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 July, 2015

A Leftist martyr is born

Attempts to stop people booing aggressive part-Aboriginal football player Adam Goodes have backfired.  An attempt was made to suppress the booing by branding it as "racist".  That caused great offence among the many who simply thought Goodes was a bad sportsman.  The outcome was a wave of statements in reply about Goodes being offensive --e.g. here

I think I should mention that AFL legend Jason Akermanis got booed a lot in his day. But unlike Adam Goodes, Akermanis is white. So, you know. Not racist booing.  Akermanis has in fact called Goodes a "sook", which translates fairly well as "unmanly" -- a very bad image in football.

The criticisms have now got to Goodes and he appears to have departed football.  After being accused of being racists, the fans  would undoubtedly erupt into a storm of booing if ever Goodes stepped onto the field again.  His position really is untenable.

Goodes seems to me to be less than half Aboriginal in terms of ancestry but, if he were a tribal Aborigine, a wave of disapproval would certainly weigh heavily upon him.  Tribal Aborigines can be, and still are, "sung" to death.  The singing consists of the men of the tribe sitting down together and chanting disapproval of the person for hours on end.  The target of such chanting will simply die.  So it is probable that Goodes is feeling very distressed by the turn of events.

The Left however will see Goodes as a victim and see his eclipse as proof that all Australians are racists.  He will be celebrated in song and dance for decades as a Leftist hero. There will undoubtedly be Horst Wessel songs about him. That he might have deserved his eclipse and that he might be to blame for his own downfall will not be considered

As it has been revealed AFL star Adam Goodes has been granted indefinite leave over the controversy involving 'racist' fans who boo him, the mother of the girl he first called out has demanded an apology and said he should 'man up and take' the abuse.

The woman, identified only as Joanne, said the abuse Goodes receives from fans on a weekly basis stems from how he treated her daughter - who racially abused the player in 2013 when she called him an 'ape'.

'If he hadn't have done it he wouldn't be having the problems he'd be having now,' according to the Sydney Morning Herald.  'He probably should apologise because maybe he should have picked his target a little bit better.

'I don't think Julia was treated fairly at all. It was the way he carried on on the ground that made them do what they did. If he hadn't have carried on like a pork chop it wouldn't have mattered.'

The woman also accused Goodes of being too sensitive when it comes to abuse he receives, and said he needs to 'man up and just take it if he wants to play the game'.

The comments come after Sydney announced Goodes would miss at least this Saturday's game with the Adelaide Crows, in a statement released on Wednesday evening.

Swans CEO Andrew Ireland said the decision to grant the premiership champion a leave of absence from the club was made due to the damage the scandal is doing to his mental well-being.

'Adam is sick and tired of this behaviour. It has been happening for too long and it has taken its toll,' Mr Ireland said. 'As a club we are working with Adam and those close to him and supporting him through what is a really difficult time.  'We will give Adam all the time he needs. We will keep supporting him and he will return to the Club whenever he is ready.'

The announcement comes after the debate over fans heckling of the Indigenous star was reignited last weekend following a tribute paid to the star during Sydney's clash with West Coast.

After kicking a goal, Lewis Jetta - another of Sydney's Indigenous players - performed a tribal dance, which he later dedicated to his friend and mentor.  The dance included a spear-throwing action, which was directed by Jetta at fans who had booed Goodes throughout the match. Goodes performed a similar dance during a game in June during the AFL's Indigenous round.

On Tuesday, the Swans slammed fans who boo Goodes as 'racist'.  'Should anyone choose to deride Adam through booing, then they are part of something that is inherently racist and totally unacceptable,' Mr Ireland said.  'The people involved in this behaviour can justify it any way they like. Our Club calls it racism.

'Adam is sick of it. He is tired and drained by it. It is something that has weighed down on him for some time.  'He is frustrated that he is constantly the face of such negativity.'

The club's statement came amid reports Goodes was on the verge of walking away from the sport entirely as a result of the abuse he has endured.

The AFL Players Association released a statement on Tuesday, calling for an immediate end to the attacks on Goodes.

We believe that Adam has been vilified for calling out racism, for expressing his views on Aboriginal issues, and for celebrating and promoting his proud cultural background. This is not something for which Adam should be vilified – it is something for which he should be celebrated.'

The race row around Goodes dates back to May 2013, when he pointed out a person in the crowd during a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for calling him an ape. The supporter was removed from the ground.

The person who made the comment turned out to be a 13-year-old girl, who Goodes later spoke with to discuss how her comments hurt him because of his Aboriginal background.

Critics of Goodes said he called out a minor who was too immature to take responsibility for the comments, and suggest fans boo him because they dislike his on-field behaviour and not because of his race.

Goodes has played 365 games for Sydney since debuting in 1999, and has twice won the Brownlow Medal - the award given to the league's best player. He was also named Australian of the Year in 2014. [So was the crooked Tim Flannery]


Student guild angered as University of Western Australia axes three arts majors

The University is trying to ease out "Studies" courses, which are notoriously lightweight and propagandistic

The University of Western Australia has been criticised by its student guild over the proposed dismantling of three arts majors.

UWA plans to abolish its Gender Studies, European Studies and Medieval & Early Modern Studies majors from next year.

The university will instead teach the subjects as units within broader, more popular majors, such as English and History, in an effort to increase the number of students enrolled in those courses.

But the change has angered the UWA Student Guild Council, with a petition so far amassing 300 signatures against the proposals.

The guild's Emma Boogaerdt said two of the subjects had previously been abolished before being re-introduced.

"Students are feeling that they are continually unfairly targeting these majors," Ms Boogaerdt said. "Students are going to be less likely to take them up because they're not sure if they're going to be continued.

"Having majors that are brought back and cut is a really unsustainable way to run a faculty, and a really unsustainable way to keep the constant student cohort going."

Ms Boogaerdt said cutting Gender Studies as a major in its own right also sent the wrong message to students.  "It sends the message that learning about the history of women's oppression is not valued, it shows they think it's a niche issue and the university doesn't think it deserves its own place," she said.

In a statement, a spokesman for UWA said it remained committed to teaching the three subjects, and it was planning the changes because only a relatively small number of students enrolled to study the existing degrees.

The spokesman said students had been consulted throughout the process, and those currently studying the subjects would be able to complete their majors as planned. UWA said there would not be any staffing changes as a result of the process.

The guild is expected to raise the issue with the UWA Academic Council next week.

Ms Boogaedt said she was open to a compromise.  "I think an acceptable medium would be if the university said, 'all right, so far we haven't had adequate student consultation on this issue, let's take it off the chopping block for the moment and take it back to the drawing board'."


Bias against rich people

Brighton is a wealthy Melbourne suburb

I LIVE in Brighton. I’ve grown up in Brighton my whole life and I went to a ­private school.  There, I’ve said it, loud and proud. Have you ­already summed me up?  Let me start by saying this, I’m not the “typical Brighton girl”.

Yes I like nice things — who doesn’t? But I’ve had to work for every single one of those “Brighton” items — whether it was my car, a handbag, or a new coat for work.

Why is it though, when people ask where I’m from, I become awkward and end up lying? “Oh, do you know ­Bayside? Yeah, I live around there kinda, um, Sandringham, Black Rock way.”

I found, going through university and now in full-time work, Victorians can be quick to judge.

First impressions are everything and society likes to make up its mind in about five seconds.

When I was at university, in the first class of each semester the teacher would make us go around the class and introduce ourselves.

First year uni, I was a ­novice. I didn’t understand society’s quick judgment. “Hi, my name is Cassie, I’m studying journalism and I live in Brighton.”

I remember the initial reaction of one of my tutors: “Oh we’ve got a Briiiighton girl in the class!”

I didn’t know what he meant. Should I be offended? Embarrassed?

By third year, I knew how to avoid the unpleasant looks and reactions. I didn’t want people to treat me ­differently, or think I had it easier than them. So I lied.  “Hi, my name is Cassie, I’m studying journalism and I live around the St Kilda area.”

But what my fellow students, teachers and society didn’t sum up in the five seconds of the first impression was how my family got to be where they are. How we came to live in Brighton.

When my grandfather was 14 he fled Greece for a better life. He came here alone.

When he arrived in Australia, he taught himself ­English, working 70 hours a week in a family cafe in Richmond until he eventually married and took over the cafe when his uncle died.

My mother’s parents had a fruit shop in Black Rock. My mum, and her two ­sisters, lived in the back of the shop until her parents could afford a house.

My grandparents on both sides struggled. They struggled to send my parents to school, to put food on the table, to give them a life they deserved. But they did it.

My mother and father are dreamers. They have huge, crazy, unimaginable goals but they work hard to achieve these goals — which is how they’ve raised me and my younger brother.

I live where I do because of their sheer hard work, their sacrifice for us.  Why do people judge that?

My parents have taught us, if we want something in our life — whether that’s a ­career, a holiday or a home — it’s not impossible, nothing is impossible. It just comes down to pure hard work.

It hurts when people want to stereotype us and jump to conclusions, ridiculing us for striving to be successful.

I’m not saying everyone who lives in Brighton is like my family, but Bayside is made up of 100,000 different people, each with their own histories and dreams for the future.

Society should not be so quick to judge.


Merger and acquisitions boom largely bypassing Australia, thankfully

There have been a lot of losses associated with mergers and acquisitions in the past

Bankers and lawyers around the world may be on the cusp of the seventh merger and acquisitions boom, but activity in Australia so far this year has fallen short of bumper levels, according to King & Wood Mallesons.

In a briefing to clients and employees, KWM partner David Friedlander said conditions globally in 2015 were similar to previous cycles of frenetic M&A activity, experienced six times in living memory. Those included the technology boom, the heady days of 2006-07 and prior to the sharemarket crash in 1987.

"What we have now is the start of a possible seventh," he said of mega-deals and activity levels globally. "This year, it has been sheer bravery and fear that if you don't run hard someone will come at you."

According to Dealogic, announced global M&A amounted to $US2.28 trillion ($3.09 trillion) in the first six months of 2015, the second highest half-year volume on record behind the same period in 2007. There were 31 transactions of more than $US10 billion ($13.5b) announced, underscoring the trend for large consolidation plays spanning industries including healthcare and pharmaceuticals, health insurance, energy and gas, and technology and communications.

Activity levels in the US are leading the charge while the Asia Pacific region has seen a rise in the proportion of global volumes it accounts for and Europe a decline in its share.

Large local deals this year have included offshore-based tilts for companies including Toll Holdings and Asciano, and the marriage of Federation Centres and fellow retail landlord Novion Property Group.

"For Australia it's actually been a disappointing market for M&A," Mr Friedlander said, noting that even so large infrastructure deals would likely keep the total deal values at reasonable levels.


30 July, 2015

TPP: Australia on the verge of joining huge new Pacific trade deal

Trade deals always have downsides as well as upsides so it is childish to want it to be all-win.  The only question is whether the upsides are preponderant.  They should be but we are unlikely to be sure immediately

Australia is on the cusp of joining a huge new United States-led trade deal which will "set the rules" for doing business in the region at the expense of China.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving twelve Pacific-Rim nations, could be sealed in coming days, after talks that had drifted for five years narrowly escaped death in the US Congress.

"It could be done this week," said Trade Minister Andrew Robb last night, as he prepared to depart for what he hopes will be one final round of talks in Maui, Hawaii.

"There's no guarantees but the whole mood has shifted", he said, referring to a last-minute US Congress decision to give the White House autonomous negotiating powers.

"We're close enough, we're down to the really difficult ones – like sugar."

Aside from Australia's long-suffering sugar farmers, who have missed out in previous trade deals, Mr Robb said divisions remain over a US proposal to extend intellectual property protections for "biologics", which would increase the price of medicines.

Mr Robb said beef farmers were set to be winners alongside a range of professional services firms.

But the recent surge of negotiating momentum owes at least as much to geopolitics as it does to economics.

A range of nations that might once have bristled at American muscle-flexing are now encouraging it – as they hedge against China's growing propensity to throw its weight around.

Fairfax can reveal that the twelve prospective members have agreed to rules that would make it harder for the kind of state-owned enterprises which dominate China's outward investment profile.

"One rule is that governments can't give SOEs benefits that allow them to undercut the market," said one source close to negotiations, saying that SOEs would be penalised if they received discount loans when investing in TPP nations.

"Also, SOEs are not allowed to discriminate against other TPP parties in the way they sell and buy their products – it's an extension of government procurement rules," said the source.

Tellingly, it is understood that negotiations for this novel SOE chapter have been led by Australia, despite its reliance on Chinese trade, and endorsed by Vietnam, despite its own reliance on state-owned firms.

In another global first, the TPP will include enforceable anti-corruption provisions which will also have an outsized impact on Chinese firms.

They will mirror the OECD's anti-corruption guidelines and the UN Convention against corruptions, except that they will link to dispute resolution provisions.

And the single biggest winner out of this agreement is likely to be China's arch-rival, Japan.

The TPP will increase Japan's GDP by between 2 and 4 percent over a decade, according to estimates by economists at the International Monetary Fund.

Manuel Panagiotopoulos, from Australian and Japanese Economic Intelligence, said the TPP will provide Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with the impetus for much-needed domestic international reforms while laying a foundation for regional integration and security.

"What a lot of economists don't get is that geo-politics is more important than trade flows," he said.

"If the security foundation doesn't work then trade flows will dry up in an instant."

While China anxieties have loomed in the background of these negotiations, the economic giant could still join the group after the rules have been set.

"Both we and China should want to see China in the TPP – and sooner rather than later," said trade consultant Andrew Stoler?, formerly deputy director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

Earlier, when Mr Obama was wrestling with Congress, he told the Wall Street Journal: "If we don't write the rules, China will write the rules out in that region."

And US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter? went further: "Passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier."

The twelve negotiating parties are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.


'Scientific Method' Australian Government style

Written by John Elliston AM, FAusIMM(CP)

Since 1936 the ‘scientific method’ has been recognised by Australian law (Subsection 73B(1) of the ITAA 1936) as: - ‘Systematic investigative and experimental activities that involve testing a hypothesis (new idea) by deductive formulation of its consequences. aussie scientific method

These deductions must be rigorously tested by repeatable experimentation and logical conclusions drawn from the results of the experiments. The hypothesis must be based on principles of physical, chemical, mathematical, or biological sciences’ (this would include the Second Law of Thermodynamics).

In 1972 Australian universities abandoned the procedure that had been used for award of their highest degrees in science to that time. DSc candidates were required to submit a doctoral thesis embodying an original research finding (details of a tested hypothesis). This was “peer reviewed” by two or more external scientists selected by the university as most appropriately qualified.

It was recognised that a candidate who had tested an original hypothesis may be equally or better able to interpret the results than an external reviewer. Candidates were therefore entitled to a “right of reply” to the written report or comments of the universities’ reviewers. In reply they could produce references or call on reviewers of their own selection.

University authorities were able to fairly assess the candidate’s new research finding and determine if it merited the award of their highest degree. This procedure raised standards in all scientific disciplines to which it applied but by 1974 it was abandoned by all Australian universities as too tedious and time consuming to cope with the rapidly increasing number of candidates aspiring to higher degrees.

With continuing rates of increase since 1970’s, Australian universities now resemble production-line ‘higher degree factories’! They quite rightly require higher degree candidates to meet very high standards but they are uniform standards requiring each candidate to conform to the limitations of the knowledge of his or her degree supervisor. corrupted scientific method

Significant new discoveries cannot conform to what is currently “generally accepted”. All publicly funded research in Australia tends to digress, at least to some extent, from the scientific method toward the extreme case depicted in the American cartoon (pictured right). Competitive research proposals are written to get research grants rather than to advance our knowledge by resolution of long-standing problems.

Geological researchers spend more time looking at computer screens than looking at rocks and mineral deposits!


Shorten:  A leader on a leash

LABOR has two leaders: Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek.

From the applause Plibersek received from her gay marriage rally cry yesterday at the ALP conference in Melbourne, it is the deputy in name only who clearly has the numbers.

Any victories Shorten can claim to have achieved over the weekend — such as narrowly fending off a binding gay marriage bill and securing boat turn backs on asylum seekers — were pyrrhic victories at best.

His senior left-wing shadow ministers have sent a clear message to him: “We have the numbers, and you know it.”

Shorten now leads a party furiously divided over key election issues, and one that has shown a willingness to abandon longevity and substance for short-term expediency.

Not since former NSW premier Morris Iemma was rolled at a state conference on power privatisation, and perhaps Calwell and Whitlam in the 1960s on US foreign policy, has an ALP conference been so hostile to a leader.

But it shouldn’t surprise. The structural problems that began in NSW in 2007 have manifested in the Left ­finally flexing its new-found muscle at a national ALP conference.

Shorten may have secured the numbers to allow him the luxury of adopting turnbacks, but it came with a very expensive price tag.

His own faction was rolled on the Israel/Palestine issue, he lost the numbers for a conscience vote on gay marriage, and he has been forced to adopt a renewable energy target that would elevate Australians’ electricity bills to among the highest in the world.

To top it off, the conference voted to censure Martin Ferguson, one of the party’s last remaining voices of sanity.

The optics for Shorten are now clear. The Left is in control of the Labor Party, and if he doesn’t dance to the beat of their drum, he is gone.  It doesn’t get much uglier than this.


Labor returns to Kevin Rudd’s 2007 campaign

BlLL Shorten says he has learnt from Labor’s mistakes but that certainly hasn’t stopped him ­repeating them.

If anything, he has been channelling the same grandiose policy ideas outlined by Kevin Rudd in the 2007 campaign.

The old themes of stop-the-boats and turnbacks, a ramped-up scare campaign about global warming, a promise of new carbon taxes and expensive investments in unreliable renewable energy, even a totally ineffectual 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, mirroring Rudd’s promise of a 60 per cent cut by 2050, have all made a comeback.

Recycling is clearly the Labor way, even though the nation is still deeply in debt and borrowing billions to pay for the failed policies of the last Labor government.

With an election looming within the next 12 months, Shorten is pitching his spiel to Greens and the Left and not to average Australians or even traditional Labor Party members.

While Labor’s true believers may have given his speech pro forma applause on Friday there was a distinct lack of spontaneity and enthusiasm.

They had heard it all before. Labor MPs present appeared disengaged, Shorten’s closest supporters looked concerned. As always, the biggest disconnect was between his rhetoric and any cost considerations.

Trying to gloss over the fury within the party over his eleventh-hour backflip on boat turnbacks, Shorten avoided any mention of what he and his supporters euphemistically describe as a policy “option” by introducing shadow immigration spokesman Richard Marles and noting that he will deliver policies that are “safe and humane”.

That opacity covers a lot of water and will be seized upon by people smugglers waiting offshore to resume their lethal trade.

It puts back into play what former Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono once called the Australian “sugar on the table”.

The Labor Left has ­demanded a doubling of the current refugee intake of 13,750 places as a quid pro quo for its support for the turnback policy, an increase on Labor’s promise of a 20,000 per year humanitarian intake it took to the last election of 20,000 per year.

There are obvious implications arising from such a promised increase as doubling the refugee intake would cost something in the region of an extra $2.7 billion over the forward estimates, not including the longer term costs such as welfare dependency, which is a growing transgenerational problem in some communities which have failed to integrate into the general population. For the same amount of money the current social services grants program could be more than tripled.

There is also the issue of the very real anger that such an ­increase of new arrivals would create in the migrant community where many have been awaiting the arrival of relatives through regular channels for years and are justifiably concerned that their relations would once again lose their places in the migration queue.

There is also real anxiety about the ability to absorb any increase in refugees into the workforce when the current numbers of unemployed are expected to increase with the final phasing out of car manufacturing.

Traditional Labor Party voters will stand to lose the most under an expanded refugee resettlement program ­unless Shorten and Marles ­believe that the refugees will largely comprise doctors, ­engineers, plumbers and ­electricians.

The same Labor voters will also be stung the most by ­higher power prices should Labor get elected and institute the Shorten-Rudd energy ­policy.

Shorten’s grand vision for energy relies on nonsensical claims that renewable energy helps generate lower prices, creates jobs and investment and pays for itself.

If any of this was so, the world’s coal mines would all be closed and there would be no need for further debate.

The truth is all forms of ­renewable energy are more ­expensive than traditional coal power and the jobs and the ­investment aren’t sustainable without heavy subsidies.

Renewables only pay for themselves with a hefty dollop of taxpayers’ funding.

Shorten sees the sunshine that falls on Australia as a great natural advantage, and doubtless it is, but it is worth more as a tourist magnet than as a power generator.

Far greater natural advantages are the cheap and accessible coal and natural gas reserves Labor wants to lock up to the disadvantage of the nation and the power hungry millions in other nations, particularly the Third World countries which actually seem to enjoy as much sunlight as we do but don’t appear to hold it in the same high regard as the Greens and Shorten.

In May, 2007, Rudd laid out the blueprint for his energy policy and carbon tax, stressing the urgency of his idea by saying “an effective emissions trading scheme must recognise the need to act now ... as soon as possible to minimise the costs of inaction because economic modelling clearly shows that early action is far less ­costly than delayed action”.

The reality was that inaction would have been a lot less expensive and less lethal than Rudd’s energy and border protection policy proved to be then and will be again if Labor should win the next election.


A politicized public school

A poster mocking Obama would never even have been thought of

A POSTER erected on the streets of a small Victorian goldfields town has sparked a war of words about democracy, censorship and public art.  The poster was plastered on hoardings opposite the public library in Castlemaine, not far from Bendigo, in March. The artwork was commissioned by the local council.

It features a black and white photograph of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the words “Australia Needs an Abbott Proof Fence”.

It was put there by art students from Castlemaine Secondary College who had been studying the film Rabbit Proof Fence, the Bendigo Advertiser reports.  The students expected it to create some discussion, but never expected it to lead to calls for teachers to be dismissed.

“Education needs to be apolitical,” Mark Jackaman wrote on a petition labelling the artwork “disgusting” and demanding a formal apology.  “Shame on your teacher and your school!” Kat Molnar wrote.

“It’s a disgraceful act and any teacher that has allowed this should be dismissed immediately. This is the leader of our country,” David Hawkins wrote.

“Schools are not for POLITICS ... Teachers need to keep their own views to themselves. It’s no wonder that we have hordes of young people leave school still not knowing proper history and correct spelling. Shame,” Shirley Cameron wrote.

Joshua Thom used the phrase "leftist scum” to drive home his opposition.

But the school has been quick to defend its students and its reputation.  Principal Mary McPherson told she was shocked and surprised by the level of vocal opposition. She said the school encouraged students to think critically.

“We want our students to have opinions and be critical thinkers and to understand about the world. We want students to be prepared to make a difference. We don’t want them to come out compliant, but to challenge and question.”

Ms McPherson said the Abbott Proof Fence poster will not be coming down any time soon.

“In a democratic society, it’s important to question the (government’s) policies,” she said.  “It’s part of our school culture. It’s about having your opinions and listening to other opinions.”


29 July, 2015

Adam Goodes isn’t booed for the colour of his skin. He is booed for acting like a pillock

The controversy over part-Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes continues.  The crowds boo him a lot and the powers that be are trying to stop that.  It has just been handed down from on high that such booing is "racist".

What the wise-heads are ignoring is that Goodes is aggressive, confrontational and a whiner.  He has done a lot to make himself unpopular. He recently did some sort of Aboriginal war dance on the football field, complete with an imaginary spear thrown in the direction of the opposing fans --  Not exactly the "mature discussion about the state of race relations in this country" that his Leftist supporters have called for. 

The latest episode in the uproar is here. It seems that he just has to run onto the field now to get booed.  He has made himself an oppositional figure.

MIRANDA DEVINE (below) summed Goodes up pretty well a month ago.  I am not sure why she uses British slang but "pillock" translates roughly into American slang as "jerk".  Old-fashioned Australians might say "galah".

I’m sorry, but people are not booing Adam Goodes because he’s Aboriginal. They’re booing him because he acts like a pillock from time to time.  And if Sydney Swans CEO Andrew Ireland is genuinely interested in race relations then he shouldn’t cry “racist” with no evidence.

It’s obvious to any footy-lover that the fans boo Goodes because:

1. It’s become a thing;

2. He deliberately taunts opposition fans;

3. He is accused of staging for free kicks, in contravention of the rules of fair play

4. No one has forgotten how he singled out a 13 year old girl in the Collingwood crowd and sicced security onto her after she called him an “ape”;

5. He was rewarded for outing this powerless little girl with the honour of Australian of the Year which he then turned into a grievance pulpit to bag Australia as a racist nation.

Unlike most sports gurus in this town, I loved Goodes’ indigenous war dance last month as the Swans beat Carlton. For one thing, it’s about time we beat the Kiwis and their haka at their own game.

For another, he just did it so well. Bravo, I say. He stole the show.

But he also served it up to the opposition fans, deliberately riling them up. That’s what he does.

So when he gets booed, it’s just the crowd’s natural response to his invitation. It’s a tough game that Goodes started and only he can finish.

But for sports administrators and sanctimonious journalists to denounce the crowds as somehow anti-Aboriginal is the real racism. It’s that sort of patronising victim-pandering that holds Aboriginals down.

If Adam Goodes wants to be a pillock, good for him. He will be booed like any other pillock, no matter what the colour of their skin.


Vietnamese asylum seekers sent home after Australian Navy detention

A group of 46 Vietnamese asylum seekers who almost made it to Australia by boat have been flown home, arriving on Sunday afternoon, according to a Vietnamese community group in Australia.

"The locals told me they saw them taken one by one into the police station for questioning," Trung Doan, secretary of Voice Australia said.  "They had lost weight, they looked gaunt and very sad."

Mr Doan said he had been told the group, which included men, women and two babies, was interviewed on an Australian Navy ship and then taken to an on-land airstrip, flown to Ho Chi Minh City and transferred overland to Binh Thuan Province — the starting point for their journey by boat to Australia.

Forty-three of the asylum seekers were released by local police, but two men and one woman were driven in a police vehicle to a provincial detention centre, according to Mr Doan.

The asylum seeker boat was spotted off Dampier in Western Australia at first light on July 20.

Since then, the Prime Minister, the Immigration Minister and the Immigration Department have refused to provide information, saying they do not comment on operational matters.

Mr Doan said he was told when the asylum seekers were interviewed by Australian authorities at sea, they were assured that they should feel at ease, because what they said would not be given to Vietnamese authorities.  But according to relatives, the information was then passed on, he said.

"That is contrary to the promise that the Australian authorities gave to these people when the interview started," Mr Doan said.

The asylum seekers were mainly fishermen who had pooled their money to buy a boat and spent around three weeks at sea before being intercepted, according to Mr Doan.


FactCheck: is 50% of all income tax in Australia paid by 10% of the working population?

Ben Phillips, Principal Research Fellow, National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) at University of Canberra, finds that is pretty close

According to the 2015-16 Federal Budget, Australians paid around A$176 billion in personal income taxation in the 2014-15 financial year (Table 5 of Budget Paper 1). The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, claims that around 50% of this taxation is paid by the top 10% of the working age population as ranked by their income.

NATSEM’s STINMOD model of the Australian tax and transfer system can be used to evaluate the accuracy of such a claim.

STINMOD, which stands for Static Incomes Model, is NATSEM’s model of taxation and government benefits. It simulates the taxation and government benefits system and allows us to evaluate current and alternative policies and how they would affect different family types on various income levels.

STINMOD is based on ABS survey data (Survey of Income and Housing) which provides a statistically reliable and representative snapshot of household and personal incomes and demographics.

Since the survey is a few years old, NATSEM adjusts the population in accordance with population and economic changes since the survey.

STINMOD is not publicly available, but as a NATSEM researcher, I was able to use the model to check Hockey’s claim against the evidence. STINMOD is benchmarked to taxable incomes data from the latest Australian Tax Office taxation statistics on the distribution of tax payments by income.

When I restricted the STINMOD base population to the working age population only (aged 18 to 65) and rank these people by their taxable income, I found that the top 10% (those with taxable incomes beyond $102,000 per annum) do pay around 52% of all personal income taxation.

Different measures, similar result

Since high income earners usually have greater scope for minimising tax through deductions, such as negative gearing, we can use an alternative income measure called “total income from all sources” to rank personal incomes. On this ranking, the share of personal income taxation paid by the top 10% drops to 50.5%.

Australia’s personal income taxation system is strongly progressive, with higher income earners paying both a higher marginal tax rate and average tax rate compared to lower income earners. According to STINMOD, the 90th percentile of working age taxable income is $102,000 per year, while the median taxable income is $39,000 per year. The average tax rate of the 90th percentile is 26.7% while that of the median tax payer is less than half that at 12.3%.


Christian lobby groups claim ‘radical sexual experimentation’ is being promoted in schools

IT WAS devised to stop bullying and create wider acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students but Christian lobby groups claim all it does is promote “radical sexual experimentation”.

Since Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) was launched, more than 360 Australian schools have signed up to the program, which provides training and resources for teachers and staff to build a more inclusive and safe environment within their schools.

Some of those resources are available to students, such as the “OMG I’m Queer” information pack, which lobby groups claim is not only inappropriate but corrupts young minds.

Under the section “Doing It”, activist Alice Chesworth talks about sex and includes this description.

“It may come as a surprise, but there is no strict definition for virginity, especially if you’re queer,” she writes. “Penis-in-vagina sex is not the only sex, and certainly not the ultimate sex. If you ask me, virginity is whatever you think it is.”

In another section, Scott, 17, who is bisexual, writes about the first time he realised he was attracted to men and how his dad reacted when he was caught cuddling his friend in his room: “Scott, you like boys and girls, I like Asian women. Neither of us can help that, it’s just who we are.”

Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) spokeswoman Wendy Francis said while she agreed that bullying of children who were struggling with their sexual identity was wrong, she did not think teaching children about “queer sex” and “cross-dressing” was right.

“Our society is already over-sexualised without extreme sexual material and gender theory being promoted in schools,” she said. “Children have the right to their innocence. The political ideology carried by this program denies children this right.”

She claims schools that have signed up to this program teach students that it is OK to “change gender, for boys to wear girls’ school uniforms and that they should be allowed into girls’ toilets”.

“Girls’ toilets should always be a safe place for them and should be off limits to a boy who might be transitioning into a girl,” Ms Francis said. “No one should be bullied at school, including children grappling with same-sex attraction or gender confusion. But promoting radical sexual and gender theories to children without parental consent is not the role of the federal or state governments.”

ACL and Family Voice Australia have called for Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne to withdraw $8 million in funding that was allocated to SSCA to administer the program throughout Australia.

The groups claim that instead of stopping homophobia, the SSCA program teaches students that heterosexuality is not the norm, and encouraged them to explore sexual and gender diversity.

They also say the program material includes graphic descriptions and tips for gay and lesbian sex.

The recent push comes after former National Party senator Bill O’Chee penned an opinion piece for Fairfax Media this week claiming children were at risk from online predators as a result of the SSCA program.

In his column, he says young people are encouraged to sign up to Minus 18, a website for young LGBTI Australians.

The site provides information on support networks, activities and interests for the LGBTI youth. It also acts as a social networking and dating site, which Mr O’Chee claims exposes them to sexual predators.

He claims that, despite Minus 18 having a rule that users over the age of 25 are not permitted to use forums “without direct permission from Minus 18”, when he inspected the site he found a number of users who were older.

“Minus 18 does not enforce its own rules,” he wrote. “When this was put to Tim Christadoulou, the relationships manager at Minus 18, he stated that ‘rather than actively refuse registrations for certain age groups, we respond to individual profiles and users on a case-by-case basis’.

“Minus 18 management was unable to answer how many users were refused registration in the past 12 months. That is particularly disturbing given some of the profiles from men aged 30 and over who seem to have an interest in underage users.”

A SSCA spokeswoman said research shows that 75 per cent of LGBTI youth experienced homophobic or transphobic abuse and discrimination and that 80 per cent of that abuse will happen in school.

“Safe Schools Coalition Australia uses a whole-of-school approach to support schools across the country to challenge bullying and discrimination,” she said. “Our approach draws on research and evidence on how we can best promote a focus on safety and the protection of young people in schools while at the same time promoting inclusion and acceptance.

“Research shows that students at safe and supportive schools have better educational outcomes and are less likely to have poor mental health.”

Since the program was launched last year, the organisation has trained more than 7500 school staff members and next week it is set to host the National Safe Schools Symposium, which will discuss the outcome of the program so far.


Germany, France, UK may bid for frigate contract for Australia

A fierce international competition to build a $20 billion frigate fleet is expected after the Abbott government dumped a tainted "low risk" option ahead of the release of next month's defence white paper.

The plan, which was detailed by former Defence Minister David Johnston in May, last year would have utilised the hull of the troubled, 6500-tonne air warfare destroyer which is currently being built in Adelaide as the basis for the new fleet.

The destroyer hull would simply have been fitted with lower capacity radar, armaments and combat systems than those aboard the destroyer and a follow-on build would have preserved jobs.

Defence argued at the time that using the destroyer hull would be less risky given three destroyers are already being built for the Navy and build shortcomings should be overcome by the early 2020s when frigates are due for replacement.

However, the $8 billion destroyer project has been plagued by cost overruns and delays and the destroyer hull is considered too noisy for a submarine-hunting role.

The dumping of the option opens the way for a competition and a field of ready contenders with the project to build a fleet of up to nine frigates to be included in next month's white paper.

It is also understood there were concerns Australia could have been vulnerable to the build-up of regional submarine fleets without an effective frigate fleet.

"It was a sensible decision given the destroyer hull was not really suited to the submarine hunting role of a purpose-built frigate," Australian Strategic Policy analyst Dr Andrew Davies said.

"It was supposed to be a low-risk option but it was also more about preserving jobs than the Navy getting the warship it needs," he said.

Dr Davies has suggested splitting the fleet between destroyers and frigates and smaller corvettes to perform all the roles short of war  that Navy warships are now expected to perform.

The UK is the latest country to show interest in supplying the Royal Australian Navy with a purpose-built frigate even before the project details have been released.

The first of the 6400-tonne Type 26 frigates which is being developed for the Royal Navy is to be delivered from 2022 – a timeframe which suits the Royal Australian Navy with the current Anzac fleet expected to be phased out by the mid 2020s.

The BAE Systems warship has been designed with international export orders in mind.

German-based TKMS may offer its Meko 600 escort frigate or larger F125 for the project.

TKMS Australia chairman Dr John White told The Australian Financial Review the firm could offer several warship designs to the Royal Australian Navy.

Dr White said he also believed the ships could be built in Australian shipyards.

Dr White was involved with Tenix (now BAE) and the successful build of eight Anzac class frigates for the Australian Navy in the late 80's and early 90's.

"TKMS has a range of designs it is building for German and other foreign navies and could offer a warship which meets the requirements of the Royal Australian Navy," Dr White said.

"We showed with the Anzac project that you can successfully build ships in Australia and there is no reason why such a model could not be reprised," Dr White said.

French bidder DCNS may also put up its 6500-tonne FREMM European multi-role frigate.

DCNS Australia chief executive Sean Costello said earlier this week  that the firm was interested in bidding for the frigate project and was involved in designing building and maintaining all the French Navy's warships and exporting designs around the globe.


28 July, 2015

The high cost of Australia’s housing "obsession"

It's an "obsession" that people want a house to live in?

The stockbroker below is an economic moron.  Negative gearing is normal accounting.  It means that the cost of earning income is deducted before you are taxed on that income.  Any other system would be hugely destructive,  It would mean taxing people on money that they do not have.  There is no "subsidy" involved, just normal cost accounting.

And we read below: "“If someone borrows money to buy residential property, it doesn’t create any jobs,” he said."  How does he think residential property gets built?  By fairies?  The housing industry is in fact a major employer.

The guy is a vivid testimony to the sad state of modern education.  He might make a good hewer of wood and drawer of water but he is a disgrace to his present occupation.  A very low-wattage brain indeed

AUSTRALIA spends 20 times more money on subsidising negatively geared property than funding start-up businesses and this could cost us jobs and our economic future, one senior financial analyst says.

Ivor Ries, a Morgan’s stockbroking firm analyst, said one of the greatest weaknesses in the Australian economy was the lack of investment in infrastructure and early stage businesses.

“We are miles behind places like the US in financing young, growth businesses. We’re pathetic really compared with the US,” he told the ABC this week.

He said about $250 million was available in venture capital for young entrepreneurs each year. This was about 20 times less than what taxpayers spent subsidising investment properties, which do not create jobs.

“We currently give $4 billion a year to investors via the tax system to subsidise people buying negatively geared rental accommodation,” he told

Mr Ries said Australia was basically a country that subsidised nonproductive capital.  “If someone borrows money to buy residential property, it doesn’t create any jobs,” he said.

“We’re giving already well-off people subsidies to buy more property, whereas the country in total spends $250 million a year on venture capital. There’s something wrong with that balance.”

It also meant that Australia was basically “exporting jobs”.

“It just means there will be less jobs here in the longer term. We’re just exporting jobs at the moment,” he said.

The money spent on venture capital was even less than the $1 billion Australians spent buying luxury sports utility vehicles (SUVs) every year. A high proportion of these vehicles will be used as private cars but written off as a business asset, which the taxpayer pays for.

“The reality of life in Australia today is we subsidise people buying high-end SUVs but we don’t give as much to venture capital,” Mr Ries said.

Mr Ries said the tax system should be tilted back towards things that actually created wealth and jobs. He saw at least two businesses a week that had developed some fantastic technology but could not get funding.

“I’ll give them a list of 25 venture capital funds in Australia and I will say to them, ‘Don’t expect to get any money out of them because they are fully committed’ and I think any small business that’s got great new technology, or a great new business idea in Australia at the moment is probably getting that advice from multiple sources around the country,” he told the ABC.

“We just don’t have the capacity to fund these businesses at the moment.”

If Australians did start investing in venture capital at the same rate the US did, spending would jump from $250 million to $4.9 billion a year.

The risk of not doing this could condemn the country to low employment growth and a sticky unemployment rate, which is hovering about 6 per cent.

He said more tax concessions should be made available.  “I think the government needs to make it much more attractive to invest in these things which, by their nature, are much more risky,” he told  “Nine out of 10 of them will fail but the one that succeeds will often be hugely successful.”


Those who live in glass houses...

Bronny's helicopter had a lot of precedents -- as "New Matilda" points out below.  Why the hate for the Labor Party?  The Matildas hate everybody.  It's what they do.  They are so far Left that they hate the ALP nearly as much as the Liberals

Angry with Bronwyn Bishop over her diddling of her travel expenses? Fair enough. But save some of that outrage for the other side.

If you’re waiting for the Abbott Government to ‘do the right thing’ and remove parliamentary speaker Bronwyn Bishop for trying to fleece Australian taxpayers $5,000 for a chartered helicopter flight to a party fundraiser, don’t hold your breath.

In 2013, the Gillard government’s Attorney General Mark Dreyfus drew up legislation which ensured that government departments which provide services directly to the parliament are no longer subject to the Freedom of Information Act. That obviously includes the Department of the House of Representatives, which processes the travel claims of politicians.

In other words, if politicians diddle their ‘entitlements’, you - the taxpayer – are not entitled to access the documents that prove it.

The legislation was a response to a scoop from Fairfax Media in June 2013. After the Sunshine Coast Daily was refused an FOI application*, The Herald decided to test the FOI legislation, and found a loophole. It got its hands on the spending of former speaker Peter Slipper’s office.

Traditionally, parliamentary services had always been exempt from FOI, but a change in laws in 1999 left a hole. The Herald tried to tear it open, but had their FOI application rejected. They appealed to the Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan, who presides over all things FOI.

McMillan ruled in Fairfax’s favour, and hence we found out this juicy nugget: “Mr Slipper's new coat and tails cost taxpayers $1,248, while his total travel bill in his first six months as speaker was more than $18,000. He had also spent more than $8500 on catering.”

In hindsight, Slipper was quite the miser compared to his eventual successor – Bishop’s tally for 2014 was $389,139.25 in travel expenses alone, and just over $800,000 to run her office.

In any case, Labor - and the Coalition, despite their hatred of Slipper - were having none of it. Dreyfus hastily prepared a piece of legislation – one page in length - which closed the loophole.

You might remember Dreyfus from such parliamentary scandals as ‘I billed the Australian taxpayers $466 for two nights accommodation in Perisher for a family ski holiday’.

His bill was rushed through parliament with the support of the Coalition, despite the fact a review on the issue, commissioned by the previous Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, had yet to deliver its final report.

Notably, that report - and the parliamentary departments themselves - recommended against a blanket FOI exemption. They got one anyway.

At the time, Labor’s Anthony Albanese was quoted in the Herald article defending the indecent haste with which the legislation was pushed through. He described it as "an interim measure" before the review's completion. No prizes for guessing whether the exemptions remain in place today.

And of course, you may remember Albanese from such expenses scandals as ‘I charged taxpayers to get to a couple of NRL games’. ‘And then I charged taxpayers to go to the AFL grand final. And the Australian tennis Open.’

That was roughly around the time when it emerged that Tony Abbott had charged taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to attend a host of sporting events, along with more than $9,000 for travel he claimed while on a private book tour. Plus all the travel claims he made when he was ‘volunteering’ in remote Aboriginal communities.

It was also around the time when it emerged Abbott and others had charged taxpayers to attend private weddings, including those of ousted Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella and, believe it or not, Peter Slipper.

Also quoted in the Fairfax story was Bronwyn Bishop who defended the closing of the loophole by complaining that a parliamentary librarian had been placed in a "very difficult position" after the Information Commissioner’s ruling that the service was subject to FOI.

Now here’s the rub.

Unlike Slipper, who was prosecuted – unsuccessfully in the end – for trying to steal less than $1,000 in cab fares to tour wineries just outside of Canberra, Bishop does not have to stare down the Australian Federal Police.

Instead, her matter is being investigated by the Department of Finance, led by bureaucrat Jane Halton, who you might remember from such scandals as John Howard’s ‘Children Overboard’ affair’.

As for the Information Commissioner, who ruled that Fairfax’s FOI application on Slipper’s expenses was valid, you won’t remember him in a few years.

Professor McMillan’s position was abolished by the Abbott Government last year, in their very first budget.


Banning political donations will run foul of free speech protections in the constitution

Unfortunately the simple solution to the potentially corrupting influence of political donations - banning them altogether - is not as simple as it seems.

The inquiry into political donations laws in NSW headed by Kerry Schott found that only Tunisia has adopted a total ban and that virtually all Western democracies allowed fundraising from the private sector.

For a start, a total ban would likely drive donations underground and shunt political campaigning into third party identities, giving rise to the new problem of establishing whether the groups were independent or linked to political parties.

Second, most Western democracies regard financial support for political ideals as part of the democratic right.

A total ban would almost certainly fall foul of the implied right of freedom of political communication in the Australian constitution.

Even partial bans have run foul. Bob Hawke's attempt in 1992 to ban television advertising in an effort to curtail the burgeoning costs of campaigning, was knocked on the head by the High Court. So was former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell's attempt to ban donations from unions and corporate donors.

The latest freedom of speech challenge is coming from former Newcastle mayor and property developer Jeff McCloy, who is challenging NSW's ban on developer donations. The ICAC heard allegations that McCloy had paid $30,000 in secret donations to local Liberal MPs in breach of NSW laws which ban certain classes of people, including property developers from making political donations. The ICAC report and the High Court decision are still pending.

The thinking behind NSW's approach of banning certain classes of donors is that the profits of developers, the alcohol industry and the gaming industry are directly affected by state decisions and so the risk of corruption is much higher.


ALP conference 2015: Bill Shorten’s wins comes at a cost

Bill Shorten has strengthened his leadership by winning vital policy fights at Labor’s national conference, using the support of key unions to fight off vigorous challenges that would have damaged his authority.

The Opposition Leader got his way in debates to endorse boat turnbacks, allow a free vote on same-sex marriage and take a cautious approach to party reform­ in outcomes where the Labor Left splintered on crucial decisions.

But Labor’s internal tensions were laid bare in disputes over support for Mr Shorten on key questions, fuelling talk that Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese were positioning themselves as potential leaders.

The jostling for personal positio­n cast a cloud over Labor’s attempts to use the conference to assure voters that it could be trusted to form government at the next election and could manage­ border protection once in power.

The Opposition Leader’s victories also came with promises that will require generous budge­t spending, including programs to help workers who could lose their jobs under his risky new target for renewable energy.

A deal on tougher border protectio­n policies, including turning back boats where safe to do so, came with a pledge to spend $450 million over the next four years on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mr Shorten relied heavily on key unions on the Left of the ALP to prevail in the conference debates, including the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy­ Union. The CFMEU added its voice to support for Mr Shorten in Left faction meetings on boat turnbacks, reinforcing his authority.

While that debate was not linked directly to others, the union movement is expecting Mr Shorten and shadow ministers to campaign hard against a free-trade deal with China in order to extract changes that toughen the safeguards against easier visas for skilled migrant workers. Unions fighting the China trade deal include the CFMEU, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Maritime Union of Australia and the Electrical Trades Union.

The Opposition Leader declared­ last night that the conference proved to voters that Labor was serious about taking social and economic reform to the next election.

“In every chapter of our platform we have offered views and propositions for change for a brighter future,” Mr Shorten told the closing session. “We will leave here with the fundamental challenge of the next election establish­ed. We believe that hope can triumph over fear, that optim­ism defeats pessimism.”

Mr Shorten named health, education, jobs and renewable energy as key areas where Labor had update­d its policy platform with new propositions that would secure­ support among voters.

While small changes were made yesterday to democratise the party, union leaders helped to dilute the reforms to retain their power in the party’s peak councils, an outcome seen as a win for Mr Shorten and a defeat for the Left.

Mr Shorten also got his way on a softer line on the recognition of Palestine, despite attempts by the Left to dictate policies that would hamstring the leader. But his decision to embrace an emissions trading scheme triggered a dispute yesterday over whether the impost could be labelled­ a “tax” — a question that helped bring down the last Labor government.

The personal tensions now shape Labor’s preparations for the next election amid calculations over whether the Left has the numbers to seize the leadership one day.

A vote on same-sex marriage late yesterday turned into a test of authority for both Mr Shorten and Ms Plibersek. All sides conceded that the Left had a majority to enforce­ the deputy leader’s call for a binding vote for all MPs to support­ same-sex marriage despite­ their personal views.

But with some members of the Left at odds with the deputy leader’s position, including Mr Alban­ese and Victorian powerbroker Kim Carr, the faction agreed to a retreat that helped Mr Shorten.

The result was an amendment that approved conscience votes on gay marriage for the next two terms of parliament, by which time most expect the matter to be settle­d in federal parliament.

All parties sought to portray the compromise as a win for their side, highlighting the underlying contest for leadership status.

The conference infighting includ­ed attacks on Ms Plibersek for playing a “double­ game” in the debate over boat turnbacks in a way that could diminish her influence within the Left. While she did not oppose the turnback policy in shadow cabinet and argued for it in meetings of the Left, she gave her vote to a proxy who cast it against Mr Shorten’s position.

The Opposition Leader’s allies also took aim at Mr Albanese for openly voting against the tougher line on boat turnbacks, even though he did not challenge the policy when shadow cabinet agreed on the tougher line.

The Australian was told that only one frontbencher, Penny Wong, expressed reservations about supporting boat turnbacks when the stance was decided in shadow cabinet. Senator Wong’s vote at the party conference was also given to a proxy who cast it against Mr Shorten’s position.

Caucus members described the positioning within the Left as a quest to succeed Mr Shorten, with several arguing that Ms Plibersek had lost ground as a result of her handling of the passionate differences over asylum-seekers.

Mr Albanese gained acclaim within the Left for taking his stand against turnbacks, raising suggestions that he could one day capitalise on the growing power of the Left to take the leadership.


How Starbucks thrive on an Australian invention

STARBUCKS said its quarterly profit jumped 22 per cent as pricier drinks like flat whites and food helped lift sales at its U.S. cafes.

The Seattle-based coffee chain said sales rose 8 per cent in its flagship Americas unit. In the U.S., which makes up the majority of the unit, the company has been pushing up sales with price hikes and offerings like S’more frappuccinos and flat white espresso drinks that cost a little more.

Flat whites are an Australian invention that were introduced to American Starbucks menus at the beginning of the year

Starbucks chief financial officer Scott Maw said in a phone interview that people are even “trading up” to newer, pricier breakfast sandwiches, such as one served on a croissant bun. Maw noted that more people are getting food with their orders as well.

Customer visits are increasing too, boosted by the company’s mobile app. The app, which incorporates its loyalty program, encourages people to return by rewarding them with “stars,” which can be used toward free drinks and food.


27 July, 2015

Does Australia lock up too many blacks?

The wail below is written by a lawyer, not a social scientist -- and shows no knowledge of the people concerned at all.  All he knows is how to look up simple statistics.  When he finds that they look bad what does he do?  Does he ask why?  There's no sign of it.  He just seems to to assume that we are all somehow at fault.  That makes him a good Leftist but also what Australians call a drongo -- very stupid.

So as someone who has written quite a lot in the academic journals on race-relations, sociology and criminology, let me point out what is really going on.

Before the arrival of the white man, Aborigines were well adapted to a stone-age life.  They had been adapting to it for around 50,000 years so the adaptation was extreme. Their visuo-spatial abilities were (and are) simply wonderful.  Such adaptations helped them to capture and eat furry animals. But adaptations favourable to stone-age life are not at all suited to modern Western society.  People originally from the Eurasian continent evolved very differently.  The much larger population there produced innovation -- and that gave us the modern world.

So how are Aborigines disadvantaged in Australia today?  The mother and father of their handicaps is low IQ.  They are the race with the world's second lowest measured IQ (South African bushmen are the lowest). They survived by sharpening their perceptual abilities, not their reasoning abilities -- and basically are therefore very bad at dealing with anything new and complex.

I have known many of them and admire good qualities in them.  They are for instance very polite, unaggressive and tend to have a good sense of humour.  But some of their qualities are good yet also their undoing.  In particular, they have evolved as a sharing culture.  When some hunter succeeded in bringing down a big animal, it was shared around in the assurance that other such fortunate kills by others would also be shared around.  There was  no refrigeration so no other system made sense.  You COULD not keep your kill to yourself.

So, like other native peoples (e.g. the Maori) the concept of private property is just not there in them.  If you want something it seems simply right and just to take it, regardless of a property claim that someone else might have on it.  I have seen it happen.

An Aborigine in fact just CANNOT keep substantial assets to himself.  He must share any windfall, even if that windfall is in fact the proceeds of his own hard work.  So you can see how strongly our concept of theft clashes with Aboriginal instincts.

Then there is the alcohol problem.  We have had perhaps 60,000 years to learn how to handle our booze.  And even then we sometimes do a rather bad job of it.  But Aborigines never had alcohol until the white man came.  So their use of alcohol is often catastrophic and lies behind perhaps the majority of their arrests.

I could say much more but the sad truth is, I think, clear:  Aborigines are just not adapted to the world in which they now find themselves -- so are constantly breaking its rules.  All that we CAN do is to enforces the rules.  If we exempted Aborigines we would produce huge uproar and disruption.  As it is, some judges DO punish Aboriginal infractions more lightly -- but that DOES produce big criticism. Physical abuse of women and children -- sometimes extreme abuse of women and children -- is a big sub-set of Aboriginal crime.  Do we WANT to condone that?

With pitifully simplistic thinking, the drongo below says that better education is needed for Aborigines. Does he have any idea how hard and how unsuccessfully many governments have tried to get Aboriginal children into school?  And how is education going to change attributes built up over thousands of generations anyway?

Everything that could be tried to make Aboriginal behaviour  more adaptive has been tried and has failed -- from paternalism to giving them maximum autonomy.  You won't undo millennia of evolution just by wishing it. The only thing that has ever had much success is when the missionaries ran Aboriginal settlements.  Aborigines are a very spiritual people so religion does influence them. But bringing the missionaries back would be impossible.  So Aborigines will continue to violate our rules and will continue to be treated like other breakers of the rules -- often by imprisonment

They are locked up often because they often do wrong things.  There is no other reason

The US might be the home of mass incarceration – and it is, with 5 per cent of the world's people, it has a quarter of the world's inmates – but America has nothing on Australia in its enthusiasm for disproportionately locking up black people.

Indigenous Australians are imprisoned at a rate 13 times that of other Australians, according to figures collated by the Productivity Commission. That's not 13 per cent higher, or twice as high, but 13 times the rate, 1300 per cent of the rate for the rest of the population. At any one time, over 2 per cent of the Indigenous population is locked up, which doesn't remotely compare with the figure for the rest of us.

The effect of that proportion of people out of one group over time is almost unfathomable, the disruption to the prisoners' lives, their futures, their families.

It's not as if this is a new problem, but it's a rapidly deteriorating one. In 2000, the Indigenous imprisonment rate was merely 8 times as high. Those where the golden days.

So not only do we jail Indigenous people at a far higher rate than even the US imprisons black men, we're speeding things up, putting a greater proportion away. We're increasing this most self-defeating of gaps.

A particular point of Australian difference is our ability to do it harsher for children. For young people, who are meant to be locked up only as an absolute last resort, Indigenous children are jailed at a rate 24 times that of other children.

When Obama turns his attention to a justice system that seems anything but colour blind, the world listens. When Mick Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner, late last year proved Aboriginal incarceration to be every bit the catastrophe he labelled it, Australia scarcely rolled its eyes. Most didn't even notice.

His figures put the difference in rates at 15 times, and found the reoffending rate for children in detention – 58 per cent within 10 years – was higher than the proportion of children who stayed at school until year 12. "We do better at keeping Aboriginal people in prison than in school," Mr Gooda told the ABC.

If most of us continue to ignore this catastrophe, as the country seems determined to do, we will deepen this social disaster. Every year it gets worse, or merely stays the same, or only marginally improves, is another year squandering the potential of an enormous fraction of the Indigenous population and wasting hundreds of millions across the country on unnecessary incarceration.

The Productivity Commission called out four major factors contributing to this shameful reality – education, drugs, child neglect and employment. We need to fix all of them, but surely education is the low-hanging fruit.

Cutting education reforms, like the short-lived Gonski package, is one way to perpetuate the catastrophe. The absence of opportunity leads, for far too many, to the absence of anything but a life hurt by crime – as both victim and perpetrator.


Students in public schools twice as likely to be bullied as private school pupils

Parents are choosing private schooling for many reasons.

Sending your child to a public high school doubles their risk of being bullied, compared to private school students, and girls are more likely to be victims, one of Australia's most comprehensive surveys has revealed.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) survey commissioned by the Federal Department of Social Services interviewed more than 13,000 people each year from 2001 to 2012.

On Wednesday, the researchers from the University of Melbourne revealed growing disparity between the prospects of male and female students, those with university qualifications and those without, as well the reasons why up to 14 per cent of Australian parents continue to choose private education over public schools across the country.  

The report's authors found that 22 per cent of parents of high school students at public schools believed their children were bullied while at school, compared to 11 per cent at independent schools and 15 per cent at Catholic schools.

Girls were more often affected by bullying across the nation's public schools, according to the report's authors, bucking the trend for girls' generally higher educational outcomes.

"Parents and guardians on average report worse educational outcomes and prospects for boys, the notable exception being the experience of bullying [girls] in high school," wrote University of Melbourne professor Roger Wilkins.

Parents of children at independent schools reported higher satisfaction with education at primary and high school levels, with 68 per cent believing their child would go on to study at university compared to 49 per cent at public schools.

The CEO of Independent Schools Victoria, Michelle Green, said the survey didn't only address academic results.

"They appreciate independent schools' emphasis on pastoral care, personal development, teaching quality, and discipline and safety which helps lift results, it also helps reduce bullying and other behavioural issues," she said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said it had zero tolerance for bullying and had developed an Anti-Bullying Plan developed in consultation with the school community.

The report also revealed that while many high school students aspire to attend sandstone universities such as the University of Sydney or the University of Melbourne, graduates of those universities stand to earn up to 10 per cent less than the graduates of technical universities such as RMIT or UTS.


CFMEU official charged with blackmail

CONSTRUCTION union organiser and former NRL player John Lomax is the second person to face blackmail charges in connection with the Canberra hearings of the royal commission into union corruption.
ACT police said the 49-year-old was arrested on Friday morning "in relation to the Canberra hearings" of the royal commission.
The CFMEU organiser was charged with one count of blackmail and granted watch-house bail.

He had been expected to give evidence before the royal commission next week, but it's unclear whether that will go ahead.

Lomax is a former Canberra Raiders prop who also played short stints with North Queensland and Melbourne. He represented New Zealand in 15 Tests, including a Rugby League World Cup in the mid-1990s.

He is the third person to have been arrested by the police task force attached to the royal commission, and the second to be arrested in relation to the hearings in Canberra.

Former CFMEU organiser Halafihi "Fihi" Kivalu was arrested last week and has pleaded not guilty to two charges of blackmail.

The royal commission on Friday heard construction company director John Domitrovic was allegedly pressured into writing $30,000 worth of cheques addressed to Kivalu's wife. Mr Domitrovic said Kivalu visited his Queanbeyan work site in 2011 demanding $60,000 in cash but he instead offered him $30,000 in cheques.  He said Kivalu asked that the cheques be made out to his wife with the full amount to be paid by Christmas.  Copies of the cheques by All Kiwi Constructions made out to Halaevalu Maureen Kivalu were received into evidence.

The hearing was also presented with Mrs Kivalu's bank statements, which showed $30,000 worth of deposits, corresponding with the dates on the cheques.

Mr Domitrovic said he wasn't surprised by the demand, having heard of similar cases in the industry.  But he was surprised Kivalu accepted cheques, given they could be traced.  "(I was) somewhat surprised that Fihi agreed to take a cheque to his wife, that surprised me the most."

He said he paid the money to avoid getting on the wrong side of the union.  "It's a purely business decision for economic reasons," Mr Domitrovic said.  "They could have put a lot of pressure on me on the job."

The commission has heard allegations the union pressured businesses in Canberra to sign its EBA, threatening they wouldn't get work if they didn't and using safety checks as an excuse to disrupt their work sites.

The union's lawyer John Agius on Friday rejected the claims, saying safety on construction sites in the ACT was "appalling" and the CFMEU had been a driving force to improve it.

The hearing continues on Monday.


Police seeing Muslim extremism in kids ‘as young as 14’

POLICE have revealed that teenage extremists are becoming common, after allegations surfaced that a 17-year-old has been preaching extremists views at a Sydney high school.

Counter-terrorism police are investigating allegations that the boy has been preaching extremist Islam in the playground of Epping Boys High School, in Sydney’s northwest.

“We are conducting an investigation into an allegation that a young man is attempting to influence students in his school to adopt his extremist views,” NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch told The Australian.

It’s understood the investigation was prompted after police received information the boy of Afghan heritage was delivering religious sermons to other pupils.

Sources told The Australian that the boy is an “acolyte” of Milad bin Ahmad-Shah al-Ahmadzai, an alleged Sydney jihadist in jail awaiting trial on a string of charges, including the near-fatal shooting of a man outside a gay club and a ram-raid in shopping centre.

Police believe the student in question has twice tried to travel to Syria, but he was stopped at the airport each time.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Assistant Commissioner Murdoch said police were receiving more and more reports of teenage extremism, both in boys and girls.

“We are seeing this in children as young as 14 years old,” he said.

He said parents should be on the lookout for changes in their children’s behaviour.

“I think if parents know their children and they’ve invested enough in their upbringing, they know when they need to be concerned,” he said.

“The bottom line is if they become concerned about the changing behaviour of their young children and teenagers, they need to put their hand up and flag that there’s been a changed in behaviour.”

Assistant Commissioner Murdoch said police were taking the allegations very seriously and that officers were in constant communication with schools to ensure students and staff were safe.

Epping Boys High principal Tim O’Brien posted to the school’s website that student safety was “our absolute highest priority at all times”.

“I would like to reassure the whole Epping Boys High School community that the school continues to be in close liaison with the Department of Education and a range of law enforcement agencies to uphold our exemplary levels of student safety and student wellbeing.

“School counsellors are available for all boys, if required, today or in the future.

“All normal lessons and activities are proceeding today according to timetable.”

Meanwhile, NSW Premier Mike Baird has expressed his concern about “increasing radicalisation of young people”.

“The issue reported this morning is highly disturbing and I have asked for an urgent briefing from both the Department of Education and NSW Police,” he told The Australian.


Labor supports gay adoption rights

LABOR has promised to give gay, transgender and intersex parents the same rights as heterosexual couples to access IVF, adopt children and enter surrogacy arrangements.

FORMER federal senator Louise Pratt, whose partner is a transgender man, moved two successful motions to commit a federal Labor government to seeking national agreement on these matters.
The party will also seek to make sure gay, transgender and intersex couples get equal recognition in any inter-country adoption agreements Australia is part of.


26 July, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amazed that the Labor part conference has completely ignored the financial situation.

Facebook REFUSES to shut down 'racist' 'Humans of Sunnybank' group which mimics Asian accents and labels the Brisbane community 'dog meat eaters'

Ethnic self-segregation is a common thing and the Brisbane suburbs of Sunnybank and Sunnybank Hills seem to have been adopted by East Asians, mainly Han Chinese.  And the Asian presence really is amazing at times.  I remember standing in a queue outside a popular Japanese restaurant there with my son -- and noting that my son and I were the only exception in a sea of black hair around us. We were taller than most of them so we could see that sea.

I was actually pleased by that.  Asians are a lot more peaceful and patient than we Anglo-Australians are.  My son and I in fact were not patient.  We decided not to wait and went to another less popular restaurant instead.

And there is no doubt that the food in the area is great value.  My son and I often go to a Japanese fast-food joint there called "Mos burgers".

Because they tend to be exemplary citizens by any standard, there is in general very little hostility to Asians in Australia these days.  There are a lot of them and they fit in seamlessly. Just this morning on an outing I saw a Chinese lady rush up to an  old-Australian lady and give her a big hug.  They were obviously old friends. And I know of no physical attacks on Asians aside from what emanates from our small African sub-population.

The sort of negative comment about Asians that you get from old-Australians is mild criticism and the site objected to below is in that mould.  It is clearly jocular. With their history of persecution elsewhere, it is understandable that the site makes overseas Chinese nervous but all it is likely to lead to is laughs

Far-Leftists like The Matildas of course believe that all Australians (except them?) are deeply racist.  It's an article of faith for them.  But they are just projecting.  They see their own hate-filled personalities in everybody else. It's called, "Judging others by yourself" and is a well-worn fallacy. Every single article on "New Matilda" is full of rage so the hate is there in plain sight

An advocacy group have called on Facebook to take down a ‘xenophobic’ page that they believe perpetuates ‘incorrect stereotypes’ about the Asian community in a Brisbane suburb.

The group Global Asians for Action and Social Change (GAASC) have slammed the ‘Humans of Sunnybank’ page for posting ‘harmful and offensive’ images that ‘insult the English language abilities’ of Asian migrants and ‘falsely’ portray the community as dog meat eaters.

The page, which has amassed 16,000 followers, is loosely based on the popular blog Humans of New York and has published more than 60 images, accompanied by captions that 'crudely mimic' an Asian accent.

GAASC said this is a clear attempt to ‘create an atmosphere of xenophobia’.

‘Unlike the ground breaking Humans of New York which showed faces which build New York as a cosmopolitan destination and shares enriching human interest stories, Humans of Sunnybank instead insults and offends by using various incorrect and offensive stereotypes regarding Asian people, and posts it in a fashion that promotes continued racism,’ GAASC said in a statement.

According to GAASC, Sunnybank is home to almost 3,000 residents of Asian heritage, making up approximately 35 per cent of the region's population.

The page, which predominantly use stock images of Asian people, claims to use 'genuine first-hand interviews' to paint a picture of the culturally diverse suburb- 'one story at a time'. 

Others play on the stereotype that Asian people are bad drivers

One posts uses a stock image of seven Asian men squatting in a circle, a common practice in Vietnam.

The caption reads: ‘Wei, Brother Chow, I see you shaking.. You going to give up so easiry? Do the squat is wery important! We no skip the leg day in Sunnybank. Even the white boy can do better than you!’

Another used a stock image of an elderly man who appears to be driving a car.

The caption reads: ‘Before I come Australia, I no learn to use car. So I have 8 try for pass driving test. But my wife even worse, one day she do a 15-point turn to get out from garage. That’s why she only allow to drive Toyota Camry. She go to Market Square a lot, please be careful, don’t crash her.’

Erin Chew, a founder of GAASC, reported the page to Facebook administrators for ‘promoting hate speech’, however it was found the page did not violate Facebook’s community standards.

The posts are written in broken English which Erin Chew said encourages racist stereotyping

Ms Chew said Facebook needs to have a ‘deeper evaluation of its community standards’ if they want to become a ‘more responsible and conscientious global citizen.'

She said the social media giant should understand the difference between allowing free speech and allowing a group to use its platform to racially vilify another.

'I understand about freedom of speech and expression, and I believe in that, but at the same time there has to be a limit when it starts to offend a race or community,' Ms Chew told Daily Mail Australia. 'You can have artistic expression but this is just in poor taste.'

A spokesperson from Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commission told Daily Mail Australia that some of the material that features on the 'Humans of Sunnybank' Facebook group would be considered vilification under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

'The Act states that a person must not, by a public act, incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on the ground of the race, religion, sexuality or gender identity of the person or members of the group.'

She said anyone who believes they have been subjected to 'unlawful vilification' can lodge a formal complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.

'They would need to provide the identity of the person who they allege has vilified them, rather than just naming the Facebook page. This can sometimes be difficult.'

She said the only other alternative is to continue lobbying Facebook to have the page shut down.

GAASC have started a petition demanding Facebook to remove the page from its site.

Ms Chew said she plans to lodge a formal complaint with Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland and the Australian Human Rights Commission on Friday.

Daily Mail Australia contacted Facebook and the administrators of 'Humans of Sunnybank' however neither were available for comment at the time of publication.


ALP conference 2015: big on promises, short on financial reality

Labor under Bill Shorten seeks to win the next election by re-fighting the climate change issue with a renewable energy spearhead, pledging a fairer nation and using progressive identity politics — yet its fatal flaw is economic policy.

It is an extraordinary situation. Labor intends to recontest the battles of the Rudd-Gillard era, asylum-seeker boats being the likely exception.

Rather than reform itself because of the Rudd-Gillard experience, Labor has decided it was essentially right. It will ask the Australian public to think again and this time vote down Tony Abbott.

The ALP will prioritise climate change action via higher prices, operate in lock-step with the trade unions, flirt with quasi-protectionist economics, downplay market-based reforms and champion a litany of progressive causes: female equality, same-sex marriage, indigenous recognition and the republic.

At a time when Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens warns that Australian growth is falling to permanently lower levels — the implication being that stalled economic reform has diminished living standards — Labor offers phony words and hollow policy.

It is locked into the old politics and mistakes, playing to its loyalists and institutional interests.

Shorten is a weak leader trying to look strong. He is conspicuously devoid of policy strength. The lesson of Shorten’s leadership, illustrated by his speech yesterday, is the limits of leadership. Nearly everything he does is about adaptation to Labor power realities, ideological orthodoxies, trade unions and polling. He is driven to defy party sentiment on asylum-seeker boats for only one reason: the current policy is a veto on election victory.

These tactics overall should deliver Labor a formidable election campaign. It will be competitive. But Shorten’s latest ploy, the 50 per cent renewables electricity target by 2030, reveals all the problems.

This is plain irresponsible policy. It means Labor has no interest in the most cost-effective method of tackling emissions across the next 15 years.

It has no interest in trying to combat climate change consistent with a competitive growth economy. Labor can duck and weave but it cannot escape financial reality: the cost of renewables remains vastly more expensive than fossil fuels.

Anyone with half a political brain sees through this ploy. Because Shorten knows he must fight on climate change and because he knows pricing carbon risks another “carbon tax” scare, he wants to redefine the contest to “who loves renewables the most”.

Abbott’s ineptitude invites such easy exploitation.

The upshot is that Shorten has shifted much of Labor’s policy response on to the single most ineffective and high-cost mechanism.

He will punish Australian households and businesses with high costs in the interests of his own political convenience and vote-buying. It is the essence of trashing the public interest for party political gain.

At least when Abbott was being irresponsible he merely promised to abolish a tax.

In his speech yesterday, Shorten’s election vision was “more solar panels on Australian rooftops” and more farmers “putting wind turbines on their land”.

It sounds like a joke from a satire program. Sadly, it’s not. The party faithful, evidently, think this is terrific. It is the latest example of how far Labor has sunk.

Shorten pretends he’s being bold. In fact, he’s being weak. Expect that the carbon pricing commitment via an emissions trading scheme will be downgraded. Instead of Labor relying on carbon pricing with the renewable energy target becoming less necessary, Labor seems to be moving in the opposite direction. This is Shorten Labor: 100 per cent political expediency and defective policy.

He pretends this will create investor confidence. What nonsense. Investors will know that renewable energy policy is a volatile political war. The proof is the fact the Coalition and Labor cut a compromise a few weeks ago for a 23 per cent RET and Labor has turned that upside down.

In a re-run of history, the climate change lobby, vested interests and much of the political media will applaud Shorten — meanwhile, the Australian public, concerned about climate change but sceptical of costs, will be far harder to persuade than Labor believes. At this point, Labor has no details, no modelling, no analysis. Its self-obsession is revealing.

A fight over renewables is exactly the wrong fight Australia now needs for good policy. It is being staged solely for politics. The need is to reduce the overall carbon footprint by the most cost-efficient method (obviously including renewables) but both sides now have highly dubious policies.

If the Abbott government has the brain and skill to publish a credible study of the massive income transfer this policy involves from the Australian public to the renewable sector then it will ­destroy the policy.

Is Labor actually pledged to the 50 per cent target? Who knows? Shorten called it an “aim”. This implies it is qualified, but qualified ­according to what conditions? Is such a policy feasible? What are its economic consequences? What are the costs? What business and industry groups did Labor consult about such a long-run distortion of financial resources?

None of these questions is ­answered. It is folly for Shorten to conceal the holes in his 50 per cent pledge with phony “bring it on” bravado. Labor has had 20 months since the last election to prepare a structured policy and, to this point, it has failed to produce any such model.

As for Abbott, his mistake has been monumental: his scepticism towards renewables has been projected as prejudice rather than founded in rational policy.

Indeed, his inability to explain himself on renewables has been a free kick to Labor. But Shorten, in turn, has now tried to make too much of the political opportunity Abbott has given him.

Just as carbon policy was pivotal in ruining the economic standing of the Gillard government, so Shorten embraces the same risks. The combined signals Labor sends on economic policy are damaging and point to policy regression.

There was no mention in Shorten’s speech of the core reality — that Australia faces a growth slowdown, that living standards growth is being reduced, that the budget faces a challenge on both the tax and spending side, and that new measures are needed to ­improve productivity.

Is reality too unpalatable for the Labor Party? More to the point, is the platform agenda and party ethos singularly out of touch with the challenges that would face a new ALP government?

Shorten says higher taxes are a sign of Abbott’s failure. Pardon? Labor tax policies so far involve tightening superannuation concessions at the top end, a new tax on multinationals with the ALP premiers, as their preferred choice, backing a hefty increase in the personal income tax burden via the Medicare levy to fund future health costs.

It is true Shorten pledges to cut tax for small business but Labor’s overall thrust is unmistakable: its strong preference, facing a budget deficit and pressure on core ­services, is for the adjustment to be made via taxation rises.

Shorten says Labor believes in free trade and new markets. Pardon? The ALP conference endorsed yesterday a strong union-driven campaign against the Australia-China free trade agreement on the grounds that it will see Aussie jobs lost to the new Chinese workers coming into this country.

Michael O’Connor, from the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, said the FTA “smashes our labour market”.

Opposition trade spokeswoman Penny Wong is now pledged to improve the agreement, a high-risk ­exercise.

There is no sign the government will seek changes. Labor needs to be careful of these tactics, preserve its flexibility and avoid being trapped in a situation where it has condemned the agreement but cannot change it.

Shorten’s speech signalled his symbolic priorities. His first pledge was to indigenous recognition in the Constitution. His second ­declaration was to trade union ­fidelity. Shorten sang from the Julia Gillard songbook.

After a week that saw many iconic ALP figures call for fundamental reform of the Labor-union relationship, Shorten lauded the unions, mocked the royal commission into union governance and, by implication, repudiated the calls for internal reform.

In truth, Shorten’s position is becoming more dependent on the trade unions, a repeat of Gillard’s situation, and anyone who thinks this won’t have policy conse­quences is a fool.

Shorten depicted his policy on renewables as creating the “jobs of the future” and claimed that it meant “cutting power bills for ­consumers”.

This claim arises because the electricity generation market is currently oversupplied and more renewables will add to supply and reduce prices. That is true.

It avoids, however, the bigger reality that the higher cost of renewables compared with fossil fuels means a higher cost structure that consumers will have to meet.

Labor has switched priorities — it has moved from using price to decarbonise the economy to a massive prioritising of renewables without proper regard for costs involved and the consequences for households and business.

This runs against the real interests of workers, families and capital. It will extract, over time, a fearful toll on Labor.

Meanwhile, try not to be ­deafened by the guaranteed ­applause.


Another thug union doesn't want Chinese competition

ETU joining the CMFEU.  Similar union agitation birthed the White Australia policy in 1901. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

More than a thousand union and community members will protest against the China Australia Free Trade Agreement tomorrow morning at a rally outside the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, ahead of the opening of the ALP National Conference.

Electrical Trades Union national secretary Allen Hicks, who will speak at the rally alongside academics, and representatives of GetUp, the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, said opposing negative elements of this agreement did not make unions anti-trade.

“The China Australia Free Trade Agreement removes the mandatory skills testing that currently ensures overseas workers in high-risk trades are able to perform their tasks to Australian safety standards,” Mr Hicks said.

“It also removes the requirement for labour market testing, meaning employers will no longer need to advertise jobs in Australia before they advertise them in China.

“Many of these workers, who are entirely dependent on their employer for their residence in Australia, will be at risk of exploitation, with bosses demanding they cut corners on safety, work inhumane hours, or sign contracts that are illegal under Australian law.

“The Immigration Department’s own figures show that less than seven percent of the businesses that use the 457 visa scheme are monitored, but even among that small number a third have been found to be breaching their obligations.

“Perhaps most worryingly, the ChAFTA deal removes the ability of future Australian Governments to legislate in the interests of the public, providing foreign companies with the right to sue if new laws impact on their profits.”

Press release

Leftist fool

Australians have had a gutful of refugees so this will b e a big vote-loser

Labor leader Bill Shorten is reportedly expected to reach out to the left of his divided party today by promising to double Australia's refugee intake.

Mr Shorten recently pledged to adopt the Coalition policy on "turning back the boats" of asylum seekers.

The move has angered some factions within his party, and his olive branch at the ALP conference in Melbourne is reportedly an attempt to mend the rift.

The new pledge is likely to cost Australians $450 million, News Corp has reported.

The conference is also expected to debate same-sex marriage with some delegates seeking a binding vote on Labor MPs before a cross-party bill being presented to the parliament next month.

Lunchtime rallies are planned involving refugee advocates and same-sex marriage supporters.

Also on the sidelines, Australian of the Year Rosie Batty will lead a panel discussion on preventing family violence.


Muslim critic Kim Vuga on ABC TV

Vuga hosts a Facebook page called "Stop The Boat People" and in promos for the SBS show she declares "Australia is under attack. We already have the terrorists here. We are already living amongst the enemy."

Asked by panel co-host Natarsha Belling if she would say she was a racist, she said she was not. "I believe that we actually need to change the term and the definition." Vuga also said she believed in equality.

The Project ran big promotions for Vuga's appearance tantalising viewers with the possibility that she could be "the most racist woman in Australia".

In one teaser co-host and Fairfax writer Waleed Aly said: "Staunchly anti-refugee and anti-Muslim. I can't wait." Yet, Aly didn't ask Vuga anything, letting Meshel Laurie, Natarsha Belling and Lehmo handle the interview.

She was asked whether she believed Australia was "under attack from refugees", and she said "we are under attack by terrorists ... let in by Labor." She brought up Martin Place gunman Man Monis, saying that he "definitely didn't have any mental health problems. He had over 14,000 followers and a lot of them were in Australia." This led to a confusing exchange about Muslim-Australians and mental health problems with Laurie.

Talking about what she got out of Go Back From Where You Came From — 25 days with five other participants exploring the refugee experience — Vuga said it strengthened her existing convictions.

 Vuga said she felt guilty when she left Kurdish fighters in Syria behind. "I believe we need to have more boots on the ground over there."  And that's when Waleed Aly finally got his say: "Kim, thank you very much for joining us tonight."

Vuga lives in Townsville and describes herself as a freelance journalist.


24 July, 2015

Bill backtracks on illegals

But many in his Leftist party are livid over it

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has announced he supports a change to Labor’s asylum seeker policy to turn back boats.

Mr Shorten made the announcement on ABC television on Wednesday night, conceding that it was the only way to save lives.

‘Labor wants to defeat the people smugglers and we want to prevent drownings at sea,’ he told 7.30 host Leigh Sales.

‘Therefore one of the options which we believe has to be on the table, if we’re given the privilege of forming government, has to be the option to turn back boats.

Shorten said he decided on the policy change to stop giving people smugglers 'sustenance' who 'exploit vulnerable people'.  'I can't support any policies which do that,' he said.

'It's a big problem and we've got to be humane and we've got to make sure that the issue is not refugees, the issue is making sure people are safe.'

Mr Shorten also conceded that his party had made mistakes in the past about their asylum seekers policy. He admitted the Coalition's take on the issue appeared to be working.

'I think it's clear that the combination of regional resettlement, with offshore processing, and also the turn back policy, is defeating people smugglers,' he said.  'It's not easy, though, because it involves the admission, I think, that mistakes were made when Labor was last in government.'

A potential turn back policy will be debated at the ALP national conference later this week and Mr Shorten hopes his colleagues will back his new position.

The Opposition Leader made the announcement following the publication of Labor immigration spokesman Richard Marles' opinion piece in the Herald Sun, which said that the former Labor government's asylum seeker policy resulted in 'terrible loss of life'.  'I believe, provided it can be done safely, a future Labor government must have the option to undertake turn-backs,' Marles wrote.

But not everyone was impressed by Shorten's U-turn on the policy, with opposition expected from Labor's left faction.  Former Labor MP Steve Gibbons criticised the announcement on Twitter, suggesting that 'gutless' MPs in Sydney's west had let 'rednecks' inform the policy.

Labor supporters also aired their displeasure over social media, with some suggesting they would lose formerly staunch members of the party.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young also took to Twitter to criticise the move, writing that 90 per cent of those seeking asylum by boat are found to be 'legit refugees'.  'Turning them back doesn't stop them needing safety or save them from death,' Hanson-Young wrote.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was also unimpressed, but for different reasons.  'Labor giving themselves the "option" to turn back boats is what they promise at every election,' he wrote on Twitter.  'Labor is weak on border protection.'

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's announcement comes amid the Senate Inquiry into Nauru Detention Centre, with allegations revealed of self-harm and sexual assault.


Sydney business owner attacked on Facebook for offering job seekers some logical advice

A SYDNEY small business owner who was sick of prospective employees turning up to interviews in dodgy clothing and sometimes even eating took to Facebook to offer some well-meaning advice but was quickly shot down by disgruntled job seekers.

Gordon Carlsen is a successful business owner in Western Sydney who has built up three separate companies over more than a decade.

With a hobby shop, online store and call centre operations, Mr Carlsen is often on the hunt for new staff.  But after interviewing a number of applicants for a position on the weekend, he'd had enough.

"In the last couple of years we have done a lot of interviews and I've read a lot of resumes and it's become apparent that there are some people who genuinely want a job they just don't know how to approach it," Mr Carlsen said.

"Only on the weekend I interviewed for staff and there were a couple who came along that you could tell they really needed work and if they had actually presented better or put themselves forward better they probably would have had a better opportunity of getting work."

One particular man turned up desperate for a job but the way he presented himself made it almost impossible for Mr Carlsen to take him seriously.

"On the weekend I had a guy turn up who looked like he'd just mowed the lawn with a milkshake in his hand," he said.

"He told me he really needed this job to turn his life around and he did everything but beg but he just didn't present properly."

Thinking he would use his many years of experience to offer job seekers some important advice, he posted a note to a local community noticeboard on Facebook.

"Probably wasting my time here, but if i can help one person then i will take the risk that i am probably going to get some haters over this," he started off.

He went on to advise applicants to put some effort into their application and take some time selling themselves if they really want the job.

Don't just send a resume with no cover letter and avoid using templated forms that simply require you to cut and paste your name, he wrote.

And if you do make it to the next step, make it count.

"Show the interviewer that you give a dam and yes you WANT this job. DONT eat and drink at the interview, talking to someone that is sucking on a milkshake screams to me zero interest," Mr Carlsen advised.

While the advice was all fairly logical and would put job hunters in a good position heading into an interview, some people didn't see it that way and Mr Carlsen's intitial predictions of `haters' came true.

"I actually took it down because of the haters, unfortunately because it got to the point where it just turned into a manhunt at the end," he said.

"I got attacked where people were having a go at the employer about their rights and what the employers should be doing for them and it got quite nasty."

People who been unsuccessful in the past also took the opportunity to tell Mr Carlsen to `go f--- himself'.

But it's not just Mr Carlsen who is seeing this trend.  Jane Lowder, career coach and founder of MAX Coaching, said the issue of poor preparation and execution during the application process seemed to be an `odd phenomenon'.

A lack of career counselling in schools that help prepare students for the workforce and a way into it could be partly to blame, Ms Lowder said.

"There's not to my knowledge a specific career curriculum in schools to help people to develop their employability skills," she said.

"Well they're still around but they're the history teacher that has been given the job of providing career guidance so it's a bit-part of their role and they may or may not be trained in that field."

Stories such as those experienced by Mr Carlsen were all too common, according to Ms Lowder.

"You hear of people turning up in thongs to interviews, leaving their phone on, turing up somewhat dishevelled or inappropriately," she said.

Attention to detail and putting in the effort before you apply for a job are key to being successful.

"It really is having a strong grasp of your (potential) employer and what they're looking for and making sure you show up demonstrating that you have it," she said.

Attitude is also important and some jobseekers needed to change their view on applying for a job and ensuring they head into an interview knowing exactly what it expected and what is happening in the process, according to Ms Lowden.

"A lot of job seekers make the mistake of thinking it's all about them but in fact it's all about the employer and what they're looking for and you proving that you can bring that," she said.

A growing infatuation with smart phones and tablets could also play a part in this lack of preparation.

"I think an addiction to technology also has a lot to answer for. We are so atuned to being connected to our smart phones or our devices that they consume our attention and we're not very good at being in the moment," Ms Lowder said.


Head Of Alice Springs Paramilitary Group Gary Hall Says Aboriginal People 'Stuck In The 1700s'

Stuck in the Stone Age would be more like it

The man behind an Alice Springs vigilante group has hit international headlines, describing Aboriginal people as “stuck in the 1700s” and vowing to carry out “beatings and shootings” against people committing crimes in the Central Australian town.

Gary Hall first came to public prominence in April this year after he emerged as the public face of the Alice Springs Volunteer Force, a small paramilitary group asking for NT residents with firearm experience to start patrolling the streets of Alice.

In a new interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Hall denied being a racist but went on to accuse Aboriginal people in Alice of committing assaults, burglaries, and rapes.

“There are basically two communities where I live — the whites and the Aborigines who are stuck in the 1700s,” he told the paper.

“It is true that the media over here (in Australia) have tried to portray the AVF and myself as racist. But the fact is that race plays no part in who the organisation targets.

“The Aborigines carry out their own form of punishment beatings by spearing the kneecap of someone who has wronged them. I don’t see what the big fuss is about the AVF doing similar.”

Hall originates from Ireland, and has claimed partial involvement in the Ulster Volunteer Force, a paramilitary group responsible for hundreds of deaths during the Irish troubles.

The emergence the Alice Springs Volunteer Force coincided with an upsurge in reported incidents of [black] youth vandalism and rock throwing, and a corresponding upsurge in racist rhetoric in Alice, with white residents taking to social media to express their anger.

Alice Springs’ only Aboriginal councillor has linked the acts of youth anti-social behaviour to cuts to community services in the NT.

Police have monitored the activities of the AVF, while NT Chief Minister Adam Giles said the group’s activities were “not welcome in the Northern Territory”.



Three articles below

Millionaire British Tory brands Prime Minister Tony Abbott's climate change policies 'illogical'

A lot of rich people think they are obviously superior and therefore should control the "peasants" -- which is what the global warming scare is good for.  He makes no mention of any evidence for global warming, probably because he knows of none

A prominent British Tory MP has lashed out at Prime Minister Tony Abbott over his climate change policies, labelling them a misrepresentation of true conservative values.

Former British environment minister Richard Benyon wrote in an opinion piece for Sydney Morning Herald that Mr Abbott's decision to become the first world leader to abolish a carbon price is 'illogical.'

The conservative MP urged the prime minister to speak for common sense ahead of a global summit on climate change in Paris at the end of the year.

Declaring that Mr Abbott's policies go against the grain of true conservative values, Benyon writes: 'true conservative values include distaste for over-regulation and enthusiasm for entrepreneurialism.

'But they also include a respect for sound science and economics, a belief in protecting the natural world and a responsibility to do the best for the biggest possible number of one's citizens,' Benon writes.

The former British army member said the issue transcended a national scale, urging the prime minister to speak for common sense in the climate change debate.

'This is more about a global issue where many of us want to see sensible politicians on the centre-right recognising that climate change is a clear and present danger to our world,' he said.

The article is one of the most scathing critiques on the government's environmental policies from the a right wing politician to date.

Mr Abbott's government is due to reveal its post-2020 carbon reduction targets in August, ahead of a global summit on climate change in Paris at the end of the year.

Last year, Mr Abbott declared climate change was not the most important problem the world is facing, after UN climate change spokesman Dan Thomas labelled it the 'defining issue of our time'.

In November American president Barrack Obama piled pressure on the Abbott government to act on climate change, declaring that natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef were under direct threat from climate change.


Conservative politician To Host 'Carnival Of Coal' To Make 'Eco-Lunatics Lose Their Minds'

The New South Wales government's Whip in the Legislative Council really loves coal, and he’s hatching a plan to “make the left lose their collective mind in impotent rage”.

The Liberal MP Dr Peter Phelps will be hosting a ‘Carnival of Coal’ at New South Wales Parliament next month “to declare support for coal and associated industries and to send a loud and clear message that action is needed now to protect a secure, inexpensive energy future”.

“The event was inspired by a lunch with a couple of mates from my federal staffer days in Canberra,” said Phelps, who assured New Matilda he is “always happy to assist the fourth estate where [he] can”.

“The question came up: what could we do that would make the left lose their collective mind in impotent rage?

“Naturally, there is nothing the green/left hates more than coal, so I thought it would be a nice way of trolling the eco-lunatics and their fellow-travellers, especially those in the left-wing media who are always the first to hit the 'hysterical outrage' button whenever anyone challenges the efficacy of their pet pieties.”

The event appears to be a parody of an earlier invite, to another ‘party with a purpose’, from Greens MP John Kaye.

“I will be hosting a Solar Shindig at NSW Parliament House to declare support for solar and other renewable technologies and to send a loud and clear message that action is needed now to protect the clean energy future,” Kaye said in an email to parliamentarians.

Just a few hours later Phelps followed suit, managing an impressive turnaround speed to offer “I liked carbon before it was coal” stickers for parliamentarians who can’t make it.

Himself an avid distributor of stickers - only, with a slightly different message - Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham slammed the New South Wales Libs for their “complete disregard for all those who want to see our food bowl in the Liverpool Plains saved from coal mining”.

Buckingham, former Independent MP Tony Windsor, the New South Wales Farmers Association and a host of others have unleashed a blitzkrieg of criticism against the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce over the federal government’s approval of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine in the food bowl of north west New South Wales.

Having declared “the world has gone mad” because of an approval his government issued, Joyce is unlikely to attend. But state Liberal MP Scott MacDonald will be there – he *accidentally* sent an email ostensibly aimed at a staffer to all of Parliament within six minutes.

MacDonald will likely be rubbing shoulders with the big boys of big coal at Phelps’ ‘carnival’, which will be held at Parliaments’ Waratah Room on August 11.

Phelps tells New Matilda there’ll “probably [be] drinks, nibbles, unremitting mockery of green/left lunacy and their hatred of human achievement,” too.

“I also hope that there will be free samples of coal for MPs to be able to take away and place in their office for a display of solidarity,” he said.

“As for industry people, I hope they all come, but I don't have any confirmations from them yet - perhaps because I haven't asked any of them yet. Which I should get around to doing, now that I think of it. Thanks for the reminder.”

Phelps said coal needs mates “because it has been demonised by the extreme green movement, despite it being the safest, cheapest and most reliable source of power in Australia and around the world”.

The coal-loving Coalition member said he does not want to see the industry scaled back in New South Wales, which is a view shared by the Premier Mike Baird.

“I reject the quasi-religious mysticism of anthropogenic global warming, and the increasingly fascistic tendencies of its disciples,” Phelps said.

And yes, he does worry about “what lunatic Socialist governments will do in an attempt to appease the extreme green agenda”.

He said that the response to his event has been “pretty good, so far”.

“But the really interesting thing will be to see how many ALP people turn up, given their putative support for blue collar workers (remember what the 'M' in CFMEU stands for!), especially those that purport to represent miners in the Hunter Valley and Illawarra.”


Astonishing renewable energy target turnaround by the Australian Labor party

In politics nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems, as they say, but Tony Abbott will wonder if it ever gets any better than this.

Bill Shorten has just gifted the Coalition the most simple and effective mantra for the next election - vote Labor and you get higher electricity prices.

Given Labor's intention to return to a price on carbon this was always likely to be the case but it has now been amplified - put up in bright lights if you like - by Shorten himself.

By promising to more than double the share of renewable energy in the economy over the next decade and a half, Labor cannot escape the reality of higher electricity prices.

It is an extraordinary policy announcement - without any detail.

Having voted in parliament last month to lower the nation's guaranteed renewable energy share to about 23 per cent by 2020, Labor is now saying it will boost that share to 50 per cent by 2030.

Labor's spokesman Mark Butler seems to have no idea how the target will be achieved, what it will cost or whether it will increase the country's emissions reduction performance.

"When we get into government and look at putting the finer detail of this," he told SkyNews in an amazing interview, "obviously the cost of power for households and businesses is absolutely the top of the list as well as making sure that energy supply is secure."

In other words, elect us and then we will work out how this policy works and what it will cost you.

On the weekend I wrote that the difference between the government and opposition on climate change was an illusion: "Labor postures as alarmist and evangelical, while the Coalition postures as cautious and sceptical, yet they promise identical emission outcomes through different methods. It is beyond parody."

And I even suggested that despite the rhetoric Labor might not promise to do much more because the downside was obvious; "the higher Labor sets its sights the higher the costs it will have to impose."

Well now Labor has taken a massive risk - and in my view one it will soon regret.

It is promising to do much more on climate change, and it is promising to do it with your money.

Yet, of course, because of Australia's tiny share of global emissions (just over 1 per cent) it can't deliver any discernible environmental benefit. It is all for show.

Just how much extra it will cost is anyone's guess.   But remember these are government mandated targets - if renewable energy was cheaper it wouldn't have to be mandated, investment would flow there naturally.

If wind energy was really more cost-effective than coal and gas, Labor would not have been complaining just days ago about the government directing Clean Energy Finance Corporation investment away from wind projects.

If wind energy really drove down prices, Labor would not have agreed in parliament just weeks ago to not only reduce the 2020 renewable energy target but exempt industries where jobs were under threat.

The cost pressures and threatened job losses that Labor pragmatically tried to alleviate in that decision are now back on the table - with double the impact - thanks to today's announcement.  It is an astonishing policy turnaround.

The sudden change, the lack of detail and the timing all suggest this is about Bill Shorten desperately seeking to appeal to the Green Left of his party in order to head off the aspirations of his deputy and potential leadership rival Tanya Plibersek.

This is Labor turning its back on household costs, manufacturing jobs and economic prosperity in order to appeal to the inner city green left.

For all his problems over almost two years of government, Abbott must be thinking good things really do come in threes: Kevin Rudd destroyed his prime ministership when he dropped his commitment to an emissions trading scheme aimed at meeting what he called the greatest moral challenge or our time; Julia Gillard blew herself up when she broke her carbon tax promise; and now Shorten has put a carbon price and a massive (uncosted) renewable energy target on the table.

Whatever is happening to the climate, politics doesn't seem capable of changing.


23 July, 2015


A lot of commentators are predicting economic disaster for Australia as a result of reduced demand from China for Australia's iron ore and coal.  See e.g. here.  But Australia is a diverse modern economy that has long survived ups and downs in commodity income because of the way recurrent drought affects agricultural and pastoral earnings -- so it has a lot of irons in the fire and customarily survives such fluctuations without much overall distress.  Below are five good news stories about the Australian economy

Good economic indicators for Australia despite drought and the mining decline

But care needed with assumptions about growth

Australian policymakers may need to adjust their idea of the country's ideal growth rate to account for a slowdown in population growth and other demographic changes, according to Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens.

Mr Stevens told diners at the Anika Foundation lunch in Sydney that better-than-expected unemployment rates and signs that business confidence had picked up over the last 12 months suggested Australia might need to rethink its definition of trend growth, from the 3 to 3.25 per cent "we have assumed for many years".

Growth in gross domestic product comes from expansion in one or all of productivity, population and participation in the workforce.

Australia's aging population and slowing immigration or birth rate means two of these factors could be under pressure. According to some estimates, the number of people in Australia rose almost 400,000 in 2013 and 360,000 last year but only 160,000 so far this year.

Elaborating on one of the central themes of the minutes of the RBA's July board meeting, released on Tuesday, Mr Stevens said the bank had been surprised by the underlying stability of the unemployment rate which, at 6 per cent, is unchanged from a year ago.

He suggested the better-than-expected set of labour market outcomes could be the result of statistical discrepancies, slower population growth, wage restraint or more economic activity than suggested by official data.

"Some or all of [these] possibilities may be at work," he said.

"Time will tell which ones, but a few observations may be worthwhile at this point.

"First, the economy is making the adjustments required, even if it is a bit slower than we would ideally have liked.

"Second, if the slow growth of wages has in fact been a significant saver of jobs, that would appear to indicate a degree of labour market flexibility in operation.

"Third, to the extent that the data are hinting that our assumptions about trend growth may need to be revisited, that will be worth some discussion," the RBA governor said.

Mr Steven said it "need not be the case" that GDP growth per head would be any lower if the slowdown was the result mainly of more sluggish population growth.

However, he added:  "If there are assumptions about absolute growth rates embedded in business or fiscal strategies, or retirement income plans, they would need to be re-examined."

Mr Stevens said the bank's two cuts to the cash rate this year appeared to be working to stimulate activity in non-mining industries. However, he again warned of the limits of monetary policy and reiterated that while a further cut was still "on the table", the RBA was loath to move too quickly.

He said the 24-hour media cycle and abundance of high-frequency data, surveys and "obscure indicators" had placed policy-makers under increasing pressure to "respond to events and to deviations of economic performance from what had been anticipated".

"The risk . . . is that this process can lead to a mindset in which policymakers end up responding to quite short-term phenomena, using instruments that take quite some time to have their full effect, including effects that might actually turn out to be adverse," Mr Stevens said.

"This is relevant to our situation.

"A period of somewhat disappointing, even if hardly disastrous, economic growth outcomes, and inflation that has been well contained, has seen interest rates decline to very low levels.

"The question of whether they might be reduced further remains, as I have said before, on the table."


How Australia's drought is boosting beef exports

Australia's dry spell and a strengthening El Nino are proving a boon for US hamburger lovers.

Queensland's most widespread drought ever is sending a near record number of cattle to feedlots as ranchers cull cows at the fastest pace in more than three decades. That's boosting beef exports to an all-time high, including a more than 70 per cent surge in shipments to the US, government data show. Most of that is destined to become burgers.

The US last year overtook Japan as Australia's most important beef export market, while a prolonged drought through Texas saw a four-year slide in American beef output. Supply there will stay constrained even as the herd rebounds from a six-decade low, because it takes about 20 months before cattle are big enough for slaughter. That's seen companies including Chipotle Mexican Grill turn to our shores for beef.

"Feedlots have been pretty much full for the last 12 months," said Paul Deane, an analyst at ANZ Banking Group in Melbourne. "It's been profitable to have cattle on feed here in Australia and process them and sell into the US market."

About 70 per cent of Australian beef shipped to the US is so-called manufacturing beef, used to make hamburgers. Importers include McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, and Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest Burger King franchisee. Chipotle said last year it was sourcing some grass-fed beef from Australia to meet demand, citing the US herd dropping to a 60-year low.

Hamburger chain Carl's Jr. earlier this year started selling an all-natural burger in the US made with Australian beef. The meat is from free-range cattle that are grass fed and not given antibiotics, according to its chief executive, Andy Puzder.

Australia is the top supplier of beef and veal to the US, accounting for 37 per cent of imports last year, US Department of Agriculture data show. Purchases of Australian beef surged 65 per cent in the first five months of 2015 from a year earlier, the data show.


Tourism could be the new mining boom for Australia, says casino boss

Tourists can get experience of an English-speaking country without jetlag. Australia is in  roughly the same time zone as East Asia (Japan, China etc.)

Tourism could replace mining as the driver of the Australian economy as new attractions and a plunging dollar increase the country's appeal for Asian visitors.

After his company won the bid to develop part of Brisbane's waterfront into a huge casino and resort complex, Echo Entertainment boss Matt Bekier said on Tuesday that Australia could be seeing the beginning of a tourism boom.

"This is going to be the next mining boom," the Echo chief executive said. "If we look in Asia in terms of the aspiration of where people want to go to, Australia stands out as No 1 in terms of aspiration and desire to go to. But we're about number 14 of the places they actually go to, there's a huge opportunity."

China is Australia's fastest growing tourism market with 918,000 visitors in 2014 - a rise of 21.7% - and second only to New Zealand. Chinese visitors were, however, the biggest spenders in Australia, splurging $5.7bn in 2014, up 19% on the previous year.

The continuing fall in the Aussie dollar, which some experts believe could fall to around US60 cents, is likely to help Bekier's prediction by making tourists' money go further.

The US dollar strengthened again overnight on Monday after James Bullard, who sits on the US Federal Reserve's rate-setting committee, said a rate rise was likely in September.

Combined with the falling price of key commodities such as iron ore, gold and oil, his comments put more pressure on the Aussie which lost ground on Tuesday to sit at US73.51c in afternoon trading.

The minutes of the July meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia also kept the downward momentum on the currency when they were published on Tuesday.

The bank said the Aussie's drop against the US dollar to six-year lows was not boosting the economy as expected.

"Further depreciation seemed both likely and necessary," the RBA said. However, it noted noted signs of continued improvement in the jobs market, and said inflation remains well contained.

Bekier said Echo, which beat James Packer's Crown Resorts to the Brisbane prize, would be moving its headquarters and 300 staff to the city to oversee the new project.

The Queen's Wharf waterfront precinct includes five hotels, three residential towers, 50 bars and restaurants, a grand ballroom, a cinema and new footbridge to across the river to South Bank.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the project would attract millions of tourists annually.  "The flow-on effects will be felt for decades to come," she added.

Tourism Australia managing director, John O'Sullivan, said that Australia was entering an important economic cycle where its service sectors would play an increasingly important role in driving the country's future success and sustainability.

"With international tourism to Australia continuing to grow to record levels continued investment in new product, including integrated resorts, as well as existing tourism product is critical to ensure we are able to cater to the growing number of visitors," he said.

"Ensuring we have a diverse range of product and experiences to meet the rapid growth and needs of this market in particular will become all the more important," Mr O'Sullivan said.

Construction on the Brisbane project is set to begin in 2017.


A graphite bonanza for Australia?

Australian companies are searching high and low for new graphite deposits, and their hunt is seeing old mines reopen from Port Lincoln to northern Sweden.

Graphite is an important industrial material, used in batteries, laptops, lubricants, construction materials, medicine and, of course, pencils.

Its derivative, graphene, is just a single atom thick, 150 times stronger than steel and more conductive than silicon or copper.

Many of graphene's future applications have not yet made it out of the lab, but some, like its use as an additive to plastics and cement, are already being commercialised.

Graphene has received glowing media attention since its discovery in 2004, but as junior miners rush into the market and talk up their discoveries, some are beginning to question whether the hype matches the reality.

But it is not deterring those companies in the game, with a view to commercialising Australia's ample supplies of graphite.....

The only mine actually producing graphite for the market at the moment lay dormant for many years before Christopher Darby and his Valence Industries team saw its potential.

The Uley site, outside of Port Lincoln on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, has played an important role in the city's past, and is now supplying high-tech manufacturers both in Australian and abroad with graphite.

Valence recently brought a new customer on board, adding to its list of customers using the company's graphite in batteries, medical applications and a range of materials.

With no open market for graphite, success is dependent on these companies being able to mine the ore and sell as well.

"You really have to understand why a customer needs to use it in that application, and work with them to deliver it in a way that is most effective for them," Darby said.

Valence also 'value-adds' to its graphite in South Australia, raising the purity of the ore it mines to exact specifications before offering it customers.

"You have to prove and qualify your production from your own facility," Mr Darby said.

"That means not only do you have to go through exploration and construction of your plant, you have to deliver production from that plant to the customers, and qualify it before they will really commit to long-term sales.

"That creates a drain on cash, and you need to be able to fill that gap to get you through to filling the pipeline of production."


Big spike in underground water exactly where it is most needed

Outback Australia has always relied heavily on bore water

Experimental NASA satellites from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) continue to provide accurate measurements of Australian groundwater.

Data collected over time indicated water levels of the Great Artesian Basin were declining, but it is not the same story for Central Australia's Amadeus Basin.

Professor Alfredo Huate, from the University of Technology Sydney, said the groundwater measurements were a great outcome, but that it all happened by accident.

Mr Huate said people figured out that the weight of water and in particular groundwater was being sensed by the satellite.

He said the find was significant because getting information on water levels across an entire basin was previously very difficult.

"It's hard to get an idea of how the groundwater might be changing and quite tedious to do so because you would need a lot of bores," he said. "With a satellite you get continuous information."

Mr Huate's colleague, Professor Derek Eamus, wrote recently on the ABC's Drum website about the data from the GRACE satellite indicating that water levels in the Great Artesian Basin were declining.

But Mr Huate said the satellite data indicates the same cannot be said for Central Australia's Amadeus basin. "From 2002 until 2008 there was a statistically significant decline in the groundwater," he said.

"But in 2009 and until the end of 2011 the total water has almost doubled from what it was before the satellite went up in 2002.  "It's a tremendous spike in total water now available."

Mr Huate said that water from Central Australia's extreme wet events was not going to get used by plants or evaporate and would therefore replenish the groundwater table.

"It's definitely a good idea to make use of the data sets for [exploratory and developmental purposes]," he said.

NASA, said Mr Huate, are about to launch new satellites that will be more accurate and were specifically designed to measure groundwater.


22 July, 2015

Authorities escort asylum seeker boat off WA coast from Australia waters

Refugee advocates believe a suspected asylum seeker boat being escorted away from the WA coast by the Australian Navy was carrying women and children among a group of Vietnamese Catholics escaping persecution.

Refugee Rights Network spokeswoman and activist Victoria Martin-Iverson told Fairfax Media on Tuesday "at least 25 to 30 people" were on board the vessel.  "It's very, very, very sketchy," she said.

The asylum seekers who made to an oil rig about 150 kilometres from the Dampier coast in WA's Pilbara region on Monday were among a "second wave" of Vietnamese Catholics fleeing religious persecution, she said.

"There's been this rise in persecutions of [Catholic] believers and following there is this exodus of young Catholics from Vietnam which we are calling a second wave," Ms Martin-Iverson said.

No official information has been released regarding the suspected asylum seeker boat which was detected by crew members of the oil rig.

She said Australian members of the support network were communicating with Vietnam-based contacts of the refugees. "Those advocates who are closely connected with the Vietnam community think there's women and children [on board].

It's looking more and more likely they'll be pushed back [rather than taken into detention]."

Customs and border protection officers were understood to have accompanied WA Water Police who arrived at the asylum seeker boat about 3pm on Monday, Channel Seven reporter Grant Wynne told Radio 6PR on Tuesday morning.

The police boat returned to Dampier about midnight and an Australian Navy vessel is understood to be escorting the boat out of Australian waters.

WA Police and Department of Immigration and Border Protection told Fairfax Media it would not comment on operational matters.

WA refugee advocates told Fairfax Media they were concerned passengers on board the boat would be transferred to government lifeboats and turned back.

Ms Martin-Iverson said the passengers could be transported to Manus Island or Nauru but the network's key concern was the use of life rafts to send the asylum seekers away from Australian shores.

"We're very worried," she said. "We're trying to access [the passengers] to see if everyone is OK," she said.

The Abbott government introduced the bright orange life rafts in 2014 in a controversial move to stem the flow of asylum boats making it to Australian shores.

In Canberra on Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to answer questions about the suspected asylum seeker boat off the WA coast, insisting it was the "iron law" of his government not to discuss on-water operational matters.

"We do not discuss things in ways which would give comfort to the people smugglers," he said.


Government-dominated tax deductibility inquiry out to get green groups, says Bob Brown

Environmentalist Bob Brown has accused the Abbott government of a vendetta against green groups, describing threats to strip the groups of their charity status as "an assault on the rights and freedoms of Australians to defend their environment".

A Coalition-dominated House of Representatives inquiry into environment groups and their tax deductible status is under scrutiny after committee member, Nationals MP George Christensen, tweeted that it was time for marine conservation groups to get their donations in, adding: "I can't see it continuing longer once we report".

The committee chair, Liberal Alex Hawke, said Mr Christensen was expressing a personal view, and he later offered a qualified apology.

But Dr Brown said at a hearing in Hobart on Tuesday that, along with its inquiry into "green tape", the committee had examined no environmental issue since the last election.

"I'm aware that the committee is looking into the work of environment groups but not into the infractions on the environment by the corporate sector, and by people who are invading the environment," the former Australian Greens leader said.

"I'm left with the view that the committee's work is an outcome of the Liberal Party federal council motion last year to get environment groups, and to cut their tax deductibility."

Dr Brown said tax deductibility was available for registered environment groups as a service to taxpayers.

"We get the donation, they get the tax deductibility, not us," he said.

"I think that is an assault on the rights and freedoms of Australians to defend their environment, and to support environment groups which are upholding the tenets of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act."

Mr Christensen was absent from the hearing during Dr Brown's evidence.

Nationals MP Andrew Broad told Dr Brown the committee was not conducting a witch-hunt, but was examining the legitimacy of environment groups.

"The question we've been grappling with is: should an organisation receive tax deductibility, is it crossing the line doing something illegal?" Mr Broad said.

He cited a 2011 case near Canberra when CSIRO trial crops of genetically modified wheat were destroyed by Greenpeace activists.

Dr Brown said the courts had dealt with that case, "and so they should", but went on to defend Greenpeace's campaign against coal mine expansion in Queensland.


Builder lost jobs for defying union demand

A BUILDER has told a royal commission he lost job contracts in the ACT after refusing to pay "bribes" to the construction union he labelled as liars and thugs.

CLAW Constructions owner Troy Armstrong says he was warned by CFMEU organiser Tony Vitler in 2012 that he would not win jobs if he didn't sign an enterprise bargaining agreement with the union, or alternatively, make donations or sign-up members.

"I took this to mean they were leaning towards wanting a bribe," Mr Armstrong said in his witness statement to the royal commission into trade union corruption.

During a meeting at a McDonalds outlet in Fyshwick, Mr Armstrong said Mr Vitler told him the union could guarantee him work if he signed an EBA with them.

"We make sure IC and Pacific take the big jobs in town and we will make sure the little jobs go to you," Mr Vitler allegedly said.
When Mr Armstrong told Mr Vitler he could not afford to pay the labourer rates within the EBA, he replied: "I don't give a f*** about small businesses".

"He definitely threatened to kick me off sites if I did not sign an EBA," Mr Armstrong told a hearing of the commission in Canberra on Monday.

Numerous worksites were disrupted by the CFMEU over safety concerns soon after his refusal to sign the EBA.

"As a result of not signing EBA's ... I believe I have missed out on a number of jobs and have been subjected to an unfair level of scrutiny on sites as payback."

"I never want to sign an EBA with the CFMEU or anything else because they are liars, thugs and not worried about safety.  "They just use the safety as a method of blackmailing business and people to sign up with them."

Mr Armstrong denied accusations from the union's lawyer John Agius that he was "anti-union", rejecting calls to withdraw claims of bribery and blackmail.

"I suggest that (Mr Vitler) never said anything to you that would make you believe that he was inferring a bribe," Mr Agius said.

"I believe he did," Mr Armstrong replied. But he agreed that his competitors IC and Pacific were bigger and more established in the ACT than his company and therefore more likely to get bigger jobs.


In defence of `dumb Australians'

The Australian government is a world leader in nannying, nudging and nagging. The land supposedly home to understanding, sensible people, who know how to have a good time, currently finds itself the victim of increasingly trigger-happy rule-making.

Official attitudes toward the habits of the general populace verge on the disdainful. According to existing regulations, Australians cannot be trusted to drink shots after midnight in King's Cross, Sydney, cross the road without waiting for a green light, ride a bike without a helmet, or enjoy a beer on the footpath outside of a pub.

Nudge-happy policies are hitting Australians in the pocket, too. Cigarettes now cost in the vicinity of one Australian dollar each - as in per cigarette - and all, of course, are sold in plain packaging.

Recently, a kickback against the illiberal status quo has started to gather pace. Journalist Tyler Br–l‚ addressed a sold-out event in Sydney in May, drawing cheers from the audience as he denounced the booze bans and petty regulations blighting Australia's cities.

However, while it's great that many Australians are starting to realise the extent to which their lives are being shaped by pointless and illiberal rules, the mainstream debate is often uninspiring. Too often, the argument is made that, as one writer put it, `Australians are idiots who bring these rules upon themselves'. Apparently, the reckless, boozy excesses of your average Aussie are forcing the government to regulate all our lives for our own good.

But this argument places the blame for the current predicament Down Under in the wrong hands. The problem is not untrustworthy, dumb Australians. Call me naive, but I think Australians can be trusted not to inflict undue harm on themselves or others, and to manage any risks that they may choose to take.

The real blame lies with the safety advocates and health campaigners in public organisations, alleged `charities' and other government-funded bodies that are hell-bent on imposing their puritanical worldview on the rest of us. Rather than generate public support for their public-health cause, these people rely on often spurious evidence to cajole governments into adding more and more illiberal regulations.

It's time to challenge the idea that Australians need a rigid and illiberal set of rules to live by, lest the country descend into a pen of unenlightened swine. Australians can be trusted to look after themselves. What we need is restrictions on those who claim to know what's best for us.


21 July, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks the Bronwyn Bishop helicopter scandal is overkill

Reclaim Australia address by George Christensen

Text of 19 JULY speech for Reclaim Australia rally in Mackay

I am proud to be a voice for North Queensland today. We all have a voice: Notwithstanding our choice to use it or not.

Notwithstanding the best efforts of those who would render us silent. We have a voice – not a voice of hatred, violence, and extremism – but a voice of warning, defiance, and of hope. Our voice does not go unchallenged but that is the beauty and appeal of the free and open democratic society our voice speaks out to defend.

Long before he became President of the United States, Ronald Reagan was a voice for the American people. At a Republican convention in 1964, he said:

“There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender.”

Our voice says: “We will not surrender.” We will not sit idly by and watch the Australian culture and the Australian lifestyle that we love and that is envied around the world be surrendered and handed over to those who hate us for who we are and what we stand for.

When Ronald Reagan spoke those words, he warned against the threat of Soviet Russia and those words apply equally now to the threat of Islamic extremism and its complicit defenders. Reagan said: “Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement” and yet that is the political and social environment that confronts us today – appeasement.

When I accepted the invitation to be a voice here today, I was disappointed (but not entirely surprised) by a tidal wave of hyperventilation and confected outrage on social media, in the mainstream media, and from capital city commentators. Labor’s Shadow Minister for Immigration, Richard Marles said today’s rally was synonymous with racism.

Our State Labor Member for Mackay described my comments in accepting your invitation to speak as appalling, shameful, ignorant, and hateful. In doing so, she has reflected on you and your fellow like-minded citizens. A petition urged the Prime minister to prevent me from even attending today. The apologists of the left, the do-gooders, and the politically correct crowd said I should not address you because you were a crowd of: racists, bigots, Islamophobes, extremists, white supremicists, skinheads, and Nazis.

But I look out at the crowd and that’s not what I see. I see Mums and Dads who love their country – the Australian culture and the Australian lifestyle. I see everyday hard-working families who want their kids to enjoy the same freedoms that were enjoyed by the generations that came before them. Some of the freedoms Australians hold most dear are freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In this country, I am proud of the fact that someone who has a particular belief can hold that view without fear of intimidation. They can practice their faith – whether they are Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim – at a church, a temple, or a mosque – without fear of intimidation. And the full force of the law can, and should, come down on anyone who does try to intimidate them.

Likewise, we have a freedom to criticise. While it is not my cup of tea to criticise religions, I see that people criticise Christianity every day without fear of retribution, violence, or being called a Christophobe or a racist. In fact, we have seen many examples in the past year alone of Christians being slaughtered for no reason other than the fact that they are Christian. But in this country, that should not be tolerated.

In this country, we also enjoy the right to peaceful assembly. We all have the right to be here today, protesting in a peaceful way against the dangers of radical Islam and the culture of appeasement that allows radical extremism to fester. That culture of appeasement to radical Islam dictated that I should not speak here today for fear of giving you credibility – as if your voice would otherwise have no value.

The right to peaceful assembly, the right to freedom of speech, the right to freedom of religion, the right to feel proud of our nation. These are rights worthy of defending and they are rights about which we need to be eternally vigilant. Last month marked the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta – the charter agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede on the 15th of June 1215. The sentiments of that document underpin the free and democratic western societies that have delivered the most modern, free, and most appealing societies in the world. But we, as beneficiaries of that society must be ever-vigilant against threats – both internal and external to our freedom and democracy.

We must not ignore the fact that there is another world view. We can not stick our heads in the sand and pretend there is not an alternate world view that is opposed to democracy and freedom. And we must not confuse that ideology with religion. Islamism is a political system whereby everything that happens must fit under the laws of radical Islam. It is not just people in Iraq, Lebanon, or Syria that subscribe to this world view. This is no longer something that is ‘over there’; it’s not a threat that only exists on foreign shores; it’s a threat that is within our midst as well. There are those within our shores who sympathise and even support and actively recruit for Islamic State. These people have declared war on Western civilisations and we would be foolishly naïve to think we are not at war.

The spread of repressive ideologies under our very noses right here in our own country has already begun.  I refer to the slow spread of a Sharia-style dispensation of justice which is quietly executed in Australian mosques on a daily basis. It’s a form of ‘justice’ that perpetuates the oppression and abuse of women and yet we don’t dare speak of it because we will be instantly attacked as “racists”. It’s sad to see that those who wish to take a stand against the tyranny of Islamic extremism, the ideals of Islamism, are accused of being racist, bigoted or intolerant.

Yesterday, the leader of the Rent-A-Protestor crowd of Flinders University students, James Vigas was quoted by the ABC as saying people attending Reclaim Australia in Adelaide: “Don’t like Muslims, they don’t like refugees, they don’t like gay and lesbian people, they don’t like trade unionists, they don’t like women.” This comes from someone defending extremists who want to kill non-Muslims, throw gay people off tall buildings, and deny women the most basic of human rights. Reclaim Australia is about none of those things and, in fact, opposes exactly those things. Rather ironically, all the traits these so-called “anti-racism” protestors complain about lie at the very heart of the extremists they protect – the very traits Reclaim Australia is rallying against.

Certainly, as with any movement, there are fringe dwellers who seek to pervert the intentions of others, such as the Neo-Nazi skinheads that turned up in rallies in capital cities. Neo-Nazi skinheads are fellow travellers of the extreme Islamic movement because they share so many of the same hate-filled values. Nazi ideology, like Islamism (Political Islam), offers no right to freedom of speech, no right to association, hatred of the Jewish people and a hatred of democracy in general.

It is extremism of any kind that we must guard against. It is ordinary folk, like those of us here today, who must speak up. It is we who must not give in to the bullying and the intimidation and speak without fear to our friends and family about our freedoms, our culture, our lifestyle, and the threat radical extremism brings to those freedoms. We must refuse to abandon thousands of years of civilisation for the sake of political correctness.

I would like to conclude by returning to Ronald Reagan’s historic speech and applying it to the defence of Western Civilisation. He said: “We’ll preserve for our children this – the last best hope of man on earth – or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”

The choice is ours.  The voice is ours.  Thank you for allowing me to share in your voice today.

Via email

Establishment judges stick together

We saw it in the defenestration of Tim Carmody in Qld and now NSW judges are involved

Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Commissioner Megan Latham is refusing to answer questions regarding alleged corrupt conduct by herself and ICAC. Ms Latham and ICAC have covered up judicial bribery which includes a $2.2 million bribe by the Mafia as reported last week by Fairfax Media and the ABC’s Four Corners program.

Megan Latham, who is a former NSW Supreme Court and District Court Judge, has refused to investigate numerous allegations of judicial bribery in NSW.

Ms Latham and ICAC have also failed to have someone from interstate investigate the alleged judicial corruption. Protocol and precedent say that an interstate person should have been brought in for the investigation given Megan Latham is an ex judge and would know many of the judges that would be investigated. It must be noted that it is highly likely that at this stage Megan Latham would be a possible suspect as well.

The issues in this article are not complex. Megan Latham and ICAC have an obligation to investigate when public servants like judges take bribes. There have been mainstream articles saying that NSW judges took bribes totalling $2.2 million.

If the Mafia bribed NSW judges $2.2 million in one matter how much is the total amount that NSW judges are taking in bribes per year? $10 Million? $20 Million? $100 Million?

There is a powerful prima facie case to have Megan Latham charged with the criminal offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice and concealment of a serious indictable offence.

I wrote to ICAC and Megan Latham asking questions for this article and the reply as per below was that my working title was defamatory and they would not answer the questions. That is a stock standard type of reply for people who are caught out acting corruptly and have no answers to justify their actions.


Australia signs live cattle export agreement with China

A new front in relations with Beijing has been opened by Barnaby Joyce who has extended the live cattle trade to China in a new deal expected to deliver up to $2bn a year to the Australian economy.

The Agriculture Minister today signed the deal to open up the “massive new market” which aims to see Australia delivering a million head per annum to China within the next decade, effectively doubling the size of the current trade.

Mr Joyce said that exports could begin within weeks after appropriate safeguards were established.

Volumes of feeder and slaughter cattle would start small but increase over time.

“We’ve signed a live cattle deal with China today,” Mr Joyce told The Australian. “This is a massive new market.”

“We would not be able to supply what they want immediately. We will build up to those numbers over eight to ten years. Ultimately, they want around about a million head a year. We couldn’t supply that now.”

“If we get to where we hope this will arrive in maybe a decade, it will be worth more than $1bn a year to Australia … Between $1 and $2bn.”

Australia currently supplies about 1.2 million head of slaughter cattle per annum to a range of nations including Indonesia, Egypt, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.

The deal with Beijing is timely, coming after Jakarta shocked the Australian beef industry with an 80 per cent cut to its live export quota this quarter.

Mr Joyce said that over the past five years Australia has nurtured a significant trade in breeder cattle with China, mainly for dairy heifers.

“I’m pleased to announce we are a step closer to the commencement in trade in live slaughter and feeder cattle to China,” he said.

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council flagged the historic nature of the agreement, saying that Australia would become the first country to export feeder and slaughter cattle to China.

““Recent market access achievements have contributed significantly to improved farm gate returns for Australian producers while continuing to support over 10,000 jobs across Australia,” said chief executive Alison Penfold.

The deal with China is yet to be signed by Mr Joyce’s counterpart, Minister Zhi Shuping, but he confirmed that negotiations had been continuing for more than 18 months.

“We’ve been diligently working away for a year and a half,” Mr Joyce said. “Hopefully, it shows globally that the protein market is a premium market … Everybody is securing supplies and those people who supply to those markets are going to be in a good space.”

“Superfunds, start asking yourself a serious question: should you be looking at an investment in rural markets.”

The deal is separate to the free trade agreement negotiated with Beijing. However, it is assisted by provisions within the FTA that will reduce the current ten per cent tariff on live cattle exports from ten per cent down to zero.


ABC hides Green Left bias by reading out questions

The ABC seems to have found a novel way to guard against the Green Left bias shown by so many of its leading presenters. Instead of having them conduct their own interviews, Auntie can simply have them read out questions from audiences.

On Lateline last week Tony Jones was interviewing former Labor environment minister Greg Combet. "Let's go to a Facebook question," said Jones. "This is from Linda Mae Reeb and it's on this subject, she asks, `Can you estimate the investment required in the Australian renewable market to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in emissions?'?"

Combet nodded as Jones read it out. Why wouldn't he? What a pleasant break from the rigours of a forensic television interrogation.

We look forward to similar intermezzos when government ministers are grilled. "I know you're on the back foot now, Treasurer, and my questioning is getting just a little snide," Sarah Ferguson might say, "so let's go to a Facebook question on taxation reform".

Given revelations about high ABC salaries, perhaps this is also a way to save the public broadcaster some money. There are plenty of presentable and relatively cut-price juniors who could sit in the chair and read out the online questions.

No doubt government staffers are busy setting up fake Facebook accounts so they can post their curly queries. "Prime Minister, if we could just leave the Speaker's woes and budget difficulties there for a moment we have a Facebook question," Leigh Sales might say. "This one is from Jenny at Mt Druitt and she asks, `To what do you attribute your greatness?'?"

Next, no doubt, we'll have to commission an investigation into question selection. Perhaps a committee could be formed to devise an ABC code of conduct for social media question selection and presentation. A strong tip for rule No 1 would be to ignore Zaky Mallah's Facebook questions until further notice.

Speaking of that interminable Q&A controversy, there is another reason that infamous Mallah episode was memorable and MediaWatch Watch has been meaning to get back to it ever since. It relates to that regular frustration for regular viewers that we might refer to as Q&A interruptus. Not only do right-of-centre panellists tend to be outnumbered two to one but they often seem to have some difficulty getting any flow into their answers. A random sample might turn up Sophie Mirabella in July 2013. "Tony, the polls have changed," Mirabella said, "but a third of the frontbench, very experienced ministers, refuse to serve with Kevin Rudd and, you know ..."

But the host chips in. "OK," says Tony Jones, "I am going to interrupt you there ." Later in the same episode Mirabella went on. "Over the last 12 months, Tony Abbott has done twice as many interviews as Julia Gillard has done and he is out there every day. He's out ..."

Again, Jones jumps in. "Can you explain why we don't see him doing long format interviews? Why he won't do this program or Lateline or Insiders?" Good question, perhaps we could take it as a comment from the Prime Minister. Back in 2010 (believe it or not) Abbott was on the program and spoke about Labor's leadership coup. "Now, that would never happen in our party," said the Liberal leader. "Because you openly stab people in the back, OK," Jones snapped back. "We don't have," Abbott began before the host jumped in again. "All right, sorry, no, I'm just going to interrupt."

In November last year Attorney-General George Brandis was a solo panellist. "But this is a particular threat to your community because you're the victim of these predators," he said. "Well, George, I'm going to interrupt you there," said Jones. The Education Minister joined the panel in March. "Christopher, I'm not meaning to interrupt here but I'm actually," said the host. Christopher Pyne protested. "I was asked a question," he complained, "so I was just answering it."

You get the picture. It's all part of the cut and thrust and all the more reason, in my view, for Coalition MPs to get back on the program and robustly argue their case. Politicians boycotting television are like fishermen refusing to go to sea.

Still, just in case they might like to know how it is done, there is an alternative method to Q&A interruptus. "I'll start with Antony Hegarty on this because you've made a kind of, I guess, best to say a spiritual connection with the Martu people," Jones said to his panellist during last month's Mallah episode, "and you are here in Sydney with them at the moment. So maybe you could start us out on this subject."

Hegarty wasn't so keen. "Well, I don't want, I think it would be great if they answered the question first," responded the Green Left activist, transgender singer. "Let these guys answer their question," she instructed, motioning to the politicians. "All right," said Jones. "Well, we can start on the question of why, we'll go to Steve Ciobo first, if you like, and then you can respond afterwards." There you go, just take charge. And Hegarty directed proceedings a second time. "Antony?" Jones asked, looking for a response on the indigenous issues. "Yeah, maybe we could ask them about their experience, you know," deflected Hegarty. "Sure, well, I'm happy to," said Jones. Easy done. No Facebook required.


20 July, 2015

Reclaim Australia rallies in Sydney, Queensland, Perth and Hobart

ARRESTS have been made at one of the Reclaim Australia rallies today, as police separated protesters and Pauline Hanson told a crowd she was against the spread of Islam.

As protesters take part in Reclaim Australia protests today, Ms Hanson told protesters in Rockhampton: “I am against the spread of Islam”.

As members of the crowd cheered for her, she told them how she did not like the way Australia was changing.

“We have other different religions that have never been a problem in Australia,” she said. “I see divisions happening in our country and it’s purely based on Islam.  “I’m not targeting Muslims - I’m targeting the ideology, what Islam stands for - and it is very different to our culture and Christianity. “This is a peaceful rally and the rest of Australia will see this.”

Earlier today, she told the Today Show today that the rallies were not “about violence”. Instead, they were about people having the right to actually come and have their say.

“(Reclaim) is people like myself saying to our politicians I’m sick and tired of where you have us headed,” she also said on her official Facebook page.

“It is about being an Australian, being proud of who you are and to maintain our culture, way of life and laws.”

So far, five people have been arrested at a rally by the anti-Islam Reclaim Australia group in Sydney.

As Ms Hanson prepares to run for a seat in the Senate next year, she said her “Fed Up” tour was about touring the country to hear Australians’ concerns.

Whether they are fed up with foreign investment, high taxes, losing our farming sector, Ms Hanson said she planned to go to “remote areas where people feel forgot”.

When asked why she still felt she had support, she told the Today Show: “Because I’ve never given up and the party won’t.  Australians haven’t given up on me. I get so much support Deb that I’m walking around because people say to me, Pauline, you are only saying what we’re thinking but you’ve got the guts to get up and say it.”

Ms Hanson’s comments come as rallies took place across the nation in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania.


Reclaim Australia began its demonstration further up Martin Place at 10am.

Police formed a line in front of the anti-racism protesters and several units of mounted officers are around Martin Place. Banners reading “stand with multiculturalism against racism” and “no racism, no Islamophbia” were held high in the cool morning air.

Three people in ancient Greek-like military costumes, including helmets and shields, and four men with Australia flags draped on their shoulders are among about 50 people apparently gathered for the Reclaim Australia protest.

Police had warned those attending the Sydney protests that anti-social or dangerous behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated.

Officers were closely watching both groups and several units of mounted police are also patrolling the area.

Banners reading “stand with multiculturalism against racism” and “no racism, no Islamophobia” were held high by the louder, larger group of anti-racism protesters.

Several people with the Australian flag had gathered at the other end of Martin Place, with police trying to keep a two-block gap between the groups.

NSW Ambulance Paramedics treated two people during the operation, including a 35-year-old man who sustained minor head injuries. He was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital, where he remains in a stable condition. A second man, aged 48, was treated for a minor facial laceration.


After violent scenes in Melbourne on Saturday, Reclaim Australia and Stand Against Racism demonstrations in Brisbane were calm.

A strong police presence separated the two groups in Emma Miller Place at the old Roma Street Forum.

Anti-racism protesters chanted loudly to try and drown out the speakers at the Reclaim Australia speakers.

Reclaim Australia protesters claimed they were not discriminatory towards muslim people but the ideals they believed Islam represented.

One woman, Carley Westin, created an “Australian flag burqa” as a way of protesting burqas being worn in Australia.  Ms Westin said the burqa was a way to abuse and oppress women.  She also said Islam promoted child brides, animal cruelty and terrorism.

When the Reclaim Australia protesters had packed up, the anti-racism demonstrators marched down the street and into the cbd.

Queensland Reclaim Australia rallies also took place on the Gold Coast, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.

Queensland political figure George Christensen also attended an anti-Islam rally today.

Mr Christensen, who represents the seat of Dawson, agreed to address a Reclaim Australia rally in Mackay.

He said on his Facebook page he wanted to “support people who seek to defend our Australian way of life, our culture and our freedoms from the threat of radical Islam”.

He said “hell (would) freeze over” before he would give in to those trying to stop him from attending the rally.

Liberal National Party Queensland senator Matthew Canavan said Mr Christensen should be judged by what he says, not who he stands alongside.  “George is perfectly free, big enough, ugly enough to look after himself,” Mr Canavan told ABC Radio.


Drug war failure: Greens want Portuguese model in Australia

This has long been libertarian thinking

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale is calling for bipartisan support to overhaul Australia's drug policy so it is in line with Portugal's, where drug use is treated as a health, not criminal, issue.

The Victorian senator is on a self-funded, fact-finding mission, meeting   policymakers and program developers in the European country.

Since 2001, drug users in Portugal are no longer put through the criminal justice system. The funds saved from enforcement have been used to increase access to drug treatment and prevention, including rehabilitation services, in the country. 

"Individuals [in Australia] who get into trouble with their drug use wouldn't be subject to criminal penalties," Dr  Di Natale said.  "Instead they would front a health panel which gets them into treatment and helps them with other things like housing and employment support."

 Dr Di Natale said there had been no increase in drug use in Portugal since the reforms were introduced.  "Instead what we've seen is a huge decline in all the things associated with harmful drug use," he said.  "We've also seen more people in treatment, fewer drug overdoses, fewer cases of HIV and a decrease in crime."

Dr Di Natale made it clear Portugal had not legalised drugs, with law enforcement still targeting drug dealers.

The Greens leader is co-convenor of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform, a cross party group of about 100 state and commonwealth MPs.

Liberal member for Murray Sharman Stone, another co-convenor of the group, said Australia's current drug policy was not working.  "We need to look very carefully at what other countries are doing, where they have focused on taking what we'd call illicit substances, where they look at them as a health problem," Ms Stone said.  "We'd put the criminals out of business in relation to those drugs."

Ms Stone said Australia did not have any real capacity to rehabilitate people from drug addiction. 

"How many more babies have to be born brain-damaged, how many more women have to be killed by their intimate partners, we have two a week being killed right now, we had that horrific case of that mother in Brisbane where a number of those children were killed," she said. "Just how long do we wait? When is the magic number?"

Ms Stone said she did not know what other members of her party would feel about the approach. "I'm sure there would be a whole range of views, but I know we are united… with a deep concern about the impact of both alcohol and drugs," Ms Stone said.

Labor's co-convenor of the parliamentary group, member for Fremantle Melissa Parke, was overseas and unable to comment on Sunday.  Her spokesman, Josh Wilson, said Ms Parke supported a bipartisan approach to treating drug use as a health issue, rather than a crime.

"The Prime Minister is right in saying that the war on drugs is unwinnable so we need to bring together the best minds in the country to explore alternative models," she said in an earlier press release.

Victoria Alcohol and Drug Association chief executive Sam Biondo said Australia needed to build on its progressive stance towards drugs.  "There has been developments internationally that we can also learn from and consider," he said.  "There is a growing awareness of the failure of the war on drugs."

Mr Biondo said policies where funds were directed into the community and out of "failed" prison systems had been shown to be effective.  "We continue to pursue inappropriate policies that aren't cost effective and are creating a greater impost on the overall community and a negative impact for individuals and their families," he said.


Labor should Ditch emissions trading scheme: Hunt

FEDERAL Environment Minister Greg Hunt has some advice for Labor on its proposed emissions trading scheme, which he believes will always be a carbon tax:  "COMPLETELY ditch the policy."

Mr Hunt says it doesn't matter how Labor dresses it up, an ETS is a carbon tax and its intention is to drive up the cost of living for Australians. That rule even applies to the ETS proposed by John Howard in 2007, he said.

Mr Hunt, who once co-authored a thesis called 'A Tax to Make the Polluter Pay', says the only difference between a carbon tax and an ETS is a fixed or floating price. "Either way, it's taxing and driving up the price of electricity," he said.

Labor remains committed to introducing an ETS, with the details to be released prior to the next election. The party insists the policy is not a carbon tax.

The government's direct action plan, and its $2.55 billion emissions reduction fund, pays volunteer polluters not to pollute.


NSW State government ignores 'unschooling' warning

The Premier Mike Baird has ruled out investigating a radical method of home schooling gaining popularity in NSW despite the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry that warned it could be a form of "educational neglect".

The home schooling teaching method, called unschooling, is seen as a natural learning approach, in which children decide what they learn and when and parents give them freedom to pursue their interests.

But a NSW upper house inquiry was highly critical of the method, doubting it could "achieve quality educational outcomes for the child".

A report from the state's parliamentary inquiry into home schooling, prompted by revelations that there could be as many as 10,000 children in NSW being taught at home even though only 3200 are formally registered, urged the NSW Board of Studies to commission research into unschooling.

"The committee is concerned that taken to its extreme, children who are unschooled may not achieve even basic levels of literacy and numeracy. The application of unschooling may constitute educational neglect," the inquiry's report said.

But the government's response to the report, tabled last week in state parliament and signed off by Mr Baird, said it did not support the inquiry's recommendation for independent research into unschooling. The Home Education Association would be better placed to investigate the method, the government said.

The Home Education Association told the inquiry that a survey of home schooling parents showed they used a variety of approaches to educate their children, with about 15 per cent unschooling, 31 per cent using natural learning methods and 27 per cent were "eclectic home schoolers" using a mix of teaching styles.

In its response, the state government agreed to explore allowing home-schooled children to attend public schools part-time but would also not agree to further research into the outcomes of home schooling, arguing only 10 per cent of registered home schoolers choose to participate in NAPLAN.

?"The results of this self-selected group could not be generalised across the population of home schooled children, making further research into the outcomes of home schooling difficult," the response said.

The deputy chairman of the committee, Greens MP John Kaye, said "subjecting children to unschooling raises serious educational and welfare issues" yet Mr Baird did not want any further independent research into its consequences.

"It appears that just asking the questions is too perilous for the Premier and the extreme end of the home-schooling constituency he seems to be protecting," Dr Kaye said.

Dr Kaye said the committee felt there was a lack of objective research on home schooling in Australia and wanted the NSW government to fill that void.

"It is highly unusual for the Premier to sign a government response to an inquiry. This time it looks like he is meddling in a policy area that is increasingly of interest to his conservative Christian power base," Dr Kaye said.

A spokesman for the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, who is responsible for home schooling, said the Premier signed off on the government's response because it was a "whole of government response".


19 July, 2015


Three current articles below

Australia tops the world for climate change skepticism

Nearly one in five Australians do not believe in climate change, making the country the worst in the world for climate sceptics, a study of almost 20,000 people has found.

The research by the University of Tasmania found 17 per cent of Australians thought climate change was not real, compared with 15 per cent of people in Norway, 13 per cent of New Zealanders and 12 per cent of Americans.

The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, was based on data collected as part of the International Social Survey Programme in 2010 and 2011.

Researchers focused on 14 industrialised countries, including Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United States. In total, 19,991 people were surveyed.

It found the reasons for being a climate sceptic varied according to the political context of each country.

However, people across the board were more likely to be sceptics in countries that had high carbon emissions, and also more likely to be sceptics if their countries were vulnerable because of climate change.

In nine of the 14 countries, men were more likely than women to be sceptical about the danger of climate change.

Being politically conservative, male, and having a low level of concern for the environment were some indicators shared internationally that predicted whether people were more likely to be climate sceptics.

But the study also challenged some notions of climate scepticism, finding a modest number of people who reject climate science around the world were well-informed.

"Despite the findings of climate scientists, the proportions of climate sceptics appear to be increasing in many countries," the study said.

The reasons for this were varied and complex and warranted further investigation.

"Fruitful explanations of scepticism must ... account for the way in which partisans are influenced by their political leaders.

"Integrating such accounts may provide a way to both understand and address the social problem of climate scepticism."

The study surveyed 1946 respondents from Australia and was designed to be nationally representative.

In Australia, where views on climate change were described as "entrenched", or socially embedded, those who identified with left-leaning political parties were more likely than supporters of right-leaning parties to believe climate change is dangerous for the environment.

Highly educated people and those who lived in a large city were also less likely to be climate sceptics.


The journal abstract:

Despite the findings of climate scientists, the proportions of climate sceptics appear to be increasing in many countries. We model social and political background, value orientations and the influence of CO2 emissions per capita and vulnerability to climate change upon climate scepticism, drawing upon data from the International Social Survey Programme. Substantial differences in the levels of climate scepticism are apparent between nations.

Yet cross national data show that climate sceptics are not merely the mirror image of environmentalists. Typical predictors of environmental issue concern, such as education level, postmaterial value orientations and age are poor predictors of climate scepticism.

Affiliation with conservative political parties, gender, being unconcerned about ‘the environment’ or having little trust in government are consistent predictors of scepticism. Climate change scepticism is also correlated positively with CO2 emissions and vulnerability to climate change.

While high levels of scepticism have been documented among citizens of the United States, scepticism is as high or higher in countries such as Australia, Norway and New Zealand.


Australian Federal minister Takes To Twitter To Threaten Green Groups Will Lose Their Charity Status

Federal Queensland Liberal-National Party politician George Christensen has issued what appears to be a veiled threat to non-government organisations to “get the donations in” before a committee he sits on strips environmental charities of their tax-exempt status.

Yesterday, the National Party Deputy Whip grilled environmental groups in the first of a series of public hearings which the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment will stage as it considers whether to strip environmental organisations from receiving tax-free donations.

The Queensland Minerals Council - which has allied itself to Christensen in the debate over how huge new coal mines in the Galilee Basin will affect the Great Barrier Reef - appeared first, yesterday morning.

Then Christensen turned his attention to environmental groups, who he described as “morons” during a technical exchange over whether land should be considered to be part of the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem.

Felicity Wishart from the Australian Marine Conservation Society was interrogated by the Queensland MP, whose electorate takes in a swathe of coastline adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

“He was questioning me about our commitment to accurate information that wasn’t misleading and then trying to grasp at straws and find something that we had done that was misleading,” Wishart told New Matilda.

The Marine Conservation Society had used an image in its campaign material which superimposed a ‘grab dredger’ over the Calley Valley Wetlands and an image of Abbot Point Port, 25km north of Bowen.

Reportedly, Christensen’s main gripes were that the wetlands are ‘not part of the reef’, and the type of dredge to be used for the Abbot Point Port expansion was ‘suction dredger’, not a ‘grab dredger’.

While maintaining the wetlands are an important part of the reef’s ecosystem, Wishart said that the image of a grab dredger was a metaphor for the “one million cubic metres of dredge spoil… that was to be dumped on the wetlands” under previous plans.

After grilling Wishart about the integrity of her organisation’s campaigning, Christensen took to Twitter insisting “they were caught out fibbing, and the committee will sort these sort of lies out”.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society denounced Christensen for “unparliamentary” behaviour, accusing him of “announcing the outcome of the inquiry before it has concluded”, but Christensen said he was “just reading the tea leaves”.

Christensen has previously attacked “gutless green grubs” and “eco-terrorists” for campaigning to win more stringent protections for the reef and battling against an increase in Queensland’s coal exports, which would pump out emissions roughly equal to those created by the United Kingdom, South Africa, or Italy.

The Member for Dawson, who has questioned widely accepted understandings of climate science, has a history of Tweet-controversy. Last month he was forced into an apology over comments linking the American right to bear arms with a recent court decision which legalised marriage equality across the US.

Yesterday, at the inquiry, groups like the AMCS got the distinct impression Christensen was pressing the gun harder to their temples.

“This sounds very much like a government member of the Inquiry threatening environment groups who have been vocal about issues like dredging, dumping and increased shipping in the Reef’s waters,” said Wishart, who acts as a Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director.

In late March, Wishart’s work was singled out as part of a pack of “extreme greens” working for organisations like “Greenpeace, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth, Get Up, and the Environmental Defenders Office” who Christensen said “act like Wormtongue from The Lord of the Rings”.

“That is treason,” Christensen told Parliament, “flying overseas and whispering in the ears of the decision-makers and diplomats who have anything to do with UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee, poisoning their minds on the state of the reef”.

“What treachery,” Christensen said, “to go against the interests of your own nation and your own people for no sound reason at all!”


Rare praise for conservative environment policy from the Australian Left

In a major break from convention, New Matilda brings you a positive story about an Abbott Government initiative.

The Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt will unveil “Australia’s first national strategy for threatened species” at a summit in Melbourne later today, along with new funding and a shortlist of the most at-risk bird species.

The plans have been cautiously welcomed by environmental groups, but they agree with Hunt that “we have to work harder” to turn back the nation’s shocking extinction rate.

As part of the announcement Hunt has unveiled a list of 12 Australian birds singled out for “priority action”. “I want to bring these birds back far enough from the brink to survive in the wild long-term,” Hunt said ahead of the summit yesterday.

The 12 birds, which are the frontrunners of a list of 20 birds to be decided after one year’s consultation with the community, include the Helmeted Honeyeater, Hooded Plover, Eastern Bristlebird, Regent Honeyeater, Mallee Emu-Wren, Plains-Wanderer, Night Parrot, Alligator Rivers Yellow Chat, Norfolk Island's Green Parrot and Boobook owl.

“Two more – the Orange-Bellied Parrot and Western Ground Parrot – will benefit from emergency interventions,” Hunt said.

In 2010, research indicated that the critically endangered Orange-Bellied Parrot had dwindled to a wild population of just 50 birds, and Hunt said the new strategy for threatened species would include an “emergency intervention” to help secure its future.

The parrot, which at around 200mm long is slightly larger than a budgerigar, breeds in Tasmania but wings its way to the mainland in Winter to forage in coastal salt marshes.

The critically endangered Western Ground Parrot is even smaller, at around 135-145mm, and the green, black-flecked, Western Australian native has been pushed to less than 140 individuals.

Hunt said the government is “committed to improving their fortunes within five years,” and that he “wants future generations to enjoy the colour, movement and song [the threatened birds] bring to our lives”.

He said the threatened species plan “will clearly set out what will happen by when, turning good intentions into clear and measurable targets”.

“The recovery of 20 bird species by 2020 is one such target.”

New South Wales government projects to protect two of the 12 species will also get a boost of federal funds, with Hunt promising a cumulative $140,000 to help conserve the plains-wanderers of the Riverina and the south coast’s Hooded-Plover.

Hunt said “it is possible to recover birds at risk of extinction because we have access to high quality science and can act in partnership with the community and other governments,” but a number of environmental groups have used the Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne to sound the alarm over a proposed government reform.



Australian maths students do well in 56th International Mathematical Olympiad

Aussie team comes 6th and achieves our highest global ranking ever.  Amusing and unsurprising that 3 out of 5 top scorers were Asian

Australia won two Gold and four Silver medals coming sixth (out of 104 teams) at the 2015 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), which concluded this week in Thailand.  In our best result in 35 years of competing, our team improved Australia’s ranking from 11th last year to 6th position surpassing such highly rated teams as Taiwan, the Russian Federation, Japan, Ukraine and Singapore.

Competing with 577 contestants from 104 countries, multi-medallist Alex Gunning scored Gold and was ranked fourth in the world.  After tying for first place with a perfect score last year, he has a total of three Gold medals and a Bronze and now appears on the IMO Hall of Fame leader board.

In his third IMO, 16 year-old Seyoon Ragavan was awarded Gold this year for his 19th place, adding this to his two Bronze medals. All four other team members scored Silver: Yang Song at his second Olympiad, and Jeremy Yip, Kevin Xian and Ilia Kucherov on their first attempt.  More results can be seen at

Team members are first identified by the annual Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank. This year’s AMC will be held on 30 July. Success in AMC leads talented students like these into the Australian Mathematics Trust’s Olympiad training program.

Adjunct Professor Mike Clapper, Executive Director of the Australian Mathematics Trust said, ‘At a time when maths education in particular is a concern in Australia, the outstanding achievements of these students are inspirational. They are indicative of the enormous talent and capabilities of our young people. They have repeated and exceeded last year’s extraordinary results’.

Hosted by a different country each year, the annual UNESCO-sanctioned IMO is the pinnacle of competition between students of pre-university level around the world and the premier international competition in mathematics for secondary school students. It began in 1959 and is the oldest, largest and most prestigious of the International Science Olympiads.

Press release

Co-payment debacle reflections

The Abbott government's Medicare co-payment proposal prompted the organised medical profession to wage a political campaign that helped drive a first-term Prime Minister to the brink of the sack by his party. It now appears any reform that interferes with the sacred cow of Medicare is the third rail of Australian politics, given the vested interests vehemently opposed to change.

The more positive interpretation is that for any reform proposal to be credible, it must be informed by a viable political strategy.

When the federal opposition railed against the 'GP Tax' it said more than intended. Medicare is one of the most obvious ways people get their taxes back. This is the entitlement mentality in action - those forced to put so much of their income into the pot seek every opportunity possible to take out as much as possible.

The rejection of the co-payment should be interpreted as an expression of dissatisfaction with the size of government and indeed as a rejection of another 'tax'. It wasn't the exercise of the nation's collective social conscience that killed the copayment, but the flexing of the hip pocket nerve. The implications for politically feasible health reform are important, and suggest the clear winners out of the process have to be taxpayers.

The arguments for health reform need to serve the public interest in the direction of sustainable funding for necessary public health services and the maintenance of the public finances. These are cerebral arguments that appeal to the senses located above our necks. But in politics, it is the emotions existing between the neck and knees that usually determine outcomes, emotions that often centre somewhere around people's wallets.

This is part of the political logic behind the plan for a Medicare opt-out Health Savings Account (HSA) system devised by me and CIS Senior Fellow, David Gadiel.

Among other important things, cashing out Medicare entitlements and depositing the annual proceeds in a HSA would be good for the health of people's wallets. HSAs are a more efficient way to finance health care, and individuals would benefit as the savings accumulated from more cost-effective health care would ultimately be added to superannuation balances and fund higher retirement incomes.

I make no apologies for trying to beat the entitlement mentality -- which helps prop up big government welfare programs like Medicare -- at its own game. The only way to achieve major structural health reform is to build a coalition of the willing in favour of change with sufficient political punch to overcome the vested interests in the sector that stymie innovation.


17 July, 2015

Nationals MP George Christensen slams GetUp over Reclaim Australia petition

"Hell will freeze over" before Queensland federal MP George Christensen gives in to the "intimidation" of an online petition trying to stop him speaking at an anti-Islam rally.

The Mackay-based backbencher hit out at activist group GetUp for hosting a petition calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to block his attendance at Sunday's Reclaim Australia rally in the central Queensland city.

Reclaim Australia trumpeted Mr Christensen's involvement on Tuesday and the petition had been posted within a day, calling on Mr Abbott to denounce the group and block his MP from attending.

"Hell will freeze over before I give in to such intimidation," The Nationals MP posted to Facebook on Thursday.  "However, it's plain to see who wants to shut down free speech and the right to peaceful assembly and protest in this country."

The petition was posted to CommunityRun, a GetUp website where anyone can launch a campaign so long as it is not "defamatory, discriminatory or illegal".  The advocacy group stresses the campaigns are "not run or endorsed by GetUp".

Queensland 16-year-old Tom Rainsford started the petition, saying it was vital to tell the government "we don't stand for religious discrimination".  "We can't allow a Member of Parliament to participate in rallies that discriminate against ethnic and religious minorities in Australia," he wrote.

On Thursday morning, the petition had 92 signatures out of a goal of just 100.

GetUp acting national director Paul Oosting stressed his organisation didn't control CommunityRun petitions but said Mr Christensen's outrage was "disingenuous".

"I think we've seen a very strong and bullying reaction from Mr Christensen in relation to what I think is very legitimate criticism of his behaviour," he said, adding Tom wasn't available to speak until after he finished school for the day.

The Reclaim Australia movement campaigns against "halal tax, sharia law and Islamisation" but denies accusations of racism.

Mr Christiansen said he wanted to support people defending the Australian "way of life", culture and freedom from radical Islam.  "I made the decision to speak after reviewing the Reclaim movement's 24 principles," he wrote.

"These principles include equality of law, equality of genders and freedom of speech as well as supporting Australia's right to exile or deport traitors."


Pew Research concludes Australians most fear the threat of IS

GLOBAL climate change, economic instability, Iran’s nuclear program, cyber attacks; the world’s certainly got a few worries up its sleeve.

But when it comes to Australians, what keeps us up at night comes is the nightmare that is IS, a global survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre has revealed.

More than 45,000 people across 40 countries were asked a series of questions regarding their concern level over the biggest issues facing the globe today, including tensions between Russia and its neighbours and territorial disputes with China. 1004 Australians were polled in the study, and they could name more than one category they were “very concerned” about.

And while climate change took the top gong as the world’s overall “top threat”, more Australians were “very concerned” about Islamic State (69 per cent) than any other global threat.

“The challenge that we face in addressing Islamic State is that it has not shown any interest in abiding with an international system of conventions, and it has an ideology that is intent on killing people without any concerns for the sanctity of life,” International development expert Dr Denis Dragovic told The Guardian.

Many Australians will be relieved at the news of this week’s deal with Iran over their nuclear program. Prior to the agreement that the middle eastern country would curb its program in exchange for relief of international sanctions, 38 per cent of Australians said they were concerned about the Iranian nuclear program.

37 per cent of Australians said they felt very concerned about climate change, and the same percentage were concerned about cyber attacks.

Many first world countries had similar concerns, with Islamic State being of concern in the U.S. (68 per cent), Canada (58 per cent), France (71 per cent), Germany (70 per cent), Italy (69 per cent), Spain (77 per cent) and the UK (66 per cent).

Most of these countries had experienced some form of terror attack involving the organisation.

“In Europe, a median of 70 per cent express serious concerns about the threat posed by the growing organisation,” read the survey.

“Apprehension is greatest in Spain (77 per cent), but anxiety about ISIS is high throughout the continent.

It follows Islamic State’s brutal campaign to wreak havoc over the West, where over the last 12 months the group has spread fear through its documentation of brutal beheadings and terror attacks across home soil and beyond.

IS controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and has, over the past year, spread to other countries such as Egypt and Libya, where its franchises are also wreaking devastation.


Building union thug arrested

A FORMER construction union organiser has been arrested a short while after he admitted to a royal commission he took $60,000 from a formwork company owner - but only because they were friends.

THE trade unions royal commission was also played a secret recording on Thursday from April this year in which Halafihi "Fihi" Kivalu demanded Elias Taleb pay him another $50,000.

But the former organiser, who left the CFMEU last November, said the payments in instalments - which he later gambled away on the pokies - were made without the union's knowledge.

"Mr Taleb voluntarily gave me money hoping that I would use my contacts to help him in the industry," he said.

He added that the handovers were always above board and never happened when he was wearing a CFMEU uniform.

The pair were friends, often sharing a beer, and their children played together.

However, another call played to the hearing - between Mr Kivalu and his wife - indicated he knew what he was doing was wrong.

"What else do I do, because I organised a crime and it comes back to bite us up in the arse ... if I'm behind bars because I've organised people," he told his wife during the conversation.

Mr Taleb, the owner of Class 1 Form, told a hearing on Monday he paid Mr Kivalu a total of $135,000 to secure jobs in the capital.

"Mr Taleb is full of s***," the former organiser told the commission on Thursday, before being asked to calm down by commissioner Dyson Heydon.

When pressed on the call where he demanded more money, Mr Kivalu said he was trying to give Mr Taleb a piece of his own medicine after he "blackmailed" him to the union's ACT branch secretary, Dean Hall.

Mr Kivalu also admitted to accepting $40,000 from tiler Medwhat Elesawiy, but said it was also voluntarily offered in the hope that he would help with work in Canberra.

Later, after his evidence and a meeting with his lawyers at a Canberra office building, police officers arrested Mr Kivalu.

He was led outside without handcuffs and put into the back of a police van.

The former organiser had earlier also admitted to not knowing how he came to pocket more than $32,000 in redundancy pay.

Mr Kivalu told the hearing he resigned from his position for personal reasons on November 10, 2014.

But when asked why he received a redundancy payment of $32,267 a day later, Mr Kivalu told the commissioner: "I don't know."

The CFMEU's legal team turned up on Thursday, denying it boycotted the first three days of the ACT hearings.

The union's national secretary, Dave Noonan, had distanced himself from Mr Kivalu, saying on Monday allegations against the former organiser should be investigated by the police and courts.

ACT Policing said in a statement that officers had arrested a 39-year-old Queanbeyan man following the hearings.

"Inquiries are continuing, and it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this point," a spokeswoman said.


Chaos over carbon hits Bill Shorten after ETS leak

Bill Shorten faces a destructive Coalition carbon tax scare campaign through to the next election after the damaging leak of draft Labor plans for an emissions trading scheme and an extra tax on electricity generators further ­undermined his leadership cred­ibility.

The Opposition Leader and his frontbench colleagues were forced to play down the importance of an internal Labor proposal to introduce a carbon price and limit greenhouse gas emissions from power generators after Tony Abbott accused the ALP of wanting to revive a “triple whammy” carbon tax.

Senior Labor sources said the document was a discussion draft, there had not been any decisions on electricity or vehicle emissions schemes and carbon policy had not yet been the subject of a meeting of shadow cabinet.

“Labor will not introduce a carbon tax,’’ Mr Shorten said, dismissing suggestions to the contrary as “complete rubbish’’.

Sources conceded the leak, whether a deliberate attempt to undermine Mr Shorten or an accid­ent, was damaging.
The leak came a week before an ALP national conference, where the Left and Right factions will battle for control amid ­looming contentious debates on asylum-seeker boat turnbacks, the Israel-Palestine question, a binding vote on same-sex marriage and climate policy.

While it had been widely ­expected the opposition would take a revived emissions trading scheme to the next election, the Prime Minister yesterday leapt on the chance to tar Mr Shorten with a carbon tax after successfully using such campaigns to help bring down Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard as Labor prime ministers in 2010 and 2013.

“Now we find out that if Labor were to come back, the carbon tax would be back,” Mr Abbott said. “Not just the carbon tax that we had before, but a carbon tax which is going to have a triple-whammy effect; a carbon tax that will act as an emissions trading scheme on households, a special carbon tax on power generation, and yet another carbon tax on cars. This just shows that Labor can’t learn and hasn’t changed. And it shows that Bill Shorten is, in every respect, a carbon copy of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.”

Mr Shorten responded to the disclosure with an emphatic ­denial that Labor would introduce a carbon tax and the accusation that Mr Abbott “hates to talk about climate change”.

“But I tell you what we will do, we won’t stick our heads in the sand, bury ourselves in the past and ignore climate change,” he said. “The Labor Party I lead ­believes in climate change.

“The choice is clear in Australia. You’ve got Mr Abbott, who doesn’t like solar power, doesn’t like wind power, is walking away from investing in it, jeopardising business certainty and the thousands of jobs that go with it, or you’ve got my Labor team. We believe in climate change, we don’t believe in passing the problems of pollution to future generations, and our focus will be on renewable energy, and there is going to be no carbon tax.”

Despite the quick response from Mr Shorten, the Labor leadership team knows the carbon tax attack will further hurt his standing in the polls and continue to pose a political challenge.

Mr Shorten’s public approval has suffered after the ABC’s Killing Season revisited his role in the demise of Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard and last week’s appearance at the trade union royal commission.

The document, prepared by environment spokesman Mark Butler, was relatively tightly held, having been distributed to about 10 MPs, although sections had been given to experts for consultation. There had been several different drafts of the discussion, which had been circulated to various groups within the party but not taken to shadow cabinet.

The leaked document discussed a modified version of the original carbon tax that would be resurrected in the first-term of a Labor government with a separate scheme for the electricity sector and another for other sectors.

Although businesses would be offered “no upfront cost’’ in the first phase between next year and 2019, firms that exceeded the cap would have to buy international credits to offset their emissions. A second post-2020 phase with tougher requirements would be worked out in government.

The draft also canvassed Canadian and US-style regulations to limit the emissions intensity and operating life of power plants, and an intermediate energy efficiency target. Adopting European and US vehicle emissions standards was also canvassed, with forecasts this could add $1500 to the cost of a new car by 2025 but this would be offset by fuel savings of $830 in the first year and $8500 over the life of the vehicle.

Mr Butler said Labor had not finalised its climate policies but it would not introduce a carbon tax and would instead take to the next election an emissions trading scheme. He said the leaked document was one of a series of discussion papers “to guide the thinking of the leadership from the shadow cabinet in this area’’.

Energy Supply Association of Australia chief executive Matthew Warren called for an end to the politicisation of climate change policy. He said the effect of a decade of chronic climate policy failure had been to render the electricity generation sector virtually unbankable, and to exhaust the patience of businesses and consumers.


Many Australian Parents In The Dark About Their Children’s Online Activities

Norton Report reveals 74 percent of parents are oblivious to their kids’ online activities

According to survey data released today by Internet security company, Norton by Symantec, many Australian parents are in the dark about their kid’s online activities and are avoiding crucial conversations about their children’s online privacy and security practices.

Polling 600 Australian parents across the country, the Norton survey examines parents’ understanding and involvement with their children’s online activities. The survey reveals that 74 percent of Australian parents are oblivious to their kids’ online activities.                                                           

The Norton survey also shows that many parents are disconnected from their children’s online world and are not engaging with their children about Internet practices that can harm them both now and in the future. For example, approximately 41 percent of Australian parents surveyed never check their children’s online activities, and never discuss sexting (52 percent), cyberbullying (41 percent) or stranger danger online (37 percent).

“From websites to apps to games and online communities, children have access to a ton of content that can affect them both positively and negatively,” said Mark Gorrie, Director, Norton by Symantec, Pacific region.  “Children are interacting online at a younger age and more than ever before and it’s impossible for parents to watch over their kids every second they’re online.  Parents need to arm their children with the knowledge and skills they need to use the Internet positively without compromising their privacy and security.”

Alarmingly about one in five (18 percent) Australian parents surveyed had been warned about their child’s social media activities by their school and approximately 15 percent of parents had admitted to having at least one child impacted by cyberbullying, while one in three children identified themselves as being impacted by cyberbullying.  In addition, almost one in three (27 percent) Australian parents admitted that their young children had joined a social networking account even though they did not meet the minimum age rule.

To help promote online safety, digital ethics and privacy, Norton has partnered with author, child rights activist and parent, Tara Moss, to be our first Norton Family Ambassador in Australia.

“Security, privacy and online ethics are now a necessary part of parenting, just like road safety and safe sex education. Kids using connected devices in the comfort of the family home may look harmless, but activity online has consequences and impacts beyond the home and beyond that moment. As with anything else, education and guidance are needed. To some, the Internet is not part of the real world, but it is. Things said online are sent by real people and received by real people, and when the recipient is a child, unpleasant online exchanges can be more damaging,” said Moss.

“The Norton survey reveals there is a general lack of awareness about the role of parents in educating children about Internet security and privacy.  Many parents haven’t grown up as connected to the online world as their children and may be unaware of the potential impacts of online activity. While schools and governments have invested in teaching children safe Internet practices, it is no longer enough. Parents need to get informed about what they can do to protect their children and take an active role in their children’s understanding of privacy and online ethics, as well as their online well-being,” Moss added.

While technologies exist today that help parents keep their children safe online, 44 percent of parents surveyed confess they never discuss using privacy settings on their children’s social networking accounts and 43 percent do not have parental controls set up on their children’s connected devices. In addition, almost one in three (29 percent)  Australian parents surveyed admit to not having any rules in place about what their child can or cannot do online.

“There are simple steps parents can take to protect their children online. Having an open conversation with children about their online habits can go a long way in protecting children online. Norton also recommends turning on the filtering and security features in search engines and social networking accounts and installing free parental control software, such as Norton Family,” said Gorrie.

Press release

16 July, 2015


There were some things Abbott wasn’t prepared to do to gain Government in 2010... one was to “sell my arse” to Bob Brown, the other was to plaster the beautiful Aussie landscape with wind turbines. Julia Gillard was willing to do both, and anything else that secured her the keys to The Lodge.

In a previous article I said the problem with windmills is that they will all become unserviceable and useless at the one time. These hideous turbines have a life span of between 10 and 15 years and replacement costs will not attract the generous subsidies that allowed them to be built in the first place.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s slush fund consisted of a borrowed and unimaginable amount of $10 billion (by 2010 Rudd had already drained the treasury dry unnecessarily).

Applicants who wanted a piece of Bob Brown’s deficit bank had to show that other financing alternatives had been exhausted. In other words, every crazy green scheme had to have already been rejected as uneconomic by investors who can do simple sums when it comes to their own hard-earned.

Gillard had instructed the CEFC to hurriedly hand out as much in subsidies as was legally possible in the lead up to the 2013 election... (A) because she knew the contracts would be irreversible, (B) she knew struggling farmers would agree to have wind turbines installed and (C) it was clear the ALP/Green Government would lose Office even with a change back to Rudd and there would be nothing Abbott could do to reverse it anyway.

With the Greens certain to hold sway in the Senate from their 2007 six-year terms it became impossible to rid Australians of one of the most costly and destructive of the Brown/Gillard land-mine deals.

Of course they are both now in voluntary retirement sucking off the taxpayers’ teat and laughing their cosmetically challenged heads off.

One of these delightful people is intent on saving whales aboard the Green Peace while the other is intent on saving her own neck from upcoming Victorian Major Fraud Squad charges. (Once Blewitt and Wilson are charged, and they will be, Gillard is back in the witness box.)

The best course to take with these carpets of visual- and noise-polluting windmill disasters is to join two D9s with a heavy duty chain and keep motoring until every last one is flattened.

Is it any wonder the world is finally waking up to the UN’s IPCC global warming hoax. The object of publicly-funded green energy financing is to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gasses but since its inception the C02 level hasn’t changed at all yet, through normal climatic variations, North America, Europe and even Australia is experiencing record cold winters with snow extending to the Queensland border for Christ sakes.

If these ridiculous windmills are responsible for this new cold then that’s reason enough to get rid of the hideous things.

When the normal financial checks and balances of democratic free enterprise is replaced with disastrous, no penalty, taxpayer funded programs of the far Left, pull the covers over your head and pray, because that’s exactly what we’ve got with these damned windmills.

The damage wreaked by Rudd/Gillard/Brown/Rudd and a prospective Shorten carries Greek overtones.


Liberals order purge of refugee review body

The Abbott government has overseen a dramatic clean-out of the tribunals responsible for reviewing refugee and migration claims, raising concerns the system is being loaded against asylum-seekers.

Of 38 members of the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal whose terms expired at the end of last month, only seven were appointed to the newly created Migration and Refugee Division of the ­Administration Appeals Tribunal, which is now responsible for reviewing failed visa applications.

Among the exodus were some of the longest serving RRT members, including three founding members with more than 20 years’ experience in hearing appeals and eight members with 14 or more years’ experience.

Those who applied and failed to secure reappointment were told on June 26, giving them just two working days to clear their desks.

In the past year, 37 new members have been appointed to the MRT, RRT or the expanded AAT. The class of 2014 includes a long-serving employee of Tony Abbott’s electoral office, a former adviser to the Prime Minister, a former Liberal campaign director and candidate, and a policy adviser to Liberal MP Paul Fletcher.

In appointments announced last month, Michael Cooke, a former adviser to Mr Abbott who served two terms on the MRT-RRT between 2000 and 2010, was elevated from part-time to full-time status. Mr Cooke also has worked as a flight attendant, a schoolteacher and a steelworker.

Former Liberal senator Karen Synon, who was first appointed in 2001, also got a new five-year term.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the new members had a range of experience and qualifications, including law, migration issues and administrative decision-making.

“With five-year terms of appointment, it is not unusual for new members to be appointed as terms expire,’’ the spokesman said.

Opposition spokesman on immigration Richard Marles said the pattern of change was concerning.  “It is absolutely essential that the tribunal is and has the appearance of being completely independent of government and free of perceptions of any partisan political bias,’’ Mr Marles said.

“This is particularly the case where the government has sought to restrict the appeal rights of asylum-seekers. These appointments give us concern about that.’’

On July 1, the MRT-RRT and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal were formally amalgamated into an expanded AAT.

Speaking at the official opening of the new-look super tribunal, AAT president Duncan Kerr expressed concern that so few MRT-RRT members been reappointed.

“The number of members transferring across in the transitional arrangements from the SSAT and the MRT-RRT is significantly fewer than was planned for and that which is required,’’ he said. “Without sufficient numbers of members being appointed with assignments to the new Social Services, Child Support and Migration Review Divisions of the AAT, the work required in those divisions will suffer delayed hearings and backlogs.’’

The purge of MRT-RRT members follows concerns expressed by the Coalition when in opposition about the high success rate of appeals by asylum-seekers who had been denied protection visas by the Immigration Department.

Members passed over include the entire class of 2010 appointed to the Melbourne office of the MRT-RRT by the Rudd government, a cohort criticised by conservative columnist Andrew Bolt as too soft on asylum-seekers.

Party political affiliations have never been a barrier to membership of the refugee review tribunal.

When Labor senator Kim Carr last year questioned the appointments of Mr Abbott’s long-serving electoral staff member Helena Claringbold and former Liberal candidate Nicholas McGowan at a Senate estimates hearing, Liberal senator Ian Macdonald noted former Labor staff George Haddad and Mara Moustafine also had been reappointed. Justice Kerr is also a former Labor senator.

It is not suggested the new appointees are not qualified. Among the 2014 group, former corporate spinner David McCulloch worked as an adviser to Liberal attorneys-general Amanda Vandstone and Daryl Williams, and more recently advised Mr Fletcher. Previously he worked in administrative law and served as an assisting solicitor to a royal commission.

The new appointees include Geraldine Hoeben, a barrister specialising in immigration law, former MRT-RRT member Rachel Westaway and Tigiilagi Eteuati, a senior associate of law firm Clayton Utz and a former senior legal adviser to Immigration.

Yet within the surviving ranks of the old MRT-RRT, there is anger and dismay that some of the best-performing members, including those who met stringent caseload targets, were jettisoned.


Australian Left, maddened by the warming hoax, plans another useless carbon tax

The Labor Party was destroyed when the Gillard Government imposed a carbon tax.  A carbon tax costs money and jobs but makes no measurable difference to global warming.

Global warming seems to have paused, with no real rise in atmospheric temperature for some 18 years.

The catastrophes predicted by global warming scientists have not emerged. We have not seen worse or more cyclones, we have not seen falls in food harvests, we have not seen an increase world wide in droughts.

Most low-lying islands once thought vulnerable to inundation through global warming are in fact stable or growing in size.

Some a few scientists now warn not of global warming but a mini ice age in 15 years.

So a carbon tax is electoral poison and a costly and useless response to a problem that may well not exist anyway.


The Opposition Leader faces a ferocious government assault and his biggest test of political will after the leak of Labor’s plans to resurrect a version of the carbon pricing scheme which contributed to its defeat in 2013.

Labor’s leaked plan looks like a version of an emissions trading scheme linked to other international schemes which at today’s prices would give us a carbon price of around $8-$10…

Leaked internal policy documents reportedly show Labor is planning a carbon pricing scheme with emissions caps that would apply to the electricity sector and a separate scheme which would apply to the rest of the economy.

Labor could also take a higher emissions reduction target to the next election if it considers the post 2020 target that is to be revealed by the Abbott Government next month too low.

Some Labor frontbenchers know this is madness. But global warming makes believers so crazed and intolerant that trying to argue against this within Labor is useless. Besides, see how many journalists won’t hear a word of criticism of the warming faith either.


Families providing fraudulent rental documents to get kids into top Sydney public school

FAMILIES have been providing fraudulent rental documents in an attempt to gain enrolment at Cherrybrook Technology High School, one of the state’s top public schools.

Principal Gary Johnson said he had referred several cases to the police in which parents made false claims in an attempt to get their child enrolled.

Under the education department’s enrolment guidelines, families whose homes are situated in a public school’s catchment area and who can provide the appropriate documentation, ­including proof of address, are eligible to enrol at that school.

An education department spokeswoman said the school was highly sought-after because of its record of academic achievement.

Ray White Cherrybrook and West Pennant Hills ­licensee Andrew Crauford said he was aware of industry colleagues who leased properties to people for the purpose of gaining an ­address within the school’s intake area.

“I have been asked many times by property owners and tenants ‘am I able to provide a lease to put it to the school?’ but the answer is it’s illegal,” he said.

“There are clients out there who are prepared to ask the question of me and my office and the answer is always no, unless they’re prepared to sign the lease and pay the money and ­occupy the premises.” Mr Crauford said Cherrybrook Tech High authorities had phoned his office on a couple of occasions to verify the validity of leases.

Ryde Local Area Command crime co-ordinator Sgt Kerri McDonald said it was a matter for Fair Trading, not police.  A Fair Trading spokeswoman said the department was not aware of any complaints.

Member for Epping Damien Tudehope said the incident showed there was strong demand for schools in the Hills.

However, the rules in this regard were clear, he said. “We’ve got to give priority to people who live in the catchment area and certainly make sure fraudulent practices aren’t used for getting admission to our schools,” he said.


15 July, 2015

Generation unprepared: The school and university leavers with ‘no skills to work at all’

OVER the past 18 months, Queensland mining employer Jack Trenamen has developed a formula that helps him predict the performance of his new apprentices.  The country kids who have worked on mum and dad’s farm from a young age will work hard and appreciate every dollar they get. “You can’t fault ‘em on work ethic,” he says, adding that it shows in their performance.

But the ones who come from more affluent areas, whether that be from the big cities where their parents are a bit more well off and happy to give them pocket money, or mining regions where jobs are available and salaries are competitive, are more difficult to engage. They’re also less likely to agree to get their hands dirty when it comes time to sweep the shed.

The contracting boss has seen exceptions, of course, but he’s also noted strong trends, and what he’s picked up is in line with the bigger picture — the grim picture that’s emerging of a generation of newcomers to the workforce unprepared for work.

“I’ve had countless experiences with kids who are just not ready,” he says.  “They haven’t picked up the skills that you learn by working and that’s often because they haven’t had to.  “They come in late, they don’t realise that they might have to do things they don’t want to, and they don’t appreciate the job. They think if they don’t like it here they can just pack up and get another job around the corner, keep chasing that almighty dollar without building their skills.”

Mr Trenamen might sound like another disgruntled boss whining about “kids these days”, but what he’s picked up is reflected in national trends.

Australian Bureau of Statistics show that school and university students are less likely to pick up part time work while they’re studying with only 31 per cent of 15 to 19-year-old students employed.

The figures are unsurprising to Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Kate Carnell, who tells she could have predicted the findings based on conversations with employers like Jack.

She says while on paper young employees are more qualified than ever before, 20-somethings are showing up to work with degrees from universities that are “disconnected with the workforce”, and a lack of workplace experience.

“A number of our members consistently tell us they’re seeing students come out of university or training programs and they might have the academic or theoretical skills, but no skills to work at all. It makes them really hard to employ,” she says.

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

“The number of young people not working while they’re in school is one of the problems.”

Ms Carnell says the declining need for kids to work is a symptom of a largely more affluent society, and while it offers young people the luxury of focusing on their studies, it also deprives them of the skills they will pick up in the work force before they take up a full time role.

Another part of the problem, Ms Carnell says, isn’t just a lack of enthusiasm for kids to get a job down at the local takeaway or supermarket, but parents encouraging them not to while they focus on their studies.

As well as the lack of work experience young employees bring to their career-starting roles, bosses are also quick to point the finger at the education system.

Mr Trenamen suggests schools teach workplace skills from year 10, and encourage kids to get into the workforce. It’s an argument Professor Johanna Wyn, director of the Youth Research Centre at the University of Melbourne has heard before.

While she believes there is a disconnect between what kids are learning at school, university and TAFE and “the real world”, she says it’s unfair to put pressure on educational institutions to be “all things to all people”.  “It’s not that the universities are teaching the wrong thing, but more that young people are encouraged to get an education, follow that to a job they believe they want to do, and the assumption that it’s going to be an automatic match with what’s required in the labour market,” Professor Wyn says.

“It would be fabulous if young people were gaining really strong skills that they should be learning, but it’s really hard for educators to catch up. Instead of turning it around and blaming schools, we should look at other path ways. “There are some really good models of how communities can wrap more around schools and bring educators and employers together.”

Brett Schimming is the CEO of Construction Skills Queensland, an industry body that works with schools and young career seekers together with employers providing skilling programs to bridge that gap and equip kids to get in to jobs.

“What we do know is that if you simply are going to employ a young person and expect them to know what to do on day one, you are more than likely not going to have success and it doesn’t end well for anyone,” he says.

“We’ve learnt that it’s 50/50 in terms of effort, so we like to increase the chances of matching the right people to the right jobs, and matching people who are each willing to give their 50 per cent and work together.”

The key thing small businesses are looking for is that attitude and they get challenged by how best to find that person because they’ve had experience where they’ve hired people and it hasn’t worked out.”

Apprenticeship Support Australia, which covers the recruitment of more than 300,000 apprentices, is another group trying to meet businesses and new workers halfway.

Last month the federal government-funded group announced a “job-fit test” that would gauge Gen Y job seekers’ work ethic, skills and job readiness before they are approved for an apprenticeship.  The performance test was devised in response to the drop out rate of apprentices falling to a shocking 50 per cent, the Herald Sun reported.

So there are programs that help, and employers, educators and industry bodies alike believe there should be more, but back at ACCI Ms Carnell says the simplest way to learn skills is for young people to get into the work force as soon as they can.

“Young people are always conscious of the reputation their generation has, and they should work to break that,” she says.
“It really, really makes a difference as an employer if you get a CV from a young person and see they’ve been employed during school or university. It’s a huge tick.”


WA premier softens stance on Uber

THE West Australian government is softening its stance on ride-sharing service Uber, but won't drop prosecutions against drivers accused of breaking the law, Premier Colin Barnett says.

"Uber has come into the market - it is not meeting the legal requirements of a taxi service, we all know that - but it is popular," Mr Barnett said on Tuesday in his first news conference after returning from holidays.

"There is a segment in the community that uses Uber and likes the service they provide, so we will look at ways in which we might be able to accommodate that.  "It will mean some changes probably on their part. "I'm not about restricting choice for consumers."

Mr Barnett said the prosecutions would run their course in court.

He said he was concerned that during his absence, the Department of Transport invited tenders for covert surveillance of Uber drivers to ensure compliance with taxi and transport legislation.

"I've got to say I was a little bit concerned when I heard about that decision made by the department."

Transport Minister Dean Nalder will release a paper on taxi transport in the next week or so, Mr Barnett said, and he hoped it would result in an improved offering for customers.  "At the moment, the law doesn't allow that and people are breaching the law."


Muslims shrink from aggressive confrontation

Anti-racism protesters have been warned to stay away from an anti-Islam rally in Melbourne after a social media post by one of the nationalist group's leaders glorified the murder of a teenager.

A video posted to the Facebook page of far-right group the United Patriots Front showed CCTV footage of the killing of anti-racism activist Carlos Javier Palomino, who was stabbed in the heart by a neo-nazi on a packed train in Spain in 2007.

The video was posted ahead of the group's protest against Islam and Sharia Law at Parliament House on Saturday, which is being promoted as the "biggest patriot rally in Australian history", and is scheduled to follow a rally by Reclaim Australia earlier in the day.

Neil Erikson, an administrator of the United Patriots Front, promoted the video as showing "one patriot versus a thousand unwashed filth", in which he praises the man convicted of killing the 16-year-old and stabbing another man in the chest.

Narrating over the footage he describes the moments after the deadly attack - when horrified commuters fled the train and platform - as "bloody awesome".

"Look they're like ants running away from one patriot. We have the power. There he is by himself, he won the battle. One patriot versus a thousand left wing unwashed scum. Bring on July 18, Melbourne, Parliament House, 1pm."

The disturbing video, which has since been removed, has prompted a call to abandon a counter rally organised by No Room For Racism which has been planned to thwart the UPF demonstration.

Mo El-Leissy, an Islamic community worker and trained imam, issued a warning to stay away from Saturday's rally, saying the video incited violence.

"It has raised the level of concern in the community about having Muslims especially attend the counter rally, knowing that these people glorify violence against anti-racism campaigners, but also have quite adverse views towards Islamic people," he told ABC Radio on Tuesday morning.

"These are people that do border on Nazism and Fascism and we just think it's not appropriate for us to be face to face with these people."

But Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly confirmed the counter rally would go ahead as planned, saying Mr El-Leissy's views were not shared by the vast majority of anti-racism protesters. "It's definitely on," Mr Jolly said.

"There's going to be large numbers of people, not just the usual suspects, but people from the Islamic community who are on the front line of this Islamophobia."

Mr Jolly said he met with police on Monday to discuss security measures at the rally and was reassured of protesters' safety.

"That meeting strengthened my belief that this will be a peaceful rally and that there will be no face-to-face contact between the thousands of people who turn up to the anti-racist rally and the tiny handful of neo-Nazis who will be kept well away," he said.  "It will be a very safe. My 17-year-old daughter will be coming with me."

Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday defended people's right to express their views as long as they were lawful and done so with a sense of decency.  "People can put a lawful view, people can protest but it needs to be peaceful, and lawful and orderly," Mr Andrews said.

The Premier said Victoria proudly has the best set of anti-discrimination and vilification laws in the world.

The United Patriot Front broke away from Reclaim Australia earlier this year and while it is a relatively small group it is considered far more extreme in its racist views.

Anti-extremist protesters from No Room For Racism faced off against the UPF at a protest outside Richmond Town Hall in May. That clash saw about 70 supporters of the far-right group outnumbered by hundreds of counter protesters, and one man was charged with weapons offences after being caught carrying a knife.


Fancy footwork from the ALP in Queensland State Budget

Sounds a lot like the heavily "fiddled" Gillard budget of 2011

Treasurer Curtis Pitt has set out a debt reduction plan, which will see the public servant super fund help pay down the state's debt, while potentially also funding future commitments.

Having already announced its plan to shift $4.1 billion off the general government debt books onto that of the government-owned corporations, Mr Pitt plans on saving the state another $3.4 billion by changing the way it funds entitlements, particularly long-service leave, for public servants.

Since the 1990s, the government has funded long service leave as a central investment allocation. Mr Pitt said it would now, under advice from Treasury, fund long service leave on an "as required basis".

The government will also take a contribution holiday from the Defined Benefit Scheme, which it claims will reduce the state debt by $2 billion over five years.

Mr Pitt said the scheme would remain "fully funded" at "more than 100 per cent" by even the most conservative estimates.

With a current scheme surplus of $10 billion, Mr Pitt said there was "no danger" of the scheme not being able to meet its responsibilities.

The government is trumpeting its plan to pay down general government debt  - the amount the government has borrowed over the years to cover the cost of doing business - by more than $9 billion over the forwards, without cutting services or selling assets.

But hidden within the Treasurer's speech was a line regarding the "next steps".  "Over the next six months, we will work with Treasury to examine ways for Queenslanders to invest in Queensland," he said.

"This due diligence work may include enabling the defined benefit scheme to invest in growing Queensland infrastructure through our energy GOCs.

"The defined benefit fund currently invests Queensland money in a range of interstate and overseas infrastructure, including Thames Water in the UK and the Ohio University car parking system in the US.

"The fund is also currently carrying historically high levels of cash that could responsibly invested in Queensland to deliver much needed employment and economic growth."

In his budget press conference, Mr Pitt categorically denied it was an asset sale – adding that there was nothing to say it would go ahead.  "This is all about ensuring that we are being very diligent with the way that we carry Queensland forward," he said.

"What we will be doing is undertaking due diligence as part of our energy GOC merger process.

"The first step of course, was the re-gearing of those businesses.  We will be looking at what the best fit for the network versus generation companies would be and we'll be able to provide an update at the mid-year review."

The government's rationale is that the money within the defined benefits scheme is still government money, despite being set aside for public servants, as they don't utilise it until they leave the public service.

It contends that as the fund belongs to the government, it can use it to invest in government-owned corporations – essentially borrowing from it – to fund future capital needs and infrastructure.

But with nothing more than a sketch of a plan at this stage, there was no detail to scrutinise.

Instead, Mr Pitt and the government want the public to focus on its general government debt reduction plan and service funding as the take away from a budget low on sweeteners or cost of living relief.

The government's $1.975 billion in election promises is to be paid from $2.315 billion in "reprioritisations".  Ministers have had to find more than $1.12 billion in savings from their portfolios, with the majority coming from cuts in consultancies, contractors and advertising.

Mr Pitt said that would be done without cuts to services, or redundancies, be they forced or voluntary.

Total government debt for this financial year has been set at $74.113 billion, with $35.885 billion coming from the general government sector and $35.962 billion coming from the GOCs.

It is forecast to increase, predicted to hit $78.802 billion over the forwards.


Clive Palmer's swan song?

He failed to make a mark but has only half acknowledged it so far.  Next election he will go down like his now vanished "Titanic" replica

CLIVE Palmer has apologised to Queensland voters for losing control over his party’s former Senator Glenn Lazarus and for failing to wield influence in federal parliament.

Mr Palmer’s party has started seeking candidates for the next election and has warned potential applicants they will be forced to pay back any money spent on their campaign if they win a seat and later leave the party.

In a sign that he is worried Senator Lazarus’ independence could cost the Palmer United Party votes at the next election, Mr Palmer attacked his former ally in the letter to voters.

He said he wanted to “apologise to all voters in Queensland for the fact that our Queensland Senator, elected only because of Palmer United Party votes, has let you down by withdrawing from the political battlefield when it got too hot for him.”

The PUP leader conceded his party was no longer influential in the Senate after the departure of Senator Lazarus and Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie.

“We had planned as a team to use our balance of power in the Senate to bring about real change for Queensland but Glenn Lazarus put an end to that and betrayed all those who voted for our party,” Mr Palmer said in the letter.

It was printed on Mr Palmer’s official letterhead as MP for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax but was distributed elsewhere in Queensland.

It is not clear if the mail-out was taxpayer funded.

Senator Lazarus’ new party was last week registered by the Australian Electoral Commission.

He is setting up a regional office in Cairns this week and will soon begin planning other candidates for the next election.

Senator Lambie has also had her own party registered and wants to run candidates in every state.

Mr Palmer’s spokesman did not return calls.


14 July, 2015

ETU: They are eating our lunch!

Together with the CFMEU, the Electical Trades Union is a major millstone around the neck of Australia's big  builders.  But a lot of their members work installing home solar panels too.  So you can see the reason behind their wail below.  Given their past behaviour, they are not going to get much sympathy
The shock decision by the Abbott Government to ban the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from investing in wind or small-scale solar projects has been blasted by the national head of the electricity union.

“At a time when Australia desperately needs leadership on renewable energy, this step is damaging and bizarre,” Electrical Trades Union national secretary Allen Hicks said.

“The government is wilfully destroying jobs in a growth sector and hobbling the ability of the Australian renewables industry to compete on the world stage.”

The comments follow the revelation that Federal Treasurer and Finance Minister had decided to pull the plug on investment in these two sectors by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which the Abbott government has twice attempted to abolish.

“It seems every move this government makes comes at the cost of jobs, money and certainty for industry,” Mr Hicks said.

“We saw them shatter investor confidence with their ideological prevaricating on the Renewable Energy Target.

“Now we are seeing even more political games being played with the technologies of the future.  “There is a limit to the amount of nineteenth century thinking the Australian people will endure, and we have well and truly passed it.

“As a nation, we need investment, leadership and growth in the renewable energy sector in order to compete on the world stage and create the jobs of the future.  “What we are seeing from the Abbott Government is the exact opposite.”

Press release

Curbs on free speech becoming onerous

From the newsletter of Liberal Senator Sean Edwards

If we consider what most fundamentally distinguishes Western Civilisation from the cultural cavemen of the global islamist movement, it’s the free and forceful exchange of ideas and the way those ideas influence the evolution of our society. The recent Federal Council raised once again the issue of Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act and its impact on reasonable debate in Australia.

It’s the public debate of ideas and values that leads to social change and it’s their debate in Parliament that enshrines those changes into law.

But while the latter is protected by Parliamentary Privilege, public debate in Australia is threatened by an overbearing Racial Discrimination Act and its hypersensitive Section 18c. If free speech is muzzled, we can’t be sure our society evolves in the direction the community wants it to.

The freedom of speech debate has never been an argument about limitless speech. Freedom of speech is not absolute and nor should it ever be, as no reasonable person could possibly support, for instance, the expression of views that induce unjust violence or that intentionally mislead for commercial gain or legal advantage. This is really a debate about where we draw the line.

Section 18c draws the line at the point where a statement relating to race is interpreted as being insulting and it offers special redress when it is. Taking this principle to its full logical conclusion, if legal protection should be afforded to hurt feelings on one basis, why shouldn’t it extend equally to a range of other sensitivities such as speech that is insulting on the basis of religion or gender? Why exclude speech that insults someone on the basis of their politics or their class?

After all, it wasn’t racial but religious rhetoric with which pro-islamist rioters intimidated and insulted non-believers in Hyde Park, Sydney.

It wasn’t racial but class rhetoric with which anti-capitalist protestors humiliated and insulted mainstream Australians during the Occupy protests.

It wasn’t racial but political rhetoric with which dock workers intimidated and insulted their colleagues during the waterfront dispute.

Historical examples are plenty but Section 18c also threatens the most important of debates here and now.

The Government plans to specifically recognise Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders in the Constitution but discussion of who is and is not an Aboriginal person for the purpose of this amendment may well fall foul of the law. So Section 18c may literally prevent Australians from commenting freely on changes to their own Constitution.

Section 18d was envisaged to provide a number of exceptions to the sanctions of Section 18c for scenarios like journalism, art and academic debate. However in doing so it invites a judge to decide whether you hold your view “in good faith” and whether or not it is “reasonable” of you to do so before he or she decides whether they’ll let you off.

Australia did not become the civilised, culturally advanced society that it is by chance or by having our thoughts vetted by the judiciary. We got here through an evolution of ideas, values and beliefs and having them validated or otherwise by the best test there is: public debate.

That Federal Council passed a motion calling for removal of the words “offend” and “insult” from the Racial Discrimination Act will, I hope, inspire further attention to the matter from in the Parliamentary Liberal Party.


Other countries 'airy-fairy' on climate change, says Tony Abbott

The Abbott government does not get enough credit for its emissions reduction policies, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said, as he revealed Australia will not announce post-2020 climate targets until August.

Mr Abbott told a media conference on Monday that targets Australia will take to a global climate summit in Paris at the end of the year will not be made public until after a cabinet meeting at the beginning of August.

But he said the difference between Australia and the rest of the world was that "when we make commitments to reduce emissions we keep them".  "Other countries make all these airy-fairy promises that never come to anything," Mr Abbott said.

Australia is the only developed country that has given no indication of what level of emissions reductions it is prepared to take on.

The government has previously said it would reveal Australia's targets in July, and an announcement was widely expected this week to coincide with the Major Economies Forum in the United States.

Mr Abbott was asked about Australia's likely target after New Zealand revealed its target of 30 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 – a figure condemned by climate experts as not ambitious enough to avoid the globally agreed 2 degrees of warming.

"I'm not going to speculate in advance of a decision by the cabinet and the party room," he said.  "We flagged that we would finalise our position about the middle of the year and we've got a party room meeting coming up at the beginning of August.

"I'm not going to flag any final position in advance of due process and proper consideration."

But he gave an assurance the figure reached by the government would be a "strong" one.  "We'll take a very strong and credible position to Paris," Mr Abbott said.

"This government doesn't get enough credit, Australia doesn't get enough credit, for the emissions reduction work that we have already done.

"We don't get enough credit for the environmental protection that has already been achieved and, while I'm on the subject, let me again congratulate [Environment Minister] Greg Hunt for his work in getting the Great Barrier Reef taken off the World Heritage Commission endangered list."

Australia's emissions are the highest per capita of any country in the developed world.

Erwin Jackson, deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute, said Australia and Japan were the last two developed economies to formally announce post 2020 targets, although Japan has given some indication of what its target will be.

"But the core issue is the target will need to be strong and it will need to be credible if it's to be a foundation for stable and effective climate policy in Australia," Mr Jackson said.

The independent Climate Change Authority has urged Australia to adopt an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent on 2000 levels by 2030, which is equal to 36 per cent on 2005 levels

When compared with other developed nations, the recommendations would put Australia ahead of the US, which has a 26 to 28 per cent target by 2025 and well in front of Canada's 30 per cent target on 2005 levels by 2030.

They would place Australia roughly on par with Germany and Switzerland, but behind Britain.

Australia's current target is to reduce emissions by 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020, which is roughly equivalent to a target of 13 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020.

The Climate Council said only Canada, which withdrew from the Kyoto Agreement, was not on track to meet its current emission reduction promises.

Mr Hunt, who has previously said the government would reveal its new targets in July, said on Monday the announcement would be "in the coming weeks". He suggested Australia's target might surprise people and that it would be bigger than some expected.

"We are actually ahead of where I had hoped to be. We are in a remarkably strong position," Mr Hunt said.

"We will have a strong and I think more ambitious target than others would have previously expected. So I couldn't be more pleased and more delighted."

Australia became the first country in the world last year to axe a price on carbon when the government repealed Labor's carbon tax and replaced it with Direct Action, a policy to pay polluters to reduce their emissions.

The first auctions under the Emissions Reduction Fund took place in April, with the government pledging $660 million out of a possible $2.5 billion for 144 projects.

It is unclear when the second round of auctions under the scheme will occur.


Competition with a vengeance

People have been moaning about the Coles/Woolworths "duopoly" for years.  It is no more.  It has been defeated by capitalism

WHEN Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder suggested the tax affairs of rival supermarket chain Aldi be “looked at” last month, he possibly didn’t expect this.

The usually secretive German discounter has opened its books to show its sales and pre-tax profits have more than doubled since 2010, giving Woolies, Coles and independent rivals more reason than ever to be concerned.

In a submission to the government’s Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance and minimisation, Aldi issued a three-year snapshot of its accounts between 2010 and 2013. In that time, its pre-tax earnings surged from $121 million to $261 million, while sales ballooned from $3.14 billion to $6 billion, The Australian reports.

Aldi already claims an 11 per cent slice of Australia’s $90 billion grocery market, with major expansion plans for South Australia and Western Australia in the pipeline.

The growth figures put Aldi’s much bigger rivals in the shade, particularly Woolworths, which has suffered a slump in sales in recent years, coming second to Coles in the battle for the weekly grocery shop.

The Senate submission, made by Aldi CEO Thomas Daunt, shows Aldi’s total revenue rise from $3.139 billion in 2010, to $3.52 billion in 2011, $4.16 billion in 2012 to reach $4.998 billion in 2013.
Its average pre-tax profit grew 31 per cent between 2010 and 2013, compared to 13.8 per cent for Coles and just 7.13 per cent for Woolies, according to The Australian.

Mr Daunt hit back at suggestions by Mr Goyder, head of Coles parent company Wesfarmers, that Aldi might be dodging some of its Australian tax responsibilities by pointing out that the Australian Taxation Officie had given the company a “low risk” rating under its risk differentiation framework for GST and income tax.

“The actual income tax paid by the Aldi Australia Group over the four-ear period to 31 December, 2013, is $238 million, which represents an average of $60 million per annum over the same period,” Mr Daunt said.

“Aldi … does not engage in the inappropriate pricing of international related-party transactions for the purposes of artificially reducing taxable profits in Australia.”


13 July, 2015

Does criticism of multiculturalists imply racism?

Concerning criticism that drew attention to the Greek background of controversial Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios:

I am not entirely in agreement with the thoughts below, though they do have some merit.  I see Dawn Fraser's words as an acknowledgement of multiculturalism.  The very idea of multiculturalism implies a recognition that cultures differ.  And what is acceptible in one culture may be unacceptable in others.  And Australia is unequivocally multicultural.

So if Fraser saw an Australian-born product of Greek culture as lazy and not making an effort, that could be an accurate recognition of a cultural difference.  Given the parasitical tendencies of the Greek nation presently on worldwide dispay, how can we say she was wrong? 

It's certainly politically incorrect to mention any negative features of multiculturalism but that is just prejudging the matter.  It certainly says nothing about the truth of a matter.  It forbids truths of some sorts from being uttered but it does not abolish them

Fraser was entitled to her views and she should have been tolerated when uttering them, not condemned.  The Leftist myth that all minority cultures have nothing negative about them is absurd

 Dawn Fraser's apology for her inappropriate 'go back to where you came from' comments about tennis player Nick Kyrgios needs to be kept in perspective regarding the extent of racism in Australia.

One interpretation is sure to be that Fraser's ill-judged remarks illustrate the 'dark underbelly of prejudice that persists in this country as a legacy of the White Australia policy'.

But what this incident really shows is how far we have come as a nation in refusing to tolerate intolerance.

Compare the current situation to when the White Australia legislation was passed by the federal parliament in 1901.

All of our first four Prime Ministers spoke during the debate. Three (Barton, Watson and Reid) advanced arguments that today would be condemned as racist and see them drummed out of public life.

The fourth (Deakin) was so embarrassed by his colleagues' racial prejudice that he argued it was actually the good qualities of 'alien' peoples such as the Japanese that explained why Australians were so determined to keep them out of the country.

The story of how we overcame our racist heritage and became one of the most successful multiracial nations in the world is a long and important one. I tell some of this tale in my article included in the free speech issue of the latest Policy magazine.

The takeaway is that we can rely on our culture of tolerance to curb bigoted speech and don't need laws like Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act that can be exploited to curtail legitimate free speech and debates about important public issues.

This is supported by the events of this week. The public outcry the comments provoked showed Fraser had crossed a line with regards to acceptable speech and forced her to issue an 'unreserved apology'.

This shows we can rely on the culture, and not the law, to protect people from racially insulting speech.


Australian union afraid of Chinese competition

If anybody needs competition to straighten them out the CFMEU  does.  They might have been listened too if they had been less hostile and obstructionist to everyone.  They have constantly broken the law and used violence to rip off builders.  It was unionist dislike of Chinese workers that inspired the White Australia policy enacted in 1901. So is the CFMEU racist too?  It seems so
A national television advertising campaign highlighting flaws in the Abbott Government’s recently signed free trade agreement with China will begin airing from tonight, warning that the deal will leave Australian workers “without a hope.”

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union advertisements — which will begin tonight in the ACT, Tasmania and Queensland — come as the union accused Trade Minister Andrew Robb of deliberately misleading the Australian public in his attempts to promote the agreement.

The commercial, which features the faces of young Australian’s in trades that will be opened up to Chinese workers without the need for existing mandatory skills assessments, warns that: “instead of creating jobs for Australians, the Abbott Government’s deal allows Chinese companies to bring in their own workers, leaving Australian workers without a hope.”

CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor hit back at attacks by Mr Robb on the union campaign against key elements of the free trade agreement, accusing him of publishing deliberately misleading and untrue statements in a Ministerial media release issued on July 7.

“Mr Robb appears to be deliberately misleading the Australian public about key details of this free trade agreement with China,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Among these deceptive statements is Mr Robb’s claim that a Chinese company investing more than $150 million in Australian infrastructure projects ‘must use Australian workers, unless it can prove that there are no qualified Australian workers to do the job’, which is completely untrue.

“As is his claim that ‘even then, an investor may only be approved to bring in a limited number of qualified workers with the specific skills required for a limited period of time.’

“The facts are that any company contracted to work on such a project — whether Chinese or Australian based — can use unlimited numbers of Chinese workers in all 651 skilled occupations covered by the 457 visa with no legal obligation to advertise jobs to prove there are no qualified Australian workers available.”

Mr O’Connor also attacked Mr Robb’s claim that “these are the same major project provisions that Labor introduced when in office.”

“Labor’s Enterprise Migration Agreements required a project to be worth $2 billion — with a workforce of at least 1,500 people,” he said.

“Mr Robb’s IFA’s have no minimum workforce size, only need a total project expenditure of $150 million, and only require Chinese investment to be 15 per cent of that.

“Another of his claims, that the China free trade agreement ‘does not change the skills and experience requirements’ for an application for a temporary skilled visa to work in Australia, is also false.

“The ChAFTA agreement includes a side letter — signed personally by Andrew Robb — stating that for 10 skilled occupations, including electricians, mechanics and carpenters, mandatory skills assessments will no longer be required.

“These mandatory skills assessments are currently required for workers from China, as well as many other countries, and are being removed directly as a result of this agreement.

“In its rush to secure an agreement, the Abbott Government appears to have been outsmarted or outmanoeuvred by the Chinese government, to the detriment of Australian workers and businesses.

“They are now too embarrassed to admit key elements of the agreement may be a mistake, instead attacking unions who highlight the negative impacts this free trade deal will have on Australian jobs, workplace safety, and consumer protections.”

Press release from the CFMEU

Federal govt defends wind farm blocking

LABOR says the nation's clean energy bank will be left to fund "flying saucers" after being told by the government not to invest in wind energy projects.

THE $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has been ordered to focus on new technologies instead of wind farms under a revised mandate drafted by the government.  The government says the change is not new but came as part the deal over the renewable energy target reached with Senate crossbenchers in June. Prime Minister Tony Abbott believes it will provide certainty for the sector.

The plan was always to abolish the corporation entirely, he said.
"But while it exists, we believe we should be investing in new and emerging technology - certainly not existing wind farms," he told reporters in Darwin on Sunday.

The opposition mocked the move, accusing the government of sabotaging the future of renewable energy industry. "The guidelines now being proposed ... mean that the only thing the CEFC can invest in is flying saucers," Labor leader Bill Shorten said. "Because anything which is any closer to development Mr Abbott is saying is an established technology."

Environment Minister Greg Hunt lashed out at reports he was left out of the decision, denying it was made without his approval. He says he approved it with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. "Claims that I have been angered are a complete, absolute and utter fabrication," he tweeted on Sunday.

The Australian Greens branded the change a "vindictive form of industrial sabotage".

Wind farm groups said the "senseless" decision would be the final nail in the coffin for the industry.

The Clean Energy Council said having an overt directive against wind investment would affect the nation's ability to attract jobs and investment.

Mr Abbott has previously said he found wind farms "visually awful" and noisy.


Options for over-crowding in schools

Enrolments in inner city Sydney public primary schools have doubled in the last five years. Most of these schools have reached capacity, and it is likely that the demand for schools in the inner city will continue to grow.

The NSW government has recently discarded plans to build a new school on an old industrial site in Ultimo, reportedly due to the cost of remediating the site to make it safe. While most of the debate has been about whether these cost estimates were over-estimated, the larger question is about how governments can respond to fluctuations in demand for school places, especially where land prices are high. No government wants to risk spending hundreds of millions of dollars building a new school only to find that enrolments are lower than predicted.

NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli has suggested a couple of options instead of building the new school: expand enrolment zones to allow inner-city residents to attend schools in neighbouring suburbs that may have space; accommodate students in demountable classrooms; and refuse to enrol international students in over-subscribed schools.

These are short-term and counterproductive solutions. Eventually, inner suburban schools will fill up too, demountable classrooms are far from ideal learning environments, and international students are a valuable source of revenue. International students pay between $10,000 and $13,500 per year to attend NSW public schools. On this basis, the 1153 students in inner city public schools contribute up to $15.5 million per year to the NSW education budget. One might think it was worthwhile to encourage their enrolment.

Another possibility is to alter school funding arrangements to encourage the establishment of privately-managed public schools in the city. In the US, UK, Sweden and New Zealand, governments have enacted 'charter' or 'free' school policies, which provide full public recurrent funding to private organisations to operate schools, in exchange for the schools meeting a number of requirements - they must have open enrolment, they cannot charge fees, and they are accountable for their performance. These schools usually adapt existing buildings or raise private capital to build new ones. In this way, the capital risk is privatised, but students are still able to access a 'public' school.

Governments in Australia have resisted the charter/free school trend despite evidence that they can work very well if governance arrangements are strong. In the inner city, necessity may force a change of mind.


12 July, 2015

Antarctic blast begins to bite: Heavy snow falls in southern states, 90km/h blizzards set to batter NSW and drivers urged to stay off the roads as temperatures plummet to lowest in 15 YEARS

At mid-afternoon in Brisbane on Saturday it was 22 degrees!

Emergency services are on high alert as the Antarctic blast is beginning to hit the southern and eastern coast of Australia and people have been warned to batten down the hatches ahead of the worst of the storms overnight and into Sunday.

Damaging 'blizzard intensity' winds of 90km/h in NSW are causing havoc across NSW, and snow is also falling in South Australia and Victoria as conditions worsen.

NSW Police has appealed for all drivers to take extra care on the roads, as thousands of families return home after the school holidays. The warning calls for people to avoid 'risky behaviour'.

A State Emergency Service spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia people should avoid travel all together if possible, as roads become potentially deadly in 'icy conditions'.

It also advised people to move cars undercover, put away or secure loose items at home and be aware of falling trees and power lines.

The freezing front began to roll across the country on Friday afternoon, delivering conditions not seen in 15 years, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Temperatures are expected to fall to zero or below across large parts of Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, with bitterly cold winds and hail also forecast. Snow is predicted to reach as far north as Queensland, after already falling across Victoria, South Australia and NSW.

The snow spread is forecast to reach further north than it has since 2000.

Sydney and Melbourne can expect average low temperatures of 8 degrees for the weekend, while Canberra will be hit with a freezing 4 - but it could feel as cold as -1 due to the wind chill.

Brisbane will likely end the weekend soaked, with heavy rain predicted across most of the state, in addition to potential snow in areas of higher-elevation. [Didn't happen.  A few light showers only]


Stand up and be counted on electoral roll fraud

WHILE NSW Labor MP ­Noreen Hay stands aside as NSW Opposition whip pending the outcome of an Australian Federal Police investigation into allegations of electoral roll fraud, it might be an excellent time to conduct a wider ­inquiry into electoral fraud across the nation.

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) is to conduct two new inquiries, with submissions closing next week, but the terms of reference seem to deliberately avoid electoral roll fraud.

The first inquiry will deal with electoral education, the second with behaviour at polling places and ­campaigning activities.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has performed woefully for years. Lex Stewart, the president of Australians for Honest Elections, ­estimates there may be at least 200,000 false enrolments on the electoral roll.

He said the integrity of the roll had worsened over the years and was now in a state of crisis. It is almost 20 years since the AEC stopped making home visits to physically check claims of residence.

Stewart said four reports by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2014 pointed to the poor state of the roll and the potential for ballot papers to “go missing”.  The 1370 lost in the WA Senate election were merely “the tip of the iceberg”, he said.

With the roll in disrepair and without checks, massive voting fraud could easily occur and change the outcome of a federal election.

Apart from the potential for people to switch electorates in order to give their votes greater weight in marginal seats, there is the capacity for false enrolments to gift political parties with hundreds of thousands of dollars in electoral funding.

If the JSCEM is to hold an inquiry, it should make it meaningful.
The concerns of the ANAO ­deserve to be addressed and the public needs to be assured their votes will count and will not be discounted because of voters rorting elections.


Australian bureaucrat wears Confederate-themed shirt -- gets prize

Australia is not America

THE decision of a senior Northern Territory bureaucrat to wear a Confederate flag to a recent dinner was totally inappropriate, Senator Nova Peris says.

MARK Coffey, the NT manager in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, won best dressed man at the annual Central Australian Beef Breeders dinner on Saturday in a shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag, the American Civil War emblem linked to white supremacy and racism.

"We're trying to move on from those days, we're trying to build a more inclusive country.... I think wearing that - I call it a costume - you have to think you're going to draw criticism, and rightly so," Ms Peris said.

SOURCE (Nova Peris is black)

ABC-SBS Asian soccer war costs public extra $700,000

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Malcolm Turnbull has demanded that ABC managing director Mark Scott and SBS chief executive Michael Ebeid explain why the two public broadcasters went head-to-head for the free-to-air broadcast rights to soccer’s Asian Cup.

By competing against each other, the broadcasters increased the cost to taxpayers by about $700,000.

SBS submitted a bid of about 700,00 to broadcast the games, which begin in Australia in January, but the public broadcaster has been told its bid was unsuccessful.

The ABC, while still in final nego­tiations, is understood to be the successful candidate, with a proposed payment for the free-to-air broadcast rights of up to $1.4 million.

Mr Turnbull told The Weekend Australian he has asked the ABC and SBS to explain why they engaged in a bidding war, especially given the need for them to become more efficient.

“The efficiency study of the ABC and SBS identified five key areas that may lead to significant operational efficiencies or savings, the first of which was that the two broadcasters look for opportunities for greater co-operation, while retaining their separate and unique programming identities,’’ Mr Turnbull said. “In this instance, it appears taxpayers have been the losers by this advice being ignored. I have asked the two CEOs for an explanation.”

The ABC dominated headlines for a week when it implied its program Lateline could face the axe due to budget cuts but, as The Australian revealed on Friday, it is paying Google thousands of dollars for lead position on search terms such as “politics news”.

On Tuesday, it outbid its commercial rivals to buy a Google search ad for Gough Whitlam’s death.

Commercial media organisations were infuriated by Mr Scott’s use of taxpayer funds to drive traffic away from their news sites, which, unlike the government-funded broadcaster, rely on subscription and advertising revenue for survival.

Opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare called for an investigation into the practice but the ABC’s director of audience and marketing, Leisa Bacon, said the broadcaster had an obligation to have its content seen by as many people possible.

She denied the ABC was spending $10,000 a month on search engine marketing, saying the figure was closer to a 10th of that.

Mr Scott, who has refused a longstanding interview request with The Weekend Australian, is likely to be grilled on the Asian Cup and the buy-up of Google search ads when Senate estimate hearings are rescheduled.

The Weekend Australian understands that SBS, long considered the home of soccer, was disappointed to miss out on the cup rights.

Fox Sports, owned by News Corp Australia, publisher of The Weekend Australian, holds the overall rights to the Asian Cup, the region’s biggest soccer tournament. Football Federation Australia and Fox Sports are likely to grant the free-to-air rights to the ABC because of its national audience.

“Soccer has got a lot of momentum at the moment, so allowing a new audience at the ABC to see this with international teams playing is a good thing for football and for our country,” a source close to the negotiations said.

“It would help the momentum football already has.”

The SBS bid of $700,000 was a break-even assessment of the revenue and advertising the event could return to the public broadcaster. SBS and Fox Sports declined to comment yesterday.

An ABC spokesman said it would be proud to show key games. The Asian Cup was an international event that will reach a large, diverse audience.

“No deal has yet been signed for the Asian Cup, however, we can say discussions with the FFA and Fox Sports have been conducted in good faith and there has been no bidding process for the event,’’ he said.

The Asian Cup Australia is already receiving funds, from the federal, Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victorian governments.


'Just go': Former Labor chief calls on Bill Shorten to QUIT

Bill Shorten should resign in the wake of his appearance before the trade union royal commission, a former ALP national secretary says.

Bob Hogg's call comes after it was revealed the opposition leader only declared on Monday a $40,000 donation made by labour-hire company Unibilt in 2007.

'Bill, do something for the ALP. It is simple. Just go,' Mr Hogg wrote on social media on Wednesday night.

Nine Network's political editor Laurie Oakes also told breakfast show Today that this could be the end for Mr Shorten, as the Federal Labor leader is 'so down in the dumps anyway, so down in people's estimation, he couldn't afford what happened yesterday'.

Mr Shorten, the former Australian Workers Union Victorian and national secretary, fronted the unions royal commission in Sydney on Wednesday. He is expected to appear again on Thursday.

Mr Hogg attacked Mr Shorten in an open letter on social media hours after the inquiry, which revealed the Federal Labor leader failed to declare a company's donation to his 2007 election campaign until this month.

'Dear Bill - is the concept of conflict of interest beyond your understanding?' Mr Hogg wrote, Fairfax Media reports.

'Really?' he continued. 'His campaign director was paid for by a company whose employees were covered by Bill's AWU, and therefore, as union members, deserved their interest to be protected to the maximum.

'The payment wasn't declared until Bill was reminded eight years later: a real lapse of memory, sloppy book-keeping or a hope no-one would notice. Take your pick.'

While Mr Oakes says yesterday's inquiry has done some damage for Mr Shorten, he predicts the opposition leader will 'still lead the Labor party into the next election'.

'People are saying there is no smoking gun being revealed at the commission… he's bruised but he'll get over it,' Mr Oakes said on Thursday morning on Channel Nine.

'Sure, this royal commission is a political exercise, there's no doubt about that. But the point is, is it effective? Well it's aimed a fair bit of damage already and he's due in the box again today.'

Yesterday, after arriving more than two hours early and swearing an oath on the Bible, Mr Shorten faced a series of questions from senior counsel Jeremy Stoljar about the staff involved in the 2007 campaign which propelled him into federal office.

In late 2006 or early 2007, Mr Shorten met with labour hire company Unibilt boss Ted Lockyer and the-then AWU national secretary asked whether the company could provide a research officer, Lance Wilson, the commission heard.

Mr Wilson was put on the books of Unibilt as a 'research officer', but Mr Shorten told the commission he actually acted as his 'campaign director' in his run for the Labor-held seat of Maribyrnong.

Mr Stoljar told the commission the total amount paid by Unibilt came to $40,000, with a further $12,000 written off by the AWU. It was a $50,000 plus job.

Asked whether he declared the donation to the Australian Electoral Commission, Mr Shorten said: 'It has come to my attention that the declaration hasn't been made until very recently.'  Asked how recently, he said: 'In the last few days.'

Mr Shorten said he had signed an official declaration in early 2008 that did not mention the donation. 'What I did once I saw all the royal commission papers, I went back and I have sought legal advice, worked out what needed to be done and I have now completed that,' he said.

Not declaring an election donation is a criminal offence carrying a maximum 12-month sentence.

Mr Stoljar continued to quiz Mr Shorten on whether the company - which was negotiating an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) with the AWU - had used the donation of the staff member to seek favour.

'Not to my knowledge at all,' Mr Shorten said, denying he was involved in the EBA negotiations.

'Isn't that a situation in which you're using your position as national secretary to gain an advantage for yourself, namely a full-time campaign worker?' Mr Stoljar asked.

'Absolutely not,' Mr Shorten replied.

Mr Shorten asked the commission to keep secret the name of a female part-time staffer who also worked on his campaign team in 2007.  The woman was paid by the AWU's national office, the commission heard.  'She has asked me not to reveal her name in this royal commission, but I am happy to write it down for you,' Mr Shorten said.  'Sometimes being mentioned in the commission can embarrass people, even when they are perfectly innocent.'

Mr Stoljar proposed the woman be described as 'the mystery person'.  But Mr Shorten objected, saying she should be described as the 'second campaign worker'.


10 July, 2015


Four current articles below

Climate scientists: More scared of an inquiry into the science than they are of climate change

What’s more terrifying to a climate scientist than “2 degrees” of warming? Answer: Half a degree of hard questions.

Australian climate scientists don’t complain at all when the UN says it wants to redirect $89 Trillion in a quest to change the climate. But they are suddenly all concerned that the Australian Government might waste 0.0001% investigating the science. A disaster!  Since when were climate scientists concerned about wasting public money? Since never.

A group of thirteen scientists, who’ve personally achieved little in the way of scientific advances, have written to Dennis Jensen and Chris Back offering to brief them on the “latest science”, afraid the skeptics might launch an inquiry into the science.  The ABC calls them “prominent”

Isn’t the scientific evidence the most important thing?

Surveys show half of the Australian public are skeptical — unconvinced by their claims that coal will cause a climate crisis or that solar panels can stop the storms. Right now, if the climate is headed for a disaster, nothing is more important than convincing the public. Instead, the climate scientists keep repeating that the debate is over, “trust us”, and “don’t ask questions”. But the debate never happened, the public don’t trust them, and we have many many questions — and they are not going away.

In a Reuters poll, 57% of people said they don’t think UN Climate Scientists can speak with authority on climate. Some scientists keep repeating that there is a consensus, but that spin isn’t working. More of the same isn’t going to change that. It’s time for a real debate.

If the evidence was overwhelming, 95% certain, the climate scientists would welcome the attention. But it’s a gambit they played ten years ago, and the game is over. Skeptics know the case for a crisis will fall over with the merest honest inspection. The unskeptical scientists know it too — that’s why they are so afraid the Coalition might really call their bluff and demand real answers.

The laws of physics are the same in every field

If there is a climate crisis, real scientists would have no trouble convincing other scientists from other fields, but that’s not what we are seeing. Increasingly scientists from other branches of science are protesting, and in their thousands. They are fed up at the way the scientific method is being abused and milked for press attention.

There is no consensus amongst scientists – only among certified “climate” scientists, paid by government. Almost half  of meteorologists are skeptics (crikey!), survey after survey shows that two-thirds of geoscientists and engineers are skeptics, and most readers of skeptical blogs (who chose to respond to surveys and list their qualifications in  comments) have hard science degrees.

Dan Kahan conducted a survey and found people who knew more about maths and science were more likely to be skeptical. In other words, skeptics were better informed about science. See the  qualifications of 400 skeptics here.

How weak is their scientific position?

Dennis Jensen pointed out 97% of models did not predict “the Pause”. So Professor Hoegh-Guldberg simply denied there is a pause. (Hello? What about those satellites? Ignoring most of the big climate temperature data sets?) Probably the only paper in Professor Hoegh-Guldberg’s arsenal is the recent Karl et al one, which ignored the best ocean gauges and used a wildly uncertain estimate to blend two bad data sets together. What’s the certainty? The data was corrected with a figure where the error was 17 times larger than the correction: 0.12 ± 1.7°C. See, exotic adventures in global climate data to unfind “the Pause”. They must be kidding.

Hoegh-Guldberg says 18 years of a global temperature pause is “short term”:

But Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said that was a short-term perspective.  “When you look at the literature, there’s been no hiatus,” he said.

“There’s random variability around the upward signal of temperature.  “It’s just like the stock market. If you look at that it’s going up and down but it’ll have a trend — that trend is what we’re watching.  “[It's] not whether it’s going up or down over a period of 10 years — it’s a long-term signal.”

18 years. 10 years, what’s the difference? It’s only math. ;- )

And oh, yes, please, Hoegh-Guldberg, let’s look at the long term. How many of the IPCC favourite climate models “predicted” the medieval warm period? How many can model the holocene optimum? None and zero. None of their models understand the climate.

M.P.s who understand science are harder to fool

Senator Chris Back is trained in veterinary science. Dennis Jensen has a PhD in physics. Both are happy to listen to the “experts”, but neither will be convinced by weak claims of “consensus”.

Mr Jensen said he was willing to meet the scientists to hear their views.

“I’m open to being convinced but the data and the evidence that I’ve seen [on climate change] thus far certainly I don’t find compelling,” he said.

He claimed that pointing to a scientific consensus on climate science “indicates your argument is weak”.  “When is the last time you heard the consensus of the world scientists is that the earth is roughly spherical?” he said.

“You get the appeal to consensus when the data and the evidence is weak and it’s an appeal to authority rather than examining the data and the evidence.”

Senator Back said he was happy to meet the scientists.

As “a person with a scientific background”, Senator Back said he was concerned by claims that “the science is in and no-one should challenge it”. He is trained as a veterinarian and does not have expertise in climate science.  In response to their concerns, the best the experts can offer is “trust us”

“Exhaustive” and “experts” are just words, not evidence:

Professor Peter Newman, a signatory to the letter and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the panel’s research was an “exhaustive” process.

He said the political debate around climate change action was legitimate but ”frustrating”.

Professor Newman said MPs should “just deal with the politics, that’s their job”, adding “the scientists have done their job”.

Professor Hughes said MPs who cast doubt on the science of global warming were trying to delay political progress on the issue.


New coal-mine approved for Australia

The Abbott government was under fire Thursday after approving a huge Chinese-run coal mine near prime farmland, sparking division in its own ranks with Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce complaining that "the world has gone mad".

Joyce called the decision "ridiculous" after Chinese company Shenhua was granted approval for the $1 billion Watermark mine near Gunnedah in New South Wales state, under 18 conditions the government said were among the strictest in Australia's history.

"I've never supported the Shenhua mine. I think it is ridiculous that you would have a major mine in the midst of Australia's best agricultural land," Joyce said on Facebook about the project, which is in his constituency.

Large-scale mining in rural areas and concerns about valuable agricultural and mineral assets passing into foreign hands is a hot topic in Australia, with the government earlier this year tightening scrutiny on overseas investment in farmland.

The NSW Farmers Association blasted the Shenhua move as the government turning a "food bowl into coal". The area is known for its rich black soil, excellent water resources and ideal climate.

It said the Shenhua Watermark Coal Project, with a mine life of 30 years, would "disturb an area of over 4,000 football fields in size, in the middle of some of Australia's best farming country".

But Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who approved the mine this week, said he had listened to community concerns and put strict conditions on the mine, with Shenhua needing to complete water and biodiversity management plans before any mining starts.

"There will be no impact on the availability of water for agriculture," Hunt said.

Another condition includes the power to stop mining if there were any effects on agricultural water supply. In the event that it did occur, the mine must immediately provide an alternative water supply to farmers.

National broadcaster ABC said a legal challenge had been launched by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission in a last ditch bid to halt the mine, on claims officials failed to properly consider the impact on a local koala population.


Nuclear power and waste storage proposed for South Australia

THINGS are looking grim for the South Australian economy, and everyone is trying to think of ways to kickstart growth. But is building a nuclear waste dump really the best idea?

South Australia has the worst unemployment rate in Australia, which hit 7.6 per cent in May, the highest since 2001. New figures out today showed it grew to 8.2 per cent in June.

University of Adelaide Associate Professor John Spoehr told The Advertiser the state was “on a pathway to double digit unemployment in the absence of major new investment in infrastructure and construction projects”.

In this atmosphere Liberal senator for South Australia Sean Edwards has floated his ambitious new plan for a nuclear power plant and waste storage that promises economic growth and which could potentially see state taxes abolished and free electricity for residents.

In February a poll for The Advertiser revealed 58.3 per cent of its readers were supportive of building a nuclear power plant in the state. Now state Labor Premier Jay Weatherill, who has acknowledged that the state is in transition with some industries in decline, has formed a Royal Commission to look into the idea.

Money does talk, and Senator Edwards believes nuclear could be an “economic game changer”.


A strong cold front is set to deliver heavy snow and wild winds for much of Australia

Where's that global warming?

THE most powerful cold front to cross Australia’s southeast in years will hit this weekend with forecasters warning of freezing conditions.

The weather event will start on Saturday and unusually cold conditions are expected to last until the middle of next week.

Weatherzone says South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the ACT, Queensland and the Northern Territory will experience the coldest spell in at least two years, and more than five years in some places.

Snow is forecast to fall in areas of Australia’s south east down to 600 metres, including in some Melbourne suburbs and in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

“Snow should fall almost right along the Victorian and NSW ranges, falling as low as 600 metres, most likely in southernmost parts.”

This means great news for Ski resorts who have been struggling to open runs after one of the worst starts to the snow season on record.

Victorian and New South Wales alpine areas are likely to receive at least 50cm of fresh powder.

The nation’s capital can expect an average maximum of about 8C over four days, the coldest since June 2009.

Rainfall wise, the heaviest falls will be in eastern Victoria and south-eastern New South Wales where up to 50mm is possible.

“These showers will at times and in some places contain small hail and combining with the bitterly cold and strong winds will add to an already exceptional chill, making the actual temperature feel as much as five degrees colder.”

The situation is being closely monitored and warnings will be issued in each state, as required, as conditions deteriorate.

In the meantime, Perth has recorded its coldest night of the year as the mercury plunged below zero in some suburbs.

The official temperature in the capital dipped to 0.8C while suburbs in the cities south east fell to -1.5C.



Taxpayer-supported Broadcaster against Israel and democracy

Bill Shorten’s parliamentary secretary has joined the chorus of complaint over the ABC’s Q&A, describing it as an “awful program” with a “hardline” agenda.

Melbourne Ports MP Mich­ael Danby has used an opinion piece in today’s Australian Jewish News to question ABC managing director Mark Scott’s supervision of the program as the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief.

“Giving Zaky Mallah a leg-up is not the main problem,” Mr Danby said in a statement yesterday. “The problem is ... TV producers with hardline political agendas, operating in the shadows, distorting the public debate, and shifting it in a direction that only the ‘enlightened vanguard’ like them appreciate.”

Mr Danby hit out at Q&A’s culture. “‘If it bleeds, it leads’ is the old TV news maxim,’’ he said. “The desire for sensa­tionalism is worry enough. But equally worry­ing is the political paradigm in which Q&A’s senior staff operate. Their agenda is anti-Labor leftist, anti-Israel, even sometimes anti-democratic.

“Mr Scott seems oblivious to Q&A’s abiding agenda. Or perhaps he privately agrees with it?”

Mr Danby appeared to endorse security concerns raised by the government over Mallah’s appearance on the show last month. “While we can and should contemptuously laugh at the loon, we also dare not forget that ... (Man Haron) Monis was presumed a harmless attention-seeker too,” he said.

“It’s in this context that the Q&A high command decreed Mallah an acceptable guest. They knew his record.”

In separate comments made to Jewish community website J-Wire, Mr Danby flagged that he would not appear on Q&A: “While it’s their party and they invite who they want to, it’s worth looking at the door-list to see what they would accept.”


The first Australians WERE Aborigines?

This claim is just theory.  The living reality of the pygmy people in North Queensland is ignored

They are the oldest population of humans living outside Africa and now researchers have confirmed that Aborigines really were the first people to inhabit Australia.

For decades anthropologists have debated whether the Australian continent was home to an earlier race of humans based on unusual rock paintings discovered in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The Bradshaw rock art, as they are known, are advanced paintings depicting figures with unusual body shapes, tassels and hair that are unlike any other rock art found in Australia.

This led some archaeologists to conclude they may have been painted by a group of people who arrived in Indonesia before the ancestors of modern day Aborigines.

The first ancestors of today'??s non-African peoples probably took a southern route through the Arabian Peninsula as early as 130,000 years ago, the researchers found.

The study is published by Professor Katerina Harvati and her team from the Institute for Archaeological Sciences at the University of Tuebingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Ferrara, Italy, and the National Museum of Natural History, France.

We've all got roots in Africa (if you go back 60,000 years)
However, Dr Michael Westaway, a biological anthropologist from Griffith University, in Queensland, has said the latest scientific evidence has shown that the Aborigines were the continents original inhabitants.

This means the paintings were in fact created by Aboriginal artists.

He said recent DNA evidence has shown that modern Aboriginal Australians are descended from the first modern humans that walked out of Africa nearly 75,000 years ago.

He claims Aborigines probably arrived in Australia at least 50,000 years ago.

In an interview with ABC Sydney, he said: ‘The DNA evidence is extraordinary. We know that they moved out of Africa over 60,000 years ago.

‘We have this remarkable trail that has been recovered for the genomic sequence of the first Australians.

’Many decades ago there were many hypotheses around but that hasn't really stood against any of the evidence.’

The genetic studies, which were conducted by a team led by evolutionary biologist Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for Ancient Genetics at the University of Copenhagen, were published in 2011.

They support growing archaeological evidence that the Australian Aborigines are one of the oldest cultures to exist on the planet.

Human remains found around Lake Mungo in New South Wales appear to match those of modern populations but date back some 42,000 years.

Dr Westaway said: ‘The morphology of Mungo Man is very similar to the first Australians of today.

‘We have some of the earliest evidence of first Australians in Arnhem Land 55,000 years ago.’


9 July, 2015

Grotesquely high rate of murder and violence towards women in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities

In aid of political correctness, the writer below initially highlights a few cases affecting whites.  I have not reproduced those mentions below. The writer does however get around to mentioning where most of the violence in the NT comes from:  Aboriginal communities.  I have seen with my own eyes the casual violence Aboriginal men visit on their women

I have lived in Darwin and people there certainly do like a drink and are not very politically correct but there are no big differences between the white people there and other white Australians.  They're mostly from other parts of Australia anyway

Everything that could be tried to improve Aboriginal behaviour has been tried, from paternalism to permissiveness.  The only remaining thing that could be done to protect the Aboriginal women and children would be a much beefed-up police presence in Aboriginal communities.  But governments shrink from that for both political and cost reasons. 

Aboriginal behaviour was much better when missionaries ran the communities but wild horses could not bring that back

The Northern Territory murder rate has soared, making it not only the homicide capital of Australia but outstripping New York City and western Europe.

Australian Institute of Criminology figures show the Top End has a homicide rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people, meaning only Africa, crime ridden South America, the war torn Middle East and a few spots in Asia and Eastern Europe are more dangerous.

Much of the Northern Territory violence is against women where those fortunate not to have been killed are 80 times more likely to be hospitalised for assault or injury, than women in any other state in Australia.

The NT's rate for murder and manslaughter is five times the average in all Australian states - which range between 1 and 1.4 - and at 5.5 is not far behind the global rate of 6.2. New York City, where murders have declined, has a rate of four. 

The world average takes into account violence in South American countries like Venezuela, which has a massive 53.7 murders per 100,000 population, the Caribbean where St Kitts and Nevis is 33.6 and African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (28.3).

The NT's 233,300 people means it is the least populous of Australia's eight states and territories spread over 1.34m sq km. It is one-third the size of India, and has .0002 of India's population, but 1.5 times India's murder rate.

But violence fuelled by poverty and substance abuse have contributed to hike in the rate of unnatural deaths.

Apart from terribly high rates of violence, unemployment is rife, and thousands of people are battling alcohol and gambling abuse, and addiction to cannabis and, increasingly, methamphetamine or ice.

In this place, up to 20 [Aboriginal] people live in some houses and children are stressed out and neglected.

In remote [Aboriginal] areas, up to 65 per cent of children attend school for fewer than three days a week and up to 60 per cent of them fail the national early developmental index which measures a child's ability to cope with starting school.

Murders, attempted murders or just assaults among family members or domestic partners are horrific in detail.

Many assaults are perpetrated by husbands or male partners on women. They include raping with wooden or metal objects, or murdering by repeatedly punched striking with available objects such as a saucepan, stones, concrete, axes, steel pipes, lumps of wood, star pickets, wheel braces or tools.

In one case of Northern Territory murder, a man who used a hose to whip his 32-year-old wife, stomping on her abdomen and dragging her naked body over rough ground, before raping her, and then bashing her with either a stick or metal pole, causing severe internal injuries, before finishing her off with a rock.

In another horrific case, which occurred at an [Aboriginal] outstation on the NT's remote Coburg Peninsula, which lies 570km north-east of Darwin, right at the top of the Territory, a 27-year-old man named Trenton Cunningham attacked his pregnant wife, Jodi Palipuaminni, mother of his four children.

Cunningham was on parole for assaulting Ms Palipuaminni with a steel bar and pouring boiling water over her, causing scalds that required skin grafts to 20 per cent of her body.

Over years of abuse, during which she had complained 29 times to health workers, Cunningham had whipped her with wire, kicked her pregnant stomach, and stabbed her with scissors.

In May 2005, he attacked her one last time because Ms Palipuaminni declined to bring him a cup of water.  No-one reported her screams for help and she was dead by morning. Cunningham's charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter and he was sentenced to a minimum 6.5 years.

In January, a swimming pool manager the remote Indigenous [Aboriginal] community of Yuendumu, 300 kilometres north west of Alice Springs was found dead.

Last December, Major Crime Squad Detectives charged a 39-year-old man with murder following the death of a 36-year-old woman in Charles Creek [Aboriginal] Camp in Alice Springs yesterday.

On a Saturday night in August last year,a group of men fatally assaulted a 48-year-old man in front of witnesses in a car park in central Darwin.

In November, 2013,  a man named Conway Stevenson was arrested over the death of his wife at the indigenous [Aboriginal] Bagot community, in the inner northern Darwin suburb of Ludmilla.

Hours before she was killed, the woman had stripped naked after Stevenson had told her , 'I don't want you any more'.

Later on Stevenson, looking for his wife, had told a woman, 'I’m going to murder her'.

The Australian Institute of Crime's Matthew Willis, said the rates of family violence among indigenous [Aboriginal] people was much higher than non-indigenous because 'it’s really hard for the Territory to provide community-based services — and it’s one of the issues for people living out in remote communities.

'There’s not a lot in the way of services particularly to address offending behaviours and to help for people trying to escape from family violence,' he told

South Australian university lecturer and anthropologist, Professor Peter Sutton, identified an area in Central Australia which included the Northern territory as a violent trouble spot.

'There is a tri-state area in the middle of Australia which is a Bermuda triangle for domestic violence against *Aboriginal*  women,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'People don't want to know, but how about women being raped by a burning fire stick or by a star picket?  'The society where this is going on is very different from the middle-class Aboriginal people that many people know.

"These are hair trigger communities where people fly into a rage in a second. People are under the influence of alcohol and there are beatings and stabbings. Resorting to physical violence is the norm.'

Dr Howard Bath, the Northern Territory's Children's Commissioner said statistics from the NT's five major government hospitals showed that in 2010 the number of non-indigenous females hospitalised for assault was 0.3 for every thousand women in the population.  The rate for indigenous females was 24.1 per thousand, or 80 times the rate.

'In numbers, that was 27 non-indigenous females being admitted, compared with 842 indigenous women being treated for assault,' he said.  'What we are looking at is a disastrous situation in terms of the risk of violence to indigenous women.

'These numbers are mind boggling. The rate of abuse of these women is enormously high and children are being exposed to this, resulting in very, very high rates of child neglect.'

Aboriginal men and to a lesser extent Aboriginal women and non-indigenous men were responsible for violence against Aboriginal women.

Dr Bath blamed alcohol and drug abuse, overcrowding and 'consistent unemployment'.  'Alcohol is the worst factor by a country mile,' he said. 'Between 60 and 70 per cent of violence is directly related to alcohol.

'The facts are generally known, but it's a delicate area. Most of the people who are familiar with the details don't want to put a set of shameful allegations against the Aboriginal community and in particular the menfolk.'


Not an English Country Garden

Some humour for a change: An older Australian on the difficulties of gardening in Australia.  Wait for it

Rogue building union faces $20m slap over strikes

THE CFMEU faces up to $20 million in fines for almost 100 days of allegedly illegal strikes and work stoppages.

The industrial watchdog is alleging in the Federal Court that the construction union ­organised prolonged unlawful industrial action at two John Holland construction sites — the $770 million Enoggera Army Barracks redevelopment and a $60 million project at QUT Kelvin Grove.

Fair Work Building and Construction alleges there were 411 breaches of workplace law at the two sites by the union between March and December 2013, each carrying a maximum penalty of $51,000.

It would mean $20 million in fines if the CFMEU lost on all counts and the court enforced the maximum penalty.

The FWBC will claim that unauthorised strike action — sparked by disagreement over the Enterprise Agreements — took place for up to six days at a time on each site over 10 months. It will also allege the CFMEU ignored an order from the Fair Work Commission in October 2013 to cease industrial action.

Court action has also been lodged by the FWBC against 21 union officers and agents ­who were alleged to be involved in the dispute.

It follows recent rulings that saw the CFMEU, four of its officials and a delegate slapped with $545,000 in fines in Queensland for unlawful, intimidating and coercive conduct at the South Brisbane Common Ground project and $3.55 million in fines in Vic­toria for a series of blockades against Grocon.

In court documents lodged last month, the FWBC alleges that when workers at the Enoggera site in November ­expressed interest in returning to work, they were told by a union official: “I’m running this meeting, keep quiet.”

FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss said in a statement it was “extremely concerning” that workers were allegedly told to keep quiet.

“All building and con­struction industry participants should have the right to work,” he said.

The CFMEU did not respond to a request for comment. CFMEU boss Michael Ravbar has previously accused the FWBC of running “nothing, frivolous disputes” against it at taxpayers’ expense.


Greens infiltrate the classroom

By retired Leftist politician Gary Johns

I received a letter this week that had been sent to the parent of a 10-year-old schoolboy and signed by the deputy principal of Cottesloe Primary School, Perth. The letter requested her permission to send a letter, allegedly written by her son, to Julie Bishop regarding the UN climate talks.

This was part of a school project. I am informed the parent looked into the project and spoke with her son and was very unhappy about what the school had done. Her son would not author the letter so much as be encouraged to copy a letter written by a green activist.

“Climate Action for a Safe Environment” is a Greens-inspired campaign to infiltrate schools, indeed the minds of schoolchildren. The campaign website contains a note for teachers: “Students can craft a persuasive letter based solely on the information in Curtin’s CASE flyer” (emphasis added).

The letter seeking parental permission reads in part: “This morning (students) had a speaker, Dr Chilla Bulbeck, discussing environmental issues including climate change and global warming.

“The students … were asked to write a letter to Julie Bishop ­putting forward their thoughts on global warming and climate change” (emphasis added).

The letter to parents directs them to the campaign website where a standard letter is ready and waiting.

“Dear Julie Bishop,

My name is … and I am an ­average … student ... please help this goal of mine (to stop global warming) become yours too ­because we can make a difference for Australia” (emphasis added).

Craft a persuasive letter using their thoughts, describing their goal? This is a deception. This is high-pressure propaganda and it is taking place in primary schools right now.

Bulbeck is an expert in selling ideology. She held the chair of women’s studies at ­the University of Adelaide until 2008 but is now a full-time “volunteer” for the Greens in Western Australia. She is a big-time feminist. Her recent book is a lament for the young generation who seem ­comfortable in their skins and not at all concerned with the evils of inequality, racism and sexism that apparently lurk in every conversation and gesture.

Unlike feminist radicals of yesteryear, she finds young people “are stumped to identify or discuss collective or structural bases for inequality and difference”.

She is a radical in love with the idea of a never-ending revolution. To let her at the minds of 18-year- olds at university is one thing; to let her near 10-year-olds quite ­another. Bulbeck claims Curtin’s CASE is not a political organisation, but admits “our project does appeal to Greens members and supporters”. Very subtle. She also makes an appeal to “climate consensus” based on a “tri-partisan” world. It seems the Greens are now up there with the big two parties, provided they fall into line.

A representative of a political party was allowed into the classroom to push the party’s agenda on young children and to use them to write letters to achieve the party’s goals. Were other ­voices heard?

Were children aware that if the world decides to cut the output of carbon dioxide emissions by denying cheap energy-dense sources they are condemning ­millions to an early death through poverty?

The sunny shores at Cottesloe Beach will remain sunny, the West Australian economy will continue to give succour to millions, provided non-renewables remain strong until such time as there are cheap and reliable ­alternatives.

This exercise in high-pressure manipulation of 10-year-olds took place a few suburbs from the University of Western Australia where a posse of ignorant ­academics and students ran Bjorn Lomborg out of town.

They asserted he was a ­climate-change denier. He is not. Lomborg knows the cost of trading the possible loss of life in 100 years from climate change against the certain loss of life now through lack of access to cheap dense forms of energy.

Did children feel pressured to write a letter and to take the Greens’ viewpoint in that letter? I suspect the school will say there was no pressure, but the examples of letters in the project are all from one position.

It is also understandable that a 10-year-old child might feel very awkward about saying in the presence of his teacher and the other students that he did not wish to write such a letter.

The Greens are no doubt presenting this “lesson” at more than one school. Please, parents, if you have examples of this propaganda send them to me.


8 July, 2015

Nobody else will mention this.  You will read it only here

Read the story below and ask yourself what is wrong with the school concerned.  ZEG read the report and concluded it was a case of general breakdown of discipline.  That's a part of the story but he failed to allow for how heavily our news is censored.  I have read very similar reports about certain schools in Britain so I knew immediately what the problem was.  I give the answer following the article below

TEACHERS at a western Sydney school have described a culture of fear and violence with students threatening them with rape and murder.

Following revelations that students at Granville Boys High School were trading knives “for protection” more teachers have broken ranks to speak to the Parramatta Advertiser, saying threats and intimidation are routine.

One teacher, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, said some staff — male and female — walked to their cars in groups for safety, because of concerns students would carry out their threats.

“They make threats, they say they’ll kill us, they’ll bash us. They say things like, ‘I’ll meet you down a dark alley and rape you’; ‘Wait ’til I see you after school, Miss’. And it’s males and females that they say that to, it’s not just the female (staff),” she said.

Granville Boys High School promotes its ‘Safe Respectful Learners’ motto out the front of

Granville Boys High School promotes its ‘Safe Respectful Learners’ motto out the front of the school. Picture: Stephen Cooper Source: News Corp Australia

It is understood that despite a knife amnesty carried out by the school in June, students are still carrying blades with some calling themselves “street pharmacists”.

It is claimed they have methamphetamines or “ice” and pills at school.

“They’re carrying knives (and) we have no control over them — what’s to stop them from killing one of us?” a female teacher said.

Of 20 students interviewed by the Advertiser, 14 said they were aware of at least one other student who had brought a knife to school. Four said they knew students who had brought drugs to school.

The school has been credited with taking steps to rebuild its reputation and the environment for students, including the establishment of a before-class cafe run by students following the 2011 stabbing of a student in a schoolyard brawl.

A NSW Department of Education spokesman said possession of any illegal substance or implement was not tolerated in NSW public schools.

The spokesman said since recent reports of a knife amnesty, no teacher at the school had raised weapons issues with the principal.  “No question of personal safety involving the behaviour of students has been raised with the principal by any staff member,” he said.

NSW Teachers’ Federation president Maurie Mulheron called on the Department of Education to investigate the claims. “Any concerns that have been raised where safety is compromised, we expect the department to investigate the allegation,” Mr Mulheron said.

In a video leaked to the Advertiser that was filmed on school equipment and screened with executive approval at the school’s 2013 Year 12 formal, students can be seen making religious slurs.

The students are heard ordering a “McJesus and holy water” at a McDonald’s drive-through — as well as fighting and degrading the school.

In an email to principal Linda O’Brien, sent to all staff from a teacher, the “insensitive” nature of the video was raised.

“I am writing to you all about a segment of the video which made reference to the Jesus and holy water (sic)”, the email read.

“Students may not understand the significance of this, but as a teacher we have the responsibility to teach the right thing to our students. This is a public school and this sort of insensitive comment should be avoided.”

A NSW Department of Education spokesman said Ms O’Brien “was on leave during the production and screening of a video produced by students.”  The spokesman said Ms O’Brien had not seen the video.


2008 — A group of five Granville Boys High School students run through Merrylands High School brandishing baseball bats and machetes, leaving 18 students and one teacher in hospital

2011 — A GBHS student, 16, is stabbed six times in the stomach in a schoolyard fight between two other students, 14 and 15

Police at Granville Boys High School where a 16-year-old student received multiple stab w

Police at Granville Boys High School where a 16-year-old student received multiple stab wounds during a schoolyard fight four years ago. Source: News Limited

2013 — A video produced on school equipment containing religious slurs — ordering a “McJesus and holy water” at a McDonald’s drive-through — and depicting fighting, is screened at an end-of-year formal to more than 100 parents, staff and students

June 2015 — Two students suspended for carrying knives at school. A leaked email says students are “trading” blades between each other for “safety” and the school holds a knife amnesty


Did you pick it up?  The Education Dept. is in denial for a very good reason.  I knew immediately what to look for so went straight to the school website.  We read there:  Ninety-nine per cent of students are from a non-English speaking background

To be blunt, it is just Muslims being Muslims and showing their usual contempt for the rest of us. Their religion teaches them that contempt.  Start reading the Koran at Surah 9 if you doubt it

Christianity a good force in Australia

BOOK REVIEW of "Post God Nation?" by Roy Williams

Roy Williams has, in Post God Nation?, accumulated a substantial body of wide-ranging research to support his deeply felt conviction that Australia, and the world more broadly, has benefited from Christian teachings and action far more than is usually acknowledged. In Williams' view, the benefits radically outstrip past and current human errors. What's more, much of the good we take for granted in Australia is, he argues, a direct result of lived Christian values and endeavour.

His purpose in writing this book - and in undertaking the research to support it - rests with a hope that Australia could become a more meaningfully religious country, by which he means a more meaningfully Christian country. He explicitly respects other faiths. Christianity, though, is the religion he loves and privileges. "Imagine," he writes in his concluding chapter, "if Australia were looked upon by the world not merely as the luckiest country on Earth, but also as the most righteous. A truly Christian beacon of faith, hope and love. .That would be real, deserved 'national security'."

In that same visionary chapter Williams asserts that, "Christian believers are rather more likely than unbelievers to abstain from the worst excesses [of inhumane or unethical] behaviour and indulgences". Many readers, and I am one of them, will read this with considerable sadness. Williams may even share that sadness because he freely takes to task contemporary Christians who fail their espoused values. Among them are some familiar political leaders. But we needn't accept this as inevitable: "Church leaders should take every opportunity to stare down relevant politicians and decision-makers, and ask the toughest moral questions."

A more morally courageous Australia would be immensely desirable. Williams brackets, vigorously and correctly, leadership as well as community attitudes to foreign aid, the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and climate change. There he states unequivocally: "Christian attitudes to these issues should be shaped by certain core biblical principles." He includes the famous quote from Luke 12:48: "From those to whom much is given, much will be expected." Indeed.

For that chapter alone, as well as for the array of historical and social analyses that precede it, this book adds substantially to our understanding of religion as a continuing social force that could arguably bring something greater than humanist secular values alone can achieve. Williams usefully includes short portraits of Christians he regards as positive influences in shaping our political and cultural landscapes. With that, he is openly striving to "save" religion as ". an ideological framework that is neither 'right wing' nor 'left wing'", but is also "a potentially precious source of emotional sustenance and ambition; and a form of community attachment that . is unique and valuable".

Much of this is admirable. In fact, for readers who share Williams' views of Christianity as not only the majority faith but also the most ethically developed one, these arguments and the research that supports them will be welcome and persuasive. Few could deny that we would live in a far happier, safer world if Christians lived Christ's sublime teachings, especially when it comes to considering the wellbeing of others above one's own, sharing resources with neighbours (global and otherwise), valuing all lives equally, forgiving wrongdoings and, especially, unconditionally committing to peacemaking and social justice.

Nonetheless, despite the seriousness and honesty of Williams' intentions, I have some reservations. One is personal: that the richly unfolding interiority of a faith commitment rarely appears on these pages. For me, that's what gives life its deepest truth and meaning. I wish it had been more nakedly glimpsed here. More generally, in arguing so strenuously for the good that the Christian institutions and faithful have achieved, I couldn't help but feel that Williams underplays the myriad of ways in which, in the name of Christianity, distinctly un-Christian values have damaged or destroyed lives.

Women, people of every colour other than white, gays, non-Christians: all have been radically harmed by misogyny, racism, homophobia, religious ignorance and prejudice (and forced conversions) endorsed by Christian institutions and the men who run them. Some of this continues. Williams certainly acknowledges this, as well as recent revelations of child and sexual abuse, yet seems not to fully appreciate the soul-wrenching harm done, even between different expressions of Christianity in the name of "authority" and "heresy".

Readers may also question whether he sufficiently values or understands the depth of ethical teachings in other faiths. Within Buddhism, for example, teachings on free will and the power to choose, as well as the value of life, compassion, peacemaking and the unity of all beings have reached a level of sophistication and practice that Christian institutions and leaders could well learn from. Our chances have never been better to benefit from the accumulated wisdom of all faiths, and particularly from what they share. That, too, offers a fine and renewing vision of hope.


Pauline Hanson on Lorna Jane employment controversy: ‘I’m paying the wages, I have the right to ask for who I want’

Pauline is a great one for old-fashioned common-sense.  I don't agree with everything she says (I am quite Sinophilic, for instance) but, as a Queenslander, I had the three occasions to vote for her -- and I voted for every time

PAULINE Hanson has thrown her support behind embattled fitness queen Lorna Jane Clarkson, saying employers should be able to advertise for whom they want when filling positions.

The women’s fitness fashion entrepreneur is facing a possible backlash from female consumers after specifying the dress size and waist measurement of a prospective new receptionist in an employment advertisement.

Appearing on Sunrise this morning with broadcaster Derryn Hinch, Ms Hanson was fired up over the issue.

“If you’re employing people you should be able to advertise for who you want, whether it be male of remale, fat or thin ... because you are the one paying the wages, you know what works for your business,” she said.

The former MP and political firebrand drew on her pre-parliamentary career as the owner of a fish and chip shop in Ipswich, saying she wanted to advertise for female employees only but was told she could not do so.

“I wanted females ... because it was for only a few hours a day. A man is usually the breadwinner of the family, and I just wanted those mums for a few hours a week who would work in the shop.”

“I rang up and said I’d like a female, and they said you can’t (specify) female and I said ‘But I’m paying the wages, that’s who I want to work in my shop’, so I said ‘Please put in the ad

The One Nation founder admitted she did eventually employ a 15-year-old young man, but the experience sounds as if it may have been traumatic for both parties.  “I put him on. He couldn’t sweep the floor, I had to teach him how to mop, he burnt himself ... he actually cut himself,” she said.

“If you have to advertise for whoever to apply for the jobs, not only are they wasting your time, when you know exactly who you want, you are wasting that person’s time and it deflates their confidence.”

“You don’t get a woman for a man’s job ... digging tenches when you know they’re absolutely hopeless at it.”

Hinch attempted to stir some controversy during the segment, arguing that enabling employers to ask for who they wanted in job advertisements would open the door to discrimination.

“In the fish and chip shop you might have said ‘I don’t want black people’; you can’t do that,” Hinch said.

“Oh rubbish Derryn. you had no right to bring that up,” a clearly irate Hanson replied, before claiming that discrimination existed in Australia because Aboriginal people could apply for jobs that were set aside for Aboriginals only.

The segment was brought to a swift close at that point.


Vote change to shift Labor’s power to the Left

Labor’s Left faction will win control of the party’s powerful national executive for the first time in decades if the national conference this month endorses a push to empower the president and two vice-presidents to vote at meetings.

This would see the Left faction dominate the party’s supreme administrative body for the first time since the 1960s and 70s, when it often challenged Gough Whitlam’s authority.

Bill Shorten, from the Right faction, will strongly resist the move.

The push from within the Left to win control of the national executive comes as an assessment of 400 delegates to the conference estimates that no faction has an absolute majority but the Right commands the largest group.

But the Right is likely to lose one member of the executive to the Left when elections take place at the conference. Currently the Right has 11 members of the executive and the Left 10. Mr Shorten exercises a vote as leader at meetings, which gives the Right a majority.

It is expected the Left-Right split on the executive post-conference will be 10-all with Mr Shorten’s vote enough to maintain the Right’s authority. But if the president and two vice-presidents are empowered to vote, the numbers will shift to 12-all and the president will then have a casting vote, tilting the power balance to the Left.

Federal Labor frontbencher Mark Butler, from the Left, was elected president last month. His casting vote will hand power to the Left. West Australian barrister Tim Hammond, from the Right, was elected senior vice-president. Victorian minister Jane Garrett, from the Left, was elected vice-president.

Currently the party’s member-elected president and two vice-presidents do not have the authority to vote at meetings. But at last week’s national rules committee meeting, the Left faction put forward a formal proposal to allow the president and vice-presidents to vote.

The Australian has obtained a document presented to the meeting by Australian Manufacturing Workers Union NSW secretary Tim Ayres. He is a prominent Left union and faction leader who sits on the rules committee and the national executive.

While the NSW Left supports the rule change, other elements of the national Left are not yet fully signed up to the reform. It is possible that if the Left can’t agree on the rule change prior to conference, it will be jettisoned. Left delegates will meet this weekend at the Trades Hall in Sydney to discuss their position on a range of policy and structural issues.

The party’s national executive is an extremely powerful body. Only the conference is able to hear appeals and rule on its decisions. The plenary powers of executive allow it to intervene to overrule a decision made by a state branch of the party.

The executive has authority over policy as it can interpret the party’s constitution, platform and conference decisions. This could bolster the Left’s influence on controversial issues such as asylum-seeker policy.

It can also exercise plenary powers to intervene in preselections and direct members of parliament. It convenes conferences, appoints committees and hears and decides on appeals from any affiliated organisation or party member.

The Left faction has not controlled the executive outright since the 1960s — then named the federal executive — but it has been able to win control periodically on issues when aligning with the now defunct centre grouping in the 1970s and early 80s.


7 July, 2015

Crime scene clean-up payments were billed to the mother of murdered man Matthew Thomas

If the police order work, they should pay for it -- and then, where possible, recover the cost  from the perpetrator or his estate

IT is a scene no mother should have to confront, but what followed added outrage to grief.

Louise Thomas found her son Matthew shot dead in his bedroom by a close friend and neighbour who had then turned the gun on himself.

Amid the confusion of the night of April 25, 2013, police called in a forensic cleaner.

But no one told Mrs Thomas she would have to foot the bill.

The case sheds light on a ­little-known police and state government policy that ­requires victims to pay for cleaning crime scenes.

While victims’ compensation is available to assist with costs, some victim advocates have spoken against the existing policy, saying the fee, which averages $3500, should be borne ­entirely by the government.

In the case of Mrs Thomas, the oversight led to events that compounded her grief, including a lawsuit from the company, BVM Clean Scene, when she refused to pay.

“Very few people would have the situation we had and I hope nobody has to go through it,” Mrs Thomas said.

She eventually won the civil case on the basis that she was never told by police, who called the cleaning company, that she would have to pay. A spokeswoman for the company ­declined to comment.

Usually, the government provides up to $5000 under an “immediate needs” payment to cover relocation costs, funeral expenses and the clean up.

The police only pay to clean a crime scene when chemical enhancement techniques such as Luminol are used.

Mrs Thomas said she was given $5000, but most of it was spent on a solicitor to manage her deceased son’s affairs. The remainder was used on rent because she could not go back to the property.

Victims of Crime Assistance League co-founder Howard Brown said this type of spending was typical because some crime scenes can be tied up more than four weeks.

He believes crime-scene cleaning should not be tied to compensation. “It should be a cost borne by government,” Mr Brown said. “The fact that victims bear it, is in my view, bloody ridiculous.”

Deputy State Coroner Carmel Forbes last month handed down her findings into the death of Matthew Thomas.

The inquest heard that Matthew, 30, was killed by Peter Junghans, a friend who lived next door in Westleigh, in northwest Sydney.

Mr Junghans was under police surveillance for dealing cannabis and confronted Matthew after incorrectly accusing him of assisting police.

The only recommendation made by Ms Forbes was in ­relation to crime scene cleaning.

Magistrate Forbes recommended police ensure written advice is given to victims, such as Mrs Thomas, about the regulations surrounding payment for crime scene cleaning.


Is there no end to the thieving of this woman?

Evidence has been unearthed showing that in late 2011 Julia Gillard used borrowed taxpayer funds of between $10 and $25 million to give to the infamous Clinton Foundation. The money was funnelled through the tax-free charity AusAID which was suspiciously brought under the auspices of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Now why would that be?

US documents show AusAID and Saudi Arabia were among the most generous contributors to the Clintons with many smaller donations from various entities. The donors list includes the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, (all players in the UN's NWO) and Australia.

Amounts between $10 and $25 million are classed as "preferred contributions" by the Clintons and Gillard shared top billing with Saudi Arabia who had apparently peaked at the $25 million mark.

All donations are denoted in ranges.

Both DFAT and AusAID have not returned phone calls and have demanded any questions be set out in letter form but even then they have still refused to respond with Julie Bishop claiming protocol prevents her from answering on behalf of DFAT when under a different administration.

AusAID was brought under the umbrella of DFAT shortly before Bob Carr was parachuted into the Foreign Affairs portfolio. There is no way to prove that the AusAID move was made to hide the donations but I'd like to be as sure of winning Lotto.

It appears that not only the Islamic community are adept at using tax free charities to hide donations to terrorist organisations, but the Clintons have become expert in using charities to obfuscate funds that really go to the election of Hillary.

DFAT also refused to answer questions regarding its deep involvement in the illegal kidnapping of four Italian girls.

Despite Australia being a signatory to the Hague Convention DFAT officials had secretly arranged the mother's and girls' airfares to Australia and had gone to extreme lengths to deceive the father, Tomasso Vincenti, into believing the girls were merely going on a "holiday".

After long court battle involving the High Court the girls were returned to Italy. When Pickering Post recently contacted the father the girls were all doing well in Tuscany.

It seems a shroud of secrecy prevails if anything dodgy needs to be carried out in govenment. If you must do it then for God's sake do it under the banner of DFAT because it, as a matter of protocol, can't answer any questions on behalf of former Foreign Affairs Ministers like Carr and Rudd. ... and Prime Ministers like Gillard.


Conservative politician slams push for legalised gay marriage because it could lead to 'group relationships'... and argues no Asian country allows it so it shouldn't happen

A senior government minister has said Australia should not legalise same sex marriage because Asian countries do not have it.

Eric Abetz, the Liberal leader in the Senate, also told Sky News it could open a 'Pandora's box' and lead to 'polyamory', or group relationships.

The remarks come hot on the heels of an announcement that Liberal backbenchers will co-sponsor an unprecedented cross-party bill to legalise same sex marriage next month.

'Here we are in Asia... I must simply ask the question in this Asian century,' Mr Abetz said, 'Which other Asian country has legalised same sex marriage? None!'  

Mr Abetz has been the government's most vocal opponent of same sex marriage this week. In a column for Fairfax Media, he wrote the media was campaigning for same sex marriage.

'With the recent one-sided reporting of the Supreme Court ruling in the US, same-sex propaganda is hitting new heights,' he wrote.

'But I would advise caution. The debate here isn't over.'

'The Prime Minister's position remains the same as it has always been and he supports the current policy that marriage is between a man and a woman,' a spokesman said.

He said government was focused on national security and the economy.

It was revealed yesterday a cross-party bill, co-sponsored by Liberal MP Warren Entsch, Labor MP Terri Butler, crossbenchers and the Greens, is scheduled to arrive in Parliament on August 11.

After Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced a bill last month, Mr Abbott had said a marriage equality decision would have to be owned by the whole Parliament.

'If our Parliament were to make a big decision on a matter such as this, it ought to be owned by the Parliament and not by any particular party,' he said.

A bill would be unlikely to pass if Liberal MPs did not receive a conscience vote, campaigners have said.

But parliamentary support has swelled in recent months - particularly following a string of huge victories for same sex marriage campaigners in the United States and Ireland.

The development was welcomed by Mr Shorten, who said in a statement he hoped Mr Abbott would allow Liberal MPs a free vote.

'As I've consistently said, it's the outcome that is important here, not whose name is on the Bill.

'Like millions of Australians, my first and only hope here is that we can make marriage equality a reality'.

Leading same sex marriage campaigner Alex Greenwich, the state NSW MP for Sydney, said: 'Here's hoping for spring weddings'. 

But opponents were already organising on Wednesday afternoon.

Lyle Shelton, from the Australian Christian Lobby, tweeted: 'A bill to abolish husband & wife in the Marriage Act will be introduced to [Parliament] on Aug 11. 'Time to let MPs know kids need their mum & dad'.



Three current articles below

Climate change is causing DRAGONS to change gender: Researchers find Australian reptiles are switching sex

Since there has been no climate change for 18 years, these results CANNOT be due to climate change

The cold-blooded Australian Central Bearded Dragon is widespread on red sandy areas in the semi-arid regions of eastern Australia.

It occupies open woodland and is conspicuous when it perches high to warm in the early morning sunlight.

Now a study of this creature has shown embryos with two Z chromosomes - making them genetically male - can develop as female at warm egg-incubation temperatures.

It means its sex is determined both by its complement of chromosomes and by the temperature at which its eggs are incubated.

In place of X and Y sex chromosomes reptiles have Z and W - with ZZ producing males and ZW females.

Combining field data from 131 adult lizards with controlled breeding experiments chemical analyses showed eleven individuals found towards the warmer end of the species' range had a male set of chromosomes - but were actually female.

It was also found they can facilitate a quick change from a genetically-controlled system to a temperature-controlled one, reports Nature.

When these sex-reversed females were mated with normal males none of the offspring had sex chromosomes and their sex was entirely determined by egg incubation temperature.

The offspring arising from sex-reversed mothers also had a higher propensity to reverse - reinforcing the transition - and sex-reversed mothers laid almost twice as many eggs per year than their normal peers leading to more feminized populations.

The study highlights the potential role of global warming in altering the biology and the genome of climate-sensitive reptiles.

Dr Clare Holleley, of Canberra University, said the finding 'adds to concern about adaptation to rapid global climate change.'

She said: 'Here we make the first report of reptile sex reversal in the wild - in the Australian bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) - and use sex-reversed animals to experimentally induce a rapid transition from genotypic to temperature-dependent sex determination.

'Although sex reversal in reptiles has been demonstrated under laboratory conditions this is the first time sex reversal has been shown to occur naturally in a wild population of reptiles - or indeed any amniote.'

She said sex reversal was widespread with instances distributed over a total area of almost 15,000 square miles in remote semi-arid Australia.

The proportion of sex-reversed females increased each year over the study from 6.7% in 2003 to 13.6% in 2004 to 22.2% in 2011 - suggestive of a trend.

Biologist James Bull, of Texas University at Austin, reviewed the study for the journal and says it will inspire 'parallel work on other species.'

He said: 'Broader geographic and longitudinal comparisons for these lizards will give insight into the ramifications of climate change on this temperature-dependent reproductive mode.'


The church and fossil fuels

Divestment from fossil fuels has become the moral weapon of choice in the armoury of ecclesiastical environmental activists who want to end coal production in Australia.

Pope Francis' recent papal encyclical Laudato Si identified the intensive use of fossil fuels as a major aggravating factor in anthropogenic global warming.

Now Sydney Anglican diocese's investment arm, the $262 million Glebe Administration Board (GAB), wants to divest from fossil fuels altogether or set targets for "carbon reduction" across its entire portfolio.

But this means choosing to ignore coal investment's potential economic benefits - and its benefits to the world's poorer emerging populations.

Christian investment funds should certainly think carefully about where they put their money. There is no godly reason why they should invest in the gambling industry.

But there is no moral equivalence between investing in pokies and investing in coal. Gambling never did anyone any good, but the same can't be said about coal.

Oil giant BP reports that use of coal has grown four times faster than renewables and 2.8 times faster than oil over the past decade. Investment interest in fossil fuels and the supply of cheap energy is booming.

Coal has helped lift the living standards of hundreds of millions of the world's poor by providing a cheap source of energy that has a huge, economy-wide impact.

Coal also happens to be Australia's second most valuable export after iron ore and supplies the fuel for our own electricity networks.

Divesting from fossil fuels may be fashionable but it is also immoral. Quite apart from putting domestic jobs at risk, 'ethical' attacks on the coal industry threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people in developing economies.

The Sydney GAB fund managers will be the latest to jump with their misplaced ideals on to the bandwagon of climate correctness when they take their revised policy to the diocese's Standing Committee later in the year for endorsement.

A truly ethical investment policy aims to help the world's poor. Instead, the flawed reasoning of environmental activism threatens only real economic and moral harm.


More From Deniliquin

Steve Goddard on the "fiddled" climate records of Australia's  BOM

Deniliquin has not only cooled since the 19th century, but the frequency of very hot days has also dropped dramatically.

BOM ignores all pre-1910 temperatures, because they don’t fit the global warming narrative.


6 July, 2015

Saab unveils superstealth 'ghost submarine' that is virtually invisible to enemies and even allows divers to silently enter and exit

Surely this is what Australia should be buying rather than more Australian-made rubbish.  Surely the Collins submarine fiasco is enough. It took 13 years to build 6 of them and they have NEVER worked properly.  They are good when they do work but are always breaking down.  There is often only one at sea, with the rest undergoing "maintenance". They are based on a successful Swedish model so it is the build-quality that is the problem, not the design.  "She'll be right mate" is sometimes just not good enough.

And don't mention the mega-bungles of the air warfare destroyer project.  Three were ordered in 2007 but the first is now projected to enter service only in 2017.  Australia just does not have the capacity to build leading-edge military ships

Saab has unveiled what it claims is the world's most advanced stealth submarine.  The A26 sub is 207 feet long, and features a 'ghost mode' to make it virtually undetectable when underwater.

It also features a unique pod that allows special forces divers to enter and exit the sub while it is underwater. 

They have an endurance of 45 days or 18 days underwater. They have a test depth of about 658 feet.

They will be conventional diesel-electric submarines equipped with the Kockums Stirling AIP (air-independent propulsion) system for enhanced stealth.

The firm has already signed a $1 billion deal to build two of the new submarines for the Swedish Navy.

'Extreme stealth is at the heart of the Kockums A26 submarine,' the firm said.  'Sweden is unleashing its GHOST (Genuine HOlistic STealth) technology, thus making the Kockums A26 submarine effectively invisible.'

The order, with a value of about $1.04 billion, is for construction of two Type A26 submarines and conducting mid-life upgrades to two Gotland-class submarines. Work on the two A26s is to be completed by 2024.

Type A26 submarines have an endurance of 45 days or 18 days underwater.

'Sweden has long experience in designing very silent submarines,' the firm says.

'In the Kockums A26 submarine, an extremely resilient platform technique incorporating extensive rubber mountings and baffles is used to minimise noise from operating machines and transient noise, as well as absorbing shocks.

To further reduce emitted noise, the space between the frames is equipped with acoustic damping plates... Hull shape and fins designed to make it appear almost invisible

'Intelligence gathering, surveillance and sea denial along coastlines are becoming increasingly important, ' Saab said.

'Operations in shallow water enable submarines to carry out covert monitoring of targets on land or sea using a range of electro-optical and electromagnetic sensors.

'Moreover, the ability of a submarine to lie motionless on the ocean floor, or 'bottom out', makes it almost impossible to find.'

This highly optimised design also cuts the hydrodynamic signatures and flow noise around the submarine, both in deep water and near the surface.

The magnetic signature is suppressed by an advanced degaussing system that is controlled by external sensors to facilitate compensation in all geographical locations and headings.

Galvanic signatures, primarily electrical but including secondary magnetic signatures are reduced by a specially designed cathodic protection system and careful material selection that minimise electrical signatures without compromising the corrosion protection of the submarine.

The two vessels will be delivered to Sweden's Defense Materiel Organization in late 2018 and late 2019, respectively.

'Saab will deliver world-class submarines to Sweden,' said Hakan Buskhe, president and chief executive officer of Saab. 'Our ability to work closely with customers, to meet their needs with modern manufacturing and products, is one of Saab's greatest skills.

'Saab is also exploring export opportunities to provide complete submarine systems to a select number of countries, plus sub-systems across the wider market.'


How Labor misses the asylum-seeker boat

“So we beat on,” goes the oft-­quoted final line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby that seems to have been adopted by the ALP as its border protection theme, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Labor, urged on by activists and the political class, refuses to learn the lessons of our asylum-seeker horror story. So, while the boats have been stopped and most voters have breathed a sigh of relief, we have had another chapter in the parlour game that is Labor’s internal contortion on boats.

Former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon kicked it off by saying Labor might want to embrace all available tools to prevent a restart in the people-smuggling trade. “Now, one of those tools currently is boat turn-backs,” he said, “Personally, I believe turn-backs will remain part of Labor policy.”

In a rational world this would have been an insignificant statement of the obvious. Fitzgibbon was merely urging his party to promise what it pledged in 2007 (but failed to implement) and now would amount only to continuing what the government already was doing successfully.

But, on this issue, the ratio of logic to emotional hyperbole is as skewed as an ABC Q&A audience. Fitzgibbon’s comments triggered days of self-fascinated blather.

Realists see an issue of border security, immigration integrity, 1200 lost lives, 800 boats, 52,000 unauthorised arrivals, overflowing detention centres and refugees who, without cash for people-smugglers, can’t access a full ­humanitarian quota.

But for the compassionistas — including much of the media — it is about political selfdom and identifying as caring rather than cruel, or tolerant rather than ruthless.

On Monday, Labor’s immigra­tion spokesman Richard Marles tried to clarify his party’s stand.

“Well, we retain concerns about turn-backs, it is a really difficult area,” Marles told the ABC’s Radio National, “and there are a range of views on this issue within the party and out there in the community, it’s complex, and I understand those different views, but at the end of the day we are concerned about the impact that turn-backs have in relation to the relationship with Indonesia, specifically when it comes to co-operating with Indonesia around the question of asylum-seekers’ vessels, and of course all of this happening under a shroud of secrecy.” Clear as mud.

Then, as ever, Marles switched quickly from effective outcomes to presumed motives. “We are motivated by a position of compas­sion,” he said, “whereas for the gov­ernment that is really the central piece of an architecture which is really about putting a wall around Australia and turning Australia’s back on the world’s problems.”

The world is, indeed, a cruel and dangerous place and Australia, relatively speaking, is nirvana.  But to commend itself for government, Labor needs to say what it proposes to do.

Politicians can be forgiven, I suppose, for sometimes losing sight of policy outcomes in their pursuit of political success.

This, presumably, is one of the reasons we have journalists: to drive the debate back to what matters — you know, how to keep the borders secure, prevent people drowning and a trade in human desperation.

So after Marles on RN’s Breakfast we heard from Michelle Grattan. “It’s a push that’s really a very pragmatic one,” she said, promisingly, of Labor’s talk about turn-backs. “People who think the policy should be changed feel that it would be electorally very, very difficult for Labor to say it wouldn’t turn back boats because this has been seen as one way of stopping the people-smuggling trade and the government would be easily able to say, ‘Well, you’ll just be opening the door again to it.’ ”

So, when Grattan said “pragmatic” she didn’t mean a practical solution, she meant electorally pragmatic. Still, host Fran Kelly had a chance to steer her back to boats and people’s lives.

“This whole issue of asylum-seeker policy has been a real thorn in the side for the Labor Party for well over a decade now,” she said.

I suppose “thorn in the side” is one way to characterise 1200 dead men, women and children and untold misery for tens of thousands of others.

“A fight within Labor over this is gift to the government electorally,” Kelly went on. “Even if Labor comes down on the side of turning back the boats, which it might think would sort of, you know, take the heat out of the issue, just the whole fight and discussion hurts Labor, doesn’t it, or benefits the government?”

This was a typical and illuminating exchange.

For the political-media class — the group Robert Manne identified from the inside as the “permanent oppositional moral political community” — this issue is always seen through an ideological prism.

When Bill Shorten was asked if Labor would adopt a turn-back policy it proved too hard.

“Labor believes in a compassionate approach to refugees and a constructive approach to asylum-seekers,” he said. “Labor are the people who started regional resettlement to help break the people-smugglers’ model. I am determined to make sure that never again do the seaways between Java and Christmas Island become the opportunity for people-smugglers to put unsuspecting people into unsafe boats and drown at sea. That is our position.”

He was asked again.

“Part of the dilemma with boat turn-back policy is that the government insists in shrouding it in secrecy. We want to see what the actual policies are and how they are actually working.”

As best we can tell, Labor’s policy is that while the government’s policies seem to have worked, they are shrouded in so much secrecy that Labor will keep its policy secret.

Marles audaciously blamed Labor’s confusion on the government. “Now there are legitimate questions in relation to turn-backs and I’ve raised concerns about that,” he said.  “The fact of the matter is the government has been hopeless in answering those.”

By Wednesday on Radio National Grattan was starting to see signs Labor would change its policy. Perhaps she would be comforted by how this could prevent further human misery and trauma.

“A change is necessary if Labor is to be competitive at the election in the whole border protection issue,” she said, preoccupied with the misery and trauma of marginal Labor MPs.

Labor’s lack of self-awareness is extraordinary.  It reminds me of the old joke about two friesians chewing their cuds in a paddock. One cow says, “It’s a bit of a worry, this mad cow disease.”

“Doesn’t worry me,” says the other. “I’m a penguin.”

The opposition needs to see its stand the way most of the public does. First: the present policies are working. And second: no matter what Labor says now, there is little chance it will be believed.

The ALP backflipped on offshore processing in the shadows of the 2013 election and now has seen the Coalition’s strong resolve, temporary protection visas and turn-backs solve the problem — to great humanitarian benefit — yet it refuses to endorse this prescription. Rather, it has criticised the government for everything from secrecy to megaphone diplomacy, from cruelty to cash payments.

The media has been complicit, if not culpable, in the ALP’s folly and indulges the opposition’s introspective debate.

After this month’s national conference, almost two years on from the election, Labor will say it has worked it out and then try to convince the public it can be trusted on border protection.

Sorry, comrades; that boat has sailed.


Qld. Labor set to water down the Bikie laws, inviting criminal bikie thugs back into Queensland

IT HAS been heralded as the most successful anti-crime campaign in Australian history. Outlaw motorcycle gangs in Queensland have been stopped in their tracks by heroic police efforts led by Taskforce Maxima.

The chief of the Australian Crime Commission, Chris Dawson, has commended Queensland's tough laws and praised police efforts to curb bikie terror.

Yet the State Government crazily seeks to wind back the Newman government's anti-gang laws, with Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath going so far as describing them as "a stunt-driven mish-mash of legislation".

That's not the ways police, nightclub owners and restaurateurs see it, especially on the Gold Coast, which was at the epicentre of bikie violence and serious crime.

If Labor waters down the laws, it would be inviting criminal bikie thugs to ride again.

The laws, meanwhile, are the envy of crimefighters not only in Australia but in Asia, New Zealand and the US.

A new set of crime figures confirms the success of the bikie crackdown, which began in October 2013 when Deputy Commissioner Brett Pointing set up Operation Resolute.

Today I can reveal 2214 -offenders have been arrested throughout the state on 6439 charges since the start of Operation Resolute and up until the close of the -financial year on Tuesday.

It's a stunning result and Pointing and his team deserve special commendations.

Taskforce Maxima alone has arrested 1154 bikies or their associates on 3341 charges. The offences included the most serious drug offences, including trafficking, assault, extortion and money-laundering charges.

Although the laws are working well, D'Ath has the gall to criticise the LNP for installing them. She announced an inquiry to be headed by -retired -Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson.

Interestingly, the VLAD laws and the association laws were an extension of tough anti-gang laws first proposed by Anna Bligh's Labor government.

In the most serious cases under the new laws, 156 criminal bikies face 477 charges.

These include 42 charges relating to known gang members assembling three or more in public, six charges of entering a proscribed bikie clubhouse, and 12 charges of entering licensed premises with club colours.

Previously, bikies wore club colours as a way of in-timidating club and restaurant owners and their patrons, Taskforce Maxima Comman-der Mick Niland said.

The laws have worked best on the Gold Coast. Pointing praised the efforts of Super-intendent Jim Keogh and the head of the RAP, the Gold Coast's Rapid Action Patrol Group.

Pointing said the arrests on the Coast had been stunning, with 7175 arrests on 10,311 charges. He said: "The role of RAP was to conduct high--visibility policing on the Gold Coast and to rid the Gold Coast of street violence and gang violence."

He said the streets had been "returned to the public" and the Gold Coast was now "a safer place to live, work and visit". This week Pointing ended his anti-gang involvement, handing control of Taskforce Maxima to the state's crime command under Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett. Keogh will leave the Gold Coast for a new role in Brisbane.

Niland says Taskforce Maxima remains committed to curbing bikie crime.  "One of the most pleasing things is that more than 300 outlaw motorcycle gang members have disassociated, or quit clubs," he said.

Niland's team had a major breakthrough last week when it smashed a lucrative ice trafficking ring allegedly turning over about $1 million a week being run by senior Queensland Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang members.

Detectives will allege each of the 10 current and former Mongols charged were trafficking up to $100,000 of the drug every week. That works out to be combined turnover of about $4 million a month, with gang members allegedly raking in about $28 million in just seven months.

Shadow attorney-general Ian Walker said the Palas-zczuk Government seemed to be setting the stage for softer gang laws.  One of the inquiry's terms of reference seeks "to advise how best to repeal, or replace by substantial amendment, the 2013 legislation".

Walker feared the inquiry was a "closed shop with a pre-determined outcome". He added: "The taskforce must consult academics, experts, law-enforcement agencies, the Government and people who claim to have been specifically affected by the laws - but is not required to hear from ordinary Queenslanders who, with reason, feel safer in their homes and on the streets with this legislation in place.

"The LNP always planned to review this legislation three years into its operation - we intended a fair process looking at how effective the laws were and whether any reasonable changes needed to be made.

"A review of that sort would have been welcome - but this taskforce has already been told to `get on its bike' and give the Government the result that it wants."


Australia gets a border force

The Australian Border Force Act took effect on Thursday, creating a new body that merges the frontline operations of the Immigration Department and Customs. In the words of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, it will "ensure the legitimate passage of people and goods through our borders while preventing all illegal passage".

Perhaps most controversially, the Australian Border Force Act includes new guidelines for how its staff must conduct themselves – with a heavy focus on secrecy. It says those "entrusted" within the Border Force regime – including doctors, teachers and social workers employed in detention centres – could face two years' jail if they disclose confidential information.

Under the changes, which were supported by the Labor opposition, a professional who works in an immigration facility can speak out only if they have been given departmental approval.

What has been the response?

Doctors, nurses, teachers and contractors who work in immigration facilities expressed their outrage. In an open letter to Mr Abbott, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, more than 40 former detention centre workers challenged authorities to prosecute them for publicly discussing conditions in centres.

Mr Dutton responded that their claims were inaccurate, and that contractors would still be able to speak out about the conditions under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. That act says a public interest disclosure can be made only if a person believes that there is "substantial and imminent danger to health, safety or the environment".

Mr Dutton says the controversial bit of the new border force act will protect "sensitive operational information from unauthorised disclosure", but that it will not restrict anyone's ability to raise genuine concerns about conditions in detention should they wish to do so through "appropriate channels".

Last year, former immigration minister Scott Morrison used Section 70 of the Crimes Act to refer a number of Save the Children staff working on Nauru to the Australian Federal Police, essentially for leaking information. The staff were cleared of the allegations by an inquiry long after they had been removed from the island. This strategy is something that could be easily used against immigration and contractor staff under the news laws.

Why has Mr Abbott brought in a border force commissioner?

As described by the government, the Australian Border Force has been introduced to protect and secure Australia's borders. Many commentators believe it has been modelled on the US Department of Homeland Security. They say it is militarising immigration, and pushing the Immigration Department far from its role of resettling refugees.

In a recent press statement, Mr Dutton said the border force would undertake "operational responsibilities". They include intercepting prohibited imports at the border, immigration compliance and "maintaining the good order of Australia's detention facilities".

What will the commissioner do, and who will he replace?

Commissioner Quaedvlieg was previously the head of Customs. Mr Pezzullo will remain as the secretary of the Immigration and Border Protection Department and will "work closely" with Mr Quaedvlieg.

Mr Quaedvlieg said he would look after the operational side of immigration, including targeting visa overstayers, unscrupulous migration agents, narcotics traffickers, people smugglers and everyone in between.

At a press conference last week, he said that operational security was "paramount" to conducting effective and tactical operations. That meant he would continue the practice of not releasing information about what the government calls "on water matters".

"I don't intend to stray from the current position in relation to operational security in relation to Operation Sovereign Borders," he said.

The Australian Border Force will also work closely with the Australian Federal Police to target national security threats, with dedicated counterterrorism units at Australia's major airports.


Barnaby Joyce warns Asian countries could see Australia as 'decadent' if same-sex marriage legalised

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has warned Asian countries could see Australia as "decadent" if moves to legalise same-sex marriage are successful.

Mr Joyce was asked about comments last week by another frontbencher opposed to gay marriage, Eric Abetz, who is the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Abetz suggested that if Asian countries did not accept same-sex marriage then Australia should not either, pointing to the often-repeated phrase that for Australia this was the Asian century.

"Eric is right in saying where we live economically is south east Asia, that's where our cattle go," Mr Joyce told the ABC's Insiders program.

"When we go there, there are judgments whether you like it or not that are made about us.  "They see us as decadent."

Insiders host Barry Cassidy asked: "So would they see us embracing gay marriage as decadence?"  "I think that in some instances they would, yeah," Mr Joyce replied.

He added he did not believe marriage should be redefined by the legislation.  "I don't think if you go and pass a piece of legislation and say a diamond is a square makes diamonds squares — they're two different things," he said.  "It's not making a value judgement about either."

Mr Joyce went on to say he viewed marriage as "a process that's inherently there for the support of ... or the prospect of ... or the opportunity of children".

"I think that every child has a right, absolute right to know her or his mother and father and also ... should be given the greatest opportunity to know their biological mother and father," Mr Joyce said.

The issue of gay marriage has been back on the agenda, with confirmation last week that Liberal MP Warren Entsch planned to introduce a private member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage, with cross-party sponsorship, when Parliament resumes next month.

Before the last election Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised to allow the Coalition party room to decide if government MPs and senators should be allowed a conscience vote on the issue, which if it was allowed would give the bill a chance of passing.

However last week Mr Abbott played down the chances of the private member's bill being debated and put to a vote.

"It's quite unusual for private member's bills to come on for debate and vote in the Parliament," he said on Thursday.


5 July, 2015

The shabby treatment of Tim Carmody by Queensland's snooty legal eagles

The "Courier Mail" apparently got a lot of letters to the editor about the forced resignation of Queensland Chief Justice Tim Carmody.  The selection they published is below.  Clearly it is the legal eagles who refused to work with Carmody who have come out smelling bad.  Carmody was too much a man of the people and not a silvertail.  He has himself been gracious and said he is happy in his new job

YOUR Editorial (C-M, Jul 3) was correct The resignation of Tim Car-mody as chief justice ends a sorry saga in what should be the most trusted institution of ouistate's legal system. That Justice Carmody was seemingly bullied into resigning casts a pall over our judicial  system. The serious nature of Justice Carmody's departure points to the flaws in our judicial system. That 23 out of 27 Supreme Court judges can go on leave at the same time shows that those in positions of power are seemingly granted special rights compared to other public servants. Major reforms should come from this Carmody saga. The petulant schoolyard antics of our top legal minds are dear to see and undeniably Premier Annastacia Pal-aszczuk and Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath have some difficult times ahead in cleaning up this sorry saga. This matter has shown that the common sense, decency and integrity of our top legal minds has been superseded by petty mind games.

Paul Henderson, Wynnum

TIM Carmody's resignation was acclaimed while the Supreme Court justices were castigated in your editorial. What action can be taken to obviate grievances over the outcome of legal appointments? On any inference of other agendas or a politically motivated appointment, rather than one made on merit with due deference to separation of powers, the principle of natural justice should apply. This rule against bias and the right to a fair hearing is up-held in the opinion pieces of Terry Sweetman, and Bill Potts and Rebecca Fogerty, in the same edition. The Westminster system in Australia would be strengthened by an independent commission for judicial appointments, with the Attorney-General exercising discretion on the final decision. Such a process would preclude criticism of and protect judicial appointments.

Roslyn Smith. Middle Park

TERRY Sweetman was incorrect in his column "Justice must now be served". Tim Carmody was qualified for the position of chief justice and capable of doing the job. The issue was that the other silver-spoon justices were not happy as he was not one of their crowd.

Laurence Rucker, New Beith

TIM Carmody can at least take comfort from one thing. He will be relieved of being stabbed in the back by the pack of judges and barristers who set upon him and plotted to railroad him out of the job of chief justice from the moment he was controversially appointed by former attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie. Justice Carmody's biggest weakness is that he's too human for his own good. He wears his character flaws on his sleeve. Unlike his peers in the upper layer of the judiciary, he is not elitist, fake or pretentious. That is what his subordinates saw as a threat. Okay, at times his conduct was ill-advised and unorthodox and he probably shouldn't have had that meeting with Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston last year. But he didn't deserve to take the fall in the manner in which he did.

Tim Badric, Toogoolawah

IT WOULD appear that Queensland has far too many judges if 23 out of 27 of them are on walkabout for their "winter break". Is this a low point in the season for crime and other issues requiring the presence of members of the justice system? One of the claims made against Tim Carmody was that he did not shoulder a fair share of the work. It would appear to me that a fair share of the work amounts to little time indeed, if the system functions with only 14 per cent of judges available for duty.

Mike Heap, Dicky Beach

AFTER their schoolboy per-formance over the Carmody affair it is nice to see that the judges have gone on their school holidays along with all the other children.
Nola Croucher, Kenmore

Not previously online.  Scanned in from The "Courier Mail" of 4 July

Islamic State: Member of Australian charity charged with raising funds for jihadists and recruiting for IS

Members of an Australian charity are under investigation for alleged links to Islamic State (IS).  The charity, Dar al Quran wa Sunnah, was set up to help Syrian orphans, but it has come under scrutiny from Lebanese authorities after the arrest of one of its members, Ibrahim Barakat, in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on May 2.

Barakat appeared before a military court in Lebanon on Friday. He faces charges of fundraising for jihadists, recruiting for IS and fighting against the Lebanese army.

The ABC understands two other dual Australian-Lebanese members of the Sydney-based charity are under investigation in relation to the fundraising charges.

Susan Pascoe, the commissioner for Australia's charity watchdog Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC), said the allegations against Barakat of fundraising for jihadists and recruiting for IS would "absolutely" trigger an investigation.

"That would be a very serious matter and, I might add, that would be a matter not only of interest to the ACNC, but the intelligence and security agencies," she said.

For large-scale investigations, ACNC cooperates closely with financial intelligence agency the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), as well as the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Security sources have alleged Barakat is the religious leader for IS in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli and accused him of recruiting for the group.

He also featured in a video thanking Australians for their donations towards Ramadan food packs distributed in northern Lebanon last year.

The charity is registered with the ACNC and continues to fundraise in Australia for its operations in Tripoli, Turkey and Bangladesh.

Adnan Baradaaji, a dual Australian-Lebanese citizen, is listed on the ACNC website as the charity's president and lives in Sydney.

Lebanese security sources said he was also known as Adnan Baradei and was under investigation.

Ahmad Taleb, the lawyer representing Barakat, said Mr Baradaaji was frequently mentioned in Barakat's file.

Mr Taleb told the ABC that Mr Baradaaji had sent money to Barakat for a long time, but it was unknown whether that money was legitimately used for the purposes of aid, or if any of the money was used to fund jihadist activities.

Mr Baradaaji declined repeated requests by the ABC for an interview but said Barakat was innocent, and maintained his charity did not support terrorism.

The charity has no known office in Australia but operates one branch in the poor Lebanese neighbourhood of Quibbi in Tripoli.

The English Facebook page of the charity regularly posts images of the group handing out aid in Tripoli, Lebanon, but its Arabic Facebook page makes regular references to martyrs who have died fighting in Syria.

One post, uploaded in 2013, features Osama bin Laden with the caption "of the faithful men".

The group was seen in June raising funds from a shopping centre in the south-western Sydney suburb of Bankstown, asking interested individuals to give their bank details for regular direct debits.

It is not known how much money the charity has raised in Australia, with the majority of their fundraising thought to happen online.

The charity has been operating since December 2012 and is due to submit its first financial statement with ACNC in January next year.

Security sources in Lebanon said one other member of the charity, a Sydney-based, dual Australian-Lebanese citizen, was arrested around the same time as Barakat.

He appeared before a military court and was charged with "funding jihadist groups".

The dual-national was then moved to Lebanon's central prison Roumiyeh with other jihadists.

About one month after his arrest, the man was released and it is understood he made his way directly to Australia and is thought to be living in Sydney.

Financing terrorism has been included in the Government's proposed laws, which would see dual nationals stripped of their Australian citizenship if they engage in financing terrorist activities inside or outside Australia.

Barakat will appear again before the military court on November 11.  If convicted, the charges against Barakat carry a prison term of seven to 10 years.

In a statement, Dar Al Quran Wa Sunnah sought to distance itself from Ibrahim Barakat.  The charity said it "completely disavows and rejects" Barakat's alleged actions.

It said the Lebanese man is a "former teacher" of the group, and his actions are "not representative of the organisation itself in any way, shape or form".

"Dar Al Quran Wa Sunnah prides itself on its transparency, robust corporate governance and meeting the objectives for which it was established. It will continue its work in providing education and aid to the poor, needy, widows and orphans in the countries in which it operates", the statement said.


Shock, horror!  The Salvation army are Christians

An internal investigation has been launched at The Salvation Army's much-praised Oasis Youth Support centre in Surry Hills amid claims of homophobia after a young woman was advised to "pray" away her attraction to other women.

The incident has also been blamed for the sudden resignation of the centre's general manager Michelle Bryant, who has been a central figure in promoting the services helping the homeless and disadvantage youth - services that have won the support of many high-profile people, including Hollywood heavyweight Cate Blanchett.

Bryant, who joined the Oasis centre from the corporate world, declined to comment when contacted by PS this week, however she is understood to have described the incident  as "horrific" to friends, who say she has long harboured concerns about how troubled youth, especially those struggling to deal with their sexuality, were being "evangelised" by Salvation Army officers.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Salvation Army said: "The incident relates to alleged comments made to a client in relation to 'sexual orientation'. The Salvation Army is conducting an investigation into the alleged incident and is providing counselling support to both the client and staff of the Oasis Youth Support Network at this time. Salvation Army officers and staff treat every person who comes into our care with non-judgmental respect and acceptance no matter what their situation or circumstance."

However, non Salvation Army staff at the centre were this week questioning exactly how impartial the "non-judgment" claims are given the incident and previous well-documented controversies the organisation has become embroiled in when it comes to gay and lesbian issues.

In 2012, the Salvation Army was forced to make a public apology after one of its majors stated that the Salvation Army believed gay people should die. At the time Major Andrew Craib was the Salvation Army's spokesman in several states and was being interviewed on Melbourne radio station Joy FM about the organisation's Handbook of Doctrine, which refers to the Romans book from the Bible.

The Oasis Ball will be held at Town Hall next month to raise money for the Surry Hills centre. Photo: Kitty Hill
When asked directly whether people who identified as gay or lesbian should "die", as written in Romans, Craib responded on air: "We have an alignment to the scriptures, but that's our belief."

The Salvation Army later claimed the "death" inferred was a "spiritual death" rather than a physical one, but the comments had already generated a national outcry.


Not so little Lambie compares Greens to Islamic State

She's got a point

INDEPENDENT senator Jacqui Lambie's comparison of the Greens to Islamic military extremists has left the political group demanding an apology

ADDRESSING a mining conference in her home state of Tasmania on Friday, Senator Lambie opened her speech with "a little joke".

"What's the difference between the Greens and ISIS?" she asked an audience gathered for the third and final day of the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council annual conference.

"Not very much. They both want to take us back into the dark ages."

Pre-empting a backlash, Senator Lambie said she was not talking behind the Greens' backs.  "I told the same comments (to) a group of Green senators at the last sitting of Parliament. "I make no apologies. They need to be told, and often."

However, Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O'Connor took offence.
"It is outrageous to compare Greens and conservationists with murderous terrorists," she told reporters.  "It's unnecessary, divisive language and she should apologise."

Senator Lambie's comments came in response to a United Nations committee decision in Germany on Thursday to uphold protection measures across Tasmania's 1.5 million hectare Wilderness World Heritage Area.

"The people from the UN would be better off listening to the average person from northwest Tasmania than the environmental zealots and alarmists like the Wilderness Society's Vica Bayley, who will never be satisfied until we're all living in caves, burning candles and eating tofu," she said.

The first-term senator renewed her call for an upper house inquiry into the activities of the Greens, citing the party's move to shut down Tasmania's mining and logging industries. "The key question is: did they use taxpayer funds to kill off Tasmanian jobs and sabotage a sustainable, environmentally friendly industry?"

Senator Lambie went on to tell the conference that she struck a deal with federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, that guaranteed Tasmania the right to burn wood waste to produce energy, in exchange for her support of the renewable energy target legislation.

"Let's see if he keeps his word," she said, according to News Corp.


Taxing Bank Deposits

In the current economic climate of grossly indebted governments and faltering economies, it is imperative that policy for the medium to long-term should focus on wealth-creation, major reductions in government expenditure and a structure of incentives for entrepreneurship, production and savings. Tax reductions have a crucial role as incentives and capital accumulation and savings support investment. The federal government has taken a bold step along these lines in encouraging investment and innovation by small businesses through concessions and tax reduction.

It therefore beggars belief that the government should now be considering imposing a tax on bank deposits. Rather than encouraging enterprise and production by tax reduction, it now proposes to take more money out of the private sector instead of reducing its own expenditures. This will be done by punishing those who save the capital that may be applied to private investment and production - savers whose interest earned on their savings is already taxed to the point of exploitation.

Current monetary policy entails low interest rates for prudent savers, on the one hand and, on the other, encourages the search for higher savings to combat this low rate of return and a degree of inflation that further reduces returns. Savers have therefore turned to the stock market in search of better returns, but at high risk. That high risk has now eventuated and billions of dollars are being lost.

To overfill the cup of dismay, those who have rescued a fraction of their investment from the stock market face the prospect of another smack in the eye if they put their remnants into a bank account.

The proposal to tax bank savings, therefore, is not only bad economic policy it is also bad social policy, and, at the margin, will make some victims candidates for welfare support.

It is said that the government's back-benchers are challenging the proposal. Good luck to them!


3 July, 2015

Australia could have a Congo on its doorstep

Piers Akerman 

LAST week, PNG’s former police commissioner Geoffrey Vaki was found guilty of contempt for not arresting the country’s Prime Minister on corruption charges. As Australia is to provide $477 million in foreign aid to PNG in the coming year, Australians should be better informed about activities in our closest neighbour.

At low tide Australia’s closest islands are less than 3km from PNG, well within wading distance or a short canoe trip.

The conviction of a former police commissioner is no small thing. The fact he was found guilty of contempt for not arresting Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on corruption charges magnifies the importance of this case.

Our nation played a long and honourable role in the history of what is now PNG. Nearly 6000 Australian troops fought in Papua during WWII and, until the prevalent anti-colonisation forces prevailed and PNG attained independent nation status 40 years ago, Australia was responsible for its administration.

In hindsight, independence was premature. The administrative structures were not sufficiently mature and PNG now appears to be teetering on the brink of becoming yet another failed nation.

Last June the country’s anti-corruption agency, Taskforce Sweep, accused O’Neill of official corruption relating to allegedly fraudulent government payments paid to a local law firm and an arrest warrant was issued for him.

O’Neill refused to co-operate and sacked the police commissioner, appointing Vaki.

Vaki prevaricated and refused to arrest O’Neill, saying he wanted to investigate further to make sure the case was “watertight”. In July he told media any moves to arrest O’Neill on corruption charges were “a long way down the road”.

Contempt charges were filed against Vaki by two senior police officers — Detective Chief Superintendent Mathew Damaru, head of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate, and his deputy, Detective Chief Inspector of Police Timothy Gitua — for ignoring the court-ordered warrant and, a year after the arrest warrant was issued, PNG’s Supreme Court found Vaki guilty of two charges of contempt for not executing the arrest warrant and for telling the media he would not make the arrest.

O’Neill is challenging the arrest warrant in a separate action.
PNG is drifting into very dangerous waters. The rule of law must hold or Australia may have a Congo on its doorstep.


Queensland’s gifted students neglected as teachers focus on strugglers

GIFTED students are being overlooked in the classroom, with schools instead focusing attention on strugglers.

University of Southern Queensland special education lecturer Mark Oliver said there was a danger smart students were being turned off school as they coasted through the curriculum.

Mr Oliver warned that gifted students needed support to reach their full potential.

“When you get a bored student they can refuse to go to school or refuse to participate because they don’t see the point ... it then affects their long-term attitudes to school and self-esteem,” he said.

Mr Oliver said there was a focus on teaching for tests and getting students to obtain minimum standards, rather than providing extension to gifted students. Policy change was needed across the education sector.

“Maybe that’s not the best way to go for developing the creativity and talent we need for future careers,” he said.

An Education Department spokesman said schools were committed to meeting the needs of gifted and talented students.

Mr Oliver said teachers did their best but resources were often targeted towards struggling students, rather than those who needed to be challenged.

“We want to make sure these kids are tracking into their abilities for applied creative purposes and are not just producing future worker bees,” Mr Oliver said.

Several workshops have opened over the school holidays to encourage gifted students in Queensland, aiming to give them the best chance at developing their skills.

Queensland Association for Gifted and Talented Children president Anthony Stevens said gifted children needed a challenge.

“People think gifted children don’t need any extension,” he said.  “There’s that idea that we have got them to a certain level and can stop worrying.

“But the problems of the future are going to be solved by people who can come up with wonderful, creative solutions. That isn’t going to be the stuff taught in classrooms because we don’t know it yet.”

He said gifted students needed to be challenged with teachers often trying their best to accommodate students at all levels. “Just like anybody else, gifted kids need to experience what it’s like to work at something,” Mr Oliver said.

An Education Department spokesman said funding had been allocated to each region to support education of gifted children and to develop strategies to meet the needs of students and teachers.

“This is achieved through challenging learning experiences that engage these students in their learning and support them to keep advancing their knowledge and skills,” the spokesman said.

He said there were several programs and awards, including the Queensland Academies’ Young Scholars Program and the Peter Doherty Awards, which were geared towards recognising gifted students.



Three current articles below

Unpacking wind farm impacts in Australia

Fears over adverse health impacts caused by wind farms are being heavily scrutinised during a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial renewable energy source.

The Senate select committee inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines, established last November, is due to report by August 3.

The inquiry’s extensive terms of reference include investigating the impacts of wind farms on household power prices and the Clean Energy Regulator’s effectiveness in performing its legislative responsibilities.

The role and capacity of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in providing guidance to state and territory authorities is also under scrutiny.

The first public hearing was held at Portland in Victoria on March 30 while two were held in Cairns and Canberra in May.

About 460 public submissions have been received with four more public hearings scheduled for June in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra.

Conflicting views

At the most recent hearing in Canberra on May 19, witnesses presented a range of conflicting views about the adverse health impacts of wind turbines, particularly around low-frequency infrasound.

Family First Senator Bob Day said the inquiry had heard extensive evidence from state and local governments that they were struggling with regulating the wind turbine industry.

Senator Day said infrasound did not appear to be covered by regulations, “which mostly cover audible decibel measured sound”.

He said evidence from hearing expert Dr Andrew Bell claimed infrasound cannot be measured, and it was unknown how the ear coped with infrasound.

“It is just not possible to measure it – all you can do is accept the overwhelming evidence that people are affected by it,” he said.

Dr Bell said large infrasonic impulses – whether from a wind turbine, coal mine or a gas turbine or “whatever” – can have an effect of altering the middle ear and causing a pressure effect, “maybe headaches, maybe seasickness and things like that”.

“I think infrasound by itself with very large low-frequency pressure pulses does disturb the human ear,” he said.

“Exactly how it happens is unknown; my suspicion is that it is the middle ear muscle – the gain-control before the cochlea – but we are just beginning to do work in this area.”

The annoyance factor

The Australia Institute research director Roderick Campbell referred to a report on the wider impacts of wind energy written by researchers at the Nossal Research Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Campbell said the institute’s medical researchers concluded in the report that there was “no credible peer-reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a causal link between wind turbines and adverse physiological health impacts on people”.

But he said they found that there was some connection between annoyance from wind turbines and sleep disturbance.

“They felt that attitudes towards wind farms have a considerable influence on these factors and the extent to which noise, visual disruption and social change resulting from wind farms can cause stress or annoyance, which in turn can contribute to health issues,” he said.

“Any effects from such exposures are therefore likely to vary considerably across communities and are best considered indirect effects.”

Mr Campbell said the Warburton review – along with almost every other review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) “which is dominated by wind energy” – found that the RET either has a minimal impact on household prices or, in the longer term, is likely to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.

‘No problems whatsoever’

Australian Wind Alliance national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said evidence also existed of people living near wind farms with no reported problems.

Mr Bray said he had also spoken personally to people who were in “great distress” – and “I certainly do not want to say that they are making stuff up”.

However the danger of looking at those cases selectively was “that you miss the much larger pool of people who live near wind farms who have no health problems whatsoever”.

Mr Bray said if a study was undertaken of all people living around a wind turbine, “you would find that the incidence of health problems is not high”.

However, NSW Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm said: “With cigarettes, the incidence of lung cancer was not high either”.

Public Health Association of Australia CEO Melanie Walker said complaints from people affected by noise from wind turbines must be recognised and managed, with fair and reasonable solutions developed.

Ms Walker said allegations of harm to health from wind turbines must also be placed in the context of minimal evidence supporting some claims and the considerable evidence supporting harm from other energy sources.

She said governments should also support wind power as one of the viable evidence-based renewable energy options to rapidly transition the economy from fossil fuels.

“This is supported by the Public Health Association on both health and safe climate grounds,” she said.

“We know that people who are disturbed by noise become annoyed, and we know that if you are annoyed you become more acutely sensitive to the cause of your disturbance,” she said.

“We are also aware that if you are annoyed and disturbed that you are going to have interrupted sleep, and we know that this is not good for people’s health in the short term.

“The linkage from the short-term annoyance to longer term health problems is more problematic, because there is a chain of events that takes decades to work through.

“But we do know from the broader social determinants of health literature that there are some connections between psychological distress and, over a period of years, the emergence of chronic diseases.

“So we are not saying that this does not happen, but we are saying that it is a long-term, not immediate, effect.

“We are also aware that people who live near coalmines in the Hunter Valley or people who live in Morwell in Victoria also have sources of stress in their environment which is contributing to their sense of unease as well.”

Senator Leyonhjelm said the committee had heard from people who favoured having wind turbines erected on their properties and were also very supportive of renewable energy.

But he said after the wind turbines were erected, some of those people then reported suffering adverse health effects.


Bass Strait's artificial structures good for hungry fur seals

Greenies will hate this,  Everything artificial is BAD, according to them

A study looking at the feeding behaviour of Australian fur seals in Bass Strait has found the animals benefit from the shipwrecks, pipelines and cables in their underwater world.

The researchers found these structures act like artificial reefs, attracting fish and other marine life. This makes them a happy hunting ground for hungry fur seals, which feed on a variety of bony fish, squid and octopus.

Revealed by the study's GPS tracking data and underwater "seal-cam" footage, the results showed the animals from the Kanowna Island colony off Wilsons Promontory favoured particular foraging routes.

"In one case we looked at the GPS track and it was a straight line, which made us think that the seal might be following fishing vessels," said John Arnould from Deakin University.

On closer inspection the researchers realised something else was at play: the animal's foraging path mirrored a pipeline. And it wasn't alone. Others were doing the same.

Underwater infrastructure in Bass Strait includes the high-voltage Basslink power pipeline, communications cables, wells and numerous shipwrecks.

Published in the journal PLOS ONE on Thursday, the findings showed this infrastructure benefited the fur seals because by forming an artificial reef, marine life became concentrated in what was otherwise a sandy seafloor with very little habitat variation.

Associate Professor Arnould said the Australian fur seals, which feed almost exclusively on the seafloor, appear to have cottoned-on.

"For some individuals it influenced where they were foraging and for some of the 36 studied, the artificial structures were heavily influencing where they were foraging," he said. 

The research team, including scientists from the University of Tasmania and the University of California Santa Cruz, also looked at how far from the infrastructure the seals were feeding.

In some cases it was up to 100 metres but Associate Professor Arnould said this still indicated the artificial environment was having an impact on foraging behaviour.

"Structures can influence currents and therefore nutrient transport," he said. "So even if seals aren't always feeding on the pipeline, the pipeline is influencing where they forage."

On one case, black and white video footage of a seal foraging around an oil rig revealed a surprising number of fish concentrated in the area.

"The amount of fish around this structure was unbelievable," Associate Professor Arnould said.

Thirty-six Australian fur seals were fitted with a GPS tracker and dive recorder as part of the study. Two of the 36 had an underwater camera attached to their dorsal fur.

Heavily hunted for their coats in the 1800s, the Australian fur seal population dipped to as few as 20,000. Now protected, the seal population is recovering at about 3000 pups a year, or 2 per cent.


Huge subsidies needed for electric cars:  Australian government not interested

Renault Australia boss Justin Hocevar has held up the delivery of the Renault Nissan Alliance's 250,000th electric car as evidence the Australian government has the wrong approach to motoring.

The partnership sold the landmark car, a Renault Zoe hatch, to French resident Yves Nivelle, who took advantage of a €10,000 ($14,500) subsidy to buy a €21,990 ($31,885) car for little more than half its retail price.

"The government's environmental bonus was a big factor in my decision to get an EV," Nivelle says.

The French subsidy encourages drivers to trade in older diesel models for a new electric car.

For customers who aren't prepare to pay cash for the car, other French subsidies allow drivers to lease an electric Renault for just €99 ($145) per month.

Australian drivers miss out on the Renault Zoe as tawdry charging infrastructure and a lack of rebates provide little incentive for people to choose electric cars.

"The lack of support for electric vehicles certainly impacts the business plan for Renault to introduce electric vehicles to Australia," Hocevar says.

"Currently electric vehicles in Australia carry a price premium over their internal combustion engine counterparts and in such a competitive and price sensitive market; this does make it difficult for us to look at introducing product."

Asked whether the Federal Government would consider subsidising electric cars, a spokesman for Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry and Science, says the main encouragement for people to consider green cars lay in the Green Vehicle Guide website that helps consumers compare cars "based on greenhouse and air pollution emissions".

The government also charges less in luxury car tax to prestige vehicles that use less than 7.0L/100km, however that threshold (set at $75,375) hasn't changed in four years.

Minister MacFarlane is on the record as saying electric cars are "an idea, not a solution", and that he is more interested in hydrogen-fuelled cars than machines that primarily use coal-sourced electricity.

That's not a notion supported in Norway, where government subsidies have pushed electric car sales to around one in five of all models. More than 50,000 electric cars are on the road in Norway, where battery-powered motorists benefit from reduced taxes, toll-free use of motorways, free parking and the use of public transport lanes.

Hocevar says "it would be fantastic if we could emulate this support in Australia", but "at this stage we don't believe there is a plan for the government to introduce support in the near future".  "The lack of support for electric vehicles in Australia is disappointing," he says.

The difference between Australia and Norway is that the majority of local power comes from coal, whereas the Scandinavian nation relies on hydroelectric energy [Those wicked DAMS!] . Yet plenty of other federal, state and local governments around the globe provide strong incentives for green cars, and Hocevar isn't the only Australian executive to criticise the government's approach to electric machines.


2 July, 2015

Sydney Morning Herald judged by its weasel words

I read the SMH most days but from the day of his election until now I have yet to see a good word about Abbott from the SMH.  They are obsessional Leftists -- JR

THE DESIRE for revenge is an understandable, if often unattractive, human trait. As Fairfax have now discovered, it can also be an expensive one.

Yesterday the publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age lost a long-running defamation battle with Treasurer Joe Hockey, who sued following a front-page headline and associated tweets that labelled him a “Treasurer for sale”.

As the court heard, Fairfax’s hostility towards the Treasurer followed an earlier mistake by The Sydney Morning Herald which led to a grudging apology. Rather than being angry at his own staff, Herald editor Darren Goodsir was more ­inclined to be angry with Hockey.

In a text message to Melbourne Age editor in chief Andrew Holden, Goodsir offered this very revealing sentiment: “I have long dreamt (well actually since last Friday) of a headline that screams: Sloppy Joe! I think we are not far off but perhaps even more serious than that.”

As it happens, a “Sloppy Joe” headline may have saved Fairfax $200,000 in defamation payments to the Treasurer. Instead, the Herald went with a more aggressive line, obviously prompted by an equally revealing text message from Holden to Goodsir: “F. k him.”

It is possible that Hockey’s enemies, both inside and outside of parliament, will try to frame this outcome as an example of the government’s alleged opposition to free speech.

It is nothing of the kind. Fairfax was and remains free to publish any words it chooses. But it remains the case that Fairfax is also responsible for those words, and that Hockey maintains the right to take legal ­action when he is wronged.

This is particularly so when words are used out of a misguided sense of retribution. Hockey’s lawyer Bruce McClintock was convincing last year when he pointed out “there was a big measure of payback ­because the Herald had been forced to apologise to Mr Hockey”.

Now Fairfax has been forced to do a lot more than merely apologise. The publisher should consider the motivation behind its attacks on the government, and especially on individual members of that government.


That Leftist double standard again

Attorney-General George Brandis was widely ridiculed after he made these comments in the Senate in May, 2014: “People do have a right to be bigots, you know. People have the right to say things that other people would find insulting, offensive or bigoted.”

Many of Brandis’s critics were from the ABC, where the Attorney-General is something of a hate ­figure.

So it was a surprise on Monday night to hear so many people on the ABC’s Q & A program using Brandis’s exact argument to defend the show’s decision to grant several minutes of airtime last week to ­Islamic extremist Zaky Mallah.

Host Tony Jones kicked off the homage to Brandis with these opening remarks: “The ABC’s editorial standards tell us to present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded, nor disproportionately represented.”

Guest Anne Aly, a research fellow at Perth’s Curtin University, readily agreed. “We deserve to have these issues brought to our attention,” she said.

A video question from viewer Michael Daley followed Aly’s theme: “The High Court has held that there is an implied freedom of political communication. Therefore, while I disagree with the comments made by Zaky Mallah last week, we have an obligation to honour his right say them.”

And guest Lawrence Krauss, one of those relatively obscure American academics who so frequently appear on Q & A, joined in. The ­director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University said that some of Mallah’s views were “despicable”, but in our society “we have to be willing to have discussions about despicable views”.

In other words, people have the right to say things that other people would find insulting, offensive or bigoted. George Brandis should consider himself deeply honoured by the ABC’s belated agreement.


The crooked BOM again

Vanishing hot days of December 1931 — and BOM monthly averages hotter than every single day that month

Lance Pidgeon has drawn my attention to the mysteriously detailed weather maps of the Australian BOM, with their mass of contradictions. The intricate squiggles of air temperature profiles suggests an awesome array of data — especially remarkable in places like “Cook”, which is a railway station with a population of four. Eucla, the megopolis in the map, has a population of 368. The shared border in the map (right) is 674km long top to bottom.

Thankfully, after 80 years of modern technology, the weather at Eucla and in the Great Victorian Desert is much more bearable than anyone would have expected. The BOM ACORN data set works better than airconditioning. In places near Eucla, where old newspapers record 43C, the BOM tells us the highest maximum that month was “under 27C”. Far to the north of there, the highest maximum stayed under 36C, but the average for that same whole month was above 36C. Go figure. It’s a new kind of maths… [or maybe the miracle of reverse cycle a/c?]

There are a half million square kilometers in this map here and almost no thermometers, but plenty of lizards. It is so empty that every railway station and even a single house will earn a “dot” and a label. The point where WA meets SA and the NT is so remote that more people have been to the South Pole. Despite that, the BOM can draw maps of daily air temperature variation separating sand dunes and salt lakes where no man probably walked in a whole year.  Marvelous what computers and assumptions can do.

Jokes aside. The state of the BOM database is not so funny.


Dole crackdown comes into effect

WELFARE recipients will face a federal government crackdown from Wednesday in a bid to bolster the budget.

THE government is increasing the fraud detection activities of the department that manages Centrelink from July 1. It expects to recoup about $1.7 billion from thousands of welfare cheats who have already been identified for lying about their incomes.

Jobseekers who don't show up for appointments with their employment service provider will also have their dole payment docked.

Unemployed people who have their benefits halted after failing to turn up will no longer be able to obtain full back pay if they reschedule a meeting and attend a new appointment.  They must have a good reason for not attending the meeting or cancel ahead of time.

There's also new criteria for people who use Centrelink payments to rent TVs, fridges and other household items.  They'll no longer be able to lease goods under an indefinite or short-term contract of less than four months.

Meanwhile, parents earning more than $100,000 will be cut off from the Family Tax Benefit Part B payment, the threshold for which has been reduced from $150,000.

But there's good news for others.  Thousands of young NSW residents with disability will get the national disability insurance scheme three years early.

The scheme is being rolled out in full for people under 18 years of age from the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Lithgow and Penrith regions.  They'll start receiving individualised care plans from Wednesday.

Hundreds of people with a disability will mark the occasion with an information session for families and the disability community in Penrith.


1 July, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unhappy with the Pope's backing of what Zeg insists on calling "anthropological" global warming. 

Zeg seems to be a bit of a Latinist too.  That gobbledegook above the Pope's head in the toon is not dog Latin  but real Latin.  It translates as, "The crack-brained poison of Rome".

Charleston shooting massacre should prompt us to consider another gun amnesty and buyback (?)

Jane Fynes-Clinton (below) must be desperate for something to say.  The gun scenes in Australia and the U.S. have virtually nothing in common.  Our rate of gun deaths is about a thousandth  of theirs and you are already not allowed to own a gun for self-defence in Australia.  They are allowed to members of gun clubs for sporting purposes only. She is using the fact that the police trace and seize a lot of illegal guns to argue that more illegal guns should be seized.  But do not the seizures show that illegal gun ownership is difficult already and that a lot is  being done to enforce that?

WE NEED to go back to 1996: a new-age firearm buyback and amnesty is needed. And we need it now.

The US President Barack Obama lauded Australia this week for the success of the hard line stance the federal government took 19 years ago in banning semiautomatic and automatic weapons and buying back the newly illegal firearms, but those on the front line say Australia is again on the edge of unthinkable horror.

After witnessing yet another shooting massacre in the US – this time in Charleston, South Carolina in which eight people died as they attended church – we must act. We must not wait for our own mass shooting tragedy to make us sit up.

Victoria Police said this week they are stumbling on illegal firearms every two days in the course of their other work. [so if you make them doubly illegal how is that going to help?]

But if you break down the statistics, Queensland’s situation is possibly worse than in Victoria. The most recent Queensland Police Service annual report shows between 2012 and 2014 the Firearms Investigation Unit seized 804 unlicensed weapons and 4.2 tonnes of ammunition, or more than five weapons a week.

The dedicated Gold Coast Firearms Investigation team recovered 158 unlawful firearms in 2013-14.  Queensland’s part of Operation Unification, a nationwide two-week police operation to recover illegal weapons in June last year, netted 59 firearms.

The Australian Crime Commission last month told a senate committee inquiry it believed there are about 260,000 illegal guns out there.

The ACC last month detailed the emergence of new threats from the illicit supply of firearms, with crims taking advantage of digital technology to open up new supply networks and making guns using 3D printers. Surely taking the standard weaponry out of circulation would free law enforcers to get on with tackling these new threats?

The massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania was, at the time, the worst mass killing by a single gunman anywhere. Within weeks of Martin Bryant’s horrific murder of 35 people, the law was changed to ban rapid-fire weapons, implement a market-value buyback and open up a firearm amnesty on those guns.  Incredibly, 643,726 newly illegal guns were then bought by the government. We have not had a mass shooting since – using the international measure of five people or more being shot.

In the decade up to and including Port Arthur, Australia experienced 11 mass shootings. In these 11 events alone, 100 people were killed and another 52 wounded. But police are telling us of warning shots over our bow and we have to heed them.

The numbers of stashed, illegal firearms is creeping up. These are not box cutters or Tasers: guns have what scientists call a “high lethality index”.

We need another buyback, another amnesty. It would not hurt the responsible owners of the 25,000 registered handguns in Queensland, but would keep us all safer.

And we need to detain those found with illegal, unregistered weapons until their day in court.

Getting tough and calling in illegal weapons worked before . It is worth giving it another whirl, 20 years after its first run.
Let us not have a bloodbath to remind of us of what we should have done.


No Greek tragedy for Australia

Australia itself is not a parasite nation and the Greek parasites have not been bleeding us

Australia is as distant in an economic sense as it is in geography from the financial tsunami in Greece.

The fact that both countries are part of global debt and equity markets means that we get caught up in the contagion effect to some degree – hence local shares fell on Monday by more than 2 per cent as a generalised hysteria hit most stock markets.

World markets will remain skittish until there is some certainty on what happens in Greece, and this means we will retain a seat on the markets rollercoaster ride.

The spectre of Greek mums and dads unable to access their bank accounts, and long queues outside ATMs, is a scary graphic but Greece's problems will not lead to a worldwide financial armageddon. 

The outcome of this week's game of chicken between the Greek government and other European governments, Europe's central bank and the International Monetary Fund won't have a significant impact on the Australian economy.

Australia's trade relationship with Greece is tiny – some olives and a bit of tourism. Greece makes up about 2 per cent of the European economy and 0.3 per cent of the world economy.

Australian private holdings of Greek government bonds is also almost non-existent. Thus it won't really affect our financial system.

Treasurer Joe Hockey believes Australia is "well placed" for a Greek exit from the eurozone.

"Treasury has been engaging with the Reserve Bank, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and we are monitoring the situation closely," he said.

That said, to suggest that a Greek exit is on the cards may prove premature. Plenty of economists and market experts take the view that the parties will blink rather than see a true Greek tragedy.

History has shown during the past six years that debt-laden European economies that have been on the brink of default and whose membership of the European Union has been under threat have seen their various crises averted.

There has been too much at stake in the past for the rest of Europe to allow member countries to undermine the European Union by leaving it.

Until last Friday there was a willingness from other European countries, the ECB and the IMF to thrash out some kind of deal with Greece.

The latest drama emerged because Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras moved the goal posts on Friday by announcing he would leave it to the Greek people to vote on whether they would accept the austerity-heavy bailout package on offer.

Complicating the matter is the fact that before the Greeks even get the chance to vote, they will also have defaulted on loans due for repayment this week.

There is plenty of tough talk from the European lenders and the IMF about an act of default leading to an end to providing Greece with financial assistance.

This unravelling could end in the Grexit and, with it, the introduction of a new Greek currency. But under this scenario the European lender governments, the European Central Bank and the IMF would have little chance of being repaid the €243 billion ($351 million) they have lent.

Thus there is plenty of incentive for Greece's creditors to keep negotiations rolling and kick the can further down the road.

Germany is owed €57 billion, France €43 billion, Italy €38 billion and Spain €25 billion – on top of those countries' contributions to the IMF loans. However, many of these are long-term loans.

And while the Greek people hate the European-imposed austerity sanctions, recent polls suggest most remain in favour of staying in the European Union.

If it loses Greece, the EU also risks losing some of the other national "hospital case" governments that might see leaving as a viable outcome.

But as AMP economist Shane Oliver points out, even the weaker economies within the EU have become stronger in recent years and many have been removed from life support thanks to getting their economic health in order.

There is less toxic debt in Europe than there was a few years ago, in part because the European Central Bank's quantitative easing measures have been soaking up European government bonds.

Thus, there are plenty of compelling reasons for all parties to work out a solution and there would be very few parties (other than the Greek government) that would want to see a true default and a Grexit.

And even though a Greece secession from the EU would be painful, it might at least bring to a close the drawn-out negotiations, which have been going on since 2010.

Even if Greece were to exit, the ripple effect in Australia – or in many other countries – wouldn't be particularly meaningful.

Indeed, the weakness in the Australian currency against the euro should provide an opportunity to book a cheaper holiday in Europe.


Marriage Battle Picks Up Steam in Australia: ‘No Parliament or Court has the Authority to Repeal Biology’

“No parliament or court has the authority to repeal biology,” an Australian pro-family campaigner said at the weekend as the ripple effects of the U.S. Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling lent additional momentum to a growing campaign to redefine marriage in Australia.

Australian Marriage Forum president David van Gend said decisions like the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage is a right was a reflection of “the moral dementia of the West.”

Describing the court decision as an “historic act of social self-mutilation” akin to Roe vs. Wade, van Gend warned it will lead to “a new era of civil discord.”

“We must not let that happen here.”

“If same-sex couples cannot marry, that is because they do not meet nature’s job description for marriage and family: marriage and childbearing is a specifically male-female phenomenon in nature, and no parliament or court has the authority to repeal biology,” he said.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision America’s biggest LGBT civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), is throwing its backing behind the Australian campaign.

The HRC expressed support for the activist group Australian Marriage Equality, whose national convenor Rodney Croome says his country is “now the only developed, English-speaking country that doesn’t allow same-sex couples to marry.”

“We welcome the Human Rights Campaign’s support for the Australian campaign because it will muster support across the world and highlight how far Australia is falling behind,” said Croome.

“Now marriage equality has been achieved in the U.S., all eyes will be on Australia with the hope we are next.”

The leader of Australia’s official opposition Labor Party, Bill Shorten, recently introduced a bill that would alter the definition of who can be legally married by replacing the words “man and women” with “two people.”

“Those eight words [‘the union of a man and a woman’] maintain a fiction that any other relationship is somehow inferior,” Shorten said when introducing the bill on June 1.

The issue was thrust into the political spotlight a decade ago, when Australians who had solemnized same-sex marriages in Canada tried to get courts in their own country to declare those unions to be valid and legal.

In response, the federal parliament in 2004 defined marriage explicitly as a union between a man and a woman.

The next skirmish occurred in 2013, when the federal parliament defeated a bill that would have allowed homosexuals and lesbians to marry. At that time both the then-Labor prime minister, Julia Gillard, and center-right opposition leader Tony Abbott opposed the bill, and it was voted down 98-42.

That same year the legislature of the Australian Capital Territory, which comprises Canberra and the surrounding area, passed the nation’s first same-sex marriage legislation. It was challenged by the federal government, and just five days after it came into effect in December 2013 the High Court overturned it, declaring it “a matter for the federal parliament.”

In the face of the new parliamentary push, Abbott – now prime minister – remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

“What happens in the United States is obviously a matter for the United States, just as what happened in Ireland a few weeks ago is a matter for the Irish,” he said in Melbourne on Saturday, referring to the Supreme Court decision and to Ireland’s May 22 referendum legalizing same-sex marriage.

“As for our own country, obviously there is a community debate going on,” Abbott said. “I have views on this subject which are pretty well known and they haven’t changed.”

‘The dominos are falling around the world’

Parliament is expected to take up Shorten’s bill when it resumes after the current winter recess.

“This is a joyous day in America,” Shorten said in response to the Supreme Court decision. “In Australia, let us make it a call to action.”

It was the Irish referendum that prompted Shorten to introduce the measure. He told reporters on Saturday that if a “famously religious society” like Ireland could take the step, “why couldn’t we in Australia?”

“America is another society which is very influential in Australia from its media, its culture, to its system of government in many ways,” Shorten added. “So now America too has moved on the path of marriage equality.”

“The dominos are falling around the world at an ever increasing rate, and it’s well beyond time that Australia caught up,” said Nick McKim, a lawmaker with the Australian Green Party.

“Marriage in Australia is a civil institution that belongs to our people, not to the churches which continue to oppose marriage equality,” he added.

But the Australian Christian Lobby slammed the decision by “five unelected judges,” charging that the necessary flow-on effect of making marriage available to same-sex couples is to deny a child either its mother or its father.

“The five judges overturned the democratic votes of more than 50 million Americans in 31 states which have voted to keep marriage as between one man and one woman,” said ACL managing director Lyle Shelton.

“Only 11 states [10 states and DC] permitted same-sex marriage through legislative or voter action. Everywhere else, judges have made the decision for the people on behalf of the homosexual lobby.

“America, the land that gave us ‘we the people,’ has ceded its democracy to ‘you the judges.’”


Big Greenie Pow wow may lead to more moderation in demands

The set of policy principles released by the Australian Climate Roundtable yesterday are extraordinary for two reasons.

First, the principles themselves offer some calm common sense in an arena that has been dominated by ferocious partisan politics and dramatic policy reversals. They could therefore offer a way to break the current policy deadlock and re-establish a bipartisan approach to climate change.

Second, the principles are the product of a highly unusual alliance of ten organisations, representing business, unions, environmentalists, and the community. It is unusual that such disparate groups can sit down together to talk, and downright extraordinary that they can agree on a common set of principles. So what is going on here?

A principled approach to policy?

On the first point, the principles state that: Our overarching aim is for Australia to play its fair part in international efforts to achieve this while maintaining and increasing its prosperity.

The Roundtable’s ideal policy would lead to “deep reductions in Australia’s net emissions”, using policy instruments that are well targeted, well designed, based on sound risk assessments, internationally linked, operate at least cost, and are efficient.

On the environmental side, there is a demand for net zero emissions in the long run, an acceptance that there are market failures that need to be fixed, and a call for long-term planning based on climate change scenarios.

On the economic side, there are statements about achieving reductions at the lowest cost, avoiding regulatory burdens, ensuring no loss of competitiveness for trade-exposed industries, and the need for a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy, without undue shocks for investors.

Finally, on the social side are concerns about providing decent work opportunities, protecting the most vulnerable people, and helping communities to make the necessary transition.

While there is apparently something here for everyone, the contentious issues are avoided.

There is no mention of the Government’s Direct Action Emissions Reduction Fund, the former Government’s price on carbon, or the recently reduced Renewable Energy Target. This is clever politics, as it allows for the establishment of a broad consensus without the need to quibble over policy detail.

An unlikely alliance

The roundtable’s membership is remarkably diverse: the Australian Aluminium Council; the Business Council of Australia; the Australian Industry Group; the Energy Supply Association of Australia; the Investor Group on Climate Change; the Climate Institute; WWF Australia; the Australian Conservation Foundation; the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU); and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS). How and why did these disparate groups form such an alliance?

It is clear from the principles themselves that all the member groups want some policy consistency that will survive regardless of who is in Government. The last thing they want is for the recent cycle of major policy changes to continue.

Such reversals impose waves of new compliance costs on industry and create uncertainty for investors, which is why business is so heavily represented in the Roundtable. Policy changes also make it difficult to consolidate significant emissions reductions, which is where the environmentalists come in. Finally, policy uncertainty has implications for employment options and the cost of living, which is why the ACTU and ACOSS are also on board.

There are also some specific strategic advantages to being involved in the Roundtable for each of the participants.

Business groups that have been getting bad publicity about their contributions to climate change might use the Roundtable to improve their image and frame the future policy debate in a way that suits them (for instance, by calling for a strong focus on costs and competitiveness).

Environmentalists, who have effectively been sidelined by the Abbott government on climate change, might see this is a way to deal themselves back into the policy game and make some progress in reducing emissions.

Unions concerned about their members' future employment might see this as a way to manage the transition by creating new “green-collar” jobs that will offset the loss of employment opportunities in the older polluting industries.

Finally, ACOSS is clearly worried about the impact of climate policies on low-income households, and being part of the Roundtable ensures that their concerns are heard.

A precedent for influencing policy?

While unusual, alliances such as the Australian Climate Roundtable are not unknown in Australian environmental policy. Sometimes they have led to the creation of effective long-term policies; other times they have fizzled out, leaving little more than rhetoric.

One positive example is that of Landcare. In 1989 the Australian Conservation Foundation and the National Farmers' Federation proposed a grant scheme that would empower communities to rehabilitate their local environment. More than a quarter of century later, Landcare is still going strong with the support of all four leading political parties.

On the negative side, an extensive consultation process involving all levels of government, business, unions and environmentalists led to the creation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development in 1992. It is still on the books and referred to by current legislation, yet we don’t appear to be much closer to sustainability.

So will this be a Landcare moment or not? Only time will tell.


HOME (Index page)

Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


"Tongue Tied"
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"Marx & Engels in their own words"
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To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
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Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger


"Food & Health Skeptic"
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QANTAS -- A dying octopus
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Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
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Bank of Queensland blues

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