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?


30 June, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG sees the campaign for homosexual marriage as an offshoot of Marxism

Making Greenies pay their own way is "Blue blooded"?

New Matilda says so -- so who am I to argue?  I can see no logic in it however.  I think "Blue blooded" just seemed like a good term of abuse for them.  As good Leftists they of course think that government should fund everything.  The idea that Greens are just another political lobby who should pay their own way is incomprehensible to them.  A few excerpts from the usual long-winded ramble below

In December 2013, the Abbott government gutted the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders, cutting off all funding, including $10 million over four years despite the agreement being just six months in.

Much of it was effective immediately, and the eight EDOs around the country were told that beyond June 2014 the recurrent base-funding the organisations had received from federal governments for 18 years would be pulled.

The flow of federal funds to the EDOs was critical to their ability to perform their public interest role, but the Attorney General refuses to meet with them to discuss the cuts.

There had been no warning, no consultation, and despite recommendations from the Productivity Commission and a Senate Inquiry, there has been no back-down.

The government has made it clear it does not value the work that the 20 full-time legal staff and 17 non-legal support staff around the country do, or the function they serve our democracy.

Driving them out of the democratic contest over the environment will diminish citizens’ access to justice, the quality of environmental protections, and the scrutiny and awareness of the corporations whose operations have the potential to permanently damage our environment.

The Productivity Commission has noted that the work EDOs do - on law reform, on public education, in outreach and importantly, running cases for people who otherwise couldn’t afford them - is not being done by anyone else.

Environmental Defenders Offices are a recognised bulwark against corporate power over the biosphere. Implicit in that, Smith said, is the fact they “can’t apologise for being relevant and playing the role we do”.

“We are not a lobbying group, we’re not a campaign group. But the work we do - public interest environmental law - is, by nature, about being relevant,” he said.

“That means working in the areas which are often high-profile and highly contested.

“At the moment that is definitely in the area of coal mining and coal seam gas, but it wasn’t so long ago we were working almost reservedly in the area of, say, native vegetation reform.”

Earlier this year EDO Queensland brought a case which revealed that coal mining company Adani had provided decision makers with extremely high estimates of the taxes, royalties and jobs its mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin would create.

The company plans to build the biggest mine in Australia’s history, along with the world’s largest coal terminal, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. In August, a separate EDO case will examine its environmental record, which is scarred with breaches and negligence in its home state of India, and whether the Environment Minister should have taken the development's vast carbon emissions into account.

Despite the potential for huge environmental damage and dodgy calculations the state government, under Campbell Newman’s tenure, had been offering to help pay for critical and expensive rail infrastructure to ensure Adani’s mine (and nine others) went ahead.

Recent weeks have shown that the Abbott government - which George Brandis reiterated last week believes “coal is very good for humanity indeed” - is more than willing to extend the same favour through its $5 billion Northern Australia Investment Facility.

The case the EDO brought - through logic and proper application of environmentally law - directly challenged the legitimacy of the Galilee developments.

And yes, it potentially damaged proponents’ chances of approval and financial close.

The small community group the Queensland EDO represented could not have funded a five-week case involving nearly two dozen expert witnesses, but the new information it dragged into the public domain has added substantial weight to widespread community concern.

Facilitating communities’ use of the law is central to the EDOs function, which is largely why the Senate Inquiry Into the Abbott Government’s Attacks on the Environment this week found that “the long-term cost to communities and to the environment will far outweigh the short-term financial gains achieved by the defunding of the EDOs.”

To the EDO, access to justice for communities and the environment is a public good: “The dominant purpose is not to protect or vindicate a private right or interest, but to protect the environment.”


China FTA skills test waiver alarms racist union

Anti-Chinese paranoia from unionists again -- from the rogue and far left ETU  this time.  Unionists were behind the original white Australia policy. It looks like nothing has changed

Chinese tradesmen will be allowed to work here without undergoing the usual skills tests,-under a secretive "side" deal struck as part of the Australia-China free-trade agreement, unions have claimed.

The Electrical Trades Union said it would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to demand a reversal of the federal government's decision to forgo skills assessments for Chinese workers in 10 trades.

According to a letter outlining the deal, there will be no requirement for Chinese electricians, cabinetmakers, carpenters and mechanics to undergo mandatory skills assessment in order to qualify for a 457 visa.

Skills assessments are normally required to make sure a prospective migrant has qualifications and skills that match the Australian standard.

ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said waiving the requirement was dangerous.  "To allow electricians from a country with an appalling record on industrial safety – where more than 70,000 people a year die in workplace accidents – to practice without first assessing their skills or competency is negligent in the extreme," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"If we stop assessing the skills of overseas workers and just starting handing licences around, it's not a matter of if, but when, somebody is killed."

The China-Australia free-trade agreement was reached a fortnight ago. Mr Hicks said the skills assessment waiver was only revealed on Friday, when the government released a series of documents about the agreement.

A letter from Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb to Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng was dated June 17 and said other occupations currently requiring skills assessments will be reviewed within two years, with the aim of further reducing, or even eliminating, such requirements for all occupations within five years.


Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said the claims were the latest instalment of the xenophobic scare campaign being mounted by the union movement against the China FTA.

"The FTA does not, I repeat does not, change the skills and experience requirement that needs to be met by a skilled worker applying for a visa to work in Australia. Applicants will still be required to demonstrate to the Immigration Department that they possess the requisite skills and experience to work in this country.

"This includes evidence of qualifications, memberships of relevant bodies or associations, references, CVs, documents showing English language skills and so on," Mr Robb said.  "This brings China inline with countless other countries including the US, countries in the EU, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and so on."


Teachers will undergo national literacy and numeracy exams to test skills

TEACHERS will face a new national exam on literacy and numeracy from August, designed to stop universities from churning out graduates who struggle to spell and count.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne will today announce a pilot program to test the first 5000 teaching ­students.

But the first guinea pigs for the new test will be assured that they can still graduate — even if they fail.

The sample exam paper reveals a taste of what teachers can expect, including the style of questions that teachers will be asked on numeracy and ­literacy.

It includes problems designed to test teachers’ understanding of syntax, grammar and punctuation, with graduates asked to spot sentences without errors.

Teachers will also be offered a calculator to assist with some of the questions that ask graduates to determine the percentage of funding remaining in an education budget, and challenges graduates’ ability to calculate a student’s marks.

From next year, passing the test will be a requirement to graduate.

“I want to ensure we get this right,’’ Mr Pyne said. “For too long there have been public concerns about the variability in the quality of teaching graduates and in the effectiveness of existing ­programs in preparing new teachers.

“Testing key aspects of the personal literacy and numeracy skills of aspiring teachers will assist higher education providers, teacher employers and the general public to have absolute confidence in the skills of graduating teachers.’’

In one study, graduates at an unnamed Australian university struggled to spell a list of 20 words including ‘acquaintance’, ‘definite’, ‘exaggerate’, and ‘parallel’.

More than 200 students were tested with not a single teacher managing to spell every word right in a list of 20 words. One teacher struggled to spell more than one word correctly on the list.

Mr Pyne has also written to university vice-chancellors to stress that the new national exam must become core content for graduates from next year.

The test plan follows complaints universities are accepting students to teaching degrees with marks lower than 50 per cent for their Year 12 exams.

But Mr Pyne has insisted that ATAR scores are a “blunt instrument’’ that he doesn’t want to get too caught up on.

According to Department of Education statistics, universities offered 894 places to applicants with ATARs of 50 in 2014. The results were an improvement on the previous year.

The new trial will be available for any teaching student regardless of whether they are in first year or a graduating student.

The tests will be conducted by Australian Council for Educational Research.

Students in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin and the regional locations of Albury and Ballarat will be tested.

Mr Pyne said the trial of the first 5000 teachers is designed to ensure that the test is “fit for purpose”.

It will become a course requirement for all initial teacher education students graduating from Australian universities from the end of next year.

New measures will also be introduced to ensure that teachers are provided with greater training on how to teach literacy and numeracy including a focus on phonics.

The decision to introduce a national exam for new teachers was a recommendation of the Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers report.


Lever Action - the new DEMON GUN!

Many of you may have read or viewed disturbing media reports over the past week on how Victorian Police are “concerned” about a new “rapid fire” lever action shotgun about to be released for sale in Australia. As expected these reports have been followed by calls in the media and by various “experts” and officials for a rethink (read new gun grab) on Australian gun laws.

At Shooters Union we have been aware of a disturbing trend appearing over the past year. First a rumour here and a dropped word there from someone in a meeting. We were hesitant to bring it to our members because, to be honest, every single official that was approached denied there were any plans afoot to change legislation regarding certain types of firearms.

OOPS, now it appears these same people are coming out from their dark little corners because they think a modern lever action shotgun can be used to make the public fearful enough to push even more non-effective restrictions on you, the legitimate law-abiding firearm user.

In a nutshell, this is what we have been hearing over the past year or so:

Various state police officials in several states, have been working together with a shadowy group that operates under the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Office (Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group) on various firearm related issues and one that has been repeatedly raised has been the concept of heavily restricting “Manually Operated Rapid Fire Weapons” MORFW (surely only a government department could even imagine such a title).

MORFW’s include the following:

 *   All lever action firearms (rifle/shotgun)

 *  ALL pump rifles (pump action shotguns already heavily restricted)

 *  Straight pull bolt action rifles with detachable magazines
The basic proposal is that MORFW’s should be reclassified as Category C firearms, as is currently done for self loading rimfire rifles and shotguns and pump action shotguns. This means that 95% of shooters could not own or use them!

BUT, here is the good news. To accomplish this the Federal government would have to get ALL Australian state governments to agree to change their legislation.
This will be hard to do as most state governments have ZERO interest in changing these laws and going through all the massive political fight that will come with such proposals (I am hoping you are in the fight right alongside us).

So that is exactly why you are now seeing very carefully dropped articles in media across the country about the new “demon shotgun” that can fire so rapidly and is “deadly” (I guess other 12 gauge shotguns are not deadly??). The people pushing for these outrageous changes need a focus, something to try and gain some support and the lever action shotgun has been picked as the new poster child for “bad gun”.

Leaving aside the inherent idiocy of the whole “good” gun “bad” gun concept we live with in Australia, this new move against what amounts to probably 30-40% of all legally owned firearms is mind numbing.

As firearm owners we need to be united in opposing this concept totally, utterly and completely.

Some facts:

 *  Lever Action Shotguns have been around since the 1880s, and newmodels have been selling well in Australia for a number of years without problems.

 *  Lever action rifles are the second most popular action type in Australia and have been selling here since the 1870s.

 *  All firearms are safe in the right hands.

You can  write or talk to your local MPs and let them know your feelings on the issue. The only way these laws will get through is if you and your shooting friends say nothing and do nothing.


Australia Post cuts 1900 jobs after losing more than $1.5 BILLION in five years

Australia Post will cut 1900 jobs as the use of letters continues to sharply decline.

The company announced of Friday that its letters business had recorded losses of more than $1.5 billion over the past five years.

Australia Post managing director Ahmed Fahour said the letters business had recorded losses of nearly $500 million for this financial year.

'We have reached the tipping point that we have been warning about where, without reform, the business becomes unsustainable,' Mr Fahour said in a statement.

'We welcomed the Federal Government's decision to support reform so we can manage the mail service losses, meet the changing needs of our customers and continue to invest in growing parts of our business such as parcels and trusted services.'

The company is planning to offer 1900 voluntary redundancies over the next three years, the ABC reported.

Australia Post said it had established a fund to assist with employee retraining and redeployment – with $190 million set aside for voluntary redundancies.

'The significant and ongoing decline in physical mail volumes means there is less work in our mail service,' Mr Fahour said.

'We forecast in the next three years there will be a gradual reduction in jobs across the mail network because of this dramatic shift in consumer behaviour.

'I have made a commitment that there will be no forced redundancy of staff impacted directly by changes in our mail service and who are actively seeking jobs in other parts of the business.

'The provision will provide a safety net for employees who we know will choose not to transition with us and who may be legally entitled to a voluntary redundancy.'

Australia Post said ordinary mail volume decline accelerated to more than 10 per cent this financial year, the largest annual decline ever recorded.

The company added there would be no change to its five-day-per-week delivery service.


29 June, 2015

Dick versus Angus over air space reform in Australia

Ben Sandilands (below) is not the most reliable journalist and his outlet, "Crikey" is very Leftist but sometimes even Leftists have something reasonable to say and I think his account below stacks up pretty well.  I have read Houston's reply to Smith and he does seem to be cost-blind. All he does is praise his organization.  His background is military, not business  -- JR

Are we wasting millions, and destroying general aviation, by inadequately and unfairly introducing new air traffic control technology?

In recent months an important, if not broadly understood aviation issue has been pursued behind the paywall of The Australian by Dick Smith on one side and the air traffic control provider AirServices Australia on the other.

Paywalls are essential if professional journalism is to survive, but unfortunately, a model that works effectively in Australia in conjunction with broad readership hasn’t yet been proven, which means that  it is questionable as to whether there has been much connection between a crucial number of readers and the issues that have been raised by the newspaper’s detailed and perceptive coverage.

Yet that continuing argument, concerning new air traffic control technology  (ADS-B or automatic dependant surveillance-broadcast) is one in which ruinous costs could lead to the shorter term destruction of the already hard pressed private and general aviation sectors in this country.

GA operators and private pilots are being asked to spend substantial sums of money on equipment that makes them ADS-B visible,  yet not in practice be of use in many lower flight level situations, meaning that the money spent will not deliver improved safety outcomes in airspace and approaches to a wide range of secondary or regional airstrips where they are urgently needed.

These include airports where civil airliners, hobby ultra-light flyers, parachutists, private jets,  more conventional propeller light aircraft and helicopters might all  be using the same airspace, such as around Ballina or Port Macquarie.

While there are many voices canvassed by The Australian stories, and the twists and turns in the narratives do not lend themselves to bland summary, the twin focuses of the row have been on the opposing positions taken by Dick Smith and Angus Houston, who is the chairman of AirServices Australia.

Angus, as he prefers to be called, says everything is fine and Dick is wrong, and has in passing taken umbrage at criticism in the Senate of the amount of money being paid to AirServices managers, who are responsible for a public enterprise which supports itself from air navigation charges and makes profits which flow straight into Treasury.

My view is that Angus underlines a problem with the administrative and executive branches in Australia, in that there is a strong preference in Government to believe anything the Mandarins tell Ministers regardless of what party or coalition is in power,  and that there is sod all serious independent auditing of claims and budget efficiency.

Angus is very loyal to his organisation, and some very fine professionals within it, but perhaps insufficiently skeptical of its narrative over the application of ADS-B technology as it currently stands.

Dick isn’t the only prominent general aviation figure quoted by coverage in The Australian  as to the inadequacy of the airspace management in Australia today, and the more so, under ADS-B in the near future.

If Angus were to shift modes from defending the air traffic control establishment to dealing with the need to make the reforms work without further risking the survivability of the private pilot and general aviation interests in Australia we might have progress.


More nonsense from ratbag Triggs

Her track record of political bias ensures that even if she makes reasonable decisions they are unlikely to be respected.  She has condemned herself to irrelevance

Banking giant ANZ has refused to apologise to a man, despite the human rights commissioner's recommendations to do so, after the company withdrew their job offer due to his armed robbery conviction back in 1979.

The man who made the complaint to the commission, only known as Mr AN, alleged that the bank had discriminated against him as they chose not to hire him on the basis of his criminal record.

While ANZ admits in the report - handed down by Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs - that Mr AN's criminal history was a reason for the exclusion, another contributing factor was his failure to disclose his conviction for the armed robbery offence.

The report - handed down by Professor Triggs handed down in March - states that Mr AN was interviewed for a role at ANZ as an information technology project manager in June 6, 2013. He was later selected for the position with a start date of August 5.

Documents further reveal that Mr An thereafter signed a form, warranting that 'he had not been convicted of a criminal offence anywhere in the world and acknowledged that ANZ may obtain a police clearance check to validate this'.

A few days later, he was questioned by a recruitment consultant from Robert Walters - responsible for sourcing candidates for the position - about his prior conviction which he had not disclosed.

While Professor Triggs acknowledged that Mr AN was wrong for not providing this information, she states that he had provided an explanation behind his decision.

'There is no doubt that the offence which Mr AN was convicted of was a serious offence,' she wrote.  'However, the offence occurred in 1978, more than 35 years ago. This offence was Mr AN's only offence and he has had no subsequent convictions.

'Mr AN was 21-years-old at the time of the offence. He has provided some context around the offence stating that he had "fallen in with the wrong crowd".' 

Professor Triggs also recognised that Mr AN has been a volunteer fire-fighter for more than 10 years and received the National Emergency Medal for his services during the Black Saturday fire.

Her report further states that he had been employed full-time since 1982 and held senior management roles at various companies where he gained positive references.  'It is difficult to see what more Mr AN could have done to rehabilitate himself,' Professor Triggs wrote.

'With these factors in mind, I am not persuaded that there is a sufficiently tight or close correlation between the inherent requirement of the Position and the exclusion of Mr AN.

'I am not persuaded that Mr AN was unable to perform the inherent requirements of the Position.  'I consider that ANZ's decision not to engage Mr AN constitutes discrimination.'

While Mr AN does not seeking any compensation from ANZ, he requested the bank review its policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

He also requested the company to further acknowledge and apologise for the hurt and suffering they caused him.

An apology in written form was recommended by Professor Triggs as an appropriate remedy for discrimination.

Despite these findings, ANZ did not apologise to Mr AN but did review its Background Checks Policy.

'ANZ respectfully declines to provide a formal written apology to Mr AN,' the statement in the report read.

The bank supported its decision by stating that Mr AN did not disclose his criminal record during the recruitment process.

'ANZ holds its employees and contractors to the highest levels of integrity and honesty,' the statement said.

'It is ANZ's position that, due to the nature of the offence for which he was convicted, Mr AN could not fulfil the inherent requirements of the role, which included that he act in accordance with ANZ's Codeof Conduct and display honesty and integrity.'


Flag-waving protesters carry a PIG on a spit to demonstrate outside ABC offices against broadcaster's decision to allow former terror suspect on Q&A

Angry protesters cooked a pig on a spit outside the ABC's headquarters in Melbourne as they demonstrated against the broadcaster's decision to allow a former terror suspect to appear on their flagship show Q&A.

The far right group United Patriots Front marched to the office building in the city centre, waving Australian flags and calling on people to join their protest against Zaky Mallah, who was in the panel show's audience on Monday night.

As ABC staffers were told to stay away, some members of the group turned the spit outside the main entrance - an act designed to offend Muslims, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.

'In here [the ABC] public opinion is shaped artificially. It's not democratic. It's not Australian,' one protester said, The Sydney Morning Herald have reported.  

On their Facebook page, The United Patriots Front state they are 'a nation wide movement, opposing the spread of Left Wing treason and spread of Islamism.'

In a video posted on their social media, the anti-Islam group have said they are 'asking the country to stand up and condemn the actions of the ABC because Zaky Mallah is a convicted criminal.'

'No one wants to realise the truth, everyone's too scared, man up,' one of the protesters angrily yelled while standing in front of the pig carcass.

The ABC have confirmed they have heightened their security since Monday night's episode of Q&A and have received several threatening phone calls.

'Dildos from the United Patriots Front protesting outside Abc Melbourne in great numbers. 5 memebrs and 1 pig. Total 6. Ha!' Mr Mallah tweeted on Saturday.

This comes after Mr Mallah told Daily Mail Australia that his reputation 'is pretty much screwed up' and 'my prospects of employment are zero'.  'My last job was at Luna Park, last year, and after three weeks they didn't ask me back, probably looked me up. But now, how am I even going to get voluntary work?'

The 31-year-old Sydney man has been under siege since he controversially appeared on the ABC's Q & A program on Monday night, and challenged Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade Steve Ciobo over the government's proposals to strip dual nationals involved in terrorism of citizenship.

In a heated exchange, Mr Ciobo suggested that Mr Mallah would have been convicted on terrorism charges but for a technicality.

Mr Mallah is the first person charged under the government's new new anti-terrorism laws in 2003. He was acquitted in a jury trial and pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening a government official, for which he served two years' prison.

After the program, host Tony Jones apologised on air to the government. Mr Mallah came under further challenge by Waheed Aly on The Channel Ten program, The Project.

Since Monday night, government ministers have attacked the ABC and its managing director Mark Scott for engaging in a 'form of sedition'.

The ABC has hit back, saying it supports free speech. From his flat in Parramatta in western Sydney, Mr Mallah has watched himself at the centre of a national debate on television and social media in which he has been branded ' a terrorist', a 'convicted terrorist', a 'pig' and a 'rapist'.

'I feel I have been used and I don't deserve it. I've said stupid things in the past and I'll probably continue to do so. I can be a d**k and I'll probably continue to be a d**k, but there's no law against that.'


University uses sport to promote literacy among kids

Monash University has partnered with the Melbourne Football Club to deliver the club’s Read Like a Demon literacy program, aimed to inspire a love of reading and improve literacy among primary school students.

The program offers students a chance to participate in classroom reading and writing workshops with players from the Melbourne Football Club (the Demons), and a number of best-selling children’s authors.

The University's Faculty of Education, together with the Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation, will now provide participating schools with children's literature and teaching resources linked to the Australian Curriculum.

Monash researchers will also investigate whether elite sportsmen as reading role models encourage reading and improve literacy among the more reluctant readers. The research will inform future program enhancements and give a snapshot of the program’s success.

Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Education, Professor Deborah Corrigan said supporting positive literacy values with sporting role models provided children with confidence and improved reading and literacy development.

“The program offers primary school students an opportunity to identify with an elite sports person as a role model to inspire them to enjoy reading,” Professor Corrigan said.

“The program is designed to complement classroom literacy teaching, through engagement with reading role models and the provision of an on-line book review platform.

“We hope the program will enable more independent reading practices that students will need for academic success as they progress into higher year levels.”

The Read Like a Demon program aims to increase the literacy skills of grades 3, 4 and 5 students by giving them interactive ways to engage with reading and writing.

The comprehensive program features lessons, student activities, videos, book reviews, writing activities and access to the Book Club. The program also encourages children to visit and upload their own book reviews and stories.

The program was introduced in 2009 and in 2010 it was extended to offer creative writing workshops.

The 2015 Read Like a Demon program runs until 18 August. It is hoped up to 20 schools in the Casey region will take part in the program this year.

Press release

28 June, 2015

David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians

The hairless Senator is quite right.  Australia's original pygmy race survived into the modern era in the jungles of Far North Queensland -- particularly in the Kuranda area. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Kuranda in 2004 when a very short dark man walked right past me.  A full discussion of the evidence is here

SENATE crossbencher David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians.

His comments came ahead of the release of a parliamentary committee report today that will give the green light to a referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution and remove sections that could allow racial discrimination.

Senator Leyonhjelm says he is a “black and white anti-racist” and agrees with removing the two references to race.

However, the Liberal Democrat says he needs to be persuaded on the argument that Aboriginal people should be recognised as the First Australians.

“There may have been people in Australia prior to the Aborigines,” he told reporters in Canberra, adding that there were some anthropologists who argued that case.

That view was based on the Bradshaw or Gwion Gwion rock paintings in Western Australia that were distinctly different from other Aboriginal artworks.

Senator Leyonhjelm said several serious anthropologists had made the argument, but could not name them or their credentials.

“I could (name them) if I checked it out,” he said. “You’ve asked me at a door stop, I can’t off the top of my head.  “But if there is any doubt at all, why would you put history in the constitution?”


Left discovers too late the enemy of its enemy no friend

For the green Left, any enemy of Tony Abbott will have their redeeming features. This week’s Q&A furore, at heart, was a classic demonstration of this mindset.

Even a jihadist sympathiser and convicted criminal who disseminates public threats of sexual violence against women was given an ABC platform — anything for a gotcha moment against the evil Abbott government.

Given this is the program’s schtick, the studio audience applauded. The mentality at play was brilliantly mocked by the iconoclastic John Safran (whose talent, to give due credit, was unearthed by the ABC). “I’m a man who keeps a woman hostage down a hole,” Safran tweeted, “and dances around in a human skin suit … who hates Tony Abbott! *Q&A audience applauds.”

This time it backfired. Not only did this ugly episode fail to embarrass the government, it actually helped to underline the Coal­ition’s argument for tougher anti-terrorism laws, while also inflicting enormous self-harm on the national broadcaster.

This is the problem with hatred as a motivating force for political strategy; it leads to misguided ­decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

As attacks on Abbott become more unhinged, the Left appears more desperate and out of touch.

To be fair, we were reminded of transgressions on the Right this week on The Killing Season when a teary-eyed Craig Emerson recounted his distress at signs labelling Julia Gillard a witch or bitch.

These were placards from a fringe group and Abbott paid a high price for being at that event, even though the signs were moved into place after he took the stage.

There is no comparison to the way the Left invokes hatred in the core of its arguments.

The same ABC program that gave a platform to Zaky Mallah, the misogynist justifier of jihadists, has hosted lengthy denunciations of Abbott over denied allegations of a punched wall more than 30 years ago.

Abbott repeatedly has been abused as a dog, lout, nut job, mis­ogynist, thug, homophobe, sexist, racist, bullyboy and Neanderthal by other MPs. (Let’s not even venture into the terminology used on social media about anyone.)

This demonisation of conservatives has become commonplace. Take these comments from Greens leader Richard Di Natale — keeping in mind that he is supposed to be the new kinder, gentler and more reasonable face of the party.

“It’s not easy to sit in a room with somebody like Scott Morrison and look him in the eye and know this is somebody who locked up young kids, but you have to get past that,” Di Natale told this newspaper.

Even if we overlook the pivotal and, presumably, deliberate factual error that has Morrison putting kids into detention when his record has been to release them, it is impossible to miss the hate dripping from that comment; the nasty, personal disdain based on a political difference. If a government minister spoke in such terms about a Greens senator there would be hell to pay. No doubt Di Natale expects canonisation at the altar of Gaia for holding his nose and dealing with a lesser moral being such as Morrison just for the good of the movement.

Politicians have to have thick skins. Unlike Emerson, I am not here to weep at their misfortune.

My point is about what this does to the political debate, and for the Left it has often led them astray. If you convince yourself of the absolute moral turpitude of your political opponents then, by extension, you will develop a low opinion of their supporters.

Given the Coalition governs with a substantial majority, Labor’s hate can manifest itself in disdain for mainstream Australians, the people it needs to win over. Frontbencher David Feeney gave us a classic example this week, circulating a map on Twitter showing the parts of Sydney held by the Liberal Party as being populated by “toffs” or “bigots”.

When I tweeted how extraordinary this denunciation was, he deleted it. The people populating these areas are voters Labor should want to woo and, it hopes, govern — not denigrate.

Feeney’s attack reminds me of Mark Latham’s pitch to the mainstream when he said half the population was the “disengaged, self-interested middle class”. Or Latham’s bid for the military vote when he wrote, “I detest war and the meatheads who volunteer to kill other human beings.” Haters are gonna hate but voters aren’t likely to warm to it. The anti-Abbott obsession and hatred paraded by the Greens and Labor fires up Twitter supporters but will irk the mainstream.

The overreach can make a pretty disorderly Coalition seem relatively calm and measured when compared with those spitting the abuse. Just as they did with John Howard, many Labor operatives have convinced themselves the Prime Minister is an unredeemable pariah. This mis­read­ing has consequences. It’s an excuse to avoid the hard policy work needed in opposition to support plausible attacks on the government. So Labor under Bill Shorten has made no significant policy changes since the election. Just four months ago the few of us warning against this indolence were looking precarious as Labor appeared bullish.

After facing his leadership revolt, Abbott would have circled this week in his diary — if he could unite his party behind a budget, advocate it strongly and get through to the parliamentary recess, he could consolidate his position. Despite some missteps, he and Joe Hockey have done as well as they could have hoped. Voters may have been disappointed by the government, even antagonised, but they haven’t been given a plausible critique or an alternative. Labor’s hateful attacks against a lying, uncompassionate, racist, unfair, incompetent and manipulative government is too hyper­ven­til­ated to work.

So, surprisingly, it is Shorten who would have felt most relief at escaping Canberra on Thursday night with his leadership intact. After revelations about his trade union days, a political lie unearthed from leadership dealings in government and the repercussions of policy inertia hitting home, the Opposition Leader suddenly finds himself on the brink of unelectability.

In coming weeks he faces two difficult tests: a royal commission appearance and the ALP national conference. Labor’s overindulgence on leadership trauma means it will be loathe to act again; otherwise he may be a dead man walking. This reluctance combined with new caucus rules means Shorten could stay on — even it starts to look like a Weekend at Bernie’s.


Bill Shorten’s secret past as a workplace hardliner

He sold himself and his union to the builders

BILL Shorten is to be congratulated on his introduction of flexible working arrangements when he was the Victorian secretary and then national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union.

Taxpayers should thank him for assisting in delivering some major infrastructure projects, like Melbourne’s EastLink motorway, on time and on budget.

It just seems as though it was more than an oversight that some of those union members covered by some of his agreements appear to have been both unaware that they had been signed up to the AWU and that the union’s agreements actually removed some penalties and conditions — without compensation — that previous agreements had given them.

Had the detail of Shorten’s organisational activities in the ‘90s and ‘00s been made public, he would have been able to lay claim to being a great ­industrial relations reformer in the mould of former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke and former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty, whose Accord paved the way for modern enterprise bargaining in the 1980s, ­albeit though they kept union members in the loop.

All the evidence suggests that Shorten, as a union boss, actually went harder and earlier than Coalition prime minister John Howard did when he introduced his greatly vilified program of industrial reform, WorkChoices, in 2005.

It is now just over 10 years since Howard outlined to Parliament the WorkChoices package that controversially included the abolition of the “no-disadvantage” test that previous agreements had to satisfy. It had ensured that the terms of new agreements were at least as generous as comparative awards.

Under WorkChoices, ­employers were able to offer agreements that removed penalty or overtime rates, control of the scheduling of working hours, long-service leave, severance pay and a host of other rights an employee might otherwise have had under the provisions of an applicable award or statute.

The only protection offered to workers was that workplace agreements could not offer less than the minimum entitlements enshrined in the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (the Standard), or in a separate standard relating to public holidays.

Over the next three years, right up to the 2007 election, Howard’s reforms triggered the greatest co-ordinated campaign mounted by the trade union movement since the era of the Vietnam War.

A mass education scheme was organised by union activists and with millions of dollars raised through levies on trade unionists, television and radio advertising was bought (remember the “Tracy” adverts?) and it targeted those voters in ­low- and middle-income brackets who might have strayed from Labor to become “Howard’s Battlers”.

But as we are now aware, Shorten was streets ahead of Howard.  Despite his secret membership drives, under his stewardship, AWU membership fell and some members also suffered beneficial and ­financial disadvantage. The workers received less, the union received more and ­employers prospered.

Shorten’s parliamentary colleagues may disagree, but there is an almost universal consensus in industrial circles that he has to explain the workplace deals he made while he was a union boss.  Labor MPs are anticipating an election later this year, but are now questioning their leader’s ability to mount the necessary fight.

Last week, Shorten failed them on a number of fronts — although there was no single knockout blow.

They cannot understand how he walked into the row over paying a miserly $30,000 to crew of a people-smuggler boat to get them to return to their families and take their human cargo with them.
They can’t fathom why he permitted border protection to become an issue again when Labor has lost on every point.

Could it be that the current crop of Labor MPs forget it was the Labor immigration minister Gerry Hand who first introduced mandatory detention in 1992, even as they reject the proposed reintroduction of the temporary protection visas which were stunningly ­successful when operated by the Coalition government from 1999?

They can’t understand how he managed to let the government sew up a deal with the Greens and deliver a sensible outcome on pensions — and they are bewildered by his ­opposition to the deal that delivers for so many pensioners. It is a death of a thousand cuts.

With the ABC running its gripping Killing Season series, some see parallels between former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s lack of strategic thinking and Shorten’s abysmal performance, and point to the lack of seasoned advisers on the staff of both men.

Rudd tried to make a virtue of the youth and political inexperience of his closest staff and suffered commensurately, Shorten seems to be committed to the same fate.

Shorten has no one near him who has sufficient stature to tell him when he is wrong, even if he would listen, and is continuing to bleed.

The Left is on the march. Not because they’re burning with a desire to see the deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek ascend to the leadership, however. The NSW Left isn’t driving the anti-Shorten push, it’s all coming from Victoria.

The ALP’s national conference in Melbourne next month will be horrendous — the agony amplified if Shorten’s first appearance before the trade union royal commission puts the spotlight on the agreements he signed that left so many workers worse off.


Climate skeptics vocal within the Liberal party

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a push from inside the Liberal Party to prevent Australia signing up to any binding emissions reduction targets at the upcoming Paris climate talks.

A cabal of regional and rural Liberal members, centred in Western Australia and supported by a number of conservative MPs, will force a vote at Saturday's federal council meeting in Melbourne on whether Parliament should "examine the evidence" around climate change before agreeing to any post-2020 emissions cuts.

Liberal sources told Fairfax Media that Environment Minister Greg Hunt is likely to be forced to step in and fight off the motion on Saturday by asserting the Abbott government accepts climate change is real and is willing to work with other nations to combat its effects.

The timing of the intervention will be a headache for Mr Hunt who has over recent months moved the government towards accepting tougher emissions targets, as revealed by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

A Liberal moderate who will attend the federal council meeting said the group of elected Liberals and members behind the motion should be given an audience with the Pope so they can be "brought up to speed by a new age person living in this century".

The party's regional and rural committee, chaired by WA farmer Brian Mayfield, has submitted the motion, which will call for a House of Representatives committee to "examine the scientific evidence that underpins the man-made global warming theory".

It also calls for investigation into "the reasons for the failure of computer models, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and prominent individuals to predict, among other things, the pause in global warming this century".

"In light of the uncertainty around this issue, Australia does not sign any binding agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year," it says.

Mr Mayfield declined to comment but Liberal Senator Chris Back and Western Australian colleague Dennis Jensen both told Fairfax Media that an examination of whether the science supported climate change was worthy of party debate.

Mr Jensen said the push was coming out of WA because the state has a "reputation for independent thinking". In 2009, a similar campaign was aimed at then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull who was urged by WA members not to negotiate with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ahead of the Copenhagen summit.  "The science is absolutely not settled. This argument that it's all done and dusted is rubbish," he said.

Farmers see more climate variability in their working lives than most people and the view that everything is in stasis except for the human influence on the climate was nonsense, he said.

A senior Liberal source said the motion would have to be "derailed" by Mr Hunt. "It's something that will appeal to some conservatives but he will have to head it off. There is more and more a view that Hunt has got the government to a point of being ready to act and accept the climate science, so the timing could not be worse."

"This sort of talk takes us back to the Neanderthal age. It's flat earth stuff."

But Senator Back said: "I think it is certainly worthy of debate but the question is can you get all the information between now and Paris [in December]."

Climate sceptic Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck said he expected the motion would "dead batted" on Saturday. "It's not a can of worms I would want to open up," he said.

Mr Hunt said: "We firmly and absolutely accept that climate change is real and taking action to combat it as imperative. We are already taking strong action and achieving significant reductions through the Emissions Reduction Fund.

"We will shortly announce our post-2020 target. There should be no doubt that our target will be significant and Australia will play a constructive role in global talks in Paris."


Woman runs red light and seriously injures boy  -- but acquitted of dangerous driving

The judge seems to be impressed that her use of "Ice" may not have been harmful.  Why did that matter?  She was a serious and serial lawbreaker who clearly WAS driving dangerously

Mother of three, Leah Lenarczyk, 39, was under the influence of ice and other drugs when she picked up her young children from school on November 8, 2012.

She hit a school boy after running a red light in Adelaide's north and the 12-year-old sustained serious injuries including a collapsed lung and fractured skull.

Lenarczyk was acquitted of dangerous driving and was instead convicted with the subsidiary charge of driving without due care as it was found that the drugs did not have a negative impact on her driving.  'She had none of the indicia or symptoms of someone affected by methylamphetamine,' Judge Beazley said.

The District Court heard that Lenarczyk had an 'appalling' driving record, the Adelaide Advertiser have reported.

As well as a fractured skull and collapsed lung, the school boy suffered a broken leg, abdominal injuries and cuts on his face after he was hit by Lenarczyk at Salisbury Heights.

Judge Beazley took the expert evidence from professor of pharmacology Jason White, and clinical forensic toxicologist Michael Robertson who both confirmed that whether the drugs impacted positively or negatively on Lenarczyk's driving cannot be determined.

Following the accident, she was found to have no alcohol in her blood and was also travelling five kilometres under the speed limit.

Judge Beazley said two police officers were with her for over two hours after the accident and she showed none of the typical symptoms of ice use.

She will be sentenced next month.


26 June, 2015

Support an honest cop

I just signed the petition "Qld police Comissioner Ian Stewart and Police Minister: Drop Charges against Sgt Rick Flori" and want to see if you can help by adding your name.

Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:

Details of the matter on the site

Jihadis and leftists, united in misogyny

Jennifer Oriel

I was invited to appear as a panellist on the ABC’s political talk show Q&A this month.

This week, Q&A featured a self-described Muslim activist who tweeted about gang-raping female columnists in January and pleaded guilty to threatening to kill an ASIO officer.

Why would I want to appear on Q&A following such an outrage against women and our nation’s protective forces?

The man who tweeted the idea of gang-raping female journalists also has expressed support for an Islamic caliphate. I consider him such an inferior example of manhood that I would prefer not to stain the page with his name, but here it is for the record: Zaky Mallah.

After hearing the standard Islamist narrative on the ABC — that is, Islamists charged with threatening violence are victims of government action to stop terrorism — Q&A’s audience applauded Mallah. That tells us a lot about the state of left-wing politics today.

In the 21st century, the hard Left goes soft on men who attack liberal democracy and promote violence against women as long as such men belong to a Left-anointed minority.

Q&A host Tony Jones upbraided Mallah, but only after he had blamed the government for jihadism. And Tuesday’s limp corrective by the ABC falls well short of the explanation we need and the apology Australians deserve.

The terms of reference for the investigation into the ABC’s indulgence of Mallah must include why a man who threatened to kill an ASIO official was cast as a victim while criticising our liberal democratic government’s anti-terrorism policy.

The omission that Mallah threatened lethal violence against a member our security forces and sexual violence against female intellectuals demonstrates more than mere oversight by the ABC. Australia’s public broadcaster has put Australian citizens in harm’s way.

What might have happened, for example, if either of the two female columnists Mallah proposed should be gang-raped in January were on the Q&A panel this week?

Unlike those female columnists, I was actually invited to be on a Q&A panel this month. I have written extensively on Islamist terrorism and have been threatened for doing so.

The thought that a man such as Mallah might have been sitting a few feet away from me on Q&A is, quite frankly, horrifying.

No woman should have to fear for her bodily safety in Australia when she exercises her democratic right to free speech — especially on our public broadcaster. And yet, that is precisely what I now feel about the prospect of appearing on Q&A.

There are serious questions which must be answered about the modern Left and its indulgence of Islamist terrorism and misogyny. We might begin by asking why the taxpayer-funded ABC indulged a man who promoted the idea of gang-raping female columnists.

Is it because the targeted columnists, Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi, are viewed as politically conservative and therefore deserved victims by Islamists and their left-wing allies in the West? Does the Left believe dissident women are asking for it?

We are bearing witness this week to a new form of political correctness — politically correct misogyny — where leftists and Islamists converge to shut dissident women out of public debate.

Author and human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has suffered the brunt of PC misogyny during the past decade following her trenchant criticism of Islamist ­violence against women and girls.

In his book The Flight of the Intellectuals, Paul Berman chronicled the rise of the new sexism crafted by left-wing men against Hirsi Ali.

Using sleazy sophistry to conceal their contempt for the woman who dared to refuse victim status and became instead a champion of the free world, PC misogynists claimed she only made it because she was attractive.

In the US as in Australia, the sneering disdain some left-wing men reserve for dissident women is becoming more overtly misogynistic and it seems to increase in direct proportion to dissidents’ public success.

After Hirsi Ali received a standing ovation at the American Atheists convention, left-wing activist journalist Sam Hamad described her as: “a perfect little brown-skinned conduit” for the views of “white males”.

One would have thought that describing a woman with African descent as a “little brown-skinned conduit” should provoke public furore. But there was no cry of hate speech from the progressivist media, no call of sexism from the ivory towers.

Instead, the girl who survived female genital mutilation in Africa, assassination attempts in Europe and jihadist threats in America has grown to become a trending target of hard Left hate because by daring to live and tell the tale, Hirsi Ali has exposed their PC misogyny.

While Mallah might lack the hard Left’s talent for sophistry, his effect is just as devastating. On social media, he described columnists Panahi and Devine as “whores” and proposed that they be gang-raped on television. That is hard to write. No woman should have to read it.

It is little surprise to find support for misogyny among men who enthuse about an Islamist caliphate, where the unequal status of women and girls is enshrined as a rule of law and a cultural right.

But it should be a surprise to find self-declared progressives of the Western Left endorsing Islamist misogyny against any woman, let alone parading its advocates as paragons of sound citizenship.

In its response to the public furore about Mallah on Q&A, the ABC acknowledged his tweet about female columnists — in a single sentence of the last line of the final paragraph. The message could not be clearer.

As a female political commentator who leans conservative, my right to free speech and bodily safety may not mean much to the ABC. But I did not spend my formative years fighting for women’s rights in the 20th century only to submit to an Islamist-Left alliance of misogyny in the 21st.

I expect a public apology from the ABC for its outrage against women, female columnists and the basic security of Australians.

Until such an apology is given, I will not consent to appear on Q&A.


Rogue construction union  ordered to pay Builder $3.5m; fined for conduct on Brisbane worksite

AUSTRALIA’s biggest construction union is under siege amid a record $3.55m payout, a push for deregistration and damaging allegations including of unlawful conduct at a Brisbane worksite.

The $3.5m payout to Grocon was for a series of damaging blockades of its building sites in several states in 2012.

That payout could be dwarfed by a $28 million compensation fee being sought by Boral, while the ACCC also has its sights on the union over claims of restrictive work practices.

The CFMEU has also been fined $545,000 for unlawful, intimidating and coercive conduct on a Brisbane worksite where subcontractors and employees were called dogs and “scabby gay boys”.

In a scathing judgment the Federal Court found the union displayed “outrageous disregard” for industrial norms and implied it could face deregistration if it continued its unlawful conduct.

The judgment also singled out one union official, questioning whether or not he should continue in his role after behaviour at the taxpayer-funded South Brisbane construction of 140 units for Queensland’s long-term homeless.

The incidents occurred while the CFMEU was taking protected industrial action over an enterprise bargaining agreement with developer Grocon.

Fair Work Building and Construction director Nigel Hadgkiss welcomed the ruling yesterday.  “Coercion is particularly heinous conduct and has widespread impacts on Australia’s building and construction industry,” he said.  “Regrettably the conduct outlined in this case is but day-to-day activity on Australia’s building and construction sites.”

CFMEU national vice president Michael Ravbar said the union would not appeal.  He said the language used by the members concerned was unfortunate with three of those involved no longer with the union.

“You learn by your mistakes and some of these officials, a couple of them, are no longer with the union,” he said. “We don’t support the comments they made.”

But he dismissed the judge’s implication the union should be deregistered.

Federal Court Justice John Logan found the CFMEU, four of its officials and one delegate should be fined a total of $545,000 for unlawful industrial action at the Brisbane Common Ground construction site over seven days in March, 2012.

“An industrial organisation, be it an employer organisation or an employee organisation, which persistently abuses the privilege by engaging in unlawful conduct cannot expect to remain registered,” Justice Logan said.

He singled out one official in his judgment, Joseph Myles, who he described as being “predisposed to engage in unlawful conduct to supplement legitimate industrial aims”. Mr Myles was fined $40,000 while fellow officials Paul Cradden and Mark O’Brien were fined $30,000 each.

Delegate Jack Cummins was fined $25,000 and official Mike Davis was fined $20,000. The union was fined $400,000.

The $3.55m payout to Grocon was signed yesterday and is believed to be the largest ever payout from a union.

The payout — with Friday’s fine, a previous $1.25 million fine, and costly disputes yet to settle — has placed question marks over the ongoing viability of the union.


Headline numbers a tribute to prudence of conservative government of NSW

There are two strong underlying messages in this year’s NSW Budget.  The first is that prudence pays off.  The second is that even while basking in the warm sunny uplands of budget surplus territory into which Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian has led the state this year and through the forward estimates, there can be no relaxation of the Baird government’s relentless focus on discipline.

Four years ago, this government inherited forecast deficits totalling $4.4 billion. From the next financial year underlying surpluses are forecast to rise from $713 million to $895 million in 2018-2019.

Significantly, the surpluses will appear even larger from this year because of a change in accounting methods which creates a new body — the Transit Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) — which will manage transport assets instead of paying recurring grants to Rail Corporation.

After the introduction of TAHE, next year’s forecast rises from $713 million to $2520 million. Handy, indeed, for the 2019 election.

It must also be noted that the budget surplus does not take into account the projected receipts from the expected leasing of the poles and wires. They remain a bonus to insulate the State’s fortunes when they suffer as-yet-unforeseen economic setbacks.

Politically, the budget numbers just keep stacking up for the Baird government and strip Labor of any fiscal credibility.

Historically, Labor always spent more ($1.3 billion on average) despite falling revenues and now Labor’s long and disastrous record has become the Coalition’s cautionary tale.

The state’s first woman Treasurer can nominate outstanding results in field after field but she is building on four years of careful rebuilding for which her predecessor Andrew Constance might have been given a nod.

The prudent stewardship is paying off. This is a “gold, gold, gold” moment for NSW budgets and there is a pay-off for residents in the whacking investments in infrastructure and new frontline service employees.

State infrastructure spending over the next four years, including government businesses, is a record $68.6 billion and the election commitment to deliver 150,000 new jobs stands — attracting record migration.

Savings have been made in terms of background jobs which has seen an overall wage growth decline in the public jobs but there is a strong upside for the public in terms of the investment being made in education (1000 new teachers), the health sector (3525 new nurses) and police (550 more).

The discipline in the back office has delivered a bonus for those who want front office services. The spending on health, education, social security and welfare, public order and safety has increased — it’s another record.

Record, record, record.

But the Treasurer appears acutely aware of the risks. The ever-present risk of fiscal volatility that could send the projections crashing, the risk of further changes in Commonwealth-State funding arrangements (the Commonwealth provides 40 per cent of revenues), even the economic weakness of the other states poses a long-term threat to NSW as their economies fail to provide their residents with the cash needed to buy from NSW businesses.

This budget may constitute a high-water mark for NSW — but the disciplined approach should mean that there will be a greater degree of certainty over the rest of the government’s term.

Failing unforeseen crises, it should also deliver another term for the Coalition.


Politically correct school reports

School report says: Spirited. Teacher really means: Your kid is a pain in the arse

At school, I was one of those kids who did fairly well by studying hard and staying out of trouble.  Not so my brother Benjamin, who spent the last day of every term defecating bricks. Inside his school bag was always an explosive report card, more dangerous than a stick of dynamite when it reached the hands of my parents.

One year I remember Dad opening a particularly giant can of whoop-ass on my naughty sibling, after his report revealed “serious misbehaviour” with “hot metals and acid” in science. The exasperated teacher also went on to chastise his habit of “rocking on chairs” and “pea shooting” during class.

Then there’s my good friend Joanne, who recently shared one of her classic report cards from the 1980s.  “One of the noisiest girls I’ve ever seen in a classroom. Can be a thorough pest. Concentrate on the work Joanne,” her Year 11 English teacher wrote.

The maths teacher offered a similar observation.  “Joanne is a very bright girl but needs to be less noisy.”  Adding insult to injury, there was also this:  “Joanne is a capable student who has made good progress, however she is a chatterbox.”

Nearly 30 years later, and my friend can still vividly recall the sheer terror of handing that clanger over to her hardworking parents in Darwin.

Words like “lazy”, “uncooperative” and “anti-social” weren’t uncommon on kids’ report cards when I was growing up. If you were rebellious, the teacher said so. If you dared backchat in class, or regularly failed to hand in homework, then your parents read about it in a personalised, handwritten school report. Drop the f-bomb or blatantly flout the school rules? Then you were busted, custard.

In 2015 however, I find myself wondering if there is such a thing as a “bad report” anymore. Do they even exist?

This week, parents (like me) will open our little darling’s half-yearly school reports. And chances are they’ll be so sterile, so bland, so terribly boring that we’ll struggle to make sense of what’s actually being said.

Instead of receiving a truthful, pull-no-punches assessment of our kid’s progress, we’ll open up a white, printed out page filled with computer generated safe words and corporate jargon.

But these newfangled, vanilla flavoured reports aren’t the fault of teachers. Or principals. Our politically correct school system has bound and gagged educators with bureaucracy and red tape, preventing them from telling the warts-and-all real version of our kid’s classroom behaviours.

A former senior-level teacher I know left her job, after becoming completely disillusioned with the education system.  “Teachers cop it from all directions these days,” she tells me.  “We are constantly treading on eggshells, dealing with greater numbers of delusional parents — and classrooms full of kids who’ve been wrapped up in cotton wool.

“The writing — and delivery — of report cards is a minefield. It’s definitely the worst part of any teacher’s job,” she says.

Demanding, pushy parents are also partly to blame for this new trend in sanitised school report cards.  “Many of them see their kids as perfect little angels, with an IQ worthy of a Mensa membership,” my teacher mate says.  “If we write a school report and tell the parents otherwise, then the evidence is against us.

“So it has become standard practise now to use insipid, watered-down phrases instead of the real truth.”

Looking back at a few of my own children’s report cards, I notice they’re peppered with words like “satisfactory”, “sound” and “working towards”. The boring babble hides the real truth.

Some examples:

“…needs to continue to focus on the quality and neatness of his work presentation,” one comment suggests.

Let’s cut to the chase here. We’re talking about unbelievably shocking, mostly illegible bookwork. And I know it for a fact because I kick my boy up the backside every time he puts pen to paper. So why did his teacher sugar coat the facts? To make me feel better about his sloppy efforts in class?

“He tries to listen carefully when not distracted by others around him.”

He tries to listen? Are you serious? Clearly, he doesn’t. And reading between the lines, it seems he’s also mucking about with mates instead of being focused on his work.

My teacher friend reckons that if you look hard enough, it is possible to decode your child’s next school report.  Here is her Top 10 list of euphemisms, frequently used by educators everywhere.

1. School report says: Spirited. Teacher really means: Your kid is a pain in the arse.

2. School report says: Keen to participate in group discussion. Teacher really means: Little Johnny talks too much. Shut your cake-hole and give someone else a go.

3. School report says: Satisfactory effort. Teacher really means: Has done the bare minimum.

4. School report says: Energetic. Teacher really means: Possibly ADHD and requires medication.

5. School report says: Creative. Teacher really means: Can’t follow instructions and makes a mess of everything.

6. School report says: Helpful. Teacher really means: Annoyingly so.

7. School report says: Is developing (eg: handwriting) skills. Teacher really means: Still can’t do it despite all the hours I’ve put in.

8. School report says: Took awhile to settle in. Teacher really means: We didn’t like each other.

9. School report says: Needs to settle when working with other teachers. Teacher really means: They don’t like your kid either.

10. School report says: I wish them well next year. Teacher really means: Thank god they won’t be in my class again.


Legal nonsense about CO2

Will island nations be able to sue for damages if their lands become inundated by rising sea levels caused by climate change, and if so, who should pay?

Justice Brian Preston, chief judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court, is among leading jurists exploring how domestic and international law might be used to address or remedy such "warm crimes" - and many others - caused by human activities.

He co-chairs an International Bar Association group that is developing a model legal statute which could be applied a range of jurisdictions. It builds on the IBA's landmark report last year - Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption

"It's an enormously difficult task," Justice Preston told Fairfax Media from his chambers on Sydney's Macquarie Street. "You've got so many different legal systems, you've got so many different countries at different stages of economic, social and legal development."

The legal work is seen by some as a fallback plan should nations fail to sign up to ambitious cuts to carbon emissions at the Paris climate conference late this year.

Fresh proof of the legal option may be on show this week with a Dutch court due to rule on whether the government can be forced to cut national greenhouse gas emissions.

The class action lawsuit argues the government has failed to protect Dutch citizens in a country with about a quarter of its territory below sea level.

In Australia, groups such as the Institute of Public Affairs and the Minerals Council last year responded to the IBA report by questioning whether environmental rights should have equal same standing with other rights, and warned against judges grabbing power from the people.

Obstacles to successful lawsuits are many, including the challenge of proving causation of damages from another's actions, potentially committed a century ago, and the limited ability to sue outside one's own jurisdiction.

"We'll identify the hurdles and match them with the course of action, and then say what we need to do about it," Justice Preston said, adding his group plans to complete a report on the "menu" of options by September 2016.


25 June, 2015

Tasmanian lobster fisherman has no case to answer

This nonsense originated under Greenie influence.  The State government in 2011 was a Green/Left coalition.  Greens hate fishermen.  Why?  Because they kill fish!

HIGH-profile fisherman Mark Eather has been cleared of fisheries offences he has been fighting for more than three years.

Appearing in the Supreme Court in Hobart this morning, he was found not guilty of trafficking fish after a judge found he did not have a case to answer.

The verdict comes after a three-and-a-half year legal battle for Mr Eather, who was well known throughout the industry as a champion of sustainable practices.  Mr Eather pleaded not guilty to trafficking in 624kg of untagged rock lobster between January 2011 and October 2011.

Supreme Court Justice Shan Tennent directed the jury to return the verdict after an eight-day hearing.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Eather said he was charged on the day he was involved in a high-profile event with celebrity chef Kylie Kwong at MONA.

“What ensued was me spending three and a half years of being labelled a trafficker and poacher and $200,000 I didn’t have and had to borrow purely because I wanted to make a stand,” he said.

“This is a gorgeous state, lots of beautiful people and this industry is full of hard working, salt-of-the-earth people.

“The nature of our work involves lots of peril but what scares us the most is the plethora of legislation that in this case the upper echelons of the law and even the compliance manager of the fishery didn’t understand.”

“How the hell is a fisherman supposed to be across them?

“This disgrace could have been prevented by one phone call.

“This state deserves better. Is it any wonder we’re permanently broke when we have administrators and legislators acting in this Machiavellian way?”

Mr Eather said such treatment was likely to scare off people considering investing in the state.


ABC chiefs duck for cover over Zaky Mallah appearance as crisis grips network

Zaky Mallah’s trip to and from the Q&A program, which is facing an independent review for allowing him to appear, was paid for by the ABC.

Mallah told 2GB broadcaster Ben Fordham today he was taken in a shuttle bus from Parramatta to the Sydney-based ABC studio, in a bus paid for by the national broadcaster.

Later this afternoon the ABC’s spokesman Nick Leys confirmed this to Fordham, with a statement saying: “Every Monday night Q&A provides a free bus service from Western Sydney for audience members attending the show. This week, Zaky Mallah was a passenger on that bus.”

The news has angered Liberal MP George Christensen, who has called for the ABC’s free bus service to be scrapped.

The latest development in the Q&A crisis comes after Prime Minister Tony Abbott has blasted the ABC for today repeating a screening of a controversial episode where it allowed a former terrorism suspect to appear on Q&A.

The Q&A program, which first aired on Monday night, had already come under fire for giving one-time terror suspect Zaky Mallah publicity.

Mr Abbott continued to apply pressure on the ABC this morning, as the furore over its decision to allow Mallah to appear on Q&A shows no signs of dying down.

He labelled the second screening — which gave a national platform, and even a global platform — to Mallah, as “unacceptable”.

“The ABC has compounded this problem by again airing this disgraceful individual’s views,” he said.

“This is unacceptable. The ABC has once again given a platform to someone who hates us, who hates our way of life, who supports terrorists, and again, I ask of the national broadcaster: whose side are you on?” he added.

During an interview on Today, the PM was unrelenting in his criticism of the ABC, which yesterday said it “made an error in judgment” for allowing Mallah to confront federal MPs on Q&A without any security checks.

Mr Abbott repeated his concerns that the ABC had given a national platform, and even a global platform, to Mallah.

He said it was interesting that when Mallah was sentenced in 2005, the judge was critical of the platform the media had given to him.

“Now of course our supposed national broadcaster is giving a platform to someone who hates us, who hates our way of life, supports the terrorists that would do us harm,” he said.

“The issue for the ABC, our national broadcaster, is whose side are you on?

“Because all too often the ABC seems to be on everyone’s side but Australia’s.”

The ABC’s spectacular own goal in allowing Mallah on the air has plunged the $1 billion taxpayer-funded network into crisis and left Q&­A facing investigation.

The public broadcaster is dodging questions about why it gave Mallah a nationally televised platform to accuse the Federal Government of pushing young Muslims to join deadly terrorist cult Islamic State.

The Prime Minister yesterday accused the ABC of betraying Australia, and described Q&A as a “Leftie lynch mob”.

“What our national broadcaster has done is give a platform to a convicted criminal and terrorist sympathiser,” Tony Abbott said.

“They have given this individual — this disgraceful individual — a platform, and in so doing I believe the national broadcaster has badly let us down.”

ABC management failed to answer 10 questions from the Herald Sun about Mallah’s appearance, merely acknowledging an error of judgment. Scroll down to see the questions

But Mr Abbott said: “I think that the ABC does have to have a long, hard look at itself, and to answer a question which I have posed before: Whose side are you on?”

The Prime Minister said: “I think many, many millions of Australians would feel betrayed by our national broadcaster right now.”

Mallah was acquitted of terrorism charges but served 2½ years’ jail for crimes including buying a gun and threatening to kill ASIO officials.

The Australian Federal Police will be called in after it was discovered that Monday night’s show did not employ physical security screening of the studio audience, which included Mallah.

ABC TV director Richard Finlayson said that allowing Mallah on the show had been an “error of judgment’’.

It is understood that he went through the usual process of applying to join the audience in the Sydney studio and of submitting questions.  He was chosen as an audience member and further chosen to ask questions.

It is understood that the ABC had been aware of Mallah’s history.

During the show, Mallah verbally attacked the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Steve Ciobo, and admitted that he had gone to the front line in Syria.

He later tweeted that he would “pay to see that Minister dumped on #ISIS territory in Iraq!’’.

Mallah questioned Mr Ciobo about the Government’s anti-terrorism laws, then commented: “The Liberals have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join IS because of ministers like him.”

Host Tony Jones apologised for the comment and shut the debate down.  “Tony Jones correctly and immediately ruled a statement made by Mr Mallah as out of order,’’ Mr Finlayson said.

“Q&A will continue to raise issues that are provocative and controversial. There is always risk in undertaking live television. That is the nature of the Q&A program since it first aired in 2008.”

An external review was already under way into Q&A topic choices, and the makeup of its panels and audiences, after complaints of Left-wing bias.  It will now examine how Mallah was allowed on the air.

Adding to the furore, Mallah on Tuesday night made another media appearance on Channel 10’s The Project, saying he stood by “everything I said” on Monday night.

Presenter Waleed Aly said that Mallah had “done more harm than good”, inflamed the situation, and was now refusing to take responsibility for his “call to arms”.

Mallah replied: “I bear no responsibility. I expressed my views last night. I was entitled to express my views just like everyone else did last night.  “Australia champions freedom of speech, and ... I expressed my views … in the best way I could.

“Maybe the tone of voice was a bit harsh, but I stand by my words. I stand by everything I said last night and I’m willing to have round two with this minister.”

Mallah also urged young Muslims not to travel to Syria or Iraq or join IS.  “I don’t support IS, I don’t support anyone leaving Australia,” he said.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who phoned ABC managing director Mark Scott and chairman Jim Spigelman to complain, told Parliament the broadcaster had made a “very grave error of judgment”.

“A person with those opinions being allowed to express them without any hindrance on live television raises very real — very real — concerns. Secondly, I have grave concerns, too, that Mr Mallah was there without any thorough security checks.

“I have asked the chairman of the ABC to ensure that … the Federal Police are consulted, because I think this incident … does raise issues about … the way in which the physical security of audiences and guests is protected.”

He said he was not suggesting the show be dumped.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the ABC “got it wrong” and there was “ no excuse for allowing someone convicted of such serious offences airtime to peddle this kind of extremism.

“Labor expects the ABC to fully investigate what went wrong here to ensure it doesn’t happen again.’’

Of Mallah, Mr Ciobo said: “I think, frankly, he is clearly a pretty sick and twisted individual. Clearly, he should be subject to a lot of scrutiny. At best, he is a sympathiser; at worst, he is a participant in an organisation that is attempting to do Australia harm.’’


Labor, coalition close detention loophole

LABOR has helped the federal government fast-track a bill to put beyond doubt Australia's authority to enter offshore processing agreements with other countries.

THE Australian Greens and human rights lawyers claim the government rushed the bill to try to circumvent a future decision of the High Court regarding a challenge over the spending of taxpayers' money on the Nauru detention centre.

The bill, which took just over an hour to be introduced and pass the lower house, authorises Commonwealth actions and spending on regional processing dating back to August 18, 2012.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told parliament the bill doesn't change or expand regional processing, but merely gives "clear express statutory authority" for the government to provide assistance to other countries.

"Regional processing helps combat people smuggling," Mr Dutton said. "It is an important solution for maintaining Australia's strong border protection policies."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told parliament Labor objected to having so little time for caucus to consider the bill. But it supported the laws because regional processing was Labor policy.

"We come to this decision ... guided by our compassion," Mr Shorten said. "Our compassion demands we prevent drowning at sea, just as our compassion demands the humane treatment of all those in our care."

Mr Shorten said Labor did not believe the government was running offshore detention in a way the Australian public wanted it to.
"They (detainees) are not illegals and fleeing persecution is never a crime," Mr Shorten said. "There is no place for violent, inhumane or degrading treatment."

The Human Rights Law Centre, which is bringing the High Court action, said the laws contradicted the government's claim that its actions running and funding offshore detention centres are legal.
"A government confident its actions are lawful doesn't suddenly change the law when its actions are challenged in court," said HRLC director of legal advocacy, Daniel Webb.

The case began on May 14 on behalf of a group of asylum seekers and their families, but a hearing date has not been set.

Mr Webb said newborn babies, people with serious medical issues and women who have reported being sexually assaulted on Nauru deserved to have the lawfulness of their treatment considered by the courts.

While Mr Dutton did not mention the High Court case in his speech, Liberal backbencher Andrew Laming told parliament the bill would "close a loophole opened up by the High Court".

Outspoken Labor MP Melissa Parke, while acknowledging her party's role in re-establishing offshore processing, said she was uncomfortable with the bill. She criticised the "awful, ugly, illegal" treatment of asylum seekers under the Abbott government.  "This is a matter of national shame for which one day there will be a reckoning."


The Killing Season: Rudd’s charm trumps Gillard’s grimness after three episodes

Malcolm Farr

UP UNTIL the final scenes of The Killing Season, Kevin Rudd presented himself as the cuddly puppy savaged by a pack of political death hounds.

He started the series, which concluded last night, lamenting that he had been the target of ambush and deception. He was a victim to the end.

However, while it was not mentioned in the three programs, there are many in politics, and many who have reported on politics, who recall Mr Rudd’s unrelenting bitterness and the energy he directed at his own vindication.

He was known in public to refer to his successor as “that f***ing bitch”.

To that extent, the excellent ABC series did not deliver a complete picture. The Rudd charm outplayed the Gillard grimness.

In the final episode, Julia Gillard accepted her defeat by Rudd forces in 2013 and was shown enjoying a drink with friends before leaving the Lodge. Mr Rudd was unable to accept his fate back in 2010 and, right up to the last minutes of the three-part series, he pleaded a case as the wronged political partner.

He readily regretted that he and Ms Gillard could not have continued as a team, when they were an effective unit.

“Of course we were! We were a very effective team. And I wanted her to succeed me. I really did,” Mr Rudd told the program.

On the other side of this impossible relationship was an ambitious Julia Gillard. During the series, she pleaded that she had been tossed into hard decisions by unremitting circumstances, painting herself as someone who acted to save the party in government.

But the most important reason why she couldn’t be the ALP’s salvation by winning a workable majority in the 2010 election was because she could not condemn Mr Rudd’s leadership while also pointing with pride to Rudd government achievements.

It became an election about her and a significant number of voters didn’t like Julia Gillard or what she had done to the prime minister they had elected in 2007.

As an ALP official told the program: “The language on Gillard in focus groups was really harsh. It was amazing that you could have, you know, six or seven strangers who didn’t know each other in a room and Gillard would come up and it would be full on and nasty.”

The notion that Ms Gillard would make the nation swoon at election time was one of the first political mistakes that doomed her in 2013.

Labor’s six dismal years in government consisted of a succession of political decisions inexplicable in hindsight. It was political failure on a number of fronts.

As Anthony Albanese, one of the few to emerge with dignity from The Killing Season, said of the 2013 push against Ms Gillard: “I have argued against this sort of action before, on the night of 23rd June, 2010. I believe the government’s difficulties can be traced to that night.”

There are broader questions remaining, and they are outlined by Alan Milbourn, a former British Labour MP Ms Gillard brought over to help in 2010.

If blame has to be handed out, it shouldn’t just go to Rudd and Gillard.

“The hard question that the Australian Labor Party has to ask itself is this: How is it possible that you win an election in November 2007 on the scale that you do, with the goodwill that you have, with the permission that you’re gifted by the public, and you manage to lose all that goodwill, to trash he permission, and to find yourself out of office within just six years?” he told the ABC.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it in any country, anywhere, anytime, in any part of the world. No one can escape blame for that, in my view.”


24 June, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is displeased at an extremist Muslim appearing on ABC TV

Strange days: "New Matilda" agrees with the Abbott government

They have overcome their chronic Leftist rage long enough to see that the Abbott government really is trying to be fair.  I can rarely read much of "New Matilda".  Wading through all that rage is too depressing for a cheerful soul like me.  So am pleased to find something sensible and positive for a change

Last week, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said something rather unusual.  “I commend the Australian Greens, and their new Leader Senator Di Natale, supported by Senator Siewert, for their constructive engagement with the Government,” Morrison wrote in a media release.

Did you read that right? Was Scott Morrison commending … the Greens?

Yes, he was. Morrison was talking about the government’s latest move on pension reform: a change to the way the pension is tested. As a result of the changes, about 170,000 mostly poorer pensioners will receive higher pension payments, while more than 320,000 wealthier pensioners will be negatively affected. Perhaps 90,000 Australians will lose their payments altogether.

The pension move saves the government $2.4 billion over four years. It also gets the Coalition out of a tight spot. Joe Hockey’s horror 2014 budget had foreshadowed a big cut to pension indexation, reducing all pensions inexorably over time.

Like so much of Hockey’s first budget, the pension indexation crimp was abandoned last year in the face of widespread community opposition to the measure. The new Liberal-Greens deal on pensions replaces that measure, but still saves the government some money.

The decision by new Greens leader Richard Di Natale to strike a deal with Morrison and the Coalition has drawn considerable criticism. Labor has launched a stinging attack on the compact, arguing it leaves many retirees on middling incomes worse off.

“The Greens and the Government have done a deal to sell out pensioners,” Labor’s Jenny Macklin thundered last week. “While the Government would like to portray this measure as only affecting millionaires, the reality is this pension cut is an attack on middle Australia.”

The Greens deny this. They say the current reform will make for a fairer pension system. They also point out it is longstanding Greens policy.

“More Australians who don’t have the advantage of a healthy super balance will be able to access a full pension when we undo John Howard’s tampering with taper rates,” Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said last week.

The Greens have put out a fact sheet that details the government modelling of the pension changes. This shows that the pension reforms do indeed help those at the lower end of wealth spectrum. But they also affect many pensioners in the middle and upper tiers.

So who’s right? The University of New South Wales’ Rafal Chomik has crunched the data... As you can see, the new pension test cuts in at a higher initial figure, but then tapers more quickly.

What this means is that some senior Australians with fewer assets will receive higher pension payments. Some pensioners with a lot of assets will lose their part-pension altogether.

In other words, the changes are progressive, even as they punish pensioners with higher assets. They help those in the lower tiers, and exclude more of the wealthy from accessing it.

For pensioners with very little, the changes will have no impact. There are nearly a million pensioners who neither own their home nor have more than $300,000 in assets. These pensioners will not be affected.


"Stolen Generation" court case decisively lost by Left-supported Aboriginal family

The W.A. government's actions were not improper -- just a child welfare case

An Aboriginal family left devastated more than four decades after seven of their children were removed in the 50s and 60s are now asking the High Court to appeal a decision ordering them to pay the WA government’s legal costs following an unsuccessful Stolen Generations test case.

In the absence of any national or state-based compensation scheme for victims of the Stolen Generations, Donald and Sylvia Collard took their claim for damages to the WA Supreme Court in 2013, saying the state had breached its fiduciary duty in forcibly removing their children.

The Collards had seven of their children taken from them from 1958 to 1961 and placed in the ‘care’ of the Child Welfare Department, where they were separated into state homes.

The test case was the first of its kind in Western Australia and was significant for other Stolen Generations victims in the state who have waited a lifetime for full reparations.

Apart from damages, the Collards told the court they “wanted answers”. One daughter, taken from a hospital when she was only six months old, said she wanted “some explanation why I was taken as a little baby and why my life turned out the way it did because of this”.

Justice Janine Pritchard said in the judgement “there is no doubt that all the children, and Don and Sylvia, have been deeply scarred by their separation, by the fracturing of their family relationships and by their disconnection from their Aboriginal culture”.

But in April 2013, Judge Pritchard ruled against the Collards in a 410-page judgement, saying “the evidence leads to the conclusion that the state was not, and is not, subject to the fiduciary duties alleged by the plaintiffs”.

"Even if the state was subject to those duties, the plaintiffs did not establish that the state breached those duties, other than in relation to a decision which was made in November 1959 not to return Ellen to Don and Sylvia's care,” Judge Pritchard said.

It was a devastating decision for the family, with father Don Collard telling NITV at the time it had made him “bitter”.

Judge Pritchard ruled against the usual practice of the unsuccessful party covering the costs of the successful party, saying that the Collard’s case was “rare and exceptional” and they wouldn’t have to pay the WA government’s legal costs.

The WA government successfully appealed that decision this year, which could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia and the Human Rights Law Resource Centre last week said it had asked the High Court for permission to appeal.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Ruth Barson said the WA government’s appeal on costs had added “salt to the wounds” to an already devastating decision.

“Legal cases on issues of public importance, like redress for past policies of forced removal, are an important part of our legal system. While appropriate safeguards around litigation are vital, the ability to bring cases of public importance should not be restricted to the wealthy,” said Ms Barson.

“Losing such a significant case was devastating for the Collards, so being left with the Government’s hefty legal bill is just like adding salt to their wounds.”

Aboriginal Legal Service of WA CEO Dennis Eggington said the test case was critically important and that Aboriginal people shouldn’t be threatened by the prospect of huge legal costs Why not?


Tony Jones apologises after claim Australian Muslims are 'justified' to join IS on Q&A

The ABC's Q&A reaches a new low of Leftist pandering

The first Australian to be charged under the nation's counter-terrorism laws claimed Muslim Australians who disagree with Liberal Party politicians are "justified" in joining the Islamic State on Monday night's Q&A.

Zaky Mallah, who was charged with planning a terrorist act in Sydney in 2003, drew on his own experience when questioning the panel on whether the power to strip dual national terrorists of their citizenship should rest with a government minister or the courts.

Mr Mallah complained he was treated by authorities "like a convicted terrorist" when he was subjected to "solitary confinement, a 22-hour lockdown, dressed most times in an orange overall".

In a strident attack, Foreign Affairs and Trade parliamentary secretary Steve Ciobo said he believed the only reason Mr Mallah was acquitted of terrorism was that the terrorist offences "weren't retrospective in application", and that he would be glad to see Mr Mallah sent out of the country.

A worked-up Mr Mallah responded: "The Liberals have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join ISIL because of ministers like him."

Tony Jones seized on Mr Mallah's words and apologised for his comment: "I think that's a comment we are going to rule totally out of order. I'm sorry about that. I don't think there is much more to say at this point."

Mr Mallah was acquitted on terrorism charges in 2005, but pleaded guilty to threatening to kill government officials.

He initially posed a hypothetical to the Q&A panel, asking how his case would have unfolded had a minister, rather than a court, made the ruling.

Mr Ciobo said based on the facts of his case, he believed Mr Mallah should be sent out of the country. "I'm happy to look you straight in the eye and say I'd be pleased to be part of a government that would say you're out of the country as far as I'm concerned. I would sleep very soundly at night with that point of view."

Mr Ciobo added that Mr Mallah had done the Muslim community a disservice by making the explosive claim.

"As best as I know, your circumstances, the comments you have made, the threats you have made that you have pleaded guilty to, to me more than justify the concerns that the government has. I think that it is very wrong, frankly, for you to portray the Muslim population as all being incentivised to do those things. I know a lot of Muslims who are very good people and they can be recoiling at what you just said."

Mr Mallah, who travelled to Syria when the civil war began, said he met the Free Syrian Army to "go to the frontlines and see what the war was all about". "I went to Syria to experience the situation for myself and why the uprising had begun."

Mr Mallah spent two years in high security in Goulburn jail before he was acquitted on two terrorism charges.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, the director of ABC TV Richard Finlayson admitted the program made an "error of judgment" in inviting Mr Mallah as an audience member. The broadcaster said the circumstances of his appearance would be reviewed.

"In attempting to explore important issues about the rights of citizens and the role of the Government in fighting terrorism, the Q&A program made an error in judgment in allowing Zaky Mallah to join the audience and ask a question," it read.

"Mr Mallah has been interviewed by the Australian media on a number of occasions. The environment of a live television broadcast, however, meant it would not be possible for editorial review of the comments he might make prior to broadcast, particularly if he engaged in debate beyond his prepared question.

"As has been the case in the past on Q&A, circumstances will happen that are not anticipated. The critical question is whether risks could have been managed and the right editorial judgments made in advance."

Mr Mallah's comments sparked a flow of derision on Twitter.


Death, taxes and political advertising

It feels like aeons ago that Kevin Rudd referred to taxpayer-funded political advertising commissioned by governments as "a long term cancer on our democracy." Over the course of their first term in office, the Rudd government went from having advertising campaigns of more than $250,000 approved by the Auditor-General, to replacing this role with a hand-picked 'independent' committee of former public servants.

And now? It seems whatever guidelines may exist to ensure proper use of taxpayer funds for information campaigns, they are being rather liberally interpreted. In the last few months, the Abbott Government embarked on a $15 million campaign for its higher education reform package before the policy had even passed the Senate. And this week it was announced they would do the same with the Jobs for Families package (the childcare reforms), spending $18 million when it also hasn't passed the Senate.

Not that this is a new trend. Rudd MkI spent $38 million to defend the mining tax, before the campaign against the policy was even fully formed. There was the Gillard Government's $12 million to sell the carbon tax. And then Rudd MkII's $30 million domestic campaign that spruiked their border protection policies, in the midst of an election campaign no less.

These advertising programs are definitely a waste of taxpayer money in that they serve naked political self-interest. Being obliged to pay for an advertising campaign, which has arisen directly out of government's inability to campaign on reform, is an indignity.

But the fact that they happen so frequently -- and that governments that attempt to curtail the practice eventually give up -- speaks to a broader truth about politics: survival is the main game. Ultimately, the dignity of taxpayers and voters will always play second fiddle.


23 June, 2015


Four current articles below

Response to BOM whitewash from good ol' boy, Ron Sandland

Remarks below by Dr Jennifer Marohasy

FOLLOWING  are my initial comments in response to the release of the report by the Technical Advisory Forum on the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network (ACORN-SAT):

Dr Sandland chairs 'The Forum' that has so far refused to hold an open forum.

I NOTE that The Forum, chaired by Dr Ron Sandland formerly of the CSIRO, concurs with the Bureau that:

“There is a need to adjust the historical temperature record to account for site changes, changes in measurement practices and identifiable errors in measurement…  To this end, the Forum supports the need for the Bureau’s homogenisation process to incorporate both metadata-based adjustments and adjustments based on the statistical detection of atypical observations. In the opinion of the Forum members, unsolicited submissions received from the public did not offer a justification for contesting the overall need for homogenisation or the scientific integrity of the Bureau’s climate records.”

As a member of the public who made an unsolicited submission, I would like to clarify that at no time did I suggest there was no need for adjustments, rather I have queried why there are adjustments made when, in fact, there are no documented site changes, no changes in measurement practices, and no identifiable errors.  Yet adjustments are still made.

The Forum appears to have overlooked many examples of this provided in the public submissions, and published by The Australian newspaper late in 2014.  For example, the Forum has completely ignored the notorious example of Rutherglen, where a slight cooling trend was converted into a warming trend, despite an absence of any metadata providing justification.

The Forum has also made no comment on the actual choice of stations for inclusion in ACORN-SAT, nor how the selection of stations has changed in recent years.  For example, in his submission to the panel, retired chartered accountant Merrick Thomson showed how the choice of ACORN-SAT stations changed from 2012 to 2013 and, how this could generate a large increase in global warming.

The Forum has suggested that the Bureau consider pre-1910 data in its analysis of climatic trends.

“Recommendation 5: Further, the possible availability of pre-1910 data at south-eastern sites may allow for a comparative analysis to be performed for south-eastern Australia to assess whether the inclusion of pre-1910 data is worthwhile in attempting to understand current temperature patterns.”

This is currently listed as a low priority by The Forum, but its inclusion is nevertheless welcome, and was a key recommendation in my submission.  I also recommended that all temperature series start at the same date.  For example, I provided the example, in my submission, of the Bureau adding in the very hot town of Wilcannia only from 1957, when there is data available from the late 1800s.

I also welcome the recommendation that the Bureau:

“Address two key aspects of ACORN-SAT, namely: a) improving the clarity and accessibility of information provision—in particular, explaining the uncertainty that is inherent to both raw and homogenised datasets, and b) refining some of the Bureau’s data handling and statistical methods through appropriate statistical standardisation procedures, sensitivity analyses, and alternative data fitting approaches.”

I note that The Forum state in their report that:   “It is not currently possible to determine whether the improvements recommended by the Forum will result in an increased or decreased warming trend as reflected in the ACORN-SAT dataset.”

I would suggest that if the committee’s recommendations were properly implemented, and the Bureau abandoned some of its more creative accounting practices (e.g. adding in particularly hot locations for later years in the time series), then it would become apparent that there has been an overall trend of cooling over much of central and eastern Australia from 1880 to 1960, more dramatic warming than previously documented from 1960 through to about 2002, while more recently temperatures have plateaued, with some evidence of a cooling trend establishing in north eastern Australia since 2002.

I note The Forum intends to operate for another two years, and urge them to be honest to their title of “The Forum” and actually meet with some of those who have so far provided unsolicited public submissions.  Indeed, I urge Dr Sandland to immediately set up an open and transparent Forum process whereby these submissions can be presented allowing any accusations of scientific misconduct by the Bureau to be both defended and contested before the Australian public, and media.

The committee makes five recommendations, but puts emphasis on the importance of the first two components of the first recommendation.

I applaud the first component of the first recommendation of the committee that in full states:

“Expediting the Bureau’s current work on developing uncertainty measures in closer consultation with the statistical community. The Forum recommends the Bureau seek to better understand the sources of uncertainty and to include estimates of statistical variation such as standard errors in reporting estimated and predicted outcomes, including: quantifying the uncertainty for both raw and adjusted data; prioritising the provision of explicit standard errors or confidence intervals, which should further inform the Bureau’s understanding and reporting of trends in all temperature series maintained by the Bureau; examining the robustness of analyses to spatial variation; and articulating the effect of correcting for systematic errors on the standard error of resulting estimates.”

Of course, that such basic statistical information is not currently available is impossible to reconcile with the overall conclusion in the report that, “the analyses conducted by the Bureau reflect good practice in addressing the problem of how to adjust the raw temperature series for systematic errors.”   Then again, the executive summary of The Forum’s report appears to have been written by someone straight out of the BBC television series ‘Yes Minister’.

The second component of the first recommendation is also applauded, which reads in full:

“Developing a clearer articulation of the purpose for the ACORN-SAT exercise to enhance public understanding of the program, and communicating processes for developing and using ACORN-SAT in a way that is appropriately clear, broad and supported by graphics and data summaries. In particular, the central focus on the Australian annual mean temperature anomaly as the primary end point of the ACORN-SAT exercise should be reconsidered and a broader narrative around including regional effects should be developed.”

Indeed, it has become apparent over the years that the entire focus of the work of the small ACORN-SAT unit is not the provision of higher quality individual temperature series, but the remodeling of the raw data, and the compilation of a select few station, to suggest that it is getting hotter and hotter across the Australian landmass with such announcements made with great fanfare by the Bureau’s David Jones at the beginning of each year.

Recommendation No. 2, has several components including comment that:

“Releasing the Python computer code for ACORN-SAT as a downloadable link along with all supporting documentation and listing of the technical requirements for the software. The Bureau should also monitor and gather download statistics to gauge demand for this software.”

Of course, without access to this software it has been impossible to reproduce any of the adjustments made by the Bureau. Yet if the method is scientific, it should be reproducible.   For many years, the Bureau has erroneously claimed its methods are transparent.   It should be noted, however, that even with the provision of this software, it will be impossible to justify ACORN-SAT because it is unclear why the Bureau chooses some stations above others for its comparisons.  For example, despite endless requests for clarification, the Bureau has never explained why it uses the distant location of Hillston to make comparison, and then changes, to the raw temperature data for Rutherglen in north eastern Victoria.

Recommendation 2 also includes comment that:  “Publishing a brief, plain-language (as far as possible) description of the criteria for adjustment and the basis for adjustment itself.”    Of course this should have been available since the very first adjustment was made in the development of ACORN-SAT.  That such a document still does not exist is evidence that ACORN-SAT is poorly documented.  So, how could The Forum endorse the Bureau’s claims that it represents world’s best practice?


Pope's climate adviser lambasts Australia

If you think he looks like something that has recently emerged from the anus of a zoo animal, I will not contradict you, "ad hominem" though that is.  Apologies but the pompous fraud has certainly succeeded in irritating me.   More temperately, exactly what qualifies a theoretical physicist to pontificate on the Australian economy?  Also see today's issue of GREENIE WATCH for a comment on his "science"

A leading German climate change authority and adviser to the Pope on the effects of global warming has lambasted Australia over what he perceives as its failure to address an inevitable process of de-carbonisation.

Professor Hans Schellnhuber, head of the highly-regarded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research outside Berlin, told reporters Australia's reliance on coal exports to China was a "suicide strategy".

"I don't think Australia can be sustained based simply on raw materials he says. "Just pursuing the carbon path is a red herring."

Professor Schellnhubner will be in Rome Thursday for the release of an eagerly awaited papal encyclical on the effects of climate change.

An adviser to both the Pope and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prof Schellnhuber is one of Europe's leading climate change scientists in his capacity as Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Potsdam.

He was interviewed in his study where Albert Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity.

In good natured remarks about the challenges facing a country like Australia, Prof Schellnhuber said it was "not responsible to run a country like a lottery."

He compared Australia unfavorably with resource-rich Norway which is being run almost completely on renewable energy [mostly hydro, which Greenies hate] and was making use of its vast sovereign wealth fund to build new and innovative industries.

Australia, he says, was excellently-placed to make the most of its renewable potential in solar, wind-power and other forms of renewable energy.

Asked why Germany experienced a low level of climate skepticism compared with countries like Australia and the United States, Prof Schellnhuber says "Anglo-American" societies tended to be dominated by ideas of entrepeneurship and free market impulses.

The Anglo-American world believed technology and innovation would help it to overcome its challenges. Germany, with its "different history", was more "cautious."  [Germany has a cautious history?  You could have fooled me!]

"Australia and Canada suffered from the curse of bounty," he says. "We will be fine forever: why should we change?"

"In the end," he adds. "it [the curse of bounty] makes you complacent. Unfortunately paradise doesn't last forever".

Africa and South America also have bountiful natural resources, so how come they are not in "paradise"?  Schellnhuber hasn't even asked himself that question.  His economics and sociology are on a par with his climatology


Electric cars in Australia

Tesla may have ambitious plans for battery technology for the home but it is also looking to upgrade its electric vehicle batteries, which will allow them to travel twice the distance they currently do. So what will be the implications for Australia?

While Australia has generally been an early adopter of new technology, electric vehicles pose more of a problem. Anybody who has grown up in regional Australia knows that being the family taxi at weekends for children’s sporting events can regularly mean a round trip of more than 200km.

The current battery life of an electric vehicle is around 160km – the Nissan Leaf is quoting an average even lower at 135km – so they are still not an option as the primary vehicle for even the most die-hard regional environmentalist.

There has been some take-up of hybrid vehicles – and they are more suitable to Australian conditions – but what is needed for those who would love to move to a fully electric vehicle?

Electric is more suited to the major cities, where they can be used for the daily commute to work (and may provide an alternative for the second family vehicle).

But the uptake of new electric vehicles is slow according to one recent report, with limited sales in the first few months of the year, although BMW claimed the most with 70 of its i3 model. (It’s a similar story in other countries where sales are far less than predicted.)

One of the reasons for the slow take-up in Australia has been identified as a lack of infrastructure to keep electric vehicles powered, especially on the longer journeys that are typical here.


Greens do a deal over pension policy

Greens more pragmatic under their new leadership

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has dismissed claims by Labor frontbencher Jason Clare his party has “done a deal with the devil” backing the government on pension reform and said it was time for Bill Shorten to commit to a side in the debate.

Di Natale last week struck a deal with Social Services Minister Scott Morrison that will guarantee the safe passage of pension asset test changes through the Senate, a measure projected to save $2.4 billion.

The move would reduce pension payments for 235,756 seniors, cut 91,378 people from the part-pension and give 171,658 retirees more money.

“If Bill Shorten feels so strongly about the decision that the Greens have taken ... on pensions he must immediately rule out supporting those changes if he becomes the next prime minister of the country,” Di Natale said in Sydney.

“He’s at this stage criticizing that position but he has not committed to repealing if it become law – this is what Bill Shorten and the Labor party do too often, they try to walk two sides of the fence.

“I say ... if you don’t support these pension changes then you must immediately commit to repealing them if you become the prime minister of this country otherwise your words are hollow words – they mean nothing.”

Di Natale also said in attacking the Greens over pension reform, Mr Shorten and Mr Clare were attacking members of their own party. “We know now that inside the Labor caucus there’s many senior figures that supported the position the Greens have taken,” he said.

“We have the shadow treasurer, we have Tony Burke – it’s been supported by many members of the Labour party, so they’ve got to be careful with their criticism because in fact they’re attacking many people within their own party.”

Mr Clare had told Sky News on Sunday, “The Greens have done a deal with the devil”.

He said it will be interesting to see what the Greens base makes of that, remembering what happened to the Democrats after striking a deal with the former Howard government over the introduction of the GST.

Senator Di Natale said his focus wasn’t on Labor when making the agreement, it was on ensuring that people have a decent retirement income.

He said he has a “pretty simple philosophy”.  “It’s looking at each issue, look at the merits of the case that people put in front of you. If the policy’s a step in the right direction, you support it,” he told ABC television.

But Labor says the change is unfair and says it will hold Prime Minister Tony Abbott accountable for breaking an election promise that he wouldn’t make cuts to pensions.

“This is a matter of trust,” Mr Clare said.  “This is a broken promise and is unfair, it hurts people on relatively low incomes.”

Asked if Labor would reinstate the old pension assets test threshold, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told ABC television: “We don’t believe we’ve lost yet”.



Qld cop charged over leaked bash footage

No room for honest cops in Qld.

A Gold Coast police officer has been stood down and charged with misconduct following allegations he leaked footage of colleagues assaulting a handcuffed man three years ago.

The Queensland Police Service said on Friday Rick Flori, a 44-year-old sergeant with 25 years' experience, was the subject of an investigation "concerning allegations he accessed and released confidential information".

The police service said in a statement Flori had been charged with one count of criminal misconduct in public office and issued with a notice to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on July 15.

He has been stood down on full pay but could lose his job over the January 2012 incident.

The leaked video shows Noa Begic, 21, being slammed face first into a concrete floor before being hit by officers using their knees, elbows and fists.

It also shows Mr Begic being punched several times after being put in the back of a police van, and a senior officer throwing a bucket of water on the concrete to wash away the man's blood.

Speaking outside Queensland Police Service headquarters on Friday, Flori thanked his supporters.

"I thank my family," he told reporters. "I've had multiple phone calls and text messages. I'm very grateful and I thank you all."

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman says the case goes to the heart of the risks whistleblowers take.

Mr O'Gorman called on Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller to take a personal interest in the case.

"Queenslanders will say what sort of a system have we got where a video shows a number of police belting the hell out of a bloke," he told the ABC.

"They don't get charged, but the officer who leaks the video to the media gets charged."

Mr Begic said at the time he was arrested after a night out in Surfers Paradise and was assaulted repeatedly on the drive to the local police station and then later in the basement.

"They were making racist comments about me and then when we ended up in that basement I knew there was more on the way," he said.

Public nuisance charges against Mr Begic were ultimately dropped after then-Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson intervened.

The officers filmed carrying out the assault were subject to an internal police investigation, with two facing disciplinary action. They should have been fired


The price of Australia's most common medicines could soon be halved

Australians could soon see the prices of some of its most common medicines halved under a new generic drug deal.

Pressure is mounting on the Senate to pass the legislation this week after Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley, signed an $18.9 billion deal with the Pharmacy Guild and Generic Medicines Industry Association which could drop the prices of over 2,000 common prescription medicines.

Ley said that the focus should be on having “more affordable medicines for consumers” especially since “so many Australians now are suffering from chronic diseases”.

In particular, Ley pointed to medication for cholesterol and heart conditions which could drop to $10 per script for general patients.

The high costs prescription medicine has been under public debate in recent years, with reports showing that nearly one in 10 Australians don’t take medicines a doctor prescribes because of the cost.

Research by the Grattan Institute revealed that Australia’s drug prices were almost 16 times higher than the best price in the UK, New Zealand and Canada.

The price of packet of Atorvastatin, an anti-cholesterol medication, cost $19.32 with the same pills costing $A2.01 in New Zealand and $A2.84 in Britain.

“Overall within this package there is a very strong downward trend on the price of medicines, particularly the most common and popular medicines that people take,” Ley said.


Online universities helping students become the first in their family to obtain higher education

More than half of 41,000 students studying online are first in their family to go to university

Online education is giving a generation of Australians the opportunity to become the first in their families to pursue higher education, a new report has found.

Open Universities Australia (OUA) today released the findings of their June report on “first In family” students, revealing an estimated two out of three students enrolled in university courses online are the first person in their immediate family to pursue higher education.

According to the findings of the First in Family report, an estimated 67.7 per cent of online university students are the first in their family to study.

“First in family” students are more likely to be mature age students, with 37 per cent being over 35 years old. Similarly, 66 per cent of “first in family” students are women, compared to 58 per cent of OUA students overall.

Among “first in family” students, the most popular tertiary courses were in education (18 per cent), arts and humanities (35 per cent), business (22 per cent).

OUA together with the University of Wollongong and the University of Newcastle this year completed a nationwide research project called Breaking the Barriers to identify the challenges facing “first in family” students.

Dr Cathy Stone, who established Student Success services at OUA, was part of a project team led by the University of Wollongong, which conducted research during 2014-2015 with the support of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

Dr Stone said university was no longer limited to an elite demographic. “More than half of OUA students are the first in their family to go to university, which shows online learning is removing barriers for people who would traditionally have not gone to university,” she said.

“They are investing in their own futures and their families’ future. Most of them are not school leavers but are older students, who work full time or part time as well as having family responsibilities. Through studying online, they have the flexibility to study at times that suit them, so that they can achieve their goals and gain their university degree.”

Following the release of the Breaking the Barriers report, the project team launched a First in Family initiative including a website and toolkit of resources to help support these students and their families.

Dr Stone said that OUA is recognising this emerging student trend and providing these students with specific and appropriate support.

“This is a demographic of Australians for which traditional face-to-face learning is often not possible, whereas online learning provides them with the opportunity to achieve university qualifications,” she said.

“A student who is the first in their family to study towards a university degree will face different challenges compared with those students who come from families where others have already been to university. Often, these first-in-family students don’t know what to expect and can feel at a disadvantage compared with those around them.”

The Breaking the Barriers report surveyed 173 and interviewed 102 “first in family” students across Australia, and found that many of these students felt out of place at university, lacked confidence in their ability and worried about the financial impact of their decision to study. OUA data also shows that  first-in-family students are more likely to be from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and more likely to live in regional and rural areas.

The findings from the OUA First in Family report found that “first in family” students were slightly more likely than their peers to struggle academically, but were equally likely to complete their qualifications.

About the Open Universities Australia

Owned by seven of Australia’s premier universities, Open Universities Australia (OUA) is the national leader in quality online tertiary education. Enrolling more than 250,000 students since 1993, OUA provides access to over 1700 units and 180 qualifications taught by more than 20 leading Australian universities and tertiary education providers. Visit

Press release via email

22 June, 2015

From justice campaigner Renee Eaves:

Have you had an experience with Police using excessive force in Qld ?

please email  before June 29 with your details.

Every email will be responded to. If you do not get a response please facebook

Renee Eaves.


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks Bill Shorten is on the way out

Questions remain on official Australian meteorology records

"Fiddling" of the records to show warming not addressed

The results of an independent ­review of the Bureau of Mete­or­ology’s national temperature records should “ring alarm bells” for those who had believed the bureau’s methods were transparent, says a key critic, Jennifer ­Marohassy.

Dr Marohassy said the review panel, which recommended that better statistical methods and data handling be adopted, justified many of the concerns raised.

However, the failure to ­address specific issues, such as the exaggerated warming trend at Rutherglen in ­northeast Victoria after homogeni­sation, had left ­important questions ­unresolved, she said.

The review panel report said it had stayed strictly within its terms of reference.  Given the limited time available, the panel had focused on big-picture issues, chairman Ron Sandland said.

The panel was confident that “by addressing our recommend­ations, most of the issues raised on the submissions would be ­addressed”, Dr Sandland said.  The panel is scheduled to meet again early in the next year.

Dr Sandland said that, overall, the panel had found the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network — Surface Air Temperature was a “complex and well-maintained data set that has some scope for further improvements”.  It had made five recommend­ations that would boost transparency of the data set.

Although the panel reviewed 20 public submissions, Dr Marohassy said it had failed to address specific concerns.  “While the general tone of the report suggests everything is fine, many of the recommen­dations (are) repeat requests made by myself and others over the last few years,” Dr ­Marohassy said.

“Indeed, while on the one hand the (bureau’s technical ­advisory) forum reports claims that the bureau is using world’s best practice, on the other hand its many and specific recommend­ations evidence the absence of most basic quality controls in the many adjustments made to the raw data in the development of the homogenised temperature series.”

BoM said it welcomed the conclusion that homogenisation played an essential role in ­eliminating artificial non-clim­ate ­systematic errors in temperature observations, so that a meaningful and consistent set of records could be maintained over time.


Jim Crow Hill in Australia has name removed after it was deemed racially derogatory

The name "Jim Crow" is meaningful only in the USA.  There would not be one Australian in a thousand who was familiar with it

A VICTORIAN council has been ridiculed for removing the name of a hill called after an early stockman whose name was deemed racially ­derogatory.

The Office of Geographic Names ordered Mansfield Council to remove or change the name of Jim Crow Hill.

It said Jim Crow refers to an 1828 US minstrel show song Jump Jim Crow, where a white man blackened his face to ­resemble a poor Negro.

It claimed the term has been widely used in Australia to disparage black people.

But locals are angry at the decision, claiming Jim Crow was an early stockman who had a hut on the hill.

The council, located in the foothills of the Victorian Alps, contacted the local Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, who confirmed the name was offensive.

This was despite research by the council which found records of a man named Jim Crow with some connection to the Benalla and Mansfield district in the 1880s.

Landowner Philip Newton told the council he was not interested in a name change.  “It has always been called this and as far as I am concerned it is of no one else’s interest what it is called,” Mr Newton wrote.  “So no change under my ownership.”

“The whole exercise is pointless anyway because locals will still carry on calling it Jim Crow hill.”

Deputy Mayor Cr Paul Sladdin said the hill, near the Mansfield Woods Point Rd in Piries, was now nameless.  “Unfortunately we were obligated to follow the direction of the Office of Geographic Names,” Cr Sladdin said.

“I know the locals will still refer to it as Jim Crow hill so you could argue it’s a case of political correctness gone wrong, especially as there was some anecdotal evidence of an early stockman.”


Permissiveness for a vile offender?

IT was the sort of crash that makes ambulance officers and firefighters rush home to hug their kids. Two cars head-on, late at night with a combined speed of 140km/h.

The impact left one dead, two with life-threatening injuries, two more badly hurt and the driver who caused it all, unscathed. Michael Craig Burvill was drunk behind the wheel of his Holden Commodore because he chose to chug about 12 beers. Police said he blew 0.096.

He was travelling on the wrong side of Karrinyup Road because he chose to drive.

He was speeding – 80 in a 60 zone – because he chose to.

He was on P plates, forbidden from drinking or speeding but that meant nothing to him.

He chose to ignore those laws completely.

His own, personal choices led him to kill another man who had chosen to obey the rules but that meant very little when it came to court.

Burvill was allowed to play the “stupid” card. It’s a popular one, usually sits just underneath the joker. But the judge allowed him to use it as an ace.

This is how it played out: prior to sentencing, Burvill says on the steps of court: “I just made a stupid mistake and I am going to face that now.”

Fast forward to sentencing four months later and Judge Audrey Braddock points out that “youth is recognised as a very powerful mitigating factor in the courts”, which is handy for Burvill as he’s 20 years old.

Further, she points out that the young have the capacity to “do stupid things … unexpected stupid things too”.

Her honour made no mention of how many times a stupid act is permissible which was good for Burvill because he has a PhD in stupid.

His first driver’s licence was forfeited on points after racking up “stupid” speeding infringements.

His second licence was taken away after a conviction for reckless driving – doing 129km/h in a 60 zone on the North West Highway. Speeding more than twice the legal limit probably qualifies as ultra-stupid but that’s a technicality.

The point is, how many times is one allowed to be stupid while dicing with death on our roads?

Judge Braddock thinks at least three because at just 20, Burvill was on his third licence when he exercised his right to be stupid again. And the judge was right, that next encore of stupidity was indeed unexpected.

So much so that Martin Roberts’ last words were “oh no” as his wife, Christina, held his leg and braced for the impact of Burvill’s car.

Mr Roberts’ Toyota Camry was crushed. He had the dubious honour of being the state’s first road fatality of 2015.

His close friend Gerard Brosnan fractured his spine in nine places and needed 60 stitches for a “gloved scalp”.

His wife Marguerite suffered broken arms, a shattered left knee, pelvis and nose. Their daughter Karen had fractured ribs and lacerations and a fourth passenger was also injured.

The Brosnans were holidaying from Ireland but hospitalisation and ongoing medical treatment has meant a five-month stay.

Mr Brosnan has been told he may never work as a carpenter again. His and his wife’s injuries will plague them for years to come.

As Judge Braddock observed: “Everybody in the car who was injured will never quite be the same again.”

Martin Roberts’ family’s cards have been marked – they will never be whole again either. The father of three and grandfather of one was a well-loved and popular bloke.

His daughters Catherine and Michelle have since put aside their own grief and helped this newspaper promote road safety campaigns aimed at the menace of drink driving. Trying to spread that crucial message so soon after losing their precious father was above and beyond. Quality, community-minded people making a superhuman effort to do good things.

Their compensation was to see the person responsible for the death of their Dad, rewarded. Burvill was handed a 25 per cent discount on his sentence for pleading guilty.

What else was he going to do?

Arrested at the scene, behind the wheel, I would have thought it was difficult for him to plead alien abduction? Nevertheless Judge Braddock also recognised him favourably for being cooperative with police and noted that, in going the wrong way down Karrinyup road, he “made a mistake” and “misread the road”.

As Catherine Roberts points out: “He didn’t make a mistake, he made a decision.”

And it’s difficult to think of a worse decision but for all the reasons already stated, his combined sentences were discounted, ameliorated and accumulated down tof four-and-a-half years.

Burvill was also afforded parole, which means all up, he’ll likely serve two-and-a-half years behind bars.

That’s 30 months for one death and four hospitalisations. It’s nothing short of pathetic.

On top of that, despite all the previous evidence of a total disregard for the responsibility of driving, he will still be given another chance at a licence, four years after he is released.

Michael Craig Burvill is a living reminder of why we will never change community attitudes to drink driving.

If it is not possible to draw a line in the sand for a case like this, what sort of scenario would demand the maximum penalty?

The Minister for Road Safety, Liza Harvey, is the one who cuts the cards. She needs to act decisively and formally request the State appeal against this sentence.

As it stands, the message is loud and clear: being young and stupid doesn’t deal you a losing hand even when you’ve ruined so many other lives.


Australia’s Worst Union and its grub ALP leader

Even the Marxist organ "Red Flag" does not like Bill Shorten, as we see below.  Some of their complaints seem legitimate

“If you want to know how Bill [Shorten] has got to where he is now, if you had to identify one thing, I think it is that he has been prepared to make decisions and to do things that almost anyone else would not.”

– Richard Marles MP, in a 2006 interview with the Sunday Age.

What kind of union would rip off its own members, save the bosses millions and then pocket a few hundred thousand from grateful companies to fund its officials’ political ambitions?

The Australian Workers Union, that’s who, previously led by the current leader of the ALP, Bill Shorten. He was secretary of the Victorian branch from 1998 to 2006 and national secretary from 2001 to 2007.

The AWU has played a predominant and destructive role, in both the union movement and the Labor Party. It is a business union known for sell-out deals and neglect of members. It has done this both to please the bosses and to bolster its factional weight in order to put its top officials aboard the parliamentary gravy train.

While it’s nauseating to listen to dedicated union-destroyers such as Coalition MP Christopher Pyne challenge the opposition leader to answer questions about his role in the AWU – and to see the royal commission’s $80m witch-hunt moving in for the kill – there is no denying that Shorten is a grub and the AWU is corrupt.

It’s telling that not one union is rushing to support the AWU. Instead, despite some hypocritical ranting from Abbott and others, the union’s up-front backing is from Labor parliamentarians, business spokespeople and employers. That’s not surprising; the ruling class has fostered the kind of “yellow unionism” provided by unions like the AWU.

Praised by the bosses, for decades the AWU has played a particularly pernicious role undermining wages and conditions in the construction industry. The current revelations about sell-out deals on Melbourne’s East Link project show that, as Ewin Hannan wrote in the Financial Review on 18 June, “[T]he AWU business model is based on being a safe haven for employers from the CFMEU”.

Tony Shepherd, former Business Council of Australia president, told Hannan: “Bill demonstrated that it could be done in Victoria … It was a great deal for us, it was a great deal for the boys, the safety record was great, there were no disputes, everybody was happy”.

Just what did this “model” agreement actually deliver in the CFMEU’s Victorian stronghold? On the $2.5bn East Link project, it saved the developer, Thiess-John Holland, an estimated $110m and cost it a tiny $300,000 “donation” to the AWU.AWU.

The 2005 deal, described by the CFMEU as “shocking”, offered much lower site allowances and a regime of working around the clock by reducing conditions around rostering and weekend work.

While the developers argue that the pay rates were good by industry standards, big developments such as East Link are usually a chance for the unions to make major advances in wages and conditions. This deal did the opposite, lowering the bar for future EBAs.

According to a Fairfax Media investigation, “The [Thiess-John Holland ] payment was part of more than $1 million of … employer cash flowing into the AWU's Victorian branch between January 2004 and late 2007, when Mr Shorten was either state or federal secretary.

“These include almost $200,000 from cardboard manufacturer Visy industries, which at the time was run by Shorten's billionaire friend Richard Pratt, almost $100,000 from aluminium giant Alcoa, and $300,000 from chemical giant Huntsman.”

At Huntsman, the company paid for an AWU steward to be a “workplace change facilitator” while it closed all its West Footscray plants. Others have described the actual job as “stopping trouble”, delivering no “industrial problems” during the factory closures.

No wonder it has long been known as “Australia’s Worst Union”.

These and other deals make a mockery of Shorten’s claim that he can “guarantee … that we always improved workers’ conditions, full stop” and that “every day … I’ve served the interests of workers”.


21 June, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG compares Donald Trump to Clive Palmer

'Coal and coral don't mix': Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo joins fight to save Australia's Great Barrier Reef

When you have got Hollywood actors saying something it must be true, I guess. That the reef undergoes cycles of change is not mentioned of course.  Both State and federal governments have extensive arrangements to prevent environmental degradation on the reef.  See for instance here on the dredging scare.

And a key point is that the reef does get heavily impacted by natural events such as the many cyclones that have hit North Queensland in recent years. Cyclones are very destructive of coral. HOWEVER, when we look at that storm destruction, we also  find that corals grow back rapidly. While that happens, the GBR is in no "danger". Any changes are temporary. See here and here, for instance.

Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo has thrown his weight behind the movement to save Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

The Avengers actor tweeted his support along with a link to Greenpeace site,, which states that the reef is 'under threat from the coal industry'.

Greenpeace's campaign states that the sea bed is being dredged to make way for four 'mega ports' to be serviced by 7000 industrial ships that will cross the Reef every year.

'Coal & coral don't mix. Join the movement to save the Great Barrier Reef:' Ruffalo tweeted, alongside with a photograph of himself smiling and holding up a sign that read '#savethereef'.

US President Barack Obama had plans to ban fishing, energy exploration and other activities in a large swath of the central Pacific Ocean, with Australia's Great Barrier Reef given as an example of 'environmental devastation'.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, along with the Hollywood star and environmental activist appeared at the Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC, where a video message from the president was played.

'It's fantastic to start off the day by hearing President Obama commit to expanding marine reserves in US waters and taking serious steps to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace,' DiCaprio said at the time.

In 2013, DiCaprio announced a $US3 million ($A3.3 million) donation to help protect the oceans' habitats for marine species.

'Since my very first dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia 20 years ago to the dive I got to do in the very same location just two years ago, I've witnessed environmental devastation firsthand,' he said.

'What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones.'


Young plumber claims he was repeatedly punched and kicked by police and called a 'Lebo' after being stopped at 1am

Apparently done in front of several witnesses

A plumber charged with assaulting police claims he was the one brutally attacked by officers who also called him a 'Lebo'.

Omar El Baba, 23, was driving down St Johns Road in Heckenberg, in Sydney's south-west, when he was stopped by Green Valley police on May 29 at 1am with a female passenger.

Police say he was stopped after he was involved in an earlier incident about 10.44pm on May 28 where he was pursued in his vehicle but did not pull over. 

According to a NSW police statement, officers asked El Baba to produce his licence when he stopped, but he refused and retreated to the front yard of his home.

It was there that police tried to arrest the 23-year-old and they allege he then became violence and assaulted officers by punching and kicking out.

But El Baba tells a different version of events, saying he was the one who was viciously beaten and denies he was in the alleged car chase, the ABC reported.

The plumber said 20 police officers descended on his home and wanted to come inside, but he refused because he was scared.

It was at this point that he claims police 'rushed in and attacked' him, repeatedly saying to him: 'You "effing" Lebo, that's what you deserve'.

'They slammed me on the floor then they started kicking me, punching me, kicking my groin area,' El Baba told the national broadcaster.

'I was on the floor in front of my family getting stomped on, getting stomped on, and kicked in my face like a soccer ball.'

His sister, Mona, and his father, Salah, witnessed the alleged attack and feared for their loved one's life.

'We ran down the veranda until we finally reached where the steps were and there I could see my brother's head face down on the ground and police absolutely everywhere, bashing him relentlessly, punching into him, kicking him, kneeing him, elbowing him,' Mona said.

Salah said he thought the 20 police officers were trying to kill his son.

Mona, who is a lawyer by trade, said she pleaded with police to stop and told them what she did for a living.

But the reply she received made her suspect the incident had been racially motivated.

'They kept repeating words to the effect of, "You're a dumb secretary. Get out of our way. You're not a lawyer." Why would they be making such derogatory remarks?' Mona said.

In photographs following the incident, El Baba's face appears swollen with cuts and bruises covering his mouth, nose and cheeks.

Mona described the aftermath as 'absolutely horrific' with blood everywhere.

El Baba was taken to Green Valley police station before travelling to Liverpool Hospital for treatment of his 'minor injuries', a police statement sent to Daily Mail Australia said.

Officers also allege they found a knife in El Baba's car when they searched it and the weapon would 'undergo forensic examinations'.

The plumber's lawyer, Zemarai Khatiz, claims his client was released without charge, but when he sent a letter raising concerns about El Baba's treatment by police they charged him in relation to the incident.

He said El Baba wanted to sue the officers involved in the alleged attack. 

The 23-year-old will appear in Liverpool Local Court on July 16.

He has been charged with three counts of assaulting police, one count of resisting arrest and one count of custody of a knife in a public place.


Mum banned from breastfeeding her baby after she got a TATTOO has the decision overturned

A judge's decision to ban a woman from breastfeeding her son because she got a tattoo has been overturned after an urgent appeal.

Judge Matthew Myers told the Federal Court on Thursday that the NSW mother had put the 11-month-old baby at risk by making the decision to get the body art just four weeks prior to the case being heard.jud

The Family Court overturned the decision on Friday, finding Justice Myers made the order based on evidence that 'should not have been relied upon.'

Even though The 20-year-old mother, known by the pseudonym Ms Jackson for legal reasons, received negative results from tests she underwent to determine whether she had contracted any form of infection from the equipment used, the Justice Myers dismissed them as inconclusive.

 It is believed the baby's father raised the issue in a family dispute.

The full bench of the Family Court were unanimous with their decision to overturn the original ruling.

The court heard that Justice Myers came to his decision after 'surfing the internet' on tattoo risks to infants, causing outrage among breastfeeding advocates, Nine News have reported.

Speaking to the ABC, Rebecca Naylor, chief executive officer of the Australian Breastfeeding Association expressed her shock at Justice Myers' ruling, claiming it sets a dangerous precedent.

She said that if the woman chose a  reputable tattoo parlour there should be no issue with her contracting hepatitis or HIV, for which the mother underwent tests for.  

'Does that mean that women who expose themselves to any sort of risks around the contraction of a blood-borne virus... shouldn't be allowed to breast feed?' she said.

'Women do need to be careful they're feeding a child, it's going to be their main source of nutrition up until they're 12 months of age, so you do have to be careful.  'But it doesn't mean that you have to wrap yourself in glad wrap.'


Enrolments in hard-line Islamic colleges are growing rapidly

Enrolments in hard-line Islamic colleges are growing nine times faster than those of mainstream schools, as more Muslim parents demand a strict religious education for their children in ­Australia. Six schools controlled by the conservative Australian Federation of Islamic Councils now boast 5481 students — a 53 per cent rise in enrolments in five years. Federal Education Department statistics show that 28,267 students attended Australia’s 39 Islamic schools last year — 82 per cent more than the 15,503 who were enrolled in 32 schools in 2009. In contrast, student numbers in all Australian schools grew by 6 per cent over the same period, to 3.7 million.

As with most private schools, taxpayers contribute 80 per cent of Islamic schools’ running costs, providing $300 million in commonwealth and state funding in 2013. The latest official data shows the AFIC schools received $42m in taxpayer funding in 2013, plus $21.5m in government funds for new buildings and other capital works between 2009 and 2013. The Islamic Schools Association of Australia, which represents the 33 non-AFIC schools, said  only one-quarter of Muslim students in Australia ­attended religious schools. ISAA president Abdullah Khan, who is the executive principal of the Australian Islamic College in Perth, said that meant three out of four Islamic students attended mainstream public schools.

He said the rise in enrolments at Islamic schools was fuelled by population growth, including a growing number of Muslim students whose parents were working in Australia on 457 work visas. “Academic focus is one of the reasons parents choose our schools but mainly it’s the values we provide, and the religious education,’’ he said. “Some schools, academically, are performing really well.’’ Tasmanian teacher Peter Jones, who spent time in most of Australia’s Muslim schools to research his thesis on Islamic education, said many Islamic parents thought their children would be safer at the religious schools.

“Many parents and students felt the kids were more sheltered in these schools,’’ he said. “They felt a bit more protected from the community because of hostility. People have been pulling their hijabs off and spitting at them’ Jones said. The surge in Islamic enrolments appears strongest in Melbourne’s outer working-class suburbs. The Ilim College of Australia, in Broadmeadows, has seen enrolments soar 70 per cent to 1514 students. At Minaret College, in the outer Melbourne suburb of Springvale, enrolments have jumped 60 per cent since 2009, to 1502 students last year. The Al-Taqwa College, an ultra-conservative Islamic school in Hoppers Crossing, has boosted student numbers by two-thirds since 2009, to 1701 students in 2014.

Enrolments have more than trebled at Unity Grammar College, an Islamic school in the outer-western Sydney suburb of Austral. The college now boasts 899 students. At the nation’s biggest Islamic school, the AFIC-controlled Malek Fahd Islamic School at Greenacre in Sydney, enrolments have risen one-third to 2412 students. The Islamic College of Brisbane, has seen its numbers grow 20%, to 949 students, in 5 years. South Australia’s schools registration board is investigating parents’ complaints about teaching and curriculum standards at the AFIC-affiliated Islamic College of South Australia, which has 630 students — a third more than it did 5 years ago. The Adelaide school reportedly prohibits boys and girls from mingling in the hallways.

Enrolments have more than doubled to 657 students at the AFIC-affiliated Langford Islamic College in Perth, where even the Year 1 girls are required to wear a headscarf. Dr Jones said most imams teaching religion at the Islamic schools were foreign-born, and not all were qualified teachers, but he insisted Islamic schools were not turning teenagers to jihad. “Mostly the jihadists are kids who are alienated in the state system,’’ he said. “The Islamic schools take a very firm line that suicide is forbidden, it’s forbidden to kill women and children and you can’t kill other Muslims, and violence has to be sanctioned by the state’’ Jones said.

Email from Australian Prayer Network

19 June, 2015

Cop accused of leaking Surfers Paradise police station bash footage facing charges

Justice campaigner Renee Eaves with the honest cop

A GOLD Coast police officer accused of leaking video footage showing his colleagues brutally bashing a young dad in a police station basement is facing criminal charges.

Gold Coast chef Noa Begic was repeatedly punched and ground in to the concrete floor of the station’s basement with his hands cuffed behind his back in January 2012.

While two officers responsible for the attack were given a slap over the wrist, the officer who allegedly leaked video footage to The Courier­-Mail is now facing charges including misconduct and abuse of public office and fraud.

Rick Flori was a sergeant at Surfers Paradise police station at the time of the incident and his house was raided by officers from the Ethical Standards Command weeks later.  He was ‘reassigned’ and has been fighting to clear his name ever since.

Sgt Flori was formally notified of the charges yesterday but vowed to fight them.  “I intend on fighting the charges to the full extent of the law,” he said in a statement.

Of the four officers involved in the attack, only two ever faced disciplinary action and one of those – a sergeant seen washing away blood with a bucket of water – retired from the service before any findings were made.  The officer caught throwing punches was stood down, but has since been reinstated without demotion.

Charges of public nuisance and obstruct police against Mr Begic were eventually dropped.

Mr Begic, who settled out of court in his own action against the QPS, is now prevented from speaking about the incident, but at the time he paid tribute to those who ensured the video footage came to light.

White knight Renee Eaves, who has helped both men in their battles against the QPS, said the charges against Sgt Flori were a disgrace.  “There are many good police within the organisation without a voice and intimidated by these types of actions,” she said.  “They are too scared to report misconduct for fear of workplace harassment or intimidation.”


Bill Shorten's union took hundreds of thousands from building company

One of Australia's biggest builders paid Bill Shorten's union nearly $300,000 after he struck a workplace deal that cut conditions and saved the company as much as $100 million on a major Melbourne road project.

A Fairfax Media investigation has uncovered large payments from joint venture builder Thiess John Holland to the Australian Workers Union when Mr Shorten, now opposition leader, ran the union.

The payments started soon after work began on the $2.5 billion East Link tollway in Melbourne's eastern suburbs in 2005.

Fairfax Media understands that, at the time, Thiess John Holland regarded the payment as an acknowledgment of the flexibility of the AWU deal, which was struck by Mr Shorten.

It's unclear what the union used the money for. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously accused the AWU of running a "business model" whose purpose was "ripping off workers to advance its own political position".

The deal was hugely favourable to the builder, allowing it to effectively work around the clock by reducing conditions around rostering and weekend work, helping the project finish five months early. It was lauded in a 2006 report by the free enterprise lobby, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which claimed it saved the company tens of millions of dollars.

The payment was part of more than $1 million of largely unexplained employer cash flowing into the AWU's Victorian branch between January 2004 and late 2007, when Mr Shorten was either state or federal secretary.

These include almost $200,000 from cardboard manufacturer Visy industries, which at the time was run by Shorten's billionaire friend Richard Pratt, almost $100,000 from aluminum giant Alcoa, and $300,000 from chemical giant Huntsman.

The figures are detailed in fine-print in documents lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission as well as documents before the Abbott government's royal commission into union corruption.

Fairfax Media understands that some of these amounts include spending on training and payroll deductions that the union will defend if quizzed by the royal commission.

Huntsman denied any improper payments had been made and said from 2004 it paid the AWU for an on-site "workplace change facilitator", whose role was to balance the "needs of the unionised workforce and the company".

John Holland declined to comment.

A spokesman for Mr Shorten said: "Specific questions about individual contributions from individual companies to the union should be directed to the individual companies or the union".

Last week Mr Shorten was called to appear before the royal commission after Fairfax Media revealed the AWU had received $38,228 from Winslow Constructors in 2005 to pay the union dues of 105 of its employees. The Winslow payments continued for a decade, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Under questioning by the royal commission, current AWU state secretary Ben Davis described the Winslow payments as having "profoundly" weakened the industrial position of the AWU.

But the regular payments from Thiess John Holland are much larger. They started when Mr Shorten was both the AWU's state and national secretary and continued to flow after he left the union and entered federal parliament in late 2007. Mr Shorten is likely to appear before the commission in August or September.

Some of payments from Thiess John Holland are listed in union documents lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission, including $134,500 originally described as a "donation" to the AWU. The filing was amended a year later to be describe the money as "other receipt". As a Labor-affiliated union, the AWU is required to disclose some of the payments it receives.

Other internal AWU documents, including bank and accounting records, list some of the payments as being for "training" but several large amounts are listed as "service" with "???" beside the entries. Total payments from the construction company into the AWU's state branch bank account under Mr Shorten and his successor Cesar Melhem were $282,308. Another $16,500 was paid into the union's national branch account.

Thiess, John Holland and Visy all bought tables to the annual AWU balls in the mid-2000s but they cost only tens of thousands of dollars.

Early completion of a major infrastructure project is a rarity in Victoria, where projects are often delayed by industrial issues and other problems.

Central to the East Link deal was the elimination of industry conditions routinely demanded by AWU arch-rival the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. The deal struck by Mr Shorten halved the number of mandatory rostered days offs, an end to extended "lock down" weekends, and more flexibility to work in hot and wet weather.

At the time, the CFMEU described the deal as a "second rate agreement", and a "shocker" when it came to rostered days off.

Originally struck exclusively with the AWU, the CFMEU was later included. But its members were given limited work and its officials had little influence over the project.

The IPA report said the reduction in non-working days created a "significant advantage" to the project, allowing work in theory to occur 365 days a year.

At the time, Mr Shorten described the workplace deal as a "unique deal" for a "unique project".  "The terms deliver long-term, secure, well-paid jobs for our members, while recognising that the whole job should not have to shut down for 26 days every year," he said.

"The agreement provides breakthrough levels of superannuation, parental leave, allowances and penalty rates for the industry."

Last week Mr Shorten said he would not comment on his time as a union official before he fronts the royal commission.

On Wednesday, the union's current secretary Ben Davis told Fairfax Media he would not comment on the period when the union was run by predecessors Mr Shorten and Cesar Melhem.


Gillian Triggs’s misguided assault on system

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs has launched a sweeping assault on Australia’s system of governance, the parliament, the executive and the political parties in the name of human rights freedoms that she claims are being abandoned or prejudiced.

In an escalation of her campaign against executive powers, Triggs, in speeches over the past week, says our democracy is being undermined from within, that dozens of laws breach basic freedoms, that a collusion exists between Labor and Coalition and that the “supremacy of law over the executive is under threat” in Australia.

She continued this campaign in her appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program celebrating the Magna Carta anniversary when, at the conclusion, she made the astonishing claim the Human Rights Commission operated in a “very neutral way”, that she was not being political and that it was unfortunate the commission’s work was interpreted as political.

This was pure sophistry. That Triggs cannot grasp her recent speeches and TV appearance were entirely political cannot be ruled out. She seems to be a synthesis between, on the one hand, an idealistic and naive human rights activist and, on the other, a statutory officer seized by her responsibility laced with a fighting instinct against her opponents in the government. With the government declaring “no confidence” in her, Triggs is free and running.

The Q&A program finished with almost unanimous warnings (Bronwyn Bishop apart) about the “tyranny of the majority” in the context that the tyranny of the king is now substituted by the tyranny of the majority as an evil to be contained. It was gobsmacking stuff.

It was also an illustration of the chasm in this country between a legal culture propelling human rights laws, self-righteous in its moral vanity and intellectual faith, and the practical, imperfect nature of a parliamentary/executive system, obliged to change norms to meet changing situations from terrorism to boat arrivals, and inevitably responsive to public opinion.

What was most striking about the Q&A panel was its patronising, even contemptible, attitude towards majority or “mob” views, with the implied critique that Triggs has been shouting from the rooftops — that parliament and the executive are betraying the freedoms of the Australian people.

These, of course, are the freedoms as pronounced by the Human Rights Commission. It is several years old now but the Colmar Brunton research conducted for the Frank Brennan-led human rights report to the former Labor government found that “most participants in the groups reported that they had had no experience of having their rights violated” and that only 10 per cent of people felt they had ever had their rights infringed.

The Brennan report put heavy emphasis on the need to “educate” the public into proper human rights awareness. This is the crusading purpose of the Human Rights Commission: the public needs to be educated into human rights culture. The patronising nature of the mission is brazen and declared.

The commission is a statutory agency with wide responsibility in relation to racial, sex, disability and aged discrimination. It both manages individual complaints and operates as an advocate, lobby group and media campaigner for its particular view of human rights.

This is a highly ideological view partly because of its statutory charter. The Human Rights Commission puts huge emphasis on human rights that define the progressive agenda, notably asylum-seekers, sex and racial discrimination, but in relation to human rights that define the conservative agenda, notably freedom of religion and free speech, it often appears to be antagonistic.

This ideological bias is inherent in the commission and its culture. It guarantees the political conflict now on display, though it cannot forgive the personal denigration of Triggs herself.

It is, however, the solution that the commission applies that is the heart of the problem. Its fatal flaw is to believe that rule of law constitutes more rule by lawyers. This is a grand folly, yet an idea growing in its illusory impact. More power for lawyers and judges has become an ingrained ideology (and a naked act of self-interest in the case of lawyers). Radiating from every paragraph of Triggs’s recent speeches is the faith that Australia must become a better society by empowering courts with more authority in relation to parliament and the executive. She gives many examples of the abuse of executive power, many valid and some arising from completely legitimate policy changes.

The ultimate objective is a bill of rights. This is an end in itself. In truth, it is something more — it is an industry based on the false idea the result is a better society.

Really? The US has a Bill of Rights along with capital punishment and no universal health insurance. The core assumption of the human rights lobby is still unproved: that giving the courts more power and imposing more limits on the legislature means better social and economic outcomes and more justice. More justice for whom?

The real debate is about conflicting human rights. Who decides how the right of the Australian people to be safe from terrorism should be balanced against the rights of potential terrorists? Who decides how the right of indigenous women and children to be protected from domestic violence should be balanced against the rights of indigenous peoples to be free from state imposed restrictions?

The executive and the parliament are imperfect. But it is their job to take decisions about the conflicting human rights priorities. That is not the proper task of the Human Rights Commission. It is not what judges are equipped to do.

Triggs is a dogmatic product of the transformation of legal culture across the Western world and the powerful notion that parliaments and executives, contained by public opinion, are inherently incapable of securing the protection of human rights.

To the extent the Abbott government is cavalier in dealing with human rights and careless in infringing the judicial power it merely confirms the Triggs’s critique.

The deeper issue, however, is that human rights campaigns, usually in the moral cause of individual enhancement, are always and everywhere about policy. And the Australian people don’t like the policy conclusion where Triggs ends up on boats and terrorism. That is understandable.

In her speech Triggs said that “time and again” the High Court had limited executive discretion and “time and again” the government had persuaded the parliament to change the law to get its way. This is her complaint. In truth, it is how our democracy is supposed to work.


No Charges To Be Laid Against Aboriginal Queensland MP Billy Gordon

According to the Cairns Post, police will not be pressing charges against the North Queensland politician following a three-month investigation.

Mr Gordon resigned from the state Labor party in March after making history as one of only three Aboriginal MPs to be elected to Queensland’s Parliament.

It followed allegations of domestic violence made by his former partner, which he denied at the time. It was also revealed Mr Gordon had failed to disclose his criminal history to the party, including break and enter offences committed when he was a teenager. He was under no legal obligation to disclose the charges.

There were also allegations that Mr Gordon had failed to lodge tax returns and dodged child support payments.

Newly-minted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was quick to respond to the allegations, saying Mr Gordon had let her, the party, and Queensland down.

In the midst of a police investigation, Mr Gordon publicly stated he hoped he would be afforded “natural justice” and opted to remain in Parliament as an Independent.

It was later revealed that his LNP opponent for Cook, David Kempton, had assisted Mr Gordon’s former partner in revealing the allegations, as well as federal LNP Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch. The allegations were made public on a website linked to former LNP Cook MP Gavin King.

Today, Mr Gordon told the Cairns Post that he had never perpetuated domestic violence in the relationship and condemned the “dirty” political tactics that forced his resignation from the Labor party. “It’s the ultimate baptism of fire,” he told the Cairns Post.

Mr Gordon is now focused on his family, although he has not had contact with his 11-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter from the relationship, he told the Cairns Post.

“I haven’t seen the kids since it’s blown up, but I know they love me and I love them,” he said.

He told the Cairns Post he was now focused on his electorate.

Gordon represents the sprawling electorate of Cook, which takes in Cairns, Cape York and the Torres Strait – which has a sizable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

He is the second Aboriginal MP to hold the seat, following in the footsteps of Eric Deeral in the 70s.

[The above report is excerpted from the far-Left "New Matilda".  I have reproduced the factual part and left out all the huffing and puffing. So are we surprised that Matilda does not mention which party Eric Deeral represented?  It was the Country party, the major conservative party in Queensland at the time.  I had forgotten all about him but when Matilda failed to mention his party, I knew immediately what his politics would be. "New Matilda" are amusing in their predictability.  Balance and fair comment are totally  alien to them.  They also fail to mention that Australia's first Aboriginal parliamentarian, Neville Bonner, was also a conservative nominee]


18 June, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is appalled by revelations about Shorten the union leader selling out his own  members.

"New Matilda's" idea of survey research

I am probably one of the very few who take any notice of Matilda but they are so determined to come to their foreordained conclusions that I find them amusing.

I find the latest effusion particularly amusing because I spent 20 years as a university survey researcher -- resulting in many academic publications.  So I am quite sure how the sleight of hand below works.

What they do is to compare a properly conducted survey with responses gathered over the internet.  And they found a great divergence of results.  But such comparisons always do diverge.  People contacted over the internet are not representative.  They differ from the mean in being better educated, more socially isolated, more Leftist and in various other ways.  As far as generalizing to any known population is concerned they are invalid and useless.  It takes Matilda to hang their hat on such a survey

A survey distributed on social media has recorded dramatically different results to those released by the government-funded group, finding stronger support for constitution reform among white Australia than black. Amy McQuire reports.

Only 25 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the “grassroots” Recognise group, and a majority would vote no in a referendum if it delivered only symbolic recognition, according to a new poll that pours cold water on the Recognise’s claim that nine out of ten blackfellas support their campaign.

In May, the government-funded Recognise group released research suggesting nine in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people supported constitutional recognition.

The polling was conducted by Polity Research, which surveyed 750 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and 2700 non-Indigenous voters, according to Recognise.

Recognise said the “research confirms continuing support for recognition from the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

The group released its media statement without detail of the question that was posed to interviewees, or where it had retrieved its sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters.

But the claim of overwhelming Indigenous support is one that was controversial among many who believe the issue is being met with a much more diverse sample of opinions in Aboriginal communities.

While conservative opposition to constitutional reform has been highly publicised, the concerns from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been largely overshadowed by the Recognise campaign’s claims of almost unanimous support.

In February, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples acknowledged that there was a growing opposition to constitutional reform from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with co-chair Les Malezer saying “we are already receiving messages from our people that they are determined to vote against any referendum”.

This opposition is confirmed by an online survey conducted by Luke Pearson at IndigenousX, a social media platform across Twitter and Facebook, who released the results last night.

The survey drew responses from 827 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country, with the majority of responses coming from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The poll, conducted on Survey Monkey, was widely shared across Twitter and Facebook, the latter of which has high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users.

The survey acknowledges that, like the Recognise polling, the sample size was “still quite small”.

“Questions regarding the distribution of data collected by Recognise should be similarly asked and caution must always be exercised when claiming that a survey is ‘representative’,” the group says.

But the IndigenousX poll produces radically different results to those promoted by the Recognise campaign.

It found that rather than Recognise’s stated 87 per cent Indigenous support, only 25 per cent of IndigenousX respondents supported the group. 58 per cent were in opposition, while a further 17 per cent were still unsure.


The rich are the savers

And it is savings that allow investment.  Without a pile of savings under their control, the banks would have nothing to lend.  Economic progress and increased overall wealth depend therefore almost entirely on the rich.  Taxing them dry would stop all borrowing stone dead.  So no new houses, builders out of work etc. The rich are a vital asset

At least three studies into wealth distribution landed this week, all offering varied takes but inevitably painting an overall picture of a world in which the divide between the haves and have-nots is widening at an increasing pace.

Australia, Canada and Sweden are important exceptions to a middle-class squeeze being experienced in many advanced economies, the IMF declared.

This widespread crunch which Australia has conspicuously avoided is the result of a shift in the allocation of income to the higher and lower rankings, reducing the portion going to the middle 20 per cent in these advanced economies, as well as some large emerging markets.

Pre-tax incomes of middle-class households in the US, the UK and Japan have experienced declining or stagnant growth rates in recent years, reducing the predominant source of income for the majority of households.

Average wages have risen at a slower pace than productivity growth, even as advances such as large increases in executive compensation go to the top end of the income distribution.

But lest we get complacent in Australia, separate research reveals a yawning chasm in household savings that far outstrips disparity in incomes.

The wealthiest fifth of Australian households hold more than 200 times the average savings of the poorest fifth, according to an examination of levels and distribution of savings and debt by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.

The number of millionaire households has more than doubled in the last ten years. So now, the wealthiest fifth of Australians have on average $1.3 million and account for three-quarters of all household savings, while the poorest fifth have saved on average less than $6,000.

“The top quintile may receive one-third of all income but they own three-quarters of the total value of savings,” BCEC director Professor Alan Duncan said.

This reveals a gulf between the top and the bottom much bigger than seen by looking at income alone.

Superannuation and cash saved in financial institutions are the main form of savings for Australians, with the median saver sitting on household savings of around $100,000.

Millionaire households, while only accounting for 8 per cent of all households, hold more than half of all savings.

Superannuation and cash deposited in financial institutions are the main forms of savings for most Australians, representing two-thirds of average household savings.


China and Australia formally sign free trade agreement

China and Australia have signed a trade agreement that is set to increase market access for Australian beef and wine exporters while boosting Chinese carmakers and electronics producers who wish to sell their goods to Australians.

But as ministers from both countries promoted the benefits for industries and consumers, the Australian Labor party and the Greens vowed to scrutinise the yet-to-be-released details to ensure it was a good deal.

One flashpoint is the inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which grants foreign companies the right to sue governments for breaching commitments in such agreements. The Australian union movement has also raised concerns about the access to be granted to Chinese citizens under labour market provisions.

Both governments concluded negotiations on the free trade agreement (FTA) in 2014, but it was formally signed in Canberra on Wednesday by Australia’s trade minister, Andrew Robb, and China’s commerce minister, Gao Hucheng.

Gao said it was a “comprehensive, high-quality and balanced agreement” that was a milestone in relations between Australia and China. “It is the highest degree of liberalisation of all the FTAs China has so far signed with any economy,” he said.

The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said the agreement would give each nation “unprecedented access to each other’s markets” and pointed to the reduction in tariffs imposed on trade.

“It removes barriers to Australian agricultural exports across a range of products, including beef, dairy, lamb, wine, horticulture and seafood,” he said.

“It means duty-free entry for 99.9% of our resources, energy and manufacturing exports within four years. But it’s about so much more than just exporting more and reducing tariffs. Australian services providers, financial, education, health and aged care will have new access to China’s services sector, a sector that is already the largest contributor to China’s GDP and is set to drive economic growth in coming years.

“For China, this agreement liberalises the screening threshold for Chinese private sector investment in Australia and it puts Chinese businesses in the same position as those of our other major trading partners. And of course it means that Australian consumers will pay less for cars, for clothes, for electronics and other goods imported from China.”

The full text of the agreement will be subject to an inquiry by parliament’s joint standing committee on treaties, paving the way for parliament to consider amendments to relevant legislation.

Labor’s Senate leader and trade spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said the party would assess the deal against the test of whether it would increase jobs and economic growth. Labor would look closely at the effect on the Australian labour market.

“Labor supports temporary skilled migration to fix skill shortages. That scheme should never be used as a mechanism to bypass local workers and we will certainly be looking at the detail of that,” Wong said.

“And, as I’ve said previously, Labor does not support investor-state dispute settlement clauses in agreements.”

The Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said: “Regardless of the supposed marginal economic benefits, the Greens will never support an agreement that makes future governments liable to be sued by foreign corporations simply for making laws that protect the public interest.”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) raised concerns that the deal would “make it much easier for employers to bring in Chinese workers without having to advertise jobs to local workers”.

The ACTU’s president, Ged Kearney, said the government appeared “intent on selling out even more local jobs”.

“There must be strong rules around labour market testing and labour mobility clauses in the China free trade deal to ensure local jobs are protected,” she said.

The Electrical Trades Union went further, describing the FTA as “an irreversibly reckless move”.

But the Business Council of Australia’s president, Catherine Livingstone, said the agreement would unlock significant opportunities for two-way trade and “deliver lasting benefits for the whole community”.

The Australian Industry Group’s chief executive, Innes Willox, said industry had long viewed the agreement with Australia’s largest trading partner “with a mixture of optimism and trepidation”.

“As with all trade agreements, the process would have benefited from deeper consultation and a better understanding of the opportunities and the threats before signing,” he said.


Firearms Prohibition Orders

One worrying trend in Australia is toward orders prohibiting individuals from possessing firearms. ‘Firearms Prohibition Orders’ (‘FPOs) are the means by which this is achieved in NSW and SA, and in April 2013 the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, urged other states to adopt the South Australian model. So, if you live in a state not currently affected by FPOs - watch out!

Strictly speaking there is nothing new about FPOs, in that they existed under the NSW Firearms & Dangerous Weapons Act 1973.  What is new are recent ‘bells and whistles’ that have seen Police powers of search increased in respect to people who are subject to them.

This increase in powers in NSW occurred against the backdrop of a gang war between rival groups in Southwest Sydney.  The gangs were shooting against one another and, even when someone was the victim, they refused to talk to Police, leaving the crime unsolved and Police looking impotent.

An FPO may be ordered by a delegate of the Police Commissioner, who may be any serving officer above inspector level, even in the absence of a conviction, providing that they are satisfied the subject of the order is ‘not fit, in the public interest to have possession of a firearm’.  In NSW, the power is to be found in section 73 of the Firearms Act 1996.

It comes into effect upon issue, but a person cannot contravene it until the order has been personally served upon them.

A person who is subject to an FPO cannot acquire possess or use a firearm or firearms part.  Penalties on conviction are a maximum of 14 years for a pistol or prohibited weapon or five years in any other case.

Possession of ammunition attracts a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

If they attend a firearms dealers premises, shooting range or club without reasonable excuse, they may be subject to a fine of up to fifty penalty units (a penalty unit is $110) or 12 months imprisonment.

Worryingly, section 74A of the Act, provides Police with the power to search or detain a person who is subject to an order, enter their premises, or stop a vehicle occupied or controlled by them, and conduct a search for firearms, firearms parts or ammunition.

Therefore, if an order is made against you, it is very important that you appeal it within the time period stated on the document.

The Act provides a limited mechanism for review.  This is initially via internal review and then, if the outcome of that is not satisfactory, it may be reviewed under s60 Administrative Decisions Review Act.

Section 75(1A) of the Act, prevents a person who would be refused a Firearms Licence under section 11(5) or 23(9) of the Act, from applying for external review.  Thus, if you are under 18 years of age, subject to an AVO, a good behavior bond, or have been convicted of a prescribed offence (i.e. one involving drugs, violence, fraud or stealing) within the last ten years, you cannot appeal to the Tribunal.

Ah, I hear you say, FPOs only apply to bad guys, so why should I care?

I was recently consulted by a gentleman who became subject of an FPO 34 years ago, following a failure to produce an Inquiry Agents Licence on demand and possession of a loaded firearm in a public place.

There was nothing sinister about the loaded firearm, it had inadvertently been left loaded in the boot after a hunt.

He was charged with these offences and a fine of $200 recorded.

That the matters were dealt with in a Local Court, and the presence of non-custodial penalties, would suggest that the offences were not considered particularly serious by Police Prosecutors or the presiding Magistrate.

Nevertheless, my guess is that the light penalty upset someone, because Police issued a FPO. This was appealed (note, it was externally reviewable under the 1973 Act, but not the 2006 one).

Unfortunately, his solicitor had made an error in entering the matter in his diary, and he failed to appear, with the result that the Court affirmed the order.

In NSW, under the Criminal Records Act 1991 minor offences become ‘spent’ and drop off a criminal record after a number of years of good behavior, and this has been the case in this case. Notwithstanding this, the FPO remains.

The Gentleman concerned has held Inquiry Agents Licence for  almost four decades in Australia.  He has completed a law degree in the UK, and has been considered to be a ‘fit and proper person’ for the purposes of being admitted as a Solicitor of England and Wales.

He has been granted a Shotgun Certificate in the United Kingdom and has competed internationally in that sport. He is now a company director.  He is certainly in my opinion the very example of a model citizen.

Notwithstanding this, he cannot obtain a firearms licence, in Australia and is also deprived of a number of fundamental rights regarding search and detention.

This unfair law can adversely effect any of us at any time. It is time Parliament stop giving Police everything that they claim a need for on ‘operational grounds’ and start to build in to the system appropriate safeguards to protect individual liberty.


17 June, 2015

For whom did Bill Shorten toil while he was a union leader?

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten maintains that his ­career with the AWU was ­devoted to providing fair wages and conditions for its members but it seems that is not necessarily so.

“My union record has been public and it’s always been consistent, creating good and safe workplaces, building up better job security for workers, making sure that people got fair wages and conditions,” Shorten, a former Victorian and national secretary of the AWU, insists.

The problem with his ­assertion is that not only were some of those people unaware that they had been “joined” to the union by Shorten, the agreements he made were ­demonstrably not always in the best interests of the ­workers he was being paid to represent.

When Shorten appears ­before the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption in late August or early September, he will face a raft of questions which should examine the loss of benefits to workers under contracts he signed ­including the 2001 Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust ­agreement, the 2001 Cirque du Soleil agreement, the 2003 Cut and Fill agreement and the 2004 Chiquita Mushrooms agreement.

These agreements signed by Shorten laid the groundwork for a culture only now being repudiated by current AWU office holders.
Just last week, an agreement with Cleanevent, one of the companies signed up by Shorten, was terminated after AWU senior national legal ­officer Stephen Crawford ­appeared before the Fair Work Commission.

Mr Crawford said the only purpose of the 2006 agreement (based on an earlier 2004 agreement) was to deny ­employees access to improved weekend and public holiday penalty rates.

“It’s obviously quite clear that it would be to the benefit of all employees for the agreement to be terminated,” he told the FWC. “It is actually in the public interest for this agreement to be terminated.”

Under the deal, the AWU gained at least $75,000 and the workers lost $6 million in ­penalties.

The commission has also heard how Winslow Constructions paid several hundred thousand dollars in union dues to the AWU, whether their employees, were aware or not, when Shorten was state AWU secretary.

Shorten is adamant that he can “guarantee about any of the matters that we always ­improved workers’ conditions, full stop”.  “That is my answer on these matters, my record … I spent every day of my adult life representing workers. My record is there for all to see.”

But that record shows as head of the Victorian branch of the AWU (1998–2006) and National Secretary (2001– 2007), he negotiated or signed multiple enterprise agreements some of which stripped workers of penalty rates or overtime pay or imposed ­unfavourable conditions.

The dud deals were done with employers who were prepared to gain industrial peace. Some employees had their membership, sometimes without their knowledge.

As his successor as national secretary, Paul Howes, said in his effusive farewell to Shorten on December 13, 2007, his predecessor had “looked at new ways to organise members and to organise the un-organised,” and that “the AWU is indebted to Bill Shorten”.

Howes lyrically spoke of Shorten “campaigning and ­attracting to this oldest of ­unions – the union of John Curtin, William Spence, Dame Mary Gilmore, Mick Young, Laurie Short and the shearers’ strike … and Waltzing Matilda – oil and gas workers, jockeys, fruit-pickers and netball players, while simultaneously getting and reading and thinking widely about unionism in a global, ageing world, and the challenges of Asia, and how it all fits in”.

“He worked out new ways, new tools of negotiation to get into non-union workplaces and achieve the solidarity of the steel, aluminium, glass, public sector, manufacturing and aviation workers in an era when the whole notion of unionism was under threat,” Howes said. “So it has come to pass that the AWU I’ve inherited now has 100,000 members.”

Those inflated membership numbers enhanced the AWU’s influence within the Labor Party influence, as author Aaron Patrick (also a former member of Shorten’s Young Labor) explained: “The (Labor Party) system places mass ­unions like the shop assistants’ union, which has about 300,000 members, and the Australian Workers’ Union, with roughly 100,000 members, at the centre of party power.

Through their influence over the party’s finances and internal votes, the unions can get their candidates elected to parliament.”

But as the Australian Jockeys’ Association is at pains to point out, and has written to me to state, there is no evidence that the Jockeys’ Association knew or agreed to the AWU adding the names of jockeys to its membership list. The netballers find themselves similarly bewildered at their union memberships.

This attitude of advancement at all costs was neatly summarised by one of his parliamentary colleagues, Richard Marles MP, in a 2006 interview with the Sunday Age. “If you want to know how Bill has got to where he is now,” Marles said, “if you had to identify one thing, I think it is that he has been prepared to make decisions and to do things that almost anyone else would not.”


Bronny blasts Australia's human rights chief as 'too political'

Gillian Triggs told to run for office if she wants to be a 'political participant'

Liberal Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has told Australia's human rights chief Gillian Triggs to stand for office if she wants to be a 'political participant'.

Appearing alongside Ms Triggs on the ABC's Q&A program on Monday night, Ms Bishop suggested the law professor has demonstrated bias against the government during her tenure as president of the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

By allegedly delaying a report into the treatment of child asylum seekers until the Liberals took power, Ms Triggs had 'made it very political,' she said.

'That has made you a very political figure,' she told Ms Triggs across the panel table.

'You have to make the decision: Are you a statutory officer carrying out an obligation with the protection of that office, or do you wish to be a political participant?

'If you do wish to be a political participant, then you have to be no longer a statutory officer and perhaps stand for office.'

Ms Triggs brushed off Ms Bishop's criticism, saying it suggested she was doing a good job.

'I am a statutory officer, and that's a position of independence which allows me to speak, based on the evidence and based on the law, as truthfully as I can.

'Were I to receive frequent praise and commendation from the government, I think the Australian people would have a good reason to ask for my resignation,' she said to loud applause.

Ms Triggs said the 180 pieces of work published during the previous Labor government indicated the HRC acted as strongly then as it does now.


Won’t sign TPP unless farmers gain: Joyce

Australia won’t settle on a landmark trans-Pacific free trade agreement until demands for better US market access for farmers are met, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says.

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its final stages of negotiations, recent leaks indicate the Obama administration is unwilling to discuss cuts on tariffs and import quotas for Australian cattle farmers and sugar growers.

‘If there’s nothing in it for us then we don’t need to sign it,’ the minister told ABC radio on Friday.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam has previously attacked the secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations. In a speech to parliament he said, ‘As much as those on the other side of the chamber love to deride the work of the WikiLeaks publishing organisation and its beleaguered publisher and staff, we would know nothing about the progress of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement if it was not for whistleblowers from inside the trade agreement posting two of the chapters – the IP and environment draft chapters – on the WikiLeaks website. We would be operating completely in the dark.

‘Are we seriously proposing we would put ourselves up to be sued by foreign corporations or foreign investors on unelected international tribunals from industry sectors in countries like Brunei?

‘We need to know exactly who is pulling the strings – whether, as it appears from the mark-up in the draft IP chapter, we are simply doing as the US trade negotiators are demanding and traipsing along behind them, or whether we could even detect faint traces of an independent foreign and trade policy inside the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.’


Counterfeit food threatens Australia's international reputation

Australian food producers and exporters are calling on the federal government to do more to protect the nation’s clean, green image against a rising tide of counterfeiting.

Unscrupulous foreign operators are taking advantage of Australia’s reputation for quality food by counterfeiting labels and packaging to sell their own inferior and potentially unsafe product in international markets.

An increasing number of Australian producers are being targeted by food counterfeiters in Asia and the Middle East, and exporters are bracing for bigger problems in the future.

The first thing you need to think about is that as soon as your product becomes successful over there [China] someone will try to copy it or steal your brand.

‘Counterfeiting is a huge global industry worth an estimated $1.7 trillion dollars,’ says John Houston, CEO of YPB Systems—one of a new breed of companies that's emerging to develop technology to protect food producers from counterfeiters.

‘The standard issue that people are familiar with is going to Asia and buying a fake handbag or fake Polo shirt or something like that, now that problem is exacerbated by food quality and pharmaceutical quality,’ he says.

‘There is an enormous amount of counterfeit or sub-standard food being sold, especially throughout Asia.’

Australia's high food safety standards enable producers to demand a premium price overseas, and the rapidly growing Asian middle class, especially in China, is prepared to pay top dollar for our food and wine.

‘Australian products are highly prized because they come from a country where the provenance of goods is not in question,’ says Houston.

‘What I would say to any Australian food exporter to China is, the first thing you need to think about is that as soon as your product becomes successful over there someone will try to copy it or steal your brand.'

Premium Australian meat is a particular target. Wagyu beef king David Blackmore, whose product is in high demand around the world, fell victim to counterfeiters three years ago.

In 2012 he was contacted by the head chef of a five-star Shanghai hotel who'd previously used Blackmore Wagyu Beef in Dubai and noticed a difference in quality.

Blackmore says the Chinese product was immediately identified as a fake. ‘We actually put a label inside the Cryovac bag and that label has a code in the ink and I immediately identified it wasn’t ours.  ‘My son flew straight to China to get it because we were hearing from other chefs the same sort of thing.

‘There was quite a lot of beef going into the five-star hotels in Shanghai and Beijing that wasn’t our beef.’

Blackmore Wagyu Beef tracked down the source of the counterfeit beef to a Chinese company that had an office in Sydney. The information was passed on to both Chinese and Australian authorities. No action was taken.

‘From my point of view all of the evidence that was needed was handed on and we did chase up two or three times but there had been no further action taken,’ says Blackmore.

The Blackmore Wagyu Company has now largely pulled out of China, supplying only five trusted five-star hotels in Shanghai.

Blackmore says the need to protect the Australian food brand is a national issue.

‘The main thing that Australia’s got over all other agricultural export countries, maybe except New Zealand, is our clean and green image and the fact that Australian food is safe,’ he says.

‘The Australian image is very, very important and if we lose the fact that our food is safe because it’s been counterfeited, that’s going to really affect Australia’s reputation in the world.

‘It definitely should have been raised amongst the free trade agreement discussions.’

However, another Australian victim of food fraudsters believes there is little government can do to tackle the problem.

Howard Hansen is the managing director of Hansen Orchards, which exports fresh Tasmanian cherries into Asia.

‘Whatever happens after the product leaves the Australian shore, it’s very difficult for the government to have any influence over,’ he says. ‘They can’t stop someone in Hong Kong, China or Vietnam pulling a lid off a South American product and putting a counterfeit Tasmanian lid back on it.’

Hansen Orchards has been contending with food counterfeiting for the past decade, although there has been a big increase in the past few years, particularly in China.

‘Normally the artwork has got something a little bit different and it’s not quite the same, but they do seem to be getting more sophisticated and they are getting closer to copying the original designs,’ says Hansen.

A fortnight ago, Hansen Orchards discovered a problem in Vietnam after a consumer posted a complaint about food poisoning on social media and included a photo of a counterfeit package of Tasmanian cherries.  Howard Hansen was alerted to the case by Austrade after the story was picked up by a newspaper in Vietnam.

‘Austrade has responded on our behalf and pointed out that there is no Australian product in the [Vietnamese] market and hasn’t been since December last year,’ he says.

While Hansen is confident the companies who import his fruit continue to trust the brand,  he is worried food counterfeiting could undermine consumer confidence in Australian cherries.

‘Earlier this year, we had a customer in China that picked up our email address off a counterfeit carton and emailed us to say they’d previously bought Tasmanian product and on this occasion they were really, really disappointed and they didn’t taste nice etcetera.  ‘But that was a month before we’d even picked a cherry.

‘We know about that one person who was proactive enough to tell us about it but we don’t whether there were a thousand boxes or 10,000 boxes, or it could’ve been 100,000 boxes.’

It's a problem that is only going to get worse for Australian producers.

John Houston from YPB Systems says it's still early days in the China market, where the sale of Australian produce is in its infancy. ‘It’s probably more of a potential issue than a real current issue.

‘Having said that, a Chinese consumer who reaches for an Australian-made product will start to question, and today they will question if it’s real or not because so many of the other things that are branded are questionable in China,’ he says.

In the past, security for food packaging has revolved around things like holograms, colour shifting ink or elaborate bottle tops.

With an estimated 50,000 hologram manufacturers in China today, producers are now looking to new technologies such as YPB's invisible fluorescent tracer, which can be scanned.

Houston is urging Australian companies to be vigilant in protecting their brand.

‘There is no silver bullet for counterfeiting. It’s really a matter of putting a business process in place with measures that help protect the brand and the consumer,’ he says.

‘There’s very little anti-counterfeit technology being put into many products today but I think we’ll see more of this and brands becoming more proactive.’


16 June, 2015

FM Bishop tells Indonesia to fix its borders over people smugglers payments claim

Foreign minister says Indonesia can resolve concerns by securing its borders, as Jakarta investigates claims people smugglers were paid to turn back boats

The claim that Australian authorities paid people smugglers to return their boat to Indonesia has escalated into a diplomatic war of words, with the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, suggesting Indonesia is to blame for failing to secure its borders in the first place.

Over the weekend the Indonesia foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, ordered an explanation from the Australian ambassador, Paul Grigson, over the allegations and Jakarta has launched an investigation.

“I look forward to hearing the full ­results of Indonesia’s investigation of the people-smuggling crimes committed in Indonesia, including any breaches of passport and visa laws, and establishing whether the captains and crews of these boats are part of people-smuggling syndicates or are paid by them,” Bishop told the Australian newspaper on Monday.

“The best way for Indonesia to resolve any concerns it has about Operation Sovereign Borders is for Indonesia to enforce sovereignty over its borders,” she said, referring to the Coalition’s hardline border protection policy, which includes the measure to turn boats around at sea.

“Operation Sovereign Borders is necessary because Indonesian boats with Indonesian crews are leaving Indonesia with the express intention of breaching our sovereignty, facilitated by illegal people-smuggling syndicates,” Bishop said.

Indonesia has been critical of the turnback policy in the past, urging a regional solution to the problem of asylum boats, rather than a unilateral one.

While the situation escalates internationally, the Coalition faces mounting pressure at home to definitively confirm or deny the claims, which relate to an incident on 31 May in which boat crews were allegedly paid US$5,000 each to turn a boat containing 65 asylum seekers back to Indonesia.

The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has steadfastly refused to do so, citing the Coalition’s long-held refusal to talk about operational “on-water” matters.

“There’s really only one thing to say here, and that is that we’ve stopped the boats,” Abbott said on Sunday. “That’s good for Australia, it’s good for Indonesia and it’s particularly good for all those who want to see a better world.”

News Corp has claimed that a “senior intelligence source” has told them Australia’s foreign spy agency, Asis, may have paid the smugglers during a covert operation.

“Put it this way, the navy doesn’t have authorisation to do such things nor do they sail around with safes full of US dollars in them,” the anonymous source is reported as saying. “But for obvious and good reasons, we don’t talk about operations of that agency.”

The shadow immigration minister, Richard Marles, has written to federal auditor general Grant Hehir to ask if public money was used appropriately.

“I ask you to urgently investigate these concerning circumstances, including if any payments to people smugglers or their agents were made, and if so, the nature of how or whether it was properly authorised,” he said in the letter.

Marles told ABC TV that “the auditor general is precisely the right person to investigate the propriety of any government expenditure and whether or not the proper processes were gone through in respect of any government expenditure”.

Social services minister Scott Morrison, who had the immigration portfolio until December last year, told reporters in Canberra the government was “keeping faith” with voters by keeping its promise to stop the boats.

He dismissed concerns that law enforcement agencies acted illegally.  “I have every confidence that officers working as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, based on my own experience of them, is that they have always and will always operate lawfully,” Morrison said.


US shows faith in Australian shipbuilders

The Austal-designed USS Jackson in Mobile, Alabama

Australian shipbuilder Andrew Bellamy says Australia should be able to build its own warships and rejects the view that they ­inevitably will be late and cost too much. He should know.

In Mobile, Alabama, over the weekend, he witnessed the “christening” of the latest of 10 combat ships his company, Austal, is building for the US Navy.

About 15 per cent of the vessels in the 300-ship US fleet will be made by the West Australian company that started life three decades ago building crayfishing boats.

While Australia’s shipbuilding industry struggles with delays, cost overruns and uncertainty about its future, Austal is a success story that has sailed largely under the radar.

It employs more that 4000 people in the US, about 500 in Perth and 200 in The Philippines. It has contracts worth more than $5 billion to build 21 vessels for the US Navy — 10 littoral combat ships and 11 joint high-speed vessels — at its US yard. That number is ­expected to increase.

Mr Bellamy, Austal’s chief executive, told The Australian he would consider buying the troubled shipbuilder ASC from the government and promoting Austal as a possible partner for a foreign designer and builder if some or all of the navy’s new ­submarines were to be built in Australia.

The struggling Air Warfare Destroyer program was rightly ­receiving a lot of attention. “But we don’t believe the issues in that program lie in the workforce,” he said. “We fundamentally believe that skilled Australian labour building ships in the right infrastructure, and management and incentives, can be as productive as anywhere else in the world.”

Shipbuilding had to be seen as a strategic industry for the nation, he said.

The latest Australian-designed littoral combat ship to be comp­leted by Austal at its US plant was formally named the USS ­Gabrielle Giffords after the congresswoman who survived being shot in the head by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011.

The USS Gabriel Giffords is a sleek, futuristic and predatory-looking warship, 127m long and capable of well over 40 knots.

Ms Giffords, who is still recovering from her wounds, told those gathered for the launch that the new ship was wonderful. She thanked Austal and its staff.  “She’s stealthy,” Ms Giffords said. “She will defend freedom around the world. Go navy!”

Captain Mark Kelly, Ms Giffords’s husband and a former astronaut, said the vessel represented the ships of the future and he was not surprised it was designed in Australia.

“Australia makes great stuff,’’ he said. “Australia’s an ­innovative country and we don’t mind at all. We’ll find who’s making the best ship and we’ll go and buy it.”

Assistant Navy Secretary Dennis McGinn said the ships were so versatile the US Navy considered them its Swiss Army knife. The first of the ships was already deployed with the US fleet. “It just gets better and better,’’ he said.

Littoral combat ships are fast warships which can operate anywhere in the world and carry enough firepower to defend themselves in hostile waters.

Wide, stable and roomy, the tri-hulled vessels are built from aluminium, which makes them much lighter than steel-hulled ships. It also means they require less fuel and have a range of 3500 nautical miles.

Austal is the only foreign company building warships for the US. Through its American subsidiary, Austal USA, Austal is playing a key role in an emerging US naval strategy to ensure the flow of ­global trade by protecting “choke points’’.

The US priority is to keep open narrow stretches of ocean such as the Strait of Gibraltar, the Pan­ama Canal, the Red Sea, the Strait of Hormuz, Malacca Strait and the South China Sea to ensure shipping can run smoothly.

To do that the US aims to ­deploy a large number of cost-­effective warships to those locations. As part of that strategy, the US Navy may opt to base a littoral combat ship, designed to operate close to shore, at a strategic port such as Singapore and fly the crew there to man it. That puts more ships where they are needed more of the time.

On the issue of the Australian shipbuilding industry, Mr Bell­amy said he fundamentally disagreed “with the point that says you have to pay a 30 or 40 per cent premium to manufacture in Australia”.

“The cop-out in all of this is that people think we can’t manufacture productively in Australia, and it’s not true,’’ he said. “The problem is not the Australian workforce or the skill set or the ­designer, because we have ­exported 250 ships out of Perth, so it can be done.”

A lack of focus on exports was part of the problem, along with an expectation that facilities would be filled by the government. That created the wrong culture, Mr Bellamy said.

Austal was building ships in Australia and the US for the same cost. “We are equally competitive in both markets,’’ he said. ­

“Because we are exporting that high-speed vessel built in Australia to the Middle East against international competition we can be pretty confident that not only are we competitive in the US but we are also competitive internationally.

“If we don’t mobilise industry and start to look outside the country, that will be the inevitable conclusion. When we came to America we did not know how to build frigates for the US Navy but we are now building frigates for the US Navy.”

Mr Bellamy said he had ­spoken to government ministers about ways to get the industry back on track.  “We are actively engaged with the Australian government, and with Defence in particular, and we are trying to provide some thought leadership on what the industry needs and what the ­industry should look like.”

In its plant at Henderson in Perth’s south, Austal is building a $330 million fleet of eight Cape-class patrol boats for Australia’s Customs and Border Protection Service.  To date, six of those boats have been delivered, on time and on budget.

It is also building in Australia two high-speed support vessels for the Royal Navy of Oman and two large, high-speed catamaran ferries.

Austal also hopes to build warships for Saudi Arabia, which is prepared to spend between $15 billion and $30bn. “There’s a great opportunity for Australia to build those ships in conjunction with the Saudi Arabian government,” Mr Bellamy said.  The ships could be built in Perth and Adelaide, or in Perth and the US.

“It’s too easy to fall into the trap that we can’t do this in Australia and export it,” he said.

Australia’s ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley, said Australia had been very supportive of the US bolstering its presence in Southeast Asian waters.  “These are the vessels with which they are enhancing their presence,” he said.

“So these ships, produced to an Australian design by an Australian company, are a focal point of the American rebalance.”



Coal seam gas: How left-wing groups are closing Australia to business

The latest blow to the economic wellbeing of the nation and future generations is the proposal by some members of the NSW National Party to buckle before Green extremists and oppose coal seam gas mining in the Northern Rivers region as outlined before the State election.

Without any exaggeration, the growth of CSG as an energy source has been an international game changer, reducing the dependence of Western nations on Arab and Russian energy supplies and subservience to the oligarchs who run the petroleum cartel.

Locking up our own gas reserves and artificially forcing a reliance on imports is a no-brainer, but then no-one ever accused the Green lobby of being either smart or putting the interests of the nation before its international agenda to end fossil fuel consumption.

The Nationals, having lost their formerly safe Northern Rivers seat of Ballina to the Greens at the March election have been spooked but a blanket ban on CSG in any area hits at investment security across the nation as surely as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew’s decision to tear up the contracts for Melbourne’s $6.8 billion East West Link.

The decision by NSW Nationals leader and deputy Premier Troy Grant may have something to do with the shrill anti-CSG campaign mounted on the Leftist anti-social media networks but the Nats have traditionally shown more backbone.

NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee, said expressed alarm at the move yesterday.

“Calls for an end to CSG drilling in the Northern Rivers region are concerning,” he said, “because the chief proponents are the anti-mining Greens who have used fear and misinformation to whip up community uncertainty about CSG in order to generate opposition to mining more generally. The Greens agenda to end the NSW resources industry would result in tens of thousands of job losses, devastate regional communities, and put NSW into recession.

“With the right policy settings, the resources sector can continue to underpin the strength of the NSW economy for many decades to come. The International Energy Agency predicts that global electricity demand could double by 2035 and that coal is likely to fuel more of that supply than either oil or gas for the foreseeable future. This is because coal is superabundant, easy and safe to move, and it is cheap compared to other energy options.”

The activists have as usual relied heavily on hysteria generated by the anti-fracking lobby in the US and falsehoods peddled in emotional pseudo-docos like the recently produced Frackman, which was hyped by the taxpayer-funded ABC and funded with the assistance of the Australian taxpayer.

Naturally, it made no mention of the fact that fracking has been practised widely in the US and Canada since 1947 and in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland without incident since the late 1960s.

Just last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency released a draft assessment of a study on fracking which concluded that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources”.

Thomas A. Burke, the EPA’s science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, acknowledging that potential water vulnerabilities exist said the study was intended to help identify those vulnerabilities so the nation could take measures to reduce risks and better protect its water.

The evidence gathered by five-year, multi-million dollar study underscored the reality that in the US, fracking is being conducted safely under the environmental stewardship of state regulators and industry best practices.

The EPA, following a congressional request, studied all aspects of the use of water in fracking, from the acquisition of the water, chemical mixing at the well, injection of fracturing fluids, the collection of fracturing wastewater, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

There is no reason why Australian environmental regulators and CSG operators could not follow the same practises and permit ordinary Australians to enjoy the economic benefits of a thriving CSG industry.

The Australian public has been lured down a very dangerous path the koala-suited extremists.

Renewable energy is not the answer for this nation.

Solar, windpower, even hydro, are inherently unreliable. There are cloudy days, there are windless days and there are droughts. Those are the facts the Greens will not face.

We have an abundance of coal, a cheap source of energy, and we have gas. The Greens are opposed to the use of both forms of fuel – and, of course, they hate uranium, which is probably the best long-term fuel available and again, a mineral which is found here in copious quantities.

Thanks to the Greens and Labor, taxpayers are still being slugged billions to keep the renewable energy sector afloat through generous subsidies, most of which are sent to offshore manufacturers.

On a cost-basis, the renewable energy alternatives just don’t stack up.

The Nationals haven’t helped by caving in to the apocalyptic Greens on CSG.


The Australian Defence Force – What A Mess

A Dithering Assistant Minister, Questionable Decisions & A Hostile Muslim Imam for the ADF

After the Iraq war and the war on terror in Afghanistan one would think that our ADF and defence organisation had possibly learned a thing or two, but they apparently learned nothing at all.

Australia does not have one politician, defence bureaucrat or past or present military leader that can convincingly articulate a credible strategy for dealing with the runaway locomotive that is ISIS in the Middle East.

Retired former chief of the Army, Peter Leahy says that sending Australian troops into battle with the Iraqis is not the answer. The now Professor Leahy, who has taken up a position as head of strategic studies at the University of Canberra, says we should only provide non-combat elements such as logistics training. This opinion appears to ignore that fact that the Iraqis don’t seem to have the stomach for a fight and recently ran from the enemy gifting them some $1.5 billion worth of military hardware.

On the other side of the coin we have former Major-General Jim Molan, who appears to have the ear of government, saying that we should be sending our troops into battle with the Iraqis in an effort to give them confidence and stop them running away from the fight.

Then there is the real fly in the ointment that is actually causing more angst. That fly is Barrack Obama’s ‘Rules of Engagement’ that make it almost impossible to conduct any form of effective counter to ISIS. For instance, during the Iraq war there were approximately 250 air strikes per day against enemy positions as opposed to only about 10 per day against ISIS because of Obama’s interference. What is the point of sending our ADF personnel to Iraq if they are to be hampered by the ridiculous rules of engagement that actually prevent any meaningful attempts to engage and defeat the enemy?

On top of that there is absolutely nothing constructive or meaningful coming from the dithering Assistant Minister for Defence, Stuart Robert, or the Department of Defence bureaucrats. It seems that they are more concerned with the political correctness of turning the ADF into an diverse, inclusive, tolerant, multicultural love in.

Theirs is a parallel universe where military law is set aside to allow homosexual servicemen and women to march in a divisive political homosexual Mardi Gras, where homosexuals are permitted to disrespect military insignia by including it on the so-called ‘rainbow’ jewellery that proclaims their perverse sexual preferences and where male military personnel are allowed to run around in women’s clothing and insist on being called by their chosen females names.

In the ADF world that these divisive people are attempting to build, white Anglo-Australian males who have done Australia proud on the battlefields for over 100 years are shunned in favour of having homosexuals, male transsexuals in women’s dresses and Muslims as our front line troops. So much for those claims of ‘inclusion’ and ‘tolerance’. We hear from the Assistant Minister for Defence that such an ADF will be infinitely better placed to engage the enemy. Really? What are they going to do, scare them into submission by waving their rainbow underpants at them?

One has to really wonder at the intelligence and competence of Stuart Robert, who was labelled The Minister For Stupidity by Bernard Gaynor, after his announcement that he has appointed a Muslim Imam to the ADF ‘s Religious Advisory Committee To The Services. He didn’t appoint just any old Islamic Imam. Oh no, he appointed Mohamadu Nawaz Saleem who supports and is an advocate for radical Islamic sympathiser and possible terrorist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir.

For those not familiar with Hizb ut-Tahrir, that is the Islamic organisation that was a short time ago demanding that an Islamic army be formed in Australia to impose Sharia law upon all Australians. This group displayed more of its dangerous ratbaggery when a spokesman, Urhman Badar wanted to use the Sydney Opera House as a stage to promote the concept of ‘Honour Killings’. In addition to this Badar called for Pakistan to use its nuclear capability to impose a new Islamic Caliphate over this region. There is much more that could be said about Hizb ut-Tahrir but it is suffice to say that an Imam who defends the actions of this and similar groups is a danger and should not be let anywhere near the ADF.

As highlighted by Bernard Gaynor, the appointment of this particular Imam, or any Imam for that matter, to cater for less than 100 Muslims in the ADF is ludicrous when taking into account that there are more military aged Muslims who have departed Australia to join the ranks of ISIS fighting against Australia than there are joining the ADF to defend Australia and there is no guarantee of the continuing loyalty of those Muslims who do join the ADF.

It doesn’t stop there with Imam Mohamadu Nawaz Saleem. The Australian National Imam’s Council recommended this bloke for the appointment and Stuart Robert went along with it. They are the same group that were up in arms about the government proposing laws to prevent Islamic organisation and individuals from advocating terrorism. They screamed about the restrictions to their freedom of speech. This Islamic group also criticised the Abbott government for using the ADF to assist Kurdish fighters fighting against the ISIS. One has to ask, just what side are they on? Silly question really, because they will never be on the side of Australia until it becomes Australiastan.

To top it off, this is the Imam who will advise the Department of Defence on how to recruit even more Muslims into the ADF. How can our government be part of this madness that is playing right into the hands of an unpredictable Islam that is incompatible with everything that is Australia.


15 June, 2015

Australia, Japan still optimistic amid TPP setback

Any lowering of tariff barriers is to be welcomed.  The difficulty is that few Republicans trust Obama to play an honest game.  He has too often said one thing and done another.  And he has taken every opportunity to do an end-run around Congress.

Key US trade partners said Saturday they were still optimistic about reaching a deal to lower Pacific Rim trade barriers, but acknowledged that a setback in Washington made the already tight schedule even more challenging.

Japan’s Economy Minister Akira Amari, speaking to reporters in Tokyo, said there was no need to be overly pessimistic. “We are looking for the House to work toward prompt passage” of legislation granting President Barack Obama broad negotiating authority, he said.

His comments followed a vote in the US House of Representatives on Friday against a program to assist workers displaced by trade. That legislation was linked to a measure that would let the president negotiate a complete trade agreement, then present it to Congress for a vote without amendments, which is seen as a necessary prerequisite for approval.

Though the House voted in favour of the second measure, both parts of the bill need to be approved for the legislation to advance. The White House said it still hoped to get the legislation through Congress.

U.S. trade partners involved in the talks have been hoping to wrap up the trade deal this summer in order for it to be approved by Congress this year, before the presidential election campaign heats up next year.

Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb said Saturday he remained optimistic of a breakthrough on the TPP, despite the political setback in Congress and the blow to momentum for a comprehensive deal.

“There is always a lot of cut and thrust in these things and politics being played,” Mr. Robb told The Wall Street Journal. “There is another opportunity next week to get the ducks lined up. But second guessing the United States is always difficult.”

Mr. Robb has come under fire at home over benefits a concluded TPP may bring, with criticism from farm groups that it may not do enough to lower US tariff barriers and quotas on Australian beef and sugar. On Saturday he said the deal would translate into more jobs, growth and living standards for Australians, including the country’s politically influential farmers.

“The TPP brings the promise of enormous benefits, new levels of market access, a more seamless trading environment across countries represent 49% of the world’s GDP and lower costs for businesses,” Mr. Robb said.

In Tokyo, Mr. Amari said Friday’s setback made an early ministerial meeting of the 12 countries engaged in the talks unlikely. The TPP countries were hoping to hold such a meeting to strike a deal as early as this month. Now such a meeting would have to wait till next month at the earliest.

If the House doesn’t reverse course, “the trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will be put into limbo for an indefinite period of time,” wrote Richard Katz, publisher of the Oriental Economist report, after Friday’s setback for Mr. Obama.

Opponents to the TPP in Japan, including farm groups and politicians representing agricultural districts, have been hoping for just such a scenario.

Japan is believed to have agreed to eliminate most of its tariffs for pork, even though the discussions are kept secret. The Japan Pork Producers Association says the reported deal is “totally unacceptable,” and warns that such a deal “would wipe out domestic pork producers.”

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak has invested significant political capital in the TPP, and the proposed deal is at the centre of an improving relationship with the US

“This setback will rub off negatively onto the bilateral relations between Malaysia and the US,” said Tang Siew Mun, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.


China's growing thirst for dairy heralds golden era for Australian farmers, analysts say

Australia's dairy industry is on the cusp of a golden era of prosperity, financial analysts say, and the much-talked-about boom to supply dairy products to China is well underway.

Some experts even contend that this new "dining boom" will rival Australia's recent mining boom.

A tally of investments makes for impressive reading.  In the past two years, Australian dairy companies have spent or plan to spend more than $1.5 billion building new or upgrading existing dairy factories.

The bulk of the money is aimed at production for the export market — Asia in general, China in particular.

"The opportunity to feed Asia is an enormous one for the Australian agricultural industry and dairy in particular is one of these sectors that has got great potential," analyst Michael Harvey of Rabobank said.

The global rate of growth for dairy foods is about 2 per cent per year, but in Asia it is much faster.

"The challenge there for [the Asian market]," Mr Harvey said, "is they can't produce enough milk themselves, so they do need to import products and that's where Australia, sitting on the doorstep of these markets, has the opportunity."

FTA may lead to baby formula boom

Australia's free trade agreement with China is expected to be in place for the dairy industry by year's end and the deal will make Australian exports far more affordable.

During the next decade China will scrap import tariffs — some as high as 19 per cent — on everything from milk powder to yoghurt, fresh milk and cheese.

Without doubt the brightest star in dairy's constellation is baby formula.  The industry calls it "paediatric nutrition", a term that covers everything aimed at feeding China's burgeoning infant population.

The world's most populous nation has seen a baby boom since the relaxation of the one child policy and demand for milk-related products is skyrocketing.

"At the moment this year, it's around an $18 billion infant formula market in China," Judith Swales, Australian managing director of Fonterra, the world's largest dairy processor, said.  "By 2018, that'll be around $33 billion.

"So you look and say not only is the growth absolutely huge but it's the quality of the growth that is also giving people the confidence to invest, and that's not just the processors but also the farmers," Ms Swales said.

Trans-Tasman company ups stake in Chinese market

Fonterra is a farmer-owned New Zealand co-operative that owns and operates 10 factories in Australia.

More than 2 million tonnes of dairy products roll off the trans-Tasman multinational's production lines annually to markets in more than 100 countries, but the company's recent joint venture with China is the jewel in the crown.

"We've invested $NZ740 million to buy an 18.8 per cent stake in Beingmate, the largest infant formula player in the Chinese market with around a 10 per cent share," Ms Swales said.

"So that gives us part of their business and it gives us access to their sales engine.

"That'll include access to 80,000 points of sale that they have, 1,000 stores that they own, and 20,000 maternal advisers, advising Chinese mothers how to feed their babies."

Such joint ventures are becoming more common.

"As well as providing the industry here with access to markets through marketing and distribution capabilities, you're also getting the expertise coming from the Asian economy back into this region, plus capital to build the new facilities," Mr Harvey said.

Even more vital is the assurance that Australian dairy products comply with the highest possible food safety standards.

In 2008, in what became known as the Chinese milk scandal, infant formula and milk was adulterated with melamine, a toxic compound that made products appear to have a higher protein content.

At least six babies died and there were reports of 300,000 victims having consumed the tainted formula.

"It sparked a revolution in China for the consumer to become far more discerning," Steve Spencer, a Melbourne-based dairy analyst, said.  "And therefore the Government is far more discerning about how they source product.

"Scandals from time to time in that market help because they generate strong interest from consumers who can afford to pay higher prices for imported product."

Australian must boost milk production: analyst

Some Australian fresh milk has been selling in China for more than $9 a litre, but Australia's major dairy companies believe China's increasing affluence and Westernisation will see products such as cheese and yoghurt also grow as valuable exports.

But to meet this voracious demand, Mr Harvey says Australia's dairy industry must rapidly grow its annual milk production, which currently stands at about 9.4 billion litres.

And he warns that dairy companies from around the world are also vying for a stake in China's dairy market.

"So they're all making investments to get access to that market and to get product into that market," Mr Harvey said.

"So China and Asia won't be the silver bullet unless we actually get growth in milk supply here in Australia."


Victoria's quest to be the Education State

The Victorian government is on a quest to be the 'education state'. Two discussion papers were released this week to generate community interest and feedback. The discussion paper on schools is not lengthy but it is revealing.

It reiterates the Victorian government's decision not to commit to the full term of the six year funding agreement signed with the previous Labor federal government - the so-called 'Gonski' funding package. Only the four years to 2017 will be funded; a new funding model is being developed for 2018 and beyond. While this decision has attracted criticism from the NSW education minister and some of the members of the Gonski review committee, there are good reasons for it. First among them is the recognition that committing future governments to a very large increase in the school education budget is not defensible. In addition, the existing model can be improved, so locking it in for six years would be inadvisable. Funding for disadvantaged and struggling students can and should be targeted more effectively.

Importantly, the document also reveals the Victorian government's commitment to autonomy and choice in schools. Its case studies demonstrate what can be achieved when schools have flexibility to use their resources to maximise educational impact ­­­- for example, electing to have slightly larger class sizes to free teachers for mentoring and feedback. It speaks of striving for excellence in all schools, 'ensuring that all schools are schools of choice'. Teaching is rightly a focus in the document, but perhaps the most glaring omission is the lack of attention to principals and school leadership.

Federal systems of government are often frustrating, but they are also useful. States can be like 'policy laboratories' - if they are successful, other states can replicate their reforms. If they fail, only one state is affected rather than the whole country. The Victorian government's approach to school education is in many respects quite different to that in other states and territories. No state has it entirely right, but there is a lot to like about Victoria's approach.


Citizenship and the rule of law

 The hideous 30 Years War in the 17th century ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648; a treaty that, despite some lack of  clarity, established the notion of 'nation' as an entity with complete 'sovereignty' or control within its borders, and composed of 'citizens' owing allegiance to that entity.

The jihadist movement and terrorism are now forcing the federal government to wrestle with questions of citizenship, the rule of law, and the meaning of national sovereignty in a world becoming ever more tightly integrated through technology, trade, immigration (both legal and illegal), and the claims to authority of the United Nations and international law.

That's the background. The immediate - and pressing - issue is the integrity of Australian citizenship and its protection by domestic law.

There is little doubt that past immigration arrangements have been careless about the value and integrity of Australian citizenship; an issue raised many years ago by our most distinguished historian, Geoffrey Blainey, and savagely dismissed by the bien pensants. We have made citizens of some who hate us and who now kill wantonly here and overseas as Australians. This shames us all and it is clear that we must take more care in the future.

As for the present, there is no serious argument against the view that such people should be stripped of the citizenship they have mocked, despoiled and betrayed. But how should this be done?

It seems the government wants to manipulate a distinction between those who have sole Australian citizenship and those who have dual citizenship. But that is a secondary issue. Surely nothing could be done until either sole or dual citizens have been shown to have betrayed their citizenship by the conduct at issue? If the rule of law is to be upheld, guilt has first to be established for both types of citizen before any form of punishment or dismissal can be effected.

Although proving guilt may be difficult, that difficulty should not be finessed away by abandoning the rule of lawand leaving judgment of guilt in the hands of a federal minister.


14 June, 2015

Were asylum seeker boats paid to turn back?

Britain pays illegal immigrants to return.  It's cheaper than keeping them in detention

Were boats paid to turn back? Tony Abbott refused to deny the practice of paying people smugglers to turn back asylum seeker boats. Picture: Lawrence Pinder Source: News Corp Australia
The Indonesian government has asked the Abbott government to deny or confirm that Australian Customs had paid people smugglers to do a U-turn.

Earlier Labor opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s refusal to deny the practice had occurred had left the door wide open to the idea the government was handing wads of taxpayers’ cash to smugglers.

Meanwhile, the Greens will try to force the government to hand over documents showing whether cash is paid to people smugglers to turn back boats.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Jakarta today her country would be “really concerned” if it was confirmed that the captain and five crew of a boat carrying asylum-seekers were each paid $US5000 ($6500) by an Australian immigration official to return to the Southeast Asian nation.

The claims were made to local police on Rote island in eastern Indonesia, where the boat carrying 65 asylum-seekers came ashore late May after being intercepted by the Australian Navy.

Ms Marsudi said that she had raised the issue on the sidelines of a conference in Jakarta with Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Grigson.

“I just asked him ‘What is it about, tell me, what is it?’,” she told reporters at the event.

“He promised to take my question, my inquiry, to Canberra and he promised to get back to me again.

“We are really concerned if it is confirmed,” she said.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir also said Jakarta was seeking clarification from Australia on the issue.

“We have consistently said that the Australian government’s push-back policy is on a slippery slope,” he told AFP, referring to the Abbott government’s hard-line policy of turning back asylum boats when it is safe to do so.

“If this latest incident is confirmed, this will be a new low for the way that the Australian government is handling this issue.”

The escalating row risks further damaging relations between Australia and its northern neighbour, which are already tense after Indonesia executed two Australian drug smugglers by firing squad in April.

Indonesian authorities have launched an investigation into the alleged payments to the crew of the boat carrying asylum-seekers from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, which was intercepted en route to New Zealand.

Only one boat with asylum-seekers has reached the Australian mainland since December 2013. Before the Abbott government’s hard line policy was introduced, boats were arriving almost daily with hundreds of people drowning en route.

In Melbourne today, Mr Marles said: “Really it leaves one with the only possible assumption that that may well have been exactly what happened.

The Greens will on Monday try to win Senate support for a motion requesting the government table documents detailing any payments to individuals on board asylum seeker boats, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to deny the practice.

The government has repeatedly stated it won’t discuss or publicly release information on operational matters.

Its policy includes military-led efforts to turn back such boats, which mostly come from Indonesia, and sending asylum-seekers to camps on the Pacific island outpost of Nauru and Papua New Guinea for resettlement despite strong criticism from human rights groups.

Australia has also signed a deal with impoverished Cambodia to accept unwanted refugees in return for millions of dollars in aid over the next four years.

Background: Were crews paid to turn back?

Australian authorities could be accused of people smuggling if it is proven they paid the crew of an asylum-seeker boat to return to Indonesia, an international law expert says.

On Friday, claims surfaced that the navy paid six crew members of a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers $US5000 ($A6450) each to return to Indonesian waters.

The claim was rejected by two senior government ministers.

Professor of international law at the Australian National University, Don Rothwell, says if proven the activity could be tantamount to people smuggling under current regional protocols.

“People smuggling is defined with the protocol and to that end the provision of moneys to people who are engaged in people-smuggling activities to take persons from a place on the high seas to another place, such as Indonesia, is clearly a people smuggling-type activity,” he told the ABC.

He said the claims also raised questions because Australia was a party to the 2000 protocol to disrupt people smuggling.

Prof Rothwell said a lot would depend on how Australia’s regional partners responded to the allegations.

The Indonesian government appeared to be taking them seriously, he said.

“We’ll no doubt hear from Indonesia in the future about this.” Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not deny the allegations in a radio interview but he did say officials were being “incredibly creative” in following Australia’s policy to turn back the boats. “What we do is stop the boats by hook or by crook,” Mr Abbott said.

“We have stopped the trade and we will do what we have to do to ensure that it stays stopped.” He repeatedly declined to confirm whether Australia was investigating the claims.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the allegation was not an accurate reflection of what was happening.

“The prime minister has essentially stuck to his very longstanding practice of not to provide a running commentary on operational matters,” he told Sky News on Saturday.

“He didn’t confirm or deny, he didn’t make comment one way or the other. He certainly didn’t indicate that payments have been made.”


Why Australia's economic growth matters for all Australians

The recent national accounts figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have sparked a debate, and a welcome one at that, about the appropriateness of national economic growth rates.

The ABS data showed real gross domestic product in seasonally adjusted terms rose by 0.9 per cent during the March quarter of this year, and by 0.6 per cent in trend terms.

The key contributor to this outcome was our export performance, with the seasonally adjusted value of goods and services exports rising 5 per cent during the quarter, representing the best quarterly export growth in about 16 years.

It is certainly true that the overall GDP quarterly result surprised many economic analysts and business commentators, with some pre-emptively suggesting in media circles that a recession is on the cards.

The stronger than expected economic performance led Treasurer Joe Hockey to refer to the latest statistics as a "terrific set of numbers", derisively referring to the doomsayers as "clowns" who have "been proven to be looking foolish".

It might be difficult for the general public to become too animated about economic growth trends, and movements in quarterly figures are subject to high variability in any case, but thinking and talking about growth is much more than a wonkish debate between economists and politicians.

Indeed, every Australian regardless of their background, occupation, or political affiliation, has a deep stake in economic growth and we should all desire stronger growth rates in our economy, especially in the areas of private investment and international trade.

We all should desire stronger growth because that translates into better living standards over time, meaning more abundant food, clothing, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and other goods and services helping to improve our quality of life.

We should desire stronger growth because we care about the poor and their desire for enrichment, and this necessitates a growing economy with more ample and cheaper supplies to live comfortably as well as better opportunities to access meaningful, highly-paying work.

Stronger growth means we don't fray the fabric of our democratic political system and robust civil society by getting caught up in zero-sum distributional fights with each other, since there would be more income and wealth to share around for all those who want them.

We also want stronger growth because we want a greater abundance of resources to help protect the environment, including the economic means to generate more scientific knowledge and innovation addressing the great ecological problems of our time.

Although fiscal and regulatory interventions by the public sector invariably do more harm to growth than good, even governments want stronger growth, not least because their electoral credibility depends on their meeting budget targets reliant upon a faster rate of GDP growth.

Eyebrows were certainly raised last month when the federal government outlined a fast track for deficit reduction by assuming not a can opener, as economists are wont to do when they want a feel-good message, but stronger real growth from 2.5 per cent last financial year up to 3.25 per cent during 2016-17.

For its part the ACT government is also forecasting the Territory budget deficit will decline, and in fact even return to surplus by the end of the forward estimates, on the back of an "achieve budget repair by assuming growth" trick.

Politicians might look upon those who prognosticate about economic doom and gloom with contempt and disdain, but the fact is that the Australian economy, as reflected in our underwhelming economic growth rate, has been underperforming for far too long.

Over the past 50 years, real GDP in Australia has grown at a rate of about 3.5 per cent a year, and so this provides something of a threshold rate of growth which should ideally be attained if Australians are to enjoy prosperous circumstances on a sustained basis.

Using the well-known "rule of 70" in economics, which indicates how long it would take for an economy to double its size, if we were to sustain a 3.5 per cent real growth rate into the future it would take about 20 years for the Australian economy to double in size.

Right now the annual GDP growth rate is about 2.3 per cent, and this implies it would take the Australian economy roughly 30 years to double in size, in other words adding another whole decade for that compounded outcome to be achieved.

Growth rates in an economy will be affected by a wide range of factors, including external developments such as the shifting patterns of production and consumption in our export markets, many of which cannot be influenced by governments.

But if there are domestic policies inhibiting GDP growth it is not reasonable to maintain them, especially on account of sectional political interests, if it means Australians are deprived of even better living standards for longer.

Other statistics released by the ABS showing flagging labour productivity growth, and a national income crunch as commodity prices recede, giving further credence to the notion that Australia is vastly underperforming its economic potential.

So, what the economic statistics illustrate quite clearly is that we need to "go for growth", and we cannot rely exclusively upon China and the rest of the world for growth to be bolstered.

The economic freedom empirical literature compellingly illustrates that policies oriented toward relaxing constraints upon market activities, such as a lighter tax load, and labour and product market deregulatory measures, are a sound way to bring about a return to growth.

A return to growth will also be shaped by what policymakers do not do.

There are certainly numerous Australian policy pundits calling for redistribution policies to suppress inequalities, but these ideas should be looked upon most sceptically.

This is because various proposals to redistribute income, such as steeply progressive taxes, will harm growth by sapping economic incentives to better serve customers, here and abroad, and not to mention inhibiting upward mobility by the poor.

But with the lingering effects of the global financial crisis still with us almost a decade on, remaining in our reform slumber simply cannot be a viable option for economic improvement.


Son fined $369 for driving through a red light as he followed his father’s hearse in funeral procession

Tannous is an Arab surname so it seems that we have here another Muslim who thinks that he is entitled to special treatment

A grieving son is outraged his car was fined during a funeral procession as he drove at a speed of 15km/h behind his father’s hearse.

Melbourne man Assad Tannous has challenged the $369 fine for driving through a red light due to the ‘principle’ of the matter; appealing to Victoria Police to wave the fee given the ‘special circumstances’.

'Civic compliance stated Tenille (the driver) was a danger to the public. We were driving at 15km/h and every driver could see it was a funeral procession,' Mr Tannous told Daily Mail Australia.

'It's not about the fine. The people that make these decisions need to show some compassion.'

He maintains the light was orange when they entered the intersection, according to the Herald Sun. 

Mr Tannous’ girlfriend Tennille Waddelle was driving the vehicle in Yarraville in West Melbourne on January 28 - the third car in the funeral procession for the late Adam Tannous.

Ms Waddelle allegedly entered the intersection of Somerville and Geelong roads ‘when the lights were green, turning orange’, Mr Tannous told the Herald Sun.

However, Victoria Police spokeswoman Sarah-Jane Hooper said the incident was reviewed by the Traffic Camera Office.  Footage determined the driver entered the intersection ‘after activation of the red signal’.

Victoria police also deemed the incident a ‘serious safety related matter’.


This Queensland mum knew her baby was ill so invoked Ryan’s Rule

A traumatised Gold Coast mum has opened up about her recent experience at a Queensland hospital, that saw her and very sick 10-month old daughter, Arabella, being sent home a total of EIGHT times before anyone took her concerns seriously.

Trust a mother’s intuition

Lili Curtis visited Gold Coast University Hospital eight times over the course of 17 days, each time desperate to get the medical attention she believed her daughter needed. And each time she was turned away because Arabella was apparently not sick enough to be there. But on her final visit, Lili’s gut instinct took control.

She knew, as all mother’s do, that something was very wrong with her daughter and she refused to take no for an answer. Lili exercised her right to invoke Ryan’s Rule, a Queensland-only health protocol that allows people who do not think their health concerns are being taken seriously enough to call upon extra help.

It was a decision that ultimately got to the bottom of little Arabella’s troubles. After the head of paediatrics was called in to review Arabella’s case, she was diagnosed with a form of bronchitis and treated with a long course of antibiotics. At a follow-up appointment, Arabella was referred to a lung specialist in Brisbane, as her moist cough had been dragging on for more than four weeks and was showing no signs of clearing.

It was only thanks to Ryan’s Rule that Lili was able to take matters into her own hands. Without this protocol, who knows what the outcome would have been for this little bub. Arabella is one of the lucky ones - unlike toddler Ryan Saunders, the brave little soul whose tragic story paved the way for the implementation of this protocol that honours a parent’s indepth knowledge of their own children.

The story behind Ryan’s Rule is a sad one

Before Ryan Saunders got sick, he was just an ordinary Central Queensland kid. But in 2007, when he was incorrectly diagnosed with mumps at Emerald Hospital, things deteriorated before his heartbroken parents knew what hit them.

When Ryan’s conditions worsened he was transferred to Rockhampton Base Hospital, to try and find out the root of his pain. Doctors did not discover that little Ryan had a serious bacterial infection for another 24 hours, and treated him solely with regular doses of Panadol.

On 26 September 2007, 30 hours after being admitted to the hospital in Rockhampton, little Ryan died as a result of toxic shock, leaving his parents and his hometown of Emerald in a state of utter despair and disbelief.

Some four years later in 2011, the then-state coroner, Michael Barnes, handed down his findings on the case. This is how The Courier Mail reported on the judgement:

In his coronial inquest findings delivered today, Mr Barnes said director of paediatrics at Rockhampton Base Hospital, Dr Peter Roper “repeatedly made a serious error of judgment” when he declined to conduct blood tests, despite being urged by a number of junior doctors to do so.

“When a CRP test was finally done it demonstrated a highly infective process was underway but by that stage Ryan could not be saved,” Mr Barnes said in his findings.

“The evidence indicates that, had the same test been done the night before or immediately after the ward round, the outcome may have been different.”

Even though the doctor in question was cleared of unsatisfactory professional conduct by the Medical Board of Queensland, Michael Barnes was still very critical of the quality of care that Ryan received. As a result, a complete review was ordered of Queensland Health procedures.

Ryan’s Rule was implemented across Queensland to ensure that there would be no more children turned away, misdiagnosed or left untreated. Ryan’s Rule is now a right that every parent across the state has.

On the Queensland Government Health website, Ryan’s Rule is explained as follows:

Ryan Saunders was nearly three years old when he tragically died in hospital. His death was found to be, in all likelihood, preventable. Staff did not know Ryan as well as his mum and dad knew him. When Ryan’s parents were worried he was getting worse they didn’t feel their concerns were acted upon in time. Ryan’s Rule has been developed to provide patients of any age, families and carers with another way to get help.

Ryan’s Rule will never bring little Ryan Saunders back. But we hope, with hands on our hearts, that Ryan’s parents know their little boy’s death brought about some radical change in Queensland hospitals, and we pray that other states will soon adopt this potentially lifesaving protocol too.


12 June, 2015

Conservative Australian PM wishes he could have further reduced wind power growth

Tony Abbott says the government has done its best to slow the growth of wind power, but has to continue subsidising the sector because of the Senate.

Describing wind turbines as “visually awful” and noisy, the Prime Minister said the government wanted to further reduce its support for the renewable sector.

“What we did recently in the Senate was ... we reduced the number of these things that we are going to get in the future,” he told 2GB radio.

“I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more, but we got the best deal we could out of the Senate, and if we hadn’t had a deal … we would have been stuck with even more of these things.”

Mr Abbott said he was aware of concerns raised about the potential health impact of wind turbines that are the subject of a Senate inquiry.

Yesterday, Liberal Democrats senator for NSW David Leyonhjelm compared the wind industry to big tobacco for brushing off concerns about the health impact on those living near turbines.

“It is ... well established that inappropriate levels of infrasound, regardless of the source, cause adverse health impacts,” Senator Leyonhjelm wrote in The Australian.

Mr Abbott said he accepted the argument.  “I do take your point about the potential health impact of these things; when I have been up close to these wind farms not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise,” he said.

Mr Abbott said the government had inherited the renewable energy target (RET) policy from the Howard government, which established the program in 2001 to encourage growth in renewable energy.

“Knowing what we know now, I don’t think we would have gone down this path in this way, but at the time we thought it was the right way forward,” Mr Abbott said.

“What we have managed to do, through this admittedly imperfect but better than the alternative deal with the Senate, is reduce the growth rate of this particular sector as much as the current senate would allow us to do.”

The Australian Wind Alliance said the comments exposed the government’s true intentions on the Renewable Energy Target.

“These comments are extraordinary. Our Prime Minister has just admitted to setting out deliberately to destroy a viable industry in Australia, one that could provide jobs to many Australians, investment to regional communities and new income to farmers,” national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said.


Liberals kiss farewell to PM Tony Abbott on homosexual marriage

A SLEEPING giant is rising within Coalition ranks. For some conservatives in the party room who have always supported Tony Abbott and helped secure him the leadership, the issue is a deal-breaker.

They are furious at what they see as an orchestrated campaign, with his blessing, to sneak a change to the Marriage Act through parliament.  “When I told my preselectors I believed in family values I meant it,” says one.  “It’s the most fundamental issue in the Liberal Party and for the parliamentary party to change it will cost us dearly.”

With numbers in the Coalition party room running more than two to one against changing the definition of marriage, some conservatives say they will withdraw their support from Abbott if he “doesn’t hold the line”. “If he takes us to a conscience vote he may as well pack his bags, (because) the damage is done,” says one.

They do not see a socially conservative prime minister who buries his convictions as a statesman devoted to democracy, but a traitor.

More sanguine marriage traditionalists are not so critical of Abbott, understanding it is a difficult issue for him to adjudicate, considering the strongly held views in the party.

But they, too, warn that MPs and senators aren’t just going to sit back and say ‘Yes sir’. “We will be more organised and connect more”, said one, “because it’s on”.

The appearance of assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg on the ABC’s Q & A last week, endorsing gay marriage and claiming it was “inevitable”, had a galvanising effect.

Frydenberg may have been surprised by the slapdown he received from colleagues.  He was told, publicly and privately, that he had stepped “way beyond” the mark.

For those around the PM, the imperative has been to make the issue go away, and with polls suggesting community support for same-sex marriage as high as 72 per cent, it seemed a no-brainer.

The plan was for the party room first to agree to a conscience vote on the issue, then to vote on whatever bipartisan bill comes up.

With the “marriage equality lobby” estimating they need just 14 extra votes in the lower house, a Liberal Party conscience vote becomes a proxy vote for gay marriage.

It is also a bob each way for MPs who want to keep their preselectors happy but don’t want to be targeted as moral troglodytes within polite society.

Alex Hawke, for instance, who represents one of the Liberal party’s most conservative seats, Mitchell, can push for a conscience vote while telling his constituents that he voted against same-sex marriage.

But he’s fooling no one. “As far as the party room is concerned, the issue of a conscience vote is irrelevant until there is a firm proposition of what any change to the Marriage Act would look like,” says one traditionalist.

Ironically enough, parallels are being drawn with the ETS battle in 2009 that catapulted Abbott to the Liberal Party leadership.

Back then, Malcolm Turnbull ignored his party room’s opposition to the Emissions Trading Scheme proposed by the Rudd government.

He decided that he knew better what was in the party’s best interests and lost the leadership by one vote.

If Abbott disappoints them on gay marriage, the hardliners in the party won’t be turning to Turnbull, who supports “marriage equality”, but to Social Service Minister Scott Morrison, who doesn’t.

Morrison has let it be known he doesn’t want to be the “poster boy” for traditional marriage, and has been urging calm behind the scenes.

But, in letters to constituents, he has firmly stated his position as: “supporting the current definition of marriage as a voluntary union for life of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. … For me this is ultimately about a child’s natural right to a mother and father … I believe my responsibility is to be faithful to the principles and convictions I hold on this matter.”

Morrison’s position is in tune with Liberal grassroots, especially in multicultural electorates where everyone from Hindus and Sikhs to Muslims, Copts, Maronites, Anglican Africans and Filipino Catholics oppose changing the definition of marriage.

Behind the scenes, the PM is being told the sense of inevitability and momentum on the issue is a “myth”. And he is being urged to hold a non-binding plebiscite so the Australian people can decide.

Just as was the case in the republic debate (another “inevitability” that did not come to pass) the result of any plebiscite would depend on the questions asked.

A number of options are being canvassed. “Do you support marriage equality” could be one.

“Do you support traditional marriage between a man and a woman” might be another.

Another could be the “French option” in which the Marriage Act is changed to a Civil Union Act, allowing the state to register a legal union between same-sex or heterosexual couples, leaving churches free to conduct marriages according to their own beliefs.

The point is that the debate on same sex-marriage has only just begun, and it is presumptuous for anyone to think there is only one option on the table which will be ushered through.

Everything from the status quo through civil union to the full monty should be considered. And, in the end, the Australian people should decide.


Religious leaders write to PM on homosexual marriage

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton has joined with 38 leaders of Christian and other religious groups in signing a letter to the Prime Minister urging him and the parliament to uphold the true meaning of marriage. Mr Shelton said such a demonstration of support from Australia's faith communities for man-woman marriage and the rights of children it protects was a welcome development in what has been largely a one-sided debate. "It is so important our nation does not sleep-walk into a legislative change to the definition of marriage without considering the consequences," Mr Shelton said.

The letter, signed by Catholic and Anglican Archbishops, as well as 36 heads of many other denominations including Pentecostal and orthodox churches,  senior rabbis from the Jewish community and leaders from both the Sunni and Shia Islamic communities, expresses 'grave concerns' regarding 'Bills that have or will be introduced into the Federal Parliament to change the definition of marriage in Australian law'. It says the definition of marriage in the current law (the Commonwealth Marriage Act of 1961), which describes it as “the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” reflects a truth deeply embedded across diverse communities, faiths and cultures.”

"To uphold marriage as the mutual love of a man and a woman, open to the gift of children, is not bigotry or prejudice. At many times throughout history, and sadly still today in some places, people with same-sex attraction have suffered injustice. This is to be deplored." the letter says. "We should do more to ensure that our brothers and sisters who are same-sex attracted are treated with the dignity and respect owed to every human being. But this does not require the further deconstruction of marriage as traditionally understood." The leaders say "Australia’s definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman is consistent with that of the vast majority of world nations, who represent over 91 per cent of the global population.”

“To date, only 21 of the 193 member states of the United Nations have changed their legal definition of marriage to incorporate same-sex unions. For the sake of children and to encourage men and women to commit to one another and to their offspring, marriage between a man and a woman has always been given the special recognition and support of the state." the leaders say. "Any adult person can love and care for a child. But, as a couple, two persons of the same sex are not able to provide a child with the experience of both mothering and fathering." The letter says overseas experience has shown redefining marriage will have consequences for everyone 'as the truth about marriage becomes increasingly a truth which cannot be spoken'.

It speaks of 'legal vulnerabilities' for the millions of Australians who do not wish to see marriage redefined and the fact that in many overseas cases, expressing such belief has resulted in vilification and legal punishment of individuals and institutions. "This violates not only freedom of religion, but also the rights of conscience, belief and association, and the right of parents to educate their children according to their own beliefs. The experience of these countries which have redefined marriage demonstrates that attempts to address these concerns through legislative “exemptions” have proven to be worthless." the leaders say.

"We urge you and your fellow Members of Parliament to uphold the law of the Commonwealth of Australia regarding marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to continue to support the common good of our community by supporting true marriage." It ends with a request for a meeting with the Prime Minister and MP's to further discuss the issue.

SOURCE (Email)

Afghan man who beat his 14-year-old sisters with a TREE branch for talking to an older man on Facebook is granted Australian citizenship

An Afghan man who beat his younger sisters with a tree branch for talking to an older man has been granted an Australian citizenship.

The man, in his 20s, was charged at Mildura Magistrates Court - in north-west Victoria - with intentionally causing injury to his sisters who were both 14 years old at the time in 2013.

His charges were dismissed after he underwent a three-month, court-ordered diversion program, with the magistrate satisfied with his participation.

The man, who was granted permanent residency in 2009, said he had hit his sisters with a stick because they had been having a 'sexual' conversation with an older Afghan man on Facebook.

The circumstances surrounding the incident were set out in documents submitted to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, with the man seeking to have the decision to reject his citizenship application overturned.

A delegate for the minister did not approve the man for citizenship in 2014 because he was not satisfied the applicant was 'a person of good character' due to the 2013 incident.

The man explained he was angry with his sisters when he discovered they had been chatting online with the older Afghan man.  Young girls talking to older men is frowned upon in Afghan culture.

'When we arrived home the girls went to their bedroom. I went outside and got a branch from a tree. I came back inside and hit them both with the branch,' the young man said.  'After a while I went back inside and my sisters were crying.

'I was cross because we came here for a better life, to have education, achieve, find homes and provide better. 'I did not want my sisters to be having relationships with older Afghan men and get married at an early age.'

The next day the girls' teacher reported the incident to police after seeing bruises on their arm, leading to the charges against their brother.

The two teenagers said their brother was the head of the family as their father was dead and he had 'kept them safe'.  One of them said he had only hit them once and it was with a small stick.

A friend of the applicant told the tribunal the young man had helped him settle in Australia and had 'done everything for his family'.  The friend added the man was 'a patient, caring person' and he had not seen the applicant display anger nor did his sisters appear to be afraid of him.

The tribunal's senior member Rodney Dunne ruled in the Afghan man's favour and granted him citizenship, saying: 'In looking at the evidence as a whole, I am satisfied that [the man] is now a person of good character.'


11 June, 2015

Australian cities at increased risk of flash flooding as temperatures warm and deluges intensify, experts say

The headline above and the article below rather over-egg the pudding.  If you look at the underlying journal article (also below) it contains nothing about the future at all.  All that the authors found was that storms are more intense and more sudden if the temperature is warm.  Not terribly surprising. I've seen some mighty storms arrive suddenly in the tropics. We don't get much else, in fact

It's only if the globe warms that the findings might have some implications of concern.  Fortunately, the globe is NOT warming, despite the many assertions to the contrary

Conclusions published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggest peak downpours during storms are intensifying at warmer temperatures, leading to greater risk of flash flooding in urban centres.

The study's authors have pointed to recent extreme weather events in Sydney and Queensland as examples of what they have documented.

They are urging local councils to redesign sewerage and road infrastructure as a result.  "Unless you fix the sewers and the storm drainage network you will have problems," study co-author Ashish Sharma said.

"If you're having bigger floods coming along in the future, the existing infrastructure cannot handle it. It will spill over."

Civil engineers from the UNSW analysed 30 years of weather records from 79 locations across Australia.

They looked at the 500 largest storms by rainfall volume from each of these locations and measured the corresponding near-surface temperature at the time of the storm.

The research found that the most intense downpours of rain are getting more extreme at warmer temperatures, dumping larger volumes of water over less time, leading to more flash floods.

"This is the first study in the world, to our knowledge at least, that looks at what will happen within an individual storm," Professor Sharma said.

"While it uses data from Australia it is actually very global in its reach because what we have gone about doing is we have just picked data from a lot of high quality rainfall stations in Australia.

"This holds across Australia so you can expect that this change is universal. And it's a mechanism nobody has really looked at until now.  "We certainly didn't expect it to be universal across Australia, which was a big surprise, and which basically says that you should see some other types of patterns in other climate zones around the world."


Steeper temporal distribution of rain intensity at higher temperatures within Australian storms

Conrad Wasko & Ashish Sharma

The mechanisms that cause changes in precipitation, as well as the resulting storm dynamics, under potential future warming remain debated1, 2, 3. Measured sensitivities of precipitation to temperature variations in the present climate have been used to constrain model predictions4, 5, debate precipitation mechanisms2, 3 and speculate on future changes to precipitation6 and flooding7. Here, we analyse data sets of precipitation measurements at 6-min resolution from 79 locations throughout Australia, covering a broad range of climate zones, along with sub-daily temperature measurements of varying resolution. We investigate the relationship between temporal patterns of precipitation intensity within storm bursts and temperature variations in the present climate by calculating the scaling of the precipitation fractions within each storm burst. We find that in the present climate, a less uniform temporal pattern of precipitation—more intense peak precipitation and weaker precipitation during less intense times—is found at higher temperatures, regardless of the climatic region and season. We suggest invigorating storm dynamics could be associated with the warming temperatures expected over the course of the twenty-first century, which could lead to increases in the magnitude and frequency of short-duration floods.

Nature Geoscience (2015) doi:10.1038/ngeo2456

Statement by the Lutheran Church of Australia on same sex marriages -- on 29 May 2015?

On 22 May 2015 voters in the Republic of Ireland were asked to determine whether ‘marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’. Of nearly 2 million votes cast, 62% voted ‘yes’.

The success of this referendum, supported by the Irish government, has sparked a worldwide response. It is seen as the first popular vote to enact same-sex marriage, rather than a vote by elected representatives, as has already happened in New Zealand (2013), many European countries, and parts of the USA. Does this signify a turning of the popular tide in relation to the issue, and how should we respond?

A senior Vatican diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has said, “The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity.”

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, and his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, were among the first Australian politicians to respond to the Irish referendum by introducing a private members bill to Parliament. Well-known voices such as 2GB’s Alan Jones have come out in support of same sex marriage. Now Prime Minister Tony Abbot seems to be preparing for a free vote in the Parliament, without the usual ‘party line’ restrictions. It could take place as early as August. All this seems to mean that the odds of a change in Australian marriage law have increased significantly.

In Australia, marriage is regulated by a Federal Act (1961), which defines marriage as ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.

While in full agreement with this definition, the Lutheran Church of Australia recognises that governments have the duty and responsibility under God to make and enforce laws for the ordering of society. For Lutherans marriage is not a sacrament belonging to our salvation, but an order for the welfare of human society. If the rules of society stand in clear contradiction of the Word of God, the church is not bound by them.

An example of this freedom occurred when the LCA discussed conscientious objection to conscripted military service during the Vietnam War. It argued: When governments wantonly subvert their God-ordained functions and act in contempt and violation of God's law, the individual Christian is bound to examine his position as a citizen and to let his conscience, bound by the Word of God, determine at what point and in which matters he must refuse obedience rather than to permit men to involve him in sin. Acts 5:29; Augsburg Confession XVI, 2.3.7. (Conscientious Objection to Service in War, CTICR, adopted by General Convention 1970)

So if the government were to change the law on marriage, the LCA would not be obligated to change its position on marriage. LCA pastors will not conduct same sex weddings. The legal requirement under which a religious celebrant conducts a marriage is that it be in accordance with the rites of the Church.

The LCA marriage rite is clear in this regard, quoting Genesis 1:27-31, ‘God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it'. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good’ and Matthew 19:4-6 ‘Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female', and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no-one separate.’

In 1978 the LCA issued a statement on ‘Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage’, which reads in part:

God, the Creator of humankind, instituted marriage. It is part of the created social order. So society, through custom or legislation, decides when a man and a woman are in fact married (Genesis 1:27,28; 2:18-24; Matthew 19:3-9; Augsburg Confession 16 and 28; Apology 23.9).

Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. This union excludes all other people. It is publicly and voluntarily entered into for the whole of life (Matthew 19:6; 1 Corinthians 7:39).

The purpose of marriage is:

- to unite one man and one woman (that is, husband and wife) so that they become ‘one flesh’. In this relationship the one person is the complement of the other (Matthew 19:5)

- to produce children and to care for their upbringing within the framework of a family (Ephesians 6:1-4)

- to provide an appropriate place and context for a man and a woman to have sexual relations (1 Corinthians 7:2,3).

The Lutheran Church of Australia today still affirms this understanding of marriage. The Commission on Theology and Inter-Church relations is preparing a new statement on Human Sexuality, which is planned for release in July, along with a series of Bible Studies. Here is an excerpt on the topic of same sex marriage:

"… Even though marriage’s attendant rites and ceremonies may vary over time and from place to place, it still reaches back to its divine origins within creation. There God instituted marriage as the union between a man and a woman. While a same sex union may be based on romantic attraction, mutual affection and promises of long term commitment, it is not an estate given with creation and embedded in the fabric of society from time immemorial. Unlike the union of a man and a woman, it is not the natural arena for bringing children into the world and thereby perpetuating the human community. Theologically speaking, therefore, a same-sex union is not only contrary to God’s design, but it does not have the fundamental features that give marriage its unique quality. To use the name ‘marriage’ for same-sex partnerships would be to use the same name for things that are fundamentally different."

The LCA will do what it can to bring its views to the attention of government and the voting public. Do not expect us, however, to be quoted much in the popular press. Most of that space will be taken up by the bigger, noisier, more favoured voices in our society.

For our part, God is placing before us the challenge of remaining faithful to him, and of showing love and compassion for all people. While we do not identify same sex unions as marriages, we know that all people seek and deserve the support of loving human relationships. We can no longer assume that those relationships will be in the form of marriage as the church knows it. This is the new reality in which we will share our faith in Christ. The Christian Church has no moral superiority to force its way onto society. To our mutual shame Christians have condoned evil under the banner of their churches, as the current Royal Commission is showing plainly to the whole world. Our only way forward is through repentance, turning back to Christ, and renewal in the power of his Spirit.

You and I live only by the grace of God’s forgiveness in Christ, and that must be what we want for all whom we meet, heterosexual and homosexual, just as Christ came, not to condemn the world, but to save it. Finally, we will pray for our politicians, opinion makers, the churches, and the Australian public, as our society grapples with this most sensitive matter.


Auditors visit six Islamic schools across Australia to investigate claims of financial mismanagement

Auditors are visiting schools run by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) across the country today, after concerns were raised about financial management and governance.

AFIC oversees eight schools across Australia, with six of those in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth and western Sydney facing the reviews.

Parents who have been staging protests outside the Islamic College of South Australia at Croydon in Adelaide's north-west for weeks have welcomed the move.

The audit is being carried out by Deloitte, and the South Australian secretary of the Independent Education Union, Glen Seidel, said it had been a long time coming.

"There have been quite a few allegations raised about financial impropriety with AFIC schools in general and the Islamic College of South Australia in particular, and the allegations are quite serious," he said.

"What we need to do is get to the bottom of these allegations to find out whether there has been wrongdoing or not."

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced the audit last week to examine the schools' compliance with the act that provides them with tens of millions of dollars in government funding.

Mr Seidel said former staff members of the South Australian school should be spoken to.  "The four former principals that they've had in the last three years - those people know the inner workings of the school," he said.

"From my professional discussions with them, they're aware of irregularities but they're worried about breaching confidentiality terms in their contracts of employment."

The SA Government has also announced a number of reviews into the school.  It said the school had agreed to an independent review of its governance structures and its complaints policy.

The department will also be investigating the teaching of curriculum and compliance with all aspects of the state's funding deed with the college.

Parents welcome audit, despite delays

Disgruntled parents have been staging protests outside the school in recent weeks, concerned about staff changes and the direction in which the school had been taken by its board.

Concerns have also been raised about a more hardline approach and about how religious studies were being taught.

The parent of a student at the South Australian college, Bayan Mohammed, welcomed the audit.  "It is all about money and control, so this is beautiful news," he said.

He said it was frustrating for parents that government reviews had taken so long to be established.  "Other parents noticed [the problems] over two years ago, a lot of parents they have concerns," he said.  "But coming late is better than never."

The school and AFIC have repeatedly denied any financial mismanagement.  The school also said Islamic teachings there were "moderate" and taught by well qualified staff.


Attack on religious education in NSW

Scripture books promoting "dangerous" messages about sex and male power are being used in NSW public schools according to a parent-run lobby group Fairness in Religions in Schools (FIRIS). They have raised concerns about a number of publications for students attending scripture classes in state secondary schools. The Anglican secondary special religious education (SRE) curriculum for public schools includes texts which FIRIS claims promotes sexual abstinence outside a "lifelong relationship" and the doctrine of male headship and female submission. A sample lesson from another provider,  claims divorce happens "because of human sinfulness and ignorance".

FIRIS has targeted the publication “Teen Sex By the Book” and its companion manuals, produced by Australia's biggest evangelical Christian school curriculum publisher, Christian Education Publications. FIRIS claims the book links teen sex to drug addiction and alcoholism, describes homosexuality as "misplaced sexual desire" and warns that girls who wear short skirts and low-cut tops might be "tempting their Christian brothers to lust". FIRIS has been joined by Greens MP John Kaye who commented "If parents knew that Scripture was much more than quaint stories about men gadding about in togas and Roman sandals, enrolments would plummet.” 

The battle to remove Christianity from public school curricula is not a new one. A spokesman for the Anglican Church said “Christian SRE, teaches what the Scriptures teach.  SRE teachers explain such things as the forgiveness of sins, hope for life after death and wisdom for living now.  SRE teachers teach children to honour their parents and love their neighbour and, in age appropriate contexts, offer Biblical wisdom on many issues including human sexuality.” “The SRE curriculum has no secrets and does not attempt to hide anything from parents.  SRE teachers and SRE providers will happily spend time talking with parents about the content of their classes” the spokesman said.

As one Christian leader in Sydney has asked, “What is surprising or wrong with Christians teaching the children of parents who select Christian SRE that we believe monogamy is God's good purpose, and that sex is best reserved for marriage?”  The book FIRIS wanted banned is written by Dr Patricia Weerakoon, a sexual health expert and honorary senior lecturer at Sydney University’s Westmead Clinical School.   If the Greens and FIRIS had done their homework properly they would know that the book is not part of the authorised SRE curriculum. If they had done their homework and deliberately sought to associate the book with SRE, one can only assume that they have some seriously sinister motives.

Author Patricia Weerakoon said the book was intended to be used by Christian parents and their teenagers. "It does not in any way portray same-sex attraction as a sin," she said. Chief executive of Anglican Media Sydney Russell Powell said Teen Sex by The Book was not intended for use in SRE classes, however it is listed alongside other SRE materials in a Christian Education Publications catalogue. The Greens education spokesperson, John Kaye, called for greater scrutiny of material being used in scripture classes in public schools. "This is dangerous stuff. Abstinence messaging and homophobia have real consequences for vulnerable young people."

SOURCE (Email)

10 June, 2015

New Matilda ignores a very large elephant in the room

I always enjoy the bulletins I get from the devious far-Leftists at New Matilda.  Wendy Bacon, scion of the old Communist Bacon family, is writing below.  The elephant she ignores is the horrendous Sydney traffic congestion.  Traffic jams waste huge amounts of time for millions of people -- and anything to relieve it has to be seized upon. 

And time is of the essence.  Any major infrastructure project is treacle-slow in getting done these days so the way to speed things up is to do things simultaneously rather than sequentially.  And that is exactly what the breakfast lady is whining about.  If all the paperwork had to be done before anything else happened, the project would be delayed for years.  But gumming up the works is what Communists have always aimed at so that motivation is clear here too. If she had her way, traffic congestion in the affected area would last years longer than it needs to

NSW Labor and NSW Greens are calling on the Baird government to halt all forced acquisitions until the business case for its WestConnex motorway is made public, environmental assessments are complete and planning approvals are granted.

This is the opposite to the planning approach being taken by the NSW government for tollway planning.

NSW Shadow Minister for Roads, Jodi McKay and Greens WestConnex Spokesperson Jenny Leong are also concerned about potential conflicts of interest involved in WestConnex contracts awarded to engineering company AECOM, revealed by New Matilda last week.

On Thursday, the WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA) announced that a Leightons, John Holland and Samsung C&T consortium has been awarded a $2.5 billion contract to build the M4 East tunnel from Homebush to Haberfield in Sydney's Inner West. At the same time, 180 households were being issued with forced acquisition notices.

Other residents learned that they would lose part of their gardens, leaving them living on the edge of the motorway, or that their children would be attending a public school near an unfiltered ventilation stack or motorway portal.

In Sydney's south west, the small community of St Peters has been campaigning since last November against the forced acquisition of scores of homes, which would leave their neighbourhood decimated and its school close to the massive M5 interchange. Residents in Beverly Hills are facing imminent expansion of the existing M5 toll road to within a few metres of their fences and the removal of local open space and vegetation in preparation for a second M5 tunnel.

This massive community disruption is happening without the business case for the WestConnex being completed or made public, or a draft EIS released for either the M4 tunnel or duplicate M5 toll road. Almost nothing is known about Stage 3, which is a tunnel that would link the M4 and M5.

Jodi McKay told New Matilda that "neither the planning process nor property acquisitions should go ahead until the completion and release of the business case". She said the rush to issue the contract and acquire houses was "poor governance" and that "the project should not progress any further until the EIS is released for extensive consultation, which I doubt is what the government has in mind. This government has shown time and time again that they will go out of their way to shut down transparency.”

Greens WestConnex spokesperson, Newtown MP Jenny Leong’s first act in NSW Parliament after becoming MP for Newtown was to call on the Government - in the interests of good governance and financial accountability - to suspend all activity on the WestConnex project until the full business case and Environmental Impact Statement are made public. She told New Matilda that "in the interests of transparency and the public interest, until the business case and EIS is released there must be a halt to acquisitions, exploratory works and construction”.

“The current crash-through approach by Roads Minister and WDA shows a blatant disregard for good planning, the community interest, the health and safety of our communities and our environment. Now the contracts have been signed, what happens if the EIS discovers that there will be dangerous levels of pollution delivered right into residential areas in Concord, Homebush or Haberfield?” Leong asked.


Rapists, paedophiles, killers, wife beaters and baby bashers cleared to work with children

Who are the people making these decisions about the safety of children?   Remnants of the NSW Labor Govt?

A WOMAN on parole for a bashing murder. A man convicted of incest against his 14-year-old daughter. A swimming coach who fondled boys in a public toilet.

These are some of the convicted criminals, including rapists, paedophiles and killers, who have been awarded a Working With Children Check (WWCC) over the past 12 months, despite being deemed unsafe to work with children by the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian.

After being rejected by the Children’s Guardian, the disqualified applicants took their cases to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), which overturned their cases on appeal.

The Sunday Telegraph today launches a campaign to protect our children from violent offenders and ensure the Children’s Guardian can do its job without interference.

Our analysis of NCAT ­appeals finalised over the past 12 months shows a small but significant number of individuals being granted clearances against the express wishes of the Children’s Guardian, which denied the clearance and then asked the Tribunal not to grant it on appeal.

These include at least 15 cases ranging from instances of child abuse, violent sexual assaults and, in one case, the murder of a police officer.

Family and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard said the cases identified were both “deeply concerning” and may have failed the “commonsense test”.

Mr Hazzard said he would ask the state’s Attorney General Gabrielle Upton to review the decisions.  “Logically, there can’t be too may circumstances where allowing a murderer to work with children could be considered a sensible option,” Mr Hazzard said, referring to the case of a woman recently awarded a WWCC, despite being on parole until August 30, 2017 for a bashing murder.

The tribunal heard the woman, whose identity is suppressed, was a reformed drug addict who had changed her life while serving a 12-year jail sentence.

Ms Upton said the 15 cases highlighted were concerning and that she had requested a “full report into the circumstances” of each matter.

Only a small number of cases are heard at the tribunal, according to the Children’s Guardian’s most recent annual report.

During the 2013-2014 period there were 420,499 ­applications for a WWCC, of which 221 cases were barred or queried.

The report stated that 83 cases went for appeal and of the 44 cases heard during the reporting period, 16 clearances were granted.

In many cases, the people applying for a WWCC already work or come into contact with children.

Under new WWCC laws introduced in 2013, anyone volunteering or working in a paid capacity with children, including foster carers, must obtain a WWCC.

The ­influx of applications — more than 700,000 — has seen some people facing sudden uncertainty with their careers or personal lives as they become flagged for historic offences.

One case identified is a 72-year-old man who is a priest’s assistant in his local Catholic Church and vice-president of his swimming club.

He came to the guardian’s attention when he recently applied for a new WWCC after more than a decade with the club.

He has been working with the club and other organisations for more than a decade but was only ­recently flagged when applying for a new WWCC.

In 1963 he was convicted of fondling two 13-year-old boys in a toilet ­cubicle, but the tribunal said it was comfortable he was no more a risk to children than any other male his age.

While each appeal judgment is a public document, the names of people seeking a WWCC are anonymised to protect the identities of their victims and children involved.

The tribunal ruled that in another case a man convicted of having sex with and indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 1989 should be granted a WWCC because the incident was “opportunistic” and did not involve any force.

In many of the appeal cases, the tribunal found the applicants were no longer an ­“appreciable risk” to children because, in some cases, decades had passed since their ­offences.

Other factors taken into account were whether they remained on the police radar for other convictions, or whether they continued to use drugs or alcohol, both seen as triggers for offences.

One case involved a man who physically assaulted a 17-year-old victim, then, a year later, dangled his partner’s baby by one leg (he claimed the baby was laughing).  Years later he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison.

The tribunal awarded him a WWCC after finding he had sufficiently rehabilitated himself and ceased using ­alcohol.  This was despite him suffering an ­alcoholic relapse in 2006 and assaulting a police officer.

Asked to comment, the tribunal said there were avenues of appeal available to people who believed the body had “erred in its decision”.


ACCC claims CFMEU bosses ordered ban of Boral

CFMEU secretary John Setka ordered a systematic black ban of concrete company Boral during a meeting of 200 union leaders, Federal Court documents claim.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s statement of claim reveals the mechanics of the alleged boycott, which has cost Boral up to $28 million and remains in force.

The ACCC is seeking heavy fines against the union and undertakings to advertise its error and the proposed end of the ban in the Herald Sun and The Age newspapers and on its website.

The CFMEU allegedly banned Boral because it refused to stop supplying concrete to the union’s arch enemy Grocon.

The documents alleged that the ban of Boral products was set up at a union shop stewards meeting at Trades Hall on February 14, 2013.

“During the February Trades Hall meeting Setka said words to the effect that Boral was a ‘Grocon friendly supplier’,” the documents state.

“The CFMEU gave an instruction to shop stewards and CFMEU organisers to not allow Boral to supply concrete to commercial construction sites in metropolitan Melbourne.”

CFMEU assistant secretary Shaun Reardon was also at the meeting and was named in court documents as allegedly being involved in setting up the boycott.

Following the meeting, Boral’s deliveries were stopped at 13 sites across Melbourne.

The CFMEU has denied claims it was responsible for the ban, a copy of its defence states.

Mr Setka and Mr Reardon have both declined to enter a plea, claiming privilege, their defence filings state.

The union also allegedly introduced truck checklists that were allegedly designed to allow union delegates to turn Boral trucks away under the guise of safety concerns.

Gary Ayers, the CFMEU’s safety unit manager, told union occupational health and safety representatives to target Boral, the documents alleged.

“The March checklist was to be applied particularly to Boral trucks,” the documents state. The ACC alleged the checklist was “unnecessary, unreasonable or excessive.”

The CFMEU also faces Supreme Court action, with Boral seeking damages for the black ban.

The Boral dispute began in the months after the CFMEU had a 16-day walkout on Grocon’s Myer Emporium site in 2012.


Female teacher who was wrongly imprisoned for TWO YEARS for 'having sex with two eight-year-olds' demands investigation into those who falsely accused her

A female teacher who spent more than two years in jail after she was wrongly accused of having sex with two eight-year-old boys has demanded an investigation into those who blamed her for such hideous crimes.

Josephine Greensill was jailed in 2010 after two former students accused her of sexual abuse, including full intercourse, when she was their year three teacher in Melbourne back in 1979.

The retired teacher, who always denied any wrongdoing, has spoken out for the first time for Australian Story saying she still hasn't received an apology following her acquittal in 2012.

'I try not to feel angry because I don't think it's helpful. I feel sad and upset that my life has changed. I don't know if I'll get back to the happy person I was,' Ms Greensill told the program.

'I just want answers I want to know why this has happened to me. Why would someone make accusations that weren't true?'

Ms Greensill was found guilty by a jury of nine of 20 sexual abuse charges after two men made police statements in 2007 accusing their former teacher of assaulting them in a tent in her backyard.

She was sentenced at Victorian County Court to five years with a minimum of two years and eight months, with the judge saying her premeditated crime had 'poisoned and eroded' much of the victims' lives.

Prominent criminal lawyer Robert Stary took on her case after she was jailed and all of her convictions were eventually quashed in 2012 after serving two and a half years.

The appeal judgement concluded there was a 'real likelihood' the two complainants had 'collaborated, and a real possibility of concoction' in the evidence.

'The evidence in this case just didn't stack up,' Mr Stary said. 'It 'just didn't ring true.'  'There was no medical evidence, no forensic evidence and no eye witnesses. There were inconsistent accounts provided by the accusers.'

Mr Stary said it was unacceptable there were no consequences for those responsible for what happened to her.

Ms Greensill was 61 when she was released, but her mental health had suffered and she was diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome.

She missed the birth of three grandchildren, her son-in-law's funeral and various milestone birthdays, including her own 60th.

Ms Greensill said she might have well have languished in prison for the full five year sentence had it not been for the determination of sisters, Annette and Mary Toohey.

They want those responsible for what happened to Ms Greensill to be held accountable.

'She feels like she's been acquitted but not exonerated... her reputation has been shattered and that's the most important thing to her,' Annette Toohey said.  'She was innocent. If it could happen to her, it could happen to anybody.'

Victorian Police advised last year that a Special Crime Investigation unit would consider the possibility of investigating the two accusers for possible perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Ms Greensill says she hasn't heard anything from police since January.


9 June, 2015

TV networks pass on Julia Gillard telemovie

A feminist flop.  She was eventually tossed out by her own party

“EVERYONE hates Julia Gillard, nobody is remotely interested in her.”  That’s what producer Richard Keddie was told by a TV broadcaster as they passed on his telemovie about Australia’s first female Prime Minister, starring Rachel Griffiths as the controversial politician.

And that broadcaster wasn’t alone, with every Australian TV network politely declining to touch the project which hasn’t yet been filmed.

Keddie, who previously produced political TV dramas Hawke and Curtin, now plans to make a feature film about Julia Gillard instead of a telemovie.  “I’m hoping now to get into finance later this year and shoot early next year,” said Keddie to TV Tonight.

“Now it is theatrical it means I don’t have editorial controls on me from broadcasters.”

The telemovie was to be based on Kerry-Anne Walsh’s book, The Stalking of Julia Gillard, but Keddie has since expanded on the script.

“It’s about how everyone treated the first female Prime Minister — on every level: the media, Rudd, Abbott, the people and the Labor Party. Nobody comes out smelling of roses from it.

“It’s kind of a Lord of the Flies story. It was a blood sport to kill Julia. But there is so much more than that.”


Tony Abbott has terror targets in his sights

The Abbott government could be planning something much more decisive, radical and controversial in its approach to stripping Australian citizenship from dual nationals who pose a terrorist threat.

The revelation in The Weekend Australian that about half of all Australians convicted or suspected of terrorist offences, including half of the 110 fighting for Islamic State or other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, are dual nationals, suggests this measure will open up a very wide front of action for the government.

Most analysts assume the new measure will be applied only to a small number of people. Britain has stripped only 27 of its nationals of citizenship under similar provisions over the past decade. However, analysts are almost certainly making the same mistake they made about Tony Abbott’s determination to turn around the boats. They thought it wouldn’t be done on a meaningful scale because no one had done it previously. And they thought it couldn’t be done because it would be too difficult.

They were wrong on both counts and I think they are wrong again. They underestimated the Prime Minister’s determination not to take no for an answer on a core matter of national security.

The controversy over the second proposal, possibly to strip citizenship from people who hold only an Australian passport but may be eligible to apply for another, misses the point. This is a foolish proposal and the cabinet rebels were right to resist it. But the way it has played out has made the dual-citizenship proposal seem more palatable and has helped ensure bipartisan consensus.

Most commentators seem to think in practice it will apply only to the worst terrorists operating overseas and it would simply mean they could not come home. But both the policy and political argument for the government to use this power much more aggressively will be substantial, probably overwhelming. All Western nations are groping for new ways to counter terrorism and if Australia ends up more forward leaning than most, that is hardly surprising if you’re really paying attention. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says the power could be used “sparingly” but that is an elastic word.

Many commentators seem to think other nations would be unlikely to accept back their dual nationals if Australia wanted to expel them because of terrorist actions or support for terrorism. They think this checkmates the Abbott government. But here is where we get into boats policy round two. States have an obligation under international law to accept citizens who have been convicted of crimes overseas, or if they are otherwise unwelcome. Some states may have an incentive to get back citizens involved in terrorism for intelligence purposes.

If the Australian government decides that a dual national is too dangerous to remain an Australian citizen, and the other nation of his citizenship won’t take him back, that does not exhaust Canberra’s options.

If a person is stripped of their passport, they no longer have a legal right to be in Australia. In the case of illegal immigrants, the Abbott government has shown a willingness to detain people at length while they negotiate with the nation of their citizenship to take them back. If the prospect of indefinite detention is too harsh, or goes on too long, the government may give that person a restricted visa to remain at large in Australia while Canberra continues to try to gain access for them to their other country of citizenship.

There are ethical, as well as legal and political, reasons why this could apply more readily to dual citizens than to sole Australian citizens who have an eligibility for another citizenship. A dual citizen to whom this applied would have had to make two clear, voluntary decisions before this could even become a question. The first, and most important, is to become seriously involved in terrorism. The second is to maintain a foreign citizenship. This is an active choice. Most dual nationals hold a second, or even a third, passport for reasons of property or work rights in another country. There is nothing wrong with this and no ordinary, innocent person should lose any sleep over it. But holding a second citizenship does mean an Australian has decided, explicitly, to retain certain rights and obligations in another country. There is nothing wrong with an Australian government taking notice of this.

Abbott’s rhetoric in parliament — that those who take a knife or gun to Australians for terrorist purposes forfeit their right to be Australians — does not sound like it is coming from a leader who does not intend to use this power.

Of course, the government must handle this carefully. A government has to be extremely careful about tampering with the rights inherent in citizenship. But as long as it is handled with even a scintilla of political sense, the politics of it would have to benefit the government. It focuses people on national security and shows the government taking resolute action. The specific measure would have strong community support, it would be opposed by the Greens and it would distress at least part of the Labor Party. That is a formidable combination.

My bet is that if the government gets this power it will not be primarily symbolic and it will not be used rarely. Provided the legislation is drafted in a way that means the courts can’t muck it up, I would foresee a series of decisions and announcements along these lines indefinitely. It will become a big new factor in Australian politics and culture.


Army now run by special-forces officers

FOR the first time in its 114-year history the Australian Army is being run by an elite group of special-forces officers.

The new Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell was a senior officer with the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment.

His deputy Major General Rick Burr is a former commanding officer the SASR and Forces Commander Major General Gus Gilmore, who commands more than 85 per cent of the army’s warfighting capacity, is also a former CO of SASR.

There has always been tension between the “big army” and its special-forces units including the SASR and the Commando Regiments.

SAS soldiers were the first on the ground in Afghanistan in October 2001 following the attacks against the United States.

Major-General Gilmore led the initial push alongside the US Marines at a base called FOB Rhino south of Kandahar. He also had a stint as defence spokesman.

Major General Burr was the officer in command of the special-forces task group at Bagram air base in northern Afghanistan in 2002 and in western Iraq the following year.

He also has the unique honour of being the first foreign officer ever to be appointed as Deputy Commanding General, US Army’s Pacific Command.

Both SAS and Commandos conducted most of the fighting against Taliban forces in Afghanistan and special-forces units suffered the highest casualty rates with 21 of the 41 dead coming from Special Operations Command.

All three army leaders graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon between 1983 and 1985. After numerous command jobs Lt General Campbell left the army in 2005 and became the deputy National Security Adviser in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under another ex-SAS officer Duncan Lewis who now runs ASIO.

He returned to the fold in 2010 and was appointed commander of Australian forces in the Middle East in January 2011 before becoming head of Border Protection Command and promoted to Lieutenant General and finally chief of army.

Program Director at the US Studies Centre at Sydney University and former army officer James Brown said the three generals would bring a unique perspective to the top of the army.

He said they knew each other very well and would make a strong and cohesive team for the next three years.  “They have a full-spectrum view of the world and are used to considering unconventional options,” Mr Brown said.  “They will also have respect for good ideas and will be very good change managers.”

Former Army General and NSW Liberal Senate hopeful and possible future Defence Minister Jim Molan welcomed the appointment of three men with extensive combat experience across the spectrum.

“The only good armies are those that fight regularly and in Australia it is the special-forces that have most combat experience.”


Immigrant ambassadors open doors for Australia across Asia

Asian migration has been an important source of skilled migrants and students for building a prosperous Australia since the launch of the Colombo Plan six decades ago.

A new report launched by Australia’s Chief Scientist on June 5 suggests that skilled migration from Asia and the Pacific is also having a game-changing impact on the nature and intensity of Australia’s relations with the region. Indian-Australian and Chinese-Australian immigrants in particular are helping to integrate Australia with the economies, societies and cultures of the region in ways that were barely imaginable in the past.

The report offers compelling evidence that skilled migrants from India, China and neighbouring countries are increasingly leading Australia’s scientific and cultural relations with the region. They are building pathways for innovation, growth and better understanding between Australia and their homelands.

Building digital and research links

Recent patterns of migration and settlement, bolstered by high levels of digital connectivity, are constantly linking Australia’s universities and lounge rooms with Shanghai and Mumbai.

The links are clearly apparent in research collaboration. Asia is leaping ahead globally in scientific research. Expenditure on research and development in Asia already exceeds that in North America. China is likely to overtake the US as the largest producer of research articles within the decade. India is fast catching up.

The report finds that Australia’s research collaboration with China is largely driven by Australian-based Chinese diaspora researchers. Universities and research organisations could do more to acknowledge and harness the networks that their diaspora researchers are building to extend collaborations more broadly. This would embed Australia further in regional research networks.

Enhancing cultural understanding

Intensive diaspora networks are also framing Australia’s cultural relations with the region. The report highlights a facet of “multiculturalism” often overshadowed by celebrations of cultural diversity within Australia – the increasingly important role that Asian and Pacific Island Australian artists play in representing Australia in their original homelands.

It might surprise many Australians to learn that the performers and artists who entertain them at multicultural festivals during summer offer similar performances in the winter season, as Australians – but in Suva, Manila and Hong Kong.

The report estimates that Australian culture is represented informally in the region through self-funding diaspora artists on a scale comparable to mainstream performers supported by cultural diplomacy programs. Artists and performers capable of relating directly with their homeland communities, through the trusted voices of their own languages and the familiar idioms of local cultural practices, have high media exposure and impact in their countries of origin.


8 June, 2015

Poison bubbling out of this scab on Labor

A union sells out its workers for a bribe

LABOR has long reserved the epithet “scab” — usually howled or hissed at strike-breakers to vilify those perceived to work against the interests of trade unionists.

It will now have to find a new term of abuse to apply to trade union bosses who secretly sell out their members. As the trade union royal commission has heard, the Australian Workers Union’s Victorian branch traded workers’ benefits worth about $6 million in wages and penalty rates which should have flowed to some its lowest-paid members in exchange for ­employer contributions worth $225,000 and an extraordinary political advantage within the ALP through artificially ­increased membership, which gave it more delegates at ALP conferences.

Counsel assisting the commission Jeremy Stoljar has ­detailed the 2010 agreement between the giant cleaning contractor Cleanevent under which it provided lists of names of cleaners and paid union fees to the AWU, without their knowledge and ­despite some of them already paying union dues.

The cleaners were then paid about a third of what they would have received under a more modern award. At the bottom tier, a casual cleaner was paid $18.14 an hour instead of at least $50.17 an hour, about 175 per cent more.

Cleanevent was in no doubt about the advantage of the sweetheart deal with the union bosses, with its then general manager of operations, writing in a June 25, 2012, email that the benefit to the company ‘‘by not having the EBA and ­employing labour through the modern award is circa $2 million (per annum)’’.

‘‘The $25K was part of that negotiation and was approved by (the then general manager), the $25K is an annual cost.’’

However, the secret 2010 deal revealed by the commission merely extended the 2006 agreement, with some adjustments, made when Opposition leader Bill Shorten was Victorian and national secretary of the AWU and it was Clause 39 of that original agreement which removed all protected award conditions, including penalty rates.

The 2006 agreement ­covered cleaning workers in the company’s operations throughout Australia and, under the AWU’s rule, any agreement which covers workers in multiple states must be approved by the national secretary.

The secret 2010 deal was handled by Shorten’s factional ally successor at the Victorian branch of the AWU, Cesar Melhem, now the Labor government’s Whip in the Victorian Upper House.

Labor Premier Daniel ­Andrews has taken no action against him despite the gravity of the allegations raised at the royal commission, though ­Andrews had no difficulty standing down his Small Business Minister Adem Somyurek a fortnight ago when a staff member raised allegations of bullying behaviour.

Because of Labor’s dependence on the union movement, Andrews is stonewalling on Cesar Melhem, and Shorten is also refusing to comment on the extraordinarily serious ­allegations raised in the royal commission.

There was a time when Shorten wasn’t shy of the cameras. He was impossible to keep out of camera-shot during the Beaconsfield mine tragedy and he was happy to announce that he had organised AWU ­membership for the all members of the Australian Netball Players’ Association and members of the Australian Jockeys’ Association, though it may have been news to some of the netballers and hoops who suddenly found that their associations had done deals with the AWU.

As huge amounts of money passed from Cleanevent to the AWU when the 2010 agreement was reached to extend the original 2006 deal, did money change hands then also?

At the time of the 2010 ­negotiations, Melhem seemed to think that Shorten was sufficiently clued-in on the nuts and bolts of the secret arrangements to be able to offer Cleanevent’s senior management “a special invitation to attend a small, intimate luncheon” with him, or was the secret deal to be kept hidden from the star attraction?

Shorten obviously owes it to AWU members to explain what role he had in the creation of the 2006 deal removing various award conditions, including penalty rates, as ­either Victorian or national secretary of the AWU.

Nor can the huge political advantage gained by the AWU in Labor circles be ignored. As Stoljar said, the inflated membership numbers resulting from the secret deal “leads to greater influence over ALP policy formation, greater influence over membership of powerful ALP committees and, in particular, greater influence over the selection of ALP candidates for political office.

“Instead of securing better wages or penalty rates for members, some officials may have preferred to obtain payments which strengthened the union balance sheet and which falsely inflated membership numbers,” he said.

As he reminds us, as Opposition leader, Shorten is also the “alternate” prime minister and as such he has a responsibility to come clean about his previous role as a trade union boss in a union which sold out its workers to boost its war chest and its political clout.


New Queensland children's hospital in strife already

SERIOUSLY ill children are being turned away and surgeries cancelled at the new $1.5?billion Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

The no vacancy sign has gone up and staff told that Queensland’s showpiece hospital in South Brisbane is “absolutely full”.

Doctors have warned there are not enough general overnight beds as the winter flu danger period approaches when admissions are expected to soar.

Nurses and doctors broke their silence last week after serious “bed block” prevented a child from Caboolture Hospital requiring tertiary care from being admitted.

And a child from Nambour requiring specialist treatment had to be diverted to the Gold Coast because Lady Cilento was full.

The Sunday Mail was told other children en route to Lady Cilento have been diverted to the Gold Coast Hospital, Prince Charles Hospital at Chermside and the Royal Women’s Hospital at Herston.

Some doctors are exploring the possibility of flying acute patients interstate for emergency surgeries.

An email to staff on May 8 from the divisional director at Lady Cilento warned of trouble ahead: “As has been the case all week — and to be expected in the foreseeable future — the hospital is at absolute capacity. In the absence of early discharges, major surgery will need to be cancelled.”

Doctors and nurses were urged to attempt to discharge any patients they could before 10am each day. “This should be ‘usual practice’ now given the ongoing bed pressures,’’ the email said.

The crisis escalated last week when the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit became overloaded yet again.

Doctors said the crisis was due to a shortage of general overnight beds, a shortage of nurses and a lack of funding. Nurses have told their union they believe there is a shortage of up to 40 nurses in the operating theatres alone.

And some doctors have queried the arrival of student nurses who have not completed their training.

“There are simply insufficient beds to meet demand,’’ said one Queensland Health chief. “And the operating budget is inadequate.”

The hospital now has one less overnight bed than the total number of beds in the two children’s hospitals it replaced — the Royal and the Mater. Hospital planners say Lady Cilento has 92 fewer overnight beds than required to meet current demand.

Health Minister Cameron Dick referred The Sunday Mail to Fionnagh Dougan, the chief of the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

Ms Dougan declined to be interviewed but said in a statement: “Elective and urgent elective surgical cases are scheduled and booked for the PICU every day but priority must be given to the emergency cases from around the state. Additional emergency and acute theatre capacity has already been developed but despite this, there will always be days or occasions when acute demand will exceed planned or expected levels.

“We understand how distressing and disruptive it can be for parents when an elective surgery is cancelled.”


Cheating scandal: Sydney university to review medical school

The medical faculty at the University of Sydney will review one of its study units after an academic scandal which involved students falsifying records and interviewing dead patients.

A spokeswoman for the university announced it would review its year-long Integrated Population Medicine (IPM), a unit of study in the Sydney Medical Program provided by the university's School of Public Health, after it was revealed students had falsified reports that were supposed to document the experience of patients living with chronic diseases. It came to light when university staff tried to contact a patient to thank them for their involvement, only to find out they were dead.

"The faculty is conducting a review of the unit of study and its methods of assessment," said the spokeswoman.

The revelations about the medical school have brought mixed reactions from medical students who claim the unit was flawed, and from the medical fraternity, some of whom said it raised wider ethical issues.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Medical Association said it was "a matter between Sydney University and its students".

The president of the Australian Medical Students Association, James Lawler, said while academic dishonesty was an important and serious issue, from a public perspective the cheating had not put patient safety at risk.

A practising hospital doctor, Tom Forfa, said the issues had raised much wider concerns about the way that the university was selecting its medical students.

Dr Forfa said some universities around Australia were putting much more emphasis on marks and money than they did on ethics and personality traits when choosing medical students.

Dr Forfa said that the selection process at some universities did not include personal interviews and was not conducive to breeding the kind of doctors that would be ethical and honest in their future behaviours.

"There is a change required in the process of selecting future doctors," he said. "They tend to overlook other selection criteria (apart from marks) and so they are not doing due diligence when choosing future doctors."

Several medical students who contacted Fairfax Media described the IPM program as "useless" and "meaningless" and said students had made mistakes but were not cheats.

"During the IPM program, students were asked to follow up on a patient with chronic illness over the 12-month period. Some students got into a situation where their patients died several months into the follow-up and it was nearly impossible for the student to pass", one student wrote in an email.

"The options for the student were: (a) notify the faculty, obtain a new patient and restart the 12-month assignment after already having invested several months in it or (b) "be dishonest" and just get the assignment done by the end of year.

"The student chose the wrong option under the immense stress and workload of the USyd medical program."

Another said students felt compelled to "self-declare" that they had falsified dates and meetings or they would face serious repercussions if the audit found they had been dishonest but did not own up to it.

"They would be required to repeat the entirety of third year – effectively delaying graduation by two years and accruing thousands of dollars in additional university fees," the student said.


Our $42m World Cup bid: Show me the money

THE Abbott government could kick a quick goal if it speedily provided Australian taxpayers with a full ­accounting of the $42.25 million of taxpayers’ money that was gifted to Frank Lowy’s pet soccer project — the bid for the 2022 World Cup.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon and Labor senator Sam Dastyari are poised to announce a senate inquiry into the handling of the money to sit when the senate resumes in a fortnight.

The approximately 600,000 active players who contribute fees to Football Federation Australia, the millions more followers of the round ball game across the nation, the entrenched cohorts of supporters and the millions more who have little interest in the sport but who, through their taxes, paid for FFA’s ambitious plan — all deserve more than the explanatory letter released by the billionaire chairman of the FFA on Wednesday.

“World football might just be at the dawn of a new era,” the Mr Big of Australian soccer wrote. But there will be no dawn unless there is absolute transparency.

Federal Police officers are currently evaluating allegations of the misappropriation of funds from FFA to the world body FIFA by a FIFA executive.

Fourteen top FIFA officials were arrested by US authorities in Zurich last week before FIFA’s congress, at which Sepp Blatter was re-elected president. Blatter said later he was resigning but didn’t leave the office compound.

It was later revealed that four others had already been charged, including American Chuck Blazer, formerly the second most-senior official in FIFA’s North and Central American and Caribbean ­region (CONCACAF), and a former member of FIFA’s executive committee.

In a just-released transcript of a 2013 hearing in a US court, Blazer pleaded guilty to 10 charges and admitted that he and other members of the executive committee agreed to accept bribes in connection with the selection of South Africa as the 2010 World Cup host.

He said he also helped ­arrange bribes connected to the 1998 Paris World Cup.

The only clear Australian connection to any of the allegedly corrupt parties at this time is FFA’s $500,000 contribution to CONCACAF through its Centre of Excellence in Trinidad and Tobago.
In his explanatory letter, the 84-year-old Lowy ­acknowledged the president of CONCACAF, Jack Warner, was well-known as a “colourful character” — think of all those “colourful Sydney racing identities” and you’ll get the drift.

Warner asked Australia for $4 million for the centre but someone at FFA was sharp enough to knock that down to $500,000 — and even sent a team to examine the site and hired a sports facilities consultant to prepare a report.

FFA met with CONCACAF officials to agree to the terms, the chief executive of the centre (not Warner) gave FFA CONCACAF’s banking details (not Warner’s) and the cash was transferred.

But it wound up with Warner anyway, as a subsequent investigation by two former judges and an accountant working for CONCACAF found, and it determined that he had committed fraud and stolen the money from CONCACAF, among other instances of wrongdoing over many years.

Faced with growing international disgust, FIFA threw Warner to the wolves.

But to try to and limit the fallout, the parent body then took over the CONCACAF inquiry, while secretly the US team continued its secret ­investigation, charging officials and convincing key players to rollover.

Warner wasn’t the only “colourful character” FFA rubbed shoulders with as it mounted Australia’s $42.25 million bid for the 2020 2022 World Cup. As newcomers to the international soccer sewer it needed guidance.

Which, as Frank Lowy said: “… led us to recruit, on the advice of FIFA’s leadership, consultants who ultimately proved less than effective to say the least”.

They helped FFA splash our money around the region with football-related and ­humanitarian projects calculated to win votes and goodwill from Oceania to China and Africa. It was a totally ­ineffectual use of Australian taxpayers’ funds.

Lowy justifiably feels he has been nursing a bitter grievance since Australia ­received that sole vote in ­December 2010.

Despite acknowledging paying dodgy consultants and assisting shady FIFA officials, he is comfortable with the claim that Australia ran a clean bid.

For the rest of us to be as comfortable, he must show us the books so we can be as sure that public money has been handled with due diligence and probity — FFA will ­receive a further $3 million from the Australian government this year.

The corruption and cronyism that has infected international soccer concerns all, and will not go away until FIFA is totally decontaminated.


7 June, 2015

Convicted paedophile wins right to stay in Australia after judge substituted his own opinion for the judgment of the immigration minister

An unelected judge overruling an elected official?

A convicted paedophile has won the right to remain in Australia after the Federal Court ruled former immigration minister Scott Morrison erred when ordering his deportation.

The 60-year-old, who cannot be named, was convicted in Queensland in 2009 of three counts of indecently treating his granddaughter.

He was sentenced to two years' jail, suspended after six months.

The man was born in England and came to Australia when he was six years old.

He never applied for citizenship but his visa allowed him to remain here indefinitely.  However, in October 2014, Mr Morrison cancelled his visa.

Because the man was not an Australian citizen, the nature of his offences allowed Mr Morrison to make him a non-citizen because he failed the "character test".

The man was arrested at his Queensland home in November 2014 and taken to the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney.

He challenged the detention in the Federal Court arguing that he was denied natural justice.

The court ruled in his favour on Friday.

Justice John Logan quashed the decision to cancel his Australian visa and ordered his immediate release from Villawood. Further more the Government was ordered to pay costs.

Justice Logan noted Mr Morrison's actions were "not bizarre" but out of proportion.  He said it was a "jurisdictional error".  "The minister has, with respect, taken a sledgehammer to crack a nut," Justice Logan wrote in his judgment.

"His exercise of the discretion conferred on him was ... in excess of what was, in my view, necessary."


Australia singled out as a climate change 'free-rider' by international panel

Well-done, Australia!  To be criticized by an old fraud like Kofi Annan is a badge of merit

Australia has become a climate change "free-rider", dropping off the list of nations taking "credible" action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to a panel led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

In the Africa Progress Panel's 2015 report, Australia is named along with Canada, Japan and Russia as appearing "to have withdrawn from the community of nations seeking to tackle dangerous climate change".

Australia, with one of the world's highest per capita emissions, "has gone from leadership to free-rider status in climate diplomacy", it said.

The country was on course for emissions to rise 12-18 per cent above 2000 levels after scrapping the carbon price in 2014, compared with the promise of a 5 per cent reduction by decade's end.

A separate report on Thursday by energy consultants Pitt & Sherry said Australia's emissions had jumped 1.6 per cent in the first nine months after the scrapping of the carbon price in June 2014, led by a rebound in brown coal-fired electricity production. Emissions from coal, petroleum and natural gas use are all rising for the first time since November 2011.

Australia, the US and the European Union should be aiming for deep carbon cuts by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050, while China – the largest emitter – should bring forward its planned peak, the African report said.

While the report's main focus was on the energy needs of a continent home to 600 million people without access to electricity, it noted Africa has a keen interest in reducing global warming risks given its exposure to extreme weather and widespread poverty.

"No region has done less to contribute to the climate crisis, but no region will pay a higher price for failure to tackle it," Mr Annan said in the report.


Alan Bond: From national hero to corporate crook

When Alan Bond siphoned $30 million of the banks' money into winning the America's cup, many Australians saw that as a defensible transaction

Alan Bond, who has died aged 77, is best known for being the first non-American to win the coveted America's Cup sailing trophy, and as the biggest fraudster in Australian history.

But he kept hold of his vast ill-gotten fortune, through a secretive web of shelf companies and trusts scattered through tax havens from Switzerland to Rarotonga, all controlled by the mysterious Swiss banker Jurg Bollag.

Bond was a salesman beyond almost anything the world has ever witnessed.

Barren sand hills became prized assets to Japanese corporate giants, a blueprint for a petrochemical plan, and a block of scrubby land in the WA wilderness was an asset the state government just had to have.

But like many salesmen, he was a sucker for a deal. Whether it was Hong Kong's biggest office tower, a Gold Coast university, an historic English village or a national television network, Alan Bond was in the market.

At one stage he was duking it out with John Elliott for the title of Australia's beer baron.

Bond owned Castlemaine Tooheys, after getting his first taste for brewing through the purchase of WA's Swan Brewery while Elliott ran Carlton and United.

How did he do it? From a start as a sign writer?

The 80s heralded a new era in finance and banking. Deregulation and an invasion of foreign banks flooded the system with cash.

Money was not just easy. Bankers were banging down doors around the country, begging businessmen to take more.

Bond was happy to oblige. In an era with little transparency and minimal disclosure, he and his lieutenants paid themselves massive personal success fees every time they notched up a deal.

That was the secret to the private success. Good deal or bad, Bond raked off a massive fee from his own shareholders.

At the time, no-one cared. The bankers were delivered bonuses for extending the cash. Shareholders watched stock prices soar.

However you look at it, the 1983 America's Cup win was a masterstroke and probably the best publicity investment he ever made. It is still paying dividends.

Bond was the man who could do anything. He could harness Aussie ingenuity to beat the Yanks at their own game. He broke the longest winning streak in sport. He was a national hero.

That laid the groundwork for five years of hedonistic self-indulgence, tax avoidance on a grand scale and outright fraud.

Final conviction put him in a class of his own

It all came to an abrupt end on October 19, 1987. The merry-go-round stopped for most on the Black Monday crash. But not for Bond.

He bought the remnants of Robert Holmes à Court's damaged empire and plundered the coffers of almost every cent it had; $1.2 billion was siphoned off to plug holes in Bond Corp.

His private company Dallhold - which owned a little over half of Bond Corp - received generous payments from the public company along with art works by the likes of Manet.

Dallhold eventually collapsed owing more than half a billion dollars and Bond finally declared himself bankrupt in 1992 with personal debts of $600 million. He was convicted three times on criminal charges, one of which was overturned.

His final conviction in 1997 - for the theft of $1.2 billion from Bell Resources - put him in a class of his own when it comes to crime.

But there was never a hint of remorse or even an acknowledgement of wrong-doing. His family, meanwhile, ended up in control of a vast global property portfolio.

Eight years after his release, in 2008, he miraculously was back in the rich lists, worth an estimated $265 million with a string of mines across Africa, from Liberia to Mozambique.

A quarter of a century later, the aftershocks of his crimes continue to be the subject of judicial oversight.

Just last month, WA Treasurer Mike Nahan was considering legislation to ensure that a $1.7 billion insurance settlement - a case running through the courts for 20 years - finally would make its way to Bell Group creditors.

Still, that all pales into insignificance any time there is a mention of Ben Lexcen's winged keel and John Bertrand's brilliant tactics - which even had Bob Hawke fall off the wagon as he declared an unofficial public holiday.

C'mon Aussie C'mon. Come on.


Labor backs down on $3bn tax cut, which puts Budget surplus back on track

LABOR has agreed to support the government in abolishing a $3 billion tax cut.

The cut, essentially an increase in the tax-free threshold, was due to take effect from July 1 and had been part of Labor’s compensation package for the carbon tax.

Labor now says the cut is unaffordable and will cause a blowout in the forecast deficit.

Opposition frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite says Labor is taking a fiscally responsible approach by backing down.

“The budget’s in a dire position, the budget deficit in the government’s own budget papers increases from $17.1 billion to $35 billion over the forward estimates, even with this $3 billion saving being banked,” he told Sky News.

“This is a saving that we believe is in the interests of Australia and that’s why we’ve agreed to it.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has defended Labor’s backdown on a $3 billion tax cut saying it is no longer appropriate given the state of the federal budget.

Labor has agreed to support the government in abolishing the cut which it now says is unaffordable.

The cut would have boosted the tax free threshold from $18,200 to $19,400 from July 1. It was the last remnant of Labor’s carbon compensation package.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for the Labor Party,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“But given this is the government’s position not to have these tax cuts, and given the state of the budget deficit, the responsible thing for Labor to do is to give its support.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Labor’s backdown has helped put the budget surplus back on track.

By abolishing the tax-free threshold hike linked to Labor’s former carbon pricing levy, 10 million tax payers affected from July 1 will lose less than $2 a week, Mr Cormann said.

“The budget position is now improving, we are now on a believable pathway back to surplus,” he told reporters in Perth.

Mr Cormann said Labor had finally come to their senses.

“We call on (Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten and (opposition treasury spokesman) Chris Bowen not to stop here. Keep looking at the measures we’ve put forward to repair the budget mess you left behind.”


5 June, 2015

Whistleblowers Warn New Immigration Laws Will Boost Secrecy In Detention Centres

"New Matilda" reports below something that would normally be cause for alarm but fails to look at the bigger picture.  People who took airline flights to Indonesia from places like Pakistan and then got into boats to Australia are not impoverished and desperate refugees.  They are middle-income economic migrants who have deliberately flouted Australia's border controls, fully aware that they cannot reach the standards that Australia requires of immigrants. If it was refuge they needed, they already had it in Pakistan, Indonesia or any other Muslim country. Muslims have a duty of hospitality to fellow-Muslims.

As such they deserve no sympathy and tales of encountering hardship in Australia are likely to deter any others from coming.

I have no idea if such people are harshly treated by officials in detention centres but it seems clear that they do often treat one-another and everyone else badly.  They are unscrupulous Muslim lawbreakers after all.  It also seems clear that some claims of bad treatment arise from "plays" put on to deceive gullible observers and sympathetic Leftists, probably with the collusion of the Leftists concerned. Lying for a cause has always seemed OK for Leftists and Muslims.

So New Matilda has done us all a good turn below by amping up the apprehensions would-be illegals will feel when deciding where to go.  They now mainly seem to be going to countries in S.E. Asia, who are no pushovers.  When that option is recognized as too hard, we need for them not to reconsider Australia

Doctors and contractors who formerly worked in Australia’s immigration detention network say new legislation criminalising disclosures will have a chilling effect, and is designed to deliberately target those wishing to blow the whistle on the conditions and standards of care being provided to asylum seekers.

The Australian Border Force Bill passed the Senate in mid-May with little fanfare, and is ostensibly designed to consolidate Customs and the Border Protection Service into the Department of Immigration.

But the legislation also contained a new two-year jail sentence for employees in the Department and those working for contractors who publicly disclose information.

Dr Peter Young, a former senior employee at private health contractor IHMS – which provides medical services in on and offshore detention centres – told New Matilda there are not adequate pathways in place for whistleblowers to raise their concerns.  “I’m certainly very concerned that this legislation seems to further extend the secrecy and restrictions that affect staff working in immigration detention,” Dr Young said.

Head of Mental Health Services at IHMS for close to three years, Dr Young went public with his concerns about the impact prolonged detention was having on children, providing astounding testimony at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry in July 2014.

Aside from detailing incidents of self-harm among minors, Dr Young told the Commission he had been asked by the Department of Immigration to withdraw figures from IHMS reports that documented increased rates of psychological distress among children in detention.

Dr Young said policy makers who passed legislation discouraging whistleblowing were directly responsible for any harm that would occur as a result.  “I think that it will in some instances have a chilling effect, but the problem is that by introducing policies that make the system even more secretive and less transparent, it increases the risk of more abuse occurring and will inevitably result in more harm being done,” he said.

When the Border Force legislation was debated by the Senate, the Greens moved an amendment allowing disclosures that would not harm the public interest.  It was voted down by Labor and the Coalition, with Nick Xenophon the only non-Green to back it.

Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton as well as Labor MPs, have previously dismissed concerns now coming to the fore about the legislation’s implications for those wishing to speak out about detention centres and their operation.

Senator Kim Carr said Labor had not been consulted on the Greens’ amendment.  “Labor supports the existing whistleblower arrangements and would oppose any attempt to dilute those protections,” he said.

“The advice we have received is that this bill does not include any provisions that would prevent an employee of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, including the Australian Border Force, from making a public interest disclosure in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, which is the act that provides protection for whistleblowers.”

But that hasn’t reassured critics, who point to the fact the Public Interest Disclosure Act is relatively weak, and only sanctions a public disclosure where there is an “imminent danger to health or safety” – a very high bar.


'Blackbirding' shame yet to be acknowledged in Australia (?)

So says Emelda Davis, a Kanaka descendant. I fail to see what she is whining about.  She decries the recruiting of Kanakas from their islands and then decries sending them back. Can she have it both ways?  Not that I can see.

The undesirability of recruiting Pacific islanders to work in tropical Australia most certainly HAS been acknowledged in Australia. One of the first acts of the Australian Federal parliament was to pass a law prohibiting the practice and vigorous efforts were then made to return the Kanakas to the islands from whence they came.  Is that not acknowledgement enough or is some breastbeating now needed over 100 years later?

The Kanakas often went into hiding (sometimes among Aborigines) to AVOID being returned to Kanaky.  What does that tell us about the "cruelty" of bringing them to Australia? They obviously thought that the "cruelty" was worthwhile.  Not many avoided being returned but Emelda Davis is the descendant of some who did.  She should be thankful that her ancestors realized when they were on a good wicket

As for the Leftist myth that the recruitment of Kanakas was akin to slavery, it was anything but -- as responsible historians like Veliz and Windschuttle have pointed out, using documents from the time.  See here and here

Leftist historians are determined to convince us that our ancestors were brutes.  They were not.  If you want to find out what they were really like read Lawson's poem about the bullockies.  They were the men who opened up Australia to economic development and civilization.  My late grandfather was a bullocky and I remember him as being exactly like what Lawson described.  Unlike Leftist historians, Lawson knew what he was talking about.  He knew such men

As a second generation descendant of South Sea Islanders (kanaks) who were ruthlessly recruited (blackbirded) to serve in the most appalling conditions as plantation workers in the sugar industry of Australia, I am part of a family of activists who have sought to attain recognition and social justice for my people.

More than 55,000 people, mostly men, were brought from Vanuatu, the Solomons and eighty surrounding islands under what Australia called the indentured labour trade, which was akin to slavery. They were first brought to NSW in 1847 with an influx to Queensland between 1863 and 1904.

My grandfather was taken off the island of Tana in what is now the Tafea Province of Vanuatu in the late 1800s. He was one of the many children whose birth right of freedom was stripped from him at the age of 12 when he was taken to work in the sugar cane fields. He never returned home. The experience and belief of our South Sea Islander communities, passed down through oral histories, is that our forefathers were enslaved regardless of the pretence of contracts. Most definitely this was a legal framework for what was in fact criminal activity, which saw the early deaths of 30 per cent of these "labour recruits", buried in unmarked graves across north-eastern Australia.

It was illegal to bring children under the age of 16 unless accompanied by an adult. However, there are many community stories - including my grandfather's - which contradict those regulations.

In the 1995 documentary Sugar Slaves, my grandfather's story is told by his eldest surviving daughter, Phyllis Corowa. She describes how he escaped deportation from Australia by the 1901 Pacific Island Labourers Act, which inhumanely deported 7000 people en masse, tearing established families and loved ones apart after 40 years living in Australia.

University of Queensland professor Clive Moore has recently written of this; the wages of 15,000 deceased Islanders were used for this deportation and the low and hard-earned wages of the Islanders were used to pay part of their fare to return to the islands that in some cases had seen their entire male population kidnapped.

This was a cruel, heartless process and one of shame to all Australians.

It gives me great pleasure, however, to know that the efforts of my grandfather and our kanaka men and women contributed significantly to building the strong foundations of the sugar, pastoral and maritime industries in Australia and that we are now the third largest sugar provider in the world as well as being one of the wealthiest countries.

Our lobbying has been arduous and has fallen on deaf ears with trinkets of acknowledgement and funding. Our community is 40,000 strong, with 60 per cent Torres Strait Islanders of South Sea Islander descent due to the "labour trade" and the "Coming of the Light" (Christianity) via missionaries, and also east coast Aboriginal Australians, since 40 per cent of whom are married into or have Islander heritage.

Faith Bandler? and our patron, the Honourable Bonita Mabo?, are amongst the most distinguished of our elders and activists.

Part of our work is to establish a forum to assist Islander communities in the Pacific to gain access to meaningful work opportunities in Australia and to reconnect with our disposed families.

We have a long way to go for the successful establishment of the Islander people within that of the great nation of Australia. It is journey to empowerment that I am proud to be part of.


Marriage traditionalist targeted by activists

MercatorNet contributor and president of the Australian Marriage Forum, Dr David van Gend, returned from a family visit interstate yesterday to find his medical centre in Toowoomba, Queensland, vandalized with graffiti. His name was painted in black along the northern wall of his surgery, and in red letters, “BIGOT”. The matter has been reported to police.

“This sort of abuse is experienced by anybody who stands against the gay marriage juggernaut”, Dr van Gend said, “but usually it is from trolls online, not vandals on the wall of a medical centre.”

“Just the other day a good friend of mine, Lyle Shelton, who heads the Australian Christian Lobby, was called ‘a nauseating piece of filth’ by the political editor of Crikey magazine, Bernard Keane. The editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, reported on the Irish referendum and said ‘Ireland’s tolerant elite now demonise anyone who opposes gay marriage’”.

Dr van Gend is an experienced campaigner in bioethical and political issues and was not shaken by the incident. He used the opportunity to point out that defenders of traditional marriage are often reviled by supporters of same-sex marriage.

“This uncivil behaviour must be nipped in the bud in Australia. It is time for leaders of the homosexual marriage lobby in the Parliament, the community and the media, to condemn this demonizing of their opponents.

“I appreciate the expressions of concern I have received today after this episode”, Dr van Gend said, “but it is an honour to cop abuse when you are defending something as important as the life between mother, father and child. That is what is at stake with same-sex ‘marriage’: it institutionalises same-sex parenting, and that means future children will be forced to miss out on either their mother or their father.

“That is unjust, and that is why our side of the debate will keep defending the truth about marriage and family – especially when we get abused for doing so.”


English test should be mandatory for people wanting citizenship in Australia, says Liberal MP Sharman Stone

People wanting to become citizens in Australia should have to undertake an English language test, Liberal MP Sharman Stone says, in a push to overhaul the current citizenship requirements.

Would-be citizens are currently asked 20 questions in the Australian "citizenship test" about Australia's beliefs, values, its law system and Australian people. Questions are multiple choice and require a basic knowledge of English and Australian laws to pass it.

But Dr Stone says the requirements are "slack" and not rigorous enough, supporting a suggestion in a government discussion paper released last week that would require new citizens to sit an English exam before they are announced as Australians.

The paper also suggests "standardising English-language requirements, to ensure citizens have adequate language ability, taking into account particular circumstances such as age".

Dr Stone said it was not a benefit to the individual, nor for Australia, if people cannot speak English in Australia, drawing from experience at citizenship ceremonies in her Victorian electorate of Murray where she estimates a number of new citizens cannot read, write or speak basic English.

"The citizenship service is a mockery," she told Fairfax Media.

Knowing the basics of the English language is imperative for people to be able to participate in the Australian society, including voting, jury duty or understanding "Australian responsibilities", she said.

"It makes me very sorry when people who come into my office and say they need an interpreter and are feeling alienated," she said.

But Dr Stone said the requirement had "nothing to do with racism".

"This is about people coming to Australia from a non-English speaking background, [and] not necessarily to part and wave them through," she said.


Choice price survey crowns Aldi as Australia’s cheapest supermarket

As always, it pays to be an alert shopper.  Woolworths' canned tomatoes, for instance -- at 59c -- are way cheaper than anyone else's.  And since they are always used in cooking there are unlikely to be any detectable quality differences.  I use them in curry. Choice is what the big two offer. If you really like certain products -- like Jatz biscuits and shredded wheatmeal  biscuits -- as I do -- you won't find them at Aldi.

DISCOUNT grocer Aldi has been crowned cheapest supermarket in a major price survey as the popularity of private labels grows. A grocery basket at the German-owned chain was up to half the cost of major brands at Coles and Woolworths, a Choice study found.

But the dominant duo’s ‘own brand’ ranges can also save their customers at the checkout.

Coles and Woolies shoppers swapping leading brands for the heavyweights’ private label equivalents cut their bill by about a third, Choice said.

“Private labels such as Woolworths’ Select and Coles brand account for 21 per cent of packaged grocery sales in Australia. This will keep going north given cost of living concerns,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

“Reputation has improved, there are more gourmet products, and many people believe the quality is as good as name brands.

“The downside is this can impact choice if smaller or more niche brands are squeezed.”

Aldi’s basket averaged $87.68 nationally compared with big brands that cost $174.97 at Coles and $176.77 at Woolworths, excluding discounts.  IGA was most expensive at $188.61.

Olive oil, dishwasher tablets, laundry powder, frozen fish fillets and cheese blocks had the biggest price gaps.

The mid-tier Woolworths’ Select and Coles brand were used for most private label comparisons.

Choice recorded prices at 93 supermarkets across 17 Australian locations in March.

The basket of 31 items included three fresh foods and common purchases such as bread, cheese, chocolate, canned tuna, toilet paper and frozen peas.

Woolworths — which recently pledged to “neutralise” Coles on price and revamp budget private labels to better compete with Aldi — said comparing “a handful of products” was rarely an accurate way to judge prices.  “When you properly compare like for like products we offer customers a range that competes well,” it said.

Coles said households could save an average $570 annually shopping at the chain compared with six years ago, and it was “absolutely committed to further reducing prices”.

Recent Citi research found Aldi prices were 19 per cent lower than Coles brand but 23 per cent higher than Coles’ budget Smartbuy.

Aldi was 28 per cent cheaper than Woolworths’ Select, but 13 per cent more than Homebrand.


Aldi private label $87.68

Coles private label $114.24

Woolworths private label $119.40

Coles leading brands $174.97

Woolworths leading brands $176.77

Source: Choice. 28 leading-brand products or their private label equivalents across all three chains plus three fresh food items on March 7-8. Prices shown exclude specials.


4 June, 2015

Australia May Need to take in many Pacific islanders as their islands sink under the waves?

More nonsense from "New Matilda".  They quote all sorts of "authorities" who say that many low-lying islands will be flooded as global warming melts polar ice. Their reliance on authorities is amusing.  Leftism has always been authoritarian.  Once freed from democratic restraint, we see just how authoritarian.  What were Soviet Russia, Mao's China and Pol Pot's Kampuchea if not authoritarian?.  And the Kim dynasty in North Korea is still providing us with a graphic example of Leftist authoritarianism.

To any reasonable person, however, it is the facts that are the ultimate authority and the facts are pesky for the alarmists.  For a start, global warming stopped 18 years ago.  Even Warmist scientists like Jim Hansen recognize that.  They call the last 18 years a "pause" -- which acknowledges the halt but adds a prophecy that warming will resume.  But prophecies are so far from facts that they are almost always wrong.  So no warming means no flooded islands and no humanitarian crisis.

And even if warming does resume, it probably will not be a problem.  While there are thousands of articles online shouting the theory of submerging islands, the reality is a little different. 

Lots of low lying islands and shorelines have in fact been GROWING.  Gradual rises in sea-levels have been going on for a couple of hundred years as a correction to the little ice age but accretion of island-building material has more than cancelled that out in many places.  And it's not only Pacific islands that have been GAINING land mass.  It has even been happening in Bangladesh, contradicting many prophecies.  See here and here and here and here and here and here

Countries like Australia and New Zealand may have to provide special humanitarian visas and put in place international evacuation plans as less developed nations in the region are hit by “disasters on steroids” occurring as a result of man-made climate change, the United Nations has been told.

In a submission to the UN’s World Humanitarian Summit, the UNSW’s Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law has warned the impacts of anthropogenic warming are already being felt in the region, and that governments must prepare for large population displacements as the intensity of natural disasters increases.

“The people most affected are generally the most vulnerable already – the poor, living in environmentally precarious parts of the country, without the social networks or resources to get out of harm’s way early,” a written submission by the Centre’s director Jane McAdam said.

“Humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of disasters is essential, but it is ultimately a band-aid solution and is not enough.

“The cost of inaction will be higher than the cost of implementing measures to reduce displacement now, both in financial and human terms.”

Simon Bradshaw, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator at Oxfam Australia, said it was not clear what ongoing support Australia was providing to Pacific nations to help them deal with the threat of climate change.


Australia turned back 65 people on boat, including a pregnant woman, police chief says

Australian customs turned back 65 people, including a pregnant woman, after their boat reached Australian waters last Tuesday, according to an Indonesian police chief.

The 65 people from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, who reportedly claimed to be asylum seekers, are in detention on the Indonesian island of Rote.

Fishermen spotted two boats floating near Landuti island in the West Rote district, 500 kilometres north-east of the Australian coast, on Sunday.

"They looked exhausted," Rote police chief Hidayat said. "One female passenger is pregnant – we took her immediately to the hospital but she is ok now."

Mr Hidayat said the migrants told him they had been caught by Australian customs on May 26, who sunk their boat. They were put in two blue and white boats, and sent back into Indonesian waters.

"The Australians provided them with food, drinks and sufficient fuel to reach Indonesian land," Mr Hidayat said.

He said the passengers included four women and three toddlers. Of the 65, 54 were from Sri Lanka, 10 from Bangladesh and one from Myanmar.

Mr Hidayat denied reports the migrants were headed for New Zealand, saying his network said they wanted to go to Australia.

"Based on information, they started off from Pelabuhan Ratu (in West Java) on May 5 and about two weeks ago I got information from our network that this boat was headed for Australia," Mr Hidayat said.

"My friends in the Australian Federal Police of course don't believe it. They said it wanted to go to New Zealand but what would these people do in New Zealand?"

Mr Hidayat said Indonesian police had arrested four of the six crew members. The captain, Yohanes, ran away. "He's part of the smuggler network in Jakarta, according to the boat crews," Mr Hidayat said. There was confusion over the whereabouts of the sixth crew member, with some suggesting he was with Australian customs, although it was unclear what that meant.

West Timor Care Foundation chairman Ferdi Tanoni said the migrants were expected to be transferred on Tuesday to Kupang, West Timor's largest town and the capital of Nusa Tenggara Timur province.

"According to the chief of immigration, the information they received was that these people wanted to go to Australia to ask for asylum," Mr Tanoni told Fairfax Media.

Although there is an immigration detention centre on Kupang, Mr Tanoni said it was full and the asylum seekers were likely to be accommodated in hotels.

A spokesman for Immigration spokesman Peter Dutton said: "The Australian does not comment on matters associated with on-water operations."

The Australian navy has repeatedly turned back boats with asylum seekers on board after Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to power in 2013 vowing to "stop the boats".

The hardline tactic was also initially employed by Malaysia and Indonesia during the recent humanitarian crisis in the Bay of Bengal after boatloads of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were stranded at sea following a Thai crackdown on people trafficking.

The crackdown led to people smugglers abandoning the boats at sea, leading to deaths and starvation.

Malaysia and Indonesia later agreed to assist the migrants and asylum seekers and provide shelter for up to a year but insisted the international community had to help with their resettlement.


Australia GDP soars, but growth remains patchy

Growth usually is

Australia’s March quarter GDP report has just been released, and it’s come in well above expectations.

Over the quarter the economy grew by 0.9%, leaving the annual rate of growth at 2.3%. Analysts had been expecting a quarterly increase of 0.7% with annual growth of 2.0%.

While the headline figure topped expectations, the internals of the report were less convincing with the quarterly increase driven by a jump in inventories (+0.3ppts) and growth in export volumes (+0.5ppts). Surprisingly, final consumption expenditure, the biggest contributor to Australian economic growth, added just 0.4ppts to quarterly growth. Elsewhere general government expenditure added 0.1ppts while private fixed capital formation detracted 0.3ppts with weakness in non-dwelling construction, along machinery and equipment expenditure, overshadowing a 0.2ppts boost from private dwellings.

Although a reasonable quarterly result, ANZ economist Felicity Emmett believes the outlook for growth remains clouded.

“The outlook for business investment, both mining and non-mining remains weak. The drag from the wind back in mining investment still has a long way to run and is likely to be much sharper over coming quarters as large-scale LNG projects approach completion. Added to this is the recent weakness in non-mining investment intentions. And with growth in household consumption remaining soft, it’s difficult to see what will drive businesses to lift investment. While lower interest rates are helping with this transition at the margin, the missing ingredient seems to be confidence, both at the consumer and business level”.


Political fruit flies

So many politicians have evolved so quickly on same-sex marriage that it has become one of the greatest-ever experiments in Darwinian selection. US President Barack Obama took about four years to evolve. Three years later Hillary Clinton evolved within 72 hours of announcing her tilt at the presidency. It’s the political version of the ever-mutating virus in the film Contagion.

How is this possible? It took centuries, millennia, possibly millions of years for the evolution of a clear vision of marriage as a permanent, monogamous, loving, opposite-sex institution for raising the next generation of homo sapiens. And now, in a matter of weeks, Australian politicians are tumbling over themselves in their eagerness to pledge themselves to support a quantum leap in the evolution of human relationships.

The only adequate analogy for the pace of change is the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. From what I remember of high school biology, a fruit fly population can acquire new characteristics in a matter of weeks (although a penchant for same-sex unions is not yet one of them). One explanation is that their brains have only 100,000 neurons, compared to the 86 trillion possessed by the average human. Evolution is a snap if you are stupid.

Fruit flies also move in swarms, so it's not surprising that several Australian MPs have recently declared that they have seen the light, including the Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and Ed Husic, the nation's first Muslim MP. But the paradigm case is the evolution of Tony Burke, a leading figure in the Australian Labor Party and a Member of Parliament from Watson, a middle-income Sydney electorate. Until his party lost the last election, he was Federal Minister for Immigration.

Last week he announced that he, too, had evolved on same-sex marriage.

Why? Because voters in Watson desperately want a change? No. A Morgan poll of 2010 found that “anti-gay sentiment” was focused in several areas, including traditional Labor seats in Sydney's west and southwest like Watson. In fact, 32.5 percent of those polled in Watson said that they agreed with the statement “I believe homosexuality is immoral”. Only 36 percent agreed that homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children, compared to 70 percent in inner-city Sydney.

In 2011 all Federal MPs were required to consult their electorates about same-sex marriage. There was only a lukewarm response from constituents across the nation, suggesting, The Australian said, “there is still majority support for preserving marriage between a man and a woman”.

And in Tony Burke’s electorate? He didn’t bother to release the figures. As he brazenly declared in the history of his evolution, “the last time the campaign for marriage equality published seat by seat polling, the views in my part of Sydney were, as I had expected, the exact opposite of the national vote.”

So why has Mr Burke ignored the clear wishes of his electorate?

Is it because they are cave-dwellers? Because they are homophobes? Because they are morons? Perhaps all three at once? In his disdain for his homophobic, moronic, cave-dwelling constituents, Mr Burke whisks aside their wishes and declares loftily that: “The time has now come for the conversation in communities like mine to move to the fact that this change will occur.”

Yes, a politician paid about $200,000 a year to represent the wishes of his electorate really said that. What the Marxist poet Bertold Brecht put in the mouths of the cabal of crooks who ran East Germany in 1953 has come true in Canberra in 2015:

Some party hack decreed that the people
had lost the government's confidence …
If that is the case, would it not be simpler,
If the government simply dissolved the people
And elected another?

To be fair to Mr Burke, he does venture a reason: debating same-sex marriage would be “divisive”. People might say nasty, nasty things. “As this debate drags on in Australia,” he writes, “it is becoming harsher and angrier rather than kinder and gentler.”

Mr Burke’s neurons are misfiring. As Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, he knows a thing or two about being divisive. Sticking it to the Government is his bread and butter. You can even watch him on YouTube comparing the new Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop, to Dolores Umbridge, a character in the Harry Potter novels who looks like a large pale toad. 

Furthermore, a “kinder and gentler” Australia is a nice turn of phrase. But it’s not one that he invented. It comes from a speech by George H.W. Bush, the same speech in which he famously said, “Read my lips: no new taxes”. And guess what? Yup, there were new taxes. Unconscious plagiarism from a speech with the most famous political fib in American history inspires no confidence in Mr Burke’s honeyed words.

Naked political expediency, not conviction, explains the rapid evolution of Tony Burke and other politicians joining the conga-line of same-sex marriage supporters in Australia. He offers his constituents no other reason than “The best thing for community cohesion is for the debate to be settled and the law to be changed.”

Of the many obstacles to same-sex marriage he appears to be willfully ignorant: the welfare of children in same-sex unions, the denigration of motherhood, the probable commercialization of surrogacy, problems accommodating faith-based institutions, opening the door to polygamy (read about this in the New York Times), creating a generation of genetic orphans and on and on.

Can anyone really believe that the future of marriage is safe in the hands of MPs like Tony Burke? Politicians who despise the sentiments of their constituents and who treat traditional marriage as a chip in political poker are not fit to determine the future of such a momentous issue.

The only honourable political solution to the challenge of legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia is to put it to the voters, either through a plebiscite or by making it an issue in next year’s Federal election. Voters should have the last word on marriage, not politicians.


3 June, 2015

Waltzing "New Matilda" again:  Aborigines and Adam Goodes

The latest cannonade from the Matildas covers a lot of ground but I don't have time to comment on much of it so I will concentrate on the one issue that will get me most abused.  I find pompous and self-congratulatory Leftist rage amusing.

Matilda has a commentary on the aggressive charge towards opposition supporters by part-Aboriginal football player Adam Goodes.  It was said to be a war-dance but a prance was what it looked like to me.  An Aboriginal corroboree it was not.  It was a fairly hateful act of an ungracious player and I think the alleged Aboriginality of the action was an afterthought to excuse unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Compare what I have just said with the excerpt from the Matilda account below.  A very different story.  I have reproduced below all that the author said about the episode but there is no description of what Goodes did at all:  Only the vaguest of references.  We can't let reality get in the way of a hate opportunity, can we?  But I have watched the video of the episode a couple of times and have tried to describe exactly what I saw.  It was Goodes who was hateful.

The comment on Goodes was preceded by a wail about how badly blacks are doing generally -- and there is no doubt that they are doing very badly indeed by white standards.  But who is responsible for that?  The attendance of Aboriginal children at school is very patchy -- so much so that governments try to bribe Aboriginal parents to send their kids to school.  And the major talent of Aboriginal adults seems to be for sitting down.  They even get paid "sit down money" on occasions.

That Aborigines live very poorly by white standards has long attracted the interest of Australian governments.  And everything that could be tried has been tried -- from pernmissiveness to paternalism to just giving them things.  And nothing works.  Aboriginal behaviour patterns remain unchanged regardless of the government regimes adopted towards them.

There is something that DOES work, however.  I have had a fair bit to do with Aborigines over many years and I think most people who know much about them will admit that their behaviour has  deteriorated over the years.  I have known quite a few older Aborigines who dress well, take care of themselves generally and who could almost pass as whites.

Who were they?  They were Aborigines who had grown up on church missions. Aborigines are a very spiritual people in general and the Presbyterian church and others were influential in preaching a gospel that included not only the message of redemption from sin but also a message of redemption from Aboriginal ways.  The missionaries did not always do it consciously but they tried to make whites out of blacks.  And they had considerable success. The rampant alcoholism and abuse of women and children was rarely found on the missions.  And misbehaviour was greeted with a preachment on the resultant danger to your immortal soul.  As an atheist, I find that a bit amusing but it worked with a spiritual people.

Bring back the missionaries?  It won't happen. The only "correct" religion these days is Islam. So the bulk of the Aborigines will continue to suffer from the bigotry that denies them the one thing that might help them: Orthodox Christian Faith.

For the most part, sporting contests represent a safe space where white Australians can access black Australia, devoid of the uncomfortable truths that they have had to overcome on their path to sporting glory.

The athletic prowess of people like Greg Inglis, and Johnathan Thurston, Lance Franklin and Lewis Jetta, serves to overshadow the true reality in Aboriginal Australia – that we are behind on every health indicator, that we are shockingly over-represented in jailing rates, that our suicide and self-harm rates are a national emergency and that the rights to practice our culture and heritage are being severely undermined by governments all across the country.

The latest incident came yesterday, when Goodes celebrated a goal with an Indigenous war dance while playing against Carlton in the annual Indigenous Round.

The Daily Mail lead the charge with a shrieking headline “Goodes defends ‘war dance’ goal celebration that included pretending to throw a SPEAR at rival fans… triggering another race controversy”.

News Limited asked its readers this morning in an online poll: Did Goodes go “too far”?

The social media furore included allegations Goodes was unsportsmanlike, a wanker and aggressive.


School lunchbox inspections ‘perverse’

A University of Queensland health expert has labelled the practice of inspecting children’s lunchboxes at school as both “perverse” and unlikely to improve children’s health.

Associate Professor Michael Gard of the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences said hysteria about childhood obesity was fuelling a range of school-based practices that infringed the rights of parents to choose how they raise and care for children.

“Panic around obesity appears to trump all other concerns in the current climate,” Dr Gard said.  “Despite quite well-known data that Australian rates of childhood obesity have changed very little over the last 15 to 20 years, this is an issue that still tends to be discussed in breathlessly apocalyptic terms.

“Yes, too many children are overweight, but the hysteria we have created is out of proportion to the problem.  “As a result, we now have a kind of Wild West situation in which some schools, often with the best of intentions, have decided to take matters into their own hands.

“In this environment, the lunchbox inspection appears to have become a quite ‘normal’ and acceptable practice.”

Dr Gard, the author of the recently-published Schools and Public Health: Past, Present Future book, said he had spoken to many parents and teachers concerned about lunchbox ‘blitzes’.  He described it as an “invasive” practice, unlikely to deliver health benefits of any kind.

“We know that many health-related activities that happen in schools make a very marginal difference to children’s health, particularly in areas such as smoking and sex education,” Dr Gard said.

“Although widely used and popular among politicians and law enforcement, the US anti-drugs program DARE has been shown to be largely ineffective.

“Rather than making a difference to young people’s drug use, DARE’s value is symbolic because it allows people to stand up and point to what they are doing to address the problem.

“Lunchbox blitzes are similar in that they make sense in the context of obesity hysteria, but without any evidence that they improve health their real impact is to shame kids at school and embarrass or outrage parents at home.

“Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of the lunchbox inspection is that it seems to rest on the assumption that the teacher knows more about what children need and how they should be parented than parents themselves.”

Dr Gard said the concern about lunchbox inspections was part of a wider debate about the public health role of schools and how far public health concerns should be allowed to infringe on schools’ educational work.


I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I'm not a bigot)

We are told there are those in favour of same-sex marriage, and then there are the bigots. But allow me to make the case for traditional marriage as being between one man and one woman, writes Michael Jensen, rector at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point

The passing of the Irish referendum on same-sex marriage has triggered a round of Australian advocates announcing that it is now "our turn". We lag behind the UK, many European countries, some states in the US, and (perish the thought!) New Zealand, and we ought to get with the programme.

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, in line with the new ALP dogma, has announced that he is introducing a private members bill into Parliament next Monday. He has said:

"It's time for our laws to reflect the values of modern Australia and to include everyone as equals ... It's time for marriage equality. Whatever our religious views about marriage ... I believe we have to change this law which discriminates against adult couples on the basis of who they love."

How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.

But simply saying "it's time" doesn't make an argument. Neither does the need to keep up with the O'Haras, the Smiths, and the Pedersens. Neither does the support of TV stars, comedians, or even Bono. At best, these are arguments from fashion.

It is not even the case that "all the surveys say Australians want it" is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don't listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.

Could it be that if you haven't heard the case opposing a change to the marriage law, it is because the language of those advocating it has been so emotive that the contrary case can't be heard above the noise? Could it really be said that a civil disagreement has taken place? I am not confident that it has.

I would like to make the case for traditional marriage as being between one man and one woman; but to do so with some important qualifications.

One of them is this: if the Marriage Act changes, this is not the end of the world for me. There are greater causes in this world than this. I am more distressed by our inattention to children in detention, or our national greed problem, than by the possibility that the definition of marriage might be changed.

Another is that I stand adamantly against the bullying and vilification of people of minority sexual identities.

Nevertheless, I don't think that the case for change is anywhere near as convincing as its proponents think it is. The case has been made almost entirely in terms of "equality" and its alleged opposite: "discrimination". The argument is that applying the word "marriage" to some relationships and not to others is unequal treatment, and thus discrimination. These are both apparently self-evidently bad.

But it is the duty of the law to judiciously discriminate and to appropriately recognise difference with, at times, unequal treatment of things that are not the same. It isn't automatically wrong to discriminate per se.

In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly "equal" treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.

It will be called marriage, but it won't be marriage as we know it. It won't be "marriage equality": it will be an entirely new thing.

This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.

Now, I didn't pluck this definition from the sky, nor is it simply a piece of religious teaching. It is the meaning of marriage that emerges from all human cultures as they reflect on and experience what it is to be male and female. It is only in the last 15 years that anyone has seriously thought differently.

I prepare many couples for marriage each year. Most of them already cohabit. When I ask them about marriage, they almost always indicate that it is for them the beginning of a new family unit open to welcoming children.

A child is a tangible expression of our sexed twoness.

To remove the sexual specificity from the notion of marriage makes marriage not a realisation of the bodily difference between male and female that protects and dignifies each, but simply a matter of choice.

This is precisely what many pro-revision advocates themselves argue: that a new definition of marriage would establish marriage as a new thing altogether. As Brandeis University's E.J Graff puts it, a change in marriage law would mean that marriage would "ever after stand for sexual choice, for cutting the link between sex and diapers".

Instead of the particular orientation of marriage towards the bearing and nurture of children, we will have a kind of marriage in which the central reality is my emotional choice. It will be the triumph, in the end, of the will.

The revisionist case has not provided a clear and reasonable definition of marriage beyond saying that if two people want to call their relationship by that name, they should be able to by choice.

Now, having put that opinion forward, I fully recognise that there are many people of intelligence and good will who disagree. I do not expect to convince everyone. What I do hope is that my contribution here will not be derided as bigoted or homophobic out of hand, but that it will be seen as part of a civil discussion.


Global ranking underscores UQ’s international standing

Seeing both my son and I have degrees from UQ, this sort of report does tend to please me.  There are thousands of universities in the world so 51st is an honourable placing indeed

The University of Queensland is ranked 51st in the world for academic performance, according to the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) 2014-2015, by the Middle East Technical University.

UQ Acting Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Max Lu said the University was pleased to rise a place compared to last year’s URAP rankings, particularly given the competitive environment in higher education.

“The URAP result, along with other indicators such as UQ’s top position in the Nature Index and our position as the leading Australian university for research income, is further affirmation for the excellence of UQ researchers,” Professor Lu said.

“Importantly, our researchers work hard to translate excellent research into products and services that improve the quality of life for individuals and communities, and that benefit the economy, society and the environment.

“Strength in research gives our students an important competitive edge as they learning directly from leading academics and take advantage of UQ’s national and global standing, helping them in turn to transform the world around them.”

The URAP ranking looks at 2000 universities world-wide and is based on six academic performance indicators, including quality and quantity of publications and international research collaboration.

UQ has consolidated its global standing to be well within the top 100 in the world, with several rankings in the top 50, such as the US News and World Report (47) and QS placing (43).


Australian regional university builds China ties
The University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia, received a Westpac Australia-China Business Award (ACBA) on 28 May for providing quality education and training services to the Greater China region.
UOW was named the winner of the Education and Training category at the Awards Gala Dinner held at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.

Professor Joe Chicharo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy), said the award reflects on more than two decades of UOW’s strategic engagement with greater China.

“Our engagement spans deep collaborative partnerships with leading universities, research organisations and industry bodies. We also partner with government officials on professional development initiatives, providing tailored training programs in business and public administration for Beijing Municipal Government officials,” Professor Chicharo said.

Importantly, UOW was the first non-Chinese academic institution to collaborate with Baosteel, the largest government-owned steel company in China. This collaboration incorporates the AUD25 million Baosteel-Australia Joint Research Centre.

UOW has also enjoyed great success when collaborating with Beihang University. The two institutions won the Solar Decathlon China in 2013.

UOW has also fostered a teaching partnership with Zhengzhou University for more than 11 years. This partnership has seen more than 2,000 people graduate from a program with a teaching model labeled by China’s Ministry of Education as one of the most innovative and mutually beneficial models of collaboration with an international university.

In November 2014, UOW formed a strategic alliance with the Community College of City University (CCCU) in Hong Kong.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, said the ACBA award was an important recognition of the University’s growing engagement with China.

”China is Australia's largest trading partner and higher education is a key part of the trade activity. The University of Wollongong is determined to be at the forefront of deepening bilateral education, business and cultural ties between our two countries  as we develop a new generation of talent to create growth in Hong Kong and Greater China more broadly,” Professor Wellings said.


2 June, 2015

Australia to Continue Military Patrols in South China Sea

Defense Minister Kevin Andrews says Australia won’t bow to pressure from China

The Australian government has asserted its right to fly military patrols over contested South China Sea islands claimed by Beijing, but said on Sunday it hadn’t had formal talks with the U.S. on naval missions as a direct challenge to Chinese muscle-flexing.

Australia’s Defense Minister Kevin Andrews, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal from Singapore, said Canberra had sent long-range maritime patrol aircraft over the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, and would continue to do so despite the potential for obstruction from China.

“We’ve been doing it for decades, we’re doing it currently…and we’ll continue to do it into the future,” Mr. Andrews said, in one of his first foreign press interviews since assuming responsibility for Australia’s military during a Cabinet shake-up in Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s conservative government last year.

“We don’t see there’ll be any change to that operation. It’s been a long-term operation and it’s been well known by all the countries in the region,” Mr. Andrews said.

Top U.S. Navy and Marine commanders in the Pacific have been urging close-ally Australia since last year to consider joining multilateral naval policing missions in the South China Sea, potentially alongside Washington’s chief regional ally Japan, helping to reinforce the rebalance of U.S. forces to the Asia region.

But that pressure has taken a sharper edge since China began constructing artificial islands in waters claimed also by other regional nations, with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter calling on Saturday for “an immediate and lasting halt” to the expansion.

Australia Prime Minister would be briefed on security developments within the region in coming weeks, local newspapers said last week, in what could presage a change in Canberra’s position of urging all regional nations to avoid coercive action changing the South China Sea status quo.

Australia’s government is currently producing a new strategic blueprint which, when completed later this year, will guide Canberra’s approach to alliances and regional flash points. The country is also modernizing its navy and air force with new submarines, destroyers, frigates, amphibious carriers and fighter aircraft.

Mr. Andrews, who met with Mr. Carter and Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani on the sidelines of a strategic summit in Singapore on Saturday, said Australia taking a role in multilateral naval patrols had not yet come up in talks with his American counterparts.

“The U.S. haven’t talked to us about this,” he said. “At this stage, there’s been no request from the U.S. in that regard.”

Sources in both the U.S. and Australian military said talks on so-called “freedom of navigation” missions had so far been at lower levels, with the U.S. still sounding out its close ally on patrols that for Canberra could risk trade and diplomatic ties with Beijing, its major trade partner.

“Asking formally at ministerial level risks being told no,” said Peter Dean, an analyst at the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre at the Australian National University. “Australia is still making up its mind.”

Mr. Andrews said it was too early to be talking about multilateral naval patrols, given his U.S. counterpart had only laid out Washington’s position on Saturday. He said he had also met recently with China’s top envoy to Canberra.

Approval for Australia to take a role in multilateral patrolling would also, he said, require approval from senior security ministers inside Mr. Abbott’s Cabinet.

“We believe that it’s in the interests of all countries to ensure a free an unencumbered transit through international waters, which includes the South China Sea, and we will continue to transit the South China Sea including surveillance operations that we’ve been doing for close to 35 years,” he said.


Labor MP Cesar Melhem demanded money to boost union membership, inquiry hears

THE scandal surrounding Labor MP and former union boss Cesar Melhem has widened, with another company claiming that he demanded money to boost membership.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has heard that Mr Melhem made deals with companies to artificially boost union membership when he was head of the Australian Workers Union in Victoria.

Labour hire company BMD revealed today that it paid $14,300 in 2007 and $19,800 in 2010 to keep peace with Mr Melhem and the union during pay deal negotiations.

BMD also sent the AWU a list of all its employees, some of whom were added to the union’s membership without their knowledge.

Jeremy Stoljar, counsel assisting the commission, said that he would investigated the motivations for BMD’s payments to the union.  “Did the AWU’s efforts to get additional members on its register come at the expense of its existing members,” Mr Stoljar asked.

He said he would probe whether some people were signed up when they were not “truly” union members.  “It will also investigate whether persons at the AWU created or caused to be created false accounting records to conceal this fact,” he said.

Mr Melhem will be grilled by the Royal Commission into union corruption next week.

His replacement Ben Davis, who refused to pay for his legal advice, will also go before the commissioner.

Mr Melhem has also been accused in the commission hearing of signing a deal with Cleanevent that left workers $27 an hour worse off in exchange for $25,000 payments for union memberships.


Union rules keep the young unemployed

Youth unemployment in Australia is a ballooning issue that needs to be properly addressed.  Over half a million young Australians are not in employment, education or training.

Although targeted assistance to help make ends meet and address skill shortages should not be ruled out, other market-oriented approaches must be part of the solution.

For starters, an effective way to deal with the problem in Australia would be to get rid of our byzantine system of industrial relation awards, which demands prohibitive penalty rates for young workers.

There is no compelling ethical cause for such a hindrance to youth job creation.

For young students, weekend and night shifts are predominantly the only feasible ones that do not clash with class times. For someone who is not in employment, education or training, and probably struggling to make ends meet, a Sunday work shift cannot be not deemed a plausible inconvenience. It is in fact a real blessing in which vital work ethics and basic professional skills (team work, discipline and maturity) are developed -- not to mention the extra income.

Due to a prohibitive penalty rate regime, the minimum casual pay for a 20-year-old in the lowest employee level in the fast food industry is $29/hr on a Sunday (or a substantial $46/hr on public holidays). Similar pay levels (if not higher) can also be found in many other industries that are a gateway for young job starters.

These exorbitant price floors certainly do not help the youth unemployment cause. In fact, both employers and potential young workers are penalised as would-be job positions are shut due to such interventionist, unnecessary regulation constraints.

More choice and freedom to contract at whatever rates please both parties would be the best (and fairest) form to assist young jobseekers to put a foot in the labour market. After all, there is no better welfare program than a job.


Muslim integration

The old processes do not always work

 The new appointments to counter home-grown terrorism are a clever and politically astute move that will facilitate the national debate we need to have about Islamist radicalisation.

Australia has a long and successful track record of integrating migrants. Welcoming attitudes on the whole, combined with the determination of newcomers to make a go of life in their adopted country, mean that most migrants have self-integrated without threatening social cohesion.

Yet it appears this process has gone wrong with a significant minority of Australian Muslims. This is a difficult issue to discuss because many in the community are uncomfortable about singling out ethnic or religious groups. Hence those who raise the subject of Muslim integration are often accused of bigotry and racism.

The fact that we now have a Minister for Counter-Terrorism sends the powerful message that discussing these issues is legitimate and important. But what the policy response should be to prevent radicalisation is the more difficult question.

Part of the problem is that the integration of migrants has largely been an informal process. Common schools, shared places of worship, and inter-marriage are among the key factors that have successfully helped knit the social fabric across racial and cultural lines.

The workplace has also been an important place where barriers have been broken down and people from different backgrounds have learned to get along. Many Muslims are not exposed to these forces because they worship at the local mosque, attend Islamic schools, and marry only other Muslims.

Attention has thus been drawn to high unemployment among certain Muslim groups to suggest that social disadvantage is the major cause of radicalisation. Many are attracted to the 'disadvantage causes radicalisation' thesis but this avoids the need to think about the role played by religion.

Because secular elites tend not to take religious belief seriously as a social and political force, they assume that others also treat religion as essentially a private matter. But we can hardly dismiss the importance of religious motivations when we are considering what to do about self-professed jihadists.


1 June, 2015

"New Matilda"

"New Matilda" is an Australian far-Left site that often amuses me by its crookedness.  I have therefore put up a separate site on which I gather together my derisive comments on their emissions.  It's called: Laughing at "New Matilda"


Five current articles below

The Church of England and Divestment from coal

Grant Goldman broadcast this editorial on Radio 2SM and the Super Radio Network at 7.10am Friday 29 May 2015

As we discussed yesterday the Church of England is part of a push to reduce Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions compared with 1990 levels by the draconian figure of 80% in the next fifteen years, which would make Australia unable to feed, house and clothe Australians.

In Britain, North America and Australia the Church of England has declared war on coal, through a combination of divestment programs and propaganda from the pulpit.

Time for some facts about coal. The gerontologist and evolutionary biologist Caleb Finch tells us that since the early 1800s life expectancy in Europe has doubled. The single greatest factor in the longevity revolution has been coal. Beginning in the eighteenth century and accelerating into the nineteenth century, coal made possible stunning increases in productivity.

Coal saved from destruction the forests of Britain which by the mid-eighteenth century were rapidly disappearing. Coal dramatically reduced pollution caused by cooking and heating with wood and animal dung. Coal permitted large scale smelting of metals. Coal made possible modern medical science and modern agriculture. Coal opened the way to commerce and freedom of movement on a scale never before imagined.

Thanks to coal, for the very first time ordinary workers who were not members of the aristocracy nor of the clergy had leisure time. Life was still tough, but thanks to coal life rapidly improved. Instead of being permanently enslaved to tasks like collecting wood to heat and to cook, women had the opportunity to learn to read and become educated or musical or artistic or political or charitable as they wished.

Coal made possible the growth of democratic institutions and, vitally important, the abolition of slavery. Nineteenth century Britain saw the flowering of culture with bands, orchestras, choirs, drama societies, literary societies, trade unions, and, of course, the flowering of the Church of England. I’ll mention some of the great hymnists of the late eighteenth century and the nineteenth century. In chronological order:

John Wesley (1703-1791)
Edward Perronet (1726-1792)
William Cowper 1731-1800
John Newton (1725-1807),
Reginald Heiber (1783-1826 v
Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1886)
Matthew Bridges (1800-1894)
Carl Gustav Boberg (1859-1940)

Thanks to coal, hymn books could be printed cheaply and thanks to coal there were trees left in the land to make the paper.

In Britain by 1860 around 400,000 coal industry workers were each producing around 175 tonnes of coal in a year for an annual total of seventy million tonnes of coal. In 1913 around 1,100,000 coal industry workers were each producing around 264 tonnes of coal in a year for a total of 290 million tonnes. This great increase in coal production coincided with wonderful progress in every aspect of society. People lived longer, ate better and their purchasing power increased year by year.

As the twentieth century dawned, coal was already popularising the wonderful blessing of electricity. The former major disadvantage of coal-fired power – sulphur dioxide emissions – was overcome with fluidised bed combustion using limestone, and coal has continued as the world mainstay of electrical power.

Tragically, 1.3 billion people – eighteen percent of the world’s population – have no access to electricity and so are deprived of all the wonderful things we take for granted. Expansion of coal production is vital as part of the energy mix necessary to offer the poor and disadvantaged of the world an escape route from poverty, misery and short life spans.

By declaring war on coal, people who purport to represent the Church of England are committing a terrible crime against the world’s poorest people.

My suggestion to the people purporting to lead the Church of England is re-read the Parable of the Talents. It’s still there in Matthew Chapter 25, verses 14 to 30.


The $9b waste that is Australia's solar industry

It's been dubbed 'middle class welfare' of the first order, since it is typically only wealthy households that can afford to install photovoltaic (PV) solar systems, with the higher power costs hurting low income households and renters, neither of which benefit.

As a result, the Grattan Institute reckons it ranks among the worst government disasters of recent years with as much as $9 billion of the $14 billion spent on rooftop solar systems in Australia wasted.

In raw numbers, Queensland - especially the south-east around Brisbane and the Gold Coast, has led the way with the introduction of solar systems, followed by NSW and Victoria.

Splitting the data up to look at the underlying distribution by household, then more than a third of households in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth have solar, easily outstripping the more populous states.

But apart from the 'feelgood factor' does solar really make that much of a difference? Most solar electricity is produced around the middle of the day which pushes down wholesale electricity prices and hurts the big carbon emitting power generators, but solar doesn't help much at the peak demand period for electricity in the late afternoon and early evening.

And despite the optimism of its supporters, only around half of all houses may be suitable for solar systems, AGL reckons. But while the take up has been high thanks to government subsidies, only a modest portion have solar systems installed.

On AGL's numbers, without subsidies and if the changes to the network charges being debated take effect, then it could take around thirteen years for a solar system to cover the cost of purchase and installation.

But that may change if solar PV prices continue to slide, as many predict. But the real cut through for solar will come if it manages to boost the efficiency of converting solar heat into energy, which remains low.

The Grattan Institute reckons greater savings in carbon emissions could have been achieved far more efficiently with other policy measures, than the solar subsidies.

Germany also had heavy subsidies for the introduction of solar for a time, but because its subsidies applied not just to households but also industry, more than 85 per cent of its solar come from systems of more than ten kilowatts, while in Australia more than 90 per cent of the systems are small household systems. So Germany now has a quarter of global installed solar capacity, the Grattan Researchers say.

"Government's have created a policy mess which should never be repeated," it said in a study released on Monday.


Australia welcomes UNESCO decision on Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef will not be listed as endangered but will remain under watch because of "major threats" to its health, a draft recommendation to the UN's World Heritage Committee says.

The federal and Queensland governments have welcomed the draft report released by UNESCO on Friday, with Environment Minister Greg Hunt calling it "an overwhelming endorsement" of their approaches to reef protection.

But environmental groups say the report puts both governments on notice to deliver on their promises to protect the reef.

The UN's conservation agency said it noted "with concern" the state of the reef which has had World Heritage Site status since 1981.

UNESCO warned that the "in danger" label wasn't off the cards as "the overall outlook is poor" and it urged Australia "to rigorously implement all of its commitments" and submit a progress report by December 2016.

The report said measures that represent significant progress to protect the reef included restoring water quality, "restricting major port development" and "a permanent ban on dumping of dredged material".

Mr Hunt welcomed the report, saying it recognised the "unprecedented" work by the federal and Queensland governments to protect the reef, including a ban on the dumping of dredge material and port development restrictions.

"Indeed, all references to in danger have been dropped and Australia and Queensland's efforts have been praised," he said in a joint statement with Queensland's Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Environment Minister Steven Miles.

"This is an overwhelming endorsement, but we want to make sure that we keep the pressure up on ourselves and inviting a little bit of long-term international scrutiny, I think, is a very valuable thing,"

Ms Trad said the decision reflected the commitment made by the Palaszczuk government.

"We were elected with a mandate to save the reef for generations to come and we intend to deliver on those promises," she said.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council said listing the reef as "in danger" would have been catastrophic for the tourism industry, as it would have discouraged tourists.

The Queensland Resources Council said the report recognised Australia's huge strides in the management of the site.

But Greenpeace said the decision by UNESCO to demand a report on progress within 18 months showed the federal and Queensland governments were on notice.

"The Australian government can't talk about protecting the reef while aggressively supporting the licensing of mega-mine and expansion of coal ports along the Great Barrier Reef coast," said Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Reef campaigner.

WWF-Australia's CEO Dermot O'Gorman also pointed to the measures demanded of Australia in the draft decision.

"The Australian and Queensland governments must now deliver on their promises to better protect the reef,"he said in a statement.

The 21 nations in UNESCO's World Heritage Committee will decide whether to accept the report's recommendations at a meeting in Germany at the end of June.


The green movement’s role in the sorry Reef debacle exposes them as frauds

Last week’s UNESCO report accepted that enough has been done by Australia to stop the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
THOSE conservationists and wacky scientists who waged a jihad against Queensland by falsely claiming that the Great Barrier Reef was in danger because of degradation and over-development should leave the state and go and live somewhere else.

With UNESCO giving the Reef a clean bill of health in a long-awaited report, the likes of Greenpeace, WWF, GetUp and the Australian Marine Conservation Society have been discredited and should not be permitted to peddle their lies in Queensland. In fact, the green movement’s role in this sorry debacle exposes them as frauds.

The UNESCO report accepted that enough has been done by Australia to stop the destruction of the Reef. The trigger for the UNESCO probe was the Port of Gladstone expansion to cater for the boom in coal and coal seam gas exports, featuring the biggest dredging project in Australia’s history. Despite heavy conditions and environmental regulations, the greenies jumped on the issue which allowed them to link coal exports to climate change and the Reef.

For the Queensland tourism industry, the possibility of a UNESCO listing of the Great Barrier Reef as endangered would have had catastrophic implications for the state. It would have sent a message to tourists that the Reef had lost its lustre. But of course, the conservationists don’t have time for the trivialities of an industry worth billions every year to the economy.

Cult-like zealotry to save the world from capitalism is all-consuming and factoring in economic effects is not part of the charter. The Greens are a major threat to the Queensland economy, fuelled by the Labor Left’s love affair
with the movement and its capacity to stop progress.

Most Greens in Queensland are watermelons – green on the outside and red in the middle. They tend to take a BANANA approach (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) to development, Their warped ideology and passion for power won’t allow them to even see, for example, a cruise ship terminal built on the Gold Coast. Not the Broadwater, not The Spit, not anywhere, thanks very much.

The Great Barrier Reef tick of approval from UNESCO has exposed the state’s eco-warriors as the kings of deceit and lies. They should not be given a platform for their views because they have proven they are not capable of being honest and candid. This win-at-all costs mentality is dangerous and their currency has now depreciated to the point where we can’t believe a word they say


Australia primed as heartland for battery-storage revolution

Low cost, high capacity batteries alone could make solar and wind power viable but we are still a long way off that

The battery-storage wars are breaking out, with Australia in the thick of it. Tesla, while the highest profile, will not be short of combatants.

The mass popularity of rooftop solar – more than a third of Queensland houses have solar PV – and the way people pay for the power make Australia a much more attractive market than the United States.

Raghu Belur, co-founder of Silicon Valley start-up Enphase Energy, which will launch its home battery in Australia in early 2016, points to the wide gap between the typical "feed-in" tariff that a household in Australia will receive for its excess solar power and the price of power from the grid.

Prices for mains-supplied power more than four times as much as the feed-in tariff in some cases make battery storage worth a look.

Not so in the US, where electricity is charged by "net metering", so a household will pay for the power consumed from the grid over a set period of time, less any electricity they generate themselves.

The US battery market, for now at least, will be driven mostly by demand for back-up power, not economics, Belur says.

No surprise, then, about Tesla's early focus on Australia for its Powerwall system, with its sleek, coloured wall-mounted 7-kilowatt-hour or 10kWh batteries to be available in 2016.

Bernstein Research, a bull on the lithium-ion battery space, says that at $US350 ($455.46) a kilowatt hour installed capacity for the 10kWh model, Powerwall is well below the $US550/kWh it had been modelling for storage costs. In optimal conditions, Powerwall could supply power at US27¢ a kilowatt hour, ranking Tesla on the scale – though admittedly at the high end – of residential retail power prices in large markets around the world.

Bernstein describes Tesla's system as already "modestly attractive" in Australia – the 20¢ a kilowatt hour spread between wholesale and retail power prices gives a five-year payback.

But the Grattan Institute puts the realistic cost of a Tesla battery, including inverter, charger and installation, at more than $7000 in 2017, too expensive for most. It says the price would have to fall to about $1600 before it made economic sense in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and by more in other cities.

Yet lithium-ion battery costs have fallen 94 per cent since 1991, while the energy packed into them per kilogram has increased. Bernstein sees usage costs continuing to fall by 20 per cent a year, cannibalising competing technologies for the next decade.

Belur won't talk dollar costs yet for Enphase's 1.2kWh battery, which comes with built-in inverter and software to communicate with the grid. But he insists that all up, the "plug and play" system will be competitive with Powerwall. Australia will be its global launchpad.

Meanwhile, Panasonic, a battery supplier for Powerwall and one of the "big three" lithium ion players alongside Samsung SDI and LG Chem, will launch next week an alliance with Australian electricity retailers targeting home storage.

Yet to be seen is how these suppliers align with local retailers. AGL Energy launched recently a 6kWh lithium-ion battery and is due to make larger sizes available later in 2015. Origin Energy is understood to be bringing forward its battery launch plans, potentially to the third quarter, while EnergyAustralia is in talks with Enphase on its battery, to add to their solar panel alliance.


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."

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Western Heart"


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: