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

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


29 February, 2016

Stupid school bullying policy

Self-defence not allowed!

JAMIESON Reid is a quiet, nine-year-old who keeps to himself and loves to bury his head in books.

On Tuesday he was involved in a shocking and unexpected incident while he was waiting in the school pick-up queue at Musgrave Hills State School in Queensland.

"This week I saw my small-for-his-age, book-loving nine-year-old son attacked by a much larger child," Jamieson’s mother Jessie told Kidspot. "The attacker quickly progressed from jostling to grabbing my son around the throat and holding his bag, stopping him from leaving to get in the car."

"As my husband and I watched in horror from our Tarago in the school pickup line, I saw my son yell ‘Let me go!’ – striking the attacker in an attempt to get away."

"And then I watched in absolute terror as my tiny son was punched in the head three times before a staff member removed the much larger boy."

The next day Jessie got a call from the school to say that her son, along with the other child involved in the altercation, had been suspended for two days.

The distraught mother says her son was the victim and doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. She says it’s proof that the blanket bullying policy in schools is making matters worse for the victims.

"When this ‘zero tolerance’ approach is applied as a blanket policy it is no longer a useful deterrent or a tool against bullying," she says. "It has crossed the line in victim blaming. It’s gone too far and our children are suffering because of school policy," she says.

But a Department of Education and Training spokesperson says the matter was dealt with according to the policy which clearly sets out expectations of student behaviour, and the consequences for students when these expectations are not met.

"The Musgrave Hill State School principal thoroughly investigated this matter. Consequently, the students involved were suspended in line with the school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students," the spokesperson said in a statement to Kidspot.

Oscar Yildiz, from Bully Zero Foundation Australia, also supports the policy stating that zero tolerance is the only way to go.  "If someone is hitting a child, they should move away immediately and get themselves out of danger," he tells Kidspot.

Jessie disagrees says ‘moving away’ wasn’t an option for her son. The older boy, she says, was holding him down. Blanket approaches like this, she says, "allows victims to be beaten if cornered."

The government’s very own Bullying No Way! website agrees with Jessie that a zero-tolerance approach to bullying is not necessarily effective.

One of many points stipulated under the heading "What we know doesn’t work" is – any form of zero tolerance and ‘get tough’ suspensions and exclusions.

Although Jamieson was told that he was not allowed to go to school for two days, his parents still decided to send him yesterday.

"The principal told us three times to pick him up but we said we wouldn’t pick him up because he wants to be at school," Jessie says.

"I shared my frustration and outright anger with my friends and discovered that this is a very common situation," Jessie says.

"One friend [whose child got in an altercation at school] said her son was told he shouldn’t have defended himself because his home life was more stable than his attackers," she says.

Jessie says that another friend pulled her children out of school and now teaches them at home because they were being reprimanded and punished when attacked by others.

She claims victim-blaming is rife at schools as she has gathered anecdotes from all over the country echoing similar experiences.

Jessie says the policy is teaching kids the wrong message.  "Teaching children that defending themselves when they have no other option is wrong and that doing so results in a severe punishment has far reaching implications," she says.

"We don’t teach sexual assault victims that defending themselves is wrong – in fact it is encouraged, why should victims of non-sexual assault be any different?

Jessie is calling on all parents to take a stand on behalf of their children about the blanket policy.

"Zero Tolerance needs re-examining. It doesn’t work in practice in our schools and our kids are suffering as a result. Is this happening at your school? Speak up," she implores.

"Tell the principal this is not OK. Tell the Education Department. Tell the Education Minister. Our kids are worth it."


Kids interests overboard in child protection debate

The AMA has been widely applauded for supporting calls to allow baby Asha to stay in Australia. However, what this latest episode in the highly-politicised debate about refugee children in detention shows is how some kinds of child abuse and its consequences are considered more important than other kinds of child abuse. The plight of refugee children receives the bulk of political attention from those in Australia who consider themselves humane and socially progressive, while comparatively little attention is given to the welfare of children who suffer abuse here.

What this dichotomy reflects is how comfortable or uncomfortable people are in talking about different problems and solutions for offshore child abuse, compared to domestic child abuse – possibly due to how this make people feel about themselves, and based on how politically fashionable discussing some kinds of child abuse is compared to different, politically unfashionable varieties of child maltreatment.

Hence the refugee lobby has often been accused of using children in detention as political pawns to promote quasi-open borders immigration policies. I have no doubt that refugee advocates hold sincere and well-founded concerns for the welfare of children detained in what they call ‘mental illness factories’ on Nauru and Manus Island.

But there is also a large group of children in Australia, numbering in the tens of thousands, who suffer from mental illnesses including depression, hyperactivity, ADHD, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual deviance, conduct disorder, aggression, delinquency, and poor peer relationships and social functioning.

These children are among the more than 43,000 children who live in state-funded foster care in Australia. Virtually all children who live in care have some level of so-called ‘high needs’, and suffer from a complex mix of these behavioural, emotional, health, social, educational and other psychological problems.

The cause of these children’s mental illness and other problems is that they have been severely damaged by Australia’s flawed child protection policies. Because state and territory child welfare authorities over-emphasise ‘family preservation’ at almost all costs, these children have been exposed to prolonged and highly-damaging abuse and neglect by dysfunctional parents.  When they have finally been removed as a last resort, many of these children have been further damaged by highly unstable foster care and repeat breakdowns of family reunifications.

Many of these children could have — and should have — been protected from the profound harm they have suffered in and out of care, had they been removed earlier and permanently from their families, and been adopted by a safe and stable family. Yet adoption is almost non-existent in Australia because it is considered a taboo and socially unacceptable practice. Hence there were only 89 children adopted from care nationally last year.

While there are loud and persistent cries to free kids from detention, there is no campaign by human rights activists to free kids from this destructive cycle of maltreatment and instability. The explanation for this is cultural. Human nature means that most people tend to prefer to take so-called brave stands on popular issues rather than unpopular ones. Hence, many people prefer to support only those causes the prevailing culture rewards them for endorsing, based on how these choices affect their social standing and self-perception.

If you support closing detention ‘camps’, you will be lauded a social justice warrior. If you support adoption, however, you will find yourself marginalised as a conservative throwback to the era of forced adoption and the stolen generation. Hence adoption is not well supported among members of the political class especially, due to status anxiety — the fear that by endorsing adoption they will forfeit any claim to being considered socially progressive. Hence in the public debate, or lack thereof, about child protection policy, what is best for adults takes priority over what is best for the victims of child abuse.

The Australian of the Year, General David Morrison won great acclaim from those who consider themselves socially aware by promising to take up the fight against the racial and gender discrimination that he claims are the greatest barriers to equality in Australia. Imagine, though, how different the reaction might have been had Morrison’s equality agenda highlighted the need for more adoptions to tackle the national child abuse problems that are a major cause of the gross and life-long social inequalities that keep child abuse victims on the bottom rungs of society.

Australian child welfare laws state that the best interests of children are paramount. Yet family preservation-focused practices make a lie of these laws, and adoption remains a largely taboo political subject because this so-called ‘conservative’ cause does not suit the interests of status-conscious adults. For so long as the needs of adults come first, and the needs of kids come last, thousands of Australian children will continue to be churned through the mental illness factories that are child protection systems in this country.


Stolen Generations taboo harms Indigenous children

Alan Jones may have broken a taboo and outraged some with his comments about the Stolen Generations. But all the broadcaster was saying was repeating what many critics of indigenous child protection policies — Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike — have also claimed: that efforts to deal with the legacy of the Stolen Generations can get in the way of rescuing children in the most disadvantaged communities in the nation.

An insight into the harm done to children by this reluctance to remove is offered by the 2012 death of four year-old Aboriginal girl Kia Shillingsworth at Brewarrina Hospital from acute rheumatic pancarditis complicated by viral pneumonia. Or, as the coroner put it in the inquest report handed down in September last year, Kia died "like too many others in remote Aboriginal communities … of a disease of poverty at an early age."

If how Kia died wasn’t shocking enough, even more appalling were the circumstances in which she lived her short life. Not surprisingly, Kia was a ‘known’ child. The NSW Department of Family and Community Services received reports expressing concern for Kia’s welfare, which detailed the usual litany of indigenous child welfare issues — physical and medical neglect, overcrowding in the family home, and inadequate supervision.

The long history of reports, combined with the medical evidence cataloguing her many throat infections and skin infections (boils, ulcers, abscesses and cellulitis) that almost certainly caused her fatal rheumatic heart disease, defied the family’s description of Kia as a "very happy, healthy and active girl". Kia died because of the gross neglect she suffered and from which she was not saved.

Despite receiving four reports of neglect in 2012 alone about Kia and her family, FACS did not conduct an investigation to check on her and her siblings’ welfare. The coroner partly attributed this "wholly inadequate response" to staffing issues and inexperienced social workers operating in a remote, disadvantaged location.

But more revealing was evidence that FACS social workers actually tolerated the unacceptably poor living conditions of many children in remote communities — an attitude described as having grown "desensitised to the risk" due to the "extensiveness of the medical neglect or intergenerational abuse within those communities". But these rationalisations are mutually exclusive; and the real question is why social workers would ignore overwhelming evidence of child neglect.

The answer is that many indigenous children suffer gross neglect — in plain sight of the authorities who are meant to protect them — because of what social workers have been taught about how they should deal with the legacy of the Stolen Generations. The ‘culturally aware’ approach they have been encouraged to adopt towards indigenous child protection encourages them to minimise the threats to children’s welfare to avoid having to remove those children.

These attitudes can be traced back to the influence of the 1996 Bringing Them Home ‘Stolen Generations’ report of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The report claimed that racism had motivated the removal of Aboriginal children throughout the twentieth century because white, western, and culturally arrogant social workers had failed to properly understand Aboriginal culture. Because Aboriginal family practices, such as lax parental supervision, differed from the mainstream definition of the normal nuclear family, these practices had been labeled as neglectful and served as grounds for child removal.

The follow-up claim that cultural bias lay behind the continuing high levels of indigenous child removal downplayed the dysfunctionality in remote communities. Nevertheless, the Bringing Them Home analysis has had a lasting impact on the way social workers are urged to think about child protection matters involving indigenous children.

The 2007 Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW warned that social workers "raised in Anglo-Celtic society may find it difficult to understand … the complexity of Aboriginal family and kinship relationship that are important for a child, and for making decisions about where the child should live, if he or she cannot live with parents."

Such teachings have created powerful reasons why social workers might seek to explain away the problem of child neglect, and would prefer to view the evidence of this as somehow an expression of the uniqueness of Aboriginal culture deserving of respect. Not only does this allow for hard decisions about ‘stealing’ children to be dodged; it also prevents being perceived as culturally insensitive at best, or branded racist at worst. The outcome, though, is that indigenous children are left in circumstances from which they should be removed.

Alan Jones irritates many by saying things that many people don’t want to hear. But he has expressed an uncomfortable truth about the role the legacy of the Stolen Generations plays in the perpetuation of indigenous child abuse. Rethinking how we deal with that legacy needs to be the twenty-first century version of the "whispering in our hearts", if we are to properly address indigenous disadvantage and suffering.


Shocking video emerges of police officer 'punching a man in the face' after three officers tackled him to the ground - as onlookers scream in horror

Shocking footage has emerged appearing to show a violent arrest by police where a man is held down and repeatedly punched in the head.

The video was recorded on Valentine's Day in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast in Queensland, and shows a man with his hands in his pockets being pushed to the ground, pinned down, and then elbowed and hit by police officers.

Women can be heard screaming  in horror as the graphic incident unfolds and leaves the man spitting blood onto the footpath.

The man being punched tells people to record the incident and the person filming reassures him they have captured the incident on camera.

The man at the centre of the video will appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on Friday, and intends to plead not guilty to charges of assault, obstructing police and public nuisance, according to 7 News.

A Queensland Police Spokesman told Daily Mail Australia police were conducting inquiries into the incident, but could not comment further.

No formal complaint has been laid over the incident, which some have labelled as evidence of police brutality in the Gold Coast

The man, a 21-year-old, had been at a 21st birthday party when a group he was with were stopped by police, The Courier Mail reported.

His relative was arrested, prompting him to ask what would happen or where he would be taken, according to reports.

When he gave police his name - Paul Folasa, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin - at their request, the officers responded angrily, friends claimed.

A relative and a friend of the 21-year-old Folasa, from Woolridge, QLD, will also appear in court in Southport on Friday.

Their lawyer reportedly intends to seek an adjournment so discussions with police can take place


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here

28 February, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is depressed about both the Australian and U.S. news.

He is still recovering from a major operation so this is his first pic for a while

Only the 5th Warmest.  How disappointing!

Australia's Warmists are spinning like a top in the article excerpted below.  The official figures show that 2015 was only the 5th warmest year for Australia:  There were 4 previous years that were hotter -- not moving in the right direction at all! And  temperatures have been reducing, coming off a record peak in 2013 -- all of which is not NEARLY as much fun as NOAA's global figures.

So what to do?  How to keep the scare up?  They have gratefully seized on the latest bit of modelling, with its dire predictions: "climate scientists are predicting". Never mind that the climate models have never made an accurate prediction yet!

IT’S been a sticky old week across southern Australia with the mercury topping 41C in the west of Sydney and severe heatwaves in parts of New South Wales and northern Western Australia.

But far from being an unusual occurrence, climate scientists are predicting heatwaves globally are on the rise with extreme heat events, which previously only occurred "once in a generation", could happen every year.

And that means more than just some extra days at the beach, with predictions of more bushfires, stretched emergency services and severe impacts to farmers and food production.

In a paper published in the journal Climatic Change, researchers found heatwaves only experienced once in every 20 years could, in years to come, happen every year in some places. By 2075, 60 per cent of the Earth’s land mass could see these extreme heat events annually or even more frequently.

By 2050, heatwaves could be three degrees warmer across half the world and across 10 per cent of the Earth’s surface a scorching five degrees hotter.

According to the BoM’s annual climate statement, 2015 was Australia’s fifth warmest year on record with temperatures 0.83C above average and exceptionally warm spells including heatwaves across north and central Australia in March and south and south eastern Australia in the latter part of the year.

Heatwave conditions in Australia are defined by three days of unusually hot minimum and maximum temperatures for any given area.

However, the pattern of heatwaves wasn’t uniform, said Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick. Sydney had seen its heatwave season kicking in three weeks earlier, as had Melbourne — although the latter hadn’t seen an overall increase in the number of days experiencing extreme heat.

While 2015 was one of Australia’s hottest years on record, overall temperatures have been reducing, coming off a record peak in 2013. Aren’t things going in the right direction already?


People too scared to speak about issues: John Howard

John Howard has sounded an alarm about the culture war in Australia — warning that people are being "cowed" against stating their views on issues and that a dangerous anti-religious push has emerged — and branded as "pernicious­" the Victorian government’s hostility to religious connections in schools.

Mr Howard said there was a "get Pell" mentality in "some sections of the media", referring to Cardinal George Pell, who is about to answer questions before the child sex abuse royal commission and has been the subject of allegations of sex abuse by material coming from Victoria Police.

In relation to gay marriage, Mr Howard said: "There is nothing homophobic about supporting traditional marriage. Everybody did in the parliament in 2004.

"May I remind you that in 2004, when I inserted the defin­ition in the Marriage Act, the Labor Party supported it. You ought to be able to have sensible discussion on these sorts of things. And you should be able to express a view on these things. But there is a sense in which people are so frightened of being accused of being discriminatory or intolerant that they don’t speak the common­sense view."

Mr Howard said the standards of civil society in Australia were being undermined by a growing intolerance towards people who did not subscribe to a range of progressive views.

"I think the problem is that too few people are prepared to call it for what it is," he said. "I think people are cowed because they think, ‘I can’t say that because I might lose votes or I might offend somebody’."

He said there was a new form of "minority fundamentalism" emerging, typified by the use of the anti-discrimination law in Tasmania to silence the Catholic Church from stating its position on marriage.

Having read the document issued by the Catholic bishops, Mr Howard said: "How anyone can read that as offensive to people who favour same-sex marriage or gay or lesbian people is beyond me."

He said the situation in Victoria under new guidelines for religious instruction was that "from now on you can sing Jingle Bells in schools but not Once in Royal David’s City or Silent Night".

"This is pernicious," he said. "I’m surprised there hasn’t been a greater outcry about it. Nobody is forced to believe in God. Nobody’s forced to follow Christianity. The observance of Christmas and all that goes with it is part of our culture. I must say I have never come across a person of the Jewish faith or of the Muslim faith who has complained that they have had Christianity forced upon them."

Warning that such cultural intolerance would provoke a backlash, Mr Howard said one of the reasons Donald Trump was succeeding in the Republican primaries was that people felt he was speaking directly to them and shunning any political correctness.

While saying he "would tremble at the idea of Trump being President of the US", Mr Howard said the Republican frontrunner was benefiting because other politicians refused to acknowledge public resentments. While he found some of Mr Trump’s comments "appalling", his success was "a measure of how people feel".

These comments recall his performance as prime minister when Mr Howard campaigned against political correctness, resisted the idea of a superior morality on the part of elites and had to manage the rise of Pauline Hanson, who exploited economic grievances.

Mr Howard expressed disappointment that the Abbott government had abandoned its proposed free speech changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act after winning an election mandate on the issue. He said it was probably only with the Andrew Bolt case that people realised the application of this provision "was as spiteful as it turned out to be".

Branding the climate of repression as "pernicious", Mr Howard said there was "almost a fear" among people to articulate the views he was expressing because of concern they would "offend our multicultural ethos" or be "branded as intolerant".

He said the Catholic Church as an institution had to be held to account for its cover-ups on child sexual abuse, given the number of priests who had been involved. But Mr Howard said: "It seems as if Cardinal Pell is being singled out to take the rap for the misdeeds of a whole lot of people and the evidence is that he was more active in trying to do something about it."

He highlighted the fact one of Cardinal Pell’s critics, Father Frank Brennan, had recently warned of the need to ensure that Cardinal Pell, as a witness before the royal commission, was treated with integrity. Father Brennan said after the recent leaks of material originating from Victoria Police that the standing of the royal commission was an issue if one arm of a government involved in its commissioning was "engaged in unauthorised activity aimed at undermining the public standing of key witnesses".

On same-sex marriage, Mr Howard said he would not have chosen a plebiscite. He felt the issue should be decided in parliament by a free vote. But, given the Abbott government had decided on the plebiscite path, the Turnbull government "had to honour that commitment".

He said any authorisation of same-sex marriage had to contain religious freedom protections.

Reviewing the alienation of the public from the US political process, Mr Howard identified two fundamental differences between Australia and the US: Australia did not suffer the debilitating consequences of a constitutional bill of rights and the middle class had been supported by sustained real wage gains over recent decades, unlike the US. While warning that there were "sufficient similarities" between the two countries to make alienation from politics in this country a real risk, Mr Howard said Australia enjoyed distinct advantages.

"If I were an American, I would feel that it didn’t matter who you voted for because essentially the people you vote for can’t do anything, with gay marriage and Obamacare being decided by the courts," he said.

"I have never embraced the idea that judges have infinitely more wisdom in making decisions about the social and economic future of the country than the rest of the population. One of the reasons some of these social issues are so hotly contested in the United States is that people don’t think they have been allowed to have their say.

"I would be very concerned if we went down the American path and we gave to judges a power to determine these things."


Advertisements must not include attractive women

AUSTRALIAN TV personality and former Test cricketer Mike Whitney has made for some awkward advertising in a new commercial for the Gold Coast Sixes cricket.

The ad features Whitney between two bikini clad women on the sand of a Gold Coast beach, advertising a long weekend cricket tournament set for the June long weekend later this year.

The online ad was shot on a Gold Coast Beach, with many calling the clip "cheap and tacky" or ‘degrading.’

The ad, which has sparked ‘sexism’ backlash, talks about the tournament which will cost $449 per person and include $900 worth of parties, drinks, meals and cricket gear. There will be free beer for the skipper and a chance to win $100,000.

"This is not just a cricket tournament — it’s a three day, four night carnival held up here on the Gold Coast," Mr Whitney says to the camera while standing between two bikini clad women.

"I’ll be here, the girls will be here and were looking forward to welcoming you," he says as the models wave to the camera.

The Gold Coast Sixes claims to be the ‘best 3-day, 4-night, 6-a-side cricket carnival on the planet.’

"I’m really proud to be the ambassador for the Gold Coast Sixes," Whitney went on to say in the ad.

"You’re going to be sick of winter, you’re going to need a cricket fix and you’re going to need an excuse to get the boys together for that end of season cricket trip like none other."

The two women then take over the advertisement, revealing what people will get if they attend the cricket tournament.

‘Hi boys, we girls are so looking forward to meeting and greeting you here on the Gold Coast,’ the brunette woman in the pink bikini says to the camera.

"Our gorgeous staff will be at the airport to pick you up at the carnival every day and at the cocktail party and dinner," she smiles.

The brunette and her friend then walk off down the beach together to close the minute long advertisement.

The Gold Coast Sixes tournament is set to be held on the Queens Birthday June long weekend later this year.

Teams from around Australia and overseas will take part in three days of six-a-side cricket and four nights partying in Surfers Paradise.

Former Test cricketer and Who Dares Wins host Mike Whitney is the ambassador of the tournament.


Medical marijuana is now legal in Australia

The Australian parliament passed new national laws today paving the way for the use of medicinal cannabis by people with painful and chronic illness.

Amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act permit both legally-grown cannabis for the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia. The changes, proposed earlier this month by the Turnbull government, had bi-partisan support.

Recreational cannabis cultivation and use remains illegal with state-based criminal laws still in place.

Health minister Sussan Ley said it was an historic day for the nation and the people who "fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals".

"This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy," she said

Under the new federal scheme, patients with a valid prescription can possess and use medicinal cannabis products manufactured from cannabis legally cultivated in Australia, provided the supply has been authorised under the Therapeutic Goods Act and relevant state and territory legislation. The changes put medical cannabis in the same category as restricted medicinal drugs such as morphine.

The Victorian government announcement last year that it will legalise the drug for medical use in 2017. NSW is also currently conducting trials into a cannabis-based drug, Epidolex, with a focus on children with epilepsy, and leading the state-based focus on medical marijuana.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is due to hand down its interim decision on scheduling cannabis for medicinal purposes next month. The minister said an independent Advisory Committee will be set up to oversee the next stage of the rollout of a national regulator for medicinal cannabis.

"A national regulator will allow the government to closely track the development of cannabis products for medicinal use from cultivation to supply and curtail any attempts by criminals to get involved," Ms Ley said.

The national scheme is good news for a range of companies currently vying for a slice of the lucrative market. Medicinal cannabis business MGC Pharmaceuticals, listed on the ASX via a reverse takeover of Perth-based resources business yesterday, saw its share price jump on opening, and rise another 27% today to $0.33.

The business is working with the University of Sydney’s business school to develop a federal government white paper on creating a medical cannabis industry. MGC Pharmaceuticals is currently building a cultivation and extraction plant in Slovenia.

Meanwhile, ASX-listed Medlab Clinical is currently conducting research in Sydney for the NSW Government.


Former CFMEU official Fihi Kivalu to plead guilty to blackmail charges in Canberra

A former construction union official arrested in dramatic circumstances during the trade union royal commission hearings in Canberra will plead guilty to blackmail charges.

Former ACT Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) official Fihi Kivalu, 39, was arrested in July last year after evidence from formwork contractor Elias Taleb.

Mr Taleb told the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption that Kivalu accepted $135,000 from him in instalments, for access to the Canberra construction market.

Kivalu admitted to the corruption inquiry that he accepted only $60,000 from Mr Taleb using it to play the pokies.

But he denied allegations that he hired a debt collector to chase Mr Taleb.

Initially Kivalu pleaded not guilty to blackmail charges and was committed for trial last year.

But today his lawyer told the ACT Supreme Court he was planning to change the plea.

Kivalu will be arraigned next month, with sentencing planned for May.


26 February, 2016

Queensland property manager slammed over email critical of homosexuality

Under attack for voicing views that were normal up until a few decades ago.  Sodomy was illegal in Queensland up until 1990

A QUEENSLAND real estate agent has come under fire after an email about the ‘Safe Schools’ program drew widespread condemnation.

Sunstate Property Group Principal Denis Mulheron penned the email voicing his concerns about the program, which is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect for gay, intersex and gender-diverse students.

"Do you not inderstand this is how poofters and dykes kept bringing vunarable young children into there unnatural way of life (sic)," Mulheron started his email.

"They should seek a cure for their mental illness poofterism should still be illegal a man sticks his **** in another mans ass (sic)," he added.

Since being uploaded on Twitter, the email has drawn widespread condemnation on social media with dozens taking to the Sunstate Property Group’s Facebook page.

"Just so y’all know Denis is the president of the property group, it’ll be more effective to demand that he steps down than to demand he get fired," one user wrote.

"Would never buy a property through somebody as hateful and homophobic as Mr Denis Mulheron who posted this bile on Twitter.

"What a repulsive individual. I have retweeted his poison so that other more thinking people can similarly boycott.  "Bad look Sunstate. Really bad," another added.

When contacted by News Corp Australia, Mulheron said he stands by his words.  "I don’t believe this should be taught in schools, we are just going mad."

When questioned if he had seen the backlash on his company’s Facebook page he said: "I don’t know how to get online. "So what, I’m out of there in 10 days."

Mulheron told News Corp Australia that he has sold Sunstate Property Group and will retire at the end of next week.


"Safe Schools" 'terrible, focused on homosexual issues', Labor senator Joe Bullock says

Divisions have emerged within the Labor Party over the Safe Schools program, with one senator calling for the program to be suspended amid a Government review.

The taxpayer-funded program, aimed at helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI) school students, is under review after a number of Coalition MPs expressed concerns.

Labor has been vocal in its support for the program, but Western Australian senator Joe Bullock has since called for the program to be "immediately stopped".

Senator Bullock told News Corp it was a terrible program. "This program is so narrowly focused on homosexual issues that it doesn't provide the sort of balance one would hope," he said.

Labor's leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, has criticised her colleague over his comments. "I don't agree with Joe and the Labor Party doesn't agree with Joe," Senator Wong told the ABC.

"This is a party, this is a Labor program that we funded in government.  "It is a program that is designed to address terrifying statistics of self-harm, of abuse, of discrimination."

Senator Wong's comments follow a heated exchange between Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the primary agitator for a review, Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.

Senator Bernardi has called on the Government to withdraw funding for the program, which he said was indoctrinating students.

He has faced criticism from Labor over his remarks and on Wednesday interjected while Mr Shorten was addressing media on the issue. Senator Bernardi stated: "At least I'm honest, Bill."

Mr Shorten responded by saying: "At least I'm not a homophobe."

The Labor leader stood by his comments today, saying he did "in five seconds what Malcolm Turnbull hasn't done in five months".

When asked if he regretted his language, he responded that he regretted the time spent debating the issue. "You have a senator walking past, acting like he is at the football, yelling out free advice at a press conference, and he has a sook about someone standing up to him," Mr Shorten said.


A very grim report card for Muslim schools management

Something rotten is happening at our Muslim schools. Over the past six years, hand-wringing bureaucrats, politicians and a media scared of the label "Islamophobic" have allowed the parasite of institutional corruption to slowly take over its host.

It’s a state of affairs that in two months could prompt chaos: a major high school forced to shut, with the education of its 2400 students thrown into turmoil.

Muslim schools are big business and they are booming. Islamic colleges are the fastest growing schools, with enrolments increasing at a clip nine times faster than their mainstream counterparts. Between 2009 and 2014, Muslim students surged from 15,503 at 32 schools to 28,267 attending 39 schools — an increase of 82 per cent. In contrast, enrolments at all schools grew by just 6 per cent over the same period, to 3.7 million.

There are six schools controlled by Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. They received $42 million from taxpayers in 2013, plus $21.5m for new buildings and other capital works between 2009 and 2013. In 2014 and 2015 this will be at least $45m.

The largest is Malek Fahd Islamic School based in Greenacre in Sydney’s southwest, with 2400 students across three campuses.

The school was due to receive $20m in commonwealth funding this year. But it won’t. Federal education minister Simon Birmingham has ordered funding cut off in April following an audit report from Deloitte, which found serious issues of financial management and governance of all AFIC schools.

Two weeks ago the minister said the excuses from Malek Fahd simply weren’t good enough. Last week the board was forced to resign and the school is in limbo.

Despite the school reassuring parents this week that it has enough funds to remain open, senior education department figures tell The Australian that, without commonwealth funding, Malek Fahd cannot last much longer than a week. As to what happens to its pupils, at this stage nobody can say.

Professional educator Rafaat El-Hajje was principal at Malek Fahd. The nuclear physics PhD lasted six months before he quit in disgust.

"These people have no idea about what governance was or any idea about professional education," El-Hajje says. "There were about three people who ran the show, and now they’re all fighting among themselves again. But it’s the kids who miss out, it’s the parents and the teachers."

When he resigned in February 2013 El-Hajje wrote to NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli begging that he freeze its funding until the board was replaced. El-Hajje is highly critical of both state and federal governments: they took too long to act, they didn’t ensure the board was replaced after numerous warnings.

"The government just never pulled the cord on them. They were supposed to pay $9m back and they didn’t. I brought it to their attention, a Queensland principal brought it to their attention. They just didn’t act."

In its defence the NSW education department says it is monitoring the situation.

El-Hajje blames political and bureaucratic intransigence for failing to act on the corruption that The Australian has documented for six years. "The minister said it wasn’t his problem, the NSW education department said it was board of studies problem, the commonwealth department said it was someone else’s problem. It just got shuffled around. Maybe if they had acted sooner the school wouldn’t be in this position."

El-Hajje is sceptical of the intentions of some at the school, who might see a closure as a get out of jail free card. "There will be people who think that if the school closes there will be no more investigations into where the money went so maybe they don’t mind."

The six AFIC schools have 5481 students, a 53 per cent rise in five years. Usually, these schools receive the highest possible funding from governments as they are populated by students from poorer and non-English speaking backgrounds.

Back in 2011 The Australian reported that the AFIC had siphoned off $5.2m worth of funds from the Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney.

The day after the report a media release was put out by then AFIC president Ikebal Patel decrying its inaccuracies. It also implied it was driven by an anti-Muslim agenda and demanded an apology and retraction (neither was ever given).

All six AFIC schools have been subjects of media reports and government funding freezes in the past few years. At one point the NSW government even demanded it repay $9m of state funds; a directive the school promptly ignored and challenged in court. Now, it is even contemplating a legal challenge to the withdrawal of the $20m.

Parents like Fazel Qayum and children like his two daughters, both enrolled at Malek Fahd, are paying the price for the behaviour of the school board and the inaction of education authorities. Qayum, a Stanhope Garden local, drives his daughters, Sabah and Sana Qayum, in Years 11 and 4, to MFIS two hours each way because of its "academic reputation".

"It’s not the children’s fault. The people who misused funds, they’re the ones who should be held responsible. The school belongs to the kids, not the principal," he says.

"I want the school to run. We live in a society of law and order ... the board should be taken to court. (But) the children should not pay"

His daughter, Sabah Qayum, is in Year 11. "All the students are devastated. I’m in my second last year, the HSC is just (around) the corner)"

To add to the stress of her Higher School Certificate exams is the likelihood she’ll have to find a new school. "Everyone’s worried about not being accepted (into schools)".

The Australian has obtained the Deloitte report to the government which paints a disturbing picture of what was taking place at Malek Fahd.

Under Australian law, schools must not operate for profit to be considered viable for commonwealth funding.

The Deloitte report confirmed previous reports in The Australian that millions of dollars was siphoned out of the school into AFIC via unexplained "project management" and "accounting and salary services" — seemingly for services that never existed.

There was also evidence of millions in inflated rent for the school land paid to AFIC.

The government’s findings following the Deloitte report were a clear indictment of AFIC and the school board, who were often one and the same.

"Money has not been applied for the purposes of the school or for the function of the authority (Malek Fahd Islamic School Limited), and money has also been distributed (whether directly or indirectly) to an owner of the authority, or any other person," department of education official Michael Crowther wrote.

"I also consider that the quality of the policies and practices in place for MFISL are inconsistent with the basic requirement for MFISL to be not-for-profit."

The audit found that over $500,000 was paid by the school to a company Casifarm Pty Ltd, run by school board member and one-time AFIC spokesman Amjad Mehboob. Services it provided could not be clearly identified.

Last year Mehbood and former "business manager" Agim Garana were sacked from the school amid the commonwealth probe in an attempt by AFIC president and school board chairman Hafez Kassem to demonstrate he was cleaning up the school.

In an almost humorous twist, Mehboob appeared on ABC television the same day the funding cut was announced demanding Hafez Kassem step down, seemingly oblivious that his own behaviour included in the Deloitte report that led in part to the commonwealth decision.

Look around the country and the story at other AFIC run schools is no better. Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne are beset by governance problems.

The federal minister has recommended the tens of millions in annual commonwealth funding to all other schools be cut if they can’t show cause to be kept open.

At the Islamic College of Brisbane, the audit report found that millions of dollars in loans between AFIC and the school were unaccounted for. The Brisbane school is subject to a Queensland state department and police investigation.

Deloitte found numerous governance failings at the Canberra school, evidence of millions of dollars in unaccounted for loans to AFIC and found the school was barely financially viable.

The Melbourne school is accused of hardline religious teaching and allegedly threatened to send home children who missed morning prayer and Koran recital. Following the audit the commonwealth found the school was not operating as a non-for-profit.

The Islamic College of South Australia is beset with problems, including allegations of inappropriate payments to AFIC. The government found the school failed the "fit and proper person" test as well as the not-for-profit requirements.

Someone who knows all about the nature of the brutal infighting at AFIC is its former president, lawyer Haset Sali. Sali was a founding AFIC president 40 years ago and served as a legal adviser to the Muslim body before the current cabal kicked him out in 2006.

Sali describes the culture at AFIC as "toxic" and AFIC-managed Muslim schools as "tragic". "These people have exploited the situation to their own advantage while taking advantage of the mainly poorer people who tried to get their children what used to be a good education."

He says the boards should be sacked, professional administrators appointed and reforms made to mirror more professional independent networks like the Catholic school system.

The qualifications for running a Muslim school are woefully low. Pretty much anyone with a property and desire to set shop can make millions. "Muslim schools do not have that centralisation or professionalism. AFIC schools could contribute but they need to be run properly," Sali says.

Sali has greater concerns: the way the toxin of corruption can leave a void of ethical Muslim leaders, which can lead young people towards Islamic extremism. "These people have just been taking, giving nothing back and couldn’t care less that we’ve ended up with an Islamic subculture," Sali says.

"Unfortunately a lot young people don’t know where else to look for guidance, which leads to the rise of unqualified imams and the attraction of groups like IS."

But come April, the pressing concern will be the education of 2400 students. While the AFIC schools are in the spotlight, at least four other non-AFIC Muslim schools have had their funding frozen in recent years by the NSW department over financial mismanagement, only to have the tap turned on soon after.

El-Hajje takes a dim view of the bulk of the Muslim schools that Malek Fahd students could be forced to go to. "I don’t trust any of these other Muslim schools. They’re intent on empire building and making money."


Multiculturalism has proven divisive, not coalescent, so let’s ditch it

Like bad 1970s fashion, multiculturalism needs to be binned

Sometimes the obvious questions don’t get asked. Maybe it’s the stubborn power of orthodoxy that puts a spanner in the spokes of our otherwise critical and curious senses. Whatever the reason, it’s time to ask this: why do we still have a minister, let alone an assistant minister for multicultural ­affairs?

Hasn’t this cultural fad overstayed it usefulness? Just as questions are asked about whether taxpayers should keep funding multicultural broadcaster SBS, given its raison d’etre has waned, isn’t it time we asked why we still need government ministers ministering the multicultural word to the people?

There is a sense of urgency around this question after last week’s inauspicious start by Craig Laundy, the new Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Laundy sounded like the very model of the modern multiculturalist — modern in the sense of 1970s modern.

Last week the Liberal MP from western Sydney adopted the condescending voice of those 70s multiculturalists, speaking down to us, telling us that he knows better than us. And just like 70s multiculturalism, he caused division rather than cohesion.

Laundy’s sentiments might please the large voting bloc of Muslims in his electorate but the rest of us were riled by his haughtiness when he said that when people "dive into this debate" (about Islam) and "say controversial things, I would argue the vast ­majority are speaking from a position that is not well-informed".

That’s multi-culti speak for saying shut up, you’re too stupid to understand Islam or question Islam’s ability to find an accommodation with fundamental Western values such as the separation of church and state, free speech, gender equality and so on.

Alas, people aren’t stupid. We see that countries ruled by the ­Islamic faith have cultures diametrically opposed to Enlightenment values. We can see enclaves of Muslim migrants in Western countries have kept practices at odds with those values. We are entitled to ask questions about the level of gender inequality among Muslims. We are entitled to ask why some young Muslim men chose Islamic State over Australia; why genital mutilation and child marriages happen in countries such as Britain and Australia.

If Laundy finds our questions "controversial" then, sadly, he has caught that debilitating multicultural virus. Like a virus that takes hold of host cells in the human body, multiculturalism’s self-loathing virus started invading Western societies more than 40 years ago. Like a form of cultural cancer, it has weakened our ability to defend our most fundamental values and, worse, it has meant the only culture open to critique and question is our own.

To be fair, Laundy is not alone among Liberal MPs who inadvertently expose why multiculturalism must be discarded.

Last week on the ABC’s Q&A when Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was asked whether he believed in free speech, he said: "I’m attracted to the principle." Really? That’s it? I might be ­attracted to a dress in a shop but I’m not committed to it. Surely a Liberal MP, a minister, can do better at defending a core Western freedom. You’re not going to convince anyone about the virtues of free speech by saying you kind of like it, with the same commitment as you might say you like cornflakes in the morning

The multicultural virus has impaired even self-professed cultural warriors. As prime minister, Tony Abbott decided that defending free speech by reforming section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was too hard once a few ­migrant groups kicked up a fuss.

Sure, the Senate was unhelpful, but rather than make a humiliating retreat, a warrior of Western culture should fight on to defend the marketplace of ideas, rather than kowtow to the marketplace of outrage that has been fuelled by multiculturalism.

And why wouldn’t Laundy champion all the usual multi-culti guff given the tone set by the more senior Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, another so-called Liberal Party cultural warrior, didn’t raise an eyebrow, let alone utter a word, when Abbott dropped his promise on free speech. We expect this cultural cowardice from Labor and the broader Left, but when voters can’t look to the Liberal Party to defend our basic values the cultural landscape is indeed bleak.

Remember that multiculturalism was never a policy with broad support. Research by sociologist Katharine Betts reveals multiculturalism wasn’t even a story of ethnic agitators: it was largely trumpeted by a group of Anglo-Australian activists so small that "most of them could and did meet in one room". Twenty years after Malcolm Fraser included multiculturalism in the Coalition platform, a poll by the Council of Multicultural Affairs found the rank-and-file supporter of multiculturalism was not the ­migrant but the well-educated Anglo-Australian living far way from migrant enclaves.

In the 70s, multiculturalism was sold to the people as the tolerant, moral alternative to earlier evil policies of assimilation and integration. But assimilation and integration were not intolerant ideas. On the contrary, these policies invited migrants to Australia with the promise they, too, could become Australians and enjoy the values that made Australia the country of first choice for millions.

When migrants arrived in postwar Australia, there was a sense of obligation to the new country. The transformation of thousands of poor, displaced migrants into comfortable middle-class Australians in a matter of a few generations is one of the great success stories of integration. The traditional three-way contract was simple: majority tolerance, minority loyalty and government vigilance in both ­directions.

Becoming a citizen meant ­accepting responsibilities in return for clearly understood rights and privileges. A migrant renounced "all other allegiances" to swear loyalty to Australia.

More than 40 years later, asking for minority loyalty is regarded as a sign of intolerance. Against a backdrop of entrenched multiculturalism and a human rights frenzy pushing the right to be "separate but equal", it’s now a case of the host nation owing the migrant.

The great multicultural con is that its proponents deliberately refused to define the term. They opted for feel-good ambiguity. So it meandered along meaning different things to different people. To some, it meant no more than promoting a culturally diverse ­society loyal to core institutions and core values. Meanwhile, a more virulent form took root, emphasising ethnic rights to be separate but equal, promoting cultural and moral relativism and identity politics where immigrants were no longer Australians, or even "new" Australians.

Multiculturalism endorsed what Theodore Roosevelt called a hyphenated loyalty to country. SBS uses the phrase Muslim-Australians, not the other way around. That hyphenated loyalty has under­mined an obligation on ­migrants to embrace a common set of values.

Worse, multiculturalism demanded that we tolerate the intolerant. To be sure, tolerance is a worthy goal. But it’s meaningful only when tempered with moral judgments about what is right and what is wrong. That is a debate we must all be able to be part of.


Did Victoria's police set up an innocent man?

They would be capable of it and being suspected of killing a cop is not a good place to be

VICTORIA’S corruption watchdog is investigating police conduct leading up to the conviction of Jason Roberts for the 1998 shooting murders of police officers Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rod Miller.

The Herald Sun can reveal that investigators from the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission have conducted a secret probe into the conduct of at least four police officers who were involved in the murder probe.

A major part of the investigation is believed to centre on the changing of a police statement that is said to have cemented the prosecution case that two gunmen were in a Hyundai the two officers stopped in Cochranes Rd, Moorabbin, on August 16, 1998.

This contradicts the evidence of an eyewitness who drove by as the shootings occurred, who told Lorimer investigators she saw only one man beside the Hyundai.

The Lorimer investigation ran for over two years and identified Bandali Debs and his daughter’s boyfriend, Roberts, as the culprits.

Lawyers for Roberts, who has always maintained his innocence, are preparing to submit a petition to Attorney-General Martin Pakula to reopen the case.

Evidence has also emerged casting doubt on Roberts’ involvement. It includes witness statements and the interpretation of material from listening devices, telephone intercepts and new information from Roberts himself, who denied being at the scene.

Roberts was the subject of a homicide re-examination of his case almost three years ago, findings of which were not made public.

Roberts was interviewed and police travelled to NSW to interview Debs over several days. Other witnesses, including Lorimer police, were also interviewed.

Lawyers for Roberts, who along with Debs is serving a life sentence for the murders, have been working for several years on what they argue are shortcomings in the evidence against him.

Prosecutor Jeremy Rapke, QC, put it to the Supreme Court trial jury that Roberts was hidden in the car and shot Sgt Silk, who was checking the passenger side registration.

The Herald Sun understands the forensic evidence of the sequence of shots is consistent with there being only a single gunman.

It is likely to be put to the Attorney-General that Debs alone shot both policemen, shooting Sen-Constable Miller before walking around the Hyundai and killing Sgt Silk, and that he then exchanged shots with Sen-Constable Miller before using a second gun to shoot Silk again.

Debs, of whose guilt there is no doubt, has refused to shed any light on what happened that night.

Police have been told that he had promised to confess and exonerate Roberts if both of them were convicted.

Roberts has spent 17 years in jail and is in a maximum-security prison.

An IBAC spokesman said: "For legal and operational reasons we cannot comment."

Victoria Police said that it was unaware of the IBAC investigation.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

25 February, 2016

Australia's Barrier Reef at greater risk than thought, study says

Warmist dishonesty never stops.  As I have often pointed out before, warmer oceans will OUTGAS CO2 so the result of global warming  will be LESS acidic oceans.  The only way you can make sense of the reasoning below is to assume that CO2 levels will continue to rise WITHOUT causing any global warming.  So that is certainly an interesting admission.  There is a popular version of the article below here

The exposure of the Great Barrier Reef to ocean acidification

Mathieu Mongin et al.

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is founded on reef-building corals. Corals build their exoskeleton with aragonite, but ocean acidification is lowering the aragonite saturation state of seawater (?a). The downscaling of ocean acidification projections from global to GBR scales requires the set of regional drivers controlling ?a to be resolved. Here we use a regional coupled circulation–biogeochemical model and observations to estimate the ?a experienced by the 3,581 reefs of the GBR, and to apportion the contributions of the hydrological cycle, regional hydrodynamics and metabolism on ?a variability. We find more detail, and a greater range (1.43), than previously compiled coarse maps of ?a of the region (0.4), or in observations (1.0). Most of the variability in ?a is due to processes upstream of the reef in question. As a result, future decline in ?a is likely to be steeper on the GBR than currently projected by the IPCC assessment report.

Nature Communications, 7, Article number: 10732. doi:10.1038/ncomms10732

Australia approves Chinese purchase of country’s biggest dairy

Rationality trumps paranoia.  The Chinese can't pick up the farm and take it back to China so what is the problem of them running it?  They'll use Australian managers anyway

Australia has approved the sale of the country’s largest dairy to a Chinese investor in a bid to end a controversy that risked souring Sino-Australian relations and dividing communities on the remote island of Tasmania.

The sale of Tasmanian Land Company, which has a 30,000 strong dairy herd across 25 farms, to a company controlled by Lu Xianfeng in the latest in a series of purchases by Chinese investors of agricultural land and assets — part of a wider move to secure food supplies in the Asia-Pacific region. This has prompted controversy in Australia and New Zealand, where regulators are toughening scrutiny of proposed deals while attempting to remain open to foreign investment that boosts agricultural output and rural jobs.

Scott Morrison, Australia’s Treasurer, said on Tuesday he had approved the TLC sale to Moon Lake Investments subject to tax transparency conditions — a reform to foreign investment rules introduced by Canberra this week amid simmering public concern about the rapid pace of Chinese inflows.

"A breach of these conditions could result in prosecution, fines and potentially divestment of the asset," said Mr Morrison, adding that the review had considered the deal’s implications for national security, competition, the economy and the community.

Opponents labelled the approval of the A$280m (US$200m) deal a "sellout" for ignoring local bidders.

"This is Australasia’s biggest dairy with huge potential [if kept] in local hands to expand and provide premium dairy products to Australia and the world," said Nick Xenophon, an independent senator. "This lost opportunity shows how the current ‘national interest’ test is as clear as mud and virtually meaningless."

Last year Wellington rejected an NZ$88m ($US59m) bid by a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin for the 13,800-hectare Lochinver sheep and cattle station. A month later Mr Morrison blocked Chinese buyers, including Shanghai Pengxin, from acquiring S Kidman & Co, a company controlling land about three-quarters the size of England, on national security grounds and welcomed news a local bidder could emerge.

Australia began a review of its foreign investment rules last year when it was revealed the Northern Territory government had leased Darwin port to a Chinese company without a full examination by the Foreign Investment Review Board. This week Mr Morrison introduced new rules linking foreign investors’ tax compliance with their licence to operate.

TLC is owned by New Zealand’s New Plymouth District Council. Tasmanian company TasFoods launched a legal action against the transaction when it was narrowly outbid for the asset, which was later settled. Jan Cameron, founder of clothing company Kathmandu, then entered the fray with a lobbying campaign aimed at blocking the deal and returning the dairy to Australian ownership.

On Tuesday Ms Cameron said politicians from the main Australian parties were short-sighted as they did not see the importance of food security.

"The Chinese get it — that is why they are buying up as much farm land as they can," she said. "There are different ways to structure these deals and Australia shouldn’t be selling the land."

Lu Xianfeng controls Moon Lake Investments and is also founder and largest shareholder of Shenzhen-listed Ningbo Xianfeng New Material, which has a market capitalisation of $1.5bn. He recently wrote an article for a local newspaper in Tasmania explaining that Moon Lake Investment’s business strategy would mean "growth for all".

Will Hodgman, Tasmania’s premier, also backed the deal, telling the Financial Times that if local objections blocked the deal it risked alienating future Chinese investors.

Mr Morrison cited pledges by Moon Lake to invest A$100m in the dairy, create an extra 95 jobs and maintain the same level of milk supply in Australia in his decision.

"Ongoing foreign investment remains a key part of growing Australia’s output and employment and, through this, our standard of living," he added.


Turnbull calls snap review of Safe Schools LGBTI program

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi says the partyroom shares concerns of parents who want schools to teach their children ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’.

Malcolm Turnbull has ordered a snap review of the $8 million ­taxpayer-funded program aimed at teaching schoolkids about sexual orientation and transgender issues to avert a split in Coa­lition ranks erupting in parliament.

The independent review, which will report in March, was condemned by Labor, the Greens and the Australian Education Union as a "capitulation" to the Coalition’s conservative wing.

Several government MPs were yesterday mounting a campaign to kill off the Safe Schools program being run in 495 schools, but The Australian understands a Senate motion demanding the Prime Minister withdraw the ­remaining $2m in funding was pulled after agreement was reached between Education Minister Simon Birm­ingham and the Nationals Barry O’Sullivan.

Senator Birmingham, who has defended the program, said: "It is essential that all material is age appropriate and that parents have confidence in any resources used in a school to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe."

He has written to education ministers asking them to confirm parents are being consulted prior to schools introducing the scheme.

Last night, no decision had been made on who would conduct the Turnbull review.

The controversial teaching manual, All of Us, includes a role-playing exercise in which children as young as 11 are encouraged to imagine how it would feel to live in a same-sex relationship.

In one lesson, on transgender experi­ences, children are asked to ­imagine losing their genitalia.

The AEU’s federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said the program was working well.

"A majority of young LGBTI people report bullying and 80 per cent of those say that it happens at school," she said. "All young people should be able to feel safe and supported at school."

The Greens spokesman on LGBTI and marriage equality, Robert Simms, said opposition to the program was based on the "absurd idea that simply by talking about differences in sexuality or gender identity you’re going to recruit people".

Coalition sources told The Australian severalMPs expressed concern in the partyroom about the scheme, including senators O’Sullivan and Cory Bernardi as well as Andrew Nikolic, George Christensen, David Fawcett and Jo Lindgren.

The key Coalition champion for same-sex marriage, Warren Entsch, told The Australian there were problems with the program that should be addressed.

He backs extra support for gay and transgender schoolkids, however, "some of the terminology and the references there should be avoided. I can understand why people have raised concerns".

Mr Nikolic said he believed parents needed to approve of the material before it was taught to their children.

"Young kids are being told their gender is not ­defined by their genitalia and only they will know if they are a boy or a girl,’’ he said.

Senator Bernardi said the Coa­lition partyroom shared concerns of parents who wanted schools to teach their children "reading, writing and arithmetic" rather than "indoctrinating them with a radi­cal political and social agenda".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said while former prime minister Tony Abbott had sacked Senator Bernardi for "offensive comments" Mr Turnbull was now indulging him with a review.

Senator Bernardi presented a petition to the Senate with 9499 signatures calling on the government to remove funding for the program.


Students at Sydney performing arts school 'win right to wear the uniform of either sex'

Performing arts?  I can't say I am surprised at weirdness there

Students at a leading Sydney high school have won a claim to change their dress policy, allowing them to wear the uniform of either sex. The move has received widespread support, but has been criticised by Christian groups.

Pupils at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia, successfully lobbied the school to scrap gender restrictions on uniform after students began challenging the school's administration last week.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Wendy Francis, a spokeswoman for The Australian Christian Lobby, said: "To encourage a guy to wear a dress would just be setting him up for bullying." She also described the move as "retrograde" and "laughable", adding: "I don't get it. It is a retrograde idea in my mind, there is no need to say we are going to allow boys to wear a kilt or girls to wear trousers, I find it almost laughable."

However, Jo Dwyer, a year 11 student at the school, said that changes were needed to make the uniform inclusive: "Before the changes were implemented, students had to go through the school with parental permission and notes from psychologists before they were allowed to wear the cross-gender uniform, and that wasn't really a possibility for some students whose parents aren't supportive of their gender identity."

The Foundation for Young Australians, which runs the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), a group aiming to create "safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse students, staff and families", called the students "absolute heroes". SSCA is encouraging other schools to follow suit and adopt similar uniform policies.


24 February, 2016

That dreaded land clearing again

Below is another Greenie lament about land clearing.  Most of the world lives on land that has been cleared of its native vegetation but that precedent cuts no ice with Greenies. I said a lot more about that issue last month so will not pursue it again.

The rant below is totally one-eyed, as we have come to expect.  Their basic objection to clearing is species loss and water pollution.  And their only response to those problems, if they are problems,  is "Stop everything".  The authors are senior academics but you would never guess it.  It is all just hand-waving, with nothing scholarly about it.

A scholarly article would do a survey of the major species, research how many there are, give some argument for why they are important and study how many are needed to maintain a viable population.

Why do that?  Because there are conflicting claims on land use.  One side cannot have it all to themselves, though Greenies would clearly like to.  In the Anglosphere, conflicting claims are customarily resolved by compromise.  Arrangements are worked out that allow both sides to get what is most important to them.

And what is most important to Greenies is clear enough:  Species preservation.  So we need to know just how much land is needed for species preservation and how much can be released for food production.  So if we took the scholarly steps above, a compromise suitable to both sides should be possible.  But a mature response like that is beyond Greenies.  Their only policy is "winner take all", with themselves as the winner.

That rightly causes others to dig their heels in and the Greenies may in the end get very little of what they want -- probably less than they could have got via compromise.

And they are far too myopic to see what has been happening in the last couple of years.  When a conservative Queensland government lifted a whole lot of Leftist restrictions on land use, landowners went for broke.  They have busily been clearing as much land as they can before restrictions hit them again.  Much land may have been cleared that need not have been cleared if more moderate land use restrictions had been probable.

Just some excerpts below as it is all so brainless and predictable

Land clearing has returned to Queensland in a big way. After we expressed concern that policy changes since 2012 would lead to a resurgence in clearing of native vegetation, this outcome was confirmed by government figures released late last year.

It is now clear that land clearing is accelerating in Queensland. The new data confirm that 296,000 hectares of bushland was cleared in 2013-14 – three times as much as in 2008-09 – mainly for conversion to pastures. These losses do not include the well-publicised clearing permitted by the government of nearly 900 square kilometres at two properties, Olive Vale and Strathmore, which commenced in 2015.
The increases in land clearing are across the board. They include losses of over 100,000 hectares of old-growth habitats, as well as the destruction of "high-value regrowth" – the advanced regeneration of endangered ecosystems.

These ecosystems have already been reduced to less than 10% of their original extent, and their recovery relies on allowing this regrowth to mature.

Alarmingly, our analysis of where the recent clearing has occurred reveals that even "of concern" and "endangered" remnant ecosystems are being lost at much higher rates now than before.

While this level of vegetation loss and damage continues apace, Australia’s environmental programs will fall well short of achieving their aims.

Land clearing affects all Australians, not just Queenslanders. Australia spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year trying to redress past environmental damage from land clearing. Tens of thousands of volunteers dedicate their time, money and land to the effort.

But despite undeniable local benefits of such programs, their contribution to national environmental goals is undone, sometimes many times over, by the damage being done in Queensland.

Species cannot recover if their habitat is being destroyed faster than it is being restored. But under Caring for our Country and Biodiversity Fund grants, the extent of tree planting to restore habitat across Australia reported since 2013 is just over 42,000 hectares - an order of magnitude less than what was cleared in Queensland alone in just two years.

And it will be many decades before these new plantings will provide anything like the environmental benefits of mature native vegetation.

Land clearing between 2012 and 2014 in Queensland is estimated to have wiped out more than 40,000 hectares of koala habitat, as well as habitat for over 200 other threatened species. Clearing, along with drought (which is also made worse by clearing), is the major cause of an 50% decline in koalas of  south-west and central Queensland since 1996.

The loss of remnant habitat, especially from forests along waterways, means more habitat fragmentation. This is a further threat to many species of wildlife, and it hampers our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

The current Palaszczuk government in Queensland has repeated its election promise to re-strengthen native vegetation protections. The amendment bill is due to be introduced to parliament within weeks.

But the minority government relies on the votes of cross-benchers to pass its legislation–so for now, the future of some of Australia’s most precious environmental assets remains uncertain.


Age, gender, race? Climate scepticism is predominantly party political

Because conservatives don't like the power grabs that such scares tend to legitimate

It appears the adage that climate change sceptics are typically conservative white men is only partly true, with a new study finding the political party you support to be a much stronger marker of where you line-up on global warming than gender, age and race.

But if you do accept the scientific evidence humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, the same research also suggests that does not mean you lead a greener private life.

In an effort to tease out what shapes individual views and actions on climate change, Australian researchers analysed almost 200 studies and polls covering 56 countries.

They found that political affiliation was a much larger determinant of a person's willingness to accept humanity's role in climate change than other social fault lines. Conservative voters were more likely to be sceptical, while progressive voters typically believed the science.

A person's broader political ideology, such as whether they saw themselves as conservative or liberal, also had a notable effect, albeit weaker than party support.

Other variables such as age, gender, education, income and race had a much lower, and often negligible, impact. The same was also true for individual experiences of extreme weather events.

"Although a 'conservative white male' profile has emerged of climate change sceptics in the United States, our analysis of polls across multiple nations suggests that the 'conservative' part of that equation would seem to be more diagnostic than the 'white male' part," finds the paper, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Tuesday.

Matthew Hornsey, a psychology professor at the University of Queensland and one of the authors of the study, said climate science was far too complex for the vast majority of people to be totally across, meaning for most it was a matter of trust.

Some have an implicit trust in scientists and their methods, he said, but others turned to "gut feelings that are largely about their values, their politics, their world view".

"Age, sex and race aren't the issue: it's your deeper philosophies about the free market, about big versus small government, about individualistic versus socialistic ways of responding to societal problems, about whether or not you have a moral suspicion of industry," Professor Hornsey said.

The finding from the studies included in the analysis, almost half of which came from the United States, echoed recent dedicated Australian polls. Last year an analysis of five CSIRO climate surveys - a program now axed - found barely a quarter of Coalition voters accepted humanity was mostly responsible for climate change, as opposed to 59 per cent of Labor voters and 76 per cent of Greens supporters.

But accepting climate change did not necessarily make you greener, at least in your home life, the study also found.

While those who accept human's role in climate changes were more likely to take more public action, such as signing petitions or joining demonstrations, that was not necessarily replicated in private action, such as cutting energy use at home and using public transport over the car.

Professor Hornsey said this was partly about barriers to action, such as not having access to public transport. But there were a group of people who believed in climate change and wanted something done about it, but saw it as a global responsibility rather than an issue of individual sacrifice.

"In Australia it was striking how concern about climate change coexisted with resentment about paying the [now defunct] carbon tax," Professor Hornsey said.


Let's talk about 'the youth'

Trisha Jha

This week Fairfax breathlessly reported an 'exclusive' from The Australia Institute that purported to show the current tax treatment of investment properties and superannuation delivers almost no benefits to the under-30s.

It's not difficult to see why. When the biggest benefits of both tax policies apply to those paying the highest marginal tax rate (those earning above $180,000 p.a.) it makes sense that most people in the first few years of their career are not earning anywhere near that much.

What this simplistic analysis fails to account for is the bleedin' obvious: young people don't stay young forever. They start to earn more and build their wealth, often through investing in property -- just as previous generations have done.

If we truly want to have a conversation about intergenerational equity, let's talk about how Labor's policy, which would enable existing property investors to keep their portfolios through grandfathering but bar new investors from buying established properties, would create two classes of investors -- where young people are on the losing side.

Consider that the government, instead of letting spending cuts do the heavy lifting on budget repair, is allowing bracket creep on income taxes to do the work instead. Younger people of working age are paying higher taxes because of political unwillingness to tackle the real culprit: spending. The largest chunk of federal spending is the Age Pension, and today's pensioners are not expected to unlock the wealth in their home to support their lifestyle in retirement.

By the time the young people of today reach retirement age (no doubt pushed to 70 or 75 by then), the Age Pension will be a curious quirk of history: as irrelevant as 1 and 2 cent pieces. Superannuation and the family home will be the principal form of supporting oneself in retirement.

Since we're talking about superannuation, let's talk about how any 'reform' of the tax arrangements surrounding superannuation (almost certainly just a tax grab) would in all likelihood preserve the current generous system of concessions for those who are closer to retirement. It'll be today's young people who are slugged with higher tax on that same pot of money which is then meant to support them fully in retirement.

Higher taxes and more spending means younger taxpayers and future generations are footing the bill for others' profligacy. This absurd yet ubiquitous narrative that big government is good for 'the young' is nothing but a con.


Salvation Army tells asylum seeker he will 'never live in Australia'

His advice was accurate but he could have expressed more sympathy.  But doing that might have encouraged the foolish Tamil to stay on

The Salvation Army has effectively urged a Tamil asylum seeker on Manus Island to go home because: "You will never live in Australia".

A Salvation Army risk and compliance officer, who is only identified as "Andrew", wrote to a Tamil man on the charity's letterhead in January 2014 saying: "You can expect to remain in this facility for a very long time whilst this process is undertaken.

"You may be given an opportunity to be re-settled in PNG but I am not sure when or if this may occur. The only other option available to you is to seek repatriation with the assistance to IOM (International Organization for Migration) to your country of origin.

"If you choose not to go home you will spend a very, very long time here. You have been told lies by people smugglers."

The Salvation Army has declared publicly its opposition to offshore detention and received more than $70 million under a contract to provide humanitarian services on Manus Island and Nauru between 2012 and 2014. A spokesman acknowledged the letter was written by one of its staff "in consultation" with the Immigration Department.

He said the group's contract with the department required it to communicate official information to detainees, including the time frames associated with the processing of their asylum seeker claims.

The message could have been communicated more sensitively, the spokesman said, but it accurately reflected the government's July 2013 policy decision not to re-settle boat arrivals in Australia.

"The Salvation Army agrees that the content of the letter, read in isolation, is incredibly harsh, however, there was no malicious or cruel intent held when this letter was written," the spokesman said.

An Immigration department spokeswoman said the contract with the Salvation Army contained no requirement for the Department to "vet, oversee or help draft" correspondence to transferees.

The Tamil man was part of a group known as "OPK" which attempted to enter Australia by boat in mid-2013.

"Perhaps in some part, the content of the letter reflected a choice between two incredibly difficult situations, firstly, where transferees would be left in limbo - not knowing what would happen to them or still hoping that they would be resettled in Australia - or alternatively, communicating the incredibly difficult message that post 19 July 2013, transferees would not be resettled in Australia and according to the government policy there would be absolutely no exceptions," the Salvation Army spokesman said.

"In communicating the latter, it was hoped that this could at least give the transferees some certainty about their future and some choice (although a very bleak choice) as to whether they would remain at the centres or return to their country of origin if they preferred to do so."

Asylum seekers have also alleged that they were beaten by private security guards during an operation to end a January 2015 Manus Island hunger strike, and have told Fairfax Media in a series of letters that they were jailed in the nearby Lorengau police cells for up to 21 days.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

23 February, 2016

Australian conservative politician wants to combat adverse opinions about Muslims in Australia

Mr Laundy seems to be a rather low wattage intellect.  He has drunk the  Leftist Kool-Aid -- that less than 1% of Muslims in Western countries engage in terrorism and therefore Muslims are no problem.  Let me give a small analogy to that.  What say you were buying a new car and the salesman told you that this car could blow up and kill you but there is only a very small chance of that happening?  Would you buy that car when other, safer cars in the same price-range were available?  I doubt it.

And importing Muslims into Australia is similar to buying that car.  There are many other needy people we could bring into this country -- persecuted Middle-East Christians, for instance. So why not leave the Muslims to rot in the hellholes they and their ilk have created and bring in more compatible people, people who have NO record of blowing up religious unbelievers?

But surely it is unjust to judge a whole group of people by a few oddballs?  It is, in general.  But this is not about justice.  It is about prevention.  All those who come to us have found refuge somewhere else first.  Australia has no borders with the Middle East.  So let them stay there.  We have no obligation to take in people who just want a better standard of living. So there is no injustice in leaving them be.  And by leaving them be we prevent the attacks that a small minority of them will mount on us.

But attacks on us by a small minority are only a part of the problem.  The basic problem can be found by opening up a Koran and reading almost any page there -- something the entire Left refuses to do.  The Koran is a very hostile, hate-filled book.  It is full of instructions to kill or subjugate non-Muslims.  Start at Sura 9, for instance.  Islam preaches religious supremacism.  As Binyamin Netanyahu said rather wearily recently: We have just got rid of racial supremacism (Hitler) and now we have religious supremacism to deal with.

Just as most Christians don't do what the Bible tells them, most Muslims don't do what the Koran tells them.  To do so would be  difficult and risky.  But the underlying attitude taught in the Koran is still there.  And that matters. At its most basic, Christianity is a religion of kindness, whereas Islam is a religion of hate. There are equivalents in the Koran to the Golden Rule but those teachings apply to fellow Muslims only.  See here.  The terrorist acts against us are the tip of an iceberg of hate.

As a result, Muslims are very arrogant towards non-Muslims.  They think they have the truth and we do not.  And that gives them feelings of superiority towards us and makes them at least uncaring about our wellbeing if not hostile to it.  Their religion tells them NOT to adapt or assimilate to our ways.  They want us to assimilate to their ways and are not backward in demanding that.

Why should we put up with such incompatible people?  Why should we invite into our country people who despise us?  It's insane. We should certainly not let any more into our country and should make it a demand on those who are already here that they change their religion or get out. Changing your religion is a common thing in our country.  Let Muslims adapt to that.  Many innocent Australians have died at the hands of Muslims -- mostly in Bali but also in Australia itself.  Let there be no more of that

New assistant minister for multiculturalism Craig Laundy says most inflammatory opinions about Islam and Muslims came from people who were "not well informed".

Malcolm Turnbull's new assistant minister for multiculturalism, Craig Laundy, has vowed to combat "wrong" public perceptions about Australia's Muslims.

Ethnic and religious leaders have reported increased tension in recent months amid the rise of Islamic State and calls from political leaders such as Tony Abbott for a "reformation" of Islam.

Mr Laundy, a former publican from Sydney's culturally diverse inner-west, said the vast majority of inflammatory opinions about Islam and Muslims came from people who were "not well informed" and their views were "wrong".

Although he acknowledged greater "tension" in the community following recent terrorist attacks, Mr Laundy said Australians should "come together in times of challenge, not fall apart".

"People that dive into this debate and say controversial things, I would argue, the vast majority are speaking from a position that is not well informed," Mr Laundy told ABC Radio.

"My job . is to enter the debate, knowing the background and the community, engaging and explaining to Australia the challenges that these communities actually face.

Mr Laundy said Australian Muslims were "not scared" about debating how their religious practices integrated with the Australian way of life, but the discussion should be "respectful" and "informed".

He said the story of Australian multiculturalism was new arrivals "rolling up their sleeves and having a go".

"That has never changed be it the Snowy Mountains workers (from Europe) after World War Two or be it the Hazara Afghanis that are working in local abattoirs around the country as we speak - very good boners, for example - they are here to give their families more opportunities than they had," he said.

"The humanitarian intake visa category is one of the most entrepreneurial classes of visa category we have. I see new arrivals start working for someone else and within six or 12 months they've started their own business."


Treasurer will gain power to force foreign companies to sell Australian assets if they avoid paying tax

This is bad policy.  It will lead to a reduction in foreign investment and an increase in corruption.  A better solution would be a turnovrer tax on gross revenue for multinational companies.  A 2% turnover tax would be simple to administer, would lead to no accounting shenanigans and would probably raise about the same as normal domestic tax arrangements

Multinationals dodging tax on earnings in Australia could be forced to sell their assets under a tough new crackdown by the Federal Government.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said new foreign investment applications would now face requirements to pay tax on what they earned in Australia.

In a move that is likely to unsettle multinationals considering an Australian investment, Mr Morrison now has powers to force a company to sell assets if the appropriate tax is not paid.

"The Government is committed to ensuring companies operating in Australia pay tax on their Australian earnings. Where companies fail to do so I will have powers to take action, including ordering divestment of Australian assets," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

"Foreign investment applications will have to comply with Australian taxation law, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) directions to provide information in relation to the investment and advise the ATO if investors enter into any transactions with non-residents to which transfer pricing or anti-avoidance measures of Australian tax law may potentially apply."

Mr Morrison said any breach of the new conditions imposed by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) could result in prosecution, fines and, ultimately, the divestment of an asset.

"Australians expect all entities operating in Australia to maintain the highest standards of corporate behaviour, irrespective of whether those entities are Australian or foreign owned," Mr Morrison said.

The requirements come after pressure from the ATO and the former treasurer Joe Hockey to ensure multinationals are not able to shift profits to low-tax havens, such as Singapore, to avoid paying more tax in Australia.

The politically charged issue has also prompted hard questioning of multinational chief executives from companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft and News Corporation, who have been grilled by a Senate inquiry.

The legal loopholes in tax law to allow the use of "profit shifting" have seen hundreds of millions, and possibly billions, of dollars of tax avoided in recent years.


An easy transition from the Greens to the Labor party for a "black" lawyer

An opportunistic transition from the far Left to the more cautious Left.  She is still pretty extreme, however.  Interesting that the "Aborigines" who are full of grievance about "racism" all seem to have a lot of white ancestry and all seem actually to have done pretty well for themselves. The explanation for that couldn't possibly be a genetic one, of course

Labor's candidate in the federal seat of Swan, human rights activist Tammy Solonec, stood for the Greens at the 2013 West Australian election, has never voted for the ALP and believes the use of the word "Aborigine" has racist -overtones.

The indigenous lawyer, who campaigned this week with Bill Shorten in Perth, also wants -Australia to be taken to the International Criminal Court for -"cultural genocide" for continuing to remove- Aboriginal children from their families.

During campaigning as a Green for the last state election, Ms Solonec said she had always voted for the party - apart from once voting for the Democrats - because she believed in its "philosophies and policies".

She also criticised Labor's support- for the Northern Territory intervention. "We just wish other parties would have the courage that Rachel (Siewert) and the Greens have," she told a Greens newsletter at the time.

But Ms Solonec told The Australian yesterday she had drifted away from the Greens after 2013 and now felt more at home in the Labor Party, among the Opposition Leader and other MPs including- deputy Tanya Plibersek.

Her preselection for Labor has surprised some in the party's Right faction, who say it highlights the rise of Left activists and a worrying trend of targeting the Greens to find new candidates. But others in the party say Ms Solonec is highly impressive and would make an excellent federal MP.

Another Labor recruit for this year's election, Islamic radicalism expert Anne Aly, was a federal candidate for the Greens in 2007, although she withdrew before election day.

All three of Labor's lower house MPs in Western Australia - Gary Gray, Alannah MacTiernan and Melissa Parke - have announced that they will not recontest the election, throwing the preselection process into chaos.

In Perth yesterday, Mr Shorten refused to answer questions on whether he believed Labor's national executive should intervene in the state to stop an attempt by the left-wing Maritime Union of Australia to install its own candidate in the seat of Fremantle.

Ms Solonec, who is on leave from her job with Amnesty International to campaign for Swan, said her strong beliefs on social justice were aligned with Labor.

"When people are young and idealistic I think they go where their heart is, but I'm now really enjoying being part of Labor," she said. "And I think we are all ---entitled to experiment with different things and to change our mind."

Ms Solonec said it would have been "very difficult" to win a seat as a Green because the party had never won a lower-house seat in Western Australia. "The Labor Party approached me and it just seemed too good an opportunity to not try."

Ms Solonec said she believed there was a case for Australia to be taken to the ICC under the UN's genocide convention for its continued removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Children at risk should only be removed "temporarily" and too many children were being removed on a permanent basis, creating a "second stolen generation".

In an article last year entitled "Why saying Aborigine isn't OK", Ms Solonec wrote the word was perceived as insensitive because it had "racist connotations" from Australia's colonial past and "lumps people with diverse backgrounds into a single group".


Australia avoiding the predicted disasters of the commodity rout

As evidence mounts that Australia's economy is slowing, one surprising consensus is emerging: It isn't nearly as bad as it should be.

Other big resource exporters such as Brazil and Canada have been slammed far worse over the past year and a half by the falling commodities trade that was sparked by China's deceleration. Australia, in contrast, seems already to have passed its nadir and is set to recover over the next two years, the government and many economists say.

"The economy is continuing to grow at a modest pace, in the face of considerable adjustment challenges," Glenn Stevens, governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, told parliament Friday.

Australia's resilience owes largely to two broad trends--strong infrastructure investment in recent years and an economic shift to services from mining. The trend has been helped by a weak Australian dollar and slow wage growth. All of this has made Australian goods and services more competitive globally, allowing the country, in some cases, to grab more market share.

During the boom period of the past decade, Australian companies invested billions of dollars to increase production capacity and modernize the country's mining, rail, and port facilities. That has helped to lower production costs, making Australia commodities such as iron ore and coal more competitive abroad. The trend is likely to be bolstered by an expected boom in sales of liquefied natural gas as the billions of dollars invested in new facilities start production over the next few years.

So, even as the world's top commodities buyer, China, is acquiring lower volumes from many other countries, its demand from nearby Australia is holding steady. That is also helping to lower unemployment, which has fallen to 5.8%. spurring consumer spending.

"The investments that were undertaken during the boom by the private sector are still productive investments," even at today's lower commodities prices, said Warwick McKibbin, a professor of economics at Australian National University.

Further aiding Australia's economy is the resource-rich country's shift from traditional mining to services, such as health care, education and tourism, which was propped up by a record 1 million Chinese tourists in 2015. These labor-intensive industries are absorbing jobs lost in mining and driving lucrative new avenues of export growth, economists say.

"Australia has more than one string to its bow," said Saul Eslake, former chief economist at ANZ and Merrill Lynch in Australia.

The country's central bank forecast this month a return to strong annual GDP growth of about 3% this year and next, from an expected 2.5% last year. A government jobs report to be released on Thursday will be the next closely watched sign of the economy's health.

To be sure, risks remain for Australia.

Government debt is growing, sparking speculation that the country could lose its coveted triple-A rating by ratings firms. Australian exports plunged 5% in December from the prior month by value due to falling prices, an unusually high trade deficit for the country. In fact, export income has been falling for two years, with increased volumes of iron ore and coal failing to compensate for prices that have fallen steeply from their 2011 peak. And the outlook for commodities prices are still cloudy.

Global risks surrounding Australia's big trading partners, including the U.S. and Japan, are also on the minds of Australian policy makers. None top the questions surrounding China, which is also navigating a difficult transition, and whether it will devaluate the yuan again. Australian policy makers' options in addressing any renewed downturn are limited after the central bank dropped interest rates to record lows.

"The Chinese economy has become more of a concern for many observers," the RBA's Mr. Stevens told parliament. "The more recent anxiety is probably best described as greater uncertainty over the intentions of Chinese policy makers."

Still, after predicting a 50-50 chance of recession less than a year ago, Mr. McKibbin recently lowered that probability to about 20% due to strong exports, aided by a currency that has fallen by nearly 40% in the past five years, and a reasonably healthy job market.

Canada and Brazil haven't weathered the commodities rout nearly as well. Brazil is mired in its worst recession in decades and beset by high inflation, while Canada is considering major infrastructure investments to stimulate a sputtering economy.

In contrast, Australia's economy looks set to be helped by some favorable trade trends. By June, the government projects that iron ore shipments will have roughly doubled over the past five years to a record 818 million metric tons, while liquefied natural gas exports will rise 80% to 36.2 million tons.

"While the rest of the world is experiencing anemic trade, Australia stands out because exports, both mining volume and services are now key contributors to growth," Paul Bloxham, chief economist at HSBC, Australia.


Australia Post refuses to release WA complaints data

Another unaccountable bureaucracy

Australia Post has refused to release its customer complaints data for Western Australia as frustrated Perth residents continue to criticise the service and its delivery drivers.

The government-owned entity's Facebook page is flooded with hundreds of complaints a day ranging from stolen parcels, damaged goods and drivers not knocking when a person is home waiting for an item.

Many, including Perth woman Kelly Bell, also complained of waiting on the phone for hours to lodge an issue.

Ms Bell said she had a $300 graduation dress stolen from her Bentley front doorstep in February after a delivery driver left it unattended and in clear view a busy footpath three metres away.

According to Australia Post's policy, the driver is required to leave the parcel in a safe location, or leave a note for the person to collect the item from a local post office.

Despite the driver doing neither, Ms Bell was told she would not be reimbursed for her express-posted package.

"Australia Post failed in its duty of care to deliver my parcel safely, yes it was a dress, but what other parcels, containing 'more important' items are being left in 'safe places', only to be stolen," she said.

"Since the incident, I was too nervous to have anything sent to that address, so instead forwarded my mail to a friend's place.

"If Australia Post expects customers to keep using their service, they need to realise that mail often contains important and sentimental items that need to be delivered appropriately."

Residents in Ellenbrook also complained of Australia Post delivery drivers not knocking on their front door before leaving pick-up notes for residents to collect their item from a local post office.

"They're either understaffed and don't have time or are just lazy," one resident said. "I don't know which but every time you go to the post office there is a huge line out the door of people picking stuff up."

Another angry customer, Joe from Beeliar, told WAtoday he had his son's passport left in his letterbox, despite it being labelled as registered mail, which requires a signature to be delivered.

The parcel had been opened by someone when he found it on February 5. "I followed up with the Bibra Lake branch and a gentleman there told me there was no tracking on that parcel and nothing they could do to track which postie," Joe said. "I find it hard to believe, especially that it came from a WA state office."

Despite the complaints, an Australia Post spokesman said it had received "positive feedback" about its policy that required drivers to knock three times and call out before leaving a card or placing the item in a safe location.

"If there is no safe location, a notification card will be left under the front door to advise the recipient that delivery was attempted and their parcel is available to be collected from a nearby Australia Post outlet," he said.

"When there are no delivery instructions and a signature is not required and nobody is home, the delivery driver will look for a safe location to leave the parcel.

"The theft of parcels after delivery is concerning and we continue to provide delivery options that allow our customers to receive their parcels when and where it suits them, through parcel lockers, safe drop, deliveries direct to an Australia Post location, re-directions and twilight deliveries."

This week, police charged a Perth woman who brazenly stole a Valentine's Day gift from the doorstep of a Port Kennedy home.

Two months ago, two northern suburbs women dubbed the 'Christmas Grinches' were allegedly caught stealing presents from doorsteps in Wanneroo.

Australia Post, a government-owned entity, refused to provide statistics on the number of complaints it received, with a spokesman saying the company "complies with all relevant reporting requirements".

"There has been no reduction in Australia Post's performance levels," a spokesman said.  "Our year-to-date service performance for Western Australia is above our community service obligation of 94%."

Australia Post's 2015 annual report stated the industry's ombudsman had spent an estimated $550,000 investigating complaints relating to its service in 2014-15.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

22 February, 2016

Bureaucracy and canned tomatoes

I initially thought this story was too trivial to be worth mentioning but it is such an hilarious example of bureaucracy in action that I thought I should mention it after all. 

I first noticed the story because I do buy canned tomatoes.  I tip a can of them into my crockpot as the first step towards making a curry.  And I had noticed the odd price disparity between different brands.  The "Home" brand I buy from Woolworths costs me only 59c whereas other brands cost as much as $1.40 per can. And the 59c cans come all the way from Italy -- something I have mentioned before.

And the first sentence from the Fairfax news report below is misleading (Fairfax misleading?). The bureaucracy has indeed laboured mightily but the assertion that "The days of cheap tinned tomatoes are over" is nonsense.  The duties recently imposed range between 4% and 8% and they will be levied on the wholesale price.  So say Woolworths buy my 59c can for 50c (it's probably less).  So Woolworths will now have to pay how much extra to put that can on their shelves?  4c.  So now I will have to pay about 65c for my tomatoes.  Why bother?  A 65c can of Italian tomatoes is still going to be hugely competitive  with a $1.40 can of Australian-grown tomatoes.  I can't see the price rise influencing any purchasing decisions at all.

So how come the bureaucracy has laboured and brought forth a nullity? Because it is a rule-following organism. The duty imposed was a dumping duty -- meaning the Italians sell their product for export at a lower prices than they charge local Italian shopkeepers.  They do it because they still have some profit at the lower price and some profit is better than none.  It keeps their volumes and market share up. 

And dumping duty is calculated according to strict rules.  You subtract the price to Australia from the price to Italy and express it as a percentage.  You then add that percentage to the Australian price in the form of an import duty.  So, as it happened, the Italian canners were selling us their tomatoes only a touch more cheaply than they charge Italian customers.  The export discount was minor so the dumping duty was minor.  A bureaucrat with a brain would have said "This is not worth bothering about".  But a bureaucrat is not paid to think.  He is paid to follow rules.  And our lot did exactly that.

But that is not the only absurdity.  The big market for tomatoes is for fresh tomatoes.  As little as 2% of Australian-grown tomatoes end up in cans.  So if Italian canned tomatoes took over completely, it would make no important difference to Australian tomato farming.  The growers would continue growing as before.  The main existing canners are owned by Coca Cola so sympathy for them is probably not large -- and they can lots of other fruit so their production lines would not be likely to lie idle.

So we see yet again why conservatives dislike bureaucracy and why Leftists love it.  Leftists hate the society they live in so much that imposing anything inefficient, costly and wasteful on their society seems great to them.

And it is bureaucracy that created the problem in the first place -- the EU bureaucracy.  EU farmers -- particularly French ones -- are prone to huge tantrums if they are not making enough money.  They blockade things, burn things and generally create havoc.  So to placate them, the EU bureaucracy pays them big subsidies.  That 50c can of tomatoes probably cost $1 to produce -- with the EU taxpayer supplying the other 50c

Ain't government wonderful?

The days of cheap tinned tomatoes are over, with the federal government backing a decision to slap anti-dumping measures on two Italian giants that account for half of imported tinned tomatoes in Australia.

The Anti-Dumping Commission found exporters La Doria and Feger di Gerardo Ferraioli guilty of dumping - selling product for less than they sell for in their own country - and causing "material damage" to the local industry.

Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the government would impose dumping duties on the two players: 8.4 per cent to Feger tomato products and 4.5 per cent to La Doria imports.

"This ruling will ensure that Australia's only canned tomato producer, SPC Ardmona, can now compete equally in Australian stores and supermarkets," he said.

The decision means all 105 canned tomato exporters from Italy will now be affected by dumping duties. An earlier ruling saw Feger and La Doria escape penalty for dumping.

With the price of a 400 gram tin of Italian tomatoes as low as 60 cents on shelves, consumers should expect overall prices to rise. A similar SPC tin is $1.40.

But Coca-Cola Amatil-owned SPC, which has suffered a loss of 40 per cent of volume and reduced profitability during its fight, urged consumers to consider "the quality, value, ethics and food miles" of Australian-grown products.

"This is a win for SPC and our growers, and for Australian industry, which faces daily pressure to compete with cheap imports and those cutting corners and putting slavery in a can," said SPC's managing director Reg Weine.


Mr Weine's "slavery in a can" remark refers to claims that Italian growers use poorly paid illegal immigrants from Muslim lands to do much of their harvesting.  They probably do. Americans would understand

Cardinal George Pell strolls around the Vatican with a friend after denying child sex abuse claims - but is 'too ill' to fly to Australia to answer questions

So there's no difference between a stroll in the morning sunshine and an airline trip from Europe to Australia?  That is what the writer below seems to believe. It's just yellow journalism.

I know nothing of his health but His Eminence is two years older than I am and I no longer fly -- so I can well imagine that he has real health reasons  for his wish to be interviewed by video only

And that he may have other reasons for that I do not dismiss.  As a strong and prominent conservative  -- he even mocks global warming -- he has been much hated by the Australian Left for some years, and he might well fear that evidence presented in an Australian courtroom might be fabricated to incriminate him.  That would be harder in the Vatican. 

False sexual abuse claims have produced huge uproar in Britain recently -- to the great detriment of many innocent men.  London's top cop has recently apologized for one such case.  I have no doubt that His Eminence would be aware of those cases

As police consider travelling to Rome to question Cardinal George Pell over child sex abuse allegations, Australia's top Catholic has been seen strolling along the streets in the early spring sunshine.

Cardinal Pell, 74, dropped into his local café with a friend on Saturday afternoon, the day after explosive revelations that he is the subject of a year-long investigation by Victoria Police for the alleged sexual abuse of up to ten minors from 1978 to 2001.

Just a stone’s throw from St Peter’s Basilica, the Pope's special Jubilee Saturday Mass could be heard from Cardinal Pell’s luxurious apartment block.

Set aside for the Pope’s inner circle, Cardinal Pell's apartment sits on a piazza lined with cafés, souvenir shops and heavy security – Italian police armed with pistols and soldiers with assault rifles patrol the block and intermingle with tourists, padres and nuns alike.

Cardinal Pell’s offices, where he works as a top aid to Pope Frances as Secretariat for the economy reforming The Vatican’s finances, are just a short walk around the corner – and are under 24-hour guard by the city state’s Swiss Armed Guards.

It was revealed last year that the Cardinal spent $5100-a-month on rent for an office and apartment, including $87,000 on new furniture, in a leak to Italy’s L’Espresso newspaper.

But while The Vatican expenses scandal is still the talk of the town in Rome, Cardinal Pell has more explosive allegations made against him back in Australia.

Police want to fly to Vatican City to interview Cardinal George Pell who allegedly sexually abused up to 10 minors between 1978 and 2001, it has been reported.

Ballarat Survivors Group and Care Leavers Australasis Network are also calling for police to take their allegations to Pell.

The Cardinal was seen briskly striding from his offices to his apartment with a small suitcase in tow just hours after the Herald Sun reported the leak on Friday.

However Cardinal Pell vehemently denies the allegations.

A two-page medical report was handed up to support the application that a flight to Australia from Rome, where Cardinal Pell oversees the Vatican's finances, could pose a serious risk to his health.

The details of his health condition have not been released.


Sexy conservative woman hated by feminists

Tamara has been involved in conservative politics in Australia for some time and has recently been active in U.S. politics too
A young woman who has been shamed online as a 'tax-payer funded call girl' has hit back at social media bullies by arguing not all women in politics need to fit into the 'pearl necklace and royal blue' stereotype.

PHD student, proud Liberal Party supporter and part-time model, Tamara 'Tammy' Candy, 27, from Sydney says her bullies will soon be able to call her 'Dr Candy' The Daily Telegraph reported.

'A lot of young women in politics think they need to emulate that stereotype to prove they are legitimate but I've always marched to the beat of my own drum'.

She says she isn't the typical 'pearl wearing' Liberal.  'I'm a true libertarian. We can't all be private school-educated Liberals,' she said.

The young woman who calls her self a 'righty' has shared 'selfies' on Instagram featuring ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Liberal MP Campbell Newman and 'shock-jock' Alan Jones - alongside revealing bikini shots.

Ms Candy has many revealing photographs on social media, including pictures of herself in revealing outfits at political functions.

She says she was speaking with disgraced MP Craig Thompson at an event one night when she was allegedly accused of 'wearing hooker boots' and once again, being a 'call girl' by a female Labor staffer.

She has recently been on the campaign trail in America

'It's really sexist stuff. These are people who are supposed to be pro-women from the Left,' she said.

Ms Candy is currently studying for her PHD at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

She has recently been working on Paul Rand's campaign trail in the United States, posting photos of her travels on Facebook.

'I would like to thank Senator Rand Paul for fighting the good fight. It was an honour to campaign for him and to make some new friends from his incredible team,' she posted as her work with the Republican's party finished.

During the campaign the young woman was photographed posing with a sign which read 'Obama the worst ever'.


Berlin shows the advantage of a libertarian approach to alcohol consumption

The NSW government has attempted to reduce late-night violence and disorder in parts of Sydney by enforcing early closing of bars and nightclubs.  The measure is very unpopular with the denizens concerned.  We see another way below

IT’S fair to say that Berlin is a city that likes a drink. People wander the streets with a beer in hand day and night, clubs don’t shut from Friday night to Monday morning and fast food shops have a range of brews that would put some Australian bottle shops to shame.

So if there is a link between heavy alcohol consumption and violence, as the NSW Government seems to argue, you’d be entitled to think that this place should be in big trouble.

But it’s really not. And that can mainly be attributed to the difference in how people drink here.

I moved to Berlin from Sydney just under a year ago and noticed it after just a couple of nights. Here, you don’t tend to see the obnoxious binge drinking behaviour that you do from time to time in areas of Sydney — there’s no trays of shots, no loud, public sculling of beers and no vomiting in the street.

Because this is the prevailing culture in Berlin venues, it has become largely self-policing.

There’s no need for bouncers in bars or uniformed police on the streets in most areas of the city because people are trusted to behave. And they generally respond positively to that trust.

Everything starts a little later here too. Most bars don’t really come to life until about 10pm and most won’t close until the last punter has finished their drink. Even then you can buy whatever you fancy from the hundreds of Spätkauf (convenience stores) that line the streets, 24 hours a day.

This all combines to give the sense that people are not rushing to drink as much as they can before last orders, so there’s rarely any hassles getting to the bar and no cramming in drinks, while 24 hour weekend trains make it easy to get home.

It all makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere and, as a result, it’s not at all unusual to strike up a long conversation with a stranger. I’ve yet to see any of these conversations turn sour.

And it’s not just me. Almost everyone you talk to here says they’ve seen little or no evidence of violence on a night out — they feel safe.

Maggie Tang, who moved to the city from Sydney three years ago, is one such example. She believes Sydney could pick up a few tips from her adopted home.

"The major difference is the attitude of trust and freedom towards drinking in Berlin compared to Sydney," she said.

"Although Berlin is more carefree, it never feels out of control. I think it might have something to do with the legal drinking age (16 in Germany), the openness towards licensing and trading hours and access to transport. Also the binge drinking culture — there is definitely far, far less of that in Berlin."

Sydney’s lockout laws have become big international news of late and most of the Berliners I’ve spoken to find the restrictions utterly baffling. Franziska Dittrich, who was born in the German capital, described Sydney’s approach as "absolutely ridiculous" and said education was vital.

"Drinking is part of everyday life, but people usually don’t drink as much to get drunk," she said. "It is much more important to teach people how to drink, like in schools. Show them the danger of it, rather than demonising it."

She added that Berliners tend to be a little stubborn and that any attempt to change their drinking culture to a more controlled one would be rejected.

"If they tried to introduce something like those laws here, people would ignore it or find a way around it" she said. "For example the smoking ban didn’t work at all in Berlin."

It seems that the authorities are happy with the situation as it is too. Berlin’s police force don’t even record whether alcohol is a factor in violent crimes

So could the Berlin approach work in Sydney or do Sydney drinkers need tighter legislation because it’s intrinsically a more violent and less safe city?

Numbeo, a website which provides extensive data on cities based on a peer review system doesn’t think Sydney is much more dangerous than Berlin at all. It puts Berlin’s overall ‘Safety Scale’ score (the closer to 100 the better) at 58.86 and Sydney’s at 58.26.

Really, the thing that seems to be stopping Sydney from following Berlin’s lead (aside from the laws) is the attitude of those few who are violent, or who become so when drunk. It’s an element of Australia’s drinking culture that’s proven tricky to change.

When it comes down to it, the main difference between the two is trust. Berlin trusts its citizens to look after themselves and others — and people respond well to it. The question is whether Sydney can do the same — and how its citizens will respond.


Global satellite map highlights sensitivity of Australia's plants to changes in rainfall and temperature

The report below is about warm dry conditions in Australia and the effect of that on plant life in Australia.  Warm dry conditions are normal for most of Australia so any attribution of such effects to global warming is just empty assertion

A point not drawn out below is that the adaptation to warm dry conditions shown by Australian plant life might make them particularly resilient to effects of global warming, if we ever have any

The plant life of Australia's outback may have "given up", according to satellite-based maps tracking the impact of changing climatic conditions, such as rainfall and temperature, on the world's ecosystems.

The study suggests the vegetation of our interior does not respond to sudden increases in rainfall because it has "learned" that drought will soon follow.

It also indicates the Murray-Darling Basin is one of the world's most ecologically sensitive zones, and highlights the fact that Australian flora is most sensitive to changes in water availability.

The maps are part of a study, published today in the journal Nature, that analyses 14 years of satellite data measuring the key climate variables of air temperature, water availability and cloud cover.

The researchers, from Norway and the UK, have developed a new measure, known as the vegetation sensitivity index, which compares on a global scale the productivity of vegetation under changing climate.

How ecosystems will adapt to climate change into the future is based on their responses to many of these climate variables.

Through this modelling the team was able to pinpoint regions across the globe that are showing an "amplified" response to climate variation and may be at risk of collapse.

The eastern region of Australia is included in this category along with the Arctic Tundra, the wet tropical forests of South America, western Africa, south-east Asia and New Guinea, the world's alpine regions, Brazil's Caatinga biome and the steppe and prairie regions of central Asia and the Americas.

Professor Angela Moles, of the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the study was unique because it gave a deeper insight into the impact of extreme events on ecosystems.

"Most research on the effect of climate change has focused on changes in mean temperature or mean rainfall," said Professor Moles, who was not involved in the study. "However, climate models predict that climate extremes are going to change far more dramatically than are climate means.

For some reason the vegetation is not responding to the variability in the climate that we are experiencing. Large portions of plants in the interior don't seem to do anything."

Professor Alfredo Huete, from the Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster at the University of Technology, Sydney, agreed.  "[With this study] we are getting a lot closer to what the plant actually experiences," he said.  "You can have all of your rainfall in one week and the statistics will show it was a good year. But it can just take one month of no rain and that might be what drives a plant to the edge."

Professor Moles said the paper also gave insights into which aspects of climate were the most important in shaping different vegetation types around the world.   "For instance, the study confirms that most of Australia is most sensitive to variability in water, rather than to temperature, which highlights the importance of thinking of the problem we face as climate change, rather than global warming," she said.

Professor Moles said it was also interesting that while there were areas of very high climate sensitivity in the east of Australia, the study showed our inland ecosystems were among the world's least sensitive to climate variability, particularly in terms of rainfall.

Professor Huete said the researchers suggested this constant level of low productivity was the result of "memory".  "Sometimes when you subject an ecosystem to some kind of disturbance, such as a drought or fire, they behave differently depending on their past," he explained.

The study indicated significant areas of the Australian interior seemed to be having strong memory effects, said Professor Huete, who wrote an opinion piece for Nature to accompany the new study.   "For some reason the vegetation is not responding to the variability in the climate that we are experiencing. Large portions of plants in the interior don't seem to do anything," he said.

Professor Huete said it was possible plants in the Australian outback had "given up".  "They don't care if it is good favourable conditions now, because they know it is temporary and it is not worth investing in growing more at this time because they become bigger and it is a lot more to care of when the drought returns," he said.

He said the maps were a useful tool in better understanding how ecosystems were reacting to climate change, but there was still a long way to go before scientists would be able to predict "when a forest is going to experience mortality".

"The satellite is taking pictures of what has happened on the ground. They can tell you there is something going on, but rarely can the satellite pictures tell you what is happening or why," he said.

Professor Moles said while large-scale remote-sensing studies could provide high-quality quantitative information on large-scale processes, it could never replace on-ground research.

"For instance, remote sensing will never be a good way to survey rare and threatened species, such as little orchids," he said.


A good comment

I doubt that any reader of this site has any idea that I have a younger brother who is at least as conservative as I am.  He doesn't blog but he does occasionally post on Facebook.  I think his comment below deserves a wider audience

There is a fierce debate going on over marriage equality in response to an article by Fr Frank Brennnan on the Guardian web site. There are over 500 comments, over 90% supportive of marriage equality, but highly critical of the plebiscite. This is to be expected of a very Leftist publication and its supporters.

I don't really care one way or the other, but support the plebiscite. However I enjoy pointing out Leftist inconsistencies and posted up the following comment.

"I am very concerned about the feelings of our Muslim brothers. After all they believe homosexuality is a mortal sin, and certainly don't believe in same sex marriage. I'm sure they will be very offended, so doesn't that make marriage equality illegal under section 18C of the Anti- discrimination act!?"

It lasted an hour or so and elicited a couple of responses before the moderators took it down as being inconsistent with community values! LOL.  So the Guardian really has no time for debate and free speech, only the pursuit of leftist agendas

21 February, 2016

Disruptive Green/Left "protests" to be legally curbed in Western Australia

That's long overdue but far-Left "New Matilda" (below) is on its high horse condemning it. They say the word "thing" is too vague but it is not.  It is the use to which the thing is put that defines it.  If it is used to disrupt other people's lives and activities it's use becomes illegal.  It's sheer Fascist arrogance that the Green/Left think they have a right to disrupt other people's lives in pursuit of their personal demons

The mention of U.N. "rapporteurs" is amusing.  They must be the most unjudicial people on the planet.  They regularly condemn Anglosphere countries and Israel while remaining silent about real abuses in Muslim and African countries

The West Australian government has eschewed the alarm of not one, not two, but three United Nations Special Rapporteurs, and is pressing ahead with a bill that will criminalise legitimate protest activity.

As New Matilda reported in March last year, the Coalition government is moving to criminalise - quite literally - the possession of a "thing". Overnight the draconian anti-protest bill passed through the Legislative Council. It will now proceed to the Legislative Assembly.

If passed, the laws will reverse the onus of proof, giving police extraordinary powers. It carries penalties that would land peaceful protestors in prison for one year, along with a $12,000 fine, or two years and $24,000 in "circumstances of aggravation".

Collin Barnett's Coalition government controls both houses of the West Australian Parliament, leaving Labor and the Greens impotent in their virulent opposition.

Earlier this week three UN Special Rapporteurs - David Kaye, on freedom of expression; Maina Kiai, on freedom of peaceful assembly and association; and Michel Forst, on human rights defenders - slammed the bill in its entirety.

"The proposed legislation will have the chilling effect of silencing dissenters and punishing expression protected by international human rights law," Kaye warned.

"Instead of having a necessary [and]legitimate aim, the Bill's offence provisions disproportionately criminalise legitimate protest actions," he said.

The West Australian government has made clear that the law was inspired by the effectiveness of protest methods at James Price Point and in anti-logging campaigns in the state's south-west.

In their strident criticism, the three United Nations Special Rapporteurs outlined their concerns.

"If the bill passes, it would go against Australia's international obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression as well as peaceful assembly and association," they said in a joint statement.

"The bill would criminalise a wide range of legitimate conduct by creating criminal offences for the acts of physically preventing a lawful activity and possessing an object for the purpose of preventing a lawful activity."

"For example, peaceful civil disobedience and any non-violent direct action could be characterised as `physically preventing a lawful activity.'"

The government openly admits it is trying to criminalise the use of objects - like `thumb locks', `arm-locks', `tree-sits', or chains - to prevent big developers from conducting their legally approved business.

This is not made clear in the bill, though, which refers only to a "thing" which could be used to prevent "a lawful activity". The President of the West Australian Law Society, Mathew Keogh has previously told New Matilda this "represents a breakdown of the rule of law".

Because of this broad drafting, the bill could be applied to activities other than those the government claims to be targeting, like a union picket line. According to Keogh, "the legislation is so broad it is almost impossible to say how they may be applied down the track".

In addition, anyone who falls foul of the legislation could be forced by the courts to pay police and developers' "reasonable expenses" for the removal of the physical barrier.

According to Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai, "it discourages legitimate protest activity and instead, prioritises business and government resource interests over the democratic rights of individuals".


RRip! It takes a woman to rip another woman to pieces

A woman rises to prominence in Australia and feminist academic lawyer Skye Saunders sneeringly responds (below).  She is on a slow burn below about a conservative woman calling herself a girl.  Feminists hated Margaret Thatcher and Fiona Nash seems to be next in line.  If feminists were primarily interested in empowering women you would think that a woman rising to power would be celebrated.  That it is not shows that Feminists are Leftists first.  Hate is what drives them

"Fiona Nash blazes trail for Nats women," declared the headlines this week.

The embodiment of authentic practicality and fortitude, the newly appointed Nationals deputy leader addressed the media with unwavering confidence. Flanked by a border of supportive crisp shirts and ties, the first woman in Australian history to hold a leadership position in the Nationals affirmed that it was an exciting time for regional -Australia.

But there was a subtle moment during Thursday night's media conference that signified a further ripeness for change.

It happened when Nash was asked: "How will this be a different leadership?" Her response, infused with a tinkly laugh, was: "Probably one of the most obvious differences - I'm a girl."

I am a girl.

A common colloquial term for describing a female adult, playing on enchantment of youth and fresh vulnerability.

Glorious female friendships adopt the term girl to signal so many events of the heart - -indeed, doing anything "with the girls" invokes familiarity and fun. A "coffee with the girls" can be soul food.

But the context in which the term is used is so important.

"I am a girl" is a sentence that trembles under the weight of all that it signifies for women.

Anne Summers reminds that women have gradually acquired a "kind of gut knowledge" that they are outsiders.

To be a girl is not to be a man. Literally, in fact, to be a girl is not even to be a woman.

When a woman refers to herself as a girl, she paints herself as doubly vulnerable.

In some contexts - such as between friends - to give of certain vulnerability is a precious human gift. But in the public moment that the deputy leader of the nationals (elect) referred to herself as a girl, she identified as a junior form of a woman - and the subconscious shift in the conference dynamic was immediate.

Nestled between the six or seven men, there was the girl.

It has been said that women who work in male-saturated -environments are essentially "damned if they do, and damned if they don't". That is, they are damned if they don't impress as being as "good as the men", but they must not threaten the social order by becoming too far removed from the stereotypical feminine persona.

Consciously or not, Nash disarmed any threat to the traditional gender order on Thursday night by choosing a word to describe her status as a National leader that simply did not do her justice - a girl.

Inherent in her response was a familiar echo of the disarming way that women must carry themselves in traditionally male rural spaces, using gender as a tool to express suitable humility and self-deprecation.

More than 15 years ago in The Real Matilda, Miriam Dixson showed that as a dominant social group, men generally had been able to get women to conform to the most convenient definitions of their essential character.

It's time that we as women become serious about changing the dialogue. The deputy leader of the Nationals (elect) is now in a position to identify publicly as an esteemed politician and effective leader of our country.

In doing so, she will exemplify the natural confidence and dignity that we must foster in all Australian women, and particularly those in the male-dominated rural sphere. It truly is time to shine.



Compromise sought on 'backpacker tax' as working holiday-makers threaten to leave Australia

Backpackers do for Australia what Hispanic illegal immigrants do for the USA -- harvest fruit and vegetables.  Food prices would have to shoot up without them and foods that are presently grown in Australia would have to be imported from Asia.  So this tax-hungry move would be disastrous

Moves are underway within the Federal Coalition to find a compromise for the controversial 32.5 per cent backpacker tax, slated to take effect in July.

The agriculture industry is worried the tax will cause a labour shortfall and stifle the growth of the nation's $10 billion horticulture sector.

Some rural MPs are questioning whether the proposed tax will generate the full $540 million forecast by Treasury over the next three years.

The change will see foreigners on working holiday visas taxed 32.5 cents from the first dollar they earn, and a scrapping of the $18,200 tax-free threshold.

"It is the harvest-dependent international backpacker scene that we want to see continue and not suddenly disappear," Liberal Member for Murray Sharman Stone said.

Dr Stone, who also chairs the Coalition's Agriculture Policy Committee, said the tax could generate less income than expected if future working holiday-makers were deterred by the prospect of lower wages.

"We've looked at what the tax take might be as a contribution to the budget, but if we have fewer backpackers arriving that tax take is a lot less when calculated," she said.

"We have been encouraged by the [Agriculture] Minister to look at a package which might make it less a case of the backpacker seeing a third or so of their salary going."

One option being discussed, according to Dr Stone, is changes to superannuation arrangements for backpackers.

Currently working holiday makers have to pay superannuation, but can get some of it back when they leave the country.

"We also take superannuation off their pay checks which is a lot of red tape, a lot of bureaucracy, and the employer has to contribute to that," Ms Stone said.

"We are hard at it thinking of how to get around the unintended consequences of the tax take for this category of worker because when it comes to horticulture, our abattoirs our piggeries, our dairy industry, quite frankly we couldn't do without this international labour coming in."


There was a time when journalists backed free speech

By Chris Uhlmann.  The tweet he refers to is here

It was a liberating experience. In a morning moment of madness I had decided to tweet into the maelstrom of media rage created by former prime minister Tony Abbott's decision to fly to the US to address the Alliance Defending Freedom.

It had been prompted by an interview where an American tolerance commissar opined it was appalling, in a democracy, that people opposed to abortion and gay marriage were allowed to air their toxic views.

This progressive truth was so self-evident it went unremarked by the interviewer.

My clear intent was neither to defend Abbott's world view nor his decision to speak to a cabal of "reactionary" Christians on the hand-grenade topic "the importance of the family". It was simply to say: "Once upon a time journalists believed in free speech ."

It seemed an unremarkable intervention. It wasn't surprising that there was a social media storm in the Twitter teacup because its obsessives are always stewing over something. But that defending free speech could be cast as a crime against tolerance screams something very disturbing about our times.

That some who lit torches with the mob were journalists says a lot about the state of the media. These reporters have appointed themselves the prefects of progressive verities. That is disturbing because when journalists parade as pointers to moral true North then check your bearings, we have drifted badly off course. Yet I had naively hoped that free speech was one of the few things on which journalists in a democracy could agree: neutral ground in the culture wars. I had long feared this was not the case and so it proved.

And that was liberating: a Damascene moment of self-discovery. I had become a radical by standing still. For in an age where being a revolutionary is traditional, then being traditional is revolutionary.

There was another insight. We had reached a historic inflection point. Nearly 90 years after Antonio Gramsci began writing his letters from Benito Mussolini's prison, Marxism's long march through Western institutions was reaching its end.

From his cell Gramsci wrestled with why workers in the West weren't rising up to cast out the ruling class, as Marx predicted they would.  Gramsci pitied them because, he deduced, they were victims of false consciousness.  They had been brainwashed by a vast array of religious, intellectual and cultural institutions into believing their interests and the state's coalesced.

"The state is the entire complex of practical and theoretical activities with which the ruling class not only justifies and maintains its dominance but manages to win the active consent of those over whom it rules," he wrote.

It seems never to have occurred to Gramsci that the workers recognised Marxism for what it was: a prescription for a tyranny so profound it sought to colonise people's minds.

But if the people wouldn't buy a bad idea, there was one eager market: Europe's intellectuals. Gramsci proposed they begin a grinding "war of position" to take the commanding heights of the bureaucracy, universities and the media. Once there they would scrub the landscape clean of Western values.

"Cultural policy will above all be negative, a critique of the past; it will be aimed at erasing from the memory and at destroying," he wrote.

As social projects go, this wasteland was a tough sell, but neo-Marxists are nothing if not dogged. They built critical theory as a vehicle for change and began the deconstruction of the West.

Frankfurt School academics fleeing Adolf Hitler's Germany transmitted the intellectual virus to the US and set about systematically destroying the culture of the society that gave them sanctuary.

America's freedom of speech was its achilles heel. Critical theorists were given university pulpits and a constitutionally ordained right to preach, grinding its foundation stones to dust. Since 1933 they have been hellbent on destroying the village to save it.

When Herbert Marcuse wrote Repressive Tolerance 50 years ago, the hope that his ideas would become mainstream was a distant dream. But, if they did, he had developed a plan for reversing the polarity of freedom.

Marcuse cautioned his disciples not to be so foolish as to afford the courtesy of free speech to their opponents.  "Certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behaviour cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude," he wrote.

Tolerance is the totem of our age, a bumper sticker of virtue. Yet hidden in its many meanings is the doublespeak of defining what will be taboo. It is now considered tolerant to demand silence from nonconformists.

When the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission says the Catholic Church has a case to answer for robustly defending its views on marriage and the family, then we have seen a glimpse of the Marcusian future. And it is just one gust of the gale buffeting a society hollowed out by its intellectuals.

I hoped to remain indifferent to the inevitable change in marriage laws. But that will be impossible if those who cast themselves as oppressed seek to become oppres-sors. If offending the new ruling hegemony is prohibited then I stand with the right of the minority to disagree.

Stripped of their fashionable clothes, what's striking about the tolerance police is how similar these new moralists are to the old. They pursue heretics with an inquisitor's zeal, blinded by the righteousness of their cause.

In A Man for All Seasons Thomas More's son-in-law William Roper declared he would knock down every law in England to get at the devil.

"Oh?" More says "And when the last law was down and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat . I'd give the Devil the benefit of the law, for my own safety's sake."


Food fanaticism getting beyond a joke

THE food police have struck again, with watermelon, bananas and strawberries off the menu in school lunch boxes.

As schools and kinders grapple with spiralling food allergies, some are advising parents that even certain fruit and vegetables should be binned.

Packing the children's lunch is becoming a headache for parents with an ever-growing list of foods to dodge, with junk food, soft drinks and birthday cakes given the thumbs down in many healthy eating policies.

Point Cook P-9 College has urged parents to avoid sending bananas, watermelon, soy, wheat, eggs, dairy, and nuts in lunches due to minor allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Principal Frank Vetere said they didn't have explicit bans on any food, but had contacted families whose children had classmates with allergies.

"There seems to be a growing number of students with allergies, and we try to manage it the best we can with proactive measures," he said.

"We have 20 students with allergies and they are all different.

"With every class that has a child with an allergy, we send out a letter to the families."

Strawberries, grapes, spinach, chocolate, lollies, chips, jelly, dried noodles, fried foods and muesli bars are other items schools and kinders are ditching due to allergy and obesity fears.

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Professor Katie Allen said there were rising rates of food allergies and intolerances around the world, and fruit was one of the rarer ones.

She said allergic reactions could only develop from eating the food, and banning items was not the wisest choice, except for young children in childcare centres or kinder.

"In schools it creates a false sense of security, and you can end up with lunch box Nazis," she said.

"Instead we say not sharing food is the best public health message to send, for a range of reasons."

As schools fight the obesity epidemic, Surrey Hills Primary has told parents that lollies and chocolate won't be used as rewards in the classroom, or cakes and sweets for birthdays.

Instead, teachers use "a range of strategies" to recognise birthdays or a "job well done".

Wooragee Primary School is cracking down on sugar-laden and fatty food and even sends uneaten lunches home so families are aware of their child's food consumption.

Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh said it was getting harder for schools to deal with the explosion of food allergies.

"It's quite inhibiting for schools, feeding students on school camps can be tricky and they are having to train teachers in use of EpiPens," she said.

"But we have to make sure students are safe."

The Education Department does not advocate bans at schools but a commonsense approach to ensure students are safe.

Spokesman Simon Craig said advice was continually reviewed as research emerged.

"We have a rigorous set of policies and procedures in place to help our schools minimise the risk of anaphylaxis and food allergies and effectively manage any reactions, including individual health management plans for each child who identifies as having a serious allergy," he said.


19 February, 2016

Plastic pollution threat 'on par to global warming'

Most of what is said below is probably right.  But there is an invisible elephant in the room:  Nobody is saying where the plastic is coming from.  Why?  Because it mostly comes from poor countries.  Developed countries are meticulous about what they do with their garbage.  So the problem is NOT something that "we" have to deal with at all.  And until someone gets the courage to point the finger to where the blame belongs, the problem will only grow worse

Seabirds are dying at an alarming rate from plastic in our oceans, while the pollution problem flies under the radar, a Senate inquiry has been told.

A seabird common to Australia is being killed by marine plastic pollution at the alarming rate of one in 10, a Senate inquiry has been told.

A study found 11 per cent of young flesh-footed shearwater birds - common visitors to Australian coasts - were dying from ingesting plastic or from plastic chemical contamination, the inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution heard.

"This would be happening in other species as well," the study's author, marine biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers, told a public hearing in Sydney on Thursday.

The inquiry, called for by Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, is investigating the impacts of marine plastic pollution on animals and ecosystems, fisheries, small business and human health.

Dr Lavers' research partner Ian Hutton said one bird was found with 274 pieces of plastic in its stomach - 14 per cent of its body weight.

"That's the equivalent of a human carrying a pillowcase full of plastic in his stomach," he said.

Dr Lavers said although the scale of the marine pollution problem was on par with major challenges such as global warming and sea level rise, research was chronically underfunded.

"This is a very, very significant, ubiquitous threat that is rapidly increasing in pace, showing absolutely no signs of stopping," she said.

"Our understanding of the complex issues, including things like chemical pollution, is so incredibly poor, we're really just starting at the basic level."

Clean Up Australia executive chairman Ian Kiernan called for governments to introduce container refund schemes like the one used in South Australia.

He also suggested plastic bottle caps and lids be permanently attached to their containers to cut down on waste entering waterways.

"(Plastic) is a fantastic product ... but it is a horrific waste material," he said.  "It is so durable, it is so cumulative.

"We have got to change our behaviour to address these problems."

Representatives from Oceanwatch and the Surfrider Foundation Australia are due to appear at the inquiry on Thursday afternoon.

A public hearing has been scheduled in Canberra next Friday, and another in Brisbane on March 10.


Another medical scientist who has got no clue

Despite it being her field, dear little Katie below has not a clue about peanut allergies.  The only prophylaxis against peanut allergies is to expose the child to peanut products from weaning on.  They do it in Israel and Israel has virtually no peanut allergies.

And East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines use a lot of peanuts and peanut oil. Peanut oil is the cooking oil to East Asia that olive oil is to Southern Europe.  Peanuts are very oily little kernels. So children born there are less likely to have allergies.  When their parents come to Australia, however, they usually develop a compromise diet, eating some cheap Western food such as McDonalds.  I once even saw a waiter in a Chinese restaurant eating a bag of McDonalds fries.  So their kids don't get the same exposure to peanuts.  That is how the effects described below come about.  It's just diet.

The academic journal article is: "Nut allergy prevalence and differences between Asian born children and Australian born children of Asian descent: a state-wide survey of children at primary school entry in Victoria, Australia"

Being born in Asia protects Australian schoolchildren from nut allergies triggered by the local environment, the first and largest population study of its kind finds.

The study of 57,000 Australian schoolchildren in Victoria comes as Australia struggles with a growing epidemic of food allergies.

The new research finds Australian-born children with Asian mothers have higher rates of peanut and nut allergies than Asian-born children who migrate to Australia.
Something in the environment is driving the allergic epidemic, researchers say.

Something in the environment is driving the allergic epidemic, researchers say.

The study by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the University of Melbourne found being born in Asia seemed to be protective because these children were exposed to a different diet, and bacterial and UV environment.

The findings were exciting because they provided solid evidence that "there's something in the environment that's driving this allergic epidemic", Murdoch Childrens Research Institute researcher Professor Katie Allen told ABC News.

Admissions to hospital in Australia due to anaphylactic shock have tripled over 13 years. They have increased more than sevenfold among children aged five to 14. Allergies to peanuts are the most persistent and dangerous allergies, with the highest lifetime risk for anaphylaxis.

The study also found children from urban areas - such as Melbourne, which has been dubbed the "allergy capital of the world" - are more likely to have a nut allergy than children from rural regions.

Nut allergies were also more common among children of mothers with higher education and socio-economic status. Some of this was attributed to higher reporting rates by parents who are more likely to seek help.

Researchers analysed the results of school entry health reports completed by the parents of 57,000 children, a report filled out by a parent or guardian about their child's health and wellbeing at the beginning of primary school in Victoria.

Of the 57,000 respondents, 2892 parents reported a food allergy (5 per cent) and 1761 reported a nut allergy (3.1 per cent). While Australian-born children of Asian descent were more likely to have nut allergy than non-Asian children, children born in Asia who migrated to Australia were at decreased risk.

Professor Allen said that migration from Asia after the early-infant period appeared to be a protective factor against the development of nut allergy.

"We know there are rising rates of migration from East Asia to Australia," she said.

"Our finding that migration from Asia to Australia after birth can protect against early onset allergic disease such as food allergy provides a potent clue for us to follow when trying to understand why food allergy is on the rise," she said.

Removing children from the Asian environment, or conversely exposing them to environmental risk factors in our Western environment - such as diet changes, microbial and UV exposure - uncovered a genetically determined risk of food allergy in children of Asian descent.


His eminence  George Pell is the victim of a vicious witch hunt

Andrew Bolt

CARDINAL George Pell is the victim of one of the most vicious witch hunts to disgrace this country. It is shameful. Disgusting. Frightening.  People pretending to be moral have competed with each other to slime Pell as the defender of paedophiles, if not a paedophile himself.

There is no mercy and no attention to the facts. There is just the joy of hatred. Check the snarling glee on the face of comedian Tim Minchin as he sang a hymn of hatred to Pell on Channel 10's The Project on Tuesday.

"Scum," he called Pell, who is too ill to fly from Rome to give evidence (for the third time) to our royal commission into child sex abuse.

"Coward," he jeered, vilifying Pell for more than four minutes of prime-time television, falsely portraying him as a defender - even a friend - of paedophile priests.

(Note to Project host Waleed Aly: would you have screened four minutes of unbridled hatred for a Muslim cleric?)

Meanwhile, the ABC promoted a crowd-funding effort by Project presenters to raise the money to send former victims to Rome to "confront" the cardinal with "face-to-face contact".

To stoke up hatred of Pell, it also published a mocked-up picture of the cardinal driving a car of huge rock-spiders, code for paedophiles.

ABC News also falsely claimed "the commission has heard from child abuse victim David Ridsdale that Cardinal Pell tried to bribe him to keep quiet" about his abuse by his uncle - when Ridsdale in fact told the commission, "I never have said that he bribed me".

And many media outlets sternly reported Pell wouldn't "face the victims" in person at the royal commission, without adding he'd faced victims repeatedly.

Pell has met victims privately and twice given evidence with victims present - to the royal commission and a Victorian inquiry into child sex abuse.

Indeed, in 1996 he became the first senior person here, in church or in government, to confront the horror of sexual abuse of children.

Only three months after becoming archbishop of Melbourne, he created the Melbourne Response to help victims. No bishop of any other church had done anything like it.

Yet no insult of this man has been enough in a campaign of public denigration, even dehumanisation.

Channel 9's 60 Minutes interviewed an English abuse victim who'd never met Pell and seemed uninformed on crucial details yet still felt free to defame him as "a dangerous individual" and "almost sociopathic" with a "catalogue of denigrating people".

But this is the mob at its most vile: each person feeling licensed by the brutality of the rest to be brutal, too.

If "everybody else" hates someone, then that person must deserve hating. You can surrender your own judgment and conscience and give in to the pure pleasure of unbridled hatred, disguised as moral righteousness.

Viciousness dressed as morality: is there anything sweeter to the stupid, the resentful and the bully? Ask the "godly" who murdered the "witches" of Salem. Ask the jihadists who now behead "infidels". Pell's accusers are not violent but flirt with that same pitiless sanctimony.

"Die Pell," urged a headline on The Age's Facebook page and many of those now demanding he fly here don't seem to mind if he does.

The Sydney Morning Herald published snide items urging Pell to get on a plane, despite being told by cardiologists that Pell's medical advisers were right - it could kill the 74-year-old, given his heart problems.

No mercy in The Age, though. "Unwilling to trust his God," sneered one headline.

Former NSW Labor premier Kristina Keneally even taunted: "Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another."

Nor did anyone seem to care that Pell will give exactly the same evidence from Rome he would give if he flew here. He is not fleeing justice like, say, Julian Assange, the hero of this same Left.

No, the mob is just hungry for a scapegoat and wants Pell close enough to humiliate.

It's the primitive moral calculus of the tribalist: that an injustice to one side can be made good with an injustice to the other.

It's enough that Pell is now our most senior member of the Catholic Church, which once betrayed so many children.

But what makes him an even better target for the Left is that's he's a conservative who has defended traditional marriage, attacked global warming alarmism and correctly seen the green faith as a competitor to his own.

He'll do, they cry.

How Pell has, as a human being, survived their onslaught astonishes me. Worst of all, he was falsely accused of having himself abused a boy when a young priest, although an inquiry that later looked into this highly dubious claim found no proof of any such thing.

It's continued. A former child victim of one Ballarat priest claimed in the royal commission that in 1969 Pell heard him pleading for help but did nothing - only for Pell to later produce his passport, showing he'd been in Rome that year.

But people such as Minchin still claim the young Pell must have known his then Ballarat housemate and fellow priest, Gerald Ridsdale, was abusing children - an allegation Pell denies. Yet none question the word of another young priest who shared a house with Ridsdale, Paul Bongiorno, a Leftist and now ABC commentator, who says he had no idea, either. "Ridsdale never came to the presbytery in Warrnambool and said, `Guess how many boys I've raped today?'," Bongiorno said. "They hide it."

And they hid it from Pell, who has repeatedly denied on oath protecting paedophiles or keeping crimes hidden.

Neither of the two inquiries so far has yet found proof that he's lying. Even Gerald Ridsdale, the worst of the paedophile priests, failed to incriminate Pell in the royal commission last year.

His evidence, suggesting Pell knew nothing, seemed to anger the royal commission. Justice Peter McClellan even warned Ridsdale the commission could find out who visited him in jail before he'd given evidence, which seemed to suggest McClellan had expected more damning stuff from Ridsdale and suspected he'd been nobbled.

In fact, the royal commission has throughout seemed only too ready to doubt Pell's word whenever his recollection conflicted with his accusers'.

It has also asked Pell to give evidence three times - more than any other witness - in what is now becoming a punishment by process.

Pell knows his church betrayed many children and protected the priests who preyed on them. He knows he could have handled the scandal better, but nothing I've seen so far shows he protected paedophiles.


If that changes, I will damn him then, but right now there is proof of only this: a witch hunt to destroy an innocent man for the sins of others.

Shame on every coward who joins this vicious mob. You claim you stand for good, yet you show such gloating evil.


Brandis defends Pell

Attorney-General George Brandis has cautioned members of the public against second-guessing the judgment of the royal commission's stance on Cardinal George Pell.

Mr Brandis said the commission chairman, Peter McClellan, was an eminent NSW judge and his decision should be respected.

Cardinal Pell is due to give evidence from Rome via an audiovisual link on health grounds, but abuse survivors groups believe he should come home and appear in person.

"Cardinal Pell is giving evidence by video conference - which is not at all unusual, by the way - as a result of orders and directions made by the Royal Commission itself. Those people who have gone into the public arena to criticise that, are in fact criticising the orders that have been made by the Royal Commissioner and calling them into question," Senator Brandis told ABC TV.

"I think frankly the Royal Commission, the Royal Commissioner, and the manner in which the Royal Commissioner chooses to arrange the Royal Commission, should be respected by everyone."

Cardinal Pell today responded to calls for him to return to Australia to give evidence to the child abuse royal commission by noting hearing arrangements are a matter for the inquiry.

"It is ultimately a matter for the Royal Commission to determine the precise arrangements for the provision of evidence by the Cardinal in Rome," his office said in a statement on Thursday.

"The cardinal will continue to co-operate with whatever arrangements the royal commission determines."

This week a crowd-funding effort raised more than $160,000 to help Ballarat clergy abuse victims travel to Rome for the cardinal's testimony due to be given on February 29. However, it remains uncertain whether they will be able to physically attended the hearing.

The commission is still determining what the arrangements will be.

The crowd-funding initiative got an enormous boost on Wednesday when comedian and singer/songwriter Tim Minchin released a single calling on Cardinal Pell to come back.

The cardinal's office says he's "anxious to present the facts without further delays".

"As Cardinal Pell has done after earlier hearings, he is prepared to meet with and listen to victims and express his ongoing support," the statement said.

Three days have been set aside for Cardinal Pell's third royal commission appearance.

It will focus on the Catholic Church's handling of widespread abuse over decades in the Ballarat diocese and Melbourne archdiocese.

Clergy abuse victims say they are humbled by the community response and fundraising effort to get them to Rome.

Member Stephen Woods said the group had been moved by the public's generosity and he personally felt humbled, particularly after reading pledges from people who had little money to spare. "A couple of them, when I read it the first time, I almost cried. It was just so beautiful to think that people would give so much when they really have little money."

Cardinal Pell's statement:

"The past few days has seen a great deal of incorrect information relating to Cardinal George Pell and his upcoming Royal Commission appearance.

"Cardinal Pell has always helped victims, listened to them and considered himself their ally. As an archbishop for almost twenty years he has led from the front to put an end to cover ups, to protect vulnerable people and to try to bring justice to victims.

"He has appeared before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and twice before the Royal Commission, including for several days in person at the Royal Commission public hearing in Sydney in 2014. The Cardinal is anxious to present the facts without further delays. It is ultimately a matter for the Royal Commission to determine the precise arrangements for the provision of evidence by the Cardinal in Rome. The Cardinal will continue to co-operate with whatever arrangements the Royal Commission determines, so that he can be heard on the days and at the times recently set by the Commissioner.

"As Cardinal Pell has done after earlier hearings, he is prepared to meet with and listen to victims and express his ongoing support.


Police sexual assault not investigated

Owner of 24 Hour Locksmiths Brisbane is siding with Tony Fitzgerald and Independent Commission Against Corruption, David Ipp, for the establishment of a federal anti-corruption agency with the powers of a standing royal commission after what he calls the most repugnant display of police abuse of powers against an employee of his 24 Hour locksmith business in Brisbane

On February 5 2015 one of our senior tradesmen locksmiths was doing a routine call to a customers home for a locksmith service. After completing the job in Keeling Street Coopers Plains, our locksmith was met by a police car screeching around the corner with lights flashing. Our locksmith was ordered to place his hands on his car and was searched.

His locksmith car was searched, but the officers on the scene were not happy at that! They called in more officers, and more officers and even more officers! They all came and searched the tradesman's car in search of something? Our locksmith asked over and over, what they were doing and what they were looking for and got no response from Tamryn Ellingworth, the officer who appeared to be in charge. More then 7 officers were called in to search our locksmiths car!

This went on for over two hours out the front of our clients home. Our locksmith asked the police if this had anything to do with the client, which the police answered no.

The police called in a police dog and put it through our locksmith car! Our locksmith asked them not to put the dog in the car, but they didn't listen.

The police took sensitive business records from the locksmiths car, still with no explanation. They then attempted to hack our locksmiths phone!

After this horrendous ordeal, they then called in another officer from the Mount Gravatt police station to sexually assault our locksmith! This happened in the middle of the street in suburban Coopers Plains.

After our locksmith had been raped, he was then privately photographed, by police and told he was put onto a list! Our locksmith believes this to be an unofficial list kept by police. Some sort of dark list of people the police are out to get.

At the end of this police threatened my locksmith and left. When returning to his locksmith car, he found all the electrics in the car not operating. The police had pulled out wiring from under the dash, making indicators and the dash board not work.

Outraged, of what happened to our employee, while on his day to day job, a complaint was made the very next day at the Mount Gravatt police station.

Now you would think that sexual assault in company by a group of armed police officers would be taken seriously. Alas, the police to our knowledge have never investigated this brutal attack by their own force. Even after making a complaint to the CMC, our employee has heard no response from the police.

It would seem the police take assault, sexual assault, deprivation of liberty, searching without reasonable suspicion,searching without a warrant, destruction of property by police, theft of business records, theft, no respect of dignity, causing maximum embarrassment, exposing our naked locksmith in a public street, not giving a reason for searching, detention on the street for over 2 hours as not serious. Whether it is that they don't take rape of a man serious? Or whether it is because it was by a pack of police officers, we do not know?

My employee has after many months of leave, finally returned to work, although still not able to work in the same capacity he is slowly recovering. He relates his attack by police as a gang attack like you would see in a war zone in parts of Africa. A gang of thugs raping helpless civilians.  He can not be sent to any jobs where police may be present for fear of being assaulted again.  He says he can now relate to rape victims who are not taken seriously by police.

By the way.  This was all taking place at the time of a notorious car chase of a stolen car from Sunshine Coast to NSW, where the NSW police stopped the car as soon as it crossed the border.   Why couldn't the QLD Police stop the stolen car?  Well, I would not believe the official story.  Most of the police on duty at the time were with our locksmith performing this illegal search and assault!   Mount Gravatt was the best place on the Pacific Motorway to stop the stolen car.  The lanes go from 4 to 2.  Of course they had a more serious master criminal at large, yes a locksmith performing his work!  Great work coppers!

This is why we are backing the establishment of a federal anti-corruption agency. The police are not capable of investigating, when their own officers are involved in a crime.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

18 February, 2016

Computer lab for indigenous use only: QUT

University boss Peter Coaldrake tries to square the circle of discriminating racially while not being racially discriminatory.  He probably wants to say that some racial discrimination is good but fears the can of worms that would open up.  He would never live it down if he said that.  People might ask him:  "Why not drinking fountains for blacks only?"  Note that discriminating in favour of blacks in American universities has been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court

A top university agrees with a claim by a former employee in a racial vilification case that the Oodgeroo Unit and computer lab on its main Brisbane campus "is provided for use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ­students only".

But Queensland Univer­sity of Technology, which released its legal responses yesterday to the Federal Circuit Court in the racial vilification row, denies it is ­endorsing or facilitating racial segregation at Oodgeroo.

The legal responses disclose that Cindy Prior, a Brisbane woman running a $247,470 damages claim against students, QUT and academics, wanted a "duress alarm, fast dial access to security, 24-hour swipe card ­access to a computer lab and a ­security guard patrol" because she feared for her safety if non-indigenous students entered her work area, a "culturally safe space".

Ms Prior was an administrative officer in the Oodgeroo Unit when she turned away three students in 2013 because they were not indigenous. Her decision to refuse the students access to the computers that were not being used led to Facebook posts which described racial segregation.

Ms Prior alleges in her case that the Facebook posts and the related actions of QUT and its staff have caused her hurt and psychiatric injury and stopped her from working for two years. She has accused the students of racial vilification under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The university and two of its staff, professor Anita Lee Hong and director of equity Mary Kelly, want the court to dismiss Ms Prior’s application, which began with a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2014.

A key question arising from the case is whether the operation of the Oodgeroo Unit breached anti-discrimination laws if it was set up, as stated by Ms Prior and agreed yesterday by QUT, for use "only" by indigenous students.

QUT said in its court reply that "many public Australian universities have established and are maintaining similar programs with similar objectives for similar reasons" as the Oodgeroo Unit.

It said the unit had operated successfully for 25 years "in a way which has furthered the purposes for which it was established and has provided meaningful and ­effective support for indigenous students to assist them to enjoy equally with non-indigenous students the experience of and benefits of tertiary education".

It added that the unit’s facilities "are generally reserved for use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students".

The university alleges in meetings with staff to try to ­resolve Ms Prior’s complaints, she wanted a "duress alarm, fast dial access to security, 24-hour swipe card ­access to a computer lab and a ­security guard patrol".

Ms Kelly, who is being sued in the case, said she told Ms Prior that in her opinion, ‘"there was no evidence that a ‘white supremacy group’ existed at QUT".

She did not believe the students who went to the unit were "part of an organised group". She indicated to Ms Prior that "there was no evidence that any student posed a physical threat to individual staff". She advised Ms Prior at an early stage the legal threshold for proving racial vilification was high and she should get legal ­advice before proceeding.

In an attempted return to work meeting with Ms Prior, however, "the feasibility of implementing a variety of security solutions for the Oodgeroo Unit was discussed". Professor Lee Hong ­expressed concern a "security guard patrol at the Oodgeroo Unit might make the students uncomfortable", but she denied a claim that she had refused to consider the option.

She said swipe card access was implemented along with fast-dial access to security, and she understood "security passes would be possible" and were pending ­approval.

Weeks later, medical reports by two doctors confirmed that Ms Prior, who said she has suffered a psychiatric injury and severe stress, hurt and humiliation, "was able to return to work but not at the Gardens Point Campus".

QUT said it made multiple responses to alleviate Ms Prior’s concerns and her stress.

Vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake had put a statement on the university’s web page stating "all staff and students had the right to go about their business without being offended by ill-informed ­remarks in the public arena". "The vice-chancellor also addressed the issue of the posts in similar terms at his campus briefings with staff, which occurred in the days following the incident," QUT’s response says. "Senior staff members of the university met with indigenous student representatives to discuss the support that could be offered by the university to its indigenous students in response to the incident."

The students who made the posts and are now being accused of racial hatred have strenuously denied the claims. They are being defended by Tony Morris QC, who intends to mount a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 18C.


Students fear effect of ‘outrageous law’ on QUT campus culture

The students were rightly angered by being discriminated against on the basis of their race.  Now they are being sued for saying they were victims of racial discrimination

Jack McGuire, a law student at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, has a message for Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis.

Mr McGuire wants the Prime Minister and Attorney-General to urgently amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which is embroiling QUT students in claims of racial hatred that threaten their reputations, careers and health.

"It is absolutely ridiculous that it has got to the stage where the courts are involved," Mr McGuire, 23, the immediate past president of the Students Guild at QUT, told The Australian.

"Universities are supposed to be a place of ideas and learning and debating. The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General should be looking at this and stepping in to help not just those students who are being effectively prosecuted in the Federal Circuit Court in this case brought by Cindy Prior but others who will be caught in future cases."

Guild president Phil Johnson said: "At most, this is an issue for QUT’s disciplinary procedures, certainly not a federal court."

Mr Johnson said his main concerns revolved around the impact on freedom of speech.  "This case sets a dangerous precedent and it’s concerning that students might now have reservations about discussing topical issues in fear of ending up in court," he said.

Mr McGuire said that if 18C was not repealed, it should be amended to increase the threshold "so that people can’t use it to claim they are hurt and humiliated" in legal actions.

"Having been around some of the students (involved), it is quite clear that they have suffered enormously from being brought before court and labelled racist.

"For the sake of these students and all students, the government needs to revisit this outrageous law and at least take a middle of the road approach in amending 18C, if not striking it out altogether."

Mr McGuire said the law was sufficiently broad and open to subjective interpretation that his comments in this article could potentially be construed as hurtful to an indigenous person, resulting in an 18C case.


A case study in Leftist stupidity and refusal to learn -- the "stolen generation" myth in Australia

On very shallow grounds, many Australian Leftist historians  have alleged  that 1930s social workers took black (Aboriginal) children from their families willy-nilly and forcibly adopted them into white families in order to make them more like whites.  The allegation  suits the Leftist tendency to see "racism" under every bed.

Australia is a very tolerant, laid back country that has been absorbing people from many cultures for a couple of hundred years but Leftists are determined to find that Australians are racist -- and the "stolen generation" myth serves that purpose.  That the social workers concerned were do-gooder predecessors of today's Leftists doesn't seem to register.

Note the word "generation".  That implies thousands.  But at most one or two dubious removals have been identified.  Only endangered children were removed -- for their own safety -- as various official enquiries in modern times have found.

So how did Leftist historians get it so wrong?  By committing a characteristic Leftist mistake:  Thinking things were simpler than they were.  In particular, they committed a mistake well known to psychologists:  Mistaking attitudes for actions. 

Psychologists themselves fall into that mistake at times.  The most hilarious example of that happens when psychologists purport to study the psychology of conservatism -- aiming to disparage it, of course.  They produce sets of statements -- "scales" -- which they believe typify conservative thought and then correlate agreement with them to all sorts of maladjustment.  And when they find a correlation they think they have proved that conservatives are a sick lot.

One problem:  The scales fail to predict vote for conservative political candidates in national elections.  From Adorno, through McClosky to Altemeyer, their lists of "conservative" attitudes do not predict conservative actions.  Which shows you how little Leftists know about conservatism -- or anything else much for that matter.

The best known example of an attitude-behavior gap in fact comes from the era of the allegedly "stolen" generation.  In the 1930s LaPiere asked restaurateurs if they would serve a minority   person.  Most said No.  So LaPiere sent minorities into the restaurants of the Naysayers and found that they almost all were served without demur.  The restaurateurs' attitudes and actions usually did not match.

Why?  Because of practical difficulties, mostly.  Tossing someone out of your restaurant would create an unpleasant scene which was best avoided.

And a similar thing happened among Australian social workers of the 1930s.  Like most people in that era (and indeed today) the social workers saw Aborigines as a sad lot and wished to improve their situation.  And a solution that occurred to some of them was to remove all black children from their families and have them brought up by whites in white adoptive families.  They failed to grasp how profound are the differences between Aborigines and whites.  You are still not allowed to see that, of course.

And the reason why they did not implement that policy was that it was both difficult and mostly illegal.  So it was only when the safety of a black child was threatened that they used their social-work powers to remove that child from its family.  Given the high rate of dysfunction in black families, however, the only reasonably available adoptive families were often white.  And thus the myth of "stolen" children arose among incautious Leftist historians.  Caution is in short supply among Leftists generally.

The myth persists among Australian Leftists to this day and it is such a pernicious myth that social workers are often now afraid to remove endangered Aboriginal children from dysfunctional families.  It's a myth that kills black kids:  Another bad effect of Leftism.

For a systematic debunking of the myth, see historian Keith Windschuttle's magisterial tome "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three, The Stolen Generations 1881-2008". For more concise treatments of the topic see here and here and here (scroll down)

Call to slow ‘breakneck’ population growth

AUSTRALIA should consider cutting immigration by as much as half in order to put the handbrake on the country’s "breakneck" population growth, says former foreign minister Bob Carr.

Early on Tuesday morning, a newborn baby became the 24,000,000th person in Australia slotting us in somewhere between Taiwan and North Korea in the population stakes.

The 24 million mark comes 32 months after Australia’s population topped 23 million and means we’re growing at a rate faster than ever before and faster than experts had predicted. By some estimates Australia could be home to 40 million people by 2050.

And it’s worrying Mr Carr.

"We’ve got a third-world style population growth rate and I think the Australian people need to be alerted to this," the former NSW Premier told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

"There’s a case for pegging immigration back by easily a third, perhaps 50 per cent.

"We are going for breakneck population growth and it’s all about supply and demand."

Mr Carr said increased numbers of residents would put huge demand on infrastructure and housing stock, pushing up prices.

"No matter how much governments spend on infrastructure, at this level of population growth, it’s always never enough," he said.

"All of Australia’s population growth will be settled in a narrow band along eastern Australia. "There comes a point, given we’ve only got a narrow fertile coastal strip, when at 40 million, 50 million, 70 million by the end of the century, we’ve got to start thinking again."  The growth could not continue indefinitely, he said.

"I’d rather see us tapering off before we’re locked into irreversible degradation of what we’ve got on this continent."

However, Mr Carr said capping immigration did not mean stopping asylum seekers coming to Australia and he was "perfectly comfortable" with accepting refugees.

Australia reached 23 million people on April 23, 2013. That means we’ve gained our latest million in a space of two years, nine months and two days. Never before has Australia added a million people within three years.

"From 1954 when the population hit nine million, until 2003 when the population hit 20 million, each additional million was added in a time span of around four and a half years," Sydney-based social researcher Mark McCrindle said this week.

"From 20 to 23 million, the time span had decreased to add each million every three and a half years."

Mr McCrindle said previous forecasters predicted Australia would reach today’s population by 2033. So we’re 17 years ahead of schedule.  "While Australia’s population growth is significant in national terms, our new milestone of 24 million is small compared to the US population of 323 million," Mr McCrindle said.

"In a global context, Australia’s share of the world’s population is just 0.32 per cent, less than one third of one per cent."

In terms of the number of people for a country’s physical size, Australia is one of the most sparsely populated in the world with barely more than three people per square kilometre. Only Namibia, Mongolia and Greenland have fewer people per kilometre.


Most Australian Army rations now halal, kosher or vegetarian

Two-thirds of army rations conform to halal, kosher or vegetarian guidelines.

Cory Bernardi, a conservative Liberal senator, says it a "disgrace" that fewer than 100 Muslims in the defence force are now "dictating" to the military about what they should be eating.

Senator Bernardi was responding to revelations that two-thirds of the army’s combat rations conform to halal, kosher or vegetarian guidelines to create an "inclusive working environment" for Australia’s defence personnel, according to documents published under Freedom of Information.

An internal army document — obtained by a new anti-Islamic political party, the Australian Liberty Alliance — describes how the combat ration packs (CRP) should include a diversity of food and drink to ensure "menu fatigue" is minimised.

"CRP should be designed to take account of the broad religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the ADF and alliance partners in aspects of food choices and their preparation and consumption," the document reads.

The Australian military, which includes a substantial minority of practising Muslims, are currently operating alongside counterparts from Islamic countries including the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senator Bernardi suggested Muslims in the military be issued with non-halal rations and say their own prayer over the meal before consumption.

"The very idea that someone will not accept food because they’re unsure of the origins of it in a desperate wartime environment or war theatre beggars belief," Senator Bernardi said.

"This is just another step in the encroaching Islamisation of Western civilisation and we have an opportunity not to repeat the mistakes of Western Europe, but it takes the will of politicians to make sure those mistakes don’t happen here."

Bernard Gaynor, the ALA’s Senate candidate in Queensland, said criticised the decision as "politically correct".

"It is dangerous appeasement because it shows Defence is more interested in ticking diversity boxes than understanding Islam and its links with our battlefield enemies," Mr Gaynor, a former army officer, said.

"As a result of this decision, taxpayers will be funding a program that forces Aussie Diggers to eat food that has been sacrificed to the god of the enemy."

Paul Jordan, a former Special Air Service trooper, now general manager of Hart Security, said even non-Muslim soldiers would benefit from being able to share food with partners in countries such as Afghanistan.

"If there’s no great cost attached to it — and I don’t think general soldiers would even know the difference when they eat it — then it’s OK," he told The Australian.


17 February, 2016

Override hate speech laws to allow marriage equality debate, urges Christian lobby

Australian Christian Lobby says ‘low threshold’ of state laws is creating a ‘chilling effect on free speech’ in lead-up to plebiscite

The Australian Christian Lobby has called on the federal government to permanently override anti-discrimination laws to ensure those pushing for a no vote can speak their mind on same-sex marriage.

The ACL’s managing director, Lyle Shelton, said he was concerned state anti-discrimination laws in particular had a low threshold which would prevent a rigorous no campaign in the lead-up to a plebiscite.

“We need to have the ability for a free debate in this plebiscite and at the moment, state-based anti-discrimination laws have a very low threshold for what constitutes discrimination,” Shelton told Guardian Australia. “It is creating a chilling effect on free speech.”

Shelton said he wanted the anti-discrimination legislation relaxed permanently rather than just in the lead-up to the vote on same-sex marriage.

He said the case of Archbishop Julian Porteous, who last year was the subject of a complaint to Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner after an anti-marriage equality booklet published by the Catholic church was distributed to 12,000 schools, was an example of why the law had a “low threshold”.

“The booklet they produced about marriage was gentle and respectful,” Shelton said. “A lot of people are very concerned that if it can happen to Archbishop Porteous it can happen to anyone.

“Already if you speak out you’re called a bigot or a homophobe. Just look at my Twitter feed. I’m constantly demonised.”

If the majority of Australians voted yes for same-sex marriage, Shelton feared the anti-discrimination laws would lead to people in favour of traditional marriage between a man and a woman being vilified and brought before human rights commissions.

“Suddenly marriage will be redefined for millions of Australians who want to teach their children through Christian and Muslim schools about the true definition of marriage,” he said.

“That will be a huge vulnerability in future, you’ll really be talking about something which for many people becomes offensive and they’ll have the law of the land behind them which will mean you only have to be offended to accuse someone of committing an offence.”

The Turnbull government is consulting those for and against marriage equality to determine how a campaign might work. Shelton told Guardian Australia that he and his office had appealed for the laws to be changed during consultations about the no campaign with the attorney general.

During a Senate committee hearing in September examining how a plebiscite might be held, the committee was told the children of parents in same-sex relationships faced being “bombarded” with anti same-sex marriage messages from the no campaign.

Shelton told Fairfax Media those in the no camp were not seeking to say anything bigoted by having the anti-discrimination laws relaxed but wanted to put forward the argument that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

The Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said the ACL needed to “answer some serious questions” about why it needed the anti-discrimination laws to be overridden.

“The Australian Christian Lobby’s demand to have anti-discrimination laws suspended points to one of our chief fears about a plebiscite; that it will become a platform for hate and vilification,” he said.

“The Australian Christian Lobby needs to answer some serious questions including what it intends to say that will breach anti-hate laws, and how it expects eight state and territory governments to willingly suspend their anti-hate provisions”.

He said both the yes and no camps should be mature enough to work on a respectful debate.

The Australian Greens marriage equality spokesman, Senator Robert Simms, urged the federal government to reject the ACL’s proposal, saying it would expose same-sex couples to hatred.

“These laws are designed to protect Australians from acts of hatred, vilification and incitement,” Simms said. “By advocating for these laws to be suspended the Australian Christian Lobby has let the cat of the bag and exposed its intention to run an ugly and discriminatory campaign against marriage equality.”

The shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, said no one gets to suspend hate speech laws to win an argument.  “If you need to offend in order to convince, you’ve already lost,” he said.


New laws will see babies taken from addicted or abused mothers who refuse to seek help

BABIES will be taken away at birth from drug-addicted or abused mothers who refuse to seek help, under new state laws that will kick in while the child is still in the womb.

Pregnant women who abuse drugs or alcohol will be made to sign a Parental Responsibility Contract ordering them to undergo treatment for the sake of their baby.

If they refuse or show no intention of complying, the government will be able to remove the child the moment it is born and use the broken PRC to immediately start formal proceedings to place the baby in the Minister's care.

The new legislation will also extend to pregnant woman who suffer domestic violence.

In those cases, the women will be asked to sign a PRC ordering them to either leave their partner, move in with a relative or seek help through domestic violence counselling.

While the PRC process has been operating for several years, current laws state they can only be applied to a parent after their child is born rather than while it is still in the womb. This means expectant mothers with a drug addiction can continue feeding their habit up until birth.

It is hoped that under the new scheme that will no longer happen and, in best case scenarios, the pregnant women will seek treatment and immediately cease their drug habit.

Babies born with a substance addictions cry in pain for hours, suffer tremors, respiratory problems and have low birth weight.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the changes were designed to put the child first and provide the strongest possible incentive for troubled mothers to turn their lives around.

"I make no apologies for taking this bold new approach to child protection, which ensures we are putting the best interests of the child at the centre of every decision we make," Ms Goward said.

The new laws are awaiting final approval from Cabinet before they are submitted to parliament.

"Whether it is raising the stakes on early intervention or improving access to open adoption, these reforms are about providing families and caseworkers with the support and tools they need to ensure vulnerable children have a safe home for life," Ms Goward said.


It’s game over on the ABC

It is game over on the ABC. Last night’s viewing demonstrated we might as well give up on any level of accountability or any connection with mainstream values and sensible political discussion.

First, let’s start with the good news. Media Watch actually did a reasonable job — albeit a week late — detailing the terrible error the ABC made propagating the malicious falsehood that a five-yearold asylum seeker had been raped on Nauru and would soon be sent back to live alongside the perpetrator.

The program detailed how this disturbing misinformation had been promulgated widely on the ABC despite there being no five-year-old, no rape and no evidence to support the sickening claim.

Media Watch made it clear the ABC fumbled its facts by relying on one source, then somehow conflating various bits of information and then failing to carry out the most basic checks to try to verify or substantiate its claim.

As I wrote yesterday this was not just wrong but also fit into a pattern of advocacy by the ABC against border protection policies.

The trouble is that Media Watch then attempted to blame others for the ABC’s mistakes — it tried to justify this disgraceful abrogation of basic journalistic responsibilities.

Essentially it argued that because its journalists can’t get to Nauru, the ABC can’t be blamed for getting things wrong. In other words because they can’t get to Nauru they can make up malicious lies.

To support its ridiculous argument it trotted out the former paid spin doctor for the immigration department, Sandi Logan, who defended Labor’s policies up hill and down dale during the period it completely lost control of our borders.  Logan praised the ABC journalism — even though it was wrong — and repeated one of the blatant falsehoods — that there was a rape.

Logan was an active propagandist for the disastrous policies that lead to 800 boat arrivals, 50,000 people, including thousands of kids, arriving and going into detention, and 1200 tragic deaths at sea.  During that time he helped to prevent journalists from reporting openly and freely about detention centres and their operation. Now the ABC trots him out to make excuses for its misinformation.

This is disgraceful stuff and shows that the national broadcaster is operating completely without leadership or any decent standards of accountability.

An hour later, at the end of Q & A the absurdity was there for all to see. It was another hour of predictable, politically-correct banter, with one Liberal minister and a right of centre commentator taking on a Labor frontbencher, Greens Senator, green left journalist and green left host.

Then right at the end, the commentator Mark Steyn was summing up the prospects of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the US presidential race. He quipped that Guardian journalist Lenore Taylor might get her wish — a socialist president.

The audience burst into spontaneous applause. They applauded the prospect of a socialist president of the USA.

Steyn was flabbergasted. "That’s not an applause line," he admonished the crowd. Host Tony Jones laughed and suggested it was a "laugh line" while a bemused Steyn suggested he might as well get a taxi to the airport.

Then it seemed to dawn on Jones what had unfolded. "Well it wasn’t the entire audience," he protested. Perhaps he was right. Maybe the ABC had let a few non-socialists into the audience.


Prosecution of man charged under bikie laws dropped and $30,000 awarded

Queensland police withdraw charges against Glen Pitt after lawyers allege they fabricated conversations and coerced him into agreeing to a warrantless search

Another prosecution by Queensland police under controversial anti-association laws has collapsed, leading to a $30,000 costs order awarded to a man who faced up to two years’ jail for entering a mothballed bikie clubhouse.

Police withdrew charges against mine worker Glen Pitt after his lawyers, in a pre-trial hearing in the Brisbane magistrates court on Tuesday, alleged detectives had fabricated conversations with the accused Rebels motorcycle club member before he was charged 18 months ago.

Pitt’s lawyers also argued detectives had coerced and induced him into agreeing to a warrantless search by telling him they would stop him attending his daughter’s 21st birthday and that he faced only a fine for an offence bringing a minimum mandatory six months’ jail.

The case, which follows the withdrawal of charges in other high-profile prosecutions including of librarian Sally Kuether last year, marks more than two years without a single conviction under anti-association laws since their introduction in a government campaign against outlaw motorcycle gangs in 2013.

A taskforce led by former judge Alan Wilson is due next month to deliver its review of these and other laws to a Palaszczuk government that has flagged repealing and replacing them. Police and the Liberal National party opposition, which introduced laws in government in 2013, have called for them to remain.

Pitt, 44, whom police alleged was a Rebels member, was found by officers in the yard of a disused Rebels clubhouse in Virginia, in Brisbane’s north, in July 2014 after he noticed tradesmen dismantling a shed.

The property was among 43 clubhouses declared off limits to bikies, who risk a mandatory six months’ jail by setting foot in them.

Pitt was charged with attending a prescribed place while a participant in a criminal organisation.

Pitt’s barrister Ken Fleming argued in court on Tuesday that detectives had coerced the man into agreeing to a search of his home by telling him they could return with a warrant and he would then be prevented from attending his daughter’s 21st birthday party that evening.

Fleming argued a detective also induced Pitt by telling him he was facing a simple offence that would likely lead to a fine, where in fact a mandatory minimum six month jail term applied.

He told the court that police had made allegations about conversations – in which Pitt allegedly admitted to being a Rebels bikie and that the premises was a Rebels clubhouse – that could not have taken place.

After a short adjournment by magistrate Barry Cosgrove, police withdrew charges and Pitt obtained a $30,000 costs order against them.

Pitt’s solicitor Chris Main said after the hearing that cross-examination had revealed “some significant inconsistencies between statements sworn on oath by police officers and the evidence they gave on oath, which was considerably damning to the prosecution”.

“There were conversations alleged to have occurred between our client and police which we say did not occur and they could not have happened,” he said.

“We further say that some admissions that our client is alleged to have made did not and could not have happened.”

Dozens of charges under the anti-association laws – which also forbid bikies or “criminal organisation participants” from recruiting or gathering in public in groups of more than two – have been adjourned until after the outcome of the Wilson review.

They include the case of the Yandina Five, alleged Rebels members and associates, some of them relatives, who were charged after having dinner together at the Yandina pub north of Brisbane with their families.  Almost 50 people have been charged under the laws.

Main said his client had just returned to Brisbane from a stint working in mines when he noticed tradesmen dismantling the shed.  “He goes in to see what’s happening because he doesn’t know if it’s being robbed or what. Police show up and charge him,” he said.


The Science Is Settled, So Australia Will Fire 100 Climate Scientists

In an attempt to promote fiscal responsibility, some 350 of Australia’s climate scientists were given layoff notices. The argument to keep these positions was revealing. Before: they have high confidence computer models, and strong certainty that we understand the climate. After: there are many climate unknowns, and the models need a lot more work

Leftist politicians like to say the science behind global warming is “settled,” so what’s the point of having any climate scientists?

Australian officials have decided to axe 350 jobs from its government-backed science bureaucracy last week, as they switch from climate research into ways to mitigate and adapt to global warming. The announcement set off a media firestorm, and the scientists who could lose their jobs are livid.

“Firstly the overall number of people in CSIRO is projected to be unchanged at the end of a two year period, however up to 350 people may lose their positions as we change the focus of our work program,” Larry Marshall, chief executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said in a Monday statement in response to media criticism.

“No one is saying climate change is not important, but surely mitigation, health, education, sustainable industries, and prosperity of the nation are no less important,” Marshall said.

For years, scientists have argued the science behind global warming is largely “settled” — human activities are driving up the Earth’s temperature. In light of this, Australian officials have decided to take their research in a new direction, away from the causes of global warming to technologies to adapt to it.

“Our climate models are among the best in the world and our measurements honed those models to prove global climate change,” Marshall wrote in an email to his staff Thursday. “That question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with?”

Marshall announced some 110 layoffs in CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere division, the group responsible for climate research. Marshall clarified Monday that the unit’s staff would only be reduced by 65 employees.

In total, 350 CSIRO employees would be laid off over two years. Job cuts will also come from divisions dealing with big data and manufacturing. Critics still expect at least 100 jobs to be cut from climate research.

“Climate will be all gone, basically,” one senior scientist told The Sydney Morning Herald before the announcement was made public last week.

Once the layoffs were announced, scientists whose jobs were on the chopping block fired back and argued there was much more to know about global warming science.

It’s the sad irony of the debate surrounding global warming. Politicians, activist and some scientists have long argued there was nothing more to debate in climate science — a talking point often used to disparage skeptics.

Though now, that line is coming to bite the very people it was meant to aggrandize — climate scientists.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

16 February, 2016

Alan Jones spears the "stolen generations" myth

It is such a pernicious myth that social workers are often now afraid to remove endangered Aboriginal children from dysfunctional families.  It's a myth that kills black kids.

Note the word "generation".  That implies thousands.  But at most one or two dubious removals have been identified.  See historian Keith Windschuttle's magisterial tome "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three, The Stolen Generations 1881-2008". For more concise treatments of the topic see here and here and here (scroll down)

Controversial radio shock jock Alan Jones has told listeners to his radio program that Australia needed to have another Stolen Generation to save Indigenous children from their ‘drug and alcohol addicted' Aboriginal mothers and fathers.

Jones made the controversial remarks when responding to a listener who had called into his 2GB radio show on Monday morning.

The woman caller was complaining about the traditional Aboriginal dance and minute’s silence for the Stolen Generation that took place before the NRL Indigenous All Stars game on Saturday. The Indigenous side were playing the World All Stars at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

‘What was all that that went on before that match on Saturday night? What a load of twaddle,' the caller said. ‘And they even had to stand for a minute silence for the Stolen Generations. When are they going to believe that half the Stolen Generation were taken for their own protection.’

It was a remark that Jones wholeheartedly agreed with and he soon left no one in any doubt as to his thoughts on the matter. ‘That’s correct. To look after them,’ Jones said on the program.

‘We need stolen generations because there are a whole heap of kids going before the courts now, or their families - mums going before the courts, and dads - who are on top of the world with drugs or alcohol.

‘Suddenly, they go back into an environment where children are brought up in those circumstances – those children for their own benefit should be taken away.’

Jones and the caller then agreed that what had happened before the NRL Indigenous All Stars game was uncalled for and that it made no sense.

‘We’ve gone mad haven’t we? We have gone mad I just thought it was unbelievable [when referring to the minute’s silence before the game],’ Jones said.

The Stolen Generations refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who were forcibly removed by the government as children from their families between the early 1900s up until the 1970s.

The Indigenous All Stars team is a side made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

First formed in 1973, the team currently plays in annual preseason NRL All Star matches to celebrate Indigenous culture and the influence Indigenous player have had in the sport.


Malcolm Turnbull’s loving Valentine’s Day message to his wife is slammed by proponents of gay marriage

Weird people seem to think that a bit of paper makes or breaks a good relationship.  No wonder people call them "queer"

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's sweet Facebook message to his wife quickly turned sour as same-sex marriage supporters flooded his post with frustrated comments.

'When I first asked Lucy to marry me she said, "Let's wait until we grow up." Well we didn't wait long and now it is almost impossible to imagine, let alone remember, what it was like not to be together, so much so that I have a much clearer sense of "Lucy and me" than I do of "me",' the Facebook post read.

Mr Turnbull's post, accompanied by a photo of them in the early years of their relationship, garnered over 30,000 likes and 1100 comments.

While many of the comments congratulated Mr and Mrs Turnbull on Valentine's Day, proponents of marriage equality criticised the Prime Minister for his inability to keep up with society's changing views on gay marriage.

'Well because of you and your party I will never know what it will be like to marry my parter [sic] of nearly 10 years. So happy for you both,' Tomas Allan Leaumont commented.

Another Facebook user, Douglas McFarland, told Mr Turnbull to scrap his planned same-sex marriage plebiscite.

"When I first asked my partner to marry me, he said let's wait till our government lets us...and now, four years later, we have to wait until 51 per cent of the country lets us (and then the government an still reject it) and Lucy are beautiful together, an inspiring couple...just wish your leadership was more inspiring on Marriage.

We all know you get it, we all know you want it, we all know you are spinning political bs when you support the plebiscite. Perhaps Valentine's day is the perfect day to scrap the plebiscite! Happy Valentine's day to you both, it must be a lovely reminder of your marriage. As opposed to the constant reminder that same sex couples love is less!"

Further criticisms were made regarding the plebiscite and its potential to waste resources.

'Lucky you can get married. How about a free vote on marriage equality instead of wasting millions on a pointless plebiscite some of your ministers have vowed to ignore anyway?' Brad Wolfe wrote.

However, other commentators soon came to Mr Turnbull's defence.

'What a sad state of affairs when our PM can't express his love for his wife without being vilified. Happy Valentine's Day to Malcolm and Lucy,' Lin Jessop stated.

'Respect that Malcolm is human and not just our Prime Minister. An Aussie bloke pledging his love for his wife. Simply that!!!' Tony Puntureri commented.

Mr Turnbull married Lucy on 22 March 1980 at Cumnor, Oxfordshire, near Oxford by a Church of England priest while Turnbull was attending the University of Oxford.

Together they have two children, Alex and Daisy, who attended local Sydney schools and have now completed University.

Lucy and Malcolm have been partners not only in marriage but also in their many businesses. Lucy, a prominent businesswoman and politician herself, was the first female Lord Mayor of Sydney, a position she held until early 2004.


Australia ideal for "cockroach" start-ups

(New businesses that do not rely on borrowing to get going)

Our start-up community here in Australia has long bemoaned the scarcity of capital available to fuel local start-ups. It is easy to see why; US-based ventures seem to be raising hundreds of millions in funding every week.

But is it all bad? Lack of capital has not stopped many Aussie entrepreneurs, and there have been some major success stories in the last few years. Prominent Silicon Valley investor and mentor Paul Graham describes self-funded, profitable start-ups as cockroaches. They are small but indestructible.

Australia’s harsh capital environment has been the perfect breeding ground for world class "cockroach" start-ups. These businesses have been funded through a small investment by the founders, sometimes through credit card debts, and grown steadily with increasing revenue and a global business model. The founders have discovered that their businesses are too small, at least initially, to be of interest to US-based VC and angel investors. Rather than take investment at less competitive terms from local investors, they have chosen to self-fund the business’s initial growth. It takes longer to build a tech business this way, without the growth spurt fuelled by capital injection.

But our remote location has helped many of these success stories fly under the radar and capture the market before competitors wake up to the opportunity. Self-funding has become the Australian way of building a tech start-up. While Silicon Valley is all about building unicorns — companies with a billion dollar valuation — Australia is more about building cockroaches.

For example, take one of Melbourne’s biggest success stories, RetailMeNot. Guy King and Bevan Clark started the coupons marketplace in 2006 and grew the business to $30 million in annual revenue. Guy and Bevan never raised money from external investors. The site was run by a small team of five and recorded around 14 million visitors per month when it was acquired in 2010, likely for more than $200 million in cash and stock.

Several successful Australian start-ups bootstrapped for years, before raising money once they were well established. Sydney-based Atlassian was self-funded for eight years until it raised $60m from Accel Partners in 2010. Melbourne based 99designs spun out of content publisher Sitepoint in 2008. It wasn’t until 2011 that they raised $35m, also from Accel Partners. CultureAmp, a promising Melbourne-based start-up that specialises in staff surveys and analytics, was self-funded for four years before raising $6.3m, mostly from US-based venture capitalists.

Large capital raises don’t always work out well. When venture capitalists invest millions in a business, the expectations of that business grow. VCs typically make their money from a handful of knockout successes and often push start-ups to pursue a riskier, high-growth strategy with the hope of scoring one of these home runs. 99designs, for example, seemed to suffer some growing pains after rapid hiring once they completed their $35m round. More disastrously, start-ups can grow their team considerably, fail to gain traction and become profitable, and are forced into a fire sale.

Our start-up, Rome2rio, has raised $1.6 million from angel investors in Melbourne and abroad. Five years since launching the travel site the business is now profitable, with a team of 16 based in Melbourne. Rather than raise further capital, we have chosen to grow the business organically with revenue.

But why is capital so scarce in Australia? Part of the problem is that local investors have yet to reap the benefits of many successful exits. Too few local investors are intimately familiar with success because most of Australia’s big success stories did not access local capital.

The road to a successful exit is also harder, and longer, in Australia. In the US, large tech companies frequently acquire successful start-ups for north of $100m. Such an event is almost unheard of within Australia. Fewer multinational tech companies base themselves here, and geography makes long distance acquisitions harder. Australian start-ups often find themselves establishing a US presence to access a larger market and potential acquirers.

Another ingredient lacking in Australia’s start-up ecosystem is acquihires. An acquihire is when a large company acquires a start-up primarily to hire its talent, rather than any interest in its technology or product. The scenario typically plays out like this: the start-up raises a few million from angel investors and builds an engineering team. After a year or two, they fail to gain enough traction to raise further funds, and their funding runway is running out. A large technology company, hungry for developer talent in a competitive hiring marketplace, acquires the desperate company for a few million. They shut down the unsuccessful product and apply the new resources to more important projects. Investors get their money back. The founders receive a nice consolation prize and avoid painful lay-offs. Publicly the acquisition is celebrated as a success with "terms undisclosed".

Many acquisitions in the US are acqui-hires. They are frowned upon by some, who believe they stifle innovation. I believe they play an important role in making angel investment less risky. Invest in a great team and they’ll either become a major success or at the very least be acquihired. At least, you’ll get your money back and learn from the failure.

While launching a tech start-up is currently in vogue; few young Australians are keen to take the risky plunge. More Australians will take the launch risk if experienced early stage capital is more plentiful. Few young professionals can afford the luxury of spending a year or two without a proper income to pursue a dream of start-up success that may never be realised. Especially since many are financially focused on daunting local house prices. My co-founder, Bernie, and I were in a fortunate position when we started work on Rome2rio. We had both accumulated savings from our US careers at Microsoft. With a reasonably frugal lifestyle, we spent three years building the company without drawing a proper salary. We would not have gotten Rome2rio off the ground otherwise.

But there is hope. A new breed of start-up is becoming common across the Australian landscape. Local capital is starting to flow into younger ventures, and the cockroach model is become less common. Promising start-ups such as GreenSync, Canva, CultureAmp, LIFX, YourGrocer, and Shoes of Prey have all raised money from local investors. Many of these companies will eventually exit, and provide our local investment community with some much-needed experience and big wins.



Australian Labor Party adopts motion encouraging Israel trips

In what can be seen as a counter-move to an anti-Israel motion, a state convention of Australia's Labor party on Sunday approved a motion encouraging party members to spend time in both Israel and Palestinian areas when visiting the region, Haaretz reported.

The resolution, adopted by the New South Wales Labor convention, came a week and a half after it was reported that the party was mulling a proposal by pro-Palestinian lawmakers to ban its members from participating in sponsored trips to Israel.

The anti-Israel motion was proposed by Labor Friends of Palestine and would have precluded state MPs from New South Wales, party officials and Young Labor members from joining paid trips to Israel if passed.

New South Wales, where Sydney is located, is Australia's most populous state. On a national level, the party has been in opposition since its loss in elections in 2013, noted Haaretz. 

Reacting to the pro-Israel resolution, New South Wales Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak told the Australian Jewish News the resolution that passed was a "sensible outcome" that "rejects the anti-Israel bias and discrimination" that had been pushed by a few party members.

"When organizing our study missions to the region, we always encourage members to visit both the Palestinian territories and Israel in order to get a thorough understanding of the reality on the ground," he said.

The Labor Party in Australia has a history of anti-Israel bias, and it agreed this past summer on a resolution that should the party come to power, it would consider recognizing Palestinian statehood.

The motion stipulated such course of action on a lack of progress in the currently stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

In addition, Bob Carr, a former foreign minister in Australia who was a founder of the Labor Friends of Israel in 1977 and has recently become a patron of the Labor Friends of Palestine, has in the past blamed the "pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne" for wielding "extraordinary influence" on the Australian government.


15 February, 2016

I’m An Asylum-Seeker, Get Me Out Of Here

Self harm and false allegations are all part of the deadly game certain ‘do-gooders’ are playing

Tanveer Ahmed

Refugee advocates are partly responsible for the distress of asylum seekers, expressed variably from self harm to alleged rape claims. Their misplaced advocacy powered by an inebriated moral superiority combine with the dashed migration expectations of asylum seekers to create uncertainty and alarm. Detention itself is merely the wrapping paper.

As they are to people smugglers, asylum seekers are a mere tool for the white and wealthy, post religious Left. While smugglers are compensated in dollars, the compassionistas receive premium fuel in their quest for authenticity, a jolt to hollowed out identities. Caring outwardly about asylum seekers makes them feel good about themselves.

Recent reports in the Australian that banning family members from travelling with self harmers for treatment immediately caused a dramatic reduction in the acts suggest there had been considerable incentive for hurting oneself in the past.

The latest round of ‘I’m an Asylum Seeker, Get Me Out of Here’ will leave taxpayers with a bill of a million dollars, thanks to the human rights lawyers’ speculative tilt in the High Court to keep a Bangladeshi child and mother on Australian soil. It was the climax of renewed optimism among refugee advocates since the arrival of the new PM, hoping to exploit any cognitive dissonance he might feel. Fairfax ran a front page piece recently about self harm on Manus and Nauru, among a spike of reports about the topic. Last year Transfield changed its name for PR purposes despite lawfully executing their government contract after sustained pressure from refugee advocates, a consolation victory for opponents who refuse to accept that they have lost the debate in the public, democratic sphere.

There were multiple doctors such as paediatrician Dr David Isaacs cheekily asking to be prosecuted for speaking out about conditions in Nauru. Last year psychiatrist Dr Peter Young was the key contributor to the Human Rights Commission report fronted by Gillian Triggs. All had expressed their opposition to the policy of detention well before they’d actually visited any asylum seekers. Their views on the traumatic effects of detention relied entirely on association and wouldn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.

It does not compute that a set of people who have been resilient through conflict zones under threat of their lives and able to travel halfway across the world by land, air and sea decompensate when a ringed, pool fence is placed around them, in spite of all their basic needs being met. The community leader, former Liberal Party candidate and Vietnamese refugee Dai Le speaks of her time as a child in a refugee camp as unremarkable: ‘We just played. We didn’t know it was bad.’

The most decrepid refugee camps around the world, places that make the centres in Manus or Nauru look like the Hilton, exhibit none of the systemic issues surrounding self harm or alleged rape that appear to erupt in the local centres, be it on the mainland or offshore.

Similar mental health problems existed among asylum seekers when the policy of temporary protection visas existed, where comparable levels of uncertainty and dashed expectations surrounding a migration outcome were present.

An interesting angle is garnered from detention workers. I have treated a multitude and they usually present through worker’s compensation after being attacked by detainees. They all say there was no self harm when asylum seekers received permanent visas during Rudd’s initial ascent to power, regardless of processing time. Christmas Island was referred to then as a ‘transit hotel’.

Most workers suffer a cognitive dissonance, having begun the job to help asylum seekers but slowly realising there was little that could be done to solve a problem around an unmet desire, one in which incredible investments of money and risk had been made. The most affected workers are those that identify with the asylum seekers, particularly those able to speak Farsi, Tamil or Arabic. They paint a clear psychological environment in detention of failed expectations and ensuing rage and resentment, further exacerbated by the shadow of fractured politics and a refugee advocacy industry baying for government blood. Despite their good intentions, the result is the spilled blood of asylum seekers.

Self harm in detention centres has overlaps with the contagion effect that can occur in high school playgrounds or online forums, exacerbating the distress already apparent. There is also a kind of detention centre status anxiety, as asylum seekers compare their situations with those around them, becoming anxious and suspicious when claims of those around them are accelerated. Self harm can be attempts at suicide, a way to relieve frustration or malingering, where it is feigned for some secondary reward. Studies have found that malingering is most common in correctional centres. The studies do not involve children, but kids are almost certainly reflecting the distress and behaviour of the adults around them.

There is no question that asylum seekers are in great distress and have few outlets to communicate it. Self harm is often rage turned on to the self. It can be unconscious. Furthermore, there can be little argument that indefinite limbo can only be harmful and serves nobody. But in detention centres we have created an artefactual space where acting out behaviours like self harm or false allegations of rape have had incentives and rewards. Even now there is the possibility of transfer to the Australian mainland for treatment and the mobilisation of aggressive refugee advocacy, who are able to justify any kind of chicanery to prevent the lawful return of detainees because they are convinced of their righteousness.

It is all the more galling when the calamitous effects of unmitigated compassion are beginning to emerge through Merkel’s policies in Europe, initiatives she is clearly regretting and looking to unwind, lest they threaten her tenure on government. It is interesting that Tony Abbott was roundly condemned when he hinted at Merkel’s excesses, yet history is showing him to be prescient.

For all the railing by refugee advocates and politically motivated doctors about detention being like prison or torture, they fail to realise that its residents could cope with Alcatraz if they knew permanent residency was imminent. Despite the Prime Minister insisting on remaining ‘resolute’ in the protection of our borders, the totemic nature of the issue means they will simply not let go.


Migrant birthrates are changing Australia: Average birthrate below replacement level

This is an old scare but birthrates and age of giving birth have changed a lot in recent times so there is no reason to think that the present situation will remain unchanged.  The low recent birthrate among European women may simply reflect a pause due to most such women wanting to wait longer before having children.  Women in their 30s do now have more children than they once did.  Arab women also have fewer children once they assimilate to Western life

IT’S the biggest story of our times, but political correctness has stifled debate so badly that politicians are too afraid to even talk about it.

According to visiting ­Canadian author and free-speech advocate Mark Steyn, low birth rates have put Western societies into a "demographic death spiral".

And he warns it’s impossible to rely on immigration to fill the gap without completely changing our culture.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph before his Australian tour next week, Mr Steyn said politicians were underestimating how quickly societies can change.

"Normally for a population transformation you need a Black Death, the Plague or a world war," he said. "But in this case we are having it without any of that. That’s why it’s the most fascinating question of our times."

Australia’s average birthrate of 1.79 is below replacement level. And while Mr Steyn gives Malcolm Turnbull brownie points for understanding the implications of declining birthrates — they once shared a session passing notes back and forth about the issue — he is pessimistic about the PM’s will to reverse the trend.

"We don’t have a language to talk about this without ­accusations of racism and sexism coming up," he said.

"Western societies are basically importing a new population to be the children you couldn’t be bothered having yourselves."

Mr Steyn said the cultural changes that come with Muslim migration should be acknowledged and discussed.

Women giving birth in Australia but born in ­Lebanon have an average of 4.03 children. For Syrian mums the figure is 3.38 and for Pakistani women it’s 3.02. For Australian-born women the figure is just 1.86.

In Oatley, mother-of-two Kylie McCathie, 39, said many of her peers were starting their families late after putting their careers first.

"When I lived in Surry Hills everyone in the mothers’ group was over 30 with their first child," she said.

Mr Steyn’s visit coincides with Australia’s population hitting 24 million next week.

To mark the milestone, ­social research firm ­McCrindle has released a "fertility map" of Sydney’s birthrates by suburb showing the city’s Muslim population is leading the charge.

Many of the most fertile suburbs are in our migrant clusters, such as Lakemba, Auburn, Guildford, Punchbowl and Bankstown — popular with families of ­Middle Eastern background.


Rough justice

Why can't the slime at ICAC make a public apology and offer compensation?  They just cannot admit that they got it wrong

He was once  one of the highest-ranking and most respected emergency managers in the state. He has more than 30 years' crisis and fire rescue management experience and has overseen the response to some of the biggest disasters in the state.

But Steven Pearce, highly decorated former deputy commissioner of the State Emergency Service, lost his position and had his life ruined during an investigation by the beleaguered anti-corruption watchdog ICAC - even though he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Now he is seeking compensation and acknowledgement for the pain and suffering endured by him and his family.

"There has never been any public acknowledgement from ICAC or the government that all of the allegations of corruption made against me were intensively investigated, in four separate inquiries, and all found to be unsubstantiated," Mr Pearce told Fairfax Media.

"I also deserve a public apology that I have never done anything corrupt."

Mr Pearce was the subject of an ICAC inquiry after allegations that he had misused an SES credit card and inappropriately dealt with two contracts. The allegations were made against him by his then fellow SES deputy commissioner Tara McCarthy.

He was suspended from his position while the ICAC investigated; the ICAC eventually made no findings of corrupt conduct against Mr Pearce.

The ICAC referred the matter to the Public Service Commissioner, who cleared him of any corrupt conduct. Ms McCarthy was sacked in May 2013, sparking an ICAC investigation into then SES commissioner Murray Kear.

Mr Kear resigned after ICAC found him corrupt for sacking a whistleblower and allegedly failing to investigate corruption allegations against Mr Pearce.

Last week, he faced a committal hearing into the charges against him. Mr Kear has pleaded not guilty. 

In late 2014, he quietly returned to work after an internal announcement to staff that there were no findings of corrupt conduct against him.

However, he had been back at work less than a month when he was told he would have to compete for his job, which he had held for five years, in a merit selection process.

He was then told he was unsuccessful in reapplying for his job although he was asked to stay on last year and during the NSW storm and flood crisis, and lead the management response until it was over.

It has since been deemed the biggest such response in NSW history.

Lawyer Rick Mitry said he has been instructed to proceed with a  damages claim against the government. 

"He and his family have been traumatised by the events of the last couple of years,"  Mr Mitry said.

Mr Pearce said his case had been aggravated by the fact that the ICAC had named him on its website as being investigated, and it was "front page news", but it has never been reported publicly that he had been cleared. 

"My family and I suffered substantial public humiliation, emotional and financial trauma," he said. 

"Never did the system look after me and I was crucified publicly and professionally."

A spokeswoman for the ICAC said that the only jurisdiction the commission has was to make corrupt conduct findings.

"Further information on what the allegations were, the findings and recommendations can be found in the investigation report and associated material on the website," she said.


Fact check: Are 30,000 women and 100,000 men sleeping rough?

The brainless General Morrison again

"Tonight... there are 30,000 women - that's more women than all of the soldiers in the regular Australian Army - who are sleeping rough on the streets of Australia. There are another 100,000 men who are sleeping rough," Australian of the Year David Morrison said on the ABC TV's Q&A on February 1.

How many men and women sleep rough and do women sleeping rough outnumber the soldiers in the Regular Army? ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict: Mr Morrison's claim is wrong.

According to the 2011 census, the total number of homeless Australians was 105,237.  Of those, 45,813 were women and 59,424 were men.

However, these figures include six categories of homelessness of which sleeping rough is only one.  In the sleeping rough category, women numbered 2,180 and men 4,633.

Experts contacted by Fact Check said these were the best figures available and far fewer men and women were sleeping rough on the streets of Australia than Mr Morrison said.

There were 29,193 soldiers in the Regular Australian Army on June 30, 2015.

Whilst there are more homeless women in total than there are soldiers in the Regular Army, there are fewer women sleeping rough than the number of soldiers.

Homeless men in all categories do not number 100,000, let alone men sleeping rough.

A spokesman for Mr Morrison told Fact Check his figures came from The Big Issue, an independent, not-for-profit organisation supporting and creating jobs for the homeless.

A spokeswoman from The Big Issue said the organisation quotes a figure of 46,000 homeless women, as indicated on a fact sheet from the national peak body advocating for the homelessness sector, Homelessness Australia.  "It should be noted that the definition of homelessness is quite broad, so not all of these women would be sleeping on the streets," she said.


Thousands of students caught up in major college collapse

If government money is given out to every Tom Dick and Harry without checks that it is being used wisely, the temptation to take the money and deliver little in return will always be too strong for some.  But it will always end badly

Thousands of students of at least four colleges have been left in limbo with huge debts following the collapse of one of the country's largest vocational education companies.

At least 500 administration and teaching staff have also been affected by the collapse.

Aspire College of Education, The Design Works College of Design, RTO Services Group and the Australian Indigenous College were placed in voluntary administration on Tuesday. Aspire alone has about 20 campuses around Australia.

All of the colleges are owned by Global Intellectual Holdings, which is also in administration with debt owing to ANZ Bank.

The fallout follows a federal government crackdown on the scandal-plagued vocational education sector, which included bans on inducements like free laptops and freezing funds to private colleges accessing VET FEE-HELP to 2015 levels.

There has been widespread rorting of VET FEE-HELP, a HECS-style loans system for vocational training students.

"There's thousands of students that have been left high and dry," a source said.

One employee said that the administrators took all the employees' keys and credit cards and padlocked the gates at The Designworks College of Design campus in West Burleigh in Gold Coast.

The colleges have campuses across Australia, including several in Melbourne and Sydney, and receives tens of millions of dollars in government funded student loans.  The Australian Indigenous College only enrols indigenous students.

The source said the colleges had exploited the VET FEE-HELP scheme by enrolling as many students at possible, with little regard to their ability to complete the course.

"They would recruit as many students as possible. They weren't interested in the students or their ability to complete the course. They were interested in anyone that came out of the dole office, single mums, and they targeted poor areas."

A letter from the administrator to employees said that major federal government changes to the VET FEE-HELP sector had "resulted in very significant pressure on the college's ability to operate."

"The owners of the colleges have exhausted all available means to continue operating and, with great reluctance, have been forced to place the colleges into voluntary administration."

ASIC documents show the colleges appointed administrators from Hall and Chadwick on Tuesday.

According to Global Intellectual Holdings' most recent accounts, the head company employs 501 people. It is unclear how much is owed to current employees of the colleges and to other creditors to the business.

Global Intellectual Holdings made $83 million in revenue in the year to June 2015, making it one of the largest vocational education companies in Australia.

The group's collapse comes despite Global Intellectual Holdings making a profit of $17.95 million in 2015. During the year it paid $14 million in dividends to its directors Roger Williams and Aloi Burgess. The accounts show the company held $19 million in debt.

Commonwealth Bank is listed as a creditor to Aspire College.

The colleges offer business, management, community services, graphic design, beauty, interactive digital media and teaching English as a second language courses.

The first meeting of creditors will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane on February 18.


14 February, 2016

The Left never learn

It's a basic principle of taxation law that you levy a tax not on all income but on what is left after costs of earning that income are taken into account.  The Labor party can't get that into their thick heads.  "Negative Gearing" simply refers to the fact that some investors think long term and are willing to accept that the rent from properties they let out will not cover all  their costs immediately. They take a loss.  The Labor party wants to stop that because investors can claim that loss against other income.  If Labor does stop it, rents will obviously shoot up as long-term investors are driven out by the increase in their losses.

And here's the crazy bit.  The ALP did once before legislate against negative gearing -- under Paul Keating.  The results were so disastrous that they reversed course in not much more than a year.  They even gave back tax that they had previously levied.

Their present proposals are some improvement on the past in that they intend to preserve negative gearing for new  builds.  They assume that investors will divert all their money into new builds.  But new builds are a more risky proposition so that is in fact likely to mean that many investors will sit on their hands until rents rise. There is such a thing as a risk premium and it is renters who will pay it

And in the end what is the point?  If investors flocked to new builds, they would still be using negative gearing -- meaning that no new tax would be collected -- which frustrates the whole point of the exercise

The Opposition Leader has unveiled a major new policy restricting the tax breaks given to investment property owners.

Bill Shorten has used the New South Wales Labor conference to put forward the proposal to make negative gearing only available on newly constructed homes from July next year.

Mr Shorten says Australia's tax system is like a leaky bucket and limiting access to negative gearing can help fix it.

Shadow Minister for Immigration Richard Marles said on Sky News the decision is a hard but fair one.

'This policy is going to put new home buyers on an equal footing in the housing market and help housing affordability,' Marles said on Sky News' Pyne and Marles program.

Capital gains tax concessions would also be cut from 50 per cent to 25 per cent, also with no change to the rules applying to existing assets.

And the family home, along with personal superannuation, would be 100 per cent capital gains tax free.

'Taken together, these decisions will save $32.1 billion (over 10 years) and help put fairness back into the housing market,' Mr Shorten says.

Analysis by the McKell Institute shows the negative gearing changes could create up to 25,000 new construction jobs annually and add $4.5 billion to economic growth.

Costs for renters would also drop.

Mr Shorten says fixing the 'leaky bucket' is necessary to grow the economy, create jobs and improve the sustainability of the budget.

'The holes are costing our country money and subsidising people and firms who don't need government handouts,' he said.

'Every dollar in revenue lost through a loophole is a dollar that can't be invested in our future - in our schools, universities and TAFEs.'

Negative gearing occurs when the cost of owning a rental property outweighs the income it generates each year.

This creates a taxable loss, which can normally be offset against other income, such as a salary or wage, to provide tax savings.

The housing industry has previously argued restricting access to negative gearing would reduce investment in housing, make it more unaffordable and put pressure on rents.

But studies by welfare groups and unions have pointed to economic benefits.


Kevvy backtracks

When he was looking for votes from Australians he denied that Australians were racist.  Now that he is out of politics, he reverts to the old Leftist standby of calling any non-Leftist racist.  It is such a standby that it should be totally ignored.  Many minorities -- Italians, Greeks,Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Jews etc -- do very well in Australia so what racism there is is obviously minor.  A few jerks can be ignored

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says claims that the booing of ex-Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes had nothing to do with his Aboriginality, are "100 per cent bullshit".

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd says it is "100 per cent bullshit" that the booing of ex-Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes had nothing to do with his Aboriginality, in a speech that called on Australians to name and shame racism.

Speaking on the eighth anniversary of his apology to the stolen generations, Mr Rudd said that he was perhaps naive when he said five years ago that he did not believe that racism was at work in Australia.

"Perhaps [I was] just wishing that the better angels of our nature had begun to prevail in a newly reconciled Australia," he said.  "Or perhaps I was just plain wrong."

But at a breakfast gathering of Indigenous and political leaders at the NSW Parliament on Friday, Mr Rudd cited examples of what an Indigenous friend had recently described as the "low, steady hum of racism" in Australia.

These included stories of a black, but not Indigenous, Australian who left a job because "he just couldn't put up with it any more, being called a 'monkey' by one of his co-workers", and an elderly Aboriginal couple who were refused service in a country cafe.
Adam Goodes' quiet goodbye was typical of the type of person he is. "Adam said that's enough," coach John Longmire said.

Adam Goodes has been a vocal critic of racism in Australia. Photo: Getty Images

"To me this story sounded more like one from the Birmingham, Alabama, of the 1960s rather than regional Australia half a century later," he said.

Mr Rudd said that, when he spoke out last year about the treatment of Goodes, "People screamed back that it wasn't because Adam was Aboriginal. It was just that they disliked his behaviour as a footballer.

"I'm not exactly a connoisseur of the finer points of the game," Mr Rudd continued. "But I think the claim that this was to do with Adam Goodes as a sportsman and not to do with his Aboriginal identity, I think that claim is 100 per cent bullshit."

Mr Rudd said there was another side to Australia, as experienced by many in the community, that is "more confronting than we white folks are ready for".

"I don't believe this racism represents the mainstream of our society," he said. "But it would be wrong to conclude that we don't have a problem."

Even if it is expressed by a small minority, racist words "still carry a great weight, because they are powered by the force of history".

"It's like a cancer that eats away at the fabric of our society - the fabric that binds us together as a wider Australian family," he said.

"The next time any of us see or hear racist behaviour, don't be silent. Call it out for what it is. Name it. Shame it. For racism in any form has no place in the Australia of the 21st century."


Tasmania’s Burning Peatlands Caused by global warming?

No.  There was no statistically significant terrestrial global warming for over 18 years.  And even El Nino pushed the average terrestrial global temperature to a 2015 rise of just over one tenth of a degree Celsius

As the climate warms, the hoary peatlands that blanket Tasmania’s west are drying out, and burning up. The cool moist conditions they rely on are disappearing but the peatlands are exacting a small revenge on the species responsible.

While fires have typically burned across peatlands with little effect, Professor David Bowman said that as they dry, the centuries-old organic soils beneath are starting to smoulder.

In turn, public health experts say the smouldering peatlands are letting off nasty smoke, exacerbating the already serious threats posed by bushfires.

According to Prof. Bowman, there’s little doubt that human-induced climate change is to blame, and the problem will only grow as temperatures rise.

"A lot of people haven’t caught up to how fast climate change is in comparison to the background ecological change," Prof. Bowman said. "What is happening with a warming climate is ecological change is just speeding up, and there’s going to be collateral."

"There is damage, and I think these fires are part of that. There have been big fires in the past…but I suspect the trend we’re seeing now, of really big fires, and high frequency big fires, often lit by lightning storms, is signalling something different."

It’s unclear how bad the damage is at this stage, but if the organic soils under the peatlands combust, they take centuries to regenerate. During that time, peatland ecosystems also becomes more fire-prone, lessening the peat’s chances of regeneration.

Prof. Bowman predicts peat soils will likely be relegated to localised patches along creek lines, and on lower slopes by the end of this century. Outside of these refugia, he expects large tracts of Tasmania’s western wilderness, much of it World Heritage Listed, will be replaced by "scrublands on gravelly ridges".

"I actually think at a broader scale – if you believe the climate models, and data – it’s pretty simple analysis," Prof. Bowman said.

"That is, that peatlands require a certain climate; the Tasmanian peatlands are right on the margin; and if you warm the world, the peatlands that exist in Tasmania will … be replaced by a different sort of bush that will be more flammable and has a different sort of hydrology."

And out of the ashes of Tasmania’s peatlands, a new threat is rising.

"The odd bushfire, you know, every so often, is typical basically anywhere in Australia," said Dr Fay Johnston, a Menzies Institute researcher at the University of Tasmania. "But here we’ve got vegetation and soil burning that doesn’t normally burn. It’s more than just smoke from a passing vegetation fire, and that can be bad enough."

"The mixture is more toxic, particularly if you’re close to it, and the sheer load of particles, because it’s incomplete [and]inefficient combustion, is much greater," Dr Johnston said.

"The smoke mixture has a higher load of toxic ingredients, including suspended particles and products of incomplete combustion – hydrocarbons, volatile organic acids, a whole suite of things – that in their own right are highly irritating."

"With peat fires, you tend to have a bigger exposure and you tend to have an exposure that goes on for longer," she said.

On Friday, when authorities issued their latest stakeholder update, there were still over 70 fires – 30 of them uncontrolled – still burning across Tasmania. Smoke has reached as far as Melbourne, and Dr Johnston said that it’s likely around half of Tasmania has been exposed to the damaging haze.

"Everybody in Tasmania, more or less, would’ve got some smoke, but it was the people who live up in the north west who really got affected. It was quite bad for a good week, and it’s fluctuating on and off in some cases since then," she said.


3.6m households pay no net tax after churn

A higher threshold before tax is levied plus a reduction of  allowances would be more rational and less wasteful

The government is working on ways to untangle the tax-and-transfer system with a focus on the 3.6 million households who are net beneficiaries of government payments.

The one-third of working households receiving more in government benefits than they pay in tax — many of them families — will be targeted by the federal government in a bid to make the system fairer, cut spending and rein in waste.

Scott Morrison, Social Services Minister Christian Porter and their departments are working on ways to untangle the tax-and-transfer system with a focus on the 3.6 million households who are net beneficiaries of government payments.

Mr Porter told The Weekend Australian: "It is very costly to take large sums in tax and give back almost the same or more in benefits."

He said his department and Treasury were working on identifying the points on the welfare and tax scales where money was wasted.

The federal government cycles more than one-quarter of the hundreds of billions of dollars it raises in tax revenue through its bureaucracy before giving it back to people, sometimes the same taxpayers, in benefits. Government ministers have cited the statistic that 40 per cent of all households and 30 per cent of working households did not pay net tax.

Exclusive government modelling shows how this looks in the real world.

A couple with two children aged four and six and a single income of $50,000 receive $15,421 in family tax benefits, $7000 more than they pay in income tax. The modelling does not include rebates such as those for childcare (a maximum of $7500 a year) or for private health insurance.

The Treasurer said migration of tax benefits to the welfare system was "a big problem".

"We actually have an earnings problem in this country," Mr Morrison told The Weekend Aus­tralian. "People are not earning enough. The country needs to earn more. And the tax burden on the earners in this economy is something that is a very high economic goal that we have to ­address. Fairness is a two-way street. You’ve got to look at the fairness to those who receive the benefits, but it’s got to be fair on those who are paying for it."

The Treasurer’s comments come in a week when the government shied away from "big bang" tax reform and began the hunt for savings from other areas of government spending, such as retirement incomes, negative gearing and welfare.

Modelling by the Australian National University Centre for Social Research and Methods using 2013-14 ABS Survey of Income and Housing data paints a picture of these households, setting them squarely in the territory of "Howard’s battlers" who swept the conservative prime minister to victory in 1996.

There are 3.6 million households that are net beneficiaries of the tax and transfer system out of 8.8 million and among the 1.9 million working age households, 608,509 of these are couples with dependent children.

The matriarchs or patriarchs of these households are most often aged between 30 and 44, they have two young children and 47 per cent of them are renters.

Renters have a median net worth of $57,000 but those with a mortgage have a median home value of $400,000 and a median net worth of $329,000.

This is middle Australia and the stigma of government intervention in their lives hangs heavy.

ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods research fellow Matthew Taylor said: "People get a bit excited about the lifters and leaners rhetoric but I would suggest, in as far as the objective of the system is lifetime income smoothing, the percentage of net taxpayers is to some extent a ­prisoner of demography."

If society wanted families to have children, this was part of the deal, he said.

Mr Porter said any search for savings in this area was not done "in any ideological sense".

"We are starting to identify individual instances, people who are receiving quite similar benefits to the amount they are paying in tax," he said. "Some call it the leaky bucket syndrome and it involves a whole range of bureaucratic administration systems and full time public servants."

Mr Porter said family tax benefits were designed to be a tax credit as opposed to a payment. Technology then got in the way but that intent could be resurrected.

"It is not inconceivable that at some future point of time, particularly with the advent of the (Australian Taxation Office program) single touch payroll that you could find more effective ways to have these welfare benefits," he said.

"Yes, there are a large number of people that are net beneficiaries but at the other end of the spectrum there are other people who are not and this is part of a fairly well-targeted welfare system.

"That’s good system design. But in the middle there are a group of people who pay considerable tax and receive considerable benefits. That’s poor design."

Both Mr Morrison and Mr Porter have sounded the alarm about "doing nothing" to reform spending or revenue streams and Treasury data now shows bracket creep in personal income tax will cut 0.35 per cent of GDP and the average rate paid will hit 24.4 per cent this year.

Deputy prime minister-elect Barnaby Joyce said the battle was now to ensure children were not "chained to a future of paying back people", not that this would spur middle Australia to action.

Social researcher David ­Chalke said: "You could try and make that argument to them but they (the families) are already under pressure, the pips are already squeaking. You could ask them to pull their belts in a bit ­further and they’d say no, go and get it off the rich. Whatever the right or the wrong of the matter, it would make it very easy for the Bill Shortens and Dave Olivers of this world to pull out a scare ­campaign."

The government’s welfare reviewer Patrick McClure, whose recommendations continue to be implemented under the Turnbull government, said family tax benefits were "quite an anomaly" because they were introduced during a time of economic growth and plenty.

"The problem we now have is that there are two systems, the taxation system and the income support system, and they do not talk to each other," he said.

"My work was to review the welfare system and part of that was simplifying the payments from 20 to five.

"That is now going to be a project for a new or second-term government."


Europe’s open doors are a civilisation death wish

Australians should feel unashamed about our immigration policies and instead fight the growth of identity politics and the undermining of free speech.

That’s the message of provoc­ative Canadian commentator Mark Steyn, who tomorrow begins an Australian speaking tour sponsored by the Institute of Public ­Affairs.

Free speech is at the heart of Steyn’s message. He is surprised that the controversial section 18c of our Racial Discrimination Act is still standing when his own country successfully repealed the equivalent parts of its Human Rights Act in 2013.

"Free peoples are losing the habit of free speech," he says. "They’re taught, not really just at university but in fact from kindergarten, that there is a correct view of certain subjects and that incorrect views are distressing. The last two generations raised in the Western world, they don’t do that thing, the apocryphal Voltaire line, ‘I disagree with what you say but I’ll fight to the death for you to.’ They’ll fight to the death for you not to be allowed to say it."

The consequences can be disturbing. "People can actually lose the spirit of liberty and once you’ve lost that there are not a lot of easy paths back," he cautions.

Steyn says the initial reluctance of politicians and much of the media to acknowledge, let alone discuss frankly, events in ­Cologne on New Year’s Eve or the growing problem of sexual assault in Sweden did nothing to preserve social cohesion but instead widened a democratic deficit between governments and the governed over the tide of asylum-seekers sweeping across Europe.

"Free speech is like being a little bit pregnant," he says. "You can’t be a little bit free speech."

He talks of meeting people fleeing the Balkans as a journalist covering the wars that accompanied the disintegration of Yugoslavia. "In Europe the whole migrant thing is basically open mockery of the whole idea of refugees," he says.

Steyn says EU leaders need to speak frankly about the forces now pulling people to the continent and how they are different.

He points to Africa. "People now have cell phones," Steyn says. They can see what’s going on in the world. Even as recently as the 1980s their glimpse of life in the West came from re-runs of Dallas.

"It’s a different world now. They can see in real time their cousin who got on a boat from Libya and wound up in Italy and walked over to Sweden. They’re seeing in real time the kind of life their cousin is living. What percentage of North Africa has to decide ‘We’d quite like to move to Europe’ for there to be no ­Europe?"

As a result, Steyn sees nothing wrong with Australia’s asylum-seeker policies. "Australia does what every country used to do until the 1960s. It reserves the right to pick and choose who it admits to within its borders." He adds: "In effect, everyone in Australia is Donald Trump."

But Steyn points to the different recent experiences of asylum-seeker flows of Europe and Australia. "Europe is basically as near to Africa as Australia is to ­Indonesia," he says, describing the EU’s approach as "the equivalent of Australia telling everyone in ­Indonesia, ‘See you in Darwin on Tuesday’."

Steyn is blunt on the potential consequences of the uncontrolled flows of people. "If you lose control of your border you don’t have a country," he says. In this environment, he is particularly concerned about the impact of identity politics and ­diversity policies that play on differences. He points to his experiences in the Balkans. "Once people start to think of tribal identities, you end up with tribal politics," he warns. "It doesn’t matter if the tribe is Bosnians or Croats or whether its transgender and lesbians versus straight white males."

Steyn jokes about "the Stanley Gibbons stamp collection approach to diversity" but says it is a trap that can cause ­divisions in wealthy, comfortable and largely homogenous societies, be they in Europe or our own.

"I raise my kids in New Hampshire which is 99.99999 per cent white," he says. "I think there’s rumoured to be three black guys somewhere in the southern part of the state and two Hispanics. That’s it for New Hampshire.

"It gets kind of boring and people think wouldn’t it be nice to have bit of this and a bit of that. We live here and we’ve got all these people called Smith and Jones and all the rest of it. It would be much more interesting if we can have a bit more diversity. So look. There’s that nice gay couple who have moved into No 28 Victoria Gardens. And — ooh, aren’t we lucky now? There’s a nice fire-breathing imam who has moved into No 30.

"They can all meet. The fire-breathing imam can make conversation with the nice gay couple over the garden fence as they do on a Sunday afternoon."

Then the joking ends. "The situation they’re now realising in Europe is that when you’re so boundlessly tolerant that you tolerate the avowedly intolerant then you basically have turned that whole kind of Stanley Gibbons diversity thing into a civilisational death wish," Steyn says.

He warns against embracing the self-loathing that comes with the increasingly common use of concepts such as privilege and entitlement to delineate societal goodies and baddies — witting or not. "The minute you start using these things like privilege, what you’re doing is incentivising the most reductive kind of identity group politics," Steyn says.

Here, he specifically references 18c and "what groups you can claim to be a member of" so before the law "what matters is not that you are a citizen like any other" but which "groups you have a purchase on".

Then Steyn the joker takes over, riffing off the old story about Cromwell’s portrait painter and the wart to illustrate the folly of the feelings of guilt that rack the bien-pensants of the West.

"Nowhere is perfect," he says, "but if you have basically a heroic national narrative as Australia does, there’s something psychologically unhealthy in obsessing on the warts to the exclusion of all else. What’s happening now is you say, well, we haven’t got enough warts." Warming to his theme, he casts about for new sources of shame. "What a pity we haven’t got Hispanics," he says. "That would give us a whole new wart, a whole great new oozing pustule sac in the middle of our forehead we could all feel bad about.

"That’s the craziness here. It’s Cromwell to the nth degree. ‘Don’t paint me warts and all. Just paint my warts and if I don’t have enough warts, add a few to my face. The more warts the better. That’s what we want. We want more warts!’ "


12 February, 2016

Feminist aggression

One of my Australian correspondents who works as a counsellor shares the following experience

Over many years of working amongst severe feminists I have occasionally had false accusations or insinuations made of me, and seen other men accused too, some having their careers ruined.

Most accusations occur after a disagreement or having to correct or reprimand a feminist, to which her common response is to falsely claim she was physically intimidated or threated. Men prefer to be corrected privately, and so do sensible women, and I always do that, but I have learnt to always correct feminists and hung-up women in front of sensible women. Of course then the feminist complains she is being humiliated in front of others, but that's better than me being accused of threatening violence.

The most comical incident was once when reaching out to a clock-on-card and a nurse beside me leapt in front of me and ran her neck straight into my extended arm, pushing her throat into the crook of my elbow and instantly grabbing my arm and wrapping it around her neck as if she was being choked. She even made choking noises. I freed my arm and stepped back.

She pretended to stagger a bit, clutched her throat and gave me a filthy look as if I had just tried to kill her. Then just as suddenly she straightened up and strutted off down the corridor doing her best assertive feminist walk and went off to work her shift. I never heard anything further about the incident, and although I recorded it for my own record, I did not report it. It was as if an irresistible impulse had momentarily overcome her.

Needless to say I was very careful around her after that. As an amusing follow up, a year or two later I was coming out of an Art Gallery having just seen a historical military display.   She was standing outside looking very uptight and sour indeed. I said hello and asked her if she was here to see the display. With a sneer she said her husband was viewing the display, then with an air of snotty superiority added that she was "not into violence".   

Via email

Activists push taxpayer-funded homosexual manual in schools

Eleven-year-old children are being taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues at school in a taxpayer-funded program written by gay activists.

The Safe Schools Coalition teaching manual says that asking parents if their baby is a boy or a girl reinforces a "heteronormative world view".

Religious groups yesterday criticised the "age-inappropriate" manual, which suggests that sexuality be raised in every subject area. "Whatever the subject, try to work out ways to integrate gender diversity and sexual diversity across your curriculum," the manual says.

The All of Us teaching manual, designed for Years 7 and 8, says that children often realise they are lesbian, gay or bisexual between the ages of 11 and 14, while the -average age for "coming out" is 16.

A lesson plan on "bisexual -experiences" requires students to imagine they live in a world "where having teeth is considered really unpleasant". Students take turns telling a classmate about their weekend, without showing their teeth.

"How did it feel to have to hide part of yourself?" the students are asked. "Do you think that some lesbian, gay or bisexual young people feel that they need to hide part of themselves? How might this make them feel?"

Children are shown short films about the personal stories of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

In a lesson on same-sex attraction, students as young as 11 are told to imagine they are 16-year-olds who are "going out with someone they are really into". The class is divided into students pretending to be going out with someone of the same sex, and classmates pretending to like someone of the opposite sex.

The children have to answer 10 questions, including whether they could "easily talk to your parents about your sexuality", and to name four famous Australians of the same sexuality.

The teacher then instructs the children to stand, and slowly counts backwards from 10. Each child can sit down when the number called out by the teacher corresponds with the number of times they answered "yes" in the quiz - meaning that a student who answers "no" could be left standing in front of the class.

The Safe Schools manual -appears to reach beyond promoting tolerance, to advocating activism by students. It tells students to defy teachers who refuse to let them put up LGBTI posters.

"If you can, it's a good idea to get permission to put your posters up, so you avoid getting in -trouble," the manual says. "If your school or teachers say no, ask for reasons and see if they make sense. If they don't seem reasonable, you may have to be creative about where you place them."

Safe Schools also advises -students to "use your assignments to start conversations".

"For example, some students have chosen to do their English oral presentations on equal marriage rights or their music or art assignments on how artists express their sexuality, gender or intersex status through their work," it says.

The Safe Schools Coalition suggests that schools paint a rainbow crossing, provide unisex toilets and hand out stickers to supportive teachers.

The federal government has provided $8 million in funding for the program, which has won support from the Australian Secondary Principals Association, beyondblue, headspace and the Australian Education Union. The Victorian government will require all state schools to join the Safe Schools network by 2018, but the program is voluntary in other states and territories.

So far 490 primary and high schools nationally have signed up, although the list of 24 schools in Queensland is secret.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Safe Schools program was an "opt-in" for schools and run at arm's length from government.

"Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment," Senator Birmingham said. "The resource is intended to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school."

A La Trobe University study of more than 3000 same-sex-attracted young people in 2010 found that 75 per cent had experienced some form of homophobic bullying or abuse - with 80 per cent of those occurring at school.

Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman Wendy Francis said the Safe Schools material pressured kids into accepting LGBTI concepts and "confuses them about their own identity".

She said forcing students to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship was a "form of cultural bullying".

Ms Francis said the material was not age-appropriate, as 11-year-old children were too young to be taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues. "A lot of children are still pretty innocent about this stuff - these are adult concepts," she said.

Ms Francis agreed that bullying against LGBTI students "absolutely has to be stopped".

"Every child should be safe at school," she said.

Safe Schools Coalition national director Sally Richardson said students at safe and supportive schools did better academically and were less likely to suffer poor mental health. "Our resources are designed to provide teachers with tools to help them have conversations with students around inclusion and diversity in the community," Ms Richardson said. "We provide schools with practical ways to foster a positive school culture where students, staff and families of all sexualities and gender identities feel safe, included and valued."

Ms Richardson said all the Safe Schools materials - including the All of Us teaching guide - were used at the discretion of individual schools.

The principal of Scotch College in Adelaide, John Newton, said his students had "embraced" the Safe Schools message of support and tolerance. But he did not approve of the lesson plan that required children to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship.  "That wouldn't be a method we'd use," Dr Newton said.

"It feels like a ham-fisted attempt to change a culture.

"Our children are well ahead of the issue and happy to talk about it - they seem to have a very mature approach."

Safe Schools is also used in Shenton College, an independent public school in Perth. "We strive to be a welcoming, progressive and inclusive public school," said principal Christopher Hill.

"We can't turn away from the fact that schools need to deal with these sorts of issues."

The Safe Schools guide cites statistics that 10 per cent of people are same-sex attracted, 1.7 per cent are intersex - born with both male and female features - and 4 per cent are transgender.


NOTE:  The statistics above are, as usual, greatly exaggerated. Research conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University in 2003, has shown that of the 20,000 people surveyed, about 1.2% of adults identify as homosexual (gay or lesbian).  Among men, 1.6% identify as homosexual, and among women, 0.8% identify as lesbian, while 1.4% of women and 0.9% of men identify as bisexual

Mothers Speaking Out

As our culture continues to spiral down the septic tank, eventually that produces a backlash. After a while decent people have had enough, and start to stand against the sleaze, degradation and corruption of our culture. And when our children are especially being targeted and abused by the sexual libertines and social revolutionaries, then the reaction really starts to kick in.

There have always been concerned parents who have resisted the moral decay and radical agendas of the coercive utopians, but as things get worse, more voices begin to be heard. In the past day or two I have found three cases of incensed Australian mothers speaking out, declaring `enough is enough'.

All three mums have had a gutful of the sexualisation of their kids, and want no more of it. All three have fearlessly and resolutely spoken out against this evil, and have gotten media attention for doing so. So let me focus on each of these three brave women, and hold them up as examples for you to emulate.

The first is a Melbourne mother who is sick of pro-homosexual and gender-bending propaganda being rammed down the throats of her children. One article on this opens as follows:

    "A website promoted by the Safe Schools Coalition is teaching students how to bind their breasts and "tuck in" male genitalia. The Minus 18 website, which is partially funded by the state government, gives step-by-step instructions on how to deal with "chest dysphoria" and includes seven different binding methods.
    Mother of four Cella White withdrew her children from Frankston High over concerns about the Safe Schools Coalition program about transgender awareness. Ms White also expressed concerns about the website. "You are either born a boy or girl, I believe in mother nature, I want my kids to value their body, the breast binding is a real issue, we should be teaching kids to love themselves," she said..

    The government-funded program by the Safe Schools Coalition is designed to promote inclusiveness for `same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse' students, but critics say it is indoctrinating children in sexual identity politics under the pretence of a bullying program.

    "It was announced in science class that boys could wear school dresses next year," Ms White said. "They're telling my children to call transgender children by their requested pronoun. What is the benefit to my son? He's got a learning disability, he's struggling with his times tables, he doesn't need to deal with this."

    The mother of four was particularly concerned about any changes in bathroom policy that could see her daughter sharing a bathroom with a gender diverse student. "It could be a year 12 student of the opposite-born sex in the bathroom with my year 7 daughter who is blind," Ms White said. "This isn't about safe schools, it's transgenderism and gay activism bought into the classroom. I know other parents who are not happy.".

    Ms White, who has complained to the education department and Safe Schools Coalition, said she is not religious but is coming forward to make other parents aware of "what their children are being taught. It's being presented as an anti-bullying program but the education department said it's a sexual diversity program," she said. "Apart from this I love the school, I'm in mourning, I went there, my siblings went there, I told everyone how good they were."

Another mother of four, this time from Perth, has also been battling this pernicious material for some time now. She was recently interviewed by the Australian but her comments did not make it into the newspaper article, so I asked Emily McKenna what she told the reporter. This is the gist of what she had said:

    "With progressive minded parents in our school advocating for the "Safe School Coalition" and my four-year-old starting kindy with two children from two separate same-sex lesbian households, I knew that it would be a matter of time before my children would be bullied for our family's traditional marriage views.

    The Safe Schools Coalition is being presented here in Western Australia by the AIDS Council. That information alone is alarming let alone the details taught in the "All of Us" booklet convincing children to force their bodies to stop growing as intended by nature.

    Sharyn O'Neil, Director General at WA Education Department initially assured many prominent leaders here that the SSC would not go ahead in WA, however these minority groups don't like no for an answer and in October 2015 the classroom diversity plan was rolled out into 7 senior schools and one primary school. This was a matter of three months after I had met with her about politicising our children in the classroom with relation to the climate change agenda. She assured me personally that it wouldn't happen again.

    After looking into our options as Christian parents, we have decided that our children's future education would be best taught and overseen by us at home. We want our children to get back to learning their ABC's and 123's, and not be indoctrinated in all the latest politically correct sexuality!"

Finally, a Queensland mother has gotten up in arms of the sexualisation of children as well. As a news item reports:

    "Nikita Friedman was so angered by what she believed was inappropriate clothing being sold for young girls by Big W she took to social media to voice her outrage. "Why on earth does my 1-year-old need to have shorts so short that her nappy is hanging out? Little girls are not sex objects. Gender bias is disgusting," the Queensland mum wrote on the retail giant's Facebook page. "I couldn't find a single pair of shorts in the girl's section today with an inseam of more than a couple of centimetres. Where is the variety and choice for parents looking to teach their children about sun safety and self respect? Not at Big W this month, that's for sure!"

    She also posted a photo comparing size one shorts for girls and boys, demonstrating the clear difference in length.

    The post, which now appears to have been removed, received over 60,000 likes and 4,700 comments. Friedman edited her initial post to add that she believed it was important to let retailers know when customers are dissatisfied.

    "The simple fact is that numbers talk and maybe seeing 1600 parents agree with my post after only 5 hours might make Big W stand up and listen for once to what parents want,' she wrote just five hours after she published the popular post," she wrote. The post attracted a lot of debate about whether the length of the shorts for boys and girls is an issue. Many parents jumped to support Friedman in the comments, with some congratulating her for taking a stand."

I am so glad that mothers are speaking out like this. They certainly should be. It is time to take a stand against all this sleaze, and the targeting of our children. We need many more concerned citizens to be raising their voices like this. If enough people speak out, things may begin to change.

Oh, and just one last question: when are we going to hear some fathers speaking out? Where are all the men? We need them to be a voice for our children as well.


CSIRO boss Larry Marshall sorry for saying politics of climate more like religion than science

Looks like he let his real opinion slip out

  CSIRO chief Larry Marshall has apologised for describing the emotion of the climate debate as almost "more religion than science".

 Dr Marshall had told the ABC  the backlash from his decision to restructure the organisation made him feel like an "early climate scientist in the '70s fighting against the oil lobby"  and that there was so much emotion in the debate it almost "sounded more like religion than science".

He also said he would not be backing down on his controversial shakeup of the organisation's climate divisions, telling the ABC he was yet to be persuaded.At Senate estimates this afternoon he backed away from those comments.

"I'd like to apologise for any offence I may have caused to anyone with respect to my reference to religion," Dr Marshall said. "I was merely referring to the passionate zeal around this issue, not any other reference, and I deeply apologise." 

The redirection of climate science priorities at the CSIRO has drawn international condemnation, with thousands of climate scientists signing an open letter protesting against the changes.

 The Oceans and Atmosphere division is expected to be one of the hardest hit, with 60 positions to go through a mix of redeployment and redundancies.All up, 350 jobs will "change" - a plan that has drawn the ire of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change co-chair and even the World Meteorological Organisation which has made an unprecedented statement condemning the decision.

During the Senate estimates hearing Dr Marshall was quizzed about the backlash and was asked if he thought the international scientists were wrong."We're not saying that modelling and measurement are not important.

We're saying that modelling and measuring isn't more important than mitigation and we've chosen to shift our emphasis to mitigation," he said.


Sexist Labor party female gets a good reply

The spectre of the gender wars has been invoked in Senate estimates this morning after a line of questioning by new Labor senator Katy Gallagher resulted in a spat between her and government minister Mitch Fifield in which she accused him of "mansplaining".

Senator Gallagher was asking about the status of social security legislation the day after Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister and whether there was any change to the introduction of bills, with Senator Fifield explaining that these were matters for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The argument went on, with Senator Gallagher rephrasing the question a number of times.

"Thanks for the mansplaining," she said toward the end of the first session of Community Affairs estimates.

"Imagine if I said you were womansplaining," Senator Fifield said, before adding she was being "sexist".

Senator Gallagher said his answers had been "patronising and condescending".

"I thought we were having a good-hearted exchange, I just find it extraordinary that you or any senator at this table would seek to invoke gender in impugning how a senator is responding," Senator Fifield said.  "Let the record show that Senator Gallagher thinks it is appropriate to refer to a senator as mansplaining.

"I am appalled, quite frankly. I am not endeavouring here to give a cabinet handbook description of the legislative process. Take a good look at yourself.

"If I said to a female senator you are womansplaining, stop being a hypocrite, conduct yourself appropriately for this place.  Hypocrisy, thy name is Labor."

Senator Gallagher responded: "I think you need to settle down, really."

"Welcome to federal parliament," Senator Fifield said.

Senator Gallagher, incensed, said: "Oh, where the big people play? I'm not the one having a breakdown."

The session was called to order and the senators moved on to more sedate questions


11 February, 2016

Islamic State: Charges dropped against Australian man Jamie Reece Williams, who planned to join Kurdish militia

The case against Melbourne man Jamie Reece Williams, charged in 2015 with attempting to travel to northern Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces against Islamic State (IS) militants, has been dropped.

The decision to discontinue the prosecution was made by Federal Attorney-General George Brandis.

The move could have ramifications for Australians who have fought against IS, returned to Australia, but are still under investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Mr Williams, of Epping, in Melbourne's northern suburbs, was charged in July last year after being detained at Melbourne Airport in 2014 as he attempted to board a flight to the Middle East.

When asked what he was travelling for, Mr Williams told authorities he was going to fight with a Kurdish militia called the YPG, and planned to travel first to the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah.

Late last year Mr Williams' lawyers applied to have the case against their client discontinued by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), arguing that the prosecution was not in the public interest because the Kurds are an ally of the coalition fighting against IS.

They also said the YPG was in fact the effective government of parts of northern Syria.

Under the foreign fighters legislation, which Mr Williams was charged under, anyone who fought with or planned to fight with the armed forces of a government was exempt from prosecution.

Mr Williams' lawyer Jessie Smith argued that the YPG and its political wing exerted "effective control" over parts of Syria, and therefore constituted a government under the act.

It is not clear on what grounds the CDPP has decided to discontinue the prosecution.


Have and have-not neighbours baffled by NBN

Coulson Street in the inner-­Sydney suburb of Erskineville marks a vast technological divide.

On one side, Loretta Tolnay Bolton and her sons, seven-year-old Miguel and five-year-old Valentino, experience frustration when they log on to surf the web. "Most of the time, all three of us are on our respective devices and it’s all really slow," she says.

And when they attempted to connect to the National Broadband Network, its website informed them the "NBN network rollout has not started in your area".

Not strictly true. Two hundred metres down and across the road, Jeff Lock has just been told he can connect to what has long been touted as Australia’s information super highway. "I use the internet a lot, so to have the best speed will be great," he said. "It’ll make life easier, especially watching movies or downloading ­material, documentaries and things."

The difference between super-fast broadband and ADSL can be infuriating. Miguel and Valentino are both regular YouTube viewers, as well as regular users of iPad gaming apps.

"When you have a look, it says it’s not in your area," Ms Tolnay Bolton says. "To hear there are people right across the road that have it, well, how is that ‘not in your area’? It’s just frustrating. To me, internet service with two young kids is almost as essential as water and electricity."

Mr Lock, 66, was equally surprised. "It’s the luck of the draw, I suppose. I was surprised when I found out I had been connected before others."

Mr Lock has an 800-title DVD collection, but concedes his viewing habits will now change. "Obviously having a fast speed is the future. I know hard-copy movies are not," he says. "While I don’t use it in any professional way, fast speeds are important for social media, communication and for just getting information and archival stuff."

It’s a situation that could be played out in suburbs across the nation as the complex project is rolled out.

A spokesman for the NBN says that areas are divided into modules "and these are built out at different times". That is, buildings across the same road can be constructed as separate modules, as is the case in Coulson Street. "We have whole teams dedicated to working out the best sequence that will prove fastest, decrease the cost to taxpayers, maximise revenues and prioritise underserved areas where possible," the spokesman says.

"The calculation is, by necessity, incredibly complex. It takes into account existing infrastructure in a particular area, location of construction resources, distance from exchanges, cost to build, potential revenue, the list goes on." Further highlighting how the NBN Pandora’s box has been opened in Coulson Street, the NBN is going into two apartment complexes that already have high-speed broadband built by private operator OPENetworks.

OPENetworks chief executive Michael Sparksman says NBN is duplicating his network. "They don’t have to compete with us with real dollars, they are competing with taxpayer dollars," he says.

However, NBN says existing network owners are able to apply for "adequately served" status if they are worried about unnecessary duplications, but the Coulson Street blocks do not have that status.

"NBN’s decision to rollout to those apartment blocks is ultimately good for consumers in there being more wholesale competition," the spokesman says.


Australia set to legalize cultivation of medical cannabis

Australia is expected to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medical or scientific purposes with a bill introduced to parliament on Wednesday -- the first step towards doctors eventually prescribing it to patients with chronic pain.

The bill will see Australia create a national licensing and permit scheme to supply medical cannabis to patients with painful and chronic conditions on clinical trials.

Several Australian states have committed to starting trials for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and research purposes but current laws forbid the growing of the plant.

As a result Australian manufacturers, researchers and patients on clinical trials have been forced to access international supplies of legal medicinal marijuana. But costs, limited supply and export barriers make this challenging.

"Allowing controlled cultivation locally will provide the critical missing piece for a sustainable legal supply of safe medicinal cannabis products for Australian patients in the future," said Australia's Health Minister Sussan Ley.

Although the legislation would aid supply to researchers and patients on clinical trials, access to cannabis will not be allowed for other patients and the general public.

Australia is set to decide by the end of March as to whether to lower the criteria on how it allows the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Should Australia decide to treat cannabis similar to opium, patients dealing with chronic pain could be prescribed the drug.

MMJ PhytoTech Ltd became Australia's first listed medicinal marijuana company following an initial public offering last year that was three times oversubscribed.

"The market for medicinal cannabis in Australia is substantial. The number of patients that could be targeted could be people with epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, while there is the other spectrum of people with chronic pain," said Gaelan Bloomfield, manager at MMJ PhytoTech Ltd.


New And Used Cars Will Get A Lot Cheaper In Australia From 2018, Thanks To Parallel Imports

A big government shake-up for local car importation laws could have massive implications for the way Aussies buy their vehicles. From 2018 onwards, you’ll be able to parallel import brand new cars and avoid tariffs on imported used cars, potentially saving yourself thousands of dollars over local dealers.

Business Insider reports that changes to the Motor Vehicles Act in Australia will open up the domestic markets of dozens of countries around the world to private Australian buyers. From 2018, private buyers will be able to purchase and import cars from countries with comparable standards to Australia — the full list hasn’t yet been decided, but preliminarily both Japan and the United Kingdom have been approved.

The cars must be no more than 12 months old, and must have no more than 500km on the odometer. The price difference won’t be enough to justify importing cheaper cars, but just below Australia’s circa-$64,000 Luxury Car Tax threshold (and beyond) there will be some bargains — with countries like the UK and Japan both selling identical cars at a significant discount to Aussie dealers. The same "Australia tax" that we’re used to with technology applies even moreso with cars.

Used cars will also become far easier to import with the amendment of the Customs Tariff Act 1995, to remove a $12,000 special duty that applies to used imports. That tariff wasn’t applied consistently anyway, but its abolishment is a point of comfort for wary would-be importers. Cars that are imported will have a specific plate affixed and their details added to a new register, as well as the traditional blue-slip inspection and registration process.

There are some huge advantages to import at Australia’s luxury and niche car manufacturers’ current pricing. A Porsche 911 Carrera S will cost you $274,000 and change to buy in Australia, while an import including freight and government fees is a full $44,000 cheaper. Some, like Tesla’s Model S, have only a few thousand dollars’ disparity between local and imported prices. These prices may change to make importing less attractive, or we may see more imported new and used cars on Australian roads in the near future.


10 February, 2016

Western Australia’s north hits 47C to become one of the hottest places on Earth

Western Australia has always had records for high temperatures so this is not at all new.  Needless to say, however, Warmists are hopping on the bandwagon with claims that global warming is partly behind it.  And equally needless to say, they are talking through their anus.  There has been no global warming for over 18 years and things that don't exist don't cause anything.

Furthermore, the phenomenon is not only not global but it is also not Australia-wide.  Where I live in Queensland we have had an unusually mild summer.  Throughout December and January we had only a few very hot days and that is still so in February. 

I am quoting my own long experience of Brisbane summers in saying that.  I have no interest in seeing what the lying BOM say.  But I do have strong confirmation of what I say.  I have in my back yard eight Crepe Myrtle trees that in their time have always blossomed in January -- but it is now well into February and they are still not out.  Their inbuilt thermometers too say it is not yet a real summer

WESTERN Australia may well be the hottest place on earth right now, and we don’t mean when it comes to being on-trend.

An isolated air strip in the state’s north west suffered through temperatures surpassing 45C yesterday which could be more than anywhere else on the planet.

By 8am this morning temperatures had already nudged 30C at Garden Island, south of Perth, and highs of 42C are expected in the city this afternoon. Further north, Gascoyne Junction, in the state’s north could reach a whopping 47C.

There is little relief in sight with the Western Australian capital set to swelter through four consecutive 40C days for the first time in 83 years. If Perth passes 40C each day to Wednesday it will equal a record set in 1933.

While temperatures may dip slightly heading towards the weekend, meteorologists say it’s likely to be a temporary reprieve with the sticky weather hanging around into next week

Meanwhile, the hot weather has brought out the Western Australian sense of humour with a slew of social media posts about the heatwave including one showing someone frying an egg with the aid of the scorching temperatures.

Shark Bay Airport, situated south of Carnarvon in the Gascoyne region in the state’s north, hit 47C yesterday. According to some reports that was enough to make it the hottest place on earth.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster, Paul Vivars, said it wasn’t surprising Western Australia was pushing the mercury higher than anywhere else.

"We’re in summer in the southern hemisphere and while I’m not sure what the temperature is in central Argentina, it’s very possible WA is hotter," he said.

Nevertheless, Perth was easily the hottest city on earth on Monday, with a high of almost 43C in the city’s eastern suburbs, and no other region on the planet had such widespread scorching temperatures as WA.

Mr Vivers said a slow moving high pressure system parked near the coast was in no rush to move on.  "It’s been a steady pattern and conditions around Perth haven’t really changed much.," he said.

"It’s going to stay pretty warm until Friday. Saturday or Sunday night might see five or six degree drop on the coast but after Sunday another trough could bring more hot weather in the mid to high 30s."

The extreme heat has sparked fire and public health warnings for much of the state, with a total fire ban for most of the south of the state.

All fires in the open air, hot work such as metal work, grinding, welding, soldering or gas cutting without a permit and any other activity that may lead to a fire are prohibited.

Firefighters are already battling one large bushfire in the shire of Harvey, which has burnt out 400ha, with authorities battling extreme fire conditions as they fight to bring it under control.

Western Power is expecting near record power demand, with overnight temperatures set to drop no lower than 25C for the next two nights.

If you thought the scorching weather was just a fluke, think again, with a climate scientist today saying we should expect more of the same. Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, said there had been an increase in heatwaves in the past five years particularly in southern parts of Australia.

"Rare heatwaves that we might only have seen every 20 years we could now see every two years which may not have happened if climate change hadn’t occurred," Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said.


Australia's biggest Islamic School loses $20 MILLION in government funding after failing to show how they spent the money

Apparently, some of the money was going abroad and I think we can guess where

Australia's biggest Islamic School has been stripped of millions of dollars in government funding following allegations that its money was not being used just for education.

Malek Fahd Islamic School in Greenacre, south-west of Sydney, which has more than 2,400 students, could be forced to close its gates after the Federal Government said it would withdraw $20 million funding.

On Monday, the Department of Education issued a notice to the Islamic institution - revoking its Commonwealth funding - with the move placing hundreds of teaching jobs on the line.

The revocation comes after a review into six schools authorities affiliated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) after concerns were raised about their financial management and governance.

'I am committed to ensuring that all school authorities meet the requirements to ensure that our taxpayer dollars and any private investment by parents is being spent to benefit Australian students,' Mr Birmingham said in a statement to Daily Mail Australia.

'Unfortunately, the authority that operates Malek Fahd Islamic School was not able to demonstrate to my department that they had addressed the significant concerns about their financial management and governance arrangements raised during the formal compliance review of their operation.

'Last year, the department issued a formal compliance notice when it found that the school authority was not complying with fundamental governance, financial and accountability requirements of the Australian Education Act 2013.

'After carefully considering the response to the issues raised in the compliance notice, my department had to make the difficult decision to revoke the funding approval.

'My department will work with New South Wales school authorities to help ensure students and families that are impacted by this decision receive the appropriate support.'

A NSW Department of Education spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that they are continuing to work with the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. 'Due to ongoing litigation, it is inappropriate for the Department to provide further comment,' the spokesperson said.

NSW and ACT secretary of the Independent Education Union John Quessy told ABC News the school could face closure following the revocation.  'We'll need to seek a meeting with the school to find out will they still be operating,' Mr Quessy said.

'It's quite a dramatic move, recurrent funding is usually used to pay teacher and staff wages.  'Malek Fahd is quite a big school, we're talking about hundreds of jobs.'


ABC refugee coverage under attack by immigration department head

Australia’s most senior immigration official has savaged the ABC’s coverage of Australia’s refugee policies, saying "it’s getting to the point that there is advocacy parading as journalism".

Department of Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo also criticised "moral lecturing" by activists and politicians, warning that "fanfare and gestures" undermined efforts to quietly exercise discretion in the most desperate cases.

His comments came as two Coalition MPs publicly cricitised NSW Premier Mike Baird for lending qualified support to allow several hundred asylum-seekers bound for Nauru to stay in Australia.

Mr Pezzullo vented his frustration at a Senate hearing yesterday, prompting the ABC to last night retract its claim that a five-year-old boy was raped on Nauru — an assertion repeated as fact by journalists and activists following a landmark High Court decision last week affirming the legality of offshore processing.

The ABC’s 7.30 anchor Leigh Sales apologised on television last night for the reporting error.

"Last week, Dr Karen Zwi spoke to the ABC about two cases: one was an older child the doctor said had been raped, the other was a five-year-old she said had been sexually assaulted,’’ Sales said. "7.30 incorrectly reported that the five-year-old was the rape victim. We apologise for the error and Dr Zwi stands by her original allegations."

Mr Pezzullo’s officials said the older child was about 10 years old and had suffered a "skin-to-skin" sexual assault by a male detainee who was two years older. He was transferred to NSW where he was receiving "world-class" care at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, the committee heard.

Mr Pezzullo said there was "no evidence, whatsoever, anywhere" that a five-year-old had been raped on Nauru. "It’s getting to a point where there is advocacy parading as journalism that is actually deleterious to a sensible discussion about these matters," Mr Pezzullo said.

"We’ve gone beyond journalism when you’ve got certain segments of the media undertaking essentially pamphleteering of almost a political nature and then in that context the facts just get bent.

"The allegation that my department is somehow complicit in a ­regime where children are raped and they are returned to a brutal ­regime of detention, I reject that utterly."

Mr Pezzullo, a former senior adviser to Labor figures Kim Beazley and Gareth Evans, warned the intense public pressure to resettle more asylum-seekers limited "the margin for discretionary action" by his officers.

"The more this is talked about publicly, the tougher we have to be in terms of articulating just the resolute stance of the logic of Operation Sovereign Borders and it takes away any capacity to, subject to case by case determination, come in to practical arrangements in particular cases where that’s ­applicable," he said.

"The moment you have a chink of light, the moment you give someone a clue as to how to game the system, you will put people’s lives in danger.

"Avoidance of fanfare and gesture is crucial. Yielding to emotional gestures in this area of public administration reduces the margin for discretionary action."

Refugee activists insisted the government’s entire refugee policy be overhauled.

"Detention unequivocally harms children. Either the government is knowingly willing to abuse children to deal with a policy issue or it is not," said Shen Narayan­asamy, of activist group GetUp!

"They have sidestepped this issue for too long. Is child abuse a price they are willing to pay to ­hypothetically stop the boats?"

ABC News director Gaven Morris last night said the rape claim, aired by the 7.30 program last Tuesday, confused the comments of paediatrician Karen Zwi about two different patients.

"Our story incorrectly used quotes about the older child in referring to the younger child,’’ he said. "In addition, on at least one occasion the incident was referred to as a rape instead of an alleged rape. ABC News apologises for the errors and confusion."

An ABC spokesman said the error was only discovered after it was raised at the estimates hearing. There would be no further ­internal inquiries at this time.

Dr Zwi insisted she "provided information which was factually accurate".  "I do not wish to be drawn into the age of the child concerned for confidentiality reasons but all children have a right to expect safe and nurturing environments,’’ she said. "That is not currently happening for many children in immigration detention. A child is a child."  [Not always.  Many refugees understate their age]


Men have it tough in the social minefield, writes Jess Leo

MEN have it tough. In this day and age, I sure am glad I’m a woman. I can walk on stilettos while many men spend their days walking on eggshells.  When it comes to the social arena men are being watched, their every move scrutinised, judged and dissected.

Sure, in the professional domain they still dominate and in the management ranks of many industries, outnumber their female peers, but when it comes to the way men interact outside of the boardroom, it’s a minefield.

I’m not being dramatic; I’m being realistic. This year began with a theme of men under the microscope.

From Jamie Briggs’ inappropriate advance towards a junior staffer in a Hong Kong bar (which was a step too far) to cricketer Chris Gayle’s awkward come-on levelled at Fox Sports journalist Mel McLaughlin, men were being called out on bad behaviour. Then it was debated whether a Tour Down Under podium finisher should kiss the cheeks of the dolled up promotional girls presenting his spoils, or a TV presenter should have a hands-on joke with his female co-host and the issue really started snowballing.

Just last week, one of the nicest guys on telly, Bruce McAvaney, was at a private function interviewing Olympic beach volleyball hopefuls when one of the statuesque athletes made a lighthearted quip about having approved her team’s standard bikini uniform.

Poor Bruce countered with an equally harmless joke about being able to see said uniform and, a split second later caught himself, muttering ‘no, I didn’t say that’ with a nervous laugh, no doubt in fear that someone would take to social media — or any other platform — and pillory him.

See that’s the thing, in this modern era, anyone can jump on and be a keyboard warrior — calling out behaviour they deem "inappropriate" and often, passing unsolicited — and unwarranted — judgment.

This isn’t limited to high-profile males either. In your workplace, social circle or even family there are men second guessing that seemingly innocuous string of words that just fell out their mouth.

It’s bad enough men aren’t sure whether they should be holding the door, picking up the dinner tab or offering their seat — lest women snap at the inference that they need the help. Just look at Channel 7’s latest reality TV debut, First Dates, where hapless males try to unravel the female psyche — and awkwardness ensues.

At this time — less than a week from that Hallmark perpetuated day of love, Valentine’s Day, it bears considering there must be some men out there positively at a loss as to what they’re meant to do when it comes to matters of the heart.

It’s been 23 years since relationships tome Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus became an international bestseller and it must feel like the two sexes are in completely different universes, let alone planets.

Even men in same sex relationships are subjected to more overt social stigma than their female counterparts.

Sure, there are important female-dominated issues that need to be remedied — the pay gap, domestic violence, representation in the workplace to name a few — but at least these are all on the agenda and being spoken about.

And while they are, we women are given much more slack.

Not long before Christmas I was in a suburban shopping centre where I was approached to buy a calendar featuring musclebound firemen in various states of undress.

I did so in the name of charity and then proceeded to marvel at the fact that should the tables be turned, that poor supermarket vendor would likely have got chased out of the shopping precinct. And all over our screens presently, comedienne Julia Morris is pawing all over a scantily clad Dr Chris Brown, as the hamming it up hosts of I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! — and she’s not being slapped with a $10,000 fine.

So when a man next calls me sweetheart or his gaze wanders south of my neck, I’ll opt to take a deep breath and remember it’s a two-way street.


9 February, 2016

Anti-Vaccination Cranks Versus Academic Freedom

Lawyer Michael Brull below sets out very ably why the University of Wollongong should not have awarded a Ph.D. to an anti-vaxxer nut.  But he also argues that stripping a PhD in response to bad science is not the solution. 

Brull is one of those unhappy souls, an anti-Israel Jew.  He doesn't like Australia or Christians much either, but he loves Muslims. Rather a waste of a good brain it seems to me.  I have written before about his tergiversations.  So his  judgement is severely flawed.  And judgement is what is involved here.  As he shows below, the science is not in dispute.

And his judgement is that a dangerous bit of bad science should be tolerated in the name of free speech.  As the proprietor of two free-speech blogs, I might be expected to agree, but just about everyone agrees that infinite tolerance is not possible.  Toleration must have its limits. 

We do not tolerate people who go around raping and murdering, for instance.  And there is a similar issue here.  The anti-vaxxers do kill. By persuading others of their cause they destroy herd immunity -- and it is only herd immunity that protects newborns from such dangerous diseases as whooping cough.  Newborns cannot be vaccinated until their immune system is strong enough.  And, for me, protecting children is a huge priority.  It is a normal human instinct, in fact -- though one that can be submerged by both Islam and Leftism.  So giving any credence to an anti-vaxxer is a fatal mistake. I would therefore support the many who argue that the University of Wollongong must rescue its scholarly reputation by withdrawing a foolishly granted Ph.D.

One might in passing note that Brull's defence of an anti-vaxxer is consistent with his Leftism.  Anti-vaxxers destroy and that is the basic Leftist aim too.  They hate "the system"

A little while ago, Judy Wilyman’s doctoral thesis was accepted by the University of Wollongong. Now with PhD, she will title herself a doctor, in recognition of her academic achievement. For some at least, this will increase the respectability of her advocacy, now that she has fancy new credentials for the arguments she set out in her dissertation.

This has alarmed many. This is because Wilyman is sceptical of the value of vaccinations.

Take for example, Helen Petousis-Harris. Her web page identifies her background as "predominantly biological sciences, and she did her PhD in Vaccinology, specifically around vaccine reactions. She has worked at the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland since 1998 where she has developed a passion for all things vaccine. Currently Helen has an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and her teaching is largely around vaccination."

She analysed the abstract of Wilyman’s dissertation. Her conclusion: "It is [a]litany of deceitful reveries. How it could possibly pass as a piece of Doctoral level work is inexplicable and it has made no contribution to knowledge. Shame on you University of Wollongong."

Other scientific reviews were no more flattering. And a wave of academics at the University of Wollongong reacted too. As reported at the Australian Medical Association, "Sixty-five senior medical and health researchers including Professor of Public Health Dr Heather Yeatman, Dean of Medicine Professor Ian Wilson, and Professor Alison Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, have jointly signed a public statement backing the evidence supporting vaccination and its importance in preventing disease."

Meanwhile, "Professor Peter McIntyre, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance and an advisor to the WHO, told The Australian that he had offered to advise Wilyman but withdrew his offer as she was "not willing to entertain" evidence which contradicted her beliefs."

As far as I can tell, there are zero relevant experts who think Wilyman’s PhD has even the vaguest connection to what the relevant science actually shows. The dissertation is an embarrassment to the University of Wollongong, and the academic standards it supposedly upholds.

The dissertation, however, raises two interesting questions. The first is how it came to pass that this dissertation was able to gain acceptance. The second question is what is the appropriate response is to the dissertation.

As to how it was accepted, SBS explains that according to the requirements of UOW PhDs, "The requirements include that there be at least two external examiners who are from different countries and they do not have a relationship with the students’ supervisors and not affiliated with the university in question." So it seems the blame can be shared around. If this protocol was followed, there were two external examiners who were adequately impressed by Wilyman’s purported scholarship. It is not on the public record who those two people are.

However, Wilyman’s supervisor is. His name is Brian Martin, and he is a professor of social sciences. He has a PhD in theoretical physics. He posted an essay in which he came to Wilyman’s defence against her many critics. Martin presents Wilyman’s dissertation as addressing question of policy, not purely questions of science:

"[Stop the Australian Anti-Vaccination Network] and some others apparently believe the only people qualified to comment about vaccination policy are "experts" who have degrees and refereed publications in scientific journals, for example in immunology or epidemiology. A moment’s reflection should reveal the flaw in this claim: being an expert in immunology or epidemiology — usually a narrow aspect of such a field — gives no special insight into vaccination policy, which involves many different areas of knowledge, and includes matters of ethics and politics. If anyone can lay claim to having special knowledge about policy, it is those who have researched policy itself, including critics of the Australian government’s policy such as Judy."

So what issues of policy does the dissertation address? This is Martin’s summary:

"It makes four main critical points in relation to Australian government vaccination policy. First, deaths from infectious diseases had dramatically declined in Australia before the mass introduction of most vaccines, suggesting that vaccination is not the only factor in controlling these diseases. Second, Australian vaccination policies were adopted from a one-size-fits-all set of international recommendations, without consideration of the special ecological conditions in Australia, for example the levels of sanitation and nutrition, and the incidence and severity of diseases. Third, nearly all research on vaccination is carried out or sponsored by pharmaceutical companies with a vested interest in selling vaccines; the conflicts of interest involved in vaccine research can lead to bias in the research design and conclusions drawn. Fourth, there are important areas of research relevant to vaccination policy that have not been pursued, but should have been; a plausible reason for this "undone science" is that the findings might turn out to be unwelcome to vaccination promoters."

In fact, these questions are issues of both politics and science. The first is an empirical question, subject to scientific research. So is the second, though if its premises were established, then a policy question would arise. The third is indeed a policy question requiring no special expertise to investigate. The fourth is mixed.

Perhaps some areas of research aren’t being pursued – Wilyman would not be the first to observe that scientific research is biased towards wealthy or powerful interests. That this "undone science" would be unwelcome to vaccination promoters is again an empirical question.

Given that the focus of the dissertation, according to its lone defender, seems to mostly be scientific questions, one might think that the appropriate field to conduct this study in is one of the hard sciences where her findings could be subjected to rigorous and informed peer review.

Instead, Wilyman’s dissertation was conducted through UOW’s social sciences.

This seems like the most effective way to avoid serious scientific scrutiny of her claims. Her external examiners may have rapidly found themselves out of their depth in dealing with questions of vaccination science.

So how does Wilyman present herself? Her website is called "Vaccination Decisions". She presents herself as a dispassionate scientist, who has studied the issue since 1993. Her critics, however, are not scientific, and are "consumer lobby groups":

"During the last decade I have attempted to debate my academic research but the media will not report the other side of the vaccination debate with credibility. Whilst attempting to debate my research in public forums since 2010 I have been attacked by consumer lobby groups, in particular the Australian Skeptics and the ‘Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN)’. These consumer groups are not scientific organisations and many subscribers of this group have used false and misleading statements to disparage my reputation and reduce my credibility in public debates."

Thus, it sounds like her motives are pure, unlike her critics, who it seems are simply mercenary thugs. Wilyman doesn’t even explain that she is anti-vaccination, whilst her critics are in favour of them.

What are her qualifications?

"I have a Bachelor of Science degree and I have practised as a science teacher for 20 years. In 2004 I began researching this public health issue at the University of Wollongong (UOW). I completed a Master of Science degree (Population Health) in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences in 2007. This included a research project analysing the Australian Government’s Policy on Whooping Cough. In 2007 I continued my research with a PhD.

In 2008 – 2010 I transferred to the Environmental Science Department at Murdoch University to research and lecture in environmental health issues. I transferred back to Wollongong University in 2011 to complete my PhD investigating the Australian government’s reasons for its current National Immunisation Program (NIP). My PhD includes an examination of the science in the government’s vaccination policy and a critique of the influences in the decision to use an increasing number of vaccines in children."

So, she sounds pretty scientific. And her PhD purportedly examines the science. Whilst Wilyman complains her critics aren’t scientific, she forgets to mention at that point that neither was the field in which her PhD was examined (it is later listed as "School of Humanities and Social Sciences"). We will return to the question of her Masters Degree.

Soon she gets to her position:

"In the 1990’s I became aware of the significant increase in chronic illness that was occurring in children. By 2004, 41 per cent of children (0 -14 years of age) had a chronic illness 1. The diseases that have been increasing since the late 80’s include allergies, anaphylaxis, ADHD, autism, coeliac disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases (e.g. arthritis and diabetes). The medical journals and animal studies link the ingredients of vaccines as a cause of these diseases. Although the increase in these diseases correlates to the increasing use of vaccines, the government has not funded research that would prove or disprove this plausible link. The Australian government claims it is a coincidence that these diseases have increased with the increasing use of vaccines but does not provide scientific-evidence to support this statement."

That’s a pretty impressive list of diseases that vaccinations supposedly cause. Traditionally, when a scientist makes a breakthrough, and has a contribution to make in the sciences, they present their findings to a journal, so that it can be peer reviewed. Wilyman does not appear to have chosen to do this for some reason.

Anyway, Wilyman has dismissed her critics as "funded by industry interests" (I wonder how she’ll respond to this article). Critics at Mamamia don’t have relevant qualifications either (is her PhD a relevant qualification?).

Then I got to the part of her website that was most interesting.

"The Australian government appoints Ministers of Health who do not have qualifications in health and it has a duty of care to ensure that all science on the cause of autism is included in vaccination policy-decisions. Ministers should not be making pledges for public health policy on lobby group websites. There are many scientific articles that indicate vaccines are a valid cause of autism, for example, these articles 1 , 2, 3, 4 and 5, yet the government has not addressed these articles in the discussion of vaccination policy on the Immunise Australia Program (IAP) website."

I have included her links in the quote above. What are these "scientific articles" proving "vaccines are a valid cause of autism"? Note: none are scientific articles; that is, essays by scientists published in scientific journals. They are all websites – like this one, which is just a commentary on a hearing in the US.

One is an essay, in PDF format. It is titled "An Essay on the Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism and the link to Vaccines", and is by Mark Allan Sircus. I googled him, and naturally, he has a website.

When I saw that he treats cancer with marijuana, I naturally was interested in this pleasant sounding treatment. Sircus "practices and preaches Natural Oncology, an integrative medicine that… utilizes natural substances like magnesium, iodine, sodium bicarbonate and medical marijuana together with far-infrared heat treatments and oxygen therapies."

So then I googled Natural Oncology. The first result was The Natural Oncology Institute, Vincent Gammill. Gammill is Wilyman’s favourite scientist. So who is Gammill? A 69-year-old man who told police he had "no formal education beyond high school, but then ‘remembered’ he had obtained a doctor of science degree sometime in the 1990s."

Gammill then founded the Natural Oncology Institute. He was arrested by police after a 50-year-old woman complained that he treated her breast cancer with expired meds and a bag of dirt, for the princely sum of $2000.

Police proceeded to charge him with "practicing medicine without a license, dependent adult abuse and furnishing dangerous drugs without a license."

His "patient" reported him after trying a concoction he showed her how to make, which caused a "burning sensation in her stomach", according to police.

Anyway, though Sircus apparently practices the same type of Natural Oncology as its quack founder, I haven’t found any evidence that he’s been arrested for treating cancer with dirt. I suppose it isn’t entirely surprising that his paper wasn’t published in a peer reviewed journal.

Wilyman, for her part, lists her various publications at The Conversation. These include Medical Veritas: The Journal of Truth in Health Science.

When a journal has the word "truth" in it, you just know a conspiratorial mindset is lurking. Sure enough, it appears to be home to more anti-vaccine quacks.

Let us return to Wilyman’s Master of Science Degree from the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences in 2007.

As Wilyman noted, this included her analysis of vaccination policy. In 2014 two medical experts lodged a complaint about her thesis, though it appears nothing has come of this. You can get a sense of its high-minded presentation of quackery from this paragraph:

"The ecological evidence is showing a significant increase in chronic illness in children. This includes the increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus, leukaemia, food allergies, asthma, epilepsy, behavioural and intellectual disabilities and autism (AIHW, 2004). Refer Appendix 6. Whilst this increase in disease has occurred in children at the same time as vaccination use has increased it is not evidence for a causal link. However, the biological plausibility of vaccines as a cause of these diseases is demonstrated in animal studies, the clinical evidence from adverse reactions to vaccines and the volume of reports from parents claiming their child’s development changed after vaccination (Kirby D, 2005)."

So what next?

Regardless of what one thinks of Wilyman’s dissertation, any ex post facto policy designed to strip her of her PhD or Masters degree will be wrong as a matter of principle, and as a matter of policy.

Certainly, there are some who think that Wollongong can’t just stand by and let Wilyman have her PhD. The Australian editorialised that "this is a battle between life and death, and Wollongong has put itself on the wrong side".

It is hard not to point out that one might equally suggest that the issue of climate change is a "battle between life and death" – yet the Australian has shown considerably less interest in campaigning on proper recognition of this issue.

Yet it was not just the Oz. A petition was launched against Wilyman’s PhD, acquiring 2,100 signatures. The petition announced that "Action is urgently required to address gross academic misconduct". It called on the government to take "immediate disciplinary action" against the University of Wollongong, complaining that "federal funding of such dangerous myth-making is unconscionable."

This kind of attitude pervades some of the critics of Wilyman’s work. For example, blogger Chrys Stevenson wrote, "Free speech is all very well. But, when propaganda and misinformation from uneducated rabble-rousers endangers the lives of children and vulnerable people, I think we can rightly argue free speech must have limits."

Or to turn to the petition, which warns that the University’s acceptance of Wilyman’s work "demonstrates an anti-scientific culture at the University of Wollongong that is inimical to scholarship".

For those who have studied in the humanities, there are indeed academics who partake in an "anti-scientific culture". For example, there are postmodernists, social constructionists and so on who believe that science is all a social construct, an oppressive domain of white men which isn’t to be taken too seriously.

However distasteful one finds these views, the opinion that the humanities should reflect a particular viewpoint in an argument is an opinion that the humanities should not include intellectual diversity.

The point of intellectual inquiry is that it should be free. If there are sins in the academic work of Wilyman, they may be found in dishonest footnotes, or improper external examiners. The fact that her opinions are unorthodox or distasteful to many is not, in itself, grounds for her degree to be taken from her.

Those who think that the government should step in to settle this dispute between Wilyman and her critics are the ones who subscribe to a fundamentally "anti-scientific culture" which is "inimical to scholarship".

The sciences are not built around policing of consensus and expulsion of dissenters. They are built around uncertainty, and progress is made by dissenters successfully persuading their peers that a new paradigm can better explain the way the world works.

If Wilyman’s work is left to the scientific community, I have little doubt they will filter her out, just as they do other anti-vax and unscientific cranks.

As it stands, it is clear to any lay person with the ability to Google that the overwhelming preponderance of scientific experts disagree with Wilyman, and in fact regard her scientific expertise as nil.

Attempts to discipline the university, or strip her of her PhD will only legitimise her opinions.

Rather than being a marginal quack with strange views, she will become a persecuted martyr, bravely defending her beliefs in the face of intimidation. The argument will shift from the evidence and the experts to whether someone in the humanities should be able to argue for a view that other people don’t like.

"What are they afraid of," the anti-vaxxers will cry. "We just want an open debate".

It is natural to want to combat the pernicious nonsense of people like Wilyman with the quickest, most powerful tool available. Yet this kind of attack on academic freedom would have very dangerous implications.

And ultimately, it is the wrong tool to counter the claims of anti-vaxxers. Ultimately, what is needed is persuasion, not coercion.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Warmists hoist with their own petard

Judith Curry comments on the cutbacks to climate science at the CSIRO

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, CSIRO was the word leader on atmospheric boundary layer research.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, CSIRO was a leader in atmospheric physics research, producing such scientists as Graeme Stephens and Peter Webster (who both  left Australia for the U.S. in the 1980’s).  Since the 1990’s, CSIRO has done important climate monitoring, and has also done climate modeling research, participating fully in the various CMIP and IPCC exercises.  One has to wonder whether the health of climate science in Australia would be better if they hadn’t bothered with global climate modeling and playing the IPCC games, but rather focused on local climate issues and the climate dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere.

Now that the UN’s community of nations has accepted a specific result from consensus IPCC climate science to drive international energy and carbon policy, what is the point of continued heavy government funding of climate research, particularly global climate modeling?  I have argued previously [e.g. link] that we have reached the point of diminishing returns from the current path of climate modeling.  That said, we still don’t understand how the climate system works on decadal to centennial time scales, and have very little predictive capability on these time scales, particularly on regional scales.

To make progress, we need to resolve many scientific issues, here is the list from my APS Workshop presentation:

Solar impacts on climate (including indirect effects)
Multi-decadal natural internal variability
Mechanisms of vertical heat transfer in the ocean
Fast thermodynamic feedbacks (water vapor, clouds, lapse rate)
See also my previous post The heart of the climate dynamics debate.  It is critical that we maintain and enhance our observing systems, particularly satellites.  And we need much better data archaeology to clarify what was going on in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and also some more serious paleoclimatic reconstructions (that avoid Mannian tree ring ‘science’.)

Looking forward to a new U.S. President next year, whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in power, I don’t expect a continuation of the status quo on climate science funding.  The Democrats are moving away from science towards policy – who needs to spend all that funding on basic climate science research?  Global climate modeling might be ‘saved’ if they think these climate models can support local impact assessments (in spite of widespread acknowledgement that they cannot).  If the Republicans are elected, Ted Cruz has stated he will stop all funding support for the IPCC and UNFCCC initiatives.  That said, he seems to like data and basic scientific research.

In any event, I don’t think the current status quo regarding scientific research will continue.  We will undoubtedly see many climate scientists redirecting their research, or leaving research positions for the private sector.  Ironically, circa 1990, the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program [link] was seeded by retreading nuclear scientists and engineers from the DOE labs to radiation and climate science.

JC message to climate scientists advocating for more funding at the same time they are claiming ‘settled science’ [e.g. Marcia McNutt]:  you have been hoisted on your own petard.  You are slaying climate science in the interests of promoting a false and meaningless consensus.


Airline fears photography

The bitch should have been helping at the counter instead of harassing the photographer

A man claims that Virgin Australia staff called the police after he took a photo of a line of people waiting for assistance at Melbourne Airport.

Richard Lipp, a photographer, said that he was on board a plane heading to Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, when his flight was turned back to Melbourne due to bad weather.

'We just had a really nice joy flight... to nowhere,' he said in a video blog.

When the plane arrived back at Melbourne Airport, the photographer said that around 200 passengers had to queue for assistance to get accommodation and new flights.

'Just landed back in Melbourne... thank you Virgin, and they've decided that [for] 200 people, they could only open one counter to help us all.'

 'When I took a photo to document this fact for Virgin head office, I was confronted, bullied and then had the Federal Police called because I wouldn't delete a photo of the general area with people's backs turned to me,' Mr Lipp said.

The photographer said that he was confronted by a Virgin ground crew member soon after taking the photo..

'Did you ask permission from all these people?' the worker asked him in the footage.

'I took a photo of this general area, I was not targeting anyone,' Mr Lipp said.

'Well that doesn't count... I can take this further...keep doing that we'll see what happens,' she responded.  She then says 'we've got the federal police coming down here.'

The photographer then says: 'That's fine, I haven't done anything wrong.'  'You didn't ask for permission,' she said.

He then sarcastically asks the crowd, 'Does anyone mind if I photograph the back of their heads?'

A man jokingly responds with, 'You got my left or my right?'

The photographer then inserted more footage of ground crew asking him to delete the photo into his video.

The footage ends with Mr Lipp and his friend, Claudia, re-booking a flight for 6 o'clock the next morning.


Learning to read requires direct instruction and parental involvement

Jennifer Buckingham

Reading seems so straightforward. Skilled reading is unconscious and automatic ­-- most people are not aware of the complex cognitive processes taking place. Few adults remember how they learned to read, so when it comes to working out how to help their children they will often look to the experts. Unfortunately, advice to parents is often confusing and contradictory.

It is not simply a case of 'read to children and they will learn to read'. This is the trap of whole language teaching methods. For children to make the connection between the strange black shapes on the page and the words they hear and say, they have to be explicitly taught.

But even before this happens, children need to develop a large store of words that they can understand and use -- a large 'receptive' or oral vocabulary. Recent studies found that around 20% of Australian children starting school have poor language skills. They do not speak clearly, and they know and use a limited number of words.

The best way to develop these skills in children is through adult-child spoken interaction and through shared reading. Both of these are important. Spoken interaction provides children with models and guidance of how to pronounce words properly and gives them immediate information about the world around them. Clear speech also develops phonological awareness -- the ability to identify the distinct sounds in spoken words -- which is strongly related to the ability to decode words using phonics.

Shared reading -- defined as reading with rather than reading to children -- is essential; firstly because it introduces the concepts of the written alphabet and printed text, and secondly because books expose children to a wider range of words and language structures generally used in speech. Vocabulary can be conceived broadly as general knowledge. To know what the word 'planet' means, is to know what a planet is. Vocabulary and general knowledge are fundamental to reading comprehension, which is the end-game for learning to read.

Parents should not be expected to teach their children to read. But it will help to break the cycle of low literacy if children arrive at school well prepared to learn to read. If, ideally, they then have evidence-based reading instruction in the first few years of school, Australia will be well on the way to fixing its persistent literacy problems.


AGL pulls out of coal seam gas across Australia, now uneconomic

AGL is pulling out of coal seam gas in Australia, ceasing its exploration and winding down or selling its operational gas fields.

Plummeting oil and gas prices were cited by AGL as one of the main reasons for the decision in its announcement to the ASX on Thursday morning, as well as lower than expected production volumes from one of its fields in NSW.

AGL said a review had concluded that "production of natural gas assets will no longer be a core business for the company".

The decision by American chief executive Andrew Vesey follows his pledge last year to shut all its coal-fired power stations by 2050.

"Exiting our gas assets in NSW has been a difficult decision," Vesey said. "AGL has invested significantly in these projects and communities over the past seven years.

"We are talking about potential investment of a billion dollars, so we had to make sure there were returns for shareholders. That has increasingly become uncertain in recent weeks," Vesey told analysts.

Crude oil prices have slid about 70% in the past 18 months, and last month slipped to a 13-year low below $US27 a barrel, with gas prices following in its wake.

Farmers and residents who have been fighting coal seam gas have told Guardian Australia they are "ecstatic" with the decision. Lock the Gate Alliance – a collection of farmers, conservationists and residents who are concerned about unsafe gas mining – say it’s a well-earned victory for the thousands of people who have protested against CSG around the country.

In Gloucester near the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, AGL had planned a 300-well development the company said could supply 15% of NSW’s gas needs, which would no longer go ahead.

"We are thrilled. It’s a fantastic decision," said Steve Phillips, Lock the Gate coordinator in the Hunter. He says the protests would have had an impact on the decision. "I think the fact they had no social license to go ahead would have been a factor for them."

Activists’ eyes moved quickly to Santos, which remained the only company trying to develop coal seam gas in NSW.  "This leaves Santos as the last one standing, trying to get CSG off the ground" Phillips said.

Shares in AGL rose 1% to $18.77 following the announcement.


8 February, 2016

Reclaim Australia Rally drowns out counter protesters

Reclaim Australia protesters held their largest rally yet on Saturday in Canberra kicking of a wave of Anti-Islam demonstrations in cities across the world.

Canberra organiser Daniel Evans labelled it "preservation of Australia Day" and at the podium congratulated 250 "fellow patriots" for making the journey to the capital.

Saturday's protest was the first in a series of global rallies against the Islamisation of the West co-ordinated by German anti-immigration movement the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA)

As the crowd marched up Federation Mall and flooded onto a Parliament House Lawn, split in two by barricades, a dubbed version of John Lennon's track Imagine came over the PA featuring the lyrics "Imagine there's no Islam".

Crowds cheered as Mr Evans shouted "we outnumber them and our voice is louder".  And on the day he was right.

Under the watchful eye of close to 50 AFP special response, canine and general duties officers there were less than 40 counter protesters facing the swollen crowd of Australian flag-clad Anti-Islamists.

The number of "Don't stop the boats, stop the racists" t-shirts paled in comparison to dozens of placards reading "Islam denies freedom" and "Anti-racist is a code word or Anti-White."

In his speech South Australian lawyer John Bolton warned of the risks of "Islamic barbarity" and fervently encouraged protesters to openly "insult and vilify Islam five times a day if you want to". 

He called for a ban on "Islamic face-masks" and stated mosques were a threat to Australian national security.

"I want more terrorism powers to our squads to do random searches of mosques," he said. "I want an Islamic Schools watchdog. There must be random searches of Islamic Schools to make sure they're not teaching Sharia."

Born and bred ACT resident and father of three Mr Evans said the position of Reclaim Australia was broadly misunderstood by the greater community.

"We are a multi-ethnic country but we have one culture, Australian culture," he said.

"I'm not against Muslims. I'm against the ideology of Islam. We have extremists here preaching hate. These are the ones we need to get rid of."

Arabella McKenzie, dressed as a Suffragette complete with parasol, said she felt compelled to "roll out of her grave" and protest with Reclaim to stand up for women's rights.

"Women's right to vote was nothing compared with what women are facing today in Sharia run countries," she said.

"A lot of people say "what culture in Australia are we defending?" but there is a culture here where woman can be free, have rights and are considered equal human beings. That's a good culture to preserve."

An ACT Police spokesman said there were no arrests or issues with the protest.

This is a stark change from last year's rally where police arrested four at the scene, using capsicum spray to defuse ugly clashes that broke out.


PM says border security is paramount despite calls to let asylum seekers stay

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists the government will maintain its tough stance on border control despite mounting pressure to stop 267 asylum seekers, including Australian-born children, being shipped back to Nauru.

Last night NSW Premier Mike Baird supported Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews’s call to take in asylum seeker children rather than return them to Nauru after a High Court ruling last week paved the way for them to be sent back. This includes a five-year-old boy who was allegedly raped on the island.

But when asked whether the government would consider looking at individual cases, Mr Turnbull remained resolute on ABC’s Insiders this morning, warning any softening of Australia’s border security policies would open the floodgates for illegal people smugglers.

He pointed to the waves of illegal arrivals that followed former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s decision to close offshore processing on Nauru in 2008.

"I will choose my words carefully because everything I say — everything I say — is being looked at in the finest, most detailed way possible by the people smugglers who will look at any opportunity to get back in the business (when) we got them out of business," Mr Turnbull said.

"People who seek to come to Australia with people smugglers will not succeed. They will not settle in Australia.

"We are providing every incentive to the people on Nauru to go back to their country of origin. We are providing them with considerable incentives and assistance to do that. We are providing them with incentives to settle in other countries.

"But if we don’t take a firm line, we know what the consequences will be. This is not theoretical."

When pressed by Insiders host Barrie Cassidy about the Australian-born children faced with deportation, Mr Turnbull acknowledged they were "very delicate issues" but the security of the border was paramount.

"We are dealing with these issues, these very delicate, these anguished issues, with compassion and we’re dealing with them on a case-by-case basis," Mr Turnbull.

"But what I’m not going to do is give one skerrick of encouragement to those criminals, those people smugglers, who are preying on vulnerable people and seeking to take their money, put them on the high seas in boats … where they will drown.

"There are no policy options available in terms of border protection that are not tough, which cannot be described as harsh, but the one thing we know without any question is that the approach that we took in the Howard era worked, when it was unpicked it was a colossal failure in humanitarian terms, and what we are doing now is working through the caseload we inherited from Labor — there were 2000 children in detention when Rudd lost office, now there’s less than 100 — we’re working through that.

"But the critical thing is to maintain the security of the border."

Rallies have been held in capital cities around the country calling on the government to allow the asylum seekers to stay after they were brought to Australia for medical treatment.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has called on the state government this morning to join an offer by Victoria to settle Australian-born refugee children and their families.

Victoria’s Labor Premier Daniel Andrews wrote to Mr Turnbull on Saturday asking him not to send refugee children to a "life of physical and emotional trauma" in offshore detention.

Mr Andrews’ promise that Victoria would provide housing, health, education and welfare services has drawn support from advocacy groups.  "I want these children and their families to call Victoria home," he wrote.

"Given we stand ready to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for these children and their families, there is no justification for their removal."

Mr Foley said that as Australia’s most populous state, NSW should make a similar offer. He said it was important to remember 37 infants among the group were born in Australia.  "They are being ejected from the country of their birth — the only country they have ever known," he said.

"Together we should all strive to do better as a nation and we can take an important step forward today."

Mr Baird praised Mr Andrews as a "good man" and recognised the humanitarian impulse behind his letter. "The same impulse has driven us to work cooperatively with the Commonwealth to resettle an additional intake of refugees in NSW following the recent turmoil in Syria, which is where our focus remains," he said.

"If the PM has any additional requests for NSW we are prepared to help."

The Refugee Action Collective has criticised federal Labor for not taking a similar stance.

"Bill Shorten should take note and abandon support for offshore processing and associated cruelty to refugees," spokesman Chris Breen said.


Some British expat workers going home as Australia's mining boom runs down

As the country's economy adjusts to a new reality following the collapse in commodities, many British expats are considering a move back home

When geologist Chris Nellist was offered a job in Sydney after completing his masters at Leicester, he seized it with both hands. His timing could have been better, however: shortly after arriving in Australia, the financial crash of 2008 hit, and he was made redundant. So Nellist found himself working for a miner in Western Australia, the vast, dusty red expanse that holds much of the country’s mineral wealth. Now events have come full circle, and Nellist is out of work again – only this time, there’s nowhere left for him to go.

"The mining industry is probably in its worst downturn in a century," Nellist says. "It’s undergoing contraction on a huge scale and it’s not even close to ending."

Mining has been the driving force of Australia’s economic growth for longer than anyone cares to remember – helping GDP growth average 3.6pc a year for most of this century – but the global collapse in commodity prices has led to a painful readjustment.

Australians have heard the warnings before – but this time, it seems, the boom is truly over. The country is repointing its economy for a new reality, and renegotiating its trading partnership with China and the wider Asia-Pacific. Australia’s mining titans – the likes of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, whose shares have led the FTSE 100 lower in the recent market turmoil – have a huge fight on their hands. Meanwhile the migrants who answered their call for workers are considering their options. Will the mining downturn see Britons packing their bags for home?

"There is no doubt that current operating conditions in the mining sector are tough and companies are taking steps to ensure their long-term survival," says Dr Gavin Lind, of the Minerals Council of Australia. Slowing demand in China – the world’s largest consumer of raw materials, and the buyer of 54pc of Australia’s resources exports in 2015 – has led to dizzying price falls in coal, iron ore, zinc, nickel, copper and bauxite, all minerals mined Down Under.

Instead of cutting production and shoring up the price of their product, miners are taking a counter-intuitive tack, and boosting their output. Closing down mines is an expensive business and companies would rather cling on to their market share than cede ground to their rivals. Yet "the increase in volumes is unlikely to be sufficient to offset the effect of lower commodity prices", Mark Cully, chief economist at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, warned in December. He calculates that Australia’s earnings from mining and energy exports will fall by 4pc to A$166bn (£81bn) this year as lower prices bite.

Giant miners such as Rio and BHP believe their low-cost models will enable them to survive while higher-cost competitors go to the wall. However, in common with their peers in the FTSE 100, they have been punished by investors, with their shares tumbling 44pc and 52pc respectively in the last year. While Rio’s balance sheet is regarded as the stronger of the two, both are under pressure to cut their dividends. Analysts expect Rio to unveil a 37pc slump in operating profits when it reports its full-year results this week. BHP, which announces its half-year results on February 23, is facing a 56pc tumble in profits for the year.

Meanwhile the wider Australian mining industry is stripping out costs and "cutting staff to the bone", as Nellist puts it. One simple way for miners to save money is to stop exploration work. As a geologist, Nellist was charged with finding new mineral deposits to build up his employer’s resources. He lost his job when his company cancelled this work – a move that is storing up trouble for the future, he argues. "There are many mines in operation that have less than a 10-year mine life. Yet very few are exploring for their next resource." Spending on exploration fell 32pc in the year to September, hitting its lowest level in more than five years.

While output is growing, the mining industry is shedding employees. At its peak in 2012, the Australian mining sector employed 275,000 people. Since then, it has lost close to 75,000 jobs. Mining may only account for around 2pc of the country’s workforce, but it punches above its weight – not just in terms of its contribution to economic growth, but in what goes into employees’ pockets. Including bonuses, overseas workers in the mines can expect to earn an average of AU$218,600 (£108,000) a year.

In 2011, around 11,000 people of British origin worked in the mines – this included those with leave to remain in the country, and holders of Australia citizenship. A minority were on sponsored visas, imported by the industry to fill particular roles.

"At the peak of Australia’s mining boom we were actively recruiting candidates from all over the world for employers in search of specific skills," says Chris Kent, regional director of recruitment firm Hays Resources & Mining. "This is no longer the case." From July to September 2012, there were 1,858 British workers on sponsored visas in the mining sector; in the most recent quarter for which data are available, that had tumbled to 1,002. Sponsored visas across the industry fell by 42pc last September – the steepest drop of any sector.

Miners don’t need to import as many staff from abroad because there are enough qualified locals available, Kent explains. "As a result, employers are able to demand previous local mining experience," he says. Moreover, most contracts in the mining sector are short-term and for specific projects. "While mining does continue to deliver jobs and economic benefits, it does so at a declining rate than seen at the height of its boom," says Kent.

Far more Britons on sponsored visas now work in financial services, healthcare, IT and retail, reflecting the fact that the Australian economy is now service driven. Such a shift comes at a cost, however, as service jobs have lower productivity growth than mining jobs. "Australia is losing ground to comparable countries such as the United States and further reforms are needed to boost its productivity levels," warned Culley last year.

In the face of a tougher jobs market and rising house prices, some expats are naturally considering whether to move back home. The number returning from Australia to the UK hit 18,000 in 2013, the highest level since 2001. Not all are returning because of the end of the mining boom. "It was always really hard to find work in the mines anyway and only a few did – those that happened to be in that type of geologist occupation," as one expat points out. Still others cite homesickness and even bad Australian TV for wanting to come home. Yet the signs are that life in the sun is no longer the one-way ticket it once was.

"We’ve seen a 40pc increase year-on-year in inquiries for people wanting to leave Australia and return home. UK and Ireland dominates this return traffic," says Ben Tyrrell, head of relocation firm MoveHub, which carries out 200,000 house moves globally each year. "Going to Australia, we did about 8,000 moves; traffic the return way is tracking at broadly similar numbers." For Eimear McGlinchey Beattie, founder of the Irish Families in Perth association, the warning signs came when people started putting their cars and household items up for sale. "The dynamics have certainly changed in the last 12-15 months," she says. Many Irish people are seeking job opportunities in Canada, New Zealand and London. "Australia and especially Western Australia gave them the promise of great job opportunities and high salaries. The slump in the mining industry has basically put an end to much of this."

The extent of the mining slump, and its duration, remains hotly debated. "The temptation in some quarters [is] to downplay mining’s contribution to Australia’s current and future growth prospects," says John Kunkel of the Minerals Council of Australia, pointing out that the industry contributed almost half of Australia’s 0.9pc GDP growth in the quarter to September. Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh was equally bullish at the company’s last results presentation in October. "Low commodity prices make it easy for pundits to tell sorrowful stories about our sector," he said.

Australia’s GDP is still forecast to grow by 2.5pc this year, extending 24 years of growth – but this is a full percentage point below the 20-year average. The economy is in a "state of transition", according to Cully, and "must now look to other sources of growth" to replace the shortfall in mining investment.

Australia is pulling other levers to ensure its growth: a free-trade pact with China came into force in December, under which 85pc of its exports will enter the country duty- free; it has similar deals with Japan and South Korea and it signed the Trans Pacific Partnership last week – all designed to boost its services sector.

Such moves are scant consolation for those laid off in the mining sector. Chris Nellist, who last month defaulted on his mortgage, is now desperately hunting for jobs in the UK. "Even if I don’t find something, we are likely to have to move back eventually as the bank system here is fairly harsh and we are likely to lose the house in the next 80 days," he says. "In hindsight, moving to Australia was a huge mistake for us and has been a financial disaster."


Non-religious ethics classes growing in NSW schools

NSW school children are facing unprecedented hurdles to get into ethics classes in schools, the state's provider of ethics classes has warned.

For the first time this year parents of kindergarten students do not have to be informed of the availability of ethics classes by the school principals until after they have been through at least four different steps.

"It is a deliberately difficult process for a parent to access ethics classes and give students an alternative to developing their critical thinking and moral reasoning," said Mr Hogan.

Despite the hurdles, Mr Hogan said the classes had continued to grow in popularity throughout the state.

The classes received some high-profile backing last year when the Dalai Lama spoke out in support of their inclusions in NSW schools as a way of keeping people who did not engage with religion on a moral path.

"We will start in 400 schools this year," Mr Hogan said. "In the end, parents always win when it comes to their children's best interest."

Marrickville mother Theona Bustos said that despite being Catholic she still wanted her five-year-old son Xavier to enroll in an ethics class at Wilkins Primary School.  "If I want my children to have a religious education, I don't want it to happen at school, we can go to Sunday mass for that," she said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said that as not all NSW public schools offer ethics classes, it is up to schools to provide parents with the options at their school. Some schools openly advise parents of the availability of ethics classes.

Last year, NSW Premier Mike Baird denied the removal of ethics classes from enrolment forms was part of a deal with Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile to secure the passage of legislation through the NSW upper house.

The changes to the enrolment form were rushed through the Department of Education after the Premier was lobbied by faith groups, documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws showed.

The government's recommendations were in line with those of an upper house inquiry into ethics classes chaired by Mr Nile in 2012.

A spokesman for the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools said: "Special ethics education is not an enemy or a threat to special religious education and the volunteer teachers in both groups are offering valid and valuable choices for parents for education in faith and ethics."


Liquid gold rush beckons for Australian honey producers as research identifies best antimicrobial nectar

Australian honey producers are set to tap into a potential billion-dollar global market for medicinal honey, with new research confirming powerful antimicrobial properties in the flowering nectar of trees found across Australia.

The joint study by three Australian universities is testing up to 86 different species of Leptospermum, 10 times more than are found across the Tasman, where the trees are the basis of New Zealand's burgeoning manuka honey industry.

That country's biggest honey producer, Comvita, is negotiating with Australia's top producer, Capilano, to help it keep up with runaway demand for its products.

Comvita chief technical officer Ralf Schlothauer said huge demand in Asia for manuka honey as a culinary product was making it hard for the company to satisfy its $100-million annual market for medical grade honey, bandages and dressings.

"Right now the culinary price on very pure manuka honey is becoming so high it makes it very difficult to make a commercial decision to dedicate that honey to the medical use," Dr Schlothauer said.

Capilano general manager Ben McKee said even without the Comvita deal, growing demand for manuka honey, traditionally known as jelly bush in Australia, was helping raise the farm gate price for all honey producers.

For a small number of bee keepers already producing manuka honey, the profits are spectacular.

"Bee keepers don't have to produce a lot of this honey to get a really good financial return," Mr McKee said.

"If they have access to this it can really turn their business from just running along to a really large business.

"Some of the bee keepers, we've paid over $1 million just in one payment because of the amount of manuka honey, so it's a real game changer for some bee keepers."
Manuka could help in fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs

The field research on Australian Leptospermum trees is being conducted by Simon Williams as part of a chemistry doctorate with the Sunshine Coast University.

He said the trees were found in every state but their level of potential antimicrobial activity varied.  "We're sampling the source, the flower, to determine activity in the trees but it's still going to come down to mother nature to determine whether or not there'll be any nectar produced," Mr Williams said.

"In some states like South Australia and Victoria, it's a little bit dry so they don't always have a good flowering year every year."

University of Technology, Sydney, is leading the Australian research project and according to principal investigator Professor Liz Harry the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has put a fresh focus on manuka honey

"While drugs can be very useful at times, honey is a really good topical agent that bacteria don't become resistant to," Professor Harry said.

"Over many millions of years of bees making honey it's the only food that can't be spoiled, so nature has provided this solution for us that we stopped using because of antibiotics.

"Now that antibiotics are losing their power we need to look at other solutions and I think honey is a fantastic one."

The Australian study, jointly funded by government and industry, is also investigating a range of other medicinal properties in jelly bush honey.

"Honey also has other properties, like healing properties and anti-inflammatory properties, so what we're interested in is whether some of these honeys may do better at the anti-inflammatory and other honeys may be better at antibacterial, or perhaps there's a few honeys that are best at all three of those activities," Professor Harry said.


7 February, 2016

Don't shrink Australia's ocean sanctuaries, scientists urge ministers

On "environmental" grounds, the previous Labor party government banned fishing in so much of Australian coastal waters that there are now few areas open to fishermen.  So despite its enormous expanse of coastal waters, Australia has to import a lot of the fish it needs.  There has to be compromise but when did you ever hear a Greenie compromise?

Australia’s leading marine scientists are appealing to the federal government to reject a review expected to recommend a significant reduction in the size of ocean sanctuaries and an expansion of areas permitted for commercial fishing.

Tony Abbott announced the review of the boundaries of Labor’s marine parks, counted by the former government as one of its greatest environmental achievements, during the 2013 election campaign, and said he would scrap the just-finished management plans so that the fishing industry could be given a greater say.

The leading scientists understand the review, now finally completed, recommends a sizeable reduction in some areas previously designated as closed to fishing and trawling, particularly in the Coral Sea, and say it has ignored expert scientific advice.

"If the government winds back what was already just partial environmental protection it would be terrible for the environment and send a terrible message to the world," said West Australian marine science professor Jessica Meeuwig.

"We have no faith in this process. They haven’t spoken to marine scientists, despite our best efforts. They spent a lot of time talking to the extractive industries. If Malcolm Turnbull is serious about being guided by science and by evidence he will reject recommendations to reduce marine sanctuary zones," she said.

Meeuwig is one of 10 leading marine researchers who have formed the Ocean Science Council of Australia and have published benchmarks against which the review should be judged, including:

    No further diminishment of marine national park zoning in bioregions and key ecological features should occur as these are already significantly under-represented in the 2012 plans

    The international standard for ocean protection of a minimum of 30% of each marine habitat in highly protected no-take marine national parks should be met;

    Very large marine national parks such as that proposed for the Coral Sea should be preserved

"We have seen little evidence that the review process has focused on scientific evidence, rather it appears to have largely been an exercise in appeasing stakeholders with extractive interests," the OSCA members state in the analysis report.

"We further note that there has been no formal consultation with OSCA despite our significant capacity to provide input to a scientific review."

Osca’s members also include Hugh Possingham, the director of the Australian Research Council Centre for environmental decisions at the University of Queensland and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute and professor of marine science at the University of Queensland.

After fierce lobbying from recreational and commercial fishers and colleagues, Abbott announced the review during a visit to a fishing trade show on the Gold Coast, saying the Coalition would not "lock up the oceans."

"We know that the biggest supporter of environmentally responsible fishing practices is the fishing industry – because they do not want to harm the very environment that is providing them with a living," the Coalition said in its policy statement.

"Australians aren’t just proud fishers, they are smart fishers – and they know that Labor’s marine park lockouts are about managing the Greens, not managing the environment."

Labor always rejected concerns by the fishing industry that it was "locking up oceans", saying less than 2% of commercial fisheries’ catches would be affected by the new protected areas and recreational fishers would not be affected at all because the parks were hundreds of kilometres offshore and therefore well out of reach of a fisherman in a tinnie.

After a long period of consultation, Labor announced its decision to protect more than 2.3m sq km of ocean in marine parks in late 2012, offering $100m in compensation to the fishing industry.

Environmental groups declared a historic victory, but fishers and charter operators began a furious campaign against the move, strongly backed by some Liberal and National party MPs.

The then environment minister Tony Burke said the marine parks would protect "some incredible marine environments, including the Perth Canyon in the south-west and the stunning reefs of the Coral Sea, and this announcement cements Australia’s position as a world leader on environmental protection’’.

Restrictions on fishing in the reserves varies from a total ban to a trawling ban, to areas where recreational catch and release are permitted.

Announcing the panels conducting the review in 2014 environment minister Greg Hunt said it would be based on science and aimed to "restore community confidence" in the marine reserve system.

"Unlike the previous government, we are committed to getting the management plans and the balance of zoning right, so we have asked the expert panels to consider what management arrangements will best protect our marine environment and accommodate the many activities that Australians love to enjoy in our oceans," he said.


Cindy Prior case: right to cause offence deserves a defence

Racist woman accuses others of racism

QUT administration officer Cindy Prior has filed a case against students and professors and an equity director.

To coin a phrase from one of my erudite readers, just when you thought we had reached peak stupidity, along comes another reminder that basic freedoms in this country are sidelined by our laws.

As Hedley Thomas reported in The Australian on Thursday, Cindy Prior, an administration officer employed in an indigenous unit at the Queensland University of Technology, is suing students, academics and others under section 18C of the federal Racial Discrimination Act. Section 18C makes it illegal to say anything which is "reasonably likely … to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people" because of their "race, colour or national or ethnic origin".

In May 2013, three students wandered into the QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit, where Prior works, looking to use a computer. Prior asked them whether they were indigenous. She says the students said they weren’t and she told them the room was "an indigenous space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait students". She asked them to leave.

Later that day one student, Alex Wood, posted on Facebook: "Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation." Another student, Jackson Powell, wrote on Facebook: "I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is." A post attributed to another student, Calum Thwaites, said: "ITT niggers." Thwaites denies he had anything to do with the post.

Another student, Kyran Findlater, wrote on Facebook: "My Student and Amenity fees are going to furbish rooms in the university where inequality reigns supreme? I believe if we have to pay to support these sorts of places, there should at least be more created for general purpose use, but again, how do these sorts of facilities ­support interaction and community within QUT? All this does is ­encourage separation and inequality."

Prior says she went home on May 29, 2013, feeling sick and stressed. She says she didn’t feel safe and was worried about being verbally or physically assaulted. She is suing the students under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

She has also levelled allegations in the case against two academics, Anita Lee Hong and Sharon Hayes, as well as equity director Mary Kelly. She is seeking $247,570.52 because she claims she was racially vilified and suffered "offence, embarrassment, humiliation and psychiatric injury."

Hayes is accused of saying "it seems a bit silly" to kick someone out of an indigenous computer lab for not being indigenous when the computers were not being used. Kelly, who reviewed the matter soon afterwards, told Prior the students had taken down the material. After being advised by Prior that she would complain to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Kelly allegedly said: "With the small amount of contact I’ve had with the students, it is clear that these students aren’t racist.

"They were just being nasty. There is no white supremacy group at QUT. Check out what racial vilification is before you jump in. They’re not going to come into your office with a baseball bat."

Sure enough, last August the AHRC sent the case to a federal court, finding no reasonable prospect of conciliation.

You can hardly blame Prior for slogging it out in the courts. The law — section 18C — invites her to put her alleged pain ahead of freedom of expression.

And the deceptively labelled Human Rights Commission is there to usher the case into court, bypassing the most basic human right — to speak freely.

Josephine Cashman, an indigenous lawyer and businesswoman who chairs the safe communities committee of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, believes the case being brought by Prior is misguided.

Cashman, a lawyer in NSW, is also highly critical of the way the AHRC has handled this complaint.

"In NSW you need to have reasonable prospects of success to lodge a claim in the civil jurisdiction," she says. "The (A)HRC aren’t executing their role properly. This is going to create a lot of animosity that we particularly don’t need in Australia — and particularly in indigenous Australia."

She says this case should never have been sent to a court. "The level of harm from three posts, ­seriously — our court system would be in chaos if this was general practice.

"If you have a disagreement with someone, particularly young students, try to talk to them, to re-educate them so they can become supporters of the indigenous cause. Don’t go straight to the most extreme measure," Cashman says. People need to take personal responsibility and stop playing the victim card. The people who really do need support miss out."

The free speech implications of Prior’s case are equally horrifying.

Defamation laws rightly exist to protect people’s reputation. But section 18C is a direct hit on words that merely hurt someone’s feelings. Cementing feelings into our laws has ousted the right to speak freely. And the damage to our basic liberties is immeasurable.

In 2011, columnist Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching section 18C for expressing his views on how people identify as indigenous. Late last year, Martine Delaney, Greens candidate for the federal seat of Franklin, complained to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission that pamphlets produced by Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous defending marriage were offensive and breached the state Anti-Discrimination Act 1998. The commission agreed that the Archbishop has a case to answer.

Laws that encourage us to take offence infantilise us. Laws that encourage free speech make us robust and resilient, force us to think more clearly in the face of disagreement, even offensive disagreement.

Good ideas don’t flourish in an echo chamber. A germ of a good idea grows stronger, not weaker, from free-ranging debate. Stupid ideas disintegrate under the weight of reason. That process will necessarily offend some. But speech is only truly free if it includes the right to offend.

Feelings are also curtailing the freedom to be funny. In a recent video for The Big Think, an online ideas forum, British comedian John Cleese said he has been advised not to perform at universities because his jokes would be seen as cruel. Cleese pointed out that "the whole point about humour, the whole point about comedy … is that all comedy is critical ... If you start to say, ‘We mustn’t — we mustn’t criticise or offend them’, then humour is gone. With ­humour goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984."

Cleese, known for his hilarious capers as part of Monty Python and in Fawlty Towers, quoted psychologist Robin Skynner as saying that "if people can’t control their own emotions, then they need to start controlling other people’s behaviour".

There’s nothing funny about that. To return freedom of speech to its rightful place as an empowering virtue, rather than an offending vice, we need to remove emotions from our laws. Let’s start with a small but important step and reform section 18C.


Cory Bernardi urges Julie Bishop not to endorse 'dysfunctional' Kevin Rudd for UN top job

South Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has urged the Foreign Minister not to endorse a "dysfunctional", "vengeful", "unstable", "megalomaniac" like former prime minister Kevin Rudd for the United Nations top job.

It comes amid speculation Mr Rudd will nominate to become the next secretary-general, despite it being revealed former prime minister Tony Abbott gave a commitment to his New Zealand counterpart John Key that Australia would support his predecessor Helen Clark.

Senator Bernardi penned the strongly worded letter to Julie Bishop on Wednesday.

"With the best interests of the United Nations and Australia's international credibility in kind, I sincerely hope that these reports are not accurate," Senator Bernardi wrote.
Why inflict Rudd on the UN?

Everyone knows how dysfunctional Kevin Rudd's leadership style was, so why would senior Coalition members consider backing his bid to become Secretary General of the UN? Daryle McCann writes.

"As prime minister, Mr Rudd brought an unprecedented level of dysfunction and chaos to Australian politics and to the position of prime minister."

Senator Bernardi was not afraid to use strong language to press his point to Ms Bishop.

"His own colleagues have described him as a 'megalomaniac', 'vengeful', 'unstable' and 'a bastard' with a 'vicious temper' who put 'his own self-interest ahead of … the country as a whole'," Senator Bernardi wrote.  "Similar sentiments were expressed by many of our Coalition colleagues on multiple occasions over many years.

"It is my considered view that our own supporters and many others in the Australian public would be very disappointed if we endorsed such a person for this significant role.

"Would you be kind enough to advise me if the Government is seriously considering this course of action and if so, please provide me with the rationale for such a position."

Ms Bishop said it would be up to Cabinet to decide which candidate to back.


Parents need more choice in schooling, says new report

Australia's three school sectors – government, independent and Catholic – have far more in common than generally believed, with diversity within the sectors often exceeding the differences between them.

That's the finding of a report, One School Does Not Fit All,  by the Centre for Independent Studies. The report said there is a wide variety of schools in each sector, with diverse student populations.

"Broad-brush comparisons between the school sectors based on average results are not useful, either for policy decisions or for parents choosing a school," said the report, which was co-authored by Jennifer Buckingham and Trisha Jha.

"There is substantial overlap in the student populations in each sector – none exclusively serves any particular demographic."

One finding is that the majority of independent schools do not conform to the private school stereotype of being well funded compared to government schools.

The report said 83 per cent of government schools, 94 per cent of Catholic schools and 76 per cent of independent schools have total funding levels below $20,000 per student per year (in 2013).

And independent schools, like government and Catholic schools, are bunched around the per-student incomes of between $10,000 and $15,000 a year. Only 7 per cent of independent schools were very wealthy, with per-student incomes over $30,000 a year.

However independent schools are clearly better off in one respect: hardly any independent schools had per-student incomes (from both public and private sources) below $10,000, a year, while about 20 per cent of government and Catholic schools are in this category.

"There is no such thing as a typical government, Catholic or independent school," the report said.

"Some government schools more closely resemble high-fee independent schools in terms of their student demographic and level of resourcing than a public school in the next suburb."


Dr Buckingham said there were many independent schools that did not conform to the picture people had of these schools. One example is the Berry Street School in Victoria, which caters to children who have been expelled or excluded from mainstream education.

"Very often the Berry Street School is their last option for gaining a secondary education," the report said. The school deals with poor literacy and numeracy by devoting about half the teaching time to these areas, and follows the "no excuses" approach, which attracts controversy but has produced results in some US charter schools.

Berry School uses explicit instruction methods, and believes that "students who are struggling need more support and structure, not greater flexibility," the CIS report said.

Dr Buckingham and Ms Jha also believe that governments should promote further diversity and choice in schooling by developing charter schools and exploring home-schooling options.

Charter schools – which are well-established in the US and other countries – receive government funding equivalent to public schools, but operate independently of the government system and are generally not religious.

The report says that introducing charter schools in Australia would offer more secular schooling options for parents beyond the existing public school system.

"Choice is currently restricted for families who can't afford non-government school fees, or those who do not want a religious education or who do not subscribe to alternative educational philosophies. The majority of non-government schools fit into one of these two categories," the report said.

Similarly it says that lack of consistent government support limits home schooling as an option in Australia.

"The ease with which home-schoolers can access government distance education courses varies across states and territories," it says.

Over 12,000 students were registered as being home-schooled in 2012. However, the report urges more research in this area to discover how effective home schooling is and how many unregistered students are being home schooled.


Again: Armed police remove ship's defiant Australian crew, escort replacements aboard

Armed police have removed the Australian crew of the bulk alumina carrier, CSL Melbourne, and escorted aboard a foreign crew to sail the ship out of Australian waters.

A large contingent of police raided the ship in Newcastle, NSW, at 8.45am Friday, telling the five Australian crew members they must leave their vessel immediately.

"About 18 police came on board and ordered us to leave," said crew member Jason Donnellan.  "It was very intimidating. I'd estimate they were about 50 police altogether, with lots of them on the wharf, in paddy wagons and in two boats circling the ship.

"We asked if we could take our bags, but they said they would be brought off the ship afterwards.  "I can't believe this — a company using police to get rid of Australian workers."

A NSW police spokeswoman said officers boarded the vessel after being invited by the ship's captain to assist with the safe removal of the crew.  "The five men left the ship without incident at the invitation of the captain," she said.  "No persons were arrested or detained."

The seafarers had been protesting over their imminent dismissal by occupying the vessel and refusing to sail to Singapore.

It is the second time in a month that Australian seamen have been forcibly removed from ships hauling alumina on Australian coastal routes, and replaced by low-paid foreign seafarers.

At 1am on January 13, about 30 security guards boarded Alcoa's ship, the MV Portland, which was berthed in the west Victorian harbour of Portland, and removed the five Australian crew members who were sleeping on the vessel.

They were immediately replaced by a foreign crew which sailed the MV Portland to Singapore where it is to be sold.

The CSL Melbourne was chartered by Pacific Aluminium, a wholly-owned Rio Tinto subsidiary.

It has been hauling alumina from Gladstone in Queensland to Newcastle for smelting at the nearby Tomago Aluminium plant.

The shipping company that owns CSL Melbourne plans to transfer it to international operations out of Singapore, and replace it with a foreign-flagged ship with foreign crew members, which the Maritime Union of Australia says are paid as little as $2 an hour.

Both Alcoa and Pacific Aluminium have recently gained "temporary coastal licences" from the Federal Government, allowing them to replace their ships with foreign-flagged vessels and foreign crews.

This is despite the Senate late last year denying proposed legislation to open Australia's coastal routes to foreign ships.

A spokesman for the Canadian-owned shipping company, CSL, said the five crew members were peacefully escorted from the vessel on Friday morning, and that the CSL Melbourne would now depart for Singapore.

He said the crew was removed after refusing to comply with orders made by the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court this week for each worker to end the unlawful industrial action.

The union has expressed outrage at the use of police and security officers to remove Australian seafarers from their workplace, which it called a disturbing trend.

"This is a disgraceful episode in Australian history, when the forces of the state and the police can move on Australian workers, throw them off their legitimate place of work and replace them with labour that will be paid $2 an hour," assistant union secretary Warren Smith said.

"We are going to throw everything at a campaign for justice for Australian workers and justice for Australian seafarers."

The maritime union has launched heated political attacks over the recent sackings of Australian seafarers. It is pressing the federal government to support local jobs and revoke special licences that permit the use of low-paid foreign crews on domestic shipping routes, which Labor and the unions have branded "WorkChoices on water".

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, leading the push for coastal shipping reform, said the "temporary coastal licences" that permit the use of foreign-crewed ships for domestic voyages were part of Labor's shipping rules introduced in 2012.

He said the special licences could be issued in the event that no Australian operators were seeking to carry the cargo, "and that's exactly what happened in this situation".

Mr Truss said the Australian shipping had been left uncompetitive by the previous government.


5 February, 2016

Australia should do more for Aborigines?  If so how?

The self-righteous bleat below is an editorial from the Left-leaning Melbourne "Age".  It exhibits all the brains of a flea.  It shows no awareness of Aboriginal life or of the unending stream of government efforts that have been made to better the lot of Aborigines.  I would be surprised if the writer had ever set foot in a black's camp. I have.  I grew up with Aborigines around the place.  They were in my Primary school and down the end of the street where I lived. 

So the writer below has only his self-righteousness to put forward. He puts forward not a single suggestion about what to do to help Aborigines.  He doesn't know what has happened and has no idea what should happen.  He is just a brainless Leftist fool 

The best he can do is end up with an unsubstantiated accusation.  He speaks of "The disadvantage foisted on Indigenous Australians by ignorance or prejudice."  Where is his evidence that the poor situation of Aborigines is due to "ignorance or prejudice".  He has none.  It's just a verbal fart.

There are many ethnic groups in Australia and many of them came here when there was indeed prejudice against them.  My mother's father told her when she was young that he would cut her off if she married an Italian.  So did that hold Italians back?  Hardly.  Not long ago, Australia's most populous State -- NSW -- was run by second generation Italians and Greeks -- the Iemma administration.  And they were put there by the NSW voters.

And note that most Italians who migrated to Australia in the early to mid 20th century were poor peasant people trying to escape poverty.  They were by most criteria very "disadvantaged" people.  But they thrived in Australia, as they did in the USA. In one generation they leapt to prosperity.

And look at the Jews.  Can any group ever have been more hated than the Jews?  If you want to talk about prejudice and discrimination, look at the experience of the Jews.  Yet Jews ride high wherever they are.  Israel even prospers despite constant attacks on it by Muslims.

Plainly, there is no systematic disadvantage inflicted on anyone by prejudice and discrimination.  One could more plausibly argue that it spurs people on to a high level of achievement.

So our brainless Lefty editor is plain WRONG in his explanation  of Aboriginal backwardness.  That leaves Aborigines responsible for themselves.  Self-responsibility?  What a horrible thought to a Leftist!  The State is their solution to everything. 

Over 40,000 years, Aborigines evolved to lead a hunter-gatherer life and they are superbly adapted to that life.  They are NOT however adapted to modern life and nothing will make them that.  There are however some ways that they can be helped. 

I see it in the contrast between elderly Aborigines and young Aborigines.  The older ones are much better adapted to white society.  They lead reasonably clean, orderly and sober lives while the young ones are plagued by every conceivable problem.  Why?  Because when the older ones were growing up, the Aboriginal settlements were run by missionaries.  And Aborigines are a very spiritual people so religion has a big effect on them.  It gave the missionaries the leverage to teach Aborigines habits that would be to their advantage.

But there is no political will to bring back the missionaries so is there anything else to be done?  Just about everything that could be tried has been tried by successive State and Federal governments of all political stripes so there is really only one possibility left:  Better policing. 

The casual violence towards women and children by Aboriginal males is horrific. I have seen it.  But if the women had somewhere to run to in their settlements, many could escape that violence.  Most settlements already have a police presence but it is woefully inadequate.  More cops are what is needed but I am quite sure that would not suit our brainless Leftist editor.  Where would he get a warm glow out of that?

If you are yet to take the 8½ minutes to watch journalist Stan Grant speak on the topic of "racism destroying the Australian dream," make the time. His words are searing, a much-needed jolt to national complacency towards Aboriginal Australia, and a powerful statement of reality, both historical and present day.

But more than words, the accompanying passion – Grant's face and tone deeply imbued with sorrow, anger, hope and regret from personal experience as an Indigenous man – points to the emotional toll of unfinished business on the first people of this country. We must all strive to better acknowledge this suffering, even if it remains a lived experience most people can never truly understand.

Grant's speech, delivered in October, won prominence last week when released as an online video during a traditional time of introspection, both for the community and in our personal lives.

The new year is often a moment when people choose to take stock of goals, to resolve a fresh beginning, or rededicate themselves to cherished dreams. The symbols of nationhood are put on overt display just as languid summer weeks are about to be swamped by the reality of busy lives. As if to warm up dozing political muscles, we have developed a habit of adorning Australia Day with a ritual debate about changing the flag and becoming a republic.

But Grant's speech challenges the country to do more. Much more. His is a reminder that the personal and national experience is deeply intertwined for Indigenous Australians. The "Invasion Day" protests to mark the anniversary of the arrival of white settlers are illustrative, but cannot alone convey the discrimination felt each and every day in the Indigenous community.

"My people die young in this country," Grant reminds us. "We die 10 years younger than average Australians and we are far from free. We are fewer than 3 per cent of the Australian population and yet we are 25 per cent, a quarter of those Australians locked up in our prisons .hs.hs. If you are a juvenile, it is worse, it is 50 per cent."

Statistics that alone are distressing, but in what stands as a national shame, Grant observes "an Indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than they are to finish high school." What a indictment on the supposed ethos of a fair go.

Australia can do and must do better. The steep difference in Victoria, where Indigenous children are more than 12 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be placed in state care is another indicator of woeful disadvantage. We have become far too comfortable with pledges to "close the gap" that the action necessary to make this a reality is rarely a priority.

Complacency also marks our debate about the place of Indigenous culture in our national story. We have become fixated on a slogan, "recognition", too often ignoring the concepts many Aborigines would prefer be debated, such as "self-determination", "sovereignty" and "treaty".

It is not that the proposal to change the constitution to acknowledge Indigenous culture is without merit. But the country must properly decide what such a change is meant to achieve. Megan Davis, a legal professor and member of the Prime Minister's Expert Panel on recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution, has warned the idea has become mired in "bipartisan stage-managed process". We should be aspiring to more than piecemeal reform, but justice.

Like Grant's speech, Davis' essay "Listening but not hearing", published in the latest edition of Griffith Review, is a further reminder the country can grow from a frank, and importantly, inclusive debate about the life of Indigenous Australians. The disadvantage foisted on Indigenous Australians by ignorance or prejudice is holding the nation back. To do better, the voices of the Aboriginal community must be listened to, and heard.


A Win in court for Australia’s Migrant-Detention Policy

The high court ruled the government’s practice of holding asylum-seekers on Nauru was both legal and constitutional

Australia’s high court has rejected a challenge to the country’s practice of holding asylum-seekers at a camp on Nauru, the Pacific island nation, a decision that paves the way for the return of more than 250 people—including dozens of babies—who are now in Australia.

At issue is a case brought by the Human Rights Law Center (HRLC) on behalf of a Bangladeshi woman who entered Australia by sea. She was detained by Australian officials and taken to Nauru, which along with Manus Island, part of Papua New Guinea, is where Australia processes its asylum-seekers. The woman was returned to Australia for medical treatment during the late stages of her pregnancy, but appealed her return to Nauru. Lawyers for the woman challenged Australia’s right to detain people on foreign soil. On Wednesday, the court said the government’s actions were both legal and constitutional.

The decision paves the way for the return of about 267 people, including 37 babies born in Australia, to the detention center on Nauru.

HRLC and other immigrant-rights groups say the conditions on Nauru are poor, citing women who say they have been sexually assaulted at the detention center on the island.

"The legality is one thing, the morality is another. Ripping kids out of primary schools and sending them to be indefinitely warehoused on a tiny remote island is wrong," Daniel Webb, the HRLC’s director of legal advocacy, said in a statement. "We now look to the Prime Minister to step in and do the right thing and let them stay so these families can start to rebuild their lives."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia’s tough stance, which is supported by the opposition, not only secures the country’s borders, but also saves lives by preventing drownings.

"Our commitment today is simply this: The people smugglers will not prevail over our sovereignty. Our borders are secure," he told Parliament on Wednesday. "The line has to be drawn somewhere and it is drawn at our border."

In a statement, UNICEF, the UN children’s fund, said the court’s decision shifts the international legal obligations for refugees from Australia to its poorer neighbor Nauru.

"The current offshore immigration network is a system in crisis and is creating crisis for affected children and families," the organization said.

Under Australian law, those asylum-seekers who are granted refugee status are either settled in Nauru or Papua New Guinea—not Australia. They also have an option of going to Cambodia, under a deal worked out between the two countries.

At present, more than 1,400 people are being detained on Nauru and Manus as they await their claims to be processed. The average length of their detention is 445 days.


Europe must copy Australia and stop the refugee boats

Britain needs the former Australian Prime Minister to help tackle the migrant crisis, and should give him a peerage to make it worth his while
The Australian Liberal Party has already done one great service for David Cameron: finding, funding and preserving Sir Lynton Crosby. The knighthood alone symbolises the debt the Conservatives owe Crosby for their first majority in nearly a quarter of a century. Now it is time for the Prime Minister to return the favour to the Liberals by giving a peerage to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

There are three good reasons for this. First, it would relieve the current Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, of his single biggest political management problem - the continued presence of a former leader on his back benches. If recent Australian political history tells us anything it is that former leaders - particularly when deposed - often attempt to return to leadership in the most spectacular fashion.  Outplacement really needs to mean outplacement.

Second, and this is a critical part of solving Turnbull's headache, Abbott would not disdain membership of the House of Lords. He was born in London and his respect for the United Kingdom stretched to him giving a eulogy to Margaret Thatcher after her death.

The third, and best, reason is that once back in the UK, Tony Abbott could tell Britain and the European Union how to "stop the boats" - and we do need to learn how to do that.

There is a bluntness about the phrase "stop the boats" that sounds coarse to European ears. And the harshness and the brutality of its articulation as a proposition by Abbott is a tone which is absent from our mainstream politics, but not from our politics as a whole. Anger, and indeed confusion, dominate and at times define our political discourse.

But it is an anger exploited and channeled by populist parties of the Left and Right - it finds no home in the mainstream. But it needs to.

The trajectory of European policy on refugees and asylum seekers has been a masterclass in how a very human, in fact humane, and emotional response has led inexorably to human misery. No one with a heart can have failed to be exhilarated when Angela Merkel opened Germany's borders to refugees.

The sight of a German Chancellor posing for selfies with refugees was in one way a symbol of a very different Europe. But in the world of people smuggling and human trafficking, it was received very differently. Angela Merkel was - inadvertently - the poster girl for their exploitation and exacerbation of human misery.

For once you signal that Europe is open for refugees then you no longer control your borders - they are managed by criminal gangs.

There's an Indonesian phrase for this incentive for people smugglers - "sugar on the table". And so we return to Tony Abbott. Australia has faced a similar challenge from people smugglers. The same desperate families. The same criminal gangs.

The same risk to life - a one-in-twenty chance of death if you boarded a boat in Indonesia. That's why there was bi-partisan agreement to end the trafficking and why there is strong Australian support for the policy of the Navy turning back boats. When boats are scuttled by smugglers then "passengers" are rescued - but they don't come to Australia.

They go to refugee camps off shore. They don't, in popular parlance, "jump the queue". The result has been an end to the trade in lives.

The contrast with Europe could not be starker. The winter is ending. More boats are coming - and people are still drowning. There are predictions of over a million refugees coming into the EU this year. Whether or not the number is sustainable economically that number is unsustainable politically. And the larger the traffic, the greater the number of deaths.

Stopping the boats on its own is not the whole of the solution. But it is a start. Ending the inhuman trade requires and end to the conflict that dislocates and a solution to the poverty that drives Africans north across the Mediterranean.

But the push factor can be ended and the loss of life can cease. It can be done - Tony Abbott knows how.


Climate science on chopping block as CSIRO braces for shake-up

Global warming research to be re-oriented towards mitigation

The CSIRO's climate science divisions are expected to be pared back as part of a massive shake-up of the organisation.

The ABC understands cuts are expected to be made within the Oceans and Atmosphere and Land and Water divisions and up to 350 positions in the organisation will change.

The organisation will attempt to redeploy as many staff as possible into emerging areas such as data science, but there are likely to be redundancies in the process.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said the changes would see the organisation move away from measuring and monitoring climate change, to instead focus on how to adapt to it.

"It's inevitable that people who are gifted at measuring and modelling climate may not be the same people who are gifted at figuring out what to do about it how to mitigate it," he said.

"Some of the climate scientists will be able to make that transition and some won't."

Dr Marshall said the shake-up was about renewal for the organisation and addressing the low turnover rates of staff.

"On the good side that means people love working for CSIRO but on the bad side most companies have much higher turnover than we do," he said.

The good thing about turnover is it creates a career path for junior scientists to aspire to.

In a statement, a spokesman for Science Minister Christopher Pyne said:  "This is an operational decision of the CSIRO.   After an extensive review, the management of the CSIRO have stated the need to re-organise the organisation to better fulfil its mission as outlined in its strategic plan"

In 2014, the Federal Government slashed more than $110 million from the organisation's budget, prompting national protests.

But scientists became far more optimistic when the Prime Minister launched the National Innovation and Science Agenda in December last year.

Malcolm Turnbull committed $90 million to the CSIRO to support increased commercialisation of research.

He also announced $75 million of funding to a CSIRO business unit known as Data61, which will focus research on areas such as cybersecurity and robotics.

At the time, Science Minister Christopher Pyne said organisations like the CSIRO were "among the best in the world".


4 February, 2016

PCGolden Girls Of The ADF

Even Agatha Christie couldn’t come up with this.  A plot which includes a man who demands to be called a woman; abusive conduct; hush money; Australian Of The Year nominations; anti-Australian Navy Captain; reward for misconduct; Army chief’s hypocrisy and a Defence Minister’s unhinged compliment.

In my humble opinion, of the two women hailed as the ADF’s ‘Golden Girls’, many might very well view one of them as a vindictive, abusive pretend-woman and the other an anti-Australian Muslim, both of whom appear epic failures when judged by past military standards.

Malcolm "Call Me Cate" McGregor was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Army when he decided to be known as a woman. He didn’t undergo any surgery that would complete the transformation. Oh no, he simply started wearing dresses and demanded that he be recognised as a woman. The warm, fuzzy, tolerant and inclusive PC indoctrinated ADF chiefs fell all over themselves complying with his demands.

Let’s get to the truth about "Call Me Cate". He admits that he has male chromosomes and says he is not a woman but he feels like a woman trapped in a man’s body so there—a woman is born. He was one who appeared to be cheering on the sacking of Major Bernard Gaynor by that other ADF PC-driven, David Hurley. McGregor couldn’t leave it at that and launched an extraordinary attack on Bernard Gaynor’s father who McGregor claimed had defective DNA.  Laughable really. Here is a bloke who thinks he is a woman criticising someone else’s DNA? Fair dinkum!

It may not have been because of this but after Lieutenant Colonel McGregor was "counselled", McGregor was transferred to the RAAF and immediately rewarded with a substantial promotion to Group Captain and nominated to be Australian Of The Yea, while Gaynor Snr was further ridiculed by the ADF command because he refused to see McGregor as a woman. He was offered $25,000 to keep his mouth shut.

To understand part two of the ADF Golden Girls saga we take a look at the double standards and gross hypocrisy of retired Army Chief David Morrison as explained by Bernard Gaynor: "In other words, the former Chief of Army gained accolades for ‘respecting women’ by reading the words of a person who thinks that men can be just as female as the ladies. He then talked tough about ruthlessly ridding the Army of abusers, only to do nothing about the abuser who was standing right next to him – McGregor – who, shortly after writing that speech, decided to abuse my father."

Captain Mona Shindy, RAN, Muslim. Mona Shindy for two years had control of an official Twitter account, @NavyIslamic, and during that time abused the privilege by using such account as her personal political pro-Islamic advertising agent.

Looking at the account it appears that Mona Shindy enjoyed complete independence in her role as RAN Islamic advisor and used the account as a personal billboard to broadcast the word of Islam either with the tacit approval of the brass or while they were drunk at the helm.

In March 2015 Captain Shindy gave a presentation to the Royal United Services Institute of New South Wales which, when avoiding PC speak translated to:

    The media was to blame for Islamic violence.

    Armed Jihad is justified.

    The Hijab is required by the Quran making it Sharia compliant.

    Islamic women aren’t oppressed despite FGM, stoning etc.

    Islamic extremism is our fault.

    The Western world is responsible for Sunni/Shia conflict.

    It is our fault that Muslim youth can’t get ahead in our society.

    If we thought like Muslims instead of Westerners then violence wouldn’t look like terrorism.

    Charlie Hedbo is our fault.

    Let’s just forget about 9/11 and the World Trade Centre.

    There is no problem with Jihad, the problem is us.

    If we were nicer to Muslims then terrorism would go away.

    We need to talk about terrorism but don’t mention Islamic State.

    The government needs to build more Mosques and employ more Imams to promote Islam

    Muslim’s victim mentality is justified.

Furthermore, Captain Shindy used the @NavyIslamic Twitter account to:

    Mock our former PM, Tony Abbott.

    Celebrate Tony Abbott’s knifing.

    Criticise our involvement in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

    Back the Grand Mufti’s flawed response to the Paris Terrorist attack.

   Attacked the ALA political party as being an ill-informed fringe group.

Despite her less than satisfactory conduct and her open anti-Australian political tweets she is to be rewarded by sending her to the Defence Strategic Studies Centre to do a Masters degree in, of all things, politics and policy. Ain’t that a doozy?

Just like the Malcolm "Call Me Cate" McGregor farce, there is an ‘Add Insult To Injury’ clause. Provisional Defence Minister Marise Payne (temporarily on training wheels) says that Captain Shindy is an "outstanding Australian" and that "She has served the country with distinction". Payne, who is obviously not an big fan of reality, went on to say that the RAN is to continue developing an "effective and engaging" social media strategy and Defence was committed to increasing cultural diversity among serving members to better reflect Australian society.

Government/ADF policy, as confirmed by Marise Payne, is now geared to reward abusive and anti-Australian behaviour with praise for the blatant disregard of regulations while promoting offenders and resorting to bribing complainants to keep their mouth shut.

This means we are to see even more of this politically correct lunacy from the Minister, Defence bureaucrats and the ADF command according to Marise Payne who would be better suited to be Minister of Koolaide Distribution to Politicians.

And all with the full knowledge and consent of (and direction?) of PM Waffler himself.


Neo-puritans strive to find offence — anywhere

With January 2016 ticked off the calendar, it’s worth reflecting how the past month has provided a window into the mindset of a burgeoning class of sanctimonious neo-puritans.

A few weeks back, West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle was just about run out of the country after an interview with a female sports presenter where he said: "Hopefully, we can win this game and have a drink after. Don’t blush baby." Social media went nuts. The media, talkback, feminists went equally manic that Gayle would dare to flirt on camera.

The cricketer apologised the very next day. But that made no difference to the remonstrating neo-puritans. The batting legend was ­labelled a sexist and a creep, his club fined him $10,000, Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said Gayle’s on-camera flirting was "completely out of line and inappropriate". "It’s very, very public," Sutherland said.

A few weeks later, NRL player Mitchell Pearce was caught on a smartphone video behaving like a drunken buffoon at a private party. But privacy made no difference to the censorious neo-puritans. Public lapse in judgment? Private indiscretion? The boundaries keep moving. There but for the grace of God go I has become there but for the grace of an iPhone go all of us. Pearce clumsily tried to kiss a woman who quickly rebuffed him. So he stopped. The half-back then simulated a dopey, jokey sex act on a dog. He urinated on a couch. Dumb and dumber.

But in the minds of the neo-­puritans, there is no room for boofheads anymore. Pearce is a villain. End of story. And villains must be publicly shamed. So there’s endless talk of fines and penalties, contracts cancelled, ­careers over, rehab and counselling. Pearce has left the country. I am deeply uncomfortable to find myself on roughly the same side of the argument as Peter FitzSimons.

But here’s where the Red Bandanna and I part ways. The progressive set that FitzSimons surely calls home is to blame for the rise of the holier than thou neo-puritanism that has tried to destroy Pearce. Australia’s self-appointed moral guardians are having a ­heyday doing what they do so often: dividing the world into victims and villains. But can it really be that simple? There is something truly disturbing about the refusal by these self-appointed moralisers to make room for a few boofheads, be they drunk or flirtatious.

To be sure, no one should celebrate stupidity. Pearce behaved badly. He has to account for that. But the obsession to label every misdemeanour or error of judgment as a sure sign of bad character points to a deeper malaise infecting our society. This false ­dichotomy of victims and villains is creating a sterile, puritanical world where even minor mistakes of judgment are pathologised as serious moral misdeeds.

Witness the weird explosion of academic literature and campus chatter about so-called micro-assaults, micro-aggressions, micro-insults, micro-invalidations and so on and so forth. So you’ve picked up a copy of Hustler magazine and looked at a naked woman? That makes you a perpetrator of "micro-insults" — and a villain. Prefer to be colourblind to race so you don’t define people by their colour? That makes you a perpetrator of micro-invalidations — and a villain. You’d think that the very mention of "micro" points to how trifling this all is. Not in the eyes of the neo-naggers, who can find wrongdoing anywhere they look.

And it’s not hard to trace how we ended up in this realm of the utterly ridiculous. The misguided taxonomy between villains and victims was given a fillip once feelings entered the realm of human rights laws. Once an offending word here or an insulting word there attracted the heavy hand of the law, victimhood became a booming business. And given that victimhood works as a political philosophy only if there are villains, it’s not surprising then that Western modernity is stretching at the seams with newfangled classes of victims and villains.

You’re a Catholic archbishop from Tasmania who produces a pamphlet that defends the trad­itional definition of marriage that has not only existed for millennia but remains the law of the land? Most would think this is a complete non-story within a healthy democracy where freedom of speech and religion are basic rights. Wrong. Under the hectoring neo-puritanism, the law allows anyone offended by that pamphlet to claim victimhood status and, hey presto, the archbishop and his church are cast as villains by a human rights bureaucracy only too willing to play along.

We seem to have reached the point where every transgression from the norm now demands either a victim or villain label. There’s no room for plain difference or straight stupidity any more. And the victim/villain ­dichotomy has reached into ­absurd places when Gayle and Pearce were cast as villains even where there were no victims.

Neither Gayle nor Pearce broke any law. The police were not called. There was no harm done, as John Stuart Mill would have concluded.

The 19th century English philosopher best explained the no harm principle when he said "That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

Mill was addressing the importance of individual liberty in the face of state control. These days, the preachy neo-puritans imagine they are the state, imposing their judgments, wrecking reputations and careers because they have identified a villain even where there is no victim. No harm no longer matters to the neo-puritans. The principles that helped drive liberty have been upended.

Last week, the honchos who hand out Australia Day awards tried to further cement the victims and villains narrative into our national psyche when they picked David Morrison as Australian of the Year.

Morrison, a military man, is not regarded as an extraordinary soldier. So why did he get the gong? He gave one famous speech about victims of discrimination (a speech written by his then speechwriter, Cate McGregor, who transitioned from a man to a woman a few years ago).

You might have thought that upon receiving the award, Morrison would defend this great nation, maybe explaining the importance of being committed to Western values such as individual liberty and so on. Wrong again. Morrison’s Australia Day speech was replete with dark talk of victims and villains.

Not surprisingly, those who have fallen for this false dichotomy have bequeathed hero status on Morrison.

Those of us who see through the victim and villain ­baloney see a man of mediocre achievement given an award he didn’t deserve. And his paean to progressive causes is a reminder of how far we have fallen as a proud nation.

The lionisation of Morrison and the concomitant destruction of Pearce suggest it’s high time we did more to keep in check the rapacious colonisation of our communities by the neo-puritans. After all, the freedom to be a boofhead is the other side of the liberty coin.


A battery for the home comes to Australia

And it ONLY costs $12,000.00 -- so is not for the average Joe.  It would appear to be a modified version of Tesla's car battery so is not new technology.  Lithium-ion batteries are common in consumer electronics.

The Powerwall, a lithium-ion battery system designed to store electricity generated from rooftop solar panels, is widely considered to be a game-changer for the electricity industry. 7.30 has asked consumer group Choice to crunch the numbers. Here's what they found.

While the concept of a home battery storage system is not new to Australians, the Tesla Powerwall unit has been highly anticipated.

The Powerwall is a 7 kilowatt hour (kWh) lithium-ion-battery system that stores electricity generated from rooftop solar panels (or PV panels) during the day so that electricity can be used at night during the peak-usage times.

The system has attracted a cult-like following in recent months after the announcement that Australia would be one of the first countries to have access to it.

The first installations of the Tesla Powerwall are now underway and have a 10-year warranty period.

How does it work?

The battery has a daily cycle, meaning it is designed to charge and discharge each day.

The efficiency of the battery is 92 per cent, so although it has a 7kWh capacity, the Powerwall's working capacity is more like 6.4kWh.

Tesla also has a 10kWh weekly cycle version intended for back-up applications, but it is the 7kWh version you will see in most home installations.

People who already have solar panels will be able to use their own power rather than exporting it to "the grid" — the energy distribution network that carries electricity from power stations to homes and businesses.

One of the Australian providers of the Powerwall, Natural Solar, says that there are only two inverters currently on the market which are compatible with the Powerwall, so most existing solar panel owners will need to obtain a new inverter.

If you do not already have solar panels, the Powerwall can be purchased as part of a complete system that includes solar panels and an inverter.

You will need a solar array large enough to power both your home and charge the Powerwall — for most homes that would mean at least a 4kWh array.

How much does it cost?

If you already have solar panels, the Powerwall and a compatible inverter will cost you between $12,000 and $12,500 depending on which inverter you choose.

Energy companies are selling Powerwall packages for between $13,990 and $16,500 (GST inclusive) and with consideration to rebates for small-scale technology certificates (STCs).

Is the Powerwall big enough to take my house off the grid?

It depends on your energy needs and the number of people in living in your household, but a 7kWh battery is not going to be enough to make most households independent of the electricity grid.

It is possible to install two or more battery units to increase your storage capacity.


Australia 'well equipped' to deal with Zika

As the devastating impacts of Zika virus hit Latin America, Australia is preparing for a potential outbreak.

Health authorities have linked the virus, which in itself is only a mild disease, to microcephaly - which prevents foetus' brains from developing properly.

There is no vaccine, and if a pregnant woman contracts the disease there is a chance their baby could be born with the rare and debilitating condition.

The same species of mosquito that spreads Zika, Aedes, is also found in Far North Queensland, but health authorities say there is little chance of the area suffering a similar outbreak.

Expert on mosquito-borne viruses Dr Cameron Webb spoke to Sky News about the likelihood of an outbreak in Far North Queensland, and said the state is well equipped to deal with the virus.

'We're very fortunate that the authorities in Far North Queensland have a lot of experience dealing with these small outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

'Exactly the same mosquito that spreads dengue fever in Far North Queensland is the species that's spreading Zika virus'.

He said the only threat is if a traveller comes into the area and infects local mosquitoes - but even then it is likely it would be contained.

'Authorities already have strategic framework in place so they can respond, so any outbreak is likely to be very minor.'

However, Dr Webb has warned any women who are pregnant, or who are planning to get pregnant, to avoid regions experiencing the outbreak.

He said if women can't delay their trips they need to take precautions.

'If you are travelling to these areas, if you are a man or a woman, pregnant or not, you should be using mosquito repellants to provide the best protection against these mosquitoes that may be transmitting Zika virus in South and Central America.'


3 February, 2016

Politically correct do-gooder doesn't care about the statistics

But the statistics are the facts of the matter.  And the statistics show that domestic violence is mainly a problem of the poorest suburbs and of Aboriginal communities. Firing scattergun rhetoric at the whole community is misconceived and therefore unlikely to help much.  General Morrison is good at emoting but not good at thinking. 

It's all just show-boating. It's just a way of saying:  "Look at how wonderfully caring I am". If the emoters had any serious desire to reduce domestic violence there are clear measures that would help.  No. 1 would be to put more police into Aboriginal communities.  But you will hear no whiper of a suggestion about that.  It would roughly halve the problem but who cares about blacks?  Not the emoters

Australian of the Year David Morrison has dealt a blow those who deny domestic violence is an epidemic, calling it the 'greatest social challenge in this country'.

He appeared on ABC's Q&A on Monday night alongside other panelists, playing down his recent award saying: 'I was the most surprised person probably on the planet when my name was read out'.

However when asked by an audience member whether controversial former Labor leader Mark Latham was right when he claimed in a podcast on Triple M that domestic violence figures were improving, General Morrison pulled no punches.

'It's not about the statistics, it's about the lives that are being taken and damaged,' Morrison said. 'What do you want to do? You want to compare a particular figure from a year to a year?

'We are as a society becoming more aware of - I think - the greatest social challenge that we face and that is domestic violence in this country,' he added.  'And nothing should be said to take our attention from it.

'Get real Australia. We run the risk of being a nation of bystanders comforted by a few statistics. There are people dying and people whose lives are absolutely ruined as a result of domestic violence and what's more, we are all as a society the victim.

That's bull****,' Morrison said.

He also went on to detail the extent to which first response services were stretched and under-funded.

'We are all stretched to deal with this but if we don't deal with it, what is the legacy we leave for those who follow us?'

'There is no level that's okay,' Australia's Local Hero 2016 Catherine Keenan added.  'Even if it has gone down, it is still not okay. It is still something we have to argue about. There are women dying every day. It is something we have to as a society address.'

Gordian Fulde head of Emergency at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney's Kings Cross and Senior Australian of the Year said the statistics are 'soft'.  This is because so many people who go to hospital don't report their abusers or accept counselling, according to Mr Fulde.


The backlash across Europe to a surging tide of refugees is an opportunity for Australia

Angela Merkel threw open Germany’s doors to refugees half a year ago in a moment of national exuberance. Germans went to the railway stations to welcome exhausted Syrians with flowers.

"If Europe fails on the question of refugees," said the chancellor, "then it won’t be the Europe we wished for." The polls showed public opinion on her side. More than a million refugees entered Germany last year.

Merkel, who was born into repressive East Germany and understands the plight of people fleeing tyranny, was confident.

There was some public anxiety, anger. Assaults of refugees flared. The number of arson and other attacks on asylum seeker accommodation soared to 1,005 last year, a fivefold increase on the year before. Merkel appealed for a solution across all of the European Union governments but held firm: "Germany is a strong country," she said. "We can handle this."

New Year’s Eve in the German city of Cologne marked a turning point in the debate.

The crowd of about 1,000 men who made co-ordinated sexual assaults on women at Cologne railway station generated 560 formal complaints to the police that night.

An internal police report said: "Women, accompanied or not, literally ran a ‘gauntlet’ through masses of heavily intoxicated men that words cannot describe."

Most of the assailants, according to a senior German official, Ralph Jaeger, were Arab or North African. Some were newly arrived. One reportedly told the German police: "You can't touch me. I'm Syrian: Merkel wants me here."

Alan Posener wrote in Britain’s Observer newspaper: "German railway stations were symbols of Willkommenskultur [welcome culture], with crowds welcoming refugees from Syria and elsewhere. Now a station has become a symbol for what some are calling Islamic ‘rape culture’."

News emerged of similar, co-ordinated attacks on the same night in Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden.

Coming after the Paris terrorist attacks last November conducted mostly by immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, these attacks seemed to vindicate the anti-immigration parties and the far-right demagogues.

A backlash is under way. The polls have reversed. Most Germans now oppose Merkel’s stance, and over 60 per cent say the country has too many refugees already.

The general secretary of Merkel’s own party, the Christian Democratic Union, Peter Tauber, has called for 1000 refugees to be deported every day.

And on the weekend the leader of another German political party said that the police should shoot asylum seekers to stop them entering Germany, if that’s what it takes.

The head of the far-right Alternative for Germany Party, Frauke Petry, said that the police must stop refugees crossing into Germany from Austria: "I don't want this either. But the use of armed force is there as a last resort."

She was condemned by other political leaders, but her remarks show how the far right is capitalising on public fear and anger. Merkel has taken a tougher line, saying that refugees who break the law will be deported. She now faces rising opposition in her own party and across Europe.

Across the continent, attitudes have hardened, fences have been built, laws toughened. Germany, Austria, France, Sweden and Denmark have all suspended the Schengen zone system of free movement across borders.

Central Europe's response has been harsh - the "Visegrad group" of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic has been unified in opposing any move to liberalise immigration laws. But xenophobic and far-right parties across Europe are on the rise.

The refugee flow, says Merkel, may be Europe’s "next great project", but it is Europe’s present great crisis.

"It’s always been that nation states have finite boundaries that they defend in some form," says James Jupp, an immigration expert at Australian National University.

"That’s broken down in the EU, which means that the European community starts to break down."

But it’s also much wider than a European phenomenon. There is no precedent since World War Two for the number of displaced people in distress and seeking haven.

"We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said last year.

His commission said that the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 was 59.5 million, an increase of over 8 million in one year. It compares to 37.5 million a decade earlier.

One way of conceiving the scale of the problem – one in every 122 people on the planet is a refugee in her own country or abroad. "If this were the population of a country, it would be the world's 24th biggest," the UNHCR said.

Syria is the biggest new source of refugees, but in the last five years 15 wars have started or resumed, eight in Africa, three in the Middle East, plus the Ukraine crisis in Europe and three in Asia – in Kyrgyzstan, and in parts of Myanmar and Pakistan.

In the face of this rising tide of distressed and displaced people, attitudes everywhere are hardening. It’s no coincidence that Donald Trump’s very first policy announcement in declaring his bid for the presidency was his proposal to wall off Mexico.

Australia, by hardening its borders to refugees two years ago, has been largely immune to the latest global upsurge in asylum seekers.

The Coalition’s boat turnback policy was harsh, ugly and effective, so effective that Labor has now adopted it too. Because of this, Australia is now in a position to make measured responses from a position of strength, by gradually increasing its refugee intake and helping alleviate the greatest human suffering since the Second World War.  [Good point.  Australia could take the most endangered refugees:  Middle-East Christians and Yazidis.  Let Muslims look after their own]


Muslim Brothers arrested in big police raid

Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have these individuals here?

Two brothers accused of standover tactics in Sydney's west have been charged following dramatic scenes that shut down a western Sydney street.

A convoy of police vehicles, including the armoured Bearcat truck, descended on Albert Road at Auburn on Monday afternoon with the focus on a multi-level family home.

Heavily-armed police piled out of the truck and used a megaphone to tell the resident inside to come out with his hands above his head.

Within minutes, Ahmad Abdullah emerged and was handcuffed and placed on his knees on the ground.

Police allege Mr Abdullah, 25, robbed a man of $300 in Guildford on January 10 before going to his home and extorting the man further.

It is alleged the victim had carried out work on the Abdullah home and a dispute stemmed from that.

Mr Abdullah was also the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant for the alleged extortion of a man with cerebral palsy in September, 2013.

It is alleged Mr Abdullah and two others extorted $15,000 cash from the man, who lived in Greystaynes.

Mr Abdullah's brother Mohammad Abdullah, 23, who was arrested at Auburn Police Station on Monday afternoon, has been charged with demand property in company in relation to the January 10 extortion.

At one point Ahmad Abdullah began yelling as police surrounded his home on Monday and Tactical Operations Unit police led him to the other side of the road and made him lay on the footpath.

Two women and children also emerged from the house and sat on the back of the police truck.

The operation played out in full view of a childcare centre across the road.  Many parents were anxiously waiting at the road block at the end of the street for the road to reopen so they could collect their children.

Neighbours say the police have visited the seven-bedroom home, which is currently on the market for $1.5 million, before.

Mr Abdullah was laid with five charges overnight, including take and detain in company with intent to get advantage.


New figures show one in five children starting school don’t have the skills to learn properly

LITERACY levels of Australian children are worsening in a "slow motion disaster", with new analysis revealing one in five children who started school this year already don’t have the skills to learn properly.

The shock finding is contained in yet-to-be-released work by the Centre for Independent Studies that cements the fact a young child’s vocabulary is one of the most powerful predictors of later school success.

But 20 per cent of students, and 30 per cent from disadvantaged areas, don’t understand enough words when they enter school to be able to learn how to read or follow other subjects properly.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has seized on the new findings to call on parents to make reading a priority, saying they have to be part of the solution to Australia’s lagging literacy levels that have fallen behind other countries since 2000.

"We’re absolutely at a critical point where we do need to ensure that Australian parents recognise that they all have responsibilities that sit alongside what happens in an early learning context and in a school environment," Senator Birmingham said.

Centre for Independent Studies research fellow Dr Jennifer Buckingham dubbed the slide in literacy as a "slow motion disaster rolling on" and is working on new analysis for a "Five from Five" launch in March of reading resources for parents, schools and governments.

She said children being read to learnt vocabulary; concepts like "under" and "over"; word sounds and exposed them to new words and meanings that spoken language didn’t.

"They have built up this store of knowledge so that then when they learn to read ... it really is just unlocking the codes to words they already know," she said.

"In the same way you immunise your child against infectious disease, the best way to immunise your child against future reading failure is to read to them every day from a very young age," Professor Oberklaid said.

Professor Oberklaid said it was not about "hot housing" or creating "baby Einsteins", but feeding the developing brain.


2 February, 2016

Lawyers, doctors and public servants in firing line from rise of the machines

I have been hearing this scare for at least 60 years and it never eventuates.  It is true that some jobs become non-existent through automation but, as long as governments don't meddle, new jobs always open up to use the newly-freed labour.  Human services are where the replacement jobs often are -- from computer programming at the high end to waitresses at the low end.  Sadly, many of the new jobs are in government bureaucracies,  with minimal useful productivity

Machines will end about 40 per cent of today's Australian jobs within two decades and they're coming for middle class occupations, one of the nation's automation experts has warned.

University of Sydney professor of data science and machine learning Hugh Durrant-Whyte said Canberra's public servants would be among those in the firing line.

"All jobs that are primarily analysis are capable of automation," he said.  "Those middle jobs will go, the question is whether these people move up to better policy making, or simply out."

Australia was one of the world's largest users of robotics in the mining, transport and agriculture sectors, but the "hollowing out" of middle-tier white collar roles was just beginning, he said.

"The curious thing about automatisation and particularly computerisation is that the jobs that are going are not the ones at the low end of the market, it's the people in the middle like journalists, doctors, lawyers, assistants, bank tellers," he said.

Professor Durrant-Whyte, who will speak in Canberra next month, said machine learning meant computers could now do everything from write reports, sell insurance and constantly monitor and advise on an individual's health.

The professor, 54, was a co-author of the Australia's Future Workforce? report, published by think tank CEDA last year, which said almost 5 million jobs – 40 per cent of the workforce – faced a high probability of being replaced by technology within 20 years, and another 18 per cent had a medium probability of their roles being eliminated.

The challenge was how to prepare people for the top-tier jobs that would remain and be created, not those at the bottom.

A former chief executive of NICTA, the nation's peak information and communications technology research body, Professor Durrant-Whyte backed the federal government's pushing of coding in Australian schools, and said Canberra was as well-placed as any city to adapt to the coming workforce revolution.

"The most important thing you've got is the ANU, you have the capacity not just to think through but act through these sorts of things through the enormous human capacity [there]," he said.

But the Brit, who spent a decade at Oxford before his move to Sydney, said signing up for science, technology, engineering or mathematics degrees was not an answer in itself, with many of those graduates finding it hard to land a related job.

"I think it's more the issue that we need to ensure those people have the transferable skills to apply that STEM knowledge in other wealth creation activities," he said.



Changes to Victoria's bush will have to be accepted under global warming: scientists

This is on the whole broadly sensible but it will be used to justify bans on almost all logging. So timber and paper will have to be almost wholly imported and local livelihoods will be affected in many areas

There will be no choice but to accept permanent changes to Victoria's beloved bushland as climate change worsens, some of the state's leading environmental scientists say.

Accepting those changes could force a rethink of how some areas are protected and restored in order to give Victoria's threatened wildlife species the best chances of survival in warmer conditions.

The need to accept change is one of the main findings of a landmark symposium that drew together research on the pressures global warming is placing on Victoria's unique plants and animals, and what might be done to protect them.

The results of the symposium, held last year, have been turned into a series of 10 measures that scientists say should be taken to lessen the climate blow on nature, which will be released online on Monday under the title VicNature 2050.

They include ramping up many traditional conservation efforts, such as eradicating pest threats, stopping habitat clearing, and the protecting of reserves. But there are limits, and another recommendation says, "we will have no choice but to accept more changes in natural areas than we are accustomed to".

"There is no simple answer. But accepting that some things are going to change is something that has not quite got across to a lot of people yet," Professor Ary Hoffmann, from the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne, told Fairfax Media,.

"There is a mindset that has to shift, that all of a sudden we're not trying to revert things back to a pristine position."

One example raised was whether alpine ash trees should be continued to be reseeded in the Alpine National Park after bushfires, which become more frequent and intense in Victoria under many future climate change scenarios.

To replace dead trees after recent fires, authorities sowed 1800 hectares of alpine ash seeds. But needing 20 years to be fully established, questions were raised at the symposium about whether the same species should be reseeded again if another bushfire wiped the seedlings out.

Professor Hoffmann said that in areas where the alpine ash could still survive it should be protected and restored. But in some places, more fire-resilient tree species might need to be considered in the face of a more frequent fire threat, to ensure continued species habitat.

"We may have to accept the fact there is not much point trying to recreate that environment, and have a debate about what this area should look like so you are still preserving the ecosystem function of those areas," he said.

Evidence presented to the the symposium last year found climate change would by 2050 increase the average temperature of Victoria by 1.5 to 2.5 degrees. This would create similar climate conditions to Wagga Wagga.

Professor Andrew Bennett, an ecologist from La Trobe University and the Arthur Rylah? Institute, said it was still important to ensure existing natural systems were as robust as possible, such as protection of vegetation and eradicating feral pests, to give threatened species the best chance under climate change.

For instance, he said his group's research had shown Victorian bird species had recovered better from the record-breaking millenium drought in areas with well vegetated streams and riversides as opposed to those which were cleared.

Professor Bennett said he took a cautious approach to adopting new wildlife species to prepare for future climates, and the first step should be trials in already cleared areas.

The "managing Victoria's biodiversity under climate change" symposium was organised by the Victorian National Parks Association, the Royal Society of Victoria and the University of Melbourne.


Blackface Aboriginal costume dress up criticized

I can't see who is hurt by this. Are Japanese women who blond their hair offensive?  Are black women who straighten their hair offensive?  There's an old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so this could be seen as a tribute to blacks

TWO partygoers have been labelled "redneck scumbags" after a controversial photo shared on social media showed them dressed as Aborigines with painted black faces.

Victorian woman and indigenous education worker Sis Austin shared images taken from a party at the weekend after confronting the person who uploaded them to social media.

In one picture two men are dressed as Aborigines with their faces painted black.

Another picture taken from the same party shows a woman with a painted black face, dressed like 2000 Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman.

But Daylesford woman Ms Austin ended up on the receiving end and was called a bully and horrible person who should be ashamed of herself for sharing the images.

The two as yet unidentified men had attended an Aussie icon party near Learmonth Football Club in Victoria on Saturday.

The photos were taken by what she calls "people who were her high school friends" and "a few close ones at that".

That changed once she raised the point it was disrespectful to indigenous Australians.

Ms Austin’s post soon went viral and was picked up by high-profile indigenous rapper and Yorta Yorta man Adam Briggs who went on to share the post, and said anyone defending the men can go and "**** themselves".

Briggs described the pair as "redneck scumbags" on Facebook.

But while the hip hop artist ended up getting a lot of support, many jumped to the defence of the men and Briggs ended up on the receiving end himself before shutting them down.

Others also came to Briggs’ defence including hip hop chart toppers The Hilltop Hoods, and indigenous Australian singer/songwriter Thelma Plum who shared the controversial black face image on her social media feeds.

Plum, who called the partygoers "disgusting little boys" also shared their image on her Twitter and Instagram feed, encouraging people to name and shame them.

In an interview with Sky News, the host of the party said the backlash was "political correctness gone wrong" and the men in the photos were his best mates who are "decent Australian blokes".

"People wear Oktoberfest costumes to parties and no one cracks it that they are not German? So what I am saying is I do understand the people who have painted themselves have offended people, although none of them intended that"


How Australia has come out on top in this currency war

'The fall in the Australian dollar has helped support the recovery and restructure the economy, so it is a good example of how a floating exchange rate should act,' says Amplifying Global FX Capital director Greg Gibbs.

'The fall in the Australian dollar has helped support the recovery and restructure the economy, so it is a good example of how a floating exchange rate should act,' says Amplifying Global FX Capital director Greg Gibbs.

The Australian dollar's plunge to a seven-year low is turning out to be a blessing as China steers its slowing economy away from the heavy industries that helped fuel the country's mining boom.

It's more than four years since a record-high Aussie threatened to destroy manufacturing and hamstring the economy. Instead, the currency's steepest three-year slide since it was floated in 1983 is working its magic -- a weaker local dollar has spurred record tourist arrivals and education income. And it's tempered the drag from iron ore's plunge to unprecedented lows while making the nation home to the world's lowest-cost miners.

Australia stands out in getting the currency boost it needs at a time when economies the world over are grappling with exchange rates considered undesirable. The Aussie is in line with economic fundamentals, after being 25 per cent or more overvalued in 2013. China is struggling to curb yuan declines and Saudi Arabia is burning through reserves to maintain its peg to a strengthening greenback. Policymakers in Europe and Japan have pushed interest rates below zero, risking accusations of competitive devaluations.

"The fall in the Australian dollar has helped support the recovery and restructure the economy, so it is a good example of how a floating exchange rate should act," said Greg Gibbs, director of Amplifying Global FX Capital in Colorado, who has spent over two decades in the currency markets including stints at the Reserve Bank of Australia and with lenders in Sydney, New York, London and Singapore.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens stopped calling for a weaker currency in August and subsequent declines drove the Aussie closer to fair value than at any time since the global financial crisis, according to a measure of purchasing power parity based on producer prices.

Stevens pointed in December to new opportunities for growth as Asia's middle class demands more services, energy and food, filling the economic vacuum left by a contraction in mining investment.

The impact of the Aussie's decline has been particularly apparent in the "sizeable contribution" of services exports to growth, the RBA said in November, acknowledging the labor- intensive sector's role in helping to push unemployment to a two-year low.

The currency has also absorbed much of the impact of a more than 60 per cent slide in prices for iron ore and coal from their 2011 highs. Earnings from goods shipments fell just 14 per cent till November from a peak two years earlier, also aided by rising volumes of Australia's main resources as the mining boom's bounty comes on line.

"In many ways Australia has proven to be unbelievably lucky once again," said Klaus Baader, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. The Aussie was high when the country needed to import capital goods to build new mines and now it's fallen "very significantly, which helps to contain production costs and it's contributed to making Australia very competitive even at lower prices."

At 9:00am, the Aussie traded at US70.84¢ having fallen 36 per cent from a post-float record of $US1.1081 reached in July 2011 at the height of the mining bonanza. It averaged more than $US1 for three years to the middle of 2013, spurring Stevens to signal the need for currency depreciation -- and to cut interest rates -- to wean the economy off a dependence on resource-sector spending. Forecasters see it at US69¢ cents by year-end.

The Aussie is 1.2 per cent overvalued according to the purchase price parity (PPP) measure. It reached about fair value at the end of September from being about 30 per cent overvalued as recently as three years ago.

While the RBA's battle with foreign-exchange traders appears to have ended, China's has just begun.

China has run down reserves, squeezed traders in Hong Kong with 67 per cent overnight borrowing costs and used state media to warn speculators, including billionaire investor George Soros, to deter bets on rapid yuan depreciation. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, used 16 per cent of its currency stockpile last year to defend the riyal while Mexico's shrank to a two-year low in November amid intervention to bolster the peso.

Australia's transition toward non-mining activity is synchronised with China's move toward consumer-driven growth, opening up opportunities for the nation's most populous states New South Wales and Victoria, which had been at the periphery of the mining boom, Treasurer Scott Morrison said in last month.

The Aussie's drop "makes us far more competitive," he said. "Our economy is broadening, it's diversifying and this is very important. Our economy in the future, and even now, will be less dependent on one market, one commodity, one part of what we do."


1 February, 2016

Brisbane could rename historically "racist" Boundary streets

This is just a lot  of meddling nonsense.  As the mayor said, almost no-one in Brisbane would be aware of the history concerned.  It is just an attempt to revise history.  Orwell would understand

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk will consider changing the names of Brisbane's Boundary streets, but only if such a change is embraced by the city's indigenous community.

At least one prominent Aboriginal activist, Sam Watson, has rejected the push, saying Boundary Street in both West End and Spring Hill served as a constant reminder of the horrific treatment of the area's original inhabitants.

The inner-city Boundary streets, on either side of the Brisbane River, were so named due to a racist policy that separated European arrivals from the local Jagera and Turrbal [Aboriginal] populations.

Earlier this month, street signs at West End were changed to "Boundless Street" and, since then, an online petition has been set up to call for such a name change to be made official.

Petitioner Michael Colenso said the names were "outdated" and held Brisbane back from "meaningful progression as a city and peoples committed to truthful and respectful harmony".

Cr Quirk said he understood the sentiment, given the shocking treatment Murris suffered at the hands of early European settlers, and would open a dialogue with local elders about a possible change.

"It's a part of our history that there's not too much pride about, but it is a part of our history nonetheless and a reminder of the prejudices that did used to exist and the limitations of freedom that did used to exist for Aboriginal people in our past," he said.

Cr Quirk said before the street signs came down, he would have to discuss the issue with local elders, with whom he met every six to nine months.

One of those elders, Mr Watson, said he wanted Boundary Street to remain as a reminder of Brisbane's bloody past.  "I think it's important that all people walking through Brisbane and along Boundary Street should be aware of the history of it," he said.

"Mainstream Australia, unfortunately, has this tendency to just keep trying to move on from the more unsavoury aspects of their own history. "That might help everyone's peace of mind and make them sleep a little better at night, but it doesn't change the fact that there are very bloody and very ugly segments of our joint history together that should not be ignored. "It should be customarily acknowledged as part of our genuine, true history."

Labor lord mayoral candidate Rod Harding declined to comment on the issue.

Greens lord mayoral candidate Ben Pennings said any change would have to be driven by the local indigenous community.  "It's really important that Brisbane doesn't forget its local history, even though it might make some of us uncomfortable," he said.  "Unless there's a strong and clear call from local Aboriginal people to change street names, we should leave them as they are.

"If we want to get serious about showing respect for Brisbane's Aboriginal community, we need to start a process for signing meaningful treaties and address the local issues directly affecting Aboriginal people."

Cr Quirk said Brisbane City Council would also have to be mindful of the wider community. "Name changes create significant inconvenience among those people as well, in terms of a change to their house address," he said.  "There's consultation that would have to occur on a number of fronts, but if there is a groundswell view that it ought to be looked at, then we can do that.

"But I think the first step is to see whether there is any genuine appetite from the indigenous community themselves."

Not all Boundary streets or Boundary roads in Brisbane had such racist roots as those in Spring Hill and West End, Cr Quirk said.  The Boundary roads in Coorparoo and Oxley, for example, were so named because they ran along suburban boundaries.

As for the inner-city streets, Cr Quirk said there was still a lot of ignorance about what they actually meant.  "I don't think, in truth, many people in Brisbane really understand what Boundary Street means and its significance in terms of its history," Cr Quirk said.


General Morrison: War veterans attack 'sickening' Australian of the Year choice

I thought he was a lightweight with strange priorities from the get-go.  With his waffle and piffle he is certainly not very army.  And army men are noting that.  Army people tend to be practical and down to earth, not purveyers of woolly and self-righteous generalizations -- JR

Anger is growing in the veterans' community over the appointment of former Army Chief David Morrison as Australian of the Year.

Some veterans have accused the retired Lieutenant General of turning his back on Defence personnel, and an online petition is now calling on him to consider resigning his new position.

Petition author and former soldier Geoff Shafran said he was appalled to hear General Morrison nominate a republic as a priority after winning his award, but not the welfare of veterans.

"When you can get on at an Australia Day speech and discuss the republic and not allude to veterans' issues when he had, I think it's 13, soldiers who were actually killed overseas while he was Chief of Army, it's just turning your back on these people — the ones who have come back and are suffering mental and physical issues," Mr Shafran said.  "There is something that is really quite sickening about that."

The 20-year Army veteran said his online petition had already attracted hundreds of signatures from others in the ADF community.

"It's essentially calling for the resignation of David Morrison as Australian of the Year and also for him to relinquish the title of General, because he, in my opinion, demonstrated a lack of leadership by not alluding to veterans issues on his pre-Australia Day speech when he at the same time alluded to the republic," he said.

The Defence Force Welfare Association said it had been inundated with correspondence from members who were angry at General Morrison's approach.

"There seems to be a general view that perhaps he's gone too far in his quest for diversity and respect amongst ADF members who perhaps hold different views on lifestyles and religion and those sorts of issues," DFWA president David Jamison said.

"He's perhaps causing division rather than unity within the ADF and the veteran community."

Mr Jamison said he believed it was now time for General Morrison to reach out to his former colleagues in his new position as Australian of the Year.

"He's got to come out and be a champion for veterans and the nation's obligations to its service people and its former service people," he said.

General Morrison released a statement on Saturday morning saying: "As the grandson and son of veterans and a veteran myself, I care deeply about issues affecting the veteran community.

"I have always supported the veteran community and I will continue to do so in my role as Australian of the Year


China's 'daigou' shoppers leading Australian retail drive

Every day in Australia an unofficial network of Chinese shoppers known as "daigou" buy up tonnes of supplies for friends and family back home.

While baby formula remains their most common purchase, daigou have told Fairfax Media that there is a growing demand for fresh food and, with it, a potential bonanza for farm-gate producers.

Daigou roughly translates as "buying on behalf of" and these shoppers have become notorious for clearing supermarket shelves of baby formula.

One daigou, Sydney-based Sophie He, sends up to 60 tins of baby formula and up to 40 bottles of vitamins to China every week.

Daigou get recommended by word of mouth and gradually build up "trust chains" to buy for more and more people, Melbourne IT consultant Michael Ding says.

And it's a lucrative business. Ms He said she charged her customers 25 per cent of the purchase price.

One Melbourne freight company revealed last year it was sending 20 tonnes of shopping to China every week.

The stock-discussion website HotCopper revealed how profitable working as a daigou can be, with one man claiming to earn $600 a week reselling tins of formula to Chinese customers.

Melbourne-based Vivian Xing uses an app called WeChat to let people know she offers "daigou shopping" services and, for now, is focused on the huge demand for infant formula.

She sends about 20 kilograms of formula a week to people all over China and takes photos of the purchases inside local stores such as Chemist Warehouse or Priceline to prove its authenticity.

Most Chinese don't understand English well enough to order from Australian websites, she says, and they do not trust the online shops set up by A2 or Bellamy's because counterfeiting was rife online.

Australian vitamins are also a big seller, with Ms He doing a steady trade in Swisse, Blackmores and Thompson.

Baby formula and vitamins are Australia's speciality, Ms Xing says, with daigou in Hong Kong and the US providing beauty products and clothing coming from daigou in France. But this is changing, with Chinese ordering more and more clothing and food through daigou in Australia.

Because China's customs clears perishable food quickly, cherries, mangoes and peaches can get to their destination within 72 hours.  Recently Ms He has been buying seafood and Australian-grown fruit from agents who package it up with ice for shipping.

Ms He says she would rather buy directly from the primary producers but Google searches did not reveal any who ship small packages directly to China themselves.

Due to Chinese fears of counterfeit products, particularly in food, daigou want to get as close to the source as possible so they can guarantee provenance.

One Sydney-based woman said she had been sending two-kilogram parcels of cherries for $90, including postage, to her family before Chinese New Year on February 7.

She has struggled to find a direct source of Australian cherries this year and ended up going through an agent she met through friends, she says.

Mr Ding says there would be huge demand for Australian beef, eggs and fresh food if daigou could find reliable direct sources and efficient shipping methods.

And, while Chinese don't trust their local retailers to resell genuine products, they do trust personal connections. And they also trust the daigou's recommendations.


Is it time to turn your back on university?

This seems to be becoming a widespread view -- not before time

ACCESS to higher education used to be considered one of the things that made Australia great, but as demand drops and degrees become less valued, it seems that era is well and truly over.

University enrolment numbers have flatlined, graduate employment last year hit an all time low and employers are going cold on degrees.

Combine this with climbing first year drop out rates and uncertainty over university fee reforms thanks to a stalling government, it seems like there’s never been a better time to turn your back on university.

The Australian Department of Education and Training’s selected higher education statistics, released earlier this week, showed the overall number of new university increased by only 0.1 per cent.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the results had been "anticipated", indicating growth had plateaued, evened out following a surge of "unmet demand".

In interviews, Ms Robinson suggested the Rudd-Gillard government’s university funding scheme had pushed demand for universities beyond their capacities, and that the current government’s campaign around $100,000 degrees may have helped to reduce demand.

It’s not just students that are backing away from university degrees. Earlier this month, international publishing house Penguin Random House joined the ranks of major consulting firms Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers, dropping degrees as a requirement for job applicants.

In Australia, some smaller employers are shifting away from hiring graduates or university students altogether, believing kids are coming out of university with "no real skills" or simply being taught the wrong things.

In an earlier interview with Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Kate Carnell said employers found 20-somethings were more qualified than ever before. Graduates were showing up to work with degrees from universities that were "disconnected with the workforce", she said.

"A number of our members consistently tell us they’re seeing students come out of university or training programs and they might have the academic or theoretical skills, but no skills to work at all. It makes them really hard to employ," she said.

And just as employers are being turned off graduates, students are seeing very little incentives to complete their studies with university graduate salaries going down.

The shift in demand for university education is sending a message to institutions and heralding change for career-seekers and employers.

In an interview with ABC radio, deputy vice chancellor of Deakin University and fellow of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Beverley Oliver, said tertiary education providers were getting the message, and adjusting their courses to meet new expectations from students and the changing workforce.

"I think the sector has made great changes over the last 15 years, particularly making sure the degree is a signifier of more than just marks and grades," she said.

"I don’t think it’s an indictment, I think it’s a signal and we should use it to improve what we do. We can always improve what we do and of course employers can as well."

Advocates of alternative educational pathways like apprenticeships and workplace learning are cheering at the apparent shift away from reliance on universities.

For those who are continuing to pursue a university education, the federal education minister has a word of advice.

"Australians must think carefully about the courses they enrol in to ensure they are entering a course that they are not only passionate about but that has a job at the end," senator Simon Birmingham said.

While encouraging new figures show those who found work four months out of university had grown slightly on last year’s, about one-third of graduates did not immediately find a job.


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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