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 December, 2014

ISIS extremists living in Queensland are being 'closely monitored' after returning from conflict in Syria and Iraq

Islamic State fighters who have returned from the conflict in Iraq and Syria are living in Queensland, but are being 'closely monitored' by officials.

Australia is currently facing a 'high' threat of terrorism according to the government, with a number of Islamic State extremists currently on the ASIO anti-terrorism radar.

A senior Police Commissioner has warned that the experience these fighters have gained from the conflict in makes them a major concern for Australian authorities, reports Courier Mail.

When asked about the number of extremists living in Australia, Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said 'I can't confirm the number because it can change in a heartbeat – and the risk can change in a heartbeat. Today it (the number) might be five. Tomorrow it might be 10,'.

'Obviously you don't go off fighting in foreign lands – not as a member of the Australian Defence Force – and come back and think you are not going to be on our radar,' Mr Stewart said.

'And that's because of the experiences that they have, and the skill set that they pick up by being involved in fighting elsewhere.'

Mr Stewart said while the Police strive for the utmost safety of Australians, there is always a risk of acts of terror.

It is believed that 12 Queenslanders are among the 70 identified Australians fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Some of them are hiding in Syria, fearing if they come back to Australia they will be prosecuted by severe new anti-terror laws that could see them jailed for up to 25 years.

Among the Australians who have flown to Syria are brothers Taha, Hamza, Bilal and Omar from Yagoona in Western Sydney.

The four men, aged between 17 and 28, told their parents they were taking a holiday in Thailand after winning their tickets in a competition, before revealing via text message that they had arrived in Syria.

Before they were due to come home last month, the parents received a text stating: 'We made it to Bilad al-Sham, we will see you in paradise'. Bilad al-Sham is a region in Syria. Despite the text, the parents went to the airport to pick up their sons but they never arrived.

Authorities tracked the sons down in Turkey after the family alerted them but it is believed they have since crossed the border into Syria.

Unlike some before them, the siblings were 'clean-skins' and had not been on any watch-lists that would have alerted immigration controls.


What Victoria's new Labor government has in store

Daniel Andrews’ Labor Party defeated the Liberal-National coalition at the Victorian election on November 29 and will hold a majority of about six seats, although the ALP had a swing of only about 1.3 per cent on primary votes.

So what policies can be expected from the new Labor government?

It has promised to enact a radical social agenda, including an extensive gay and lesbian wish-list, for Victoria.

Under the guise of tackling bullying, the government will require every government secondary school to have programs to support and celebrate “gender and sexual diversity” through a state-wide rollout of the Safe Schools Coalition initiative.

It has promised to repeal the criminal offence of intentional infecting of another person with HIV; to establish a GLBT Ministerial Advisory Committee within the Cabinet; and to create a dedicated Gender and Sexuality Discrimination Commissioner in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

The ALP has also pledged to recognise foreign same-sex marriages as registered relationships under the Victorian Relationships Register Act. The proposal is to allow same-sex couples to describe themselves as “married” on the application form.

Labor is also committed to granting adoption rights to same-sex couples.

Its proposed changes to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act constitute an attack on freedom of religion. Under the promised changes, faith-based schools, youth clubs, charities, welfare agencies, hospitals and counselling agencies could be forced to employ people hostile to their beliefs.

Hypocritically, Labor’s proposal will not force Labor MPs to employ Liberal supporters.

In the closing stages of the Victorian election campaign, leaders of the major churches called for no changes to be made to the Equal Opportunity Act, in the interest of maintaining a fair balance between the right to equality, freedom of association and religious liberty.

Also, it can be expected that the abortion lobby will be pushing for “bubble zones” around abortion facilities to prevent pro-lifers praying for and approaching women entering an abortion facility.

The upper house losses suffered by both Labor and the Coalition to the Greens and the micro-parties highlight a major issue that has been developing over the past few decades.

Since the early 1990s, planning by successive governments has focused on a concentrated high-rise residential building spree in central Melbourne.

Hundreds of thousands of people are now living in one- and two-bedroom units. They are single-income or dual-income-no-kids households.

Coalition and ALP governments have poured billions into infrastructure support for metropolitan Melbourne. What they have created is a concentrated constituency of people inclined to vote Green.

Meanwhile, regional economies have been suffering from a lack of infrastructure development.

This has been made worse in central and northern Victoria from the huge loss to farmers of irrigation water that has been diverted to the environment under the Commonwealth government’s Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

This failure to pursue sensible decentralisation policies has left Labor bleeding to the Greens in Melbourne and the Coalition bleeding to micro-parties in the regional areas of Victoria.

The result is likely to leave Victoria with similar problems to the Abbott government, which is struggling to get its legislation though a divided Senate. The one difference in Victoria is that the upper house cannot block supply; so the Andrews government, with its control of the lower house, can easily pass its budgets.


Queensland teaching graduates heading to UK after failing to land job locally

QUEENSLAND teaching graduates are heading to the UK in droves, with nine out of 10 failing to get a job with the state’s education department.  About 230 teaching graduates this year have been offered and accepted a permanent position with the Department of Education — despite more than 2080 applying for a job.

Almost 590 of the graduates from 2014 were offered and accepted temporary positions.

But recent reports out of England have suggested there could be a deficit of almost 30,000 teachers in 2017 with Queensland teachers rushing to fill the positions.

Mitch Jones, who recruits Australian teachers to work in the UK, said there was a rush to attract not only experienced teachers but also new graduates.  “The demand for relief teachers are also so high we can guarantee every teacher regular relief work each week,” he said.  “Some teachers also choose to work casually so they can spend more time travelling through Europe.”

The agency, Protocol Education, works with about 4000 public, religious and private schools across England, and currently sends over about 500 Australian teachers each year.

The Queensland Education Department has an active applicant pool of 13,917 seeking employment for next year, the number a combination of graduates from Queensland, interstate, overseas and general experienced teacher applicants.  More than 2080 of the applicants are straight out of university.

Teaching graduate Kristen Doherty is heading to Milton Keynes in the UK next year after studying a Bachelor of Primary Education, specialising in middle years.  “I am so excited, it’s going to be so good,” she said.  “I wanted to do a bit of exploration for me.”’

She said she was extremely nervous about the move but had studied up on the curriculum for her future Year 6 class.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said graduates were often lured overseas for a taste of adventure.  “Some people are finding it’s difficult to get work and not willing to move outside the southeast corner,” he said.  “The other reason is that people, particularly Gen Y, are very much into this idea you go and work overseas for a few years — it’s a rite of passage.”

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said Queensland schools were under a strong plan.  “We are working hard to make Queensland the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Mr Langbroek said.

“There is always demand for high-achieving professionals to teach in our state schools.  “We appoint a large number of teachers each year and have a range of initiatives to attract the best teachers to our schools, including those in remote locations.”


Teachers suffering under bureauracy and an old-fashioned industrial relations regime

Teachers in Australia's schools are suffering under an old-fashioned industrial relations regime and an out-dated salary structure according to new research published today by the free market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.

“Teachers are paid according to a ‘one size fits all’ model that pays the best and the worst teachers the same,” says John Roskam, Executive Director of the IPA.

“Promotion is based on time-served and the completion of box-ticking exercises rather than on the quality of teaching in the classroom.  For example, under existing regulations a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who wants to be a teacher must be paid the same as a 22 year-old inexperienced graduate.”

“The industrial relations regime that teachers work under means they sacrifice salary in exchange for more time off work.  For example, a teacher earning $75,000 a year has 11 weeks away from work and 17.5% holiday leave loading.  On a ‘standard year’ of 48 weeks work this equates to a salary of over $95,000 a year,” says Mr Roskam.

The report Freedom to Teach by IPA Research Fellows Vicki Stanley and Darcy Allen documents the 600 pages of regulations that stifle schools, teachers and principals.

“Teaching in Australia is managed as an industry according to systems established in the nineteenth-century.  If we are to provide young people with the best possible education we must think of teaching as a profession in which teachers are rewarded on the basis of their ability,” says John Roskam.

Key recommendations from the report include:

·       removing restrictions limiting the maximum amount classroom teachers can be paid

·       removing restrictions limiting the number of hours teachers can teach

·       allowing schools to make incentive payments to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools


30 December, 2014


Four current articles below

More pressure on banks over global warming

There is an amusing perversity here.  Warmists are trying to  convince banks that lending money to coal and oil companies is risky -- on the grounds that coal and oil are old hat and will soon be replaced by windmills and solar power.  The fact that even the hi-tech "Ivanpah" project in the California desert actually depends for much of the time on "fossil" fuels is not acknowledged.  So the chance that demand for coal and oil will vanish is vanishingly small.

On the other hand, the ever-tightening net of Greenie restrictions is a real hazard to the oil and gas industry.  It bumps up their costs and hence the prices for their product -- leading to a fall in demand and a probable winnowing out of the less efficient producers.  So lending to conventional energy producers does have some risk but not because of global warming or "sustainable" energy.  It is risky because Greenies attack businesses in that field

One of the country's biggest investors, Australian Super, has asked the chairmen of the nation's biggest banks how they are responding to carbon exposure risk, as lenders face growing pressure over their response to climate change.

Australian Super's investment manager for governance, Andrew Gray, said banks needed to give investors comfort that they were "assessing and managing" the risks appropriately.

"We've actually engaged with the boards of the banks and have been asking them about this issue themselves," he said.

Mr Gray said the discussion had occurred over the past year or so and had been "constructive".

"Companies that actually have fossil fuel assets – they would have direct exposure – but banks as financiers of those companies therefore also potentially have exposure," he said.

"We would say it's a plausible issue to be examining for the banks, and so we are certainly doing that."

Former Coalition opposition leader John Hewson, who chairs the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, said that carbon didn't rate a single mention in the financial system inquiry by David Murray, who had previously doubted the severity of climate change.

"I was fascinated that the Murray Review, which is focused heavily on bank capital and the need to increase bank capital, doesn't focus on the climate risk," Dr Hewson said.

Until recently, views such as Dr Hewson's were on the fringe in the finance community, even though environmental groups have been airing them for years.

But noise is being made everywhere. In December, the Bank of England reportedly launched an inquiry into a potential "carbon bubble" in the world economy.

Earlier in the year, former United States secretary to the Treasury and Goldman Sachs chief Hank Paulson likened the growing financial risks created by climate change to the US housing credit bubble that was allowed to inflate until 2008.

Domestically, while there has been investor debate about carbon risk, it has focused on large emitters, such as coalminers, manufacturers, or airlines.

Now the spotlight is on the big four banks - Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB and ANZ.

ANZ and CBA shareholders this year faced resolutions from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility that would have required banks to disclose their "financed emissions".

Even though these were firmly rejected by shareholders, Mr Gray said it would be wrong to assume this means the issue was being ignored by long-term investors such as super funds.

"Irrespective of the ACCR resolution, that's a conversation that we were having anyway from the perspective of saying, 'Well we're a big investor in the banks, we want to understand what the risk of that looks like and how banks are managing any potential risks from this as an investment theme'," Mr Gray said.

All of the major banks now disclose more information about their lending to big carbon emitters, which is partly a response to the investor and activist pressure.

Company chairmen also told investors they consider risks such as these in detail before extending credit to customers. They say these checks are built into banks' environmental, social and governance policies, which are applied to all of big corporate clients.

ANZ chairman David Gonski faced repeated questions on carbon at its AGM in December, and argued the bank carefully considered any extra risks that big carbon emitters would face.

"We will continue to look to balance things, so that we can see that we are assisting the world in its living standards, but also at the same time moving towards renewables in a positive way," Mr Gonski said.

Despite assurances such as these, research by Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis - a group pushing for action on climate change by investors - paints a less comforting picture about lenders' response to carbon risks.

Mr Buckley, a former head of equity research at Citi and fund manager, said the big four banks may have already funded "stranded assets" that were already feeling financial pain due to their carbon exposure.

He described the $3 billion Wiggins Island coal export facility as "potentially one of the first stranded assets in Australia" for banks and the associated coalmining company investors.

ANZ arranged the syndicate of local and global banks lending to the project, which has since been hit by a plunge in coal prices. Mr Buckley said this plunge in the coal price was partly the result of carbon risks materialising.

The banks' loans to the Wiggins Island project are protected in this case by take-or-pay contract rules that will in effect mean coalminers guarantee the port's cash flow.

Nonetheless, lending behaviour such as this undermines bank claims about carefully considering carbon risks – though Mr Buckley said this was now starting to change quite quickly.

He said three years ago if you were to ask senior finance executives if they understood the magnitude of their carbon risk in their loan books, infrastructure funds or equity portfolios, they would admit they had "no idea".

Now this is changing, after a collapse in coal company share prices linked to the coal price.

"I think they do have an idea today," he said. "Would they have known a year ago? No."

It had changed significantly in the past six months, he said, in part due to pressure from shareholders and signs that countries including the United States, China, Japan and Germany are acting to address their carbon emissions.

"Through the board election campaign of Ian Dunlop with BHP, the banks have gone through a bit of a baptism of fire and in the last six months," he said. "They are thinking about the associated financial risks a lot more. It wasn't even on their radar a year ago."

Despite these changes, many still remain sceptical that banks are taking carbon risk seriously.

Dr Hewson said: "I doubt if they've had serious board consideration of these sort of issues and gone through their portfolio loan by loan… whether they've actually done that sort of work, and if they have, why wouldn't they be prepared to tell the market what sort of risks they're running?"

The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, which Dr Hewson chairs, is considering "naming and shaming" how the world's 1000 biggest banks are responding to carbon risk, something it already does for pension funds.

He said the issue was not whether banks should avoiding fossil fuels, but that investors needed to be aware of the risks.

Similarly, Mr Buckley prefers to describe the risks in the language of finance, rather than environmentalism or politics.

"I actually never talk about climate change, I talk about the financial risk of stranded assets," he said.

Whatever happens to the politics of climate change, the issue is now clearly on the table as a financial risk. And as Australian Super's Mr Gray said, it was likely to remain there, especially as big super funds become more active in raising this and other social or environmental issues with boards.


Greenie misconceptions about the Great Barrier Reef

VISITORS to north Queensland who come to see the reef and rainforest are often perplexed to gaze from their hotel balconies out on to a wind-ruffled, muddy grey to brown-coloured sea.

What happened to the sparkling blue waters, they ponder. Fuelled by dim memories of media misreports, they usually jump to the conclusion that human pollution must be the cause.

Those who live along the Queensland coast, as opposed to those who preach about it from the concrete and glass metropolitan jungle, know that muddy coastal water is an intrinsic part of the natural tropical system, generated by the resuspension of seabed mud by constantly blowing southeast trade winds.

Indeed, special types of coral reef — turbid-water reefs — have evolved to live happily in just these muddy near-shore waters. The Great Barrier Reef itself — growing luxuriantly in pellucid blue, oceanic waters far offshore — is recognised in textbooks as one part of a larger mixed carbonate-terrigenous complex of both muddy (inshore) and bluewater (offshore) reefs with a long, robust geological history.

Along the Queensland coast, the shoreline is made up of sandy beaches and adjacent sandy-mud coastal lagoons and estuaries, punctuated by spaced rocky headlands. The nearby inner shelf seabed is almost flat and covered by a blanket of sandy mud and mud up to several metres thick that has accumulated during the past few thousand years.

This coastal-inner shelf system has been built, and is still nurtured, by sand and mud delivered to the coast from the Queensland hinterland at times of riverine flood — mostly after cyclones.

Dilute muddy water from even the greatest cyclonic floods only reaches from the coast to the offshore bluewater reefs about once every 10 years. It persists there just briefly before being dispersed by waves and currents, and in being dispersed introduces rare nutrients into a nutrient-starved locale.

The coastal wetlands are important ecosystems for mangrove growth and provide a nurturing environment for fish and invertebrate larvae. Also, shallow embayments with sandy low tide and subtidal beach flats provide the conditions for seagrass growth — an essential habitat for dugongs.

Prior to European settlement, this system existed in precarious but dynamic “balance”, with major cyclones causing immediate coastline erosion, followed months to years later by fairweather shoreline accretion and restoration, fed by sediment contributed by the same and earlier cyclones. It is possible that historical tree-clearing and grazing inland has increased the amount of sand and mud delivered to the coast in post-European time, with one computer model estimate of a two to four -fold increase.

If true, such sediment enhancement is no bad thing. First, the pre-European shoreline was, and remains, deficient of enough sediment to maintain its position without continuing sand nourishment, especially at locations away from river mouths. Second, more sediment nurtures not just the shoreline beaches but feeds nutrient into the ecologically vital coastal wetlands.

Ports and their access channels have been dredged along the Queensland coast since the late 19th century, and the spoil dumped at sea. Over a period of months to years, this spoil is redistributed across a wide area and merges insensibly into the sandy mud, inner shelf substrate.

The briefly enhanced turbidity caused by dredging and dumping activity represents but a small, localised disturbance within a dynamic oceanographic background that sees constantly varying rates of mud resuspension caused by wind, and by the regular interchange of shelf waters within a few days to weeks by tidal and other marine currents.

Not surprisingly, therefore, despite expensive nutrient and water quality analysis in the past 30 years, no measured evidence exists for changes in water quality on the near-shore GBR shelf in post-European time.

Furthermore, the historical dredging and spoil dumping on the shelf has had no other known significantly adverse effects either, especially not on the bluewater reefs in the distant offshore.

Spoil has sometimes been dumped at the shoreline to reclaim areas for port development — the Brisbane and Townsville ports are prime examples. Given the value of the land created, this is an entirely sensible procedure when undertaken (as it has been) as an environmentally efficacious and cost-effective commercial venture.

It is simply fallacious for conservationists to trumpet that the GBR is threatened by near-shore dredging, and it is risible and disgraceful that an international agency (UNESCO) is involved in unscientific grandstanding on the matter as well.

Caving in to activists, the federal government has rejected the two best environmental options for the spoil — either seabed dispersal or land reclamation. Instead, Environment Minister Greg Hunt has opted for the worst and possibly the most expensive environmental option — that spoil dredged from near Abbot Point will be dumped on land.

A more perfect combination of scientific ignorance and environmental stupidity would be hard to find.


Australian City Takes Moderate Approach to Sea-Level Rise

Councilors of the Australian coastal city of Shoalhaven have taken a moderate approach to planning for sea level rise. Shoalhaven’s future planning decisions and real estate notices will be made in anticipation of sea levels rising by nine inches by 2050. Nine inches was a mid-range estimate, more than an inch below the level recommended by consultants Shoalhaven hired to help develop its planning response to rising sea levels.

In addition, Shoalhaven’s planning levels were the first public rejection of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s (CSIRO) recommendation to plan for up to 31 inches of sea level rise. CISRO is the Australian national science agency. Other coastal towns planning for rising sea levels have adopted CSIRO’s recommendations.

Evidence, Not Models

The councilors noted research shows sea-level projections are very imprecise, and the further out you go, the less precise they become. In addition, the higher the level of sea level rise planned for, the more properties affected and higher the costs for property owners trying to insure or sell their coastal properties.

The councilors also built a relief valve into their coastal impact planning, something other councils had not done. Every seven years the town will compare projected sea levels to the actual measurements. If sea level rise has slowed or risen, adjustments can be made to coastal impact plans.

In response to Shoalhaven’s planning decision, Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, said, "The rate of change of average global sea level is immaterial to coastal planning. It is only the rate of local change that matters to cities, towns, and other settlements. It is very perceptive of Shoalhaven city planners to actually measure local sea level rise on a periodic basis and make their future plans based on what they actually observe.”


The carbon tax figures are in: Australians paid $14b to reduce global emissions by 0.004%!

We can finally assess (sort of) the carbon tax in Australia. It ran for two years from July 2012 to July 2014 and cost Australians nearly $14 billion. The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Office released Australian emissions statistics for the June Quarter of 2014. The headlines hitting the press this week are saying we reduced our emissions by 1.4%.

The Greens are excited, but neither the journalists or the Greens have looked at the numbers.  Not only is this reduction pathetically small on a global scale, but it’s smaller than the “noise” in the adjustments. Like most official statistics the emissions data gets adjusted year after year, and often by 1 – 2%. We won’t really know what our emissions were, or what the fall was, for years to come… (if ever).

Spot the effect of the Australian carbon tax in the graph of emissions by sector below.  It operated for the last two years. The falls in electricity emissions started long before the carbon tax (and probably have more to do with the global financial crisis, a government unfriendly to small business, and the wild subsidies offered for solar power).

Did Australian industry “reduce” their emissions a year ahead of the carbon tax? Maybe. In anticipation of the pointless expense and increased sovereign risk, they may have shut down or moved overseas. Should we celebrate?

The cost-benefits of using a tax to change the weather
During the carbon tax period we “saved” something like 17Mt of CO2. That’s how much less we theoretically emitted compared to what we would have been produced if our emissions had stayed at the annual level they were at in June 2012 (subject to adjustment).

Australia’s emissions are 1.5% of total human emissions, which are 4% of global emissions*. Those global emissions from all sources during the two years of the tax were roughly 416 Gt. Thus the carbon tax may have reduced global CO2 emissions by 0.004% and global temperatures by less.

The carbon tax is often framed as “revenue” or money raised, as if the government created some wealth. It should always be called a cost. And it’s not money from “polluters” — it’s money from Australians.

The carbon tax cost Australians $6.6 billion in 2012-2013  and cost $7.2 billion (projected) in 2013-14. Over the two year period, that’s $13.8b for an average reduction of 0.004%. The carbon tax was projected to cost $7.6 billion in 2014-15 if it had not been repealed.

The story of shifting data

Despite the headlines of “record falls” in Australian emissions, the data keeps changing, and the fall was about the same size as the adjustments. Each quarter, the numbers may be revised by up to 2%. In four of the last six years the annual emissions were announced and then were later raised. In two years the original estimate was similar to the last.

In other words, any 1% change is mere noise (in so many ways). Some of the time the headlines will have announced a fall in emissions that later vanished with data revision.

According to the most recent Excel data statistics I can find (subject to change), over the two years of the carbon tax our emissions started at 555Mt, fell to 550Mt and fell again to 542 Mt. As you can see by reading across the rows, the emissions may be adjusted for years after the fact. Who knows what Australia’s emissions of 2014 will be listed as 10 years from now.

More HERE  (See the original for links & graphics)

29 December, 2014

More unscientific science

It's Warmist "science" so we know what to expect -- and are not disappointed.  The author is jubilant that, in the second year of Australia's now-abolished carbon tax, emissions of CO2 dropped more than they did in the first year.  He is clearly unaware of one of the first principles of statistics:  Correlation is not causation.  And a correlation based on a sample of two (years) is in any case indistinguishable from random noise. 

To have have shown, with any plausibility at all, that the tax CAUSED the drop in emissions, he would at least have presented data about other influences on CO2 emissions and shown that those sources were static over the years concerned.  He does not even attempt that. 

Gareth Hutchens is an industrious writer who pops up frequently in Left-leaning publications but he is a twit.  He has the self-serving tram-track thinking that is typical of the Left

Gareth Hutchens

This week the Environment Minister Greg Hunt published data on the quiet, two days before Christmas, that showed the second year of operation of Australia's carbon price was more successful at reducing emissions than the first.

The carbon price began operation on July 1, 2012 and ended on July 1 this year after the government fulfilled an election pledge by abolishing it.

The new data from Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, published this week, showed emissions produced during the second and final year.

And guess what? Carbon emissions declined across Australia by 1.4 per cent in the second year, compared with a decline of 0.8 per cent in the first year.

Economists had predicted that that would happen. It takes a while for new markets to begin working properly.

The data showed the electricity (minus 4 per cent), agriculture (minus 2.6 per cent), industrial processes (minus 1.3 per cent) and transport sectors (minus 0.4 per cent) all experienced declines in emissions this year, and that those declines were partially offset by a rise in fugitive emissions (5.1 per cent) and emissions from stationary energy (0.9 per cent).

It is worth emphasising that a nationwide decline in emissions of 1.4 per cent is much bigger than 0.8 per cent.

I say that because Mr Hunt has spent a lot of time criticising the fact that carbon emissions declined by less than 1 per cent in the first year.

His office did so again this week when I asked them what their thoughts were on the latest data.

They chose not to comment on the fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price – the larger fall of 1.4 per cent.

"We have put in a place a policy which will start its first emissions reductions from March this year and we are confident that it will see Australia meet its 5 per cent reduction by 2020," a spokesman said.

"In its first year, the carbon tax was a $7.6 billion hit on the economy but reduced emissions by less than 1 per cent. There is a better way through the Emissions Reduction Fund."

Mr Hunt will have lots of time next year to challenge the cause of the bigger fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price.

But he will have to acknowledge that the decline has occurred.

And instead of patting himself on the back for getting rid of a mechanism that was reducing emissions by less than 1 per cent a year, he may even have to explain why he got rid of a scheme that was showing signs of achieving exactly what it was designed to achieve.


False rape accusation costs star his football career in Australia and overseas

Britain often locks false rape accusers up. Considering the damage they do, that should be done more widely

IT WAS the rape case that ended a promising rugby union career.

Solomona Silipa was a talented half whose Australian career included stints playing for Penrith and Parramatta in the NSW Shute Shield rugby competition.

The high point came when he had an opportunity to crack a spot with French rugby giant Toulon, whose alumni includes Sonny Bill Williams and English legend Jonny Wilkinson.

But that door closed when Silipa was charged with rape and had his passport confiscated as part of his bail conditions.

A woman, who cannot legally be named, claimed Silipa raped her inside her friend’s flat at Colyton, in western Sydney, after a drunken night out on February 22, 2013.

The case ran until ­December 3 this year and ended when the jury dismissed the woman’s account, taking just 23 minutes to find Silipa not guilty.

The woman and three of her friends had been to Penrith Leagues Club to see a Manpower show before they went to a nearby nightclub called Envy.

It was not in dispute that they met up with Silipa and his cousin Stephen that night. But there, the stories ­diverged.

The alleged victim claimed she fell asleep on a couch at the flat and woke to find Silipa forcibly having oral sex with her before he had non-consensual sex.

She then claimed a friend, who lived in the apartment with a boyfriend, came into the room and pulled Silipa off her after seeing the woman’s “shocked” face.

It was alleged that Silipa punched the female friend twice in the face.

But Silipa claimed the sex was consensual and that the pair had kissed earlier in the evening. Silipa’s lawyers, Julia Hickleton and Ben Jamieson, told the court the alleged victim’s friend concocted the story and lied to the police because a neighbour had called the friend’s boyfriend after seeing her kissing Stephen.

The boyfriend was driving back to the flat and the friend wanted Silipa and Stephen out, Ms Hickleton told the court. “(The boyfriend) was trying to ring his girlfriend and when he eventually got on to his girlfriend, he was very angry because he’s been told by his friend that he had seen his girlfriend kissing someone,” Ms Hickleton told the court.

Silipa and Stephen left the unit but went back after Stephen forgot his phone. The boyfriend arrived with friends and led a “vicious attack” on Silipa where he was hit in the head with a hoe, leaving a large gash, and stabbed in the body, the court heard.

The court heard medical experts found no injuries consistent with sexual assault on the alleged victim.

Solomona Silipa was found not guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of common assault.


New Zealand shows how Australian drug regulation  should be done

On 20th November 2014, Ministers for Health in Australia and New Zealand announced that work on a mutual therapeutic products regulator would cease. Although stalled on numerous occasions since negotiations commenced in 1999, this long-winded attempt at harmonising Australia's regulatory and registration authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with Medsafe, its New Zealand counterpart, was reaffirmed as recently as June 2011 with formation of an Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency (ANZTPA).

The arrangement had promised cheaper and more readily available medicines, and smaller regulatory burdens for pharmaceutical and medical technology industries. It had potential to reduce duplication through adoption of common dossiers for product registration (thereby accelerating registration processes) and to address inconsistencies in Australia's regulatory system to conform to best practice principles agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The Ministers have now offered some benign remarks about continued cooperation "where there are mutual benefits". This must be interpreted in the context of conspicuous differences between Australian and New Zealand regulatory environments. New Zealand's relatively liberal attitude towards new technologies and deregulation of prescription medicines may ultimately have proved irreconcilable with the bureaucratic, insular and risk averse disposition of Australia's TGA as well as cumbersome arrangements administered through the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling that ultimately reserves poisons scheduling responsibility to States and Territories.

Other examples of possible obstacles include New Zealand's greater emphasis on industry self-regulation and freedom to directly advertise prescription medicines to consumers. Australia limits non-prescription advertising to an approved list of just 10 ingredients. Unscheduled, low risk 'therapeutic goods' to which Australia's pervasive advertising controls apply include such innocent items as medicated soaps and some toothpastes.

New Zealand's progressive approach to switching medicines with established safety profiles from prescription to non-prescription contrasts with Australia's caution towards innovation.

Between 2003 and 2013 New Zealand proved a world leader in non-prescription switches yielding consumer gains by offering improvements on existing non-prescription medicines or effective non-prescription therapies where none previously had existed. This has created greater scope for self-care and personal health accountability than in Australia.

Abandonment of ANZTIPA seems hard to reconcile with the Australian Government's declared agenda for deregulation and competitiveness and represents a symbolic blow to a long standing agenda for closer economic cooperation between Australia and New Zealand.

Even more bewildering (to New Zealand especially) was the announcement on 24 October, 2014 that the Australian Government would independently review the TGA's regulatory framework for medicines and medical devices. This seemed to cut across years of past negotiation devoted to Trans-Tasman harmonisation.

Indeed, the impending review's Discussion Paper canvasses precisely the issues that would have been the substance of lengthy negotiation with New Zealand. An underlying justification for the new review is examination of "how international risk assessments might be better utilised within the Australian system" so as to fulfil its "innovation and competitiveness agenda". This could involve TGA acceptance of prior European or United States certification of medicines and medical technologies.

As worthy and unexceptionable as such goals may be, it is incomprehensible why they could not have been pursued concurrently with Trans-Tasman harmonisation.


Study: Gifted children benefit from bypassing school for university

While his kindergarten classmates were learning to tie their shoelaces, Jacob Bradd was solving algebra problems. By third grade he was working his way through a university calculus textbook. And at 13, he blitzed HSC extension maths after only knuckling down to study a week from the exams.

It was this astonishing progression that propelled him to university this year, where he began full-time study at 14, the youngest student on campus at Wollongong and among the youngest nationwide.

For his parents, it was difficult to decide what to do with a child too intelligent for high school but too young for adult life.

"Our main reservations were related to his social life," his father, hydrogeologist Dr John Bradd, said. "So we actively make sure he keeps up with his friends from school on weekends and when he's not at uni."

Transitioning to university at a young age is increasingly being used in Australia to meet the needs of highly intelligent students, according to a paper by academics from the University of NSW to be published in the January 2015 issue of Roeper Review.

One of the co-authors, Jae Yup Jared Jung, has been researching the career decisions of gifted students and says very few regret being accelerated.  "In fact, many would have preferred to have accelerated further or started their acceleration earlier," he said.

Without skipping a few years of school, these students are not only understimulated but they are often at risk of becoming bored, disengaged and socially isolated.

Each year in NSW and Victoria, a handful of students sitting the HSC and VCE are significantly younger than their classmates.

Jessica Kong from Our Lady of Sion College in Melbourne's Box Hill sat the VCE at 13-years-old in 2011 and planned to study biomedicine at university.

The youngest student to sit the HSC this year was 11-year-old Jonah Soewandito from The Scots College, who will graduate in 2015 after completing his remaining subjects.

But, depending on where he wants to study, there is a chance he will be too young to enrol and left in academic limbo.

Dr Jung says about 35 of 40 universities in Australia have no minimum age requirement "as long as the student has finished his or her high school requirements".

But at Monash University, you must be 17 years of age to enrol unless you have both an ATAR of 95 and approval of the dean of the faculty. The minimum age for study at RMIT is 16 unless the dean provides written permission.

Many universities, including the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and the University of New England and in Victoria, Melbourne, Monash  and Deakin, universities, however, offer dual study programs, allowing students to undertake university study while finishing  secondary school.

Australian research has generally found accelerated students have positive experiences at university, both intellectually and socially.

Jacob Bradd says he prefers university learning to high school. "At university they get you to actually learn things yourself, instead of school where they tell you everything and get you to do it a certain way," he said.

The main concern about accelerating students is that they will suffer socially.  But Dr Jung and his colleagues have found intellectually advanced children tend to gravitate towards older friends.

That was certainly true for David Ferris, who sat HSC mathematics in 2006 at the age of 12 before graduating high school at 14. This year the 20-year-old finished his fifth year of a double degree in mathematics and electrical engineering at the University of Newcastle.

"During the orientation week I was mistaken for a starting student and I was like 'I've been here for five years now'." he said.

"When you're at school, a lot of people will consider you to be the young kid or the smart kid," he said. "When I got into university there are people who are younger and there are mature age students, so you've got a wide range of people who are all there just to learn and find out more things about the universe."

Ferris says one issue accelerated students might struggle with is "making life-long decisions about your future when you're substantially younger than everyone else".

"There are some people who, at the age of 14, still want to be firemen when they grow up," he said.

"[But] even if at the end of the day I had regretted it, I'd be regretting it at the age of 18."


28 December, 2014

Premier Campbell Newman has delivered real results for Queensland

ON EVERY significant measure of government – from the handling of the economy to leadership, law and order, health and education, the Newman Government has exceeded expectations.

Campbell Newman was handed a broken government when he became Premier in 2012.

After years of mismanagement, economic vandalism and turmoil, the voters of Queensland declared it was time Labor disappeared for a while to rebuild itself.

Queenslanders wanted the united LNP under its energetic new leader to get a chance to set up the state up for a prosperous future.

Almost three years later, Labor is a long way from rebuilding anything and the Newman Government is a considerable way down the path to setting up Queensland for a great future.

While Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has toiled admirably with her small band of underperforming MPs carping along around her, there is no real evidence Labor has learnt anything about why it was turfed so unceremoniously from office.

Labor says it has about 30 policies already out there for public consumption.  Good luck listing them.

On the other hand, the Newman Government has set about methodically rebuilding Queensland.

In the modern political cycle, where irritating, ill-informed and at times illiterate dunderheads on social sites such as Twitter define debates, style all too often trumps substance when it comes to performance.

We are left with a silly focus on language, personality and tone setting the modern media cycle.

With the so-called serious ABC dumping its local current affairs TV show, and its radio programs more intent on prosecuting immature agendas and undergraduate conspiracy theories, Queenslanders are being sorely let down.

The Newman Government’s law and order approach is a case in point.

The Courier-Mail has been unashamedly supportive of the crackdown on outlaw bikie gangs, reflecting genuine fear among Queenslanders who were terrorised by these thugs acting like they ran the state.

For months, the ABC and other media outlets in Brisbane jumped on the ramblings of absurdly conflicted civil libertarians and bikie groups, demonising instead Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie and Mr Newman.

Both men were recently vindicated in the High Court and, of course, our streets are safer. There is not a skerrick of evidence to suggest the scare campaign was even remotely warranted. But yet both Mr Bliejie and Mr Newman have suffered at the hands of the campaigning left-leaning media outlets and their comdrades in the minority left-leaning but noisy legal fraternity.

Dishonourable campaigns waged against good public policy have, to a considerable degree, contributed to public polling that shows the Government’s apparently combative style is being judged way above its under-recognised substantive reforms.

The Courier-Mail is committed to serious and robust policy debates. While we will highlight mistakes, such as the fumbled opening of the new children’s hospital, we will also applaud the much more considerable advances health minister Lawrence Springborg has presided over, or Transport Minister Scott Emerson has driven, or John-Paul Langbroek is pursuing in education. Tim Nicholls has re-calibrated the economy in a quiet and efficient manner. Mr Bliejie has suffered a relentless campaign against him while diligently delivering significant legal reforms. And unquestionably the Premier has led from the front, taking the hits as any good leader does.

Despite being tarnished by the ongoing clumsiness of their federal colleagues, Mr Newman has overseen a remarkably bold yet deliberate government that has achieved what it has said it would, unafraid of a scrap along the way.

By any measure, that’s an A-grade result for Queenslanders.


Millions wiped out in "clean" energy failure

ONE of Australia’s highest profile clean energy companies has been placed in liquidation, wiping out at least $10 million in public grants and tax breaks and exposing its intellectual property to an offshore raid.

Wave energy developer Ocean­linx went into liquidation last week after a marine accident off the South Australian coast in March torpedoed plans for a wave energy generator designed to power 1000 houses.

The cost to investors after the demise of the clean ­energy company could be much more than $80 million.

Company chairman Tibor Vertes yesterday slammed liquidator Deloitte Australia, accusing it of failing to properly assess his bid to keep the Oceanlinx name afloat by protecting the intellectual property underpinning it.

Mr Vertes will take action in the Federal Court next month to pursue Deloitte and others in an attempt to protect intellectual property, but he believes a rival bid values that intellectual property at vastly less, and expects that the technology will be lost to Australia.

“It’s money out of the country,’’ Mr Vertes said . “It’s finished, it’s over.’’

Oceanlinx had built several prototypes of wave energy units, including three off the NSW coast and had planned to expand to substantially bigger markets in the US, Europe and Asia. At its peak, the firm had been listed by the UN as one of the top 10 clean-energy stocks in the world.

The latest reinforced concrete prototype weighed about 3000 tonnes and was designed to sit on the sea floor, transferring the electricity via cable to the electricity grid.

The company went pear-shaped when plans for a groundbreaking generator failed after it sank off South Australia while being transported.

Mr Vertes has accused the then administrators of failing to maximise the chances of Oceanlinx remaining alive, claiming that too little time had been granted to enable his interests to bid successfully for the remnants of Oceanlinx.

The preferred bidder is a company known as Wave Energy ­Renewable.

Mr Vertes’s lawyers argue that officials should ensure all bids are properly considered. Deloitte did not respond yesterday.

Earlier this month, however, lawyer Dominic Calabria defended the handling of the administration. “Our clients ... have advertised the sale of the assets of the company, fielded countless expressions of interest and conducted negotiations with a number of parties over an extended period of time,’’ Mr Calabria wrote.


Sorry history of tolerating the intolerant

AT first glance the connection between Sony last week pulling the comedy The Interview from our screens and the murders in Martin Place is not obvious. Yet both are explained by tolerating the intolerant, a deadly virus that has long infected the West.

Last Tuesday, when Australians woke to news that a gunman had murdered two innocent Australians in the name of Islam during a 16-hour hostage siege, we also woke to the lethal, horrifying cost of tolerating the intolerant. As much as we would prefer to put this behind us and get on with Christmas and a brand-new year, it pays to remember just how tolerant we are.

We allowed Iranian Man Haron Monis into our country on a business visa and then welcomed him as a political refugee. Charged with fraud at home, the Iranian government asked for him back. But we said no to the Iranians. When Monis wrote inexcusable letters to the families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan, describing them as pigs and Nazis, we excused that — delivering only a slap on the wrist of 300 hours of community service. Some called for his Australian citizenship to be revoked. We said no to that, too. We allowed Monis to remain an Australian citizen, a gift sought out by millions of refugees who are keen to embrace and respect Australia as an open, generous and free country.

When Monis asked his local MP and ex-NSW Labor leader John Robertson for a letter asking the state government to consider granting Monis access to his children — despite an appre­hended violence order that prevented such meetings — the former opposition leader agreed.

When Monis was charged with being an accessory before and after the fact to the vicious murder of his former wife — she was stabbed multiple times and then set alight — we allowed him bail. When Monis was charged with 50 acts of sexual assault, again we gave the man bail. When Monis sought to overturn a criminal conviction about the letters sent to the families of soldiers last week in the High Court, we provided taxpayer-funded legal aid for him to engage one of the nation’s most expensive barristers.

This man was known for his anti-West hatred. He told us about it. He was on our radar. He was known to our security ser­vices, federal police and NSW police. On November 17, less than a month before he took 17 innocent people hostage, he posted online his hatred of the West, he wrote about his allegiance to ­Islamic State. Still, we allowed Monis to roam free among us.

Tony Abbott is right to call Islamic State a death cult, but the question must be asked: is the West’s tolerance of the intolerant a death wish? And when many on the Left blindly refuse to identify terrorism, isn’t that furthering the death wish?

When a killer slaughters ­people in the name of Islam, we should take him at his word. Monis is the newest form of terrorist. There is no Islamic State membership card, no initiation ceremony, no formal welcoming morning tea.

Moreover, terrorism is not a numbers game. It’s not about the number of perpetrators who org­anise an attack. It’s about the motivation of the attacker. It’s done to instil fear, to attack our values, to undermine our confidence in our own culture.

The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, is a spoof about the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. When North Korean-backed hackers recently threatened harm — “remember the 11th of September”, they said — if Sony released the movie this month, Sony capitulated. Giving the anti-free speech terrorists what they wanted, Sony pulled the movie from theatres.

We shouldn’t be surprised. The West has a sorry history of tolerating the intolerant here too. Think of the Danish cartoons. Too few media outlets decided to defend our right to free speech in 2005. Instead they caved in to the demands of Islamofascists by not publishing the silly cartoons of Mohammed.

Remember too when Random House, in 2008, pulled the publication of The Jewel of Medina, a book by Sherry Jones that told the tale of Aisha, the child bride of Mohammed. The publisher had received no threats, just “cautionary advice” that publishing the book “might cause offence to some in the community (and) incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment”. Random House chose anticipatory surrender.

Following the Danish cartoons controversy, a South Park episode featured Mohammed behind a black “CENSORED” box. It was a pointed joke by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Carrying on with the joke, the 200th episode of South Park reintroduced Mohammed in a bear suit. Soon enough, a Muslim website warned Stone and Parker would end up like filmmaker Theo van Gogh — the Dutchman slain by a Muslim extremist in 2004 for his film Submission, which explored Islam’s treatment of women. And in another case of depressing anticipatory surrender, the bosses at Comedy Central inserted audio beeps and “CENSORED” block outs into the episode. That wasn’t a joke.

Neither is it a joke that many vocal Muslims claim special treatment. They don’t want an equal playing field. Those who want Mohammed fenced off have no qualms about attacking Christianity or other religions. Our reaction? We tolerate that too. A few years ago, Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, announced that Islam deserved different coverage in the media compared to other religions because Muslims were an ethnic minority.

Human rights commissions in Canada have been used to stifle free speech about Islam. Muslim-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a convert to rationalism, a believer in Enlightenment values and a critic of Islam, has been forced to live with 24-hour protection — in countries such as The Netherlands, the US and Australia. As Hirsi Ali said a few years ago, when more of us defend Western values, “there will be too many people to threaten and at that time I won’t need protection”.

Last week the ABC’s Chris Uhlmann staked a claim, too, for Western values when he said during an interview with the PM, “in a truly tolerant Western society … we would hope for a day when Islam is so integrated that it can be criticised in the way that Catholicism is criticised”. That kind of tolerance is also my hope for 2015.


A Christmas malediction to the wind industry from Australia

The wind industry is finding it harder than ever to put its case – principally because – apart from fleecing power consumers – it doesn’t have one.

In its effort to keep the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) alive and the massive wind industry subsidies flowing unchecked, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has been pumping out a dozen press releases a day, which have become so shrill, incoherent and internally inconsistent as to be nothing short of ridiculous.

2GB’s Alan Jones has been solidly belting the wind industry since the National Rally in June 2103 – reaching around 2 million Australian voters every week-day through 77 stations around the Country.

Plenty of mainstream journos have picked up on the debacle that is Australian energy policy today: joining the growing National and International backlash against the greatest economic and environmental fraud ever committed.

2014 has been a turning point in the battle to bring the great wind power fraud to a screaming halt.

European governments have run-out of patience with the eternal promises that the wind industry will grow-up soon, and no longer need a massive pile of taxpayer/power consumer subsidies. The tap has been turned off in Spain, the Brits are putting a lid on the subsidies for new projects and the Germans have chopped “welfare-for-wind” by 25% – all in the name of trying to cut spiralling power costs and keep their struggling economies afloat.

The wind industry’s subsidy fuelled mission to cover every last corner of Australia in giant fans is in melt down.

There are a handful still being speared into a couple of spots around the Country (Bald Hills and Cape Bridgewater in Victoria; Boco Rock, NSW), but the hucksters and frauds that are seeking to pocket $50 billion in REC Tax/Subsidies at power consumers’ expense are watching their plans for fans crumble before their beady, greedy little eyes.

Power retailers haven’t signed any power purchase agreements (PPAs) with wind power outfits for over 2 years – without which wind power outfits will never get the finance to plant another turbine: FULL STOP.

STT hears from insiders that – whatever happens to the LRET during the life of this Federal government – retailers are not going to enter PPAs; the banks are not going to lend for any new projects; and the banks that have lent, are all looking to call in their loans as and when the terms of their current lending facilities expire (the bulk of them expire in 2015/2016).

After which, wind power outfits will need to refinance on terms reflecting the very real RISK that the LRET will either be scaled back, scrapped, or inevitably collapse, at some point in the near future – as the completely unsustainable economic debacle that it is. That means either substantially higher rates or no-finance at all.

This will hopefully be the last Christmas celebrated by our favourite whipping boys at the near-bankrupt wind power outfit Infigen (aka Babcock and Brown): its losses continue to pile up, it’s bleeding cash, its share price is rocketing South and its mountain of debt is fast-becoming insurmountable. In a strange way, we’ll be sorry to see them go. But – rest assured – we’ll be amongst the first to let you know when they do.


26 December, 2014

Police seize rifle and shotguns in terrorism raids and charge man who wore ISIS flag on national TV over 'plotting terror attack on government target and guerrilla warfare in the Blue Mountains'

Young people can be very foolish in their quest for excitement

A man who stormed off the set of a television program while wearing an Islamic State symbol is behind bars after he was charged with possessing documents listing potential targets for a terrorist attack.

Sulayman Khalid, 20, from Regents Park in Sydney's west, was formally refused bail in Parramatta Local Court today after he and a 21-year-old Marsfield man were arrested in counter-terrorism raids overnight.

The Marsfield man, who cannot be named, was charged with breaching a Control Order. He refused bail after a magistrate deemed him an 'unacceptable risk to the community'.

It is also alleged he had plans to carry out guerrilla warfare in the Blue Mountains, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The arrests followed raids around 1.30pm last Thursday where police seized a large number of documents outlining possible Federal and State government targets, a rifle and two shotguns.

Deputy NSW Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said the men were arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into an apparent ring of 15 to 20 people.  She said 11 people have been charged so far under the counter-terrorism operation, known by the codename Appleby.  The same investigation conducted the largest raids in the nation's history on September 18, which involved more than 800 NSW and Federal Police.  

AFP Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan told reporters the men shared the 'ideology' of the Islamic State terror group.  'It is a group of people here in Sydney who we've been actively monitoring for a long time,' he said. 'Certainly their ideology is linked to [Islamic State].'

Adam Houda, Khalid's lawyer, told Daily Mail Australia his client has been charged with a very serious offence. 'But I want to remind you that the authorities have got it wrong in the past many times,' Mr Houda said. 'I ask that the court process be respected and for this matter to be determined on the evidence and not by politicians and the media.'

Under the name Abu Bakr, Khalid appeared on the SBS program Insight earlier this year for a forum about the Federal government's cancellation of terror suspect's passports. The part-time labourer had his passport suspended last December.

He stormed off the set after facing a grilling over his support for the Islamic State terror group.

In a separate hearing, prosecutors alleged today that the Marsfield man breached the conditions of his control order by using a public telephone and a mobile phone which did not belong to him in the space of an hour on Monday evening.

His lawyer, Arjun Chhabra, told the court the mobile belonged to his mother and said his age should be taken into consideration.

Today's arrests follow an extraordinary pre-Christmas message from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, where he warned a terrorist attack remains 'likely'.  'The briefing from the security agencies today indicated there has been a heightened level of terrorist chatter in the aftermath of the Martin Place siege,' he said.


The Australian who makes videos for terrorists: Sydney engineering student reveals he quit university to join the ISIS media team in Syria - where he dreams of being killed by an airstrike

They are a trademark of the Islamic State terror group. Slickly produced propaganda videos, filmed with high definition cameras.  Now it has been revealed that an Australian university student is behind many of the packages broadcast around the world, which often feature barbaric threats to Westerners.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper, an unnamed former electrical engineering student from Sydney said he had witnessed beheadings during his time working for the Islamic State.

But he described his life as fairly typical. 'I have a job, I live in a HQ, eat, sleep, work, hope an airstrike gets me so I can be Shaheed (martyred). Pretty typical life,' he told the newspaper.

The man was quoted saying video editing was 'kind of a hobby at first back in Australia... mostly cheap little film effects.' He stopped when he attended university, but it became a valuable skill working for the militant group in the Middle East.

The young man is one of more than 70 Australians who have left for the Middle East to fight for the militant organisation.

Many wannabe militants have failed to make it over there, with the Federal government cancelling more than 100 passports.

One Australian militant who featured in the group's videos, so-called 'Ginger Jihadi' Abdullah Elmir, 17, declared in a propaganda broadcast in October that Islamic State would not rest until 'the black flag is flying high across every land'.

The teenager vanished in June, reportedly telling his mother he was 'going fishing' - only to turn up in the propaganda video months later, surrounding by Islamic State fighters chanting loudly.

Professor Greg Barton, a terrorism expert from Monash University, told Daily Mail Australia it was 'quite chilling' to think many Australians living relatively ordinary lives had joined the terrorist group.  'It's all abstract, until the kid in the next suburb over is involved in doing that,' he said. 

Prof Barton said there has been no indication the number of citizens heading to Syria or Iraq has slowed recently.

Four brothers from a western Sydney family vanished in November after telling family they were going on a trip to Thailand. They sent a text message to their sister saying: 'we will see you in Paradise.'

Acclaimed German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer, who recently spent 10 days embedded with the terror group in Mosul and Syria, said he was surprised by the hundreds of foreign fighters who have arrived from all over the world. In a detailed post on his Facebook site this wek, Todenhöfer wrote: 'The West underestimated the risk posed by IS dramatically. 'The IS fighters are much smarter and more dangerous than our leaders believe. 'In the Islamic State, there is an almost palpable enthusiasm and confidence of victory, which I have not seen in many war zones.'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week warned security agencies have picked up 'heightened terrorist chatter' since last week's siege at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place. 


Darwin chilli sauce cops heat for calling Tony Abbott 'an idiot' in the fine print on its bottle

A chilli sauce company has been under attack on social media after labelling prime minister Tony Abbott an 'idiot' on their product.

Darwin Chilli Co has triggered an online storm after a photograph of a 'Darwin Hot Sauce' bottle label was shared across Twitter and Facebook, which also drove the company's Facebook page to 72,000 percent in traffic.

The label reads: 'Darwin hot sauce (sriracha style) is what it is. We are sorry that our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is an idiot. Heat level: Cat3.'

The family-owned business started the labels shortly before Abbott was elected prime minister around September 2014.

The company owner, who wished to not be named, told Daily Mail Australia the idea came to light from an 'old school labelling joke that started in France from the 1980s'.  'A french clothing company wrote under their washing instructions that they were sorry that their president was an idiot. It's funny and I've always remembered that.

'When I was making my labels, I remember hearing Tony Abbott's name everywhere so I made the first label as "Don't vote for Tony Abbott, he's an idiot", he said.  'But then he got elected so we had to apologise in the labels for our next batch of chilli sauces.'

He said the label is 'just a bit of a joke' and 'nearly everyone gets it' but it has offended a few over social media and has attracted a significant amount of 'internet trolls'. 'The negative comments don't bother us - it's just a sense of humour and we think it's hilarious.

'No one cares except the internet trolls who go on our page and give us one star ratings and abuse.  'But the negative stuff has actually kicked off our business and everybody is behind us. We couldn't be prouder. We started off defending ourselves but we've had so many nice people supporting us.  'We even had to shut down our official website because we ran out of stock.'

The family from Darwin has been making chilli sauces for the past five years. 'Our main focus is let our sauces do all the talking. It's 100 percent Australian made and every ingredient, down to the garlic is all from Australia.

Despite the negative backlash on social media, the owner said the company will continue to run their 'Tony Abbott' labels.  'By popular demand, our Tony Abbott labelled sauce will be available for backorder,' he said.


South Australia: Payments slashed for solar homes that feed electricity into grid

THE once-generous payments householders received for their solar power will be scaled back to a 5.3c per kilowatt hour from the start of next year.  This equates to a return of about $540 per year from a 6kW system which is large enough to power most homes.

But if you installed the same sized system before October 2011 you would potentially be pulling in $4836 per year.  Those payments will continue until June 30, 2028.

The retailer feed-in tariff, which must be paid by your energy provider, was set at 7.6c/kWh last year but fell to 6c once the carbon price was removed.

The Essential Services Commission of South Australia has further reduced it to 5.3c/kWh because it “reflects the forecast wholesale market value of photovoltaic (solar) electricity in the coming year’’.

“The proposed value is lower than the 2014 retailer feed-in tariff of 6.0 cents/kWh, due to the lower forecast wholesale market price of electricity,’’ ESCOSA says.

Individual energy retailers can elect to pay householders more for their power.

The original 44c/kWh feed-in tariff was taken up by more than 100,000 householders before it was closed by the Government in September 2011, and reduced to 16c/kWh. Householders who receive these payments are also eligible for the 5.3c payment which is paid by energy retailers.

Those who signed up before the cut-off receive the higher tariff until the scheme expires in 2028, costing an estimated $1.425 billion — an amount recovered through fees charged to all electricity customers.

The initially generous scheme was designed to foster the growth of the solar industry.

Solar panel prices have plummeted since then, with larger systems much more affordable now.


25 December, 2014

Frabjous joy in NZ

Australian dollar on track to dip below parity with New Zealand unit.  It has always burned Kiwis up that their dollar is worth less than ours.  Both dollars originated from the old British "Ten bob note"

The Australian dollar is on the verge of a historic low against the New Zealand dollar and could even go below parity next year, according to foreign exchange broker ThinkForex.

Currently, one Australian dollar buys $1.049 New Zealand dollars - just above the $1.042 low reached in 2006.

"The currencies have always traded above parity since being floated so this will be an historic event," said ThinkForex senior market analyst Matt Simpson.

The Aussie hold above parity was looking "increasingly tenuous," he said.  "I expect the Aussie dollar will have a battle around parity with the Kiwi during the first half of next year," he said.

The Aussie would get "initial support" at parity but could "easily reach" 95 New Zealand cents, he said.  "It's looking increasingly likely that the divergence between the Aussie and the Kiwi will continue, with the Aussie breaking below parity and hitting a low of 95 New Zealand cents."

The underlying reason, he said, was that Australia and New Zealand were in completely separate phases of their economic cycles.

"The New Zealand Reserve Bank are looking to increase rates and the Reserve Bank of Australia has hinted at potential for rate cuts. If the US does not (change) rates then I also suspect this will add pressure to the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut rates, as really they're waiting for the US Federal Reserve to move first before acting themselves."

However, Mr Simpson was more bullish on the Aussie versus the greenback.  "We are close to 80 US cents and it might get there for a quick high five but is unlikely to stay there long.

"We may actually see a bounce in the Aussie dollar during the first few months of next year.  "A rally to 85 US cents is not out of the question, especially if the Federal Reserve begin to delay their rate hike program and the Reserve Bank keeps rates on hold."

In late afternoon trading, the Australian dollar was buying 81.17 US cents, just above a four-and-a-half year low of 81.07 US cents.


Labor union treachery during World War II

By Hal G.P. Colebatch

My wife and I were flown to Melbourne for me to receive half of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s $80,000 Prize for History for my book Australia’s Secret War: How Unionists Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II

The hotel we were put up at, on the south bank of the Yarra River, was a good deal more luxurious than I am accustomed to, with uniformed doormen and all. The “gala meal” at the oxymoronically named Victorian National Arts Centre, was excellent.

My publisher, Keith Windschuttle, editor of the conservative cultural magazine Quadrant, Roger Franklin, editor of Quadrant Online, and former editor Peter Coleman and his daughter shared our table.

It was hard to judge the volume of applause from the 400-plus plus literary figures present, most of them probably leftie luvvies, when my name was announced. Our table drowned out much of those nearby. I was wearing an orthopedic boot, and the Prime Minister had to help me up the steps to receive my certificate.

My speech, briefly outlining a few of the instances strikes, go-slows, and sabotage that had undermined Australia’s war effort – with the gruesomely appropriate figure of 6 million days directly lost through strikes – was heard in silence. New facts I have been supplied with since the book was published include evidence that a longshoreman’s strike, which prevented the defenses of Darwin being completed by the time the Japanese struck, was organized by a Nazi German operative.

U.S. aircraft and airplane engines, rushed to Australian ports for the defense of Australia, were deliberately wrecked as they were being unloaded, for example by being dropped by cranes onto concrete wharves, until U.S. troops intervened.

Eddie Ward, the far-left Minister for Labour and National Service in the Labor Government which took over in 1941, dubbed Australian troops fighting Nazism “four shilling a day murderers,” a catchcry taken up by the perpetually striking longshoremen’s and coal-miners’ unions, not to mention the gas-fitting, shipbuilding, and other unions. The endless strikes probably contributed to the premature death of Prime Minister John Curtin from hypertension at 60.

U.S. troops again intervened when longshoremen refused to load heavy guns for the Battle of Milne Bay, as attempted Japanese landing on the eastern tip of New Guinea, which, if successful, would have brought more Australian and U.S. positions in range of Japanese attack. Pilfering was wholesale, including small keepsakes sent to soldiers by their families (the accompanying notes were thoughtfully left for the soldiers to read) and, as a further demonstration by the watersiders of who was boss, jeeps were dropped into harbors.

My book was the result of the testimony of scores of soldiers, sailors, and airmen (mostly lower ranks — the senior officers of World War II were mostly dead), published memoirs of senior officers including both Australia’s most senior admiral and a later State Premier, unit histories, and official Year Books and the bipartisan War Council.

It also made the point that the left-leaning history industry has largely glossed over the whole question of wartime strikes, sabotage, and go-slows. How slow can you go? It took almost as long, but in some cases longer, to build a 750-ton corvette in Australia as it took to build a 35,000-ton aircraft carrier in the United States. Canada built many times more naval and merchant ships. An armed guard had to be posted on the cruiser HMAS Perth after it was found that 6-inch nails had been driven into the electrical wiring. Awe hardly ever gets such a chance in Australia and I made the most of it.

There was some applause at the end of my speech but it did not take long to discover that, with a conservative author winning a major national literary prize, probably, as blogger and wag Tim Blair said, for the first time ever, the leftie luvvies were furious (Tim telephoned Perth to tell my daughter). Twitter was going berserk even before the ceremony finished. Leading the charge was one Mike Carlton, whose own entry, a rehashing of a naval engagement in World War I, had not won a prize. (I had previously written critically of another book by him and received a delightful note from him replete with four-letter words, a practice that is said to have got him sacked from the Sydney Morning Herald.)

He claimed my book was both “badly researched” and “fiction,” though how it could be both I am not sure. It could only be untrue if I or the ex-soldiers, sailors, and airmen who contacted me with first-person accounts, the various memoirs, unit histories, and official documents that I quoted from, were lying. I believe the man who risked their lives to defend our country were telling the truth. Where possible I quoted service numbers to help ensure accuracy.

Carlton also claimed that one of my informants, W.S. Monks — who said a strike at the end of the war prevented him and other men returning from Japanese prison-camps from being disembarked from HMS Speaker — did not exist, despite the fact an hour-long interview with him exists on YouTube.

Along with an abusive, ideologically revealing and false attack on Quadrant, one Peter Stanley, an academic, claims:

"[Colebatch] does not seem to confront the awkward fact that while the union was dominated by “Communists,” between 1941 and 1945 the Communist Party of Australia was “the leading war party,” whose officials strove to reduce industrial action and who supported more than most Australians the most vigorous prosecution of the war. While individual members of the union may well have lacked the ideological purity of their officials and may well have pilfered, struck and vandalised cargos, they were doing so in defiance of “the union.” Colebatch never grapples with this fundamental conundrum".

This is simply false. I devote a chapter to dealing with “this awkward conundrum” and come up with several possible explanations, while suggesting none are complete in themselves.

First, the strikes did occur, whether led by communists or members of the left-wing lumpenproletariat, between whom the difference was quite negligible. The official Commonwealth Year Book lists the number of working days lost — and in some industries these actually increased after Stalin changed sides in 1941.

Second, it does not take a very profound knowledge of World War II to know Stalin was not at war with Japan until the very end, and had nothing to lose by Australian Communists damaging the Pacific War effort. An important and scholarly U.S. book, Stalin’s Secret Agents, by M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein, reminds us that Stalinist Russia was not at war with Japan until the very last few days of the war (after Hiroshima). Japanese ships were still coming and going out of Vladivostok through nearly all the war. Most importantly, the authors point out that Stalin did not want a quick and overwhelming allied victory in the Pacific until he had moved troops from Europe and was positioned to take a share of the spoils.

The award was a triumph for Quadrant’snew conservative publishing house. The Quadrant magazine was founded in 1956, partly in response to the Soviet Union crushing Hungary. The magazine has flown the flag of intellectual conservatism, often against daunting odds, for 58 years. We got out the champagne. The leftie luvvies did not join us.


Bushfire insurers in line for $100 million Black Saturday payout

A class action lawsuit by more than 5,000 people sued electricity provider AusNet Services and asset manager Utility Services Corporation Ltd after a Royal Commission found that the Kinglake fire, the most deadly of the series of wildfires, was caused by an aging AusNet power line.  Bigger bills for Victoria's electricity users?

Large insurance companies are set to reap about $100 million from the settlement of Victoria's Black Saturday bushfire disaster.

The Victorian Supreme Court approved the $500 million settlement on Tuesday, ending a five-year class action over the Kilmore East-Kinglake fire in 2009 that claimed 119 lives and destroyed 1242 properties.

Insurers took an active role in the lawsuit against AusNet, formerly SP AusNet, including providing funding in the case.

They now stand to gain about $100 million through subrogation payouts - when an insurer tries to recoup money paid out to policyholders who lost homes and other assets.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Rory Walsh said the exact amount of money going to insurers would be determined once each individual case was assessed.

"That figure will not be known until we've gone through the process of assessing everybody's losses," he said.

"Insurers have paid out somewhere in the order of $500 million directly on insurance policies to group members. How much of that will be recovered as part of the process will be determined towards the end.

"It will be somewhere in the region of $100 million."

The AusNet settlement is the largest class action settlement in Australian history, more than doubling the $200 million Centro payout.

Only two members objected to the settlement out of a total of 5000 group members.

Justice Robert Osborn called the payment a "large and commercially significant sum".

He said it was significant that none of the insurers objected, given they were "sophisticated litigants, with experience in the reasonable costs of large scale litigation".

The Insurance Council of Australia declined to comment on the case.

Mr Walsh said the role of the insurers in the case, which did not have a litigation funder, was unique.

"What we've had somewhat uniquely here is we've managed to have the co-operation of the insurers in the proceeding," he said.

"They didn't run their own proceeding, they were within our tent."


New dams coming to Queensland?

A new dam about a third the size of Wivenhoe Dam has been proposed for Linville, north-west of Brisbane.

Another potential new dam, about one-10th the capacity of Wivenhoe, could be built near Willowbank, according to a state government study released on Tuesday.

The pre-feasibility study into potential flood defences for Ipswich and Brisbane was unveiled by Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle. A third option is raising the wall of Wivenhoe Dam.

The government announced mid-year eight potential dam sites.

Mr McArdle said the government would now spend 12 months - if it wins the 2015 state election - finalising technical studies before deciding whether to proceed with any or all three of the options.

He said it was too early to begin talking about construction costs.  "There is no doubt each project could cost hundreds of millions of dollars," Mr McArdle said.  "If they all go ahead, it will be a very large sum."

Instead, he pointed to the financial damage of the January 2011 floods.  "In 2011, the insurance damage from that flood was $2.5 billion," he said.  "The total estimated damage was between $3 billion and $5 billion.  "Both in Ipswich and Brisbane there were some 12,000 buildings inundated."

The 12-month study will also include detailed engineering studies of raising Wivenhoe Dam wall by two, four or eight metres.

The proposed 370,000 to 500,000 megalitre Linville Dam could be built on the Upper Brisbane River, upstream of the town of Linville.

The proposed site at Willowbank is on the Lower Warrill Creek to the south of the Bremer River.  That was not listed in the original eight locations announced mid-year.

The Lower Warrill Creek flows into the Bremer River, to the west of Ipswich.

Mr McArdle said initial studies showed it was a good flood mitigation site.

"We believe that the Lower Warrill Creek site will provide protection for both Ipswich and Brisbane in a capacity that would save hundreds of homes in the event of a 2011 flood event."

Mr McArdle said the Willowbank site was added after the eight locations were expanded to 39 locations.

Lockyer MP Ian Rickuss said choosing a dam site on the Lower Warrill Creek - rather than the Bremer - offered more flexibility for planners.  "Because the Bremer and the Lower Warrill join, it does take the pressure of the Bremer," he said.  "You could store 120,00 or 130,000 megalitres there [Willowbank], it will really take pressure off here (Ipswich) as well."

Mr Rickuss said there was potential for water stored in a dam on the Lower Warrill Creek to be used for irrigation.

Mr McArdle said a dam at Linville would offer better flood mitigation or drinking water storage for Wivenhoe Dam.

Water from Linville flows down the Upper Brisbane River into Somerset Dam, which flows into Wivenhoe Dam.  He said the site could be kept for grazing or pasture until it was needed as a dam.  "We believe we could capture a large quantity  of water in Linville," he said.

That would free up extra "flood mitigation" storage space in Wivenhoe Dam, Mr McArdle explained.  "We could store water in Linville, drop the [drinking water] capacity in Wivenhoe and let extra flood waters into Wivenhoe, therefore protecting the whole of south-east Queensland."


24 December, 2014

New $7 billion offshore LNG project looms for WA after Hess-North West Shelf deal

Extremely gratifying in the light of current low prices for crude oil and gas

Western Australia looks set for a new $US6 billion ($7.3 billion) offshore petroleum development thanks to a long-awaited deal struck between US player Hess Corporation and the North West Shelf venture, which also opens a new era for the Woodside-managed venture in the processing of third-party gas.

The North West Shelf venture will process gas supplied by Hess from its fields in the Carnarvon Basin through its LNG plant at Karratha for a fee, providing an extra revenue stream and helping extend the life of the project.

The deal will allow Hess to go ahead with the development of the gas it has discovered in the Carnarvon Basin off WA, in a project expected to cost $US6 billion to develop. It will also secure LNG that it can then market to customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Although no increase in LNG plant capacity is required, Hess' new offshore project, called Equus, will be one of the few large-scale resources projects set to go ahead in the next few years after the fading of the mining investment boom and after a splurge of investment in new LNG infrastructure that triggered an escalation in costs and made further new LNG projects unlikely. A final investment decision in Equus is not expected until 2017 or later, Hess said.

"Everybody has been saying and probably rightly that because of costs in Australia it's very challenging to build a new greenfield LNG plant but this does show that once you've got a lot of established LNG infrastructure there are these brown-field opportunities," said Graeme Bethune, principal of consultancy EnergyQuest.

"People have been saying, 'Why don't these companies get together and co-operate?', and this is an example of that."

Woodside's senior vice-president, North West Shelf, Niall Myles said the letter of intent with Hess shows the Karratha gas plant is "open for business", providing "an attractive option for third-party gas owners to commercialise their resources in proximity to existing LNG infrastructure".

Negotiations between New York-based Hess and owners of LNG plants in WA have been going on for several years, after the US company decided against building its own LNG infrastructure to process its several gas discoveries in the WA-390-P and WA-474-P permits off the coast. Potential partners for the processing arrangement also included Woodside's Pluto LNG venture and Chevron's Wheatstone venture, while Hess was also at one stage considering developing a floating project.

The initial accord struck with the North West  Shelf venture has a downside for Woodside, however, in that Hess gas would now be ruled out as an option to feed a potential expansion of its $15 billion Pluto LNG plant, also at Karratha. Woodside has so far failed to find enough new discoveries of its own to add a second LNG train at the plant, and has been in talks for years with other holders of gas resources on potential supply arrangements.

Hess would not disclose the volume of gas involved in its discoveries, nor how much LNG it would get from the North West Shelf venture for sale to its own customers.

A spokeswoman said the terms of the letter of intent were confidential, as were information on gas volumes. Estimating the capital cost of the upstream Equus project is "premature", she said.

The news of the deal came as new research from global consultancy Douglas-Westwood confirmed Australia would will see a plunge in investment in the LNG sector over the next five years.

Although total investment globally in LNG is set to surge 88 per cent to $US259 billion over the 2015-19 period from the previous five years, Australasia is one of only two regions along with the Middle East that will see a drop, as the focus of spending shifts to new North American export ventures, new projects in Africa, and new import terminals across Asia.

"Australasia and Asia have dominated global LNG capex in recent years, however, over the forecast period all the regions are expected to experience positive growth in capex, except for Australasia and the Middle East," said Amanda Tay, author of the Douglas-Westwood report.

Australia last saw a final investment decision for a new LNG project in January 2012, for Inpex Corporation's $US34 billion Ichthys venture in Darwin. Since then, Woodside has ditched a plan to build a new onshore LNG plant at James Price Point on the Kimberley coast for its Browse gas venture, while Shell and PetroChina have held off committing to building an LNG plant in Queensland for their Arrow coal seam gas venture.

Santos and GDF Suez have also called off a floating LNG plant at their Bonaparte venture off the northern coast, while ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton are holding off committing to a proposed floating project for their Scarborough gas resource well off the WA coast.

The delays have caused players to urge more co-operative development of gas resources to avoid wasteful and costly spending on new infrastructure, of which the Hess-North West Shelf deal is a significant example.

"This arrangement would bring together Hess' strong deepwater drilling and development capabilities with NWS' proven track record in natural gas processing and liquefaction," Hess president and chief operating officer Greg Hill said in a statement.

"The combination provides an attractive option for Hess to commercialise commercialise its important Equus natural gas resource in a manner that delivers secure, reliable energy supplies into Asia Pacific LNG markets and creates value for our shareholders."

Hess said it would sort out the detail of how Equus gas would be transported to the North West Shelf processing facilities as part of joint engineering studies the partners would now carry out.

"It is envisaged that Hess will deliver its gas to an offshore North West Shelf platform by means of a Hess-constructed main pipe/trunkline from our Equus platform to the North West Shelf platform," the spokeswoman said.


Penalty rates: Loadings for working weekends and holidays could be reduced

Long overdue in some cases

This could be the last Christmas millions of Australian workers will claim penalty rates for working on weekends and public holidays, unions have warned.

The Fair Work Commission on Monday released a schedule of hearings to run throughout next year as part of a four-year review of all modern awards. It has confirmed it will examine proposals by employer groups to change penalty rates as part of the wider review.

Australian Council of Trade Unions president, Ged Kearney, said employer groups have indicated they will target a range of industries including retail, hospitality, pharmacy, fast food, dry cleaning, laundry, hair and beauty, amusements and events. She said workers in those industries were at risk of losing their current penalty rates.

"If employer groups have their way, this could be the last year millions of Australian workers will be paid existing penalty rates for working weekends, late nights and public holidays – including Christmas," said Ms Kearney.

Ms Kearney said the case to cut penalty rates had begun just before the busy Christmas period when many Australians have no choice but to work on public holidays.

"While many of us are winding down to enjoy the holidays, millions of Australian workers will give up this special time with family and friends to work. They work weekends, nights and other unsociable hours and should be paid for that," she said.

The Fair Work Commission released a schedule of hearings from August next year. Employer groups have until February 13 to lodge submissions for any proposed changes to the award.

The commission will finalise its timetable and a list of witnesses after a conference in late February.

On Friday, the federal government announced the terms of reference for a Productivity Commission review of workplace laws under the Fair Work Act.

Ms Kearney said this meant that wages, conditions and penalty rates would be under attack on two fronts.

"The employers are going after them in the Fair Work Commission while the Abbott Government is using the Productivity Commission to do the same," she said.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Kate Carnell said Sunday penalty rates should be similar to Saturday rates in a modern Australia.

"We think there should be penalty rates but Sundays should be in line with Saturdays. Sunday is no longer the day of rest. It's a day we go shopping just as we do on Saturdays," she said.

Ms Carnell also welcomed the announcement of the Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act, saying Australia needed a more modern and flexible workplace suited to its 24/7 economy.

"We need to make sure penalty rates are realistic and don't make businesses unviable," she said.

"Reform does not mean dismantling penalty rates altogether, but it does mean ensuring businesses and employees don't suffer. We otherwise risk condemning large numbers of people to unemployment and underemployment."


Outback restaurant in trouble for anti-Islamic sign

A Longreach restaurant that placed a sign reading "Sorry No Muslims" outside its front doors has caused consternation on social media.

Local Helen Day posted pictures of the chalkboard outside the Eagle's Nest Bar and Grill on its Facebook review page last Friday.

"Just a bit surprised to see the sign up [reading] 'Sorry No Muslims' ... what's that about?" Ms Day wrote.  "I certainly won't be going into a place where my Muslim friends are not welcome!"

The full handwritten message on the sign read "2000 years ago Jesus Christ made headlines turning water into wine...the tradition continues...We turn money into beer [Sorry No Muslims]."

Ms Day's pictures were reposted by Facebook group Boycott Halal in Australia? No Way, and a moderator for that group told Brisbane Times the image had since been shared widely.  "Our page has only been going three weeks and we had a 'Total Reach' of up to 7,000 people," the moderator said.  "We put the story up a day and a half ago and are now reaching almost 80,000 people and rising, because of that one post."

Anti-Islamic sentiment has risen in Australia since last week's Sydney cafe siege, with movements like #illridewithyou acting as a counter argument.

Comments on the Eagle's Nest Bar and Grill's Facebook page have ranged from outraged to unapologetic.

The moderator of the page, who wished to remain anonymous, said some Facebook groups were trying to shut it own, or making comments such as Islam forbids alcohol consumption anyway so it shouldn't matter if Muslims can't enter a bar.

"We've been deleting disgusting and hateful posts from members of the Australian Defence League, Australian Brotherhood, Boycott Halal in Australia and lots of other anti-Muslim pages since we put up the post," the moderator said.

A Longreach Regional Council spokesman confirmed a verbal complaint had been received.  He said they were seeking more information about the sign and would consider an investigation, or referring the matter to the appropriate body.

The spokesman said the operator of the Eagle's Nest had a history of writing quirky, tongue-in-cheek slogans on his chalkboard that changed daily.

A spokeswoman for the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland said it had not yet received any formal complaints about the sign.  "I understand the Australian Human Rights Commission has received some enquiries about it and they have referred the enquirers to us," she said.  "So it may just be a matter of time."

However, the spokeswoman said under the legal definition of religious discrimination, the complaint would have to come from someone directly affected.

"Therefore if there was a Muslim person in Longreach who wanted to obtain the goods and services from Eagle's Nest Bar and Grill but couldn't because they didn't serve Muslims, then that person could make a complaint to the ADCQ," she said.

The Eagle's Nest restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and calls to the owners' home went unanswered.

The moderator of the Boycott Halal in Australia? No Way Facebook group said they should own up to writing the message.  "If they would only apologise and say they made a mistake, we'd be the first to publicise that. I wish they'd just clear it up so we can all move on," they said.


Must not mention that women still do most of the household budgeting

Senior Liberals were privately aghast when the Prime Minister nominated repealing the carbon tax as his "biggest achievement" for women because they are "particularly focused on the household budget".

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was forced to defend Tony Abbott's latest gender-related gaffe as Labor lashed the Prime Minister as "stuck in the past".

Mr Abbott was asked to name his biggest achievement as the Minister for Women during an appearance on the Nine Network's Today program. "Well, you know, it is very important to do the right thing by families and households. As many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget and the repeal of the carbon tax means a $550-a-year benefit for the average family," he said.


23 December, 2014

Federal Department spends $500,000 on legal fees fighting $6000 child support dispute

The Department of Human Services has spent more than half-a-million dollars of taxpayers' money in legal fees fighting a child support dispute over $6000.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says the case is a "scandalous waste of taxpayers' money … to protect the butt of the department".

Now the department, which runs the Child Support Agency and Centrelink, has hired more high-end lawyers to try to block the release of information on its own conduct in the matter, exposing taxpayers to up to a million dollars in legal and other costs.

Child Support Agency bosses have spent the money despite knowing, since August 2011, that their public servants broke the law in the man's case and were on shaky legal ground from the beginning of the dispute.

DHS has been ordered by the government's information watchdog to hand over a briefing it prepared for its minister, along with other documents, but the department has hired top-end lawyers Clayton Utz to fight the decision of the Australian Privacy Commissioner.

Throughout the three-year legal battle with the father, a determined litigant known simply as "DT" because of strict Family Court rules on identifying parties, Human Services have tried to resist handing over documents to the court and defied orders to release information to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Transparency and accountability at Human Services, the government's largest department, has been under fire since a report by the Australian Information Commissioner revealed an organisation obsessed with process, that preferred legalese to plain English and had increasingly lost sight of its duty to share information.

As of April this year, DHS had paid more than $500,000 to defend the DT case and refuses to say what has been spent since.

The department refused this week to say how much taxpayers' money was being paid to Clayton Utz for the latest legal manoeuvre but a spokeswoman insisted the department was justified in another round of legal action to keep documents suppressed.

"Matters are generally appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal where the decision being appealed contains an error of fact or an error of law," the spokesman said.

"As this matter is subject to ongoing litigation, the department will not be providing further comment at this time."

Senator Nick Xenophon has been trying to use the Senate Estimates process to get answers on the spending on the case, but his questions have been taken on notice, with Human Services then refusing to answer, citing "confidentiality".

"This is bureaucracy gone mad and now they're refusing to answer how much has been involved," Senator Xenophon said.

"Taxpayers should expect a better response than this, they are hiding behind confidentiality and it seems a cowardly way to avoid accountability.

"This seems to be a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money for no good effect other than to protect the butt of the department."


Say 'no' to the Nanny State, paid for by you, for your own good

The Centre for Independent Studies has just announced the 2014 "Nannies" for the most passive-aggressive impositions by government bureaucracies or their surrogates.

The CIS trawled through the excesses of our burgeoning, over-regulating, micro-managing, unsustainable nanny state and pointed to the worst excesses of pointless government intervention, giving each a Nanny.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services is awarded a Nanny for the numerous illuminated roadside signs its puts up – it is by far the biggest visual polluter in the state, far ahead of McDonald's. The most irritating of all these big brother messages are the large, illuminated signs that say: "Distracted drivers cause accidents".

Then stop distracting drivers! Stop polluting the highways with pointless little lectures. Spend the money on something useful, like better road signs, or cut the budget.

The Nanny for the most belligerent act by government (and its monopoly surrogate) is shared by the NSW and Victorian governments, along with support from the Taxi Council, which have banned smartphone apps that enable private drivers to offer passengers a lift and charge for the service. The most famous such app is Uber, and it has been shown to slash the cost of fares by around 50 per cent.

Apps like Uber would have a devastating effect on the monopoly rents charged by the state governments and the taxi industry by disrupting this highly regulated and dysfunctional industry. Deregulation! We can't have that. It might not be neat and lucrative for government. The mantra of Your Safety will always be the argument given for this monopoly, as if the mantra of Your Choice was immaterial.

A Nanny went to the Western Australian Opera, a state-subsided, state-sponsored company which cancelled a performance of Bizet's Carmen that was to have been held in a tobacco factory because it may have sent the wrong message. Given that the fictional Carmen worked in a tobacco factory, the original decision was an inspired idea. But WA Opera was concerned it might offend a major sponsor, the West Australian Health Promotion Foundation. 

So it cancelled Bizet's Carmen at the tobacco factory.

The Health Promotion Foundation is a branch of state government operating under the brand, Healthway. It describes itself as "a health promotion foundation with a legislated obligation to promote good health and encourage healthy lifestyles [and] empowering individuals, groups and communities to be healthier."

What is it about bureaucracies and "empowering" people? The WA government, which has a serious budget problem, would do better by fulfilling its obligation to fiscal prudence and de-legislating and disempowering this cliche factory.

The West Australian government scored another Nanny, via the WA Supreme Court, for its ruling that people trying to give up smoking cannot use nicotine-free e-cigarettes because the state law prohibits the sale of any product that even looks like a cigarette. Rather than amend the law, the WA government banned e-cigarettes.

Another government agency, the Advertising Standards Board, won a Nanny for banning an ad that showed a man cavorting in a warehouse, standing on the front of a moving fork-lift truck, throwing a box to someone in a bear suit, and walking along parcels. Apparently this fictional parody was an affront to occupational health and safety standards and must not be seen by the public.

Not every Nanny went to a branch of government. A group behind a website called No Gender December called for an end to gender stereotypes and "gendered" presents at Christmas. The website is full of excruciatingly earnest judgemental jargon such: "Gendered marketing informs children's feeling about whether it's socially acceptable to show interest in a toy. Some take the 'knowledge' into the playground, where they quickly chastise any child who demonstrates an interest in the 'wrong' colour or toy for their gender."

This presumptive, patronising, poorly-written sanctimony, wrapped in the hopelessly dated, lazy, inarticulate "inverted commas" of academic irony, may be a highly marginal ideological lobby group but it deserved a Nanny based on the its presumption alone.

No Gender December is, no surprise, supported by the Greens, the champions of the nanny state, funded by you, for your own good.

As Helen Andrews of the CIS said, in announcing the 2014 Nannies, "The Nannies will highlight the year's most abysmal examples of trying to prevent, shield and badger us in the clear assumption that we are unable to, or should not be allowed to, make our own choices."

Hopefully, the Nannies will become a December tradition. Australia is a nation of nearly 16 million adults yet we allow our governments to treat us as if we are 23 million teenagers.


Time to wake up to the Muslim menace

1. They haven't woken up yet. Certainly not in Australia. Even after the deadly terrorist attack at a cafe in Sydney, parts of the institutionalized Australian media are still trying to delude their audience, maintaining that it was a "lone-wolf" who perpetrated the horrific assault. The Australian prime minister "took comfort" in the knowledge that the assailant had a history of mental illness.

A European court decided this week that Hamas is not a terrorist organization -- it is a charity group with some "lone-wolf" members. The West's basic instincts have become dull, after decades of suppressing its own survival mechanism by self-imposing a stern "politically correct" regime. Most of the leading figures in the West (and in Israel) are more concerned with how they are perceived by the community, and that they say the "correct" words that they are allowed to say, than they are with actually confronting the truth.

Who is responsible for most of the terrorist acts around the world today? Mother Theresa? What percentage of Muslims support militant Islamist organizations? These are not "lone-wolves" -- this is a serious phenomenon with grave implications on the free world. It is something that needs to be confronted, rather than ganging up on anyone who points it out.

In February 2007, Professor Raphael Israeli -- an international expert on Islam and professor at Hebrew University -- was interviewed by an Australian newspaper. In the interview, Israeli warned that the Muslim minority living in the continent posed a real threat to the Australians. His studies suggest that life can become unbearable when the Muslim population of a Western country reaches critical mass (in one study he even attached a number to this idea of critical mass: 10 percent of the general population). It is a rule of thumb, he said, and if it applies everywhere, it certainly applies in Australia.

As an example, he cited the riots in Paris in 2006. Israeli suggested that the Australians ban the entry of Muslim radicals and adopt a preventative approach to avoid flooding the continent with immigrants from Indonesia. Muslim immigrants, he argued, have a reputation of taking advantage of Western tolerance and hospitality to advance their own ends. Trains in London and in Madrid were not blown up by Christians or Buddhists. They were blown up by Muslims. Precautions must be taken, he warned.

Not too far from Australia, in Bali, Islamist organizations perpetrated two horrifying terrorist attacks in 2002 and in 2005. Bali bomber Amrozi bin Nurhasin, who was charged with causing the deaths of more than 200 people, stood up in court in front of the global media and cried out "Jews! Remember Khaibar. The army of Muhammad is coming back to defeat you." Not one of the 200 victims was Jewish. The Australians watched, read the warnings, and went back to what they were doing.

When Israeli was interviewed, the Bali attacks were still fresh, but the regime political correctness made sure to take the string out. Israeli became the target of a Bolshevik-style witch hunt. He was accused of racism, xenophobia, and was called a plethora of derogatory names. He received death threats. In response, the Middle East expert told the Australians to wait and see what happens. This week, one would hope that the Australians recalled Israeli's cautionary words. Maybe some of them wondered why they didn't heed his warning. Maybe.

2. On Monday, radio personality Tali Lipkin-Shahak interviewed Professor Israeli. It wasn't the interview that was notable, but the style in which it was conducted -- a style shared particularly by many Israeli journalists, and Western journalists in general. "You were ahead of your time," she said to him. Israeli replied that he had been investigating the Muslim "diaspora" in Western countries for over a decade, and that in that time the Muslim population has grown to alarming proportions.

"But why do you attribute violent intentions to the immigration process?" the interviewer asked him. "Joseph also immigrated to Egypt," she remarked, evoking the Book of Genesis.

True, the professor answered, remarking that he had written five books on the subject, "but Joseph's family had not proclaimed that it planned to conquer Egypt or to convert Egypt to become Israelite."

"The Muslims explicitly say that they did not come to Europe in order to become European, but to Islamize Europe." They have vowed that a Muslim flag will wave over 10 Downing Street in England and over Versailles Palace in France within 25 years, he explained.

Lipkin-Shahak then said that "one can always [always!] talk about those people in terms of a negligible, extremist minority, including the terrorist attackers." Even ISIS, she said, "has no more than several thousand members."

Israeli insisted that these atrocities are nothing new. In the past, Muslims who immigrated to Australia, Scandinavia and Germany, as well as other places, have perpetrated very serious attacks.

The overly concerned interviewers rushed to protect the ears of her tender listeners, saying "I have to be the one to tone things down, or at least present the opposing view," she said. "What you are saying, it is very serious. You are vilifying an entire population; you are contributing to the process of hatred and counter-hatred, which only causes harm and intensifies the violence."

Israeli was not surprised. "That is exactly what they told me in Australia, until they became the victims of a catastrophe…This is my job. Anyone who wants to listen can listen. Anyone who doesn't, they can wait for the next catastrophe."

Lipkin-Shahak stuck to her guns: "We listened, but we voiced a skeptical opinion. We disagree."

"What are you basing your opinion on?" Israeli wondered in desperation. "I am basing my opinion on thirty years of research, studying Islam, and you are basing yours on a trend, on the fact that it is not nice to say these things. We are talking on two completely different planes."

Indeed, two completely different worlds. Facts vs. beliefs. Reality vs. fantasy. Make love not war; imagine there's no countries, and no religion too. A very special kind of liberal fundamentalism. The moment the truth comes knocking, they retreat into their politically correct shells and refuse to recognize the facts. There is no such thing as Muslim terrorism. The terrorists come from outer space. Islam is a religion of peace and we mustn't link it to all these terrible acts perpetrated in its name. Sadly, the people who think this way -- the politically correct -- have the microphone. The researcher with the facts is only a momentary guest.

3. The politically correct mechanism that launders the language that we use makes it very hard to express doubt in these John Lennon-esque fantasies, like the Oslo Accords for example. It may be hard to believe, but the principles of the Oslo Accords are still being marketed, under new names, to this day. Case in point: The recent empty declarations made by newfound partners Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog regarding their ability to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For our own good, we need to examine the remarks made by the late Arab-Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein, who, in 1979, murdered Boaz Lahav of Tiberias and David Lankri of Beit Shean and seriously wounded five others when he detonated an explosive device inside a trash can on a busy Tiberias street.

In July, 2006, Abu Ein told Al-Alam Iranian television that "the Oslo Accords are not the dream of the Palestinian people. However, there would never have been resistance in Palestine without Oslo. Oslo is the effective and potent greenhouse whish embraced the Palestinian resistance."

"Without Oslo, there would never have been resistance. In all the occupied territories, we could not move a single pistol from place to place. Without Oslo, and being armed through Oslo, and without the Palestinian Authority's A areas, without the training, the camps, the protection afforded by Oslo, and without the freeing of thousands of Palestinian prisoners through Oslo -- this Palestinian resistance and we would not have been able to create this great Palestinian Intifada."

Isn't it time to wake up?


The Greens: Australia's party of "social justice"

If it really were justice, it would not need the adjective "social"

No sooner had he won the Greens first seat in the House of Representatives, than Adam Bandt -- now Deputy Leader of the Greens -- was explaining to ABC radio that "social justice concerns have our DNA since the Greens started". Social justice is a nebulous policy term. Everyone supports social justice because no one would consciously promote social injustice. But what does social justice mean to the Greens?

Apparently social justice involves increasing taxpayer funded Paid Parental Leave (PPL) payments from $11,539 to 26 weeks of parent's replacement wages. Social justice requires taxpayers to fork out $50,000 to parents earning above $100,000, in addition to any PPL workplace entitlements they might have, while those earning less than the (full-time) minimum wage get $16,667. Stay-at-home parents get nothing.

This is an interesting policy position for a party that purports to believe "...the social problems we have today...could be dramatically improved if we focus on eliminating extreme inequality in Australia...". It would seem using taxpayer's money to entrench certain types of inequality is ok provided it benefits your professional inner-city constituency.


22 December, 2014

Leftist tripe about the Martin Place siege

Piers Akerman

THE white heat of immediate peril often brings out the best — and worst — in humanity. This week we saw the worst when Islamist fanatic Man Haron Monis executed an act of barbarism straight out of the terrorist textbook.

The stories of heroism now emerging as the surviving hostages tell what took place during their hours of cruel captivity are a testament to the best the human race can offer, as are the courageous actions of the NSW police who were detailed to the Martin Place siege.

Over the next six weeks a joint federal-state inquiry will attempt to answer the questions that have been at the forefront of most thoughtful minds since the siege began Monday morning.

First, how did Monis come to Australia around 1996 and what argument did he present to win asylum, permanent residency and eventually Australian citizenship around 2001?

Which government agencies provided him with social support, what information was held by state and commonwealth agencies about him, what was his interaction with the justice system, and how did he access firearms?

Could national security laws have been used and was there co-ordination between federal and state security organisations?

Parallel investigations are being held by the NSW State Coroner, NSW Police and Australian Federal Police.

There cannot be any questions left hanging when the joint review is completed by the end of January and handed to the federal and NSW cabinets.

What is obvious is that Monis was a homicidal nutjob. It is most probable that his lunacy was a factor in granting him asylum here, just as so many other damaged people fleeing the Middle Eastern are found to need sanctuary.

Unfortunately, Monis’s mania played straight into the hands of the latest Islamist terrorist cancer, Islamic State, which actively recruits the lunatic fringe through its polished websites.

It is wrong to categorise him as a lone wolf as there are a disproportionate number of other Australian Muslims who have flocked to the IS banner or who support the medieval notion of a caliphate, an Islamic theocracy.

Contrary to the ideology overwhelmingly expressed by the bulk of “our” ABC’s commentators and the majority of editorial opinionistas at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the Greens and the left of the ALP, Australia should not be a global grease trap for cultures or individuals who practise religions which teach hate, practise intolerance, subjugate women and reject secular democratic values.

Those media organisations have since Monday mindlessly presented Australian Muslims as a homogenous community united in their victimhood.

Sydney psychiatrist and writer Tanveer Ahmed accurately nailed Islamism for The Australian when he described it as “fundamentally an ideology of resentful humiliation, unable to accept the reality of the weak place of Islamic civilisation and determined to act destructively, often self-destructively, believing domination is the birthright of the doctrine.”

Wall Street Journal commentator James Taranto noted that the SMH displayed a sickening syndrome labelled pathological altruism by US scholar Barbara Oakley. The paper rushed, as it does, to suspect the public of the worst traits. In this instance its editorial warned there would be a “temptation … to pursue vigilante justice” and then got preachy with its readers, asking them to think of the homicidal maniac.

“Perhaps we face an even more difficult test of our empathy as well. How should we feel for the perpetrator so far witnessed and his family? While we do not know his story or his motivation, we know he was once someone just like those people whose lives he has now treated with such disdain. He must have loved ones, too. Forgiving him will be very difficult, and it will take time. Without forgiveness, though, we have to live with destructive hate.”

Spare me. It later produced an extraordinarily boring 16-page wraparound in which the “I"-word which was at the core of the terrorist act barely rated a mention.

It also gave writer John Birmingham a platform to disseminate his toxic thought that the electronic rolling coverage of the siege was just a “never ending shit show”, demonstrating that, at that newspaper just as at the ABC, the title editor or editor-in-chief may be held by someone certainly but not by anyone with any discretion.

The eagerness of the ABC to project its “luvvie” mentality has inspired the truly pathetic social media hashtag sentimentality of the adolescent illiterati.

The true-blue Australian spirit, long disparaged as redneck and racist by the sanctimonious, can be seen at Martin Place where a seemingly never-ending queue of people of every race and creed patiently wait to leave flowers, messages and prayers at the impromptu memorial.


Monis proves Australia needs to sort out its immigration mistakes

Now for the cover-up. Australians are entitled to know, but are highly unlikely to be told, who were the lawyers and officials who advocated that Man Haron Monis be allowed to live in Australia, and then granted citizenship, despite red flag after red flag that he was trouble.

Magistrates, lawyers and police prosecutors collectively decided that Monis, with a long history of harassing behaviour, with links to the brutal murder of his former wife, with charges for sexual assaults of multiple women, with a history of extreme political views, with convictions for writing threatening letters, and with an open record of support for jihad, was deemed no threat to society.

Right at the start, in 1996, when Monis claimed political asylum, the Iranian authorities made it clear that he had been charged with multiple counts of theft that had nothing to do with either political persecution or capital crimes. The Iranian foreign ministry reiterated this week that his psychological instability and criminal charges were known to Australian officials when they granted him asylum status.

Within months, Monis had chained himself to the front gate of state Parliament in Macquarie Street in a political protest. He was later given citizenship.

Monis is a classic case study of why Australia needs to have probationary conditions applied to the residence status and then citizenship granted to immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. To cover for mistakes, this probationary status needs to be rigorous and lengthy.

Australians take security seriously, starting with border integrity. The moral vanity of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, in giving a green light to people smugglers, was a key reason the public handed him a smashing defeat when he was voted out of power last year.

The instability through the Muslim world is growing worse. Thousands of Muslims are killing thousands of Muslims, leaving millions of Muslims displaced. The murder of more than 100 school children in Pakistan on Tuesday is the latest numbing instalment of the butchery being carried out in the name of Islam in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Chad and Kenya. Egypt is under martial law. Iran is a theocracy. Numerous outbreaks of jihad-inspired violence have taken place in Western Europe, Russia, Canada, the United States and Australia.

With instability growing in the Muslim world, the tacit policy of open borders, advocated by the Greens and the churches, would have seen the 50,000 people who bypassed Australian immigration under Labor grow exponentially. Noone in the Greens or the churches offers structures setting limits, not 100,000 undocumented arrivals, or 200,000, or 500,000. Only compassion without limits. This has been sensibly and emphatically rejected by the electorate.

No limits were placed on Man Haron Monis. The District Court gave him a slap after he was convicted of writing dozens of harassing letters to the families of dead soldiers. He and his wife, Amirah Droudis, were provided with tens of thousands of dollars in legal aid as they pursued vexatious appeals all the way to the High Court. He was free on bail with multiple charges pending against him.

Less than three months ago, Abdul Numan Haider, 18, was shot and killed after he stabbed and seriously wounded a police officer in Melbourne. His crime, like that of Monis, was explicitly in support of Islamic State. The headband worn by Monis when he took hostages bore the inscription, in Arabic: "We are ready to sacrifice for you, O Mohammad."

He was responding to the call from Islamic State for Muslims to engage in individual acts of violence against non-believers. This call has not succeeded because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject the rantings of Islamic State and are appalled by the actions taken in the name of Islam by people like Monis.

Australians understand this. But everyone also knows that thousands of Muslims have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the barbarous IS.

A dissident former army major, Bernie Gaynor Jnr, says that more Australian Muslims have gone to fight with IS than have enlisted in the Australian Army this year. His claim has not been disputed by the Army.


Crooks & Corruption Rule: What is it with the Wind Industry?

The wind industry seems to attract a particular class of bloke, in much the same way that the Prohibition era drew lots of heavy-set Italians to the Mob.

Maybe that seemingly endless stream of massive subsidies filched from taxpayers and power consumers generates the same allure as festering dung does for swarms of flies?

Whatever it is, the whiff that surrounds the wind industry has attracted (and continues to attract) a class that has no hesitation lying, cheating, stealing and even bonking their way to the easy loot on offer.

The Italian Mob were in on the wind power fraud from the get-go: applying their considerable (and perfectly applicable) skills – leading the European wind power fraud, with what economists call “first-mover-advantage” (see our post here).

We’ve reported on just how rotten the wind industry is – from top to bottom – and whether it’s bribery and fraud; vote rigging scandals; tax fraud; investor fraud or REC fraud – wind weasels set a uniform standard that would make most businessman blush.

The crooks involved – and the corruption, lies thuggery and deceit that follow them – are uniform across the globe.

Wind power outfits in Taiwan – faced with a pesky community backlash – sent the muscle in and beat the protesters to a bloody pulp (see our posts here and here).

The Thais aren’t much better.

In Australia, Thai outfit RATCH has been lying to, bullying and threatening communities far and wide for years (see our posts here and here and here).

In previous posts we’ve looked at how the goons that work for RATCH didn’t hesitate to invent a character – Frank Bestic – in a half-cunning attempt to infiltrate their opponents at Collector and elsewhere – see our posts here and here and here.

RATCH also teamed up with one of Queensland’s “white-shoe-brigade“, John Morris – in a joint plan to destroy the Atherton Tablelands by spearing 60 odd turbines into a patch of pristine wilderness on top of Mt Emerald – a move, quite rightly, opposed by 92% of locals (see our post here).

Morris – a five-star resort owner who has generously wined, dined and otherwise accommodated his mate, LNP pollie, David Kempton (who holds a rabid interest in the project getting approved, despite the fact that his own electorate is miles away) – has pulled out all stops to smooth the way to development approval (see our post here).

Faced with the inevitable community backlash to yet another pointless economic, environmental and public health disaster, the Queensland Planning Minister, Jeff Seeney has called “time-out”; declining to approve the project, as demanded by RATCH and Morris.

Morris – facing the uncharacteristic prospect of defeat – has turned to bullying and threatening the Planning Minister to ensure a speedy decision in his and RATCH’s favour: demanding that the Planning Minister make a decision no later than tomorrow (ie 19 December 2014) (see this article).

RATCH and Morris have shown all the care and restraint we’ve come to expect from the wind industry and its parasites: an “industry” that has absolutely no interest in producing meaningful power or “saving” the planet. Take away the promise of $50 billion in subsidies from the REC Tax on power consumers (see our post here) and this lot would will disappear in a heartbeat (see our post here).

RATCH shares its Thai roots with another Thai wind power outfit that owes its existence to the Thai Military Junta – “Wind Energy Holdings”.

Wind Energy Holdings has hit the news recently, as its hitherto-hot-shot head, Nopporn Suppipat has been caught with his fingers in the till. Having been caught – he’s acted with all the honour we’ve come to expect from wind weasels, wherever they ply their trade: he’s bolted!


Phonics anyone?

Changing entrenched attitudes in education is like trying to turn an ocean liner -- the momentum has to be maintained for a long time. Such is the case with reading instruction, where it has taken decades to see real recognition of the need for teachers to be trained in proven, effective methods.

While there have been glimmers of hope in the past -- the 2005 National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, for example -- this year there were strong signs the ship is finally turning. Increasing numbers of schools are adopting explicit teaching methods.

The NSW government announced it will only accredit teaching degrees that include evidence-based methods of reading instruction. The national curriculum review and the federal government endorsed an emphasis on explicit, effective teaching methods. New executives of the board of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) are evidence-driven reformers. The potential for significant reform in 2015 is great


21 December, 2014

Finding: Gillard's ex-boyfriend should face corruption charges

Bruce Wilson, ex-boyfriend of former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, should face corruption charges, according to the Royal Commission into Trade Union corruption.

The first report into the year-long inquiry report was released on Friday, recommending prosecutors charge former union official Bruce Wilson and also Ralph Blewitt but also suggests some information can never be made public because it would place people in danger.

During the hearings, Mr Wilson, a former union official had denied ever giving Ms Gillard 'wads' of cash and accused fellow witnesses of lying.

Mr Blewitt and Mr Wilson have been referred to Victorian and West Australian prosecutors by the royal commission.

It says that prosecutors should consider charging both for obtaining financial advantage by deception and conspiracy over an infamous Australian Workers Union slush fund.

They are among a range of union officials the royal commission has concluded could be charged. 239 witnesses gave evidence across eight months.

At the centre of the controversy were claims that Mr Wilson paid for renovations to Ms Gillard's house, when the two were in a romantic relationship in the early 1990s.

It also recommends the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions consider criminal charges against a range of CFMEU officials, in relation to various acts of intimidation and coercion.

Also listed are recommendations that ASIC consider charges against the Queensland state secretary of the CFMEU for breaches of the Corporations Act.

It says the Commonwealth DPP should also consider criminal charges against a range of Health Services Union officials for making false statements contrary to the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

And it further recommends the Victorian secretary and assistant secretary of the CFMEU be considered by the Victorian DPP for prosecution for blackmail.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz released two volumes of the interim report at Parliament House in Canberra.  A third volume dealing with serious criminal matters is confidential and won't be publicly released because 'disturbingly' it poses risks to the safety of certain individuals.

'The conduct which is part and parcel of the third and confidential report reveals grave threats to the power and authority of the Australian state,' he said.

The report also identifies several areas of concern about union election slush funds - namely their 'secretive' operations, deficient or non-existent record-keeping, and that contributions to them may not be voluntary.

Other concerns were that candidates often pleaded ignorance on funding sources, expenditure and debts incurred and that slush funds disproportionately advantaged incumbents.

'There is a culture of wilful defiance of the law that appears to lie at the core of the CFMEU,' the report found.

Senator Abetz said that proved the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) must be restored. No objective reader of the report could doubt the urgent need to strengthen governance through the establishment of a Registered Organisations Commission (ROC), Senator Abetz claimed.

Legislation to set up the ABCC and ROC has been stymied by parliament.

'I would have thought that anybody that is committed to the trade union movement would want to see a clean trade union movement - one where there is not criminality, where there is not thuggery, where there is not funny money dealings going on,' Senator Abetz added.


Dhimmitude in High Places in Australia

There are several ways an enemy can be successful. One is to launch an all out assault. Another is to get the other side to simply capitulate and surrender. A third is a combination of the two. We see all of these being utilised by Islam in its war against the West.

It is obviously doing plenty of direct attacks, through missiles or suicide bombers or various other forms of bloody jihad. But equally concerning is how many Western leaders are falling over each other as they attempt to placate, appease, and mollycoddle up to Islam.

All over the West we see various elites, leaders and politicians bending over backwards to ingratiate themselves to Islam, often while denigrating and slamming their own Christian heritage. In the US Obama has of course turned all this into an art form.

As I have documented time and time again, there is absolutely no question that Obama is the most pro-Islam and most anti-Christian POTUS ever.

But consider the latest case of him grovelling to his Islamic buddies. Just a few days ago he released this official statement:

As Muslims throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to them and their families. This last month has been a time of fasting, reflection, spiritual renewal, and service to the less fortunate. While Eid marks the completion of Ramadan, it also celebrates the common values that unite us in our humanity and reinforces the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other, especially those impacted by poverty, conflict, and disease.

In the United States, Eid also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy. That is why we stand with people of all faiths, here at home and around the world, to protect and advance their rights to prosper, and we welcome their commitment to giving back to their communities.
On behalf of the Administration, we wish Muslims in the United States and around the world a blessed and joyous celebration. Eid Mubarak.

What!? Common values? Achievements and contributions? Blessed celebration? Only a fool or a dhimmi could come up with those appalling remarks. Umm, no, we do not share common values at all. One side values freedom, democracy, pluralism, and freedom of religion, while the other side does not.

One side respects the role of women, of conscience, of the rule of law, and of properly understood separation of church and state, while the other side does not. One may as well have made similar statements during WWII, praising the Nazis for holding similar values and beliefs.

As one commentator said:

"Since he’s taken office, Obama has made it a tradition to annually celebrate Ramadan at the White House and has increased the focus on the Muslim faith, while downplaying the Christian faith. For a man that claims he is a Christian, why would he go out of his way to celebrate another religion’s main holy day?
In May of 2012, Obama’s pastor of over 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, stated that Obama was raised as a Muslim and “knew very little about Christianity.” He went on to say that he “made it easy for him to not feel guilty about learning about Christianity without turning his back on his Islamic friends.”

We’re all used to the continual pandering and glorification of Islam by this man. But to actually say that Muslims have built the fabric of our nation is absolutely preposterous.

Quite right. But Obama is not alone in this grotesque appeasement and capitulation to our enemies. Closer to home we have rather similar displays of dhimmitude and utter cluelessness about the reality of Islam, also made by our leaders, some of whom also claim to be Christians.

Consider the bizarre kowtowing of NSW Premier Mike Baird. Here is how one newspaper reports on his complete surrender to Islam:

NSW Premier Mike Baird has fasted to mark the end of Ramadan, and has told the state’s Muslims they have a strong friend in government after controversial comments by Community Relations Commission chairman Vic Alhadeff.

Speaking at the annual Iftar dinner to mark the end of the Islamic fasting period, Mr Baird, a Christian, received a loud applause when he said he used the experience of a day’s fast to reflect.
‘You think … of everything we take for granted,’ he said on Thursday night. ‘Multiculturalism is alive and well in NSW. It is something of which we’re very proud.

‘And as I reflect on Ramadan, it just is a reminder of the need to protect that, to ensure we do everything we can to protect it.’
The Muslim community had a strong friend in government, Mr Baird told the gathering of community leaders in the Strangers Dining Hall at state parliament. ‘I truly believe everyone who has come here tonight is a friend,’ he said.

This guy obviously does not know a thing about Islam. He clearly does not know much about the Christianity he claims to represent. And he certainly knows nothing at all about what Ramadan actually is all about. How in the world can we celebrate a political and religious event which is known for implementing violent jihad?

Baird is completely clueless here. If he ever actually wanted to know what Ramadan in fact signifies, I would invite him to read here:

As to the Alhadeff issue, Baird is also to be condemned for saying his resignation was the right thing to do. What was his crime? All that Community Relations Commission chairman Vic Alhadeff did was to say that Israel had a right to defend itself, and that it was seeking to operate with “care to avoid civilian casualties”.

That is all one hundred per cent correct. So why in the world should he have been forced to resign over that? Evidently multiculturalism in NSW only goes so far. Jews are not welcome it seems, but Muslims will be embraced with open arms and bowed down to in total subservience.

I prefer what one commentator said about all this. His headline is spot on: “After throwing the Jew under the bus, NSW premier Mike Baird promises Eidolaters in Lakemba to be a good serf.” He went on to say, “All things considered, I find Premier Maike Baird’s brown nosing offensive and repugnant. You don’t go schmoozing with the enemy when our people are being murdered all over the world, in the name of Islam.”

Sadly, Baird thinks such appeasement and dhimmitude is the way to go, just like Obama in the US. And plenty of other examples of such craven dhimmitude on the part of Western leaders and politicians could be offered here.

As I said, an enemy can win in various ways. Letting the other side self-destruct in appeasement and surrender right before your very eyes is certainly one good way to succeed


Online appeal calls for boycott of stores which 'objectify women' in adverts and products

Online campaigners Collective Shout has released their annual 'Cross 'em off your list' candidates, revealing the retailers they claim objectified women and used sexual exploitation to sell products throughout the past year.

The grassroots campaign movement is calling for shoppers to boycott the stores when purchasing gifts for Christmas, sending a clear message to the companies they allege used marketing which glorifies violence against women, rape, and pornography.

The list includes retail giants Myer, Bonds, Ultra Tune, General Pants Co, American Apparel, Schick, and Priceline, some of whom Collective Shout spokesperson Melinda Liszewski said are repeat offenders.

'Many companies are more than wiling to engage in dialogue about how they are being ethical towards the environment, but seem disinterested in talking about how they are contributing to a toxic cultural environment,' Ms Liszewski told Daily Mail Australia. 

'What we’re wanting to do is shine a spotlight on things that might seem fairly benign, so that people will begin to discuss what it is that they are really buying,' she said.

'Collective Shout has a role in bringing forward the public impact of these campaigns on women and girls, to make people more conscious and to motivate people to speak out and challenge the marketing practices of companies who exploit women for their own profits.'

One of the companies Collective Shout has identified is 'repeat offender' Cafe Press, who came under fire earlier in the year for selling baby clothes with pornographic content and merchandise which activists say promote rape.

The online retailer, which specialises in user-customised products and gifts, had items for sale on their website printed with the slogans, 'You Smell Like Porn,' 'F**k me like a porn star,' 'Awesome butt sex,' and 'Retired XXL porn star,' among many other similar products.

132 items were available in a category labelled 'Adult Sex XXX Porn Baby Clothing', including baby and toddler onesies, shirts, bibs, and blankets.

City Beach was also selling belts with explicit images printed on them.  The site has also been accused of promoting rape culture and trivialising sexual assault, by selling a shirt with the slogan, 'No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal'.

'Café Press has a long history of this kind of behaviour. Many designs are porn inspired, and despite persistent communication the company has continued on with same behaviour,' said Ms Liszewski.

A spokesperson for Cafe Press released a statement which said that the company was an automated design community, and that the user-designed products varied in topic, taste and opinion.

'At times, users may upload designs that others find distasteful or offensive. It has been recently brought to our attention certain content on our site that may be considered offensive,' the statement said.

'We have taken action to extensively remove the offensive content and will to continue to review for other designs that do not meet our content usage policy.'

Recently added to the list is retailer Big W, which Collective Shout has condemned for continuing to sell the controversial Grand Theft Auto V, which depicts women being brutally murdered as part of the game.


The bums of Afghanistan

One would think displaced Afghans re-settled in Australia by successive Labor and Liberal governments would be eternally grateful to the Australian people and nation for accepting them, giving them an opportunity to start a new life in a peaceful and tolerant nation. Instead, this kindness and generosity is being repaid with acts of violent anti-social behaviour usually emanating from dysfunctional Muslim males.

Western Sydney with its high concentration of Muslims has created a volatile, dangerous and segregated place with all the unsavoury trappings of a third world ghetto. Most of Australia’s Muslim population has settled in Western Sydney with many of them languishing on welfare or disability payments with limited skills in a declining job market. It is hard to see any real net benefits accommodating people who contribute very little to our economic, social or cultural wellbeing or development.

On the social and cultural side, many of the children of Afghan refugees struggle with an identity crisis as they are taught to shun Australian cultural norms and principles by their parents, religious and community leaders. The appeasing mainstream media and federal government are in constant denial, living in la-la land pushing a recycled victim’s narrative that Australians do not believe. No doubt the weight of a tribal Islamic culture has been transferred to the streets of Western Sydney with almost daily news reports of gang violence, bashings, stabbings, shootings and increasing incidents of sexual assault and rape.

Most of these dysfunctional youth in Western Sydney are either Australian born Muslims or Muslim teenagers from refugee or asylum seeker parents. Many of their parents are publicly complaining that their children are vulnerable to radical Islamic teachings with many wanting to join different Sunni or Shia factions in the warring Middle East to prove their misguided newly found manhood. The negative influence on these young ‘sons of Afghanistan’ should be laid squarely at the teachings of the Koran and also their parents for encouraging their children to isolate themselves in Muslim communities and mistreat others with total disdain and disrespect.

The ‘sons of Afghanistan’ should be renamed the ‘bums of Afghanistan’ due to their dangerous and dishonest behaviour mimicking the violent archaic tribal cultures of their Islamic homeland. Many gang members of various Afghan groups refer to themselves as “soldiers” and take pride in glorifying violence, with many of the gang members carrying weapons and pictures of AK-47 rifles set against the Afghan flag.

The ‘sons of Afghanistan’ is another addition to the fabulous Muslim gang culture that encourages its young male members to embrace extreme violence. The ‘Fourtwozero (420)’ gang boast of being Hezbollah soldiers from mainly the Afghan Hazara community. According to media reports, there are more than 10,000 Hazaras living in Western Sydney.

Last week, Sydney newspapers and media outlets were abuzz with yet another party gatecrashed resulting in a young male stabbed. A party in a Merrylands hall was gatecrashed by a large crowd of Muslim males from the ‘420’ gang looking for a fight. The fight spilled over into a nearby oval in Merrylands involving 50 to 60 Muslim gang members, which resulted in one male being stabbed. Police said the victim would have died had Police not managed to fight through a sea of drunken, violent teenage gang members to render first aid.

The ‘bums of Afghanistan’ representing different gangs and factions are notorious for posting graphic images on social media, especially Facebook. The images usually display young and cranky looking males with large swords drawn across their necks in gestures reminiscent of recent events in the Middle East.

One mindless Muslim community leader said, “They are copying other groups like the bikies”. Furthermore he said, “For all the community it’s a very, very big warning. These people don’t practice Islamic norms. They are just street boys”. Oh really? Muslims have continually shown they are incapable of accepting the truth about their violent and demonic ideology and instead prefer to play the victim’s narrative or use lies to justify the violence. Violence and terror are part and parcel of the failed, criminal Islamic ideology.

Street boys of all backgrounds exist in lower socio-economic suburbs of Australia’s big cities but none equal the barbarity or glorification of intimidation, violence, rape and criminal behaviour of Muslim street gangs. The growing menace of Islamic street gangs is yet another shining example of Labor and Liberal’s failed multicultural policy.


19 December, 2014

Eight black children have been stabbed to death in Far North Queensland

Melanesians are notoriously aggressive towards one-another

Police in Cairns have closed a section of a street while homicide detectives and emergency services attend to the scene.

Officers said they had attended the address after they received reports a 34-year-old woman had serious injuries.

Police say the 34-year-old woman currently in hospital with suspected stab wounds is not in custody and have indicated she is not a suspect in the death of eight children at a Cairns property.

The 34-year-old’s cousin told AAP at the scene the children were all siblings.  The woman was their mother, she said.

She said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, arrived home to find his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.  He is now being comforted by other family members.  “I’m going to see him now, he needs comforting,” the woman told AAP.

She described the family and extended relatives as close-knit. “We’re a big family and most of us are from the (Torres) Strait,” she said.



In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amused at the North Korean attack on a Hollywood firm

Abbott Government needs a new course of action to win next election

DESPITE signing off on a series of significant policy triumphs, the Coalition hasn’t finished the year with a tick from the public in the opinion polls.

The reaction from some members of the government has followed a traditional path – blame the leadership. But it’s not Prime Minister Tony Abbott who has been the subject of the hushed water cooler conversations, it is his chief-of-staff Peta Credlin, the striking woman who cemented her place in the Liberal leadership office under Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull.

Targeting the chief-of-staff rather than the leader is also traditional. It would take a critical level of distress for MPs to brief against the Prime Minister.

Abbott faltered in his defence of Credlin on Friday when he moved into the gender mire exploited by former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard. “Do you really think that my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was P-E-T-E-R as opposed to P-E-T-A?” he told ABC television. “I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms.”

He said if people had a problem with his office they should bring the complaints to him. “This is the same office which ran a very effective opposition, it’s the same office which has got an enormous amount done this year sometimes under very difficult circumstances.”

All true. However, Credlin didn’t get her job because she’s a woman, far from it, and if and when she leaves it will have nothing to do with sexism.

Credlin’s gender is only an issue with feminists unhappy that her very presence in the prime ministerial (and previously Opposition leader’s) office undermined Gillard’s malicious claim that Abbott was a misogynist.

What the government is discovering is that being in government is markedly different from being in opposition and requires very different skill sets.

That being said, what is the actual criticism of Credlin? It is widely remarked that she is too controlling and that she went too far in vetting senior ministerial staff and over-stepped the mark when she demanded that some experienced veterans move to Canberra if they wished to remain in ranking roles in the Abbott government.

There is no doubt that the Coalition lost some very good people who did not wish to uproot their families to satisfy that demand, particularly those with spouses who could not meet that demand.

There is little point in comparing the operation of Abbott’s office to the manner in which either of his immediate predecessors’ affairs were handled. Both Gillard and Rudd let adolescents run the shop and it showed.

Then again, neither Gillard nor Rudd had as much parliamentary experience as Abbott when they took office nor did they have the benefit of working with a master like former Coalition prime minister John Howard.

Howard had three chiefs-of-staff during his nearly 12 years in office, none of them became media figures in their own right. They were Grahame Morris, Arthur Sinodinos and Tony Nutt.

Howard had a very rough first year. He set a very high standard for ministerial conduct which saw seven ministers resign in his government’s first 18 months in office.

Abbott’s poor polling can be put down to a number of different causes but the major weakness is its failure to sell its core message. It has failed to hammer home the message that Labor so badly mishandled the national wealth it plunged into ongoing debt that will affect future generations. Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen should be laughed out of court whenever he appears and criticises the government for its handling of the debt – it’s his debt, Labor’s debt that the government is trying to fix.

As Abbott has said he relies heavily on Credlin, he must ask himself whether her advice has been helpful or has it been ignored? Why has the government so spectacularly failed to meet public expectations? Has too much energy in the prime minister’s office gone into micro-managing and centralising of control, as the internal critics claim, at the expense of reminding the public of the simple and understandable narrative that the government used to win office?

There is either a lack of strategy or the government’s tactics need overhauling as the polls would indicate that they seem to have been ineffectual.

That communications from the Abbott government need overhauling – the lack of consultation with (even conservative) premiers about budgetary measures which dramatically affected their states – is self-evident.

It seems to have been caught flat-footed by the election of the PUPs and Independent senators.

Abbott has some breathing space over Christmas to consider why his government has not got its message through and decide a course of action.

Leaders are often forced to choose between what is best for their organisations and their loyalty to those who they believe have served them well but whose skills no longer match changing operational needs.

Abbott’s goal must be to win the next election and realise his nation-saving policies.


Need a budget 'narrative' - this is it

Forget insider words like 'message' and 'spin' and avert your eyes from the Senate railway wreckage. If the Abbott government wants to reset the budget debate here's what it should do.

The first step is to acknowledge past mistakes. In opposition, the Coalition underestimated the scope of the budgetary challenge they are now facing. In government, it has remained unable to articulate what budget problem they are trying to solve. Consequently, people don't believe the harsh budget is necessary and the government can't explain how their reforms will help.

The government has tried to scare the electorate with inflated projections of government debt and it wants us to be angry at Australia's monthly interest payments. This is the wrong approach; the real issue has always been the deficit. Fix the deficit and the debt will be manageable.

Having clarified the real problems and solutions, in the lead-up to next year's budget the next step is to convince the public of three things.

*    Australia has a structural budget deficit stemming from Howard, Gillard and Rudd permanently increasing spending funded either by temporary revenue from the mining boom (Howard) or nothing (Rudd - Gillard).

*    The Commonwealth now has to find tens of billions of dollars of additional funding in the medium term for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

*    It also needs to find an additional 4% or 5% of GDP over the longer term to pay for the ageing of our population and rising health care costs.

While selling this message, the government must make crystal clear that these problems won't fix themselves - now or ever. Either spending has to be cut substantially or a huge amount of additional revenue has to be raised, and in both cases this burden will overwhelmingly fall on the middle class. Ordinary people will either get much less from government or pay much more (or both).

The final step is for government to convince itself that these hard choices are real. New spending through big (the medical research fund and massive gold-plated paid parental leave scheme) and small (marriage counselling vouchers) all must be dumped. Not renegotiated, not repackaged, not renewed - axed.

Furthermore, the government must never again produce a budget that implies increasing revenue from existing taxes will largely balance the budget. Governments have been waiting five years post the GFC for this to happen. It won't, as those tax forecasts have less substance than fairy floss; albeit being equally deftly spun.

Only once the government has done these things can it lay all the blame at the feet of intransigence in the Senate.


The obnoxious Human Rights Commission made to pull its horns in

Old bag Triggs at the head of it is a lying Leftist hack

THE federal government will carve $5 million from the Aus­tralian Human Rights Commission over the next three years in order to fund part of an extension for the child abuse royal commission, leading to job cuts and the shrinking of “key projects”.

In a letter to commission president Gillian Triggs obtained by The Australian, the Attorney-General, George Brandis, acknowledges the loss of funds will “temporarily affect the ordinary operations”.

The AHRC has singled out work with business on human rights and constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as crucial areas that will suffer.

In his letter, Mr Brandis argues that the Royal Commission into Institutional Res­ponses to Child Sexual Abuse, which he extended for two years in September, is an important tool in the fight for the human rights of children.

“I believe it is critical that institutions responsible for the care of children be able to learn from the ongoing work of the inquiry and be better able to prevent child sexual abuse from happening in the future,” he writes. “The Australian Human Rights Commission is an appropriate source from which to draw a proportion of the offsets for this measure.

“The royal commission is a critical child rights measure for our nation and is consistent with Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

The two-year extension will cost $125 million on top of $377m allocated. Mr Brandis said $1.6m would be stripped in 2015-16 and $1.7m for the two following years, to be announced in the government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

The cuts are in addition to the $1.7m saving over four years announced in the budget, achieved by reducing the number of commissioners by one. The commission is also subject to a 2.25 per cent efficiency dividend over the forward estimates.

Commonwealth funding of the agency in 2015-16, when the new cuts begin, was projected to be $16.786m. The Coalition intends to fold the Privacy Commissioner into the AHRC — with an extra $5.5m in funding specifically for the independent privacy role — but this legislation has not been passed. The Australian understands staff at the agency — about 120 — would be slashed 10 per cent.

Professor Triggs said: “These cuts will have a profound impact on the ability of the commission to carry out its role as an independent human rights org­anisation.

“The commission is a small and lean organisation and does not have the ability to absorb a cut of this magnitude. There will be job losses and impacts on our core functions such as complaint handling and advocating on ­behalf of the disadvantaged.”

The commission handled about 21,000 inquiries and complaints in the past year and raises about $6m of its own revenue, ­although this must be spent on the projects that earn the income.

The Coalition has clashed frequently with the Human Rights Commission, announcing the ­instalment of Tim Wilson — on the record calling for its abolition — as Freedom Commissioner at the end of last year and accusing Professor Triggs of stalling on its inquiry into children in detention for political purposes.

Professor Triggs admitted she did not initiate the inquiry during Labor’s term because it was too close to an election and would be “highly politicised”. The commission’s report on that matter has been handed to government, but will not be tabled until next year.

Professor Triggs wants the cuts abandoned. “Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and in a healthy democracy this must include an independent human rights organisation that is free to speak out,” she said.


Community opposition stops Islamic boy's school in Far North Queensland

AN Islamic school proposed for Mareeba will not go ahead, but developers have not ruled out establishing the $70 million project elsewhere in the Far North.

Standard Bearers Academy has confirmed it will not be submitting a proposal for its boarding school to the Mareeba Shire Council.

The school, which was to be located on 40ha at Tinaroo Creek Rd, was to be Australia’s first Standard Bearers Academy.

The facility aimed to cater for about 1200, Year 5 to Year 12 boys, from across Australia, along with a small contingent of international students.

The school was to have an Islamic focus but it was promoted as a multi-denominational campus, open to all faiths and students with no religious beliefs.

In a statement released yesterday, Standard Bearers Academy said one of the original proponents of the school was no longer involved, which had temporarily halted the project.

“The board of directors have been considering a number of location options and while recognising the beauty of Mareeba, believe that there are more suitable places for a significant project of this size,’’ he said.

“Mareeba was initially selected because of its inspiring natural surroundings and for providing an ideal location for agricultural training, sporting and equestrian activities that the school intended to provide.

“The future location is yet to be decided.”

The spokesman said the project intended to provide a substantial economic, education and community benefit to the Mareeba shire.

“An initial investment of $70 million would have been injected into the local economy by providing employment and contracts to local tradespeople.

“SBA intended to provide employment opportunities to local residents in the field of hospitality, administration, landscaping and grounds keeping, and in the field of teaching and teacher support.

“It would have also been a substantial consumer of locally produced goods and services with the expected annual economic benefit to Mareeba Shire exceeding $20 million.”

The spokesman said the directors of the school remained committed to providing a state-of-the-art boarding school for students of all faiths.

“SBA wishes to thank all members of the Mareeba community who showed their support for the proposed project,’’ he said.

Mareeba Shire Mayor Tom Gilmore said it was difficult for the council to determine its position on the school, as there was no development application.


18 December, 2014

Martin Place  Attack Not 'Lone Wolf'

Australians witnessed a terrifying hostage crisis Monday involving 17 people at the Lindt Chocolat Café in Sydney. Sadly, two hostages were killed and four were injured. The hostage taker, Man Haron Monis, was killed by Australian police officers when they raided the building. This incident should serve as a wake-up call to Australia and the rest of the world that Islamic extremism has no boundaries.

Monis was an Iranian-born Islamic extremist who, Fox News reports, “emigrated to Australia in 1996” after being granted asylum. He then became infamous “for his public campaign of writing letters to the families of fallen soldiers calling them ‘murderers’ and urging the recipients to lobby the government to withdraw from Afghanistan.” Talk about an ingrate. For that, he was charged with using the postal service for harassment, though in court he proclaimed himself a “peace activist.”

But worse, Fox adds, Monis was charged last year “in connection with the murder of his ex-wife,” and was “charged earlier this year with sexual assault” – more than 40 counts. He was free on bail at the time of the hostage taking.

Did we mention he used a firearm, which is banned in Australia?

The hostage-taking jihadist was also found to have written a letter on his own website where, Fox News also notes, he “accused Australia, Great Britain and the U.S. of ‘oppression and terrorism’ and posted images of dead children.” And for the disclaimer: He also “called for non-violent activism writing that ‘Islam is a religion of peace and a Muslim should be a peace activist.’” Is taking 17 people hostage at gunpoint being non-violent and peaceful?

His lawyer, Manny Conditsis, was quick to defend his client and distance his actions from terrorism or Islamic extremism. He stated, “This is a one-off random individual. It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act. It’s a damaged goods individual who’s done something outrageous.” Further, he laughably asserted, “His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness.” And we’re supposed to believe that?

Unfortunately, some do. CBS News' Bob Orr was quick to take the bait, saying, “This is almost the prototypical type attack that we believe lone wolves to be capable of.” Orr may believe this was just some loon acting of his accord, but even if he wasn’t specifically directed by a terrorist organization it only obscures the truth. YouTube videos showed three hostages relaying Monis' demands, as he wanted it known that this was an “attack on Australia by the Islamic State.”

Australia raised its terror level alert in September in response to threats from Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adani. In an audio message, he urged that lone-wolf attacks be carried out, including in Australia.

The Islamic State has yet to take credit for this attack, but, given the aforementioned rhetoric and the fact that the jihadist wanted an ISIL flag delivered to the cafe, it’s just a matter of time before they do.

Yet somehow, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott saw fit to declare, “The point I keep making is that the ISIL death cult has nothing to do with any religion, any real religion. … It is something to which sick individuals succumb, and sick individuals exist in all communities and in all societies.”

The Left will do everything possible to deceive people, claiming there is no connection between these attacks and Islam. They will continue to try to portray Islam as a Religion of Peace™. And they will continue to deny that these attacks are, as Mark Alexander notes, “directly tied to worldwide Jihad by way of the Qur'an, the foundational fabric linking all of Islamist violence.”

This jihadist in Australia was a radicalized cleric who, like many other such figures in America and elsewhere, preached hatred for the West. Until the world recognizes the threat of Islamic extremism for what it is, this and worse acts of violence will continue.

Purposefully refusing to identify an enemy for who they are and what they do will not make them go away. If anything, it will embolden them to carry out more heinous acts of violence.


Martin Place siege:  Just another incident of "workplace violence"?

Please don’t jump to conclusions, this Islamic incident may have no connection to Islam. It may have nothing to do with mushrooming mosques where our destruction is planned and it may have nothing to do with ISIS’s atrocities and the jihadist flag may have nothing to do with jihadists.

A report that the police were flooded with calls from Islamic clerics asking if they could talk the terrorists into not harming anyone turned out to be false.

Another report that Islamic clerics had promised to “de-radicalise” Muslims who return from Syria if only we allow them back into Australia, turned out to be accurate.

Bill Shorten and Sarah Hanson-Young have asked for more inclusiveness and counselling for Islamic youths and have called for Muslim leaders to come to Canberra for tea and bickies. “We need their help”, both explained.

A report that Lindt Cafe has apologised for telling a number of halal certifiers to get fornicated also turned out to be accurate.

Christine Milne has called for compassion and understanding while Lee Rhiannon has asked if the terrorists need any halal food supplied, “It’s a stressful period for them too”, she explained.


Why the police acted as they did in Martin Place

NSW Police were right to try to negotiate with the gunman, according to a former senior police officer familiar with counter terrorism training.

"There is a very strong history that negotiations work and time does solve problems," said the former officer, who asked not to be named.

"The intention would have been to negotiate with him, to try to influence him.  "The longer it goes, the more chance you have got, there is decades of evidence  that is the best way.

"Unfortunately, in this case the risk rose dramatically and unexpectedly."

He said police involved in the Lindt cafe siege "train, train, train" and would have had a number of contingency plans in place "shortly after" it started.

The first would have been "to do something quickly in response to a major threat".

"I would say from what I have seen (that) plan had to be activated, they have obviously decided to go because of something occurring.  "That something occurring was a shot being fired and the grave danger against the hostages."

He said if the gunman had in fact shot and killed a hostage, police had no choice but to go in.

Asked about a number of scenarios, including whether officers could have gone in though the roof to end the siege earlier, he said: "It depends on the access."

It was more likely they had a plan to enter covertly, perhaps though a fire exit or a back door.

Former NSW assistant commissioner Clive Small said going though the roof would "create a racket" and was not really an option.

"You are exposing yourself to gunfire and you're not in a position to fire back because you don't know where the hostages are."

Both Mr Small and the former officer were skeptical about theories the gunman could have been shot through the window.

Both said it appeared the gunman had shown himself early in the day, before snipers would have been in position and also before police were in possession of vital information, such as how many gunmen were in the café.

"It's a very dangerous thing to do, for a start you don't know what's going to happen to the projectile once it goes though the glass," said the former senior officer.

Asked who would have made the decision to go in, he said "the office of constable gives anyone (in the force) the power to make a decision if they feel a life is being threatened.  "More likely than not, it would have been a supervisor."

The supervisor could have been a member of the heavily armed team or could have been a short distance away communicating by radio.

Information gleaned from the escaped hostages would have also informed the thinking of police, as would the criminal history of the gunman, Man Haron Monis.

There may have also been electronic evidence via a listening device that also informed the decision.

Mr Small said he thought it was significant the gunman "had no escape route."  "It seems it was quite clear he had no plan on leaving there alive."

The former officer said the police involved were "very disciplined".  "They are as good as anyone in Australia, or the world for that matter."

Another former NSW assistant police commissioner Ken McKay, who retired last year after 35 years in the service, said it was evident the strategy had been to "wait it out" and monitor events inside through observation and negotiation.

Mr McKay, who headed the first NSW Police Middle Eastern Organised crime Squad, said: "The main aim is to get everyone out safely – and a lot of the time, that includes the offender."  But he added that when gunfire suddenly sounded inside the cafe, "that immediately changes the game." In that instance…when police are suddenly forced to go from negotiating and containing to attack…everything becomes different. With that, comes risk."


Federal government still trying to cut back on "renewable" energy target

ENVIRONMENT Minister Greg Hunt will meet rogue senator Jacqui Lambie in Hobart today as he begins courting the crossbench over the renewable energy target.

Mr Hunt is ramping up talks with the crossbench senators while Labor refuses to re-engage in negotiations. The opposition acknowledges the scheme needs bipartisan support, but has said it will not negotiate unless the government shifts on its “cut of 40 per cent to the RET”.

Senator Lambie, who will drive from Burnie to Hobart to meet Mr Hunt, said she was “encouraged” by a letter from the minister yesterday.

In the letter, obtained by The Australian, Mr Hunt says he appreciates “the pressures faced by businesses around the country, including in Tasmania” and looks “forward to constructive discussions with the opposition”.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said he was travelling to Tasmania “for a range of meetings relating to his portfolio”. The government was “hopeful” Labor would return to the table and was “willing to hear the suggestions and proposals from the crossbench and will negotiate with the crossbench should Labor refuse to re-engage”.

Senator Lambie urged the government and opposition to restart RET talks, saying renewable energy providers “deserve some certainty”.

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm, meanwhile, said he was “confident” at least six of the crossbench senators supported his controversial plan to bring existing hydro into the target. Senator Leyonhjelm, who met with Mr Hunt last week, said the minister was also “interested”. The Australian could only confirm Family First senator Bob Day and independent senator John Madigan as supportive.


Whining kid wins anti-discrimination case

Yet more evidence that such laws are too sweeping

In a David and Goliath-esque battle in Queensland's Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a jobseeker has taken on supermarket giant Woolworths alleging discrimination – and won.

In December 2013, then-unemployed Steven Willmott, of the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Beerwah, applied for an advertised job as a console operator at a Woolworths-operated service station in the town.

He commenced his application through the company's online application portal but did not complete it, unable to continue unless he submitted mandatory fields demanding his date-of-birth, his gender and proof of his right to work in Australia.

The required information was, QCAT senior member Richard Oliver ruled, both offensive and humiliating to Mr Wilmott, who described himself as "sickened beyond belief" at Woolworths disregard for Australian anti-discrimination laws.

"I infer from this statement that he was embarrassed and humiliated in being compelled to provide the offending information before his application could progress," Mr Oliver ruled.

"Because of this he did not proceed with the application and therefore was not considered for the position.

"He is a local resident of the community in which the position of console operator was advertised and he believes he would have had prospects of being successful."

The ruling, made in Brisbane last month after a hearing in September, ordered Woolworths pay $5000 in compensation to Mr Willmott by December 19.

In its defence, Woolworths said it asked for the details partly to comply with Commonwealth legislation, in regards to the right to work in Australia requirement.

It also argued differing rates of pay for employees under and over the age of 21, the potential to work in its BWS liquor outlets and differentiating between its 190,000 employees Australia-wide justified the date of birth requirement.

The company argued the mandatory gender information was a simple way for it to comply with the Federal Government's Workplace Gender Equality Instrument. 

However, Mr Oliver noted that since Mr Wilmott had taken discrimination action, all three requirements had been removed from the Wooloworths online application process, prior to the September hearing.

He rejected their defence of all three elements.

"Despite the sophisticated argument mounted by Woolworths counsel, I have found in the pertaining circumstances, the information sought by Woolworths was not reasonably necessary," he said.

However, in determining the amount to award Mr Wilmott, Mr Oliver said he had not produced any evidence of other positions for which he had applied to which any claim for loss of income could be determined.

"At best, and putting the claim for loss of income at its highest, his claim for compensation is limited to the loss of a chance that he may have been successful in his application, if Woolworths had not engaged in the conduct he complained of," he ruled.

He said the $5000 figure he determined took into account embarrassment, humiliation and some notional amount for loss of a chance.


17 December, 2014

Sydney siege ends: Family of ex-wife furious gunman on bail

The family of Noleen Hayson Pal, the slain ex-wife of the Sydney siege gunman, have expressed their anger that he was not behind bars.

Man Haron Monis, 50, who was shot dead by police in the early hours of Tuesday morning, was on bail after being charged with being an accessory before and after the fact to the 2013 murder of Pal.

Pal's "god brother" Talat Khalik, who lives in California, posted a series of furious comments about Monis on Facebook.  "Thats systems tere f***d up but im still happy he.died [sic]," Mr Khalik, who refers to Pal as his sister, posted on his Facebook page. "Fu**n lucky tey got u before we did in hell f****n asshole [sic]."

He also posted a picture of himself with his arm around Noleen, writing: "Noleen miss u [sic]".

His mother, Momina Khalik, who also lives in California, said Monis should have been in custody.  "y the first place they let him free on the sydney streets they should have let him rot in the jail his a f****n sick animal [sic]," she posted.

Pal, 30, was stabbed multiple times and set alight in a western Sydney unit block in April 2013.

Monis and his then partner, Amirah Droudis, were both charged over the murder but they were given bail on December 12 last year.  "It is a weak case," Magistrate William Pierce said at the time of the bail application.

Pal's godfather Ayuut Khalik said the first time he met Monis he didn't like him.  "They should have put him away and thrown away the key," he told NBC News.

"Who do you blame? The Australian government? The judicial system?" he said.

Mr Khalik said that Monis and Pal had two sons.

Monis, a self-styled sheik, made Pal wear a hijab and stopped her from contacting non-Muslims, he said. "We found out he was hitting her and stuff, and he was telling his kids white people are bad."

Mr Khalik said when Pal came to stay with his family in California for a month last year he told her to be safe.


Sydney siege: A failure of gun control

As ever, the crooks can get guns.  It's the decent people who are prevented from protecting themselves

The siege in Sydney's CBD and its terrible end received saturation coverage on American cable news, with at least one commentator lamenting Australia's tough gun laws.

Speaking on Fox News after police stormed the Lindt cafe,  Charles Hurt, a writer with the conservative newspaper The Washington Times and a Fox News contributor, said: "These people are hell bent to kill innocent people … In a free society there is nothing you can do about it. You can't prevent all these things from happening, which is why most Americans, when they see this stuff play out … they think about guns and it is why they think about personal gun ownership and being able to protect yourself, protect your family and protect your neighbours.

"I think it is sort of interesting that, in Australia, they have banned guns, just about all guns, for personal ownership, yet somehow this insane killer managed to get himself a shotgun," Hurt said.

The host of the program added that after "a couple massacres in Australia there was massive gun control in that country, where people turned in their weapons because they did not want to have them any more and this was sort of hailed by gun control advocates as the poster child for the way things should be.  "A number of folks said this should be in the United States."

Another guest noted that this was something that could happen anywhere, with or without gun control.

An Australian who occasionally appears on Fox programs, Nick Adams, wrote a piece for the Fox website saying: "Monday's events have also prompted Australians to revisit their gun laws.

"The United Kingdom has had two beheadings of members of the public in the last two years, with neither police nor civilians able to prevent it. It also has prohibitive gun laws," he wrote.  "Australians are looking to America, and not the UK for guidance."

The gun debate was also raised on CNN, when host Chris Cuomo said to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy: "You get a plus/minus from situations like this on a signature cause of yours, namely gun control in the United States.

"We believe the man in Sydney has a shotgun, an old-fashioned shotgun. If he did, that would be an illegal weapon there."

"When you look at what the risk is in the United States, generally men like this are involving themselves with weapons but it also creates pressure on people who want weapons so that they can defend themselves against citizens who decide to lose it and become sympathisers of terrorism.


No terrorists here


Greenies harassing banks over carbon

ANZ Bank's lending to big carbon emitters is set to come into focus at this week's annual meeting of shareholders, after other banks have boosted their disclosure of climate-change risks.

Investors will on Thursday vote on a proposal to change the constitution to force ANZ to publish the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the company is financing via loans and investments.

It comes as banks globally face growing pressure to consider the financial risks they may face from lending to companies with large carbon footprints.

Proxy advisers are recommending shareholders vote against the resolution, which was also put to CBA investors and rejected by a large margin.

Nonetheless, ANZ's rivals have also taken steps to disclose more information about their carbon exposure.

NAB, which also has its annual general meeting on Thursday, was facing the same resolution, from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, but it was withdrawn after the bank agreed to publish more detail on its exposure to climate-change risks in 2015.

CBA also agreed to provide more detail on how much of its loan book is exposed to fossil fuels. At its annual general meeting last month, 3.2 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of the resolution.

In a note to investors, CGI Glass Lewis says ANZ could face some risk through its financed emissions but it may not be practical or even possible to collect all the information required by the resolution. It is advising shareholders to vote against the proposal.

"Given the trend in increased regulation and a heightened sense of awareness among some regulators concerning ensuring the mitigation of the effects of climate change, it is likely that part of the company's loan book could be affected," the note said.

"However, we are not convinced that adoption of this proposal is in the company or its shareholders' best interests at this time."

The lobby group behind the proposal argues that of the big four banks, ANZ is the most exposed to climate-change risks  because of its role as a big lender to the resources sector.

The debate is occurring amid a growing focus on banks' exposure to borrowers who would be affected by climate change policies.

The Bank of England this month reportedly commenced an inquiry into the risk of a "carbon bubble" – a financial shock caused by efforts to mitigate climate change.

Westpac did not face the resolution because ACCR research has found it was the least carbon-exposed to climate risks of the big four. All the same, a significant share of the questions put to chairman Lindsay Maxsted at the bank's AGM on Friday focused on how the bank was responding to climate change in its lending decisions.

Aside from carbon, ANZ investors will also have a non-binding vote on chief executive Mike Smith's remuneration, which rose 3.7 per cent to $10.7 million.

NAB cut the pay of its its former boss Cameron Clyne by more than $1 million to $6 million after disappointing financial results for the bank.


Must not mention the absence of Aborigines

The developer who partnered with the Aboriginal Housing Company to redevelop The Block in Redfern has been forced to explain why an advertisement for a development completed in 2012 stated that Aborigines had "moved out" of the suburb.

The owner and director of DeiCorp Construction, Fouad Deiri, says that the statement on the website of Sydney-based Great Fortune Investments had "not been worded correctly". Great Fortune Investments was engaged by DeiCorp in 2010 to market Redfern's 19-storey Deicota Apartments to local and international Asian investors.

But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda says that the developer is "guilty-by-association" and that the incident should lead to a rethink as to whether they're the right partners for The Block.

"I've been out and about in Redfern and they're pretty pissed off," says Mr Gooda. "They reckon there's got to be some sorting out of this."

The advertisement, which was removed from Great Fortune Investment's website earlier this week after being flagged by The Australian, said that: "'The aboriginals [sic] have already moved out, now Redfern as [sic] the last virgin suburb close to city, it will have great potential for the capital growth in the near future."

Mr Deiri points to their Chinese origins and says that it was grammatical failure. "The Block was being relocated at the time and it was a point about the relocation," he says. 

That doesn't wash with Mr Gooda who says that he's both outraged and saddened by the comments in the advertisement. "What were they trying to say by referencing Aboriginal people?" he says. "What are we? Noxious weeds or something?"   [No.  Problem people who are often drunk and pestering in public]


16 December, 2014

Bonfire of the bureaucracies

ALMOST 200 government agencies will be scrapped in a new search for budget savings, as the Abbott government lights a “bonfire of the quangos” to eliminate waste and help deal with deepening deficits that will be revealed on Monday.

Working groups will be shut down and expensive agencies dismantled in a bid to streamline the public service, saving more than $500 million over four years and taking staff numbers back to the levels of seven years ago.

Health and education will be next in the hunt for redundant agencies when the government sends experts into both major federal departments to find potential savings.

The Weekend Australian can ­reveal the 175 agencies to be cut ­include the Australian Government Solicitor as well as obscure committees such as a “governance board” on computer systems and a “partnership group” on student services. While the AGS had been seen as a potential asset sale, the government will instead close it down and transfer some of its staff to the Attorney-General’s Department in order to scale back overall spending.

Some agencies will be forced to share their “back-office” functions while the government will consider outsourcing a huge communications network that links 400 sites and more than 80 agencies.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will announce the cuts alongside new rules to try to stop the creation of new agencies that clog the bureaucracy and slow down decisions.

“This will ensure that taxpayer funds are spent wisely and efficiently and not wasted inside departments,” Senator Cormann told The Weekend Australian.

Admitting the growing pressure on the nation’s finances, Joe Hockey conceded yesterday the government could not produce a budget surplus by 2018 as hoped, the result of a shortfall in tax revenue as iron ore prices tumble.

“The challenge has been that we have seen our export prices come off dramatically,” the Treasurer said.

“Now, we rely more on iron ore export income than Australia ever has before. It is about a fifth of our exports. So when you see a dramatic price fall in commodities, it now hits our bottom line harder than previously. We have got to deal with that.”

Bill Shorten hit back at Mr Hockey’s admission yesterday that the government “could have done more marketing” to explain the budget. “Families are suffering from cuts of $6000 to their budget, millions of sick Australians are being forced to pay a GP tax, students face $100,000 degrees and every motorist is paying more in petrol tax — and Joe Hockey is worried about marketing?” the Opposition Leader said.

“This explains the government’s plans for a big expensive advertising campaign on their new GP tax and their $100,000 degrees. No amount of slick marketing will convince Australians that this budget is fair or delivering on the promises Tony Abbott made at the last election.”

Economists expect the mid-year budget update on Monday to ­reveal a deficit this year of about $40 billion, up from $29.8bn forecast in the May budget.

Senator Cormann launched the first stages of a “smaller government program” in the May budget, closing down 76 agencies and starting the sale of Defence Housing Australia, the Royal Australian Mint and Australian Hearing.

The sale of Medibank Private recouped $5.7bn, about $1bn more than expected, and the health insurance company is now listed on the sharemarket.

Senator Cormann will announce the next phase of the program on Monday with the closure of 175 agencies, taking the total number of entities abolished to 251. The savings from the overall effort will reach $539.5m over four years.

“Our focus is on ensuring that the administration of government is as efficient and as effective as possible,” Senator Cormann said.

“This means a more streamlined, accountable and responsive public service, without unnecessary overlaps and duplication.”

The AGS has 590 lawyers and other staff and charges departments for its services, producing revenue of $112.7m and income of $3.9m last year.

The decision will come as a shock to the legal community but could be a taste of things to come, with Monday’s announcement also including a new approach to using private services to replace public agencies.

A “contestability program” will assess whether some government functions should be open to competition so that private providers are encouraged to offer services.

“Alternative delivery approaches will continue to be explored,” says one of the documents to accompany the announcement.

The departments of health and education are named as two of the priorities for further work on “streamlining” the bureaucracy, amid a growing furore over job cuts and strike action in pay disputes.

Mr Abbott and his colleagues have come under fire for refusing to offer more than a 1.5 per cent pay rise to Defence Force personnel, setting this as a benchmark for the entire public sector. Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood called the government’s negotiating position on wage claims a “train wreck” on Wednesday as union members took industrial action to seek higher pay.

“It’s a little rich for politicians to preach restraint to Medicare mums on $55,000 a year, when pollies’ pay rises have run 41 per cent above inflation over the last decade,” Ms Flood told the ABC.

“The key issue here is in fact not pay; it is the attack on the conditions and rights of these workers.”

The government’s broader strategy is to scale back the public service so that total staff numbers return to the levels seen in 2007, when Kevin Rudd took power and launched dozens of inquiries and reviews that set up new agencies.

Monday’s announcement will note that salaries for public servants have grown 42 per cent over the past decade compared with inflation of 28 per cent.

There is no official estimate of the number of jobs to be cut by scrapping or merging agencies, but a “bonfire of the quangos” in Britain in recent years was estimated to save £2.5bn over five years.

Senator Cormann sees the Australian exercise as a similar way to eradicate “quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations”.

He said the reviews of the health and education departments would “identify any legacy programs that are no longer a high priority, identify barriers to performance and look for opportunities to reassign limited resources to better deliver on higher policy priorities”.


Supercilious Leftist Mike Carlton comes a cropper

Mike Carlton, whose own book missed out, attacks Hal Colebatch’s book on war-time union bastardry for winning a Prime Minister’s literary award:

    "In October 1945, [Colebatch] says, [returning prisoners of war] were held penned-up on a British aircraft carrier, HMS Speaker, which had brought them home. The wharfies would not allow them ashore to meet their loved ones for 36 hours… Colebatch gives his only source for this nonsense as a letter from one W.S. Monks, dated 1995, 50 years after the event and 20 years ago. He does not reveal who this Monks might be, but there was no soldier or POW of that name in WWII"

Roger Franklin in Quadrant on-line:

    "According to Carlton, who fancies himself a naval historian, no Australian by the name of W.S. Monks ever served beneath the AIF’s Rising Sun or fell into the hands of the Japanese… What about an hourlong interview with the man who doesn’t exist?"



Just another morning of the ABC’s pet warming activists

Of course the ABC is not biased.

True, ABC Melbourne 774 got its update on the Lima global warming talks this morning from Erwin Jackson of the alarmist Climate Institute, sponsored by green carpetbaggers, and treated him like a dispassionate authority.

Sure ABC Radio National today interviewed Tim Flannery, head of the alarmist Climate Council, as if he, too, were a dispassionate expert, not even asking that he declare his own vested interests or explain any of his countless dud predictions. Heck, the interviewer didn’t even laugh at the irony of Flannery denouncing “scaremongers”, and ended by noting what a “privilege” it was to talk to the old scaremonger himself.

No, the ABC isn’t biased at all. I mean, isn’t everyone a Greens voting, Abbott-hating, Billy Bragg-playing global warming alarmist?

When will the ABC be forced to live up to its statutory duty to offer balance and a range of voices?


Abbott’s barnacle removal essential to Liberal reboot

TONY Abbott’s barnacle removal operation is in full swing — his compromises are essential and belated but progress will be slow given the government’s internal dysfunction and its brand problem with the voters.

The keys to the Prime Minister’s re-positioning lie in reshaping his policies, forcing the public to confront the economic and fiscal challenge, breaking down Senate crossbench resistance and laying the basis for a stable message running to the next election.

Abbott, however, has waited too long to recast his tactics. Those lost months come at a high price. They mean that rather than re-position with authority, his policy compromises are now cast as part of a survival operation.

They risk being devalued via a dangerous set of internal tensions — fear within the Coalition it might become a one-term government, senior ministers positioning with an eye to their own interests, a damaging public conversation about Abbott’s personal office and a media perception of a trouble-prone government that becomes self-reinforcing.

For Abbott, the frustrations are immense since the government’s problems are overwhelmingly self-inflicted. The Prime Minister remains in good spirits, resilient assertive and confident.

Yet the frustrations break through; witness his defence of his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, yesterday saying to the ABC that she wouldn’t face this criticism if her name were P-e-t-e-r and not P-e-t-a. That astonishing claim of sexism won’t impress his senior ministers.

The main task is manifest but still not accomplished — it is to recast the economic narrative.

Reality, however, is on Abbott’s side in this project. The fact the government, despite setbacks, is sticking by a budget consolidation over time involving community sacrifice highlights the inescapable fiscal story.

Economic management will be the dominant issue at the next election. The task for Abbott and his ministers will be to send a stable and consistent message based on growth, economic restructuring, infrastructure and a fiscal consolidation.

Joe Hockey concedes the return to surplus timetable in four years now needs to be pushed back. This is bowing to the inevitable. The deficit is higher but with unemployment rising, the priority is to keep the economy strong. Like Abbott, the Treasurer said 2015 would see “more of a conversation” with the public.

“We made a mistake,” Hockey said yesterday. There had been too much focus on “outcomes rather than process” in 2014. The budget update next week will be ugly. It looms, however, as a critical test for Hockey since it is an opportunity to focus on the reality of the fiscal task confronting the nation.

The speculation about Hockey’s future as Treasurer should now be over but, incredibly for Abbott, it is replaced by speculation about Credlin’s role, an issue brought to a head by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

It is false to think the barnacle operation makes the Senate less important. Just the reverse. The political message is Abbott’s renewed commitment to negotiate with the Senate crossbenchers to secure in 2015 his two pivotal compromise packages — a revised GP co-payment and modified university reform deal.

Legislating these two policies is crucial. They would bring a rough form of political closure to the debilitating May budget, the most unpopular for a generation. Abbott and Hockey need these policy measures, the political victory they offer and the ability to move to the second budget with more confidence.

This demands a more astute approach to the Senate crossbenchers plus a sustained sales job to the public on both the Medicare and university changes. Substituting an optional $5 GP co-payment with pensioners, concessional card holders, children under 16 and veterans exempted instead of the original $7 co-payment makes the package far more attractive. Labor won’t budget on the fundamentals. Bill Shorten’s reply was typical: it is still a GP tax, still a broken promise, and this is about Abbott protecting himself, not caring for the weak and ­vulnerable.

The Palmer United Party sounds hostile. Failure to legislate these packages in 2015 will threaten to keep the government in the electoral death zone. Whether the Senate will begin to display some responsibility for the fiscal burden facing all Australians defies prediction.

The scale of political irresponsibility will force a reckoning at some point. With more than $25 billion in savings yet to be passed, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said the issue was whether Australia had a sustainable fiscal position over the medium term. He said for the past five years ­people had voted for “good things” from government but without voting for the revenue to pay for it.

In his final speech, outgoing Treasury chief Martin Parkinson said the nation “has a structural problem at the heart of the budget” and that without action we face “a decade of deficits, rising debt” and limited policy ability to manage ­future shocks.

The leading economic officials can only issue warnings to the community. The alarming feature of the parliament is that it considers matters issue by issue and never considers the nation’s overall fiscal situation.

This week’s barnacle removal has been a mixed bag. Ideally, Abbott should have gone much further in retreating on his paid parental leave scheme and linking it to a revised childcare policy. The Opposition Leader’s response was predictable: having bagged the PPL policy all year he accused Abbott of a “signature broken promise” when he changed it.

Abbott’s aim is to rekindle his electoral base with a 2015 families package that will better target parental leave, creating room for invest­ment to deliver more affordable childcare. It seems sure to confront problems in the Senate.

Abbott presented the new $5 co-payment as a “better policy” now replacing a previously “good policy”. Frankly, this sort of language won’t cut the mustard. It doesn’t penetrate to the core issue. Abbott’s starting position must be that Medicare is financially unsustainable. Labor denies this — it is the reason Labor opposes any co-payment in principle.

The risk for the government, however, is that it has not properly road-tested the revised measure and could be left again facing an obstructionist Senate. Mark Textor, the Liberal Party’s pollster and once a pivotal adviser, was not involved in testing the acceptability of the GP revamp.

At the same time this week the government, in fits and starts, has moved towards a welcome adjustment of its climate change ­position. In a symbolic and necessary backflip, Abbott announced a qualified pledge of $200 million over four years to the Green ­Climate Fund that he once ­dismissed as Bob Brown’s bank.

Julie Bishop’s high-profile role at the Lima conference is the sort of political tonic the government needed. Bishop has no truck with climate sceptics. As a pragmatist, she believes Australia must embrace substantial and proportionate targets beyond 2020. Her role as lead negotiator on this issue injects her into the domestic politics of climate change over the next two years. Abbott’s opposition to carbon pricing and his determination to make this an electoral plus still requires a credible target and emissions reduc­tion policy. The fact power prices are easing means political momentum for ambitious emission reduction plans may only intensify.

As the government gets ready for the summer break it has two new chiefs in the key public service positions — Michael Thawley in Prime Minister and Cabinet and John Fraser at Treasury, starting next month. Much pre-Christmas housekeeping is being conducted.

A prime minister’s work is never done. Abbott needs to spend more time with his backbenchers. He needs a better cabinet process than has applied for much of 2014. And his senior ministers need to be less indulgent and more focused on the collective interests of the government.

Pivotal to the government’s future will be sorting out relations between senior ministers and the Credlin-led PM’s office. That means eliminating bad news stories that arise from poor process, excessive centralisation of power and ministers feeling they cannot get through to the PM.

There is no doubt the Victorian election result has added to the de-stabilisation within the government. The focus from early next year, however, will be the NSW election where Liberal Premier Mike Baird should score a resounding victory.

It is easy to overlook how different are the state politics of Victoria and NSW. When John Brumby’s ALP government lost in Victoria it was a close contest devoid of any general revulsion against Labor. The opposite was the case in NSW, where there was a long pent-up hostility towards NSW Labor that triggered the big change of government four years ago. That sentiment still exists; it is weaker but it has not been purged.


Health Services Union crooks ordered to pay back $8 million

THE mistress of former Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson has been ordered to repay almost $4 million allegedly rorted from the union.

In total former associates of the disgraced HSU boss were ordered to repay more than $8 million.

On Thursday the NSW Supreme Court ordered former union procurement manager Cheryl McMillan to pay the HSU $3.7 million following an early 2005 scheme in which the company Access Focus invoiced the union for supplies at an inflated rate.

The union was also trying to recover an extra $611,000 in misappropriated funds from McMillan, which the court heard was deposited in a bank account between 2005 and 2011.

Justice Richard White said this would amount to a double recovery.

But he ultimately found in favour of the HSU and ordered McMillan to pay $3,775,806.13 to the union — an amount that also included interest and court costs.  “She also was a recipient of bribes. The bribes she received were a component of the losses that the union suffered,” Justice White said.

Access Focus owner Alf Downing has also been ordered to repay the union $4,328,492.70, which like McMillan’s penalty includes interest and court costs.

Williamson was jailed in March for five years for defrauding millions of dollars from the HSU.  A judgment of $5 million was made against him in October last year but he reportedly declared bankruptcy.  Downing and McMillan have both filed petitions seeking to be declared bankrupt, the HSU said.

The HSU has been rocked by corruption scandals in recent times with former federal MP Craig Thomson found guilty of defrauding the union. He is appealing against a three-month jail sentence, with a decision expected on Monday in Melbourne.

HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes told AAP he was pleased with McMillian decision.  “We have pursued these people for the past two years and this case shows the extent of the funds that were taken from HSU members,” said HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes. “We intend to continue with other forms of recovery action.”

The court was told the long-running scam involved Downing getting 50 per cent of the inflated invoice, while Williamson and McMillan would split the remaining 50 per cent.  McMillan was not present in court on Thursday, nor did she mount a defence to the union’s claim.


15 December, 2014

"Trousers" Fraser, the most loathed ex-conservative Prime Minister, is at it again

He did a great deal to win approval from the Left while in office but very little for conservatives -- so he hasn't actually changed much.  Conservatives have long loathed him for winning office as a conservative and then failing to live up to it.  His loss of his trousers one mysterious night in Memphis Tennesse has always been amusing, however

On Wednesday night former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser gave this speech at the opening of brand new premises for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

Among other spiteful and dangerous claims, Fraser said: "Even with good government, there would still be important areas which ASRC would fill, but it would be a lesser role than that which ASRC is forced to play, as a result of the present government's policies.  Australia's name has been damaged around the world.  We are known as the most inhumane, the most uncaring, the most selfish of all the wealthy countries.  It used not to be that way"

Malcolm Fraser is paid by us - according to this News Limited report he cost us $1.3M for a 2 and a half year period in perks alone.  He also gets a very generous pension, the quarter of a million dollars every year in perks is additional.

I'd have thought that taking the money places a moral burden on Mr Fraser to act with some loyalty to Australia in his public role, even if he doesn't feel loyal himsel.   But Fraser has no compunction in trashing the reputation of the nation that's paying him to represent it.   If he can't find it in himself to act loyally, paid or unpaid, perhaps he might consider just telling the truth.

Fraser does much to curry favour with his young Greens groupies.   Perhaps that was his motivation in making this outrageous statement about Australia:  "Australia's name has been damaged around the world.  We are known as the most inhumane, the most uncaring, the most selfish of all the wealthy countries".

There are a few ways to measure the wealth of nations.   One popular method is GDP per capita, that is the national income divided by the number of people.   It's also known as Purchasing Power Parity per capita - the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and CIA are among the organisations who put wealth ranking tables together using methods like these.

We average somewhere around #14 on the rankings.  Ahead of us are such human rights luminaries as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.   But former PM tells the world that Australia is the most inhumane, the most uncaring and the most selfish of the "wealthy" people.

That might go down well with Sarah Hanson Young and other adoring bright young things but it's hardly borne out by the facts.

He spoke of the "hundreds" of asylum seeker children currently in detention.   He cast doubts on Scott Morrison's personal integrity talking about "inducements" the Minister offered cross bench senators to pass legislation to reduce Labor's backlog of children in detention.   Fraser said this of the now legislation passed by the Parliament, "the minister offered that 106 children will be allowed out of detention from Christmas Island, but can we believe him?"

Today News Limited reports on Attorney General George Brandis's speech at a human rights awards ceremony at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Arts last night, saying Brandis:

"...asked the audience to celebrate International Human Rights Day by noting that most of the 1992 children who were in detention when the Coalition came to office last year have now been released.

This factual statement was greeted with a smattering of reluctant applause from about a dozen of the 400 or so in the angrily self-righteous crowd.

Brandis went on to say all children detained on Christmas Island would be out ­before Christmas — to no applause. “All of the children in detention will have been released by the early months of next year and we will be back to where we were in November, 2007, when the number of children in detention was zero,” he said.

“And of course the other number zero, which I think ought to be celebrated by all of us, is the fact that 2014 was the first year since 2008 in which we can confidently say that no children, and no adults, died at sea on asylum seeker vessels.”

There was not a murmur from the mulish crowd, resentful a Coalition minister exposed the fact it was the disastrous policies of the Labor-Green-independent governments between 2007 and 2013 that were responsible for deaths at sea and the detention of children.

There was not a whimper from a mob usually so ready to bray its unquestioning support for people such as Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs (one of last night’s award winners), who earlier this year falsely accused the government of using armed guards to maintain security at Christmas Island and falsely claimed that up to 10 women had attempted suicide while in detention, among other fabrications.

About 1,600 people drowned as a consequence of Labor's "sugar on the table" method of inbound maritime immigration management.   Fraser doesn't seem to mind, he didn't speak about that at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.


Struggling farmers escape eviction as bank backs down

THE ANZ Bank has promised to stop evicting drought-stricken farmers from their land for the next 12 months, as public anger mounts at homeless farm families living destitute in many Queensland country towns.

The bank yesterday imposed an immediate moratorium on all forced farm foreclosures in drought-affected west and north Queensland and northern NSW until December next year.

ANZ Australia chief executive Phil Chronican said the bank wanted to be on the “front foot” in recognising and reacting to the growing problem. He acknowledged the bank hoped to dampen mounting political and community anger at so many farmers being forced from their homes and land by the banks at a time of severe drought.

“We’ve been aware there have been areas of extreme stress that have had this extended drought,” Mr Chronican said.  “It’s a relatively small part of the country but with growing public concern over these (farm foreclosures), we wanted to be on the front foot to diffuse concerns.”

The move by ANZ comes after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce used an interview with The Australian to issue an ultimatum to the major banks to stop throwing farmers off the land or risk government intervention.

A debt crisis rally at Winton in northwest Queensland last Friday was told of 46 farmers pushed from their land by the banks in the Longreach region in the past six months and 40 more farms for sale in the Gulf country.

North Queensland federal MP Bob Katter yesterday vowed to “name and shame” every bank trying to throw farmers off their land in the midst of a record three-year drought that has gripped 80 per cent of Queensland. Mr Katter called on the public to let him know of every distressed property or farmer under bank pressure, so he could publicise details unbound by confidentiality and suppression orders imposed by the banks on involved farmers.

The ANZ Bank has been at the forefront of public anger at farm evictions, after The Australian published the case of 80-year-old Charlie Phillott, pushed from his home of 54 years, Carisbrooke station, near Winton, in March by the ANZ. Mr Phillott said yesterday the ANZ moratorium was “wonderful news”.

But he said it was too early to tell if it might make a difference to his own situation, or if he and his wife Anne might be back living amid the Mitchell grass plains and rugged jump-up country by Christmas. “If I can get this ­property back, that would be the greatest turnaround by a bank in my lifetime,” Mr Phillott said. “I think very good things may come of this.”

Other banks are expected to follow the ANZ’s lead, with the Commonwealth Bank to announce its own “drought support package” today.  NAB said foreclosure was a “very rare” action for it to take against agribusiness customers.

The ANZ announcement includes a moratorium on all new farm repossessions until December 2015, a 12-month commitment not to increase interest rates on distressed farms, and interest rate relief in cases of extreme distress, in an attempt to address the current farm debt challenges in Queensland. The bank has also pledged not to put any farm businesses into receivership or to increase existing mortgage interest rates on loans to drought-affected farmers.

It will halt the practice of hiking interest rates up to 12 per cent and beyond as a “penalty” rate when farm loans are reclassed by the bank as at-risk and a mediation process begins, which inevitably starts rapid slide towards foreclosure. In cases of extreme stress, interest rate “relief” or easing will be offered by the ANZ to existing loan customers in mediation talks with the banks, or who are struggling to repay their debts.

Mr Joyce welcomed the ANZ moratorium, saying he much preferred the banks to manage their own situations.


Australian jobs growth at 2 ½ year high but unemployment increases

EMPLOYMENT growth is at its strongest level in 2½ years, but that hasn’t stopped the national jobless rate from rising to a new 12-year peak.

Unemployment hit 6.3 per cent last month, in line with market forecasts and up from 6.2 per cent in October.

There was better news in Queensland, with the jobless rate falling from 7.1 per cent in October to 6.9 per cent last month. That was the largest decrease in seasonally adjusted unemployment across the ­nation, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Premier Campbell Newman welcomed the improved state figures. “We’re going to continue to work hard to rev up employment, to ensure that anybody who wants a job gets a job,” Mr Newman said.

Asked whether three years would be enough to reach the Government’s long-standing target of 4 per cent unemployment, Mr Newman said “we’re going to bust our gut to actually make this happen”.

The total number of people with jobs soared by 42,700 ­nationally, almost triple what economists were expecting.  But most growth was in the part-time employment sector, with full-time job numbers up only 1800.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said the main reason the unemployment rate rose was because more people were looking for work.  “Contrary to the headline lift in the unemployment rate, the job market is in decent shape,” he said.

“A healthier economy, improved job prospects, and more importantly a noted lift in job advertisements over the past six months has resulted in more people searching for work, with an ongoing lift in the participation rate.”

The participation rate – those who have a job, are looking for work or are ready to start work – rose to a four-month high of 64.7 per cent.

Randstad employment market analyst Steve Shepherd described the rise in unemployment as tiny.  “What we can take from the numbers is there is increasing jobseeker confidence in the Australian jobs market,” he said.

Mr Shepherd attributed the big jump in part-time work to the availability of more temporary work as businesses began hiring for the busy Christmas period.



Four current articles below

Greens hunt academic ‘witches’

A dragon: South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright.  She wants to know:  "Are you now or have you ever been a member of a free-market organization?"

THE notorious US anti-communism campaigner Joe McCarthy would be proud — the Australian Senate has adopted his tactics in pursuit of independent think tanks.  [NOTE:  The "Are you now ..." question was actually asked in the HUAC hearings, not by Joe McCarthy.  McCarthy was a Senator so had nothing to do with HUAC.  HUAC was a Democrat outfit]

Instead of “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”, a Senate estimates committee is asking whether particular academics and specialists are “connected” with the Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies.

The federal Education Department has emailed a dozen or more subject specialists who contributed to the national curriculum review.

The correspondence begins: “The department has received a number of questions from Senate estimates. The specific question is: ‘If any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?’ ”

It says it “would be appreciated if you could respond to this question” by Monday. Some of the recipients and both organisations have lashed out at what they see as an insulting intrusion.

“This is outright McCarthyism,” IPA deputy director James Paterson said. “It is pretty much ‘Are you now or have you even been a member of the IPA?’ ”

University of Wollongong historian Greg Melleuish said he was happy to answer the question because he had “nothing to hide”.

The issue was the “motives of the people asking the questions” rather than the department following up. The person who asked the question was South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright, who raised it at an October hearing.

“I am interested to know if any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?” she asked.

The Weekend Australian contacted the senator’s office yesterday seeking comment on why the organisations were singled out and whether she was investigating connections to any other organisations.

Senator Wright’s adviser said the senator was too busy to respond, having “back-to-back meetings” and “two human rights events” to attend.

Associate Professor Melleuish said he was selected for the review because of his extensive curriculum work for Liberal and Labor governments.

“It is an attempt to taint people by association,” he said. “There is a strange idea around, especially online, that the IPA somehow has a pernicious effect on the government.”

Other academics confirmed they had received the request and decided not to respond.

They found the questions insulting, seemingly suggesting that publishing with these highly regarded organisations devalued their expertise.

CIS executive director Greg Lindsay said: “We are an organisation of the highest standards that publishes Nobel laureates, leading academics from Australia and around the world, as well as high-level politicians from all major parties. I’ve never heard of Senator Wright — who is she?”

Both the IPA and CIS support free markets, individual liberty and limited government.

Mr Paterson said Senator Wright’s question was a “classic example” of playing the man rather than the ball. “It is deeply revealing about the Greens’ attitude to political disagreement,” he said. “Are the Greens senators hunting down the political affiliation of all those who contributed towards developing the national curriculum, or just those they disagree with?”

The lead author of the original history curriculum was Melbourne University historian Stuart Macintyre. His connections were not pursued by the Greens. Professor Macintyre was once a member of the Communist Party.


Wind Power Really Is Setting the World on FIRE:

As the Australian countryside turns to the golden hues of summer, the attentions of its farming and rural communities also turn: hundreds of eager eyes become fixed on the horizon for tell-tale signs of the smoke that heralds the bushfires that cast fear amongst those that live and work in the bush.

Rules are set to avoid bushfires on high fire danger days – when a Total Fire Ban is called:

You cannot light, maintain or use a fire in the open, or to carry out any activity in the open that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire. No general purpose hot works such as using tractors, slashers and/or welding, grinding or gas cutting can be done in the open either, and this includes incinerators and barbecues which burn solid fuel, eg. wood or charcoal.

Farmers engaged in crop harvesting operations think twice about operating harvesters when the northerly winds pick up and send temperatures into the 40s – the safety conscious leave their headers parked in the shed or the corner of the paddock and spend the day in front of the A/C enjoying the cricket on TV – ready to respond in a heartbeat to the call if a fire does break out. Better to miss a day’s reaping than set the country ablaze.

But such is the seriousness with which country people take the ever-present threat of a bushfire, that can turn a swathe of country black; destroy homes, sheds, equipment, livestock, fences, generations of hard work; and, most savage of all – lives.

The approach taken to the threat of the savagery of an Australian bushfire is about the common sense management of RISK – and, wherever possible, taking steps to minimise or prevent that risk altogether.

But one massive – and utterly unjustified – RISK is the one created by the roll-out of hundreds of giant fans across WA, SA, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria – all in areas highly prone to bushfires.

Turbines represent the perfect bushfire incendiary: around the world, hundreds have blown up in balls of flame – in the process – each one raining molten metal and hundreds of litres of flaming hydraulic oil and burning plastic earthwards.

Wind turbine fires are ten times more common than the wind industry and its parasites claim (see our post here and check out this website:


The Australian Labor Party’s energy policy nothing but wind

GEORGE Orwell once said that political language was designed to “give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.

Step forward exhibit A and the Labor Party’s explanation for refusing to fix the mess that is Australian renewable energy policy. Mark Butler says that Labor will not “stand by and watch” billions of dollars in investment in renewables head overseas.

Back on planet reality there is no investment in renewable energy now because we already have too much of it.

This year the legislated Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target required Australia to produce 16,100 gigawatt hours of renewable energy.

What this effectively means is that businesses have to surrender an equivalent amount of renewable energy certificates or pay a penalty. But Australia has an enormous oversupply of renewable energy certificates. This has nothing to do with the change of government a year ago and everything to do with the overly generous solar subsidies provided by various state and federal governments until recently. These subsidies have correctly been removed but the overhang remains.

Where there is a surplus of a product its price falls and this is what has happened to the price of renewable energy. Renewable energy certificates have been stuck at about $30 a megawatt hour, too low to bridge the gap between cheap fossil fuels and renewables.

Labor’s refusal to even consider reform is condemning the renewable energy industry to greater uncertainty and simply defers a reckoning. The reckoning will come when it becomes apparent that we cannot, by 2020, increase our renewable energy production to 41,000GWh as set by law. To meet that target we need an additional 26,000GWh of renewables.

The most efficient renewable energy wind turbines are capable of producing about 3MW while running. Because there are 8670 hours in a year, each wind turbine has the potential to produce about 26GWh a year.

But turbines don’t run at full capacity because the wind doesn’t always blow. Across Australia the average real output of wind turbines is about one-third of their rated capacity.

That means each wind turbine could produce about 8GW of energy every year. To produce another 26,000GWh we would need an extra 3000-plus wind turbines — more than doubling the population of wind turbines in Australia today. Each of these wind turbines would take up about 1sq km of land — considering the space needed between turbines. That means we would need an area larger than the size of the ACT to produce all this additional wind energy.

Now we technically could blanket the ACT with wind turbines — and some may suggest that would be a more productive use of that land — but that is not going to happen in five years. There is too short a time to build so many wind turbines so fast.

What will actually happen is that we won’t reach the target, but the dirty secret is that those that have already invested in renewables don’t really mind.

In about three years the target will grow to be above the renewable energy we are producing. Under the law that will mean the price of renewable energy certificates will increase to a shortfall charge of about $93 a megawatt hour in post-tax dollars increasing the burden of the RET threefold.

The producers of renewable energy will once again have their pockets lined thanks to the largesse of the families and businesses that consume energy. Irrigators will pay more to water their crops and we will become even less competitive in steel production. Jobs will be lost.

The RET costs the average family about $50 a year now; in a few years that will probably rise to $150 a year, or half a carbon tax but without the compensation. Every time you open the fridge, the little white light will come on to remind that you are paying for rich investors to make money in renewable energy stocks.

Australia’s renewable energy policies could simply be titled “Robin Hood visits Bizarro World” — they steal from the poor and give to the rich.

For all the Labor Party’s fine words in the cause of social justice and redistribution, when the lights go on those words are shown to be about as robust as a bunch of dead leaves blown along by the wind.


Less talk, more action on reef: Greens
The federal government has been accused of bullying other countries instead of taking action to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will use climate change talks in Peru to argue the reef is not under threat.  She also plans to lobby members of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee not to list the reef as a site in danger and will argue the organisation is at risk of being duped by activists.

Greens senator Larissa Waters says the government is failing to take action and choosing instead to "lobby and bully" other countries.

"Even though the World Heritage Committee recommended a moratorium on damaging developments, the pace of approvals has continued unabated," she said, adding that a long-term plan for the reef failed to address the impacts of climate change.

Senator Waters highlighted approvals given to build mines in the Galilee Basin and the expansion of the controversial Abbot Point coal port near Bowen.

WWF-Australia chief executive Dermot O'Gorman says the reef should not be used as a political football.  "The government's own experts have clearly stated that current management arrangements are not enough to even halt the decline of the reef, let alone reverse the reef's decline," he said.

Queensland opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad says Ms Bishop should put her energy into pressuring Premier Campbell Newman to do more to protect the reef.

Ms Bishop is expected to tell UNESCO an in-danger listing could set a dangerous precedent that could result in World Heritage assets being blacklisted in the countries of committee members.

She will argue Australia has addressed environmental threats to the reef, including those raised by UNESCO such as the dumping of dredge spoil and cutting agricultural runoff.

The World Heritage Committee will meet in June to decide whether to formally declare the reef as an asset in danger.


14 December, 2014


By Dr David Pascoe BVSc PhD

I am a country boy myself.  I grew up in a small Australian town based on farming.  So I understand the anger below.  And I agree that country people are unusually fine people. But I think I need to add something to the story below. 

For a start it is not true that the drought in Western Qld. and NSW has gone unmentioned in the media.  It has been mentioned quite a lot on both radio and TV -- particularly on rural programs.  Though it has admittedly never been front page news.

Secondly, I gather that ANZ bank has recently softened its policies towards drought-hit farmers -- though how helpful that I will be remains to be seen.  It is certainly true that treating farming like any other business is stupidly rigid.  Longer term thinking is needed.

Finally, I am not sure that it is in anybody's best interests to  keep these people on the land.  Australia gets drier the further West you go from the East coast and by the time you get to places like Winton, farming is a very risky gamble. It may rain or it may not.

And it is certain that people taking on debt in a drought are highly likely to be cutting their own throats.  If the drought endures, as it often does, they will have no income for some years and no means of servicing their loans.  So they will then lose the lot.

The proper way to use such dry country for farming is to destock and close the gate once you run out of money.  You then go and get a job somewhere until the rains come again.  If you can get a job nearby you may even be able to do some weekend farming and preserve a small herd or flock as a nucleus for future restocking.  For many however, that way is too hard.  They borrow instead.  And the result of that is REALLY hard

There is of course traditional advice to that effect: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be".  It is outdated advice in many situations but farmers ignore it at their peril.  -- JR

Charlie Phillott, now 87, is a farmer from the ruggedly beautiful Carisbrooke Station at Winton. He has owned his station since 1960, nurtured it and loved it like a part of his own flesh. He is a grand old gentleman, one of the much loved and honoured fathers of his community.

Not so long ago, the ANZ bank came and drove him off his beloved station because the drought had devalued his land and they told him he was considered an unviable risk. Yet Charlie Phillott has never once missed a single mortgage payment.

Today this dignified Grand Old Man of the West is living like some hunted down refugee in Winton, shocked and humiliated and penniless. And most of all, Charlie Phillott is ashamed, because as a member of the Great Generation - those fine and decent and ethical men and women who built this country – he believes that what happened to him was somehow his own fault. And the ANZ Bank certainly wanted to make sure they made him feel like that.

Last Friday my wife Heather and I flew up with Alan Jones to attend the Farmers Last Stand drought and debt meeting in Winton. And after what I saw being done to our own people, I have never been more ashamed to be Australian in my life.

What is happening out there is little more than corporate terrorism: our own Australian people are being bullied, threatened and abused by both banks and mining companies until they are forced off their own land.

So we must ask: is this simply to move the people off their land and free up it up for mining by foreign mining companies or make suddenly newly empty farms available for purchase by Chinese buyers? As outrageous as it might seem, all the evidence flooding in seems to suggest that this is exactly what is going on.

What is the role of Government in all of this? Why have both the State and Federal Government stood back and allowed such a dreadful travesty to happen to our own people? Where was Campbell Newman on this issue? Where was Prime Minister Abbott? The answer is nowhere to be seen.

For the last few months, the Prime Minister has warned us against the threats of terrorism to our nation. We have been alerted to ISIS and its clear and present danger to the Australian people.

Abbott has despatched Australian military forces into the Middle East in an effort to destroy this threat to our own safety and security. This mobilization of our military forces has come at a massive and unbudgeted expense to the average Australian taxpayer which the Prime Minister estimates to be around half a billion dollars each year.

We are told that terrorism is dangerous not only because of the threat to human life but also because it displaces populations and creates the massive human cost of refugees.

Yet not one single newspaper or politician in this land has exposed the fact that the worst form of terrorism that is happening right now is going on inside the very heartland of our own nation as banks and foreign mining companies are deliberately and cruelly forcing our own Australian farmers off the land.

What we saw in the main hall of the Winton Shire Council on Friday simply defied all description: a room filled with hundreds of broken and battered refuges from our own country. It was a scene more tragic and traumatic than a dozen desperate funerals all laced onto the one stage.

Right now, all over the inland of both Queensland and NSW, there is nothing but social and financial carnage on a scale that has never before been witnessed in this nation.

It was 41 degrees when we touched down at the Winton airport, and when you fly in low over this landscape it is simply Apocalyptic: there has not been a drop of rain in Winton for two years and there is not a sheep, a cow, a kangaroo, an emu or a bird in sight. Even the trees in the very belly of the creeks are dying.

There is little doubt that this is a natural disaster of incredible magnitude – and yet nobody – neither state nor the federal government - is willing to declare it as such.

The suicide rate has now reached such epic proportions right across the inland: not just the farmer who takes the walk “ up the paddock” and does away with himself but also their children and their wives. Once again, it has barely been covered by the media, a dreadful masquerade that has assisted by the reticence and shame of honourable farming families caught in these tragic situations.

My wife is one of the toughest women I know. Her family went into North West of Queensland as pioneers one hundred years ago: this is her blood country and these are her people . Yet when she stood up to speak to this crowd on Friday she suddenly broke down: she told me later that when she looked into the eyes of her own people, what she saw was enough to break her heart

And yet not one of us knew it was this bad, this much of a national tragedy. The truth is that these days, the Australian media basically doesn’t give a damn. They have been muzzled and shut down by governments and foreign mining companies to the extent that they are no longer willing to write the real story. So the responsibility is now left to people like us, to social media – and you, the Australian people.

And so the banks have been free to play their games and completely terrorise these people at their leisure. The drought has devalued the land and the banks have seen their opportunity to strike. It was exactly the excuse that they needed to clean up and make a fortune, because once the rains come – as they always do – this land will be worth four to ten times the price.

In fact, when farmers have asked for the payout figures, the banks have been either deeply reluctant or not capable of providing the mortgage trail because they have on-sold the mortgage - just like sub-prime agriculture.

This problem isn’t simply happening in Winton, but rather right across the entire inland across Queensland and NSW. The banks have been bringing in the police to evict Australian famers and their families from their farms, many of them multigenerational. One farmer matter of factly told us it took “oh, about 7 police” to evict him from his first farm and “maybe about twelve” to evict him from his second farm which had been in his family for many generations. You think they are kidding you. Then you see the expression in their eyes.

And there was something far worse in the room on Friday: the fear of speaking out against the banks: when we asked people to tell us who had done this to them, they would immediately start to shake and cry and look away: They have been silenced to protect the good corporate image of their tormentors called the banks. What in God’s name have the bastard banks been allowed to do to our people?

This is a travesty against the rights and the human dignity of every Australian

So it’s only fair that we start to name a few of major banks involved: The ANZ is a major culprit (and they made $7 billion profit last year). Then there is Rabo, which is now owned by Westpac (who paid CEO Gail Kelly a yearly salary of some $12 million) According to all reports, the NAB and Bank West are right in there at the trough as well – and all the rest of them are equally guilty. For any that we have missed, rest assured they will be publicly exposed as well

But here’s the thing: when these people are forced off their farms, they have nowhere to go. There are no refugee services waiting, such is the case for those who attempt to enter the sovereign borders of this nation. The farmers simply drive to the nearest town – that’s if the banks haven’t stripped their cars off them as well - and they try and find somewhere to sleep. Some are sleeping on the backs of trucks in swags. There is basically no home or accommodation made available to take them. They camp out, shocked and broken and penniless – and they are living on weet bix and noodles. If there is someone that can lend a family enough money to buy food, they will: otherwise they are left completely alone.

And consider this: not one of them has asked for help. Not one. They just do the best they can, ashamed and broken and brainwashed by the banks to believe that everything that has happened is completely their own fault

There is not one single word of this from a politicians lips, with the exception of the incredibly courageous father and son team of Bob and Robbie Katter, who organised the Farmers Last Stand meeting. The Katter family have been in the North since the 1890’s, and nobody who sat in that hall last Friday could question their love and commitment to their own people.

There is barely a mention of any of this as well in the newspapers, with the exception of as brief splash of publicity that followed our visit.

The Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce attended the meeting in a bitter blue-funk kind of mood that saw him mostly hunched over and staring at the floor. He had given $100 million of financial assistance in a lousy deal where the Government will borrow at 2.75% and loan it back at 3.21%.

The last thing these people need is another loan: they need a Redevelopment Bank to refinance their own loans: issuing a loan to pay off a loan is nothing more than financial suicide.

The reality is that Joyce cannot get support from what he calls “the shits in Cabinet” to create a desperately needed Redevelopment Bank so that these farmers can get cheap loans to tide them through to the end of the drought.

Our sources suggest that those “shits in Cabinet” include Malcolm Turnbull – Minister for Communications and the uber-cool trendy city-centric Liberal in the black leather jacket:, Andrew Robb – Minster for Trade and Investment and the man behind the free trade deal, the man who suddenly acquired three trendy Sydney restaurants almost overnight, the man who seems to suddenly desperate to sell off our farms to China – and one Greg Hunt, Environment Minister and the man who is instantly approving almost every single mining project that is put in front of him.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we stood and met some of the people in the crowd. My wife talked to women who would hug her for dear life, and when they walked away people would suddenly murmur “oh, she was forced off last week” or “they are being forced off tomorrow” . Not one of them mentioned it to us. They had too much pride.

The Australian people need to be both informed and desperately outraged about what is being done to our own people. This is about every right that was once held dear to us: human rights, property rights, civil rights. And most all, our right to freedom of speech. All of that has been taken away from these people – and the rest of us need to understand that we are probably next.

In the last four weeks the Newman Government has removed all farmers rights to protest to a mine and given mining companies the rights to take all the water they want from the Great Artesian Basin – and at no cost to them at all.

And all of this has happened under the watch of both Premier Newman and Prime Minister Abbott.

Until Friday, we used to think of Winton as the home of Waltzing Matilda: it was written at a local station and first performed in the North Gregory Hotel. I think it was Don McLean who wrote, “something touched me deep inside…the day the music died”… in his song American Pie, and for us, last Friday was the day music died.

We will never be able to sing Waltzing Matilda again until we see some justice for these people, and all the farmers of the inland.

This is no longer the Australia we once knew: no longer our country, no longer our people, no longer the decent caring leaders we once remembered.

Right now, the banks, the mining mates, the corrupt politicians and all the ‘mongrels in suits’ have won – and the Australian people don’t have a clue what has been done to them.

Like the American Depression and the iconic photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, there is a terrible, gaping wound that has been carved across the heartland of this nation.

We need to fully grasp that, and to understand that our people – dignified, decent and honourable old men like Charlie Phillott - have been deliberately terrorized, brutalised – and sold out.

In one sense, Charlie Phillott has become the symbol overnight of every decent Australian: the simple right to live out our lives on the land we love - and the land we are still free to call our own. At least until some dangerously persuaded corrupted trendy liberal theorist decided to strip all that away.

The truth is, no Australian was ever consulted about whether or not they wanted to see their land mined into oblivion or see our precious water poisoned and given away for free, whether they wanted to be driven off their land by the greed of banking executives who saw the chance to make a profit by wiping out the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us.

No Australian was ever consulted about whether or not we wanted to see our beloved homeland sold on the cheap to greedy faceless foreigners just because some slimy two-faced minister managed to convince a weakened prime minster to meekly carry out his bidding.

Nobody has asked us. We the People. Not once.

So if we are ever going to do something, then we’d better realise that its now only two minutes to midnight – so we’d better move fast.


Tide turns on sea-level alarmists

AUSTRALIA is lucky to possess the high-quality, 128-year-long tide gauge record from Fort Denison (Sydney Harbour), which since 1886 indicates a long-term rate of sea-level rise of 0.65mm a year, or 6.5cm a century.

Lucky, because 60-year-long oceanographic atmospheric oscillations mean a true long-term measurement of sea-level rise can be made only when such a record is available.

Similarly low rates of local sea-level rise have been measured at other tide gauges along the east coast. National Tidal Centre records reveal variations between about 5cm and 16cm/century in rates of relative rise. The differ­ences between individual tide gauges mostly represent slightly differing rates of subsidence of the land at each site, and differing time periods.

For example, measurements at Sydney between 2005 and 2014 show the tide gauge site is sinking at a rate of 0.49mm/yr, leaving just 0.16mm/yr of the overall relative rise as representing global sea-level change. Indeed, the rate of rise at Fort Denison, and globally, has been decreasing for the past 50 years.

Despite this high-quality and unalarming data, it is surprising that some east coast councils have implemented coastal planning regulations based on the computer projections of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For instance, a recent consultancy report for the Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla shire councils, informed by IPCC computer model projections, advised those councils to plan using a rate of rise of 3.3mm/yr, four times the rate at Fort Denison.

The numbers were in part based on experimental estimates of sea-level change provided by satellite altimetry measurements. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which launches the satellite platforms, says these estimates contain errors larger than the sea-level signal claimed and proposes spending more than $US100 million on launching a new GRASP satellite to rectify the matter.

Mindful of these facts, on October 28, Shoalhaven Shire Council rejected advice to use the IPCC’s most extreme emissions Scenario 8.5, applying the still highly precautionary Scenario 6.0, and using their nearest long tide gauge record (Fort Denison) to set future planning policy. The council specifically ruled out the future use of satellite or model-generated sea-level estimates until their accuracy is guaranteed.

In mid-2010, the Eurobodalla council, south of Shoalhaven, introduced a unique interim sea level rise policy that shackled more than a quarter of all properties in the shire to restrictive development controls. Predictably, there was an immediate shire-wide decline in property values.

Figures from RP Data property information specialists show that between 2011 and 2014, Eurobodalla property values suffered a 5.3 per cent loss in value compared with increases of 4.9 per cent and 7.3 per cent for neighbouring coastal shires that didn’t have equivalent restrictive sea-level policies. In the worst cases, individual properties have lost up to 52 per cent of their market value.

In three years, individual Eurobodalla properties lost about $40,000 in value. With 22,000 properties in the shire, this represents a capital loss of $880m at a rate of $293m a year. This steady loss of rateable value means householders will face higher rate increases.

If similar policies were implemented along the entire east coast there would be annual property capital losses of billions of dollars.

So it is not surprising that NSW and Queensland governments are reconsidering their coastal management policies.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney recently notified Moreton Bay Regional Council of his intention to direct it to amend its draft planning scheme “to remove any assumption about a theoretical projected sea level rise due to climate change from all and any provisions of the scheme”. Seeney said his intention was to use a statewide coastal mapping scheme “that will remove the ‘one size fits all’ approach that incorporates a mandatory 0.8m addition to historical data”.

At last, a responsible government has recognised that global average sea-level change is no more relevant to coastal management than average global temperatures are to the design of residential heating and cooling systems — local weather and local sea-level change is what matters.

Satellite measurements and computer model projections are not accurate enough for shire planning. As the NSW Chief Scientist has said, coastal policy needs to be informed by the best available factual measurements.

And as Seeney said: “All mandatory elements of the (planning) scheme must reflect only proven historical data when dealing with coastal hazards such as storm tide inundation and erosion control areas.” Similar policies need to be espoused by all state governments and councils.

Sea-level alarmism has passed high tide and is at last declining. With luck, empirical sanity will soon prevail over modelling.


Kinship placements for Aborigines risk creating a Lost Generation

 For six years, the CIS's child protection research has comprehensively explored the major issues facing the child protection system across Australia, and has called for the greater use of adoption to address the systemic problems that impede the proper care and protection of vulnerable children.

However, this research has, up until now, slid over the most sensitive issue - the tragic fact that Indigenous children are many times over-represented in cases of child abuse and neglect.

To talk of adoption in relation to Indigenous children is to invite the politically explosive claim that this would create 'another Stolen Generation'.

This, in part, is the reason why the NSW Government decided to exclude indigenous children from its 2013 adoption-based child protection reforms. Instead, decisions about Indigenous children who need to be removed from their parents for child welfare reasons will continue to be made in accordance with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP).

The ACPP means that all efforts will continue to be made to place children in 'kinship care', preferable with relatives, or members of the local community, or other indigenous people.

The theory behind the ACPP is sound. Child removal practices associated with the Stolen Generations damaged many Indigenous people by denying them contact with their families, communities, and with traditional culture. It therefore makes sense to try to maintain children's cultural identity by placing them close to home if they can't live safely with their families.

The problem, in practice, however, is the social problems in many Indigenous communities, which makes it difficult to reconcile considerations of culture and identity with child welfare.
Indigenous children placed in kinship care can be taken out of the frying pan of family dysfunction only to be placed back into the fire of broader community dysfunction. Hence, recent official inquiries in state and territory child protection systems have noted the "lesser standard care" that can be received by some indigenous children, who are placed into situations that non-Indigenous children would not be placed in order to comply with the ACPP.

What is and isn't done to protect Indigenous children has national implications. Denying Indigenous children the safe and nurturing family environments all children need to thrive threatens to keep open the gaps in social outcomes and opportunities between the most disadvantaged Indigenous Australians and other Australians - gaps that all intelligent Australians acknowledge are our deepest national shame.

This is the thinking behind the CIS's new report. We must address the 'kinship conundrum', and rethink well-intentioned policies such as the ACPP, if we are to 'Close the Gap' and achieve true Reconciliation.

My report therefore challenges much of the thinking behind the ACPP, which I argue is outdated compared with much contemporary Indigenous policy, and compared to modern understandings and definitions of Indigenous identity. What the report does not do is ignore the legacy of the Stolen Generation or deny the importance of maintaining Indigenous children's cultural identity.

What I do argue is that we need, in children's best interests, to find better ways to reconcile cultural identity with child welfare - such as through cultural support and education programs run by Indigenous organisations for Indigenous children who are adopted (or placed in permanent care).


Mum bloggers show dark side of feminist parenting

Former Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham is having a go at feminists again

When the Greens senator Larissa Waters publicly endorsed the No Gender December campaign last week, most people thought it was just another left-feminist brain-snap.  As if buying Barbies for young girls at Christmas condemns them to a lifetime of low self-esteem and repression.

My seven-year-old daughter has a room full of Barbies, yet she’s an incredibly independent, strong-willed and capable young lady.

Over the years, I’ve met prime ministers, presidents and billionaires, but none of them have overwhelmed me with their force of personality the way Siena Latham does.  I’ve always thought the manufacturer puts something in the Barbies to empower her and weaken me – like kryptonite on Superdad.

 Senator Waters and her Green mates are off with the pixies – a fantasy world in which all parts of life are inherently political.

You get up in the morning and go to the toilet: for the Greens, that’s an act of politics. By standing at the urinal, men exercise the power of patriarchy, while women are forced to sit – a vulnerable and submissive position.

You buy your son a Star Wars lightsaber and the dark side will convert him to a lifetime of misogyny. You buy your daughter a pink dress and automatically she’ll be barefoot and pregnant in a public housing estate, denied access to the Anne Summers texts that could set her free.

It’s easy to dismiss No Gender December for what it is: a political sect that extrapolates the simple, everyday parts of life into wacky sociological conspiracies. But it’s more than that.

In the inner suburbs of our major cities, a fascinating experiment is under way. Thousands of children have been locked in a gender-neutral bubble, growing up in households manipulated by their mothers to fit the left-feminist mould. How do we know this? Through the phenomenon of mummy bloggers.


Daily Life, for instance, describes itself as “a proudly female-biased website”. One of its feature writers is Sarah Macdonald, well known for her work on ABC radio.

Like most mummy bloggers, she’s youngish, hip and self-absorbed. Her parenting techniques provide a snapshot of left-feminism in action.

According to Macdonald, “all parents” try to “raise children in a new way, unencumbered by a long, rich history of gender stereotypes”. But then they slip back into old habits, such as when “a mother coos ‘you’re so pretty’ to her baby daughter” or “a father comes home and starts ‘fun time’?”. For any parent inclined to talk about their daughter’s appearance, the answer is clear: call her ugly.

The next MacParenting tip is for mothers to avoid being “the default parent” – the one “who has met the teacher and knows where the favourite T-shirt is buried”.

Macdonald, it seems, is unmoved by research showing parents actively involved in their children’s education help to improve their children’s academic results. If she sees a teacher walking towards her at school pick-up time, apparently she runs the other way. Her bare-chested children (having been unable to find their ­T-shirts that morning) are then forced to chase her down the street.

This prejudice against education is confirmed in other MacParenting recommendations. In trying to avoid the “dad is fun, mum is mean” stereotype, Macdonald admits to having “avoided homework [assistance] for years”, while her “kids have stopped learning their instruments”.

She’s also against participation on school P and Cs, given “it’s another area of unpaid work for women”.

MacParenting hates the idea of dads being seen as “the fun one”. So in divorced families, mothers are advised to “give their kids pizza every night”.

What’s the net outcome of this social experiment? In the name of gender equality, left-feminism is breeding a generation of shirtless, tone-deaf, overweight, pizza-eating dummies – the opposite of what progressive politics is supposed to achieve.

At the Macdonald laboratory, the results are clear: “My daughter is far more willing to whack [people] than my son and she is not a hugger”.

Here in outer-western Sydney, I couldn’t live without my daughter’s hugs. Thank goodness we’re the antithesis of nutty Green feminism.


Australia’s Secret War: How Unions Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II

BOOK REVIEW of "Australia’s Secret War"

Hal Colebatch’s new book, Australia’s Secret War, tells the shocking, true, but until now largely suppressed and hidden story of the war waged from 1939 to 1945 by a number of key Australian trade unions against their own society and against the men and women of their own country’s fighting forces at the time of its gravest peril. His conclusions are based on a broad range of sources, from letters and first-person interviews between the author and ex-servicemen to official and unofficial documents from the archives of World War II.

Between 1939 and 1945 virtually every major Australian warship, including at different times its entire force of cruisers, was targeted by strikes, go-slows and sabo­tage. Australian soldiers operating in New Guinea and the Pacific Islands went without food, radio equipment and munitions, and Aus­tralian warships sailed to and from combat zones without ammunition, because of strikes at home. Planned rescue missions for Australian prisoners-of-war in Borneo were abandoned because wharf strikes left rescuers without heavy weapons. Officers had to restrain Australian and American troops from killing striking trade unionists.


12 December, 2014

Peru climate talks drift off target as Australian representatives  fly in

As Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb prepare to arrive in Lima to represent Australia at the annual United Nations climate negotiations, deep divisions are emerging over whether a deal to be reached in Paris next year will include legally binding targets.

The US says national targets should be voluntary – a position that has won the support of leading Australian economist Ross Garnaut.

But the European Union has claimed that voluntary targets will not provide the necessary long-term certainty to make the cuts in carbon dioxide emissions needed to prevent dangerous climate change. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has now made a similar argument, saying a deal without legally binding commitments would be nothing more than aspirations.

The debate came amid a new stoush over climate finance to be provided by wealthy countries to those still developing. The Abbott government has made it clear that it believes the bulk of money should be paid by industry. That contrasts with its position at home, where it has set up a $2.5 billion fund of taxpayers' money to pay industry to cut emissions.

The two-week Lima conference started positively last week, but began to get bogged down by week's end. The US wants a Paris deal to focus on emissions reduction pledges, but developing countries want to see a greater focus on measures to help the most vulnerable adapt and a stronger link between climate finance paid by the wealthy and the target of limiting the temperature rise by 2 degrees.

Australia has faced criticism from China over its refusal to give any money to the Green Climate Fund. The fund has received $9.7 billion, including pledges from the US, France, Germany, Japan and Canada.

In an interview with Associated Press,  Ms Bishop said Australia would continue to directly pay for climate-change adaptation in vulnerable South Pacific island nations through its aid budget rather than donate to a UN fund designed for the same purpose.

"The Green Climate Fund is about supporting developing countries build resilience to climate change. Australia is already doing that through our aid program," she said.

Ms Bishop said her message to the conference would be "that the new agreement should establish a common playing field for all countries to take climate action from 2020" and to call for commitments from all major economies to cut emissions.

She said any deal in Paris needed to be legally binding, and that Australia wanted to see the detail of a US-China emissions deal struck ahead of the Peru conference.

"China has already said that it will continue business as usual until 2030. We want to know whether there's some sort of binding commitment," she said.

A report by US and Chinese academics last year found that for China's emissions to peak and start reducing by 2030, as it plans, it would require significantly more action than business as usual practice.

The legal status of national targets that countries will offer up as part of a new comprehensive agreement in Paris was left deliberately vague in the so-called Durban Platform agreed to in 2011. It said the talks would lead to a "protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force".

But EU lead negotiator Elina Bardram said in Lima last week that legally binding targets were needed to provide confidence for investors.

"The EU is of the mind that legally binding mitigation targets are the only way to provide the necessary long term signal," The Guardian quoted Ms Bardram as saying.

"We're not convinced that an alternative approach could provide the same signals that would be sufficient to deliver the global momentum."

US lead climate negotiator Todd Stern said previous approaches that involved legally binding commitments did not work.

"You could assign every country a particular reduction that on paper looks like a perfect result and then you can't get an agreement on it. This [a deal with voluntary commitments] is a way to get everyone in. It's not going to be perfect, but it's a strong start that would get better and better," he said.

Professor Garnaut told Fairfax Media that while countries can make "serious domestic political commitments", it would be counter-productive to demand they enter into a binding legal commitment. Countries would be more likely to be more ambitious if the targets they set were voluntary, as occurred at a 2010 UN meeting in Cancun.

"We shouldn't be aiming for a legally binding agreement," Professor Garnaut said. "We now know that even if we couldn't recognise it at the time, that at this stage of history that is neither feasible not desirable.

"The ambition of the concerted unilateral commitments at Cancun were much greater than the notionally legally binding commitments at Kyoto [in 1997]. There is good reason for that; when negotiators think they are binding their countries, they are more cautious than when countries are honestly thinking they can do, but there is less sense of the catastrophic consequences if they don't."

Climate finance has so far dominated conference talks. The US pushed to delete words in a negotiating paper stating that financial commitments should be "new and additional", predictable and adequate. The US was supported by Switzerland,which said that unless a call for new commitments of finance post-2020 was left out of the final text, there would be no agreement in Lima.

A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme has found that even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to the level required to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees this century, the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries is likely to reach two to three times the previous estimates of $70-100 billion per year by 2050. Adaptation costs for Africa alone could reach approximately $350 billion annually by 2070.


No, the rich don’t pay a ‘fair share’ of tax. They pay all of it

You have to include what people get back from the government

THE degree of ignorance about the distribution of tax across households is remarkable, especially given that the truth is so easily and freely accessible. For politicians perhaps it is wilful; the facts suit neither side.

The Left typically tries to create the impression the “rich” aren’t paying their “fair share”. Consider former treasurer Wayne Swan’s attacks on “mining billionaires” and welfare groups’ continual prattling about the financial benefit of concessional super taxation to high-income earners.

The Right, meanwhile, evokes the ordinary, “battling” taxpayer, whose hard-won earnings, so the argument goes, are siphoned off to pay for inefficient or ineffective government programs.

But the overwhelming bulk of people in Australia pay no net tax at all. High-income earners have become a giant pinata that the majority hit for extra money to pay for whatever new social spending programs the political class proposes to stay in office.

Our constitutional democracy, rather than safeguarding a set of inviolable tax rules applied under the rule of law, has become an elaborate mechanism for extracting resources from a small minority for the much larger majority. A crude summary might be “pay up or else”.

Only the top fifth of households ranked by their income - those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year in the financial year ending June 2012 - pay anything into the system net of the value of social security in cash and kind received, according to data from the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of household income.

The distribution of personal income tax - the federal government’s biggest source of revenue, raising about 45 per cent of the total ($165 billion this year) - is far more progressive than headline marginal tax rates suggest. Including the 1.5 per cent Medicare levy, Australia’s income tax rates range from 19 per cent for every dollar of income above $18,200 to 46.5 per cent for every dollar above $180,000. Most taxpayers face a 34.5 per cent marginal rate.

But average income tax rates on households’ privately generated income (ordinarily wages and salaries, but dividends and rental income too) ranged from 1.5 per cent for the bottom fifth of households in 2012 to 22 per cent for the top fifth.

The 1.73 million households in the middle quintile paid an average tax rate of 12.3 per cent on average incomes of $88,900. But the ABS survey estimates these households received $31 a week in Age Pension payments, $13 in disability payments, $48 in child-related payments and $12 in unemployment benefits, along with a host of others that whittle their average net tax payments down to $84 a week.

This sort of analysis excludes the value of government benefits beyond cash: “free” schools, hospitals, public transport and the like, which the ABS estimated to be $413 a week for these middle-ranked households. Netting everything off shows even “average”, let alone lower-income, households got back $2.70 for every $1 they paid in tax. Households in the bottom quintile enjoyed benefits worth more than 320 times what they paid in tax compared with about 10 times for those in the second-lowest quintile.

Notwithstanding the enormous variation in the circumstances of individuals and households within each of these five buckets - for instance, childless, healthy workers will pay in much more than unemployed families with sick children - the disparities are as remarkable as they are little-known.

Factoring in payment of “regressive” taxes such as the GST and tobacco and alcohol excise doesn’t appear to alter the overall picture. Every six or so years the ABS painstakingly distributes the burden of these “taxes on production” across households, based on estimated consumption patterns.

In the financial year ending June 2010, what one might call “holistic average tax rates” (including indirect and direct taxes and net of social security in cash and kind) ranged from -64 per cent for the bottom quintile, to -22 per cent for median households and 13 per cent for the top fifth of households.

Put simply, only the top fifth of households paid any tax. The bottom 6.9 million households, while often incurring income tax liabilities and regularly paying GST, received more in cash welfare and services than they paid in.

The concentration of the tax burden on higher-income earners would be starker still if the many tens of thousands of senior local, state and federal public servants - whose salaries often exceed $200,000 a year - were considered a cost. One could argue that the taxes paid by workers whose jobs depend on taxing other workers are akin to a cash refund to everyone else, rather than an organic contribution.

It is absurd to claim the “rich” - assuming incomes rather than wealth are the defining criterion - aren’t paying their “fair share” of tax when they in fact pay all of it. Equally, to argue that the “average” worker is subsidising government folly is difficult given that their aggregate benefits exceed the tax they pay.

Without making any judgment about the merits or fairness of the status quo, the burden appears to be shifting further toward higher-income earners. Comparing the 2003-04 and 2009-10 financial years, holistic average tax rates fell on average 8.2 percentage points for the bottom three income quintiles, but only 4.6 per cent for the top two quintiles.

It is still difficult to explain why these rates fell because there are so many moving parts to the social security and income tax systems. Of course, lower tax rates do not imply that less tax is collected: the level and growth rates of income across income quintiles varies and a one-percentage-point drop in average tax rates for higher-income earners has far greater consequences for revenue than much bigger changes for others.

Separate data from the Australian Taxation Office confirm rising progressivity. Based on income tax returns from the 2010-11 financial year, the top 1 per cent of individual income earners - who in the 2010-11 tax year were those with taxable incomes of more than $281,800 a year - paid $23.55bn or 17.7 per cent of the total income tax haul, up from 17 per cent in 2009-10.

Meanwhile, the top 10 per cent of taxpayers - with taxable incomes of more than $105,500 - paid 46 per cent, up from 45.3 per cent a year earlier. The bottom third paid less than 5 per cent in both periods.

The highly and increasingly progressive nature of Australia’s tax burden is clear, but why?

First, income tax becomes more progressive every year without any deliberate change because of what economists call “fiscal drag”. Because the income tax thresholds are fixed in nominal terms and prices tend to rise, every year more taxpayers are pushed into ever-higher tax brackets and larger portions of their real incomes are taxed at higher rates.

Also, most people earn relatively little. While the ABS reports that average annual earnings for individuals were $74,000 a year last May, this figure doesn’t reflect typical circumstances because the “average” is an irrelevant socio-economic metric, increasingly undermined by rare but very large individual incomes. According to the 2011 census, the median household income, which is unaffected by outliers, was only $64,100.

Within advanced countries, the distribution of incomes has become more and more skewed since the 1980s, albeit less rapidly here than in the US and Britain. Economists debate vigorously whether this is because globalisation has boosted the financial returns to innovation, talent and skilled work, or whether the corporate (especially the finance) sector has become more skilled at extracting income at the expense of everyone else (”rent seeking”).

Regardless, burgeoning incomes at the top have given governments a lucrative and politically attractive revenue source. Both major political parties in Australia have been able to promise extra, vote-winning government spending that increasingly overwhelms growth in taxes paid by the vast bulk of the population.

The Labor government’s decision to lift the Medicare levy to 2 per cent from this July to partly pay for the forthcoming disability insurance scheme is a good recent example. For its part, the Coalition wants to impose a temporary “levy” on big companies’ profits (which will reduce dividend income flowing to upper-income earners) to pay for its paid parental leave scheme.

The massive disparity between gross and net payments of tax - 12.6 million people lodged income tax returns in 2010-11 - suggests “churn” is rampant and an immensely complex system is rife for rationalisation: we have more than 100 different taxes across three tiers of government interacting with a multitude of social security services in cash and kind.

The administrative costs of collecting taxes - especially income tax - are large, not to mention the damage they cause to enterprise and effort.

Cutting cash social security along with the first few marginal income tax rates, for instance, would create a more honest tax system and prompt a virtuous cycle of reducing welfare dependency, boosting employment to boot. By converting “in-kind” social security to cash, state governments could provide parents with a voucher to spend on schools administered in the private sector, would help to boost transparency.

Only a tiny share of the population were eligible for the very low rates of income tax that emerged in English-speaking countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the scope and size of governments have soared since then, the price of civilisation still, rightly, falls disproportionately on the richest.

The distribution of tax is not the problem but its growth as a share of national income is (along with undue focus on income rather than wealth as the determinant of someone’s capacity to pay).

Critics tend to argue that ever-greater taxes drive economic activity overseas and reduce the incentive to work, undermining growth. These are valid arguments but they do not answer the question of what is the most desirable “inequality-economic growth” trade-off.

No number of studies showing that rising tax rates stifle growth, however statistically persuasive, will match glib, emotional arguments that the “rich” can “afford” to pay, so we should make them. The moral case for fixed, reasonable taxesmay resonate more than the pure economic one. Arbitrary increases in taxes to pay for services the market can and should provide offend the rule of law and erode individual property rights.


10 myths about Gough Whitlam

1. He got us out of Vietnam.

Australian military commitment was almost complete by December 1972.  A proclamation by the Governor-General on January 11, 1973, means Whitlam officially ended our involvement in the war, putting him in the history books. But it doesn't tell the full story. Whitlam did abolish conscription, which sometimes gets conflated with this issue.

2. He abolished the White Australia policy.

A fading myth. Commentators, Bob Carr being the most recent, give a greater role to the Coalition's Harold Holt. Whitlam did abolish the vestiges. Yes, a bit like the vestiges of Australian involvement in Vietnam.

3. He ran a big immigration program.

Yes and no. Multiculturalism is unambiguously a legacy of Whitlam, but the all-white, all-male cabinet embraced it warily. The first half of the government featured, in Al Grassby, an immigration minister who won plenty of publicity, favourable and not so, for his flamboyant style and lairy dress sense. After Grassby's electoral defeat in May 1974 immigration was scaled back in response to the economic crisis. And Whitlam's unwillingness to allow Vietnamese anti-communist refugees into Australia is regarded now as hideous racism.

4. He saved us from the whitebread Australia.

Or as Paul Keating puts it: "He snapped Australia out of the Menzian torpor - the orthodoxy that had rocked the country asleep - giving it new vitality and focus."

 The Liberal governments between the retirement of Robert Menzies in 1966 and defeat in 1972 did their own bit of snapping Australia out of the torpor. Don Chipp, minister for customs, unbanned many novels and liberalised film censorship, introducing the R certificate for previously banned films.

 Anyway, what's this about Menzies? He was the only prime minister Whitlam rated as competition to his place in the history books.

5. He swept to power in a landslide, thrashing Billy McMahon in 1972.

Labor won a healthy popular vote (49.59 per cent) but Labor was the sole party on the left, apart from the Australia Party. It is more accurate to say Australia cleaved towards Whitlam, decisively but narrowly. The two-party-preferred vote of 52.7 per cent to Labor, 47.3 to the Coalition, is a fair reflection of this.

6. Australia in 1972 was fed up with the Liberals.

A more contemporary account of the era was provided by someone deep in the Labor camp, Graham Freudenberg, speechwriter to Calwell, Whitlam, Wran and Hawke. He wrote (A Certain Grandeur, 1977) that 1972 was Australia's happiest year, with "a brilliant balance between hope for better things and satisfaction with the present; between expectation and experience; between a desire for change and enjoyment of the present. It was a time of general good humour and general goodwill such as Australians have not shared before."

Which is not to say that by 1972 there was a huge cohort who felt their needs had been neglected - indigenous Australians, "women's libbers".  And gays were hardly on the radar. Which leads to the next myth:

7. Whitlam was a radical reformer who rushed at everything with a near-revolutionary haste.

He was much more a gradualist, a legislator, a parliamentarian. His style infuriated the hard left, which only rallied behind him at the outset of the constitutional crisis in October 1975.  Whitlam did preside over the first legalisation of homosexuality - in the ACT, under federal jurisdiction then,  in 1973. Oddly that's a reform he doesn't get credited for.

8. Whitlam betrayed East Timor.

Whitlam remains a bogy figure to advocates of East Timor's independence and opponents of the Indonesian occupation of 1975 to 1999.  That United States President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were in Jakarta on  December 7, 1975, and did not demur when President Suharto told  them of the impending invasion, is of far greater significance than anything Australia might have said to Indonesia.

Whitlam believed an independent East Timor was not a viable nation. His assessment is at least arguable.

9. Rupert Murdoch brought Gough down.

Yes, News Corp papers ran a partisan campaign against Whitlam in 1975 that disgusted a segment of their readership, in a precursor to the anti-Labor coverage of the 2013 election. But many Murdoch papers recommended a Labor vote in 1972.  For the record, the Herald did not endorse Labor until 1961, and not again until 1984.

10. He said all the stuff people quote him on.

Maybe he did, but some stories have been embellished. If I've heard a different location and time once for the anecdote that ends "Both sides, comrade", I've heard it three times.

In some ways the Whitlam myth is the reality. The Liberals have been slow to embrace their role in the history of Australian progressivism. And even when our heroes have feet of clay, we still put them on the pedestal.


Corruption on the run. The High Court of Australia – ICAC / Margaret Cunneen case

The NSW judiciary seem to be digging in to try to protect corruption in the legal fraternity in the Margaret Cunneen matter. We are now off to the High Court of Australia to see what they have to say. It is really the last stand by the judiciary as their own days of widespread corruption are coming to an end and they know it.

On Friday (5/12/14) NSW Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen won an appeal stopping an inquiry by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) into allegations that Ms Cunneen acted corruptly. Cunneen and the 2 judges that found in her favour have achieved nothing except to damage the reputation of the NSW Supreme Court.

ICAC issued a press release within a few hour of the judgement which said:

“Today’s majority decision of the NSW Court of Appeal with respect to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)’s Operation Hale public inquiry fundamentally affects the scope of the Commission’s powers to conduct investigations into corrupt conduct.” (Operation Hale is the name given to the investigation into Margaret Cunneen)

“It is critical to the exercise of the Commission’s powers generally that the construction of section 8 of the ICAC Act is settled.”

“Accordingly, the ICAC will seek leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.”


It was announced in early November that ICAC would hold public hearings to investigate Margaret Cunneen in relation to allegations she tried to pervert the course of justice. It is alleged Cunneen advised her son’s girlfriend to fake chest pains to avoid being breath tested when she was in a car crash.

ICAC had been investigating Margaret Cunneen for several months, which was unknown to the public at the time, and summoned her to a secret hearing on the 1st of August 2014.  Obviously the secret hearing with Cunneen did not go well for her and ICAC decided to have a public hearing into the whole affair.

Ms Cunneen, her son Stephen Wyllie and girlfriend Sophia Tilly instituted proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court to stop the ICAC investigation.  The Chief Judge at Common Law, Clifton Hoeben, heard the case and dismissed it.

Ms Cunneen, Mr Wyllie and Ms Tilley then appealed. The appeal succeeded with Justice Basten and Justice Ward upholding the appeal and Chief Justice Tom Bathurst who was the third judge dissenting.

As it currently stands we have 2 judges dismissing Ms Cunneen’s case and two upholding it. Now it is in the hands of the High Court of Australia to decide the matter.

The legal argument

What Margaret Cunneen’s barrister argued in court was total garbage and the two Judges who upheld the case should be ashamed. The argument was a technicality that what Cunneen was alleged to have done did not fall within the laws that give ICAC the power to investigate corruption. If you look at section 8(2) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 it is so broad it covers everything and anything.

(2) Corrupt conduct is also any conduct of any person (whether or not a public official) that adversely affects, or that could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the exercise of official functions by any public official, any group or body of public officials or any public authority and which could involve any of the following matters:

(a) official misconduct (including breach of trust, fraud in office, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, oppression, extortion or imposition), (b) bribery, (c) blackmail, (d) obtaining or offering secret commissions, (e) fraud, (f) theft, (g) perverting the course of justice, (h) embezzlement, (i) election bribery, (j) election funding offences, (k) election fraud, (l) treating, (m) tax evasion, (n) revenue evasion, (o) currency violations, (p) illegal drug dealings, (q) illegal gambling, (r) obtaining financial benefit by vice engaged in by others, (s) bankruptcy and company violations, (t) harbouring criminals, (u) forgery, (v) treason or other offences against the Sovereign, (w) homicide or violence, (x) matters of the same or a similar nature to any listed above, (y) any conspiracy or attempt in relation to any of the above. (Click here to read more)

The laws being broad is the way it needs to be so that it gives ICAC the power to leave no stone unturned in investigating corruption.

The 2 judges who upheld the appeal said:

“The alleged conduct could amount to an attempt to pervert the course of justice but it was not “corrupt conduct” within the meaning of s 8(2) as it could not be said a police officer (or other public official) might be led to exercise his or her powers improperly”.

That is garbage and will be overturned by the High Court otherwise the High Court will embarrass themselves.

Chief Justice Bathurst said: “Conduct will have an adverse effect where it limits or prevents the proper performance of a public official’s functions. The alleged conduct fell within the meaning of s 8(2) as it had the potential to divert the police officer from investigating a suspected offence”.

What Bathurst said is basic logic and common sense. Justice Basten and Justice Ward who upheld the appeal knew they were handing down a dodgy judgement. The positive of it going to the High Court is that it will greatly limit the scope for these types of dodgy appeals in the future. If it doesn’t the government will have to change the laws so it does.


Official: Nearly half of us are happy little Vegemites and eat the classic Aussie spread every day

It's the quintessential way for Australians to start their day - and now a new study has revealed how many people eat Vegemite for breakfast on a typical day.

The Roy Morgan research found that of the 7,550,000 people who eat the iconic spread in an average week, 6,405,000 were born in Australia.

This figure equates to 45 per cent of people born in Australia and 83 per cent of the world's total consumption.

By comparison, 43 per cent of New Zealanders, 30 per cent of those born in the UK or Ireland and just 12 per cent of Asian-born residents eat a yeast-based spread in an average week.

Meanwhile, jam is the most popular spread among people born in the UK or Ireland with 39 per cent eating the spread in an average week.

Those born elsewhere in Europe, 38 per cent, and Asia, 28 per cent, prefer honey as their spread of choice, while those born in the US are most likely to eat peanut butter at 49 per cent.

'With its unique taste and unappealing appearance, Vegemite inspires either love or hate in people,' said Angela Smith, Group Account Director of Roy Morgan Research.


11 December, 2014

Amazing:  Teachers supporting RESEARCH into educational methods

A change from the "we just know" approach of the  past.  Maybe they have finally learnt something from the failure of their treasured "look and learn" method of teaching literacy

The Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA) is proud to announce the establishment of an independent, competitive research grant available to researchers to conduct research with teachers and students in primary schools.

The grant of up to $75,000 will be made available annually to enable researchers to undertake research around the efficacy of different pedagogical approaches to the teaching of English in the primary school setting and will involve teachers and schools as research partners. The researchers will be expected to work collaboratively to report the research in a manner which is relevant to the PETAA membership and the broader education community.

On announcing the research grants, PETAA President, Associate Professor Robyn Cox, commented that to the best of our knowledge no other professional association of teachers has made a financial commitment of this magnitude, and in cash, to fund original research in Australia.

The grant further confirms PETAA’s ongoing commitment in support of educational research in the field of literacy; an initiative embedded within PETAA’s new Strategic Plan.

 The Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA) is a leading national teacher professional association supporting the teaching of English and literacy in Australian primary schools


The Australian Left loves Islam too

Socialist President of France, Francois Hollande claimed recently that, “Islam is perfectly compatible with the values of France". Labor Leader in Australia, Bill Shorten claimed recently that, “Labor stands shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s Islamic community”.

As ISIS prepares to publicly behead another Westerner, Shorten went on to say in an open letter to Islamic leaders, “ISIS has no right to use the name of Islam”.

He continued, “The Islamic story in Australia has a rich history and grows stronger each year. Australia’s Muslim community continues to do our nation a great service by fostering enduring cultural and religious harmony.

“Australian multiculturalism”, said Shorten, “is a story of cultural enrichment, social cohesion [!!!!] and economic growth and it is a story that the Labor Party is committed to and will always defend.

“Labor will continue to work with you to stop misinformation, bigotry and prejudice directed at the Australian Islamic community.”

France, which has had an enduring love affair with Socialism and a history of flirting with Communism, is now suffering under violent Islamic oppression and is increasingly reliant on vigilante groups to protect French nationals.

Swathes of major cities are under Shariah Law where no gendarme dares go as five million Muslims declare whole electorates as caliphates.

Hollande grabbed a surveyed 95% of Muslim votes in 2012 but has since sunk to his lowest popularity rating yet in the wake of his lack of support for Hamas in Gaza, his attempts to protect French Jews from Islamic gangs intent on murdering them, a burkah ban and some serious legislation against the more outrageous of Islamic excesses.

A serious lesson lies ahead for Shorten: “If you decide to support Islam, don’t ever turn your back on it.”

Shorten has ignored an evil Islamic agenda in his grovelling rush to gain its electoral support with stupid statements like, “ISIS has no right to use the name of Islam”. Muslims don’t really want to hear that Bill because, unlike you, they understand that ISIS is a proponent of, and is symbolic of, the purest form of Islam... the original hadith of Shariah law that every good Muslim aspires to... Wahhabism!

And Abbott’s pathetic attempt to substitute its correct name of the “Islamic State” with the “Death Cult” doesn’t alter its vile agenda one iota.

If what Bill Shorten says is true, where are the protesting “moderate” Muslims, where are the placards denouncing ISIS atrocities, where are the signs saying, “ISIS is not Us”, “Stop beheading innocent aid workers”, “Stop raping women and children”, “Stop the massacres”?

Nup, not one placard to be seen.

Perhaps Muslims are shy people, averse to overt political activism? Not really, because there are plenty of signs saying, “Behead all those who insult Islam”, “The Caliphate is coming”, “Democracy is evil” and “Islam will dominate the World”.

And where are Bill’s army of Labor feminists? Why haven’t they asked Muslim women to join them in marching with signs saying, “Stop female sexual disfigurement”, “Stop the paedophilia”, “Stop honour killings”, "Bigamy is illegal”, “Burkahs debase us”?

Nup, don’t see any of those placards around either.

What the world sees now from ISIS is the very essence of Islam and no Muslim will deny it without invoking the law of takiyya which legally condones the act lying if it furthers the cause of Islam.

The ISIS atrocities are the exact same atrocities committed in every single war in history, the only difference is that these atrocities are graphically documented and uploaded to Youtube to excite everyone everywhere to, “come join us”, and they do. But only Muslims do.

It’s amazing what is ignored by both sides of politics when it comes to an electoral advantage.

Pandering to, placating or appeasing Islam is a sign of weakness it welcomes.

Rather than politely ask serpents not to inject their lethal poison into you, you must either release them to where they can do no harm or sever their heads.

...and their heads are always found in mosques, on Fridays.


Australia: Green and Defenceless

As Australia’s industrial capacity declines, Australia is becoming green and defenceless. Australia should give support to industrial diversity, not windmills etc.

History holds lessons.  Back in Dec 1941, Japan suddenly attacked the huge US Naval base at Pearl Harbour. Three days later, two “invincible” British warships, “Repulse” and “Prince of Wales” were sunk by Japanese planes off Malaya. Soon Japanese armies were rampaging through Asia towards Australia. By Feb 1942, the British fortress of Singapore surrendered and Japanese bombs were falling on Darwin. By Sept 1942 the Japanese army had slashed their way down the Kokoda Track and could see the lights of Port Moresby. They were looking across Torres Strait to Australia. At that time, most of our trained soldiers were fighting Rommel in North Africa or in Japanese prison camps.

Suddenly Australia was on its own and needed to defend itself with what we had here.

Armies need soldiers, weapons, bullets, vehicles, fuel, food, alcohol (and cigarettes).

Soldiers volunteered and were conscripted. Australian conscripts formed part of the force that met the Japanese on the Kokoda Track.

Enfield Rifles, Bren Guns and Vickers Machine Guns were produced in large numbers at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow supported by feeder factories in the area. Britain lost so many weapons at Dunkirk that Australian factories were sending guns to them. We could not do that now.

Motor oil was produced in limited quantities from oil shale at Glen Davis, but petrol was in serious short supply, and had been rationed since 1940. With the fall of Singapore, this shortage became severe, and charcoal burners suddenly appeared to keep cars and trucks moving. Kerosene was scarce so carbide lights were widely used. The demand for charcoal was so great that firewood became scarce so it was also rationed.

To conserve supplies for soldiers, rationing was introduced for tea, clothing, butter, sugar, meat and cigarettes. Hotels were only allowed to serve alcohol twice a day for one hour at a time of their choosing.

An immediate critical shortage was copper for cartridge cases and communications – Australia had mines producing lead, zinc, silver, gold and iron, but there was a critical shortage of copper.

Fortuitously, just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, an exploration drill hole at Mount Isa had struck rich copper ore.

Mount Isa was called on to avert a calamitous shortage of copper in Australia. With government encouragement, Mount Isa Mines made the brave decision to suspend the profitable silver/lead/zinc operations and convert all mining and treatment facilities to extracting copper.

The lead concentrator could be converted to treat copper ore, but the biggest problem was how to smelt the copper concentrates. Luckily the company had skilled engineers and metallurgists in the lead smelter. In a miracle of improvisation, scrap steel and spare parts were purchased and scavenged from old mines and smelters from Cloncurry, Mt Elliott, Mt Cuthbert and Kuridala and cobbled into a workable copper smelter.

In 1943 the first Mount Isa blister copper was produced. Production continued after the war when Mount Isa returned to extracting the then more profitable silver/lead/zinc. Later new plant was built enabling both lead and copper metal to be produced from this fabulous mine.

This story of the importance of self-reliance has lessons for today.

The war on carbon energy, the carbon tax, the renewable energy targets, escalating electricity costs and the voices in Parliament calling for Emissions Trading Schemes have all unnerved our big users of carbon fuels and electricity. Smelting and refining have become threatened industries in Australia, and closure of the Mount Isa copper smelter and the Townsville copper refinery has been foreshadowed.

Already six major metal smelting/refining operations have closed in Australia this century and more are likely. The closures have affected copper, lead, zinc, steel and aluminium – the sinews of modern industry. And the car industry, with all its skills and tools, is closing.

More and more land and offshore waters are totally closed to exploration and mining. Offshore exploration for oil is very limited, except in the north-west. On land, there is no exploration in green no-go areas and the “lock-the-gate” rent-a-crowd are trying to prevent gas explorers from drilling even on their own exploration tenements.

Local production and refining of oil is also declining, and it was estimated recently that by next year, half of Australia’s oil refining capacity will have closed. In the event of a disruption to tanker routes, Australia has just 12 days of diesel supplies before city fuel and food supplies start to dry up. Will we see charcoal burners on cars and trucks once again?

Heavy industry is scorned, and is migrating to Asia. We are losing the resources, skills and machinery needed for our own security, while we fritter away precious resources on green energy, direct action, carbon capture and storage and other pointless anti-carbon chimeras.

Our foolish green energy policies and the suicidal war on carbon fuels are killing real industry leaving us unskilled and defenceless – like a fat toothless walrus basking on a sunny beach.

Wake up Australia.


ABC staff cuts

James Delingpole comments

Australia's national broadcaster ABC has reportedly been staging brutal, Hunger-Games-style contests in order to decide which of its excess staff are for the chop.

If this is the plan I don't think it's going to work. The people at ABC are all, basically, Capitol-style pansy sybarites. They wouldn't know what to do with a bow and arrow or a gun because they mostly eat tofu and think that hunting is for savages. None of them would make a dash for all those exciting weapons and supplies in the Cornucopia at the beginning. Instead, they would run squealing for their lives into the forest where they would quickly succumb to Flat White deprivation or be eaten by Australia's totally out-of-control population of saltwater crocodiles. Or, if they fled into the sea, by Australia's out-of-control killer shark population.

Those of you who think I am being unduly unsympathetic towards my hapless fellow journalists' plight clearly haven't experienced ABC at close quarters. I have. ABC swings so far to the left it makes the BBC look like Fox News. Hence all the protests led earlier this week by the leader of Australia's opposition Labor party Bill Shorten about the $254 million spending cuts being forced on ABC by Tony Abbott's Coalition government.

Shorten whinged: "This is a government of savages, ripping at the heart of our national institution...Our ABC has always been here for us. It is now time for us to be there for the ABC."

(Note, incidentally, that nauseatingly twee use of "our", as in "our" NHS. Has someone been taking lessons from David Cameron? If so, my advice is: don't. It just makes the listener want to vomit. Well, it does if he's a taxpayer.)

When Shorten says "Our ABC has always been here for us", what he means by "us" is "metropolitan, liberal-lefties and greenies." It's essentially just a propaganda mouthpiece for every progressive cause going. The only time you see a conservative or libertarian type on the ABC is when he has been invited on - as I was to Jon Faine's show in Melbourne - in order be sneered at, reviled and dissed.

Which, of course, is the real reason that Abbott is cutting ABC's budget. Why wouldn't he? ABC (with its smaller sister organisation SBS) currently receives $1.4 billion a year in government funding - a fair chunk of which it uses to slag off Tony Abbott's administration.

In any case, like so many public sector organisations, the ABC is bloated, flabby, overindulged. On my tour of Australia a couple of years ago, I was particularly struck by the contrast between my experiences of recording a radio interview first at the ABC and then later one with Australia's most popular independent radio host Alan Jones.

The ABC interview was conducted amid opulence worthy of Ceausescu's palace. There were atriums, potted plants, multiple door staff, with lots and lots of space, a large workforce and everything new and shiny.

The Alan Jones interview was conducted at the back of a scrubby car park, in a box, with just the producer to let me in, give me a cup of tea and produce the show.

This, as Australia's Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull noted in a rather good speech, is the problem with publicly funded broadcasters. "There simply isn't the same relentless, daily pressure to innovate, to cut costs, to lift productivity that there is in the private sector."


10 December, 2014

Yippee! Australia ranked worst-performing developed nation on climate policy

And Canada is not far behind

Australia is the worst-performing developed nation when it comes to climate-change action, with the Abbott government's scrapping of the carbon price cementing its lowly ranking, a survey by European non-government organisations shows.

Australia ranked 57 out of 58 nations reviewed by the survey, which has been done each year since 2005 by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch. Only Saudi Arabia fared worse.

The ranking is based on indicators ranging from carbon dioxide emissions per capita to share of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Australians emitted about 16.7 tonnes of CO2 per person in 2012.

"While the developed world is going in one direction, Australia is going in the opposite," said Guy Ragen, a climate change campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation, which helped compile the findings.

Mr Ragen, who was formally an adviser to Labor's Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, said Australia's relatively modest emissions reduction goals and high per capita pollution made the country a poor performer even before the carbon price was scrapped in July.

That move caused Australia's policy rating to slump 21 places in the latest survey.

The government has also been attempting to win Senate support to cut the Renewable Energy Target, set at 41 tarawhata-hours a year by 2020.

"You'll have to assume [the policy rating] will get worse," Mr Ragen said.

The introduction of the carbon price had led to a reduction of emissions from the power sector, a process being reversed now. Pitt & Sherry, an energy consultancy, estimated last week the rise in emissions from the electricity industry since the end of the carbon prices would lift the nation's CO2 pollution level by 1.4 per cent if the increase was to continue for a year.

The report's release comes as key talks take place in Lima, Peru, on getting a climate treaty finalised by late next year.  Australia will be represented during this week's high-level section of the talks by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Fairfax Media sought comment from Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who was not sent to the Lima talks.

Because emission indicators account for about 80 per cent of the evaluation, Australia has tended to be among the laggards on the survey. The introduction of the carbon tax in 2012 only resulted in Australia's ranking improve to 50th among the nations.

 Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the top-ranked nations in the survey. Australia and Saudi Arabia share the bottom four slots with Canada and Kazakhstan.


Abbott government to cut university support; fund theological colleges

And the religion-hating Left are ropeable -- though funding Madrassas would be OK

Taxpayers would subsidise the training of priests and other religious workers at private colleges for the first time under the Abbott government's proposed higher education reforms. 

As well as deregulating university fees and cutting university funding by 20 per cent, the government's proposed higher education package extends federal funding to students at private universities, TAFES and associate degree programs.

Religious teaching, training and vocational institutes would be eligible for a share of $820 million in new Commonwealth funding over three years.

Labor and the Greens attacked the policy, saying it breaches the separation of Church and State. Earlier this year the government controversially announced it would provide $244 million for a new school chaplaincy scheme but would remove the option for schools to hire secular welfare workers.

In correspondence with voters, Family First Senator Bob Day has singled out funding for faith-based training institutes to explain his support for the government's reforms.

Eleven theological colleges are currently accredited by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) to provide courses designed to prepare students to enter religious ministries.

Institutes such as the Sydney College of Divinity, Brisbane's Christian Heritage College and the Perth Bible College, which currently charge students full fees, would be eligible for an estimated $4214 funding a year each student under the reforms.

The John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, which offers course units including "Theology and Practice of Natural Family Planning" and "Marriage in the Catholic Tradition", would also be eligible for federal support.

The institute says on its website its mission is "promote marriage and the family for the good of the whole Church and the wider community".

The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne requires all trainee priests to receive theological training at Ridley College or the Trinity College Theological School, both of which would likely be eligible to offer Commonwealth Supported Places under the government's changes.

Labor higher education spokesman Kim Carr said: "This raises serious questions about relationship between Church and State. The Church has traditionally funded the training of its own personnel."

Mr Carr said there was a difference between federal funding for theoretically-focused religious studies courses and courses designed to prepare graduates for the priesthood.

Greens higher education spokeswoman Lee Rhiannon said: "Mr Pyne has gone one step further than robbing Peter to pay Paul – he is attempting to rob Australia's public and secular university system to pay private, religious colleges.

"Courses that Mr Pyne wants to extend funding to include those teaching prescriptive Christian ideology on sexuality and marriage – is this really the best use of the higher education budget?"

On its core values page on its website the Perth Bible College says, "We believe in the urgent need to reach our broken world with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to train men and women to be effective servants for God."

A spokesman for Education Minister Christopher Pyne said courses offered by private colleges would have to be approved by the independent regulator to gain access to federal funding.

"Consistent with current practice, the government will not distinguish between faith?based and secular higher education institutions for registration and funding purposes," the spokesman said.

Family First Senator Bob Day said, in a letter to a member of the general public, that it is unfair that public universities receive federal funding but religious colleges and other private providers do not.

"The Government's proposals … reduce the subsidies given to universities, while for the first time addressing inequity by providing significant subsidies for non-universities (but still less than universities)," he wrote. "Some of these non-universities that will receive funding for the first time - if this Bill passes - are faith-based training, teaching, theological and vocational institutions."

University of Divinity Vice-Chancellor Peter Sherlock declined to comment, but in a recent Senate submission the private university said federal funding would bring down course fees for its students.

The government's reforms were voted down by the Senate this week but will return to Parliament, with some amendments, next year.

Figures released on Thursday by the Universities Admissions Centre showed a slight increase in year 12 applications on last year despite claims of vastly increased fees under a deregulated system.


No harsh penalties for illicit downloaders under copyright reform

Australians will be blocked from accessing popular overseas websites hosting pirated movies and TV shows but would escape punishment for downloading illicit content under copyright law proposals being presented to federal cabinet on Tuesday.

Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull have developed a minimalist set of reforms to be debated at the final cabinet meeting of the year that avoids harsh penalties such as throttled speeds for repeat illicit downloaders.

If approved, the changes will disappoint rights holders who had been lobbying for tougher legislative action.

Fairfax Media understands the ministers' joint submission argues that internet providers and rights holders should work together on a code registered with the communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority. This code would include a scheme in which repeat illicit downloaders are warned via written notices that they are breaching copyright.

The government would retain the option of using the "big stick" of legislative change at a later date if internet providers and rights holders cannot agree on such a scheme.

Past negotiations on a voluntary code have broken down over the question of who would pay. Internet providers have been pushing for costs to be paid for by rights holders, while copyright owners like Village Roadshow are pushing for a 50-50 split.

The government's discussion paper on copyright infringement, released in late July, proposed creating a new legal framework, known as extended authorisation liability, to make internet companies more liable for their customers' illicit downloading. Mr Turnbull admitted in September that the proposal, as outlined in the discussion paper, had drawn unanimous opposition from all sides of the debate as too broad.

Cabinet will be asked to approve the creation of a mechanism allowing rights holders to seek a court injunction ordering internet providers to block overseas websites such as The Pirate Bay hosting illicit material.

While the blocks would stop most people accessing illicit material, they are unlikely to stop tech-savvy Australians who use virtual private network (VPN) software to bypass them.

In a submission to government, peak telecommunications industry body Communications Alliance backed a site-blocking scheme with appropriate safeguards despite the risk of "collateral damage". Legitimate sites could inadvertently be blocked and blocked sites may quickly reappear at a new address, the submission said.

Most telecommunications companies would welcome the light-touch approach outlined in the Cabinet submission but are concerned that determined lobbying by rights holders will sway the government to adopt a tougher approach. Since 1998, Village Roadshow, a strong advocate of an online copyright crackdown, has donated almost $4 million to the Labor and Liberal parties.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has yet to announce Labor's position on online copyright infringement. In a recent interview with Fairfax, Dreyfus said he believed something needed to be done.

"I think we need to look at practical measures of which there is some evidence of them working somewhere in the world," he said. "The government should look to do what it can to assist in what is a real problem.

"We have a very high rate of internet piracy in Australia, particular in film and TV product. At the same time – and Malcolm Turnbull himself has commented on this – I think we need to see more being done to make content more readily and more cheaply available. That's not something the government can be responsible for."


Greenie academic soft on sharks

Greenies and sharks have a similar regard for morality.  And Greenies hate people anyway

A paper published in the Australian Journal of Political Science has described the West Australian government's response to shark attacks as relying on "movie myths" and having "striking similarities" to the 1975 movie Jaws.

The research describes what the author calls the "Jaws Effect", which he describes as "a political device based on three themes from the film: the intentionality of sharks, the perception that all human-shark interactions are fatal and the idea that killing a shark is the only solution".

The author of the research, Dr Christopher Neff is a lecturer in public policy at the University of Sydney's Department of Government and International Relations and has previously been critical of the WA government's approach to sharks.

The paper went on to say "This fiction serves an important political purpose because films allow politicians to rely on familiar narratives following shark bites to blame individual sharks in order to make the events governable and to trump evidence-based science".

When discussing the situation in WA, where eight fatal attacks have occurred since 2000, Dr Neff wrote: "I suggest that politicians used movie myths to support their policies in order to use intent-based narratives that are well known and blame sharks in order to lower thresholds for policy action and favour quick policy solutions."

He said this happened in WA following four shark bite incidents in 2000, 2003, 2011 and 2014, when action was taken in an attempt to kill sharks following encounters with humans.

In regard to his findings Dr Neff said "politicians do not have a right to their own set of scientific facts about sharks, no matter how popular the movie".

In the past Premier Colin Barnett has repeatedly cited "public safety" as the reason for killing sharks.


9 December, 2014

Childish Labor Party senators

To see the dysfunctional, debt-drunk, elected-by-fluke dominated Senate in action, I attended the final Senate question time of the year last Thursday to see if the most accomplished hypocrites of the Senate, the three malevolent monkeys – who see only ill, speak only ill and hear only ill – were up to their usual chimpcraft.

They were.

The first question of the day came from malevolent monkey number one, the chip-weighted shop steward from Scotland, Labor's Senator Doug Cameron. He did not disappoint.

Cameron: "I refer to [Defence Minister David Johnston's] spring culinary tour of Australia, which has currently clocked up over $6000 of spending in restaurants in Perth, Adelaide and Canberra. Can the minister confirm that his culinary tour included a $190 bottle of Henschke Mount Edelstone shiraz …" And so on.

The minister responded with the obvious: after Australia hosted the G20 summit he entertained 25 visiting defence officials, including the French Minister of Defence (can't offer mediocre wine to a French cabinet minister) and the cost of the hospitality was within official guidelines.

Senator Cameron popped up again: "With ADF personnel now receiving a real pay cut, isn't the minister's tax-funded fine-dining tour just another example of a government that has got its priorities all wrong, or is this just the minister's attempt to line up a job as a food and wine critic once he is shuffled out of the ministry?"

What a wit!

Next up was Labor's Senator Stephen Conroy, the machine enforcer who I first encountered using parliament by reading an anonymous smear sheet about a union rival, using the protection of parliamentary privilege.

Conroy:  "Can the [Defence] minister confirm that two of his staff … were escorted out of Parliament House yesterday without being allowed even to clean out their desks? Does the minister take responsibility for the chaos and dysfunction in his office?"

This question was related to leaks coming from the minister's office, not unrelated to details emerging about a $190 bottle of Henschke Mount Edelstone shiraz, et al.

Given that the office of the Minister for Defence must have tight security, the identification of leaks appears to have been efficient rather than chaotic. The minister, of course, could not elaborate.  

Through all this, the third malevolent monkey, Labor's Senator Kim Carr, who sits in the front-row of the opposition benches alongside Cameron and Conroy, completed the chorus of pettiness with a stream of screeching interjections, a habit made even more off-putting by his high-pitched voice.

The malevolent monkeys present a charisma-free political circus, without shame. It was Senator Conroy who gave the nation the monumental financial sinkhole of the National Broadband Network, which was never costed and immediately out of financial control and behind schedule. It was about to blow a $30 billion hole in the budget estimates by the time Labor lost office.

The irony of this circus is that Senator Johnston has been an effective defence minister who inherited a defence budget that had been cut to 1.56 per cent of GDP, the lowest level since 1938. With the budget cuts came a depleted operational capacity.

Within a year Johnston had implemented several major acquisitions to upgrade Australia's forward defence, notably ordering 58 Joint Strike Fighters, the P8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and the Triton long-range reconnaissance unmanned aircraft.

He restored the defence relationship with Indonesia. He upgraded the defence relationship with Japan. He improved defence ties with China.

To his credit – though also to his embarrassment – he became the first minister to acknowledge the serial maladministration of the Australian Submarine Corporation over many years when he said during question time on November 25:

"ASC was delivering no submarines in 2009 for $1 billion. They have not improved their output … They are $350 million over budget on three air-warfare destroyer builds. I am being conservative. It is probably more than $600 million but because the data is so bad I cannot tell you. You wonder why I am worried about ASC and what they are delivering to the Australian taxpayer. Do you wonder why I wouldn't trust them to build a canoe?"

At last the truth about this from a defence minister. Billions of dollars have been poured down the drain by both sides of politics on this giant pork barrel for South Australia. The ASC could build a canoe, but it would cost a million dollars and spend more time in repairs than on the water.

The ASC has accumulated an abominable record of cost over-runs and should never have been awarded the air warfare destroyer contract. Johnston's refreshing candour was an admission that the ASC has been a financial sinkhole for decades. It is more a strategic liability than a strategic asset.

Senator Johnston is also the first Defence Minister is a hundred years to seriously confront the bullying sub-culture in the Australian military, which has a recorded history of rationalising these practices dating back to 1913. The flow-on is the abysmal record of sexual assault inside the Royal Australian Navy and the large number of sexual abusers who have escaped sanction across the three military services.

The further irony in the outrage about costs by the three Labor senators is that the cost to the taxpayers of maintaining them in salaries, superannuation, allowances, accommodation, travel, staff and offices approaches $1 million a year. They ride the gravy train, drive the debt spiral, and screech about costs.

As I departed the chamber on Thursday, Senator Cameron was shouting across the chamber at a Liberal senator, "A big dummy spit! You big baby! Big baby!"

No wit. No shame. No irony. And on these three votes the fate of national policy is being decided.


Sri Lankan family claiming asylum flown out of WA, police drag away detention protesters

DRAMATIC scenes unfolded at a Perth detention centre yesterday as police dragged away protesters trying to stop a young Sri Lankan family from being flown out of WA.

Eight protesters linked arms and sat in the driveway of the Immigration Department’s det­ention centre in Redcliffe to try to stop a van leaving for the airport at 7am.

Inside was a young Tamil couple from Sri Lanka and their six-month-old baby girl who were later flown to Darwin on their way to the Australian Government’s Nauru ­detention centre.

The couple, who arrived in Australia eight months ago seeking asylum, were previously held on Nauru but were moved to Perth – where they have family members – for the woman to give birth.

As police dragged protesters out of the way, the father called out to refugee advocates: “Thank you, thank you for trying, thank you for helping us.”

No one was arrested but one police officer fell on a protester during the fracas while another protester said she had her arm twisted.

The Refugee Rights Action Network said the couple are among about 25 families who are being sent back to Nauru.

“We saw this as a grave injustice. The mother’s parents are living in the community in Perth . . . they’re going to be separated for Christmas,” RRAN spokeswoman Sarah Ross said.

“They are scared and upset. They were detained on Nauru before and they know what awaits them. They fear their baby’s health and welfare.”

Refugee advocate Victoria Martin, who has visited the Sri Lankan family regularly, said: “This family delivered their baby here – an absolutely gorgeous little girl. This is a family that has survived war, torture, injury and grief.’’

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has said no asylum seekers would be sent back to Nauru until January, so the family are expected to be held in Darwin for now.  “Australia’s offshore policy continues to apply, including anyone transferred to the mainland from an OPC,” he said.


Alan Jones interviews David Leyonhjelm on the Senate’s Inquiry Into the Great Wind Power Fraud & Cross-Bench renewable energy  Plan

The wind industry in Australia is in full-scale panic because the Senate’s cross-benchers (who hold the balance of power in the Upper House) have won Coalition support for their Inquiry into the great wind power fraud: which will turn a (long-overdue) blowtorch on the biggest rort in Australian history.

Adding to the wind industry’s mounting woes is the fact that the cross-benchers have also put together a plan that will put the wind industry out of its misery, by elevating the place of “old” hydro power and small-scale solar – especially “stand alone solar” in remote locations – under the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET): both “old” hydro and small-scale solar are perversely excluded from the LRET.

The vast bulk of hydro capacity was built pre-1998 and is, therefore, ineligible to participate – a matter that has Tasmanian Senator, Jacqui Lambie seeing red.

STT hears that the cross-bench plan is with Tony Abbott’s office and has already won the PM’s tick of approval.

The Inquiry and the plan has been pushed along by cross-bench Senator, David Leyonhelm, who appears in this recent interview with Alan Jones on 2GB.

Alan has a little radio show that more than just a few Australians tune into each morning. Syndicated through over 77 Stations and with close to 2 million listeners Countrywide – AJ as he’s known – is one of those people that leads the political charge on many issues that really affect ordinary Australians and which the rest of the press ignore.


A couple of weeks ago I interviewed Dr Jay Tibbetts – you might recall is an American. A medicical adviser to the Brown County Health Department in Wisconsin. He attacked the Australian Medical Association, who quite disgracefully, but not surprisingly given that the leadership of that mob now is hopelessly of the left. And the AMA virtually arguing that there was no problem with this sub-audible infra-sound emitted by wind turbines. And Doctor Tibbetts cited endless international evidence in relation to the health risks posed by the low-frequency noise that wind turbines generate.

Well that interview lead to an email that I received this week from eastern Europe.  Amazingly they had heard my interview, on the Internet with Doctor Tibbetts in relation to what I call the lunacy of wind farms and the sleep deprivation that they cause and my email correspondent said “I just wanted to tell you how much we appreciated your excellent interview and your courage to do it. I know how risky this is.  My emailer said he posted the interview on his website and it went ballistic. And I’m told, he says it’s spreading from Austria to Germany, and Finland and Ireland and Poland and many other countries. My emailer said ‘I can guarantee you that all people in Europe, especially in Germany were like crazy and spread your interview like crazy when they got it on my Facebook page.

Well people are waking up to the lies and deceit peddled by governments and renewable energy companies all over the world. There is a report this week by AGL energy of all outfits who found that non-solar households are paying hidden subsidies and more than $200 million a year, here in Australia to households who have solar roofing panels.  Now we know that this wind power-solar power are driving up the cost of what you pay for electricity and what business pays. And the AGL Chief economist Paul Simshauser, said the problem of wealth transfers to renewable energy sources was increasing. In other words to prop up renewable energy, you the taxpayer have money taken out of your pocket and that, in billions of dollars, goes to renewable energy companies. Most of them foreign companies.

Now people increasingly can’t hack this. We’re told 650 electricity customers are complaining to their retailer every day about electricity prices. The Australian Energy Regulator’s annual report found disconnections have surged and more than 237,000 New South Wales households, one in seven customers, has complained to their provider about pricing in the financial year ended 30 June this year.

Now we are spending billions of dollars on wind energy. It accounts for less than 2% of power generation in China, 3% in America. And this whole renewable energy thing is completely out of control. Wind power costs up to $214 per megawatt hour, coal $78 to $91. If the renewable energy mob want a set of rules that would be simple – then go ahead with your wind farm but don’t ask for taxpayers’ money. How can wind turbine companies buy off a farmer for $10,000 a turbine and then that same company be subsidised by the taxpayers? Who are you.

I have spoken to so many people, but one of them is Andrew Gardiner in Napthine’s electorate. He’s running for election this Saturday, the Premier of Victoria. Next to 140 turbines, 150 metres high, 56m blades – the biggest monsters in the southern hemisphere, some are 90 m from his property. Eight of them, 1.7 km from his home. And he’s been bullied and intimidated by AGL. I repeat – coal-fired power $78-91 a megawatt hour wind power, up to $214 per megawatt hour and solar power, over $400 a megawatt hour.

And here you’ve got this Gullen Range wind farm near Goulburn, which breaks nearly every rule that governed its application to operate. But don’t worry, it’s foreign owned. Would you believe Canberra, were meant to be spending 17,000 million dollars (17 billion), erecting between 7000 and 10,000 of these wind turbines.

Yet Germany are pushing ahead with new coal-fired electricity plants because political and public concern there is increasing over the cost of energy. China is building a new coal fired power station every 10 days every year. And remember when I spoke to Angus Taylor, the new member for Hume, turbines in his electorate enjoys subsidies to $500,000,000 to a $billion a year.

Well David Leyonhjelm is a New South Wales Senator, representing the Liberal Democrats and along with Senators Madigan, Day, Xenophon and Back, David Leyonhjelm succeeded in establishing, has succeeded in establishing – and this will put a few noses out of joint – a Senate inquiry into wind turbines. This will blow the whole show open.

It was a narrow vote. Because you see people like Mcfarlane, the Energy Minister, they’re in bed with wind companies. 33 to 32. The inquiry will be known as The Select Committee on Wind Turbines. It will investigate regulatory governance, or lack of it, over wind turbines, their economic impact, which can only be negative. It will examine on household power prices of wind power, we know that. The implementation of planning processes which as you can see with Gullen Range, are ignored. The integrity of national wind farm guidelines – they have none. The impact of wind turbines on firefighting – that’s another story altogether – and crop management.

And the committee will have the power to send for and examine people and documents. And it will report its proceedings from time to time and make interim recommendations and it will report by June 24 next year. This is a very pioneering and important initiative and not before time.


The Left did NOT introduce free university education to Australia

The Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme introduced by the conservative Menzies government in 1951 gave free education to the top third of High School graduates  -- more than 20 years before the Whitlam government

Former prime minister John Howard has reportedly taken a swipe at actress Cate Blanchett, declaring her speech at Gough Whitam's memorial service "outrageous".

During her address at the Sydney Town Hall in November, Ms Blanchett said news of Mr Whitlam's death filled her with an "inordinate sadness".  "The loss I felt came down to something very deep and very simple. I am the beneficiary of free, tertiary education," the actress told the state memorial service.

The Whitlam government abolished university fees in 1974. The policy would remain in place for 14 years.

However, News Corp publications report Mr Howard believed Ms Blanchett's praise was misdirected.

"That speech of Cate Blanchett's was outrageous," Mr Howard said. "Cate Blanchett is a talented actor, I admire her talent, but to suggest that Whitlam introduced free university education is wrong.

"The last three years of my university education were completely free and that was 11 years before Whitlam came to power. "This idea that it just arrived (with Whitlam) is complete nonsense and it ought to be called out more frequently."

In 1989, Labor education minister John Dawkins established HECS, meaning students would pay tuition fees but only when earning a decent wage.

The architect of the HECS system, Bruce Chapman, has said Whitlam's impact on higher eduction should not be underestimated.

"Whitlam's higher education agenda and Dawkins' had one thing in common: to take away any need for people to find money to enrol in university," Chapman said in November. "Gough Whitlam left a legacy of a system without upfront fees that has lasted for 40 years."


8 December, 2014

Corrupt Left and unions tarnish Australia's international reputation

Transparency International's global corruption index for 2014 is out today and the news for Australia is not good.

In 2002 Australia was rated No 1 - the least corrupt country in the world.   We were still doing OK in 2009, but over the past 4 years our ranking has slipped each year and now for the first time we are out of the top 10 cleanest countries, ranking 11th.

Here is TI's media release for 2009, reporting that we were then heading in the right direction.

This year we scored 80 points out of 100, down from 81 last year and 85 in 2012.   Relative to other countries we've slipped 4 places over the past two years.

TI's Australia Director Professor AJ Brown released this statement today.

He said:

“New revelations of links between some unions and organised crime add to concerns about the real capacity of federal and State governments to keep on top of corruption, such as revealed at the Australian Wheat Board, the Reserve Bank companies, Customs and other agencies long presumed to be above reproach,” says Professor Brown.

“Ongoing questions about weaknesses in Australia’s inconsistent political donation and disclosure regimes only compound the need for stronger, independent federal leadership, coordination and oversight.”

The data assembled by Transparency International tell a sorry story for a country that prided itself on the rule of law and doing the right thing.   The example set by Craig Thomson, the ALP President Michael Williamson, some of their parliamentary/union friends and a few shonky corporations should embarrass us all and jolt us into action.   The Trade Union Royal Commission in particular should take note of the extent of our decline and the importance of a thorough job.


Greenie land-grab contested

THE long-running Federal Court case of southern NSW farmer Peter Spencer strikes at the heart of land ownership in Australia, Queensland federal MP Bob Katter says.

MR Katter has flown to Sydney to support Mr Spencer's legal case against the Commonwealth and the NSW government over land-clearing laws.
He argues restrictions imposed on the clearing of vegetation on his farm constitutes an acquisition of his property.

Speaking outside the court on Thursday, Mr Katter told reporters that the case, which was launched in 2007, was one of the most important in Australia's history.

"Today the question is: who owns the land, the crown or the people?  "If we don't own our own land and a bunch of half-witted politicians own our land, than God help us all.  "This is why I have tracked across Australia to support Peter."

It comes more than four years after Mr Spencer staged a 52-day hunger strike in 2009 and 2010 on a suspended platform on his former property at Shannons Flat, near Cooma.

The leader of Katter's Australian Party said "millions of dollars worth of timber and timber rights" had been taken off Mr Spencer without compensation.


Indian citizens head immigration queue for Australia

Indian citizens are flocking to Australia to work, beating the once-dominant British expats, while the granting of Australian citizenship is at a six-year high, according to migration figures released this week.

The statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show there has been 46.6 per cent increase in the number of people becoming Australian citizens. During 2012-13,123,400 pledged to become citizens of Australia, the highest number since 2011-12, the International Migration Outlook report said.

Australia's Migration Program has also seen a significant increase, with 40,100 India citizens applying to migrate during 2012-13, while China had 27,300 applications and the United Kingdom 21,700.

According to Migration Law expert Sharon Harris, there is a growing trend of Indian and Chinese citizens seeking citizenship in Australia for greater global movement.

"India and China is without any doubt the most prolific source countries for pursuing visas and ultimately citizenship," she said "With an Australia passport, this opens up greater travel access globally."

Ms Harris, who has been a migration lawyer for 20 years, said the change in governments was particularly popular with Chinese citizens, who were attracted to the Abbott government.

"With the change of government they have more confidence in a stable political environment," Ms Harris said.

But the report also showed that 62,700 people whose temporary visas had expired or had been cancelled were living illegally in Australia.

Jobs which only offer cash in hand such as in the hospitality industry or agriculture contributed significantly to the number of workers who went "missing".

'"This is a huge issue but the Department of Immigration did not have the resources to find these people.  "They do checks in area of high concern such as farming and hospitality, where those employers are happy to pay cash in hand."

In October, it was revealed by a Fair Work Ombudsman that more than an estimated 20,000 workers on the skilled 457 visa had gone missing.  The audit assessed 1807 skilled workers on 457 visas and found 338 – or about 20 per cent – were no longer employed by their sponsor.

According to the latest 457 visa figures, Indian citizens comprise almost a quarter of the skilled visas, at 23.3 per cent. This was followed by the United Kingdom at 18.3 per cent; the People's Republic of China at 6.5 per cent and the Republic of Ireland, 7.2 per cent. The number of American citizens applying for the skilled visa was at 6.2 per cent.


Putting caps on University places would put the caps on regional Australia

If regional Australia had any hope of ever catching up with city Australia in university participation – without sending the country broke – then it would be through an uncapped student system in a deregulated market.

That’s according to CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman, who was responding to calls from independent Senator Nick Xenophon to recap university student places.

Professor Bowman said regional areas such as Central Queensland had a lower proportion of school leavers (under 30%) heading to university, compared with more than 60% in capital cities such as Brisbane.

He said the uncapping of student places by the previous government began the process of closing the gap, and the introduction of a deregulated fees system by the current government would help finish the process of closing the gap.

“Recapping the system and limiting the places available would hinder the aspirations of regional students at a time when we need to redress the balance,” Professor Bowman said.

“It would effectively lock in place the disparity between country and city tertiary attainment.”


Cheeky crook tries to sue police who arrested him

Judge dismisses claim but says that the Qld. police exceeded their powers

As terror hysteria – fuelled for all its worth by media and politicians – grips the nation, a Supreme Court judge has issued a terse rebuke of the misuse by police of “extraordinary” arrest and detention powers they already possess.

The unlikely protagonist in the events that led to the lashing launched at Queensland police, is a reveler who allegedly urinated publicly in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley nightclub precinct.

Dominic Burke was detained on a Sunday evening in September 2007 but ran off after his arrest only to be re-apprehended with the aid of a member of the public.

He escaped again in handcuffs, this time across the four lanes of Ann Street traffic into an alleyway. He alleged after surrendering in the dead end alleyway that was a blindspot in the blanket CCTV coverage of the area, Senior Constable George Price “king hit” him in the face and pushed him to fall on his face, fracturing his nose.

When serving Price with his court claim at Charlotte Street police station as arranged, for the alleged assault in September 2010, he was arrested again by another officer (Harris) with Price’s assistance, purportedly in connection with the investigation of an unrelated offence.

Burke “resisted and protested verbally in foul language which did him no credit and attracts no sympathy”. Harris and Price twice “transitioned” him to the ground in different locations in the station. The encounter was captured by audio recording.

He commenced further proceedings arising out of that arrest, alleging that it was unlawful in that it was not made for the stated purpose, namely investigating an assault at Iceworks Paddington on Melbourne Cup day in 2009.

The police charge against Burke for resisting that arrest was in fact dropped, once Harris’ evidence of the events was aired in the magistrate’s court prosecution hearing.

Both of Burke’s civil claims were heard by Judge Greg Koppenol over six days in the Ipswich District Court in August 2013 where Burke was self-represented.

Price contended there was no assault in the Valley 2007 incident, merely a tackle that on the evidence of a Police Academy instructor was the most “appropriate and reasonable action that could have been taken in the circumstances, notwithstanding that some risk of injury was involved”.

Burke’s injury claim for that incident was dismissed.

His Honour also dismissed the claim for wrongful arrest in 2010, ruling that it had been for the purpose of questioning over the Paddington incident and therefore permitted under the detention without charge provision in Police Powers and Responsibilities Act s 365 (2).

To appeal those rulings, a notice of appeal was required to have been filed on 16 September 2013 but his attempt at this was rejected by the court registry three days earlier, his notice not being in the proper form. An amended notice was eventually accepted on 21 October 2013.

Burke applied to the appeal judges for an extension of time for the late filing of his appeal and it was in that hearing that Justice David Jackson drew the allusion between police behaviour and the excesses of the Gestapo.

Burke’s appeal grounds included:  “judicial bias in favour of the respondents”; another officer was a “paid, bought man” whose evidence should have been rejected; “a quick decision is not a good decision”.

The majority ruled that “in summary, none of the grounds of appeal ventured by Burke has any prospects of success” and refused leave to extend time to appeal they considered to have hopeless prospects.

Justice Jackson agreed with the majority that the application for the extension of time to lodge the appeal should be dismissed, but published a dissenting judgment to the extent that the 2010 arrest at the Charlotte Street police station involved a misuse of police power.

In his view, there was no evidence to support a finding that the arresting officer’s purpose was “for questioning the applicant or investigating the offence”, the necessary condition for an arrest under PPRA s 365 (2).

Rather, the evidence favoured the view that Harris‘s purpose was to detain Burke simply to ascertain his address and give him a notice to appear.

Justice Jackson was of the view that because the extraordinary terms of s 365 abrogate the common law right of habeas corpus requiring prisoners to be promptly brought before a court after arrest – and allows detention without charge – the power must be strictly construed.

The officer was not entitled to rely on the power merely to ascertain Burke’s address or to make more it convenient for the service of process. Such measures could not constitute “an investigation” into the alleged crime.

Harris already had adequate powers under PPRA s 40 – without arrest – to require Burke to provide his address.

“Although even the Gestapo’s misdeeds may have faded from the consciousness of contemporary Australia, our tolerance of methods of arrest for the purpose of investigation or questioning,” Jackson warned, “requires that the limits of the proper exercise of such power are not lost in hollow lip service to or rote incantation of the purposes for which an arrest can be made.”

Justice Jackson’s caution echoed the dire warning made 70 years earlier by NSW chief justice Sir Frederick Jordan, in his advocation against allowing police the additional powers they now possess.

In a climate where citizens are being daily urged to welcome ever increasing discretionary state power to “trench upon their liberty at common law”, this is timely advice indeed.

His Honour went to pains to specify that his dismissal of Burke’s application for other reasons, “should not be seen as an endorsement” of the misuse of the extraordinary police power of detention without charge.


7 December, 2014

Public service pay rises over the past decade are 14% above inflation, says Abetz

Pay rises in the Australian Public Service have outstripped inflation by 14 per cent over the past decade, according to the government.

Public Service Minister Eric Abetz produced the figures in Parliament as he renewed his attack on the main public service union, the CPSU, and its approach to the present round of enterprise bargaining talks in the Commonwealth bureaucracy.

The union is taking an aggressive approach to a ballot of 1800 workers at Employment for a new pay deal, hoping to strike a blow in Senator Abetz's own department against the government's hard-line public sector bargaining policy. 

A union bulletin to its members at Employment urges them to reject the minister's "dud deal" that offers 1.4 per cent over three years in return for more job cuts, a longer working day and the loss of other entitlements.

But the minister produced figures to Senate question time on Monday showing that median public-service pay rises since 2004 had totalled nearly 42 per cent while the headline inflation rate for the same period was 28 per cent.

Senator Abetz poured scorn on the union's 4 per cent across-the-board wage claim for 160,000 federal public servants, accusing the CPSU of scaremongering over the crucial issue of public service superannuation.

"The Community and Public Sector Union has been falsely claiming that the government is stripping public servants' rights and conditions," Senator Abetz told the upper house.

"This is incorrect. The CPSU claims that the government wants to cut public servants' super when the contribution rate is actually set by the trustee, a legislative instrument subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

"This is just scaremongering by the CPSU - and what's more, public servants know it.

"The CPSU should cease its scaremongering and posturing and help it members negotiate what small productivity-backed increases are possible, given the mess left by the former Labor government.

"The CPSU should also remind its members that over the last decade, median public-service pay rises outstripped CPI by 14 per cent."

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood, who is adamant that the superannuation guarantee is under threat, was also on the offensive, urging her members at Senator Abetz's Employment Department to reject the proffered wage deal.

"Attacking the CPSU in the Senate is frankly a bizarre way for a Cabinet Minister to conduct industrial relations policy with his Commonwealth workforce," she said on Monday. "Instead of attacking the CPSU the Minister should be talking with us."

"We have always said that we are happy to sit down with the Minister to sort out this mess he has created but 8 months after delivering Government's bargaining policy he is still refusing to meet with us. But no, rather than talk with us about a sensible solution he has again taken up the megaphone attack."

"The Prime Minister has declared that he has listened to the Defence community on ADF conditions, so why can't Minister Abetz? It's his policy that has launched an attack on public servants' conditions and pay; it is his policy that is pushing workers ever closer to industrial action and yet all he can do is fling insults. It's a bizarre way to behave."

The union leader said Employment staff were particularly alarmed by their department's plan to cut 46 jobs over the life of the agreement to help pay for the wage offer.


Public servant bludgers

Federal public servants who plan to leave their jobs are racking up nearly seven weeks of sickies and other unplanned leave in their final year, according to leaked landmark internal research.

And poor performers fail to show up more than 20 times each year on average, twice the rate of colleagues who do their jobs well, according to an analysis of the hundreds of thousands of sickies and other "unscheduled absences" at the Commonwealth's two largest departments.

With more than 900,000 no-shows in the 2012-2013 financial year, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Humans Services are the two worst performers on sickies among the big APS outfits.

The analysis, ordered by alarmed departmental chiefs, busts some of the myths about sickies in the bureaucracy, such as the fabled spike in carer's leave around school holiday time and the "post-public holiday sickie".

But many of the key findings from the research reveal the extent of the problem faced by the Australian Public Service if it is to bring its levels of unscheduled absence into line with that of the private sector.

The ATO research found the public servants least likely to show up to work were those whose time in the bureaucracy was coming to an end.

"On average employees separating from the ATO use around 34 days or over double the ATO rate in the 12 months prior to leaving," the report states.

The research also shows that women in the Taxation Office are more likely to use unscheduled leave than men.

"Female employees use more UPL… than males," the authors wrote.

"This is a long term trend consistent with external research.

"Within the ATO context the gap has narrowed from almost four  days in 2003 to just under three  days for the workforce employed at 31 January 2014."

Both the DHS and the ATO researchers discovered that the more leave the departments' public servants were entitled to, the more they took.

"Increases in annual leave credit entitlements, or changes to make access to leave easier, have been in each instance since 2002 followed by an increase of leave use," the ATO authors wrote.

"The one example of a decrease in annual leave credit entitlements has been followed by a decrease of use."

Workers stuck in the same job for many years were found to be taking nearly twice the amount of unscheduled absence than colleagues who were new to their roles.

"The longer employee cohorts are in one position the higher the average unscheduled absence rates," the ATO researchers wrote.

But in the ATO at least, the researchers found that bureaucrats were less likely to show up on an average Monday than the day after a public holiday and there was no spike in carers' leave during school holidays in either Taxation or Human Services.

Efforts to control unscheduled absence across the service are being stepped up although the Public Service Commission says all the research says there is no "sickie culture" in the federal bureaucracy.

The Canberra Times revealed last month that the Agriculture Department, the third worst performer among large APS outfits on sickies, says it has formed teams to target areas of its operations around the country where the levels of absenteeism are above average.


Low-tax nation a ‘harmful myth’

THE idea that Australians are relatively lightly taxed compared with people in other rich countries is a myth that is making it easier to raise taxes that undermine the nation­’s­ competitiveness in Asia, a new study argues.

The OECD puts Australian governments’ tax take at 26.5 per cent of national income, bless than the unweighted average share of 34.1 per cent among the 34 member nations, a long-term discrepancy that has prompted trade unions, statists and welfare lobbies to argue for tax increases rather than spending cuts to fix the federal budget.

“We are constantly being told that Australia is a low-tax country, but that is a complete myth”, said Mikayla Novak, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Public ­Affairs who wrote the report.

“Adding in compulsory super and private health insurance mandates raises Australia’s effective level of tax,” she added, arguing that they added 4.7 per cent and 1 per cent of GDP respectively to Australian governments’ tax haul in 2011, lifting the total to 32.2 per cent.

The new research comes as former Business Council of Australia chief and National Commission of Audit chairman Tony Shepherd said tax reform was vital to deal with structural deficits and that government spending should be capped.

“Taxes should not be grown to match this profligacy,’’ he told a forum in Melbourne yesterday.

“We should put a cap on the size of government. We recommended that in the commission of audit … about 24 per cent of GDP for the common­wealth seemed to be the right level.

“It’s very important that in reviewing tax we look at the role and reach of government. You can’t look at the revenue side without deciding what you are going to do in terms of what the government actually delivers.”

Ms Novak said her findings were “especially important findings when considering Australia’s economic future’’. “The Abbott government must ignore the calls for even higher taxation,” she said.

“That will only weaken our economic potential and impair future living stand­ards.’’

The analysis also showed Australia’s relative tax take was much higher when compared with nations we traded and competed with, such as those in the APEC grouping of countries.


What to give a child who can't read?

In the state of Victoria, there are approximately 40,000 students in Years 3 to 9 whose reading and numeracy skills are either at or below the minimum standard that will allow them to learn and achieve at school.

These numbers are calculated using the latest results from the National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and school statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That there are large numbers of students either barely literate or illiterate - lacking the fundamental skill for educational success, secure employment, and quality of life - is common knowledge and has been evident for some time.

What did the education policy platforms from the Labor and Liberal parties promise Victorian families in response to this enduring and profound problem with literacy and numeracy?

The Labor party promised to build 10 new 'tech' schools, and provide $680 million dollars for building upgrades, plus hundreds of millions of dollars for breakfast clubs, school uniforms, eye-tests and glasses, camps and excursions, and driver training. Only one policy announcement from Labor actually pertained to the core work of schools - teaching and learning - the requirement for all new registered teachers to have completed a course in teaching students with disabilities.

The Liberal party policy platform was even worse in this respect. It expressly acknowledged the lack of improvement in literacy and numeracy results in the state at least since NAPLAN started in 2008, yet proposed no solutions. Instead, it promised $1.2 billion for building upgrades on top of a whopping $4.5 billion in funding for unspecified 'Gonski' funding, plus further millions for first aid training for students, 3D printers, foreign languages, student leadership, school safety grants, and mental health initiatives. Not one concrete policy proposal for improving outcomes for students in literacy and numeracy.

There is no doubt that the quality of school facilities is important, and it is a defensible use of public money, within limits. Some of the other programs, such as breakfast clubs, are also good things but most schools where breakfast clubs are needed are already providing them with community support.

Many of the programs dreamt up by the two major political parties, however, would be difficult to justify for inclusion in a school education budget even if schools were excelling at their core function - education. And clearly they are not. Families in Victoria deserve much better. Let's hope that the Andrews Labor government delivers much more than it promised.


5 December, 2014

This horror at sea is what the Abbott government put a stop to

But Labor "meant well" so that's all OK, you see?

Men and women who served on Operation Resolute - the Navy's contribution to Operation Sovereign Borders - have spoken publicly for the first time about what they have witnessed while boarding and intercepting asylum seeker vessels off Australia's northern coast.

In a series of interviews with the ABC, they described the horrendous task of retrieving the bodies of dead asylum seekers and of coping with sick and distressed children in squalid conditions.

They also alleged decisions made in Canberra directly led to the deaths of asylum seekers.

All of the personnel the ABC spoke to served on Operation Resolute during the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments.

Troy Norris was recently discharged from the Navy suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He spent 13 years intercepting and boarding asylum seeker vessels, rising to the rank of chief bosun's mate.

"It was extremely difficult, especially if the people had been in the water for quite a period of time ... they become quite bloated and there's only one way to pull them in and that's to grab them and try and chuck them in the boat.  "Sometimes you'd go to pull these people in the boat and all you'd end up with is a handful of flesh. It'd just strip to the bone."

All the Navy personnel the ABC spoke to said they believe the secrecy surrounding border security operations exacerbated the trauma they suffered.

'Fiona' is a serving Navy officer, so the ABC must obscure her identity. She worked at the Northern Command in Darwin, which directed the Navy ships intercepting asylum seeker boats.

"I would say that the secrecy surrounding the operation, and the fact that the public has very little information about what these people are actually doing - other than what they see as them failing to rescue people at sea, failing to take into account human rights - for the sailors to do these operations and then face that from the public, essentially they're the Vietnam veterans of our time," she said.

Fiona said she was also aware of the level of indirect political pressure applied to border protection operations.  She said the captains of naval ships were told not to board asylum seeker vessels until they were in Australian waters, and the crews and passengers were then subject to Australian migration law.

She claims that on at least one occasion, an asylum seeker vessel sank as a result.  "In the incident that I've described where the boat overturned and people died, that pressure came from Canberra," she said.

Another serving Navy officer, 'Michael', also said he witnessed occasions in which unseaworthy asylum seeker vessels were not boarded because of decisions made in Canberra.

"Our vessel was delayed 15 hours for a boarding on one occasion and we got reports in from surveillance aircraft that that vessel had sunk 13 hours ago," he said.  "All we found was probably a line about 70 miles long of bodies. We fished them out for as long as we could, 'til we were full. And that wasn't uncommon."

"[At the] end of the day, if this does come out it'll be a witch hunt. The people who'll get caught are the people who made the decisions, and the people we're talking about now are the captains of boats. And the captains of boats, really, are they to blame?"

'Greg', a former Navy officer who was recently medically discharged, has asked that he not be identified because he still lives in a town with a significant number of Defence personnel.

He also retrieved bodies during his time boarding asylum seeker vessels.

"Basically you are greeted with a sensory overload. You jump on and you can smell three days worth of human faeces, you can smell vomit, you can smell diesel fuel, you can smell rotting wood, you can smell people, there are children screaming. Ah, there are people, you know, crying. There are people, um ... desperation, I would say," Greg said.

"There are people suffering from exposure. Occasionally if you'll board and there will be a vessel with deceased people on. They'll be crammed in with them, because they can't move them. They're just there. So it obviously makes the head count difficult when you can't ascertain who's alive and who's not."

Greg also feels he was badly let down by the Navy. He says the extent of his PTSD only became clear when he tried to commit suicide last year.


Australia to Slash Funding for U.N. Environment Program

Already reviled by green groups for repealing its predecessor’s carbon tax, Australia’s center-right government is stoking fresh controversy with plans to slash funding to the U.N.’s top environmental body.

Coming at a time when a U.N. climate conference in Peru is firing up activists, the decision by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government to cut funding to the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) by more than 80 percent has drawn sharp condemnation.

Critics already view Australia as a “global pariah,” going against the tide of progress in the drive to tackle climate change.

Cutting funding to UNEP also comes amid a growing international campaign to upgrade UNEP from its current status as a U.N. “program” to a more powerful and better-funded “specialized agency.” Some activists even want it empowered to impose sanctions on countries that don’t implement environmental agreements.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Tuesday that the government will cut A$4 million ($3.4 million) in funding for UNEP over the next four years, reducing this year’s contribution from A$1.2 ($1.01 million) to just A$200,000 ($169,000).

It quoted Environment Minister Greg Hunt as saying UNEP was not a budget priority for the government, and defending the decision by pointing to greater funding being directed at environmental challenges in the region.

“I would imagine that most Australians would think that putting [A]$12 million into coral reef protection within our region, and combating illegal logging of the rainforests of the Asia Pacific would be a pretty good investment, rather than [A]$4 million for bureaucratic support within the U.N. system,” he said.

Set up in 1972, the Nairobi, Kenya-based UNEP describes itself as “the voice for the environment within the United Nations system.”

Since it is a U.N. program and not a specialized agency, UNEP has relied on voluntary donations from member-states rather than “assessed contributions” (the formula that sees the U.S. liable for 22 percent of the budget of agencies like the Worod Health Organization.)

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner told ABC he was disappointed at the decision, as member-states contributions enable the organization “to fulfil its mandate and be of service to the global community.”

Big contributors to UNEP include European countries and the United States. The State Department’s fiscal year 2015 request for UNEP is $7.55 million, although the actual amount U.S. taxpayers will likely account for is higher, as the State Department is only one of several agencies through which funding is channeled.

Abbott’s decision to reduce funding to this body drew sharp condemnation from political opponents.

“This is a program that helps developing countries develop in a way that is environmentally sustainable,” Tanya Plibersek, the Labor Party’s foreign affairs spokesman, told reporters, calling the cuts “petty” and accusing the prime minister of “taking Australia backwards on climate change.”

“Tony Abbott has made Australia an international laughing stock with his backward policies on climate change and the environment,” said Labor’s environment spokesman, Mark Butler.


Barossa Valley wine called 72 Virgins sold as fundraiser for anti-Islamic organisation, Q Society

A BAROSSA wine called Hal & Al’s 72 Virgins is being sold as a fundraiser for an anti-Islamic movement that is worried about a “culture war”.  The virgins are a reference to the rewards jihadis believe they will receive in Paradise once they kill others and themselves.

Profits from the “fine Australian sparkling wine” will go to the Q Society, which bills itself as “Australia’s Leading Islam-critical Movement”.

The Q Society warns that Islam is linked to discrimination and violence and run lectures teaching about “the true nature of this totalitarian theocratic ideology”.

They could not tell The Advertiser which winery produced the 72 Virgins, but said they put the labels on themselves.

“With our own special label … this is a guaranteed conversation starter and lighthearted take on an otherwise serious subject,” the advertisement reads.  “Satire and a good laugh are valuable weapons in this culture war.”

Q Society President Debbie Robinson said sales were going well and people were stocking up for Christmas.  “I think it’s a little bit tongue in cheek … not something that’s meant to be taken too seriously,” she said.

Asked whether she thought people might find it offensive she said people were “offended by all sorts of things”.  “I don’t find it offensive. Everyone’s an individual,” she said.

Ms Robinson said the funds would help them bring in overseas speakers.  “We are involved with educating Australians about the Islamisation of the country,” she said.

One of the controversial speakers the Q Society has brought to Australia is Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has called for a ban on building mosques and an end to Muslim immigration. He has referred to Islam as a “great sickness”.


Blatant labor party corruption

A CANCER centre, outreach services for disadvantaged youth and critical road upgrades were among projects the former federal Labor government rejected in preference for projects in must-win electorates.

In what the government claims is evidence of blatant pork-barrelling by the Rudd and Gillard ­administrations in the lead up to last year’s federal election, millions were allocated to projects in Labor-held marginal seats that an expert panel recommended not be funded.

The Australian has obtained full details of Regional Development Australia Fund grants that were awarded in May and June last year which have been heavily criticised by a National Audit Commission report.

Yesterday, Treasurer Joe Hockey called on the former minister for regional services Catherine King to apologise for having “rorted the Australian taxpayer”.

Ms King claimed she had been misrepresented, and told parliament that two thirds of the projects funded had been in non-Labor seats.

But the audit of the final rounds of the RDAF shows almost half of the grant money and one in four projects funded by Labor were not supported by its appointed expert panel. Thirty-three projects judged “not of sufficient quality” to receive grants won 48 per cent of $226 million awarded just four months before the election.

The $1 billion fund was a key commitment made by Julia Gillard to secure the support of independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor to form minority government in 2010.

Details of the successful grants show that two western Sydney projects were among those the government approved to receive regional grants against advice.

In June last year, the federal Labor government announced $12m towards the development of the Western Sydney Community and Sports Centre in Penrith, which was in the marginal seat of Lindsay, held by Labor’s David Bradbury.

In the seat of McMahon, held by Labor’s Chris Bowen, the government allocated $7.3m for the Fairfield youth and community centre.

Both had been rejected by the panel, which advised Ms King that they were “not strong” and had “no identifiable positive impact on the broader community” to justify the grant.

Yet while Labor funnelled money to projects in marginal electorates that were not deemed appropriate, The Australian can reveal that a wide range of worthy projects missed out.

Most of these were in ­Coalition-held electorates.

A small community hospital in Keith, in the safe Liberal seat of Barker in regional South Australia, had its application for $200,000 knocked back, despite the panel recommending it ­receive $400,000.

In the southern NSW region of Riverina, a program for disadvantaged, homeless and drug-­dependent youth was set to receive $500,000 in round four of the project, but the decision of the panel was also ignored.

Just days before the election, Labor announced it would fund the project under round five of the grants scheme after the election.

Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said revelations that the project had earlier been ­rejected against the advice of the panel showed Labor had deliberately diverted funding away from the regions. “People in regional areas missed out because Labor wanted to cling on to power, and they did it at the cost of regional people so desperately in need of those services,” he said.

Other unsuccessful applicants included the Can Assist Sydney Accommodation Facility, which was advanced by The Cancer ­Patients’ Assistance Society of NSW. It had sought $10m. It was unsuccessful despite the panel ranking it more “suitable” than 33 other projects funded.

Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs told parliament yesterday that the report demonstrated the desperation of the former government in its dying days.

“It revealed that the Labor Party in government ... knowingly went out of their way to abuse taxpayers’ money for their own political benefit,” he said.


How union greed torpedoed our submarines

The much-needed and long-overdue debate about replacing the nation’s ageing submarine fleet is too important to be jettisoned because of a single misguided comment.

Defence Minister David Johnston was flippant when he said the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) couldn’t be trusted to build a canoe. His verbal torpedo could have been more accurate. Properly on course, it should have targeted the militant ­unions in the ­enterprise and the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project rather than the workforce.

Created by Labor in 1987 to build the Collins-class submarines (so plagued with problems no other nation ever bought them), the ASC was always going to be a floating mine. Its international shareholders had jumped ship by 2000 and it is now wholly owned by us — the taxpayers — and operated by skilled workers belonging to unions firmly locked into the hand-out mentality.

Senator Johnston’s remarks were made in a debate on the ASC and the AWD. Both operations have contributed new phrases to the national lexicon.

Take The Last Ship Syndrome — the go-slow by union members when a project is nearing completion and no new work is on the horizon. In effect the completion date never ­arrives as make-work schemes are developed to keep union members happy. And naturally the cost inevitably blows out.

If no new projects are available, the workforce enters The Valley of Death and mass lay-offs and potential losses of shipbuilding skills ensue.

These two issues are highlighted in a still-unreleased ­report by former US Navy secretary Don Winter and former shipbuilder John White into the $8.5 billion AWD project commissioned by the government. It recommends slowing the completion of the AWD project and speeding up plans to build replacement frigates for the ageing Anzac ships, to keep the workforce employed and avoid skills losses.

When the Coalition came to office last year, the AWD program was running 21 months late and was more than $360 million over its target costs. It is now understood to be at least $600 million over budget.

The problem was not helped by Labor ­defence minister Stephen Smith’s 2012 decision to try to “right”’ the timeline for the three AWD’s in an attempt to avoid the Valley of Death. All it did was help Labor further delay the decision on the ­future submarine replacements that Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd promised in 2007 would have first pass approval by 2011.

Defence was just a cash cow for Labor. Forget the crocodile tears over the defence pay rise now, or their claptrap about the 4.6 per cent efficiency dividend over five years imposed on the ABC workers collective. In 2012 Labor slashed 10.5 per cent from the defence budget in a single year. In just one term, ­defence spending under Labor dropped to pre-WWII levels.

Labor was too busy sorting out its internal woes to seriously address defence. The issue of national security was placed in the too-hard basket. Yes, the nation wants a ­viable shipbuilding industry but it wants an ­efficient operation, not a union-controlled, featherbedded one.

We welcome more jobs, but we expect value for our money and defence workers are paid by the taxpayers.

The Abbott government commissioned the Winter ­Review to identify problems within the AWD program and recommend solutions. It has put $78.2 million into the Anzac frigate program to bring forward preliminary engineering and ­design a workable operation to build future frigates here. This will focus on the continued production of the AWD hull, using ­cutting-edge Australian companies, including our own radar electronic systems.

Johnston must be able to present Cabinet with a productive shipbuilding industry so he can prosecute the case to have the frigates built here.

Labor’s failure to do anything has left Australia facing the very real risk of a capability gap in its submarine defence.  The Collins-class subs are due to be phased out from 2026. Lead time for new submarines is 20 years. Constantly patching up the Collins subs is no longer an option. The government must get it right. It has to ­ensure the future frigate program is expedited without loss of integrity as the Valley of Death has already arrived, Labor blew the opportunity.

The government must do the best it can. Vested interests, particularly the South Australian Labor government, have no regard for the national ­security aspects of the program.

A harder line is needed to ensure that non-performers in Left-leaning unions with a hand-out mentality don’t scupper our national defence.


4 December, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is having a shot at the Greenie call for "non-sexist" toys

Tony Abbott blasts national broadcaster: ABC takes 'everyone's side but Australia's'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has berated ABC News, arguing that it is taking "everyone's side but Australia's" and that journalists should give the navy the "benefit of the doubt" when it comes to claims of wrongdoing.

In comments that also suggest the media should act as cheerleaders for the country, Mr Abbott ramped up his recent criticism of the ABC.

"You would like the national broadcaster to have a rigorous commitment to truth and at least some basic affection for the home team," he told Macquarie Radio on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott also said that it "dismays Australians when the national broadcaster appears to take everybody's side but our own", adding, "I think that is a problem".

The Prime Minister's comments follow Coalition criticism of the ABC late last year, after it and Guardian Australia broke a story, based on leaks from the US National Security Agency, about Australia tapping Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's phone.

At the time, the Prime Minister condemned the head of the ABC, Mark Scott for "very, very poor judgment". Other Coalition MPs also expressed concern about the ABC during a recent party meeting and Liberal senator Cory Bernardi called for its funding to be cut.

In November, Mr Scott defended the ABC's decision to publish the phone tapping story, arguing it was in the public interest.

On Wednesday, Mr Abbott said he wanted the ABC to be a "straight news gathering and news reporting organisation".

He also sympathised with broadcaster Ray Hadley, when he complained that "right-leaning" shock jocks such as himself were regularly referred to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, while the "left-leaning" ABC was "left to their own devices".

"I can understand your frustration, Ray, because at times there does appear to be a double standard in large swathes of our national life," the Prime Minister said.

As a broadcaster, the ABC, like Mr Hadley's station, 2GB, also comes under ACMA's complaints system.

The body does not monitor broadcasts and is prompted to investigate possible breaches of radio and TV codes by public complaints.

When contacted by Fairfax Media, the ABC had no comment to make about Mr Abbott's renewed criticism of the ABC.

Mr Abbott also referred to a recent ABC report containing video footage of asylum seekers claiming they had suffered burns due to mistreatment by the Royal Australian Navy.

The navy has denied the claims, which were also dismissed by the government.

"If there's credible evidence, the ABC, like all other news organisations is entitled to report it, but . . . You shouldn't leap to be critical of your own country," he said.

"You certainly ought to be prepared to give the Australian navy and its hard-working personnel the benefit of the doubt."

PM's comments part of 'plan' to cut ABC funding: Labor

Acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek defended the ABC on Wednesday as a "longstanding part of Australia's cultural fabric", while Labor's communications spokesman, Jason Clare, said that Mr Abbott's comments were part of a plan to cut funding to the ABC.

"Now it seems Tony Abbott is laying the groundwork to break another election promise," Mr Clare said, noting that the Prime Minister had said before the election that there would be not cuts to the national broadcaster.

Earlier Ms Plibersek said that every government had been subjected to close scrutiny by the ABC since the broadcaster began, "and we should all welcome that".

"Tony Abbott's comments today show he'll blame everyone – including the media - for the promises he continues to break," she said.

"He should stop complaining about media coverage and start behaving like a Prime Minister."

ABC a 'great contributor'

NSW Nationals senator John "Wacka" Williams praised the ABC, noting that it was a "great contributor" to regional Australia through programs like Country Hour.

But he rubbished recent ABC reports such as the allegations of navy abuse and the SBY phone tapping.

"The ABC should think carefully before it puts out stories that are damaging to [Australia's] reputation," he told Fairfax Media.

After Mr Abbott's criticism of the ABC, Employment Minister Eric Abetz drew on the national broadcaster's reporting this week – in conjunction with Fairfax Media – on the building industry to back up his call for the re-establishment of the Coalition's construction watchdog.

"Given the revelations from the ABC and Fairfax Media, it is quite clear we need to re-institute the Australian Building and Construction Commission," he said.

When asked if the ABC gave taxpayers good value for money, Senator Abetz deferred to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but added that the ABC and Fairfax had done a "great public service" in their reports of union and construction industry corruption.

When asked if he agreed with the Prime Minister's view that there was a perception that the ABC barracked for everyone but Australia, Senator Abetz said "I think every Australian will make up their own mind in relation to the ABC".

Mr Abbott also continued to pressure Labor to support the re-establishment of the ABCC.

"The issue for the Labor Party and for Mr Shorten is whose side are they on?" he said.

"Are they on the side of law abiding citizens? Or are they on the side of people with a tendency to break the law?"


Christmas shoppers should not buy gender based toys for kids, Greens say

GREENS Senator Larissa Waters has urged Christmas shoppers to rethink buying bright pink jewellery or dolls for little girls, linking gender-stereotyped toys to domestic violence and pay inequality.

The minor party’s gender spokeswoman has endorsed the ‘No Gender December’ campaign, set up by grassroots group Play Unlimited, which calls on retailers to stop using old-fashioned gender stereotypes as marketing ploys this Christmas.

It warns aisles of pink and blue merchandise, while seemingly harmless, can lead to serious social problems including violence against women and children.

The campaign has already come under fire from leading child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, who labelled it “a nail in the coffin of common sense” and said there was no research to indicate ‘gender-stereotyped’ toys were unhealthy for children.

But Senator Waters said shoppers should stop and think about how toys are being marketed to children this Christmas.

“While the starkly separate aisles of pink and blue might seem harmless, especially to well-meaning rellies and friends, setting such strong gender stereotypes at early ages can have long-term impacts, including influencing self-perception and career aspirations,” Senator Waters said.

“Out-dated stereotypes about girls and boys and men and women, perpetuate gender inequality, which feeds into very serious problems such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap,” she said.

“While such serious problems seem so far removed from choosing children’s toys, it’s important that we think about this issue, especially when so many children’s toys are being bought.”

The web-based campaign is asking shoppers to sign an online pledge declaring their commitment to boycotting gifts that play to gender stereotypes — which could include Barbie dolls for girls, or monster trucks for boys.

It also wants federal parliamentarians to introduce legislation that would ban retailers from marketing toys to children along gender lines.

It is understood the Greens have not yet formed a position on whether the minor party would support any legislative changes.

One of the campaign’s organisers, Thea Hughes, said while there was nothing wrong with either girls or boys playing with dolls, parents needed to be aware of the dangers of indoctrinating children into thinking about gender in a certain way.

“If you are talking about adults, gender stereotyping is completely unacceptable, it should be the same for kids,” Ms Hughes, a mother of two boys, said.

Play Unlimited has seized on research from Purdue University in the American state of Indiana which found strongly gender-stereotyped toys did not support children’s development as much as gender-neutral toys.

But Dr Carr-Gregg said parents should not start fretting if their son wants a remote control car or their daughter wants a doll.

“These gender differences are hard wired, and while I’m sure socialisation plays a role, to argue that toys in any way relate to domestic violence is, I think, too far a stretch,” he said.

“It’s a nail in the coffin of common sense.”


Victorian election 2014: A very qualified win for the  Labor Party

DANIEL — Dan — Andrews is Premier. Labor won the election. But one point needs to be emphasised absolutely clearly upfront. Victorians did not rush to embrace either Labor’s message or its promises.

Barely one-in-three voters actively wanted Labor; far more voters cast their first preference for the Coalition than for Labor. Indeed Andrews will be pushing to have increased Labor’s first preference tally from that of his losing predecessor John Brumby in 2010.

His win was built on two things — voters drifting away from an insipid if competent government and the preferences of disillusioned former Labor voters who’ve gone Green.

That continues to raise all sorts of issues for Labor as a political party. But for an Andrews government it should mean, it must mean, one thing: do not believe your own bulldust.

You have NOT been given a crushing mandate to embark on big-spending union-friendly changes. You must govern from the centre for the three-in-four Victorians who voted for the three mainstream parties.

There’s an equally important message for the Liberal and National Opposition.

Do not turn this into a de facto Labor-Green government by opposing just for the sake of opposing — forcing Andrews into the arms of the Greens to get things through the Upper House.

It’s in the interests of both Labor and the Coalition — but most of all, Victoria — for much of the next four years to be decided on a bipartisan basis. Let there be no mistake: the Victorian economy is in potentially deep trouble.

We’ve been living in the bubble of Mathew Guy’s high-rise boom. But already our jobless rate is up there with the weaker states, Tasmania and South Australia.

The car industry will have disappeared before the next election.

Further, we are sitting inside a national economy being hit by the end of the resources boom.

We are going to need good government — from both sides of the Parliament


Australian Green car funding was just lemon aid

IN so far as the $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund was supposed to prevent carbon dioxide leaching from Australian-made cars, it looks like being an outstanding success.

Vehicles manufactured in Australia after 2018 will produce zero emissions, not least because Australia will be producing zero cars.

We did get the green cars, however. Well, greenish ones anyway, produced by Ford, Holden and Toyota with taxpayer subsidies.

About $14m was given to Ford to produce the Falcon Ecoboost, which retails for about $35,000, thanks to an $8000 contribution from the taxpayer.

According to motoring writers it’s a pretty good Falcon, almost as powerful as a real one.

“Brilliant!” Bill McKinnon wrote on the Top Gear website. “But also irrational and, in the end, ­irrelevant.

“The four-cylinder Falcon. Why is this car here? Now? Has anyone been screaming for it?”

The Ecoboost Falcon may produce enough torque to tow a semi-trailer of live pigs across the Nullarbor, but it is not what the market wants. A Falcon for tree-huggers is a contradiction in terms.

Joshua Dowling broke the bad news in News Corp Australia’s CarsGuide last week: “Confidential figures reveal just 1800 Ecoboost four-cylinder Falcons have been sold since it went on sale in April 2012 — less than half as many as Ford originally planned.”

Dowling uses the word “sold” loosely, since about 600 Ecoboosts were bought by Ford itself. So if you spot an Ecoboost on the road, there’s a one-in-three chance the driver is a Ford ­employee.

Will it help us reach our Kyoto target? Let us run through the maths.

Carbon emissions from full-strength Falcon: 226g/km. Carbon emissions from a Falcon Lite: 192g/km. Carbon saved: 34g/km. Carbon saved over 100,000km: 3.4 tonnes. Cost saving per tonne: $2300. Cost of a tonne of carbon abatement on the European market: $12.

It would be wrong to say there have been no winners. Holden Cruze purchasers, for example, scored a $1500 subsidy. Buyers of the Camry Hybrid have benefited to the tune of $1100.

The question, however, is why? When Kevin Rudd announced the green cars scheme in 2008 he claimed that “R&D, particularly those related to clean, green technologies, constitute a public good”. Yet the Ecoboost engine was already in existence. Ford’s Australian engineers merely turned it 90 degrees to run a rear-wheel drivetrain. Paradigm changing it was not.

When government takes a risk the private sector is unwilling to shoulder, the justification boils down to this: that society will better off for having a good thing.

Yet the private sector is cautious for good reason. Rushed technology driven by government funding comes at a high cost and is innately inefficient. The postwar aircraft industry is a shining example. If congress had been willing to pay half the cost of developing the jet airliner in the US, as the Labour government did in Britain, the US could have been the first to introduce jet travel.

As it was, Britain nobly led the way in 1952 with de Havilland Comet. Three of them broke up in mid-air within a year of entering service. As Richard R. Nelson pondered dryly in The Moon and the Ghetto, “How much would it have aided the reputation of the American commercial aircraft industry had it, and not the British, been the one to discover the catastrophic effects on pressurised aircraft of metal fatigue?”

Private risk is an effective regulator against ineffective and inefficient investment. Once R&D becomes an autonomous activity, separated from the pressures of the market, it runs rampant. It creates its own class of rent-seeker, driven by a thirst for subsidies rather than honest profit.

This, scarily, may be the condition of the windmill industry, a power source of questionable reliability and enormous cost that no private investor would look twice at were it not for boondoggles like the renewable energy target. Perhaps the technocrats are right; perhaps in time the industry will make technological leaps that will wean it off subsidies.

History suggests otherwise. The notion that government ­investment in technology will turn Australia into a clever country and generate the jobs of the future has been proven wrong repeatedly.

Now that all three remaining car manufacturers have announced plans to pull out of Australia, the green car fiasco looks like an expensive mistake.

Yet at the time plenty of people were prepared to egg Rudd on. Labor’s John Brumby, then Victorian premier, declared: “This is a green-letter day. It is a fantastic day for the auto industry.”

Kim Carr, the innovation, industry, science and research minister, boasted “the primary objective here is to ensure we have high skilled, high-wage jobs for Australian workers”.

The ABC’s Rachel Carbonell editorialised: “The hybrid car deal is a starting point for a greater range of local green transport in Australia.”

The Productivity Commission begged to disagree, warning: “It is unlikely that overall sales of green vehicles would increase markedly … policies that target use of particular abatement technologies become redundant, and will only impose additional, unnecessary costs.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union spokesman Ian Jones responded: “We have grown to expect this sort of rubbish from them, they have historically been anti-manufacturing industry.”

Six years later, with the folly of auto welfare laid bare and the budget deficit mounting, the Green Car Innovation Fund’s critics have been vindicated, and the naked self-interest of the unions, car manufacturers and Labor governments in Victoria and South Australia are plain for all to see.

It may not have been Labor’s most expensive folly but it is money that Joe Hockey would dearly love to get back. He could do so by re-indexing excise on petrol, making it a little more expensive at the pump, but Labor and the Greens — the green motoring champions — are determined to block that.


3 December, 2014

Ideology and politics trump reality and understanding

Disability benefit reforms proposed by Abbott government rejected in Senate on the dreamy grounds that they were not backed by big enough handouts

Carers Alliance condemns the Senate for playing political games with the employment, lives and well-being of people with intellectual disability.

“Last week the Senate voted down sensible government legislation which would have given some certainty to the continued employment of people with intellectual disability ” said Mary Lou Carter, secretary of the Carers Alliance.

“Thanks to the Senate’s political gainsaying: limbo does exist, and that’s where the situation has been left to languish for people with intellectual disability employed in supported employment in Australian Disability Enterprises.” said Mrs Carter.

While some have applauded this outcome, it is people with intellectual disabilities and the people least able to speak for themselves, whose situation is being exploited and manipulated for vain political purposes.

So the upshot of all of this is: negotiations continue.

Standing on the sidelines are people with intellectual disabilities themselves who are not all represented, and their greatest supporters: their parents and families. They have been caught up in a process which has become a sad game of oneupmanship leaving them in an untenable situation.

Carers Alliance does not want to see people with intellectual disability lose their precious jobs and believes employment is real and practical social inclusion as opposed to a warm and fuzzy adjective-noun. Employment opportunities for people with intellectual disability are limited and should not be further eroded by the Senate’s political games.

A way forward must be found for people with intellectual disability to retain their employment and for a return to stability and certainty to the disability sector.

To do otherwise may result in people with the most to lose,  not being seen and not being heard.


Palmer’s Mineralogy suffers Chinese burn

CLIVE Palmer’s flagship private company will be stripped of its ­environmental approvals for the $10 billion Sino Iron project in the Pilbara after suffering a resounding defeat in the West Australian Supreme Court.

In the latest blow to the federal MP in his multi-pronged legal war against estranged business partner Citic Pacific, judge James Edelman ruled Mineralogy had breached its obligations by refusing to transfer the approvals to the Chinese company. The ruling tightens China’s grip on Sino Iron, which began producing iron ore last year, but is the focus of a legal battle between Citic and Mr Palmer, on whose tenements the project was built.

Mr Palmer’s attempts to seize control of the project from the Chinese government-owned Citic so far have been unsuccessful.

The mine, rail and port development near Karratha is one of China’s biggest investments in Australia.

Mineralogy was granted environmental approvals for the project in 2003, but later signed a deal for them to be handed over to Citic, which became the project operator and major shareholder.

Mineralogy’s refusal to transfer the government approvals has forced Citic to rely on Mr Palmer’s company to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

It is understood Mineralogy’s obstructiveness has risked compliance breaches, leading Citic to take the matter to court.

In his judgment published on Thursday night, Justice Edelman said there would be “serious commercial inconvenience” to Citic if Mineralogy continued to refuse to hand over the approvals.

He noted Citic had written to Mineralogy at least six times since 2012 requesting a transfer of an approval from the WA Environmental Protection Authority.

Justice Edelman found nine reasons he believed Citic’s submissions should be accepted.

“Any of these nine reasons would have been sufficient on its own to reject the submissions of Mineralogy,” he said.

“In combination, the nine ­reasons mean that the Citic parties’ construction is ­irresistible.”

The court defeat is the latest setback in his brawl with Citic, whom Mr Palmer has described publicly as “Chinese mongrels”.

The WA Supreme Court ruled in September against Mineralogy’s bid to serve wind-up ­notices on Citic.

Mr Palmer also failed in Queensland to win a permanent stay of a dispute in which Citic ­alleges Mineralogy wrongfully ­siphoned more than $12 million of Citic’s cash.

He also dropped a defamation action against The Australian over five stories published in the ­newspaper last year by journalist ­Hedley Thomas.

In August, he was hit with a legal bill of more than $1 million after Justice Edelman described Mineralogy’s courtroom tactics in a dispute with Citic over royalties as “absurd” and “unreasonable”.

Mr Palmer is fighting Citic for royalties he says are worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Such earnings would be critical for the Queensland businessman, as several of his other assets are struggling. Mineralogy did not ­respond to requests for comment yesterday.


Time to reload on ABC warrior Mark Scott

Miranda Devine

THIS is a tale of two Australias. In one Australia you have the increasingly derided wealth creators. In the other, you have the burgeoning new entitlement class – “leaners” who rely on big government to protect them from the disciplines of the market.

On the one hand, you have 7000 workers beavering away on Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara, which will throw off an annual 55 billion tonnes of premium iron ore, worth $5 billion, once it’s completed next September.

The $12 billion investment in the mine, including building a heavy rail line 344km to Port Hedland, was borne entirely by Rinehart and her 30 per cent Asian equity partners, until she achieved debt ­financing of $8 billion this year, in the largest new mining project ­finance deal in history.

On the other hand, you have the ABC, the taxpayer-funded media leviathan which costs $1.1 billion a year and is squealing over a 5 per cent haircut.

The government’s problem is that it will not challenge the entitlement class. And none is more entitled than the ABC, with its fat employment contracts, generous superannuation, curious business plan, and even more curious ­approach to wealth creation.

For instance, you will never hear about the Roy Hill triumph on ‘Our ABC’ — apart from criticism from that bastion of integrity, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and ­Energy Union.

Two examples illustrate the ABC’s surreal approach to other people’s money. Example one: the ABC enterprise agreement, 2013-16, which covers an 8 per cent annual growth of wages and perks, including superannuation contributions of 17-20 per cent, more than double the rate of the private sector. The employment contract guarantees minimum 2.5-2.6 per cent pay rises every year. If you work Saturdays, you are paid time-and-a-half, Sundays is double time and public holidays double time-and-a-half. Then there are various allowances, for meals or television clothing, or if you live in an “isolated locality” — like Darwin. If you work in Kununurra you get an extra seven days annual leave.

Maternity leave is 14 weeks, adoption leave is six weeks and supporting partners’ leave is two weeks. You get paid leave to move house or for “special religious ceremonial or cultural obligations”.

There is study leave of up to five hours a week. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees get a day’s paid leave each year to participate in NAIDOC Week.

All this and salaries which now outstrip their equivalents in the private sector.

Example two: in 2006, when Mark Scott was hired as ABC managing director, the 2005-06 annual report shows the salary to be about $430,000, including perks, ­although a rival contender for the job remembers the base salary ­offered at the time was more like $300,000.

Early in Scott’s reign, rumours were printed that he was in line for the BBC’s top job. Afraid of losing him, the board, then chaired by banker Maurice Newman, decided to give him a lavish pay rise of more than $200,000. They did this by ­reclassifying his position, making it one of the highest paid public service jobs in the country.

ABC staff listen as Mark Scott delivers an address regarding budget cuts at the ABC in Ul
ABC staff listen as Mark Scott delivers an address regarding budget cuts at the ABC in Ultimo, Sydney.
The 2013-14 annual report shows Scott’s salary now to be $805,392.

Whether there was any truth in the BBC rumour is unknown, but what is known is that Scott’s benefactor at his previous employer Fairfax Media, CEO Fred Hilmer, was on his way out of the ailing company. Scott had little journalism experience when he was elevated to be Fairfax editorial director, but Hilmer, a management theory academic, was impressed by his Masters in Public Administration from Harvard.

Halfway through a second five-year term, Scott has created a ­Sydney-centric empire which has entrenched the ABC’s leftist bias while shirking the regional responsibilities of its charter and ­expanding digital strategy deliberately to annihilate commercial competitors.

The only real instrument of control over the ABC available to any government is funding, and the feral reaction to the modest 5 per cent cut over five years proposed by Malcolm Turnbull shows the political dangers. Scott’s response has been to damage the government at its electoral base, by slashing at ­regional and rural services, disproportionately disadvantaging Coalition voters while beefing up digital spending.

This is tantamount to a declaration of war. The only answer for the government is to return fire, with a really significant funding cut to the ABC’s $1.1 billion budget.

The furore could hardly be more than it is for the piddling cut ­already planned. And part of the savings could be used to create a new regional-only independent public broadcaster, with a charter to provide the service Australians love and expect from ‘Our ABC’.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott says has no objection to nuclear energy and would be 'fine' with a proposal for it

Interesting that subsidies are fine for windmills and solar farms but not for nuclear

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he would be "fine" with someone putting forward a nuclear energy proposal and described the Fukushima meltdown as a "problem".

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier told Fairfax Media nuclear energy was an "obvious" way to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Abbott agreed that nuclear technology was worth considering.  "I don't have any theological objection to nuclear energy," Mr Abbott said.

"Nuclear energy is a very important part of the energy mix of many countries - Japan, and it's coming back in Japan after the Fukushima problem."

Mr Abbott has said there is no need for Australia to pursue nuclear energy due to the nation's large coal and gas reserves.

But he said nuclear energy would help cut carbon pollution.

"If we are to dramatically reduce emissions we have to remember that the one absolutely proven way of generating emissions-free baseload power is through nuclear," he said.

Mr Abbott warned the Government was not interested in providing financial incentives to private operators to build nuclear-power facilities in Australia.

"If someone wants to put a proposal for nuclear energy generation here in Australia - fine," Mr Abbott said.

"But don't expect a Government subsidy.  "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen because it's economically feasible, not because the Government runs around offering a subsidy."

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek dismissed nuclear power as an alternative.

There is no nuclear power generated in Australia.


Far North Queensland Council Puts People & Environment Before Proposed Wind Farm Disaster

THE Tablelands Regional Council has been accused of being “openly hostile” towards a controversial wind farm project and trying everything to impede its progress.

It comes as the Senate launches an inquiry into the effectiveness of wind turbines, scrutinising their regulatory governance and economic impact.

The $380 million project to be built near Walkamin is to include up to 75 turbines.  It is a joint venture by property developers Port Bajool and power producers Ratch Australia.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney called in the development application in June, taking responsibility to assess it away from the Mareeba Shire Council, which de-amalgamated from the Tablelands Regional Council.

Mr Seeney has promised not to make a decision over the Mt Emerald Wind Farm until he meets with residents at this weekend’s Community Cabinet in Mareeba.

In an email obtained by The Cairns Post, Cook MP David Kempton responded to claims his government had ignored residents’ concerns about the wind farm, assuring there had been a full and proper investigation of the project.

“The Tablelands Regional Council has been openly hostile to this project from the outset,’’ he said.  “I have given full personal support to this project as I believe the regional benefits will far out-weight the perceived and in many cases, misguided information.

“I can also assure you I have received many delegations from the opponents over the time since this project was mooted.”

When questioned about the email by The Cairns Post, Mr Kempton only offered the following statement:  “The (wind farm) is being determined by the Deputy Premier and I have confidence there will be proper and rigorous process around the determination,” he said.

Tableland Division 6 Councillor Marjorie Pagani said the council had legitimately raised a number of concerns about the development when the application first came to the council, and there had been no vote taken on it.

“What he is interpreting as open hostility was in fact a series of requisition questions sent by our planning department to the developer, which were never answered,’’ he said.

“There were pages and pages of very significant and important questions relating to planning, roads, noise, environmental/ecological issues, and even size of turbines, for example.

“They hadn’t even put the size of their proposed development, or the size of each turbine.”

Tableland Mayor Rosa Lee Long, in a statement, said since the Mareeba Shire Council had taken over the application after de-amalgamation, TRC continued to have concerns, including the potential impact of heavy vehicles on local roads during the construction process.

Meanwhile, the Senate has launched an inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines.  The inquiry, a first in Australia, will examine issues such as impact on household electricity prices, the role of the Clean Energy Regulator, effect on fauna, planning processes, and whole-of-life CO2 inputs and outputs.


2 December, 2014

Radioactive meltdown over CSG is a total beat-up

THE anti-coal seam gas lobby has jumped the shark with its phoney scare campaign against drilling in NSW and Queensland. While there are legitimate arguments about access to good farming land and discussions about artesian water to be had, the Lock the Gate Alliance and its media promoters at the ABC and in the Fairfax press are promoting utterly nonsensical claims to feed the inherent biases of their green-left anti-development followers.

Last Monday, in its rapidly shrinking editions, The Sydney Morning Herald warned that “radioactive material is being used at some coal seam gas drilling sites in NSW, raising concerns about potential health and environmental impacts”.

Here’s some news for The Herald’s small band of readers — radioactive material is also being used at most leading hospitals in Australia, and it’s being used in almost exactly the same manner for the same reasons that it’s being used by those hoping to unlock domestic reliable clean energy sources.

In hospitals, the isotopes (some produced at Lucas Heights — which the deep greens want to shut down, denying patients their lifesaving medications) are introduced into our bodies in therapies such as brachytherapy. The radioactive isotope is commonly contained in a liquid which patients drink, or in a pill which they swallow, and is used in the treatment of breast, prostate, cervical and skin cancers.

The caesium-137 (CS137) used by gas drillers is also about the size of a pill. Unlike the doses used in medicine it never comes into contact with any person. It is used for measuring rock and fluid densities in a gas deposit.

The isotope is sealed inside a container and never comes into contact with earth, gas or fracking fluid.

It is not used for drilling or for fracking, but for making scientific measurements in a situation where no other measuring device will do the job effectively.

Publicly available information, on the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency website, states the radioisotopes used in medicine (ingested therapies) are more dangerous than in densitometers.

Caesium 137 used in the treatment of tumours is up to 1500 times more intense than that used in well-logging (oil/gas). The CS137 used in brachytherapy emits energy in the range 3-12 curies. It is deemed category 2 — “very dangerous” — by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The CS137 used in well-logging is in the range 1-2 curies. It is deemed “dangerous” by the IAEA, which says exposure to this level of radiation is “extremely unlikely” to permanently injure or be life-threatening. There would be “little or no risk of immediate health risks for any person beyond a few metres”.

Why this would raise concern with anyone is a mystery but, hey, the SMH and ABC have a distinguished record of presenting humbug to prop up the prejudices of their inner urban audiences.

The SMH used all the scare tactics at its command to induce panic among the basket-weaving luvvies, noting that the CS137 is “produced in nuclear reactors, the material is potentially deadly and among the main radiation concerns at failed power stations at Chernobyl and Fukushima”.

Know what? The forecourt of the federal parliament building is radioactive. Lock the Gate Alliance protesters shouldn’t linger there too long or they may set their Geiger counters clicking.

For that matter, bananas are also radioactive.

Watch out for those spooky figures in pyjamas — and eating 20 million bananas would give you a fatal dose of radioactivity.

That’s as likely to occur as anyone being affected by the CS137 being used to measure liquid density in the Pilliga — but the SMH won’t tell you that because it would destroy its dishonest campaign.

The SMH scarily says CS137 is “used for drilling”, which implies a digging purpose. A more accurate description is that the enclosed isotope is used in tandem with a detection device — after the well has been drilled — as a tool for confirming underground rock and fluid densities.

This enclosed isotope and detection apparatus is called a densitometer.

And, as per usual, the SMH uses unsubstantiated claims by activists to support the thrust of its story.

“Environmental groups say the use of radioactive material is not disclosed in the CSG projects’ review of environmental factors ...” the Herald’s article says.

If the SMH had bothered checking properly, it would have found the inclusion of the CS137 at Appendix A of the REF.

An anti-gas campaigner is quoted saying the use of CS137 is “downplayed” (implying that it actually is mentioned) and that the inclusion of household ingredients is “played up”.

Hmmm, perhaps the reason CS137 is not “played up” is because it is NOT included in the fracking fluids, to which the household products reference is directed — and it is a fact that most of the chemicals used in fracking can be found in the average house — kitchen or laundry.

All of these chemicals are disclosed by the gas companies (including the CS137, although this has nothing to do with the fracking fluid, which the activists continually and inaccurately claim contains toxic chemicals).

The SMH reports Lock The Gate spokeswoman Vicki Perrin saying she is disturbed “there are exposure standards for workers but no exposure standards for the community”.

Of greater concern is the SMH’s embrace of her false claim as the regulations are explicitly drafted to protect the community and the environment, including the workers. So let’s review the facts that the SMH wilfully ignored in its report.

The use of the isotope is commonplace in many industries, including medicine.

Its use in gas drilling is approved under licence, including explicit handling regulations.

The encased isotopes so terrifyingly represented by the SMH pose no threat to people or environment.

Its use is disclosed in the environmental factors report approved by the government regulatory authorities and is publicised by the gas companies mentioned in the article.

It’s to be presumed that members of the SMH staff and Lock the Gate and other protest groups will henceforth refuse any treatment involving nuclear medicines.  It would be supreme hypocrisy not to.


Lewis report on ABC canvasses role for minister in directing how cuts be made

The federal government would gain new powers to set out what it expects from the ABC, raising fears of political interference in the national broadcaster, under a recommendation of the confidential Lewis review.  And some services now provided for free may attract a user charge as the government looks to rein in costs and clip the ABC's wings.

The Lewis review into the ABC and SBS has recommended the Minister for Communications issue each broadcaster with "a statement of the government's expectations" relating to "financial management and transparency".

A leaked copy, obtained by Fairfax Media, also reveals Peter Lewis identified a number of efficiency measures that have not been taken up by the ABC or SBS, which would be highly controversial with viewers and within the broadcast industry.

These include outsourcing most of the ABC's production, scrapping the retransmission of the ABC and the SBS on Foxtel's cable services (which could have implications for viewers with poor reception), scrapping digital radio and charging for the ABC's iView service.

The proposed "statement of the government's expectations" will fuel suspicions of potential political interference in editorial policy given the Coalition's well documented hostility to the broadcaster's approach.

In February this year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott used a radio interview in Sydney to complain, arguing "a lot of people feel at the moment that the ABC instinctively takes everyone's side but Australia's".

Greens senator Scott Ludlam said the suggestion "really crosses the line, especially with all the 'Team Australia' talk Mr Abbott has engaged in".

As the debate over the ABC's announced cuts continues to cause angst within the Coalition, notably for members from rural areas, Mr Turnbull is expected to release the Lewis report on Monday, when Senate committees hold more hearings.

In his speech announcing a cut of $207 million over four years from the ABC 10 days ago Mr Turnbull made an oblique reference to the controversial proposal. "An interesting insight from the efficiency study was that the ABC and SBS boards would benefit from a clearer understanding of the government's budget priorities and the outcomes that the government is seeking from its annual investment of taxpayers' money," he said

The proposal has been raised privately with the ABC board, which is understood to be strongly opposed to this level of intervention because it fears directions on where cuts should be made would amount to editorial intervention.

The Lewis report acknowledged that  "a ministerial statement of expectations would be controversial and could give rise to concerns that the government is intervening in the ABC and SBS for political reasons".

But the report went on to say that such a statement "would assist boards to clearly understand the efficiency and financial outcomes the government is seeking".
The minister already has power under the ABC and SBS Acts to bring policy considerations to the attention of the board. This has mainly been used in relation to industrial relations matters.

The Lewis recommendation appears to contemplate a mechanism where the minister can direct the national broadcaster on a more granular level, including where cuts should be made.

Senator Ludlam said he was mystified by the role of the Nationals in the ABC funding controversy because it was "always obvious" that regional services would be trimmed if cuts were made.

"That's why you have a national broadcaster, so not every decision is made on profit and loss critieria but on social needs also," he said.

Other highlights of the report are:

* A strong preference towards outsourcing programming production.  The reason why the ABC spends a much higher proportion of its budget on staff is that it makes a higher proportion of its programming in-house than the commercial networks. The Lewis report found that outsourcing production facilities would save $0.4 million a year and $90 million in capital costs (the cost of studios) but would cost $21.6 million.

* A recommendation that the ABC and SBS get out of digital radio and instead build up streaming on the internet and mobile. This would save $3.8 million a year for the ABC and $2.1 million for SBS, though it would cost $20 million to implement. The move would deeply upset the commercial radio industry, which has made big investments in digital radio and would require legislation.

* Charging for iView. The report suggested this service should be "monetised" by charging after a short period of free access, particularly as its popularity meant the bandwitdth cost would increase rapidly.

* Ceasing retransmission of the ABC and SBS on Foxtel. This would save $6 million a year for the broadcasters, but the ABC is committed until 2017 and SBS warned termination might affect its income earning channel, World movies.


Muslim cleric becomes NSW police chaplain

Wait for the corruption

Thirty-four-year-old Sheikh Ahmed Abdo has become NSW’s first Muslim police chaplain since 2011, and is believed to be the only Muslim to hold the position currently in any state or territory of Australia.

He succeeds the late NSW police chaplain Sheikh Khalil Chami, who died in 2011.

At his swearing in ceremony in Fairfield on Thursday, he recalled how his experience of discrimination, growing up in southwest Sydney, shaped his views of the police force.

He said he was experienced racist abuse daily, and at one point even feared for his life, while being followed home by his tormenters.

"My home was about 10 minutes away. But that afternoon, it (felt like) the longest walk in my life. Following me were scores of young people. Unfortunately they had taken it upon themselves to ensure that I didn't arrive home safely."

He turned to police for help – filing a complaint at a local police station, and he was promised, police would do everything they could to ensure he was safe.

“And we go home that day, having been comforted by a lovely man, who took it from his own heart to ensure that this insignificant young boy goes home with a raised head."

He says his experience made him want to give back to the police who once helped him.

“I think police for many people are seen as a power and an authority. However, I’d like to see the police - and this is how I saw the police as a young boy - as a refuge. As a family you can go to and seek help from.”

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the police chaplain’s role was to “help the helpers”, providing comfort and spiritual guidance to officers to help them deal with traumatic events.

“He’s there to meet the spiritual needs of police officers, particularly our Muslim police officers, as and when they may need the comfort that comes from a chaplain. The work that they perform can’t be overstated.”

The Commissioner said it was hoped Abdo’s appointment would help to promote unity, at a time of increased tensions and misunderstanding between Muslims and the wider community.

“We are multicultural police force, and we have to be. The reality is that we live in a multicultural society, and so we are only going to be able to service that community if we have officers from those communities. And the chaplains need to be there to support and represent those officers who are from those communities.”

The ceremony was also attended by the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, and other senior police officers and community leaders.


The Medicare copayment is dead, so long live in health reform

This is the approach that advocates of health reform must adopt now that the Abbott government's co-payment initiative appears doomed to defeat.

This is why the CIS has developed a health reform 'Plan B' designed to eliminate the political obstacles that frustrated the government's modest health cost-sharing proposal.

Instead of trying to force everyone to pay something for GP and other medical services, we should flip this proposition. Instead, we should give people the option of taking control over their own health dollars and let them save and spend their own money on health care as they wish.

What is needed is a new vision for healthcare in Australia, one based on the low cost Singapore Health Saving Account (HSA) model, which delivers First World standards of care and health outcomes.

While Singapore devotes less than half the amount of GDP to health, and spends far less per person on health than Australia, the UK and New Zealand, life expectancy is superior to all three countries.

In Lessons from Singapore: Opt-Out Health Saving Accounts for Australia, David Gadiel and I argued that Australia could emulate the cost-effective Singapore model by allowing people to voluntarily trade their Medicare entitlements for an annual 'Health Voucher' worth average per person government spending on health - approximately $4,500 in 2012-13.

This voucher would be deposited in a HSA linked to a person's superannuation account, and HSA funds would be used to meet the cost of specified health expenses including GP services and health insurance premiums to cover the cost of chronic and catastrophic conditions.

In an ageing Australia, using the funds accumulated in HSAs - rather than taxes - to pay for health, would relieve future health cost pressures on government budgets.

Over a person's lifetime, the savings generated by more cost-conscious use of services and lower insurance premiums would accrue as higher superannuation balances and retirement incomes. The financial advantages would make HSAs an attractive option.

Adapting the HSA model within a framework of introducing greater choice into the health system is also politically feasible, since those who wished to remain with Medicare could do so.


1 December, 2014

It’s time to lift your ABC game

Piers Akerman

In the next few weeks, ABC supremo Mark Scott is going to receive an unwelcome and long overdue letter from Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull which will point out the obvious shortcomings in the public broadcaster’s operations.

It will contain reasonable, thoughtful requests some of which were foreshadowed in a speech Turnbull delivered in Adelaide last week.
It will not, for example, point out that the bloated workers’ collective is abysmally run by Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director Mark Scott.

That should be self-evident and is a point that hardly bears repeating. But it may reiterate the palpable need for Scott’s two roles to be separated to ensure that there is the chance that at least one of the functions will be performed adequately.

As Turnbull said, the current structure creates the impression that the Managing Director is directly in charge of ABC News and Current Affairs which he is not, and given the wide range of his responsibilities, could not be.

Scott’s role as Editor-in-Chief created the impression that he is directly in charge and responsible for the ABC’s news and current affairs programs but clearly he isn’t.

The buck never stops with him as it would if he were running the show.

Turnbull is effectively challenging the current board to pull its collective finger out and address some of the ABC’s inherent problems instead of sticking its collective head in the sand.
He said the board should expect the head of news and current affairs, like the CFO, to report to it directly as well as to the managing director, so the board can discharge its statutory obligation “to ensure that the gathering and presentation by the Corporation of news and information is accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism.”

Turnbull has been the target of complaints from taxpayers who assume that the minister is responsible for ensuring that the ABC’s news and current affairs is accurate and impartial.

That is not his role, nor the government’s role, nor should it be.
“The Government does not and should never have any control over the news and current affairs of the ABC or SBS. Mr Putin’s model of media management is no more admirable than his foreign policy,” Turnbull said in his address Wednesday. “But their boards are responsible for their objectivity and accuracy.”

Turnbull said he had heard directors say “they do not want to get involved” and made the understandable point that if they do not want to get involved they should resign. The board of each broadcaster has a responsibility and must discharge it, and be seen diligently to discharge it, or the board members should quit.

Extraordinarily, the ABC doesn’t have a chief financial officer. That role is currently undertaken by the chief operating officer, David Pendleton, the Chief Operating Officer who, in that role, is responsible for most of the resources and cost base of the ABC.

A company like the ABC should have a qualified CFO who reports directly to the Board as well as the CEO, someone who is fearlessly independent, ensuring that the management and board understand precisely where and how funds are being spent and what everything costs.

The ABC’s audience is ageing. In its attempts to attract a more youthful following it has dumbed down its products and encouraged productions that are offensive to the large sections of the population.

It cannot compete with its commercial rivals but it uses more than a $1 billion of taxpayers’ funds annually to try and steal their hard-won audiences.

In an age of increasing media diversity with a rapidly expanding range of delivery options, the need for state-funded broadcasters is itself highly questionable.

Yet the ABC clings to the myth that it fulfils a vital national need as if on the one hand its listeners were patiently seeking out its broadcasts with crystal sets and cats whiskers, even as it extends into the digital marketplace.

The days of the blue-rinsed Blue Hills’ audience have gone, and even if they had not passed with age, they would have fled from the foul-mouthed ideological commentary the ABC now offers routinely.

The task before the board is simple. Stop the blatant featherbedding that takes place at the bloated workers’ collective and reject the views of the highly-unionised workforce as the charter demands.

The immediate appointment of a fierce and fearless independent bean counter removed from the operational side of the organisation would be a good start.

The appointment of a managing director prepared to accept that the buck actually stops with him or her, and not with a functionary down the line, would be another worthwhile move.

If the board wants to continue to shirk its statutory obligation to ensure the CEO acts in accordance with the ABC charter it should do the decent thing and let the government appoint individuals who will not be afraid to address the ABC’s problems.



The Labor party won the election by a big margin so the churches now have a real worry about the matters below

The Labor and Greens proposal to change Equal Opportunity laws to allow judges to decide fundamental religious doctrines, beliefs and principles of faith, in order to promote equal opportunity, has created an unprecedented alliance. The policies of the Labor Party on this issue are highlighted in the recently released  Christian Values Checklist for the Victorian election on Saturday 29th November 2014.

The Catholic, Anglican, Coptic Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist and Presbyterian churches have all joined together to call upon the parties contesting the Victorian elections to maintain the current fair and balanced Equal Opportunity laws. Jewish Rabbis and Muslim Imams have also publicly expressed their concern.

1.  Rabbi Mark Shimon + Catholic and Islamic Leaders speak out:

2.  YouTube Rev Mark Durie:

3.   Combined Church Statement:   

"The right to religious freedom of faith-based organisations, such as schools, hospitals, charities, welfare agencies, counselling and support services to employ those who share their beliefs and values, is embedded in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Labor and Greens proposal to amend the state law is a way of avoiding the intention of this important International Covenant," John Miller, spokesman for the Australian Christian Values Institute said in an issued media release.

"At the heart of the issue is the freedom of religious faiths to employ staff who affirm their beliefs. They have an internationally established right to do this. It is more than the right that the Labor and Greens parties claim for themselves when they select staff who share their ethos and values. The Labor and Greens parties would object if they were forced to employ Liberal party members in their offices".

"If the Labor, Greens and the Sex party, who also back the proposal, want to change the law then they should be prepared to apply it to themselves, and the trade unions, in the interests of a level playing field."


Witnesses setback for Julia Gillard at union royal commission

JULIA Gillard has suffered a ­setback in her bid to demolish ­allegations she received “wads of cash” from a corrupt union boss boyfriend in the 1990s, after the evidence of two key witnesses was accepted as reliable.

The counsel assisting the royal commission into union corruption, Jeremy Stoljar SC, yesterday dismissed the former Labor prime minister’s argument her evidence should be given more weight than that of Wayne Hem, a former Australian Workers’ Union staffer, and Athol James, a retired builder who helped to renovate Ms ­Gillard’s home.

The only plus for Ms Gillard in Mr Stoljar’s official reply to her legal response to his recommendations was the counsel ­assisting’s slight tempering of savage criticism that Ms Gillard could have helped prevent fraud by her then boyfriend Bruce ­Wilson if she had been more ­rigorous as a lawyer in setting up a slush fund for him.

Mr Stoljar appears to stick with his finding that Ms Gillard’s legal work on the fund was “questionable” — but he accepts Ms Gillard’s submission that it would still have been possible for Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt to “achieve their aims by other means” if the future prime minister had acted differently.

The counsel assisting has ­recommended to Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon QC, who will hand down an interim report on December 15, that Mr Wilson and his former AWU sidekick Ralph Blewitt face ­charges of criminal fraud and conspiracy arising from the AWU Workplace Reform Association that Ms Gillard helped them set up.

Despite criticism of Ms Gillard’s conduct and a finding that Mr Wilson paid for some of her home renovations, Mr Stoljar accepts Ms Gillard was not involved in criminal conduct and only later became aware that her then boyfriend’s slush fund was used to commit fraud.

Sticking with his view that Mr Hem and Mr James were telling the truth, Mr Stoljar yesterday gave “no probative force” to Ms Gillard’s request in a submission this month “to give significant weight to (her) good character and reputation” and to consider that the commission had little or no evidence about the character and reputation of two witnesses with accounts that conflicted with her account.

The counsel assisting said that while Ms Gillard was someone who had “enjoyed a long and immensely successful career in public life”, the inference could not be drawn that because Mr Hem and Mr James were “private persons” without power and influence that they were “not of good character and reputation”.

No evidence was called about their characters in cross-examination, Mr Stoljar said, and they were under no obligation to positively prove it.

Mr Stoljar rejected Ms Gillard’s claim that some of Mr Hem’s evidence was “strongly suggestive of recent invention”, saying it was difficult to understand any possible basis on which Mr Hem would “deliberately give false evidence on oath”.

“Mr Hem’s demeanour when giving evidence was of a person doing his best to remember what occurred. He was not cross-examined to the effect that he was ‘inventing’ his evidence. As will be recalled, Mr Wilson was careful not to deny that he had given Mr Hem $5000 in cash to deposit in Ms Gillard’s account.”

Mr Stoljar gave Mr Hem’s evidence further credibility by contrasting it with the inconsistencies of Con Spiridis, a builder whose “recollection of events is clearly unreliable”.

In another blow to Ms Gillard’s response submission, Mr Stoljar disputed her claim it was “inherently unlikely” that she would have told Mr James “in detail about intimate personal financial matters” to the effect that Mr Wilson was paying for renovations on her house. On the contrary, Mr Stoljar said, what Mr James had said Ms Gillard raised with him were not intimate personal financial matters, but remarks about “how payment of invoices would be effected”.

In other formal replies, Mr Stoljar slapped down the claim of Health Services Union official Kathy Jackson that he had departed from a planned “theme” of dealing with her treatment as a corruption whistleblower. He noted Ms Jackson’s barrister had said on August 28 he did not contend she was “ambushed” — as she had claimed in July — when he questioned Ms Jackson about her own alleged misuse of union funds. Only this month had Ms Jackson’s lawyer said her ambush complaint “has a degree of validity”.

Mr Stoljar rejected claims by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union that the commission had been inconsistent by recommending charges against its officials when there was civil court action occurring, but refraining from pursuing Ms Jackson in areas of ongoing court action.


Lambie off to bad start with meaningless ANPHA stand

On her first full day as an independent, Jacquie Lambie joined three other crossbench senators in pointlessly thwarting the government's bill to formalise the abolition of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) - an agency that was already dismantled earlier this year, with many of its responsibilities reassigned within the Department of Health.

ANPHA has already ceased to exist, and stopping the repeal bill is not going to resurrect it. Even as a symbolic gesture, this is a poor move on Lambie's part, because if ever an agency were ripe for cutting, it's ANPHA.

During its three years, the agency focused primarily on obesity, alcohol, and tobacco - a narrow segment of the broader category of preventive health. Its initiatives included a healthy eating cookbook featuring recipes for such basic dishes as spaghetti bolognese; a project that received nearly $190,000 in funding.

As an attempt to address obesity-related diseases, ANPHA was not cost-effective, it was wasteful.

The CEO of ANPHA is still being paid an annual salary of over $300,000 even though the agency has been closed down. Louise Sylvan, whose contract runs until 2016, declined to take a redundancy package earlier this year, and without legislation her contract - and salary - remain in effect.

From Louise Sylvan's perspective, declining the redundancy was the smart thing to do. But from the taxpayer's perspective, it's just money down the drain.

Preventing the repeal bill from going through does nothing to protect ANPHA. All it protects is bureaucratic jobs that have been literally 'do-nothing' for several months already.


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.

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

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.

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/is 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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To be continued ....
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