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, 2016

Shorten does a complete backflip on homosexual marriage issue

Bill Shorten told religious leaders and Christian voters in the final days of the 2013 election campaign that he was "completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite" on same-sex marriage.

In video footage ­obtained by The Australian, the ­Opposition Leader outlined a position that is in stark contrast to his claims ­yesterday that a plebiscite would be a taxpayer-funded platform to give a "green light" to ­homophobia and hate.

Mr Shorten told the Australian Christian Lobby forum in his electorate that he preferred "the Australian people make their view known" to the 150 MPs in federal parliament. "Personally speaking, I’m completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite," he said. "I’d be wary of trying to use a referendum and a constitutional mechanism to start tampering with the Marriage Act.

"But in terms of a plebiscite — I would rather the people of Aust­ralia could make their view clear on this than leaving this issue to 150 people."

He told the Christian forum, which was webcast, he supported same-sex marriage and did not support a referendum but he did not think parliament would act.

Mr Shorten said "gay marriage" was not the reason he ran for parliament and that "I would rather that I didn’t have to address the question". He said he preferred a vote in parliament but he could not see it voting for change for a long time. "I believe that you should allow the parliament, if that’s what has to happen, to make a determination on this question," he said.

He then explained that he was relaxed about a plebiscite.

Mr Shorten, the then education minister in the Rudd government, made his comments in his Melbourne seat of Maribyrnong at the Essendon Baptist church in the final week of the 2013 election campaign. Last night he told The Australian he had changed his mind on a same-sex marriage plebiscite since the last election.

In recent days, as he faces increasing pressure on economic plans and budget costings, Mr Shorten has turned opposition to the Coalition plan for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage into a key priority along with his Medicare scare campaign.

Mr Shorten used his final election address to the National Press Club yesterday to pledge Labor’s first act would be to introduce a same-sex marriage bill into parliament and accused Malcolm Turnbull of settling for a "second-best option" of a plebiscite because of a "grubby deal with the right wing of the Liberal Party". He repeated his attack that the proposal for a same-sex marriage plebiscite would be a "taxpayer-funded ­platform for homophobia" and ­refused to say if Labor in opposition would pass the proposal through the Senate.

He also used the plebiscite commitment — made by Tony Abbott as prime minister and adopted by Mr Turnbull — to accuse Mr Turnbull of weakness and allowing a "green light" for homophobia and hate. "Why on earth can’t the Liberal Party just let their politicians do their day job rather than (spending) $160 million (on a plebiscite) to make up for Mr Turnbull’s deal to become the leader of the Liberal Party," he said. "Mr Turnbull knows that he’s come up with the second-best ­option. He knows if he had his way, if he was genuinely leading the Liberal Party, if he was actually the man in charge rather than simply the guy who is the front for the Liberal Party, then he would go for a vote in parliament."

Mr Shorten said last night he had changed his mind because of the experience overseas, particularly in Ireland, where "hateful" campaigns had been run.

"Over the last few years, I’ve seen harmful advertising campaigns run off the back of plebiscites and referendums overseas — I can’t ignore that," he said.

"The Irish experience convinced me that a plebiscite is the wrong way to go over here. The debate has moved on since 2013 — there’s no doubt whatsoever Australians now overwhelmingly support marriage equality, we don’t need a plebiscite to tell us that. As leader, I’ve learned how significant this issue is for so many Australians. Malcolm Turnbull thinks so too, he’s said as much. It’s just he’s not prepared to do anything about it," he said.

At the ALP national conference last year the left wing of the Labor Party agreed to change the policy on offshore processing of asylum-seekers and consider boat turnbacks in return for right-wing support for same-sex marriage.

Mr Shorten pledged yesterday: "The first piece of legislation I introduce into the 45th parliament will be a bill to amend the Marriage Act. I promise Australians that if and when we’re elected, within the first 100 days we will legislate for marriage equality, it will be a conscience vote and it will happen. No $160m plebiscite, no hurtful, hateful government-sponsored advertising campaign for us."

Mr Shorten said there would be "civil war" in the Liberal Party over the plebiscite if the Coalition were re-elected and Mr Turnbull could not convince his cabinet ministers to abide by the plebiscite decision. Scott Morrison, who is opposed to same-sex marriage said he supported a plebiscite and would accept the national result.


Thuggery from members of Victoria's extremist firemen's union

THREE firefighters have ­allegedly threatened to tear down a sign supporting the CFA and calling for voters to "Put Labor Last" in an intimidating move just days out from the federal election.

The officers, wearing station uniform, barged into a poultry business in Dandenong on Monday and the owner says they demanded the business remove the sign.

The owner, who speaks little English, was left frightened and directed the fireys to a nearby garage, saying its owner had organised the sign.

Security footage obtained by the Herald Sun shows the trio enter the workshop at 2.47pm where they confront the owner, allegedly demanding to know how he votes and reminding him "who puts your fires out".

The owner said he had helped secure the space for the 2m x 4m sign but that it wasn’t his sign to remove.

"It was pretty clear what they wanted," the businessman, who did not want to be named, said. "They said, ‘you take it down or we will’."

When he tried to take a photograph of one of the firefighters on his phone, he said the man tried to snatch it.

"I couldn’t believe it. They came in all nice and sweet but that quickly changed," he said. "It just came out of the blue."


Greens self-serving Trots: ex-PM Keating

Keating is right about that. The Greens are full of ex-Trotskyites

Former prime minister Paul Keating has used a Labor rally to turn his caustic wit on the Greens Party, labelling it "a bunch of opportunists and Trots" splitting the progressive vote.

In his first public address of the 2016 election campaign, Mr Keating told the Sydney crowd the Greens were reducing Labor's ability to form government.

"They're a protest party, not a party of government, but their game is to nobble the party of government that can actually make changes," Mr Keating said.

"You can't be a government when you've got a bunch tearing away at you, trying to pinch a seat here and there, all to make themselves look important."

Mr Keating addressed the rally in aid of fellow Labor stalwart Anthony Albanese, who is under pressure in his inner-western Sydney seat of Grayndler.

The seat has come under sustained Greens attack after AEC redistributions cut the traditional working-class stronghold of Marrickville, as well as Mr Albanese's home and office, from the electorate.

He is facing Greens candidate Jim Casey, a former firefighter and Fire Brigade Employees' Union secretary.

Mr Albanese, who labelled Mr Keating "Australia's greatest treasurer", said the Greens were taking the public funding from every NSW seat solely to attack him.

"They're outspending us two to one in this seat. There's billboards everywhere," Mr Albanese said.

Mr Keating castigated the Greens for positioning themselves as the true Australian progressive party, saying it was Labor who introduced legislation to protect the Daintree, Jervis Bay and Antarctica.

The Greens had also failed the environment by blocking Labor's emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2009.

"They purloined the name Greens. We're more green than they are," he said. "Ratting on Rudd with the ETS scheme and walking away from the Malaysia Solution, things that required a bit of courage ... they could've been the Yellows."

Turning to the economy, Mr Keating said leaving the economic lifting to central banks through monetary policy had become increasingly ineffective.

He said the onus now fell on governments to intervene with infrastructure spending and public service provision.

"Governments have tucked themselves away and let central banks lower interest rates in the hope, like lighting a match, if you strike it enough there might be a flame," Mr Keating said.

"The market system which I participated in as treasurer, where we opened the economy up, we basically reduced the size of government to let all these forces go.

"We're now at a point in economic history in Australia and around the world where that system is going nowhere."

Mr Keating's appearance comes just a day after criticising the government's proposed company tax cuts in a letter to the Australian Financial Review.


Andrew Bolt's book triggers staff. Bookshops now safe spaces, it seems

Disappointing, but not at all surprising, that some Australian bookshops are making Andrew Bolt's new book hard to find for customers. The purported reason is that it offends some of the poor snowflakes working there. I'm sure that's true in a lot of cases. There are many students and young 'uns employed in these shops, after all. They have grown up being fed PC BS, and accept it as gospel. They see Bolta as the quintessence of eeevil.

But I think it might also be partially a top down directive. Booksellers often have cozy relationships with the big international publishers after all. And Worth Fighting For is published by Wilkinson Publishing. They've been around a while but they seem to be a local outfit. Maybe there's a desire to not be seen as rocking the boat by pushing an independent's product?

The reason I say this is that the traditional offline book business is being eaten alive by Amazon and other online booksellers. So the big publishing houses are feeling very anxious and threatened. Also, Bolt himself cites the case of global warming skeptic Ian Plimer, who had all kinds of retail related trouble with his books. As well as being politically incorrect, they were published by Connor Court, another small, independent outfit.

But in the end I think it's probably the ideological aspect that has most to do with this stealth campaign to sabotage Bolta's sales. And it's certainly not a new phenomenon. Way back in the nineties I remember hearing about a Paul Sheehan book called Among the Barbarians. It caused controversy at the time, and for many of the same reasons Bolt does now. I didn't have any trouble finding it in the St Kilda bookstore I bought it from. But I will always remember the disgusted reaction from the guy behind the counter!

So typical of sneering hipsters. But so silly! I mean, it's a business. They're shooting themselves in the foot by acting like this.


Greenies determined to hamstring Northern development

The opportunities for viable development in Australia's "empty North" are few but Greenies still want to block them all.  They will find some frog or insect that would be inconvenienced by development projects and thus stop everything

Ahead of the election, the major parties have released different visions for developing northern Australia. The Coalition has committed to dam projects across Queensland; Labor has pledged to support the tourism industry.

These pledges build on the Coalition’s A$5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, a fund to support large projects, starting on July 1.

The Coalition has pledged A$20 million to support 14 new or existing dams across Queensland should the government be returned to power, as part of a A$2.5 billion plan for dams across northern Australia.

Labor, meanwhile, will redirect A$1 billion from the fund towards tourism, including eco-tourism, indigenous tourism ventures and transport infrastructure (airports, trains, and ports).

It is well recognised that the development of northern Australia will depend on harnessing the north’s abundant water resources. However, it’s also well recognised that the ongoing use of water resources to support industry and agriculture hinges on the health and sustainability of those water resources.

Northern Australia is home to diverse ecosystems, which support a range of ecosystem services and cultural values, and these must be adequately considered in the planning stages.
Sustainability comes second

The white paper for northern Australia focuses almost solely on driving growth and development. Current water resource management policy in Australia, however, emphasises integrated water resource planning and sustainable water use that protects key ecosystem functions.

Our concern is that the commitment to sustainability embedded in the National Water Initiative (NWI), as well as Queensland’s water policies, may become secondary in the rush to "fast track" these water infrastructure projects.

Lessons from the past show that the long-term success of large water infrastructure projects requires due process, including time for consultation, environmental assessments and investigation of alternative solutions.
What is on the table?

The Coalition proposes providing funds to investigate the feasibility of a range of projects, including upgrading existing dams and investigating new dams. The majority of these appear to be focused on increasing the reliability of water supplies in regional urban centres. Few target improved agricultural productivity.

These commitments add to the already proposed feasibility study (A$10 million) of the Ord irrigation scheme in the Northern Territory and the construction of the Nullinga Dam in Queensland. And the A$15 million northern Australia water resources assessment being undertaken by CSIRO, which is focused on the Fitzroy river basin in Western Australia, the Darwin river basins in Northern Territory and the Mitchell river basin in Queensland.

Rethinking dams

New water infrastructure in the north should be part of an integrated investment program to limit overall environmental impacts. Focusing on new dams applies 19th-century thinking to a 21st-century problem, and we have three major concerns about the rush to build dams in northern Australia.

First, the process to establish infrastructure priorities for federal investment is unclear. For instance, it’s uncertain how the projects are connected to Queensland’s State Infrastructure Plan.

Investment in new water infrastructure across northern Australia needs to be part of a long-term water resource plan. This requires clearly articulated objectives for the development of northern Australia, along with assessment criteria that relate to economic, social and environmental outcomes, such as those used in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Second, the federal government emphasises on-stream dams. Dams built across the main river in this way have many well-recognised problems, including:

*    lack of environmental flows (insufficient water at the appropriate frequency and duration to support ecosystems)

*    flow inversion (higher flows may occur in the dry season than in the wet, when the bulk of rainfall occurs)

*    barriers to fish movement and loss of connectivity to wetlands

*    water quality and temperature impacts (unless there is a multi-level off-take).

As a minimum, new dams should be built away from major waterways (such as on small, tributary streams) and designed to minimise environmental impacts. This requires planning in the early stages, as such alternatives are extremely difficult to retrofit to an existing system.

Finally, the federal government proposals make no mention of climate change impacts. Irrigation and intensive manufacturing industries demand highly reliable water supplies.

While high-value use of water should be encouraged, new industries need to be able to adapt for the increased frequency of low flows; as well as increased intensity of flood events. Government investment needs to build resilience as well as high-value use.

Detailed planning, not press releases

In place of the rather ad hoc approach to improvements in water infrastructure, such as the projects announced by the federal government in advance of the election, we need a more holistic and considered approach.

The A$20 million investment for 14 feasibility studies and business cases in Queensland represents a relatively small amount of money for each project, and runs the risk of having them undertaken in isolation. The feasibility studies should be part of the entirety of the government’s plan for A$2.5 billion in new dams for northern Australia.

Water resource planning is too important and too expensive to cut corners on planning. Investment proposals for Queensland need to be integrated with water resource planning across the state, and across northern Australia, and with appropriate consideration of climate change impacts.

Fast tracking dams without considering ecosystem impacts, future variability in water supplies, and resilience in local communities merely sets the scene for future problems that will likely demand another round of intervention and reform.


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

29 June, 2016


An interesting email below from a fellow Queenslander


After eight years of my investigating, speaking out publicly, and holding members of parliament accountable, Pauline Hanson invited me to join her on the Queensland senate ticket for the federal election on 2 July.

After doing my due diligence with people who’ve known her for 20 years and after a 12 hour chat with Pauline I’m proud to be standing with her

She is not as the media and political opponents have portrayed. Pauline is intelligent, quick, honest, courageous and persistent. We are passionate about bringing back our country.

What we stand for in nine sentences:

Economics and Tax policy:

Affordable Energy and Climate Change policy:


If you’re a Queenslander please vote for us. If you have Queensland friends or family please forward this email.

How to Vote card Queensland senate:

How to vote cards for all states and seats with Pauline’s candidates:

Please help us to speak out on the floor of parliament and to restore integrity to parliament.

Regards and thanks,

Malcolm Roberts

Global cooling hits Sydney

Sydneysiders felt the chill on Monday as temperatures plummeted to their coolest in two decades as New South Wales experiences the most powerful cold front in three years.

The maximum temperature reached was just 11.7 degrees but remained mostly in the single digit range all day.

The cold temperatures make it the coolest day for any month in 20 years, said Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist with Weatherzone.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald that temperatures have averaged just 10.4 degrees over the past three days, the coldest June period in six years.

An overnight low of eight degrees was met with rain in Sydney on Monday morning with a top of just 13 degrees expected throughout the day.

Peter Zmijewski, a senior forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology said: 'The temperature is a bit colder than it normally is at this time of year.'

'There's a lot of cloud moving through the east coast. We do expect rainfall to continue throughout Monday,' he told Daily mail Australia.

After experiencing the coldest morning of the year on Sunday there will be no let up for Sydneysiders during the week, with damp and chilly weather forecast for the early part of the seven day period.

Over the weekend, temperatures dropped to just above five degrees in the CBD on Sunday and although Monday will not be as chilly, rain is forecast to set in.


Brexit could make it easier for Australians to live and work in the UK

AUSTRALIA’S high commissioner to the UK says Brexit could provide an opportunity to renegotiate visa arrangements and make it easier for Australians to live and work in Britain.

Alexander Downer has been a vocal critic of restrictions introduced on working visas for Australians who travel to and live in the UK, describing its policies as "discriminatory".

But while Europeans scramble to get their hands on British passports and uncertainty reigns, the Australian diplomat is taking a positive approach to the impending split, pledging to try to negotiate a better deal for Aussies moving to the mother country.

Speaking on ABC radio on Tuesday morning, Mr Downer said, as a representative of the Australian government in the UK, his job was to seek opportunities amid the Brexit fallout.

And while the implications of the eurozone breakup for Australia remain to be seen, he pledged to seize on the transition as an opportunity to address restrictions on working visas.

"We’ve been critical of the arrangements that have been put in place," he said.

"There are all sorts of restrictions on Australians right now and whether there’ll be opportunities to change that when the new arrangements come into place, we simply don’t know. But we should try in any case, and that’s what we’ll do."

The number of Australians working in the UK has declined by 40 per cent since 2008, and while Mr Downer concedes the shift can partly be attributed to economic forces, there are also restrictions in place preventing Australians from becoming employed that the British government has refused to budge on.

In 2011, the UK cut off entry routes for Australian skilled workers and capped employer-sponsored visas at just 20,000 places a year. The British government cited requirements by the European Union to prioritise workers within the zone.

In April this year, further restrictions were introduced including a minimum income requirement.

The number of Australians obtaining work visas from the UK Home Office has halved in the past decade, and now sits at less than 15,000.

The Australian government’s protest to the visa crackdown, led by Mr Downer, resulted in an extraordinary, while ultimately futile, debate at Westminster earlier this year.

Mr Downer has continued his call for changes to the Tier 2 visa system to ensure Australians don’t have to travel home in order to change jobs and make it easier for them to gain employment in the UK in the first place.

The former foreign minister has previously told it was "too hypothetical" to tell whether Australians would have greater visa access under a Brexit scenario where EU migrants could be limited, but has spoken with optimism on the topic since the historical ballot closed.

University of Adelaide UK politics expert Clement Macintyre told the referendum result left room for negotiations that couldn’t have happened before.

"The opposition to high levels of immigration in the UK that lay at the centre of some of the Brexit campaigning was making it harder for Australians in some respects to land visas and secure work arrangement because there was increasing pressure for the government to crack down across the board," he said.

The UK economy used to rely on European workers to fill many skilled and unskilled jobs.

Prof Macintyre said it was now likely those jobs would be open to people from other parts of the world, particularly Commonwealth countries.

"Under the old prospect, what we were confident about was that as long as the UK was part of the EU there was unlikely to be any change for the visa requirements for Australians in the UK," he said.

"This vote at least opens the door to negotiation that could lead to outcomes that are favourable for Australian people who want to spend some time in and live and work in the UK."

He said while it was too early to speculate on Britain’s negotiations out of the EU or its leadership, the possibility of a government led by Boris Johnson was good news for Australians.

The former London mayor and prime ministerial hopeful, who is tipped to take over the top job after David Cameron’s Brexit-induced departure in October, has previously advocated for a "free mobility labour zone" between Commonwealth countries.

"He is on the record as talking about wanting warmer relations with Australia, and while we don’t know that Johnson will be prime minister, and we’ve got no idea on what terms of negotiations the exit will happen, what is true is that if the UK wants access to the single market, it’s going to have to accept some freedom of movement," Prof Macintyre said.

In 2015 Johnson proposed an Australia-UK agreement to allow greater movement of skilled people between both countries.

"He believes that Commonwealth citizens should be given more freedom to contribute to London’s economy, culture and communities, particularly given the strong cultural connections between our countries," a spokeswoman for the then-mayor told

"As a start, the mayor has proposed an agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom that allows greater movement of skilled people between both countries in order to address skills shortages. This could be extended further to other Commonwealth countries, if successful."

With the shock outcome only five days old, uncertainty remains the key word in discussion of all things Brexit.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday revealed Australia and New Zealand could work together on joint free trade and visa agreements to steer the region through the shock waves of Britain’s exit.

"If my government is re-elected on Saturday, (NZ Prime Minister) John Key and I will meet shortly thereafter with our officials and set up a co-operative framework in which Australia and New Zealand will work together to ensure that we maximise any opportunities that arise out of these changes, but also ensure above all that the interests of Australians and New Zealanders and Australian and New Zealand businesses are protected," he said.


Triggs, HRC accused of ‘shameful conduct’ in 18c students case

She's an evil Leftist old bag

Human Rights Commission staff and president Gillian Triggs were accused in a racial hatred case yesterday of "stooping" to a ­regrettable low in a desperate ­attempt to "avoid scrutiny of their shameful conduct" against university students.

In an escalating row between the students, indigenous staff member Cindy Prior, who ejected them from their Queensland University of Technology’s "culturally safe" computer lab ­because they were white, and the commission, the human rights body is coming under unprecedented scrutiny.

Disclosures of the commission’s internal workings in dozens of pages of documents, obtained under Freedom of Information and showing the handling of Ms Prior’s Racial Discrimination Act complaint against the students, were cited by Brisbane barrister Tony Morris QC in a scathing legal attack launched yesterday.

Professor Triggs last week urged independent barrister Angus Stewart SC to stop investigations into the complaints by students Calum Thwaites, Jackson Powell and Alex Wood that their human rights had been ­"flagrantly" breached by the ­commission.

Professor Triggs in a 30-page legal rebuttal described the formal complaints of the students, who allege that the human rights body has botched the case, as "purely speculative", "lacking in substance" and ­"misconceived".

The students are accused of ­racial hatred for writing Facebook posts which caused offence to Ms Prior after she had turned them away from the computer lab in the Oodgeroo Unit in May 2013. Ms Prior went on stress leave and is seeking more than $250,000 damages after not working for almost all of the past three years.

Mr Morris, in a damning reply yesterday, revealed that Mr Thwaites had recently abandoned his study to become a schoolteacher because he was concerned the taint on his reputation from being accused of racial hatred under the controversial section 18c would make him unemployable. The lawyer described a ­"besetting irony" in Professor Triggs’s reasons for seeking to terminate the students’ complaints that their human rights were breached, given the commission had permitted to advance to the Federal Circuit what he described as the "hopeless" case of Ms Prior.

Mr Morris said it was wrong and unjust that an "utterly unmeritorious complaint" by Ms Prior had attracted from the Human Rights Commission "greater forbearance and leniency than the grave and serious complaints by the (students)". The students were "not permitted to enjoy the same substantive rights as those which the Human Rights Commission now insists should be applied in its favour".

He said the commission had "applied more time, effort and ­resources — all paid for by the taxpayer — in scrutinising and criticising the present complaints (by the students), all in the space of less than two months, than it ­applied to the Prior complaint in the period of roughly 15 months".

"The nature of the allegations made by Ms Prior, even if those ­allegations were ultimately to be dismissed, had the capacity to inflict long-term and devastating ­injury to the reputations of seven young tertiary students, and the very real potential to jeopardise their future employment prospects," Mr Morris said.

The three students still in the case have refused to pay Ms Prior any of the money her lawyers were demanding, while four ­others who were named in her original litigation made private settlements.

Mr Powell is being sued ­because after being told by Ms Prior to leave the computer lab he posted on Facebook "I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is". Mr Wood is being sued because he wrote: "Just got kicked out of the unsigned ­indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation." Mr Thwaites has insisted since 2013 that he was a victim of identity theft with a false Facebook account in his name and the post: "ITT niggers."

Professor Triggs and the commission are now accused of fearing "a risk of embarrassment" that they will be found to have breached the students’ human rights.


Sydney Muslim charged over alleged kidnap and rape of schoolgirl

A man arrested after a police pursuit in the beachside Sydney suburb of Bondi has been charged over two alleged sexual assaults, including the kidnapping and rape of a schoolgirl.

Mustafa Kayirici, 26, was arrested yesterday after a wild chase that began when he allegedly attempted to evade police investigating the assaults.

Police allege a 22-year-old woman was allegedly sexually assaulted and robbed by a man armed with a gun at a CBD motel on June 19.

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped in Parramatta on Friday morning and later sexually assaulted at various locations around Sydney. Her attacker was allegedly armed with a knife.

Appearing in court today via video link with his blackened eyes swollen shut after yesterday's arrest, Mr Kayirici denied assaulting the women.

"They're making me out to be some pedophile, some rapist, a predator," he told the magistrate.

"I did not know this person was 13.  She lied about her age and everything was consensual.

"I have it all on tape.  Cameras don't lie."

Mr Kayirici faces a string of charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault, detaining for advantage, kidnapping, acts of indecency, police pursuit, and resisting an officer.

He didn't use a lawyer in court today, instead choosing to represent himself.

Police prosecutors pleaded with the magistrate not to give Mr Kayirici bail, calling his alleged crimes "unthinkable" and "extreme".

The magistrate moved swiftly to deny bail, saying it would place female members of the community in "extreme danger".

Police searching for Mr Kayirici attempted to stop his silver Ford sedan on Bondi Road just after 11.30am yesterday.

When he allegedly failed to stop for officers, a pursuit was initiated. His Ford travelled through a park before crashing into parked cars on Old South Head Road.

The car finally came to a halt on the footpath behind a bus stop.

Witnesses described the violent clash between the driver and police.

"It was just 'get out, get out, get out, get on the floor'," James Dimovski, who was driving nearby when the crash happened, said.

"I don't think he wanted to get out so they pulled him out and just bashed him, basically bashed him."


28 June, 2016


Below is an ALP leaflet I got in my letterbox today.  Yet Mr. Turnbull has repeatedly and emphatically said that he is NOT going to privatise Medicare.  What are we to think of a political party that can find only lies to promote itself with?  It is certainly reminiscent of another famous socialist:  Dr. Goebbels -- and his dictum that if you tell a big enough lie often enough, people will believe it.  The leaflet was authorized by Evan Moorhead, the current Secretary of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland.

The man who lost the "unlosable" election still thinks we should listen to him about Brexit

Scary talk from Hewson.  When will it sink in that NOTHING will change for at least a year or maybe two?  Exit negotiations have not even begun yet.  And there is no threat to free trade.  The EU needs the British market.  Germany exports 800,000 cars to Britain each year.  Are they going to give that up?

BRITAIN’S shock decision to leave the European Union is a "king hit" that is bad news for Australia, a former Liberal leader has said.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tries to delicately play down the oncoming effects of the split while calling for calm, commentators are ignoring his pleas and digging into both sides of politics over their handling of the fallout.

Speaking on ABC radio, former Liberal leader John Hewson criticised both leaders for failing to acknowledge the full consequences of a Brexit for Australians. "This is a king hit (to the economy), and it’s a king hit also in political terms," he said. "This is all bad news for Australia, and the challenge is not being recognised by either side of politics."

Mr Hewson said neither the government nor opposition had conceded how a global economic shake up brought on by the Brexit would hit Australia, and said they were each leaning on "optimistic" budget forecasts.

"It’s global uncertainty. Global growth rates have been consistently downgraded by the IMF and the World Bank each time they make announcements. I think we’ll see more of that," he said.  "World trade I think fell about 14 per cent last year. I mean this is all bad news for Australia.

"I think those budget forecasts on which they’re both relying are very optimistic. They were optimistic to start with, I think more optimistic now we’ve had Brexit."

Former Labor trade minister Craig Emerson also weighed in on the effects Australia would feel, telling ABC radio the economic effects would be more than brief market fluctuations.

"I don’t think it’s going to be one of these matters that’s a little bump in the stock market for the next couple of days and then it’ll be all over," he said.

"It’s in the interest of the UK to exit as smoothly as possible but it’s not necessarily in the interest of the EU that it does exit as smoothly as possible because the EU will want to demonstrate this is a difficult and painful process in order to reduce the likelihood of other countries exiting."

Treasurer Scott Morrison this morning called for cool heads as Australian markets prepared for a second day of fallout from the Brexit decision. "What has happened in the UK is a simple reminder of the uncertainty that’s out there," he told the Seven Network on Monday.

Brexit wasn’t the only issue creating headwinds in the global economy, Mr Morrison said, citing changes in China, the deflation and currency concerns in Japan and the political situation in the US.

"At this time of uncertainty, you’ve got to focus on the things that you can control," he said. "You can’t control the things that are out there well beyond us but what you can control is how much you spend, how much you tax."

While each calling for calm, both Mr Turnbull and Bill Shorten have used uncertainty in the wake of the Brexit result to sway voters their way ahead of Saturday’s election.

The Prime Minister is promising economic stability while the opposition leader seeks to paint a picture of political instability within the government, saying the Brexit vote and following turmoil had arisen from "weak leadership and a divided government".


Britain’s exit from European Union flags big changes across the globe

Rita Panahi

WATCHING the unhinged and unrestrained hysteria of the Left has been a delightful side benefit of the Brexit poll.

While the conservatives who campaigned for Great Britain to remain in the European Union have largely accepted the result with a measure of grace, elements of the Left have reacted with a level of hyperbole that is remarkable even by their shrill standards.

There are even demands for a new poll from the Brexit losers who seem to think democracy is only a valid exercise if their side wins. But a referendum is not a game of rock, paper, scissors that can be extended to a best of three if you don’t like the result.

The EU referendum showed that voters won’t be swayed by slurs, sneers and scaremongering. The tactic of characterising Leave voters as a pack of unthinking xenophobes backfired spectacularly.

Voters could smell the desperation and dishonesty of the Remainers. Indeed, the result showed that the shameful strategy of vilifying the majority of Brits who voted to leave the irreparably broken EU drove many undecided voters into the Leave camp, which was trailing by 20 points at the start of the campaign.

Locally, the reaction has been just as demented, as members of the media led by overpaid and under-worked ABC troglodytes prophesy global doom and calamity and condemn Brits as ignorant racists.

It’s quite extraordinary that the same people who are desperate for Australia to break away from Britain to become a republic are aghast that Brits want to break away from Belgium and reaffirm their sovereignty.

Of course, immigration was a key Brexit issue — Europe’s porous borders have seen significant change in many parts of England flooded with illegal immigrants — but it was far from the only issue.

Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan applauded the British for reacting with "calm, common sense and courage" when threatened with Armageddon.

"Virtually every week, a letter would appear in one of the broadsheets signed by a collection of hoary-headed grandees: industrialists one week, green activists the next, actors the next," he wrote.

"The message was always the same: ‘Little people! We’re terribly important, and we’re ordering you to vote Remain!’ It wasn’t Project Fear so much as Project Sneer.

"Yes, Leavers are patriotic. Yes, we believe in Britain. But we’re not anti-Europe. We just want to be able to run our own affairs."

If the reaction of the Australian Left to the EU referendum is any guide, then we should brace ourselves for toys flying out of cots after Saturday’s federal poll.

But what is more interesting than the Brexit result in isolation is the global trend of voters rejecting the establishment.

The winds of political change are blowing a gale from the UK to the US, to places like the Philippines and even right here in Australia.

If a figure like Donald Trump can launch a serious challenge for the US presidency, then you know voters have grown weary of the status quo and will look far and wide for an alternative — any alternative.

Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination despite a brutal campaign both from mainstream media outlets and the spooked GOP establishment desperate to purge this outsider from conservative ranks.

The attacks against Trump are often thinly veiled abuse of his supporters, who are portrayed as dimwitted hillbillies instead of ordinary Americans who feel deeply disenchanted with a political system they see as corrupted by powerful interest groups and lobbyists.

Those horror-struck by the US billionaire’s antics should have a look at what’s transpired in the Philippines in recent months, where president-elect Rodrigo Duterte makes Trump look like a safe-as-houses choirboy.

The rejection of the condescending ruling class is an international phenomenon, and Australia is not immune.

Yesterday you could almost hear the collective yawn across the country as the Coalition officially launched its campaign and Labor held a second campaign launch.

The electorate is disengaged, and one wonders what the voter turnout would be on Saturday if compulsory voting didn’t force citizens to take part in the democratic process.

Take a deeper look at the polls and it’s evident that there is a heightened level of disillusionment with the major parties, including the Greens.

According to a Newspoll conducted earlier this month, a record number of voters plan to support a micro-party or an independent.

Close to one in six voters plan to cast their ballot for a candidate who does not represent Labor, Coalition, or Greens parties.

Meanwhile we have the astonishing situation of the Regressive Left, both here and overseas, railing against a new enemy: democracy.

These folks, who have made an art form of treating the masses with barely concealed disdain, seriously argue that referendums and plebiscites are undesirable, that ordinary voters can’t be trusted to debate and determine issues such as same-sex marriage.

Brexit showed just how out of touch much of the political and media class are from the public they are supposed to serve.


Improve education, but don't fund more waste
Jennifer Buckingham

Recent arguments in favour of a large increase in school funding have cited the 'Gonski' report and OECD research showing a long-term economic return on investment in education. However, close scrutiny reveals that they do not provide strong justification in the current Australian context.

The Gonski report found that funding for schools was complex and inefficient. It recommended a complete overhaul of school funding that required a new agreement between the federal, state and territory governments. The increase in federal funding that is attributed to the 'Gonski model' was not inherent in the Gonski committee's recommendations -- a point confirmed by David Gonski himself.

The implications of international research on education spending and economic growth are also far from straightforward. The largest pay-offs from increased education spending are in developing countries where increased spending is from a low base and often means providing decent primary school education where none existed previously. This is a very different prospect to increasing spending where funding and provision are already high.

A big assumption in imputing economic returns to education spending is that higher spending will lead to better quality of education and hence better outcomes. This is by no means guaranteed. Economists surveyed in the latest Economic Society of Australia poll made this case repeatedly. While a majority of the economists surveyed agreed that education spending is on balance more likely to have a long term dividend than a company tax cut, neither policy was given an unequivocal endorsement in terms of future benefits.

While there are undoubtedly some schools around Australia that are under-resourced, it would be a mistake to conclude that this is purely a function of the size of the government's education budget rather than the way it is managed. Large amounts of education funding sometimes never reach schools and even more is spent on policies and programs that don't work. There may be a case for increased school funding as a rock solid investment in the future, but it can't be made while there is so much waste in the system at present.


Tougher laws to be introduced for masked 'cowards' following violent Melbourne protests

Masked "cowards" who commit violence in public places will face tougher penalties after a series of violent protests between rival groups in Melbourne.

Splinter groups of masked people dressed in black have caused trouble at recent rallies, although police generally managed to keep the anti-Islam and anti-racism groups apart at the latest protest on Sunday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the government will introduce new public order laws and penalties around affray and riotous behaviour to deal with people wearing masks.

"There will be additional penalties, additional specific offences and an aggravating factor, which means you'll get more time where you belong, behind bars, if you turn up and act violently with a mask on," Mr Andrews said.

"We are not having a situation where people turn our streets into some sort of battleground."

An anti racism and fascism protester is arrested for starting a fire after they burnt the Australian flag. © AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy An anti racism and fascism protester is arrested for starting a fire after they burnt the Australian flag. Police were generally pleased with the behaviour of 120 True Blue Crew and 200 rival Campaign Against Racism and Fascism protesters at Sunday's rally, which was marred by flags being set alight and scuffles involving a splinter group.

But there was no repeat of the violent clashes between the opposing groups at a Coburg rally in late May.

Yesterday Mr Andrews warned future offenders will "feel the full force of the law".

"If you commit a violent act and you are wearing a mask, then you will receive a significantly higher penalty because of the cowardly nature of wearing that mask," he said.

"You will feel the full force of the law because hardworking Victorians and their government are sick and tired of having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, indeed millions of dollars, to deal with this sort of riotous behaviour."

Opposition attorney-general John Pesutto said police no longer have the powers they need to de-escalate volatile situations because the Labor government had dramatically weakened the coalition's tough move-on laws.


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

27 June, 2016

Gun regulation:  Is Australia a model that the USA should adopt?

In the wake of the recent shootings at Orlando and elsewhere, many Leftist commentators have pointed to the strict gun controls introduced by Australia in 1996 and have noted that Australia has had NO mass shootings since the laws were enacted.  They assert that this is powerful evidence for the enactment of such laws in America. But is it true?  Did Australia's strict laws reduce gun deaths?

Before I answer that, I think I might point out that there are important demographic differences between the U.S. and Australian populations.  In particular, the minorities are different.  Australia has negligible Africans but large numbers of Han Chinese.  And those two groups differ greatly in propensity to crime generally and homicide in particular.  The Chinese are as pacific as Africans are violent.  I don't think I have ever heard of a Han Chinese breaking into someone's house, whereas that happens daily in the USA.  So Australians have a much smaller need for guns as self-defense.  I love the Han.

But one part of the Leftist claim is true.  There have indeed been no mass shootings since 1996 in Australia. But such shootings were rare anyway and gun crimes were already on the way down in Australia so how do we allow for that?  Below is an article from a major medical journal that has done all the statistics. Its conclusions have been widely reported but almost always misreported.  So I produce the actual journal abstract below.

As you can see, they found that the decline in gun deaths had speeded up but not to a statistically significant degree.  More interestingly, the rate for all crimes had declined even more than the decline in gun deaths.  So all we can say is that Australia has been getting steadily safer for a long time now.  There is no evidence that guns have anything to do with it.  The journal article:

Association Between Gun Law Reforms and Intentional Firearm Deaths in Australia, 1979-2013

Simon Chapman et al.



Rapid-fire weapons are often used by perpetrators in mass shooting incidents. In 1996 Australia introduced major gun law reforms that included a ban on semiautomatic rifles and pump-action shotguns and rifles and also initiated a program for buyback of firearms.


To determine whether enactment of the 1996 gun laws and buyback program were followed by changes in the incidence of mass firearm homicides and total firearm deaths.


Observational study using Australian government statistics on deaths caused by firearms (1979-2013) and news reports of mass shootings in Australia (1979–May 2016). Changes in intentional firearm death rates were analyzed with negative binomial regression, and data on firearm-related mass killings were compared.


Implementation of major national gun law reforms.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Changes in mass fatal shooting incidents (defined as ?5 victims, not including the perpetrator) and in trends of rates of total firearm deaths, firearm homicides and suicides, and total homicides and suicides per 100?000 population.


From 1979-1996 (before gun law reforms), 13 fatal mass shootings occurred in Australia, whereas from 1997 through May 2016 (after gun law reforms), no fatal mass shootings occurred. There was also significant change in the preexisting downward trends for rates of total firearm deaths prior to vs after gun law reform. From 1979-1996, the mean rate of total firearm deaths was 3.6 (95% CI, 3.3-3.9) per 100?000 population (average decline of 3% per year; annual trend, 0.970; 95% CI, 0.963-0.976), whereas from 1997-2013 (after gun law reforms), the mean rate of total firearm deaths was 1.2 (95% CI, 1.0-1.4) per 100?000 population (average decline of 4.9% per year; annual trend, 0.951; 95% CI, 0.940-0.962), with a ratio of trends in annual death rates of 0.981 (95% CI, 0.968-0.993). There was a statistically significant acceleration in the preexisting downward trend for firearm suicide (ratio of trends, 0.981; 95% CI, 0.970-0.993), but this was not statistically significant for firearm homicide (ratio of trends, 0.975; 95% CI, 0.949-1.001). From 1979-1996, the mean annual rate of total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths was 10.6 (95% CI, 10.0-11.2) per 100?000 population (average increase of 2.1% per year; annual trend, 1.021; 95% CI, 1.016-1.026), whereas from 1997-2013, the mean annual rate was 11.8 (95% CI, 11.3-12.3) per 100?000 (average decline of 1.4% per year; annual trend, 0.986; 95% CI, 0.980-0.993), with a ratio of trends of 0.966 (95% CI, 0.958-0.973). There was no evidence of substitution of other lethal methods for suicides or homicides.

Conclusions and Relevance

Following enactment of gun law reforms in Australia in 1996, there were no mass firearm killings through May 2016. There was a more rapid decline in firearm deaths between 1997 and 2013 compared with before 1997 but also a decline in total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths of a greater magnitude. Because of this, it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms.

JAMA. Published online June 22, 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.8752

Grant-hungry scientists stage a tantrum about the Barrier Reef while on their holiday in Hawaii

Many causes of bleaching alleged but not a word about El Nino, the most probable cause.  These guys are just con-men.  Document probably written by a small but powerful clique only

As the largest international gathering of coral reef experts comes to a close, scientists have sent a letter to Australian officials calling for action to save the world's reefs, which are being rapidly damaged.

The letter was sent on Saturday to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull imploring the government to do more to conserve the nation's reefs and curb fossil fuel consumption.

The letter, signed by past and present presidents of the International Society for Reef Studies on behalf of the 2000 attendees of the International Coral Reef Symposium that was held in Honolulu this week, urged the Australian government to prioritise its Great Barrier Reef.

"This year has seen the worst mass bleaching in history, threatening many coral reefs around the world including the whole of the northern Great Barrier Reef, the biggest and best-known of all reefs," the letter said.

"The damage to this Australian icon has already been devastating. In addition to damage from greenhouse gases, port dredging and shipping of fossil fuels across the Great Barrier Reef contravene Australia's responsibilities for stewardship of the Reef under the World Heritage Convention."

Scientists are not known for their political activism, said James Cook University professor Terry Hughes, but they felt this crisis warranted such action.

A call to action from three Pacific island nations whose reefs are in the crosshairs of the largest and longest-lasting coral bleaching event in recorded history was presented on Friday at the conclusion of the symposium in Honolulu.

The heads of state from Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands attended the conference and will provide a plan to help save their ailing coral reefs.

The call to action, signed by the three presidents, asked for better collaboration between the scientific community and local governments, saying there needs to be more funding and a strengthened commitment to protecting the reefs.

In response to the letter, the scientific community at the conference said they would work with national leaders of Micronesia, the Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the world "to curb the continued loss of coral reefs."

Bleaching is a process where corals, stressed by hot ocean waters and other environmental changes, lose their colour as the symbiotic algae that lives within them is released. Severe or concurrent years of bleaching can kill coral reefs, as has been documented over the past two years in oceans around the world. Scientists expect a third year of bleaching to last through the end of 2016.

In the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, close to half of the corals have died in the past three months, said Hughes, who focuses his research there.

But the panel of scientists emphasised the progress they have made over the past 30 years and stressed that good research and management programs for coral reefs are available. The scientists said they just need the proper funding and political will to enact them.


Some rare realism about prospects of Far Northern agricultural development

Developing the "empty North" has long been a dream.  But there are good reasons why it is mostly empty -- as the Ord River scheme showed.  A story here shows that investors are rightly skeptical of projects there

An expert says opportunities to expand agricultural production in northern Australia have been dramatically overstated.

"It's a very fierce climate, ask any farmer if they'd like to go farm somewhere with a guaranteed drought every year?'" said Charles Darwin University Professor Andrew Campbell.

"Evaporation is markedly greater than rainfall and has water scarcity, and there are many novel pests and diseases, inputs costs are much higher, labour is more difficult to attract, infrastructure is much poorer and supply chains are much more vulnerable."

Speaking at the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering (ATSE) conference, he said food production is only likely to increase by around 5 per cent in northern Australia.

He highlighted as a rare exception, the mango industry outside Darwin. Built by Vietnamese immigrants with links to the market traders in Sydney and Melbourne, which has become a $100 million industry.

Indigenous wild rices on the flood plains have genetic diversity that could be cross bred with mainstream rices, to improve resilience in a changing climate.

Investment banker David Williams of Kidder Williams told the conference he was highly critical of big scale failures in the Ord Irrigation scheme, with its long history of crops destroyed by pests and a vicious climate.


Federal election 2016: PM must tell voters home truths about Shorten

Grace Collier

No one should be shocked by Bill Shorten’s Medicare scare election scam. There is a reason this present crop of Labor types is so at ease telling bald-faced lies to camera. Like Shorten, most of them are former union officials and, as such, are expert in the art of devious, malicious deception.

These guys have run hundreds of enterprise bargaining agreement campaigns, which are mini election campaigns in the workplace. Union officials regularly have relied on far-fetched lie-telling to force frightened workers, like herded cattle, through the right gate.

Though an EBA campaign occurs within a single workplace, and an election occurs across the national landscape, in both processes a political contest between labour and capital occurs, and that contest leads up to one defining moment: a democratic vote for all.

Both sides vie for the hearts and minds of the voters, and put material out to state their case. In the end the voters are often overwhelmed, bewildered. They cannot read everything, so instead they take a leap of faith. Voters cast their vote to the side they like most and trust them to tell them how to vote. Then they hope for the best.

The way unions win EBA campaigns is by telling terrifying lies to the workers about the conditions and entitlements they will lose if they vote yes to the EBA. If management hasn’t anticipated the lies, it is not positioned to counter as it should. It doesn’t prepare the workers beforehand for the lies that will be told and doesn’t strike back hard afterwards with direct communication, even ridicule, setting out the truth.

Instead, management reacts with shock and outrage-induced paralysis sets in. On display is the processing of its personal emotional response to the lies (how could they say this stuff, it’s an outrage!), which workers are not interested in. Leadership falls by the wayside. Campaign momentum and control is lost.

In the same way an EBA provides the means for unions to control a workplace, a federal election provides a chance for unions to control our government. Our present election is not a referendum on keeping Medicare; it is a referendum on whether we want the unions running Australia.

Shorten is the union rep, screaming about how we are all going to lose our entitlements. Is manipulation of vulnerable people via the use of scary nonsense an unethical thing to do? Labor cares not; it is a tried-and-true EBA tactic. Anyway, the end justifies the means.

Malcolm Turnbull is the manager, caught up in his own indignation. Has Turnbull ever been in an EBA campaign? Not likely. He must be reeling at the effrontery and wondering how low this union bloke is prepared to go. While Turnbull is busy denying the lies about himself, he is not pointing out the facts about his opponent.

If the community had the truth about Shorten put before it, very few would vote the way he asks. For Turnbull, shattering trust in Shorten would be an easy task, especially among the traditional Labor base. Labor’s brand is that it cares about the low-paid workers and puts people first, yet the party couldn’t have chosen a leader more unfitting, more ridiculously inappropriate, to promote it.

Shorten’s history can be found on the transcript from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Past case studies include Chiquita, Cleanevent and more. Under Shorten’s rule, his union boomed, inflated by false membership numbers gained by dirty deals done dirt cheap. How much wage theft occurred, how much did the lowest paid miss out on? Perhaps half a billion.

Shorten derided penalty rates as fanciful in the real world, a gold standard, when justifying a dodgy deal done behind the backs of workers to trade their wages away. These words, his exact quotes, should be used in a brutal advertising campaign.

Today, Shorten’s campaign runs partly on dirty money. Dodgy deals, done behind the backs of workers at Coles, Woolworths and more, have been funnelled through a union into Labor. There are probably 500,000 workers missing out on penalty rates, unlawfully, right now. Turnbull could stand up and condemn this and demand Shorten renounce it.

When the 7-Eleven wage rip-offs came to light, Shorten used the case to announce a policy to increase penalties on employers. But his proposed reform exempts small business, meaning 7-Eleven franchisees wouldn’t be caught in Labor’s so-called plan to catch them. Turnbull could point this out and pose a question along the lines of: Is this a genuine error, just staggering stupidity or has yet another dodgy deal, somewhere, with someone been done?

Shorten calls Turnbull a rich man’s Tony Abbott. Turnbull should call Shorten a celebrity union official to the rich and the best friend a corrupt business could have. Turnbull should say all of the above and more.

For as long as he doesn’t, of the two men, who do you think the voters will see as stronger, hungrier, more determined: Shorten, who has the guts to tell outrageous lies about Turnbull; or Turnbull, who hasn’t the guts to tell simple truths about Shorten?


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

26 June, 2016

Great Barrier Reef: Qld Government's cattle station purchase 'makes agriculture sector scapegoat'

Let's be clear:  This is NOT agricultural runoff being discussed.  It is pastoral runoff.  A cattle station and an arable farm are not the same.  There are virtually no arable farms in the Northern half of Cape York peninsula and yet that is where coral bleaching is greatest -- providing an excellent natural experiment that proves Greenie claims about agricultural runoff to be false.

Pastoral runoff may however be a different thing.  The property discussed below does appear to have been badly managed, if managed at all.  Producing anything in such a remote area must encounter a lot of high costs so cutting costs on management might be expected.  In the circumstances, the steps being taken by the Queensland government are well-advised.

There is however no reason why one property must be taken as proving a generality.  For all we know, there may be no other pastoral properties in the far North that are producing massive runoff.  No-one has made that case -- Greenie hand-waving aside

The agricultural sector says it is being unfairly targeted by the Queensland Government after it purchased a cattle station to reduce sediment flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.

Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles announced on Wednesday the Government had bought Springvale Station in the state's north for $7 million.

Mr Miles said the reason for the purchase was to stem the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sediment pollution flowing from the property into the Great Barrier Reef each year.

Generations of cattle grazing has caused massive gullies, etched deep into Springvale Station's 56,000 hectares.

These gullies carry 500,000 tonnes of sediment per year into the Normanby catchment, explained Australian Rivers Institute's Dr Andrew Brooks.

"The Normanby catchment represents about 50 per cent of the total run off to the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef," Dr Brooks told PM.

Because of this Dr Brooks supported the Queensland Government's purchase, as well as plans to rehabilitate the land and prevent further sediment from damaging the reef.

"The relationship between sediment run off and impact on coral has been well established," he said.

"What we know is that these volumes of sediment coming from this property, just to put it in perspective, that's 50,000 tipper trucks worth of sediment. "These gullies don't just deliver sediment. They also deliver nutrients. So per unit area these gullies are contributing twice the level of nutrients as a cane paddock in the wet tropics."

Mr Miles said smoothing out the gullies and replanting grass will begin as soon as possible but it is too early to tell how long the whole remediation process will take.

In the meantime, former station owners have until late next year to remove the several thousand head of cattle from the land.

While a loud chorus has praised the Queensland Government's purchase as a major step forward in remediation of the Great Barrier Reef, the agricultural sector has some reservations about the $7 million sale.

Reef Alliance chair Ruth Wade said the Queensland Government needed to ensure other industries near the reef also pull their weight. "There are areas like mines, ports, tourism, a number of areas where there are impacts of varying points," Ms Wade said.  "The obvious and easy one is the impact agriculture has in terms of sediment run off.

"We're working very hard through a number of schemes funded by Federal and State Governments to improve water quality and minimise impacts of agriculture."

But Mr Miles insisted that while all industries have a role to play in reef protection, the Government was targeting agriculture for the right reasons. "We know that a clear driver of problems for the reef is run off pollution and a great deal is cause by agricultural land," he said.

"If we can substantially reduce the amount of sediment run off from just this one property we can move ourselves forward toward the targets we have set for the entire catchment and that's a huge opportunity."

Agforce Queensland general president Graham Mosley is concerned the Government will not follow through on proper land management of the station.  "It's a challenge. There's services associated with servicing that property ... ongoing maintenance," Mr Mosley said.

"What is the long-term plan here for acquisition of land in Queensland? Government needs to be clear of the path its embarking on when spending taxpayer money.

Mr Miles concedes the land management details have not yet been determined, while not ruling out a partnership with graziers. "In terms of the ongoing wider management, beyond the rivers and gullies and streams, that's where we're interested in working with partners to determine the best way to manage it going forward," he said.

"The idea is those areas which are currently grazed could well continue to be so under some kind of partnership arrangement, while those areas that are pristine could be protected as National Park, or nature refuges, while we get about the important work of repairing the riparian zones."


Volunteer firies vow to back PM

Darcy Zaina always wanted to be a volunteer firefighter. "I just reckon it's fun and I like being there for other people," the teenager told AAP on Thursday.

But the increasingly bitter battle between Victorian volunteer and career firefighters is taking its toll on her family.

Now her dad Jon is having second thoughts about letting his daughter work under changed union conditions. "I don't think I would encourage her to take it on because it's unfair," he said.

Mr Zaina was once a Labor voter but now he's changed his mind, and the Victorian volunteer firefighter believes about half a million votes in the state could go to the coalition in the politically-charged stoush.

"There would not be a volunteer I imagine that would not vote for Liberal now - I guarantee it."

Mr Zaina said the entire state was in uproar, with CFA members set to rally for the coalition in the election.

Thousands of voters are abandoning Labor in favour of the coalition over the CFA-unions dispute, volunteer firefighters such as Alex Batty have revealed. That was the message he relayed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a meeting with the local CFA branch in the Liberal-held marginal seat of Corangamite on Thursday.

Mr Turnbull ramped up his language in the dispute, warning volunteers they were in the firing line of unions.

The government had won the fight against the road safety tribunal but unions wouldn't stop there. "You're next in their targets," he told the gathering.

Mr Turnbull said he normally would not make a political speech to volunteer groups such as the CFA, but there was a clear choice at the July 2 election against militant unionism.

He used the visit to reaffirm the coalition's pledge to amend the Fair Work Act to ensure volunteers have the freedom to carry out their duties.


Australian university students are being given 'trigger warnings' in class

At the start of lessons, lectures or subjects, academics are issuing warnings about sensitive or graphic content, giving students the opportunity to opt out if they feel confronted or uncomfortable.

University of Melbourne's Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a lecturer on gender and sexuality, told The Age she has been using trigger warnings in classes for the past 13 years of her career.

'It's like television ... you have a warning for everything from drug use to supernatural things, as a way to tell the audience that [they] may be disturbed by one of any number of topics,' she said.

'These students have grown up participating in politics through Tumblr and Instagram, and I feel that expressing ideas through sound bites and policing of other language, which is rampant online, has suddenly been translated into the classroom,' Dr Rosewarne added.

According to the Herald Sun, Melbourne's LaTrobe University Student Union has made it compulsory to provide warnings before talking about 57 separate potentially discomforting issues.

Those warning issues include 'gore', 'chewing', 'slimy things' and 'food' - on the basis they may 'negatively alter (the) wellbeing' of students.

Opponents of trigger warnings in universities complain the warnings limit educational growth and stop students from being challenged by new ideas.

Matthew Lesh, a research fellow at The Institute of Public Affairs, said he was worried Australian academics were feeling pressured to juggle the job of psychologist and educator.

'Universities should be about exposing people to as many ideas as possible, even if they are challenging,' he told The Age.


Daniel Andrews government fights flare-ups on many fire fronts

The dead weight of political recklessness is suffocating Daniel ­Andrews. The tall, stooped, ­slightly bookish Labor leader is just 19 months into his premiership of Victoria but he runs a state government crippled by its failure to consult and an addiction to a rust belt ­industrial-political framework that killed the previous Cain and Kirner Labor governments.

While outwardly the government’s problems are defined by its enterprise bargaining war with the state’s 60,000 volunteer fire­fighters, Labor’s challenges are in fact structural and have to do with a failure to communicate a ­broader economic narrative.

Such is the disconnect with the electorate that there is a deep concern among senior ministers that the Premier has killed the government or faces an unimaginable two-year battle to win back voter trust after scorching the firefighting volunteers lauded as heroes for helping to save hundreds of lives during the 2009 Black Saturday fire disaster.

Andrews’s leadership is not under imminent threat (only a handful of dissidents rally against him) but his medium-term challenges verge on the profound.

"If it’s like this in a year, then he is dead," one senior figure tells The Australian.

To the firefighters dispute add these controversies: a wasted $1.1 billion of taxpayer funds after Andrews nixed the inherited ­Coalition East West Link road project, a social agenda fabled left-wing South Australian premier Don Dunstan would laud, plus the bungled delivery of suburban rail and regional trains. A storm of discontent is brewing.

Those who seek to define the Andrews government by a single dispute miss a more complex story of an administration as radical in its way as the Kennett Liberal government was in the 1990s, and certainly in a bigger rush to leave its mark than any Victorian Labor government since John Cain came to power in 1982.

While its narrative focuses on its social agenda, the Andrews government is engineering a large anti-congestion strategy that will lead, across time, to tens of billions of dollars of public transport and road infrastructure projects under­pinned by the strongest budget surpluses of any government. This includes $17bn worth of urban rail, including an $11bn underground rail network through the centre of Melbourne.

The Andrews government is not on its knees because it is lazy; it learned from the Coalition Baillieu government that the price of inaction is one term in office.

Rather, its problems seem to stem from the way Andrews has failed to transition to the premiership, despite his long-term ministerial positions under Steve Bracks and John Brumby.

Andrews, 46 next month, was considered one of the safest pair of hands Victorian Labor had produced in 20 years; today Bracks is said to be bewildered by the way Andrews is performing.

Andrews grew up in regional Victoria in a farm setting, yet he often seems to govern for the inner city and Trades Hall. Life in Wangaratta, in the state’s northeast, consisted of a Marist Brothers’ education, golf, helping to raise cattle and playing with his younger sister Cynthia.

Andrews is a creature of the Victorian Left who has done little beyond politics. When he left ­Monash University he worked as an adviser to Left powerbroker and federal MP Alan Griffin and was later elevated to ALP headquarters as an organiser and then assistant state secretary between 1999 and 2002.

Andrews is still considered factionally active, though he denies this. He does not have overt connections to a particular union but is sympathetic to Left-affiliated ­organisations such as the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

Outwardly cautious while health minister between 2008 and 2010, Andrews built a reputation under Brumby as a deeply serious young man trusted to deliver. Which he did. A core success of the Bracks and Brumby governments was that they kept the unions at bay and, when it came to social ­issues, trod carefully. Reformers, including attorney-general Rob Hulls, flew under the radar, keeping a lid on controversy by subversive rather than overt reform. The main social change — ­decriminalisation of abortion — became a cross-party cheek-slapping debate the night the reforms passed the parliament.

Contrast this with Andrews. His Facebook page is a hyper-­progressive echo chamber where the state’s dear leader is lauded by admiring commenters on issues such as medical marijuana, the Safe Schools sex education program and renewable energy, in a feel-good stream of consciousness discourse interspersed with pop culture references ranging from The Simpsons to The Lord of the Rings.

But with the exception of the promotion of transport projects, there is little to no economic narrative that drives the discussion. It is a savvy exercise in narrow casting, stepping around mainstream media gatekeepers in a way that appeals to young and inner urban voters who may drift into the arms of the Greens.

But even some within Labor are wondering if the tail has begun to wag the dog when it comes to the social agenda dominating government utterances in parliament and media conferences over the bread-and-butter business of state government ­service delivery.

"It’s not that the social agenda is bad, it’s that it is taking the available airspace from things that ­really matter to people such as jobs, infrastructure and education," one senior Labor source says.

"That’s OK when you are doing well, but the moment you hit a crisis you have no stored credit in the bank.

"People might say, ‘This is bad, but they have got the runs on the board on the important stuff and I am willing to forgive a few mistakes.’ But if all you have is the social agenda — which often they don’t make the decisions about such as gay marriage or immigration — the politics of symbolism begins to take over."

The source says even the more conservative ministers in the cabinet could live with the government’s social agenda (and support the good work the government has done on family violence) but "everyone" shakes their head that the government’s economic story is not told.

In some respects, the Andrews government has a good story to tell. There is an acceptance that the $6bn level crossings replacement program is a rare mix of good policy and politics. (Melbourne has a historical burden of hundreds of rail crossings intersecting busy roads, leading to considerable congestion and delays on the road and rail networks.)

The government is making good on its vow to build the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel and has partnered with toll road operator Transurban to deliver a second river crossing through the Western Distributor road project to ease congestion in the nation’s fastest growing suburbs.

And business is backing ­Andrews for continuing Victoria’s international engagement and drawing the state closer to China.

But these positives are negated by the $1.1bn cost of junking the East West Link. And a failure to properly engage Victorians about leasing the $6bn Port of Melbourne led to the opposition forcing a humiliating backdown on the government to secure opposition support for the privatisation. This episode is a symptom of a toxic ­relationship between the parties, which has led to parliament ­becoming dysfunctional in recent sessions. There is a visceral dislike between Andrews and Liberal leader Matthew Guy that sets the tone in the chamber.

But it is the Country Fire Authority dispute that has done more than anything to dent Andrews’s standing. The seeds for the disaster were sown when Andrews made the ill-fated decision in April to sideline emergency services minister Jane Garrett and meet directly with the United Firefighters Union’s ultra-militant leader Peter Marshall. Those who know Marshall say he’s someone who prefers a fight to a feed, and brawling was exactly what he was doing with Garrett.

At the 2014 state election, Marshall, along with his Ambulance Employees Association colleagues, had helped deliver Andrews government by refusing to negotiate with the Coalition government and then turning out members in droves to campaign for the ALP. But after a few sessions over the negotiating table with Marshall, Garrett was in no frame of mind to honour any perceived IOUs to the UFU and she bunkered down with the CFA and its volunteers in opposing the union’s push for control over the volunteer organisation.

In many ways, she was on the side of the angels. But once the row ended up in the Fair Work Commission, the UFU had a stroke of luck when conciliation was ­handed to former Australian Manufacturing Workers Union official Julius Roe. Roe staunchly defends his ­independence but the opposition accuses him of siding with the union by delivering recommendations that resembled the union’s claims with a bit of token verbiage around consultation.

It rapidly became apparent that Garrett would not back the proposed deal in cabinet. Earlier this month, Andrews returned from a trip to the US to his government in crisis. He sat down to negotiate with Garrett in what amounted to a game of chicken. Neither was prepared to give way and in the end the emergency services minister was given her marching ­orders. Since then ­Andrews has swept aside all remaining obstacles to ramming it through, installing his deputy James Merlino as Emergency Services Minister, firing the CFA board and jettisoning the ­organisation’s chief executive, ­Lucinda Nolan, a respected former senior policewoman.

Now the deal is on the verge of going through. But there’s no hiding the fact that the deal has enraged many of the CFA’s 60,000 volunteers, concerned about increasing union influence and the drop in response times the extra career firefighters will deliver in the urban fringe and regions.

The government’s sales job, sloppy as it is, may quell some anger in time for the 2018 election, but the damage to Andrews’s personal standing will be harder to ­repair. Back in the 2014 campaign ads he was styled as Everyday Dan, a mild-mannered family man lending a ready ear to ordinary Victorians’ woes. Of course, in truth Andrews has a ruthless streak — all successful politicians do — and it has been on display throughout the dispute.

The opposition accuses the Premier of bullying Garrett and Nolan out of their jobs. ­Andrews has talked a big game on bullying through his support for the Safe Schools program. But in the weeks before the dispute blew up, he surrendered the high moral ground when he was caught making a fat gibe in parliament directed at a Liberal MP.

The story itself was a one-day blip, curtailed by Andrews’s prompt apology. But the opposition is using it to ­develop a narrative around a "bullying" Premier drunk on his own power. Both parties know how effective this narrative can be — last time it was used it marked the end of Jeff Kennett’s reign. Andrews is no Kennett. But those who have been around Spring Street for a long time will know there are many similarities. Kennett was difficult to categorise and so is ­Andrews. One from the Right, one from the Left. But Kennett arrived in 1992 with ­unprecedented goodwill while Andrews was an accidental premier who profited from Coalition ­incompetence.

To suggest Andrews is on his own, however, is wrong. The broad Left faction has reaffirmed its support for him and one senior ALP figure points to Bill Shorten as a key factor in Andrews forcing the CFA dispute to a head. The story goes that Shorten, directly or indirectly, demanded that the UFU dispute be resolved before the federal election. This would explain why Andrews ­entered the debate carrying a chainsaw and wearing heavy-duty boots.

"Dan was happy for the dispute to run and run and run. It was Shorten who forced the issue," an ALP source says. "The truth is he was doing Bill’s work and then Garrett blew us up. She completely overreacted and that’s why we are where we are."

This version of events makes some sense. It would explain why a (generally) capable operator like Andrews entered the fray. Yet it is impossible to believe that Shorten would have sanctioned the way Andrews has done it, going to war with the people who helped save the state on Black Saturday.

This strategy bewildered some of the Premier’s strongest sup­porters. Andrews will be lucky to survive the fallout. The seats of Brunswick and Richmond in Melbourne’s inner north and east are under siege from the Greens and gains are hard to make given the rare clean sweep of the four bayside "sandbelt" seats in 2014.

ALP hardheads insist, however, that demographic changes will help Labor’s second-term chances, along with the natural "sophomore surge" that benefits many first-time MPs.

But never forget that Andrews is a groundbreaker. No premier has ever so recklessly picked a brawl with 60,000 firefighting volunteers to back a union mate and expect to win an election. On that political fire front, Andrews is a standout.


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

24 June, 2016

Bikini model takes on cops she says perved on her file

Attractive women sometimes find that their looks are a hazard and if Renee looks good in photos she looks even better in real life.  Her fight with the cops began when a piece of police slime named Donnelly tried to coerce her into sex.  But Renee has a will of steel and she never gives up. 

I am pleased to note that I contributed $5,000 to her courtroom battle that finally extracted a damages payment from the cops for Donnelly's behaviour.  Donnelly didn't have a fraction of her steel.  The stress of the matter saw him invalided out of the force even before the matter went to court.

But Renee is still going strong in her insistence on police integrity.  She is also helping corruptly prosecuted whistleblower cop Sgt Rick Flori

A FORMER bikini model turned justice crusader whose police file was accessed more than 1400 times has asked the Crime and Corruption Commission to investigate.

Renee Eaves is also demanding an explanation from Queensland Police Service.

Ms Eaves, who won a harassment payout for an unlawful arrest case in 2011, has been a fierce critic of the QPS over a number of scandals.

She launched a Freedom of Information request last month to find out how many times officers had accessed her QPRIME file.

Essentially an online folder of personal information, access to QPRIME files is confined to officers in the duty of their job.

Officers could access the information after pulling over motorists for traffic matters or when they attend addresses on domestic violence matters for instance.

Many people would go through their lives with their file being accessed only a handful of times.

However, Ms Eaves, who says she has been guilty of nothing more than a few traffic offences over the years, says it beggars belief that police would need to access her file more than 1400 times in the past 10 years.

Officers accessed her information a staggering 1435 times from 2006 until as recently as last month.
Renee Eaves was crowned Miss Bikini World in 1999.

In the past, investigations have been conducted when officers have accessed certain information on no more than a handful of occasions.

Ms Eaves has written to the head of the QPS Ethical Standards Command demanding an explanation.

“It’s abuse of public office,” she told The Courier-Mail. “They think that they can access my file whenever they like but they can’t. It’s a breach of privacy laws.

“They have taken action against one officer who accessed a file just once.

“They have accessed mine 1400 times so they are just taking the piss.”

She wrote to Police Minister Bill Byrne, whose office said he could not intervene but suggested she could lodge a complaint with the CCC, which she has now also done.

Ms Eaves said some of the state’s top lawyers had told her the situation was nothing short of disgraceful.

“I’ve been told that some hardcore bikies or hardened criminals would not have had their records searched as often as I have,” she said.

A former international bikini model, Ms Eaves was running a successful modelling agency on the Gold Coast when she was dragged from her home, heavily pregnant and arrested for an alleged traffic matter.

She took on the QPS for unlawful arrest and won a substantial payout.


Spate of carjackings in Melbourne by African APEX gang

Apex members are from South Sudan.  The "modus operandi" of the carjackings was similar in all cases

Carjackers have targeted two luxury car owners in Melbourne within 24 hours, stealing a Mercedes and an Audi.

In the second incident, a 23-year-old driver of an Audi was nudged from behind by a BMW in Malvern on Wednesday morning.

The Audi driver was assaulted with a crowbar when he got out of his car to inspect the damage. His attacker then stole the car and drove off, followed by the BMW.

Ambulance Victoria says the victim suffered upper body injuries and was taken to the Alfred Hospital. He remains in a stable condition.

In a similar incident on Tuesday morning, a 40-year-old was driving his Mercedes in Malvern East when it was repeatedly nudged from behind.  Three people attacked the Mercedes driver with a hammer when he pulled over to assess the damage. The group took the man's keys and made off with his car. He was taken to hospital in a stable condition.

Officers arrested a 16-year-old in relation to the car-jacking a few hours later.

Although detectives don't believe the two incidents are connected, there has been a spate of similar car-jackings in Melbourne in recent months.

Authorities believe the spike was due to improved car security which makes it much harder to hotwire and steal cars.

Police have previously linked some of the worst bumping incidents to the notorious Apex youth crime gang which have also been blamed for a spate of home invasions where keys were demanded and vehicles were stolen.

Recent carjackings in Melbourne include:

June 19 - An 87-year-old woman was pushed to the ground by a man while putting her walker into the car. He stole her keys and drove off with her car, almost running her over in the process.

June 15 - A compact SUV is stolen at gunpoint in Frankston.

June 14 - A man stole a Volkswagen Golf armed with a firearm after initially getting into the car and asking for a lift because he was cold.


Vulpine old bag out to ‘shape agenda’ for "Safe Schools" program into Marxist thinking

The research doyenne behind the controversial Safe Schools curriculum has spoken of “shaping an agenda” in order to attract support for the purported anti-bullying program — a bold ­admission ­likely to fuel concerns about a hidden ideological bent.

Emeritus professor Anne ­Mitchell, whose work with LGBTI communities helped spawn the program, has also ­revealed how early research into young people attracted to those of the same sex was purposely tied to a disease or public health issue to attract funding; initially HIV and later suicide.

“The early work I did in schools was all funded by youth suicide money,” Professor Mitchell told a Safe Schools ­Coalition event last month.

“People loved that — not gay people, but other people loved it. This was a great reason to spend money.”

According to audio leaked from the event, Professor Mitchell also said one of her team’s biggest successes was shifting the issue from the moral arena — given some religious schools would have been ­unlikely to sign on to a program that gave the appearance of supporting homosexuality — to a safety one.

“And schools were grateful of that; it made them feel safe,” she said. “It was a very successful way of shaping an agenda that could go forward at that time.”

Her comments, however, are likely to inflame debate about the Safe Schools program.

They have come to light after highly regarded school curriculum expert Ken Wiltshire ­entered the fray, voicing concerns about the outsourcing of controversial school subjects, such as religious studies and sex education, to “ideological interest groups’’.

“Governments should never outsource the development of curriculum content to interest groups, particularly those with an ideological purpose or ­agenda,” Emeritus Professor Wiltshire told The Australian. “We don’t want material creeping into the curriculum without it being quality ­assured.”

Not only has La Trobe University, through its Australian ­Research Centre for Sex Health and Society, steered much of the research behind Safe Schools, it has lobbied for policies to support LGBTI communities, ­including more inclusive sexuality education.

It now administers the taxpayer-funded Safe Schools ­Coalition Victoria program on the Victorian government’s behalf, with controversial Marxist activist Roz Ward at the helm.

Ms Ward, who was recently suspended for alleged misconduct, only to be reinstated a few days later, has publicly admitted that Safe Schools was not an anti-bullying program but ­rather a tool to promote gender and sexual ­diversity. Professor Mitchell, a founding member of the Australian ­Research Centre for Sex Health and Society, has previously ­said “we are still a way off schools ­actively celebrating the sexual ­diversity of their students”.

The Victorian opposition has pledged to replace the Safe Schools program, which is set to become compulsory in all government schools, with a comprehensive anti-bullying program.


Solar and wind power simply don’t work — not here, not anywhere

By Keith DeLacy, a former Labor treasurer of Queensland

One policy which seems to have escaped scrutiny during this election campaign is Labor’s commitment to increase the Renewable Energy Target to 50 per cent by 2030. I am surprised because it is a proposal that has enormous ramifications for economic growth and living standards, and disproportionate impacts on traditional Labor constituencies.

The problem we have in Australia is when we talk renewable energy we are talking wind and solar only — low value, expensive, unreliable, high capital cost, land hungry, intermittent energy.

According to the Department of Industry and Science wind currently generates 4.1 per cent and solar 2 per cent of Australia’s electricity. But even this is highly misleading because it is such low value power. You could close it down tomorrow (which it regularly does by itself) and it would make no difference to supply.

If we talk about total energy, as opposed to just electricity, wind and solar represent 1 per cent of Australia’s energy consumption. This despite billions of dollars of investment, subsidies, creative tariffs, mandates, and so on.

Solar and wind simply don’t work, not here, not anywhere.

The energy supply is not dense enough. The capital cost of consolidating it makes it cost prohibitive. But they are not only much more expensive because of this terminal disadvantage, they are low value intermittent power sources — every kilowatt has to be backed up by conventional power, dreaded fossil fuels. So we have two capital spends for the same output — one for the renewable and one for the conventional back-up. Are you surprised it is so much more expensive, and inefficient, and always will be? So wind and solar, from a large scale electricity point of view, are duds. Now I know that will send the urgers into paroxysms of outrage. But have you ever seen an industry that so believed its own propaganda. Note, when they eulogise the future of renewables they point to targets, or to costly investments, never to the real contribution to supply.

Let’s look overseas where many countries have been destroying their budgets and their economies on this illusion for longer and more comprehensively than we in Australia. The Germans are ruing the day they decided to save the world by converting to solar and wind. Germany has spent $US100bn on solar technology and it represents less than 1 per cent of their electricity supply.

Energy policy has been a disaster. Subsidies are colossal, the energy market is now chaotic, industry is decamping to other jurisdictions, and more than a million homes have had their power cut off.

It is reported electricity prices in Germany, Spain and the UK increased by 78 per cent, 111 per cent and 133 per cent between 2005 and 2014 as they forced additional renewable capacity into their electricity markets. Sunny Spain used to be the poster boy for renewables in Europe — photovoltaic cells and wind turbines stretching on forever. Now they are broke, winding back subsidies, even the feed-in tariffs which were guaranteed for 20 years. But wait, what about the green energy jobs that everybody gushes about? Spain has an unemployment rate of 21 per cent with a youth rate of 45.5 per cent.

Britain is little better. Subsidies are being wound back, and a Department of Energy report points out that in 2013, the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated at 2.35 million representing around 10.4 per cent of all households.

It is no better in the US either. States with renewable energy mandates are backtracking faster than Sally Pearson can clear hurdles. Ohio has halved its mandate level (it was 25 per cent by 2025) because of high costs. West Virginia has repealed its mandate because of high costs, and New Mexico has frozen its mandates. Kansas was repealing its mandate which reportedly would save ratepayers $171m, representing $4367 for each household, and so the dismal story goes on. The US Department of Energy has found electricity prices have risen in states with mandates twice as fast as those with no mandate. As of 2013 California was the only state to adopt a feed-in tariff for solar power. It was immediately dubbed a failure by the renewable energy community because it offered only 31 cents per kWh, only five times the rate for conventional base load power.

Ah, but Asian countries are jumping on the bandwagon. Maybe. China built one new coalfired power plant every week in 2014, and India’s coal-powered investment in that same year equalled the total electricity capacity of NSW and Queensland. To summarise — with all of the trillions spent worldwide on wind and solar, wind currently represents 1.2 per cent of global consumption of energy, and solar 0.2 per cent.

The good news, it is possible to reduce fossil fuel use in electricity generation — through hydro-electricity and nuclear fuel. Plenty of countries have done it — Canada 60 per cent hydro and 15 per cent nuclear; Sweden 45 per cent hydro and 48 per cent nuclear; Switzerland 54 per cent hydro and 41 per cent nuclear; France 11 per cent hydro and 79 per cent nuclear.

But Australia has zero tolerance of these two workable alternatives to fossil fuels. At least we are consistently inconsistent.

So where does that leave us? On the basis of evidence everywhere we could easily double the price of electricity and get nowhere near the 50 per cent target. What would that mean?

First, it means rapidly disappearing blue collar jobs in high energy industries like manufact­uring, car and ship building, smelting and refining, steel making and food processing. There may be still some construction jobs, but they will largely be assembly only, as all of the components will come from those countries more interested in growing the economy and eliminating poverty than stoking the warm inner glow. Make no bones about it, a clean green economy has no place for high-vis shirts.

Second, rapidly rising electricity prices and the subsequent increase in the cost of living, disproportionately affects those at the bottom of the income scale.

Policies like this are OK for the Greens. They can keep their virtue intact because they never have to deliver. As Gough Whitlam once said, only the impotent are pure.

Mainstream parties don’t have that luxury. They need to look at the true costs, and benefits, of all policy proposals.


23 June, 2016

Prominent Australian homosexual rejects democracy

Because it might cause people to discuss the issues! She is a duly elected Senator and yet she is suffering from discrimination?  A lot of people would like to be that   discriminated against.  She is just a whiner.  We all have our problems but hers would appear to be small  compared with many.  Getting a fancy bit of paper means little these days.  Large numbers of couples live together without one

Heterosexual politicians calling for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage don’t understand the fear and animosity faced by LGBTI Australians, the senior Labor frontbencher Penny Wong has argued.

Wong made the remarks in the Lionel Murphy memorial lecture at the Australian National University on Tuesday.

She raised the fact that LGBTI Australians face abuse online, that they are still victims of assault and fear holding hands in public, to demonstrate their opposition to a divisive plebiscite is well-founded.

It comes after the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said on FM radio in the Northern Territory on Tuesday that Bill Shorten was “running a scare campaign about a plebiscite on gay marriage”. Turnbull said a plebiscite would be conducted in a civil and respectful way.

“Bill Shorten should have more respect for the decency and common sense of Australians,” he said.

Labor has stepped up its attack on the government’s plan for a plebiscite on the issue, Shorten describing it on Sunday as “a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia”.

In the lecture, Wong said the non-binding plebiscite was “just the latest in a series of obstacles erected by opponents of marriage equality”.

The senator said the former prime minister Tony Abbott had proposed a plebiscite “because he had exhausted other avenues to stymie the demand for a free vote in the Liberal party room”.

Wong said Turnbull’s claims the plebiscite campaign would be respectful were “the hollowest of hollow words”.  “I know that a plebiscite designed to deny me and many other Australians a marriage certificate will instead license hate speech to those who need little encouragement.”

“Mr Turnbull – and many commentators on this subject – don’t understand that for gay and lesbian Australians hate speech is not abstract,” Wong said.

She said she faced abuse in her Twitter feed that signalled “words that hurt” would be used in the debate against LGBTI Australians less resilient than herself.

Wong said assaults – and worse – of LGBTI Australians were not unknown, even today. “Many gay and lesbian people don’t hold hands on the street because they don’t know what reaction they’ll get,” she said. “Some hide who they are for fear of the consequences at home, at work and at school.

“Not one straight politician advocating a plebiscite on marriage equality knows what that’s like. What it’s like to live with the casual and deliberate prejudice that some still harbour.”

Wong argued Australia did not hold plebiscites on other fundamental issues of justice and human rights, such as abolishing the death penalty, ending the white Australia policy or enacting the native title regime.

“I don’t oppose a plebiscite because I doubt the good sense of the Australian people. I oppose a plebiscite because I don’t want my relationship – my family – to be the subject of inquiry, of censure, of condemnation, by others.”

The Greens’ LGBTI spokesman, Robert Simms, told Guardian Australia he was worried about the effect of the plebiscite on young people.

“I remember my own process [of] coming out. How in my home state of South Australia at the opening of the gay lesbian pride parade there were street preachers [railing against homosexuality],” he said. “I would hate to imagine the effect we’d see in a national plebiscite.”

Australian Marriage Equality has renewed its calls for same-sex marriage to be legislated by parliament, with a campaign in the federal election opposing the plebiscite.

Wong’s speech comes as the Australian Christian Lobby released an election guide blasting Labor for opposing a plebiscite. It also claimed Labor’s policies to recognise transgender people’s gender identity would “make public toilets unsafe for women and girls”.

AME national spokeswoman Shirleene Robinson told Guardian Australia: “Everyone is entitled to their views but we must remember we are talking about real people, members of our families, our friends and neighbours and our tone and and language must respect their dignity.

“Words can inflict terrible harm sometimes and we would ask that people of all opinions remember that. Our Australian values are based on a fair go and respect for all and its important that these values underpin our national conversation on marriage equality.”

Debate in Australia has been marked by controversial material against marriage equality, including a pamphlet printed by a former MP claiming children of same-sex couples may be more likely to be victims of sexual abuse or abuse drugs, and a booklet sent to Catholic schools warning that “same-sex friendships” are very different from “real marriages”.


Foreign farmland ownership poll finds almost nine out of 10 Australians opposed

This is a bit irrational.  The Chinese cannot exactly pick the land up and take it back to China

A growing number of Australians are opposed to foreign ownership of Australian farmland, according to a poll by the Lowy Institute.

The poll was taken after the initial Chinese bid on Kidman holding was rejected

The poll showed that 87 per cent of respondents were against the Federal Government allowing foreign companies to buy Australian agricultural land — six percentage points higher than a similar survey four years ago.

The Lowy Institute also said the proportion of people in favour of overseas ownership has fallen from 18 per cent to 11 per cent.

"Our 2016 results show that foreign investment in agricultural land has become increasingly unpopular, suggesting it will remain a politically fraught issue," said Dr Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute.

The national telephone poll of 1,200 Australians was conducted between February 26 and March 15, about two months after the Federal Treasurer's initial rejection of a Chinese bid for the Kidman cattle empire which includes Australia's largest private landholding.

Treasurer Scott Morrison formally rejected a reworked Chinese-Australian bid for S. Kidman and Co in April this year.

The ABC today revealed that Mr Morrison has granted the foreign owners of Cubbie Station an extra three years to comply with an original condition of the sale, that it sell down its stake from 80 per cent to 51 per cent.

Mr Morrison's office has confirmed that Chinese textile giant Shandong Ruyi requested more time to find an additional investor, indicating it was unable to meet the original October 2015 deadline.

Melbourne-based family company Lempriere took the remaining 20 per cent stake in Cubbie when it was sold in 2012.

The sale sparked a fierce national debate over foreign investment and the National Party and several independents fought to stop it.

"Consistent with Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) advice, the Treasurer granted a three-year extension which was reflective of the genuine undertakings [Shandong] Ruyi has made to sell-down its interest," Mr Morrison's office said in a statement to the ABC.

"It also recognises the fact [Shandong] Ruyi has met the other undertakings placed on it through the FIRB approval process."

But Tim Burrows from lobby group Agribusiness Australia said he was concerned the Government approach to foreign investment deals was inconsistent.

"The industry's quite happy to have a firm 'yes' or 'no', but they need to know before they go into the due diligence or analysis or the proposal of a purchase as to what the rules are," he said.

"We can't have a situation where the rules change many months after the investor's started looking at the project or the proposal."


Going Out With A Bang: Could Algal Sex Save The Reef?

It’s no secret that the domestic situation between corals and the algae that live inside has become a little heated in recent months, but scientists may have found a way to get that steamy relationship get back on track.

First, a bit of background: The mass coral bleaching that has savaged the Great Barrier Reef over recent months occurred because of unusually warm ocean temperatures, driven by climate change and an El Nino weather system.

The bleaching starts when corals expel a type of algae that normally lives inside them, and gives them their colour. When the water becomes too warm, the algae gets all hot under the collar, and starts producing toxins that damage the corals.

That’s why the algae get turfed out. But the algae are the coral’s main source of food, so they starve, get bleached white, and are eventually overrun by a different kind of algae.

Clearly, it’s a marriage in crisis – which is why scientists have mounted an intervention.

New research published in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution has revealed that the water of the Coral Sea isn’t the only thing that has been getting hot of late.

The algae appear to have responded to the conditions by starting to reproduce sexually, instead of asexually, and it turns out this promiscuity could help save the corals’ relationship with their special algae friends too.

The difference is that when the algae produce asexually they produce a more-or-less identical copy of themselves. If they produce sexually, different algae’s genetic codes get spliced together, which produces new variants of algae.

The algae that can stand the heat are less likely to get all toxic, and therefore less likely to be sent to the dog-house by the corals, which are in turn less likely to bleach. It’s a raunchy sort of survival of the fittest.

Professor Madeleine van Oppen, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was one of the scientists involved in the study. She said the findings are “critical in terms of developing more climate-resilient algae and corals”.

The algae’s sexual reproduction was only a small part of the study. The main finding was that some algae use a mechanism to switch on genes which produce special proteins in order to protect themselves from heat exposure and mop up some of the toxic chemicals that poison their symbiotic relationship with the coral.

The sexual reproduction is important, though, because it speeds up evolution and might allow the algae to adapt quickly enough to tolerate the rise in sea temperatures.

It’s a bit of good news in a sea of bad, for those of us rooting for the Great Barrier Reef.


Federal election 2016: AMA head calls out Shorten’s Medicare scare

Bill Shorten has been called out over his scare campaign against “privatising Medicare”, as the nation’s peak doctors’ group rejects his claims and backs the case for fixing the “rusty” payment system that supports universal healthcare.

The Australian Medical Association has broken with Labor to insist that outsourcing the payments would “in no way” amount to the privatisation of Medicare, demolishing the argument that is now central to the Opposition Leader’s election campaign. With the claims over Medicare emerging as a test of trust for voters, Malcolm Turnbull has launched an advertisement that rejects the Labor claims as he accuses Mr Shorten of attempting the “biggest lie” of the election campaign.

New AMA president Michael Gannon told The Australian that he and his colleagues backed Labor on some of its policies but that its claims about privatisation went too far.

“The idea that you might outsource the payment system to the private sector is in no way the privatisation of Medicare,” Dr Gannon said. “The current system is old and many elements of it date well back to the early 1980s. They’re antiquated, they’re rusty and the system needs substantial investment.”

Labor has made the fear of a Medicare sell-off its dominant message since its official campaign launch last Sunday, when Mr Shorten told voters the government was “privatising Medicare” and seeking to “tear down” the ­entire system. The Labor campaign is based on the assumption that the payment system is the same as Medicare itself, but Dr Gannon rejected that argument and said Medicare was the provision of universal healthcare in hospitals and bulk-billing for visits to the doctor.

“A move to change the payments system would not involve the privatisation of the whole show,” Dr Gannon said.

Mr Shorten yesterday told a wheelchair-bound 12-year-old girl “if I become prime minister we’ll properly fund hospitals” as Labor was accused of calling pensioners late at night and claiming Medicare was under threat.

“What has been happening down there is union officials and others from the Labor Party have been ringing women over the age of 65 in their homes and telling them this lie about Medicare,” Scott Morrison said.

The government has spent or budgeted more than $10 million to examine private sector options to fix the system, including hiring consultants to examine “commercial provision” of payment services. The Australian has obtained government documents under Freedom of Information laws warning that a new system would be needed within four years “whether resulting from outsourcing, replacement or upgrading” to improve services for patients.

At one point, the Claiming Medicare Benefits Online facility was unavailable for 24 hours, and a heavily redacted minute for the department secretary reveals it was taken offline “to arrest the sudden increase in potentially fraudulent claims” and implement additional controls. “It is expected that this will reduce exposure to fraud but will not eliminate all risk,” the minute states.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, which is running an advertising campaign highly critical of government savings on Medicare rebates, backed the case for fixing the payment system. College president Frank Jones said: “We have a fairly complicated infrastructure for a payment system in Australia, it’s fairly clunky and I’m sure IT can bring us into the 21st century. But it’s got to work for the benefit of patients, GPs, principals and practice staff.”

The AMA president’s remarks are important because the peak body supports Labor on several of its health policies but is drawing the line on the privatisation claims.

“We’ve very strongly supported the Labor Party’s policy on ­increased funding for public hospitals; we’ve very strongly come out and supported them on their policy to undo the freeze (on the indexation of Medicare rebates),” Dr Gannon said. “And just last weekend I was very happy to support the Labor Party’s announcement that they were going to deal with potential out-of-pocket costs for radiology and pathology. On the area of privatisation of Medicare, I don’t think they’re right.”

Labor has based its scare campaign on two government reviews, including a May 2014 program to seek commercial ideas from payment service providers and a Productivity Commission review of government services delivery.

Dr Gannon, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St John of God Subiaco Hospital in Perth, said there was no risk to patients from outsourcing the payment system.

In a sign of the political danger from the issue, Labor and the ACTU are calling voters to warn of the “serious disadvantage” from the “privatisation of Medicare” under the Coalition. One voter who received one of the calls told The Australian yesterday it was “absolutely unconscionable” for the ACTU to make the false claim in its unsolicited call.

Mr Turnbull has rejected the outsourcing of the Medicare payments in the hope of neutralising the Labor claims but is facing questions over his claim the matter had “never” gone to federal cabinet.

But the Health Department decision on the documents sought by The Australian under Freedom of Information laws ruled that a letter from the Prime Minister to Health Minister Sussan Ley last October could not be released because it was a cabinet document.


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

22 June, 2016

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching could cost $1b in lost tourism, research suggests

This is research about what people have been told, not research about the reef or actual tourist numbers.  Far from tourism dying off amid the present state of the reef, we read:

It comes as tourism booms in the region with Cairns leading the growth of hotels in Australia with demand strong and no new major hotel opening in the past two years. Hotel data benchmarking group STR Global has reported city hotel occupancies are up 6.6 per cent and revenues per available room have jumped nearly 14 per cent in the year to April 2016. Sales of hotels in the region have been strong on the back of the rise in tourism with five hotels selling for nearly $150m in the past 18 months

Cairns is of course the main jumping off point for reef tourism.

And why is tourism flourishing there?  Because the situation is not as Greenies describe it.  Tourism operators have no difficulty in taking people to flourishing reefs.  There are some parts of the reef that are temporarily out of action but there are plenty of parts that are fine.  There is nothing to disrupt the tourist experience

If there are problems with the reef they lie in what Greenies say about it.  They do not lie with the reef itself.  It is deceitful Greenies that are the problem

Continued coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef could see international and domestic visitors to the region plummet by more than a million people a year, research by the Australia Institute warns.

The institute surveyed more than 3,000 Chinese, US and UK visitors, as well as 1,400 domestic tourists.

The Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Harbour Bridge were selected by international respondents as being their top Australian tourist attractions.

But the natural wonder is experiencing its most severe bleaching event on record, with an estimated 22 per cent of its coral, mostly in its northern sections, having died.

One of the survey questions in the Australia Institute research asked respondents: "If the Great Barrier Reef continues to experience severe bleaching and some of the reef dies completely, would you be more likely to choose an alternative holiday destination?"

More than one-third of Americans answered yes, as did 27 per cent of UK tourists and 55 per cent of Chinese.

"Across those three countries there are 175,000 tourists who risk not coming to Australia at all if the reef continues to be bleached," the Australia Institute's executive director Ben Oquist said.

The research states that nearly 900,000 Australian tourists would most likely choose somewhere else to visit if the reef continues to experience bleaching.

"Along with visitor numbers, the potential loss of tourism revenue represents almost one-third of the $3.3 billion spent by holiday visitors to reef regions each year, which supports between 39,000 and 45,000 jobs," the Australia Institute's report states.

"Around 10,000 jobs are at risk from decreased visitation and spending if severe coral bleaching of the reef continues."

"I definitely agree with [the research findings]," said John Rumney, who's been running reef tours off far north Queensland for 40 years.

"As soon as the reef passes that critical point, that tipping point, and we don't have something nice to show people, they'll stop coming."

According to The Guardian, some Cairns operators have reportedly refused to take journalists out on the reef for fear of feeding more negative publicity.

Mr Rumney said it was time his industry openly debated the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

"Everyone in the reef business knows in their hearts that their business is related to a healthy reef. It's just they're afraid to say anything about it because it will be construed as 'oh it's bad now, it's too late'. No, if we don't take any action it will be too late."

The Australia Institute research singles out coal as a leading contributor to climate change, which scientists in turn blame for rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching.

"Four in five people work in service industries, while only 1 per cent work in the coal industry," the report said. "Policies such as a moratorium on new coal mines can be implemented with a minimal effect on the Queensland economy."

Two-thirds of Australian respondents in the survey said there would be a negative impact on the reef if Australia continues to build new coal mines.

"If we're going to save the Barrier Reef and if we're going to address climate change it's clear the world has got to start burning less coal and using less coal and to start that we've got to start approving less mines," Mr Oquist said.


Chinese tourists forecast to spend more than $4.1b in Australia in 2016

Spending by Chinese tourists is forecast to jump to $4.1 billion in Australia this year as a growing middle class and appetite for quality goods and clothes spur spending, according to a report.

The report Golden Dragons: The Spending Habits of Chinese Tourists from Cross Border Management, warned a lack of engagement from Australian retailers during winter months to Chinese tourists may mean a missed revenue opportunity.

"Surveys of Chinese shoppers show they want (language) signs, the company of other Chinese, and someone who can help them while they're shopping," the report said.

"Although the value of Chinese New Year has generally been recognised and Chinese shoppers get swept up in the normal Christmas promotions, little attention has been paid to Chinese tourists visiting during the winter months."

CBM, a firm that specialises in helping Australian companies sell to Chinese customers, said the second-biggest time for Chinese tourists after Chinese New Year are the school holidays that fall in July and August, forecasting $700 million will be spent during the period in Australia this year.

Chinese tourists spent an average of $2,499 per person in Australia in 2015, CBM said.

"The significance of this holiday season is growing as more and more Chinese become affluent enough to travel, and have jobs offering paid vacation time," the report said.

Retail sales in April came in at a relatively weak 0.2 per cent growth, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as retailers flagged an unseasonably warm winter was impacting sales.

In a report last year, the Tourism Research Australia showed China topped the list of high spenders while on holiday in Australia, followed by South Korea, Japan and Taiwan during 2011 to 2013.

A high spender is defined as having an average spend of $330 per day or spending $4,200 or more for an entire trip.


NSW budget 2016: Healthy surplus and almost no debt, a feat few have achieved

It is a feat few governments, federal or state, have achieved in modern times.  New South Wales is emerging from a boom in rude financial health.

The budget unveiled by NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian shows an economy with a healthy surplus, almost no debt, record infrastructure spending and close to full employment, courtesy of a housing construction boom that has swelled the state's coffers.

It is a performance that stands in stark contrast to that of Western Australia that has exited the greatest resources boom in history with $33 billion in debt, a $3.9 billion deficit and the ignominy of having been stripped of its AAA credit rating.

While NSW Premier Mike Baird will gladly and quite rightly accept the accolades for his economic management, the turnaround in the state's fortunes in the past three years has largely been driven by decisions made just across the road from his office.

When Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens pulled the trigger on interest rate cuts in late 2012, he did so with the deliberate intention of firing up the east coast housing market to spark a construction boom that hopefully would soak up mine workers being laid off in the west. It worked. Aided by the 30 per cent drop in the dollar, NSW was propelled from bottom of the heap to top of the pile.

In the process, already overpriced Sydney real estate surged a further 50 per cent — that helped stamp duty revenues scale Himalayan levels.

In the current financial year, $8.9 billion flooded into the Treasury, almost $1 billion more than anticipated this time last year.

The question is: how long can this continue? The Treasurer claims stamp duty revenue will continue to grow, although at a dramatically slower rate, over the next four years.

That, however, is based on the assumption that "the current dwelling investment cycle is expected to be more prolonged than previous cycles".

Given widespread predictions of a looming glut in apartments in Sydney and other major centres, concerns are building that prices could decline and construction slow dramatically.

GST decline a threat to finances

The Treasurer argues that a forecast decline in GST distributions poses a bigger threat to the state's finances.  "We are the victims of our own success," she said, referring to the formula that dictates financially robust states support those states in difficulty.

Within four years, NSW will be subsidising other states like never before with the apportionment dropping to a record low of 0.81 from around current levels of 0.95.

While GST contributes more than three times as much revenue as the property windfall, stamp duty takings are far more volatile.  And that heightens the risks property poses in maintaining surpluses over the next few years.

Like many Sydneysiders, the State Government has become a captive of the property market. So don't expect any tax reform that would threaten revenue.

Another major factor driving the surpluses has been the State Government's discipline ensuring costs grow slower than revenues.

There's also some sleight of hand in the accounting. Last year, transport "reforms" that effectively removed a huge chunk of costs from the books contributed to a more than doubling in this year's projected surplus. There was no mention of the change this year.


Q&A: Malcolm Turnbull defends 'harsh' asylum seeker policy

Malcolm Turnbull faced questions on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to health funding and returning the budget to surplus during a special Q&A program where he was the sole panel member.

An Iranian man appearing by video from Manus Island questioned Malcolm Turnbull about why he could not come to Australia.

Mr Turnbull would not comment on the man's individual circumstances but said he did not have a heart of stone.

"It is a tough policy, I grant you that, it is a harsh policy," Mr Turnbull said. "But in government and in politics, often you are presented with tough choices and the alternative is not a theoretical one.

"It's what Kevin Rudd delivered, regrettably — 50,000 unauthorised arrivals, 1,200 deaths at sea of which we know, doubtless there were more."


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

21 June, 2016

Shut down the sheiks who incite violence by Muslims

Janet Albrechtsen

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out  -- because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me -- Martin Niemoller, 1892-1984

The Protestant pastor who, for being an outspoken critic of Hitler, spent the final seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps

That history often repeats itself imperfectly shouldn’t discourage us from learning from the past. Martin Niemoller’s lesson about political apathy, first delivered in Europe’s postwar years, has ramifications in the 21st century.

Islamist terrorists, under different names, from al-Qa’ida to Hezbollah to Islamic State and others, came for the Jews first. Then they came for the Americans on 9/11, then the British people on buses and walking along London streets.

Then other Islamist terrorists, using different names but infused with a similar religious ideology, came for prepubescent Nigerian schoolgirls. Others came to murder Yazidi boys and men; they came for the Yazidi girls too, selling and raping them.

They came for the gays in Syria and Iraq, tossing them off rooftops. They gunned down iconoclastic French cartoonists in Paris, young Parisians in a nightclub too, others in a restaurant, a cafe. French policemen were slaughtered on the street. Men advocating the same Islamist terrorist cause came for customers in a Sydney cafe, a Sydney police worker.

Then, on Sunday at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, they came for the gays, murdering 49 people. They will come for others, too. Every Western country is on high alert to prevent further murder at the hands of Islamic terrorists. It’s not that we are saying nothing. We say plenty each time Islamic terrorists strike. But too few say what’s needed. And that leads to the challenge raised by Niemoller: does silence equal complicity when it allows evil to continue?

Three fundamental failures rooted in politics, law and culture have led the West to a dangerous inflexion point in relation to the way we use words in the terrorism space. Politically, we fail to discuss the critical issue of the relationship between Islam and terrorism. Legally, we have laws that fail to prosecute those who incite murderous violence. Culturally, we have created a system of competitive victimhood, where people vie for victimhood status, become infantilised by a bevy of laws and concomitant social diktats about what can and cannot be said.

There is a direct relationship between each of these societal failures. The explosion of feelings-based claims, legal or otherwise, distracts us from confronting those who incite others to violence and, most critically, it fuels a modern veneration of victimhood that stifles critical debates about the values and future of Western liberal democracies.

US President Barack Obama has come to symbolise the political failure. Time and again, he has shied away from even mentioning the root cause of modern terrorism: radical Islamic ideology. This week, Obama confected outrage over this analysis of his presidency. He built a straw man that he could easily tear down. “Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man, if we really use that phrase (radical Islam) we’re going to turn this thing around’,” he said as he criticised the term as just a talking point.

Except that Obama hasn’t managed to talk about this talking point. Not once this week has he engaged on the great challenge facing the West: the relationship between Islam and terrorism. If the leader of the free world cannot speak honestly about this, who can?

Refreshingly, in July last year British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s dangerous to deny the link with Islam because when you do that you neuter the important voices challenging the religious basis which terrorists use for their own warped purposes.”

Alas, one good speech is not a conversation. In Australia, Malcolm Turnbull begrudgingly manages to mention “radical Islamists” and there the real conversation stops before it’s even started.

The departure of Sheik Farrokh Sekaleshfar from Australia on Tuesday night raises questions for us to consider. Sekaleshfar came as a guest of the Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Sydney’s Earlwood. Sekaleshfar has previously said having the death penalty for homosexuals in Islamic societies “is nothing to be embarrassed about”.

He outlined those views in Orlando just weeks before gays were slaughtered in the Pulse nightclub. He told the ABC, “I am a follower of the Islamic faith” and, according to Islamic faith, gays can be put to death in certain circumstances.

According to the sheik, death is appropriate, indeed compassionate, to end the life of sinning homo­sexuals if they have sex in public. “You will sin less … we’ve saved you,” Sekaleshfar said.

The sheik has left Australia. He has been rightly condemned. The Turnbull government is reviewing visa processes. And now? Silence and a hope maybe that the sheik’s rapid exit from Australia will let sleeping dogs lie.

Yet uncomfortable and important questions remain not just unanswered but unasked. Do the members of the Imam Husain Islamic Centre, as followers of the Islamic faith, also accept the sheik’s views about death sometimes being an appropriate punishment for gays? What about members of the Islamic faith beyond this Islamic centre in Earlwood? Do they agree with Islam’s violent attitude towards homosexuals?

On Thursday evening at Kirribilli, the Prime Minister hosted senior Islamic leaders, including Sheik Shady Alsuleiman, president of the Australian National Imams Council, who has condemned gays for “spreading diseases” and delivering “evil outcomes to our society”. Among the guests was Hafez Kassem, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, who has said gays should be treated with medication; and Supreme Islamic Shia Council head Kamal Mous­selmani, who defended Sekaleshfar’s right to ­believe that gays should be put to death. Just imagine the outrage from the Left if a Catholic leader had said such things.

How many Australians Muslims represented by these Islamic leaders support these homophobic and violent views? Cultural relativism doesn’t cut it here. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in The Wall Street Journal this week, Muslim homophobia is institutionalised by Islamic law and homosexuality is criminalised in 40 out of 57 Muslim-majority countries.

Iran hangs men for being gay. Islamic State throws homosexuals off tall buildings. “Homophobia comes in many forms,” writes Hirsi Ali. “But none is more dangerous in our time than the Islamic version.”

If you advocate death for a group of people, you are inciting violence. That ought to be a crime. Even ardent defenders of free speech shouldn’t tolerate words that incite violence. Yet NSW, where so many terrorist attacks have happened and many more have been planned, has become an unfortunate template for the wretched legal and political failures to prevent those who knowingly and deliberately incite others to cause physical harm to people.

Section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, enacted in 1989, prohibits those who incite violence towards others on the basis of race. There has not been a single prosecution, let alone a conviction. Not even when the spiritual leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Ismail al-Wahwah, called for “jihad against the Jews”, when he called Jews a “cancerous tumour” that had to be “uprooted” and destroyed. His violent words were uploaded to YouTube, accessible to every young man with murder on his mind and hatred in his heart.

There have been empty political words and undelivered promises from NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton about keeping the state safe: the state’s Liberal government has done nothing so far to ensure this law is enforceable and enforced.

Meanwhile, laws at the federal level haul young students into court for using words that simply hurt the feelings of a woman who worked at the Queensland University of Technology.

We have not just lost all sense of proportion. We have lost sight of principle. Inciting violence should limit our right to speak freely. Hurting someone’s feelings should not. Our failure on both fronts is dangerous. Laws that protect hurt feelings have created a wider, informal but no less powerful muzzle on us, preventing us from having necessary conversations about Islam. The same strictures infantilise Muslims as too irrational or too vulnerable to discuss their own faith.

Islamophobia epithets are routinely thrown around to enforce what has become a deadly silence. If a few Australian Muslims won’t critique their religion, just as Christianity and Judaism have been challenged from within over hundreds of years, then, as Orlando shows, an internal problem for Islam becomes our problem. Islam’s homophobia, divined from scripture and most recently enunciated by Sekaleshfar, struck at young gay men and women dancing in the nightclub in Orlando. Who’s next? And when will someone finally speak up about what is at stake for Islam and the West?


Shorten’s jobs scheme dream won’t work

Here we go again — another jobs scheme dream. Take close to $260 million of taxpayers’ money, give a 140 per cent tax break to microbusinesses (with turnover less than $2m) that take on young workers, old workers or parents returning to work and, voila, 30,000 jobs are created annually.

Pull the other one, Bill Shorten. Couldn’t you have come up with something better than this for Labor’s big campaign launch?

We have experience with these sorts of wage subsidy programs going back more than 40 years. We know they don’t work, that they carry very high administration costs and that any apparent new jobs are offset by displaced workers. We also know they are gamed by employers.

So why would you bother? After all, most of the state governments have a raft of these useless policies. In Victoria, for example, we have the Back to Work program and the Youth Employment Scheme. The key driver of these schemes is the scope for the government to demonstrate that “something is being done” while keeping the rising number of bureaucrats busy.

So it is with federal Labor’s weekend thought-bubble, even though this new federal scheme would be tripping over state schemes that have the same targets. Labor is “all about people”, helping marginal workers into work, even if it is at the expense of other workers.

The thing that really cracks me up about these wage subsidy schemes — which are also supported by Coalition governments (just check out Scott Morrison’s doozy in the budget, the appalling titled Jobs PaTH) — is their implicit acknowledgment that the wages employers must pay to hire these workers are above market-clearing levels.

If this were not the case, employers would willingly take them without any taxpayer assistance.

The real policy lesson is that we need sufficient labour market flexibility to allow these (initially) low-productivity workers to contract into the labour market, rather than introduce another expensive and ineffective jobs program.


Tony Abbott for Defence Minister

Tony Abbott isn’t going anywhere. The former prime minister has been saying so for a while, and now it’s time for the new regime to get serious about what to do with him.

He wants to be the Defence Minister.  He hasn’t said so in a public way but everybody knows it. He wants Senator Marise Payne’s position in a new Turnbull government.

The question for the new Prime Minister – presuming, as now looks likely, that the Turnbull government is returned – is whether to give it to him.

One problem that immediately needs to be overcome is the shortage of women on the Coalition frontbench. Yes, there are more women in Turnbull’s cabinet than there were in Abbott’s but they still aren’t there in the kind of numbers that would make a move on Payne’s position easy to explain away, especially not if Kelly O’Dwyer loses her seat to the Greens.

On the other hand, Abbott is the base. He represents rock-solid conservatism that lies at the heart of the Liberal Party. Without the base, the party does not survive.

Abbott was on Ray Hadley’s radio program in Sydney this morning, talking about his future. Hadley asked him straight out what role he wanted to play in a Turnbull government, and Abbott wouldn’t say anything other than he was hoping to be re-elected as the member for Warringah.

That’s not all he wants. Abbott sees himself as the person who can represent blue-ribbon conservative values in a Cabinet led by a man who holds positions – both privately and publicly – at odds with the base.

Does Turnbull want Abbott in Cabinet? Of course not. He wants Abbott to go away. To retire from politics. To take one of the plums that has been dangled before him – a position in London, perhaps? – and leave Turnbull to govern as he sees fit for the next three years.

That’s not how politics works. Politics is a bit like war: you have to go in with the army you’ve got, and Abbott intends to be part of the team.

He is not going away. Therefore, Turnbull – who is unquestionably going to collect a few nicks and dings as he makes his way back to The Lodge - has to work with him.

Abbott would argue that the sensible thing would be to give him a ministry, and preferably the one he wants.

Hadley this morning suggested Aboriginal Affairs. Abbott was, after all, the leader who said he wanted to be Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, but he pushed that suggestion away.

Aboriginal reconciliation, Constitutional recognition – these are matters for the Prime Minister, he said.

So should Turnbull give him defence? You can’t see him doing so willingly, or generously. Not at all. How about pragmatically?

Turnbull is not at heart a pragmatist. He’s a deal maker, but that’s different. That’s about giving something in the expectation of receiving something in return.

Turnbull made plenty of promises to people on his side of politics in exchange for their support for the leadership. Payne was one of his supporters (as was Kelly O’Dwyer).

Abbott will not like it, but the odds are against this move. That said, readers, you are the base: what would you do? The Prime Minister probably needs to hear.


Triggs rejects Callinan offer to role in uni race case

Gillian Triggs has rebuffed an offer from former High Court judge Ian Callinan QC to investigate the Human Rights Commission’s handling of a vexed racial-hatred complaint against university students in Queensland.

Mr Callinan, who retired from Australia’s highest court in 2007, agreed to independently conduct the probe after being asked by the lawyer for a student from the Queensland University of Technology, Alex Wood.

Mr Wood is one of several ­students whose Facebook posts led to them being accused by university staffer Cindy Prior under the Racial Discrimination Act’s section 18C, which makes unlawful any act reasonably likely to ­offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person because of their race. The students and QUT are being sued by Ms Prior for more than $250,000.

Ms Prior, who is indigenous, had turned white students including Mr Wood away from QUT’s indigenous-only Oodgeroo Unit in May 2013 after they had turned up to access computers not in use.

Students expressed annoyance at their ejection on social media and Mr Wood wrote on Facebook: “Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT (is) stopping segregation with segregation.”

A recent formal complaint by the students that their rights were breached by the HRC’s conduct in mismanaging the case prompted Ms Triggs to ask a Sydney silk, Angus Stewart SC, to investigate. Mr Stewart’s role is being challenged by the students for reasons including his purported former ties as a student in the 1980s to the African National Congress in South Africa.

Mr Stewart, who is from South Africa, where he served as an acting judge, has rejected suggestions that any reasonable person would believe him to be biased.

Mr Wood’s lawyer, Michael Henry, also raised objections ­including that Mr Stewart had acted in Australia for “a number of well-resourced Aboriginal Land Corporations” Mr Wood believes are funding Ms Prior’s actions.

The HRC’s lawyer, John Howell, replied to Mr Henry on Friday: “The ‘concerns’ you raise about Mr Stewart are without foundation. They include a number of assertions about the supposed ideological views of both Mr Stewart and clients you say he has acted for. Any suggestion that he would not be impartial or capable of undertaking any inquiry and conciliation functions as a result of the matters discussed in your submission is rejected.”

Mr Howell said Ms Triggs “wishes if possible to avoid a (situation) that might lead to a deterioration in Mr Wood’s wellbeing. For that reason, she is prepared to consider making an alternate (appointment)”. The most accomplished on a short list of four proposed by Mr Wood’s lawyer was the former Howard government’s conservative High Court choice, Mr Callinan. However, Mr Howell said Ms Triggs was “not minded to” offer the role to any of the candidates on Mr Henry’s shortlist.

The alternative proposed by Ms Triggs is a senior lawyer, Rowena Orr QC, who had not previously performed work for the commission or its president.

Ms Prior says she has suffered­ “offence, embarrassment, humiliation and psychiatric injury­” as well as fears for her safety due to the Facebook posts. Her complaint to the HRC alleging racial hatred in May 2014 was escalated to the Federal Court a year later in a process in which the students were not advised they faced serious racial hatred charges.

Ms Triggs has given the students until late this month to consider the alternative appointment of an investigator of their complaint. The Federal Circuit Court’s ­Michael Jarrett has reserved his decision on a bid by the students to have the case dismissed.

The legal costs in the case for parties including the university are estimated at more than $1 million.


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

20 June, 2016

Shorten began as a Faceless Man, but he's now become Everyman

The more goodies he promises, the less credible he is

The former union leader and backroom dealer who plotted to remove two Labor leaders is now empathising with anyone and promising money to everyone.

Kissing the overfriendly lady in Adelaide who wouldn't let go – "good on you Margot" - and embracing the struggling young autistic man in East Maitland – "you'll get there" – Shorten is doing as his motto says, "putting people first".

His campaign launch on Sunday showcased the breadth and depth of his empathy through commitments of taxpayers' money.

The Labor party had already promised more than $16 billion in new spending in the course of the election campaign, more than triple the Coalition's $5 billion.

Now the leader spelt out promises worth a further $3 billion. There was Cross River Rail for Brisbane at $800 million, a rail link for Sydney's Badgerys Creek airport at $400 million, Metro Rail for Melbourne at $380 million, a park and ride plan for Melbourne at $120 million.

The nearest hospital, Nepean, was promised $86 million.

Less expensive but more appealing on a human level were Shorten's announcements of $82 million for suicide prevention and mental health, $257 million for a new tax break to encourage small businesses to hire workers in special need, and then there was Medicare.

Medicare is the central pull of Shorten's appeal. It's a negative scare campaign cleverly disguised as a positive promise.

The Coalition government, as Malcolm Turnbull spelled out over the weekend, is fully committed to keeping Medicare intact. He emphatically ruled out the privatisation of any part of Medicare, even back-office processing.

But Labor's campaign blithely dismisses this as the chicanery of the conservatives. The Tories secretly want to sell Medicare, Labor claims. "This election is a referendum on the future of Medicare!" Shorten thundered.

The Coalition did cut the scale of government subsidy for pathology and imaging tests as a cost-saving measure. Shorten promised to reverse this, at a cost estimated by the Parliamentary Budget Office to be $884 million.

"When you are in the fight for your life," Shorten said, "you need a government on your side and we will be that government."

This is strong stuff, cleverly done.  There was more, much more, for everyone. Except big business.

Labor is behind in the marginal seats where it needs to be ahead if it is to win. But Shorten can see that millions of voters are undecided and unattached and he is searching for a way to appeal to every one of them. The problem is that, with every new billion-dollar promise, all of his promises become less credible.

The people know that neither major party has curbed the deficit. And Labor has even less public trust on this than the Coalition, though both are equally culpable.

Shorten has campaigned well, but he cannot be all things to all people, and the more goodies he promises, the less credible he will be.


The Reef’s Self-Serving Saviours


(Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs. He grew up in the Florida Keys and received a PhD in marine science from the University of Miami in 1964.  He has over 40 years worldwide experience in reef studies and his work has encompassed the discovery of much of the basic nature of reef biology. In this process over 100 species of fishes, which were new to science, were found as well as numerous, corals, shells, crustaceans and other new discoveries)

All the many and varied claims of threats are based on speculation and the flat-out fabrications of researchers, bureaucrats and activists seeking grants and donations. Let us hope that a political leader emerges to decry and defund the gold-plated alarmists and the immense harm they are doing

coral not coalVirtually every year for the past half-century news reports have bannered dire proclamations by “reef experts” on imminent “threats” to the Great Barrier Reef. This has sustained an ongoing, ever-growing charade of “research” and “management” aimed at saving the reef from a litany of hypothetical threats conjured up by a salvation industry which now costs taxpayers over $100 million annually. Although none of these “threats” have ever proven to be anything other than hypothetical possibilities or  temporary fluctuations of nature, the doomsters never cease to rummage through their litany of concerns to find something they can present as urgent in order to keep the funding flowing.

For a time in the 1970s and ’80s genuine basic research was beginning to reveal a fascinating range of new understanding about the reef. Sadly, this all too brief golden age of discovery faded away when researchers found that the surest path to funding was to go with the flow and float their careers on the rising tide of environmentalism.  We now have a whole generation of researchers whose entire involvement has been in the context of investigating various environmental concerns. Understandably, they perceive and/or present every fluctuation of nature as evidence of some threat.

In this process the open, sceptical, inquiring approach of science has been displaced by what has become the environmental facet of political correctness.  Like the latter, it is weak on evidence and brooks no questioning of its doctrine, the penalty for any such heresy being personal denigration, the rejection of research funding, and the rejection of papers by peer-reviewed journals. At its most sinister, even dismissal from employment.

However, and despite all the pretence of scientific authority and consensus, there has been an growing divergence between the orthodoxy and the reality. This stress has recently ruptured into a serious fracture of the salvationist monolith. A recent article, “Great Barrier Reef: scientists ‘exaggerated’ coral bleaching“, in The Australian reports the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Russell Reichelt, as stating that the extent of the recent coral bleaching event has been greatly exaggerated.  This admission is particularly significant for two reasons: it specifically contradicts claims by researchers, and it comes from the GBRMPA, which until now has itself taken a lead in proclaiming the scientific authority of the many and purported threats to the reef.

Additional support for the accusation of serious exaggeration about threats to the reef has also come from the reef tourism industry, which is gravely concerned about the negative impact of such publicity on their businesses. As the dive-boat captains and tour operators know from their own direct and daily experience, the reef remains healthy and vibrant. It is not dying.

Meanwhile, the doomsters persist in upping the ante to a level of absurdity, now claiming $16 billion is needed from government over the next decade to save the reef.

The reef itself is out there, over the horizon and beneath the sea, where the truth and evidence of its ongoing good health is safely inaccessible. Any alleged and imminent catastrophe can be claimed, with little risk of those claims being revealed as untrue. Indeed, given the media’s inclination to take dictation rather than seek and publish facts, such assertions are seldom even questioned.  In the absence of evidence, an easy-to-claim “authority” alone prevails.  “Experts” flourish where knowledge struggles and trust is safe from test. Even so, truth has a way of accumulating over time until even the best crafted untruths cannot be maintained.

Recently, there has been a flurry of doomster propaganda capitalising on an extensive coral bleaching event. The thrust of the impression being presented is that most of the corals on the GBR have been killed, that climate change is the cause, and making billions of dollars available to the reef salvation industry is urgently necessary.

The actual situation is far less dramatic. Bleaching events occur when wave-driven mixing ceases during periods of extended calm associated with strong El Niño conditions.  This results in the one- to two-metre surface of the ocean becoming several degrees warmer than the water immediately below. This extra-warm layer moves up and down several meters with the tide and may extend deeper in channels or around the edges of reefs where it flows off shallow reef tops on a falling tide.  Corals subjected to excessive warmth and rapid temperature fluctuations expel the symbiotic algae which live in their tissues and their white limestone skeletons show through their now-colourless polyps. Such bleaching mainly affects the shallow tops of reefs where it is also very conspicuous. Coral at greater depths remain healthy.

The GBR consists of over 2500 named reefs and many more smaller, unnamed coral patches. The high percentages claimed to be affected by bleaching refer to a sample of reefs where some bleaching was seen, not to the total area of coral which has been affected. The reef is vast and bleaching surveys have naturally concentrated on the regions where it is occurring. How much of the total coral area of the GBR has bleached has not been assessed. A reasonable estimate would likely be closer to 10-20% than to the 90+% being claimed in news reports. Most of the affected corals can be expected to survive and promptly recover, just as they have in other bleaching events.

Some portion of bleached corals will indeed die, and high levels of recovery may require a decade or more. However, mortality from this cause is natural and not dissimilar to the effect of naturally occurring fires in  forests. On the GBR, damage to reefs from severe tropical cyclones is in fact much more intense, extensive and frequent than the effects of bleaching. Historical records and proxy studies clearly indicate that both El Niño events and tropical cyclones have been common for many centuries and that neither their frequency nor intensity has increased.  In fact, the frequency and intensity of storms in the past century appear to have been well below the preceding one, and there is clear evidence of far more severe impacts in earlier centuries.

It is also important to be aware that extensive coral mortality on shallow reef tops can result from heavy rain during an exceptionally low tide when corals can be exposed to the air for several hours.  These so-called “minus tides” can be accurately predicted; typically, they occur several times in most years. It is not at all improbable that this entirely natural factor might also be involved in the mortality being attributed to the recent bleaching.

Whatever the cause, though, any apparent damage is never wasted by those who understand the academic funding process better than than they are prepared to admit grasping the truth about the reef, its corals and eco systems. For otherwise un-notable academics, it is a welcome opportunity to appear important, to bask in the spotlight and attract public attention, to hype the “save the reef” industry and squeeze further funding from politicians under pressure to be seen as doing something, no matter how pointless and expensive. Next year — and you can bet the house on this — the current “threat” will be forgotten in favour of a fresh one.

The repeated claim of a 50% decline in coral cover is based on a recent study which was preceded by an earlier one using the same data from the same research institution only two years before. The first one concluded that no statistically significant change in coral cover had occurred over the previous 25 years. The 50% decline was then declared after including surveys of the damage inflicted by two Category 5 cyclones in the subsequent two years, along with liberal application of some dubious statistical jiggery pokery. Contrary to the claims of this second study, the frequency of such storms is not increasing and reefs do recover surprisingly quickly.  A 20% increase in coral cover in the cyclone damaged areas has already been found.

The newer study was published in a high level peer-reviewed journal which requires that any conflicting evidence be addressed. Although the earlier study was briefly cited in passing, no acknowledgment was made of its directly contradictory conclusion. By not mentioning any conflicting evidence in a journal which specifically requires this, the false impression was presented that there is none. It is also worth noting that the lead author of the first study was a co-author of the later one. How then to explain the conflicted findings? At minimum, some might see scientific misconduct at work, perhaps even outright fraud.

Crown-of-Thorns starfish infestations devouring corals are another superannuated “threat” currently being recycled.  In the past it was first blamed on shell collecting, then on fishing when the charge against collectors lost all credibility.  More recently, the blame shifted to declining water quality due to fertiliser runoff from farming. The reality is that erratic population booms are inherent to the reproductive strategy of starfish and are well known for various species all over the world.  Crown-of-Thorns outbreaks commonly occur on isolated oceanic reefs, as well as on coastal reefs in desert regions where agricultural runoff cannot be a factor. Extensive sampling of the frequency of the distinctive spines of the CoT starfish in reef sediments indicate large and erratic fluctuations for at least the past 8000 years.  On the GBR no credible correlation has been demonstrated between CoT outbreaks and runoff events. In Western Australia the same kind of CoT outbreaks occur despite there being no runoff from agriculture.

Corals on the GBR are frequently subject to extensive natural mortality from storms, floods and bleaching events. There is no evidence of any recent increase in the frequency or intensity of such events. In the subsequent recovery process the fast growing branching and plate-like coral forms tend to overgrow the slower growing, more massive species. The preference of CoT for these faster growing forms may well be important in the maintenance of coral diversity.

The effect of runoff on GBR water quality has also been grossly exaggerated. Significant runoff in the GBR catchment is limited to occasional brief flood events. These affect only relatively restricted inshore areas well removed from the main body of the reef, which is much further offshore. The nutrient flux on the outer reefs is dominated by naturally occurring internal waves which are much more frequent and orders of magnitude greater in effect than anything coming from the land. Contrary to the highly misleading claims of the reef’s self-proclaimed and self-promoting saviours, there is no evidence of decreasing water quality on the GBR. If anything, the quality of runoff has almost certainly improved over recent decades from advances in land-management practices. In particular this has included a substantial reduction in fertiliser and pesticide usage. There is simply no evidence for any decline in water quality on the reef, and agrichemical usage in the catchment area has declined in recent decades.  In short, no evidence exists for anything other than natural perturbations in the condition of the GBR.

A further repeated and grossly misleading claim by the reef salvation industry involves the value of reef tourism.  They often cite a varying figure in the billions of dollars which, if not entirely fabricated, can only be the total value for all tourism in the region.  This ignores the fact that only about half of visitors actually visit the reef at all and, for the majority of those who do, it is a one-time day trip. A 2013 report by Deloitte Access Economics entitled Economic Contribution of the Great Barrier Reef estimated the value of reef-related tourism in 2012 was $481.4 million — a mere 7.5% of the total value for tourism. Attributing the entire value for tourism to the reef is no more honest than attributing it to the rainforests, beaches, restaurants, backpacking or any other activity that attracts tourist dollars. To do this repeatedly is pathetically ignorant, grossly dishonest or both.

Still another, repeatedly presented misrepresentation is that of increasing warming of reef waters. While there does seem to be a slight warming trend of about three-quarters of a °C over the past century in the global average temperature, the records on which this is based are highly variable and erratic with a margin of error which is greater than the claimed warming.  Where good records are available some places show warming and others cooling.  The available sea surface temperature data from the GBR shows no statistically significant trend over the past three decades.

The reef is fine. Reef tourism operators know this from direct daily experience and have belatedly started to object to the doomster propaganda. All of the claims of threats to the GBR are based entirely on hypothetical speculations or outright fabrications by researchers, bureaucrats and activists seeking grants, budgets and donations. To its credit, as noted above, even the GBRMPA has recently found the untruths and exaggerations too much to endorse. Government needs to recognise that where genuine understanding is limited, committed belief in the prevailing misunderstanding does not constitute genuine expertise, nor can truth be conjured by modelling ignorance with a computer.

Coral reefs are highly diverse dynamic environments frequently subject to large natural perturbations.  Environmentalism primes us to believe in a “fragile balance of nature”, with any significant fluctuation as evidence of some unnatural “impact” caused by humans. Researchers soon discovered that investigation of environmental threats assured generous funding and the result is now  a whole generation of researchers whose entire training and experience of the reef has been in the context of  investigating such threats. They see every fluctuation as a threat and while they proclaim deep concern for the reef, their true commitment is more to the threats. This becomes apparent if any suggestion is made that a purported threat may not be as great as they claim to fear.  The reaction is never hopeful interest. Always, it is angry rejection.

Regardless of whether the reef salvation industry is based on sincere self-delusion or more base motives, it is out of touch with the reality of both the reef and the economic circumstances we face. It has become an extravagant farce. It has never effectively addressed any threat and is something we can no longer afford. It is past time for this to begin to be recognised as such, most particularly

The claim that $16 billion is needed to save the reef is utter nonsense. That vast sum cannot prevent climate change, nor can it stop storms, floods or El Niño events. It cannot prevent starfish outbreaks or bleaching. All it can achieve is to keep the reef saviours on a permanent Barrier Reef holiday and drive more of our struggling primary producers out of production with ever more restrictions, demands and costs.

This is beyond stupid. It is obscene.  Australia is indeed the lucky country — but luck, by definition, is never a permanent condition and the current circumstances of the economy are unprecedented and serious, with prospects for the future even more so. Although having one of the world’s highest levels of per capita GDP, Australia also ranks among the highest of developed nations in personal debt, interest rates, and taxation, as well as costs for housing, power, food, education and health care.  At the same time most manufacturing has been driven offshore and is now at the lowest portion of GDP in developed economies.

In an economy increasingly dependent on primary production the number of small independent producers has also declined by two-thirds or more over recent decades.  This is true across the spectrum from small miners to farmers, graziers, loggers and fishermen. Although various factors have played a role in this change, ever increasing environmental restrictions, demands and costs have been key elements. Unfortunately, these smaller independent operators were the flexible, low-overhead producers who could weather the vicissitudes of nature and markets to thrive in better times. The result has been an ever increasing dominance of foreign owned multinational companies across primary production as well as soaring food prices for domestic consumers.

Australia is now caught up in a perfect storm of weak commodity prices, a high dependence on imports and overseas borrowing, plus an economic base that is increasingly foreign owned. Although the behaviour of complex dynamic systems, such as the national economy or the GBR, is inherently impossible to predict with certainty, the best available evidence indicates that the condition of the economy is far more threatened than is the reef. The “threats” to the reef exist only in the realm of hypothetical possibilities imagined by armchair “experts” claiming authority and unsupported by any firm evidence.  The demand for government to spend billions of dollars to “save” the reef is simply obscene when the effective real outcome can only be to load more demands and restrictions on vital productive activity already struggling to remain viable.

A further exposure of the rot in reef science appeared only a few days ago in The Australian (June 11)  entitled “Reef whistleblower censured by James Cook University” reports that Professor Peter Ridd, a very experienced and highly regarded senior professor at James Cook University, was threatened with a charge of serious misconduct for questioning the scientific integrity of some blatantly alarmist claims about the GBR. In academic speak “serious misconduct” is code for the sack. If a highly regarded senior professor is so treated take it as a given that the 90+% of academics who are more junior in status will take note to avoid any appearance of dissent. It appears that, as far as the administration at JCU is concerned, maintenance of a comfortable place at the public trough must override any considerations of academic freedom or scientific integrity. It would seem the official definition of “serious misconduct” is more concerned with exposing it than with its commission.

To add a further layer of absurdity to the farce, the upcoming election is seeing politicians of all parties vie with one another to shuffle and re-label sundry budget items and issues in order to inflate public perception of their “commitment” to saving the reef.  As if a solar farm in Western Australia or banning a coalmine in outback Queensland represents meaningful efforts to save the reef!

Reader responses to alarmist hype in the mainstream news media clearly indicate a large and growing majority of the electorate is unsympathetic to the ongoing eco farce. When a political leader finally emerges who is willing to confront it, that person is likely to find a tsunami of support. We can only hope that day is coming soon.


WA school principal assaults on the rise

Mandatory jail terms for parents who assault primary school principals and deputies is a big call but the problem is becoming a crisis, the WA Primary Principals Association says.

President Stephen Breen said assaults were occurring at a rate of eight per day and that was probably conservative due to under-reporting.

"We're getting bashed and we want something done," Mr Breen told 6PR radio on Wednesday.

He conceded it was a big ask, considering mandatory sentencing for assaults in WA is preserved for public officers such as police and paramedics.

"It's a big call. And we don't back away from that," Mr Breen told ABC radio.

"We have had no solutions to this growing crisis. We're actually putting this out to say `this is how serious we are'."


Greek-Australian's Olympia cafe in Stanmore one of the last original milk bars

I remember the era described below.  When I went to the "Airdome" picture theatre during my childhood in Innisfail, there was a connecting door to the "Bluebird" Cafe next door.  But it was a milkbar because it sold mostly milkshakes.  It too was Greek-owned -- JR

A dusty and decrepit cafe serves as a bizarre living museum that tells the story of Australia’s decades-long love affair with the milk bar.  Effy Alexakis and Leonard Janiszewski have travelled the country documenting the history of milk bars in Australia

SOMETIMES, WHILE customers visiting the Olympia milk bar gawk and whisper and take surreptitious photographs, Nicholas Fotiou ceases his uneasy wandering behind the counter. He pauses at a door leading to the back of the shop and stares into the darkness beyond. Go to the counter and that darkness has an aroma — of dust and cool earth. The darkness has a feeling, too: the mystery of old Mr Fotiou and his milk bar seems to be contained in that gaping space beyond the door.

Above the door is a sign: "Late suppers, steak, sandwiches, snack bar." Once, the sign would have been gloriously neon lit. Now, the lettering is black. There are other things here that retro-ware enthusiasts might covet: an old milkshake maker; an ad for Cadbury Roses Chocolates with a photograph of a cheek-to-cheek couple, Brylcreemed and permed; a billboard – "come in now for TEA" – with its Mad Men-esque illustration of an aproned woman proffering a tea tray.

Mr Fotiou, white-haired and surely in his 80s, has made milkshakes here at 190 Parramatta Road in the inner-west Sydney suburb of Stanmore since he and his late brother, John, bought the building in about 1959. Two decades earlier, an artisan of the art deco era had laid the coloured terrazzo that says "Olympia"; the milk bar opened to service patrons of the adjacent Olympia De-Luxe Theatre in 1939, the year of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.

The Olympia is one of only a few Greek milk bars or cafes remaining in any continuous form either in ownership or aesthetic. In Victoria, milk bars kept the descriptor but, for the most part, became convenience stores. In Katoomba in the Blue Mountains of NSW, there is the touristy art deco Paragon, with its carved alabaster friezes depicting classical figures. Gundagai has the Niagara, which, in its heyday, became known as "Australia's wonder cafe". It had a domed, deep-blue ceiling with glittery gold stars designed to resemble the cosmos, and a bubbling soda fountain.

But the Olympia has a very particular charisma. Some imagine something sinister here in the dust and decrepitude, in the gold-toothed gruffness of an elderly proprietor who objects to photographs and only turns a light on his tarnished vintage kingdom when customers rather than rubberneckers visit. "Dr Death" or "Drac" they call him, and they let their imaginations run wild to build an Olympian mythology. Others see pathos and an unembossed and very Australian story of migration, toil, disappointment and change.

"There are various stories told to try to compensate for the lack of knowledge about the Olympia and we are in the age of communication – people want to know," says Leonard Janiszewski, co-author of a new book, Greek Cafes and Milk Bars of Australia.

In the absence of knowledge, the milk bar has become both myth and muse. A fan's Facebook page has more than 2000 members. The Olympia has had cameos in at least one novel and been the subject of a radio documentary, several artworks and two songs. Sydney singer Josephine North's haunting Milk Bar turns it into poignant love story: "The shop's been exactly the same since she left it … he don't even know days are moving by." The 1990s Sydney garage band Sheek the Shayk sang unkindly: "He's the milkshake man … Dr Death Dr Death ain't nobody's friend."

"It's like a Beckett play, it honestly is," says Anthony Macris, a creative writing professor at Sydney's University of Technology, who described the Olympia in his 2012 novel Great Western Highway. Macris grew up in a Brisbane fish and chip shop run by his Greek-born parents. "They're like sacred sites to me," he says of businesses such as the Olympia. "It talks to me about the status of Greeks in Australia, the contribution they made, but its slow decay over time … it's sort of heartbreaking in a way."

One morning, I meet Leonard Janiszewski and photographer Effy Alexakis, his partner and co-author, outside 190 Parramatta Road. While they were waiting, they tell me, a car stopped in the middle of the traffic and the driver wound down the passenger window and took a photograph of the Olympia's frontage.

"That's an indication of how iconic this place is," says Janiszewski, a history academic at Macquarie University. He points out its concertina doors; they were designed, he says, to open up the milk-bar "fantasy" inside to passers-by.

A third of the frontage is taken by a single bay display window, now a shattered, boarded-up pastiche. On the second level, above the cantilevered awning, ferns grow out of paint-peeled brick. "Olympia Salon: style cutting, nutri-tonic perms" are the gold-lettered words on the upstairs windows.

"Let's go in for a cup of tea," I say.
One of the last of Australia’s Greek-Australian-run milk bars; the Olympia’s dilapidated shopfront speaks of a bygone era.

One of the last of Australia’s Greek-Australian-run milk bars; the Olympia’s dilapidated shopfront speaks of a bygone era.

NICHOLAS FOTIOU has had more than half a century to perfect this white-aproned performance: he sets down a little teapot, little red-ringed cups on saucers, a faux crystal jug of milk and a bowl of sugar on the blue-green Formica tabletop. There are cheerful flowers etched on the aluminium teapot, perhaps petunias. There are relief-work flowers in the sagging plaster ceiling — an ornate and optimistic relic of the original 1912 building. "Efharisto," Effy Alexakis says. In Greek, she inquires after Mr Fotiou's health today. "One or the other," he replies cryptically. His face is grey. His eyebrows are thick shelves over dark eyes. His cheeks and chin carry a crop of stubble.

Janiszewski lifts his cup to show its mark: 1957, Duraline, an English-made hotel-ware product common in milk bars. "Very unique cups," the milk-bar scholar says. Built to last, to be bashed around, and small, he says, because once we weren't so greedy.

Janiszewski's parents had their first date in a milk bar within the old Palatial Burwood Cinema, 10 kilometres west of Stanmore. It was knocked down in the '70s to make way for a shopping centre. He and Alexakis frequented the old Stanmore Twin (at different times known as the Zenith, the Globe or the Twin-Z), the descendant of the old Olympia De-Luxe. She recalls the lime milkshakes at the Olympia. He remembers Revenge of the Nerds and that, even then in the early 1980s, the milk bar was a crumbling oddity. The symbiotic relationship between theatre and milk bar came to an end when the theatre was knocked down in 2001, to be replaced by apartments.

In the story of the Olympia there is another character that's as important as Nicholas Fotiou. Arthur Ernest Packer bought the Olympia theatre in 1920 when he was mayor of Annandale, but it would be nearly two decades before he added the premises next door, used as a billiard room, to his property portfolio.

Packer brought the razzle-dazzle to number 190 and 192. The Olympia theatre became the "Olympia De-Luxe" and reopened in 1931, "entirely remodelled" and under the direction of theatrical magnate Sir Benjamin Fuller. In 1939, the Olympia milk bar opened with a connecting door to the theatre. "The picture theatres promised people Hollywood; the cafes and milk bars just continued that," says Janiszewski.

It's not clear where the Anglo-Saxon Packer found his inspiration for the Olympia milk bar but by the time it opened, there were about 4000 milk bars and cafes around the country, many with Greek owners or operators. It was no accident that these New Australians found their way into the milk-bar business. It was a very white Australia and they were outsiders. It was easier to go into a shop than a factory, says Janiszewski. In a shop you needed limited English and family members could staff it.

The founding father of the milk bar was Greek-born Joachim Tavlaridis, who liked to be known as Mick Adams. He'd spent time in drugstores and soda shops during a trip to America but decided to put milk, which Australians considered to be "a tonic food", at the heart of his interpretation of what he had seen overseas. On the day in 1932 that his Black and White 4d Milk Bar opened at 24 Martin Place, Sydney, thousands tried to get in.

Beyond milkshakes, the new establishments that sprang up all around the country introduced entertainment-starved Australians to American excitement. In polished chrome, mirrored and neon-lit fairylands, sodas, sundaes and American-style milk chocolate were served. They had jukeboxes and names such as the Anglo-American Cafe (Bourke Street, Melbourne) and the New York Cafe (Nowra). "The whole idea of this was to place you into a fantasy world," says Janiszewski.

At the Olympia, he is excited by the "back bar", a wall of original "island" mirrors largely concealed behind rudimentary, more recent shelving. The words "ice cream sodas" imprinted on a back bar panel are all that can be seen. "There would have been flashing lights in the back bar," says Janiszewski. "It was all part of the American dream, that life was richer, fuller and better."

A LOCAL woman has brought her two children into the Olympia for milkshakes. She and Leonard Janiszewski start to talk. "I've always wanted to bring the kids," she says. The woman observes that there seems to have been a recent spike in interest in the milk bar. "Yes," replies Janiszewski. A bus roars into the stop outside and the room is cast into shadow. "Because it's getting towards the end and this is unique; this is as it was in 1939."

Well, not quite. How the Olympia looked when it was shiny and new might never be known. No early photographs have surfaced, so it's impossible to know what changes the Fotiou brothers made when they took over the premises, which are now listed on the NSW Heritage Register for their historical, aesthetic and social significance. Indeed, there is even less knowledge available about the milk bar's first two decades of life than there is about Messrs Fotiou.

It's a fair assumption that the go-getting Arthur Ernest Packer wasn't the one making the milkshakes. But the only clue to who was is a dead end. The Marrickville Council Register of Licences for "refreshment rooms" shows that in 1954, a "J Aliyianis" was the Olympia Milk Bar's licence holder, but no trace of the name turns up anywhere else.

The public record reveals more about Nicholas Fotiou. He sailed into Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay on the Greek immigrant liner the Cyrenia in 1955. He had come from Lemnos, a rugged island in the northern Aegean. It's not clear whether John Fotiou arrived in Australia before or after his brother but, in any case, before Nicholas came to the Olympia around 1959, he spent time in Wagga Wagga. Immigration documents suggest he was sponsored by the proprietors of the Silver Key Cafe, which had opened in 1924 under the proprietorship of Greek immigrant Samuel Apostle. "That was typical. You would gain your experience and pay off your fare," says Janiszewski.

And then you looked for that richer, fuller and better life. It seems unlikely the brothers Fotiou ever thought they had found it on Parramatta Road. Business must have been shaky from the start: television killed the theatre business and the Olympia De-Luxe closed in about 1960. It was converted into a skating rink and there was a window linking it to the milk bar but, at some point, there was a legal dispute between the brothers and the rink's manager that seems to have been brutal.

Anything else said about the Fotiou brothers is mere conjecture. Some say that, before John died in 1981 aged 49, Nicholas promised he would keep the Olympia going. One story has it that Nicholas's wife ran the salon upstairs and their children were killed in an accident.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Fotiou remains silent. "He doesn't want intimacy," says Leonard Janiszewski. He acknowledges that people's interest in the Olympia and their urge to photograph it is at odds with Mr Fotiou's desire for anything more than cash in exchange for chocolate milkshakes or pots of tea. "You have to find a balance between respecting his privacy and doing it in a sensitive manner but also recognising the significance of this place," says Janiszewski. "It is unique. It's the last one of its kind."

Even Mr Fotiou has a sense of that. As we pay for our pot of tea, Effy Alexakis offers him a copy of their book in which he features. He declines it. He doesn't have time to read, he says. Reading gives him a headache. Besides, he says, "milk bars are finished".


19 June, 2016

Eastern Australian flood events: a 'significant' rise in frequency, says study

The BOM is getting cautious.  They must have learnt from their very cautious junior researcher, Acacia Pepler. 

Below they report an increase in floods but say only that it was "possibly" influenced by human-induced climate change.  Though Leftist readers will no doubt fail to to notice the "possibly".

But they are right to use "possibly".  They start their record from 1860 and a gentle sea-level rise has been going on since then, long before the alleged era of "human-induced climate change".  So more coastal flooding could be expected to show up over that long period.

Secondly, why don't we look at the period of alleged human influence, the post WWI era? Let's look from 1950 on.  Looking at their graph I can see NO trend in that period.  There is one anomalous spike around 1990 but the histogram overall looks pretty square starting in 1950. I haven't got the raw data to do a precise test but by eye there has been NO trend from 1950 on.  At most I see a downward trend.  How disappointing for them!

And finally, they got a lot of their data, not from official meteorology records but from "newspaper reports".  I hope I do not need to say why that is a very shaky data source.  Warmists can be amusing!

The academic journal article underlying the report below is "Major coastal flooding in southeastern Australia 1860–2012,  associated deaths and weather systems".  I note with amusement the second last sentence of the Abstract:  "Some of the most extreme events identified occurred in the 19th century and early-to-mid 20th century". So their findings UNDERMINE  global warming theory, if anything.  Pesky of me to notice that, isn't it?  You are not supposed to question the Gods

But this mob are not Gods.  Racketeers and confidence men, more like it.  And this article is a good example of their "modus operandi". They can't lie too much or they would risk getting  caught with their pants down.  So they just slant what they put out

The frequency of major flood events along Australia's eastern seaboard is increasing, with climate change one of the possible factors, senior Bureau of Meteorology researchers say.

The report, published in the bureau's inaugural edition of the Journal of Southern Hemisphere Earth Systems Science, comes as eastern Australia braces for the second east coast low in as many weeks, with the potential for localised flooding including in the Sydney region.

Researchers, such as Acacia Pepler from the University of NSW, predict east coast lows may become less common during the winter months as the planet warms. However, those that form near the coast, which bring the most damage from heavy rain and coastal erosion, may increase in frequency.

The new research from Scott Power and Jeff Callaghan indicates that major flood events are already on the increase.

Taking a 1500-kilometre stretch of eastern Australia from Brisbane down to Bega on the south coast of NSW, the two bureau researchers examined all the major floods since 1860.

Major floods were defined as those events which caused extensive flooding within 50 kilometres of the coast, or inundation that extended 20 kilometres along the coast, with at least two catchment areas involved.

As the chart below shows, the frequency of such events has roughly doubled to two a year over the past 150 years, with about half the increase since the end of the 19th century.

"There is a statistically significant increasing trend in major flood frequency over the full period," the authors wrote in their paper.

The range was also widespread, with "the overwhelming majority of sites in the study region [showing] increasing trends", including all but one of the sites closest to the coast.

The majority of the sites also revealed that the largest amount of daily rain received each year was increasing.

The researchers relied on rainfall and stream-flow data and also local newspaper reports to compile what they said was the most complete record of the region over time.

They attributed the trend to natural climate variability and "possibly" from human-induced climate change, adding that the anthropogenic influence was expected to be greater on the more extreme events.

Further research, though, would be needed to determine the extent of the human influence, the paper noted.


School bullying: Queensland schoolgirl’s mother to deliver petition to Education Minister

Where were the teachers when the bullying was going on?  Sucking tea in the staffroom, no doubt.  There is clearly a need for more teachers on playground duty

HER schoolbag slung over her arm, the central Queensland student at the centre of a bullying scandal says she had an “OK” day yesterday.

“Nobody bullied me or anything,” she added.

Just days ago, in a desperate bid for help, the art-loving brown-haired girl, who is soon to turn 13, drew up a petition with her mum, declaring her life had become a “living hell” at the hands of bullies.

The girl’s petition now has more than 60,000 signatures.

Her plight prompted a groundswell of support, attracting a flood of messages of encouragement and more than 60,000 signatures to the petition by 5pm yesterday.

“I just want bullying to stop,” she said.

The high school student’s mother warned the “environment” in schools needed to change, saying current anti-bullying messages were not getting through to students.

“Why is there this mass suffering?” she said. “Engage kids. Their approach, the ‘bullying no way’ (campaign), is not working.”

The mother plans to deliver the petition to Education Minister Kate Jones.

The girl had been home schooled, but was enrolled this year. Initially starting with “just a few kids picking on her,” the mother said her daughter’s bullying escalated to the point where some were throwing rubbish and rocks at the girl while videoing her.

“She ran away and rang me on the phone and said ‘Mum, they said they are going to put it up on Facebook’. She said ‘If the whole internet sees me crying, I don’t want to live’.”

The girl was taunted with names like “freak” and “weirdo”. Desperate for action, the pair launched an online petition on Monday, saying the actions were “killing” the girl and notified the school she wouldn’t attend on Wednesday as a “protest strike”.

On Thursday, the family met with school representatives who said the girl could spend breaks in an isolation room where she could draw and read.

Buoyed by the outpouring of support, the woman said a “huge weight” had been lifted from the shoulders of her daughter.

Another student came forward yesterday, detailing her bullying ordeal at the same high school.

The Year 12 student said she, too, was forced to sit in an “isolation” room due to concerns for her safety.

“I had girls threatening to punch me if they were going to see me at school,” she said.

“It got to the point where I got physically pushed during a heated argument. And when I read what was happening to (the girl in the petition), I felt so sick to my stomach.

“I was utterly disgusted in the school. I told a teacher ... but I’ve seen the way the school dealt with my issue and nothing was done.”

School bullying the main reason kids are calling for help

MORE than 700 distressed Queensland youngsters contacted Kids Helpline last year because they were struggling to cope with bullying.

The latest statistics show the overwhelming majority – 559 of these teens and pre-teens – experienced bullying at school, or at the hands of people linked to their school.

Kids Helpline manager Tony Fitzgerald said bullying remained a serious problem for teens and tweens, with the service receiving thousands of calls and emails from youngsters each year, specifically relating to bullying.

“It can be very distressing for them, the types of contacts we get. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to turn,” he said.

“At the serious end it can lead to serious mental health issues. Some of the people who are contacting us are self-harming.”

In Queensland, significantly more young people are turning to Kids Helpline for support dealing with bullies than for help with body image concerns, coming to terms with their sexual orientation or drug issues.

Mr Fitzgerald said part of the problem with bullying was that many victims were not often willing to seek help.

“A lot of young people think the bullying is their fault, and that stops them from speaking up about it,” he said.

He said schools and communities had to sustain the anti-bullying message.

As one of its election policies, federal Labor will today announce a new anti-bullying strategy, targeting the bullying of students with disabilities.

“No one deserves to be bullied and to miss out on educational opportunities because they are different,” Labor’s education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said. “Students with disability are up to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers.


"Green" energy hitting South Australians in the pocket

They joyously announced recently the closure of their last  coal-fired generator.  They are wind-powered instead. Now they have to rely on importing power from Victoria when the wind isn't blowing

A third electricity provider within a week has announced it is increasing its charges for South Australian customers.

Energy Australia has followed in the footsteps of AGL and Origin Energy, announcing a $22 increase on the average monthly bill, or about an extra $260 a year, for customers in South Australia.

The average AGL bill will go up by about $230 a year and Origin customers will pay an extra $117 a year.

The companies have cited issues around coal and gas supply in South Australia as reasons, including the closure of the Port Augusta power station.

Energy Australia communications manager Mark Todd said the increase would begin from July 1.

"The main rationale for that is the rising cost of purchasing electricity on behalf of customers," he said.

"That's obviously not what customers want to hear.

"As a retailer we can play the blame game and blame factors beyond our control or we can try and do something about it."

Mr Todd encouraged customers to contact the company to talk about ways to "that we can offset or negate that $22-a-month increase".

He also noted there had been increases in business costs that had been factored into the rise.

The rise in electricity bills comes as South Australia continues to have the worse unemployment rate in the nation with 6.9 per cent.

It also comes as welfare agencies warn low-income earners are struggling to make ends meet and pay for the basics like electricity.

Earlier this week, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis told South Australians to shop around for an energy provider.

The Opposition blamed the State Government's renewable energy policies for the hikes.


Remote Indigenous Australia -- where time stands still
Sara Hudson

In a remote East Arnhem Land community time seems to stand still. The air is heavier and there is very little breeze. During the heat of the day, everyone stays in their houses or sits quietly in the shade of trees.

The children have gone home from school for lunch and there is no sound in the small community apart from the squawk of crows and the gentle lapping of waves on the beach.

It is very peaceful. A paradise of sorts. There is no cell-phone reception, and for the past two years no internet either.

Talking to other balanda (white people) we discuss what people do with their time. Seven years ago the community was a hive of activity. A community band practised every night, the grass was mowed, rangers had cars, and there was a playgroup where mothers sang English songs to their babies and toddlers -- "one, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive..."

Now, the grass unmown and the rangers no longer have cars -- their vehicles going the way of all those subjected to relentless travel up and down the corrugated and pothole-ridden East Arnhem Land roads.

Without cars, there is nothing for the rangers to do. Their supervisor talks about the difficulty finding meaningful or even purposeful activities for them. There is a job going as a caretaker at the school but no one in the community wants to do it -- accustomed as they are to getting paid for doing very little.

Welfare money is keeping this community alive and it can't imagine another future.  One of my companions says the problem with the Yolgnu people is they are not time travellers -- they live in the here and now. Few can budget their welfare money to last the whole fortnight and 'book-up' is rife.

Most can't see how getting a job, even a low paying job, could lead to better things. Those who can, leave.

The one shining light of the community is the school. A husband and wife teaching team have managed to impart a love of reading to their students and for the first time ever children are reading novels. Perhaps these children will be able to imagine a different future for themselves.


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

17 June, 2016

After Orlando, The Danger Of Pauline Hanson Becomes Apparent

So says  Max Chalmers, without offering any comment on the problems she is addressing.  His whole diatribe (large excerpt below) could be reduced to the old chestnut that most Muslims are not terrorists so we can do nothing about Muslim terror.  He certainly suggests nothing we could do.  Just let them go on murdering is his apparent preference. 

And what she says is of course "racist" according to young Max.  I will bypass the usual retort that Muslims are a religion not a race and point to the real issue that he ignores.  It is neither a religion nor a race that is being objected to but mass murder.  Not that mass murder has ever bothered Leftists, of course. Think Stalin, Mao, Castro etc.

Muslims never stop murderinjg.   Mostly, as in Syria, they murder one another but their murderous tendencies do sometimes come out in Western countries too.  Islam is clearly a religion that encourages murder and as long as we accomodate hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Australia, some Muslims will act out their murderous tendencies and attack us.

So it is the Muslim community that is the problem.  As long as we have that community in our countries we will be subjected to repeated acts of terrorism.  So, as Pauline rightly sees, the only way of protecting ourselves from the Muslim fanatics is to cease hosting that community.  The first step is obviously to block any further additions to that community and the time may also come when we ask the whole of that community to avail themselves of the Muslim obligation of hospitality in one of the 30 or so Muslim countries in the world.  There are a couple of large ones just to the North of us. 

It is NOT racist to object to terrorism and to look towards the source of it.

Late yesterday evening, the former MP released a video that serves as a warning for what is at stake should that campaign succeed. It’s hardly a revelation that Pauline Hanson is running as a racist, but the manner in which she is doing so is cause for alarm, both because of what it says about the levels of racism still acceptable in mainstream Australian politics, and the broad threat it poses to Australian Muslims, as well as democratic and liberal ideals.

It starts with Hanson standing in a driveway, a microphone pinned to her rose coloured blazer.

"Let’s have a serious chat about the latest terrorist attack that’s happened in America,” she says, looking directly down the barrel of the camera.

In the next two minutes, Hanson delivers a typically meandering dialogue which tries to reap political capital from the horrible massacre in Orlando, something other conservative candidates have also attempted to do. Insidiously, she refuses to acknowledge the fact the attack targeted LGBTI people, and offers not a single word of solidarity for a global community in mourning.

Bigotry and opportunism are no surprise coming from Hanson, the women whose anti-Asian migration stance has had its absurdity exposed the passage of time. But there is something particularly chilling about this video, an extremity of racism that goes beyond even the rhetoric of Reclaim Australia.

At one point she pauses dramatically, and then delivers the most important line of the video and, perhaps, of her campaign.

"We have to take a strong stance against Muslims,” she says.

Hanson mentions Islam next, but the reducing of ‘Muslims’ to a single cohesive entity – a group of 1.6 billion people who are Sunni and Shi’a, Pakistani and American, radical and moderate, men, women, white, black, brown, gay, straight, and otherwise – helps explain the more obviously shocking statements that follow.

All pretence of ideological criticism or religious critique have been dropped. Being Muslim is adjudicated as a crime in and of itself. Regardless of their actual views, convictions, or actions, Muslims are demonised as inherently bad people.

Except to Hanson, they’re actually less than that. Muslims are nothing more than dangerous animals.

On the tails of the ‘strong stance’ comment, Hanson goes on to compare these 1.6 billion people to dogs. We don’t let Pit Bull Terriers into the country, or certain dangerous toys, she says. The obvious, odious punchline follows: Muslims, like pit-bulls, are dangerous. They must not be allowed to exist here either.

Whether Hanson, Smith, and co end up involved in the Senate balance of power or not, a position in parliament will allow them to open new ground for major party players to tread. The radicalism of their racism will stretch political possibility, emboldening the likes of Bernardi and Abbott while making them appear more moderate in comparison.

These are the kind of shifts that don’t just nudge individual pieces of legislation over the line: they can fundamentally rebalance a nation.

Pauline Hanson has been radicalised. A seat in parliament would allow her to radicalise many more.


As many as 30,000 boat people to be given visas by ALP: Election promise

As many as 30,000 asylum-seekers who arrived by boat under the Rudd-Gillard government may be offered permanent residency.

Bill Shorten is poised to soften Australia’s border protection policies by granting permanent residency to nearly 30,000 asylum-seekers eligible who arrived by boat under the former Labor government.

The move is the most significant departure made by the Opposition Leader from the tough border protection policies introduced by the Coalition under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott with Labor set to scrap Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs).

This would see Labor providing its own legacy caseload of asylum-seekers with a clear pathway to permanent residency with Mr Shorten also holding out the prospect of making changes to Operation Sovereign Borders.

However, Labor has hit back at claims that the move on TPVs represents a departure, pointing out that this position was adopted at its national conference in 2015.

Bill Shorten attacked the Liberal Party for starting a "fear campaign” on something which has been Labor policy since July last year.

"There is nothing new in this story and you all know this,” Mr Shorten told journalists on the campaign trail in Adelaide this morning.

"This is the same old Liberal Party trying to reheat their same old lies and fear campaign.

"Labor, on July 3, will have the same policy about stopping the boats. We will not put the people smugglers back into business. We will maintain offshore processing.”

Mr Shorten said there was nothing "temporary” about the situation of the 30,000 asylum seekers currently on Temporary Protection Visas in Australia, and taxpayers were already paying for their care. "They’ve been here under these Liberal arrangements for years and years,” Mr Shorten said.

"Labor’s got a clear policy to deal with this matter and we don’t want to see taxpayers carrying the burden of this situation on indefinitely.

"In terms of Manus and Nauru, I make the same points that I’ve made in the first couple of weeks of this campaign.

People smugglers should know that on July 3, whoever wins this election, you are not back in business full stop.”

The formal Labor party platform as determined last year says: "Labor will abolish TPVs which keep people in a permanent state of limbo. Labor will commit to processing people as quickly as possible and placing those found to be genuine refugees on permanent protection visas.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told The Daily Telegraphthat TPVs were a key element of any strong border protection policy and their removal would provide an incentive to people-smugglers to revive their illegal trade.

"Shorten Labor is showing all the signs of recklessness that saw 50,000 illegal maritime arrivals breach our borders under Rudd and Gillard Labor,” Mr Dutton said.

"Abolition of TPVs reveals Bill Shorten’s weak border policies. It sends a dangerous signal to people smugglers that they’re back in business with a product to sell permanent settlement in Australia.”

The changes come as Mr Shorten is confronted with a bitter internal revolt against his plan to continue the practice of boat turnbacks with up to 50 candidates standing at the July 2 election having opposed stronger border protection measures.

In late 2014, when Scott Morrison was immigration minister, the government revived Howard era Temporary Protection Visas in a bid to clear the backlog of up to 30,000 asylum-seekers who arrived before the last election.

The Senate passed the measure with the support of the Palmer United Party as well as Family First’s Bob Day, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiast Party.

In return, the government agreed to lift the refugee intake by 7500 places over four years, allow asylum-seekers on bridging visas the right to work and remove all children from detention on Christmas Island.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has warned the border protection "madness started” when Kevin Rudd scrapped temporary protection visas in 2008, as he lashed out at Labor for failing to "learn from that lesson”.

The Treasurer, who was immigration minister in Tony Abbott’s government, said Labor would send a message to people-smugglers to restart their trade if the opposition wins the federal election.

"It was August 2008 when Kevin Rudd abolished temporary protection visas. That’s when the madness started, that’s when the boats started to come. You change a policy like that, it was actually their change to temporary protection visas and abolishing them that started those boats,” he said.

"And the fact that the Labor Party are going to not learn from that lesson and they voted against the restoration of temporary protection visas in the parliament, in the House, in the Senate and remain doggedly to the position they will abolish them

if they come back into government, that tells the people smugglers every single thing they need to know about a Labor government on border protection.”


Victoria: Rogue Firefighter Union’s 50 powers of veto revealed, exposing complete takeover of their employer

THE militant United Firefighter Union’s 50 powers of veto over the Country Fire Authority have been revealed as enraged volunteers ­confronted Premier Daniel Andrews in Victoria’s west.

The full impact of a UFU takeover — being pushed by the Premier — is exposed in a CFA analysis of the 405-page enterprise bargaining agreement, obtained by the Herald Sun.

Under the deal, the union must have final say over the choice of all equipment bought by the CFA, ­including clothes, torches and tyres for trucks, while all new CFA employees must undertake a UFU course.

In other ammendments under the deal, volunteers will be banned from riding on trucks with paid firefighters without union approval.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria board member Mick Nunweek yesterday said there was a "mood of disgust” about the looming deal. "The CFA is being dismantled now without consultation with the VFBV," he said.

"Enshrined in legislation — which the Premier and parliament has broken — is the Volunteer Respect Act and the Volunteer Charter, and it says that they must consult with volunteers ... that hasn’t been done. "We’ve got no argument with the paid firefighters, but we want no union interference in the CFA," Mr Nunweek added.

More than 200 volunteers on 40 fire trucks ambushed Mr Andrews as he held a press conference on renewable energy in Ararat on Wednesday.

Federal Labor MPs have voiced their alarm over Mr Andrews’s move to push the deal through during an election campaign.

Many early voters interviewed at booths in two Victorian marginal seats said their decision had been ­influenced by the issue.

A senior CFA source said its EBA analysis showed veto provisions would neuter the chief officer of the CFA.  "This document gives the UFU all power but no responsibility for the crucial operational decisions of the authority,” the source said.

The CFA declined to discuss the summary document of the proposed EBA.

Wally Spinks, an early voter in the marginal seat of McEwen, said: "The CFA has been working well for years. He’s (Daniel Andrews) becoming a bit of a dictator. People power will come into play very quickly."

The CFA board was told it would be sacked last week after refusing to accept the agreement.

The Governor of Victoria must approve the dismissal, but Linda Dessau, a patron of the CFA, does not return to Australia from an official trip to China until June 18

UFU boss Peter Marshall on Wednesday again refused to answer questions on the dispute.


Federal election 2016: we’ll all win if Turnbull stands up to unions

"Is this a union thing?” asks a stunned George Clooney in his latest role as flashy TV show host Lee Gates in Money Monsters. Gates is taken hostage on air at gunpoint by a scruffy looking bloke but it’s not a union stunt. Unlike the very real union thing in Victoria. The United Firefighters Union is holding a political gun to the state’s head, aided and abetted by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

The union’s brute takeover of all firefighters across Victoria, both professional and volunteer, goes to the heart of the July 2 federal election. Pipped only by its own messy economic contradictions last week, the UFU scandal is Labor’s second worst nightmare. Hence Bill Shorten’s bogus call that Malcolm Turnbull should stop meddling in a state issue. Hence Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor asking whether the Prime Minister will next get involved in NSW council amalgamations? Actually Shorten did that the next day, ­offering $20 million to pork-barrel plebiscites about a state issue.

And then there was the smug assurance from Julia Gillard’s former speech writer Michael Cooney who told Chris Kenny 10 days ago that Turnbull’s "faux” populist "I’m on your side schtick” got him through the morning but "I’m not sure it got him through the afternoon”.

Cute, but not even close. Ten mornings and 10 afternoons later, the UFU’s grubby power grab continues. There’s nothing faux about opposing the UFU’s monster-­tactics and exposing the pusillanimous Victorian Premier who wears union love on his sleeve. There’s nothing populist about Employment Minister Michaelia Cash explaining how a Turnbull government will protect volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line for others — for no pay — from "objectionable terms” inserted into enterprise agreements by power-hungry unions.

Labor and chaps like Cooney want the electorate to look away from the Victorian union contest. Just as they want us to pay no attention to union money that pulls ALP’s policy strings. The CFMEU, at the centre of so many repugnant royal commission findings, sent $139,350 to the Victorian Labor Party to fund the election of Andrews and a handy $195,000 to Labor’s federal war chest. In 2013-14, almost 70 per cent of Labor donations came from unions. Add in union affiliation fees and that’s why union representatives have secured 50 per cent of seats at ALP state conferences. It’s a nice deal. Just imagine if big business donated funds to the Liberal Party in return for half, or even any, seats at the Liberal Party’s policy table.

Union leaders are shrewd. In 2007, UFU boss Peter Marshall broke ranks with Labor to direct UFU money to Adam Bandt in his first tilt at the seat of Melbourne, held by Labor’s Lindsay Tanner. For being one of Labor’s more sensible heads, the UFU put a target on Tanner’s back. Lately the unions have redoubled efforts at this double game: in 2013-14 union donations to the Greens totalled $600,000, with $125,000 from the CFMEU and $360,000 from the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union.

This is how the unions instruct Labor to deliver up. It’s why the Victorian Premier knelt before the UFU before the 2014 state election, promising to recruit 450 extra firefighters, 350 to the CFA. Labor’s policy was a sugar-coated union takeover of the CFA. In return, suited-up union firefighters doorknocked for Labor, handed out Vote Labor pamphlets and stood outside polling booths telling voters to put Liberals last. In an email to Labor MPs, UFU boss Marshall said: "Internal polling conservatively estimated a 4.5 per cent swing in seats where there was a firefighter presence — and up to 7 per cent in some marginal seats.” In other words, we get you elected so look after us.

Alas, the UFU underestimated the CFA resolve to protect its 60,000 volunteers who work at 34 integrated fire stations in Melbourne and outer Melbourne, and at the hundreds of CFA-run fire stations across Victoria. The UFU’s preferred enterprise bargaining agreement is an Andrews approved stitch-up to control the CFA. A "consultative committee” comprised of four UFU members and four CFA members gives the UFU effective veto over any changes to internal business rules, directions, standing orders, standard operating procedures, operational instructions and "any like document”.

Willing to do whatever it takes to pay back the UFU, the Andrews government sacked the CFA board last Friday for opposing the EBA. Yet just after 2pm that same day, the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria secured a court injunction preventing the new CFA board appointed by Andrews from voting on the EBA until June 22. By insisting the CFA board signs the EBA, in the face of this injunction, the Andrews government is in potential contempt of court.

Witness too the interference by Victoria’s Industrial Relations Minister, Natalie Hutchins, who misled parliament by claiming she had assurances from Fair Work Australia president Iain Ross about the EBA. Ross gave no such assurances and Hutchins had to apologise to parliament.

In 2012, as workplace relations minister, Shorten cooked up a conciliation, again involving Ross, when the CFMEU refused to comply with court orders to end illegal pickets on Grocon’s Melbourne building sites. Ross’s involvement was curious given a court had already fined the CFMEU and directed it to return to work. And notice how the federal workplace relations minister wasn’t concerned about interfering in a "state” issue back then.

The Australian American Association dinner in Sydney last week honoured two men: former PM John Howard and Boral managing director Mike Kane. Howard said this of Kane: only two people in business have manned the barricades, planted the flag to defend the rule of law, to fight union abuse of the law and union intimidation: Chris Corrigan and Mike Kane.

Kane, who grew up in the Bronx, learned early about the sinister and self-serving power of the teamsters. At Boral years later, he refused to be bullied by the law-breaking CFMEU which demanded Boral stop supplying construction materials to Grocon. A gutsy call to uphold the rule of law in the face of brute union intimidation.

"Mike has earned a place in the pantheon of industrial relations warriors,” Howard said.

There are too few business leaders like Kane. There are also two few political leaders like Howard who, along with Peter Reith, stared down union violence. It’s time for Turnbull to step up, remain focused on exposing toxic union power, and drive home why we are voting at the double dissolution election. If he does, it will be win, win, win. A win for civic-minded volunteers intent on manning what Edmund Burke called those little platoons of civil society that bind us together. A win for Turnbull by proving his leadership mettle. And a win for the country, if union power is prevented from taking further hold.


Labor's assault on TAFE students

On National TAFE Day 2016, the Turnbull Coalition Government is standing with thousands of TAFE students against Bill Shorten’s knee-jerk plan to charge students thousands of dollars in upfront course fees.

Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Senator the Hon Scott Ryan said choice and opportunity in Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system were under attack from Bill Shorten and Labor, whose promises to cap fees will result in upfront fees for some TAFE courses.

"Labor frontbenchers[1] have admitted their plan will leave TAFE students paying thousands of dollars in upfront fees if their course costs more than $8000 per year,” Minister Ryan said. "Under Labor, students will have to choose between the course that best leads them to a job and the course they can afford.

Currently, eligible Australian students studying diploma-level courses or above can access a VET FEE-HELP student loan from approved institutions. If elected, Labor has promised to cap these loans at $8000 per student per year. Many TAFEs currently offer courses across a range of disciplines with fees well above the $8000 limit.

Under Labor’s proposal, students studying a Diploma of Maritime Operations at Hunter Institute, NSW, who are not currently required to pay upfront fees, will pay up to $13,025 upfront. Students studying a Diploma of Website Development at TAFE Queensland – Brisbane will pay up to $6,900 upfront and students studying a Diploma of Building and

Construction at Victoria’s Chisholm Institute will be forced to pay up to $8453 under a Shorten government. There are hundreds more examples across Australia, affecting thousands of future students.

Labor’s plan has been announced with no industry consultation and no modelling to gauge the effects of this policy on students. It has drawn criticism from both TAFE directors and representatives of private training providers.

"TAFE students have every right to fear Bill Shorten and Labor. Their plan to charge massive upfront fees has been introduced with no industry consultation and without regard for the impact on students,” Minister Ryan said.

Minister Ryan said Labor’s record in vocational education and training is disastrous. In 2012 Labor opened up VET FEE-HELP scheme to shonky providers and predatory brokers with no thought for the implications this would have on students and taxpayers.

"Labor is repeating the same mistakes it made in 2012, which led to the current VET FEE-HELP disaster, and this time they are asking  TAFE students to pay for Labor’s election promises” Minister Ryan said.

Labor’s ill-thought-through plan for massive upfront fees stands in stark contrast to the deliberative and consultative approach of the Turnbull Coalition Government, which has introduced more than a dozen measures to crack down on dodgy providers, and put students’ and taxpayers' interests at the heart of VET FEE-HELP reform.

Press release

This golden mole is an exceptionally rare sight in Australia's outback

While it might just look like an adorable ball of fur, a sighting of this animal only occurs a few times in a decade.

It is a marsupial mole, a.k.a. a karrkaratul, a rarely-seen burrowing mammal found lurking in the central deserts of Australia. This one was spotted by rangers in the Kiwirrkurra Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in Western Australia, while they were documenting stories about bush foods in the area.

"We were driving along a bush track on our way home when this little golden creature ran across the road in front of us," Kate Crossing, a coordinator at Kiwirrkurra IPA, wrote in a post on the Tjamu Tjamu Aboriginal Corporation - Kiwirrkurra Facebook page on Saturday.

One of the passengers in the car yelled out "karrkaratul" when it was spotted, before the driver stopped the vehicle to take a peek at the rare creature. Some of the rangers said they had never seen one, while one person said they had witnessed one years ago.

"We all crowded round as Yalti held this beautiful creature carefully in her hands, its powerful front feet trying to dig to safety," Crossing wrote.

Mark Eldridge, Principal Research Scientist in the mammalogy section at the Australian Museum, told Mashable Australia that such a sight is so uncommon that very little is actually known about the marsupial mole.

"They're just so rarely encountered that we don't know how rare or common they are. They live most of their lives underground, and rarely come to the surface," he said.

Marsupial moles are spotted on the surface usually after rain, Eldridge said, running along the surface before burrowing back down into the desert. So blink, and you'll likely miss it. "There are so few people in the areas where it occurs ... Certainly sightings of them only occur a couple of times a decade," he said.

They also have no eyes and no external ears; but still has functional hearing from inside its body, with presumably a good sense of smell. It also has no known relatives, despite resembling other animals.

"The remarkable thing is it looks like some of the completely unrelated moles from places like South Africa, but ended up looking similar because of their lifestyles," Eldridge said.

As for Crossing and the Kiwirrkurra rangers, they let the creature go — where it dug its way back underground shortly after and disappeared. See you in a few years, little guy.


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

16 June, 2016

Australian rodent the first mammal driven to extinction by climate change, researchers say

This is just speculation from beginning to end.  If people used to shoot them for sport, how do we know that someone did not do that recently?  It's an isolated area with no record of comings and goings

And if inundations were the cause, how do we know that global warming caused them?  Sea levels have been rising steadily ever since the Little Ice Age. 

And if the factor was more extreme weather events in the area concerned there is no way global warming can be responsible because extreme weather events have in fact be declining on average world wide.  And even the IPCC declined to make a link between warming and extreme weather

And there have been many instances of species being declared extinct only for specimens suddenly to pop up again.  This is just opportunistic propaganda

CLIMATE change is believed to have caused the extinction of a rodent found on a small island in the Great Barrier Reef.

According to Queensland researchers, the species is the first mammal declared extinct due to the worrying global phenomenon.

Extensive searches for the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rat-like animal, have failed to find a single specimen from its only known habitat on a small coral cay, just 340m long and 150m wide in the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef and the edge of the Torres Strait Islands.

In a newly published report, scientists at the University of Queensland detailed how a comprehensive survey in 2014 failed to find any trace of the rodent.

Researchers said the key factor behind the extinction was "almost certainly” ocean inundation of the low-lying cay, likely on several occasions, over the last decade which resulted in dramatic habitat loss.

"Because a limited survey in March 2014 failed to detect the species, Bramble Cay was revisited from August to September 2014, with the explicit aims of establishing whether the Bramble Cay melomys still persisted on the island and to enact emergency measures to conserve any remaining individuals,” researcher Luke Leung said.

Dr Leung is from the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and said the team went to great lengths in hopes of recovering signs of the species.

"A thorough survey effort involving 900 small animal trap-nights, 60 camera trap-nights and two hours of active daytime searches produced no records of the species, confirming that the only known population of this rodent is now extinct,” he said.
This species of Melomys is related to one that scientists say has gone extinct in the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

This species of Melomys is related to one that scientists say has gone extinct in the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Auscape/UIG via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Bramble Cay is the only known location of the rodent and the island sits just three metres above sea level.

Available data on sea-level rise and weather events in the Torres Strait region "point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys”, added the study.

Anthony D. Barnosky, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who is a leading expert on climate change’s effects on the natural world said the claim seems "right on target to me.”

"I think this is significant because it illustrates how the human-caused extinction process works in real time,” he told the New York Times.

The Bramble Cay melomy, considered the Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic (found nowhere else) mammal species, was first discovered on the cay in 1845 by Europeans who shot them for sport. They considered them large rats at the time.

But the last known sighting, by a professional fisherman, was in 2009.

The 2015 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species implicated climate change in the extinction of another mammal, the Little Swan Island hutia (Geocapromys thoracatus), a rodent previously found on a coral atoll in Honduras. But it found the main driver of its demise was an introduced cat, the report said.

Dr Leung said in the case of the Bramble Cay melomy, all signs pointed to the culpability of climate change.

"Available information about sea-level rise and the increased frequency and intensity of weather events producing extreme high water levels and damaging storm surges in the Torres Strait region over this period point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys,” he said.

The study added that the main hope for the species was that another population existed in neighbouring Papua New Guinea.

Environment group WWF-Australia said the fate of the species was a sad reminder of the nation’s extinction crisis.

"Australia officially has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world,” WWF spokesman Darren Grover said.

Unless governments commit significant funding towards protecting Australia’s threatened species, "we can expect to see more native critters go extinct on our watch”, he added.


Federal election 2016: Bill Shorten veers left on treaty, boats

Bill Shorten has sparked a political storm over sudden policy moves that appeal to the Labor left, as he breaks with bipartisanship on ­indigenous recognition and ­demands more transparency on border protection.

The Opposition Leader launched the new disputes with Malcolm Turnbull on two key policies, despite previously trying to close ranks with the Coalition on both issues, surprising his opponents by marking out new positions that could help Labor defend itself against the Greens.

The Prime Minister accused Mr Shorten of undermining the ­bipartisan goal of recognising indigenous Australians in the Constitution by airing his support for a treaty for Aborigines, a contentious idea that could wreck efforts to build community support for a successful referendum.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton then went on the offensive over Mr Shorten’s call for greater media access to offshore detention centres, warning that the Opposition Leader was trying to "play to the left” despite claiming to support stronger border protection measures. Observers said Mr Shorten was sending a "not-so-coded” message to progressive voters who might drift to the Greens on indigenous affairs and asylum-seeker policy, as Labor ­defends one flank while attacking the Coalition on the other.

Opening the new fights in the final weeks before the election, Mr Shorten told the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night that he backed a treaty. "Do I think that we need to move beyond just constitutional recognition to talking about what a post-constitutional recognition settlement with indigenous people looks like? Yes I do,” he said.

When asked if that settlement could look like a treaty, Mr Shorten said: "Yes.” He cautioned against any "gotcha” question and said there could be a discussion about a treaty.

Mr Shorten held his ground yesterday, saying he was "up for a conversation about a treaty” and accused the Prime Minister of starting a political fight over the matter.

The remarks appeal to Labor and Green supporters who have called for a treaty, supported by Bob Hawke in 1988 and now by leaders including Warren Mundine, who chairs the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

Both major leaders faced challenges in navigating indigenous ­issues when asked whether the white settlement of Australia could be called an "invasion” — a dispute that dates back decades.

"Well I think it can be fairly ­described as that,” Mr Turnbull said. "Obviously our first Australians, Aboriginal Australians, describe it as an invasion.”

Asked a similar question on Monday night, Mr Shorten said: "I wouldn’t exactly call it a welcome.”

Yesterday’s dispute over a treaty saw Mr Turnbull try to intensify pressure on Mr Shorten by suggesting the Opposition Leader needed to show more "discipline” in his remarks. "You’ve got to be very careful not to set hares running that undermine the real goal, which is to secure overwhelming consensus of Australians, an overwhelming majority for constitutional recognition of our First Australians,” Mr Turnbull said. "That should be our objective and it should be Mr Shorten’s objective and he should ask himself whether his remarks of last night advance that goal or perhaps put it at risk.”

Mr Mundine confirmed his support for a treaty but would not enter the political dispute over Mr Shorten’s move, arguing there was room for both debates.

Labor senator Pat Dodson, a leader of the reconciliation movement, countered the Prime Minister by saying a treaty could be discussed in parallel with indigenous recognition. "Mr Turnbull should lead on these matters, not follow,” he said. "Bipartisanship is critical to going forward on the pathway to reconciliation. These issues aren’t mutually exclusive. We need to talk about both.”

ANU politics professor John Wanna questioned the need for a treaty when it was difficult to agree on constitutional recognition. "The era of treaties is past; we’re now a mature democracy where indigenous people have the same rights as others but not the same life chances. That’s not going to be fixed by a treaty,” he said.

Professor Wanna said Mr Shorten’s moves on indigenous affairs and asylum seekers appeared to be shaped in part by internal dynamics. "These are all issues where he is sending not-so-coded signals to sections of the Labor Party and keeping them in the tent,” he said. "And it is also about defending Labor against the Greens.”

The storm over border protection policy came after the Opposition Leader told Q & A he wanted an end to secrecy surrounding offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Asked if that meant he would be willing to see journalists allowed into the detention centres, he said "yeah” but added a caveat. "When I say that, I do that on the basis that I don’t want to see the people smugglers back in business,” he said.

"The short answer is if I was PM it would have to be an amazing set of circumstances where we’re not prepared to tell you what was going on. I haven’t got all the security agencies in front of me but, as a general rule, this nation operates best if you treat people as smart and intelligent and tell them what’s going on.”

The government declared Mr Shorten was soft on border protection. Mr Dutton said: "What he’s trying to do is play to the left of his party to say that they will have a different policy after the election.”

Scott Morrison said it was up to Nauru and Papua New Guinea to decide. "He just doesn’t understand how it works,” the Treasurer told 2GB radio.  "For a start Nauru and Papua New Guinea are sovereign governments and they’re the ones who actually ultimately decide what happens in these issues.”

Publishers and the journalists’ union have warned against an increasing control of the media in its coverage of boat turnbacks and detention centres, particularly in the wake of revelations that the Australian Federal Police gathered metadata about a reporter at The Guardian who obtained leaked documents.

"The rights of journalists are trampled on,” warned Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance chief Paul Murphy in April.


Shocking police incompetence

A truck driver who spent $9000 and waited 10 months has beat a speeding fine in court after police made a series of errors in their report including the wrong location and wrong number plate.

Chris McCleod, 65, chose to dispute a $400 fine after it was alleged he was travelling 80km/h in a 60 kilometre zone in Albany, 420 km south east of Perth, during a double demerit period in March 2015, according to WA Today.

Mr McCleod reportedly spent $9000 in legal fees and won the case 10 months later after an Albany Court House judge ruled in his favour within 30 minutes of the case being heard.

Police documents on the fine had listed the the wrong speed camera, wrong direction the car was travelling in, the wrong location, the wrong weather conditions on the day and the wrong number plate, according to the news report.

Mr McCleod told 9 News said he was confident he wasn't speeding after a fellow truck driver had radioed ahead that he would encounter a speed camera on Chester Pass Road.

He was one of 200 people who were fined at the same location over the Labour Day long weekend, according to the report.

'I thought, well I'm going to have a go, and so it happened,' he told 9 News.

The court ordered police to pay Mr McCleod's legal fees and retract the fine.

Last year WA Police police reportedly issued 570,000 tickets to drivers, raising $95 million in revenue.


China accused of buying influence over Australian universities

The Chinese government is buying influence over Australian universities by donating libraries and funds for institutes as part of a broader push to strengthen its soft power in the country, two Australian journalists have argued.

There appears to be "a concerted campaign to promote Beijing’s strategic interests in Australia through deals covering all the key areas of society”, claims a new piece in the Australian Financial Review.

The debate in Australia echoes concerns in the US, where the Chinese government has been accused of seeking to exert control over the academy by funding Confucius Institutes on university campuses.

The institutes are normally limited to teaching courses on Chinese language and culture and organising events, but critics have argued that they exert a chilling effect on debate about China’s ruling Communist Party and could be used to observe Chinese students abroad. US universities including Penn State University have already closed their Confucius Institutes because of these fears.

In Australia, the Chinese government has donated a library to the University of Technology Sydney, while the Chinese Yuhu Group donated AUS$3.5 million (£1.8 million) to the University of Western Sydney to fund a new Chinese cultural institute and AUS$1.8 million to create the Australia China Relations Institute, the AFR article says.

The authors, Angus Grigg and Primrose Riordan, write that the Chinese government is also buying influence over other areas of Australian society.

"To date money linked to China’s Communist Party has flowed to both major political parties, universities, primary schools, the national broadcaster and this week to the country’s biggest media companies,” they write.

They quote Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, who said: "We have to assume that there is a larger strategy by the Communist Party to shift domestic public opinion in Australia on sensitive issues such as the US alliance and the South China Sea.

"The long-term goal is to make Australia less likely to oppose China in regional confrontations,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the University of Western Sydney directed Times Higher Education to a statement released last year about the establishment of the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, which says it will be "an important point of access to Chinese culture, providing resources, support and expertise for those wishing to study and research one of the world’s oldest and most enduring societies”.


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

15 June, 2016

Genetically Modified Crops Grown For 20 Years In Australia but we haven't turned into mutants yet

But nothing will convince the professional alarmists

Organic farming and genetic modification may not seem like a natural fit, but an independent researcher says a 20-year safety track record should be trusted by everyone, including organic farmers.

Peak industry organisation CropLife Australia commissioned a report into the impact of genetically modified (GM) crops in Australia since their introduction in 1996 showing a 23 percent reduction in herbicide and insecticide use.

The report by agricultural researchers PG Economics also found the more efficient, higher yield GM crops increased farmer incomes by $1.37 billion, and lowered carbon emissions by 71.5 million kg.

Curtin University agriculture biotechnology professor Michael Jones told The Huffington Post Australia the report was the first in-depth look into GM impacts in Australia and should end the debate about its safety.

"There were initially concerns about GM creating increased allergens or super weeds but now that we've got 20 years of scientific investigation we should be comfortable calling it safe," Jones told HuffPost Australia.

"I think the organic farming industry should see GM as perfect, organic crops. Really, all the food we eat is GM, that's what traditional plant breeding and animal breeding is -- it just takes a big longer."

Jones said the everyday person was interacting with GM products daily and fear mongering about the potential for it to cause increased cancer rates or destroy native plants never eventuated.

"Virtually all the cotton we grow in Australia is GM and all the cotton we import from places like Pakistan and India is pretty much GM also.

"If you go into a department store and you buy sheets for your bed or cotton underwear, it's all from GM cotton.

"Similarly if go down to the beach for fish and chips, chances are it's fried in GM cottonseed oil.

"Then we grow almost no soybean and very little maize and the countries we import from about 90 percent GM.

"We've been eating GM for a very long time and it's no problem."

Yet GM Free Australia Alliance spokesperson Jessica Harrison told that Australians felt they didn't believe genetic modification was proven safe and many didn't know whether their processed food had GM ingredients in it.

"Corn is 90 per cent GM in the U.S, and if that's used in Australian-manufactured biscuits or bread, no labelling is required," Harrision said. "The government doesn't believe we deserve to know."

Emeritus professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Sydney Stephen Leeder said the risks of GM food remained an open question. "No one can say with confidence that it has no effect."

"A lot of GM crops are engineered to tolerate 10 times the normal level of herbicides. Those herbicides have been demonstrated to be carcinogenic. Resistance is bred into the weeds so you need new herbicides or higher doses to keep them at bay," he told

But there may be a broader environmental benefit from GM crops compared to conventional farming.

Monsanto Australia New Zealand managing director Tony May told HuffPost Australia he was especially proud of the reduction in chemicals needed for GM crops.

"Reduction in pesticide use is an issue that's very close to my heart because came from a cotton farming background. To reduce amount of pesticides is quite amazing because it cuts down on farmer exposure and also the amount going into the environment."


Yes, Australia was invaded by British, says Malcolm Turnbull

Well handled

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has agreed that the colonisation of Australia by British settlers could be described as an "invasion", but has distanced himself from the idea of a treaty with Indigenous Australians in the near term.

Mr Turnbull was asked if he accepted Australia had been invaded, a divisive term in the history wars over how to characterise the arrival of the First Fleet from 1788 onwards.

"Well, I think it can be fairly described as that and I've got no doubt obviously our first Aboriginal Australians describe it as an invasion," the Prime Minister said.

"But, you know, you are talking about an historical argument about a word. The facts are very well known. This country was Aboriginal land. It was occupied by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years – 40,000 years."

But Mr Turnbull distanced himself from pursuing a treaty – a formal agreement between the government and Indigenous people that would involve legal outcomes – at least in the near future.

He said such a proposal could inhibit progress towards constitutional recognition of Indigenous people. The government has signalled it will hold a referendum on that question in 2017.

"We have to be very careful that you don't set hares running that undermine the real goal, which is to secure overwhelming consensus of Australians, overwhelming majority for constitutional recognition of our first Australians," Mr Turnbull said.

He noted that he spoke from bitter personal experience, having chaired the Australian Republican Movement during its 1999 referendum loss on Australian independence from Britain.

The comments, which are likely to draw ire from conservatives who have railed against any "black arm band" view of history, came after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Monday indicated he would support a treaty.

Speaking on ABC TV's Q&A program, Mr Shorten said he supported a debate after the referendum – expected in 2017 – arguing practical and symbolic recognition was needed.

"Do I think we need to move beyond just constitutional recognition to talking about what a post-constitutional recognition settlement with indigenous people looks like? Yes, I do," the Labor leader said.

"I do think there needs to be a discussion about should you have a treaty or shouldn't you have a treaty. What I'm not going to do is give all the answers on one spot at one time."

Asked if Australia's colonisation by the British amounted to an invasion, Mr Shorten said Indigenous Australians had been "dispossessed."

He agreed Indigenous citizens would consider it an invasion. "If I was Aboriginal, I wouldn't exactly call it a welcome, would you?" he said. "This was Aboriginal land. It is, it always will be."

Speaking in Perth on Tuesday, Mr Shorten said the Prime Minister's criticism was "complete rubbish".  "Mr Turnbull shouldn't politicise this issue and furthermore ... this nation has been grappling with the equal treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders since 1788 and we haven't got it right yet."

He said he would consider a "settlement" process after the referendum to improve living outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

"I'm up for the conversation on a treaty. What I am not going to do is impose paternalistic, top-down solutions.

In February, Mr Shorten left open the option of a treaty with Indigenous Australians.

Similar agreements have been signed with indigenous peoples in countries including the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

The Greens have called on Mr Turnbull to consider a treaty process alongside the referendum


Rent in Australia is falling at a record pace

As I predicted.  With new apartment buildings springing up like mushrooms it had to happen

The cost to rent a property in Australia is falling at the fastest pace on record.

According to the latest Rent Review Snapshot released by Corelogic, weekly rental rates fell by 0.3% to $486 across Australia’s capitals in the 12 months to May, marking the fastest annual decrease seen dating back to when the survey was first created in 1996.

Median rental rates stood at $489 per week for houses, and $469 per week for units. Over the past year, rental rates for houses slid by 0.7%, offsetting a 1.6% increase for units.

The reason for the decrease in the headline index is that there are more houses for rent than units across the country.

"The current annual decline in house rents is the largest on record, while annual unit rental growth is occurring at its slowest pace on record," said Cameron Kusher, research analyst at Corelogic.

By location, there were mixed performances across the country with a distinct divergence between non-mining and mining capitals.

"Over the past 12 months, rental rates have increased in Sydney (+0.9%), Melbourne (+2.3%), Hobart (+3.7%) and Canberra (+0.1%)," said Kusher.

"Rental rates have fallen over the past year in Brisbane (-0.9%), Adelaide (-0.9%), Perth (-8.8%) and Darwin (-16.9%).

The table below, supplied by CoreLogic, reveals the monthly, quarterly and annual change in rental rates by capital city.

With rents falling and property prices continuing to push higher, rental yields also plumbed the lowest level on record.

"At a combined capital city level, gross rental yields were recorded at 3.3% for houses in May 2016 and at 4.2% for units," notes Kusher.

"With rental rates falling over the past year and an expectation that falls will continue, we may see further compression of yields over the coming months however, this will be dependent on growth in home values as well as the direction of rental rates," he said.

In light of this, Kusher believes that capital growth "will continue to be a much more important factor for property investors than rental returns".

That’s something that has received plenty of attention recently given the view expressed by some analysts that the increased investor involvement in the housing market is driving house prices higher, particularly in Sydney and to a lesser degree Melbourne.

"The low yield profile across Australia’s two largest cities, which are also the cities that attract the largest investment demand, suggests that most recent investors, despite the low mortgage rate settings, are likely to be utilising a negative gearing strategy to offset their cash flow losses against their taxable income," says Kusher.

The charts below look at the annual change in rental growth, overlaid against current rental yields for both houses and apartments. CoreLogic also breaks down the results by capital city.

Though higher than other asset classes, yields across all capitals are continuing to fall at present.

And that trend looks set to continue, according to Kusher, providing a boon to those looking for a property to rent.

"With housing supply, and subsequently rental supply, continuing to rise as growth in wages and the population continues to slow, it is unlikely we will see a turnaround in rental markets in the short-term," says Kusher.

"As a result, renters will continue to have more choice and may actually be able to move into superior rental accommodation for similar or even lower costs."

Something to consider, and not only for potential renters but also those looking to invest.


Big agent commissions from developers emerge to handle Australia’s apartment glut

You'd be a mug to buy a new home unit at the moment

We seem to be arriving at the final stage of the apartment bubble, which is where all concerned have pedalled out over the cliff edge but are unaware that the ground has disappeared, and are held aloft by pure hard sell.

A couple of brochures landed in my inbox a few days ago offering "incredible developer incentives” for new apartment blocks in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

The first, in Racecourse Road North Melbourne, developed by Alpha14 Property Group, offered 8 per cent upfront commission, $10,000 "channel bonus”, developer to pay stamp duty, developer to pay $5,000 FIRB application fee.

That last bit is a clue to main market for these units: the brochures are being widely distributed, but especially in China, and the commissions are especially aimed at Chinese sales agents.

The "incredible developer incentives” are available to anyone, including Australian financial advisers looking to replace the investment trailing commissions that were banned two years ago the FoFA legislation.

But most Australian investors and advisers are wary about the apartment market these days and happy to watch.

The key market now is China, where there is an apparently endless supply of money looking to leave the country and an industry of sales agents making serious money from the upfront commissions paid by Australian unit developers.

For example, another block of units in Quay Street Brisbane, developed by Abacus Property Group, and comprising 78 one and two bedroom apartments with "stunning city and river views” from $352,000 per unit, is offering 8 per cent upfront sales commissions. That means an agent can make close to $30,000 selling a single unit, which truly is an "incredible incentive”.

The Banksia New Quay apartments in Melbourne’s Docklands, developed by MAB Corporation, is offering upfront commissions, plus $48,000 for agents to use "to either discount the purchase price and or upgrades on all remaining apartments”.

There’s nothing illegal about big sales commissions for apartments sold to investors, unlike for financial products, which were banned in 2014.

So if an adviser sells a fund that invests in residential units, no commissions of any sort — described as "conflicted remuneration” — are allowed. But if he or she sells a unit directly an 8 per cent upfront commission can be paid.

That’s because the legislation only covers financial products, not property. But should commissions paid on sales of units also be described as "conflicted remuneration”?

That depends on whether the agent is clearly described as a sales person or some kind of independent adviser.

The reason financial product commissions were banned is that the advisers who were selling them were presenting themselves as independent when in fact they were really in the business of selling. It was too late to change the labelling and perception of the financial planning industry, so sales commissions had to be banned and the focus of the industry turned to client benefit only.

However everyone knows real estate agents are sales people, and that they are getting a commission to sell a house. If you are buying a property, you know the agent is selling it to you on commission, not giving you independent advice on what to buy.

In fact, most sales — including advertising in this newspaper — involve some kind of commission.

According to the website, the average real estate sales commission across Australia is 2.22 per cent, with the lowest in South Australia (2.07 per cent) and the highest in Tasmania (3.26 per cent).

That’s the problem with the 8 per cent commissions offered by developers of new apartment blocks — simply that they are so much more than normal real estate sales commissions.

The question is whether at some point the size of a commission tips it over into a conflict.

At the very least it indicates that the buyers of these units are paying too much and are going to lose money: in effect they are rewarding the agent for selling to them because the commission is embedded in the price and once paid, it’s lost.

It also explains why there’s a huge oversupply of apartments in Australia now.


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

14 June, 2016

NSW farmers stepping up tree felling even before land-clearing laws loosened

Greenies are always trying to restrict farmers' right to use their property as they see fit, making a nonsense out of freehold.  So when the regulations ease up a bit, farmers have got to rush in and do whatever is needed to develop their property.  There are plenty of national parks for wildlife preservation but Greenies always want it all

The state's farmers have lopped paddock trees at an accelerating rate in the past 18 months even before a new land-clearing law eases controls further, government data shows.

The new figures, which reveal the rate of clearing of paddock trees has more than doubled since November 2014, come as the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists wrote to all MPs to call for a reversal of "retrograde changes" planned in the new Biodiversity Conservation act.

NSW farmers used a new self-assessment code to remove 21,716 paddock trees – or more than 50 a day – over the past year and a half.

The rate, at an average of about 50 per day, was 140 per cent more than the average over the previous seven years, data from the Office of Environment and Heritage showed. Paddock trees, judged to be single or small patches of trees, make up 40 per cent of remaining woodland cover, OEH says.

Satellite monitoring by OEH would probably have detected even more clearing but the public has been left in the dark because the O'Farrell-Baird governments had failed to release a native vegetation report since 2013, Mehreen Faruqi, the Greens environment spokeswoman, said.

The Greens had also sought information on the number of applications OEH received and what if any compliance of the self-assessment codes they conducted, Dr Faruqi said.

"If almost 22,000 trees can be removed under the existing law, then it will be a disaster when new laws that further facilitate land clearing are brought in," she said, adding the latest tree-felling numbers were "the tip of the iceberg".

A spokeswoman for Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, did not address the scale of tree clearing on farms, but said "the proposed Biodiversity Conservation package aims to reverse the decline of biodiversity in NSW because the current system isn't working".

?"The NSW Government is currently seeking feedback on the draft reforms and stakeholders including environmental groups and farmers are encouraged to put forward a submission before June 28," she said.

Labor's environment spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe, said the figures "ring alarm bells on how far the current biodiversity laws have already been watered down".

"If these laws proceed in their current form, there will be a return to land clearing on a scale unseen for decades in NSW with catastrophic impacts on native animals, soil, water and greenhouse gas emissions," Ms Sharpe said.

The Wentworth Group was also scathing of the new proposals, warning that "key elements [of the new act] will substantially weaken existing protections" contained within the Native Vegetation and Threaten Species acts which will be replaced by the new Biodiversity Conservation act.

The group's criticism carries additional weight because one of the signatories to the letter is Professor Hugh Possingham, a member of the Biodiversity Review Panel that reviewed the existing legislation.

The proposed law contains three major flaws including a weaker set of codes that would permit more broadscale land-clearing, a lack of mapping of areas of high conservation value, and its $240 million plan to reward private landholders protecting native vegetation on their properties may end up as "a taxpayer subsidy to farmers to degrade land", the group said.

"The watering down of laws to stop broadscale clearing is driven by a small handful of property owners who believe they have the right to do whatever they wish, irrespective of the long-term damage this might cause to the rest of society," the scientists said.

Mark Speakman, environment minister, said he had noted the scientists' concerns.

"There are a range of diverse views on the proposed reforms," he said. "The draft reforms are designed to protect biodiversity and create the best possible outcomes for the environmental future of NSW."


Miners' union determined to destroy the jobs of its members

With their obstructionism, they could well cause the loss-making operation to close down completely.  But "no retreat" on wages and conditions is sacred to them

Maintenance workers at an unprofitable coal mine in Western Australia's southwest have vowed to appeal a Fair Work Commission decision to terminate their current enterprise agreement.

Griffin Coal, owned by India's Lanco Infratech, applied for the commission's intervention after more than 12 months of unproductive talks with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union about a replacement agreement for its Collie mine.

After Griffin Coal president Raj Kumar Roy complained about high wages, which were the company's biggest operating cost and had been exacerbated by the mining boom, commissioner Danny Cloghan agreed to terminate the enterprise agreement.

In handing down his decision last week, commissioner Cloghan said it would result in reduced conditions for workers but was not contrary to the public interest.

AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney described the move as an outrageous attack on the workers and their families, and a kick in the guts to the Collie community.

"We'll be seeking an injunction and appealing the decision to the full bench, as well as pursuing a fair replacement agreement for these workers," Mr McCartney said.

The commission heard Griffin Coal had racked up about $290 million in losses over the past five years and was only surviving with the financial support of the parent company.

While the company contended the termination was "necessary but not sufficient to improve efficiency and productivity", it would make jobs more secure, commissioner Cloghan said.

Mr McCartney also criticised the state government for not having a transition plan for Collie.

In April, Treasurer Mike Nahan flagged mothballing part of the Muja power station near Collie under sweeping changes to an oversupplied energy market, prompting local MP Mick Murray to question the town's future.


Ruthless union boss behind Victorian firefighter stoush

He clearly wants to chase the volunteer firefighters away so he can get more jobs for his members -- even if they have nothing to do for 6 months of the year

The union chief given un­precedented power over Vic­toria’s volunteer firefighters has ­pushed to make it harder for volunteers who get cancer associ­ated with firefighting to access ­compensation.

United Firefighters Union boss Peter Marshall has also taken a stand against efforts to increase the number of female firefighters in Melbourne’s paid metropolitan brigade.

Mr Marshall is a close ally of Victorian Premier Daniel ­Andrews, who last week saw off Jane Garrett, who resigned as emergency services minister after she backed volunteers over the UFU, and sacked the board of the Country Fire Authority.

Volunteer brigades have told The Australian of a culture of outright hostility from the union, a situation that flared in ­recent weeks as the Victorian Labor government attempts to ram through an enterprise bargaining agreement with the CFA, which has 60,000 volunteers.

One volunteer firefighter had his tyres slashed after speaking publicly against the deal.

Volunteers and the UFU are at odds over a submission made by Mr Marshall last year when he wrote to a Queensland parliamentary committee urging tougher rules for compensation for volunteer members who get cancer in that state.

"We can’t and won’t trust Marshall,” a brigade member told The Australian.

Last August, as Queensland’s parliament considered the Workers Compensation and Rehab­ilitation (Protecting Firefighters) Amen­d­ment Bill, Mr Marshall wrote to MPs advising there was not enough evidence to support the automatic inclusion of volunteer firefighters.

For certain types of cancers — particularly those caused by toxins released from structural fires — the law "reverses the onus of proof so that provided the firefighter meets the requirements in the legislation, it is ­presumed that the cancer is an occupational disease unless otherwise proven. There is a wealth of accepted scientific studies that have demonstrated the ­increased incidence of specific cancers for career firefighters,” Mr Marshall wrote in his ­submission.

"There is not the same evidence or studies for volunteer firefighters.”

Mr Marshall said a different metric should apply to volunteers such that "the claimant can demonstrate that during the qualifying period for the specific cancer, the volunteer firefighter attended a specified number of exposure incidents”.

"The current wording may give rise to claims to the presumption from members of a rural fire brigade who have not been ­exposed to the hazards of a fire ground,” he said. "The current wording therefore may open the floodgates, which would have a direct impact on the credibility of the presumption. The current wording therefore may open the floodgates, which may have significant cost implications.”

He told The Australian yesterday the recommendations were necessary to prevent litigation. "The submission was intended to prevent volunteers from having to litigate each and every claim. Full-time firefighters have to satisfy five-year and 10-year thresholds for their cancers to be recognised as work-related,” he said. "Volunteers need criteria to protect them, or each case will end in litigation.”

Focus on the union has grown in the middle of a federal election campaign, damaging Bill Shorten in his home state.

The Andrews government wrote to the members of the CFA board late on Friday informing them they would be sacked, just hours after newly sworn-in Emergency Services Minister James Merlino received the board’s second rejection of the proposed EBA.

Last year, Mr Marshall urged the Labor government to intervene in the case of a Metropolitan Fire Brigade commander charged with accessing pornography and racist material on a work computer. When he struggled to have the disciplinary case heard under the more lenient 2010 EBA rules — rather than the MFB’s governing legislation — Mr Marshall went public, releasing a 17-page file of emails and text messages that implied he had a deal with the state government.

That deal fell over because Ms Garrett refused to bend to the will of the union.

Ms Garrett then became a target for Mr Marshall and his forces.

In December, as relations soured, Ms Garrett was targeted by UFU protesters, who "bullied and harassed” her at a photo ­opportunity with new female ­recruits.

"There are 3 per cent women in the fire services ... every other ­organisation celebrates when women come through,” she told the protesters at the time.

"Look at you guys, you’re yell­ing at us, you’re standing over us.”

Footage of the incident shows UFU members following Ms Garrett through a compound while filming her. One told her: "I’d go and get help if I was you.”

The clash came as the union was fighting the MFB on its push to raise the number of female firefighters in the service to 5 per cent. The UFU sought an injunction to stop the new recruitment on International Women’s Day last year.

"It is a total falsehood to say that the UFU is opposed to more women firefighters. Our position is totally the reverse,” Mr Marshall said yesterday. "However we do not agree with the MFB lowering the pass mark from 50 to 45, scrapping the mechanical aptitude test, then scrapping the results to pick and choose who should be firefighters regardless of merit.”

The MFB said it was not changing the physical barrier to entry, but would take into ­account the background of applicants once they had passed the usual tests.

In 2008, during discussions about the MFB developing ­"diversity training”, Mr Marshall told members: "MFB will get jack shit and nothing will happen for the next three years.”

Victoria’s Liberal Party spokesman for industrial relations, Robert Clark, said: "Daniel Andrews’s mate Peter Marshall has shown time and time again he will stop at nothing to get his way, and doesn’t care about the damage he causes.

"We’ve seen it with the endless disputes, delays and costs he’s ­inflicted on the MFB, his public demands on Labor MPs for political interference to drop porn­ography charges against a UFU firefighter, and his denigration of anyone who gets in his way. Now we’re seeing it with the power he’s been able to exercise over Premier Andrews, who has sacrificed one of his best ministers rather than stand up to Peter Marshall.”


'Defending your property should be your right': Charges against homeowners prompt petition

Community outcry over charges laid against two men who police claim used 'excessive force' while performing a citizen's arrest on a man alleged to have broken into their business, has sparked an online petition.

The Greenfields father and son, who are due to face court on July 1, were jointly charged by Mandurah police with grievous bodily harm.

On April 3, about 7.20pm, a stolen Isuzu utility was allegedly used to force entry to a business premises on Rouse Road, Greenfields.  A number of items were loaded into a trailer attached to the utility.

During the incident a 38-year-old man linked to the Isuzu was detained by the two men associated with the business premises.

Police are alleging the men used excessive force to detain him, causing him to receive serious injuries which required medical treatment in hospital.

The case against the men has outraged many in the local community including Ashley Mildwaters, who has started an online petition on calling for the charges to be dropped.

"A Greenfields business owner and his son have been charged over the alleged assault of a would-be thief," Mildwaters wrote on the petition page.

"Actively defending your property should be your right, the force necessary to protect yourself, your family and your property should be [decided] by you. "Not the government and not the police."

Since going live the petition has attracted more than 1,300 supporters.

Police said the man detained by the pair had since been released from hospital and, "as such inquiries into the circumstances surrounding his presence at the business premises, and his link to the stolen vehicle, will now be progressed".


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

13 June, 2016

Multinational tax dodging costs the government billions
It is undoubtedly true that profit-shifting reduces government tax revenues but one has to ask if that is good or bad.  Leftists don't even think about that.  To them, nothing is too much for government.  Once the money is in government hands they have an opportunity to influence its spending.

But for anyone who asks the unmentionable, the answer is not so  clear.  Is it best for funds to be wasted by an incompetent government or is it best for resources to be carefully saved for future investment?  And that is not just rhetoric.  The Rudd/Gillard government showed how colossal government waste can be.  They added half a trillion to Australia's national debt and what did we get for it?  More bureaucrats mostly.

So any money that can be kept out of government hands should be.  It will be much more usefully employed by those who earned it

I might also mention that the poll commissioned by Oxfam should not be taken seriously.  Oxfam are anything but impartial and will be sure to have designed the poll to get the answers they want

Nearly $AU9 billion that could be spent on schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure in Australia and in poor countries is instead being hidden by Australian-based multinationals in tax havens, according to an Oxfam report released today.

According to The Hidden Billions – How tax havens impact lives at home and abroad, and based on the latest available data, tax haven use by Australian-based multinationals cost Australia around USD $5 billion (AUD $6 billion) in lost tax revenue annually, and cost developing countries an estimated USD $2.3 billion (AUD $2.8 billion) every year.

The report is being launched with an online poll that shows 90 per cent of Australians polled think the Government should do more to stop multinational corporations avoiding paying tax in Australia and in every country in which they operate.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the report showed how much the public lose out when big companies do the wrong thing and governments don’t step in and stop them.
"The Oxfam report, for the first time, puts dollar figures on what Australians and poor people in our region are missing out on because Australian-based multinational companies aren’t paying their fair share of tax like the rest of us," Dr Szoke said.

The Oxfam-commissioned poll also found:

*         60 per cent of Australians polled believe the main thing the Federal Government should do to raise revenue is crackdown on tax avoidance by multinationals;

*         90 per cent of Australians polled believe the Federal Government should legislate to prevent all multinationals operating in this country from moving their profits to tax havens to avoid paying tax here;

*         87 per cent think that those Australian companies who operate in developing countries and in Australia should publicly report their earnings and how much tax they pay everywhere.

Globally, tax-dodging is rampant in developing countries, with big companies ripping USD $172 billion (AUD $209 billion) of tax revenue out of their economies in 2014, money that could have been used to fight poverty and generate equality and prosperity.

Dr Szoke also said The Hidden Billions report found that use of tax havens overseas by big businesses based in Australia would cost developing countries USD $4.1 billion (AUD $5.6 billion) in desperately needed revenue for essential public services over the next five years, including many of Australia’s poorest neighbours.

"Over the next five years, it’s estimated that Indonesia will be deprived of around USD $360 million (AUD $493 million) that could have gone towards education, and PNG stands to lose around USD $17 million (AUD $23 million) in expenditure on essential services such as hospitals, schools and sanitation," Dr Szoke said.

"This is shocking, given in PNG, 60 per cent of the population don’t have access to clean water.

"In Ghana, funding lost due to the use of tax havens by Australian-based multinationals could pay for an estimated additional 1,400 primary school teachers, and nearly 600 nurses, a year.  In The Philippines, an estimated 1,700 new classrooms per year could be built.

"It doesn’t have to be this way. Australia should show that it’s tackling this issue by making the tax affairs of Australian-based multinationals public – not only for their operations in Australia, but for every country in which they operate.

"Our research relies on IMF data, which shows the flow of money from Australian-based multinationals.  Unfortunately, there is no way to find out which individual companies are dodging tax, as they’re not required to publish their tax affairs on a country-by-country basis."

Dr Szoke said this lack of public reporting enabled big companies to hide billions of dollars they should be paying in tax.

"Other countries, including the US, France and Canada, have made tax reporting public for high-risk sectors in big business, such as for mining companies and big banks; it’s time Australia caught up," she said.

Dr Szoke said the report showed that Australia was a major part of this global problem that affected so many lives here and overseas.

"With inequality worsening around the world, making the fight against poverty even harder, companies must pay their fair share of taxes, so that the revenue can be used to improve people’s lives, both here and for the world’s poorest people," Dr Szoke said.

Press release

Universities warned on ‘flimsy evidence’ of Aboriginality

Vindication for Andrew Bolt?  He got sued under "human rights" laws for saying roughly the same thing

Indigenous-specific enrolments and scholarships at Australian universities are being awarded to students with "flimsy evidence" of their heritage, according to one of the nation’s leading Aboriginal academics.

Bob Morgan, head of the University of Newcastle’s indigenous Wollotuka Institute, has joined a push for tougher checks across the community of claims to Aboriginality and benefits, which in some cases are given on the back of a single statutory declaration.

A forum of native title holders, indigenous leaders and regulators in Sydney has been told of suspected rorting at universities, in the public service and in gaining access to government grants.

A national register of indigenous people was proposed by academic and activist Stephen Hagan and backed by the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine. Dr Hagan said the register was needed to stop "the problem of fake Abor­iginals", which could include ­people on Federal Court-vetted records of native title claimants.

"A first nations register is needed to eliminate the concerns around the authentication of ­Aboriginality of an individual," he said. "People who cannot provide genealogical proof of an apical (kinship) ancestor that links them to a tribe can have their name ­entered into the register for a ­period of 12 months until they can prove their links to a tribe."

The forum heard there had been a "gradual watering-down" of the federal test of Aboriginality, requiring proven indigenous descent, self-identification and acceptance by an Aboriginal community. Professor Morgan said the problem had now emerged in the university sector, where student applications for indigenous ­places, scholarships and other support were being accepted with little evidence. In some instances, he said, a statutory declaration of self-identification had been accepted.

"I share a concern within the academic community about the lack of appropriate processes to determine the bona fides of claimants to Aboriginality," Professor Morgan said. "It has ­become more problematic as both state and federal governments have put in place programs to best serve the interests and ­aspirations of Aboriginal people.

"There is no doubt people are taking advantage of poor process to get a benefit they are not entitled to, with evidence that could be described as flimsy at best."

Indigenous Australians are under-represented in the university system. About 1.4 per cent of enrolments in 2010 were from Aboriginal people, who make up 2.2 per cent of the student population. Professor Morgan, chairman of the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, said he was in talks with the University of Newcastle to ­develop tighter guidelines that could serve as a model for the sector. "There needs to be a lot of discussions, we are aware of enrolments being ­accepted on the basis of a DNA test report that says a person has some Aboriginal ancestry," he said. "But I have a distant relative who was Welsh; does that make me Welsh?

"There has to be links into the community, but there is also a question about what to do about those of the Stolen Generation who may have grown up without ­Aboriginal connections."

He said there was no suggestion any of the 1000 University of Newcastle indigenous students were not entitled to claim ­Aboriginality.

In February, NSW Land Rights Act registrar Stephen Wright disqualified a claim of ­Aboriginality by a public servant who had held the Aboriginal-identified position of regional general manager of the Aboriginal Housing Office. Laurinne Campbell had relied on land council vetting to secure the position in Dubbo, NSW, and later set up an indigenous corporation with her family.


Coral corruption: An honest environmentalist in trouble

Honest scientists are an endangered species.  Must toe the line.  Below are three recent articles referring to Prof. Peter Ridd.  You can see why he's got the Warmists steaming

When marine scientist Peter Ridd suspected something was wrong with photographs being used to highlight the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, he did what good scientists are supposed to do: he sent a team to check the facts.

After attempting to blow the whistle on what he found — healthy corals — Professor Ridd was censured by James Cook University and threatened with the sack. After a formal investigation, Professor Ridd — a renowned campaigner for quality assurance over coral research from JCU’s Marine Geophysics Laboratory — was found guilty of "failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution".

His crime was to encourage questioning of two of the nation’s leading reef institutions, the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, on whether they knew that photographs they had published and claimed to show long-term collapse of reef health could be misleading and wrong.

"These photographs are a big deal as they are plastered right across the internet and used very widely to claim damage," Professor Ridd told The Weekend Australian.

The photographs were taken near Stone Island off Bowen. A photograph taken in the late 19th century shows healthy coral. An accompanying picture supposedly of the same reef in 1994 is ­devoid of coral. When the before-and-after shots were used by GBRMPA in its 2014 report, the authority said: "Historical photographs of inshore coral reefs have been especially powerful in illustrating changes over time, and that the change illustrated is typical of many inshore reefs."

Professor Ridd said it was only possible to guess within a kilometre or two where the original photograph was taken and it would not be unusual to find great coral in one spot and nothing a kilometre away, as his researchers had done. Nor was it possible to say what had killed the coral in the 1994 picture.

"In fact, there are literally hundreds of square kilometres of dead reef-flat on the Great Barrier Reef which was killed due to the slow sea-level fall of about a meter that has occurred over the last 5000 years," he said. "My point is not that they have probably got this completely wrong but rather what are the quality assurance measures they take to try to ensure they are not telling a misleading story?"

A GBRMPA spokesman said last night "the historical photos serve to demonstrate the vulnerability of nearshore coral reefs, rather than a specific cause for their decline.

"Ongoing monitoring shows coral growth in some locations, however this doesn’t detract from the bigger picture, which shows shallow inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef south of Port Douglas have clearly degraded over a period of decades." Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies chairman Terry Hughes did not respond to questions from The Weekend Australian.

Professor Ridd was disciplined for breaching principle 1 of JCU’s code of conduct by "not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues". He has been told that if he does it again he may be found guilty of ­serious misconduct.

A JCU spokesman said it was university policy not to comment on individual staff, but that the university’s marine science was subject to "the same quality assurance processes that govern the conduct of, and delivery of, ­science internationally".

This is the crux of the issue for Professor Ridd: "I feel as though I am the whistleblower."

His potential downfall is the ­result of a long campaign for better quality assurance standards for ocean and reef research, which has come under fire globally for exaggerating bad news and ignoring the good. Reef politics is a hot topic in the wake of widescale bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef as part of what US agencies have called the world’s third mass-bleaching event.

About a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef has died and could take years to rebuild. The damage is concentrated in the northern section off Cape York. The scientific response to the bleaching has exposed a rift ­between GBRMPA and the JCU’s Coral Bleaching Taskforce led by Professor Hughes over how bleaching data should be treated and presented to the public. Conservation groups have run hard on the issue, with graphic ­images of dying corals. All sides of politics have responded with ­increased funding to reduce sediment flow and to combat crown of thorns starfish.

University of Western Australia marine biologist Carlos Duarte argued in BioScience last year that bias contributed to "perpetuating the perception of ocean calamities in the absence of robust evidence".

A paper published this year claimed scientific journals had exaggerated bad news on ocean acidification and played down the doubts. Former GBRMPA chairman Ian McPhail accused activists of "exaggerating the impact of coral bleaching for political and financial gain". Dr McPhail told The Weekend Australian it "seems that there is a group of researchers who begin with the premise that all is disaster".

Concerns about quality assurance in science are not confined to the reef. Drug-makers generated headlines when they were unable to replicate the results of landmark studies in the basic science of cancer. Professor Ridd poses the question: "Is the situation in marine science likely to be worse than in medicine and pharmaceuticals, psychology, education? Do we have a decent system of replication and checking of results?

"Is there a chance that many marine scientists are partially driven by ideology? Is there a chance that peer review among this group is self-selecting of the dominant idea? Is there a robust debate without intimidation?"

Professor Ridd wants an independent agency to check the science before governments commit to spending hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is no doubt the current bleaching is a serious event but there are also many questions still to be answered. The consensus position of reef experts is that bleaching events will get worse as ocean temperatures continue to rise because of climate change.


Great Barrier Reef death in five years is "laughable"

CLAIMS by a James Cook University professor that the Great Barrier Reef will be "terminal" in five years have been rubbished by one of his own colleagues.

In a scientific paper released this week, JCU’s Dr Jon Brodie and Professor Richard Pearson warned the natural wonder would be in a terminal condition within five years without a $10 billion commitment during the federal election campaign to improve water quality.

They said many parts of the Reef were in bad shape from pollution, climate change, and overfishing, and they were continuing to decline.

The researchers predicted a wave of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks in 2025 triggered by poor water quality.

But JCU marine geophysicist Professor Peter Ridd said his colleagues’ claims were "laughable". "I think the threats to the Barrier Reef are greatly exaggerated and mostly based upon science that is very poorly quality assured," he said.

Latest findings by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority show 93 per cent of the natural wonder has varying levels of coral bleaching which was worse in remote parts off Cape York.

Prof Ridd said bleaching was an entirely natural event. "It has always occurred over the millennia, and this is nothing special," he said. "It’s no different to say that on the land, when in extremely dry conditions for example, eucalypt trees lose their leaves.

"There are all sorts of ­response mechanisms to extreme conditions. "High temperature is one of those, and bleaching is the ­response corals have."

Mr Brodie said if climate change continued at its current pace the combination of its ­effects and a starfish outbreak or similar event could lead to permanent loss of the coral.

He said the current federal election campaign was probably the last chance for politicians to put forward their plans of action on water quality and climate change if the GBR was to avoid permanent damage.

"It takes time for change to happen and we need to start fast. If something is not done in this election cycle then we may not see good coral again in our children’s lifetime," he said.

Prof Ridd agreed that coral bleaching needed to be studied, but questioned spending too many resources to do it.  "Australia faces far worse environmental problems than threats to the Reef," he said.

"Invasive species and noxious weeds on our rangelands are a much greater threat than the small amount of loss that we may or may not have had on the Barrier Reef."


Great Barrier Reef science needs 'quality assurance' to guarantee accuracy and better policy decisions: academic

 A James Cook University academic claims a lack of 'quality assurance' of science about the Great Barrier Reef is failing policy makers

Audiences in far north Queensland have been told scientific claims made about the health of the Great Barrier Reef are not subjected to the same level of "antagonistic rigour" as those made in the private sector.

Physical oceanographer Peter Ridd, from James Cook University, says quality assurance is a well-understood concept in just about every industry, but not in the scientific world, where arguably claims and predictions are frequently used to influence decision and policymakers.

Professor Ridd reviewed the data and found "major problems and statistical errors" in several scientific papers in which claims were made, for example, about calcification rates and a reduction in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef.

The widely-accepted system of scientific peer review was failing to deliver the antagonistic scrutiny or rigour required, he claimed.

"They may be your mates, they could hate you and really give you a hard time, but the crucial thing is peer review is only a read of the actual paper," he said.

"It won't delve into the data and some of the data sets are enormous and it can take you months and months of work to really check if there's not another interpretation and that's the problem.

"The peer review is a great start in terms of quality assurance and we need it for all science, but for the really important science where you're going to make big policy decisions...

"When you're going to spend a billion dollars to save the reef or you're going to close down the fishing or the coal industry, you need to have a better system of quality assurance than this peer review process and that is what we don't do.

"It does happen in the private industry, but it doesn't happen for the public good science that we're talking about."

Professor Ridd said in the absence of a guaranteed method of "proper antagonistic review", enormous resources and attention was being directed at some environmental threats at the expense of others.

"A lot of the science is proposing hypothesises that there is perhaps a threat, but the data, in many cases, doesn't actually support that there's a huge risk, that there's a risk there but maybe not as large as we thought.

"For example, we have diabolical problems with feral animals and noxious weeds, but almost no money is spent on those problems while we spend a lot of money on the reef.

"I am not totally sure the Great Barrier Reef isn't majorly threatened or majorly damaged, but what I'm totally sure about is the scientific system is not working, that we're not guaranteeing debate."


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

12 June, 2016

Australian governments have failed children: UNICEF report

This is mostly nonsense.  The key to seeing that lies in the number of countries surveyed.  Why only 37?  No mystery at all. If countries where children REALLY get a hard time were included, the list would be swamped by African and Muslim countries -- and we can't have that, can we?  That would be RACIST!  So this whole effort is flawed and dishonest from the beginning and mostly consists of nit-picking.  There is no way that governments can see that all children are treated well.  They try but inevitably hit the rock of uncaring bureaucracy

And in Australia, the way Aborigines live will always inflate statistics of abuse.  Aboriginal men do indeed knock their women and children around at a great rate.  Governments of all sorts have tried to ameliorate that using all sorts of strategies but with no success.  Very intrusive intervention might have some effect but that too would be RACIST!  You can't win

UNICEF research shows poverty is growing in Australia and the gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle is widening.

A landmark study into the rights of Australian children has delivered a scathing assessment, accusing successive governments of failing to support the country's most vulnerable young people.

The report found state and federal governments have repeatedly breached the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child over the past 25 years and would continue to do so.

The study from the Australian Child Rights Taskforce, an organisation comprising more than 100 groups including UNICEF Australia and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre, highlighted the fact that one in six Australian children still lives in poverty despite two decades of economic growth.
One in six Australian children still lives in poverty despite two decades of economic growth.

A former chief justice of the Family Court of Australia and chairman of Children's Rights International, Alastair Nicholson, said Australian governments had repeatedly ignored the rights of young people, despite agreeing to the UN Convention in 1990.

"This report makes it clear that since the early 1990s, successive Australian governments have consistently breached the Convention on the Rights of the Child and show every intention of continuing to do so," he wrote in the Child Rights Progress Report.

"This is an unacceptable situation and one about which all Australians should be concerned."

The evaluation found 70,000 children received support from homelessness organisations, 43,000 lived in out-of-home care and young asylum seekers were spending an average of 457 days in detention facilities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were over-represented in out-of-home care and were 26 times more likely to be in juvenile detention.

"The present report makes it clear that these and many other deficiencies have not been remedied and in many ways the situation may have even worsened," Mr Nicholson said.

"It highlights a failure in public policy development to consider the impact on children and build preventative measures."

The report, to be released at the Australian Human Rights Commission on Friday, acknowledged governments had made steps to reduce family violence, address problems in the child protection system and improve early childhood education and care.

UNICEF Australia chief executive Adrian Graham said the report showed life was "not getting any easier" for a significant group of young people. "Australia is not the lucky country for many children," he said.

"The report is a clear reminder that Australia must place equity at the heart of our agenda for children, with the idea that no child should be left behind."

UNICEF research released in April showed Australia ranks 27th out of 35 in health equality outcomes among OECD countries and 24th out of 37 in education equality results.

The Child Rights Progress Report made wide-ranging recommendations on child protection, poverty, education, health and the criminal justice system.



Federal election 2016: Labor’s late retreat over budget fix

A spectacular Labor backflip has given the Coalition an edge in the  crucial election fight on ­budget management as Bill ­Shorten ­retreats on his longstanding ­rejection of controversial cuts and admits the need for tougher ­savings.

The Opposition Leader has backed down on cuts to family payments at a critical point in the election campaign, conceding ground to the Coalition in a battle over budget repair that has dom­inated federal politics since the global financial crisis.

The belated savings will still leave Mr Shorten at least $7 billion behind Malcolm Turnbull in the effort to balance the budget, confirming that a Labor government would post bigger deficits over the next four years and incur greater debt. Scott Morrison went on the ­attack over Labor’s "fan­tasies" as Mr Shorten tried to justify bigger deficits over four years by using less reliable 10-year forecasts to hold out the prospect of bigger savings.

In another warning sign for Mr Shorten’s campaign, Labor sources told The Weekend Australian the party was struggling in the "must-win" seats across western Sydney that will help decide if the Coalition holds on to power.

Labor is putting more resources into its own seats of Werriwa, Parramatta and Greenway, where the Coalition’s confidence is growing, while the Labor team is far from certain about taking the seat of Barton — previously considered a certain Labor win.

Sources in both the Labor and Liberal camps believe the ­Coalition will hold the seats of Reid, Lindsay and Banks, signalling the challenge for the opposition in securing the powerful swing needed to topple the government.

Labor has now given ground on several major reforms that can be traced back to the May 2014 federal budget, including changes to the Age Pension and to family tax benefits, as well as the abolition of the Schoolkids Bonus.

Tony Abbott last night told The Weekend Australian that Mr Shorten’s backflip on savings measures was evidence that Labor had engaged in "fiscal sabotage" over the past two years.

"If Labor had behaved responsibly two years ago we would be billions of dollars closer to budget repair," Mr Abbott said.

"These are good measures and should be passed in the Senate."

Labor spending on health and education will prevent Mr Shorten matching the Coalition’s ­bottom line, despite the attempt yesterday to persuade voters that Labor could be trusted to regain control of the budget after presiding over deficits when last in power.

In its biggest retreat, Labor ­accepted the need for further cuts to family tax benefits after holding out against the changes since the May 2014 budget, although it put forward an alternative way to scale back the payments. The Labor proposal would halve the Family Tax Benefit Part A annual supplement for families earning more than $100,000 a year, a hit to 137,000 households that stops short of deeper cuts under ­Coalition policy.

With the Coalition proposing a complete halt to the supplement but offering a $5 boost to the weekly payment rate, Labor claimed yesterday that a family with an ­income of $110,000 and three young children would still be $300 better off overall under a change of government.

"We’re committed to improving the bottom line of the national budget without smashing household budgets," Mr Shorten ­declared yesterday. "We will make sure that we reach balance in the same time as the government and our trajectory to improve and tackle government debt over 10 years will be a superior proposition to the government."

Both Labor and the Coalition now promise a budget surplus in 2021 but neither has delivered on past pledges, as economists warn that tougher action will be needed after the election to bring the structural deficit under control.

Labor’s new savings include $180.2m from scrapping the ­private health insurance rebate for natural therapies, $101m from increasing fines for crimes under commonwealth law, $83.5m from scaling back the New Colombo Plan to send students to Asia and $83.6m from the scrapping of an "innovation exchange" within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In a move that could spark another backlash from business, Labor will save $117.4m by scaling back the Industry Growth Centres that are part of the government’s innovation policy and aim to get researchers working more closely with companies. It will also raise $23.5m by imposing a higher fee on listed companies that file court claims in the Federal Court, ruling that bigger companies should pay 1.5 times the regular fee.

A costings fight exploded when the Treasurer dismissed Labor’s claims about the scale of its savings by arguing the tax increases and spending cuts would not be enough to cover the cost of spending decisions on schools and Medicare. "At the end of the day Bill Shorten keeps digging a hole on his spending, and the hole gets deeper and deeper," Mr Morrison said. "What they announced today doesn’t cover it, it doesn’t come close to covering it, and so the Australian people, I think, are faced with a very straightforward choice. They can vote for Labor and vote for higher deficits and higher debt, or they can support the government’s economic plan which will keep us on that positive trajectory towards a budget balance by 2021 based on the current assumptions around the parameters."

The latest budget update forecasts deficits of $84.1bn over the next four years. Labor has acknowledged its deficits will be bigger than this, but it will not reveal the final costings until the last week of the campaign. The government claimed last night Labor policies would widen the deficits over the next four years by $15.5bn.


Leftist Premier of Victoria bulldozes all opposition in order to privilege his union mates

He wants the union to have complete control over Victoria's country fire-fighters

PREMIER Daniel Andrews has brutally cut down all opposition to a union takeover of the CFA, sacking its board and forcing the resignation of Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.

In a day of drama that saw the state’s volunteer firefighters granted an emergency Supreme Court injunction to stop the government ramming through the workplace agreement:

THE CFA board was given an ­ultimatum to sign by 5pm and was then sacked, despite the ­injunction barring it from signing until June 22.

CFA chief executive Lucinda Nolan is now also facing the sack, given her steadfast refusal to support the agreement.

She and the CFA’s leaders said they were "deeply saddened" the board was canned. "CFA will continue to work with the government and the UFU to find a solution to the enterprise bargaining agreement;, however, it will not and cannot sign an agreement which is ­unlawful," the CFA said.

Deputy Premier James Merlino, who was given Ms Garrett’s ministerial job, gave the CFA until 5pm on Friday to support the deal.

When the board refused, Mr Merlino said he had lost confidence in its ability to end the dispute and moved to sack it. A new board will be appointed soon, which could then fire Ms Nolan. Mr Andrews said his Cabinet unanimously backed the "fair and balanced" agreement — even though Ms Garrett was forced to resign before Friday’s crisis meeting.

She tweeted that it had been an "extraordinary privilege" to serve as Emergency Services Minister, a role she left "with a heavy heart". The Premier claimed all Ms Garrett’s concerns were addressed, but could not explain why she had to quit.

Mr Andrews said his government had developed "safeguards" for all "outstanding matters" including the union’s veto rights, diversity issues and the "seven on the fireground" policy.

He said letters of intent and good-faith agreements would be set up between the CFA and the United Firefighters Union, with Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley to oversee the deal’s ­implementation.

"Significant ground has been given, absolute clarification has been provided," Mr Andrews said.

"That’s why I am putting this before the people of Victoria as a fair and balanced deal, and a deal that gets this done, so that we can end this bitter dispute.

"I proudly say to every Victorian, my government makes sure that more firefighters turn out to dangerous fires. If I’m criticised for that, well so be it."

But the CFA said it was unable to sign the deal. It released advice from the government’s own Crown counsel which said the deal breached equal opportunity laws and would be discriminatory.

"In addition, there remain 14 threshold issues that CFA cannot agree to, including the clauses which give the UFU 50 vetoes over CFA’s legislated responsibilities," the CFA said.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy slammed Mr Andrews as a "vengeful bully" who was "almost unfit to hold office".

He said the Premier was "smashing up the CFA" and that his safeguards for the EBA had "no weight legally".

"If they (Labor) can’t get their way, they simply sack the board, put in a patsy and start again," Mr Guy said.

Mr Andrews said he did not want to the dispute to drag into the fire season.


A mother's desperate plea "our poor baby boy is too young to be immunised."

Only "herd immunity" could have protected him -- but anti-vaxxers have largely destroyed that.  If EVERYBODY were immunized there would be no source from which a baby might catch it

Huge, deep scabs. Red, angry-looking open wounds. White, flaky skin. All clustered on the face of a sweet, 11-month-old baby.

The mother of baby Elijah Burke, Kayley Burke, has shared images of her ill little boy as a warning to other parents about what can happen if they choose not to vaccinate their kids.

"Vaccinate your kids people. The pictures below show you exactly why," Ms Burke, of Brisbane, wrote on Facebook.

"Our poor baby boy who is too young to be immunised has caught the chickenpox. It has almost been a week since they showed up. Today he was admitted to Ipswich Hospital with a secondary infection," she added.

The photos, which have now been shared more than 55,000 times on Facebook, show a clearly uncomfortable child with sores extending from the top of his forehead to the bottom of his chin. Even the poor baby’s nostrils and eyelids appear infected.

His small hands are bound tightly, presumably to prevent him from scratching at his sores.

Ms Burke and her older daughter Kahlia have also contracted the condition, but Kahlia was vaccinated so she only has a few spots.

"Kaliah face [sic] is about as bad as she has it... Thank god she is immunised," Ms Burke wrote in a follow-up comment to her Facebook post, posting a photo to prove her point.

The horrifying images of Elijah's sores have attracted countless messages of sympathy.

"My heart's breaking for you guys,"wrote one Facebook friend.

"It's just horrible watching their tiny helpless bodies lying there and not been able to do anything about it."

"Holy sh** Kayley! This has gotten SO much worse! Wishing you guys a speedy recovery," wrote another.

Fortunately, Elijah has now been discharged from hospital, and now just needs to remain on antibiotics for a few more days.

"We are able to get a few smiles and a little giggle out of him which is amazing," Ms Burke wrote, sharing a photo of her little boy in a car seat, on his way home.  "Thank you everyone for your well wishes and thoughts, it has definitely been appreciated."

What is chickenpox, anyway?

Chickenpox, or Varicella, is a highly contagious infection caused by a member of the herpes group of viruses, according to the Department of Health.

While it's usually a mild disease that lasts a short time in healthy children, it can cause serious or even fatal complications in people of any age.

The highly contagious disease is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with people who are infected, according to the Department of Health.

"Vaccination has been highly effective in reducing varicella hospitalisations among young children in Australia," the department's website states. "Vaccination of children against chickenpox not only prevents serious disease in childhood, but also ensures immunity in adolescence and adulthood, when complications from the disease can have severe outcomes."


Australians must back company tax cuts to help Australia get ahead

This election, politics has obscured and distorted the facts that the community needs to know to properly appreciate the deep benefits we all gain from a strong businesses environment, including a more competitive business tax system.

Australia faces considerable challenges over the coming decades. These include our budgetary position, our ageing population, greater globalisation and technological changes.

Against this backdrop, we must take every opportunity to maintain, and indeed improve, on our high living standards – including the capacity to create better, higher paid jobs, and to fund high-quality health, education and other social services.

The simple reality is that strong businesses are critical to this.

Some of the discussion about business this election seems to assume that the business sector is somehow separate from the broader community. But the reality is that businesses – small, medium and large – are an integral part of the community too. Businesses employ people in the community, they provide the goods and services that the community wants, and they are a very real part of the communities in which they operate. It is business that many in the community depend on for their incomes, their way of life, and their futures.

Australian private businesses employ 80 per cent of all workers – around 10 million people. Almost five million Australians have investments in the share market and each Australian on average holds $23,000 in domestic equity through their membership of superannuation funds.

Businesses depend on each other too. There is around $440 billion in economic activity between businesses of all sizes in Australia each year. If you hold back one section of the business community you are effectively holding every business back.

Today our economy is struggling through a difficult transition. Non-mining business investment as a share of GDP is at a 50-year low. Productivity growth is weak. Global markets remain volatile.

Tradition buckles

Amid the economic uncertainty, the world in which all of our businesses are operating in is changing. Global supply chains where a product is designed and made in a dozen different countries are putting pressure on traditional business models. Technology is changing the way business is done. Capital and labour are increasingly mobile – they seek out the most competitive environment.

The reality is that in the modern global economy almost everything is tradeable on a world stage. A small business anywhere in the world can compete for business in Australia using the internet. Larger businesses with traditional stores are having to invest heavily in online trading and back-end logistics to stay competitive and keep up with what consumers of today want.

But our country does have breathtaking opportunities. More than half the world's population live in the neighbouring region to our north and north-west. Income growth in these countries is strong and is set to continue and with it demand for a range of goods and services is escalating. Australians and Australia's industries can participate in this historic "rise of the Asian middle class", but we need to ensure we are fit for purpose.

As always, success is not assured. Rather, to be successful as a country, our businesses and our workforce need to be internationally competitive and innovative with the capability and flexibility to respond to these challenges and these opportunities.

Standing still is not an option, because other countries are taking steps to rise to their own challenges and they are eyeing the same opportunities. We need to take the necessary steps to incentivise risk-taking and entrepreneurship and encourage greater investment, innovation and job creation in Australia.

It means taking action across a number of policy fronts – to enable agile workplaces of the future, to create a globally competitive tax system, to ensure regulation isn't holding back productivity and innovation. But tax settings are critical, and they are a controllable factor we can change now.

So let's look at some facts around why improving the competitiveness of our business tax arrangements is important.

The net benefits of more competitive business taxes are permanent and significant

Some have argued that the benefits of proposed company tax cuts do not justify the estimated 10-year revenue cost of $50 billion. They are effectively comparing apples and oranges.

First, they compare a cumulative ten-year cost with just one year of benefits. Second, they compare net benefits with gross revenue costs, which is not meaningful.

It is important to remember that Treasury's estimated benefit of 1 per cent of GDP (equivalent to $16 billion in today's economy) already includes the cost of a fully funded tax cut, as does the extra $4 billion of government revenue that flows from a bigger economy.

Moreover, once it kicks in it is a permanent uplift – year in, year out, GDP will be 1 per cent higher than otherwise. So, when the economy reaches $2 trillion in the future, the benefit is $20 billion in that year. And when it is $2.1 trillion, the economy's $21 billion bigger than otherwise. These gains will continue to accumulate.

There are also a range of other benefits including the technology, innovation and new ideas that come with new investment which are not captured in these estimates, but could be significant. History also shows that when business taxes have been lowered to be more competitive with other countries, Australia's corporate tax revenue as a proportion of GDP has actually grown over time due to the strong performance of Australian businesses.

In this context, a $50 billion tax switch is an investment in making Australia more competitive.

One of Australia's most successful reforms, National Competition Policy, is estimated to have delivered an extra $40 billion of economic benefit each and every year. This took a decade of comprehensive microeconomic reforms across federal and state governments, covering close to 1800 pieces of legislation. Against this benchmark, more competitive business taxes are simpler to implement and deliver a relatively big bang for the buck.

There have also been claims that our system dividend imputation confines the benefits to foreign shareholders. But this ignores the increased incentive to retain profits and invest in domestic companies. And the simple reality is that new investment – whether it comes from domestic or foreign sources – means a bigger business, newer machinery, better technology and more productive Australian enterprises. This provides the potential for stronger capital growth and higher dividends for domestic investors in the future.

The benefits of lower business taxes come from higher investment

The benefit of more competitive business taxes will come from businesses making decisions to invest more. We are confident of this from the thousands of businesses that our groups collectively represent.

Businesses invest when the expected rate of return from a new investment – whether that is buying new technology, building a mine or a manufacturing facility – adequately compensates investors for their capital and the risks involved.

Company taxes increase the required rate of return for investors to receive an adequate return after tax. The rate of return investors demand is largely set by returns available in global capital markets. If companies do not deliver competitive returns to investors, investors will quite simply put their money somewhere else. Looking at tax alone, we know that other countries present a much more competitive offering than Australia – the current average of competitors on our doorstop in Asia is 23 per cent compared to our 30 per cent.

For investors requiring a 10 per cent return on an equity investment, a company tax rate of 30 per cent would mean that a new project would have to deliver a pre-tax return of around 14 per cent. A 25 per cent tax would reduce this pre-tax threshold to about 13 per cent. Investment decisions are made at the margin and this will be enough to ensure that some investments that would not otherwise go ahead, will go ahead. This is why Treasury's modelling suggests you get a 2.6 per cent boost to investment over time.

Increased business investment lifts real wages

Businesses generally invest for one or more of three reasons – to expand existing operations, create new operations or to introduce new technology or equipment.

The first two will often involve hiring additional workers and depending on labour market conditions higher wages. The latter may involve new jobs but is more likely to involve the prospect of higher wages for existing staff as their skills combine with new technology to perform tasks more efficiently or to develop better products and services demanded by consumers. As they become more productive, they are paid more.

The Treasury analysis of a cut in the company tax rate to 25 per cent finds that real wages increase by 1.2 per cent (the equivalent of $8.5 billion), or the equivalent of adding 100,000 full-time jobs paying average wages to the economy.

Our recent experience with the resources boom is a fairly fresh reminder for all Australians that investment translates into jobs – the unemployment rate in 2008 was just 4 per cent. We also know that the Britain have cut their rate from 28 per cent to 20 per cent since 2010 among a range of reforms and they appear to be reaping the rewards – a record of inward investment projects last year creating almost 85,000 new jobs.

More competitive business taxes boost national incomes

Treasury and Independent Economics find a positive boost to national incomes, so what of the claim that despite increasing GDP and wages, reducing business taxes would actually detract from national incomes?

As it turns out this claim rests on an implausible assumption that investors will continue forever to accept lower after-tax returns from investing in Australia, rather than directing their investment to more competitive countries. From the perspective of our members who range from SMEs to large multinationals that are at the coalface of an intensely competitive global economy, this is a most unrealistic assumption.

Foreign tax arrangements don't undermine benefits from lower Australian business taxes

There have been suggestions that due to the United States' international tax laws, a reduced rate in Australia will simply see more top-up tax paid by Australian subsidiaries of US companies to the Internal Revenue Service in the US, delivering a revenue windfall for the US Government.

This analysis neglects the fact that the US only levies top-up taxes when Australian subsidiaries of US companies pay out profits as dividends, yet in practice much of the profit of these subsidiaries is retained right here in Australia, deferring tax payable in the US. This is why US companies will want to keep investing here with a lower company tax rate.

Is there a better alternative?

The criticisms levelled at proposed tax reforms do not seriously challenge the potential gains to be had, nor do they provide alternatives to address the challenges confronting our economy.

Those criticising policies to create a more competitive business environment need to answer how will we lift non-mining investment from its 50-year low, how will we fix the budget deficit without imposing a greater tax burden or relying on punitive spending cuts, and how will we support higher wages so our standard of living keeps pace with the world.

The case for a more competitive business tax rate to boost investment, growth and jobs stacks up on paper and in practice.

The business community is united that a strong business environment including more competitive business taxes are essential for Australia's future. Understanding that we are a community that prospers based on the strength of every business within the community, and on the relationships between businesses of all sizes is important.

Together, with the government and the community each doing its part, we can continue to ensure Australia's economy and the way of life of its people are the envy of the world.


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

10 June, 2016

Greens behind Sydney beach disaster

THESE are the pictures that have come back to haunt opponents to northern beaches sea defences. Hundreds of protesters can be seen lining up in 2002 to prevent the building of a mooted sea wall in Collaroy.

The same stretch in fact, where $20m of property could be bulldozed.

Emergency crews and volunteers are hastily trying to protect waterfront homes from collapsing with rocks and sandbags.

Last night more than 500 people worked to keep the sea at bay after foundations were undermined by a wild weekend of storms.

The sea wall was never built after the protests.  Residents have been evacuated and homes taken off the real estate market but it could all have been avoided.

Now the council is having to dip into emergency funding to build a wall, and the homeowners will also be asked to fork out.

The Line in the Sand rally was organised by Surfrider Foundation Northern beaches boss Brendan Donohoe who stood in front of crowds of anti-development and surf-loving activists telling them sea walls would “actively destroy” the beaches instead of protecting them.

The protest was backed by the growing greens movement at the time and successfully pressured the then Warringah Council to knock back the protective walls. “Sea walls do nothing to ensure the ongoing conservation of the beach in front of them,” Mr Donohoe told crowds.

Surfers also complained the sea wall would ruin their perfect waves.

The newly amalgamated Northern Beaches Council today refused to admit they had made a mistake by pandering to a few heated protesters but confirmed a wall would be built at any cost.

Further up Collaroy Beach developer Phil Franks “went broke” fighting Warringah Council to keep a seawall outside his old home that he believes saved it this week.

He built it in 1997 following a storm but it was unapproved, so council sought a court order for its demolition. He fought and won, with the Land and Environment Court dismissing the council’s application to have it demolished.


Safe Schools debate cold shoulders parents

A sexual-health academic whose research helped inform Safe Schools has dismissed parental concerns over its content, blaming a “hate campaign” by The Aus­tralian for controversy around the program.

As La Trobe University grapples with restoring the reputation of the program, emeritus professor Anne Mitchell has defended Safe Schools Coalition Victoria co-founder Roz Ward, who returned to work on Monday following a brief suspension, claiming her Marxist links were “an absolute gift” to detractors.

At a Safe Schools event at Melbourne’s RMIT university a fortnight ago, the retired academic was billed to speak on her research, but spent significant time attacking those who criticised the program for its promotion of gender ideology and sexualised content.

“These are the strategies that are effective all the time,” Professor Mitchell said, discussing a slide titled “The anatomy of an Oz Hate Campaign” attributed to a 2014 report by journalism academ­ics Andrew Dodd and ­Matthew Ricketson, both former journalists at The Australian.

“It gets to the anti-communist rhetoric; Roz Ward was a gift to that, an absolute gift. They played that mercilessly,” she said. According to a leaked recording from the event, Professor Mitchell criticised the “depravity narrative” of the purported hate campaign, pointing to articles that revealed resources about penis tucking and breast binding — practices adopted by some transgender people — were being made available to students.

“You know what’s going to happen to the world if that goes on, especially in primary schools,” she said, prompting laughter from the audience. “Distortion is just so common in those articles; children as young as five may be taught that gender is not fixed or may be taught about homosexual sex.

“Deliberate distortion that frightens people.”

Professor Mitchell declined to comment yesterday, but a La Trobe spokesman said she had been awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2014 for her sexual-health research and policy development in support of marginalised communities. Some of that ­research has come under scrutiny recently.

Safe Schools materials cite the fifth National Survey of Secondary Students and Sexual Health, co-authored by Professor Mitchell, for its repeated claim that 10 per cent of people are same-sex-attracted. However, this is not backed up by findings of the study, which relied heavily on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex ­networks to recruit trial subjects.

It is not the first time an assoc­iate of Safe Schools has dismissed concerns about the program.

As The Australian reported in March, Ms Ward has advised principals to say “tough luck” to parents who disapproved of the program, while her colleague Joel Radcliffe said “parents don’t have the power to shut this down”.

Professor Mitchell’s strident defence took place on May 26, ­several months after the federal government ordered an overhaul of the taxpayer-funded program after a review deemed some parts inappropriate for young students.

It also came the night before La Trobe announced an investi­gation into Ms Ward after she denounced the Australian flag as racist in a Facebook post.

Despite dropping the investi­gation last week amid legal pressure, La Trobe vice-chancellor John Dewar said Ms Ward’s conduct had imperilled the program and the research institution.


Islamic school cops $150,000 fine for illegal employment practices

One of Australia's top Islamic schools has been hit with heavy penalties of more than $150,000 after hiring teachers on illegal contracts and later tampering with evidence to cover up the wrongdoing.

The Australian International Academy of Education – formerly King Khalid College – was found to have violated workplace law by employing more than a dozen teachers on fixed-term contracts in 2012.

Salah Salman, the school's director-general and a member of the Order of Australia, was also condemned and personally penalised $2,200 for obstructing union officials seeking to inspect the teachers' contracts.

Imposed in the Federal Court on Wednesday, the fines are believed to be among the largest penalties ever ordered against a school in Australia.  Justice Christopher Jessup described the school's actions as "calculated deception".

Based in Melbourne, the academy was Australia's first Islamic education provider when it opened in Sydney Road, Coburg, in 1983. It now has campuses in Coburg, Coburg North and Caroline Springs, and in Sydney and Dubai.

The Federal Court upheld the Independent Education Union's claim that 13 teachers at the academy's Coburg campus were illegally hired on fixed-term contracts, which can only be used to plug gaps when teachers take extended absences from classroom duties.

The union said the school was entitled to hire just three teachers on fixed-term contracts under the teachers' award in 2012.

And when union officials went to inspect the school's files, Mr Salman instructed his personal assistant to change teachers' employment agreements, altering their status from replacement staff to full-time employees, the court heard.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Daniel Victory said the case was a "warning signal" for any schools misusing fixed-term employment contracts.  "The misuse of fixed-term contracts is not just bad for teachers and students; this case shows that it can also lead to significant penalties for schools," he said.

"This case also highlights the importance of unions, as without the tireless work of the union, these contraventions may never have come to light."

Independent Education Union general secretary Deb James said the court's ruling was significant, and the union would be turning its attention to "other schools and colleges that have made a habit of putting people on fixed-term contracts".

"Fixed-term contracts make it hard for teachers to plan and can negatively affect their teaching," she said.

"Teachers want to concentrate on their students, not whether they will have a job the next year."


Anti-Muslim sentiment strong and widespread in Australian army, study shows

Anti-Muslim sentiment is “strong” and “probably quite widespread” among Australian defence force members and was higher among those who had undergone cultural sensitivity training, according to research commissioned by the army.

Soldiers from four special operations units based at Holsworthy army base were asked whether they believed “the Muslim religion promotes violence and terrorism”.

Of the 182 people who took part, an estimated 80% agreed with the sentiment, according to lead researcher Charles Miller from the Australian National University.

The survey was conducted as a “list experiment” to grant anonymity to the participants and reduce concerns that agreeing with the statement might invite repercussions.

“This study has found strong evidence that many members of the ADF’s elite units simply do not buy the official line presented by Western leaders from George W Bush on that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’,” Miller concluded.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment is strong at least among some of the elements of the ADF at the forefront of deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Miller estimated that the proportion of soldiers who had undergone cultural sensitivity training and agreed that Islam promoted violence was about 91%.

“The corresponding figure for those who have not had cultural sensitivity training is a mere 17%,” he wrote in a paper published in the autumn edition of the Australian Army Journal (pdf).

But he cautioned against declaring the one-day cultural sensitivity training a failure, noting that only soldiers who were deployed to the battlefield underwent the course. “It could simply be that this [positive] effect is being comprehensively drowned out either by the effects of overseas deployment or by whichever factors caused individuals to join units which would be deployed overseas in the first place,” Miller said.

Special operations units at Holsworthy had “borne a heavy share of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan”, he noted.

He suggested “a higher ‘dose’ of the training” could improve perceptions of Islam among soldiers, but said further research was needed to make any conclusions about the effectiveness of the sensitivity course.

The ADF is engaged in currently engaged in official efforts to increase minority and female numbers among enlisted people.

The chief of army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, wrote an introduction to the paper noting it would “challenge your opinion of the way in which our army conducts and manages cultural sensitivity training. And challenge is a good thing.”

“We do not all have to agree. Both the evaluation board of the Australian Army Journal, which reviews these articles, and my staff, have a number of opposing views on this article’s content and its reflection on the lived experience of army values,” he wrote.

“That said, discussion on sensitive matters, supported by sound research and rigorous analysis, helps position army to understand difficult problems and deal with them appropriately.”


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

9 June, 2016

Solar Versus Nuclear

Solar energy might be free, but harvesting it is very costly, both in dollar terms and on the environment, writes Geoff Russell.

I’d be guessing that large screen TVs in the pubs around Mt Isa, Broken Hill and the Northern Territory’s McArthur River mine are hard wired to show nothing but Fox Sports, but they really should have been tuned to the ABC back in November last year for Kitchen Cabinet.

They’d have been a cheerin’ and a hollerin’ over their beers as Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale stood before the altar of his large bank of lead acid batteries and announced with messianic fervour, “This is the future!”

Sunshine may be considered a renewable energy source but the resources needed to harvest it are the same as for any other energy source; they involve land, mines, tailings dams, metals, smelting, concrete, trucks, bulldozers; the whole gamut.

But because sunshine and wind are both intermittent and unpredictable, it’s best to squirrel away what you harvest; which means more mines, smelting, tailings dams, trucks and the like.

Focusing on the renewability of the sunshine and ignoring the harvesting infrastructure is like focusing on the oh-so-low-low price of a colour printer, while ignoring its $500-a-refill toxic toner cartridges.

Aboriginal people living around the McArthur River zinc, lead and silver mine are at the pointy end of battery production, and may not share Di Natale’s enthusiasm.

The McArthur River mine has been getting some worrying news coverage lately. Threatening disaster with fires and (claims of) tailing dam leaks, and consequently threatened with closure.

A tailings dam is where miners put all the stuff that nobody will pay them for after extracting the stuff they reckon they can sell from whatever they dig out of their bloody big holes. The extraction process generally involves water, hence the term “dam”. Typically, tailings dams contain significant amounts of material that is toxic and dangerous, forever.

As the crow flies, the McArthur River mine is about 90 km from the coast in the Northern Territory.....

But let’s get back to the mine itself. Who the hell needs zinc, lead and silver anyway?

Zinc mines have always been important because zinc is incredibly widely used. About half of the world’s zinc is used in galvanising iron, but the rest is used in everything from brass to electrical solder to vitamin pills.

Zinc mines are particularly hot property at the moment because of interest in bloody big batteries to spackle over the gaping holes in energy output from solar panels and wind farms.

There is a major battle between zinc and lithium technologies, and if zinc were to win that battle, then we’d need more mines like McArthur River, Mt Isa and Broken Hill.

Zinc currently has an edge because it’s cheaper… partly because its many uses have driven the construction of big mines… like McArthur River.

Will zinc stay cheap? Probably not, it’s on the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) endangered chemical list. But the thing about lithium batteries is that the ones being touted for cars and home backup systems have (by weight) eight times more cobalt than lithium. And the thing about cobalt is that the biggest producer on the planet is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces fully 50 percent of current world production.

Here’s a picture of some children mining cobalt in DR Congo for the green big battery future. Amnesty International released a report on these horrors back in January this year.

After zinc, lead is the second major product of the McArthur River mine. Globally we use about 10.6 million tonnes of lead annually, with about 5 million coming from mines and the rest coming from recycling.

It’s used in everything from paints to shotgun pellets, but about 85 percent of global lead production is used in batteries; like those used in Richard Di Natale’s battery room.

While zinc and lithium are fighting for the high-end market with superior energy density, lead will always be a winner in the battery wars because it is cheaper than both. But if you want a serious battery backup system, then you typically need a spare room for what ends up as a really large battery set.

Imagine if all the households on the planet who have a car also emulated Di Natale’s PV system with battery backup. Instead of one standard car battery, each household would have a dozen batteries of more than double the size.

Can enough lead deposits be found and developed to meet such a rise in demand? Lead isn’t on the ACS endangered list but it is listed as “Limited Availability… Future risk to supply”. The same is true of cobalt and nickel, the other key battery components.

So a large expansion of lead or any other battery technology may not be trivial. But even assuming you can find and extract more lead, building clean smelting and recycling processes is challenging. Even rich countries like Australia have persisted with poor processes resulting in children at Port Pirie in South Australia having elevated blood lead levels for decades.

And even if the proposed Nyrstar redevelopment at Port Pirie finally results in cleaner processes, lead is still smelted and processed in filthy conditions and poisoning children in many countries; one study estimated that 15 percent of Mexican children have lost 5 IQ points due to lead poisoning.

So while the Greens are worried about nuclear waste – which has never hurt anybody – their leader spruiks an industry of monumental toxicity.

The global nuclear industry has been looking after its waste safely for decades. Not so the lead industry, and lead doesn’t have a half life… it’s toxic forever.

Mining isn’t something anybody should undertake lightly. You want to maximise the social value while minimising the area you trash in the process. So let’s run some Ranger numbers.

How much electricity has been generated during the last decade from Ranger’s uranium?

It takes about 280 tonnes of uranium to power a South Korean APR1400 reactor. So Ranger’s output over the past decade could supply about 13.45 of these reactors annually.

How much electricity would that supply? About 148 terawatt hours annually; which is about 60 percent of Australia’s total electricity demand.

Add in the Olympic Dam uranium, and we could easily power Australia from these two mines if we had the reactors.

Let’s compare this to a solar and battery alternative. Australia’s largest solar farm is at Nyngan. It covers 250 hectares and generates 230 gigawatt hours per year.

These 13.45 APR1400s would generate as much electricity annually as 637 Nyngans, covering 159,250 hectares… without needing any batteries. This is like 81,000 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

Join them end-to-end and you have a 41-lane highway stretching from Sydney to Perth … and back to Sydney … and back to Perth and then some.

But what if we didn’t use lead, zinc or lithium to store the electricity from all those Nyngans? How about molten salt storage?

Plenty of people talk about molten salt storage, but when the public hear about it, almost everybody imagines scraping a little off the top of Lake Eyre and putting it in a few trucks. Not quite.

The salt used is a mix of sodium and potassium nitrate, produced in chemical plants using stuff that is first mined and then transformed.

Nonetheless, this kind of salt storage is well understood, but only ever been used in small powerplants.

Why? It’s easy to calculate the amount of salt needed to provide 12 hours of storage for 637 Nyngans; it comes to about 22 million tonnes.

The current global production of potassium nitrate is about 1.4 million tonnes, and that of sodium nitrate is similar.

So first find sites for a very large number of chemical factories, do an EIS for each one, survive local objections, or better still, build them in some developing country with more friendly tax laws and lower environmental standards, then make your 22 million tonnes and deliver them to where you want them in half a million B-double truck loads.

Like I said, sunshine might be free, but harvesting it is a bugger and storing it is even worse.

The environmental costs of a Ranger sized uranium mine are certainly significant, but tiny compared to the solar + battery alternative. And it just keeps getting better the more you understand about nuclear reactor technology.

The Chinese expect their ‘fast reactors’ to dominate the market in about 15 years time. With these reactors, you can multiply the electricity generated with a tonne of uranium by a factor of about 100. Which is exactly what the Chinese need, because they don’t have much uranium.

So what’s on the horizon for solar and batteries? Exactly the same snail pace development with tiny incremental improvements of an already resource hungry technology.


Federal election 2016: throwing cash at schools is not the answer

A question that has divided philosophers and psychologists for centuries — what makes children turn out as they do? — has finally been answered with the release of Labor’s education policy.

It seems Descartes, Locke and co were barking up the wrong tree; the answer is not nature or nurture but the government.

No longer will children have to “choose their parents wisely,” as Bertrand Russell once advised. Under the fully funded Gonski plan, we are told, every child in every school will have the same chance of succeeding.

“We want to make sure,” Bill Shorten explained, “that children, no matter what their background, no matter what their postcode, whether or not they live in the suburbs and the cities, in country towns or along our coast, whether or not they go to a government school or a Catholic school, a private school, get every chance.”

Much as alchemists once dreamed of turning base metal into gold, so today’s social policy planners are bewitched by the ­notion that, with enough government money, every child can be made to sparkle.

Never mind the trail of failed experiments, abandoned fads or prodigious amounts of public money already spent. It wasn’t the frailties of the program that let us down, apparently, but mean-spirited governments blind to the needs of the weary and dispossessed.

The government’s job used to stop with the provision of universal education; what students and parents did with it was entirely up to them. After four decades of progressive social thinking, culminating in the Gonski review, the government’s task has expanded; it must intervene to break the supposed causal link between educational accomplishment and familial, social and economic background.

The Gonski review should have challenged the assumption that schools are cost-effective instruments for fixing the complex ills of society.

Instead, it took it as granted, which seems absurd to anybody grounded in the real world. Take, for example, the plight of an infant raised in a welfare-fed cesspit by adults so drug-addled that they are incapable of telling the time themselves, let alone passing that skill on to their children. Suppose a generous Labor government doubles the budget of the local school which the little mite fitfully ­attends. How much does that change the kid’s prospects? Probably very little, if at all.

The presence of a man like ­Andrew Leigh on Labor’s frontbench makes it all the more surprising that it has fallen — hook, line and sinker — for the funding fallacy. Leigh was the lead author of a report for Treasury’s Social Policy Division called “How much of the variation in literacy and numeracy can be explained by school performance?”

The answer, Leigh concluded, was about 30 per cent. The other 70 per cent was explained by factors outside the school’s control. A comparison with other studies suggests Leigh may have been over-estimating the influence of schooling — an OECD study for example suggests 20 per cent — but even so, the implications for government are clear.

“The more that children’s academic achievement is determined in the home, the less chance that policies to improve schools’ performance will have a transformative impact on the life chances of disadvantaged students,” wrote Leigh.

“At the extreme, if socio-economic status entirely explains academic performance, it is pointless to think about reforming schools in order to raise educational outcomes.”

Absent from Leigh’s pre-Gonski analysis is any discussion about money. To the extent to which schools make a difference, Leigh suggests that the ability of the principal and the quality of the teachers are likely to make the biggest difference. Most objective studies arrive at the same conclusion; it is not the amount of money allocated to schools that matters but how it is spent.

In the middle of the election-charged debate about school funding comes a subversive intervention by the ABC that debunks Gonski’s assumption that it is just a question of funding. Last week the public broadcaster launched the first episode of Revolution School, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about a state secondary school in a low socio-economic area on the outer fringe of Melbourne that has managed to turn its lacklustre performance around.

It was apparent from the first scene that Kambyra College was well resourced; all children had access to a laptop and the classrooms were in reasonable repair. The teachers seemed motivated, dedicated and intelligent if a little battle-worn from the daily challenge of keeping order. Mr Wallis’ Year 10 English class appeared particularly brutal.

Yet in the course of the 58-minute episode, no one raised the issue of money.

As John Hattie, the expert who supervised Kambyra’s transformation, explained, when it comes to improving education, Australians are arguing about the wrong thing.

Class sizes or the difference between private and public education are largely immaterial.

“If you take students of the same kind of prior ability, the same kind of initial ability, here in Australia it virtually doesn’t matter what school you go to.

“Schools don’t make much difference — it’s the teachers.’’

Labor’s Gonski-inspired plan to pump another $37 billion into schools is looking increasingly reckless, as evidenced not just by Revolution School but the shadow assistant treasurer’s 2008 report.

It is less a rational policy response than an act of fiscal exhibition designed to show that Labor cares. As Leigh’s research demonstrates, schools cannot press the reset button for every kid that enters their gates, no matter how much money we throw at them.

With three episodes still to go, Revolution School is looking like the most uplifting thing the ABC has commissioned since Choir of Hard Knocks. Kambyra’s principal, Michael Muscat, would surely be an early favourite for Australian of the Year, had the process not been so corrupted.

While the teaching unions plaster the country with Gonski banners backing Labor, Muscat and his staff in an undistinguished outer Melbourne suburb are ­applying themselves to the harder task of changing the world one child at a time.


If you don't care about the details, why would they?
Simon Cowan

What do the Shorten / Turnbull leaders' debate, Julie Bishop's stumbles on transition to retirement and Sarah Hanson-Young's train wreck on superannuation have to do with each other? 

Answer: they are all boring.

Partial credit only for giving that response. The full answer is they are all largely about policy details, while the fact that the public sees policy as boring is problematic, not funny.

And the Sarah Hanson-Young interview wasn't boring, especially the part where the host offered to get her policy advisor in, instead of her, because at least they knew what they were talking about. If only minor parties like the Greens were held to account more often.

The major parties are, at least on occasion, held to account. One such occasion was the leaders' debate, where journalists asked probing questions like whether Labor actually had an upper limit on how high the tax to GDP ratio would rise (which Shorten couldn't answer) and whether either party had a plan to actually get people off Manus and Nauru (which they didn't).

The fact that both leaders largely stuck to scripted answers that avoided the substantive issues is symptomatic of a broader political malaise.

The politicians know they don't need to be across the detail because most of the electorate isn't listening anyway -- and the bulk of those who do listen only care about what's in it for themselves. And let's not overlook the twitter partisan armies, ready to repeat whatever inconsistent, inane nonsense their side serves up as gospel.

That's why Q&A with the leaders attracts a million people and the debate only attracted half as many viewers as the third most-popular reality show of the night.

The policy detail should matter. It should matter more than the colour of Malcolm's tie or Shorten's zingers. It should matter much more than Richard Di Natalie's turtleneck or whether David Leyonhjelm really is the Bond villain, Blofeld.

Yet it will only matter to politicians if it matters to voters, and right now it is clear that it doesn't. It's just too boring.


Free debate more practised on the Right

Jeremy Sammut

There is a debate about public funding of literary journals, and other forms of middle-class cultural welfare such as the opera and the symphony.

But that debate is separate to whether the taxpayer's money that does subsidise the arts and letters is distributed without political bias.

I've been vocal about the Australia Council's decision to de-fund Quadrant magazine.

The Left loves to pay lip service to the ideals of diversity and respect for free inquiry.  But I have found that ideals are more often genuinely practised on the Right.

Ten years ago, Quadrant published an article by me on the White Australia Policy, which was critical of aspects of the book that Keith Windschuttle had written on the subject, and which prompted a typically combative response from him in a subsequent edition.

In the decade since, Quadrant, under Windschuttle's editorship and others, has published a number of articles by me on a range of topics. I can't help wondering if someone who had criticised the work of Robert Manne, say, would get as good a run in The Monthly?

I think the reason the Right tolerates different answers to the same questions without recriminations, and doesn't impose a political bar on those who differ, is that it is more interested in doing good, rather than seeming good by supporting the 'right' causes.

A good example of this may be my critical review in the June edition of Quadrant of Stan Grant's new book, Talking to My Country ­ -- a book universally acclaimed by the Left.

Grant's book argues that entrenched Indigenous disadvantage continues to persist in Australia due to the failure to address the legacy of racism dating back to the original sins of colonisation.

The gist of my response is that Grant has got his history the wrong way round. The major cause of the worst Indigenous disadvantage has been the impact of the policies of Aboriginal Self-Determination, which were implemented in the 1970s to address the historic wrongs of dispossession.

If we take heed of Grant's book, we will believe -- as many on the Left argue -- that the answers to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage lie in continuing to reckon with history by undertaking symbolic Reconciliation via the Recognition and Treaty movements.

To the contrary, the real answers lie in practical Reconciliation -- as has been the central message of the revisionist literature that has reshaped the Indigenous debate over the last 20 years, much of which has been published in Quadrant.


Another police goon

Cop pulled his gun and screamed abuse at a driver clocked at 16km/h over the limit on a remote highway.  Has previous complaints against him   

A police officer who is facing criminal charges after being caught on film swearing at and pulling his gun on a speeding motorist is petitioning to have his pay reinstated.

Senior Constable Stephen Flanagan was charged with assault and deprivation of liberty after the Ethical Standards Command reviewed footage of him pulling over a speeding driver on the Landsborough Highway in Longreach, Central West Queensland, last May, the ABC reported.

The footage - which shows Flanagan handcuffing, verbally abusing and pointing a gun at a motorist he caught doing 126 kilometres per hour in a 110 zone - was tendered to the Supreme Court by the Police Commissioner's office after he applied to have his pay reinstated during his suspension.

The suspended officer can be heard swearing as he drives up beside the speeding ute, using his horn instead of his siren to indicate to the driver that he needed to pull over.

Once the car comes to a stop on the side of the outback road, Snr Cst Flanagan pulls his weapon and points it at the driver while demanding: 'Get out of your f*****g car right now.' 

He then calls the motorist names and swears as the driver's partner secretly films him from the passenger seat.

'You came past me - I'm bloody beeping the horn up the side to point you over and you still keep driving,' he said in the footage obtained by The ABC.  'You didn't see me? Right, where's your licence d**khead?'

Flanagan told the court he thought he had used his sirens during the pursuit and initially believed the vehicle was stolen, which is why he handcuffed the driver as he checked his registration.

But, according to the Courier Mail, investigators told the court Flanagan has a 'concerning and consistent complaint history involving excessive force when interacting with members of the community'

It was argued he had treated a motorist unfairly on another occasion in 2013, with footage of him tossing a Gold Coast motorist's keys on the road also tendered to the court. 

He told the motorist he was driving like 'an absolute c***' before saying he would sit in court, laugh and drink coffee while he was convicted.

Flanagan, who has been a police officer for over 25 years, was stood down over the 2013 incident after it was found he failed to treat the driver with dignity and respect, according to the ABC.

The Supreme Court is yet to make a decision on Flanagan's pay, while he will face the criminal charges later this week. 


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

8 June, 2016

Climate change's role in Eastern Australia's recent big storms

Acacia Pepler seems to be a dear little thing and she definitely has real talent as an academic. She has written a long and careful article below on how likely it is that Australia's recent big storms were influenced by climate change:  An inevitable question.  And she does have extensive knowledge of East coast weather.  But her answer to the question could be accurately summarized in just two words: "Nobody knows".  To stretch that out into a long article is real talent.  She will go far in academe

Australia's east coast is recovering from a weekend of wild winds, waves and flooding, caused by a weather pattern known as an east coast low. Tragically, several people have died in flooding.

Parts of New South Wales have received more than 400mm of rain since Friday morning.  Some places such as Canberra and Forster recorded their wettest June day on record.  Waves have also caused severe coastal erosion and damaged property.

East coast lows are a type of low-pressure system or cyclone that occur on the Australian east coast. They are not uncommon, with about seven to eight lows a year causing widespread rainfall along the east coast, particularly during late autumn and winter.  An east coast low in April last year caused similar damage.

But whenever they happen, they raise the question: did climate change play a role?

Climate models suggest the cyclones that move through the global mid-latitudes — around 30 to 50 degrees S — are moving south.  This is contributing to long-term declines in winter rainfall in south-western Australia and parts of southeast Australia.

These models also suggest the atmospheric conditions that help east coast lows form could decline by between 25 per cent and 40 per cent by the end of the century.

In recent work, my colleagues and I looked even more closely at how climate change will affect individual east coast lows. Our results also found east coast lows are expected to become less frequent during the cool months May to October, which is when they currently happen most often.

But there is no clear picture of what will happen during the warm season. Some models even suggest east coast lows may become more frequent in the warmer months. And increases are most likely for lows right next to the east coast — just the ones that have the biggest impacts where people live.

What about the big ones? The results in the studies I talked about above are for all low-pressure systems near the coast — about 22 per year, on average.

But it is the really severe ones that people want to know about, like the current event, or the storm that grounded tanker Pasha Bulker in Newcastle in June 2007. These storms are much rarer, which makes it harder to figure out what will happen in the future.

Most of the models we looked at had no significant change projected in the intensity of the most severe east coast low each year.

Warming oceans provide more moisture, so intense rainfall is expected to increase by about 7 per cent for each degree of global warming.

East coast lows are no different; even during the winter, when east coast lows are expected to become less frequent, the frequency of east coast lows with heavy rain is likely to increase.

Finally, even though there may be fewer east coast lows, they are occurring in an environment with higher sea levels.

This means many more properties are vulnerable to storm surges and the impact of a given storm surge is that much worse.

Was it climate change?

While the frequency of cool-season east coast lows looks likely to decrease in the future, changes in the big ones are a lot less certain.

However, east coast lows are very variable in frequency and hard to predict.

So far, there has not been any clear trend in the past 50 years, although east coast lows may have been more frequent in the past.

As for extreme rainfall, studies have found little influence of climate change on Australian extreme rainfall so far.

Climate variability, such as El Nino, currently plays a much larger role.

This does not mean climate change is having no effect; it just means it is hard to tell what impact a warming world is having at this stage.

So did climate change cause this weekend's storms? No — these events, including intense ones, often occur at this time of year.

But it is harder to rule out climate change having any influence at all.

For instance, what is the impact of higher sea levels on storm surges? And how much have record-warm sea temperatures contributed to rainfall and storm intensity?

We know these factors will become more important as the climate system warms further, so as the clean-up begins, we should keep an eye on the future.


Bill Shorten denies hypocrisy, defends Labor backflip on company tax cuts

ARE company tax cuts a key driver of jobs and wage growth for average Australian workers, or an unaffordable gift for big business and foreign billionaires?

According to Bill Shorten in 2011, the former. According to Bill Shorten in 2016, the latter.

In 2011, the then-assistant treasurer was spruiking the flow-on impact of cutting the company tax rate, telling parliament it would increase productivity and investment.

“More capital means higher economic activity and higher wages,” Mr Shorten told parliament. He was spruiking an unsuccessful push by the Gillard government to lower the corporate tax rate by one per cent to 29 per cent.

In a video from the same time, circulated by the Coalition, Mr Shorten continued: “As Australia is buffeted by the economic affairs overseas, we understand that lowering corporate tax assists the creation of jobs. And what can be more important in this country than the creation of jobs.”

And, as The Australian reported, in a 2011 speech to the Australian Council of Social Service national conference, Mr Shorten said: “Friends, corporate tax reform helps Australia’s private sector grow and it creates jobs right up and down the income ladder.”

Mr Shorten took a different position on Friday. “There’s no comparison between 2011 and now,” he told reporters. “The truth of the matter is you can only ever do company tax cuts when the nation can afford to do them. That goes for any tax cuts.”

The government plans to reduce the rate of company tax from 30 to 25 per cent over the next decade at a cost of $48 billion. Labor opposes these cuts but supports giving tax relief to small businesses with an annual turnover of $2 million or less.

Labor MPs also faced the job of explaining the Mr Shorten’s change of heart, given many of his senior team have previously argued in favour of company tax cuts.

Writing in The Australian, columnist and broadcaster Peter Van Onselen pointed out that the man who could become treasurer until very recently argued for them.

“It’s a Labor thing to have the ambition of reducing company tax, because it promotes investment, creates jobs and drives growth,” shadow treasurer Chris Bowen wrote in his book Hearts and Minds.

And opposition assistant Treasury spokesman Andrew Leigh told Sky News last year: “We know the company tax rate is a significant drag on growth, largely because capital is more footloose than labour and so there’s potential for us to miss out on high-quality investment if we have too high a company tax rate.”

Similarly, Labor frontbencher and former finance minister Penny Wong argued the line last time Labor was in power.

“We understand that the cut in the corporate tax rate is important to increase productivity, to promote broadbased economic growth and to encourage more investment and jobs across Australia,” she said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the government is unashamedly prioritising jobs and growth. “The truth is Bill Shorten knows, in his heart of hearts, what is the right thing to do here. He’s just too weak to deliver it,” he said.
Senator Penny Wong also once argued for company tax cuts.

Senator Penny Wong also once argued for company tax cuts.Source:News Corp Australia

Ms Wong insisted Labor’s opposition to the government’s plan to reduce business tax was about priorities. “We just think we’d rather be putting money into Australia’s schools, into protecting Medicare ... than a $50 billion tax break for businesses earning up to $1 billion,” she said.

Opposition finance spokesman Tony Burke pointed out the Liberals and Greens voted against the 2011 measure.

“You don’t get these tax cuts for free. If you give it, it means other things hit the fence on the way through,” he said.

“What Malcolm Turnbull is doing is saying that he then wants to, every year, change the definition of small business,” he said.

Former ALP national president Warren Mundine, who now heads up the prime minister’s indigenous advisory council, fears economic reform will go backwards if Labor wins government.

Talking about the birth of his great-grand-daughter last week, Mr Mundine wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “Labor’s rhetoric will take Australia down a path where her taxes will be higher and her education will be more costly.”


Business Council of Australia head Jennifer Westacott is “gobsmacked” by Labor’s anti-business election campaign, describing it as a dangerous ploy.

But she also believes the coalition government should have been more ambitious on industrial relations during its term in office. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled as “anti-business” Labor’s rejection of his plan to reduce the company tax rate.

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is not for moving, insisting it’s a choice between standing up for lower and middle-income families or a handout to companies which “simply don’t need it at this point”.

Ms Westacott is bewildered by Labor’s stance.

“How are we going to grow our economy when 80 per cent of our economic output is dependent on business?” she said on Sunday. “It’s gobsmacking, it’s very dangerous.”

Ms Westacott also wants to see Mr Turnbull talk more about industrial relations during the campaign, especially reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, one of the triggers for the July 2 double-dissolution election.

While bringing back the ABCC would be a “huge step” in restoring confidence in the industrial relations system, the government could have done more.

“We would have liked to have seen a more ambitious agenda by the government over the last three years,” Ms Westacott said.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash believes the government has been active in industrial relations, citing its attempts to restore the ABCC.

She dismissed suggestions that releasing the government’s formal response to the Heydon royal commission into trade union corruption before polling day will be seen as a political stunt.

“Our response is already in play, we will of course respond to the additional recommendations of Heydon over the next few weeks,” Senator Cash said.

The Business Council will be launching its own campaign in the run-up to July 2, promoting how business underpins the wealth of the country.

Ms Westacott is concerned opinion polls are pointing to a tight election outcome, saying Australia will be in a far worse position if there is a hung parliament or another obstructive Senate. She believes Australia is at a turning point.

“A spending plan without a growth plan will just lead to crippling rates of taxation and more and more deficits and a very, very fragile and non-resilient economy.”


PM fires up attack on union powers

Unions will be blocked from striking “secret deals” to wield control over volunteer organisations as Malcolm Turnbull intensifies the election battle over workplace ­relations, backed by business groups that see the furious dispute over Victorian firefighters as a national test of industrial power.

The federal government will use the new laws to confront a “pattern of behaviour” in the union movement that hurts workers as well as volunteers, while warning the union tactics could also harm emergency workers battling storms and floods in NSW and along the ­nation’s east coast.

Bill Shorten challenged the Prime Minister to explain how he would change the Fair Work Act to intervene in the dispute, warning that the Prime Minister was “causing more trouble” in a state matter.

But the political pressure is taking its toll on the Labor state government of Daniel Andrews, who struggled to reach a cabinet compromise late yesterday to prevent Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett quitting over the attempt to give union ­officials more sway over 60,000 volunteers at the Country Fire Authority.

The Premier was forced to take a step back in his push to ram the deal through cabinet to avoid the twin prospects of losing a minister and further damaging federal Labor’s campaign in Victoria.

The compromise commits the government to reconsidering the contentious elements of the union’s claim that first ignited the row between the government, the CFA and the United Firefighters Union, which sought veto powers over the independent agency.

Ms Garrett said last night that the government would undertake further work on the clauses that see the mandatory dispatch of seven professional firefighters and the dispute-resolution mechanism that the union’s critics say amounts to a right of veto on the CFA management’s decisions.

It also flags the prospect of both the Fair Work Commission and Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley monitoring the implementation of the agreement.

The Australian has been told that the Turnbull government is examining a series of potential amendments to workplace laws to shield the Victorian firefighters but also curb union manoeuvres in other states where volunteer organisations may be exposed to similar deals.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott, who is a volunteer emergency service worker, backed the federal stance last night and contrasted the Opposition Leader’s campaign slogan of “putting people first” with the deal struck by Mr Andrews to let the UFU gain power over volunteers.

“So typical of Shorten/Andrews Labor. Not people first but unions first,” Mr Abbott told The Australian.

Mr Turnbull lauded the state emergency services volunteers dealing with floods in NSW and likened them to the 60,000 volunteers at the Victorian CFA objecting to the push for influence over the organisation by the UFU. “They’re the volunteers that the Labor Party and the unions have taken on; they’re the volunteers that have been disrespected by the Labor Party,” Mr Turnbull declared.

“We respect them, we honour them, we stand up for them.”

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash told The Australian the government was considering changes to the Fair Work Act to shield the Victorian volunteers from the union’s attempts to extend its power over the firefighting authority.

“We are considering a number of possible amendments to the Fair Work Act that would address this issue,” Senator Cash said. “There is a clear pattern of behaviour when it comes to secret deals between unions and Labor governments which only benefits unions at the expense of all others. Whether it is destroying the livelihoods of truck drivers at the behest of the TWU, locking contractors out of the construction industry at the behest of the CFMEU or destroying the volunteer CFA at the behest of the UFU, Labor’s utter weakness in the face of greedy union bosses comes at an enormous cost to the community.”

Business groups are backing the government on the issue amid worries about similar attempts to extend union power across industry.

Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox said: “The depth of feeling in Victoria among CFA volunteers and the community they serve shows there are clear limits as to how far people are prepared to be pushed by union demands for more power and more control. We hope this dispute can be resolved quickly, amicably and in a way that draws community support. If ever there was a test case for how far a union can push community sentiment, this is it.”

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry workplace relations director Richard Calver said the Victorian dispute had national implications because of the way the government could change the Fair Work Act to protect volunteers.

Mr Turnbull said the 60,000 volunteers of the CFA were “heroes” who would be subject to the firefighters’ union if the Victorian government had its way. He likened this to the decision by federal Labor when Julia Gillard was prime minister and Mr Shorten was workplace relations minister to “do the bidding” of the Transport Workers Union by introducing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to set higher rates for truck drivers and limit owner-drivers.

Mr Turnbull said the government would add to the powers in the Fair Work Act list to strike out “objectionable clauses” in enterprise bargaining agreements, setting up grounds to disallow an industrial deal if it curbed the rights of volunteers. “We are quite satisfied that we have the ability to amend the Fair Work Act to deal with this,” he said.


Thirty illegal fishermen caught in Far North Queensland waters

THIRTY crew from two vessels have been detained and taken to Cairns for suspected illegal fishing in Far North waters.

The fishermen, believed to be Vietnamese, were apprehended by Maritime Border Command (MBC) officials on Thursday near Lihou Reef, about 600km east of Cairns.

An Australian Border Force spokesman said two vessels were searched by Australian Defence Force personnel and they found diving gear and about six tonnes of bêche-de-mer (sea cucumber), suspected to have been caught illegally.

It was the third incident of its kind in the Far North in just over two months.

Authorities are understood to be investigating whether the group of fishermen are part of a syndicate that has decided to target the Great Barrier Reef.

The incident is on par with the arrest of 28 fishermen off Lockhart River in late March, which was believed to be the largest haul of illegal foreign fishers in Great Barrier Reef waters in more than 30 years.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority general manager Peter Venslovas said illegal fishing posed a significant risk to Australian waters.

“Australia’s fisheries are some of the best managed in the world and as such they are the target of illegal fishers,” Mr Venslovas said.

“However, through regular surveillance, monitoring and patrols, those seeking to do the wrong thing will be caught.”

The two unregulated and unregistered vessels were initially spotted by an ABF surveillance aircraft with the HMAS Wollongong and AFMA officers responding.

The crew members were believed to have arrived in Cairns yesterday morning.

Parks Australia’s Marine Protected Areas head Jason Mundy said Lihou Reef had been a sanctuary since 1982.

“Ensuring illegal activities including foreign fishing are prevented is essential for conservation and protection of this unique and special place,” Mr Mundy said.

MBC Acting Commander Commodore Brenton Smyth said they performed surveillance and responded to incidents throughout the Australian Fishing Zone.

“These apprehensions are a fine example of the collaborative efforts of Australian government agencies working together to detect and apprehend vessels illegally fishing in Australian waters,” he said.

It is understood the detained fishermen will be transported from Cairns to a detention centre in Darwin.


Mother of a man, 21, who was murdered six years ago claims the man jailed over her son's death was wrongly convicted - and she wants him released from prison

The mother of a 21-year-old man who was brutally murdered six years ago claims the suspect jailed over her son's death was wrongly convicted as she fights for his release from prison.

Josh Warneke was attacked and killed as he walked home after a night out with friends in Broome in Western Australia in the early hours of February 25 in 2010.

More than two years later, police arrested an Aboriginal man named Gene Gibson, who was sentenced to seven-and-half years in jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter in 2014.

However, Ingrid Bishop claims that Gibson did not kill her son – pointing the finger at an alleged botched police investigation, lack of forensic evidence and a confession she believes was coerced, according to 60 Minutes.

Ms Bishop believes Gibson is innocent as she's working with his family to get him out of jail and is searching for her son's killer – who she believes is still out there.

'It is the right thing to do – Gene Gibson is innocent – that is a no brainer and if no one else is going to do it, I'm going to do it,' Ms Bishop told 60 Minutes.

'I will never get my son back but I'm not going to have someone sit in a prison for how many years because no one else could be bothered doing their jobs – shame on the lot of them,' she said, referring to the Western Australian police officers who investigating her son's death.

Gibson, who is believed to suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, told the police three different stories on how he allegedly killed Josh, none of them matching the forensic evidence, Ms Bishop said.

Tests conducted on hair found in Josh's hand suggest that he was attacked with an axe or a sharp object, unlike the rock and pole Gibson told police he hit Josh with, Ms Bishop said.

His interview with police was not recorded and in 2014 a supreme court ruled that his confession couldn't be used in a trial because officers didn't conduct the investigation properly, according to 60 Minutes.

Officers were then forced to drop the murder charge and offer Gibson a plea deal for manslaughter, which he took.

11 police officers that worked on the case have been disciplined after the court's ruling but are all still employed, Ms Bishop said.

Ms Bishop says she now wants a coronial inquiry. 'I just want to know how Josh died and I just want to know who killed him,' she said.  'Who is wandering around in Broome who committed a murder?'


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

7 June, 2016

The church of political correctness controls national discourse

The desire to belong to an organisation with a coherent body of beliefs and to spread this gospel to others has always been a strong one for many people.

Like these older religions, the PCC subscribes to a long list of doctrines, among the most prominent of which are:

* Formal legal status for same-sex marriage.

* An alarmist view of climate change and its causes.

* Depiction of Australian society as essentially racist.

* Support for a bill of rights.

* Scepticism about the police and other law enforcement agencies, especially in relation to anti-terrorism legislation.

* Indifference to issues of border security.

* Hostility to Israel in the context of conflict in the Middle East.

It may be noted that none of these views involves any economic costs to those who hold them.

The PCC is generally wealthy and concerned to stay that way. Most of its members are not particularly interested in the distribution of society’s resources.

There is also some overlap between these views and the policies of the Greens, although the PCC generally prefers not to be identified with any particular political party.

Some of these views, of course, may be justifiable in whole or in part, but the PCC is not interested in debating them. Like many religious movements in history, it considers that anyone who rejects even one of these doctrines is not merely misguided but part of an evil conspiracy and deserving of suppression.

The debate over freedom of speech and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act exemplified this. By making it unlawful to insult or offend some sections of the community, this provision, if the PCC were to be believed, was necessary to prevent Australians engaging in racist behaviour as bad as in the US deep south in the 1950s and 60s.

The PCC is relatively small in a numerical sense and many of its tenets are not supported by popular sentiment in the wider community. But its influence is considerable because of where its members are located.

This is because its members dominate large sections of the media; most teaching staff in universities; all legal professional bodies; the senior ranks of the federal and state bureaucracies; and the management of several large corporations.

It is not true, of course, that every person in these organisations shares all or even some of the PCC doctrines. But any dissenters must be well aware that their career prospects could be seriously harmed by expressing a contrary opinion.

This is particularly true for people at the start of their careers and not yet established in a secure position. And it is again reminiscent of many religious groups: it is not enough to accept most but not all of the doctrines. Disagreement with any one of them leads automatically to exclusion from the group. As in many previous periods of history, silence is often the safest course of action.

There is an interesting question as to how the PCC came to capture so many influential organisations in Australian society, especially since this phenomenon seems to date only from the early 80s.

It is true that there are some strong strains of political correctness in other countries, including Britain and the US, but Australia seems to have led the way in this exercise and produced a much greater stifling of public debate on social and political questions.

Why this is so is a conundrum, although the answer may have something to do with the huge ­expansion of universities over this period and the introduction of PCC material into school cur­riculums.

The difficulty about reversing this situation is that once people in organisations realise that a particular set of views is expected of them, they are unlikely to advertise any contrary opinions, so the present system is self-reinforcing.

There are still contrary voices in Australia to this stifling regime, but any dissenters need to have an established position in society so that they are immune from persecution by these grimly determined and utterly humourless zealots.


David Leyonhjelm parodies Kevin Rudd's apology to stolen generations

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has parodied Kevin Rudd’s historic stolen generations apology speech in an election video on tax and spending policy.

On 13 February 2008 the former prime minister apologised for the “hurt, pain and suffering” the parliament had caused Indigenous people.

On Monday Leyonhjelm released a three-minute election video apologising to Australian taxpayers for the “needless pain, suffering and hurt” caused by government taxes and regulation.

“At long last we acknowledge the mistreatment of Australian taxpayers, amongst the longest suffering peoples on this land,” he says.

“We reflect, in particular, on the systematic punishment meted out to wealth creators and of the relentless grab of their hard-earned money.

“On behalf of my fellow legislators, past and present, I apologise for the laws and policies of successive Coalition and Labor governments that have inflicted a profound loss of wealth on its citizens and deprived them of their liberties.”

Leyonhjelm asks for a minute to reflect on how money had been wasted on middle-class welfare, 2 million public servants and failed Aboriginal welfare spending.

“The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past,” the NSW senator said.

The LDP, represented in parliament only by Leyonhjelm, is campaigning for a 20% flat tax on income and companies, abolition of import tariffs and the scrapping of taxes on alcohol, tobacco and fuel.


Labor must stop union Games delays: LNP

Queensland's Labor government must stand up to union bosses to ensure preparations for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games get back on track following construction delays, the opposition says.
Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls says "militant CFMEU activity" is threatening the timely delivery of the key Carrara Sports and Recreation venue for the Games, to be held in April 2018 .

Mr Nicholls is urging Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to heed Gold Coast Organising Committee (GOLDOC) chairman Peter Beattie's calls for industrial issues to be resolved.

The opposition leader said Ms Palaszczuk can't "pass the buck" as it was a state government project and the biggest event Queensland would host this decade.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to take action to ensure these Games are delivered, taxpayers funds aren't wasted and jobs aren't being lost," Mr Nicholls said on Monday.

Mr Beattie has told The Courier-Mail that any delay in the construction of facilities for the Games was of concern.
"We are keen to see the industrial issues resolved as quickly as possible," he told the newspaper.

"This can only be achieved by negotiations between the parties or by the intervention of the Fair Work Commission".

The commission has commenced proceedings against the CFMEU and two of its officials over the work stoppages.

It alleges the $126 million taxpayer-funded project has been disrupted by twice-daily, two-hour-long union meetings organised by the CFMEU.

The Federal Court on Friday ordered that no more than one meeting a week be held until a trial begins on July 25 to determine whether the union used the stoppages to "coerce" the head contractor into signing a new enterprise agreement on its terms.

A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Games Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said all infrastructure, including the Carrara project, was on track to be delivered 12 months ahead of the Games.


General Morrison goes too far with his politically correct nonsense

LISTEN up guys – and that includes all you ballbreaking sheilas reading this – it’s time to man up and fight back against the gay political correctness garbage infesting our lives.

Last week’s moronic video by the laughably entitled Australian of the Year David Morrison was, for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I can no longer sit around passively on my backside, as so many of us have done for decades, while this never-satisfied army of politically correct censors inflict their retarded ideologies on our language and freedom of speech.
Australian of the Year David Morrison is merely a stooge for political correctness in his video Words at Work.

Mr Morrison, get knotted. It is my language and I will use it how I choose.

I love our language. I love its innuendo, its cheekiness, its bawdiness and its sarcasm. I love its variety, its ever-changing colloquialisms and its garden of delightful hidden meanings and wicked word plays.

English, going back to Chaucerian and Shakespearean times, is without a doubt the most fun, inventive and versatile language on the planet.

No other language offers the richness of meaning and subtlety. No other language lives, breathes and constantly adapts itself as does our mother tongue.

And very few other languages have its wealth of rude, crass, hilarious, cutting, insightful and sarcastic means of causing offence and poking fun at ourselves and at others.

And in Australia, courtesy of our mixed Cockney and Irish backgrounds, the Aussie version of English has held its own in terms of inventiveness, coarseness and subversive humour.

So I will no longer be cowed by the quasi-socialists and self-pitying misery brigades of the Left in Australia who endlessly seek to mould how we think and behave by the process of limiting what words, phrases and concepts are deemed to be “appropriate”.

It’s time to hit back with a campaign to encourage politically incorrect thoughts and words: #unPCwithme, or something like that.

Listen to this balderdash (what a great word! No doubt they’ll try and ban it soon, too) from the former Chief of the Army and now Chief Nanny-state Wowser of the Year in his ludicrous video:

“Every day at work, there are hazards that you walk past without realising just how dangerous they are,” was his opening line – accompanied by Hitchcock-style Psycho music to ramp up the fear.
Harden up guys and all you ballbreaking sheilas who can’t cope with the language of the workplace.

(Note also the deliberate use of “that you walk past” in the script, designed to echo the speech that made Mr Morrison such a leftie hero in the first place).

“Some things are just plain bad for you – I’m talking about the power of words,” he intones, as he stares with a disapproving sneer at … a poster that says “Clean up after yourself. Your mum doesn’t work here!”

The offence, presumably, is to suggest that it is only mums who clean up after messy boys and girls, whereas in our brave new PC world of the Left’s imagining dads must of course do their fair share of the housework too.

Well, Mr Morrison, have I got news for you.

I suspect that in about 90 per cent of normal Aussie households, most of the cleaning up does indeed get done by mum because dad couldn’t be arsed or is too busy watching telly or too hungover to care. It ain’t a perfect world, but at least it’s a tidy one.

Mr Morrison then drivels on about other things we dreadful people in the workforce do and say, such as using the word “guys” as a generic term for men and women (Hollywood Valley Girl slang circa the ’80s), or – Shock! Horror! – using the word “girls” to address a group of, er, girls (sorry – self-important, smug, sanctimonious, whingeing workplace Wendys would be a better description of those depicted in the video).

Oh, and we mustn’t call our female co-workers “feisty” or “ballbreakers”, even when that’s what they are, because we don’t employ the same words to describe our feisty, ballbreaking male co-workers.
I suspect Mum does the cleaning in 90 per cent of normal Aussie households.

True. We tend to use far blunter anglo-saxon words like (children stop reading please) “f--kwit”, “d--khead”, and a certain part of the female anatomy. Give me “ballbreaker” any day. It’s far more imaginative.

As part of #unPCwithme, I encourage universities and workplaces to set up the opposite of the politically correct and nauseating “safe spaces” that have proliferated in recent years, such as the now infamous Oodgeroo Unit at QUT.

Instead, let’s see some specially designated “unPC spaces” or “PC-free time” in which individuals may assemble with the express purpose of nobody giving a rat’s what anybody else says or how they say it.

If you don’t want to hear it, don’t go. But if you want to be able to crack jokes, says daft things, be sarcastic and poke fun at stereotypes without fear of David Morrison popping up over your shoulder, feel free. Chaucer and Shakespeare would be the first to rock up.


Phonics check

One of the policy announcements in the 2016-17 federal budget is a Year 1 phonics check

Why do a phonics check?

Three major reviews of the research on effective literacy teaching methods found there are five essential elements to a high quality, comprehensive for initial reading instruction. They are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

The most contested of these is phonics – the relationship between sounds in speech and letters in writing. There is ongoing debate about the need for explicit phonics instruction, with arguments against phonics often based on misinformation and misconceptions. Many teachers say they teach phonics, but reading specialists argue it is often not taught in the most effective way – with dire consequences for later reading development.

What is a ‘phonics check’?

If a phonics check in Australian schools is modelled on the Phonics Screening Check in England, it is a teacher-administered, oral assessment consisting of 40 decodable words. Twenty of the words are real words like ‘shelf’, twenty are pseudo-words like ‘wep’. The pseudo-words are included because students will not have learned them as sight words.

A phonics check would reveal which schools are teaching phonics well and which need to strengthen their teaching in this area. It would also show which children need extra support

Why is explicit phonics instruction so important?

Phonics instruction is one of the most researched aspects of education, in terms of both the volume of studies over the last few decades and the consistency of the evidence. Numerous studies show that reading programs with a well-developed phonics component routinely and consistently have greater effectiveness for children learning to read than programs without a good phonics component.

Some children need more training in phonics than others, but all students benefit to some extent ¾whether it’s for learning to read or learning to spell. Sometimes when people dismiss phonics and say phonics programs are unnecessary or don’t work, it’s because they haven’t used a good phonics program.

Is English a phonetic language?

English is less phonetically regular than other languages; it is more accurately described as a morphophonemic language. This is arguably why a good phonics program is so important for teaching reading—if the relationship between written and spoken words is complex, it requires more explicit and careful teaching.

Research cited by Louisa Cook Moats in Speech to Print says approximately 50% of English words are easily decodable, another 34% have one exception to the rules of simple letter sound correspondences, and another 10% or so can be read accurately if morphology is taken into account. That leaves only a small proportion of words that have to learned as whole words.

Although the rules required in order to decode English words are more numerous than in other more ‘transparent’ languages like Finnish, it’s certainly much easier to remember the rules than it is to memorise what every single word in the English language looks like.

Another reason we know English is a phonetically decodable language is because good readers can read words they have never seen before. For example, when science fiction and fantasy authors make up names of characters and places, they usually make them phonetically decodable. If you are reading Game of Thrones for the first time and you come across the name Targaryen, you can decode it. You don’t need to have watched the show, you don’t need someone to tell you­?you can work it out using the basic rules of written language.

How do parents know whether their child’s school is providing good phonics instruction?

Parents will know if their child is getting good phonics instruction if, at the end of their first ‘foundation’ year of school, they know all the single letter sounds. They will know how to put them together to make simple words that use regular straightforward letter-sound correspondences, and they will be starting to be able to read bigger unknown words using diagraphs (combinations of two letters that makes a single sound). If their children can’t do these things after a year of good initial reading instruction, they may need some extra support with a reading intervention.

Is phonics all there is to reading?

While decoding is important, so is comprehension. The ‘simple view’ of reading is that it is made up of two elements?decoding/word recognition and comprehension. Reading for meaning requires both those things. People who have difficulty learning to read will have trouble in one or both those domains. Some people are good decoders but poor on comprehension, some vice versa, and some students who really struggle can have problems in both areas.

What is a good phonics program?

Programs developed by people with specialist knowledge of the way that the English language is constructed are likely to be more effective than others. It is also important that phonics programs be evidence-based; that is: to have been proven to be effective using rigorous scientific research methods.

At present the model known as systematic synthetic phonics has the strongest research support. In synthetic phonics, teachers build up phonic skills from their smallest unit (graphemes). The processes of blending and segmenting are also taught.

Three of the key elements of a good phonics program are: the sequence in which letters and sounds are taught; early introduction of blending and segmenting; and use of decodable text.

For children who are learning the alphabet for the first time, the method and order of introducing letters and letter combinations (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes) need to be carefully planned. In explicit and systematic phonics programs, a small number of letters and sounds are introduced at a time and children learn those before moving on to the next ones. Letters that look similar are not introduced at the same time, for example, b and d. The aim is to minimise confusion and maximise success for children.

In a good phonics program, blending is taught shortly after sounds are introduced. Students do not learn all the letter sounds and then learn how to put them together into words; each group of letters selected can be made into simple words. If the letters s, m, a, t, and i are taught as a group, children can learn to blend them into words like sit and am. Children learn that if they take the ‘i’ out of the middle of ‘sit’ and put an ‘a’ in its place, it makes the word ‘sat’.

By this process, children begin to understand that written words are a code, and it’s a code they can break. And when they do understand that?some children will pick this up much more quickly than others, of course?the rest comes much more easily. After a period of time, once they’ve learned grapheme-phoneme correspondences and are able to blend them, they can read almost any word they come across.

The third element is practising reading using decodable text. As children learn how to put letters and sounds into blends, and start to be able to read whole words, they should also be taught some common sight words that don’t follow the normal sort of rules¾like ‘was’ and ‘of’, for example. Sentences or short stories composed of decodable words and common simple sight words give students the opportunity to use the phonics skills they have acquired and learn about print conventions and punctuation.

Of course, a comprehensive reading program will also use real children’s books to develop vocabulary and comprehension, but novice readers benefit from reading material that allows them to successfully read independently as early as possible.

‘I wasn’t taught phonics but I learned to read’

Skilled reading is unconscious and automatic­?most people are not aware of the complex cognitive processes taking place. Few people remember how they learned to read. That’s why research and evidence are so important: so assumptions are not made that what might have worked for one person will probably work for everyone else.

The question research seeks to answer is ‘what is the most effective strategy for the largest number of students’? There is a lot of research showing what that strategy is?a well-developed, comprehensive reading instruction program that includes an evidence-based, explicit phonics component.


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

6 June, 2016

There is a human face to our Governor-General

I have a good mate called Gary Mayer who was Lt Peter Cosgrove's sig in Vietnam, in fact he was with him when Lt Cosgrove won the MC.

As we all know, Lt Cosgrove is now General Sir Peter and seemingly a good bloke at that.

But my mate Gary, who now resides in Maleny, has a battle with cancer and all efforts to halt the dreaded killer are near exhausted.

Last weekend he got a call from his old skipper saying that he was in Brisbane and would like to drive up to Maleny for a cuppa.

And he did just that.

An unmarked BMW with 2 fed coppers aboard followed by a 4-wheel-drive with more feds made the trip up and a fair bit of bullshit was relived over the cuppa.

About 2 hours later, the General was on his way back to Brisbane for the VIP flight back to Canberra.

Now is that a fair dinkum good bloke or what???

An email received via army contacts

Salim Mehajer's disgraced Auburn council 'told parking rangers not to book cars around a Muslim school'

Parking rangers were told not to issue fines to vehicles outside a Muslim School under Salim Mehajer's disgraced Auburn council, a public inquiry has heard.

Former council ranger Dianne Laing told the inquiry on Wednesday staff were ordered not to issue notices at Al-Faisal College, in Sydney's west, and were threatened with suspension if they did.

'We were told not to issue notices there,' Ms Laing said, according to The Australian. She told the court that the school was left to 'self regulate' parking offences.

Despite there being at least 20 other schools in the area, Ms Laing said staff were only told to waiver tickets at Al-Faisal College.

Stefanie Griffiths, a former Auburn Council team leader, said the ruling had come 'from the top'. She told the court she was worried councillors cancelled tickets on behalf of friends, family and associates.

Ms Griffiths said she had kept a record of all instances she believed to be amiss, the publication reported.


White teen attacked by black gang in Melbourne

A mob of teenagers have been caught on camera kicking a teenager in the head before relentlessly bashing him as he cowered on the floor.

Footage shared on Facebook shows Haydyn Wilson, 14, being set upon by a group of five older teenagers in the unprovoked attack at Woodgrove shopping centre, in Melbourne's north-west, on Wednesday.

The victim narrowly avoided serious injury after suffering a brutal kick to the face and then a flurry of further attacks on the floor, Herald Sun reported.

Eyewitness Joel Hamilton said Haydyn tried to flee his attackers before the sent him onto the floor and assaulted him again.

'He was on the ground bleeding so much, his nose was all pushed back it didn't look too nice,' Mr Hamilton said.

The video was shared by one of the attackers on Facebook, where it amassed 64,000 shares.

One of the attackers has not been back to the school since police began investigating the incident.


Sri Lankan refugees intercepted trying to board boat to Australia in India

Chennai, India: Indian authorities have intercepted a truck in Tiruvallur near Chennai where they found 33 Sri Lankan refugees missing from four government-run camps. The refugees, including six women and six children, were planning to take a boat to Australia, police said.

It prompted refugee activists to call on the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to ease restrictions on Sri Lankan refugees living in guarded camps.

Over 100,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to have sought refuge in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, during the conflict between separatist rebels and the Sri Lankan army which lasted a quarter of a century and ended in 2009.

The Tamil Nadu government runs 109 special camps, housing around 60,000 refugees. They receive an allowance, food and education. Some have been in the camps for two decades and many were born there.

The refugees say if the Indian authorities won't grant them citizenship they should at least be given the right of free movement in the country.

"The journey they were going to embark on is very dangerous. They are just being duped by agents, who have been arrested and will be booked under both trafficking laws and the national security act," coastal security group head Sylendra Babu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Police said there had been four or five similar attempts by refugees to board boats to Australia in the last three years.

Smugglers charge 100,000 rupees ($1502) for a one-way journey to Australia, according to investigating officials.

India has hosted many refugees from neighbouring countries over the years but it has no law to define refugees and the status of the Sri Lankan refugees remains ambiguous.

Most refugees have refused to go back to Sri Lanka saying the government there has not come up with a clear plan for their reintegration. Many lost everything in the war and cannot see how they would restart their lives. [But they could restart their lives in Australia, where they don't even speak the language?]


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

5 June, 2016

Academic suspended for criticising Australian flag

What do you think of the heading above?  Sounds outrageous, does it not?  It is on the header of the latest mailout from "New Matilda".  And, knowing the underlying story concerned, it did give me a laugh.  I was even more entertained when the opening sentence of  the story described the suspended one, Roz Ward, as a "respected Melbourne academic".  Respected by whom?  Other Far-Leftists, no doubt.

But the heading is deceptive in the usual Leftist way.  The woman did not just criticize the flag.  Harold Scruby has been doing that for decades without incident. Having the Union Jack quartered in the Australian flag has long steamed up some Leftists.  Ms Ward actually denigrated the flag and what it stood for, which is a more serious matter

The story below is fairly factual, quite devoid of the huffing and puffing one usually gets in Leftist writing.  So it leaves the reader in a position to make up their own minds about the matter.  I would note two additional points only:

1). Universities these days are very sensitive about speech, "hate" speech, particularly.  So LaTrobe would have risked great cries of hypocrisy if they had let Ms Ward's quite blatant hate speech go uncontested.  An accusation of "racism" is pretty toxic these days.  And directing such an accusation at the university's source of funding just could not be risked.  Funding is the thing that universities most passionately believe in these days.

2). The flag is a symbol of the nation so it was Australia as a whole that Ms Ward was denigrating. And Australians are a pretty patriotic lot in a quiet way so there is no doubt that the utterance concerned would have cause widespread offence -- particularly as it came from a source well deserving of opprobrium: A Communist.  Glass houses and all that.  Just the woman's obvious self-satisfaction was offensive enough, considering the horrors she stands for.  So the whole thing was just bad PR for the university.  And universities spend a lot on PR these days

No doubt Ms Ward will be reinstated after a suitable interval.  She will be found to have uttered "free speech".  Marxism is respectable in the universities these days. 

UPDATE: She has been reinstated.  I originally posted this article on my Matilda blog on 2nd.

Roz Ward – a respected Melbourne academic and one of the co-founders of the Safe Schools program – has been suspended from her job at La Trobe University this afternoon, over a private Facebook post which criticised the Australian flag as “racist”.

Ms Ward, who has been at the centre of a News Corporation engineered media storm this week, was notified in writing this afternoon of her immediate suspension (with pay) from the university.

Fiona Reed, the Executive Director of Human Resources at LaTrobe accuses Ms Ward of breaching her employment conditions by embarrassing the university, causing the Victorian Government – a major funder of LaTrobe – to divert resources to defending Safe Schools, and of putting her colleagues at risk by creating an ‘unsafe’ environment.

Last week, under a photograph of the gay and lesbian flag flying above Victorian parliament, Ms Ward joked with a friend on Facebook: “Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”

The ‘red’ is a reference to the Marxist flag – in addition to her work with Safe Schools, Ms Ward is a prominent figure in Melbourne’s Marxist political movement.

The post was leaked to The Australian newspaper, which began a campaign last week to remove Ms Ward from her position with Safe Schools Victoria Coalition, which is funded by the Victorian government and auspiced by LaTrobe.

By early this week, former Liberal Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett – the Chairman of charity beyondblue, which has been a major funder of LaTrobe – had joined the attacks, telling media that if Ms Ward remained in her role with Safe Schools, he would personally argue against any further funding to the university’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, which administers the Safe Schools program on behalf of LaTrobe.

This afternoon, Ms Ward was handed a letter by LaTrobe University, immediately suspending her from her job Specifically, La Trobe claims Ms Ward’s conduct:

“a. … Undermined public confidence in the Safe Schools program by undermining public confidence in you as a researcher and as a person associated with the Safe Schools program.”

“b. … Damages the reputation of the Safe Schools program and aligns the Safe Schools program with views which have nothing to do with the program and its message and content.”

“c. … Has required members of the Victorian Government to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program.”

“d. … Has required senior staff at the University to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program or undertake other duties they have.”

“e. … drawn (your colleagues) into the negative publicity around Safe Schools and this has impacted on their ability to continue with their research in a safe environment.”


Great Barrier Reef: scientists ‘exaggerated’ coral bleaching

Activist scientists and lobby groups have distorted surveys, maps and data to misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, ­according to the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt.

A full survey of the reef ­released yesterday by the author­ity and the Australian Institute of Marine ­Science said 75 per cent of the reef would escape unscathed.

Dr Reichelt said the vast bulk of bleaching damage was confined to the far northern section off Cape York, which had the best prospect of recovery due to the lack of ­onshore development and high water quality. [i.e. There are virtually NO farms along that part of the coast  -- which gives the lie to the constant  Greenie claim that farm runoff is what is damaging the reef]

Activist groups last week seized on reports that a UN ­assessment of the impacts of climate change on iconic Australian World Heritage sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian Wilderness was censored by Australia. It later emerged that the report the government was accused of censoring was complimentary of the Turnbull government’s actions to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The political debate and the ­release of the authority’s survey results highlights a growing conflict between the lead Barrier Reef agency and the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce headed by Terry Hughes.

Dr Reichelt said the authority had withdrawn from a joint ­announcement on coral bleaching with Professor Hughes this week “because we didn’t think it told the whole story”. The taskforce said mass bleaching had killed 35 per cent of corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Reichelt said maps accompanying the research had been misleading, exaggerating the ­impact. “I don’t know whether it was a deliberate sleight of hand or lack of geographic knowledge but it certainly suits the purpose of the people who sent it out,” he said.

“This is a frightening enough story with the facts, you don’t need to dress them up. We don’t want to be seen as saying there is no ­problem out there but we do want people to understand there is a lot of the reef that is unscathed.”

Dr Reichelt said there had been widespread misinterpretation of how much of the reef had died. “We’ve seen headlines stating that 93 per cent of the reef is prac­tic­ally dead,” he said. “We’ve also seen reports that 35 per cent, or even 50 per cent, of the entire reef is now gone.

“However, based on our ­combined results so far, the overall mortality rate is 22 per cent — and about 85 per cent of that die-off has occurred in the far north ­between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250km north of Cairns. Seventy-five per cent of the reef will come out in a few months time as recovered.”

Former climate change commissioner Tim Flannery described diving on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas recently as “one of the saddest days of my life”.

“This great organism, the size of Germany and arguably the most diverse place on earth, is dying ­before our eyes,’’ Dr Flannery wrote for Fairfax Media. “Having watched my father dying two years ago, I know what the signs of slipping away are. This is death, which ever-rising temperatures will allow no recovery from. Unless we act now.”

Dr Reichelt said Dr Flannery’s language had been “dramatic” and “theatrical” and his prognosis, ­although of concern, was “specul­ative”. Dr Reichelt also rejected ­reports, based on leaked draft docu­ments, that improving water quality would cost $16 billion.

He said the interim report had been rejected by a board of which he was member and “taken totally out of context” in media reports.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society said the leaked information demonstrated the legacy of years of poor farming practices and government inaction, and highlighted the scale of ambition needed for political leaders to protect the reef.

The society’s reef campaign ­director, Imogen Zethoven, said Australia’s plans to protect the reef’s water quality were “shockingly underfunded”.

Meanwhile, tourism operators have stepped up a campaign to fight back against the onslaught of negative publicity. “It seems some marine scientists have decided to use the bleaching event to highlight their personal political beliefs and lobby for increased funding in an election year,” said Association of Marine Park Tour Operators executive director Col McKenzie.


Some Corroboration from the Cairns Post: (Cairns is the port through which the reef is most often accessed)

The Cairns-based Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) has also released findings from 133 underwater survey dives carried out between Port Douglas and Cairns by a combined taskforce last week.

It showed key reef tourism sites escaped mass bleaching with only 13.7 per cent showing signs of coral mortality.

The findings seemingly contradict an estimate by the Townsville-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies earlier this week that mass bleaching killed 35 per cent of corals on the northern and central part of the Reef.

AMPTO [tour operators -- who see the reef daily] executive director Col McKenzie said this claim was “utter rubbish.”

“It seems that some marine scientists have decided to use the bleaching event for their personal political beliefs and lobby for increased funding in an election year,’’ he said.

The BOM got something right

I have often criticized the BOM so I am pleased that I can for once say something good about them.  On 24 May, they predicted: "winter rain could be on the way".  Winter is normally a dry season in Eastern Australia.  And June is definitely winter in Australia.

And on June 2 they predicted: "Wild weather to smash Australia’s east coast this weekend"

And on Saturday 4th June it happened.  The rain was coming down relentlessly and in "sheets" on Saturday morning in Brisbane.  The road outside my place was like a river.  I grew up in the tropics and it was like I was back there -- which pleased me greatly.  One usually remembers one's childhood fondly.

Media report and lots of pix here

Pauline Hanson defends her suggestion for a Royal Commission into ‘Islam’

Senate Candidate and leader of the One Nation Party Pauline Hanson defended her calls for a Royal Commission into Islam, telling The TODAY Show the requirement is “justified.”

Ms Hanson hit back at angry anti-racism protesters who stormed her Senate launch last night, claiming they “don’t really understand what we stand for.”

“I think we need as a nation to determine what impact this is going to have on our culture and our way of life,” she said this morning.  “We’ve seen the terrorism on the streets, we’ve seen the problems and the murders, don’t bury your head in the sand,” she said.

She defended her tough stance, encouraging Australians not to be dismayed by the protesters because “nothing [in our] policies is controversial.”

It’s been twenty years since Ms Hanson has made a foray into politics, and not the first time she has come under fire for extreme views, after her infamous comments about Australia in danger of being “swamped by Asians”.

She went on to question whether Islam “was truly a religion, or just a political ideology trying to undermine our culture?”

Co-host Peter Stefanovic questioned whether she believed a sweeping generalisation of Islam was correct, adding “only a small percentage hold extremist views.”

“I think it’s wonderful if they are peace-loving people, but we have never had any of those problems from any other religion in this country,” she responded.

“Don’t try and hound me, or suppress me,” she said. “It will up to the people at the ballot boxes… Let the people decide.

“This is a Christian country,” she retorted.

Ms Hanson went on to give an ardent speech that the call for a Royal Commission into Islam was not the only policy that stood for the One Nation Party. “We want to address taxation, the budget, debt, loss of farming land to foreign nationals…please do not just tag me as an issue with Islam,” she pleaded. “I, and my candidates, go a lot further than that.”

She appeared relieved when Stefanovic moved on to discussing superannuation, insisting her party believed it should be left alone.  “People are fed up, they make their plans, it should be the left the way it is… I don’t believe it should be changed,” she said.

She responded to the Prime Minister’s comments that she wasn’t welcome in the Upper House by putting it down to his “sheer arrogance.”  “It was very disgraceful for the leader of this nation to make those comments.”

Ms Hanson’s defence comes after around 20 protesters gathered at Brisbane’s Norman Park Bowls Club, chanting choruses for her to “get out.”


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

3 June, 2016

From reason to radicalism: "Gender fluidity"

Mark Latham, writing below, is in many ways an old-fashioned Leftist -- still with good reality contact and not totally into destruction.  He says not only is the modern Left's post-structuralist agenda anti-reason, anti-science & anti-family, it is anti-education

WHEN John Maynard Keynes declared “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler a few years back”, he knew what he was talking about.

The craziest trend in Australian politics is to teach Neo-Marxist genderless programs in our schools through the Orwellian-named Safe Schools and Building Respectful Relationships (BRR) curriculum.

Even though Australian students are falling down the international league tables in maths, science and English, teachers are devoting class-time to the mechanics of breast-binding and penis-tucking.

As Keynes envisaged, the thinking behind this madness is distilled from an academic scribbler a few years back. BRR’s author, Debbie Ollis from Deakin University, has attributed the intellectual inspiration for the program to a “post-structural understanding of gender construction”, drawing on the work of a Welsh academic Christine Weedon in her book Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory.

To understand what’s happening in today’s Labor Party and its attitude to education, Weedon’s tome is compulsory reading. I got my copy last week from the NSW State Library and was spellbound by its contents.

Parents deserve to know where the Safe Schools and BRR philosophy comes from, and Weedon brazenly sets out the ideology behind these new teaching materials.

Post-structuralism argues for a different way of looking at society, especially in understanding the nature of knowledge and learning.

Since the rise of the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, people have applied reason, rationality and observable truths in trying to build a better life. Weedon regards this process as inherently misleading.

She thinks that from our first moments alive, we are brainwashed into accepting the social order around us.

Governments, schools, churches, the media, popular culture and even fashion trends combine to reinforce the “power relations” and dominance of capitalism.

The things we know from observing nature and studying science are dismissed as “biological determinism”.

So too notions of truth, commonsense and life-experience are disparaged as “historical constructs” — delivering “false consciousness” and tricking people into a misunderstanding of their best interests. For Weedon, the process of social conditioning denies its “own partiality”.

“It fails to acknowledge that it is but one possible version of meaning, rather than ‘truth’ itself and that it represents particular (political) interests.”

For instance, growing up with two straight parents is said to “lead to the acquisition by children of a heterosexual gendered identity”. Weedon writes of how: “For young girls, the acquisition of femininity involves a recognition that they are already castrated like their mother”, forcing them to submit to patriarchy, or male dominance. No one is immune from the process of false gender identity.

Individuals are said to be “sexual beings from birth”, reflected in the “initial bisexuality of the child”.

This is the kind of thinking behind the Start Early program developed by Early Childhood Australia (ECA), which teaches childcare and preschool infants about sexuality, cross-dressing and the opposite sex’s toilets.

An ECA spokeswoman has said that, “(young) children are sexual beings, it’s a strong part of their identity’’.

Most parents would be horrified by this stance but it’s become commonplace in the Australian education system.

Having lost the battle for economic and foreign policy in the 1980s, Neo-Marxists embarked on a long march through the institutions of the public sector, especially universities and schools.

Indoctrination programs like Safe Schools, BRR and Start Early are the inevitable result. This breaks the longstanding, bipartisan practice in Australian politics of keeping ideology out of schools.

The purpose of a quality education has been to equip young people with the knowledge and vocational skills of a civilised society. If graduating students wish to pursue social and political change, they can do so through the democratic process in their adult years.

Education has been relatively free from ideological indoctrination. But this is not the view of the new curriculum designers, with Ollis depicting schools as “in a unique position to educate for social change”.

Weedon also said she wants to engineer an androgynous “ungendered” society through classroom tutoring. The other key Leftist battleground is for the control of language.

Inspired by French post-structuralist Michel Foucault, Weedon writes, “If language is the site where meaningful experience is constituted (in capitalist societies) then language also determines how we perceive possibilities of change”.

This is why Safe Schools seeks to eradicate the use of terms like “his and her” and “boys and girls”.

It believes genderless language will produce a genderless generation of young Australians, self-selecting their sexuality as a fluid identity.

Political correctness is not an accident, a random form of censorship. It’s a carefully targeted campaign designed to outlaw the language of observable facts in the discussion of race, gender and sexuality.

For every commonsense ­aspect of life, there’s a PC push to eliminate identity differences. Weedon writes of how the “dominant meanings of language” force boys and girls “to differentiate between pink and blue and to understand their social connotations”.

“Little girls should look pretty and be compliant and helpful, while boys should be adventurous, assertive and tough … (shaping) their future social destinations within a patriarchal society”.

This pink/blue phobia is the basis of the Leftist ‘‘No Gender December’’ campaign, trying to outlaw gender-specific toys each year at Christmas.

The more I research the BRR and Safe Schools programs, the more bewildered I am as to how Labor leaders like Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews endorsed this rubbish. Gough Whitlam must be turning in his grave.

The Great Man dedicated his life to the principles of the Age of Enlightenment: that rational, evidence-based argument could create a better and fairer society. Not only is the post-structuralist agenda anti-reason, anti-science and anti-family, it is also anti-education.

It wants to abandon the conventional process of learning through known facts and universally established truths, creating a borderless world of genderless individuals.

Australia’s political leaders are sleepwalking into an educational disaster.

As parents we need to make our views known to election candidates and school leaders alike. Anyone who has researched this issue will know we are fighting for the future of our civilisation.


Doctor glut to blow out Medicare costs

But better access to medical services should also result.  Both the UK and USA have doctor shortages so we are doing well

A growing glut of doctors has forced GPs to “chase patients” and pushed bulk-billing rates to record highs, leaving Medicare vulnerable to overuse that will add to its projected cost blowout of more than $35 billion within a decade.

Growth in GP numbers of ­almost 50 per cent over the past decade — 2.5 times population growth — has undermined doctors’ ability to charge fees above the Medicare Benefits Schedule, according to Australian Population Research Institute analysis.

The findings cast doubt on Labor’s and doctors’ claims that the Coalition’s plan to freeze the MBS for a further two years until 2020, to save $925 million, would hit bulk-billing rates. “There are so many GPs seeking patients that few could risk charging a co-payment because patients would go around the corner to a competitor who bulk bills,” said report author Bob Birrell. “Oversupply is the cause of escalation of GP costs that the Coalition is trying to curtail. But freezing the rebate is just a Band-Aid.”

Mr Birrell called for a lowering of the intake of overseas-trained doctors and new limits on where doctors funded by Medicare were able to practise. While the population has increased 19 per cent since 2005, the number of GPs has surged 47 per cent to 33,275, ­including growth of more than 110 per cent among overseas-trained doctors, who tend to move to cities after completing mandatory stints in regional areas.No

“There are no rules stopping overseas-trained doctors who have completed regional work ­requirements from moving, no matter how oversupplied their chosen location is,” Mr Birrell said. The number of overseas doctors practising in metropolitan areas jumped 112 per cent to 4520 over the decade to 2015, he said.

Bulk billing — where doctors agree to accept payment directly from Medicare rather than charge upfront fees — has increased from 75 per cent of GP visits in 2005 to a record high of about 85 per cent this year. Meanwhile, the annual cost to Medicare of non-referred doctor visits has more than doubled to $6.8bn — equivalent to a 73 per cent increase in the annual cost of GP services per person.

Labor has promised to unfreeze the MBS from next year, if it wins government, at a cost of $12bn over a decade, which has pleased doctors’ groups, who argue bulk-billing rates will fall if the rebate freeze — in place since 2013 — is allowed to continue under the Coalition.

Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said a growing GP workforce was a plus for Australia even if doctors were becoming excessively concentrated in some areas.

“GPs are the gatekeepers of the system and provide enormous value of money, being only about 6 per cent of national health costs,” Dr Gannon said. “There’s no question we’re much closer to having a maldistribution rather than oversupply.”

The study, which uses Department of Health data, argues a growing number of corporate practices are responsible for over-billing. “Corporates have been ­offering highly lucrative contracts on the condition that those ­employed accept their style of medicine — high throughput and bulk billing,” it said. Michael Wooldridge, a former long-serving health minister, said price gaps were a function of market power rather than the Medicare rebate, “and nothing else”. “About 1994, an increase in anaesthetic rebates led to greater gaps; ditto about 2000, when I was stupid enough to increase obstetric rebates,” Dr Wooldridge said.

The latest internationally comparable OECD data shows the number of doctors per 1000 people in Australia has grown by 29 per cent to 3.4 over the decade to 2013 — more than twice as fast as the OECD average. Australia had significantly more doctors per 1000 people than the US, Canada, Britain and New Zealand, which each had fewer than 2.8. “Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, belief in a doctor shortage has developed a life of its own,” Mr Birrell said.

His co-author, Mike Moynihan, former president of the Rural Doctors Association of Victoria, said the doctor glut was fuelling frivolous visits. “People are coming in for a sniffle or to get documents signed. On the other hand, doctors are generating repeat visits by requesting tests that aren’t necessary,” he said.

The number of GP visits per person has increased more than 20 per cent over the decade to 5.7, the study shows. The cost of GP visits to Medicare (about one-third of the total cost) is projected to rise by 5 per cent a year over the next 10 years to $12.1bn, according to a Parliamentary Budget Office report. The 2014 commission of audit said health spending was the “commonwealth’s single largest long-run fiscal challenge”.


University suspends hate-filled Marxist

La Trobe University yesterday suspended Safe Schools co-founder Roz Ward, as a former ­member of Victoria’s gay and transgender advisory committee warned the program was untenable because it had been ­hijacked by radical gender theory.

The Australian revealed last week that Ms Ward had called for the “racist Australian flag” at state parliament to be replaced with a “red one”, prompting her to quit her advisory role with the Victorian government and sparking a university investigation.

That investigation resulted in the Marxist Ms Ward’s suspension yesterday for “undermining” public confidence in the program because she continued to push ideologies that were “unrelated”.

A spokesman for La Trobe University said: “We are following our normal HR procures and we will not make any further comment.”

The National Tertiary Education Union said La Trobe had charged Ms Ward with “serious misconduct over media commentary on her private Facebook post”.

NTEU Victorian secretary Colin Long accused the univer­sity of giving in to a “media campaign”, invoking the spectre of the Soviet Union that once incubated the world view Ms Ward has since adopted.

“That La Trobe University has apparently allowed itself to be cowed into participating in this anti-intellectual, anti-democratic attack reflects the dismal state of intellectual capacity at the senior management level in some Australian universities,” Dr Long said. “We are very concerned that La Trobe University management seem to think that political views should be a ­criterion for employment, as was the case in the Soviet Union.”

The NTEU said it “considers that this is discrimination on the basis of political opinion and will be considering all legal avenues of redress”.

Gay rights activist Rob Mitchell — who was sacked from his Victorian government advisory role in 2014, arguing that he lost his job because he was too ­publicly critical of the former Napthine government for its ­inaction on tackling homophobia in schools — now believes Safe Schools has gone too far.

“They are completely out of control,’’ he told The Australian.

The Ballarat farmer was frustrated while on the government advisory committee with the slow rollout of Safe Schools and other anti-homophobia programs and was pushing for more resources and government initi­atives. He said he threatened to make a bumper sticker saying that his boss — then ministerial advisory committee chairwoman Ruth McNair — was undermining the health of young people.

“The tragedy in all this is: when I was agitating for money to be put in anti-homophobia programs, the Safe Schools ­Coalition was what I would call a vanilla anti-homophobia program,’’ he said. “It seems to have been transformed into this queer theory sort of academic-driven lot of bullshit. As part of that process, they have lost their core constituency, which is parents of school kids. It has been completely hijacked, been derailed.”

He said the program needed to be replaced and that La Trobe University was too influential in gay and transgender research.

Mr Mitchell was instrumental in the AFL Players’ Association’s anti-homophobia campaign in 2010. “Safe Schools is now busted. The brand that is Safe Schools is now indelibly linked to this sort of out-there radical queer theory narrative,” he said. “It’s really out there academic theory about how people construct their gender identity. This is all just academic. We didn’t sign up for this.”

He said Safe Schools was meant to be about teaching children some people were gay, some were straight, some were bisexual, and they shouldn’t be abused. “Parents will get behind that and say, ‘I don’t want my kid ­abused at school for any basis’,” he said. “If they stuck to the basics and rolled that out, they might have got a bit of resistance (from right-wing radicals) but that resistance would not have got any traction.”

The Safe Schools Coalition, which is to be compulsory in Victorian secondary state schools by 2018, has been widely criticised by conservatives, particularly for its teachings on gender. Its mat­erial tells teachers not to refer to stud­ents as “boys and girls”, as the terms are “heterosexist”, and pupils­ as young as 11 are encouraged to role-play as gay teenagers. The program teaches that gender is not a binary male-­female stereotype but about “how you feel inside” and “may change over time”.


NSW Independent school students' PISA results a reason for optimism
Students in NSW Independent schools participating in the OECD’s Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) achieve results that rank them among the best-performing school systems in the world, a new analysis of 2012 PISA results (the latest available) has found.

Released today by the AISNSW Institute, the analysis - ‘Academic Achievement in NSW Independent Schools’ - undertaken by Dr Gary Marks of the Australian Catholic University, shows that NSW Independent school students scored significantly higher than the national and state average in the 2012 PISA assessments in mathematical literacy.

Chair of the AISNSW Institute, Bill Daniels, said the analysis demonstrates that a significant part of the Australian schooling system is getting things right in terms of helping students to achieve their best, and also counters widely-held perceptions that the decline in the performance of Australian students in international assessments over the past ten years is uniformly reflected across all school jurisdictions.

"Amid the frequent gloomy assessments focusing on the apparent decline in performance of Australian students relative to other countries, this analysis gives parents reason to be confident that choosing an Independent school education for their child is a decision that will benefit their child”, Mr Daniels said.

The mean scores from the 2012 PISA assessments saw the NSW Independent schools sector ranked competitively with the top Asian countries/jurisdictions and Finland, all of which are frequently cited as benchmarks in international student assessments.

The analysis also delved more deeply into the achievement data, showing that socioeconomic status and family background typically explained only a small part of the variation in student achievement, contrary to common perceptions that these were very strongly linked. Even when adjusted for socioeconomic status, the differences in achievement were still significant.

Mr Daniels said: "The strong performance of students in Independent schools across a range of measures is often dismissed as being the result of wealth. This ignores the fact that two-thirds of Independent schools in NSW have a socioeconomic score in the lower half of the SES scale. The research shows that it is parents’ education levels and the value they place on education, along with school and teacher quality that are the strongest defining factors.”

A two-page summary version and the detailed Research Briefing of Academic Achievement in NSW Independent Schools are attached. Both papers, along with the accompanying Technical Report, are also available at AIS Latest Research.

Press release

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

2 June, 2016

Australia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention

Some Green/Left horror below.  There's nothing "threatened" in Australia any more!  What they are carefully not mentioning is that corals periodically undergo bleaching events and rapidly recover.  So a portrayal of the GBR as bleached would be an unfair depiction of the reef as it usually is.  Most "threatened" natural features stay that way for a long time so it is reasonable to depict them in their threatened state.  But that is not so with the GBR. 

And the claim that the bleaching is the result of "climate change" is false, so putting it into a climate change report would be wrong.  The warming events of late 2015 and early 2016 were contemporaneous with a CO2 STASIS.  Below are the CO2 levels at Cape Grim for the relevant period.  The first two columns give month and year and the 5th column gives CO2 levels.  So NO PART of the warming events at that time were due to a rise in CO2.  They were all due to El Nino

All mentions of Australia were removed from the final version of a Unesco report on climate change and world heritage sites after the Australian government objected on the grounds it could impact on tourism

Every reference to Australia was scrubbed from the final version of a major UN report on climate change after the Australian government intervened, objecting that the information could harm tourism.

Guardian Australia can reveal the report “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”, which Unesco jointly published with the United Nations environment program and the Union of Concerned Scientists on Friday, initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as small sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

But when the Australian Department of Environment saw a draft of the report, it objected, and every mention of Australia was removed by Unesco. Will Steffen, one of the scientific reviewers of the axed section on the reef, said Australia’s move was reminiscent of “the old Soviet Union”.

No sections about any other country were removed from the report. The removals left Australia as the only inhabited continent on the planet with no mentions.

Explaining the decision to object to the report, a spokesperson for the environment department told Guardian Australia: “Recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism.”

As a result of climate change combined with weather phenomena, the Great Barrier Reef is in the midst of the worst crisis in recorded history. Unusually warm water has caused 93% of the reefs along the 2,300km site to experience bleaching. In the northern most pristine part, scientists think half the coral might have died.

The omission was “frankly astounding,” Steffen said. [What would be astounding would be if Steffen told the full truth about global warming]


David Morrison wants Australians to stop saying gender-based terms like 'guys'

What the f*** are we supposed to say?

Australian of the Year and former Army chief David Morrison says the term "guys" should no longer be used in workplaces.

The retired Lieutenant General is today launching a new Diversity Council Australia video which aims to crack down on language which excludes minority groups.

"Exclusive language, gender-based language or inappropriate language, has as much a deleterious or disadvantaged effect as something where you're saying something blatantly inappropriate to another human being," General Morrison told ABC News Breakfast.

He said he was not trying to become the "language police" by supporting the new campaign, and expected to be criticised for the idea.

The #WordsAtWork campaign video depicts a group of women rolling their eyes at being called "girls" by a male colleague.

"All the campaign is doing is saying look, it's a proven fact that more inclusive [and] more diverse workforces create real diversity of thinking and are more productive, more effective," General Morrison said.

"And one of the ways that you can engender that type of environment is being careful about how you speak to other people, talking to them with respect and listening to their views with respect."

General Morrison said he was now trying to personally stop using the word "guys" when speaking to groups of people.

"I have now removed that from my lexicon as best I can, I think it's important."

However, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop cautioned against interfering with freedom of speech.

Ms Bishop said words such as "guys" were generic enough they should not cause offence.

"I don't think we should try and interfere with the freedom of speech in this country to a point where people are too concerned about day-to-day conversations," she said.



Four current articles below

NSW: Protester awarded $13,400 after police officer made up charge at Martin Place rally

Did you ever see such a goon as officer Wasko?  Wasko is a Polish name.  Poles must be deeply ashamed of him

Several NSW Police officers have been savaged in court for allegedly grabbing the breasts and neck of an anti-Reclaim Australia protester, then covering their actions up by deleting evidence, making up a false charge against her, lying under oath and attacking her in court.

Simone Renae White, 41, a social worker, attended Martin Place last July for a counter rally to the Reclaim Australia demonstration.

She was arrested by Senior Constable John Wasko who alleged Ms White had assaulted him in the execution of his duty.

He said that, as a line of police were shepherding a line of protesters through Martin Place, Ms White turned back at him with her elbow up.

However, after a year-long court battle, a magistrate has thrown out the charge and taken the unusual step of forcing the police to pay Ms White's legal costs because their arrest, investigation and subsequent prosecution were so improper.

Ms White said that one police officer had groped her breasts and another, Senior Constable Wasko, had grabbed her neck as they walked behind her.

She turned around to take a photo of the officer who she believed had indecently assaulted her by grabbing her breasts.

However, Senior Constable Wasko grabbed and arrested her. Her phone was taken by another officer who appeared to delete the photo, magistrate Geoffrey Bradd found in the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday.

The police case against Ms White relied entirely on Senior Constable Wasko's testimony and contained no footage from CCTV cameras in Martin Place nor police officers who were filming the rally.

When Ms White's legal team subpoenaed police for the footage, it showed Ms White being pushed and shoved in the back by Senior Constable Wasko as the protesters walked through Martin Place.

The footage showed Ms White taking a photo of an officer on her phone, proving that her evidence was deleted by police.

She is seen holding a water bottle in one hand, making the allegation of raising her elbow at Senior Constable Wasko "inconsistent", Mr Bradd found.

The alleged indecent assault was not captured on camera but Mr Bradd said "the evidence strongly indicates" it happened.  Medical records showed bruising on her breasts and neck pain.

When Ms White gave evidence during a hearing, a prosecutor repeatedly accused her of lying.

Her barrister, Phillip Boulten, SC, told the court on Tuesday that police had "escaped any form of investigation for perverting the course of justice".

"The only reason why [the photo] would be deleted would be to make it more difficult for the complainant to say something in court," he said.

Mr Bradd ruled that the investigation was "unreasonable and improper" and ordered the police to pay her $13,400 in legal costs.

Outside court, Ms White said she was just relieved it was over.

Her solicitor, Lydia Shelly, said police treated a protester as a criminal.

"The court confirmed today that my client is not a criminal. It has taken her nearly 12 months of litigation to prove that," she said.

"This decision sends a very clear message to the police. It is not a criminal offence to protest nor is it an offence to film police if you are not hindering their duties. The NSW public expect more from NSW Police."

A NSW Police spokeswoman said: "The outcome of the case is noted; the circumstances surrounding the incident will be reviewed."


Qld.: Civil liberties boss Terry O’Gorman calls for inquiry in to Surfers Paradise police basement bashing

CIVIL liberties crusader Terry O’Gorman will ask the Crime and Corruption Commission launch a complete inquiry into the infamous basement bashing at Surfers Paradise police station.

Mr O’Gorman implored the peak watchdog to review the case last year but now wants a complete reinvestigation after details emerged of Police Commissioner Ian Stewart’s personal relationship with one of the officers involved who escaped sanction.

Mr Stewart has confirmed he is related through marriage to former senior sergeant Dave Joachim, who was seen in video footage washing away a pool of blood during the 2012 bashing of chef Noa Begic.

Mr Stewart said he was distantly related to Mr Joachim and had removed himself from the investigation to ensure impartiality.

The Courier-Mail does not suggest Mr Stewart acted improperly or used any influence to affect the outcome of the investigation into Mr Joachim and three other officers involved in the scandal.

Mr O’Gorman, president of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties, wants the CCC to investigate whether Mr Stewart played any role in the investigation or the decision to press charges against Sergeant Rick Flori, who now stands accused of leaking the video to The Courier-Mail.  “It adds yet another nail in the coffin to the whole handling of this matter,” he said.

Mr O’Gorman said he would write to the CCC with his request as early as this week.

Meanwhile, Police Minister Bill Byrne said yesterday he was “confident” Mr Stewart had handled the matter correctly. “I have been advised that the Commissioner, who was Deputy Commissioner at the time, excluded himself from the investigation,” he said.

Mr Joachim retired before findings in the investigation were released and his file was closed with no further action.

Last week Sgt Flori was committed to stand trial on charges of misconduct in office.


Qld. Busy schedule for controversial Gold Coast cop Chris Hurley

Big goon Hurley. He is over 2 metres tall.  An Aborigine, Mulrunji, died on the floor of a police cell on Palm Island after some conflict with Hurley.  Hurley appears to have dropped his big knee onto the Aborigine, splitting his liver and killing him.  Hurley's demeanor after he realized the man was dead showed that he knew that it was his doing -- but after a very flawed police investigation, his mates got him off a murder charge.  He appears to have learnt nothing - confident that he will always escape justice

CONTROVERSIAL cop Chris Hurley faces five separate court hearings in coming months, after a magistrate set a trial timetable for multiple charges against the Gold Coast officer.

Senior-Sergeant Hurley was charged with two counts of common assault in March over an alleged altercation with a female officer at Robina Town Centre late last year, and during the arrest of a motorist at Robina in November 2013.

He was suspended from duty last December over charges unrelated to his job. He had already been stood down in May over a wild chase in which police allegedly opened fire on a getaway car containing two violent armed robbers.

The charge related to the alleged assault on the motorist has been set down for a four-day hearing in August.

Southport magistrate Colin Strofield today set down an October hearing for the other common assault charge, and November trial dates for the other three charges which do not relate to his job as a police officer.

Mr Strofield said he would not be able to hear the cases ‘given my past life’. He is a former Queensland Police Service solicitor.

Queensland Police Union lawyers are representing Sen-Sgt Hurley on the assault charge involving the motorist but are no longer acting for him on the other charges.

He has launched separate Supreme Court action to have his pay reinstated after it was revoked by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart following Sen-Sgt Hurley’s suspension.

Sen-Sgt Hurley was the officer at the centre of the 2004 Palm Island death in custody. He was acquitted of manslaughter over the death of Palm Island man Cameron ‘Mulrunji’ Doomadgee, whose demise in the island’s police watch-house triggered wild riots.


S. Australia: Election candidate for Makin Mark Aldridge to sue police over gun raid

A FEDERAL election candidate in Adelaide’s north says he will sue SA Police for $500,000 over its bungled handling of a firearms raid on his home.

A Police Ombudsman report, released this month, found there was no “reasonable basis” for officers to pursue a gun charge against independent candidate for Makin Mark Aldridge.

Officers attended Mr Aldridge’s Penfield Gardens home in May 2013 and cautioned him for having three insecure rifles.

A day later, on the instructions of a senior officer, police returned and confiscated the rifles and two pistols, reporting him for failing to secure his weapons.  The rifles were stored in a locked cellar. The pistols were in a safe.

Police dropped the case in May 2014 because Mr Aldridge would likely successfully argue his cellar acted as a “strong room” for his weapons. Mr Aldridge complained to Police Ombudsman Michael Grant.

Police inspected Mr Aldridge’s firearms based on allegations he had threatened RSPCA officers during a separate incident. The RSPCA never lodged a complaint with police and Mr Aldridge denied the allegations.

Mr Grant said police had no “reasonable basis” to seize the firearms or grounds to suspect Mr Aldridge was “an undue danger”.

His report showed a sergeant justified the seizure by saying officers may have suspected Mr Aldridge was not a fit and proper person to have guns, he made a false statement on his 2013 gun licence renewal and may be a threat to public safety. All reasons were found to be baseless.

Mr Grant considered the arrest warrant should not have been issued but that any negligence by SAPOL officers in relation to that warrant was not sufficient to amount to misconduct.  He recommended the sergeant receive “managerial guidance”.

Mr Aldridge said he would sue the government for $500,000.  “It’s just going to change how officers treat people, which I’m glad about,” he said.

A police spokeswoman said the Ombudsman’s recommendations had been implemented.


1 June, 2016

A self-inflicted death by crocodile

To go swimming late at night in an area famous for crocodiles and full of warning signs about them, that is truly a self-inflicted death -- for which little sympathy is appropriate.  Reading between the lines, she was probably drunk at the time.  In any case it was a Darwinian end.  Nature deals with maladaptive behaviour.

Pebbles Hooper got into trouble for referring to death from folly as "natural selection", so it will be amusing to see if my note here will get any reaction.  I think that what Pebbles said was a reasonable comment  -- but obviously too dispassionate for many. 

Do we always have to pity folly?  Can we not sometimes speak of it objectively?  Unless we can, there will undoubtedly be more of it

Pebbles Hooper

A woman who went missing after she was taken by a crocodile during a late-night swim was on holiday to celebrate the end of her childhood friend's cancer battle.

Cindy Waldron, 46, was swimming with her friend, Leeann Mitchell, at Daintree, north of Cairns, about 10pm on Sunday.

Ms Mitchell, from Cairns, had just completed a bout of chemotherapy and Ms Waldron, from Lithgow in New South Wales' east, was in north Queensland to support her friend, the New Zealand Herald reported.  There are crocodile warning signs on the side of the Daintree River near where the attack took place

Following the attack, federal MP Warren Entsch said the attack must not spark a hysterical debate about crocodile management in his electorate.

'You can't legislate against human stupidity,' he told AAP on Monday.

'This is a tragedy but it was avoidable. There are warning signs everywhere up there.'

'People have to have some level of responsibility for their own actions.'


Safe Schools funding lost if offensive Commo stays

One of the most influential backers of the Safe Schools program has threatened to withdraw future financial support, unless the founder of the program, hard-line Marxist Roz Ward, steps down over her comments denigrating the Australian flag.

Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett yesterday called for Ms Ward to resign from the role, saying her “extreme political views” rendered her “ineligible to be involved in any program …. in schools”. Mr Kennett, whose charity has provided almost $600,000 over the past two years to La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, which administers the Safe Schools program in Victoria, added: “You don’t want extremists in there. Her behaviour and her statement clearly indicate a belief which goes well beyond the conditions of which I am prepared to have this subject taught in schools.”

While Ms Ward’s Marxist leanings have been a matter of public record for some time, last week’s post to Facebook, in which she called for the “racist Australian flag” to be replaced with the red ensign favoured by socialists, appears to have been a step too far for her supporters within Victoria’s Labor government.

Ms Ward was forced to resign from a state government education advisory role as a result, while La Trobe University announced an investigation into her role as manager of Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, which is funded by the state government.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday called for Ms Ward to step down from the national steering committee for Safe Schools Coalition Australia, which has recently severed ties with the Victorian branch.

“Given Ms Ward saw it fit to resign from her appointment with the Victorian government, I would expect that she do likewise for any remaining role associated with the National Safe Schools program,” Senator Birmingham said. “Her extreme views have done a grave disservice to this program and are anathema to the vast majority of Australians.”

The Australian understands that Ms Ward’s role on the steering committee has come under scrutiny in recent months, with several members approaching chairman Anne Mitchell to discuss her “ongoing involvement in the program”.

The approaches stemmed from “concerns that Ms Ward’s activities had unnecessarily politicised the program” and reports about her, sources said.

The British-born academic has become the face of Safe Schools, an anti-bullying program geared at gay and transgender youth, which has been criticised for promoting the idea that gender and sexuality is a “social construct” rather than biological.

Ms Ward, who did not respond to requests to comment yesterday, has previously admitted that the program was about gender and sexual diversity, rather than preventing bullying, and has spoken at public events about Safe Schools being part of a strategy to change society.

Mr Kennett said that while he could not speak for his entire board, he could not personally support funding further research conducted by the university if Ms Ward continued to be involved.  “As chairman of the board I would oppose and argue against funding any research of which she was a contributing researcher,” Mr Kennett said.  “She has done so much ­damage to the cause it’s difficult to accept.”

According to ARCSHS’s latest financial report, Beyondblue contributed $166,000 last year and $413,000 the year before, largely to fund research into mental health and the LGTBI community.

The La Trobe research centre received more than $1m in funding from the Victorian government last year — about one-fifth of its overall budget — of which $272,700 was to administer Safe Schools.

The government recently announced that it would kick in a further $200,000 to $300,000 a year to plug the funding shortfall left by the federal government, which has ordered that the program be overhauled, including a ban from primary schools, opt-out rights for parents and the severance of links with controversial third-party groups.

That is in addition to a further $1m announced in the state budget for the compulsory roll out of the program across all Victorian secondary schools.

Australian of the Year finalist and transgender military officer Catherine McGregor, who recently revealed she turned down an invitation to be an ambassador to the program, said Ms Ward’s position should be terminated. 

“She shouldn’t even have to be asked,” Ms McGregor said.  “Her reputation has become a menace to what has the potential to be a good program.”

Victoria’s opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling joined calls for Ms Ward to resign, saying her position was “untenable”.


Australian wind farm companies going broke

In the hard-hitting Danish docu-drama, Follow the Money, the Armani suited executives of Energreen play a game of cat and mouse with the Fraud Squad, pumping up the value of their wind farm ‘assets’, while erasing anything from their books that investors might reasonably conclude were liabilities. Some viewers might call it ‘creative accounting’, others good old-fashioned ‘fraud’.

The apparent purpose of Energreen’s book keeping shenanigans is to lure in a steady stream of gullible investors to keep the whole circus afloat, long enough for those at the top of the Pyramid to line their pockets and set up bolt-holes in Brazil (or any other sunny place without an extradition treaty).

In terms of duping creditors and investors Energreen’s on-screen exploits aren’t that far from the truth. Wind back the clock on the story of Australia’s most notorious wind power outfit, Infigen and its ‘Phoenix’ rising start and the parallels are uncanny.

In 2009 Infigen magically emerged from the ashes of Babcock & Brown (which took creditors and investors for a lazy $10 billion).  Despite its ashen origins Infigen hardly set the world on fire, managing to destroy $millions in shareholder value, in a matter of months.

Drowning in debt, it was forced by its financiers to offload its US wind farm ‘assets’ in a fire sale last year.  Hoping to pocket over $500 million from that sale, it collected a little over half that – adding further to its balance sheet’s woes.

It then went on to lose another $304 million last year – blaming its dwindling revenue on, of all things, the WIND!  That dismal result took its total losses to a lazy $448 million, since 2011.

However, for all the delusional confidence exuded by Miles George & Co about Infigen and its wind power ‘assets’, it seems that its owners are hell-bent on getting out before yet another Ponzi scheme collapses. 

Much more HERE  (See the original for links & graphics)

The Brazen Left’s Bid to Kill Quadrant

One by one, the institutions have been colonised and brought to heel: the press, schools, universities, public broadcasters, even police and armed forces. That same agenda demanded Quadrant's independent voice be defunded and silenced. It cannot be allowed to happen, but we need your help

The Australia Council’s decision to not approve the funding application of Quadrant — the nation’s oldest and leading conservative magazine of ideas and opinions — is a sign of the increasingly intolerant times. From Safe Schools to The Greens’ unholy war on religious freedom, the cultural space conservatives are being permitted to operate within is being shrunk to enforce politically correct conformity.

There is debate about the merits of public funding of the arts and letters, but that is separate to the issue of even-handed distribution of funding free of political bias.

The decision to leave the Quadrant bereft of taxpayer-support for the first time in 60 years is a grossly politicised act. It is designed to try to eliminate one of the few cultural institutions that allows dissenters to challenge Leftist thinking — despite a genuine contest of ideas being essential, or else the quality of the national debate and the resulting political and policy outcomes will suffer.

The breeding ground of the new intolerance is, of course, the universities, through which the Left has long marched and captured since the 1970s. Humanities academics across all fields present themselves as champions of diversity in everything from race to gender. But the vast majority have no time for the kind of diversity that really matters in a democratic society — political diversity.

They also like to think of themselves as pluralistic, and as critical and reflective thinkers open to new and challenging ideas. But in these circles, daring to think for oneself, to question the prevailing groupthink, is a recipe for alienation and marginalisation. The political is personal. Deviation from the charmed circled of allegedly enlightened opinion is punished with non-person status — with social and professional death

These attitudes are foreign to the culture of Quadrant and its long track record of discussing taboo subjects and disputing orthodox pieties. While its stance is broadly conservative, Quadrant hardly serves a partisan cheer squad toeing party-political lines. The real focus of the magazine and its website, Quadrant Online, is on collecting and collating heterodoxies across various of subjects. Political ‘purity’ tests therefore don’t apply, which allows for contributions to be made by writers with genuinely diverse perspectives.

Keith Windschuttle: The Australia Council’s Revenge
Take Quadrant’s influence on Indigenous affairs. This isn’t just the magazine that has published Keith Windschuttle’s work on frontier conflict and the Stolen Generations. It also published the pioneering 1994 article The Five Fallacies of Aboriginal Policy by the eminent Australian historian, John Hirst, which initiated the modern debate about the flaws in indigenous policy. Quadrant was also where Noel Pearson’s searing revisionist account of the source and nature of Indigenous disadvantage was published.

The stock standard Left view is that Indigenous disadvantage persists in Australia due to the failure to address the legacy of racism dating back to the original sins of colonisation. If we believe this, then the answer to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage is achieving symbolic reconciliation via the Recognition and Treaty movements. But this gets history the wrong way round. The true sources of the worst Indigenous disadvantage lies in the impact of the policies of Aboriginal Self-Determination of the 1970s. These policies were specifically designed to address the historic wrongs of dispossession by enabling Aborigines to live in the ‘homeland’ communities. But the result has been that these communities have become bywords for the welfare dependence, social dysfunction, and appalling gaps in health and welfare outcomes.

The real answers to Indigenous disadvantage lie in practical reconciliation — and in heeding the central message of the work of the ‘Quadrant school’ of revisionists, which includes not only Hirst and Pearson, but also, among others, Gary Johns, Helen Hughes, Anthony Dillon and Kerryn Pholi.

The broader question to consider: where would the Indigenous debate be if the Left is able — as it wants — to get away with shutting down alternative points of view. The answer is that the wrong solutions to the wrong problems would be pursued, at the expense of the perpetual suffering of the most disadvantaged Indigenous people.

Genuine political diversity is the only way to ensure error is detected and corrected, especially when the stakes are so high for the nation. The de-funding of Quadrant will make the task of correcting Leftist error even harder. Intellectual life in this country must consist of more than just a festival of Lefties talking to themselves in furious agreement.


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

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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Another bit of Australian: Any bad writing or messy anything was once often described as being "like a pakapoo ticket". In origin this phrase refers to a ticket written with Chinese characters - and thus inscrutably confusing to Western eyes. These tickets were part of a Chinese gambling game called "pakapoo".

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

A great Australian wit exemplified

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


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