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, 2018

Melbourne residents endure 15-hour blackouts

Leftist Premier Daniels denies that there was a shortfall of supply and says it was all due to fuses blowing at local substations.  If so, why were the tripswitches not immedicately turned back on?  Answer:  Because they could not be lest they bring down the whole grid.  As Robert Gottliebson noted: 

"It’s true part of the outages were caused by fuses, but the outages were too widespread. It’s another smokescreen".

Those outages were what enabled the Vic government to say that there was sufficient supply for the demand.  Melbourne's highest ever electricty demand was in 2009.  Were there any blackouts then?  I can find no mention of it.  The big Hazelwood generator was operating then

No power, no airconditioning, record temperatures. That was the harsh reality faced by tens of thousands of Melburnians on Sunday night as the mercury soared and the power grid crumbled.

After tossing and turning throughout the night, many residents were throwing out a fridge-load of spoiled food come Monday morning.

But for others it was much more serious. The elderly and ill, especially those relying on life-saving machinery, were the most vulnerable.

Highett resident Julie Kempton, 74, was affected by the outage, but she was more concerned for her bedridden neighbour, who is in palliative care. "They had no power or cooling for her … it’s appalling,” Ms Kempton said. “I’m annoyed that some people who really need to be kept cool and needed power didn’t have it through no fault of their own.”

Huge electricity demand from air-conditioners put unprecedented strain on the network, energy providers said.

The demand resulted in fuses at suburban substations blowing out, cutting power to tens of thousands of homes.

For 64-year-old Nel Lloga, of Hampton, it was a particularly difficult night. Ms Lloga’s 70-year-old husband is a stroke victim and the couple were without power for 15 hours. Even after their power was restored, the air-conditioning wouldn’t work on Monday afternoon. “I have heart problems, I couldn’t breathe,” Ms Lloga said. “If you come in my place it’s like a sauna.”

The couple sought refuge at their daughter’s home on Monday morning to escape the heat. “It’s terrible, they must do something,” she said.

Many Highett residents were without power for 15 hours. Tom Henry was among them. The 52-year-old lost power at 5pm on Sunday just as the temperature hit 37 degrees.

He was told by energy provider United Energy that the lights and air-conditioning would be back within four to five hours. But that wasn’t to be. “We rang United Energy and I sat on hold for 40 minutes then gave up and thought they’re not going to do anything," he said. “Nobody slept particularly well. You get up in the morning and kind of wonder what time it is.”

Jack Zeng, 52, owner of Wishbones Charcoal Chicken and Pasta in Hampton East, was in the middle of peak-hour service when the lights went out at 7pm in his shop. As the industrial cooking fans in the kitchen went off, the kitchen filled with smoke. “Everything went off,” he said. “It was extremely hot, very smoky and very dark.”

Another local business owner, Justin Derrick, said it wasn’t the first time the heat had affected the power grid in the area.  “Highett has just gone crazy in the last four or five years,” he said.

Although his three businesses were not affected, he said his young children struggled most with the lack of entertainment.

“It’s an education for them. Even the 2½-year-old was running around saying, ‘What are we going to do?’ ” “I was teaching my six-year-old the reality of the real world.”

Jo Pratt, 44, of Highett, said her internet had not be restored, even though the power had. “We lost all internet based on the fact that we have NBN and we’ve lost home phones,” she said.  “It’s frustrating.”


Vegan protesters storm steak restaurant in Melbourne's CBD

Authoritarian bigots want everyone else to conform to their beliefs.  Stalinism is alive and well

Dozens of vegan protesters stormed a Melbourne steak restaurant on Saturday evening, shouting chants at diners using megaphones.

Thirty-five protesters from activist groups 'Direct Action Everywhere - DxE - Melbourne' and 'Melbourne Cow Save' marched into Rare Steakhouse on King Street in the CBD holding graphic posters of cows in slaughterhouses with slogans such as “Steak = violence, death and suffering”.

Footage filmed of the incident show an elderly woman dining at the restaurant slapping away a protestor’s poster, while other diners continued to eat their meals, unperturbed by the scene unfolding around them.

“This is what happened to your steak, this is what happened before their flesh ended up on your plate," one protester can be heard shouting into a megaphone.

Rare Steakhouse's media and marketing manager, Chrissy Symeonakis, said the protesters arrived at the restaurant at about 6.30pm.

"It was just a regular Saturday evening, and we were looking forward to it being a busy night, when a group of protesters marched into the venue and located themselves in the upstairs and downstairs dining areas," Ms Symeonakis said.

"They were holding placards and banners and proceeded to chant and yell about consuming meat. They were filming our diners as they were eating and yelling into their megaphones."

Ms Symeonakis said reactions of customers and staff at the restaurant ranged from "shock to total bemusement".

"Our senior staff members identified who they thought were the ringleaders of the group and approached them and asked them to please leave because they were obviously unwelcome and entered the restaurant with the purpose of disrupting the peace," she said.

"When they refused to leave, the police were called."

Joanne Lee, a member of Direct Action Everywhere - DxE - Melbourne, said the group’s aim was to “force animal rights into the public consciousness through non-violent direct action”.

“The reason for going there was because passively asking for the exploitation and the suffering and death of animals to stop isn’t liberating them quick enough,” she said.

Ms Lee said they chose the restaurant because there were two levels and “numbers are pretty good on a Saturday”.

She admitted some diners were “pretty pissed off" by the protest. “One table was abusive and yelling at us, the other tables were just quietly looking,” she said.

While a number of the Melbourne Cow Save Facebook page supporters lauded the protest as "courageous", the group’s tactics have been met with opposition from other vegans online.  “I'm vegan and honestly I cringe so hard at stuff like this,” said user ‘epicpillowcase’ on Reddit Melbourne.

Ms Lee acknowledged that other vegan groups might be critical of such a confrontational approach. “We believe that in order to create change in our society we need to challenge our current belief systems and we need to force people to pick a side,” she said. “If they were selling the bodies of dead puppies in that place and we disrupted it, we’d be getting hailed heroes.”

Ms Symeonakis said new protocols had been put in place should another similar incident occur. "I understand that they absolutely come from a place of passion, but I think they could have gone about getting their message out there in a better way," she said.

In an unexpected twist, Ms Symeonakis said there had been a silver lining. "Our social media followers and 'likes' on Facebook have gone through the roof since the video began circulating online," she said.

Police confirmed that they were called to the restaurant about 7pm. “Protesters left the premises peacefully when asked to do so by the managers of the venue,” a spokeswoman for Victoria Police said. “There were no arrests and no injuries.”


Top Australian University introduces mandatory sexual harassment course using stick figures to tell students they can't kiss or touch each other without an 'ENTHUSIASTIC yes'

Feminist rubbish.  One doubts that the authors have ever been kissed

Students have slammed a mandatory sexual harassment course telling them they cannot kiss or touch without an 'enthusiastic yes'.

All commencing students at the University of Sydney must take the module, originally developed at Oxford University by London-based company Epigeum.

The university's website says the course is to help students understand consensual sexual activity, which it defines as including kissing and touching.

'It is the university's way of saying, "we've done our part, we look good", but it's not actually going to fix anything,' honours student Claudia Reed told the Daily Telegraph.

Medical Science student Eleni Vellios said asking explicitly for an 'enthusiastic "yes"' before kissing someone was silly and impractical.

'It's a bit unrealistic, no one is going to ask for them to spell it out and ask for it,' she said.

Ms Reed agreed, saying they course will not help or change the minds of anyone who needs to be taught what consent is.

The compulsory survey was a 'tick-a-box exercise', she added and said the university should be more focused on fixing the problems within its residential colleges. 

The University of Sydney states: 'Whenever you participate in any sexual activity, everyone involved needs to give their full consent.

'This means that everyone is entirely comfortable with the situation and freely able to agree, give permission or say "yes" to participating in a sexual activity (this includes kissing and touching). 'Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault and is always a crime.'

'Consent is never ambiguous. If someone is not able to offer an enthusiastic "yes" to questions about sexual activity you do not have consent.'

'Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect, And Positive Intervention' uses stick figures to illustrate the importance of consent and the impact that drugs and alcohol have on consent.

The course states that 'everyone must have explicit permission from the person they intend to make contact with' before going ahead.  

A university spokesperson confirmed that students would be forced to keep attempting the course until they got every section correct.

'The Consent Matters module is mandatory for all new students enrolling at the University of Sydney from 2018 onwards,' she said.


Labor would push up health insurance costs for the poor

Government hospitals are enough for them.  Don't want them to be getting too independent and above their station!

Health Minister Greg Hunt has seized on Bill Shorten’s failure to rule out slashing the private health insurance rebate, warning that Labor policy will make premiums unaffordable for people on middle and low incomes.

The Opposition Leader told the National Press Club today that Labor was working through “a number of options” to reform the private health insurance system, and did not rule out changes to the rebate.

“Twice, Mr Shorten refused to rule out slashing or abolishing the private health insurance rebate,” Mr Hunt said.

“This rebate provides $6.4 billion to families and pensioners, to lower-income earners. It’s means-tested. It’s for those who otherwise would not be able to afford private health insurance.

“On the very day that Mr Shorten declared that he supported reducing pressures on the cost of living he announced a policy to increase pressure on cost of living.

“He announced a policy which would drive up the cost of private health insurance, which would put it beyond the reach of so many pensioners, so many families.”

Mr Hunt said today’s comments from Mr Shorten came on top of Labor’s existing policy of freezing the private health insurance rebate, which Deloitte modelling had should would increase low-cost basic premiums by 16 per cent.

“Talking with Private Healthcare Australia, they made it absolutely clear that with the 300,000 Australian pensioners on private health insurance, when you put the two elements of slashing the private health insurance rebate and a 16 per cent increase in the cost of basic policies together, in some cases pensioners would face a 50 per cent slug in their private health insurance. That’s unacceptable, it’s unsustainable,’’ Mr Hunt said.

“It would put private health insurance beyond the reach of pensioners and it would have a devastating impact on the Australian health system, driving up public waiting lists as people were no longer able to afford private health insurance and no longer able to afford to be part of the private hospital system.”

Mr Shorten said he was putting “big end multinational” health insurance companies “on notice”. “Business as usual does not work if you are getting a $6bn subsidy from the taxpayer yet making record profits and the prices and exclusions are going up. That is a problem,” he said.

“They are not the sole player in the system; it’s complex, but I’m committed to consultation, working through the issues but for private health insurance, I want to save it. “You won’t save it by increasing the prices. They’ve gone up a thousand bucks since the Liberals went in.”

Asked whether he would threaten to withdraw the government subsidy, Mr Shorten said he would talk to the insurers.  “Business as usual is not cutting it,” he said.

Pressed again, Mr Shorten said: “Let’s not put the cart before the horse. “I think the fees have increased too much. I think premium rises are too high.

“There needs to be better monitoring of exclusions. This has to be done with the industry as well as talking about it. I’m sure we can get a better deal.”


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

30 January, 2018

Limits on Australian political donations

Crackdown on donations would destroy activist groups, GetUp says. The article below is from the Left so is unlikely to be the whole story but if it is right, it would seem that the government is on the right track.  Political agitators often support destructive policies and spoil the scene for people with real grievances and problems.

And the idea that an attack on them is an attack on "democracy" is another example of Leftist Newspeak (in Orwell's terms).  The whole point of these groups, particularly when they take to the streets, is to rule from the streets, not the ballot box.  The recent homosexual marriage "debate" in Australia showed how coercive and thuggish  these groups can be

And it is clearly the Left who abuse the opportunity to demonstrate.  The "Occupy Wall St" demonstrations of 2011 in NYC were very aggressive and trashed the location whereas the conservative "Tea Party" demonstrations were polite, civil and picked up their rubbish after themselves.

In my home State of Queensland under the Bjelke-Peterson administration of the '60s, Leftist demonstrations were heavily limited by the police, resulting in quite civil Leftist behaviour, when a demonstration was allowed.  I know.  I was there.  I think that should be the general pattern.  Leftist hate-fests should be carefully monitored and cancelled when they become aggressive

Leftists are rarely content with free speech. They want freedom to coerce and intimidate as well.  Non-coercive, non-obstructive, non-abusive demonstrations should of course always be allowed but a Leftist demonstration rarely even starts out that way, let alone ending that way

The activist group GetUp has criticised the Turnbull government’s proposed crackdown on foreign political donations, saying its legislation will destroy the revenue streams of grassroots groups and minor parties.

In a submission to the joint standing committee on electoral matters, which is holding an inquiry into election funding and disclosure, GetUp says the government’s bill contains an extraordinary requirement for not-for-profit organisations to obtain a statutory declaration from donors who give just $4.80 a week to political campaign organisations such as GetUp.
Fear 'rushed' foreign influence bill will harm freedom of speech
Read more

It says according to Sections 302L and 302P of the bill’s explanatory memorandum, buried on pages 43 and 45, the government makes it clear that if individuals want to donate $250 or more annually to an organisation they will have to declare they are an “allowable donor” and have a justice of the peace or a police officer witness their declaration.

GetUp says that would require organisations to monitor cumulative small donations in real time and, once the annual $250 ceiling is met, to refuse further donations until a statutory declaration is obtained.

Failure to comply with the law would result in 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of $210,000.

“This hidden clause reveals the federal government’s true intention is to shut down anyone it doesn’t agree with,” Paul Oosting, GetUp national director, told Guardian Australia. “This will destroy grassroots groups’ and minor parties’ revenue streams.

“If brought into law, this would starve GetUp of more than half of our people-powered funding, essentially halting our ability to call on the government to save the Great Barrier Reef, demand corporations contribute a fair share to our local schools and hospitals and treat people seeking asylum in Australia humanely.

“You can get a passport or buy a house without a stat dec but now if you want to stand up for a cause you believe in you’ve got to line up at a police station and get a formal document signed and witnessed. It’s absurd.

“This bill serves the interests of the Turnbull government and no one else. It doesn’t stop the likes of Gina Rinehart or the Adani Corporation from cutting huge cheques to their favourite politicians but it forces everyday people to jump through absurd hoops just to have their say in our democracy.”

GetUp’s submission says the government’s bill is ostensibly a response to a series of scandals surrounding foreign funding of politicians and political parties, and the potential for undue foreign influence, but those scandals would not have played out any differently if the bill were enacted into law.

“The ‘foreign donors; namechecked in the media – Chau Chak Wing and Huang Xiang Mo – both hold or held Australian citizenship or residency at the time the donations were made and therefore would be allowable donors under the provisions of the bill,” GetUp’s submission says.

“Meanwhile, the bill not only prohibits many not-for-profits from receiving international philanthropy entirely, but imposes a large administrative burden for them to confirm the identity of all donors – as opposed to, for example, simply determining whether the donation came from a foreign bank account.

“This represents a near-impossible feat for community organisations that depend on the small donations of thousands of everyday people.

“There is also a reasonable concern that banning donations by reference to a person’s identity in the way currently drafted is unconstitutional. It is clear the Bill is not serving the interests of the Australian public, concerned about the recent slew of foreign donations scandals – which raises the question, what or whose interests does it serve?

“One clue is in what the bill omits. It misses by far the biggest risk for ‘foreign influence’ in Australia’s democracy: large multinational corporations.”

The Minerals Council of Australia, one of Australia’s biggest corporate lobby groups, has conceded that it makes political donations and pays to attend fundraisers to gain access to members of parliament.

In a submission to a separate Senate inquiry, the MCA said it made donations amounting to $33,250 in 2015-16 and $57,345 in 2016-17, which were declared to the Australian Electoral Commission. The majority in both years went to the Liberal or National parties and associated entities.

The frank admission – which reflects a commonly held belief about the role of money in politics – stuck out because major corporations and lobby groups by and large say they make donations to support democracy.


Aboriginal activist called a ‘hypocritical hater’

Hate is what Leftists do

An Aboriginal activist who called for Australia to be burnt to the ground during an incendiary ­address to an “invasion day” rally has been described as a hypocritical hater and faces calls to be dumped from her leadership role with a government-funded body.

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett said the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) ­organiser Dtarneen Onus-Williams should step down as an executive member of Victoria’s Koorie Youth Council for a series of angry, divisive comments.

At a rally outside Victoria’s Parliament House on Friday, Ms Onus-Williams, 24, told the crowd: “We have not organised this to change the date. We have organised this to abolish Australia Day because f..k Australia. F..k Australia, I hope it f..king burns to the ground.’’ She later stood by the comments, saying that although they were intended metaphorically rather than literally, she wanted “everything, all the governments to fall apart”.

Mr Kennett said that while the young activist was entitled to speak her mind and to say what she wanted, it was inappropriate for her to continue with the state government-funded Koorie Youth Council and to sit on any government-funded body.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that she continues to serve on the council,” Mr Kennett said.

“This is something that’s meant to advance the understanding and appreciation of all things indigenous and in saying what she has, she’s shown that she’s totally incompatible with that. I think it’s a case of ‘thank you, but goodbye’.”

Indigenous leader and former ALP president Warren Mundine said Ms Onus-Williams was a hypocrite and a “hater” for working with the government on state-funded programs while openly attacking the government and causing division in other forums.

Mr Mundine said the episode illustrated that governments across the country had to rethink which indigenous groups and panels they funded and more carefully scrutinise where the funds are spent.

“The serious question here is why is the government funding these groups and these organisations when the people involved are haters who have no scruples about taking taxpayers’ money and then spitting in their faces,” Mr Mundine told The Australian.

“And governments only have themselves to blame for wasting taxpayers’ money, because there’s no real rigour in appointments and no questions about where this money is going. And then you see money going into causes and demonstrations where people are racially abusing and threatening people — it has to change.”

The Victorian Koorie [Aboriginal] Youth Council has received almost $2 million from the state government since 2012, with the Andrews government providing $545,342 for 2016-17. The Koorie Youth Council yesterday said it did not support Ms Onus-Williams’s comments. In a statement, it stressed that Ms Onus-Williams was a volunteer with the organisation and had been sharing her personal opinion — rather than the council’s — at the rally.

The council said it had played no role in the organisation of the rally, nor provided any funding for external activities. “Media reports associating KYC with the march are misleading and unfounded,” a statement said.

Mr Mundine said the Victorian government should strip the youth council of funding following Ms Onus-Williams’s comments. He said the youth council had promoted the rally several times on its Twitter feed.

Mr Mundine’s comments angered indigenous academic Marcia Langton, who hit back. “With youth detention rates at a high, the overwhelmingly good work of the KYC needs our support,” she said. “Think about consequences of your demand to defend/shut down one of the few voices for young indigenous people.”

Ms Onus-Williams could not be reached for comment yesterday. She deleted her Facebook ­account after the rally.


The Never-ending Battles of the Coral Sea

Viv Forbes

For at least 50 years Australian taxpayers and other innocents have supported a parasitic industry in academia, bureaucracy, law, media and the tax-exempt Green Alarm “Charities”, all studying, regulating, inspecting and writing about yet another “imminent threat to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.”

It has become the never-ending battle of the Coral Sea.

The threats change, but there is always a doomsday forecast – Crown-of-Thorns, oil drilling, fishing, cane farming, coastal shipping, global warming, ocean acidity, coral bleaching, port dredging, chemical and fertiliser runoff, coal transport, river sediments, loss of world heritage status etc. Every recycled scare, magnified by the media and parroted by politicians, generates more income for the alarm industry, usually at the expense of taxpayers, consumers or local industries.

The reality is that sea creatures would starve in pure water – all marine life needs nutrients, salts and minerals. These come from other life forms, from decomposing rocks and organic matter carried to the sea by rivers, from dissolving atmospheric gases, or from delta and shelf sediments stirred up by floods, cyclones, dredging or coastal shipping. No one supports over-use of toxic man-made chemicals, but well-run cane, cattle and coal companies can co-exist with corals.

Corals first appeared 500 million years ago and have proven to be one of Earth’s great survivors. They outlasted the Carboniferous Forests, the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions, the dinosaurs, the mammoths, the Neanderthals and the Pleistocene cycles of ice age and warming. They thrive in warm tropical water, cluster around hot volcanic fumaroles and survive massive petroleum spills, natural oil seeps, tidal waves and volcanic dust. They have even recolonised the Montebello Island waters devastated by atomic bomb testing in the 1950’s.

The ENSO oscillation of blobs of warm Pacific water which caused recent coral bleaching can be identified in historical records for at least 400 years. Corals have survived El Nino warmings for thousands of years and they will probably outlast Homo Alarmism as Earth proceeds into the next glacial epoch.

Corals do not rely on computer models of global temperature to advise them – they read the sea level thermometer which falls and rises as the great ice sheets come and go.

In the warming phase like the one just ending, ice melts, sea levels rise and the reef that houses the corals may get drowned. Corals have two choices – build their reef higher or just float south/inshore and build a new reef (like the Great Barrier Reef) in shallower, cooler water. When islands sink beneath rising oceans, corals may build their own coral atolls as fast as the water rises.

Then when the cold era returns, ice sheets grow, sea levels fall, and the warm era coral reefs (like the Great Barrier Reef) get stranded on the new beaches and coastal plains. Usually the process is slow enough to allow the coral polyps to float into deeper warmer water closer to the equator and build another reef.

This eminently sensible policy of “move when you have to” has proved a successful survival policy for the corals for 500 million years.

Humans should copy the corals – “forget the computer climate models but watch real data like actual sea levels and . . . move when you have to.”


Absurd ‘modest Australian fashion’

How did you dress your little girl for school this morning? Shorts, and a short-sleeved polo?

A sunhat, to wear outdoors?

And what about your good self, what do you have on? A cute off-the-shoulder number? A shirt, with the second button undone?

Do you think that makes you a little immodest? Synonyms for which include immoral, and indecent?

I ask because Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, otherwise known as DFAT, or else as Australia’s face to the world, has this week launched a thrilling new exhibition, in both Malaysia and Indonesia, showcasing, wait for it, “modest Australian fashion.”

In case you don’t know what that is, it’s skirts to the floor, ladies.

It is full body suits at the beach. It’s covering up your hair, and draping yourself in heavy fabric as you go about your day.

When did this become something the Australian government wanted to promote, and celebrate?

In 2018, apparently.

A media release announcing the exhibition, titled “Fashion Diplomacy in Action: Showcasing Australian Modest Fashion” went up on DFAT’s social media pages on 22 January. You can find it here.

It starts in a cheery way: “You may not have even heard of the modest fashion market but it is booming.”

Yes, it is. Depressingly, it is booming, as the corruption of Sharia in the name of Islam, and its attendant misogyny, expands around the globe, sweeping all before it in an orgy of violence and terror.

But hey, what a great opportunity to introduce “Australian modest fashion” to the world!

Just curious, though, if you’re not wearing modest fashion, as defined by DFAT, what kind of fashion are you wearing today?

Immodest fashion? Because you haven’t got a pair of leggings under your calf-length skirts, and a turtle-neck under your blouse?

This is how Australian government officials describe us now?

Apparently so, because the blog helpfully explains: “Modest fashion is clothing that conceals rather than accentuating the body — and it is quickly increasing in popularity.”

Popularity. What an interesting word to choose.

The post goes on: “The emerging modest fashion market can help advance Australia’s public diplomacy objectives.”

How so, exactly? The post is illustrated with glamour shots of women covered head to toe, as if this is the ideal.

Australian women have done very well without being told what they can wear, from day dot. And that is because Australian womanhood is robust, hands-on, shoulder to the wheel. It is pioneers on outback stations, and it is women, and indeed teenage girls, sailing solo around the globe. It’s walking across the continent with your own fleet of camels, and flying your own damn plane.

It is women like Annette Kellerman, who in 1905 held all the world’s records for swimming, including the coveted 26-miles from Dover to Ramsgate.

It’s Joan Mary Barry, who at the age of 25 in 1961, was hauled before the Waverley Court for wearing a bikini on Bondi Beach, and for telling the lifeguard who tried to arrest her that he was a fool.

Obviously it’s possible to be both Australian and to wear the veil. But the idea that by choosing not to cover up — heading to the beach in a pair of bathers, or hitching up your shorts for climbing trees — makes one immodest … that’s something we need to push back against, as hard and as fast as we can.

The giddy tone of the DFAT post truly defies belief: “We first came across the exhibition (of modest clothing) in 2016 when we were researching public diplomacy activities for the coming financial year,” it says.

“We thought the exhibition would resonate well with Malaysians and we were right — a comment we heard from many was ‘wow, we didn’t realise Australia had a modest fashion scene.”

We’re meant to feel thrilled about that?

How about we tell them: Australia is an enlightened country, where women can dress as they please?

How about we immediately divert the funds from the “modest fashion exhibition” toward programs for breaking up child marriages, sending girls to school, and clamping down on genital mutilation?

DFAT may think it is a you-beaut idea to “support” the veiling of women in Malaysia and Indonesia, but in case they missed the cable, women across the Middle East are currently battling for the right not to wear the hijab.

Those women are disappearing from street corners.

They’re being thrown into prison.

How about we “support” them in their “immodest” desires? Because it’s getting harder to live without the scarf in Malaysia, and in places like Aceh, in Indonesia. Religious police are roaming the streets, and breaking into private homes, and arresting women for hanging out with chaps who aren’t their husbands.

Why are we supporting the idea that dressing freely is immodest? That is our government — our money, in our secular democracy — in the service of misogyny. It’s not fashion forward. It is fashion backward, and plain grotesque.


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

29 January, 2018

Australia’s workplace relations system is broken

Australia’s workplace relations system is broken — it is not optimally serving the interests of employees, employers, the public or our national economy.

The rail dispute in Sydney this week is an example of just one small part of the broader problem with a system that is no longer fit for purpose.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers initiated the legal case on Tuesday afternoon to stop the industrial action as we were concerned that no one else had, and time was running out. The Government joined in on Wednesday.

We, at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, took this legal action because we believe the industrial action by the unions was not in the public interest and was excessive. The community should not be exposed to enormous disruption and economic loss simply because two warring parties cannot agree.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers had legal standing in this dispute as, under the legislation, it was heavily impacted by the industrial action. More than 50% of our staff rely on trains to get to work. There would have been a considerable loss of revenue, cash flow and productivity to the firm if the strike went ahead.

We were justifiably concerned for the impact on many commuters and that many businesses across the State would be similarly affected to ours. We also genuinely apprehended that the industrial action was not legally protected, and that even the overtime bans would expose rail employees and their unions to class action style litigation for tens of millions of dollars. As concerned citizens we felt it incumbent upon us to attempt to stop all of those outcomes.

Rail unions and their members had been provoked by their employer and had legitimate bargaining issues to pursue. The only effective bargaining leverage the current system gave them was to threaten — and take — disruptive industrial action.

The implementation of overtime bans and the threat of a whole-day strike achieved its intended aim of prompting a better offer from the NSW Government. But the overtime ban caused misery for hundreds of thousands of Sydneysiders on Thursday. Monday’s strike would have caused too much harm to innocent bystanders and the economy. So the only option left was to seek legal orders stopping the industrial action.

An enterprise bargaining system reliant on such industrial action leverage is old-fashioned and inefficient.
The strike was not in the public interest.

Millions of workers do not have any such leverage — they have bills to pay, families to feed and skyrocketing expenses. They resolve their disputes directly with their employers without having the ability to disrupt the lives of millions. So, effective leverage is missing for employees at either end of the spectrum. Employers also crave a fair go in a system which lacks adequate flexibility.

There is a need for a reformed system which respects workplace rights, and the need for flexibility for workers, business and the public. That system should be built totally on the Australian notion of the fair go all round.

Such a system should redress the imbalance between employees and employers via an improved system of good faith bargaining, conciliation and fair-go-all-round arbitration — without flow on abuses and the excesses of the past.

We currently have totally different modes of legislation to address each of workplace relations, human rights and workplace health and safety — these should be streamlined into one integrated system.

We need to breathe new life into employee and employer representation — for without it access to justice in our country is an expensive farce.

The major political parties have got to stop playing politically-expedient football with the system — kicking partisan, outmoded models back and forth across the political spectrum.

There is a need for genuine national consultation on a middle path for our workplace relations system — which is currently in a politically frozen abyss.

That new system should provide a principled mooring respecting the rights and responsibilities of workers, business and the public interest and should not be built on political expediency.

I write these comments as we celebrate the Australia Day weekend as part of a genuine call for reform, and in an entirely personal capacity.


David Leyonhjelm attacks cultural awareness training as ‘racism’

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm has accused the federal government of racism after the staff of all federal politicians were offered special “cultural awareness” training to help them interact with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Ministerial and parliamentary services employees were offered two hours’ training designed to provide “a better understanding of indigenous Australians in your workplace, social environments and the community in which you live and work”.

“Whether you are delivering services specifically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, working with indigenous colleagues, working with the general public or you just want to increase your understanding about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you live with, this course is of benefit to you,” an email to staff said.

The course includes an overview of indigenous Australian history; the modern impact; understanding common terms and indigenous culture; protocols, including awareness of sensitive issues affecting indigenous people, and indigenous people in today’s workplace.

Senator Leyonhjelm said although the training was not compulsory, he was opposed to the use of taxpayers’ money to deliver it. “It’s racist because it favours a particular race (indigenous Australians) over another race (all other Australian races),” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“It infers other Australians require training to become culturally aware of indigenous Australians, whereas we don’t require training to be aware of other cultures (Swedish barons, for example).”

He said such training was “misguided”. “I went to school with Aborigines and we mostly got on fine,” he said. “When people choose to be racists, cultural training won’t help.”

Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said: “This kind of tokenistic fawning is symptomatic of the growing malaise relentlessly foisted upon us by the politically correct mafia.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the training was not compulsory.


Not sure whether the Senator referred to a Swedish barony above or whether a journalist inserted it. Leyonhjelm (Lion helmet) is a Swedish baronial title and the senator is of that ilk

Another contribution to Australia from China

Mathematical Excellence Recognised in Australia Day Honours

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) congratulates Eddie Woo, its members and supporters of the mathematical sciences community on their inclusion in the 2018 Australia Day Honours.

Professor Prince said it was gratifying to see members of the mathematical community acknowledged in this way.

“Policy shapers, innovators and role-models, these are individuals whose passion and leadership are causing ripples of change across the Australian mathematical pipeline,” he said.

Wootube founder and Head of Maths at Cherrybrook Technology High School, Eddie Woo, received the 2018 Australian Local Hero Award for his application of modern technology approaches in the classroom. The 2016 AMSI Choose Maths Excellence Award winner also delivered this year’s NSW Australia Day address.

Perhaps one of Australia’s most famous mathematics teachers, Woo is a true pioneer whose creativity and passion in the classroom has transformed student engagement and achievement. With over 160,000 followers, the impact of his work is felt globally.

“An outstanding educator and mathematics advocate, Eddie has made an indelible impact on Australian mathematics and is richly deserving of this recognition and the platform it provides to further their work,” he said.

Media release from

Canada wine war launched through WTO

The idea of Canadian wine does seem faintly amusing. One would think that Canada would be too cold for the growing of wine grapes.  But they do in fact grow 40% of their own wine consumption.  Their cold climate appears to have enabled them to grow one highly praised wine -- Eiswein (ice wine). Germany was for a long time the only supplier. 

Australia has launched formal ­action with the World Trade ­Organisation targeting Canada over a trade dispute involving Australian wine products, two months after Justin Trudeau snubbed Malcolm Turnbull and world leaders during crucial negotiations on a new Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

In a rare move, the Turnbull government initiated WTO ­dispute-settlement action against Canada following representations from Australian winemakers concerned about “protectionist” measures that threatened their ­lucrative export market.

The Australian can reveal that Trade Minister Steve Ciobo initiated the WTO proceedings after bilateral discussions with Canada broke down.

Australian wine sales to Canada, valued at almost $200 million, make it the fourth biggest market for the domestic export industry after China, the US and Britain.

Mr Ciobo said the Australian wine industry was a “big export earner” and “job creator”.

He ­described Canadian measures as discriminatory. “I want to make sure we stand up for our producers and not allow other countries to discriminate against us, costing us export income and ­potentially jobs,” he said. “Australia has requested formal WTO consultations on measures discriminating against Australian wine imports that we consider to be clearly inconsistent with Canada’s WTO commitments. Canada’s inconsistent measures include extra taxes, fees and mark-ups on imported wine, separate distribution channels reserved for Canadian wine and restricting sale of imported wine in grocery stores to a ‘store within a store’.”

Australia previously launched action with the WTO in 2003, successfully arguing that the ­EU had breached international trade rules. Mr Ciobo said WTO action ­ensured that the Australian wine industry would be protected.

“Canada’s wine market is worth approximately $7 billion,” he said. “These measures are ­impacting on Australia’s ability to better access this market.”

The Turnbull government’s pursuit of Canada through the WTO follows a souring in relations after Mr Trudeau was accused of derailing the rejuvenated TPP11 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Vietnam in November.

Mr Trudeau failed to attend a crucial leaders’ meeting despite an earlier agreement struck by the TPP11 trade ministers, including Canada’s representative, that settled on a “substantial conclusion”.

Following the snub, Australian officials described Mr Trudeau’s absence at the meeting as “shocking” and that the Canadians had “screwed everybody”. Winemakers Federation of Australia chief executive Tony Battaglene said Canada’s restrictions were having an impact on Australian exports.

Canadian provinces have adopted non-tariff measures with respect to the sale and marketing of wine that discriminate in favour of locally produced wines.

Mr Battaglene said there had been long-running issues over equal access to the Canadian ­market but the level of protections had “ramped up” over the past two years.

Mr Battaglene said there had been a lot of concern from producers that this would have an impact, “and we have started to see that. Having said that, we are seeing the Canadian market start to grow so we want to make sure we don’t stymie that growth by having these measures which will prevent our product growing.

“If it was just one or two things you wouldn’t be concerned but when there is a pattern that comes right across the country from the different provinces, it starts to paint a picture of how we can be severely impeded so we want to get on top of it before it becomes a real issue.”

Mr Battaglene said the most significant access issues involved banning foreign wine from being sold at grocery stores in British Columbia and extra sales taxes.

The Australian government yesterday reiterated that it supported a multilateral trading ­system and that WTO members should fully comply with their commitments. If the stand-off with Canada can’t be resolved through WTO consultations (the first stage in dispute settlement actions), Australia could request a WTO panel.

Canada last week launched separate WTO proceedings against the US as negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement continue to stall.

Mr Battaglene said the ­Australian government’s action with the WTO was critical amid those Canada-US trade ­negotiations.

“The US initiated World Trade Organisation action last year and as part of that they are also negotiating a settlement to NAFTA, and we were very concerned that they would get the same preferential access that Canadian producers did and that would be to the severe detriment of Australian producers,” Mr Battaglene said.

“Now we are launching our own action, we don’t have to worry about the US getting preferential access over us because we are actually in the box seat to ensure whatever comes out of it we get the best option.”


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

28 January, 2018

The six-class system: dispelling myths of an egalitarian Australia

The story below is based on one from Britain but is all fair enough. It is one way of scoring social prestige.  In my survey research on the subject in 1971, I found that the manual/non-manual division of employment was nearly as good as any in dividing people into classes but the most meaningful of all was where you saw yourself as belonging.

And any overall measure of class is clearly too broad for most uses.  Occupation, education, wealth and income are not all highly correlated so should on most occasions be considered separately.  People may, for instance be high class on income but low on education -- and vice versa.

And there is an elephant in the room in these studies: IQ.  Charles Murray famously showed two decades ago that IQ has big effects on life chances -- including being a good predictor of income.  So class studies should all consider IQ.  From what I see, I supect that IQ  divides people up more strongly than anything else.  What I see described as upper class or upper-middle class behaviours are ones I know as also being high IQ behaviours.  What is attributed to class may be nothing more than an IQ effect.  A prestigious person will usually be a very bright person, rock stars excepted, of course.

As just one instance of that, there is a huge literature on breast feeding and the clearest finding from that is that in modern Western society there is a very strong class division. Prestigious women breastfeed and working class women give it up early on.  So much so that an upper middle class mother who fails to breastfeed gets a lot of social opprobrium -- with  medical reasons  being her only acceptable excuse.

So it is not surprising to find in that large literature a study that made an attempt to look as comprehensively as possible at all the social predictors of breastfeeding.  The finding?

"The mother's IQ was more highly predictive of breastfeeding status than were her race, education, age, poverty status, smoking, the home environment, or the child's birth weight or birth order."

It was all IQ.  What looked like an effect of social class was in fact an effect of IQ.

And I think that is particularly so in Australia.  Australians do as a matter of belief ignore social class considerations. A person in humble employment will cheerfully strike up a  conversation with a professional person and get a civil reply.  It is only  when the professional starts to use words of high generality that the conversation stops.  His IQ strongly influences the words he uses and that can lead to a communication breakdown.  So it may be that in Australia IQ is the ONLY significant form of social stratification. What seem to be other forms are in fact simply side-effects of IQ level.

While most of us have an intuitive understanding of social class, we often struggle to define it beyond simple financial metrics, like how much money someone has in the bank.

The three-stratum model, which splits all of us into either the working, middle or upper class, is a mainstay of 20th century sociology.

It's a rigid structure, but a recent report out of the Australian National University posits a more nuanced approach to the way we define ourselves and where we sit on the social ladder.

The end result? Six social classes.

Australia might like to consider itself a classless society, but these new methods of social modelling tell a far more complicated story.

We're looking for Aussies to take part in a new RN show about class in Australia. Here's how to get involved.

Social and cultural capital

Jill Sheppard, who co-authored the report Class, Capital and Identity in Australian Society with Nicholas Biddle, says recent studies of social class, particularly in Australia, have been one-tracked.

"For example: do you have a blue-collar occupation or do you have a white-collar one? Do you do low-skilled manual labour or high-skilled manual labour?"

Dr Sheppard says this method, while easy to use and measure, ignores the more complex, social aspects of class.

As part of their research, Dr Sheppard and her team surveyed 1,200 randomly selected Australians, and asked them questions about their relative wealth, their pastimes, and the occupations of the people they regularly socialised with.

She says socialisation — what those around us think and feel — has long-lasting effects on how we manifest our class behaviour.

"What your parents did, where you're from, all these little things that leave little indelible marks along the way, … [they] are really hard to shake off," Dr Sheppard says.

The new, six-class model that the ANU report proposes, based on a similar study in the UK, takes these complexities into account by measuring, along with savings and income (your economic capital), two other metrics: social capital and cultural capital.

Cultural capital, Dr Sheppard explains, is broadly defined as how you spend your free time.  "If you have the night off or away from the kids, what do you do? Do you go to see a movie? Or do you go and see the theatre or do you sit at home and play on Facebook?" she asks.

The activities are tabulated along a scale of relative prestige and used as an indication of education, socio-political access and spending habits.

Similarly, social capital is measured by prestige — but it's also contrasted by variety.

"We ask subjects the kinds of people that they know from a range of occupations. That is, 'what sort of jobs do your friends and family have?'"

"We're working on the basis that there is a difference between people who only socialise with people who do the same things as them, and people that have a broad range of social contacts."

If you mostly socialise with people who do the same things as you and those things rank lower on the prestige hierarchy (looking at Facebook vs. going to the opera, for example), then your overall score will be lower.

The six classes

While Dr Sheppard accepts that no demographic study can account for all of society's complexities, she believes the resulting six classes are as close to accurately representative as possible — at least in Australia.

The precariat – Accounting for 13 per cent of the sample, the precariat comprises Australia's most poverty-affected citizens. They have the lowest mean household income, many are unemployed or claiming government aid and their social and cultural capital scores are the lowest.

Ageing workers – This class has the highest mean age of any of the classes (58 years) and counts for 14 per cent of the population. A large portion of this class are pensioned retirees and are the least likely, along with the precariat, to be engaged in gainful employment.

New workers – In contrast, almost half of all new workers, whose mean age is naturally younger, are employed fulltime. While the relative prestige of the occupations of people in this class is slightly lower than that of ageing workers, they are more financially successful and have better social and cultural capital scores over all.

Established middle – While reporting slightly lower fulltime employment rates compared with new workers, the established middle class "appear more entrenched and comfortable in their status than the new worker class." Due to more accumulated wealth, they also enjoy "greater advantages" overall than new workers.

Emerging affluent – The emerging affluent class reports higher income levels than the established middle but, interestingly, lower "wealth accumulation" (i.e. assets and savings).

Established affluent – The closest Australia has to an aristocracy, reporting the highest scores of social, economic and cultural capital of any class.

One of the most compelling aspects of the report's results, Dr Sheppard says, is the fact that the six classes seem to make intuitive and anecdotal sense.

The mythology

While we're starting to dismantle the idea that class is meaningless in Australia, we still like to think of ourselves as a society that's blind to these kinds of social divides.

"One problem is that lots of people have written really well about this issue in Australia," Dr Sheppard says.

"But they tend to be academics who don't have any incentive to make their work accessible — and while that work remains inaccessible, this sort of mythology can persist."

The idea of the Australian 'fair-go', and the notion that we're all egalitarian, is part of the mythos around Australian identity.

And Dr Sheppard believes this is, in part, related to a historical anti-British sentiment.

"We're like their rebellious daughter, who wants to kick back against everything we see in the United Kingdom," she says.

But it's not all bad news — there is one small thing in which Australians can take solace. "There is good evidence to suggest we aren't as socially hierarchical as England," Dr Sheppard says.


Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement reached to deliver more Australian jobs

This seems to be in line with what Mr. Trump asks: Namely, give and take from both sides

This a landmark deal for trade in our region. Australian businesses and farmers will now have more opportunities to export their food, fibre and services to more customers, more easily.

More trade means more export opportunities for local businesses, and more Australian jobs.

Overnight, 11 countries - Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - reached agreement on the final Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at an officials-level meeting in Tokyo, Japan.

It is expected the agreement will be signed in March in Chile.

This is a multi-billion-dollar win for Australian jobs. Australian workers, businesses, farmers and consumers will benefit.

The Government took a leadership role and worked hard to deliver the TPP because it will generate more Australian exports and create new Australian jobs.

The TPP will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion. The agreement will deliver 18 new free trade agreements between the TPP parties. For Australia that means new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

In 2016-17, nearly one quarter of Australia’s total exports, worth nearly $88 billion, went to TPP countries. This will continue to grow thanks to the significant increase in market access the TPP gives Australian exporters.

Significant wins for Australian exporters under the TPP include:

Accelerated reductions in Japan’s import tariffs on beef, where Australian exports were worth $2 billion in 2015-16 - under TPP-11 even better access.

Elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering more than $100 million of trade that was not covered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

New quotas for wheat and rice to Japan, and for sugar into Japan, Canada and Mexico.

Elimination of all tariffs on sheep meat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).
Eleven separate deals - legally enforceable market access to all these countries.

Investment sets up strong legally enforceable commitments on the way countries regulate foreign investment.

Labor and Bill Shorten declared this trade agreement dead - they urged the Government to walk away. If Labor got their way, Bill Shorten would have shut Australia out of this historic agreement and denied our farmers, manufacturers, services providers and consumers the big wins the TPP delivers.

Unlike Labor, the Government will never give up on measures that create jobs for Australians.


Complaints soar over 'politically incorrect' Australia Day ads

Australia Day advertising campaigns are fraught with danger as society becomes more politically correct and complaints soar, say industry experts.

The Meat & Livestock Australia's lamb advertising campaign, which has been running for 14 years, has again been one of the most controversial Australia Day ads this year.

The lamb ad depicts a stand-off between the left and right in today's society trying to achieve "political correctness" in a dance battle. They eventually unite over a barbecue.

Meat & Livestock Australia has given the ad a Broadway musical makeover this year and, for the second time, does not mention the controversial date of Australia Day.

Swinburne University of Technology, advertising lecturer David Reid, said the 2018 lamb ad was an excellent campaign from a creative point of view but said it was always going to be controversial as it plays on stereotypes.

"Perhaps [brands could actually be looking for controversy as a way to boost sales,] but the agency and brand, Meat & Livestock Australia, understand there is a public debate and they are simply creatively interpreting that," Mr Reid said.

"They understand there is widespread public interest, they're not silly."


Why January 26 should be celebrated

James Paterson

Underlying the campaign to change the date of Australia Day is a barely-concealed hostility to the very existence of Australia as a modern western nation.

If you don’t believe January 26 is a milestone worth celebrating, you are really saying that the arrival of British settlers on that date, and the subsequent creation of modern Australia, is something to be regretted.

This hostility was on full display last week when the Greens leader declared Australia Day “a day that represents the beginning of an ongoing genocide.”

This is an extraordinary position for any Australian to hold, let alone the leader of a political party. It also displays a stunning complacency about how lucky we are to live in such a great country.

According to Di Natale, there’s no reason not to change the date of Australia Day: “We’ll continue to celebrate Australian music, we’ll continue to celebrate all the things that we do, have our barbecues, have our games of beach cricket, but we’ll be able to do it in a way that brings the country together.”

But January 26 wasn’t chosen as Australia Day because of the good weather. It wasn’t picked because it’s suitable for beach cricket and barbecues. Nor did the choice have anything to do with Australian music. January 26 is Australia Day because it marks the birth of our nation.

No one denies that indigenous communities have inhabited our island-continent for thousands of years prior to 1788. They have one of the world’s oldest cultures, which should be celebrated. But it was only with the arrival of the first fleet – and the introduction of a set of cultural and legal institutions with their own storied history – that modern Australia was born.

Without British settlement, Australia would never have inherited the institutions of parliamentary democracy and the common law. We would never have inherited the unique combination of ancient Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian religious traditions, which were forged and refined in the fires of the enlightenment to produce the core elements of western civilisation.

It is these institutions, and this cultural tradition, that has provided the foundation of modern Australia; enabling it to become one of the freest, most prosperous, and harmonious pluralistic societies that has ever existed. It’s why people from around the world have flocked to our shores for generations.

This is why January 26 should be celebrated. It is the genesis of our modern, diverse immigrant society.

There is no debate that indigenous Australians have often been horribly mistreated throughout Australian history. Denying this truth would be morally wrong. But we can acknowledge our imperfect history while also appreciating that it compares favourably to any other nation on earth. And we don’t need to ditch the anniversary of our foundational day to do so. Americans still celebrate their Independence Day on July 4 despite their nation’s own shortcomings in history.

By focusing on these harms at the exclusion of the overwhelming number of things that make Australia a great country, the advocates for changing the date betray their true feelings about the birth of modern Australia – that it was a historical wrong that should never have occurred. By implication, they are arguing that modern Australia should not exist.

The benefits that have come from the settlement of Australia far outweigh the injustices that have been committed.

On top of this implicit hostility to the British settlement of Australia is the lie that changing the date of Australia Day will improve the circumstances of indigenous Australians.

This claim has been powerfully refuted by Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who aptly declared that the Change the Date campaign “isn’t going to make any significant impact whatsoever on the ground for the most marginalised… It’s a complete copout and a pretend way to act like you actually care for Aboriginal people.”

She continued: “If people actually chose to march the streets in the numbers that they do for changing the date but for the victims of family violence towards Aboriginal women and children, we might get around to solving those issues and doing it together.”

January 26 is Australia Day because it marks the birth of Australia as a modern western nation. Not everything about Australia’s history is worth celebrating. But January 26 is the genesis of all the good things, as well as the bad. And the moral ledger is overwhelmingly in the positive.

The only reason to change the date is if you think the European settlement of Australia is not worth celebrating. And if you believe that then you don’t really believe in Australia.


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

26 January, 2018

‘What the hell gives Islamic people the right to tell us what to do’: One-eyed truck driver slams Australia Day video

One-eyed truck driver Trevor Vale has already made waves with his controversial stance on race, religion and bullying.

He has previously blasted the Sudanese mother of a jailed gang member, slammed Australian police, and attempted to raise awareness about online bullying.

But this time it’s Australia Day and a video posted by a group of Arabic-speaking people that has outraged the Aussie truck driver.

In a video posted on Facebook, he slammed the group for calling for the date of Australia Day to be changed.

In the video, which is mostly in Arabic, the woman says Australia Day marks ‘the murder and rape’ of Indigenous men, women and children and that the date should be changed.

The group believe that Australia Day is not a day to celebrate but one to be mourned.

Ending the video after a series of emotional pleas, the last woman featured shares a strong message of hopeful change.

'Make sure this invasion day you stand with the owners of the lands you are on.'

Vale responded, saying Australia day is accepted by most people in this country and that the 'Islamic group' has no right to offer their opinion otherwise.

'If you don’t like the way we do things in this country, you can go home to your own country.'

‘What the hell gives Islamic people the right to tell us what to do,’ Vale said.

'A majority are going to celebrate Australia Day tomorrow on the 26th of January and that's where it should b***** well stay' he said.


One Nation's Pauline Hanson says families of immigrants who break the law should be deported along with those committing the crimes

Relatives of immigrants who commit serious crimes on Australian soil would face deportation along with their offending family members in a scheme to be proposed by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.

The controversial policy would aim to 'stabilise the country's population' while working to weed out criminal migrants, Daily Telegraph reports.

In a move to achieve 'zero net immigration', migrants who 'choose to engage in anti-social, criminal behaviours' would not be allowed citizenship.

Senator Hanson said 'under certain circumstances' family members of extreme offending immigrants would also face deportation.

'It is high time parents start taking more responsibility for the actions of their children,' she said.

'More must be done to create strict laws and regulations that protect our national security and reduce the risk of terrorism and radicalisation.'

Also on her hit list heading into federal parliament for 2018 was a 'use it or lose it' policy for gas companies and a reform of the family law system.

She wants an end to gas companies sitting on offshore gas reserves who aren't producing anything.

'It's a fact that the Federal Government has granted 31 retention licences for offshore areas which contain more gas than we'd know what to do with,' Senator Hanson said.

'None of these licences have gone to production phase, with some multinational companies having sat on these reserves for the past 30 years.'

She said domestic violence, child support, parental equality and alack of judges in the family court were also among her top priorities.

A focus on water security also ranked high on her list, along with protecting valuable agricultural land from foreign corporations.

'This is an issue that is of particular interest to Queensland. I want to see a focus on ensuring water security for prime agriculture land by investing more in infrastructure like dams.

'It's disgraceful that we have a system now that incentivises multinational corporations to trade water for profit, with no regard for what is best for the long-term future of Australia's regional farming communities.'


Big talk, big cost, big battery but small result

On 1 December last, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill flipped the on switch for the giant lithium-ion battery at Jamestown and this facility went online.

It was a huge celebration all round for the South Australian Government which is facing what promises to be a very difficult election and the US company Tesla which constructed and installed the battery – well, actually, lots of smaller batteries – known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve.

The Reserve is designed to store 129 megawatt hours of power for use at times of acute shortage and is supposed to provide 30,000 South Australian homes power for more than an hour in the event of a failure. For the record, the 2016 Census reported that South Australia had 767,267 dwellings. Even the battery facility’s loudest champions can’t escape the unfortunate fact that a very small number of homes could only be supplied for a very short time if the facility was working at peak efficiency.

Premier Weatherill must be hoping that these lucky 30,000 homes are strategically scattered among Labor’s marginal seats.

The facility is linked to a wind farm owned and operated by French firm Neoen. Power produced there is sent to the battery facility and stored for future use.

Australia generally and South Australia in particular have been treated to a masterful public relations blitz by Tesla’s US boss Elon Musk who has long shown a remarkable ability to con money from governments and the public when both have been dazzled by his non-stop self promotion.

Typical of his behaviour was the extravagant bet that he would have the battery facility up and running within one hundred days of the contracts being signed or, he solemnly promised, it would be free. Other companies who tender for projects and then sign contracts for fixed-price projects within a required time do so quietly as a matter of course and don’t feel the need to shout about bets and gambles. They know what their contract requires and they do it or suffer penalties – just like Mr Musk’s contractual obligation. But the “bet” was good PR and everybody – including the South Australian Government lapped it up. And guess what? Mr Musk won his bet. What a surprise!

However, when very hot weather struck southern Australia in January, the battery facility proved to be seriously wanting.

On the two January days of highest temperatures, the wind was blowing so little in South Australia that it was only producing about 6.5 per cent of its capacity. South Australia was relying on Victoria for 31 per cent of its power, 23 per cent of which was provided by hydro-electricity.

According an Institute of Public Affairs analysis, wind contributed only 3.5 per cent of national energy generation on the second day of highest temperatures.

The South Australian Government has refused to say what this battery facility cost although it is generally accepted to be at least $50 million. The mere matter of taxpayers’ money is nothing compared to what Premier Weatherill calls “history in the making”.


'It does not make me racist to ask you a question!' Tense moment broadcaster Neil Mitchell clashes with 'Invasion Day' protester live on air

An Invasion Day protester has accused broadcaster Neil Mitchell of being a racist during an awkward interview on live radio.

An executive of the state-funded Koorie Youth Council, appeared on 3AW radio on Tuesday to promote an 'Invasion Day' protest planned in Melbourne's centre on Friday.

The tension kicked off when Mitchell asked his guest, Tarnee Onus-Williams, if her protest group would cooperate with the police or council to minimise disruption.

'Yeah look, we are asserting our sovereign right to walk on our country because we are sovereign people to this land. At the moment we're not organising with police,' Ms Onus-Williams said.

'So people can do things the way they like, and we like to do things we like to do.'

Mitchell asked Ms Onus-Williams if that meant she ignored 'white man's law'.

'On that basis you can say the aboriginal people can do whatever they like and just ignore the law of the land,' he said.

Ms Onus-Williams replied saying 'we have a law of the land already, we do hold our values strong to our heart'.

Mitchell went on to question Ms Onus-Williams about the state-funded Koorie Youth Council, on which she was an executive.

'The Koorie Youth Council is actively promoting the rally and Invasion Day line on its Facebook page, it's urging people to be involved, it's promoting it. This is a state-funded organisation that in a sense is using public money to promote an Invasion Day rally,' he said. 'Is that legitimate use of public money?'

Ms Onus-Williams refused to answer the questions, saying she had 'no comment'. 'I don't want to. I have free speech, I don't have to answer a question,' she said.

The young aboriginal executive told Mitchell she was on his show to talk about the Invasion Day protest and refused to answer his questions about state funding.

She went on to tell Mitchell about the rally, before she was cut off by the broadcaster. 'We've been protesting for 80 years this year, 80 years ago they held a conference protesting the treatment of aboriginal people in this country,' she said.

She said the rally was protesting the abolition of Australia Day, not just pushing for the date to be moved. 

Mitchell cut in saying: 'you're happy to interview yourself, but that's not the way it works'.

The interview descended into chaos when Ms Onus-Williams said she would not 'take orders' from Mitchell. 'I won't take orders from a radio host on a racist radio channel,' she said.

A shocked Mitchell said, 'did you just call me a racist?' to which Ms Onus-Williams replied, 'Yes, I called you a racist'.

'You're questioning my legitimacy as a sovereign person of this land,' she said.

Mitchell told her he was offended by the accusation, saying it was 'ugly to throw around the word racist'.

'I'm questioning you not because you're black or yellow or white, but because you're in a position organising a rally which is significant to this town around a significant issue which is the future of Australia Day,' he said.

'It does not make me racist to ask you a bloody question and to call me a racist is damn offensive.

'Please please please don't assume that questioning equates with racism, that really is quite offensive intellectually and morally.'

Ms Onus-Williams told Mitchell to 'settle down' because he was 'going on a bit of a rampage'.

She went on to tell Mitchell he should 'get more comfortable' with being called a racist.

'You're not being very nice to me this morning, you're being quite rude,' she said.

The pair parted ways amiably, with Mitchell thanking Ms Onus-Williams for appearing on his show ahead of the Australia Day protest. 


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

25 January, 2018

African gang violence: Don't look at us says top cop

Victoria’s top cop says people are “looking in the wrong direction” if they expect police to clean up the Melbourne’s gang problem.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, who returned from leave this month to a politically charged debate on a spate of crimes linked to African youths, spoke this morning as a caller to radio station 3AW asked why police could not solve the gangs issue and protect Melburnians scared in their homes.

“If you’re looking for police to put it to bed, you’re looking in the wrong direction,” Mr Ashton replied.

“We’re locking ‘em up as many as we can … We’re responding more quickly than we’ve ever responded, we’re making more arrests than we’ve ever made in total so we’re doing plenty about it but you’re talking about bigger social issues than police (can) solve.

“Generally the social conditions that we’ve got out there are such that young people are out there looking for trouble.”

Mr Ashton spoke as police issued CCTV images of young women of African appearance, who are being sought in relation to two separate attacks on women travelling in an apartment building elevator.

A 24-year-old woman in the lift at a Southbank building was assaulted by the group when she tried to get onto her floor around 3.30am on New Year’s Day.

Police believe the same group attacked two other women in the lift about 2am the next morning.

Mr Ashton said the summer period had been a busy time for youth offending, with groups brought together through social media.

“We’ve certainly had a lot of young Africans, Australian kids offending as well (as) Islander kids, a lot of indigenous kids we’re getting as well,” he said.

He said he had visited the Ecoville estate in Tarneit — which has been trashed by thugs who use it as an informal hang out for drinking and troublemaking — twice last week, though not at night.

“I was a bit saddened,” he said. “When you go around areas like that Ecoville, everyone’s got their blinds drawn and their curtains pulled. “It was really noticeable to me … It just seemed like it was a bad way for people to be living.”

Mr Ashton also expressed support for tougher sentencing, saying police members were “very frustrated” by the level of repeat offenders.

Asked if he supported statutory minimum sentences, as proposed by the state Opposition for some serious crimes, he said: “In some cases I think we’ve got to send a message.”

“There’s a core of offenders that just offend and when they’re not inside in custody in the corrections system, they’re out there offending,” he said.


More than 70% of Aussies don't want the date of Australia Day changed because they believe the country should be proud of its history

Mr Turnbull speaks for his people

More than 70 per cent of Australians do not want the date of Australia Day to change, according to a Institute of Public Affairs survey.

Out of 1,000 polled, only 23 per cent of people said council celebrations and citizenship ceremonies should be shifted to an alternative date.

About 50 per cent of people said they did not agree with some councils' decision to move the date and 76 per cent said they believe the country should be proud of its history.

Around 11 per cent of people said Australia does not have a history to be proud of.

A massive majority of 87 per cent said they were proud to be Australian.  

'It is encouraging that Australians overwhelmingly reject the negative rhetoric about our nation's history continually pushed by many on the left,' IPA foundations of Western civilisation program director Bella d’Abreras said.

'This is evidence that Australians both value and understand British institutions such as liberal democracy and the rule of law which have made Australia the successful nation that it is today.'


'They're getting a soft touch because they aren't citizens'

Peter Dutton claims courts are handing foreigners light sentences to avoid deporting them

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has accused the Australian court system of going easy on foreign-born criminals so they aren't deported to their home countries.

He said 'soft pedaling' was becoming an all too familiar theme in their sentencing, with judges opting to dish out lighter penalties to keep them on Australian soil.

The country's tough laws demand foreign offenders be deported if they are sentenced to a year or more in jail.

But Mr Dutton claims the courts have been purposely refraining from imposing such penalties.

His accusation comes as several high profile cases have seen foreign-born criminals walk away with suspended sentences or probation, making them free to stay in the country. 'Some people are getting a soft touch because they are not citizens of this country,' he said.

Mr Dutton said across the board something had to change in order for community expectations surrounding sentencing to be met.

'If magistrates are imposing softer sentences because they're worried about somebody being eligible to be deported then that really undermines public confidence in the judiciary and it needs to stop,' he said.

Criminal lawyer Bill Potts slammed Mr Dutton's comments, arguing in favour of the country's justice system.

'It's not appropriate for ordinary people in the street to suddenly think that because a minister is criticising the courts, that somehow the system of justice does not work,' he said.


Vic Libs pledge school curriculum overhaul

Schoolkids should be taught Australian values and "the principles of Western enlightenment" in a simplified curriculum, Victoria's coalition opposition says.

School kids will focus more on reading, writing and maths instead of learning "a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda" if the Victorian opposition wins power.

The opposition also plans to scrap cross-curriculum priorities afforded to Indigenous history, Asian engagement and sustainability, and place a greater emphasis on "the principles of Western enlightenment" if it wins the November state election.

A coalition government would ask senior research fellow with the right-leaning Centre for Independent Studies, Dr Jennifer Buckingham, to review the curriculum.

"Foundational events that occurred in Europe and North America before 1788 that underpin our national and state institutions are barely spoken of," the coalition's School Education Values Statement released on Wednesday said.

"Concepts like the inherent dignity of the individual, religious tolerance, the principles of the Western enlightenment - such as freedom of speech, equality before the law and government by consent.

"Of course, there are aspects of this nation's history we are not proud of, particularly the shameful treatment of the Indigenous peoples, and that must be taught in depth as well."

Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith said the current curriculum was "over-cluttered" while literacy and numeracy standards were dropping.

He also said young people were leaving school without an adequate understanding of how democracy worked.

"I wouldn't call it (the current curriculum) un-Australian, I just think that ... the working knowledge of our democracy should be improved," Mr Smith told reporters.

The opposition also wants to scrap the Safe Schools program designed to reduce bullying of LGBTI students, and replace it with an anti-bullying program particularly focused on cyber-bullying.

"Programs like Safe Schools add to curriculum clutter and impose a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda on schools," the statement says.

Premier Daniel Andrews is a long-time defender of Safe Schools and told journalists Victorian students were already being taught Australian values.

He said the Liberals cut education funding when they were in power.


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

24 January, 2018

Australia’s inequality crisis: Oxfam paper

Who said it is a crisis?  The world's most favoured nations where living standards are at their highest all have substantial inequality.  You ALWAYS have inequality.  Even the old Soviet Union had its nomenklatura.  You lift people up by working to increase economic efficiency, not by red-eyed envy of others. 

What we read below is just one big paroxysm of hate for those who have done well.  In the usual Leftist way, it is totally one sided, with no mention of the vast amount of tax that rich people pay or their many philanthropic activities.  Mentioning that would undermine the hate. 

Nor is there any mention of how people got rich -- usually by providing a new service or an improvement to existing services.  The fact that very rich people keep emerging in Australia simply shows that Australia is a land of opportunity with few barriers to improved economic activity for those who have realistic business ideas and the energy to implement them

Oxfam seems to put out "reports" such as the one below annually.  There was a very similar one at the beginning of last year. Oxfam was founded to help the poor but it now seems to be obsessed with the rich

The head of Oxfam in Australia is Helen Szoke, whose surname seems to have been taken from her Czechoslovakian adoptive parents. She had a rather distressed childhood, which probably had some role in making her a lifelong far-Leftist. You will, for instance, not see her telling anybody that Life is getting much, much better for the world's poor, however you want to measure it – whether it's in terms of average incomes, life expectancy, child mortality, disease, poverty, or women's rights.  Leftists don't want to know about all that. They feed on grievance

She is a former head of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Her determinations there always seemed perverse, although carefully put.

A record number of Australian billionaires amassed an astonishing $38 billion increase in their wealth last financial year – enough money to pay for more than half of Federal public health spending, an Oxfam Australia briefing paper has revealed.

The briefing paper, Growing Gulf Between Work and Wealth, shows the number of Australian billionaires increased by eight to 33 last year – and has more than doubled over the past 10 years – while workers’ wages have stagnated.

Released as the world’s political and business leaders gather this week in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, the Oxfam analysis shows inequality in Australia is higher than at any time over the past two decades. The share of wealth held by the richest one per cent continues to rise, while wage growth for ordinary workers has slowed to record lows – barely keeping up with the cost of living.

“Oxfam is committed to tackling poverty and inequality – but a broken economic system that is concentrating more wealth in the hands of the rich and powerful, while ordinary people struggle to scrape by, is fuelling an inequality crisis,” Dr Szoke said.

“Over the decade since the Global Financial Crisis, the wealth of Australian billionaires has increased by almost 140 per cent to a total of $115.4 billion last year. Yet over the same time, the average wages of ordinary Australians have increased by just 36 per cent and average household wealth grew by 12 per cent.

“The richest one per cent of Australians continue to own more wealth than the bottom 70 per cent of Australians combined. While everyday Australians are struggling more and more to get by, the wealthiest groups have grown richer and richer.”

The Oxfam paper also highlights that the system is broken for workers in Australian global supply chains – trapping people in poverty, no matter how hard they work.

“This economic injustice is nowhere more apparent than in the clothing industry, where the people – mainly women – making clothes for household Australian brands are often paid poverty wages,” Dr Szoke said.

“A handful of the highest paid chief executives in the Australian clothing retail sector earn, on average, about $6 million a year. At the same time, many women working in Bangladesh to make the clothes sold by these brands take home a minimum wage of AUD $974 a year.

“Garment workers earning this minimum wage in Bangladesh – which falls far short of a living wage to cover the basics – would have to work more than 10,000 years to make the same amount that one of the highest paid Australian fashion retail CEOs made in 2017.”

Dr Szoke said to tackle the top end of this inequality crisis, the Federal Government must end cuts to corporate taxes and introduce tougher tax transparency laws that require companies to publicly report on income, profits and taxes for every country in which they operate.

To address the other extreme of the economic divide, Dr Szoke said Australian companies should commit to ensuring at least a living wage to workers in their supply chains – and to publishing a step-by-step strategy outlining how this would be achieved.

“Hard work is no longer a guarantee for a better life – the system is clearly not working for a majority of people,” Dr Szoke said. “The Federal Government and Australian companies cannot ignore this inequality crisis and must act to curtail the widening gulf between the super-rich and ordinary workers.”

Media release received via email

Australian success story offers no scope for contrition or cringe

We must beware of employing the “slippery slope” argument, particularly when critiquing the slippery policies of the Greens. It is tempting, nonetheless, to imagine that abolishing Australia Day won’t be the end of the matter but merely a step towards the abolition of Australia itself.

Since Greens leader Richard Di Natale confidently predicts we’ll be rid of Australia Day within a decade, we might well be heading for a constitutional referendum on national self-abolishment by 2028.

The push to abolish Australia is not popular, yet its advocates are noisy, resourceful and driven by an irrepressible desire for change for its own sake. Like supporters of a republic, they are largely people who have been to university, where an intellectualised intolerance to patriotism thrives. These are denaturalised intellectuals, the group identified by ­Arthur Angell Phillips in 1958 in The Australian Tradition as the ­unhappy victims of the cultural cringe, isolated and alienated from their own country.

Their thinking is clouded by the unsavoury ­interpretation of the Australian story that pervades history faculties and seeps out through other branches of the ­humanities, as the work of the ­Institute of Public ­Affairs’ Bella d’Abrera revealed last year.

The academic class has become obsessed with what divides Australia, rather than what unites us. D’Abrera’s analysis of the titles and descriptions of 746 subjects found a proliferation of the words “indigenous”, “race”, “gender”, “envir­onment”, “identity” and “sex­uality”, which appeared far more frequently than “Enlightenment” or “the Reformation”.

The dispiriting effect of identity politics is made worse by the stigmatising of dissenting thinkers as bad and immoral. Universities are deprived of the benefits of checking truth against error, one of the great benefits of the principle of free speech articulated by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty .

“All silencing of discussion,” wrote Mill, “is an assumption of ­infallibility.”

Paradoxically, the deracinated, denationalised intellectual class ranks inclusiveness high among its virtues. It presumes to see the world in a clearer light, considering itself above the chubby, chuckleheaded masses who attach the national flag to their Holdens each year and believe, in the ­immortal words of Barry McKenzie, that they live in “the greatest living country in the world, no risk”.

The new cultural cringers have little conception of Australia’s ­exceptional history or understanding of the importance of the timing and nature of British settlement. Since we had the good fortune to be settled after the Enlightenment, there were no witch trials in Australia, where rationalism reigned. There was a conscious rejection of slavery and a commitment to penal reform that defies Robert Hughes’s depiction of the Fatal Shore.

The trite, anti-colonial narrative of theft and oppression fits poorly around the Australian story; the most grievous acts of oppression occurred beyond the boundaries of the law, an important distinction seldom acknowledged. Violence and theft were, for the most part, unendorsed by the state.

There is nothing in Australia’s history to match, for example, the 1879 incident known as the Conquest of the Desert in Argentina when General Julio Roca led 6000 troops in five columns armed with repeating rifles to seize possession of the Rio Negro, rounding up ­Indians to be apportioned as servants or labourers to an elite band of colonialists who took control of large ranches.

Australian farms were middle-class settlements, made fertile in individual ingenuity and perseverance. Argentina and Australia were ranked equal for their economic potential a little more than a century ago. But middle-class energy, personal and economic liberty and inherited ­institutions under the rule of law proved a more successful model of progress than cronyism, protectionism and patronage. Today Australia far outranks Argentina for wealth, agricultural exports, small business, education and ­income equality.

To talk of Australia as a successful nation, an exemplar of progress, is to do nothing more than state facts. The defamatory claim that Australia was founded on genocide and theft, a falsehood in which we marinate our schoolchildren, softening them for the dreary courses they take at university, is far more dangerous than we imagine.

For Europeans, colonialism is just a middle-ranking sin, writes Douglas Murray in The Strange Death of Europe. For Australians, however, it has become their original sin. The narrative of guilt has moved from the margins of public debate to the core, he argues. “Strangely this narrative of guilt seems actually desired and welcomed by Australian society,” he writes. The world’s impression of Australia and the country’s self-­regard has palpably changed “from a generally sunny and optimistic place to one that has ­become darker, not to mention mawkish, about its past”.

Mass displays of plastic hands in Aboriginal colours on the lawns of parliament, the signing of Sorry books and grand symbolic nat­ional apologies are symptoms of a mania, says Murray. The political class mistakenly assumes its statements of regret are cost-free. Yet we may pay dearly for the erosion of national confidence in a competitive world. “If Australia is forever opening up and apologising for its own past while China ­remains silent, the impression may be instilled, in children in Australia as much as elsewhere, that Australia is the country for more to apologise for.”

Such observations from abroad deserve to be taken seriously, particularly in the context of a book that mourns the loss in cultural confidence across Europe, the erosion of shared values and the weakening of the social fabric.

In 1958, when Phillips wrote his seminal essay on the Australian cultural cringe, those who displayed it were to be pitied or mocked. It is harder to laugh at Murray’s update or dismiss the discomfort with nationalism as a harmless quirk. Phillips’ antidote holds good, though: Australians must develop “the art of being ­unselfconsciously ourselves”.

“The Cringe is a worse enemy to our cultural development than our isolation,” he concludes. “The opposite of the Cringe is not Strut, but a relaxed erectness of carriage.”


Unemployment among Australian university graduates

The article below by Cat Moir is generally sensible even though it is from a strongly Leftist source.  In the last of her words below she sees a paradox that is not, however.  It is a widely held view that all speech should be free except speech that promotes violence.  And it is pretty clear that Muslim teaching leads in the direction of violence.  Jihad is not a Presbyterian idea and the Middle East is hardly an oasis of peace.  So careful oversight of Muslim speech is warranted caution

On 8 January, Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning (QILT) published the results of the 2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey. The survey stated that 84% of employers were satisfied overall with the skills of the university graduates they employed, with 93% saying that the graduates they employed were prepared ‘very well’, or ‘well’ for their current employment.

Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham released a statement on the survey, saying that these results were encouraging because they allow students to compare how courses “are viewed by their prospective employers as part of a clearer picture of our higher education system”. According to Senator Birmingham, the survey will allow students to make better decisions “when considering the courses and careers they choose to embark on”.

However, as QILT’s Graduate Outcomes Survey also makes clear, whatever path they embark on, up to 38% of graduates leaving Australian universities today will not find full-time work. According to that data, the last decade has seen a rise of 17% in the number of university leavers in part-time employment.

In response to these figures, Senator Birmingham demands “more accountability of universities for the students they take on”. He insists that universities must “take responsibility” for the outcomes of their graduates.

One might be tempted to argue at this juncture that universities are not just employability factories, but rather spaces for intellectual enquiry, self-discovery, and collective endeavour. Whatever their remit, though, no university would dispute that HE institutions must do everything in their power to provide students with the best possible standard of education, encouragement, and support.

But even if we conceive of the role of universities only in narrow economic terms, the implication that what happens within their walls can or should somehow guarantee the outcomes of students once they leave the campus and enter an increasingly volatile and precarious global labour market is false.

As the GOS makes clear, one of the main causes of the increase in part-time graduate work was the GFC in 2008: a less stable global labour market, combined with an influx of increasingly highly-qualified young people, makes it more difficult to get a job.

The paradox here, if you hadn’t already guessed, is that if the point of universities is supposed to be to produce employable graduates, then there have to be jobs in which these graduates can be employed. But that is not something for which universities can be held responsible.

In the UK, the universities sector has confronted both a type-1 and a type-2 paradox this last week. Since they’re related, let’s group them together as the ‘freedom of speech paradox’.

The UK government has recently established a new Office for Students, a regulatory body that merges HEFCE and the Office for Fair Access. It has extensive powers: it will administer university funding, degree award powers, university title, the Teaching and Research Excellence Frameworks for measuring academic performance, and fair access to higher education.

It will also be responsible for ensuring that universities allow freedom of speech for controversial guest speakers.

The freedom of speech issue is familiar here in Australia: it has to do with universities no-platforming figures who publicly espouse violently racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory views.

The argument of no-platforming advocates is that ‘free speech’ is so often used as a cover by those whose right to speak has historically been protected (more or less well off white men) to incite hatred and even violence towards those whose right to speak has historically not enjoyed the same protection: women, people of colour, gender non-binary people, the poor.

Whatever stance one takes on the no-platforming issue, it seems to be irreconcilable with the OfS’ other duty: to enforce the government’s Prevent strategy, which is designed to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism by — among other things — monitoring the potential presence of extremist views on campus.

The OfS is therefore in the (type-1) paradoxical situation of having to say that universities must protect the freedom of controversial figures to speak on campus… except if they’re a radical Islamist, in which case they will be no-platformed after all.


Genetic modification laws set for shake-up, with health and agriculture research industries to benefit

Australia is set to reform how it regulates new genetic engineering techniques, which experts say will help to dramatically speed up health and agriculture research.

The changes will enable agricultural scientists to breed higher yielding crops faster and cheaper, or ones resistant to drought and disease.

Australia's gene technology regulator Raj Bhula has proposed reducing regulations around gene editing techniques such as CRISPR, following a 12 month technical review into the current regulations.

The most radical change put forward by the regulator is that some of the more efficient and newer genetic technologies, known as gene editing, would not be considered "genetic modification".

"With gene editing you don't always have to use genetic material from another organism, it is just editing the [existing] material within the organism," Dr Bhula said.

"All of our regulatory frameworks and laws have been established based on people putting unrelated genetic material into another organism.

"Whereas this process is just manipulation within the organism and not introducing anything foreign."

Case for deregulation when there is no risk
Under current legislation, a genetically modified organism (GMO) is broadly defined as an organism that has been modified by gene technology, and is subject to heavy regulation.

Genetically modified crops have been available for decades and some are already widely used in Australian agriculture, particularly cotton and canola.

GM cotton varieties, such as BT cotton, use the DNA from a common soil bacterium to repel insects.

Dr Bhula said the newer technologies, rather than inserting a foreign gene, involve editing an existing gene to speed up the development of an organism that would usually happen over time.

"If these technologies lead to outcomes no different to the processes people have been using for thousands of years, then there is no need to regulate them, because of their safe history of use," she said.

"If there is no risk case to be made when using these new technologies, in terms of impact on human health and safety for the environment, then there is a case for deregulation."

If approved, the reforms will have wide ranging benefits for agriculture research, and could speed up the research and commercialisation of disease, salt or drought-resistant crops, or high yielding varieties.

The changes are currently open for consultation, and will ultimately need to be signed off by Commonwealth and state and territory governments, and passed in federal Parliament.


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

23 January, 2018

New funding for the Great Barrier Reef

This is in response to Greenie claims that the GBR is "dying".  The reef has been there for millennia but Greenies talked up some recent changes as if they were catastrophic and final.  As is now clear even to a Greenie, the reef "fixes" itself.  It has rebounded from the small but highly exaggerated degree of damage that it suffered.

Dead coral revives when the stressor -- in this case a temporary sea level fall -- goes away.  To Greenies, of course, coral deaths are caused by Global Warming. 

The new money seems to be reasonably allocated even if the need for it was built on false pretences

THE number of crown-of-thorns starfish control vessels will be more than doubled under a new $60?million Great Barrier Reef funding suite.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will unveil the package in Townsville today as he continues the North Queensland tour that began in Cairns yesterday.

The Federal Government will spend $10.4 million for what Mr Turnbull labelled an “all-out assault on coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish” to increase the number of culling ships from three to eight.

Another $36.6 million will go towards measures to reduce run-off pollution entering the reef, giving farmers incentives to cut down soil erosion, improve nutrient management, and restoring coastal and riparian vegetation in reef catchments.

“This $60 million funding boost over 18 months will set in motion a major research and development program for coral reef restoration,” Mr Turnbull said.

“For the first time The Commonwealth will bring together key agencies to explore ways the reef can best adapt to the changing environment to protect it for decades to come.

“By supporting the development of innovative new reef technologies we are also helping to cement Australia’s international reputation as a strong innovation-driven economy.”

The Australian Institute of Marine Science and CSIRO will share in $6 million to scope and design the program to develop heat-tolerant coralswith a focus on leveraging private investment.

Mr Turnbull said $4.9 million would be spent to boost the number of field officers protecting the reef and the 64,000 jobs that rely on it.

“It is a vibrant, resilient ecosystem and one of the best-managed coral reef ecosystems in the world,” he said.

“While it is facing increasing threats we intend to remain leaders in reef management.

“The specific science focus of the R & D funding is part of the government’s broader focus on science, innovation and jobs and the central role they will play now and into the future.

“Innovation and science are key to future employment opportunities for Australians.”


Fewer students make the grade for teaching courses as new standards take effect

This tightening of standards for teachers was long overdue but may not be sustainable if teacher shortages develop

For the first time, Victorian school leavers wanting to study undergraduate teaching this year had to achieve a minimum ATAR of 65.

The change coincided with a 22 per cent decline in offers made to aspiring teachers in the first round of university offers, an analysis by The Age found.

A total of 1933 offers for education or teaching courses were made to school leavers, 220 fewer than last year. The remaining 697 places went to other applicants, down from 1211 in 2017.

It came as the average ATAR of students pursuing education courses increased to 69.53, up from 62.7 last year.

In previous years, some education courses have only required an ATAR of 30.

This turnaround was welcomed by Victorian Education Minister James Merlino. "We always said we wanted to raise the bar for those wanting to become a teacher to ensure we keep lifting standards in our classrooms," he said.

The minimum ATAR will be hiked up to 70 in 2019 as part of a state government push to improve teacher quality and stem an oversupply of graduates entering the profession.

All aspiring teachers also have to pass a new non-academic test that screens them for resilience, ethics and empathy.

But Joanna Barbousas, the president of the Victorian Council of Deans of Education, warned that the changes could lead to a teacher shortage.

"There are concerns around the short term finances of university education programs and what it will mean for the profession in terms of a decrease in teacher supply," she said.

Associate professor Barbousas, who is also the head of La Trobe University's education department, said entry requirements were important but the real focus should be on the quality of courses.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace dismissed concerns of a teacher shortage, and said the changes would improve the standing of the teaching profession.

"Teaching is an incredibly complex job and we need to make sure that we have people that can deal with those complexities and deliver the highest quality education," she said.

The number of offers for some teaching courses has more than halved over the past four years.

A total of 285 first round places were offered at Australian Catholic University's primary teacher education course in 2014, but this year there were just 131 offers.

The large drop coincided with an increase in the university's clearly-in ATAR score from 58.5 to 65.

Offers also plunged for Deakin University's primary teaching course, Victoria University's Prep-Year 12 teaching stream, and RMIT's Primary Education course.


Reduce migration, climate policies: Abbott

Former prime minister Tony Abbott wants the government to look at policies which give more jobs to locals, such as scaling back migration.

Tony Abbott thinks the coalition can win the next election if the government looks at policies like scaling back migration.

The former prime minister will also spend 2018 encouraging colleagues to take the pressure off power and house prices and making sure locals have jobs.

"These are the sorts of things when it comes to an election the government would get credit for," he told 2GB radio on Monday.

Asked about Mr Abbott's comments, Treasurer Scott Morrison talked up last year's strong jobs growth.

But he did argue there are skill shortages in some areas.

"Your immigration program has to work in with the labour needs in the market to ensure that the economy can function well," he told Sky News.

"You've got to keep a close eye on it, you can't let it get out of hand."

Mr Morrison - who was Mr Abbott's immigration minister - reflected on the level of net overseas migration under Labor peaking at over 300,000 a year, insisting it was significantly below that now.

"We run a strong program which is focused on skills, which means we invite people to come into the country to make a contribution and not take one," he said.


Government caves in to quack  medicine promoters

A lot of people believe in it -- and they vote

Evidence-based science is being “thrown out the window” during the formation of health policy, a regulatory expert with the Australian National University, Prof John Braithwaite, has said amid concerns from consumer health groups about the therapeutic goods amendment bill.

The bill proposes several changes to the Therapeutic Goods Act to simplify the process for managing complaints about complementary and alternative medicine advertisements and products. It will also introduce stronger compliance powers to deal with misleading advertising, including higher penalties.

But Braithwaite and consumer health groups are concerned by amendments to the legislation that will abolish pre-clearing of complementary and alternative medicine advertisements. The bill will also authorise an industry-submitted list of permissible uses for complementary medicines, including 140 uses that must be supported by scientific evidence and 879 that can be supported by a tradition of use, such as use in Chinese medicine and homeopathy, which has no scientific evidence for its efficacy.

On 24 January the Australian National University in Canberra will host a public forum to debate the bill, with speakers including Braithwaite and representatives from Choice, the Consumers’ Health Forum and Friends of Science in Medicine. The ad hoc meeting was arranged by health groups after the Senate’s community affairs legislation committee said it would not hold public hearings during its inquiry into the legislation.

“I am concerned that one of the fundamental principles of how we think about health in Australia – that is the principle of taking science seriously – is being eroded in the regulatory architecture,” Braithwaite told Guardian Austrlaia.

“Traditional, complementary and alternative medicine industries are bypassing the need to take science seriously and we are seeing same thing in climate change police. The science of protecting health is being thrown out the window and that is a threat to the integrity of consumer protection law.”

Guardian Australia has contacted members of the Senate community affairs legislation committee for comment.

Complementary Medicines Australia made its own submission to the inquiry, saying it was concerned by “vocal opponents of complementary medicine” claiming government regulators would be insufficient to protect consumers.

“Negative media attention would spread damaging misinformation about the industry and the government’s capacity to regulate,” the submission says. “These efforts are a misplaced ideological bid to throttle the use of complementary medicines in contrast to the worldwide boom in demand.”

Ken Harvey, from Monash University’s school of public health and preventative medicine, praised the bill’s provisions to fast-track new medicines to consumers.

“But there are other aspects of the bill that are potentially dangerous to consumers and need much more consideration,” he said.

“Advertising pre-approval is the only defence against seriously misleading advertisements appearing on prime-time television or in national newspapers. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has also ignored submissions that pointed out that including numerous traditional uses for products encourages industry to evade the requirement to have scientific proof of efficacy for their products and endorses pseudoscience.”

He and Braithwaite have called for pre-approval of advertisements about alternative medicines to continue until the other measures – increased post-marketing reviews and more stringent penalties for regulatory violations – have shown to be effective.

“The complaint system takes a long time to remove bad advertisements,” Harvey said. “Meanwhile, the damage has been done. Prevention is better than cure.”

Harvey said that in 2016 the Australian complementary medicine industry achieved revenues of $4.7bn, a compound annual growth rate almost 10 times faster than the growth rate of the overall economy. Australians spent more than $550 per capita on complementary medicines in 2016.

“This use is out of all proportion to the limited scientific evidence justifying the use of these products,” he said.

In its submission, the consumer advocacy group Choice said further measurers were needed for consumers to be able to make an informed choice about complementary medicines.

Its submission said: “Products displaying traditional use indications must also be required to display a prominent disclaimer on the label to the effect of; ‘This product’s traditional claims are based on alternative health practices that are not accepted by most modern medical experts. There is no good scientific evidence that this product works’.”


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

22 January, 2018

The "invasion" that was not in 1788

This was no invasion scene. This was a First Fleet sailor standing on the finest coastline in the world, dropping his pants to show Australia’s first inhabitants he was a man and not a woman or a god. Another brief moment of practical humility and goodwill conceived 230 years ago by the deep-­thinking captain standing pas­sively adjacent to the curious display of wrinkled British man junk.

Captain Arthur Phillip had safely led 1420 souls aboard a fleet of 11 ships 17,000 nautical miles across deadly seas in the most ­extraordinary and treacherous flotilla voyage in history.

By January 20, 1788, the ships of Phillip’s mighty First Fleet had been reunited in Botany Bay. The intrepid captain’s concerns had switched immediately from survival at sea to life in Oz. He was thinking about food. He was thinking about shelter. He was thinking about friendship, a ­notion of a shared humanity so perfectly realised in that moment two meeting races — those sea-spent Poms and the Eora people of coastal Sydney — bonded over the male copulatory organ and all the earthly trouble carried within it.

“At those initial meetings, the first Eora priority appears to have been to establish the strangers’ sex — men dealt with men,” says Grace Karskens, a University of NSW ethnography historian and world authority on early colonial Australia. “The (British) had no beards and they did not appear to have male sex organs. Once he grasped the question, Phillip ­instructed a sailor to drop his pants at one meeting — in ­response a great shout went up from the Eora warriors.”

Phillip had come to Australia with a vision for a great nation, a place of peace and prosperity open to all the vast continent’s inhabitants, old and new, he hoped might build a life within its shimmering borders. He was ridiculed by peers for this vision but he held to it. “There shall be no slavery in a free land,” he fiercely declared, ­almost 40 years before slavery was abolished in Britain.

He believed something wondrous could emerge from the prison colony he was burdened with building by order of King George III — the most ambitious social experiment ever to be conducted and, against all odds, succeed. Arthur Phillip believed he could turn a monumental historical negative — 780 criminals exiled from home constructing “a commonwealth of thieves” — into something close to the grand and evolving positive that is Australia in the year 2018.

This was no invasion scene. This was Phillip in September 1790, in Manly Cove, near-fatally speared in the shoulder while ­attempting to communicate with a group of indigenous Australians feasting on a dead whale. When others called for retribution, Phillip called for understanding.

Two hundred years later, one of this young nation’s most ­esteemed legal figures, Geoffrey Robertson QC, described that man as “the first and finest white Australian” who set a “standard of decency and justice for which we should express gratitude”.

An avid Phillip scholar, Robertson has lobbied for decades to have the oft-overlooked captain’s remains — believed to be resting in the grounds of a church in Bath — repatriated to Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, overlooking, says Robertson, “what Phillip was first to describe as the world’s finest harbour”. “As a nation, we probably owe more to him than to any other single person. Quite literally, our founding father.”


Inconvenient fact: Native title can only exist if Australia was settled, not invaded

International law recognises all territories acquired through invasion and annexation by force, prior to World War II, as lawful conquests.

This 'Right of Conquest' doctrine was first conceived by the International Law Commission of the United Nations and later adopted as UN General Assembly Resolution 3314.

Provided that all citizens of a lawfully conquered territory are granted equal rights by the local law, international law doesn't consider the descendants of the conqueror and the conquered as two separate peoples.

This in turn invalidates any claims to separate land rights under the same jurisdiction.

As one of the 193 member states of the United Nations, Australia is not exempt from this doctrine.

Yet we do recognise separate land rights because the historic Mabo Decision in 1992 rested on the correct presumption that Australia was settled, not invaded.

In their ruling, Justices Brennan, Deane, Gaudron, Toohey, Mason and McHugh acknowledged that native title could have been intentionally extinguished by the use of government powers, but wasn't.

They proceeded to reject the 'terra nullius' doctrine without overturning the traditional view that the Australian landmass had in fact been settled.

Had Australia actually been invaded, the descendants of its native population would be classified as a conquered people and their land rights would be abolished under UN Resolution 3314.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale might like to explain to the Australian people why he is attempting to undermine native title by implying that Australia was invaded and conquered.

On 26 January 1788, there was no sovereign state on the landmass we today call Australia. The land was sparsely populated with disparate nomadic tribes without a written language and a central government.

Captain Arthur Phillip's arrival with his group of disease-stricken poorly-fed convicts in their new prison colony, on territory claimed for the British Crown seventeen years earlier by explorer James Cook, does not constitute an "invasion".

Far from the brutal instincts of actual invaders like Napoleon or Hitler, early British settlers built a colony that was surprisingly harmonious and committed to justice.

As the first Governor of New South Wales, Phillip developed a fondness for the native Eora people in his new colony at Port Botany.

He befriended native man Woollarawarre Bennelong who became the first native Australian to be escorted to England to meet King George III.

The federal seat of Bennelong held by former Prime Minister John Howard for 33 years is named after him.

Phillip once forgave a native for stealing his shovel because he understood that in native culture people shared what they had and there was no concept of exclusive personal belongings. Hardly the attitude of an invader.

In 1816, Governor Lachlan Macquarie appointed native leaders to act as conduits between settlers and natives. He welcomed the natives who aspired to be part of the new colony. Hardly the attitude of an invader.

Violent clashes were the exception, not the norm.

At Myall Creek in 1838, some 30 natives were killed by 10 settlers and an African in Bingara, New South Wales. The perpetrators were trialled, 7 of the 11 involved were found guilty of murder, and hanged.

The rule of law prevailed. Hardly what happens in invaded countries.

Whether Australia's colonisation by the British Empire should be classified as an invasion or settlement is not a question of mere semantics. It's a question that holds serious legal and political consequences for our country.

For most Australians, this debate is as settled as Australia itself on 26 January 1788.

American President Abraham Lincoln once said "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Let's unite to recognise that 26 January is a celebration of a democratic story that would be incomplete without the Mabo Decision.

Let's never again disparage native title by referring to our settlement as an invasion. Happy Australia Day 2018.


Big government is costing its citizens far too dearly

Let’s start with a one-question quiz that will put you broadly into one of two camps.

You may recall in March last year a compelling speech made in the Senate about how hard it is to live on welfare. Then senator Jacqui Lambie gave a frank and tearful description of life on the disability pension.

The senator is no slouch and has worked in various jobs since a young age. Lambie could not bear being on welfare but circumstances had required it, and it was very hard to make ends meet. The fridge broke and food was kept in the Esky under the house so the ice lasted longer. The children went hungry and missed out on other things they needed. The car was driven, unregistered, on several occasions because the registration bill hadn’t been paid. Lambie felt so distressed that at times she just sat in the corner and cried.

Pick your gut reaction to the speech from these two options:

A. This must have been awful. No one should have to live like this. The government should take more tax out of the economy — surely there are people out there who can afford to give more. Then they should use this money to give people on welfare and low incomes more money so they can live more easily.

B. This must have been awful. No one should have to live like this. Car registration is a tax, probably unnecessary — because governments are so wasteful — and people shouldn’t have to pay it. Essential services are too expensive because of taxes and government meddling. There is too much tax in the cost of food and other goods, and red tape makes everything very expensive. The government should decrease its burden on us and take less tax out of the economy so the cost of living is much lower. Then people on welfare and low incomes will have more money left in their pockets and can live more easily.

Labels are unhelpful and personal political beliefs are complex. A person’s politics cannot be defined using a crass linear measure, with “left” at one end and “right” at the other. Nevertheless, for the sake of fitting in, if you chose A, you are known as a leftie. If you chose B, you are one of those dreaded right-wingers; and by the way, welcome to the club.

The point is, we all want to arrive at broadly the same destination: eradication of poverty and higher standards of living for all. The problem is we all have different ideas about how to get there.

For those in club B, the situation is pretty clear. Australians bear the burden of a government that is too large, too expensive and too invasive. Sure, we need essential and shared services, roads, schools, hospitals and so on. We don’t, though, need three layers of government to run the place and, in any case, our population is far too small to wear the damage of its meddling, support its unchecked growth and meet its insatiable cost.

In daily life, people are mercilessly peppered by governments hooking into their pay packets, in ways that are not always obvious. There are taxes on things a government thinks you should do, like earn an income and invest and provide for yourself. There are taxes on things a government thinks you shouldn’t do, like smoke.

There are rules, so many rules, that must be followed or the fines will arrive. There are so many things that must be registered, from cars to boats, to cats and dogs, and if these regos aren’t paid, there will be more fines to pay. There are so many activities that require a licence fee, so many regulations and so many inspectors you have to pay to check compliance. Incomes are high but the cost of living is stratospheric, and people are drowning in bills.

Key economic data for the past six years was released this week by various sources.

In terms of our costs, household spending on childcare has doubled over the six years. Primary and secondary education costs are up 50 per cent. The price of electricity has doubled and spending on health insurance has risen by 50.7 per cent. Overall, households are spending 23 per cent more on essential services, with prices influenced by government. The cost of goods and services — set by the market — has risen by only 15 per cent.

In terms of our incomes, Fair Work Commission data shows private sector rises have been below 3 per cent for six of the past eight quarters. In the September quarter, pay rises in private sector enterprise agreements fell to an average annual rate of 2.4 per cent — a 25-year low.

Since 2010, average incomes have grown by 24 per cent but the cost of income tax has risen by 47 per cent. The average middle-income earner receives $46,000 a year. Over the next four years, Canberra projects this person will earn an extra $6100, but will lose $2500 of that (41 per cent) to tax.

How’s that big government working out for you, Australia? Not too well by the looks of it.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has said his summer homework was to craft a budget with tax cuts for average earners in mind. Based on Morrison’s history, these cuts will probably be small and barely offset the recent tax rises — the Medicare levy increase — he put in place. Increasing the burden of government on the people is something this government has proved very keen to do.


Confidence returns for Australian coal miners

Note:  Thermal coal is the coal used in those evil coal-powered electricity generators.  Metallurgical coal is used in blast furnaces to make steel

Did the doubters declare the death of thermal coal too soon?

Certainly the major listed Australian thermal coal miners have all seen positive movement in their share price from late 2017 through into 2018, bucking the wider perception of a market in decline.

That was in turn driven by a resurgent thermal coal price after its massive bust three years ago.

From August 2015 to August 2016, prices languished below $US60 ($75) a tonne. By October of last year that had spiked to more than $US100 a tonne in October 2016 and remained in a healthy range rarely falling below $US80 a tonne.

There are combination of international and domestic market factors as well as  smarter play by Australian miners that have created market conditions where thermal coal has regained ground, shaking off the zombie company taglines that have dogged the industry over the last year.

The domestic market is also different. Australia has significantly fewer thermal coal miners today than it did five years after a spate of sell-offs, divestments, and exits from the market, and now those who survived are reaping the benefits of a strengthening market.

Whitehaven Coal has been one of the standout performers. In February of 2016 Whitehaven's share price hit 37 cents. Earlier this month it hit $4.77 only slowing down on the back of lowered production guidance figures last week.

New Hope Group has seen strong movement northwards, hitting a share price high point not seen since early 2015.

New Hope chief executive Shane Stephen told Fairfax Media pinpoints the sector's turning point as May 2016, when China announced it would institute new controls on domestic production sending buyers elsewhere.

"We're seeing strong demand for higher quality Australian thermal coal in Asia, and that is what's driving the price. Additionally, we're also not seeing a material increase in supply coming out of Australia

"Prices are around US$107 from Newcastle, to put that in perspective, any price with an eight or nine in front of it is considered good," Stephen says.

"With demand at these prices, New Hope is strongly profitable. I think most coal producers in Australia will produce strong financial numbers in their first half results."

Stephen says the company is continuing to focus on expansion and gaining approvals for its Acland Stage 3 project and the possibility of bringing new coal mines in the Surat Basin online as soon as 2023.

Yancoal is also starting to chart a recovery a massive slump in its share price after it announced its intention to acquire Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley Operations and Mount Thorley Warkworth thermal coal mines.

Rio's rival, BHP, used its quarterly production announcement this week to spruik an expectation defying result for its energy coal division.

Production was up 8 per cent quarter on quarter, and up 4 per cent for the December 2017 half year from the previous corresponding period, with 14,029 kilotonnes produced during the December

Glencore has maintained its focus on thermal coal, telling Fairfax Media it is aiming to continue growth in the area, although it is still seeking to divest its Rolleston coal asset.

Coal mining regions are welcoming this revival of the industry and the flow-on social and economic effects it will have.

"This is most definitely a positive for the Singleton region," Singleton Mayor Sue Moore says. "The industry has been ticking upwards for the last six months, and we're seeing a turnaround, although it is slow. We expect to see this flow through to the local business sector over the next 12 months, beyond just the mining industry.

Newcastle, home of the largest coal port in the world, is looking beyond coal to future energy. ''The City of Newcastle recognises the role that coal plays in our local, state and national economy," Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says.

"The Newcastle and the Hunter Region has a proud history of coal mining, with the mining industry supporting thousands of local jobs for well over 100 years. We understand that coal will continue to be exported from the Port of Newcastle into the future; but Newcastle also has a proudly progressive history where our people demonstrate time and time again their ability to adapt with changing economic opportunity," she says.

Fat Prophets analyst David Lennox says the changing face of the world’s energy needs will eventually have a major impact on thermal coal, but the growth of renewables will not negate coal in the near to medium term.

“Even though we’re seeing significant interest for renewables, we’ll still see thermal coal power stations for a long time,” Mr Lennox told Fairfax Media.

This has been reinforced by the Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee, an energy policy announced late last year which sees coal-fired power generation still playing a major role in Australia’s energy landscape.

Mr Lennox says Australia’s higher quality thermal coal is being sought as its lower impurities means lower emissions when burnt in power plants.

“While we don’t consume significant quantities of coal in Australia, there is high demand from China and India.”

Whitehaven's chief executive Paul Flynn said Australia's higher quality coal and location so close to Asian customers has given it an edge. "Australia as a whole has done a good job rebasing its costs quickly as supply and demand has tightened," Mr Flynn said.

"What we've observed is very strong demand out of Asia fuelled by their demand for high-quality coal to fuel their supercritical power stations."

Another major Australian coal miner agreed, stating that significant growth is forecast from South East Asia.

“Thermal coal’s story hasn’t changed, we’ve always had an optimistic view of it in the medium to long-term. China’s domestic consumption even reached an all-time record last year,” the miner’s spokesman says.

A recent Credit Suisse analysis agrees noting that while much of the developed world is turning away from coal, there is still strong demand from South East Asian nations.

"These nations expect to add 32 to 56 gigawatts of coal-fired generation from 2015 to 2025. The high end of the range may represent increased coal demand of 150 million tonnes per annum," it says.

This is the focus for Whitehaven's Flynn. He says the coal outlook has been strong and exceeded many market expectations in the lead up to north Asia's winter period.

"A number of factors are helping to maintain these higher prices - China's draw on the seaborne thermal coal market is steady, demand for high-quality coals from South East Asia and the traditional Asian markets of Japan, Korea and Taiwan remains strong, reflecting buoyant economic conditions across Asia while a number of factors including Australian industrial relations issues and poor weather in Indonesia have limited supply response," Mr Flynn says.

"The outlook for thermal coal in the short to medium term is favourable."

MineLife's Gavin Wendt believes the combination of growth in China’s manufacturing sector and “an almost surprising level of discipline and fiscal management” is aiding a thermal coal revival.

“Thermal coal is trending at its highest level since 2016,” Mr Wendt told Fairfax Media. “This is mainly driven by manufacturing activity in China having a direct impact on coal demand here.”


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

21 January, 2018

Monarchists’ opposition to a referendum reveals their contempt for democracy (?)

The abusive article below by a JOHN SLATER published in a British periodical with libertarian and Irish sympathies does its cause little good.  Abuse and misrepresentation are rarely persuasive.  I am in fact quite amazed at the animus in the article.  Australian monarchists are mild  people driven by none of the passions that seem so common in other political fields, yet we are accused of a "raw disdain for popular democracy" etc.

And he writes as if Australia were still ruled by British officials.  We are not.  The Royal powers in Australia are exercised by the governor general, who is always a distinguished Australian.  One really wonders what the author below is talking about.  I suppose it's because he essentially has no case to make that he resorts to so much abuse.  Abuse is very commonly the resort of those who have no real argument

And he has no real argument because the issue he raises has already been settled.  Far from the monarchy and its supporters being undemocratic, we have already had fairly recently (in 1999) a referendum on whether Australia should remain a monarchy.  The result was a resounding affirmation of our present system.  In defiance of all the talking heads, 55% voted for the Monarchy. Even many people of non-British origin voted for it. In my home State of Queensland nearly two thirds voted for the Monarchy.

The most recent poll I have seen on the matter was in 2014 by ReachTel.  It showed just 39.4 per cent of Australians saying they support a republic.

It is people who insist that we should keep voting until we get the "right" result who are undemocratic and elitist

I have no intention of putting up an argument in favour of the monarchy as I put up rather a good one by someone else on 17th. (4th article). I had my say on the matter some time ago

And in passing I deplore the description of Prime Minister Turnbull as having a "rare fleck of courage".  His unassuming and compromising ways may create that impression but he has had amazing success in getting most of his legislative agenda through a very difficult Senate.  It could well be argued that only someone with Mr Turnbull's placatory style could have done that.  He is a good and successful face for Australia.

Almost 19 years since the last major push for an Australian republic, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull started 2018 with a rare fleck of courage by proposing a plebiscite to gauge public support for cutting ties with the monarchy.

For decades, polls have shown that Australians would prefer to have one of their own as head of state over a Brit born into the lap of pomp and privilege. Yet despite this, the PM’s announcement was pilloried by conservatives as a vanity project for an elite that is out of touch with the ‘bread and butter’ issues affecting the lives of ordinary people.

The head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, for instance, branded the suggestion ‘ridiculous’ in light of the more pressing problems of ‘energy prices, terrorism and ethnic gangs’.

But for all the talk of Turnbull being out of touch, these monarchists are driven by their own brand of elitism, just like their forebears for centuries before them. By fighting even the prospect of giving the public a vote on the future of Australian democracy, monarchists reveal their cynical belief that it’s beyond the wit of the everyman to decide for himself what shape his system of government takes, and who leads it.

This isn’t a debate about Australia’s logo and stationery, as one monarchist commentator glibly put it: a republic is about more than symbolism. As Australia found out in the 1970s, when first-term prime minister Gough Whitlam was sacked and replaced by a flick of governor-general Sir John Kerr’s pen, the powers of the queen’s unelected representative are not merely ceremonial.

Even if part of the case for a republic turns on symbolism, on questions that go to the core of a nation’s identity, symbolism does matter. On that score, the idea of a God-given right to rule, conferred by bloodline, not the ballot box, is completely at odds with Australia’s fiercely egalitarian attitude. Since the Gold Rush of the 1850s, Australia has cast aside the strictures of the English class system and embraced an ethos in which, as one historian famously put it, ‘Jack is as good as his master – and probably a good deal better’. Let’s face it: in today’s Australia, paying homage to a foreign royal family feels like a hangover from a bygone era.

While it is scarcely mentioned, Australia’s democracy is among the oldest in the world. Yet astoundingly, despite being directly elected by the people, its elected officials are still made to swear allegiance to the Queen. A republic would do away with this medieval heirloom and give long overdue recognition to the idea that the sole allegiance of elected officials should be to the people who elected them.

Monarchists frequently justify the relevance of the royals to the modern world by claiming they are role models that serve as an enduring icon of national unity. But once we peel back the pomp and pageantry, the royal family are little different to today’s celebrity class. Between Prince Charles’ eco-pieties on climate change and Prince Harry luxuriating with Barack Obama on the BBC, the royal family is now little different to low-rent reality TV.

Former PM Tony Abbott recently sought to beat down calls for a public vote by saying republicans will never win by running Australia down. He should heed his own words. By thumbing their nose at giving Australians the chance to choose who governs them, the monarchists lay bare their raw disdain for popular democracy.


Australia's jobs boom: employment numbers set historic mark

Kudos to Mr Turnbull

Employment has risen every month in a calendar year for the first time in four decades - and possibly the first time in history - after another 35,000 people ignored the summer slowdown and found jobs in December.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed 2017 was the first full year in which employment rose every month since the bureau began releasing monthly data in 1978.

NSW is doing the heavy lifting adding 140,000 jobs in 2017, outstripping the weight of its population, while Victoria is lagging behind, adding only 87,000 jobs.

The discrepancy is showing in the unemployment rates of the two states with NSW now on the precipice of the natural rate of unemployment at 4.8 per cent while Victoria hit 6.1 per cent in December.

"Full-time employment has now increased by around 322,000 persons since December 2016, and makes up the majority of the 393,000 net increase in employment over the period," said Australian Bureau of Statistics chief economist, Bruce Hockman.

December was the 15th straight month of job creation, the longest streak since 1993, and fears of a growing number of people looking for more hours and not finding it appear to be misplaced.

The underutilisation rate has fallen to 13.7 per cent, down from 14.7 per cent at the beginning of the year. Over the past year, hours worked per working age adult have also climbed from 85.3 per month to 86.6 per month.

The unprecedented growth was not enough to stop the unemployment rate rising slightly to 5.5 per cent, up from 5.4 per cent in November after an extra 20,000 people found themselves unemployed based on seasonally adjusted figures.

The labour force participation rate, which measures employment by the working aged population aged 15-64, rose to at 65.7 per cent, the highest it has been since January 2011, while women have continued their participation run to hit a record of 60.4 per cent.

The Australian dollar initially slipped around 0.3 cents on the release of the figures before regaining much of the lost ground. At 3.20pm AEDT, it was fetching around 79.55 US cents. Overnight, it had broken through 80 US cents to hit a four-month high.

Commonwealth Bank economist Gareth Aird described the figures as "phenomenal". "The big lift in employment over December once again bettered consensus [15,000+] and once again the underlying detail was robust," he said.

The market faces a tough ask maintaining the extraordinary rate of job creation, with the near 400,000 lift in 2017 unlikely to be recreated this year, as the size of Australia's economy naturally constrains growth.

"These figures should not provide, unfortunately, sufficient confidence that we're going to see better days for 1.8 million Australians, who are either underemployed or unemployed," said Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor.

Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash said the Turnbull government was investing in getting more Australians into work.

"The best form of welfare is a job," she said.

For policymakers the key test will be whether the run of full time jobs finally eventuates into wages growth which have been stuck at or below inflation at 1.8 per cent, making every day items more expensive for consumers.

The stubbornly low rate of growth for wages threatens to undermine half-a-century of belief in the Phillips Curve, which suggests higher employment must eventually lead to higher wages, and is continuing to frustrate both the Turnbull government and the Reserve Bank.


Miserable Greens would deny us all that we hold dear and cherish

By GRAHAM RICHARDSON, former Labor party numbers man.  He eventually discovered that there is no such thing as a happy Greenie.  Their demands are insatiable

There was a time when the Greens were all that their name suggests they should be. They were passionate about our environment and they fought really hard to protect Australia’s forests.

I was proud to be their ally in the noble endeavour of protecting rainforests and old-growth forests. I placed more than 20 per cent of Tasmania into World Heritage and, despite resolute opposition from the Bjelke-Petersen government in Queensland, I managed to list the rainforests of the Daintree region and the far north on the World Heritage register as well. Sadly, it did not take too long for me to realise that I could never do enough for them. No matter how much I achieved, they were always disappointed.

The Helsham inquiry was set up to finally settle which Tasmanian forests were to be protected. Many learned conservationists were disappointed at its outcome and I set about undoing the ­inquiry’s final report. It took a three-day cabinet meeting that grew pretty heated at times before a very close vote overturned that report. I was ecstatic and raced to share the news of this huge win for Tasmanian forests’ preservation. I rang Bob Brown, who could only express his disappointment at the cabinet not going far enough. The Greens could never be satisfied. For them it was all or nothing.

Brown, despite everything, was a tremendous voice for the environment and by far the best leader the Greens have had. The Greens began their life in Australia as a mainly Tasmanian group. They were able to export their fervour to the mainland on the back of an environmental purist in Brown.

He was never seen as a politician on the make or consumed by personal ambition. He projected decency and Australians responded. The Greens were able to achieve a national vote of 10 per cent very, very quickly. The problem is that they have never been able to increase that number.

They are stuck at 10 per cent ­because they no longer have the Greens purity of a Bob Brown. Since they stopped worrying about the trees and adopted the mantle of the true party of the left in Australia, they limited their ­horizons and seem determined to remain a minor party.

Sure, they will win inner-city seats in the parliament and if the Liberals think that the short-term gain of Labor losing a by-election in the seat of Batman in Victoria is more important than keeping out a Greens member who believes in everything the Liberals don’t, then the Greens will secure that victory in the next few months. The Greens will no doubt trumpet this as a major win and predict they will march on to greater glories. They won’t, of course. As long as they lean as far to the left as they do at present, they will ­remain on the fringes of power. They can rattle their sabres in the Senate and have a minor role in shaping legislation but real power will continue to elude them.

As long as they are determined to push issues that not only alienate the bulk of Australians but ­infuriate them as well, then their campaigns will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. One of the first ­indications that the Greens have fundamental difficulties in accepting the way the great majority of Australians live was when now-vanquished Queensland Green Larissa Waters took on the cause of changing the toys our children play with. She wanted to ban Barbie dolls because they were gender-specific. Little girls have played with dolls since the Son of God played on the wing for Jerusalem. I have managed to live my 68 years seeing absolutely nothing wrong with little girls playing with dolls. And even if I am ­accused of being a truly dreadful person, I readily concede that I would not have been comfortable with my son playing with dolls. Fortunately, he never did.

On the last day at my son’s school last month, there was a Christmas carols evening with a religious theme held at St ­Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in Sydney. Silent Night still sounds like a wonderful song to me and the children and their parents had a terrific time. The harmonies, the musicianship and the most brilliant music teachers brought songs we had all been familiar with since we were children to life yet again. This was a great Christmas celebration following a great Christmas tradition. The Greens don’t want us to have these celebrations.

Tasmanian senator Nick McKim and a few of his mates drew up a non-denominational card to be sent out at Christmas. Why do these miserable bastards want to attack how we play and what we celebrate? The tradition of sending Christmas cards has been breaking down for some years. As a kid I remember my family ­received and sent a hundred cards. Now it is only a few. The Greens, though, should not read into the decline in cards anything about celebrating Christmas ­itself. That tradition is alive and kicking. The Greens can only stand outside the mainstream if they continue to deride it.

Today’s leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, surprised ­no one this week when, in line with the black-armband view of history they peddle, he called for Australia Day to be moved away from the commemoration of the landing of the First Fleet at Botany Bay. Again, he stands against what a huge majority of Australians want and believe in.

I was at the harbour in 1988 when the 200th anniversary was being commemorated. There were so many boats, from the workers’ tinnies to the billionaires’ luxury yachts, out that day that there was very little space on the water. Australians voted with their feet and came out in their millions to be a part of it. The Greens will never dampen the way we feel about Australia Day.

Di Natale said his party would take it up with their representatives in local government. As far as most of us are concerned, this will merely mean that a few nut­tier councils will lose their right to conduct citizenship ceremonies on this day. By the way, the number of people who seek to have their Australian citizenship conferred on Australia Day itself speaks volumes for the popularity of the day.

Australia Day can be a time when we celebrate the wonderful country in which we live and renew our vows to do better with indigenous health and education.

We cannot roll over and allow the Greens to tell us how to live and what to think.


Indigenous Affairs Minister says Indigenous people haven't raised Australia Day date issue with him

It's only a concern for politicized Aborigines who have been radicalized by white Leftists

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion claims not a single Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has approached him about changing the date of Australia Day.

Earlier this week, one of the Prime Minister's Indigenous affairs advisers, Chris Sarra, told 7.30 holding Australia Day on January 26 was dividing Australians and excluding Indigenous people.

Senator Scullion said it was "good to have heard that advice" from Dr Sarra, but that "outside of Chris", no-one had raised it with him.

"He'd be the only Indigenous Australian who has said [this] to me," he told AM.

"This is not something that comes up at all.

"I can tell you there would be no-one, as a fact."

Senator Scullion is a senator for the Northern Territory and has held the Indigenous Affairs portfolio since 2013.

He acknowledged Indigenous "culture was smashed" after the First Fleet's arrival at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

But Senator Scullion said many Aboriginal people celebrated Australia Day, and shifting the date was "a very low priority certainly on my agenda".

"If you want to divide the nation, this is how we go down that line," he said.


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

19 January, 2018

Top cop says Sudanese youths are overrepresented in aggravated burglary

HOME invasions have become the “crime of choice” for young Sudanese offenders in Melbourne, says one of Victoria’s top cops.

Census data shows people born in Sudan make up about 0.1 per cent of Victoria’s population — yet Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) data shows that 8.6 per cent of aggravated burglaries in the state are committed by Sudanese youths.

Andrew Crisp, Victoria Police’s Deputy Commissioner, told 7.30 last night that the statistics reflect what the officers have seen on the ground.

“We’ve seen Sudanese youth become involved in aggravated burglaries,” he told the show. “A lot of the time it’s to steal keys, so they can steal cars to commit further crimes.

“It has become the crime of choice for this particular group.”

An aggravated burglary is basically a home invasion — meaning somebody is at home when the offence is committed.

“We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years now and it’s about network offending,” he told 7.30. “So, it’s not that you’ve got a core group of six, generally young, men committing crime over a number of nights.

“What we have seen is that you might see half a dozen involved in an aggravated burglary, steal a car and commit some further offences that night.

“The next night, you might have two of those offenders, but there could be three or four new ones that have come from other parts of Melbourne — networking through social media.”

He said many members of Apex had been arrested, but an area of concern was young people going into prison only to be influenced by the gang’s members who were already serving time.

However, Deputy Commissioner Crisp echoed previous statements made by Victoria Police members about Menace to Society — dismissing them as a ragtag group of thugs.

“Menace to Society is a tag, which has been used by a number of different groups over the years,” he told the ABC.

“We suggest that this is not an organised gang in terms of any organisation and structure.”

Despite a string of high-profile incidents involving African youths, the overall crime rate in Victoria fell for the first time in six years last year — according to CSA.

The agency released its latest data report in December — which stated that overall criminal incidents recorded in Victoria was down 4.8 per cent and there were significant downward trends in many crime types.

The CSA told a federal parliamentary inquiry on migrant settlement outcomes that about 1.5 per cent of criminal offenders in Victoria were Sudanese.

The agency’s data for the year to June 2017 shows Sudanese-born offenders were allegedly involved in 98 aggravated burglaries in the state, compared to 540 Australian-born offenders.

For the same period, 45 serious assaults were allegedly committed by Sudanese-born offenders, compared to 1462 Australian-born offenders.

The data shows, unsurprisingly, that the majority of crimes in Victoria are committed by Australians. It also shows Sudanese immigrants are over-represented in the crime statistics.

However, Anthony Kelly, the executive officer of Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, said the figures should be treated with caution.

He told The Guardian the Sudanese community in Australia had a much younger average age and were subject to issues such as poverty and a lack of engagement in work and school — which increased the likelihood of being involved in crime.

The issue of “gang crime” caused an awkward moment for the Prime Minister yesterday in a cringe-worthy joint press conference with Victoria’s acting Labor Premier James Merlino — which was supposed to promote funding for Geelong.

“We don’t want to have an awkward discussion here, I think James understands that the responsibility for keeping Victorians safe on the street is the Victorian government’s,” Mr Turnbull said.

“(Opposition Leader) Matt Guy has reforms that he wants to advance that’ll be fought out in the state election.”

That prompted Mr Merlino to fire back with “facts” about the state Opposition stalling stricter firearms laws in Parliament.

“Your counterpart, ... Matthew Guy and the Liberal Party, are stalling that legislation and seeking to water it down,” Mr Merlino said.

“So the best thing you can do, Malcolm, for Victoria is get on the phone, talk to the mobster’s mate, Matthew Guy, and your Liberal Party to support that legislation.”

Last year it was revealed Mr Guy had a lobster dinner with alleged mafia boss Tony Madafferi.


‘Tens of thousands’ to join Australia Day activist WAR

Indigenous activists calling for the abolition of Australia Day expect tens of thousands of protesters to swamp Melbourne’s CBD next week, saying a groundswell of support is building for more drastic action than changing the date of the national holiday.

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) — which refuses to engage with police or Melbourne City Council to co-ordinate the ‘‘Invasion Day’’ rally — anticipate a protest larger than last year, which drowned out the city’s official Australia Day parade, encouraged by vocal support from some Melbourne councils.

Organiser Tarneen Onus-Williams said the “change the date” campaign to switch Australia Day from January 26 had overshadowed ongoing issues relating to Aborigines and risked becoming a token gesture akin to Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations.

“People think just change the date and it’s going to be fine,” said Ms Onus-Williams, who identifies as a Yigar Gunditjmara and Bindal woman.

“People say they’re celebrating a great country. Celebrating a great country — Australia — has come at a loss for so many people, especially Aboriginal people. “Most people who think this is a great country are white people.”

Ms Onus-Williams said last year’s decision by Yarra, Darebin and Moreland councils in Melbourne’s inner-northern suburbs to drop Australia Day cele­brations was a significant sign of solidarity.

Yarra and Darebin councils were consequently stripped of their ability to hold citizenship ceremonies, while Moreland council received a warning from the federal government.

Councils in Fremantle and Hobart have also expressed support for changing the date of Australia Day. Other rallies condemning Australia Day — smaller than the Melbourne event — will be held in other capital cities on Friday week.

Fellow WAR organiser Arika Waulu said the group made a conscious decision not to consult police or Melbourne City Council about the upcoming rally, which last year drew between 10,000 and 50,000 people, according to varying estimates, blocking traffic as protesters staged a sit-in.

“As sovereign people we don’t seek authority to walk on our own land,” she said. “We want it (Australia Day) to be abolished until there’s something to celebrate. It’s never going to be OK to celebrate it on any other day.”

A City of Melbourne spokesman said peaceful protests of a political or religious nature were allowed under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, though roads could be closed only by council, police or VicRoads.

Greens leader Richard Di Nat­ale will join the rally as it leaves Parliament House, as will Greens MP Lidia Thorpe, who has called for Australian and Aboriginal flags on government buildings to fly at half-mast that day.

Ms Waulu said the group had received threats from some far-right groups.

Nationalist groups True Blue Crew and the United Patriots Front are organising a beach party at the St Kilda foreshore on Australia Day, prompting Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss to yesterday warn that alcohol consumption and rowdy behaviour would not be tolerated.

Ms Voss said the council did not issue permits for events on Australia Day because it wanted the beach and other public areas to be accessible to everyone.

The beach was trashed by 5000 drunken revellers on Christmas Day last year.


More Australian graduates head into part-time jobs as economic chill persists

Economic chill my foot.  Employment grew markedly last year.  The economy delivered a near record 380,000 new jobs last year — most of them full-time.  The problem is useless degrees and the continual dumbing down of what is taught

Impact of global financial crisis and increased supply of university-educated candidates leaves 38% of graduates in part-time work

University leavers in Australia are increasingly settling for part-time employment after graduation as a flood of job seekers holding bachelor degrees dilute their own buying power.

On Friday the latest graduate outcomes survey revealed that the last decade has seen a rise of 17 percentage points increase in the number of university leavers in part-time employment, while the number of recent graduates in full-time work remains stubbornly below below the levels of the global financial crisis.

It’s what the survey authors say is part of a “pronounced trend towards part-time employment among graduates”. Between 2008 and 2017 the proportion of employed graduates working part-time increased by 17 percentage points to 38% of all graduates.

While the shift to part-time employment is part of a broader trend in the labour market, it’s particularly pronounced amongst university leavers.

For example in 2017 male graduates were far more likely to be employed part-time than the overall male workforce. Part-time employment was 32% for male graduates compared with 18.7% for employed men overall.

Phil Lewis, the director of the Centre for Labour Market Research at the University of Canberra, said the trend to part-time employment was down to supply and demand.

Between 2009 and 2016 domestic undergraduate enrolments grew by 33%, which Lewis said was have an impact on employer choice.

“There’s a certain number of people and a certain number of jobs,” he said. “When the economy is booming the queue becomes very short so employers take whoever they can get [but] the huge increase in graduates since the introduction of the demand-driven system just means the queue gets bigger.

“These people will get a job eventually but at the moment new graduates are right at the back because employers can pick whoever they want.”

The survey also found that since 2008 the full-time employment rate among bachelor degree holders has fallen from 85% to 71.8%.

Bruce Guthrie, a research manager from Graduate Careers Australia, said: “In a way it’s the unfortunate timing of an increase in graduate output coinciding with a reduced demand for new graduates.

“I used to hold out hopes that the situation would return to pre-GFC levels of strong employment outcomes for new graduates but it looks like the GFC has dislocated many industries and patterns of doing business world-wide and it might be that we’ll never get back to those levels of demand.”

The survey comes as the federal education minister Simon Birmingham engages in a war with universities over funding.

In its mid-year budget update the government announced it will cut $2.2bn from universities predominantly through a two-year freeze in commonwealth grants funding for teaching and learning – effectively the end of the demand-driven system.

The minister has signalled that he will seek to force universities to improve graduate outcomes by attaching performance-based measures including graduate outcomes to funding.

He said the survey demonstrated the benefits of “ensuring universities are more accountable and transparent about the job prospects of their graduates”.

“For example the results show that 82% of graduates with degrees in teaching secured full-time employment within four months of finishing, with the figure dipping to 60% for graduates in the creative arts and communications fields,” he said.

But Catriona Jackson, Universities Australia acting chief executive, pointed out the figures only accounted for graduate outcomes four months after graduating.

“The data shows that graduates, like everyone entering the labour market, need time to establish in their careers. But this immediate outlook can shift quickly – within three years of finishing their studies, nine in 10 graduates are employed full-time,” she said.


Now political correctness is making its way into drivers' licences

The Queensland Government has scrapped a requirement for gender to be shown on all driver's licences, after complaints from the LGBTI community.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) confirmed that height was also removed as a requirement, after concerns the collection of personal information was potentially discriminatory.

However, the Department said the move towards gender-less licences was due to the need to make driver's and marine licences compliant with new anti-discrimination laws, according to the Courier Mail.

Another reason for change was due to improvements in technology, a spokesman for Roads Minister Mark Bailey said.

'TMR has received complaints and suggestions from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community about displaying gender/sex (M or F) on TMR cards,' a department document said.

Other information, such as eye and hair colour, is also being removed from records attached to licences.

'TMR has received feedback that the collection of personal information (eye and hair colour, complexion, height) may be perceived as discriminatory by some members of the community.'

Police will still have access to information on gender through databases, and drivers will still be asked to nominate their gender when applying for a licence.

The TMR stopped recording people's gender and height for all new and renewed licences in October 2016.


Is it really so difficult to deport criminal non-citizens? Experts say it's actually easy

Amid the soul-searching about Sudanese gangs and organised crime, many commentators and observers have been left scratching their heads about why it seems to so hard to deport criminal non-citizens.

A narrative has formed in which the courts and crafty lawyers regularly stymie the efforts of the federal government and police to rid the streets of thugs.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has lashed out at the Victorian government, saying it has not done enough to stem "African gang violence".

Three such cases have recently come to light. One involves a 25-year-old South Sudanese armed robber who came to Australia on a refugee visa - he had his deportation order put on hold by a Federal Court judge because his siblings might be negatively affected.

An apparent Apex gang leader, Isaac Gatkuoth, served 16 months in jail for a violent carjacking while high on ice and is now fighting his deportation order. In another example, a South Sudanese criminal was granted a reprieve because he wasn't given adequate notice of his visa cancellation.

Such instances compel particular angst on talkback radio and in other forums that lend themselves to consternation about law and order. At times, cabinet ministers have joined in the criticism of weak judges and pesky appeals tribunals.

The reality is somewhat different. Judges are not overturning decisions to deport criminals - in fact, they do not even have that power. They are simply examining whether the minister has followed proper legal process in making his decision.

Here's an example. Someone who is not an Australian citizen commits his third crime and the minister - or a departmental delegate - decides to cancel his visa and deport him. If the minister makes the decision personally, there is no right of review at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. If it was a delegate, the man can try his luck at the AAT.

In either case, the man can go to the Federal Court for judicial review. This is not an appeal. The judge cannot reinstate his visa, but she can find that the law wasn't properly followed - such as a failure to even consider the impact of deportation upon the man's family.

"What the court does is it looks at the legality of the decision that has been made," explains Mary Crock, professor of law at Sydney University. "It's [then] open to the government or the tribunal to go back and effectively make the same decision but in a legally correct way, taking into account all relevant considerations."

In other words, it doesn't change anything. The minister will almost always make the same decision again, but in a more legally robust way.

"All the minister has to do is make the decision correctly and the person gets deported," says Nicholas Poynder, a Sydney-based barrister specialising in immigration. "If the decision is legally erroneous then the court is entitled to set that aside and return it to the decision-maker to do properly."

Mr Poynder argues the government actually has "extraordinary power" in immigration cases. For one thing, the minister (at this time Peter Dutton) has the power to set aside a decision of the AAT and substitute a new one - basically, he can overrule the reviewing authority. This happened to one of Mr Poynder's clients two days before Christmas. "I find that unfair," he says.

Neither does Mr Poynder believe the AAT is a soft touch, hellbent on reversing the government's decisions. He says it is like any tribunal - some members will be more sympathetic than others, and will approach a particular set of facts from different perspectives. In all these cases, the minister is represented at the tribunal hearing anyway.

Critically, it is also the case that most of these people are behind bars while their legal appeals are underway - they are not out on the streets. If someone's visa is cancelled while they are in jail, they go straight into immigration detention at the conclusion of their prison term. If they are not required to attend a Federal Court hearing in Sydney or Melbourne, they may be held at Christmas Island or in Western Australia.

"They're not a threat to the Australian community at that time," says Carina Ford, who runs a large migration law agency based in Footscray. "These people have completed their sentences, [but] they're still in detention."

Ms Ford, who regularly works on cases involving Sudanese and African migrants, says a black-and-white view of these matters is too simplistic. She believes decision-makers should take into account the impact of deportation on families, as well as the risks of returning a person to the country from which they fled, and whether they were given enough support in the first place.

"When you're dealing with it at the coalface, you can see the personal impact on families," she says. "This concept where you can simply send them back and get rid of them is just not accurate."


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

18 January, 2018

"Green" South Australia relies on a fleet of diesel generators to keep the lights on

Britain does too.  Diesels put out a lot of particulate pollution -- as in clouds of blue smoke -- but that's OK apparently. Anybody who expects rationality from Greenies will be sadly disappointed

SCORCHING temperatures of 41C for Adelaide on both Thursday and Friday have triggered a warning of low power reserves, as the State Government puts its diesel generators on standby.

The Bureau for Meteorology says Adelaide faces a maximum 37C today and last night upped its predictions to 41C on both Thursday and Friday.

The Australian Energy Market Operator is now warning of an elevated blackout risk for SA on Thursday evening. But AEMO and the Government stress it doesn’t mean blackouts will occur.

AEMO has a three-stage system to warn states of emerging blackout risks. The “lack of reserve 1” notice issued on Tuesday is the lowest alert level, meaning blackouts could occur if there were unexpected problems with infrastructure or demand was higher than expected.

Operators of the state’s largest power station, the gas-fired plant on Torrens Island, have previously warned it is nearing the end of its practical life and losing reliability.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said he was ready to respond to the heat with measures in Labor’s energy plan, including flicking on emergency diesel generators.

“We will, of course, monitor the situation and be ready to use our new ministerial powers of direction over the market or our state-owned power plant if required,” he said.

“That is considered very unlikely at this stage. We launched our energy plan to boost local power supply and improve grid security, and importantly, the independent market operator has said that our plan has put SA in a good position this summer.”

The period of blackout risk is from 5.30pm to 6pm Thursday — the crossover point where workplaces and factories are still consuming large amounts of power as some workers return home to switch on airconditioners and appliances. It also often coincides with a drop off in production from wind farms and solar panels.

AEMO figures indicate SA will use all the energy generated within its borders as demand peaks on Thursday afternoon, while imports from Victoria ensure extra supply is available.

SA’s only other low reserve warning of the summer was in early December and is heading into its highest electricity demand period of the year, with temperatures rising and many workplaces and factories firing back up after the new year break. With a state election in March, the Government faces a political test of its energy plan. The statewide blackout in September 2016 was followed by a forced outage in February last year, in which 90,000 homes and businesses were temporarily shut down.


Black groper traumatizes pretty jogger

A man who was caught on camera allegedly groping a stranger has been charged with two counts of sexual assault - but one was for allegedly groping another female jogger a year ago.

The 40-year-old Gold Coast man was arrested by police on Tuesday, accused of repeatedly grabbing 24-year-old Jesse Ratu's backside as she unlocked the door to her Southport apartment on Sunday morning.

In the previous incident the man allegedly groped another woman in nearby Hollywell on January 17, 2017.

His arrest came almost exactly one year after he allegedly groped another female jogger in nearby Hollywell on January 17, 2017.

The man is due to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on February 6.

Charges were laid after CCTV footage emerged on Monday showing Ms Ratu being approached by a man from behind before allegedly being grabbed on her backside five-times.

The man was then seen smiling into cameras after performing the alleged 'disgusting' assault.

'He said: "Sorry, I just had to do it, you have the best a***",' the mother-of-two told Nine News. 

The terrified woman allegedly told the man 'don't f***ing touch me' before running inside and telling her partner Brendan Wilson what happened.

The sales assistant said despite Mr Wilson running outside to confront the man, the offender had already fled the area.

Ms Ratu remembered feeling too scared to turn back out of fear she would be picked up and 'stolen', and said she now felt too traumatised to walk outside alone.

'We've only been here for six months,' Ms Ratu said. 'We're now thinking about moving. I've always lived in Southport but never lived down this end.' 

An image of the man, who is described to be of African descent, about 1.8m with facial hair and short black hair, was sent out by police in the area.


'Let's stop rewriting history': Pauline Hanson weighs into the debate around changing the date of Australia Day and urges a stand against 'vocal minorities'

Pauline Hanson has weighed into the debate about moving Australia Day, likening the idea of changing the public holiday to renaming a stadium.

The One Nation leader said the idea of shifting the national day from January 26 to another day to appease left-wing activists was 'rewriting history' and urged a stand be taken against 'vocal minorities'.

She likened the symbolic gesture, proposed by the Greens, to the renaming of Brisbane's old Lang Park Stadium and Queensland's Bruce Highway.

'The Bruce Highway will always be the Bruce Highway to me, not this new Pacific Coast Way they've changed the signage to,' she told her 219,000 Facebook followers on Tuesday.

'Lang Park will always be Lang Park, not Suncorp Stadium. 'And Australia Day will always be Australia Day.'

Senator Hanson's intervention in the Australia Day debate comes a day after Greens leader Richard Di Natale likened the arrival of British First Fleet in Sydney Harbour, in January 1788, to 'genocide'.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott on Monday tweeted there were '364 other days' for the Greens to be 'politically correct' while his successor Malcolm Turnbull has described the call to shift the national day as 'divisive'.

The debate about moving Australia Day has also coincided with former Labor leader Mark Latham making a campaign video with indigenous Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price to 'Save the Date'.


Simple reason negative gearing will never be scrapped

DESPITE ongoing debate, politicians will never scrap negative gearing for one simple reason, Australian economist Saul Eslake has said.

The tax concession has been a key driver in rising housing prices, providing incentives for investors and tax relief for those who rent out their properties.

It’s also been partly responsible for locking thousands of Australians out of the property market, effectively crushing the great Australian dream, and has contributed to the widely acknowledged housing crisis for the same reasons.

Extraordinary property prices have put pressure on politicians to take action on housing affordability, with stripping the negative gearing tax concession considered one of the simplest and most effective options to drive down prices and open up the market to millennials.

But while it might seem like a no-brainer for those of us desperate to join the homeowners’ club, Mr Eslake explains, it would be one of the dumbest political decisions possible.

And It all comes down to votes.

“On average, about 100,000 people successfully become home buyers in every given year. They would obviously like the government to do things to make housing cheaper, more affordable for them,” he told ABC’s 7.30.

“There are over two million people who own at least one investment property, and the last thing they want to [see] a government to do is make housing cheaper and more affordable for people who don’t currently own housing.

“Even the least intelligent of our politicians can do that maths: 100,000 people who want cheaper housing versus two million people who want housing to get more expensive.”

Economist Saul Eslake. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones Source: News Corp Australia

Despite this clear-cut argument, debate continues to rage among our major political parties over what to do with negative gearing.

Federal Labor is currently pushing to scrap the controversial tax concession, which Paul Keating did as treasurer in the 1980s, only to have it reinstated by then prime minister Bob Hawke a short time later.

It has seized on research presented at a Reserve Bank of Australia workshop which found eliminating negative gearing would benefit renters and owner-occupiers and raise the number of Australians owning their own homes, but the government has dismissed the paper as “preliminary and incomplete”.

The change would have a minimum impact on the economy while curbing the appetite of investors and the top 20 per cent of earners for owning multiple properties, the paper, based on economic modelling by Melbourne University researchers, predicted. The study said 75 per cent of Australian households would be better off if the policy was ditched.

An RBA report says three-quarters of households would be better off without negative gearing. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Last week NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was criticised for ignoring advice from her Treasury officials that the Federal Government should conduct a comprehensive study of negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements “and consider alternative policies that would improve outcomes for Australians”.

Confidential federal Treasury advice published earlier this month contradicted the Turnbull Government’s claims that changing negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount would act like a “sledgehammer” on the Australian economy.

Federal Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, who labelled the Melbourne University paper “preliminary and incomplete”, said Labor can’t argue negative gearing and capital gains tax reforms would both make houses more affordable and have no impact on prices.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the research shows Australian households would be better off.

“We have seen case after case of experts calling for negative gearing to be reformed,” Mr Bowen told reporters in western Sydney on Saturday.

“What negative gearing reform would do is take the heat out of the housing market and put a more level playing field in place for first home buyers, change the mix for purchases of housing and give people a chance.”


The inconvenient truth is that catastrophists are wrong

It should come as a great relief to know the freezing temperatures recently experienced in the northern hemisphere do not signal an end to global warming.

Imagine if mankind’s increasingly costly attempts to arrest CO2 emissions were unnecessary. That the misallocation of productive resources, prolonging the misery of the world’s most vulnerable people, was nothing more than a cynical ideological exercise?

Hopefully, those global warming doubters in Florida watching frozen iguanas falling stiff from the trees now know that while they were freezing, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, little old Penrith in Sydney, Australia, was the warmest spot on the planet, recording its highest temperature ever, having “broken the all-time maximum temperature record for … the Sydney metropolitan area”.

Well, perhaps in all that excitement the bureau can be forgiven for overlooking the fact Penrith Lakes started recording temperatures only in 1995 and for missing a much higher temperature recorded in nearby Richmond in 1939. But they were right. It was hot.

In a hurried piece in Fairfax publications, the Climate Council of Australia’s Will Steffen throws hot water on any misconceptions that may have been drawn from abnormal snowfalls in Britain, Switzerland and Japan, the record-breaking cold snap in Canada and the US, and the expansion of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

He says: “Terms like ‘global warming’ and the mental images they trigger can be misleading when people attempt to understand what is happening to the climate. A far better term is ‘climate disruption’, which captures the real nature of the vast array of changes, many of them abrupt and unexpected, that are occurring.”

So fire and ice, it’s to be expected.

Of course you won’t be surprised to learn Steffen claims “the climate disruption we are increasingly experiencing is not natural. It is caused by the heat-trapping gases we humans are pouring into the atmosphere primarily by the burning of coal, oil and gas.”

On the day Steffen’s opinion piece appeared, this newspaper republished Matt Ridley’s article in The Times claiming “the Earth is very slowly slipping back into a proper ice age”. This confirms research by Henrik Svensmark, Australia’s David Evans and others, who correlated low solar activity (fewer sunspots) and increased cloud cover (as modulated by cosmic rays), with a cooling climate.

Indeed, last year scientists submitted 120 papers linking historical and modern climate change to variations in solar activity.

Steffen wasn’t among them. He says: “Whole ecosystems are succumbing to (human-induced) climate disruption. In 2016 unusually dry and hot conditions triggered massive fires in Tasmania’s World Heritage forests, while ocean circulation patterns have moved ­unprecedented underwater heatwaves around the world, driving the tragic coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.’’

Yet the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt, dismisses many of the claims that he says “misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Peter Ridd from James Cook University goes further, saying: “We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated, and this is a great shame.”

Steffen’s work could fit this description. He spends much time pushing eco-catastrophism. “Climate disruption” he says “brings growing risks of large-scale migration and conflict as people, particularly the most vulnerable, are forced to deal with increasingly difficult conditions where they live. Some security analysts warn that climate disruption will dwarf terrorism and other conventional threats if present trends continue or worsen.

“Had enough of climate disruption? Then let’s leave our 20th-century thinking behind and get on with the job of rapidly building innovative, clever, carbon-neutral 21st-century societies.”

But Ridley questions the influence of carbon dioxide. He reminds us that: “In 1895 the Swede, Svante Arrhenius, one of the scientists who first championed the greenhouse theory, suggested that the ice retreated because carbon dioxide levels rose, and advanced because they fell. If this was true, then industrial emissions could head off the next ice age. There is indeed a correlation in the ice cores between temperature and carbon dioxide, but inconveniently it is the wrong way round: carbon dioxide follows rather than leads temperature downward when the ice returns.”

But where would manmade global warming “science” be if it relied on just facts? For decades, climate science has been plagued by scandals, deceit and the confessions of whistleblowers.

Penrith’s hyped recording is not new. Scientist and long-time BOM critic Jennifer Marohasy has been calling for an audit and urging Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg “to inform the World Meteorological Organisation that the temperatures recorded by our bureau are not consistent with calibration, nor any international standard”, and, to “direct the bureau to desist from announcing new record hot days”.

Still, institutionalised data bias is a handy default for radical-left eco-catastrophists who have a tendency to extract worst-case scenarios from every weather event.

But despite their best efforts, in the public’s eyes their story is wearing thin. There have been too many false predictions and unwarranted alarmism. People are wising up to the reality that climate science has become an unfalsifiable ideology and resent having their moral conscience questioned should they disagree.

If Ridley is right and the earth is slowly slipping back into a proper ice age, it will be literally cold comfort, not to mention lethal, to keep passing it off as climate disruption.

To survive such an event, our successors will need a plentiful supply of cheap, reliable energy, impossible given today’s intelligentsia’s religious objection to low-cost fossil and nuclear fuels.

It’s not carbon dioxide that threatens us with extinction but blind ideology dressed up as science.


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

17 January, 2018

Australia Day trolls target indigenous activist over support for existing commemoration

Leftist hate never stops. It's Leftists, not Aborigines who want the Australia Day date changed

Former Northern Territory politician Bess Price has hit out at anti-Australia Day activists for fuelling cyber hate towards her daughter after she pushed to keep the national holiday on January 26.

The Australian revealed this morning that Indigenous Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price has been targeted on social media since she helped former federal Labor leader Mark Latham launch a “Save Australia Day” ad campaign against those arguing it should be moved to a less contentious date.

In a Facebook post, Bess Price said the online vitriol directed at her daughter for “having a different opinion to those who want to remain in their victimhood mentality” was “disgusting”.

“I’m appalled,” she wrote. “All the ‘Welcome to Country’, all the ‘smoking ceremonies’ and all the made up bullshit rituals about ‘pay our respects to elders past and present’ is just one big lie! Shame shame shame!”

She criticised indigenous Australians for bringing their fellow countrymen down, taking aim at former deputy NT chief minister Marion Scrymgour.

Ms Scrymgour has suggested Jacinta Price is preparing to enter federal parliament to replace Nigel Scullion as an NT senator, and stressed that opposing voices “shouldn’t be quiet”.

“The voices in the communities that she continually bad mouths should have a voice too. She is a dud and our mob can see through that,” Ms Scrymgour said in a Facebook post.


Jacinta Price has been subjected to a torrent of vile social media abuse from anti-Australia Day activists over her push to keep the national day on January 26, including wishing her a “painful death” and insulting her disabled nephew.

The Alice Springs councillor said she had been “disgusted to my core” by the online messages she had received, and blamed “middle-class” Australians with indigenous backgrounds for fuelling the cyber hate.

Jacinta Price said the majority of Aborigines living in remote areas did not care about the date of Australia Day nor hold grudges against “white Australians”.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine described the abuse levelled at Ms Price as “disgraceful” and said the public debate over Australia Day was not a first-order issue for Aboriginal communities.

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale yesterday stepped up the minor party’s opposition to celebrating the national day on January 26, describing it as his top issue this year and saying he had told more than 100 Greens councillors across the country they would have his full support to launch campaigns aimed at moving celebrations to another date.

Senator Di Natale said he hoped to build on the momentum of the Greens-led Yarra and Darebin councils in Melbourne and the Fremantle council in Western Australia, all of which shifted Australia Day celebrations last year.

Mr Mundine, who personally believes the date should be changed, described the Greens’ ­renewed push to change the date of Australia Day as a joke. “I’m with Aboriginal communities every month and changing the date isn’t number one, two, three, four, fifth on their agenda,” Mr Mundine said.

“It is education, jobs, it is to get business activity happening, and to get better healthcare.

“If the Greens were fair dinkum they would concentrate on these issues rather than something that is not going to make a difference to anyone.”

Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday said he was disappointed by growing calls to change the date of Australia Day, as the government vowed to ban citizenship ceremonies in council areas that would not hold them on January 26, the date the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour.

“A free country debates its history, it does not deny it,” the Prime Minister said. “I’m disappointed by those who want to change Australia Day, seeking to take a day which unites Australia and Australians and turn it into one which will divide us. Australia Day is a day to come together and celebrate what unites us, what inspires us, what gives all of us reason to be proud that we are Australian.”

Ms Price said she had received at least 80 abusive comments after posting about Australia Day on Facebook, including a message which said: “how bout you f..king die a painful death u sell out cocanut (sic)”.

She told The Australian: “A lot of them are likely to be middle class, they are definitely not from the Territory; they are from other parts of the country and it really exposes the amount of hatred and disdain that I think is hindering progress for Aboriginal people.

“It displays the divide between those that claim to be Aboriginal and Aboriginal people in remote communities. “Bush mob just wouldn’t ­behave or talk in such a way.”

Mr Mundine, former chairman of the Prime Minister’s indigenous advisory council under Tony Abbott and Mr Turnbull, said he had also received abuse from “academic, educated people sitting in Sydney and Melbourne” because of his views on indigenous issues.

“It is totally disgraceful,” Mr Mundine said. “This is coming from people who claim to be against racism, who claim to be against all this bigotry and yet they come out with the most bigoted racial taunts you will see.”

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said it was extraordinary that the Greens had made the date of Australia Day a priority, describing the party as being out of step with mainstream Australia. “Last year elements in the NSW Greens were advocating the burning of the Australian flag,” Mr Tudge said.

“On Australia Day we rightly celebrate the three core features of Australia: our indigenous heritage, our British foundation and our multicultural character.”

Mr Abbott tweeted yesterday: “There are 364 other days a year for the Greens to be politically correct. Why can’t they just ­accept that Jan 26 is the best available day to celebrate all that’s good about life in Australia.”

Bill Shorten, who previously said he would not support changing the date of Australia Day, yesterday would not comment on the Greens renewed push.

In the West Australian surf and wine region of Margaret River south of Perth, Greens mayor Pamela Townshend ­refused to follow Senator Di Natale’s request and impose an alternate date for Australia Day.

Ms Townshend said she had listened to the views of local indigenous men and women — the Wadandi people — as part of preparations for the council’s reconciliation action plan and so far she did not sense that changing the date of Australia Day was their priority. “They haven’t said ‘You have to change the date’; I haven’t felt a big groundswell about this,” she said. “I don’t have a big political agenda over it.”

Ms Townshend will attend three free Australia Day barbecues on January 26 in the Augusta-Margaret River shire.

Ms Price said she had also been targeted by Facebook page Shut Down Australia, following ­reports she might enter federal parliament if Nationals senator Nigel Scullion left.

“This would mean that the modern-day blacktracker would use her comprador white ­supremacy agenda on Blackfellas Australia wide,” it said. “This would place thousands of our people’s lives at risk. Genocide Alert!” [Note the use of Marxist jargon: "comprador"]


End of a free ride for electric cars?

In 2018, Australia's roads are plagued with problems: the long-term decline in the road death toll has slowed, congestion is tipped to increase and long commutes are linked to poor mental health.

And now a multi-billion-dollar road funding black hole looms.

It's caused by the growing popularity of fuel-efficient cars, prompting a multi-generational reset to national roads policy which will change how you pay to drive.

For the people who rely most on their vehicles, that means trouble.

Australians are big users of roads, and they pay for the privilege … even if most don't know exactly how.

Car is by far the most common way to get to work. About two out of three travel to work this way. And that number is increasing — it's up by more than half a million since 2011.

Behind the wheel, pulling out from your garage onto the street, it might seem like access to roads is free.

But the average vehicle is actually charged more than $1,300 by state and federal governments each year, according to information from the Productivity Commission.

That's on top of fees paid directly for toll roads or parking.

The largest component is fuel excise — the tax paid on every litre of petrol, of about 40 cents — which goes to the Federal Government.

All up, governments spend approximately the same amount of money on road infrastructure as they receive from drivers.

At more than $12 billion of new engineering work done for the public sector per year, it's greater than the spending on energy, telecommunications and water combined.

But even with today's road outlays, the cost of congestion — which covers environmental, health and social impacts, plus what you could be spending your time on otherwise — is tipped to increase more than 5 per cent annually over the next 15 years in a recent report by Deloitte.

Fuel excise means — for most drivers at least — the more they drive, the more they pay.

However, low-emission vehicles are letting some drivers get away charge-free.

The CSIRO has predicted revenue coming from fuel excise will drop by almost half by 2050.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher argues the current road funding system has "some features that don't seem very fair".

If you are able to buy a $125,000 Tesla, the amount you pay through fuel excise to use the roads is zero.

"If you're buying a 10-year-old Commodore, the amount you're paying is effectively four-and-a-half cents per kilometre."

The Federal Government is looking at ways to more closely link how people use the roads with what they pay.

Mr Fletcher will soon announce the terms of reference of the formal review into this concept, known as "road pricing" or "road user charging", and similar trials for trucks are earmarked for 2018.

The ultimate solution might link how much drivers pay to their car's GPS tracker. Instead of a rough fuel-based taxation method, the result would be accurate to the metre: the further you drive, the more tax you pay.

In a trial in the US state of Oregon, all drivers were charged one-and-a-half US cents per mile — no matter how fuel efficient their car was.

An overhaul of road funding such as this would require support from the states.


Lunch box checks have kids too scared to eat

NUTRITIONISTS are calling for an easing of lunch box policing when school returns next week, claiming the inspections have some children too scared to eat.

With a number of schools around Queensland implementing so-called healthy eating policies to deal with allergies and fight childhood obesity, teachers have been turned into the “food police”, randomly inspecting lunch boxes for items such as lollies, cakes, sweets, chips, nuts and eggs and sending letters to parents who break the rules.

But nutritionists warn the practice has gone too far, with mums and dads stressed out about what to feed their child and children developing fears around food.

“People have been writing in to me on social media saying that their child is afraid to open their lunch box at school because they know the teacher is coming along to inspect the lunch box so they would rather just not eat,” Sunshine Coast nutritionist Tara Leong said.

“The parents are also afraid of what they’re sending to school because they might get a letter home.

“It’s definitely not the way to manage what parents are sending to school in lunch boxes and the health situation in Australia.”

Mrs Leong said labelling food “good” and “bad” could also be destructive to a child’s relationship with food in the long term.

“If the teacher comes along and says, ‘That’s a bad food’, then what this whole ‘bad food, good food’ situation sets up is that the child is then a ‘bad child’ for eating that ‘bad food’ or the mother is a ‘bad mother’ for sending that piece of food, so then there’s this moral link to the food and it shouldn’t be that way,” she said.

Brisbane nutritionist and dietitian Kate Di Prima said schools had gone “berserk” with their food policing, especially when it came to bans of allergy-causing foods.

“To simply fill the lunch box without making everything from scratch has become almost impossible,” she said.

“It’s getting silly because there’s six different allergic (groups), you’ve got nuts, eggs, shellfish, wheat, soy, dairy. Are we going to remove all of that because then we’re left with nothing? Everyone will have a gluten-free, paleo lunch box, which is not balanced for children,” she said.

What does a healthy school lunchbox look like?

The over-policing of lunch boxes and a general confusion among parents over what is healthy has also caused some parents to ditch entire food groups, such as dairy and carbohydrates, from their children’s diets, with potentially dangerous consequences, the experts warn.

“I’m frightened by the amount of children who aren’t being fed carbohydrates,” Mrs Leong said.

“It’s really scary because they need it to be able to think.

“Unless there’s a medical diagnosis that your child needs to maybe eliminate something then there’s no reason to cut it out and doing so can put children at risk of malnutrition.”

Both experts agreed that parents needed to take a simple back-to-basics approach with children’s lunches, opting for fruit and yoghurt for morning tea, and a main meal of healthy carbs, protein and good fats, like an avocado, chicken and salad sandwich.


Becoming a republic is no guarantee of greatness

Slime bucket Keating is so hate-filled that he is driven into irrationality and utterly specious argument

Australia is not a great country says former Labor prime minister Paul Keating. And neither is New Zealand or Canada. Why? Because, according to Keating: “No great state has ever had the monarch of another country as its head of state.”

Millions beg to differ. When Labor last governed the nation, more than 50,000 people risked their lives to arrive, uninvited, on our shores. It’s a fair bet that given half a chance, the rest of the estimated 63.5 million refugees, ­asylum-seekers and internally displaced people would also vote with their feet in favour of Australia compared with the republics from which they are all fleeing.

Because although Keating might not have noticed, of the major source countries of refugees there’s not a monarchy among them, their own or borrowed.

In first place, the Syrian Arab Republic (5½ million refugees), then the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (more than 2½ million), the Republic of South Sudan (almost 1½ million) and the Federal Republic of Somalia (more than one million); in the less than one million category, the Republic of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Eritrea (a ­single-party presidential republic), the Republic of Burundi, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Iraq, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Rwanda, the Ukraine (another republic), the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Mali and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

As for economic migrants, Australia and Canada are two of the top destinations, so much so that 28 per cent of our population is foreign-born as is 22 per cent of the population of Canada.

And the top source countries? All republics — the Republic of India (15.6 million), the United Mexican States (12.3 million), the Russian Federation (10.6 million), the People’s Republic of China (9.5 million) and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (7.2 million).

What makes these republics so great compared with constitutional monarchies, which include Labor’s social democratic pin-ups — Sweden, Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands?

Aha, you might say, the country that has accepted more migrants and refugees than any other is the greatest republic of them all, the United States of America. But that would not gladden Keating, who warns that a popularly elected president would be “a disaster”.

“We could end up with a Don­ald Trump personality as the singular presidential person in Australia,” he wails.

“The mere fact that that person is the only person popularly elected will draw all of the political power. The position of the prime minister and the cabinet will be mightily diminished.” Indeed.

But a former Labor prime minister should be able to see that a head of state appointed by parliament is also fraught with danger. Under such a model, Gough Whitlam could have appointed John Kerr president rather than governor-general, and perhaps been dismissed even more readily, since the president of a new Australian republic might be less likely to feel bound by law and would not be constrained by the weight of convention or precedent since there would be none.

Republics are less stable than monarchies precisely because they are not bound by tradition. France, one of the more successful, has had five republics since the revolution as well as the First and Second French Empires, the Bourbon Restoration and the ­ignoble Vichy regime.

Germany’s Weimar Republic succumbed all too quickly to fascism. As have most of the republics of Latin America and Africa, except for those that have been set up or taken over by communists or other despots who haven’t bothered with an ideology to justify their tyranny.

Keating’s objection to the British monarchy may be rooted, like that of many Australians of Irish descent, in a visceral antipathy towards the English, whom he has railed against for various sins including that during the darkest days of World War II, they “decided not to defend the Malaysian Peninsula, not to worry about Singapore, and not to give us our troops back to keep ourselves free from Japanese domination”.

Keating pays scant regard to the threats Britain was facing — London had been blitzed, the French had surrendered, even the Channel Isles were under the jackboot. Nor does he mention Ireland, “the land of his ancestors”, which cared so little as to whether Australia was invaded, or who won the war, that they didn’t even bother to fight. Indeed, when Hitler committed suicide, the Irish prime minister offered his condolences to the German embassy.

If Australia becomes a republic, there is every reason to hope that it will continue to prosper, thanks to strongly entrenched British institutions. If the nation has not opted for change to date, it is probably thanks to that great Australian principle: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Republicans, on both sides of the political divide, seem determined to ignore that advice rather than focus on the tasks that we elected them to tackle — cutting waste, ending the debt and deficit, keeping the lights on without sending us broke.

In that respect, Keating was right when he said that without a sensible economic policy, Australia will end up being a third rate economy, “a ­banana republic”. Amen to that.


Rising cost of Government services putting the squeeze on households

Government-led costs are squeezing household budgets much more than the private sector, with prices of essential ser­vices such as health and education far outstripping near-­record low inflation.

Outlays on childcare have doubled in the past six years, while primary and secondary education costs for the typical household are up 50 per cent, detailed household budget figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

Overall, households are spending 23 per cent more on ­essential services, with prices influenced by government, than they were five years ago, while spending on goods and services with prices set by the market is up by 15 per cent.

Analysis of the ABS household expenditure survey shows that where essential goods and ser­vices are provided purely by the market, their cost has been held down by the same forces that are keeping inflation below 2 per cent.

Intense competition among supermarkets has kept household spending on food to an increase of 15 per cent over six years, while households are spending almost exactly the same now on clothing as they were in 2009-10.

The household expenditure survey, which is conducted by the ABS every six years, shows spending on income tax rose 45.7 per cent between 2009-10 and 2015-16.

Consultant economist Saul ­Eslake says households are being helped by globalisation, which has brought price reductions for many goods, but are being hit by the escalating cost of services such as health insurance, which act like a tax, at a time when income growth is weak.

Household spending on health insurance has risen 50.7 per cent over the past six years.

Mr Eslake said the rising cost of essential services was hurting households, which are no longer getting any real income growth.

“It is absolutely clear that real income growth has been much flatter since 2012,” he said. Rather than handing out tax cuts, governments have since then been seeking to wind back benefits.

The cost of living has become a hot political issue over the past year, inflamed by the 20 per cent rise in electricity prices and the continuing escalation in the cost of childcare at a time of weak ­income growth. Scott Morrison has vowed this year’s budget will be about reducing living costs while Bill Shorten has attacked the government for its failure to control the cost of ­essential services and says Labor’s policies would rein in rising health, education and housing costs.

Analysis by The Australian of the ABS survey shows there are some areas of discretionary spending that have risen strongly, highlighting choices households are making about how they spend their income. Spending on holidays, for example,­ has risen 46.9 per cent, with overseas travel rising 70 per cent. Eating out at restaurants has risen 38.4 per cent. The ABS has introduced a new category for takeaway coffee, on which households spend an average $4.20 a week.

Households are spending 24.2 per cent less on gambling but 35 per cent more on sports fees and health and fitness charges.

National Australia Bank chief markets economist Ivan Colhoun said if the economy were performing poorly, people would not be lifting spending on holidays or restaurants, but he added budgets were still under pressure.

“If you’ve got the essentials that are government-related growing quickly and discretionary items that people are, for lifestyle reasons, spending more on, by definition what is left would be getting less of the pie.”

Overall households are only spending 6.4 per cent more on recreation than they were six years ago. Where households can, they cut back when prices rise ­excessively.

Mr Eslake noted that households have cut back their use of electricity. Although electricity prices doubled over the six years between the ABS surveys, total spending on electricity rose by 21.4 per cent.

One government-influenced cost that has not risen is mortgage rates, which follow the benchmark set by the Reserve Bank. Spending on mortgage interest has dropped by 1 per cent over the six years, but repayment of principal has soared 43.5 per cent.

“The benefit of lower interest rates has been more than offset by the effect of bigger mortgages. The fact that you need more income to service those mortgages forces people to outsource things like childcare that used to be done in the home,” Mr Eslake said.

Childcare has been the fastest growing item in the household budget, partly reflecting the significant increase in salary and staffing numbers dictated under legislation passed under the former Labor government.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday defended ­reforms to childcare arrangements that take effect from July 1, which will increase the subsidies to childcare centres and abolish the cap on the childcare rebate.

Labor has claimed, on the basis of documents obtained under freedom of information, that the reforms would leave hundreds of thousands of households worse off.

Education costs, which reflect both government and private sector influences, have risen rapidly. Households are spending 50.5 per cent more on primary and secondary education than they were six years ago, while they are spending 30.5 per cent more on tertiary education.

Health costs are taking 25.6 per cent more of the household budget than six years ago. One area where government influence has brought cost control is pharmaceuticals. Households are now spending 5.4 per cent less on medicines and therapeutic appliances than they were in 2009-10.


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

16 January, 2018

Bigoted opponents of bigotry

A bigot is sure they are right and is intolerant of other views.  The critics of Margaret Court below certainly fit that description.  They want her to be tolerant of their views but are not prepared to be tolerant of her views

TENNIS trailblazer Billie Jean King used the occasion of being named Australian Open woman of the year to call for the renaming of Margaret Court Arena while British professional Liam Broady also took aim at the Australian tennis icon.

Court attracted headlines last year for her outspoken criticism of homosexuality and as the first major of 2018 approaches, debate has once again raged over whether her name should still be used for one of the major stadiums at Melbourne Park.

Payers have also faced questions about whether they’ll boycott matches played on her arena.

Court likened gay rights activists to Hitler in 2017 and Broad — the World No. 173 who recently lost in Australian Open qualifying to Matteo Berrettini — took to Twitter to make his feelings about her known.

Comparing the LGBT community in tennis to Hitler and communism is the most offensive and unfounded comment I have ever heard in my life and it just sounds like she’s parroting learnt opinions. She is much too intelligent to come to those conclusions on her own. Real shame

King is being feted at Melbourne Park this month — on the 50th anniversary of her first Australian title — for her contribution to the sport and her pioneering support for women’s rights and social justice.

The 74-year-old’s advocacy extended to naming the showcourt after her friend Margaret Court, but King said she could no longer support the honour. “I was a proponent of hers, trying to get her to the best possible court,” King said.

“She won 64 grand slams ... more than everybody else. “When Rocket, Rod Laver, got given the arena, I said, ‘What are you going to do for Margaret?’”

King said Court’s “derogatory” attacks on sexually diverse people were the last straw. “I think it’s its really important, if you’re going to have your name on anything, that you’re hospitable, inclusive, you’re opening arms to everyone that comes to a public facility,” she said.

“I was fine until lately she said so many derogatory things about my community, I’m a gay woman; about the LGBTIQ community.

“That really went deep in my heart and soul. “I don’t think she should have her name (on it) any more.”

King ended her career with 12 major singles titles.

In 2006, the US Open facility was rebadged as the “USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre” in her honour.

She said a change of the facility might have already occurred if Court had targeted other groups.

“If you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can’t imagine the public would want to have her name on something,” she said. “Maybe it’s our community, the LGBTIQ community (why) people might feel differently.”

Court, a fundamentalist Christian, has targeted same-sex parents — including Casey Dellacqua — and has argued for conversion therapy for gay people. King said she would refuse to play on the arena if she was appearing at this year’s tournament. She foreshadowed player boycotts of the court, but wouldn’t counsel anyone to do so.

Australian ace Sam Stosur suggested there was little locker room chatter about the divisive issue. “I’ll play on whatever court I’m scheduled on,” she said. “I wouldn’t say too many players have spent time thinking about it.”

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said Tennis Australia didn’t have a view on the renaming of the arena.  “They’re not the views of our organisation ... they’re not the views of our sport. We’re inclusive, diverse and equal,” he said.

The arena is managed by the Melbourne and Olympics Parks Trust under the purview of the Victorian Government.


A puff of hot air from the Law Council below

They are just defending their patch of course but they exhibit no recognition of the cause of the problem:  violent African criminals being let off with a slap on the wrist.  Let the judges do a responsible job and there will be no problem

Ensuring the rule of law is respected and maintained is vital to the strength of Australia’s legal system, the Law Council of Australia has reiterated.

The national peak body, representing the legal profession, today backed colleagues at the Law Institute of Victoria in defending the rule of law, particularly the independence of the judiciary.

Law Council of Australia President, Morry Bailes, said recent attacks on Victorian judges were not useful and eroded public confidence in the judiciary.

“The Law Council shares the views of the Law Institute of Victoria. There is no place for political attacks on the judiciary undermining the independence of judges and magistrates,” Mr Bailes said.

“It is understood that in our free society informed comment on judicial decisions is part of normal discourse, but politicised criticism undermines the foundations of the democratic system which must be closely guarded by all, especially those in government.

“Judges and magistrates are experts in the law and to ensure the separation of powers must be allowed to perform their duty without interference and unwarranted criticism.”

The Law Council hopes all Australians understand the value of an independent judiciary and the importance of upholding the rule of law in legal decision making.

Media release

The hatred of selective government schools never stops

Instead of seeing such schools as a way to give bright kids from poor backgrounds the sort of education that private schools give, they are seen as offensive to the insane Leftist goal of "equality".  So reasons will always be found to downgrade them

Education Minister Rob Stokes says opening up selective schools to local students would create a more equitable education system, as the NSW Department of Education reviews the decades-old system for teaching the state's brightest students.

Mr Stokes said the selective system should not "create a rigid, separated public education system".

"While recognising that selective schools have a history and are popular, is it correct that local kids must walk past a local public selective school that is closed to them?" he said.

"We need to have public schools that are inclusive of everyone rather than deliberately separate children on the basis that some are gifted and talented and others are not.

"There may be merit in opening up selective schools to local enrolments and providing more local opportunities to selective classes in comprehensive schools."

It is understood the idea involves introducing comprehensive streams to selective schools.

It comes as the department continues a wide-ranging review of its gifted and talented policy for NSW public schools, including an overhaul of the entry test for selective schools amid concerns that wealthy families are able to game the system by engaging expensive tutoring services.

NSW currently has 19 fully selective and 29 partially selective schools, the most of any state, and the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) shows that the state's top-performing selective schools such as James Ruse, Baulkham Hills and North Sydney Boys are significantly more advantaged than exclusive private schools such as The King's School and Knox Grammar.

ICSEA scores are used by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to assess the socio-educational background of a school's student cohort based on geographical location and parental education and occupation, with a higher score indicating a higher level of advantage.

The median ICSEA score in NSW is 1000.

James Ruse has an ICSEA score of 1240 and North Sydney Boys has a score of 1210, compared with King's score of 1160, and Knox's score of 1178.

Additionally, selective schools consistently outperform private and comprehensive schools in the Higher School Certificate, and comprised nine out of the top 10 schools by performance in last year's exams, including the privately selective Sydney Grammar.

Professor of education at the University of Sydney, Anthony Welch, said that a local intake to selective schools could ensure they better reflect the wider population.

"What we know about those schools is that they're increasingly selective not merely in academic terms but in social terms too," Professor Welch said. "Having a wider intake and more mixed classes would improve equity."

Professor Welch said selective schools also impact nearby comprehensive schools.  "They cream off all the high-achieving kids from the whole area, so the impact on neighbouring schools is quite the opposite," he said.

Mother-of-two Licia Heath, from Sydney's east, said having two selective schools, Sydney Boys and Sydney Girls, in the area has contributed to overcrowding at her local comprehensive school, Rose Bay Secondary College, which had 1132 students in 2017.

"We think the school's going to be in absolutely dire straits," said Ms Heath, who is a spokeswoman for the Community for Local Options for Secondary Education (CLOSE), which is calling for a new comprehensive co-educational high school for the area.

Ms Heath said she'd be happy to send her sons Jude and Leo Jungwirth, aged 9 and 6, respectively, to Sydney Boys if it was opened to local students. "I've had a look at the academic requirements and possibly one of our sons would get into it, but we want them to be at the same school," she said.

Labor's spokesman for education Jihad Dib said that he supports opening up selective schools but is also pushing for more selective streams in comprehensive schools. "Opening up selective schools to students who are otherwise excluded will ensure they've got the opportunity to go to a high-performing school," Mr Dib said.

"But what I'd really like to see are selective streams in every school so kids who want a selective school education can go to their local school."


Any lie will do

Premier Andrews is a Leftist

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has blamed 'interstate thugs' for the 'African gang violence' sweeping Melbourne.

Mr Andrews implied young children from Sydney were the cause of violence hitting the western suburbs of Victoria, including Tarneit. 

In past weeks, the city has seen a spike in gang violence and criminal activity across Melbourne despite the issue first surfacing in 2012 after the Apex gang emerged.

'When we get dozens or more young kids playing up from Sydney who are here in Melbourne, if we've got a database we'd known about those kids and what they're history is, what their status is,' Mr Andrews said according to The Australian.

Regular patrols are taking place in Tarneit while a mobile police station was set up by Victoria Police in an attempt to curb the crime rates.

A group of African youths who call themselves Menace to Society (MTS) trashed the Ecoville Community Park by smashing windows, furniture and walls and spray painting their signature 'MTS' across the property shortly after Christmas.

An AirBnB house in Werribee, in Melbourne's west, was also trashed and tagged with 'MTS'.

Police were forced to retreat from the Werribee property after more than 100 South Sudanese children threw rocks at them and cars were smashed.

Another police officer was attacked and left with face injuries in a separate incident when a young African teenager kicked him in the face on Boxing Day at Highpoint Shopping Centre.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told media last week Mr Andrew's government was responsible for the gangs terrorising Melbourne residents.

But Premier Andrews the Prime Minister had not raised Victoria's youth gang problem with him privately, and had only criticised him publicly.

The publication reported Victoria Police would not comment on whether they were investigating NSW people in relation to the offences.


Move over Manuka! Rare Jarrah honey halts ageing by stimulating collagen production and boasts skin repairing properties (and it even TASTES sweeter)

Manuka honey has been hailed as 'liquid gold' with the power to delay ageing and help with skin repair, coughs and colds -and even fight the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers.

But now it's got competition in the form of Jarrah honey, a rarer product harvested from a species of eucalyptus tree, which is found only in the most remote parts of Western Australia.

Research by the Australian government has found that its level of antibacterial activity is higher than that of Manuka honey, and that's it's effective against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus - which causes bugs such as MRSA - as well as being a natural treatment for wounds, burns, sunburn and skin infections. 

It has two to three times higher levels of antioxidants compared to Manuka, which makes it an ideal natural anti-ageing treatment for boosting collagen and elastin production and supporting cell renewal.

Other studies have shown the honey to be more effective against Candida fungi, which causes wound infections as well as oral and vaginal thrush, than Manuka. 

Better still it tastes even sweeter as its naturally occuring hydrogen peroxide doesn't affect the taste.

By comparison, Manuka's active component methylglyoxal, gives it an earthy and more bitter flavour.

All honey has anti-bacterial properties because of the hydrogen peroxide it contains, and the fact its sugar molecules soak up water, which starves bacteria of the moisture they need to survive.

Unlike ordinary hydrogen peroxide, used as a disinfectant, the hydrogen peroxide in honey stays active over several days, killing bugs and preventing others growing.

Despite the sweeter taste, the raw honey is high in fructose and low in glucose, and its low GI index means it doesn't spike the blood sugar. 'It's quite a unique honey compared to all other eucalypts,' Dr. Rob Manning told Vogue.

The former researcher for Australia's Department of Agriculture and Food spent 30 years studying Jarrah honey and comparing its benefits with New Zealand Manuka honey.


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

15 January, 2018

‘Creeping Stalinism’: secrecy law could imprison whistleblowers and journalists

The article below is lengthy but is from the Leftist "Guardian" so, as usual tells only half the story. The laws discussed are regrettable but the whole reason for a crackdown is that Leftist public servants ignore their duty to be politically impartial and so will do anything to embarrass a conservative government.  They are an Australian version of the anti-democratic "deep state" that is doing its best to hobble America's duly elected President Trump

Government whistleblowers and journalists who report on leaked information could face 20 years’ imprisonment if changes to Australia’s official secrecy laws pass parliament.

The overhauled offence provisions, introduced to the House of Representatives in December just hours after marriage equality became law, form part of the Coalition government’s broader crackdown on treason, espionage and foreign interference. If passed, the reform will increase tenfold the maximum penalties for anyone communicating information potentially harmful to the national interest, where that information is obtained via a government official without authorisation.

“This is ‘creeping Stalinism,’” said Ethicos Group specialist Howard Whitton, who has advised governments and the United Nations ethics office on whistleblower policy. “The absolute protection of principled disclosure of wrongdoing – unfettered by government – must be preserved, or Australia will become a laughing stock internationally.”

Australia’s existing official secrecy laws date back to 1914, when sections 70 and 79 of the federal Crimes Act were hurriedly introduced following the outbreak of the first world war. Describing prior prohibitions as “shamefully lax”, the attorney general (and future prime minister) Billy Hughes imposed a penalty of two years’ imprisonment on public servants who disclosed any government information without authorisation. No defences were made available.

Despite the draconian nature of such wartime provisions, that legislation has remained law in Australia over the following century with only minimal amendment. In 2008, the Rudd government asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to hold an inquiry, which resulted in modest reform proposals in its report Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia.

“Reform of Australia’s secrecy laws is long overdue,” said Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre. “After a careful and comprehensive review, the ALRC concluded that our secrecy laws were excessive and needed to be better targeted to protect legitimate government interests. Instead of acting on the ALRC’s recommendations, the Abbott government intensified our secrecy laws with the introduction of the Australian Border Force secrecy provisions and expansive Asio secrecy laws.”

The reality is public interest defences to alleged criminal acts are few and far between

That trend looks set to continue. The proposed legislation criminalises communicating or otherwise dealing with information where that information was obtained by a public servant and is “inherently harmful” or likely to harm “Australia’s interests”. The former is defined as including any information produced by a security agency, while the latter includes prejudicing Australia’s international relations “in any way” or damaging relations between the federal government and a state.

“These broad definitions, coupled with penalties of up to 20 years in prison, raise serious risks of stifling the free flow of information and leaving Australian people ignorant of important matters in the public interest,” de Kretser said. “Open government is a foundational principle of democracy. Australians have a right to know what their government does in their name. Of course, some information must remain secret to protect our security and national interests. But these proposed laws have not got the balance right.”

The new provisions are primarily directed at commonwealth officers, defined to include current and former public servants, contractors, defence force personnel and employees of businesses who provide services to the federal government. But the expansive wording of the offences means any person who comes into contact with information obtained by a commonwealth officer could fall within the legislation’s scope.

The prescribed penalty ranges from five to 15 years’ imprisonment for standard offences, stretching to 20 years for aggravated offences. Aggravating circumstances include where the relevant information was classified secret or above, the person committing the offence held a government security clearance, or the offence involved five or more records each with a security classification.

These aggravation provisions appear intentionally designed to target Edward Snowden-type leakers. The bill’s explanatory memorandum even provides an example strikingly similar to the Snowden case, a contractor who leaked extensive American intelligence information to the Guardian and other publications. “Person A is employed as an IT systems administrator at a commonwealth government intelligence agency,” the explanatory memorandum hypothesised. “Throughout his employment Person A copied 1,000 electronic files from the agency’s internal holdings to a personal hard drive … Person A publishes all 1,000 documents on the internet.”

This impetus for the new offences mirrors that of stalled attempts to reform official secrecy laws in the UK, which were described last year by Open Rights Group chief executive Jim Killock as “a full-front attack … squarely aimed at the Guardian and Edward Snowden.”

“The suggested changes take the wrong lessons from the Snowden and other revelations, and ignore the reality of the connected, global information environment in which we now live,” said Gill Phillips, director of editorial legal services at Guardian News and Media. “If public interest journalism is made harder or even criminalised, there is a real risk that whistleblowers will bypass responsible journalists altogether, and simply anonymously self-publish data leaks online, without any accountability.”

While journalists are partially protected by a defence established in the new laws, this safeguard has been derided as insufficient. Journalists prosecuted under the offence would be required to satisfy a court that their reporting met vaguely defined criteria, said the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) chief executive Paul Murphy.

“The explanatory memorandum states that journalist protections are lost if they are not engaged in what is deemed to be ‘fair and accurate reporting’ and in circumstances where it is alleged their reporting is ‘distorted,’” he said. “The protection is entirely unavailable if the subject matter is said to not be in the public interest. This is a very broad term.

“A further issue is the definition of ‘journalist’ used in the bill. The MEAA acknowledges that this definition covers journalists not regularly employed in a professional capacity and may include a person who self-publishes news or news analysis, but anchoring the definition of journalists to the dictionary meaning could well prove a mistake down the track and lead to legitimate coverage being excluded from the bill’s modest protections.”

The proposed legislation additionally provides that the public interest test will not be met where the information concerns the identify of intelligence officers, or if the journalist’s conduct could endanger public health or safety. The draft statute is also ambiguous about the legal test to be applied: whether the reporting must objectively be in the public interest or whether it is sufficient for the journalist to reasonably believe it to be so.

“It is always hard to know how this type of defence will work until you see how a judge interprets it,” said Phillips. “On the face of it, it is a good thing that thought is being given to the inclusion of a public interest defence, especially as there is not one presently available. However, the reality is that public interest defences to alleged criminal acts are few and far between. What we do know from our experience in other areas of the law is that it can be hard for journalists where the evidential burden, as I understand is being proposed here, rests on them.”

Public servant whistleblowers will not enjoy the benefit of a public interest defence. While the offences are not applicable where the information is disclosed through appropriate channels via the Public Interest Disclosure Act, the federal whistleblower protection scheme, that law has often been criticised as ineffective and is awaiting reform.

The approach taken in the proposed reform, according to Murphy, “ignores the inherent weaknesses of these laws to protect complainants and preserve their rights. These changes represent a substantial threat to whistleblowers and journalists who seek to publish critical public information. Whistleblowers in Australia get punished; it is as simple as that. Laws like these create further disincentives for people who witness wrongdoing and corruption to air their concerns.”

“This is a corruption issue, not a free speech issue,” added Whitton. “Australia is at serious risk of state capture if whistleblowers are not protected.”

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s second reading speech to the House of Representatives gave little attention to this element of the amendment bill, with the term “secrecy” appearing just once.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Department said: “The government is committed to striking the right balance between openness and transparency in government and the legitimate need to protect some commonwealth information.

“Protecting Australia from espionage and foreign interference relies heavily on having strong protections for our information, especially where disclosure causes harm to an essential public interest. The unauthorised disclosure or use of certain information can prejudice national security and defence, or our relationships with other countries, and as such criminal offences are necessary to deter such disclosures and punish them if they do occur.”

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office said: “Given that unauthorised disclosures do not receive protection for disclosers, the ombudsman encourages public officials to make their disclosures in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act.”


Fixated with Finland

It may be a new year, but we’re still stuck with the old myth that Finland is an education utopia Australia must emulate.

Pasi Sahlberg from Finland, who has joined the new Gonski Institute for Education at UNSW, argued this week that his country’s school system has a lot to teach Australia. Basically, according to Sahlberg, Finland has more student play time and less standardised testing.

It is true Finland consistently outperformed Australia on all the international standardised tests in 2016, and of course we should be willing to learn lessons from the top-performing countries.

But Finland’s international test results have declined in recent years, and — as Steven Schwartz has pointed out — there are many reasons why Finland’s school system would be difficult, if not impossible, to emulate here. For example, Finland has little cultural or racial diversity, and has a much lower immigration rate than Australia.

Finnish is also a much simpler language than English, which means learning early literacy skills is relatively easier, boosting school results in later years.

Other countries like Singapore, which is the top-performing country in literacy and numeracy — not to mention collaborative problem-solving — potentially have many lessons to offer Australia as well.

Analysing high-achieving school systems is useful, but it is a fantasy to suggest Finland is the epitome of good education. This is part of a much broader myth that the Nordic countries are socialist paradises (ignoring the fact that most socialists wouldn’t be happy with Finland’s corporate tax rate of only 20%).

In any case, is more play time and less testing the key to boosting Australia’s school results?

No evidence has been presented to suggest Australian kids don’t have enough play time at school — recess and lunch are actually quite common practices in our schools, and there isn’t exactly a dearth of sports options for students.

And blaming NAPLAN for the lack of improvement in Australian schools is like blaming the thermometer for the fact that it was 42 degrees in Sydney last Sunday. NAPLAN identifies problems; it doesn’t solve them by itself.

Finally, it’s interesting that we’re told we should be like Finland and have fewer standardised tests, on the basis that Finland’s school system performs well — which, ironically, we only know because Finland performs well on international standardised tests.


Sharp drop in Australian teenagers’ use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco

The consumption of alcohol and tobacco has dropped among Australian teenagers and they are also using fewer drugs than 20 years ago, according to a new study tracking adolescent health since 1999.

The study, from Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, found the number of teenagers who had consumed alcohol fell from 69% to 45% between 1999 and 2015.

Tobacco use dropped from 45% to 10% over the same period – the steepest decline of all substances – and marijuana use fell from 15% to 4%.

The study’s authors attributed the drop to stricter parental attitudes regarding alcohol, and law reforms that reduced the availability of substances.

Parental supply of alcohol dropped from 22% to 12% between 2007 and 2013, and underage purchases of alcohol fell from 12% to just 1% between 1998 and 2013.

Lead researcher Prof John Toumbourou said it was a success for Australia’s public health campaigns over the years.

“We can see that parents are taking on the advice from our national health guidelines,” Toumborou said. “It shows parents are making radical changes in their attitude to underage drinking and also how they model their own drinking behaviour.”

The study surveyed 41,328 adolescents – with an average age of 13 and a half – between 1999 and 2015 in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. Data was collected from anonymous surveys where students self-reported drug and alcohol use.

Of those surveyed, 82.8% were from Victoria, 10.1% from Western Australia and 7.1% from Queensland.

The study’s authors said a “normative change” in attitudes towards teen drinking might have been influenced by a 2009 change to Australia’s national health guidelines.

Between 1998 and 2007, the parental supply of alcohol rose from 15% to 22%. From then, it dropped to 12% by 2013.

“In 2009, the national health guidelines were changed to clearly say young people shouldn’t drink until 18,” Toumborou said. “They were widely promoted from that time onwards.

“By 2011, a number of states had brought in legislation making it illegal for adults to provide alcohol to young people without the parents’ permission. That was a game-changer. Parents realised they needed signed permission if they were going to host a party serving alcohol.”

Australia’s success could also send a message to other countries, Toumborou said, as it had outperformed Britain and Europe in reducing alcohol use by teenagers over the same period.

“The United States led this movement, and then Australia has been the next one,” he said. “Internationally we probably need to encourage other nations to look at this as an achievable public health target.”


How Australia’s strict laws have made smokers social outcasts

A wail from an air polluter below.  He has no real beef.  He could give up his obnoxious habit

As a smoker, I remember it well. The lights dazzled on the dance floor, Rihanna raged over the sound system and I, gin and tonic in hand, hurriedly puffed away on what was to be my last cigarette in a club.

That was Oxford St in 2010 — the night before smoking was banned in all indoor pubs and clubs in NSW.

Little did any of us know it was just the beginning of the battle to get rid of cigarettes for good as, law by law and tax by tax, Australia adopted some of the most stringent smoking regulations in the world.

By today’s standards I feel a virtual pariah. Smoking is not just considered a dirty habit, but a danger to others.

That was the position cricketers Shaun Marsh and Jackson Bird found themselves in this week, dubbed bad role models for smoking in public while celebrating the Ashes series win against England.

The fact is smokers have nowhere to hide from the growing public reproof.

Best-selling author Nikki Gemmell has called smoking “a public declaration of stupidity” and described smokers as “relics of a bygone age”.

It’s true the war on smoking in this country is led by health concerns. And 15 years ago there were some 15,000 deaths a year attributed to smoking from illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.

But — importantly — it’s not illegal. So are the increasingly draconian laws about where you can smoke, or even what can be published about smoking, justified?

Civil Liberties Australia’s Mark Jarratt says: “The government acts like they own the atmosphere and they don’t. The coverage of smoking is almost one-sided.

“It’s the result of decades of taxpayer-funded negative conditioning which has created the impression among the wider population that one whiff of smoke and you’ll drop dead on the spot.

“There’s no middle ground for these people. What’s next? Are we going to have to sing the national anthem and do 20 push-ups before we go to work?”

For decades cricket and other sports in Australia were sponsored by tobacco companies and promoted by our top sports people and entertainers. The country’s favourite comedian when not promoting Fosters was selling cigarettes.

Planes and trains had smoking sections, and smokers were catered to as valuable patrons. The perennial of any gift shop was the souvenir ashtray.

Anyone remember Fags — the lolly? Tobacco was so much a part of day-to-day life kids were sold candy cigarettes at newsagents.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s a good thing. But in the context of a long history, smokers have been brought to an almost cold- turkey stop.

Today I find myself in a secret society, forced out of clubs and cafes, hiding down laneways, our numbers dwindling with each puff.

Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places and certain outdoor public areas around NSW, under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 and the Smoke-free Environment Regulation 2016.

Currently I can’t even smoke a cigarette outside licensed cafes and pubs legally, or within 4m of the entry of any public building.

Public pools, sporting grounds, shopping centres, public transport stops and platforms, including taxi ranks and all commercial outdoor dining areas are out of bounds. Goodbye freedom.

In a year-long City of Sydney smoke-free trial in Martin Place, four out of five people surveyed supported the trial and supported an extension of the trial to other areas of the city.

On top of that, in NSW, anything that gives publicity to, or promotes the purchase or use of tobacco can be considered a “tobacco advertisement”.

Even this article you’re reading cannot be seen to encourage smoking. It can’t reproduce old ads or show scenes of smoking unless it is in a negative context.

Even to speak of how, historically, smoking was made cool by Hollywood stars and the ever-present fug in dimly-lit jazz clubs runs the risk of glorifying it.

Yet everyone wants a piece of this “dirty habit”. According to analysis by comparison website, smokers usually pay 50 per cent more on their monthly life insurance premiums than non-smokers.

When I started smoking, more than 15 years ago, cigarette packs cost a measly $8, instead of the overtaxed $40 you pay now (the government managed to rake in $10.69 billion in tobacco excise last year alone). No one had heard of plain packaging and, if you really wanted, you could shop up a cigarette storm at duty free. Now you’re allowed to bring just a packet or two into the country.

Since then I have travelled across the globe from Samoa to Sweden, Antarctica to Abu Dhabi, Berlin to Bondi — and never felt so shunned as a smoker than here, in judgment town Australia.

Maybe it’s because we are a nation of fitness freaks, of sex and skin, that we care so much about our health that we choose to rain judgment upon those who light up.

At a New Year’s Eve party I found myself stuck in an incredibly frustrating conversation with a non-smoker who “just didn’t get it”. I sat there and listened with gritted teeth while she criticised me for my choices in life. Happy new year, me.

Last year I was regularly sprayed with a Super Soaker by a crazy yogi whose studio sat above a quiet smoking spot I would adjourn to. Today, it’s a wasteland devoid of smokers.

Now, I’m all for quitting and getting off the cigs, but in my own time and when I want to.

According to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, daily smoking rates for Australians aged 18 and over dropped from 20 per cent in 2001 to 13 per cent in 2016. People who have quit smoking outnumber people who currently smoke: in 2016, 61 per cent of people who had ever smoked had quit. The last national health survey in 2014-15 found 2.6 million adults (14.5 per cent) smoked daily, down from almost 25 per cent in 1995.

The writing is on the wall for cigarettes as we know them, but it won’t mean the end of bad habits.

A national survey of adolescent drug use in the US found while cigarette smoking had dropped, marijuana use had risen.

One of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, Philip Morris, has already announced plans to “quit” for good, and hopes to stop production of cigarettes, in place of vapes and heated tobacco products, by 2020 in a bid for a “smoke free” Australia.

“I hope by 2020 we stop selling conventional cigarettes if not completely, then handing them over to someone else to worry about,” Paul Riley, president of Philip Morris Japan, told me last month. “If we can go hard enough, we’ll be close by the end of 2020 not to have to sell the conventional product (cigarettes).

“The reality is you can’t get away from the fact the WHO (World Health Organisation) itself says that even if they continue with the same methods they have today, like plain packaging, higher taxes, the number of people smoking in 20 years’ time is not going to be too much different from today.”

I try to hide my smoking as best I can these days. I’d rather a cigarette in silence than socially. It’s become my own secret shame in a weird way. It seems I might be fighting a losing battle.


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

13 January, 2018

No African gang crisis? Wrong, says victim Val

The victim of a violent home ­invasion in Melbourne’s west, who was slapped and threatened while the family house was ransacked, says the government and police are “wrong” to deny the state is facing an African gang crisis, urging leaders to visit victims of crime.

Val, who did not want her surname published, was minding her nephew’s family home last week when a group of more than 10 youths of African appearance shattered the glass back door and trashed the home, forcing her to sit in the front room while they threatened her with baseball bats and stole technology and money.

Nine days after the attack, 59-year-old Val has watched with ­increased concern as the state government and police have stepped back from labelling a recent of spate of youth crime as a “crisis”. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton at a press conference on Thursday rubbished claims that Melburnians felt unsafe to go out to dinner.

“I got very angry when I saw the police press conference. I thought you really need to open your eyes and look at what’s happening. You need to visit these areas which are quite highly populated,” Val told The Weekend Australian.

“They are gangs. You talk about bad motorcycle boys, well hang on a minute, these are no better than the motorcycle boys. They are running around and terrorising people, and they’re saying they are not gangs, they are saying there is no problem in Victoria. They are wrong.”

Her comments come as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ­yesterday said Premier Daniel ­Andrews had created the crime “mess” through appointments of magistrates and judges and not having adequate sentences and deterrences.

“The solution in part is to make sure that the appointment that you’re making to the magistrates court are people that will impose sentences and will provide some deterrence to people repeatedly coming before the courts,” Mr Dutton told 3AW.

“If you’re appointing civil libertarians to the magistrates court over a long period of time, you will get soft sentences and that’s the ­reality ... I’m blaming the state government for making appointments which I think you’re seeing the consequences of now.”

Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula later called Mr Dutton’s comments “completely unwarranted and untrue”.

“No government in recent memory has done more to appoint former prosecutors to our bench than this government and that has been something that we have done very consciously,” he said.

Victoria’s African community leaders and police met yesterday for the first time in a series of taskforce talks to tackle the issue. ­Before the meeting, Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations Andrew Crisp told the ABC there was “not a crisis in this state in relation to crime, or the behaviour we’re seeing of a relatively small number of people of African background”.

Staying at her sister’s home in Melbourne’s west, Val said these kind of comments were sidelining a real problem.

“It’s only the victims that can tell them what’s happening, and how they feel,” she said. “I’d like to say, how would you feel if it was your mother, in your home?

“They need to have the resources; the police that can police the area. And the government need to really recognise the fact there is a problem in the community, there is problem in the African community.”

Val has taken six weeks leave from her volunteering job at the Red Cross while she recovers. She says she hopes something constructive can be done so the rest of the ­African community doesn’t suffer from the actions of a few.

“Where I work in the Red Cross I do work with a lot of African people, and they are beautiful people, really sweet natured. When my husband got carted off to hospital they went into the tea room and they prayed for him,” she said.

A petrol station in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s southeast was held up in the early hours of yesterday by two men of African ­appearance armed with a machete and large rock. They demanded cash from the register and fled.


Migrants must integrate — that’s a fact

Melbourne is seemingly only now finding out what Sydney has long known: ‘politically correct’ multiculturalism hinders integration and leads to social problems.

Melbourne’s African gang crisis shows how lucky we are that Australia has never practiced the kind of mushy-headed multiculturalism long preached by many inner-city elites.

The politically correct argument is that newcomers should retain and practice the customs and habits of their homeland, and Australian society should adapt to accommodate this in the name of tolerance.

But when forced to confront real cultural ‘diversity’ — marauding gangs of Sudanese youths whose behaviour suggests warring tribesmen in violent clan struggles — proponents of multiculturalism have engaged in mass denial.

This has been exemplified by the tweets from an ABC journalist and a prominent left-wing judge, downplaying the crisis and claiming that no-one they know or who lives in their suburbs is fearful of gang violence.

This might actually be true: high property prices in well-off locations allow many elites to buy their way out of direct exposure to the problem.

The irony is that many of the same people, so complacent about gang violence, took to the streets in protest when journalist Jill Meagher was raped and murdered in the fashionable suburb of Brunswick by serial offender Adrian Bayley.

But when the citizens of outer-metropolitan areas complain regarding gang violence and about essentially the same problem — lax administration of law and order — they are condemned as racist ‘deplorables’.

The reality of immigration is that culture matters, and will determine how easily (or otherwise) migrant and refugees can fit in.

Fortunately, our immigration policies have been based on the common sense principle that newcomers should be expected to adapt to Australian culture — not the other way around.

Due to factors such as the skills-based nature of the immigration programme, most migrants have easily conformed to core Australian values such as the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, and the ‘fair go’ for all.

The successful integration of migrants from around the globe has made Australia perhaps the most harmonious multi-racial nation in the world.

This has been aided by migrants being self-selecting. Those who choose to start a new life are generally likely to have the will and ability to fit in and make a go of the opportunities afforded by their new homeland.

Refugees, however, are a special case. They have not come by choice, but have been forced to leave their countries because of war or political turmoil, and may therefore lack the skills and knowledge needed to cope with life in a very different society.

This is borne out by the unemployment statistics recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

One in three recent immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who are mainly refugees, are unemployed. The unemployment rate for this group is six times higher than the national average, and much higher than for newcomers from Asian and Southern and eastern European countries — most of who arrive as immigrants not refugees.

Refugees need far more intensive support and government-funded services to make the transition to living here.

The extra expense to taxpayers is why we need to cap the number of refugees accepted each year — and is also why we need strong border protection policies to enforce those caps.

This is also why we need to be hard-headed about immigration policy and reject unrealistic policies, such as the 50,000 annual refugee intake proposed by the Australian Greens.

The kind of debate about immigration that has been sparked by the recent events in Melbourne is commonplace in many European countries, where Middle Eastern and north African newcomers’ failure to integrate has frayed the social fabric.

Australia, thankfully, does not face anything like the same challenges France, Germany, and Sweden do.

Sydney-siders are, however, more familiar with these kinds of problems than those in other states.

This is due to the well-known unemployment, crime and other social problems that exist in parts of Western Sydney centred around Lakemba. The sad fact is that some Lebanese Muslim Australians, mostly from refugee backgrounds and families, have failed to repeat the successful path of education, work, and integration that is the norm for most immigrant groups — including the wave of Christian Lebanese who preceded them.

Community concerns about immigration have also been reinforced by recent instances of home-grown Islamic terrorism that have usually involved offenders from Middle-Eastern backgrounds.

In response, politicians are increasingly rejecting fluffy multicultural sentiment. And it isn’t only Coalition hardliners such as Peter Dutton who are preaching the need for all Australians to be held to the same cultural standards.

Labor MPs have also acknowledged the need for a robust commitment to Australian values. Hence, even Labor opposition education minister, Tanya Pilbersek recently said a future Labor government will encourage all schoolchildren to learn and recite Australia’s citizenship pledge — to promote commitment to our democratic beliefs, laws, and liberties.


Victoria Police establish African-Australian community taskforce to tackle youth crime

Talk is cheap

Victoria Police have established a community taskforce with African-Australian leaders to tackle youth crime, amid what the Chief Commissioner has described as an increase in public disorder and misbehaviour.

The taskforce will meet for the first time on Friday and is supported by senior African leaders in Melbourne.

Returning from a period of sick leave following a fatigue-related illness, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said he had met with community leaders to discuss how African-Australian youth crime had changed in recent times.

Chief Commissioner Ashton said the force had been dealing with home invasions and car-jackings for some time, and generally "catching the offenders quickly".

    "What's changed over and above that … has been an increase in public disorder and public behaviour, misbehaviour in public by groups of young people," he said. "That's been a bit different to what we've been dealing with.

"We've had a number of instances where we had to call out our public order response teams.

"There's been plenty of footage in the media of recent times with that occurring. That's probably changed a bit."

Victoria Police said the taskforce would assist law enforcement by:

    Providing information to police on emerging issues and hot spots, allowing police to act swiftly

    Establishing a more efficient channel for police to engage with African-Australian leaders and provide advice on how they can assist in preventing youth crimes and antisocial behaviour

    Providing police with information on incidents of racial vilification and other hate crimes aimed at African Australians

Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the third element of the taskforce was necessary due to threats being made to law-abiding members of the African community.  "I know [that] a number of people here today and others in the community have been subjected … to death threats," he said.

"I think it's really important this community has the opportunity to connect with Victoria Police to look at how best we can protect the community, how we can investigate these matters, if it's to do with racial vilification or hate crimes."

African-Australian Kot Monoah said the media coverage of the issue in recent weeks had negatively affected a broad range of community members. "Yesterday we were at Eagle Stadium in Werribee," he said. "We saw a young person from an African community coaching young people and someone approached [and said] 'if you ever touch my child, we're going kill you'.

"The other incident is … a group of young people who are doing very well at university saying 'we don't have a chance with the sorts of reporting that is happening. We'd better move overseas … where this sort of coverage is not there'."

Crime committed by African youth has received nationwide media attention in recent weeks, after Federal MP Greg Hunt described African gang crime as being "out of control" in Melbourne.

His comments came after several recent headline-grabbing crimes which were blamed on groups of young African men, including the trashing of an Airbnb property in Werribee and the repeated destruction of a community centre in Tarneit.
An orange substance is seen splashed on the wall of a bedroom.
Photo: Damage caused to an Airbnb house in Werribee after a party got out of control. (ABC News: Joanna Crothers)

They were followed by similar concerns voiced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who claimed Melburnians were too frightened to dine out because of the problem.

But Chief Commissioner Ashton described claims that Victoria was not a safe place to live as "complete and utter garbage".

"There are people being affected by crime, and that's always been the case and it's the same in every city in Australia ..., [but] Victoria is one of the safest places in the world to live," he said.  "The concept that somehow it's unsafe to go out of dinner … I think everyone in this room would go out places for dinner, I don't think anyone's sitting with the sheets cowering over their heads.

He acknowledged that people were concerned by what they had read and seen on the issue but said the crime rate in Victoria was actually going down.

"I don't think it's a crisis ... I think if you put it into context you've got a few hundred offenders engaging in offending in a city of 4.5 million people," he said.

"If you look across the totality of the Victorian crime situation, the last two quarters we've reduced total crime in the state. We're continuing to do that."

Chief Commissioner Ashton said Victoria Police would continue to take a "zero-tolerance" approach to youth offending, which he said was often the result of complex issues of social disadvantage and unemployment.

"We will continue to make arrests, we will continue to investigate and crack down on criminal behaviour, like we have been doing," he said.

But he reiterated that while police were describing the incidents as "street gang behaviour", the force did not consider the crimes as being committed by "structured, organised gangs" of people.

"What this is, it's young people coming together, networking through social media, coming together and engaging in criminal activity," he said.  "It's much more loosely organised than many might think in that regard. I think that's the point — it's not structured and organised, like a bikie gang or other gangs in Victoria."

Community leader Richard Deng also criticised politicians for using the term "African gangs". "We love to call them gangs, African gangs, and the majority of these kids are born here, they're bloody Australian. Let's call them that way."

Mr Monoah acknowledged there were behavioural issues some young people, often compounded by the use of drugs and alcohol, that needed tackling.

There's a problem with the over-representation of young Sudanese men in Victoria's justice system, but tackling the issue would be easier without hyped-up political rhetoric, Richard Willingham writes.

But he criticised politicians and the media for their handling of the issue. "These sorts of issues, it is our duty and responsibility as a society to address them without obviously mixing them with politics or without mixing them with any other messaging," he said.

He said a number of young people had been racially profiled in shopping centres and parks as a result of the recent attention to the issue. "It impacts on a number of law-abiding, innocent people," he said.

Mr Deng also called on politicians and the media not to divide the community over the issue.  "I would like to say again to the politicians — it is time you join hands with the community, engage, let's put politics aside and work together," he said.

"Using crime for political gain is not acceptable. As a community, we call on all politicians to work with us, work with Victoria Police, as a way forward."


The facts versus Leftist flim-flam

For all the millions of conversations and communications happening every minute of every day, there are two distinct national conversations occurring. They are totally divergent in source and substance and both lay claim to truth. Yet only one can be true; only one can be rooted in reality.

They are opposites — like Seinfeld’s Bizarro Jerry. On Sydney radio 2GB this week, host Mark Levy was commenting on the hype about Oprah Winfrey running for president. “Despite all the doom and gloom around the Trump presidency, what’s he done wrong so far?” asked Levy. It was an unremarkable reflection that generated no contention and was not intended to do so. For that audience it was a statement of the obvious.

Yet could you imagine such an observation being made on the ABC? Not only is it inconceivable that any ABC host would make such a call but we know any guest arguing the same would be treated as a heretic. The proposition would be howled down as controversial, partisan and absurd. Despite its charter obligations to objectivity and plurality, the ABC could not entertain such a reasonable point of view.

On the day of the US election, one of the ABC’s leading political analysts, former Labor staffer Barrie Cassidy, tweeted the “nightmare” was over and Donald Trump couldn’t win. He then echoed CNN’s take that Trump’s election would trigger the biggest stockmarket crash since 9/11. As we know, not only did Trump win but the markets are breaking records — on the upside.

Over the past few weeks I have been hosting radio on 2GB and 4BC across NSW and Queensland, speaking with up to 70 callers a day and receiving as many email comments on issues as diverse as the proposed sugar tax, African youth gangs, immigrant integration, education policy, energy costs, climate change and sexual harassment. Across the field the perspective of the audience would be as divergent from the ABC view on these issues as the Trump example.

Callers are concerned about immigration and poor integration, sceptical about government interventions, opposed to new taxes, worried about energy prices and phlegmatic about alarmist claims on the climate. They are professionals, public servants, retirees, tradespeople and teachers with differing experiences and observations to share. But few, if any, of their views are the sort you could ever expect to hear on ABC, SBS or other “love media” staples.

This is an extraordinary divide. Where the public broadcasters, academics and political/media class see “extreme events” and dangerous “climate disruption”, the mainstream see weather and crippling electricity prices. Where the mainstream sees obvious African gang-related crime and worries about failed integration of South Sudanese refugees, the so-called elites and even leading Victorian police see only “networked youth offenders” and standard delinquency.

Where one narrative sees interfering politicians, overbearing government and burdensome taxation, the other sees the need for extra levies to force us to limit our sugar or alcohol intake. One narrative watches the Golden Globes and sees sanctimony, hypocrisy and trial by media while the other sees Hollywood taking a brave stand.

Perhaps no discussion better demonstrates this divide than the response to an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald last week about volunteering. It was based on a speech by Catherine Walsh, billed as a writer and teacher, who argued that volunteering was counterproductive, undercut paid work and relieved governments of their responsibilities.

Walsh urged us to “stop volunteering” and to campaign for laws to “abandon” fundraising, volunteers and charities so that future generations could be relieved of the “expectation” to support these “inefficient” systems. I don’t know what was more astonishing, that an adult would say or write such a thing or that a media organisation would publish it uncritically.

When I read excerpts on radio the reaction was understandable. People from all walks of life who were volunteers or had benefited from their generosity called to voice their dismay. State emer­gency service workers, fire fighters, library volunteers, art gallery guides, Meals on Wheels workers, St Vincent de Paul helpers — the list was endless. They were astonished at the lack of gratitude, and the stupidity.

How could this country function without rural fire volunteers, Country Women’s Association branches or surf lifesavers? Conversely, how could we ever amass enough tax to run such vital community organisations as paid professional outfits? It is as insulting as it is absurd.

Yet it perfectly encapsulates the schism. Only someone deeply embedded in the publicly funded political/media class — that artificially created reality — could ­entertain or share such thoughts. The only volunteers Walsh ­admired were activists protesting to change laws and policies. This truly is bizarro world. Walsh ­lauded the attention-seekers and troublemakers while she dissed the people who quietly improve the daily lives of fellow citizens.

It is not hard to see which view is right. And it is not a matter of opinion. The facts support the case for volunteers. Whether you ­assess the quality of their outcomes — tangible and intangible — or the cost of replacing their services with paid employees, you can see the inestimable value of their contribution to the nation. We know the overwhelming sway of public opinion would support the volunteers. It is a no-brainer.

This is the clue for our politicians, especially on the right-of-centre. If they don’t have the instincts to know which narrative should guide them on any issue — if they are lured off course by the false narrative of the so-called elites — they just need to concentrate on the facts. Go with the ­argument that is right. Go with the practical approach — this is the ­essence of conservatism.

Malcolm Turnbull has had difficulty doing this. His instinct is to accept the plaudits of the political/media class and run from the frankness, or even coarseness, of the matter-of-fact mainstream ­approach. Occasionally he shows encouraging signs. He has been forthright on the African gang problem. Strength is required, ­because to be frank on these issues is to invite vile abuse.

Turnbull’s one hope to extend his prime ministership is to ­strongly identify with the mainstream narrative on core issues and, more importantly, provide tangible proof that he understands the arguments by delivering ­action. Energy policy provides the greatest opportunity but his complicated National Energy Guarantee is insufficiently divergent from existing or Labor policy to create a sharp contest. He could end up with endorsement from Labor states, leading to a moderately improved system compared with the present mess but with the issue politically neutered.

The Prime Minister’s energy policy is still beholden to futile Paris targets, despite the US withdrawing and the international community asking next to nothing of China or India. While he backs Paris at the expense of ­affordable and reliable energy, he fails to give the mainstream what they really need and want — the cheapest and most reliable electricity.

Our competing narratives can broadly be described as left and right. But we can imagine a series of Venn diagrams where the flanks of the major parties overlap to share and swap members on various issues. Even business leaders fuel the left side of some ­debates because of corporate posturing, dinner-party imperatives or fear of social-media-driven reputational damage.

Turnbull and the Coalition need to have faith that the numbers are with the mainstream and common sense. Sure, the left narrative — with its academic and political/media class support — makes most of the noise and generates its own momentum. But Brexit, Trump and even Tony ­Abbott circa 2013 demonstrate that voters can flock to mainstream candidates no matter the hectoring and prognostications of the so-called elites. John Howard could never have won a single election unless this were true.

This requires strong advocacy from conviction politicians to give mainstream voters a guiding light through the deceptions of the political/media class. It demands leadership, not opinion poll watching.

Yet this is not a matter of theories, ideology or complex plans. Rather, it is about the facts.

In the issues mentioned earlier the facts support the mainstream view. Every weather event we are seeing has been seen before — from thousands of bats dying in Sydney heatwaves as they were observed doing back in 1792 to a freezing arctic winter in North America. Those seeking to talk up daily events to suit a narrative are constantly caught out — the ­Bureau of Meteorology’s homogenisation fiddles are still largely unexplained and last weekend it claimed an all-time maximum for the Sydney region before having to correct the record with a hotter day in 1939 (homogenised or not).

And facts tell us Australia’s ­energy policies cannot have a discernible effect on the global environment but can make us economically uncompetitive. Facts tell us poor or elderly Australians are more likely to die of heat stress or cold exposure if they cannot afford to use their heating or cooling. Mainstream voters are right to demand politicians focus on what they can change rather than on what they pretend to be able to influence — they don’t buy the gesture politics.

If not for the publicly funded ABC, SBS, subsidised magazines, universities and bureaucratic ­interventions, the false narratives of the virtue-signallers would be soundly defeated in the open marketplace of ideas. Instead, their nonsense dominates.

For much of last year journalists and commentators on the ABC spoke of a “reckless” Trump increasing the risk of “thermonuclear war” because of his sabre-rattling over North Korea. Radio National this week interviewed Christopher Hill, the US diplomat who led the six-party talks and other efforts under George W. Bush and Barack Obama to end North Korea’s weapons programs. Host Hamish Macdonald and Hill joked and mocked Trump’s efforts at diplomacy. Yet it was Hill and the West who had been played for fools by North Korea, leaving the world with this nuclear-armed ­legacy, and it is Trump who has ­delivered stronger sanctions from the UN, US and China.

With the small but welcome ­development this week of the North and South holding talks, the ABC dropped its theme of Trump as the dominant and ham-fisted player and busied itself explaining why he could not claim credit for what had transpired. One moment its narrative had Trump bringing us to the brink of war (when things looked ominous) and the next we had the bellicose diplomacy of the world’s most powerful leader being irrelevant (when there were promising signs). This deception might pass muster on Q&A but it does not pass the pub test.

The national broadcaster quotes Al Jazeera, Buzzfeed and CNN to mock and sneer at Trump and the daily confected scandals but seems to have missed the ­import of what is happening with American taxation reforms, the global economy and other developments in international relations. If this is how jaundiced and inaccurate it can be on issues where we can all see the facts, ­imagine what it might be getting away with on education policy, healthcare issues, border protection controversies and the climate and energy debate.

Turnbull must be wary of the false narratives, eschew posturing, follow facts over ideology and connect with mainstream views. If he doesn’t, we will see another ­bizarro administration and the mainstream will wait longer for a more momentous reckoning.


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

12 January, 2018

Could The Government’s Youth Mental Health Package Hide  Another Marxist coup?

Yesterday the federal government announced a $100 million funding boost for youth mental health services.

This included $45 million in funding for mental health organisation beyondblue’s school-based Mental Health in Education initiative. This program aims to encourage good mental health and well-being practices for Australian children. It also aims provide parents and educators with the resources to recognise the signs of mental health challenges in children so effective early interventions can take place.

$30 million will also go to youth mental health organisation Headspace to fund more of their Headspace centres which provide direct mental health services to young people.

Of course, nobody objects to improving the mental health services available to young people. However sadly it is the case these days one must always look in detail at where the funding goes, as our children today are the target of leftist social reengineers pushing radical sex education on them as well as dangerous ideas such as gender theory.

The most prominent example of this was the Safe Schools Program designed by the Marxist academic Roz Ward. It started in Victoria in 2010 and was rolled out federally in 2013. Despite the material being available for all to see during that time it wasn’t until 2016 when it was subject to proper scrutiny.

In response to a backbench revolt Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham withdrew some of the material from the program and announced Safe Schools funding at a federal level would not be renewed.

With the Coalition governments in New South Wales and Tasmania ending the program at a state level as well one hoped that at least one side of politics realised the danger that radical LGBT education posed to vulnerable young children.

However closer scrutiny of this new funding package from the Coalition Government reveals that it is going to fund Safe Schools type resources. It would appear despite its public stance against Safe Schools it is trying to fund similar resources through a back-door method.

Two of the organisations named that will received $2 million over two years for telephone, webchat and online mental health help are ReachOut and QLife. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said of this “the extension of funding announced for these key child and youth mental health initiatives will provide a stable funding base for the great work done by these organisations”.

Looking at the websites of these two organisations parents should be just as worried about them as they were about Safe Schools as they both provide explicit sex and gender education resources. which describes itself as ‘Australia’s leading online mental health organisation for young people and their parents’. has an easily identifiable identity and gender section on its website. In its section ‘understanding your sexuality’ it tells young people to explore their sexuality ‘being young is a time for figuring out what works for you’. Its list of sexualities includes ‘pansexual’ and polysexual’ and even says you can choose labels such as ‘queer’ or ‘fluid’.

It also has a section ‘Everything you need to know about gender’ where it states that ‘gender is something that goes way beyond just male or female. For many people the gender they identify with doesn’t match with the gender they were assumed to be at birth’. It also encourages young people to explore their gender ‘different ideas and feelings towards sex and gender are a natural part of human diversity’.

ReachOut also has a section on sexual relationships where it has instructions on how to have sex for the first time, how to masturbate and even has advice on how to obtain an abortion. All this information is free for all young people of any age to obtain.

While ReachOut is also aimed at heterosexuals QLife is aimed solely at LGBT issues and describes itself as a ‘nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people’. It has various PDF guides available for anyone to download on topics such as gender diversity and relationships.

Even the mental health organisations where there seems to be a bipartisan support of their work have LGBT sections. Headspace at the bottom of its website proudly proclaims it ‘welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity’.

If the federal government wants to improve mental health services for young people and students, it would be better off setting up separate organisations rather than funding existing ones that are pushing radical sex and gender education. Sadly, this is not the good news story that it is being spun as in the mainstream media.


Minorities can do no wrong

Masquerading as minority oppression, victimhood is a thriving industry. Whether well-meaning or a sinister exercise to divide society according to ethnicity, colour, gender, religion, sexual orientation and social status, self-identifying minorities are demanding, and receiving, preferential treatment.

While ordinary Aussies have yet to be told to sit at the back of the bus, they watch in bewilderment and with rising anger as they see their national identity ­replaced by a patchwork of incoherent foreign values. Should they complain, new government agencies and statutes are there to keep them in their place and to ensure they keep their whiteness and cultural and ­religious values to themselves, lest they ­offend others.

Rather than oppress ­minorities, we pander to them. Complaining about a discriminatory “indigenous only” computer room can, at great personal cost, land you in court, as Queensland University of Technology students found.

Some minorities shamelessly exploit this obsequious regime. Centrelink refuses to collect data on polygamous marriages under Islamic law, despite the fact when claiming welfare, some families involve a domestic relationship with more than one wife. We indulge the tiny transgender, ­intersex “community” with gender-neutral toilets paid for by taxpayers and businesses.

To placate minorities, Victoria Police has regularly baulked at calling Middle Eastern crime by name and played down the dangers posed by violent Sudanese criminals, notwithstanding they are 44 times more likely to bash, rob and invade homes. When Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews ­referred to “out-of-control South Sudanese youth”, The Age ­accused him of making “unpleasant and inflammatory” comments to provoke “a predictably base ­reaction from those sensitive to immigration on racial grounds”.

Perhaps this is why Victoria Police told media before interrogating Saeed Noori, the accused driver who allegedly mowed down Christmas shoppers in Melbourne’s Flinders Street, that the attack was not terror-related. Noori later spoke of Allah and the mistreatment of Muslims. Police had similarly played down an Islamist angle after the siege in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton last June, despite the offender’s links to known terrorists.

Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore was quick to dismiss Man Haron Monis, the gunman who laid siege to the Lindt Cafe, in which two innocents died, as a terrorist, despite him displaying an Islamic State-like flag in the cafe window and having affiliated himself with the terrorist group.

When it comes to sentencing, the courts take The Age’s sensitive approach. Ibrahim Kamara, from Sierra Leone, received a suspended sentence of just over one year, with an 18-month good ­behaviour order, after admitting to five counts, including grooming and having sex with a minor. The ACT Supreme Court judge said “(Kamara) has tried to make a good start on his life in Australia”.

Sevdet Ramadan Besim planned to drive his car into a police ­officer performing duties on Anzac Day and then behead him to promote “violent jihad”. He ­received a minimum sentence of just 7½ years.

In NSW, an Islamic sect leader was the first person in Australia to be imprisoned over the genital mutilation of two sisters aged six and seven. Notwithstanding a 21 years maximum, the leader ­received 11 months’ jail, while his two accessories will serve a minimum of 11 months’ home detention. This sets a derisory bench­mark for future sentencing.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt refreshingly observes that “state courts should not be places for ideological experiments”. Yet they are. Judges have become politicians in robes and, like the police and other unelected authorities, selectively administer the law according to their prejudices.

Then there’s South Australia’s initiative to commit $4.4 million to commence indigenous “treaty” ­negotiations. It joins Victoria, which began similar Aboriginal engagement in 2016. An indigenous Referendum Council is pushing for a constitutionally elected indigenous body in federal parliament, a mechanism for treaty-making and a healing com­mission. There is talk of inserting a racial non-­discrimination clause in the Constitution and amending pro­visions allowing the common­wealth to make special laws for indigenous people on the basis of race, the very antithesis of American civil rights ideals.

Aboriginal broadcaster Stan Grant writes: “We don’t have to reckon with the treatment of ­Aboriginal people because they are invisible. Indigenous people become a postscript to Australian history.” When Australian taxpayers pay the equivalent of $43,000 a year for every First Australian, that’s some postscript.

In his Christmas message, Malcolm Turnbull told Australians we have much to be grateful for, not least that so many people of “so many different backgrounds, races and religions live together here in a harmony founded on mutual respect”. His sentiments are well intended and worthy but the multicultural policies he and Labor support have left us, in American commentator Pat Buchanan’s words, “irretrievably divided on separate shores”.

Australia no longer pursues the rapid assimilation of minorities. Rather, diversity is institutionalised. It would be foolish to believe profound and unpredictable consequences won’t follow as the silent majority reflects on its own segregation. Yet the louder it protests, the more it will be controlled. Civil liberties be damned.

It’s time to admit the safe ­waters around us are receding and we’re sinking like a stone.


Leftist West Australian government reverses cuts to education services for country children

The WA Government has backflipped on a controversial plan to shut down the state's Schools of the Air (SOTA), following an angry backlash from families in isolated and regional areas.

Premier Mark McGowan and Education Minister Sue Ellery revealed the Government would reverse its decision to close all five schools at the end of this year, saying the Government had taken its efforts to find savings too far.  "We made a rushed decision that left many Western Australians feeling anxious and distressed," Mr McGowan said. "We've listened to their concerns."

The decision comes just months after the Government was forced to reverse a decision to relocate Perth Modern School — the state's only selective high school — after a strong community backlash.

Along with the Schools of the Air closure, Mr McGowan said he would shelve planned cuts to gifted and talented programs and the closure of accommodation at Northam Residential College, and reverse a decision to freeze the intake of Level 3 classroom teachers.

The decision will reverse $23 million worth of cuts, which the Government says will be made up from spending cuts in other portfolios.

The decision to close the Schools of the Air, which educate hundreds of students, was announced in mid-December as part of a $64 million cut to the Department of Education budget.

At the time, Ms Ellery said remote students who had been enrolled in SOTA would continue to receive the same service through remote learning resources including the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE).

Parent groups responded angrily, with the Isolated Children's Parents' Association (ICPA) describing the decision as "absolutely brutal".

Other groups claimed the decision was made without consultation with the affected families.

In the lead-up to Christmas, hundreds of people attended a rally in Kalgoorlie to protest the school closures, with Wheatbelt Labor MLC Darren West telling the crowd the Government's decision took him by surprise.

The five SOTA schools have campuses in Carnarvon, Kalgoorlie, the Kimberley, Meekatharra and Port Hedland.


Carbon trading is the great green gamble

The great carbon trading tax heist came in the heady days immediately before the global financial crisis

It was dubbed the fraud of the century. A multi-billion-euro carbon trading sting which a French judge described as “unprecedented in the history of financial crimes”.

Investigators say a group defrauded billions of euros by purchasing emission allowances on the European market from abroad, using a complex network of shell companies and offshore accounts in Latvia, Cyprus and Hong Kong.

Because the allowances were purchased outside Europe, they were not subject to the European Union’s 19.6 per cent value added tax. According to French reports, frontmen acting as brokers then resold the allowances in Europe, taxes included. But instead of handing the VAT over to the correct authorities, gang members pocketed the cash to use in future trades.

The money was laundered before it was reinvested by placing it in a bank in China, where it was then handed over to businesses or transformed into playing chips at casinos.

French businessman Arnaud Mimran was sentenced last year to eight years in prison and fined €1 million ($1.5m) for his part in the 2008 swindle.

His co-mastermind, Israeli Sami Sweid, was gunned down in a motor scooter drive-by shooting before the trial commenced. Other gang members have fled to Israel in a bid to escape French justice.

The great carbon trading tax heist came in the heady days immediately before the global financial crisis, which swamped the world’s financial markets and crushed the nascent European carbon market.

It is one of many crimes that have dogged an industry which claims to have been founded on the highest of ideals: to help save the planet from climate change.

And it is one of the reasons that federal government attempts to allow Australian businesses to access international carbon dioxide emissions permits have been savaged by former prime minister Tony Abbott and his supporters.

Debate about the use of international permits rests on a series of assumptions: that action on climate change must be taken, that co-ordinated international action will be more cost-effective than countries acting alone, and that the international carbon trading community has finally got its act together.

The great French-Israeli carbon tax heist fits neatly into Interpol warnings about carbon trading markets issued in 2013.

“Unlike traditional commodities, which at some time during the course of their market exchange must be physically delivered to someone, carbon credits do not represent a physical commodity but instead have been described as a legal fiction that is poorly understood by many sellers, buyers and traders,” Interpol warns.

“This lack of understanding makes carbon trading particularly vulnerable to fraud and other illegal activity.

“Carbon markets, like other financial markets, are also at risk of exploitation by criminals due to the large amount of money invested, the immaturity of the regulations and lack of oversight and transparency.”

The international police agency listed the potential illegal activities including the tax scam played out in the French-Israeli heist.

The warning list comprises of:

* Fraudulent manipulation of measurements to claim more carbon credits from a project than were actually obtained.

* Sale of carbon credits that either do not exist or belong to someone else.

* False or misleading claims with respect to the environmental or financial benefits of carbon market investments.

* Exploitation of weak regulations in the carbon market to commit financial crimes, such as money laundering, securities fraud or tax fraud.

* Computer hacking/phishing to steal carbon credits, and theft of personal information.

However, despite the worrying criminal concerns, the biggest failings of the European carbon market have been by design.

Over-allocation of permits at a time of weakened economic activity following the global financial crisis saw prices plunge to a fraction of what was considered necessary to force businesses to change their greenhouse gas emitting ways.

Nonetheless, the industry has regrouped with revised rules, fresh markets and the first signs of a new attempt at international co-operation.

The Turnbull government signalled its intention to allow Australian businesses to buy international permits to cover their carbon dioxide emissions liabilities when releasing the final report of last year’s review of climate change policies on December 19.

“As flagged in 2015, the review considered the role of international units and as a result the government has now given in-principle support for their use,” according to Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.

“The final decision on the timing and appropriate quantity and quality limits will be taken by 2020 following further consultation and detailed analysis.”

Industry has welcomed the move.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox says business has been advocating for access to international credits as a cost-effective way to achieve Australia’s commitments under the Paris climate change agreement.

“It makes absolutely no sense to rule out this option by insisting that our commitments can only be fulfilled within our borders,” Willox says.

David Byers, interim chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia, says it is “an important step forward in developing a long-term sustainable approach to climate change policy’’.

Byers says access to international carbon units will give Australia more avenues for reducing emissions, including supporting carbon abatement projects in developing countries, such as reducing deforestation, combating illegal logging and restoring coastal and marine environments.

“This will ensure our emissions reduction efforts are environmentally effective and economically efficient, helping to meet Australia’s Paris commitments at the lowest cost,” Byers says.

“This is critical for securing long-term investment in the Australian resources sector.”

Abbott says his position on international carbon credits remains the same as it was when he was prime minister and Liberal Party leader.

“I don’t support carbon trading which is a carbon tax under a different name and I certainly don’t support overseas carbon credits being available to Australian businesses,” Abbott tells The Australian. “That just means that Aussie consumers end up shovelling our money to foreign carbon traders and we all know the potential for rorts there.”

Abbott’s concerns are shared by many green groups, which have reached the conclusion they were comprehensively outmanoeuvred by big business on carbon trading in the past. Their preference is now for strict carbon pricing at such a high level that it forces companies to change behaviour.

There are signs, however, that carbon trading is returning to international favour. After years of painful negotiation, the European Parliament and EU governments have agreed to reforms to put the market on a more solid foundation. Excess permits have been cancelled and a reserve system introduced to stop the market becoming saturated.

China has launched an emissions trading system that brings together existing regional schemes covering the power sector. Electricity accounts for almost half of China’s emissions, which means the new market is already bigger than the entire EU scheme.

A new Carbon Pricing in the Americas initiative was launched in Paris in December. It may eventually link emissions trading schemes in Canada, Colombia, Chile and Mexico, and include individual US states such as California and Washington. In total, there are now 42 national and 25 sub-national jurisdictions putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, eight of which were launched last year.

Some commentators are saying that for the first time it looks as if a “global coalition for carbon pricing”, which was advocated at the 2015 Paris summit by former French president Francois Hollande, is a real possibility.

But not everyone thinks a linked global trading system is a good idea.

In an article in Nature magazine last March, Jessica Green from New York University argued a global network of cap-and-trade systems would deliver greater complexity and fewer emissions cuts. At this point, Green warns, carbon trading is more a political fix than an effective way to mitigate climate change.

“Without stringent caps and careful management, cap-and-trade systems have scant effect on net emissions,” she says.

Green argues that policymakers should first limit links to other markets. Carbon trading policies should be designed to avoid over-allocation and ensure rising prices. And policymakers should eliminate loopholes that limit the environmental effectiveness of cap and trade, she says.

“The worst possible outcome of linked markets is a set of policies that appear to address climate change but allow emissions to continue to rise,” Green says.

In theory, linking markets together should promote trading, smooth financial flows and lower the overall cost of reducing emissions. But Green believes the reality is more complicated.

“Initial attempts to join up trading schemes in Europe and in California and Quebec have led to price crashes and volatility, not stability,” she says.

Opening the way for international permits would certainly undercut the carbon farming market nurtured by the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund. The price of carbon abatement under the ERF achieved an average price of $13.08 per tonne, much higher than international prices but still considered too low to build a significant domestic offsets industry.

David Hone, chief climate change adviser for Royal Dutch Shell, says price volatility has been a curse for the international market. Over 20 years more than 8000 projects had been registered, representing some $US300 billion ($382bn) of clean energy and emissions reduction investment under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. About 1.6 billion certificates are now virtually worthless.

“One estimate claims that the CDM has had a material impact on global emissions, with reductions of nearly 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014, or 1 per cent of global emissions,” Hone says. “But the CDM has been fraught with problems, the most dramatic being a substantial fall in demand for the emissions reductions that it offers.”

This had led to the collapse of many project developers, the failure of hundreds of projects and a backlog of certificates that could still be issued for further trading.

“A great deal of time, money and political capital has been invested in getting the CDM to where it stands today, so not surprisingly there is some ill feeling over its demise and some attempts to recoup losses before moving on to something new,” Hone says.

Fraud and incompetence has made carbon trading a buyers’ market, which makes international permits attractive to companies wanting to offset emissions at least cost. The buyers’ market makes cheap international permits an obvious attraction for companies seeking a least-cost way to cover their emissions liabilities as the Paris Agreement goals tighten.

Australia’s political focus is firmly driven by runaway electricity prices. International permits may have a role to play.

But the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement makes a truly international market more difficult to achieve. Fraud and cross-border swindles can only add further heat to the climate change conundrum.


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

11 January, 2018


South Australia planning to build the world’s largest thermal solar plant

Will someone save South Australians from their crazy Green/Left government?  They have got a big battery that peters out in only a matter of minutes and windmills that fall over in South Australian wind and now they are going to get something that other people have been trying to make work for many years.  Solar thermal just does not work as advertised.  They sometimes even use more energy than they produce and require huge subsidies to keep working.  The Ivanpah plant in California and the Abengoa experiment in Spain are cases in point

Following the success of the world’s largest battery, South Australia is aiming to build the world’s largest thermal solar plant.

SolarReserve’s $650 million, 150 megawatt Aurora solar thermal plant has received state development approval.

Construction of the facility will begin this year.

South Australian acting energy minister Chris Picton called the project a welcome development for the state.

"It's fantastic that SolarReserve has received development approval to move forward with this world-leading project that will deliver clean, dispatchable renewable energy to supply our electrified rail, hospitals and schools," Mr Picton said

“South Australia is fast becoming a global centre for the development of renewable energy with storage, with a range of other projects set to come online over the next few years.”

Commenting on the latest approvals, SolarReserve chief executive Kevin Smith said it is a major milestone.

“It is a significant step in the development of the Aurora solar thermal power station, which will bring clean power generation technology to South Australia,” Mr Smith said.

The Clean Energy Council executive general manager Natalie Collard told Fairfax Media, "the price that the government will pay for power is remarkably low, considering solar thermal is a very young technology in Australia.

"The state has taken a series of positive steps towards greater energy independence which are really starting to pay off. And it has already met its target of 50 per cent renewable energy almost a decade early," she said.

“South Australia is providing the rest of the country a glimpse of a renewable energy future. Our electricity system is rapidly moving towards one which will be smarter and cleaner, with a range of technologies providing high-tech, reliable, lower-cost power."

The power plant will be able to generate 500-gigawatt hours of energy annually, providing power to around 90,000 homes, with eight hours of full load storage.

Once constructed, the facility will be the world’s largest single-tower solar thermal power plant.

It works by using multiple heliostats - which are in essence turning mirrors - to focus solar energy onto a single central tower.

This tower uses molten salt technology to store this heat, which it can later use to create steam to turn a turbine and generate electricity when needed.

The plant will displace the equivalent of 200,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Australia has two other large-scale solar thermal plants, a 44-megawatt plant at Kogan Creek in Queensland, and a small 9.3-megawatt facility built to support AGL’s Liddell coal-fired power plant in NSW, although neither is a single-tower style of thermal solar plant.

South Australia drew international focus late last year when, in a partnership with Tesla, it installed the world's largest single battery unit, capable of powering 30,000 homes.

The new plant will be located 30 kilometres north of Port Augusta, in South Australia.


Global cooling:  It's official!

The oceans are gradually losing the heat they accumulated in the years of El Nino

THERE’S no doubt last year was hot but eyebrows have been raised following a dump of climate data. Globally the world actually cooled slightly.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) 2017 annual climate statement, released on Wednesday, the world got slightly cooler last year compared to 2016.

But put away dreams of skiing down the Blue Mountains or snow gently falling in Brisbane’s CBD — 2016 was the hottest year globally on record, temperatures are still well above average and 2017 will go down as Australia’s third warmest year in history.

Climate researchers have said Australia remains “vulnerable” to the effects of climate change and only “political inertia” was preventing concrete steps being taken to tackle the issue head-on.

The BoM’s Head of Climate Monitoring, Dr Karl Braganza, said the national mean temperature in 2107 was 0.95C warmer than average.

“Despite the lack of an El Nino — which is normally associated with our hottest years — 2017 was still characterised by very warm temperatures,” he said.


Erratic weather: with both record highs and lows

Not much of a story in that for Warmists

The drop-dead bats of Sydney’s summer shocker have joined the frozen lizards of Florida as proof positive the weather gods have gone crazy.

With Donald Trump calling for a bit more global warming, Australia can only dream of getting a dose of America’s current Arctic chill.

It’s a steep learning curve. Climate change can now make things hotter and colder simultaneously, with the strangest of natural results.

As temperatures plunge in the US, frozen sharks have washed ashore after drowning because water had frozen in their gills. In the usually balmy, tropical southern panhandle of Florida, iguanas have fallen out of palm trees frozen solid. The reptiles were still capable of being thawed if placed into the sun.

In Australia, it has been a similar story but opposite.

As temperatures soared to an eight-decade high of 47.3C in western Sydney this week hundreds of bats fell out of trees dead in Campbelltown, literally cooked alive. News of the brain-fried flying foxes travelled around the world.

Australian fruit bats at home

Heat-affected bats fell out of the trees in Sydney in 1790 also.  Yes. 1790, not 1970.  Australia has always had episodes of extreme heat in summer

Given such shocking extremes it can be difficult to maintain perspective.

But even the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate monitoring, Karl Braganza, admitted yesterday it was not unusual for Australia to have the hottest city temperature in the world at this time of year, as it did this week.

The coincidence of the northern hemisphere winter with summer across the equator will see to that.

But BoM says its homogenised national temperatures are continuing to creep ahead, confirming concerns about a gradually warming world.

At the end of the day, however, weather is still the weather and climate, climate.

Current extreme events are not unprecedented and the fashion for “attribution science” to decide if they are more or less likely to occur does not change that.

Natural variation is still not fully understood. Unless you are prepared, as London columnist Matt Ridley controversially has been, to take the really, really long view.

Ridley concedes the world is slowly slipping back into a proper ice age after 10,000 years of balmy warmth.

But he says where interglacials start abruptly with sudden and rapid warming they end gradually with many thousands of years of slow and erratic cooling.

In geological terms it’s a sure bet another ice age is on its way.

When it does come, maybe in many thousands of years’ time, some things will remain the same.

It’s just the bats, the sharks and humans who really will have reason to complain about the weather.


Australian East Coast Narrowly Avoids a Widespread Blackout – Thanks to Coal

The spare coal capacity which saved the day during the heatwave will soon no longer be available.

Energy giant AGL plans to shutter its NSW based Liddell coal plant by 2022. They have so far refused federal government entreaties to keep the plant open. AGL plans to divert future investment towards government subsidised renewable projects.

WHY wouldn’t AGL shut down Liddell coal-fired power when global warming theory obsessed politicians are shelling out billions upon billions of taxpayers money to fund the unreliable energy, corporate rent-seeking, subsidy-sucking renewables scam.

I do hope “save the planet” greens and climate freaks suffer their fair share of zero electricity in high-demand times. Or, maybe it will take one of their relatives or loved ones to die of heatstroke or freezing cold for them to quit the collective climate change hysteria that is hurting the poor and destroying economies.

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

10 January, 2018

Australia's Green Party: A rabble without a cause

The Greens have been heavily infiltrated by old Trots.  Both Rhiannon and Bandt are former members of Trotskyite organizations. Trots are the heavy haters among Leftists

The similarity between the words “progress” and “progressive” is one of the great curiosities of modern politics. Could perchance the two be related?

The meaning of the noun progress is clear enough, having served as a statement of political intent since the dawn of democracy. Progressive, on the other hand, is an adjective struggling to give coherence to a succession of exotic causes, many of which are likely to send us backwards.

Which leads us to the Greens, a party easily bored by the prosaic challenges of government — balancing budgets, defending borders, efficient service delivery, that sort of thing. How will the party fill its working day, now the battle of the rainbow has been won?

No amount of pink champagne could hide the Greens’ disappointment when the changes to the Marriage Act were agreed. It must have hurt like Hades to see a Liberal prime minister lapping up the applause. Even worse, with such a potent issue now off the agenda, the Greens are beginning to look like a rabble without a cause. In the fickle world of progressive politics, that is the quickest way to irrelevance.

Adam Bandt was less than exuberant when the Marriage Act amendments were passed. It wasn’t victory, he told parliament, merely “a watershed moment”. It was “not the end and not the beginning” since equality “will continue to elude us well after this bill is enshrined in law”.

What on earth could he mean? We were led to believe that the right to be joined in secular matrimony was la cause du siecle, the fulfilment of the promise of liberte, egalite et fraternite, not to mention sorority, and that once the legislation was passed we would ­finally be able to hold up our heads as members of a civilised nation.

But no, says Bandt, it is just “a step on a long, winding path towards justice”.

“We must remember that we are only dismantling one part of a system that bombards LGBTIQ people from every angle with a message that they are different,” he said.

A long, winding path towards justice is an essential element of the progressive narrative. Another is the dark past and bloody struggle, and Bandt made sure there was one of those as well.

“We must remember that every step towards equality for LGBTIQ Australians has been paid for with pain and sometimes blood — the blood of queer Australians and their allies who took to the streets to stand up for their rights, only to be batted down by batons and fists,” said Bandt, reaching for the cliche bowl. Australian lesbians and gays had faced “hundreds of years of persecution”; had been “callously murdered for daring to be who they are”; “innocent blood was spilt”; it was “an unspeakable tragedy”; the horrors of which “many of us can only imagine”.

A postal plebiscite, scrupulously conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and bloodless as far as we can tell, seems a tame ending to such an epic struggle. It is little wonder Bandt felt obliged to denounce this dastardly democratic act. It was a “final humiliation ... a cruel twist”. How so? Because “the fundamental rights of a minority were decided by the very majority that oppressed them for so long”.

It seems unlikely that sex will return to being simply an activity rather than a political cause. The Greens have invested too much in these boutique human rights to give it away, even if their search for aggrieved minorities is yielding ­diminishing returns.

The Greens’ next big cause is not immediately clear. The Labor Party has stolen their pitch on ­climate change, and it seems only a matter of time before the federal ALP turns its back on coal altogether. Labor is well on its way to embracing Palestine. The Greens lost the moral high ground on asylum-seekers eight years ago, when the toll of drownings became too big too ignore.

The struggle to carve out a constituency in a crowded market for minor parties is a challenge for Green parties across the democratic world. In Germany, the Greens finished in sixth place in last September’s federal election as they struggled to hold their own against Die Linke, a left-wing populist party. Green parties are struggling for members in Britain and France too. In Australia, Richard Di Natale’s strategy of leaning towards the mainstream is in trouble. The Greens failed to maintain double-digit support for much of last year.

A convincing by-election victory in the Victorian state seat of Northcote late last year and the strong possibility that the Greens could win the federal Victorian seat of Batman in the event of a by-election show the party’s resilience, but highlight its dilemma.

It can clearly hold its own in demographically exceptional enclaves where university lecturers outnumber plumbers, but if its support nationally is to rise beyond 10 per cent it needs wider appeal.

The party’s internal tensions are strongest in NSW, where the Left Renewal faction is in open revolt against the federal leadership.

“Talk about misreading the portents of our times,” Hall Greenland wrote recently on his blog Watermelon Papers. “Social democracy everywhere shifts to the left and the Australian Greens parliamentary leadership decides to go in the opposite direction.”

Greenland says Labor has stolen the march on ­renewable energy and urges the party to keep the ecological ­“crisis” at the centre of its agenda. His vision for the future for the party is two-speed: an “activist extra-parliamentarianism” — an ugly word for an ugly concept — while using parliament for “carrying popular causes”.

In the absence of any other ­viable radical progressive minor party, the Greens clearly cannot be written off. The apparent drought of moral crusades should not fool us into thinking that progressive politics is likely to become any less fruitier.

After all, there is one thing we know for certain: when the next batty progressive cause arrives, it will catch the centre-right by complete surprise. It will make the mistake of assuming that the cause will collapse under the weight of its own craziness, failing once again to recognise that the unopposed absurdity of today becomes the conventional wisdom of ­tomorrow.


Students’ skills ‘no issue’ for employers

Universities and academics have hit back at claims some graduates are being poorly prepared for work, accusing Education Minister Simon Birmingham of using ­student attrition rates as “political fodder” and questioning how ­recent $2.2 billion funding cuts will improve the sector.

Senator Birmingham said yesterday that new figures on completion rates and degree suit­ability in the workforce showed an increase in non-completions and a fall in employer and graduate satisfaction levels, “so we need to nip that in the bud”.

An annual government-­funded employer satisfaction survey found that more than 10 per cent of graduates surveyed said their qualification was “not at all” ­important and another 15 per cent “not that” important for their job soon after beginning.

Innes Willox, head of employer organisation Australian Industry Group, said the survey showed that some new entrants to the labour market were “verging on the unemployable” ­because their tertiary credentials were not relevant to the field they were in.

Universities Australia chief Catriona Jackson saidg employer satisfaction had risen in all categories of graduate skills since last year’s survey, including employability, teamwork, adaptability and general communication skills.

“This survey gives us important, transparent information to guide our understanding of the complex transition from study to work,” Ms Jackson said.

She said the research found that more than four in five ­employers were satisfied with university graduates who worked for them, and 88 per cent of ­graduates felt their qualification prepared them well for their current job.

She stepped up criticism of $2.2bn in funding cuts recently pushed through in the form of a two-year freeze in federal grants funding.

Senator Birmingham yesterday defended the cuts, saying they were designed to “actually see outcomes from unis that are a value to not only taxpayers but importantly to the students themselves and, of course, to our overall economy”.

National Tertiary Education Union president Jeannie Rea ­accused Senator Birmingham of creating “political fodder” out of university outcomes.

She said the question of whether ­students found their ­degrees relevant immediately upon entering the workforce needed to take into account “ongoing qualification needs” in many industries.

“The more interesting thing is to look five years out, so that someone might start in a job with an undergraduate degree, then in order to progress their career go on to a masters, and so on,” Ms Rea said.

“One of the things that’s also missed is that it’s not all people in their early 20s, but many are ­mature-aged students who’ve had to change their job; sometimes they’ve been made redundant and had to choose a new field where they start again at the bottom of the pile.”


Mark Latham is saving Australia Day

The national day has been under threat from insidious leftie councils and those radical yoofs over at Triple J, but the former Labor leader is fighting back — and he’s got a very interesting partner in patriotism.

Alice Springs councillor and indigenous leader Jacinta Price will be the voice of the campaign to keep January 26 as the national day in a series of radio and online video ads.

“We’re also looking to raise enough money to get the ads on TV in the week before Australia Day,” Latham tells Strewth!.

Latham and Price argue any symbolic shift from the arrival of the First Fleet — considered a day of invasion and subjection by many Australians — would not help the plight of indigenous Australians in any practical way.

Latham also thinks the First Fleet’s arrival was a pretty good thing.

“It was the arrival of Western civilisation to our shores: our democratic system, education, healthcare ... And you could argue it was the beginning of multiculturalism in Australia — all those diverse people and cultures that came.”

Both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten say the date will never, ever change but Latham doesn’t exactly trust them to hold the line: “Labor was against same-sex marriage and then came under a lot of pressure ... and there are people in the Labor left who have publicly said they want to change the date.”

Latham and Price will unveil their campaign in Sydney’s trendy, leftie Glebe tomorrow with the help of Sydney PR king and regular Latham collaborator Max Markson.


Legal experts call for changes to NSW roadside drug testing advice

LEGAL experts are calling for reforms to confusing government advice on ‘drug-driving’ after hundreds of drivers say they have tested positive for marijuana despite being sober.

Some drivers even say they have tested positive almost two weeks after taking the drug. Some say they have even been punished after inhaling passive smoke, eating hemp seeds or rubbing hemp balm on their skin — which is perfectly legal.

The NSW Centre for Road Safety website states THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) can typically be detected in saliva by a Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) stick for up to 12 hours after use. Stimulants such as speed, ice and pills, can typically be detected for one to two days.

Stiff penalties apply for those caught by the state’s roadside drug stings. Drivers caught with drugs in their system will face court, could lose their licence, be fined and end up with a criminal record. They can also be directed to undertake driver education programs.

Leading criminal barrister Stephen Lawrence said he has heard of hundreds of cases where drivers have tested positive to cannabis — despite saying they have smoked marijuana “well outside of the 12-hour period”. In several cases he said people claimed to have last smoked pot almost two weeks before they were busted.

“It’s possible, I suppose, that some of these people may be lying about when they last consumed cannabis,” he said.

“But, when you, as a magistrate or a criminal lawyer see a constant run of cases where people are saying exactly the same thing and you judge it, as a practitioner, not to be said in a self-serving way — you form a view.

“A lot of practitioners have certainly now formed the view that the 12-hour figure is misleading.”

Lawrence said it has been a “constant issue” since the state’s government announced a crackdown on drug driving in 2015 — warning that mobile drug testing would triple to almost 100,000 tests each year by 2017.

He has written several papers on the issue and said the government needs to look at its advice urgently.

In a scathing judgment, Lismore magistrate David Heilpern also said he had heard hundreds of similar cases in the space of just a few months in which drivers said they had waited days, sometimes weeks, after smoking cannabis before driving — but still tested positive.

He said the prosecution remained silent throughout hundreds of cases early in 2016, even when the defendants claimed they tested positive for cannabis after passive smoking, eating hemp seeds, rubbing hemp balm or taking medicinal tincture.

“In the vast majority of cases the time frame has been over 12 hours,” Mr Heilpern said. “On not one occasion has the prosecution cavilled with this contention. “The prosecution have remained silent when people claim that they consumed cannabis weeks prior.

“Not once has any scientific evidence been produced to this court that supports the contention that the final or any other test only works for 12 hours.

“It could be that every single one of those defendants are lying to the police. However, on balance, I find that this is unlikely.”

Mr Lawrence agreed, adding: “As a criminal lawyer, you get a sense, over a long period of time, as to whether people are being self-serving and dishonest or whether they are being honest and frank to you.”

However, Professor Jan Copeland, director of National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, said the idea a driver could test positive to cannabis days after smoking it was based on a misunderstanding of how the oral test works.

She said the oral swab does not test for metabolised cannabis which can stay in the system for up to 90 days for regular users.

“They only test for the active THC,” she told Fairfax Media. “While there can be a delay of hours since the person smoked, they can still have active THC in their blood and be impaired.

“So the idea that you can be picked up on an oral fluid swab and not be impaired is very unlikely.”

Mr Lawrence said motorists who feel like they’ve been misled by the government’s advice may be able to make an appeal.

“It is a defence to a criminal charge if a person has an honest and reasonable mistaken belief in a state of affairs which, if it exists, means they are not guilty,” he said.

“So for example, if you had an honest and reasonable belief based on things that you read on a government website about how long active THC stays in your system, you had structured your behaviour around that advice and then you tested positive for a roadside test — then you should be seeking legal advice about whether you might have a defence of honest and reasonable mistake of fact.”

However, he added that drivers should not come to the conclusion that there is a safe amount of cannabis to use or a fixed time frame they should stick to. “Because illicit drugs are not regulated, there is no way to tell you how much you have taken,” he said.

The Centre For Road Safety’s Executive Director Bernard Carlon told that the length of time that illegal drugs can be detected by MDT depends on the amount taken, frequency of use of the drug, and other factors that vary between individuals.

“Any positive screening test at the roadside is always confirmed by a laboratory test,” he said. “With cannabis, a driver is only charged with a presence offence if THC, the psychoactive component of the drug, is confirmed in the sample.

“These illegal drugs can be detected in your saliva by an MDT for a significant time after drug use, even if you feel you are OK to drive.”

A NSW Police spokesman said roadside drug testing will continue as normal. “NSW Police are committed to drug testing drivers for illicit substances and will continue to have a highly visible presence on our roads, in order to save lives,” a spokesman said.

“All police area commands, along with the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, have the resources and supplies to conduct random drug testing at any location at any time.

“Driving with drugs in your system is dangerous to yourself and other road users for a number of reasons, including slow reaction times, loss of concentration, poor decision making, and aggressive driving.”


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

9 January, 2018

We’re sick of feeling ­unsafe': Melbourne family to FLEE to Brisbane after being targeted by African crime wave in repetitive break-ins and car thefts

A young family is planning to flee their homes and jump ship to the next state over after being repetitively targeted by African crime gangs.

The Beaton family, from Hopper's Crossing in Melbourne's west, have been the victims of multiple home invasions, car break-ins and burglaries in the past year alone.

Sick of the violent crime spate in their neighbourhood, parents Danielle and Eric Beaton have decided to abandon their beloved Melbourne and move the kids to Queensland later this month, The Australian reports.

'We're just tired. Our car has been burgled three times this year and I can't even turn my back on my kids while they're playing on their bikes in the street,' Mrs Beaton said.

The couple made the difficult decision to leave extended family behind in Melbourne in November and both Danielle, a property manager, and her road-worker husband Eric have new jobs lined up in Queensland

Gang members of African appearance began terrorising the Beatons in early 2017, loitering in their front garden and attempting to break into their home.

The family-of-five reached breaking point when they returned home one evening to find their property completely ransacked.

'The kids' rooms had been trashed, drawers taken out of chests and dumped everywhere and stuff smashed for no reason. And just the weirdest stuff was taken,' Mrs Beaton said.

Bizarrely, the thugs only stole petty items such as cigarettes but left behind an expensive iPad and a Samsung phone.

The family then moved to a neighbouring suburb to escape the relentless crime, but soon after their 2004 Ford Territory was broken into three times.

Mrs Beaten and her children felt increasingly unsafe in their own home and couldn't even walk alone at night in fear of being targeted.

She even began driving her teenage kids the short walk to-and-from their part time jobs and school.

'We’re just sick of feeling ­unsafe... It sounds stupid, but when you've got a 15-year-old daughter and you know a gang is heckling her from the park and threatening her as she walks home, what are you meant to do?' she added.

The spate of African crime has divided public opinion on the severity of the issue.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton recently made comments about Melbourne people being too afraid to go out for dinner, a claim which was stubbornly refuted by residents.

Most recently, a Melbourne woman was struck across the face and forced to wait in terror as up to 14 men of African appearance ransacked her house during a vicious home invasion.

Police believe the same group also punched and kicked a 16-year-old boy they approached in a vehicle while he walking in Noblebanks Drive at Cairnlea.


African youth violence the outcome of failed diversity policies

Jennifer Oriel

Labor accuses the federal Liberal government of playing politics with African crime in Vic­toria. But Labor has played politics with ethnicity for decades. The result is a booming industry that trades in a culture of complaint and blame-shifting. The industry is funded by the taxpaying public but breeds hostility towards Australians. Its beneficiaries enjoy access to special funding and affirmative ­action while claiming to be oppressed. Its leaders cry racism but can rationalise racist violence when the aggressors are black and the victims are white.

It takes a long time for ideologues to concede error. One would have thought a mob of African males invading a home and punching a woman in the face might make multiculturalists repent. Perhaps a mob of African males attacking teens on the street might stir Melbourne’s green-left to unmitigated sympathy ­— for the victims.

Imagine a white mob shouting “get blacks” before terrorising a black neighbourhood. The establishment would work overtime to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice in Victoria’s right-on courts. Public media would be on the case, investi­gating white supremacy and damning ­racism. But in fact it was a black mob shouting “get whites” in a working-class suburb, so it’s all quiet on the PC front.

Victorian Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry seemingly made light of concerns about youth gang violence in a tweet: “Breaking: there are citizens out to dinner in Mansfield tonight and they’re not worried.”

The following night at least 10 men of ­African appearance reportedly invaded a home and terrorised a 59-year-old woman by punching her in the face and threatening to kill her. That’s 10 men ganging up on one woman. But she’s white and they’re black so — whateva.

The same night a black mob allegedly ­attacked teenagers. In one attack they set upon a boy walking along the street about 9.30pm. They took a baseball bat to the boy’s legs and assaulted him. Justice Lasry, fearlessly dining out in Mansfield, might spare a thought for the terrorised people in working-class suburbs bearing the brunt of malformed multicultural policy.

As part of the federal inquiry into ­migration settlement outcomes, the Liberal government wished to amend the Migration Act to permit mandatory cancellation of visas for violent offenders aged between 16 and 18. Labor rejected this, justifying the dissent by appeal to the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, which objects to “any attempts to apply provisions under section 501 to juveniles”.

It also rejected the recommendation that anyone over 18 convicted of violent offences such as assault, sexual offences or the possession of child pornography have their visas cancelled under section 501 of the Migration Act. The Labor Party rejected two further recommendations to strengthen counter-terrorism. In short, if you’re a violent minor, rapist, child pornographer or budding terrorist of immigrant descent, Labor has your back. Not even Dante could conjure up a ­circle of hell that foul.

We have endured a protracted season of denial about the relationship between particular ethnic groups and criminal activity. However, in its submission to the federal ­inquiry, Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency revealed that since 2014 there has been a 28 per cent increase in unique offenders who were born in Sudan. In 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics illustrated that people born in Sudan had the highest imprisonment rate, followed by persons born in Samoa.

Rebecca Urban reported in The Weekend Australian that Sudanese youth offend at a rate about four times the national average. Sudanese-born people are not 1 per cent of Victoria’s population, yet youth born there are responsible for 13.9 per cent of aggravated robberies and 7.4 per cent of home invasions.

Rather than stopping gangs punching women, police and children, PC elites are busy discussing terminology. They’re concerned about the term “gang”. Apparently it’s causing the yoof to invade homes, beat up women and children. We are advised to use the term “networked offending”. The PC elites can’t concede their multicultural program is a failed social experiment because it means defunding a big state industry.

Victoria’s Labor government increased funding for multicultural affairs from $46.8 million to $51.1m. The budget for multiculturalism includes $21.8m for language services and $2m for migrant workers’ rights. An additional $19m was allocated to the government’s multicultural policy statement. Funding for Aboriginal policy was increased from $33.5m to $56.2m in the same budget.

In submissions to the migrant settlement outcomes inquiry, groups such as the South Sudanese Community Association in Vic­toria and the Islamic Council of Victoria ­requested more funding for programs. The SSCAV expressed concern that “a number of young people of South Sudanese origin have engaged in serious criminal activities”. However, there was little analysis of the cause of the violence in the Sudanese community ­beyond the trauma of fleeing civil war in Sudan. Instead, negative behaviour was ­attributed broadly to the Australian media, police, teachers and “racial hostility and discrimination in sections of the Aus­tralian community”.

Australians have spent billions on the multicultural industry over decades. With unprecedented debt, stagnating wages, high taxes and soaring basic living costs, we ­can no longer afford to fund these big state social experiments.


Volunteers told to use gender-neutral words to avoid causing offence

VOLUNTEERS for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have been told to use gender-neutral language to avoid causing offence.

The Games Shapers handbook, which has been handed to 15,000 volunteers and official staff and contractors instructs workers to avoid phrases like “ladies and gentlemen” and “boys and girls”.

It also includes instructions to use the term parents instead of mother or father and partners, rather than husbands or girlfriends.

However, the guidelines have been labelled “political correctness gone insane”.

“We can avoid words like guys, girls, ladies and gentlemen, and instead use words like students, everyone, folks and all,” the handbook states, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin.

It also reportedly tells volunteers to refrain from calling para-athletes “extraordinary or superhuman”.

“Some community members oppose the use of ‘able-bodied’ because it implies that people with accessibility requirements lack ‘able bodies’ or the ability to use their bodies well,” the guidebook said.

“(Also) it can be embarrassing for them to be referred to as ‘extraordinary’ or ‘superhuman’…. Para-athletes don’t consider themselves more unique or over achieving than any other athlete.”

The handbook also instructs volunteers to not take selfies with athletes in their uniforms.

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the rules were “common sense gone mad” and urged Games organisers to rethink their instructions.

“We might be a bit folksy and we might use a bit of different language but, at the end of the day, let’s just be Queenslanders,” Ms Frecklington said yesterday. “As long as people are being respectful, let Queenslanders be Queenslanders.”

One of the games’ volunteers Liz McCleary, from Southport, also fears political correctness will kill the character of the Commonwealth Games. “It (volunteering) was something I was really looking forward to, but not anymore,” she said.

“This whole political correctness has gone too far. For us not to be able to say things like boys and girls, it’s just stupidity. “No one wants to belittle anybody, but who says this is belittling anyone? “I really feel for the next generation because they are going to be so confused.”

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) chief executive Mark Peters said the handbook guidelines were a response to concerns raised by some of the volunteers about interacting with athletes, officials and guests from different cultures and backgrounds.

He said the guidelines were not compulsory, but a suggestion on how to handle situations. “We’re saying be yourself, that’s why you’ve been selected,” Mr Peters told reporters.

“We’re just trying to give them guidelines without scaring them ... can you get it wrong? Not if you’ve got a smile, a friendly face and you’re genuinely trying to help people.”


Australian workers and businesses say universities failing to deliver useful degrees

MORE than a quarter of university graduates say their degrees are almost useless for their jobs, while a leading employment group says some new graduates are verging on unemployable.

The results come from the largest survey of Australian employers and workers ever conducted which raises questions about the worth of some university degrees.

The Employer Satisfaction Survey, released today, reveals more than 10 per cent of graduates believe their qualification is “not at all” important to their job, while another 15 per cent say their qualification is “not that” important for their job.

Graduates from management and commerce degrees, as well information technology and creative arts degrees, were the most likely to believe their degree wasn’t important for their current work.

The government-funded survey also reveals that employers do not believe the nation’s most prestigious universities are producing the best workers.

None of the Group of Eight universities appeared among the top eight of 41 universities around Australia that were compared for employer satisfaction.

James Cook University received the highest approval rating, at 91 per cent, and University of South Queensland received the lowest rating at 77 per cent.

Overall, the survey found 84 per cent of employers were satisfied with their workers.

“If there was any advice I would give the wave of young people about to enter tertiary studies in the next few weeks, it would be to focus on employability skills and seriously consider developing the science, technology, engineering and maths qualifications new workplaces increasingly require,” he wrote in an opinion piece today.

“There is no doubt that work is changing and jobs along with it.

“Digitalisation means fast-moving workplaces, globally connected systems and rapid change.

“With these daunting developments taking place and the education system failing to keep up, the result for frustrated employers is that they find some new entrants to the labour market to be verging on the unemployable.”

Mr Willox said Australia’s education and training institutions were ramping up their connections with industry to better focus degrees but there was a long way to go.

Universities Australia’s acting chief executive Catriona Jackson rejected the criticism, saying employers had given university graduates “the equivalent of a high distinction”.

“These results tell an overwhelmingly positive story about graduates in the labour market and that universities are preparing their students well for their chosen careers,” she said.

“Employers are seeing, first-hand, the world-class quality of university graduates that we’re producing in Australia.”

The federal government has introduced a two-year freeze to per student funding for bachelor level degrees and has made further funding increases contingent on performance outcomes.

“Australia has excellent universities but they must place student outcomes at the forefront of their considerations to meet the needs of our economy, employers and ultimately boost the employment prospects of graduates,” he said.

“That’s precisely why the changes we announced in MYEFO will link additional funding for bachelor courses to performance outcomes.

“By further incentivising performance in areas such as employer and student satisfaction, completion and retention we should see better outcomes for graduates and better value for taxpayers.”

Steve Shepherd, chief executive of youth career coaching firm TwoPointZero, called for more focus on career education in schools and said targeted performance funding for universities was not the answer.

“It doesn’t actually address the issue, just distracts from it and could lead to higher education being out of reach for many young people today,” Mr Shepherd said.

“What we should be looking at and funding instead is improved career education in schools, as most schools currently spend less than a cup of coffee per student per year on careers advice.

“We need to provide more guidance to parents to help them understand the employment market isn’t the same as when they left school. “And, we need to stop thinking going to university is the be all and end all.”

Mr Shepherd said many young people were picking any degree to simply say they had been to university, without thinking about the impact it would have on their careers.

“We’re essentially suffering from ‘degree inflation’, where the value of a degree is diminishing and rapidly,” he said.

About 97,000 graduates and 4000 employers were surveyed.


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

8 January, 2018

Lex Lasry immigration tweet ‘risks impartiality of court’

The tweet was typical Leftism and as such creates great doubt over the judge's reasoning capacity:  He ridiculed a comment by misrepresenting it.  He wrote as if the minister had said NOBODY was brave enough to go out to dinner, which is not what the minister said at all.  Such "straw man" arguments are a leftist specialty

Victorian Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry risked “profoundly compromising” the impartiality of the court when he entered the political arena by riffing on a comment by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, the state’s opposition says.

Justice Lasry weighed into the debate about youth gang violence when he tweeted on Wednesday evening: “Breaking: there are citizens out to dinner in Mansfield tonight and they’re not worried.”

The comment was a direct rebuke of Mr Dutton’s remarks on Sydney radio the same day when he said people in Melbourne were afraid to go out for dinner at local restaurants.

Victoria’s opposition legal affairs spokesman, John Pesutto, said Justice Lasry’s remarks were “problematic”.

“It is deeply problematic for any sitting judge to enter the political fray by commenting on contentious issues on social media,” he told The Weekend Australian.

“Mr Lasry has to decide whether he wants to be known as His Honour or Lex. To tread into highly political matters risks profoundly compromising the standing and impartiality of the court.

“Respectfully, I think His Honour should consider closing his Twitter account or, at least, make sure he stays away from highly political matters.”

Labor’s Attorney-General, Martin Pakula, declined to comment on whether Justice Lasry should be excused from such cases in the future.

The intervention by Justice Lasry came during a heated debate about the youth crime rate, and prevalence of African youths as perpetrators of crime.

On Friday police vowed to catch up to a dozen young men of African descent behind a violent crime spree in Melbourne’s west, including an attack on a 59-year-old woman, who was hit and forced to watch as the group ransacked the property she was house-sitting.

One Hoppers Crossing family told The Weekend Australian they were now so afraid of letting their daughters walk to catch the school bus or visit the local shopping centre after being terrorised by local youths, they were now moving interstate.

“It sounds stupid, but when you’ve got a 15-year-old daughter and you know a gang is heckling her from the park and threatening her as she walks home, what are you meant to do?” Dannielle Beaton said. “We’re just sick of feeling ­unsafe.”


Piers Akerman: Australia’s energy security is the greatest threat to our survival

THE greatest threat to our ­security is not Islamic State, it’s not African gangs, it’s not even the drug-addled Islamist idiots targeting pedestrians.

No, the clear and present danger to the nation comes from the failure to ensure our own energy security.

Australia is the ninth-­largest energy producer in the world with massive renewable and non-renewable energy ­resources yet it can’t guarantee energy supply to its industries and domestic users.

This is a failure of policy at both state and federal levels caused by supine subservience to the faddish global warmers.

Forget renewables and batteries, like South Australia, which relies on huge diesel back-up or the pie-in-the-sky pumped hydro that requires more power than it produces to keep its reserves ready.

We just aren’t tapping our reliable coal or uranium ­reserves as we should be.

That’s why we must rely on imported fuel to exist as a nation and why we are hostage to others.

Not only are we heavily dependent on imported refined petroleum products and crude oil to meet day-to-day demands, we rely on foreign ships to deliver this economy-sustaining energy and we aren’t meeting our international obligation to hold a 90-day supply in reserve.

We are the only nation that doesn’t meet this International Energy Agency reserve threshold and we hold less than half the required fuel volumes.

We invest around $30 billion a year in defence but that’s meaningless if we can’t provide necessary energy security.

A recent study estimated that the less than 45-day ­reserve of fuel would mean that food supply transport would run for about nine days, pharmaceutical supplies would be hit in three and the military might have fuel for 17.

One of the legends of the Australian maritime industry, Captain Harry Mansson, pointed out even the name Australian National Line — ANL — has been sold to French interests and is headquartered in Marseilles.

Captain Mansson has suggested that Australia move ­towards becoming independent of foreign transporters by purchasing four second-hand Very Large Crude Carriers of about 300,000 DWT each, about five years old and with European-standard accommodation for our Australian crews, with the promised union acceptances before anything is finalised.

He said such ships average about 15 years of unrestricted trade, so the five-year age would give us 10 years with the four ships alone. Allowing one month for a round trip they would make 48 trips annually between them, carrying some 14 million tonnes of fuel, which is about 41 per cent of the total.

Unfortunately, his attempts to communicate with the government have been frustrated whereas Opposition leader Bill Shorten has opened a dialogue.

This is interesting but don’t expect too much from Shorten who is reliant for survival on the votes of the militant Maritime Union of Australia, whose totally unrealistic demands on wages and conditions for its members were instrumental in killing Australian commercial shipping.

Captain Mansson said that as we are an island nation it is critical that Australia has its own flagged fleet in times of crisis, on which we can rely to handle our crucial imports.

Notwithstanding the history of the bloody-minded maritime unions, Shorten is determined to make political capital with his calls for a new Australian shipping industry.

“It was for these economic, national security and environmental reasons that the former federal Labor government was so determined to rebuild Australia’s shipping industry following years of neglect,” he told Mansson.

“For Australian shipping companies the package included a zero tax rate, more generous accelerated depreciation arrangements, rollover relief for selected capital assets, new tax incentives to employ Australian seafarers and an exemption from the Royalty Withholding Tax for ‘bareboat’ leased vessels.

“To further strengthen the local industry, an International Shipping Register was created, allowing operators of Australian-flagged vessels to employ mixed Australian and foreign crews on internationally agreed rates and conditions.

“These measures were based on the extensive reform programs that had already been implemented by other maritime nations including the United Kingdom, Japan, China and Denmark.

“Importantly, Labor’s changes did not preclude the use of foreign vessels. They simply required firms needing to move freight between Australian ports to first seek out an Australian operator. When none were available, foreign vessels could be used so long as they paid Australian-level wages on domestic sectors.

“However, for Labor’s suite of reforms to work, they needed time. Unfortunately, even before they took effect the ­Coalition sought to undermine them. Their attacks were calculated to create uncertainty and doubt in the minds of those considering investing in the Australian industry as to the durability of the regulatory changes and the new tax ­incentives.

All of us want to ­reduce the cost of doing business in Australia — but not at any cost. Particularly if that cost is the destruction of a strategically significant industry and the loss of a highly skilled workforce — and that’s precisely what the Coalition’s 2015 legislation would have done. The legislation put ideology ahead of the national interest.”

National interest was never foremost in the minds of those running the union movement however, as the sabotage of war matériel and undermining of the war effort during WWII demonstrated.

Unless we act to provide ­security for fuel we will be ­unable to access the resources the health industry relies on; food production and distribution would halt, few businesses could operate.

Personal and public transport wouldn’t function, defence force operations would be severely restricted. Our society would be paralysed.

We cannot afford to be held hostage by the union movement as we have been in the past or by foreign interests.

The Coalition must demonstrate leadership now and present a realistic strategy for energy independence.


Push for the International Baccalaureate to be in NSW public schools

The IB is not exactly the answer to a maiden's prayer but its curriculum is less dumbed down than many others

The NSW Department of Education is investigating how other states offer the International Baccalaureate in public schools in a signal that NSW could introduce the diploma as an alternative to the HSC.

NSW is the only state in Australia that does not allow the IB in any public schools but the diploma has been growing in popularity in private schools across Sydney, with 14 schools last year offering the program in year 12 and several others introducing it into their primary years.

The IB, founded in 1968 in Geneva, is described as a program to achieve the "intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalising world" and is designed for students who have "excellent breadth and depth of knowledge".

The president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, Chris Presland, said the IB would be a "worthwhile option" in NSW public schools.

"There is no doubt that the HSC remains the most highly regarded credential in Australia and it is also very respected overseas," Mr Presland said. "But I think the IB would also be a worthwhile credential and something that could be made available to any school that wants it."

Mr Presland said providing choice to public school students would be welcomed by most principals and schools.

IB students in Australia received their results on Thursday, with 22 achieving a perfect score of 45. Several of those students were from NSW.

Students must study English, maths, science, a language, a humanities and a theory of knowledge subject, as well as doing a 4000-word essay of their choice. They also complete a community service, physical activity and creativity program similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

The department's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation is reviewing how other states run the IB program in their public schools.

In Queensland, three public selective schools offer an IB-only program for students in years 10 to 12, while in Victoria, two government high schools, Albert Park College and Werribee Secondary College, offer the diploma.

In South Australia, the only student to achieve a perfect IB score this year went to a public high school.

The IB co-ordinator for NSW and ACT, Antony Mayrhofer, said the introduction of the three public selective IB schools in Queensland had been very successful. "The IB is not for all students but at the moment it is financially selective for students in NSW," Mr Mayrhofer said. "If the IB was in the government sector, it would offer students choice."

Around the world, more than 50 per cent of the 170,000 students who do the IB attend a government school and between 2012 and 2017, the number of IB programs offered worldwide has grown by almost 40 per cent.

Mr Mayrhofer, who is also director of learning at St Paul's Grammar School, said introducing an alternative curriculum could be costly but Australia routinely performed well in the diploma, which is described as offering a more rounded way of studying and providing a strong preparation for university.


Gesture politics blocks the nation’s path to progress

We temper our expectations for the coming year because we have become inured by a shambolic lack of direction in our political leadership, public debate and media dissection. Expectations have been raised so often and so seldom met that it is difficult to discern reality from the social media zeitgeist, let alone identify the root causes of our malaise.

Is it a lack of quality personnel in our parliaments? Are we filling parliaments from a narrowing gene pool of professional politicians, turning our backs on broader experience from lives lived? Can we blame the increasing superficiality in our fractured and commercially challenged media? Or should we look to an education system driven more by fashion and progressive posturing than it is by tangible outcomes and building on our civilisational legacy? Some will blame the Balkanised feuding that infects the public debate through social media and its vicious trolls.

Have the political parties lost touch with the mainstream or has the mainstream become insular? Does compulsory voting grant a casting vote on every issue to the disengaged? Or have we turned our backs on the major parties because they have lost their way? Are the core challenges of economic management, fiscal restraint and maintaining social order too difficult for modern politicians to manage or too boring to keep them focused? Are governments trying to do too much because they can’t undertake what really matters, or are voters demanding too much from government because we have surrendered a sense of self-reliance?

In a nation as blessed as ours it is incongruous that our political/media class has an over-abundance of ambition when it comes to futile gestures that pretend to save the planet yet lacks sufficient will to control what is within its grasp by trimming spending to sustainable levels or redressing the social and economic disadvantage that still bedevils our indigenous people? Our priorities seem skewed.

We have safe injecting rooms for heroin addicts in which it is illegal to smoke a cigarette. We defend the rights of drug addicts on methadone to drive their cars while we intervene to prevent pensioners from obtaining Nurofen Plus from their chemist without a prescription from their doctor. And we whinge about the cost of Medicare.

We impose costly renewable energy subsidies on electricity users and then offer additional welfare to families who can’t afford their power bills. We take policy decisions aimed at ensuring coal generation and other “dirty” industries are no longer financially viable, then we lament the loss of manufacturing jobs. We look to subsidise new industries to reboot the towns and regions made redundant. And we buy diesel generators to make up the energy shortfall.

We build up a successful immigrant culture based on orderly migration, yet those who argue most strongly for multiculturalism push for an open-slather approach to border control that would undermine all that has been achieved. We build an economy partly based on our cheap energy advantage but decide to turn ourselves into a high-cost energy nation that exports its cheap energy and its carbon emissions overseas. Carbon emissions still rise globally, but we pat ourselves on the back.

Apart from absurdity, you will struggle to find a common thread that links these and other public policy paradoxes. Surely the biggest challenge for 2018 is to work out what is wrong with our national affairs in order to do better. The past decade has been one of waste and dysfunction. Perhaps we are getting close to identifying the key. It is not simply left versus right, pragmatism versus ideology or even jejune fashions versus the wisdom of experience — although, in part, it is all those things. I think the organising principle here is public gesture.

Gesture politics has become the cancer of our system. It is running rampant now because social media has become to the media/political class what steroids were to sport. The digitalised media has become the short-term artificial performance enhancer of politics that has broken records and thrilled the crowds but has destroyed individual participants and, unchecked, will eventually kill the entire contest. Fuelled by instant social media adulation or admonition, our politicians, commentators, academics and analysts focus increasingly on gestures rather than outcomes.

Public figures such as these devise, support, endorse, enact and prescribe policies based not so much on their likely effectiveness but on what they demonstrate about the intentions of their proponents. Hence you back a carbon tax not because it will save the planet but because supporting it identifies you as someone who wants to save the planet.

Gesture politics works hand-in-hand with identity politics. They are part of the same prism where politics is about our self-image rather than about outcomes. It doesn’t matter whether a carbon tax works or not, it has done its job by providing a vehicle for its supporters to demonstrate their virtue. A gesture made is a policy goal achieved.

Business is not immune. Banks ban investments in projects or sectors — often related to coal — not based on financial fundamentals but because of what the investment will do for the image of the bank — and to inoculate against a looming social media campaign if they back the bottom line.

This triumph of gesture over judgment is the only way to explain our national obsession with climate-change policy. Surely even our Greens MPs can’t be deluded enough to think Australia’s emissions reductions can have any discernible impact on the global environment. And no one could deny the increased costs forced on to domestic consumers and industry. Families face financial hardship and people lose jobs in coal-fired power stations, mines, manufacturing or myriad associated small businesses in order to make a national gesture.

Both major parties are committed to the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets, despite the US abandoning them and most countries — in particular China — being asked to do nothing. Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten never tell us what their climate policies will achieve for the climate or the planet — policy outcomes are superfluous; they just tell us they will meet their Paris climate objectives. The gesture is everything.

Workers can lose their jobs and pensioners can struggle to pay their power bills while politicians get to identify with ill-defined but fashionable campaigns to save the planet — while global emissions rise. Having severely distorted our energy market with mandatory renewable energy targets, the proposed solution from the Coalition is to impose a national energy guarantee, which is a market intervention that imposes an obligation to provide the reliability of supply that has been undercut by the previous intervention.

Of the three stated energy imperatives — reliability, affordability and emissions reductions — only two have practical necessity. We need affordable and reliable power but those requirements are compromised by the aim of reducing emissions. Our pragmatic needs are made hostage to a climate gesture that can have no beneficial impact on the planet (we are reducing our 1.3 per cent of global carbon emissions to about 1.1 per cent while the global total rises). Yet the domestic economic harm is demonstrable.

No goal is achieved except that of demonstrating global warming awareness to a domestic political audience and a global diplomatic coterie. Gesture politics.

Pressed for any economic advantage the proponents are left with an embarrassing line about “first-mover” advantages that doesn’t withstand scrutiny. If renewable and battery storage technology is advancing as rapidly as the proponents like to suggest, then the smartest thing for Australia to do would be to sweat our carbon-fuelled energy assets and stall our new generation investments until we can go straight to a proven and cheap renewable-storage model. But there is no gesture to be had in prudent inaction.

Still, the disease runs much deeper. The rationale for bidding wars on education funding has nothing to do with schooling outcomes — indeed, data disproving the correlation between school spending and outcomes abounds.

Our education spending has grown dramatically over recent decades while our comparative performance has declined. From Gonski to the Orwellian jingoism of the Building the Education Revolution, the imperative has not been better educated kids but more dramatic gestures of education as a priority.

We pay extra taxes so the politicians can parade on street corners like the Pharisees.

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey foolishly broke a “no new taxes” promise by introducing a temporary debt levy. Was it designed to fix the budget? Of course not. It was a gesture to demonstrate their desire to spread the pain of fiscal repair. It was designed to mollify the left and spectacularly misfired. Now Labor promises to reimpose it permanently as an additional “tax on the rich”. The Coalition would have done better to have the courage of its low tax convictions, and its claim that the government has a spending rather than a revenue problem.

State governments and supermarkets ban plastic bags not because it will end litter but because it provides them with an opportunity to posture about their opposition to litter. Local councils used to get above their station by declaring themselves nuclear-free zones, now they dabble in the global tinderbox of the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio by flirting with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Clearly they do not do this because they believe they can help resolve the conflict but because they want to make a gesture about their own sensibilities. Most of us hate cruelty to animals but how on earth can you demonstrate such virtue and appeal to like-minded people on Twitter and Facebook? Perhaps by banning the live cattle trade or scrapping the entire greyhound racing industry. Gestures of rare genius.

Don’t like obesity and want to make a sanctimonious gesture? Trumpeting a sugar tax is for you. Oppose litter but are worried people don’t know you always put your rubbish in a bin? Join the campaign to outlaw helium-filled balloons for kids. Or devise a return-and-earn scheme for drink containers. No policy is worth backing unless it gives you a platform to signal your virtue.

One day we will get over this stuff and focus on core policy objectives along with competent implementation. Sadly, I don’t think this will be the year.


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

7 January, 2018

Habitual African criminal accused of kicking a police officer in the face in a shopping centre brawl arrested for breaching bail conditions by using his mobile phone - just two days after he was released

A 17-year-old accused of kicking a police officer in the face at a Melbourne shopping centre is back in custody just two days after he was controversially released on bail.

The teenager walked free from a Children's Court hearing on Tuesday after facing charges of assaulting police at Highpoint shopping centre on Boxing Day.

Victoria Police confirmed on Thursday night the teenager, from Point Cook in Melbourne's west, had again been arrested.

'Detectives from Maribyrnong Crime Investigation Unit have today remanded a 17-year-old with breaching his bail conditions,' a spokeswoman said. 'The Point Cook youth will appear at a children's court.'

Bail had been given on the condition the teenager did not associate with a co-offender, be in possession of a smartphone, use social media or attend Highpoint.

The teenager was arrested after being caught with a mobile phone, just hours after his release, The Herald Sun reported.

Prosecutors strongly opposed bail and described the boy as remorseless, arguing he would attack police again if released, a transcript of Tuesday’s bail hearing seen by the paper reveals.

Earlier on Thursday, Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said the injured officer and his colleagues felt let down by the youth being granted bail.

'We have a person in a hospital bed and we have a person in the dock and there seems some confusion over which one of these two is the victim,' he said.

'There wouldn't be a police officer in Victoria that wouldn't be watching this today, saying what the hell's going on here. This is an absolute insult to all of us.'

Mr Gatt said the courts need to ensure officers are protected, the community can feel safe and police can do their job with confidence.

The injured officer has since returned to work.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said the decision to grant bail was 'incomprehensible' and sent a message that injuring a police officer was acceptable behaviour.

'There's an element in which the courts haven't reflected the community expectations ... that's why we've made changes to the Bail Act,' she told 3AW.

Shadow Attorney General John Pesutto said the Andrews government weakened youth bail laws two years ago and was now blaming others for the consequences of their decision

The accused - a 17-year-old with a history of serious crimes - was granted bail on Tuesday despite being on 12-months' probation.

He was arrested on Friday and charged with assaulting an emergency worker on duty, intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury and common law assault.

The injured officer, a five-year veteran of the force, was taken to hospital after the alleged assault.

The news comes as Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said African youths who commit violent crimes should be deported.

Melbourne has been shocked by a spate of violent incidents in recent weeks, which include attacks on police.

Last week, gang members trashed the Ecoville Community Park at Tarneit, in Melbourne's west, by destroying furniture, windows and walls.

Only days before Christmas, Menace to Society gang graffiti was scrawled on an AirBnB party house at Werribee, also in Melbourne's west.

Rocks were pelted at police forcing them to retreat from the house, when more than 100 youths, primarily African appearance, turned on them.


West Australia: Leftist State government cuts back education assistance for disadvantaged children

They need the money to hire more bureaucrats, presumably

THE decision to close the five Schools of the Air is short-sighted, showing an alarming mix of hubris and ignorance, and must be reversed.

At a time of year when families celebrate and relax, parents, teachers and children in regional WA have been left feeling anxious, isolated and vulnerable.

School of the Air delivers online lessons to children aged four to 11 in remote WA. The schools are housed in standalone buildings in Port Hedland, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Derby and Carnarvon.

The day before school broke up for 2017, staff, parents and students were told that their schools would be closed at the end of 2018. Just like that. The ramifications have been immediate.

Teachers are being offered redundancies, and those who take them will not return for 2018. Families have been thrown into a state of flux, unsure of what they will find at the start of the new school year. Teachers, afraid to speak publicly for fear of career-ending reprisals, are devastated.

The State Government argues the School of Isolated and Distance Education and SOTA duplicate services. Parents reject that assertion.

The issue is not the educational material. The significance of SOTA is the access to teachers who live in, and understand their region, and importantly, know the children.

When families go into town, the children can attend the school. Parents say that teaching isolated children can be stressful for tutors, often mothers, and that the option to drive into town when things get dire is invaluable. Even if it is a 400km round trip.

Kirsty Forshaw, of Nita Downs Station, near Broome, says that wearing the unique uniforms gives children a sense of belonging.

“Kids need to see a physical building; a school in Perth like SIDE is too foreign and far away,” she says. “Some of these little kids have never even heard of Perth.”

During a radio interview, Education Minister Sue Ellery told me the schools were iconic. So why close them? If SIDE is to become more like SOTA, what is the rationale for the closures?

How much money will the Government save by the time SIDE replicates the most valuable parts of SOTA?

Seven-year-old Harry lives near Wiluna and is so worried he asked his mother if his teacher and principal would be out of work, and if so, “could they come and work here?”

The devastation in the bush is palpable and the pain and mental stress that has been inflicted is unnecessary. This is an own goal.

And what of the push to develop the beef industry? How can cattle producers lure families and permanent staff with education under a cloud? Lest the Government think there are not enough votes in the regions, there are plenty of Labor voters in the city with ties to the bush, who also care about core Labor values like universal education.

At hastily convened rallies to protest the closures, Labor MPs illustrated a lack of knowledge about the schools and regional education, further upsetting an already wounded community.

Raelene Hall runs the Save Our Schools of the Air Facebook group, teeming with past SOTA students and supporters. “It takes a lot to get us angry,” she says of the 4000-plus followers, “but we’re not going away.”

Her commitment is reiterated by Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association president Tash Johns, who is adamant the rallies will continue in 2018.

In an open letter to Premier Mark McGowan, and ministers Sue Ellery and Alannah MacTiernan, Gina Rinehart has called for the decision to be reversed.

She asked: “What Government could do this with any regard for innocent children, families, or even any conscience?” I’d like an answer to that.


EPA approves $900m rare earths mine in Central Australia despite radioactive risk

A proposed $900 million rare earths mine in Central Australia has been recommended for approval by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (EPA), after an assessment process lasting more than two years.

Arafura Resources' Nolans Project at Aileron, 135 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, would mine rare earth materials such as neodymium and praseodymium, used to manufacture strong magnets for wind turbines and electric vehicles.

The EPA identified several long-term environmental risks and impacts with the project, but found they could be managed.

"There will have to be a high level of operational management control for this project over a couple of generations, and there'll have to be a high level of regulatory scrutiny, there's no two ways about that," EPA chairman Paul Vogel said.

The primary risks include the permanent storage of naturally occurring radioactive material onsite and the use of significant groundwater resources over the 35 to 55-year lifespan of the project.

Mr Vogel said he understood public concern about such issues, and the effectiveness of the EPA to effectively monitor them, but said the authority was better placed to provide sufficient oversight.

"That's something that we've drawn attention to with government already, saying that we need to be adequately resourced ... to ensure that these facilities are adequately regulated over time," he said.

It is estimated the project will use 2.7 gigalitres of groundwater a year, and the EPA has recommended aquifer levels and water usage be monitored in real-time with data made available to the public.

"This includes using very conservative triggers for both water quality and quantity and condition of vegetation that are embedded in adaptive management plans, so that we don't reach a point where you've got some irreversible change to the environment," Mr Vogel said.

Radioactive material to be stored in dams
The EPA also recommended best-practice mine closure and progressive rehabilitation practices be adhered to, but noted that uncertainty remains around the significant environmental impacts over the life of the project.

Arafura Resources Sustainability manager Brian Fowler said the low level radioactive material produced in the processing of rare earth material would be stored onsite in purpose-built dams.

"We're very confident those dams will secure those radioactive elements now and into the future," he said.

"They will not be a threat to the environment and they won't provide a threat to public health, and quite frankly, they are relatively stable in a normal environmental setting."

Mr Fowler said the approval of the EPA was a significant milestone for the project, which began 10 years ago.

"What it'll enable us to do now is to go forward and do our detailed mine planning which will then lead us to financial investment decision in the late part of this year with a view to then starting construction, assuming we can attract the required financing, in 2019," he said.

The company said the project would create an investment of about $900 million in Central Australia, as well as 250 to 300 permanent jobs.

Mr Fowler said the company intended to target local people for employment where possible, with the view to creating intergenerational change in the community.

"We understand that there'll be significant challenges in doing that, but when you've got a mine life that contemplates 35 to 55 years, it gives you the opportunity to do lots of planning and work with stakeholders to ensure those benefits are realised," he said.


Childcare deregulation needed to help plummeting birth rates

AUSTRALIAN fertility and birth rates in freefall give a grave indication the system we live under is broken, especially regarding childcare.

Wage growth has stopped in the past few years, but government charges, taxes and excises – at all levels – continue to climb.  Costs of living are so reliant on government policies and yet taxpayers are treated like inexhaustible cash cows, being milked for every penny.

Fuel, alcohol and tobacco taxes come on top of GST and income tax, yet half of Australian homes don’t pay nett tax after rebates and refunds. This means governments have to find new, sneaky ways to fund their own existence using your money.

Throw in the disgraceful “stamp duty” on insurance, car and land sales and whatever else you can think of (and for which there is no tangible benefit received) and it’s clear that personal finances are at the mercy of government greed and waste.

It was announced this week that Queensland’s fertility rate has hit 1.82 children per woman – the lowest in 13 years and the fifth-lowest in the state’s history.

At least one think tank believes the welfare state is to blame for plummeting birth rates. In the past, you needed children to look after you in old age and to take care of the family assets.  But now the state has assumed this role and the need for children has decreased.

But there’s also the reality that both members of a couple have to work in order to afford a mortgage, and to pay taxes and still have some sort of fun.

Throwing a kid into that mix is financially scary, not just because of the costs added to an already stressed budget, but because your wife/partner might be reluctant to put her career on hold and risk missing a big promotion and pay rise the couple needs to maintain or enhance their lifestyle.

Childcare then presents a new issue and another one the government has too much control over.

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm drew a storm of criticism last year when he said “ … you don’t need a Certificate III and 18 months of study to be a childcare worker to wipe children’s noses and stop them from killing each other.”

He argued that the government forcing people to gain formal childcare qualifications had pushed up wage costs which were passed on to parents. This has merit.

Not so long ago, childcare consisted of kids finger painting, climbing on monkey bars, kicking a footy and hammering bits of wood together. More serious schooling happened at kindy and preschool.

Now there appears to be this obsession with starting kids on schoolwork from the moment they’re born. Everything from the books they read and have read to them, to even their diets are strictly monitored and controlled by regulation.

As reported even in 2014, this requires turning simple carers into educators and involves increasing reporting requirements, and mandating minimum levels of qualification. These ridiculous standards are driving the cost out of reach of many who want to add to their brood.

Many women would love to have more kids but can’t afford the average $17,500 to $20,000 a year it costs to put one in childcare.

One mum I know worked out that if she had another child and sent both to daycare, she’d be working for $4 a day. Unbelievable.

Parents should have a choice of daycare. If you want the “platinum” care with supplied calorie-controlled meals and the latest in educational resources, you can pay top dollar.

If you’re happy for your kids to stay at the old lady’s place down the road eating peanut butter sandwiches, finger painting and watching Wiggles DVDs for a few bucks a day, then that should be allowed also.

This will go a long way towards addressing childcare shortages and keeping women in their careers, not to mention improving the birth rate. It’s a win-win-win.

Populations need fertility rates of at least 2.1 to be sustainable, so we’re already on the slippery slope.

As this number drops, governments have to increase immigration to maintain the population, and that – as has been shown – has too many negative consequences to be encouraged in its current form.


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

5 January, 2018

'They don't belong in Australian society': Peter Dutton says violent African criminals who refuse to integrate should be deported from the country

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton wants African youth to be deported if they are convicted of violent crime following a spate of thuggery in Melbourne.

The senior cabinet minister, who will soon head a new super Home Affairs department, was asked about Liberal backbencher Jason Wood's call to deport youth gang members convicted of serious assault, home invasion and carjackings.

'Frankly, they don't belong in Australian society,' Mr Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB on Wednesday.

'If people haven't integrated, if they're not abiding by our laws, if they're not adhering to our culture, then they're not welcome here.'

Mr Dutton, who hails from the right of the Liberal Party, also criticised Victoria's Labor Police Minister Lisa Neville who last week denied the strong link between gangs and African youths.

'The reality is, people are scared to go out to restaurants of a night-time because they're followed home by these gangs,' he said.

'We just need to call it for what it is. Of course it's African gang violence.

'We need to weed out the people who have done the wrong thing, deport them where we can but where they're Australian citizens, need to deal with them according to the law.'

Last week, Menace to Society gang members trashed the Ecoville Community Park at Tarneit, in Melbourne's west, by destroying furniture, windows and walls and leaving bongs.

Only days before Christmas, 'MTS' graffiti was also scrawled on an AirBnB party house at Werribee, also in Melbourne's west.

Rocks were also pelted at police forcing them to retreat from the house, when more than 100 youths of primarily South Sudanese appearance turned on them.

On Boxing Day, a police officer was kicked in the face when he tried to arrest a 16-year boy at the Highpoint Shopping Centre at Maribyrnong.

In June, a man was struck in the head with a tomahawk when a gang of 15 men burst into a barber shop at nearby Footscray and started brawling.  


Federal Labor has heads in sand over Sudanese gangs

Federal Labor has come under fire for denying that Melbourne has an escalating gang problem and blocking attempts to deport migrants and refugees convicted of violent offences, following Victoria Police’s admission that the state has an issue with African street gangs.

Amid a political storm over law and order in the state, the party’s immigration and ­border protection spokesman Shayne Neumann yesterday stood by Labor’s dissenting ­report to the recent migrant settlement outcomes inquiry in which it claimed there had been “minimal or no evidence” for a focus on “young humanitarian entrants from Sudanese backgrounds who engage in criminal activity”.

The report, signed by Mr Neumann and fellow Labor MPs Maria Vamvakinou and Steve Georganas and released on ­December 11, argued that the inquiry, chaired by Liberal MP and former police officer Jason Wood, had been hijacked to highlight issues specifically ­affecting Mr Wood’s own Melbourne electorate, “such as the Apex gang, which the Victoria Police ­described as a nonentity”.

The dismissive comments, which come in the wake of a fresh outbreak of vandalism, ­violent assaults and rioting across Melbourne, many involving young Africans, were criticised yesterday by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who ­accused Labor of “running the other way” on the issue.

“People are scared to go out to restaurants of a night time because they are worried about being followed by these gangs,” Mr Dutton said.

“(Premier) Daniel Andrews and Bill Shorten are as bad as each other on law and order ­issues: Andrews refuses to even acknowledge Victoria has African crime gangs and Bill Shorten votes against tougher laws in the federal parliament. Labor is soft on law and order. They always have been.

“People are getting hurt in Victoria and Premier Andrews doesn’t have the answers or the leadership to sort it out. He is scared to deal with the problem or it is just plain incompetence.”

Victoria-based federal Health Minister Greg Hunt also hit out at Labor for denying the problem. “It’s the No 1 issue in Victoria,” he told 2GB radio. “Now Victoria Police acknowledge it. Frankly the answer is simple … tougher sentencing, tougher bail laws and better ­resources for police and calling it for what it is.”

Concerns over African crime emerged almost two years ago with the Apex gang, a group of youths from Melbourne’s outer east. The gang has also been linked to a rise in aggravated burglaries and carjackings.

The extent of the issue, however, has been subject to much debate. While Victoria Police has long insisted that recent violent ­attacks were not gang-related, acting chief commissioner Shane Patton acknowledged the issue earlier this week. “There is an issue with over-representation by African youth in serious and violent offending as well as public disorder issues,” he said on Tuesday.

“They’re behaving like street gangs, so let’s call them that.”

The migrant settlement outcomes report, released last month, recommended cracking down on visa holders found to have committed violent crimes. That included a recommendation to amend the Migration Act requiring the mandatory cancellation of visas for offenders aged between 16 and 18 years convicted of a serious offence.

Labor members dissented, ­arguing that “migrant youth and newly arrived migrants are not ­involved in criminal activity, with less than 10 per cent being overseas-born offenders”.

“Labor members were concerned with the focus in the report on youth crime which incorrectly implied that there is a serious crime wave by migrant youth across the nation,” the report says. “Anecdotal evidence of youth crime and ethnic gang activity was received from a small amount of geographically aligned submitters, based in Victoria only.

“The inquiry received no evidence from victims of crime in Victoria ... Labor members acknow­ledge the chair’s determination throughout the inquiry to target minors and his persistent questioning on perceived gangs.”

Committee chairman Mr Wood yesterday accused the Labor members of “cherrypicking” data to justify their position and ignoring the evidence of the Crime Statistics Agency, which produced statistics showing the number of Sudanese-born unique offenders had risen substantially in the past three years. In 2016, there were more than 800 offenders from Sudan, including 132 ­minors, up from 632 in 2014.

“If we can’t admit to this problem, we can’t do anything to fix it,” he said.

Mr Dutton said federal Labor remained weak on immigration and law-and-order issues. “The Turnbull government has cancelled a record number of visas and we are trying to get tougher on criminals but Shayne Neumann doesn’t have a clue.”

A spokesman for Mr Neumann said: “The migration committee report ... was informed by evidence presented to that committee from security agencies, including Victoria Police. Victoria Police testified at the time that Apex was a nonentity.”

Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek declined to comment on the report.


Send a few to jail — the others will get the message

African crime gangs out of control? The solution is simple. Apply the law to African youth gangs and encourage proper sentencing.

African youths, when faced with harsh punishment — any punishment — will cease breaking the law. It’s a simple application of the old law-and-order position: lock a few of them up now and the rest will cease their criminal behaviour.

These young people are certainly behaving in an unacceptable manner and eventually someone will be killed. The problem they have raised for Victorians is that there is little the government can do about it within the existing framework. The whole criminal justice system is weak and underfunded, and youths — male and female, black and white — are happily exploiting the situation.

A number of African youths have seen this problem and taken advantage of it. They realise that if they stay within the Children’s Court system they will be released and counselled rather than be locked up.

Victoria’s inadequate laws mean there is no deterrence to any underage teenagers committing serious crimes. Maximum penalties are sufficient but are never imposed on children, whatever their colour might be. The African gangs know this and if there is no enforcement of penalties by the law they will not be deterred.

How does the community fight back? Rest assured, existing criminal laws and legislated punishments are adequate (if enforced in the courts) so there is no point in legislative change. Bail laws are adequate to lock them up to protect the community, but neither are these enforced.

The federal government (which deported the father of AFL star Dustin Martin) will not send criminals back to Africa. In any case they will almost all be Australian citizens and Australian citizenship is very rarely revoked, and only in extreme circumstances. They will remain in Australia and we must deal with them as part of our society.

Victoria has a major policing problem. The police force is drifting and lacks leadership. Victorians do not have an active chief commissioner. The incumbent is about to resign and in any case is away from the job on extended leave. A good solution would be for the state government to appoint a new commissioner now — someone who will lead the state by tough police enforcement of the law, particularly in relation to the Africans and all gang crime.

We are now seeing a race-based storm in some of the media, but this is merely filling the vacuum left by the state government and their toothless police force. The black Africans are highly visible. Young whites are committing the same crimes all the time but receive little media attention.

White societies such as ours are quick to seize on visible crime by blacks. That was the situation I saw in Alice Springs in the early 1970s when I worked there as a lawyer for the Aboriginal people. They were black and on the streets because they had no homes. That was seen as a threat to white society. In fact the whites were just as drunk and violent but they were not visible as they had homes. White racism was easy when the targets were poor and visible.

Today in Victoria the African youths are extremely visible. I am 188cm but the young teenagers tower above me and no doubt terrify citizens when committing close-up crimes such as assault and robbery, carjacking and home invasion. Gangs make them a greater threat as marauding young black criminals in respectable white neighbourhoods.

The other day I was in the local chemist shop (over the road from the police station) when a huge African teenager walked in and looked around. He did nothing wrong. Immediately an alarm sounded and a voice across the system informed us all that there was an emergency. The youth ran from the shop.

This is not how I want to live, as a citizen or as a lawyer.

It really does remind me of Alice Springs, where one day the lead item on radio news was: “There was no Aboriginal crime overnight.”

Society pays a lot of money to have a police force. And this issue is also a policing problem. Let the police do their job. Let them crack down hard on the active black African criminals without the police being called racist. The media should expose the lack of effective punishment in the Children’s Court and show how the Africans — and others — have been exploiting this to the hilt (and further).

If that court feels the pressure from the media in particular and society in general then it will take a tougher stand towards all young criminals. African youth gangs are a short-term danger but not a long-term problem. The police and courts must come down hard on them and create a deterrent effect which has, so far, been sadly missing.


Attorney General law change would help free those wrongfully convicted

IN the legal profession it’s generally accepted that the rate of wrongful convictions runs about 1 or 2 per cent.

On the face of it, that’s not a bad success rate. You’d like a betting system that regularly guaranteed a 98 per cent success rate. Or a cure for cancer that had the same prospects.

But when it’s your life and freedom that’s in the balance, it’s a statistic that’s probably not that comforting. If there was a 2 per cent chance that every flight you took was only that safe, you would be seriously concerned.

And on a prison population in WA of about 5000, it means that something like 50 to 100 people go to bed each night in jail knowing they were never guilty of their alleged crime. The 98 per cent confidence figure is cold comfort for them.

Sure, there are appeals. But they are usually only as good as the evidence given at the time of the original trial. Statistically, very few appeals against conviction (less than 5 per cent) are ever successful.

The trial and appeal process in Australia takes place reasonably quickly. It’s not surprising that sometimes fresh evidence not known of at the time of the original conviction may not emerge for years, perhaps decades.

But what happens when compelling evidence does emerge years later, after you have exhausted your rights of appeal, which casts serious doubt on your conviction? As occurred in well-documented cases such as Andrew Mallard and Lindy Chamberlain. How many matinee jackets might there be out there?

It would be re-assuring to know that you could go straight to the Court of Appeal and ask them to have another look. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

The right to have the case looked at again presently rests exclusively in the hands of one person, the Attorney-General. If you can’t persuade him that the case is worth another look, then that’s it. Finito.

For some years now there has been a growing disquiet about this process. Having a politician as the ultimate gatekeeper of whether a court can re-evaluate the fresh evidence in your case is fraught with unfairness.

First, because the Attorney-General is someone who has to be re-elected and the perception of being on the side of a convicted murderer is hardly likely to be an attractive one. Second, there is no review or appeal of the decision if it doesn’t go your way.

In South Australia and Tasmania, new legislation has solved this problem and taken the politicians out of the equation.

Where a convicted murderer (or anyone convicted of a serious offence) claims to have fresh and compelling evidence of their innocence, they can now go straight to the court. In South Australia there have already been three homicide cases where this has happened and two of them have resulted in acquittals. The third is still on appeal.

The benefit of this approach is obvious. If the new evidence is truly compelling, justice will be done and the accused will be exonerated. If not, the issue will be put to bed forever, rather than lingering in the public domain. The system will be vindicated and the conviction confirmed.

The primary advantage, however, is that the decision will be made openly, according to law, by impartial judges, unaffected by any suggestion that political or populist considerations were involved.

I’m told that this sort of legislation is being drafted in WA, and if so it is long overdue.

I know a number of prisoners who have already had their fresh evidence applications to (previous) attorneys-general refused, but who will be looking forward to having their day in court. All are quite disturbing cases. One of the most disturbing is that of Arthur Greer.

He was convicted 24 years ago of the murder of Sharon Mason, years after the event itself, on the most flimsy circumstantial evidence. No one saw him do it, there is no confessional evidence, no motive and no forensic evidence whatever linking him in any way to the death.

How he was ever convicted in the first place is a mystery to everyone I have spoken to who has been involved in the case.

I hold no brief for Greer, but like a number of senior Perth lawyers I have recently been privy to details of the fresh evidence in the case, which leaves me in no doubt that the original prosecution was misconceived and wrong.

If the material I have seen is even partially correct, evidence the original jury never saw, Greer’s involvement in the murder at any level is all but impossible. He deserves to have this evidence considered by a court of three appeal judges, not a politician.

The present Attorney-General, John Quigley, should be commended for his initiative in proposing the legislation that will make this possible.


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

4 January, 2018

Carbon war: Tony Abbott fires up for battle

Malcolm Turnbull is facing a backlash over his energy policy as conservative MPs including Tony Abbott condemn a proposal to allow power companies to meet emissions targets by buying permits from overseas as a “carbon tax” by stealth.

Mr Abbott has slammed the government’s in-­principle support for including international carbon credits in Australia’s energy policy, arguing that the move will see Australian businesses and consumers shovelling money to foreign carbon traders, with huge potential for rorts.

Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg ­announced the new stance on carbon credits when releasing the final report of his 2017 review of climate change policies on ­December 19.

“As flagged in 2015, the review considered the role of inter­national units and as a result the government has now given in-principle support for their use,” he said. “The final decision on the timing and appropriate quantity and quality limits will be taken by 2020 following further consultation and detailed analysis.”

Carbon credit schemes reward carbon abatement projects, such as tree planting in developing countries, potentially allowing Australian energy companies to buy the credits from the tree-planters to offset their own emissions. Business groups have strongly backed the move, arguing that there is no reason to waste efforts on higher-cost domestic abatement options when credible, less expensive alternatives are available abroad.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has joined Mr Abbott in voicing strong opposition to the government’s move, while the Nationals’ George Christensen has previously expressed concerns about the international trading of carbon credits.

Mr Abbott said his position on international carbon credits remained the same as it had been when he was prime minister and party leader.

“I don’t support carbon trading, which is a carbon tax under a different name, and I certainly don’t support overseas carbon credits being available to Australian businesses,” he told The Australian. “That just means that Aussie consumers end up shovel­ling our money to foreign carbon traders, and we all know the ­potential for rorts there.”

Mr Frydenberg hit back last night, saying the role of international carbon credits had been on the table since Mr Abbott’s government announced in 2015 Australia’s Paris commitment.

‘’Since then we have conducted a major climate review in which industry groups representing energy intensive businesses across the economy including the BCA, AiG and the Minerals Council have made it very clear they strongly support the use of international permits," he said. “It is worth noting that Mr ­Abbott’s position on international permits is closer to the Greens than that of Australia’s big employers.”

In recent days, the Prime ­Minister has hailed his government’s national energy guarantee as a “real breakthrough” and key achievement in 2017.

Although the government won support for the guarantee in the Coalition partyroom, the latest development in the policy has inflamed the internal divisions that in 2009 saw Mr Abbott overthrow Mr Turnbull as opposition leader.

Mr Kelly said international carbon credits would put an extra cost burden on Australian businesses that would not be borne by competitors in countries such as China, the US and India.

“We’d be doing this at a time when every Australian business that uses energy is under enormous international competitive pressure through the higher cost of energy and with the company tax cuts in the US,” Mr Kelly said.

“Businesses in Australia are going to be struggling to compete internationally without us effectively putting on a further new green tax, forcing them to buy ­pieces of paper from overseas.”

Mr Kelly said the Abbott opposition’s criticisms of the Gillard government’s policy in 2011 remained relevant. “All those arguments are just as relevant today as they were back then,” he said, likening international carbon offset schemes to someone saying they were going to go on a diet over Christmas, but continuing to eat and paying a “diet offset”.

“You keep eating and someone from the Third World gets paid to starve,” he said.

Sky News commentator and former Abbott chief of staff Peta Credlin dubbed the timing of the announcement last month as a “getting out the trash” move, given it was released the day after the mid-year economic and fiscal update and the day of Mr Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle.

In December 2010, Europol revealed it had arrested more than 100 people connected with carbon offset fraud, with links to organ­ised crime networks in Europe and the Middle East. Consequently, trading volumes on ­Europe’s carbon market fell by 90 per cent, with a loss to Euro­pean taxpayers of $6.6 billion.

In 2011, now Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wrote an opinion ­article attacking the then Gillard government’s policy of support for international carbon credits.

“It is naive at best for the prime minister to assume that such a scheme will emerge, given the clear signals internationally that major emitting nations are moving away from trading in carbon credits,” Ms Bishop wrote.

“Of more concern is that Julia Gillard appears blithely or wilfully unconcerned about the fraud and criminal activity that has beset trading in carbon credits.”

Asked whether her views had changed, and whether she supported the Turnbull government’s policy of in-principle support, Ms Bishop said in 2011 there had been widespread alle­gations of fraud in relation to international carbon credits.

“Since then, an international framework has been established through the Paris Agreement which provides unprecedented transparency, accountability and global co-operation on governance issues,” she said.

“The government is working to reduce emissions and meet our international obligations under the Paris Agreement through a broad range of emissions reduction policies and initiatives.

“We support, in principle, the use of international permits as part of our comprehensive suite of policies.”


More African vibrancy in Melbourne

THE first question to roll off the tongue of the African kid, as he leaned out the window of a white station wagon, was innocent enough. But it marked the only polite exchange of the day.

“Hey, man, you got a cigarette?" he said.

But almost before he received a reply, the car sped off, leaving behind about 10 other teenagers, loitering in the heat outside the Ecoville Community Park in Tarneit.

“You better not be trying to take our photo," said one.

“You don’t want to die on New Year’s Day.

“And I’ll f---ing kill you."

Another youth, his back to the wall, the peak of his cap slanted across his face, didn’t take kindly to questions.

“What are we doing here?" he said. “We’re f---ing your grandmother, that’s what we are doing."

The group was an ominous presence, leering, yelling, leaning on fences, throwing rocks, spouting obscenities.

Nearby, the footpath was littered with “nangs" — little canisters that hold nitrous oxide, normally used in whipped cream siphons but which can be easily inhaled for a quick buzz.

But these African youths have been getting their thrills in other ways, too.

For months, they have been congregating in large numbers late into the night.

Locals say they zero in on innocent residents jogging past or walking their dogs, mounting verbal or even physical attacks without rhyme or reason.

A man attacked by three African teens two months ago was repeatedly punched and kicked, and suffered a major eye injury.

Residents who avoid the area are quick to dismiss critics who argue that the escalation in crime isn’t linked to African youths.

“They are out of control," Paul Singh, 34, said. “They should be punished or sent home. But here they are — not scared of anybody.  “It’s terror," he said.

“Terror for our kids, our families, and our wives. I always feel scared, and these guys are getting away with it."

Mr Singh places the blame squarely on the state ­government. He urged Premier Daniel Andrews to give authorities greater powers to end the crime wave.

Five police officers arrived at the centre just after 1pm on Monday. Ushering the youths away from the building, they questioned them for almost 20 minutes, then left after the group appeared to walk away.

But it meant little to watching neighbours, who said that by 8pm, the youths would be back, and in far greater numbers.

The gangs hanging around the community centre for months have been linked to vandalism sprees.

Another Tarneit resident, Harish Rai, 57, said he was still waiting to be formally interviewed by police after being attacked. “I went for a walk through the park and they were watching me," he said. “I heard them laughing and then they came from nowhere. They punched and kicked me. “I used to walk every day. Now I know not to."

There have been other victims, too. Some have been robbed, their mobile phones or wallets ripped out of their hands.

“It’s scary," Mr Rai said. “Nobody should have to live like this."


Australian wages stall, as immigration soars

This is exactly what classical economics would lead you to expect.  Australia's extraordinary rate of immigration intake has greatly increassed the supply of labour and increasing the supply must tend to reduce its price (wages)

The Treasurer has a new favourite mantra — "1,000 jobs a day".It's a new take on the familiar "jobs and growth" three-word slogan the Prime Minister took to the last election.

Scott Morrison is correct as there were 371,000 new jobs created over the past year, which averages to more than 1,000 per day.

But it's a much less impressive statistic when compared to the breakneck growth in Australia's population.

Australia's population swelled by 388,000 in the year until June — which is more than 1,000 people being added to our population every day. When you have a population growing that fast, you need to create a lot of jobs just to keep up.

For a Treasurer and Prime Minister who are interested in trumpeting headline figures like GDP, high population growth helps to inflate the numbers.

Simply by letting more people in, you bump up the overall size of the economy.

However, it doesn't necessarily make life any better for the people who live in the country and arguably, makes it a lot worse.

ABC business reporter Michael Janda explains how the jobs data are calculated and what to look for in the figures. This is more people competing for jobs and housing, pushing down wages and pushing up property prices.

Australia's population growth is extraordinarily high when compared to our global peers, at 1.6 per cent per year. This is more than double the rate of the US, nearly three times the rate of the UK, and four times the rate of France.

On current projections, Australia will hit 38 million people by 2050.

This high rate of population growth is driven mostly by high immigration. Net migration was 245,400 people over the past 12 months — which was a 27.1 per cent increase over the year before. That's more than the total population of Hobart in new migrants coming to the country in a single year.

This is also a huge additional supply of workers (although a proportion would be children or the elderly).

The simple economic rule of supply and demand means these new workers effectively lower the price of labour, which means lower wages.

At the height of the mining investment boom, attracting talent from overseas made sense in many occupations to allow projects to be built.

Although be careful when talking about 'skill shortages'. Often it isn't a case of there not being enough people with those skills.

Instead, it's a case of businesses not being willing to pay enough money to attract people and thus choosing to sponsor foreigners who will work for worse pay and conditions.

Australia is not currently anywhere near full employment.

At 5.4 per cent unemployment, Australia is well above the US which is sitting at 4.1 per cent and the UK at 4.2 per cent.

There are currently 707,000 unemployed Australians. These are people currently looking for work. But that's only part of the story as there are currently about 1.1 million Australians who are 'underemployed'. These are people who are currently working (perhaps as little as one hour a week) but want to work more hours.

So the number of Australians currently looking for more work is 1.8 million.

There is still a huge amount of 'slack' in the labour market which is keeping people from getting a decent pay rise. Companies are much less likely to offer big pay rises to workers if they know there's a big supply of other workers who are desperate for a job or more hours.


Federal official wants to kill more Aboriginal children

After the "stolen generation" hoax hit, child welfare officials became very reluctant to remove abused Aboriginal children from their families.  So many children were killed or  injured who could have been saved. So the galah below thinks MORE children should be left with their families.  Ideology trumps reality

And the idea that Aboriginal families can be "helped" is a joke.  How?  Take their grog away?  But that would be "paternalistic", wouldn't it?  Many have tried to lift Aborigines out of their behavioral sinks but none have succeeded.  The only people who ever did any good with them were the missionaries

The outgoing Aboriginal children’s commissioner in Victoria opposes hard limits on the number of Indigenous children being removed from families, saying it could put lives at risk.

Andrew Jackomos, the country’s first Indigenous children’s commissioner, favours measures to reunite families. But he says hard targets to limit removals could have dangerous consequences.

Reducing the number of Indigenous children removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care was one of the two areas most commonly cited by Indigenous organisations in the lead up to the Turnbull government’s review of the Closing the Gap targets, many of which expire in June.

The other is a target to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the prison system. The two are inextricably linked: the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found in 2016 that children who were known to the child protection system were 14 times more likely to also be involved in the youth justice system.

Jackomos said: “I would oppose a straight out-of-home-care target. My worry is that if you have targets straight on the number of kids removed then you may see kids who need to be removed not removed, so we just need to be smart about it.”

But one reason for his one-term tenure, and his reluctance to accept hard targets on rates of child removal, is contained in closed files delivered to the children’s minister, Jenny Mikakos, concerning the deaths of children who were known to child protection.

Thirty-six children died in those circumstances in 2016, of which four were Indigenous.

“Many of the child death inquiries we do are of young babies who have been murdered,” Jackomos said. “They are of young babies that should have been removed because the situation wasn’t safe. And in other cases I see child death inquiries where the children are teenagers and they’ve stayed in resi[dential] care. I wonder, was it safer for them at home?”

Jackomos said the focus should be on getting separated families back together as quickly as possible – with targets to promote reunification rather than simply limiting removals, which he said could put some children at risk.

“We can achieve that by intervention and prevention, and working with mums and dads. In a lot of cases I see children have been removed and then we just forget about mum and dad,” he said. “If we had that reunification target I think that would go a way towards improving services to them.

For Aboriginal children, “home” might mean returning to live with their parents, or it might mean living with a grandmother, aunt or cousin. Whichever family situation applied, Jackomos said, they should be supported, and that would ensure fewer children were removed in the long run.

The Yorta Yorta man will finish in his current role on 31 January – and start work the next day as a special adviser on Indigenous self-determination in Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Speaking in his office in his final weeks in the role, Jackomos said the commissioner’s job, which includes providing independent oversight of children in the child protection and youth justice systems, was not one that anyone should do for more than five years.

“If you’re a Koorie person, if you’re involved in reading the stories and trying to make changes … I think you need time out,” he said.

About 5.5% of the Australian population under the age of 18 identifies as Indigenous, yet Indigenous children made up 36.2% of all children in out-of-home care in 2016 and 55% of all children held in youth detention. Rates of out-of-home care for Indigenous children are 10 times higher than for non-Indigenous children, and rates of youth detention are 24 times higher. You can’t fix one without addressing the other, Jackomos said.


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

3 January, 2018

We have an issue with Sudanese gangs – here’s how we can tackle it

By Nelly Yoa, a Sudanese footballer of refugee origins.  His solutions to the gang problem are mainline but unlikely to achieve much.  Africans worldwide are very violent. A more effective solution would be to return whole Sudanese families to their point of embarcation once one of them becomes involved with crime. That would be a strong motivation for Sudanese themselves to monitor their wayward youth and make efforts to rein them in.  And an exception from deporting the whole family could be given if any member of the family were first to incriminate a criminal member

As a South Sudanese man who personally knows and mentors members of youth gangs in and out of prison, I firmly believe we have a major issue among young South Sudanese people in Melbourne.

After watching the horrendous and appalling behaviour committed by my fellow South Sudanese youth in the past few weeks, I am furious – and in total disbelief – to hear our top cop and government officials say there are no Sudanese gangs in Melbourne.

Nobody should ever try and cover up or defend this unacceptable behaviour – to do so is immoral and inexplicable. It is upsetting and completely false.

Keep in mind that some parents of offenders are not aware that their teens are in custody. The reason is because many Sudanese families have more than eight children and many of them are raised by a single parent.

Undeniably, yes, these gangs do exist and neither the police nor the government should say otherwise.

It is a fact that South Sudanese are over­represented in crime statistics and are causing great harm and fear across communities in Melbourne.

I firmly believe young Sudanese people need to adapt and contribute to the Australian way of life immediately.

Yet nothing has been done by the government, Victoria Police or Sudanese community leaders. There's been a lot of talk, but no action.

I call on the government to act swiftly in assisting Sudanese teens to integrate into society.  Melburnians are sick and tired of excuses. We've got to make sure people are held accountable.

Some of these kids have gone too far now. They're a disgrace to themselves, to their families and to their community.

This behaviour has been ongoing for nearly two years. Enough is enough. It makes me ashamed and embarrassed to call myself a Sudanese. It should not be tolerated moving forward into 2018.

I know what these kids are going through – but I also know what it's like to be on the wrong end of their aggression.

I migrated to Melbourne from war-torn South Sudan in 2003, in hope of a better life. Coming to Australia, it was a little bit difficult to integrate due to the culture shock and language barrier. But, eventually, you teach yourself to adapt to the Australian way of living. Not only does it became a lot easier over time, you also learn to contribute and be thankful for this enormous opportunity given to you.

In 2011, I became the victim of a high-profile machete attack in Melbourne after coming to the aid of a stranger. As a good Samaritan, I ended up being a victim and nearly bled to death.

It didn't stop me. After my unsuccessful trial in England with Chelsea Football Club and Queens Park Rangers Football, earlier this year I switched codes to pursue an AFL career. I'm currently training with an AFL team.

I've always remained positive throughout everything I've been through. I've always been determined and driven to succeed.

As a professional athlete and as a person who overcame a lot of adversity throughout my life, I'm using this principle as a torch to guide these troubled youths to a positive, successful life. So let's create a solution that will prevent this from escalating further.

I regularly volunteer at the Melbourne Remand Centre, Melbourne Assessment Prison and Parkville Youth Justice Centre, where I meet with offenders of Sudanese descent. I try to direct them into a positive pathway while they're in custody, and when they get released.

Here are five of my core, constructive solutions that could be implemented to help tackle issues with youth in general, but especially Sudanese youth.

1. Create spaces for young people to express their opinions – and listen to them

Rather than simply acknowledging them as victims or perpetrators of violence, it’s vital to engage youths as social actors, with their own views and their own contributions to make.

2. Enhance the peace-building, knowledge and skills of young people

It’s important to provide young people with the tools they need to become more effective change-makers.

In concrete terms, this means giving them access to the teachers, facilitators, educational programs and networks who can hone their conflict resolution and leadership skills.

Sudanese youth have caused so much havoc across other communities in Melbourne in the past 18 months that other ethics communities have disengaged with them due to fear, harassment and violence.

Peace-building with other communities is paramount to restore trust and faith.

That means reassuring other ethics communities that Sudanese are a great community and will eventually change in years ahead, preventing the recurrence of violence by addressing root causes and effects of conflict through reconciliation, institution building and political, as well as economic, transformation.

Some of the most successful interventions find ways to leverage the things young people are interested in — arts, sports, media, informal learning and personal relationships — to teach peace-building skills.

For instance, youths are more likely to remember conflict management lessons they’ve learned through sports.

3. Build trust between youths, governments and community

Young people tend to view governments as beset by corruption.

Conversely, governments often fail to take into account the views of youths in policymaking, and may have different priorities for peace.

Youth mobilisation in peace-building efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.

Activities that promote the legitimisation of youths and foster their representation in local and national policymaking processes are crucial.

4. Promote intergenerational exchange

Youths are deeply influenced by the attitudes of their peers.

But rather than working with youths in isolation, peace-building projects that seek to engage youths should also include parents and elders.

We need to seek more inclusive means for young people to express themselves and interact with the wider-population.

5. Strengthen monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation activities need to be undertaken, improved and made routine across all peace-building initiatives which seek to engage youth.

We need to use qualitative evidence and participative approaches in particular to evaluate the impact of youth engagement in conflict resolution.


Victorian gang violence: PM blames Daniel Andrews government

Miranda Devine says:  Red Ted’s government a dangerous virtue-signalling joke which is destroying VicPol. Now we see what happens when you apply left wing, soft-headed criminology theories to the real world

Malcolm Turnbull has blamed the Andrews Labor government for Victoria’s youth crime crisis, after the state’s federal cabinet ministers called for federal intervention following a spree of violent incidents involving African gangs.

Mr Turnbull said the federal government had boosted the capability of the Australian Federal Police, but that ultimately law and order was a state and territory responsibility.

“We are very concerned about the growing gang violence and lawlessness in Victoria and in particular in Melbourne,” the Prime Minister said.

“This is a failure of the Andrews government. It’s very important to understand that community policing is the role of the state government, or the territory government, and ... that’s their responsibility.

“The Australian Federal Police is a small and specialised police force that obviously deals with matters of particular federal responsibility, including terrorism. We also provide a considerable intelligence and technological support to state police forces in respect of gangs.

Mr Turnbull said Victoria Police was a much larger organisation than the AFP, and required political leadership from the Victorian government to do its job.

“What is lacking is the political leadership and the determination on the part of Premier Andrews to ensure the great policemen and women of Victoria have the leadership, the direction, and the confidence of the government to get on with the job and tackle this gang problem on the streets of Melbourne and, indeed, throughout other parts of the state,” he said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, who is from Victoria, said gang crime in the state was “clearly out of control”.

“We know that African gang crime in some areas in particular is clearly out of control and the failure is not the police, but the Premier,” he said.

Mr Hunt said Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy had a law and order plan.

“The solution is very clear — it’s Matthew Guy’s plan — and that is tough on drug crime, tough on gang crime, call it out for what it is, and tough sentencing laws and giving the police, Victorian police, the resources they need to do the job that they want to do.”

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville yesterday defended the Andrews government’s record, saying anyone found guilty of a crime “regardless of their nationality” should expect “to feel the full force of the law”.

She said Victoria Police had referred 18 non-Australian citizens who committed crimes to the federal government for visa cancellation over the past year.


High tide at Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour

You can see that if the sea is rising, it's not rising very much.  More evidence that the alarmist figures put out by the climate bigots are a crock.  Al Gore prophecies rises of several metres

There has in fact been some rise over the 128-year-long tide gauge record. Since 1886 it indicates a long-term rate of sea-level rise of two and a half inches (6.5cm) a century. That's hardly enough to knock anybody off their horse.

But wait! There's more! Here is a plot of the rise:

You can see that the sea level has been plateaued since 1950 -- exactly the time that the climate bigots say global warming began. So NONE of the rise was due to global warming. The small amount of global warming we appear to have had in recent decades did not shift the sea level one iota. Fun!

New literacy teachers recruited as NSW government axes Reading Recovery

A team of 50 literacy and numeracy experts will be recruited to support NSW teachers as the government axes the controversial $50 million Reading Recovery program, which is used in more than 900 schools but was found to be ineffective.

Principals were told in November that the NSW Department of Education would no longer be supporting Reading Recovery, which targets year 1 students who are struggling with literacy. Students undergo a one-on-one intensive program for up to 20 weeks.

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

It is understood principals will still be able to run Reading Recovery from their own budgets but from 2019 the government will redirect the $50 million it spends annually on Reading Recovery to other "evidence based" literacy and numeracy programs.

The government says the new positions are part of the government's $340 million NSW Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, which includes investment in the early education years through to supporting students to reach minimum literacy and numeracy standards in the HSC.

For the first time, year 9 students this year needed to achieve three NAPLAN band 8s in reading, writing and numeracy to pre-qualify for their HSC. If they did not, they will need to sit an online literacy and numeracy test.

The education minister, Rob Stokes, said the 50 new positions would support teachers with face-to-face professional learning in "new approaches to monitoring and supporting" literacy and numeracy from kindergarten to year 10.

The new positions will focus on understanding and diagnosing students literacy and numeracy tests, effective reading in the early years including systemic phonics, writing across the curriculum and number skills and algebraic thinking.

"This investment means that every teacher will have access to evidence-based professional learning to ensure every student has the best opportunity to develop strong literacy and numeracy skills," Mr Stokes said.

"This focus on literacy and numeracy skills is more important than ever in light of evidence that young people today will face a very different future when they finish school."

Despite its widespread use, Reading Recovery – which is also in the US, Canada and Britain – has had its critics and in 2015, influential US literacy academic Louisa Moats told education bureaucrats in Victoria that it was "indefensible" to spend money on the program.

Dr Moats said if she had a child with a learning disability she would refuse to let them take part in a Reading Recovery lesson.  "The instruction is directing their attention away from what they should be paying attention to. It's just not OK, it's harmful."

The federal government is also focused on literacy and numeracy in the early years of primary school, with the education minister Simon Birmingham backing a proposed reading test that would be based on the phonics screening check used in the UK since 2012.

Education ministers discussed the phonics checker at December's Education Council meeting but it is understood no decision on the test's implementation was made.

Mr Stokes has said that he "sees no reason" why it could not be rolled out in NSW but some education academics in Australia and the UK oppose the screening check, which tests 40 words, including 20 pseudo words such as pib, vus, yup and desh and 20 real words.


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

2 January, 2018

Australia's greenhouse gas emissions increase for third consecutive year

These figures are very dodgy. There is no way such a figure could be directly measured. They are estimated by adding together the amount of cement produced, the amount of coal mined and the number of sheep farting etc.  There are many ways that could be inaccurate. Such figures could be fairly good at enabling year to year comparison but fluctuating commodity prices are a big influence on Australia's economic activity so are probably much less accurate than world figures, where losses and gains are more likely to average out

And what does it matter anyway?  Belief in global warming is just climate bigotry -- impervious to any evidence about the  truth or falsity of the theory

New Environment Department figures shows gas emissions grew by 0.7 per cent last financial year, which has been blamed on an increase in gas production and exports.

That comes after a 0.8 per cent increase during the 2015/16 financial year, which was accompanied with a warning Australia was not on track to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target.

But Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the latest data showed the Federal Government was expected to achieve its 2020 climate change target reduction of 294 million tonnes compared to 2000 levels.

In a statement, Mr Frydenberg said Australia was, "[continuing] to close the gap on the 2030 target" despite the annual increase in gas emissions.

"Australia beat its first Kyoto Protocol target by 128 million tonnes of emissions, and updated data released today by the Department of Environment and Energy shows Australia's emissions are now at their lowest level in 28 years on a per capita and GDP basis," Mr Frydenberg said.

Opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler said the Government's revised emissions targets for 2030 would only be 5 per cent below 2005 levels.

"Ignoring land sector emissions, 2030 emissions are projected to be almost 10 per cent higher than 2005 levels," Mr Butler said.

The Environment Department's long-awaited review of climate change policy found Australia accounted for 1.3 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Mr Frydenberg said the report proved the Federal Government had the right mix of policies to meet climate change goals, while also securing reliable and affordable power supply.

He said the emissions reduction fund was now, "one of the world's largest domestic carbon offset markets" with more than 191 million tonnes of abatement secured with an average of price of $11.90 per tonne.

The department report also considered the role of international emissions trading, with the Federal Government now giving "in-principle support".

This would allow businesses that have low emissions to sell excess usage to other organisations that have higher pollution rates, which may help reduce compliance costs.

"The final decision on the timing and appropriate quantity and quality limits will be taken by 2020 following further consultation and detailed analysis," Mr Frydenberg said.

Climate Council chief executive Amanda Mackenzie said the latest figures showed Australia risked becoming, "the global climate laggard".


2018: Crunch time for Australia’s economic renewal

Company tax a big issue

As many of us enjoy the holiday ritual of heading to the beach to unwind and recharge, we can reflect on a year that ends in better shape than it began.

Despite frustrating Senate intransigence and a revolving door of federal MPs tripped up by citizenship issues, many more Australians have found work and non-mining business investment is turning the corner. A national plan for reliable, sustainable and affordable energy exists, and our budget position is on the mend. Green shoots are appearing.

During the break we cannot afford to lose this hard-won momentum; we cannot rest on reform.

Next year, the Australian community is counting on us to develop the conditions to compete globally, create and expand businesses, generate the jobs of the future, improve productivity, help lift sluggish economic growth and deliver higher wage growth.

We cannot sleepwalk during the summer while other nations surge ahead, re-energising their economies after the global financial crisis.

This time last year I described US President Donald Trump’s platform of aggressive company tax cuts and deregulation as a global game changer. The Business Council of Australia has spent the past 12 months sounding the alarm on the dangers to the nation of a seismic tax shift in the US. Those risks are now a reality. Congress has green-lighted a drop in the US company tax rate by 14 percentage points to 21 per cent almost overnight. The modest plan for Australian business, which remains bog­ged in the Senate, proposes a gradual reduction in the tax rate of five percentage points across a decade.

Our company tax rate has been frozen for 16 years while the rest of the world has pushed us further down the international leaderboard. Without urgent action, our competitiveness is at risk; next year is crunch time for Australia.

The Trump tax cuts represent a de facto tax increase on all Australian businesses as we battle for global investment. Safeguarding Australian jobs, living standards and economic growth will require action to keep us competitive. The government’s enterprise tax plan will help do that. The International Monetary Fund and Treasury are clear: without reform we will see capital sucked out of the Australian economy.

The US is not alone in moving to supercharge its economy. Belgium is close to passing legislation to reduce its company tax rate and even France, which traditionally has put high taxes on business, has announced a significant reduction from 33 per cent to 25 per cent.

The average company tax rate across the OECD is 24 per cent and falling. The average across Asia is 21 per cent. Britain is moving to 17 per cent.

There is a plan on the table to ensure Australia doesn’t slip further behind. Next year, let’s just get on with it.

As we head into the new year, business knows it, too, must get its house in order. We will continue to tackle the lightning rod issues that bug the community.

With many Australians worried about the rapid pace of technological change, business understands we must take ownership of the transition already under way in our workplaces.

We need to explain the impact of new technologies and ensure workers have the skills for the years ahead. This will be a major focus of the Business Council during the coming months.

Another area of concern we worked through this year was addressing the complaint that big business failed to trade fairly with small business.

In response, we developed the Australian Supplier Payment Code. This voluntary industry-led initiative sets fair terms to pay small business suppliers within 30 days. The combined turnover of signatories so far to the code is $400 billion, and these organisations employ nearly 400,000 people.

The BCA and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia also signed a memorandum of understanding, committing us to work collaboratively on issues such as taxation and workplace relations.

We recognise the best policies are those that encourage the growth of all existing businesses and help create new businesses.

We must now remind Australians of the enormous contribution business — large and small — makes to their lives every day.

From the people serving at the checkout to the truck drivers and the workers on the front desks, business keeps the country running. We are pivotal to creating jobs, expanding the economy and delivering the wealth and economic prosperity the community shares.

Business employs 10 million of the 12 million working Australians. The tax businesses and their employees pay provides about $235 billion, or 60 per cent, of the taxes that underpin the services we want and expect. Business represents almost six million mums and dads who own shares in Australian companies that pay dividends and taxes. It’s where our superannuation is invested.

Business isn’t a villain; it’s absolutely essential to our economy.

Without business, the world would be a very, very different place. An anti-business agenda would spell disaster for the country. There would be little job creation, let alone wage growth. The best way to boost wages is through productivity improvements, a more competitive economy and a focus on growth.

This means creating an environment that allows business to thrive. We need to reduce the unnecessary red tape and regulations that cripple Australian businesses from responding and adapting to economic change.

We also need to be armed with a well-trained and highly skilled workforce.

Earlier this year, I took the unusual step for a chief executive of the BCA in calling for a new form of protectionism. By this I didn’t mean winding back the clock and retreating to trade barriers and inefficient industry subsidies. Instead, I want to see Aus­tralia protect our capacity to com­pete on a global stage, protect our ability to develop new businesses and expand existing ones that can export around the world. We need to safeguard our ability to innovate and to protect the creation of rewarding, high-paying jobs.

This new Australian protectionism can help ensure we are the most skilled, the most trained and the most resilient people on earth. Why shouldn’t this be our aim? Australians deserve nothing less.

As technology transforms the economy, we need to future-proof ourselves. But first we need to rebuild our tertiary education system, tearing down the silos between higher education and vocational education and training.

Next year, the BCA will continue to press the case for a single tertiary funding system to ensure no Australian falls through the cracks of a changing workforce.

The VET sector is the main vehicle for training workers for some of Australia’s biggest employers and industries. It will be crucial in retraining and expanding the skills of workers for the jobs of the future. By shifting to one tertiary funding system, we can help break the stigma that a vocational qualification is any less prestigious than a university degree. It is not.

I am proposing each Australian be given — and be in control of — their own portable lifelong skills account.

This would enable them to study short courses and modules from a university or a VET provider to build on their existing qualifications, essentially piecing together the credentials they need for the new world of work.

I am urging all parties to focus on the holistic reform of the tertiary sector to ensure it is more responsive to the demands of future workplaces and the skills mix workers will need.

As we enter the new year, we have an opportunity to build on the tentative signs of economic renewal under way.

The release last week of the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook confirms Australia’s revenue growth overwhelmingly is driving the improved budget position.

If parliament is unwilling to support the government in its efforts to restrain expenditure, then business will need to do the heavy lifting on delivering economic growth.

The outlook forecasts economic growth of 2.5 per cent in 2017-18, lifting to 3 per cent in 2018-19. We can no longer continue to accept annual growth with a two in front of it.

The IMF warned last month Australia’s economic recovery was lagging that of other major countries. Now, more than ever, we must pull out all stops to accelerate economic growth and boost investment to ensure businesses can generate revenue and stronger growth.

We cannot simply tread water. Let’s pick up the pace and make real progress in narrowing the gap with our global rivals. Let’s bring it home next year. Introducing a fairer, competitive company tax system that ensures Australian businesses are no longer forced to compete with one arm tied behind their backs is a good starting point.

Regaining our global compet­itiveness is not about statistics; it’s about protecting our quality of life.

It’s about restoring Australians’ sense of hope, rekindling their aspirations for themselves and their family. It’s about ensuring they have a good job and can build a better life.

We want every single Australian to have the opportunity to realise their potential. We want Australians to be rewarded for their hard work, ambition and drive, and to feel that together we are moving ahead.


Australia's least-competitive industries earning big profits

Economists have no quarrel with businesses making profits. The shareholder-owners who provide the financial capital needed to sustain those firms are entitled to a return on their investment, one that reflects not only the (opportunity) cost of their capital, but also the riskiness of the particular business they're in.

Economists call such a return on equity "normal profit". But sometimes the various barriers to new firms entering a market limit competition, allowing the incumbents to make profits in excess of those needed to induce them to stay in the industry.

These are called "super-normal" profits (super as in "above"). Now get this: the other name for super-normal profits is "rents" – economic rents, to be precise.

We're used to thinking of rent-seekers as businesses or industries that ask governments for special treatment. But it's common for rents to be sought in situations that have nothing to do with government favours.

One of the most informative pieces of economic research undertaken last year was conducted by Jim Minifie, of the Grattan Institute, who made detailed estimates of the economic rents being earned in particular industries – something no government agency would be game to do.

He focused on the two-thirds of the economy made up by the "non-tradable private sector", excluding export and import-competing industries and the public sector.

He found that the annual return on equity in the most competitive part of this sector averaged 10 per cent. That compares with returns exceeding 30 per cent in internet publishing, which includes online classified advertising of homes, jobs and cars.

Then came internet service providers on 25 per cent and wired telecom on a fraction less. Supermarkets were on about 23 per cent, sports betting on 22 per cent, liquor retailing on 19 per cent, and wireless telecom and (get this) private health insurance on about 18 per cent.

Delivery services and fuel retailing are on 15 per cent, with banking not far behind on 14 per cent, level pegging with electricity distribution and airport operations.

But the rate of an industry's super-normal profit or economic rent isn't the same as its absolute amount. Most industries with very high rates of profit are quite small.

Measured in dollar terms, the most rents are in banking, followed by supermarkets, electricity distribution (just the local poles and wires), wired and wireless telecom.

Minifie estimates that rents account for 20 per cent of the non-tradable private sector's total annual after-tax profits of $200 billion. This is equivalent to more than 2 per cent of gross domestic product.

Another way to judge the significance of super-normal profits is to express them as "mark-ups" – as proportions of total sales.

The average mark-up across the whole non-traded private sector is 2 per cent. So, if rents were eliminated, but costs didn't change, average prices would fall by 2 per cent.

Within that average, however, the mark-up in internet publishing is 26 per cent. Then come airport operations on 20 per cent, wired telecom on 19 per cent and electricity distribution on 12 per cent.

Further down the league table, electricity transmission – the high-voltage power lines, not the local poles and wires – has an estimated mark-up of 7 per cent.

But get this: the banks' mark-up is just 4 per cent and the supermarkets' is a bit over 3 per cent.

How come, when super-profits account for more than half the supermarkets' total profit? Because supermarkets are a high-volume, low-margin business (as are banks).

Minifie notes that Coles and Woolworths are so big they achieve huge economies of scale. And, as dairy farmers well know, they achieve further cost savings by using their market power to force down the prices they pay their suppliers.

Trick is, they pass much of these cost savings on to their customers, but keep enough of them to remain highly profitable.

Coles and Woolies have substantially higher profit margins than their smaller rival IGA, even though their average prices are lower than IGA's prices. So the big two's costs must be a lot lower than IGA's.

The list of industries with the highest super-profits reminds us how badly governments have stuffed-up the national electricity market, how much better they could be doing in controlling the prices of monopoly businesses such as Telstra, airports and port terminals, and in charging for liquor and gambling licences, not forgetting the indulgent treatment of private health funds.


Turnbull and Shorten face the battler factor in 2018

The political signposts this month show the coming year will provide some pretty brutal lessons for our political elites, at state and federal level. Whether they pay attention is up to them. On past experience, they probably won’t.

Signpost No 1

The New England by-election of December 2

An extraordinary swing towards Barnaby Joyce, despite his Kiwi citizenship woes, confirms that a candidate who can connect with voters at a grassroots level can overcome any number of hurdles.

This seat in northern NSW teems with a demographic readers will recall as “Howard battlers”. This group is socially conservative, has a lower-than-average income due partly to a heavy reliance on commonwealth welfare cheques, and tends to live in regional areas or on the urban fringes.

They are the digitally disrupted, out of work or underemployed as a result of declining or automating manufacturing. And they are the closest thing Australia has to Trump and Brexit voters.

Joyce’s rural reawakening had him talking about the sorts of issues we used to hear on ABC radio’s Country Hour in the 1960s: export prices, local jobs, farm debt, and bringing the Canberra public service closer to the voters and taxpayers it is meant to serve.

There seemed to be a focus on the local positives and a lack of the debilitating and mutually destructive negative campaigning that helped erode primary vote support for the Coalition and the Labor Party last year down to the lowest levels in their history: 42.1 per cent and 34.7 per cent respectively.

The impact of this style of campaigning can be measured by the result, which was a 7.2 per cent swing to Joyce, despite by-elections normally going against the government of the day.

And this in a state where at the last state election our modelling showed the Nationals brand was on the nose, as the local Liberals weren’t voting for the Coalition’s junior member. They certainly did this time, as did many working-class Labor voters. It turns out that, compared with last year, Joyce won more votes from country families of the sort that used to dominate the old Queensland Howard battler profile back in the noughties.

These voters re-elected the old populist ALP premier Peter Beat­tie in February 2004 with 56.4 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote and then, eight months later, returned John Howard as the Coalition prime minister with 57.2 per cent of the 2PP vote.

Voters for Joyce included a large bloc of welfare recipients chasing cheaper housing on the outskirts of town, middle-income male tradies, male hospitality workers, renters, European migrants and — the clincher — traditional Labor voters. We even noted the presence of public servants, presumably including those who at first didn’t want to move from Canberra (check out our online map at, where the swing map shows you the impact of each demographic group and how it helped).

The battler demographic is strongest in Queensland and NSW. One Nation hoovered them up as Senate primary votes last year. One Nation’s impact on the Coalition primary vote is stark. According to quarterly state breakdowns of Newspoll published in The Australian on Tuesday, the Coalition’s primary vote in NSW fell from 41.9 per cent at the federal election last year to 35 per cent in the three months to December. And the Liberal National Party’s primary vote in Queensland since last year’s federal election is down from 43.2 to 32 per cent.

In the same timeframe, One Nation’s primary vote in NSW has lifted from 0.6 per cent at the federal election last year to 10 per cent in the three months to December. In Queensland, it has moved from 5.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

If you want to see where such voters live, drive through Longman, the highly marginal federal electorate north of Brisbane where Labor’s Susan Lamb may face a by-election early next year due to a possible referral over British citizenship. Labor won the seat last year on One Nation preferences.

If, next year, the LNP fails to hold or improve on its 2016 vote in this seat, you can be sure the Coalition cannot win enough seats to survive the next federal election, due by mid-May 2019. The Howard battler voting bloc represents 13 per cent of Queensland voters and holds the key to the outcome of the next federal election. Members such as Joyce are a defence against its defection.

Signpost No 2

The Bennelong by-election of December 16

When political commentators look at voting trends, they can be too quick to point to religion or ethnicity as a driver of voting behaviour. Working-class Australians are apparently a bit harder to notice for some commentators, who more readily spot a Muslim in traditional dress. Similarly, a young, second-generation Australian professional family becomes a Chinese voter. This is more of a comment on the commentator than the group in question.

The significance of the same-sex marriage process became apparent when our research at Australian Development Strategies broke down the Bennelong vote booth by booth.

The contest involved a sitting member, John Alexander, whose 2016 vote we modelled as being about 7 per cent above what it should have been.

In other words, Alexander turned a 53 per cent Liberal seat into a 60 per cent seat because 7 per cent of typical Labor voters liked him enough to vote for him.

Many of these voters would have been of Chinese ancestry, as Bennelong is the seat with the highest percentage of Chinese speakers in the country, at 20 per cent. So, if the Chinese like you in Bennelong, you’re doing OK. And according to my source of advice on China, a professional of Chinese and Australian ancestry, Alexander appealed because “he’s had a distinguished national career as a sportsperson, and he’s an older bloke with some grey hair and a Western name”.

At the by-election we saw a roughly 5 per cent swing against Alexander. Commentators seized on how the Chinese community voted, especially in view of the federal government’s recently unveiled foreign interference laws. We also had just seen the demise of young ALP senator Sam Dastyari, who, it is fair to say, is pretty close to a few members of Australia’s Chinese community, as indeed are many other politicians.

To give credit where it’s due, Labor opponent and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally did her best, putting on the Chinese favourite colour red whenever possible. But she was relentlessly negative about pretty much anything to do with her opponents.

Yet when we had a look at modelling the result, Chinese ethnicity faded from significance. The swing against the Coalition was largely driven by the progressive left, including groups that opposed holding the same-sex marriage pleb­iscite but ended up voting Yes. The swing against Alexander was also the result of the conservative demographics in Bennelong — those who supported the No position in the plebiscite and who then opposed the limited amendments to the Marriage Act passed on December 7, little more than a week before the by-election.

The working-class religious right didn’t flirt with the Australian Conservatives in Bennelong: it just voted Labor, joining the progressive left.

You’d have to say it takes a particular set of political campaigning skills for a government to come up with a non-binding plebiscite supported by more than six out of 10 Australians that still costs it votes the week after the enabling legislation was passed.

The only thing that held the government vote together in Bennelong in the last week of the campaign was the big group of mainstream middle-class Australians who voted Yes to same-sex marriage and are still wondering what the fuss was about.

The lesson here for the government next year is that sometimes you lose more in the long run from always following the soft option — in this case a plebiscite. Think banking royal commission.

Across both seats, New England and Bennelong, we saw a range of swings of up to 12 per cent for and against the Coalition, but an average swing to the Coalition of about 1 per cent.

This was in a sample of two seats out of 150, one urban, one mixed rural and provincial, with the same sitting members. The idea that you can apply the swing in Bennelong to a swing pendulum and call this a landslide for the opposition makes sense to Bill Shorten and Keneally, but not to me.

The trends in by-elections early next year — we could see them in the Labor-held seats of Batman (Victoria), Fremantle (Western Australia), Braddon (Tasmania) and Longman (Queens­land), the Xenophon seat of Mayo (South Australia), and perhaps the Coalition seats of Chisholm (Victoria) and Mitchell (NSW) — will depend to a great extent on the state of the labour market at the time. And the battlers.

Signpost No 3

The December 19 Newspoll

This showed 46 per cent of South Australians support Nick Xenophon as premier and 32 per cent support his SA Best candidates. In theory, this means South Australian voters on March 17 may elect Xenophon as premier and prove voters have a choice when inept political machines and factional timeservers keep dishing them up profoundly underwhelming leaders and opposition leaders.

Now, there’s a tough option for our political class in Canberra.

At the moment, given the extraordinary level of hostility to the major parties in SA and the corresponding support for Xenophon’s party, the SA seat of Mayo would easily be retained by Rebekha Sharkie if she were able to run.

A by-election in the inner Melbourne seat of Batman, reportedly without a Coalition candidate, would be won easily by the Greens.

My Tasmanian sources tell me local “rough diamond” Jacqui Lambie could win the northwestern provincial seat of Braddon if she ran against Labor’s Justine Keay, as the conservative Tasmanian Liberals have an unfortunate tendency to put up candidates who can win preselections but not elections.

The Liberal Party’s federal vote in Western Australia has been improving since the demise of the unpopular Barnett state government, but this will not have an impact on Labor’s Josh Wilson holding Fremantle in an early by-election, as the seat is safe Greens-Labor.

The Liberals probably could facilitate a Greens victory by not running — but that would require the Liberals admitting they couldn’t win, and this probably would be beyond them.

Longman would be retained by Labor’s Lamb, given the bureaucrats now running the Queensland LNP are busy trying to pretend they did a great job in losing the state election last month, if only they could stop people talking about it in public. So I’ll do it for them. The combined LNP was a good idea when we had optional preferential voting in Queensland elections. Now we don’t, and this has made the LNP country candidates more fearful of One Nation and the LNP urban candidates more vulnerable to the Greens and Labor, as we saw in the recent state election results.

This is why rural LNP members such as George Christensen and Keith Pitt have threatened to quit the LNP, and why LNP urban state MP Scott Emerson lost Maiwar to the Greens.

If Labor was comfortably returned in Longman it would be a sign the game was up for the Coalition, as Longman is a blue-ribbon Howard battler seat. If Labor can win and hold this demographic, the party can win regional Queensland and urban fringe seats across the nation.

Chisholm could be interesting if Liberal MP Julia Banks somehow found herself up for a by-election, which I think is unlikely given the referral mechanisms likely to be employed. It’s a bit of a Melbourne sister seat to Bennelong, with a very strong aspirational Chinese community focused on educational opportunities in local state schools and has a large migrant community.

Its base level of support for Labor in our model is about 54 per cent and Banks won it last year with a strong personal vote of about 6 per cent. The odds would favour Labor winning narrowly in a by-election.

Alex Hawke would easily retain the NSW safe Coalition seat of Mitchell if he were forced to face a by-election, although I can’t see that happening.

Overall, you’re looking at mixed bag here, with Labor losing up to three seats to Greens or independents and the Liberals under threat in Chisholm, with no chance of winning back Mayo from the Nick Xenophon Team.

This means Labor is the party likely to be going backwards federally next year, putting pressure on Shorten, a bloke looking increasingly like a Labor version of former Liberal prime minister Billy McMahon, a man renowned for his skill at white-anting leaders and self-serving political intrigues, if not for his popularity or electoral success.

The worst that could happen here would be for Malcolm Turnbull to lose Shorten as Opposition Leader because his replacement would be Anthony Albanese and that would spell big trouble for the Coalition. I think this is likely to happen, probably just before the next federal election, as we saw in New Zealand — and closer to home in 1983, when Bill Hayden surrendered the ALP leadership to Bob Hawke.

Longer term, if the next federal election isn’t held until early 2019, we can expect to see continuing Labor governments in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and possibly South Australia, and probably a new Labor government in Tasmania, where Opposition Leader Rebecca White looks like she can win in May.

These will be a plus for the federal Coalition, as big-spending, ideologically driven Labor state governments become vote losers for Labor’s federal candidates when local voters find all the red overdue notices hidden behind the kitchen dresser and their taxes start to rise.

The really heavy lead in the saddlebags for the federal Coalition is the big-spending and highly factionalised Coalition government in NSW, whose vote will drop during the next 18 months in direct proportion to the drop in house prices and associated state revenues.

This is why I would expect to see the Prime Minister hang on for his federal election until the last possible date of mid-May 2019, after the NSW election set for March 23. At that time, we can expect the federal government to reach for the personal income tax cuts, as for Labor this is a promise too hard to match, given its spending commitments to public sector unions. Against Shorten as alternative prime minister, this could be enough.


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

1 January, 2018

Feminist Push to make childcare unaffordable

The Leftist IEU (Independent Education Union) have issued the call below.  Government "quality" mandates, including high staff numbers and sweeping  educational requirements for child-minders, have already pushed up the costs of child-minding to the point where most working mothers spend a large slice of their earnings on child care. The union wants a leap in pay for child minders that could push many working mothers out of the workforce altogether.  So I support the call. Young children need their mothers at home, as the research by Erica Komisar has shown.

The claim that a university education is an important qualification for becoming a child minder is absurd and I would like to see the evidence for the claim.  Some education could no doubt help but why university?

The IEU lodged evidence and submissions to support its pay equity claim for early childhood teachers just before Christmas.

This is the latest step in the IEU pay equity case that has been running before the Fair Work Commission since 2013.  The Union is seeking pay rises for university qualified teachers in preschools and child care centres. 

"The claim is based on comparisons with male employees  male teachers in primary schools and male engineers.  At present, teachers in early childhood, who are almost all female, can earn tens of thousands of dollars less than teachers in schools. For example the top award rate for a teacher in a child care centre is less than $70,000 whereas a teacher in a primary school earns close to $100,000" says Carol Matthews, Assistant Secretary of the NSW/ACT Branch of the IEU.

"We are certainly not seeking rates of $156,000 as some media outlets have claimed," she added. "The top rate for a teacher in a child care centre under our claim would be just over $100,00".

The claim only affects a small proportion of the overall number of staff in services and the Union calculates the impact on costs would be relatively small.

"Parents would not necessarily bear the brunt of these increases. The sector is already funded by state and federal governments to the tune of billions of dollars.  Governments should also fund fair pay rates for university qualified teachers as they are so important to children's

The Union states the importance of university qualified teachers to improved learning and social outcomes has been known for decades and is a central plank of the federal government strategy for early childhood education and care.

Via email

Left’s year of Trump-phobia and other insults

There was much hope that the Year of the Rooster would usher in a time of honesty and moral fortitude, which would fit in with the search for individual and collective wellness throughout the land. And there were good signs when it was realised that, contrary to many a prediction by Canberra academic Hugh White, another 12 months had passed without a military conflict between the US and China.

Alas, it soon became evident that 2017 was a bit like any other time — replete with hyperbole, historical distortion, wish fulfilment and false prophecy. Month by month:

January: London-based Australian economist Steve Keen is fawned on by Fairfax Media’s Patrick Commins for his foresight. It’s almost a decade since Keen predicted a 40 per cent drop in home prices following the global financial crisis. Keen seems to hold the view that he is so far ahead of his time that his prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. Writer George Megalogenis praises former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam for having Justin Trudeau-like progressive policies on refugees. Megalogenis overlooks the fact Whitlam tried to stop Vietnamese refugees from coming to Australia when he was in office.

February: Federal parliamentarian Bob Katter appears on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live and al­leges that, as treasurers, Labor’s Paul Keating and the Coalition’s Peter Costello “doubled the dollar in value”. He just made this up but was not corrected by the presenter. ABC Radio Sydney presenter Wendy Harmer, a member of the eco-catastrophist club, rails against the construction of Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek on environmental grounds. She reckons it will add to the heat in western Sydney, making the area “unlivable”. Harmer also predicts that the tarmac will melt — which makes you wonder how people live and travel in, say, Dubai.

March: ABC journalist Eric Campbell announces that not only is President Donald Trump a “dreadful man” but he has a “dreadful family”. Campbell asks, how did this nightmare happen? The answer is, Trump got elected. Australian National University astrophysicist Brad Tucker tells Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30 that it would take about 750,000 years to reach a recently discovered new solar system. Asked about any qualities that would make the planets in it habitable for humans, Tucker replies, “Firstly, you don’t have Donald Trump as president.” Journalist Paul Bongiorno tweets that “everything” about Nauruans is “undemocratic, unaccountable and offensive”.

April: The Sydney Morning Herald opens up on the NSW Liberal Party. Heath Aston declares that Bronwyn Bishop’s grip on her seat of Mackellar had once been considered “North Korean in its dominance”. Which makes it unclear how she lost preselection. Aston describes Margaret Cunneen SC as part of “the conservative Catholic mafia” that supports Tony Abbott. The use of a term such as “Muslim mafia” would not be cleared for publication at a Fairfax Media newspaper. Meanwhile, journalist Sean Nicholls suggests that there was an attempt by the NSW Liberal Party’s right wing to derail the moderate candidate in North Sydney in a “suicide bomber-like” move. Really.

May: ABC TV’s Media Watch presenter Paul Barry tweets: “No idea if this is true — claim that Trump impeachment process has begun.” It hadn’t. Bongiorno tweets: “There has been a death at Buckingham Palace, world awaits for an official announcement.” The vibe is that Prince Philip had died. He hadn’t. OnRadio National’s Breakfast, Fran Kelly and Alice Workman agree that the Perth-based Liberal MP Andrew Hastie is part of the “Catholic right”. He isn’t a Catholic.

June: Visiting British political operative Alastair Campbell ad­vises a supportive audience on ABC’s Q&A that he told his former boss Tony Blair that where Adolf Hitler “took a few years before he started to go for journalists and judges, Trump did it in week one”. Blair thought this “over the top” — but not, apparently, Q&A presenter Tony Jones. Meanwhile, on The Drum, guest panellist Rory O’Connor supports his 80-year-old uncle’s view that Trump is “doing the same thing” as Hitler did. Harmer expresses surprise that a terrorist attack occurred in an up-market suburb such as Brighton in Melbourne.

July: News emerges of ABC management setting up a staff meeting where those assembled are asked to sit in a ring and talk “through” a plastic toy about how they feel. This attempt at corporate wellness has still not led to the appointment of a conservative in any of the ABC’s prominent programs. The ABC’s Marius Benson opines that “the Trumps look too much like Ceausescus” — a reference to the murderous Romanian communist dictator and his wife. Late at night, Sky News’ Ross Cameron tweets: “In a world where trust seems hard to place, the moon will never let you down.” Now, that’s handy to know.

August: Sky News presenter Kristina Keneally declares that she would “like to think that Jesus, who excoriated the scribes and Pharisees, would have been a fan” of Tim Minchin. Jesus claimed to be the son of God, Minchin is a proud atheist. Failed environmental prophet Tim Flannery reckons that in China “the air’s unbreathable, the water’s undrinkable and the food’s inedible”. Yet there are more than a billion Chinese. Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside QC links Malcolm Turnbull’s warning on terrorism with the propaganda of Nazi Hermann Goer­ing. On Twitter, Van Badham foretells that Trump will be just like Hitler.

September: Senator Derryn Hinch fesses up that even a “close friend … doesn’t like me”. Some time after Peter FitzSimons praised the Italian health system, his wife Lisa Wilkinson complains of her medical treatment in an Italian hospital that “was like walking into a building in Beirut”. The Age’s Julie Szego sees similarities between Turnbull’s language and the “wilful distortion worthy of Uncle Joe” Stalin. Sky News’ David Speers reflects that Labor has “held more positions on coal than the Kama Sutra” — opening up a whole new way to interpret Vatsyayana’s tome.

October. Erik Jensen informs The Drum that “racism is the reason” he is editor of The Saturday Paper. Writing in Fairfax Media, Steve Biddulph preaches against “dysfunctional men” such as Trump, John Howard, Abbott, Peter Dutton and Eric Abetz. He describes Howard as a “dismal human being”. This is abuse posing as argument. Journalist Sarah Macdonald “just can’t get over how much smarter Hillary (Clinton) is than Trump”. But not smart enough to campaign in Michigan or Wisconsin, it seems. Peter ­Greste reckons it would have been better if the September 11, 2001 attacks had been classified as mass murder, not terrorism.

November: The Yes case in the same-sex marriage postal survey prevails by about 62 per cent to 38 per cent despite a Griffith University analysis of Twitter that concluded the No side would gain a narrow victory. Two reporters on the influential ABC radio AM program claim that in Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe “led a guerilla uprising against the British”. At the time, the country was not a British colony. Greens MP Adam Bandt reports that when he “heard that a head of government was cancelling parliament … I thought I was hearing about Zimbabwe, not Australia”. The reference was to the Prime Minister’s decision that the House of Representatives would not sit for one scheduled week. Just one.

December: The year concludes much as it began with so many media types presenting with Trump-phobia. On Late Night Live, presenter Phillip Adams and his panellists David Marr, Laura Tingle and Tony Windsor all agree the US President is a dud. According to Marr he’s a “buffoon”. According to Tingle, Trump is “bringing the world to the edge of nuclear disaster one week and being a buffoon the next week”. Meanwhile, The Saturday Paper ends the year with an explanation for the present state of the vale of tears in which we live. Its front-page declares: “It’s all John Howard’s fault.” Well, at least we know.


I’m a student. Here’s how free speech died at university

UNIVERSITIES really do have a free speech problem, and it should no longer be considered controversial or ‘right-wing’ to say so

Luke Kinsella

ONCE upon a time, society designated universities as intellectual battlegrounds where fights weren’t won by intimidation, but with logic and reason. That’s what separated them from the outside world and its ugly improprieties.

Censorship was antithetical to these refuges of intellectual civility. In fact, it was a sign of cowardice. Unlike the outside world, universities were sanctuaries where all ideas were welcomed and everyone had a seat at the table.

Not anymore. Students around the world have a disturbing intolerance to different opinions. When faced with unfamiliar or offensive views, their gut reaction is to ban them, or condemn those who have them.

In 2015, the Boston Globe reported on a petition created by students at Wesleyan University in protest of their student newspaper’s decision to publish an op-ed critiquing Black Lives Matter (BLM). The petition garnered 147 signatures and called for the newspaper to have its funding revoked. It said the paper failed to ensure Wesleyan University was a ‘safe space for the voices of students of colour’.

I’ve experienced this first-hand. In 2017, I was a columnist for my student newspaper. I wrote a column about the threat to free speech at universities, which every member of the board of editors refused to publish — thus proving my point. Their reason? My criticism of the BLM protesters at Wesleyan.

My editors interpreted my criticism of individual BLM protesters as a rejection of BLM’s entire platform. I never actually criticised their core message: that African-Americans are too often the victim of unjust police brutality — a proposition I agree with.

I criticised the censorious behaviour of individual protesters. There is a difference. Regardless, I was accused of expressing a “damaging” opinion that “endangers students” and is “invalidating to people of colour”.

I have no reservations in describing these students, who I come across every day, as bullies. They’ll laugh at you. They’ll ban you. They’ll make unfounded generalisations about what you believe. And when they know they’ve lost, only to rid themselves of any passing cognitive dissonance, they’ll insult you.

Students should obviously be safe from physical violence. But saying my opinion is “damaging” equates speech with violence. As does the Wesleyan petition, which implies conservative beliefs make students ‘unsafe’.

The belief that speech can be equivalent to violence is an extremely common myth at universities. Students think sticks and stones may break their bones, and words WILL (literally) hurt them. This myth has some sinister implications.

If you think an opinion will cause you physical harm, you’ll seek ‘safety’ from it and use violence in ‘self-defence’. As a result, students defend the ideological homogeneity of their university like they would defend their own physical safety.

We need to teach students that words can’t cause physical harm, and they should never be safe from offensive or confronting ideas. After all, that’s kind of the point of university. You’re supposed to seek out people with whom you disagree, not hide from them, or ban them.

Earlier this year, Ben Shapiro’s visit to UC Berkeley attracted 1000 angry protesters, which forced the university to pay $600,000 in security fees. The pioneers of the 1960s Free Speech Movement, which originated at Berkeley, would hardly consider this ‘free’ speech.

And Berkeley is no anomaly. Since 2000, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has updated a ‘Dis-invitation Database’ that records attempts to disinvite speakers from coming to American universities. The number of dis-invitations has reached 360 (so far).

Instead of actually disproving opinions they dislike, they’ll just insult them. They have an array of go-to jargon and insults, but their favourites include: ‘problematic’, ’violent’, ‘unsafe’, ‘hate speech’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘invalidating of lived experiences’. They blame everything on a white supremacist, heteronormative, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal society.

They act like the most victimised people in the world, but many of them are literally the most privileged people of all time. They live in Australia in the 21st century and often, come from extremely privileged families and go to the most prestigious schools in the country.

Using any of the above labels is like a rallying cry for professionally outraged student protesters, who make their peers afraid to associate themselves with certain opinions. FIRE found that 54 per cent of students admit “they have stopped themselves from sharing an idea or opinion in class at some point since beginning college”.

Too often, these labels are complete misnomers. Students will throw them around haphazardly with no concern for the ramifications. Take, for example, the protesters at Shapiro’s event, who chanted: “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA” — despite Shapiro not being a Trump supporter, a Klansman or a fascist.

Earlier this year, the University of Sydney Union (USU) blocked funding of the Conservative Club’s screening of a documentary that explores social issues relating to men, and critiques feminism.

The screening went ahead, but was protested by 50 to 60 students screaming: “Sexist, racist, anti-queer, bigots are not welcome here.” Conservative Club member Renee Gorman responded, saying: “I’m not a bigot or a racist, I’m not anti-queer, I’m not all the labels they’ve attached to me.”

Actual bigots exist, but students waste their time going after innocent people. Why do they do it? I think there are four potential reasons. Four reasons why this craziness is going on.

Firstly, students (both left and right) have forgotten the art of respectful disagreement. Pivotal to effective disagreement is giving your adversary’s motives the benefit of the doubt. But students don’t do that — they assume peoples’ motives to be impure, unless proven otherwise.

People are no longer ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they’re ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Your political opinions are a reflection of how good you are as a person and anything considered ‘offensive’ isn’t just incorrect, it’s immoral, and not worthy of discussion. Pew Research found 40 per cent of American students believe the government should prevent people from saying offensive comments.

Students live in impenetrable echo-chambers — particularly on social media. As a result, they can’t substantiate their opinions against challengers. Why? Because they never have to. Students expect agreement; they expect detractors to change their mind immediately. But in their frustration, they resort to baseless insults. Students’ first instinct is to protest for their beliefs, rather than sit down with the people that disagree with them.

The left is particularly guilty in this regard, but mostly because they make up the majority of students. The right have their stupid go-to slurs as well, which include: ‘Marxist’, ‘social justice warrior’, ‘cuck’ and ‘feminazi’.

At university, political disagreements should be so commonplace, they’re forgettable. But disagreements are so rare, tense and combative, that onlookers watch them as a form of entertainment. Instead of participating, most students grab the popcorn.

The second reason is a form of identity politics which says it’s not the merit of one’s argument that matters, but their racial, gender or sexual identity. Students believe some identities are more qualified to speak about certain issues than others. So most political arguments take the form of: As an X, I believe Y.

And if you speak about a Y that falls outside the scope of your X, you’re not taken seriously. You can only speak about issues pertaining to your own personal identity.

For example, in discussions about feminism, only a woman’s opinion matters. When a man states his opinion, no one actually proves him wrong. Instead, he’s dismissed as not having the necessary ‘lived experience’ to have a valid opinion. Logic and evidence has ceased being the standard for truth, and identity has filled it’s place.

The third reason: virtue signalling. At university, your level of outrage toward certain people and opinions directly corresponds with your social status. Student leaders are ideological clones of each other.

Students will find any way to publicise themselves ‘fighting the good fight’. The more outraged you are, the better person you’re perceived to be. The more you hate the other side, the more your side loves you.

Sometimes, activism is less about actual causes, and more about gaining social brownie points. And with social media, students can broadcast their good deeds to everyone they know. It makes them feel good, and within their respective echo-chamber, it makes them look good.

Students want the thrill and excitement of calling out actual bigots. It gives them a sense of certainty, meaning and belonging. So if some innocent people are caught in the crossfire to provide that sensation, then so be it.

The fourth and final reason is that there is a short supply of bigotry, but a high demand for it. Students want to be offended, and for that, they need offensive people. But as racism and sexism have declined, they have to maintain their high level of outrage by lowering the bar for what’s considered offensive.

Or as sociologists Bradley Campbell and David Manning put it: “As progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offence to trigger a high level of outrage. The goalposts shift, allowing participants to maintain a constant level of anger.”

This is why students often go after innocent people, and have dramatic reactions to seemingly minute offences — or, as they call, ‘micro-aggressions’.

This outage culture only suppresses debate between the left and right — which is no accident. Students don’t want a debate because debates ‘give a platform’ to ‘dangerous ideas’. They want their opinions to be treated like facts.

Despite my dark depiction of universities, I can assure you: I’m not alone. This isn’t some fringe alt-right rant. If you don’t trust me, trust the over 1400 American professors who have joined Jonathan Haidt’s Heterodox academy, an organisation dedicated to improving free speech and viewpoint diversity at universities.

Or trust President Barack Obama, who has also spoken out against political correctness, censorship and the “coddling” of students.

It’s about time we face the facts. We are witnessing the death of universities as they once were, and as they were meant to be.


Islamist extremism: dance with an enemy we dare not name

The Islamist extremists are winning. Victory is unlikely and, in any event, a long way off but their immediate aims are being ach­ieved, if not in the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, then at least in the democracies of Europe and the Western world.

The signs are ominous in Australia, where 15 years after the Bali bombings this is the enemy whose name we are too often too timid to mention. The extremists have us second-guessing the cultural superiority of our Western liberal democratic model and have conjured a collective and misplaced guilt among us about the treatment of Muslims.

From the fundamentalist preachers to the bloodthirsty terrorists, the ultimate goal of Islamist extremists is simple: global Islamic dominance. To achieve it they need to weaken and harm the West, fuel Muslim grievances and assert their cultural power through demographic changes and political influence.

They loathe our tolerance, freedom of expression and plurality, yet skilfully use these Western strengths against us as they subvert our ways by convincing many of us that we are to blame for their atrocities. We can see the Islamist success in shaping this narrative all around us.

The Palestinian cause is used as a constant irritant. Just this month, popular singer Lorde was bullied into cancelling a concert in Israel while no one seems to care that she will sing in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Likewise, we saw the UN General Assembly vote by an overwhelming majority to condemn the US for recognising the obvious reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And after I argued last week that Melbourne’s Flinders Street horror was an Islamist terror attack — because that was the motivation cited by the Afghan-Australian attacker — Anglican priest Rod Bower described my comments as “poison” that could “drive fragile psyches over the edge”. See what he did there — it is always our fault.

The success of Islamist propaganda can be seen in the fact after a Muslim man allegedly mowed down 19 people on a Melbourne city street and referred to “mistreatment of Muslims” to explain his actions Victorian police denied there was any evidence of a connection to terrorism. Given this is the season for resolutions, is it too much to ask that we start being forthright about the grave threat of Islamist extremism?

The paradoxes generated by the politically correct virtue-signallers who have taken over our politics, bureaucracies and, it seems, even the upper echelons of our law enforcement agencies are deeply worrying. After the Martin Place siege in Sydney and the Flinders Street attack, police and media downplayed terrorism but talked up mental health issues.

Even ASIO once denied links between terrorism and refugees despite the truth that each contemporary, fatal, Islamist terrorist incident in this country has involved refugees. Unpalatable as they are, we must start with the facts. We are told not to stigmatise mental health issues yet we see it used as an explanation for mass casualty attacks. As bollards go up in our cities are we to believe this is to protect us from the mentally ill or the drug-addicted? Why has this suddenly become a problem?

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to maintain strong links with Muslim communities to foster co-operation. They also want to maintain social cohesion and avoid the divisions between Muslim and non-Muslim people that the extremists seek to accentuate. And we should take care not to overstate the extent of the problem. We are talking about individuals of concern in this country who number only in the hundreds and a pool of people susceptible to radicalisation that may number in the thousands. Still, the dangers are obvious.

Yet obfuscation in public information about terror attacks and police actions can only undermine confidence in law enforcement and create concern about government responses to the extremist threat, therefore creating the conditions for the mistrust the authorities want to avoid.

Besides, it is insulting to Muslim and non-Muslim Australians to deny the realities they can observe. It suggests people cannot deal with facts as they fall. We are intelligent enough to understand the threat of Islamist terrorism and sensible enough not to blame all Muslims for any attacks. Time and again we see that despite self-conscious warnings so-called Islamophobic backlashes never materialise.

Politicians and police are servants of the public and should have a clear bias towards sharing information in a forthright fashion rather than keeping secrets, unless confidentiality is important for operational reasons. Initially ruling out terrorism should not be difficult; if the offender is a non-Muslim and not espousing any religious or political cause then police may be able to announce early on that they do not suspect terrorism.

But if the attack is perpetrated by a Muslim immigrant who specifically cites Muslim griev­ances, the public ought to be told immediately that there are indications of a terrorist motive. Additional qualifiers about other factors and ongoing investigations would be understood but the public deserves to hear as many of the relevant facts as possible. Melbourne’s new loudspeakers will be a waste of time unless someone is prepared to speak into them.

At Martin Place, NSW police delayed action and hoped to wear down Man Haron Monis as they would in a domestic siege situation, rather than treating it as an Islamist terror attack where loss of life was inevitable. Yet while this was unfolding they launched an operation to protect Muslims in public places from a Martin Place-inspired backlash. (Of course the backlash never came; even the “I’ll ride with you” hashtag campaign was based on a fabricated episode.)

When Curtis Cheng was assassinated in an Islamist killing at Parramatta the police hierarchy told the public hours later that there was nothing to suggest terrorism. Yet we soon learned the attacker, dressed in black garb, had yelled “Allahu akbar” at the scene before he was shot dead.

There is a disturbing pattern here of police and politicians bending over backwards to discount terrorism even when there are obvious indications Islamist extremism is the motivation.

Experts have long pointed to the overlap between disaffected, mentally disturbed and even drug-addicted people and the Islamist cause. It is a dangerous cocktail that can self-generate lone-wolf terrorists or be exploited by extremist manipulators.

In the wake of Martin Place, Clive Kessler, emeritus professor at the University of NSW’s school of social sci­ences, wrote how the interception of any future “psychotic loner” attacks could be a matter for mental health and security agencies. “But most such incidents are the work of psychotic, sociopathic, disturbed or even ostensibly normal individuals who fall in with, and whose ideas and perverse impulses mesh them into, small like-minded groups, sometimes even broad social movements,” he said.

Kessler wrote of the importance of serious debate within and about our Muslim communities covering the triumphalist and resentful elements of the faith that are shared by the mainstream but taken to violent ends by the extremists. This is the core of the debate. Unless we intelligently confront reforms needed to undermine the Islamist extremist ideology, all the bollards in the world cannot save us.

Psychiatrist and author Tanveer Ahmed, who comes from a Bangladeshi Muslim background, also has written about the overlap between disaffected individuals — particularly refugees — and Islamist extremism. He points out that attacks do not need to be well organised or sanctioned by groups such as Islamic State or al-Qa’ida to be categorised as terrorism. It is about motivation.

Ahmed has written about how paranoid individuals may project their personal resentments through Islamist ideology. Those who are mentally ill or have criminal backgrounds have a higher risk of adopting extremist and violent practices. “None of these factors make the contribution of Islam and particular interpretations that encourage attacks upon non-Muslims irrelevant,” he explains.

Yet it is the essence of the motivation — the Islamist ideology — that politicians and authorities seem most keen to avoid. They prefer to talk about hardware and firepower — and mental health.

Will the loudspeakers installed in Melbourne’s CBD warn of mental health outbreaks? Are the military weapons of the NSW police to be trained on people who are disturbed and ill?

Or do we need to accept that the Islamist aim of disrupting our society by targeting infidels and innocents cannot be truly defeated until the ideology itself is exposed, confronted and eradicated?


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


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

Another bit of Australian: Any bad writing or messy anything was once often described as being "like a pakapoo ticket". In origin this phrase refers to a ticket written with Chinese characters - and thus inscrutably confusing to Western eyes. These tickets were part of a Chinese gambling game called "pakapoo".

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

Would you believe that there once was a politician whose nickname was "Honest"?

"Honest" Frank Nicklin M.M. was a war hero, a banana farmer and later the conservative Premier of my home State of Queensland in the '60s. He was even popular with the bureaucracy and gave the State a remarkably tranquil 10 years during his time in office. Sad that there are so few like him.

A great Australian wit exemplified

An Australian Mona Lisa (Nikki Gogan)

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."

A great Australian: His eminence George Pell. Pictured in devout company before his elevation to Rome


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To be continued ....
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