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, 2015

Totally empty Warmist thinking

The puff below appeared in The New Daily, which aspires to be a serious newspaper.  It was headed "Why Australia is sitting on a clean energy goldmine" and was written by Rob Burgess, their  economics commentator and previously a journalist on Left-leaning newspapers.

I looked forward to hearing what particular activity or resource Australia had that would give it the great advantage claimed.  Do we have rare earth metals in abundance?  Do we make very efficient solar cells?  Do we make better wind turbines?  I knew in advance that the answers to those question would be No, so what was it that had I not thought of or what was it that did I not know?

I was disappointed entirely.  All there is below are conventional prophecies and some very airy generalities that are well known but  are in no way explicitly tied to the subject at hand. 

Take this sentence:

"The expertise we develop in energy efficiency, renewable technologies, power grid management and transport networks can be exported to nations trying to catch up".

That is just a pious hope with no evidence or argument offered that it is happening or will happen.

Mr Burgess clearly has nothing to say but says it at length. But Warmist thinking is generally brainless so I don't suppose I should have been surprised

Australia has for a long time become convinced that it ‘got lucky’ via the mining boom, and that the subsequent boost in national income and household wealth could not be generated any other way – a defeatist position that would make industrial nations such as Germany and Japan, or newly-industrialised Malaysia, cringe.

That’s because their growth stories are not put down to ‘luck’ but to successful deployment of financial capital, innovation, development of human capital, and transparent and stable systems of governance.

Australia’s new comparative advantage, then, will be found in acknowledging how far along the non-luck path we are.

Despite pockets of deprivation, Australia is still one of the wealthiest nations in the world and its people rank second only to the Norwegians on the United Nation’s human development index.

The USA is eighth, the UK 14th and Japan 20th, by way of comparison.

Our rule of law, and stable and well-regulated financial markets, make Australia an excellent place to invest, meaning financing our renewable energy future will be easier and cheaper than for developing nations.

And to those advantages – strong human capital and attractiveness to investors – can be added a growing recognition that services exports will form a large part of our future economic growth.

The expertise we develop in energy efficiency, renewable technologies, power grid management and transport networks can be exported to nations trying to catch up.

Oh, and there’s a bit of luck too – we have excellent natural resources to develop in renewable energy areas such as solar, wind, wave, biomass and biofuels. We also have huge scope to offset future carbon emissions via carbon forestry.

In short, Australia is sitting on a carbon-free goldmine. We are smart enough, wealthy enough, export-oriented enough, well governed enough and blessed enough in natural resources to be ahead of the curve in the transition to clean energy.
The five-year challenge

At the heart of the Paris agreement is a five-yearly ‘stocktake’ of how each nation is doing with meeting its self-nominated targets.

Australia took a very modest target to Paris at the end of November, but it will now face five-yearly check-ups to see if, firstly, it has met the target, and, secondly, whether it will offer a stronger target for the next five years.

As the US, China and others strengthen their targets, they will not idly disregard laggard nations – the threat of trade measures such as ‘border tax adjustments‘, are the means by which ‘non-binding’ pledges will, in effect, be made binding.

Also, as with all 195 nations who have signed up to the Paris agreement, Australia is committed to globally binding transparency measures – that is, we can’t fake our carbon emissions.

But why would we?

The tide of history is running, strongly. The arguments put forward by the fossil-fuel lobby, the Abbott government, and a few King Canute-like backers in the media, have been lost.

Yes, Australia has among the highest per-capita carbon emissions in the world, and the highest carbon-intensity per unit of GDP. So we have more work to do than comparable nations to keep up with the post-COP21 pack.

But the point that must not be missed is that those reductions will be easier here than just about anywhere.

It is our new comparative advantage.

And though it’s based partly on luck, to capitalise on it we will need world-beating innovation, business acumen, policy responses and, most importantly, a voting public given the full facts of where the tide of history is flowing, rather than the unworthy fear campaigns of the past few years.


Australian uranium in demand as China goes full steam for nuclear

Despite reactor closures in Europe and the US, the global outlook for uranium looks bright, with Asia's burgeoning nuclear energy industry fuelling demand for the radioactive metal.

Australia's uranium market is also set for a bright future, with a strong possibility of new mines opening in Western Australia provided global demand strengthens as forecast.

And, as with so many of the world's minerals, Chinese demand is a key driver.

A recent commodities research note from Macquarie Bank called uranium the "best mined commodity of 2015".

After a collapse in generation following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, "nuclear power has been making a quiet comeback," said Macquarie. "We have now seen more than two years of consistent year-on-year growth. Total output this year is set to be the strongest since 2011."

China, India, Korea and Russia were the engines of growth in the industry, said Macquarie, expected to contribute 70 per cent of new reactors by 2030. Furthermore, Japanese reactors were returning to the fleet, with 20 Japanese reactors back online by 2020.

However, cheap gas and coal, the rise of politically-friendly renewable energy and the costly need to extend the life of reactors had hit the industry in the West, the paper said.

In the US five reactors had closed since 2012, "with potentially as many to follow"; Germany will phase out all reactors by the early 2020s; while Sweden will cut back its reactor fleet by 40 per cent.

New capacity in Asia

However, said Macquarie, "the combined size of these reductions is less than half of the scheduled new capacity additions" in Asia. Widespread closures in the US, despite record-low energy prices, were "unlikely": US nuclear energy use was its highest since 2009, nuclear power was still cheaper than fossil fuel, and the focus on reducing coal usage meant uranium had become a relatively more popular source of baseload power generation.

"We still see nuclear power as a growth industry," said Macquarie. "We still expect solid demand growth on a five-year view."

The paper singled out China's "staggering" stockpiling. In 2016, the Chinese will have the equivalent of nine years of projected 2020 consumption in inventory. "China's annual uranium requirement is likely to grow by more than the rest of the world's combined requirement over the next five years." 

China has 26 nuclear reactors in operation and 25 under construction. But long-term plans call for 92 reactors operating by 2025 and 129 by 2020.

In 2015, China approved new reactors for the first time since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2009, with the China General Nuclear Power Corporation receiving the go-ahead for two gigawatt reactors.

China was "the only part of the world that's really increasing reactor capacity by any large margin", said ?Mining and Metals Senior Associate at Citi, Matthew Schembri.

But Chinese demand for the radioactive metal far outstripped supply. China only produced 1450 tonnes of uranium in 2015, far less than its 8160-tonne consumption rate.

Consequently, the Chinese were trying to create "uranium independence," said Mr Schembri, not only by producing more but also by stockpiling and buying equity shares in foreign projects.

"They're aiming for one-third to be domestically produced, one-third from foreign equity ownership in foreign mines, and one-third to be imports," said Mr Schembri.

But the world was not likely to face a shortage of uranium despite the uptick in demand, he said.

"It is going to be an important power source in the future and the most recent Chinese five-year plan has said that, but even so, the world has enough uranium that's it's not going to create a particularly tight market."

Uranium has fallen from around $US152 per pound in 2007 to well under $US60 since the global financial crisis, with a low just above $US28 in May 2014. This year, it peaked around $US40 in March. It is currently trading at $US35.35, which is just off the year's lows.

Mr Schembri said that the price would return to $US40, rising to $US50 in the longer term. At these price levels, existing mines would remain viable and new ones would open, he said.

Macquarie agreed, stating that "almost all mine output is cash-positive at current price levels".

Mr Schembri added that the recent Paris Climate Summit – which pledged to restrict global warming to "well below 2? above pre-industrial levels", a goal that is expected to increase demand for nuclear power as countries shift away from carbon-dioxide-producing coal power – had had no effect on the uranium market or prices.

Australia, which produces 11 per cent of the world's uranium and is the world's third-largest producer after Canada and Kazakhstan, currently has three operating uranium mines: Ranger in the Northern Territory, Olympic Dam (the world's largest uranium deposit) in South Australia and Four Mile in South Australia. Australian-listed uranium miners and explorers include Energy Resources of Australia, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Paladin Energy, and Mintails.

There are a numerous proposals for new Australian mines, including four well-advanced proposals in Western Australia alone: Lake Way (Wiluna), which Toro Energy hopes to mine; Yeelirrie and Kintyre, which Canadian uranium miner Cameco wishes to develop; and Mulga Rock, which Vimy Resources has an interest in.

However, the new mines – which could create up to 1300 long-term jobs and be worth $1 billion a year to Western Australia by 2020 – have still not been formally approved and are dependent on the uranium price improving as forecast.

They are also the subject of fierce opposition from environmental groups such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, while the Western Australia's ALP opposition opposes uranium mining and export. The next Western Australian election is in March 2017.


Leftist academics think the Jihadis are good guys

Bloodshed has never bothered Leftists

ASIO head Duncan Lewis ‘merely reflected a widespread view that criticism of Islam by a non-Muslim will only provoke Muslim rage and provide more recruits to Islamic State’.

Academic theoreticians are to blame for Australia being in a position where ASIO head Duncan Lewis, “an unelected securocrat”, tells democratically elected MPs that “silence is the price they have to pay for an uneasy civil peace”.

David Martin Jones, a former associate professor at Queensland University who is visiting professor at the War Studies department at London University’s King’s College, told The Australian that, from a widespread academic perspective, “the market and the West perpetuate the real global ­violence, not terrorists, who merely resist the capitalist behemoth”.

He said that “in asking MPs and, by extension, the wider political community to refrain from commenting on the connection between Islam and political violence, Duncan Lewis merely reflected a widespread view that criticism of Islam by a non-Muslim will only provoke Muslim rage and provide more recruits to Islamic State”.

Since the terror attacks on the US in 2001, “liberal political elites, academe and state broadcasters have consistently denied any connection between religion, in its Islamist form, and religiously inspired violence”.

He said that after the London bombings on July 7, 2005, and the more recent Paris attacks, “a predictable chorus of academic ­experts have appeared in the media to claim the latest outrage has nothing to do with religion”.

“Well might they,” he said. “For the past decade, grants and chairs in terror or peace and conflict studies have been dedicated to showing modern terrorism has no Islamic association.” Even if some Islamic connection was conceded, he said, this was viewed as part of a wider, anti-capitalist “resistance” by the rest to the West.

The past decade, said Professor Jones, had witnessed a ­proliferation of peer-reviewed academic journals that reinforced this “resistance” message. These included, he said, Critical Studies on Terrorism and Critical Security Studies. “Tracing this critical posture reveals how deeply imbued contemporary academe has become with anti-western self loathing”. Such journals explained, for example, that “the rhetoric of freedom and the democratic way of life it upholds inflames the Muslim community”.

Professor Jones said that “the antidote they suggest is not to condemn, but to enter into ‘force-free dialogue’ with the forces of resistance”. Thus, he said, this academically fashionable critical theory shared an elective affinity with “the resistance”.

Reading Islamism as a form of revolutionary Marxism with a relig­ious facade, he said, “enables the Western theorist to present the Islamist in more attractive academic garb as a fellow critic ‘representing a distinctive combination of Islamic and enlightenment thought’ ”.

Not surprisingly, he said, Islam­ism’s most effective online journals embraced this unmasking of the “true” sources of terrorism. “They also consider the war on terror ‘a narrative’ and a distorted Western ‘construct’ that Islamism ‘deconstructs’, and accept that orientalism and colonialism are the real causes of their ‘radical’ reaction,” he said.

Professor Jones said that “ultimately, to empathise with Islamism and provide it with a justification for its hyper-megalomaniacal violence was delusional”.

“Such a delusion, ironically, depends on the liberal pluralist tolerance that both Islamic State and critical theory otherwise abhor,” he said. The result was “a curious disjuncture between what Islamists say and have said for a while, and what the critical theorist and now ASIO say they mean — and what Islamists actually do.”


Malcolm Turnbull fixes Liberals' `women problem': Newspoll

Female voters have returned to the Coalition since the rise of Malcolm Turnbull, erasing Tony Abbott's so-called women problem in the polls.

Support for the government among women has jumped seven points to 44 per cent since the change of Prime Minister, according to an analysis of Newspoll surveys conducted exclusively for The Australian between October and December.

It is the first time in two years that more than 40 per cent of female voters have supported the Coalition and comes as Labor's standing with women fell four points to 34 per cent, to be at the lowest level since Bill Shorten became Opposition Leader.

While women had ranked Mr Shorten as the better prime minister over Mr Abbott by 39 per cent to 34 per cent, that support has been wiped out, with female voters in the December quarter preferring Mr Turnbull over Mr Shorten by 58 per cent to 16 per cent.

The analysis, based on Newspoll surveys of 8013 people, also reveals that Mr Turnbull leads Mr Shorten as voters' preferred prime minister in every age demographic, with his support the strongest in those aged over 50.

It also shows that the Coalition leads Labor in the age demographics with the exception of voters aged 18-34, where the two major parties are tied at 38 per cent support. Among voters aged over 50, more than one in two now back the Coalition.

The Newspoll analysis reveals satisfaction with Mr -Shorten's performance among women has hit the lowest level for an opposition leader in the 20-year history of Newspoll and is at a 12-year low among men.

Male voters overwhelmingly prefer Mr Turnbull as prime minister over Mr Shorten by 64 per cent to 17 per cent and are the most satisfied with his performance during his first 100 days.

Among men, support for the Coalition hit 46 per cent in the December quarter, up five points to be at the highest level since the 2013 election. Labor's standing with men dropped five points to a two-year low of 33 per cent.

Mr Shorten's support as -preferred prime minister among both men and women has more than halved and is at the lowest level since former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson fell to 14 per cent as preferred prime minister among both sexes in September 2008. It is the equal worst result for a Labor leader with Simon Crean's low in 2003.

Mr Turnbull's satisfaction rating among men and women is at a six-year high for any prime minister, giving him the highest ratings since Kevin Rudd in late 2009.

The analysis shows 58 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women were satisfied with Mr Turnbull's performance while 25 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women were dissatisfied.

Mr Turnbull's net satisfaction rating - the difference between those who were satisfied and those who were dissatisfied - is 33 points among men and 29 points among women.

Satisfaction with Mr Shorten's performance among men was at a 12-year low of 27 per cent while among women it was the lowest level in the 20-year -Newspoll time series of 25 per cent.

Sixty-one per cent of men and 54 per cent of women were dissatisfied with Mr Shorten's performance. The Labor leader's net satisfaction was minus 34 points among men and minus 29 points among women.

The analysis shows more than half of voters aged over 50 support the Coalition - the strongest level of support for the government across any demographic. The government's primary vote in this group is 52 per cent, up seven points, compared with Labor's 31 per cent, down six points. Voters aged 35 to 49 back the Coalition by 42 per cent to Labor's 35 per cent while among voters aged under 34 support for the major parties was tied at 38 per cent.

Older voters were the biggest direct supporters of Mr Turnbull ranking him ahead of Mr Shorten as the preferred prime minister by 65 per cent to 15 per cent - a 50-point lead.

Voters aged 35-49 favoured Mr Turnbull by 58 to 18 per cent while among those aged 18-34 his lead was 57 to 19 per cent.

Across all age groups more than half were satisfied with Mr Turnbull's performance.

Voters aged over 50 were the least satisfied with Mr Shorten and the 23 per cent rating was his lowest across all -demographics in the December quarter.


30 December, 2015

Union `corruption and thuggery' to be laid bare in controversial commissioner Dyson Heydon's report

THUGGERY and corruption within elements of the CFMEU is expected to be laid bare tomorrow by a royal commission that looks set to recommend laws be strengthened and key officials slapped with criminal charges.

Commissioner Dyson Heydon's, lengthy, final report into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was obtained by the Turnbull Government yesterday, and was expected to reveal serious failings, criminal activity and intimidation.

The report, which will be given to the states today and released by the Government on Wednesday, could include recommendations on union donation and governance reforms, forcing new levels of transparency for the first time.

It is anticipated Commissioner Heydon will also recommend stronger penalties or strengthened laws for unions that engage in secondary boycotts, whereby some unions refuse to do business or perform services for a firm that is engaging with a company with which it is in dispute.

Senior Government ministers have told The Courier-Mail that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten would be unwise to describe the royal commission as a witch hunt because of separate judgment by Justice Chris Jessup this month.

On December 2, the CFMEU and its Victorian/Tasmanian branch president were penalised $245,000 in the Federal Court for trying to coerce a Melbourne-based scaffolding company to hire a CFMEU shop steward.

During the penalty hearing, Justice Jessup questioned, "Has there ever been a worse recidivist (CFMEU) in the history of the common law?''


A government hospital system with three times more bureaucrats than doctors

A review of South Australia's hospital system needs to examine the number of bureaucrats after documents show administrators outnumber doctors, Family First MP Robert Brokenshire has said.

Mr Brokenshire called for an independent review after obtaining the data under Freedom of Information which showed administrators now outnumbered doctors by three to one.

The number of administrators has jumped by more than 1,600 to 13,477 in the past 10 years compared to the number of salaried doctors which rose to 3,897.

The documents also showed the number of executives increased to 113 from 84 - 10 years ago.

Mr Brokenshire said the disparity needed to be examined. "So I'm calling for an independent audit to actually have a look at and put a public report out to say whether or not, all these bureaucratic positions are required at a time when we have unprecedented pressures in our hospitals that our doctors and nurses are trying to cope with," he said.

SA Health said since 2010 there had been a more than 10 per cent reduction in executives working in SA Health and that in May it announced cuts to 25 executive roles and 425 staff from head office.

"South Australia has more doctors and nurses per capita than the national Australian average and there are only two other states that have a lower ratio of administrative and clerical staff per capita than South Australia," the statement read.

"The vast majority of SA Health staff are based on the frontline in local health networks or in roles directly supporting frontline staff."


Pharmaceutical shenanigans

Chemists squealing at a threat to their profits

HUNDREDS of thousands of consumers could miss out on a $1 per script medicine discount from New Year's Day as a war erupts in the pharmacy profession.

From January 1, chemists will be allowed for the first time to discount the price the patient pays for prescription medicines subsidised by the government.

The price a pensioner pays for prescriptions will rise to $6.20 in line with inflation in January 1 but chemists will be able to sell the medicine for just $5.20 per script.

The price of a subsidised script will rise to $38.30 for general consumers but chemists will be able to sell them the medicine for just $37.30.

In the past government rules have prevented pharmacists discounting the patient copayment that applied to subsidised prescription medicine. But that changed under a new five year pharmacy agreement signed earlier this year, aimed at increasing competition in the industry.

Mega discount chain Chemist Warehouse has already pledged to pass on the discount to all its customers from January 1.

But the Pharmacy Guild of Australia which represents 3,000 of the nation's pharmacy owners is opposed to the discount.

This is because chemists who pass on the discount will lose the money.  "We have a clear position: we oppose it." Pharmacy Guild President George Tambassis told a conference in September.

He said pharmacies that were advertising they would pass on cheaper scripts were doing "the wrong thing".  "That's the trouble with this profession, there is always one or two who will do the wrong thing," Mr Tambassis said.

The measure will save the government $373 million over four years because when patients spend less on their medicines it takes them longer to reach the PBS safety net.

When they reach the safety net medicines become free for pensioners and the price drops to $6.10 for general patients.

The Pharmacy Guild says concessional patients who choose to receive a full $1 discount will need to fill an additional 11 prescriptions during the year to reach their Safety Net and access free medicines.

They will reach their Safety Net later in the year and be on the Safety Net for a shorter length of time the Guild says in a newsletter on its website.

However, even though patients will take longer to reach the safety net they won't be worse off because their medicines will be cheaper all year round if they use a chemist that passes on the discount.

"Already, we have seen one large pharmacy discounter spruiking the $1 discount in the public arena without mentioning its Safety Net impact on concessional patients," a spokesman for the Guild Greg Turnbull says in the Guild's Forefront newsletter.

"This has the potential for patients to think they are benefiting when they are actually no better off over a 12 month period," he says.

Consumers who want the discount should shop around to find a chemist who is passing it on.


Indonesia vows new age with better ties with Australia

Australia and Indonesia are poised for significantly closer military, security and economic ties as Jakarta's ambassador to Canberra drew a line under two years of tension by declaring the critical relationship to be back on track.

Nadjib Riphat Kesoema told The Australian that Malcolm Turnbull's visit to Jakarta last month for talks with President Joko Widodo created an atmosphere of hope and optimism in the relationship between the two nations. "In just a few hours the two leaders built a very good relationship," Mr Nadjib said.  "It is full of expectations for the future."

The leaders' meeting was a landmark in the relationship -between the nations, he said.

Mr Nadjib was recalled from Canberra in late 2013 for several months after it was revealed an Australian agency had in the past spied on then president -Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his family. Tony Abbott, who was prime minister at the time of the revelations, did not explain nor apologise.

In August, the ambassador used an essay published in The Australian to call for an intensification of relationship-building and for both sides to put aside "megaphone diplomacy". Mr Nadjib's essay came as Jakarta and Canberra tried to reset the relationship after the tensions over the spying allegations, people smuggling, policies to stop asylum-seekers boats and then the execution of drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

In September, Mr Turnbull replaced Mr Abbott as prime minister.

The Turnbull-Joko meeting that followed in Jakarta was "a special juncture" that set that course to a future together, Mr Nadjib said. "It was not just dry policy," he added.

Leaders could impose their personalities on international -relationships and Mr Turnbull's individual style gave special -colour and atmosphere to that linking Australia and Indonesia, Mr Nadjib said. "With the style of the Prime Minister and his relationship with my President, it's No 1 - it's very important for us," he said.

Mr Nadjib said the two leaders set the scene for a much closer -relationship at all levels, "economy to economy, people to -people, security to security and military to military".

Subsequent meetings of ministers responsible for foreign -affairs, defence and national -security in Sydney and Jakarta had built on that relationship, bringing the broad strategic agreements into practical action.

People smuggling was still an issue for both countries with about 13,000 asylum-seekers in Indonesia who did not want to stay there. "They want to go maybe to Australia or to somewhere else," Mr Nadjib said.   There would be more talks under the Bali process next year, he said, and they would be -co-hosted by Australia.

Mr Nadjib said Mr Joko had stressed to Mr Turnbull that -Indonesia practised Islam in a very moderate and tolerant way. "Tolerant Islam is very compatible with democracy," Mr Nadjib said.  "That's why we have developed an atmosphere of tolerance in Indonesia and we try to bring all people, whatever religion they have, together in a dialogue."

Both nations were victims of radicalisation and extremism and the exchange of intelligence to deal with terrorism was very -important, he said.

Mr Nadjib said Indonesia had a very strong relationship with China, especially through economic links, but it shared with -Australia concerns about developments in the South China Sea.

Indonesia's foreign policy was "free and active", and did not stop Jakarta having a close relationship with Beijing and Canberra.

"These are international sea lanes," he said. "We hope that everybody is restrained in their actions. Like Australia, we are not claimants but we want a peaceful South China Sea. We are friends with everybody."

Mr Nadjib said Australia and Indonesia already had very good economic relations and he would like to see that develop to benefit the people of both countries. Indonesia wanted to increase its exports to Australia, especially manufactured goods, agricultural produce and tropical fruit and palm oil.  "We would like to export more machinery to Australia," he said.

Indonesia could also benefit from Australia's advanced defence industry. "We can learn a lot from you," he said. "And you have modern defence equipment. We would like very much to have the opportunity to exchange experience and we send our officers to your military training schools here."

Australian officers could learn, too, from the grassroots style of the Indonesian military, Mr -Nadjib said. "They are born from the people itself to defend the freedom of the country," he said.

Despite being very close geographically, there were major cultural and other differences between Indonesia and Australia and misunderstandings could arise if there were not sufficient dialogue.  "We have to have good interaction, to put aside all the misunderstandings that we have," Mr Nadjib said.


29 December, 2015

Australia backs multiculturalism despite extremist threats

The article below relies a lot on a report from the Scanlon Foundation, a do-gooder outfit, so may not be entirely trustworthy.  In particular, the question asked to assess attitude to immigrants was pretty dumb:  "Accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger".  The obvious response is "Which countries?".  Syria, Iran, Iraq? I personally would agree that immigration from East Asia and the various countries of Europe has been beneficial but I can see no similar benefit of immigration from fanatically Muslim lands or from crime-riddled African lands.  I very much doubt that I am alone in that.  All immigrants are not the same, hard to acknowledge though that may be to the Left

I also note that the survey was done the lazy way -- over the telephone.  Such surveys are widely used but can be wildly inaccurate.  In my own survey research I usually trudged from door to door to ask my questions. I believe I may be the only academic who has ever done so. Academics much prefer armchairs to dusty shoes. So again, I rather doubt the results.  They could well be much too high

It is however true that Australians tend to be a relaxed and easy-going people so they may well be more accepting of immigrants than some others

Australia has had three terrorist attacks over the past year and this month former prime minister Tony Abbott preached to the Muslim world that it must become “enlightened”. Yet the country sticks out from others fighting Islamist extremism as most of its population strongly support multiculturalism and legal immigration.

Neil El-Kadomi, Parramatta Mosque chairman, says the local non-Muslim community have largely remained supportive. A recent protest by far-right group Reclaim Australia outside the mosque drew just a handful of protesters. “It shows just what a small minority this is,” he says. “We have integrated well into the community.”

A recent survey by the Scanlon Foundation shows 86 per cent of people say multiculturalism has been “good for Australia”, while 67 per cent say immigration has “made the country stronger” — the highest level recorded since the survey was introduced in 2007.

[That's a barefaced lie.  According to Table 9 in the Scanlon report, it was higher in 2009 and 2014.  Pesky of me to look up the original figures, isn't it?  I have always found that fun]

“This is the reverse of the trend you see in Europe now, where the National Front and Ukip are gaining sizeable support,” says Andrew Markus, a professor at Monash University in Victoria.

It is not hard to see why Australia is more accepting of different cultures. A quarter of the country’s 23m population were born overseas, which makes it one of the world’s most multicultural nations, with more than double the proportion of immigrants than either the UK or Germany.

“Australians accept they are a new country made up of immigrants, whereas Europe with its older cultures does not,” says Prof Markus.

He says in Europe multiculturalism has been interpreted by political leaders as immigrant groups retaining their own cultures and rejecting integration. In Australia it is now understood to mean respect for different cultures while integrating into mainstream society, says Prof Markus.

It was not always this way. Australia introduced its “White Australia” policy at the turn of the 20th century to deter an increasing flow of migrants from Asia. This policy was gradually dismantled following the second world war, and in 1975 the government under Gough Whitlam passed the race discrimination act, which outlawed racially based selection for migrants.
chart: foreign-born population

Since then there has been sporadic racial unrest such as the 2005 Cronulla riots, when clashes broke out between members of the Middle Eastern community and white Australians. More recently, the far-right group Reclaim Australia has held demonstrations to campaign against what it dubs “Islam’s radicals”. But there is little sign of any far-right political party gaining the type of electoral support that would give it real influence.

Australia’s tight control of its borders and its role as colony rather than a colonial power are two underlying reasons why support for immigration remains high, according to some experts.

Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s racial discrimination commissioner, says the country benefits from being an island continent that has a planned intake of migrants, most of whom are skilled.

“You don’t have the problem here of migrants and their descendants feeling estranged from the country,” he says.

Australia’s strong economy, which has grown for 24 consecutive years, is another positive factor. Unemployment remains low at less than 6 per cent and there are fewer of the immigrant ghettos that blight parts of France and the UK.

“We don’t have the level of structural disadvantage attached to ethnicity that you see in some other countries,” says Kevin Dunn, professor of human geography and urban studies at Western Sydney University .

But he warns this positive picture of a multicultural life in Australia cannot be taken for granted. Muslims experience discrimination at about three times the rate of other Australians, according to a recent study Prof Dunn oversaw, and people are emboldened to perform racist actions due to terrorist events and divisive media and political commentary.

“It is the political environment that determines whether racism flourishes,” says Prof Dunn. “This is the biggest risk to multiculturalism.”


Shorten in a parlous state as Turnbull turns Victoria against Labor

Bill Shorten enters an election year with Labor’s standing in his home state of Victoria at a four-year low after the biggest collapse of support in any state for the ALP since the rise of Malcolm Turnbull to the prime ministership.

Mr Turnbull has lifted the ­Coalition’s primary vote across all states, with his strongest gains in Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland, according to an analysis of Newspoll surveys conducted exclusively for The Aus­tralian between October and this month.

Victoria had been Labor’s strongest state when Tony Abbott was in power, but since the change to Mr Turnbull in September it has become the opposition’s weakest.

The plunge suggests Labor-held marginal seats of McEwen and Bendigo, as well as Chisholm and Bruce where long-time MPs are retiring, are at risk.

The analysis, based on Newspoll surveys of 8013 people across the nation, also reveals Mr Shorten’s satisfaction rating in his home state has crashed 14 points since this time last year to 25 per cent, the lowest for any federal ­opposition leader in Victoria in 12 years. In South Australia, Mr Shorten’s satisfaction has slumped to a record low of 24 per cent.

Mr Turnbull, who ousted Mr Abbott in a partyroom challenge just over 100 days ago, has in some cases doubled the voter satisfaction levels for his predecessor and reversed the government’s fortunes to give it a two-party-­preferred lead in every state, except South Australia. The change has been most dramatic in Victoria, where Labor’s primary vote has dived eight points to a four-year low of 33 per cent. It is the second worst result for the ALP in Victoria since the Newspoll time series began in 1996.

Labor’s primary vote has fallen below 40 per cent in every state.

In Queensland it fell five points to 35 per cent, in WA it dropped four points to 35 per cent, in SA it eased three points to 36 per cent and in NSW it lost two points to 34 per cent.

In contrast, the Coalition’s core support surged nine points to 48 per cent in WA, its strongest state. It jumped eight points to 44 per cent in Victoria, gained six points to 45 per cent in Queensland, lifted four points to 46 per cent in NSW and rose two points to 38 per cent in SA, the only state where it was not above 40 per cent.

In capital cities, the Coalition’s vote has jumped seven points to reach 45 per cent for the first time since before the last election while its primary vote in rural and ­regional areas was up four points to also be at 45 per cent.

The Greens’ strongest state is leader Richard Di Natale’s home of Victoria, where it has 15 per cent of the vote, but there was a surprise four-point tumble to 9 per cent in WA where the Greens had been polling well in previous quarters.

Based on preference flows from the 2013 election, the 57 per cent-43 per cent two-party-­preferred lead enjoyed by Labor in Victoria in the September quarter has vanished in a 16-point turnaround, and the Coalition is now ahead by 51 per cent to 49 per cent, the first time it has been in front in Victoria since September 2011.

Western Australia is once again the Coalition’s strongest state, recovering from 14-year lows in the March quarter, with a 16-point turnaround in the ­December quarter to lead Labor by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

In NSW, which has the most seats and had been the Coalition’s strongest state under Mr Abbott, the switch delivered an eight-point change to give the government a 53 per cent-47 per cent lead. A 10-point turnaround in Queensland sees the Coalition in front by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

In SA, the turnaround was four points but Labor still holds a 52 per cent to 48 per cent lead, based on weak support for the Coalition and more than one-quarter of primary votes going to the Greens or ­others, which reflects high support for independent senator Nick Xenophon.

In all states, Mr Turnbull is ranked as the preferred prime minister by a margin of at least 43 points, and in Queensland he is 47 points in front of Mr Shorten.

Again, the most dramatic change occurred in Victoria. Mr Shorten had been ahead of Mr ­Abbott by nine points in the September quarter, but Mr Turnbull now leads him by 43 points — a 52-point turnaround.

Mr Turnbull was ranked voters’ preferred prime minister by at least 60 per cent of voters in every state, with Queensland the highest at 63 per cent.

Mr Shorten, who fell to a nat­ional low of 14 per cent in the final Newspoll early this month, averaged 16 per cent or 17 per cent in every state over the December quarter, including a drop from 43 per cent to 17 per cent in his home state.

It is the worst rating in the 20-year Newspoll history for a Labor leader on the preferred prime minister measure in Victoria, lower than the 18 per cent for Simon Crean in 2003, but it is still higher than Liberal opposition leaders Brendan Nelson, who fell to 9 per cent in Victoria in March 2008, and Mr Turnbull, who hit a low of 15 per cent in Victoria in November 2009 in the month he was replaced as opposition leader.

Despite being from NSW and not seen as popular in Victoria, which became his worst state, Mr Abbott’s lowest rating as preferred prime minister in Victoria was 26 per cent as opposition leader and it never fell below 30 per cent when he was prime minister.

The December quarter Newspoll figures show satisfaction with Mr Turnbull’s performance in his first 100 days as Prime Minister was above 50 per cent in every state and hit 60 per cent in WA.

Dissatisfaction ranged between 21 per cent in WA and 26 per cent in NSW. His net satisfaction rating — the difference between those who are satisfied and those who are dissatisfied — ranged from 28 points in NSW to 39 per cent in WA.

Mr Shorten’s net satisfaction rating was almost the reverse, ranging from minus 26 points in WA and minus 35 points in Queensland. The Opposition Leader’s satisfaction rating was below 30 per cent in every state.


ALP’s 11th-hour union bid over royal commission report

Bill Shorten has tried to pre-empt the findings of a damning report into trade union corruption by appealin­g directly to Malcolm Turnbull to accept a series of Labor measures, including an overhaul of political donations rules.

The Opposition Leader has used a letter, sent to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, to try to ensure Labor is not trapped in a crucial election year by the findings of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, which will hand the government more ammunition to push for union reform after a series­ of scandals.

The royal commission is due to hand its final report to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove today and the government is expected to release the document as early as tomorrow, with Employment Minister Michael­ia Cash canvassing toughening-up the Coalition’s proposed union governance laws as a potential response.

Senator Cash also identified the militant Construction Forest­ry Mining and Energy Union as one of the targets of any government response.  “I believe that all Australians would want to see in place laws that ensure greater transparency and accountability for registered organisations — whether they be employer or employee representative bodies,” the minister told The Australian.

“The construction industry has been repeatedly identified as one with endemic problems of lawlessness.

“When repeat offending by the construction division of the CFMEU gets so bad that the Federal Court has to ask whether there has ‘ever been a worse recid­ivist in the history of the common law’, there is clearly a problem in the industry and this division of the CFMEU.”

The royal commission’s findings were to be a central plank in the re-election strategy of Tony Abbott and his successor, Mr Turnbull, is standing by royal commissioner Dyson Heydon amid an attack on Mr Heydon’s integrity led by Labor and the union movement.

Mr Shorten’s letter urges Mr Turnbull to consider a series of Labor measures to improve union governance, as well as linking the issue to a reduction in the political donation disclosure threshold from $13,000 to $1000 for individuals, companies and unions.

The opposition has attacked the government’s legislation to clean up the union movement as too onerous, saying it was unfair to bring penalties for union volunteers into line with those applying to highly paid company directors.

Mr Shorten has urged Mr Turnbull to engage with Labor on the issue in an attempt to negotiate a breakthrough to the polit­ical impasse, saying the “flagrant misuse of union members’ money by a small number of union offic­ials” was unacceptable.

“Unlike the government’s Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Bill, Labor’s new proposals do not place more onerous obligations on volunteers involved in unions and employer organisations,” he said.

After taking over the top job in September, Mr Turnbull engin­eered a breakthrough to the polit­ical impasse over the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in response to Labor calls for more serious engagement with its concerns.

Correspondence with the Shorten letter also shows oppos­ition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor opening the door to talks with Senator Cash about a possible way forward before the resumption of parliament next year.

“Labor’s proposal strips the politics from the problem, and is a genuine attempt to strengthen unions through better union governance,” Mr O’Connor said.

However, the appeal was quickly dismissed by Senator Cash as an “11th-hour attempt to try and hoodwink the Australian public”, after Labor voted three times against legislation to improve union transparency. “Mr Shorten has been the ALP leader for two years and during that time, despite overwhelming evidence of systemic corruption in certain unions, he has pretended there was not a problem,” Senator Cash said.

“The ALP under his leadership has voted against the Government’s Registered Organisations Bill to clean up union governance on three separate occasions.”


UK schools snapping up NSW teaching graduates

Few Brits want to teach in British "Comprehensives" because they know how bad they are.  Student indiscipline and lots of red tape are not attractive to anybody who actually wants to teach

Shahrzad Amjadi only had to wait a matter of days between finishing her final teaching placement and being offered a full-time job in a school.

But her success is virtually unheard of and the University of Notre Dame teaching graduate has had to move 17,000 kilometres for the position or face competing with 44,000 others who are waiting for a permanent teaching position with the NSW Department of Education.

The newly trained primary school teacher will start next month at Heathrow Primary School, a government school west of London.

Unlike Australia, which has a worsening oversupply of teachers, Britain is struggling to meet demand and figures suggest that a fall in the birth rate in the late 1990s will mean a "steady decline" in the population of 21-year-olds until 2022.

This means the overall pool of graduates is likely to fall and result in fewer trainee teachers, according to the UK's Association of School and College Leaders. Schools have also been forced to spend £1.3b on temporary staff as a result of the chronic shortage of teachers.

But in NSW, the education department's latest figures reveal that only 1.6 per cent of all teachers are aged 20-25 and it warns that by 2021 there will be a "more than adequate supply of primary teachers in all geographical locations" and an "adequate supply of secondary teachers".

Ms Amjadi, 23, who has been working in early childhood and nannying while completing her degree, said she was attracted to working overseas because it would provide her invaluable experience when she returned to Australia.

"I might have been able to get some casual work in Sydney, but I would have had to put in 110 per cent just maybe to get a couple of days," she said.

"I am really excited because I love the sound of the school [in the UK] and I got along really well with the principal in the interview and he really seemed to have a vision for the school so I think it is going to be a great experience for me."

An international education recruitment consultant, Mitch Jones, said young teachers had been travelling to Britain on working holiday visas for many years but the demand for Australians was now much higher as Britain battles with its shortage of teachers.

"In the UK, there are not the same amount of people going into teacher training and that means we can't keep up with demand for Aussie teachers over there," Mr Jones, from Protocol Education Australia, said.

"There is also the professional development side of things because if you are applying for a job, 250 CVs can look quite homogenous but if you have something different, like experience overseas, that can really help in a teacher-saturated market."


28 December, 2015

Another black riot in Melbourne

EIGHT men suspected of involvement in a weekend brawl at Seaford, which left a man with stab wounds, squared up for round two at Frankston police station last night.

Just hours earlier, three men had been arrested over the weekend melee, which involved up to 80 people.

One of the trio, a 27-year-old Frankston man, was charged last night with intentionally causing serious injury, recklessly causing injury, and affray. The other two men remained in custody.

Relatives of the men were waiting at the station about 7pm when eight other men entered, asking for the return of mobile phones seized by police.

Denied, the men briefly left, but two returned and tried to attack three women and a male. Four police officers tackled one man to the ground outside the station.

The 25-year-old Seaford man was charged with assault on an emergency worker, summary assault and threatening behaviour.

The violence follows the weekend incident, with crowds gathered for a tournament for the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association.

Crowds started hanging around the stadium carpark before starting to fight and running to Kananook Railway Station where the fighting continued

The victim, a 23-year-old man from Seaford, is still recovering from the multiple stab wounds he received in the fight on Wells St, Seaford on Sunday afternoon at about 5:35pm.

He was dropped off at Frankston Hospital on Sunday after the fight by a group of unknown men. He is listed as being in a stable condition and was expected to remain in hospital until Wednesday at least.

It was earlier revealed members of a western suburbs gang were seen wielding a samurai sword, baseball bats and a machete during the mallee. Dramatic CCTV vision shows one man carrying what appears to be a large knife, while near him another carries what looks like a wooden baton.

Stills from CCTV footage showing men running after a brawl outside Kananook Railway Station. Young men and women, including some dressed in basketball uniforms, were seen running down Wells Rd as police swooped.

The violence had spilled over from the stadium carpark, about 200m to the Kananook train station.

About 30 minutes later, witnesses reported seeing two carloads of armed men smashing the windows of a car at the nearby Bayside Shopping Centre.

Youth worker Les Twentyman warned that groups were travelling to sporting events and schools to attack individuals and "stamp their mark" on their rivals. "It's tit for tat," Mr Twentyman said.


Did chicken pox kill off most Aborigines in the early days?

Estimating the size of the Aboriginal population before 1788, the anthropologist Alfred Radcliffe-Brown wrote in the Commonwealth Yearbook of 1930 that it would have been more than 250,000, maybe even more than 300,000.

But Butlin's piecing together of the evidence told him this was way too low. He wrote in 1983 that it would have been 1 million or 1.5 million.

Then in 1988 some of Australia's leading archaeologists, led by John Mulvaney, argued that a more accurate estimate would be between 750,000 and 800,000. This has become accepted as "the Mulvaney consensus".

The Aboriginal population declined dramatically in the early days of white settlement. We can be reasonably confident that, by 1850, the Indigenous population was only about 200,000.

Thus backcasting the figures to 1788 involves determining the main factors that led to the loss of Aboriginal lives and estimating how many lives they took, then adding them back. So the paper is a kind of whodunit.

One factor springing to the modern mind is that the unilateral appropriation of Aboriginal land led to much frontier violence, which started shortly after the arrival of the First Fleet and persisted well into the 20th century.

"Like any war, declared or otherwise, the conflict led to many deaths on both sides," the authors say. But even the controversial historian, Henry Reynolds, estimated the number of violent Aboriginal deaths at as many as 20,000, making this only a small part of the explanation.

Butlin allows for Aboriginal "resource loss", where tribes' loss of productive members and land used for sustenance led to people dying of "starvation or dietary-related diseases". Butlin's calculation implies this factor would have involved as many as 120,000 people.

That's still not the biggest part of the story. No, the big factor is the spread of introduced diseases. Such as: Tuberculosis, bronchitis and pneumonia, not to mention venereal disease. But the big one is smallpox. Butlin and others have assumed that it spread rapidly around Australia along the extensive pre-existing Aboriginal trading routes after its first recorded outbreak in Port Jackson in April 1789.

In 2002, however, the former ANU historian Judy Campbell argued in her book, Invisible Invaders, that it was brought to Northern Australia by the Macassan coastal traders following its outbreak in Sumatra in 1780, then spread across the continent, reaching Port Jackson by early 1789.

This is where Hunter – no doubt relying heavily on the expertise of Carmody – brings to bear modern medical understanding of the infectiousness and mortality rates of various diseases. Although smallpox has a high rate of mortality – between 30 and 60 per cent of those who contract it – it's not highly infectious.

This means it happens most in densely populated areas and doesn't spread rapidly to distant areas. This casts doubt on Campbell's theory that smallpox spread rapidly from lightly populated Northern Australia to densely populated NSW. But it also casts doubt on Butlin's theory that smallpox spread rapidly from Sydney to the rest of Australia via Aboriginal trading routes.

So what's Hunter and Carmody's theory? Are you sitting down?

Gathering all the suspects in a room, detective Hunter deftly turns the finger of guilt from smallpox to the so-far unsuspected chickenpox. The two are quite separate diseases, but this wasn't well-known in the 1780s. And since they both give rise to rashes or spots around parts of the body, many people may not have been able to tell the difference.

The point, however, is that chickenpox is about five times more infectious than smallpox, meaning it could spread a lot faster. It can recur in adults as shingles, which is also highly infectious. When adults contract chickenpox it can be fatal.

When the authors use chickenpox to do their backcast, assuming a low mortality rate of 30 per cent and also taking account of resource loss, they get a pre-contact Indigenous population (including up to 10,000 Torres Strait Islanders and up to 10,000 original Tasmanians) of about 800,000 – which by chance fits with the Mulvaney consensus.


NAB anxiety index: jobs secure but cost of living makes us anxious

Australians are more secure about their jobs than a year ago but cost of living pressures remain a headache, according to National Australia Bank's latest quarterly consumer behaviour survey.

NAB found that consumer anxiety has fallen to its lowest level since this time last year. It attributes the better mood to "more signs of improvement in the labour market and non-mining sector of the economy".

NAB's "consumer anxiety index" slipped to 61.1 points in the December quarter from 62.5 in the three months to the end of September, compared with a long-term average of 61.9 points.

The bank's findings suggest recent improvements in the labour market, shown by a further fall in the unemployment rate to 5.8 per cent in November, have made finding or keeping a job less of a worry than a year ago.

"Strong employment growth and a falling unemployment rate may be buoying confidence, despite weak growth in wages suppressing household income," the bank said.

"Wealth creation effects from the housing boom in Sydney and Melbourne are also likely to have contributed but may provide less impetus to consumer spending in the new year as house prices stabilise."

Indeed, Australians are already less chilled when it comes to financing their retirement and meeting the monthly costs of health, transport and utilities such as electricity, gas and internet connections.

The sub-indices covering these areas are above last year's levels and are largely unchanged or only slightly down on last quarter.

"It is still of some concern that almost one in three consumers rate their anxiety levels from cost of living pressures as high," said NAB's chief economist Alan Oster.

Despite this, spending on non-essentials, while broadly unchanged since the previous quarter, was much stronger than a year ago, said Mr Oster.

This is particularly true in NSW and Victoria, which have the hottest housing markets and are where most of the new jobs are being created.

However, there were still some cuts in spending on essentials such as transport, utilities in health, with paying down debt a household priority, particularly in NSW, the ACT and Western Australia, NAB said.

The removal of Tony Abbott as prime minister in September also appears to have fed into the survey results, with anxiety about government policy at its lowest level in about two years.

However, the issue still rates as the second most important after cost of living and above the ability to fund retirement.

"By state, nearly all types of spending were weighing more heavily on the household financial positions of consumers living in Western Australia and Tasmania."

Tasmania aside, the bank concluded that overall consumer anxiety levels had slipped below the long-term average in all states and many demographic groups.

The main exceptions to this were low-income earners, women over 50, widows and divorcees, some professionals and those whose highest educational attainment was a diploma.


University student sues Yarra Trams after ticket inspectors pinned him down

Goons in uniform are all too frequent

A university student is suing Yarra Trams, alleging that he was forcibly pinned down by multiple ticket inspectors, including one who pressed their knee on to his throat to detain him.

Cheng Liu, also known as Michael, was allegedly thrown to the ground by the ticket inspectors at a Swanston Street tram stop on October 30, 2013.

He alleges that when the inspector placed his knee across his throat, he refused to remove it. The incident was filmed by another commuter on their mobile phone, in which Mr Liu can be heard shouting that he cannot breathe. A ticket inspector asks him to stop moving.

In documents lodged in the Supreme Court on Monday, Mr Liu is suing Yarra Trams for using "physical force that was grossly excessive, as well as assault and battery".

The 23-year-old is also arguing that the inspectors ignored his pleas for mercy and that Yarra Trams has failed to implement, or adequately implement relevant recommendations made by the Victorian Ombudsman in relation to issuing public transport infringement notices.

Maurice Blackburn's Dimi Ioannou said Mr Lui now suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident.

She said the case had broader implication for other public transport users, who "needed to be protected from such violence at the hands of ticket inspectors".

"Inspectors must know the difference between restraint and excessive force and appreciate that they don't have the same powers as Victoria Police," she said.

The writ was filed against Yarra Trams by Maurice Blackburn in the Supreme Court on Monday.


27 December, 2015

Isn't the sunny optimism below wonderful?

Unmentioned is that this is an old idea and that there are already a lot of these plants around to assess how successful they are.  Huge projects of the sort are already in operation in both California (See here and here) and Spain (See here).  And guess what?  They do produce some power but have big problems and need big subsidies from government to stay in operation

After hours of steady rain, there is not a ray of sunshine in sight and the mud is thick on the ground at the $20 million Jemalong pilot solar thermal plant near Forbes in central west New South Wales.

But in a way, the fact it is overcast helps to explain the importance of this technology, which enables both capture and storage of energy from the sun, according to James Fisher, chief technology officer of Vast Solar.

The engineer, who formerly worked in the fossil fuel industry and said he never thought renewables could compete with coal, now has a much sunnier outlook on the subject.
Technology behind solar thermal power plant

The Australian company has developed what it hopes will be a low-cost, high-efficiency Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) generation technology.

The Jemalong pilot plant will be ready for commissioning in mid-January and is designed to prove the technology works.

Five modules of 700 mirrors - or heliostats - will concentrate the sun's energy onto a receiver mounted on a 27-metre high tower.

Sodium will then be pumped through the receiver where it will be heated up to 565 degrees Celsius and stored in a tank.

When power is needed, the hot sodium will be put through a steam generator, similar to a big kettle, which will boil the water, generating steam and driving the turbine in the same way a coal-fired plant operates.

Mr Fisher said traditional solar or photovoltaic power production converted the sun's energy directly into electricity which then had to be stored in expensive batteries.

He said the difference with CSP was that it captured the sun's energy in heat which was cheaper and easier to store.

"So the big advantage with solar thermal is the storage. Our storage costs around $25 a kilowatt an hour, compared to lithium ion batteries which cost about $300 a kilowatt hour," Mr Fisher said.

He said the system meant power production could happen whenever it was needed and until now, that role of maintaining a steady electricity grid had mainly been provided by coal power.

"We can run 24 hours a day and providing base load is really the key to solar thermal," he said.

Mr Fisher said if the 1.1 megawatt Jemalong pilot proved the technology was viable for 30 years, billion dollar commercial plants would be built.

"This sort of technology will put massive amounts of money into regional Australia if it takes off," he said.

Vast Solar has revealed plans for a 30 megawatt commercial plant - at a yet to be determined location - and Mr Fisher said the company had progressed well in attracting investment.

"But a problem is it's big money to develop it. These plants you can only build in large scale, so a tiny plant will be $100 million and a good-sized plant will be $500 million," Mr Fisher said.

The commissioning process at the Jemalong pilot will take four to six months and experts ranging from representatives of power utilities to academics from the Australian National University will be involved.

The project is also being closely watched by the Australian Government's Renewable Energy Agency, Arena, which has committed $5 million.

Mr Fisher said commercial solar thermal plants could be producing power at seven cents per kilowatt hour, which was cheaper than the most up-to-date coal-fired plants.

"I think we'll look back in 50 years and think, 'wow, what were we doing building coal mines to power a plant that has to run 24-hours a day when the sunshine's free?'"

He said solar thermal technology had a bright future. "Hopefully it will be Vast Solar that cracks it but someone will do it, there's no question in my mind," he said.


December heatwave shatters record temperatures in south-eastern Australia

Global warming, right?  Not quite.  In S.E. Queensland where I live we had an unusually COOL December.  So whatever is going on is not global

Sunday night was Sydney's warmest in three years but a cool change will bring rain over Monday and Tuesday, aiding fire risk reduction efforts in the Newcastle and Wodonga areas.

It might be hard to recall after the past few days of torrential rain, but December has been hot - the records don't lie.

The extreme heat prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a Special Climate Statement, confirming record temperatures across South Australia, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria, where the highest daily minimum temperature ever recorded was reached (31.9 degrees in Mildura).

"The most intense phase of the heatwave began on December 16 as high pressure became established in the Tasman Sea and directed hot, north-easterly winds over South Australia," the bureau said.
Children took to the Nepean River at Penrith as the mercury rose into the 40s on Sunday.

Children took to the Nepean River at Penrith as the mercury rose into the 40s on Sunday. Photo: James Alcock

"The heat spread over much of south-eastern Australia from 18 December as winds turned more northerly, reaching its most intense levels over the weekend of 19-20 December. A trough and cold front crossed the region on 20 December, bringing the heatwave to an end over the most-affected areas although hot conditions continued over parts of New South Wales on the 21st."

Sydneysiders have surely not forgotten the night of 20th, when they sweated through the hottest December night in 15 years, during which the mercury was still sitting at 29 degrees at 10pm in the city, before dropping briefly to a low of 22.6 degrees just after 3am.

An extended period of hot weather in South Australia concentrated on Adelaide, where temperatures reached 40 degrees on each of the four days from December 16 to 19.

"This was the first occasion that four consecutive days of 40 degrees or above had occurred in Adelaide in December," the bureau said.

"The highest temperatures of the heatwave occurred on 19 December. Hottest of all was the upper Spencer Gulf region, where Port Augusta reached 47.2 degrees, with 45.8 degrees at Whyalla and 45.6 degrees at Port Pirie."

Bureau senior climatologist Blair Trewin said the South Australian heatwave was particularly interesting as heatwaves usually occurred in late summer.

"Systems tend to be more stable and slow moving," he said. "It's unusual to get a heatwave in December. We've had that a few times in January and February but never December."

However, the fact a heatwave occurred early in summer did not suggest even hotter conditions for the coming January and February, Mr Trewin said.

"The seasonal climate outlook is leaning towards cooler conditions in much of Victoria and South Australia," he said. "We are experiencing a strong El Nino, but the main effect of that on temperatures in Southern Australia is actually in the second half of the year.

"El Nino effects on average temperatures disappear in Southern Australia from January onwards."

In Victoria, El Nino summers tend to bring more extremes at both ends of the scale, meaning more hot days but also more unusually cool temperatures as well.

The remarkable global heat experienced this year may not be the last of it, with forecasters already predicting next year will be hotter again - marking three years in a row of record annual warmth.

The prediction, by Britain's Met Office, came just days after almost 200 nations agreed in Paris to a new global agreement to tackle climate change.

Under the pact, to take effect from 2020, nations would review efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions every five years with the aim of keeping temperature increases to "well below 2 degrees" of pre-industrial levels.


Most Australians are clueless about immigration and population: survey

Many problems flow from Australia's high immigrant intake

In the 2016 election year we will hear a lot more about one of Australia's hitherto practically unsung federal-state imbalances.

The much sung one, of course, is the fact that the Federal Government raises the bulk of the taxes, but the states are the ones with the responsibility for spending them - schools, hospitals, police, most roads and so on. It goes by the rather ugly name of vertical fiscal imbalance.

The unsung one is that the Federal Government is responsible for Australia's high immigration rate but it is the poor states that have to provide the services and infrastructure for the extra people. It could be called vertical population policy imbalance. But it might be easier just to call it dumb policy.

Australians seem to have some idea about vertical fiscal imbalance because the Premiers and Chief Ministers are forever whingeing about being starved of funds by the Feds. It is a convenient excuse for long hospital waiting lists and the like.

But Australians have very little idea about population. A survey published this week by the Australian Population Research Institute reveals just how ignorant they are about it.

The survey asked four basic questions with multiple-choice answers. Only 2 per cent of respondents got all four questions right. That is worse than random guessing, which would have yielded one in 16 getting all four questions right, or about 6 per cent of respondents.

That suggests not just ignorance but the possession of misinformation, as if people have been victims of a slow-drip propaganda campaign.

The questions were: Is it True or False that without immigration, Australia's population would be shrinking? What is Australia's population? What portion of the immigration intake are refugees? And is it True or False that Australia has one of the highest population growth rates in the developed world?

The best result was the present level of population, with just over half of respondents getting it right. The worst (19 per cent) was the fact Australia has one of the highest population rates in the world. Only Israel and Luxembourg in the OECD have higher rates.

Overall, 12.6 per cent of respondents got all four questions wrong. Again, random guessing would have resulted in only 6 per cent of respondents getting them all wrong. The 12.6 per cent result can only be the result in some general pushing of misinformation - not just ignorance on its own. By the way, this is my conclusion, not that of the researchers.

If political leaders, business, the media and other providers of information and information were generally pushing the correct or no information - rather than an incorrect picture - you would expect a better than random result for all questions right and for no questions right. Instead, both are worse.

The survey backs up what a few people have long suspected: that the big end of town - a tiny, wealthy and powerful minority which gets benefit from high immigration - and the politicians they finance have pushed the case for high immigration, generally against the overall public interest.

They do this by stressing imaginary benefits - economic growth, cure for an ageing population, cure for a falling birth rate etc. And they underplay how aberrant high population growth is, the strain it puts on infrastructure and the provision of services, and the strain it puts on the environment.

Further, they are desperately worried that any difficulty with refugees might detract from what they say is general support for immigration. Former Prime Minister John Howard said as much. That is why he was so tough on refugees.

Well, it is about time some of these myths got busted. And it looks as if the next election campaign may go some way towards that.

For a start, last week's report revealed that politicians' assertions that there is widespread support for immigration in Australia are plainly wrong.

The survey found that 51 per cent of Australians do not want any population growth. And a further 38 per cent said they did not want Australia to grow beyond 30 million. Those 89 per cent are in effect saying they want governments to reduce or eliminate immigration - because, as the survey pointed out, even without immigration Australia's population would still grow.

The Australian Population Research Institute is an independent research institute. Its members are participating researchers, mainly academics. This survey was commissioned by Sustainable Population Australia (about to change its name to Sustainable Australia). Its candidate was supported by Dick Smith in the North Sydney by-election this month.

Smith said he has been in discussion with Flight Centre founders and rich-listers Graham Turner and Geoff Harris about supporting Sustainable Australia at the next federal election.

Money, of course, helps immensely in politics. The Palmer United Party, backed by millionaire miner Clive Palmer, won three Senate seats and a House of Representatives seat last election. Its support has since collapsed and two of its senators deserted the party and its policies have been incoherent.

You need more than money. You also need a convincing platform. So expect to hear a lot more about immigration and population at the next election. Money can buy media presence, either directly through advertisements, or indirectly through things like last week's research and paying people to present the message effectively.

One of those messages is likely to be that Premiers should stop asking the Feds for extra money, and ask them for fewer people instead.

Oddly enough support for population growth was stronger among university graduates and urban dwellers.

It was extraordinarily high in Canberra - the centre of political lobbying.

Overseas born were - as you would expect - more in favour. The research suggested that more recent arrivals did not have a past reference point of a less populated and less congested Australia.

Males were more in favour than females and tended to cite economic reasons more than females who, when in favour, cited cultural diversity and helping refugees more than males did.

The interesting question will be how the Greens and the National Party react. The Greens have not been very active for an environmental party on the sustainable-population front. The National Party has opposed (fairly weakly) mining on agricultural land, but has been virtually silent on the question of population expansion encroaching on agricultural land.

They may be forced to get into this debate come election time.


Killers and terrorists will be served Halal chicken at 'religious friendly' Christmas lunch at Supermax - because so many of the inmates are Muslim

Christmas dinner inside Goulburn's Supermax prison for many of the inmates will be Halal chicken with cranberry sauce in an aluminium tray slid through the hatch of their four-by-three metre cell door at around 11am on Friday.

An unprecedented number of arrests of terror related suspects has boosted the number of Muslims locked up inside Supermax this Christmas alongside longer term inmates like serial killer Ivan Milat and double murderer Vester Fernando.

Daily Mail Australia can reveal that 37 high risk inmates will be spending the holiday season inside the prison and the increase in Islamic prisoners means there will be more call on the 'religious friendly' meal option on Friday's menu.

Although they are unlikely to be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Supermax's newer inmates like teenager Raban Alou will find little comfort in the culinary nod to his religion.

Alou was locked up in October for allegedly supplying schoolboy Farhad Jabar, 15, with the gun that killed police accountant Curtis Cheng at Parramatta in western Sydney.

Supermax prison is a modern jail within the larger 19th century jail which lies on the edge of the town of Goulburn, 200km southwest of Sydney.

While Goulburn's main prison, where inmates are caged in open-air yards in a noisy and sometimes menacing rabble, the atmosphere inside Supermax is more like a hospital than a jail.

It feels clinical, and with dozens of the country's worst offenders behind the glass doors of their day rooms like animals in a zoo, it is creepy.

Alou is likely being held in Supermax's segregation area, 7 wing, where all fresh admissions are held as they get used to the high risk management prison's rules and restrictions.

Alou, who is spending his first Christmas inside after being charged with aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the commission of a terrorist act, will be offered the Halal chicken with potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Muslim inmates can also opt for the vegetarian Christmas lunch option of a spinach and ricotta burger with potatoes and vegetables.

Prepared three days earlier by criminals in one of the state's four prison kitchens in Sydney and regional NSW, the meal will be reheated, placed on a trolley and given to Alou in his cell. For dessert, he will receive a fruit mince pie.

The food will have been precisely measured to be high on vitamins and minerals and low in harmful fat or salt rendering it, many inmates claim, completely tasteless.

After a year in which breaches at Goulburn prison have resulted in escapes, attempted escapes and the amassing of contraband such as mobile phones, security will be tight in Supermax where guards can only interact in pairs with inmates.

In the lead up to Christmas, Corrective Services usually instigates a pre-season crackdown with officers from a special anti-contraband force and dogs searching common areas of the prison to sniff out drugs.

At this time of year, these teams also step up searches of visitors who may try to bring illegal substances into prisons.

Searches unearth stashes of methadone, fruit to make 'jail brew', cannabis, pills, steroids, 'ice', mobile phones and SIM cards, weapons such as shivs made from filed toothbrushes, wood or metal, and other banned items tattoo guns and cigarettes.


24 December, 2015

A crooked scientist

Judging by the name, she might be of Greek origin.  Greek ladies often come under a lot of pressure from their families

This is just one episode in a trend.  There has been a lot of publicity in recent times about unreplicable and fabricated research, so the reputation of science should be declining.  Once the global warming scare is also recognized as crooked science, the reputation of science will be permanently damaged, which will be a good thing. People should always question authority and ask for evidence as a first response.  An example of how Green/Leftists do not below

The research of a promising Australian scientist has been retracted after an investigation found she faked results in the trial of a blood pressure drug.

Dr Anna Ahimastos was a researcher at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne when she fabricated data that was published in two international journals.

What we hope to do in the fullness of time is reanalyse that data independently.

Bronwyn Kingwell, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
On Tuesday, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) retracted Dr Ahimastos' paper on a three-year clinical trial of a blood pressure drug, Ramipril. The study found the drug, a safe and effective treatment for lowering blood pressure, also helped patients with artery disease walk for longer and with less pain.

While the study has been retracted, Baker IDI said participants involved in the trial were not exposed to any danger. Subsequent studies also suggest the original finding may still be correct.

In June, another Baker IDI researcher noticed inconsistencies in the original study data, which promoted an internal investigation.

Bronwyn Kingwell, the head of the laboratory where Dr Ahimastos worked, said during the investigation Dr Ahimastos admitted to making up data about several patients that did not exist. She resigned in July.

A note from the paper's other authors to the JAMA journal editors said Dr Ahimastos was the person "responsible for data collection and integrity for the article".

"No other coauthors were involved in this misrepresentation," the note read.

"All authors recognise the seriousness of this issue and apologise unreservedly to the editors, reviewers and readers of JAMA."

Professor Kingwell said while data collected from study participants in Melbourne had been compromised, the information gathered from patients in Townsville and Brisbane was credible.

"What we hope to do in the fullness of time is reanalyse that data independently and get a research finding from that," she said.

A smaller subsequent trial also found that ramipril improves patient with walking time.

Professor Kingwell said while this was an isolated event, the institute was reviewing its practices around how investigators report study data and results to prevent this type of incident recurring.

She said Dr Ahimastos had a PhD, 10 years of experience and was trained in good clinical practice, making her well qualified for the job.

"We work in a high-trust environment as a team and each individual has serious responsibilities," Professor Kingwell said. "Unfortunately [in this instance] the individual who breached [this trust] was the one who had responsibility for the data collection."

In 2010 Dr Ahimastos was honoured with a Young Tall Poppy Science Award by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science.

Another of Dr Ahimastos' papers, published in the journal Circulation Research, has also been retracted.

"We are currently investigating other studies for which Dr Ahimastos had oversight of data collection," Professor Kingwell said.


JAMA has just published the Notice of Retraction

Incorrect to celebrate Australia day?

My family always celebrate it in the traditional Australian way -- with a BBQ at my brother's place

AN AUSTRALIA DAY celebration, which more than four thousand people said they were interested in attending, has been axed following a series of angry outbursts on social media.

However, as soon as it was cancelled, a new event was created in its place.

The event, called Floatopia, was due to be held on 26 January at Gordons Bay in Sydney's east.

Police and the local council have expressed concern at the location of the event and another one, due to be held on New Year's Day, saying it could harm local ecosystems.

They also reminded partygoers of a strict alcohol ban.

As with similar events overseas, Floatopia sees revellers bring a variety of flotation devices as well as sound systems, and often alcohol, down to the beach to enjoy the warm weather.

In recent years the celebration has been held at other Sydney beaches including Manly.

However, this morning one of the organisers cancelled the Australia Day event blaming "mean spirited behaviour" including racism.

It followed a heated to and fro online between people who were looking forward to attending Floatopia and others who were variously concerned with issues such as littering.

Some questioned whether it was appropriate to hold the event on a public holiday that marked the beginning of colonisation in Australia.

On the page, one user posted, "Imagine I went and partied about someone in yr fam [sic] dying. That might be how it feels for some Aboriginal people."

Another person went further saying the event celebrated racism.

"Invasion Day is a day where drunk yobbos scream `straya' for 12 hours and have absolutely no regard for the atrocities that have been and are still being committed to my race to this day. If you're celebrating on the day of which my people suffered mass killings and genocide. Well then there is something seriously wrong with you."

On the opposite side of the fence, one person said "We can't have a celebration of unity of Australia becoming a country without someone getting on their high horse about something that happened a hundred of years ago ... but that's not what Australia Day is about. Back off and let people have their BBQs and fun without carrying on like a pork chop."

The thread garnered hundreds of comments and some of which descended into insults.

Another user complained about the possible ramifications of the event which could ruin "our beautiful, quiet vista," of Gordons Bay.

The organiser, Jaime Lawrence, today posted on the page, which had been liked by 4200 people that the event was cancelled after debate "went from zero to 100 really quickly."


"We don't condone bullying, name calling, racism or any other type of mean spirited behaviour," the post said.

"Watching that unfold over the last 12 hours is a pretty f***ing awful demonstration of humans. "We're local ocean-loving hippies too and by no means do we support anyone harming beautiful Gordons Bay on this day or any other. So with that in mind, we're pulling the event down."

However, within an hour an almost identical event, with the same images used and at the same location, was launched called the `Australia Day Floaty Party'.

Talking to, Tatiana Sugarplum Sparkle Craufurd-Gormly, one of the fiercest critics of the event, said she was pleased it was axed. "It is small step towards breaking away from the stigma that this is a day of celebration rather than mourning."

She said anyone who publicly celebrated on Australia Day should be conscious of their actions given Aboriginal communities continue to name it Invasion Day. "Not only are individuals being insensitive to the true meaning of this day but they are also disrespecting and disregarding the land which was nurtured peacefully for thousands of years up until it was colonised."

While private celebrations were more acceptable, Ms Craufurd-Gormly said it would better if the date was changed to a less controversial anniversary. Those that decded to celebrate Floatopia anyway were, "ignorant, obstinate and disrespectful," she said.

A similar event, called Float Your Boat, is still planned for New Year's Day at Gordons Bay. With more than 9000 people potentially attending, it has alarmed authorities.


Melbourne authorities caught extremist days after Paris bombings

MELBOURNE authorities nabbed a French extremist trying to enter Australia with chemicals just two days after the deadly Paris bombings.

The French national of Arab descent was caught as he arrived at Tullamarine airport two days after the Islamic State's co-ordinated massacre which killed 130 people.

The man flew in from Abu Dhabi in the Middle East and was detained by the Australian Border Force.

A search revealed extremist material on his phone and a supply of chemical mace.

The man was kept overnight at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre and deported the next day.

A spokesman for the Australian Border Force said an anomaly with the man's passport raised the alarm for security officers.

"The Australian Border Force can confirm the detention of a French national on 15th November who arrived inbound to Melbourne airport from a Middle Eastern airport," the spokesman said.

"The man was detained by ABF counter-terrorism unit team officers as a result of an assessment of advance passenger processing information which revealed an anomaly with his electronic travel authority.

"A subsequent search of his belongings revealed objectionable material of an extremist nature on his mobile devices and prohibited goods in his luggage.

"The man was issued with an infringement notice and then detained at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre until his removal from Australia the next day."

The man's entry has reportedly sparked a security review of Europeans travelling to Australia. Experts have already warned a terrorism attack on Australian soil is "inevitable".

Security efforts have been beefed up at Melbourne airport with more staff members screening travellers, especially from France and Belgium.

Safety measures have also been upgraded at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and the West Indies with a new security compound around the stadium. The Australian Open tennis is also increasing security.

Three out of four Australians surveyed by Newspoll last month believe a large scale terror attack is still likely.


Silent majority is toasting Trump as Left wallows in its vitriol

By Jennifer Oriel

The political year is ending as it began, with a sustained attack on conservatives and their replacement by a populist Right less willing to compromise on free speech and immigration. The New Right, embodied by political figures such as Donald Trump, is a counterforce to the continuing campaign of censorship and vilification by leftists determined to remove all traces of conservative thought from public life.

When Tony Abbott proposed a secular reformation of Islam, the Left compared him to Trump in a contorted campaign of guilt by association. Rather than address the problem of Islamist theocracy and the terrorism it produces, the Left urged Abbott to self-censor, framing him as a divisive element in society and the Liberal Party.

Network Ten's The Project ran its coverage with the words "Abbott the Wrecker" splashed across the screen. SBS went into full scold mode, chiding: "Mr Abbott had promised to sit quietly on the backbench . but he's already causing problems."

Abbott certainly is causing problems - for theocrats and terrorists. The establishment Left did not complain so loudly when Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz called for a reformation of Islam, but Abbott embodies a combination of traits deemed intolerable by self-appointed political elites: he is white, male and Christian. From the lofty bureaucracy of the left clerisy, however, Abbott's cardinal sin is conservatism.

The editor of the University of Adelaide's student magazine On Dit, Leighton McDonald-Stuart, described the corrosive effects of left bigotry on campus in The Courier-Mail: "The attitudes of . social justice warriors . is not conducive to (free) speech . You risk being labelled `fascist scum' if you happen to be of conservative ilk . If you seek to express a view that doesn't conform to . the revolutionary socialist groups on campus, then you are `racist'."

Across US campuses, the Left's campaign to impose its ideology by censorship has turned violent. Radical minority groups are attacking people whose skin colour is deemed politically incorrect. A multi-university group called the Afrikan Black Coalition stated: "White people need to be stopped. Period."

Last month, The Dartmouth Review reported a large group of Black Lives Matter activists storming the university library and attacking students while screaming: "F..k you, you filthy white f..ks!" They pinned one woman to a wall, shouting "filthy white bitch!" at her. Vice-provost of student affairs Inge-Lise Ameer responded not by condemning the violent racism of Black Lives Matter activists but the media that criticised it: "There's a whole conservative world out there that's not being very nice."

The Left's systematic and increasingly violent campaign of bigotry is fuelling the rise of political figures such as Trump. One cannot understand the Trump effect and the emergent populist Right without analysing the forces that produced them.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the odious treatise that produced the modern Left: Herbert Marcuse's Repressive Tolerance. Marcuse was a neo-Marxist who prescribed two methods to eliminate conservatism: censorship of free speech and the introduction of majority rule. The new majority would comprise Marcuse's "radical minority" and come to power by dominating public debate.

The neo-Marxist equation for equality is: "Not equal but more representation of the Left." The old standard of universal equality was superseded by a new formula to force the Right into political oblivion by engineering an over-representation of Left-approved minorities across public institutions. Media, academe and politics were all targets of the New Left's doublethink formula for social justice: inequality = equality.

Trump has crashed through the apex of neo-Marxism. His carefully crafted target group, the "silent majority", is a two-fingered salute to the Left's censorious activists. Trump's success rests on the premise that the silent majority is so angered by the decades of censorship and oppression devised by neo-Marxists that it will support any man whose free speech most offends their manufactured minorities.

Unlike the genuinely perse-cuted minorities of the Islamist and communist worlds, the minority groups of the Western Left have been manufactured primarily for political purposes. They enjoy equal and often greater rights under law than their fellow citizens. Affirmative action policy offers them privileged places in education and employment. They can access a range of special benefits under welfare, health and housing schemes. And the state shields them from words that may offend by encoding anti-free speech provisions in anti-discrimination legislation.

Minority politics may help some people genuinely in need, but it is also an expression of codified bigotry against the only group wholly excluded from its benefits: white men.

Trump is wielding such devastating effect because he embodies everything neo-Marxists have oppressed for a half-century.

He is white, male and capitalist. A determined freethinker and free speaker. A politically incorrect pundit who does not resile from attack but ups the ante after every blow. He pursues targets so aggressively that Republicans are at pains to disown him, especially after his call to halt Muslim immigration while America learns to manage the jihadist threat. But to everyone's surprise, Trump continues to dominate.

While public poll results vary, a Fox News poll held in South Carolina across four days showed that two days before Trump proposed a halt to Muslim immigration, his rating was at 30 per cent. He polled 38 per cent for the two nights following it. He is poll favourite to lead Republicans into the next election. And despite media portrayals of Trump followers as rednecks, a Rasmussen poll last week found the majority of Americans (46 per cent) support a temporary ban on Muslim immigration with 14 per cent undecided.

Trump is voicing the politically incorrect concerns of the silent majority and, for better or worse, they are rewarding him for it.

Trump is a middle finger aimed squarely at the establishment and the backlash against him has come from both sides of the political divide. It was The New York Times columnist David Brooks who distilled the complex issue into a sound bite, accusing Trump of bigotry. Brooks may be right, but the main challenge Trump's ascendancy leaves the Left is less to prove his bigotry than to disprove its own.


23 December, 2015

Reduce Sunday penalty rates, says Productivity Commission

By increasing the number of businesses that open on Sunday, this could INCREASE the pay going to workers overall.  But, because of the unions, Turnbull is unlikely to move on this until after the next election

Sunday penalty rates for cafe, restaurant, entertainment and retail workers should be lowered to the same level as Saturday penalty rates, the Productivity Commission into Australia's workplace relations system has recommended.

But penalty rates for public holidays should remain in place, and the minimum wage should not be  abolished.

It comes just days before Christmas when retail and hospitality workers are facing one of their busiest weeks of the year.
The report recommends Sunday penalty rates for cafe, restaurant, entertainment and retail workers should be lowered to the same level as Saturday penalty rates.

The report recommends Sunday penalty rates for cafe, restaurant, entertainment and retail workers should be lowered to the same level as Saturday penalty rates. Photo: Rob Banks

The Productivity Commission was asked by the former Abbott government to review Australia's workplace relations framework to see what effect it was having on levels of unemployment, productivity, and competitiveness.

The commission's draft report, released in August, upset the Labor Party, the Greens and the union movement for recommending changes to Sunday penalty rates.

But it also upset the conservative side of politics for not recommending more radical changes to the minimum wage.

Now the Productivity Commission's final report - released on Monday - shows it has refused to assuage either side of politics on those points of controversy.

The report says the minimum wage system is working well and does not need to be changed.

It says penalty rates for shift work and overtime should stay in place, too.

However, it has recommended that Sunday penalty rates for workers in the hospitality and retail industries should be reduced to match lower time-and-a-half rates paid on Saturdays, which will reduce their overall pay.

The recommendation does not extend to emergency workers.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the recommendation to reduce Sunday penalty rates was something the Fair Work Commission could adopt if it wanted to, but it had nothing to do with the Turnbull government.

"The government has no plans to change penalty rates," Senator Cash said on Monday.

"Penalty rates are set by the independent Fair Work Commission, just as interest rates are set by another independent body [the Reserve Bank]."

Senator Cash also said the Turnbull government would read the report and take any recommendations to the next election to seek a mandate for reform.

"I don't intend to play the political rule-in, rule-out game. The government is focussed on having a mature conversation with the Australian people about the recommendations in this report," she said.

But Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor has criticised aspects of the report, and Senator Cash's refusal to say which recommendations the government wants to adopt.

He said the report was "Malcolm Turnbull's gift that no worker wants for Christmas".

"If Malcolm Turnbull and this government does not want to support cutting penalty rates, then they can reject the recommendation of the Productivity Commission today," he said.

"But the Minister has chosen not to do that."

The final report includes a new recommendation in relation to the transfer of business.

One of the long-standing issues on the transfer of business is that often when a company buys out another company, there is a disincentive to bring on employees from the company that it is buying, Ms Cash said.

The Productivity Commission acknowledges it wants to look at ways to provide these companies with an incentive to take on those employees so they are not left without a job.

The inquiry report was handed to the Turnbull government on 30 November.

The report says social trends and community norms have shifted so much in recent years that Australians now expect to be able to shop, go to a pharmacy, and eat at cafes and restaurants on weekends.

It says Sunday working is now inherent in jobs in particular parts of the services sector - cafes, hospitality, entertainment, restaurant and retail industries - and Sunday penalty rates that are not part of overtime or shift work should be set at Saturday rates.

It says weekend penalty rates should be more equal across the hospitality, entertainment, retail, restaurants and cafe industries - but without the expectation of a single rate across all of them.

It says the Fair Work Commission should introduce new regulated penalty rates in one step, but with one year's advance notice.


Unions may be losing membership but get their way anyhow

When my sister started teaching in 1976, she asked her high school civics class to name the then prime minister. Half of the students answered Bob Hawke, even though he was, at that stage, the president of the ACTU. He did not become PM until 1983. (Mind you, maybe those students really did know a thing or two.)

My guess is that if you asked high school students today to name the president (or secretary) of the ACTU, very few would be able even to hazard a guess. That goes for most adults as well. The decline in the power of the ACTU has been precipitous. No one really cares what its leaders think or say, although, bizarrely, Malcolm Turnbull invited the ACTU secretary - Dave Oliver, if you were wondering - to some kind of mini-summit to discuss reform. Bear in mind that 15 per cent of the workforce now belongs to a trade union. I'm not sure who was representing the other 85 per cent.

But while the ACTU is essentially irrelevant - does anyone take any notice of the bleatings from Oliver and Ged Kearney (ACTU president, just in case you didn't know)? - the same cannot be said of certain unions.

These unions, many representing public sector workers, operate to rip off the public by exerting political power. It doesn't really matter to them that there is low unionisation at large; their concerns are much more parochial and selfish. If they can achieve their ends without strike action, so much the better. Workers don't really want to be losing pay to secure large pay rises and generous conditions.

We see this particularly at the state level where the unions representing ambos, firefighters, police, nurses and teachers, in particular, draw on the public's general sympathy for the roles these workers fulfil to extract above-market concessions from governments in terms of pay and conditions.

While it helps if Labor is in power, the unions have figured out that, as long as they can keep the public on-side and disguise the true nature of their extremely generous pay and conditions, there is really not too much downside to the Tories (to use Anthony Albanese's pejorative term for the Coalition) having an occasional turn in power. In any case, undermining Coalition governments is so much fun.

Take Victoria. The behaviour of the Ambulance Employees Association when the Coalition was in power was nothing short of disgraceful. Ambulances - public property - were defaced to give prominence to their industrial campaign. There was never any intention on the part of the AEA to settle the dispute with the government. The workers were on a promise from Labor and part of the deal was the ambos would contribute to the defeat of the Napthine government.

Unsurprisingly, the deal has paid off handsomely for the union and the ambos. No sooner had Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union-controlled Premier Daniel Andrews settled himself behind the big desk than the entire board of Ambulance Victoria was sacked and an extraordinarily generous new agreement was settled with the union.

In addition to a $3000 "sign-on" bonus - just a freebie, courtesy of taxpayers - the ambos secured a pay rise of 12 per cent across two years. This is at a time private sector pay rises are averaging about 2 per cent a year.

Other new allowances and changes to classifications have further inflated the ambos' remuneration. The AEA got everything it wanted; it just required a bit of patience and having compliant politicians do their bidding.

Securing the unswerving allegiance of Labor politicians is central. This is why the unions will fight tooth and nail to ensure their dominance in terms of preselecting parliamentary candidates. Of course, union donations to the Labor Party, particularly to certain members of parliament, always focus the minds of the recipients.

While Labor pretends there are competitive selections for lower house seats, in Victoria and some other states the unions have full monopoly rights to nominate upper house members. This is why these upper houses look like retirement villages for ex-union officials whose careers in the main have been completely without distinction.

Of course it is vital for the unions to shore up their power at the federal level as well and to insist on policies enshrined in legislation that are favourable to them. We see this in terms of the extraordinarily high and rising proportion of federal Labor politicians who have been trade union officials, which is surely strange in view of the declining extent of unionisation.

Even when Labor is not in power, there is still scope for the favours to be doled out: witness Labor's Senate blocking tactics in relation to the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission; the establishment of the Registered Organisations Commission to strengthen regulation of unions (and employer associations); and reforming the governance of industry super funds to include independent directors.

The fact the Greens are now part of the conspiracy on the public helps. The trade unions have strategically handed over funds and support to the Greens to the extent their position in respect of all union-related matters is now indistinguishable from Labor.

But here's the real kicker: with very few exceptions, the election of Coalition governments at the state and federal levels makes not a jot of difference to the ability of the unions to get their way. In Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, the Coalition oppositions now stand for nothing apart from getting into power. They have no intention of upsetting the trade unions.

Falling numbers of union members - who cares? When you have all the politicians on your case and there are plenty of sources of income other than members' dues, there's barely a care in the world for most officials. And a royal commission on trade unions - just keep calling it a political witch-hunt.


Christmas carol ban is out of tune with society

Victoria's public schools are the frontline in the war on Christmas.  In an extraordinary decision of the Andrews government, Education Minister James Merlino issued a diktat to state government schools that has the effect of banning Christmas carols.

You may need to read that sentence one more time.  In an attempt to secularise public schools, a directive was issued last month to the principal of every Victorian public school. These new rules restrict the way in which teachers, parents and volunteers talk about religious ideas in our state schools. The most shocking aspect of the rules is that the teaching and singing of traditional Christmas carols will now be banished from the classroom.

"Praise music", defined as "any type of music that glorifies God or a particular religious figure or deity" will be banned from music classes beginning in January. This is the last year parents will be allowed to volunteer their lunchtimes to teach kids Christmas carols for the end-of-year concert.

Most children aren't even aware there's a religious dimension to Christmas carols. It's Christmas, and singing carols is just what people do. Silent Night has taken on its own significance beyond anything that may be characterised by some government bureaucrat as "praise music". Christmas carols now form a unique genre of music, and removing them from schools has the same effect banning any other genre of music would have; it ignores an important part of the complex tapestry of musical history.

In fact, the motivation behind a ban on Christmas carols today is remarkably similar to that which parents and teachers of children growing up in the 1950s and 60s shared in relation to rock 'n' roll. Sixty years ago, older generations worried Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry would lead a generation to juvenile delinquency. Today, the concern is that Christmas carols may lead to alarming ideas about religion and the meaning of Christmas. Christmas carols are the new subversive influence on youth that parents and teachers should be concerned about - a nonsense idea ironically given life by the fact the elite are attempting to ban them.

Of course, the government hasn't banned all Christmas carols, just those that refer to God. So while drab, contemporary Christmas songs such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will be spared, the traditional carols - those that drip with a rich Christmas spirit - such as Once in Royal David's City, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and O Come, All Ye Faithful are verboten in Victorian public schools.

But it's far bigger than all that. This is a cultural turning point. The Victorian government isn't just banning Christmas carols; this is an attempt to strip away the meaning of Christmas. It's an overt attack on one of the most significant events in the Christian calendar.

The decision goes to the heart of good education. Christmas, and all the ceremony and custom associated with it, has been a significant religious and cultural ritual for 1700 years. A ban on these traditions is a denial of our history. Suppressing aspects of the Christmas celebration denies a cultural heritage that has formed the basis of Western civilisation and that underpins our understanding of life and liberty.

A well-rounded education should include lessons on Christianity and its contribution to who we are today. We can't expect the next generation to defend the values of Western civilisation if they don't know what they are.

The inflammatory decision of the Andrews government to ban Christmas carols in Victoria's public schools must be reversed immediately. Former Victorian attorney-general Robert Clark is to be congratulated for taking a stand on the issue. In parliament Clark called on the government to "withdraw this appalling edict and make clear that students at government schools are entitled to learn, sing and enjoy Christmas carols as they have for generations". In the meantime, and while I'm still able to say it - merry Christmas!


Virulently anti-Israel programs on Australia's ABC

A series of programs on ABC Radio National, produced by a long-standing anti-Israel activist, has undermined the objectivity of the national broadcaster and exposed serious failings in its editorial process. The programs may also have put the ABC in breach of its statutory obligation of `maintaining independence and integrity', and its Code of Practice requiring `impartiality' in current affairs.

The programs, Jerusalem: a divine crime scene, and An unholy mix - Jerusalem, religion and archaeology, produced by former Greens Marrickville Councillor Cathy Peters, presented the views of a parade of veteran anti-Israel propagandists, whose unstated purpose was to discredit the historical connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people, and to level an array of unchallenged and inaccurate accusations against Israel in the guise of expert analysis.

An editor's note published online described Peters as a member of the NSW Greens, an executive member of the Coalition For Justice and Peace in Palestine and a member of Jews Against the Occupation. What the ABC failed to disclose is that Peters is also a fierce proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. She was the instigator of the 2010 Marrickville Council motion urging the Council to consider boycotting all goods made in any part of Israel, as well as Israeli artists, athletes and academics. The motion, which also called on state and federal governments to adopt BDS, provoked a surge of protest and derision, especially from ratepayers unimpressed that the Council was being used as a vehicle to prosecute a pet international cause of a few Councillors.

None of this background was disclosed by the ABC. The Code of Practice requires the ABC `to equip audiences to make up their own minds' about news and current affairs issues, but Peters' audience was not given vital information about her partisan record on the issues about which she was supposedly `reporting'.

Further, the requirement of `independence' and `integrity' in the ABC Act does not merely mean independence from the influence of the government of the day and political parties, as important as that is. It also means independence from the personal opinions, agendas and private activism of program producers and journalists contracted or employed by the ABC itself. Peters' use of her position on Marrickville Council to push an anti-Israel agenda was rejected by rate-payers. The use of the national broadcaster for the same purpose is as objectionable.

Given her background in the anti-Israel movement, it was unsurprising that the two programs were as blatantly inaccurate and one-sided as they were, featuring a panel of speakers all coming from a relentlessly one-eyed anti-Israel perspective. One panellist, Ross Burns, the former Australian Ambassador to Israel, has previously served on the board of the Palestinian lobby group, Australia Palestine Advocacy Network.

Sara Irving, described as a historian and a writer, has filed over 200 stories for the virulently anti-Israel Electronic Intifada website.

Jeff Halper, the Israeli professor, ostensibly chosen to present an Israeli perspective, calls for the eradication of a Jewish national home through a `one-state solution' to the conflict, and has made the bizarre claim that Israel has developed a `spectral dust' it can spray over wide areas of land, every grain of which is a sensor, programmed with a person's DNA to track, locate and kill that individual.

Shawan Jabarin was presented as a human rights activist from a Palestinian NGO. The audience was not told that he has also had a long association with a Palestinian terrorist organisation. In 2007, a court found that Jabarin is a `Jekyll and Hyde' figure: `in part of his activities, he is the director of a human rights organization, and in another part he is an activist in a terrorist organization which does not shy away from acts of murder and attempted murder which. deny the most basic of all human rights - the right to life.'

The former Jerusalem city councillor, Meir Margalit, provided perhaps the most extreme turn of all, in likening archaeological digs which seek to understand, preserve and honour the history of Jerusalem, to the acts of wholesale archaeological destruction and grotesque vandalism committed by Isis.

The opinions of the panellists were punctuated by recordings supposedly presenting Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. The audience heard a gentle-sounding Palestinian poet reciting incantations of longing and pain. The ostensible Israeli perspective was presented in the form of thick American accents repeatedly speaking of God and King David. As if those are the only, or predominant, voices on either side.

Ignored was the vast body of historical, poetic and literary works from the empires of antiquity to Josephus to Amoz Oz, that capture the essence of the long and deep Jewish bond to Jerusalem. Instead of presenting Israel and Israelis in all their rich diversity and complexity, Peters portrayed them as a caricature, precisely as BDS leaders would have everyone see them - American interlopers, settlers with pistols and prayer shawls.

There were also straight-out factual errors. Listeners were told `if you're not Jewish in Jerusalem you don't have the right to vote.' In fact, all citizens of Israel (Jewish and Arab) have the right to vote and enjoy identical civic rights. With the end of the Jordanian occupation of east Jerusalem following Israel's military victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, Jerusalem's Arab residents were granted permanent residency status entitling them to vote in municipal elections and were offered full Israeli citizenship. Some 12 per cent have taken up Israeli citizenship while the remainder are evidently deterred by nationalistic considerations and long-standing threats and accusations of treason by the Palestinian leadership.

While Peters is free to hold her views, no matter how offensive or misguided they may be, the ABC's listeners are entitled to question why the broadcaster trusted an activist with a record of fanatical anti-Israel campaigning to produce current affairs content directly relating to Israel, and without disclosing the full extent of her biases to the audience.

At best, the ABC may have naively believed that Peters could set aside her extreme views and produce sensible, balanced content. At worst, those in charge of the ABC's news and current affairs programming ignored their statutory and Code obligations and indulged Peters' agenda by commissioning the programs knowing exactly what they would be getting, without requiring even a semblance of balance, impartiality or accuracy.


Another grossly defective Jeep

See previous reports here and here.

A man has vented his frustration after shelling out $54,000 on a new Jeep only to have it completely break down two years later.

Zach Winch, from Ipswich, Queensland, is so upset with the laundry list of mechanical problems that have plagued his Jeep since he bought it in August 2013 that he made a video warning other Australians to avoid making his same mistake.

`Do yourself a favour Australia, don't hold back - buy yourself another vehicle,' Zach said while standing in front his bright red Jeep with a sign reading `broken' hanging from the number plate.

Zach lists the 19 mechanical problems that have plagued his 2013 Jeep in the short two years he has owned the car

Within the two years since he bought the car, Zach said the car has had 19 different faults ranging from transmission rebuild and replacement, traction control, overheating and losing power while driving.

`To add to that we've had to make countless trips to and from service centres and overall in its short two year life span it's spent more than seven months off the road,' he said.

`When Jeep owners say it's a Jeep thing you wouldn't understand - they're 100 percent correct - you wouldn't understand how hard it is to keep a jeep on the road running the way it's supposed too,' Zach said.

Zach's frustration comes just months after Melbourne man Teg Sethi made a hilarious mock music video about his 2013 model Jeep Grand Cherokee that he claimed was a `lemon.'


22 December, 2015

Former union boss John Maitland found guilty of misleading ICAC

The first criminal prosecution arising from the NSW corruption watchdog's landmark coal inquiries has resulted in a guilty finding against former union boss John Maitland for giving misleading evidence.

Local Court Magistrate Janet Wahlquist found on Monday that Mr Maitland "intentionally gave misleading evidence" to the Independent Commission Against Corruption during public hearings in May 2013.

She rejected expert evidence tendered by the defence that Mr Maitland may have had a memory lapse, and said it "does not require expert opinion".

Mr Maitland was charged with misleading the ICAC by not admitting he had broken a secrecy order by telling a friend about evidence he had given during a private hearing.

The ICAC caught him in a phone tap discussing the evidence.

His lawyers had argued that talking on the telephone did not breach the secrecy provisions of the ICAC Act - which say that evidence "shall not be published" - because a discussion did not amount to "publishing" the evidence.

But Ms Wahlquist rejected that claim and referred to sections of the Defamation Act in finding that a publication can be made by way of a conversation.

The court will hear submissions on sentencing on January 29.

Mr Maitland faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison, a $5500 fine, or both.

The former head of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy union was embroiled in the ICAC's inquiry into a coal licence given to a company he once chaired, Doyles Creek Mining, by former state Labor mining minister Ian Macdonald. Both were found to have acted corruptly.

In an exchange presented to the court, counsel assisting the ICAC, Peter Braham, SC, opened his questioning of Mr Maitland during a public hearing in May 2013 by asking if Mr Maitland was determined to be "absolutely honest".

"I am," Mr Maitland replied.

He also admitted he was told it would be a criminal offence to talk about the evidence he gave at a private hearing in July 2012, and agreed he took the obligation seriously.

But he was then played a taped telephone call in which he told close friend Archibald Tudehope about the evidence he gave in private.

Asked if he disclosed his evidence in "direct and knowing contravention" of the secrecy order, Mr Maitland said at the time: "Not knowing, but it appears."

"Well, you knew what you were doing, Mr Maitland, and you certainly knew the order had been made?" Mr Braham said.

"I agree,"  Mr Maitland said.

"And you've lied about that fact already this morning haven't you?" Mr Braham pressed.

"It appears so," Mr Maitland replied.

"It's not a good start," Mr Braham said.


12 men arrested over massive brawl in Seaford, Melbourne

How did I know as soon as I saw the headline that this would be an African event?

 A MAN is in a critical condition after he was repeatedly stabbed in a wild brawl involving up to 100 people outside a train station in Melbourne's southeast last night.

Police arrested 12 men following the fight outside the Kananook Railway Station on Wells Rd in Seaford at 5.35pm. They have since been released pending further inquiries.

A 23-year-old Seabrook man suffered a number of stab wounds to his abdomen and was left at Frankston Hospital by a group of unknown men, where he remains in a critical condition.

Police investigating the fight searched three vehicles and seized weapons including baseball bats, a samurai sword and a machete.

They were from suburbs across Melbourne including Sunshine West, Carlton, Taylors Hill, Deer Park, Collingwood, Ardeer, Melton and Dandenong.

They were taken to Frankston and Mornington police stations for questioning.

Police confirmed the fight "was in the vicinity of a sporting event", believed to be the South Sudanese Australian Summer Slam basketball competition that was held at the nearby Frankston Basketball Stadium.

It's believed the fight started in the carpark at the stadium and the men continued brawling for about 200m towards the station.

Basketballer Abraham, who did not want his surname published, said players were preparing for the trophy presentation when they heard "yelling" from the carpark.

There were reports a man had hit another with a baseball bat, Abraham said, and players and spectators ran outside to see what was happening.

"It was at the end of the tournament and there were a few people in the carpark outside," he said.

"Apparently one guy came up and hit one of them with a baseball bat and he got chased."

He said a number of spectators and players went outside, but they were not involved in the fight. "We just heard people running outside and yelling," Abraham said.  "Everyone was wondering what was going on.

"It had nothing to do with the basketball ... it was just people in the carpark (who were) drinking."

South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association manager Manny Berberi said he was confident players in the tournament were not involved.  "I think maybe they (drunken youths) saw the competition was on so came down, but they didn't even come into the stadium to support the teams at all," Mr Berberi said. "None of the players were involved.

"The police handled it very well when they arrived."


Reading Recovery program used in 960 NSW public schools does not work

A key $55 million-a-year program to teach struggling NSW students to read does not work, with the state's first major review of Reading Recovery warning it is offered in too many schools and has few long-term benefits.

The report, by the NSW Department of Education's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, found that Reading Recovery, which is used in about 960 NSW primary schools, should be restricted to the lowest performing students.

While it may have some impact on students who are really struggling with basic reading, the improvements are short-lived, the report found.

Reading Recovery has been in NSW public schools since 1984, and is also used in Catholic and independent schools. It was developed in New Zealand in the 1970s to help struggling readers in year 1 with daily individual, 30-minute lessons from a specially trained teacher.

In NSW, Reading Recovery is in 60 per cent of schools and at least 14 per cent of year 1 students take part in it.

The report found that the program is an "effective short-term intervention for remediating reading text skills among the lowest performing students" but is not an effective intervention for "students who begin year 1 with more proficient literacy skills".

"The duration of the program is only 12-20 weeks so it is equally possible that Reading Recovery students do not receive the level of support they need to sustain any short-term effects beyond year 1," the report says.

Despite its widespread use, the program - which is also in the US, Canada and Britain - has its vocal critics and earlier this year, influential US literacy academic Louisa Moats told education bureaucrats in Victoria that it was "indefensible" to spend money on the program.

"The whole approach is based on ideas that have not held up to scientific scrutiny," Dr Moats said in March.

The NSW Department of Education's general manager of strategic information and reporting, Jenny Donovan, said the report found that overall, the program was "not particularly effective".

"It shows there is a positive effect on some students in year 1, the very lowest level of ability students, but for all students by the time they reach year 3, any positive effect that may have been seen by Reading Recovery has been washed out," Dr Donovan said.

"What the report is suggesting is that Reading Recovery isn't the answer for students who have reading difficulties, and increasingly we see students whose levels of reading are not as bad maybe being subjected to a Reading Recovery treatment and it doing no good whatsoever for them."

Dr Donovan said the report found that the year 3 NAPLAN results of students with similar reading abilities were the same, regardless of whether students had completed the Reading Recovery program or not.

Leading literacy academic Robyn Cox, president of the Primary English Teaching Association of Australia, said Reading Recovery was effective for some students but it was not the only remediation program available to schools.

"One way of improving achievement in early literacy would be to enhance teachers' skills in identifying children with reading difficulties and fine-tuning their teaching strategies for this group," associate professor Cox said.

"Reading Recovery is successful for many kids but there will be some kids who have ongoing difficulties in processing print. I wouldn't want to say it is ineffective because for many kids it is just what they needed at the right time.''

A spokeswoman for the NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the report showed where the program was working and where other strategies to improve reading could be more appropriate.

"The minister has asked the Department of Education for advice on how the report's findings can be used to further refine the effective, targeted delivery of reading support to students needing it most," she said.


Must not represent Australian Aborigines as cute

An `Australian Aboriginal Lucky Doll' has been pulled from stores after photos of the key-ring surfaced on social media and were widely condemned as racist.

The wooden dolls were spotted at a store at Brisbane International Airport by Aboriginal activist Robin Taubenfeld.

They were painted with red, white, black and yellow and were attached to a key-ring by a leather rope which some have said is reminiscent of a `noose'.

A photo of the `Lucky Dolls' was posted to Ms Taubenfeld's Facebook page on Thursday, which prompted their removal from shelves the following day.  Her post has since been shared more than 400 times.

One person commented that the dolls were `disrespectful to The Dreaming'.

Another person said the reference to the key-chain as a `Lucky Doll' was the source of people's anger, given the conditions in Indigenous Communities regarding health, life expectancy and high imprisonment rates.

Others said it was an example of non-Aboriginal people misappropriating and profiting off stereotypes.

Many commented speculating that the dolls were likely not even made in Australia.

Some also left comments on Brisbane Airport Facebook page to express their dismay.

A spokesperson from Brisbane Airport confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that the key-chains were 'quickly' removed from shelves.


21 December, 2015

Batteries And Bulldust: Why `Living Off The Grid' Is Not As Green As You Think

The arrival in Australia of the Tesla "Powerwall" storage battery has produced lots of erections among Australian Greenies.  They see it as the longed-for solution to the intermittent nature of wind and solar power.  The article below however points out that such systems do not add up as a replacement for reticulated electricity.  The author offers nuclear power as the best replacement for hydrocarbon energy sources.

As you could probably guess from the angry tone of it, the article appeared in a far-Left publication, "New Matilda".  It is however perfectly rational and numerate in its critique of the batteries.  There have always been some Green/Leftists who like nukes.  The Left in fact hailed nuclear power when it was first rolled out in the '50s.  It was "new" so they liked it.

This is not the first pro-nuke article to appear in "New Matilda". Editor Chris Graham is evidently balanced in his thinking on some occasions.  He even published a critique of extreme feminism recently. But he did have to publish a Greenie reply to the article below which I don't think is worth linking to.

By Geoff Russell

You can bet that a newsreader who pronounces film as `fill-em' will receive a flood of complaints. Similarly, spelling mistakes in the written word will be pounced upon by the eagle-eyed readers with howls of protest and claims of declining standards and the impending end of civilisation.

But when people screw up with numbers, there's a stunned silence. Our innovation hungry Prime Minister recently announced $48m to combat falling maths science standards, but it isn't just children that need help with numbers.

Take, for example, the Climate Council's Tim Flannery and SBS journalist Emma Hannigan in a recent news report about household battery technologies. Flannery responded to Hannigan's statement that sales of battery systems were predicted to be 50,000 per year for the next decade by saying ". when you get to that point, you won't need coal fired power systems any more".

Get any 10-year-old (with a phone) to do the maths. 50,000 x 10 is half a million batteries. And how many households do we have?

Maths won't help you here, you need data. Google it. number of households in Australia. It's about 9 million.

So will half a million batteries make a dent in our electricity emissions? A tad useless would be an appropriate technical estimate, but since household electricity is only about a quarter of electricity, it's really a quarter of a tad useless.

Put simply, half a million batteries, at around $7,150 dollars each (current price) is an incredibly stupid way to spend $35 billion dollars. For comparison, the United Arab Emirates bought 4 x 1.4 gigawatt South Korean nuclear plants for $20 billion (US) and they'll all be running by 2020.

That would generate enough electricity to charge half a million 7kw Tesla batteries 126,000 times in a decade; if they could handle it. They are only rated to handle 5,000 charge discharge cycles.

But cost isn't the biggest reason for not using big batteries in houses. Let's consider the situation in Germany, mainly because the data comes easily to hand and because they've just wasted 15 years mucking around with renewables at great cost, but with trivial impact.

They expect to take 50 years to do what France did in 15 with nuclear power. Consider the following chart of German electricity use in January 2015.

Can you see the days with very little wind and sun? There's one run of five in a row starting on the 19th of January. In the absence of their fossil fuel and nuclear plants, how much battery storage would the Germans need to cover this kind of run?

They've just signed the COP21 agreement that should stop them expanding their logging of forests for electricity; in fact I'd argue that Article 5 requires them to reduce it.

To make the maths trivial, lets assume they only need to supply 50 gigawatts of power for five days. That's 5 x 24 = 120 hours. Do the sums and you'll see that the batteries will need to supply 6,000 gigawatt-hours of energy (120 x 50). A gigawatt is a `1' with 9 zeros. So, how many fully charged Tesla 7 kilowatt-hour Powerwalls would you need to supply this? All those zeros make what is a trivial calculation look complex: 6,000,000,000,000 divided by 7,000 is 857,142,857.

That's 857 million batteries at a current cost of . $6.1 trillion dollars.

In the real world, many industries need their electricity in a particular form, but the numbers at least give us a feel for the scale of the problem.

But, as I said, cost isn't the biggest reason people shouldn't do this.

Consider the much-vaunted Tesla gigafactory? When it's finished in 2020, it will produce batteries for half a million vehicles a year. That's impressive and useful, but how many such giga factories will it take to supply batteries for those five days of German power?

Each year the giga factory can produce 35 gigawatt hours of battery storage. So how many years of production will it take to supply 6,000 gigawatt hours worth of batteries. 6,000,000,000,000/35,000,000,000. roughly 171 years; assuming Germany is the only customer.

You can do such calculations without all those zeros by using the Exp button on your phone calculator App.

But of course, real engineers wouldn't use Tesla Powerwalls for such a purpose, they'd go for something much cheaper like pumped hydro. This is where you pump water from a low place to a high place when you have cheap electricity and then let it fall back down through a turbine to generate electricity at some later time.

It's great when the geography is suitable and you don't mind trashing some high mountain valley.

But surely batteries will get cheaper? Agreed. The Climate Council has just published a modest battery report. They make a general claim that the cost of battery storage should fall to $200 per kilowatt hour by 2020.

If that comes to pass, the Germans could provide for a run of 5 cold still days using an as yet undeveloped technology at a projected cost of just $1.2 trillion. That makes me feel much better!

So we probably can't afford them, and it will be incredibly tough to build enough of them, but there's still another far more important reason that using big batteries in houses, or for general grid backup, is dumb enough that it should be made illegal where there is no actual need.

Has the penny dropped yet? Here's a hint. The world sells 70 million cars a year and the Tesla giga factor will make half a million car-sized batteries a year when it's finished in 2020.

It should be obvious now. we will desperately need good, big batteries for electric vehicles.

Batteries and hydrogen fuel look to be our only choices for vehicles. So we shouldn't be wasting valuable battery production resources to make batteries for houses because some puddle shallow thinkers reckon it's cool to live off-grid.

We know how to cleanly and efficiently power houses; you build nuclear power plants and hook them into a grid. In developing countries, there is a pressing need for grids and that will be a huge challenge. Wasting valuable battery production capacity on powering houses will make everything that much harder.

The whole batteries-in-houses idiocy is part of what is inevitable when rich countries transfer spending decisions from Governments to individuals via low taxation rates and small government; or more accurately, incompetent Government; Governments who no longer have the skills and vision to pursue major projects in the national interest, let alone the international interest.

Traditionally, when Governments spent money, there was at least a fighting chance that a competent bureaucracy would act rationally and in the public interest.

But when it's up to individuals, particularly rich, self-centered individuals who can't think quantitatively, then they will buy Tesla batteries and Tesla will happily supply them.

If Tesla boss Elon Musk had even half the environmental concern he professes, then he wouldn't make the bloody things.


Former PM Tony Abbott hints he will be staying in politics

FORMER prime minister Tony Abbott has hinted he won't quit politics and fired a warning shot over Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's tax reform plans at a gathering of Liberals who remain furious he was knifed as PM.

Mr Abbott rallied a crowd of supporters at an invite-only event organised by former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews who also hinted the ex-PM would not quit politics.

As the Turnbull government weighs options to increase the GST to 15 per cent, Mr Abbott warned any reform must meet his tax mantra to ensure taxes were lower and fairer.

"I have a very simple mantra when it comes to tax change,'' Mr Abbott said. "The results of tax change has got to be tax which is lower, simpler and fairer. If it doesn't produce taxes that are lower, simpler and fairer it's not reform. It is just change. "We want change that's worth it, not just change for changes sake.''

His comments came on the same day a ReachTel poll found just over 50 per cent of voters in his Liberal electorate believed he should quit.

"I will be working to ensure that we have the best possible government out of next year's election,'' Mr Abbott said. "We will do everything we humanly can to ensure the best possible Coalition government is there in Canberra. And I know we will all be working, together, for that great end.''

Mr Andrews said he looked forward to "working together'' with Mr Abbott in the "years ahead".

His suggestion that Mr Abbott will not leave politics follows the former Prime Minister's recent decision to delay an announcement on his future until later next year.

"We don't know where that journey ends. We often don't know how it will end," Mr Abbott told the attendees.  "To lead our country for two years was the greatest honour of my life. It's all happened thanks to you.  "I know there's been a few ups and downs this year. It's important that we keep them in perspective.''


Anti-vaxers taking posters and pamphlets promoting vaccination in hospitals and clinics

Dangerous and deluded fanatics

ANTI-vaccination vandals are ripping down posters that promote the benefits of lifesaving injections at hospitals and health centres.

They claim they are trying to protect children by removing vital information, even stealing pamphlets from childcare centres in attempts to prevent parents knowing when and why they should vaccinate their families.

One woman suggests taking the action further by printing A5 sheets listing "vaccine affected deaths" to place on parents' cars at childcare centres.

One anti-vaccination vigilante is a Melbourne hospital nurse, who says she refuses to immunise patients. She is under review by Australia's health watchdog after boasting she had falsified her employment details to hide the fact she had not been vaccinated.

A father last month boasted of roaming through a Melbourne hospital with his sleeping baby while his partner was in a medical appointment.

"I came across the room we actually attended when we did our antenatal classes, as nobody was in there I pushed the pram in and had a look around," he wrote.

Anti-vaccination campaigner, Mary Parkes, has boasted online of tearing down vaccination posters. "I soon found the -important whooping cough vaccination poster, plastering the false message into the faces of people. I proceeded to take it off the wall and hide it under one of the cupboards. One less bullshit sign is a small win."

A fellow female anti-vaccination supporter responded with a photo of stolen and vandalised posters, with the message: "When I was in hospital last week my husband removed quite a few vaccination posters. He took them to the car and edited them but didn't manage to put the edited versions back up unfortunately."

A registered nurse who works at a Melbourne hospital told how she stole the health information from her child's childcare centre last year.  "These brochures were scattered all over my kid's child care ... needless to say I took every single copy home for -recycling (they don't know who did it) ... the poster is huge it's hard to see ... ugh ... made me sick ...

"Here it was mission impossible ... but pretending to look at other brochures I just grabbed them ... there were 40-50 of them ... I also removed the reorder application lol. "And I'm the president of the Committee lol."

Mary Parkes, an artist who now lives in Mullumbimby, boasted she did the same at the local parenting rooms at Townsville shopping centres, "ripping them up and binning them."


Black dolls used to represent the baby Jesus in two Australian nativity scenes

Just a Leftist stunt of course. The Dandenong hospital doll above.  It is not literally black, of course, but it has the same colour as many people who are called black.  It is essentially a representation of an African. As such, it is likely to be an inaccurate representation of the historical Jesus, who would have had the coloring of other Mediterranean people.  He would have been a stocky little swarthy-skinned guy with dark eyes and dark hair like a modern-day Southern Italian.  That is of no importance in itself as the traditional European representation of Jesus as tall and blond is also inaccurate.

What is of some concern, however, is that this stunt feeds into and encourages now-common misrepresentations of history.  Some American blacks claim that all sorts of European inventions were in fact the work of Africans.  And Muslims often deny any historical association of Jews with Israel.  These are simply ego-salving lies but they do contribute to confusion about where the truth lies. And this is essentially another lie.  We all wade through a sea of lies as we go through life so it is sometimes a major challenge to figure out what the truth is.  Adding to the lies is therefore very unhelpful

Black achievements in many fields are much less than white achievements and Arab achievements are much less than Jewish achievements but the starting point for doing anything about those gaps is to accept their reality -- not lie about them

In the wake of the controversy surrounding a black doll representing baby Jesus at Pascoe Vale state Labor MP Lizzie Blandthorn's office, Dandenong Hospital has also used a similar doll for its scene.

Ms Blandthorn said her staff members had fielded complaints, but Shane Butler, spokesman for hospital operator Monash Health, said feedback had been positive. "The nativity scene at Dandenong Hospital features a baby perhaps best described as being of Middle-Eastern ethnicity," Mr Butler said.

"We have had no negative feedback from passers-by, and, in fact, our staff have received a number of positive comments about the nativity scene."

The doll's colour sparked fearsome online debate yesterday. Fired up readers were divided over the use of the black doll, with some arguing that Jesus could have been black or olive-skinned, due to his Middle Eastern roots, others saying history had always depicted him as a white man, while some wondered why it was an issue because they did not believe he existed.

Eddie had a simple message for those arguing over the colour of the doll.  "Really, it's Christmas, so all who believe in the birth of Christ, let's just celebrate it and be grateful that someone has put up a nativity scene," Eddie wrote.

Some said Ms Blandthorn was "grandstanding" and questioned if MPs should be allowed to erect nativity scenes at all, considering the multicultural electorates they represent.

"What is relevant here is simply that a Labor MP has deliberately done this to get a negative reaction from people and I suspect to try and prove a point," Leslie wrote.

Jason wondered: "Should politicians be putting nativity scenes in their office windows? I think this might be a broader issue to talk about."

Paul thought Jesus had "blond hair and blue eyes".  "You're in good company Paul, so did Michelangelo and Da Vinci," John replied.

Guy said readers were creating an "incredible amount of fuss over the accuracy of a depiction of... a fictional character! Lol."

Yesterday, Ms Blandthorn told Leader she wanted to present a "multicultural" nativity scene in keeping with her diverse community it Pascoe Vale.

"Some people have suggested it wasn't appropriate because it was dark-skinned, but my view is it's more historically accurate given the part of the world in which the nativity happened," she said.

Ms Blandthorn said people were free to represent the nativity how they wished. "I've got a Mexican nativity set at home, which has dark-skinned llamas," she said.  "Culturally, people represent the nativity in ways that mean something to them."

Maria, who didn't want her surname published, said she felt using the black baby was "changing what Jesus was".  "I'm not saying he would have been blue-eyed and blonde, but I don't think he would have been that black either," she said.

"It sounds like I'm being racist but I'm not. I'm Italian, I was born here, and I used to get called a dago - I don't like racism.

"All I can say is that he can't have been black because that's then going into Africa."

The Archdiocesan Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennett said Jesus was Jewish, "and we can presume his appearance would have reflected the people of the Middle East".

"However, throughout the centuries, the images of the Holy Family in art, sculpture and windows have reflected the diverse cultures of the world and therefore the depictions of the Holy Family have reflected this reality," Monsignor Bennett said.

"Jesus was born for all people - all nations - in history for history."


20 December, 2015

More Queensland police arrogance

Taken at the Morayfield shopping centre in S.E. Queensland on December 14 at 6:37pm


The picture of the car seems a bit wobbly.  I wonder what that is about?

Crocodile baloney

The Warmists never stop.  Always a new scare.  This time it's crocs that are going to eat you as a result of global warming.  Why?  Because global warming will drive them towards the cooller waters of Southern Australia.  Just one problem:  Crocs are reptiles and they LIKE warmth. The warmer they are, the more active they are.  So where are they generally found?  In TROPICAL Australia -- around Cape York Peninsula and the Top End.  It's the HOTTEST part of Australia that they like.  They vote with their feet to show the best habitat for themselves. No wonder those who know crocodiles well in the wild dismiss the laboratory study reported below

And I have done my usual trick of looking up the underlying academic journal article (Diving in a warming world: the thermal sensitivity and plasticity of diving performance in juvenile estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus)).  When I do that, I often find that the authors have concluded what they wanted to conclude regardless of what their results show.  And so it seems here too.  I note the following sentence in the Abstract: "Maximal dive performances, however, were found to be thermally insensitive across the temperature range of 28-35øC".  Come again?  28-35øC is the temperature range they studied and the central claim of the article is that crocs can't stay underwater for long if the water is hot.  Yet that sentence asserts the exact opposite.  I give up!

The little lady whose Ph.D. research the article was based on -- Essie Rodgers -- would appear to have been very poorly supervised


Saltwater crocodiles may be forced to migrate from the north of Australia to the southern states because of global warming.

A University of Queensland study has found the man eaters may be ill-equipped to adjust to rising water temperatures, prompting them to migrate to cooler environments.

The researchers found the higher water temperatures hindered their diving ability, putting the young crocs at risk from predators.

Professor Craig Franklin of the university's School of Biological Sciences said they have found crocodiles are not hardwired to adapt to water temperatures - unlike other cold blooded animals.

'It's likely that if the water is too hot, crocodiles might move to cooler regions, or will seek refuge in deep, cool water pockets to defend their dive times,' he said.

Lead author for the study, PhD student Essie Rodgers, said the study showed increases in water temperatures severely shortened crocodiles diving times.

'Crocodiles are ectothermic animals - where environmental temperatures strongly influence their body temperatures,' she said.

The lethal temperature for crocodiles is in the high 30s to low 40s, making water a critical refuge for the reptiles to avoid dehydration.

Experts have cast doubt on the study, with Crocodylus Park expert Grahame Webb telling NT News the prehistoric animals are highly resilient.

'They've been through plenty of dramatic changes in temperature and they've gone through that okay,' he said.

'I think its important to be careful with these doomsday predictions.'


How do a third of the top Australian companies pay no tax?

The comments below are a corrective to a minor public uproar  going on at the moment.  The writer is probably a bit optimistic about profit shifting however.  A lot of that does go on internationally.  American companies are particularly prone to it because of the high American company tax rates.  And our company tax rates are similar to the U.S. ones.

But all the huffing and puffing is needless anyway.  A 2% turnover tax (on gross receipts)  would be simple to levy and would ensure that all businesses paid their way.  Any business that was sent bust by such a tax would be very shaky anyway

Almost 600 of the largest companies operating in Australia did not pay income tax in the 2013 to 2014 financial year, ATO figures show.

These are wealthy companies with high annual incomes and it has led to speculation that Australia is missing out on billions of dollars of tax.

How much? According to a 2014 report, about $8.4 billion dollars a year. The corporate tax rate is set at 30 per cent, but almost a third of companies are paying an effective tax rate of about 10 per cent, according to the report.

And this is while there is talk of increasing the GST to 15 per cent to make up for a shortfall in taxation revenue. The GST hike would raise about $27 billion per year.

You may ask, how does a company avoid paying tax?

Here we get to an important distinction; between tax deductions (legal) and tax evasion (illegal). Not paying tax does not necessarily mean tax evasion.

Give us an example

One of the more controversial examples is a company like Apple.

The technology giant has a total income of about $6.1 billion, but only $247 million (about four per cent) of that was taxable income.

It paid $74 million tax - 30 per cent of its taxable income, or one per cent of its total income.

So what is taxable income? It's a company's total income minus expenses. If a company doesn't turn a profit in a financial year, it doesn't pay any tax.

This happens quite often.

In the last decade, each year between one fifth and one third of the top 500 companies have not made a profit. The number of companies not paying tax in 2013-14 was nothing unusual.

For example, Qantas and Ten Network are two of the companies that paid no tax. They also recorded losses of $2.84bn (Qantas) and $80mn (Ten).

If a company does make a profit, it can also make deductions to reduce its taxable income. These deductions are perfectly legal. They include:

    Prior year losses (a company can deduct losses from a previous financial year from its taxable income in the current financial year)

    Research and development (money spent on R&D earns tax credits)

    Franking credits (a company can offset its tax liability against the dividends it pays to shareholders)

This is why it can be misleading to look at taxation as a percentage of total income, rather than taxable income. The more interesting figure is the difference between total income and taxable income.

The figures released by the ATO do not explain why there is a difference - in many cases it's a result of tax deduction, not tax evasion.

The ATO figures simply show there is a difference, and this is nothing new.

To work out if there is anything illegal about the difference, you need to closely audit a company's accounts; a project for another day.

So nothing to see here?

Not really.

Tax deductions may be legal but they may not be good policy. The release of the ATO figures may generate debate about whether there are too many corporate tax deductions.

Aside from this, there are also murkier ways a company can reduce its taxable income. The dark arts of corporation tax evasion include:

    Debt dumping - a company brings debt from one of its overseas subsidiaries into Australia to reduce its taxable income.

    Profit shifting - a company sends profits offshore to avoid tax.

To get back to the example of Apple, in April, senators at an inquiry into corporate tax avoidance accused the company of shifting profits overseas, namely to Ireland.

Apple boss Tony King denied this was the case.

The inquiry came after the Australian Financial Review reported Apple had shifted an estimated $8.9 billion in untaxed profits over the last decade from its Australian operations to a tax haven structure in Ireland.

The ATO figures are no 'smoking gun' of corporate tax avoidance, but they may put the onus back on some companies to explain how they are paying little or no tax.


Australian and Japanese universities now to recognize one-another's degrees

STUDENTS with degrees from Australian universities will have their qualifications recognised by Japan next year.

Universities in Japan and Australia have also agreed to deepen ties in the area of energy, health and medical research.

The two steps were taken Friday on Malcolm Turnbull's first trip to Japan as Prime Minister, where he is promoting his "ideas boom" message.

Mr Turnbull met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a morning in which he took a selfie with the world's most advanced humanoid robot ASIMO during a visit to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo.

Recognition of Australian degrees would not only encourage freer movement between the two countries "but also that of ideas", he said.

A roundtable with leading researchers in innovation and Australian university vice-chancellors was followed by the signing of a new deal with Japan on regenerative medicine.

Regenerative medicine includes treatments around stem cells and gene therapy intended to restore the function of damaged organs and tissues.

The market in Japan for regenerative medicines is projected to grow to more than $17 billion by 2030, according to the Japanese government.

The deal involves a memorandum of understanding with Japan's peak industry body, the Forum for Innovative Regenerative Medicine. Austrade and FIRM will identify ways to help Australian and Japanese researchers and companies collaborate to advance commercial outcomes and therapies.

The Prime Minister also used his bilateral meeting with Mr Abe to raise Australia's concerns about Japan's whaling plans, as well as discuss trade and investment.

"Australia is very disappointed that Japan has resumed whaling in the Southern Ocean this year," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Tokyo.

"We will, as good friends should, be upfront and frank about our differences of opinion, put them on the table and deal with them and seek to resolve them," he said.


Australia plays key part in Ramadi fight

Australian combat aircraft, special forces and training troops have contributed to operations which have killed about 1000 Islamic State insurgents in bitter fighting around the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

Chief of defence force joint operations Vice Admiral David Johnston says IS is under growing pressure on multiple fronts and its ability to move forces and resupply was increasingly constrained.

Much of the fighting now centres on Ramadi, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, which was seized by IS in May.

Some 500 of their fighters are believed to remain.

"An accurate number of how many have died in the fight is almost impossible to obtain," Vice Admiral Johnston told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

"We'd think more than 1000 Daesh (IS) fighters would have died."

Australia's 80 special forces facilitated air strikes for the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service brigade, the lead unit of Iraqi military forces seeking to expel IS forces from Ramadi.

That led to more than 917 air strikes.

The majority of those missions occurred in the vicinity of Ramadi, killing many IS fighters, the destruction of more than 420 defensive fighting positions and 85 IS vehicles destroyed, many of them vehicle-born improvised explosive devices.

The 300 Australians and 100 New Zealanders had now jointly trained more than 3000 Iraqi troops, many engaged in fighting around Ramadi.

"Iraqi commandeers have observed a commensurate improvement in the confidence of their forces who have received this training," Vice Admiral Johnston said.

There had been improvements in targeting, which combined with the Iraqi military shift to offensive operations had boosted the tempo of air strikes, including by Australian aircraft.

Since starting operations in October 2014, RAAF aircraft have flown more than 1000 missions, releasing more than 600 bombs.

That includes 12 missions over Syria during which nine bombs were dropped.

Colonel Matt Galton, who commanded the first training team rotation, said Iraqi troops had it in them to win the fight and that training had had a visible impact.

"It's a matter of time until they do retake Ramadi and hopefully, in the not too distant future, they will start to move further north," he said.


18 December, 2015

Measured or faked climate?

A Finnish professor looks at the hanky panky in a climate record from Australia -- showing how "adjustments" have turned a cooling trend into a warming one.  My rough translation from the Finnish below.  Finnish is a really pesky language

I wrote earlier today  on the Paris climate agreement, and in connection with our neighboring area, changes in climate statistics graphs.

I compared the current GISS statistics in 2011 to previous  statistics. And I was shocked. See below the past equivalent comparisons of Alice Springs climate statistics.

By way of background  I on April 16, 2012 made ??a screenshot of Alice Springs temperatures developments, because it differed significantly from months earlier. Which differed from the earlier again (and which does not exist anymore on the GISS website, even though it was still there in March 2012 when I took the screenshot of the then uploads). In April 2012, the statistics showed a  climate that cooled dramatically.

The Alice Springs temperature history, however, was once again changed dramatically  on 10/22/2014 far as the screenshot shows.

Time changes in the Australian climate statistics do not, however, stop there. From the evidence of the current GISS: Look at the  image today. It tells more than a thousand words.

Pay attention to the last, and its differences to previous years.  And think about why all the latest measurements have been in need of repair? Originally they seemed quite unbiased.

Compare also the magnitude of the changes throughout the period. Most simply, it is by evaluating the images with minimum temperatures. You will see that in the last hundred years, climate change has accelerated remarkably high between October 2014 and to this day.

This is due to the fact that a hundred years ago temperatures have been shown to have cooled considerably compared to the current high.

After all, have we just been fooled? Surely!


The thought police are livid about my cartoon? Now that’s funny

Bill Leak

I don’t know an associate professor of sociology at Macquarie University called Amanda Wise, but she knows me. She knows me so well, in fact, that she’s not only able to tell me what my cartoons mean, but she’s also able to tell me what I was thinking while I was drawing them.

There I was, naively thinking that if I drew a group of poor Indian people trying to eat solar panels contained in parcels sent to them by the UN anyone seeing the cartoon would assume it meant the people in it were hungry. But, no. What I thought I was thinking wasn’t what I was thinking at all. According to Ms Wise, my “unequivocally racist” cartoon drew on “very base stereotypes of third world, underdeveloped people who don’t know what to do with technology”.

These and other startling revelations were included in an article by Amanda Meade in The Guardian on Monday. As well as being sternly reminded by the shocked Ms Wise that my cartoon would be unacceptable in Britain, the US and Canada (heaven forbid!), I was also told my cartoon was “racist” by no less an authority than Yin Paradies of Deakin University, whose research includes the economic effects of racism.

Professor Paradies didn’t think I’d made the people in my cartoon look hungry, either, but rather, in my own twisted, racist way, I’d managed to portray not only them but the entire population of India as “too stupid to handle renewable energy”.

I’ve been reliably informed my cartoon also triggered a hostile response from the sanctimonious but bloodthirsty mob who spend their time trawling the internet looking for anything they find offensive to provide them with an opportunity to join the orgy of competitive compassion and moral grandstanding that is Twitter.

Such people, understandably, are probably on a bit of a high at the moment having just spent a couple of weeks watching heroic and revered climate scientists such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Penn and Robert Redford spouting a series of hypocritical platitudes in Paris that culminated in world leaders signing up to an agreement to meet again in five years so they can sign another one, thereby saving the world from an impending environmental catastrophe. Again.

No wonder they’re angry. First chance I get I spoil the party by reminding them that, back here, in the real world, there are billions of people who not only lack food, health, water and education, but also have no access to electricity, and more than 20 per cent of them live in India.

And there’s something obscene about the fact that there are billions of others who’ve had all those things all their coal-power-driven lives and they’re now distributing solar panels to the world’s poor because they think that provides a virtuous, if inadequate, form of electricity for which they should be grateful. I think that’s racist, I think it’s condescending, and I think it’s immoral. But it’s also the truth, and when an impertinent cartoonist dares to tell the truth these days he’d better watch out because telling the truth is a dangerously subversive thing to do.

It has the same ability to simultaneously shock some people while amusing others that four-letter words used to have when Lenny Bruce discovered he could use them to such devastating effect that his audiences would still be laughing while he was being dragged offstage by the police and arrested for obscenity.

In court, Bruce argued he was being denied his right to freedom of speech, and so he was. But I can’t help thinking he had it easy, living at a time when the only people who had to stand up for their rights to freedom of speech were comedians who wanted to say f. k in public.

And not only that, but the only people he had to worry about offending were undercover coppers in the audience whose job it was to be offended so they could arrest him for doing his job.

These days, the undercover policemen in the audience waiting for him to swear would be the least of his worries. They’d be outnumbered 100 to one by members of the Politically Correct Thought Police Task Force, all armed with iPhones and Twitter accounts, ready to pounce the moment he said something that might not necessarily offend them but could, potentially, offend someone else.

There’s no doubt the cartoon I drew for Monday’s paper offended a lot of people. While they might not have enjoyed looking at it, I’m quite sure they enjoyed using it as an excuse to parade their moral vanity.

And, while I prefer to discover there are people who think my cartoons are funny, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t derive a certain amount of pleasure from discovering they enrage the ones that don’t


The young white male has slipped educationally

 Paul Sheehan

Young white men are losing their traditional advantages in Australia. Their once dominant position is being eroded incrementally, in measurable ways, with each passing year.

The Higher School Certificate results provide an annual snapshot of this relative decline (and it is relative, not absolute). The superior performance of young women compared with young men remains strong.

This year, when I took out all the niche language subjects, apart from the one subject everybody has to sit, English, 37 females topped NSW in a subject, compared with 22 males.

No male domain is safe any longer. Young women topped the state in automotive examination, business services, financial services, primary industries and legal studies.

Traditionally, mathematics, mathematics extension, mathematics general, modern history, ancient history and geography were male bastions, but this no longer applies. All six subjects were topped or co-topped by young women in 2015.

The disproportionate academic success of students of Asian background was repeated in 2015. It has been structural for decades. They dominated the hard sciences again, topping physics, chemistry, information processing and technology, mathematics, mathematics extension 1, mathematics extension 2 and information and digital technology.

Take away nine subjects topped by males of Asian background, and males of European background topped only 13 of the 59 non-language subjects, or 22 per cent. This is a marked underperformance, given that European-background males make up just under 30 per cent of HSC students.

The slippage is relative. Young white males might be as productive as ever, but relative to other groups, they are falling behind.

The majority of students at Australian universities are women. The majority of graduates are women, including the majority of graduates in the professions. The disparity has been widening for years.

Inevitably, the impact of this change is rippling through the workforce. The number of women who are the main income-earners in their households has been a rising trend for years.

There are still disparities in income that favour men – a point of enduring contention – but our society has yet to work out an affordable way to bridge the income gap created by women taking extended leave to have and raise children. This reflects a structural gap more than a discriminatory one.

In terms of reputational slippage, young white men are in relative decline. I was stunned by a recent survey in Britain in which white men in their 20s placed spectacularly last in a rating of reputation.

The survey was conducted by YouGov, a British international market research company. In summarising its survey, YouGov wrote: "Data from 48 separate surveys reveals that young white men are seen as the worst ethnic, gender or age group on five negative traits, and the second-worst on five positive traits.

"The people we regard as the laziest, rudest, most promiscuous, drunken drug-takers are white men in their 20s."

Sheehan goes on to elborate about the poor ratings of young white men in Britain but seems not to realize that political correctness would have had a large effect on the results.  For instance, given their high level of criminality, young black men  would undoubtedly have been very negatively rated but to do so would be on the brink of illegality in Britain today.  A British pastor has just been prosecuted for saying that Muslims serve the Devil


Uber legal in NSW, taxi owners to be compensated

UBER is legal in NSW after Premier Mike Baird’s cabinet agreed on giving the ride-sharing service the green light.

Cabinet today agreed to immediately legalise the UberX service, and finalised a compensation plan for taxi owners who will see the value of their plates drop dramatically.

The Uber Black service — similar to a limo or premium option — is already legal.

Transport minister Andrew Constance said today: “NSW will have a new transport economy.”

More than 50 taxi and hire care regulations have been immediately repealed.

“As of midnight tonight ride-sharing services in NSW will become legal,” Mr Constance said.

About 5800 perpetual plate owners will be given a $20,000 flat fee for the plate ownership, with multiple plate owners able to claim for a maximum of two plates.

A compensation fund budgeted at $250 million will be distributed on a case-by-case basis for plate owners who purchased them recently

The legalisation of the controversial cab service will mean traditional taxis will still have the exclusive right to pick up passengers from ranks and off the street, and will have exclusive access to Sydney Airport.

Uber drivers will now have to pay a licence fee and undergo criminal checks, as well as regularly get their cars checked for safety.

The compensation plan agreed to by the government includes a one-off fixed payment for the ownership of taxi plates, as well as a scaled compensation fund where owners who have held taxi plates for the least amount of time to be eligible for a bigger payout.

Mr Constance said customers had moved with technology. “It’s time for industry and and government to move the same way,” Mr Constance said. He said the changes mean a $30 million reduction in regulatory costs for the industry.

A point-to-point task force recommended the $20,000 payment for perpetual licences, and an industry adjustment of up to $142 million. More than 90 per cent of licensees, who own one or two plates, will receive the $20,000 payment.

Mr Constance said he expects all fares to come down as a result.

NSW is the second jurisdiction to legalise UberX, following the ACT in October.


17 December, 2015

Plankton and global warming:  CSIRO make a mountain out of a pimple

A totally boring finding to the effect that warm-water creatures tend to live in warm water has been hyped into a threat to our fish dinners

I noted yesterday a new report that said plankton were dying out due to global warming.  And plankton are an important part of the marine food chain so the implication was that our fish dinners are threatened!  As someone who likes fish dinners I take that seriously, but I recently noted another threat to my fish dinners that turned out to be "poorly understood" so I was inclined to be suspicious of this threat too.   But I was a bit rushed for time yesterday -- I had to set aside some time for a sociable  dinner of excellent chili con carne -- so I contented myself with noting just a few immediately apparent oddities in the news report yesterday.

But today I have had time to look up the underlying academic document. It is Plankton 2015: State of Australia’s oceans, by Anthony Richardson et al., which describes itself as a "brochure".  It is NOT an academic journal article that has undergone the rigors of peer review etc. And the apparently most relevant piece of research by others that they cite turns out to be an unpublished honours thesis!  Rigor get thee behind me! 

It is basically a bureaucratic document from the CSIRO, a once respectable but now rather controversial publicly-funded Australian scientific research organization.  Warmists have got hold of it so there goes scientific caution and integrity.

And the latest "brochure" is a good example of its intellectual decline and irresponsibility.  The very first statement in their "Summary for Policymakers" is: "Climate change is altering plankton distributions".  That is partly all well and good:  Plankton distributions along the long East coast of Australia do appear to have changed in various ways.  But no evidence that any have died out is presented and there is no note of any significant shrinkage in overall abundance -- so the threat to our fish dinners dies at that point.

But what about the first part of that sentence?  Is "Climate change" behind the plankton change?  We delve further into the report and find that claim most interestingly expanded:

"Water temperature off Maria Island (east coast of Tasmania) has warmed by 1.5°C since 1944, and is a consequence of global warming and its influence on the intensification of the warm, poleward-flowing East Australian Current (EAC). The EAC now makes more incursions into Tasmanian waters than previously. The increase in strength of the EAC is likely to be a response to climate change, and has contributed to ocean warming off Australia ~3–4 times the global average."

Isn't that fun? It's changes in ocean currents that are now the culprit and those changes are now only "likely" to have been effected by global warming!  Not a single piece of evidence or reference is given to support that "likelihood" however.  Let me guess why:  There isn't any.  It's just a statement of Warmist faith.

So they have NO data about effects of global warming.  And in fact it is worse than that.  Their findings are demonstrably NOT an effect of global warming.  They are a result of LOCAL warming.  How do we know that?  Becauae, as they themselves admit, the warming in Australian waters is much greater than the global average.  If it's not global, it's not global, if I need to put it that way.

So what the report amounts to is a report of totally predictable effects of a change in ocean currents.  And ocean currents change all the time and tend to be cyclic anyway.  So the opportunistic  pseudo-scientists of the CSIRO have dressed up a perfectly routine and uninteresting piece of research as if it proved something dramatic:  A threat to our food chain from global warming.  It does nothing of the sort.  It is just self-serving propaganda designed to shore up their research grants -- JR.

Grand Mufti’s links to banned Egyptian sheik stir up tensions

Australia’s Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, has visited and is recorded as publicly supporting a Middle Eastern sheik who urged the world’s Muslims to fight in Syria, approved suicide bombing and has been banned from the US, Britain and France.

They discussed “the role of ­Islamic communities in Australia”, according to Qatari media, which published a photograph of their meeting in the capital, Doha.

Dr Mohammed’s name and his Australian National Imams Council are also listed on a petition calling on Interpol to remove Qaradawi from its wanted list.  He is sought by Egyptian authorities on charges including incitement to murder and aiding a prison escape.

The petition says the charges are politically motivated. The 89-year-old Qaradawi is considered the spiritual head of Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood and is a prominent opponent of the Egyptian government.

He sanctioned suicide attacks on Israeli civilians as “heroic martyrdom operations”, described the Holocaust as “divine punishment” of Jews and has appeared to justify the killing of apostates. He was denounced as a “theologian of terror” in a statement against the use of religion to incite violence signed by 2500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries in 2004.

However, the petition that lists the name of Dr Mohammed and ANIC as supporters describes Qaradawi as a “moderate imam”.

News of the statement was published in Arab media and by Reuters on December 15 last year — the day gunman Man Haron Monis took hostages inside Sydney’s Lindt cafe while claiming ­allegiance to Islamic State.

Another Arabic news website, Al Hiwar (The Discussion), listed the names of those who supported the statement. It listed the names of Dr Mohammed and ANIC in a report dated December 22, 2014. Sahn Thaman, an Islamic ­research and study centre, also ­recorded the names.

Egyptian-born Dr Mohammed is widely seen as a Muslim Brotherhood supporter. Like Qaradawi, he is a graduate of Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning.

Dr Mohammed did not reply to written questions put via his spokeswoman.

Asked for confirmation that the Grand Mufti signed the petition or consented to it, a spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday.

A few weeks after he met Dr Mohammed, in May 2013, Qaradawi called on Sunni Muslims around the world to travel to Syria to fight Shia Muslims and other “infidels” supporting the secular Assad regime.

He told worshippers at the Umar bin al-Khattab mosque in Doha: “Everyone who has the ability, who is trained to fight ... has to go. I call on Muslims to go and support their brothers in Syria.  “We cannot ask our brothers to be killed while we watch.”

The Syrian war soon became a magnet for would-be jihadists from the West.

An estimated 110 Australians were fighting with extremist groups — mostly Islamic State — in Syria and Iraq last month, the Attorney-General, George Brandis, said. At least 41 have been killed.

Rodger Shanahan, of the ­Australian National University’s National Security College, said Dr Mohammed and ANIC — which claims to represent most of Australia’s Sunni clerics — should have condemned Qara­dawi’s influential Syria sermon for “advocating violence in the name of religion.”

“Here was a leading Sunni scholar calling on people to go to Syria to kill people on the basis of their religious faith, and Aus­tralia’s Sunni leadership did not call him out — no press release, no newspaper article, nothing,” ­Associate Professor Shanahan said.

He described ANIC and the Grand Mufti’s support for Qara­dawi as hypocritical given their response to the Paris terror ­attacks.

They cited Western foreign policy, military intervention and “Islamophobia” as “causative factors” of terrorism but failed to also blame religious motivation.

Professor Shanahan said ANIC and Dr Mohammed were “happy to rail against the policies of Australia or the West” but failed to criticise Qaradawi’s “intolerant views on Christians, Jews and Shia Muslims” and his call to arms in Syria.

This showed ANIC’s “complete unwillingness to confront the issue of Islamic violence and those who advocate it,” he said.

Qaradawi reaches a huge global audience via his website and his long-running “Sharia and Life” program on Al-Jazeera Arabic television, with an estimated 60 million viewers including in Australia.

Chairman of Sydney’s Parramatta Mosque Neil El-Kadomi said Qaradawi’s rhetoric might have encouraged young Aus­tralians to go to fight in Syria. “When Qaradawi called for jihad in Syria, how many lives were lost because of his speech?” he asked.

Mr El-Kadomi described Dr Mohammed’s support for Qara­dawi as “a stupid move” that would divide Muslims in Australia. “Qaradawi did a lot of wrong things.  “We should be encouraging peace, not supporting people who tell people to go and fight and kill.”

Mr El-Kadomi argued publicly with Dr Mohammed over his perceived failure to support Mr El-Kadomi when he found himself in the media spotlight following the murder of police employee Curtis Cheng on October 2. He was shot by a 15-year-old boy who prayed at Parramatta Mosque.

Australian National University lecturer Raihan Ismail said Qaradawi was notorious for his rhetoric against non-Sunni ­Muslims. “Some Muslims would naturally be unhappy if the Grand Mufti acted in a way that could be seen as political in nature, especially concerning a divisive figure like Qaradawi,” Dr Ismail said. “However, if you are sympathetic towards the Muslim Brotherhood, you will also be sympathetic towards Qaradawi.”

The deputy chairman of the Islamic High Council of Australia, Sheik Ibrahim El-Shafie, said Dr Mohammed’s support for Qara­dawi risked creating a backlash against Muslims in Western ­societies.

Dr Mohammed was “only speaking for himself and maybe a small group around him. Most Muslims in Australia and around the world would disown such extremist views,” Sheik El-Shafie said.

The Islamic High Council, a Sunni organisation that distances itself from the larger ANIC, has called for intensified efforts to fight terrorism, including banning “extremist views which promote terrorist acts.”


Coal may be down but still has spark as BHP expands Hay Point terminal

BHP Billiton has opened the last of its $US10 billion in developments by cutting the ribbon at the expanded Hay Point coal terminal.

While the $US3 billion project was sanctioned in 2011 at the height of the mining boom, the coal giant is expecting the current slump, which has pushed coking coal prices to the $US70 a tonne range, to get worse.

And it warned that it was prepared to shut mines if they were cash-flow negative “for any period of time”.

But it’s not all bad news. BHP is considering a brown fields expansion of the new Caval Ridge mine, near Moranbah, to improve productivity of its wash plant.

Premier Annasaticia Palaszczuk said the opening of the Hay Point terminal was a sign of confidence in an industry that was the backbone of the Queensland economy.

She said Queensland coal exports reached a record 219 million tonnes in the last financial year.


This wasn’t terrorism, they say. Sure

Clover Moore is a Greenie extremist and an all-purpose nut

Standing in Martin place yesterday, to mark the one year anniversary of the Lindt café siege, Lord Mayor Clover Moore unilaterally declared: “It wasn’t a terrorist event.”   

“I thought it was really important as a city leader to stress that this is a one-off, isolated event by someone who shouldn’t have been out on bail, a very violent background, clearly a mental illness, ”she told the ABC.

The small fact that the Iranian-born self-styled sheik Man Haron Monis Man Monis took 17 people hostage in the name of Islamic State seems to have escaped our city’s senior civic leader.

He asked police to deliver an Islamic State flag to the Lindt café that day but made do with a black Islamic flag of the type used by al-Qaeda.

His message to media outlets through his terrified hostages was that Australia was under attack from ISIS.

In its propaganda magazine Dabiq, ISIS later praised Monis as a “mujahid in the path of Allah”.

“Monis added his name to the list of Muslims who answered the [caliph’s] call to strike those waging war against the Islamic State.”

Sure, it wasn’t terrorism, Clover.

What does it take for people like our Lord Mayor to understand the threat of a totalitarian Islamist ideology which is dedicated to establishing a worldwide Caliphate under Shariah law in preparation for the Final Battle against the kuffar.

Whether it’s ISIS or al-Qaeda or Boko Haram, the ideology is the same, and it’s attracting millions of supporters around the world.

It doesn’t help mainstream Australian Muslims to have deniers like Clover running cover for terrorists, or fanning a false sense of grievance and victimhood in their community.

Sydneysiders don’t need the Lord Mayor to shield us from the truth to be cohesive and decent. The spontaneous crowds who went to Martin Place in the aftermath of the terrorist atrocity to pay their respects to the dead and show strength and unity in the face of terror are a silent rebuke to her insult.

The biggest insult was the “Illridewithyou” hashtag that Clover lauded yesterday, claiming that after the siege, “Muslim women in particular felt fearful travelling on public transport and there was this spontaneous hashtag “I’ll ride with you” and there were thousands and thousands and thousands of tweets. That’s who we are.”

No. The hashtag was the worst leftist fraud, defending theoretical victims of Islamophobia while the real victims were still hostages of a violent Islamist. Did the hash-tivists not realise the hostages were still in mortal danger?

The Greens candidate who began it all with tweet on a train in Brisbane had imagined the incident that sparked the hashtag.

Rachael Jacobs had been reading about the Sydney siege on her phone when she saw a woman in front of her fiddling with her headscarf, a sign she immediately decided was fear of Islamophobia.

“It was obscene moral posturing, endorsed and promoted by Clover, in a direct inversion of the truth”

So she tweeted her compassion for “victims of the siege who were not in the cafe”.

She never spoke to the woman and said later: “She might not even be Muslim or she could have just been warm”.

It was obscene moral posturing, endorsed and promoted by Clover, in a direct inversion of the truth.

“The very real risk that the siege might set off a chain reaction of tit-for-tat attacks on Muslim Australians, fanned by tabloid columnists, was quickly dampened by our multicultural, harmonious society,” she said.

There were never going to be tit for tat attacks on Muslims, just as there weren’t after the two other ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in Australia in the last 15 months.

The Left’s opportunistic incitement of Muslim victimhood is divisive and dangerous.

You can see it in the violent so-called “anti-racism” counter protests anytime Reclaim Australia or any anti-Islamisation group gets together. The violence invariably starts with the socialist and anarchist groups staging the counter-protests.

You saw it on Sunday at Cronulla when mask-wearing abusive counter-protesters outnumbered anti-Islamists barbecuing a pig five to one.

It was the ten year anniversary of the Cronulla riots and the counter-protest that sparked.

There is no excuse for the violence of the thugs and drunken yobbos who attacked innocent Muslim passers-by that day. No one is interested in root causes, no matter how many lifeguards were beaten up beforehand or bikini-clad women harassed.

But in the organised, brutal revenge attacks the next two days, we saw the seeds of the Islamist threat we face today.

Carloads of Muslim thugs from Lakemba and Punchbowl descended on the Sutherland Shire armed with baseball bats and machetes to send a message for Sydney. They broke shop windows, smashed up cars and attacked anyone not cowering behind closed doors. It was a criminal show of strength that never was properly answered.

But history has been rewritten now, so that all we hear about is Islamophobia. Cronulla has become synonymous with Muslim victimhood.

We cannot let Clover and the hashtaggers do the same with the Martin Place siege.


16 December, 2015

Change in Australia's plankton population, as climate changes, threatens human food chain

Amusing that 30 years was chosen below as the start of the period under examination.  Carefully choosing your starting and ending points for a sequence is one of the classic ways of lying with statistics.  Had they chosen to study the last 18 years -- when there has been NO global warming, the results might have been very different.  So it is entirely possible that the effects they have reported originated ENTIRELY in the late 20th century, when there was some slight warming.  Is that the case?  They do not say.  If it is the case, the alarm they are trying to generate is a hoax

Just by the by, there is a bit of a puzzle in the report below.  Plankton are much more plentiful in temperate seas than tropical ones so what is meant by saying that plankton have "moved" into cooler (more Southerly) seas?  Weren't they there already?  Are they saying that tropical plankton are dying out?  That could conceivably be but if so, why not say so?  The idea of plankton "moving" seems very odd

If we leave aside silly talk about "moving", is their basic finding that plankton are becoming more abundant in cooler seas?  If so, that CONTRADICTS global warming -- as warmer seas should have LESS plankton.  What a mess of a report!

Australia's plankton population, a vital key in the human food chain, has moved 300 kilometres south in 30 years, new research has found.

Scientists attributed the shift to the warming oceans caused by climate change.

In some regions there was also a shift from cold-water to warm-water plankton species.

The Plankton 2015 report from the CSIRO is based on data from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), which looks at why plankton is important to ocean health.

The report's lead author, Dr Anthony Richardson, said how much plankton there is, and where it is, determines how many fish, marine mammals and turtles are in the sea.

"The key findings are that plankton, which are really important to people, are changing and changing really in response to climate change," he said.

"Plankton are responsible for about half the oxygen we breathe, and are critical to the marine food web. "They can impact human life."

The report compiles information from plankton studies and data sets from across Australia giving a snapshot of the climate, the state of global fisheries and marine ecosystem health and biodiversity.


Former MP Craig Thomson ordered to pay $458,000 for breaching Fair Work Act

This scum was corruptly kept free from prosecution for the entire time of the Rudd/Gillard government -- because they depended on his vote in parliament

Former federal MP Craig Thomson has been ordered to pay $458,000 for breaching the Fair Work Act.

The judgment was handed down in the Federal Court this morning and relates to Thomson's improper use of union funds between 2003 and 2009.

Justice Christopher Jessup ordered Thomson, who was not in court, to pay the Health Services Union $231,234 compensation plus $146,937 in interest.

In addition, Thomson will also be required to pay a $80,000 fine to Fair Work.

Thomson spent tens of thousands of dollars on payments of hotels and the use of credit card for personal functions. He also spent the money on travel for him and his wife.

The money was also spent for his campaign to get elected as the federal member for Dobell, the court heard.

Justice Jessup said Thomson had improperly used the money and his position to gain personal advantage, to the detriment of the union.

Previously, the court has heard that Thomson had no capacity to pay any fines.

The Health Services Union said it was pleased with the judgement.

Fair Work Commission general manager Bernadette O'Neill said the decision sent a message about improper use of funds.

"I am particularly pleased that this decision recognises the impact of Mr Thomson's actions on the union's membership by the awarding of compensation to the HSU," she said in a statement.

"Today's decision sends a clear message to all officers of registered organisations that a failure to meet their obligations under the Fair Work Registered Organisations Act 2009 is a serious issue and will be treated accordingly."

Thomson was the National Secretary of the HSU from August 2002 to December 2007.

In December last year Thomson escaped a jail term after being found guilty of 13 charges of theft against the HSU but was fined $25,000.

He was acquitted of 51 charges, which were the majority of offences against him.


Australia-UK bond ‘under threat’ from Britain’s ‘discriminatory’ visa and migration policies: DFAT report

BRITAIN’S love affair with Australian workers is officially over with the “unique” bond between the two countries undermined by “discriminatory” immigration policies that next year will see thousands of workers forced to leave the UK.

That’s the damning conclusion of a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report into a new tranche of UK visa rules set to come into effect next year that the Australian Government has already warned would cause “structural damage” to formal relations between the two countries.

A summary of the report, obtained by News Corp Australia, pointed to widespread disenchantment among Australian directed or related businesses operating in the UK.

More than half of 100 businesses surveyed, staffed with between 10 and 10,000 staff, said visa rule changes would directly impact planned investment in the UK while two-thirds of respondents said it would “significantly impact their ability and willingness to recruit Australians”.

“The UK’s visa changes are making this country a less welcoming destination for Australians,” the Australian High Commission signed report states.

“This potentially harms the UK’s image and reputation in Australia, and might even in the long term undermine the unique Australia-UK bond.”

As previously reported, in 2011 the British Government closed certain skilled worker visas and capped other at just 20,000 positions for all nations from outside the European Union.

The move came after the EU’s open borders saw a dramatic rise of skilled or semi-skilled workers flood the UK, particularly from eastern European nations.

Next year UK worker restrictions are to be further tightened and extended to intra-company transfers, spouses right to work and see levies implemented.

There has been a 50 per cent drop in Australian migration between 1999 and 2011, to just 26,000 people with another 14 per cent drop in the past four years.

The Australian Government has formally protested the move in a rare strongly worded diplomatic missive from High Commissioner Alexander Downer to Whitehall and Westminster’s Migration Advisory Committee.

Mr Downer ordered a survey of business in the UK to be down to make his case.

The Australian racing industry in the UK responded claiming it was suffering “dramatic staff shortages” that could not be filled locally while another firm said employees were shifting their work to New York where visas were easier to obtain.

Unlike for other nationalities, if a UK firm hires an Australian, that person has to return to Australia to obtain a visa or to switch visas.

“The UK’s refusal to allow in-country switching deters employers and discriminates against Australians,” the survey concluded.

Ironically, the report’s findings concluded last week came as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales warned economic growth would slow as business investment stalled and costs in the construction sector expected to rise due predominantly to a skills shortage and an increase in pay growth beyond other major sectors.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who studied in Melbourne in his youth, said he would be taking the case up with Prime Minister David Cameron for Australia’s unique position in UK history to be recognised.

“The Mayor has long argued for a fair but firm visa system that attracts talented people from across the world to come to London to live and work,” a spokesman said.

“He believes that Commonwealth citizens should be given more freedom to contribute to London’s economy, culture and communities, particularly given the strong cultural connections between our countries. As a start, the Mayor has proposed an agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom that allows greater movement of skilled people between both countries in order to address skills shortages. This could be extended further to other Commonwealth countries, if successful.”


Education Ministers agree on reforms to improve the quality of teacher preparation

John Hattie is a smart guy and this all seems pretty sound -- in theory at least.  What is overlooked is the low quality  (semi-chaos)  of many of the schools and the resultant difficulty of attracting capable people to teach in them

Reforms agreed today at the Education Council will put in place rigorous quality assurance measures to ensure that teacher education programs are approved based on evidence about how well they prepare graduate teachers.

Professor John Hattie, AITSL Chair, said, “The reforms will help to ensure that graduate teachers are ‘classroom ready’ so they can have maximum impact on student learning. This is vital, since teacher expertise and quality teaching are the most important in-school influences on student learning.”

Early in 2015, the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) found that there is some excellent practice in initial teacher education in Australia, but the quality varies significantly between institutions. Accordingly, Ministers have resolved that all graduate teachers must be properly prepared to teach like the best.

Throughout 2015, AITSL worked constructively with teacher education providers, teacher regulatory authorities and key education stakeholders to address the concerns raised by TEMAG. The reformed system of accreditation of initial teacher education programs will be based on evidence, data, evaluation and improvement and will place a premium on demonstrating effective practice.

Key points:

    The selection of entrants to teacher education programs will be more rigorous and transparent, with all institutions considering candidates’ academic ability, as well as the non-academic characteristics that make them suitable for teaching.

    All initial teacher education students will have to pass a rigorous assessment that covers the breadth of teaching responsibilities to ensure that they are classroom ready by the time they graduate.

    A literacy and numeracy test for initial teacher education students will be implemented, to ensure that graduate teachers have appropriate personal literacy and numeracy skills.

    There will be a greater focus on building partnerships and communication between initial teacher education providers and schools for improved professional experience.

    All primary teaching students will complete a subject specialisation, ensuring that they have high level skills and knowledge in a particular subject area, as well as being prepared to teach across the primary curriculum.

Professor Hattie, continued, “Ultimately, the aim is to build a high-impact profession that people aspire to join. A profession that is as highly esteemed in Australia as it is in the leading countries of the world - and all in the great cause of advancing student learning.”

Press release

15 December, 2015

A male feminist is in deep trouble

Jack Kilbride is a student at the University of Melbourne. Like me, he seems to think that Fairfax columnist Clementine Ford is a bit of a ratbag. So he wrote a politically savvy article (see below) that called for feminists to reach out to others rather than alienate them.  But reaching out is the last thing feminists want to do.  Stewing in their own hate is their thing.  So poor Jack has attracted a flood of condemnation for his thoughts.  His article was published in the Far-Left "New Matilda" and was passed for publication by Chris Graham -- another uncomprehending male.  So Chris has been in deep do-do too. His "Mea culpa" is here.  Is there such a thing as a moderate feminist?  I guess so but they would be unwise to say what they think in Leftist circles

I am a man and I am a feminist. I wholeheartedly condemn the actions of the men who have threatened and abused feminist writer Clementine Ford. I also commend the decision of one particular boss who opted to terminate the contract of Mathew Nolan after his embarrassing and disgusting remarks. However, while Clementine Ford is a great advocate of the feminist movement in this country, her strategy may be doing more harm than good.

We obviously need people like Clementine, breaking down walls on the front line in the push for equality. Illuminating the dark, misogynistic corners of our society so that women can walk the streets without the fear of assault and abuse.

These people are important, but slapping one man on the wrist so publicly has inevitably isolated thousands more.

Scores of men are posting across social media, infuriated by the whole situation. In their eyes, crazy Clementine is just a whiney girl with daddy issues that despises all men. While their hatred may arguably prove that Ford’s writing is doing its job, it has also highlighted the continued divide between sexists and feminists in Australian society.

A gap we need to close.

The problem with writers like Clementine Ford is although their sentiment is justified, their vitriolic writing style means that people will always get offended. Unfortunately, those getting offended are usually the ones who need to read it the most.

If we are to give our young girls a more safe and equal society to grow up in, we need everyone on our side. The people who are abusing Clementine are the problem and reinforcing the battle lines between feminist and bigot is not going to help them change. And, if they don’t change, then nothing will.

Think of it this way. There are men, like myself, who are feminists and believers that true equality for women is paramount to our future.

We are not the people that need convincing. We are not the people assaulting our women in the streets, scoffing at calls for equal pay, or abusing writers on the Internet. We are already on your side.

Then there are the other men.

The men catcalling you on your way to the shops. The men groping and assaulting you in the nightclubs. The boss telling you they didn’t give you a promotion because they didn’t think you could handle it. The men who make you scared to walk home at night for fear of being raped. The men telling you that maybe you should dress more appropriately to avoid the unwanted stares and slurs. The men abusing Clementine across social media.

The mission of feminism is to make these men change and starting fights with them is only making that mission harder. We need a way to bring them in and luckily we may already have one.

On the 20th of September last year, beloved actress Emma Watson stood in front of the United Nations and produced one of the strongest and most well received feminist speeches in decades.

“Men think it’s a women’s word and it’s only for women, but really it just means you stand for equality,” Watson said in launching the HeforShe movement. “If you stand for equality, you are a feminist.”

“I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”

Watson’s words were plastered throughout the media, presenting feminism as a way to improve society as a whole, not just the lives of women. It was a positive push for change; a fresh approach to the shouting and shaming that feminism has sadly become associated with.

If we want to actually change our world we need to stop trying to knock down the wall and instead, start helping people climb over.

Watson showed us a better path; it would be nice if we started to walk it.



Paris Climate Deal: Turnbull government stares down dissenters

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has defended the non-binding nature of the Paris climate agreement, as the Turnbull government stares down climate change dissenters within its own ranks.

Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, an outspoken climate change sceptic, warned the agreement was “essentially meaningless” and Australia should avoid “metaphorically burning our economy just to appear good on the global stage”.

“Basically countries set their own targets and there’s no enforcement strategy. It provides flexibility to do anything essentially,” he told ABC Radio.

“The entire globe needs to have similar commitments and be similarly achieving those goals.”

Another Liberal MP, Craig Kelly, mocked the agreement on Facebook: “Hallelujah. The world is saved ... The polar bears can sleep soundly tonight.”

Mr Hunt regretted there would be “no sanctions or penalties if a country falls short of its target”.

“Our preference would have been for that. That’s probably the only real and significant element that we would have wanted, but we all knew that that wasn’t possible for the United States, it wasn’t on China’s agenda,” he told Macquarie Radio.

“Others haven’t always honoured their agreements in the past, that is true. But the difference this time is everybody’s in the cart, everybody’s made their commitment; if countries fall short of that or indeed they renege on it I think there would be enormous internal and external pressure and criticism.”

Mr Hunt said Australia was on-track to meet its 2030 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent, relative to 2005 levels.

Andrew Leigh, the opposition assistant treasury spokesman, applauded the deal’s aim of keeping the global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

“It leaves Australia out of the pack from the rest. We know Australia’s targets are now well in excess of what other countries have. We’re failing to demonstrate the level of ambition that Britain, the United States, Canada now ... are showing,” he told Sky News.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the government trusted Mr Hunt to ensure Australia met its targets. He said South Australian premier Jay Weatherill deserved “full credit” for his “brave” decision to launch an inquiry into nuclear fuel cycle.

“Ultimately nuclear power will be something that is determined by … whether the community will accept it and … the economics of it,” Senator Fifield told Sky News.

Dr Leigh said Labor was opposed to establishing a domestic nuclear power industry.


Insane mothers

Fanatical defenders of their eccentric and dangerous beliefs

Parents are deliberately exposing their children to the potentially deadly chickenpox disease in a bizarrely popular anti-vaccination trend.

Hollie Singleton, a young mother-of-two from Norman Park in Brisbane's inner-east, invited other parents to bring their children around to play with hers when they had the illness, according to The Courier Mail.

'My son has a full case of chickenpox. We are all home together for the week,' she wrote on Facebook.

'If anyone wants to clear this bug now and get it over with please come to Brisbane and visit us. We are here to infect only those who want it!'

Child heath expert Dr Sam Hay told Channel Nine's Today Show reports of the parties were extremely concerning.

'This is an absolute disgrace, this is terrible,' Dr Hay said.  'What you are doing is exposing those children to potential complications, you're exposing them to - when they're adults - shingles and chronic pain down the track.

'Don't send your kids (to these parties).You wouldn't put your kids in a car and not put a seat belt on them.

'Why are these parents exposing their kids to this much risk.'

Ms Singleton told The Courier Mail a number of parents had expressed interest in attending the 'pox party', because they didn't believe in the inoculation.

'I just don't believe in a chickenpox vaccine, it seems really silly to put that in children when natural immunity comes from getting it and it's a safer smarter thing to do,' she said, according to the newspaper.

Children have been given vaccinations for chickenpox since 2005 under the immunisation scheme, and more than 90 per cent of babies aged under 18 months take part in the program.

The disease gives people infected with it an itchy, red rash and can be deadly. Most cases of the illness occur before the age of 12.


Handwritten notes for terror attack fail to foil hi-tech police

A group of alleged Muslim extremists used handwritten notes to plot a Sydney terrorist attack on a government building in a primitive bid to beat police and ASIO surveillance.

The Australian can reveal that an apparent plot to attack a government building — believed to be the AFP’s Sydney headquarters — was hatched via handwritten notes scrawled by the alleged plotters at the Sydney home of one of the accused extremists, 20-year-old Sulyaman Khalid, aka Abu Bakr.

Mr Khalid, who appeared on an SBS documentary on radical Islam, was arrested last December, allegedly in possession of the notes.

Three months earlier, NSW and AFP counter-terrorism officers raided 15 homes across Sydney and Brisbane in what was the largest anti-terrorism operation conducted in Australia. The raids, dubbed Operation Appleby, thwarted what police have alleged was a plot directed by former Sydney man and Islamic State kingpin Mohamed Ali Baryalei to abduct and murder a random member of the public.

Only two men were charged at the time, but police believe those targeted remained committed to conducting a terrorist attack and it is from this information that police raided houses in southwest Sydney yesterday.

After the September raids, the group, including Mr Khalid, were kept under constant electronic and physical surveillance. Their phones were bugged, their homes and cars fitted with listening devices and surveillance teams tracked their every move.

The men knew it. They would occasionally approach members of the surveillance teams or lash out at members of the public they believed were following them.

Police will allege they remained intent on committing a terrorist act and began communicating with notes during meetings, believed to have occurred at Mr Khalid’s home.

The notes are far from detailed and it is believed the plot was in its early stages. There are references to Jihad and its timing.

AFP deputy commissioner Mike Phelan said yesterday the planning documents were “evolving”.

“There’s one mention of AFP building but they get the address wrong,” Mr Phelan said.

In December the notes were seized and Mr Khalid charged. It took investigators a year to establish who contributed to the documents.

Yesterday in a series of raids across Sydney, five men were charged. They included 20-year-old Ibrahim Ghazzawy from Raby and a 15-year-old from Georges Hall who was reportedly a student at Bass Hill High. The boy, who cannot be named, was 14 at the time of the alleged offences and appeared in Parramatta Children’s Court last night.

The court heard the boy, who was a known Islamic radical, had become socially isolated after repeated raids by security agencies on his family’s home, with one of his friends said to have told him an ASIO agent had offered free gym membership if he agreed to inform on him.

Prosecutor Senior Sergeant Bruce Wells told the court that it was “common ground” that the alleged conspirators with whom the boy had been in contact used the word “banana” as a codeword for guns.

In a text message to one of the alleged ring, Sergeant Wells said the boy had written: “I am going to get to paradise through banana ... Allahu Ahkbar!”

Defence barrister Charles Waterstreet told the court that following earlier run-ins with authorities the boy had agreed not to contact his older network of associates, undertake psychol­og­­­ical counselling, and engage in a program to “purge himself of ideologies”, measures which were producing favourable results.

Magistrate Elizabeth Ryan said she would deliver her decision on bail this morning.

NSW Deputy Commissioner Cath Burn said police and the NSW Education Department had been working together to manage the boy and the potential threat he posed. “A lot of the people we are dealing with ... are clearly radicalised to the point of talking about and acting out with violence,” Ms Burn said.

“How they’ve become radicalised we don’t actually know. We don’t know how the 15-year-old has got to the point where we will allege he got.”

Three other men, already in jail on firearms and terror-related offences, were due to be charged yesterday. They were 22-year-old Jibril Almaouie, Maywand Osman and Mr Khalid.

Police stressed that yesterday’s operation was not in relation to an imminent threat.

Ms Burn said the Appleby group was connected with Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old schoolboy who shot dead NSW Police worker Curtis Cheng in a terror attack at Parramatta police station. “It’s disturbing that we’re continuing to see teenage children in this environment and there’s absolutely no doubt we’re charging a 15-year-old with a very, very serious offence — this is an offence that has a maximum of life imprisonment,” she said.

“I am not aware of a direct connection between the two 15-year-olds; however, the people who were involved with the murder of Curtis Cheng are associates of these people.”

A Facebook account that appears to have been set up by the 15-year-old boy features the flag of the Islamic State. It also lists Mr Ghazzawy and a relative of another man, who was charged by counter-terrorism authorities yesterday, as friends.

But the account appears to have been untouched, with no new images uploaded in more than a year.

Despite the monitoring by security agencies, Mr Ghazzawy has continued to update social media accounts he created several years ago, which show his complaints about school and love of rugby league are gradually replaced by religious quotes and posts about Syria and Islamic State.

Several Australians who have joined Islamic State in the Middle East, including former western Sydney man Ahmed Merhi, are listed among his Facebook friends, as is at least one other person arrested yesterday.

Mr Ghazzawy had lived in the Punchbowl area, helping out at his uncle’s takeaway food shop after school and encouraging teammates to attend junior rugby league training. He had listed his school as Belmore Boys High. After school, he began working at an auto parts shop originally owned by a family member.

His family are believed to have moved to Raby in September last year, but it is unclear whether he joined them at the time or moved there more recently.

Yesterday’s operation brings to nine the number of people charged in Sydney with Operation Appleby.


14 December, 2015

More pandering to Muslims

A member of a far-right anti-Islam group has filmed himself walking into a bank wearing a motorbike helmet, furry dog suit, and a burqa as part of what he claims is a social experiment to 'test bank security protocols.'

In the footage, Perth man Dennis Huts sets about disproving what he believes is a 'politically correct allowance'. He thinks burqas should not be worn inside Australian banks for the safety of customers.

The video was uploaded to the United Patriots Front Facebook page with the caption: 'This shows how our society cowers before Islam in fear of offending it.'

'This is the clear and present danger and people need to wake up.'

Mr Huts begins his 'social experiment' by putting on a motorbike helmet and stepping into a Westpac branch, but is immediately told by security he must leave the premises.

'I got two feet into the bank and they told me to get out and take off the helmet - and I can't come back into the bank with the helmet on,' Mr Huts said.

'It seems that you're not allowed to go into a bank with your identity concealed, probably because it gives you a better chance of robbing the bank and getting away with it,' he added.

Next up he puts on an oversized furry dog suit - much to the amusement of a child resting in his arms - and attempts to enter the bank for a second time.

Once again, he is quickly asked to leave by the security - who he captures using a hidden camera inside the dog suit.

His final outfit is a traditional Islamic burqa, covering his body from head to toe except for a small slither of skin to show his eyes.

He receives a number of strange looks from customers inside the bank, but is not told to leave the bank - despite wandering around aimlessly with the pretense of depositing cash.

Clearly disappointed by the lack of attention his final outfit received, Mr Huts approached two staff members to question why he had not been asked to leave.

'I came in the bank today three times with my identity hidden,' he told the gentle security guard.

'Do you think we make allowances on the grounds of cultural sensitivity?' he probed.

'Do you think the risk is the same? In that burqa I could have had a gun under that thing or anything,' he said.

The video has received mixed messages on the United Fronts Facebook page, which has been known to post controversial material to incite reactions from its near-30,000 followers.

The group is unapologetic in its message of denouncing Islam and says it will fight if necessary.


Federal Government lifts Tony Abbott's wind farm investment ban

More money wasted on intellectual fashion

The Federal Government has lifted a ban on wind farm investment first introduced by former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt issued new advice to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), requesting a focus on "offshore wind technologies".

Under the new mandate, signed by Mr Hunt and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann on December 3, the $10 billion fund will be allowed to invest in wind projects, as long as they incorporate "emerging and innovative" methods.

"The Government has also directed the Corporation to include, as part of its investment activities in clean energy technologies, a focus on offshore wind technologies," the directive issued to the CEFC said.

"This recognises that, in many circumstances, the financing requirements for mature and established clean energy technologies such as onshore wind technologies may be met from commercial financing sources."

In July, former treasurer Joe Hockey ordered the CEFC to stop funding wind power projects, as well as small-scale solar projects, a move condemned by the industry, as well as environmental groups and the federal opposition.

Five months later, the CEFC quietly announced $67 million in financing for Australia's third largest wind farm at Ararat in Western Victoria.

It follows consultations with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has promised more certainty for the renewable energy sector.

Acting Greens leader Larissa Waters said it was a small but welcome step. "Tony Abbott was prepared to take the axe to renewable energy and was going to restrict investment," she said.  "We know wind is going to be part of the solution and we've got some fantastic wind deposits here in Australia."

Victoria's Environment Minister Lisa Neville said the decision to overturn the ban was good news for local jobs and dealing with climate change.  "It's been a very rocky 18 months for the industry and investment which has caused a lot of losses of jobs across Australia so this is a positive step forward," she said.

South Australia's Environment Minister Ian Hunter also welcomed the move.  "There are a number of wind farms in the pipeline. We're aiming for $10 billion worth of investment, we've already had $6.4 billion, and I know that there'll be a number announced in the new term," he said.

The general manager of wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince, Steve Garner, said it was the start of a new era for renewable energy under the Turnbull Government.  "People need to realise, the CEFC is a real strong arm of renewable energy and projects through out the nation and there is an absolute need to maintain the CFEC's position in the industry because it really does help any new wind farm to get up there going," he said.

"With the RET out there at the moment being a target that needs to be met by 2020, I see the CEFC as an important group that need to survive to ensure that target is actually met."

He said it was another level of certainty for the wind energy industry.  "We've had a lot of ups and downs but we've got two more federal elections before 2020 and I'd have a lot of confidence to say that target will increase dramatically," he said.


Muslim leaders call for WA mosques to fly Australian flag on Australia Day

My local Sudanese mosque does fly the Australian flag, which may mean something

Muslim leaders have called for mosques to fly the Australian flag on Australia Day.

The move is being supported by large sections of the Muslim community in Perth, including the Imam and worshippers at the Mirrabooka Mosque.

Spokesman for the Mirrabooka Mosque, Ismael Fredericks, said the mosque will be flying the Australian flag and having an open day with a barbecue on Australia Day.

"We are saying that we are as Australian as anyone else and we hope that lots of non-Muslims come along and join us as we celebrate Australia Day," he said.

The call for Muslims to 'fly-the-flag' came from Murdoch University academic Dr Ameer Ali, the former president of the Federation of Islamic Councils.

Writing in The West Australian he said the move would be a small but vital step towards national integration.

"By hoisting the national flag in the mosque compound at least on the national day the Muslim community is reinforcing its unassailable position that it is a community of and not in Australia," he said.

"The national flag and the national anthem are national icons of this country. Muslims should respect them and that goes a long way towards demonstrating their readiness to integrate with mainstream Australians."

Mr Fredericks agreed.  "I came to Australia from South Africa 40 years ago and as soon as I got here I knew I wanted to stay so I became an Australian citizen and I've been a dinky-di Aussie since then. This is a very good country full of very good people," he said.


10 years of slow progress with teaching literacy

Jennifer Buckingham

CIS held a roundtable this week to mark the tenth anniversary of the National Inquiry into Teaching Literacy. The inquiry was prompted by an open letter to then federal education minister Brendan Nelson from 26 academics who were deeply concerned about persistent low literacy of Australian students. Published in The Australian, the letter stated that in many schools, teachers were not using the most effective, evidence-based instruction methods and literacy programs. It warned literacy rates would not improve until this changed.

The report from the inquiry supported the letter's claims. However, 10 years later, progress has been slow and literacy rates reflect this. At the CIS roundtable, Emeritus Professor Max Coltheart -- one of the signatories to the 2004 letter -- described the timeline of action and inaction over the past 10 years: a somewhat depressing illustration of the challenge of getting research evidence into classroom practice. Dr Jenny Donovan talked about the work of the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE); an important initiative of the NSW Department of Education and Training that is attempting to bridge the research-to-practice gap.

For substantial change to occur, multiple players will need to be involved. High-level policy documents now more often reflect the evidence on teaching reading, but principals and teachers carry the responsibility for classroom implementation -- and this has been patchy. Western Australian media this week reported on a study of nine schools that had achieved exceptional performance in NAPLAN. It found that all nine had in common the explicit and systematic teaching of phonics (also known as 'synthetic phonics') in the early years of primary school.

The study author, Emeritus Professor Bill Louden -- who was deputy chair of the NITL committee in 2005 -- said "All of the schools were using synthetic phonics and 10 years ago that wouldn't have been the case...from my point of view, there is no excuse not to begin with synthetic phonics with small children, otherwise you're just waiting for them to fail."

Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope after all. Early next year, the CIS will launch its project to ensure effective reading instruction is provided for all children. Stay tuned.


Charging for yoga is wrong??

POPULAR activewear brand Lorna Jane has come under fire from an international Hindu organisation over its latest project, a “wellness lounge” in Sydney airport offering yoga and pilates classes.

The Lorna Jane Active Living Room is located in the T2 domestic terminal and features an exercise room overlooking the runway, a Lorna Jane clothing store and a health food cafe.

There are eleven other Active Living Rooms around the country with similar facilities and most are located in large shopping hubs. Members of the Lorna Jane rewards club can access these facilities for free.

At the Sydney airport facility, travellers who are non-members have to pay $12 to join a 45-minute yoga or pilates class.

But the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, self-described “Hindu statesman” Rajan Zed, has urged Sydney airport to provide a free yoga space for all passengers.

The Nevada-based Hindu leader sent a press release to Australian media outlets on Thursday criticising the airport, which is run by a private company but sits on public land.

“Airports should provide yoga space for the passengers, staff and visitors without any charge if airport managements are serious [about] reducing their stress levels and becoming a world-class airport,” Mr Zed told

“Yoga is a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilised by all and charging a fee for it at a public facility like Sydney Airport does not seem right ... These yoga spaces should be open to people of all faiths.”


13 December, 2015

Islam is the problem

By South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi

Five years ago I was excoriated by colleagues and the media for daring to utter the following sentiments through my blog and a radio interview.

“The fanciful idea that allowing communities of people to isolate themselves from their fellow citizens somehow builds a better nation is rapidly coming to an end. Across the world there have been new waves of migrants who have decided that their greatest allegiance is to the religious and political ideology of Islam rather than their adopted land.”

“Islam itself is the problem. It’s not Muslims. Muslims are individuals that practice their faith in their own way but Islam is a totalitarian, political and religious ideology…It has not moved on since it was founded and there are these extremists that want to see fundamentalist Islamic rule implemented in this country. They are continually trying to change our laws. They’re seeking special accommodations to indulge in it and unfortunately this Government is allowing them and encouraging them, in many instances, to get away with it.”

The response was visceral.

An anonymous ‘senior Liberal MP’ told the media my comments were ‘a disgraceful and low way of reigniting the race debate’ (they obviously couldn't work out that Islam is not a race).

Amanda Vanstone and Julia Gillard said I should be sacked, whilst some of my South Australian colleagues were privately lobbying the Liberal Party to have me expelled.

Chris Bowen said my comments ‘…do a great disservice to this nation’, whilst Ed Husic said I ‘continue to cloud common sense and decency’ and called for Tony Abbott to ‘kill off the extremism within his ranks.’

It is worth noting Ed Husic didn't call for killing the extremism that threatens our way of life; only for the curtailing of honest discussion that actually dared to identify the problem.

My own team wasn't much better, anonymously feeding a press pack calling for my scalp. It was a media pile on led by Phillip Coorey, Andrew Probyn, Chris Kenny, Lenore Taylor among many others.

Five years later I stand by my comments and am prepared to call out my critics as being wrong. In fact, because of their actions I think they actually owe the Australian people an apology.

If we had been able to have a sensible discussion about the authoritarian nature of Islam and its undeniable link as an inspiration and justification for the barbaric actions of terrorist acts then things might be different today.

Unfortunately, the suppression of that important conversation under baseless accusations of Islamophobia, racism and dog whistling has done the entire Australian community a disservice. The media solicitation and sanitisation of the extremist history of people like Keysar Trad and other so-called Muslim community leaders has been an abrogation of accurate news reporting.

Despite the denials, since then, many voices within the Ummah have called for reform of Islam and many Islamic commentators have confirmed that one cannot disassociate the religious links from Islamic terror attacks.

A former radical with Hizb ut-Tahrir, Maajid Nawaz, said: “It's incorrect for we, as Muslims and generally those on the left of centre in this debate, to insist that Islamists and jihadists have nothing to do with Islam. That's actually an exercise in dishonesty. Of course they have something to do with Islam.”

Yet our political leaders still daren’t mention Islam and terrorism in the same sentence for fear of causing offence.

Some perpetuate the falsehood about the ‘religion of peace’ – either through ignorance or by wilfully ignoring the bloody history of Islam. Too many are in denial about the political and legal ideology inextricably entwined with the religious elements, so much so that there is no separation of church and state within Islamic doctrine.

And shamefully, too many of our political leaders have distanced themselves from the obvious problems in overseas Western nations and blithely stated that ‘they won’t happen here’ – even when they were already evident.

Unlike others, many years ago I chose to fully inform myself by travelling to Western Europe with open eyes to see what was going on. I saw politicians in denial there too, ignoring the concerns of their citizens and the resultant rise of nationalist movements and political parties.

I visited ‘enclaves’ where the rule of sovereign law had been effectively replaced with Sharia or Islamic law. I saw demonstrations involving thousands of people calling for the beheading of those who insult Islam. I met with experts and politicians who documented to me the impact on their nations. For my efforts I was condemned by media and colleagues alike.

Now there seems to be a growing awakening to the issues arising from the denial and intellectual cocoon that too many have sought to comfort themselves with.

Columnists like Henry Ergas and Janet Albrechtsen are joining Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Paul Sheehan and Piers Akerman in daring to speak up. A few more politicians are finally finding their voice.

Unfortunately there are far too few.

If we are to beat the scourge of Islamic radicals seeking to impose the global caliphate and all the barbarism it entails on Western societies then we need to be able to speak frankly about the underlying problem. That problem is Islam itself.

We are very fortunate that most Muslims are law-abiding and respectful people who practice their faith in a personal and private way. They have no time for the political elements of Islam and only seek to be a positive part of our communities.

However, that doesn't negate the need for reform.

The purported words of Allah and the example set by Muhammad in the 7th century need to be adapted and contemporised for the modern world, as mentioned by Maajid Nawaz: “we have to find some way to carve out a genuine respect for secularism and liberalism and tolerance and a respect for free speech above all within the Muslim world." Religious worship needs to be maintained as a private affair with a complete disconnect from the primitive penal code of 632 AD.

Such changes can only be driven from within the Muslim community.

Denying the root cause of the problem won’t cut it. Nor will throwing increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money at deradicalisation programs. In fact, stemming the flow of funds to some Islamic causes is more likely to achieve results.

The State-sponsored spread of hard-line Wahhabism needs to be curtailed in Australia and groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir need to have their financial supports removed. The halal certification rort needs to be stopped and a thorough examination of the actions of some international Islamic charities needs to begin.

Reform needs to start in the mosque and in the interpretation of Islamic doctrine. Radicalism needs to be denounced at every turn by Islamic leaders and their followers. They should be joined by every citizen concerned for the future of our country who should be free to voice their opinion without the pejorative slurs that have characterised any discussion thus far.

Former Muslim, Ayaan Hirsi Ali said as much. Today she wrote: “European leaders will have to address the infrastructure of indoctrination: mosques, Muslim schools, websites...that serve as conveyer belts to violence. European governments must do their own proselytising in Muslim communities, promoting the superiority of liberal ideas. This means directly challenging the Islamic theology used by the Islamist predators to turn the heads and hearts of Muslims...”

If we are serious about addressing the challenge that faces every one of us, it is up to all of us to start singing from the same song sheet.

Via email

Colossal government waste in Victoria

PREMIER Daniel Andrews’ decision to dump the East West Link leaving nothing to show for $1.1 billion has Victorians fuming.

Hundreds of readers have vented their frustrations in the wake of a damning independent audit of the doomed road.

Readers described the financial waste as “criminal”, and suggested the Premier should have owned up to the real costs after being elected, and then complete the road despite losing face.

$1.1 billion would pay for 1 new major hospital on the scale of the Royal Children’s; or 4 Monash Children’s hospitals (at $260m each); 41 secondary schools at $27 million each; 92 primary schools ($12 million each); 61 X’Trapolis suburban trains ($18 million per train); 2 new suburban railway lines; or 80 police stations (at $14.5 million each).

One reader, John, summed it for many when he simply wrote: “It takes a strong person to lead but a stronger person to admit when you have made a mistake.”

Another reader, Stuart, wrote: “How gullible do they think we are? Let me see if I’ve got this right.... They cancel the contracts to build a road from East to West at a cost of over a billion dollars. Then they announce plans to build a road from West to East but give it a different name so stupid people will think it is something different. A road by any other name is still a road! Daniel Andrews is a very slick liar in my opinion.”

David B wrote: “Just big kids playing political games with our money. For a start, no big projects should be approved by any government so close to an election, and Andrews should have broken the promise that it wouldn’t be built because 1.1 billion just down the drain is a disgrace. The Liberals must have thought it funny to throw a hand grenade in the door as they were departing.”

Nat wrote: “Votes driven decision making at it’s worst! I have no doubt this road will be built in the future and at a much higher cost. It’s almost criminal!”

David said: “Both sides of politics should hang their heads in shame. If Daniel Andrews had come clean after being elected and explained the real financial position, then the voters would have accepted that the EW link had to proceed. To continue down this path of financial destruction shows the true level of the Labor party’s ability to manage a budget - it’s non-existent. It keeps happening time after time.”

Jenny wrote: “Voters wanted the EastWest Link scrapped so the majority voted for labor.. Victorians only have themselves to blame. They got the party they deserve and the rest of us have to put up with it until the next election.”

Melissa said: “Scary to think this is who’s running our state???? And they were the alternative????? Doesn’t give much hope for the future.”

In the report, the Acting Auditor-General, Dr Peter Frost, says the 6.6km road was terminated “without full consideration of the merits of continuing with the project”.

And a $424 million settlement handed to the tollway consortium was made without even establishing how taxpayer money had been spent.

Despite the findings, Treasurer Tim Pallas this morning said Labor would have still won the last election if it had been upfront about the $1.1 billion.

Mr Pallas told 3AW the public would have still voted for Labor because it didn’t want to see the road built.

“We went into the election believing the legal advice which was ultimately determined to have credibility,” he said. “I believe yes, Victorians took the view that this road had no merit whatsoever.”

He also disputed the $1.1 billion figure, claiming the net value would be less.

Mr Pallas insisted the Andrews’ Government could still be trusted, despite dodging several questions about whether it would take responsibility for the blunder.

“This government does what it says. We promised Victorians we would not proceed with this project,” he said.

Before the state election, Mr Andrews, as Opposition leader, promised to dump the project, saying the contracts were “not worth the paper they’re written on”.

But Dr Frost found that the advice to the Coalition and Labor was that they did have the power to enter into the contracts. He found that planning the project cost more than $500 million, while terminating it cost a further $645 million.

This will be partially offset if properties acquired for the project are sold back for “around $320 million”.

Premier Andrews did not front the media once the report was tabled in Parliament yesterday. But earlier, he insisted: “The costs incurred on this project are all on the Liberal Party’s head.”

Opposition spokesman ­Michael O’Brien, who was in charge of securing the contract, ­returned fire. “This money has been wasted by Daniel Andrews and Tim Pallas because they lied to Victorians about the East West Link contract.  “They lied about no ­compensation being payable,” Mr O’Brien said.


Turnbull Encourages Business Fraud with bankruptcy "reforms"

As part of Turnbull’s $1.1 billion ‘everyone put your thinking hats on’ plan, the bankruptcy period will be reduced from three years to one year.

The bankruptcy system is already a government created fantasy which allows people to recklessly stink at business (or swindle other people’s money), hide the loot, take a bankruptcy breather for three years while the ‘official’ assets are handed out at cents in the dollar – and then get straight back on the horse again like nothing ever happened (or simply retire to Mallorca, take your pick).

Essentially, bankruptcy is a government wealth redistribution scheme which transfers wealth from workers and creditors to the bankrupt. That is, from the people who actually did something of value to the person that did bugger all.  The moment a trustee in bankruptcy is involved, the right to sue the bankrupt is essentially lost and replaced by a share in the left over piddlings.

The whole point of the system is supposedly to encourage people to take some risk in business (and drive ‘innovation’), knowing that they’ll get a government created clean slate in three years one year if it all goes wrong. In reality, any such scheme which takes money from the productive and hands it to the unproductive can only ever be described as welfare – and there are plenty more deserving people in need of welfare than those who have been crappy with money.

If there aren’t enough natural consequences for poor behaviour then you will get poor results. This is what happens when there is a complete lack of accountability. And all this is before you tackle the extent to which it’s fair to artificially deny a worker or creditor the full fruits of their labour. Should the slate ever be wiped clean? Or should an extended time to pay the lot (even if it takes a lifetime) be the only indulgence granted?

It’s one thing to have a three year bankruptcy period (already very generous). But by reducing the period to one year, Turnbull has now guaranteed that there will be many more innocent and needless victims. I wouldn’t be surprised if it also breeds distrust and slows down business dealings as people look to better secure themselves – the exact opposite effect of what Turnbull intended.


Dropped ALP candidate slams 'racist' party

Just another Muslim nut

A Muslim federal Labor candidate in Victoria dumped because of his strident social media posts on politics, religion and war says racist elements within the ALP are behind his downfall.

Imran Syed has been disendorsed as the ALP candidate for the northern Victorian seat of Murray after labelling world leaders clowns, blaming soldiers for heroin addictions and attacking the West for its involvement in Syria.

Dr Syed was dumped on Thursday night after numerous warnings about his social media activity, but remains an ALP member for now.

Posts on Dr Syed's personal Facebook page question the West's intervention in Syria.

Other posts describe former prime minister Tony Abbott as ignorant, and call British PM David Cameron and former PM Tony Blair clowns.

In one post Dr Syed calls Mr Blair a "Mentally Retarded Clown high on Pure Afghan Poppy which they are stealing and exporting to the world".

Labor state secretary Kosmos Samaras said Dr Syed's behaviour had "progressively worsened" over the past few months.

"He was cautioned over political views on social media numerous times," Mr Samaras told AAP on Friday.  "We had no choice but to act."

Dr Syed said he only learned he was dumped when phoned by a journalist on Friday.

"The Labor Party is such a great institution and I joined because of (its) equality for all, freedom of speech and democracy and social justice values, but there are certain elements within the Labor Party who are racist and who don't want this to happen," he told AAP.

"If you speak the truth, you have to bear the consequences."

In response, Mr Samaras told AAP: "You only have to look at the state legislative council to know that this party is not racist.  "We've always embraced Islamic faith."

Dr Syed, an Indian-born medical doctor, is a respected Muslim community leader, an Islamic chaplain for Victoria Police and AFL regional ambassador who moved from Melbourne to Shepparton in 2008.


A racist Scotsman

Australians do tend to be heavy drinkers and often seem to hit the grog particulary heavily whilst overseas so the guy was right to be cautious but he should have interviewed the woman first

AN AUSTRALIAN woman was shocked when told she couldn’t rent a flat in Edinburgh because people from Down Under were “drunks and racists”. Laura Gratton, 24, had recently moved to Scotland and applied to an ad for a $800-a-month room in the city centre.

But she was horrified when the landlord instantly rejected her request, branding Australia the most “racist nation” in the world.  The message read: “It is well known in Europe that Australians are racist. In fact around the world your people are famous for this. “Just as France is famous for wine and cheese. Australia is famous for its drunks and racists. I’m sorry I need to reject this request.”

The Melbourne backpacker protested, pointing out that the landlord’s statement was actually racist.  She wrote: “You obviously are quite racist putting such labels and speculations on a whole race without knowing the individual.

“The majority of my closest friends are from across the globe so would hate to think I’m racist. “So thank you for rejecting this email, I don’t think we would get along at all. And I suggest you actually visit Australia and realise how multicultural we are.”

The landlord sent her a link to a news item about racism in Australia. He wrote: “Hi, I’m not judging a whole race. I don’t want to take the risk. “It is fact Australia is the most racist nation, your people are so open about it as well.

“This is what you Australians are known for in Europe. I think we would still get along by the way. “Anyway, good luck.”

Miss Gratton said afterwards: “When I first received the response I thought it was just a joke but then I realised that he was being serious.

“’I was angry and frustrated that someone could think like this and say it to me just because of where I was from. “Australia is a multicultural and very accepting country.

“There are race issues like any other country — but the actions of a few shouldn’t be used to judge anyone from that country. “This was my first encounter of such strong negative and offensive stereotyping on my travels.

“I have heard the odd joke about drinking to do with Australians or Irish people but it has only ever been jokes among friends, never anything intended to hurt like this.”

A spokesman for, who advertised the room, said: “If we’d spotted anything like this in someone’s ad we’d have removed it instantly. “Dismissing a whole nation as racist is, frankly, ridiculous. “There are clear laws about discrimination when it comes to renting rooms but it’s not just about what is and isn’t legal — it’s about treating people as you’d want them to treat you.”


11 December, 2015

Some typical feminist lack of perspective below

The woman below -- "Em" Rusciano -- is crying into her beer because she and other feminists cop online abuse.  So what else is new?  She should try being a conservative blogger and see what abuse she gets from her friends on the Left.  It's a two-way street Madame.

There she is!  Complete with feminist haircut.  I wonder why she is "Em"?  Short for "Emilia"?

Abuse is so common on the net that the writer below clearly has a glass jaw.  She just can't take the heat.  She is a fragile little female petal.  Is she missing the courteous way men used to treat women?  Seems like it. Does she want men not to swear in front of women the way they once did?  She needs to look in the mirror if she wants to see who has destroyed that old-fashioned courtesy.  Everybody wants to have their cake and eat it but even feminists are not going to achieve that.  They asked for equality but the writer below is testimony that they can't handle it.

But she is typical of feminists in her total lack of perspective. Feminists see only the difficulties that life throws at women.  They seem completely oblivious of the fact that men have burdens too.  Men are just braver at coping with their burdens so you rarely get any sexist whining from them. You want to know who has the bigger stresses?  Look at life expectancy.  Men die about 5 years sooner than women.

So my advice to the lady is old-fashioned to the point of cliche: "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen"

THE INTERNET is an amazing invention that has united humanity, but it has also taken humanity and given us the worst version of ourselves.

This week writer Clementine Ford reported a man to his employer for an abusive comment he wrote on her public Facebook page. After investigating the matter his employer chose to dismiss him, and at first she received overwhelming support from members of the public. Sadly, it wasn’t too long until the ever reliable troll train arrived and she was fielding death and rape threats at a frightening rate.

Hundreds of irate men smashed out angry comments, (engage sarcasm font) incensed that she’d taken away another man’s livelihood. And right before Christmas!

Stop being so sensitive sweetheart!

Grow a pair!

You can’t even get a man!


(You guys pick a metaphor would you, she can’t be both unlovable and a tart OK?)

Cyberspace has truly become the final frontier for hardcore misogyny hasn’t it?

The men who are truly opposed to feminism have been smoked out and driven to the dark corners of the universe, to be united transformers-style when a female dare stick her head up and say: “No, I’m not going to endure your bulls*** behaviour. I’m going to hold you accountable for it”.

It’s also clear to me that this is a very small minority of men, I’d go so far as to say only a few lousy per cent. None of the awesome males in my life would partake in this kind of behaviour.

When you think about it this small group of infuriated dudes have nowhere left to turn, I mean imagine if Mark shouted the thing he wrote on Clem’s Facebook page on a street corner.
Hahahahahahahaha? WHAT THE HELL MARK?

Hahahahahahahaha? WHAT THE HELL MARK?Source:Facebook
Dear Cody, I’m confused, what version of World War II were you told and my follow up question is: are you calling Hitler a sl**?

Dear Cody, I’m confused, what version of World War II were you told and my follow up question is: are you calling Hitler a sl**?Source:Facebook

Aaaaaaaaaaand that’s enough of that.

After I had finished forensically examining these men’s Facebook pages trying to gather some clue as to why they were so full of hate and rage, I released that there was a common theme among all of the comments.

I noticed their resistance to change, their worry that somehow women will rise up against them and smear the streets with our menstrual blood.

That we’re starting a secret cult that wishes to castrate them and take away their jobs, rights and lives.

We’re totally not! I just want my daughters to be paid the same as men, to not receive death and rape threats for having strong opinions and to be free from the constraints of archaic gender stereotypes.

That’s reasonable, right?

I could sit here and say that when I am attacked viciously by these people online I don’t care, that it doesn’t effect me, but that would be completely untrue.

It stings. I feel raw, vulnerable and exposed. It makes me not want to put myself out there, it makes me want to hide and protect myself and my family.

It still manages to take my breath away, the ferocity at which these men come at me, the fact that they can’t just disagree with me in a civilised manner. Is this how they handle differing opinions in their own lives? Shouting obscenities at anyone who irks them?

I’m all for robust discussions and differing opinions but having: “Die you short haired feminist c***” written under an article or column I’ve written doesn’t encourage debate, it just makes me feel sick. Let’s be honest, I’m a comedian so I’m not exactly hitting the hard issues on the regular, but I still manage to rile them by having a strong opinion on anything at all.

I don’t need to get a thicker skin or toughen up, they need to stop being aggressive a***holes.

We’re not opposed to being opposed, we just want the death and rape threats to stop.

That seems reasonable, right?

I’m here today to inform you that thousands of women are copping this kind of ferocious vitriol online from men on a daily basis.

When I sat down to write this column I was worried about putting myself in the firing line, then I realised that’s what they want and what good am I to any of you or my girls if I let that fear censor me?

I’m done with pretending this doesn’t happen.

I’m adding my voice to the growing roar of females who voice their opinions online that this behaviour is not OK.

That if you write something offensive, malicious or abusive you will be called out. That if you’re stupid enough to put your name, photo and employment details anywhere near it to expect consequences.

What I want to say to these men is that I see your aggression and I now see past it, to your fear.

You have been reduced to scared, marginalised, children having a cyber tantrum and we’re not going to put up with your s*** anymore.



A triumph for the anti-vaxxers -- a chickenpox epidemic

I hope the "caring" mothers concerned are satisfied to see their little children so ill.  They must be congratulating themselves on their wisdom. Chickenpox can haunt you for the rest of your life -- giving you shingles in your later years, which is a painful rash that can have severe complications -- so decisions about it need real thought, rather than kneejerk paranoia

CHICKENPOX has swept through a Melbourne primary school where a quarter of the children have contracted the virus in the past fortnight.

Brunswick North West Primary School, with a role of about 320, has seen about 80 students off school this week, due to chickenpox, Herald Sun reports.

The school declined to comment but Education Department spokesman Alex Munro said the department was working with the school and the Department of Health and Human Services to manage the outbreak.

In May the school’s newsletter noted that 73.2 per cent of students were immunised, compared with 92 per cent within the local postcode.

In Victoria the rate is 90.4 per cent, the newsletter from Principal Trevor Bowen states.

“In many aspects of our school life, we accommodate a range of opinions and beliefs from the parent community, and we champion the rights of parents and carers to be involved and leading contributors in their child’s life at school,” he told the Herald Sun.

“There is a variety of beliefs concerning immunising children. Some people believe it is their right to choose not to vaccinate their child, and that the vaccination program is detrimental to the health of their child.

“Others believe that immunisation is one of the best ways to protect their children and safeguard the health of others and future generations.

“After consultation with Department of Health officials, I have been advised to include the following statement in the BNWPS newsletter:

“Due to immunisation levels at our school, caution should be exercised to limit exposure for the following individuals: Recently born babies and infants, the elderly, anyone with an illness or condition which results in the diminution of the body’s immune system, children who are part or unimmunised.”

In Victoria, chickenpox is a notifiable disease and Victorian parents must provide an immunisation status certificate to their school regardless of whether their child is or is not immunised.
Brunswick North West Primary School.

But students are not excluded from school on the basis that they are not immunised.


Australia concerned over draft climate deal

Australia has 'serious concerns' over the latest form of a global climate agreement, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warning of a challenging few days ahead in Paris.

A new draft agreement was revealed on Wednesday at the United Nations climate change conference, with no clear landing point on key hurdles of finance, ambition and differentiation.

Ms Bishop warned the document was a long way from attracting her signature.

Australia's environment ambassador Peter Woolcott - speaking on behalf a negotiating block of developed countries - told the conference the group had serious concerns about the text. 'We are deeply disappointed at the weakening of several provisions,' he said on Wednesday night.

'As we move forward we must avoid a situation where, in an effort to reach consensus, we strip the Paris outcome of its ability to be a genuine step change.'

It comes as the United States joined around 100 countries in a new alliance dubbed the high ambition coalition which vows to strengthen Wednesday's draft.

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum said the coalition comprised countries big and small, rich and poor and would not be trading off any demands. 'We will not accept a minimalist or barebones agreement,' he told media on Wednesday night.

The coalition is calling for five yearly reviews of country emissions pledges, adequate climate finance for poor countries and a clear pathway to a low-carbon future. It also wants recognition of an ambition to limit global warming to 1.5C - below the 2C target accepted by most developed countries.

Australia isn't in the coalition and Ms Bishop couldn't confirm if it had been invited. 'I'll have to check on that, we've got so many invitations to so many events and so many groupings,' she told reporters in Paris.

She remains optimistic 196 parties will walk away with a strong agreement at the end of the talks but warns it won't be an easy road. 'Clearly, this is the beginning of the end of the negotiations and there's still a lot of work to be done,' she said. 'Our negotiators are working through the night.'

There's still disagreement on who should do what, with an option still in the draft agreement to hold only rich countries to account on action.  Australia opposes that option, calling for each country to do its part to curb global emissions. 'All countries need to take action and there should be a level playing field,' Ms Bishop said.

Earlier, the foreign minister flagged Australia's intention to sign onto a New Zealand-led initiative to boost transparency and integrity of international carbon markets.

Australia doesn't use international units, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has flagged it as an option when domestic climate policies are reviewed in 2017.


'Other priorities': Tony Abbott criticises Australia's allies for response to Islamic State

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has spoken out against the international response to Islamic State and called for the "right intervention" to defeat the terrorist group.

In a speech to the Institute for International Strategic Studies Asia in Singapore on Wednesday night, Mr Abbott criticised the strategy taken by other countries, saying while governments including the United States and France said they want to destroy Islamic State, "nearly all have other priorities".

Mr Abbott's comments follow an opinion piece published by News Corp on Wednesday in which he called for a "religious revolution" within Islam, and similar comments during an interview on Sky News on Tuesday night.

Mr Abbott's interventions in the terror debate threaten to escalate tensions within the Coalition given his tone is considerably different to that of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who holds a more moderate view on Islam and the power of Islamic State.

In his Singapore address, Mr Abbott conceded military interventions in Iraq and Libya had "ended badly".  "But not intervening in Syria has so far had the most disastrous results of all," he said.

"A quarter of a million dead; seven million internally displaced; and four million in camps beyond the borders thinking of coming to Europe; while Islamic State posts, online, for the world to see, ever more barbaric ways to kill people.

"Adding Russians-versus-Americans or Christians-versus-Muslims to Shiite-versus-Sunni and Sunni-versus-Sunni would be a new nightmare.

"What's needed is the right intervention because – left to fester – this metastasising threat to the world's peace and prosperity can only get worse."

Mr Abbott said Islamic State had a deadly "submit or die" message that he described as "medieval fantasy, but rational enough to many Muslims based on their scriptures".

He said the terrorist group was the biggest threat to the world's peace and stability.

He publicly criticised the response by the United States, France, Russia, Turkey and other countries to the Syrian crisis.

"Islamic State aims to overthrow every government; and while all governments say they want to destroy it, nearly all have other priorities," Mr Abbott said.

"The Saudis and the Gulf states are more fearful of Iran than of Islamic State. The Turks are more concerned about the Kurds. The Iranians and the Russians are more interested in propping up Assad.

"The Americans want to destroy Islamic State but not if it means indirectly helping Assad or US combat casualties. The French want to wage 'pitiless war' but not to commit ground troops.

"While every government has hard-to-meet preconditions for more effective action, Islamic State holds its key centres, inspires copycat movements in the ungoverned spaces of Libya, Nigeria, Yemen and Afghanistan and urges its supporters everywhere to kill any infidel they can."

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday declined to criticise Mr Abbott directly but struck a very different tone when asked to respond to the former prime minister's comments.

"I'm not sure what the response is other than to say that he's entitled to his opinion," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

"I'm not about to run a commentary on Mr Abbott but I'd simply make the observation again that the one thing we need to be very careful not to do – and I'm sure Tony agrees with this by the way – is to play into the hands of our enemies and seek to tag all Muslims with the crimes of a few. "This is very important."


Jeep owner Teg Sethi turns down $61,000 refund to raise awareness for consumer protection

This is not the first new Jeep to be found grossly faulty

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles [FCA] has offered a Jeep driver more than $60,000 to settle a long-running dispute over claims his car is faulty.

While the company said it did not agree with all of Teg Sethi’s claims about his 2013 Grand Cherokee, it had offered to buy back the vehicle for $61,000 so it could put an end to the disagreement.

But Mr Sethi, who has used the dispute to raise awareness of shortcomings in existing consumer protection laws, said he turned down the offer because the firm asked him to agree to stop “disparaging” the brand as part of the deal.

He said, while he needed the money, he felt he had an obligation to use the incident to help other car owners.

“Every bone in my body wants to take that money,” he said. “It would help my family so much. But I can’t do it.”

An FCA spokeswoman yesterday said it was “not an unreasonable request” given it was trying to finally resolve the disagreement.

Mr Sethi said he would continue to use the case to call for stronger consumer protection laws, adding he was encouraged by a new ­report by Queensland parliament’s legal affairs and community safety committee pushing for beefed-up protections to be built into the Australian Consumer Law.

Committee chairman Labor’s Mark Furner said he hoped the report would lead to new laws in line with other countries around the world: “We hope this can be the trigger for a national lemon law. We need to be brought into the 21st century.”

A recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigation into FCA has seen lawyer and former Ford ­in-house counsel Peter George appointed to arbitrate two years’ worth of unresolved complaints.

In his first comments on his progress, Mr George yesterday said “it might be that the process can be sped up”.

That will be welcome news to some owners, who say they have been led to ­expect their disputes will not be mediated until 2017.

Under the deal FCA cut with the ACCC, it is meant to have improved its ongoing handling of complaints.

Fiat customer Jacqueline Rose says that isn’t the case. Ms Rose, of Bellevue Hill in Sydney’s east, owns a 2013 Fiat 500 which has spent the past five-and-a-half months under repair, in which time two replacement gearboxes have been installed, along with other major parts, all to no avail.

“It seems plain that, despite their new stated commitment to the ACCC to improve service, my experience is quite the opposite, if not worse,” Ms Rose said.

FCA said it was “continuing to work” with Ms Rose to resolve concerns.


10 December, 2015

"Proof" that white people are racist

It is a stunt, not a scientific experiment. Those who set the prank up did so with lots of non-racial differences between the men - differences which subtly say something to others.

Notice the black man has a backpack on, which the video makers tried to hide while leaving straps visible so they can deny they tried to hide it. The black man has work boots that look steel capped, a workman's bright contrasting shirt. The white man is dressed in soft shoes, casual homelike clothes. Also notice the  differences in body type, posture and body language which say a lot.

And most significantly, positioning:  The white man is positioned more in the open so people can see walk all around him easily. The black is more to the side, his back against a structure so people will walk past. The whole thing is a set up

2016 may be right around the corner, but this social experiment shows racism is evidently still alive and well in Australia.

Brooke Roberts, an Adelaide-based entertainer who runs the brand PrankNation, secretly filmed two men standing blindfolded in public with a sign reading: “I trust you. Do you trust me?” They were placed in the same location during busy periods, and left in the hands of the busy passersby flocking around them.

The only difference? One man was white and the other was black.

“Today I went out to see the comparison between my light-skinned friend and my dark-skinned friend,” said Roberts in the video. “The sign didn’t say ‘hug me’, the sign didn’t say ‘take action’. Let’s see what reactions we can get.”

The results were not good. Over the course of three and a half hours, the light-skinned man is shown being approached by a total of twelve people over three hours. He gets 10 hugs, one handshake, and just one negative reaction for standing in the middle of the walkway.

But when his dark-skinned friend stands in the exact same position, blindfolded with the exact same sign?


Nothing more than a few points and stares over the course of six hours - double the time of the first. And not a single hug.

Roberts said he was inspired to create the video after reading about a racist incident last month, in which a Melbourne Apple store removed a group of African teenagers.

“I saw a video posted about the dark-skinned school kids that got kicked out of the Apple store in Melbourne,” Roberts told

“I felt like this was very unprofessional and I wanted to test Adelaide and see how their racism compared.”

He admitted he had positive expectations for the outcome of this experiment, and described the public’s response as “unexpected”.

“I am hoping that not only the city of Adelaide can see how they did in the experiment, but also other places around the world.

“I want people to become aware of how they act and decrease the amount of racism.”


Good news on jobs -- if the statistics are right

To give a small bit of the reality behind the numbers:  Within a one mile circle around where I live there are about half a dozen big new apartment blocks going up.  Australia has switched from mining to building

Libby Babet could be a poster child for the country’s bumpy economic transformation at the end of a long mining boom.

Most weekdays at sunrise, the 33-year old personal trainer can be found leading classes on Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Ms. Babet now employs 20 instructors from none five years ago, and her Bottoms Up! Fitness increasingly vies for space on the sand with yoga classes and boxing boot camps.

Few disagree that Australia’s labor market has been looking healthier of late. How healthy is a matter of pointed debate among economists.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which will release new labor data on Thursday, said last month that the jobless rate dropped to 5.9% in October, from 6.2% in September. It also said job creation in arts and recreation services—encompassing museum guards to personal trainers like Ms. Babet—has outpaced layoffs in the much more important mining sector amid a global commodities decline in recent months.

But many economists no longer trust the official labor data. These people say the bureau’s labor market survey has been producing bizarre numbers for months, making it harder to predict everything from consumer spending at Christmas to a possible housing-market crash.

Such credibility concerns aren’t unique to Australia. Doubts frequently overshadow China’s statistics. Canada faced criticism last year for publishing flawed jobs numbers, and U.S. agencies have also recalled labor data before.

However, Australia’s efforts to wean itself from a reliance on mining makes its economy more vulnerable than it has been for many years, making the jobs report especially important.

Skepticism flared last month when the statistics bureau said Australia—despite growth slowing sharply in the third quarter—added 58,600 new jobs in October. It was the largest single monthly increase since 2012 and suggested that, on a population-adjusted basis, Australia created nearly four times as much employment as the U.S. has on average each month this year, even as Australia’s economy has been slowing.

“The jobs data don’t make sense, they’re simply too good to be true,” said Damien Boey, a Sydney-based economist at Credit Suisse.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect the bureau’s Thursday snapshot of November’s jobs market to show unemployment edged up to 6%.

For many economists, there is a feeling of deja-vu. Last year, a shift in the way the bureau collected labor data sparked improbably large swings in the results. That prompted the bureau to make major revisions, while an external review subsequently recommended junking the computer system used to crunch the numbers.

“We are confident that the numbers are now robust,” said David Kalisch, Canberra-based head of the statistics bureau.

To be sure, Australia is creating jobs outside mining. The Australian dollar’s steep fall against its U.S. counterpart is offering help to Australian schools competing with U.S. colleges for students and tourist operators offering vacations on the Great Barrier Reef, among other industries. Construction is also booming, driven in part by investment from states such as New South Wales, which is investing in new highways and hospitals.

Ms. Babet is among those hiring, as she expands her business from beach classes to gyms. “I’m hoping to open a girls-only studio next year,” she said.

However, some economists say the data is suspect. Mr. Boey cites the pace of job creation in professional, scientific and technical services—ranging from architects to IT workers—as an example. He said the bureau’s data showed the sector’s output shrank by an annualized 2.8% in the year through September. Yet, he said the bureau indicated that employment there soared by an improbable 11%.

Tim Toohey, Goldman Sachs ’ Melbourne-based chief economist, said it is also hard to believe that more artists found work in Australia than miners lost their jobs in recent months. Even more baffling to some economists are data suggesting the mining industry, facing huge pressure to cut costs, created thousands of jobs between May and August.

In response, the ABS said economists should look beyond seasonally adjusted data and focus on trend figures instead, which smooth out statistical distortions. “We’re getting the data as reliable as we can,” said Mr. Kalisch. “Nonetheless, there is going to be some volatility.”

Kieran Davies, chief economist at Barclays in Sydney, said he thought too many economists are getting stuck in the weeds of the data. He found the broader category of household services—including nurses, fitness trainers and teachers—to be driving Australia’s employment growth. These typically lower-wage jobs are skewing official data because they add little to output, he said.

Others have found their own way of tracking labor trends. Adam Boyton, chief economist at Deutsche Bank in Sydney, created an employment tracking tool, calibrating data sets from job ads to business confidence. He found Australia’s economy added between 20,000 and 23,000 jobs on average over the past quarter—broadly mirroring the government’s 26,000 trend estimate.

“Did the economy really create nearly 60,000 jobs in October? Probably not. But the trend is about right and it’s a pretty positive trend,” he said.


Australia very naughty about nukes

Which I am pleased to hear.  Go nukes!

Civil society groups have condemned the Australian federal government’s recent completion of contested uranium supply deals with both the United Arab Emirates and India.

The deal is in direct conflict with a finding in September by a government-controlled Parliamentary review that “Australian uranium not be sold to India” until unresolved safety, security, legal and nuclear weapons issues were addressed.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) recommended that no uranium sales take place at this time or under the current terms of the Australia-India Nuclear Co-operation Agreement.

It further argued that uranium must not be sold to India until key checks and balances including evidence of improved safety, monitoring and regulatory standards, the establishment of an independent Indian nuclear regulator and full separation of the military and civil dimensions of India’s nuclear sector were put in place.

Despite this clear call for caution only two months later in late November the federal government issued a response that “the Government does not accept the Committee’s recommendation that exports of uranium to India should be deferred” and further announced that all formalities had been completed so that ‘uranium exports can begin immediately’.

The development, which was only briefly covered in the mainstream Australian media, drew anger from environment, faith, public health and peace groups who described the fast-tracking of uranium sales as a derelict and dangerous move that puts nuclear interests ahead of the national interest.

In the shadow of the Australian uranium-fuelled Fukushima nuclear disaster the countries under-performing but politically favoured uranium sector is under increased scrutiny and pressure with production rates, employment and share value all declining.

With both the industry and federal government now seeking to fast track new sales Australia increasingly risks being globally regarded as an irresponsible supplier of one of the riskiest substances on the planet, providing the source material for nuclear power, weapons and waste without proper scrutiny and against the recommendations of its own review processes.

Critics of the new sales deal have highlighted that India is actively expanding its nuclear arsenal and weapons capabilities through missile tests, increased uranium enrichment capacity and work around multiple weapons launch platforms, including advancing improved submarine launch capabilities.

The newly approved uranium sales treaty places no practical, political or perception barrier to any of these activities. Instead it effectively gives a green light to India's nuclear weapons ambitions.


Organisers of an anti-Islam rally planned to celebrate 10th anniversary of Cronulla riots vow to go ahead

Far right-wing political activists have rejected demands to cancel an anti-islam rally organised to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Cronulla riots.

Vowing to go ahead on December 12, The Party for Freedom is continuing to call on supporters as the police and local council plan further legal steps in hopes of preventing the event at Don Lucas Reserve in Cronulla, in Sydney's south.

But 'regardless of the opposition from the political establishment' the group is now selling memorabilia whilst the Party for Freedom leader Nicholas Folkes posts videos coaxing Australians to attend.

The event has been knocked back three times by police despite the agreement to drop a symbolic mock funeral which would have represented the 'death of multiculturalism,' reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

The funeral which was planned with all the trimmings included an MDF coffin, pallbearers and a hearse.

Recognising a merchandising opportunity the group is also selling a range of objects from t-shirts reading Sydney is fun Cronulla is a riot and mementos with slogans such as 'uncouth savages' and 'ungrateful undesirables.'

Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce told Daily Mail Australia he would not tolerate racism and violence which he believed would be the outcome of the rally going ahead.  'That's not what the Shire is all about... It's just and excuse to come here and use the Shire as a backdrop to push their political views across.

Mr Folkes, on behalf of the right wing group, was served a notice to attend court on Friday by officers on Thursday night.

The summons was filed under the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) with respect to conduct in public and other places, according to a post on Mr Folkes website.

Mr Folkes appeared briefly in court and a further date of December 10 was set for him to reappear.

Sutherland Shire Council also served Folkes with papers on Thursday asking his group to refrain from the rally and is planning to go to the Human Rights Commission on Monday

Cr Pesce said Folkes responded to the council on Friday afternoon.

'In a nice way [Folkes said] get lost, we're coming down.'

Mr Folkes also hit out against the council in a post on his website saying it was the 'council's sorry attempt at trying to portray Islam as a race or ethnicity is flawed'.

'Sutherland Shire Council demands that Party for Freedom agrees not to hold a public assembly at Don Lucas Reserve, Cronulla,' he wrote.

'The Council also demands that any online and social media material regarding the Cronulla memorial be removed within 48 hours.

'In summary, the Council has basically said the years of intimidation and harassment perpetrated by Muslim gangs did not happen. 

'Over the past five weeks, Party for Freedom have engaged with NSW Police and Sutherland Council and amended our plans to seek agreement and closure but still both parties refuse to accommodate our democratic right to hold a free assembly'.

Cr Pesce said he had no issue with freedom of speech.  'What I'm concerned about is is it really freedom of speech or is it hate speech?  'I believe, in my personal opinion, it is hate speech.'

The group claimed they would fight both injunctions in order to hold the memorial.

Cr Pesce said if the injunctions failed he was confident police would contain the situation.

The 'memorial rally' at Cronulla Beach in southern Sydney is ten years after a spate of violence erupted between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians.

The riots were the result of boiling community tensions, which were ramped up when a group of surf lifesavers were attacked by a group of young Middle Eastern men on December 4.

On the morning of December 11, about 5000 people gathered on Cronulla Beach to protest against the violent attacks.

Cr Pesce said businesses in the Shire had 'suffered quite dramatically' after the riots, which gave the area a bad reputation.


Full marks for mental health reform

Helen Andrews

The first thing to know about the government's new mental health reform package is that it doesn't involve any additional spending.
That's cause for celebration in any reform, but especially in the case of mental health, where funding has not been insufficient but insufficiently well-directed.

The second thing worth noting is its 'stepped care model,' which offers different levels of treatment for patients with different levels of need.

This is a huge advance over previous mental health reforms, which too often saw entitlements designed to help the truly needy swamped by the middle-class worried well.

Mild and moderate conditions like depression and anxiety disorder have been the main drivers of a near tripling in mental health spending over 20 years and the doubling of the number Australians receiving an MBS-subsidised mental health service annually over six years. These conditions are serious issues and deserving of attention and treatment. But government spending should prioritise those patients whose need is the greatest.

The latest reform package increases the number of services (including therapy sessions and nursing visits) available each year to patients whose mental illness is classified as severe. This will improve the quality of treatment in a more well-targeted way than the 'Better Access' overhaul of 2006.

Praise for the new reform has been bipartisan-even the editorial board of The Age says the government has 'got it right' this time. The applause is well deserved.


9 December, 2015

Pig's head left near University of Western Australia mosque

No reflection heard on how this compares with the chopping off of human heads that Muslims do regularly

A Muslim student has described the "frightening" experience of finding a pig's head near a mosque at a Western Australian university just before his traditional midday prayer.

University of WA PhD candidate Majdi Fal was working in his office on Sunday morning before taking a lunchtime break, he told Radio 6PR on Monday.

He then went to complete his regular prayers around 12.40pm and stopped at the bathroom first.
The University of Western Australia's Perth campus.

The University of Western Australia's Perth campus. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij

He had taken off his glasses, so when he first saw stains on the floor he thought they might be dirt. He then realised they were blood, and thought for a moment it was human blood.

Then, inside the traditional Turkish toilet, he saw the pig's head, surrounded by more dried blood.

Mr Fal said it was a "frightening" experience and he believed it to be a message to Islam as a minority group.

He said the toilet was in a central location and well used by all kinds of students, but was clearly the closest toilet to the prayer room.

He said though similar incidents had happened in Perth before, he thought for this to happen at a university was "alarming", given UWA was a place of education and diversity, with many minority groups co-existing peacefully.

Mr Fal, who has lived around the world before coming to Australia and never before personally encountered prejudice, said he hoped people could learn to ask more questions and talk about their beliefs and concerns.

We come to a university to seek knowledge and understand others," he said. "We need commonality, rather than difference."

He said he was confident investigators would do their best to find the perpetrator.

The incident prompted an immediate social media response in response to Mr Fal's Facebook post saying he believed tensions in the community were "escalating".

In a statement, the UWA Guild condemned the incident and said it was investigating the "unprecedented display of Islamophobia".

"Acts like this are designed only to incite religious and racial hatred," it said.

A UWA spokesman said university management was saddened by the "deplorable act".

"It is concerning that people using the UWA Muslim prayer room have been targeted this way," he said.

"The matter has been reported to police. We would like to reinforce that UWA strives to support a culturally inclusive and tolerant campus community and the University will offer help and support to our Muslim students at this time."

WA Police spokeswoman Susan Usher noted that the incident was in a public toilet and cautioned against leaping to conclusions.

She said police were making inquiries and until they had more facts, could not confirm the motivation behind the incident.

On Saturday night, a joint Muslim-Christian meeting was held in Perth to discuss "tough issues" facing both societies.

It was the second such meeting in recent weeks, with representatives of various faiths also coming together for a Perth prayer vigil in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris.


Joe Hockey the new 'face of Australia' in Washington

An excellent choice

The Labor opposition says an admission by new US Ambassador Joe Hockey that if he stayed in Parliament he would try to get even with his political enemies is extraordinary given he will be serving the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was responsible for his removal as Treasurer.

Former Treasurer Joe Hockey was officially appointed to the Washington post on Tuesday as an interview emerged where he admitted he would have been too focused on taking down his adversaries if he stayed in federal politics.

His widely expected appointment will see him take over from Ambassador Kim Beazley in January.

In the interview Mr Hockey told Celebrity Apprentice host Mark Bouris that staying in Parliament would not have been good for his family or in the national interest as it would be too focused on settling scores.

"If I was going to stay it'd be overwhelmingly about getting even with people that brought me down. I love my country and my family more than I hate my enemies," he said.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, said this was a worry considering how important the posting was to Australia and raised questions over the future relationship between Mr Hockey and the Turnbull government.

"It is an extraordinary admission … What is even more extraordinary about it is the former adversaries he is talking about are the PM and the Foreign Minister, the very people he will be having to report to as ambassador to Washington," she said.

Mr Hockey, who was at the DFAT offices in Canberra on Tuesday, predicted in the same interview he had a four years worth of public service left and politics had defeated him.

"I still have three or four years of desire to contribute to the country in one form or another, It's just the politics at the end of the day beat me," he said.

Despite appointing Scott Morrison to replace him as Treasurer in the September leadership spill, Mr Turnbull said Mr Hockey was "a passionate patriot" and the "most engaging, persuasive people I've known in public life".

Mr Hockey's resignation from politics in September triggered the second federal byelection this year. The Liberals retain the seat despite a sharp swing against them over the weekend, with candidate Trent Zimmerman elected as the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives.

Mr Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop thanked former Labor leader Kim Beazley for his service.

"Joe will be as Kim has been the face of Australia to Washington, to the most powerful Government in the world, the face of Australia will be Joe Hockey," Mr Turnbull said.


Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan slams Queensland police in brutality case on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast cops again.  Their behaviour is so extraordinary that some at least of them must be high on drugs

CONTROVERSIAL magistrate Bernadette Callaghan has launched an extraordinary attack on police, accusing officers of brutally assaulting a man who had been charged with assaulting them.

Ms Callaghan, who has come under fire from police for perceived “soft touch” sentences, lashed out at officers involved in the arrest of Gold Coast construction worker Kristian Puru this year.

Mr Puru, 19, was celebrating a family birthday in the early hours of February 22 in Surfers Paradise when he was involved in an altercation that saw him charged with two counts of assaulting or obstructing police and one of public nuisance.

Mr Puru, who said he thought he was going to die that night, claimed he was a victim of police brutality in his arrest in a complaint that made its way to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

In Southport Magistrates Court yesterday, prosecutors offered no evidence against Mr Puru, whose lawyer Kris Jahnke of Guest Lawyers then argued police should have to pay his client’s legal bill.

After watching CCTV footage of the incident, Ms Callaghan agreed, launching a stinging attack on the officers’ conduct and ordering police to pay $1500.

Ms Callaghan said the video footage showed no evidence to support allegations that Mr Puru had punched an officer in the face, causing him to fall to the ground.

The court was also told mobile phone camera footage of the incident taken by one of Mr Puru’s relatives was seized and deleted.

“What is the world coming to with police officers behaving like this?” she asked.  “One would expect police officers to tell the truth.

“Not only does this man not assault police, in fact the video shows Mr Puru is the one assaulted by police.”

Mr Jahnke called the conduct of officers involved “deplorable”.

“We always thought the prosecution case was without merit from its inception and the result is indicative of that,” he said.

“There were claims made by police that when you watch the CCTV footage you can see were just blatantly untrue.”

Mr Puru said he was relieved to put the matter behind him. “Today was a good day,” he said.

Mr Puru has already commenced civil action against the Queensland Police Service.


Australia Post blasted on Facebook over Christmas delivery failures

My son lost out on a share-market offer because his cheque did not arrive on time

Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour is the federal government's highest-paid chief executive but complaints about the postal service continue to mount.

Australia Post is copping angry abuse from small business owners before Christmas over slow postal delivery times.

While Australia Post's own website puts estimated letter delivery times at between one and four days, growing numbers of businesses are taking to Facebook to vent about letters taking weeks to arrive, or not arriving at all.

Sydney entrepreneur Oscar de Vries runs subscription razor business Oscar Razor which turns over $1 million a year. Packs are light enough to send via letter post, which is cheaper for customers. But it's taking up to two weeks to arrive at their intended destination, and his regular customers are complaining.

He's noticed a dramatic decline in service times from Sydney to Canberra taking a week, Newcastle nine days, Trinity (near Cairns) taking 12 days and the Gold Coast 14 days. 

"We're having to express-mail replacements to customers. Unlike Australia Post, we stand or fall with our customer service."

Paul Davies, director of Sydney life insurance firm Jarickson, has lost count of the number of times letters go missing. "We require original signatures from people for life insurance policies, which means posting out paperwork with reply-paid envelopes included," he explains.

"We sent out the same letter to a client in North Queensland three separate times, and none of them arrived. The fourth time, we paid to have it posted express, and it arrived. The first letter was returned to us and the delivery address was right, so we're not sure why it was returned. It's a common problem."

Community Service Obligation

Australia Post says it has a Community Service Obligation (CSO) to deliver 94 per cent of letters on time, or early.

"While we certainly see increased volumes across our network at Christmas time, we don't expect any delays to letter delivery, and we continue to meet our CSOs. Our first quarter YTD service performance is currently 94.5 per cent," communications manager Michelle Skehan says.

Australia Post recently has hired an additional 55 customer service employees in the Australia Post Customer Contact Centre. It has also hired an additional 100 call-centre staff to help keep the lines of communication open with customers, Skehan says.

However, a disgruntled customer posted on Australia Post's company Facebook page that his daughter recently waited to speak to a customer service representative for 50 minutes, with no answer.

"Now, that's a great way to get rid of troublesome customers – just don't answer the phone," David Moodie posted.

Mitchell Ryan posted on the company Facebook page: "It looks like you've got a pretty bad reputation, just scrolling through looking at the feedback on your site. You make your customer service channels such a nightmare to use, it's no wonder people are so dissatisfied, and everyone is looking for alternative services."
First company-wide loss

Australia Post reported its first company-wide financial loss last financial year. It will offer 1900 voluntary redundancies over the next three years from metropolitan centres.

To rub salt into the wound, company chief executive Ahmed Fahour? is the federal government's best paid employee, pocketing nearly $4.8 million in the year to June 2013, which compares to the Prime Minister's $507,000 pay packet.

De Vries has lodged complaints over delivery times with Australia Post, to no avail. "There's a 100 per cent guarantee that the CEO of Australia Post will get his hefty payslip every week, yet we and our customers have no guarantee that they will receive their order within the time frames Australia Post stipulates on its own website.

"It's utterly soul-destroying as a small business to be at the mercy of a monopoly that has such scant regard or consideration for its customers," he says.

Reputations suffering

De Vries fears his company's professional reputation is suffering as a result. "Frankly, if Australia Post continues like this, we might have to shelve our subscription-based business."

Davies agrees. He has adopted digital signature software in a bid to avoid Australia Post altogether.  "It's a massive inconvenience for mail not to arrive, not to mention the potential loss of business. We don't even bother complaining [to Australia Post] any more because you never get a response anyway."

Australia Post says Christmas places huge pressure on businesses and their customers.  "Christmas is definitely the busiest time of year at Australia Post, and this year we expect to deliver a record 1.3 million parcels each day this month powered by online shopping. We are also processing around 1 million letters each business day.

"We advise our customers to remind their customers to get their orders in early. If people are leaving orders to the last minute, we recommend using our Express post service."


8 December, 2015

Australia keeps plunging further into debt

Everything the writer below says is correct.  The big spending years of Rudd and Gillard have left a legacy of obligations that can not be paid for out of taxation.  All the new public servants in all the new agencies and departments have to be paid, for instance.  So the coalition has had to borrow to meet Federal obligations.  Tony Abbott tried to cut the spending back but was blocked in the Senate.  Will Turnbull bite the bullet?  Not until after the 2016 election, probably

The moment Turnbull took over as Prime Minister, I wrote that his biggest challenge was getting the budget back in order, particularly in respect of the serious spending problem that we have.

So far, the talk has been about increasing the GST and increasing taxes on super for anyone earning more than $36,000. Hmm.

Budget situation

To cut a long story short, there is already enough revenue – it’s been increasing every year for the last six years and is projected to continue increasing at a healthy rate (although it looks like this year’s increase won’t be quite as healthy as predicted):

The problem is that there is nowhere near enough revenue to meet the wasteful and unproductive spending we have in the budget (if you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend reading my three part special on where the money went).

In summary, the 2015-16 budget has expected income of about $398 billion and spending of about $434 billion (i.e. a $36 billion deficit). On the spending side, the big ticket items are:

    Welfare – $154 billion
    Health – $69 billion
    Education – $32 billion
    Defence – $26 billion
    Interest on debt – $15.6 billion

These items account for around 68% of all spending.

Spending is the key. Spending is completely out of control.

Unless the situation is brought back into line, our taxes will continue to be wasted on paying interest on debt and our economy and lifestyles will continue to struggle (put your hand up if your salary has been frozen for the last year or two or not increased by enough to counter inflation).

The answer isn’t to try and grab more tax. It won’t raise enough money and will only discourage people from taking business risk – for the obvious reason that there is not enough reward at the end of the tunnel. If people refuse to take any business risk, then that’s less jobs and income for everyone else.

Increasing the GST makes some sense as a separate conversation topic. However, it can’t and won’t fix the budget. While it’s claimed that it would bring in around $20-25 billion in revenue, that’s before you factor in the corresponding income tax compensation to low income earners and the amount that the States would grab out of the pie (which could end up eating up almost the entire amount).

As for increasing tax on super contributions, this has to be one of the most idiotic suggestions yet. The whole point of super is to decrease people’s reliance on aged welfare (which currently amounts to $60.7 billion of spending annually – 1 in every 7 dollars spent by the government). The more you tax super, the more people will rely on welfare in their retirement. Given that our population is ageing and that around 80% of retirees receive a part or full pension, this is something we can ill afford.

Turnbull needs to pull his finger out and make some real budget decisions. Unfortunately, it’s obvious that he has no immediate intention of doing so (particularly as the final deficit is likely end up worse than the $36 billion budgeted for). In fact, his only strategy appears to be riding his honeymoon wave as long as possible. Given this, I’d be very surprised if he got to the next budget in May 2016 without having called an early election beforehand.


Warmists are holding us to mad ‘greenmail’

AS predicted, the great Paris global warming conference has turned to custard.

China, which is home to more billionaires than any other nation, and India, second only to China in terms of population, along with a gaggle of other opportunistic nations are demanding hundreds of ­billions of dollars from the ­developed world to meet the unproven challenge of man-made climate change.

With breathtaking arrogance, the clamorous pseuds gathered in the French capital without care for their massive carbon footprint claim to have the power to control the temperature of Earth — given enough of your money. This is such a preposterous notion that no one at the conference will even state the ­obvious — its impossibility.

Instead, we have self-­anointed, self-righteous, self-important lackeys of the UN claiming that global warming is responsible for extreme weather (despite zero evidence), poverty (hardly), drought and floods (that’s tricky), family violence (what about the TV remote), Middle Eastern violence (where’s that in the Koran), prostitution and alcoholism (they would, wouldn’t they).

The more than 4000 ­delegates and assorted hangers-on are actually perpetuating the greatest fraud since we were warned that the Y2K bug would send aircraft into tailspins, freeze elevators, close bank accounts and crash the internet (warmist Al Gore’s claimed invention).

The mere fact that these junketeers have gathered when, according to satellite data, there has been no warming for more than 18 years, should have been enough to warn politicians off but no, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has paraded his moral vanity (and a warm overcoat) at the conference and there is no shortage of others eager to be associated with the ­delusionists.

The demand by developing nations that the developed ­nations hand over cash should have been met with a Western walkout. It’s nothing but greenmail.

Led by Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, (UNFCCC) the G77 countries (there were originally 77 developing nations in this bloc when it formed in 1963; now there are 134) are demanding more than $US100 billion a year to help them meet any targets set in Paris.  This seems to be their prerequisite just for turning up.

The UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 2005 Kyoto ­Protocol. Initially 27 developed nations pledged $10.2 billion to “stabilise greenhouse gas ­concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will ­prevent dangerous human ­interference with the climate system” — as meaningless a piece of rhetoric as the UN ever presented — but Figueres determined that wouldn’t be enough.

Using figures from the UN’s now discredited computer ­climate models, she claimed that amount wouldn’t be ­sufficient to prevent global temperatures from increasing by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

But Figueres has also admitted that the real goal of the gathered eco-freaks should be to ­destroy capitalism which she sees as the real enemy of the planet despite obvious evidence that it has been the only economic model to deliver real development and uplift billions from poverty in ­history.

Earlier this year, she outlined her thoughts for the Paris conference saying: “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ­ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial ­Revolution.

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to ­intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human ­history.”

According to an 86-page draft proposal prepared for the conference, the developed countries have the greatest ­responsibility to cut carbon emissions “without conditions”.

Australia just cannot afford to be a signatory to such ­lunacy.
“Developed countries shall provide financial resources to developing country parties for the full and enhanced ­implementation of the (Climate Change) Convention,” according to the draft.  "The GCF (Green Climate Fund) shall be the main financial entity under the new agreement,” it added.

The GCF is merely a mechanism to redistribute wealth from developed countries to poorer nations in order “to promote the paradigm shift ­towards low-emission and ­climate-resilient development pathways”.

The draft calls for developed countries to provide “at least 1 per cent of gross domestic product per year from 2020 and additional funds ­during the pre-2020 period to the GCF,” which would act as the “main operating entity of the Financial Mechanism” under the new treaty, according to the draft.

Forget it. Taxpayers should demand that Turnbull call Paris and tell the Australian delegation to get out to Charles de Gaulle airport tout suite and fly home. Unfortunately, he has yet to show any spine when it comes to confronting the Left. It is not in his nature.

Disappointingly, his wife, Lucy, the newly appointed chairman of the Greater Sydney Commission, is also ­displaying the same tendencies. She is on the board of the Leftist think tank the Grattan Institute.

Little wonder that Liberals are concerned about the direction their party is taking under Turnbull’s leadership.


Union blackmail charges: CFMEU officials John Setka, Shaun Reardon charged by Victoria Police

CONTROVERSIAL union leader John Setka and his right-hand man Shaun Reardon have been charged over the alleged $20 million blackmail of concrete company Boral, in a case that has plunged the State Government into turmoil.

The hardline union figures will face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court tomorrow, each on a charge of blackmail over the union’s organised boycott of the concrete company.

Police from Taskforce Heracles, set up to investigate criminal allegations raised in the Royal Commission into Union Governance and Corruption, arrested the men early yesterday.

The dispute with Boral was part of the union’s “war” with its enemy Grocon.

Mr Setka, 51, and Mr Reardon, 47, have been accused of getting builders to stop using Boral concrete when the company refused to cave in to union demands.

The men have been charged under Section 87 of the Crimes Act, which states it is a crime to make demands with “menace” in order to gain an advantage.

Despite being charged yesterday, Mr Setka was today at the Building Unions Picnic at Caulfield Racecourse talking with family and union members.

Mr Sekta told the Herald Sun he stood by his conduct during industrial disputes with Boral and Grocon, saying the companies had “unsafe work practices”.

When asked whether he denied the allegations against him, he said: “I’ll leave that up to the courts.”

The charging of two prominent members of Labor’s Socialist Left faction has sent shock waves through the Labor Party and the State Government.

Premier Daniel Andrews has refused to comment other than to say it is a “serious matter” that is now before the courts.

“To run a commentary, to trample all over these matters, as I have been invited to do, that doesn’t serve anyone’s interests, least of all anyone who is proven to have done the wrong thing getting a punishment they deserve,” he said.

Mr Andrews also refused to comment when he was asked whether the CFMEU, which is a member of the same Socialist Left Labor faction as the premier, had his support.

“These matters are before the courts, and I’m not going to get dragged into the word games, back and forth, into effectively running a commentary on two people who have been charged with serious matters and who will face the justice system and account for their conduct, as they should, in a court,” he said.

One minister told the Herald Sun the issue would distract from the government’s agenda in this year’s last week of Parliament.

Allies of the CFMEU officials hit the phones yesterday to hold talks on the fresh crisis.

CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said police should have made the arrests at the union’s Swanston St office rather than in front of the men’s’ families.

“The CFMEU has co-operated with every request from the Royal Commission

and the police could have conducted their business at the office during working hours,” he said.

“The arrests were conducted in front of both families and reek of overkill. The community can only hope that the rest of the case against the men is made as public as these arrests.

“The community expects more of the police. We should be able to trust that our police are not doing the grunt work of a Government desperate to mount an attack on the working rights of people in this country.”

He said the pair would plead not guilty.

The pair allegedly wanted Boral to stop supplying concrete to Grocon to cripple the company’s building projects.

The union has already agreed to pay up to $9 million to settle a court claim from Boral, which had argued it lost up to $20 million worth of business during the two-year long dispute.

Boral accepted the lesser amount as part of deal that included a ban on the union harassing or blockading the company.

Mr Kane claimed in the Royal Commission that Mr Setka told Boral that they would be punished for their relationship with Grocon.

“This is a criminal conspiracy to interfere in the marketplace, its blackmail by any other definition I have heard of and it’s been effective,” he said.  “As we sit here today in the Melbourne CBD it’s in full force and effect.”

Robert Clark, Liberal opposition spokesman for Industrial Relations, said Mr Andrews should “expel” Mr Setka and the union from the Labor Party.

“For far too long Daniel Andrews has stood by John Setka and the CFMEU; it’s now time for him to stop taking their money and support and expel them from the Labor Party.

“Now it’s not just Boral or the Royal Commission talking about criminal charges over what was done to Boral, but Victoria Police as well.”

Victoria Police said in a statement yesterday: “Taskforce Heracles detectives have charged two people today in relation to an alleged blackmail.

“A 51-year-old man from West Footscray and a 47-year-old man from Ocean Grove have both been charged with one count of blackmail. “The charges follow a lengthy investigation by the Taskforce.”

The Royal Commission had recommended in its interim report last year that the director of Public Prosecutions of Victoria file criminal charges of blackmail against Mr Setka and Mr Reardon.


Student union test a Fail for Turnbull

THE Malcolm Turnbull-led Liberal Party failed a significant test on Thursday that has gone largely unremarked in the media but certainly not across the wider party.

The test on Thursday went to the core of Liberal values. It was over a vote on voluntary student unionism. This should have had the antennae of almost all Liberal MPs and senators twitching as many of them cut their teeth in student politics fighting those on the left, those who have the most to lose should they have their funding cut off.

As it stands, the bullies and thugs from the compulsory union lobby stand over those who don’t wish to join their union, those who choose not to participate in any of their activities or access any benefits of union membership. They even threaten to prevent graduates from picking up their degrees, denying them their right to graduate.

It must be noted that every state and territory division of the Liberal Party and the federal council of the party has voted to support voluntary student unionism and an end to the compulsion that exists.

The thuggishness of the student unionists was challenged by a motion placed before the Senate by independent Bob Day that would have given the more than one million tertiary students a greater degree of control over the expenditure of the compulsorily levied funds.

It called on the government to amend the Higher Education Support Act so that the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) could only be levied with the support of the majority of students at each university campus in a mandatory annual ballot.

On Wednesday night, however, the government leader in the Senate, Queensland Liberal George Brandis, instructed Liberal senators that the party’s official position was to oppose this motion and vote it down in concert with Greens and Labor senators.

Notionally, the leadership didn’t wish to upset some National Party members who fear that regional institutions may suffer a lack of funds if students are permitted to control their own destinies.

Tellingly, and in an extraordinary rebuke to Turnbull’s leadership team, not one Liberal senator followed the Liberal leadership’s instruction. With two honourable exceptions, they all abstained from voting, some hiding behind screens and others speedily exiting the Senate chamber when they realised the vote was being called.

Only two demonstrated not only courage but support for the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and association embodied in Day’s motion and crossed the floor to vote for it and support the position adopted by Liberals across Australia.

Those principled Liberals were senators Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi, often pilloried by the bien pensants in the left-wing  media for stating honestly the principles they believe in.

Senator Bernardi later said it was telling that not one Liberal voted against the motion as instructed. “I voted in accordance with longstanding Liberal principle and philosophy,” he told me. “The fact that not one Liberal voted on the other side indicates I did the right thing.”

Senator Abetz said the struggle against compulsory student unionism had first inspired him to enter politics. “The SSAF is unfair, unpopular, undemocratic and used as a political plaything by political activists. There are numerous examples of inappropriate use of these fees for rorts, rackets and rip-offs.

“What is worse is that students are denied their results or enrolment if they refuse to pay the fee to the union. The right to a tertiary education should never be predicated on joining a union.”

Abetz said he firmly believed in full abolition of the SSAF and that the proposal put before the Senate by the crossbench calling for a vote of students before the fee being levied was just a small step in the right direction.

He said polling by Liberal students showed 70 per cent of students supported greater accountability and transparency of the administration of the fee and would be supportive of a democratic vote.

Alex Dore, the president of the NSW Young Liberals, said the federal parliamentary party under former prime minister John Howard had attempted to tackle compulsory student unionism in the tougher political climate of the ‘90s and had some successes which were overturned by prime minister Julia Gillard with the support of the Greens.

“We now have universities dominated by extremely loud anti-government voices which receive tens and twenties of thousands in stipends from student taxes, and all of those voices support Labor and Green positions,” he said.

“They are about crowding out opposition voices and students are being forced to fund them. The services students are compelled to pay for are being appropriated for this ideological campaign.”

Students will suffer from this defeat but the real losers are the grassroots Liberal Party members who hoped that the men and women they selected in the Senate to champion their party’s ideals of freedom would remain true to their principles. 


7 December, 2015

Probe of rogue union follows Brisbane CBD rally

REPORTS of unions disrupting work on construction sites in retaliation for not backing a rally are being investigated by the building watchdog.

Industry sources said unions yesterday targeted Hutchinson Builders sites that did not down tools during Wednesday’s Brisbane CBD rally, partly held in support of a CFMEU organiser charged with assault.

The Courier-Mail understands the construction company sent a text message on Tuesday warning action would be taken against any worker — other than a union delegate — who left the site for the rally.

FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss said the building watchdog was looking into reports of industrial action yesterday but “cannot comment further at this stage”.

Hutchinson’s Hurworth St site manager John Smith denied work was stopped on four levels, saying it was a safety audit carried out by the safety committee and workers assisted with the clean-up.

Mr Smith said it was “nothing out of the ordinary” and he was not aware of any “ulterior motive”.

Hundreds of union members descended in Brisbane’s CBD on Wednesday ahead of a court appearance for Justin William Steele.

According to the text message sent by the company beforehand, union delegates were free to participate in the rally if they wished — however the workforce would not be allowed to attend.


An illiterate generation:  Teachers don't know grammar either

ENGLISH grammar has bamboozled children through the ages, but now it’s teachers who are admitting they need help.

Just as some of next year’s Year 7 students will start high school with shockingly poor literacy skills, there will be teachers struggling to know how to help them, says Melbourne linguist and author Lyn Stone.

But it’s not the teachers’ fault, she says. Teachers are not being taught how to teach grammar properly.

“We have a situation of the blind leading the blind — and they admit that fully. Teachers are my favourite people in the world. They are underpaid and overworked and they don’t mean to not know how to teach grammar, they are just not given the tools to do it.”

Her comments come as Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham prepares to release the results of the first “literacy and numeracy test” of graduate teachers, designed to instil public confidence in teachers.

Ms Stone has written the book on grammar. Picture: Jason Sammon
But Ms Stone said she could wallpaper her house with the examples of grammatical and spelling errors she saw in her Mornington Penisula clinic, such as a 12 year-old who, when asked what help he needed, wrote: “to git thinks rihgt”.

Another 12 year-old wrote: “to no the rells [rules]”.

More than half of her child clients were Year 4 boys struggling with spelling and reading books without pictures.

Ms Stone, who has just written a handbook for teachers called “Language for Life”, said ill-equipped teachers were a key reason people were confused by apostrophes well into adulthood.

“Apostrophes have different meanings, but they are taught at the same time,” she said.

Children would have a better chance of understanding and using apostrophes correctly if teachers stopped “lumping together” those two uses.

Full stops were also problematic.

“Students are loath to use them. They will have massively long sentences with no full stops. They master the grammar of language, and want to make huge, long, wonderful sentences in one breath. The judicious use of a full stop is difficult.

She urged teachers to tell students that verbs were more than just active “doing” words like “kick”, they were also “being” and “having” words, like “is” and “own”.

Mrs Stone said the curriculum was well set out, but said it was teachers lacking the tools and funding for professional development that was a problem.


WA’s solar households decry ‘unfair’ tax

They don't want to pay their way.  They think that they are so virtuous that other people should give them money

SOLAR rooftop power owners in WA have labelled a proposal to charge them more to be connected to the grid an unfair “sun tax”.

Lyndon Rowe, the chairman of state-owned electricity utility Synergy, says people who use solar power are not paying the fixed cost of being connected to the network, leaving other consumers and taxpayers footing the bill.

Solar Citizens consumer campaigner Reece Turner said Mr Rowe was proposing a “discriminatory charge” that would hit WA’s solar homeowners hard.

“These people have made the sensible decision to invest in clean, abundant energy and should not be penalised,” Mr Turner said.

There are more than 191,000 solar panel owners in WA, accounting for one in five households.

Mr Turner said if they’re hit with extra costs it would risk holding back investment in renewable energy. “These people have made the sensible decision to invest in clean, abundant energy and should not be penalised,” he said. “Targeting solar households is not the way to go.

“Synergy is looking for a scapegoat to cover up for its spiralling budget losses.”

But Mr Rowe said it was fair to target solar panel owners — with the number growing by 20 per cent each year.  “The unfair part is those subsidies going to people that can afford to pay for electricity,” he said.

“People having difficulties paying their electricity bills do not have solar photovoltaic … I’m not suggesting only rich people have solar — that’s clearly not the case.

“If we don’t change the tariff structure, because of this growing subsidy the concession they currently get could become at risk.”

Treasurer and Energy Minister Mike Nahan said the State Government would be reforming tariff systems and it would considered in the next Budget.


The Misguided Advocates of Open Borders

This article from 2010 seems even more relevant today


The poor quality of analysis behind Australia’s abandonment of traditional assimilationist immigration policy reached its apotheosis recently in a spate of articles by well placed commentators. The proposal of the moment was open borders, immigration unrestricted by consideration of all factors save for security. Most Australians will reject the proposal as absurd. Unfortunately the analytical basis for policies followed by federal governments since the 1970s has not much differed apart from economic criteria.

Prof. Mirko Bagaric (SMH, 7 April 2010, p. 15[i]), professor of law at Deakin University, argues for unrestricted immigration from the poorest to the richest countries as the best means to reduce Third World poverty. Initially his article came as a pleasant surprise to one who applies biological concepts and methods to the study of human society. Prof. Bagaric opened by stating two truths about human ethnocentrism: “[M]ost still prefer people of their own type and find different cultures jarring”; and “It is in the human DNA.” [ii]

However from that point the article provided almost no hint that humans are an evolved species with an interest in survival. Prof. Bagaric superficially discusses three interests that could be affected by open borders – material prosperity, national security, and cultural tradition – more of which later. This leaves many interests unmentioned.

Unrestricted migration would harm Australia’s national interests in ways documented by scholars in economics, sociology and related disciplines. Much of the harm is predictable from what is known about the dysfunctions of diversity. They include growing inequality in the especially invidious form of ethnic stratification. No one likes to be ruled over by a different ethnic group or to see his own people worse off than others. The result is resentment or contempt, depending on the perspective taken.

Diversity has also been associated with reduced democracy, slowed economic growth, falling social cohesion and foreign aid, as well as rising corruption and risk of civil conflict.[iii]

The loss of social cohesion bears emphasis. Disapproving of birds flocking together is beside the point; it is a biological fact that needs to be taken into account.[iv] Rising diversity within human societies tends to drive people apart, causing them to take sanctuary in individual pursuits and ethnic communities. The practical consequences are reduced public altruism or social capital, evident in falling volunteerism, government welfare for the aged and sick, public health care[v]and a general loss of trust.[vi] Ethnic diversity is second only to lack of democracy in predicting civil war.[vii] Globally it correlates negatively with governmental efficiency and prosperity.[viii]

Thus the thrust of accumulating research in several disciplines indicates that unrestricted mass immigration would be disastrous for wealthy countries. Some of this research has been well publicised; some has been published in Australia.

There are also philosophical issues that deserve comment.

I found the single-minded concern with Third World poverty puzzling, especially coming from a declared moral universalist. It is true that poverty would be reduced for those immigrating to the wealthy West, but do not the populations of industrial countries also have interests – in ecological sustainability and national continuity – that would be injured by the influx of millions of foreigners? Should not global problems be solved in ways that optimize interests instead of benefiting one population at the expense of another? Should we not be aiming at win-win outcomes? 

From the global perspective, humanity as a whole stands to lose from overpopulation. As the late Garrett Hardin pointed out, allowing poor countries, which generally have high birth rates, the expedient of offloading excess population on low-birth rate regions reduces the incentive to solve their own population problem, for example by tackling the poverty and under-education of women. Global overpopulation can only be solved one country at a time, not by rewarding profligacy.

Another philosophical issue is Prof. Bagaric’s equating parochialism with morally repugnant “racism”. Surely that is not true, firstly because “racism” has no agreed definition and has been deployed for ideological and ad hominem purposes. It is more an instrument of abuse than of reason. If its use cannot be avoided it should be reserved to describe ethnically aggressive statements and acts, not the peaceful expression of pro-social sentiments common to humans everywhere.

Secondly, the notion that preference for one’s own people is immoral ignores the universal interest we all share in particular affiliations. All humans share parochial interests that give rise to social preferences. It would be maladaptive not to prefer people of our own type, beginning with kin. And in general this preference is moral. Bearing and caring for our own children, choosing friends on intuition, and having a special affection for our own country cannot be equated with hating others.[ix] A liberal society that allows free expression of these moderate preferences is hardly the moral inferior of one in which the elite scolds and punishes the people’s aspirations to have a country of their own.

The universality of parochial interests contradicts Prof. Bagaric when he states: “For most of human history there have been few migration limits. . . . A relevant reason [for restricting immigration] cannot be a person’s birthplace. This is merely a happy or unhappy coincidence.” The anthropological reality is the precise opposite: until recent decades almost all human society have sought to prevent permanent mass migration. Hunter gatherers and primitive agriculturalists, farmers and herders have all laid claim to a territory and fiercely defended it. Marriage partners have been found almost exclusively within the ethnic group, encompassing the local dialect. The psychological motivations for this are well established in such predispositions as social identity mechanisms, collectivism, assortment by similarity, innate cognition of human kinds, and rational choice.[x] Evolutionary origins of territoriality and ethnocentrism are indicated by their being human universals as well as being found in apes. And from the evolutionary perspective, which acknowledges the limited carrying capacity of all territories and of the world itself, it is maladaptive to allow one’s lineage – family, clan, or ethnic group to be replaced by others.[xi]

The vital interest all societies have in controlling a territory also falsifies the assertion that national security consists solely of defending individual citizens from attack by vetting immigrants for terrorist connections as is already the practice with tourists. Unlike tourists, immigrants affect the receiving country’s identity and cohesion. Societies have a corporate interest in retaining national sovereignty, which entails control of a territory, which in turn implies the will to defend against displacement in that territory. Inviting the world to a country as prosperous as Australia would result in the displacement of the Australian people inside their historical homeland.

The final philosophical point I shall discuss is the claim that open borders are somehow consistent with liberal thinking, that everyone in the world has the same rights. The problem with arguing from rights is that they can conflict, as implicitly admitted in the disclaimer that no one should infringe on others rights. Arguments based on interests have the same problem, but also the advantage of undercutting a mountain of abstractions. More to the point, the father of modern liberalism, John Stuart Mill, though generally a universalist who set his disciples on a course away from the natural sciences, was sufficiently acquainted with the real world to support liberal nationalism:

Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a prima facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart . . . One hardly knows what any division of the human race should be free to do if not to determine with which of the various collective bodies they choose to associate themselves.[xii]

Mill also wrote:

"Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist".[xiii]

Mill is not the final word on these subjects but he does show that basing an argument on rights does not logically entail open borders.

The calibre of open-borders arguments raises questions. How could the research documented above be ignored – not even hinted at – by a professional academic in the age of google? Individual scholars are technically responsible for covering the literature bearing on their research. But in this case there is the mitigating circumstance of the general state of the social sciences in Australia and overseas. Three weeks after Prof. Bagaric’s article appeared I have not come across one academic rebuttal. The SMH has not published a reply by another professor pointing out the obvious empirical fallacies, the failures of scholarship, the sloppy and inflammatory language. Neither has there been a storm of denunciation by colleagues or the media; no multiply-signed letters sent to newspapers defending the credibility of Deakin University or the humanities and social sciences. Nothing on radio or television. The online comments were overwhelmingly critical and were generally cogent but none of these authors identified as an academic. It seems that ordinary citizens have retained their common sense, while intellectuals are ominously silent.

Mike Steketee, a senior journalist at The Australian newspaper (10 April 2010[xiv]), appears to disagree with Bagaric. He also takes issue with Chris Berg,[xv] a research fellow at the Institute for Public Affairs, who advances a similar case for unrestricted immigration. Steketee writes that advocating open borders is “well intentioned” but would cause “chaos”, without describing the latter state. Well intentioned? He agrees with Bagaric and Berg that opening the floodgates would be ethical and that it would reduce Third World poverty. It would be the liberal thing to do in light of universal human rights: “[W]e believe individuals have the same rights, wherever they live”. But alas democracy would get in the way. Voters would reject the dissolution of the nation state and the installation of a world government. They continue to support (immoral) tough treatment of boat people. Mr. Steketee thinks that despite the proven benefits of immigration the Australian people wish to retain “control of their destiny”, implying that a rational electorate would let go and accept a much larger immigrant intake.

It seems that Mr. Steketee cannot fault Mr. Bagaric or Mr. Berg on social or ethical grounds. Indeed, he agrees with them that the free movement of people across borders is ideal. His disagreement, such as it is, concerns public relations and the pace of transformation that is politically feasible.

Berg’s article strikes a radical libertarian stance that also fails to discuss collective interests. Instead he focuses on moral claims, namely that all humans have equal moral worth regardless of where they live (p. 1). He also emphasises the benefits of immigration to immigrants. The following provides the gist of the remainder of his argument:

But immigration is good for the developed world, too. It’s good for the economy—immigrants end up being entrepreneurs and shopkeepers; employees and employers; and consumers and producers. More people mean more creativity, more opportunity, and more culture. Migrants bring skills, knowledge and international connections (p. 3).

As Mr. Berg does not distinguish immigrants by education or origins, every sentence of the above quote is either outright false according to available research or contentious. Immigrants from impoverished countries do not provide overall benefits to advanced economies, though they help some employers by reducing wages.[xvi] Inequality rises. In the United States Third World immigration increases the size of the overall economy but reduces per capita incomes. It is the latter that affects living standards. Immigrants from different cultures differ dramatically in their educational performance and entrepreneurship for several generations.

Prof. Bagaric writes off the nation as essentially racist. Mr. Berg thinks that “[t]here’s really nothing that special about national borders or the nation itself.” This is a strong claim but it becomes clear that Mr. Berg thinks that a nation is a state, failing to make an elementary and important distinction.[xvii] A nation is at its core an ethnic group living in its homeland, with shared elements of culture and means of communication. A nation can exist without its own state, an example being the Kurds. And most states are not limited to one nation’s territory. All nation states are built around a founding ethnic core.[xviii] However even without this distinction Mr. Berg is wise to state that: “A nation is the most convenient mechanism by which the institutions of liberty can be delivered.” (p. 4) True enough, but is that not a good reason for libertarians and all who treasure civil rights to defend national integrity?

The intellectual void surrounding the concept of the nation becomes most apparent when Mr. Berg wonders why an otherwise consistent libertarian, Murray Rothbard, thought that culture is worth defending by restricting immigration (p. 6). He quotes Rothbard’s reason thus: “[A]s the Soviet Union collapsed, it became clear that ethnic Russians had been encouraged to flood into Estonia and Latvia in order to destroy the cultures and languages of these peoples.” Not a bad reason. It could be supported by other examples of regimes that have used the demographic weapon, such as China in Tibet or Indonesia in West Irian. The extraordinary thing is that Mr. Berg offers no comment after quoting Rothbard. It is as if the concepts being used, “ethnic” and “destroy the culture and languages” failed to register. But they are real. Australian policy makers should bear in mind that ethnic nationalism is still a powerful force that tears countries and empires apart and creates new nations. Recent examples are the dismemberment of the Soviet and Yugoslavian empires in the 1990s. When people are allowed to choose they vote for policies that make or keep them as the ethnic majority. The result is that spreading democracy creates relatively homogeneous small states with heightened social capital and its flip side of social stability, efficient government, low corruption, more democracy, and higher economic growth.[xix] Why would a libertarian want open borders? Why would anyone want to become a minority in his own country?

By the way, one can add to Rothbard’s excellent reason for defending the cultural integrity of nations. All the benefits of relative homogeneity (and thus of assimilation and prudent immigration) documented above belong to nations, not to multi-ethnic states. One can also extend Rothbard’s reasoning. The Soviets attempted to Russify Estonia and Latvia as a means of controlling those territories. They assumed that the ethnic-Russian minorities would maintain their identity distinct from that of the target nations. As these national communities shrank in relative size they were meant to become just another competing ethnic group, national unity would be replaced by a multi-ethnic state, and the capacity of the original Estonian and Latvian nations to strategise on their own behalves would be diminished. This is what Rothbard was getting at. And who would put it past the Soviets to have reckoned that if demographic transformation could be continued long enough, the original nation would die. Another might arise in its place but that would take a long time and would not replace what was lost to the original nation.

These two pieces, one by a senior press commentator, the other by a researcher with a respected think tank, confirm the impression that the egregious standard of analysis behind open borders advocacy is not an aberration. It is deeply embedded at the elite level of Australian political culture. The problem lies with an influential tradition well established within the universities and intellectual class as a whole.

How have so many scholars come to ignore accessible knowledge about human nature and interests?  Australia’s 39 universities employ thousands of lecturers and professors in relevant disciplines. Any one of them should be able to expose elements of the case for open borders. A first year student of social anthropology should know that borders have always been closed to replacement-level migration. Students of government and sociology should know in outline the cases for and against diversity. How can bold assertions such as those in the three articles examined here go unremarked? What is being taught at our universities?

A century ago the social sciences began suing for divorce from the biological sciences.[xx] Reconciliation began in the 1970s but sociology, political science, large sections of anthropology and much of the humanities remain aloof. Add to that the political straight jacketing of these fields, an important reason for their doctrinaire rejection of biology, and it is not surprising that we see utopian socialism of the most naive variety emanating unchallenged from the professoriate. The world of ideas is one arena in which diversity is an unalloyed benefit, where homogeneity demonstrably degrades standards.

The evidence refuting the case for open borders also applies to the scale and diversity of existing immigration policy. Any policy is suspect that threatens a country’s ecological sustainability, increases diversity or tends to subordinate the core ethnic group. Such a trend was already in place for several years before historian Geoffrey Blainey warned that immigration from non-traditional Asian source countries was outrunning its welcome in the mid 1980s.[xxi]

Ethnic stratification is taking place. Aboriginal Australians remain an economic underclass and some immigrant communities show high levels of unemployment. Anglo Australians, still almost 70 percent of the population, are presently being displaced disproportionately in the professions and in senior managerial positions by Asian immigrants and their children.[xxii] The situation is dramatic at selective schools which are the high road to university and the professions. Ethnocentrism is not a White disorder and evidence is emerging that immigrant communities harbour invidious attitude towards Anglo Australians, disparaging their culture and the legitimacy of their central place in national identity.[xxiii]

The democratic process has been prevented from correcting our maladaptive immigration policies due to bipartisanship – a long-term deal between the major political parties to keep immigration issues off the table at election time. The collusion began responsibly enough as a measure to facilitate assimilation during the massive post-WWII immigration program from Europe. By the 1970s bipartisanship served to shield both parties from majority objections while they profited from multicultural politics, garnering votes from immigrant communities in exchange for immigration favours. Arguably this collusion would have been difficult to sustain if a substantial number of academics and commentators had spoken truth to power.

Instead, the rapid transformation of Australia by mass Third World immigration has been a top-down revolution in which exclusivist politicised circles within academia have been complicit by commission and omission. Political leaders and citizens alike look to intellectuals for the facts and analysis needed to make wise policy. In technical matters we have been well served, but not with regard to issues of population and diversity. The policy failure is not limited to the present federal government. It goes back decades, as does the failure of the nation’s brain trust. Correction will necessitate tackling the intellectual and ideological corruption of the humanities and social sciences by reintroducing some intellectual diversity and free speech, the only way to reestablish open-minded scholarship and teaching.


6 December, 2015

Brain dead call for a monopoly on an Australian fruit

The Fascist below won't get his way, fortunately.  Overseas growers will eventualy get their hands on seed and grow it commercially, thus sending the price down and making it more affordable for all

It's the richest known source of Vitamin C, richer than the blueberry in antioxidants and is native to Australia. So why haven't we heard more about the kakadu plum?

Grown across the top end of Northern Australia, the kakadu plum (also known as the Billygoat Plum, Gubinge or Murunga) has long been used by indigenous Australians for its medicinal properties, but has recently garnered the attention of cosmetic and health food companies around the world.

So much so, David Boehme of the wholesale supplier of the plum Wild Harvest NT -- is concerned we are at risk of losing the crop to offshore production -- a development which would undoubtedly impact the local indigenous communities who harvest it.

"The amount of retail inquiries are almost unbelievable at the moment," Boehme told The Huffington Post Australia. "We can't deal with the demand.

"We have inquiries all over the world for seeds and have to say they are not available. Look at what happened to the lemon myrtle. That's an amazing plant, native to Australia, and where do you think the plantations are? Malaysia. It’s gone. The Australian industry has been compromised because the federal government has not come to the party in identifying and protecting these Australian plants.

"Unless something to that effect comes into play, I believe, in the long term, it will be very devastating for remote indigenous communities.

"What this plant is and what it’s evolving as -- it's a resource that could be the wealth of many communities in the top end of Australia."

So what is so great about the kakadu plum?

First of all, its extreme vitamin C potency, measuring 100 times that of an orange. This is particularly attractive to cosmetic companies developing skin treatments.

"Vitamin C greatly assists the process of collagen synthesis, which, in turn, protects our skin from premature aging," nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge told HuffPost Australia.

"The amount of vitamin C found in the kakadu plum is extraordinary compared to what the normal consumer is used to. Yes, blueberries are highly concentrated as are oranges -- but the kakadu plum blows them out of the water."

The fruit is also so high in antioxidants, Western Australian researchers believe it could emerge as the most powerful antioxidant treatment in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Furthermore, the kakadu plum contains phytochemicals such as gallic and ellagic acids, known for their antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activities.

Previous efforts to supply the plum on a large scale have been hampered by its remote growing location and the fact it can be an unreliable harvest.

"Larger companies are bursting at the seams, wanting to do things, but they don't have confidence in supply and rightly so,"
Don’t have confidence in supply and rightly so," Boehme said.

"If they are going to market a product, they want an ongoing high volume of supply, and that confidence is not in wild harvest.

"The whole thing is variable in a wild harvest situation. You would just need to have a cyclone come through and lose the whole crop.

"We developed the first [kakadu plum] orchard 15 years ago. I know there are orchards happening with two [indigenous] communities in Broome. They aren't big orchards but they are a start."

Despite the difficulties associated with harvest, it didn't stop an American cosmetic company patenting the compounds found in the fruit, further fueling Boehme's fear it could be lost to overseas markets unless efforts are made to protect it here.

"The solution is to have the federal government protect Australian native species," Boehme said. "I don’t want to lose them like the macadamia and the lemon myrtle.

"There are so many unique plants in Australia indigenous people are so aware of that we don't know about. We have no idea what we are letting go.

"We need to see sustainable horticultural practices in Australian native plants. If we don't, we are really set to marginalise the economic opportunities for indigenous people to work on their own land."


More Greenie lies exposed -- coming from "respectable" people

Dr Sarah Laurie has been the voice for rural communities set upon by the wind industry. For over 5 years, she has been advocating for an Australian ‘fair go’ for people trying to get a decent night’s sleep in their own homes; and, to that end, has relentlessly sought to get relevant, meaningful and enforceable noise standards drawn up to cover all industrial noise sources, including wind turbines

Set upon by the attack dogs that help run media and political interference for the wind industry, Sarah has been subjected to more than her fair share of utterly unwarranted, vilification and abuse. And the lion’s share of that has been generated, or orchestrated, by a former tobacco advertising guru and his mate, Vestas front man, Ken McAlpine.

The guru, along with fellow wind power propagandists, McAlpine, Infigen’s Ketan Joshi and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hannam sent Tweets to their band of intellectually challenged followers, asserting that Dr Laurie had been “deregistered”; implying that she had engaged in professional misconduct, causing the Medical Board to chop her registration.

For no apparent reason – save malice – Joshi and Hannam sent the malicious Tweet (first sent by McAlpine) around once more during the guru’s appearance before the Senate Inquiry. In a “we’re not going to take it any more” move, in response, Sarah Laurie sent in her legal team, who ultimately forced the lot of them to banquet on a very generous helping of humble pie.

Sarah’s first slimy-scalp was none other than the guru, and it’s no small pleasure for STT to pop up his mea culpa, once again:


I am a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney.
On 20 March 2014, I retweeted the following tweet concerning Sarah Laurie:

NOT DROWNING, RANTING: Deregistered “Dr” Sarah Laurie doesn’t like the medicine dished up by @ama_media”

My tweet implied that Ms Laurie had given cause to the Medical Board of Australia to deregister her as a medical practitioner, on account of unprofessional conduct: that she is not entitled to use the title “Dr”; and that she does so in contravention of the laws that govern the conduct of medical practitioners.

These allegations were implied without foundation and are entirely false. Ms Laurie is not deregistered and has never been sanctioned by the Medical Board of Australia. Sarah Laurie allowed her registration as a medical practitioner to lapse for personal reasons; and accordingly, does not currently practice.

I sincerely apologise to Sarah Laurie for the harm, embarrassment and distress caused by my allegations, which I unreservedly retract.

Professor Simon Chapman
University of Sydney

Sarah’s next back-down was wrung out of Vesta’s McAlpine.
McAlpine’s fitting apology exposed a long-running campaign to discredit Dr Laurie, who has spoken out for residents affected by noise from wind turbines and other industrial sources through the Waubra Foundation.

What Sarah said about the guru’s personal attacks on her professional integrity apply with equal force to McAlpine, Ketan Joshi and Peter Hannam – as “just [another] example of a broader strategy employed by the wind industry to denigrate, marginalise and, therefore, exclude from public and political discourse anyone sincerely investigating a worldwide public health issue”.

With the respect and admiration STT holds for Sarah, it would rude not to run McAlpine’s apology, at least once more:


I am a consultant Special Advisor to Vestas Australian Wind Technology Pty Ltd. On 19 March 2014, I uploaded the following allegations on Twitter concerning Sarah Laurie:

NOT DROWNING, RANTING: Deregistered “Dr” Sarah Laurie doesn’t like the medicine dished up by @ama_media:

At the time that I uploaded the Tweet, I was employed by Vestas Australian Wind Technology Pty Ltd. The thrust of my allegations is that Sarah Laurie had given cause to the Medical Board of Australia to deregister her as a medical practitioner, on account of unprofessional conduct and that Sarah Laurie is not entitled to use the title “Dr”.

These allegations were made without foundation and are entirely false. Laurie is not deregistered and has never been sanctioned by the Medical Board of Australia.

I understand that Sarah Laurie allowed her registration as a medical practitioner to lapse for personal reasons; and, accordingly, does not currently practice as such. By reason of her academic qualifications, Sarah Laurie is entitled to use the title “Dr”.

I sincerely apologise to Sarah Laurie for the harm, embarrassment and distress caused by my allegations, which I unreservedly retract.

Ken McAlpine
Special Advisor, Public Affairs,
Vestas Australian Wind Technology Pty Ltd

Next on the list of wind industry backed liars was the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hannam. Hannam has been an overweening mealy-mouthpiece for wind industry propaganda from the get-go. His articles drool for the these things; and are drenched in fairy-tale fantasy

Hannam, if not posing as a ‘journalist’, could be forgiven for simply being infantile and gullible; but Sarah wasn’t about to let him off the hook for repeating his buddies’ and benefactor’s lies. Hannam, too was forced to withdraw his calumny; and apologise for the harm caused. Here’s scalp number three:


On June 29 I retweeted a tweet concerning Dr Sarah Laurie that was the subject of questioning by Senator Xenophon at a Senate inquiry into the health effects of wind farms. In doing so, I did not intend to convey any suggestion in the original tweet that Dr Laurie was not a doctor nor that she had been deregistered. If any readers interpreted my retweet in that way, I withdraw any such suggestions and apologise to Dr Laurie for any embarrassment caused.

Peter Hannam
Sydney Morning Herald

Gee, that must have hurt! But Sarah wasn’t content to let it rest there. Oh no, the good Doctor was also after Infigen’s top propaganda parrot, the insipid Ketan Joshi.

Joshi parades as the fountain of all knowledge, when it comes to espousing the ‘wonders’ of wind power; ‘properly’ paid to do so, of course (for a giggle, why not check his ‘ode to wind’ website). But, in truth, is just another vacuous ninny, who apparently amuses himself (as most walking jokes tend to do) with an endless stream of inanities on Twitter.

Although he did manage to amuse STT with his ‘submission’ to the Senate’s wind farm Inquiry, which was a moaning missive, entirely dedicated to STT. Apparently, Joshi hasn’t twigged to the fact that Australians have no time for whingers (you’ll need to Google it, Ketan).

And Sarah Laurie, quite rightly, has no time for nasty little liars, like Joshi. Here’s scalp number four:

Clarification from Ketan Joshi to Sarah Laurie

I am a Research and Communications Officer employed by Infigen Energy, which operates wind farms in Australia.

On 29 June 2015, in the context of a series of tweets describing the proceedings of a public hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, I published the following tweet:

In the interests of avoiding confusion, I would like to re-state that the allegation contained in the tweet by Ken McAlpine, linked to in my tweet that Sarah Laurie is a “deregistered” medical practitioner, is without foundation and entirely false.

I would like to reassert that Sarah Laurie is not deregistered and has never been sanctioned by the Medical Board of Australia. Sarah Laurie allowed her registration as a medical practitioner to lapse for personal reasons.

Ketan Joshi
Research and Communications Officer
Infigen Energy

“Without foundation and entirely false”, hey! Who would have thought: wind industry operatives caught out spreading nasty lies?

An industry that is built on a series of fictions – and peopled by malicious liars – has only one tactic when it comes to people with honesty and integrity, like Dr Sarah Laurie; and that’s to crush them with falsehoods about their true motives and character. More power to Sarah for calling them out for precisely what they are: a pack of lying hounds.


Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane labels Hizb ut-Tahrir views 'absurd'

Hizb ut-Tahrir held a large conference at Bankstown in south-western Sydney on Sunday and told the more than 500 men, women and children who attended that Muslims were being demonised over their faith.  "Deradicalisation has come to mean making Muslims less Islamic, more Western, more secular, more submissive to secular, Liberal political ... norms," Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar said.

"It is nothing more than an agenda of forced assimilation justified by exaggerated fears of a security threat."

But Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said this was "absurd".

"Hizb ut-Tahrir's views on citizenship are a rejection of our liberal democratic values and a denial of Australian multiculturalism," he said. "They further confirm this group's extremist agenda."

Dr Soutphommasane said that when migrants became citizens, they chose to become a part of the Australian community.

"There's nothing oppressive about committing to our democracy, abiding by the law, and respecting the rights of others.

"Our multiculturalism means that everyone has a right to express their cultural heritage but also accepts the responsibilities of being an Australian citizen."

The federal government has reportedly abandoned plans under consideration by former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter told Sky News earlier this week the Hizb ut-Tahrir comments were "unhelpful, divisive and fundamentally ill informed".

"The recruitment process of radical organisations is to put in the mind of the people they seek to recruit that there is widespread prejudice amongst Australians against Muslim Australians.

"That level of prejudice simply does not exist in Australia."


Australia to Strip Dual Citizens of Citizenship for Terror Activities

At a time when legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)  to deprive Americans who join terror groups of their citizenship faces Democratic opposition, Australian lawmakers have passed a comparable measure.

Australian terror suspects with dual citizenship will now be stripped of their Australian citizenship if they are involved in terror activity abroad, or convicted of a terrorism offence at home.

Legislation passed by the federal Senate late on Thursday will affect any person aged 14 or older, and in the case of a suspect whose activity takes place overseas, no conviction of a criminal offense will be necessary for the citizenship to be lost.

The legislation also allows the authorities to prevent any terrorist with dual nationality located abroad from returning to Australia, and to expel dual nationals who engage in terror activities in Australia, wherever possible.

The government estimates that as many as half of the at least 100 Australians who are fighting for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) or other terror groups in the Middle East, mostly in Syria and Iraq, have dual nationality.

Attorney-General George Brandis and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a joint statement that the legislation “updates and modernizes a long standing provision of Australian law to reflect the new age of terrorism.”

“The changes to the existing legislation were necessary to reflect the current threat that Australia and the rest of the world faces,” it said.

“Dual nationals who engage in terrorism are betraying their allegiance to this country and do not deserve to be Australian citizens.”

The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill passed its third reading by a vote of 43-13, supported by the two major parties. Opposition came from the liberal Australian Greens and a handful of independents.

Greens Senator Nick McKim argued during the debate that the legislation “does not provide judicial fairness or natural justice to potentially-impacted Australian citizens” and runs contrary to Australia’s international obligations.

“The best place for Australian citizens who are violent extremists is prosecuted, convicted, locked up in Australian prisons for a long time where they can do no further harm – not exported into a global marketplace of disenfranchised, violent people,” he said.

Australia’s threat level is currently set at “probable” – the third-highest ranking after “certain” and “expected.”

According to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), that means that “credible intelligence indicates that individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.”

Several other Western countries have made similar amendments to citizenship legislation in recent years in response to the growing terror threat, including Canada and Britain.


Tax Deal With Greens gets important bill through the Senate -- enraging the ALP

After acquiescing to government legislation on terror and surveillance, Labor is now furious at the Greens for doing a deal with Treasurer Scott Morrison. Ben Eltham explains.

“Traitors.” “Dirty deals.” “Gutless Greens.”

Labor is rather upset today. As often happens in politics, the cause of the ALP’s umbrage is not its erstwhile enemies in the Coalition, but the party on its own side of the political spectrum, the Greens.

What’s this all about? The Greens have done a deal with Treasurer Scott Morrison to usher through new laws to crack down on tax avoidance.

This means the government now has the numbers to pass its Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015 in the Senate.

The laws will improve tax transparency, force hundreds of private companies to publicly report their tax affairs for the first time, and impose country-by-country reporting on big multinationals – long a holy grail for anti-tax avoidance campaigners.

In particular, the new laws will capture some 281 private companies with a turnover larger than $200 million. They have so far been excluded from tax disclosure since the 1990s, the result of a law dating back to the Hawke-Keating years.

The bill will also force multinationals making more than $1 billion a year globally to file so-called “general purpose” accounts, which are much more detailed than the sketchier “special purpose” returns many big companies have been filing. Importantly, general purpose reporting will allow for “country-by-country” breakdowns of revenue flows, which will allow much greater transparency of companies shifting their money between jurisdictions.

So, on the face of it, this is a win for those campaigning to reduce tax avoidance by the wealthiest individuals and companies.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale certainly thinks so.

“This is a huge win for tax transparency,” he wrote in a media release. “If we hadn’t got this bill passed today, multinational companies would have enjoyed another full year of not having to disclose their tax on a country-by-country basis.”

“We had a choice to either criticise from the sidelines and let multinational tax avoiders off the hook, or pass laws that force much greater tax transparency. The Greens chose action.”

Labor takes a different view. The ALP’s Chris Bowen, Andrew Leigh and Penny Wong were scathing of the deal, taking to the airwaves and the Twittersphere to condemn the Greens for their perfidy.

The gist of Labor’s chagrin is that the Greens should have held out for a better deal. According to a spokesperson for Andrew Leigh who spoke to New Matilda this morning, Labor had the cross-bench senators on board. Working together, the Greens and the ALP could have forced the government to a much more stringent deal on tax avoidance.

We’ll never know, of course, because with the Greens on board, Morrison has all the numbers he needs.

“The Government has played Richard Di Natale like a banjo on this issue,” Chris Bowen said this morning at a media doorstop. “He’s fallen for their tactics and he has sold out the Australian people.”

Bowen argues that the deal excludes the bulk of the private companies that could have been forced to reveal their tax affairs. “We know from evidence from the Australian Tax Office that one in five private companies with turnover over $100 million paid zero tax,” he said. “The Greens and the Liberals have conspired together to see that situation continue.”

So who are we to believe? As usual with Greens-Labor spats, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of the competing positions.

On the one hand, the Greens are right to point out that there is now a bill going through. As of yesterday there was no provision to force private companies to report their tax affairs: now there is. Country-by-country reporting is also a win for tax transparency, any way you look at it.

But Labor may be right to argue that the Greens could have secured a better deal if they had held out for longer. Bowen, Leigh, and Wong are correct in pointing out that the transparency requirement was a Labor policy, passed in 2013. After all, this is a deal cut with Scott Morrison, a minister the Greens have long painted as a right wing antichrist.

The irony of it all is that the current deal was only made possible after the government managed to pass its so-called “kidnap” amendment in October. That bill struck out Labor’s previous transparency requirement, voted up in 2013, on the dubious grounds that wealthy individuals could be kidnapped if disclosure laws forced them to reveal their personal wealth.

The amendment passed because of a stuff-up: Labor and the Greens mismanaged their Senate processes. After Nick Xenophon and a number of Labor senators didn’t turn up to speak on a Coalition amendment the speaking list “collapsed”, meaning the bill was passed on the voices. This forced Labor and the Greens to tack a new transparency bill onto a Coalition bill later in November.

Whatever the complicated provenance of the current legislation, it’s hard to see what Labor is so upset about. The deal is an incremental improvement in tax transparency. Yes, it could be better. Yes, the deal excludes many companies from disclosure. On the other hand, it does improve matters from the status quo. This is the sort of steady-as-goes legislative improvement that the ALP normally trumpets.

One thing is for sure: Labor’s complaints that the Greens “sold out” on this bill can’t be taken too seriously, when compared with the ALP’s dismal history in this term of parliament. The ALP has passed a raft of Coalition national security and data retention measures since 2013. All parties compromise when they think it is in their interests.

The Greens-Morrison agreement echoes a previous deal cut between Di Natale and the Treasurer in June, over pension changes. That deal also sparked a skirmish between the two left-leaning parties over who had sold out, and who had stood firm.

Then, as now, the real winner is Scott Morrison, once again demonstrating his cunning. No-one is talking about Morrison today, even though he will get the benefit of higher revenues from company tax in future budgets. Meanwhile, he can sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the Greens and Labor fighting each other over a tax bill few ordinary Australians will understand.


4 December, 2015

MP Bob Baldwin uses speech in Parliament to criticise Muslim community leaders

BOB Baldwin has questioned why male refugees fleeing war-torn countries don’t “stand and fight” and says he would expect his two sons to defend Australia from terrorism.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday night, Mr Baldwin criticised Muslim community leaders for their response to acts of terrorism, and said he was concerned some were seeking to prevent the celebration of Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. He also questioned why “males aged 18 to 45” were fleeing countries like Iraq and Syria.

“I have to ask the question on behalf of my constituents, why are they not staying [and] training to defend their land, their lifestyle [and] their rights,” he said.

Mr Baldwin said if Australia was attacked by a terrorist group like Islamic State he would “stay to fight” and he would “expect the same of my sons”.

He said it was “a bit rich” to expect soldiers from other countries to “lay down their life for you if you are not prepared to stand and fight”.

But Paul Power, chief executive of the Refugee Council of Australia, said refugee numbers suggested many men were staying behind.

“Almost a quarter of the families that have sought refuge outside Syria have a female as their head, suggesting many males have stayed behind to defend their homes and their lives,” he said. “Many single men are continuing on to Europe in the hope they can send some financial assistance to the family members they leave behind.”

An estimated 220,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria since it began four years ago, and Mr Power said for many “staying and fighting is simply not an option” in the face of bombings, chemical weapons and Islamic State brutality.

“We would like to meet with Mr Baldwin and discuss with him some of the many challenges that those who are in the midst of the conflict face,” he said. “We have written to him on a number of occasions to offer him briefings and remain hopeful we will have the opportunity to meet him in the near future.”


Climate mumbo jumbo

This reminds me of medieval controversies about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  I know the answer but I'm not telling

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says Australia will back a call from small island nations for a Paris climate change agreement to include an aspirational goal of capping global temperature rises at 1.5 degrees celsius which is lower than the United Nations current target of 2C.

Pacific states and other nations vulnerable to rising sea levels are calling for a tougher cap on global warming at the UN Paris talks taking place over the next fortnight. Their concerns are heightened by the series of national carbon reduction pledges made in the lead up to the UN conference which will not be enough to meet the agreed goal of keeping warming to within 2C of pre-industrial levels - estimates suggest the current commitments add up to about 2.7 degrees of warming.

The government's attitude towards its smaller regional neighbours came into question this week after an attempt by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to ridicule Labor's Tanya Plibersbek backfired. Ms Bishop accused her rival of wrongly claiming the island of Eneko had "disappeared" but instead got the name of the island wrong herself.

However, the Alliance of Small Island States, whose members include Fiji and Jamaica, has used Australia as broker in its discussions with bigger nations about including the 1.5C aspiration in the wording of any agreement. The 1.5C goal cannot be included as a firm target because it would be vetoed by larger developing nations who argue it would put too much pressure on the their growing economies which require fossil fuels to overcome issues such as access to electricity.  

"The small island states would obviously like to see a clear goal for 1.5 degrees," Mr Hunt said. "Some of the largest developing countries are more resistant to that. Australia is happy to have a reference to 1.5 degrees with obviously the clear over-arching goal fo the agreement being below 2C. We are acting as a broker in that space. Our approach is to be flexible and construtive."

Mr Hunt said one of the main challenges for the more than 190 countries represented at the Paris summit will be agreeing on "genuine" five-yearly reviews of national carbon reduction targets. Developed countries such as the US, Australia and France - as well as some fast-growing economies such as China - believe reviews are critical to ensuring nations meet and then progressively improve their carbon reduction targets for 2030.

"I think that the central element to a solution here will be the review mechanisms," Mr Hunt said.  "We have said that genuine five-year reviews beginning with a review that takes real effect in 2020, 2025, 2030 is the right way to do it."

France has set a Saturday deadline for the various negotiating groups to come up with a draft document that eventually could form the basis of a formal agreement. The text of this preliminary document will be at the heart of further negotiations between countries - Australia will be represented by Ms Bishop - during the second week of the conference.

Mr Hunt caused a minor commotion when he appeared to suggest the host nation had already produced a "French text". Smaller nations are sensitive to suggestions that France and other richer countries have pre-judged the process. However, Mr Hunt's office later clarified his reference was meant to refer to the text that would be produced as a result of the negotiating groups.

Mr Hunt said he remained confident that India - which is resisting strict five year reviews - would not be an obstacle to a binding agreement. 

"I remain confident it will be hard fought two weeks but at the end of the day we are likely to achieve - and will achieve - an agreement," he said.


Climate Wankathon Begins

A comment from Australia here featuring typical Australian irreverence.  Note:  A "wanker" is the Australian version of "jerk"

In the lead up to the Paris climate conference, I suggested that Obama thought people in Syria wouldn’t be so angry if global warming hadn’t made it so damn hot over there.

Perhaps having taken my encouragement, Prince Charles then chimed in and said that climate change was the ‘root cause’ of the Syrian war (yes, really).

The only thing missing now are claims that we’re ruining the solar system, galaxy and universe in some sort of butterfly effect (I sincerely apologise if this encourages some climate nut to seriously make this claim).

Now that the conference has started, we can easily see what this campaign been designed to do – extract money from us:

Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for rich nations to honour their commitment to provide $US100 billion ($A138.98 billion) a year to developing countries to tackle climate change.

‘Developed countries should honour their commitment of mobilising $US100 billion each year from 2020 and provide stronger financial support to developing countries afterwards,’ Xi said, according to an official translation of his remarks.

I wonder if Jinping is including China, which is responsible for around 25% of worldwide emissions and which will keep building more coal power plants and ‘maybe’ reduce its emissions by 2030? (PS: I don’t blame China one bit – I would be doing the same if I saw a bunch of idiots hell bent on parting company with $100 billion a year).

And where is this $100 billion a year going to go I hear you ask? (Don’t ask too loud, or else the climate police may come and haul you before a climate court):

That includes $US53.8 billion annually to reduce emissions and $US39.9 billion to deal with more extreme weather and rising seas, according to a report from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

And here I was getting worried that there wouldn’t be a proper account of where the money was headed. I just wonder which section of that budget the travel and hotel expenses for this conference (with 40,000 attendees) will be booked under? (NB: 40,000 at a conservative $10,000 per person is $400 million).

At least the $800 million pledged by Turnbull so far is coming out of our existing foreign aid budget. So we’re in the clear, for now…

Buckle in, there’s another 10 days of this crap to go and the only guarantee is that a lot money will be pissed against the wall.


Sydney raids: Police storm homes in Merrylands as the line between Jihadis and Middle Eastern crime blurs

POLICE say the line between Middle Eastern organised crime and extremism has blurred after they uncovered threats to shoot up Merrylands police station.

The homes of two well known Sydney families, the Hauochars and the ­Alameddines, were raided by police yesterday after Facebook threats were uncovered.

The Alameddines, relatives of the man accused of supplying the gun that killed Curtis Cheng, and the family of one-eyed Osman Haouchar, detained on returning from the Middle East last week, brawled just hours after the 26-year-old landed. Neither family would help police.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins said raids were organised crime-­related but there was no longer a definitive line between Middle Eastern organised crime and homegrown Islamic radicals. “The lines have blurred,” he said.

Mr Jenkins would not say if the counter-terrorism unit was involved in the raids but said despite “no items of interest” being found at ­either premises, police would continue investigations.

“(The Parramatta attack) has increased the threat environment for police and that threat environment is high … we will act very, very quickly in relation to specific information that we receive on those particular threats,” Mr Jenkins said.

No one was charged after the raids or in relation to the incident between the families.

NSW Police said the searches were being “conducted under the powers of firearms prohibition orders which were previously served on a number of men linked to the addresses being searched”.

The MEOC squad began an investigation into the alleged threats two weeks ago.

It is understood that a number of people at both houses were subject to the Firearms Prohibition Act, which gives police the power to swoop without a warrant.

“We will use a suite of powers when it comes to these types of threats and we make no apologies for that,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner Jenkins said the operation was about ensuring the safety of police and the community, and followed information about the threat against a police station in greater Sydney involving a firearm.

“Any threat to police officers or police premises is of major concern and taken extremely seriously, as demonstrated by the operation we undertook today,” Mr Jenkins said.

“We will continue to take every precaution necessary to protect our officers and the safety of the wider community, and will respond swiftly to any specific threats that are received.

“As this is an ongoing operation, no further details are currently available but we will endeavour to provide an update later today.”

This morning’s raids follow on from a family feud between the Alamaddines — the relatives of the man accused of supplying the gun which killed Curtis Cheng in the Parramatta shooting — and the family of one-eyed Osman Haouchar, 26, who was detained upon returning from the Middle East last week.

The operation is being led by the Middle Eastern Organised Crime squad and is not believed that counter-terrorism police are involved.

Osman Haouchar told The Daily Telegraph he was angered the raids had been branded as terror-related and that they had been a waste of “taxpayer money”.

Police were called to the Haouchar home just hours after Mr Haouchar landed in Australia last week, to break up a heated argument between members of the two families. Neither party co-operated with police at the time.

Mr Haouchar told family and friends he moved to Antakya on the Turkish-Syrian border in February. He posted pictures taken in the town to social media and listed his occupation as “humanitarian aide”.

He was questioned by Australian Federal Police for more than four hours when he touched down at Sydney airport from Dubai but was released without charge.  He had been travelling with two women, thought to be his mother and sister.

Talal Alamaddine, 22, was recently refused bail after he was charged with supplying the gun which was used by teen terrorist Farhad Jabar, 15, to execute Mr Cheng in October.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 while Assistant Commissioner Jenkins urges anyone with knowledge of threats to police or police stations to call triple-0.


Target Australia praised for using real women in latest catalogue

WOMEN of Australia are rejoicing and heaping praise on Target Australia for breaking away from tradition this Christmas.

Their latest Christmas catalogue features their new range of summer bikinis being modelled by women of varying sizes and body shapes as well as differing ages. And women of Australia were quick to notice and thank the retailer for showing “real women”.

Their Facebook page has been inundated with people applauding the retail giant’s decision, something Target Spokesperson, Kristene Reynolds is more than happy to see.

“We’re thrilled with the amazing response that has been generated on social media for the new swimwear catalogue as we are continuously committed to promoting diversity and celebrating all women,” Reynolds said.

“In August of this year we launched the Every Body campaign with the introduction of size 16 mannequins in store and women of all shapes and sizes across our TV, digital and print campaigns. Both initiatives are small but vital steps in continuing Target’s promise to make quality style and fashion not only more affordable but also more accessible and relevant for women.”

But it’s not just the “real women” getting a run in Target’s new advertising, regular blokes are also appearing in their pages.


Behind the ‘white student unions’ springing up at Australian universities

SO-CALLED white student unions are springing up at universities across Australia, charged with supporting and defending the interests of white students who they say are becoming marginalised from on-campus life and political debate.

At least seven unofficial unions have formed at rapid speed in the past week, claiming to represent students of European descent at the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, the University of NSW and the University of Western Australia.

However, there are allegations that the movement is in fact an elaborate attempt to troll universities and the media, by the likes of users of online bulletin boards 4chan and 8chan.

If it is a hoax, it is a pretty sophisticated one, with members reaching out to to share their views on the need to “advance our interests as white students”.

The proliferation of white student unions follows a similar trend in the US, where groups have built considerable support on social media and many intend to establish an on-campus presence in the new year. However, this has also been dismissed as a hoax.

Australian universities have distanced themselves from these unofficial groups, which are copping backlash on social media by fellow students and others who accuse them of white supremacy and racism. Responses to the groups on social media have ranged from “be proud of your heritage!” to “f*** off Nazis”.

Others have responded with utter incredulity: “This page is satire, right?” one person asked.

But the students behind the unions deny white pride is akin to racism, and argue they have as legitimate a place in university life as any other student group.


The White Students Union at the Western Sydney University, which formed over the weekend and is already “into the double digits” of members, is “not out to antagonise anyone”, according its spokesman.

The spokesman, who approached to write a story, said he was a 24-year-old journalism student and gave us his name, but we have chosen not to publish it because we could not verify it.

He said the group, which will seek formal registration with the university in 2016 and already has a six-person committee, was designed to “advance our interests as white students and promote a safe space where we can come together as a community and organise”.

“We’re a genuine group, we’re not doing it to troll anyone,” he told

“If you roll up to any university these days you’ll have gay safe spaces, Muslim safe spaces: in the last four or five years it’s become very politically correct.

“That’s great. I’m as PC as they come. We’re staying within the narrative. All we want is equality.”

He said he was “absolutely” expecting a backlash, but wanted to “test the boundaries of what they’re willing to acknowledge”.

“We just thought, why not? Everyone else is doing it, why can’t we do it? Anecdotally we have a lot of support from the ethnic students,” he said.

“Our main antagonists are actually the older, white academics. These people say they’re all about equality. The academics try to build this narrative that nobody supports this stuff, but it’s happening. We’re just using that language ourselves.”

Despite the hoax claims, universities are taking the rise of these unions seriously.

In a statement, a spokesman for Western Sydney University said the group was not an official or authorised student group, adding: “The university prides itself on the diversity of its university community and condemns any action that seeks to undermine this.”

The University of Technology, Sydney, and Macquarie University both said white student unions formed by their students were not official and did not reflect the views of the universities or the majority of their students.

In the “About” section of the Facebook page for the UTS White Student Union, it says the group was “advancing the rights for the people of European descent” and “anyone from any background can join”.

A spokeswoman for Macquarie University said it had publicly contacted the administrators of the page yesterday, requesting that they remove the campus image and refrain from referring to themselves as “a student organisation at Macquarie University”.

“We understand this page is likely to be part of a wider hoax, stemming from North America, nevertheless we are continuing our investigations into the origin of this page,” the spokeswoman told

A spokeswoman for the University of NSW said a Facebook page for the UNSW White Student Union was “in no way related” to UNSW or its student groups. “The university will be asking Facebook to delete the page,” the spokeswoman said.

The University of Queensland went so far as to condemn the University of Queensland White Student Union, which was formed last Tuesday, as a “racist web hoax”.

On its Facebook page, which has 378 likes, the University of Queensland White Student Union group rails against university overcrowding and “rich international students” outbidding white Australian students for rental housing and casual work.

“We’re forced to put up with an overcrowded campus that hosts thousands more students than it was ever designed for. Not enough parking, not enough toilets, not enough computers, not enough study spaces,” a post dated November 24 reads.

“We’re forced to do group work with internationals who can’t speak English, we carry the load and do all the work while our marks are dragged down.

“We’re forced to put up with the anti-social behaviour of a particular group of students who treat study spaces as social spaces and constantly attempt to ‘reserve’ public resources such as computers. Enough is enough.”

The founders of the UQ group asked not to be identified but said they represented white students “who’ve had their voices silenced by political correctness”.

“Individual people can be bullied into submission but as a group we can’t be silenced,” the group told

“Political correctness and free speech are issues that are becoming more and more important.”

The group said existing student organisations were “obsessed with catering to minorities” and they planned to establish their own society on campus in 2016.

“We’re very clear on our position that white people have every right to organise themselves and act collectively to further their mutual interests,” they said.

“We don’t think whites are inherently ‘superior’ and definitely don’t think they should ‘rule over’ anybody else.

“We think the ideas and issues we’re raising have become more relevant to students as a new strain of political correctness has swept across the Western word over the past few years promoting ideas like ‘white privilege’. There are all these nasty ideas around now that white people, particularly white men, are always ‘privileged’ regardless of their background and personal circumstances and that if they suffer hardship they deserve it, and that white people are the cause of everything that’s wrong in the world.” asked the spokesman to prove that he was a legitimate student at the university, but he said he thought it was in his best interests to “maintain anonymity” due to death threats the group had received.

Third-year University of Western Australia student Michael (who did not wish to reveal his last name) said he founded the UWA White Student Association on the weekend.

He said ensuring all students and staff spoke fluent English, making sure “the full breadth of white, European holidays and festivities” were celebrated on campus, getting racist attacks on white students recognised as racism, and having the recently dumped European studies major reinstated were among the issues his group intended to lobby for.

“Our basic aims are to represent the interests of white students on campus, as well as do our bit to reverse what we view as the rapid decline of Western civilisation, caused by mass immigration resulting in a clash of values, and the decline of family values,” Michael told

A spokesman for UWA said the university did not endorse “behaviours and actions which are deemed to be racially and culturally intolerant or offensive”.

“UWA has a strong track record on promoting cultural and religious diversity and the university is committed to produce graduates who are intellectually and emotionally comfortable with difference,” the spokesman said.

In response to accusations of racism, Michael says he and the group were not racists and “we never will be”.  “Supporting white students doesn’t imply hatred of other races, it’s not a logical accusation,” he said.  “We would be happy to work with other ethnic clubs to fulfil mutual goals.

“(Groups that represent ethnic minority groups) are nothing new, and we don’t have an issue with them. What is new is the increasing difficulty white students face in expressing their views, identity, or culture on campus without being shouted down and labelled.

“White students are not a minority, but they are currently being treated worse than most minorities, if they break rank with the left-wing multicultural orthodoxy that is hellbent of persecuting expression of whiteness.”

On its Facebook page, the UWA White Student Association points out that the university already has a Singapore Students Association and an African Student Union, among other groups, so it was “about time white students organised and started working together”.


The emergence of white student unions at universities in the US, including Berkeley and Harvard, have been suggested to be a response to a wave of recent anti-racism protests. One such union at the University of Illinois sprung up hours after a black solidarity event was held on campus. Others, however, have been revealed as hoaxes.

Dr Peter Gale from the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education at the University of South Australia told the parallel emergence of such groups in Australia was not the first time mainstream society has attempted to redress what many perceived to be “reverse racism”.

He said it was “not unrelated” to our current political climate.

“We can go back to the late 1990s with the rise of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party where there was a backlash from groups within mainstream Australia who even claimed there was reverse racism,” he said.

“Then we had an intensification of what I term as a politics of fear following September 11 so discourse around reverse racism increased following that.

“And unfortunately there’s a perception problem where many people don’t recognise the ongoing inequalities and difficulties that many minority groups within Western countries generally are still experiencing, which contributes to a level of resentment when we have affirmative action programs for those seeking to address disadvantage that’s been experienced by some groups.

“So where we may have a scholarship program for indigenous students, or we may have programs that seek to enhance the experience of international students on campus, and that’s perceived at discrimination, it’s very disappointing when people take that position.”

Dr Gale said it was also disappointing some people who were part of mainstream Australia didn’t “have an appreciation for the privileged position” of being at university.

“They certainly don’t have the experience of many minority groups that have had to overcome many difficulties and inequalities to get to a privileged position of being able to study at a tertiary level,” he said.

“There are many groups within Australian society where there is an ongoing inequality in terms of the participation rates in just getting to university. There's still an ongoing inequality for indigenous people in accessing university.

“We need far more of an emphasis on improving relations between groups within society rather than responses that are going to create further divisions.

“I’d be concerned that there’s an emphasis on what are the benefits for one particular group over another particular group. we should be working together to enhance interculturalism rather than further separation and segregation between groups.”


3 December, 2015

Government contributions to private schools

This is a hoary Leftist whine below.  Typically of Leftism it looks only at superficialities.  The underlying point that parents who send their children to private schools relieve the public sector from educating them is overlooked.  That is a big saving for the public system so the Australian Federal government reimburses the private schools part of what their kids would have drawn from the public system. Monica seems unaware of that point -- a point that is something of a "third rail" in Australian politics -- As Biffo Latham discovered when he tried to cut it back.  It is in other words fair and seen as fair

American conservatives would wonder at Australia's system. Where they struggle to get voucher programs going, the Australian Federal government has for decades done the equivalent. They directly give all private schools substantial taxpayer money!  And that gives wider choice. Where such programs get up in America, it mostly means parents get the chance of sending their kid to a poor Catholic school.  In Australia you can send your kid to the top private school in town and only pay part of the costs.  So 40% of Australian teens in fact go to a private High School

Monica Dux

It is a myth that elite private schools are entitled to all the bells and whistles they enjoy because parents have paid for them. This quickly falls apart if you think about it. Private schools receive huge sums of money from the public purse; very nearly as much money as government schools. If that money was being used to keep struggling private schools afloat, then it might be justified. But in many cases it is in fact used to fund the educational "excellence" that we hear about in private school advertising campaigns – state-of-the-art sports grounds, pools, outstanding facilities of every kind. As commentator Jane Caro recently observed, one school is now providing on-site baristas, subsidised by our taxes.

The myth that underpins this – that parents are simply making a choice, and are themselves funding that choice – serves to obscure the gross inequality at the heart of our education system. The implication is that parents who send their kids to state schools should stop complaining about the under-resourced, overcrowded public system because they have chosen it. They weren't willing to pay, so their kids deserve what they get.

As a teenager I was acutely aware of this divide. It was first pointed out to me in grade 6, when one of my classmates informed me that the high school I'd be attending was a "dog school", the crap Catholic school where no one really wanted to send their kids.  She, on the other hand, was going to the superior private school with hats, pressed uniforms and various state-of-the-art facilities.

Naturally, I was upset by the revelation that my school was for canines, as I'd naively assumed that my parents had chosen to send me there because it was closer to our home. But my classmate's spitefulness put me in my place, reminding me where I was from and what my parents could afford.

I don't know whether my nasty classmate got a better education than I did, but I'm pretty sure she would have come away with a greater sense of entitlement, and the self-confidence that typically goes with it. For entitlement grows naturally out of the myth that justifies the system. Her parents paid for her superior education, made sacrifices to afford it, so she was entitled to the benefits that it brought her.  

Yet once you recognise that the taxpayer is footing a very substantial part of the bill, and that elite private schools are effectively siphoning away funds that could have gone into the state system, you see the equation very differently. Far from being entitled to anything, children who benefit from expensive private educations are in fact indebted to the ordinary taxpayers who subsidised their swimming complexes and their baristas. It's everyone else who made the sacrifice – sending their kids to underfunded state schools, while the private sector hogged the education dollar.

As we grow older most of us stop believing in myths such as citizen's arrest. When will Australia grow up and see through the education myths that are doing a disservice to all our children?


$1,300 bonus offered as part of Queensland public servant pay offer

So what did they do to earn a bonus?  Support the ALP of course.  They did nothing else.  At the time it was elected, it was said that the Palaszczuk government would be in the pocket of  the unions and now we see evidence of it

Public servants will receive a $1,300 cash bonus under a pay offer from the Queensland Government.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Government had reached an in-principle agreement with 48,000 state employees and key unions.

But the bonus will not be paid before Christmas, as the deal must still be ratified by a union ballot, due early next year.

The revised wage offer is for a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise over the next three years.

Mr Pitt described the agreement as financially responsible, saying the bonus was back pay to compensate for the stall in wage negotiations under the LNP government.

"There's no magic or voodoo to this, this is essentially a process that we've tried to reach an in-principle settlement on before going to arbitration," he said.

"If this doesn't work, we go back to the drawing board and continue to negotiate, or alternatively it becomes an arbitrated matter.

"This isn't [as] though we're shelling out bonus payments left, right and centre here."

Mr Pitt said the offer was a reward for public servants "forced to endure three years of intransigence and attacks on their pay and conditions from the LNP".

"It's hardly surprising Campbell Newman and the LNP were unable to secure a replacement agreement given they were busy sacking public sector employees and cutting services.

"The LNP denied Queensland core public servants any pay rises for 16 months but the good news is that there's relief in sight prior to the Christmas break."

He said public servants would now get appropriate pay for their efforts.

"That's something I think all Queenslanders will support."


Australia's astonishing economy does it again

24 years of continued economic growth. But the doomsayers never stop.  I suppose they think they have got to be right some day

Australian economic growth accelerated in the September quarter of 2015, increasing 0.9% leaving the annual rate of growth at 2.5%. Markets has been expecting a quarterly increase of 0.8%, with the annual rate ticking up to 2.4%.

The increase extends Australia’s phenomenal economic record, having not experienced a technical recession – two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth – since the June quarter of 1991.

That’s not a bad performance at all – 24 years of continued economic growth through period of turmoil such as the Asian and global financial crises.

The largest contribution to economic growth during the quarter came from exports of goods and services, up 4.6%, contributing 1.0 percentage points to the final growth figure. Imports fell by 2.4%, contributing 0.5 percentage points to growth.

The ABS note that the increase in exports was concentrated in commodities, which reflected strong growth in mining activity having been impacted by adverse weather conditions during the June quarter.

Household final consumption expenditure, the largest part of the Australian economy, increased 0.7% which contributed 0.4 percentage points to the quarterly GDP increase. Government consumption expenditure rose by a similar margin, contributing 0.1 percentage points to growth.

Gross fixed capital formation, both from the public and private sectors, partially offset the positive contributions to GDP listed above, largely due to weak mining and non-mining business investment and a reversal in government investment following a temporary boost military expenditure seen in the June quarter.

For the private sector, non dwelling construction dipped 5.3%, detracting 0.4 percentage points from growth, while machinery and equipment spending slid 4.6% in line with the weak business capital expenditure report released late last week. It detracted 0.2 percentage points from growth.

Public sector investment dropped 9.2% on the back of a fall in military spending, slicing 0.4 percentage points from the final GDP figure.

Elsewhere inventories subtracted 0.1 percentage points.


Some advantages of living in "The lucky country"

I'm thankful, for instance, that I live in a country where unemployment is lower than almost any other place on the planet. Even if you exclude the developing world, we still do better than Canada, France, New Zealand, Britain and the US. And significantly better if you include other Western nations such as Greece and Spain where a quarter of the population still cannot get a job. Joblessness is a brutal experience but I'd rather it happen to me here than almost anywhere else.

And let's say that, after spending time in the unemployment queue, the best job I could find was one that paid only the minimum wage. I'm really thankful it'd be a minimum wage determined by an Australian commissioner, since ours is more generous than any other in the OECD. We pay nearly 13 per cent more than Ireland, 52 per cent more than the US, and 844 per cent more than Mexico.

While I'm at work, I'm extremely thankful there's a lower chance of being injured because workplaces here are governed by robust occupational health and safety laws. People working elsewhere aren't as fortunate. Our rate of workplace accidents is half that of Canada and Portugal, and almost a third of what Spanish employees endure. In terms of fatalities, our rate is 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers. In the US it's 5.2, in Canada it's 6.4, in Morocco it's 47.8.

I'm also thankful that my colleagues are more likely to love their work, to feel connected to their employer and to be innovative, all of which are encapsulated by the term "engagement". Levels of engagement are 50 per cent higher here than in Canada, and 2½ times greater than they are in France, the Netherlands, South Africa and Indonesia. Things get really bad in places like China (we're 400 per cent more engaged) and Croatia (800 per cent).

I'm thankful, too, that Australia is an incredibly fertile ground for the launch and growth of new businesses. Sydney, for example, ranks 16th on the list of the world's most start-up-friendly cities. That ranking is determined not only by the performance of start-ups but also by the funding they attract and the talent they employ. In regards to the annual growth in seed funding, we're second in the world – ahead of London, New York, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Paris and Silicon Valley.

Let's also take a look at productivity. The measure preferred by the OECD is the amount of GDP generated by every hour we work. Using that model, we're more productive than Britain and the European Union. In comparison with our friends across the Tasman, our productivity is almost 50 per cent higher.

So, are any of my comments a reason to become complacent? No. And have I cherry-picked only the most favourable statistics to tell a good story? Yep.


2 December, 2015

Feminist gets a man fired for free speech

What the man said was undoubtedly an offence under Australia's hate speech laws and it would be hurtful for most women to be so described.  But if this had happened in the USA, it is probable that the speech would be regarded as protected by the 1st Amendment.  Though a defamation action could succeed if the utterance were held to be a serious claim rather than mere abuse.

I am not too critical of the outcome for Mr Nolan, however. He should learn some manners and stop abusing people he disagrees with. He will now have learnt that lesson, I assume.  Users of foul language tend to reveal themselves as unpleasant people and Mr Nolan's employers would appear to have seen it that way. 

The amusing thing, however, is that they may have fallen foul of Australia's unfair dismissal laws.  Firing a man for a single offence without warning is not normally allowed.  If he puts in a claim Mr Nolan might end up a few thousand dollars in front.

I don't think Ms Ford is beyond criticism in the matter, however. I think feminists are insane.  Any claim that there are no significant inborn differences between men and women betrays a severe lack of reality contact. And a lack of reality contact is the defining feature of insanity. 

So if Ms Ford is a feminist in that sense, I claim that she is insane.  Is that as bad as calling her a slut?  Rather worse, I suspect.  But it is a serious and reasoned claim by a Ph.D. psychologist with extensive academic publications on mental health issues so it will be amusing if Ms Ford takes issue with it. If she does not however she would appear to have let the claim stand.

We are often told that fat is a feminist issue too so how is it that the pictures of her in the newspapers show a slim person (as far as we can tell) when her appearances on TV show a woman who is -- dare I say it?  -- FAT.  That seems to me to show a certain hypocrisy

A SYDNEY man as been fired from his job as a hotel manager after calling popular feminist writer and commentator Clementine Ford a ‘sl**’ on Facebook. On Friday, Ms Ford shared a screenshot of her interaction with Michael Nolan with her 80,000 Facebook followers and tagged Mr Nolan’s employer Meriton Apartments in the post.

“I wonder if the folks over at Meriton Apartments are aware that a man listing himself as a supervisor for their business likes to leave comments on women’s Facebook pages calling them sl**s. I wonder if they are also aware that he is a racist,” she wrote. Mr Nolan has posted several racist jokes and memes on his personal Facebook page.

In a statement to Ms Ford, Meriton Apartments said they do not condone Mr Nolan’s behaviour and he has since been let go from his job. “Michael Nolan was removed from the Meriton site on Saturday 28th November pending an investigation, and as of 2:30pm today 30th November 2015, he no longer works for the Meriton Group,” the statement read.

Ms Ford hit back against those who criticised her for getting Mr Nolan fired.  'To anyone who suggests I have caused a man to lose his job, I’d like to say this: He is responsible for his actions. He is responsible for the things he writes and the attitudes he holds. “It is not my responsibility to hold his hand and coddle him when he behaves in an abusive manner just because it might have consequences for him.


Paris climate talks: As world leaders open UN COP21 summit, Malcolm Turnbull rejects fossil fuel pledge

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull won’t sign an international agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies amid concerns voiced by Nationals MPs it could jeopardise Australia’s diesel fuel rebates.

Mr Turnbull has opted out of signing the key fossil fuel subsidy reform communiqué at the international United Nations climate summit COP21 in Paris, a government spokeswoman confirmed.

The call to phase out the subsidies is being labelled the “missing piece of the climate change puzzle” and is led by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

More than 30 countries and hundreds of businesses have signed the communiqué calling for the ultimate elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, saying the cost should reflect both environmental costs and supply costs.

“The majority of fossil-fuel subsidies are also socially regressive, with benefits disproportionately skewed toward middle-and upper-middle income households,” the communiqué states. A partial phase out could generate 12 per cent of the emissions reduction needed by 2020 to be on the path towards limiting global warming to two degrees, it says.

However, Mr Turnbull won’t bow to international pressure and join the call after MPs back home raised concerns the agreement could harm diesel subsidies claimed by farmers and miners.

National’s MP George Christensen took to Twitter to vent his anger, saying the end of the rebate would cost jobs.

The Australian Conservation Foundation labelled the communiqué an early test for Australia at the major climate change conference.

“The diesel rebate is notorious because it means while Australian motorists pay 38 cents in tax on every litre of fuel they buy, some of the world’s biggest mining companies pay not a single cent in tax for the diesel they use in their mining operations,” foundation economist Matthew Rose said.

But National’s MP Barnaby Joyce maintains the diesel fuel rebate is not a subsidy. “Farmers and miners don’t use public roads, so why should they pay a public road tax?” he told the Australian newspaper.

The G20 and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group agreed to phase out inefficient fuel subsidies in 2009.


Paris climate summit: US hard line opens split on carbon

Deep divisions resurfaced ahead of last night’s opening of the Paris climate talks, with the US and Australia digging in to insist that developed nations’ historical responsibilities for carbon dioxide emissions be scrapped.

The issue has been a “red line” for developing nations led by India, which is pushing ahead with economic development to bring millions of people out of poverty.

A change to how historical carbon emissions are treated would require India and other nations to contribute more to future emissions cuts and climate finance.

A confidential “non-paper” discussion document issued by the US sets out the hard line that the US and Australia intend to take in the Paris talks.

Together with more than 100 world leaders, Malcolm Turnbull was due to address the Paris conference to outline Australia’s position early today.

Australia has pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by ­between 26 and 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The Prime Minister has said tougher cuts may be possible in future and has supported a UN process under which country pledges are reviewed every five years and progressively tougher measures agreed.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said he believes a deal is possible in Paris. “It won’t be a perfect outcome but I think it will be a critical outcome and it will be a success,” Mr Hunt said.

Big differences remain over whether a Paris agreement should be legally binding and how it will deal with the issues of historical ­responsibility for carbon dioxide emissions and who should fund and administer a $100 billion-a-year fund.

Underlining one of the major challenges to reaching a universal deal, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned last night that poor nations had a right to burn carbon to grow their economies.

Chinese intransigence on the issue of historical responsibility was largely blamed for the breakdown of the 2009 UN climate change talks in Copenhagen.

The US discussion paper brought the most contentious ­issues to the surface on day one.

At the previous round of ­climate talks in Bonn, Germany, last month, negotiators representing 80 per cent of the world’s population walked out when references to historical responsibilities were left out of the negotiating text.

They were subsequently ­reinstated, more than doubling the size of the text that has now made its way to Paris.

Leaking of the confidential US discussion paper has caused a ­furore in India, which has made keeping the issue of historical ­responsibility on global carbon ­dioxide emissions a condition of its agreement at the Paris talks.

US President Barack Obama and Mr Modi were due to share the stage at the opening ceremony of the Paris conference to announce new measures on ­research and development.

Behind the scenes, negotiators face significant hurdles in finalising a Paris text. A report in India’s Business Standard said that in the US discussion paper, the US said it wanted each country’s greenhouse gas reduction pled­ges determined independently by each nation rather than through a process of international negotiation.

The report said any move to remove the wall of differentiation between developed and developing countries would end any ­notion of historical responsibility.

The US position paper also wants developing countries to contribute to the climate funds in future and not just the developed countries as is required under ­existing UN arrangements.

Mr Modi issued his challenge as the 12-day conference opened.  “Justice demands that, with what little carbon we can still safely burn, developing countries are allowed to grow,” he wrote in the Financial Times. “The lifestyles of a few must not crowd out opportunities for the many still on the first steps of the development ladder.”

A spokesman for the ­Department of Foreign Affairs said Australia was aware of the US discussion paper.

“Like the US, we want a common platform for all countries to take action from 2020, moving past binary differentiation between developed and developing countries, and allowing for continuous improvement over time.”

In India, the US and Australian position is considered against the spirit of the UN negotiations. The existing UN convention distributes the burden of emissions reduction and other actions based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities, respective capabilities and national circumstances”.

Maintaining this position was fundamental to India agreeing to the Paris round talks. India claims it is not responsible for historical emissions and therefore should not be penalised in efforts to develop and alleviate poverty.

The US and Australia now wants the Paris agreement to focus only on existing economic capabilities of countries and their existing circumstances.


Around 1 in 10 teaching students fail trial numeracy, literacy exam

It's mainly desperates who would want to teach in Australia's chaotic State schools -- and you can't expect much of desperates.  The States would have to get a handle on classroom discipline if better quality candidates are to be attracted to teaching 

About 10 per cent of teaching students failed to meet required standards of literacy and numeracy, results from a trial exam show.

About 5,000 students sat the test, which is designed to ensure teaching graduates are in the top 30 per cent of Australians when it comes to literacy and numeracy.

Of the students who took part, 92 per cent passed the literacy test and 90 per cent passed the numeracy test.

The testing was conducted in capital cities, as well as in Albury in New South Wales and Ballarat in Victoria.

If the results from the pilot study were replicated nationally, potentially 1,800 teaching graduates last year would have failed to make the grade.

The test will be mandatory from July next year and students will have to pass before they can graduate and go on to work in a classroom.

The Australian Education Union said the results showed a need for a minimum entry requirements for teaching courses.

Union president Correna Haythorpe said the Federal Government should focus on how students are selected for teaching training.

"We have had concerns for a number of years that entry standards for teaching courses are too low," she said.

"Students need to be identified and supported at the beginning of their teaching course, not find out at the end that they have not made the grade.

"We believe if the Government is serious about attracting the top 30 per cent, then they need to ensure minimum entry standards apply at the beginning of a teaching course."

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the findings justified the Government's focus on teacher quality.

"Parents, principals, all stakeholders in school education should have complete confidence that graduates from our universities with teaching qualifications are among some of the best and brightest in the land," Senator Birmingham said.

"We are really putting it on the universities who are training our teachers to make sure they have confidence in the capabilities of teachers before they graduate.

"It's quite fair and reasonable that universities — as the providers of teaching graduates — should be providing teaching graduates that are of the highest possible standard."

From next year, it will be up to universities to decide whether to set the test as an entry requirement or to provide it during teaching training.


1 December, 2015

Leftist moral blindness rolls on at New Matilda

Lissa Johnson, the tame psychologist at New Matilda, ignores most of the facts in her latest essay.  Someone has criticized her writing without getting to the heart of what she gets wrong so she gives a rather supercilious reply.  I excerpt the introduction to it below.  The last paragraph below encapsulates what she refuses to see and it doesn't get better from there on.  She deplores the Islamist attacks in Paris but adds:

"Our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples"

Get it?  American attacks ON terrorists are as bad as attacks BY terrorists!

To adapt a saying by Mao, terrorists are fish that swim in the sea of the people so they are hard to kill without killing bystanders.  But we have to kill them before they kill others.  And the solution to that dilemma adopted by the American forces has been a very consistent one.  The Obama administration has been most careful in vetoing strikes where there is a likelihood of civilian casualties involved.  On some accounts two out of three target requests from the military are turned down.

The information available to U.S. military planners is of course not always perfect so some civilian casualties do occur.  The only way of totally avoiding civilian casualties would be to do nothing and let the terrorists continue on in their murderous ways. I guess that's what Lissa Johnson wants.

And American caution is not a recent development, the "JAGs" were regularly a great problem for American military men on the ground in Afghanistan.  Has Lissa ever heard of the JAGs?  If so, she promptly forgot it.  JAG stands for the Judge Advocate General's Corps, a branch of the U.S. military that aims to keep the actions of U.S. troops ethical and legal.  And in JAG guidelines, killing civilians is NOT legal. So in Afghanistan they refused many targeting requests on terrorists because it was not totally clear that they were terrorists -- sometimes leading to loss of life among American troops.

So our Lissa sees no difference between the actions of an armed force that goes out of its way to AVOID civilian casualties and an armed group who deliberately aim to INFLICT civilian casualties. Can there be bigger ethical blindness that that?  I can't see it.  She is not so much a disgrace as a pathetic Leftist fraud

I have recently been asked by news website the Tasmanian Times to respond to an article by freelance journalist Shane Humpherys, critiquing my analysis of the psychology behind the tragic Paris attacks.

Given that replying offers the opportunity of a case study in the psychology of systemic violence, and the metaphorical head-kicking that can come from challenging the status quo, I thought it was worthwhile providing a response.

My initial article outlined the shared psychological foundations – and human cost – of all intergroup violence, state-sanctioned or not. One main point was that victims of Western violence are just as human, just as dead or injured, and their families just as bereaved as victims of terrorist attacks.

I argued that if the Paris attacks are to be an attack on all humanity, then our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples.


Turnbull government wants power to make internet companies do 'things' for national security

This is dangerous legislation. The powers it gives could fall into the hands of a future Leftist government and be used to censor criticism of that government

The Turnbull government is aiming to pass controversial new laws by 2016 that will give Attorney-General Senator George Brandis unprecedented powers to make phone and internet companies do unspecified "things" if he believes they are hindering national security.

Senator Brandis and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield on Friday afternoon released the second draft of the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR) Amendment Bill, which is designed to stop spies and criminals from using equipment and services to hack into telecommunications network.

But industry sources are worried the bill also gives sweeping and unspecified powers to the Attorney-General to force phone and internet providers such as Telstra and Optus to do whatever the government of the day wants.

"The Attorney-General will be provided with an additional directions power to direct a [telco] to do or not do a specified thing," the bill's explanatory memorandum says. "The types of things the Attorney-General can direct a [telco] to do or not do are not specified or limited, with the exception of the limitation imposed in section 313B.

"Section 315B provides the Attorney-General with the option to give a written direction requiring a [telco] to do, or refrain from doing, a specified act or thing within the period specified in the direction."

Under the current laws, the Attorney-General can already shut down any service that causes or helps acts that hurt Australia's national security.

But the new overarching laws add more layers of nuance to the off-switch, potentially affecting everything from the equipment being bought by telcos to the executives they hire and everything in-between.

This means Telstra could be ordered to stop buying network equipment from certain Israeli or Chinese vendors if ASIO, with the support of the Attorney-General, decided they were potential security threats. Companies failing to obey would face fines of up to $10 million.

The original version of the bill raised the ire of telcos who warned that stopping vendors from certain countries could limit the pool of potential suppliers and jack up the price of equipment.

As first revealed by Fairfax Media in July, tech and telco giants alike united against the bill, which they described as "regulatory over-reach".

But the bill does come with fresh safeguards, which the government believes will prevent any abuse of power.

The Attorney-General will have to speak with the Communications Minister and negotiate with the telco affected before going ahead with the action. They will also have to work out the potential financial cost of the actions and face the potential of merit reviews.

"The intention is that government agencies and [telcos] continue to operate in the current environment of co-operative engagement," it says. "If national security outcomes cannot be achieved on a co-operative basis, the Attorney-General can consider requiring compliance through the issue of a formal direction."

The government recognises that its moves could raise the cost of doing business and go against the duty of publicly listed companies to do the best thing for their shareholders.

"Fiduciary duties to shareholders can operate as a disincentive to invest in security measures for the purpose of protecting national security interests," it says. "For these reasons, a company board may prefer a clear mandate to govern its decision making."

The Communications Alliance is the telecommunications industry's peak body and its chief executive John Stanton told Fairfax Media that his members were "still digesting" the revised draft bill.

"The amendments that have been made to the draft bill are reflective of the concerns that Communications Alliance and other stakeholders expressed about the original draft, and certainly represent a more balanced approach to meeting the objectives outlined by government," he says.

"Communications Alliance and our members will work through the detail and look forward to engaging with government and the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Intelligence and Security to make any further necessary refinements to the legislation."


Police prey on victims of domestic violence

Victorian police officers have been sexually preying on victims of domestic violence in a dramatic widening of the sexual harassment scandal facing the force.

A Fairfax Media investigation can also reveal that a soon-to-be-released report by the state's human rights agency has found that levels of harassment or discrimination inside the Victoria Police may be on par or worse than that previously discovered inside Australia's Defence Force.

It is understood the abuse or harassment of vulnerable victims of crime, including domestic violence victims, by a small number of police officers has been detected by the force's professional standards unit and Victoria's anti-corruption agency, IBAC. 

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was recently briefed on the issue and the force is considering announcing how it will deal with it when it responds in the next fortnight to the separate harassment and discrimination inquiry conducted by the Victoria's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The abuse of victims of crime involves a small number of police officers attempting to form sexual or social relationships with victims of domestic violence who the officers have met while investigating the victim's abuse.

The abuse of civilian victims of crime by police and the problem of sexual harassment and discrimination inside the force are viewed by senior police as over-lapping issues because they share a root cause - the abuse of power by some police to prey on, harass or discriminate against others. Those harassed or abused are mostly female and victims often do not formally report their abuse, believing it will not be taken seriously.

It is understood some of victims of crime have made initial complaints to the police's internal affairs unit about their alleged abuse or harassment by police, but have later decided not to press criminal charges or make a formal statement.

Police sources have described one of the perpetrators - a suburban officer who formed a sexual relationship with a domestic violence victim he met while on duty - as having repeatedly harassed female colleagues.

"He is a serial offender," said an official who had reviewed the case.

In response to questions about the abuse of vulnerable victims of crime, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said: "Any police member who exploits their position or takes advantage of a vulnerable person will be investigated by Professional Standards Command.

"We do not believe that this issue is widespread across the force. The majority of our officers joined the job because they want to help people.

"We encourage any person who feels that they have been mistreated by an officer to contact Professional Standards Command or IBAC. Protecting and supporting victims is an absolute focus for Victoria Police."

Sources close to Victoria's  Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission told Fairfax Media that senior police officers were recently briefed by the agency and warned that its findings were damning.

"It's going to be a sad day for the police force," a source said. "Some of the issues discovered are even worse than what was found in the ADF."   

Thousands of police officers have reported incidents of discrimination or harassment to  the commission when they filled out a survey sent to them as part of the agency's inquiry.

The  commission's inquiry was set up by former commissioner Ken Lay, who also formed a police taskforce, Salas, to investigate officers for abusing or harassing colleagues. Salas is investigating around 35 cases, including one historical allegation of rape.

 The commission's Victoria Police report has made some similar findings as the 2012 report by the national human rights commission into the Australian Defence Force.

The ADF report, which caused significant fall-out for the defence services, found an entrenched culture of discrimination against women. This culture also discouraged the reporting of sexual harassment.


"Paywave" problems: Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Why in 2015 are people still leaving valuables, including credit cards, unattended in their car?

Did anyone else cringe and shake their heads when WA's top cop Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan hit the front page wanting to ban "tap and go" credit cards, claiming the lack of security around the technology is helping fuel the state's rising crime problems?

Commissioner O'Callaghan says the tap-and-go or PayPass cards, which enable purchases up to $100 without a PIN, are highly sought-after by criminals and this was helping to explain why theft offences were soaring.

Why don't we put that another way? We have a cohort of Perth residents who simply lack common sense when it comes to leaving valuables, especially visible ones, in their cars after years and years of advice not to do so. 

We do indeed have a rising theft problem but experience tells us that many of these car break-ins are opportunistic crimes triggered at the spur of the moment when the thief spots a 'golden opportunity'.

How many times do people need to be told not to leave handbags or briefcases on front seats, not to leave car doors and windows unlocked, not to leave visible cash or coins in the console, not to leave sunglasses, not to leave their GPS visible, not to leave mobile phones, not to leave iPads or tablets in full view for thieves to spot and snatch?

Seriously, regardless of whether there is a current increase in the crime rate, for at least the last 20 years people have known not to leave belongings in their car to tempt passing criminals.

When you park in places like train station car parks, sadly, it is a fact of modern life that you do run the risk of your vehicle being broken into. But you also know that by not leaving things on the front or back seats in plain view to an opportunistic thief you are immediately minimising your risk of becoming another statistic.

Even if an offender does smash your window and search through your car they will leave empty-handed and disappointed. But more often than not, if they can't see any 'loot' to tempt them they will just move on.

The Commissioner's comments whipped up a week of media debate about which tap-and-go cards were more at risk, were they attached to credit or debit, whether or not a person's bank could disable the mechanism on the card and the usual range of conspiracy theories triggered whenever banks are in the news.

None of this should matter. The fact is, I don't know anyone who leaves a tap-and-go card by itself in a car in full view to passers-by. Most people would put these cards in their wallets or purses.

If someone is then silly enough to leave a wallet, purse or handbag in full view for a thief, then what on earth do they expect will happen?

Credit card fraud cost the banks nearly $400 million last year. However, that figure is quite low compared with the $650 billion spent by Australians on their cards.

While $400 million is indeed a huge amount, it needs to be put into perspective.

We are living in a society now that is always trying to find a myriad of excuses for things that simply don't deserve any excuses. 

If you do not know by now the common sense rules of life in not leaving your valuables in sight in your vehicle, then if you become a victim of car theft, then you only really have yourself to blame.

WA Police do not keep specific statistics on credit card fraud. The Australian Bankers Association denies there has been a significant increase in frauds linked to the tap and go technology.

PayPass cards are popular because consumers want the quick convenience of literally tapping and going.

Card providers also guarantee to fully reimburse their customers if they become victims of card fraud which increases the appeal of the cards but paradoxically this benefit may be encouraging people to not look after the card as well as they could.

We instinctively don't leave cash lying around. Years ago we were all told that when we got a cheque book we should treat it like cash and always protect it. The same message came with the advent of more traditional credit cards that required a signature which ironically back then at time of purchase was often not done properly anyway.

So why on earth are people leaving these tap-and-go cards all over the place and not treating them like cash, or cheque books or traditional credit cards?

Life is a risk but if you don't heed repeated warnings and choose to flout the well-known rules as if they don't apply to you then you are simply asking for trouble.

Most of us have been victims of theft at some stage of our lives, whether it be our own stupidity or not. I do share Commissioner O'Callaghan's concerns that just over 8,000 cars were broken into last month.

But he needs to call a spade a spade and banning tap-and-go is not the way to go. He needs to tell West Australians to stop being so naïve and slack and start taking more personal responsibility for many avoidable situations.

It is unfair to deny the vast majority the convenience of tap-and-go technology because of the slackness of a few people who won't accept responsibility for their actions and choose not to secure a valuable possession. 


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

A great Australian wit exemplified

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


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