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

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


31 January, 2016

The most surprising things about Australia, according to an Indian international student

It will be a bitter pill for Leftists, but this guy finds Australia not racist at all.  From reports in the Indian press, which were mainly recycled Australian journalism, he had expected a lot of racism.  And it is no mystery why. A couple of years ago there were a lot of reports of Indians in Australia being attacked.  What the reports covered up was that almost all of the attacks were by Africans.  Australians as a whole were disgraced  in the name of political correctness.  For their own safety, Indians should simply have been told to avoid Africans

Hailing from Chennai in southern India, he has studied in India, Canada for three years and has been studying in Australia for almost a year.

Here’s what has surprised him most about Australia since he moved here.

Australians aren’t racist, they’re friendly.

Reports of racism and assaults on Indian students have made their way back to India, Shiva said when his family and friends found out he was coming to Australia they warned him about the violence.

However, Shiva said his experience has been the exact opposite: "People are very friendly".

"I was given lots of advice from India that you are going to Australia just make sure that you’re not being attacked or be a victim of racism," he said.  "I don’t find any of that type of nonsense here, people are really friendly."

Shiva said he hasn’t been a victim of racism and it really depends on the company you keep.  "It depends on the friends that you make and the places you visit," he said.

Australian girls are really friendly.

"Australian girls are really, really fun, they crack lots of jokes… even when you’re meeting for the first time," he said.

"In India, there’s a barrier when you’re talking from a girl. If you’re hailing from a very orthodox family you are not supposed to talk to a girl."

But Shiva said that is starting to change as India becomes increasingly westernised.

"People are coming out of those barriers," he said.

"For me while I was studying at college in India I faced that barrier. I was unable to talk to a girl so freely as I am talking to you and other people in Canada and Australia."

Working part-time in Australia pays good money.

While Shiva’s current study timetable means he cannot work at the moment, he has had a couple of part time jobs and was surprised how good the pay was.

"I’ve tried a lot of jobs, I’ve been a personal assistant to a top executive," he said.

"They pay me really good money like $28 to $32 per hour.

"I was really surprised because when I compared the market with the US and Canada I think Australia has better compensation and it’s really understandable because living in Australia is surging everyday, it’s really tough to keep up with the cost of living in Australia.

The beaches are extraordinary.

Taking a trip to an Australian beach was one of Shiva’s most memorable experiences.

"I’ve been to the Northern Beaches [of Sydney] and they’re really, really nice," he said.

"They’re really beautiful, I was totally crying when I was standing inside the lake walking literally to the middle of the lake and it’s not deep.

"The beaches are clean, compared to India where the beaches are not clean."

It’s surprisingly different to Canada.

Shiva thought Australia would be similar to Canada, when he arrived he was surprised it was very different.

"It’s more international, Canada is more like white people, there’s more Americans and Canadians but here in Australia the first thing I noticed is it’s very diverse in culture. You have loads of Chinese people, you have loads of Indians, lots of German people, French people, and everyone else, it’s all over the place," he said.

"In India you have different cultures but from the same country. Australia has more international cultures."

Being vegetarian means something else.

Shiva describes himself as a "pure vegetarian", what he means is according to Indian standards he’s a vegetarian but in Australia his eating habits are actually vegan.

He was also surprised by how much bread Australians eat and how breakfast is very different in Australia, "people eat a traditional breakfast whereas Indians we prefer a warm Indian breakfast. It took some time for me to get used to that".

All the differences and Australia’s high cost of living means Shiva now cooks for himself a lot more.

"I’m an excellent cook, he said. "I don’t need to find a girl."

Everyone shortens everything.

Shiva’s full name is Shivaramakrishnan Ramamoorthy, but he says it’s easier to shorten his name to Shiva in Australia.

"People would raise their eyebrows and have no idea what I was talking about but that’s my name!" he said.

"I kept my preferred name as Shiva, even on Facebook, so people don’t get afraid of my name.

"But they still shorten my name…[Australians] they shorten everything, they shorten it further. I usually say to people ‘Hi my name is Shiva but you can call me SRK or Shiv’."

It’s far less crowded than home.

Shiva estimates the population of his home town in India is roughly the same population as Sydney.

He’s not far off either but the big difference is the population of Sydney is spread out over an area which is about 67 times larger than Chennai.

"In India everything is crowded, you can’t even find a space to park your car or your to wheeler, your bike."

Aussies are afraid of spiders and cockroaches.

Back in India Shiva said he "used to play with them". "People are so afraid of spiders [in Australia]. I’ve even heard about people dying from spiders, if I say that to my parents they will laugh at me."

"I’ve seen people going crazy… it’s just a cockroach, it just goes by," he said.

There’s less respect for elders.

Australian Shiva is very different to Indian Shiva, he said when he returns home it takes four or five days to settle back into the customs and expectations of his home country.

"When I’m in Sydney it’s a completely different Shiva that you will see," he said.

"In Chennai you need to be more respectable to your parents, over here people really don’t care who the hell you are.

"If I say ‘mum I like this girl I want to marry her’ she will probably say ‘I don’t like that girl’… the culture is more parent dominating rather than giving freedom to the children.

"Over here I find that completely different it’s up to the choices of people."

It’s easier to get a visa in Australia compared to Canada or the US.

Shiva said he’s found it much easier to get a student visa in Australia. He began trying to come to Australia after his visa application was rejected in Canada in the US.

Studying in Australia is relaxing.

Shiva said he’s "more relaxed studying in Australia" compared to India, where he found the courses more intensive.

"Over here [in Australia] they say intensive courses but for me it’s like a piece of cake," he said.

Professors are approachable.

"The professors here are much more friendly," Shiva said. "In India if I even had to speak to a lecturer or a principal it takes lots of respect and effort to meet them."

Shiva said if he did manage to meet his lecturers in India they would dismiss him saying "what’s going on you’re a student just focus on your studies" whereas in Australia he said "they’re welcoming that approach from students, they’re really encouraging students to perform well, they’re really supportive here".

He said it comes back to the culture of having to "respect your elders".

The changes in political leaders are really confusing

Shiva said he doesn’t like politics in Australia and has trouble understanding how it all works.  "Yesterday it was Julia Gillard and tomorrow morning it was Tony Abbott, I don’t know what the hell was going on," he said.

Shiva’s next adventure is to Norway in December.


Australia's coal-fired power stations at risk of 'death-spiral' - report

This is mostly nonsense.  The idea that "renewables" compete with thermal coal is a laugh.  They are just an unreliable luxury of very little actual use. They CANNOT supply predictable power.

Competition from gas may be a problem but gas prices are in flux so we will have to wait and see on that one.  Gas prices differ widely in different parts of the world so arbitrage must come into play eventually.

The cheapest electricity in Australia has always come from Victoria's brown coal generators in the Latrobe vallety, but they are hated by Warmists -- and a proposed new one was made unviable by environmental requirements in the Gillard years.  Germany is however building a heap of brown coal generators so a return to brown coal in Australia seems likely.  It is undoubtedly the cheapest option

Brown coal deposits are frequently close to the surface so big digging machines just scrape it up and feed it onto a conveyer belt to the power station next door, which is very efficient.  No miners and no trucks needed

Australia's power sector is at risk of a "utility death spiral" due to its reliance on coal, along with utilities in the US, Japan and Germany, according to a report highlighting the environmental-related risk of coal producers.

Additional pressures on the coal industry is coming from the shift by countries such as China and India to rely on domestic sources for coal, rather than imports, to feed their surging demand for electricity generation.

The report, by the University of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise, pointed to the emergence of renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind, along with competition from gas as additional pressures for the sector.

Other issues include water stress, concerns over air pollution, changes to government policies and the challenge of carbon capture and storage technology, the report noted.

A 'death spiral' occurs as new energy sources take market share from coal-fired power stations, forcing stations to close while also undermining the economics of the centralised electricity grid by forcing higher distribution charges, according to the report.

The use of so-called 'sub-critical' coal-fired power stations which are poor converters of energy from coal into electricity, use high volums of water for cooling and release high levels of carbon emissions puts the utilities and coal companies at particular risk in countries such as Australia, according to work by the group.

That risk declines with the use of new generation technology, so-called "super-critical" power stations, which are more expensive to build.

The report comes after US energy giant ExxonMobil this week predicted that global demand for coal would peak in about 2025 and then fall into terminal decline.

In contrast to coal's decline, demand for natural gas would increase by 50 per cent over the next 26 years, ExxonMobil predicted in its  2016 Outlook for Energy report.


Turnbull and Morrison: daring to be brave

Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have been handed their 2016 election campaign against Labor — that it is an unreconstructed "tax and spend" party from the Rudd/Gillard years not to be trusted with the economy.

That is the negative message and it will be powerful. The positive message is more difficult and yet to be decided. But the Turnbull/Morrison aspiration is apparent — to run on a major tax reform package that includes a higher GST, reforms to superannuation concessions, significant personal income tax cuts, lower company tax and compensation for welfare and low-income earners.

Whether they take the high road of courage and risk depends, above all, on the government’s standing over the next few months and the authority of the Prime Minister in the country against ALP leader Bill Shorten.

The rolling tax debate has unnerved some government backbenchers.

But if the early 2016 polling reveals Turnbull’s lead sitting at 53-54 per cent of the two-party preferred vote the greater risk will be damage to his authority by retreat to a "safety-first" agenda.

That would leave a re-elected Turnbull government devoid of any meaningful mandate to confront the immense challenges facing Australia, a recipe for post-election weakness and misery.

"Changes to the GST are certainly part of the tax debate and certainly being actively considered by the government as it should be," Turnbull said yesterday. He said the argument for a change to the GST was a tax system that better boosted growth and jobs. It is also the Treasurer’s mantra.

With Morrison having declared last Sunday it was a "fantasy" to think taxing multinationals would solve all our tax problems, that he wanted a "strong mandate" at the election and that on the arithmetic only a GST can finance genuine income tax relief, Turnbull and Morrison are talking up the courage option. The longer this happens, the more difficult the price of retreat.

Turnbull and Morrison both prefer a full-term, say September/October, election. Only Senate irresponsibility on the industrial bills might force them to rethink for a winter poll (the real early election option). The major tax package is more likely to be unveiled closer to the election. They realise the prize — re-election on a substantial tax reform as part of an economic growth strategy — will likely lay the foundation for a long-run Coalition government.

The authority of Morrison as a new Treasurer is pivotal in this high-stakes play. Morrison cannot look weak. He cannot lose the confidence of financial markets and the broader community. He cannot, as Treasurer, play a long, cautious game on fiscal repair (as he has decided) and also duck the policy reform task when the government is riding high in the polls.

With Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey liquidated because their courage was not matched by their political skill, Morrison knows he must find a path that unites policy strength and political success.

The Treasurer juggles two messages — trying to display policy leadership but keep open his options since no final decisions have been taken. Morrison needs to stay close with Turnbull and ensure they act in unison.

But the logic of being Treasurer in 2016 is to command the reform heights — if Morrison is the driver of a major reform that delivers a re-elected Turnbull government then his authority as Treasurer will rise immeasurably along with Turnbull’s as PM.

For Morrison, being a successful reformist Treasurer is the only route available to the Liberal leadership and the prime ministership. Caution all-round is simply not an option for his future success.

Turnbull and Morrison have no intention of committing electoral suicide. You can assume if they take the path of major tax reform the pre-election tax tables will show all income groups are winners except perhaps the top end.

Labor’s pledge to honour the full Gonski school funding agenda — an extra $4.5 billion over the forward estimates and $37bn over the decade — was nicely timed for the return to school and badly timed given Treasury secretary John Fraser’s warning to the political class about Australia’s unsustainable spending levels.

Morrison and Turnbull have defined the election battle. "Labor’s plan is to spend more and to tax more," Morrison told Inquirer. "This is a reckless position given these uncertain global economic times. We have a very clear difference between the sides — the Labor Party has a tax and spend approach. It is funding new education spending through tax measures that will only increase the structural problems in the budget that we now have."

Labor is chained to the Rudd/Gillard era in its policy and political outlook. Deluded by the belief that the Rudd/Gillard agenda was correct Shorten is running on big social spending programs, higher taxes and more class-based redistribution, an approach that may consolidate the ALP base but leaves Labor chronically weak in the centre ground against Turnbull.

By defining his campaign as being against Labor’s "tax and spend" agenda Morrison increases his internal policy leverage.

He wants to achieve a tax package that has "room" for substantial income tax relief and also impose discipline on ministers who merely seek to follow Labor down the social spending path.

"Labor has no aspiration to relieve the personal income tax burden on working Australians," Morrison said. "They have no empathy with the plight of people paying higher and higher taxes."

This slots into Morrison’s argument last Sunday when he attacked the hypocrisy in a public debate obsessed about compensation for any GST increase but that ignores the plight of workers being forced into higher income tax brackets. "What about the compensation for people who are running businesses, going to work every day," he asked.

Morrison has laid down three benchmarks — tax reform is about growth and jobs and not about having higher taxes to fix the deficit; that serious income and company tax relief can only be achieved by GST reform such as a lift to 15 per cent; and that he will deliver a long-run incremental trajectory to deficit reduction that keeps our AAA-credit rating.

The Treasurer operates deep in the shadow of Abbott and Hockey and is anxious to avoid another "busted promises" fiasco. As a result, he puts a priority on either having a mandate for post-2016 election policy or ensuring options are not ruled out in the campaign.

That will be a daunting task — it means being honest with the public in a campaign about the long-run budget position. Both sides of politics have credibility problems with the budget though Labor’s problem is greater.

The speech from Treasury secretary Fraser on Thursday night saw an explanation, yet again by a Treasury chief, that Australia is living beyond its means and that today’s generation in an act of selfishness is spending big and asking its children to pay the bill. Conducting such extravagance in the name of "equity" only inflates the offence.

Fraser said the "greater share" of the budget problem is structural. Since the early 2000s commodities boom the nation has made too many permanent spending decisions off the back of temporary revenues. On current trends the spending-to-GDP ratio will fall from 25.9 per cent to 25.3 per cent over four years — modest progress if it happens. But Fraser warned that "spending will not get below 25 per cent at any time over the next decade" and 25 per cent is a historically high level.

In short, the outlook is not good enough: the political class, Liberal and Labor, is failing the nation. Australia is slowly sinking into a debt risk situation. New spending commitments remain an addiction with public expectations divorced from reality. Labor’s contribution this week with its Gonski pledge — funded "in full and on time" according to Shorten — is applauded by the education sector (what else would it say?) and proof that Labor has failed to learn the lessons from Rudd/Gillard economic failures.

Asked how he would pay for the full restoration of Julia Gillard’s Gonski funding, Shorten pointed to Labor’s tax crackdown on multinationals, its tobacco tax and its attack on superannuation tax concessions. "The top end of town aren’t paying taxes," Shorten said. He gifts Turnbull and Morrison their "tax and spend" attack.

Labor says it has provided for $70bn of "saves" over the decade but they are overwhelmingly via tax increases.

About $48bn of the total comes from the tobacco tax alone — a classic case of using a diminishing revenue base over time to fund a permanent spending commitment. The absolute key to grasping what is happening is that the Gillard government, in its outcomes, chose to prioritise vast new spending agendas (notably Gonski and the NDIS) over the return to budget surplus. Labor has not changed its priorities.

The Gillard government relied upon the false assumption spending would be held to 2 per cent real growth each year for a decade. Fraser said this week that since 2007 spending had grown in real terms about 3.5 per cent annually.

Labor’s technique was to structure its programs with the big spends beyond the forward estimates and this week’s Gonski decision reveals its determination to honour such funding and re-run the same political battle.

Meanwhile Turnbull, aware that fiscal responsibility is also his vulnerability, said yesterday the May budget would be "tight" for "tight financial times". "This is not going to be a fistful of dollars election campaign, from us, anyway," Turnbull said.

Whether cabinet keeps its nerve in the teeth of Labor’s big spending is another matter. But Morrison will be delighted that Turnbull has declared the May budget to be "tight". The government’s problem in attacking Labor’s fiscal credibility remains its own fiscal credibility.

Interviewed by 3AW’s Neil Mitchell yesterday Turnbull struggled on the "return to surplus" issue saying it was "a long way off" but refused to concede a future 10 years of deficits. Turnbull needs to watch the populists and intellectuals on the Right. They dispute his strategy, oppose GST reform and demand deeper and faster spending cuts, a stance unlikely to translate into a viable position for the election year.

These coming decisions constitute the moment of truth for Turnbull. He must decide — to paraphrase John Howard on leadership — what are the enduring four or five ideas he will embrace as a conviction leader to change the nation? Having decided, he must take the risk and back his judgment at the 2016 poll.

Given no tax decisions have yet been taken, there are some pointers to Morrison’s thinking. He would prefer a lift in the GST rate to a major expansion in its base and, in effect, has ruled out an expansion into health and education. He is prepared to tackle "excesses" in the super system by remodelling tax on the contributions side. While a strong supporter of negative gearing for mainstream Australia and calling it a "valid chance" for many people, he is prepared to look at reforms to limit "excessive" gains.

If Turnbull and Morrison bite the bullet the progressive side of politics — Labor, the Greens and the trade unions — will seek to turn the election into a referendum on the GST.

Their ability to do this should not be underestimated. At that point the issue becomes much bigger: it is whether the cause of reformism can prevail after a decade of retreats or whether yet another reform agenda is vanquished with dangerous consequences for the country.


Record number of students in higher education in 2015

The Coalition Government has overseen the biggest jump in Indigenous higher education enrolments in nearly a decade according to new student data released today that also highlights record overall enrolment numbers and increases in enrolments of regional and low socio-economic students.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said despite the Labor Party’s fear campaign about the cost of university degrees, the new data shows more than 1.2 million students were enrolled in higher education in the first half of 2015, up 3.1 per cent on the same period last year.

Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government is committed to seeing more students enjoying the benefits of high quality tertiary education, while ensuring the higher education sector remains fair and affordable.

"This data shows Australians are continuing to enrol in record numbers in higher education institutions, despite the Labor Party’s best efforts to scare students about the costs of higher education," Minister Birmingham said.

"Instead we’re seeing more students enrol than ever before, with strong growth in enrolments from Indigenous students and students from regional areas – who together make up nearly one in five of all domestic enrolments.

"The value of higher education is clear as the new stats show university graduates have an unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent, compared with an overall rate of 5.9 per cent."

Minister Birmingham said it was encouraging that the number of Australians who had attained a job in the first four months out of education had risen to 68.8 per cent, but the report still highlighted that one third of those finishing an education did not immediately get a job.

"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," Minister Birmingham said.

"We also must ensure that the record number of students who are enrolling are being encouraged and supported to complete their degrees – and not just another number on a seat.
"Recent attrition rates show that almost 15 per cent of these Australians do not progress to their second year. Universities must take responsibility for those students they choose to enrol and ensure they have the capabilities and support to succeed.

"The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring our innovative institutions are delivering the world-class higher education that students want and to produce the skilled, job-ready graduates that Australian industry and business needs.

"I am currently consulting with the higher education sector, my parliamentary colleagues, students and their families about how to not only ensure higher education remains sustainable in the long term but how to ensure more Australians who start a course, finish and end up in the workforce."

Minister Birmingham said Higher Education annual funding had increased over the past five years from $12.5 billion to over $16 billion today. 

"While the demand driven system has provided unprecedented access and must continue to be protected it has come at a significantly higher cost to the taxpayer," Minister Birmingham said.

"The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring the system remains sustainable while continuing to support excellence, diversity and opportunity for all Australian students."

Key findings from the new data include:

·         growth in Indigenous students up 7.6 per cent

·         growth in regional student enrolments up 2.6 per cent, representing 18.6 per cent (nearly one-in-five) of the total domestic student population (up from 16.7 per cent in 2006)

·         increase in students from low socio-economic backgrounds up 3.8 per cent

·         strong continued growth in health-related courses, up 7.3 per cent on the same period in 2014, and up 81.7 per cent on same period in 2006

·         mixed outcomes in students participating in STEM subjects – engineering and related technology studies up 0.9 per cent while IT down 0.4 per cent.

Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government was committed to ensuring students graduating from secondary school and university had the skills to succeed in a more competitive, globalised world.

"The lack of growth in the number of students studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in this publication highlights the importance of the Turnbull Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda," Minister Birmingham said.

"That’s why we are investing more than $112 million in the education components of our National Innovation and Science Agenda to drive interest in digital literacy and STEM subjects so Australians are prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead."

Press release

Some NSW universities will admit anyone

We see here how the numbers above were achieved.

Regional NSW universities are admitting more than 70 per cent of students who have not scored the minimum marks required to get into courses such as business and law, new data from a Fairfax Media investigation into university admissions has revealed.

The latest set of statistics also shows that the University of Technology Sydney is routinely admitting students below the advertised cut-off. Most are being being admitted through bonus point schemes in courses such as business and combined law.

UTS' bachelor of advanced science course, which students undertake before entering the nation's top medical faculties, has offered 85 per cent of places to high school students who failed to score the minimum 96.9 ATAR.

Out of the relatively small candidature of 14, only two passed the required mark in the prestigious course. Within the university's much larger bachelor of business cohort of 462 high-school graduates, 70 per cent of students did not make the advertised grade.

"Looking at the entry policies of universities right now, flexible is not the right word – they are endlessly elastic," said Richard Hil, a university admissions researcher from Griffith University.

"We have been concerned about regional universities for a long time, but what is really surprising is the numbers in the more well-known group of eight," he said.

An ATAR [Australia Tertiary Admissions Rank] is awarded to more than 50,000 NSW high-school students in December each year. Universities set an ATAR cut-off according to what they believe is the minimum academic standard required to complete a course, as well as supply and demand for the degree.

UTS provost Professor Peter Booth said places at UTS are offered mainly to high-school applicants who have satisfied ATAR cut-offs, unless there are specific course requirements or they are considered as part of special access schemes.

"The claim that a large number of admissions don't meet the cut-off is incorrect and don't take account of the well-known above adjustments, the details of which are publicly available to applicants."

But the release of the data this week has revealed that the published ATARs for prestigious degrees across the sector rarely reflect the actual quality of the candidature as whole, with regional universities continuing the state-wide trend.

At the University of Wollongong, more than three-quarters of places in some of its courses were offered to students whose ATAR ranks were below the advertised cut-off.

Almost 75 per cent of places in arts/law were offered to students below the ATAR cut-off of 90, and several were more than 20 points below the minimum mark.

Hundreds of offers have been made to school-leavers with ATAR scores 20–30 – and in some cases 40 – points below the stated cut-off for courses at the university, which is 80 kilometres south of Sydney. It has made 6000 offers this year.

UoW's deputy vice-chancellor, Joe Chicaro, said the students had been admitted through alternative entry schemes which took into account factors such as discipline, personal circumstances and school recommendations.

At the University of Newcastle more than 60 per cent of main round admissions for the bachelor of civil engineering scored below the ATAR cut-off of 80. More than half of nursing and chemical engineering admissions were below the minimum standard.

The University of Newcastle said in a statement that the ATAR is simply one component of the judgement made about the capacities and potential of a prospective student.

"A raw ATAR is one measure and does not take account of the many factors that may determine whether an applicant should be admitted to a particular university degree, which include subject choices, geographic location, the results of interviews, school recommendations, auditions and portfolios," it said.

Academics have cited the lack of transparency around alternative entry schemes as a key issue as they look to move beyond the ATAR.

"The system is not satisfactory – that is why we are moving away from it," said UNSW dean of law David Dixon.

"People realise we need to do something different, there is a patchwork of additional point schemes. We need to have a system which is much more clear to everyone about what is happening."


29 January, 2016

Feminist oppression

Below is a note from a correspondent who works as a counsellor

The husband of a couple that I have not been personally involved with but have been doing some peripheral admin for their case, shot himself last week. His wife is a feminist pushing for her "rights" and "entitlements", together with other feminists working in welfare who advocate for her and bend the rules of entitlement for her. I needn't go into details but it could be classified as fraud and rorting.

He went along with it because he was elderly and tired and could see no other option, until last week when he decided to get out of the situation by suicide.

In some ways it relates to what Mark Latham said about the emasculation of men relating to men's violence, including misplaced or inverted violence against themselves.

Severe feminists do not lose arguments in their marriages; they win, one way or another. They seize control, and that leaves the man in a powerless situation, and if pressurised he may express
his masculinity in what seems the only avenues left to open to him.

I wish I had been working personally with him; his death might not have happened. But we live and learn. In retrospect I can see the ingredients in the admin details and I hope I will recognise their like when I see them again. It is so easy to miss such things though.

David Morrison is another hectoring activist of the year

A nonentity with nothing original to say

What’s wrong with Australia? After 228 years, the only thing we can think of to celebrate this ­nation’s great achievements, and the liberation of its native inhabitants from the Stone Age, is the appointment of a tin soldier who excoriates us for sexism, family ­violence and lack of patriotism.

Does an ever-­upward but otherwise unremarkable military career (until he delivered a speech written for him by a transsexual Twitter troll and fellow AOTY nominee) really fall within the category of "outstanding achievement" ­envisaged by the National Australia Day Council for an Australian of the Year?

Yet it seems David Morrison is now to be turned loose on the country, licensed to lecture and hector all and sundry for their failure to conform to his barrack-­room discipline on social stan­dards. As a lieutenant-general, Morrison might have passed ­unnoticed onto the retired list but for his 2013 outburst in a video clip applauded by the usual coterie of feminists, left-wing ideologues and the campaigning broad­casters of the ABC.

What we don’t hear often are the voices saying that Morrison demoralised the army with his "feminisation" of the service, which scandalously included taxpayer-­funded sex change operations. Or that his concerns about gender ­bashing came very late in his career. The enthusiasm for his YouTube clip effectively snuffed out any analysis of the Morrison style: the fierce, almost jihadist ­fanaticism in his eyes, the tigh­tened facial muscles, what might be taken to be a self-righteous vindictiveness lurking in his delivery.

Those who puzzled as to why the Chief of Army needed to deal so publicly with an internal disciplinary matter involving spotty cadets and a hidden video camera might just have glimpsed the ­unleashing of a political ambition fettered for four decades by military discipline.

On Monday night, as the rain came down in Canberra, Morrison did it again, let it all out.

Since when is the Australian of the Year, an unelected citizen, ­empowered to undertake a self-appointed role as a social and political activist? Listen: "Too many Australians are denied the opportunity to reach their potential. It happens because of their gender, the god they believe in, because of their racial heritage, because they’re not able-bodied, because of their sexual orientation."

Diversity and equality are to be his watch­words. And with a flat criticism of the alleged but easily explainable 17.8 per cent "gender wage gap", he signalled an intemperate foray into the equal­ pay issue. That should earn him little thanks from the government.

Then there was his declaration of support for the republic movement, with this fatuous contribution: "It is time at least to revisit the question so we can stand both free and fully independent among the community of nations."

At least he stopped short of calling Australia a pariah state.

Throughout its history, the Australian of the Year award has been controversial. Since 1979 it has zig­zagged, from recognising inter­national achievement, to eminent Australians, to popular sportsmen and entertainers, then to promotion of multiculturalism and reconciliation, more recently to what might be termed social ­reconstruction.

In 2010, Professor Patrick McGorry’s campaign for youth mental health reform; Simon McKeon, in 2011, promoted World Vision, ending global poverty and MS research. In 2013, Ita Buttrose spent an active year on behalf of Alzheimer’s victims, arthritis, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. Two years ago, 2014 saw Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes kick along indigenous issues, but ultimately it ended with an own goal.

Who decides the tone and character of the award? Nomi­nally, it falls to the National Australia Day Council board, which constitutes the judging panel. Since 1990, the board chairmen have been: John Newcombe, Phillip Adams, Kevan Gosper, Lisa Curry Kenny, Adam Gilchrist, and now Ben Roberts -Smith.

The present board of the council is widely drawn, but ­hardly outstanding: Ms Robbie Sefton, Tamworth, director of a rural public relations company; Ms Janet Whiting, Melbourne lawyer, president of the National Gallery of Victoria; Professor Samina Yasmeen, Centre for Muslim States and Societies, University of WA; Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Jason Glanville, ­Wiradjuri member; Norman Schueler, company director, SA, vice president of the Council of Australian Jewry; and Dr Susan Alberti, business­woman, Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation.

The board is constrained by the nominations received from the states, and it seems that these have been determined by interests with specific agendas.

There were 34 nominations for the 2016 AOTY, including seven doctors or medical specialists,?six humanitarians, five human rights activists/lawyers, four artists/journa­list (Peter Greste)/actors, three ­diver­sity/equality people,?three Aborigines, one scientist, and one cul­­tural leader (Brendan Nelson of the Australian War Memorial). These largely smack of people out to change the world, not achievers to be recognised for their contribution to Australia. No industrialist, no business leader, no inventor or innovator, nobody from the rural communities.

The time has come to ask: Who is skewing this game? Is government using the appointment to do some of its social reforming on the sly? The award has always been seen as a non-event by the vast bulk of the population, interesting only when it generated controversy. It has abandoned the achiever and role model categories. Now it’s in danger of crippling itself in political activism.

Already there are signs Morrison’s campaign speeches on diversity and equality will drip nicely into the maudlin puddle of the elite’s loathing for all things they associate with Australians of less worth and intellect than themselves. Morrison will have the microphone and podium for the next 12 months. Best ignore him.


Why the new push for an Australian republic is doomed to fail

What passes for a new debate about a republic is a shallow fraud built on zero substance.  No clarity on what exactly the reformers want and why

Paul Sheehan

I have no problems with Australia becoming a republic. I also think this is the majority view. I do have problems with middlebrow megaphones.

The current debate, if you could call it that, about a republic is a fraud. Australia is not going to become a republic while self-appointed Dumb and Dumber are trying to dominate the process.

Let's look at the first attempt: Dumb. The agitation for a referendum began a quarter of a century ago in 1991, after it became Labor policy. Within months the Australian Republican Movement was set up. It made its first mistake by appointing the novelist Tom Keneally as its first head. Keneally is a delightful man but his appointment introduced a subtext of Irish versus English into the argument, which would be exacerbated later by the inevitable acidity of Paul Keating.

What followed was a cascade of errors for the republic case. There was much misguided contempt for existing constitutional arrangements. There was gratuitous contempt for the British royal family. After Prime Minister John Howard established a Constitutional Convention, held in 1998, the republican model that emerged was a doomed pastiche.

The referendum was an abject defeat, despite the support of former prime ministers Keating, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser and unceasing cheerleading by the media.

When the people voted, the republic case was smashed. It lost in every state. It lost the national vote by a landslide, 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Now comes a sequel, which brings us to Dumber.

The logic, as far as I can tell, is that Australia now has a Prime Minister who championed the republic cause during the 1999 referendum as head of the Australian Republican Movement. Therefore, one plus one equals two.

Malcolm Turnbull, however, has never been accused of being dumb, let alone dumber.

He has become much more politically adroit than he was 18 years ago. As such, he is keeping at arms' length from the Dumber sequel. As he said on Australia Day: "Frankly, there was more [republican] momentum in the late '90s than there is now."

The Prime Minister also pointed out that there is already a pre-existing log of national matters in the pipeline. First is a plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Then there is constitutional recognition of the Indigenous people.

The recognition process has become so mired that it has gone through four prime ministers and shows no prospect of even getting to the starting gate, let alone passing at a referendum.

The detail is difficult. It is make-or-break.

This time around, the Labor national leader lending his name to the republic push is Bill Shorten. He wants to appear more decisive and progressive than Turnbull on the issue. But Shorten is, politically, a dead man walking. His opportunism here is also naked. Turnbull, not Shorten, has done the heavy lifting for a republic.

The Dumber version, learning nothing, is again indulging in celebrity and mockery. Queen Elizabeth II is irrelevant to the process. She should be left out of it. So, too, is Prince Charles.

At the centre of the Dumber sequel is the insulting recycled claim that Australia is an insecure nation for having a foreigner as head of state and will not be a whole democracy until the British monarch is removed from the constitution. I wish people would stop projecting their own insecurities onto the nation.

It has long been an iron convention of Australian politics that the head of state, in practice, is the Governor-General. For more than 50 years, only Australians have served as Governor-General, and that, too, has become an iron convention.

Conventions are not expendable. They are core to the operation of the Constitution. The central role of political parties, for example, is based on conventions, not the Constitution.

Far from suffering from democratic cringe, Australia is one of the world's oldest, most stable and adaptable democracies. That democratic evolution is now almost 200 years old. The first Parliament in Australia, the NSW Legislative Assembly, can trace its roots back to 1823. Few nations have democratic continuity longer than this.

Crucially, the Dumber republic push does not even have a model for constitutional change, or a process for creating a model. Without a model, there is nothing.

Instead, an asinine idea is being floated that there should be some vote on a republic without doing any of the hard stuff. Do the soft stuff first and leave the hard stuff for later. This idea would consign Australia to a constitutional limbo, with no certainty that a model acceptable to the people would be formulated and pass at a referendum.

The hard stuff, the model, is everything. The talk is cheap.


A claim by a US presidential hopeful about Australia's gun laws has been questioned by a US newspaper

It is true that sex crimes have increased since the gun bans but the increase was small and not sudden so a cause-effect relationship may not be there

US presidential hopeful Ted Cruz's claim sexual assaults on women in Australia went up significantly after strict gun laws were introduced has been challenged by a Washington Post analysis.

Senator Cruz said on high-profile American radio host Hugh Hewitt's show on January 12 Australia's post-Port Arthur massacre gun legislation meant women were unable to defend themselves from being raped.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker column examined Senator Cruz's comment and on Monday rated it a "whopper" of a factual error, the highest rating on its "Pinocchio Test".

"And as you know, Hugh, after Australia did that [gun buyback program], the rate of sexual assaults, the rate of rapes, went up significantly, because women were unable to defend themselves," Mr Cruz told the radio host.

"There's nothing that criminals or terrorists like more than unarmed victims."

Conservative candidate Senator Cruz is Donald Trump's biggest rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

The gun debate has become a hot button issue in the presidential race, with Republican candidates like Senator Cruz and the National Rifle Association attacking President Barack Obama and Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton's references to Australia's firearm laws.

The Washington Post analysis found no significant spike or drop but a gradual increase in sexual assault rates over the decade after the 1996 changes in Australia.

The increase was likely affected by a rise in the reporting of sexual assaults and there wasn't prevalent use of handguns for self-defence before 1996, as Senator Cruz suggested, the newspaper concluded.

"The rates didn't go up 'significantly' after the buyback and there's no evidence changes to gun laws in Australia affected sexual assault rates or jeopardised the ability of women to protect themselves," the Washington Post told readers.

The newspaper spoke to Samara McPhedran, senior research fellow at Australia's Griffith University and chair of the International Coalition of Women in Shooting and Hunting.

The Post also examined research by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Australian Institute of Criminology, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Law Library of Congress, Christine Neill, economics professor at Canada's Wilfrid Laurier University and Andrew Leigh, an Australian MP and former Australian National University economics professor.

The newspaper also concluded given gun culture in Australia and the US is not comparable, including carrying concealed guns and the ability to carry firearms for self-defence, "politicians should refrain from attributing good or bad changes in Australian crime rates to the buyback program or to the legislative package".

"We also warn politicians on both sides of the gun debate about making broad assertions about Australia to justify policy arguments for the United States," the Post concluded.


Criminal prosecutions against South Australian police are at a record high

CRIMINAL prosecutions against police are at a record high and the number of complaints and breaches of code of conduct has risen 30 per cent over the past year.

SA Police annual reports show the number of sworn officers or public servants within the department facing criminal prosecutions has risen from seven in 2001-02 to 31 in 2014-15.

The 2014-15 annual report also shows complaints against police, breaches of the code of conduct and criminal offences prosecuted against employees rose from 69 in 2013-14 to 90 in 2014-15.

Criminal cases range from theft offences to more serious cases, including suspended SA Police officer Hayley May Greenwood who was charged after an Independent Commissioner Against Corruption investigation with abuse of public office, drug trafficking and aggravated theft.

Eight SA Police officers from the Sturt Local Service Area were arrested in October 2014 and charged with theft offences, also following an ICAC investigation.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Human Resource Service John Bruhn said that higher expectations of officers and a growing workforce could be contributing factors to the spike in criminal prosecutions and breaches of the code.  "There are variations in statistics over many years — you mention from 2002 where complaints against police appeared low compared to higher now," he said.

"This may range from increased levels of reporting, fluctuations in the workforce, broader expectations and other vagaries.

"Policing is one of the most highly accountable professions — even off duty officers must maintain demanding standards of integrity and conduct. "Any breaches have always and will continue to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted as required."

The rise in numbers of prosecutions and complaints against police follows the introduction of the South Australian Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2013, which The Advertiser revealed spent $45,420 on six telecommunications intercept warrants during probes for bribery and corruption offences in the first financial year of operation.

Police Minister Tony Piccolo said South Australia has one of the best police forces in the country. "In the last financial year, there was a drop in the total amount of complaints received and SAPOL enjoys a ranking higher than the national average for general satisfaction from the public," he said.

"Disciplinary matters are an issue for the commissioner of the day ... if any member of the community acts in an inappropriate way, they will face appropriate consequences and this does not exclude police officers."


28 January, 2016

 Petition to put Communist on five dollar note backed by high-profile Australians

Fred Hollows was a member of the Communist party for many years and seems to have retained such beliefs even after his membership lapsed.  And we all know where Communism leads  -- to mass murder.  And Fred must have known that too.  It is true that Fred was one of the very few far-Leftists to put his money where his mouth was, but  giving any encouragement to beliefs such as his would be most unwise

I have put a fair bit of my personal history online and I have  known Leftists to delve into that so I wonder if someone might accuse me of hypocrisy for mentioning Fred's Communist loyalties.  I was myself a member of two Communist-front organizations in my well-spent youth:  The Australia/Soviet Friendship Society and the Realist Writers' Group:  The latter was headed by a man of genuine literary distinction, John Manifold.

For perspective, however, I should perhaps mention that in the same era I was an anarcho-caitalist, a member of the British Conservative party, a member of the Queensland Liberal party, had a lot to do with DLP types and would occasionally look in on Nazi meetups and meetups of a student anti-Vietnam (pacifist) group. 

All of which mainly goes to show, I think, that I had a good sense of humour. I still do. 

  A petition has been launched today aimed at continuing the legacy of ground-breaking eye surgeon Fred Hollows, with a push to have his face featured on the $5 note.Dr Hollows helped treat eye diseases in Indigenous communities in Australia as well as poor countries around the world.

Despite his death 23 years ago, the Fred Hollows Foundation has helped restore eyesight to more than 2 million people.

  The petition, called Put Fred on a Fiver, is being backed by high-profile Australians including former prime minister Bob Hawke and Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman and former chairman of the foundation, Ray Martin, who were at the launch in Sydney this morning.

Brian Doolan, the chief executive of the Fred Hollows Foundation, said it was about paying respect to one of the greatest Australians who ever lived.  "The images on notes at the moment are all of great Australians most of whom did wonderful things in Australia, some of whom had an international career," Mr Doolan said. "But Fred Hollows has actually touched the lives of millions of people around the world."

"We'd be suggesting that we put Fred on the side that currently has a picture of the Old Parliament House and the new Parliament House," Mr Doolan said."We think it's an entirely appropriate time to take the one banknote on which there is not the image of a prominent Australian and to put Fred's image on the $5 note."

He also said it would be a fitting tribute for one of Dr Hollows' most successful fundraising campaigns.  "Years ago they used to run a campaign 'give Fred a fiver' so that he could do the wonderful work he did both here and overseas, well this year instead of 'give Fred a fiver' we're saying 'put Fred on the fiver'," he said.

Journalist Ray Martin said putting Dr Hollows on the $5 note was a "no-brainer"."I was with Fred, about this time of the year, going to a radio station in a cab," Martin said."A Greek-Australian cab driver alongside reached out and said 'are you that Hollows fellow?'"I won't give you Fred's language, but Fred said: 'So bloody what?' and he said: 'Oh nothing, I just want to give you a fiver!' and Fred said: 'thanks mate' and he took the fiver and away the two cabs went - that's how much he was associated with a fiver.

"If you look today, the legacy of the power of one, there are 5 million people plus in the world who can see, who were cataract blind, as a result of this inspirational idea that he had


Sadly Australia Day has become a day of sanctimony

Australia Day sometimes seems to have become a parody of itself.  Apparently intended as a day to celebrate our achievements and our values, it is now too often a day of introspection and sanctimony.

Our nation was founded in a spirit of optimism and co-operation on January 1, 1901.  But we mark its birth on the anniversary of a flotilla of British ships arriving in Sydney Harbour to found a penal colony, 113 years earlier.

That strange genesis, along with our laconic national character, explains why the day used to be celebrated in a phlegmatic and relaxed manner.

It was just another public holiday when nothing expressed our good fortune better than the fact we felt no need for jingoistic displays of patriotism.

Congratulations, we were saying to ourselves, you are a successful, tolerant and welcoming country, working away on your imperfections, so you deserve a day at the beach or cricket.

Now such an approach is frowned upon.  You need to express your guilt for generations past and air your current grievances.

If you are comfortable and relaxed you are part of the problem — how can the malcontents ever be comfortable and relaxed if there are so many people around them who are comfortable and relaxed?

Now, on Australia Day, you must demonstrate that you are a member of the new breed of Australian.

Be gone those who would call a spade a spade. Be gone those who nonchalantly build friendships with people of all creeds and colours. Be gone those who would laugh at authority and prefer the common sense of their neighbours and workmates.

Now we must speak in approved phrases about the issues of the zeitgeist. We must treasure our friends not for their character or friendship but because we need to collect the full set. And we dare not laugh at authority — they know what is best and we should listen.

We can truly show that we understand all this if we stop being preached at, and start preaching.  Try it. Get onto social media and wish your friends happy Australia Day — but then just add some advice.

Happy Australia Day — embrace each other. Happy Australia Day — respect and understanding. Happy Australia Day —– watch out for nongs wearing flags. Happy Australia Day — remember it celebrates genocide. Happy Australia Day — don’t eat animals.

Welcome to the new Australian characteristic — preachiness.

Happy Preachy Day — when you get to sneer at your fellow citizens and tell them how they can match your level of sophistication and understanding, and shape the country more in your likeness.

This year’s official Australian of Year, David Morrison, fits in with the new zeitgeist. A fine soldier and citizen, of course, he was recognised for his professional work tackling a sexism scandal that arose on his watch. Now he chairs the Diversity Council of Australia.

For mine, if you want an inspirational Australian of the Year, who tackles sexism and demonstrates our "fair go" character, this newspaper’s choice as Australian of the Year is a better fit.

Humble, generous, passionate and determined, Michelle Payne was the first woman jockey to win our unique national sporting event, the Melbourne Cup. She is the epitome of the Aussie battler and will be remembered in the history books for smashing a glass ceiling.

"I can’t say how grateful I am," she said, fresh out of the saddle, of the people who supported her, "and I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world."

Happy Australia Day — we are undoubtedly, the luckiest, and pluckiest, people on the planet.


Anti-patriotic sign in Australian resort town

The response was a mature one:  Abuse them back. No attempt to shut them down etc.

Bega District News reports a blackboard sign was put up in the Mister Jones Open Studio and Espresso Bar in Bermagui, on NSW's south coast, on January 25 and it read: "Yes, we're open on national dickhead day" – a reference to the venue being open for business on Australia Day.

On the night of January 25 it was posted on the Meanwhile in Australia Facebook page, which is "liked" by about 700,000 people. By mid-afternoon on Australia Day, it had more than 3000 shares, almost 6700 likes and 1770 comments with many deriding the sign.

While most of those who shared the post were individuals, some were pages such as Truthophobes - Exposing the Truth about Islam, Aussies against Islam and Sharia law, Reclaim Australia Rally - Canberra and Australians United Against Sharia Law.

It appears the official Mister Jones Facebook page has been taken down, but a new page called the Mister Jones Coffee Shop has been set up, possibly by a Facebook group called Aussie Infidels early on the morning of January 26.

This new page published a photo of two of the coffee shop's staff under the line "here are two good reasons for birth control", the phone number of the shop's owner and has encouraged people to contact the shop and leave feedback.

Bermagui Chamber of Commerce president Keith Dowden was disappointed the coffee shop had erected the sign, saying doing so had "displayed a lack of dignity and respect".

While he was sure the sign had upset some tourists, he did not think it would impact on businesses in Bermagui.  "But it's not the sort of image I think the town should be projecting," Mr Dowden said.

He had received several calls about the issue and was glad it had come down on the afternoon of January 25. "In the short time it was up it probably created mixed feelings," Mr Dowden said. 

"He [the owner of Mister Jones] is entitled to his own views, but he has to realise a lot of people don't feel the same way as he does.  "[The owner] does have a history of being a non-conformist."

On Australia Day 2015, at the entrance to the coffee shop there was a sign stating "Strictly no patriotism beyond this point".


Social media fires up after CFA posts picture of breastfeeding volunteer on Facebook

READERS of the CFA’s official Facebook page have fired up about a photo of a volunteer breastfeeding while dressed in a CFA uniform beside a fire truck.

The photo is described as "One of the many faces of CFA in 2016" and has more than 17,000 likes, 750 comments and 1300 shares.

Some readers "unliked" the page because of the photo and described it as unnecessary and "trying to prove some point".

Benita Panagopoulos-Morello wrote: "WHY ??? This does annoy me that women feel the need to post a picture while breastfeeding ...

"im (sic) a mother of twins who breastfeed both too (sic) but im (sic) so bloody over all these women trying to prove some point that it should be allowed to flop your boob out."

Jake Kahlia Lynch decided he would unlike the page: "OK unliking. I took breast feeding pics too, but they really don’t need to be on the internet!!"

But the criticism led to a huge amount of support from other readers:  Niki Jackson wrote: "Feeding a new generation of firefighters who save our homes and lives." "But seriously, it’s just a boob. We’ve all seen them at some point. It is literally a chunk of flesh that helps to contain milk. Not the apocalypse."

Elizabeth Wood agreed.

"I LOVE this," she wrote.

"So fantastic that the CFA encourages you to combine family and firefighting, best of both worlds. Such a beautiful picture, you look so proud."

The page posted to point out where the photo was taken and that the newborn was not being put in danger.

"This photo of Angela, a proud mum and CFA volunteer, was taken at a community event. No fires nearby and a safe environment for her child."


27 January, 2016

Aboriginal TV personality condemns lack of opportunity for Aborigines

Becoming a TV personality would be something of a pinnacle achievement for many people so the grievance in Stan Grant seems strange.  Governments of all sorts in Australia bend over backward to improve the lot of Aborigines and there are various sorts of "affirmative action" designed to help them.  So on a straightforward view the racism is against whites.  So what is Grant's evidence that Aborigines are badly treated by reason of their race?

He simply reiterates the old litany of Aboriginal poverty and ill-health.  That does reflect reality.  But is it the fault of the white man?  Hardly. Aborigines and whites get the same dole payments but few whites live the totally degraded life that many  Aborigines do: failing school, poor hygeine, drinking methylated alcohol and smashing one another around -- with Aboriginal men commonly visiting casual violence on their women and children.  I have seen the latter with my own eyes.

In short, no government programs so far have been able to rescue Aborigines from their own self-destructive behaviour and it seems unlikely that anything could.

Grant simply fails to take account of the fact that Aborigines really are different.  They are not "just like us but browner".  Cultures do differ.  And that that does have consequences, one of which is that whites who know them tend to avoid them -  as they would anyone found to be a dirty drunk, regardless of skin color.

Grant moans that he and his family were treated as suspect  because of their Aboriginality during his childhood. The big thing missing from his thinking is any sense of perspective.  He  assumes that he is the only one who has had crosses to bear

But we nearly all have our crosses to bear.  It's not only racial differences that can burden us. Just ask any short man about how he feels when women look right past him, for example.  And very tall women usually wish they were shorter.  And what about being fat? Is there any greater social disadvantage than that these days?  Fat is usually regarded as changeable but it rarely is in practice.

I grew up in a small country town where sport was the focus of most social activity. But at no time have I had any interest in sport.  So I was "left out" and "did not fit in" too.  But I was too busy reading books to be much bothered by that.  I could have been a whiner and a whinger about the heavy focus on sport and the way that "marginalized" people like me.  But I was not such a whiner and whinger.  I just got on with making the most of what opportunities I did have. I guess I had what people call a "thick skin".  I think I still do.  Grant clearly does not. 

He has in fact had excellent opportunities that he has  seized to his great benefit.  Why does he now want the moon too?  Nobody can have it all and the amount of social support and acclaim he has now is great.  From the position of success that he occupies, he  could surely be indulgent and tolerant -- maybe even amused -- towards anybody who criticizes or avoids him.  But he is not manly enough for that

If I am accused of hate speech for my factual reports here, it is my contention that Stan Grant is the one who is guilty of hate speech against whites

Indigenous journalist Stan Grant has declared racism is "killing the Australian dream", in an impassioned speech that has gone viral on social media.

The powerful speech, delivered at the IQ2 Racism Debate in October, emerged online last week, with journalist Mike Carlton describing it as a "Martin Luther King moment" on Twitter.

Declaring the Australian dream as "rooted in racism", Grant said the legacy of Australia's dark past continues today, citing the lower life expectancy and higher rates of incarceration still experienced by indigenous Australians.

"The Australian dream - we sing of it and we recite it in verse: 'Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free'," he said.

"But my people die young in this country - we die 10 years younger than average Australians - and we are far from free."

Grant said Australians need to acknowledge the two centuries of "dispossession, injustice and suffering" faced by his ancestors.

"We are in so many respects the envy of the world," Grant said. "But I stand here with my ancestors and the view looks very different.

"Every time we are lured into the light, we are mugged by the darkness of this country's history," Grant said.

The speech was published online just a week before Australia Day, a day commonly mourned by indigenous Australians as the anniversary of the British invasion.  

The Sky News journalist said he had succeeded "not because of... but in spite of the Australian dream", pinning his success on his family's hard work in the face of ostracism and discrimination.

"My grandfather, who married a white woman... lived on the fringes of town until the police came, put a gun to his head, bulldozed his tin humpy, and ran over the graves of the three children he buried there. That's the Australian dream," Grant said.

"And if the white blood in me was here tonight, my grandmother, she would tell you of how she was turned away from a hospital... because she was giving birth to the child of a black person."

Grant urged Australians to acknowledge Australia's dark past and be "better" than racism.

"Of course racism is killing the Australian dream; it is self-evident… But we are better than that," he said.

"One day I want to stand here and be able to say as proudly, and sing as loudly as anyone else in the room, 'Australians ALL let us rejoice'."


Do-gooder gets a gong

He's noticed that not everybody gets to fulfil all their potential.  But who does anyway?  And what's he going to do about it?  He doesn't say. Is he going to make the poor rich?  If so, how?  It's just feelgood rhetoric -- but people like it.  They probably think he's got new ideas.  And what's this republic rubbish? He says we need a republic so that "we can stand both free and fully independent amongst the community of nations".  Who says we don't already? I don't think he's all that bright

It was the phrase that shocked a Defence Force riven by sex scandals and prejudices against women and minorities.  The "standard you walk past is the standard you accept" the then army chief David Morrison told the force in a YouTube video that quickly went viral around the world. His soldiers needed to show ­respect to women or "get out".

Fierce and unapologetic, the Canberra-based retired lieutenant-general has been named the 2016 Australian of the Year for his commitment to inclusion, diversity and gender equality.

Mr Morrison last night vowed to lend his voice to the republican movement after state and federal leaders reignited the push to have an Australian head of state.

"It is time, I think, to at least revisit the question, so that we can stand both free and fully independent amongst the community of nations," Mr Morrison said in his acceptance speech.

His 2013 video blast, aimed at ending a practice of those in command of personnel turning a blind eye to the misdeeds of soldiers beneath them, sparked a cultural shift in the male-dominated armed forces. The writer of that speech was Catherine McGregor, a senior transgender military officer who was also an Australian of the Year finalist.

Speaking to The Australian before the announcement, Mr Morrison’s message for 2016 was just as sharp. "We are a great country but imagine how much better we would be if everybody was able to reach their potential and wasn’t held back through the most questionable of criteria: their gender, their racial heritage, their sexual orientation or the god they believe in. Imagine what we could do," Mr Morrison said.

The 59-year-old chairman of the Diversity Council Australia said he could never "unsee" mistreatment of fellow human beings.

"The nomination as the ACT Australian of the Year has given me a degree of public awareness again and I think I’d be abrogating what has happened so far if I was to simply stay silent, so I don’t intend to do that. "We’ve got a distance to travel in the Australian Defence Force and certainly the army but I’ll leave that to the current Chief of Defence Force and Chief of Army to deal with.

"Australia has got a long way to go, we are a great country, but we do have that wonderful Australian pragmatism that looks at ourselves in a fairly rational way and say ‘Well, you know what, I think we could probably be better’."

During his 37-year military career, Mr Morrison commanded the army through a crucial part of its long-term commitment in Afghanistan. He retired in May last year and was named director of the anti-family violence organisation Our Watch in November.

On the stage with Mr Morrison last night was Gordian Fulde, the country’s longest-serving emergency department director, who was named Senior Australian of the Year; 21-year-old social entrepreneurs Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, the Young Australian of the Year Award recipients; and Local Hero Catherine Keenan, a Sydney-based youth educator.

"I believe that we’re actually gaining a much greater awareness of what is right about us," Mr Morrison said.

"We’re at something of a tipping point and the fact that so many of the nominees for all of the categories of Australian of the Year have earned their reputations through their commitment to communities both at a local level and at a national level, there’s something enormously positive about us as Australians. How could you not want to be a part of it?"


These Leftist Double Standards are Simply Mindboggling

Until recently most folks would have been rather ashamed to be found guilty of committing gross double standards, horrific hypocrisy, and being swamped with logical contradictions. But regrettably many today not only do not mind all this, but even wear it as a badge of honour.

And there is no group more guilty of all this than the secular left. They regularly delight in utter hypocrisy and rampant double standards. But in an age where reason, logic and morality mean very little, they don’t seem to mind a bit being caught out time and time again with such duplicity and deception.

Examples of this are everywhere to be found. Let me just offer two very recent cases of this, both from Australia. The first one comes from Tasmania. As one news report states:

    "Former Greens leader and Senator Bob Brown has been arrested during a community protest over logging in northwest Tasmania, after he refused to leave the site. Mr Brown was protesting with activists about the Forestry Tasmania’s logging project at Lapoinya when he was asked by police to leave the site but refused.

    He was taken to Burnie police station to be processed before he is released from police custody. Steve Chaffer from the Bob Brown Foundation told AAP that Mr Brown had gone up to support the community protest. He said the arrest is a reflection of new "draconian" laws in Tasmania which prevent protests at workplaces."

Um, and what would those draconian laws be Mr Brown? Oh yeah, exclusion laws – you know, the very ones you and the Greens fully supported when it comes to peaceful vigils outside of abortion clinics. You don’t want any of those crazed baby lovers anywhere near those death mills, and you find nothing draconian about such laws at all. But here, well….

Jim Collins, head of FamilyVoice Australia’s Tasmania branch was quick to get a media release out highlighting this gross hypocrisy. He writes:

    "Tasmanian Greens former leader Bob Brown has been arrested for protesting inside an exclusion zone around a northwest logging site. Everybody knows Bob Brown is passionate about our environment. But where was his objection in 2013 when all Tasmanian Greens MPs voted for a draconian law prohibiting any form of protest – even silent prayer – inside a 150 metre exclusion zone around abortion facilities?

    Graham Preston is currently on trial in a Hobart court for standing peacefully near an abortion clinic, holding a sign saying: "Everyone has the right to life, Article 3 Universal Declaration of Human Rights." The back said: "Every child has the right to life, Article 6 Convention on the Rights of the Child." His second sign showed an unborn child eight weeks from conception.

    Bob Brown’s protest was designed to save trees, and he faces a $10,000 fine. By contrast, Graham Preston wanted to peacefully save human lives. He faces a possible $11,550 fine and/or one year in jail. If Green activists want to protest about restrictions on their freedom to protest, removing our abortion clinic ‘no go areas’ should be on their protest priority list too!"

Yes exactly, but do not expect any rational clarity and logical consistency anytime soon from the mad hatter Greens. They seem to prefer things to be as irrational, bizarre and contradictory as possible. The secular left are experts at all this, after all.

Things get no better in the Australian state of Victoria. The radical leftist Labor government there seems to be on a crusade to stamp out biblical Christianity. They have already told us that religious Christmas carols are verboten at Christmas, and now want to tell the churches just what is and is not sinful behaviour.

They want to ban all help for any homosexual who may want assistance in exiting the lifestyle. Nope, they must not be allowed to have any choice in the matter. Homosexuals must remain as they are, and any attempts to help them go otherwise will result in Big Brother Victoria throwing the book at you.

I wrote about this diabolical anti-Christian bigotry here:

But let me try to get this straight. If you happen to be a homosexual in Victoria who would like some help in getting out of the lifestyle, the government will deny you that right, and prosecute anyone who dares to offer such assistance. Right, got it.

Yet I am 100 per cent certain that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and his Labor Party are fully supportive of men who want to become women, or women who want to become men. They would simply squeal with delight over cases like that of Bruce Jenner.

They would enthusiastically promote, endorse and celebrate such "transitions" and would insist that all available help be given to them, all at the taxpayer’s expense of course. One can completely ignore reality and biology and simply proclaim you are not who you were born to be, and the secular lefties just love it.

‘Of course you can be any gender you want to be honey. How dare I or anyone else prevent you from choosing for yourself just what you want.’ But hey, when it comes to homosexuality, it is a completely different story: ‘Sorry bud, but once homosexual, always homosexual. You were born that way, it is immutable, and we will make it a crime to even suggest otherwise. Tough luck bud, you must remain as you are, because we say so.’

Hmm, gotta love the double standards of Andrews and the loony left. Biology is merely a figment of our imagination, and choice is the name of the game – indeed, a fundamental human right. But those who seek to leave one very PC lifestyle have no rights whatsoever, and any and all choices must be stripped away from them.

Never mind the many thousands of ex-homosexuals who have proven what a lot of baloney the "born that way" mantra is. I know many of these people. Real change is possible, and those who seek such change have every right to get any help required.

But not here in the People’s Republik of Viktoria. Fuhrer Andrews has decided that the right to choose will not be available to any homosexual who wants out, and they must remain as they are, because the State always knows best. Folks, in my books that is just about as fascist and totalitarian as you can get.

But with the gaystapo now running the show here, we can expect even worse hellishness to come. If you happen to be a Bible-believing Christian who lives in the police state of Victoria, you now have to decide if you are ready for prison ministry.

There will be no other options here: you will either remain true to Christ and His Word and become an enemy of the State, or you will renounce Christ and cozy up to the pink dictators. It is your choice. But I implore you to choose wisely my friend.

Welcome to the Brave New World of secular left hypocrisy.


The animus against adoption among Australian social workers

BOOK REVIEW of "The Madness of Australian Child Protection: Why Adoption Will Rescue Australia’s Underclass Children" by Jeremy Sammut

Terry Barnes

In Australia there are tens of thousands of emotionally stable, financially secure but medically infertile people. As much as they may want biological children of their own, genetics, illness or injury render them incapable. Yet there are thousands of dregs at the bottom of the social teacup who seemingly breed like rabbits. No-hopers, drug-addicts, and the unemployable, for whom squalor is normality, who believe welfare is a God-given right and that fornication is not only time-passing relief from their miserable lot, but a passport to being able to dip their hands deeper into the public welfare and housing purse.

If you thought SBS’s reality series Struggle Street unfairly depicted welfare-fuelled life in underclass communities, think again. If anything it was too mild. I chief-of-staffed to a state community services minister a few years ago, and cases I saw were truly shocking. They shocked not only because of their facts – awful cases of domestic violence, sexual and emotional abuse and even incest – but because in the warped world in which these people lived they were routine, almost normal, events.

I still seethe with fury over one particular case, of incest in a Victorian country town. Confronted by child protection workers, this pustule of a man insisted he was only asserting his rights as a father. ‘She’s mine, I can do what I want’, he said without any hint of comprehending his vileness, or contrition. That excrescence forfeited any claims to parenthood, yet the community services system still wanted to respect his parental rights as a father. While the abused little girl was taken into care, child protection workers still, absurdly, hoped the family could be brought back together.

Most parents love and care for their children, even in the poorest communities. But while child abuse and neglect is a pestilence across society it is the underclass, where poverty, unemployment, crime, welfare dependency and substance abuse are rife, that the deepest problems lie.

As respected Centre for Independent Studies social policy thinker, Jeremy Sammut, demonstrates in this book, The Madness of Australian Child Protection, an entrenched policy mentality keeps failed families together wherever possible. Removal is a last resort. Sammut demonstrates, persuasively, how in the last forty years the pendulum has swung so far against adoption that too many kids are trapped hopelessly in destructive, dysfunctional family relationships or doomed to living in institutions and unsuitable foster homes without any chance of a permanent, loving family to call their own.

Trendy lefty social theorists have done incalculable damage, but conservative politicians holding the family unit as sacrosanct have let them get away with it. As far as I’m concerned, when ideology – Left or Right – gives misguided succour to utterly incompetent and abusive parents, whose unspeakable actions and substance-addled minds expose children to great neglect and physical and mental harm, it must be shoved aside for the children’s good. Just get those kids out of there!

Sammut rightly advocates child protection policies and practices that take children away from such brutal lives, and promotes re-normalised adoption as key to rescuing underclass children from desperate and dangerous ongoing situations. Making adoption work, however, requires two things: instilling a child-first prevailing mindset amongst caseworkers and policy-makers, and society’s reacceptance that children being permanently adopted into loving homes is far better than unwanted or at-risk children in dangerously dysfunctional family units.

Citing case after awful case of a system gone badly wrong, the essence of Sammut’s message is ‘preserve the family at all costs’ child protection needs dumping for a willingness to remove children from unfit parents, and offer them hope of love and security through permanent adoption by competent adults genuinely wanting them. Surely that is indeed the right way to go.

To achieve this, adoption process itself needs fixing. While it takes years, has so many hurdles and seems purpose-designed to subject potential adoptive parents to deliberate humiliation, the local adoption rate is unsurprisingly shameful. In 2014-15 there were just 56 local adoptions across Australia. Fifty-six kids out of thousands deserving and needing a better life than the no-hopers they’re now with can ever give them.

Successive Labor and Coalition federal and state governments and oppositions should hang their heads in shame at what decades of destructive social theory, applied by them, has wrought.

But don’t expect fashionable social experiments like same-sex adoptions to change things. Same-sex adoption is about gay couples demanding, and getting, the same rights as straight ones: it’s not about promoting the best interests of at-risk and damaged children. Having the right to adopt doesn’t guarantee actual adoptions: in New South Wales, where same-sex adoption has been legal for years, only nine children were locally adopted in 2014-15. If such miserable figures improve as more states allow same-sex adoption, I’ll eat my hat.

Last year former Labor minister and Speccie columnist Gary Johns caused chattering class outrage by suggesting welfare dependants should take contraceptives in return for benefits. Johns was far too charitable: those doing unspeakable things to vulnerable children deserve forced sterilisation over and above any criminal penalties. They don’t deserve to be parents, let alone procreate. At minimum, child protection authorities should presume that children removed from these pathetic excuses for parents are available for permanent adoption, not temporarily removed only to return into danger. That policy shift not only would offer lasting hope to endangered children: it may save lives.

Sammut’s back to the future take on adoption, and making it easier, offers an enlightened way forward. Taking his path, however, will take a big change of heart not only from elected politicians, but from a wider community that wrings its hands over the cesspit of child abuse and neglect, rather than actually take responsibility for doing something.


Melbourne woman 'bashed by police' during roadside altercation

A Melbourne woman claims she is the victim of police brutality after a violent roadside altercation.

Victoria Police insists Elisha Sherwood, 34, hurt herself while resisting arrest but she says they bashed and abused her for half an hour.

Battered and bruised, the Frankston woman claims she suffered these injuries at the hands of police after being pulled over in the early hours of Friday morning.

"They proceeded to say they were going to search the car for weapons," she told 7 News. "I queried this and was basically tackled to the ground and my face was smashed into the ground and I was handcuffed."

"They were saying I was spitting at them but I was actually choking on my own blood," Ms Sherwood said.

Police say the pair was aggressive and had to be restrained in an incident where police say three arresting officers had to be treated for minor injuries.

But Ms Sherwood and partner Daniel French dispute that version of events. "I only became aggressive after they started beating me," Ms Sherwood said.  "If they’re going to charge me for assault, I'd like to see their injuries."

The couple is hoping locals who saw what happened will come forward to back their version of events and are planning to commence legal action this week.


26 January, 2016

An extraordinary outpouring of hate for Australia day

On 26th January, Australians   celebrate the arrival of the first British settlers in Australia. We celebrate it as the founding of our nation, which it is. As the Left try their best to rip away all of our traditions, it has become an increasingly popular day. People like their connections to their past so those connections we still have become better appreciated.   The supermarkets   sell all sorts of patriotic merchandise and you will see lots of cars driving around with Australian flags fluttering from them -- a flag in which the Union Flag of the U.K. is quartered.  No ambiguity about our British origins there!

The far-Left do however condemn the day.   Just as they condemn Columbus day in America, they call Australia day, invasion day.    They regard the prior Aboriginal population as dispossessed. The fact that the Aborigines dispossessed the prior Negrito or "pygmy" race they cover up.   But I come from a part of Australia that was the last redoubt of the pygmies so I know the facts of the matter.   I have actually seen some of their descendants.

So it was fairly predictable that the far-Leftist Australian webzine "New Matilda" would publish a prolonged howl of rage in the lead up to this year's celebration.   I am rather amazed by how prolix it is.   It is a very long screed that finds many ways to repeat its condemnations. It must be driven by a white-hot furnace of hate.   I give just a few excerpts from it below.   I am not going to attempt rejoinders to any of the hate-speech.   It is just a re-run of all the old Leftist themes so one would have to rehash most of politics if one wished to refute its assertions.   Suffice it to say that it is just about as unbalanced a critique as you could get, unbalanced almost to the point of mental illness.

My family do celebrate the day in the traditional way, with a get together over a BBQ at my brother's place.   I think we upset the Leftist stereotype a bit however, as our family includes some people of both Aboriginal and Han Chinese ancestry.   All are native-born Australians, however and we do take a considerable interest in our ancestry   -- with which we are well-pleased.

Some excerpts from "New Matilda":


We can all agree that Australia Day is a sickening celebration of jingoism and toxic masculinity that buries beneath its own excretion the invasion, dispossession and genocide on which this nation was built. The argument that Australia Day is just like 1988 satirical science fiction action horror film They Live is more contentious, though no less true.

There's the dominant ideological view of Australia Day which is a god awful hotpot of clich‚s, BBQs, boats and militant racism. Then there's the critique which contains some hard truths about the Indigenous population, asylum seekers, environmental destruction, poverty, homelessness, alcoholism, mental illness and domestic abuse.

This reality is painful for many and leads to aggressive opposition. It explains a lot about the public discourse of our national day, mainstream responses to daily examples of sexism by public figures, and probably the comment section at the end of this article.

Aussies love their garbage ideology.

The two-minute music video is an ultra-conservative fantasy draft of every boring clich‚ you've ever heard about Australia. Set to the tune of Outcast's party anthem `Hey Ya!', it flashes through images of flag umbrellas, the harbour bridge, koalas and kangaroos, BBQs, the baggy green, fireworks, novelty size things, beaches, Uluru, white people, mullets, singlets, cork hats, sports, vegemite, boomerangs, lamingtons, VB and Midnight Oil.

Worse than this inventory of the who's who of the 1970s are the capitalist, gendered and racist messages the song reproduces. We're supposed to `Thank God for our resources coz they are the sources for our wealthy land' as we see footage of mining and the smiling faces of Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer. Thanks be to our capitalist overlords for destroying the environment and feeding us hatred of women and minorities.

We're told `mateship is forever', oh except if you made it to the continent first, you don't eat pork, or you arrived here by boat recently. In fairness, in between all the white people drinking and eating baby sheep, Indigenous folks do get a run. Though only really for their paintings which white people like to hang on the wall, for their athletic ability which white people are obsessed with, and for their dancing which white people like as entertainment.

We also learn that it's cool to binge drink and it makes us really happy. Let's not forget the suffocating masculinity which drowns most of the song. Australia at its core is all about mining, cooking BBQs, being mates, having a beer with the fellas, big things, watching cricket, mullets, singlets and go karting.

It also goes to Zizek's point that ideology is not something imposed on us but instead a spontaneous and natural expression of how we see the world.

As you bowl a few bouncers this Oz Day, recognise that we've never really owned our bloody history of invasion, dispossession, and genocide. Violence and disease decimated the estimated 750,000 Indigenous people living here across 400 nations in 1788. By 1920 there remained 60,000 and they were labelled a `dying race'.

While Paul Keating once gave a nice speech in Redfern and Kevin Rudd said sorry to the Stolen Generations, mainstream Australia has never properly come to terms with our violent past and our discriminatory present. Howard derided an honest reckoning as a `black armband view of history', while in contemporary politics, Abbott said there was `nothing but bush' before white settlement and Bill Shorten can't even bring himself to say the word invasion, opting for the more anodyne `settlement'.

Our failure to fully recognise past atrocities bleeds into our continued execution of them. A long line of white governments have denied Aboriginal people the right to self-determination and as a result these communities suffer the grossest social, economic, legal and political inequality.

Life expectancy is about fifteen years lower, infant mortality three times higher and youth incarceration 24 times higher compared to these rates for non-Indigenous Australians. Meanwhile the Recognise campaign stumbles on interminably to distract us all from the slashing of Indigenous services, the closure of Indigenous communities and the urgent need for a Treaty.

As you drive your Ute to Bondi next Tuesday, see that for a society founded by boat people, we have very little empathy for them. Australia runs remote pacific prison camps with endemic physical and sexual abuse, described by Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry as `factories for producing mental illness'.

Our detention regime has killed Reza Barati, Hamid Kehazaei, Fazel Chegeni and over 30 other innocent people since 2000, and deported many others to their deaths in their home countries. 159 children currently languish behind barbed wire offshore and on the mainland, while in Nauru, children are forced into schools where they are abused and sexually harassed.

Over 100 nations lined up late last year to spotlight our crimes against humanity. In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found Australia had committed 143 violations of international law. We've breached not only the Refugee Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture.

Take a moment during `Fitzy and Wippa's Blokey Bonanza' to think about how Australia not only systematically abuses the rights of Indigenous peoples and asylum seekers, but also ruthlessly despoils the environment. Since coming to power in 2013 the Coalition government has really stepped up the assault on the natural world. They've tried to delist 74,000 hectares of Tasmania's World Heritage listed forests and weaken the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act, hoping to hand over environmental powers to the states. They've reviewed marine reserves and defunded environmental defender's offices and the CSIRO.

They've dismantled our climate policy, attacked the renewable energy industry and approved mega-mines in Queensland which alone will be the world's seventh largest polluter. They've approved dredging and an immense coal port expansion on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef. They've retained $10 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies. Meanwhile, 2015 was in the top 5 hottest years ever for Australia, climate change is intensifying floods and bushfires across the country, and Peter Dutton thinks it's a good time to have a laugh about entire Pacific Islands going under water. Lol Peter, Lol.

As you re-watch `The Best of The Footy Show 1994-2002' for the 10th time, spare a thought for Muslims who experience racism at three times the national average as Bolt, Jones, Morrison, Abbott and the like stoke Islamophobia, riots and Reclaim Australia.

As you rub sun cream on your pet Koala's back, cast your mind to a decade of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and the over 1 million civilians Australia and our allies have killed in the process. See Australia's shared responsibility in the destabilisation of the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis.

As you tuck into a vegemite coated novelty sized lamington, try not to throw up as you read that Australia's wealthiest 1 per cent have more money than 60 per cent of the population, and the nine richest people have more than the bottom 20 per cent. Know that the gap between rich and poor has grown by 13 per cent over the past decade and will jump another 10 per cent over the next 10 years. While the Australian media cares a great deal about which mansion our $200 million Prime Minister might grace with his presence, it seems to give less than two shits that there are 105,237 people without a bed to sleep in. Perhaps you could have a couple over at your spare mansion tonight Mr Turnbull?

More HERE 


Message from Michael Darby, a Patron of Queenslanders for Constitutional Monarchy

The Prime Minister and the Premiers have reached agreement! Have they resolved to exert all possible effort to abolish slavery worldwide? Are they united in a desire to eliminate all mosquito-borne diseases? Do they now share a commitment to a timetable for delivery of the inexpensive energy craved by nearly a billion of the world's poor who presently do not own a light bulb? Are they committed to cleaning up the trash which blights the world's oceans and waterways?

No indeed, in Australia our elected and unelected leaders have different priorities. They want Australia to become a Republic, so that time-honoured constraints on the power of governments will be removed.

And whether through ignorance or dishonesty or both, this bunch is pretending that their campaign is about installing an Australian Head of State. The splendid Australian Constitution does not mention a Head of State, but for the benefit of those obsessed with the term, the most practical definition of a Head of State is the individual who commands the Armed Forces. In Australia that is the Governor-General, who performs all the functions expected of a Head of State.

When a bunch of high-taxing, high-spending opportunists all agree on something, we can be certain that the potential beneficiaries will be the high-taxing, high spending opportunists. Shame on them! God Save the Queen.

For all the ABC producers who have wished for an opportunity to present the Monarchist viewpoint, my phone number is 0402 558 947.


Lynton Crosby: Conservative strategist named Australian of the Year in the UK

Lynton Crosby, the top Liberal Party strategist and adviser to the British Conservative Government, has been named Australian of the Year in the UK.

Australia's High Commissioner Alexander Downer bestowed the award upon Mr Crosby at a gala ceremony at Australia House in London.

In the past, it has gone to people such as singer Kylie Minogue, performer Barry Humphries and bomb survivor Gill Hicks.

Mr Crosby was awarded the honour for being a "world leader in his profession and a great Australian", according to the Australia Day Foundation.

He helped steer the UK Conservative Party and Prime Minister David Cameron to an unexpected re-election victory last year.

Mr Crosby was also behind MP Boris Johnston's successful campaign to become Mayor of London in 2008 and played a key role in keeping John Howard's Liberal government in power in Australia.

He was controversially awarded a knighthood in Britain's New Year Honours.

UK Opposition MPs were critical of the decision to award him a knighthood, given his work had been for the benefit of the Conservative Party rather than for Britain.

Mr Crosby was paid $4.9 million by the Conservative Party for his services during the election campaign.

The Australian of the Year in the UK award is selected based on their "achievements in the year immediately prior... and ongoing contribution to the Australia/UK community" as well as being an "inspirational role model", according to the Australia Day Foundation.


A day to unite or divide the nation?

Australia Day means different things to different people. For some, it is a day for flag waving, citizenship ceremonies, and backyard barbeques. Yet for many Aboriginal people, the day commemorating when the British first settled in Australia, is not a day for celebrating, but a day of mourning — known as Invasion Day.

Every year on Australia Day protest marches are held around the country with people proclaiming: "We won’t celebrate Invasion Day" "No pride in genocide" and "Always was, always will be Aboriginal land."

While people are free to do what they like on Australia Day, focusing on past injustices and portraying Aboriginal people as victims does little to empower Aboriginal people. 

Contrast the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality that organisations such as Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance and First Nations Liberation embody with the words of Bess Price’s daughter, Jacinta Price — who wrote, in a recent Facebook post that has gone viral:

"Instead of teaching our kids to feel pain and resentment… and painting white people as oppressors and racists and black people as victims…let’s teach them love, strength and acceptance."

As the daughter of an Aboriginal mother and a white father, Jacinta is acutely aware she would not exist if it weren’t for Australia’s history. Instead of emphasising people’s differences, she advocates focusing on what Australians have in common.

 "Ultimately we are all human beings and our physical differences should not set us apart."

So on Tuesday, ignore the media reports about the protestors marching down George Street — and take on board Jacinta’s message about celebrating what unites us rather than what divides us.


Patriotism: chop chop

Australia Day looms, and once again the nation is embroiled in a heated debate about Meat and Livestock Australia’s lamb ads.

The interesting thing about this year’s fuss is not that the 2016 campaign has become the most complained about advertisement in Australia’s history, but that MLA has successfully transformed consumption of one its products into patriotic duty. Forget a marketing coup: in 2016, even mild indifference to chops nears risking prosecution under Part 5.1 of the Criminal Code Act. 

Of course, loving lamb is just one of our solemn obligations as citizens this Australia Day. Here are some others:

Putting things on the barbie

Tied to our duty to eat lamb is the requirement to cook it outdoors. Ideally, this should be performed only by family members who are incapable of even boiling an egg. This ensures the meat surface is transformed into a charcoal bark but the inside remains raw. As the Australian Constitution reminds us on every page, this is exactly how the Fathers of the Federation intended us to eat.

Quarrelling about the Australian flag

It would not be Australia Day without a national argument about the relevance of our flag.  For one day every year, litres of ink are spilt in violently debating whether we need a new one. A series of pundits are trundled out to rubbish the idea, and then on January 27 we return to the real world without another whisper about the flag until next Australia Day. 

Watching Lleyton lose

Since the dawn of the Federation, it has been a cherished Australian tradition to cheer on Lleyton Hewitt as he jousts in the Australian Open — and then act surprised when he is defeated on day two. With Hewitt’s ageing bones now disintegrating into dust, 2016 is his last year at the Open. To miss it would be tantamount to treason.

Now go and have a chop, please.


25 January, 2016

Big Brother star Tahan Lew-Fatt reveals she was a victim of domestic violence…but SUPPORTS Mark Latham's comments that men were being demonised

Former Big Brother star Tahan Lew-Fatt has revealed to Daily Mail Australia she was previously involved in an abusive relationship.

The 25-year-old, who is now dating racing driver David Reynolds, opened up about her experience on Saturday after Mark Latham's appearance on Weekend Sunrise, in which he reiterated his opinion that domestic violence can be a coping mechanism for men.

'[A] previous relationship [of mine] was abusive so I have first hand knowledge of what it's like to be in that kind of relationship,' Lew-Fatt told DMA before revealing she agreed with some of the points Latham made on air.

'Even though I did not condone what happened during that part of my life... after counselling sessions there are bigger issues and I understood it more,' she explained.

'Lucky I got out when I did, but even though it wasn't healthy, there was still love and respect, just underlying issues that needed to be dealt with.'

'So what Mark Latham said [regarding] coping mechanism, I kind of understand where he is coming from. Like whether we [like] it or not [it] has some fact behind it,' she added.

Lew-Fatt's statement comes after she took to Twitter earlier on Saturday morning to support Latham after he said on air: 'You can only go by the official statistics rather than left wing feminist hysteria.'

She tweeted: 'I am with Mark on this one ... Over feminism'.

Addressing this particular social media post, Lew-Fatt told DMA: 'All my post was about was I am over this feminism double standards stuff'.

Latham appeared on Weekend Sunrise after a podcast of his that was aired on Triple M on Friday was labelled a 'disgraceful attack' on domestic violence campaigner and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.

He stood by his comments the following day, telling Seven hosts Edwina Bartholomew and Mike Amor that women are safer than ever before, despite there being close to 80 deaths from domestic violence in Australia last year.

'Read the ABS personal safety'll notice that since 1996 the rate of domestic assault and incidences has come down according to that report. So you can only go by the official statistics rather than left wing feminist hysteria,' Latham said.

In his Triple M podcast, Latham clearly had domestic violence campaigner and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty in his sights.

'A lot of Australians are asking how did [Batty's] tragedy where a lunatic drugged-out father sadly maliciously killed his own son, how's that morphed into a generalised campaign against all Australian men?' he said.

'I'm worried that the domestic violence debate is being used as a Trojan horse to push left-wing feminist position, saying that we're a patriarchy, there's a demonisation of men here, if you listen to Rosie Batty. 'Every man is a potential wife basher. Every woman is potentially at risk.'

In February 2014, Ms Batty's son, Luke, was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father, Greg, when he murdered the 11-year-old at cricket practice in the outer Melbourne suburb of Tyabb.

Since then Ms Batty has tried to put domestic violence on the national agenda and was given the award of 2015 Australian of the Year for her efforts.

But that was not how Latham saw it. Calling domestic violence 'a coping mechanism' in his podcast, he believed it was 'a concentrated problem that needs a concentrated solution'.

Addressing his particular claims about Ms Batty, Sunrise host Bartholomew asked Mark: 'So you do believe that in fact Rosie Batty you quote "causes more harm than good"?'.

'Well I don't think it's helpful to demonise men in these circumstances,' he responded. 'I don't think it's helpful to go around talking about an epidemic when actually in Australia the domestic assault rate against women in a 12-month period is one per cent.'

'Now I wish it was zero per cent. Of course, we all want it to be zero per cent. But I know enough about politics to realise that if you want to analyse and get solutions to a problem, you have to be accurate.'


Baird Government sees economic boost from public housing revamp

There will need to be swift evictions for misbehaving charity tenants if mixed public and private tenancy is to work.  Otherwise anti-social behaviour by social tenants will drive out private owners and renters

The Baird government is promising a $22 billion construction boom will flow from an historic decision to privatise public housing in NSW.

The construction of tens of thousands of private dwellings is expected to help ease Sydney's housing affordability crisis by putting downward pressure on rents.

Ageing housing estates will be bulldozed and rebuilt by private property developers into communities where private tenants and home owners outnumber social housing tenants by a 70:30 ratio.

A third of government housing stock will be transferred to community housing organisations, who will be expected to offer support services to assist social housing tenants rebuild their lives.

The Baird government will rely more heavily on private rental subsidies to house families in crisis, including women fleeing domestic violence, so they can avoid a public housing waiting list which has stretched to 60,000 families.

A 10-year framework to be released by Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard on Sunday will outline the NSW government's plan to break the cycle of poverty that has seen successive generations of families relying on government-provided housing.

The number of private rental subsidies will be increased by 60 per cent, to 37,000, by 2025.

Mr Hazzard said the plan would see 23,500 new and replacement social and affordable housing dwellings constructed by the private sector, ranging from high rises to townhouses.

Property developers will be expected to form joint ventures with community housing groups to bid for the redevelopment projects.

"We have billions of dollars worth of land with ageing public housing that no longer does the job we expect for those community members," said Mr Hazzard.

"This is a really innovative way of saying we can use that old, run down, tired stock on taxpayers land to go to the private sector and say build us more, far more social housing and mix the private housing and give us better social outcomes."

Mr Hazzard cited the Lend Lease redevelopment of the London council housing estate Elephant and Castle, which now includes luxury penthouses and is dominated by private dwellings, as an international example of the model.

Construction and property companies had established business units to pursue social housing redevelopments, he said. Projects would be staged to provide a construction pipeline to sustain the NSW economy as the WestConnex and North Connex projects tapered off.

"The health of NSW will be enhanced by doing something that no Liberal government has ever considered – building thousands of new social homes," he said.

Under the framework, families who have experienced loss of income through a sudden event such as retrenchment or illness, and young people, will be a priority for a new three-year private rental subsidy. Recipients will be required to undergo training or support programs.

The strategy identifies two groups of social housing tenants: a safety net group of the frail, disabled, elderly and mentally ill who need long-term support; and another group that can be moved out of the system, with appropriate support such as TAFE training.

To improve the educational outcomes of children living in social housing, $2 million will be spent building childcare centres, and a program of health worker visits for mothers and babies introduced.

NSW Council of Social Service chief executive Tracy Howe said the framework was "a flexible and progressive and modern take on what needs to be done".

"It acknowledges there is a safety net cohort, and we need to ensure that is not watered down because it is a key milestone for social housing. I don't want to think there will be a group of vulnerable people who feel more vulnerable because the framework says they can be moved out of the system," she said.

Ms Howe cautioned that moving people into jobs may not be easy.

"The jobs aren't always going to be there. It seems there is a hope someone will be able to get out of social housing and into the private rental market. There are areas where jobs don't exist. For Aboriginal young people, it's hard to get work."

Community housing providers would do "a great job" in providing services for vulnerable tenants, but need to be given long-term, 20-year contracts to provide business certainty, she said.

The NSW government has asked the Commonwealth to allow rent to be automatically deducted from Centrelink payments for social housing tenants. Mr Hazzard said this would reduce the number of evictions for unpaid rent.

Ms Howe said the jury was out on rent quarantining, with some women's groups welcoming it after a Centrelink trial in Bankstown.

Rental bonds will be imposed for new social housing leases in the second half of 2016 for the first time, capped at $1400. The bond, previously announced by the NSW government, can be paid over two years.


Australia's radical plan to save native wildlife from extinction: Authorities begin killing off more than TWO MILLION cats as they try and save bandicoots and bats

Australia has increased its efforts to protect unique native species and has already started by wiping out 2 million feral cats.

Figures have shown that the country has lost 29 native species to a population of more than 20 million cats since 1788.

Sixteen threatened species were also added to the list of animals that need to be taken into priority due to their risk of extinction.

The Commonwealth’s threatened species strategy added the mahogany glider, eastern quoll, western ringtail possum, woylie, black-footed rock-wallaby, Gilbert’s potoroo, northern hopping-mouse and Christmas Island flying-fox to a list of 20 mammals under threat, reported The Herald.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt told The Herald: ‘It is our duty to care for them, so our bilbies, numbats, quolls and other unique fauna and flora remain a living part of our culture.’

‘As any international visitor will tell you, we are truly lucky to share this continent with so many wonderful and distinctly Australian plants and animals,’ he added.

Improving habitats and helping with 500 programs that already help with emergency intervention to create safe environments for the animals can be seen across the country.

Scientists are also working close with government officials to help the leadbeater possums found in the Toolangi Forest in the North of Melbourne.


’Australia Post - you are the weakest link':  Couple was shocked to find the expensive parcel just sitting on their lawn

Ahmed Fahour is a great networker but he doesn't seem to be the boss Australia Post needs.  I recently had a letter take two weeks to get delivered.  For many years, most deliveries were overnight

IT SEEMS there is no end to the frustrating stories Australians have to share when it comes to poor postal delivery service.

Late last year, Australia Post copped a storm of criticism after CCTV footage was published showing a Sydney courier making no attempt to actually deliver a resident’s parcel.

Now, a married couple from Far North Queensland have a fresh horror story to share.

On Friday afternoon, Mark and Jharna Hogan were shocked after discovering a parcel worth thousands of dollars just sitting in the middle of their front lawn. They claim the driver had made no attempt to physically deliver the parcel directly to them.

Mark had taken the whole morning off to wait for this important parcel to arrive, as it contained hearing aids for his wife that had just come back from repair.

When he finally checked outside, it had apparently just been tossed next to his letterbox.

Mark took to Australia Post’s Facebook page to complain about the incident, saying:

"This is a whole new level of incompetent blatant indifference to any level of service. There was zero effort made here! I did not accept delivery yet it says I did! The parcel easily fits in

the letterbox yet your delivery man simply threw it on the grass. Disgraceful!

"Raising your prices yet lowering your service, the question is is it possible to go any lower than you have today? Australia Post - You are the weakest link."

Jharna Hogan, his wife, was equally as unimpressed.

"It would have taken the delivery driver about ten steps to actually exit his vehicle and place the parcel in the letterbox," she told

"I can’t fathom why the delivery driver thought leaving a parcel on the ground next to a mailbox (which had plenty of room for the parcel) was appropriate."

The frustrated couple said lax delivery processes were something they’d become accustomed to - a problem many Aussies can no doubt relate to, even when they had been home all day."We’ve had parcels left on our doorstep in the rain, on our deck in view of the street and inexplicably, in our garage behind the freezer, with no note left indicating that a parcel had

been stashed there," said Jharna.

"When talking to friends yesterday, it became apparent that we’re certainly not alone in our

Australia Post experiences - one delivery driver thought the best spot to leave my friend’s new NBN modem was on top of the garden waste bag, which thankfully wasn’t due for collection by the garden waste company that day."

On January 4, Australia Post received approval to increase the price of regular postage stamps from 70 cents to $1.

Last year, the company reported a loss of $222 million, with its mail division losing $381 million as demand fell by 10.3 per cent.

Addressing the company’s financial issues, the couple criticised it for "raising prices yet lowering service".

"I was amused to see that they’re rolling out a campaign promoting that ‘they love delivering’ - given the ongoing poor service we receive from them, I’m thoroughly unconvinced that any of our local Australia Post staff do in fact love delivering, or working at all."

Mark’s post fired up fellow customers on social media, who deemed the incident "shocking" and in "poor form".

One user said she "thought the photo was a joke until reading the post", and urged the couple to make a formal complaint.


24 January, 2016

Feminist, Em Rusciano, wants to censor Mark Latham

There is a major hue and cry about domestic violence going on in Australia at the moment, with some extravagant pseudo-statistics being quoted. Miranda Devine  pointed to the actual statistics some time ago. And, as she pointed out, those statistics do tend to expose the current mania as a lot of feminist nonsense. She has taken a lot of flak over her comments but nobody has shown any fault with her statistics

And the  Left are up in arms at the moment over some comments by Mark Latham about it. He offered  a perfectly ordinary account of the psychology behind wife-bashing -- and one which largely reflects what Miranda Devine showed -- but was apparently not apologetic or condemnatory enough about it.  Below is an emotional and unreasoned rant from feminist Rusciano in response to Latham.  She is, by her example, doing her bit to portray women as overly emotional and irrational.  One wonders what the "sisterhood" will think of that. 

One also wonders if she actually read what Latham said.  Latham is certainly aggressive and outspoken but he is the former leader of the federal ALP so is no fool and no blind traditionalist. He has in fact exceptionally good Leftist credentials.  Compare what he actually said below with her account of what he said.  She is not answering what he said at all.  She is just answering a fantasy in her own mind of what she thinks he meant

There is a very wide range of explanations for domestic violence and I take no position on any of them -- including Latham's. I think many such incidents are "sui generis". But Latham's is a "displacement" explanation -- a type of explanation most associated with Sigmund Freud that has long been familiar in psychology for a number of phenomena.  In popular parlance, it is sometimes called a "kick the cat" syndrome. So it is very dogmatic and bigoted by Rusciano to dismiss it without argument

She seems to think that something psychologists have discussed and argued about for generations can just be dismissed by her  with a wave of her hand.  I am glad that I don't have that sort of self-confidence.  But feminism generally is very dogmatic and unreasoned so I suppose that Ms Rusciano's hubris was to be expected.

And who can dispute Latham's comment that feminists demonize men?  Some even call men "the enemy".  More details of what Latham said here

ACCORDING to Mark Latham, domestic violence is a coping mechanism for men who have had their masculinity taken away by women.

WTF. No.

For some unexplainable reason, radio station Triple M have given him a platform for his podcast called "Lathamland", and in the first episode this is what he says about why some men hit their intimate partners:

"I don’t think it’s about how men look at women, it’s about how men look at themselves. They’ve lost their self-esteem, they’ve lost their job, they’re welfare dependant, they’ve got other troubles, drugs, alcohol in their life. It’s that loss of self esteem where I think they use domestic violence as a coping mechanism to get over all the crap in their lives."

Lathamland: A place where women are the reason men are hitting them.

I wonder how Triple M’s sponsors and advertisers (who currently include Dell computers — advertising back to school specials, and Fiji airways) feel about that.

You’ll never guess who the evil queen is driving the demonisation of men agenda. Yep, former Australian Of The Year and domestic violence survivor Rosie Batty.

"I’m worried that the domestic violence debate is being used as a Trojan horse to push the left wing feminist position, saying that we’re a patriarchy, there’s a demonisation of men here, if you listen to Rosie Batty. Every man is a potential wife basher. Every woman is potentially at risk."

Yes Mark, Rosie Batty is using the horrific, violent and tragic death of her beloved son at the hands of a man who systematically abused her over many years, to push the left wing feminist man-hating agenda. I mean, that makes total sense, and by total sense I mean none at all.

His obsession with attacking Batty every time someone gives him an opening needs to stop. His use of mainstream media to publicly bully her needs to end, yesterday.

On the most basic level it appears that Latham has completely broken away from his humanity.

Even if there was an infinitesimal amount of truth to what he was saying, a shred of credibility to it (which there categorically is not) he is forgetting that this woman watched her child die at the hands of her former partner.

Do you not feel she is the last person who should be attacked in this way? Instead of locking herself away to try and reconcile her grief and loss she has tirelessly campaigned against domestic violence. She has unselfishly told her story time and time again, so that no other family need go through what hers did. Has Latham put himself in Rosie’s shoes once? He has children, how can he continue to tear her down time and time again?

Rosie Batty is not a man hater, she is not on an unspoken campaign to emasculate all men and she is not unfairly targeting them either. The statistics speak for themselves. One in six Australian women has experienced violence from a current or former partner. One in six.

Triple M needs to take Mark Latham off the air immediately. He is a dangerous person targeting a vulnerable section of the community. Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in our country and we all need to come together to end it; men and women. What he is doing is counter productive and it almost feel as though he is trying to whip up a war between us. This situation isn’t men vs. women, it’s much bigger than that.

Yes, for those of you keeping score this will be the third time I have responded to his statements. Why do I keep returning serve? Because I’ll be f***ed if I am going to allow his words to float around in the ether like a corrosive, poisonous acid cloud, unchallenged. I also wanted to put up a protective shield for Rosie, who through all his tirades and attacks has stayed silent. She clearly has more class than Latham or I


University degrees aren’t as valued by employers as they once were, which is great, or terrible, news, depending who you are

BIG employers are going cold on university degrees, leaving students and jobseekers to wonder

if their qualifications are worth the investment and extra study.

This week, international publishing house Penguin Random House decided to drop degrees as a requirement for job applicants, following in the footsteps of major consulting firms Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The move comes as smaller employers are shifting away from hiring graduates or university students, believing kids are coming out of university with "no real skills" or simply being taught the wrong things.

Penguin hasn’t been so harsh, saying the shift in requirements is simply a move "to make publishing far, far more inclusive than it has been to date".

"While graduates remain welcome to apply for jobs, not having been through higher education will no longer preclude anyone from joining," a statement from the publisher confirmed.

"Simply if you’re talented and you have potential, we want to hear from you."

But it’s still a scary prospect for higher education providers, a welcome relief from stressed out students or those who didn’t get the grades for the course they wanted, and a source of endless frustration for over-qualified graduates.

The value of tertiary education has consistently decreased in Australia over the past decade.

Graduate employment is the lowest it’s been since the 1992-93 recession.

The 2015 Graduate Careers Australia survey showed more than a quarter of bachelor degree graduates had failed to find work within four months of completing their studies. The money they’re being paid is on the slide, too, with university graduate salaries going down.

Meanwhile, soft skills, such as being personable, adaptable, possessing strong digital skills, and adept at time management are being increasingly valued.

Maggie Stilwell, managing partner for talent at Ernst and Young, which did away with academic and education details in its application process, said the new recruiting strategy would "open up opportunities or talented individuals regardless of their background and provide greater access to the profession".

While the growing culture of qualification-ignorant hiring is being spun positively by the companies enforcing it, it’s hard not to see it as a slight on universities too.

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 but 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.

"General issues are not understanding that a job is about turning up on time every day, not just when you feel like, that it’s about taking direction, and basic things like you’ve got to be well presented and you’ve got to be pleasant."

Speaking with ABC radio, Deakin University deputy vice-chancellor Beverley Oliver said universities weren’t bothered.

"I think it’s a good thing. I think credentials are things we all look for; they’re signals. We look for experience or a degree completed or a course," she said.

"This message has been loud and clear for some time to higher education providers. I think the sector has made great changes over the last 15 years, particularly making sure the degree is a signifier of a more than just marks and grades."


Shifting winds on free trade

Economists famously disagree on everything; the old joke goes that if you ask five economists for a prediction you’ll get six different answers. About the only thing the profession broadly agrees on is the benefit of free trade.

Free trade is the sine qua non of capitalism. Free trade – both across countries and within borders – generates competition, which drives innovation, and fuels markets and the efficient allocation of resources.

Both sides of politics have made crucial gains on dismantling protectionism, from Whitlam through Hawke and Howard. Yet increasingly, neither side of politics understands or can articulate the benefits of free trade and foreign investment. Indeed, for different reasons, both left and right are in danger of moving away from free trade as an ideal.

Elements of the left have always been hostile to free trade. For trade unionists, the availability of cheap foreign goods threatened jobs and wage gains (and was mixed at times with not an inconsiderable amount of xenophobia). Hence the union campaign against the China Free Trade Agreement.

As unions have become less important in society, so too has left-wing politics moved from class-based to identity-based politics, and the inequality of welfare. Many on the left now object to free trade on the grounds it exploits poor foreign workers, preferring instead to talk about ‘fair’ trade and multi-national tax avoidance.

They choose to ignore the enormous lift in living standards free trade made possible.

Yet as the left moved away from the working class, the right has courted them. Pandering to anti-immigration sentiment, together with an aggressive trade nationalism (see Trump’s comments on Chinese tariffs), has led some on the right to talk about free trade only from the perspective of opportunities for exporters to chisel gains out of foreigners.

Certainly, many conservatives in regional areas have long been vocally opposed to inward foreign investment and control. Nor are the Liberal government’s strengthening of anti-dumping provisions and a crackdown on foreign ownership of residential property good signs.

Free trade has always been important, but never popular. If neither side of politics fight for its benefits, we risk free trade becoming a relic of a bygone era of economic prosperity.


People overseas like Australia's squeezy sauce sachets

IT IS a fairly standard thing found in every shop in Australia. We begrudgingly pay 30c for them, and generally take them for granted. And yet people overseas are losing their minds over our incredible invention.

Reddit user Youlikeitlikewhat posted a video of the "magical" easy-to-squeeze sauce packet in use, and people couldn’t believe what they were watching.

He captioned the video: "Australians not only have a beautiful country. And beautiful people. They also have these motherf***ing personal sauce dispensers."

Even overseas news sites couldn’t believe how cool these things were. "Why can’t we get these here? Australia has the best no-mess ketchup sachets ever," read a headline on UK site The Sun.

But Aussies quickly reassured everyone that these aren’t really that big of a deal.

"This is a normal boring thing that every shop has in Australia, is this not common in some countries?" said YouTube user roboshuffler555. Another user Imogen Rowan said, "Wait I’m Australian. I thought this was in every country — what I’m so confused."

Others complained about the size of the packets and were angry at being charged for them. "I reckon they’re a cruel joke. Such ingenuity, yet just not quite enough sauce inside for a pie. But 2 is a little bit too much, and it gets all over your hands," wrote one Reddit user.

Another said: "It’s an ingenious way for bakeries to charge you for sauce that they should provide for free in a squeeze bottle."


22 January, 2016

Bill Shorten turns a blind eye to his militant union masters

In February 2013, the West Australian secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Chris Cain, addressed the union’s "militancy conference" in Fremantle and told the assembled gathering that "laws need to be broken, you’re going to get locked up".

The next day the conference was addressed by Bill Shorten, who said: "There’s no other place I’d rather be today anywhere in Australia and I mean that with all my heart … I wish we could bottle a bit of the spirit here and spread it on perhaps some members of the Labor caucus … I was proud to be invited to come here by Chris Cain today."

Shorten was paying homage in his capacity as the then minister for workplace relations, the minister responsible for upholding the integrity of the very workplace laws that Cain had just pledged to break. This background is important in understanding the context of the recent unlawful MUA blockade of the ship MV Portland.

Last year Alcoa decided to decommission MV Portland, a vessel almost 30 years old, and source shipping services from elsewhere to transport alumina from Western Australia to its smelter in Portland, Victoria.

When the ship was due to sail for the last time from Portland, MUA members on-board refused to sail or allow others to do so.

The dispute ended up in the Fair Work Commission, which found that the actions of the MUA members were unlawful industrial action. The commission ordered them to return to work. The MUA appealed against the commission’s order — and lost.

The MUA continued to ignore the commission’s order. The company then sought to have the order enforced in the Federal Court, where Justice North upheld the order and again directed union members to return to work.

Once again, the Maritime Union of Australia ignored a decision by an independent umpire.

For Australia’s industrial relations system to operate effectively, all parties must comply with orders of the commission and courts, even when they lose.

The MUA’s attitude that "laws must be broken" is typical of its culture and that of other militant unions such as the CFMEU. They pretend to support "fairness" in the workplace and the role of the independent umpire until the umpire rules against them.

Next, the MUA took legal action in the Federal Court, trying to undo the licence that had been granted under the Coastal Shipping legislation allowing Alcoa to obtain a replacement vessel for the MV Portland.

This tactic revealed another distinguishing trait of militant ­unions. While they will not hesitate to ignore the law when they believe it suits them, they have no hesitation in using every trick possible in the legal system to frustrate their opponents when it is expedient to do so.

The Coastal Shipping legislation the MUA was now objecting to in the Federal Court was introduced by the previous Labor government. The Federal Court dismissed the MUA’s application. That makes two court decisions and two Fair Work Commission decisions against the MUA. Yet in a demonstration of union militancy, the MUA refused to allow the MV Portland to depart.

As is always the case when unions break the law, the big losers are not just the companies involved but other innocent workers. Australian jobs at risk due to the MUA’s actions included not only those directly and indirectly connected to Alcoa’s operations but also the wider Portland community.

The MUA’s action in keeping the ship in port held the local Portland berth to ransom, putting at risk the arrival of thousands of tourists on cruise ships which needed to dock at the small port.

It is deeply concerning that in a society supposedly governed by the rule of law, we still have ­elements in unions such as the MUA, who believe they are above the law and can ignore the law with impunity.

The law clearly needs to be strengthened. After the 2013 election the Coalition government introduced relatively modest legislation to impose the same obligations on officials of unions that apply to directors of companies. The Labor opposition and Greens refused to support this bill.

Since then, the Heydon royal commission has recommended even stronger legislation to ensure there are effective consequences for officials who repeatedly break the law.

Under the corporations law, if company directors break the law or ignore court orders they can be banned from being company directors. This happens regularly in corporate Australia.

Yet there is no equivalent sanction available to ban union bosses from union positions if they repeatedly flout the law. The royal commission recommends just such a reform and it is something the government is now considering. No responsible political party could do otherwise — which leads me to the Labor Party and Bill Shorten.

Many sensible and responsible Labor leaders have urged Shorten to act decisively and stand up to the militant unions that currently determine his party’s policies.

Former Labor minister Martin Ferguson has branded the MUA a "rogue union" and supported the government’s legislation to clean up the building industry.

Former ACTU leaders Bill Kelty and Jennie George have also urged reform to deal with workplace corruption and expressed alarm at the damage that such corruption is doing to the union movement. More recently, former ALP president Warren Mundine has declared that "unions should be subject to the same rules of governance, transparency and financial disclosure as public companies".

None of this advice has been heeded by Bill Shorten, who has ignored the findings of the royal commission and was last week meekly repeating the MUA’s lines on the MV Portand — like a puppet on a string.

Bill Shorten’s relationship with militant unions is defined by career dependency and wilful subservience. In both form and substance, the relationship is akin to that between Mr Smithers and Mr Burns in The Simpsons.

As we have observed in numerous episodes, such a relationship is corrupting and demeaning for both parties.


Australia, not UN, has final say on Syrian and Iraqi refugee intake, Peter Dutton says

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says the Federal Government will have the final say on who is resettled in Australia as part of the intake of 12,000 additional refugees.  Key points:

    Australia taking an extra 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq

    Resettling to cost $900 million

    Immigration Minister says Australia, not the UN, has final say on who comes

The former Abbott government agreed to the one-off intake of those displaced by conflict in Syria and Iraq, with the first people arriving late last year.

Mr Dutton said the resettlement program would focus on persecuted minorities, including Christians and families.

He told Macquarie Radio the department had been working with Syrian Christian leaders and the United Nations, but the latter could only make suggestions.

"Ultimately we want to make sure that we're bringing the right people," he said. "People who can integrate into our community, that can get a job, can speak English, can give their kids the opportunity to go to school, that don't treat women appallingly."

Mr Dutton said "Australia will decide who we accept".  "The UN can make referrals and if we're not happy that person satisfies our criteria, they won't be settled in our country," he said. "The Prime Minister has been as adamant about that being the case as prime minister Abbott was."

Mr Dutton said significant checks were being undertaken, including the searching of US databases.

Security concerns have been raised by some in the Federal Government, but fears have been downplayed by ministers and coordinators for the resettlement.

More than $900 million has been allocated to resettling the refugees and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection last year doubled its staff numbers in the Middle East to enable quick processing.

Syria has been embroiled in a vicious civil war since a popular uprising against dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2011, with increasing violence being inflicted at the hands of Islamic State militants.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke on Australia's role in the conflict earlier this week, telling a Washington think tank that an enduring victory against militant forces "must be won and owned by the people of Iraq and Syria".

"The destruction of ISIL requires military action including boots on the ground but they must be the right boots on the right ground," he said.


Now honey is bad for you

Australian honey is the most contaminated in the world and contains cancer-causing toxins as a result of lenient food-safety standards, according to new research.

All but five Australian honey brands tested had more contaminants which would not be considered safe or tolerable in Europe.

Research published in the Food Additives and Contaminants scientific journal reveals the majority of honey sold by leading brands in Australian supermarkets have the highest level of this poisonous toxin.

This poison is known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), which has liver damaging toxins that have serious health consequences for animals and humans when consumed in high quantities.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) have sent out a warning to anyone, including pregnant or breast feeding women, not to consume more than two tablespoons of honey a day and to avoid that made from the plant Paterson’s Curse.

FSANZ told Yahoo7 there is no way to remove the poison from honey, so the action they take is to lower it's count in honey by blending and diluting it.

"Currently there are no methods for removing PAs from honey and removing source plants is not feasible for many areas where apiaries are kept," a spokesperson said.

"Contaminants should be kept as low as achievable. Therefore, blending is the most practical way of reducing the levels of PAs to the lowest achievable."

According to other food authorities around the world, this blending is deemed as an unrealistic solution.

The European Food Safety Authority consider 0.0007 micrograms of PA per kilogram of body weight, per day a safe intake to be consuming.  Whereas Australia's standards restrict the recommended intake to 1 microgram.

Australian toxicologist, Dr John Edgar, claims eating these poisons "could be a significant cause of cancer", Fairfax reported.

"Reducing the contamination in foods such as honey, teas, salads, flour, dairy and herbal products could result in a significant reduction in cancer cases worldwide."

Although, PSANZ sent out a warning to not ingest Paterson’s Curse honey, the government agency told Yahoo7 the levels of PA found in Australian homes is unlikely to pose a health risk.

"For people who eat small amounts of honey, the levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids should not be a cause for concern," the spokesperson said, adding that the toxin in Australia has a lower toxicity than the standard used overseas.

"The predominant PA in Australian and New Zealand honey, echimidene, is of a lower toxicity than the PA used as a standard to set values by some authorities," a FANZ spokesperson said.

Dr Nadine Chapman, from the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney, researches Australian bees and says the industry is aware of the issue and are finding ways to mitigate it.

"To say that Australian honey is the most contaminated in the world is an exaggeration and it depends on the contaminant," she said. "As Australia does not have the Varroa mite and a number of other pests and diseases, we use less chemicals to manage our bees; we also try to minimise exposure to pesticides."

In regard to the outcomes of this expert, FSANZ said they will still "reconsider whether the setting of a tolerable daily intake is appropriate for PAs in Australian and New Zealand foods".

SOURCEBee keepers disagree

Stop using these words right now

I am pleased that I cannot remember using any of these words -- JR

ARE you passionate? Motivated? Strategic? These are the 10 most overused words you have to drop from your vocabulary.

Professional network LinkedIn has released its list of the Australia’s 10 most overused buzzwords, with "passionate" once again topping the list.

"Motivated" has taken second place again, followed by "leadership", which has edged out "extensive experience" for third place this year.

LinkedIn analysed the profiles of members in Australia to determine the words and phrases most commonly used by professionals to describe themselves.

Compared globally, Australians use the majority of the same buzzwords with the exception of "track record", which places ninth on the Australian list but does not appear in the global top 10. The top 10 buzzwords in Australia for 2016 are:

1. Passionate

2. Motivated

3. Leadership

4. Extensive experience

5. Strategic

6. Creative

7. Driven

8. Successful

9. Track record

10. Dedicated

LinkedIn’s Shiva Kumar said members should steer away from cliches and show — not tell — their achievements.

"In our everyday conversations we would naturally stray away from using buzzwords to describe ourselves, so why do it on your LinkedIn profile?" he said.

"We’re encouraging our members to steer away from cliches and show off achievements on their LinkedIn profile through photos, presentations and other work to demonstrate how they are ‘passionate’, ‘successful’ or ‘creative’ rather than use tired old buzzwords."


21 January, 2016

Claim: One in 10 Australians ’highly Islamophobic’ and have a fear of Muslims

A phobia is an irrational fear.  There are daily reports of Muslims killing other people -- mostly other Muslims but also Westerners -- so what is irrational in fearing attacks from them?  Many Australians have already died at their hands and their attacks are often random and unpredictable.  Are we supposed to look forward to that?  I am surprised that so few Australians fear Muslims. 

One in 10 Australians are "highly Islamophobic" and have a fear or dread of Muslims, a University of South Australia study has found.

The University’s International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding has surveyed 1000 Australians, finding 10 per cent of people had negative or ­hostile attitudes towards Muslims, with the elderly, less educated and those with a poor attitude towards migrants more likely to hold such views.

The level of worry about terrorism in Australia had a strong influence on their views, the report, provided to The Australian, said.

Riaz Hassan said the survey was the first "pulse" taken of ­Australians’ perceptions towards one of the country’s most diverse religious communities and he hoped more research would be done to gauge shifts in attitudes.

The findings indicated most Australians were not Islamophobic, with 70 per cent surveyed ­comfortable having a Muslim as a family member or close friend, ­although more felt social distance from Muslims than from other ­religious groups, Professor Hassan said. A further 20 per cent were ­undecided on the issue.

The centre’s work examines the basis of tensions between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds and the role governments, local communities and the media play within a social and cultural rather than purely religious context.

"There are pockets of prejudice and anxiety directed towards Muslims, for example among the aged and those facing financial ­insecurity, but the great majority of Australians in all states and ­regions are comfortable to live alongside Australian Muslims,’’ the report, based on a survey taken in September, said.

About 60 per cent of the 500,000 Muslims living here came from 183 countries, making them the most ethnically and nationally heterogeneous religious communities, the report said.

By 2050, Muslims would grow from 2.2 per cent to 5 per cent of the Australian population, making Islam the second largest religion.

Professor Hassan said Australians’ tolerance towards immigrants strongly influenced their Islamophobia score while higher proportions of older Australians, aged 65 to 74, people who had not completed Year 12, and those not in the labour force showed higher rates of negative views.

The report authors said it was surprising that political affiliations had a strong correlation with ­Islamophobia.

Australians aligned with the Liberal and Nationals parties have significantly higher levels of ­Islamophobia than those aligned with the Labor Party while Greens voters tended to have the lowest Islamophobia score, the ­report said.  [So supporters of the less realistic political parties were also more optimistic about Muslims!  It figures!]


West Australian minister calls on anti-uranium lobby to 'accept WA mines'

Western Australia's Minister from Mines is calling on the anti uranium lobby to accept WA mines in the wake of last month's climate change agreement in Paris.

Bill Marmion said there were currently four uranium mines on the cards for WA and nuclear energy could be the solution to the current fossil fuel problem.

And he believes that Western Australia is well placed to take advantage of the current and future demand for non fossil fuels, given that one of the world's largest uranium supplies is sitting just under the surface in some rather remote regions of the state.  "We could be a leading exporter of uranium on the world scene if these mines get up and running and that could actually help carbon emissions worldwide," he said.

"So I think now it's timely that everybody takes another look at uranium and nuclear energy."

Mia Pepper from the Conservation council said she and Mr Marmion must have been tuned into two different conferences, because her take on Paris was quite different.

She said the minister was overly optimistic in his hopes for a West Australian uranium mining future.

"The outcomes of the Paris conference were actually very not supportive of the nuclear industry," she said.  "The nuclear industry has for a very long time, tried to capitalise on climate change as a foothold for the nuclear industry and I think now more than ever, because of Paris, those dreams are very much dashed.  "It's becoming clearer and clearer that renewable energy is very much the solution to the climate change problem that we face."

West Australian uranium miner Vimy Resources has welcomed the Minister's call for the anti-uranium lobby to accept to accept WA mines.

The company is currently undertaking its public environmental review and Mike Young said it was inevitable that uranium mining would eventually become part of the West Australian economy.

"If we all work together, we can all ensure that uranium mining in Western Australia is done to world's best practice and considering that the nuclear power industry is not going to disappear, that's probably the best outcome for everybody," he said.


Low-earning Australians to be kicked out of Britain under new visa rules

Australians working in Britain may not be able to stay there indefinitely if they are on a lower income, under new rules due to kick in this year.

The changes, which take effect from April, will mean non-European workers will have to earn at least £35,000 ($72,000) a year to be allowed to settle in the UK for longer than six years. 

The visa move, which was first flagged in 2012, will apply to those outside the European Economic Zone in a bid to "break the link" between working and staying permanently in Britain.
The changes will require non-Europeans to earn at least £35,000 a year to extend their visas.

The changes will require non-Europeans to earn at least £35,000 a year to extend their visas. Photo: Anna Bryukhanova

It follows a Cameron government push to reduce migration numbers, with estimates the numbers of non-European skilled workers settling in Britain each year would drop from 60,000 to 20,000 under the change.

Along with Indians and Americans, Australians make up the top nationalities given work visas in Britain. About 17,250 of the visas were given to Australians in 2014, but more than 12,300 of these went Australians under 30, who are on the two year "youth mobility" scheme.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australia had "made representations" to the British government on the changes to its migration system.

This included making a submission to a review into the visa changes in September last year.

"The Australian submission noted that further restricting the Tier 2 visa [which involves the £35,000 rule] had the potential to adversely affect the commercial interests of both countries' businesses and investors, and consequently the economic interests of both Australia and the UK, and could impact on people-to-people links," the spokeswoman said.

The visa change is also generating opposition in Britain, amid concerns that it will force skilled graduates, teachers, health and charity workers to leave the country.  A petition against the change, lodged with the British Parliament, has so far generated more than 70,000 signatures.

"This ridiculous measure is only going to affect 40,000 people who have already been living and working in the UK for 5 years, contributing to our culture and economy," it says. 

"It will drive more workers from the NHS [National Health Service] and people from their families. This empty gesture will barely affect the immigration statistics. It's a waste of time, money and lives."

If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it is likely it will be debated by the Parliament.


Operation Boomerang: Anti-vegan Australia Day lamb ad gets the all-clear

The controversial Australia Day ad criticised for inciting hatred towards vegans while encouraging people to eat lamb has been given the all-clear.

In an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed all complaints, giving the ad the OK and in effect telling any objectors to learn to take a joke.

The ad from Meat and Livestock Australia, starring popular SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin and long-time lamb consumption advocate Sam Kekovich, includes a scene showing a military officer taking a blow torch to vegan's apartment.

There are two versions of the ad; a 30-second version appears on free-to-air TV, while the full version appears on YouTube, where it has racked up close to 2 million views.

But both versions have been met with fierce objection from vegans and sympathetic vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Vegans took personal offence to the ad, while others criticised the use of the term "Operation Boomerang" that referred to the ad's premise of bringing home Australian expats for the sole purpose of eating lamb on Australia Day.

The bureau received more than 600 complaints.

"The Board noted that the overall tone and theme of the advertisement is intended to be humorous and considered that the advertisement did not depict material that discriminated against or vilified any person or section of the community.

"The Board first considered whether the advertisement is suggestive of terrorism. In the Board's view, most members of the community would understand this advertisement to be a humorous take on movies such as James Bond and Austin Powers-style movies – in particular through the use of Lee Lin Chin in the main character role.

"In the Board's view the advertisement is unlikely to be viewed as depicting or condoning terrorist behaviour and that the level of action and implied violence is not inappropriate for the likely audience.

"The use of the tagline or phrase Operation Boomerang ... is not a reference to Indigenous Australians, but is meant as a reference to something which is to be returned.

"There are exaggerated and unrealistic situations which have the look and feel of a movie. In the Board's view these images ... are fantasy and unrealistic and are not depictions of violence.

"Whilst some members of the community could find the advertisement to be in poor taste ... the issue of taste does not fall under the Code of Ethics."

Meat and Livestock Australia has welcomed the bureau's decision.


20 January, 2016

Understanding 'nativism' will help us end it (?)

The writer below, lawyer Michael Bradley, makes the procrustean  Leftist assumption that all men are equal. Procrustes was a landlord  in Greek mythology who had only one size bed in his hostelry.  So if someone was too tall to fit into the available beds, Procrustes would cut off enough of the visitor's legs to fit the visitor to the bed.  He was the ultimate "one size fits all" man -- but not in a good way. So Bradley makes the assumption that all immigrants are equal and that they will all fit in well to the existing society eventually. 

But what if he is wrong about that?  Most of the previous waves of immigrants that have ended up as more or less undifferentiated members of the Australian melting pot have, for instance, all claimed a loyalty to the risen LORD.  Might not an allegiance to Allah produce a very different result?  Might not Muslims be an exception to the rule?  Or do all groups whatever have to fit into a single procrustean bed?

Some major groups such as Hindus and Han Chinese fit in perfectly well without any Christian background but that is surely a contingent matter.  Most importantly, their religions don't preach hostility to other faiths.  Additionally, both groups are very business-oriented and studious and consequently tend to do well economically.  So they have a strong positive connection to Australia and no negative push.

But Muslims are not like that.  Any reading of the Koran will tell you that Muslims are commanded to be hostile to non-Muslims.  And, additionally, Muslims tend to be economically unsuccessful and welfare dependent.  So they lack the positive attributes that have caused other immigrants to adapt peacefully and successfully  to Australian life.

So could we possibly entertain the thought that opposition to Muslims in our society is perfectly rational?  When many Muslims make clear their hatred for us and some of them physically attack us, might we not reasonably be dissatisfied with that?  Might we not reasonably think that Australia would be better off without adherents of that religion?

So lawyer Bradley relies on a questionable proposition. But if the equality of all migrants is questionable, Bradley makes another large assumption below that is demonstrably wrong.  He asserts that attitudes to the ingroup and the outgroup march in tandem.  You are only hostile to the outgroup because you have an exaggerated veneration for your own group.

That's also a popular theory among Leftist psychologists.  They even embody it in a word: "ethnocentrism".  It is however a testable theory and in my 20 years as an academic psychologist and survey researcher I tested it repeatedly.  I included in my questionnaires groups of questions ("scales") designed to measure both attitude to the ingroup and attitude to the outgroup.  I had the results of such studies published in the academic journals.  See e.g. here and here. And there is an independent finding that mirrors mine here

On all occasions I found no trace of the expected relationship.  In statistician-speak I found that attitude to the ingroup and attitude towards the outgroup were "orthogonal".  And orthogonality precludes causation. So despite his attempt at moderation, Bradley is simply wrong.

And, equally interesting, I found that there was often little relationship between  attitudes to different outgroups.  A person (say) who disliked blacks would often (say) have nothing against Jews.  More specficially a man who disliked groups on the basis  of their perceived poor hygeine would be unbothered by other groups who had no reputation for deficient hygeine. Different people are bothered by different things and if something that bothers them is prominent in a particular group, they will dislike that group.

So attitude to outgroups is not some monolithic kneejerk response to "otherness" but rather something with a rational basis. And it seems to me that dislike of Muslims falls into that category.  I know of no proof to the contrary.  Nobody attempts to prove it, in fact.  "Islamophobia" is an article of faith.  A phobia is an irrational fear but fear of Muslims has clear rational grounds.  There are daily reports of them blowing up and otherwise killing people. Is there any reason why that does not matter?

The clue is in the name: Reclaim Australia. It's poignant, emotive, speaking of something lost. We're in one of those moments now, when the fear of loss underpinning all anti-immigration movements comes to the surface.

I'm going to avoid the usual loaded terminology: racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia. Instead, I'll use a neutral term to describe popular national movements against outsiders: nativism.

I'm not so interested in name-calling as I am in exploring what causes these perennial outbursts against demographic minorities - noting that the divisions are not always racial or ethnic.

This point in a sense supports one of the nativists' standard defences - that their opposition to the targeted minority is not racist. That is, they do not object to the outsiders because of their race (or religion). The concern is not their defining label, but the behaviours which that label predetermines.

The list of excluded minorities is endless: Romany, Baha'i, Asians, Africans; in every country on Earth, at various points of history those already there have objected to the arrival of others. If you listen carefully today, you can hear in Australia complaints being raised about the incompatible cultural behaviours of recent immigrants from mainland China.

As always, this is self-described not as racism, but as self-defence. The one feature that every successive group of immigrants has shared, from the first Chinese arrivals in the gold rush, through the Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Muslims and Africans, to the latest Chinese from China, is the accusation that they threaten our national values. Not because they're inherently bad people, but because there's something inherent in their background, whether ethnic, national or religious, which just doesn't fit.

Pauline Hanson's seemingly permanent exasperation is worthy of deeper analysis than it tends to receive. She says "I'm not racist" often, with conviction. She explained her position with clarity in 2010, when she was selling her home in Queensland and told the media that she would refuse to sell it to a Muslim buyer. Her reason:

"Because I don't believe that they are compatible with our way of life, our culture. And I think we are going to have problems with them in this country further down the track"

Nativists would call Hanson prescient. The current rumblings from Reclaim Australia, the more radical United Patriots Front and nascent political parties such as the Australian Liberty Alliance, echo (in their view) exactly what she warned. Their expressed concern is to protect Australia; their method is to exclude those who don't fit in.

Nativism is a deceptively simple ideology.

It starts with the very human desire to belong. Nobody likes to be on the outer. In the quest for a sense of belonging, we easily attach ourselves to group identifiers - a football team, the cool kids at school, religion, race, nationality - and equally easily ignore that they are artificial constructs. It makes no more sense to seek to define a group of people as "Australian" than it does to distinguish Queenslanders from Victorians, or Jordanians from Iraqis. They're all accidents of history, geography and demography.

Nativist movements have always ultimately collapsed under the weight of their own contradictions.

Reclaim Australia has, to some extent, claimed legitimacy by co-opting Indigenous Australians under its banner, along with some Asian Australians. It doesn't take a lot of thought to see the difficulty of claiming a prior entitlement to Australian soil when, one way or another, your own presence here displaced a culture with tens of thousands of years of incumbency. Whatever the quintessential "Australian" values and way of life the nativists believe they are protecting might be, they sure wouldn't have been recognisable to the Indigenous population of 1788.

Since nativism is really at its core about belonging (it just defines itself by the exclusion of others), it's no surprise that it tends to attract those whose personal sense of belonging is most fragile: the poor, less educated, unemployed, socially isolated, the alienated and disenfranchised. People who feel most keenly that they are on the outer in society are the most vulnerable to the simplistic pull of nativism - the idea that they are among the true chosen keepers of the faith, called upon to protect what we have created from those who would tear it down.

Today's victims of nativism in Australia are Muslims. There may be some violence, perhaps quite bad, before this current surge inevitably subsides. It, like all its forebears, is the final howl of impotent rage from a subset of society whose inchoate fear of change is only a reflection of how unattached to society it really feels.

These people's anger, irrational and misdirected as it is, is real. We can understand it, reject it and try to cure it, without the name-calling.


Australian teacher shortage fears as student numbers soar

The number of teachers leaving the profession has increased at a time the student population is also on the rise, prompting concerns Australia could be facing a teacher shortage.
Key points:

    The population of school students is expected to increase by 26 per cent by 2022

    A recent study found between 30 and 50 per cent of teachers give up their job within the first five years

    Teachers say challenges they face include student behaviour and pressure from the curriculum

A recent report by the Australian Council for Educational Research found that somewhere between 30 and 50 per cent of teachers give up their job within their first five years in the profession.

The population of school students is expected to increase by 26 per cent by 2022 and more teachers will be needed to teach those students, or class sizes will once more need to become larger.

If the ratio of teachers to students continues to fall, Australia could face a teacher shortage, at the very time it is intending to increase its innovation agenda.

Kimberly Crawford said she chose to leave her job as a primary school teacher in Brisbane after five years.

"I was keen to stay in the education sector to a certain degree, but just really felt that I was emotionally burnt out from the demands of a classroom environment," Ms Crawford said.

"There were a large amount of additional needs, I taught children with behavioural difficulties and a wide range of special needs.

"A lot of the time it was dependent on seeking out support yourself."

Merryn McKinnon, a lecturer at the Australian National University, has researched teacher attrition rates and found the level of work teachers are expected to do has increased over time.

"You have this sort of domino effect where the work burden sort of gets passed on and on and teachers' burn out," Ms Mckinnon said.  "So ultimately we're sort of short-changing students in many ways."

The Australian Council for Educational Research report found even conservative estimates show big increases in the number of primary school-aged children in the next four years.

They estimate there will be an extra 92,000 primary school kids in New South Wales by 2020, as well as more than 100,000 both in Victoria and Queensland.

Teachers say there is a lack of support

Data from the National Teaching Workforce Dataset Data Analysis Report in June 2014 showed the ratio of teachers to students was continuing to fall.

In addition to time pressures and lack of support as described by teachers, the Teaching and Learning Senate Inquiry in 2013 found that casualisation of the workforce was having a harmful effect on the profession.

New teachers were found to be the most likely to be offered short-term contracts, so they were not always offered induction or support.

Graduates interviewed as part of that Senate inquiry said they had left teaching because they were unable able to find permanent jobs.

Kylie Sweeting, a pedagogical coach in a Queensland state school, said her role involves working with teachers who identify as needing support.

Ms Sweeting said that in the past, teachers had received funding and support to go to professional development.

"But then after research was done they found that teachers were coming back into schools and not using what they'd learnt," she said.

She said that so far her role was having more success than other training courses for teachers because she was there long term, coaching the teachers at the school.

Ms Sweeting said the two main challenges teachers have said they are faced with was student behaviour, and the pressure from the curriculum.

"There's always way too much to teach and not enough time," Ms Sweeting said.


The flexible definition of autism -- and its expanding incidence

GPs should be given stronger guidance about how to diagnose autism to prevent "doctor shopping" by desperate families trying to access funding for their children that is tied to a medical ­definition, researchers say.

New, nationally consistent guidelines that crack down on fluid interpretations of the international Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) — the global yardstick for identifying a suite of mental disorders — would push down prevalence rates, which have been climbing dramatically in Australia for years.

The number of those diagnosed with autism in Australia ­almost doubled between 2003-06 and has doubled every three years since, hitting 115,000 in 2012 and likely to top 230,000 in 2015 when survey data is finalised.

University of Western Australia child development expert ­Andrew Whitehouse told The Australian: "Without a doubt the bulk of the increase in autism cases is due to shifting diagnostic boundaries over time. This has been a human-imposed change rather than a biological change over time. That is not to discount the fact there may be a new cause in the modern environment but there has been a wealth of ­research into this and we have not found another factor yet."

The Australian spoke to multiple academics who confirmed a stricter diagnostic regime applied across the country would remove some of the wriggle-room medicos have to fudge diagnoses and eliminate confusion.

Professor Whitehouse, who is also a program director at the ­Autism Co-operative Research Centre, said every state and territory adhered to the DSM-V but the manual set out only broad categories of behaviours. Actual ­diagnoses "varied wildly between states".

"At the moment what we call autism — or at least autism concepts — differs wildly between those states and that absolutely has an effect on prevalence rates," he said.

"I have heard numerous ­stories over many years of families being able to go to a single sole practitioner and receive a diagnosis of autism without an extensive assessment. Moreover, if you don’t get the diagnosis you need then you can go to another and another and another.

"Once you tighten up those ­diagnostic procedures, it just has to have an effect on numbers."

Professor Whitehouse said parents did not automatically want to have their children diagnosed but government funding programs that linked diagnoses with funding created a perverse incentive for cash-strapped families who wanted to access early-­intervention services.

Cheryl Dissanayake, director of the Olga Tennison Autism ­Research Centre at La Trobe University, told The Australian the number of people diagnosed was "flexible" and largely in the hands of people on the frontline.

Professor Dissanayake and colleagues examined data from a federal government support program and found three times as many children aged under five were enrolled in the federal government’s Helping Children with Autism package than anticipated.

The Productivity Commission tried to reckon with rising autism rates as it built the framework for the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme and said it ­believed the rise in diagnoses was at least partly linked to the HCWA program, which had to be propped up with another $30 million in funding after its popularity.

Professor Dissanayake was part of a working party which, in 2009, recommended the Victorian government copy the "best practice" diagnosis model operating in Western Australia which requires a paediatrician, speech pathologist and child psychologist to agree on an outcome.

"That was adopted in Victoria but it was mandated and there is a big difference between requiring best practice and simply ­recommending it," Professor Dissanayake said. "That is the real issue."

The last official data in Australia shows Victoria had far and above the highest rate of autism, about 0.7 per cent compared with slightly more than 0.5 per cent for the closest other state, Tasmania.

Nationally, there is also a slow shift in education departments away from requiring ­labels before releasing funding to students and schools, a model that led the rate of autism in Queensland public schools to hit one in 50 in 2010 when the global rate was much closer to one in 160.

A spokesman for Victoria’s Education Minister, James Merlino, said a review of disability support programs was finished and the findings were expected to be presented to the government within months.

In NSW, the state government broadened support for students with disability by paying a loading to students without the requirement of a formal diagnosis.

About $63m has been allocated to schools this year to support those efforts.

Queensland is moving toward needs-based funding while South Australia’s Education Minister, Susan Close, said diagnoses could still be useful.

"While specific support for students with disabilities ­requires a professional diagnosis, in SA there is also support for a range of learning difficulties that is based on what individual children need to be successful, and does not require formal ­diagnosis of disability," Ms Close said.

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler said that having "consistent guidelines would make things easier" for doctors during diagnosis but added the emphasis should still be on assessing children early.

"It is probably harder early on to make the diagnosis, harder to make a firm diagnosis but at the end of the day, if early therapy is instituted and a child is found later on to not have autism that is a good thing," Dr Owler said.

Professor Whitehouse said greater thought needed to be given to the range of support provided in the early years and during school years.

"We have to think about what those programs look like," he said.

"The mark of a civilised society is how it treats its most disadvantaged. There are families crying out for help, a great big population of them."


'We can't help you': Harvey Norman branch fined for misleading consumers about their rights

A Harvey Norman franchisee has been fined $52,000 for repeatedly telling customers with new but problem-plagued computers that it couldn't help them.

The Federal Court found a Harvey Norman store on the Gold Coast breached two sections of consumer law by falsely telling customers with malfunctioning computers that it had no obligation to provide a remedy and couldn't assist any further without payment.

One woman, whose Sony laptop sometimes failed to start, failed to shut down and was slow, kept being told by a salesperson: "We can't help you."

One man, who complained his new Acer desktop randomly froze and shut down, was told on two occasions: "There's nothing we can do."

Under consumer law, products sold in Australia come with a consumer guarantee, meaning they must be of acceptable quality. If not, the retailer must offer a repair, replacement or a refund.

The proceedings were brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.  "This penalty is a timely reminder to all businesses, whether large or small, that they must not mislead consumers about consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law," the ACCC's acting chairman Michael Schaper said.

The latest order bumps up the total amount of penalties paid by Harvey Norman franchisees in regards to false or misleading representations about consumer rights to $286,000.

In 2014, four franchisees were hit with penalties ranging from $10,000 to $26,000 - an Oxley store in Queensland, a Gordon store in NSW, and Mandurah and Albany stores in Western Australia.

Justice John Dowsett said, in imposing a penalty of $52,000 against Bunavit, the operator of the Bundall superstore in Queensland, he took into account that there were more impugned statements than in other comparable cases, the conduct continued over a longer period, and more staff members were involved.

He also took into account Bunavit's sales revenue of nearly $70 million and net profit of $1.2 million in 2012-13 - "significantly larger" than other stores in comparable cases.

In the Bunavit case, the salesperson told the customer with the faulty Sony laptop that they couldn't help her and to approach the manufacturer.

But when she received her laptop back from an Sony-authorised service centre, it had developed more problems. Again, Harvey Norman told her to go back to Sony.

When she got her laptop back for the second time, the DC input wasn't working, meaning she could no longer charge the battery.

Harvey Norman employees then told her the DC input issue was her problem, they couldn't help her unless she wanted to pay, and they were not willing to pay for a refund or replacement.

"The reason is that you did not come to us for the initial repair," a salesperson said.

"If you send the laptop back to Planet Tech to repair the DC input issue, then we will agree to pay for half of the repair costs," the same salesperson said later on the same day.

Only after she lodged complaints with the ACCC and the Queensland Office of Fair Trading did Harvey Norman begin fixing the laptop problems.

Justice Dowsett said broad denials of liability by a retailer may lead a consumer into thinking the persistence required would be "too much trouble, with too little assurance of a satisfactory outcome".

"A great number of electronic devices are purchased by consumers from retailers such as Bunavit. Consumers frequently return such devices, claiming that they are faulty, or not of an acceptable quality," he said.

"A retailer should ensure that its staff members are informed about, and conduct themselves in conformity with, the Australian Consumer Law."


19 January, 2016

Rising temperatures at Australian Open [tennis match] 'caused by global warming' (?)

Australian temperatures are not in close lockstep with the global average and they are not even in step with one-another.  While Southern Australia does seem to be having unusually warm  weather lately, December and January in S.E. Queensland where I live have been unusually mild.  This January in Brisbane has so far been the coolest I can remember in fact.  So all we are looking at is local warming, not global warming.  But could the local warming be in some way caused by global warming?  Hardly.   There has been no global warming for over 18 years and things that don't exist don't cause anything.  So the claims below are just the usual Greenie phlogiston

The Australian Conservation Foundation reported that in recent years players have complained about the heat at the first grand-slam tournament of the year, including Canadian Frank Dancevic, who collapsed during a match in 2014.

Analysis from University of Melbourne Atmosphere and Ocean researcher Ben Hague shows January temperatures in Melbourne have risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius each decade since 1987, but in the two weeks of the Australian Open the increase has been 1.25 degrees.

The Bureau of Meteorology 2015 Climate Statement showed days of extreme weather are on the increase across Australia.

A number of tennis clubs have implemented extreme heat policies to fulfill their duty of care to players, including Victoria based Australasian Academy of Tennis Coaches.

"At our local tennis school, our heat policy is 35 degrees," their CEO Lynton Joseph said. "When the temperature hits 35, all lessons and play stops – there is no discussion.

"The most recent science from the Bureau of Meteorology and others shows an increase in extreme weather days in Australia and sports clubs have a duty of care to take precautionary measures."

Climate change manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation, Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, said global warming was the catalyst for the scorching temperatures.

"Global warming is already having a big impact in Australia and the effect on both professional and local community sportspeople and sports clubs is significant," she said.

"To stop these global warming impacts getting even worse, our government needs to support clean energy solutions that will cut pollution, and put the interests of the community ahead of the interests of a handful of big polluting energy companies.


Can’t spell, can’t count: Bosses lash out at Australian workers’ lack of skills

WORKERS have such poor literacy and numeracy skills they can’t do simple sums, type on a computer or give clear ­directions in a worrying trend employers have revealed is cruelling their business.

The problem has been exposed by an Australian Industry Group study that found staff’s English and maths skills are so bad hardly a workplace in the country is unaffected.

The report, released today, found nine out of 10 bosses complain they have staff who can’t calculate orders, prepare work riddled with errors or give confusing directions.

AI Group chief executive Innes Willox said the results indicated a "deepening concern about the level of foundation skills in the workforce and a continuing drag on the nation’s productivity".

He called on the Turnbull Government to tackle the problem as the need for highly educated workers became more crucial, with high-skilled occupations growing faster than low-skilled work.

It follows an international report showing 44 per cent of Australians have literacy ­proficiency below a level set as the minimum to operate effectively in the workplace and ­society.

Numeracy was worse, with 55 per cent below the proficient level, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies found.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Government realised it must arrest our slide down inter­national comparison ­tables for mathematics and ­literacy.

"We must embrace the digital age, diversify our economy and upskill Australians to meet the jobs of the 21st century," Senator Birmingham said. "Key to the success of this and future generations of young Australians is in having an excellent grasp of literacy and numeracy."

He said the Government was improving teacher standards and pushing maths and science in schools.  "Mistakes are costly and business is saying too many mistakes are being made," he said.


Police officer filmed shoving mum's throat multiple times

WARNING, DISTRESSING: An Australian police officer has been filmed repeatedly pushing a woman by her throat, causing her to fall backwards.

Queensland police have been contacted by Yahoo7 for comment on this matter but declined at time of publication.

Loanna King, 17, said police allegedly entered the Boondal home, near Brisbane on Saturday night.

She claimed police barged inside and grabbed her younger brother, 16, while she was inside with her mother.

She said she was told he was being arrested for alleged domestic violence.

Miss King told Daily Mail Australia she had been left with scars on her legs after she was dragged out to the street by officers.

Footage shows her brother being pushed up against a wall while police handcuffed him.

His mother can be heard telling an officer that the boy is her son before she is told to ‘get back’ and is pushed in the shoulder.

Natasha starts to scream ‘that’s my son’ when the same officer shoves her in the throat with quite a bit of force.

Miss King told Daily Mail her two-year-old brother was left alone inside the home during the arrests.

The family was issued with a court order for obstructing police and they were released on to the street about 20 minutes later.

Since the video was shared on Facebook it has sparked outrage with many claiming it was an act of ‘police brutality’ and violence against a woman.


Muslim who has 'spoken highly of Australians who travel to fight with ISIS' is revealed as a TEACHER at a popular Islamic school

A man with 'sympathetic' views towards ISIS has been revealed as a teacher at an Islamic college in Victoria.

Khoder Soueid has been named as a high school teacher at the Australian International Academy - previously known as King Khalid College - in Caroline Springs in Melbourne's west, according to the Herald Sun.

A LinkedIn page believed to belong to Soueid lists him as a 'teacher at AIA' and a worker in 'education management'.

It was also revealed the Islamist teacher was named in documents related to a young boy who pleaded guilty to plotting an attack last year, according to the newspaper.

Soueid ran a Facebook page where he spoke highly of Australians who had travelled to fight with ISIS. The page, which has since been shut down, had more than 3000 followers, including a 17-year-old boy from Greenvale who pleaded guilty to planning to detonate a series of explosives in Melbourne on Mother's Day last year.

According to the newspaper, the Australian Federal Police believe the 17-year-old used Soueid's Facebook page to get in touch with other people who had extremist views.

The Australian International Academy is located in Caroline Springs in Melbourne's west - and was previously known as King Khalid College

'Enquiries reveal he is an Australian-based Muslim sheik. Soueid has expressed sympathetic opinions in relation to the actions of the IS to Australian media,' the AFP statement of facts related to the 17-year-old said, according to the Herald Sun.

The newspaper also claimed the Australian International Academy had spoken to Soueid about his social media posts.

Soueid has previously been linked to ISIS recruiter Neil Prakash, who is suspected of helping to radicalise the two 18-year-old arrested over the alleged Anzac Day terrorism plot.

Prakash made contact with Soueid, who has a large following of young men in Melbourne, via Twitter so the pair could communicate, according to The Age. 'As Salaamu Alaykum akhee [Hello brother] please follow me,' Prakash wrote.

Soueid has posted a number of video message on YouTube, many where he discusses teaching of the Koran.


18 January, 2016

Opening up Australia's empty North to settlement and farming

Another revival of an old and unrealistic dream. It fits in with the frequent Greenie cries that the world is overpopulated and about to run out of food. The latest such cry here.  It is true that vast tracts of Northern Australia are mostly unpopulated and used for very little.  And Chinese farmers in the gold-rush days of the 19th century proved that productive farms could be set up there even using very low-tech.  So turning an area about the size of Western Europe into farms seems an obvious thing to do. 

And from Adolf Hitler on, Greenies have been shrieking that we are about to run out of food.  So if that had any realism to it, opening up Northern Australia to arable farming  would indeed be an obvious thing to do.

The fact that everyone overlooks is that the international supply of most farm products is in GLUT.  We have too much food available for international trade, not too little.  So if you do convert more of our mostly empty North into farms, how are you going to sell the product? 

The Ord river scheme in North-West Australia was a warning for those who are capable of learning.  There's this huge river and lots of uncultivated fertile land nearby so governments of all sorts have thought to turn it into a resource.   Since the 1940s, it has absorbed many millions of taxpayer dollars. And it's only recently that they have found something worth growing there:  Sandalwood, used to make incense sticks for Chinese religious ceremonies!  No food!

And now that China has become a major food exporter, almost any farm investment would be blind optimism.  China now makes not only most of our electrical goods but also most of those low-priced "Own brand" cans of food in your local supermarket. The abundance that worldwide capitalism produces is in the end what will keep Australias's vast North mostly empty.  Greenie shrieks about overpopulation are a laugh to anyone who knows anything about the subject

A record-breaking drought in the state of Queensland has reignited calls to unlock the economic potential of Australia's under-developed and sparsely populated north.

As those on the land struggle, business leaders are promoting the idea that the region could be transformed into a giant food bowl for Asia.

What's needed, according to Troy Popham, the head of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce, is the vision to create a large network of new reservoirs and pipelines to help a thirsty country cope with prolonged dry spells.

"The rain across northern Australia can be captured and can be channelled to relevant places so that the downstream effects of the water can still be utilised," he says.

"It is going to cost some money, but the rewards that it will deliver to the country are enormous."

Bold irrigation schemes, a 600m Australian dollar ($418m; £290m) upgrade to outback roads, extra money to revamp airstrips, and funds to explore rail freight links are part of a federal government discussion paper released last June.

"No longer will Northern Australia be seen as the last frontier: it is in fact, the next frontier," proclaimed a statement from the governing Liberal Party.

Development challenge

The region, to the north of the Tropic of Capricorn, covers more ground than many countries, and spans Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

It is flush with potential; from agriculture and renewable energy, to tourism, education and tropical medicine.

Crucially, for policy makers it is on the doorstep of emerging markets in Asia.

But the dreams of exploiting the untapped riches of the north that go back almost as far as European settlement in the late 18th Century have remained unfulfilled.

Colonial explorers dragged boats into the mysterious interior hoping to find an inland sea, but discovered only desert and disappointment. Over the years, other lofty ambitions have also turned to dust.

While Canberra's ambition to eventually light up the north is praised by industry groups and farmers, there is - because of the area's sheer scale - caution.

"It is a great principle, but it can end up being useless rhetoric if the government is not willing to drive this investment," says Queensland state MP Robbie Katter, from his offices in the mining city of Mount Isa in the rugged Gulf Country region.

"What many people have in mind is that it would be corporate-style farming with foreign owners or institutional investors that do a big irrigation scheme.

"That benefits a few and really doesn't help solve any of the problems for the established farmers out here."

The cost of upgrading key freight routes would be huge, and take years, but would be worth the time and money, argues Andrew Gray, chairman of Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association.

"The pastoral industry has been crippled by poor roads," he says.   "We have heavy rain during our wet season. Roads become impassable for passenger vehicles, let alone for the transport of livestock."


Surprise!  Man named Mohammad is a naughty boy

NOTORIOUS crime gang member Mohammad Qais Niazy will be sent back to Afghanistan after his online taunts to police and alleged criminal activity finally caught up with him.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton signed off on the cancellation of Niazy’s permanent residency because of his alleged involvement in criminal activity, with Niazy expected to be deported once his current legal matters are finalised.

Mr Dutton said Niazy did not meet the character requirements for a residency.

Police sources said Niazy’s deportation would likely cause the early demise of a newly-formed gang, which included several members who spent the majority of last year in jail.

Niazy is in custody awaiting trial in the Parramatta District Court on charges including possessing a shortened firearm, unregistered firearm and prohibited weapon.

It is understood he will be immediately deported if he is acquitted or after the completion of any further jail time.

Niazy, an alleged core member of the ­Afghani Murderers gang, has previously used Facebook to regularly taunt police, posting pictures of large piles of cash and himself sniffing a white powder.

He posted several photos in the months before his jailing last year, including a photo spelling out the words "f ... all cops" in $100 notes.

Also known as Ace Niazy and Ali Gewad, Niazy was arrested by Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad (MEOCS) officers last year. On Facebook, Niazy had previously taken aim at MEOCS and other agencies.


Australian Greens ally themselves with thug unions

Greens leader Richard Di Natale and his colleagues have vigorously opposed federal Coalition policies to impose criminal sanctions on corrupt union and employer officials.

Unions are moving to widen their political influence before this year's federal election by pouring cash into the Greens, a strategy that is infuriating Labor and sparking accusations of disloyalty against union officials who are formally aligned with the ALP.

The unions have already given the Greens more than $600,000 and are tipped to go further this year, just as the minor party tries to defeat Labor candidates in marginal electorates that will be -crucial to Bill Shorten's campaign.

As the nation's biggest construction union comes under fire from the royal commission into union corruption, it and others have increased their donations to the Greens in a way that expands a powerful political alliance that challenges Labor.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale and his colleagues have vigorously opposed federal Coalition policies to impose criminal sanctions on corrupt union and employer officials, restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and scale back the proportion of union representatives on superannuation fund boards.

There are divisions within the union movement over the donations, given that the construction division of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union handed $125,000 to the Greens last year while the same union's mining division lashed out at Green policies to scale back coalmining.

Anger at the trend is greatest among senior Labor figures who are frustrated that the CFMEU can use its numbers within the party to influence the selection of Labor candidates but then use its cash to help the Greens field rival candidates for the same seats.

The CFMEU is the second biggest union supporter of the Greens after the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union, which gave $360,000 to the Greens in the year to June 2014, the last year for which figures are available. Total union donations to the Greens reached almost $600,000 in 2013-14 following -donations of $50,000 the previous year and $100,000 in 2011 from the ETU's Victorian branch, with smaller amounts from several -unions over the past decade.

Michael Danby, Labor member for Melbourne Ports and a strong critic of Greens policies, said: "Hundreds of thousands of dollars of the Greens political party's public funding is funnelled into defeating Labor represen-tatives. It's hard to see . what benefit it is to union members for the ETU or other unions to hand over their members' funds to Senator Di Natale and his Greens party, especially when the Greens have similar views to the Liberal Party on penalty rates."

Senior Labor figures have privately urged union leaders to stop funding their political rivals but the complaints have failed to sway the CFMEU or the ETU. Most Labor MPs would not comment publicly on the dispute.

Senator Di Natale has named Mr Danby's seat as well as the nearby Labor electorates of Batman (held by Labor frontbencher David Feeney) and Wills (held by retiring Labor MP Kelvin Thomson) as targets "within reach" this year. An effort is also under way to seize Labor territory such as Grayndler in NSW, which will be vulnerable to the Greens if sitting member Anthony Albanese, the opposition infrastructure spokesman, moves to another seat with a better chance of victory.

One Labor figure said it was hard for ordinary party members to see officials from the CFMEU sway policy decisions and pre-selections but then give money to the Greens to campaign against Labor.

Another warned that some -unions were taking a simplistic approach to politics but could not be convinced to stay loyal to the party that has traditionally backed workers.

CFMEU construction division national secretary Dave Noonan dismissed the anonymous critics as "sooks" and rejected claims he and others were being disloyal to Labor by helping the Greens.

"It's a matter for the union and determined by its democratically elected governing bodies," Mr Noonan said. "It is disclosed as required by law. The union is loyal to the interests of its members first and foremost."

The ETU ended its affiliation with Labor in 2010, declaring that it would support whichever party "speaks genuinely" for workers.

The union payments pale next to donations from mining and energy companies, which gave about $1.8 million to the Coalition and about $450,000 to Labor in 2013-14, but unions have the -capacity to offer more than cash.

The National Tertiary Education Union was hailed for mounting a $1m campaign to support the Greens in the Senate at the last election, confirming its break with Labor. The NTEU's last filing with the electoral commission confirmed it spent $1m on political campaigning in 2013-14.

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon countered the Labor complaints by arguing that the Greens had shown they would defend the -interest of workers.

"Union allegiance has been to improving conditions for working people," Senator Rhiannon said. "The reason some unions have moved away from Labor is because Labor has changed.

"We've won our stripes by doing the hard work and being consistent. The unions are not fools - they can see the political landscape is changing."

With CFMEU officials facing legal action as a result of the royal commission, the government has demanded Labor and the Greens halt any donations from the militant union.

Senator Di -Natale declined to comment but Australian Greens co-convener Penny Allman-Payne insisted the party would -accept donations just as other parties did. "It is the Australian Greens' long-held policy that elections should be publicly funded, to reduce the influence of political donations," she said.

"Within the current system, the Australian Greens do accept donations, subject to the review of all donations above $1500 by our Donations Reference Group."

The party also countered the idea that the donations influenced votes in the Senate, noting that the Greens had introduced legislation to abolish the ABCC in 2008 and its votes against the restoration of the ABCC were consistent with that position.


How the Costco mirage is fooling Australians

The `membership warehouse club' is booming Down Under. Here's the secret behind the store's success

Costco - the bulk discount retailer - is expanding yet again.

The multi-billion-dollar global business has already opened stores in Melbourne Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney. It sold $1.3 billion worth of merchandise to Aussie shoppers last year.

Now it intends to open three more stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, while gearing up to enter Newcastle, Darwin and Wollongong.

Is Costco any good? It offers some items more cheaply than other retailers and has many devoted fans. But its business model is set up to exploit our decision-making blind spots.

Costco can work amazingly well for many people. But it can be a mirage for many others, offering the appearance of great value while simply lifting $60 from your wallet.

Before you become a Costco fan, you should be wary of these three tricks Costco is using to help it make millions in profit every year.

1. Memberships

If you casually show up at Costco, they won't let you in. Not even to browse. You must be a member or a guest of a member. Memberships cost $60.

It is weird for a shop to charge entry. But there's a reason.

Prices in store have small margins. Costco make almost all of their profit on memberships.

Plenty of people join, then never buy enough to get their money's worth. Costco members will tell you it's your fault if you buy a membership and don't use it. But this is how Costco thrives. Selling heaps and heaps of memberships, including to people who never use it, is their business model. Just like a gym.

Some people will keep shopping at Costco even though it is inconvenient, just to make sure they don't "waste" their membership. They're probably even worse off than the people who just lost $60.

Spending time to try to feel good about $60 you spent six months ago is a classic case of the sunk cost fallacy, where you use resources inefficiently so previous resources you used up aren't "wasted".

2. Petrol

Costco petrol is really cheap. As low as $1.04 a litre recently, when nearby service stations are charging 15c more.

The CEO says they are seeing "spectacular" growth in fuel sales. But they're making basically zero profit. Why?

It's the same reason those four cents off shopper dockets were such a big deal a decade ago.

People are obsessed - even irrational - over the price of petrol. Price is the only way to compare petrol, so it is easy to compare prices between different service stations. They put the price on big signs and compete to be one or two cents lower than the servo up the road.

If Costco drops the price of its petrol by 10 cents, it looks amazing. We notice that far, far more than if they drop the price of a pack of toilet paper. Who can remember the exact price of toilet paper?

If you fill up there a lot, of course, it's good value. But not all Costco shops have petrol stations, so you could be driving a long way to make a small saving.

And if Costco aren't making money on the petrol, they are making it up elsewhere, in places you don't notice.

3. Bulk

Costco sells whoppingly large things.  Five kilograms of Nutella? Done. Six litres of vokda? Sure.

You should get a better deal when you buy in bulk anyway. But Costco implies the cheaper per unit price makes it special.

These whopping amounts put strain on your home. Who has space in the fridge for a kilogram of eggs?

When you're in the store, it's easy to forget how annoying it is to have your cupboards full to bursting and easy to convince yourself you'll use something fast. The reality can be different. At my house we just threw out half a packet of frozen beans we got at Costco over a year ago.

If Costco is coming to your town, make sure you're not getting fooled before you shell out for membership.


17 January, 2016

Why Are We Still Working?

Australian Leftist site "New Matilda" published recently an article under the above heading that has received some attention in Leftist circles. It is a long and rambling article in a typically Leftist way.  Verbosity is used to substitute for clarity of thought.  So I have had to read it twice to follow what the author was getting at. But an early paragraph summarizes the inspiration of the article:

"As long ago as 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by now, people in technologically advanced societies wouldn't need to work much at all. When Keynes said this, advances in technology were yielding extraordinary increases in productivity. The implications seemed obvious. If it took less time to produce what we needed, surely we'd work less."

And the author, basically, does not know the answer to the puzzle in that. Along the way, he comes out with nonsense like "we have also seen a vast proliferation of new jobs that only seem to exist to keep people working"

He makes some reasonably accurate generalizations such as "Instead of everyone working less, what seems to be happening is that experienced workers, in professions which are still in demand, are working more, while the young, the old, and those with skills which no longer attract investment have difficulty finding work"

And you are supposed to be outraged by that instead of seeking to understand it.  The effects of credentialism, for instance, go unmentioned. See here and  here as starting points on that topic.

But eventually we get to the point of the article:  "Capital, like technology, is largely blind to human need. Capital goes where the profit is. If there was profit in healing minds and saving species, some of it would go there. While there is more profit in alcohol, gambling and deforestation, more of it will go there"

Which is of course a classic Leftist fallacy, a direct descendant of the Communist motto:  "From each according to his ability and to each according to his need".  It's "the system" that is at fault, you see.  Society is not ordered in the way the Leftist wants.  Leftist priorities are not the normal human priorities.  So the existing human priorities must be CHANGED!  And Communism certainly tried that.

OK:  The fallacy that our apparently young thinker has fallen into is that capitalism does not reflect human needs.  Yet it in fact does exactly that.  People communicate their needs very graphically by putting their hands in their pockets and buying what they want.  Capitalism is the most basic form of democracy.  The individual makes his/her own choices about his/her own life.

Confronted with that, the Leftist immediately subsides into authoritarianism.  People must have their choices taken away and have BETTER choices enforced!  Our present writer is not explicit about that but even a little knowledge of history will tell you where that sort of thinking leads -- to brutal tyranny, not the promised Garden of Eden.

And what the Communist motto overlooks is that people's needs are infinite.  So neither capitalism nor Communism will ever satisfy them fully. 

An example of that which has been rather bemusing to me lately is the upsurge in cruising.  People go aboard large and lavishly appointed ships and sail around in circles!  You couldn't make it up!  And people of quite humble background are doing it -- and doing it often.  That is so much so that I have acquired the polite habit of asking friends:  "When is your next cruise?". 

So what is going on?  What has happened is that the super-efficient ship-construction techniques of places like the Meyer Werft in Germany (Which is located INLAND!) has brought down the cost of ships -- and third-world crews have cut the cost of operating them.  And the very big cruise ships of today also make good use of economies of scale.  So the bottom line is that the cost of cruising is now well within the reach of average people. So it has become a "need" for quite a few people I know.  They feel that their life is enhanced by it.  And who am I to say it is not?  A Green/Leftist would say it is not but I am a true-blue conservative.

So that is the reason we keep working.  The ingenuity of the many people who create capitalism provides so many attractive things that we want them.  And we have to work to fulfill those wants.

But it is an individual choice.  It may be apparent that I don't go cruising.  I have a comfortable income in my old age but I live simply and end up giving away twice what I spend on myself.  I do eat out on many occasions but usually at places where I can get a dinner for $10 or thereabouts!  You might be surprised at how good such dinners can be.

So what capitalism provides is individual CHOICE.  That would seem hard to criticize but in their authoritarian way, the Green/Left do criticize it.  The only choice they campaign for is for death:  The choice to have a abortion.

AussieBum chief reacts to claims Australia Day undies are offensive to Indigenous culture

The "cultural appropriation" nonsense again

AussieBum's chief executive says he was naive to the fact its Australia Day underwear featuring dot paintings, boomerangs and a cartoon depiction of a traditional Aboriginal person could cause upset.

The company has received criticism for its festive undies on social media, kicked off by National Indigenous Television host Nathan Appo who tweeted: "I think it's disrespectful to indigenous people of this county on so many levels."

AussieBum CEO Sean Ashby said the company had received three formal complaints via email, the first of which he acted on, recalling an original design which featured the Australian flag on top of what looked like Uluru.

"It wasn't even Uluru, it was a mountain, however, I can also see it could be interpreted that way," Mr Ashby told the ABC.

"I saw [the design] as inclusive but then when I had one person email me and point out some really obvious issues, which quite frankly I was naive to ... the penny dropped and that product was taken straight off the line."

    "I find the 'Ausday' hipster and brief designs very offensive to myself and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians (many on social media already), and to all Australians, given there is a stylised, stereotypical and offensive version of an Aboriginal person standing on one leg," the complaint email read.

    "Along with the imagery of Uluru and boomerangs accompanying this image in the promotional material for this design, this amounts to cultural appropriation and racism, rather than celebration or respect for Aboriginal peoples and their cultures."

"At the end of the day it really was just naivety to an issue in Australian culture and one that is so sensitive," Mr Ashby said referring to an exclusion of Indigenous people in society." Mr Ashby said.

He said the underwear's detail was first noticed after hype around the advertising model's "missing" belly button.

"I'm concerned with @aussieBum's Australia Day underwear campaign. Where's his belly button?!?" TV personality Dr Brad Mackay tweeted.  From there, criticism moved to the underwear's design.

"At that stage I was taking a position that we're going on about leg of lamb and we're getting too sensitive with the culture that is Australia ... but once I got that email, the penny dropped," Mr Ashby said.

He said the commotion would cause him to take more care when creating future designs.

"Unfortunately as we evolve as a culture we are in a multicultural society and sadly, Indigenous culture is now considered a separate culture to our own. I'm just realising how sensitive it is," he said.

"I don't want to be a person that will add to that debate. I feel I've brought a subject out that I wish wasn't there."


Newspoll: NSW Labor leader Luke Foley hit by Baird's popularity

The standing of NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has hit a new low as the Baird government continues to sweep all before it. The latest NSW Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows that the gap between Premier Mike Baird and Mr Foley as preferred premier is now wider than ever.

Mr Foley is preferred by just 15 per cent of voters, compared with Mr Baird's 58 per cent.

Mr Foley's standing has declined since the last Newspoll. His satisfaction rating has dropped four percentage points, to 31 per cent, while his dissatisfaction -rating has climbed two percentage points, to 39 per cent.

These are slightly worse results than the previous opposition leader, John Robertson, recorded a year ago before he resigned as Labor leader.

The rise of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister means federal and state leadership and voting intentions are now closely aligned. December's federal Newspoll showed just 14 per cent of those polled preferred Bill Shorten as prime minister over Mr Turnbull.

Mr Baird remains the country's most popular politician, although Mr Turnbull rivals him.

Mr Baird's satisfaction rating is 61 per cent, down from 63 per cent in the last NSW Newspoll. Mr Turnbull's is 52 per cent, down 8 per cent after a rocky end to 2015 with the defection of Ian Macfarlane to the Nationals and controv-ersy surrounding Mal Brough.

Mr Baird remains Australia's most popular leader because so few people dislike him. His dissatisfaction rating is just 22 per cent.

And unlike Mr Turnbull, his popularity is not a result of a honeymoon. Only 17 per cent of voters are undecided, and he has proven enduringly popular since becoming Liberal leader and Premier in April 2014.

This latest Newspoll shows that the Baird Coalition government would easily win a NSW election held now. The two-party-preferred result is 56-44 per cent, unchanged from the previous poll.

This is slightly higher than the solid election win Mr Baird enjoyed in March. Theoretically, assumi-ng a uniform swing, the Coalition would win back two seats from Labor on these figures.

The Coalition primary vote is 1 per cent higher, at 48 per cent. In a state with optional preferential voting, this suggests it's almost impossi-ble for the Coali-tion to lose at its current support levels.

The Labor Party has the oppo-site problem. With primary support at just 33 per cent, unchanged from the previous poll, it would have to rely heavily on Greens and independent preferences to have any chance of beating the Baird government. But with the option-al preferential voting, it's not given that the preferences would automatically flow to Labor.

The Greens continue to record a very consistent 10 per cent of the vote, which suggests that Labor has a long-term problem in capturing the Left of politics.

The March election saw the Greens beat Labor in the inner-city seats of Newtown and Balmain, and capture the north coast seat of Ballina from the Nationals.

The Baird government continues to make every post a winner. In November, it sold a 99-year lease for its electricity transmission business Transgrid for $10.258 billion, making it a near certainty it will have more than enough funding for its $20bn infra-structure program after the sale of a half-share in two other businesses, Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy. The bumper price also means the government can accelerate key projects, with the prospect of having some completed in time for the next election.

The poll was taken before the announcement that the government was proceeding with a series of council amalgamations, a policy likely to create continuing grassroots opposition to the government over the coming months.


Capacity Factors And Coffee Shops: A Beginner's Guide To Understanding The Challenges Facing Wind Farms

Geoff Russell, a rational Greenie, uses the numbers to show at length below what an absurdity wind farms are.  He shows that there is no way they can be the mainstay of an electricity supply.  He favours nukes as a carbon-free power supply

It's still `all about the baseload', writes Geoff Russell, in this simple guide to understanding the limitations of energy sources like wind farms.

Renewable-only advocates claim that we can build a reliable, clean electricity system using mostly unreliable sources; like wind and solar power. And of course we can; the theory is simple, just build enough of them.

Coffee shops operate rather like our current electricity system; there are a few permanent staff who are analogous to what are called baseload power stations. Additional staff are hired to cover the busy period(s) and correspond typically to gas fired generators.

The renewable alternative is like running a coffee shop with a crew of footloose narcoleptics who arrive if and when they feel like it and who can nod off with little notice. Would this work? Of course; just hire enough of them.

Any criticisms of renewable plans is typically subjected to execution by slogan: That's soooo last millennium; baseload is a myth!

I've used something like this coffee shop analogy elsewhere, but it doesn't capture other critical features of electricity sources . let's begin with the capacity factor.

Capacity factor

When someone talks about a "100 megawatt" wind farm, this refers to its maximum power output when the wind is blowing hard. Energy is power multiplied by time, so if it's windy for 24 hours you'll get 24 x 100 = 2400 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electrical energy. But actual output over the course of a year is obviously only a percentage of the maximum possible and that percentage is measured and called the capacity factor; typically about 33 percent for wind.

A rooftop solar system is also labelled according to its maximum output and also has a capacity factor. averaging 14 percent in Australia but only 9 or 10 percent in the UK or Germany.

Nuclear plants also have capacity factors because they usually need to be taken off line every year or two for refuelling. Typical percentages are 90 in the US and 96 in South Korea.

You can't compare electricity sources without understanding capacity factors. Since the capacity factor of a nuclear plant is about 90 percent and that of rooftop solar is about 14 percent and because 90/14 = 6.429, then you'd need to install 9,000 megawatts worth of solar panels to match the amount of electricity you'd get from a 1400 megawatt South Korean APR1400 nuclear reactor over a year (6.429 x 1400 = 9,000).

Which is more than double the 4041 megawatts installed in Australia between 2007 and the end of 2014.

Matching supply and demand

But 9,000 megawatts of solar panels is still very different to 1,400 megawatts of nuclear, even if both produce the same amount of electricity annually. With 9,000 megawatts of PV panels, you don't control the output and on any day it will range from nothing at night through to 9,000 megawatts if it's hot, cloudless and the right time of day.

In contrast, 1,400 megawatts of nuclear power can be adjusted to match demand; turn it down, turn it up.

Below is a picture of the output of some German nuclear plants. Note that the output of one plant, KKI 1 (Isar), is pretty constant. That plant began operation in 1979, which is about the vintage of the seemingly immortal but obviously false anti-nuclear claim that nuclear plants can't follow load; see Margaret Beavis's recent NM article for a 2015 misstatement.

Brokdorf, on the other hand, is a little newer and has been operating since 1986 and has no trouble ramping up and down. Not only can most nuclear plants load-follow (this is the technical term), it's increasingly necessary in Germany because of the growth of wind and solar; it's a thankless task but somebody has to do it!

Now you understand why it's silly to do what non-technical journalists like Bernard Keane have done, and compare costs per kilowatt of solar with those of nuclear without understanding the capacity factor; let alone grid costs or load-following.

But the capacity factor is also important for another deeper reason and it will take us back to that coffee shop.

First, imagine a small city with a constant electrical demand of 1,000 megawatts and a wind farm supplying, on average, 333 megawatts. Assume the rest is supplied by gas. Given the capacity factor of wind, we can infer that the peak output of that wind farm is about 1,000 megawatts.

What happens to excess electricity?

Now consider what happens if you triple the size of your wind farm.  Since you now have (a maximum of) 3,000 megawatts of wind power, you'll be averaging 0.33 x 3,000 x 24 megawatt-hours (of energy) per day; which is 100 percent of demand; excellent.

But what happens when it's really windy? The output is then triple the demand; so, without storage, that electricity gets dumped.

Dumping electricity on your neighbours isn't a nice thing to do if they don't need it at the time.

Wind farms, like any low capacity factor unreliable electricity source, are fine when they are a small contributor to a large grid, but not so fine when their surges are large relative to the demand on the grid; then they become a veritable bull in a china shop.

How does this look in coffee shop terms? If you run your coffee shop with a large bunch of narcoleptic staff, then some of the time they'll all be awake and rearing to go, but there'll be few customers and your staff will be twiddling their thumbs at best and getting in each others way at worst.

But perhaps the analogy is broken? Instead of a single wind farm, we could have multiple farms spread over a huge area and interconnected so that the wind must surely even out; never blowing hard (nor totally calm) at all sites. Certainly this sounds plausible. but what actually happens?

John Morgan looked at the Australian data on wind power in an article a couple of months ago on

In the 12 months to September 2015, Australia had 3,753 megawatts of wind power across the National Electricity Market (which excludes WA which isn't connected) and the daily average output ranged from 2.7 percent (101 megawatts for 24 hours) to 86 percent (3,227 megawatts for 24 hours).

This isn't so different from what would happen with a single 3,753 megawatt wind farm. So despite expectations, there were times when it was pretty windy almost everywhere and other times, including runs of multiple days, when it was pretty damn still almost everywhere.

The overall capacity factor was measured at 29 percent. So despite expectations, many wind farms, even in a big country like Australia, aren't that much different to one very big one. And you really do have to worry about being becalmed.

I argued in my last New Matilda article that wasting battery capacity papering over the deficiencies of wind and solar will reduce our ability to solve our clean transportation problems.

Copper plates and real networks

Clearly if many wind farms are intended to even out supply, then they need to be interconnected.

A study commonly cited in Australia supporting the feasibility of a 100 percent renewable system is that of Elliston, Diesendorf and MacGill.

One assumption of that study was that electricity can flow freely from where-ever it is generated to where-ever it is needed.

This is called the "copper plate" assumption; it assumes the continent is just one massive copper plate conducting electricity everywhere at high speed.

But real interconnectors have to be built, and how much connectivity do low capacity factor sources need? A European study found that the grid capacity to transfer electricity under a 100 percent renewable scenario needs to be ramped up by between 5.7 and 11.5 times; depending on the quality of service required.

The "flow freely" assumption occupied just one sentence of the Australian study but conceals a wealth of problems and complexity. The EU goal is that member countries provide interconnection capacity equal to just 10 percent of installed capacity. by 2020.

The need for extra national interconnections is mirrored internally within the larger countries by the need for extra internal interconnections. In Germany this is being implemented under the Power Grid Expansion Act (EnLAG) involving 3,800 kilometers of new extra-high voltage lines.

These lines aren't being built without protest. The path of least resistance will be wildlife habitat; to avoid concerns both real and imagined over reducing property prices and health risks.

To extend the coffee shop analogy to cover distributed wind farms, we move from a single shop to a WindyBucks Chain of shops spread over the country.

The European study implies that making this work will require not just extra staff but a fleet of lightening fast taxis to shunt the staff around from shop to shop. This is so that when we have too many baristas in Cairns, we can shunt them down to cover for those having a kip in Hobart.

Again, the theory is simple; just add another layer of duct tape until it holds together.

Markets, profits and planning

There's one not so obvious way in which the coffee shop analogy breaks down. Coffee shop staff get paid by the hour, not by the number of coffees they make; but users of electricity pay for what they use, not for what is generated.

Does anybody want to pay 10 times the going rate for a coffee just because there happen to be 10 grinning baristas twiddling their thumbs behind the Espresso machine?

If not, then consider what happens to electricity prices during our imagined tripling of wind capacity. Remember, we started by assuming wind provided about 30 percent of electrical energy, so when we triple the number of farms and the wind is blowing pretty strongly everywhere, they'll be generating about triple what we want.

In a free electricity market where suppliers bid for electricity, the price will dive. So while it's very profitable to build a wind farm when total wind energy is less than the capacity factor, it soon becomes very unprofitable because nobody wants your product; you also create a mess that somebody has to clean up by building extra grid magic to handle power surges.

Why didn't people see this coming a decade ago? Probably somebody did, but they were "Sooo last millennium"!

This article has tried to explain as non-technically as possible some of the problems that arise as penetration rates of intermittent electricity sources rise. I've used wind as a concrete example, but the same problems occur with any low capacity factor sources.

It may help people understand why Germany is burning half of her forestry output for electricity to provide some level of baseload power amid the renewable chaos. She could be, and should be, maximally expanding forests to draw down carbon, but instead, her logging and fuel crop industries are booming.

But the German use of baseload biomass to paper over renewable deficiencies isn't just a love of lumberjacks and hatred for wildlife - when AEMO (Australian Electricity Market Operator) reported in 2013 on the feasibility of 100 percent renewable electricity, both her scenarios were "Sooo Last Millenium" and postulated a baseload system underneath the wind and solar components; either biomass (Log, Slash, Truck and Burn) like the Germans, or geothermal (ironically driven by heat from radioactive decay within the earth).

Technical readers should consult John Morgan's articles a and b in addition to the various papers and studies he mentions.


15 January, 2016

The evils of land clearing

Humanity has been clearing native vegetation for thousands of years to make way for crops and grazing animals.  But that is now all WRONG, apparently.  There is a great shriek about it below.  It's "environmental destruction" apparently. 

Human modification of the landscape has been pervasive in Europe and yet Europe has a lot of very nice places to be.  Try Austria's
Salzkammergut, for instance, centered around an old salt mine (as the name implies).  I can hear the shrieks now:  A MINE?  Mines can never be good to a Greenie.  Yet people take vacations in the Salzkammergut to enjoy the beautiful environment.  People have been modifying the environment there since ancient times in fact.  Hallstatt is in the Salzkammergut, if you know your archaeology.

Hallstatt -- a site of ecocide?

And what about Italy?  People have been marching to and fro and modifying the environment there for around 3,000 years.  Yet many places in Italy -- such as Umbria -- are regarded as places of great beauty.  Tourists flock to Italy in large numbers to see its beautiful landscapes and its modified environments.  But they are just cattle to Greenie elitists, of course.  Greenie elitists have THE TRUTH -- or they think they do.

Umbria -- Some of that awful farmland, no less

Why should Australia be different?  Why can we not modify our environment into something we like better?  Let us CHOOSE our environment rather than stay stuck with the native environment. 

Why should we not?  They offer two arguments below:  The first is that land clearing will increase global warming -- but if that were a serious argument they would have offered some figure for the climate sensitivity to CO2.  They do not.  And they would find themselves in a morass if they did.

The second argument is that clearing reduces biodiversity.  But it may or may not, depending on how the clearing is managed. And the reduced biodiversity in Europe seems to have done nobody any harm. 

But even if we accept that all biodiversity is good and needed, it can be managed without blanket bans on all change.  Farmers often leave a bit of the native vegetation alone for various reasons.  The big disincentive to doing so is the fear of future Greenie blanket bans.  Farmers clear everything while they can.  So a program to reward farmers for setting aside pockets of native vegetation would do a whole lot more good than trying to stop clearing altogether.

NSW is set to join Queensland in tearing up key environmental legislation. The likely result will be widespread land-clearing and a greater contribution to climate change, writes Dr Mehreen Faruqi.

Imagine you were the NSW Premier in possession of a crystal ball, gazing into which you could see the consequences of your own policies. Suppose what you saw was what you were warned of all along: widespread land clearing and environmental destruction. Well, for Premier Mike Baird, a glimpse of the future is just north of the border, in Queensland.

Two years ago, the Queensland Newman government severely undermined native vegetation rules, resulting in the doubling of land clearing, the removal of almost 300,000 hectares of bushland (20 times the size of the Royal National Park in Sydney) and the release of 35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, further exacerbating climate change.

Despite this damning evidence, the Baird Government is green lighting land clearing by pushing ahead with abolishing native vegetation protection laws in New South Wales. This is nothing less than attempting ecocide.

The NSW Native Vegetation Act 2003 has generally been credited with ending broad-scale land clearing in a state where 61 per cent of the original native vegetation has been cleared, thinned or significantly disturbed since European colonisation, most of it in the last 50 years.

According to a WWF report, the introduction of this Act saw an 88-fold decrease of felling, as well as preventing the deaths of thousands of native animals.

Not only is native vegetation crucial for biodiversity protection, it also improves farm land value and increases production outcomes. However, native vegetation management on private land has long been perceived as a battleground between landholders and conservationists, stirring up controversy between private property rights and the public interest.

Politically, the National Party has been a key opponent of biodiversity laws that require some form of permission and oversight before landholders can clear native vegetation. Not surprisingly, the unravelling of the Native Vegetation Act commenced in the first term of the Liberal National Government taking power in NSW.

In 2013, the then-Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner foreshadowed the comprehensive overhaul of all biodiversity protection legislation. A range of new regulations soon followed, which allowed the removal of paddock trees and thinning of native vegetation to go ahead without the need for vegetation management plans.

Since these changes, more than 6,000 trees have been chopped. Even the Shooters & Fishers - key Upper House votes - have waded into this conflict, with a bill that, if enacted, would have done irreparable damage to biodiversity and native vegetation in NSW.

The next and perhaps most disastrous move is the report of the so-called `Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review'.

Even though more than 80 per cent of the submissions to the review called for retaining or strengthening protections, the recommendations call for the wholesale repeal of the Native Vegetation Act. It will also repeal the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 Act, and include only parts of them in a mooted new Act.

This will be coupled with an expansion of the flawed biodiversity offsets policy. Once biodiversity is lost, it is often permanent.

The Review recommended that the Native Vegetation Act should be repealed because it had not stopped biodiversity loss. This unsophisticated approach completely ignores the huge reduction of broad-scale clearing as a result of strong laws (despite inadequate resourcing for their enforcement). Moreover, it has turned a blind eye to the multitude of government policies that result in major biodiversity losses, for example, mining approvals that clear swathes of forest and habitat.

The new regime proposed by the Biodiversity Legislation Review is set up to fail. Clearing will be allowed even if it does not improve or maintain environmental outcomes. Under the brave new world of environmental (mis)management, already under-resourced local councils will be lumped with an unprecedented workload to deal with land clearing on a case-by-case basis, with no overarching state-wide environmental oversight.

While the anti-environment Nationals and the Shooters and Fishers are looking forward to ripping up the Native Vegetation Act this year, environment groups, conservationists and the Greens are gearing up for a vigorous fight to stop this destruction of native vegetation and wildlife.

It doesn't need to be this way. There is enough evidence to prove that weakening biodiversity protections will lead to an increase in land clearing leading to further fragmentation of precious ecosystems. At a time when climate change is taking bite we need more, not less preservation.


Former NSW Labor staffer unleashes on 'misogynistic' party

Former Labor candidate and staffer Stefanie Jones has unleashed on her own party claiming it is full of "filth" and has a "disgusting" attitude to women

Embattled NSW ALP boss Jamie Clements has refused to resign amid accusations of sexual harassment.

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten has been quietly calling for Mr Clements' head since he was accused of pushing former Labor staffer Stefanie Jones against a wall and trying to kiss her in June, the ABC reports.

Mr Clements, a married father-of-three, signed an agreement not to approach Ms Jones for 12 months yesterday, in a last-minute deal to avoid an apprehended violence order being levelled against him.

Mr Clements said the deal was not an admission of guilt on his part.  "I have cooperated fully through this process and am pleased it has reached a resolution which allows all involved to move forward," he said.  "Having had discussions with my family and colleagues, I have decided this is the best way to move forward and focus on the challenges of 2016."

Ms Jones, 27, who ran for the seat of Cronulla in the 2011 election, unleashed on her own party today claiming it is full of "filth" and has a "disgusting" attitude to women. "I think if I had my time over again I would just run (away)," she told the Daily Telegraph.  "I would never want to go through this again. It's been soul-destroying. Everybody wants it under the carpet.

"There's such a lack of support (and) as long as the party has people like (that in it), the filth ... the continuation of disgusting treatment of women will continue."

Ms Jones said Mr Clements turned on her when she said she was planning to tell her fianc,, Labor organiser Dave Latham, about a one-night stand they had in 2013.

"(Mr Clements) turned, grabbed the side of the chair I was sitting on (in the parliamentary office in which she works) and said, `If you do that, it will destroy everything for all of us. Dave will leave you, that's a terrible idea'," Ms Jones said.

Stunned, Ms Jones said she backed down and agreed to not tell her fianc,.

Mr Clements briefly left the room but then came in and allegedly locked the door before demanding: "'I want a guarantee. I want a guarantee' and stood over me and said `I want a guarantee, kiss me. Kiss me. You know you want it'." Ms Jones said.

Bill Shorten has ordered a report into the scandal.  "We have no tolerance for workplace harassment and I do expect this matter to be now resolved, full stop," Mr Shorten said.


Police charged with assaulting teen boys who filmed alleged attack

Thug cops tried to cover up their misdeeds by destroying evidence

There are concerns over the handling of the internal investigation into an alleged assault of two teenagers by police.

A mobile phone video taken by a teenage boy as his young mate was allegedly assaulted by two policemen was mysteriously deleted on the night of the attack, but could now provide damning evidence when the officers face court in May.

The footage was only recovered when the father of one of the boys paid $4000 to an IT consultant, but its disappearance raises serious concerns about the handling of the internal investigation into the officers' conduct.

It is understood the family of one of the alleged victims will ask the Office of Public Prosecutions to examine the case, while the matter could also be referred to the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission.

Leading Senior Constable Dennis Gundrill and Senior Constable Simon Mareangareu will face the Ringwood Magistrate Court over the alleged assault on Christmas morning 2014 near a convenience store in Vermont.

The boys, who had just completed Year 11, were detained for several hours at Ringwood police station, and later charged with resisting arrest and possession of a small quantity of marijuana.  But all charges against the 17-year-olds were dropped in August last year.

An internal investigation by Whitehorse CIU was only launched when the father of the alleged victim handed over video footage from the phone.

It is understood there are discrepancies between the statements given by Mr Gundrill and Mr Mareangareu, which also differ markedly from the footage of the incident and evidence given by an independent witness.

Mr Gundrill and Mr Mareangareu were initially suspended with pay, but both men are now permitted to perform non-operational duties. They have not faced any disciplinary action from Victoria Police.

Mr Gundrill was previously involved in a serious assault at Ringwood police station in 2008, when he held Bonsai gardener, Tim Vivoda, before another officer punched him "as hard as he could" in the face. The entire incident was captured on CCTV cameras.

During a civil case in the County Court in 2013, Mr Vivoda was awarded $130,000 in damages after Judge Chris O'Neill ruled his treatment by police had breached his rights and undermined public confidence in the force.

Judge O'Neill expressed reservations about Mr Gundrill's credibility during the trial and rejected some of his evidence.

"Clearly the evidence was given after a reconstruction from the footage ... That was an artificial reconstruction and not an honest recollection," Judge O'Neill said.

The most recent allegations of excessive police force raise further concerns about the contentious practice of police investigating their colleagues, particularly when the respective parties are known to each other.

According to the Human Rights Law Centre, more than 90 per cent of complaints about police conduct are referred back to Victoria Police, despite the IBAC having jurisdiction to handle them.

"When serious allegations are made against police, it's essential that the complainant and the public have confidence in a system that is fair and impartial and properly resourced to deal with their complaint. Serious complaints should not be referred back to police to investigate their own conduct," said HRLC spokeswoman Anna Brown.

In July last year, Victoria's highest court referred allegations of police brutality and racism to the IBAC to determine if an independent investigation should be launched into a complaint by Ethiopian man Nassir Bare.

Mr Bare claimed that officers smashed his teeth in a gutter, racially vilified him and capsicum-sprayed him when he was handcuffed, after police stopped his car in February 2009.

The now defunct Office of Police Integrity decided not to investigate the allegations by Mr Bare, who unsuccessfully appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

But the Court of Appeals found the OPI's decision was unlawful and ordered the matter be sent to the IBAC.


Parents of whooping cough victim share heartbreaking video of baby's final days

Because they have destroyed herd immunity, the anti-vaxxers kill babies.  One example below.  In their ignorance and paranoia, they have a lot to answer for

The devastated parents of four-week-old Riley Hughes, who died of whooping cough last year, have shared confronting vision of the struggling infant's final days.

In an emotional Facebook post, mum Catherine said she had kept the videos to herself since Riley's death in March of 2015 but felt compelled to share the heartbreaking clips in an effort to convince other parents to take measures against spreading the disease.

"I have always kept these videos to myself, as it makes my blood run cold listening to my beautiful boy cough like that," she wrote.

"But we are sharing this in the hopes that it will convince just one more pregnant mum to protect their baby from this disease."

Mrs Hughes has previously said how she was vaccinated as a child and received the booster shot three years before Riley's birth, "and was told by medical professionals this was sufficient".

Baby Riley was admitted to Perth's Princess Margaret Hospital when a tiny cough took over his body.

The cough developed into a "whoop" sound and left the little boy struggling to breath. Within days, the disease destroyed his lungs and heart and ultimately took his life.

Too young to be vaccinated, Riley's family had been defenceless to the highly contagious disease.

But along with dealing with the loss of their baby, Riley's parents have used their experience to campaign for awareness of the importance of vaccinations, and making sure new mums know what they can do to keep their babies healthy and prevent their children from infecting other kids.

"Whooping cough can be deadly in young babies ... but it can now be prevented," Mrs Hughes writes.

"A whooping cough vaccine in the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy provides excellent protection from whooping cough to newborns (who are too young to be vaccinated). Keeping those who are sick away from newborns is also important."

The family has made it their mission to "help ensure no more babies die from this disease".

"I loved being Riley's mum for those four weeks. I wish it were longer," Mrs Hughes captioned the very personal video message.

"Please share to help ensure no more babies die from this disease, which I hope one day will be relegated to the history books."


FactCheck: does Australia run one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world?

"Australia runs one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world". - Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, speaking with Sarah Dingle on ABC Radio National Breakfast, January 4, 2015.

When asked for data to support the assertion, a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training said that

    "Compared to other student loan schemes, the income-contingent nature of both Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) loans Trade Support Loans (TSL) protects low income earners from making loan repayments they may not be able to afford. Australia's student loan schemes allow deferment of repayment obligations in cases of extreme financial hardship. During the life of the loan Australian students pay no real interest rate".

Overall, it is true that many features of Australia's loan schemes for tuition fees make it more generous than most other countries that charge for higher education. But from a student's perspective, how generous Australia is depends on exactly which aspect of the loan scheme you're looking at.

This FactCheck will examine how Australia compares to other countries when it comes to:

    the two key types of student loan schemes on offer here and overseas;

    how generous Australia's scheme is compared to countries with similar schemes;

    how much you have to earn in different countries before loan
repayments start;

   how much different governments internationally subsidise the cost of higher education;

    the interest rates charged on student loans;

    and finally whether there are any countries where students don't need a loan to get a degree.

The two key types of student loans

Australia's Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) lends students the cost of their tertiary education fees, and requires repayment on an income-contingent basis.

For 2015-16, repayment starts when HELP debtors reach an annual income of A$54,126. At that point, debtors repay 4% of their income.

Many other OECD countries also offer public loans to students for higher education, usually a mortgage-style loan. Under mortgage-style loans, repayments are required regardless of income and do not vary with how much debtors earn.

Only a few countries offer national level income-contingent student loans, including Australia, England and New Zealand.

Unlike mortgage-style loans, income-contingent loans prevent students who are unable to repay going bankrupt or having their credit rating downgraded. That could be considered generous.
How does Australia compare to other countries with income-contingent student loans?

Three key aspects of HELP's settings determine how generous it is among countries with income-contingent student loan schemes:

    the initial threshold for repayment

    how much needs to be repaid each year, and

    the interest rate on debt.

Repayment thresholds

The HELP income threshold of around A$54,000 makes it the highest in the OECD. For graduates with a relatively low to average income (below A$54,000), the scheme is more generous than in other countries.

For people earning above the threshold, repayment systems are harder to compare. HELP has the lowest repayment rates, between 4% and 8% depending on income. This compares to 9% in England, 12% in New Zealand, and 10% to 20% on some limited US income-based loans. But HELP repayments are calculated on a debtor's entire income, while in other countries repayments are based on income above the threshold.

If a HELP debtor earns just above the threshold, she or he would repay 4% of total income - A$2,100.

Compared to New Zealand, this is relatively generous. New Zealand loans require debtors to repay once their income is above around A$18,000 (NZ$19,000). Assuming an income of A$54,000, with a repayment rate at 12%, the compulsory repayment would be around A$4,400 a year - twice Australia's compulsory repayment level.

In England, the threshold is around A$35,000 (o17,000) repaying at 9%. As in New Zealand, compulsory repayment is calculated based on income above the threshold. A debtor who earns A$54,000 would repay around A$1,700 under the English system.
Compulsory repayments by income and country

Interest rates on debt

The last test of generosity is the interest rate the government charges on student loans. Australia indexes HELP loans to the consumer price index, which means that loans keep their value in real terms. The government typically borrows at a higher rate, so taxpayers pay much of the interest on student debt - a point that was emphasised by the minister in the interview referred to at the beginning of this article.

While Australia's system on interest is generous, New Zealand's is more so: the NZ government charges no interest on student loans unless debtors live overseas for longer than six months.

In England, interest rates on student loans vary by income. If debtors earn below the income threshold, their debt would be indexed to the retail price index or RPI (a measure of inflation).

But on income above the threshold (or study full-time), the interest is up to RPI plus 3%. High-income debtors face higher interest rates making their student loans less generous than the Australian system. Both the US and the Netherlands charge the government's cost of borrowing on their student loans.
Are there any countries where students don't need a loan to get a degree?

Finally, it's worth noting that several OECD countries, including Germany, Finland and Sweden, charge only nominal tuition fees or no fees at all.

Both Australia and New Zealand provide a direct government subsidy to most undergraduate students that reduces their fees and how much they have to borrow. But the New Zealand government subsidises a higher proportion of total course costs than in Australia on average.

In England, most teaching subsidies have been abolished and students pay the full cost of their degree.


Senator Birmingham is right: Australia does run one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world. It's one of the few countries to offer income-contingent student loans - saving people on low incomes from paying off their students loans, as is more common in the US and other countries.

Is it the cheapest place in the world to get a degree? That's a different question altogether. As noted above, several OECD countries, including Germany, Finland and Sweden, charge little or no tuition fees.


14 January, 2016

Record hot end to 2015 for Australia as giant El Nino dominates

I have left the heading above as it appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, a major Left-leaning newspaper in Australia.  The story was written by a shifty-looking guy named  Peter Hannam, their Environment Editor.

And is Peter shifty!  From the headline the casual reader would assume that Australia had had an exceptionally hot year overall.  It's not until you get way down into a very long article that we find that the year as a whole was only the 6th hottest accordinmg to the BoM.  And that's with El Nino helping to warm things up!  Subtracting the El Nino effect would probably have shown cooling.  But is that discussed?  Not on your Nelly! Warmists are just shifty, period!

Australia has posted its hottest end to any year as the impact of one of the biggest El Ninos on record began to be felt across the continent.

Mean temperatures were 0.36 degrees above the previous record for the October to December period, capping what was Australia's fifth-hottest year since the Bureau of Meteorology began keeping national figures in 1910.

"For temperatures, it was a year of two halves - a relatively cool part of the year and then an extremely warm second half," Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the bureau, said.

Spring was the standout season, with the past three September-November periods comprising the hottest trio on record. Such conditions have led to a busy fire season across southern Australia with a couple of months of summer still to run.

Among the major capitals, Sydney had its third-warmest year on record, just behind the record heat in 2013 and 2014. Statewide, temperatures were 1 degree above average, making it the seventh-hottest year since records began.

Melbourne was also on the warm side, with maximum temperatures ranging between 0.5 and 1 degree above average across the city. Victoria, too, was 1 degree warmer than average for maximums, making it the seventh-hottest year.

Perth was the standout state capital for warmth, recording its equal hottest year on record for maximums, matching 2011 and 2012. Statewide temperatures lagged only 2013 for record heat.

Brisbane had near-average temperatures for the year, while statewide temperatures were the third-warmest on record.

Three big exceptional heatwaves stood out - in March across northern Australia, and in October and December across the south. Tasmania was one place to have a cool winter and late-season snow across northern NSW and into Queensland was another cold weather extreme.

For the final three months of 2015, average mean temperatures were 1.93 degrees above the 1961-90 average, easily eclipsing the previous record of anomaly 1.57 degrees set just a year earlier. October itself was 2.89 degrees above the norm - the most for any month in the 106 years of records.

Warming to come

The monster El Nino in the Pacific, which rivals the 1997-98 and 1982-83 events, appears to have peaked in recent weeks, the bureau said on Tuesday.

The event, which may not break up until the autumn, will most likely give Australian temperatures a relatively warm start to 2016 - notwithstanding the unusually cool and wet week now under way across the eastern seaboard.

In the trailing year of El Ninos, "the first half of the year is often significantly warmer than average", Dr Trewin said.

For 2015 as a whole, area-averaged mean temperatures were 0.83 degrees above the 1961-90 average. Maximum temperatures were 0.96 degrees above average, the sixth hottest on record, the bureau said.


Australia's largest uni goes smoke free

Smokers will no doubt call this tyrannical but a ban would not be needed if they had the decency to stop imposing their foul habit on others

Smoking has been banned on all campuses of a major Victorian university.  Monash University announced that smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, would be banned from every campus, including grounds and vehicles from January 2016.

The university said it was part of a broader commitment by all Victorian universities to provide healthier smoke-free environments.

"There is clear evidence to show that smoke-free environments increase the rate of quitting and reduce the amount of people taking up smoking," the university said in a statement.

Students, staff and visitors will need to leave the campus to light up and those caught smoking on university grounds may face "disciplinary action".


Australia Day lamb ad dubbed violent towards vegans, racist

THE latest Australia Day lamb ad has come under fire for racial insensitivity and promoting violence towards vegans.

This year's campaign, which brings together Lambassador Sam Kekovich and legendary SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin, is based around a mission to save Aussies abroad from having to go without a lamb barbecue on Australia Day.

Chin leads an army, including Fitzy & Wippa, across the likes of Tokyo, London and Bali, on a journey to bring home a number of prominent Aussies.

One of the people Chin's army brings home includes a vegan whose apartment is set on fire.

It is this scene that has sparked complaints, including on the Facebook page of Meat and Livestock Australia, which created the ad.

Others have complained about the use of the term "boomerang" arguing it is insensitive to indigenous Australians, especially leading into Australia Day.

A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Bureau said it had received close to 300 complaints since the ad was launched - the majority about discrimination against vegans.

The spokeswoman told News Corp Australia a meeting of the ASB board will be convened to review the ad - possibly prior to Australia Day.

"It will go to our next board meeting. The board will decide on whether to dismiss or uphold the ad. If it is dismissed it has to then be removed," she said.


The ad is clearly a lark, not to be taken literally. So what's wrong with disrespecting Vegans?  They're deluded.  Human beings, like many higher mammals, are omnivores.  Being Vegan is unnatural and risky to your health

Security guards at last force squatters off stranded Alcoa ship MV Portland

Security guards have mounted a secret midnight raid to forcibly remove the crew of the long-stranded Alcoa ship MV Portland.

The guards then escorted aboard a replacement crew who immediately began sailing the carrier towards Singapore.

The ship had been docked in the far south-west Victorian port of Portland for two months, with its sacked Australian crew refusing to sail it to Singapore where is to be scrapped.

At 1am Wednesday, a contingent of security guards - estimated by the Maritime Union of Australia to number more than 30 - boarded the ship, woke the five crew members on board, handed them their passports and escorted them down the gangplank.

Shortly after a replacement crew, believed to be foreign seafarers, was escorted on board.

By dawn, Portland residents awoke to discover the ship that has hauled alumina from Western Australia to Portland's Alcoa aluminium smelter for the past 27 years was nowhere to be seen.

"This is the worst example of guerrilla tactics to get rid of Australian workers since Patricks," said the MUA national secretary, Paddy Crumlin.

In 1998, the Patrick Corporation locked workers out of their port operations, and dogs and balaclava-wearing security guards were used.

The 40 Australian crew members of the MV Portland have lost legal actions in the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court, where they argued the Federal Government's "temporary coastal licence", which allows Alcoa to replace the MV Portland with a foreign-flagged vessel and foreign crew, was invalid.

The MUA claimed the ship could not be sailed to Singapore because of a shortage of seafarers available to operate it.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten labelled the midnight raid "disturbing" and "Work Choices on water".

"I'm deeply disturbed that we're seeing Australian seafarers being marched off ships, replaced by foreign seafarers.  "If nothing else, a government in Australia should stand up for Australian jobs," Mr Shorten said.

"What we see here is Work Choices on water being introduced by the back door with a nod and a wink by Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberals," he said.

Mr Shorten said in addition to concerns about Australian jobs, he was also worried about national security and protection of the local environment.

"There's an industrial dispute but that's the tip of the iceberg. What we see is Australian seafarers, Australian jobs being replaced by foreign seafarers, foreign jobs on our coastline," he said.

?ACTU assistant secretary Scott Connolly described the early morning raid as "an attack on Australian workers and their families that has no place in a modern Australian workplace".

"An acceptance that people can be forcibly removed from their place of work in an orchestrated midnight action should send shivers down the spine of all Australian workers," he said.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said: "it is not for industrial parties to pick and choose which orders of the Commission they will comply with. "If the obligation to follow orders of the independent umpire is only seen as optional, then the integrity of the entire Fair Work system is put at risk".

Alcoa has stated the replacement of the MV Portland and its Australian crew will save the company $6 million a year.

Alcoa said it took "decisive action today to end protracted illegal industrial action".

"Alcoa has been extremely tolerant and given the MUA and its members every opportunity to stop their illegal industrial action," the managing director of Alcoa Australia, Michael Parker, said in a statement issued on Wednesday morning.

"Instead, the MUA has held our ship hostage for two months; disrupting the lives of other crew members, disrupting operations at the Port of Portland, and threatening the Portland community with the loss of cruise ship visits."


Australian Research Links Nutritional Supplement To Cancer

Chromium is most frequently used in supplement form for weight management, body building and type 2 diabetes. Now UNSW and University of Sydney research has revealed that chromium is partially converted into a carcinogenic form when it enters cells, prompting concerns about commonly taken dosages.

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommend 25-35 micrograms of chromium daily as an adequate adult intake. The US National Academy of Sciences advises that a maximum of 200 micrograms of chromium a day is considered safe.

Some commercially available tablets have been found to contain up to 500 micrograms of chromium each.

The research, published in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, was conducted on animal fat cells, which were x-rayed to allow scientists to observe the behaviour of chromium within the cell.  "We were able to show that oxidation of chromium inside the cell does occur, as it loses electrons and transforms into a carcinogenic form," said UNSW's Dr Lindsay Wu.

"This is the first time oxidation was observed in a biological sample with the same results expected in human cells."

The researchers say more study is needed to conclusively say whether the supplements significantly alter cancer risk.


13 January, 2016

Stupid Green/Left thinktank  wants the rich to pay capital gains tax on their family homes

Touching the family home is touching the third rail of Australian politics.  Any government that proposed it would be slaughtered.  Even the ALP has walked away from the idea

THE capital gains tax exemption for main residences should be scrapped for properties worth $2 million or more, The Australia Institute says.

In a new report released on Monday, the independent think-tank said the move would raise almost $12 billion in revenues over the next four years - more than half of which could come from the nation's highest income earners.

It said the change would help the Prime Minister make good on his pledge that taxation reforms would be fair and comes after News Corp revealed a similar CGT concession given to some homeowners was responsible for lost revenues of nearly $24b over the past five years.

According to the report the main residence exemption - which excludes homeowners' principal place of residence from CGT - cost the budget $46b last year and will result in a further $189b in lost revenues over the next four years.

"Each year the cost of the CGT exemption on the main residence costs the federal budget more than Defence, Education or Medicare," the report said.

The report, based on NATSEM modelling, said Australia's poorest households - the bottom 30 per cent - received "almost no benefit" from the tax break.

"Almost 90 per cent of the benefit goes to the top half of income earners while the bottom half only get 11 per cent," it said.  "High income households (those in the top 20 per cent) get more than half of the benefit (55 per cent)."

"This policy change (would) impact on less than one per cent of home sales while still raising $11.8b over the next four years", the report said.

Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said capital gains tax concessions were responsible for lost revenue of nearly $200 billion over the forward estimates.

"It's more than the entire spending on the aged pension; more than the government spends on Medicare," he told the ABC.

"If you are considering genuine tax reform and if the budget is in strife it would seem nonsensical not to have a look at it.

"And unlike say raising the GST to 15 per cent, tackling the capital gains tax discount and its interaction with negative gearing is likely only to affect the most well off in society and yet give the budget bottom line a big boost."

However, Housing Industry Australia senior economist Shane Garrett the exemption drove demand for new homes and scrapping concession would negatively impact the housing marking.

"The CGT exemption on the family home is one way to encourage demand for new homes and it's also a way to encourage more new homes to be built," he told the ABC.

"And in the context of supply shortages that are affecting parts of the market around Australia at the moment we think it would have very detrimental impacts from that point of view."

Mr Garrett said the proposed $2 billion threshold was too low.

"In Sydney for example the median house price at the moment is close to $1m so for a $2b situation that would affect some houses that would not be particularly at the extreme end of the (wealth) scale," he said.

"There are many fairly standard houses in Sydney now that would be in that price bracket."

Data from Core Logic shows there are 71 suburbs across the country with a media house sale price of $2m or more. Of these, 61 suburbs are in NSW.

Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon said he was open to considering "carefully calibrated" changes to CGT.

"Obviously any move to remove CGT exceptions to tinker with negative gearing needs to be done very carefully, very cautiously so that you don't end up putting a massive wet blanket on the housing market around the country," he said.

"The housing market in Sydney is very different from the housing market in Adelaide or Hobart for instance.

"I want to see some modelling on this. I know $2 billion can get you a very nice place in SA, maybe not so luxurious in Sydney.

"I think we need to look at it and look at it on a region-by-region basis and market-by-market basis."

But Minister for International Development and the Pacific Steve Ciobo has poured cold water on the proposal.

"Look, Ben Oquist, who is the CEO of The Australia Institute is a former chief of staff to Bob Brown," he told Sky News. "He's regarded by the Greens as being a bit of a political hero for them.

"I don't actually think a lot of what he has to say has much support in terms of economic theory.  "I certainly don't believe it's got any political support.

"I notice even the Labor Party, as desperate as they are for Greens support, even the Labor Party have walked away from this proposal."

Mr Ciobo said the proposal would penalise the "one industry that is actually providing a strong period of growth".

"The fact is people who are investing for property also provide property for renters," he said.

"They might be purchasing properties and doing redevelopments and putting in place five or six or seven or eight strata titled apartments which of course add to Australia's housing pool.

"At the end of the day there is no magic formula to this."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison have previously said everything remained "on the table" when it came to tax reform, while Mr Turnbull has also pledged to keep any changes "fair".

The report said the Federal Budget deficit - predicted to balloon to $37.4b this year - could not be improved through cost cutting alone.

"The government must also look to revenue measures if it wants to effectively reduce the budget deficit," it said.

"If Mr Turnbull's stated goal of fairness is to be achieved, the government's next measurers should reduce the budget deficit in ways that don't impact on low income households."

Analysis of Treasury figures by News Corp last week found the 50 per cent capital gains tax concession given to property investors who hold a property for more than a year was expected to shave $23b from Federal Government coffers over the next three years.


TPP benefits only modest for Australia, World Bank finds

But the farmers like it and they need all the help they can get

Australia will reap fewer benefits from the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal than most of the members, according to the first comprehensive research on the economic impact of the deal since it was agreed last October.

The findings on the main beneficiaries come as the prospects of the deal being implemented appear to have been improved significantly in the new year, with key US business groups endorsing it after earlier equivocation.

New Zealand is also reported to be planning to host a signing ceremony in early February to maintain the momentum towards full implementation, after opposition in the US Congress threatened to delay ratification in the US until after the November presidential election.

US President Barack Obama is expected to push for US ratification before he leaves office in his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, drawing on the new official statements of support from three peak business groups.

Low GDP increase

But research by the World Bank shows that Australia is likely to experience a gross domestic product increase of less than two percentage points by 2030 as a result of the increased business flowing from the trade deal among 12 countries.

This compares with GDP increases of about 10 per cent for Vietnam and 8 per cent for Malaysia. They benefit from getting new access to larger markets in the US and Japan, which Australia already has.

Australia will also have one of the smallest overall increases in exports by 2030 of about 5 per cent, compared with about 30 per cent for Vietnam and 10 per cent for the US.

The US-led TPP was agreed between trade ministers from the 12 members in October after seven years of negotiations, but still needs to be ratified by the parliaments of most member countries. It covers 25 per cent of world trade and 36 per cent of the global economy.

World Bank findings

While the World Bank study released last week underlined how Australia's already open trade regime makes it one of the lesser beneficiaries, it welcomed the agreement as a potentially important offset to declining world trade growth.

"As a new-generation, deep and comprehensive trade agreement, TPP addresses a wide range of complex trade policy issues that go beyond the scope of traditional trade agreements.

"The agreement will reduce tariffs and restrictiveness of non-tariff measures as well as harmonise a range of regulations to encourage the integration of supply chains and cross-border investment."

The World Bank study's findings on the beneficiaries from the final agreement are broadly in line with earlier academic forecasts about the deal.

However the Australian government argues that Australia may reap other longer-term benefits by being on the inside of what might become the main framework for business rule-making across the Asia Pacific region.

The World Bank lends weight to this argument by saying: "Against the background of slowing trade growth,rising non-tariff impediments to trade, and insufficient progress in global negotiations, the TPP represents an important milestone.

"The TPP stands out among FTAs (free trade agreements) for its size, diversity and rulemaking."

It says: "Much will depend on whether the TPP is quickly adopted and effectively implemented, and whether it triggers productive reforms in developing and developed countries.

"Broader systemic effects, in turn, will require expanding such reforms to global trade, whether through TPP enlargement, competitive effects on other trade agreements, or new global rules."

Last week a Chilean official revealed that the New Zealand government was planning a signing ceremony in early February, even though many legislatures are yet to ratify the deal. However, New Zealand has not confirmed the event.

While the US has led the TPP negotiations in recent years, New Zealand claims original ownership of the initiative as the sponsor of the four-member trade deal at the heart of the group.


Lockout laws: How Newcastle stopped the bloodshed

In the once-industrial stronghold of Newcastle, there remained something of an element of the Wild West in 2008.

In a city trying to rebrand itself as a coastal tourism destination, weekends followed a pattern not unfamiliar in many cities across Australia.

Young people would pre-load on alcohol at home before flooding to CBD nightclubs en masse when bottle shops closed, where they would commence reloading until 5am.

When security staff turfed them into the street, all bloodied, violent hell would break loose.

Newcastle had the highest rates of alcohol-fuelled assaults and injuries in New South Wales, along with the highest rates of assaults on police officers and drink driving, according to Tony Brown, an inner city resident who led the community push to curb the problem.

"It was a literal blood bath, most residents were too afraid to leave their houses, the hospital emergency department was stretched to its limit," Mr Brown said.

"The only winners were the late trading premises. We had approximately 20,000 young people every weekend at the CBD able to drink until 5am uninterrupted.

"There were too many lives lost as a result of that and the (alcohol) industry exhibited a pathological incapability of accepting responsibility.

"They were making a motza out of loading young people up in the licensed premises, kicking them out and making the public bear the costs."

Mr Brown led the charge for what was initially known as the Newcastle experiment and has, in the eight years since it was implemented, since become known as the Newcastle solution.

In the face of a massive backlash from the 12 to 14 nightclub operators who were crying economic catastrophe, the Newcastle coalition, comprised of police, community and local council members, scaled trading hours back to 3am in the CBD and instituted a lockout that prevented patrons entering licensed venues after 1am.

Assault rates dropped almost immediately and other cities and towns quickly followed suit in establishing the measures.

Not only that, according to Mr Brown, in the eight years since it has been established, the city's night-time economy has improved.

It is now, he said, a safe place people want to venture out for a drink.  "It has totally transformed the Newcastle nightlife," he said.

"In surveying the community, they have said there is much improved safety, more diversity of venues and more inclusiveness.

"Not only that it has led to a much, much more prosperous night time economy. "There has been a 100 per cent increase in the number of licensed premises, which has led to more jobs."

This week, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath reaffirmed the Labor Government's election commitment to instituting similar measures across the Sunshine State, after the issue of alcohol-fuelled violence was again thrust into the spotlight following the death of 18-year-old Cole Miller.

But while the approach has many backers, particularly among the law enforcement and medical fraternities, it also has its detractors, fuelled largely by what outspoken Queensland MP and maxillofacial surgeon Anthony Lynham has this week termed a "scare campaign" on the part of the alcohol industry.

Lockouts loosely based on the Newcastle approach were trialled in Melbourne in 2008 but abandoned in what many point to as a spectacular failure, when assaults and ambulance call outs in the area increased.

In a 2013 study, British anthropologist Anne Fox examined Australia's night-time economy, reaching the conclusion the problem of violence in the country's nightclub precincts was cultural, not attributable to alcohol.

"In a nutshell, the central point of my report is that it is the wider culture that determines behaviour while drinking, not the drinking per se," she wrote.

"While there are very good health reasons to reduce excessive drinking, you must influence culture if you want to change behaviour."

The study was commissioned by alcohol production giant Lion, which, among it's array of beverages, produces Queensland's XXXX.

Vivienne Crompton, a researcher at the Institute of Public Affairs Legal Rights project urged the Queensland Government to take the increased enforcement approach in 2013, saying in regards to lockout laws it should "take heed from Melbourne's own unmitigated failure".

"Increased police presence is the only way we can hope to reduce fighting on our streets," she said.

"The proposed curfew is just a nanny-state, knee-jerk response that has no hope of stemming the violence."

It's something Queensland police officer turned Bond University academic Terry Goldsworthy does not entirely agree with.

"Lockouts have been proven to be effective in conjunction with reduced trading hours, I think the real question here is, 'do we need to be drinking until 5am?" he said.

Dr Goldsworthy said a combined approach to the problem was required, not one or the other.

"Newcastle and other jurisdictions clearly show that approach has a substantial effect on the reduction of violent crime and you don't necessarily place it elsewhere as the liquor industry argues," he said.

"But also, people are far less likely to act in an anti-social manner when there are plenty of police there.

"You do need to weigh up the costs of policing and incarceration with the long terms costs of violent crime, like long term care and medical costs."


God and religion are not dead just yet...

Peter Kurti

Enthusiasm for silencing religious voices and getting the faithful to keep their beliefs to themselves can blind us to the important connections between religion -- particularly, but not only, Christianity -- and the institutions of liberty and prosperity we have come to cherish in Australia.

God is changing, or at least the involvement with God of western liberal societies is changing. In parts of Europe and in countries like Australia the 'secularisation thesis' holds that religion is gradually being displaced altogether from society. God is on the way out, it says.

Certainly this process of displacement is being accompanied by what appears to be the outright decay of familiar forms of religion. But while traditional religions are losing ground in the west, other religions, such as Islam, are putting new pressures on governments and societies.

No wonder God is seen variously as too timid, too militant, or completely redundant. And no wonder it has never been more important to understand more clearly the contribution religion has made to modern liberal society.

Sovereignty of the individual, for example, owes much to Christianity with its egalitarian moral insight about individual liberty. The emergence of the free individual brought with it a new social and economic status, and the capacity to give informed consent at the ballot box or in a contract.

There is much to criticize in today's materialistic culture, but the individual's freedom to participate in the market has helped to transform communities from widespread poverty to remarkable levels of prosperity. Individual economic agency has been a powerful engine for growth.

You don't have to be religious yourself to recognise that our liberal, democratic way of life has deep roots in religious principles and values. But failure to recognise the important relationship between religion and liberty is likely to lead to a broader indifference to liberty in general.

Of course, none of this is to assert that religion will never wither and disappear from view and practice. But predictions of its demise have so far been off the mark. "Religion and spirituality in Australia [are] about hope," says sociologist Gary Bouma.

Such hope, and the generation of that hope through actions, beliefs and practices, is critical for maintaining the freedom, resilience and vitality of a liberal society whose freedoms we can so easily take for granted.


12 January, 2016

Climate Change Is Taking A Toll On Farmers' Mental Health (?)

The nonsense below simply assumes what it has to prove.  And what it presumes is wrong.  Recent droughts have not been  caused by global warming because there has been no warming.  Drought sure is hard on farmers but that is all that they have to report below.

But, Hey! Let's not be hard on these Warmist galoots.  Let's give them threir assumption that warming is happening.  Will that cause droughts?  Hardly.  A warmer earth will mean warmer oceans -- which will evaporate off more water vapour -- which will fall as rain.  So drought is the last thing that warming will cause.  It is more likely to cause floods

So these galoots have got the brains of a slug -- and are just as slimy

The success or failure of a farming operation depends hugely on the vagaries of weather and climate. For a farmer, a single intense rain event or prolonged dry period can mean a year of lost crops and income.

Climate change is expected to make the line between success and failure even more tenuous for farmers in the future. And this uncertainty about growing conditions is having a noticeable impact on farmers' mental health, according to a recent study out of Australia's Murdoch University.

To understand how climate change is impacting farmers' mental wellbeing, Neville Ellis, from Murdoch University's Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, interviewed 22 farmers from the Australian town of Newdegate, located in the country's southwestern corner. A self-sufficient farming community, Newdegate lies in what is known as Australia's Wheatbelt, an area of high agricultural importance for Australia.

Since the mid-1970s, Australia's Wheatbelt has undergone an intense period of drying, with a 20 percent decline in rainfall over the past several decades. That trend is expected to continue as climate change worsens, with Western and Southwestern Australia set to encounter hotter, drier seasons in the coming years.

Ellis interviewed farmers in Newdegate throughout 2013 and 2014, which proved to be some Western Australia's warmest years on record and some of the driest for Southwestern Australia.
They shut themselves off in their properties with the curtains drawn so they wouldn't have to face the realities outside

After conducting the interviews, Ellis found that increasingly variable weather was having a negative impact on many farmers' wellbeing.

"The South West [sic] of Western Australia has experienced abrupt and severe climate change in the last forty years," Ellis said in the study's press release. "Farmers have always worried about the weather but today that worry is becoming detrimental to their mental health and wellbeing. They feel they have less ability to exert control over their farmlands and as a result are fearful for their future."

Uncertainty, Ellis said, seemed to be at the heart of the farmers' concerns. According to his interviews, some farmers would check weather forecasts on their phones "up to 30 times a day" across numerous websites. Ellis also said that he talked to farmers that would track distant weather events, like storms in Africa, in the hope that those rains could potentially make their way to Australia.

According to Ellis, one subject referred to the state of farmers' mental health as akin to seasonal affective disorder - except that instead of suffering from lack of sunlight, farmers are suffering from a lack of rain.

"The farms are more than just a business for these farmers - it's their home, their personal history. There is no escape if they have a bad day at work," Ellis said. "Some I talked to had become completely disengaged from the predictions and the forecasts - they shut themselves off in their properties with the curtains drawn so they wouldn't have to face the realities outside."

In the United States, climate change is expected to force similar shifts key agricultural regions, especially in the Midwestern Corn Belt, where climate change will likely bring longer periods of dry heat coupled with intense rains. In 2014, the USDA created seven regional "Climate Hubs" aimed at helping farmers obtain up-to-date information about climate and weather. In collaboration with other USDA agencies and land-grant universities, the Climate Hubs are working to create tools that can give farmers the most accurate and up-to-date information about impending weather and climate shifts.

"What farmers really want to know is what is going to happen in the next five to ten days," Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture at Cornell University, told ThinkProgress. "What we're working to do [at Cornell] is develop some online decision tools that take the long term weather data that we have, as well as the climate projections, and give farmers a tool that they can use to make more informed decisions."


How disappointing to the BoM: 2015 only the 5th hottest year -- even with El Nino helping

Last year was among the top five warmest years in Australian history, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has said in its annual report.  Temperatures were 0.83 degrees Celsius above the long-term average, the report said.

It also noted rainfall was well below average across several areas of Australia - including a large area of inland Queensland, where after three consecutive poor wet seasons long-term drought continued.

Karl Braganza, climate monitoring manager with the BoM, said the El Nino weather pattern was largely behind the hot, dry conditions in 2015. "It's often dry in Australia during an El Nino event," he said.

"The other thing El Nino does is elevates the global surface temperature around the planet as well."

The World Meteorological Organisation has said it was extremely likely that 2015 would be recorded as the hottest year on record globally, when temperatures were averaged out.

"Typically, El Nino tends to be warmer than other years globally, and when you combine that with the global warming trend - so an increase of about a degree over the last century - that's when you start to see records broken, which is what we saw in 1997-98 and what we've seen in 2015 as well," Dr Braganza said.

"Not all parts of the globe are going to record their hottest year when the global temperature comes in as the hottest year on record. "Some parts of the global will be cooler and some will be warmer."


Bullying parents: NSW principals among most threatened in Australia

The "safety and welfare of employees is a paramount concern," the NSW Department of Education has said, after a damning report found that NSW principals suffered some of the highest rates of bullying and violence in the country.

The study, released in December, found that parents were the primary source of threats of violence against principals and that NSW principals were five times more likely to be threatened than the general population.

"The trend is extremely worrying in NSW," said Philip Riley? from the Australian Catholic University. Professor Riley interviewed more than 4000 principals around the country for the Australian Principal Occupation Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey.

"A lot of the offensive behaviours are increasing in a very big way in NSW. It's right up there, in terms of trends NSW and Tasmania are the two worst states."

Professor Riley said that there were countless examples of parents intimidating principals across the state with parents in large rural towns the worst offenders.

"In one instance a principal was being stalked by a parent because they didn't like how they were treating their children. The principal would be working late at night in the country town and car lights would flash across the window and then follow them home."

In another instance a principal was slammed against a wall by a senior lawyer demanding a refund for a school trip his child could not attend due to illness.

In Western Australia last year, three principals were hospitalised due to being bashed by members of the school community .

"The overriding thing is there is a sense of entitlement that parents have that they know how to run a school and they know what they should be done for their child," said Professor Riley 

Now in its fifth year, the longitudinal study found that principals are up to twice as likely to suffer from burnout, depression and sleeplessness than the general population.

Professor Riley said that the cross sector analysis showed little improvement in the experience of principals between government, independent and Catholic schools.

"The common rhetoric is that everything is better in private schools but that is just not true in terms of health and wellbeing, and that has to translate to students," he said.

On average, female principals experienced 10 per cent more violence and bullying in the workplace.

Only 50 per cent of principals reported feeling supported from colleagues inside the school, while only one in 10 felt they were being supported by their employers.

The President of the NSW Secondary Principals association, Lila Mularczyk? said the findings on parental bullying were not a surprise.

"It can be difficult and awkward for parents as they want to do the best for their child and sometimes they may respond in a volatile way," she said.

She said she had experienced abuse first hand.

"There have been instances when I have received verbal and physical intimidation from adults in the community. That has lessened over the years as I developed trust and relationships."

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said that the department continues to work closely with its principals to review and develop new resources to support health and wellbeing.

Professor Riley said that he hoped to extend the survey to teachers next year, describing the bullying culture as "endemic".

"The survey has just uncovered something that is entrenched and been there for a long time," he said.


Police hit Muslim bikie gang

A VIOLENT new bikie gang has recently muscled itself into Sydney from overseas, posing a dangerous new rivalry to established gang chapters here.

The feared Satudarah emerged in Australia last year and has established chapters in NSW, South Australia and Queensland, mostly through social media.

The gang, which has a reputation for extreme violence, is not one of the 10 gangs whose members are now subject to strict association restrictions under new anti-bikie laws.

The Satudarah MC was founded in the town of Moordrecht, southern Holland in 1990. Its first members were immigrants or children of immigrants from the former Dutch possession Moluccas, now part of Indonesia.

The term "satu darah" comes from the Indonesian and Malay languages and has a meaning of "one blood".

The gang began establshing itself in Sydney and other states last year when Australian Crime Commission chief executive Chris Dawson confirmed his organisation, through the Australian Gangs Intelligence Coordination Centre, was "aware of the Satudarah outlaw motorcycle gang and its recent presence in some Australian states''.

"Outlaw motorcycle gangs are not harmless motorcycle clubs. They are well organised criminal gangs causing harm and disruption across our country,'' he said.

In February the Gangs Squad's Strike Force Raptor received intelligence Satudarah were attempting to start new chapters in NSW.

After an extensive investigation by Raptor officers four members of Satudarah including the chapter president have been arrested effectively shutting down the Chapter in Sydney.

Those arrested included a 22-year-old man at Ryde Police Station last Tuesday charged with possess prohibited drug, supply prohibited drug, and habitually consort with convicted offender after warning.

He has been bail and is due to appear at Bankstown Local Court on January 27.

The next day two men aged 30 and 31 were arrested at Parramatta Police Station. The 31-year-old was charged with habitually consort with convicted offender after warning. He has been granted bail and is due to appear at Parramatta Local Court on February 11.

The 30-year-old man, alleged Chapter President, was charged with publish false misleading material to obtain property. He is due to appear at Parramatta Local Court on the same date.

He was previously charged on December 2 last year with offences including use offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence, assault and malicious damage after an incident the previous month.

Police will allege in court that during the incident at Menai the accused used a knife to assault another man. He was refused bail in relation to that matter which is due to be heard before Bankstown Local Court on 8 February 2016.

A 29-year-old man was issued a Future Court Attendance Notice for hinder police. He is due to appear at Bankstown Local Court on Wednesday 27 January 2016.

As part of the investigation, Strike Force Raptor had previously executed a search warrant at the Satudarah OMCG clubhouse in Bankstown on Thursday 5 November 2015, where they seized methylamphetamine (Ice), OMCG colours and paraphernalia, and items related to firearm possession.

The club house was shut down at this time and remains closed.


What Happened in Paris?

 by Queensland farmer, Viv Forbes

Premature Celebrations by Sceptics

Many climate sceptics are celebrating that "nothing in the Paris deal is legally binding." They should look deeper. They have suffered a huge political defeat.

Skeptics are winning the climate science debate, but the main battle is no longer about facts and science " it is about propaganda and politics. There were few scientists at COP21 talking about atmospheric physics - just politicians, bureaucrats and green activists discussing emission targets, carbon taxes, climate reparations and who will pay.

The Paris party organisers managed to assemble representatives of 196 nations with the aim of getting 100% agreement on something/anything that would assist their clandestine campaign for world government and world taxes. This process will cripple the industrial power and political freedom of the Western democracies. They achieved agreement because of leadership by UN loving Western centralists like Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande, Trudeau and Turnbull, helped by misguided theologians, and supported by vested interests in mendicant nations and some powerful competitors of the West.

They spent two weeks reworking the draft document until there was nothing in it that offended any nation. Most of them wanted their benefits clauses made compulsory, but the would-be-providers of such largesse dared not sign obviously binding liabilities because the media and their home electorates were watching.

The UN game plan is for this massive global climate circus to meet regularly in pleasant locations, setting illusory targets, generating publicity and seeking even more green levers to pull. So there is only one legally binding clause " an agreement to table targets, and to meet again.

This is some small reason to celebrate.

The big picture, however, is very gloomy at least in the medium term  -- climate alarmism has been encouraged and will flourish, for a time.

This is the first time those promoting world governments have managed to get what they can now parade as a "world agreement" on a radical agenda. They can now be more confident of using the excuse of global warming to "control carbon dioxide", and to tax rich nations in order to somehow prevent "catastrophic man-made global warming". To sound scientific and credible they have even invented a mythical temperature target ("below 1.5 deg C").

The ability to quote "100% support" gives the war on carbon enormous moral, political and propaganda clout. As would-be-world-Emperor, Ban Ki-moon, exulted ominously:

"What was once unthinkable is now unstoppable."

Therefore things will get worse before they get better. Here is their agenda:

"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution." -- Christiana Figueres, Executive secretary of U.N.'s Convention on Climate Change, and a key organiser of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris COP-21 agreement is already being hailed as "an historic landmark." The whole global network of alarmists with their media friends and the help of green/left politicians will use that 100% figure to intimidate opponents, especially in election campaigns. Even though nothing in the agreement is mandated, the framework and "commitment" is there, and the danger is that globalists among local politicians will scheme for it to become legally binding domestically.

This process will slowly suffocate us via regulation, legislation and coercion by federal, state and local bureaucracies, politicians and even courts. International trade sanctions and offers of green bribery will be used to bully and bribe recalcitrant nations. And as the public and the free media get bored with "climate change alarm", those planning more carbon taxes and energy rationing will make bigger gains, without publicity, often hidden within claims of environmental protection. With their well-planned war on carbon, they have planted the poisonous seeds of world government and the destruction of Western liberty. Now they will diligently feed and water these seeds.

So we can now expect more hyped-up propaganda from the UN green/globalists, from the Mendicants and from the Climate Industry. This will coerce politicians and bureaucrats in the developed nations to create more restrictive green tape and to continue throwing $billions at a problem that doesn't exist. Meanwhile the Eurasians will expand their use of carbon fuels while exploiting every loophole and green business opportunity they can find. The flight of industry and jobs from the West to the East will accelerate.

COP-21 is modelled on the key principle of International Marxism: "From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs." They have even resurrected a trademark of last century"s failed Command Societies - "The Five Year Plans".

This new experiment with Marxism will fail, just like the previous ones. We just hope that the cost in human lives and living standards will not be as large.

But Thinking Greens are Concerned

One bright spot in this Paris agreement is that it will provoke dissension in the green ranks.

Some deep greens now realise that even if all pledges are honoured, human CO2 emissions will continue to increase for years to come. There is also no chance of meeting the agreed  emission goals while keeping the lights on without a massive expansion of nuclear power, which they hate as much as coal; or an expensive campaign to build rapid-response gas power plants (which also release CO2) to cover the flat spots in intermittent green energy production.

Real defenders of the environment are also coming to see that thousands of wind turbines, solar farms, roads, transmission lines and ethanol plantations cause more real environmental and economic damage than reliable concentrated energy provided by coal, oil, gas, nuclear and hydro.

And in due course, genuine greens will also realise they have also been conned by the green energy rent-seekers and financiers who just want their world of green subsidies, tax breaks and mandated markets to continue propping up their dud green-energy speculations.

But the Green Armada is heading for the Rocks of Reality.

There is good news of sorts " the green armada is heading for the rocks of reality, which will prevail over the make-believe world of UN politics and the posh hotels of Paris.

The years of green tomfoolery and waste will be brought to an end by industry closures, job losses, soaring electricity prices and out-of-control deficits. Suddenly there will be no funds for Climate tourism, Climate "research" or Climate aid. When this reality asserts itself, this fatuous Paris agreement will be brushed aside as a stupid distraction.

Using Australia as an example, the Australian economy has always been supported on a three-legged stool: mining/mineral processing, harvesting (farming, forestry and fishing) and foreign inflows (settlers, investors, tourists and export earnings). The rest of Australia is engaged in applying labour, management, marketing, infrastructure, transport, energy, processing, red tape, green tape and taxation to these three backbone industries.

The mining/processing leg has been weakened as commodity prices plunge and soaring electricity prices send refineries overseas. This has been exacerbated by green guerrilla warfare on mining and development " the divestment campaign, legal obstructionism to every development proposal, harassment of investors and financiers, obstruction of exploration activities, delay of every development proposal with claims about heritage or dreamtime, promotion of punitive taxes, lies about "subsidies", an anti-industry anti-hard-science bias in state education, and relentless propaganda to associate mining with ideas like "polluting", "dirty", "climate altering", "reef destroying", "threat to endangered species" etc.

For decades now, green extremists have been sawing away at the mining branch of our economic tree, not realising it was the branch they perched upon. Too late they will discover that much funding for government environmental spending and green energy subsidies comes from direct taxes and royalties on miners and indirectly via government taxes and levies on their massive payments for wages, travel, power, rail, port and contractors.

Mining will recover from this double barrelled assault, but not fast enough to take us back smoothly to the golden years.

The second leg (harvesting the biosphere  via farming, forestry and fishing) is also suffering from bans and barriers on everything " live export bans, development bans, vegetation bans, land use bans, heritage bans, fishing quotas and bans, logging bans, confusion and disputes over animal rights and land rights for farmers, miners, gas producers, explorers and those claiming indigenous rights. Greens are also responsible for encouraging the invasion of natural grasslands by woody weeds, and for the feral pests, weeds and bush-fires that spread in and around their ever-expanding parks, reserves and heritage areas. And Green water policies in the huge Murray Darling Basin give preference to irrigating the Great Southern Ocean in preference to irrigating human towns, crops and orchards. These policies are promoted by those who support one of the goals of Agenda 21 " to depopulate most rural areas.

Farmers are also discouraged from continuing or expanding their operations by the nibbling at their income by compulsory "research" or "marketing" levies on everything they sell. All of this makes our farmers less able to cope with the normal stresses of naturally occurring droughts, floods, fires and cyclones. Should the climate "pause" turn into a natural cooling phase (which will also be drier) farm output will plunge and the second leg will be weakened further. (Although for those farmers who hang on, shortages will then cause food prices to soar).

The third leg, foreign inflows, is also threatened. As the great primary industries weaken and soaring energy prices cripple processing and manufacturing, the world-wide welfare/subsidy/deficit/debt bubble will burst, and foreign investors and tourists will stay at home.

Our Neck is in the Noose . . . What must we do"

After the Paris Party, our neck is in the noose. They are planning a global green tyranny.

To escape we will have to fight the UN, the vested interests, the powerful politicians" club, the public service, the climate industry, the government media, guilt-ridden billionaires, misguided clerics and princes, and the wanna-be-green gang in Hollywood.

But we will win because reality exists even if few recognise it. When economic pains become politically bothersome, new voices will be heard, and truth will be spoken.

What must be done"

In the words of David Cameron (UK PM) we must "Cut the Green Crap" and return to a sane world with sounder industries, economical and reliable electricity generators, prudent politicians and unshackled industries.

The battle must go on. We must protect real environmental values but we must "Cut the Carbon War Crap". Every day we delay will make the cleansing correction more painful.


11 January, 2016

Row over new mosque in Sydney

Australia's right-wing anti-Muslim groups have surfed in on the debate about a new mosque planned for South Hurstville, encouraging people who live outside the area to oppose the $3 million development.

Organisations in Queensland and Victoria have been posting on social media against the development dubbed the "mega mosque"  proposed for King Georges Road, south of Sydney.

And public supporters of the mosque have reported receiving "text messages of hate campaigns" from people opposed to the development.

Reclaim Australia, Stop the Mosque in Bendigo, Aussie Angels Against Sharia  and other group sites have been pushing an online petition opposing the plans. 

On another site named Stop the Mosque, which has more than 9000 followers, there are comments such as "A Mosque is a place that serves as a meeting place for people who are obligated to bring down Australian Democracy, A planning place for those committed to replace the Australian Constitution with Sharia Law, acting on instruction to implement Jihard [sic] to achieve this goal as soon as possible".

On the online petition,Say No to 849 King Georges Road, South Hurstville Mosque, is this comment  "the mosque will change our lives and our children's lives. We worked hard to live in this area and now people want to destroy this,"

Kogarah City Council has received more than 900 submissions and spokeswoman said the number is still growing. It is not yet known how many support the mosque.

The public exhibition period for comment on the plans has been extended to the end of February, but lawyers for the applicant have already taken it to the Land and Environment Court because it was not dealt with by council within the required 40 days.

The applicant for the mosque is Nasser Hussein from architectural firm Ghazi Al Ali on behalf of the company MSAR Holdings Pty Ltd, which has authority from the land owners to lodge the application.

The company lists Mohammad Safwan Abdul-Rahman as the sole director and secretary, but he could not be contacted for comment.

Trouble erupted last year when the plans were submitted for the development showing the mosque would have three levels of underground parking and two levels above ground, including two prayer rooms for a total of 78 worshippers and two classrooms to accommodate 45 people.

Worshippers have been gathering at another private home in South Hurstville for Friday prayers, but that property too has had troubled history with the council temporarily closing it in 2012 because of complaints about parking and noise.

At the time Anthony Mundine, the former footballer and world boxing champion who used the prayer room, believed the problem was prejudice, not parking.

He told Fairfax Media his mother lived next door in the big wide street where every house had off-street parking, so was "baffled" by the objections. He believed it was just an excuse to shut down the mosque.

But online community opinion is evenly split with petitions opposing and as well as in favour of the mosque attracting almost 5000 supporters each.

The "Kogarah Council: Yes to the South Hurstville Mosque"  petition on includes comments from Leila Khaled, who says she is a local resident, arguing it is important for the mosque to go ahead so local Muslim residents have the freedom to practice their religion in their own neighbourhood.

"It will reach out to youth and teach them how Islam is a religion of peace. This needs to be done before the current political radicalisation narrative negatively affects them. It will have open days to reach out and welcome the wider community. This is an opportunity to build bridges, ease concerns, and address misconceptions."

Another comment posted by from Tarik Hussein noted the double standards regarding other developments such as a church built in a residential street with no car park with no objections. He also multiple pubs clubs  in the area offering topless waitresses and attracted police attention because of fights, intoxication, drugs, and gambling - "Yet this behaviour seems to be more socially acceptable & encouraged than a place of worship for Muslims".


Springvale coal mine approval faces challenge from Greenies

The Baird government's approval of a Blue Mountains coal mine expansion contravenes its own planning policy, say environment groups who have begun legal action to overturn the decision.

The 13-year extension of the Springvale coal mine, located near Lithgow, was backed by the Planning Ministry and secured final approval from the independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) last September.

The underground mine will produce as much as 4.5 million tonnes of coal a year from 20 new longwall panels, and continue to discharge untreated waste water into the upper Coxs River.

The river flows through the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and is the second-largest source of water for Sydney's main water reservoir at Warragamba Dam.

Environment groups led by 4nature are challenging the approval in the Land and Environment Court, arguing the move is not compliant with the 2011 State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) covering Sydney's drinking water catchment. The policy permits approvals only for projects that have a neutral or beneficial effect on the area.

Andrew Cox, 4nature's president, said the groups had  found no evidence the government had taken the SEPP into account when approving the project.

The mine will release 19 megalitres a day of waste water - containing salts, metals and other materials - with the flows making up as much as two-thirds of the water in the river at the discharge point.  "How can you possibly rationally conclude that the mine isn't lowering water quality?" Mr Cox said.

Gary Whytcross, director south for the NSW Environment Protection Authority, told Fairfax Media in July that "there's no doubt there will be impacts" for the Coxs River from the mine discharges?, with the high salinity the main concern.

The first legal challenge of the particular SEPP may affect future mine approvals, Mr Cox said.  "It could set an important precedent for development in the catchment, he said. "Other coal mines in the catchment will have to demonstrate that they have a neutral or beneficial impact."

The Environmental Defenders Office of NSW filed the case on December 18, and the court will next consider the matter on February 12, 2016. Operations at Springvale   would not be affected until a final court ruling, 4nature said.

"It is important that the community is able to ensure that decisions are legally robust, and we respect the EDO's right to take this action following the decision by the independent [PAC]," Rob Stokes, Planning Minister, said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Planning and Environment said, the approval had followed an extensive consultation process including state agencies, independent experts and a "rigorous assessment of all environmental, economic and social impacts".

Since the approval includes "strict limits" on the salinity of discharges "the department concluded the mine extension would have a beneficial effect on Sydney's drinking water catchment, compared to the mine's previous operations", the spokeswoman said.

Opponents, though, say they will argue the comparison should be made with the absence of discharges, not the previous workings of the mine.

The waste water had previously been sent to the Wallerawang power station before it closed down. Mr Muir has proposed the waste water be transported for treatment and use at the mine's main customer, the nearby Mt Piper power plant - a course only noted by the PAC as an option.

"It isn't diluted and there is no reduction in the impact on the environment," Mr Muir said, adding that upland swamps had  also been affected along with the river.

The local Lithgow Council has supported the mine's continuation, arguing that hundreds of full-time jobs and royalties approaching $200 million were at stake. The mine is Mt Piper's only coal source, with the plant providing 15 per cent of the state's electricity.


Electrician bikie gang members to lose jobs

The Electrical Trades Union plans to take the state government to the High Court over amendments to its bikie legislation, which will see some members lose their electrical licences come July.

State Secretary Peter Simpson said members with links to criminal motorcycle gangs had begun to raise concerns with him about their ability to keep doing their job once the amendments to the Electrical Safety Act, passed as part of Criminal Organisations Disruption legislation, comes into effect.

Anyone who has declared their membership to a proscribed club, through words or action, sought to have been a member, or attended one or more meetings or gatherings of people who are members or associates, is in danger of losing their electrical licence or not having it renewed.

"I have spoken to some ETU members, who are members of the Rebels, members of the Black Uhlans and the Hells Angels and have been for many years," he said.

"And in most cases the people I have spoken to, their families are members as well so they won't be able to renew their electrical licences.

"So we have electricians with no criminal record having their honest livelihoods taken off them. "What that is in turn doing is driving them into crime. Imagine being an electrician in a regional area, like a lot of our guys are, working in construction or in the mines.  They lose their electrical licence, they lose that job, what are they supposed to do? Where do they go get work? It is a disgrace.

"We are not trying to stick up for criminals. If people are breaching the law, if they are dealing drugs, using intimidation tactics, or harassing them or bullying, good on them, they should go to jail.

"But the existing laws provided for that. There is no need for this outrageous legislation, especially these amendments about taking people's livelihoods off them. It is just disgraceful."

Of the union's 15,000 members, Mr Simpson estimated the amendments would impact 200, but expected the ripple effect across the building industry to mean more unions would join the High Court challenge.

Acting Attorney-General David Crisafulli said the change to the legislation was about community safety.  "The criminal gangs had sadly infiltrated a range of businesses and used them as either fronts or vehicles to commit other crimes," he said.  "Until our changes, criminal motorcycle gang members could work in our homes, change our locks and guard our homes and business.

"Cleaning up these industries is a win for everyone because businesses will be trusted and customers will know they are being served by a law abiding professional.

"All criminal gang members need to do to keep or gain a permit or licence is quit their club and lead a law abiding life. We want them to get real, honest jobs."

But an electrician who spoke to Fairfax Media on the condition he would remain anonymous, said his legal advice disputed that. "I went to see a solicitor who said it wouldn't make a scrap of difference if I resigned from my club," the man, who has no criminal record, said.

"The first thing I tried to do was leave my club, because I will always look after my family first, but my solicitor said it wouldn't make an iota of difference because they have written into the law that if you leave, you are still an associate.

"Once you have been tarred with the brush, you are tarred forever."

The man said he had joined the club because his friends were members and it had become a surrogate family.


Queensland's Keystone cops

What a bunch of amateur idiots! Kids terrified as cops storm Gold Coast home by mistake.  No apology

A Gold Coast mother-of-two says her children were too traumatised to sleep last night after half-a-dozen police burst into their home and detained their innocent father by mistake.

Kristy Stewart told myGC a squad of officers stormed her Coombabah home along The Esplanade at around 9.30pm on Friday after allegedly mistaking her address for another in the street.

Mrs Stewart, 35, says her two children, aged 10 and eight, were shaking in terror as they watched police order her out of the house and rush inside to detain their innocent father.

"My husband was out on the back patio with the kids and I was in the kitchen when I looked outside and seen an officer approach the front patio," Mrs Stewart recalled.

"I opened the front door and five or six police officers and two police dogs started coming from the front. "They yelled ‘step out from the door and put your hands to the front’.

"I stepped to the side and they yelled at me to stay put. "I kept repeating that they had made a mistake, that we have done nothing wrong (but) they wouldn’t listen."

Mrs Steward told myGC the officers then raced inside her home and detained her 32-year-old husband in front of her 10-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.

"My husband walked up the hallway as he could hear the commotion and was grabbed by both hands by an officer and (the police) said, ‘we know who you are’."

But as it would turn out, the police actually had no idea whose home they were in.

"My husband kept saying that he hadn’t done anything and my daughter was pleading with them that we were not doing anything wrong.  "Finally they asked for our address which obviously didn’t correlate with the address they were suppose to attend."

Mrs Stewart told myGC the officers "bowed their heads", some with "embarrassing smirks on their face", as they walked back out of the house and regrouped on the front lawn.  "The police where discussing how to get to the other address which is when I helped them out by giving them directions," she said.

"It is extremely embarrassing for the Queensland Police Service, considering they are equipped with GPS."

"It certainly shook us up. My kids and husband were so scared. It was scary as hell."

Mrs Stewart said one officer yelled from the window of his patrol car before speeding off, "some excitement for you tonight!"


10 January, 2016

Navy’s Muslim captain Shindy praised gay-bashing mufti

Surely it is a security risk to have this person in the armed forces?

The navy’s most senior Muslim officer described Mufti Musa ­Ismail Menk, who has taunted gays as being lower than animals, as "always a source of wisdom" only months before her social media activities were shut down.

Captain Mona Shindy was ­appointed the Chief of Navy’s strategic adviser on Islamic affairs, but was forced to shut down her public commentary via a Twitter account that published a series of contentious tweets and retweets questioning foreign ­policy, attitudes towards Muslim Australians and terrorism.

The account also retweeted Zimbabwe-based Islamic cleric Mufti Ismail Menk, who was­ forced to cancel a tour to Britain in 2013 after describing homosexuals as "filthy" and "animals".

The tour of British universities was abandoned in November 2013 after Mufti Menk was filmed comparing homosexuals to animals. "With all due respect to the ­animals (homosexuals) are worse than animals," the mufti said at one stage.

On her account, Captain Shindy described Mufti Menk as "a source of wisdom" retweeting his advice not to get "rude, abusive or insulting". Captain Shindy did not re­tweet comments endorsing the mufti’s views on gays.

Captain Shindy has been under pressure this week since the decision to close down the @navyislamic account. The ­Australian revealed this week that Captain Shindy was "counselled" on the Twitter feed by Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Tim Barrett, who had become concerned her tweets overstepped a "fine line between personal opinion and naval policy".

The ADF has not commented on whether Captain Shindy was counselled over her retweeting of the controversial sheik, only ­saying that the Twitter account @navyislamic was closed down after attracting increasingly "contentious comments" with "increased public debate on Islam".

The ADF last year also ­appointed Imam Mohamadu Nawaz Saleem as part of the ADF’s religious advisory committee, which provides a link between the ADF and religious groups.

Imam Nawaz Saleem controversially put his name to a letter with several prominent Muslims defending the extreme but legal Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir from Tony Abbott.

Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James said it was clear that the ­experiment of the Islamic cultural adviser had "failed", and the navy and broader ADF should focus on the use of clerics for ­religious instruction.

"There is a tendency for the pendulum to swing too far and I think we’ve seen that with this Islamic cultural adviser," Mr James said.

"What they should have done is appoint a Muslim chaplain earlier and making a clearer distinction about what is the cultural advice needed and the religious advice needed."

Mufti Menk is a social media savvy cleric with more than 700,000 Twitter followers and about 1.3 million fans on Facebook. On Facebook, he describes himself as "a broadminded, motivational speaker who has won the hearts of many".

He has tens of thousands of followers on YouTube, where he posts lectures primarily in English.

Mufti Menk attracted controversy when Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev retweeted him just before his terror spree with his brother on April 15, 2013.

The tweet read: "Attitude can take away your beauty no matter how good looking you are or it could enhance your beauty, making you adorable."

The mufti quickly condemned the Boston bombings and pointed out Tsarnaev was not even one of his followers.


Union standover men got big donation to the ALP

The Labor Party failed to disclose a $30,000 corporate donation to its 2013 federal election campaign that was brokered by the militant Maritime Union of Australia and described last week as "extraordinary" by trade union royal commissioner Dyson Heydon.

The Weekend Australian has confirmed that neither the ALP nor the donor, marine contractor Van Oord Australia, disclosed the payment in election returns to the Australian Electoral Commission, meaning both face ­potential penalties under the act.

The gift has been kept hidden from public scrutiny despite it being among the biggest corporate donations Labor received during its 2013 election campaign.

Labor yesterday admitted to the nondisclosure and said it would send an amendment to its 2012-13 return to the AEC.

West Australian branch secretary Patrick Gorman, who took over only a few months ago, said the ALP office at the time "was not provided with the appropriate ­information relating to this ­donation" and became aware of it only this week after a query from The Weekend Australian.

In his final report, Mr Heydon found the donation to the ALP candidate for the West Australian seat of Hasluck Adrian Evans, the deputy state secretary of the MUA, had been made for the purpose of securing industrial peace.

Documents tendered to the royal commission show that the $30,000 was transferred from Van Oord Australia to a bank ­account called ALP (WA) Hasluck federal campaign.

Mr Heydon found that the ­donation was an extraordinary thing for a multinational company such as Dutch-owned Van Oord to do.

The royal commission was told that Mr Evans’s campaign fundraising director, MUA state secretary Chris Cain, approached Van Oord Australia senior executive Herm Pol in May 2013 to seek the donation.

The request was made after a discussion between Mr Pol and Mr Cain over manning levels for a vessel on a new project.

"Thus there was a direct temporal connection between a meeting on workplace issues, Chris Cain’s request for a contribution to the campaign of a deputy state secretary of the MUA for election to federal parliament, and the agreement of Van Oord, through Herm Pol, to contribute $30,000," Mr Heydon found.

The MUA argued there was no evidence that Van Oord made the donation to secure industrial peace or that Mr Cain asked for it as the price of industrial peace.

But Mr Heydon rejected that argument. "When a trade union official with Chris Cain’s forceful manner requests a contribution from an employer’s representative, it would be a foolish representative who did not appreciate that ­refusal would offend and that consequences would flow from that," he said.

Mr Evans lost the 2013 battle for Hasluck to Liberal Ken Wyatt.

The royal commission was told that Van Oord also donated $1.2 million to an MUA-backed training company in 2013 and 2014 as well as $70,000 to sponsor the MUA state conference in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Van Oord did not respond to requests for comment.


Future Federal education funding still uncertain

Jennifer Buckingham

When federal education minister Simon Birmingham confirmed last week he will not 'give a Gonski' and commit to the ultra-expensive final two years of the former Labor government's schools funding policy, he drew a line under one aspect of the debate but left open the more important question of what it will do instead.

Only one thing is certain. A new federal funding model will not be as generous. The federal government budget deficit is a problem and is likely to be for the foreseeable future. Large increases in federal spending on education are not on the cards, especially given the chequered relationship between funding and school performance.

There is ample research showing that not all education spending can be considered an investment in the sense that it leads to measurable benefits. This is not to say that school funding should not increase at all but that any funding increases must be carefully targeted and used in ways that are most likely to be effective.

The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) in NSW, recently published an evaluation of the impact of the former federal Labor government's multi-billion dollar Smarter Schools National Partnerships over four years from 2009 to 2012.

The analyses of the results are highly detailed and compare NAPLAN scores, School Certificate and Higher School Certificate results, and attendance and retention rates of schools that received Low SES NP funding with similar schools that did not.

Although the impact on NAPLAN scores was reported to be statistically significant, this is partly a function of the very large sample size. In real educational terms, the effects of the funding were small. Over the four years of Low SES NP funding, NAPLAN scores in participating schools increased by a total of 5.04 points on average compared to non-participating schools, after controlling for student characteristics and school location. To put this in context, Year 3 NAPLAN reading scores are out of 700 scaled score points. It is difficult to see this as a strong result given the amount of the funding involved.

Any new federal funding agreement is likely to have an impact factor, with proven effective practices and programs, or accountability for results as conditions. Wanting to see the benefits of increased funding is understandable but getting the right balance of autonomy and accountability, both for individual schools and for states, will be a challenge.


Qld. Cop accused of using excessive force loses court battle over forced station transfer

A Surfers Paradise police officer with 28 complaints against him who has been stood down over allegations of excessive force has lost a court battle over being forcibly transferred. Senior Constable Nathan Irwin has been the subject of 28 complaints and 68 allegations over the past nine years, many relating to the use of excessive force.

In March, Sen-Constable Irwin was told he was being "temporarily redeployed" to Coomera and was not to attend the Surfers Paradise Police Station unless under senior supervision. Acting Assistant Commissioner Stephen Hollands wrote to Sen-Constable Irwin again in April asking him if he would prefer to be transferred to Southport or Nerang.

Sen-Constable Irwin objected to being moved from Surfers Paradise and with backing from the Queensland Police Union, took the case to the Supreme Court.

Court documents show Assistant Commissioner Hollands wrote that since 2007 there had been an "adverse pattern of behaviour" involving Sen-Constable Irwin. He said there had been 28 complaints and 68 allegations since 2007, "most notable with respect to matters involving assaults/excessive force".

"Irrespective of the possible causes, the preceding allegations are indications that your level of professionalism is below that expected of a Senior Constable of Police in the Queensland Police Service. "Removing you from your current workplace will enable you to work in an environment where the frequency of confrontation with members of the public is less likely."

Barrister Peter Davis QC argued the court should rule the transfer was invalid because it would be for the purpose of disciplining him for misconduct.

This week Justice Philip McMurdo dismissed Sen-Constable Irwin’s application and found the purpose of the transfer was "one of risk management".

"The factual preconditions for the exercise of disciplinary powers do not exist because there has not yet been a conclusion of misconduct," Justice McMurdo said. "He (the Acting Commissioner) has not sought or indicated that he will seek any disciplinary sanction."

Sen-Constable Irwin has been the arresting officer in a number of high-profile cases of alleged police brutality, including that of youth worker Ray Currier, who suffered brain damage after his arrest.

The QPU said the transfer was based on complaints that had not been proven.


8 January, 2016

Clemmie laments that men don't treat women courteously

Fairfax tame feminist Clem Ford is all steamed up -- as usual.  Recent impolite behavior to a woman by a government minister has excited her into sweeping generalities, which may or may not be reasonable.  What she forgets is that men were once much more polite to women.  In the presence of women they would avoid bad language and generally "mind their Ps ands Qs".  And who is responsible for the decay of such manners?  Feminists like Clemmie

Ask all the women you know if they've experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace and most of the time you'll be met with a 'yes'. These memories may vary in degrees of seriousness, but they'll be there nonetheless. Most of the time, we'll brush them off or tell ourselves it wasn't that big a deal. After all, aren't we always being told to "learn how to take a joke" or "stop overreacting"?

Women are only allowed to complain about the most serious of violations, you see - we are never permitted to feel uncomfortable or coerced or manipulated by the everyday events that remind us, oh so subtly, that a degree of complicity in maintaining men's power is required from us if we want to remain employed. That this is usually framed as women having to 'toughen up' implies men calmly and quietly field similar sexual harassment from their mostly male bosses or colleagues every day, but they have the inner strength and confidence not to be bothered by it. Convenient, isn't it?

Because of the persistent undercurrent of gaslighting that dictates women's recollection of our experiences, it won't be uncommon for us to blame ourselves for being too sensitive. The discomfort we feel when we assess certain situations will then be tinged by at least two shades of shame. The first will be the shame felt at being subjected to unwanted sexual harassment (particularly in our professional environments). You know what that's like - it's the sticky feeling of being not quite clean and yet unable to know exactly where to scrub to get the residue off. But the second will be the shame felt at being weak and overly sensitive, a child unable to handle the pressures of an adult world - because women have always been told that true maturity is just accepting everything that happens to us without complaint, especially if those things are being done by men, and for their pleasure or benefit only.

This is why, when a young female staffer working on an overseas posting has drinks with a government minister one night only to have him kiss her neck and make suggestive comments about her eyes, her complaints (filed later, and you'll be made to think that's important somehow) will be met by hand wringing over the ruination of HIS career. It's why his behaviour that night will be dismissed as peripheral to who he is a person, because he's a family man with a wife and three children, a stressful job and he was just blowing off steam with a few drinks and when men drink, they can't be held responsible for their actions. (Of course, this sits in stark contrast to the culpability assigned to women who happen to have been consuming alcohol when someone decides to sexually assault or rape them.)

It's why other colleagues will rally around him, lament the increase in restrictions on their activities and dismiss female critics as "mad f--king witches" instead of recognise them as journalists doing their jobs.

Sexual harassment in the workplace isn't a minor thing. People have a right to earn a living without being made to feel sexually tied to their employer or superior. And when you're a minister in the federal government, you should be particularly scrutinised for the choices you make that impact on the well being of other people. It doesn't mean that ministerial behaviour is at risk of being subjected to intolerably high standards. What it should mean is that high standards are finally becoming the benchmark of a government that takes pride in its ministry.


Queensland electricity prices rise as Government delays deregulation

Leftist governments don't like competition

THE State Government’s decision to delay deregulation of electricity prices has deprived households and small businesses of savings on their power bills by curtailing competition.

That is one of the findings in a damning assessment by the national regulator which slammed our state-dominated electricity market.

The Australian Energy Regulator’s state of the market report for 2015 also says "opportunistic" behaviour by the government-owned generators has contributed to Queensland having the highest wholesale power prices in the country – despite having surplus capacity.

"Queensland was the only region to record an increase in prices. It also had the National Energy Market’s most expensive wholesale energy prices for the first time in over a decade,’’ the report said.

That price volatility and a lack of competition in the retail market – exacerbated by the decision to delay deregulation by a year to July 2016 – means households and small businesses are missing out on potential savings.

The proportion of household budget swallowed up by power prices fell in every state except Queensland over the past two years, while the number of families being disconnected is at a six-year high here.

Alliance of Electricity Consumers spokesman Jonathan Pavetto called for an overhaul of the state’s electricity sector, saying it was "in a crisis".

"The AER report shows the delay of price deregulation in Queensland has prohibited families and small businesses getting better deals on electricity.’’

Energy Minister Mark Bailey welcomed the AER’s scrutiny and said the Palaszczuk Government was working hard to tackle energy costs, including setting up the current Queensland Productivity Commission’s inquiry into electricity prices.

Wholesale prices were pushed up by demand, he said.

The regulator’s report said: "Retailers also reported wholesale market volatility in Queensland is an impediment to expansion.’’

And it noted retailers had deferred expanding marketing following the State Government’s decision to delay removing retail price regulation for a year.

That reduced competition is reflected in lower rates of Queensland consumers switching providers and the smallest savings from shopping around.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad said the Government was "focused and committed" to keeping electricity prices down.

"One of the first things that we did was to prohibit the energy companies from appealing against the energy regulator’s decision around the electricity price increase," she said, pointing to a decision made last year.

The gap between the average contract price and the average standing price in Queensland is just 1.9 per cent — compared to up to 18 per cent in Victoria and 12.1 per cent in New South Wales.

The report said the regulated electricity price fell 6.1 per cent in Queensland during 2015 – after rising 39 per cent over the previous four years.

ABS data, adjusted for inflation, shows that from the lowest power prices in the country in 2006-07, Brisbane’s have risen by more than 50 per cent above the national average and are now the second most expensive behind Adelaide.

The AER report again highlights the issue of "late rebidding’’, saying that government-owned generators Stanwell and CS Energy — which control two-thirds of Queensland’s capacity — used the strategy to shift large volumes of capacity from low to very high prices late in trading cycles.

The AER says the volatility has also pushed up future prices in contracts.

Mr Bailey said: "The AEMC has now clarified the rules around late bidding and expect generators to absolutely comply with the new ruling, and I welcome ongoing scrutiny from the regulator to ensure they do."


Navy’s Muslim officer Mona Shindy crossed the line with tweets

Former army officers and counter-terrorism experts say the navy’s most senior Muslim officer crossed the line when she published her political views through an official Twitter account.

But they are at odds over whether she should be allowed to tweet again.

Captain Mona Shindy, the Chief of Navy’s strategic adviser on Islamic affairs, has come under fire this week after The Australian revealed her Twitter account @navyislamic had been shut down following a series of contentious political tweets.

Roger Shanahan, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute and former army officer, said Captain Shindy’s behaviour as a high-ranking officer "seemed strange" and was "certainly an error of judgment".

In some of her tweets Captain Shindy backed the Grand Mufti’s controversial response to the Paris terrorist attacks and also retweeted anti-Abbott sentiment.

"It’s the first rule of being a military officer: You can’t comment on government policy and you certainly can’t criticise ministers in public," Dr Shanahan said.

"It wasn’t acceptable for her to do that, everybody knows that.’’

Chief of Navy Tim Barrett decided to close the account down last month after it started receiving a "growing number of contentious comments" and he had "counselled" Captain Shindy.

The Australian understands there is an ongoing review into use of the account and the navy’s social media policy.

John Blaxland, a senior fellow at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre and former intelligence officer, said while Captain Shindy "crossed the radar threshold of controversy" her voice was too important to be silenced.

"The advice that she’s been giving has been ground-breaking within the Defence Force," Dr Blaxland said.

"When you think about what she’s said and what she’s retweeted, it’s pretty mild. It’s not earth-shatteringly controversial.

"I would argue she should … recalibrate her scope but not turn off her scope. This is too important for our society to grapple with for her to be silenced."

Anne Aly, an associate professor at Curtin University and counter-terrorism expert, said the more "authentic" voices speaking out against violent extremism the better, but acknowledged public servants should never politically express themselves.

"I don’t know it’s reasonable (the Twitter account) should be closed down, I just think it shouldn’t be used for personal political views,’’ Professor Aly said.


CFMEU will be spared delisting by the Turnbull government

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash says that reinstating the construction industry watchdog was the government’s primary goal.

The looming merger of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union with the Maritime Union of Australia — creating what MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin boasts will be the "most powerful" union in the ­nation — has frustrated any push from within the Coalition to deregister the scandal-­plagued construction union.

The Australian has learned the government will not move to deregister the CFMEU despite evidence of widespread corruption and criminality but will instead seek to transform the "perverse culture" and "mindset" across the construction industry.

Accepting the view of the Heydon royal commission, which did not recommend deregistering the CFMEU, the ­Coalition believes such a move would be costly and lengthy, with the MUA merger having the potential to "forestall cancellation of registration" because the CFMEU would "cease to exist".

The merger, which was to have been put to MUA members next month but could be delayed until later in the year, will bring together the most militant ­unions in Australia, uniting the CFMEU and its 100,000-plus members with the smaller but wealthy MUA. Mr Crumlin said in October the merger, backed strongly by both unions, presented an opportunity "to build Australia’s most powerful union".

He told his members in a recent letter that the merger with the CFMEU would strengthen the political and industrial muscle of both unions, and also "the entire national and international labour movement".

"The potential merger could present a strong, effective political and industrial opposition to the ongoing attacks and orchestrated anti-worker and anti-union campaigns from neo­liberal and other right-wing forces," he said.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash told The Australian that reinstating the construction industry watchdog was the government’s primary goal because it would "address the fundamental problem of the culture and the mindset that exists in the ­construction industry" and re-establish respect for the rule of law. "The Heydon royal commission has once again confirmed there is a perverse culture in the construction industry, particularly in the construction division of the CFMEU, that complying with the law is seen as merely optional and breaking the law is normal practice," she said.

"Unless and until there is a strong regulator enforcing legislation that actually deters people from repeatedly breaking the law, the culture in the industry will not change. The current laws have simply been insufficient."

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption argued that deregistering the CFMEU would not fundamentally address problems in the construction sector and would impact adversely on members who are not at fault for the actions of rogue officials.

"Cancelling the registration of the whole union may have a disproportionate effect on union members who have not been ­involved in illegal activity," the ­report said.

The Coalition is also acutely aware of the commission’s view that the proposed merger between the CFMEU and the MUA could be used to frustrate any push for deregistration by special legislation or through the existing Fair Work legislation.

Labor and the ACTU will vigorously oppose any push to deregister the CFMEU, given the very close links between the union’s leadership and the leadership of the party and the ACTU.

Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor last week defended the CFMEU and poured scorn on the suggestion it should disaffiliate from Labor. "To suggest because there may be individuals in an ­organisation, somehow that organisation is systemically corrupt, it does not hold water," he told ABC radio.

His brother, Michael O’Connor, is the national secretary of the CFMEU, a key faction power­broker in the Labor Party and frequently an ally of Bill Shorten.

Former employment minister Eric Abetz yesterday described the proposed merger of the CFMEU and MUA as a "dis­astrous workplace relations cocktail", telling The Australian that deregistration should be reserved by the government as a "secondary" option in the effort to crackdown on union corruption.

He said the priority, as outlined by Malcolm Turnbull, should be behind instituting a stronger registered organisations commission to oversee unions and reviving the construction industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

But Senator Abetz went one step further, proposing "consideration of the deregistration of particular officials of unions, if that is warranted, and divisions of particular unions".

The royal commission described the CFMEU as a "dangerous" and finding misconduct to be "widespread", with a dozen current or former officials referred to authorities for possible corruption, bullying and knowingly giving false evidence.

It follows several adverse court rulings against the union in recent years. In November, the Federal Court described the CFMEU’s previous repeated contraventions of the law as painting "a depressing picture". It referred to the CFMEU’s conduct as displaying "an organisational culture in which contraventions of the law have become normalised".

Bob Hawke, a former Labor prime minister and ACTU president, whose government deregistered the Builders Labourers’ Federation in 1986, lashed the CFMEU in a recent interview with The Australian. "The unions need to clean up their act and get their house in order," he said. "It just is appalling. I mean, I wouldn’t tolerate it. You know what I did with the BLF — I would throw them out."

The Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner — a statutory independent authority to enforce compliance with workplace laws, undertake investigations and commence penalty proceedings — was dismantled by the Gillard government in 2012. It was replaced by a new but weaker regulator, Fair Work Building & Construction.

"The ABCC was successful in starting to change the culture in the industry before Labor abolished it," Senator Cash said.

"When there is an effective regulator who enforces laws with meaningful penalties, people think twice before breaking the law. As soon as the ABCC was abolished, the improvements in culture were lost almost ­immediately."

The Coalition has repeatedly tried to reinstate the ABCC, but the legislation has been voted down by Labor and the Greens in the Senate. This legislation will be reintroduced next month and the government hopes to pass it into law by March.

"The government is focused on bringing about lasting change in the culture of the industry by re-establishing the ABCC and respect for the rule of law," Senator Cash said. "The Heydon royal commission has recommended laws that will stamp out corrupt and unethical conduct between employers and unions. This is the government’s focus".


7 January, 2016

Exraordinary accusations from Mungo MacCallum

The current Mungo has long been a much-read Australian journalist, largely because of his jocular style.  He is a past-master of maligning people with a smile on his face.  He has always been a classic Leftist hater but one who is also sometimes amusing.  A rare feat!

Now that he is in his '70s one might have hoped that he would have undergone the shift from Left to Right that age normally brings on.  A remarkable example of that is the now almost forgotten Ned Hanlon, who went from being a union firebrand in his youth to becoming a Premier of Queensland who would sool his police onto strikers in order to break up their strikes.  Better-known examples of the Rightward drift  are Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, who were both on the Left in their early days.

But Mungo has resisted that trend.  He has learned nothing. He is, if anything, more vitriolic than ever. The accusations he makes below are both extraordinary and devoid of evidence that would support such sweeping claims.  They are so amazing that I reproduce below only the beginning of his latest article -- to focus on those accusations.  The remainder of the article is in any case basically a criticism of the ineptitude of Bill Shorten, the unpopular leader of the Australian Labor Party.

Mungo's target is the recent judicial enquiry into the well-attested thuggery in Australian building-trade unions, particularly the CFMEU.  The lawless behaviour of the unions concerned is too well-known for Mungo to deny it so he resorts to the classic Leftist dodge of moral equivalence.  He says that other more conservative groupings are just as bad. 

But in so doing he is clearly libellous.  He makes statements that would be actionable in court.  And since he made the statements on an ABC site, he might well be worth pursuing.  The ABC has deep pockets. And the legal profession is generally very guarded of its reputation so Mungo's sweeping denunciation of them seems quite likely to get a response.  At least an apology and retraction may be demanded

Mungo starts with a quote from Justice Dyson.

"In many parts of the world constituted by Australian trade union officials," declared Dyson Heydon, "there is room for louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts."

And no doubt there is; but with very minor changes of the last part of the statement, the same strictures apply to the business community - indeed, even to Heydon's own legal profession. In fact, it would be hard to find any group within the Australian populace free of the strictures Heydon elaborates.

Certainly he has identified a few (45, to be precise) of the alleged miscreants who warrant further investigation and may or may not face charges as a result - although it must be noted that only 27 are actually unions or their officials; the rest were companies and those associated with them and other entities.

It sounds like a reasonable bag, until you remember that the whole process took some $80 million and two full years of intensive investigation unearthing and grilling over 500 suspects. Given that level of zealotry, it is hardly surprising that Heydon gathered a few in his net."


Bazza backs Germaine

They wouldn't be Gladdies beside him, would they?

AUSTRALIAN comedian Barry Humphries has weighed into Germaine Greer’s row over Caitlyin Jenner, describing the former Olympian as "a mutilated man".

Humphries — who is about to return to the stage as Dame Edna Everage — said he backed Australian feminist Greer, who caused an uproar with her claims last October that transgender women are "not real women".

According to Greer, "trans" women such as Jenner are men "who believe that they are women and have themselves castrated."

Humphries, who has made millions as arguably the world’s most famous female impersonator, told London’s Telegraph he agreed with his fellow Aussie expat.

"I agree with Germaine! You’re a mutilated man, that’s all," he says. "Self-mutilation, what’s all this carry on? Caitlyn Jenner — what a publicity-seeking ratbag. It’s all given the stamp — not of respectability, but authenticity or something. If you criticise anything you’re racist or sexist or homophobic."

Humphries, 81, is about to embark on Dame Edna’s final farewell tour in the US and Canada.


Prominent Australian conservative: I hope we don't become too politically correct

"Deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says he hopes Australian politics doesn't become "sterile" and overly politically correct following outrage over the behaviour of colleagues Jamie Briggs and Peter Dutton.

Mr Briggs resigned from the frontbench last week after being "overly affectionate" towards a public servant in a Hong Kong bar while Mr Dutton apologised for sending a female journalist a text calling her a "mad f---ing witch".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described Mr Dutton's text message, mistakenly sent to veteran journalist Samantha Maiden, as "clearly inappropriate".

Mr Joyce, who is expected to become Nationals leader and deputy prime minister when Warren Truss resigns this year, told Fairfax Media: "I never want our country to be completely sterile.  I like that Australia is to the point"

"One of the great things about Australian politics is our informality and directness and I'd hate to lose that - even if there can be faux pas."

Mr Joyce apologised to National Party colleague Bridget McKenzie in 2012 for referring to her in Parliament as a "flash bit of kit". Mr Joyce admitted to consuming alcohol beforehand but denied being drunk.

Mr Joyce said Mr Dutton had made a "stupid" mistake by sending Maiden the text but said people criticising him should not lose perspective.

It is understood Mr Dutton thought he was sending the text to Mr Briggs, but instead sent it to Maiden, who had been highly critical of the ex-minister in a column published on Sunday. "It's what one bloke thought he was saying to another bloke," Mr Joyce said.

"If I got upset about every time I have been abused on Twitter or in the newspaper or in text messages, I would be a case for an asylum.  "You have to roll with the punches.

"For a robust member of the fourth estate like Samantha, she would think this was water off a duck's back and pretty funny."

Maiden has said she accepted Mr Dutton's apology and hoped he was not sacked from the frontbench for the mistake.

Mr Joyce said he hoped politicians would not become overly cautious following the Briggs incident in Hong Kong and are still willing to socialise with colleagues and journalists.

"I don't like to be in the holier than thou crowd," he said. "Jamie made a mistake and has fallen on his sword.

"If you invite me out for a drink, you want me to speak frankly and freely rather than ring up 13 media advisers and get encrypted babble."

Mr Briggs was forced to resign after a young public servant complained about his behaviour at a Hong Kong bar in November. Sources have said Mr Briggs told the woman she had "piercing eyes" and tried to kiss her on the cheek, while others said it was her neck.

Mr Briggs sent a photo of the woman to colleagues which was later leaked to the media, a move which drew an angry response from Mr Turnbull. Such behaviour could deter women from coming forward with complaints about workplace misbehaviour, he said.


Muslim terrorist sympathizer in the Australian navy

Disagrees with bombing them

A navy Twitter account has been shut down after its most senior Muslim officer retweeted a counter-terrorism expert mocking Tony Abbott following the Liberal Party leadership coup and backed the Grand Mufti’s ­response to the Paris terrorist ­attacks.

Captain Mona Shindy, the Chief of Navy’s strategic adviser on Islamic affairs, appears to have run the account @navy­islamic until it was deleted last month, posting a series of tweets about attitudes towards Muslim Australians and terrorism.

The closure of the account came six months after Captain Shindy called for the word "Islam" to be removed from all reporting on Islamic State in an essay for the June edition of ­United Service, the journal of the Royal United Services Institute of NSW.

Arguing that there was no connection with the terror group and religion, Captain Shindy ­accused the media of "fear-mongering" in its portrayal of Muslims and said it made them feel alienated and vilified and provided "ammunition" to terrorist recruiters.

In the essay, Captain Shindy mirrored the disputed claims of Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed after the Paris terror attack in November, in which he said causative factors such as foreign policy, the media and lack of opportunity were fuelling Islamic extremism.

Dr Abu Mohamed’s comments were widely criticised as offering potential justification for the killings, forcing the Grand Mufti to revise his public position.

On November 18, five days after the Paris attacks, Captain Shindy used the @navyislamic account to declare Dr Abu Mohamed was a "righteous & courageous man who categorically denounces" Islamic State and terrorism, tweeting the hashtag #IStandWithTheMufti.

On the day after the leadership spill in which Malcolm Turnbull toppled Mr Abbott, Captain Shindy posted a 2011 YouTube video of Mr Turnbull on the ABC’s Q&A discussing Muslim schools and the need to promote and encourage moderate Islamic traditions.

"The idea that you demonise the faith of billions of people with 1500 years or thereabouts of history and tradition and scholarship is absurd," Mr Turnbull said in the clip.

Captain Shindy tweeted: "Looking forward to a #PM that unites #auspol & #OZ"

There was also a retweet of counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly, who on the night of the leadership change tweeted: "Wait. Did our new PM just give a speech and not mention boats, death cult, security, death cult, terrorism, national security and death cult?"

Mr Abbott was criticised by parts of the Islamic community and MPs for his rhetoric and hardline response to terrorism that some said divided Muslim and non-Muslim Australians.

The Australian asked the Defence Department a series of questions yesterday, including why the @navyislamic Twitter account was shut down and whether Captain Shindy’s tweets were reflective of naval policy.

A Defence spokesman said: "Navy has consolidated its social media platforms to achieve a ‘single source’ so as to strengthen its messaging in synch with its support to traditional media."

Captain Shindy, who is on leave, declined to comment.

Defence did not verify the tweets, which have been published on the blogs of conservative commentators Andrew Bolt and Bernard Gaynor, a Queensland Senate candidate for the anti-Islam party Australian Liberty ­Alliance.

Captain Shindy, whose role is to "help create a better understanding" within the navy of the Islamic faith and cultural sensitivities, and Chief of Navy Tim Barrett met the Grand Mufti in October 2014 at the Lakemba Mosque as part of its Islamic community awareness program.

Captain Shindy is a respected 26-year veteran of the navy and the head of its Guided Missile Frigate Program. She was appointed to her Islamic advisory role by then-chief of navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs in March 2013. She was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in last year’s Australia Day honours and in November was named Telstra NSW Businesswoman of the Year.

It is highly unusual for a serving military officer to offer public comment on such a politically contentious issue as Islamic terrorism, much less to adopt positions that appear to be at odds with government policy.

The removal of the Twitter account about December 20 came days after the Defence Force said it would appeal against a Federal Court ruling in favour of Mr Gaynor over his being discharged for making controversial comments about gay men and lesbians. It also came days after a complaint by the Australian Liberty Alliance was made to the navy about Captain Shindy’s Twitter account. The complaint warned the navy that ADF members were obliged not to make political statements in their official capacity.

Mr Gaynor said yesterday the ADF was "caught in a bind" over appealing his case but allowing Captain Shindy to make political comments in an official capacity.

In her essay, Captain Shindy called for a "frank, fearless debate" on the "root causes and triggers" of Islamic grievances, which she said included foreign policy ­double-standards and a belief among young Australian Muslims that they had been sidelined and marginalised. She questioned the effectiveness of bombing campaigns against extremists.

"We need to move on quickly from a single approach of talking tough and broadly bombing regions where we believe extremists operate," she wrote. "Working on preventive strategies gives us the best likelihood of long-term success. Security, jobs, income to support families and stability to grow and educate populations are the key ingredients to preventing the explosive, desperate reaction to despair that is extremism."

She blames the media for placing young Muslims and their families "under great strain" through negative coverage of Muslims. She also said Islam had nothing to do with terrorism.

"Constant negative media reporting on apparent Muslim behaviour provides ammunition for terrorist recruiters enabling them to convince impressionable Muslims that there is an agenda against them and their religion — again, supporting a call for armed jihad," she said. "Indeed, the word ‘Islam’ needs to be removed from reporting on ISIS/ISIL or Daesh. The barbaric nature and ideology of these groups has nothing to do with Islam and we should work to limit their appeal to vulnerable Muslims," she writes.

Mr Abbott last month claimed Australians were in denial about the "problems within Islam" and called for a "reformation" of the religion. ASIO chief Duncan Lewis was among those who distanced himself from the remarks.


6 January, 2016

Black cricketer disrespects female interviewer on Australian TV

An experienced and dedicated female sports journalist, Mel McLaughlin, was trying to interview black cricketer Chris Gayle about sports matters but got only personal comments about herself from him.  That has offended a lot of people as inappropriate and disrespectful to a woman but he has so far refused to apologize. It will hurt his career, however.  Various sorts of retribution against him have been proposed or promised.

Black males are often very bold in approaching women so his behaviour should perhaps be seen in that context.  From his point of view he probably sees nothing to apologize for.  In Leftist terms, it's his "culture".

In anthropological terms it could be seen as part of a generally low level of self-restraint among people of sub-Saharan African origin, as seen in their very high rate of criminal offending wherever they are in the world. 

Perhaps it should be mentioned that the lady has been publicly embarrassed on TV before -- by another black sportsman

Also relevant is that Gayle has behaved similarly on past occasions but has learnt nothing from it.  Another female journalist labels him as a "creep", which he no doubt is by general Australian standards

Gayle sent social media into meltdown when he openly flirted with McLaughlin in his on-field interview after he was dismissed for a brilliant 41 (15 balls).

"I wanted to have an interview with you as well, that’s why I’m here," the Jamaican said live on national television.

"I get to see your eyes for the first time, it’s nice. Hopefully we can win and go for a drink after.

"Don’t blush baby."

A clearly uncomfortable McLaughlin finished the interview with class, but Channel 10 Head of Sport David Barham, at home watching the match on television, said McLaughlin was angered by the experience.


A mature response to offensive speech

Veteran journalist Samantha Maiden

A journalist labelled a "mad f---ing witch" by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton hopes he doesn't find himself on the backbench for accidentally sending an offensive text message to her.

On Sunday night, Mr Dutton confirmed he had apologised to the journalist for the text, which was intended for his embattled colleague Jamie Briggs.

Mr Briggs stepped down from his position as cities minister after acting inappropriately towards a female colleague while on an overseas trip.

Samantha Maiden, the national political editor for News Corp's Sunday papers, published a column on Sunday morning highly critical of Mr Briggs' conduct.

Mr Dutton responded by sending a text intended for Mr Briggs in which he called Maiden a "mad f---ing witch". Instead, it was sent to Maiden's text message inbox.

On Monday, Maiden said there were "more substantial issues" to consider in the aftermath of Mr Briggs' resignation.  "Peter Dutton has stuffed up, he's owned up and he's 'fessed up," Maiden told ABC radio on Monday morning.

"I would be lying if I was trying to manufacture outrage ... I'm not offended by it.

When asked if Mr Dutton should resign for the "witch" text, Maiden told Nine's Today program she "would hope not".  "I think that Mr Dutton is a good minister; he's a hard worker, he's made a strong contribution to the government," she said.


Green power freaks hit by big price rise

Consumers want answers after energy providers have announced a price increase of up to 41 per cent for their green energy contribution to coincide with the new year.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Origin Energy customers were notified that "a rise in the market price of renewable energy" meant GreenPower electricity charges would increase from 3.61¢ per kilowatt hour (excluding GST) to 5.10¢ per kilowatt hour from January 1, 2016.

The increase was so steep, northern NSW resident Russell Mills was sure there had been a mistake.  "I did the maths very quickly and it came up as a 41 per cent increase. I thought that's substantial, am I missing something?" he said.

"There was nothing in the letter explaining the rationale for it, so I rang them and I spoke to three different people who could tell me no more, just that it was due to changes in renewable energy prices."

In Mr Mills' case, the 41 per cent increase would equate to an extra $77 each year.

GreenPower is government-accredited renewable electricity from a source such as wind or solar-powered built since 1997.

Providers purchase large-scale renewable energy certificates on their customers' behalf to offset the power they use in any given year, therefore increasing the amount of renewable energy in the national energy grid.

Consumers who choose GreenPower electricity as an add-on to their bill can select a percentage of their electricity usage to be matched into the grid with electricity from accredited renewable GreenPower sources.  More than 32,500 organisations around Australia purchase accredited GreenPower.

Mr Mills lives with his wife and two children in a three-bedroom home in Clunes, where they spend between $450 and $550 per quarter on electricity.

For the past year, he has contributed to renewable energy through the 100 per cent GreenPower product. However, after being hit with the 41 per cent increase, he has made a "hip-pocket decision" to reduce his 100 per cent contribution to 50 per cent.

"There's a huge disincentive here for average consumers to actually choose renewable energy. I'm not laying blame totally on Origin, I'm still with them, I just feel it's a bit depressing really," he said.

"We need more renewable energy and there's not really any incentive for us to choose it."

Significant price jumps in GreenPower charges can be linked to the large-scale generation certificates used for the product, which have experienced a steady increase of about $40 to upwards of $75 in the past six months.

All GreenPower providers have changed their prices to reflect the underlying cost increase.

Large-scale generation certificates are traded through the wholesale market and prices fluctuate considerably, determined largely by supply and demand.


Expensive government schooling for poor parents

Requiring schoolkids to use computers all the time is absurd.  Computer literacy should be taught using school computers but most subjects can be taught without them.  How did we learn Maths, English, History etc for hundreds of years before computers?  There still is such a thing as a book!

"How do you prefer your taxes to be spent? Apple or Microsoft?"

That's the question one Canberra father believes his son's new school is asking, after its inclusion of Apple iPads and notebook computers on a list of back-to-school equipment is threatening to set parents back thousands of dollars.

Mark Wilson's son – whose name Fairfax Media has chosen to withhold – is enrolled to begin year seven at Melba Copland Secondary School  this year.

Mr Wilson said he was shocked when he received a list of essential requirements for the 2016 school year in the post. It came at a cost of $2794.67.

He thought it seemed unfair as it is a public school in a catchment area which gives priority to some of Canberra's most disadvantaged suburbs, but when he voiced his complaints, he was told it was "the way of the future".

"Whose future? I limit my kids to one hour of television a day because of the health factor, now you're telling me they've got to be in front of a computer screen for six-and-a-half hours a day because you deem it the best way to go?" Mr Wilson said.

His concerns stem from his family's financial situation.

The former local business owner was forced to go on a government pension several years ago due to illness.

His older daughter, who was already a student at the school, has chosen to transfer to a different school to alleviate some of the financial burden on her parents.

Her book pack, plus that of his youngest daughter who attends primary school, will cost $500 combined.

His son desperately wants to attend Melba Copland Secondary School though, as it's close to his home and his friends will be there.

While Mr Wilson has been encouraged by the school and the education directorate to apply for financial assistance, he said it is unfair for taxpayers to shell out "another $3000" so his son can attend the public school.

"I feel bad enough being on the pension as it is. It doesn't sit well with me and to ask for more handouts is even more ridiculous."

Mr Wilson is also worried carrying around the expensive technology will make students the target of thieves.

"I grew up poor. If I knew kids were walking around with $3000 worth of computer equipment on their back [when I was a kid] you'd be going home with a black eye, bloody nose and I'd have your backpack," he said.

He estimates 70 parents have submitted a formal complaint about what he deems excessive requirements, although an Education and Training Directorate spokesperson disputed this.

The spokesperson said the list is just a guideline and the school has a number of devices available for students to use.

"There is no compulsion to purchase all or any products and information has been provided to families to ensure full knowledge of this arrangement.

"Families are encouraged to approach their school to discuss the needs of the child and the family. Schools also have arrangements in place to ensure students have equity of access."

The spokesperson said information and communications technologies are an important part of teaching and learning for students of all backgrounds and is mandated in the Australian curriculum.

The ACT government spent $9.2 million on information technologies in schools last financial year, with a further $38 million committed over the next four years.

"Our schools emphasise the use of ICT and the development of ICT skills to ensure that their students can develop the necessary skills to analyse information, solve problems and communicate in a highly digital society."


The Irish connection continues

I have substantial Irish ancestry, with all sentimentality that usually entails, so I am delighted to read that the Irish are still coming to Australia.  I would heartily support measures to make it easier for them to settle here

The number of Irish citizens on temporary visas in Australia has fallen by almost half in the past two years due to tighter immigration laws and shrinking job opportunities.

But an increasing number are deciding to stay on illegally after their visas expire because they cannot afford to move home. "We are talking about the creation of a whole new undocumented section of Irish society in Australia now, and that is something we should be concerned about," according to Dr Mary Gilmartin, who lectures about Irish migration at the department of geography at Maynooth University.

She said a general tightening of immigration rules, and new caps on the number of skilled migration permits issued, mean it was "increasingly difficult to translate temporary visas into permanent residency" in Australia.

A total of 401 Irish citizens were "returned or removed" from Australia for violating the conditions of their visa in the 12 months to June 2015, a 37 per cent rise in the past two years.  Figures from the Australian Department of Immigration, released to The Irish Times, show that between July 2014 and June 2015, 92 Irish citizens were "removed" after being arrested and held at immigration detention centres.


5 January, 2016

A victory for free speech: The Australian army versus outspoken Major Bernard Gaynor

The man they couldn't fire: A good soldier persecuted for his Christian beliefs and criticism of Islam.  The Army has however appealed his win in the Federal Court to the High Court. The High Court is however where a right of free speech for Australians was first found so the bet should be on Gaynor to win again

The Australian Defence Force has just suffered an embarrassing defeat in which the armed forces appear primarily as a federal government department rather than a combat force. Most of the fighting is done behind desks.

The mission, duty and special legal status which sets our military apart from almost all other elements of society, is that it exists to detect, deter, suppress and, when necessary, kill people deemed a threat to the nation. The ultimate power of government is always rooted in part on weaponry and the authority and willingness to use it.

With the exception of our superbly-trained Special Air Service Regiment and Commando regiments, hunting and killing is rarely on the mind of Australian Army personnel.

Based on the very extensive advertising and recruiting campaigns that the military services roll out every year, the main point of joining the armed forces is to gain skilled qualifications at no cost and see the world.

Don't mention the war.

For much of this year, in the Federal Court of Australia, the extensive resources of the ADF have been pitted against the threadbare resources of a single, sacked Army Reserve officer who the ADF is determined to ostracise, humiliate and terminate.

The ADF has been highly successful in ostracising him, not surprising given the military's long and inglorious record of tolerating hazing, bullying and bastardisation.

But as for terminating this officer, he has proved hard to kill.

Last Friday, a judgment handed down by Justice Robert Buchanan, Bernard Gaynor v Chief of the Defence Force (2015), found that the ADF had acted unlawfully in terminating the commission of Army Reserve Major Bernard (Bernie) Gaynor jnr.

He ordered that this termination be set aside.

Justice Buchanan wrote: "The applicant has strong views which he attributes to the teachings and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. As they relate to the events which led to the termination of his commission, those views were expressed as an antipathy to overt tolerance or support of homosexuality or transgender behaviour as well as statements critical of adherents of Islam.

"The applicant served in Iraq in 2006-7, 2008-9 and 2009 and also briefly in Afghanistan in 2006. He was awarded the United States of America Meritorious Service Medal in October 2009. His general competence is not in issue."

The 90,000-word judgment includes critical and unflattering observations about Gaynor's conduct, which included "a deliberate and calculated course of open defiance".

However, where it mattered the judge found in his favour: "The fact that [Gaynor's] conduct involved direct disobedience of orders does not sufficiently change matters … Freedom of political communication was burdened… [when] his commission as an officer was terminated… [His] conduct involved the expression of political opinion, effectively as a private citizen."

Justice Buchanan found that being sacked for holding personal political views, even in defiance of orders, was too fundamental a right to be quashed in the name of military discipline.

On Tuesday, Gaynor responded by writing in his blog: "Politicised militaries and democracies do not mix well."

The judgment will unnerve the military command. It is easy to see why. In a posting on Facebook in March, 2013, Gaynor wrote:

"The war in Afghanistan has been an utter failure but it is the government's domestic policies which have completely betrayed the efforts of soldiers serving on operations. In the time our Army has been in Afghanistan the number of Muslims in Australia has increased from around 280,000 to 476,000. Anyone who thinks Australia is safer as a result is deluded …

While our soldiers have been fighting, taking casualties and dying in Afghanistan to protect Australia's interests and values from violent Islamists our own government has allowed them to take root inside our borders."

He has since pointed out that twice as many Australian Muslims went to join Islamic State than are enlisted in the ADF. When I checked with Defence media they said there were 100 self-identified Muslims out of 81,000 ADF and Reserve personal. So Gaynor is right.

He has already begun his next battle. He will contest next year's federal election as the Senate candidate in Queensland for the Australian Liberty Alliance. He intends to remain in the Army Reserve.


The onion racket

Australian onion grower's cartel keeps out "foreign" onions to keep prices up

The peak industry body for Australian onion farmers is investigating reports some of its growers are supplying imported onions to supermarkets, claiming they grew them locally.

Onions Australia said it had received information about farmers buying imported onions, re-packaging them and selling them to Coles and Woolworths.

In 2012 the two major supermarkets made commitments to only stock Australian onions, which meant growers had to ensure year-round supply.

Historically the industry has struggled to meet demand, but Onions Australia chair Kees Versteeg said growers were now on top of it and any fraudulent activity was an opportunistic way of making extra money.

Mr Versteeg said it was almost impossible to prove growers, or other players in the onion supply chain, were cheating consumers.

"I think it's about making the industry and Australia aware that the potential is there these things can happen," he said.

"The fact is, you can get away with it because no one is policing it. I even find it difficult to prove."

The reports of alleged farmer fraud follow revelations some retailers also have been selling imported onions with false 'Australian grown' signage.

Passing imported onions off as local 'very easy'

Onion industry representatives have repeated Mr Verteeg's concerns to ABC Rural, including another grower who said he knew of two peers mixing imported onions with their own produce.

Mr Versteeg, who runs an onion farm and packing company, said the practice would be "very easy".  "There's no one dropping into our packing facility and investigating those things," he said.

"And that's the problem — onions that are not being traced back to some certain extent as to where they come from, they could be coming from anywhere ... they could be from China."

So who is responsible for ensuring consumers are getting what they pay for, when a sign says 'Australian grown'?

Mr Versteeg said it was "a tough question" but placed responsibility on retailers.

Coles was the first supermarket to announce it would only stock Australian onions on its shelves.  Fresh produce manager Brad Gorman said the commitment was of "significant value" to the onion industry.

"I would hate to put a dollar figure on it but we sell more than 30,000 tonnes of brown, white, red and pink onions across the country all year," he said.


Soft life in a Queensland women's prison

The sense of community established on popular TV show Orange is the New Black, in reality, doesn’t seem too far from the truth.

You could be forgiven for considering some time in prison as a desirable option/break from normality after watching the close bonds formed and new skills learned.

I am usually a law-abiding citizen. But when I was sent to prison I didn’t want to leave.

Let me tell you, it’s not all doom and gloom behind bars. In fact it’s the complete opposite.  That’s what I found out when I was sent to the Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre recently — on assignment.

Other than the odd parking and speeding tickets, I haven’t done anything serious in my time. But since the visit I’ve had a different outlook on my law-abiding ways.

For a start, these women doing time for crimes from stealing, arson, murder to armed robbery are living in air-conditioned units and cells. I don’t even have air-con at my house.

It’s understandabe why the average tax payer sees red on hearing stories like this.

If you’re an eye-for-an-eye type you’d probably want people who have committed murder or burnt down a business with intent to cause suffering, to in-turn suffer in prison, alone and with nothing.  But they don’t.

It was eye-opening to witness the top treatment these incarcerated women at Wacol’s high security prison were receiving.

They can work and earn some cash within the prison grounds. It’s not a lot, but still, it’s something.

Some are employed as landscapers and hairdressers, others care for RSPCA foster cats. They are always occupied with something to do or an activity to take part in.

These criminals can also study behind bars. They can gain myriad of skills and experience to, on their release, gain employment in many industries from hairdressing to personal training. And some of the courses available are government funded.

So, commit a crime and learn how to become a barista, work in horticulture or get a gig in hospitality.

Doesn’t sound too bad does it? Own a pet while you’re at it too.  Seems like a free ride with plenty of privileges to me.

And if you think that sounds grand, what about bringing your kids to prison with you?

Not everyone can do this I must say. It’s up to inmates to apply to have their kids (aged up to five years) live with them behind bars.

Walking through the residential units for mothers, everything seemed too good to be true. From cots to baby clothes to milk bottles and play equipment, everything is provided for these crims. Never mind having a baby shower or stockpiling your hard-earned, I thought to myself.

These women have access to midwives, councillors and even children’s playgroups and day care (off-site).

This isn’t a judgement at the individual women, just an observation at the overall scenario. They all have their individual stories.

The overcrowded prison is no doubt filled with talented prisoners, many who express their feelings through art or embroidery classes.

Some use their talents for good by making gowns for Angel Babies — an organisation that supplies gowns made from donated wedding dresses for babies who don’t survive after birth — others knit coats or make toys for rescue animals.

The courses and activities provided are part of a rehabilitation program with hope to improve or change past behaviour. But it seems a bit over the top.

These prisoners are living the life. They are getting luxuries not many other women in our community have. I know of women who are living week to week trying to afford rent, raise a family and send their kids to school.  No doubt they would like to study, go to yoga classes and paint all day.

I’m sure there are deprivations these women suffer, but it isn’t exactly "hard time".


P&O announces new purpose-built cruise ship for Australia to arrive in 2019

Cruising is a big deal these days, largely because of cheap Third World staff

P&O CRUISES Australia will make history by becoming the first cruise line to build a new ship specifically for the booming Australian market.

The planned 135,500-tonne ship will be the biggest cruise ship ever to be based fulltime in Australia, carrying more than 4200 guests.

To be launched in 2019, the new ship will have double the capacity of the biggest cruise vessel currently homeporting year round in this market. It will be based out of Sydney.

While a range of cruise lines have ships based in Australia either fulltime or for the busy summer season, all are either refurbished or have been based in other regions before being assigned to Australian waters.

At 323m in length and with 2100 guest rooms, P&O says the new ship will be a ‘game changer’ for Australian cruising. Built specifically for modern Australian cruising tastes, it will offer itineraries from three to 10 days duration.

The addition of the new P&O Cruises’ ship forms part of a global announcement made overnight by P&O Cruises’ parent company, Carnival Corporation, to stock markets.

The company has signed a memo of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build four new cruise ships for its global fleet.

As the world’s largest travel and leisure company, Carnival Corporation has an existing fleet of 99 cruise ships and now 17 new ships scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2020.
P&O’s new purpose-built ship will cater to the booming Australian cruising market.

Carnival Australia Executive Chairman Ann Sherry and P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell hailed the first ‘newbuild’ cruise ship for the Australian market as the best possible good news for one of the world’s top performing cruise markets.

"The much anticipated first newbuild cruise ship is a huge vote of confidence in the Australian cruise market with much of the 20 per cent year-on-year passenger growth over the past decade driven by P&O Cruises’ dynamic industry leadership," Ms Sherry said.

Mr Myrmell said the new ship added to P&O Cruises’ pattern of growth, with the recent addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden to its existing three-ship fleet to be followed in 2017 with the addition of Pacific Explorer.

"P&O Cruises is the modern face of Australian cruising and, with such a proud heritage of leadership, it is a natural step to announce that the line will take delivery of its first newbuild ship," Mr Myrmell said.

Mr Myrmell said details and features of the new ship will be revealed later but it will build on the continued evolution of the P&O Cruises’ brand and will reflect the tastes of modern Australia.


4 January, 2016

Muslim leaders including the Grand Mufti of Australia back fatwa against Islamic State

They're panicking about a backlash.  Other Islamic states -- particularly Saudi Arabia -- are also brutal. Why no condemnation of them?

Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country operating under Sharia law, whips rape VICTIMS and only gives them pardons if there's a major international outcry.  Saudi Arabia also amputates the hands of thieves.  Pakistan, another Muslim country, executes atheists under its notorious blasphemy laws.  The Iranian "Happy Video" dancers were sentenced to 91 lashes and prison time for recording their video.  In Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Afghanistan homosexuality is an executable offense.

Australia's leading imams have backed a fatwa against the Islamic State terrorist group, warning that any support for the group contradicts Islamic teachings.

In a New Year message to the nation's Muslim community, the Grand Mufti of Australia together with prominent imams from NSW and Victoria have given their religious opinions and urged congregations, particularly the youth, to listen to their religious leaders.

The Grand Mufti, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, who is the leading representative of Australia's Sunni Islamic scholars,  said "most Islamic Legal Circles and Fatwa Boards have condemned ISIS, declaring that Islam is innocent of all these barbaric actions despite ISIS using the term Islamic in its name. The term 'Islamic State' has been usurped by ISIS," he said, using one of several acronyms for IS.

 "We stand with all organisations that have condemned ISIS and declared innocence from its inhumane actions.

"Locally we would like to bring to the attention of our youth, and those who lead them, that ISIS is a trick designed to prey on youth, either by their being killed or locked up in prison. We doubt the origins of ISIS because since it was established it has not done one thing for the benefit of Islam and Muslims. Rather its actions and barbaric acts have been against the way of God," he said.

"Therefore we warn our youth regarding the deceitful propaganda that ISIS uses through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We remind our youth in Australia that social media and the medium of the internet cannot be a trusted means regarding religious knowledge."

Dr Mohamed's comments come as Muslim leaders around the world, including 70,000 clerics in India, have issued a fatwa against terrorist groups including ISIS and after the Australian National Imams Consultative Forum released a document, Australian Muslim perspective on some key contemporary concerns, addressing religious issues raised by IS's activities and recruitment.

The document examines dozens of issues from citizenship in Australia and Islam, to jihad, and makes statements backed by more than 20 Australian imams against slavery, suicide, and foreign fighting. It bluntly states that the so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, as proclaimed by IS is not legitimate and therefore Australian Muslims have no ­obligation to follow its dictates.

Sheikh Mohamadu Saleem, of the Board of Imams in Victoria, also had a New Year message for the community, saying that violent extremism is neither religious nor Islamic.

"We condemn and deplore ISIS's violent propaganda that is perpetrated against innocent civilians in the name of Islam as the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'Harm is neither inflicted nor tolerated in Islam.'"

He said that "ISIS is trying to justify 'violence against innocent civilians' by interpreting texts of the Koran and hadiths, statements of Muhammad 'cherry-picked and out of context' to suit their violent actions. Majority of the leading scholars and Islamic organisations have vehemently denounced ISIS for its illegitimate and misleading propaganda." 

Sheikh Yahya Safi, the imam at Australia's biggest mosque in Lakemba, said: "I stand with the Islamic scholars from around the world who have condemned the actions of ISIS that contradict the teachings of Islam and I have stressed this on many occasions, especially in my Friday sermons."

Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilali, the former grand mufti of Australia, has also warned that IS is like a trap that had tricked people and countries.

"Joining them is a type of madness that does not concord with the teachings of any religion. I warn the Muslim youths from all over the world against joining ISIS or supporting them in any way," Sheikh Hilali said.

"Joining such a group or supporting it contradicts the Islamic teachings 100 per cent, because this group is clear in breach of the Islamic teachings."


Liberal party election strategist Lynton Crosby has been awarded a knighthood in the United Kingdom

The British Left have a hide to criticize this.  They have promoted some pretty dubious characters.  I have in mind the amazingly "controversial" Keith Vaz.  He has not yet made it into the House of Lords but Tony Blair appointed him to the Privy Council -- so he is now a "Right Honourable"

Nicknamed the Wizard of Oz, Mr Crosby has been knighted for "political service", after running the election campaign for British Prime Minister David Cameron.

He was among 1,926 people honoured in the New Year list.

Hailing from South Australia, Mr Crosby was the federal director of the Liberals until 2002, playing a key role in John Howard's four election victories.

He also had success with campaign of London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Known for his aggressive approach to political strategy, Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable once referred to Mr Crosby as "an Australia rottweiler".

Controversy over knighthoods as political rewards

British Labour's shadow home secretary Andy Burnham called Mr Crosby's knighthood "outrageous".

Mr Burnham said it was "the clearest evidence yet that the Tories think they can get away with whatever they like".

Another Labour MP, Graham Jones, said it was a sign of cronyism.  "The honours system is supposed to recognise dedicated public service, not simply be a vehicle to reward Tory cronies and donors," Mr Jones said. "David Cameron should take care not to undermine the integrity of the system."


Cardinal Pell: a scapegoat at the altar of progressivism

Australians concerned about freedom of religion in this country would be well advised to look beyond the present and likely future debate over same-sex marriage.

Already, what was until recently the traditional view, that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, is being presented as offensive at best and discriminatory at worst by some who advocate what they term marriage equality.

It is not only many believers who hold the traditional view about marriage. However, it is possible that the Catholic Church and some other Christian denominations, plus adherents of Hinduism and Islam, will be targeted for their attitudes on this issue by government tribunals and the like in the future. The first instance is already manifesting itself in Tasmania with respect to the Catholic Church.

For an example of how current government-funded institutions regard religion, attention should be given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The royal commission has done good work in revealing the extent of mainly historical cases of child sexual abuse in churches and secular and government institutions up until relatively recent times.

Evidence before the royal commission indicates that sexual abuse was at a high level in the Catholic Church until about two decades ago, particularly in Victoria in the archdiocese of Melbourne and the diocese of Ballarat in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s.

The Catholic Church has never been a democracy. Each archdiocese or diocese is ruled by an archbishop or bishop respectively who reports directly to the Pope in Rome.

Evidence given to the royal commission and the Victorian parliamentary inquiry demonstrates that Frank Little (archbishop of Melbourne from 1974 to 1996) and Ronald Mulkearns (bishop of Ballarat from 1971 to 1997) knew of instances of pedophilia in their areas of responsibility but covered them up.

George Pell was the first archbishop or bishop to act against child sexual abuse when he set up the Melbourne Response in 1996, just three months after being appointed archbishop of Melbourne. This was the first time Pell had been in charge of an archdiocese or diocese.

Even so, Pell has very much been the target of the royal commission. It could be that such an expensive and longstanding organisation wants a high-profile target. And Pell is one of the best known Australians. Moreover, the cardinal has an international reputation and is the third most senior figure in the Vatican.

Pell already has appeared before the royal commission twice, once in person and once by video link from Rome. He also appeared in person at the Victorian parliamentary inquiry.

It has been known for some time that Pell has a heart condition. Yet on December 11 royal commission chairman Peter McClellan dismissed the cardinal’s request to give evidence via video link from Rome. This despite the fact Pell had a doctor’s certificate stating he was unfit to undertake long-distance air travel and that other witnesses, resident in Australia, had given evidence by video link.

Clearly the royal commission wants Pell in the witness box, even though such a personal appearance is most unlikely to change his evidence.

In the hearings last month, many of the high-profile claims about what Pell allegedly was told concerning child sex abuse between two and four decades ago collapsed under cross-examination from the cardinal’s lawyers.

It may be that the royal commission has a secondary agenda — namely, by focusing on the conservative Pell, it hopes to influence the Catholic Church to move to a less theologically conservative mindset.

Two case studies illustrate the point.

On August 24 last year, the royal commission interviewed Geoffrey Robinson. The retired bishop is a progressive and a critic of Pell. Despite anticipation in the media, he said little about Pell except that he and many of his colleagues disliked the cardinal. But Robinson declared that, in the late 1980s, he regarded Mulkearns as "one of the more forward-looking bishops".

Towards the end of his testimony, Robinson criticised "obligatory celibacy" for priests and what he termed the "creeping infallibility" of the Pope. Much to the apparent satisfaction of counsel assisting, Gail Furness SC.

Last month, John Walshe, the parish priest of Mentone in Melbourne, was called to the witness stand for several hours across two days. This followed his decision to make a statement supporting Pell’s recall of a phone conversation with child sex abuse victim David Ridsdale.

Counsel assisting, Angus Stewart SC, accused Walshe of having "fabricated" evidence because of his friendship with Pell. It was never suggested that any witnesses critical of Pell might be guilty of fabricating evidence because of their enmity towards the cardinal.

Before this exchange, Stewart put it to Walshe that he had "similar viewpoints on theological questions" to that of Pell, including "a conservative theology of priesthood and sexual morality". McClellan later intervened to imply that there should be a "greater role" for "women in the church". Later still, McClellan did not intervene when counsel for one of the victims raised issues such as married priests and even the Latin mass. None of this is directly related to clerical child sexual abuse.

The church in Victoria is divided into the archdiocese of Melbourne plus the dioceses of Ballarat, Sale and Sandhurst (based at Bendigo). The members of the hierarchy who most frequently turned a blind eye to the crimes of their priests were Little and Mulkearns in Melbourne and Ballarat respectively. Neither was a theological conservative. On the available evidence there was much less child sexual abuse in Sale and Sandhurst, where there was a conservative tradition.

It has been reported subsequently on the ABC and in Fairfax Media that, when a young priest, Walshe was found by church authorities to have had an improper sexual relationship with an 18-year-old seminarian. This was a serious indiscretion but not a crime. However, neither news organisation has covered the recent revelation in The Australian that one of Pell’s most high-profile accusers is a convicted pedophile.

The lack of balance in the media’s reporting of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church reflects the fact many journalists detest Pell’s conservatism. There are disturbing signs that a similar disposition is evident in the royal commission, which runs the risk of breaching the division between church and state.


Lake Eyre begins filling with water after Queensland outback gets monsoon rains

Recent rainfall in S.W. Queensland and South Australia's far north has started to fill Lake Eyre, turning dry and dusty plains green with vegetation.

The Bureau of Meteorology has flood watch alerts in place for the north-east pastoral district, with a number of roads closed, including parts of the Birdsville and Strzelecki Tracks.

Kalamurina has recorded 182.8 millimetres of rain, Mt Dare 63 millimetres and Oodnadatta 23.8 millimetres over the past few days.

The Birdsville Track from the South Australian border to Mungeranie, Mungeranie to Kalamurina, the Birdsville Inside Track, Marree to Muloorina, Strzelecki Track from Innamincka to Merty Merty, Mount Hopeless to Lyndhurst, Innamincka to Nappa Merrie and Cordillo Downs Road to Arrabury turn off to SA/Qld border tracks are closed due to rain.

Sections of the Oodnadatta Track, between Hamilton and Oodnadatta, Mt Dare and Hamilton, Oodnadatta and Coober Pedy, and William Creek and Marree are also closed to all vehicles.

William Creek pilot Trevor Wright said the rain had started to bring Lake Eyre to life. "Lake Eyre is looking fantastic at the present time," he said. "It's got a very good covering of water on it from that rain we had, that depression that came down from the Northern Territory. "There are quite a few smaller creeks flowing into it on the east side and also from the Anna Creek side as well."

Mr Wright said it had been several years since he had seen so much greenery in the region.

"The whole area, it's not brown and red anymore, it's just green with saltbush and vegetation growing. Quite a lot of the clay pans and swamps are starting to fill up with water," he said.

"It's very unusual to see this amount of green at this time of year — it's usually burning."

The rain has been well received by pastoralists and has tourism operators hopeful for a busy season. "It's starting to put some colour back into it for people who want to see something that's pretty unique in the middle of summer," Mr Wright said. "It's a great chance, providing they take the right precautions, to come up and have a look around the area.

"Out in the Simpson Desert I would say over the next week or so the greening up of that will be incredible."

However, Mr Wright said the rain highlighted the need for improved telecommunications across the region, with search and rescue missions often hindered by failing satellite systems.

"I think some of the resources from the Federal and State Government should be looking at rural and remote areas to upgrade the telecommunication services, especially out this way," he said.

"If we do get follow-up rain, I think it will be a reasonable tourist season in 2016, and one of the high priorities there is communications for people coming in from interstate and overseas."


Qld.: More reductions in solar panel handouts planned

HUNDREDS of thousands of homeowners with solar panels would lose the generous feed-in tariff if they install energy-storing batteries, under a proposal by Energex.

In a submission to the Queensland Productivity Commission electricity pricing inquiry, the state-owned power distributor calls for the law to be changed to strip customers’ eligibility for the 44¢/kWh tariff if they fit Battery Energy Storage Systems.

The Palaszczuk Government says battery storage was not envisaged when the solar bonus scheme was introduced. But it was not ruling the proposal in or out at this stage and would consider it along with other recommendations after the commission released its report in mid-February.

Queensland has almost 400,000 homes with PV panels. Stripping eligibility to the 44¢ rate would affect about 265,000 households.

Energex argues the increased ability to keep large amounts of power for release back into the network would give those solar householders on the top rate an unfair advantage which was never intended by the bonus scheme.

Ergon does not call for eligibility to be removed in its submission, but argues that generous government rebates and feed-in tariffs have shifted the mindset of many customers from an environmental motivation to seeking a financial return.

But solar owners are furious. Brisbane resident John Sheehan, who has been the local co-ordinator for Solar Citizens, said the proposal unfairly penalised individuals and undermined the State Government’s own target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

He said such a move would discourage people from installing batteries until the bonus scheme ended 12 years from now.

"Energex’s action in proposing to block 170,000 homes from installing batteries conflicts with their rhetoric about price signals and reducing peak loads. It’s hypocritical and a bit childish really.’’

Mr Sheehan speculated that the distributor was concerned that batteries would reduce evening peak demand — and reduce the amount power companies could charge under planned demand-based tariffs.

The 44c/kWh feed-in tariff, brought in by Labor in 2008 as an incentive to encourage homeowners to fit photo voltaic systems, has helped make Queensland the solar capital of Australia.

The rate was reduced to 8c/KWh for new customers in 2012 by the incoming LNP government, which shut it down in 2014. Home-owners in southeast Queensland now have to negotiate a rate with their individual energy retailer, while regional customers get 6.348c/kWh.

But those on the 44c level continue to receive it.


3 January, 2016

Australia, we are The Lucky Country. So stop complaining

Jane Fynes-Clinton

I am pretty sure the fine Clinton is a basically conservative lady.  She is grateful for Australia.  Leftists just whine about it.  And gratitude is a major marker of conservatism and Christianity.  Committed Christians give thanks before each meal. Like Australians generally, few Australian conservatives are committed Christians but they do generally treat Christianity with respect.  Some of us even go to church on occasions.

Jane has written other articles that reveal her as patriotic and conservative, two things that are often related. I reproduce immediately below this one an  article by her that I heartily agree with.  It is a balanced look  at feminism -- a very rare thing indeed.

And from my observation and reading, I think she is pretty right on her international comparisons.  Garbage collection and potholed roads seem to be a major problem in Britain but not here.  Potholes are rare and only last a couple of days here.  They often last for months in Britain.  And ALL our garbage is collected every week with no need for us to sort it in any  way.  We have recycling bins but nobody checks what is in them. That would be a dream in most of Britain.

And our banks are the world's best.  At the height of the financial crisis, instead of going bust, they continued to make profits pretty much as usual.  Beat that!  I used to think our banks were pretty terrible -- until I encountered British and American ones.

And, remarkably, it is true that our politicians are pretty good.  There have been quite a few times over the years when I have written to my local member over some bureaucratic boneheadedness I had encountered.  And the problem was rapidly fixed on all occasions.

We have much to be grateful for here in the Land of Oz.

Instead of looking to criticise our nation and those in it, we must look to praise and find pride in it. The frustration is we could be so much more if we accepted that our economic situation is pretty good in a world sense, our crime rate is better than most, our politicians are largely accountable and work for us, and we are mostly safe.

We are a stunning nation and, at our core, a wonderful people. But misery seems to like company and an attitudinal shift here is overdue.

I have had the privilege of travelling to many nations in the past six weeks and am struck at how blessed Australia is — and how little we appreciate it.

On a day-to-day level, we have fresh fruit and vegetables by the barrowful. In England, Canada and France at this time of year, choices are limited and produce is expensive.

We have fresh air and drinkable water straight from the tap. In Bangkok, both are the stuff of faraway lands.

We have access to medical help regardless of income. Access to a quality education in Australia is not determined by social standing, as it is in many Asian nations.

Our footpaths and roads aren’t allowed to be in disrepair for long (holes and unevenness feature in main streets from London to Bangkok to New York) and our rubbish is reliably collected — again, a rarity in even civilised societies.

These are simple, transparent truths, so a little perspective and a little glimpse outside our bubble into the world around us might help us adopt an attitude of gratitude.

As well as these societal structures that we have demanded and our governments and authorities have implemented, we are also The Lucky Country — and that need not be imbued with the irony the creator of the phrase intended.

The Lucky Country is the title of Donald Horne’s 1964 book. It got its name from words in its last chapter, which read: "Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck".

Horne grieved for an Australia at the time that did not seem to think for itself, that clung to traditions that were not its own, that had a chip on its shoulder the size of Tasmania. [I remember Donald.  It was Donald who had the chip on his shoulder]

Sadly, not a huge amount has changed in more than 50 years. But is it possible that 2016 could be our year? That we might start being the nation the rest of the world thinks we are?

We are lucky, certainly. We have space, natural beauty and resources and endless sunshine.

These are gifts we do not necessarily deserve, but should consciously treasure.

Our encroaching negativity — for starters, the practice of whining online about meals, people, systems and anything else that niggles, and our aggression on the roads over tiny infractions — is a characteristic we must shed to advance our civility and 2016 is the year to do it.

Australians want to collectively regain mental wellness and finally accept the positives our nation is groaning with. Our land abounds with them.

2016 is the year for gratitude. Happy — the kind that is deeply real and lasting — new year.


It's time to grow up and end gender politics, Jane Fynes-Clinton writes

An article from 2012

GENERALISATIONS about either sex, particularly when used in the political debate, are demeaning to all and cloud the real issues.

WE WOULD expect our children to behave better. If the kiddies picked on one another in such a way, right-minded parents would scold them, explaining that we are progressive and civilised and this is simply not an acceptable way to behave.

Reasonable people don't call one another names just for being boys or girls - surely?

But when the heat is on, at times when we should be most adult, too many resort to name-calling and using undertones that are built around gender even when it is not appropriate to do so.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman did it on Tuesday at the Budget Estimates hearing. Irritated at pestering questions by Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, he suggested she was "being cute".

A look at Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Facebook page reveals the much-publicised hammering she got in a question-and-answer session earlier in the week was not isolated.

References early yesterday morning included one poster wanting the PM to make them dinner; and another for her to get back on her broomstick. And many other such predictable, gender-based barbs.

Drunken footballers on "mad Monday" called out lewd sexual things. And whether or not the comments were directed at female journalists, and an inquiry found they were not, they were still sexist and demeaning.

Women are no better. They can be as savagely sexist and poisonous as men. They generalise about men being emotionally unavailable, domestically lazy and obsessed with sex.

But gender generalisations are holding us all back and often clouding the real issues that are in urgent need of exploration.

While some men will say the Canterbury Bulldogs' rugby league team carry-on was "just what footy blokes do", many abhor the lack of respect it showed.

And many women are shocked that men are looked at with suspicion when they are alone around small children and reject generalisations about them being knuckle-draggers or meatheads.

We should never make general judgments about the opposite gender by the behaviour of its worst examples.

And that is the point - while evidence abounds of the most basic of gender stereotypes being wheeled out and put on display increasingly regularly lately, not all men are the same and neither are all women.

There is talk that Newman and federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott are "not liked by women", as if women are an indivisible mass with one opinion, one mind and one vote.

It is as if women seek the most female-friendly candidate and vote for them, without thought on policy or principle.

The situation is no more advanced in the US, with the same debate going on, but with different players. The man who wants Barack Obama's job, Mitt Romney, is cast as not being popular with women, but is blessed with a wife who will speak up for him and has proved popular with the public (sound familiar?).

Isn't it all a bit primitive? Doesn't that broad grouping demean women in particular and society in general?

The key to understanding society is not, and has never been, as simple as herding women or men together and stereotyping them. The spectrum of views and interests in each gender is increasingly broad and varied.

But that seems forgotten in debates where generalisations are convenient.

We do not help the issue by cutting the cloth to fit the model. We accept sexist jokes from, say, a group of girlfriends, but not from our boss.

Man and women reach for and use the sexist button when it suits us - not unlike Labor, which has relentlessly targeted Abbott over having a so-called problem with women, but then on Tuesday baulked at giving the disgraced and disgraceful texter Peter Slipper the boot.

If the Alan Jones drama this week taught us anything, it's that bad behaviour is not sexist just because it involves people of a different gender.

Insensitivity and nasty comments, such as those Jones made about Gillard and her dad, are just rude. In his case, gender does not come into it, but in that case was an obvious weapon to reach for.

If sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, framing all arguments in terms of gender is the basest form of understanding.

So, excluding Alan Jones and most of the Federal Parliament, let's get serious about developing a vestige of civility, put down the gender card and get on with growing up.

This is no sandpit and we are no longer little boys and girls.


Bob Hawke Says Nuclear Waste Dump 'A Win-Win' For Australia

Being arguably the most popular Leftist Prime Minister Australia has had, Hawke still has influence on the Left, so this is significant.  The Labor Party Premier of South Australia is of the same mind

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is still pushing for Australia to become the world's nuclear waste dump, calling the plan "a win-win" that could "transform our own fiscal situation."

Hawke was an advocate for nuclear waste to be stored securely in Australia's remote regions from the time of his Prime Ministership which ended in 1991; now, a quarter of a century later, the Labor Party elder statesman said he still wanted to see the idea come to fruition.

Speaking at the embargoed launch of cabinet papers from 1990 and 1991 -- the turbulent period which saw him elected to an unlikely and record fourth term as PM, then quickly dumped from the top job as Paul Keating's second leadership spill saw him seize power in December '91 -- Hawke spoke widely on both historical and contemporary issues.

"In my last final period as prime minister, I had a world economic group of geologists and experts commissioned to find out where are the world’s safest remote sites for storage of waste, and all the sites were in Australia," he said.

"We would negotiate with the countries to take the waste and we’d make the world a safer place by having all this unsafe stuff around the world stored safely, and at the same time we’d transform our own fiscal situation. This is what my Chinese friends call a win-win situation."


Australia's long-awaited free trade deal with China finally comes into force

More than a decade in the making, the deal is expected to deliver immediate benefits to exporters across the country.

From now, more than 85 per cent of Australia's goods exported to China – worth about $86 million last year – will enter duty free. That will rise to 96 per cent when the FTA is fully implemented.

The deal is expected to save exporters hundreds of millions of dollars in extra tariff payments next year alone.

The dairy industry expects to add 600-700 extra jobs in the same timeframe, as tariffs of up to 20 per cent are progressively eliminated across a plethora of products, from infant formula to cheese.

For Mr Thomas, a sharefarmer in Binginwarri in South Gippsland, the free trade deal has given him confidence to stay in the industry – and he's now contemplating buying his own property.

"I think the FTA's going to really bolster the industry. It's going to give people the confidence to invest, whether that's in new properties or expanding their current businesses," he told Fairfax Media.

"In a nutshell I think it's a fantastic thing and it's been a long time coming. And it's not just the dairy industry that's going to benefit, but the agriculture sector generally."

China is Australia's largest trading partner, buying almost a third of all Australian exports.

Under the FTA, tariffs of up to 25 per cent on beef and 20 per cent on wine will also be eliminated over the coming years. Duties on resources, medicines and services will also start coming down.

Consumers will benefit from more affordable Chinese goods such as electronics, clothing and other household items.

The Abbott government signed the deal – commenced by the Howard government way back in 2005 – in June.

A political bunfight over labour market testing ensued, but the opposition eventually helped the government pass the enabling legislation through the parliament in early November.

On Sunday Trade Minister Andrew Robb called it an historic day.

"This will prove a major fillip for our exporters in market of 1.4 billion people which includes a rapidly rising middle class," he said.

Exporters will see a "double whammy" of tariff cuts, with one round today and another on January 1, he said.


2 January, 2016

Immigrant High School students do best in West Australia

Some ironies here, I think.  Spotty Anglo girl best at farming.  Chinese girl top academically

TWO public schoolgirls — including one from a state agricultural college — have taken out WA’s top academic honours for Year 12 graduates, the Beazley Medals.

Perth Modern School graduate Hui Min Tay was awarded the WA Certificate of Education Beazley Medal for achieving the highest award score in the state.

Megan McSeveney from the Harvey WA College of Agriculture was awarded the Beazley Medal for Vocational Education Training achievement.

Education Minister Peter Collier presented the girls with their medals at a ceremony in Kings Park on Thursday morning.

Miss Tay won multiple School Curriculum and Standards Authority awards for her work this year, including a General Exhibition, which are awarded to the top 40 WACE students in the state, a Course Exhibition for Ancient History, Chemistry and Physics, a Certificate of Distinction for Ancient History, Chemistry, Mathematics: Specialist and Physics, and a Certificate of Commendation.

Miss McSeveney completed Certificates II and III in Agriculture, a Certificate II in Production Horticulture and Certificate II in Wool Handling. She was also recognised for putting her skills into action in the workplace.

Miss McSeveney, who grew up on a farm in South Africa before coming to WA, said she hoped to go on to study animal science, with a long-term goal of running her own dairy.

"Hui Min and Megan have not just done well this year; they have shown a commitment to their education over many years," Mr Collier said.

Hui Min told 6PR she was surprised to have got such high marks as she found the WACE exams hard and thought she might have "stuffed up" one of them.

Born in Singapore, she started studying at Perth Modern School midway through Year 10 when she was 14.

She said she thought her Beazley Medal win was a combination of her hard work and the support she has been given by other students and staff at Perth Modern School, which she described as a "very inspiring environment."

She now plans to study science at university for two years, and then possibly go on to study medicine.

Perth Modern School, an academically selective school, had the most General Exhibition winners this year with nine students placing within the top 40. The school also had 79 other award winners.

St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls had six General Exhibition winners and Presbyterian Ladies College and Christ Church Grammar School both had three.

Rossmoyne Senior High School students also scooped the awards with 41 winners and St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls had 40.


Bob Hawke call: cut ALP ties with CFMEU

Bob Hawke says Labor and the ACTU must embrace reforms to improve union governance and transparency.

Bob Hawke has called on the Labor Party and the ACTU to consider cutting ties with the scandal-plagued Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, while Paul Keating has warned that trade union influence inside the party must be reduced.

The two former Labor prime ministers, who forged a historic partnership with unions to transform the economy a generation ago, have told The Australian they are appalled by the evidence of systemic union corruption, and urged union leaders to refocus on the national economic interest.

Mr Hawke, who as prime minister deregistered the rogue ­Builders Labourers Federation in 1986, said Labor and the ACTU must embrace reforms to improve union governance and transparency.

"The unions need to clean up their act and get their house in order," Mr Hawke said. "It just is appalling. I mean, I wouldn’t tolerate it. You know what I did with the Builders Labourers Federation — I would throw them out."

Asked if the CFMEU should still be affiliated to the ACTU and Labor, Mr Hawke, who was ACTU president throughout the 1970s, said: "Well, I would be very happy for them not to be at this stage."

The comments from the two Labor elders came before the Heydon royal commission released its damning findings on Wednesday, recommending civil or criminal action against 37 ­people and describing "widespread" corruption throughout the union movement.

The CFMEU, a union with a criminal record and that has been fined for multiple breaches of the law, had 12 present and former ­officials referred to authorities for possible corruption, intimidation, breaching official duties and knowingly giving false evidence.

The Labor luminaries’ comments stand in stark contrast to the stance adopted yesterday by Labor’s workplace relations spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, who rubbished commissioner Dyson Heydon’s report, saying it read like it was "written by a B-grade subeditor of a sleazy ­tabloid".

Asked about Labor’s continued affiliation with the CFMEU, Mr O’Connor, whose brother ­Michael O’Connor is the CFMEU national secretary, defended the construction union while simultaneously stressing Labor had "zero tolerance for corruption".

"Anyone who’s broken the law should be dealt with appropriately, but to suggest because there may be individuals in an organisation, somehow that organisation is systemically corrupt, it does not hold water," he told ABC radio.

Mr Hawke said the ACTU and Labor had not previously done enough to acknowledge or res­pond to the problems in the union movement, but he was pleased that Labor leader Bill Shorten had recently put forward proposals to strengthen union governance, increase penalties for illegality and overhaul political donation laws.

"Bill is coming out now and saying more should be done," Mr Hawke said.

Mr Shorten, who has been on leave, did not formally respond to the commission’s report until 24 hours after its release, first on Twitter and later in a statement.

"If Mr Turnbull and his Liberals want to fight an election on industrial relations, bring it on. We won on WorkChoices & we’ll win again,’’ he tweeted.

In further comments to The Australian, Mr Shorten indicated Labor would consider measures to deal with corruption as long as they were not targeted solely at unions. "We want to stamp out any criminality in unions, corporations or anywhere else," he said. "We will look at serious and sensible suggestions to improve governance."

He said as a minister he sent administrators into the HSU, which uncovered many of the problems within that union.

"And as Labor leader, I have announced a series of measures designed to further improve governance of unions."

Mr Keating, who won the prime ministership from Mr Hawke in 1991, told The Australian the unions did not have the same commitment to the national economic interest as they did under the Accord partnership with the Labor government in the 1980s and 90s.

"The propensity of the ACTU leadership to agree a set of national economic outcomes consistent with their members’ best interests was more obvious than today, but then the labour market today is reasonably flexible, otherwise wages wouldn’t be growing at 2.2 per cent," he said.

As treasurer, Mr Keating placed a priority on the Accord that moderated wage claims in return for tax cuts and social benefits while supporting tariff reductions, industry deregulation, labour market reform and asset sales that made the economy more productive, efficient and competitive.

He said union influence inside Labor was too overbearing and there should be a rethink of the party-union nexus. "The preponderance of trade union weight in the Labor Party’s councils is now too large, given organised labour’s influence in the current and contemporary labour market," Mr Keating said.

"The party should be broader, freer, and whatever influence organised labour has should be such as to genuinely represent its weight in the broader economy, but not to distort the (party’s) processes."

Mr Hawke agreed unions "should not have an undue influence" inside Labor and that falling union membership must lead to reduced union delegations to state party conferences, currently set at 50 per cent.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver disputed the suggestion corruption was widespread in the union movement and criticised the "political nature" of the commission and the "extreme language" in its final report.


Social media has lit up with a stream of brutal criticism about the ABC's New Year's Eve firework hosting

Viewers have slammed the ABC’s ‘lame’ and cringeworthy New Year’s Eve entertainment, which was a mix of blatant self-promotion, ‘embarrassing’ jokes and online technical difficulties.

For years, Channel Nine have had the rights to show the New Year’s Eve fireworks, but national broadcaster ABC has been given the task of hosting the coverage for the second year running – and have been widely panned for their efforts.

It had been hosted by Justine Clarke from 8.30pm for the family portion of the programming, and was followed by co-hosts Eddie Perfect, of Play School, and Ella Hooper, of Killing Heidi.

Social media was filled with messages slamming the ABC for a range of reasons, with one person claiming ‘I almost wish (Channel Nine personality) Richard Wilkins was back.’

‘Seriously @ABCTV #nyeabc is the worst. You seriously suck. What did we do to deserve this sh*te? Oh I know. We stayed home #SydNYE,’ tweeted another person.

Ironically, the program pretended it was being run by puppets from ABC's children's programs and even showed the toys trying to deal with technical difficulties.

Celebrities – and some hard-to-place faces – appeared in an awkward montage wishing Australians a Happy New Year and plugging new programs on the ABC next year.

‘Have a good year and, and watch our show!’ one ABC personality yelled out.

‘ABC’s NYE coverage is a who’s who of celebrities… No, literally a who’s who, no idea who any of them are,’ tweeted Corey Sinclair.

ABC personalities Brooke Satchwell and Matt Day both appeared in the montage before a pub quiz-style program hosted by Lawrence Mooney in between the 'family fireworks' at 9pm and midnight

In the lead up to the 9pm ‘family fireworks’, presenters Justine Clarke and Eddie Perfect led a search for the Playschool character Humpty Dumpty. The egg toy was eventually found on the top of the Opera House.

‘What a patronising, cringeworthy presentation for the 9pm fireworks. Just a bit embarrassed for Australia right now,’ tweeted Casey.

‘And yet again the telecast of Sydney fireworks is totally lame and so badly scripted,’ #cringe #abc #embarrassing,’ tweeted Anna Patterson.

‘The skit with the ABC children’s toys is unbelievably boring. Hurry up and show the family fireworks,’ tweeted Jeremy.

‘Every year it’s the same excruciating, embarrassing fail,’ wrote a Facebook user.

‘Sorry the Big Bash cricket is way better entertainment,’ wrote another, who swore to switch channels ‘until five minutes to 12.’

Others were disappointed that a technical problem meant they not only couldn’t get the ABC on their televisions, but they also couldn’t live stream the fireworks as promised.

‘This is what we got to see as the fireworks happened – pathetic, ABC sucks,’ Alyson Keeys tweeted, alongside a photo of computer screen. The screen said: ‘Sorry! For legal reasons, we can’t live stream all programs yet’ with the ABC logo.

‘Looks like ABC doesn’t have digital broadcast rights for #NYESYD – need to use Telstra stream,’ wrote Bradley Jarvis.

'The Sound of Music gang has my 18month old ENTRANCED,' tweeted Jess.

'Pub quiz again the highlight of coverage. Kids segment hit and miss, Falls performances an odd choice,' one person wrote on Twitter.

Pre-recorded footage from Falls Festival earlier that day was aired in the coverage, including of Courtney Barnett, Paul Kelly, RÜFÜS, Peking Duk, Hilltop Hoods, Bloc Party, The Wombats and Foals.

Between the 9pm family fireworks and midnight, media personality Lawrence Mooney hosted a pub quiz, questioning ABC personalities on events of the year.

Some said the program dragged on for too long, while many on social media applauded the pub-quiz, including guests Tom Ballard and Emma Alberici.


Recovering student loans from overseas residents

From today, people who have benefited from Australian student loans and now live overseas will pay for them the same way as they would if they lived in Australia.

Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said it was estimated that up to $30 million was lost annually due to graduates moving overseas and from today those graduates would be required to notify the Australian Taxation Office to arrange repayments.

Minister Birmingham said recouping debts under the Higher Education Loan Programme or Trade Support Loan scheme would ensure Australia’s world-class, income-contingent student loans scheme was fairer and more sustainable into the future.

"The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring the future sustainability of Australia’s student loans scheme and to ensuring it is fair for all Australians.

"Until now, people who took out a loan under the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) or a Trade Support Loan (TSL) and moved overseas were under no obligation to repay their debt as long as they remained offshore residents," Minister Birmingham said.

"From 2016-17, anyone who has a Higher Education Loan Programme or Trade Support Loan debt who earns above the minimum repayment threshold (currently $54,126) will be required to make repayments regardless of where they live.

"As well as making the scheme fairer and more equitable, the Government’s changes will improve the sustainability of the scheme with taxpayers to benefit by $150 million over the next decade."

Minister Birmingham said it is estimated that around $20?30 million each year was lost due to graduates moving overseas and up to $800 million due to non-repayment of debts from students living overseas had been lost since the start of the student loan scheme in 1989.

All Australians with current and new HELP and TSL debt who move overseas for six months or more are required to notify the ATO via the myGov website to facilitate repayments. For more information about HELP, go to

Press release from Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Federal  Minister for Education and Training

1 January, 2016

Authorities swoop on 60 tonnes of Victorian baby formula bound for China

Rising demand meets inelasticity of supply. It should be a good export opportunity but you cannot suddenly get cows to give more milk.  In a free market most of the formula would go to China -- with Australian mothers having to use their inbuilt baby food or make up their own formula from fresh bovine milk.  My mother did both

AUTHORITIES have seized 60 tonnes of baby formula and milk product bound for China.

A Herald Sun investigation uncovered details of the baby formula seizure, as supermarkets continued to ration purchases for Victorian parents.

People have been buying infant formula by the car-boot load from a factory in Clayton to send overseas. They are loading their cars with boxes of popular brands Aptamil and a2 Platinum from the Clayton warehouse.

A warehouse employee confirmed they were selling it on to contacts in Asia. "We have a company and we sell the product," she said. "They (the baby formula) are going overseas."

A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce confirmed the Department of Agriculture stopped a major shipment from Melbourne in November.

The Department of Agriculture did not reveal why the shipment of formula and milk powder was seized, because of the continuing investigation.

"The department is investigating a number of recent allegations about noncompliant consignments being exported, but is not able to comment further at this time," a departmental spokesman said.

"The role of this department is to ensure . goods exported comply with the (law), meet foreign government requirements, (and) are safe and accurately described."

Rowville resident Yvonne Skroubelos, who has been feeding nine-month-old son Dion the popular Aptamil formula, said customers should not buy it to export overseas.

"For my next child I want to make sure there is not going to be a shortage, and I think it is a major concern for any mother," she said. "The baby formula is for mothers to buy in Australia. "It's not fair that they are able to ship it off to China."

Demand in China for Australian infant formula has skyrocketed since 2008, when melamine contamination in milk in China saw six babies die and 300,000 fall ill.

A tin of Bellamy's Organic, which sells for $25 in Australia, can cost $84 in Shanghai.


Turnbull flags sweeping reform following union royal commission as unions urge caution

The Turnbull government has flagged sweeping new laws to tackle trade union corruption after a Royal Commission found the labour movement was riddled with "widespread" and "deep-seated" misconduct.

The final report by Commissioner Dyson Heydon referred key union figures including the disgraced former Health Services Union Kathy Jackson and Victorian Labor MP Cesar Melhem to prosecutors for possible charges. But it made no adverse finding against Labor leader Bill Shorten, who was head of the Australian Workers Union when it committed a series of breaches detailed in the report.

Labor and the unions swiftly dismissed the report as a political witch-hunt, saying that the cases highlighted by Mr Heydon were isolated and did not represent systemic problems among union officials.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash strongly indicated that many of the report's 79 recommendations would be adopted by the government in the form of new laws, amounting to a significant tightening of union regulation.

"If its recommendations are substantially adopted, if the lessons of this report are learned, the trade union movement will emerge much stronger," Mr Turnbull said.

Describing the report as a "watershed moment" for unions, Mr Turnbull vowed to make union reform an election issue if the Senate blocks new laws.

Senator Cash said the report showed that "the existing laws … are not adequately protecting the hard-working union members and they have not been effective in dealing with and stamping out the blatant misconduct and alleged criminal behaviour".

Opposition workplace spokesman Brendan O'Connor said criminal behaviour by unions should be dealt with by police. The Commission by contrast was a "politically motivated witch-hunt", he said, pointing to Mr Heydon's acceptance of an invitation to speak at a Liberal Party function – a revelation that led to unsuccessful calls for his resignation.

Labor has proposed its own union governance reforms but the Coalition says these are too weak.

In a blistering assessment of the state of unions, Mr Heydon – a former High Court judge - concluded the Commission had likely uncovered only the most egregious examples of misconduct.

"These aberrations cannot be regarded as isolated. They are not the work of a few rogue unions, or a few rogue officials. The misconduct exhibits great variety. It is widespread. It is deep-seated.  "It would be utterly naïve to think that what has been uncovered is anything other than the small tip of an enormous iceberg."

He said it was clear there was room in the union movement for "louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers".

Mr Turnbull backed this view, saying that while most union officials worked "honestly and capably" for their members, the misconduct found in the report was "not a case of a few rotten apples spoiling the whole barrel".

Mr Heydon's report refers 45 individuals for possible criminal charges or civil action, including the AWU, which it accuses of a raft of breaches including receiving tens of thousands of dollars in secret payments from companies while not pursuing the best deals for members in workplace negotiations.

A number of companies have also been referred to police and prosecutors, including engineering firm John Holland Pty Ltd, food grower Chiquita Mushrooms and Winslow Constructors Pty Ltd.

As well as calling for a new union watchdog, Mr Heydon recommended tougher penalties for misconduct by officials, stricter rules about financial disclosure by unions and new civil penalties for unions that don't keep proper records.

As a starting point, the government will introduce a toughened bill to create a union watchdog in the style of the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, as recommended by Mr Heydon. A previous, weaker version of that law has already twice been rejected by the Senate.

It will also bring back a bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission to oversee workplace relations in the building industry. The Senate has already rejected that bill once.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Kate Carnell said the commission uncovered "serious issues endemic in the trade union movement that warrant a serious response from politicians from both sides and on the crossbenches".

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said rejected claims of "widespread unlawful corrupt conduct within the union movement".

He said unions were willing to discuss reform with the government but called on Mr Turnbull to "allow some time and space for these discussions to occur, and not try and rush through any kind of legislation in the first part of next year".

He said if there was an "enormous iceberg" of misconduct then a 21-month Royal Commission that grilled 505 witnesses should have been able to find it.


Trade union royal commission: Rogue CFMEU officials placed on hit list

ROGUE CFMEU officials have been put on a hit list because of systematic violence, threats and corrupt behaviour.

Royal commissioner Dyson Heydon outlined a bold plan in his final report to attack the heads of militant unions.

In an unprecedented move, Mr Heydon stopped short of banning entire unions, instead recommending that officials found to have engaged in unlawful behaviour be stripped of their roles.

"Cancelling the registration of the whole union may have a disproportionate effect on union members who have not been involved in illegal ­activity," the report found.

"To deal with the particular cultural problems within the CFMEU, Commonwealth and state Parliaments could enact legislation prohibiting a class of CFMEU officials determined by the Parliament from holding any office in any registered organisation or branch for a specified period of time."

Mr Heydon made his recommendations based on a litany of allegations of bad behaviour from the CFMEU heard by the commission.

The final report details "widespread" misconduct within the CFMEU and other unions including the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Health Services Union (HSU).

Mr Heydon said the union probe had uncovered evidence of unlawful conduct within the CFMEU including physical and verbal violence, threats, secondary boycotts and contempt of court.

He recommended Parliament consider expelling officials that are not "fit and proper persons" from holding office in any registered organisation or branch.

The report comes just weeks after Victorian CFMEU officials John Setka and Shaun Reardon were charged with blackmail by the royal commission taskforce. Yesterday’s report referred several officials from other state branches for investigation.

CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said the proposal to ban some union bosses set a dangerous precedent.  "There is nothing surprising in the report, which is in lock-step with the Liberal Party on ­industrial relations," he said.  "The union has no time for corruption. When we have had corruption in our ranks we have dealt with it and we will continue to deal with it."

In NSW, construction industry figure George Alex and CFMEU official Darren Greenfield were also referred to police for investigation.

Commissioner Heydon found there was a "substantial body of documentary evidence" including text messages which exposed dodgy payments, bribes and perjury.

A charity associated with the CFMEU in the ACT was also referred to authorities and may lose its status over allegations it diverted funds for non-charitable use.

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie lashed out at the Government and called for the union to be abolished.  "Two-thirds of the inquiry’s energy was focused on allegations of misconduct, corruption or criminal behaviour by members of the CFMEU," she said. "I can’t understand why Liberal Party members ... continue to oppose my call for the CFMEU to be deregistered?"


Australian Muslims sent $500,000 to Indonesia to fund terrorism

A terror financing investigation has uncovered about $500,000 in Australian cash sent to Indonesia to arm and train extremists and support their families.

A joint investigation between Australia and Indonesia found the cash was raised and transferred by an Australian man identified only by the letter L.

The money was collected from donors in Australia — some of whom may not have been aware their money was to be used to fund terrorism.

The details were confirmed by Agus Santoso, the deputy chairman of Indonesia's financial tracking watchdog, the Financial Transactions and Analysis Centre (PPATK).

"The one in Australia is a local Australian, not an Indonesian who is living in Australia and sending money to Indonesia," he said.

"The money was used for: one, to recruit people; secondly to fund training; thirdly to buy weapons, and the fourth is to give livelihood for the terrorists' family because the money goes to support the families of the terrorists who died."

Around 200 Indonesians are believed to have gone to Syria to fight for the Islamic State militant group, with at least 60 of them killed.

PPATK chairman Muhammad Yusuf said some of the Australians who donated may not have realised their cash was going to fund extremism.

"It could be when it happened, from the perspective of the donor; it was meant for charity not for terrorism," he said.

Indonesia says the Australian cash may have been used to support local terror networks, such as the group of alleged extremists arrested a week ago.

So far, 11 people have been arrested across Java and accused of plotting attacks on the nation's minority Shiite community, Christians and possibly even westerners.

They were arrested by special forces from Indonesia's anti-terror body Densus 88.

Mr Santoso said information from Australia's counter-terrorism financing watchdog AusTrac was crucial to uncovering these Indonesian networks.

"We really appreciate the cooperation with AusTrac and the AFP. It revealed the terrorism network between Australia and Indonesia, the network has been revealed, and we have handed over the case to Densus 88 to follow up," he said.

Indonesia is still on a state of heightened terror alert, with particularly tight security for the nation's New Year celebrations.


Almost 50 charged over street fights in Aboriginal community

Almost 50 people are facing criminal charges after several street fights broke out in a far north Queensland community.

Extra police were sent to Aurukun on western Cape York amid rising tensions between families and clan groups in the town of 1200.

People threw pieces of wood and steel during several street fights on Monday, damaging businesses, homes and a patrol car, police say.

A shop was burgled and two cars stolen. However, no one was injured.

Nine people faced Cairns Magistrates Court via videolink on Wednesday and a further 40 are due to face court in the coming days, ABC radio reports.

Police say tensions have since eased in the community.


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."


Alternative (Monthly) archives for this blog


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
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Selected reading



Rightism defined
Leftist Churches
Leftist Racism
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
What are Leftists
Psychology of Left
Status Quo?
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism

Van Hiel
Pyszczynski et al.

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