies can be identified as 'intersex' or 'non-binary' on official documents, The Courier Mail reported.

The proposal has been fuelled by gender diversity conversations which could see the terms includes on documents in the sunshine state.

A paper commissioned by Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath outlined the changes could 'allow individuals to self-identify their sex or gender when registering a life event'.

'There are many people in the LGBTI community who feel current laws don't adequately reflect or capture the true fabric of all Queensland families,' Ms D'Ath told the publication.

However, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the sunshine state cares about schools, jobs and hospitals, not the words on a birth certificate. 'These are official government records, you can only be born male or female,' she said. 'The thought police have gone way too far this time.'

In November last year a German court ruled parents could register their new borns as a third gender making it the first European country to do so.

Intersex people, who have a mix of male and female characteristics, make up less than two per cent of the world's population, BBC News reported.

Currently on Australian birth certificates, in some states, non-specific genders are included for the parents, where the labels mother and father can be referred to as 'parent one' and 'parent two'.


Content warnings are simply making Millennials more scared of life
Luke Kinsella

SINCE beginning my studies at the Australian National University, I’ve noticed a serious flaw in my fellow students’ approach to mental health. Their frequent use of trigger warnings — or ‘content warnings’, as they’re more often referred — is a grave mental health concern that seems to be flying under everyone’s radar.

Typically found in classrooms and at the top of news articles and social media posts, content warnings alert students of potentially distressing content.

Their use is currently being pushed by extremely mobilised student leaders who dominate control of student unions and student media.

Content warnings originated in the feminist blogosphere to warn victims of sexual assault about vivid depictions of sexual violence. Recently however, I’ve witnessed an explosion of the list of subjects that require a warning. They’re now used for mere mention of potentially distressing subjects — it’s these warnings that, though well-meaning, I believe are doing serious damage to the mental health of my peers.

For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report in 2017 about sexual assault at Australian universities. Mere mention of the report’s existence required a warning. Any reference to the same-sex marriage postal vote also required a warning.

I’ve seen content warnings for “discussion of invasion day”, “discussion of pornography”, “abortion” and “LGBT issues”. My student union has issued warnings for “holocaust denial”, “images of being bound” and “queerphobic behaviour”.

But it’s my student newspaper that has taken it to another level. They’ve used content warnings for discussion of “war”, “drugs”, “discrimination”, “sexism”, “racism”, “transphobia”, “homophobia”, “mental illness”, “displacement”, the #MeToo movement, “genocide”, “institutional betrayal” and “birth”.

In 2015, a highly influential article was published in The Atlantic titled: “The Coddling of the American Mind”. My student experience has convinced me that “The Coddling of the Australian Mind” has officially begun. And it’s not doing students any favours.

Rather than reducing fear towards certain subjects and non-progressive opinions, content warnings have only increased it. And rather than empowering students to conquer sensitive or disturbing subjects, they’ve only empowered the subjects’ ability to conquer students.

When the characters in Harry Potter called Voldemort “he who must not be named”, it only made him scarier. Dumbledore insisted that Harry call Voldemort by his real name. He knew that in the long-run, using the pseudonym only spread more fear and more emotional damage.

Content warnings are making Voldemorts out of certain subjects. They’ve created a milieu where certain subjects are considered taboo and inherently traumatising. According to psychologist Jonathan Haidt, we don’t just develop our fears form our own personal experiences, but also from our environment.

“If everyone around you acts as though something is dangerous — elevators, certain neighbourhoods, novels depicting racism — then you are at risk of acquiring that fear too,” Dr Haidt wrote in The Atlantic.

Psychiatrist Sarah Roff wrote in The Chronicle Of Higher Education that warnings “will apply not just to those who have experienced trauma, but to all students, creating an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to believe that there is something dangerous or damaging about discussing difficult aspects of our history”.

Students are repeatedly warned before discussing sensitive subjects and opinions. As a result, all students (whether they’ve experienced trauma or not) are slowly beginning to believe that there’s something inherently or necessarily traumatising about them.

“About a dozen new teachers of criminal law at multiple institutions have told me that they are not including rape law in their courses, arguing that it’s not worth the risk of complaints of discomfort by students,” Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk wrote in The New Yorker.

Should we really be training students to think there’s something dangerous about discussing rape law? Or same-sex marriage? Or reports by the AHRC? Or the #MeToo movement?

Progress requires people have the resilience to discuss controversial subjects, especially with those opposed to it. Content warnings have killed such discussion. They’ve created ‘sacred’ subjects that are policed by cadres of condescending students perpetually monitoring who’s not toeing the party line.

Students with contrarian opinions stay silent to avoid the risk of triggering someone or sparking a heated debate about some emotionally-charged subject. Discussing controversial political issues with opponents isn’t impossible, but it’s certainly gotten a lot harder. We more often seek refuge in our respective echo chambers, making us even more intolerant of different opinions.

Following pressure from their student union, Monash University in 2017 became the first Australian university to actually impose content warnings in the classroom. The next step will see students actually censoring course material for being ‘too upsetting’ — something the Monash student union president refused to rule out.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) criticised content warnings for this exact reason: “If such topics are associated with triggers, correctly or not, they are likely to be marginalised if not avoided altogether by faculty who fear complaints for offending or discomforting some of their students.”

According to the American Psychological Association in 2017 (the same year Monash instituted content warnings), “there is little support for the idea that offering generic classroom warnings about sensitive topics is beneficial to students.” Given this, I find Monash’s decision to be at best, impulsive, and at worst, extremely reckless.

Harvard psychology professor Richard McNally argues classroom content warnings actually hurt sufferers of PTSD. “Trigger warnings are counter-therapeutic because they encourage avoidance of reminders of trauma, and avoidance maintains PTSD,” he wrote in The New York Times.

The most common and effective means of curing PTSD is through “exposure therapy”, which Dr McNally defines as “gradual, systematic exposure to traumatic memories” until one’s “capacity to trigger distress diminishes”. Avoidance of triggers is considered a symptom of PTSD, not a cure.

Dr McNally also pointed out that there’s a difference between experiencing trauma, and having PTSD. “Trauma is common, but PTSD is rare.”

According to Dr McNally, rather than diminishing the emotional resilience of all students, “universities can best serve students by facilitating access to effective and proven treatments for PTSD”.

Providing a content warning (that hasn’t even been requested) to the whole class every time any sensitive subject is mentioned, isn’t the answer. The minority of students with PTSD should be able to request temporary content warnings shortly after their experience of trauma. But individual accommodations only exist to provide students with enough time to seek help.

There should be an expectation that students learn strategies to conquer their triggers so they can rejoin the class without content warnings. If a student doesn’t yet have an effective strategy, short-term warnings in the classroom might be beneficial — but only if they’re requested and communicated privately, rather than broadcasted to the entire class.

We shouldn’t give academics, lecturers and journalists the job of constantly predicting the (often unpredictable) triggers of complete strangers. It’s the job of therapists to equip sufferers of PTSD with strategies to deal with those triggers.

And it’s the job of universities to firstly, mirror the real world in providing a reason to seek that treatment in the first place, and secondly, provide opportunities for sufferers of PTSD to practice their coping strategies, rather than providing an easy opt-out.

“I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different ... I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym,” CNN’s Van Jones once said. Jones’ differentiation between safety and strength is spot-on. The implicit undertone of mental health discussion at university is no longer ‘strength’ and ‘resilience’, but ‘safety’ and ‘protection’.

Instead of desensitising students to discussion of certain subjects, content warnings have made them oversensitive. And when you’re oversensitive, you’re vulnerable. Life is a (content-warning-free) sequence of stress, pain and offence. Yet my peers are being fattened up with content warnings and safe spaces like pigs for slaughter.

Rates of anxiety, depression and suicide among American students have shot up, and the trend has hit Australia. Dr Haidt has described this as a “crisis of resilience”.

“Growing numbers of college students have become less able to cope with the challenges of campus life, including offensive ideas, insensitive professors, and rude or even racist and sexist peers,” he said.

The transition from high school to university used to symbolise one’s first step into adulthood. But today’s students are prolonging their adolescence by demanding universities look more like high schools. Decades of helicopter parenting have forced students to find helicopter parents in new forms.

My generation have grown up relying on third party authorities to supervise us, resolve disputes between our peers and issue punishments. We’ve become accustomed to authorities that protect us and fulfil the role of mediator. During our childhood, the authority was our parents, and then our schools. Now, it’s our universities.

It used to be considered childish for a student to “dob on” another student to some university bureaucrat. Not anymore. The world is just so scary. And if you go to university, you’d assume it’s gotten scarier. Today’s students demand content warnings, safe spaces, bias response teams, on-demand therapy, micro-aggression policies and even more complaints procedures.

World War III nearly broke out at Yale in 2015 when a mob of students confronted a university administrator who refused to regulate which Halloween costumes students could wear. And Yale isn’t an anomaly. According to Pew Research, 40 per cent of Millennials support censorship of opinions they deem offensive. Some universities have capitulated to the students by banning certain public speakers.

In a massive shift in student attitudes, today’s students want university administrations to have more power over what they can say, hear and do. While students of the past wanted fewer rules and less protection, today’s students want more of both. They’re actually welcoming, if not demanding, their own infantilisation.


NAPLAN not perfect but doesn't deserve to die

Nary a week goes by without NAPLAN being in the news. Everyone has an opinion on the national literacy and numeracy tests - the most recent being aired by retired US academic Les Perelman who was commissioned by the New South Wales teachers union to write a report on the writing component of the assessment. His scathing remarks that the NAPLAN writing task is "bizarre" and creates "bad writers" were tailor-made for high media exposure.

Journalists, as a rule, like NAPLAN and the My School website where the school-level statistics are published. They like it for the principled reason that it provides information about school and system performance that was not previously available to parents and the public - what The Guardian's Katherine Murphy called a `transparency regime'. But even better than that, it is a never-ending source of stories for education writers. Nevertheless, NAPLAN is constantly under attack and the media feeds the frenzy.

Many criticisms of NAPLAN are unfounded, and tend to drown out constructive criticism. Chief among them is that NAPLAN causes pathological levels of stress and anxiety among students. Surveys of teachers and parents indicate that some students experience anxiousness but there is no evidence that this is any more than the normally heightened emotion associated with any new experience, or wanting to do well. Alleged student stress and contestable claims about the negative `high stakes' nature of NAPLAN should be examined, but are not a good reason to scrap it.

However, this does not mean that NAPLAN is perfect and should be preserved in amber. Perelman's media comments were arguably polemic and it would be easy to dismiss him as a union `rent-a-demic', but this would be a case of shooting the messenger before hearing the message.

Some of the criticisms in Perelman's report warrant attention. For example, there is observational validity to his claims that NAPLAN writing tasks encourage and reward formulaic writing that is useful for younger students but limiting for older students. His argument that informative writing should be included in the assessment, and that it should be aligned to the curriculum, also has merit.

If there is to be any review of NAPLAN, as mooted by a number of state education ministers, it should be with a commitment to improving it rather than abolishing it. NAPLAN was a hard won achievement by Prime Minister Gillard. If we lose it, we lose a valuable educational asset we will never get back.


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

15 April, 2018

Politicians and Problems

Below is an essay recently given to me by a friend in his late 70s which covers several issues in Australian politics. I showed in 1985 that old people tend to have very conservative and even "obsolete" opinions and that applies below.   Much of what the writer says would be regarded as politically incorrect by current standards.  But it is good to have a diversity of views to help form one's thinking. I offer the essay for consideration

It is a perverse occupation that of a politician. On one hand, for appearances, lest they be accused of greed, they ascribe to themselves less income than their soul mates in the higher reaches of commerce; while on the other hand, on account of their endeavours for the nation, they aspire to be venerated by their good works in the future rages of history. Inevitably the politics game is a bit of a trade-off because, no matter what course of new action they finally agree upon, it necessitates expense from the national treasury for the implementation thereof. Individual politicians usually receive little credit no matter almost what measures are passed because the general mass of the population unfailingly have hands always out for whatever benefit they think might accrue for themselves irrespective of how that may affect the nation.

During press appearances politicians are more closely scrutinized than witnesses in a murder trial. While anxious to have the opportunity of media interviews to promote their careers and community respect, they are also in abject terror during such interviews knowing full well that the slightest slip of the tongue can easily result in them being cast immediately to the backbench in shame and denigration. Aside from the traditional acerbic viciousness always hurled from one political party to any others, each member of any one of those pernicious groups is jostling every other member within for their own recognition and hopeful advancement. They are masters of obfuscation, excuses and delaying tactics related to unfilled promises. Routinely politicians are suspected of self-serving intrigue and thought of as considering themselves as one above the common man. There is a sickening repetitiveness about it all.

One aspect of parliamentary procedure in both Australia and Britain is the commendable effort that goes into Hansard where the exact record of every speech on the floor of the House, the votes and the conclusions of the myriad committees are recorded. This is all very well for any back reference that is required and a jolly feast for the media, but, owing to it's precise comprehensive nature is not exactly an easy medium for ordinary citizens to avail themselves of the goings on even with today's speed of home computers and the internet. Thus it is that ordinary citizens are generally unappreciative of the efforts that their individual MP might have been making on their behalf.

 The sad result of this ignorance therefore is that prior to an election each voter will be inclined more towards whatever party they think is going to give them the best deal rather than credit their MP with any efforts he may have made on their behalf. It would be unrealistic to expect citizens to limit their hopes for their own welfare, but maybe we could improve the present system. Aside from dividing the nation, this identification with the party rather than the individual member has allowed art inferior practice to continue way past it's use by date. It detracts from what could be a more intimate, responsible, understanding relationship between the voter and their electorate's current representative. Any system whereby this could be achieved would reduce the stress on the MP and minimize party directives in any electorate that might be contrary to the wishes of the electors there.

Every MP it seems has an electoral office and the staff to man it. Perhaps that staff, to keep their local constituents fully informed, could print simple lists of that member's proposals and successful bills in the electoral office window to give credit where credit was due. In future instead of party directives this rapport with each MP through their local office and the aspirations of those potential MP's listed as election contenders provided by the Electoral Commission, would reduce the endless, nasty, almost unbelievable accusations generated by parties against each other and the stress for us all. Electors would thus participate more honestly with the system; animosity would be reduced; the pace. increased for improvement of the nation and democracy enhanced.

Aside from the traditional struggles between political parties and the intense competition between members for advancement within a party, there is one other major roadblock that seriously retards our nation's cohesion. That is the unfortunate retention since Federation of the states and all their incumbent legislation. The states were indeed needed at that time before the telegraph when communication across the distances was by horse. Nowadays any law that is introduced in the federal government has to accommodate the pre-existing laws made in all the various states. Aside from all the state administrative personnel required to maintain or enforce ancient regulations, the drafting of any such new federal legislation has thus to be so carefully vetted by so many legal eagles that the drafting procedure costs and the time required are a source of frightful extra expense.

Australians have delayed so long about making reforms that a perverse unfortunate loyalty to particular states has developed which now makes this needed economic change more difficult. However once this vital change has been made every vote in the new federal arena will be no longer be unnecessarily pressured or hindered and their MP will have a free conscience vote entirely dependent on the long term merits of the proposed legislation. In due course even without any need to outlaw political parties (which is best avoided to prevent a senseless hullabaloo), it will become apparent, even to Australians who take surprisingly little interest in politics, that the rigid party systems inherited from the English were really counter-productive and obsolete years ago. Who knows, aside from the more economical management of the nation's affairs, maybe just the savings of that measure alone could be more than sufficient to wipe away the debts of all the states.

Maybe there could be a solution to the inexorably increasing costs of hospitals. We could be  doing a bit more about euthanasia because obviously the More we treat our citizens the sooner they will be back in hospital costing us again. It would be cheaper at least for the nation if the frail were earlier to expire gracefully in the funeral parlour. Scientists and doctors rejoice at the discovery of new life enhancing discoveries and positively glow with the thought that they are doing the rest of us a wonderful benefit. Thus medical science seems the surest forms of employment into the future. However the Hippocratic Oath requires that this caring fraternity do no harm, but that does not include any damage to a pensioner's dwindling resources or the economy of the nation.

Most readers Would consider all that to be negative thinking, but, sadly, realism does not seem to feature in today's politically correct world. For example just recently the ABC radio expects us all to rejoice on hearing them announcing that the $500 normal monthly costs for medicine for HIV sufferers has been put on to Medicare. HIV sufferers, as far as 1 know (which is not much), are persons (deviating from the Lord's design) who, wish to insert their penis into the rectum of other persons. It is no big surprise that this has generated life threatening disease and indicates that such persons, aside from being undesirable, must be short of intelligence or just born defective. As society does not really need any more such  persons it would be beneficial if they did not create any more humans who might be similarly confused about their sexual orientation. This of courst means that these costs to Medicare should really be reversed and we (normal folk) should instead be outraged that this decision has ever been made.

There are similar concerns generated by those covered by the ridiculous liquorice-all-sorts appellation of LBGTI. It is totally incongruous that we are all supposed to enjoy the Sydney Mardi Gras parades as these sad individuals gaily cavort in the street with abandon in their undies. Although this taboo subject was ashamedly under the carpet in years gone by, this massive effort now to call attention to their particular ailment is really childishly pathetic and revolting to many. We all understand that the object of.this charade in these enlightened times is for the general public to have sympathy for the plight of these unfortunates; that we should try not to laugh at their condition or to condemn their practices.

Anyway there is not much modern medicine today can do for mental difficulties and physical surgery does not seem much chop, so these folk do deserve some sympathy. The excess attention this group has achieved however distracted the federal government from other more pertinent work and has cost the nation dearly in the long drawn out, nearly unnecessary national plebiscite on same sex marriage. The expense of that issue was not really warranted because government services and Centrelink were already for years recognizing at least the financial side of such sexual arrangements. While it was regrettable otherwise useful government time was lost dithering over the plebiscite, the only remaining citizens who were displeased by the whole performance were cynics like the writer, a few rusty clerics and the odd wedding cake decorator

In bringing up the topic of marriage, however Australians seem to miss the truly significant unattended reforms that are essential for the viability of our future and that is just not for the transgender persons. To try to avoid strange or defective humans being created in the first place the bestowing of a marriage certificate ought to be subject to the most stringent, compulsory physical genetic examination of both partners prior to any coitus. Although confused about their own sexual orientation transgenders do have a strong reputation for having very caring natures, so there ought to be some consideration given to whether births, adoption and surrogacy for them should be denied. There should be no more newborns likely to claim on former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's unaffordable National Disability Insurance Scheme for any physical or mental defect. With our advanced knowledge of genetics prevention is not only better than cure, because cure is still often impossible and defectives remain an unnecessary tragedy after their parents have died. Let us have less problems and "Advance Australia Fair".

Why cannot a business advertise for the staff it most needs?

Optus wanted a salesmen to operate in a high-income, mostly white suburb.  It rightly thought that the salesman would be more successful, the more he was like the people he would be selling to.  But saying that was a big no-no, apparently

A job ad calling for applicants who are 'Anglo Saxon' and live near 'Neutral Bay' on Sydney's affluent North Shore has outraged politicians, lawyers and the public.

The advert for a retail consultant with telecommunications giant Optus, which has now been taken down - appeared on Seek on Thursday afternoon.

Lawyers, politicians and community leaders condemned the ad on Friday, with some commenting on its legality.

The median price for rent in Neutral Bay is $1,100 per week and it costs $2.2 million to buy in the exclusive suburb.

Optus labelled the job advert as 'completely unacceptable' and expressed its commitment to 'diversity and inclusion' in a post to social media.

'A job advert posted on a website today is a clear breach of Optus values and our commitment to equal opportunity employment,' the company stated.

'We've removed the advert and are investigating how this occurred and offer an unreserved apology.' '

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane described the post as illegal in a post to twitter on Friday. 'Under the Racial Discrimination Act, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race in employment,' he said.

Social media users reacted with anger on twitter and Facebook, with some describing the ad as 'racist', while others threatened to switch phone companies.  

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said he was pleased Optus 'removed the hurtful and outrageous ad', which  he said 'clearly violates the Australian values of fair go, equal opportunity and inclusivity'.

'People should be employed based on their skills, merit and CV, not because of their background, culture or skin colour,' he said.


Deputy head to return to Trinity Grammar after 'unjustified' sacking

"Modern" administrators tried to fire a popular and dedicated teacher who did not share their shallow goals

Trinity Grammar's sacked deputy principal will return to the school next week after an independent review found his dismissal over cutting a student's hair was unjustified.

After weeks of unrest, the Kew private school offered deputy principal Rohan Brown his job back on Wednesday evening- an offer he swiftly accepted. "I want my job back," he told The Age, fighting back tears. "I am so proud of the Trinity community. It is a great profession and I adore the boys and parents."

The review by high-profile silk and former judge Ray Finkelstein, QC, and barrister Renee Enbom found that while deputy principal Rohan Brown's actions may have breached the school's code of conduct and constituted serious misconduct, his dismissal was unwarranted.

This was because principal Michael Davies had decided not to end Mr Brown's contract directly after the controversial hair cut incident and the school council had no authority to dismiss the popular teacher.

The findings will pave the way for a resolution to a chaotic chapter in the school's 115-year history.

School council chairman Robert Utter apologised to Mr Brown and said the school accepted full responsibility for a decision that had ultimately been deemed "wrong". "We would also like to extend sincere apologies to the wider Trinity community, with the original decision creating concern for many," he said in a statement. "The decision itself was not taken lightly at the time. It was based on an understanding of matters, which are now known to be different."

Maurice Blackburn employment law principal Josh Bornstein, who is acting for Mr Brown, said while it was unfortunate his client had been dismissed in the first place, he was pleased he was being reinstated. "Our client has always held the utmost respect for Trinity Grammar and its students, and he is very proud to be a part of the school community," he said. "He has only ever sought a fair process and he welcomes that an independent investigation has now confirmed that he should never have been dismissed from his role."

The review was commissioned by the school in March in the wake of an unprecedented backlash against its decision to sack Mr Brown.

Mr Brown's sacking last month thrust the Anglican school into an administrative crisis, with parents, students and alumni declaring they had no confidence in the school council or principal. There was a chorus of calls for the popular Mr Brown, who had worked at the school for 30 years, to be reinstated.

Student protests broke out in the schoolyard where children unfurled "Bring Back Brownie" banners, while their angry parents packed into town hall meetings and threatened to withhold their fees of up to $32,000 a year.

Some parents even paid for a truck with an electronic billboard to circle the school, airing messages calling for principal Dr Michael Davies and the school council to stand down.

Facing intense criticism from the school community, three school council members, including the chair, stood down last month.

Earlier this week the new school council chair, Robert Utter, opened nominations for an interim school council. He called for people with risk management, accounting and finance, legal, education, fundraising, wellbeing and welfare and infrastructure skills.

The Old Trinity Grammarians' Association criticised Mr Utter's announcement, saying it had undermined the role of the nominations committee, which has its own process for nominating to the school council.

The turmoil began brewing long before Mr Brown chopped a student's hair on photo day in February.

In December,  Old Trinity Grammarians' Association president David Baumgartner raised concerns with the school council chair and headmaster about changes to the school's culture. In a scathing letter, he accused the prestigious private school of being too preoccupied with high ATARS, fundraising and building projects.


Right to speak threatened in Australia

Enjoy speaking your mind and sharing your views while you can. The rights to freedom of speech, conscience, and religious belief look set to disappear very soon from Australia.

And it will certainly happen if the corporate guardians of public morality have their way following the grilling given to Wallabies superstar Israel Folau who is a devout, conservative Christian.

Falou holds some very traditional Christian beliefs about sin, heaven and hell, and homosexuality. He expressed his view that gay people should repent in this life to avoid being sent to hell.

You can agree or disagree with Izzy. But either way, if Australia is a genuinely free country, he should be free to express his genuinely held religious beliefs.

And if we are a genuinely tolerant country, we will let Izzy say what he thinks even though many of us may strongly disagree with what he says. Remember: tolerating views you agree with is easy.

We often confuse tolerance with `respect'. But real tolerance means putting up with the opinions of others that you think are simply wrong - or even abhorrent and repellent.

After all, we clearly expect Izzy to tolerate all the views bluntly expressed by his many critics, including corporate sponsors such as Qantas and ASICS, who accuse him of homophobia, and worse.

Obviously, when he answered the Instagram question, Izzy wasn't representing the views of Rugby Australia, or ASIC, or Qantas. Only a fool would have failed to see they were his personal views.

Yet now there appears to be a concerted push to silence Izzy and force him to keep his religious beliefs to himself. But why should he keep quiet?

Freedom of speech means sometimes people will say things that others find disagreeable. And if we truly value such freedom, we will stop trying to silence those who offend us.

We are gradually, but inexorably, tipping towards a new kind of totalitarianism where any controversial or awkward opinion is silenced, and all dissent is crushed into submission.

Now is the time to stop this dangerous slide towards tyranny and intolerance. If we delay too long, it will be too late for us, and we will all be muzzled for good.


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

13 April, 2018

Australia's Discrimination Commissioner assumes discrimination rather than proving it

Frank Chung comments on a race-obsessed public servant.  If discrimination can be proved that is one thing but assuming it from statistics is very different. 

Why is it different?  Because different groups have different priorities.  Indians, for instance gravitate to small businesses where income can be hidden.  There's a tradition of that in India.  So, in case you haven't noticed, we have a LOT of Indian taxi-drivers -- a mostly cash business. I was a taxi-driver myself once so I know a bit about it.  And there are Indian restaurants all over as well.

So does the over-representation of Indians in taxi-driving prove discrimination against white and East Asian taxi-drivers?  It's all a nonsense. East Asians for instance have a strong bent towards the professions.  So you won't often find bright East Asians in big business.  They are more likely to be the big businessman's doctor or medical specialist.  Is that discrimination we have to worry about?

From his name, I am assuming that Frank Chung is partly of East Asian ancestry and he clearly doesn't feel discriminated against

AUSTRALIA’S Race Discrimination Commissioner is being paid $340,000 a year by taxpayers to peddle racist pseudoscience.

In fact, Dr Tim Soutphommasane’s title could be more accurately described as “Commissioner for Racist Discrimination”, given his obsession with skin colour and apparent distaste for anyone from an “Anglo-Celtic or European background”.

Or in other words, white people.

In a risible piece of research released by the Human Rights Commission and the University of Sydney Business School on Tuesday, the good doctor lamented the fact that only eight executives in ASX 200 companies have a “non-European background”.

Similarly, of the 30 members of the Federal Ministry, there is “no one who has a non-European background” and only “one who has an indigenous background”.

Amusingly, that means Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt — who is indigenous with part English, Irish and Indian heritage — is at once part of the problem and part of the solution, according to Dr Soutphommasane.

He goes on to rattle off similar numbers for the state and federal public service and university administrations. “All up there are 11 of the 372 CEOs and equivalents who have a non-European or indigenous background,” he said.

“A mere cricket team’s worth of diversity. These are dismal statistics for a society that prides itself on its multiculturalism. They challenge our egalitarian self-image. And they challenge our future prosperity as a nation. If we aren’t making the most of our multicultural talents, we may be squandering opportunities.”

Like a modern-day Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle, Dr Soutphommasane — magnifying glass and colour wheel in hand — has taken a meticulous taxonomic study on his voyage through corporate Australia.

“Of those who occupy 2490 of the most senior posts in Australia, 75.9 per cent have an Anglo-Celtic background, 19 per cent have a European background, 4.7 per cent have a non-European background and 0.4 per cent have an indigenous background,” he said.

“Described another way, about 95 per cent of senior leaders in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic or European background. Although those who have non-European and indigenous backgrounds make up an estimated 24 per cent of the Australian population, such backgrounds account for only 5 per cent of senior leaders.

“In a society where nearly one-quarter is estimated to have a non-European or indigenous background, the findings of our latest study challenge us to do better with our multiculturalism.”

Naturally, these findings have led Dr Soutphommasane to call for “cultural targets and quotas across the business, academic and political worlds”, according to Fairfax.

There are three pretty obvious problems with this.

Firstly, Dr Soutphommasane seems to be talking out both sides of his mouth. He says he wants “cultural targets”, but then admits his real problem is with “European and Anglo-Celtic” peoples. How similar are the cultures of Norway and Greece, or Ukraine and Portugal?

Secondly, Dr Soutphommasane does not seem to understand the meaning of “egalitarian”, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities”.

Equality of opportunity is not the same thing as equality of outcome. As US economist Milton Friedman said, a society that “puts equality of outcome ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom”.

“The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests,” he said.

Which leads to the third point. Proponents of race and gender quotas like Dr Soutphommasane believe equality of opportunity is impossible due to the pseudoscience of “unconscious bias” — a kind of modern-day phrenology which claims everyone is incredibly racist and sexist even if they don’t think they are.

Unconscious bias, also called implicit bias, first emerged in 1998 with the rollout of something called the implicit association test and immediately spread like wildfire through western institutions, spawning a multimillion-dollar industry of consultants who, Clockwork Orange style, reprogram the racism out of workers.

It seems to be one of Dr Soutphommasane’s most deeply held beliefs. In 2014, he blamed unconscious bias for the “bamboo ceiling”, recounting a traumatic incident in which a friend asked whether he worked “in the finance or IT section”.

“My new friend’s faux-pas was not that he had made certain assumptions about me,” he wrote. “His mistake was that he had revealed some assumptions that might have been better kept to himself.”

Unfortunately, the scientific basis of the IAT — and so the entire concept of unconscious bias and the associated obsession with mandatory quotas — has effectively collapsed.

Even the creators of the IAT, Harvard social psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji, have distanced themselves from its current usage, admitting that it does not predict “biased behaviour”.

In 2015, they wrote that the problems with the test make it “problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination”. As The Wall Street Journal put it last year, “the politics of the IAT had leapfrogged the science behind it”.

And yet people like Dr Soutphommasane soldier on undeterred, even in the face of mounting evidence. It was Dr Soutphommasane, for example, who hailed the Victorian government’s “blind recruiting” trial in 2016, in which applicants’ resumes are de-identified of name, gender, age and location.

But hilariously, a study last year by the behavioural economics team in the Prime Minister’s department, known as the “nudge unit”, actually found blind recruiting has the opposite intended effect.

According to the study, led by Harvard professor Michael Hiscox, Australian Public Service recruiters “generally discriminated in favour of female and minority candidates”.

“We anticipated this would have a positive impact on diversity — making it more likely that female candidates and those from ethnic minorities are selected for the shortlist,” he told the ABC. “We should hit pause and be very cautious about introducing this as a way of improving diversity, as it can have the opposite effect.”

There may be many reasons for the lack of one-to-one population representation at the very highest levels of business and politics — but for the Race Discrimination Commissioner, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

For someone who is paid $340,000 a year to come up with this dross, it’s not surprising the concept of meritocracy is a foreign one. Or is that being racist?


Big public sector bloat under Queensland Labor government

The previous conservative government under Campbell Newman axed 14,000 bureaucrats.  The Labor government has more than reversed that

The Queensland government is defending the state's ballooning public service after hiring more than 17,000 bureaucrats since coming into office in 2015.

Queensland's opposition leader has attacked the size of the state's public sector under Labor, but refused to say how she would address the problem if she was in office.

Figures released by Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk's government on Thursday show the public workforce has swelled to its biggest size ever.

There are now 218,957 bureaucrats and frontline services employees, almost the population of Townsville, up from 201,409 in March 2015.

The Liberal National Party opposition has previously criticised the state government for adding more people to its payroll, and it went on the attack again on Thursday.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said the Campbell Newman government had proven health and other services could run better with less staff.

She went so far as to say those services significantly improved after it sacked 14,000 people, a decision which contributed to the party's 2015 electoral loss.

"When the LNP was in government we saw those service delivery areas increase and improve, we saw wait times disappear or reduce," she said.

But Ms Frecklington refused to detail how an LNP government would address what she described as inefficiencies.

"There would be no forced redundancies under an LNP government," she said.

"We would expect our ministers to drive extra services, we would expect, exactly like we did, better services."

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she wasn't surprised by the party's stance on the Newman-era cuts. "We know at the 2012 election they promised public servants they had nothing to fear from a Campbell Newman government and then they went and sacked 14,000 of them," she said.

"We hear (the LNP) talk about reducing the wait list for public housing, well it was shortened by the LNP government because they just removed people from the list."

Ms Trad called on the opposition to be honest about its economic plan for Queensland. She also defended the government's recruitment, saying frontline services had increased in line with population growth.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland spokesman Dan Petrie said the current rate of public service growth was unsustainable.

"It's a medium-term problem so therefore if it's not addressed now it is something they would have to address within the term of parliament," he said.

The December quarter figures released by the Public Sector Commission shows a 0.22 per cent decline in the number of workers compared to the three months prior.

Law and order had the most growth, with additional staffers brought on as part of the rollout of Domestic and Family Violence Courts, the reintroduction of the Drug Court and the transfer of 17-year-olds into the youth justice system.


Restrictions on privatised ports adding to Sydney's gridlock: Deloitte report

A Deloitte report has found port restrictions are hampering efficient trade in NSW, and greater competition from a new container terminal in Newcastle would boost the state economy.

Hundreds of thousands of trucks could be shifted from Sydney’s roads by a new container terminal at Newcastle, but secret restrictions introduced during the privatisation of NSW ports are preventing its development.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is now investigating the restrictions, which were introduced when Port Botany and the Port of Newcastle were being privatised.

This raises the possibility of the federal government’s competition watchdog taking action over the arrangements imposed during the privatisation process.

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics has found a new container terminal at the Port of Newcastle would immediately slash the number of shipping containers transported through Sydney’s transport networks by half a million, rising to 1.1 million by mid-century.

The operator of Newcastle’s port wants to build a container terminal but claims that a new facility is not viable because of constraints imposed at the time of privatisation.

Roy Green, the chair of the Port of Newcastle, said the efficiency of our port system "is being compromised by the restrictive arrangements that the government set up at the time of privatisation".

Deloitte's analysis, which was commissioned by the Port of Newcastle, draws attention to the impact of tolls on the movement of containers to and from Port Botany. It will cost $60-$80 in tolls to move a container west of Port Botany in future, the report estimates.

Mr Green said the business model for the WestConnex motorway was “thoroughly tied up” with restrictions favouring Port Botany.

In 2016 The Newcastle Herald revealed a secret NSW government agreement to compensate the operator of Port Botany and Port Kembla for loss of trade to a competing container terminal in Newcastle. Under the "strictly confidential" arrangement, Newcastle would have to make "cross payments" of about $100 per container unit (about $1 million per vessel) it handled above a threshold of 30,000 a year.

When asked about the restictions, a NSW Treasury spokesman said no "cross payments" are triggered until a threshold container throughput is reached and the number of containers moving through the port of Newcastle was now less than one third of the threshold.

Port Botany now handles about 2.4 million containers a year and that is forecast to rise to 5 million by 2040.  Deloitte estimates more than 90 per cent of container movements within the metropolitan area are by road.

In 2013, Port Botany and Port Kembla were leased for 99 years for $5.07 billion. A similar lease was awarded for the Port of Newcastle in 2014 for $1.75 billion.

A spokesman for NSW Treasury told the Herald that "the port transaction arrangements do not prohibit the development of a container terminal and allows for the organic growth of container traffic through Newcastle".

But Mr Green described that response as "disingenous" because the restrictions meant a viable container terminal in Newcastle was not possible.

The ACCC has written to a number of organisations “to seek information relating to the viability” of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle. The letter says the commission has “concerns about arrangements that may limit or prevent the development of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle”.

Those contacted by the ACCC now include NSW Ports, the private operator of Port Botany and Port Kembla. NSW Ports chief executive Marika Calfas told Fairfax Media: “We were contacted earlier this week by the ACCC and will be sharing our expertise and knowledge about container port and supply chain logistics and efficiencies with them.”

The Deloitte report said port restrictions were hampering efficient trade in NSW and greater competition from a new container terminal in Newcastle would also improve port productivity by 2.5 per cent boosting the state economy.

“NSW relies on ports for almost all of our international trade, and so a lack of competition both reduces port efficiency and increases landside transport costs,” it said.

The Deloitte study found a quarter of the state’s imports and 38 per cent of exports now moving through Port Botany are destined for or originate from parts of the state that are closer to the Port of Newcastle.

“And yet these are all being funnelled into crowded Sydney roads and co-mingled with passenger rail for shipping through Port Botany,” said Mr Green.

Mr Green, a former dean of the University of Technology, Sydney business school, said the $60-$80 in tolls trucks will pay to move containers from Port Botany in future was a “non-tariff barrier on exports” from NSW.

The NSW Treasury spokeman said about 85 per cent of containers travel within a 40-kilometre radius of Port Botany and that "considerable future growth in demand for products delivered by containers is predicted to occur in the south-west region of Sydney", which is closer to both Botany and Port Kembla than Newcastle.

Tresurer Dominic Perrottet said the revenue generated from the long-term lease of NSW ports has "helped the government fund its $80.1 billion infrastructure strategy across the state".

Opposition Leader Luke Foley has welcomed the ACCC inquiry.


New use for Australia's abundant brown coal

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled a $50 million pilot project to convert Victoria's brown coal into hydrogen for export to Japan.

Australian Associated PressAPRIL 12, 201812:14PM
Victoria's brown coal will be converted into hydrogen and exported to Japan, under a major project unveiled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Commonwealth will pledge $50 million towards the hydrogen energy supply chain pilot in Victoria's La Trobe Valley, Mr Turnbull said during a visit to the region on Thursday.

The multi-billion dollar project will produce liquefied hydrogen from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley for export to Japan.

Construction is expected to start from 2019, with the Victorian government also pledging $50 million.

"It is amazing to think that brown coal here in Victoria will be keeping the lights on in Japan," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

"Our strategic support for this fuel of the future, hydrogen, opens up new possibilities for innovation and energy.

"It will see brown coal from here in the Latrobe Valley converted to hydrogen, liquefied, and then exported to Japan."

The project will create 400 local jobs for Latrobe Valley workers.

Mr Turnbull said it is in line with government efforts to invest in energy sources of the future and meet emission reduction commitments.

"We are focused on creating the investment environment to drive projects like this one to create new industries and more jobs," he said.

"It is the technological brilliance, the investment confidence, the optimism of Australians and Japanese working together that will ensure there is a very ancient resource brown coal produces one of the critically important fuels of the future."


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

12 April, 2018

Greens trying to disgorge far-Leftist

In a classical example of entryism, long-term Trotsky-ite Rhiannon, who could get nowhere on her own, decided she was a Greenie and got into parliament under their banner.  The Greenies have been trying to dislodge her for some time now, as her priorities are clearly far-Leftist rather than Green -- far enough Leftist to alienate some Green voters. IMHO she is just a poisonous old bag, though she is undoubtedly clever in pursuing her own advantage

NSW Greens senator Lee Rhiannon is facing an internal push to vacate her seat before the next election, to clear the path for her successor Mehreen Faruqi.

In a campaign designed to force her from office, NSW Greens members have circulated a memo to the party’s membership titled “thanking Senator Lee Rhiannon”, which calls on her to hand over the reins.

The proposal, co-sponsored by five NSW Greens branches, requested Senator Rhiannon to “work with the standing campaign committee and Mehreen Faruqi on a transition plan to maximise the Greens chances of winning a seat at the next federal election”.

The demand represents a further deterioration in relations between the NSW Greens' warring factions, and is timed to coincide with the party’s preselections for the NSW upper house, which are expected to see a showdown between the party’s radical left faction and its moderate flank.

The proposal was circulated to the party’s 4000-strong membership via the party’s internal website last week. Senator Rhiannon did not respond to the Herald’s request for comment.

However, in comments posted to the party's internal forum, which have been obtained by the Herald, she slammed the proposal for exacerbating disunity in the party and called for it to be withdrawn.

"I am concerned and offended by this proposal and the actions associated with it," Senator Rhiannon wrote in response. "I am committed to Mehreen being elected to the Senate, despite insinuations to the contrary."

Dr Faruqi, who is a member of the NSW Legislative Council, defeated Senator Rhiannon in a preselection battle for the party’s top Senate ticket spot in November, in a significant blow to the radical left faction, known as Left Renewal or the eastern bloc.

Five months on, it is understood Senator Rhiannon is yet to inform Dr Faruqi of her intended departure date. Dr Faruqi declined to comment on the proposal when approached by the Herald.

But in a response posted on the party's internal website, Dr Faruqi said it would be "really useful for the party to have a timeline for transition".

"There is no question incumbency does provide an advantage in terms of visibility and profile, in addition to the resources individual senators can use for their own re-election."

The proposal claimed the party would be out of pocket by as much as $300,000 if Dr Faruqi was denied the benefit of incumbency – which would give her access to an office budget and four staff members – and argued this would have a "flow-on effect" to the party’s NSW election budget.

The proposal cited several party precedents of Greens MPs resigning to allow lead candidates to contest elections as sitting members, including former party leader Bob Brown, who resigned to make way for Peter Wish-Wilson in 2013. Christine Milne also departed the Senate early to allow Nick McKim to assume the seat.

In her comments to the party’s online forum, Senator Rhiannon indicated she would not discuss the issue until after the party had concluded its upper house preselections, including the appointment of Dr Faruqi’s replacement. Voting will begin next week, with results due by early May.

Dr Faruqi plans to remain in the NSW Parliament until she can move to the Senate, meaning both she and her replacement will have to wait for Senator Rhiannon’s resignation before they can assume their seats.

The preselections are expected to be a litmus test for the hard left faction. Their lead candidate, David Shoebridge, is expected to face a tough battle against moderate Jeremy Buckingham, which could see him relegated to the precarious third spot on the party’s NSW upper house ticket.

The fight for Dr Faruqi’s state seat has already been marked by a bitter preselection dispute, which escalated to the NSW Supreme Court.

Cate Faehrmann, the recently departed chief of staff to Greens leader Richard Di Natale, was forced to seek a court order confirming her validity to nominate for preselection after the party’s bureaucracy attempted to block her candidacy on the grounds her membership was “provisional”.


Australia is a big energy exporter -- coal and natural gas

Australia’s resource and energy export earnings are forecast to reach a record $230 billion in 2017-18, driven by higher iron ore and coal prices and rapidly growing LNG export volumes.

However, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science expects export earnings to decline slightly from current levels, before levelling out at about $212 billion to $216 billion a year from 2019-20 onwards.

Department chief economist Mark Cully said this compared with average annual export earnings of $72 billion in the decade before the onset of the resources boom, validating the long-held view than the mining boom would continue to reap dividends long after the price peak in 2011.

Mr Cully said, in the Resources and Energy Quarterly report released today, over the next few years, the prices of iron ore and metallurgical coal would be weighed down by increasing supply and declining steel production in China.

However, according to the report, the price of Australian LNG, set by the oil price, is expected to increase modesty, constrained by price-sensitive shale oil production in the US, and sluggish growth in world oil consumption.

The ramp up in export volumes, driven by the mining investment boom, is expected to have run its course by the turn of the decade.

“The last of Australia’s LNG projects is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, while growth in iron ore export volumes will slow from 2018-19,” Mr Cully said.

“The story is similar for other key resource and energy export commodities, including coal, gold and several base metals.

“In this sense, 2020 will mark the end of the remarkable growth phase of the Australian resources and energy sector.”


One in two Australians highlight an issue with their phone or internet service

Nearly 10 million Australians have experienced a problem with their phone or internet service, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman will announce at the Comms Day Summit today (16.00 pm, 9 April 2018).

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman introduced a comprehensive survey for the first time in 2018 and  surveyed almost 3000 people from across Australia’s residential consumers and small businesses.

In her speech to the conference, Jones will also note 20 per cent of residential consumers had more than one phone or internet issue over the last year, and one in four issues were not resolved after four months.  For small businesses the picture is more problematic, with almost 60  per cent identifying  a phone or internet issue affecting their business.

Ombudsman Judi Jones said: "Today's results show us that everyone with responsibility for planning and delivering telecommunications service has to make things better. Phone and the internet services are essential services, making a vital difference to families, within communities and to business.

"We all have to be proactive and accessible in managing the  issues. We have to listen to residential  consumers and small businesses, understand the impact of problems, and offer quick, supportive solutions.”

Media release All media enquiries or interview opportunities to Sarah Carnoavale 0437 548 540

Why Australia imports so many veggie seeds (and do we really need to treat them with fungicides?)

Organic farmers have reacted with alarm to a draft review released last week that recommends mandatory fungicide treatment for certain plant seeds imported into Australia, including broccoli, cauliflower, radish and spinach.

Over 19,000 people have signed a petition objecting to the proposal, which is designed to strengthen biosecurity for plants of the brassicaceae [cabbages, cauliflowers, turnips etc] family. Opponents say mandatory fungicide treatment could spell the loss of organic accreditation for organic vegetable growers who rely on imported seed.

Australia’s vegetable growers do rely heavily on imported seed. But why?

The answer lies partly in where plant breeding expertise and effort is centred globally. Continuous (and often long-term) efforts in breeding have lead to the development of plant varieties with benefits like improved yield or quality, tolerance to stress and resistance to disease. These varieties have major advantages for growers (provided they are suitable for Australian conditions).

The global vegetable seed market is dominated by a small number of multinational companies. These international companies produce seeds in multiple locations around the world to reduce the risk of running low on popular varieties, and to benefit from the counter seasons of the northern and southern hemispheres.

However, seed grading, testing and treatment (including fungicide coating) is generally centrally coordinated at the company’s key global facility. These facilities are typically in close proximity to major vegetable growing regions, and thus outside Australia.

There are several companies distributing or producing vegetable seed in Australia, however most are owned by foreign parent companies and the breeding is done by them off-shore. In this case, subsidiary groups in Australia import the seed from the parent company, grow a crop for seed, and then may sell locally or return the seed to the parent company for quality control and global sale and distribution.

If seed were grown in Australia only for a domestic market, it would be a very small market without the benefits of an economy of scale. However, there are other benefits of breeding and growing crops for vegetable seed in Australia, including the scope to prioritise breeding efforts in response to local need. University of Sydney-based company Abundant Produce is addressing this gap for some vegetable crops, but not any brassicas as yet.

Can we protect biosecurity and organic farmers at the same time?
To address the dilemma faced by organic brassica growers who rely on imported seed, can the risk of diseases entering Australia be managed in organically acceptable ways?

In their draft review of the risk analysis for import of brassica seeds, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources do clearly state that alternative measures will be considered if the “appropriate level of protection” can be achieved.

These alternatives may include importing seed from areas or production sites that are designated as free of the two pathogens of concern. A further alternative is seeds that have been grown using at least two independent and verified disease control measures (either pre- or post-harvest) as part of a “systems approach” to manage pest risk.

Non-fungicide seed treatments could also be considered. Heat, applied via steam, water or air, electrolysed water, or pulsed electric fields could be used, if they achieve the appropriate level of protection and seed viability is maintained. Organically-approved seed coatings and other treatments may also be an option.


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

11 April, 2018

Barber is taken to the Australian Human Rights Commission - for 'politely refusing to cut a young girl's hair because he didn't have the skills or experience'

A barber is being taken to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission after declining to cut a young girl's hair.

Sam Rahim, who runs the Hunters Hill Barber Shop in Sydney's North Shore, told 9 News he was devastated by the summons.

He said that in December last year a women came into the barber shop and asked him if he could cut her daughter's hair, to which he 'politely refused'.

Mr Rahim is not trained to cut girls' hair and has no experience in doing so.

'But she kept pressing me, saying I should just do it. I told her there are three women’s hair salons within a minute’s walk but she became angry and stormed out,' he said.

Mr Rahim is now being accused of breaching anti-discrimination laws and was told he had embarrassed the women's daughter.

'She might have been more embarrassed walking to school if I’d butchered her hair,' he said.

He explained that the skills of a barber are no compatible with cutting a young girls hair and reiterated that by its very definition, a barber shop was 'a place where men get their hair cut'. 

Mr Sahim can take some solace in knowing that the Australian Hairdressing Council understood his stance.

Sandy Chong, from the Australian Hairdressing Council, said there are clear differences in the skills required to cut men's and women's hair.

She said Mr Rahim was likely more experienced than many of the barber teachers.

Until two years ago barbering had no set qualifications Mrs Chong said.

'I understand why he wouldn’t be comfortable cutting women’s hair,' she said.

The case is due to appear before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in the coming weeks.

Understandably Mr Rahim is worried about how this will impact it will have on his livelihood, especially with young family to support.


Peter Dutton tabled slashing immigration by 20,000 last YEAR - but was shut down by Malcolm Turnbull and other senior party members

A plan to cut Australia's immigration by 20,000 was scuttled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull despite likely public support.

Peter Dutton proposed reducing the cap on annual permanent immigration from its record 190,000 to 170,000 to cabinet last year.

The Immigration Minister was spurred on by widespread concern about the effects of mass new arrivals on house prices, jobs, crime, and Australian culture.

Mr Dutton had the support of then-Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce but Mr Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison opposed it, according to The Australian.

The proposal was well short of the 110,000 limit former PM Tony Abbott suggested at a speech to the Sydney Institute in February.

'It's a basic law of economics that increasing the supply of labour depresses wages, and that increasing demand for housing boosts price,' he said.

Dramatically slashing immigration also has in-principle support from The Greens, who seek to stabilise Australia's population growth.

'The notion that we need a big Australia based on economic drivers is not one we support,' Greens leader Richard Di Natale told the National Press Club last week.

'Often this is an argument that is run by the business community.'

The proposal was well short of the 110,000 limit former PM Tony Abbott suggested, and Green leader Richard Di Natale told the National Press Club he also wanted less immigration

However, he refused to explicitly support Mr Abbott's proposal as he accused the backbencher of playing politics not trying to help the environment. 'I don't buy into the debate that Tony Abbott is trying to run at the moment,' he said.

'He is not having a debate about population, he is having a debate about the leadership of the Liberal Party. It is not a sophisticated debate about immigration.'

Millionaire businessman Dick Smith, a frequent proponent of lower population, wants Australia's net annual immigration rate to return to the 20th century average of 70,000 a year.

This position is shared by Pauline Hanson's One Nation, making the various proponents of immigration reduction very strange bedfellows.

Smith launched a controversial advertising campaign last year, warning unchecked population growth would lead to famine, disaster and war.

'Our growth-addicted economic system will see our children living in a world of eleven billion people, consuming and polluting more than our finite planet can withstand,' the ad said.

Mr Smith later said Australia could support 1 billion people but the cost would be living in 'huge skyscrapers' and living like 'battery hens'.

Though he was frustrated by his policy being squashed, Mr Dutton played down speculation he could challenge Mr Turnbull for the leadership.


Aboriginal singer trolled on Instagram and called a 'TERRORIST' - for appearing at a Eurovision promotion in the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv

Muslim hate never lets up

Indigenous popstar Jessica Mauboy has been trolled by anti-Israel activists on her Instagram page after announcing she will be performing in Tel Aviv.

The 28-year-old Darwin-raised singer copped a barrage of abuse on social media when she told fans she had just touched down in Israel for a Eurovision promotion.

The abuse was vile, with a Muslim man accusing her of being a 'f***ing terrorist supporter' following the shooting last week of a Palestinian cameraman by Israeli troops on the Gaza border.

Another critic targeted Mauboy over her indigenous heritage on her mother's side, accusing her of ignoring the plight of Palestinians.

'Have you forgotten the treatment of your ancestors? Because that is what you are promoting right there,' one woman wrote on Sunday night.

Mauboy, who first shot to fame as the 2006 Australian Idol runner-up, is representing Australia next month at the Eurovision Song Contest in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon with her song We Got Love.

Ahead of her second turn as Australia's Eurovision flag bearer, she will be performing at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Tuesday as part of 'Israel Calling', an annual event where Eurovision contestants gather in Israel for a promotional campaign.

Several critics said she should have followed the lead of New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, who last year cancelled a concert in Israel following a campaign by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists.

However, Mauboy's supporters urged her to 'ignore the anti-Israelis' who had been 'brainwashed' by pro-Palestinian activists. 

Anti-Israel activists have ramped up their campaigning after Israeli snipers last week gunned down protesters at the Gaza border, killing Yaser Murtaja, 30, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the journalist wearing a press vest, who died on Saturday, had been flying a drone.

'Anyone who operates drones over Israeli soldiers needs to understand he's putting himself at risk,' he told a forum in Israel covered by the Haaretz newspaper.   


RACQ slams emergency slow down laws

Queensland's peak motoring body says laws requiring drivers to slow down when passing an emergency vehicle with flashing lights are confusing and won't protect roadside workers.

RACQ spokesman Paul Turner on Tuesday urged the state government to drop the legislation, which has already been implemented in other states and will be trialled in NSW from September.

Mr Turner says the proposed legislation, which has the support of the Queensland Police Union, focused too much on speed and not enough on safety.

"The New South Wales Government's heart is in the right place, but it has got it wrong," Mr Turner said.

"The key focus has to be on getting drivers to move over when they see an incident, creating a safer space."

NSW drivers will slow to 40 km/h in 70 km/h zones when passing stationary emergency vehicles with flashing lights, and travel at 60 km/h when driving in a 100 km/h zone during the year-long trial.

"While how fast a car is travelling is important, it's about us as motorists taking care and consideration and moving out of the lane closest to an incident and then slowing down," Mr Turner said.

On Monday the Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the law had merit and should be trialled in the Sunshine State.

"We need to remember that the road is often a police officer's workplace and anything we can do to make our workplace safer should be investigated," Mr Leavers told AAP.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey on Monday said the state preferred to educate rather than regulate and there were concerns about heavy vehicles being able to safely slow down in 100km/h zones.

"At this time advice from the Department of Transport and Main Roads is to support a non-regulatory educational approach, rather than a reduced speed limit approach," he said.


Israel Folau and the right to speak freely

Who knew that Rugby Australia was a religious organisation with doctrine, dogma and decrees about the existence of hell? Folau was brought up as a Mormon.  He is of Tongan origin and the Mormons are strong on Tonga.  Mormons are very family-oriented so are traditionally hostile to homosexuality

Just days after the biggest sporting scandal in decades consumed Australian cricket’s biggest names, Steve Smith and David Warner, another sport’s marquee player created a firestorm of his own.

In response to an Instagram question last Tuesday in which he was asked what he thought was “God’s plan for gay people”, Israel Folau, Australian rugby’s highest- paid player and a devout Christian, was unequivocal: “HELL. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”

What has followed has been a fevered week of urgent backroom meetings involving Folau, Rugby Australia and the sport’s two biggest sponsors, Qantas and ASICS.

Alan Jones writes: Folau is entitled to his opinion on gay people. The code has bigger concerns than keeping him silent

It was the worst possible moment for the story to break. Both sponsors had just endured a public relations “hell” of their own because of their Cricket Australia sponsorships and, in the case of ASICS, personal partnerships with two of the three disgraced cricketers, Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

It is understood both companies moved quickly to express their unhappiness about Folau’s comments directly to rugby’s most senior executives. What followed was a crisis management strategy by Rugby Australia and the sponsors that was straight out of the cricket scandal playbook, as they all tried to shield their brands from Folau’s views.

Rugby Australia stated: ‘‘Folau’s personal beliefs do not reflect the views of Rugby Australia … Rugby supports all forms of inclusion, whether it’s sexuality, race, or gender, which is set out in our Inclusion Policy (2014).”

Qantas said simply: “We’ve made it clear to Rugby Australia that we find the comments very disappointing.”

It is understood Qantas has told Rugby Australia that continued social media comments by Folau or any other players along these lines would cause it to re-evaluate its support of the sport.

But beyond the predictable backpedalling from Folau’s comments by the immediate stakeholders, opinions are much more divided in the broader community about whether Folau should be allowed to express such views.

Even the generally socially progressive readership of The Sydney Morning Herald showed some sympathy in yesterday’s letters section, which was headlined: “Folau has every right to express his opinions”. Several letters actively defended his right to express his beliefs.

Former human rights commissioner and federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson told The Australian he believes companies and individuals lashing out at Folau should “take a chill pill”.

“Respecting diversity includes diversity of opinion, including on questions of morality,” Wilson says. “Targeting Folau falsely feeds a mindset that he is persecuted for his opinions. Everyone needs to take a chill pill, respect Folau’s authority on the rugby field, and also recognise that he is employed in a profession that values brawn over brains.”

Wilson, one of the Liberal Party’s most vocal advocates in favour of same-sex marriage during the recent national debate, has also taken aim at the hand-wringing in the sponsorship arena over Folau’s comments.

“It is ridiculous for sponsors to walk away from Rugby Australia because of Folau’s opinions,” he says. “Companies have the freedom to sponsor organisations that share their values, but it would be absurd to make a collective sponsorship decision based on an individual player who isn’t hired based on his opinions. If Qantas and other sponsors punish Rugby Australia they’d be saying Australians can’t associate with them if they have religious or moral views.”

A source at one Australian rugby sponsor said it was unfair to judge sponsors simply for being cautious about brand damage from comments like those of Folau. “When you’re investing to have your brand associated with a team, and the values don’t line up repeatedly, then it begs the question: is it worth it?”

The source said that the problem was even more marked for Rugby Australia, which has had its own well-chronicled battles to attract sponsors in recent years amid the patchy performances of the Wallabies.

“The problem is really Rugby Australia’s,” the source said. “Comments like Folau’s are not aligned with their values when they’re trying to attract sponsors.”

Crisis management specialist Greg Baxter, partner of Newgate Australia, understands the point of view of Rugby Australia and the sponsors to some degree.

“I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say he can’t have an opinion, but it’s not the sort of attitude that modern rugby wants,” he says.

“Rugby is saying: ‘We’re all about inclusivity, and we want all sorts of people playing our game.’ There’s no question his views are at odds with that.

“It’s no different from any employee having to exercise care in using social media platforms. In this instance, he needed to think more carefully about how offensive his statement was: not just to people in rugby, but the consequences to a major sponsor.”

Baxter believes players need to become much more aware of the impact of their comments.

“You have to be highly sensitised to the fact your comments can be interpreted a certain way, not only on behalf of yourself but a sporting code or a political party,” he says. “It’s easy to say it’s a handbrake on free speech — I don’t personally think it is — but they have to understand there will be consequences if they upset people. To me, it’s common sense.

“In the absence of common sense, sporting codes will have to think of social media policies and training that goes with that for people. The higher your profile, the more sensitive you have to be. If you have a public profile, your so-called private capacity is diminished. The audience doesn’t differentiate between public profile and private comments.”

However, Sharon Williams, chief executive of prominent social media consultancy Taurus Marketing, believes companies need to avoid becoming hyper-sensitive to the views of individual athletes in the social media age.

She argues that corporates are “overplaying their hand”. “I think there is sometimes a juvenile approach by corporates and organisations to understanding the limitations of how much they can impose on the players,” she says.

“Everyone gets hung up about social media. But nothing has changed in how the world should operate if you have a commercial relationship that needs to be honoured with mutual integrity and respect.

“If you’ve got a commercial relationship with an organisation, you respect your differences and your likenesses. You have to be aware of people’s beliefs. If the sponsors don’t want players to put some of their beliefs on social media, they need to make sure they cover that off in their sponsorship agreements.”

On the flip side, she believes that the prevailing environment where there is an abundance of caution among corporates about causing offence requires athletes to be given more formal coaching.

“I have no doubt that Israel Folau is sincere in his religious beliefs,” she says. “Maybe there can be more education and mentoring of athletes on the consequences and implications of their actions on social media. ‘‘We’re in an environment where political correctness is going mad, and the athletes need to be aware of that on social media.”

Williams contrasts Folau’s post with Stephanie Rice’s infamous homophobic 2010 tweet “Suck on that faggots”, which also had a rugby union connection, after the Wallabies beat South Africa in a Test she was watching. Rice ended up losing personal sponsorships based on the tweet.

“Folau was answering a direct question, based on his religious beliefs, but Rice was deemed to be derogatory,” she says.

Folau’s comments have emerged at a time when protections for religious freedoms are being examined by a panel headed up by former federal immigration minister Philip Ruddock, in the wake of last year’s same-sex marriage plebiscite result.

There were suggestions at the time the process was set up by the government largely as a way of keeping conservative interests in the Coalition onside, amid their concerns about the effect legalising same-sex marriage could have on religious freedom.

Ruddock said yesterday there had been 16,500 submissions to the panel, which would commence “formal sessions” by the end of next week. “We’ve been embarking on the program to identify how we can effectively secure our international obligations on freedom of religion, with regard to broader human rights obligations.”

One key advocate of religious freedoms, in discussing Folau’s social media comments, cites the adage: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Peter Kurti, an Anglican priest who runs the religion and civil society program for the Centre for Independent Studies, says: “My own personal view is that Israel Folau is wrong. I don’t believe that being gay is incompatible with being Christian.”

Despite disagreeing with Folau’s view, Kurti says the vilification of him is “troubling”.

He is also concerned about the possibility of sponsor departures over the opinion. He believes major sponsors of rugby such as Qantas could turn the matter into a public relations win by showing tolerance on the matter.

“In a sense, if their response is heavy-handed, it ratchets the whole controversy up,” he says. “I’d like to see Qantas and Rugby Australia defuse the tension in this. If Qantas were to come back and say along the lines: ‘This is an individual’s point of view. We continue to support rugby in Australia’, it would defuse the situation.

“Tolerance means we tolerate views we don’t agree with, allowing people with whom we don’t agree to say things that may be offensive.

“We all know Qantas has a strong position on many social issues such as same-sex marriage. And it’s driven from the top by Alan Joyce. The worry is if they decide as a major sponsor they don’t like the points of view of any member of the organisation they are sponsoring.”

He believes that rather than shut Folau down, corporate organisations should simply “debate” him. “What he’s doing is embarking on a theological debate about what will happen to a certain section of community after death. What we have to do is debate him on those terms. But we don’t vilify him for holding a point of view.”

However, Baxter says the problem for Folau is that with an Instagram following of more than 338,000, he is a large-scale media outlet in his own right. “The higher the profile, the more the scrutiny,” he says.

“A comment is much less likely to be made in a private capacity and stay private — particularly if you’ve got hundreds of thousands of followers. The point at which you press the button to publish those comments on any platform, you make them public and you have to be answerable.”

Baxter argues there is a critical lack of awareness among sports stars and others about their reach through social media. “There’s a naivety among a lot of people. Some people can write whatever they want on these platforms behind a cloak of anonymity, and not face any consequences. But people like him, who earn a living from sponsorship and from having a public profile, need to understand that it carries with it more responsibility than another private citizen who has no public profile.”

Kurti, on the other hand, argues the Folau affair and the pressure for him to bite his tongue show that the balance is in danger of tipping in favour of censorship.

“It shows that we are forgetting just how important freedom of speech is in our society,” he says.

“We only want people to say the things we agree with. That seems to be the prevalent mood on social media. But in a society where freedom is truly valued, people have to be free to say things with which we don’t agree.”


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

10 April, 2018

Australian government lobbies company board to force coal-fired power plant to continue operating

The company thinks it can make more profits by converting the plant to subsidized renewables.  They are probably waiting for a subsidy for coal generation  to change their minds

The energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, has all but confirmed he had personally lobbied board members of AGL Energy in an effort to force a sale of the ageing Liddell power plant.

Sources have told Guardian Australia Frydenberg has been calling individual board members in an effort to crash through management opposition to offloading the coal-fired facility in New South Wales to a competitor, the Hong Kong-owned Alinta Energy, which is looking to expand its market share.

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, contacted the chairman of the company last Tuesday.

When it was put to Frydenberg on Sunday that he was also involved in the highly unusual practice of speaking personally to board members, the energy minister said: “Well, we’ve made it very clear that it’s in the interests of the company to consider this offer.”

Last week the AGL chief executive, Andy Vesey, insisted the company would proceed with plans to transform the Liddell site into a renewables hub, saying it will bring cheaper, greener and more reliable energy, while providing quality, long-term jobs for decades.

The government has for months been trying to persuade AGL to sweat the Liddell asset for longer and keep the plant operating beyond its scheduled closure in 2022.

While both the competition watchdog and the Australian Energy Market Operator have argued that more competition in the NSW energy market would be beneficial to consumers, the federal government has no power to force AGL to do anything with the asset it acquired from the state government in 2014.

So the government is subjecting the company to an extraordinary campaign of public pressure and private intervention in an effort to force its hand.

Former deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce last week accused AGL of “shorting” the market by hanging on to Liddell rather than selling it to a competitor prepared to extend its operating life – a charge the company rejects.

The public pressure on the company has perturbed institutional investors. The Investor Group on Climate Change – a group that represents over 68 Australian and New Zealand institutional investors with more than $2tn in funds under management – wrote to Vesey last week validating the company’s approach.

“Many of IGCC’s members are direct investors in AGL and have engaged with AGL over many years on the significant challenges inherent in delivering capacity to market, managing price impacts for consumers and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with Australia’s commitments under the Paris agreement,” the IGCC chief executive, Emma Herd, said.

“Long-term planning, an early and unambiguous notification to the market of intention to close, strategic investment in the repurposing of infrastructure and the adoption of new technologies to deliver increased generation capacity is exactly the kind of business planning that investors want to see from companies managing climate change impacts for their business.

“IGCC notes that this is the approach that AGL has adopted in providing seven years’ notice to market of intention to close Liddell power station, while investing in alternative renewable energy generation, repurposing the existing infrastructure and continuing to play a role in the local community.

“A divergence away from this plan, particularly one that does not provide a long-term vision for future uses of the Liddell power station site, its infrastructure and its workforce, would be of considerable concern to investors due to the risks and uncertainty it would create.”


Australian homes can now access 'fibre-like' speeds from a new type of NBN connection

More than 1000 homes in Melbourne and Sydney were today connected to the first commercially available fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) NBN service.

FTTC is similar to fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) in that it uses copper wiring to connect households. But as the wire is laid from a telecoms pit rather than a powered node, the shorter distance to the home means it can potentially deliver much higher speeds.

The homes, in Coburg, North Melbourne, and Miranda, South Sydney, can soon access what device supplier NetComm Wireless calls “fibre-like” speeds.

In its current form, FTTC can deliver speeds of up to 100/40Mbps, but a new copper acceleration technology,, which NBN Co plans to launch in selected areas by the end of the year, has the potential offer higher speeds.

NetComm says the use of its reverse powered Distribution Point Unit (DPU) and Network Connection Device (NCD) technologies is a “world-first”.

The NCD is self-installed by the customer and combines a Gfast and VDSL modem as well as a reverse power feed to power the DPU from inside the premises and save on the cost of running a powerline to individual units.

NetComm says the NCD will support the upgrade path to gigabit speeds.

“It is the product of Australian innovation and ingenuity and the benefits to Australian households and businesses will be profound,” NetComm CEO Ken Sheridan said.

The new rollout has been installed instead of the widely criticised FTTN option, and NBN estimates up to a million homes will take up the option.

NBN’s chief customer officer (residential), Brad Whitcomb said the FTTC option demonstrated that “NBN Co is an adopter of new and innovative technologies to provide Australians with access to fast broadband”.

“As with the introduction of any new technology, we will continue to gain insights as we navigate the complexity of the build as well as potential issues which can arise when people connect to the network.”

Speeds are dependent on internet service providers. The NBN says FTTC offers a choice of wholesale speeds for ISPs to choose from and build a range of plans.


A tiny spark of realism: South Sudan, Somalia and Iran excluded from one of Australia's refugee programs

But other problem countries -- Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Syria and Iraq -- still OK

Humanitarian migrants from eight countries will be prioritised under one of Australia’s refugee resettlement programs, with other nationalities told their applications are highly unlikely to be accepted.

The Guardian understands the priority countries are: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Syria and Iraq. Nationals of several other specific countries that were previously considered for resettlement, such as South Sudan, Somalia and Iran, are now excluded and will not be able to access the program. The move has been condemned by some community leaders as “clear discrimination”.

The resettlement scheme, known as the Community Support Program, is one element of Australia’s broader humanitarian program, which, this year, offers up to 1,000 places, taken from within the broader program of 16,250 places.

It allows community groups, businesses, families or individuals to sponsor and support a refugee to come to Australia. But each privately sponsored place reduces by one the government’s resettlement commitment.

The program was previously the Community Proposal Pilot, started in 2013.

The department’s guidelines do not explicitly restrict nationalities but sponsoring organisations have told the Guardian they have been informed of an “unofficial list” of countries of origin from which people will be considered for resettlement under the CSP.

Officially, the department says, “applicants must reside in a priority resettlement country as determined by the Australian government”.

A spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs told the Guardian that settlement priorities for Australia’s humanitarian program, including the Community Support Program, are determined each year by the government.

“People in humanitarian situations from the Middle East, Africa and Asia continue to be a resettlement priority under Australia’s 2017-18 humanitarian program.”

Priority will also be given to refugees who will be settled in regional and rural areas, outside of capital cities.

The unofficial list of priority countries has been circulating among settlement services providers and pre-vetted sponsoring organisations, known as “approved proposing organisations”.


Australia's immigration rate should be cut in half, Leftist Bob Carr says

The former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr has called for Australia to cut its immigration rate in half, declaring that the country’s experiment of running the fastest rate of immigration in the world was an experiment that was failing.

Monday’s ABC Q&A program concentrated on just one issue: Australia’s immigration levels and the pressures on our cities. As well as Bob Carr, the panel included experts on housing, development, the environment and migration policy.

The audience included over a third of people drawn from the growth hotspots in Sydney, who gave voice to concerns about traffic congestion, overdevelopment and pressure on schools and services.

A faultline quickly developed among the panellists over whether it was a question of the level of immigration or the failure of governments to adequately plan and invest in the infrastructure needed to cope with the population.

As premier of New South Wales between 1995 and 2005, Carr famously declared that “Sydney was full”. At that stage the city’s population was approaching four million and his government was under pressure over transport and infrastructure.

But while Sydney was one of the great melting pots of the world, which Carr acknowledged – “37% of the population of Sydney was born overseas, we celebrate it” – he said even immigrants were asking whether Australia could achieve the same benefits from migration at a less dramatic pace.

“Do we really want to be adding a million to our population every three and a half years? Would it be such a departure from God’s eternal plan for this continent if we took six years about acquiring an extra million?” he asked.

Carr pointed to a poll – he did not say which one – which had shown that “74% of Australians think there is enough of us already”.

But John Daley from the Grattan Institute argued strongly that the concern in Australian cities was not about levels of migration per se, but its impacts, such as skyrocketing house prices and congestion. He argued that Singapore had achieved relatively low levels of congestion on its roads by imposing unpalatable taxes to prevent people driving from or into the city.

“Australia’s transport system is not that bad,” he said. There are plenty of roads, there are plenty of large roads, the issue is how much road space have we got relative to how many cars are trying to get around.”

Tim Flannery from the Climate Council highlighted Australia’s fragile environment. “We are a big country and Canada is a big country and Antarctica is a big continent as well – the habitability is the thing,” he said.

“It’s a big land but it is not a fertile land. We have to look at all of those factors as we grow. With the impacts of climate change, western Sydney will start feeling the heat because the heatwaves are getting longer, hotter and more frequent. The infrastructure we are building isn’t fit for purpose for that future. And I think we will struggle.”

Asked by a woman about the pressure on schools, Daley said planners had not envisaged that people with kids would live in the inner and middle rings of our cities. “I don’t think that people 15 years ago believed that there would be families. Now, things have changed. A lot more families are prepared to live there. And so we need to make sure that politicians get behind that and invest the money in schools.”

The Grattan Institute has forecast that Victoria needs 220 new schools in the next 10 years, with 213 for NSW and nearly 200 for Queensland.

Carr pointed to the often hypocritical nature of politicians and business figures who call for heightened levels of immigration in the interests of economic growth but who were insulated from its effects by living in suburbs like Point Piper – where Malcolm Turnbull has his home

”Barry O’Farrell [a Liberal NSW premier] declared he was a great supporter of a big Australia, he wanted more ambitious immigration and one of his first acts was to cancel plans for highrise in his electorate along the north shore rail line.”

Carr also asserted that migrants were pushing down wages. “We had the Reserve Bank tell us that wages are too low. There is not enough growth in wages. And the reason is, the reason is we’ve got extraordinarily high immigration as part of our economic system.”

But Daley and another panellist, Dr Jay Song, disputed this. Daley said the consensus among economists was that skilled migration tended to push wages up. Song said 60% were skilled migrants and Australian businesses needed them to address skills shortages.

But Daley conceded that migration did drive up house prices.

Jane Fitzgerald, from the NSW Property Council said the answer was to do the planning on jobs, transport and housing. She strongly agreed with the Reserve Bank paper that said the planning system had added more than $498,000 to the price of each house.

One questioner asked why we had not developed high-speed rail links to regional centres such as Newcastle and Wollongong to encourage decentralisation. Daley said despite 117 years of official policy to do that, the record was 117 years of failure.

“If we think we’re doing it because we are making Newcastle and Wollongong dormitory towns for Sydney, that is doable,” he said. But he added that it would be better to increase the density in the middle rings of Sydney.

Flannery said the issue was marshalling enough resources in regional centres, and that even agricultural resources were often too thin to attract business to regional Australian towns.

Several people pointed to the importance of universities in activating these towns. Daley said the problem was employers who congregated in big cities closer to other service industries.

One young woman raised the issue of global population growth, which is forecast to reach 9.4 billion people by 2075. She asked whether Australia had a moral obligation to accommodate some of them.

Daley agreed there was a moral imperative. “They probably will live much better lives if they come to Australia. That is not just because there are other options, it is because Australia has a whole series of existing high-quality institutions and by global standards is a genius for integrating migrants into our community.”

But Carr said our obligation to the world was best expressed by us managing “this vast and beautiful continent” sustainably.

The better path was to become “so prosperous that through our overseas development assistance program we can be regarded as the most generous of the world’s wealthy countries. And not least by running an aid program with a feature of family planning in it.”


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

9 April, 2018

Grandparents' education gives year 3 students huge boost

The Leftist morons below have just rediscovered IQ but don't know it.  IQ is a huge influence on educational success and is strongly inherited genetically.  So of course high achieving people will tend to have high achieving children and grandchildren.  The various "explanations" put forward below for the relationship are therefore supererogatory and pointless, though they may have some marginal explanatory power.

Most amusing is the apparent belief that schools can somehow make up for a disadvantageous ancestry.  Since there is not yet any known way to genetically engineer a high IQ, the expectation is not so much optimistic as plain stupid.  Leftism  is a terrible blight on the brain

A student's year 3 NAPLAN scores can be significantly impacted by their grandparents' level of education, with new evidence showing that educational disadvantage is multi-generational.

Having four family members with university degrees can place a student 1.4 years ahead of their peers who have no family members with high attainment by year 3.

The study, which looked at the NAPLAN numeracy and reading scores and family background of 5107 infants aged between three and 19 months and 4983 children aged between four and five in 2004 over a decade, found that "grandparent educational attainment is associated with grandchild test scores independent of parent education" where both grandparents have high attainment.

Lead author of the study, Kirsten Hancock, a senior research fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute, said the findings have implications for both schools and families.

"It has implications for the current generation of parents, knowing that what they're doing now not only affects their own children but also generations down the line," Ms Hancock said.

"Not everyone's going to go to university but valuing education and supporting their kids is really important."

Ms Hancock said the study also "helps to show what schools are dealing with".

"There is a wide range of backgrounds that kids come to school with and it's difficult for schools to overcome that," Ms Hancock said.

"Something like 20 per cent of a child's waking hours are spent at school each year, so what happens there has to be pretty good to offset all these other things."

The study found that grandparents can contribute to their grandchildren's education directly through financial or other support, or by promoting the value of education within the family and providing access to useful networks.

It also found that grandparents' ability to contribute differs by country, and that Australian grandparents have plenty of opportunities to provide a financial boost by helping with school fees and costs or supporting extracurricular activities.

"Enrolment in private education is also substantially higher in Australia than in other countries, with almost 40 per cent of students attending non-government schools compared with an OECD average of 15 per cent," the paper states.

"Grandparents may also help parents to secure housing in the catchment areas of desirable public schools, either by providing financial support, or by providing free childcare that enable parents to generate more income and have greater choice with respect to housing."

The advantage provided by well-educated grandparents and parents tends to be concentrated in some families, with people with high educational attainment likely to partner with people who have similar levels of attainment.

"Such a concentration of human capital may contribute further to educational inequalities in subsequent generations," the paper states.

Ms Hancock said: "We haven't had the data to prove this in Australia before now. "For children who come from these strong educational backgrounds, they're doing pretty well. But it's difficult for schools to overcome and they need significant resources."

The latest NAPLAN results show that students across all year levels are far more likely to achieve scores in the top bands for all five NAPLAN domains if one parent holds a bachelor degree or higher.

This was especially evident in the numeracy test where 33.4 per cent of year 3 students with parents who had a bachelor degree or higher achieved a band 6 or above, compared to 13.2 per cent of those with parents who had a diploma and 2.7 per cent of students whose parents only reached year 11.


So much for 'Welcome to Country!' How Aborigines are campaigning to stop tourists from visiting Australia's most spectacular mountains for 'cultural reasons'

Surely we should have a separation between church and state.  The government should not be legislating to restrict Christians with regard to what they believe and say nor should it be legislating to give force of law to the religious beliefs of Aborigines. The government should neither support nor restrict any religion.  Religion is not its province. Make Ayers rock open to all without restrictions!

Mount Warning is the first place in Australia to catch the morning sunlight and it could be the next Aboriginal sacred site where climbing is banned.

Aboriginal elders are pushing for more sacred sites across the country to be closed to climbers following the historic ban on scaling Uluru.

Mountains in several Australian states which are popular with bushwalkers and climbers may one day join the iconic rock on the banned list.

Mount Warning in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales is one such summit and St Mary Peak in South Australia's spectacular Flinders Ranges is another.

Indigenous people would also prefer Mount Yengo in the NSW Hunter Valley and parts of the Glass House Mountains in Queensland were not climbed.

There are no official moves yet to stop climbing those peaks but traditional owners have requested their beliefs be shown more respect and signs spelling out their wishes have been placed at some sites. 

Any further bans on popular climbing sites could have a serious impact on tourism operators and other small business owners.

Last year it was decided that climbing the 348m high Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, would be banned from October 2019.

Traditional owners had for decades asked tourists not to climb the monolith due to its cultural significance.

Calls to ban climbing at other sites have spread.

Mount Warning, near Murwillumbah, is known to the local indigenous Bundjalung people as Wollumbin and they have asked climbers not to walk up its 1,156m peak.

More than 100,000 walkers make the trek each year, many leaving rubbish such as toilet paper behind.

Tweed Shire Council's indigenous heritage officer Rob Appo recently told The Australian those who climbed Mount Warning were 'a little bit disrespectful' to indigenous creation stories.

'We'd prefer people not to climb it, particularly to the summit because that's where a lot of those stories focus on,' Mr Appo said.

The Bundjalung man said large numbers of people climbing the mountain also caused environmental damage to the area.

'People "toileting" and leaving rubbish is really a sign of disrespect to that important place,' Mr Appo told The Australian.

'It'd be similar to people going to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge and graffitiing. That would­n't be accepted there, so why should it be acceptable for such an important place here? The sheer number of people climbing is unsustainable.'

Tweed Shire Council told Daily Mail Australia Mr Appo would not be commenting further on the issue and that it was a matter for the local Aboriginal land council, along with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). 

Michael Simmons, whose Mount Warning Tours has never conducted summit walks, was confident climbing the peak would eventually be banned. 'I believe it's only a matter of time and it will be a situation very similar to Uluru,' Mr Simmons told Daily Mail Australia.

'But at the same time if that does happen it's important that alternative experiences are provided within the Tweed Valley.

'I think it's a matter of finding a way we can work with the indigenous people who have that connection to the valley and the mountain.

'It's our decision consciously to not take people up the mountain. At the same time I don't tell people that they shouldn't climb the mountain. For me, it's a personal decision.

'If people decide to go up the mountain in the right spirit, don't leave anything there and take some time to understand its significance, then that's entirely up to them.'

Fellow tour operator Tom Ihle of Byron Bay Adventure Tours, which conducts sunrise summit walks, told The Australian businesses would close if climbing was banned.

'It's beautiful, people should be able to see it… a ban is not the way to go,' Mr Ihle said.

The issue is extremely sensitive in communities which rely on tourism.

Last year another Mount Warning tourism operator told a local newspaper he was worried about the impact on tourism if the peak was closed to climbers. 'I would be very disappointed if they closed the mountain,' he said.

An Office of Environment and Heritage spokesman told the Northern Star there were no plans to stop visitors climbing Mount Warning.

He said: 'On-site signage advises visitors that Aboriginal people hold the summit to be sacred and they are asked to consider the Aboriginal people's wishes that they do not climb it.'

The NSW NPWS website states: 'Wollumbin is a place of great spiritual significance to the Bundjalung People. Visitors are asked to respect their wishes and choose not to climb the summit track.'

The Glass House Mountains in Queensland's Sunshine Coast region were also named by James Cook and are considered sacred by Aboriginal people.

Mount Beerwah, at 556m and Mount Tibrogargan, at 364m, are particularly significant.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service states on its website: 'The Glass House Mountains mean different things to different people.'

'They are an iconic South East Queensland landscape feature, a valuable remnant of our native plant communities, one of eastern Australia's premier rock climbing locations and a place of visitors to experience a challenging, but very rewarding, mountain climb within 30 minutes of the Sunshine Coast.

'But first and foremost, they are highly significant for local Traditional Owners, with a great deal of importance for the Jinibara people and Kabi Kabi people.

'We ask visitors to consider this carefully while they are here. For the Traditional Owners, these are not summits to be conquered but representations of their great cultural heritage and their place in this land.

'The Jinibara people and Kabi Kabi people request that visitors don't climb Mount Beerwah and Mount Tibrogargan out of respect for the mountains' sacred values.'

Much the same requests are made about St Mary Peak, the highest point of Wilpena Pound in South Australia's Flinders Ranges at 1,171m, to show respect for the Adnyamathanha people's beliefs.

Adnyamathanha elder Jimmy Neville told The Australian that St Mary Peak was central to his people's creation story and asked climbers not to ascend the summit.

'If people aren't going to listen to us, then yes, I'd personally ban it… I'd love to see that happen,' Mr Neville said. 'It's merely because of cultural reasons that we ask walkers not to go.'

Walking SA, the peak body that promotes walking in South Australia, describes the hike up St Mary Peak as providing 'rewarding panoramic views of the Flinders Ranges, Aroona Valley, and the salt plains to the west.'

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage describes Mount Yengo, in the NSW Hunter Valley, as a 'natural feature of spiritual and ceremonial importance to the Wonnarua, Awabakal, Worimi and Darkinjung Aboriginal groups.'

'Mount Yengo is the place from which Baiame (Baayami or Baayama), a creational ancestral hero, jumped back up to the spirit world after he had created all of the mountains, lakes, rivers and caves in the area,' it explains.

'Baiame flattened the top of Mount Yengo when he jumped skyward and the flat top is still visible today.

'Due to the sacredness of Mount Yengo, local Aboriginal people can only speak publicly of some of its cultural associations.

'Local Aboriginal communities have requested that people refrain from climbing to the top of Mount Yengo for cultural reasons.'


Why Palestinians Need an Israel Victory

By Daniel Pipes, who was recently in Australia

The moment is right for fresh thinking in order to dispatch the old and stale Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

With Arabs focused on other issues – the Iranian nuclear weapon build-up, civil wars in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, Turkey going rogue, the Islamist surge, and the water drought – hoary anti-Zionist taboos have lost much of their pungency. A prosperous and strong Israel has lost hope in decades' worth of "peace process." The cowboy in the White House likes breaking with precedent. And the global Left's turn toward antisemitism, exemplified by Jeremy Corbyn of the British Labour Party, adds further reason for urgency; when it eventually holds power, the implications for Israel will be dire.

Conventional wisdom holds that the Arab-Israeli conflict will end only when the Palestinians' grievances are sufficiently satisfied so that they accept the Jewish state of Israel. This paradigm has reigned almost unchallenged since the Oslo Accords of September 1993; yet, that 25-year period has also made clear that Palestinians in overwhelming numbers (I estimate 80 percent based on scholarship and polling data going back a century) seek not peaceful co-existence with Israel but the brutal elimination of the "Zionist entity." With such attitudes, it comes as no surprise that every round of much-hyped negotiations has eventually failed.

I shall propose an entirely different approach to resolve the conflict, a reversion to the strategy of deterrence and victory associated with Zionism's great strategist, Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940): Israel should aim not to please its enemies but to defeat them. Counterintuitively, I shall show why Palestinians need precisely such an Israel Victory to slough off their current oppression, extremism, and violence, and to become a successful people.

An understanding of today's situation requires going back to the aftermath of World War I and the emergence of Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the first modern Palestinian leader. He initiated a policy of rejectionism, of absolute refusal to accept any aspect of Jewish presence in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. A century later, that rejectionism remains the dominant strain of Palestinian life. Political differences tend to be tactical: Better to eliminate Israel by negotiating with the Israelis and winning benefits from them, or stick to the consistency of pure rejectionism? The Palestinian Authority (PA) deploys the first tactic, Hamas the second.

Over a 75-year period, 1918-93, the Jewish community in what is now Israel responded to rejectionism with deterrence, the policy of dissuading its enemies from aggression by threatening painful retaliation. However imperfectly applied, deterrence helped Israel evolve from the prospective prey of 1948 into the military powerhouse of 1993. Yes, even as Israel became a democratic, innovative, affluent, and mighty country, the basics stayed in place. Ideologies, tactics, strategies, and personnel changed, wars and treaties came and went, but Palestinian rejectionism stayed stagnantly constant.

By 1993, frustrated with the slow-moving and passive nature of deterrence, Israel's impatient citizenry opted for an immediate resolution with the Palestinians. In the Oslo Accords, each of the two parties promised the other what it most wanted: recognition and security for Israelis, dignity and autonomy for Palestinians.

In their haste to end the conflict, however, Israelis made three profound mistakes that summer morning on the White House lawn: (1) Granting Yasir Arafat, leader of an unofficial, dictatorial, and murderous organization, diplomatic parity with Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of a democratic and sovereign state. (2) Believing Arafat when he claimed to recognize Israel, when in fact he (and his successors) still sought Israel's elimination, now enhanced by his controlling two adjoining pieces of territory, the West Bank and Gaza. (3) Making concessions under the illusion that wars conclude through goodwill, when concessions actually had the contrary effect of signaling weakness and thereby amplified Palestinian hostility. These mistakes, tragically, turned a would-be "peace process" into a counterproductive "war process."

The study of history shows that wars typically conclude not through negotiations but through defeat and victory. According to the military historian Victor Hanson, "Conflicts throughout history become serial when an enemy is not utterly defeated and is not forced to submit to the political conditions of the victor." Defeat means giving up war ambitions. Victory means successfully imposing one's will on the enemy.

It's a simple, universal truth that Palestinians well understand. In July 2017, Fatahdeclared that the "campaign for Jerusalem has effectively begun and will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation." Nor are they alone; thinkers and warriors in all eras concur on victory as the goal of warfare. For example, the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu wrote "Let your great object be victory." U.S. general Douglas MacArthur stated that "It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it." Victory is an intuitive human goal that only overly-sophisticated moderns could lose sight of.

Therefore, to gain Palestinian acceptance, Israel must return to its old policy of deterrence, of punishing Palestinians severely when they aggress. One example: When three family members were murdered in July 2017 while sitting down to Sabbath dinnerin the Israeli West Bank town of Halamish, the Israeli response should have been to construct new buildings in Halamish and extend its boundaries.

That's deterrence; it's more than tough tactics, which Israeli governments already pursue; it means developing consistent policies to break rejectionism and encourage Palestinian acceptance of Israel. It implies a strategy to crush irredentist Palestinian ambitions so as finally to end the demonizing of Jews and Israel, recognize historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem, "normalize" relations with Israelis, close the suicide factories, and shutter the entire machinery of warfare. This process will be neither easy nor quick: it requires Palestinians to suffer the bitter crucible of defeat, with its attendant deprivation, destruction, and despair. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut.

A change of heart implies, not just a permanent absence of violence against Israelis but shutting down completely, everywhere from the United Nations to the university campus, the Palestinian-driven campaign of delegitimizing Israel.

If Palestinian defeat is good for Israel, it is ironically even better for Palestinians, who will finally be liberated from ugly ambitions, revolutionary rhetoric, and genocidal fantasies. An educated and skilled people can then improve its life by building its polity, economy, society, and culture. Think of this as a miniature version of post-1945 Germany. And if diplomacy is now premature, issues such as Jerusalem, borders, and resources can be fruitfully discussed after a Palestinian defeat. The two-state solution, an absurdity at present (it means asking Israel to strengthen its mortal enemy) will make good sense after a Palestinian defeat.

Like all outsiders to the conflict, Australians face a stark choice: either to endorse the Palestinian goal (explicit in the case of Hamas, implicit in that of the PA) of eliminating Israel or to support Israel's goal of winning its neighbors' acceptance. To state this choice makes clear there is no real choice – the first is aggressive, the second defensive; one is barbaric, the other civilized. No decent person can sanction the Palestinian goal of destroying a flourishing country.

Every prime minister since Ben Chifley and every parliamentary resolution and vote since his time has confirmed that Australian governments stand with Israel's drive to win acceptance (even if they disagree how this is to be achieved).

Western powers should support an Israel acting within legal, moral, and practical boundaries to take the steps necessary to win. They should move their Israel embassies to Jerusalem, reject the Palestinians' claim of Jerusalem as their capital, stand by the Israel Defense Forces when it punishes savagery, and join U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in denouncing the "Palestine refugee" farce whereby some children born today are deemed refugees.

Starting about a year ago, the organization I head, the Middle East Forum, has not only promoted the idea of Israel Victory but organized Israel Victory caucuses in both the Israeli parliament (26 members from 7 political parties) and the U.S. House of Representatives (a bipartisan group of 33 members). In both bodies, caucus members agree that Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are premature until Palestinians accept the permanent existence of the Jewish state; and that Israel Victory is the best way forward. Our goal is for Western leaders to urge Israel to seek victory.

Even opponents of this idea recognize its impact. Writing about Amb. Haley, Palestinian commentator Daoud Kuttab wrote that she "seems to repeat verbatim the Israeli and pro-Israeli lines of people like Daniel Pipes." The Guardian newspaper, among others, suggested that Donald Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem under the influence of the Israel Victory Project.

Following a visit to Australia earlier this month, when I discussed this idea in private conversations, public talks, and in the media, I am now hoping for the start of an Australian movement and parliamentary caucus.


New $1.2bn blowout for NSW light-rail project

Did anyone expect anything else?

Australia’s biggest light-rail ­project, from Sydney’s CBD to the eastern suburbs, is in disarray amid demands from its Spanish subcontractors for an extra $1.2 billion and NSW ­government accusations of a construction go-slow that could delay completion beyond next year.

The demand from ­Acciona — made through its lawyers and on top of a $500 million blowout ­already agreed to by the state government — threatens to more than double the original $1.6bn cost of the project linking the city to Randwick.

The latest demand sparked a furious response from NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance and is headed for a showdown in the NSW Supreme Court next Friday. Acciona’s lawyers claim the government misled the contractor on how many utility lines would have to be moved ­during construction and the complexity of the work.

The NSW government is furious over reports Acciona has gone on a go-slow, with about 100 ­people working on the project each day when several hundred should be doing so. As many workers are being deployed daily on the 12km track as are being ­deployed on the 2.7km light-rail line being built in Newcastle.

State governments around the nation have embarked on a wave of urban transport projects, including the $11bn Melbourne Metro project, Brisbane’s $5.4bn Cross River Rail and Canberra’s light-rail line.

Government sources yesterday suggested the stoush could cause a delay in the project, particularly if the dispute sent the consortium building the line into administration. Work in the CBD has crippled traders on ­George Street and disrupted traffic to ­venues such as the SCG and Randwick racecourse.

For the week ending March 22, a progress report showed the project moved only 0.4 per cent forward. This compared with ­periods last year when 3 to 5 per cent of the project was being built each week.

Only half the civil construction has been finished, several months after the total project was due to be completed.

The light rail is a signature project for NSW Premier Gladys ­Berejiklian, who announced it as transport minister.

The NSW government is also embarking on other major transport infrastructure projects, including the Sydney Metro North West, the Sydney Metro City and Southwest, and the Parramatta Light Rail.

Acciona, which reports to a private-sector consortium known as ALTRAC, sent a letter to Transport for NSW on February 22, warning of Supreme Court ­action over their demand.

The letter, ­obtained by The Weekend Australian, says: “In ­addition to the sum claimed in the commercial list statement by way of loss and damage, our client also maintains it is entitled to interest on the sum of $101m, bringing the total sum sought by our client to $1.206bn. We await your prompt response. Please note that if we have not received your client’s reply within 21 days of the date of this letter, we are instructed to finalise and file the Commercial List Statement and commence proceedings against TfNSW without further notice.”

In response, on March 22, Mr Constance wrote: “As I have previously advised you in our face-to-face meetings, the NSW government is very unhappy with your performance in relation to the construction of the Sydney Light Rail project.

“I have no doubt that Sydney’s residents and businesses are also incredibly frustrated. I recently described NSW as an unhappy customer — let me make it clear we’re now an angry customer.

“As you know, the Sydney Light Rail Project is being delivered under a public-private partnership model where Transport for NSW has contracted the ­ALTRAC Light Rail Partnership to build and operate the project.

“ALTRAC has in turn engaged Acciona to design and build the civil construction aspects of the project. Therefore there is no contract between Transport for NSW and Acciona, nor indeed between it and the state of NSW.”

Mr Constance said any issues Acciona had should be raised with ALTRAC. “You will also be aware that the contract between Transport for NSW and ALTRAC, and in turn the contract between ­ALTRAC and Acciona, spells out how the risks of dealing with utilities for the construction of the light rail are to be managed.

“Acciona negotiated and ­accepted these provisions and has since made use of them. I was therefore shocked and dismayed to be informed that Acciona … has threatened legal proceedings against Transport for NSW, based on allegations that Transport for NSW made misrepresentations to Acciona about the utilities in the lead-up to the signing of the contracts in December 2014. We have always said this is a complex project and both ­Acciona and ­ALTRAC knew this when they signed up.”

A spokeswoman for ALTRAC said last night: “The matter before the NSW Supreme Court does not involve ALTRAC Light Rail. It was filed by Acciona outside the contract and as such is for the parties involved to comment on.

“ALTRAC Light Rail is ­focused on construction of the city and southeast light rail and delivering this important piece of infrastructure for the NSW state government.”


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

8 April, 2018

Greens’ agenda targets bosses and billionaires in tax-the-rich plan

The Greens are Leftists who have learnt nothing

The NSW Greens are pushing a hard-left policy manifesto that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, heavily tax the nation’s wealthy and cap the salaries of chief executives.

The manifesto also supports starving private schools of public cash, cutting the standard working week, abolishing higher education debts and making university and public transport free.

The policy document, released by Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge, threatens to further undermine national leader Richard Di Natale and expose the party to ridicule in the lead-up to the next federal and NSW elections.

Mr Shoebridge has outlined dozens of detailed policy positions, headlined by a billionaires’ tax of up to 10 per cent that the party says could raise as much as $11 billion.

Dismissing the drug ecstasy as “relatively safe’’, the document also suggests renters should be able to stay as long as they like if they continue to meet their financial and contract obligations.

It argues that there should be no “handouts’’ to churches and backs renationalising the power grid.

Although Mr Shoebridge backs Senator Di Natale’s push for a $250bn-plus universal basic ­income, he is critical of the party’s failure to capitalise on a ­reduced Liberal and Labor vote at the 2016 federal election.

He advocates a more radical ­social and economic agenda that includes targeting the richest Australians.

“There is a false perception that the Greens focus almost entirely on the environment at the expense of other economic and ­social issues, which are more important to likely and former Greens’ voters,’’ he writes. “This perception is a barrier to growing our vote.’’

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese blasted the Greens as a virtual “secret society’’ that banned scrutiny of their party conferences and just stopped short of “abolishing all private ownership in anything’’.

“When the public examine the specifics of their policies they reject them,’’ Mr Albanese said.

Openly borrowing from British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Shoebridge says Australia’s wealthiest have $111bn between them. “It’s time that wealth was shared,’’ he said. “That’s more than three times the government’s annual spend on education; it’s more than the wealth of most countries.

“If in addition to income tax, which is largely avoided by the super-wealthy, we taxed billionaires just 5 per cent of their accumulated wealth each year, we’d have $5.5bn more to spend on public education, affordable childcare, housing and cheap, clean energy.

“If we taxed their wealth at 10 per cent, that figure jumps to $11bn. This pays for an awful lot of things that will benefit all of us, not just the mega rich.’’

He adds that chief executive salaries could be capped at 10 times or 20 times average earnings, claiming the average chief executive earns 78 times more than the average worker.

Institute of Public Affairs policy director Simon Breheny said: “The Greens manifesto is a grab-bag of radical socialist proposals. These policies would be disastrous for Australia. They would result in our best and brightest entrepreneurs and risk-takers leaving Australia.”


Voters keeping our democracy alive

Our two-party system is broken, Australian democracy is in a ‘parlous state’, and the populists are marching on Canberra in their droves. Those are the conclusions being drawn after the release of the latest Australian Election Study (AES) data.

While the structural flaws of the two-party system may have emerged, and the jury is still out on whether Pauline Hanson will one day form government, the assertion that the fundamentals of democracy itself are in decay is somewhat problematic.

The term democracy derives from the Greek ‘d?mokratia’ — the rule of the people. The underlying principle of the concept is that citizens participate in the decision-making process of the state; in the Australian case by electing representatives.

While these representatives and the system that constrains them are in need of review, a closer look at the AES survey reveals that Australians are in fact being more proactive when making political decisions.

Take swing voting for example. The number of people who have always voted for the same party has decreased from 72% in 1967 to just 40% in 2016. Split ticket voting — casting a vote for different parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate — has also risen from 12% in 1987 to 19% in 2016.

What this suggests is that constituents are feeling less compelled to adhere to historic family and class voting loyalties, and are more swayed by policy proposals.

This is reinforced by the fact that 59% of poll respondents viewed policy issues as the primary influence on their voting decision, as opposed to 23% who allocated their vote based on party identity alone.

Moreover, 42% of voters made their voting decision during the 2016 election campaign, as opposed to 23% in 2007. Just 35% made up their minds before the election campaign, compared to the 55% in 2007.

These poll results demonstrate that the core fabric of democracy — the demos — is alive and well. People are not mindlessly ticking the same box they have for 30 years. Rather they are increasingly making decisions based on the issues that matter to them.

So, while Australians are becoming increasingly frustrated by the nature of our political system, it would be unfair to say that they are abandoning the precious democratic principles on which our nation is built.


Xenophon flames out

Nick Xenophon’s SA-Best party is “vanquished and unlikely to survive”, with ramifications for NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie’s defence of the federal seat of Mayo at the next election, a leading political scientist says.

Associate professor Haydon Manning, a politics expert at Flinders University for 30 years, has issued a scathing assessment of Mr Xenophon’s political nous in the wake of his party’s failure to win any lower house seats at last month’s South Australian election.

A campaign journal of his wife Hazel Wainwright’s bid to win the southern Adelaide marginal seat of Mawson for SA-Best, published in two instalments by news blog Indaily, concluded that Mr Xenophon’s reckless and shambolic “high-risk approach” had left the major parties in a stronger position than they had been for the past three decades.

The damage to the Xenophon brand in South Australia could ­affect Ms Sharkie, his sole federal lower house MP, who this week ruled out joining the Liberal Party ahead of the next election.

Dr Manning said the ill-fated campaign was hampered by several key factors, including Mr Xenophon’s great worry over his personal loans of $600,000 that led to the expansion of candidate numbers way beyond the original objective.

After vowing in December to run in about 20 lower house seats, Mr Xenophon finalised 36 candidates in the 47-seat House of ­Assembly before the March 17 poll, only to win none.

Dr Manning, who Mr Xenophon turned to for counsel during the campaign, said his warnings that too many candidates would only stretch SA-Best’s limited ­resources “did not gain any traction”. Mr Xenophon, “determined” to increase candidates, “opened the floodgates to accepting new candidates without reference to the sub-branches”.

“SA-Best was buoyed with ­anticipation and, perhaps at this point, some hubris may have crept into the leader’s judgment as more and more candidates were announced,’’ Dr Manning said.

“Vetting appears to have been minimal, more often than not limited to hastily arranged telephone conversations and meetings with Xenophon.

“In the mix here was also an ‘insurance policy’ dimension: more candidates would secure more public funding and this would address Xenophon’s concern about the bank loan he’d taken out to fund much of the campaign.”

There was no experienced campaign director, he said, leaving all tactics solely in the hands of Mr Xenophon, who also kept the party’s policy agenda concent­rated in his own hands and failed to progress it.

“He (Mr Xenophon) also struggles to delegate and is prone to micro-management and con­sequent paralysis when overwhelmed by competing demands on his time and energy,” Dr Manning said. “Xenophon appears driven by a constant need to find a tactical advantage that he alone determines ... media tactics always tended to trump strategic thinking.”

But six weeks before polling day, the bubble of SA-Best support had burst quickly, he said, with a journal entry on February 1 recording an “unforgettable” call from a “flummoxed” Mr Xenophon after a statewide poll showed support had collapsed.

He said a despondent Mr Xenophon gave up on his own seat of Hartley at the start of February and “SA-Best simply deserted the battlefield”.

Mr Xenophon and his two successful upper house candidates, Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.


New Museum, Australian Constitution Centre, opening soon

Each year more and more Australians express declining knowledge of, and attitudes to, the Australian system of governance and its processes. Yet Australia has an extraordinary and unique story that is foremost in world history. Operating under the rules of the Australian Constitution, we are today envied as one of the most enduring and stable systems of government in the world. So why do so few of us understand how our Constitution works, our freedoms, our rights and our responsibilities as citizens of a great nation?

The High Court has worked with the Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA) to build the first Exhibition for the newly established Australian Constitution Centre. Visitors will experience an inspirational journey exploring thousands of years of ideas and events as countries trialled alternative systems of government.  By 1901, the writers of the Australian Constitution had entrenched six foundation principles that today explain how things work in the operation of the Commonwealth Government. These principles are introduced throughout the Exhibition as they integrate the stories of our nation building.

Mrs Kerry Jones, CEO of CEFA said earlier today “Each day constitutional questions are raised that deserve to be answered. How did women get the right to vote?  When did the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples finally achieve native title land rights? Does the Constitution impose rules on the politicians and the States?  Is it true that if I am a murderer I still get a fair trial?  Is our democratic right to vote worthwhile? What dates from the story of our nationhood should we celebrate through annual public holidays? Should we alter the Constitution and if so, what are the most important issues facing us today?  Has the culture, values and beliefs of our Australian society changed since federation 1901? What does Australian citizenship mean today? Can we find common ground and ways forward for our nation?”

Mrs Jones added “The Australian Constitution Centre recognises the urgent need for a comprehensive civics education program to restore knowledge, trust and confidence for the deliverance of good governance. Our Exhibition will provide this to the hundreds of thousands of years 5 and 6 students who will experience it when they come to Canberra.”

Collaborating institutions have gifted and loaned papers, letters and artefacts that are treasures never before been on public display. For the first time ever the High Court will open up interpretations of landmark cases, enabling visitors to the Exhibition to experience the work of the Court and its role in our democracy since Federation.

Parliamentary Ambassador from the Australian Government, Julian Leeser MP, said earlier today  “I am delighted that the Turnbull Government has funded and supported the Australian Constitution Centre. Visitors of all ages will experience and discover why our nation has processes of governance considered amongst the best in the world”.

Media release via email

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, 2018

Anti-Islam leader who staged a mock beheading outside council offices to protest the building of a new mosque appeals 'hate speech' charges in court

No free speech in Australia

An anti-Islamic leader has launched an appeal in court against his conviction as the first person to be charged with 'hate speech' in Australia.

Blair Cottrell was found guilty after staging a mock beheading outside council offices in Bendigo in protest to permission being granted for a new mosque.

The carpenter from Melbourne says he is determined to carry on sharing his far-right views until 'they lock me up or kill me' as he kicked off his appeal on Wednesday.

He launched an appeal against the conviction which carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and appeared at court on Wednesday.

He and two others, Neil Erikson and Christopher Shortis, carried out what Cottrell described as 'an Islamic-style beheading' of a dummy.

Cottrell told Daily Mail Australia he was 'confident' he could overturn his conviction. 'We have a very fair justice system in this country, unfortunately some judges are making some bad decisions, especially in recent years,' he said. 'But the majority of judges are very fair and professional.

'Even if I'm found guilty again I'll never stop speaking, they'll have to lock me up or kill me.'

Earlier, he posted a video appealing for donations to fund his legal challenge in which he denies being an extremist. He said: 'I've never done anything violent yet I'm called extremist simply because I speak.

'I chose to appeal the conviction to a higher level of court and that's what I'm doing today.

'If you're a white person in a Western country and you speak your opinion, you're regarded extremist so long as your opinion isn't left wing. 'What have I done that's extremist? I've given speeches. I've never called for violence.'

The leader of the United Patriots Front and his accomplices in the stunt were the first people to be charged and convicted under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act in Victoria.

The video was posted on Facebook in which Cottrell appeared and thanked the Bendigo City Council for allowing to build a mosque.  He is then shown to behead a mannequin stuffed with pillows with a toy sword.

The next part shows them spread red liquid over the council's footpath and throw the 'bloodied' head at a wall while chanting 'Allahu akbar'.


Greens leader admits he agrees with arch rival Tony Abbott about one thing – Australia MUST lower its immigration intake

Greens are anti-people so that figures

Greens leader Richard Natale has admitted he agrees with former prime minister Tony Abbott's call to cut immigration.

The left-wing party leader told journalists in Canberra big business was behind the push for high population growth.

'The notion that we need a big Australia based on economic drivers is not one we support,' he told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

'Often this is an argument that is run by the business community.'

With Australia's population set to surpass the 25 million milestone this year, Tony Abbott has called for the nation's net annual immigration rate to be slashed from 190,000 to 110,000.

However Senator Di Natale, who hails from Melbourne, declined to explicitly confirm he agreed with the former Liberal PM even though reducing population growth is Greens policy.

'I don't buy into the debate that Tony Abbott is trying to run at the moment,' he said.

'He is not having a debate about population, he is having a debate about the leadership of the Liberal Party. It is not a sophisticated debate about immigration.'

Under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's watch, Australia's population is growing at 1.6 per cent a year, which is more than double the United States' 0.7 per cent and well above the world average of 1.1 per cent.

Millionaire businessman Dick Smith has called for Australia's net annual immigration rate to return to the 20th century average of 70,000 a year, a position shared by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.

Like them, the Greens agree 'population policy should not be primarily driven by economic goals or to counter the effects of an ageing population'.

'The current level of population, population growth and the way we produce and consume are outstripping environmental capacity,' the party's policy platform said.

Despite agreeing with Tony Abbott, Senator Di Natale said the debate about reducing population growth should not be held as the former Liberal prime minister makes efforts to destabilise Malcolm Turnbull.

'We are very happy to have that debate but let’s not have it in an environment when what is ­actually happening is a proxy war between the Prime Minister and the former prime minister,' he said. 


With more than five per cent of Australians looking for work, you would think someone would be interested in taking up a $165-a-day job

But Queensland couple Ian and Sharon Brown recently advertised for part-time workers on their farm, and have been shocked by the lack of response.

The employment ad was placed in print and online asking for workers to help maintain their 2,000 acre property located near Maryborough about three hours north of Brisbane.

'We used to be known as a hard working country and now we're not because there's nothing to force these young people to get out,' Mrs Brown told the Fraser Coast Chronicle.

The national unemployment rate is 5.5 per cent according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while Wide Bay Burnett's unemployment rate, where the Brown's farm is located, sits at 9 per cent.

National youth unemployment rate is at a huge 27.9 per cent.

Mrs Brown told Daily Mail Australia that many of the people they have employed in the past simply could not handle the hard work, with one 19-year-old lasting only an hour before he quit and her husband had to drive him back the farmhouse.

'Society is growing soft, everything is push button, our body's aren't conditioned for hard work,' she said.

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien said, ' did whatever I could to earn a living from picking crops to labouring and working on the factory floor.' 'I would encourage any jobseeker in Wide Bay to look at all jobs on offer, meet with prospective employers and see if they can do the job.'

After word got out about the lack of response following the job ad, Sharon said that they have received several calls enquiring about the position and hopes they will be able to find people willing to work and stick with the job.

'You would think most people would jump at the opportunity to earn $300 dollars for a couple of days work,' she said.


Universities need charters of intellectual freedom

The latest politically correct madness at the University of Sydney — gender, race, sexuality, and class background quotas at the nation’s oldest debating club — is another demonstration of the extent to which ‘Unlearn U’ has mainlined postmodern identity politics.

It isn’t just the violation of core liberal principles of merit, equality of opportunity, and respect for the individual that is of concern — despite later day converts to the diversity agenda dismissing the importance of such ‘philosophical beliefs’.

What is also at stake are the foundational freedoms of speech and thought which universities ought to uphold as bastions of civil debate, rational discussion, and intellectual freedom.

Underpinning identity politics is an ideological agenda that seeks to shape, set and enforce the boundaries of acceptable, as opposed to so-called offensive ‘racist, patriarchial or homophobic or transphobic’ thought and speech.

This is creating a hostile and intolerant intellectual environment for students with the ‘wrong identity’: witness the Student Union-led a counter protest that took violent direct action to ‘unlearn’ conservative students who supported traditional marriage at Sydney University during last year’s marriage equality plebiscite campaign.

Australian universities are highly likely to follow the US path towards a full-blown campus free-speech crisis unless intellectual freedom is properly protected.

This should be the responsibility of university governors. But greater external accountability may be required, given the propensity of modern administrators to indulge in identity politics and view their mission as making universities less “old, white, male”.

Perhaps it is time to investigate requiring universites to sign up and comply with —  as a condition of taxpayer funding — a  charter of intellectual freedom, which could be based on the University of Chicago’s Stone Committee Report of 2015 on freedom of thought and expression at the university

Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.

These words would serve as worthy credo for all Australian universities — if they are to remain worthy of that name.


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, 2018

Counsellor Fired for posting factual but politically incorrect 2016 Domestic violence article on Facebook

An email from Bettina Arndt below

I have an amazing story for you. I have a good friend in Perth, a young relationship counsellor who I have worked with for many years, both by sending him referrals and working together in various media appearances. He’s extremely skilled but even more importantly when I send couples to him I know he will give both sides a proper hearing and that is rare. I hear from so many men complaining that female counsellors blatantly support the female client and refuse to acknowledge the male perspective.

After almost a decade working for one of our leading counselling organisations my friend has just been fired for posting my article about domestic violence on his Facebook page. For those of you who don’t know the article, see below.

I simply present the true facts about domestic violence, challenging the current orthodoxy that all perpetrators are male. According to the managers who fired my friend, my views contravened the domestic violence policy promoted by this government-funded organisation.

We now have lawyers helping him mount a discrimination and unlawful dismissal case. Depending on how that turns out I may well be introducing him to you via my YouTube videos at some later date.

But in the meantime he has very little income – they have refused to pass on his details to his current clients. So I am reaching out to all my supporters to ask you to spread the word about this wonderful counsellor. He’s happy to conduct skype or telephone counselling with clients across Australia but you can see him in person if you live in Perth. He’s very knowledgeable about sexual issues, and has previously run many male sexuality workshops. I also find he is particularly good at helping young people gain confidence about relationships – so he’s helpful to individuals, not just couples.      

Please contact me for his details if you know would like to use his services or refer him on to someone you know.

I’ll let you know how this whole ghastly business turns out. I must say I feel rather responsible for the plight he is in and would like to try to help him.

Domestic violence: data shows women are not the only victims


Eva Solberg is a Swedish politician, a proud feminist who holds an important post as chairwoman of the party Moderate Women. Last year she was presented with her government’s latest strategy for combating domestic violence. Like similar reports across the world, this strategy assumes the only way to tackle domestic violence is through teaching misogynist men (and boys) to behave themselves.

The Swedish politician spat the dummy. Writing on the news site Nyheter24, Solberg took issue with her government’s “tired gendered analysis”, which argued that eradicating sexism was the solution to the problem of domestic violence. She explained her reasoning: “We know through extensive practice and experience that attempts to solve the issue through this kind of analysis have failed. And they failed precisely because violence is not and never has been a gender issue.”

Solberg challenged the government report’s assumption that there was a guilty sex and an innocent one. “Thanks to extensive research in the field, both at the national and international level, we now know with great certainty that this breakdown by sex is simply not true.”

She made reference to the world’s largest research database on intimate partner violence, the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge project, which summarises more than 1700 scientific papers on the topic.

She concluded that her government’s report was based on misinformation about family violence and that, contrary to the report’s one-sided view of men as the only perpetrators, many children were experiencing a very different reality: “We must recognise the fact that domestic violence, in at least half of its occurrence, is carried out by female perpetrators.”

One of the key patterns that emerged from PASK, Solberg said, was that violence in the family was an inherited problem and children learned from watching the violence of both their parents. “To know this and then continue to ignore the damage done to the children who are today subjected to violence is a huge social betrayal,” she concluded. “The road to a solution for this social problem is hardly to stubbornly continue to feed the patient with more of the same medicine that has already been tried for decades.”

There’s a certain irony that this happened in Sweden, the utopia for gender equality and the last place you would expect misogyny to be blamed for a major social evil. But despite Scandinavian countries being world leaders in gender equality (as shown by the 2014 World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index), Nordic women experience the worst physical or sexual violence in the EU. Given this inconvenient truth it seems extraordinary that for decades the gendered analysis of domestic violence has retained its grip on Sweden — as it has in other Western countries, including Australia.

No one would deny that it was a great achievement to have men’s violence against women fully acknowledged and to take critical steps to protect vulnerable women and ensure their safety.

But it has been shocking to watch this morph into a worldwide domestic violence industry determined to ignore evidence showing the complexities of violence in the home and avoid prevention strategies that would tackle the real risk factors underpinning this vital social issue.

Here, too, we are witnessing Solberg’s “huge social betrayal” by denying the reality of the violence being witnessed by many Australian children.

Just look at the bizarre $30 million television campaign the federal government ran a few months ago, which started with a little boy slamming a door in a little girl’s face. A series of vignettes followed, all about innocent females cowering from nasty males.

The whole thing is based on the erroneous notion that domestic violence is caused by disrespect for women, precisely the type of “tired gender analysis” that Solberg has so thoroughly discredited.

Yet our government spent at least $700,000 in funding for research and production of this campaign — just one example of the shocking misuse of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Malcolm Turnbull boasts our government is spending on domestic violence.

Our key organisations all sing from the same songbook, regularly distorting statistics to present only one part of this complex story.

There is a history of this in Australia. “Up to one quarter of young people in Australia have witnessed an incident of physical or domestic violence against their mother or stepmother,” Adam Graycar, a former director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, wrote in an introduction to a 2001 paper, Young Australians and Domestic Violence, a brief overview of the much larger Young People and Domestic Violence study.

Somehow Graycar failed to mention that while 23 per cent of young people were aware of domestic violence against their mothers or stepmothers, an almost identical proportion (22 per cent) of young people were aware of domestic violence against their fathers or stepfathers by their mothers or stepmothers — as shown in the same study.

This type of omission is everywhere today, with most of our bureaucracies downplaying statistics that demonstrate the role of women in family violence and beating up evidence of male aggression.

How often have we been told we face an epidemic of domestic violence? It’s simply not true. Most Australian women are lucky enough to live in a peaceful society where the men in their lives treat them well.

The official data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows violence against women has decreased across the 20-year period it has been studied, with the proportion of adult women experiencing physical violence from their male partner in the preceding year down from 2.6 per cent in 1996 to 0.8 per cent in 2012. (Violence from ex-partners dropped from 3.3 per cent to 0.7 per cent.)

“There’s no evidence that we’re in the middle of an epidemic of domestic violence,” says Don Weatherburn, the respected director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, confirming that these figures from national surveys carried out by the ABS provide the best data on domestic violence in the country.

He adds that in NSW “serious forms of domestic assault, such as assault inflicting grievous bodily harm, have actually come down by 11 per cent over the last 10 years”.

The most recent statistics from the ABS Personal Safety Survey show 1.06 per cent of women are physically assaulted by their partner or ex-partner each year in Australia. This figure is derived from the 2012 PSS and published in its Horizons report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, available at The rate is obtained by dividing cell B9 in Table 19 (93,400) by the total female residential population aged 18 and older (8,735,400).

One in 100 women experiencing this physical violence from their partners is obviously a matter of great concern. But this percentage is very different from the usual figures being trotted out. You’ll never find the figure of 1.06 per cent mentioned by any of the domestic violence organisations in this country. Their goal is to fuel the flames, to promote an alarmist reaction with the hope of attracting ever greater funding for the cause.

What we hear from them is that one in three women are victims of violence. But that’s utterly misleading because it doesn’t just refer to domestic violence. These statistics are also taken from the Personal Safety Survey but refer to the proportion of adult women who have experienced any type of physical violence at all (or threat of violence.) So we’re not just talking about violence by a partner or violence in the home but any aggressive incident, even involving a perfect stranger — such as an altercation with an aggressive shopping trolley driver or an incident of road rage.

That’s partly how the figure inflates to one in three, but it also doesn’t even refer to what’s happening now because these figures include lifetime incidents for adult women — so with our 70-year-olds the violence could have taken place more than 50 years ago. And the equivalent figure for men is worse — one in two.

As for the most horrific crimes, where domestic violence ends in homicide, we are constantly told that domestic violence kills one woman every week. That’s roughly true.

According to AIC figures, one woman is killed by an intimate partner or ex-partner every nine days. One man is killed by his partner about every 30 days. So it is important to acknowledge that male violence is likelier to result in injury or death than female violence towards a partner.

The fact remains that almost a quarter (23.1 per cent) of victims of intimate partner homicide are male — and we hardly ever hear about these deaths.

It is not serving our society well to downplay the fact female violence can also be lethal, towards men and towards children: women account for more than half of all murders of children (52 per cent).

These are all still alarming statistics but here, too, there is good news. Domestic homicides are ­de­creasing. The number of victims of intimate partner homicide drop­ped by almost a third (28 per cent) between 1989-90 and 2010-12, according to data supplied by the AIC (

Chris Lloyd is one of a growing number of Australian academics concerned at the misrepresentation of domestic violence statistics in this country. An expert in statistics and data management at the Melbourne Business School, Lloyd confirms our best source of data, the ABS’s Personal Safety Survey, clearly demonstrates domestic violence is decreasing.

He, too, says it’s wrong to suggest there’s an epidemic of domestic violence in this country. “Many of the quoted statistics around domestic violence are exaggerated or incorrect,” says Lloyd. “Contrary to popular belief and commentary, rates of intimate partner violence are not increasing.” He adds that while he understands the emotional reaction people have to this crime, “emotion is no basis for public policy”.

He’s concerned that Australian media so often publishes misinformation — such as a recent editorial in The Age that repeated the falsehood that domestic violence was the leading cause of death or illness for adult women in Victoria.

As I explained in my Inquirer article “Silent victims” last year (, it doesn’t even make the list of the top 10 such causes. The Age ignored Lloyd’s efforts to correct its mistake, ditto his concern about erroneous media reports that inflated domestic violence figures by using police crime statistics — a notoriously unreliable source.

As Weatherburn points out, it’s very difficult to determine whether swelling numbers of incidents reported to police reflects an increase in actual crime. “It may simply be a tribute to the excellent job that has been done to raise awareness of DV, encouraging women to report, and efforts to get the police to respond properly,” he points out.

Weatherburn believes that the slight (5.7 per cent) increase in reports of domestic assault in NSW during the past 10 years could be due to an increase in victims’ willingness to report domestic assault; he points to the 11 per cent drop across that time in serious forms of domestic assault, such as assault inflicting grievous bodily harm, as a more reliable picture of the trend in domestic violence.

Weatherburn adds that valid comparisons of state police figures on assault are impossible because each police force has a different approach to recording assault. But in many states the goalposts have also shifted.

The explosion in police records is due in part to recent expansions in the definition of family violence to include not just physical abuse but also threats of violence, psychological, emotional, economic and social abuse. Look at Western Australia, where this changed definition was introduced in 2004. That year West Australian police recorded 17,000 incidents of violence, but by 2012 this had almost tripled to 45,000.

Other states report similar trends because of these expanded definitions.

“If a woman turns up to a police station claiming her man has yelled at her, the chances are that she’ll end up with a police report and well on her way to obtaining an apprehended violence order, which puts her in a very powerful position,” says Augusto Zimmermann, a commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, who explains that AVOs can be used to force men to leave their homes and deny them contact with their children.

Often men are caught in police proceedings and evicted from their homes by orders that are issued without any evidence of legal wrongdoing. “It is a frightening reality that here in Australia a perfectly innocent citizen stands to lose his home, his family, his reputation, as a result of unfounded allegations. This is happening to men every day (as a consequence) of domestic violence laws which fail to require the normal standards of proof and presumptions of innocence,” Zimmermann says, adding that he’s not talking about genuine cases of violent men who seriously abuse their wives and children but “law-abiding people who have lost their parental and property rights without the most basic requirements of the rule of law”.

The growing trend for AVOs to be used for tactical purposes in family law disputes is also pushing up police records of domestic violence. “Rather than being motivated by legitimate concerns about feeling safe, a woman can make an application to AVO simply because she was advised by lawyers to look for any reason to apply for such an order when facing a family law dispute,” says Zimmermann, who served on a recent government inquiry into legal issues and domestic violence.

A survey of NSW magistrates found 90 per cent agreed that AVOs were being used as a divorce tactic. Research by family law professor Patrick Parkinson and colleagues from the University of Sydney revealed that lawyers were suggesting that clients obtain AVOs, explaining to them that verbal and emotional abuse were enough to do the trick

The bottom line is that police reports tell us little and the ABS Personal Safety Survey remains our best source of data, showing the true picture of domestic violence. But there’s one more vital fact revealed by that survey that rarely surfaces: men account for one in three victims of partner violence.

You’ll never find this figure mentioned on Our Watch, one of our leading domestic violence organisations, annually attracting government grants of up to $2 million. In May, when Lucy Turnbull became an ambassador for Our Watch, she was welcomed by its chief executive, Mary Barry, who thanked the ambassadors for “engaging Australians to call out disrespect and violence towards women and advocating for gender equality”, which was “exactly what the evidence says is needed to end the epidemic”.

Our Watch staff spend their time writing policy documents and running conferences all firmly locked into the gender equity framework. The site’s facts-and-figures pages include lists of cherry-picked statistics about violence against women but male victims are dismissed by simply stating that the “overwhelming majority of acts of domestic violence are perpetrated by men against women”.

There’s an interesting parallel here. As it happens, this one-in-three ratio is similar to the proportions of suicides among men and women. Among males, 2.8 per cent of all deaths in 2014 were attributed to suicide, while the rate for females was 0.9 per cent. Imagine the public outcry if the smaller number of female suicides were used to justify committing the entire suicide prevention budget to men. So why is it that all our government organisations are getting away with doing just that with the hundreds of millions being spent on domestic violence?

According to one of Australia’s leading experts on couple relationships, Kim Halford, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Queensland, most family violence does not fit the picture most of us have when we imagine domestic violence — a violent man severely beating up his partner to control her. Such violence makes up less than 1 per cent of family ­violence.

Most family violence is two-way aggression, with international research showing about a third of couples have a go at each other — pushing, slapping, shoving or worse. Given the shame and stigma associated with being a male victim of family violence it is not surprising that men downplay these experiences in victim surveys such as Australia’s Personal Safety Survey. It’s only when men and women are asked about perpetrating violence that the two-way violence emerges, with women readily admitting to researchers that they are very actively involved and often instigate this type of “couple violence”.

“Thirty years of international research consistently shows that women and men are violent towards each other at about the same rate,” Halford tells Inquirer.

As one example, two major meta-analysis studies conducted by psychology professor John Archer from Britain’s University of Central Lancashire in 2000 and 2002 found that women were likelier than men to report acts such as pushing, slapping or throwing something at their partner. Archer pointed out that women were likelier to be injured as a result of the couple violence, although there was still a substantial minority of injured male victims.

This two-way violence wasn’t what most researchers expected to find, admits a leading researcher in this area, Terrie Moffitt from Duke University in the US. “We asked the girls questions like, ‘Have you hit your partner?’ ‘Have you thrown your partner across the room?’ ‘Have you used a knife on your partner?’ I thought we were wasting our time asking these questions but they said yes, and they said yes in just the same numbers as the boys did.” Moffitt’s work with young people was part of the world-­renowned Dunedin longitudinal study back in the 1990s that ­recently featured on the SBS series Predict My Future (

It is telling that Australia has not conducted any of the large-scale surveys focusing on perpetrating violence likely to reveal the two-way pattern shown elsewhere. But gender symmetry did emerge in violence studies published in 2010-11 by Halford that focused on couples at the start of their relationships, newlywed couples and couples expecting a child together. Even with these early relationships, about a quarter of the women admit they have been violent towards their partners — just as many as the men.

Halford suggests that perhaps three-quarters of a million children every year in Australia are witnessing both parents engaged in domestic violence. Only small numbers see the severe violence we hear so much about, what the feminists call “intimate terrorism”, where a perpetrator uses violence in combination with a variety of other coercive tactics to take control over their partner, but as Halford points out, even less severe couple violence is not trivial.

“Children witnessing any form of family violence, including couple violence, suffer high rates of mental health problems and the children are more likely to be violent themselves. Couple violence is also a very strong predictor of relationship break-up, which has profound effects on adults and their children,” he says.

The 2001 Young People and Domestic Violence study mentioned earlier was based on national research involving 5000 young Australians aged 12 to 20. This found ample evidence that children were witnessing this two-way parental couple violence, with 14.4 per cent witnessing “couple violence”, 9 per cent witnessing male to female violence only and 7.8 per cent witnessing female to male violence only — which means about one in four young Australians have this detrimental start to their lives. The report found the most damage to children occurred when they witnessed both parents involved in violence.

It is often claimed that women hit only in self-defence, but Halford points out the evidence shows this is not true. “In fact, one of the strongest risk factors for a woman being hit by a male partner is her hitting that male partner. It’s absolutely critical that we tackle couple violence if we really want to stop this escalation into levels of violence which cause women serious injury,” he says. Of course, the impact on children is the other important reason to make couple violence a significant focus.

Naturally, none of this rates a mention in the section on “what drives violence against women” in the official government framework ( promoted by all our key domestic violence bodies. Nor is there any proper attention paid to other proven, evidence-based risk factors such as alcohol and drug abuse, poverty and mental illness.

The only officially sanctioned risk factor for domestic violence in this country is gender inequality. “Other factors interact with or reinforce gender inequality to contribute to increased frequency and severity of violence against women, but do not drive violence in and of themselves” is the only grudging acknowledgment in the framework that other factors may be at play.

At the recent hearings of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence, experts in alcohol abuse and mental illness spoke out about this blatant disregard of the 40 years of research that addresses these complexities. “It is simplistic and misleading to say that domestic violence is caused by patriarchal attitudes,” said James Ogloff, a world-renowned mental health expert.

“A sole focus on the gendered nature of family violence, which labels men as the perpetrators and women as the victims and which identifies gender inequity as the principal cause of family violence, is problematic on a number of levels,” said Peter Miller, principal research fellow and co-director of the violence prevention group at Deakin University.

Miller was involved in a comprehensive recent review of longitudinal studies involving pre­dictors of family violence that identified childhood experiences with abuse and violence, particularly in families with problem ­alcohol use, as key predictors of adult involvement in domestic ­violence. He has encountered obstruction in conducting and pub­lishing research into the role of drugs and alcohol in family ­violence.

The evidence is there about the complexities of domestic violence, but on an official level no one is listening. The reason is simple. The deliberate distortion of this important social issue is all about feminists refusing to give up hard-won turf. Ogloff spelled this out to the royal commission when he explained that the Victorian family violence sector feared that “recognising other potential causes of violence could cause a shift in funding away from programs directed at gender inequity”.

Forty years ago an important feminist figure was invited to Australia to visit our newly established women’s refuges. Erin Pizzey was the founder of Britain’s first refuge, a woman praised around the world for her pioneering work helping women escape from violence. On the way to Australia Pizzey travelled to New Zealand, where she spoke out about her changing views. She had learned through dealing with violent women in her refuge that violence was not a gender issue and that it was important to tackle the complexities of violence to properly address the issue.

Pizzey quickly attracted the wrath of the women’s movement in Britain, attracting death threats that forced her for a time to leave the country. She tells Inquirer from London: “The feminists seized upon domestic violence as the cause they needed to attract more money and supporters at a time when the first flush of enthusiasm for their movement was starting to wane. Domestic violence was perfect for them — the just cause that no one dared challenge. It led to a worldwide million-dollar industry, a huge cash cow supporting legions of bureaucrats and policymakers.”

In Pizzey’s New Zealand press interviews she challenged the gender inequality view of violence, suggesting tackling violence in the home required dealing with the real roots of violence, such as intergenerational exposure to male and female aggression.

News travelled fast. By the time Pizzey was set to leave for the Australian leg of the trip she was persona non grata with the feminists running our refuges. Her visit to this country was cancelled.

That was 1976. Since then the gendered view of domestic violence has held sway, dissenters are silenced and evidence about the true issues underlying this complex issue is ignored. And the huge cash cow supporting our blinkered domestic violence industry becomes ever more bloated.


Jewish leaders demand an apology from the ABC after 'soft' interview with a British writer accused of anti-Semitism and 'anti-Israel' conspiracy theories on Passover

Jewish leaders are demanding an apology from the ABC for giving a platform to a British writer who attended a Holocaust denying conference in Iran.

Dr Stephen Sizer, a former Anglican reverend who speaks out against Israel, was treated to a 17-minute Radio National interview on Good Friday, which was also the start of the Jewish Passover.

ABC breakfast presenter David Rutledge had asked the critic of Christian Zionism if criticism levelled against him was unfair, as he embarks on a tour of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

'I accept you’re not an anti-Semite but do you accept you do sail pretty close to the wind or at least invite that accusation?,' he asked.

Rutledge had pointed out Dr Sizer's 2014 appearance at the New Horizon conference in Tehran, which featured Holocaust deniers, and his 2015 Facebook post which linked Israel with the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States during 2001.

'You seem to have stuck your neck out further than most,' the ABC presenter said.

Dr Sizer responded by saying he was an expert on evangelical Christian supporters of Israel. 'I did my Master’s thesis and did my PhD looking at Christian Zionism, and that’s my main contribution to the debate if you like,' he told the ABC.

Dvir Ambramovich, the chairman of the Jewish Anti-Defamation Commission, said the ABC had 'crossed the line big time' airing Dr Sizer's 'anti-Israel venom'. 'What’s next, an invitation for David Irving to comment on Holocaust memory?,' he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

'Taxpayer dollars should not have been used to allow such a figure to appear on a respectable national program, and this outrageous lapse in judgment should be seriously investigated.'

Peter Wertheim, the chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said the 'soft' interview was an insult to Jewish people.

At the New Horizon Conference in Tehran in September 2014, Dr Sizer asked why Israel had been the subject of more United Nations resolutions 'than any other country in the world'.

An ABC spokeswoman said Rutledge was a 'highly experienced and knowledgeable academic and broadcaster' who had been clear with listeners that Dr Sizer was a 'controversial figure with strongly contested views'.

'Dr Sizer was closely questioned on his views throughout the interview, including in a detailed exchange about the accusations of anti-Semitism made against him (which he denies),' she told Daily Mail Australia.

The ABC received one complaint about the interviewed, which the national broadcaster's independent Audience and Consumer Affairs unit will investigate.


Wake up to the silent invasion': China expert warns Australians that Beijing is 'infiltrating' everything from property to politics - and it might be too late to stop it

Hamilton talks in scholarly tones but he is a Green/Left extremist who hates "capitalism".  I guess even Chinese Communists are too capitalist for him.  He's just a nut.  Unfortunately there is in Australia some history of fearing China so he will get some sympahy for his paranoia

An author has begged Australians to 'wake up to the silent Chinese invasion', as he claims it might already be too late to stop it.

In his newly published book Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State, professor Clive Hamilton said the Chinese Government was influencing 'all of Australia's major institutions, from politics to media, business and universities'.

Speaking on Live Leak on Tuesday, Mr Hamilton said 'no area of Australian society, politics or culture, is free from influence if there's an opportunity there'. 'They'll infiltrate anything they can,' he said.

He said the Chinese Government used Australia as a puppet, and it was leading to 'the erosion of Australian sovereignty'. He wanted Australians to 'wake up' to the alarming reality.

'I wrote the book in order to wake up Australia, to give a full picture of the nature of these operations and why the Chinese Communist Party is targeting Australia,' he said.

Mr Hamilton said Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agents were even targeting church groups in Australia.

'One of the most shocking elements I came across, and I don't want to exaggerate this, was the way in which agents of the CCP have made themselves present in the congregations of Chinese Christian churches in Australia, and of course the CCP is officially an atheist organisation,' he said. 'I was constantly surprised, nothing is sacred.'

The Charles Sturt University Professor of Public Ethics claimed the CCP covertly followed him since he started investigating for his book. 'It's not a pleasant thing to spend weeks and weeks feeling the state security in Beijing is keeping a close eye on you,' he said.

'We did have a spy sitting outside of this building carrying with her a "sniffer" – a device that looked like a mobile but is an electronic device that picks up all telephone communication in the building. 'It is unsettling.'

Mr Hamilton said his publisher wanted to pull the book. 'They said they were afraid of retaliation from Beijing, which is a kind of brilliant but unwelcome vindication of the essential argument of my book,' he said.

The ethics professor said people tried to twist his words and accuse him of racism and xenophobia. 'I anticipated it, to be accused of racism and anti-China xenophobia, but when it comes at you, it's really quite hard to take it. You need to have the skin of a rhino to not want to crawl in a hole and stay there,' he said.

'You'd have to work hard to draw out of the book anything that could be used to draw that conclusion from the book.

'To think any criticism of the communist party is criticism of Chinese people… give me a break.'

He said it was time for liberal democracies to 'muscle up'. 'We need to make a fundamental decision to decide how much our freedom is worth,' he said. 


Epidemic of Aboriginal crime in Townsville

By day, he’s a house painter, quiet and unassuming, a young man who speaks softly and keeps a baseball bat in the boot of his car.

By night, Kenneth drives the streets of Townsville looking for trouble. It’s all too easy to find in a city besieged by a wave of youth crime.

The police are doing their best, but 20-year-old Kenneth and his mates from Townsville Against Crime have taken it upon themselves to become the “eyes and ears” of the law, patrolling from midnight to near dawn for house breakers and joyriders.

They say they are doing no more than their civic duty — a suspicious sighting is immediately called in to the police, Kenneth insists — and if something kicks off they have the right to defend themselves, like anyone else.

“We’re not into that vigilante shit, and the cops know that,” he says. “If I see someone breaking into a house I get on to the cops and if there’s people home I will try to warn them. You don’t go in, because that can turn out to be a hostage situation and no one wants that.

“You sit outside, hitting the horn or whatever to make noise, and that’s usually enough. If the crims start running you try to grab them and perform a citizen’s arrest until the police come. I’ve done that a few times.”

Others say that Kenneth’s group and those like it networked through Facebook are anything but a mobile neighbourhood watch.

“I make no bones about this … they are vigilantes and they’re probably even more dangerous than the kids they chase,” complains veteran indigenous activist Gracelyn Smallwood. “My greatest worry is that kids of all colour are being targeted.”

It doesn’t help that the offenders are overwhelmingly indigenous and that Kenneth and his compatriots are mainly white. Townsville has a history of racial unease and the depredations of a small but hardened core of troublesome young people, numbering no more than 30, according to senior police, has brought long-simmering tensions to the surface.

The problems began two years ago at a time when nearly 900 people had been thrown out of work by the collapse of Clive Palmer’s nickel plant at Yabulu, north of the city. Youth unemployment soared to 21 per cent. A community that took pride in its sunny optimism was deeply shaken as car theft doubled and burglaries spiked in what turned out to be a new form of niche crime: kids broke into homes to grab the keys to cars that were then taken for joyrides, frequently in appallingly dangerous circumstances.


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, 2018

How come feminists have forgotten this problem?

A wise man once said, ‘The world is your toilet’. He was referring specifically to men. I am a man, therefore it was about me, as much as it was about roughly 50 percent of the world’s other 7 billion people. But what about the other 50 per cent? I’ll come to them.

It’s a strange segue, but my point being, when I head to the BluesFest in Byron Bay every year – an event that attracts about 120,000 people over the course of five days – I always spring the extra cash for a VIP ticket.

Contrary to popular opinion, VIP doesn’t actually stand for ‘Very Important Person’. In my line of work, I’ve met many people who think they are, and it usually turns out they’re not. And so to me, at BluesFest at least, VIP stands for Very Important Piss… in both its forms – urine and alcohol.

Long story short, a VIP ticket at BluesFest reduces the wait for the ‘ins’ part (specifically, beer) and more importantly reduces the wait for the inevitable ‘outs’ part, which comes about as a result of too much ‘ins’.

Unless, that is, you’re a woman. In which case, year after year, I’ve watched a long queue of surprisingly upbeat women wait patiently – in both the VIP section and the general festival area – for their turn on the potty.

I say surprisingly upbeat because as a privileged white male, if I have to wait for a traffic light, I feel oppressed. And yet, women the nation over seem to have blithely accepted their lot in life when it comes to toileting at big events. They just have to wait. Meanwhile, next to the ladies’ queue, men bustle in and out, doing their business and swapping manly jokes about bodily functions.

‘Is this where all the big dicks hang out?’ Guffaw guffaw. Or ‘I’m marking my territory’, as a particularly drunk punter tries to spin in a circle, pissing on everything. Or ‘Stand back lads, shit’s about to get real’. That sort of stuff.

Also, “Mind my beer”. The guy next to me had rested his drink on the ground between his urinal and mine. “Aim before you shoot,” he joked… although it obviously wasn’t really a joke.

The most important part of my BluesFest toilet story is that there is no queue for the men’s loo. Given that, statistically speaking, there are roughly about as many women at the event as there are men, this would be perplexing were it not for the simple reality that men are much quicker in the toilet stakes than women. Which begs the very simple question… why don’t they put in more women’s toilets than men’s?

Does equality of the sexes really mean having the same number of men’s toilet’s as women’s? What about equality of outcome?

Of course, ladies, you could just do what I urged my BluesFest Friend (BFF) to do: Come with.

As men, and for the record, we honestly don’t mind a female invasion of the men’s lavatory at festive events. All are welcome. Robert Plant is about to play on the main stage, and we’re in a lubricated mood. Our smelly man-cave is your smelly man-cave.

If ‘shit really does get real’, and someone objects, your ready-made excuse should be something like, ‘We’re bombing Syria and we cheated in the cricket. There’s bigger things happening. Calm down. Move aside.’

I think this inequality of the bodily functions happens because, respectfully, BluesFest is owned by a man. His name is Peter Noble, and he is clearly no feminist. Nor are the rest of us, because as men, we’ve stood by year-after-year and watched this happen. If the roles were reversed – if men constantly had to ‘wait for the facilities’, cross-legged while their bladders rapidly expanded – something would have been done years ago. Something would have been invented to move things a long a little quicker. Like more f.... toilets.


Dozens of paedophiles, rapists and violent sex offenders will be allowed to work with CHILDREN after winning appeals

VCAT is a very Leftist body

More than a dozen paedophiles, rapists and violent sex offenders have won the right to work with children through a series of court challenges.

Successful appeals at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) have resulted in over 12 working with children bans being overturned in just five years.

Those who have won their appeals include a man who was caught by police with a half-naked boy in his car.

A 31-year-old man fondled his partner's teenage daughter after taking her camping, and a another man, 22, raped a 13-year-old girl, ABC News reported.

A different offender raped a woman after a buck's party, while another was caught masturbating in public toilets and train stations in front of women and children.

A man who was groomed and abused by one of the paedophiles told the ABC allowing the man to work with children was a huge risk.

'He shouldn't be allowed to have a working with children permit, simply because he's been convicted of paedophilia,' he said.

'It's like putting the kid in the candy store and walking out and all the jars are open.'

Child protection organisation Bravehearts' founder Hetty Johnson slammed the VCAT decisions, and said paedophiles should never be able to work with children.

'I just wouldn't want to risk a child's whole future on … a hope and a prayer that maybe this person would never do it again,' she said.

Working with children checks are automatically denied in Victoria for people convicted of crimes such as murder, rape and paedophilia offences.

Those with denied applications can then appeal to VCAT, which has overturned 38 cases in five years, including more than a dozen involving sexual offences.

In a statement to the ABC, VCAT said its role was to apply the law made by the Victorian Government. 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been critical of children checks in the past, describing the system as a failure in 2015.

Martin Pakula, Victoria's Attorney General, said recommendations from the Royal Commission have led to a strengthening of the application process.

Mr Pakula said the State Government understands the concern in the community, and wants to do everything possible to ensure the safety of children.


The poisonous Left once again trying to destroy good community relationships

A refugee family is outraged at a high school for making Year 12 students write essays and make videos on Muslim 'exclusion'.

Leumeah High School in Sydney's south-west is asking Society and Culture students to present a five-minute oral presentation on the 'social exclusion faced by people of Muslim faith in Australia'.

The Year 12 Higher School Certificate students are also required to explain 'the barriers' Muslims face in 'accessing socially-valued resources' in a YouTube video.

Yuhan Houth, who was born in a Thai refugee camp after his parents escaped Pol Pot's murderous regime in Cambodia, said he regretted recommending that school for his younger brother, who turns 16 this year.

The 32-year-old welder said the assessment task was based on a leading question rather than an analysis of facts.

'From what I see here, I wouldn't call it propaganda but you can't really call it anything else,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday. 'I see it as indoctrinating them young.

'I would have thought examinations would be more concerned about empirical things, objective matter not subjectivity dressed up as an opinion piece.'

Mr Houth said the assessment topic also wrongly implied that immigrants weren't welcome in Australia.

'I'm more concerned about this particular narrative that's been perpetuated,' he said.

'I don't believe what they're demanding from the students is accurate of the reality of what the situation is.'

He said students doing the assessment were effectively being forced to give a set answer, as part of a presentation which must be recorded or uploaded to YouTube for the teacher.

'They would be obliged to give only the answers that they would be satisfied with in terms of any possible biases as opposed to just giving an honest opinion,' he said.

Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham said the school, in his old electorate of Werriwa, had forced students to argue a left-wing narrative that 'Muslims are hard done by because Australia is a racist nation'.

'Given the contentious nature of current political debates about Islam, the students have been placed in a difficult position,' he told his Facebook followers on Tuesday.

'If their YouTube videos are too soft or too hard on Islam they might face different types of backlash. I feel sorry for the students and families facing this conundrum.'

Mark Latham's social media followers were also outraged. 'Islamic indoctrination by the left and the education system,' one man  wrote. 'My god, we are seriously losing the country.'

One woman said it was outrageous students were taught Muslims weren't welcome in Australia. 'Simply outraged. Muslims have been welcomed into this country for decades,' she said. 'They have the same chances and opportunities as all others, in some cases more than people born here.'

Another woman suggested students were being groomed to hate Australia. 'These kids are being groomed and brainwashed in Islamics and sharia law,' she said.

'No, this is wrong. Politics should be kept out of schools.'

Daily Mail Australia contacted school principal Paul Zielinski and New South Wales Education Minister Rob Stokes for comment.


Pressure from conservative parliamentarians for more coal-fired electicity

Malcolm Turnbull faces a challenge to his signature energy ­policy from a group of Coalition backbenchers, including Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and Kevin ­Andrews, who have formed a lobby group to promote government support for the construction of new coal-fired power stations.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Nationals MP George Christensen yesterday claimed more than 20 government MPs had joined the newly created Monash Forum, named after World War I military hero John Monash, a key figure in opening Victoria’s ­Latrobe Valley to coal production.

The Australian was told last night that Barnaby Joyce had thrown his support behind the new informal political faction along with up to 11 other Nationals. The former deputy prime minister did not respond to ­requests for comment.

The lobby group could threaten the Prime Minister’s national energy guarantee (NEG) as he ­attempts to secure support from state and territory governments for a new national framework later this month.

While not ­opposed to the NEG, the Monash Forum aims to test Mr Turnbull’s assurances to the Coalition partyroom that the government framework is “technology-neutral” by aggressively pushing for more coal-fired power stations.

One member of the new group said: “Some of us see ­energy as being the only ticket to ride in the next election and the NEG is clearly not going to cut it for us.”

The backbench lobby group push comes as Mr Turnbull faces pressure over his leadership, with the Coalition on track to trail Labor for 30 consecutive Newspolls — the benchmark Mr Turnbull used to oust Mr Abbott as prime minister in September 2015.

The Australian understands the new ginger group is based on the Lyons Forum of the early 1990s which was made up of conservative Liberals who played a vital role in facilitating John Howard’s leadership ascension in 1995.

The Lyons Forum, dubbed the “God squad” by some commentators, included Liberal MPs Mr Andrews and Senator Abetz.

The Monash Forum is understood to have its own mission statement or policy manifesto, which was given to backbenchers when parliament sat in Canberra last week. Some MPs were ­encouraged to sign documents to confirm their support.

“It says the government is building a Snowy 2.0 so why can’t it build a Hazelwood 2.0,” Mr Kelly said of the manifesto.

“The group wants to see the ­replacement of Australia’s existing coal-fired power fleet with new high-efficiency, low-­emissions (HELE) coal-fired power stations.”

Mr Kelly and Mr Christensen said yesterday they expected more than 30 MPs to join the forum, which would be more than half of the backbench. Mr Christensen said 10 Nationals had formally joined the group and another two had verbally told him they would join.

Mr Christensen last week sent a message to Nationals MPs asking them to join. “We are setting up a new group called the Monash Forum encouraging the government in the promotion of and ­facilitation of and/or construction of coal-fired power stations,” he wrote. “Why Monash? Because he opened the La Trobe coal reserves and oversaw the construction of coal-fired power there.”

Mr Christensen said there needed to be more federal government support for coal-fired power. He said the government should “secure” Liddell power station in the NSW Upper Hunter and then expand the baseload network.

“I think that there is a strong desire within the backbench for the government to get more actively involved in the construction of reliable, around-the-clock baseload power,” Mr Christensen said. “Most of us haven’t bought into the great green lie that that is going to be achieved by solar with batteries or wind power. Those products have their place but they do not supply affordable, around-the-clock, secure, baseload power. The only thing in the Australian market that does that is coal-fired power.”

When asked if the forum’s requests would be possible within the framework of the NEG, Mr Christensen said: “We are told the NEG is technologically neutral … within those parameters the best solution currently available to us is coal-fired power”.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said yesterday the government’s policy was technology-neutral.

He said independent modelling by the Energy Security Board had suggested coal would make up more than half of the energy mix in 2030. In its advice to government in October, the ESB said renewables were likely to reach 28 to 36 per cent of the energy mix by 2030 under the NEG — with wind and solar providing 18 to 24 per cent.

The NEG is aimed at guaranteeing energy reliability, while lowering costs for consumers and delivering on Australia’s Paris Agreement commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels. It will put an obligation on electricity retailers to buy power at a set level of emissions intensity each year to meet a 2030 reduction target — set by government — for the power generation sector while also forcing retailers to meet a percentage of demand from reliable power generation.


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

3 April, 2018

Study of High School mathematics declining

This could be fixed by giving double weight to STEM courses.  Pretending that they are no more valuable than literature courses is fantasy

In the warm-up before ABC’s Q&A a couple of weeks ago, panel members were asked which subject they liked least at school. Almost all nominated maths or chemistry. Few people would be surprised at this. Maths gets a bad rap, and many school students drop it like a scorching spud as soon as they get the chance.

Media reported this week that the proportion of students taking higher level maths for the NSW Higher School Certificate has declined over the past 10 years, continuing a long-term trend across Australia. This is despite the greater academic prestige that tends to be attached to what is now called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) — as pointed out by NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes in a speech that attracted heated debate.

The drop in students’ maths skills is not just an academic problem. A report released by Engineers Australia says the drop in participation in STEM subjects at a level sufficient to allow studying engineering at university is affecting Australia’s capacity to produce qualified engineers, and resulting in an over-reliance on skilled migration, which carries some risks. Permanent and temporary migration accounts for almost two thirds of new engineers, who are crucial in numerous areas of the economy, both present and future.

Engineers Australia recommends that students be ‘encouraged’ to study advanced and intermediate maths and science to Year 12. Unfortunately, encouragement is not enough; the seeds of participation in high cognitive demand courses are sown early in school.

The typical response to this sort of recommendation is to make maths and science more appealing by using ‘hands-on’, inquiry approaches to teaching; but this is misguided. Study after study has shown that explicit instruction is more effective, and is more likely to give children a sense of self-efficacy (these days called ‘growth mind set’) and confidence in their abilities. Once children have achieved mastery through methodical and sequential teaching, inquiry can be useful — but not before.

Preoccupation with inquiry learning as the solution to all our educational problems is associated with the cliché that traditional, teacher-directed approaches are an out-dated “industrial model” of education that is unsuited to the modern world.

The irony of this is not lost on cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham who put it this way: “Apparently schools are bad because 100 years ago evil corporations duped them into prepping workers for factories. And the solution is to emphasize cooperative, creative work, because that’s what present-day, non-evil corporations say is needed for jobs of the future. Got it.”


Palace answers claim by Paul Keating that Prince Charles wants Australia to become republic

Tony Abbott has hit back at former prime minister Paul Keating’s assertion that Prince Charles is in favour of Australia becoming a republic.

On the eve of the visit by the Prince of Wales, Mr Keating said Charles believes Australia should sever its ties with the monarchy of Great Britain and become a republic, charting its own independent course as a nation.

“I have no doubt he believes Australia should be free of the British monarchy and that it should make its own way in the world,” Mr Keating said.

“Why would he or any one of his family want to visit Australia pretending to be, or representing its aspirations as, its head of state?”

“But none of that is to diminish the commitment and sense of duty that Prince Charles displays towards Great Britain and, as constitutional arrangements stand, towards Australia.

“He is a great friend of Australia — there is no doubt about that.”

In a tweet, Mr Abbott, a staunch monarchist, accused Mr Keating of “verballing” the prince on the issue.

The Prince of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will visit Australia from April 4 to April 10, and attend the opening of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Mr Keating’s comments put the republican issue squarely on the agenda in the context of the visit by Prince Charles. The former prime minister believes Australia cannot claim to be a “great” nation while it borrows the monarch of Great Britain.

An official statement from @ClarenceHouse has been provided to me in response to this story today:

“Her Majesty The Queen and The Prince of Wales have always made it clear that they believe the future of the Monarchy in Australia is a matter for the Australian people to decide.”

Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz said Mr Keating’s comments were “just the latest example” of the former prime minister “projecting his own views on others.

Senator Abetz said Mr Keating had taken credit for designing the failed republic model which was rejected by the Australian people at the 1999 referendum.

“Mr Keating’s musings clearly have no basis in fact and are just a sad feature of the latest republican push,” Senator Abetz said.

“Along with wanting to change the flag, Mr Keating regularly finds new ways to try and push for a republic despite the Australian people rejecting his own model.

“Australia’s system of government has withstood the test of time and provided for a gold standard of democracy that is the envy of the world. To change that would undermine our democracy and be very risky.

“I have no doubt that Australians do and will continue to see the value in maintaining our Constitution as is over the self-serving and egotistical arguments for a republic put forward by Mr Keating and his backers.”

As prime minister, Mr Keating canvassed Australia’s constitutional future with Prince Charles who made it clear the royal family made no claims on Australia and would respect any decision by the Australian people to become a republic.

In comments made to The Sunday Times in Britain, and provided to The Australian, Mr Keating praised Prince Charles as an “enlightened”person who is too often poorly treated by the British media.

“But more than that, he is an enlightened and conviction-driven person, too often deprecated by that blighted institution we know as the British press,” Mr Keating said. “His commitment to naturalism, to heritage, to science, to innovation and perhaps most importantly, to beauty, speaks volumes of his intellect and integrity.”

“Prince Charles will always be welcome in Australia — as the crown prince or as monarch of Great Britain. But the pretence of representing this country and all that it stands for is something he and we could well do without.”

Mr Keating discussed Australia becoming a republic with Prince Charles when he visited Balmoral in Scotland, in September 1993, during his prime ministership. When Prince Charles visited Australia in January 1994, he said he welcomed debate about Australia becoming a republic.

“It is the sign of a mature and self-confident nation to debate those issues and to use the democratic processes to re-examine the way in which you want to face the future,” Prince Charles said. On those who want a republic, he added: “perhaps they are right”.

Mr Keating advocated a republic while prime minister (1991-96). He presented a model to parliament, and flagged a future referendum, in June 1995.

“The American revolutionary and second president, John Adams, made the point that, ‘there are no queen bees in the human hive’,” Mr Keating said. “While another president, Thomas Jefferson, remarked, ‘of its essence, a monarchy is a tyranny’. Both utterances possess that incalculable power of truth.”

“It is obvious that it is a spoof on all that Australians have created here for us to be borrowing the monarch of another country.”

“No great country ever borrows the monarch of another country. And Australia is otherwise entitled to be a great country. But it cannot be until it sheds the derivative notion that its roots lie somewhere else.”

The royal tour begins on Wednesday. Prince Charles and Camilla will represent Queen Elizabeth II at the Commonwealth Games and also visit other parts of Queensland before travelling to the Northern Territory.


Revealed: How Australia's worst dole bludgers don't have to look for a job because of drug and alcohol addiction - but their free ride is about to end

Drug and alcohol addiction has been, up until now, an excuse for those on welfare payments to avoid completing their mutual obligation requirements.

However, under new laws introduced by the Turnbull Government that is changing.

The Welfare Reform Bill which has passed through Parliament brings a number of changes which aim to crackdown on those who may be taking advantage of unemployment benefits.

The number of dole recipients being granted drug and alcohol addiction exemptions has grown to 3353 across the nation as reported by The Courier Mail.

Queensland has the largest number of recipients being granted exemptions at 1074, followed by 878 in Northern Territory, 734 in Western Australia, and only 338 in NSW.

From April 1 drug and alcohol dependency will no longer be a reason for those on the Newstart Allowance to be exempt from their mutual obligation requirements.

The criteria will be even stricter from July 1 as drug and alcohol dependency will not even be a reasonable excuse to avoid looking for work unless those involved are seeking treatment.

A demerit system will also be introduced from July 1 which will operate similar to the points system used with a Driver's Licence, which will also be backed up by a 'three strikes' policy.

Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan said that, 'This will end the current situation where, in more than 90 per cent of cases, job seekers who decline work or persistently miss requirements face no real consequences because penalties can too easily be waived.'


Do ice cream sales increase shark attacks?

Labor MP Andrew Leigh’s study on data around effective company tax rates and employment shows incomplete analysis that mistakes correlation for causation.

But a correlation does not mean it’s a cause. For example, as ice cream sales increase, there is a correlation in the increased rate of shark attacks. However, the rise in shark attacks is not caused by ice cream sales, but by the unstated factor of warm weather sending more people to the beach.

Mr Leigh’s paper says higher effective company tax rates are correlated with companies hiring more workers. But common sense suggests it is highly unlikely that higher company taxes cause companies to hire more workers.

Clearly other unstated factors are at play. A plausible one is that more profitable firms tend to have higher effective company tax rates, but if they are focused on growth will generally need more workers. Hencer, these firms are more likely to hire new staff for reasons that have nothing to do with company tax rates.

And this is the problem with incomplete analysis, you can tell very different stories by making a few leaps of logic.

To provide another illustration of how incomplete analysis can create varying conclusions let’s add the following economically defensible assumption to Mr Leigh’s analysis: the marginal deadweight cost of company tax is higher, the higher is the level of the tax.  That is, reducing a company’s tax rate from 30% to 29% is more beneficial to new investment than reducing a company’s tax rate from 20% to 19%.

So what can we conclude from our new story? Companies paying higher tax rates hire more workers.  Companies with higher tax rates get more benefit from a tax cut. Ergo sum, the company tax cut is actually more beneficial to employment than even the Liberal Party is currently claiming.


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

2 April, 2018

Radical gender propaganda fed to Australian trainee teachers

IF you’re wondering how we’ve reached the alarming point where children are coming home from school confused about whether they are girls or boys, look no further than what one university is teaching its trainee teachers.

At the University of Technology, Sydney, first year students studying primary and secondary school teaching are obliged in their first semester this year to take a compulsory course called “Beyond Culture: Diversity in Context”.

Taught by two baby boomer academics with PhDs, Dr Wendy Holland and Dr Myra Dunn, the course thus far this year has delivered lectures on the topics of gender fluidity, race and identity.

In Week 3, in a lecture titled “Exploring Gender,” students were provided with Powerpoint notes which are mind-boggling, unscientific propaganda straight from the academic fringes of gender theory.

These UTS trainee teachers were taught that there are two views of gender.

One view, dismissed with just 13 words in the 15-page PowerPoint document, is described as “Essentialist”, and holds that ‘gender’ is “fixed and biologically determined … set at birth”. In other words, it describes reality as experienced by at least 99.7 per cent of people (not to mention animals).

The other view, which is the subject of the rest of the lecture, is described as “Constructivist”. It sees gender as “socially constructed, fluid and dynamic … a construct of language and discourse.”

The lecture goes on to claim that biological sex “Exists on a
spectrum, with genitalia, chromosomes, gonads and hormones” merely “playing a role”.

It says about one in 100 people are born neither male nor female.

This is just not correct. According to the British Medical Journal, citing a 1975 chromosomal study of 14,069 newborn infants, “The incidence of genital ambiguity that results in the child’s sex being uncertain is 1 per 4500”, that is 0.02 per cent. So the UTS gender lecture is only wrong by a factor of 50.

As for “gender identity”, the most generous statistics across the world show up to 0.3 per cent of people identify as transgender.

In Australia, in the 2016 Census, just 3,700 people identified themselves as a gender other than male or female, which is a rate of 16 per 100,000 people or just 0.016 per cent. Even then, only one third of those were “validated as intentional” answers.

Back to the UTS lecture notes which:

— Included a glossary of 21 terms such as genderqueer, genderfluid and cisgender and refers to the Safe Schools website, even though the controversial program has been banned in NSW.

— Said referrals to gender clinics have “skyrocketed (e.g. Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne: 1 in 2003 — 100 in 2014”.

- Advised “policing gender roles” in preschool

— Claimed that allowing children “free play” can “reinforce gender stereotypes”.

Trainee teachers who questioned any of the material were told the subject was “more a thinking subject, not a content subject”.

“The table I was sitting at in my tutorial was in a bit of shock,” said one student who asked not to be named. “I thought, ‘I’m not being taught how to be a good teacher.’”

The trainee teachers were also taught to keep an eye out for “sport and male hegemony [and] who dominates various playground areas?”

And they were encouraged to teach children about gender using “a wide range of resources that reflect diversity — e.g. The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch, William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow; units about families reflecting diversity of possibilities — two mums, single dads, etc.”

In other words, UTS is training the next generation of students in pure gender theory, a doctrine that holds that there is no such thing as biological sex, as in male or female, but a fluid continuum which changes at whim.

Gender theory holds that gender identity, gender expression and sexual preference exist independently of biological sex. If you don’t believe that you are “heteronormative” which is a bad thing, like being a bigot.

Gender theory is part of a variant of Marxist philosophy called “post modernism” which looks like a utopian substitute for religion, according to historian Keith Windschuttle, who says the ideas arose in the sexual revolution of the 1960s but only took off “after the fall of that other religion substitute, communism, in 1989-90”.

Canadian psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson has said that postmodernists view the world as made up of fragmented identity groups, divided into victims (according to race, gender and sexual preference) and oppressors (straight white males).

“Postmodernists have replaced Marxist claims of economic oppression with claims of identity oppression.

“Part of the postmodern attempt is to undermine the … classical social structures in the same way a Marxist wants to produce a revolution in a capitalist society to undermine the central power structures by whatever means are necessary.”

This radical ideology which turns science, logic and reason on its head is not about being compassionate to a tiny minority of transgender people. Quite the opposite.

It uses them as tools to coerce the rest of us to go along with the lie that biological sex does not exist.

Schoolchildren are at the frontline of this war on truth, as we saw with the Safe Schools program which posed as an anti-bullying program but was really about brainwashing children in gender theory.

“Gender identity policies can quickly generate politically correct speech codes in schools and workplaces,” writes Ryan Anderson, in his new book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.”

“Antibullying” programs can turn into antidisagreement programs. Dissent is equated with bigotry and hate, so no dissent will be tolerated. All students must accept gender ideology, and their parents will have no say in the matter.”

Most of the UTS trainee teachers are school leavers, aged 18 or 19. Some could be heard complaining as they walked out of the lecture theatre. “This is absolute bullshit” said one young man. “This is ridiculous. It’s so stupid.”

Yes, the ideology is all that, but it’s also creeping into every school, successfully warping the minds of children when they are at their most vulnerable, and is rapidly being mandated in new speech codes and law


Byron Bay cop is slammed by the police watchdog for 'intentionally inflicting pain' on a naked teenager he hit with a baton 15 times

It is often difficult to get insane and drug-affected people to co-operate

A Byron Bay police officer involved in the beating of a 16-year-old boy with Asperger's has been blasted by the police watchdog for being too violent after he baton-struck a disoriented teenager more than 15 times.

The head of the independent Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, Michael Adams, criticised the officer's violent use of force during a hearing in Sydney on Thursday.

He questioned the number of blows delivered, along with officer E's failure to consider his actions whilst he was striking the boy.  The officer's motive appeared to be to inflict pain, he said.

The commission is examining the conduct of officers involved in the apprehension and detention of the drug-affected teenager.

Police arrested the teenager, who was found naked, sweating profusely and pacing up and down in a Byron Bay laneway, in the early hours of January 11.

Bystander video taken from a nearby balcony shows a police officer, known as E for legal reasons, striking the 16-year-old more than 15 times as he lay on the ground surrounded by up to three other officers.

Officer E said he began using his baton after earlier attempts to subdue the 16-year-old using pepper spray and a Taser had failed.

He said the boy - labelled AO by the commission - tried to get up after a baton blow to his knee had brought him to the ground and he also resisted officers trying to handcuff him. 'He needed to be compliant. He needed to be restrained,' he said

But LECC Chief Commissioner Adams questioned whether the officer had warned the boy that his attempts to resist being handcuffed would be met with baton blows. He said the number of strikes appeared excessive given the boy's mental state and the number of officers at the scene.

Officer E said the baton blows were assisting the other officers, who were struggling to handcuff AO as he wriggled around and pulled his arms under his body.

'This guy had been sprayed, had been Tasered twice and that's why I deemed that ... I was of the opinion that it needed more,' he said.

He rejected the commissioner's suggestion that other methods of control may have been more effective and said despite his small size compared to the officers, the boy was strong. 'He was very violent, at no point did I feel we had control of him,' he said.

Officer E rejected claims he had sworn at and threatened bystanders for videoing the arrest. 'I was the officer who approached people ... I would have liked footage of it,' he said. 


Wholesale electricity prices up in Victoria since closure of big brown coal generator

Brown coal is more polluting than black coal so the Greenies wanted it closed.  It also produced power very cheaply and that was unforgiveable

Wholesale electricity prices have shot up in Victoria since the closure of the coal-fired Hazelwood power station, which has also caused Victoria to rely on power from other states for the first time in almost a decade, according to a new report.

A year on from the closure of the 1600 megawatt-sized plant in the Latrobe Valley, the report from the Australian Energy Regulator found wholesale prices in Victoria were up 85 per cent on 2016.

The regulator's chair Paula Conboy said the rise was driven by the replacement of Hazelwood's cheap, brown coal-fired power generation with power from higher cost sources such as black coal, gas and hydro, at a time when black coal and gas prices were rising.

"The impact of the Hazelwood closure has been, and continues to be, significant right across the [National Electricity Market]," Ms Conboy said.

From mid-2017, for the first time in almost a decade, Victoria relied on energy from interstate to meet its needs, as it increased its imports of gas-generated power from South Australia, and black coal-fired electricity from New South Wales.

Ms Conboy said the price increases and the energy market's response to Hazelwood's closure had been as expected, but new investment in electricity generation was "critical" to put downward pressure on prices.

The regulator said it was difficult to determine the impact of Hazelwood's closure on retail prices, because of the way energy retailers use contracts to purchase power in advance.

But the Australian Energy Market Commission said it expects retail prices in Victoria to increase 15.9 per cent this financial year compared to 2016-17.

However the commission expects prices for households to drop 6.6 per cent in 2018-19 and a further 9.7 per cent in 2019-20, as more wind and solar power becomes available.

Mario Mancusso, a butcher in the Melbourne suburb of Flemington, said his business was feeling the pinch. "At the moment, I'm looking at $3,500 to $4,000 a quarter — 14 years ago when I opened, I was paying $600," he said.

He said power bills were having a huge impact on his business and he had to pass on the costs to his customers. "Once I pay this bill, it will take me weeks to recover. It's costing me a fortune."

He said he understood the closure of Hazelwood had cut greenhouse gas emissions, but the pros did not outweigh the cons. "At the end of the day, I look after my own interests. And I cannot sustain those sorts of bills."


Vile Instagram account showing horrific video of schoolchildren being bullied and bashed sparks an investigation amid student fears

Horrific videos of students being bullied at school are causing anxious Western Australian parents to 'bawl their eyes out'.

Kids are seen fighting and throwing punches at each other in a classroom and a school yard as a helpless teacher tries to stop them.

The Western Australian Education Department is investigating after the videos appeared on Instagram, claiming to be taken at Halls Head College, 72 km South of Perth, 7 News reports.

A mother told the network she cried when she saw the footage and was thinking 'this is someone's baby.' 'I bawled my eyes out,' she said.

Her daughter, who is reportedly a student in the area, described how 'it's pretty much like jail'. 'Like you're in jail, literally. You have to keep your head down at all times, you can't even look at people,' she told the network. 'I'm afraid. I know who they are and I know what they are capable of.' 

It is not the first time the school has come into the spotlight.  

Police were called to the school in October last year when 'adult intruders' entered the school and fought with students, Mandurah Coastal Times reported.   

Education Department Deputy Director General Stephen Baxter said he became aware of the 'disturbing Instagram page' yesterday and it was reported to police. 'It's time to call out any violence - there needs to be community-wide action about changing attitudes to how people treat each other,' he said.

'Acts of violence are never acceptable and schools and the Department work hard to make sure schools are a safe place for students.  'There have been a very small number of reported fights at the College this term which suggests much of this vision is old or taken outside of school in the community.' 


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


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

Another bit of Australian: Any bad writing or messy anything was once often described as being "like a pakapoo ticket". In origin this phrase refers to a ticket written with Chinese characters - and thus inscrutably confusing to Western eyes. These tickets were part of a Chinese gambling game called "pakapoo".

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

Would you believe that there once was a politician whose nickname was "Honest"?

"Honest" Frank Nicklin M.M. was a war hero, a banana farmer and later the conservative Premier of my home State of Queensland in the '60s. He was even popular with the bureaucracy and gave the State a remarkably tranquil 10 years during his time in office. Sad that there are so few like him.

A great Australian wit exemplified

An Australian Mona Lisa (Nikki Gogan)

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."

A great Australian: His eminence George Pell. Pictured in devout company before his elevation to Rome


Alternative (Monthly) archives for this blog


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral Reef Compendium
IQ Compendium
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
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
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

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Selected reading



Rightism defined
Leftist Churches
Leftist Racism
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
What are Leftists
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Status Quo?
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism

Van Hiel
Pyszczynski et al.

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