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?


31 August, 2015

Does Australia have poor quality teachers?

In its amusing Leftist way, "New Matilda" has broached this question.  Conservative State and Federal politicians have said that the quality of teaching in Australian schools needs to be raised and this has aroused "New Matilda" ire.  So I read the characteristically long-winded article concerned right through looking for contrary evidence.  There was none. It was just a very wordy fulmination.  It was just an outpouring of rage, as one expects from Leftists. I reproduce some of it below.

Most amusing of all, they DO look at the evidence on one thing:  The policy of the last Labour government of giving every child a laptop computer.  So this wonderful Leftist idea worked wonders? No. They quite fairly point out that it did no good at all!

So are there any scholarly comments or constuctive suggestions in the article?  I can't see any.  It is just an offended shriek.

I was also amused that the two female writers confessed that they are not themselves teachers.  Leftists love "ad hominem" arguments so let me use one against them.  I taught for many years at both the secondary school and university levels and, along the way, got to see a bit about my fellow teachers.  And the unavoidable conclusion is that teacher quality is very patchy. 

And teacher training has got nothing to do with it.  Like university degrees for nurses, it may even be a negative influence.  The expansion of teacher training from one year to four has certainly not been shown to raise teaching quality.

As the "Teach for America" program has clearly shown, teachers are largely born, not made.  And born teachers are rare.  So I concur with the judgements of some of my fellow conservatives that teaching quality in our schools is often poor.

Unlike them and unlike "New Matilda", however, I have a solution that works and has been working for many years.  Teachers themselves usually decry it but the evidence has long been in.

What is needed are large class sizes so that the limited teaching talent that is available can be spread widely.  I can dig up plenty of research evidence to that effect if anybody wants it.

Teachers are the scapegoats for any shortcomings in our education system. Maurie Mulheron, the President of the NSW Teacher’s Federation, who is an actual teacher, who has taught actual students, in actual classrooms, argues that, “Many of our schools are akin to emergency wards in hospitals. No-one talks about the quality of doctors and nurses – they talk about the quality of health and the resources the hospitals need”.

Furthermore, reforms have characteristically happened to schools and teachers, rather than in collaboration with them. Funds are issued and cut upon the whim of the politician, and the syllabus, particularly Australian history, is a political plaything.

But if you ask Christopher Pyne, he will insist that a researcher once told him that “teachers are the biggest influence on student’s achievement”, and thus you do not need any more ‘resources’ aka ‘money’.

Piccoli and Pyne must be the products of exceptional maths teachers, because what they are doing is economically clever, albeit socially inexcusable. Pyne, in an article written at the beginning of the last year, argued:

“The quality of our teaching and quality of our teachers is seen as one of the important, if not most important, determinants affecting education performance…. A quality education system must be underpinned by quality teachers. The profession knows it, parents want it, our students deserve it and the nation needs it.”
Inspiring stuff. Except for the part where he says that teachers have been very bad for a while now, and despite his best efforts, he cannot sculpt a quality education system out of crappy teachers.

Apparently teachers are letting down parents, students, and, well, not to exaggerate, but the entire nation. You know how everything in the United States is Obama’s fault? Teachers are Australia’s Obama.

Can’t get a job? Thanks TEACHERS

Kicked your toe? Thanks TEACHERS

Nation goes to war? Thanks TEACHERS

If we weren’t so angry, we would almost respect Pyne’s political manoeuvre to shift all blame for everything that goes wrong onto one of the most underpaid and undervalued occupations.

It is borderline genius.

To clarify, Pyne would have us believe that it is the individuals who educate our nation’s children, who teach them to read and write, and add and subtract, and speak languages and draw, and play the bloody recorder (now THAT, they owe an apology for), and understand their bodies and sexual development, and discipline and focus, who are to blame for students’ less than exceptional results.

It is the individuals who accept the wage which may mean they can never own a home in Sydney, or claim helicopter rides on tax, or go out to fancy lunches and get drunk on Fridays, who must work harder, and study Masters and PhDs which do not necessarily correspond to more money, who need to ‘be better at your job plz’ quote Mr Pyne.

Pyne might have had a little more credibility if he had read the research correctly.

The Conversation ran an article a few years ago, which clarified that whilst teachers are the biggest in-school influence, various other school and non-school factors far outweigh the influence of teachers. Funding matters, as does socio-economic status, and available resources.

We’re no ‘Education Minister’, but we do not accept that the alleged “dumbing down” of students is a result of teacher quality.

You know what this week is, Pyne and Piccoli? It’s Book Week.

Primary School teachers all over Australia are dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. We would take your argument more seriously if you were dressed as Voldemort and Humpty Dumpty respectively. Oh, and Joe Hockey can be Robin Hood, except he steals from the poor and gives to the rich.

There is a great deal that NAPLAN cannot test. Among them is enthusiasm for learning and teacher quality.

So it’s time for Pyne and Piccoli, who have fabricated the teacher’s fall, and criticised them for not doing it all, to get all the state governments and all those Liberal men, to try and build up the teaching profession again. [How?  More money, I guess.  That's the invariant call from teacher unions.  It has never been shown to work, however]


US-style independent schools could boost grades in Australia: new report

The excerpt below is what appeared in The Brisbane Times, the Brisbane tentacle of the Fairfax hate organization.  I read the Fairfax press most days and I have yet to see one positive story about the Abbott government since it was elected.  They are fanatical.

So how come the story below is favourable to conservative ideas?  It was a mistake, apparently.  It has now been wiped from all Fairfax platforms.  CIS will no doubt publish Trish Jha's report  in due course so we will eventually see what it says anyway

US-style privately-owned public schools should be rolled out in Australia to boost academic standards, a new report by libertarian think-tank, the Centre for Independent Studies argues. Privately-run public schools, or charter schools as they are known in the US, are funded by the government and run by private entities, which have full autonomy over the schools' finances, staffing and curriculum.  The schools, which do not charge fees, could boost innovation in the sector by giving schools more freedom, and giving disadvantaged students more choice, writes the report's lead author, Trisha Ja."..

Student Fascists at a Melbourne university

Student protesters have forcibly restrained as they sought to block Education Minister Christopher Pyne from visiting a Melbourne university.

Mr Pyne arrived at the Footscray campus of Victoria University this morning to speak at its centenary celebration, from which media were barred.

About a dozen protesters scuffled with security guards and tried to block Mr Pyne's access to the building, but they were pushed aside.

Mr Pyne left about 30 minutes later in his car via a rear garage door and did not speak to reporters.

The students were reportedly protesting over Mr Pyne's proposal to deregulate university fees.


70 per cent cut in aid to Africa

The 14 African diplomatic heads of mission in Canberra have asked the Australian Government and Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee to reassess Australia's aid commitment after a 70 per cent cut in aid to Africa.

African diplomats have told SBS they don't want handouts but partnerships and funding for tertiary scholarships.

At the Australian National University the number of African students on scholarships has shrunk from 20 to 2.

Gilbert Mbipan from Cameroon is the Deputy Director in his country's Ministry of Trade. He on a study scholarship at the ANU and considers himself one of the lucky ones.

"I am here to study public policy," he said. "The scholarships are very important for the students who come to study and for their country."

"[But] The cuts have impacted on those who were supposed to come. You see so many people who really wanted to come [to Australia to study]. They did apply but they couldn't come."

Uganda's High Commissioner to Canberra Enoch Nkuruho, along with all African heads of diplomatic missions in Australia, has appealed for the cuts to be reconsidered.

"The representation was about the cutting of the budget. We appreciate the problem Australia is facing, but we still feel that Africa lost out very heavily," High Commissioner Nkuruho said.

"Cutting aid for education, reducing the scholarships is a mistake. I came to Australia on one of those scholarships and the benefit Australia has got is that they have a High Commissioner, I am working for Uganda and at the same time I am working for Australia."

Aid funds in the 2015 budget were cut overall, but funding to Africa was hit the hardest.

Ramped up during the Rudd-Gillard years in the campaign for a UN Security Council, aid to Africa peaked at $231 million and was then cut by the Abbott Government to $32 million as it focused aid spending on the Asia Pacific region.

The federal government said it stands by its decision on aid spending in Africa.


The narrowing of debate in Australia

It might not be irrelevant that Labor Senator Sam Dastyari is an Iranian.  They are a wonderfully tolerant lot in Iran, are they not?  The commentary below is from Britain

"That extraordinary shift in intolerance is something all liberals, like me, should be worried about. Gay marriage is not a liberal issue; it has a deeply illiberal streak."

So said spiked’s editor Brendan O’Neill when he appeared on Australia’s leading political discussion show Q&A last week. He didn’t need to provide an example of this illiberal streak. His fellow panellists proceeded to do that for him. How else to describe the response of *Labor Senator Sam Dastyari* to the claim of anti-gay-marriage campaigner Katy Faust that, in America, her home country, ‘[opponents of gay marriage] felt like they could not speak up’: ‘The politician in me tells me that I should be saying that while I disagree with your views, I wholeheartedly respect them but I find that very hard… This American evangelical claptrap is the last thing we need in the debate.’ He didn’t argue with her. He didn’t tolerate her beliefs. He dismissed them. And he called for their expulsion from public debate.

The clash over gay marriage, and O’Neill’s contention that its advocacy is fuelled by something profoundly intolerant, certainly caused a stir, with the Australian, ABC News and the Daily Mail, among others, all reporting on it.

But Dastyari’s attack on Faust, his bald suggestion that some people, some views, do not deserve to be heard, merely reflected the wider political- and media-class response to the oh-so-shocking deviations from the ‘gay marriage is great’ script. The Sydney Morning Herald, for instance, called Faust and O’Neill ‘the tin-foil hat brigade’, as if questioning gay marriage is akin to the belief that The Communists are using radio waves to control our brains. And O’Neill himself was waved away, with barely a nod to what he actually said, as ‘a defender of the heterosexual sponge industry’. The SMH piece went on: ‘O’Neill, a British writer whose ability to get on your nerves is so pronounced that mosquitoes must find him annoying…  like being taken hostage by an opinionated dentist… schtick… prancing shock value… ability to talk under water… he had a lesson for the ladies… a pat on the head only implied…’ As columnist Andrew Bolt said: ‘That’s not a review. It’s not an argument.  It’s just a great blast of abuse to drown out an opposing view.’

Elsewhere, the Guardian said O’Neill was ‘playing the contrarian’. Because no one could seriously be criticising gay marriage, could they? Such a comment said nothing about O’Neill, who, as spiked readers will know, is passionately serious in his politics. But the doubt-free complacency of the so-called progressive set simply cannot imagine anyone wanting to dissent from their views. Such is the blindness of the smug.

Twitter, the official echo chamber for progressive intolerance, was likewise predictably outraged. ‘Brendan O’Neill – just another extremist that would be better keeping his mouth shut’, read one tweet. ‘The sooner we [send] Brendan O’Neill and Katy Faust packing out of our country the better’, read another. Tweeters’ language ranged from the pulpit to the gutter, but the sentiment was the same: people who criticise gay marriage should be shut up, excommunicated, booted out. Their views ought to be unsayable, their beliefs heretical, their arguments silenced.

Some commentators did notice what O’Neill called this ‘illiberal streak’ to the gay-marriage debate. At the Sunshine Coast Daily, one opined, ‘the intolerance shown by those supporting marriage equality towards those with a contrary view is often uglier than the prejudice they protest’. At the Australian Financial Review another remarked, ‘when did we become such a nation of oversensitive, reactive whingers?’. Defending O’Neill and other commentators who have got into trouble in Oz recently, she said: ‘How beige our culture would be without the scandal-chasers and the shock-jocks and the cads.’ But these commentators were islands of reasonableness in a sea of frothing, sweary, often pompous, intolerance.

What this reaction to a contrary opinion on gay marriage captures is deeply troubling: a militant conformism. The parameters of public debate, the areas in which ideas and opinions can do battle, are shrinking before our eyes. A few years ago, arguing that the institution of marriage is a heterosexual institution would have been considered an unremarkable, and perfectly legitimate, view. But now this view is being pushed beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable, of what is appropriate. To defend traditional marriage today is to ask for the tweet-happy to brand ‘bigot’ across your face, turn you into a mocking meme, or just shame you back under the supposed rock from whence you crawled. Criticism of gay marriage is called hateful, discriminatory, backward. In the garb of progress, a virulent illiberalism is taking over public life, delineating what views are permissible and what views are not, what views aid the progressive cause, and what views are to be silenced.

Australia is not a trailblazer here. Throughout the Western world, the drive to institutionalise gay marriage has been shot through with authoritarianism. In France two years ago, thousands of protesters against gay marriage were dispersed by tear-gas-deploying riot police. In America, opposition to gay marriage often prompts a public ‘outing’, vilification, and sometimes job loss, as Mozilla’s co-founder Brendan Eich found to his cost in April last year – ‘purge the bigots’, urged one commentator. And in the UK, as Tim Farron, the new Lib Dem leader, and Christian, discovered, supporting gay marriage is a passport into polite political society, one which is withheld until you affirm your loyalty to the rainbow flag.

Nor is gay marriage the only issue around which strict orthodoxies are calcifying. Climate change, multiculturalism and feminism are all issues on which there is only one correct view. To be sceptical of the impact of climate change, or to challenge the censoriousness of feminism, is to incur the wrath of the right-thinking. Not that critics of the new orthodoxies are challenged on their views. Rather, they are branded – as deniers, as misogynists, indeed, as bigots. By their labels, they shall be known – and shamed.

As spiked’s editor himself put it in the Australian: ‘The response to Q&A shows that gay marriage is not a liberal issue. Rather, what we have here is the further colonisation of public life by an elite strata of society – the chattering class – and the vigorous expulsion of all those who do not genuflect to their orthodoxies.’ The right-thinking and progressive might not realise it yet, but they are at the vanguard of a new Dark Ages.


30 August, 2015

Victoria's CFMEU/Labor Police Minister on why authorities should back off from Visa checks for illegals

The farcical cancellation of random visa checks in Melbourne is the Australian Border Force’s fault, Victoria’s Police Minister says.

Wade Noonan said he was told Operation Fortitude was to be a standard police operation until the ABF’s “unfortunate and inappropriate characterisation”.

Border Force announced on Friday morning it would be “speaking to any individuals we cross paths with” in the Melbourne CBD. After online outrage about the random spot checks, the ABF clarified with “we will not stop people at random in the streets”. But it was too late to save Operation Fortitude, which was cancelled as 200 protesters swarmed Flinders Street Station and forced the press conference announcing it to be called off.

Victoria Police cancelled the operation just five hours after it was announced.  “We understand there has been a high level of community interest and concern which has been taken into consideration when making this decision,” a police statement said.

Mr Noonan said the government was told the operation would target anti-social behaviour and commuters to ensure people got home safely.

“We fully support the decision by Victoria Police to cancel the operation after the unfortunate and inappropriate characterisation by the Australian Border Force today,” Mr Noonan said.

Border Force workers told the Community and Public Sector Union they were worried about their safety and the public reaction. “They were deeply concerned at the suggestion they would be stopping all people on the street, which is not how their work has been done in the past,” union secretary Nadine Flood said.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment, referring all media enquiries to Victoria Police.

Protest organiser Ezekiel Ox said the result was a “huge win” for Melbourne, and said locals would look out for any future attempt to check visas on the streets.

“Every single person here will be doing everything they can to impose themselves on those checks, they’ll be trying to interrupt those checks,” Mr Ox told AAP on Friday.

“They’ll be making it very difficult for the Border Force to do their job.” Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the government’s over-zealous announcement of the operation was at best clumsy and at worst shambolic.

“This has been incredibly badly handled and Peter Dutton needs to immediately come clean on how this announcement was so botched,” he said in a statement.

Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt said the operation could threaten Melbourne’s reputation as a welcoming city. “How will the Border Force distinguish between locals, visitors and visa holders?” he told AAP.

Traffic and trams were held up for 30 minutes in Melbourne, before protesters stormed the gates of Flinders Street Station.


Gold Coast police brutality: Another alleged incident captured on CCTV

THERE has been an explosion of allegations of police brutality on the Gold Coast, with shocking footage emerging of a recent attack.

The Courier-Mail has obtained disturbing CCTV footage from inside the Surfers Paradise police station which shows a handcuffed Michael Cox, 29, being physically restrained and his head slammed into the tile floor.

The footage shows Mr Cox and watchhouse officer Peter Nummy talking on a bench inside the station. Both men appear relaxed. At no point does Mr Cox lunge at the officer, but moments later the footage shows Officer Nummy twist Mr Cox’s handcuffed wrist backward and slam his head into floor.

The Courier-Mail showed the footage to a former detective who questioned the officer’s use of force.

Police yesterday confirmed they were aware of the matter and that Officer Nummy had not been disciplined.

Mr Cox has lodged a claim against the Queensland Police Service for more than $100,000 for pain and suffering caused by Officer Nummy on May 4 last year.

Mr Cox was taken to the Surfers Paradise police station after he was victim to a random assault outside East Nightclub in Broadbeach.

Michael Cox is wrestled to the floor, slamming his head on a tile.
Court documents reveal Mr Cox told an officer: “I’m going mate, I just want to know that the other guy is going to get charged”, when he was asked to move on.

The male police officer then yelled: “You’re a (expletive) stupid (expletive) and I’m not your (expletive) mate” before arresting him for contravening a “move on” direction.

Mr Cox said the evening was a nightmare.  “I had to take six weeks off work because my wrist was broken,” Mr Cox said.  “If I walked down the road and broke someone’s wrist I’d be charged with assault, so why can the police get away with it?”

The revelations come as an internal review into the culture of Gold Coast police began this week, and the Crime and Corruption Commission decided no officer would be charged over another police bashing in the basement of the Surfers Paradise station.

However an accused police whistleblower faces prosecution for allegedly leaking video of the incident to The Courier-Mail.

Shine Lawyers general manager Kimberly Allen said the CCTV footage shows a handcuffed Mr Cox “did not resist his arrest or threaten or demonstrate aggression to the officers”.

The Courier-Mail can reveal solicitors across the Gold Coast have been inundated with inquiries from people who have suffered serious injuries allegedly at the hands of police.

One law firm is currently handling more than 50 excessive force claims.

Potts Lawyers director Bill Potts said his firm receives inquiries on a weekly basis from members of the public who have been “touched up” by police.


Leftist antisemitism

Anyone can be a journalist these days, as Melbourne University is proving with a new and free online course that aims to teach would-be reporters how to go about the job of keeping the public informed.

Of course, modern journalism, as defined by our tertiary institutions, requires the correct perspectives and passions, which is why one of the course’s videos  is something of an education in itself.

A mock press conference, it presents a sleazoid property developer detailing his plan to drain a marsh and build 89 new homes.

The general and obvious wisdom to be drawn:

    shifty businessmen despoil Mother Nature to line their pockets

    councils are the handmaidens of conscienceless profiteers

    shifty businessmen don’t like to answer questions

    development is bad

But they are not the only lessons Melbourne University’s Dr Margaret Simons and  Dr Denis Muller would appear to be imparting. Do notice the name of the developer in the picture atop this item, a screen grab taken from the instructional video.

To which ethno-religious group do you reckon the fictional “Mr Robert Finkelstein” might belong? Why that particular surname?

A note seeking explanation for the choice of name has been sent to Drs Simons and Muller.


Secret 'dark net' operation grabs child pornographers

Scores of children have been saved from abuse after an elaborate sting by Queensland Police led to the identification and arrest of key members of a global online sex abuse network.

The 10-month operation led to the arrests of members in Australia and around the world.

Queensland's anti-paedophile taskforce Argos targeted an internet bulletin board which had 45,000 members.

Users were ranked according to the volume and originality of the child exploitation material they uploaded to the site.

The board was hosted on the part of the internet known as the "dark net", which uses encryption software to hide identities and mask people's browsing history.

The site, the name of which remains suppressed by the South Australian District Court, was administered by an anonymous Australian. He was later unmasked as Adelaide childcare worker Shannon McCoole.

This month, the Families SA employee was sentenced to 35 years in jail for sexually abusing at least seven children in his care and for transmitting child pornography on the internet.

McCoole's victims were in state care, and were as young as 18 months old. The oldest was three. The sentencing judge at McCoole's trial described him as "evil and depraved".

He shared images and videos of his abuse of children on the site he administered.

McCoole was arrested last year after a manhunt that involved law enforcement agencies around the world.

Unusual 'hiyas' greeting key to arrests

The key breakthroughs in the case were made by Taskforce Argos which pieced together clues about McCoole's identity by cross-matching an unusual online greeting used by the childcare worker.

"He used [the greeting 'Hiyas'] on messages on the board, as a greeting to other members on the board," Taskforce Argos Victim Identification co-ordinator Paul Griffiths said.

Mr Griffiths searched for the greeting online, narrowing down a huge list of its users until he found a Facebook page and a photograph of a Volkswagen four-wheel drive utility.

"[The Facebook page] did point us in the direction of Adelaide," Mr Griffiths said.  "I actually found him asking questions online about how to raise the suspension of his four-wheel drive."

Using the visible registration plate on the 4WD, police came up with a name — Shannon McCoole. Background checks immediately rang alarm bells.

"It was evident he was working for Families SA as a family care worker," Mr Griffiths said.

"[It was] almost panic stations at that point because he's in a real position of control and access to children that we just can't allow to continue at all."

McCoole was immediately put under surveillance.  Four days after he was identified, police knocked on his door and arrested him.

Inside they found evidence — including metadata on a camera and a freckle on McCoole's finger matching one in images of abuse — that proved he was the head administrator of the global abuse site and an active sexual abuser of children in his care.

With McCoole in custody, Queensland's Taskforce Argos then activated phase two of the operation. "Phase two was to take over the network, assume control of the network, try to identify as many of the key administrators as we could and remove them," Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said.

"Ultimately, you had a child sex offender network that was being administered by police."

But Detective Inspector Rouse said there was no way his team was going to allow the sexual abuse of children to go on.  "We closed membership [of the site]. Nobody gets in. We didn't let any new membership come in. Effectively we caged the rats."

Two officers from Taskforce Argos secretly assumed the online identity of Shannon McCoole, working around the clock for 10 months to dismantle the paedophile ring and identify abusers.

"This wasn't an 8:00am-4:00pm, Monday-to-Friday operation. Even when the guys knocked off work we were all communicating outside work," Detective Inspector Rouse said.

"[Assuming the identity of a child sex offender] can mess with your head. It's not something you want to do for really long protracted periods of time. It's inordinately challenging."

Detective Inspector Rouse said the sting resulted in the identification of paedophiles around the world.  "US, Europe, United Kingdom. [It was] global," he said.

"It's testimony to the work done by the team at Argos to make sure we were working in real time with those [international] agencies to execute search warrants.

"This required us engaging with those targets in real time while law enforcement went through doors. [There were] time zone challenges, but good work by authorities across the world."

The operation has also resulted in the arrests of suspected paedophiles in Australia.  "I won't give specific numbers, but there were several in South Australia, several in Victoria and in Queensland as well," Detective Inspector Rouse said.

But the head of Taskforce Argos said the true success of the sting should not be measured in arrests alone.  "I think in terms of the identification of child victims, that's what it was all about. There were a lot of kids that are in a better place now because of what happened across the globe."


28 August, 2015

Australia's national cheese

Nobody that I know seems to have realized it but Australia has a national cheese.  We all know and love our national toast and sandwich spread -- Vegemite -- but we are, if anything, even more focused on one type of cheese.

The French would of course think of us as insane and the Brits too might be a bit scornful -- except for the fact that they too have a well-acknowledged national cheese of their own: Cheddar.

But our national cheese is far more pervasive than Cheddar. When I go into the dairy aisle of my local Woolworths supermarket there are yards of shelf space devoted to it, with other types of cheese almost totally absent.  On the very top shelf there are very small quantities of a few "foreign" cheeses: Jarlsberg, Romano, Havarti, Mascarpone etc.

So what is this remarkable cheese?  It is -- most unimaginatively -- called "Tasty". And it certainly is tasty.  Various dairies make it under their own brand but it is always identified as "Tasty".  And I for one cannot tell the product of one dairy from another.  It really is the same cheese that they are all making.  You can get it in various sized packs and you can even get it grated but Tasty it is.

When I first started work as a NSW public servant in central Sydney in 1968, I worked in a building that had a cafeteria in the basement.  We all went there to order our sandwiches, pies, Chester cakes et.

I was saddened when I visited Chester in England in 1977 and asked for a Chester cake.  I was told: "No.  We only do those on Wednesday".  They did them every day in Sydney.

Chester cakes

And if you ordered any type of a cheese sandwich from the basement cafeteria, the sandwich lady would say: "Mild or Tasty"? and point to the two trays of sliced cheese in front of her.  Even at that stage, I was surprised at the limited offering but it now seems to have become even more extreme.  Packs of "Mild" have to be searched for.  Sometimes there is only one there.

The only other offering from more than one dairy that you see is  "Colby".  That is a smoother and milder product than Tasty. After many years of eating Tasty, I am now a Colby man.  You also see "Coon" cheese but it tastes the same as a "Tasty" to me.  Perhaps I should do a blind tasting sometime.

There was at one stage a claim that "Coon" was a naughty word -- politically incorrect.  But it seems to have survived that onslaught.

And then there is the sliced cheese section.  Again Tasty dominates but a surprising thing is that the "Home Brand" stuff is unlike any of the block cheese.  It is a very mild, Cheddar-type cheese.  So if you like Cheddar cheese you have to buy it pre-sliced!

ALP leader Bill Shorten silent in the face of Leftist racism

POUR a little acid on Labor’s lies about free trade, the ­environment and same-sex marriage and the Abbott ­government’s policies shine as beacons of hope in a landscape dominated by malevolent propaganda.

With scandalous entrenched dishonesty within the trade union attack dog the CFMEU being exposed by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, Labor and its union puppeteers have responded with all the virulence and venality of a cornered rat.

That Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his acolytes have failed to check the falsehoods being promulgated by the union movement ­reflects their lack of character.

The union movement’s racist and extraordinarily xenophobic advert about the China free trade agreement plays to the historic fears of the “yellow peril” on which the formation of the ALP was based.

Opposition Senate leader Penny Wong, who has supported this campaign, must revisit her party’s history and note how relatively recently former Labor leader Arthur Calwell felt quite comfortable joking that “two Wongs don’t make a white”.

He went on to write in his 1972 memoir “and any man who tries to stigmatise the Australian community as racist because they want to preserve this country for the white race is doing our nation great harm ... I reject, in conscience, the idea that Australia should or ever can ­become a multi-racial society and survive”.

Labor played the race card before the NSW state election and it is playing it again now.

Wong, who believes same-sex marriage is the most pressing issue facing the nation, although the people must not be permitted to decide the matter, needs reminding it was the Liberal Party, not Labor, which encouraged the building of trade and cultural bridges to our Asian neighbours through the successful Colombo Plan.

This plan gave many students from around the region the opportunity to study in Australia and take home the values of our liberal democratic society — and it is the conservative government, again, not Labor, which has revisited the Colombo Plan to restore foreign ties destroyed by successive Labor governments.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was correct to point out last week that the China free trade agreement being mendaciously attacked by the historically corrupt CFMEU was supported by former NSW premier and former foreign minister Bob Carr, who said: “There will be more jobs and higher wages in Australia if the China free trade agreement goes ahead.”

“We know that the Labor Party takes the CFMEU’s money, but they should never take the CFMEU’s dictation,” Abbott told parliament.
“If they do take the CFMEU’s dictation, the ghosts of the White Australia policy will come back to haunt the Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition should make sure that the slime of an earlier age does not come back to contaminate this parliament.”

Contrary to the racist lies broadcast in the union adverts — supported by the taxpayer-funded ­national broadcaster the ABC — the Chinese free trade agreement does NOT open the doors to Chinese workers on 457 visas.

The union adverts and arguments state that (and this is from the ACTU’s website): “The FTA allows Chinese companies to bring in their own workforce for projects over $150 million and removes the requirement that jobs be offered to local workers first.”

This is an absolute falsehood designed to be a distraction from the royal commission.

Unsurprisingly, it has been swallowed by many in the Labor-aligned Canberra press gallery and the ABC’s perpetually biased Fact Check Unit.

To assist the ABC’s editor-in-chief Mark Scott with his overdue correction and apology (as if), I direct him to the protections for Australian workers spelled out in the agreement’s outlined investment ­facilitation arrangements.

They clearly state that employers must show the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that there is demonstrated labour market need, that Australians have been given the first opportunity through evidence of domestic recruitment activity (i.e. labour market testing) and there are no suitably qualified Australians available.

In addition, they must demonstrate that they are a direct employer, are lawfully operating for at least 12 months, are financially viable, have no adverse information, have had no redundancies in the past six months, and meet training requirements.

The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash has ­debunked Labor’s claims in the Senate, while pointing out that multiple ­unions have employed sub-class 457 visa holders in an act of incredible hypocrisy and ­duplicity.

Cash noted that the trade unions have been employing overseas workers as workplace relations advisers and copy-writers on 457 visas — to help orchestrate the misleading and damaging campaign against foreign labour provisions in the China Australia free trade agreement.

“Not since (Briton) John McTernan was ­employed as a communications director on a 457 visa in Julia Gillard’s office, from where we witnessed a political campaign against 457 visas, have we seen such blatant hypocrisy from the union movement,” Cash said.

Labor’s totally dishonest campaign threatens thousands of much-needed jobs which would add billions to our economy and result in higher living standards for Australians.

This is economic vandalism from an irresponsible party. The unions are expected to spew such rubbish but Shorten and Wong should know better.


Corrupt NSW prosecutors

SC Babb

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) is an absolute mess riddled with corruption. There is a drug taking culture amongst the prosecutors with has resulted in a recent arrest, the Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb SC is busily trying to cover-up their responsibility for the Sydney Siege gunman being free on bail.

Public prosecutors should be squeaky clean but only a couple of months ago senior management in the DPP office called the police to investigate the drug taking culture in the office. One has been arrested and maybe others will be:

“THE top echelon of the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions asked police to investigate its ranks fearing a drug culture was emerging among its star team of lawyers.”

“The ODPP Director’s Chambers sparked a targeted police investigation into ­alleged drug supply that has so far seen one solicitor charged with cocaine possession.”

“The solicitor, Lisa Munro, was a member of the ODPP’s elite team of lawyers, known as Group 6, which deals with high-profile cases including referrals from the Independent Commission Against Corruption.”

and “The sources said the Director’s Chambers was concerned about drug use throughout the organisation.”

It is amazing that there could be a drug culture in the Office of the DPP given these are the people who are meant to jail the drug dealers. It would also leave the prosecutors, who are drug users, open to blackmail from the criminals. I suspect a few might be up for taking bribes as well given they obviously have no respect for the law.

Ms Lisa Munro as mentioned above pleaded guilty last week to cocaine possession and will be sentenced in September.

The drug taking culture has been happening under the nose of Lloyd Babb and he has to take a large part of the responsibility for it happening.


Building industry in crisis, says Boral boss

Australia’s construction market is in a crisis that has been brewing for decades, according to Boral chief executive Mike Kane, with millions lost each year.

Mr Kane said the political controversy engulfing the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was “a real distraction” from serious issues.

Announcing a net profit rise for Boral (BLD) of 48 per cent to $257m for the financial year, Mr Kane said a union black ban was costing the company $7m each year.

Revenues at Australia’s largest building materials manufacturer fell 15 per cent to $4.41 billion, which reflected the divestment of its gypsum division into a joint venture with Chicago-based USG.

Mr Kane said Boral’s US division was profitable for the first time since 2007, with earnings of $6m after posting a $39m loss last year.

Strength in the New South Wales housing market had pushed margins higher in Boral’s construction materials and cement division, and Mr Kane said the impact of Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union action in Victoria was contained.

“We have the largest construction union in this country under the control of criminal elements who are on a campaign to create inefficiencies in our system, that are violating the law on a regular basis, that have issued a campaign against Boral,” he said.

“(It’s) designed not just to send a message to Boral but to the entire construction industry that they’re in control and the law doesn’t apply in the construction market.

“Without getting into controversy, which I think is a real distraction, I think the work of the Royal Commission is absolutely necessary for the efficient operation of construction markets in this country,” Mr Kane said.

A court in Melbourne yesterday heard underworld figure Mick Gatto had demanded $100,000 from Boral to settle a long-running dispute with the CFMEU, with the price to increase by $100,000 for every week the building materials giant did not take up the offer.

Mr Gatto has denied the allegation.

Boral is suing the CFMEU for $28 million over a two-year blockade which has pushed the company into the middle of a dispute between the union and developer Grocon.

“If the ban ended tomorrow, it would take us almost three years to recover because most of the work for the next three years has already been awarded in the Melbourne CBD,” he said.

“Our ability to get back in to the market after this illegal activity stops is a prospect of our future damages and those are being made clear to the court.

“As we sit here today the CFMEU is taking the position that no black ban has occurred nor is it continuing, they refuse to acknowledge the fact that an injunction was bought against them and they were found guilty.”

Boral shares were pushed lower when the market opened this morning, down 6 per cent to $5.90, after the company said the outlook was mixed, with continued strength needed in the Sydney market to offset depressed markets in Queensland, with subdued infrastructure work and tapering demand for construction materials for LNG projects.

Boral, which sells everything from cement to plasterboard, has been reaping the benefits from an overhaul of its business that reduced the size of its workforce and resulted in the closure of some unprofitable operations.

“We’ve improved Boral’s cost base, strengthened the balance sheet and we are managing our portfolio of businesses more efficiently,” the company told the Australian Securities Exchange.

Boral said earnings from its construction materials and cement unit, the company’s largest division, rose 9 per cent due to strength in Australian housing and higher margins for asphalt, cement and concrete products.

The Australian-listed company also reported a turnaround in its US business.

“After a protracted period of depressed market activity in the USA following the global financial crisis, Boral USA returned to profitability in fiscal-year 2015, with a positive $6 million of earnings before interest and tax,” the company said.


27 August, 2015

Homosexual propaganda  should be kept out of schools

Burwood Girls High School sent a flyer to parents last week saying all students would attend a special screening of the documentary Gayby Baby this week

BURWOOD Girls High principal Mia Kumar has failed the parents of her pupils by embracing political propagandists who have seized her school’s agenda. And Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has failed the people of NSW with his lily-livered approach to a serial offender.

Last Saturday, Miss Kumar, who, with her deputy, Karyn O’Brien, would not speak to The Daily Telegraph, not only cancelled two school periods to facilitate the screening of an overtly political documentary on homosexual parenting to all students this Friday but urged all pupils to wear purple in support of LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer).

The planned school screening of the PG-documentary Gayby Baby and the purple dress code are in clear breach of NSW Education Department guidelines as they advance the interests of a particular political group, don’t serve a curriculum objective and fail to take into account the ages of all of the students.

Instead of suspending or reprimanding Ms Kumar yesterday, Mr Piccoli told The Daily Telegraph he had “spoken to the secretary of my department and reminded her that the government expects schools to remain apolitical places and that schools must comply with all departmental policies.”

If this is the best he can do in the face of a deliberate flouting of the rules by a principal who has institutionalised a political campaign in her school’s agenda, he should be sacked.

Documentary director Maya Newell, an old girl of Burwood Girls High is a “gayby” in as much as she says she has lesbian “mums”.

Ms Kumar should tell her that she actually has only one biological mum and any other mother is adoptive.

After numerous complaints, the school belatedly told parents that their daughters may opt-out of the screening but “purple tops, pants, jackets, scarfs, shoes, jewellery and/or hair colour” was still rig of the day and the school will give a prize to the “most purple” student.

The Right Rev Mark Powell, who until July was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in NSW and the ACT, was contacted by a number of parents concerned that their daughters would be ostracised within the school community and subjected to bullying and discrimination from fellow students and some teachers if they refused to go along with the directives from Ms Kumar and Ms O’Brien

A review highlighted on the Gayby Baby website describes it as an “intrinsically political” documentary and says children of “queer” parents are being used to counter opponents of so-called marriage equality.

In the trailer, one prepubescent boy is shown applying lipstick as he says: “I don’t really know when you’re manly.” He is later shown bare-chested and pumping his fist in the mardi gras parade.

Twelve-year-old Ebony is quoted saying: “ ‘It’s not normal. You’re not normal.’ They’re the kind of things that go through my head.”

Well, Ebony, normality is the state of being usual, typical, or expected according to the Oxford Dictionary and according to the 2011 Census, there were only around 33,700 same-sex couples in Australia, with 17,600 male same-sex couples and 16,100 female same-sex couples. Same-sex couples represented about 1 per cent of all couples in Australia — which would indicate they do not meet the definition “normal”.

Children in same-sex couple families are one in a thousand of all children in couple families (0.1 per cent). Statistically, you are not in a “normal” family, no matter how many LGBTIQ-friendly docos you may be forced to watch by politically-driven school principals.

The drive to create the fantasy that homosexual families are the norm has come from the politically left-leaning Teachers Federation which is also pushing the Safe Schools Coalition, another political front group, which claims that anyone not involved in promoting safety for the “same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse young people, staff, families and communities” are bigots.

Mr Piccoli has permitted Ms Kumar to install this agenda into her curriculum. A government intent on ensuring an apolitical school system would get rid of them both.


An incompetent bureaucracy covers up with lies

AN unofficial survey by an East Timor and Iraq War veteran flatly contradicts an official $174,500 taxpayer-funded survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs that sings its praises and claims a 90 per cent satisfaction rate.

Angus Sim was on leave due to his war caused illness and fighting for his veterans payments when the DVA insisted on contacting his employer to verify that he was not being paid and was eligible for incapacity payments.

He had signed a statutory declaration swearing that he was not working so that he would be eligible for the payments months after he had ceased working and did not want DVA to inform his boss, but Canberra-based bureaucrats insisted on contacting the employer.

The employer no longer returns his calls and he fears the exposure has cost him future work.

Mr Sim suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was so outraged by his experience that he formulated his own survey of DVA clients to find out what veterans really thought about the department that allocates about $13 billion of taxpayer dollars each year.

The results from 730 respondents bear no resemblance to the official DVA 2014 client service survey of 3000 people that showed satisfaction rates of above 90 per cent and included comments such as: “Excellent service and good communications.

“They really look after people. Overwhelming — they listen so well. It’s like a family.”

Mr Sim’s survey included 41 questions and found that between 58 per cent and 73 per cent of clients under the three Veterans Acts had spent more than six months fighting for their claims.

Between 28 per cent and 54 per cent said they were “extremely unsatisfied” with DVA’s service and just three to 10 per cent said they were “extremely satisfied”.

In one of the most disturbing findings it found that between 63 per cent and 84 per cent of clients had been given conflicting information by DVA staff.

One of the worst areas was incapacity payments where between 77 per cent and 80 per cent said DVA had caused them hardship by delaying the payments.

Between 81 per cent and 94 per cent of those surveyed supported a fresh inquiry into the DVA’s treatment of veterans.

By contrast the official survey reported that 89 per cent of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with the service DVA provided and 90 per cent agreed that DVA was committed to providing a high quality service.

When News Corp questioned the credibility of publishing only positive comments from the survey DVA insisted that the, “comments published were demonstrative of resoundingly positive feedback received in the client survey.”

The Department refused to provide a detailed breakdown for “commercial” reasons of the age of respondents or a list of the questions asked by the survey company ORIMA Research.

In stark contrast with the taxpayer-funded official survey comments from Mr Sim’s respondents were far more damning.

Here is a sample; “They treat you like you are trying to get something for nothing and that you should be grateful for their ‘assistance’. 

“Woeful at best, criminally negligent if they’re honest.

“It was demeaning and enhanced my PTSD symptoms causing my family and I huge distress.”


Turnbull tells ABC to extract digit, fix ‘out of control’ Q&A programme

To appropriate an adage, many a finger is pointed in jest.  Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull may have hammed it up with Mark Scott but there was no doubt about the sincerity of the Communications Minister’s disquiet with the nat­ional broadcaster’s boss over yet another Q&A controversy.

Photo-ops aside, the minister and the ABC’s managing director may well have found the time for an exchange of views about a crude tweet shown on Monday night’s show, from a user dubbed @Abbottlovesanal.

The word from the government is “disappointment” — a sentiment that should be echoing around Mr Scott’s head too.

Yesterday’s lunch in Sydney featured a stellar corporate, media and political cast, who had gathered to promote workplace gender equality under the banner Male Champions of Change, but clearly the ABC’s workplace is not changing fast enough for the government, or the broadcaster’s boss.

The pair had first spoken about 7am when Mr Turnbull suggested Mr Scott apologise to Tony ­Abbott for a crude tweet that was broadcast on national television during Q&A. Mr Scott then texted the Prime Minister, and sent an accompanying letter, apologising for the tweet. The apology, coming so soon after the lifting of the Zaky Mallah-inspired ministerial ban on the show, was insufficient.

The Prime Minister said the ABC needed to rein in an “out of control” Q&A. “I just hope that the ABC management get on and do what they said they were going to do with that program,” he said.

“I think it is a bit out of control and I think it’s important for the ABC not just to talk about tighter management structures, tighter management control on that particular program, but actually do it.”

It is not the first time the program has had problems with live tweets. Last year, it broadcast a tweet that referred to transgender military officer Cate McGregor as “he/she”. It has also broadcast users with crude names.

Yet the show has only one ­social media manager, Ainslee Hunter, responsible for on-air tweets, video inserts and promotional materials. Senior producer Amanda Collinge has spoken in the past about her role as final ­approval moderator, supervising the twitter-feed that is broadcast.

The ABC said neither were moderating the tweets on Monday evening. Tens of thousands of #QandA tweets are sent each episode, yet there are only between two to five people who comb through the twitter feed to moderate them. The team has been told to get the tweets on air less than a minute after they are posted by the user.

The ABC has used software called TweeVee TV, which combs tweets for profanities but not the user’s handle or name.

The episode on Monday night is unlikely to be included in a review of Q&A being conducted by journalist Ray Martin and former SBS managing director Shaun Brown, but the review will examine Q&A’s live tweet function and the risks associated with it.

The Australian asked the ABC how the tweet got past social media managers, how much scrutiny there was of tweets shown on Q&A, whether there would be any improved supervision of the program, and whether the ABC was considering removing live tweets from Q&A.

“Thanks but we aren’t commenting further,” media adviser Nick Leys said.


Kevvy's back

But you can bet he won't be asking any hard questions

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has secured a return to our TV screens in place of CNN host Christiane Amanpour.

?The 57 year old Rudd, who has been head of the Asia Society's Policy Institute in New York since last October, will fill in for the eponymous host on Amanpour while the regular anchor is on leave.

He'll do just one episode, Saturday August 29 and, according to CNN, will look forward to the COP 21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in November.

On the show Rudd will interview prominent Costa Rican climate change negotiator Christiana Figueres and will also talk with indigenous TV anchor Stan Grant "about the struggles Australia is still having coming to terms with its past", according to a CNN statement.

Rudd tweeted that he also would be interviewing a guest about the "Chinese economy". Rudd's Amanpour screens on CNN at 1pm on Saturday and will be repeated at 8pm and midnight on August 29.

He has previously been a commentator on the program which is hosted by one of television's most respected journalists.


26 August, 2015

Famous trial lawyer gets a man off the hook

Argued that being present when an offence is being committed is not itself an offence.  The judge agreed

Terracini is aging but he has still got it

Terracini and his hat

"Mr Brown you are free to go".  With those words from Justice David Davies, Brian Mcgarvie Brown, stood up in the NSW Supreme Court dock and tried to walk down to the cells.

Instead, after hugging his former co-accused Michael and Wade Basanovic?, he was ushered to the courtroom door and walked outside a free man.

On Tuesday Justice Davies directed a jury of seven women and five men to find Mr Brown not guilty of the murder of senior Hells Angels member Zeljko "Steve" Mitrovic, who was shot at his transport business in Wetherill Park on the afternoon of January 15, 2013.

The jury was also directed to find him not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to one of Mr Mitrovic's employees.

The judge told the jury: "Yesterday, when you were out in the jury room for a rather long period, counsel addressed me in relation to the accused, Brian Brown.

"As a result of those addresses and my deliberations on them, I have determined there is in fact no evidence upon which you could properly convict Brian Brown."

In a statement to Fairfax Media, Mr Brown said that he was extremely happy and grateful to be found not guilty.

"I have always maintained that I had nothing to do with it and I've spent two-and-a-half years protesting my innocence.

"It's been a difficult period for me but hopefully I can get my life back together and put it all behind me."

Mr Brown was accused of being in a "joint criminal enterprise" with Michael Basanovic, 49, and his son Wade, 24, in the shooting of Mr Mitrovic.

At the beginning of the trial, Mr Brown's barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, said his client was not accused of shooting or harming anyone.

"Mere presence while a criminal offence is taking place is not enough to make you a part of a joint criminal enterprise," Mr Terracini told the jury.

The court was told Mr Brown and Michael Basanovic were part of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang until 2011. There was no evidence Wade Basanovic was involved with the gang.

The Basanovics remain on trial, and both have pleaded not guilty to murder and causing grievous bodily harm.


Censor Mark Latham?

See a magazine on the supermarket shelves that you consider offensive? Have it banned! Stumble upon a columnist whose words infuriate you? Start a petition to have them sacked!

It’s airbrushing on a whole new scale: the removal of anything to which we may personally object.

Neither of the two most recent casualties of this overenthusiastic approach to real-life Photoshopping are particularly sympathetic fixtures: Zoo Weekly and Mark Latham.

The former, a lad’s magazine of questionable editorial merit, has been pulled from the shelves at Coles after an activist group garnered 40,000 signatures on a petition calling on the major supermarkets to remove it from public view.

Meanwhile would-be PM turned professional troll Latham, a man with the dubious honour of possessing a view of women so toxic he makes the demeaning Zoo Weekly look positively enlightened, has parted ways with the Australian Financial Review.

While attention had more recently turned to the venomous nature of messages posted on a Twitter account linked to him, his regular columns have long been the source of outrage, with his repeated attacks against a number of female journalists inciting petitions demanding his dismissal.

Would the world be better off without the misogynistic ramblings of Latham or the exploitative bikini-babe pages of Zoo Weekly? In this columnist’s opinion, the answer is a firm yes.

But it’s not up to me to determine their fate — and nor should it be. As an individual consumer, I have the right to exercise my choice, and to that end I made a decision several months ago to stop reading Latham’s bile.

What greater injury could a person inflict on such a shameless attention-seeker than to ignore them? While the loss of his column is being celebrated by many, ultimately all that has been achieved is his elevation to martyrdom.

While headlines yesterday were predicting the “end to Mark Latham’s media career”, I fear his long-term prospects will be far more ominous. Instead of obscurity, the all-too-easily manipulated mob has delivered him infamy.

Earlier this year I implored those who hyperventilated on social media or started circulating a petition with each new column to simply ignore him. Without the hysteria that surrounded each pathetic new instalment, Latham would have remained nothing more than a little-read columnist in a little-read newspaper.

“Left to his own devices, he is nothing more than a washed-up, embittered has-been,” I observed.

The man himself, of course, was incensed and promptly sought refuge with Alan Jones, where the two of them commiserated on air over my terribly unkind words. In turn this was followed up with an indignant column about yours truly. So far, so predictable.

Predictable too was the outrage that continued to follow Latham in the subsequent months, with those who clamoured for him to be silenced only serving to ensure his vitriol was given far more airtime than it ever deserved.

The martyrdom of Latham is a victory of arrogance over common sense. In seeking to airbrush him from the landscape, those wielding the Photoshopping tools have all but guaranteed his survival.


Adoption advocacy

A mere 89 children were adopted from 'out-of-home care' last year. At the same time, more than 30,000 children had been in care continuously for longer than two years.

This is a proxy figure for the number of children potentially available for adoption, were adoption not officially taboo within the child protection world. Many children in long-term care have been subjected to prolonged maltreatment at home and highly damaging instability while in care (multiple entries, exits, and reentries) as endless efforts are made to preserve and reunite dysfunctional families.

The taboo reflects the complex history of adoption, including the legacy of the Stolen Generations and discredited forced adoption practices. But the tragic lessons of these episodes have been learned. Modern adoptions are 'open', meaning adopted children can have contact with birth parents and knowledge of their family and cultural heritages so they do not grow up strangers unto themselves.

A promising sign is that the debate is changing due to the growing realisation that many children would be better off having a safe and permanent adopted family for life.

Diana Bryant, the Chief Justice of the Family Court, and Megan Mitchell, the National Children's Commissioner have both expressed support of greater use of adoption for some children in care.

But there is still a long way to go. Political leadership is needed to drive cultural change in child protection authorities, but politicians are wary of supporting adoption for fear of being accused of repeating past mistakes and 'stealing' children all over again.

On controversial issues such as adoption, politicians prefer to lead in the direction the public is already prepared to head. This is why it is crucial for organisations like the CIS, and adoption advocacy groups such as Adopt Change, to lead the debate and build community support for adoption.

Adoption from care will not become a standard part of Australian child protection, as it should be, until the idea that modern, open adoption is a socially acceptable practice is embedded in the hearts and minds of the Australian public.


Excelsia College - A new force in Christian higher education

A new force in Christian higher education has relocated to Macquarie Park as the College continues its expansion and moves towards its goal of becoming Australia’s first global Christian university.

The 5,000m2 purpose-built campus is located at 69-71 Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park – with large numbers of potential students expected to show for the Open Day on Saturday 29 August 2015.

The new campus is a five minute walk from Macquarie Park railway station, with numerous bus routes available to the area, is easily accessed by car and within walking distance of one of Sydney’s foremost shopping precincts – Macquarie Centre.  It is ideal for students across Sydney. Excelsia College (previously Wesley Institute) is in joint collaboration with Indiana Wesleyan University to create a new force in Christian higher education in Australia.

“The physical campus is a clear demonstration of our momentum.  We continue to offer postgraduate degrees in teacher education, counselling and music as well as Bachelor degrees in drama and music.  

“Over the coming years we plan to expand the course offerings to new fields of study including business, arts, communications and behavioural science, all taught within a Christian framework and environment,” said Vice Chancellor for Asia-Pacific, Professor Bridget Aitchison.

"Australia is an excellent site for a global Christian university for many reasons including high standards in higher education. Another reason was the growth in demand for Christian schooling and the lack of a Protestant Christian university to allow continued study within a broad Christian framework and environment.

“The level of enquiries and interest has been heart-warming,” said Professor Aitchison.

BACKGROUND:  Excelsia College (previously known as Wesley Institute) has a joint collaboration with Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), which began in 2014 for the express purpose of achieving the goal to become Australia’s first global Christian university.

Wesley Institute has a 32 year history delivering on-campus and online degree programs.

IWU has 93 years of experience in Christ-centred higher education – currently it has 15,000 students in undergraduate and graduate degree courses, as well as innovative online courses.  

SOURCE (Press release)

25 August, 2015

Roseann Catt wins at last

A notorious case.  The evidence against her was always specious to me.  She was the victim of a crooked cop

A woman has been awarded a $2.3 million payout after she was wrongly imprisoned for a decade for the attempted murder of her husband.

Roseanne Beckett, formerly Roseanne Catt, has successfully sued the state of NSW after serving the majority of a 12-year sentence.

Justice Ian Harrison awarded the $2.3 million payout, plus legal costs, for malicious prosecution in the Supreme Court on Monday morning, 26 years to the day after her arrest, according to Nine News.

‘Victory, at long last victory,’ Ms Beckett told Nine, who was in tears on Monday morning following the judgement.

She was released in 2001 after new evidence came to light, and her conviction for soliciting the murder of her ex-husband, Barry Catt, was eventually quashed in 2005 by the Court of Criminal Appeal following a judicial inquiry into allegations she was framed.

The convictions against Ms Beckett, now dropped, claimed that she had spiked drinks in her husband's office fridge with the drugs Lithium and Rivotril, according to journalist Wendy Bacon, who closely reported on the injustice throughout the decades.

Ms Beckett and the defence has maintained since her arrest on August 24, 1989, that she had been framed and the victim of a conspiracy between her husband, his friend Adrian Newell, a key witness in her conviction, and Newcastle Detective Peter Thomas.

Ahead of the case in 1989, Mr Catt had been facing charges of assaulting Ms Beckett and had a restraining order to keep clear of the family home in Taree, regional NSW. He was also acquitted for charges of sexually assaulting their children.

Ms Bacon reported allegations that Ms Beckett's arrest had been part of a successful campaign to get Mr Catt acquitted for the charges.

The Taree woman won the right to appeal for compensation on May 8 in 2013 in the High Court in Canberra, Australia's highest court.


Vindictive Qld. police

This is a disgrace

A GOLD Coast cop who allegedly blew the whistle on the brutal bashing of a young chef in the Surfers Paradise police station basement has been hit with a serious criminal charge.

While the four officers who bashed 22-year-old Noa Begic while he was handcuffed largely escaped punishment, Sergeant Rick Flori, who is accused of leaking CCTV footage of the incident to The Courier-Mail, faces up to seven years behind bars.

Sgt Flori was formally charged with misconduct in public office after being summoned to police headquarters in Brisbane yesterday.

Mr Begic was assaulted in January 2012 after being arrested for public nuisance and obstructing police.

CCTV footage, obtained by The Courier-Mail, showed him being repeatedly punched and ground into the concrete floor with his hands cuffed behind his back.

The video also showed a senior-sergeant washing away the blood with a bucket of water.  He quit the service before any adverse findings were made by internal investigators, while the senior-constable who threw the punches was given a suspended dismissal and is back on the beat.

The other two officers involved were not disciplined.
Video of police bashing

The charges against Mr Begic were dropped and he won a confidential settlement from the Queensland Police Service.

Sgt Flori’s home was raided by Ethical Standards Command officers.

Queensland Police Union lawyer Calvin Gnech said the 25-year veteran officer had been charged with one count of misconduct in public office, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail.

Emerging from police headquarters, Sgt Flori said he had been inundated with support and was “very grateful” but could not comment further.

He is believed to have been stood down with pay and is due to face Southport Magistrates Court on July 15.

Supporter Renee Eaves, who accompanied Sgt Flori yesterday, said he had been to “hell and back” and could “absolutely” lose his job.  “It’s been an awful burden on him and his family,” she said. “People are really quite outraged.’’

Ms Eaves said Mr Begic was “still not in a good way”.

After his charges were dropped in June 2012, Mr Begic said it would be “a disgrace” if the officer who leaked the video was punished.


Reaction to Mark Latham’s colourful talk at the Melbourne Writers Festival shows us to be a nation of hypocrites

Rowan Dean writes reasonably below but Latham's main offence seems to have been his use of much foul language. And whether such language deserves free speech protection has always been a subject of debate.  "If you don't like it, walk out on it" has always been the libertarian dictum and some people did just that

IF YOU can’t be foul-mouthed at a writer’s festival, then where on earth can you be?

The uproar over Mark Latham’s diatribe at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival lays bare an uncomfortable truth about modern Australia – we have become a nation of whining, craven wimps frightened of our own shadows and terrified of our own thoughts. Worse, we have become a nation of hypocrites.

We pretend that we value free speech, but we instantly take offence at anybody who disagrees with our pre-ordained, pre-packaged, homogenised “progressive” attitudes.

Sadly, I was not in the audience to witness Mr Latham’s colourful use of our mother tongue. But had I been, I imagine it would have been the highlight of the weekend.

I’m pretty certain it would have been far more entertaining, enlightening, thought-provoking, or even enraging, than sitting through hour upon of hour of turgid drivel from authors droning on about gay marriage, climate change, and the evils of Tony Abbott.

Think I’m joking? Check out the festival website. How’s this for unintentional hilarity: “Is This How You Feel? is an exhibition of 22 handwritten letters from some of Australia’s leading climate researchers, describing how climate change makes them feel.

“Written with passion instead of in dry scientific language, the letters are powerful, heartfelt and raw.” Wow! Can’t wait for the book to come out!

Or perhaps you’d prefer to join the queue for this no doubt standing-room-only session: “How do women in media deal with the pressure to look ‘good’ and behave ‘properly’?” Er, with a mirror perhaps?

No, the purpose of good writing is to use words to inspire our deepest emotions, to provoke brave new thinking, and to always challenge the status quo.

The history of literature is all about creative people who dared to break religious and sexual taboos, to rage against the mundane, and to undermine through satire the rich and the powerful.

Writing is possibly mankind’s greatest skill, and one that has permitted our species to thrive through our ability to record our own innermost thoughts and share the lessons of our histories with those who came after us.

Which is why, alongside freedom of speech, sits freedom of expression – the right to write.

Writing captures our noblest dreams, but also our darkest nightmares.

From Shakespeare to Amis, writers have turned their talent to lewd profanities, blasphemy and causing maximum offence.

A writer’s festival, rather than an anodyne collection of minor celebrities twittering on about how they “feel”, should be an explosive and volatile combustion of the use of language to convey ideas that provoke fear, pleasure, joy, terror and sadness.

If I don’t leave a writer’s festival feeling inspired, angry, tortured, frustrated, elated and jealous, then the festival has failed me.

What we publish is of course different to what we write, being confined by defamation, but we should never forget the Duke of Wellington’s admonishment to “publish and be damned!” which, intriguingly in the light of the current Ashley Madison scandal, was in response to someone threatening to expose the Duke’s affair with his mistress.

Although I haven’t seen the transcript of his speech, I have no doubt that Mr Latham managed to offend and outrage all sorts of different people in equal measure. Good. Whether you like him or not, whether you agree with his politics or not, whether you accept his point of view or not on a whole range of issues, there is no denying Mr Latham’s skill with the pen.  He is a genuinely talented writer.

And if the one thing you learn from this festival is that a skilled writer can also be a foul-mouthed hater of things you hold precious and dear, then you have learned something valuable.

Certainly more than how to put on your lippy before reading the news.


The Greens Demolition Of Tasmania

If the Greens had their way, Tasmania would not have any industry or any economy. The Greens would prefer Tasmanians to revert back to the stone age and hunt for their food

The state election in March last year saved Tasmania from becoming an Aussie version of the Amish. They came within a whisker of existing without any meaningful business and were just about forced to re-invent the horse and cart. A 12.2 per cent swing to the Liberals meant they had the first pro-business state government in years.

With the Greens sharing power, it’s Earth Hour all year round if you want to run a business. Tasmania suffered years of neglect under a Labor/Green state goverment, and the result was loss of jobs, loss of industry, loss of standards and loss of wealth.

The Greens would like to see them scavenging for seeds and berries to eat, and trading possum pelts for a living, as long as the possums had died of natural causes first. The Federal Government should have come down hard and ruled that if the state doesn’t produce anything or earn any money, there will be no welfare available. As it stands, Tasmania has the highest number of illiterates in the country and the highest per capita of people living off a government hand out.

Tasmania is rich in minerals, it has great natural resources including fisheries and farming and tourism. It is nearly the size of England with a population of 500,000. There are 23 local councils who all fight with each other and are dominated by the Greens. It’s almost impossible to run a business. The Greens simply bring in overseas “experts” or apply to some international body to stifle any development.

The trashing of the Triabunna pulp mill and its associated port on Tassie’s east coast offers an insight into the looney Green’s tactics. The mill was purchased from Gunns in 2011 by the Wilderness Society. A Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry found the mill to be a viable business and said the purchasers had a contractual obligation to keep it running. Wilderness Society boss Alec Marr and his cronies went in and wrecked the joint.

A group of businessmen wanted to develop a tourism venture by running a cable car from the top of Mt Wellington down to Hobart and then join up with an overhead tramway that would travel around the Hobart waterfront. The tramway was to be purchased secondhand from Sydney. It would have created building jobs and permanent employment. NO! said the Greens.

It’s not only in Tasmania. The Greens are out to stop all 21st century development. Christine Milne’s solution for second airport in NSW, take a train. In Victoria, scrap the East/West Link and take a train. The same people who have prospered due to human progress now want to prohibit that from the next generation. The loopy Greens are the ‘Taliban’ of the Australian economy.

The Green voter doesn’t have the intellectual capability to understand the gravity of their policies, but is more worried about gaining favour among their urban social peers because it’s cool to vote Green. The Universities are the problem, not the solution. Almost all Leftist policies emanate from radical university lecturers. Christopher Pyne should be spending his time trying to eradicate this cancer from the teaching/lecturing mob.

The demographics are that a lot of them will have a university degree, where the ability to think and reason should be highly developed. However, there are very few of them who understand the basics of maths and economics.

Tasmanians have learnt a very painful lesson and it is doubtful they will ever hold the Greens party in the esteem they once did. Unfortunately, the inner city elite on the mainland have yet to learn that painful lesson, but eventually they will be forced to acknowledge that the socialist nirvana promised by the Greens is nothing more than a mad dreamscape.

Tasmania would like to develop a new and unique export industry – shipping off the loopy Greens to their spiritual home in North Korea.


Julie Bishop cracked heads over AusAID fraud

The list of rorts sounds like a spoof on corruption in tin-pot third-world countries, and it’s what led newly ­appointed Foreign­ Minister Julie Bishop to shake up AusAID in late 2013.

The head of Papua New Gui­nea’s Law and Justice Secretariat Program gives himself and his staff a 23 per cent pay rise without authorisation, duchesses departing workmates with over-the-top payouts, and hands out contracts to companies he owns, for a fraud of Australian taxpayer dollar aid worth about $600,000.

Nearly 200 tonnes of Australian food aid reaches famine-ravaged Somalia and is handed over to the World Food Program in Mogadishu, only to be completely looted, with the program confirming the loss two years later.

Two Australian aid payments totalling $1.6 million to set up remot­e area health clinics in the Solomons are made to a company called Joke Shipping Services, which has no ships, and whose only services are to its corrupt owners, who pocket the money.

The Australian can reveal full details of many of the individual acts of fraud and corruption by which AusAID funds went astray in recent years.

Most were never reported, in part because departmental off­ic­ers advised Ms Bishop and her predecessor, Labor’s Bob Carr, to keep them hushed up.

The handwriting on the ministerial submissions obtained by The Australian through a Freedom of Information application shows that while Mr Carr, who was then a senator, simply noted the corruption, Ms Bishop was shocked and ­demanded briefings and ­action.

The corruption in the aid program­ was one of the reasons Ms Bishop decided to terminate ­AusAID as an autonomous ­agency and bring the aid operation within her department, to ­enforce a higher standard of ­accountability.

The Foreign Minister told The Australian last November that at a briefing in October 2013, soon after the Coalition had been elect­ed to office, officials told her of “a number of fraud cases under ­investigation in the Australian aid program”. She would not disclose details of the fraud cases, she said at the time, “as investigations are ongoing’’.

The FOI application has revealed­ details of seven cases of fraud in the aid program, which took place under Labor, and how Ms Bishop brought bureaucrats to heel as a result.

In a ministerial submission, dated October 25, 2013, acting Aus­AID director-general Ewen McDonald provided Ms Bishop with AusAID’s 2012-13 Fraud Control Report, listing a number of cases of corruption.

Officials wrote that “Aus­AID’s potential losses in 2012-13 from detected fraud were $706,290”, but reassured the new minister that “levels of fraud against the aid program are low”.

In the space for ministerial comment, Ms Bishop circled the “please discuss” option on the submission, and wrote: “Need to discuss­ fraud within context of proposed benchmarks. Need to discuss overview on this — $700k lost to fraud is $700k!”

Mr Carr’s reaction was quite different when he was presented with the corresponding minister­ial submission the previous year, which involved similar amounts of taxpayers’ money lost to corruption.

He simply initialled the submission, half circling the “noted” option, and did not circle the box “please discuss”.

Another ministerial submiss­ion to Mr Carr, about the suspension of a scholarship program in Afghanistan after bribery and falsification were discovered, similarly met only with a ministerial scratch on the “noted” boxes, and his initials.

By contrast, other ministerial submissions show Ms Bishop took a keen interest in individual cases of defrauded Australian aid money. On one submission on the Afghan scholarship program corruption, dated October 2013, Ms Bishop wrote “as discussed with Ewen McDonald”.

That submission detailed how two local staff members employed by aid contractor GRM Inter­national had sought bribes from prospective scholarship students.

“In one case, a relative of one of the key suspects was awarded a scholarship on the basis of falsified documents and subsequently ­absconded on arrival in Australia,” first assistant director-general Scott Dawson wrote in the submission.

Mr Dawson had written to Mr Carr in 2012 to say that AusAID “does not recommend public comment at this stage, while the detailed ­independent fraud investig­ation is being put in place”.

In February last year, when the fraud investigation report was complete, Mr Dawson recommended it “not be publicly released”, to “avoid jeopardising possible future action against former­ GRM staff”, a suggestion Ms Bishop approved.

Ms Bishop also took an interest in the PNG Law and Justice ­Secretariat rort, writing on a minis­terial submission: “Late detection?” The fraud started in January 2011, but it was not until September 12, 2013, that AusAID director-general Peter Baxter wrote to PNG National Planning Minister Charles Abel about it.

“This is now AusAID’s largest active fraud case,” Mr Baxter wrote in his letter to Mr Abel. “We do not intend to initiate any public comment on this case. But it is an important issue on which our governments should demonstrate timely action.”

Ms Bishop also took departmental officials to task over the Joke Shipping scandal. In a ministerial submission about the Solomons fraud in November 2011, she wrote: “Not clear from brief how/by whom suspected fraud was ­detected. Please advise.”

When The Australian revealed the Solomon Islands aid heist last November, departmental spokesman Jonathan Muir denied any attempt to hush it up. But Mr Muir admitted the department did not put out a press release on the theft, and while he said it was mentioned in the department’s annual report, the only reference was one line saying “the Solomon Islands government responded swiftly to a large-scale fraud in the health sector”, with no mention that the funds were provided by AusAID.

In a confidential email about the Solomons corruption dated November 6, 2013, unearthed in the FOI documents, one departmental officer told a senior official: “This information needs to be protected due to the ongoing fraud invest­igation in Solomon Islands.”

The FOI application unearthed three other cases of Australian aid money being rorted.

In East Timor in 2012, the ­finance manager and director of a local non-governmental organ­isa­tion, Fundasaun Fatu Sinai Oecusse­, allegedly “withdrew pro­gram funds for personal use” in the amount of $44,480.

Again in PNG and in the Law and Justice program, the Correctional Services finance director in 2012 overruled a recommendation from the IT manager for the purchase of computer equipment.

He then got a quotation from a different company “that was not reputable in the computer sales ­industry”, according to the ministerial submission.

The switch “points to the ­receipt of a kickback payment”, the submission says, and the fraud was put at $91,592.

And yet again in PNG, in the HIV/AIDS Prevention Campaign, a subcontractor to NGO Family Health International “did not ­deliver an SMS campaign as per their contract”, with the fraud valued at $56,483.

Those were the cases Mr Dawson, who made the ruling on The Australian’s FOI request, agreed to release, with the documents heavily redacted.

It is not known how many other cases, if any, he suppressed.

Mr Dawson wrote in his decis­ion that some material “is exempt from disclosure as its release could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the international relations of the commonwealth”.

The department, and Ms ­Bishop, were circumspect on the outcomes of the cases, but one ministerial submission says the PNG government paid back the nearly $600,000 in money rorted by the Law and Justice Secretariat.

The funds in the East Timor rort and the PNG HIV/AIDS cases were also recovered.

Ms Bishop would only say: “In five out of the seven cases, all amounts the subject of fraud against the commonwealth have been fully recovered.

“In the remaining two cases, action is ongoing to recover the funds subject to fraud, and to prosecute offenders.”


24 August, 2015

Stop union racism, Senator tells Labor Party leader

Leftist racism is never far below the surface

CABINET minister Mathias Cormann has demanded Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pull unions into line and stop a "racist, dog-whistling" campaign against Australia's trade deal with China.

SEVERAL unions are stridently opposed to parts of the agreement they believe will allow Chinese companies to bring in cheap labour at the expense of Australian workers - something the government denies.

Senator Cormann said the "racist dog whistle against China" was contrary to Australia's national interest. "Bill Shorten clearly doesn't have the strength of character to do what needs to be done," he told Network Ten on Sunday.  "By saying nothing, he's effectively supporting this racist and dishonest union campaign against what is a very important free trade agreement for our country."

Labor wants a better explanation of the provisions under which companies can bring in workers, arguing the text of the deal does not explicitly lay out the safeguards the government says are included.  The government insists all the usual working visa "checks and balances" stay in place for work Chinese companies do in Australia under the agreement.

It stepped up the attack on Labor in parliament over the past week, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott accusing the opposition of wanting to bring back the White Australia policy.

Senator Cormann asked on Sunday why the unions were campaigning only against the China agreement, when the Abbott government had also completed trade deals with Korea and Japan.

"I suspect that the union movement is essentially just trying to take a generally protectionist approach, trying to hold back our economy in some sort of misguided view that this is better for their members," he said. "But it ain't better."


No honour in Hastie smear
Leftists would not even know what honour means.  Hate is their abiding motivation

Miranda Devine

THE upcoming Canning by-election in WA is being framed as a referendum on Tony Abbott’s leadership, so it was always going to get dirty.  But the political smear launched yesterday against Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie sets a new low,

Captain Hastie, 32, is a former SAS soldier who served three tours in Afghanistan and was recently deployed in missions against Islamic State.

In other words he is a hero, who has laid his life on the line to protect our way of life. We are lucky he has decided to continue his service by standing for parliament.

But, according to damning headlines in the Fairfax press, there is a “Question of Conduct” hanging over Hastie because he was “officer in command of a troop being investigated for chopping the hands off dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.”

Turns out Hastie was elsewhere on the battlefield at the time the alleged incident took place in 2013. But, anyway, hands are removed from enemy corpses in the middle of a battle so that fingerprint checks can identify them later.

This is the grisly reality of war.

As Neil James, executive director of the Australia Defence Association, said: “At least [Hastie] has done something important with his life before he runs for Parliament.”

Abbott-haters understandably are gnashing their teeth that the Liberals have such an admirable candidate in Hastie.  But using his war service against him is contemptible.


The real union fraud story involving Bill Shorten and Kathy Jackson. Where’s the missing $15million?

The HSU fraud saga is one of those triple backstab type situations where the corruption continues today under the watchful eye of current National President Lloyd Williams and National Secretary Chris Brown.

Put simply, Michael Williamson, Kathy Jackson, Craig Thomson and others had been involved in major fraud for years ripping off HSU members millions of dollars. Kathy Jackson decided to have a power grab and tried to oust the other crooks and thieves. Jackson had success in destroying Williamson, Thomson and a few others and for a while was hailed as a whistleblowing hero taking on union corruption.

Bill Shorten saw this and did not like it so he manoeuvred to have his own union crooks and thieves take over from Jackson. Shorten had a first go in the 2009 HSU elections and tried to oust Jackson by running a ticket headed up by Diana Asmar and supported with funding by the AWU and other unions. It failed.

In April 2012 Bill Shorten and Senator Stephen Conroy had a second go and tried to have the HSU charge Kathy Jackson for breaching Union rules. This also failed and I wrote an article at the time titled “Statutory Declarations show Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy trying to put the political hit on Kathy Jackson” (Click here to read the article)

So in May/June 2012 Bill Shorten used his position as Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations to put the HSU into administration and appoint an administrator which cut off Kathy Jackson’s cash flow and made it near impossible for her or her allies to compete in the subsequent 2012 HSU elections.

Shorten had a corrupt ex judge called Michael Moore appointed as the administrator. (Click here to read more) This is interesting as Bill Shorten is currently trying to have former High Court of Australia judge Dyson Heydon removed as head of the Trade Union Royal Commission on the basis of perceived bias. But Shorten was happy to appoint a corrupt Labor Party puppet and former Federal Court judge such as Michael Moore as administrator so he could get his crime gang on the inside of the HSU. (Declaration: Michael Moore is mentioned on the front page of my book. Click here to see)

Since then Bill Shorten’s crime gang of David Asmar, Diana Asmar, Andrew Landeryou and his wife Kimberley Kitching have been stealing everything that isn’t nailed down at the HSU Victoria Number 1 Branch. (They trade as the Health Workers Union) Kitching left last year after the Royal Commission recommended she and Diana Asmar and five others at the branch face criminal charges. (Click here to read more)

The fraud and theft that currently goes on at the HSU by Shorten’s crime gang has gone unreported besides this website and people on social media. But the Trade Union Royal Commission is investigating and Diana Asmar and Co should be back in the witness stand in a few weeks.

Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson has been called almost every name under the sun over the last few days since the $1.4million judgment against her for stealing from the Health Services Union (HSU). While most of the names such as fraudster, thief and hypocrite are fair and reasonable, credit also has to be given for Jackson’s whistleblowing as it saved millions for HSU members. If she had not blown the whistle massive fraud would be continuing by Michael Williamson and others at the HSU. Although it hasn’t stopped Bill Shorten’s crime gang.

So while Jackson should not be given the standard credit most whistleblowers receive she should get some credit.

There has been a huge effort, while the Royal Commission has been in progress, by the Labor Party and the Unions to put the focus and responsibility on Kathy Jackson for most of the Union corruption. While that might have worked at times to distract some media it won’t work at all from now given this week’s judgment against her.

It is interesting that Labor and the Unions try and use Kathy Jackson in an attempt to embarrass Prime Minister Tony Abbott because he once praised Kathy Jackson for blowing the whistle. Yet it was Bill Shorten who was long-term friends with Kathy Jackson while she ripped off the Union. Their friendship dated back to their university days and apparently continued up until 2007 when they had a falling out.


Phonics call for Australian schools

Around this time last year, a review of the Australian curriculum commissioned by the federal government called for a revision of the primary school curriculum to place greater emphasis on literacy and numeracy, particularly in the early years. It found that the curriculum did not adequately cover the essential components of effective reading instruction, especially phonics. The results of national and international testing show the consequences of less-than-exemplary instruction-unacceptably high numbers of children failing to achieve even minimal literacy and numeracy standards.

At the time, the review's recommendations were characterised as proposing a 'back to basics' curriculum, but this view is not commensurable with a closer reading of the report. Far from proposing a hollowed-out, skills-based curriculum, a large part of the review report is devoted to the importance of content - the facts, concepts and ideas that embody what it means to be well-educated.

This week, it has been reported that the draft version of the revised curriculum contains more detail about the scope and sequence of the building blocks of written language - phonemic awareness and phonics. This is a welcome development. While schools often claim to teach phonics, the existing Australian curriculum gave the impression that this was a minor aspect of early literacy teaching.

Again, this has been described as a back-to-basics approach. Or even worse, as 'drill and kill'. Yet phonics instruction is far from basic - it is highly specific and scientific, and for many children, essential. Even the most ardent phonics advocate would not suggest that phonics is all children need to be good readers. They also need a good vocabulary and good general knowledge. First you need to be able to work out what the word is, then you need to understand what it means.

At this stage it is not clear exactly how other areas of the primary curriculum might have changed.  New ACARA chair Professor Steven Schwartz has said that the revised curriculum will allow schools more 'creativity' in their teaching of subjects like history and geography. Ideally, that means that history, geography and social sciences are embedded in comprehensive literacy programs, and vice versa. Either way, it would be wrong to assume that phonics comes at the expense of knowledge


Biffo is as angry as ever

Conservatives will always thank him for making Labor unelectable under his leadership

Former Labor leader Mark Latham has again landed himself in hot water after a controversial tirade at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Commenting on an assortment of topics, Mr Latham added to the public debate surrounding his highly publicised departure last week as a columnist for the Australian Financial Review.

Mr Latham was meant to be discussing the objectivity of ex-politicans reporting on politics, but baffled the audience when he opened the session by saying: 'This is how I talk ... and if you don't like it, you can f*** off.'

'What's wrong with a bit of unfiltered conversation? And the word f*** and c***, they've been on the front page of the Australian so they've been legitimised, so let's get right into it — f***, c***, poo, bum', he continued.

The question and answer session with Mr Latham on Saturday turned ugly when event host and ABC presenter Jonathon Green asked him to confirm whether he was behind a Twitter account used to attack prominent Australians.

It was Mr Latham's first public appearance since the Twitter controversy began last week. There was wide speculation the account was behind him leaving the AFR, though the paper's editor denied it.

A number of people left during the display while others in the audience clashed with Mr Latham about his criticism of prominent women, including Rosie Batty, and the booing of Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes.

Mr Latham's appearance was laced with provocative comments.

During his rapid-fire rant, he said Labor's best bet for electoral success was to stop fighting for 'symbolic' things like marriage equality, domestic violence and indigenous recognition.

He also lashed out at the host, attacking Mr Green for reposting a critical tweet about him, calling him an 'ABC w***ker', 'deviant' and 'bigot'.

Mr Green later tweeted about the tirade, saying, 'well that escalated quickly'. Using its official Twitter account, festival organisers expressed regret for Mr Latham's outburst.


23 August, 2015

Head of Leftist outfit condemns Australia for mining coal

He calls Australia "the country that plans to ruin the world", would you believe?   His grip on reality is clearly shaky.  Like all of the Green/Left, he is amping up the hysteria to counter the 18-year LACK of any statistically significant global warming.

The Australia Institute describes itself as "the country’s most influential progressive think tank".

AUSTRALIA is the “little country that wants to ruin the world”, and it might just succeed thanks to Tony Abbott’s push to increase coal mining.

That’s the view of The Australia Institute’s chief economist Dr Richard Denniss, who says our government’s attitude to mining is “bat sh*t crazy” and warned it could undermine global efforts to stop climate change.

Speaking at an event in London, Dr Richard Denniss said government-backed plans to ramp up Australia’s coal output to more than 604 million tonnes a year was very dangerous. "To put it simply, if the world wants to tackle climate change and Australia wants to double its coal exports, someone is going to lose,” he said.  “If we succeed in our stated ambition of building mines that dwarf European cities, some countries, then there is no way we’re going to tackle climate change.”

The comments come as Kiribati’s President Anote Tong launched a global appeal to leaders and companies to support a moratorium on new coal mines ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December. It’s billed as the most significant event since the Kyoto Protocol for securing an agreement to tackle carbon emissions.

However Dr Denniss said Australia could single-handedly scupper these global efforts by putting downward pressure on prices which flood the market with cheap coal and make a transition to renewables less likely.

He said Australia’s share of the seaborne coal market is greater than Saudi Arabia’s share of global oil and “our plans are going to have consequences far beyond our borders.” “If you think Saudi Arabia doubling the oil output would put downward pressure on price, then Australia doubling coal exports would put downward pressure on price.”

“We’re a little country that plans to ruin the world and our politicians are not going to stop this.”

The Abbott government has made mining and infrastructure investment central to their economic plan with the Prime Minister saying coal is “good for humanity” and will power the world for “decades to come”.

Earlier this month Mr Abbott accused the judiciary of “sabotage” for holding up approval of the Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin after conservation groups raised concerns about native animals in the area. The massive and controversial project from Indian energy giant Adani includes plans for a mine, railway and port in the Great Barrier Reef that has been in the works for five years and is now awaiting final approval.

The government has claimed it will add 10,000 jobs to the area, though this figure has been disputed and comes at a time when the mining industry is shedding workers, losing more than 33,000 jobs between May 2014 and May 2015.

Dr Denniss said a moratorium on new mines makes good economic sense as it would keep coal prices high and prevent the “green paradox” — whereby the threat of action actually forces companies to ramp up production.

“If you owned a truck full of ice cream and the refrigerator broke, what would you do? You would drop the price and sell as much ice cream as you could. Just like Australia is planning to do.”

He also said it’s crucial Australians “get their heads around” the scale of the development and don’t hang their economic future on what many believe to be a dying industry.  “We’re an insecure country that worries about our place in the world and when big companies promise us big things it inspires a group of Australians to feel safe,” he said.


Scandal engulfing dishonest Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller driving wedge through Qld. State Government

THE scandal engulfing Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller has driven a wedge through the Palaszczuk Government with Left-wing unions demanding she remain in the ministry.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the CFMEU and ETU have flexed their muscle on the Labor caucus, demanding MPs they backed at January’s election fight any push to kick Ms Miller out of Cabinet.

“They [the Leftist unions] destroyed the Bligh government over asset sales and they’ll do it again,’’ a senior Labor source said.

A Labor-dominated Parliamentary committee this week referred Ms Miller for investigation for signing a “deliberately misleading” statement over her handling of top-secret corruption watchdog documents.

Almost 90 documents were left in a safe given to Ms Miller in her previous role as deputy chair of the Parliament Crime and Corruption Committee even though she signed a statement declaring she had destroyed or returned them.

The safe was later forwarded to Opposition MP Ann Leahy.

Nine Left-faction MPs including ministers Mark Bailey and Leanne Enoch were supported by the CFMEU and ETU in the lead-up to the poll.

Ms Miller is considered the chief spear-carrier for the powerful unions in the caucus and narrowly lost a battle to lead Labor’s Left faction against Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

According to senior Labor sources, the Police Minister’s detractors within the Left are being blamed for “throwing her under a bus” by revealing she signed the statement and referring her for investigation.

While several of the union-backed MPs have told colleagues they believe Ms Miller should resign, there are fears it could descend into retribution and threats to withdraw support.

The power play by unions has buoyed Ms Miller who is confident she will remain a minister. “They’re saying to her dig your heels in, stay. They can’t sack you,’’ a Labor source said.


Unions say Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon should stand down due to being ‘partisan against ALP’

UNION lawyers were forced into an embarrassing backflip at the Royal Commission yesterday after accusing Commissioner Dyson Heydon of deliberately releasing doctored documents.

For 12 long minutes Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union lawyer John Agius, SC, claimed an email had been released with a line deliberately deleted to hide Mr Heydon’s support of the Liberal party.

But after delivering his damning address he was forced to his feet to explain that actually the email was part of a chain, the “doctored” line had been dropped automatically and was on the original email.

The ACTU, Australian Workers Union and Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union all made applications in the Commission for Mr Heydon step down because of their alleged perception that he is biased.

Those unions have been hardest hit by the Commission’s inquiry, which has seen four arrests and 26 union members referred to 11 agencies including the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Heydon pulled out of the Sir Garfield Barwick address which is scheduled later this month and has said he did not know it was a Liberal party fundraiser. He released emails to back up his point.

Mr Agius originally claimed that said that a copy of the emails given to the union this week had an attachment for a state donation compliance form that had been deleted from the original email released by the Commissioner

He said this would make a fair minded observer have “serious concern” that the earlier email release was “at best a partial disclosure” or a “doctored document which had been edited to remove the reference to state donation.”

After a short break, Counsel assisting the Commission Jeremy Stoljar, explained the emails were the same. “There is no basis whatsoever for the serious allegation that the version of (the email) was altered or doctored in any way.”

Mr Agius blustered: “I did not make the submission that the copy was doctored or altered. I said that a fair minded observer might form that conclusion, which is a different matter.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions barrister Robert Newlinds SC quickly backed away from the serious allegations. “I want to make it clear that I do not adopt any submission to the effect that any documents have been doctored,” he said.

Mr Newlinds pulled back from suggesting that Mr Heydon was actually biased against unions.

Instead he fell back on the weaker legal argument that a “fair and reasonable observer” would believe Mr Heydon was biased for accepting an offer to speak at a Liberal lawyer organised function.

“If I can put it bluntly people don’t speak at fund raisers of a political party unless they believe in the cause of that party and they certainly don’t speak as fundraisers of a political party if they support the other side of politics,” said Mr Newlands.

Mr Newlinds repeated the union argument that “the Commission was created by the Abbott government and it has been said that it was created for purposes of hopefully damaging the Labor Party.”

He said the Commission had not been set up for the “sexy” things such as exposing crooks in the union movement but to change the laws regulating unions.

“The union stated public position and the Labor Party’s public position is that the don’t think that any law reform is necessary. They think the way they are structured is perfectly satisfactory.”

He said Mr Heydon’s perceived bias undermined any law reform. “It can’t be allowed to happen that people can just walk around after reform and say don’t worry about that report, that was old Mr Heydon and he was biased. He told us he was biased.”

Mr Heydon is expected to give his judgement on Tuesday.


Religious groups warn students will leave state schools after SRI is dumped in Left-run Victoria

Axing religious instruction from the Victorian curriculum could drive students away from state schools and into the non-government system, religious providers have warned.

The state government's announcement on Friday that special religious instruction would be moved out of regular class times from 2016 was warmly welcomed by the Australian Education Union and many public education advocates, who have long argued that the current arrangement was at odds with a secular public school system.

But chaplaincy organisation Access Ministries, the main provider of religious instruction, said the decision had eroded "equality and opportunity".

Access Ministries spokesman Rob Ward said state school parents who could not afford, or chose not to send their children to faith-based schools would suffer.

"The decision seems to emphasise secularism at the expense of faith."  He said it would lead to more parents choosing faith-based schools over state schools.

Under the changes, weekly 30-minute SRI classes will be moved to lunch time or before and after school, making way for new new content on world histories, cultures, faiths and ethics, and respectful relationship education.

United Jewish Education Board president Yossi Goldfarb said removing SRI from the curriculum could deter Jewish families from sending their children to state schools.

"I think there are certainly many Jewish families who choose a school partially because of the SRI program that is offered at the school."

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said the government had created chaos for parents and broken an election promise.

"Parents in schools across Victoria will face the prospect of juggling new and varied after-school hours pick-ups just to suit the ideological whims of Daniel Andrews."

Education Minister James Merlino said state schools would not lose enrolments.

"We've got a fantastic education system in Victoria and it's up to parents where they send their children."

Mr Merlino said it was unjustifiable to devote half an hour of the curriculum a week to only 20 per cent of primary school students.

No learning took place when SRI was provided within class time, he said.

Australian Principals Federation Victorian president Julie Podbury said it was "completely unacceptable" that her members had not been consulted about the major change to the curriculum.

"This change will cause major repercussions in some schools to school planning, staffing, programs and more importantly to relationships with community groups. These relationships have been built up over many years and are hard earned."

The number of primary school students in SRI plummeted after the state government changed its policy in 2011, requiring parents to "opt in" to the classes rather than "opt out".

Enrolments fell from 92,808 Victorian students in 2013 to 53,361 in 2014 – a 42 per cent plunge.

East Bentleigh Primary School assistant principal Sue Jackson welcomed the changes, saying they would give teachers more time to focus on an already crowded curriculum.

Ms Jackson said the primary school offered Jewish SRI to about 25 students, who have to catch up on class work after attending the religious lessons.

The school will continue offering SRI but shift it to either lunchtime or after school.

The Greens said changes to SRI did not go far enough. Greens education spokeswoman Sue Pennicuik said children needed to play, rest and socialise during lunch time, not "be cooped up in the class room doing SR."

"While the removal of SRI from formal class teaching hours is certainly a step forward, it doesn't go far enough. SRI should be removed from government schools completely."


No jab, no play in Vic childcare, kindy

PARENTS who don't believe in vaccinating their children will no longer be able to take them to childcare or kindergarten in Victoria under proposed reforms.

THE state government is introducing legislation that will require children to be fully vaccinated before such attendance is allowed.
The proposed law also closes a loophole that makes an exemption for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children on the grounds they are conscientious objectors.

Children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will remain exempt.

"What we don't accept is those who go around myth-making about the risks of vaccination," Health Minister Jill Hennessy said on Sunday.

"The public health and well-being of the broader community has to take precedence against the anti-vaccination movement."

Children not vaccinated against illnesses such as measles and whooping cough put other children and the greater community at risk, health experts say.

Despite a vaccination rate of 92 per cent for whooping cough in Victoria, the number of reported cases has increased by more than 1000 since the previous year.

"Ultimately it is a parents call in terms of how they respond, but we cannot continue to see the alarming rise in diseases like whooping cough and measles, and not respond," Ms Hennessy said.

She is confident the "no jab, no play" policy will provide an incentive for parents to make sure their children are vaccinated.


21 August, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says that our liberties are leaking away under Leftist, Greenie and Islamist attack

House prices hurting Australia and nation's policies making it worse

Increased housing prices are what must happen when a high level of immigration hits land-use rigidities.  It is time that some categories of immigration were cut back.  Australia has already done its fair share of taking "refugees" for instance.  With both Greenies and Nimbys intent on freezing land use, freeing up land for new residential construction is politically difficult. 

The explanations given below for the problem are just ignorant Leftism -- a chance to trot out their usual myths.  I note some in the text

The massive jump in the cost of buying or renting a house is having a profoundly negative impact on Australia, and policies imposed by Canberra and state governments are making the problem worse, a housing expert has warned.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday released Australia's Welfare 2015, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's latest two-yearly national welfare report card.

The detailed snapshot of the health and wellbeing of Australians found the country is doing well in education and health, although there were serious areas of inequity for some indigenous Australians, some elderly and disabled people, those with a disability and people with a mental illness.

The report also showed a big jump in the number of Australians in housing stress, with more people renting and a dramatic fall in the number of people who own their homes outright.

It found an increasing proportion of young Australians still living with their parents into their mid-20s.

The report shows the great Australian dream becoming an unattainable fantasy for more people. Australian homes are the third-least affordable of OECD countries with only New Zealand and Canada having a higher price-to-income ratio.

There has also been a big jump in the number of people either living in social housing, or on a waiting list for a place. The number of homeless Australians has jumped, with a quarter of a million Australians accessing specialist homelessness services in 2014, the report said –a 4 per cent rise in a single year.

Australia's housing market is becoming increasingly unaffordable, according to Kate Shaw, an urban geographer at Melbourne University and a planning and housing expert.

"This is not a natural consequence of the increase in living and health standards documented in the report," Dr Shaw said. "The severe unaffordability of housing in Australia is due to poor policy decisions and could have been avoided. This is not part and parcel of being a wealthy country."

In the year to July, Melbourne house prices climbed 10.2 per cent, Sydney 16.2 per cent, and national capital average prices by 9.8 per cent.

Asked which other wealthy countries around the world had avoided such dramatic house price rises in recent years, Dr Shaw said: "All of them, except perhaps Canada, which suffers from the same problems.  "The drivers there are the same – both Australia and Canada are regarded as very safe places to invest."

She said there should be better legislated protection for renters, who now make up a third of all households, and the federal government must remove tax concessions and incentives for investors. [More protection for renters will WORSEN the problem.  It must and always does]

"Specifically negative gearing and the 50 per cent discount on capital gains tax," she said.  "If these were phased out we would have billions of dollars every year to invest in affordable social, community and public housing." [And largely destroy private construction for rental.  The woman is a Leftist  ignoramus]

There was, Dr Shaw said, "A whole layer of low to medium-income housing arrangements provided in Canada and Germany and so many other places in the world that we have just completely ignored – they don't exist in Australia. And because we don't have them, it is increasing the pressure on the private rental market."

The report found that the proportion of people in rental stress, in which households pay more than one-third of their income on accommodation, rose from 35 per cent in 2007-08 to 41 per cent in 2011-12.

And it did not get much easier for mortgage payers, the report found. "Households with low to moderate incomes who manage to acquire their own homes sometimes cut back on necessities in order to meet mortgage repayments, especially in the early years." [So what else is new?]

A majority of over-65s own a home outright but the proportion has fallen from 78 per cent in 2002 to 71 per cent in 2011.

Higher living costs are associated with an increase in the rise in the rate of people working past retirement age.  The proportion of Australians aged 55-64 who have retired fell from 49 per cent to 26 per cent between 1997 and 2012–13 and from 93 per cent to 77 per cent for those aged 65 and over.

Kerry Flanagan, acting director of the AIHW, said Australians were living longer and were healthier in senior years.  "Adult participation in the labour force is higher than 20 years ago, and while some people are staying at work longer after retirement, the majority of older Australians are not using aged-care services," she said.

Ms Flanagan said other issues flagged in the report included increases in children receiving child protection services, youth unemployment and the proportion of young people who are not in employment, education or training.


Australia seeks to hobble Greenie lawfare against coal mining

Canberra plans to restrict the rights of green groups to challenge government approval of mining projects, in a move to prevent what Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, says is “endless legal sabotage” that is costing jobs.

The crackdown follows expressions of concern from India over an Australian court’s decision this month to overturn approval for Adani Mining’s A$16bn (US$12bn) Carmichael coal mine in Queensland because of its potential impact on the endangered yakka skink and ornamental snake. It marks the latest stage in a battle between the government and campaigners that accuse Mr Abbott of prioritising industrial development over environmental protection.

“Everyone wants to give the Carmichael mine in Queensland a fair go,” Mr Abbott said on Wednesday.

“They shouldn’t be subject to endless legal sabotage because the law gives green groups an unusual level of access to the courts.”

The coalition plans to table legislation in parliament to alter a law that allows campaign groups to challenge government environmental approvals for major investments. Under the proposed changes, only people directly affected by a development could challenge its approvals.

The coalition faces a battle to pass the amendments through the Senate, where it needs to draw on the support of independent senators. The opposition Labor and Green parties have said they oppose the changes.

India’s High Commissioner to Australia, Navdeep Suri, recently expressed his disappointment to Andrew Robb, Australia’s trade minister, over delays to Adani’s proposed mine. This prompted Mr Robb to warn last week that green groups’ campaign against Adani’s mine was jeopardising talks over a trade deal between Australia and India.

The Federal Court of Australia’s decision to set aside government approval for Adani followed a legal action by a local green group. It forces Australia’s environmental minister to reconsider Adani’s application to build a huge mine in the Galilee basin — one of the world’s biggest untapped coal reserves.

Adani’s mine, port and rail project has become a potent symbol of the battle between the fossil fuel industry and environmentalists, who say burning the coal reserves in the Galillee basin would cause catastrophic climate change and damage the nearby Great Barrier Reef.

Human rights groups warn that the government’s proposed legal change threatens to undermine core democratic freedoms.

“The ability to take legal action in the public interest is central to ensuring governments remain accountable. Locking particular groups out of the courts is heavy-handed and will mean that bad decisions will go unchecked and unchallenged,” said Ruth Barson, senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre.

Industry groups representing the mining sector have welcomed the government’s crackdown on environmentalists.

“Over recent years a large number of new projects and mine expansions have been subject to a calculated campaign of protests and harassment, including vexatious and incessant legal appeals lodged by a small band of extreme environmental groups,” said Brendan Pearson, chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia.

He said a BAEconomics study found that reducing project delays by one year would add A$160bn to national output by 2025 and create 69,000 jobs.

Research by the Australia Institute, a progressive think-tank, suggests third-party appeals to the Federal Court have affected just 0.4 per cent of all projects referred under the legislation.

The ruling Liberal-National coalition recently convened a parliamentary committee to consider how to strip tax privileges from environmental groups that campaign against resource projects.


Relaxed NSW prosecutors again

Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery QC  was notorious for finding reasons not to prosecute

KARL Stefanovic has slammed the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for allowing Sydney siege gunman Man Monis to walk free, despite being linked to the murder of his ex-wife.

In a blistering attack on television this morning, the Today host blasted the Crown prosecutors.

Crucial information on Man Monis was never presented to court in 2013 because staff were due to go on Christmas holidays, the Saturday Telegraph revealed last week. “Are you not disgusted by that? I was,” Stefanovic said.

The ODPP was also caught trying to hide that one of its lawyers failed to present crucial facts about Man Monis to a magistrate who freed the gunman on bail.

The lawyer acting for the ODPP had not tendered a police document containing a list of objections to Monis being bailed, including that he was a danger to witnesses, it was revealed at the Lindt Cafe siege inquest yesterday.

Man Monis went on to take hostages in the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, which resulted in the deaths of cafe manager Tori Johnson and mother and lawyer Katrina Dawson.

Homicide Detective Senior Constable Melanie Staples said the lawyer, whose name has been suppressed, admitted to her during the lunch recess he believed he had done a “terrible job” on the failed bail application at Penrith Local Court in December, 2013, when Monis was charged with organising the murder of his wife.

“Senior Constable Melanie Staples fought and fought and fought for Monis not to be granted bail then she was unfairly accused of criticising her prosecutor because she didn’t want this guy on the streets,” Stefanovic said.

“Imagine her frustration. Imagine the frustration from arresting officers.  “Imagine knowing this guy was a danger and seeing him walk. Now the crown prosecutor has serious questions to answer. “She fought as hard as humanly possible to keep this wacko behind bars and she wasn’t allowed to. Whose side are they working on?”

Lawyers for the families of Ms Dawson and Mr Johnson told State Coroner Michael Barnes the document should have been revealed earlier.

The damaging evidence involving the Crown Prosecutor emerged as Constable Staples was being “aggressively” questioned by counsel assisting the inquest, Jeremy Gormly SC, over her handling of Monis’ bail application.

Monis was charged in November 2013 for being an accessory before and after the fact to the murder of his ex-wife.

Emergency services found the body of Noleen Hayson Pal, 30, in a Werrington apartment block in April 2013.  The woman had allegedly been stabbed and set on fire.  Monis’ second wife, Amirah Droudis, was charged with her murder.

Constable Staples, the officer in charge of the investigation into the murder of Monis’ ex-wife, was accused of unfairly criticising the performance of the prosecutor to her Homicide Squad bosses after Monis was granted bail.

Mr Gormly put it to her there was nothing in the statement of facts she had prepared for the Crown Prosecutor to say police had concerns about Monis’ bail, including that he was a danger to victims or that he could flee to Malaysia.

“That was in a separate document,” Constable Staples said.

Counsel for the Office of the DPP, David Buchanan SC, stood and said legal privilege was claimed over that document as well as any mention of it in the officer’s statement.

It was the first anyone in the court had heard about the document, which was among those redacted under legal privilege in a controversial move by the DPP last week.

Counsel for Mr Johnson’s family, Gaby Bashir SC, said the existence of the “highly relevant” document would not have been revealed had Mr Gormly not asked that question in court. The Coroner found the document was not covered by privilege.

It was then revealed it also contained the information the murder had been committed while Monis was on bail for charges of sending offensive letters to the families of dead servicemen and was an associate of the Rebels bikies.

It also said the detective ­believed he should have been dealt with under the section of the 1978 Bail Act that not only had a presumption against bail but called for exceptional circumstances to be shown for bail to be granted. The magistrate had been told none of those things, nor was the document tendered to the court.


Police minister under attack at tumultuous Queensland Budget Estimates hearing

POLICE Minister Jo-Ann Miller began the final hour-long stretch of her Estimates hearing - which will focus on the police aspect of her portfolio - with a third opening statement.

“I am the police’s voice around the Cabinet table in Queensland,” she told the committee.  “I will always support our police. Our Government will always support our police. This budget... delivers on that commitment.”

Earlier, the Opposition’s interrogation of embattled Ms Miller began, but with an adjournment called within 20 minutes of proceedings commencing.

During Ms Miller’s opening statement to her Estimates hearing, in which she noted the state’s southeast prisons were collectively operating at 112 per cent capacity — she declared: “I’m very pleased to be here today, delivering on the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to keep Queenslanders safe.”

But Opposition MPs tried their utmost to change that from the outset, launching an attack almost immediately.

Former attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie — who has spent much of this term locking horns with Ms Miller — opened his question by noting that Ms Miller had been brought out of a “protection program” to face questioning.

Mr Bleijie’s first four questions, of which some were not even allowed to reach completion, were ruled out of order by committee chairman and Labor MP Mark Furner, who declared they were not relevant to the Budget.

After those four attempts — during which Mr Bleijie attempted to list Ms Miller’s blunders and detail comments made about her by others — the Member for Kawana was warned by Mr Furner under Standing Order 185.

Mr Furner then called a brief adjournment after deputy committee chairwoman and LNP member Tarnya Smith moved that the committee express no confidence in the Minister for Police.

When the committee returned from a private meeting, Mr Furner handed questioning over to Government MPs.

Mr Furner ruled there would be no public discussion of what was discussed during the private meeting.

Under friendly questioning from Government MPs, Ms Miller talked about the donation of surplus pink jumpsuit material — left over from the Newman government’s anti-bikie crackdown — and prison issues.

The hearing was adjourned for a second time after Ms Smith moved that the private deliberations during the first adjournment be made public.

Earlier, Mr Furner denied there was a “protection racket” to shield Ms Miller from Opposition questioning.

Having had his questions blocked, Mr Bleijie turned his attention to Ms Miller’s director-general David Mackie, asking questions about the types of misconduct that would have Corrections staff disciplined.

He focused on asking about what consequences a staff member would face if there was a prima facie case of them providing a misleading statement.

Earlier this week, the Labor-dominated parliamentary crime and corruption committee passed a resolution, relating to the Police Minister’s secret documents bungle, that noted that Ms Miller had signed “an incorrect statement” and was “prima facie deliberately misleading”.

Mr Ryan on more than one occasion took issue with the questions, with his points of order including complaints about the “hypothetical” nature of some.

Mr Bleijie also tried to use reported cases relating to Queensland prisons in a bid to continue his attack.  His line of questioning was again shut down by Mr Furner, before the hearing was temporarily adjourned to discuss Ms Smith’s motion.

By 4.50pm, Ms Miller had answered just three Opposition questions, along with one from crossbencher Robbie Katter.  The Opposition questions answered all related to the distribution of a political email to rural fire service members, a matter that involved Labor MP Leanne Donaldson.

At one point, Mr Furner would not allow a question to proceed until more copies were provided of a document tabled by Mr Bleijie.

Proceedings were frequently halted due to arguments over questions or standing orders.


Six months of the Palaszczuk Labor Government in Queensland reviewed

Des Houghton

QUEENSLAND, what have you done?  In electing a Labor government you have invited criminal bikies back to sell ice to your teenagers.

You have welcomed back Cabinet ministers to consort with bully-boy unions.

You have ushered in a period of confusion and instability.

We are at a ridiculous crossroad where the Katter Party holds the balance of power and has issued a set of demands.

You got it wrong Queensland when you ousted the LNP.

The only projects of note are the ones started by the previous Newman government.

Labor has politicised the public service, improperly turned away developers and jobs and pandered to the loony Greens.

Labor is repealing laws to make it easier for unions to access workplaces.

Labor is winding back tough anti-bikie laws in the name of civil liberties.

Only an ignoramus would oppose the anti-gang laws which have not only repelled bikies but has left thousands fewer homes burgled by ice addicts. Car thefts have also plummeted since the crackdown.

The nation’s Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg told it like it is on the weekend when he warned Labor not to soften the LNP’s tough laws against the outlaw gangs.

“My view is that once you create a hostile environment, and you’ve achieved what you want to achieve, unless you maintain that hostility there will be a return (of the gangs),” he said.

“I think the introduction of VLAD-type laws in Queensland, and elsewhere in Australia, has demonstrated that they have had a positive impact for enforcement on the co-ordination and organisation of outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have their heads in the sand. They are inviting the gangs to return.

Taskforce Maxima chiefs warn four major gangs — the Hells Angels, Rebels, Mongols and Bandidos — were opening clubhouses, recruiting new members and eyeing former lucrative drug markets such as the Gold Coast.

On crime, mark Labor down as a FAIL.

On job creation mark Labor down as a FAIL.

On links with bully-boy unions mark Labor down as a FAIL.

Queensland is stagnating.


20 August, 2015

A double dissolution coming up?

By Miranda Devine

SO let’s get this straight. The biggest scandal in Australia is that trade unions royal commissioner Dyson Heydon, AC, QC, did not speak at a function that was not a Liberal fundraiser.

This beat-up consumed Question Time yesterday, and has filled front pages for days.

Labor and the unions want to destroy the royal commission because it is forensically exposing their criminal extortion racket. And, with Bill Shorten due to be recalled over allegations of hundreds of thousands of dollars of employer donations and kickbacks when he was AWU leader, they face an existential emergency.

Heydon could have picked his nose and they would have turned it into an outrage. His real crime is that he’s doing his job too well.

Less straightforward is the motivation of the media salivating over Heydon’s minor transgression of not immediately reading an email attachment which advertised the $80-a-head Sir Garfield Barwick legal lecture with a Liberal party logo.

Realising the potential appearance of bias, Heydon pulled out of the lecture before the story broke, anyway. But listening to the hysteria, you’d think the Liberal Party was the Ku Klux Klan.

Every royal commissioner has personal views. What counts is that they conduct themselves with scrupulous fairness when carrying out their professional duties. Heydon, a black letter lawyer and former High Court judge, is universally regarded as impeccable on that score, and his management of the TURC has been boringly proper. Let the ACTU test their febrile allegations in the High Court and see how far they get.

No, this confected scandal is not about Heydon accepting an invitation to deliver a prestigious law lecture. It is a proxy for bringing down the Prime Minister.

Six months since the February leadership spill that wasn’t, various media grandees and Coalition strivers have hit the reset button, making up the excuse of opinion poll jitters within the margin of error and an entitlements scandal which cost Abbott loyalist Bronwyn Bishop her job, but let off worse offenders in Labor scot free.

Heydon, frankly, is a victim of the weakness of the Abbott government.

The PM talks about loyalty — to Treasurer Joe Hockey, to chief of staff Peta Credlin and the utterly graceless former Speaker. But his greater loyalty should be to the Australian people and those, like Heydon, he has called to serve.

Passivity and inaction are no longer tolerable. Abbott can’t keep being the dope on the ropes, turning the other cheek over and over, waiting for the killer blow that will finally finish him off.

His best defence is offence. It’s time to pull the circuit breaker and call a double dissolution election on industrial relations issues. With any luck, the Canning by election in WA might even be able to be postponed until then.

This week provided the perfect trigger, with Labor’s attempts to close down the trade union royal commission coinciding with the Senate’s rejection of legislation to make unions abide by the same rules as companies.


Tony Abbott wedges Bill Shorten on coal jobs

Tony Abbott has escalated his ­attack on anti-coal activists and challenged Labor to stand up for jobs, by moving to ban green groups from using the courts to stop major developments such as the Adani coalmine.

The government used the ­announcement, which would strike out the provision in environmental laws that allows green groups to challenge development consent for major projects unless they have a direct interest in the project, to declare that only the Coalition was standing up for workers.

Labor and the Greens immediately declared they would not support weakening environmental protections.

The Prime Minister said the issue was a test for the Labor Party. “Are they more interested in the politics of the green movement and are they more inter­ested in the preferences of the Greens Party or do they really care about the workers of Australia?’’ Mr Abbott said.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the government was concerned that groups with a philosophical opposition to coal were determined to delay and disrupt every coal project using protracted litigation. “It is about time the Labor Party stood up for the workers,’’ Mr Macfarlane said. “We stand up for workers. How about you guys stand up for the workers for a change.’’

Adani’s Carmichael coal project in central Queensland has proven a flash point between green activists trying to stop the development of new coalmines to limit climate change and the ­Abbott government, which has backed the development on the basis it will bring up to $31 billion in investment and create 10,000 jobs. Mr Abbott this month lashed the Federal Court action that sparked the delay in the approval of the mine, warning against ­allowing the courts to evolve into a “means of sabotaging projects’’.

Attorney-General George Brandis yesterday announced the government would remove ­Section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, the provision that he said “allowed radical green ­activists to engage in vigilante litigation to stop important economic projects’’.

The move would return legal action against projects to the common law, meaning litigants would have to have a direct interest in the case to be given standing, such as landholders affected by a resources project.

Senator Brandis said Section 487 of the EPBC Act “provides a red carpet for radical activists who have a political, but not a legal, ­interest in a development to use aggressive litigation tactics to ­disrupt and sabotage important projects’’.

The government’s move won the immediate backing of resources groups but was savaged by green groups.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Brendan Pearson said a large number of new projects and mine expansions in ­recent years had been “subject to a calculated campaign of protests and harassment, including vexatious and incessant legal appeals lodged by a small band of extreme environmental groups’’.

“If unchecked, this gaming of legal and approvals processes campaign will exact a significant toll on the Australian economy,” Mr Pearson said. “This strategy has already led to a delay in the Carmichael project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, posing a threat to 10,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investment.’’

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said the government seemed “determined to strip ­Australians of the right to legitimate legal action to protect ­nature in this country’’.

WWF-Australia chief executive Dermot O’Gorman cautioned that proposed changes to the EPBC Act “increase the risk of corruption by removing checks and balances in government decision-making’’.

Greenpeace accused the ­Abbott government of “throwing a tantrum” and said the move would “gut national environmental protection laws’’.

Mr Abbott said the Adani issue was “a setback for the reputational risk of Australia’’ and jobs were being threatened by “the militancy of the green movement led by the Mackay Conservation Group’’.

He said the group was located 600km from the mine and was represented by the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office, which was located a 13½-hour drive from the mine.

“There has been a litany of challenges against a mine that in fact is going to power up the lives of 100 million impoverished people in India,” Mr Abbott said. “It represents $20bn of investment in Australia and 10,000 new jobs in Australia. And they are real jobs for truck drivers, train drivers, electricians, engineers, mechanics and geoscientists stretching from Cairns to Mackay, Brisbane to Perth.’’

Ellen Roberts, the co-ordinator of the Mackay Conservation Group, accused the government of seeking to divert attention from its drop in the polls.

“Coal companies should not be above the law and the government should not be doing their bidding by changing the law to remove the rights of the community to have a say,’’ Ms Roberts said.

Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler and legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus declared Labor would not support weakening environmental protections or limiting a community’s right to challenge government ­decisions.

“Since being passed by the Howard government 15 years ago, the EPBC Act has been the ­overriding national environmental protection law, including throughout the mining boom — and environmental groups are ­required to operate within this law,’’ Mr Butler said.

The government had been caught out for not properly managing the approval process for the Adani mine under the act, he said.


Teacher shortfall looms with influx of Gen Y into the profession

THE NEXT generation of teachers will have little loyalty to their jobs with graduates already leaving teaching after being shocked by the profession’s high demands.

In three years, Queensland will hit a significant shortfall of teachers with mature-aged teachers retiring and generation Y teachers graduating to take their place instead, Griffith University Dean and Head of School of Education Prof Donna Pendergast warned.

But Speaking at a Making Great Teachers forum last night, Professor Pendergast said the workforce would experience a huge culture shift with the new generation of teachers.

“The teacher workforce is about to undergo a literal facelift with an influx of new, mostly Y generation teachers, many of whom will not be career teachers like their predecessors,” she said.

“(They) will engage in portfolio careers with little loyalty to employers and without the tendency to be enticed to stay put for career progression.”

She said things like the high demands of teaching, the overwhelming workload, physical and professional isolation, conflict between expectations and reality and difficult initial teaching allocations could often challenge new teachers.

Around 20 per cent of Queensland teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching with Prof Pendergast saying the number of teachers leaving might increase with the next generation.

“That might be a really good thing, having people coming into the profession and bringing energy and interest into the role,” she told The Courier-Mail.

“When they decide it’s not for them then they are prepared to go somewhere else.”

She said the incoming generations were unlikely to “wait in line” for a promotion.

Prof Pendergast said beginning teachers who were “unrealistically optimistic” when heading into the classroom could often be overwhelmed by workload and inadequate inductions.

“One of the biggest things is student behaviour and part of that is because teacher graduates aren’t familiar with children,” she said.

“Some get into schools and realise they don’t really want to be surrounded by hundreds of children.”

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said students did not always appreciate the complexities of being a teacher.

He said it was important students were given the right practical experience.  “It’s about how to teach and preparing for the curriculum, as much as it is about classroom management,” he said.

“Pre-service education is not about how to produce a completely well-rounded professional but it is about how to provide a good start to a career in education.”


Push to scrap nuclear power plant ban in Australia

A push to scrap federal laws that ban nuclear power plants in Australia is due to be voted on today, amid calls for MPs to support expanding the uranium industry ahead of the findings of a royal commission.

An amendment to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Bill was tabled in the Senate yesterday by Family First senator Bob Day.

The change would abolish section 10 of the ARPANS Act which bans construction of certain nuclear installations, including nuclear fuel fabrication plants, nuclear power plants, uranium enrichment plants, and reprocessing facilities.

Senator Day said the change was needed to position the country — and his home state of South Australia — to take advantage of a potential nuclear industry.

A royal commission is underway to investigate the state’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle, with industry invited to submit business cases for building a value-added uranium sector.

“At the moment there is a legislated blockade — you can’t even start because an act of parliament says no nuclear,” Senator Day said.

“Let’s remove the barrier. If it does become viable then South Australia needs to be well-positioned in order to take advantage of that.”

If the amendment is adopted, a licence would still be required from state and federal regulators to establish nuclear facilities.

The federal government has made a submission to the royal commission highlighting the benefits of Australia’s nuclear activities.

“Australia has a strong reputation as a global supplier of uranium for peaceful purposes and we already benefit from our nuclear research and the provision of life saving radiopharmaceuticals that help diagnose and treat serious illnesses,” Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said.

However, the government is not expected to support the change.

The current restriction under the ARPANS Act was established in 1998 after an amendment moved by the Greens, which was supported by both major parties.


Aboriginal actor Alec Doomadgee furious after "racist" airline  banned him from taking his boomerangs as carry-on luggage

He expects weapons to be allowed on a plane??

An Aboriginal cultural leader is furious after Qantas refused to let him take ceremonial boomerangs on a flight as carry-on baggage.  Alec Doomadgee, an actor, broadcaster and cultural ambassador, was stopped from taking the boomerangs on a flight while at Brisbane Airport.

He was further annoyed when they were handled by Qantas staff, who could be affected by blessing or curses placed upon the culturally important boomerangs.

Qantas Corporate Communication adviser Courtney Treak told Daily Mail Australia staff members were following standard 'dangerous goods' procedure.

Qantas had not stopped him from taking the boomerangs on the plane but asked him to place them in checked baggage rather than carry on, she said.

Mr Doomadgee said he had often travelled with the boomerangs as carry-on baggage, and had never had problems before, the Brisbane Times reported.  He ended up leaving the boomerangs with a friend as he was concerned they would be damaged in checked baggage.

Ms Treak said the Aviation Transport Security Act described a number of items prohibited from aircraft cabins, including blunt objects.

'We appreciate they are very significant items to him but at the end of the day they [staff] considered it was safer for them to be checked.'

The airline was not suggesting Mr Doomadgee would use them as weapons, Ms Treak said.

Qantas had issued a public apology, but she was not sure if Mr Doomadgee had been contacted by the airline's customer care team.  'There was never any intent to offend.'

Mr Doomadgee took to social media on Monday and Tuesday to make numerous posts about the incident, sparking much discussion on his Facebook page.

He told the Brisbane Times the incident was an example of racism in Australia - instead of 'in your face KKK sh-t', 'snide, smartass remarks'.

Ms Treak said Qantas had a number of initiatives in action involving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and the airline was committed to them. Aboriginal artwork on some Qantas planes, providing internships and trainee programmes were an example of that. 


19 August, 2015

Melbourne named world's most liveable city again, Adelaide ranked fifth

These rankings do tell something about the quality of life in the cities concerned but the differences are highly subjective.  Another ranking put Tokyo first!  Most of the raters in the present case would have been from England's Home Counties.  So it is amusing to note how similar to the Home Counties the highly rated cities are.  4 out of the top 5 were even English-speaking!  The same 4 were also in monarchies with the Queen as Head of State.  Mustn't laugh!  Definitely congenial places for English people.  But hey!  I like Melbourne too

Melbourne has been named the world's most liveable city for the fifth year in a row, achieving a near perfect score on the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) liveability survey of 140 cities.

The survey rated cities out of 100 in the areas of health care, education, stability, culture and environment and infrastructure.  Melbourne again achieved a score of 97.5, just two-and-a-half points shy of perfection.  The five most liveable cities:

    Melbourne, Australia
    Vienna, Austria
    Vancouver, Canada
    Toronto, Canada
    Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide was ranked in fifth place again with an overall rating of 96.6.

"Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density," the EIU report said.

"These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure."

Seven of the top 10 scoring cities were in Australia and Canada.

Melbourne is Australia's fastest-growing capital and the only city in the world to have won the title five consecutive times. International visits have increased by 8 per cent in that time.

While celebrating the ranking, the Victorian Government said it would "never be complacent", investing $20 billion in transport infrastructure and $5.4 billion in health and education to create a stronger economy.

"Melbourne has the best of everything and this title proves it," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.  "Perfect scores in health care, education and infrastructure, culture, environment and sport are all proof there's no place like Victoria."

Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle said he was "very proud" of the accolade.  "It is particularly pleasing in a year when the Economist Intelligence Unit notes that many cities lost ground," he said.  "We must be doing something right in our cities in this part of the world."


Australian Psychological Society uses biases and fallacies to accuse skeptics of bias and fallacies

Woolly-headed old lady leaps to the defence of something she knows nothing about

If psychologists want to be taken seriously, and want psychology to be called “a science”, they need to elect a director who knows what science is.

The Climate Study group in Australia published a half page advert in The Australian last week – Psychology and Climate Alarm: how fear and anxiety trump evidence.  See the advert here.

In reply, Prof Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the [Leftist] Australian Psychology Society wrote a letter to The Australian protesting — claiming that the Climate Study Group are the ones suffering from the confirmation bias they accuse climate scientists of.

“The advertisement, ‘Psychology and the New Climate Storm’  misuses psychology-based arguments to add credibility to myths and misinformation about climate change. In doing so, the authors illustrate aptly the very error bias (confirmation bias) they are erroneously attributing to the climate science community.”

It’s the “the pot calling the kettle black”, exclaims Littlefield. But since her arguments are entirely fallacies, this is the kettle calling the pot calling the kettle black.  The Climate Study Group mentioned many scientific observations, and in reply Lyn Littlefield can’t find an error in any of them, she can only cite “the consensus”. So instead of using a thermometer to measure the temperature, she wants to use keyword studies in abstracts of publications, and pronouncements of sub-committees of scientific associations.

Hey, it’s not like consensuses have been wrong before, or grants committees, journal editors, and scientists could possibly have any personal motivations, training deficits, or biases, right? But who would expect a psychologist to spot those…

Littlefield seems to think that scientists are robots. She talks of “vested interests” of the skeptics, but is blind to the 3500:1 ratio of funding for climate “belief”. Then she accuses skeptics of cherry picking and bias. It’s projection, projection all the way down.

The world cooled for 37 years while CO2 rose. Does that matter? No, says Lyn, the Royal Society was founded in 1662. Welcome to a conversation with a blind believer. Seriously, the good scientific psychologists need to speak up lest the fawning confused believers in their profession stay glued to the public mouth-piece. (Lucky  Jose Duarte has spoken, and Littlefield should read his blog. Where are the other good psychs?)

Littlefield wants to talk “fallacies”, so let’s take her “jumping to conclusions” fallacy and raise it. Those who jump to assume long reports from human committees are “facts” are falling for the fallacy known as “argument from authority”. Real scientists look at the data — which is exactly what the Climate Study Group did.
The danger of believing press releases — there is a reason “argument from authority” is a fallacy

Littlefield seems to think that if an association issues a statement it’s an accurate reflection of the members, but these societies almost never survey their members. Those of us who understand the psychology of groups know that most associations speak on behalf of the six most motivated volunteers who signed up for the sub-committee on Climate Thingys. (You’d think, maybe, a psychologist might know that?) It’s just another reason the scientific method does not include “opinions of associations”. We have almost no evidence of what the members opinions are because no one asked them, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because it’s not evidence about the climate. (Perhaps we should start a new society to supplant the Royal Society for people like Littlefield — maybe the Royal Gossip or the Royal Opinion?)

Lucky Professor Littlefield, director of The Australian Psychology Society, does not assess surveys for a living, eh?
Surveys show there is no consensus among scientists

For the record if Littlefield did some (any) research before writing to newspapers, she’d know there are a few surveys of scientists but they pretty much all have devastating news for naive fans of a “consensus”. Empirical data shows only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, that  52% of meteorologists think natural causes are more important and only 43% of climate scientists (fergoodnesssake) agree with the biblical certainty expressed in the IPCC. Clearly skeptics outnumber believers, but as a scientist, I’d never use that to defend my views. It all comes back to real evidence instead — observations from stuff like satellites, sediments, ice cores and boreholes.
Define “climate science denial” — is that where psychologists deny the empirical evidence?

Littlefield understands that the work “empirical” is a good word to use to sound scientific.  If only she knew about empirical climate data, instead of empirical data of online-anonymous-surveys. One sort of data matters:

 There is a growing body of empirical research into the psychology of climate science denial,  and a number of these characteristics are on display in the Climate Study Group’s  advertisement.

The Climate Study Group can back up their statements with empirical data, which unequivocally shows that the models are wrong, the hot spot didn’t appear (even according to the IPCC), the surface stopped warming when it shouldn’t have, and the warming started long before it was supposed too (1680 versus 1900). Logically the “climate science deniers” are the ones who think 28 million weather balloons don’t matter, but ten anonymous responses in a survey of unskeptical sites do.
A real discussion we need to have is about the pathetic state of psychology

Are the successful scientists and corporate directors misusing psychology, or is it the psychologists misusing psychology?

There are questions the Australian Psychology Society really need to answer. “Climate denier” is an abusive form of namecalling; does it have a place in university psychology? It defies any literal definition; no one denies we have a climate and no one denies the climate changes. There don’t appear to be any people who fit the definition. Even PhD students of psychology (like John Cook) are being encouraged to use it. Does accurate English matter in psychology?

Does Littlefield think it’s OK for psychologists to generate derogatory media headlines based on three anonymous responses? Does she think it’s useful to survey sites that are hostile to skeptics to find out what skeptics think? (Would she survey Jews in order to understand what Palestinians feel?) Is it acceptable to claim that 78,000 skeptics saw a link to a survey on a site run by a co-author that never hosted the link? Does the APS care about truth, or does the ends justify the means?

These kinds of “climate” psychology studies start from the “consensus” fallacy (despite the empirical evidence that the consensus does not exist) . Do they serve the taxpayer, or is it just a way of improving propaganda in order to bilk the public for more big-government funds?

There’s a unspoken potential vested interest here. Corporates, miners, and skeptics don’t funnel much money on the climate issue to research psychologists because they know how pointless it is. Big-government however seems happy to fund psychologists who use the money to promote their own personal political (big-government) beliefs. Does psychology suffer from its own “confirmation bias”?   Aren’t “climate” psychologists just government-funded activists in the Climate Change Scare Machine?

The evidence Littlefield either denies or is ignorant of is that the climate models depend on assumptions about feedbacks that observations have long proven to be false.

The models not only fail on global decadal scales, but on regional, local, short term, [1] [2], polar[3], and upper tropospheric scales[4] [5] too. They fail on humidity[6], rainfall[7], drought [8] and they fail on clouds [9]. The hot spot is missing, the major feedbacks are not amplifying the effect of CO2 as assumed.

 –see  the scientific references for those.

The consensus that doesn’t exist, depends on models that don’t work. Can anyone spot a problem?


Traditional marriage arrangements rejected by Greens

Australian politicians have clashed with traditional marriage advocates on ABC's Q&A, as the debate surrounding marriage equality continued to cause sparks to fly.

The fiery debate took place after an audience member asked the panel what Australia's next step in legalising same-sex marriage should be, after the Coalition government voted last week not to address the issue prior to the next election.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale got the discussion under way by accusing Prime Minister Tony Abbott of sabotaging the push for equality by using 'every tactic in the book'.

'We could have a bill before the Parliament supported by majority of parliamentarians if Tony Abbott did what he espouses and that is to respect the freedom and liberty of his own backbenchers and allow them to a free vote,' Mr Di Natale said. 'The sooner the Liberal Party change the Prime Minister, I think the country will be better for it.'

The discussion took a turn for the worse when American traditional marriage advocate Katy Faust began to list reasons why she believes marriage equality should be denied.

The controversial commentator and self-described bigot's main objection was with the alleged negative impact same-sex parents would have on their children.  'We don't want to inflict intentional motherless and fatherlessness on kids in the name of progress,' Ms Faust said, on the ABC's program.

'In (my) country, we didn't have a robust debate... It was so demonised from the beginning that anybody that supported traditional marriage was doing so based on bias or bigotry or hatred or homophobia. It totally shut it down and people felt like they could not speak up.'

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari immediately challenged Ms Faust on her comments, which he said were 'so offensive (he didn't) know where to start'.  [Would he challenge similar comments in his native Iran?]

'The politician in me tells me that I should be saying that while I disagree with your views, I wholeheartedly respect them but I find that very hard,' Mr Dastyari said.  'I find it very hard to respect a lot of your views on what you have said because I don't think it comes from a place of love. I think it comes from a place of hate.

'I worry that so much of your views stem not really with an issue with just marriage, I think some of it stems with an issue with homosexuality. You have described homosexuality as a lifestyle. You have said homosexuality drives us further away from God.

'There are people in this country who have different views on same-sex marriage. People will have the debate but we have to have it at a higher level. The American evangelical claptrap is the last thing we need in the debate.'

Mr Di Natale later took issue with Ms Faust's assertion about the harmful impact same-sex parents have on children, by saying the most important thing is a loving household and dismissing other claims as 'rubbish'.

Ms Faust shot back at the Greens leader, saying: 'Oh my, rubbish. well, it's actually not. Social science has been studying alternative family structure.'

British editor Brendan O'Neill also offered his thoughts on the debate, which focused around the alleged 'shouting down' of people who do not support marriage equality.

'Here's what freaks me out about gay marriage,' Mr O'Neill said.   'It presents itself as this kind of liberal civil-rightsy issue, but it has this really ugly intolerant streak to it.

'You really see it in this whole cake shop phenomenon... This whole thing around the western world where people are going to traditional Christian cake shops and saying to them, 'hey you, stupid Christian, make this cake for me' and if they don't they call the police.'

Mr O'Neill also went on to defend Mr Abbott's handling on the issue, saying the Prime Minister has unfairly been painted as someone from 'the Dark Ages for believing what humanity has believed for thousands of years'.

The debate comes after Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch is expected to introduce his same-sex marriage bill, seconded by Labor, into parliament on Monday, but it is not expected to be voted on.

A new poll also revealed 76 per cent want a national vote on marriage equality, according to AAP.


Academics hate the idea of competition

IT WAS Budget night 2014 and Professor Bruce Chapman, the man credited with inventing HECS, went to the lock-up fully expecting it to be a “bit of a bore”.

“When we heard the announcement about the planned policy reforms, I don’t know what the sound of what one hand clapping is, but I do know what the sound of three jaws dropping was,” Prof Chapman recalled.

Prof Chapman attended the Budget lock-up with two colleagues who had both worked in the office of former Treasurer John Dawkins, responsible for one of the biggest shake-ups of tertiary education in Australia, including the introduction of HECS. But those reforms paled in comparison to what the Federal Government proposed in 2014.

Prof Chapman, who spoke at a forum on university financing at ANU last week, said he had been modelling various parts of the university financing system for 25 years or more. The Abbott government’s plans were so radical he had never even considered them.

“(We) had never modelled any of this because we thought the likelihood of it ever happening were close to zero,” he said, calling them the “most radical suggested reforms to Australian higher education” ever.

The plan to deregulate university fees was rejected by the Senate, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he will not give up on the reforms, insisting they are necessary if Australian institutions are to flourish.

Other experts are not so sure, and one US academic is concerned Australia could do more harm than good by pressing ahead.

Despite initial support for deregulation among Australian universities, there has been more scepticism about whether student fees should be deregulated, particularly if aimed at improving Australia’s ranking on international tables.

This week it was revealed that Australia now has more than half of its public universities listed in the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities, and four universities in the top 100.

Experts at the ANU forum also expressed concerns that universities would be encouraged to chase profits rather than educate students.

Professor Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan in the US said it was unclear why the reforms were needed.

“What problem are people trying to fix?

“If the goal is to get more money — and I haven’t seen any evidence there’s insufficient funds for teaching ... it seems to be getting more funds for research ... that would cost tax dollars and people don’t want to spend money.”

During the forum Prof Dynarski provided “gory details” of the problems in the US system, which had seen student debt double between 2001 and 2011. There was now a push to implement elements of the Australian HECS/HELP system to address some of the issues.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government wants to cut university funding in Australia by 20 per cent and allow universities to make up the shortfall by deregulating student fees. Allowing universities to increase fees would also enable it to put more money into research, which is the measure largely used to rank universities.

“It seems like what would really need to happen is a more robust system for funding research, and the grown-ups should sit down and agree to that rather than dumping (the expense) on to the kids,” Prof Dynarski said.

“This place doesn’t seem to be broke so don’t try to fix it too much because you might definitely break it.”


Tasteless and ostentatious ethnic ("Wog"?) wedding under fire

How NOT to win friends and influence people. The Mehajer family are Muslims, most likely of Lebanese or North African origins

He's the cocky groom who dared authorities to investigate his 'wedding of the century' after he came under fire from irate neighbours. And now his wish has been granted.

Detectives are probing how Salim Mehajer's glitzy procession of Ferraris and Lamborghinis closed an entire western Sydney street on Saturday, police confirmed to Daily Mail Australia.

The official investigation comes amid calls for Mr Mehajer, deputy mayor of Auburn Council, to be sacked after his glitzy wedding to bride Aysha caused traffic chaos. 

The couple's elaborate ceremony was always set to grab headlines, featuring as it did a squadron of helicopters, a brigade of luxury cars and a cake nearly taller than the bride.

But since the ceremony more than 4000 people have signed a petition calling for Mr Mehajer to be ousted for 'treating the community, law and council with great disrespect'.

Lidcombe residents were irate after receiving mysterious flyers last week informing them their cars would have to be cleared from Frances St by Saturday or they would be towed at their expense.

A police spokeswoman said Flemington officers determined no approval was given for the entire road to be closed. 'The matter is under investigation,' she said.

Two fellow councillors told Daily Mail Australia questions will be asked about the road closure and other wedding matters on Wednesday evening.

'I think the council has certainly been very much damaged, the reputation of the council,' Clr Irene Simms said.  

A defiant Mr Mehajer dismissed he controversy as 'nonsense' in a radio interview on Monday morning.  'They can investigate all they like, I've got nothing to hide,' he told KIIS FM's Kyle and Jackie O program. 

He said the wedding had permits from council 'with regard to traffic control and the vehicles there'. 'However there was a number of vehicles... that exceeded the limit, which I had no control whatsoever.'

Supporters of Mr Mehajer, who was elected on an independent ticket, rallied around the Facebook page 'Let's keep Salim Mehajer at Auburn Council' on Tuesday morning. It had more than 1000 likes at time of publication.

Mehajer's groomsmen entered the classy reception on motorcycles, revving to the applause of the crowd

Mr Mehajer appeared to be in cheery spirits the first weekday after the wedding, posting a picture of himself in the shower at an apartment near Blue's Point, on Sydney Harbour, on Monday.

'Good morning to the BEST city in the world,' he crowed. But it will be some time until he and his wife leave on their honeymoon, with Mr Mehajer saying he is needed at work until December.

The ceremony began on Saturday with the groom arriving via helicopter and guests later flocking to the classy waterfront venue Le Montage overlooking Iron Cove Bay for the reception .

The highly anticipated wedding had been held off while the groom's father, Mohamed Mehajer, served out the final months of his three-and-a-half year jail sentence for attempting to cheat and defraud the National Australia Bank of $3 million, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The groomsmen were filmed entering the building to the roars of expensive motorcycles, with the bride and groom followed by upbeat drums and flashing fireworks.


18 August, 2015

Unions caught out hiring guest workers

Good old Leftist hypocrisy. They have been been energetically  opposing use of such workers by others

Unions representing some of Australia's lowest-paid workers have been caught out using imported labour, with United Voice employing nine people on 457 visas.

Two other unions - the Australian Education Union and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employee-s Association - have also hired staff on the temporary skilled work visas.

The industrial movement has long demonised the visas, including once labelling them as a "form of slavery''. Unions are seeking to scuttle the China-Australian free-trade pact because it allows for the use of 457s on large-scale projects.

It seems the union hierarchy is making use of the visas themselves, however, to hire overseas workers to fill their own jobs.

The Immigration Department has revealed that "workplace relations adviser is the most frequently- sponsored occupation'' among unions, "with the other sponsored occupations being copywriter, organisation and methods analyst, database administrator, and training and development professional''.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash told The Australian "the revelation that multiple unions have employed subclass 457 visa holders is an act of incredible hypocrisy and duplicity given the long-term campaign the union movement has waged against the 457 program''.

Most of those on union-sponsored 457 visas are from Britain and the US, with workers also coming from India, The Netherlands, Canada and Singapore, answers- to a Senate inquiry into Australia's temporary work visa programs revealed.

The average salary is $72,497, the minimum salary is $52,080 and the highest salary is $118,502.

"The occupations . targeted by unions employing overseas workers as workplace relations advisers and copywriters gives a clear insight into their double standards,'' Senator Cash said.

"On the one hand, we have -unions employing foreign workers to do the frontline agitating of Australian unions.

"Equally ironic is the employment of copywriters as 457 workers directly employed by the union movement to help orchestrate the misleading and damaging campaign- against foreign labour provisions in the China-Australia free-trade agreement.''

Unions argue the ChAFTA will allow Chinese workers to have free access to the Australian -labour market, and undercut wages and conditions, a claim the government denies.

Departmental records reveal that in the past five years, several unions, including from the Maritime Union of Australia and the Transport Workers Union, have sponsored 41 workers on 457 visas.

"It is time for the Labor opposition and union movement more generally to stop their duplicitous nonsensical campaign against foreign workers,'' Senator Cash said.

"Not since John McTernan was employed as a communications director on a 457 visa in Julia Gillard's office, from where we witnessed a political campaign against 457 visas, have we seen such blatant hypocrisy from the union movement. I call on each union to provide evidence of the labour-market testing they undertook . to demonstrate there were no Australian workers able to undertake the roles.

"Australians would find it difficult to believe there are no Australians qualified to undertake the role of workplace relations adviser or copyrighter."

In 2013, Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon accused some employers importing 457 visa workers of a "form of slavery''.

United Voice workers at Parliament House will take action today in their battle for fair pay, banning the cleaning of toilets.


PM Tony Abbott right to rain on irate rainbow parade

YOU can measure suburban grassroots support for Tony Abbott in inverse proportion to the vehemence of his opponents. And his opponents are feral at the moment on gay marriage.

Virtually with one voice the media establishment and the political class have condemned the Prime Minister for his plan to allow the public to vote on such contentious social change. Even some of his more image-conscious cabinet colleagues confidently proclaim he is on the “wrong side of history”. When have we heard this said before about Abbott?

On the republic. On climate change. On both issues he stood firm, was denigrated for it and eventually was shown to have been on the right side of history.

In the first case, a referendum on a republic was resoundingly defeated, despite elite opinion and almost every media outlet shamelessly barracking for it, and decrying Abbott, the monarchist activist, as being hopelessly out of touch.

In the second, Abbott’s defiant stand against the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme in 2009 won him the leadership of the Liberal party from Malcolm Turnbull — and subsequently an election.

Time will tell whether gay marriage will give Abbott the trifecta. But there was a clue in the overwhelming 2:1 majority in the Coalition party room — even stronger among the back bench — during Tuesday night’s marathon meeting which rejected a “free vote” — a.k.a. a “conscience vote”, a.k.a. a proxy vote — for same sex marriage.

But right now the sore losers in his government are running around briefing journalists against him or, in the case of Senator George Brandis, openly decrying a referendum.

It’s a puzzle. If the advocates of gay marriage are as confident as they claim that close to three quarters of the public is with them, then why are they so upset about the decision of the Coalition party room to allow a public vote? Either they have been lying about community sentiment or they have nothing to fear.

The only way to legitimise such a contentious and important re-engineering of the foundational institution of our society is to allow a public vote.  A democratic endorsement of gay marriage by a majority of Australians will put the matter to rest in a way a stitched-up deal by politicians with a variety of obscure motivations never will.

Turnbull, representing the third-gayest seat in the nation, is upset with the PM, because he claims a free vote would have taken gay marriage off the table so the government could get back to talking about jobs.

But the only way this debate gets off the table is if the gay marriage lobby wins. They are relentless. In the past decade there have been 16 attempts to redefine marriage, according to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. They won’t take no for an answer.

They have millions of dollars. They have the media on side. They have had a decade of funded propaganda, networking, and lawfare to prepare the ground.

Claws are still sheathed but you know their tactics will get increasingly ugly, targeting individual MPs, and branding opponents bigots and homophobes.

If you want to know how low they will go, you need look no further than Peter van Onselen’s contribution after the Coalition party room vote. The Sky news presenter declared that young homosexual Australians will “commit suicide between now and when the government finally gets its act together”.

Using suicide as a political weapon is despicable, but it’s now the official line of the Marriage Equality crowd, who say a people’s vote is “potentially dangerous”.

All the defenders of traditional marriage are asking for is a respectful, fair hearing, in which their benign advertisements are not rejected by television stations, in which bishops are not threatened with legal action for upholding Catholic teaching in Catholic schools.

A referendum to change the definition of marriage in the Constitution would resolve the issue. This binding vote would oblige the government of the day to act, one way or the other. It would also allow for equal funding of both sides of the debate. It is the option most vehemently opposed by the same-sex marriage lobby.

But if a majority of Australians and a majority of states don’t want the definition of marriage changed, what right does the political class have to override their wishes?

After all, one of the main bludgeons for change is the inevitability argument, citing polls since 2007 showing majority support for same-sex marriage has climbed to 72 per cent. What are the lobbyists afraid of?

They were cock-a-whoop when the nominally Catholic country of Ireland voted for gay marriage in a referendum, yet want to deny Australians the same opportunity.

It’s too expensive, they say. It’s unnecessary. It will cause suicides. Are they listening to themselves? The commentary is insane. On Tuesday every Coalition MP had a chance to air their views in a respectful, constructive way before the vote was taken.
What could be more democratic than that?

But the sore losers have described it as chaotic, and a threat to Abbott’s leadership. The opposite is the case.


Bill Shorten's climate-change policy a one-way ticket to energy hell

If you want to know what the lead-filled sock of fate has in store for us, look no further than Labor's -climate-change policies.

With barely one per cent of global emissions, Bill Shorten would have us mandate a share of renewable energy two times greater than that aimed at by the world's largest emitters.

The threat that poses to consumers, who would face dramatic increases in power bills, is obvious; but the mere possibility of so -irrational a policy - which would squander an amount equivalent to the sum of the budget deficits over the forward estimates - must compound the sovereign risk that is already damaging Australia's international competitiveness.

Of course, the renewables lobby has beamed with joy ever since Shorten announced that "Labor's ambition is to see 50 per cent of our electricity energy mix generated by renewable energy by 2030". And however poor renewables may be at actually generating power, that lobby's capacity to generate spurious arguments would make the sun shine at night.

We have, for example, been told that far from raising prices, the Renewable Energy Target reduces them. However, that is only true for so long as the growing stock of renewables adds to overcapacity in the National Electricity Market, forcing prices in that market down to the cash costs of keeping plants going. In addition to being inherently inefficient (since it makes no sense to aggravate a capacity glut), any benefit to consumers must be short-lived, as prices will rise once the surplus plants leave the market.

But it is even worse than that. In most markets, when supply exceeds demand, it is the highest cost suppliers who get knocked out, cushioning the price increases associated with a return to balance. In this market, however, the exact opposite is occurring, as the renewables mandate ensures the costliest capacity remains while cheaper capacity is prematurely scrapped.

That process is already apparent, with expensive renewables accounting for 98 per cent of the 1100 megawatts of capacity added last year to the NEM, while coal plants, which have low operating costs, accounted for 90 per cent of the 4500 MW that have been withdrawn or whose withdrawal has been announced.

Were the renewables target nearly doubled, as Labor proposes, the distortion would be even more severe. Quantifying the impacts involves myriad assumptions; but a reasonable estimate (derived using a model developed for the Minerals Council by electricity specialists Principal Economics) is that increasing the renewables -- target would raise the costs of power by $86 billion, which amounts to $600 per household per year.

Given that the average family has an annual electricity bill of some $1600, adding $600 is hardly trivial. Nor could anyone claim $86bn is small change for the Australian economy as a whole: not only is it more than twice this year's budget deficit, but it exceeds the total deficits forecast over the period to 2018-19.

And since any abatement it buys could be obtained far more cheaply by other means, it would be wasteful even were cutting emissions worthwhile.

However, the economic costs of Labor's proposal don't end there. After all, Shorten also intends to introduce a tax on carbon. While the details have not been released, it is clear any such scheme would disproportionately raise the costs of the coal-fired generators, accelerating their exit, and so further boosting prices. And by piling a carbon tax on top of the tax associated with the RET, it could make the distortions caused by increasing the RET even greater than the $86bn cited above.

The extent of the additional loss will depend both on the precise nature of Labor's carbon tax scheme and on its rate. But Treasury's modelling of Julia Gillard's carbon tax suggests that, given a carbon tax, the additional loss from raising the RET would (on an admittedly rough estimate) be in the order of $38bn, taking the total cost of Shorten's renewables policy well over $100bn.

Not that the renewables lobby would ever accept those figures. Rather, it argues that the cost of renewables will plummet as their share in the energy mix rises. But those arguments are hopelessly flawed.

To begin with, as the Productivity Commission found in reviewing the original modelling for the carbon tax, Australia's share of global investment in renewables is so small that any scale economies from doubling that share would reduce costs by less than one-tenth of one per cent. Moreover, far from falling, the economic costs of increasing wind capacity are likely to rise, as many of the best sites have already been taken, forcing growth to occur where transmission costs are high and capacity utilisation low and intermittent.

And with massive demand in the developing world for coal and gas plants, technological progress in fossil-fuel generation is at least as rapid as that in renewables, keeping it highly cost competitive.

Little wonder then that in the US, states such as West Virginia and Kansas have now decided to scrap their renewable energy mandates altogether, while Ohio has deferred the steady increases its law originally required. And as data from the US federal Energy Information Administration shows, electricity is 22.9 per cent more costly in those states with renewables mandates than in those without, competition to attract footloose capital and labour seems set to accelerate the trend away from compulsory targets.

Such a move would make even more sense in Australia, given our uniquely abundant resources of brown coal that is costly to transport. Those resources, and the very low power prices they allowed, have long underpinned our prosperity; by throwing what little remains of that advantage away, Shorten's policy, were it ever implemented, would be a one-way ticket to energy hell.


Aboriginal welfare innovation

BILLIONAIRE mining magnate Andrew Forrest has att-acked critics of a new cashless welfare card as useless "hand wringers and pontificators".

But one of the first WA communities to be part of its trial has raised concerns about being unfairly targeted.

Mr Forrest said the Healthy Welfare Card - an idea he created to prevent welfare recipients buying alcohol, gambling and spending money on drugs - could end the "scourge" of addiction.

"For the hand wringers and pontificators who would see our broken system for vulnerable Australians never change, please remember those who, perhaps unlike you, have been subject to the extreme pressure of drug dealers, humbug and alcohol addiction," he said.

"This presents the worst and most insurmountable barriers to education, employment, family unity and health and directly contributes to the high suicide rate and lower average age of mortality."

Legislation for a 12-month trial will be introduced to federal Parliament next week.

Kununurra and Halls Creek, in the Kimberley, are in talks with the Abbott Government about becoming trial sites after Ced-una in South Australia signed-up earlier this month.

The debit card trial has been strongly end-orsed by Aboriginal leaders, but Shire of Halls Creek president Malcolm Edwards said he wanted a guarantee the town wouldn't continue to be singled out if the trial was -successful.

Mr Edwards said an alcohol ban in place in the town since 2009 had led to sly grogging and dangerous binge drinking.

Because authorities believed it had been successful, the harsh measures have not eased.

"In principle I do support (a trial)," he said. "What I'm against is that it just remains in Halls Creek and is not expanded to the rest of the Kimberley. "That's my concern . that it's successful and then it remains for forever and a day."

Ceduna's trial would see all working-age welfare recipients get 80 per cent of their payments on a cashless debit card and 20 per cent in their existing account. It also allows aged pensioners to opt in so they won't be harassed for money.

Mr Forrest warned of the "real risk" the 20 per cent available as cash could be spent on the "debilitating harms of drugs and severe alcoholism".  He also stressed that support services were needed to help people coming off their addictions.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge, who is leading the consultations, is in advanced talks with East Kimberley leaders.

"I'd just stress that no decision has been made yet because we do want to consult further and make sure all of the key leaders have had the opportunity to express their views," Mr Tudge said.


17 August, 2015

Aborigines against homosexual marriage

Probably not a majority concern among Aborigines but impressive that some have risen to the challenge of questioning the Leftist consensus.  There is a bilious Leftist response to the petition here but even they could find no way of claiming that homosexual marriage was acceptable among Aborigines

A bark petition signed by a delegation of indigenous Australians opposing same-sex marriage has been presented to the Coalition, calling on the government to “honour the sanctity” of traditional unions.

Backed by various evangelical Christian groups and organised by anti-gay-marriage campaigner Pastor Peter Walker, the group met with the government’s leader in the Senate Eric Abetz in Canberra yesterday.

The so-called Uluru bark petition was signed by about 30 indigenous people, but claimed to represent the Aboriginal people of Australia.

“This is a cultural initiative, it is not a Christian initiative,’’ Pastor Walker said. “But you can align the two — we have the same values and agree with having traditional marriage.”

Yuminia Ken, an elder from Ernabella in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, said she wanted “proper marriage” to be maintained. “We want husband and wife, not woman to woman or man to man.”

Senator Abetz praised the group for campaigning to protect traditional marriage, which had been “proven and tested for millennia”. “We as a nation have a choice as to whether we want that which has become a fashionable item with not much proof or record behind it — at best 10 years — or that which has lasted for thousands of years.”

Community members in Mutitjulu, the main Aboriginal settlement in the shadow of Uluru, said they had never heard of the petition.

Dorothea Randall, a director of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation and long-time resident, said locals were “not even worrying about it (gay marriage)”.

Pastor Walker has previously expressed controversial views on same-sex marriage. In 2012, he reportedly told a 200-strong crowd: “I’m convinced that homosexuals (re)produce themselves by molesting children.”


Red tape strangles Australian agriculture

All is not well at the farm gate. At a time when dining is meant to be the boom to help replace mining – even iron ore tycoons Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest have got in on the act – farmers targeting the premium end are running into regulators.

In the next fortnight, wagyu beef farmer David Blackmore – whose produce takes pride of place at Neil Perry's restaurants – has to make a decision to defend his livelihood.

In late June, his local council, Murrindindi Shire, in the high country north-east of Melbourne, refused to grant him a permit to continue farming beef in a non-intensive way.

This is despite him earning the name "Mr Wagyu" in the dish's traditional market, Japan, and exporting to high-end restaurants in some 20 countries.

But Mr Blackmore, 65, said he is not fighting alone. "This is a much bigger issue that David Blackmore and Murrindindi Council," he told Fairfax Media this week.

Victoria's planning and agriculture ministers Richard Wynne and Jaala Pulford are reviewing farming zone laws after an increasing number of "treechangers" have butted heads with their farmer neighbours over smells, noises and other issues associated with agriculture practices.

"I am concerned about some recent cases where we are seeing farming families who have been on the land for generations now required to seek a permit to farm," Ms Pulford said.

In Mr Blackmore's case, it began just over five years ago when Perry invited him to a private screening of controversial US documentary, Food, Inc.

Before he watched the movie, Mr Blackmore had used feedlots – an intensive farming practice, where animals are fattened up before slaughter.

The movie, Perry said, showed the harm factory farming, combined with the low cost of corn, was doing to the US agriculture industry.

"David walked away, saying 'Gosh we have to do something about this', and hatched the plan to bring his animals out to walk on grass, lay on grass, roam the paddock and walk up to the end of the paddock to supplement feed from time to time, and run 25 cattle, where you'd normally lot feed 500," Perry said.

"That's the difference between intensive factory farming and what David is doing."

But five years after setting up his new system, Mr Blackmore was forced to apply for an intensive animal husbandry permit. Neighbours complained about his new way of farming, which he said was more intensive than traditional beef farming but on par with a dairy operation.

He also said his stocking levels – the number of cows he keeps in his paddocks – was significantly less than the previous owner's, who established the farm, which borders the Goulburn River near Alexandra about 165 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, in 1998.

The council rejected his application against advice from its planning officers and agriculture consultant Professor Roger Wrigley, who recommended Mr Blackmore's operation continue subject to a few conditions.

This raised the ire of Perry, who started an online petition at and has now attracted more 91,000 supporters.

"This absolutely should be held up as the benchmark of how supplement feed animals in Australia should be treated because it's ethical and sustainable," Perry said.

"That's why I'm so pissed off about the whole thing. He is a pioneer and creative guy but he's one of the leading farmers in the country. Essentially they don't have a box to put him in, so they put him in the intensive, factory farming box, and it's just not the case."

A retired couple who bought a lifestyle acreage, surrounded by Mr Blackmore, were among those who complained. Mr Blackmore says he doesn't blame them or anybody, instead taking issue with planning regulations.

He said rural zone policies were at odds with state and federal governments urging farmers to become more productive and adopt more efficient farming practices.

Mr Blackmore said an unintended result from shifting his cows to pasture was increasing his yield – or cattle weight gain – by about 20 per cent.

"People said I was mad when I did it, saying I could wreck a good business because the meat would become tougher because the cows would be using their muscles walking around," he said.

"But the opposite happened. The animals are content. They lay down on the grass all day, chewing their cud. In the feed lot, they'd only lay down if they were absolutely exhausted."

Cindy McLeish, the local Liberal MP representing Eildon where Mr Blackmore's farm is located, said this type of innovation should be encouraged.

Instead she said the confidence of farmers in her electorate "has certainly taken a hit".

"The farmers now question their right to farm," she said.

"People that move to [farming] areas really need to have their eyes wide open about what it means to be living next to a farm and understanding that the paddocks might be green at the moment but it's an operational farm."

The state's peak farm lobby, the Victorian Farmers Federation, has called on the government to "make sensible planning reforms to protect agricultural land".

"We are calling for ... planning schemes that encourage the growth of farm businesses, rather than stifle them with uncertainty," VFF president Peter Tuohey said.

"Farming needs to take precedence in a farming zone. While tree and seachangers may love the rolling hills and open spaces, they can't then object to the dust, smell and noise that are part of everyday life in the farming zone."

Among the VFF's recommendations to the government are scrapping planning permits for wool and beef farmers, but retaining them for piggery, feedlots and broiler chicken operations.

Mr Wynne has heard the message. "I am working with Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford's office and we are identifying problems and potential solutions for farmers," he said.

"We need to make sure the definition and interpretation of farming policy is clear – one thing farmers can be very sure of is this government's commitment to protecting their industry."

In the meantime the clock is ticking for Mr Blackmore, who is yet to decide whether he will appeal Murrindindi's Council's decision or close the gates of his farm.


Brandis defends Abbott Government, Unions Royal Commissioner

ATTORNEY-General George Brandis agrees that it was a boisterous week in parliament, but said it’s “nonsense” to say the government is in disarray.

It was a week in which Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s hand-picked Speaker was replaced, cabinet ministers openly disagreed on how the government should approach a national vote on same-sex marriage and a royal commissioner was tied to a Liberal fundraiser.

Senator Brandis insisted on Sky News this morning that it was a “good government” with professional relationships among cabinet members and ministers, but “that doesn’t mean we always agree on everything, you wouldn’t expect that to be the case”.

Royal commissioner impartiality

Senator Brandis believes the conduct of unions royal commissioner Dyson Heydon has been “unimpeachable”.

The former High Court judge was billed to deliver the 2015 Sir Garfield Barwick address later in August but pulled out last week after being told it was a Liberal Party-organised event.

“He is plainly not biased, he is not a party political person,” Senator Brandis told Sky News.

Labor and unions have been outraged that Mr Heydon considered giving a lecture at a Liberal fundraiser, calling for an end to the royal commission.

Senator Brandis retorted, saying there had been a campaign designed to smear Mr Heydon, “a person who frankly doesn’t deserve it”.

However, Labor workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor insists there is an apparent conflict of interest.

“The proceedings to date are tainted entirely from beginning to end,” he told ABC TV this morning.

Asked about possible legal action by unions against the royal commission, Mr O’Connor said: “Any affected parties before the commission have to look at their rights here.”

He said there were questions over the conduct of the commission, including inconsistent use of cross-examination and information being released to the media before it was given to affected parties.

Marriage equality decision ‘should be soon’

Attorney-General George Brandis wants the issue on how the federal government approaches a national vote on same-sex marriage decided as soon as possible.

But he’s not sure whether that will happen at tomorrow’s cabinet meeting, its first since the coalition joint party room opted for a plebiscite or referendum over a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.

“But I do ... expect that this is a decision the government should make very soon,” the senator told Sky News.

Cabinet ministers Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison have called for a referendum on same-sex marriage.

But Senator Brandis said it was not necessary because the constitution would already enable parliament to legislate for same-sex marriage, should it choose to do so.

“So the right way to test public opinion on this issue, given that it doesn’t raise a constitutional question, is to have a plebiscite,” he said.

He said the precise question will take a lot of careful thought but plebiscites are basically an “up or down, yes or no vote on a proposition”.

Victorian Greens senator Janet Rice said this was all a delaying tactic that is just putting “hurdle after hurdle and roadblock” in the way of marriage equality.

“If we had our politicians actually listening to the community and had a free and fair vote in the parliament, well then a vote would succeed,” she told ABC television.


There is a stronger case of Dyson Heydon being biased in favour of Labor then the Liberals

Bill Shorten, the Labor Party and the Unions have unloaded on the credibility of Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon demanding he resign or be sacked for actual bias and the Royal Commission should be terminated. The problem is there is no evidence to support actual bias and very little to support perceived bias.

Although it would not be strong there is better evidence to support a case that Heydon is biased in favour of the Labor Party given what some say is his kid gloves treatment of Julia Gillard. Bill Shorten and crew have also been slapped down by Labor’s own Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus who says they are not claiming any actual bias by Dyson Heydon. This starts to paint the true picture of the desperation of Shorten, Labor and the Unions.

The alleged reason for the attack on Dyson Heydon is that he was invited to give a talk at a Liberal Party function for lawyers. This was reported by Fairfax Media on Thursday (13/8/15). (Click here to read more) An hour or so after the story was published Dyson Heydon issued a statement that he would not be attending the function. He also released emails that show he said he would not attend the function if it could be construed as a Liberal Party function. No real damage done.

The Labor Party and Unions have been busy telling lies saying this shows actual bias by Dyson Heydon which it clearly does not. At least one Labor politician said in the media Heydon went to the Liberal Party function which is also a lie because it is not scheduled for another 10 days on the 26th of August.

The below video shows federal MP Tony Burke saying that Commissioner Heydon is “biased and conflicted” and needs to stand down or be sacked. Then it shows Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus contradicting Burke and saying “it is not being suggested that Dyson Heydon is actually biased”. That made both of them look stupid. It is worth watching for the look on Tony Burke’s and Tanya Plibersek’s faces as they are sitting directly behind Dreyfus when he says it.

Shorten needs to prove the bias

At this point Bill Shorten and the Unions have failed to produce any evidence of actual bias by Dyson Heydon yet have been happy to defame him in the media and say he is biased. But Bill Shorten is happy to defame Heydon as my last post shows.

The ACTU and others are threatening legal action if Dyson Heydon does not resign which has boxed themselves in. Because if Heydon and the federal government stand their ground which I expect they will then the ACTU will have to take legal action or shut up.

The ACTU is calling on Tony Abbott to immediately terminate the Royal Commission into trade unions given the appearance of bias by Justice Dyson Heydon’s acceptance of a guest speaker role at a Liberal Party fundraiser.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver and President Ged Kearney have written to the Prime Minister calling for immediate action.

What they do not say is that they themselves are both biased because they have skin in the game so to speak. Ged Kearney is paid about $50,000 a year as a Director of Cbus which the Royal Commission has found to have acted corruptly. Dave Oliver took a bribe off Julia Gillard in 2013 and had his wife Suzanne Jones appointed a judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia by Julia Gillard. Gillard was trying to shore up support at the time as Kevin Rudd was trying to oust her as Prime Minister. I wrote an article in 2013 titled “Prime Minister Julia Gillard bribed ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver to keep his support” (Click here to read the article)

In court you do not need to prove actual bias for a judge to stand down, proving perceived bias is enough. The problem for the ACTU is there is not even enough evidence to prove perceived bias let alone actual bias so they will not take the legal action which would do nothing more than highlight the corruption they are trying to hide. It is likely the bias of Ged Kearney and Dave Oliver would be exposed further in court and/or the media which is another reason they will not take legal action.

One point for Dyson Heydon’s defence in any bias application

There are plenty of people who are not happy with Dyson Heydon’s findings regarding Julia Gillard. They believe Heydon went too soft on her and that is what I think as well.

Heydon cleared Gillard of any criminal activity but said Gillard at “times gave “evasive”, “excessive” and “forced” evidence to the commission”. (Click here to read more) To me Heydon’s findings of Gillard giving “evasive” and “forced” evidence shows her trying to conceal criminal activity and Heydon failed to say that in his report.

It could be argued that this shows bias by Heydon in support of the Labor Party and Julia Gillard. While others might argue it is not strong evidence it is more than Bill Shorten or the Unions have produced regarding Dyson Heydon being biased against them.

Be that as it may, Heydon gave Gillard a pretty good run and that could be used to show Dyson Heydon is fair and balanced in any application of bias against him.


Half Australia’s unis in world elite as QUT joins top 500 in ARWU

It should be noted that, although it is the oldest, the Shanghai Jiao Tong index is only one approach to ranking universities.  That being said, I am mildly pleased that UQ did so well.  I graduated from there and my son still goes there

Australia now has more than half its public universities listed in a prestigious international ranking after Queensland University of Technology made the top 500 for the first time.

Melbourne University was again named Australia’s best university by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, being placed at 44th in the world for a second year in a row.

Making up four universities in the top 100, Melbourne was followed by Australian National University and the University of Queensland, both on 77, and the University of Western Australia on 87.

Australia now has 20 universities in the top 500, with its overall strong performance consolidated by three institutions — Curtin, Wollongong and Deakin — all making a significant move upwards in the Chinese-based ranking.

Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of Melbourne University, said he was incredibly relieved with the result having watched governments in Asia and Europe lift research investment in their universities.

“Having 20 universities in the top 500 is something to be proud of. That helps us attract the best international students which gives us the income to stay competitive,” Professor Davis said.

The ARWU, which comes out of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, is based on objective measures of research performance, such as academic papers and citations and the number of Nobel laureates a university has produced. It bears no reflection on teaching quality.

Tony Sheil, an expert in university rankings from Griffith University, said Australia was the only medium-sized world economy “with half its university system ranked in the world elite”.

“For the first time Australia matches Canada and Italy and is well ahead of Japan which has ‘lost’ 18 universities in the top 500 since 2003. Japan originally had 36 institutions listed and was at the time by far the strongest performer among Asian countries,” Mr Sheil said.

“This is a remarkable advance for the credibility of the Australian higher education model.” Mr Sheil said.

Peter Coaldrake, head of QUT, said big investments in science and engineering had finally paid off after his institutions’ inclusion in the ARWU having proved “elusive” for many years.

He said his and other universities had been hiring high-performing professors from around the world which was contributing to Australia’s overall strong performance.

Harvard was listed the world’s best university for the 13th year in a row. It was followed by Stanford, MIT, University of California Berkeley and Cambridge.


16 August, 2015

The Gay and the godless: The Left pushing their agenda

HOMOSEXUAL marriage is a minor issue for most Australians but it is being pushed to the forefront by the ABC and other agenda-driven organisations hell-bent on marginalising religion in their push for a secular nation.

Mainstream Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and followers of other faiths believe in the traditional form of marriage which has prevailed in all cultures for millennia.

Many for whom homosexual marriage has suddenly become a burning issue are those who take issue with religion.

Abruptly changing age-old definitions to suit relatively recent fashions is extremely dangerous, but it is clear that Labor believes it is even more dangerous to take a principledstand in electorates where there is a large Green and/or homosexual vote.

The ABC’s Radio National is obsessed with the issue, though its presenters do not warn listeners of their personal conflicts of interest.

The national broadcaster, which has always been concerned with the possibility of repercussions for the Muslim community whenever an Islamist extremist commits another atrocity, cannot even bring itself to mention the fact that Muslims are among the most violently opposed to homosexuality, let alone the thought of homosexual marriages.

In a discussion of the issue this week, the ABC commentator preferred to bloviate about “large conservative ­migrant populations” in Western Sydney which might be offended by such marriages rather than speak honestly and openly and say they were Muslim.

Eight years ago, deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek was out and proud opposing homosexual marriage.

So, too, was Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2007, as was Julia Gillard when she had succeeded him as Labor prime minister successor in 2010.

“Labor does not support changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage,” Plibersek promised on March 21, 2007.

Rudd told the ABC on August 10, 2007: “I have a pretty basic view on this, as reflected in the position adopted by our party, and that is, that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

That was the traditional, universally recognised view of marriage then. It was reconfirmed when the Australian Marriage Amendment Act (2004) passed with the support of both major parties. Why are we having a debate now?

The answer is the threat posed to Labor by the rise of the Greens in the House and its Senate successes in 2010.

With the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate and the Labor government depending on the loose alliance of loopy independents and the first Green MP in the Lower House, Gillard permitted a free vote on the issue in 2012. It lost. She remained opposed to homosexual marriage.

In an August 2013 Fairfax Nielsen Poll, 57 per cent of ­respondents said that same-sex marriage was “not important at all” in deciding how they would vote in the coming ­election. Just last month, the Leftist activist organisation GetUp asked its claimed 950,000 members to help prioritise its top five campaigns. It received responses from 30,818 who listed the issues that were most important to them.

Homosexual marriage was not in the top five, nor the top 10, not even in the top 15.

It proved to be the issue of sixteenth order importance.

This would suggest that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is not “stuck in the past”, as ­Opposition leader Bill Shorten sneers at every opportunity, but is more in tune with Australians than the Labor leader.

In his maiden speech in 2007, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison presciently noted that it has become ­"fashionable to negatively stereotype those who profess their ­Christian faith in public life as ‘extreme’ and to suggest that such faith has no place in the political debate of this country”.

Yet faith drove anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce and anti-apartheid ­leader Desmond Tutu, to name just two, who stood for the immutable truths and principles of Christianity and transformed their nations and, indeed, the world in the process.

The degree of intolerant outrage expressed against the views of religious leaders from all faiths who oppose the hysterical homosexual marriage campaign speaks to the real agenda of this jihad.


Why are Australian pre-schoolers behaving badly?

"Experts" say too much testing and formal learning is behind the soaring number of prep suspensions.  But that's a kneejerk explanation for almost everything from Leftist teachers.  A small revival of discipline is the probable cause.  Pupils who are disruptive SHOULD be removed to protect the learning environment for others

SUSPENSIONS of Prep students in Queensland have soared 130 per cent in only five years as our littlest students crumble under the pressure of schoolwork instead of play. Prep suspensions leapt from 379 in 2010 to 572 in 2013 and to a staggering 873 last year, according to the Department of Education and Training (DETE) data.

Teachers and health professionals believe the bad behaviour in young pupils is a result of the stress of too much formal learning forced on them by the national curriculum.

Educational author and former teacher Maggie Dent told The Courier-Mail play-based learning in Prep has been relegated below the more academic curriculum which is stressing many children who are responding with “inappropriate behaviour”, such as social isolation and aggression.

Ms Dent said while Queensland was a hotspot, it was a similar picture nationwide as many kids failed to adapt to the “schoolification” of Prep, aimed at making kids NAPLAN-ready by Year 3.

She said the “push down” of formalised learning for children under six and the “stealing and demonising of play for children aged four to six” was fuelling an education crisis in young ones.

“The rise in aggressive behaviour being exhibited by many younger children, mainly in the boys, is a sign that they are unable to cope with environments with no opportunity to play, no fun, little movement and developmentally inappropriate tasks,” Ms Dent said.

At kindy, Alex Bate was a “happy little man”, socially active, emotionally healthy. The next year in Prep, mum Simone witnessed a dramatic turn in his character, as Alex became stressed, anxious and fearful.

“He started to have huge anxiety issues,” Bate recalls. “He’d become teary and not want to go to school ... He’d shut down in class, wouldn’t answer questions and cry at the prospect of doing show and tell.”

Bate ended up keeping Alex home for about 40 days of that year. It wasn’t that he wasn’t ready for school. He just wasn’t ready for a brand of schooling that hits five-year-olds with structured schoolwork – sight words, workbooks and even homework.

Brisbane pediatrician Andrea McGlade said her Possums Clinic had recorded a spike in Prep-aged children presenting with behavioural problems as a result of their difficulties in coping with a sit-and-learn curriculum.

Dr Andrea McGlade with her daughter Gemma Ware, 5, says many prep kids are too young to make “good behavioural choices”.  “Most of these children have underlying developmental or learning difficulties that mean that they are struggling to adapt to the requirements of the classroom,” Dr McGlade said.

It is hugely concerning that children are ever suspended from the early years of school, she says, but particularly prep kids too young to make “good behavioural choices”.

She says there has been no deterioration in the developmental status of prep-aged children, proven by two Australian Early Development Censuses in 2009 and 2012. What has changed in that time, though, is the arrival of the new curriculum.

With teachers tied to more rigid schoolwork structures and targets, they have less flexibility to adapt teaching to help these children through, she says.

A DETE spokesman rules out any link between the suspensions and behavioural problems in schools and says it may mean schools are simply tougher on discipline in line with greater disciplinary powers given to principals in 2014.

But teachers, health professionals and commentators say it’s part of an education crisis in young people, driven by a culture
of academic achievement fuelled by NAPLAN and being foisted on kids too young, overwhelming many and sparking bad behaviour.

At an age when our youngest should be carefree, they are instead anxious, even aggressive and often marginalised. And, according to some, it may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Early Childhood Teachers’ Association president Kim Walters can recall when prep suspensions were in single figures.

The national curriculum and its effect on children, she says, is a huge talking point among teachers with the problem set to worsen under DETE’s new early-start provisions allowing children to start the school year aged four (if they are five before July 31.)

Walters says the concerns are borne out in a recent survey of early-childhood teachers showing only 12 of 62 prep children in the teachers’ care were coping. (Most were girls). Almost 60 per cent of the teachers thought kids should be at least five before starting prep, and only 4 per cent of prep teachers supported the early-entry provision. Importantly, the teachers noted that while most kids may be academically ready, they are not ready physically, socially and emotionally.

While acknowledging the suspension spike, Queensland Principals’ Association president Michael Fay says 873 pupils is a fraction of Queensland’s 45,000 Prep pupils, and principals cannot ignore behaviours that disrupt other students. Fay says it’s also important that principals do not condone or ignore behaviour in these early years.

Two years on from his prep struggle, Alex, now 7 and in Year 2, is thriving after two tough years.  “This year he finally seems ready to start more formal learning,” Bate says. “But back then, he simply was not ready.”


Should we welcome the end of the mining boom?

AUSTRALIANS could be forgiven for being worried about life after the mining boom but there’s one set of figures we can take comfort in.

While there’s no doubt the rise in commodity prices has been a dominant economic driver in Australia for years, policy analyst Miriam Lyons says people should remember that Australia was growing quite well without it.

Lyons points to a Lowy Institute paper that found that in the 10 years prior to 2002, Australia’s GDP, national income and productivity all grew faster in the decade before the mining boom than in the decade after it began.

The author of the paper, John Edwards, a former adviser to Paul Keating and now a Reserve Bank board member, also found that incomes and employment rose as much before as after the boom.

Lyons, who was founding executive director of the Centre for Policy Development, will speak at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas next month about whether Australia should welcome the end of the boom.

“I’m definitely not suggesting that Australia hasn’t benefited economically from the boom in mining investment, or that managing the end of the investment boom will be easy,” Lyons told

However, she said there were important lessons that Australia should take away from its experiences.

She said that during the boom many other industries, such as tourism, education, agriculture and manufacturing were damaged because of the massive rise in the Australian dollar.

This includes the Australian wine industry, which was once making huge gains overseas, but now seems to have been pushed out by cheaper products from Chile and Argentina.

Now that commodity prices have dropped, these industries could come back, although they have not bounced back as quickly as some had hoped they would.

“We need better policies for the next boom ... that will not hollow out the economy to such a great extent and have such a cost in terms of volatility,” Lyons said.

She said that during the boom Australia’s exports became dominated by resources, which was problematic because of how volatile these products are.

Finance and mining stocks grew to make up more than half the value of the Australian Stock Exchange.

“Mining stocks tend to be volatile and people’s super funds [which are linked to the stockmarket] could have volatile returns, especially if they have entered the drawdown phase,” Lyons said.

While coal looks like it might be in permanent decline, Lyons said demand for things like iron ore would likely recover, and some also believe there will be increasing demand for liquid natural gas.

This is one of the reasons Lyons believes Australia should place a higher price on its commodities in the future.

“(Resources) are not going to move,” Lyons said.

She said that resources were limited and, while a potential buyer could decide to get them cheaper elsewhere in the short term, as supply dried up they might eventually have to buy them from Australia in the longer term. This would also have created a slower boom, which Lyons believes would have been better for the country.

“Over the long term, we would have benefited more from a slower boom, with higher mining taxes and a sovereign wealth fund helping to insulate the rest of Australia’s economy from the impact of mining investment on the dollar,” Lyons said.

“This is a lesson we should learn from and act on now, so we’re better prepared when the price of iron ore etc rises once again.”

Lyons believes Australia could have followed the example of a country like Norway, which taxes its petroleum industry heavily. It charges a 51 per cent resource tax on oil company profits as well as ordinary income tax of 27 per cent. This brings the total tax liability for oil companies to 78 per cent.

Most of the money raised goes into a sovereign wealth fund, which is valued at over $900 billion, and is the world’s biggest.

Lyons said that in Norway no one was confused about who the oil belonged to, and that this natural wealth should benefit its citizens.

As the mining boom ends, Australia needs to look to the future and Lyons said the International Monetary Fund recommended more investment in infrastructure as one way of transitioning the economy away from resources.


A serious problem with Australian tax: Removal of CGT indexation

We would be helped by restoration of capital gains tax (CGT) rules that Treasurer Peter Costello discarded in 1999.

Many commentators, particularly those on the "left", rightly criticise the government for giving a 50 per cent tax discount on capital gains, but the story is a little more complex.

Until 1985 Australia had no effective taxes on capital gains. In a major set of tax reforms the Hawke-Keating Government introduced an effective CGT regime with two important provisions. One was that CGT was assessed only on the real (inflation-adjusted) component of capital gains: illusory gains resulting from inflation were not taxed. The other was protection against a large and once-off capital gain pushing a taxpayer into a high tax bracket.

That system came as close as practicable to perfect neutrality between income from corporate dividends and income from capital gains.

That was to change in 1999, when in the name of encouraging "financial dynamism" (bankers' code for irresponsible speculation), John Howard's friend John Ralph convinced Treasurer Peter Costello that the CGT system needed changing.

As is well known, that change meant that the CGT for assets held for more than a year is now based on only half the gain.

The other big and less publicised change was removal of indexation. From 1999 onwards CGT has been applied not only to the real gain, but also to the inflationary component. To illustrate, if someone invests $100 in a company's shares, and three years later sells those shares for $150, over which time inflation has been 10 per cent (a typical three year inflation figure), under the old system the base would have been indexed upwards to $110 and CGT would have been levied on a real profit of $40.  Under Ralph-Costello new system CGT is levied on half of $50, or $25.

That's the usual way the Ralph-Costello changes to CGT are viewed, as a big gain for investors.

But consider that same $100 invested by a patient investor with a long time horizon - perhaps as a shareholder in a private company. If, after 30 years, that company had not increased in real value, which is the case for many stable enterprises, on realisation the investor would not have incurred any CGT under the old system. But with three per cent annual inflation its nominal value would have increased to $242 (100 x 1.0330), and tax would be applied on $71, being half the nominal gain of $142.

The Ralph-Costello changes tipped the scales in favour of short-term speculators, and against the interests of those who were in it for the long haul. Costello was sold the idea on the basis that the old system was too complicated - it seems that he found year 6 mathematics a little too complex.

The members of the Ralph Committee, which included Westpac boss Bob Joss, certainly knew their mathematics. A system favouring short-term over long-term investment means more commissions for stockbrokers and other coupon clippers, and more money sloshing into and out of bank accounts. A triumph of the paper economy over the real economy.

In the early 2000s Peter Martin and I were among those who warned of the consequences of the Ralph changes, particularly in relation to housing, but people were too busy making profits on negatively-geared property to read such killjoy material.

The experience of 2008 should have made clear the consequences of "financial dynamism" and of policies that encourage short-term impression management over long-term wealth creation, but we don't seem to have learned from the GFC.

In yet another call to sanity Black Rock CEO Larry Fink has written to more than 500 of America's largest companies warning them to resist pressures "to meet short-term financial goals at the expense of building long-term value", and calling on governments "to address public policy that fosters long-term behaviour". He suggests that rates of CGT should fall, the longer the investment - the very opposite to the system Costello loaded on to us.

But our government isn't listening. The government's tax discussion paper doesn't acknowledge the disincentive effect of non-indexation of CGT - instead it repeats the idea that indexation carried "complexity" and a "compliance burden", implying that Hockey, like Costello, also struggles with high school mathematics.


15 August, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG criticizes the furore over Justice Heydon

14 August, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says the homosexual "marriage" issue is just a way of causing division among conservatives

Leftist Jews are a strange lot:  Michael Brull, for example

Most Leftist Jews are in the USA but there are quite a few in Israel too.  Australia has one (though not the only one) in the person of Michael Brull, who writes for the far-Left "New Matilda".  In a recent article he condemns Israel as "racist".  The way Leftists use "racist", it usually means something like "normal" so that is of scant interest.

What got me was the way he wrote of Israel's most recent intervention in Gaza: "Israel invaded and bombed Gaza last year".  No mention that it was an attempt by Israel to stop the constant  rocketing of Israel from Gaza. It was even pretty successful at that. How does anyone manage to close their eyes to that?  The man seems deep into Freudian denial, a serious neurosis.  As an articulate Jew he can hardly be unaware of the whole story.

And we have this from him:

"In a way, Australia’s an extreme example. A lot of racism passes without comment or condemnation here. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising: Australia’s history is among the most racist on the planet. Because of the White Australia policy, and the devastation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Australia is still overwhelmingly white. Ethnic minorities have struggled to gain enough power, influence, and even visibility to successfully resist the kind of bigotry and prejudice that pervades our society, major institutions and halls of power."

He completely overlooks Australia's biggest minority -- about 5% of our population:  The Chinese.  There are people from various Asian sources in Australia but, regardless of source, most of them are Han Chinese.  Why is that?  Because the unfortunate Han are persecuted everywhere in Asia except in their homeland.  There are Chinese minorities throughout Asia, particularly in SouthEast Asia.  There are even Chinese restaurants in Bombay.  I ate in one once.

But whenever there is some sort of political upheaval, the Han are blamed for what is wrong and get it in the neck. Their homes are burnt, their businesses looted and they are all to often killed or driven out:  Quite reminiscent of Jewish history in Europe.  And the Han are of course well aware of their marginal status in the countries concerned.  So at every opportunity many who can do so get out -- mostly to countries with European populations, such as Australia.

Australia?  That hotbed of racism?  The Han clearly don't share the Leftist view that Australia is a hotbed of racism.  They have been coming for many years so would have heard by now if Australia was indeed a hotbed of racism.

There have always been Han in Australia.  My mother's grocer was a Chinaman. But the big influx started in the aftermath of the Vietnam war.  Most of the "boat-people" from Vietnam were Han, fleeing racist Vietnamese.  They got onto rickety boats and came to Australia at the risk of their lives.  Many of them disappeared at sea.

Like John Howard, I was apprehensive about the Chinese influx. I was aware of the old "White Australia policy" from Federation days (abolished by the conservative government of Harold Holt in 1966) so thought that the Chinese influx  might incite race riots.  Both Howard and I were wrong.  We underestimated our fellow Australians.  The Chinese were absorbed without a murmur.

But were they?  I personally have certainly seen no evidence of animus against them but statistical evidence is hard to find.  I have been a keen reader of the news for most of my 72 years and I recollect no accounts of anti-Chinese riots.  I have heard grumbles once or twice about them but that is all.  And race-relations are after all a major interest of mine. I have had over 100 papers on the subject published in the academic journals.  So neither in the popular nor the academic literature have I seen any mention of anti-Chinese upheavals in Australia.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence but I think it is pretty indicative in this case.

There are of course tales of minor discrimination at school and such places but the "cool kids" at school discriminate against members of their own ethnic group so that means nothing if taken in context.  The upshot is that the Han move unhindered among us as our medical specialist, our pharmacist and our restaurateur (etc.)

And something that is very vivid about race relations in Australia is the huge frequency of little Chinese ladies paired with tall Caucasian men.  I see examples of it almost every day in the shopping centre I usually go to.  Neither the man nor the girlfriend on his arm seem to realize that they are racists!

So why is all that important?  Because it shows that Australians are NOT racist.  If they were, a visibly different group like the Han  would surely be persecuted.  They are not.  So if Australians are critical of other ethnic groups, it is because of something other than racism.  Southeast Asians are demonstrably racist but Australians are not.

And it is far from clear that Australians were ever racist in any serious sense.  As is set out extensively here, the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 was primarily devoted to protecting existing Australian workers from low-wage competition.  Some of the speeches made in support of the Act utilized the racist beliefs that were common worldwide at the time but the basic motivation is perfectly clear if you look at all of what led up to the Act. 

There were some anti-Chinese riots on the goldfields of the 19th century but they were again largely economically motivated.  The Chinese miners were taking away a lot of the gold.  And most of the people on the goldfields at that time were immigrants, not native-born Australians.  A bit more on racial attitudes in Australia of the early days here

Now that I have looked at what Brull did not cover, let me look at what he did cover.  The bulk of his article is an assemblage of criticisms of Islam.  He rightly says that Islam is not monolithic and that the majority cannot be blamed for the deeds of a few.

Since it is clear that Australians are not racist, however, such criticisms cannot be taken as flowing from racism.  Even more fundamentally, Islam is a religion, not a race.  Muslims are of many races and you can change your religion but not your race.  So on that ground also Brull's claim of Australian racism falls by the wayside.

But is criticism of Islam legitimate and proper?  Brull clearly thinks not.  But why not?  Leftists sometimes make swingeing criticisms of Christians so why are similar criticisms of Islam not allowed?  Both are major religions.  I await Brull's article assembling and condemning Leftist criticisms of Christians.

So what is wrong with Brull?  Why all the selective reporting?  I cannot believe that he is unaware of the sort of thing that I have just covered and he seems too articulate to be a raving nutter.  So I must conclude that he knows perfectly well that what he writes is propaganda, not balanced reporting.  He knows that, in typical Leftist style, he is reporting only those things that suit him.  He is a crook. 

But why is he a crook?  It is because his writing is a servant to his hate, not any attempt at an accurate picture of the world.

But why is he suffused with hate for the world about him?  In his case it is moderately clear.  He is a Jew.  And the world that Jews inhabit has been incredibly hostile to them.  Hating that world is understandable, if stupid.  The world has changed.  Outside Muslim lands, Jews are no longer endangered.  But Jews do tend to feel the burden of the past heavily upon them,  which is why a big majority of American Jews are Leftist. Leftists are people who, for whatever reason, hate the world about them: "the system" or the "status quo" if you like.  Brull has joined that sorry fraternity.

But it is surely strange that, despite their great intellectual gifts, so many Ashkenazim seem incapable of truly critical thinking where politics is concerned.  From Moses onwards, the Hebrew prophets condemned Jews for their whoring after false Gods.  Not much seems to have changed.  Emotion swamps reason still.

Abbott’s policy victories have well-disguised benefits

Tony Abbott had two significant political and policy victories this week, settling long-running and divisive policies within the Coalition, and yet will struggle to see the benefits.

The victories mean the Liberal-Nationals Coalition will survive, that the Liberals have had a cathartic experience and that the government can press forward with reasonable political arguments against Labor.

Yet a combination of continuing process problems, a lack of proper public analysis, personal ill-discipline and clashing political ambitions create a sense of brittleness and frustration within the Abbott government.

On Tuesday, after more than six years of tearing itself apart on climate change policy, the Coalition reached a consensus on cutting greenhouse emissions by 2030.

Even some of the so-called dinosaurs, flat-Earthers and “deniers” gave grudging support and praise to a target of 26-28 per cent reductions by 2030 without an emissions trading scheme.

As opposition leader, Abbott was brilliant in attacking the carbon tax, but now he faces a difficult task convincing people he is taking action in line with industry and popular expectation.

There will be ongoing criticism but the Prime Minister has managed to keep the Coalition together and hold on to his job.

Abbott’s challenge is to turn this policy achievement into a political argument and persuade the public he is doing as much as is viable. But, typically, any success is blotted out by internal bickering or procedural failure.

Even as Abbott tried to launch the climate change policy and seek the endorsement of his partyroom, all the negative factors came into play and pitchforked same-sex marriage into the spotlight.

Against Abbott’s advice, the private members’ bill on same-sex marriage was raised at the partyroom meeting, which was largely devoted to climate change discussion, and resulted in an unsatisfactory result for all, then led to six hours of talks through the evening.

Abbott’s “call”, based on the overwhelming majority view of the partyroom, was that there would be no free vote for Liberals, effectively putting off a parliamentary vote. This was another victory for Abbott.

Yet, again, Abbott’s position was not clearly expressed and was publicly disputed by Malcolm Turnbull, who thought the plebiscite — raised by about six MPs — would be a continuing distraction through to the next election and beyond. The distractions do not end nor do they help Abbott’s authority.


Vulnerability of official birth and death records

Imagine trying to get your driver's licence or passport renewed, only to be told you are dead.

Australian computer security researcher Chris Rock, of Melbourne-based IT security firm Kustodian, has shown this scenario to be entirely possible thanks to a major flaw in the way several state governments register deaths in Australia.

Appearing at the infamous annual Def Con IT security conference in Las Vegas on Friday (Saturday in Australia), Mr Rock demonstrated gaping flaws that have surfaced in the rush to go digital with the process of registering births and deaths in Australia.

Speaking to Fairfax Media via phone after giving his presentation, titled "I Will Kill You", Mr Rock said a malicious person could theoretically use the flaws to kill themselves off to get their life insurance money paid out, or go after others for retribution.

A person targeted by a fake death might not even know they were declared dead until doing an activity like trying to renew a driver's licence or passport, he said.

But it wasn't just deaths that could be registered; he also found it was possible to create non-existent babies that could be used for malicious purposes such as money laundering once they reached adulthood.

Given it would take 18 years for a criminal to make use of such a person, Mr Rock said he saw the flaws as a potential form of investment that criminals could use to create non-existent people for shady activities.  "You could use a virtual person to commit a crime and if that virtual person gets caught you could put them into bankruptcy," he said.

He was "completely shocked" at how easy the process had been made while researching the topic over the past year.  "They're not even making an attempt to secure it," Mr Rock said, referring to governments the world over not securing their systems.  "I could kill anyone in any state," he added.

The process of declaring someone dead in Australia typically requires a doctor and funeral director's sign off. While this previously required paper-based forms, states such as Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have moved to online systems. These systems don't require log-ins and typically only need a doctor's name, practising address, and registration number in order to verify a doctor's identity.

The problem? All of these details are available on the publicly accessible Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website for patients to verify that their doctor is legitimate, meaning a hacker could impersonate a doctor with ease.

While some "doctor speak" was required to fill out the forms in order to avoid circumstances that might trigger the need for investigations into unnatural deaths, online guides were available to ensure red flags weren't raised, Mr Rock said.

The second step of registering a death - a funeral director's sign off, which includes how they plan to dispose of a body - is also able to be faked by impersonating a funeral director, Mr Rock said.

Alternatively, a malicious person could sign up to become a funeral director in Australia, which requires very little paper work.

Mr Rock said he actually did this by making a website for a sham funeral home and used that to support his application for an account as a director. He got an automated email a few days later saying he was approved.

Although Mr Rock understood why the birth and death registration process had been made easy - to ensure accurate records that don't have illegible handwriting - he said the systems were open to people doing malicious activities with them.

"The reason the systems are so easy to use is because governments want accurate, centralised death records and accurate birth records," Mr Rock said. "They don't want doctor handwriting where there are errors, and they want the records quick so that if there is a mass mortality they can get quick death records."

While he said he never went through and "killed anybody off", he did consider it.  "I thought about killing myself but I could think of nothing worse than starting again with a tax file number and company registration and all that sort of stuff," he said.

"I went through all the formal logic. I saw the online medical form. I then interviewed doctors in Australia to find out who fills out these forms and how it works. I then looked into the funeral industry."

Mr Rock said he began looking into the death industry a year ago after Victoria's Austin Hospital accidentally declared 200 patients dead.  "I really had no interest in the death industry and it wasn't until I saw that news article, which caught my eye that they had obviously gone through an online process," he said.

"In my head [I thought] traditional doctors were filling out a certificate of death and then that would go to the funeral director and obviously the next of kin would get a death certificate."  Clearly that wasn't the case, he said.

The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages holds about 14 million records and each year adds 77,000 births, 37,000 deaths, 29,000 marriages and 11,000 change-of-name registrations.

But even if one particular state's system was secure, another state's less secure system could be used to register a death of a person from another state without raising suspicions, Mr Rock said.

Asked if he had disclosed any of the issues to the various government bodies, detailed his work in a book called The Baby Harvest: How virtual babies became the future of terrorist financing and money laundering, he said he hadn't as the issues were a global phenomenon.

Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, which was highlighted in Mr Rock's presentation, said in a statement it had a range of public and private validation processes to support the accurate registration of life events and to prevent people from seeking to engage in fraudulent behaviour.  "The Registry is always seeking ways to improve the security and timeliness of registration information for the benefit of the Victorian community," a spokesman said. "There is a series of checks conducted before an event is registered. This is true for both birth and death registrations."


Father denied access to Perth Modern School exam questions

Bureaucratic secrecy at work.  Feedback from parents would be too much trouble!  Just trust us

An elite Perth school does not have to hand over a chemistry test to a parent who fought for three years to see the questions his daughter answered during the senior school assessment in August 2012, the Supreme Court of Western Australia has ruled.

The ruling backs an earlier finding from the state Information Commissioner, Sven Bluemmel, that the father of the student was contemplating "parental debate" and "informal collateral disagreement" about the quality of the test at the inner-city government high school for academic high achievers, the Perth Modern School.

Such debate undermined the finality of the assessment and review process and was not in the public interest, Mr Bluemmel ruled in November last year.

The father argued that tests should be disclosed to aid "a prod-uctive feedback mechanism from parents and to improve the quality of the tests at the school". He said the quality of the questions would improve through continual feedback.

The West Australian Education Department let the man, known as H, have his daughter's test answers but not the test questions. He sought an external review of that decision and, when Mr Bluemmel sided with the department, appealed to the state's Supreme Court, which on Friday rejected his appeal.

Judge John Chaney said the father raised many arguments as to the merits of his claim for access to the test but the court could only rule on whether there was a legal flaw in Mr Bluemmel's decision. There was not.

The Education Department had argued that disclosing tests would force teachers to spend time writing new questions that met strict criteria. "This will result in many more hours devoted to developing a bank of effective questions, at the expense of other teaching duties," the department argued.

Mr Bluemmel accepted it was in the public interest for parents to make a contribution to students' learning.  "However, I do not consider that the complainant has established that there is a public interest in parents being able to debate the content of each test and the teachers' marking of each individual test," he wrote.

"In particular, I do not consider that the complainant has shown that the quality of the tests is such that parental debate, of the kind contemplated by the complainant, would significantly affect the quality of the tests or their marking and thus add to a student's education.

"Further, it is clear from the complainant's submissions that he would seek to subject exam questions to informal collateral disagreement. This would undermine the finality of the assessment and review process. I agree that this would be contrary to the public interest."

Mr Bluemmel was satisfied the school had agreed to discuss academic issues with the father and held a meeting with his wife.


13 August, 2015

U.S.-based tech entrepreneur goes on epic Facebook RANT about what's wrong with Australia

He's pretty peeved that his exchange-rate bets went wrong. In the way of these things, the Oz dollar was for a while greatly overvalued and he still doesn't realize that.

His comments on negative gearing show a complete ignorance of normal accounting practice but I entirely agree that Australians tend to be "apathetic".  "Relaxed" and "laid back" are other words for that.  It is however probably a large part of the reason why Australia's rate of homicide is a fraction of America's.  A pretty good price to pay, I think.

Our friend seems to be a tech nerd so he has probably never heard of German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz.  Leibniz put forward the provocative thesis is that we live in "the best of all possible worlds".  It's probably not true but it draws attention to the fact that bad things can sometimes be preconditions for good  things.  Hence the probable association of an apathetic population with a low rate of per capita homicide.  If nothing much bothers you, you are probably not going to be bothered enough to blow somebody else's brains out.

Similarly, the curfew on nightclubs was put in place after a lot of late-night drunken brawls killed a few people and made the streets at night generally unsafe.  The probabilities are that there are some people alive today who would not be if a nightclub free-for-all had remained in place.  Mr Holmes à Court has a Leftist naivety about the causes of things

An entrepreneur who left Sydney to found a San Francisco start-up has slammed 'lazy' Australians in a long Facebook rant about the government and economy.

Nick Holmes à Court, founder of tech companies including BuzzNumbers and GoodCall, took to social media to question the changes to Australia he has noticed over the past two years while living the U.S. in a post that has been shared more than 1000 times.

Mr Holmes à Court, a distant relative of one of Australia's richest women Janet Holmes à Court, criticised everything from the property industry, to internet censorship laws, to Sydney's nightclub lockout laws.

'Can anyone explain to me WTF is going on in Australia...' he wrote.  'In the 2 years since we left Sydney, institutions like [Kings Cross nightclub] Hugos have closed, Gowings has opened, and you cant buy wine after 10pm or enter a nightclub after 1am (hint, the purpose of a nightclub is in the name).

Mr Holmes à Court went on to criticise the people of Australia for being too apathetic. 'But no one in Australia gives a f***. The lucky country? More like the lazy country.

'We are about to get f***ed so hard by global corporate interests, but the average Australian still thinks "she’ll be right mate".

'At the same time - housing pricing are up 20% in the last 2 years, and $5BN in annual tax losses are thrown to the gutter in negative gearing to make baby boomers richer at the expense of our generation whilst we cut all investment in innovation and future jobs.

'And what is worse, to keep the bubble rolling, Australia is giving away Visas to Chinese investors if they buy property - lets keep the party going baby!'

Mr Holmes à Court said he predicted 'tough times ahead' but that he hoped to be wrong. 'I love Australia, it’s my home, and I hope to grow old and die there. And it really saddens me to see how badly we are f***ing ourselves over as a nation,' he said.

'Paul Keating once argued this was "the recession we had to have" in the 80’s. I wonder what recession Australia needs to have this time to re-correct this unprecedented property and credit bubble.'

Mr Holmes à Court founded social media monitoring company BuzzNumbers in 2007, and it was acquired by Sentia Media in 2012.

In 2013 he founded email automation company GoodCall, which he operates from San Francisco. He also works with Startmate, an organisation that aims to help young Australian entrepreneurs get venture capital in the U.S.


China's devaluation is a big deal for Australia

China devalues the yuan by 1.9 per cent, Australia devalues by the same: as a result the AUD/CNY exchange rate this morning was the same as it was yesterday morning. And after China devalued by another 1.6 per cent earlier today, the Australian dollar followed the yuan lower.

That’s the trouble with competitive devaluations -- everyone else adjusts and you quickly lose first mover advantage, not that yesterday's or today's Chinese devaluation were aimed primarily at Australia.

But they are designed to get China’s basket of currencies back into line, since pegging only to the rampant US dollar has meant the yuan has become overvalued against its other trading partners, such as Australia. That over-valuation has resulted in Australia’s housing boom, tourism boom and mining bust.

So while the adjustment by China of its exchange rate was pretty small -- more a statement of intent than a big deal in itself -- it is definitely a big deal for Australia.

China is trying to resume its role as an exporter of deflation to the rest of the world, in particular the US. The PBoC’s move will put pressure on the Federal Reserve to hold off from raising interest rates next month, as it apparently plans to do.

At the very least, it means the US rate increase, if it happens, will be small, symbolic and a one-off for a while.

Over the past few years, the world has become mired in low growth, low inflation and low asset returns as a result of supply gluts, especially oil, and a shortage of consumer demand and thus business investment.

Germany and Japan have resorted to beggaring their neighbours with currency depreciations but China has been doggedly pulling on the infrastructure capex lever and clinging to the US dollar, with the result that its economy has become horribly burdened with excessive debt and capital spending and an overvalued currency.

It now seems the Chinese authorities are planning to deal with both of those problems, which has massive implications for Australia.

The boom in Australian house prices has partly resulted from the 35 per cent devaluation of the Australian dollar against the China yuan since 2011: Chinese investors have become the marginal pricers of Australian real estate but have been coming to the auctions with different calculators to the rest of us.

It’s only a bubble if it stops, and if China seriously depreciates its currency as opposed to yesterday’s 1.9 per cent and today's 1.6 per cent, that may put a cap on Chinese real estate demand in Australia and make it stop.

However, going by this week's action, the Aussie might follow the yuan wherever it goes, so as far as we’re concerned it’s likely to be a zero sum game (as all currency wars are in the end).

Meanwhile, China’s massive debt-fuelled investment binge over the past few years, which produced that final burst of Australia’s mining boom and lulled us into a false sense of security, has left its financial system in a precarious state and its steel industry unprofitable and burdened with debt.

The pressure on the steel industry and other basic export industries is now tremendous, with exports and prices falling and losses rising. It was for that reason that the yuan was devalued yesterday and today and why interest rates are being cut as well -- to release some of the pressure.

But the basic problems remain: excess capacity, rising real wages, much tougher environmental controls and high real interest rates since wholesale price deflation is now 5 per cent.

The prices of Australia’s commodities, as measured by the RBA commodity price index, have already fallen by almost half since 2011, resulting in an ‘income recession’ in this country (flat real wages and government deficits), but commodity export volumes have held up so far, which has kept GDP growing.

If volumes start falling as well because of the adjustments going on in the Chinese steel industry, then we need to hope Chinese people keep turning up here, either as tourists or property buyers.

Either way, Australia’s future, for good or ill, looks Chinese.


Tony Abbott to put homosexual marriage question to the people
Mr Abbott last night outlined plans for a "people's vote" on marriage equality after the next election following the Coalition meeting that blocked attempts to legislate for change.

Speaking at a press conference this morning Mr Abbott said: "The only way to successfully and satisfactorily settle this matter, given that it is so personal, and given that so many people have strong feelings on either side of this, the only way to settle it with the least rancour, if you like, is to ask the people to make a choice because all of us are instinctive democrats, we don't always get what we want but we accept in our country that the people's vote settles things.

"I've always said that the Indigenous recognition referendum should be dealt with on its own merits and it wouldn't be my disposition, I've got to say, to hold them concurrently. I think out of respect for Indigenous people we need to make that particular day, that particular decision, all about them frankly.

"My disposition, likewise, would not be to hold this people's vote concurrently with an election because, again, I think that people ought to be able to focus on the differences between a strong and competent government and an opposition which hasn't learned and can't change.

"Nevertheless, these are simply my dispositions. We haven't finalised what we'll do. Our strong disposition is to take it to the people in the next term of parliament while maintaining the position we took to the last election for the duration of this parliament."

Bill Shorten has framed same-sex marriage as an election issue, saying the strongest show of support for equality is to vote Labor at the next election.  The Opposition leader said he believes millions of Australians will have woken up this morning disappointed with Mr Abbott after last night's decision by the Coalition party room to refuse a conscience vote on gay marriage.
"The choice in this country is clear. You either have Tony Abbott or you have marriage equality; you can't have both," the Opposition Leader said.

"I don't think we should have to wait for a referendum ... which by the by would cost tens of millions of dollars. Mr Abbott just needs to move with the times."

However, this morning in the Senate Labor joined the Coalition to shut down a Greens attempt to force a debate on same-sex marriage, criticising the move as a "stunt" by the minor party.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale moved to suspend debate on establishing the Medical Research Future Fund to force a debate on discriminatory nature of the Marriage Act.  "Think of the signal that the Prime Minister's actions send to the young people right across this country who are being told 'you are different . the way you feel is not normal'," Mr Di Natale said.  The motion was defeated 36 votes to 12.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome [a prominent homosexual] also urged a plebiscite to coincide with the next election "to give the next government a clear mandate".

"Any further delay is totally unacceptable, and any public vote must be at the next election so this issue is resolved as quickly and cheaply as possible," Mr Croome said.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton praised Coalition MPs for maintaining their position. "However we know the opponents of marriage will not rest. This is a much-needed reprieve; it is not a final victory," Mr Shelton said.

"Coalition MPs are likely to face a torrent of abuse and vitriol from some noisy same-sex marriage campaigners over the coming days."

A furious dispute over the issue put the Prime Minister at odds with key cabinet colleagues in a partyroom meeting that crushed an attempt to allow a conscience vote on the controversial social change in this term of parliament.

Mr Abbott prevailed in a hard-fought debate during which a convincing majority of MPs spoke against a conscience vote and many argued for the traditional definition of marriage.


Another attack on refrigeration and airconditioning

Banning CFCs because of their alleged effect on the Ozone hole meant that other more difficult-to-use chemicals had to be used in refrigeration, bumping up costs.  One of the alternatives was HFCs.  Now the nutters want that banned too.  There are of course still other approved alternatives -- such as propane -- but again converting to them will bump up the costs of refrigeration and air conditioning.  And here's a thing:  The remaining approved alternatives are derivatives of fossil fuels!  Horror!  How long before they are banned too?

The proposal below is also sneaky.  They want to ban HFCs under the Montreal protocol, even though it does NOT affect the ozone layer.  They want to do that because it is in theory a greenhouse gas.  But they are not game to expose it to climate change negotiations

The article below is written by an Australian refrigeration guy.  He is no doubt looking forward to the extra work he would get from a requirement for new refrigeration gases

The Montreal Protocol is famous for being perhaps the most successful environmental treaty anywhere.  It has assisted countries in phasing out CFCs and other ozone depleting substances (which are also very strong greenhouse gases).  With current controls on track, the ozone hole is closing and will be largely repaired by the 2040s.

The Montreal Protocol and action to control CFCs has spectacularly successful in reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the CSIRO, emissions in Australia were reduced from the equivalent of more than 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in the early 1990s to less than 10 million tonnes today.

Given its positive experience in managing down CFCs and HCFCs (similar gases) five countries have proposed that the Montreal Protocol manage the phase down of HFCs.  HFCs are potent greenhouse gases and primarily used as replacements for ozone depleting substances.  The first of these draft amendments was forwarded six years ago.  

The proposals discuss a phase down that could reduce emissions by a further 85%.

There is broad support for this phase down: the US, EU, the Pacific countries, China, India, every African country, other developed countries and more support it.  Australia has pledged its commitment as well.

While often seen as a side issue, HFCs have become of significant interest to major countries.  Efforts to control HFCs have been part of several G8 communiqués and bilateral meetings between President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and their international counterparts.  Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop proclaimed Australia’s support at the UN climate summit last year.

Why are leaders focused on this now? Two reasons: firstly, emissions of HFCs can be managed cost effectively and comparatively quickly and easily through a global phase down. It is also hoped that an agreement could be struck at the major negotiations in early November in Dubai.  Agreement on this issue would provide a useful fillip to the Paris climate talks only a few weeks later.

Industry and environmental NGOs also think a phasedown is good policy as it provides both guaranteed environmental protection and economic certainty, and past experiences with CFCs and HCFCs.

While it is surprising to some at first blush that HFCs are being considered in the Montreal Protocol – after all they are not ozone depleters – the subject is both too technical and quirky for consideration in the climate negotiations.  The practicality of addressing this issue in the Montreal Protocol is simply overwhelming.

The Montreal Protocol has not been able to commence negotiations on a how a phase down would work however.  There are a few countries – mostly from the Middle East – who are yet to be convinced that negotiating a phase down is a good idea.

The rationale for their reluctance is unclear, but likely includes concern that there may not be alternatives that meet the requirements for countries with extremely high temperatures, concern about whether adequate funding will be available, and the precedent that making commitments to protect the climate would set.

The last meeting of the Montreal Protocol’s Open Ended Working Group ended – well adjourned – very late on a Friday evening 2 weeks ago without agreement to start negotiations on an HFC phase down.

After six years, high powered political engagement and extremely long negotiating hours the sense of frustration from most is palpable.

So what happens now?  In scenes reminiscent of the UNFCCC and COP 6 bis meeting, the Open Ended Working Group will again be gaveled into session for a last gasp effort to reach agreement so that negotiations can actually start in November.

Fingers crossed that further urgent discussions will let the real negotiations finally commence and allow a comparatively easy win for the climate.


The Community Looks To Senate To Support The ABCC
Communities will be the beneficiaries if the Senate decides to vote to reestablish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) next week.

“The effect of the bill is to ask the building unions, particularly the CFMEU, to behave like normal people,” Wilhelm Harnisch CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

“The damaging evidence of intimidation and coercion presented to the Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption shows that the building unions, particularly the CFMEU, are out of step with the community’s expectations about how union officials should behave,” he said.

“The CFMEU’s actions have been found to rob the community by making taxpayer funded projects more costly, resulting in less class-rooms, less hospital beds and less childcare places,” Wilhelm Harnisch said. 

“The Senate must look beyond the industrial relations arguments being put by the building unions. The ABCC is about asking building unions to behave normally and in line with community expectations; it’s about improving workers’ rights and it’s about improving safety on building sites,” he said.

“The proper role of unions in advocating workers’ rights and safety is not contested, but building unions are not above the law and the community has a right to expect their elected representatives to act when building union behaviour causes the community to suffer,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“In no other industry are ordinary people, when going about their daily work, confronted by overt aggression, denigration and bullying that building union officials regard as legitimate tools of their trade,” he said.

“In no other industry are small business people routinely intimidated and coerced by the threatening behaviour of building union officials,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“In no other industry are women subjected to building union aggression and abuse. Behaviour that is not tolerated in the home or any other workplace,” he said.

“Voting to restore the ABCC would single out such behaviour as unacceptable, and not unfairly single out a union. “All that is being asked for is for building union officials to behave like normal people,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“What is unfair, is that communities miss out on more class rooms, more hospital beds, more childcare places because the CFMEU and its officials refuse to behave normally,” he said.

“Master Builders calls on the Senate to stand behind their communities and champion their interests by supporting the Government’s bills to reestablish the ABCC,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

Press release

12 August, 2015

The politics of racism are flourishing in Australia (?)

The little Leftist lady who wrote the article below is a Ph.D. student.  One hopes that her supervisors will make her up her game soon. She seems not to have noticed that Muslims are a religion, not a race.  The difference?   Muslims are of many races and you can change your religion but not your race.  Yet she bases her entire claim of racism on Australia on the fact that there are some Australians who are critical of Muslims.  Dim!

And why is criticism of Muslims in any way illegitimate?  Leftists can be searingly critical of Christians!  But "that's different", I guess.  Sheer hypocrisy more like it

She also joins the Leftist mob in claiming that the booing of Adam Goodes was racist but fails to mention that other AFL stars like Wayne Carey, James Hird, Jason Akermanis and Nick Riewoldt were also heavily booed in their day.  Was that racist too?  Or is booing just what AFL fans do?  It's just opinion that the booing of Goodes was racist. If the booing of Goodes shows Australia as  racist, how come he has twice won the Brownlow Medal, given to the “fairest and best” player in the game?  That's pretty strange racism isn't it?  But it's an article of deep faith to Leftists that Australians are racist so any "evidence" for that belief will do and no contrary evidence will be admitted. More on the Goodes affair here.

No doubt there are some racists in Australia but the only real issue is its prevalence.  Are we going to brand a whole nation with the deeds and ideas of a few?  It's a breach of natural justice to blame someone for the deeds of others. And if racism IS prevalent in Australia, how come so many people of all races have risked their lives to get here on rickety boats, with many drowning in the process?  It just seems to be impossible for a Leftist to look at ALL the evidence.  Their preconceptions are sacred.  Sad souls

By Susie Latham

It might be tempting to dismiss claims by new anti-Muslim political party Australian Liberty Alliance that it hopes to eventually poll "in the 20 per cent bracket" at election time as wishful thinking, but this would be a serious mistake.

Racism is flourishing in Australia. AFL legend Adam Goodes has been criticised by many public figures for drawing attention to it and there have already been many rallies against Muslims nationwide this year.

The Abbott government has fostered this atmosphere by declaring that people have the right to be bigots and attempting to repeal part of the Racial Discrimination Act. Banning the burqa in Parliament, declaring that a death cult is coming for us at every conceivable opportunity, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi's instigation of an inquiry into halal food certification, and Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen addressing a Reclaim Australia rally suggest that an embattled government is belatedly acting on Scott Morrison's advice to exploit community concern about Muslims.

The Opposition's silence, seen by some as a clever way to avoid being wedged on national security, has also contributed.

Although right-wing racist groups have always existed on the fringes of Australian society, the danger posed by a lack of national political leadership on racism and the emergence of the ALA is that it will propel bigotry into the mainstream. Many Muslims feel that sentiment towards them has never been more negative, and having candidates stand for election gives anti-Muslim bigots a public platform and confers legitimacy on their views.

Numbers turning up to rallies against Muslims have been relatively small, but almost 30,000 people "liked" the Reclaim Australia Rally Facebook page. Results of a national study released in 2011 indicated as many as 49 per cent of Australians held negative sentiments towards Muslims. Expressing this on a ballot paper is safe, easy and private.

The ALA may denounce violence and the neo-Nazis associated with some anti-Muslim groups, but you can be sure members of these groups, and others carrying out physical and verbal attacks on Muslims, will be voting for ALA candidates.

In several forums Muslim women have said they are restricting their movements and clothing choices out of fear. Others, including a 90-year-old man, a couple in their 80s and a community activist have had offensive letters posted to their home addresses. Australian Muslims minding their own business have been verbally harangued at their workplaces, on public transport and in the supermarket.

Extremist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has advised the ALA and will be the guest of honour at its launch in Perth in October, described a poll that claimed more than half the Muslims living in Holland feel less welcome and think more often about leaving as "good news". As the ALA recently reminded its members, anti-Muslim parties may initially struggle, but in "the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Austria, France and Italy – they are supported by millions [and] already poll in the 20 per cent bracket".

The ALA's strong connections to successful anti-Muslim groups in Europe and the US set it apart from groups such as Reclaim Australia and One Nation. It is more sophisticated, well-financed and better organised. Debbie Robinson, a Perth-based director of ALA, is also a member of the group Stop Islamisation of Nations (SION). Other members of SION include US anti-Islam commentators Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.

At a time when political leadership has been wanting but decent Australians have taken it upon themselves to speak out against the racism directed at AFL player Adam Goodes, the same unity and organisation is needed to stop the ALA from making headway here and leaving Australian Muslims feeling similarly devastated.


Carbon cuts to cost Australia $4 billion a year in lost growth

Political expediency can be expensive.  The government doesn't have the political capital that would be needed to ditch global warming.  Defying the scare would unleash huge rage against them from the Left

AUSTRALIA'S new carbon emission target of 26 per cent by 2030 will cost the economy up to $4 billion a year.

BUT Prime Minister Tony Abbott says it will mean Australia does its fair share in tackling climate change.
"This is fairly and squarely in the middle of comparable economies," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

The target - which could be scaled up to 28 per cent on 2005 levels - was not quite as high as the European countries at 34 per cent, but was "vastly better" than South Korea's four per cent target and China's 150 per cent rise.

"This is a good, solid result. It's a good, solid economically responsible, environmentally responsible target," he said.

The government's emissions reduction fund would cost about $200 million a year to operate, he said.

But modelling for the target would cost the economy between 0.2 and 0.3 per cent of GDP in 2030 - or between $3 billion and $4 billion in current terms.

"This is certainly not without costs but the costs are manageable," Mr Abbott said.

Australia will halve its emissions per person over 15 years - the best result in the developed world of those countries that had declared their targets ahead of the United Nations summit in Paris in December.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who will attend the summit, said the target meant Australia was "doing our bit".

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the target would be achieved without pushing up power prices.

"What we have done is crafted a position for Australia which shows that we ... do the right thing by the planet, we also do the right thing by families," he said.

While international emissions permits won't be used, Mr Hunt and Ms Bishop said their use in the future would remain "on the table" to be available to business as early as 2017.

However, Mr Abbott said any emissions cuts should be "domestic reductions in emissions rather than instantly rushing off to try to get them from other countries".

Climate action groups immediately criticised the announcement as failing key tests.

The target failed to be scientifically credible or economically responsible, Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said in a statement.

"This target is bad for the climate and bad for our international competitiveness," he said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the target is a reasonable one that balances the need for action to contain emissions with the need to minimise damage to jobs and economic growth.


Tony Abbott Has No Intention Of Reaching His Flimsy Emissions Target

The combination of policies being deployed by the government will not help them achieve even the weak target announced today, writes Ben Eltham in the Leftist "New Matilda".  I suspect Ben is right about that. 

And Ben spells out well that Abbott is acting only on political pressure.

Where Ben is a big laugh, however, is that he does not seem to know about the "pause", which even Warmist scientists acknowledge.  Ben speaks of the "terrifying momentum of climate change" when it has in fact no momentum at all.  The only terrestrial temperature changes of the last 18 years have been in hundredths of one degree Celsius, changes which are not even statistically significant, meaning that from a scientific viewpoint, they do not exist. 

I suspect that Ben is good at detecting crookedness in Abbott because he is such a big crook himself.  "Terrifying momentum of climate change" does not even do Warmist scientists justice. It is an outright lie. Ben is talking though his anus

The news that the Abbott government has settled on an emissions reduction target for Australia out to 2030 heralds a new turn in climate politics in this country.

The target, announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott today, is a 26 per cent reduction on 2030 levels compared to 2005. It would put Australia at the back of the international pack – offering less than Canada, the United States or Europe. Only Japan is offering a smaller target.

On the one hand, of course, this target is manifestly inadequate. A modest decrease in carbon pollution is not nearly enough to arrest the terrifying momentum of climate change. As glaciers and ice-caps melt and bushfires intensify, the world is running out of time to stop global warming before it runs away with a liveable climate.

Rapid and deep cuts to emissions are the only practical and ethical policy. The non-political Climate Change Authority recommended a 40-60 per cent cut by 2030, based on the available science.

On the other hand, it’s amazing the Abbott government committed to an emissions target at all. This is the government that has loudly proclaimed its undying love of fossilised carbon, a government hell-bent on burning as many dead dinosaurs as it can dig from the soil. This is also the government that contains many avowed climate sceptics, and which campaigned so successfully against the Labor Party on climate at the last election.

The 26 per cent figure appears to have been massaged with a view to party unity. The government was today openly briefing press gallery journalists that climate sceptics in the party were consulted about it, and “could live” with the target. That in itself tells you quite a lot about the way this government conducts climate policy.

Say what you like about the snail’s pace of international action on climate, there is no doubt that Australia has been dragged to this position by international pressure.

Australia under the Coalition has stayed inside the Kyoto protocol, and that means we need to commit to a new emissions reductions target in the run up to this year’s climate talks in Paris.

In the media conference today, Prime Minister Abbott was at great pains to point out that Australia’s emissions reduction target was “smack bang in the middle” of rich world emissions targets. You’d have to say that, without this international pressure, Australia under the Coalition would not be formally committed to reducing emissions at all.

The government claims Australia will make the largest per capita reductions of the rich industrialised countries. That’s a fudge to begin with: it highlights just how pollution-prone our economy currently is. Countries in Europe and even in Asia start well ahead of us when it comes to their relative emissions intensity. Australia has so far to travel because we are already so dirty.

Never mind the target – can the government actually deliver? No.

The government plans to meet the 2030 target essentially on a wing and a prayer.


Former Leftist politician defrocked by Anglican Church

A former Queensland government minister who later became a registrar of the Anglican Church has been defrocked over his handling of child sex abuse claims.

Pat Comben, 65, served as an education and health minister in the Goss administration before he was ordained and relocated to NSW, where he was registrar of the Grafton diocese.

During that time, Mr Comben dealt with 42 people who claimed to have suffered abuse while at the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore between 1940s to 1984. Many claimed to have been beaten and raped.

Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse heard that as the number of claimants increased, the diocese disputed liability, pleaded poverty and cast doubt on the veracity of some of the claims.

He also conceded not telling police of serious allegations being made about some clergy.

Mr Comben admitted to have taken a hard line approach to victims, telling the commission in 2013 that he felt guilt over his actions.

Mr Comben also told reporters he was quitting the church.

"Some of us have some guilt and take some responsibility for this," Mr Comben said at the time.

"Fifty years in the church and I do not know if I can even say I am a Christian."

This week the Grafton Diocese said it removed Mr Comben's holy orders based on recommendations from an independent professional standards board.

The recommendation was adopted by Grafton diocesan bishop Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil who informed Mr Comben of his deposition.

"Under church law there is no avenue of appeal," the church said in a statement.

"The choice of recommendations available to the board varied from counselling to loss of all standing as an ordained person within the Anglican Church of Australia."


Man charged with drink-driving wins $125,000 payout because he made it home before cops could breath test him

A MAN who beat a drink-driving charge was awarded $125,000 -because police tried to force him to take a breath test at his home.

Real estate agent Bernard Nash was tailed by an officer as he left the Shelly Beach Golf Club, on the Central Coast, and drove 150m to his house at Bellevue St.

Highway patrol Senior Constable -Michael Hicks, who was driving in the opposite direction, did a U-turn and gave chase, suspecting the 53-year-old was over the drink-driving limit.

When he caught up, Mr Nash had already parked in his driveway.

Constable Hicks pulled into the driveway and said "Just here sir" and "You're under arrest".

Mr Nash was heading down the side of his property when the officer ran towards him, put him in a "bear hug" and told him he was under arrest.

The officer then wrestled Mr Nash to the ground and pinned him with his knees before threatening to use capsicum spray.

Mr Nash did not give a breath test but was charged with driving under the -influence and resisting arrest.

However, the law says police cannot force suspected drink-drivers to take a breath test at their home.

Mr Nash beat the charges in Wyong Local Court and then sued the state over the incident, which occurred on October 13, 2011.

In a judgment published last week, Judge Judith Gibson ruled in NSW District Court that the incident amounted to wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution and -ordered the state to pay Mr Nash $124,958 in damages.

Judge Gibson said the fact Mr Nash was on his own property meant he didn't have to take a breath test.

The other issue was that Constable Hicks had no evidence that Mr Nash was drunk or had committed an offence, Judge Gibson said. This left the officer with no legal reason to arrest Mr Nash.

The court heard that Mr Nash said he was not drunk and had three light beers while he was at the club.

The precise time the officer turned on his siren and lights was also "hotly contested".

This was because Mr Nash could not legally ignore the officer's order to pull over.

Mr Nash told the court he did not see the police lights nor hear the -sirens. Constable Hicks was "never sufficiently close to Mr Nash's car to -activate the sirens and lights".

The judge awarded Mr Nash $70,000 for malicious prosecution, $25,000 for wrongful arrest, $25,000 for assault and battery and $4958 for special damages.

A police spokesman said they were not looking to appeal. Constable Hicks is still working as an officer.


11 August, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is not pleased by The Donald

Racism in Australia?

Peter Brent, writing below, is truly pathetic. He seems to think that a series of anecdotes expose Australians as racist.  But anecdotes cannot do that.  I can just as easily recount twice as many anecdotes showing Australians as non-racist.  Anecdotes are useful but should not be persuasive except as an illustration of something that has already been established statistically.

So here is some counter anecdotage: Where I go shopping, in an average sort of Brisbane suburb, there are a lot of East Asians, mostly Han Chinese.  Yet I have never once seen the slightest manifestation of racism towards them.  They treat others politely and others treat them politely.  I even see friend-groups of young people that include both Chinese and Anglos.   And the number of tall Anglo men with a small Asian girlfriend on their arm is quite a wonder.

According to the classic Bogardus index of prejudice, partner formation should be the area where racism is most manifest, so those frequent interracial couples alone junk Brent's miserable claims.

So in one day, I see more instances of non-racism than all of the idiot's examples put together.  As far as I can see, Australia is a prime example of racial harmony.  No doubt there are grumblers here and there but deeds speak louder than words.

And Brent's examples of "racist" deeds are absurd. He tells of a female official treating a brown-skinned man in a peremptory way.  How do we know the official was influenced by the man's skin colour?  We do not.  She could have been pre-menstrual or he could have had bad breath or something.  There are many possibilities and we have no way of knowing which was at work.  Brent has simply paraded his own opinion as fact.

And Brent criticizes John Howard for leaving it to the army to deal with silly behaviour among its ranks.  As a former army psychologist myself, I think Howard got it exactly right.  Army men are not sensitive souls.  They can see as funny things that others would not.  If they were sensitive souls they would not be in the army.  Training to kill people is not a milksop's job and nothing will make it so.

And his claim that feminist Julia Gillard saw arch-conservative John Howard as a role model will surely surprise everyone who knows anything about Australian politics, including John Howard and Julia Gillard.  Brent sees things that are not there --  psychiatric delusions?

The one statistic the sad soul refers to is the poor state of Aborigines.  And there is no doubt that the state of Aborigines is appalling by white standards.  But why are they so different?  If Asians and Anglos both do well in Australia, why do Aborigines do so badly?  Most urban Aborigines even have English as their native language, an advantage many Asians lack.

And is white society responsible for the state of Aborigines?  Mainly under Leftist influence, all Australian governments, State and Federal, seem to think so.  The number of projects and programs that have been initiated to help Aborigines are legion -- with just about nil results.  Paternalism has been tried.  Permissiveness has been tried.  Nothing works.  The problem is in Aborigines themselves, nobody else.  The state of Aborigines does not prove Australian racism.  If anything, it shows the racism of people who cannot accept that Aborigines might simply be different.

Brent's nickname is "Mumbles".  He should stick to mumbling.  I can't imagine what he got his Ph.D. in.  Modern dance?

"Do you want to lose that?!", the Immigration Department employee screeched at the young South Asian man in Perth Airport's customs line this week.

She was forty-ish and blonde and was pointing to the mobile phone he held to his ear. She had earlier signalled that he should put it away but he hadn't understood. So now she scolded him like a five year old.

Looking surprised and a little shaken by this little Hitler in a uniform, he quickly hung up.

I've emailed the department asking about this rule banning the use of mobile phones in customs queues. Is it a new thing? Or did she just make it up so she could bully the dark guy? Either way, it's difficult to imagine she would have spoken to a white person like that.

Well, I don't know the woman, maybe she would have.

But it was a very Pauline Hanson welcome to Australia.

Visitors to this country sometimes report a jarring preponderance of casual, everyday racism. British-American comedian John Oliver found Australia "a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I've ever been in. They've really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper."

We can protest all we like that they don't understand us and our situation. That's what Apartheid South African whites insisted. Did they have a point? Possibly a small point, overwhelmed by the larger one.

The question is not: "is Australia racist?" Racism seems to pollute the human condition everywhere and seems woven into societies' fabrics around the world. Children aren't born resenting and distrusting people not like them, but usually learn to.

Racism often forms part of the collection of preconceptions people have about others. Humans can recognise these inclinations and attempt to transcend them.

The situation with indigenous Australians is a particular one, because they were here long before the rest of us. Many countries, including some Asian neighbours, have similar dynamics at play with indigenous minorities. A mixture of guilt, impatience at an apparent unwillingness to assimilate, and prejudice. But we occupy the extreme end in Australia: all those gaping statistical discrepancies in health outcomes, life expectancy, suicide, incarceration rates, general indicators of misery - and corresponding mainstream attitudes.

It's more complex, a lot more complex, than simply believing that if mainstream Australia would stop being racist everything would be fine. But there is a lot of racism embedded in the Australian psyche.

Racism lurks in communities around the planet, but it's true what the visitors say: Australians are relatively comfortable expressing it.

I largely blame John Howard. I'm serious, I do. Two decades ago Australia did not particularly stand out in the pack. (Again, I exclude the position of Aboriginal Australians.)

It was quickly forgotten that Howard's 1996 "comfortable and relaxed" line was predominately aimed at all that Keatingesque hand-wringing about past injustices to Aboriginals. And in government his, and his advisers', model for re-election included picking at seething resentment towards minorities.

Howard was wont, particularly when an election was on the horizon, to reflect that one of his proudest achievements was that Australians now felt freer to express themselves than under Labor.

He meant, of course, on matters of race.

Every so often Howard would deliberately utter something inflammatory, upsetting the usual suspects, just to keep his hand in. If someone was publicly under fire for a racially tinged misdeed, Howard would usually rush to their corner - or at least equivocate.

(One typical incident, a 2007 Youtube video of drunken soldiers in Ku Klux Klan garb, was met with these prime ministerial words:

"I have some understanding of the disposition of people in these situations to let off a bit of steam. Let the military deal with those things in their own way. People get into a lather of sweat and so on ... Let's be sensible about this.")

Eventually this tendency of Howard's was celebrated in the political class as crucial part of his political genius, a method by which he had (supposedly) eaten into the ALP's working-class base.

And it's true what they say: when you change the government, you change the country - perhaps not what's in people's hearts, how they feel able to express themselves, because people in power set norms of behaviour.

It is all entwined in the hot issue of "border protection", which most believe decided the 2001 election.

After winning government in 2007, Labor remained captured by the myth of Howard. Julia Gillard in particular seemed to see him as a role model; her language about migrants upon becoming prime minister in 2010 had a decidedly Howard-like tinge.

Ask Sol Trujillo, born in America to Mexican immigrants, who was Telstra boss from 2005 to 2009, if we're racist. He told the BBC that racism in Australia "was evident in a lot of ways with me personally but more importantly with others."

References to "amigos", "tortillas" and "enchiladas" abounded in mainstream media and among politicians during his tenure. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, when asked to comment on Trujillo's departure, simply said "adios".

And recall the 2009 Hey Hey It's Saturday's 2009 black faces furore. (Gillard as acting prime minister gushingly defended the program.)

Oh, that's just us, you say, having harmless fun. Only self-loathing elites have a problem with this sort of kind of behaviour.

Don't go changing Australia.


Tax rates must fall, says Treasurer Joe Hockey

Australia is suffering an "unsustainable risk" from high personal taxes that must be brought down to encourage growth and boost jobs, Joe Hockey will declare today in a move to set a reform agenda for the next election.

Putting tax relief on the table if the Coalition holds power, the Treasurer will warn that personal income taxes are so high they threaten to discourage workers and weaken the economy. Mr Hockey will also sharpen the debate on the GST by insisting state revenue be "aligned" to the spending needed on government ser-vices, an argument that underpins calls for a rise in the consumption tax from 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

"We cannot afford to have a tax burden that stifles growth and costs jobs," Mr Hockey writes in The Australian today, singling out the $185 billion income tax take.

"We can't just view the tax system and Australian taxpayers as a collection pool of unlimited funds. So in developing a better tax -system, we need to consider the sustainability of our heavy reliance on income tax, especially personal income tax."

Behind the call is a government ambition to offer tax cuts at the next election to reverse some of the "bracket creep" that will force 300,000 workers to pay higher rates over the next two years as inflation pushes up their incomes. The Coalition strategy will be central to the election campaign as Tony Abbott and the Treasurer seek to offer a "low tax" pledge to justify unpopular spending cuts and contrast their fiscal policy with Labor's spending plans.

The cost of reform is daunting, given Treasury estimates that it would cost $25bn over five years to return all of the "bracket creep" - the increase in the tax take when inflation lifts workers into higher brackets even when their real -incomes do not change.

Mr Hockey is warning of a wider economic challenge from the tax pressures on workers because Australia's top marginal tax rate is higher than the average across advanced economies.

Workers pay 45c in the dollar on earnings over $180,000 but this rises to 47c when the Medicare levy is added and reaches 49c as a result of the government's temporary budget repair levy, which stops in July 2017.

The pressures are also hurting workers on incomes of about $80,000 - the threshold at which they begin to pay 37c in the dollar for every dollar they earn. Treasury estimates to be outlined by Mr Hockey today show the proportion of taxpayers in the top two tax brackets will rise from 27 per cent today to 43 per cent a decade from now.

"Our personal income tax revenue is subject to unsustainable risk," the Treasurer writes. "For example, the top 10 per cent of individual taxpayers pay nearly half the personal income tax collected by the government. This is an over-reliance and dependence on a narrow base that is increasingly mobile, to support our vital social infrastructure."

Workers paid $185bn in personal income taxes last year and this part of federal revenue is expected to swell to more than $230bn by 2019. Company tax receipts will be $86bn in 2019 and GST receipts will be $68bn according to this year's budget papers.

Government sources indicated yesterday the Coalition was aiming to go to the election with plans to ease the tax burden, including personal income tax cuts, but that the timeframe remained subject to the budget bottom line. Mr Hockey does not promise a tax cut but makes it clear he wants reforms - including spending restraint - to enable the cuts. Asked last month if there was hope the government would cut marginal tax rates before the election, he said: "Well, not before the next election, but certainly we'll be taking a proposal to the Australian people at the next election.''

The Treasurer's comments on the overall tax burden reignite a fight with Labor over which side of politics delivers low taxes, given the budget papers forecast that tax receipts as a proportion of economic output will rise from 21.9 per cent last year to 23.4 per cent by June 2019. Tax as a proportion of gross domestic output was lower when Labor was in power, hitting a trough of 19.9 per cent in 2010 as the global financial crisis wiped out some of the revenue Treasury had been counting on.

Mr Hockey states that when personal income tax is calculated as a proportion of total tax revenue, the tax level is the second highest in the OECD, the group of advanced economies.

"We must aim to reduce the overall tax burden on the community and work to promote stronger economic growth," Mr Hockey states.

Part of the Treasurer's tax reform call is an argument for a change to the federation to ensure the power to raise taxes matches the obligation to spend on services. At the moment, state governments raise only a fraction of the revenue they need to fund health and education and other services, forcing them to rely on the GST and payments from Canberra. Mr Hockey's reform principles include the requirement that "as best as possible, the revenue-raising capacity of each tier of government should be aligned to responsibilities of funding and service delivery". That goal could be pursued by raising GST and sharing the higher proceeds with the states so they have greater capacity to pay for their own services.

While NSW Premier Mike Baird has suggested an increase in the GST to 15 per cent, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews have proposed an increase in the Medicare levy instead. The Prime Minister has said he would prefer the GST option to the Medicare increase. Mr Hockey's comments today support that view, given that a higher Medicare levy would increase the income tax burden and worsen the "unsustainable risk" the Treasurer identifies.


Foxtel lashed for anti-gay marriage ads

They put up ads both for and against but balance is not good enough!

FOXTEL is facing a backlash from some subscribers after it decided to screen advertisements opposing same-sex marriage.  THE ads, created by anti-gay marriage group Marriage Alliance, were knocked back by the Seven and Ten networks but have been screened by the pay TV provider.

People took to Facebook to vent their anger, with many saying they would cancel their Foxtel subscription. "Just cancelled my account - Netflix is much less homophobic, and better value," Brendan Terry wrote.  "What's new on Foxtel this week? Bigotry, hatred and lies," wrote Bradles McBell.

Some question Foxtel for airing advertisements for I Am Cait, the new reality show about Caitlyn Jenner's transition, alongside the anti-equality message in the ads. "I love how you can promote this and then also put up anti-marriage equality ads up too, haha self contradicting much?" Joel Hubbard said.

Marriage Alliance's campaign, which uses the line "It's not as simple as you think", says legislating to allow same-sex marriage may affect people's rights across the entire community.

Foxtel replied to concerns, saying it was aware its decision to air the ad "has caused hurt and distress to some customers".

"We believe this debate should be won by the force of the argument in favour of reform, not by refusing to engage in debate or allow contrary opinion to be put," a spokesman said.

The company says it is a strong supporter of marriage equality and that it is screening a series of celebrity-backed ads calling for marriage equality.


Bill Shorten and Michael Danby accuse Commissioner Dyson Heydon of supporting rape in marriage

It is widely known in politics and the media that Bill Shorten uses online trolls to trash the reputation of anyone he sees as a threat or competitor to his interests. What is not widely reported is that Mr Shorten is also defaming the reputation of Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon and using his Parliamentary Secretary Michael Danby, at the taxpayer's expense, to assist.

There would probably be enough evidence below to charge Bill Shorten, Michael Danby and their main troll Andrew Landeryou with attempting to pervert the course of justice. It also raises questions regarding the character of Bill Shorten and gives a guide to what he would be like if he was elected Prime Minister.

The allegation Shorten and Danby are making is extremely serious and false. They claim that Trade Union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon supports rape in marriage. They do this via Twitter Troll Andrew Landeryou who is their friend and aligned to them in the ALP Unity faction. Danby is Bill Shorten's Parliamentary Secretary and has made the mistake of also using his Twitter account to support the defamatory Tweets which leaves a trail of evidence directly back to himself.

The purpose of this is very clear given it also happened when Bill Shorten was in the witness stand on July 8th 2015. It is a blatant attempt to harass and intimidate Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon.

Bill Shorten claims how stressful it was on him and his family to have "abhorrent" rape allegations made against him yet he is more than happy to do something very similar to Dyson Heydon, Heydon's family and others.

The false claim

The basis of the false allegations is a deliberate misinterpretation of a judgement by Dyson Heydon when he was a judge of the High Court of Australia.

A man was charged in 2009 for raping his former wife in 1963 when they were married. What Dyson Heydon and the High Court had to decide was if rape in marriage was a crime in 1963, not if it is a crime now.

"Most countries have criminalized marital rape from the late 20th century onwards; very few legal systems allowed for the prosecution of rape within marriage before the 1970s." (Click here to read more)

Even one of the articles quoted to justify the defamatory comments about Dyson Heydon actually supports Heydon when you read it. (Click here to read more)

So a High Court decision about whether rape in marriage was a crime in 1963 is being used to falsely say that Dyson Heydon supports rape in marriage now.


10 August, 2015

Hate-filled do-gooders

Twitter and other social media outlets seem to have a disinhibiting effect on what people say.  Writers there reveal sides of themselves that we would not normally see.  The comment from Australia below is therefore interesting for showing how often do-gooders reveal on social media that they are also great haters who lash out in all directions.  Their belief in their own righteousness seems to unshackel them from all tolerance and decency -- and replace that with a frighteninmg savagery.

What we are seeing there, of course, is Leftism in the wild, Leftism red in tooth and claw, Leftism with the gloves off, Leftism with the mask off.  Leftists too are great do-gooders.  Do-gooding is their stock in trade.  Presenting themselves as "compassionate" is what they do.

And in power they too are great haters and destroyers.  Mrs Obama liked nothing about America until her husband became president. And Obama's pastor ranted about "AmeriKKKa".  Obama himself is too wily to let  his hatred be seen -- though we can readily infer it.  In countries where their power and influence can cease at the next election, Leftists in a democracy have to be cautious like that.

But where they have untrammelled power we see what Leftists really are.  It took the loudly do-gooding Leftist Hugo Chavez to reduce oil-rich Venezuela to poverty -- where no amount of  money can buy many basics, such as toilet paper, and where most cars have to be bought secondhand at exorbitant prices.  And forget freedom of the press in Venezuela of course.  The more influence Leftism has, the more its hates are impoverishing and destructive.

And that regime most beloved of America's Left, Cuba, is another case in point.  Under Fulgencio Batista, Cuba was a middle-income country, on a par with Belgium.  Now, of coursde it is a poor country, with the basics strictly rationed and in short supply.  And Castro himself lives more opulently than Batista ever did.

I grew up in a region of Australia that produces large amounts of sugar for export.  There were three sugar mills in the town where I was born. And Cuba too was once a big sugar exporter.  So when Fidel Castro took over and was so destructive in his hates as to reduce Cuban sugar production to a trickle, there were many people in my town who had a kind word for him.  By noticeably reducing the world supply of sugar, he bumped up prices for it.  A lot of Australian sugar farmers were able to pay off their debts at that time.

So the association between do-gooding and aggressive hate has long been with us.  It has always been visible on the political scene for anyone with eyes to see.  Only now has it become so visible on the individual level.  We will see more of it

WHAT is it about goodwill that makes people go feral?  “Give, but give until it hurts,” the always well-meaning Mother Teresa taught us. But in a couple of perplexing examples just this week, that touching sentiment seems to have been somehow misinterpreted as: “Give ... until you’re inspired to hurt someone”.

Just this week, a do-gooding current affairs program inspired thousands of Australians to reach out to a suffering family, but also — probably unwittingly — inspired a bit of corporate hate.

Sharon Chan’s ordeal is tragic. The story of the pregnant Sydney mum — whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack last week, leaving her to raise two sons, one with Down syndrome and leukaemia, and another child due any day — touched so many viewers that the Rotary page set up to take donations for the family repeatedly crashed.

But the charity site wasn’t the only online victim of this injustice. Well-meaning Australians, filled with rage at Ms Chan’s situation, took to the Facebook pages of major supermarkets and other television shows as, it seemed, they felt the need to direct their frustration towards The Man.

“Give to Sharon and her boys from the ACA current affair program,” one post to Coles’ Facebook page read. “Give free groceries for her and her boys ... petrol, money, something ... show people you are not a heartless company out for profits.”

And there were others demanding the corporate giant mirror their goodwill. "Everyone in Australia is on board and you should be too. Show people you are not just about profit ... deliver free groceries for a year, or give free petrol ... you decide.”

Conservationists, also with good intentions, have been pushed to the point of being abusive this week.  Glamorous American game hunter Sabrina Corgatelli was accused of rubbing salt in the wound as animal lovers reeled from the killing of Cecil the lion.

Their protests at her posing with a dead giraffe and sharing the image online were valid — some people don’t want to see innocent and protected animals hunted for sport.

But how does Photoshopping the woman’s head onto the slain animal’s lifeless body help the cause? And then there were the shocking death threats over her proposed visit to New Zealand: “We should all book on these (hunting tours) and then when we go don’t hunt the animal hunt the **** Sabrina!!!”, “We’ll have a hunting party ready and waiting for YOU. Evil b****”, and “I will personally cut your head off and mount the **** on my wall”.

The logic here appears to be that threatening to hunt and murder a woman, and make a trophy of her genitalia, makes up for the hunting of a giraffe.

It’s charity driving us to hypocrisy and it’s all a bit weird.


Under huge pressure, Booers mostly browbeaten into silence as Goodes returns to football

A PACKED Simonds Stadium gave Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes a warm welcome as he returned to the field tonight.

Goodes strode through a banner that said “respect unity fairness” alongside his teammates and Geelong opponents before tonight’s game, ultimately won by the Cats 14.11 (95) to Sydney 9.9 (63).

The crowd thundered and fireworks erupted above Simonds Stadium following a “welcome to country” performance pre-match. There was also a video message on the big screen from Geelong players urging the crowd to show respect and fairness.

This had followed cheering from Geelong fans when Goodes stepped off the Swans team bus for the blockbuster match.

Spectators wore clothes bearing Aboriginal flags and with the word “Pride”, while motorists were greeted by a van draped with a flag saying “No room for racism”.

Geelong fan Adam Fratantaro said the booing had gone on long enough, regardless of spectators’ intentions.  “Adam Goodes is clearly hurting and it’s time it stopped. We say give him the respect we all deserve,” he said.

While most of the crowd was well behaved, spectators in the standing section repeatedly booed when Goodes got the ball.

Swans fan Max Ryan, who was close to some who booed, said it was in poor taste. “It was mostly respectful however there were pockets of people just tryig to stir something. It was unwarranted and unnecessary, especially given the teams ran out together in solidarity,” Mr Ryan said.

Cats supporter Alex Holmes agreed: “It is unsettling and worrying especially given the media coverage the issue has had. I don’t believe those few represent Geelong as a whole.”

Mr Fratantaro was handing out signs saying ”Cheer for Goodesy” with fellow Cats die-hard Paul Young outside the stadium. “We can’t stop everyone booing but we think we can encourage people to show respect,” he said.

The Prime Minister said he expected the booing to stop.  “Obviously, all Geelong fans want to win but they also want something that reflects well on the city,” Mr Abbott told Triple M. “He’s a great footballer, he’s a fine Australian of the Year and no one wants to see anyone bullied.”

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said players and clubs had made it clear that any boos would be considered racist.


Eddie McGuire won’t apologise for calling John Eren a ‘soccer loving Turkish born Mussie’

POWERFUL AFL figure Eddie McGuire referred to the Victorian sports minister John Eren as a “soccer loving Turkish born Mussie” during the code’s annual general meeting in March.

McGuire’s latest controversial comment occurred in a room at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium packed with the AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, commissioners and club presidents during a ‘brainstorming session’.

An observer said AFL Commissioner Sam Mostyn “clearly cringed” when McGuire used the term. Several officials told the Sunday Telegraph they privately took exception to the Collingwood president’s reference to Mr Eren.

But McGuire, who is also president of Collingwood football club, told The Sunday Telegraph he made no apology for using the term in the March 25 AGM.

He used the phrase when the conversation turned to the “shifting world” and that AFL need to get more organised and “do more” in competing with the soccer market.

“The quote that I said, because I referred (in) this to the Minister himself, is as a ‘soccer loving Turkish born Mussie’ to emphasise the point that no longer do we have an Anglo Saxon former AFL footballer as the sports minister,” McGuire said.

“Because ‘Mussies’ (is) the way that my Muslim friends refer to themselves.” “I don’t think you should go around calling people the old insulting terms, but the terms that show you are a friend.

Mr Eren yesterday called McGuire to discuss the remarks after a call from The Sunday Telegraph.  “This is a timely ­reminder that leaders in the community need to be careful about how they ­express themselves,” Mr Eren said.  “As a fellow Broadmeadows boy, I’ve known Eddie a long time. I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it.

“As Minister for Sport for a great multicultural state, I’ll get on with the job of working with all codes.”

McGuire said ‘Mussie’ was not a racist term.  “I was sitting in a room of 30 people, it wasn’t like it came out of the corner of my mouth.  “I was making a point, that’s the way I talk with people, that is my vernacular, people know that, they watch Hot Seat, they like it, they listen to my radio shows, I’ve been doing it for years, that’s what I am about.

“I don’t have any issue with any nationality. Collingwood is the most multicultural football club in the AFL and has been for 100 years.”

McGuire said he was actually trying to show how far Australia has come.  “The point I was making was that we’ve got a Turkish born soccer loving Mussie as sports minister, (it) shows you how far we have moved, this is what it is all about.”

“Don’t get caught up in the syntax all the time. People refer to me as Broadie boy, Toorak toff, who cares, it’s part of the fun ... I am all those things. It’s no big deal.


Ever seen this before, a kangaroo feeding in the snow?

David Viner would be surprised.  "Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past", he said 15 years ago.  Being a false prophet is lucrative, though. Viner was Global Director - Climate Change, Environment and  Sustainability at the British Council up until 2011.  Report below from a couple of weeks ago

Sydney hasn't seen snow since 1836. The Antarctic storm has caused traffic accidents, school closures and power outages around the state on Australia’s southeastern coast

Kangaroos are a common sight for Australian vineyard owner Bill Shrapnel. But a winter storm this week was the first time he’d seen a ’roo in the snow.

Shrapnel guesses about 30 of the “timid” and “watchful” creatures live on his 77-acre Colmar Estate vineyard in Orange, New South Wales.

But before he peeked out his back window Thursday, he had never seen one of the kangaroos in the snow.

“They just turned up and started to feed. The younger ones boxed with one another as if it was just another day.”

A surprised Shrapnel snapped a photo, which his daughter shared on social media.

Shrapnel, 62, and his wife Jan moved to Orange earlier this year from Sydney, which hasn’t seen snow since 1836.

While the couple had prepared for their first winter, he says, “having it snow three times in a week is not what we expected.”

The winter storm caused traffic accidents, school closures and power outages around the state on Australia’s southeastern coast.

Thredbo, a ski resort in New South Wales, recorded 30 cm of snowfall, and highs in Orange and other wintry towns were below 5 C.


9 August, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is irate about politician travel expenses.


Three current reports below

Taxpayers fund Greenies to kill jobs

TAXPAYER funds have helped the environmental group that scuttled the approval of the huge $7.5 billion Adani coal mine.

The Mackay Conservation Group took legal action to have Adani’s Carmichael mine approval set aside after it found flaws in the Federal Government’s paperwork.

The group denies using the $50,000 it received from the State Government to pay for the legal action, but industry backers say it could have cost the state much-needed jobs.

Former MIM boss Nick Stump was “aghast’’ at the further delays caused by the litigation.  “The funding of non-government organisations is so vast they have unlimited money to fight,’’ Mr Stump said. “You have to get an understanding of whether this is democracy.’’

Mr Stump said the whole system of approvals was grinding to a halt and he cited the example of the Aurukun bauxite lease he has been attempting to develop which has been bogged down in the bureaucracy for 12 years.

Mackay Conservation Group’s Ellen Roberts said the litigation against the Carmichael mine was funded by thousands of small donations.  “We do not spend government funds on advocacy or campaigning,’’ she said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, State Development Minister Anthony Lynham and Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jackie Trad have all publicly supported the project. However they have also reintroduced the third party objection rights that allow community groups and landholders to take legal action against developments in the Land Court.

The Palaszczuk Government said a small amount of funding had been provided by governments from both sides of politics for a number of years, with the most recent agreement signed by the former LNP Government in 2013.

GVK Hancock said a handful of anti-mining activists were using the courts to delay thousands of jobs for Queensland.

“If we don’t develop the Galilee Basin all that will happen is some other country will develop their equivalent resource to meet projected future global demand and gain the thousands of jobs and billions in taxes and royalties,” GVK’s Josh Euler said.

It has also come to light that the Federal Government would have known as far back as mid-June that MCG had exposed the flaw in the paperwork.

LNP senator Matt Canavan said it was getting very difficult for any development because of the activism and the public funding of green groups, which in many cases includes a tax-free status, was allowing them to become too powerful.

Senator Canavan said the funding of one side politics, such as environmental groups, was getting out of hand, and Labor was trying to walk both sides of the line by talking up jobs in the regions and also supporting the greens groups.

But Mr Lynham said the Government was keen to see the mine go ahead.

“We’d like to see it as not much of a delay. We’d like to the Federal Government to get in there and sort this out as quickly as they possibly can,” he said.

“Jobs are so important to the people of Queensland and Adani will bring jobs to a very needed area of Queensland and we look forward to those jobs being produced.”


Blocking Adani coal mine approval 'dangerous' for Australia, 'tragic' for world: Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is "frustrated" at the decision to overturn the approval of Adani's Carmichael coal mine, emphasising the size of the investment and the number of jobs it would have created.

The proposed coal mine in central Queensland was set aside by the Federal Court after it was found Environment Minister Greg Hunt did not properly consider advice about two vulnerable species, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

Mr Abbott said projects like the Adani mine are too important to be hindered by red tape.  "If we get to the stage where the rules are such that projects like this can be endlessly frustrated, that's dangerous for our country and it's tragic for the wider world," he said.

"So we've got to get these projects right...but once they are fully complying with high environmental standards, let them go ahead.

"While it's absolutely true that we want the highest environmental standards to apply to projects in Australia, and while it's absolutely true that people have a right to go to court, this is a $21 billion investment, it will create 10,000 jobs in Queensland and elsewhere in our country."

Mr Abbott also said the mine would have a positive impact in India, where Adani is headquartered.

"Let them go ahead for the workers of Australia and for the people of countries like India who right at the moment have no electricity.  "Imagine what it's like to live in the modern world with no electricity.  "Australian resources can give them electricity and the interesting thing about Australian resources is that invariably they're much better for the environment than the alternative," he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was important for Australia to send the message that it welcomed foreign investment.

Adani has already spent $3 billion on the project.

Ms Bishop said Mr Abbott was commenting on the need to provide certainty for foreign investors.

She said it was important "to send a message that we welcome foreign investment, that we need foreign investment, if we are to provide the job opportunities for Australia in the future".

"That means ensuring that a major project subject to all the appropriate approvals can get underway," Ms Bishop said.

Hunt denies that approval overturn is a major problem

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has denied the overturning of the mine's approval was a major problem.

The Department of Environment said it was simply a "technical, administrative manner" and it would take between six to eight weeks for the department to prepare its advice and for the Minister to reconsider its final decision.


The humble 'yakka skink' that stopped a $16 billion coal mine

Approval for the largest coal mine in Australia has been overturned by the Federal Courts after it was found that the Minister for Environment did not adequately consider the fate of two vulnerable native species who call the region home.

Environmental approval for Adani's Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland's Galilee Basin was declared invalid on Wednesday after it was ruled that Environment Minister Greg Hunt did not consider advice presented to him about the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

Approval for the $16 billion open cut and underground coal mine was granted in July 2014, however the move was soon contested by local conservation groups.

The Mackay Conservation group challenged the approval in January saying the Minister was breaching processes that were in place to 'protect vulnerable species from destructive projects such as this mine'.


Should Halal certification cost us all money?

AUSTRALIANS are asking what in halal is going on with religious food certification and demanding an end to being forced to pay for Islamic blessings on ordinary supermarket food items.

The Senate Economics References Committee’s inquiry into third party food certification had received a staggering 670 submissions since mid-May before acceptances ended on July 31.

The committee’s first line of inquiry is into the extent of food certification schemes and certifiers in Australia including, but not limited to, schemes related to organic, kosher, halal and genetically modified food and general food safety certification schemes. The overwhelming number of submissions relate to halal certification of ritual animal slaughter often secretly agreed to and paid for by major food suppliers who pass on their multimillion-dollar costs to unwitting Australian consumers.

The latest balance sheet from Australian Federation of Islamic Councils shows revenue from halal certification fees rose from $770,920 in 2013 to $901,526 last year, with supervision fees rising from $128,640 to $148,030.

The Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia Incorporated (SICHMA) reported certification income of $1,109,700 last year up from $1,044,876 in 2013. Its halal audits (a new item on the balance sheet) raised $402,162.

While the amount charged is often secret it is known that large abattoirs can pay $27,000 per month for certification, general wholesalers can pay $40,000 per year including GST and retailers (small kebab shops, etc) can pay $5000 per year.

Of the hundreds of submissions, more than 420 were made by individuals who provided their identities, nearly 140 asked that their names be withheld for various reasons and a handful were received from organisations.

Halal certification is a relatively new phenomenon in Australia and its development closely follows the surge in extremism and revival of sharia law over the past 40 years in the Middle East.

The majority of halal certifiers in Australia are private companies which are not ­required to report as transparently as those which claim to be religious or charitable organisations.

The money raised from halal certification is difficult to track once it leaves Australia but is almost universally used to further Islam through funding of mosques and schools.

Included in the submissions are claims that a Canadian investigation found funds raised in that country had gone to the terrorist organisation Hamas.

It is also claimed that meat exporting companies, large and small, are forced to certify their products under threat of religious boycotts from some companies.

One submission noted that when South Australian dairy company Fleurieu stopped paying for halal certification it immediately lost a $50,000 Emirates Airlines supply deal — so it started paying again and the contract was reinstated. Emirates is owned by the Sunni rulers of Dubai who embrace some sharia principles and punish homosexuals with up to 14 years in prison.

Certifiers can exert control over hiring practices, trade, money, contracts and create jobs for a diaspora of co-religionists, and the NSW Industrial Relations Commission found in 2000 that the Auburn-based SICHMA selected the men allowed to be considered for hire as slaughtermen and that the Saudi-approved certifier controlled these employees — not the abattoir that hired them.

The men paid up to $75,000 each for accreditation to secure the chance of a job, and it is unclear to whom they paid that money. SICHMA charged the abattoir secret fees of 30c per carton of processed halal meat in addition to the certification fee.

Australian companies wishing to export to Muslim countries are now unable to avoid paying for halal certification. Australia’s 12th-largest trading partner Indonesia has made halal certification compulsory by 2019 on imports including all food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic.

Typical of the submissions is this from a concerned family: “We as consumers believe that private certification (not always marked on products), is inadvertently applying an ‘unofficial additional layer of cost’ to all such goods, and passed on to consumers.

“Of more concern, Australians are being forced to fund private religious bodies, to comply with traditions not applicable to the majority of purchasers!

“We find this deeply offensive, and respectfully request that all products provide clear labelling to allow ‘choice’ at the point of purchase, and not be compelled to make donations to these religious faiths/institutions.

“This is of particular concern with the current rampant spread of this certification and funding of halal and the Islamic faith.

“As to halal/kosher or any other certification requirements of a religious nature, both for domestic or export purposes, we propose that the Australian government be the ONLY Certification Board, and all costs for such certification would then flow to the Australian coffers and thereby benefit all Australians through the revenues raised.

“This would also provide a twofold benefit, by removing the concern as to where such monies are being spent …

“And secondly, this would then remove the ‘offensive’ stigmatism of funding a religious custom contrary to one’s own religious views, and surely remove most Australian non-Muslim objections?”

Question to the committee — will it provide a responsible answer to the legitimate concerns of so many voters when it reports in November?


Poorly-founded claims about ocean acidification.  Bulk of research on impacts of ocean acidification is FLAWED, new Australian study finds

Hundreds of doom-laden studies about the effects of climate change on the Earth's oceans may be flawed and unreliable, a major review has found.

For years, scientists have warned that rising levels of carbon dioxide are marking our seas more acidic – and that this spells disaster for marine life.

But a review of hundreds of studies into the effects of acidity on sea creatures suggest the vast majority may be unreliable or not fit for purpose.

The review – by two experts in Australia – said only 27 of more than 400 studies into the issue were appropriately carried out.

And 278 studies were 'clearly inappropriate' which means a huge amount of research is not fit for purpose. Some of the research, if 'reanalysed', might yield useful data, but not in its current form, say the authors.

Christopher Cornwall, who studies ocean acidification at the University of Western Australia, and ecologist Catriona Hurd of the University of Tasmania, wrote in their paper in the ICES Journal of Marine Science: 'This analysis identified that most laboratory manipulation experiments in ocean acidification research used either an inappropriate experimental design and/or data analysis, or did not report these details effectively.'

To test the effect on ocean creatures – whether lobsters, plankton, mussels, or fish – is a complex business. It requires using big tanks of seawater containing sealife to slosh around on moving tables that simulate the effect of the tides for days on end. Seawater is made more acidic by adding chemicals.

Errors made in the studies include increasing acidity without increasing temperature, not looking at other effects such as an increase of chemicals called carbonates and failing to eliminate the risk of observer bias.

The authors, commenting in Nature, say the 'overwhelming evidence' of ocean acidifiation still stands. [They had to say that]. But they say it is hard to assess the impact of ocean life from most of the experiments that have been carried out.


7 August, 2015

Another Green/Left conspiracy theory

Back in the '80s and '90s people still trusted scientists.  Some naive people still do.  So pronouncements from scientists about global warming were treated with respect.  Even Margaret Thatcher was taken in for a time.  There are a lot of people who understand science, however, and, as they began to look at the facts behind the warnings, they saw that it was all just a storm in a teacup with a poorly-founded prophecy built on top. 

And that fact eventually percolated through to a lot of people, including a lot of decision-makers.  But, because the prestige of science was great, few people denounced the scare outright.  Instead it began to get just lip service from many decision-makers.  Only Leftists retained fervour -- because the theory justified their hunger for control over us all so well.

But Leftists don't want to believe any of that so they are constantly putting out conspiracy theories:  Shady people in dark places are manipulating us all. Antisemitism is the grandfather of such theories.  Conspiracy theories are the recourse of people who don't really understand what is going on.  They are a substitute for real enquiry. So Leftists have always been big propagators of them.

And so it has been with the Green/Left.  The accusations of a dark conspiracy to prevent action on global warming never stop.  Below is the latest one from Australia

There’s something about climate change that almost everyone in Australia has either forgotten or never knew in the first place.

In 1990 Bob Hawke announced his government wanted the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2005.

For a fleeting moment, it seemed the Australian public, politicians and the media were in agreement with the science.

But a new book investigates how the industries that stood to lose the most worked to undermine the science and entirely reshape the story being told to the public.

“We have been propagandised,” says the author, Maria Taylor.
Hawke was ready

In 1989 Hawke described a “growing consensus amongst scientists” showing there was a strong chance that major climate change was on its way, that this change was linked to human activity, and this could have “major ramifications for human survival” if nothing was done.

Public statements by scientists in Australia and around the world, backed by government reports and research, had established unambiguously that humans were causing climate change. Bold steps needed to be taken if the major risks of catastrophic climate change were to be mediated.

The UN’s intergovernmental plan on climate change delivered its first blockbuster assessment of the climate science in 1990.

Taylor’s book recalls how Australia was working its way towards a detailed plan to deliver Hawke’s proposal. State governments had response strategies in place. Politicians were largely on board. So was the fourth estate. The public understood the science and the huge risks of not acting.

Now, a quarter of a century later, climate change has been turned into a toxic political football. Scientists have their integrity attacked on a daily basis.

Climate science denial is a feature of the conservative media and many members of the public are either confused about the science, ambivalent about the issue or entirely uninterested.

So how has Australia has managed to find itself behind where it was a quarter of a century ago?
The book

Around 2007, Taylor was asking herself that question. How did the corporate interest replace the public interest? How did climate science become “controversial” in the eyes of the public?

Taylor, who is a journalist and newspaper publisher, wanted to know how Australians were “persuaded to doubt what they knew”.

She reviewed hundreds of newspaper articles and government reports for a PhD thesis and now book, called Global Warming and Climate Change: What Australia Knew and Buried … Then Framed a New Reality for the Public” (you can download a copy free from publisher ANU Press).

Taylor also interviewed about a dozen key insiders, including scientists, advisers, politicians and journalists. She says the fact that Australia was ready and willing to act 25 years ago has itself been a forgotten story.

    Almost no one that I spoke to remembered the 1990 emissions reduction target. Even people like [former energy minister] John Kerin, who co-signed it!

In the book Taylor explains how from the late 1980s industry groups, free market advocates and climate contrarians got to work to reframe the issue from the science to the economics.

By 1996 much of the damage was done. The advent of John Howard’s government ensured there would be no more genuine progress.


More jobs than before and yet the unemployment rate rises?

Both are good signs. As more jobs become available in Australia, the more people start to look for work.  Previously "discouraged" workers are on the lookout again now that it seems worth looking

Employment surged in the month of July even as the unemployment rate climbed from 6 to 6.3 per cent.

The latest official figures from the Bureau of Statistics show a jump of employment of 38,500 in July after a jump of 7000 in June and 42,000 in May. The combined jump of 87,500 came as the unemployment rate climbed from 6 to 6.3 per cent.

The discrepancy is explained by a jump in the number of unemployed Australians from 771,000 to 801,000.

The results come at a time of unusual volatility in the figures following changes in the way the Bureau of Statistics collects the data.

On the face of it they show they show a big increase in the number of Australians prepared to look for work as an extra 30,000 described themselves as unemployed and an extra 87,500 found jobs.

It is highly likely that both growth rates will be revised down next month when the Bureau recalibrates its estimates to take account of lower than expected population growth.


A risky Chinese connection for Australia?

A Brisbane lecturer says corruption is rife in Chinese education, with students asking for answers and using smartphones freely.

A deal to form closer vocational training ties with China could wind up undermining Australian education programs, according to a Brisbane business expert.

Last month the Australian Skills Quality Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Education Association for International Exchange to improve quality assurance and collaborate on vocational education and training (VET).

It came after the signing of the free trade agreement between the two countries in June.

But Griffith Business School lecturer Rakesh Gupta said endemic corruption in the Chinese education system could tarnish the reputation of Australian training programs and result in poor-quality graduating students.

Dr Gupta spent much of the past 12 months guest lecturing at Chinese universities and technical colleges, and said the country struggled with "normalised" corruption in the education system.

"I came across one English language teacher who told me she was doing a substitute exam for a student in high school," he said.

"She explained that the high schools contact her, she goes there, does the exam for the student because they wouldn't pass otherwise, and they don't see any moral or ethical issues with the whole process."

Dr Gupta said other incidents included students asking for answers during exams, and using smartphones freely.

He said about 600 programs were being evaluated as potentially being transferred to China, but while Australian institutes would provide intellectual property and technical know-how, the curriculum would be taught by local recruits.

"Australia can set up education facilities there but at the end of the day it runs the risk of graduates not having the requisite competence and knowledge," Dr Gupta said.

"Policymakers are addressing the issue of corruption, but do not seem to have much support from the middle sections of the power structure in tackling it."

Dr Gupta said thorough risk assessments and regulated oversight were needed to ensure training programs.

"One institute not performing will mean there's an effect on the whole education sector from Australia," he said.

"We have a good reputation in China that we are risking."

More than 35,000 people enrolled with Australian VET providers in China in 2013.

More than 30 million Chinese students undertake formal VET, and the government wants to boost that to 38.3 million by 2020.



Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Managing Director Lyle Shelton has welcomed the raising of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion issues by the mainstream media. In recent weeks Editor-at-large for The Australian Newspaper Paul Kelly and a subsequent editorial in the same newspaper have published commentary pieces drawing attention to the consequences of legislating a new definition of marriage. Mr Shelton said "We have been concerned for many years about the intolerance of same-sex marriage lobbyists and some politicians who say there is no place in Australia for people who do not agree with a proposed new definition of marriage," Mr Shelton said.

Mr Shelton said Kelly was right to say there was a "haze of misinformation and emotion" surrounding the debate. "It is admirable that supporters of same-sex marriage such as The Australian newspaper and human rights commissioner Tim Wilson acknowledge that current proposals to change marriage do not protect people who will never accept the state's new definition. "What is becoming clear is that same-sex marriage ideology is incompatible with freedom. "All of the debate of the past five years has been about forcing people of conscience to bow to the new definition of marriage," Mr Shelton said. "In America and Europe individuals who exercise their conscience and publicly manifest their belief in the timeless definition of marriage are routinely being hauled before courts and tribunals. Australians would not support same-sex marriage if they knew that this was a consequence."

Mr Shelton said Kelly was right to observe that all of the current proposals to change the definition of marriage contained no protections for individuals' freedom of conscience and inadequate protections for religious freedom. "Mr Kelly is right to observe that lack of protections for non-religious individuals and of religions amounted to 'calculated intolerance' by same-sex marriage lobbyists and their political supporters." Mr Shelton renewed ACL's calls for Australian Marriage Equality head Rodney Croome to stop reporting the Catholic Church to the Human Rights Commission for distributing material promoting the benefits of gender diverse marriage.

"I note that Mr Croome has rejected the idea of protections against legal action against individuals who did not agree with same-sex marriage. "Also, the New South Wales independent MP and former head of AME, Alex Greenwich, should cease his attacks on the protections for religious freedom in State anti-discrimination law," Mr Shelton said. "There is a long way to go before thinking people could have confidence that the same-sex marriage political agenda does not reach far beyond the slogans of 'equal love' for two adults," Mr Shelton said.

In the commentary pieces written by Mr Kelly and the editor of The Australian they make the point that the central issue in any Australian recognition of same-sex marriage remains almost invisible - whether the state's re-definition of civil marriage will authorise an assault on churches, institutions and individuals who retain their belief in the traditional view of marriage. They go on "It seems to this point that none of the proposals for same-sex marriage or related policy prescriptions are satisfactory laws for passage by the Australian parliament. The real issue is conceptually simple - it is whether same-sex marriage will deny conscience rights to much of the population.

Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, has also weighed into the debate. "The primary problem is that people think of religious protection just in terms of a minister of religion solemnising a marriage," Wilson said. "But this is a superficial analysis of the issue. The question of religious freedom has not been taken seriously. It is treated as an afterthought. We cannot allow a situation where the law is telling people they have to act against their conscience and beliefs. We cannot protect the rights of one group of people by denying the rights of another group." If the Australian parliament intends to create a legal regime with this consequence then the law-makers must justify this to the people and explain how such -calculated intolerance leads to a better society.

Kelly correctly claims that the legalisation of same-sex marriage means the laws of the state and the laws of the church will be in conflict over the meaning of the most important institution in society. This conflict between the civil and religious meaning of marriage will probably be untenable and marked by litigation, attempts to use anti-discrimination law and entrenched bitterness. But an effort ought to be made to make it tenable on the basis of mutual tolerance. A legal brief put to the US Supreme Court on this issue offers the best statement we are likely to see on the method of reconciliation between these competing rights. "The proper response to the conflict between gay rights and religious liberty is to protect the liberty of both sides," the brief argues.

"Both sexual and religious minorities make essentially parallel claims on the larger society, and the conduct that follows from each, are fundamental to human identity. Both same-sex couples and religious organisations and believers committed to traditional understandings of marriage, face hostile regulation that condemns their most cherished commitments as evil. There should be no doubt, however, about the bottom line: the Australian parliament should not legislate the right to same-sex marriage on the altar of denying institutions and individuals the right to their conscience.

Kelly is also correct when he asks what is the real ideology of the same-sex marriage campaign. "Is it merely to allow gays to marry? Or is its ultimate purpose to impose "marriage equality" across the entire society, civil and religious. Is "marriage equality", as designed and evolving by its advocates, an ideology that can live with two different concepts of marriage, civil and religious?"  The concern for Christians is not limited to whether pastors are made to perform wedding ceremonies against their conscience. There is a wide range of other issues to be considered. Must religious colleges provide married housing to same-sex couples? Must churches and synagogues employ spouses in same-sex marriages even though this flouts their religious teaching? Must religious social-service agencies place children for adoption with same-sex couples?

Will religious institutions be penalised by losing government contracts, tax exemptions and access to public facilities? Will religious institutions and schools be penalised if they teach their own beliefs about marriage, thereby contradicting the state's view of marriage? Or will the state laws via anti-discrimination legislation be mobilised to force the state's view on to religious institutions?  Australian lawyer and priest Frank Brennan argues, that the upshot in the US will be "years of litigation" about the rights of religious bodies that is sure to be "nasty and hard fought". The public grasp of this issue in Australia is far distant from the debate that is needed.

Wilson's comments on this issue reveal that he knows this is not the way to proceed. It only guarantees institutional division and rancour. The core question remains: what is the real ideological objective of the same-sex marriage campaign? The issue needs serious attention if Australia is to avoid same-sex marriage laws that are shallow and problematic and would open the way for sectarian divisions and protracted, costly litigation. Australian Cardinal George Pell raised similar concerns at a church conference in Ireland recently, citing the closure of adoption agencies in England and Northern Ireland because they would not place children with same-sex couples.

The struggle to maintain religious freedom across the world, Pell said, would intensify following the Irish referendum and US Supreme Court decision backing same-sex marriage. The separation of church and state does not legitimise the right of governments to be anti-religious or to diminish or intimidate church communities. Such concerns have already emerged overseas, which partially influenced Austrian MPs to vote 110-26 against same-sex marriage last month. In the US, religious universities have been prosecuted for not providing married accommodation to same-sex couples. Christian and Jewish organisations have been challenged to employ same-sex spouses. In Europe, rabbis and bishops have been condemned for "hate speech'' for stating their faith traditions.

Australian Prayer Network - Newsletter

6 August, 2015

Attention-seekers using the Adam Goodes controversy to get publicity for themselves

I agree with the various people who have called Goodes a "sook" -- (a crybaby, a whiner, a whinger).  Stan Grant is another part-Aboriginal complainer who was "all shook up" over not fitting in well as a child. The big thing missing from the thinking of such people is any sense of perspective.  They assume that they are the only ones who have experienced problems. 

But we nearly all have our crosses to bear.  It's not only racial differences that can burden us. Just ask any short man about how he feels when women look right past him, for example.  And very tall women usually wish they were shorter.  And what about being fat? Is there any greater social disadvantage than that these days?  Fat is usually regarded as changeable but it rarely is in practice.

I grew up in a small country town where sport was the focus of most social activity. But at no time have I had any interest in sport.  So I was "left out" and "did not fit in" too.  But I was too busy reading books to be much bothered by that.  I could have been a whiner and a whinger about the heavy focus on sport and the way that "marginalized" people like me.  But I was not such a whiner and whinger.  I just got on with making the most of what opportunities I did have. I guess I had what people call a "thick skin".  I think I still do.  Goodes and Grant clearly do not. 

Both have in fact had excellent opportunities that they have seized to their great benefit.  Why do they now want the moon too?  Nobody can have it all and the amount of social support they have is more than most do.  From the positions of success that they both occupy, they could surely be indulgent and tolerant -- maybe even amused -- towards anybody who criticizes them.  But they are not manly enough for that

But all that is of no concern to those described below.  It is for them just a party where they can declare loudly how wonderfully just and caring they are

More than 200 passionate 'warriors' gathered in Melbourne's Federation square to perform an Indigenous war dance in support of embattled AFL star Adam Goodes.

The flash mob, mainly comprised of students and staff from the Victorian College of the Arts,  threw their fists in the air and made spear throwing gestures as they vowed to 'change the world' by actively fighting racism.

The dance was inspired by Goodes own spear-throwing performance at the MCG two months ago, which ignited an ongoing booing campaign against the former Australian of the Year, prompting him to take an extended leave of absence from the AFL.

Goodes, who said he is ready to put the racism controversy behind him, returned to training with the Sydney Swans on Tuesday ahead of Saturday's match-up against Geelong.

Richard Frankland, Indigenous performer and organiser of the flash mob, said he, and his students, wanted to take a stand against those critical of Goodes, and the public celebration of his Indigenous heritage, by emulating the very dance that sparked the controversy.

'All [Goodes] did was open a door Australia was too scared to look through - not all of Australia, just some of us, but those who do look through see this wonderful beautiful opportunity,' he told ABC News.

Mr Frankland managed to command the scattered crowd's attention as he chanted: 'What are you? What are you?'  'Warriors!' the group responded as they threw their fists in the air. 

'What have you got in your hand?' Mr Frankland asked.  The protesters placed their hands over their heart and cheered: 'Spear! Shield!'

The group of anti-racism protesters then lunged forward, with their spears in hand, and loudly declared that they would 'change the world' by 'fighting racism'.

Aboriginal woman Tammy Anderson said she hoped the flash mob helped the wider public to understand that performing an Indigenous war dance is not a declaration of war, nor is it an act of aggression.

She said it is simply a physical expression of culture, similar to the Maori Haka.

'Everyone's scared of these invisible spears so we have to throw something back with our words,' she told ABC News.

The Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, from University of Melbourne, used their joint twitter account to organise and mobilise the group of protesters.


Three (wrong) attitudes towards ageing

 Our population is ageing. This will bring profound economic and fiscal challenges that will require significant changes in government spending. But it will also require us to change our attitudes towards ageing and the aged. There are three specific attitudes that, if changed, would go far in combating the coming challenge.

* Older workers are less valuable

A recent report found more than 50,000 people involuntarily retired in 2011 for job-related reasons. A 2015 survey showed a quarter of Australians over 50 reported experiencing age related discrimination, and one third of managers factored age into their decision making.

The government has responded by introducing incentive payments for hiring older Australians but government incentives aren't always effective in changing people's attitudes, only their behaviour.

It is in everyone's interest for older Australians to stay in the workforce longer. Someone aged 50 today could work for 20 more years, much longer than someone aged 25 is likely to stay in one job.

* Retirees are poor, vulnerable and need protecting by government

The stereotypical image of a pensioner is someone struggling to get by in public housing who may occasionally have to eat pet food. However retirees are a very diverse cohort. Some are indeed struggling to get by, marginalised by high costs of living (especially rent) or health concerns. But this is not all (or even most) pensioners. 75%-80% of pensioners own their home without a mortgage, while around 30% of single pensioners and 50% of couple pensioners have more than $900,000 in net worth.

It is condescending to think of older Australians as helpless. Just because someone has reached retirement age does not automatically mean they need government funding. If retirees can support themselves they should do so before asking for taxpayer help.

* I've worked hard and saved, I deserve a pension

Perhaps one of the more pernicious myths in retirement income policy is that the pension is a reward for working hard and paying taxes or part of some grand intergenerational bargain. It's not. The pension is a safety net for those who can't support themselves.

If taxpayers end up having to pay for your retirement anyway, they don't care if you were careful with your money while others blew theirs. The pension should not be a taxpayer-funded reward for looking after yourself.

Changing attitudes is every bit as important as fiscal reform in combating the challenges of an ageing population.


Cory Bernardi takes aim at Australian Institute of Sport over dining hall halal

Firebrand Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has set his anti-halal sights on the Australian Institute of Sport.

The controversial backbencher, who is a leading critic of the Islamic certification of food and set up a contentious Senate inquiry into the issue, has demanded answers from the AIS about its halal policies in its dining hall.

In a series of "questions on notice" that have just been made public, the South Australian politician called on the AIS to explain an information manual that says all its dining hall meats are halal certified.

The manual has stoked online controversy among halal opponents. A "Boycott Halal in Australia" Facebook page that has more than 80,000 likes calls the AIS policy "outrageous". Earlier this year readers of Senator Bernardi's blog urged him to get to the bottom of it.

Critics were particularly incensed that halal food appeared to be provided as standard but kosher food could be provided only on request and incurred very high additional costs, a point Senator Bernardi takes up in one of his questions.

"Does the AIS acknowledge that there appears to be a discrepancy in religious food requirements, between the provision of food for Muslim athletes and the provision of food for Jewish athletes?" he wrote.

But the Australian Sports Commission, which is responsible for the institute, said the manual was not strictly accurate. A spokesman for the ASC said while meat supplied in the dining hall came from a halal-certified supplier, the institute had not specifically requested halal-certified products.

"The AIS has now amended its dietary guidelines to reflect this," the spokesman said.

The AIS can cater for halal requirements on an "as needs basis" – the same approach it takes to kosher food.

Halal meat has been requested by some clients following the changes. "The AIS apologises unreservedly to people who have unknowingly consumed food that was not halal certified at the AIS," the spokesman said.

Senator Bernardi's inquiry into "third party certification of food" has attracted a flood of sometimes bizarre and hateful submissions.

The inquiry received around 600 public submissions before the July 31 deadline, many of which contained vicious attacks on Muslims and the Islamic faith. It is due to report to parliament in November.


Wind Inquiry Recommends careful regulation

The Senate Inquiry into wind farms has tabled a final report. The report recommends a series of ‘National Wind Farm Guidelines’ to be enforced against state governments which would have their eligibility to participate in the Clean Energy Certificate market created under the Renewable Energy Target threatened if they fail to comply.

The committee, which was dominated by senators who have publicly voiced their aversion to the wind energy sector, also recommended the establishment by statute of an ‘Independent Expert Committee on Industrial Sound’ (IECIS).

The committee on industrial sound would carry the remit of “conducting independent, multi-disciplinary research into the adverse impacts and risks to individual and community health and wellbeing associated with wind turbine projects”.

Earlier this year the National Health and Medical Research Council completed its own report which found that “there is no direct evidence that exposure to wind farm noise affects physical or mental health”.

But the committee took aim at a number of respected institutions and academics who concurred with the international consensus that wind farms are not harmful to human health.

The Australian Medical Association was accused of a “lack of rigour” and “slavish repetition of the findings of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s reviews,” which the committee was also highly critical of.

Instead, it recommended the committee on industrial sound become the dominant body and assume responsibility for developing a system of ‘National Wind Farm Guidelines’ in an attempt to push states to accept Federal standards on “visual amenity”, noise levels, standard buffer zones from residences, and community consultation processes.

The report is predicated on the position that “the wind sector in Australia is suffering from a crisis in community confidence” and that this must be solved through greater Federal involvement, despite recent polling indicating voters want the Commonwealth to do more to boost clean energy.

“There is deep scepticism within many local communities about the way in which wind operators are monitored and the complicit role of state governments in fudging results that find compliance,” the report said.

Under the recommendations state and territory governments would be required to “seek the advice of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound [as to] whether the proposed project poses risks to individual and community health” before granting approval.

State governments would then be unable to approve a project until the Federal Health Minister was satisfied the “risks to human health” had been mitigated.

The Federal government has already agreed to key recommendations of the report, including establishing the committee on industrial sound by the beginning of September this year and creating a Wind Farm Commissioner to handle grievances.

Labor Senator Anne Urquhart has already made her party’s grievances clear, with Labor slamming the report as “reckless, ridiculous and irresponsible”, a position which raises questions about whether the Federal government will be willing to open a new legislative battle front to implement key recommendations.

Senator Urquhart was the only Labor member on the committee and she prepared a dissenting report to prosecute the opposition’s argument that “this isn’t just an attack on wind” but rather the nation’s “entire renewable energy industry”.

“The majority report is belligerently deaf to the expert advice that wind energy is not only safe, but it is affordable and should play a critical role in Australia’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” Urquhart said

“Not one professional scientific, medical or acoustics body in the world holds the proposition that wind farms are dangerous to human health, and yet the majority report predicates a raft of onerous recommendations on this completely unsubstantiated claim.”

Federal Labor recently announced a policy of achieving 50 per cent renewable energy within 15 years and its state satellites are likely to share Uruhart’s concerns over “the Prime Minister’s blind obsession with destroying an industry that promises billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs in regional communities”.

The Victorian Labor government recently called on the Commonwealth to relax the Renewable Energy Target’s foundational legislation after the opposition was forced to cut it by 20 per cent, but yesterday’s recommendations could create far bigger headaches if successfully implemented.

The report recommends a project’s ability to attract subsidies under the Renewable Energy Target be contingent on its compliance with Federal guidelines on matters such as “visual amenity” and noise levels, including retrospectively with companies given “a period of no more than five years with which to comply”.

It also argues that all new projects should be eligible to trade under the Renewable Energy Target for no more than five years and that this should be subject to a requirement to “link the issuing of renewable energy certificates with confirmed greenhouse gas reduction”.

In 2013, wind power attracted 60 per cent of Renewable Energy Certificates and accounted for 63 per cent of total renewable-generated electricity.

In its dissenting report Labor criticised the Inquiry’s terms of reference for not considering “the broader imperative … to mitigate the impact of climate change”.

“In short,” the dissenting report reads, “the terms of reference have been framed so as to avoid consideration of the primary issues that must be addressed by public policy regarding Australia's energy generation mix”.


5 August, 2015

A Leftist account of Australia's climate policy

They see that the current policy is only very light Green.  They deplore that.  I praise it. I have deleted some abusive adjectives below

In stark comparison to the wide-ranging plan Obama announced to curb America’s carbon pollution, the climate the Abbott government has cultivated around global warming leaves it with very few options.

Clearly, there will be no carbon tax. Axing the tax has - as we all know, know, know - been perhaps the government’s proudest achievement. And true to form, after Labor announced a couple of weeks back that they would introduce an emissions trading scheme, Hunt has repeatedly parroted the false declaration that “an emissions trading scheme is just a carbon tax with a different name”.

Presumably that means that an ETS - favoured by lefty institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and at least 40 national governments worldwide - is also off the cards.

Let’s face it, this government has always been about Direct Action! Getting in there; planting trees; raising a (green) army! That’s the ticket to electoral success and the government shows no indication of admitting one syllable of failure.

But there are other ways - besides great big new taxes on everything - to tackle emissions. In the pensive hours before the major new US policy was detailed, media speculated it would pave the way for a massive escalation in renewables deployment.

On this point too though, the government has been direct with the Australian people about its inaction.

As the Prime Minister, defending the government’s tardiness in slashing the Renewable Energy Target, told broadcaster Alan Jones: “What we did recently in the Senate was to reduce, Alan, capital R-E-D-U-C-E, the number of these things [wind turbines] that we are going to get in the future.”

“Frankly,” Abbott said, “I would have liked to have reduced the number a lot more”.

While it “got the best deal [it] could out of the Senate”, the government only managed to cause investment in renewables to tank by 90 per cent. What a hash! But the point is that renewables have more or less been ruled out by the Abbott government.

So why not just pump up the Direct Action to give the government a way out of this jam?

Here’s the thing; the only way the government could feasibly use Direct Action to cut carbon pollution to the levels that’ll be required after the current 2020 commitment period is by dramatically modifying the so-called ‘safeguard mechanism’ that’s built into the scheme.

Under its policy the Abbott government pays polluters to pollute a little less, and the safeguard mechanism was supposed to prevent the polluters that aren’t being paid from going silly and increasing their emissions.

Right now, it’s more or less lying dormant, which brings us back to that RepuTex analysis and its judgement of the government’s climate policy as “untenable” unless the safeguard mechanism is beefed up.

As the analysis notes, “None of Australia’s top 20 emitting facilities are currently expected to incur any liability under the scheme, despite almost all being forecast to grow their emissions over the next ten years.”

Basically, there’s nothing to stop big polluters from polluting more unless there’s a serious tightening of the policy, and emissions increases from those vast majority of companies that would have no obligation under Direct Action to cut their carbon are likely to far outweigh the mitigation that the government is using our money to pay for.

But there’s hope. “While the scheme is currently a ‘toothless tiger’, it may readily be characterised as a ‘hidden dragon’ given the potential scope for a more meaningful compliance market to emerge,” the RepuTex analysis said.

Unfortunately for the Abbott government the Labor Opposition, which might ordinarily be quite fairly characterised as a ‘toothless tiger’, would exploit the hypocrisy the government would need to display to fix the safeguard mechanism in its quest to make climate change a key battleground at the next Federal election.

For the government to make the ‘safeguard’ mechanism work, it would effectively need to put a cap on carbon in the economy and create a financial disincentive for polluters who exceed their share.

On Hunt’s  logic, which dismisses anything that caps pollution, that’s just another damn carbon tax.


Airline strikes a flop

Public sector strikes at international airports across the nation this morning appear to have had little impact on flight schedules but the Community and Public Sector Union is vowing to continue its fight to bring the government to the negotiating table.

The union staged four hour strikes at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports this morning “to protest the Abbott Government’s attack on [customs and immigration workers’] rights, conditions and take home pay,” mostly between 6 and 10 am.

Customs and Immigration said it was "able to maintain our normal robust border security and processing procedures at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports during the period of protected industrial action," but there are further work stoppages planned to take place in Perth, Adelaide, Cairns, the Gold Coast and Sydney later this evening.

“Public sector workers on our borders undertake important, difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs on behalf of our community - they deserve better,” CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said.

“Workers are facing the loss of up to $8,000 a year – even more for those in remote areas or with specialised skills - from their take home pay.

“The Abbott Government is insisting the department take an axe to the allowances that make up much of their pay packets which compensate them for weeks away from family at sea, using firearms, meeting high fitness standards, working long hours, unusual shifts and performing dirty and/or dangerous work.”

The CPSU said that the after more than a year of negotiations over new enterprise bargaining agreements for public sector workers, the Abbott government and Department of Employment have put forward conditions “worse than any major private sector employer” is offering.

The enterprise agreements governing the public sector expired on June 30 last year but, according to the CPSU, 98.5 per cent of public sector workers are still without new agreements after a year of fruitless negotiations.

Flood said the government’s failure to strike a deal, which has already seen extensive industrial action grip at least 16 government agencies, is part of a broader attack on public sector workers.

“The Abbott Government has cut more than 17,000 public sector jobs and is now going after the pay and conditions of those left,” she said.

“While this action will impact on the public, the real target is the Abbott Government’s unfair and unworkable bargaining policy which stands between these workers and getting a fair deal.”

This morning’s delays mooted to affect the busy peak hour do not appear to have materialised, though, with a spokesperson for Melbourne airport telling New Matilda that “in terms of our operations, they haven’t been affected. There’s been no delays”.

Sydney also escaped largely unscathed after the Department of Immigration and Border Protection put "carefully planned contingency arrangements in place to protect Australia’s borders and ensure priority areas are managed and the impact of protected industrial action is mitigated".

The CPSU strikes also extended to the Department of Agriculture - including quarantine - and the Australian Border Force Marine Unit which staged “in port” bans on loading and pre-departure checks, routines and maintenance activities which will continue into the coming week.

A deal to end the strikes has been difficult for individual departments to secure because the union is unsatisfied with the Department of Employment’s Bargaining Policy, which sets out the general parameters within which other departments can negotiate pay and conditions.

“Minister Abetz will no doubt come out with his usual line about excessive pay claims, but I have now said countless times that all these workers expect is to maintain their rights and real wages,” Flood said. “The more he says it, the angrier these workers get.”

Customs and Immigration declined to comment on the contingency arrangements it put in place for "operational security reasons".


PM announces plan for shipbuilding

Bad news for the taxpayer.  Union bastardry will bloat the cost.  Australia should import from proven suppliers

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed construction of new offshore patrol vessels will start in 2018 and new frigates in 2020 under a $40 billion plan for continuous shipbuilding in Australia.

A RESTRUCTURED surface naval shipbuilding industry could be competitive and provide the best possible ships at the best possible price, he said.

From 2020 onwards there will be build-up to about 2500 workers employed continuously in surface naval shipbuilding and most of them will be in Adelaide, he told reporters in the South Australian capital on Tuesday.

"The frigates are coming as the first prize and one way or another the subs will be coming as a further prize," Mr Abbott had told ABC radio earlier, ahead of the formal announcement.

"You shouldn't assume that the subs won't happen here."

The submarine contract is subject to a competitive evaluation process being contested by Japanese, French and German shipbuilders who will be required to outline local involvement in any tenders.

The prime minister conceded Australian shipbuilders would not be able to avoid entirely the so-called "valley of death" - the gap between the end of existing contracts and the start of new ones - with jobs in the sector likely to halve from 2000 to 1000 over the next few years.

But it should rebuild to about 2500 ongoing positions by 2020.

"This is the best possible outcome for service shipbuilding in Australia," Mr Abbott said.

Independent SA senator Nick Xenophon conceded it was better to have the warships built in his state than not, but he was still critical of the announcement.

"You need critical mass in the industry and that would also need to involve building the submarines as promised," he told ABC radio.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said there was no question both the warships and the submarines should be built in Australia.

"Mr Abbott views these multi-billion dollar, multi-thousand job contracts as political prizes aimed at just saving his own job," he told reporters outside Victorian-based shipbuilder BAE Systems on Tuesday.

Victorian Industry Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the 2018 and 2020 shipbuilding orders were too late to save jobs in Melbourne.

She said a suggestion from the prime minister that Williamstown could host a subordinate shipyard wouldn't help when work dried up at BAE Systems in 2016.

"Where is the comfort in that?" she said.


How government red tape is causing a major Queensland industry to lose $1bn a year

QUEENSLAND’S struggling LNG industry is losing $1 billion a year because of government red tape, according to Deloitte Consulting director Geoffrey Cann.

He estimates the bill nationally could be as much as $4 billion a year as the states and the Federal Government lay down more and more conditions and reporting demands stemming from employee inductions to environmental issues.

The three LNG projects also had hundreds of conditions imposed on their approval, some going into minute operating detail and the industry claimed the excessive red tape posed a real threat to ongoing investment, growth and prosperity.

The huge cost comes as the three LNG projects on Curtis Island, near Gladstone, have fallen from promising big returns to shareholders to a point where they are now nearing break-even.

Governments also promised a big payday for taxpayers but that too has withered with royalties this financial year expected to be only $129 million, compared with last year’s forecast of $561 million.

“The regulatory burden in Queensland is a specific concern,’’ Mr Cann said.  “Excessive levels of overlapping rules, burdensome reporting and high compliance costs are all a drain on the economics of the industry,’’ he said.  “Costs need to move by 40 per cent or more to provide some margin to the projects,’’ Mr Cann said.

The issue has handed the State Government a headache but it recently set up a gas action plan to resolve problems within the industry.

Among the big hits for the industry was the cost of lodging financial assurances to completely rehabilitate the project in case the companies behind it collapsed.


Another troublesome Muslim

He had "a traditional Muslim wedding".  Probably a Turk

Murat Shomshe, the man who became a fugitive after being granted bail to attend his own wedding, has been arrested.

A Victoria police spokeswoman said that Taskforce Fugitive detectives arrested Shomshe at around 10am on Tuesday in the Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield.

“Investigators would like to thank the public and the media for their assistance,” she added.

Shomshe, 33, has links to motorcycle gangs and police warned he could have had access to firearms. He was granted bail after telling a county court judge he feared losing a $6,000 deposit on his wedding venue if he changed the date of the ceremony.

Shomshe was meant to surrender to the court last Monday in order to return to custody but instead fled while his bride, Belinda Dulevski, was in the shower.

The fugitive was last seen by police at his home at 6am on 27 July, hours before his planned court appearance.

Initially, police were unable to name the man for fear it would prejudice his upcoming court case. But on Monday morning Victoria police announced the fugitive taskforce had taken over the investigation and released the man’s name as Murat Shomshe.

According to the Herald Sun, Shomshe and Duleski had 470 guests at their wedding. Duleski is set to lose $10,000 she put up as bail money after Shomshe made his temporary escape.


4 August, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is hoping for a return to more serious matters now that Bronwyn Bishop has resigned

An Aboriginal voice on Adam Goodes

Dallas Scott's comments below confirm my impression that the behaviour by Goodes was very un-Aboriginal.  In my experience, Aborigines are quiet, retiring, complaisant  people, anything but confrontational people.  The aggression displayed by Goodes reflects his largely white ancestry, not his small degree of Aboriginal ancestry

Sections of our media, together with the hierarchy of the unnecessary at the AFL, are now lying to protect Adam Goodes:    “They’re not booing you Adam, they’re just displaying their deep seated racism the only way they can."

Of course, we have the regular roster of apologists come out, shaming the country and our society for cutting down a sports star who happens to have Aboriginal blood as part of his racial make-up.  The caring, informed and sensitive city dwellers who, despite their alabaster skin tone and lack of racial diversity, can not only see, smell and hear racism, but tragically, are so deeply affected by it that they feel they must differentiate themselves from the white person next to them by pointing at them and screaming racist long enough and loud enough that somehow, somewhere in the midst of all their righteous shouting, their own skin tone will be forgotten or ignored.

One thing I’ve come to understand about our society is that often, those who see themselves as the most tolerant, educated and enlightened are usually most racist, close-minded of all.  These types were the first to pick up their keyboard or a microphone and declare that speaking negatively about the so-called ‘war dance’ effort from Adam Goodes over the weekend means that we are culturally ignorant, yet in making such a claim, have themselves ignored an entire segment of the Aboriginal community, who are appalled at the ‘performance’.   In wanting us to be a homogenous community capable of only thinking and feeling one way, therefore enabling them to have the correct information and be ‘right’, they are guilty of the same crime they are continually accusing an entire nation of – RACISM. 

The fact is, some Aboriginal people, myself included, saw that embarrassing display and did not feel pride.  Instead, we felt shame, and a sense of sadness and loss.  Some of this stems from seeing yet more of our traditions mocked and traded upon, invented and earning overnight acclaim, for little more than cheap thrills while the long standing traditions are ignored, left to die quietly and uncelebrated until they are forgotten and lost forever.  Some of this comes from the fact we're tired of the theatrics, and how his need for attention will play out for the rest of us, and creep a little into our own lives.  For an urban blackfella like me, I hate the fact that all of a sudden my opinion is relevant.  I haven’t written a blog post in almost a year, or bothered to watch free to air television in even longer, yet received two messages on my phone today – one from SBS and the other from 2GB, wanting to know what I think about the whole Goodes drama and depending on what I think, whether they want to hear from me. 

Views like mine, that are contrary to the representations being made by the rabid, name-calling media, are ignored or rejected by all those who simply want to brand every incident or comment with an ‘ism’, because the object of their outrage is never to stimulate an educated debate or a discussion, but rather they wish to simply stand on their given podium and recite their narcissistic lecture, a pointless exercise for them to reinforce their followers that they alone are a bastion of cultural relevance, understanding and compassion.  Sadly, theses ‘enlightened’ folks also tend to take their cues on history from the most removed people of a culture, merely because they tend to occupy the cubicle or apartment next to them, or speak with the most authoritarian voice or sense of victimhood – a sure sign that they must know what they are on about, according to our current high standards of journalism in this country – instead of seeking the truth and looking for those with knowledge that comes from a life of lived tradition, rather than being well removed from it.

I used to dance as a kid.  Most of the kids who grew up in our house did it, but I have no intention of my own children doing the same.  My reluctance has nothing to do with them being of mixed heritage though, and everything to do with cultural appropriation.  I said I used to ‘dance’ as a kid, because that is really all it was.  I was dressed in a lap-lap and painted up, was taught the moves the rest of the kids were doing, but it was all just a show.  The dances were not ones passed on to us from our Elders, performed for a specific reason or during a time of unique and special celebration that led me to understand my culture in a meaningful way, but rather a collection of dance moves put together by a choreographer who may or may not have had a distant Aboriginal ancestor she found out about in her mid-thirties.  A few documentaries and books from the library later, she had all the cultural awareness she felt she needed, and as a bunch of children not yet trusted with much knowledge, we didn’t know any better.  We danced for smiling crowds of educated, enlightened people who clapped politely while murmuring “Oh, how cultural”, as they watched us enraptured.  I would smile back at them and dance harder, oblivious to what I was doing and simply happy to receive positive praise and attention from a crowd of people I didn’t even know.  But I was no better than a performing monkey to them, and for all their education and compassion, those crowds were the most racist people of all.  Their wisdom and understanding of Aboriginal people and culture was a passing fetish, and in an effort to appease them, I was walking all over my own culture for their amusement, all of us completely ignorant to this heartbreaking fact.

After becoming a man, I learned better.  I learned that our chants, and our dances are sacred.  They are powerful and special secrets, not entertainment for the masses or political statements designed to make sure you get yet another mention in the nightly news.  I also took it to heart that the title of ‘Warrior’ is like respect.  It is always earned, not merely given because of the colour of your skin or your heritage.  I am proud to say that some of my own ancestors include great Warriors - men who fought and died to protect their families and their way of life, and faced enormous battles that I could never fully comprehend from where I sit today, in a relative position of privilege by comparison, however you look at the statistics and facts. It would make a mockery of the suffering and heroism of my ancestors to assign a title of great reverence and historical significance, such as ‘Warrior’,  to a person whose fame and heroism is derived from little more than the ability to show up a few weekends a year and kick a leather ball around an overly groomed piece of paddock.

As Adam walks out for his next game, before making his way onto that perfectly manicured stadium lawn, I suggest he take a deep, slow breath and reflect upon the reality of his life.  Rather than having to emerge from the sheds for the ‘coloured people’, kept separate from the white folks playing beside him, he will run out after being supported by his entire team, not kept to the back.  When he is thirsty, he doesn’t have to take a drink at the appropriately labelled drinking fountain, set aside for only folks with his racial identity, but rather will be served like a prince, with a special servant whose only job is to provide refreshments for the thirsty players, regardless of their skin colour or heritage.  As he drives his brand new sports car to training, where he looks around at the other players arriving in their equally expensive vehicles and stops to realise he is paid just as much as them, if not more, he should perhaps pause a moment and wonder about whether he is fighting a war that has already been won, and instead of complaining from his position at the top, realise how those on the bottom rungs might be sick of hearing him whinging and would much rather he just got on with life.


A good comment from Mark Allinson following the above blog post:

What a great post – I couldn’t agree more! I am a white fella, and I am ashamed of my people. No, not the ones who boo Adam Goodes, but the “educated” elites in the universities and the media who are so quick to point out the “racism” of their “ignorant” fellow Ozzies. Climbing up on the soapbox of their oh so superior morality gives them a sense of being “higher” beings, more moral, more special than their benighted “red-necked” fellows. Apparent self-hatred of the culture affords them a delicious degree of personal self-love. Even at the cost of social cohesion they will indulge their disgusting lust for self-loving superiority.

And these are the people who see “racism” everywhere they look. For some of them, it’s almost as if they are safely projecting onto others something they dare not examine in themselves, I think. For others it is a stick with which to bash their culture for left-wing political purposes. All in all, these elites are the true agents of division in our culture, and I am ashamed of them. I love the aboriginal people and I want us all to live together as Australians, not as “us” and “them”, which is why I boo Adam Goodes and the other race-baiters.

Tony Abbott resisted Barack Obama overtures on trade deal

Tony Abbott has defied a personal plea from US President Barack Obama to cave in to an American demand for longer medical patents that would push up drug prices in Australia.

In a phone call to the Prime Minister more than a week ago, Mr Obama sought Australian trade concessions to facilitate the conclusion of the 12-nation, $200 billion, Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Negotiations on the TPP, led for Australia by Trade Minister Andrew Robb, broke down in Hawaii at the weekend. Before the Hawaii negotiations, Mr Obama rang a number of leaders to lobby to get the deal concluded.

The US wants to increase the term for patents on biologic drugs — those made from natural sources — from five years to 12 years. The President put this position strongly to Mr Abbott. However, he firmly rejected Mr Obama’s proposal.

Both Mr Abbott and Mr Robb are on the record as saying they will sign no deal that will increase the price of drugs in Australia.

Although Mr Robb has tried to be positive after the breakdown in Hawaii, the view of the Australian government is clear and firming: no deal is better than a bad deal.

The Abbott government does not intend to compromise its bottom line on the TPP.

Mr Abbott and Mr Obama discussed other issues, including the challenge of terrorism and the situation in Iraq. But Mr Obama’s chief priority was to try to bring the TPP to closure.

The other sticking point for Australia is that the US must substantially increase access to its market for Australian sugar producers. Australia is allowed to export less than 90,000 tonnes of sugar a year to the US, while the total annual US sugar market is 10 million tonnes.

With Australia’s access to a portion of the “normal growth” expected in the US market, and a most marginal concession by the US, American negotiators have offered to raise this to 150,000 tonnes. The Abbott government believes this is completely unsatisfactory.

The government faces a stark political reality on both biologic drugs and sugar. It has promised it won’t compromise on drugs and five Nationals MPS have said they will cross the floor of parliament and vote against the deal if a better sugar offer from the US is not forthcoming.

This follows on from the Howard government not getting anything on sugar in the bilateral free-trade agreement it concluded a decade ago with the US.

The hypocrisy of the US positio­n in these talks is stark. It is demanding free trade from others but continuing near absolute protection of its sugar market. In other words, it wants liberalisation where that would help US producers and protection where that would help US producers.

Similarly, much of its efforts on intellectual property protection, such as extending the biologic drugs patents, is a form of protect­ionism itself, trying to tie up trade in technology for as long as possible without regard to the costs this imposes on others.

The barriers for other nations concluding the TPP remain formidable. There is a series of un­resolved disputes concerning trade in autos involving the US, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

There is also a big unresolved dispute over dairy trade. In this area, the US has demonstrated considerable incoherence, having advanced some concessions in negotiati­ons only to withdraw them later, making the whole process extremely complicated.

Canberra is not worried about the prospect of investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, which can allow foreign corporations to take legal action against governments. Despite some US objections, it is certain that Canberra will be able to extract exclus­ions involving health and environ­mental regulations. This means it would be impossible for actions such as that taken against Australia’s plain packaging tobacco legislation to proceed.

Australia already has ISDS provisions in deals covering 29 other trade partners, some of which have existed for three decades, and there has only ever been one action taken against Australian government legislation.

There was no need for ISDS provisions in Australia’s free-trade deal with the US because the two nations have a longstanding investment relationship, stable political systems and high confid­ence in the legal system of the other. That is not necessarily the case for all the other members of the TPP, which involves nations such as Vietnam and Mexico.

Mr Robb is right to say that the TPP is not dead. But its life hangs in the balance.

The meeting in Hawaii was supposed to bring a final deal. Moreover, the obstacles to concluding a deal now are formidable. If the deal ultimately fails, it will reflect monumental mishandling by the Obama administration.

The President was wrong to emphasise so strongly the element­ of geo-strategic competition between the US and China. He should have sold the TPP prim­arily on economic grounds.

Similarly, he left it far too late to lobby seriously for the deal, in Washington or the Asia-Pacific.

Australia, and the Asian region generally, will be big losers if the TPP falls over. It represents by far the biggest trade liberalisation deal since the Uruguay Round and would substantially harmonise trade rules across 12 major economies, significantly reducing the cost of business.

Mr Obama’s long delay in getting­ serious about the TPP has led to formidable anti-trade coal­itions forming and campaigning in a number of nations such as the US and Australia.

The future of the TPP is utterly unpredictable.


Wind farms use fossil fuels for construction and operation

Gary Johns

Bill Shorten should have asked a couple of questions before committing Australia to a 50 per cent renewable target. Can you build a wind turbine, or start a wind turbine, without fossil fuels?

The answer is no and no, you cannot. So what is the point of saddling Australia with an increasing load of wind turbines? (Much is also true for solar.)

Whatever one's beliefs on the veracity and level of threat from climate change, what is the point in spending hard-earned dollars on expensive and inadequate-for-purpose technology?

The energy density of wind power is a little over one watt a square metre. As Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper author Robert Bryce tells, if all the coal-fired generation capacity in the US were to be replaced by wind, it would need to set aside land the size of Italy. Hydrocarbons are denser energy sources than wind. There is nothing that can overcome that fact.
James Hansen, the former NASA climate scientist, wrote in 2011: "Suggesting that renewables will let us phase out rapidly fossil fuels is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter bunny."

The other thing about renewables is that they cannot produce the intensity of heat required to not only build turbines but just about anything else that makes the modern world modern.

The material requirements of a modern wind turbine have been reviewed by the US Geological Survey (Wind Energy in the United States and Materials Required for the Land-Based Turbine Industry From 2010 Through 2030). On average, 1 megawatt of wind capacity requires 103 tonnes of stainless steel, 402 tonnes of concrete, 6.8 tonnes of fibreglass, three tonnes of copper and 20ÿtonnes of cast iron. The blades are made of fibreglass, the tower of steel and the base of concrete.

Robert Wilson at Carbon Counter takes us through the -science. Fibreglass is produced from petrochemicals, which means that a wind turbine cannot be made without the extraction of oil and natural gas. Steel is made from iron ore. To mine ore requires high energy density fuels, such as diesel. Transporting ore to steel mills requires diesel.

Converting iron ore into steel requires a blast furnace, which requires large amounts of coal or natural gas. The blast furnace is used for most steel production.

Coal is essential, not simply a result of the energy requirements of steel production but of the chemical requirements of iron ore smelting.

Cement is made in a kiln, using kiln fuel such as coal, natural gas or used tyres. About 50 per cent of emissions from cement production comes from chemical reactions in its production.

Then there is the problem of priming windmills. Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate. Wind plants must use electricity from the grid, which is powered by coal, gas or nuclear power.

A host of the wind turbine functions use electricity that the turbine cannot be relied on to generate - functions such as blade-pitch control, lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, oil heater, pump, cooler, filtering system in gearboxes, and much more.

Wind turbines cannot be built and cannot operate on a large scale without fossil fuels.

As important, wind and solar do not have the energy densities to create an economy. Forget trains, planes and automobiles; your humble iPhones, laptops and other digital devices consume huge amounts of electricity and cannot be made with renewables. That most modern of new economy inventions, the computing cloud, requires massive amounts of electricity.

As Mark Mills wrote: "The cloud begins with coal." The greenies who got into the ears of Labor leaders to convince them that the era of fossil fuels is over should think again.

Reservoirs of methane hydrates - icy deposits in which methane molecules are trapped in a lattice of water - are thought to hold more energy than all other fossil fuels combined.

The Japanese, among others, hope that the reservoirs will become a crucial part of the country's energy profile, as Nature reported in April 2013. A pilot project 80km off the country's shores has produced tens of thousands of cubic metres of gas.

As with any new resources there are risks and much work is to be done for safe extraction, but the UN Environmental Program report in March, Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates, was very keen to "explore the potential impact of this untapped natural gas source on the future global energy mix".

Bill, you are suffering from Big Wind. You have let down the party and the nation.


Bureaucratic breakdown over child abuse in Qld.

The government has not ruled out sackings in the wake of an education system failure that left hundreds of suspected sexual abuse cases unreported to police.

Deloitte will start an external review into what happened and why a new system for principals to report suspected child abuse cases to police, rolled out in January, was not adequately checked to ensure it was working.

It will take at least two months for that review to be finalised.

While the most serious of concerns were forwarded to the appropriate authorities a third category, where principals believed a parent or guardian was looking out for the child but determined a report still needed to be made, were not.

On Thursday, six months after the One School system was rolled out, a principal enquired with the education department about his reports' progress and the failure was uncovered, revealing 644 cases had gone nowhere.

Education Minister Kate Jones ordered an immediate review, and police have been working with departmental officials to investigate the cases.

However they have been unable to rule out children were left in dangerous situations, or that the suspected abuse did not escalate.

"Can I say again, how sorry and disappointed I am that the system was not working as it should," Ms Jones said.

"But just to reiterate, the 644 cases reports that we are talking about, were ones where the principals had made a determination that there was a parent or guardian acting in the best interests of that child.

"It is heartbreaking to hear that the police feel that could be the case.  But can I say this, I have absolute confidence in the police and the thorough work they are doing to review all 644 reports."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government was doing it all it could to rectify the situation.

"I'm actually furious about what's happened here and we are going to absolutely get to the bottom of it," she said from the Stretton Community Cabinet on Sunday.

"I want to get to the bottom of how this IT issue happened which was initiated under the LNP and was not checked before it was started.

"This review will get to the bottom of it. Queenslanders want to know the answer as to what this happened.

"What I can say is that the Education Minister Kate Jones has acted swiftly. She has acted as promptly and as swiftly as she possibly could.

"As soon as she heard of this issue the police were called in.

"I have made it very clear to the assistant commissioner if they need extra resources we are ore than happy to provide those resources."

Two employees have been stood aside, on pay, but Ms Jones said she could not rule out further  action.

As director-general, Jim Watterson oversaw the system's implementation.  He, like the minister, had been told the program had been checked.

It was only last week that the department discovered that a coding error had stopped reports from landing in police servers, despite principals receiving an email notification their report had been successful.

"At this stage, we have already made a decision to stand aside two employees, but obviously I am not going to pre-empt the investigation." Ms Jones said.

"I have ordered an external investigation, because I do want to get to the very bottom of how this happened.  I can say I will not rule anything in or out at this stage.

"I want to get the facts, as I am sure every school community and every parent does as well and I'll be waiting for the investigations report."

The Opposition has said the failure to pick up the system error was indicative of the "mega-porfolios" the Labor Cabinet holds, following its election promise to cut the ministry from 19 to 14 as part of a $27 million cost cutting measure.

Ms Jones, who also looks after tourism and the Commonwealth Games, said that was not the case.

"My priority has to be the welfare of those children and to ensure that the schools in Queensland have confidence in the system," she said.

"That is why that every principal, teacher, parent and student out there knows that the system is fixed and it is working and secondly, that all of the reports are now with the police and they are working through them."

Ms Palaszczuk will review her Cabinet at the end of the year and has left open the possibility of adding another minister.


3 August, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks Adam Goodes is a sook

I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person has felt it

Stan Grant

Australian TV personality Stan Grant has a permanent suntan that he has inherited from his part-Aboriginal family.  Otherwise he has little resemblance to a tribal aborigine -- no heavy brow ridge, no flat nose etc. 

Yet in his essay below he speaks for all Aborigines.  That would be regarded as rather challengeable under normal circumstances but the place of Aborigines in Australian law is not normal.  Andrew Bolt was successfully prosecuted for challenging the right of certain light-skinned people to be regarded as Aborigines.  So I had better not challenge it.  Both Grant and Goodes are however "legal" Aborigines so Grant may well speak for Goodes.

I might note that I shared dinner with an Aboriginal lady last night.  She has blue eyes but she is an Aboriginal in Australian law.  She is my sister in law.  She and her husband host a family BBQ on Australia day each year.

Grant's essay below has however been praised and it is certainly unusual in that it does not denigrate Australia and Australian society in general.  Grant recognizes much that is praiseworthy instead.  The balance of his writing is obviously a large part of what has made his essay probably the most praised on the subject.

The great failure of his essay is however a failure to look at root causes.  I am sure that his growing up as a person with Aboriginal ancestry did give him problems and that his view that others in his situation suffered similarly has some merit but WHY was he in such a difficult situation?  And the answer is clear enough.  He does hint at it.  Aborigines as a whole have been lamentably unable to adjust to the white society in which they are now submerged.  People are often kind to them and appreciate good points that they have -- I do -- but the reality is that their own behaviour relegates them to the bottom of every heap.

So can we do anything about it?  That is surely the most important question.  I think it is a dubious claim that anybody has a "responsibility" for the behaviour of others but white Australia has nonetheless via its governments assumed a responsibility to improve the lot of Aborigines. But everything that could be tried has been tried as far as I can see -- by the Federal government and the State governments -- under both Leftist and conservative regimes.  There are for instance all sorts of schemes of an "affirmative action" type designed to help Aborigines.  Yet Aborigines go backwards if anything.  Have we not discharged our purported "responsibilities"?  What more could we do?

There was a time when Aborigines had to provide for themselves and many of them had employment in rural industries (as cowboys etc.)but an "equal pay" mandate from the courts put an end to that.  Now they mostly live on welfare -- and the slow destruction of all values and standards usually produced by welfare is only too evident.

So how does that affect the Adam Goodes furore?  I think it should make us understanding of the sensitivity over his part-Aboriginal ancestry that Goodes obviously feels but it should also help us to understand that white society too has values that are deeply felt, ideas about being a "bad sport" etc.  By his touchy and aggressive behaviour Goodes has set the two sets of values on collision course and in so doing hurt himself deeply.  He would have done well to do as Grant has done by not making waves.

And the accusations of racism that have polluted the air over the matter can only entrench bitterness and anger

I have wondered for days if I should say anything about Adam Goodes.

My inclination is to look for common ground, to be diplomatic. Some of the fault is with Adam. Maybe he’s been unnecessarily provocative. Racism? Perhaps. Perhaps the crowds just don’t like him.

Yes, I could make a case for all of that. But there are enough people making those arguments and all power to them.

Here’s what I can do. I can tell you what it is like for us. I can tell you what Adam must be feeling, because I’ve felt it. Because every Indigenous person I know has felt it.

It may not be what you want to hear. Australians are proud of their tolerance yet can be perplexed when challenged on race, their response often defensive.

I may be overly sensitive. I may see insult where none is intended. Maybe my position of relative success and privilege today should have healed deep scars of racism and the pain of growing up Indigenous in Australia. The same could be said of Adam. And perhaps that is right.

But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth.

The “wealth for toil” we praise in our anthem has remained out of our reach. Our position at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator tragically belies the Australian economic miracle.

“Australians all let us rejoice” can ring hollow to us. Ours is more troubled patriotism. Our allegiance to Australia, our pride in this country undercut by the dark realities of our existence.

Seeds of suspicion and mistrust are planted early in the Indigenous child. Stories of suffering, humiliation and racism told at the feet of our parents and grandparents feed an identity that struggles to reconcile a pride in heritage with the forlorn realities of a life of defeat.

From childhood I often cringed against my race. To be Aboriginal was to be ashamed. Ashamed of our poverty. Ashamed of the second-hand clothes with the giveaway smell of mothballs and another boy’s name on the shirt collar.

Ashamed of the way my mother and grandmother had to go to the Smith Family or Salvation Army for food vouchers. Ashamed of the onions and mince that made up too many meals.

We were ashamed of the bastardised wreckage of a culture that we clung to. This wasn’t the Dreamtime. This was mangy dogs and broken glass.

Like the Goodes family, we moved constantly as my father chased work. But wherever we went we found our place always on the fringes. What semblance of pride we carried too easily laid low by a mocking glance or a schoolyard joke.

We were the blacks. So easily recognised not just by the colour of our skin but by the whiff of desperation and danger we cloaked ourselves in. What resentment we harboured, we too often turned on ourselves, played out in wild scrambling brawls from the playground to the showgrounds that sent the same message: stay away from the blacks.

There was humour and there was love and there was survival. And as I grew older I pieced together the truth that we didn’t choose this. We are the detritus of the brutality of the Australian frontier.

As Australia welcomed waves of migrants and built a rich, diverse, tolerant society, we remained a reminder of what was lost, what was taken, what was destroyed to scaffold the building of this nation’s prosperity.

We survived the “smoothing of the dying pillow” of extermination to end up on the bottom rung of the ladder of assimilation. Too many of us remain there still. Look to the statistics: the worst health, housing, education, the lowest life expectancy, highest infant mortality. An Indigenous youth has more chance of being locked up than educated.

If good fortune or good genes means you are among the lucky few to find an escape route then you face a choice: to “go along to get along”, mind your manners, count your blessings and hide in the comfort of the Australian dream; or to infuse your success with an indignation and a righteousness that will demand this country does not look away from its responsibilities and its history.

I found a path through education that led to journalism. A love of knowledge and an inquisitiveness that has shot me through with anger. A deeper understanding of history, of politics, of economics, leaving me resentful of our suffering.

I wrestle with that anger as the boy I was wrestled with his shame. I want to see the good in a society that defies the history of its treatment of my people.

It is the legacy of my grandfather who signed up to fight a war for a country that didn’t recognise his humanity, let alone his citizenship. It is the lesson of the example of the lives of my mother and father, my uncles and aunties. Lives of decency and hard work and responsibility and rooted in our identity as Indigenous Australians.

When I was 16 I summoned the courage to speak to my class. As the only Indigenous kid, the only Aboriginal person my schoolmates had met, I wanted to tell my family’s story. My teacher was proud and encouraging. When class returned after lunch the words “be kind to abos” were scrawled across the blackboard.

The rejection, the humiliation, cut me to the core.

This is the journey too of Adam Goodes. A man whose physical gifts have set him above and given him a platform available to so few and whose courage demands that he use it to speak to us all.

Events in recent years have sent Adam on a quest to understand the history of his people, to challenge stereotypes and perceptions. I have spoken to him about this. I recognise in him the same quest I see in myself. It is a conversation I have had with so many of my Indigenous brothers and sisters.

This is rare air for anyone, let alone a footballer. He has faltered at times and the expression of his anger at our history and his pride in his identity has been challenging, if not divisive.

The events of 2013 when he called out a 13-year-old girl for a racial taunt opened a wound that has only deepened. To some the girl was unfairly vilified. Adam’s war dance of this year challenged and scared some people. His talent, the way he plays the game, alienates others.

And now we have this, a crescendo of boos. The racial motivation of some giving succour to the variously defined hatred of others.

To Adam’s ears, the ears of so many Indigenous people, these boos are a howl of humiliation. A howl that echoes across two centuries of invasion, dispossession and suffering. Others can parse their words and look for other explanations, but we see race and only race. How can we see anything else when race is what we have clung to even as it has been used as a reason to reject us.

I found refuge outside Australia. My many years working in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa liberated me. Here were the problems of other peoples and other lands. Here I was an observer freed from the shackles of my own country’s history.

I still wonder if it would be easier to leave again.

But people – like Adam Goodes, other Indigenous sportsmen and women who are standing with him, his non-Indigenous teammates and rivals who support him, and my non-Indigenous wife, my children and their friends of all colours and the people of goodwill who don’t have the answers but want to keep asking questions of how we can all be better – maybe they all make it worth staying.


TPP Deal: Australia Blames US, Big Four Economies For Not Reaching Final Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The latest round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Hawaii ended without the 12 countries reaching a final agreement because of disagreements over a number of small issues. Australia's trade representative is placing the blame for the accord's failure to pass on the United States and the so-called big four economies.

“Australia had made some excellent progress but unfortunately some difficult issues were not resolved,” Australian trade representative Andrew Robb said, according to several reports. “The sad thing is, 98 percent is concluded.”

According to Robb, the U.S., Canada, Japan and Mexico were the main roadblocks to an agreement. There were concerns about auto trade, protection for prescription drug companies and access to dairy and sugar markets, The Guardian reports

The TPP is a major trade deal that will govern concerns about 40 percent of the world’s economy. According to The Australian, the delegates will reconvene in November for more negotiating. The deal is worth about $200 billion.

Despite the sticking points, many of the delegates said they are hopeful that they can be resolved. “From my reading, the issues are not intractable and there remains a real determination to conclude the TPP among all parties,” Robb said.

According to reports, Robb is feeling pressure from back home. Various parties are unhappy with the current deal on the table for sugar farmers and have threatened to "cross the floor" when the deal is up for a vote in parliament. Farmers reportedly are not content with what the U.S. is offering in terms of sugar trade access.

"I'm trying to work particularly on the chance of increasing Australia's share of the growth in the U.S. sugar market, where I think there are big opportunities," Robb said, according to The Austarlian. "You can't go from exporting 87,000 tons of sugar to the U.S. straight to 1.5 million tons, but we can do more with our entitlement growth."

New Zealand took issue with the deal because it wanted the deal to open dairy markets even further. It also joined Australia and Chile in opposing the U.S.’s proposed protection of pharmaceutical companies


Disquieting law enforcement behaviour

Customs officer confiscates passenger's phone and then uses it to secretly text

A customs officer at Sydney international airport confiscated a mobile phone from a passenger during a baggage search and then secretly used it to send and receive messages without the passenger's knowledge.

The November incident has been referred to the Australian Federal Police, but the new Department of Immigration and Border Protection has refused to release further details, prompting widespread concern and a call for a federal police investigation into the actions of the customs officer.

The passenger, a 22-year-old man who did not wish to be identified, discovered what had happened only when he received a letter from the Integrity and Professional Standards branch of the department, saying it was investigating the "inappropriate use" of his phone by the customs officer.

The letter dated nearly six months later, said "this behaviour does not uphold the standards expected of our officers at the border and on behalf of the department and the ACBPS [Australian Customs and Border Protection Service] I apologise that it occurred. The letter said the "appropriate steps" were being taken in relation to the incident.

The man told Fairfax Media last week he was "disgusted" when he found out what had happened.

"It is embarrassing for them. They obviously have something to hide."

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection refused requests for information by Fairfax Media under freedom of information laws in part to protect the privacy of the officer and would not reveal what the messages said, who they were sent to and why.

A spokesman said "Under section 186 of the Customs Act 1901, officers have the power to examine goods in certain circumstances. 'Goods' includes electronic devices, such as mobile telephones. Access to the passenger's phone was consistent with the act."

The revelations have alarmed civil libertarians and prompted Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to refer the matter to Australian Federal Police to investigate the wrongdoing.

Senator Hanson-Young said the secrecy of the department and the behaviour of the customs officer involved raises questions about the culture of the Border Force.

"Tampering with an individual's phone like this is illegal," she said.

"Why is the department being so secretive about the case? I have written to the AFP and asked them to investigate."

Professor Michael Fraser, the director of the Communications Law Centre at UTS, said unless there was some lawful reason – which needs to be given – the department needed to justify why the phone was used.

"The person has a right to know what communications were made on his phone," Professor Fraser said.

Stephen Blanks, president of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, said "this is frightening".

"The Australian people should be frightened that a public official in a position of apparent authority can illegally access people's phones and send messages and then the department thinks that is not a matter of public interest. That is the kind of secrecy a police state relies on to damage the reputation of people who are being targeted," Mr Blanks said.

The man told Fairfax Media he was stopped when leaving Australia for a holiday in Turkey and Cyprus visiting his parents. He was taken to a room where Customs and AFP officers were present. They took his phone and computer and demanded the access codes and then took his phone into another room where he could not see what was happening.

During the time he was detained and searched, the man said he was asked weird questions including how many times a day he prayed? Was his family religious? And did they have a lot of money?

By the time he was released he had missed his flight. No one has since offered to refund his fare. After organising another flight, he was again stopped by Customs and the second time he called his solicitor, he said.

After tense conversations and the customs officers refusing to speak to his lawyer, he was eventually allowed to travel and he returned in December. His solicitor Zali Burrows has been instructed to commence legal proceedings against the department.

The decision not to release any information did say the incident had been "self-reported" the day after by the officer and his supervisor. 

It revealed two documents existed that  the department would not release – an Integrity Complaint Assessment Report and an internal minute dated December 16, 2014.

No documents showed that the matter had been referred to any other authority such as the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity which is the federal watchdog, or even that the minister had been had been informed.


Jealousy of a Private school: accused of buying access to public space

That the school has good access to a sportsground that they have paid to upgrade seems "unfair" to some

The former chief of Soccer Australia David Hill has accused the trust running one of Sydney's oldest and biggest parklands of allowing a wealthy private school to buy exclusive access to public space.

In a scathing letter to the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, responsible for the historic parklands Queens Park, Centennial Park and Moore Park, Mr Hill asked why the private boys' school Waverley College has "outrageous" special access to public fields.

Waverley College funds and maintains three sports fields in Queens Park under a "non-exclusive licensing agreement". These fields have been refurbished to have a better surface and drainage, allowing them to "withstand heavy rain and use", according to the trust.

The high-quality grounds ensure the college rarely has to cancel its Saturday school sport even when rain closes all other grounds in the parklands, according to other clubs that use the parklands.

Mr Hill, who is also a former managing director of the ABC, said it was outrageous that a school could buy access to public space. He said parents were furious that their children had to miss games while Waverley was able to play on and he called for the agreement with the trust to be made public.

"Like me, many parents and other members of the public are outraged that our children are barred by Centennial Park from using the parklands when by virtue of a privileged agreement with Centennial Park Trust, children attending private schools are still allowed to play," Mr Hill wrote.

"It is unacceptable and unfair to have separate rules for park use. All users should be treated equally and offered the same conditions of access."

A spokeswoman for the trust said it did not "allow for exclusive access to any playing fields" and 13 different groups, excluding Waverley College, had hired the three high-quality fields since 2006.

Marc Flior?, president of Easts Football Club which also uses Queens Park fields, said the club had a very good relationship with Centennial Parklands but parents were often left wondering why their children's soccer games had been cancelled when Waverley's were not.

Mr Flior said games had been washed out five times in a 17-week season this year, making it increasingly difficult to reschedule matches for the large club, which he says been growing "exponentially" from 580 players last year to 950 this year.

"When Centennial Parklands closes the fields, they should be closed, we accept that, but it was the state government who granted this lease and they should be explaining why private schools get privileged access to public parklands," Mr Flior said.

A spokeswoman for Waverley College said the school uses the fields on "an agreed scheduled basis with the parklands each year", mostly for junior sport days, sports training, and Saturday fixtures.

"Outside of these times, Centennial Parklands manages the bookings of these fields, which are used by other organised sport groups and the public for recreational use," she said.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Mark Speakman, who is responsible for the parklands, said: "The contract with Waverley was signed under the previous Labor government and does not expire until 2022."


2 August, 2015

Bob Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man

Gerard Henderson has some well-informed comments below.  I had some involvement with the DLP back in the '60s so was well aware of Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria. I certainly watched his TV broadcasts. But I am surprised that Henderson fails to mention that Santamaria was a devout Catholic under considerable influence from Melbourne's redoubtable and long-serving Archbishop Daniel Mannix.  

His anti-Communism was  heroic at a time when the CPA was still influental in the unions and he was undoubtedly instrumental in defeating the Communist unionists.  But on the other hand he often quoted the bumbling economic thinking of Leftist intellectuals like Felix Rohatyn. 

I concluded that it was only the atheism of the Soviets that drove Santamaria.  He was a Catholic first and last and that was all.  If the Soviets had been tolerant of religion, I think it is pretty clear that he would have been a cheerful democratic Leftist.  The 1891 encyclical "De rerum novarum" was after all fairly sympathetic to Leftism as long as it was not Communist.

So Santamaria was in fact consistent --  a consistent "De rerum novarum" Catholic.  He was certainly influential but he was no conservative.  One should remember that Catholics were overwhelmingly Labor Party supporters in those days.  The ALP was "their" party. 

Menzies was the first to disrupt that attachment by giving Federal financial assistance to Catholic schools, something that still continues and is now something of a "third rail" in Australian politics -- as ALP leader Mark "Biffo" Latham found out

B­A Santamaria did not encourage conservative Catholics to join the Liberal Party. At the time of his death, the two Liberal MPs who were most in agreement with Bob Santamaria’s philosophy were Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews.

In 1994, Abbott asked Santamaria for a reference for use in his preselection for the Sydney seat of Warringah. During an interview on May 8 2000, Abbott recalled the occasion: “I asked Santa for a reference for my preselection. And Santa said to me: ‘I don’t think it will do you any good’. And I said to him: ‘Well, let me be the judge of that’. He said: ‘Well, let me think about it and come back to you’. And he came back to me about 24 hours later and said: ‘Look, Tony, I just don’t think I can do it’. And I said: ‘How come?’ And he said: ‘I just don’t think at my time in life I really should be writing references for people in Liberal Party pre­selections’.”

Abbott concluded his recall: “Anyway, I said: ‘I don’t agree with you, Bob, but it’s your call’.

“And then, of course, I won the preselection. And I think there was a slight sense of disappointment that I had disproven his deep conviction that someone who was very publicly a Catholic — as opposed to simply, quietly and unobtrusively a Catholic — could get anywhere inside the Liberal Party. I think he always regarded me as a bit of a jarring figure in his intellectual and social landscape because I was a public Catholic and still it didn’t appear to be stopping me from going places inside the Liberal Party.”

Andrews had a not dissimilar experience. Unlike Abbott, he had not been involved with Santamaria’s National Civic Council, which commenced in the late 1930s-early 1940s as an organisation called the Movement.

Andrews first met Santamaria when, as a residential student at Newman College at Melbourne University, he and a group of friends decided to establish an Archbishop Daniel Mannix Lecture — and asked Santamaria to deliver the inaugural oration in October 1977.

Over the next decade or so, Andrews met Santamaria on about 10 occasions. There were also irregular telephone conversations.

Andrews was not a long-term Liberal Party member before contesting the Melbourne seat of Menzies. Before deciding to enter the preselection ballot, he visited Santamaria at his office. Andrews recalled that the NCC president was not at all encouraging and seemed to exhibit a negative attitude to party politics in general — and to the Liberal Party in particular. Andrews commented that if Santamaria were intent on influencing Liberal MPs, he would have expected to receive invitations to NCC board lunches — along with regular telephone calls — once he became a parliamentarian. This did not happen.

On the Saturday after his death, The Weekend Australian reported that Santamaria had grown so disillusioned with the Liberals after they lost in 1993 that he spent much of the remainder of the year trying to organise a new pro-­family and anti-economic reform political party.

The Santamaria family placed a 40-year embargo on the Santamaria Papers when they were given to the State Library of Victoria in 2006. However, Patrick Morgan (see facing page) was given an exemption to this embargo when preparing his two-­volume edited collection of Santamaria’s letters and documents, Your Most Obedient Servant and Running the Show, published by Melbourne Uni­versity Press in 2007 and 2008.

Morgan’s research indicates that in late 1992, Santamaria formed a group comprising Malcolm Fraser and academics Robert Manne and John Carroll. The aim was to establish a new political grouping, which was protectionist and interventionist, to be headed by Fraser. This is confirmed in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs, which Fraser co-authored with Margaret Simons.

At the time, Fraser had been out of office for almost a decade and neither Manne nor Carroll had any experience in mainstream politics. This initiative suffered the same fate as all of Santamaria’s ­attempts to establish a third party to take on the Liberal and Labor parties in the 1980s and 1990s — that is, failure.

Santamaria was fond of quoting the saying that “anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intelligentsia”.

In 2012 and 2013, David Marr wrote biographical monographs on Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell respectively. Both are tinged with the anti-Catholic sectarianism of a born-again atheist and are long on secular sneering, in the Marr way.

Marr attempts to make much of the alleged Santamaria-Pell-Abbott axis. But his case is always overstated and frequently confused — particularly with respect to the Democratic Labor Party which, with the support of Santamaria, broke away from the Australian Labor Party at the Labor split in the mid-1950s.

In The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell, Marr wrote, with ­reference to Santamaria’s state ­funeral: “Pell’s oldest political loyalties were to the DLP, but when the party collapsed Santamaria had directed his followers to cross the bridge to the Liberals. It was not altogether comfortable for either party, so it mattered a great deal for Santamaria’s people when (John) Howard reconciled with the old man at the very end.”

The fact is that when the DLP collapsed in the second half of the 1970s, Santamaria did not direct his followers to “cross the bridge” to the Liberal Party. If this had been the case, then Abbott — as a follower of Santamaria in the late 1970s and the early 1980s — might have joined the Liberal Party at that time. He didn’t.

In 2012, the Melbourne-based researcher Geoffrey Browne was given access to correspondence that passed between Santamaria and Abbott in the late 1980s. It seems that the State Library of Victoria made an error with respect to the 40-year embargo that applies to this vast collection. Browne passed the material to the historians Ross Fitzgerald and Stephen Holt, who reported the exchange in The Weekend Australian on October 13-14, 2012.

Marr read only the newspaper report; I have been able to obtain a copy of the entire correspondence. According to Marr, Santamaria gave Abbott his political bearings. But Santamaria merely advised Abbott not to flirt with the NSW Labor Party, which was dominated by the ALP’s right wing in the state. Santamaria restated his decades-long hostility to the NSW Labor Right. In spite of this, he provided no encouragement for Abbott to join the Liberal Party.

The correspondence went as follows: In April 1987, at a meeting, Santamaria offered Abbott a job in Melbourne working for the Council for the National Interest. The CNI was one of the many front organisations created by Santamaria. Its focus was defence and foreign policy, but its creation was part of his plan to construct a new political party.

At the time, Abbott had just quit as a Catholic seminarian (a trainee priest). He told Santamaria in a letter dated April 21, 1987 that he needed to build a career and was inclined to accept a job offer to become a journalist working for The Bulletin. He politely rejected Santamaria’s proposal.

On December 8, 1987, Abbott again wrote to Santamaria — shortly after returning from the NCC’s national conference. In a thoughtful, but blunt letter, Abbott told Santamaria that his current political strategy was not working.

Abbott wrote: “To change society one must work in it, share the priorities and fears, cares and concerns of the ‘common herd’, make the compromises that life requires, be wrong, get blood on one’s hands — but at least, be in it. Are we? In 1954, the Movement dominated a major party [the ALP]. In 1969, the Movement had some significant parliamentary influence [through the DLP]. In 1980, the Movement controlled four big unions. Today, we run the AFA [Australian Family Association] and are the main force behind an as yet embryonic lobby group, the CNI. The CNI and AFA are worthy works. But they are essentially waiting in the wings of politics on the off-chance that someone might ask them to dance.”

Interpreting the Abbott-Santamaria letters during an appearance on the ABC’s program The Drum on March 23, 2013, Marr claimed that Santamaria said the following to Abbott: “No [not the Labor Party] — the Liberal Party. Yes, there are many, many risible and ridiculous things about the Liberal Party. But it’s the Liberal Party, now, Tony.”

This is a complete invention — as Abbott’s contemporary writings make clear. Soon after their correspondence, Abbott wrote a profile on Santamaria for The Weekend Australian, which was published on December 30-31, 1989 to mark the collapse of Soviet communism.

It was a broadly sympathetic assessment, but some critical points were made. Abbott commented that “the difference between Santamaria and more mainstream economic commentators is that Santamaria has predicted 30 (rather than just 20) of the last five crises”. Clearly, Abbott understood Santamaria’s crisis mentality.

During the interview on which the profile was based, Santamaria restated the position that he had never stood for political office because he did not think he would be very good at politics owing to “an inability to compromise”. Abbott asks the following question about Santamaria: “Has he not entered the political fray without ever putting his ideas to the electoral test; has he not asked lesser men to undertake the task he would not do himself?”

It is a significant query — which reflects Abbott’s commitment to mainstream politics and explains why he had rejected Santamaria’s offer to devote himself fulltime to the Movement in its final manifestation as the NCC.

How, then, to explain the relationship between Abbott and Santamaria? To a Catholic, anti-communist political activist on a university campus in the 1960s and 1970s, Santamaria had considerable appeal. He was a charismatic speaker and a first-class TV performer on his weekly program, Point of View. He was also a compelling writer.

As a person born in September 1945, I found Santamaria compelling when I first met him in early 1965. So did Abbott, who was born in November 1957 and first met Santamaria around 1978. So did many anti-communist Catholic men and women of our generation. It’s just that the closer you got to Santamaria, the more likely you were to disagree with him over tactics.

I made a public critique of the Movement at the NCC’s national convention in October 1974, when I was 29. Abbott made a not dissimilar critique in his private letter of December 8, 1987, aged 30. By this time, in both cases it seems, Santamaria’s charisma had faded and the flaws in his way of operating had become more evident.

David Marr’s assessment of Santamaria’s influence on Abbott is facile. In the second edition of Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott, Marr writes: “Santamaria’s instinct was always to block Labor. Starving it of the talent of young Tony was a tiny detail in a lifetime of hostility. Abbott was not immediately persuaded to ditch his fundamental allegiance — he voted Labor in that [NSW 1988] state election — but the man he called his ‘philosophical star’ had given him his bearings.”

This theory that a strong-willed person like Abbott — possessed of the drive that makes it possible for someone to become prime minister — had to be given “bearings” by Santamaria is ridiculous. As Michael Duffy makes clear in his book Latham and Abbott, Abbott drifted towards the Liberal Party around 1989 — a party that Santamaria then regarded as “reptilian” in nature. Clearly, Abbott found his own bearings.

Abbott has been surprisingly open about this relationship with Santamaria — despite the fact that he had little to gain from stating his long-ago contacts with the one-time Catholic political operator. Addressing the H?R Nicholls Society in March 2001, Abbott described Santamaria as his “first political mentor”.

Abbott elaborated on this in a December 2003 interview with Paul Kelly in The Weekend Australian Magazine: “All the way through student politics at university, I was closely involved with the National Civic Council. I regarded him [Santamaria] as an important presence in my life and an important source of ideas, inspiration, example. To this day, I regard Santa as my earliest political mentor, and with the possible exception of the PM [John Howard], as my greatest mentor.”

In launching the first volume of Patrick Morgan’s edited collection of Santamaria’s papers at the State Library of Victoria in January 2007, Abbott referred to his correspondence with Santamaria in the late 1980s.

He maintained that Santa­maria’s enduring political legacy could be located in the Howard government’s foreign policy and social conservatism. According to Abbott, this showed “that the tide of secular humanism was not as ­irreversible as he [Santamaria] thought”.

Abbott concluded that, “the DLP is alive and well and living inside the Howard government, and Labor’s SDA caucus has a leader who should at least give them a fair hearing. The times may not have suited his [Santamaria’s] more dire predictions but they have been kinder to his values.”

The latter reference was to the backing achieved by Labor’s new leader Kevin Rudd, who received strong support in the caucus from Labor MPs aligned to the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association — the SDA, or “Shoppies”, led by one-time Santamaria associate Joe de Bruyn.

Rudd’s mother, Margaret, was a DLP supporter in the aftermath of the Labor split. Abbott’s line was that Santamaria’s influence lived on not only in the DLP but even, to a lesser extent, in the ALP.

That was Abbott’s generous assessment at a function attended by Santamaria’s extended family. It glossed over the reality that Santamaria never really liked the Liberal Party in general — or the Howard government in particular.

When the second edition of Patrick Morgan’s collection was launched in 2008, it was revealed that in March 1996 — just two years before Santamaria’s death — Santamaria went back to where he had commenced with the Movement some six decades previously. He suggested to the NCC national executive in early 1996 that what was left of the Movement “should begin a new fight for the ‘soul’ of the Labor Party”.

So, in 1996, Santamaria was so disillusioned with the Liberals that he wanted his remaining forces to try their luck in the ALP. By then, however, Santamaria had conceded that his long-time wish to “establish a new political party … was beyond us”. Not before time.


"Media Watch" has a climate change obsession

Like a judge turned advocate, or umpire turned player, the ABC’s Media Watch has become a ­spruiker in one of the nation’s most crucial policy debates — ­climate change.

Jonathon Holmes, a former presenter and columnist for The Age, this week trumpeted his fondness for renewable energy and disinterest in the cost of electricity.

Defending Bill Shorten’s uncosted promise to deliver 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, Holmes said “no one has a clue what the comparative cost of coal-fired and renewable energy will be by 2030.”

He also argued that renewables “create at least as many — arguably far more” jobs than coal-fired ­electricity and that News Corporation Australia (publisher of The Weekend Australian) has launched an “assault on climate change ­action.”

He is free to subscribe to whatever ill-founded conspiracy theory he likes, of course, and The Age is perfectly entitled to publish them.

But it would be a shame if he had used his pulpit at Media Watch to promote Leunig Left views.

Holmes fronted Media Watch from 2008 until 2013 when he was replaced by Paul Barry.

Over that period climate policy has been one of the nation’s most contentious political, economic and environmental issues: Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was proposed, rejected and then dropped; the Coalition switched from supporting emissions trading schemes to opposing them; Labor ruled out a carbon tax then introduced one; the Coalition repealed it; and now Labor again proposes a trading scheme and the ambitious renewables target.

A quick check of Barry’s Twitter feed shows he shares the ­climate alarmist and renewable-at-any-cost stance of his predecessor (along with a healthy dose of Murdochophobia).

Views such as these might be economically naive and politically jaundiced but they are common enough among university activists and Greens politicians, so we can hardly get too excited about Barry subscribing to them.

But what if this Green Left push infiltrated the professional posture of senior journalists at the national broadcaster?

What if Media Watch — a program the ABC says aims to expose “conflicts of interest, misrepresentation and manipulation” — was used to consistently promote a climate alarmist and pro-renewables mindset?

This week, Media Watch returned to an old theme when it picked up commentators using an erroneous figure relating to the high cost of wind and solar energy over coal.

The mistake inflated the costs by a factor of 10 (so was most likely the result of a misplaced decimal point). It occurred in this newspaper’s Cut&Paste section more than four years ago and was ­corrected.

Given the incorrect figures made wind power 19 times more expensive than coal, “you’d have to be mad to support it (wind ­energy),” Barry mocked.

Yet the correct figures showed wind was twice as expensive as coal and that solar is more than five times the cost — so the pertinent question might be whether you would be mad to support renewables on those numbers?

Barry didn’t make that point or pose that question.

Far from being a binary emotional question about “belief” in climate change and “love” for renewables, climate policy involves a complex serious of competing objectives to reduce emissions, contain costs and support economic growth.

Every cost needs to be measured against a desired benefit, and each goal needs to be weighed against the known costs.

Aside from this newspaper, and perhaps the Australian Financial Review, few media organisations have looked at these issues seriously.

The Australian has long accepted the scientific basis of anthropogenic climate change, understanding the need to reduce CO2 emissions and, for a quarter of a century, has argued for an economically rational market mechanism to deal with it.

At the same time it has fostered an intelligent debate, including reportage of changing climate observations and modelling, and rational analysis of various climate factors and proposed solutions.

Media Watch has shown something of an obsession for pursuing coverage of climate change issues and, in particular, reportage in The Australian.

Its executive producer, Tim Latham, declined to provide a tally of how often the program had criticised coverage of dissenting or sceptical climate views compared to reports showing alarmist overreach. He did, however, point out a segment from March last year, which appears to be the exception that proves the rule.

It highlighted media reports of a climate change study that found the Sydney Opera House would be swamped by rising sea levels.

Mocking the sensational nature of the reporting, Media Watch pointed out the study was looking at consequences 2000 years into the future.

“The Sydney Opera House will not be submerged in the next 100 or 200 years if indeed it ever is,” lectured Barry, “and to imply that it will be is alarmist nonsense of the sort that brings journalism and ­climate science into disrepute.”

Yet, of course, it was the study that was sensational. It claimed more than one per cent of the global land mass, 7 per cent of the world’s population and 136 UNESCO world cultural heritage sites would be swamped — in 2000 years.

If anyone was bringing climate science into disrepute surely it was these climate scientists themselves.

The study generated exactly the sort of media reporting intended.

Typically, Media Watch analyses, corrects, criticises, crosschecks and mocks journalists and commentators who give oxygen (pun intended) to scientists or activists making dissenting or sceptical arguments about global warming.

The alarmist scaremongering and frightening predictions of climate activists that are regurgitated daily by a wide variety of media organisations, especially Fairfax and the ABC, are seldom subjected to scrutiny.

When the national broadcaster publishes claims such as this — “That’s over 2 billion atomic bombs worth of heat built up on our planet since 1998” — Media Watch doesn’t spring into action to question the language.

Tim Flannery’s predictions about permanent drought and dams running dry sit stubbornly unfulfilled and inexplicably unexamined on ABC websites.

Instead of pointing out the jaundice, Media Watch replicates it and continues its crusade against sceptics.

Often that effort has been directed at this newspaper’s environment editor, Graham Lloyd, who is a committed environmentalist, accepts the physics of climate science and has opined in favour of an emissions trading scheme but dares to report a wide range of scientific analysis.

“The fundamental point,” says Lloyd, “is just because I don’t agree with something doesn’t mean it should not be put into the public domain where it can sharpen debate and understanding.

“The alternative is self-censorship and authoritarian control.”

In extensive and diverse coverage of data, developments and opinions on climate issues over countless stories and many years there is one story (sourced from overseas, misinterpreted in the production process and for which The Australian published a correction) that would have been better left unpublished.

But the rest of Media Watch’s numerous admonishments amount to little more than a misplaced decimal point here, a less than ideal headline there, or nitpicking about the emphasis given to particular points of view in ­various reports.

It is beyond contention The Australian and The Weekend Australian have covered a broader array of scientific and economic analysis and opinion on climate than the ABC.

Take the hiatus, or global warming pause, which has been debated in detail by scientists for more than six years, especially since scientific frustration at the pace of warming was revealed through the infamous “Climategate” emails. Renowned climate scientist ­Judith Curry blogged about the latest research this month saying the “hiatus clearly lives, both in upper ocean heat content and surface temperatures” and added it would be interesting to see how the media reacted to this news given they had declared it an “artefact” only weeks earlier.

This debate has been largely absent from the ABC except for belated attempts to debunk the pause claims.

The science program Catalyst tackled the issue last October in a story that included Professor Curry explaining that “globally ­average surface temperatures haven’t increased in any significant way since 1998.”

While Curry was identified as belonging to a “small minority” of scientists she was allowed to make the central points about a “growing divergence between the observations and climate model simulations.”

Yet the story’s clear aim was to relay that “all things considered, there’s been no global warming pause.” It gave most prominence to that argument and scientists promoting it.

“The whole of the climate system is really warming,” said Kevin Trenberth, “it’s just that the warming can be manifested in different ways.”

What we’re seeing in the models,” said Matthew England, “is that the warming out of the hiatus is gonna be rapid, regardless of when that hiatus ends.”

In other words the models that did not predict the hiatus are now predicting that when the hiatus ends warming will be even more rapid.

Does this mean they are really saying forget the observations, believe the modelling?

The ABC refuses to ask such obvious and sceptical questions.

The national broadcaster prefers to turn its sights on any media raising an eyebrow, testing an assertion or allowing experts to do the same.

Tellingly, the ABC never reported the significant revisions to global climate predictions that were snuck onto the UK Met Office website on Christmas Eve 2012.

Given the Met’s standing as a leading international climate centre, this was big news.

“If the forecast is accurate, the result would be that the global average temperature would have remained relatively static for about two decades,” reported the BBC.

“An apparent standstill in global temperatures is used by critics of efforts to tackle climate change as evidence that the threat has been exaggerated. Climate scientists at the Met Office and other centres are involved in intense research to try to understand what is happening over the most recent period.”

It appears the ABC never reported this issue and, all-in-all, ­ignored the pause until it was ready to run reports debunking it, or at the end of last year, saying it was over.

ABC radio breathlessly reported in December that 2014 was on track to be the warmest year ever and that “contrary to the position argued by climate change sceptics” global warming had neither paused nor slowed down. Rather than “contrary to the position argued” by sceptics it would have been more accurate to say “contrary to the recorded ­observations.”

The ABC gives us alarmist claims from those demanding urgent action and denies us information about observed evidence or dissent against the alarmist claims. Yet we are given rebuttals of the dissent.

It is Orwellian.

Media Watch took a keen interest in this newspaper’s coverage from 2012 of beach erosion issues at Lake Cathie, on the NSW ­Central Coast, where residents faced the threat of planning changes based on IPCC sea level projections.

“We don’t want to shift, no way,” said Russell Secombe who, along with his wife, Anne, and the owners of 16 other houses on the Illaroo Road beachfront, was ­concerned about a report before council recommending a “planned retreat” in the face of coastal ­erosion.

Media Watch forensically analysed these reports, demonstrating poor headline choice and contesting some interpretations.

But reporter Ean Higgins ­pursued this story over subsequent years, taking up the cause of ­people who had invested their life savings in their homes and seen their values fall because of the looming restrictions.

Eventually, thanks in no small part to Higgins’s reporting, the planning minister stepped in.

“The problem that property owners face is that some councils have been casting potential longer-term issues as a clear-and-present danger,” said the minister.

“We just needed to get councils to jump away from that doomsday scenario.”

This is the core work of journalists — identifying issues where citizens are being adversely affected by authorities, shedding light on their fears and concerns, seeking responses and sometimes, just sometimes, helping to build ­momentum for resolutions.

Ideally such reportage would never suffer from an error or inappropriate headline but the world is not perfect.

In a range of other areas — perhaps workers concerned about asbestos, or farmers concerned about climate change reducing their crops — we know the ABC would champion such journalism.

Perhaps for Media Watch the problem with Higgins and the homeowners at Lake Cathie was not so much that they stood between the council and the sea but that they stood between climate alarmism and a sensible, more cautious approach.

Another Media Watch attack centred on Lloyd’s January report about a groundbreaking study into the possibility of adverse health effects from wind turbines.

His story contained all the relevant details about the scope, funding and limitations of the study.

And it overtly referred to the need for more research into an open question: “It opens the way for a full-scale medical trial that may resolve the contentious ­debate about the health impact of wind farms.” Yet Media Watch insisted that Lloyd’s report had “got it so wrong” and it lined up a series of so-called experts to condemn the coverage.

Barry selectively quoted the study’s author to suggest he disagreed with Lloyd’s reporting when he did not (Barry had him rebutting a claim that was not made) and he quoted damning comments about the “atrocious” study and its coverage from an academic without disclosing the professor’s qualifications were not in science but sociology.

Media Watch was slapping down Lloyd for daring to air a study that merely raises the possibility of adverse health consequences from wind turbines.

Barry and his sizeable team used precisely the toolkit of selective reporting, omission and emotive posturing that they seek to expose in their targets.

They mock the suggestion of health concerns with jokes about “yolkless eggs” and snide ­comments about stories being “excitedly” relayed.

To put the program’s journalism and objectivity into perspective we need only pose this question; do we think they would be this dismissive of early reports about possible health risks with asbestos, coal dust or yellowcake?

We don’t need to believe wind turbines are harmful to make the point that if the industry were not renewable energy, the ABC might be all over the potential workplace health and safety implications of new technologies.

Good journalism is obliged to investigate and debate such ­matters.

For regular viewers there is a clear sense that Media Watch is campaigning on climate. Inquirer spoke to prominent advocates in the climate change debate and none seemed surprised to be asked about their engagement with the program.

Australian National University professor and former climate commissioner Will Steffen says he “interacts a lot” with the ABC but “not a whole lot” with Media Watch.

“I think I have been in contact with them once or twice to comment on issues but that has come at their instigation,” he said.

At the Clean Energy Council, spokesman Mark Bretherton also talked down their contact. “It is not that often that we talk to Media Watch,” he said, “the last time would have been a year or two ago and generally when we talk to them they contact us rather than the other way around.”

But the Climate Institute’s John Connor admits to being more proactive. “They come to us for fact-checking,” he said, “we’re happy to help and perhaps the same amount of times I have raised issues with them, perhaps once or twice.”

Mr Connor said when he made his suggestions they had been followed up with broadcasts but he can’t remember what the issues were. “I certainly wouldn’t characterise it as an ongoing relationship.”

Back in 2012 Media Watch was again defending the renewable energy sector and admonishing The Australian for daring to report that despite the addition of wind turbines, Victoria’s dirty brown coal generators were still running at full capacity.

“It was one of those stories that make The Australian’s readers wonder why we bother with all this renewable energy nonsense,” sneered Holmes, preferring not to review it as an important story explaining how the addition of wind farms tended not to diminish the need for baseload power.

Media Watch based their entire criticism on the reality of the National Electricity Market, suggesting that with wind energy inputs Victoria could export more coal power and reduce emissions in NSW and South Australia.

It was a heroic argument, ignoring the coal burned, not for export, but just to keep the baseload generators running.

The facts were disputed by experts including Hamish Cumming, the source of Lloyd’s story, who complained that Media Watch refused to consider his research.

Few issues could be more pertinent to the national policy debate than whether the additional costs to consumers of mandated renewables was actually reducing emissions. But Media Watch, it seems, would rather we didn’t inquire.

This month Media Watch again singled out a Lloyd report as it ­attacked many media organisations for the way they reported new research about the prospects of a “mini-ice age” or, more correctly, the onset of a Maunder Minimum because of reduced solar activity.

Barry admonished Lloyd, even though his report was detailed, ­accurate and played down the overall impact of this phenomenon.

“The dominant view among ­climate scientists is that it is too small to have a major impact,” ­reported Lloyd.

Tellingly, Barry was dismissive about the possibility of regionalised cooling of up to 0.8 degrees when warming projections generate great excitement.

Laughably, he criticised Lloyd’s report because the qualifying information was deeper in the story than the newsworthy claims in the first two paragraphs “which is what everyone reads”.

We can only imagine how busy Barry would be if he troubled himself with such journalistic parsing-in-full of stories predicting increased global warming or exacerbated environmental damage.

We see a familiar pattern here.

The Australian puts studies, concerns and information into the public arena to contribute to serious policy debates and Media Watch hits back, condemning those reports, suggesting information that questions the economics, environmental benefits or health effects of renewable energy should not be reported or that reports focusing on climate observations that are less than alarmist should be ignored.

This is jaundice, pure and ­simple.

And it raises the question of whether the personal prejudices of Holmes and Barry (and possibly others) have had a strong influence on the editorial direction of Media Watch over the past decade, helping to buttress a widespread lack of journalistic curiosity on ­climate change issues.

Media Watch could be the choirmaster of the ABC’s climate change groupthink and a broader journalistic chorus.


The Australian church that grew

THE backstage corridors of London’s O2 arena are a hallowed place, lined with pictures of Jay Z, Beyonce, The Who and Dolly Parton — legends who have packed the venue and left a signed picture or hoody as tribute.

Tonight I’m here for a different kind of star. Past a soundstage packed with volunteers are closed doors flanked by security. Inside is Hillsong’s lead pastor, Brian Houston.

He’s just stepped off stage from a sermon at the church’s annual Europe conference where 15,000 devotees have come from 20 countries to hear him speak at opening night of the three-day event that is translated into eight different languages.

“One thing I do know is that Hillsong church and Hillsong conference isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’m fine with that,” says the charismatic 61-year-old New Zealander. “I don’t feel like everyone has to do it the way we do it. But there is a lot of other people …. who really love this and who want to be a part of this.”

He’s talking about the incredible growth of a church from Sydney suburb Baulkam Hills that has morphed into a global mega-brand attracting millions of followers.

Earlier, the reason for its success became clear with a full-blown rock concert with professional lighting, sound and visual effects. The opener included a lone pianist in a Daft Punk-style helmet playing a cover of Mad World as drone-like workers trooped around the ‘land of the forgetful’. Then Hillsong United, the band led by Houston and wife Bobbie’s son Joel and singer Taya Smith, got the audience rocking with not a single twerk or nip-slip in sight.

The rockers set the scene for Houston’s rousing introduction where he welcomed visitors and said over the next three days those with trouble in their work, finances, marriage, relationships or health could get the answers they need. Broken hearts can be fixed, anxieties can be washed way. As the only nonbeliever there, I started to wonder if I was the one missing something.

Then came the pitch: “A lot of people assume with this many delegates this conference just pays for itself,” he told the crowd who paid £140 ($298) for an adult ticket.

“Giving is never a ‘have-to’. You don’t have to do anything,” he reminded them. “People give out of their heart because they want to. When you have to it’s really not giving at all.”

Outside the south London venue, delegates appear straight out of a Uniqlo ad: Fresh, young and healthy with gleaming trainers and artful quiffs. Selfie sticks are definitely not banned.

Luke recently returned from bible college in Sydney. He joined the church at 19 after trouble with drugs, alcohol and police and says Hillsong provided him a new lease on life.

“I’m now a lot happier and more content. I used to be depressed. I don’t have depression anymore and I’m not an addict anymore,” he says, adding that his friends are happy for his turnaround. “They don’t necessarily see that it’s for them but they respect that it’s been a really good thing for me.”

Nigerian-born teens Kaldora and Zaneta grew up watching the DVDs at home and follow the leaders on social media.

“You always feel like you’re the only one, especially being our age, but when you come here and you see everyone else who is there because they want to be, it’s really good,“ Zaneta said. Young pastors Nathan and Laurence say the music and fresh approach has engaged a new generation.

“They’re willing to take risks and to break out of what people expect church to be. To focus on the next generation and to be ruthless with that,” said Laurence.

During Houston’s 50-minute sermon, the captivated audience tapped notes as he spoke of how faith allowed the church to grow from renting a venue slated for demolition for $1 a month to selling a Sydney campus for $41 million. It’s recently bought a factory in Melbourne and have venues planned in Kiev, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo while expansion into Asia is also on the cards.

“Where the church should be young and relevant and contemporary and full, so often it’s old and empty and irrelevant and I don’t think it has to be like that. We like to think about keeping the message, which is sacred, but being very open to changing the methods,” Houston says backstage.

These new methods include everything from kids and women’s conferences to documentaries, albums and books, all artfully packaged into a cohesive experience. Want to stay close to Jesus on the road? Get Hillsong United’s album for your car. Stay up to date while travelling? There’s an app for that. The business of believing is booming.

Australian National University sociology researcher Matthew Wade said Hillsong’s genius is the combination of being consumer savvy and multi-platform that has given people a “digital entry point” to the brand.

“Your average ‘seeker’ is incredibly unlikely to simply turn up at the Baulkham Hills church on a whim, rather they will likely learn about the church through a news story, a shared song,” he said.

Not to mention the attendance of celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez, which has showered the brand with global attention. Mr Wade said the PR team doesn’t get enough credit, however Houston denies it’s a marketing ploy, saying it’s all part of their “faceless to famous” philosophy.

“I think [Justin Bieber] is genuinely trying to find help, he’s just trying to change the foundations in his life. I think he’s got a long way to go because he went straight from there to putting up a naked photo of him in Vanuatu or something!” he joked.

Hillsong’s success has led to inevitable criticism, specifically over its finances and whether or not it should be paying tax. Houston has also had to testify about his father, Frank Houston, to a Royal Commission inquiry into child sexual abuse (he has repeatedly condemned his father’s conduct).

More recently, the church dropped controversial US preacher Mark Driscoll from the bill after he called women ‘penis homes’.

Anti-violence campaigner Natalie Collins protested outside the O2 in support of those she says are “seriously damaged” by Driscoll. “There are people who are going to be in therapy for the rest of their lives because of what he’s done so I’m just here making a statement,” she said.

However for Houston, the reason the church is “treated with suspicion” is because he believes it’s misunderstood.

“It breaks all the rules - everything says that churches shouldn’t be like that. In Australia, religion is on the decline and churches are empty. For a church to be young and full and relevant and alive, people don’t understand that and what they don’t understand, they tend to criticise.”

As the concert wraps with a prayer and people head off into the night, it’s clear Hillsong’s mission is far from complete.

“All I have to do is walk down my little street where I live in the Hills District in Sydney and there might be one or two houses that come to our church or any church but the vast majority don’t. So to me the mission is huge,” he said.

“I’ve always been a visionary. I wanted to pastor a visionary church.”



By Renny Carter, 53, an old journo, who has opinions on anything and everything in contemporary life

If Australia was a business (it is) - it would be in receivership right now. No self respecting accountant type would let it trade while insolvent for another day. When everything that is coming in only covers the debt interest bill, it would be all over bar the shouting.  

I stood in one of the vast halls of a giant Australian motor vehicle manufacturing plant last week. A huge company that employed thousands and had done so for generations - well over 100 years.

I have bought a number of their products which were as venerable as Australians themselves.

Today it is a cold, draughty place with the only audible sound the dripping water from the holes in the roof. Its machines either lay idle or are stripped out for their scrap value. The workers' lockers remain as they were - their doors left open and swinging with the smell of mildewed old lunches hanging in the air.

A family of possums has moved in, going by the excrement on every flat surface. A huge empty nothing that not long ago, vibrated to the sound of frenetic and wonderful production. And it is a picture that is so commonplace today that the asset realisation experts and demolishers can barely keep up.

The question is - why? And the answer is -Greed! Greed brought about by militant unions demanding more and more until they finally bring an enormous number of once-proud manufacturers to their knees. Unable to compete. Unable to proceed any further.

The workforce, once happy with every EBA their union masters came up with, didn't perhaps realise that one day they would be out of a job and unlikely to find another. So that worked out well didn't it?

So I asked one of my colleagues what his take on it was. Funnily enough, he is just now coming to grips with yet another union EBA demand which will guarantee that any profit that might be made is cut so intensely fine - that if one little thing goes wrong - they are suddenly out of business.

But here's the rub. And this is where 'Shorton Brains' and his union buddies just don't get it. This clown goes on and on about 'edukashun.' We need more 'edukashun' he continually whines in his unsolicited policy speeches. Guess what Bill. We bloody well don't. There are no jobs you idiot.

And this is where the unions don't get it either. In the aforementioned business they employed lots of engineers and project managers - all multi degreed men and women who studied for years and worked hard to get where they were. They had enormous responsibilities. And worked long hours. But the unionists in the same business - from general labourers to machine operators who worked for them - were vastly better off.

An 18 year old kid can walk in off the street and get a job as a general site dog's body with little or no education and he will earn $5 an hour less than a multiple degreed engineer who has six years of education and 20 years of work under his belt. So the engineer feels a bit cheated and the unions rub their hands together because the gap has closed.

They hate bosses as part of their charter. The war against the bloody elite university bred bastard bosses is being won. And Shorton Brains wants every man woman and child to go to university? Surely he wants them to be turned into socialists and not to gain any usable knowledge for which few jobs exist.

Today this great nation of ours does not produce a car - something it has done since 1925 or thereabouts when Henry Ford built his plant at Geelong and Holden built its headquarters at Fisherman's Bend.

Our oil refiners have all but all closed down. It's cheaper to bring it in from Singapore in a boat. Thousands of jobs lost. Alcoa viewed Australia as a great new hope and opportunity in the 1950s - and today its plants are being torn down and recycled. All jobs are gone.

And that's only a few notables from a very long list of closures.

All we had to do was not get too greedy and keep working. But when you force wages through the roof, things happen. Profit margins drop to nothing. Other countries that are not as greedy put their hands up to make the same stuff.

Real estate, food and utilities go through the roof to keep up with the high wage demands and the whole thing descends into a cycle of decline that leaves the place up to its arse in debt with no jobs. A commercial wasteland.

Australia is now seriously rooted and the Libs are again trying to save us from complete disaster. Only this time they don't have a fighting chance. When Global businesses don't support a country - it's all over bar the shouting.

Meanwhile our unions and Labour leaders have been making hay while the sun shone. The union bosses - so awash with the subscriptions and donations of their members and 'partners' - have been partying big time. Millions have been squandered on everything from property to prostitutes, some have fallen by the wayside like those in prison, while others hunker down hoping to Jesus that the Royal Commission will not see their names on anything.

Our former Labour leaders - having thrown our money around like it was petty cash - now reap the benefits of their wages. Rudd - the cretinous little Narcissist now resides near his new power base at Harvard working on US/China relations. Some sort of study that is redundant even before he formulates it. And utterly irrelevant to Australia - the place 'he loves so much'.

Gillard seems to be permanently on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton - although God only knows why. Something about America having its first female President which she trail blazed and should therefore be regarded like some sort of modern day Emmeline Pankhurst. God help us! Are they doing anything at all for Australia -the country they pillaged and then basically deserted.?

The same country that continues, for some unknown reason, to pay them millions!

Why can't they means test these Socialist cretins? Rudd made sure his family would prosper when he was working in government circles in Queensland. He put all sorts of dodgy contracts his wife's way and she is now worth somewhere in the ballpark of $120 million!

Why then is this man entitled to another $750,000 pa of our money for the rest of his life? If a would-be pensioner was successful in life- they DON'T get a pension! They have enough! But not Rudd and his crumby family. Gillard wants to work at a university she gave $100 million to - unchallenged. So let her work. She's young enough to make a good living for the rest of her life. Why do we reward her massively after she and her cohorts sent us broke? When are we going to realize that this system - this way of doing things is unsustainable? When we are all living on the streets?

Trust me folks - - that is yet to come. But it will come. There is no other way.

Miracles can only be performed where there is a pulse. And Australia is currently in a Socialist induced coma.

Via email

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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

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".

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

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.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


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