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

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


31 March, 2014

What a lot of emptyheaded poop!

Leftist critiques  of Australian society rarely bother me.  They are usually about as profound as my heading above. I am speaking up today, however.  Under the heading "Racism is the fault line that runs through Australia", career journalist Warwick McFadyen has written the article below.  It is  an eloquent statement of nothing that serves only to exude hatred of ordinary Australians.

Let me start with the heading.  I know what a fault line is in geology but what is it in a society?  Is it a weakness?  Is it a division?  I suspect that McFadyen means it as a weakness but if he means that, why not say that?  Using "faultline" amounts in the circumstances only to a failed pose of sociological sophistication.

And the rest of the article is similarly insubstantial.  His chief justification for regarding Australia as racist seems to be a snort someone uttered in his presence back in the early '80s.  The snort was a reaction to a lovely comment about Aborigines from McFadyen:  He wondered about the "odds being stacked against them, and wondered how to help them".  That's it!  That's McFadyen's principal basis for declaring Australians racist!  Thou shalt not snort, apparently.

To this day McFadyen appears not to have realized that the snort was most probably as much a reaction to his paternalism as it was  skepticism about "helping" Aborigines.

And skepticism about "helping" Aborigines is well warranted.  Ever since the missionaries were evicted from the management of Aboriginal settlements, just about everything that could be tried has been tried.  Authoritarian attempts to force them into white behaviour patterns has alternated with Rousseauvian fantasies about how we should simply respect a people who are more in harmony with nature than we are. 

And under both approaches Aboriginal behaviour has slid inexorably down the razorblade to a point where  Aboriginal women and children are abused by Aboriginal men on a daily  basis.  People are better behaved in the slums of Bangladesh.

But McFadyen apparently knows best.  He knows how to achieve what no Liberal or Labor government so far has been able to achieve.  The years that have elapsed since that snort have taught him nothing.

McFadyen goes on to evoke the normal Australian reaction to the way township Aborigines behave  and implicitly condemns it.  But he offers no argument why it should be condemned.

He does however finally get to the one episode of "racist" behaviour that Leftists dine out on:  The Cronulla riots, in which young white men from "The Shire" erupted over the arrogant behaviour on their beaches towards young white women by aggressive Lebanese Muslims.  Like all riots it was no triumph of rationality and there was very little organization to it but it was the inevitable result of politically correct policing.  If the Muslims can get away with everything, vigilante reaction will replace proper police action.  But McFadyen tells you none of that.

And, entirely predictably, McFadyen claims that the old "White Australia" policy was abolished by the leftist Whitlam government in 1973.  It was not.  It was abolished by the conservative Holt government in 1966:  "The March 1966 announcement was the watershed in abolishing the 'White Australia' policy" (See here)

McFadyen then dives into the current controversy about "hate speech".  The present conservative Federal government is exploring options for modifying some very draconian hate speech laws enacted by a former Leftist government  Even the eminent Leftist lawyer Julian Burnside QC agrees that the existing laws go too far.  But don't expect McFadyen to tell you that.

If the McFadyen piece had been any more lightweight, it would have floated away.


It was only a snort, a short derisive exhalation of air. But it was enough. I was at a barbecue with friends in Kempsey in NSW. The talk turned to the town's indigenous population. I said something along the lines of the odds being stacked against them, and wondered how to help them. That's when the snort from the acquaintance of a friend entered the conversation, and ended it for me.

This was in the early '80s. I lived there for a couple of years and, in that time, I did not see one indigenous person employed in a job in any business in the town. There may have been. I'd like to be proved wrong. The "Abos" - town jargon had moved on from "boongs" - lived on the edge of town, squandering government money on housing they got for nothing just for being who they were. Useless. When they got handouts, they spent them on grog. They were ungrateful, they trashed houses they got for nothing. They were their own worst enemy.

But the descendants of Europe weren't racists. Just ask them. If you dared. They just saw what they saw, said what they said and believed what they believed. They weren't bigots either. Just ask them. If you dared. Everyone was treated the same, they would have said the colour of the skin didn't matter.

Of course, you can't label an entire town by one epithet. It would be unfair. Prejudiced even. But it was the case that what was unsaid - and bigotry is also silence - assumed the form of an atmosphere in which all breathed and lived. It pervaded life. It shaped words and actions. It allowed bigots to be themselves. It allowed the wordless snort that said everything.

Those people of 30 years ago would be happy to know that this country's attorney-general has blessed their right to be who they were. Senator George Brandis said so in the Senate last week. "People do have the right to be bigots," he told the chamber.

In one sense, of course, the senator is right. No one person, nor government, party or instrumentality should be able to mandate who or what a person wants themselves to be. To do so would be to drill into the core of a person's existence and lobotomise it. They can be bigot, bastard, barbarian - in their own home. That is their right. But outside the front door, concept collides with the real world. Not all people are reasonable, not all people are alert to the consequences of their actions. Voltaire, who may or may not have said I disagree with what you say but I'll defend your right to say it, did say this: "Prejudices are what fools use for reason." How will a reasonable person be adjudged able to judge?

Thirty years on from the snort, surely something, somewhere in the nation has changed? And it has. There has been progress in land rights, steps towards recognition and reconciliation, emergence of indigenous culture into the mainstream and awareness of the breadth and depth of history. But through the journey there has been, and still is, a fault line. It is the fracture that runs through the land, and into it falls all the ugliness of attitude to the otherness of foreigners. We are a brilliant success story of multiculturalism - when it suits. And then Cronulla happens. We march with Michael Long on his Long Walk, and then we gibe and joke at Adam Goodes' expense (and then we make him Australian of the Year).

When the White Australia Policy was given its death blow in 1973 by the Whitlam government, after being chipped away at over the previous two decades, the remnants of the policy didn't vanish, they were merely strewn in little pieces over the ground. An optimist would hope time would wear them into dust. As the political debates, explosions of emotion and argument, set off by Brandis' proposals, again have shown, bigotry, racism and prejudice have gone nowhere. You can't argue with where you are, yet we constantly are at war with ourselves, arguing over which spirit and which place has the greater claim to a kind of proprietary morality.

Brandis' proposal will make it unlawful "for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if the act is reasonably likely to vilify another person or a group of persons; or to intimidate another person or a group of persons, and the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of that person or that group of persons".

Vilify is defined as inciting hatred against a person or group; intimidate means to cause fear of physical harm. The standard will be that of "an ordinary reasonable member" of the community, "not by the standards of any particular group". But then there is this: none of the above applies to "words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in the course of participating in the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter".

What? Has there ever been a greater get-out-of-jail clause?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells his daughter Scout: "First of all, if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

I wonder if the owner of the dismissive exhalation 30 years ago ever considered walking in another man's shoes? I suspect not. We could feel sorry for bigots and say they are incapable of ever doing so. They're entitled to be whoever they want to damn well be. They can say what they like. It's called free speech.

It's also a poison that is carried on the wind across the land into our daily lives.


Act failing to stop black-on-black racism, says Wesley Aird

Former Howard indigenous council member Wesley Aird at his home in Brisbane yesterday. ‘Black, white or brindle, vilification should not be tolerated’. Picture: Jack Tran Source: News Corp Australia
A FORMER member of John Howard’s indigenous advisory council, Wesley Aird, says the current anti-racial vilification regime has done nothing to stop racism within the Aboriginal community.

Throwing his support behind the push to scrap section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, Mr Aird said yesterday the amendments proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis were needed to bring the act into alignment with the "expectations of mainstream Australian society".

"No act of parliament can ever be the panacea to all our ills," Mr Aird said.

"We know Aboriginal leaders don’t all agree on every topic, but Australia is not the sort of country that should put up with two sets or standards of freedom of speech - one for black and one for white. It’s hypocritical and simply not good enough for Aboriginal people to claim to be just victims of race hate while at the same time abusing or bullying each other over a difference of opinion.

"Black, white or brindle, vilification should not be tolerated and the Racial Discrimination Act is plainly not doing its job if elements of the Aboriginal community are free to abuse other Aboriginal people, knowing full well they can get away with it."

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has raised his concerns about the amendments with Senator Brandis and sought legal advice.

Speaking to the Israeli-Australian Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night, Mr O’Farrell said Australia had people who had become internationally notorious as Holocaust deniers. "Anything which allows them to get through the legal hoops without them being touched I will vigorously oppose," he said.

While the federal Coalition is moving to water down federal anti-vilification law, NSW is set to increase the severity of a law that could send people to jail for serious racial vilification.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine yesterday distanced himself from Mr Brandis’s comment that bigots should be allowed to be bigots. Declaring that "Melbourne is the multicultural capital of the world", Dr Napthine said there were economic as well as social advantages in marketing Victoria.

"We want to promote multiculturalism, there is no place for bigotry.

"There is no place for racial vilification, no place for bullying on the basis of race, faith or ethnicity."

Victoria is examining whether any federal law will affect state-based anti-vilification legislation and will submit to the commonwealth that any changes should not affect state law.

Senator Brandis, who has denied he had been forced to water down his proposed amendments, has released draft changes to the Racial Discrimination Act that scrap Section 18C.

The provision makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate other people or groups of people because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

The government would replace Section 18C with provisions making it unlawful to vilify or intimidate others on similar grounds, but there are broad exemptions.

Bill Shorten yesterday seized on comments made by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in The Australian that he was concerned about protecting people from racism to argue there was a split in the government.

"We’re already seeing the dysfunctionality of the Abbott cabinet with leaks from at least four ministers," the Opposition Leader said.

"You’ve got Malcolm Turnbull with his opaque comments that he couldn’t possibly say what he thinks because that would be unhelpful. I say to Malcolm that just keeping silent on these matters doesn’t help anyone, actually."

University of Melbourne law professor Mark McMillan, one of the nine claimants against News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt in the case that sparked the Coalition promise to scrap Section 18c, yesterday said he had not recovered.

"We got death threats, whether they were serious or not, I was accused of being a pedophile, and these were not just responses of Andrew Bolt," Mr McMillan told NITV. "They were responses to the understanding of what Andrew Bolt presented and therein lies the hurt, and I still find it very difficult to move on."


Senator RYAN advocates free speech

Senator RYAN (Victoria—Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education) (16:30): "I have said before that I am a first amendment type of guy. I have long admired the American culture that values freedom of speech as a critical, non-negotiable and—I think even more importantly—virtually un-conditional component of a free society.

Senator Wong talks about people being attacked. I should probably declare at this point that I am a longstanding member and a former research fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs. What we have heard from the other side of this chamber—and from my good friend, Senator Cameron, who has just left—over and over again is the vilification of people merely by virtue of the institute at which they work.

There is a reason why the Greens and the ALP hate the Institute of Public Affairs—it is because it is not part of their public sector mentality. It challenges the precepts that they put up, and it cannot be bowed by the fact that it is not on the public sector drip, the way they wish all civil society was.

What we have just heard from Senator Wong and what we have heard constantly from those opposite, including the Greens, relies on a profound misunderstanding of what our society is. They seem to view our rights, particularly our right to speech and our right to discuss—our right to participate in democracy and in a free flow of ideas—as coming to us via a licence from politicians or judges.

They seem to think that, somehow, the laws in this place determine what we are allowed and not allowed to say. That is a profound misrepresentation of our constitutional and legal history. It is only in recent times that there have been such limits on things like speech. This is a profound fissure in what we view as the role of the state, and what we view as the role of the government and its relationship with the citizens of this country.

Senator Wong accused Senator Brandis of celebrating the rights of bigots. What I will say is that I condemn the bigot, but I celebrate the rights of every citizen. And that is important, because a commitment to freedom of speech only really counts when it is tested. A commitment to freedom of speech only really counts when it comes to defending something you profoundly and viscerally disagree with—and that is where my commitment to free speech lies.

It is not about the public funding of artists. I do not have to fund someone to support their right to say something. There is a profound difference between the allocation of taxpayers’ resources to give someone the right to do something, and the question of whether or not they are allowed to say something. I will defend the right of someone to speak, but that does not entail and should not be confused with the idea that I should resource them to speak.

We have heard the constant complaints of those opposite over the last 48 hours about ethnic community leaders, multicultural community leaders, and their views on this particular proposal. I said at the start that I was a first amendment type of person: I view the proposal put up by the government and Senator Brandis in the exposure draft as a compromise. I accept that my views are not typical of all those in this place, or indeed all those in this country, in supporting a very strong and almost unlimited commitment to freedom of speech.

The problem I have is that those opposite seem to see us as a nation of tribes; as a nation where self-declared leaders of communities—communities defined by race—should somehow should have a special place in the consideration of legislation that any other Australian citizen should not.

Every Australian’s view has an equal standing in this place—every Australian’s view, no matter what community they declare themselves to be from; whether it be one or many; and whether or not they declare themselves to be leaders of communities. The elected bodies in this country are the elected representatives of the Australian people. We don’t believe in a corporatist society, or in one where there are a series of tribes where, somehow, some people have more rights than others.

The ALP and the Greens seek to define this as a debate about racism when it is not. It is a debate profoundly about speech, its limits, and the role of governments, politicians and judges in limiting the rights of our fellow citizens to express ideas. How is it our role to empower certain people in Australia, in this case judges under the current law, to determine whether another opinion is arrived at or expressed in good faith? That is the current provision in section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.

What happened to Andrew Bolt was that a court said that his opinion was not expressed in good faith. It did not just ban the expression of that opinion; it banned its re-publication. It had to declare an Orwellian moment—that it never happened.

The point being that, of all those in this place, it was once the centre and the left of Australian politics who campaigned against censorship, yet it is the left of Australian politics who are now its greatest advocates.

Those opposite are confused between legality and licence. To not make activities illegal is not to approve of them. The great problem with speech being banned is it denies people—community leaders, as Senator Wong pointed out, and people like me, you, and others in this chamber; it denies us the opportunity to repudiate.

Some speech should be repudiated. Some speech should be humiliated. Some speech should be ridiculed. But by banning it, it goes underground. In this technological world, where we cannot control the sources of news, that threat is even greater than when these laws were first passed just under two decades ago.

Those opposite confuse this with defamation law. It is an attempt to fudge the point, because defamation law often deals with issues and imputations of fact, not opinion. But this law can ban opinion. They ask why we are concerned that one journalist who they say is powerful had their opinion banned. I say, the idea that a court said that an article had to be stripped from a major newspaper’s website, and banned the expression of an opinion, is something we should all be concerned about. I remember the days when we would all have been concerned about that.

The most extreme left-wing activist lawyer in the United States’s ACLU would not tolerate this legislation. It shows how far the Labor Party and the Greens have moved from respect for basic individual rights for this law to even be considered, to say nothing of the laws proposed by the former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon which were going to expand the grounds for legal action of one citizen against another to an almost limitless number. Again, she confused our role of setting the boundaries as to what is illegal with regulating and proscribing the expression of opinion and expression of ideas.

I am proud to say I know Andrew Bolt. I would not necessarily describe him as a friend, only because I do not know him that well. The vilification to which he has been subjected by the professional left in this country over the last two years and the use of the law to ban him from expressing his opinion has been unprecedented. It is unprecedented in Australia to ban people from expressing political opinions. I know Andrew, and he does not have a racist bone in his body. But those opposite who disagree seek to use the law to suppress his views.

More harm was done to the views of those who oppose racism by this case and the ruling by Justice Bromberg that a member of the victim group shall be the standard by which racism is measured. So there was no arbitrary test that any Australian could be certain of to know when their opinion would be legal and when it would not be legal.

More damage was done by the professional left activists and the legal censors who think it is their right to regulate speech in Australia. While I have always opposed these laws, they were not on the public agenda until for the first time the court was going to ban the expression of opinion. We were going to censor newspapers—and we did, because republication of Andrew Bolt’s views was banned.

I was invited a couple of years ago to give a speech to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry on this point. I know Colin Rubenstein and Jeremy Jones. I know their work against racism is profound. I know they have done a lot of good work, but I respectfully disagree with them on these laws.

I cannot recount all of my reasons in the time available today. But one is that in places where these laws exist, particularly in the old world of Europe where there are speech codes, there are things such as, for example, the armoured personnel carriers that I saw outside the new synagogue in Berlin just over a decade ago. They are the places with all the racial problems.

It is the new world—such as Canada, which has recently repealed some of these laws, Australia, New Zealand and the United States—which has provided a home, refuge and sanctuary for people from all around the world. In particular, the communities that have been oppressed in those countries of Europe have often found refuge in the country with the freest speech on earth—and that is the United States. I have faith in my fellow citizens that we will debate and come to the right resolution. Those opposite, sadly, do not. I do not know where it went."

That is a very powerful speech by our good friend Scott Ryan (Liberal Senator for Victoria).

I find it quite ironic that the opposition and the media have been challenging the government to name any community leader who has come out in favour of the changes to 18c. It seems to me that the leadership of the largest Australian community group has done just that. The elected government of the Commonwealth of Australia is the leadership of the largest community group in the country – also the only community group that actually enjoys widespread legitimacy.


Julian Burnside QC gets something right

Prominent human rights lawyer and asylum seeker advocate Julian Burnside says existing racial discrimination laws go too far by making it an offence to upset people.

The federal government wants to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and remove prohibitions on public discussion and commentary that offends, insults or humiliates individuals or groups because of their race or ethnicity.

"The mere fact that you insult or offend someone probably should not, of itself, give rise to legal liability," Mr Burnside told AAP on Saturday.

"My personal view is that 18C probably reached a bit far so a bit of fine-tuning would probably be OK.

"The idea that speech `which insults a group' is arguably going too far."

Mr Burnside argued that Aboriginal academics would have been better off pursuing a libel case against conservative columnist Andrew Bolt, who in 2011 was prosecuted under the Racial Discrimination Act for suggesting "fair-skinned people" of diverse ancestry had chosen an indigenous identity for political and career reasons.

"The plaintiffs in that case could very easily have sued for libel and they would have won on the facts found by the judge," Mr Burnside said.

"The fact is they wanted to make a clear point that they were not suing in order to get money but to get vindication."

But Mr Burnside is not in favour of completely repealing section 18C, arguing Attorney-General George Brandis had made an error by suggesting in parliament that people had a right to be bigots, as part of free speech.

"It was very unfortunate that Senator Brandis ... in fact gave the green light to bigotry," he said.

"I don't think we should tolerate or encourage bigotry in the community."


Anger as number of criminals recruited to NSW Police increases

NSW Police recruited criminals who had notched up 414 convictions before they entered the force, including 40 cases of stealing, 20 cases of break, enter and steal, more than 100  drink-driving offences, plus fraud and dishonesty.

Figures obtained under freedom of information laws reveal that 595 offences were committed by 437 police officers, or about one in 40 police still on active duty. Of those offences, 70 per cent were committed before they were employed as police officers. 

There are well over 100 high range PCAs, there are more high range PCA than low level PCA.

The figures put pressure on Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, who has said that most convictions by serving officers were for low-range drink-driving and similar offences.

Former police officer Richard McDonald, who obtained the figures, said it was "just unfathomable you can let police in who have convictions for serious offences, including fraud, break and enter, drug offences and firearms". 

He said the number of police with convictions had risen almost 250 per cent since 2008, although police numbers had only increased 6 per cent.

Of the 260 drink-driving offences recorded by police, including those by senior officers on the force and those committed pre-employment, 202 were medium or high range.

"NSW Police has been recruiting criminals found guilty of serious offences," Mr McDonald said. "That’s why the number of offences has gone up. This flies in the face of [Mr Scipione’s] claim that most are low-range drink-driving offences."

Mr Scipione has stood by his statement on Saturday that the majority of convictions "were for a low-range PCA [prescribed concentration of alcohol] or similar offence".  

"While I’m not happy about that [convictions by police officers], I don’t believe these warrant the end of a police career," he said.

However, of the 260 drink-driving offences, only 58 were low range. Of those, 52 were committed before employment as police officers. 

Of the 174 drink-driving offences recorded by officers before they were employed by the police, 118 were for medium or high range.

Of the 35 drink-driving offences by senior constables, 32 were in the medium or high range.  Six serving sergeants committed high or medium drink-driving offences.

Other offences recorded by senior police include five cases of assault occasioning bodily harm, one case of common assault and several convictions for providing false information. Mr Scipione said the recruitment process, which had been strengthened in 2009, involved a range of checks.

On its website, the NSW Police Recruitment branch says it conducts a review of any criminal history information of any potential recruits.


30 March, 2014

PROTECT YOUR KIDS FROM THIS MAGGOT... because Magistrate Saines won't

Larry Pickering

Geelong Magistrate Ron Saines has just thrown out all charges against this Afghan illegal immigrant. Police had claimed he attempted to kidnap a 4 year-old girl by snatching her from her father and brother.

Convicted paedophile, Ali Jaffari (pictured) was allowed to walk free by Magistrate Saines although the repeat offender is certain to resume his sexual addiction to children.

Ali Jaffari was also found guilty last year of child molestation.

Magistrate Saines said he had "trouble" finding Jaffari guilty of the kidnapping charge due to "cultural differences". And those differences could very well be legally considered a "mitigating factor" in his attempt to snatch the little girl.

Magistrate Saines also claimed the case against Jaffari, "fell short of criminality".

According to Police Prosecutor, Sergeant Brooke Shears, Jaffari was loitering at a West Geelong cricket park where a 4-year-old girl was accompanied by her father and brother.

Sgt Shears testified that, when the father wasn’t looking, Jaffari grabbed the child who began began screaming when she realised it wasn’t her father.

Sgt Shears went on to testify that:

The little girl’s father heard his daughter’s screams and turned to see Jaffari hauling her away. The father then yelled at Jaffari, "What do you think you’re doing?" The girl escaped and ran to her father while Jaffari simply walked off.

When apprehended, Jaffari informed police of his cultural view on children: "For us it is not an issue", he said.

Jaffari had been found guilty last August, in the same Geelong courthouse, for indecent assault on a young boy and an attempted indecent assault on another.

After being found guilty of these earlier offences, Jaffari was ordered to comply with a "two-year Community Corrections Order" and to perform community work.

It seems Australian magistrates have more respect for the paedophile cultures of illegal Islamic immigrants than they do for our innocent kids.

I wonder what Magistrate Saines will sentence this degenerate Muslim germ to when he not only rapes, but murders, his next 4 year-old victim.

More community service maybe?


O frabjous joy in Tasmania

Greenies decimated

The Tasmanian Greens are divided over how the party should be run.

Re-elected MP Kim Booth has questioned whether his party needs a leader now it has lost two of its five seats.

Greens leader Nick McKim says he wants to stay on in the role, but will spill the leadership once the state election results are finalised.

Mr Booth says he will meet Mr McKim and Denison Greens MP Cassy O'Connor to work through the matter.

"Effectively you need a leader when you've got a larger team...I'm quite comfortable actually not having a leader," he said.

"We'll just be able to represent our communities and get on without the job and doing what we're elected to do."

The leadership question comes as the Greens look set to lose their status as a parliamentary party.

Mr Booth has taken the fifth seat in Bass, pushing out former Labor Attorney-General Brian Wightman.

The win confirms there will only be three Greens in the new Parliament, which means it could lose its party status and extra funding that comes with it.

The party's Lyons MP Tim Morris has been edged out in the sprawling rural seat by Labor stalwart and former minister David Llewellyn.

Mr Morris says the loss of parliamentary party status would be a blow to the Greens.

"That will be reasonably significant for the party and the way that it operates in the Parliament," he said.

"Yes, that's disappointing but that's what the voters have chosen," he said.

Mr Booth says it is humbling that he will now start his fourth term in Parliament.

"I'm certainly looking forward to getting on with the work that's ahead of me, but it will be an interesting Parliament, that's for sure," he said.

"The Liberals have a got a huge responsibility now to try and look after the economy of the state, they've spent the last four years throwing rocks and being particularly negative."


Brisbane is one of the world’s ugly cities says philosopher Alain de Botton

Funny that there are over a million people who like living in Brisbane.  Philosophers are well known for eccentric opinions.  If you look at the cities he favours, they all have a lot of nice old buildings.  Brisbane has few of those.  So his criteria would seem simplistic

BRISBANE has been singled out as one of the ugliest cities in the world, and an example of "chaotic ugliness", says one of the world’s leading philosophers.

UK writer and television presenter Alain de Botton, known for making philosophy accessible to audiences around the world, has singled out the Australian city for abuse in his latest musings.

"No one looks at the waterfront of Brisbane, the capital of the Australian state of Queensland, and feels deeply moved by the grace and sweetness of the scene," de Botton says in post on his website The Philosophers’ Mail .

"While most people find the centre of Paris wonderful and others will delight in the winding streets of Siena, no one on the planet responds deeply to the brutal cross city expressway and chunky stained brown office blocks of the city."

The problem, de Botton says, is that people have accepted that everyone will have different views of what is beautiful or ugly.

"We have talked ourselves into the belief that taste is always relative," de Botton says.  "So even though almost everyone on the planet thinks that either Siena or Paris is delightful and everyone thinks that Brisbane is a bit of a mess, we don’t dare to speak."

But a problem possibly unbeknown to de Botton - is that he used a photograph of Ipswich to illustrate how ugly Brisbane is.

The Swiss-born de Botton is in Brisbane for a talk about his latest book about the media.

In a tweet, de Botton linked to his story with the comment "why Brisbane is the ugliest city in Australia" but has since deleted this as well as a Facebook post that said the same thing.

His article has divided the public with many agreeing but many others defending the city.

However, de Botton also offered solutions. He said planning restrictions in Brisbane focused on health and safety issues such as the distance between street lights, or how tall a building should be, but nothing about whether it should be beautiful, noble, grand or elegant.

"People who have no interest whatsoever in making any city even remotely beautiful or dignified can get away with some truly terrible construction projects free of any fear of being criticised," he said.  "And that’s how modern Brisbane comes to look the way it does."

De Botton, who has written a book called The Architecture of Happiness, said that cities which were beautiful like Siena, Paris, Bath and Edinburgh, all had one thing in common.

"In each case the planners in the past hit upon a pretty good basic model and imposed it widely. It wasn’t the same model. But they were all good enough.

"But in Brisbane - and a lot of other modern cities - there was a fatal refusal to select any model at all. So the result is chaotic ugliness - which no one likes."

But is it that bad? Italian photographer Dario Cali’s timelapse of Brisbane released earlier this week shows the river city in a very different light.

Not only that, hipsters don’t seem to be put off by the city’s looks either, with Lonely Planet describing Brisbane as Australia’s coolest metropolis and GQ Magazine saying it was experiencing a renaissance of coolness.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has also jumped to the city’s defence.

"GQ Magazine and Lonely Planet got it right when they said that Brisbane is the ‘hippest’ city in Australia," Cr Quirk said.

"Brisbane truly is one of the few cities in the world that has everything. We’ve got great weather, enviable green spaces, lively bars and restaurants, world-class art galleries and premier events."

He said Brisbane was Australia’s New World City.  "And with the G20 later this year our city will be showcased as it becomes the capital of the world for a week.

"As a city we are distinctively proud of what we are and optimistic about our future.


Union thuggery on Queensland construction sites must be stopped, says Fair Work Building and Construction boss

HEAVY-handed union action is out of control in Queensland and the "rule of law" must be re-established, the head of Fair Work Building and Construction says.

The state has become the worst jurisdiction in Australia for unauthorised industrial action and "union thuggery", overtaking Victoria and WA.

But FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss has declared a sweeping crackdown in Queensland, including recruiting more staff, getting them out from behind desks and on to construction sites as well as naming and shaming union officials who try to enter worksites without permits.

The industrial watchdog has 26 open investigations, including 21 into alleged dodgy action by unions. This compares to just three investigations current in Perth.

Investigations include the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre redevelopment site, where CFMEU members were recently banned by the Fair Work Commission from strike action for five months for unauthorised industrial action, as well as 300 workers walking off a significant Sunshine Coast building site two weeks ago.

Mr Hadgkiss, who served as deputy commissioner with the former Australian Building and Construction Commission until 2008, was appointed by the Abbott Government last October to head the FWBC. He said he had grave concerns about union activities and strike action in Queensland but more staff and inspectors were being recruited and would drag contractors and union officials who breached the rules before the Fair Work Commission.

"We need arms and legs on building sites, visibility, rather than sitting in offices," he said. "I’d much rather see them on building sites, fighting fire with fire as it were."

Mr Hadgkiss said the agency would start uploading to its websites the names and photos of union officials who try to enter construction sites but do not have a valid right-of-entry permit.

"If they do not have a permit as such, they are a trespasser," he said. "Contractors have a right to know who has a legitimate right to be there."

He said Queensland was the worst jurisdiction for unlawful industrial conduct, particularly around abuse of right of entry for "safety" reasons, coercion, intimidation and no respect for freedom of association.

"I’m talking about head contractors standing over subcontractors, forcing them to have a union agreement, throwing off honest workers because they refuse to join. We’re investigating that on a daily basis in Queensland."

Cold cases shut down by the previous FWBC administration are also expected to be reopened.

Master Builders Association construction policy director John Crittall said "Queensland is experiencing one of the worst periods of unlawful conduct in the past 30 years" and he welcomed the new investigative focus of the FWBC.


28 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks there will be more revelations of union corruption yet


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is appalled by the high salary of the Qld. Premier.


This article by the outspoken Larry Pickering was also posted on Facebook.  Facebook took it down. Larry comments: "The article on free speech has been removed by Facebook in response to organised Left rabble.  It seems ironic that if one dares put the case for free speech over a person’s right "not to be offended", the reasoned argument is deleted.  I understand why so many cartoons have been deleted but to delete an article that pleads the case for free speech highlights exactly the problem we face with Section 18C. of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Greens and Labor’s Left dream of the perfect egalitarian PC world where no-one is offended by anything and everyone sleeps in the same conjugal bed. Well, that’s not the way it works, fellas, and it’s you lot that have made an art form of offending people.

No-one can agree with racial vilification, although we all come across it, but this debate is inane and widens, rather than closes, "the gap".

Only a fool believes you could legislate to determine a degree of personal offence. Is "whitie c..." less racially offensive than, "boong"? Is "gwailo" (white ghost) more racially offensive than "chink"? Is "wog" racially offensive to a southern European when he refers to himself as a wog?

The terms, "Pom", "Kiwi", "Newfie", "Yank", "Jap", "Coon", "Abo", "Chink", "Wetback", "Fuzzy Wuzzy", "Raghead" are all racially based, but which is legally racial bigotry? All, none or some?

What about "Shortarse" ,"Fatso" and "Freckles"? Are they less or more offensive?

Those terms, and hundreds of others, will always be used, sometimes affectionately and sometimes not. It depends on how they are used, how well you know the person and in what context.

There is no law that can decide "offence"! And there is no law that can determine one’s legitimate or feigned degree of offence.

In the 1970s Labor tried to outlaw the term "Wog", but unfortunately "Pom" and "Kiwi" were caught in the same legislative net, it was duly ignored.

Let’s not kid ourselves, existing law is all about Aborigines. But Aborigines are as guilty as we are of racially discriminatory remarks, at least in my experience. Reverse racism is rampant wherever Aborigines reside in numbers.

I have been forced to drink my beer in a "Whitie" section but you can bet the reverse would be unacceptable.

    The current law is malleable, interpretive and requires racial discrimination by the courts themselves in order to enforce it.

PM Abbott’s proposed changes to current legislation will place "free speech" above what an individual might perceive as "offensive". And "free speech" should win that battle every time.

Andrew Bolt was legally vilified for discussing "white Aborigines" and how they use a nominated ethnicity for financial advantage.

Okay, Bolt got a few facts wrong but he was right to say this is happening and right to ask is it fair.

Legally you are not required to prove you are of Aboriginal descent, that's "offensive", you need only to declare you are, and you can then join an entitlement queue that heavily favours Aborigines.

Is that fair to those who legitimately depend on social services?

This racial anomaly is what Andrew Bolt was debating, yet it was deemed illegal for him to do so, much to "white Aborigines'" delight.

Free speech was what our forefathers fought for, it’s a jewel in our Aussie ethic. No Labor/Green Lefty or Aboriginal activist should be allowed to take it from us and we want it back!


Govt to proceed with Medibank sale

THE Abbott government will go ahead with the sale of health insurer Medibank Private as it attempts to heal the budget.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says an independently-prepared scoping study into the planned sale has reaffirmed the government's long-held view that there is no compelling reason for it to own a private health fund.

The sale will be conducted in the 2014/15 financial year, but the precise timing and structure of the initial public offering are yet to be determined.

"The scoping study found no evidence that premiums will increase as a result of the sale," Senator Cormann told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

He was coy on what the government hoped to raise from the privatisation, but it has been previously valued at around $4 billion.

Further details will be announced in the May 13 budget.

Gross debt would be 40 per cent lower in 2023/24 than forecast by the government in the mid-year budget review and the budget would be $34 billion in surplus that year, rather than a $12 billion deficit, according to the analysis.

Mr Hockey insists his budget numbers tell the truth and "Labor's didn't".

He ridiculed the suggestion that if the coalition had kept to Labor's budget rules the budget would be coming back to surplus.

"The problem is that Labor never kept to their budget rules," he told an exceptionally rowdy parliamentary question time.

He reminded the house yet again that on more than 300 occasions Labor had promised to deliver a surplus, but they never did.

"They have no economic credibility, they got every single number wrong and they left the Australian people to pick up the bill from a very bad Labor government," he said.

Separate modelling suggests there would need to be $55 billion worth of savings in 2023/24 alone to achieve a surplus.


Pressure on cattlemen to be "sustainable"

They already are

SENATOR Ron Boswell has attacked the power of environmentalists to damage the prosperity of regional communities.

In a speech in the Senate today, Senator Boswell warned cattle producers to closely examine a campaign to force them to prove their environmental sustainability.

"The apparent growing power of environmental non-government organisations and corporations raises fundamental questions about the future role of government, science and rational resource management in Australian primary production," he said.

Senator Boswell foreshadowed a Senate inquiry to examine the implications of an international campaign to develop sustainability criteria for beef production.

"This goes to the very essence of not simply who is running the Australian beef industry but who is running the country," Senator Boswell said.

"Who determines how our primary industries are managed and how they are administered? Who decides how our resources are utilised and where they are marketed? Who determines the prosperity of our communities, our industries and our nation? Those are questions that must be answered.

"I believe this issue should be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport. Before I do that, I will discuss this further with my colleague, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce."

Senator Boswell said indications were that meeting basic sustainability criteria could cost Australia’s 77,000 cattle properties some $135 million in fees in the first year.

"I do not want to see Australian farming families burdened with more cost and more paperwork and more unnecessary environmental obligations to keep WWF in business and provide a marketing point-of-difference for the likes of McDonald’s," he said.

Senator Boswell was referring to the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), established by WWF and McDonald’s.

"On March 17, the GRSB published a document called the ‘Draft Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef’, which potentially could shape how Australian cattle producers are allowed to operate in years to come.

"We can call witnesses to the inquiry from the main players. We can thoroughly examine who will bear the cost of this sustainability scheme and who will enjoy the benefits.

"We can investigate what the implications are for rural and regional communities that depend on cattle and other primary production. Also the implications for Australia’s trade sovereignty and its ability to freely trade in primary products, products we already know to be sustainable."

Via email from Sen. Boswell

Why feminists should support childcare deregulation

 The Abbott Government is examining childcare regulation as part of its 'cutting red tape' agenda.

We can't keep hoping that higher subsidies will cancel out the rising cost of childcare red tape - that's why we should support deregulation in the name of gender equity, writes Trisha Jha.

It used to be petrol prices and housing affordability, but the new 'BBQ stopper' occupying the minds and hip-pockets of ordinary Australians is childcare affordability and accessibility.

Fees for long day care have increased 4 per cent a year in real terms over the last decade, and demand is still unmet across service types in many areas. Despite the previous Labor government increasing fee subsidies and funding the establishment of new services, it is still difficult for parents to procure an affordable childcare place and solutions must be found elsewhere.

The Abbott Government is examining childcare regulation as part of its 'cutting red tape' agenda, alongside its Productivity Commission review of the childcare system. Advocates for childcare access should embrace this decision to consider deregulating the sector.

The benefits to women and to wider society through increased work participation and a broader tax base are many. Women, feminist organisations (such as the Women's Electoral Lobby Australia and the National Foundation for Australian Women), professional organisations and the business community all recognise that access to affordable childcare reduces barriers to employment. Employment is key to women's financial independence, and has benefits such as the means to leave negative or abusive relationships and an increased lifetime superannuation accumulation.

It is for these reasons that childcare subsidies were introduced in the 1980s, and is for these reasons that the problem of childcare access is worth investigating.

So what exactly is wrong with our childcare system? The short answer: the government.

The principal culprit is regulation, primarily through the objective of increasing the quality of services. While it may seem like a good thing at first glance, 'quality' in this context is not about health, hygiene and safety, and nor is it about children in care being happy and safe.

Instead, the federal and state compact that governs the majority of childcare services, the National Quality Framework (NQF), involves increasing reporting requirements, mandating a minimum standard for staff qualifications and lower staff-to-child ratios. These are allegedly markers of quality childcare.

A particular loser from these regulations is community and family day care (FDC). The pursuit of qualifications turns carers into educators, and limits who can run a legitimate FDC service. Competition is shut out as the costs of regulation are absorbed by larger, amalgamated providers while smaller care providers are unable to easily absorb the costs and may shut down. Reducing services in areas that may already be experiencing shortages negatively impacts both accessibility and affordability for women and their families, making deregulation in this area worthy of concern for feminists.

The costs of regulation are passed on to families through higher fees and on to the government through increased reliance on fee subsidies. A COAG report estimated that from 2009 to 2019, the additional costs of the NQF would be $1.6 billion in real (inflation-adjusted) terms, about 50 per cent of which would be borne by families. Childcare will become more unaffordable as well as inaccessible, mostly to the detriment of women.

Growth in costs has occurred, in part, due to the childcare industry, which has campaigned for quality assurances and accreditation processes. It has been accepted without complaint by comfortable and well-off parents who support the quality agenda. Prices have been pushed up for everyone by those who could afford to pay for bells and whistles, while low- and lower-middle-income earners have lost out.

Families seeking flexibility and choice have also lost out. Paperwork that detracts from supervision of children - as many submissions from providers to the Productivity Commission inquiry attest - is surely the opposite of the quality most parents would want for their children. Moreover, regulatory constraints on supply (which local councils also influence through planning and zoning restrictions) have resulted in a decline of care services like FDC. More stringent minimum standards for FDC mean parents have less options when entrusting their child into care and, often, inconvenient and expensive long day care becomes the only option.

Not having access to childcare also has regressive impacts. Higher-income women can keep up more easily with the costs of childcare, while lower-income women find that it costs too much to go back to work and bear the brunt of the resulting inequities, especially in the event of family breakdown.

The grim truth is that the childcare sector is a classic case of regulatory capture, where larger players such as Early Childhood Australia and Goodstart Early Learning shape the regulations that govern the industry. The prevalence of fee subsidies guarantees money from the government ($4.7 billion in 2012-13) and has given providers a certain degree of immunity to the usual rules of supply and demand.

For a long time, the debate over childcare affordability and availability has involved advocating higher subsidies and increased levels of regulation simultaneously, hoping the two will cancel each other out and supply will be unaffected. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Those who advocate for childcare access in the name of gender equity and feminism must decide whether they want to support the interests of providers, or the interests of their fellow working women


27 March, 2014

George Brandis rolled on changes to Racial Discrimination Act

Federal cabinet forced George Brandis to soften his original proposal to loosen constraints on racist insults and hate speech.

In a lengthy cabinet meeting on Monday night - and amid growing backbench concerns - Senator Brandis watered down his proposals for changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Attorney-General was instead obliged to settle for only a draft exposure bill. This allows the government position to remain fluid and community groups to react. The changes proposed to the act in an exposure draft on release to the government party room on Tuesday contained a weakening of Senator Brandis' original proposals.

The outcome represented what one minister described as a compromise between the conservative and moderate factions. One minister said: "George has really drunk the right-wing Kool-Aid."

Another minister said Mr Brandis' original proposal was "much worse" than the agreed text and he had been forced to back down. A third minister present at the meeting said the original bill had been "terrible".

Asked if the cabinet had forced the change from a bill to an exposure draft, that minister said "things are evolving all the time" and that the exposure draft still "needs to be changed quite substantially".

The exposure draft released has proposed section 18C, which makes it unlawful for someone to act in a manner likely to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" someone because of their race or ethnicity, would be repealed while section 18D, which provides protections for freedom of speech, will be removed and replaced by a new section.

The changes remove the words "offend, insult and humiliate", leave in "intimidate" and adds the word "vilify" for the first time.

But a  passage  in the exposure draft that exempts words and images "in public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter", has attracted a storm of criticism for being too broad and weakening current protections.

Fairfax Media can also reveal that members of a government legal affairs backbench committee that examined the bill had flagged the need for changes to the bill and for additional consultation.

"Normally these things get rubber stamped," an MP familiar with the process said. "I can't see [the exposure draft] surviving in its current form. And I've got no doubt the legislation will be much better."

Several MPs told Fairfax that indigenous MP Ken Wyatt's warning in the party room two Tuesdays ago that he could cross the floor if changes were not made had been a significant turning point in the development of the legislation.

Aside from Mr Wyatt, Coalition MPs including Victorians  Sarah Henderson and Jason Wood have raised concerns about the changes to the act with Senator Brandis.

A second backbench MP said the proposed changes to the Act, which were prompted by a 2011 legal case involving  News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt, had been "going fine until George made his bigot comment, which completely inflamed the situation".

Senator Brandis  said this week that "people do have a right to be bigots, you know."

The government has promised to consult on the exposure draft of the bill until April 30. A spokesman for Senator Brandis declined to comment on cabinet discussions.


Give people right to free speech, says Sue Gordon

INDIGENOUS leader Sue Gordon, the retired magistrate who led the Northern Territory intervention, has backed the Abbott government’s changes to racial discrimination laws, arguing the suppression of racism only makes it worse, driving it underground.

The former head of John Howard’s indigenous council has taken a very different view from Warren Mundine, the head of Tony Abbott’s indigenous council, who yesterday told The Australian the race changes were outrageous and retrograde.

Dr Gordon said the repression of free speech was damaging to race relations and she agreed with Attorney-General George Brandis that people had the right to be bigots. "I think sometimes there is too much emotion in this topic and people need to just look at it calmly," she said.

"I agree with what Brandis said. People do have a right in this country, you can’t suppress everything."

Dr Gordon was backed by Anthony Dillon, a researcher at the Australian Catholic University who identifies as a part-Aboriginal Australian. In an article in The Australian today, he writes that political correctness has gone overboard.

"Political correctness, with regard to people who identify as Aboriginal Australians, has reached the ridiculous stage where one can be accused of being racist simply by questioning the motives of some people who identify as being Aboriginal," Mr Dillon says.

The comments came as debate raged over the Abbott government’s proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act.

Senator Brandis has released a draft of proposed changes that scrap Section 18C, the provision which makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate other people or groups of people because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

The move has won crucial crossbench support in the new Senate to sit from July 1, with key players flagging they are prepared to back changes to the government’s Racial Discrimination Act.

As Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said she did not believe "there’s anyone in Australia who agrees" with the changes, senators-elect Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm revealed they supported moves to protect free speech. However, the parliament’s first indigenous female MP, Senator Nova Peris yesterday condemned Senator Brandis for saying "people had the right to be bigots".

But Dr Gordon said it was "the nature of the country that we have". "We are not a communist country, we have free speech and if we start picking things off to suppress individuals, well it gets worse it goes more underground," she said. Without free speech people just "take to social media and make it worse".

"This has got nothing to do with Andrew Bolt’s case, his article was quite inflammatory, but he was expressing an opinion which a lot of people have suppressed themselves So these things still exist," Dr Gordon said.

"I just don’t like the idea of suppressing our country even further. I know people will be cross at me saying that but you have to stand back and look at things with a bit of a clear vision."

She said racism was always going to rear its ugly head.  "There will always be a class of people who will promote and continue racism," she said. "I mean you just have to look at the march for March, that is one of the classic examples."

Fraser government minister for Aboriginal affairs and founding co-chairman of Reconciliation Australia, Fred Chaney, said the government was making a mistake.

"I hope the government will heed the views of the indigenous, Jewish and other communities who daily live with the brutal realities of racism," the 72-year-old former Australian of the Year said.

"It is difficult for well-educated Anglo Australians of whom I am one to comprehend the realities minorities face on a daily basis. At every stage of my life I have witnessed the destructive impact of the abuse of free speech on vulnerable people. Government should be cautious about licensing overt bigotry".


Electoral committee push for mandatory business votes in City of Sydney elections

Get rid of the Green fruitcake

Businesses in the City of Sydney would be forced to vote in council elections under recommendations by a parliamentary inquiry that threaten the primacy of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore.

A joint committee into electoral matters, dominated by Coalition and Shooters Party MPs, pushed for the measure in a draft report obtained by Fairfax Media.

The report says the government should adopt the model used by the City of Melbourne in which landlords, business owners, corporations and other non-residents must vote in council elections. The report said the model should also be considered for other council areas with sizeable economic centres such as Newcastle, Wollongong and Parramatta.

Presently in the City of Sydney, non-residents can choose to vote, but their enrolment lapses after each election and participation rates are poor. Businesses are often unaware they have voting rights.

If the model was adopted in Sydney, it would mean a flood of new business electors at the 2016 council poll, potentially boosting the conservative vote and shrinking support for Cr Moore and her progressive agenda.

The City of Sydney says there are about 80,000 individuals and businesses eligible for the non-residential roll. However just 1700 were enrolled at the last council election, compared to about 100,000 residential voters.

Under the Melbourne model, a business owner is entitled to two votes and the landlord of their building also gets two votes.

Someone who is both a resident and business owner cannot vote twice.

The council consists of four independents aligned to Cr Moore, a Greens and a Labor councillor, plus two Liberals and a business-leaning independent.

The inquiry, chaired by Liberal MP Gareth Ward, said the council derives almost 80 per cent of ratepayer revenue from business and their electoral participation should be increased.

The concept already has Liberal Party support. NSW Liberal Party state director Mark Needham told the inquiry that the "collapse" of non-resident voter rates across the state, particularly in the City of Sydney, had "effectively disenfranchised an important voting community". He called for compulsory non-resident enrolment.

Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe said the council "works well with business" but added "business is so important in the income of the city that it should be a stronger voice on the council".

Opponents such as the Greens say business groups have enough sway over local affairs and only residents should be allowed to vote.

Cr Moore said the council spent $215,000 last year on an awareness campaign encouraging businesses to vote. She said the Melbourne model would be costly to administer and potentially inaccurate, and people who are not Australian citizens would be allowed to vote.

Mr Ward said rather than spending money encouraging non-residents to vote, there was an argument for making business voting compulsory. The committee is due to finalise its report on Thursday.


Left live in their own bubble

The official biographies of the background of the federal member for Franklin, Julie Collins, are sketchy. The ALP website, for instance, says merely that she "completed a Business Administration Certificate at TAFE before taking on numerous administrative roles from the age of 16". Those various roles, including personal assistant, were mainly for Labor politicians in Hobart. Now she is shadow minister for regional development and local government in the federal Parliament.

Anyone watching the proceedings of Parliament on Wednesday, during which Collins was thrown out by the speaker for impersonating a schoolgirl chortling and sledging in class, may be struck by the way the political class is increasingly divorced from reality. It applies to all parties but is stark in the current insular model of the ALP, which lost last year's federal election, just lost office in Tasmania, just lost its majority in South Australia, was smashed in the last NSW election, was smashed in the last Queensland election and lost office in the last Victorian election. It even lost its majority in the ACT in 2012.

It's been the same for the Greens, with a series of heavy defeats in federal, state and local government elections, including a disaster in one of its strongholds, Canberra, where it lost three of its four seats in the 2012 ACT Legislative Assembly elections.

Yet none of these clear messages from the electorate appears to have made a scintilla of difference to either of the parties pummelled by the voters. We know they care deeply about losing, because Labor and the Greens desperately need control of the public sector to service their bases, but it appears increasingly and depressingly obvious they are terminally inward-looking, and preoccupied with tactical skirmishing and scorched earth rejectionism.

What is encouraging this divorce from the consequences of their actions is the echo chamber created by social media. We are constantly being told the "mainstream media" is doomed and will eventually be destroyed by an insurrection on social media.

This, too, is divorced from reality because while newspapers are navigating a turbulent shift in their business models, the major mastheads are attracting more readers than ever before, thanks to the same forces causing the turbulence. According to the latest industry figures, The Sydney Morning Herald has the largest total audience of any masthead in Australia, with 4.8 million readers a month across print, web, tablet and mobile. Subscriptions of the major Fairfax mastheads - from people who pay for the print, online or tablet editions - are growing robustly and are at or near record levels.

Yet there is incessant noise that the major media is being pushed to the sidelines. What may be happening is that people are increasingly existing in their own info-bubbles, having set filters for news and views with which they are in furious agreement.

Here, too, the tenor of politics is going backwards. The street-marchers on the left complained last week that the mainstream media basically ignored their "march in March", but the major media have never been interested in student politics or the collective personality disorders of the permanently enraged political fringe.

Some politicians play to this fringe, now that it is so easy to do via Facebook and Twitter. On Monday, my column ran under the headline "King of the trolls", referring to the Greens Senator from Western Australia, Scott Ludlam.

The great thing about trolls is they have no sense of irony. They can never, ever see the bigotry in their own shrillness. Occasionally I like to remind the trolls they are cowardly anonymous scum or tell the angry ants they have anger-management issues.


26 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG criticizes the obscenity of the Left

Dianne Trussell and human mating

I knew Dianne Trussell over a quarter of a century ago.  I was her  landlord for a while.  And she was into diving -- with airtanks and other diving stuff prominent among her possessions.  She was happy and optimistic in a fixed-smile, brittle sort of way.

I could see where she was going wrong then but said nothing.  But perhaps now I should say something.

Psychologists have been interested in human relationships for a long time and they have converged on a "trading" view of relationships.  Each partner brings to the relationship something of equal value.  The value will be subjective but is nonetheless real.  The subjective does matter.

And the valued items are very upsetting for those who believe in romance.  Both males and females value physical things highly. Women are particularly fixated on height.  Few women will tolerate their man being shorter than them. This is particularly bad for short men -- making their prospects of offering value to a woman very poor.  So many short men will end up going to  the Republic of the Philippines for brides -- because Filipinas  are usually only 5' or 5"1" tall.

There is one group of women who value the physical above all else  -- Chinese women living in the Western world.  Australia is about 5% Chinese so one sees a lot of Chinese ladies about the place.  And if the lady is attached to a man, he will normally be a Caucasian man  -- a TALL Caucasian man.  If you see one with a Chinese man, he will be a TALL Chinese man.  So lots of unremarkable Australian men get devoted wives that way.  Chinese ladies will put up with a lot in order to get tall fathers for their children.  They know how genetics works and they think ahead.

Men are slightly less rigid.  They look for an hourglass figure in a woman but insecure men will accept a relatively flat-chested woman because they don't like other men looking at her.

But the whole process often grinds to a halt because individuals overestimate the value of what they offer.  There are skinny, gangly, flat-chested  women who think that their own wonderful self is sufficient to interest a man.  So they aim for high value men -- good looking, competent men.  But such men are not interested in them.  Such men can get a much higher value woman -- probably one with a good figure.  So the woman concerned wonders:  "Where are all the men?"  And they keep up that misjudgement into their 30s, by which time most of the good-deal men of their age and circle are married off.

I remember a singles party for people in their 40s and 50s that I once went to.  I was talking to a lady who said:  "Where are all the men?"  I pointed out that there was actually a majority of nen present. She replied: "No, not THOSE men".  She was looking for men much younger than herself.

And I think Dianne Trussell was one woman who valued herself too highly.  She was mixing with divers  -- who would generally be very fit and confident men.  And such men would have a lot to offer and would want a woman with a good figure.  But Diane was flat-chested.  So she would have sparked only fleeting interest from the men she mixed with.  She was fairly tall so could have got herself a short man but her value of herself was too high for that.  Short men will have almost any tall woman who will have them.  They know how genetics works too.

I gather it is the selfsame Dianne who now does alternative things down at Byron Bay.  Alternative things are a way of coping with the fact that you are not getting what you want in life.

I knew she was fishing in the wrong pool all those years ago and it has always bothered me that I said nothing to her about it.

Backlash over George Brandis' racial discrimination repeal

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a storm of protest from religious and ethnic groups, human rights organisations and sections of his own backbench over sweeping changes to race-hate laws which have pleased right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt.

Under changes proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful for someone to act in a manner likely to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" someone because of their race or ethnicity, would be repealed.

Section 18D, which provides protections for freedom of speech, will also be removed and replaced by a section that removes the words "offend, insult and humiliate", leaves "intimidate" and adds the word "vilify" for the first time. Sections 18B and 18E would also be repealed. They include provisions that can make employers liable for race-hate speech

On Tuesday, Mr Abbott argued the changes were designed to give the "red light" to bigotry and strengthen free-speech protections, but several Liberal MPs, human rights lawyers and ethnic groups were concerned about an extraordinarily broad exemption contained in the exposure draft regarding public discussion.

"What the government is attempting to do, as carefully, as collegially and as consultatively as we can, is to get the balance right," Mr Abbott told Parliament. "This is draft legislation which has gone out for consultation with the community."

Liberal MPs Sarah Henderson and Jason Wood added their voices to growing concern among Coalition MPs during the government's party room meeting.

Liberal MPs David Coleman and Craig Laundy, who represent electorates with a high proportion of multicultural constituents have previously flagged concerns, as has indigenous MP Ken Wyatt, who warned he could cross the floor over the issue. Mr Wyatt has since softened his position.

One Coalition MP said Senator Brandis' proposed changes were sensible, but admitted MPs were aware political opinion was turning against the Coalition with another 30 days of public consultation ahead.

"This is turning into a mess, Labor now has six weeks to throw bombs and marginal seat holders are getting nervous," the MP said.

Labor, the Greens and ethnic groups all criticised Senator Brandis' "public discussion" exemption, while the Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs argued the exemption was "so broad it is difficult to see any circumstances in public that these protections would apply".

The commission will make a detailed submission and questioned why the "intimidation" provision would be limited to physical intimidation and would not cover psychological or emotional damage.

Labor's legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus accused the government of giving a "green light to bigotry" and asked Mr Abbott to name a single community group that supported the changes. Mr Abbott was unable to name a group.

The changes would not pass through the current Senate and will struggle to get through the new Senate, which forms on July 1. Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer said his party, which will share the balance of power, had yet to decide its view.

Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein, lashed the changes for removing "any protection against public insults and humiliation on the grounds of race".

"To pass the amendments as they stand would risk emboldening racists," he said.

News Corp columnist Bolt, whose 2011 legal case prompted the changes, said he thought the Abbott government had done the right thing. The proposals, he said, should "permit us to ban what is truly wicked while leaving us free to punish the rest with the safest sanction of all - our free speech".


Senate votes to block mining tax repeal legislation

The Senate has rejected the Federal Government's push to repeal the mining tax.

The legislation to abolish the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) was defeated 35 votes to 32.

The Lower House passed the legislation in November, but it had not been expected to pass the Senate which is controlled by Labor and the Greens until the changeover in July.

Before the bill was rejected, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann reminded the chamber of the upcoming West Australian Senate election.

"Today the people of Western Australia will have the opportunity to observe who in this Senate stands up for the best interests of the great state of Western Australia and who in this Senate continues to persist with trying to impose anti-West Australian taxes," he said.

But Greens leader Christine Milne says the repeal would have served mining companies, but not the people of Australia.

"The Greens will never allow the Abbott Government to boost the profits of a few at the expense of measures that benefit so many and are vital for our future economic success," she said in a statement.

"The Greens' position on the mining tax has never wavered. We want a mining tax in the form it was recommended by the Henry tax review. We believe that instead of repealing it at the behest of big business, this tax should be strengthened.

"Voters in Western Australia have an important role to play in keeping a strong Greens voice in the Senate, to stand up against Mr Abbott's short-sighted favours to the big end of town."

The MRRT came into effect in July last year, collecting 22.5 per cent on the profits of iron ore and coal producers - which has so far come to billions of dollars less than first estimated.

The MRRT was the result of a compromise between the then-Gillard government and miners, who fought the introduction of its precursor, Kevin Rudd's Resource Super Profits Tax.

Treasurer Joe Hockey used Question Time to make fun of the tax.

"In 100 years' time when tax classes are taught at university, they'll go back and say: 'Mr Professor, what was the worst tax that was ever designed?'," he said.

"And the professor will respond: 'It was the five versions of the mining tax'."


Craig Thomson: Former Labor MP sentenced for defrauding Health Services Union

Former federal Labor MP Craig Thomson has been granted bail pending an appeal against his three-month jail term for defrauding the Health Services Union (HSU) of more than $24,000.

Thomson launched an immediate appeal after Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg sentenced him to 12 months' jail, with nine months suspended, on 65 dishonesty charges.

Mr Rozencwajg said the former national secretary of the HSU and federal member for Dobell had shown "arrogance in the extreme" and a "breach of trust of the highest order" in misusing members' funds.

He said it did not matter that Thomson had used the money to pay for sexual services, but that highlighted the "selfish personal ends for which the offences were committed". He was convinced greed was the motive.

He said Thomson had committed the offences well aware that the procedures at the HSU meant it was highly unlikely he would be held accountable.

"In fact, accountability in the national office of the HSU is not something I saw much of in the evidence led before this court," he said.

"For this blatant dishonesty to continue on a regular basis over a period of years says much about the lack of accountability.

"This, no doubt, accounts for the flagrant and insouciant manner in which these offences were committed by you."

Mr Rozencwajg said Thomson had shown no remorse, and that led him to conclude that a term of immediate imprisonment was the only option.

Thomson was taken into custody straight after being sentenced and spent a short time in the court cells before getting bail. His appeal will be heard on November 24.

After being bailed, Thomson continued to maintain his innocence, saying there had been no admissions in his case.  "Today wasn't what we was looking for in terms of where this is," he said.

"I've always maintained I'm not guilty in relation to the charges that I've been convicted of, which is why we've appealed.

"I look forward to going ahead in terms of this appeal. It is inappropriate for me or for anyone else - be they media commentators or even parliamentarians - to be making comment in relation to this matter while it continues to be before the courts."

Thomson thanked his wife, his ex-wife and supporters. "I'm now going to leave you and spend some time with wife and my lawyers, in that order," he said.

In sentencing, Mr Rozencwajg said he had taken into account the defence's argument that Thomson had already lost his career and would never work in the public sector or politics again and had suffered public humiliation as a result of "intrusive" media coverage which he believed to be unparalleled.

"It is true that, to a limited extent, this is something you have brought upon yourself by engaging with the media in an attempt to convince them and the Australian public of your innocence in these matters," the magistrate said.

"No doubt this intense media focus is rooted in political machination as well as an attraction for the salacious.

"It may, however, be said that the loss of one's career in such circumstances stems directly from the trust that reposed in you; a trust which you have breached by the commission of these offences."

Thomson has also been ordered to repay the HSU nearly $25,000.

Chris Brown, the acting national president of the HSU, is pleased Thomson got a custodial sentence.

"We've been waiting over seven years to have Mr Thomson brought to account," he said. "I think Thomson definitely deserves to pay this price.

"He's only going to be in jail for three months but I think that, along with the other costs that he's had to bear as a result of this, I think would be a deterrent to anyone."

Union whistleblower Marco Bolano is also pleased with the sentence.

"The only comment I'll make on the sentence is that I think yet again Craig Thomson has been reckless in regard to his appeal," he said.

"He could get a stiffer sentence. He may very well get a stiffer sentence. That's between him and his lawyers."

HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson says there will not be closure until the royal commission into union corruption has completed its work.

"This is about justice for all working men and women across the nation not just the Health Services Union," she said.

"We took these allegations to police and we were persecuted for it."

However, there was further evidence of the infighting which continues to rock the union with a small group of members waving placards reading "members demand jail time".

Last month Thomson was found guilty of misusing his HSU credit card over a five-year period.

He was convicted of using union funds to pay for sex workers, flights for his wife and hotel stays, make cash withdrawals and buy items such as cigarettes and firewood.

After the guilty verdict was handed down, Mr Rozencwajg acknowledged some grey areas defining what constituted business use, but said it would be an affront to common sense to think the card could be used to pay for sexual services.

Meanwhile, in a character reference submitted to Melbourne Magistrates Court, Thomson's wife Zoe said her husband was a good man who was sorry for the hurt he had caused.


KNIGHTS and dames are being reintroduced to the Order of Australia honours list

Tony Abbott said the first two to receive the titles would be outgoing Governor-General Quentin Bryce and her successor Peter Cosgrove, who takes up the vice-regal office on Friday.  Up to four knights or dames will be appointed each year.

"My intention is that this new award will go to those who have accepted public office rather than sought it; and who can never, by virtue of the office they have held, entirely return to private life," the Prime Minister said.

"This special recognition may be extended to Australians of `extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit’ in their service to Australia or to humanity at large.

"I believe this is an important grace note in our national life."

Henceforth, Mr Abbott said, the serving governor-general will be the principal knight or dame in the Order of Australia.

Mr Abbott said Dame Quentin and Sir Peter had been happy to accept the honours.

He said all future governors-general would receive the honour, adding dignity and stature to it.

Mr Abbott did not say if former governors-general would receive the honour.

He did not rule out politicians becoming a knight or dame, saying he didn’t want to pre-empt who may be considered worthy of the honour.

Mr Abbott defended his decision to return to honours not used in Australia for 28 years, saying they would enhance the dignity of the existing system.

"I don’t think it’s really any surprise," he said.

Knights and dames of the Order of Australia were created by the Fraser Coalition government in 1976, but scrapped by the Hawke Labor government in 1986. During that period 12 knights and two dames were appointed.

The Prime Minister said the Queen had approved his recommendation to amend the Letters Patent constituting the Order of Australia.

The chairman of the Order of Australia Council will be consulted on any such recommendation.

Mr Abbott said the change would not affect existing companions, officers or members of the Order of Australia.

New Zealand had allowed existing Companions in the Order of New Zealand to convert to knighthoods, but this would not happen with the Australian changes, he said.


25 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is cynical about the sudden retirement of a prominent unionist

Parents cheat 85% of childcare centres: survey

Fees have got very steep because of the costs of complying with ever more government regulation

Parents have cheated 85 per cent of childcare centres nationally by "centre hopping" without paying their bills, even though they still claim the 50 per cent federal government childcare subsidy.

A survey of 700 childcare operators by industry website CareforKids found two-thirds of centres used debt collectors to chase parents. One centre reported it was $600,000 out of pocket.

Childcare centres want parents who do not pay their bills to be blacklisted, and are calling on the federal government to pay the childcare rebate direct to the centres to eliminate potential fraud.

Australian Childcare Alliance president Gwynn Bridge said bad debts were growing as childcare became unaffordable.

"The debts are really increasing," Ms Bridge said. "It seems families aren't coping financially. It's right across Australia."

Childcare fees have risen 7 per cent a year in the past decade, more than double the rate of inflation. Fees are now up to $170 a day in some Sydney suburbs.

"The cost of childcare has gone up substantially," CareforKids founder Roxanne Elliott said. "Parents are looking to see what they can do, and they're being quite unscrupulous about it."

Australian childcare is among the least affordable in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, with gross fees for a two-year-old in full-time care equal to half the average wage. Only the Netherlands and Ireland are more expensive, while childcare is most affordable in Sweden, accounting for just 5 per cent of the average wage.

The federal government will spend $6.5 billion on childcare this financial year, including $2.4 billion on the childcare rebate and $2.6 billion on childcare benefits.

Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said she was "very sympathetic" to the industry's concerns about bad debts.

"There's no doubt families are doing it tough at the moment, and it doesn't help that childcare fees skyrocketed 50 per cent under Labor, but there's no excuse for parents deliberately ducking their bills," Ms Ley said.

Operators said centre hopping forced services to put up fees for other parents, and was unsettling for the children who were moved from centre to centre. To stamp out the practice, they are calling for a debt register of parents who skip centres without paying their bills.

"Something desperately needs to be done, because in no other industry can you walk away without paying," said one respondent. "It's not fair these people are able to rort the system and get away with it."

But experts said a name-and-shame register would probably contravene privacy laws, and there was too much potential for it to be abused.

The industry wants the government to pay the childcare rebate, which covers the cost of 50 per cent of fees up to $7500, directly to the services instead of to the parents.

Sixty per cent of parents receive the childcare rebate directly, with the balance opting for the payment to go straight to the services.

"Make it compulsory for the childcare rebate to be assigned to the centre involved, so the parents' debt is legitimately offset by CCR and the temptation for parents to pocket the CCR and leave the debt unpaid is removed," another centre operator said in the survey.

The national convener of Australian Community Children's Services, Prue Warrilow, agreed, saying: "If the government changes nothing else, pay the childcare rebate directly to services, so at least the services get some money."

Another suggestion is for centres to ask enrolling parents for a verification from their previous centre that they have no outstanding debts.

Ms Warrilow blamed poor management by the centres for allowing parents to run up large debts, and said centre-hopping was more likely to hit smaller operators, who did not have the credit control systems of the big chains.

"No parent should be able to get behind on fees," she said. "Most centres invoice in advance. I suspect there might be some poor management practices in there."

Parents whose children attend Bunny Cottage childcare at Bexley must pay their fees by direct debit. Owner Sharon Graham introduced the direct-debit policy after "many years of bad debts", with some families running up thousands of dollars in unpaid fees.

Ms Graham said outsourcing the collection of fees to EziPay took the pressure off her as centre director.

"Having to be the money collector as well as the educator was a really difficult juggle," she said. "Outsourcing has made a huge difference in the time I spend chasing fees, and it's more transparent for families."


Why did Paul Howes really quit as Australian Workers’ Union boss?

UNION boss Paul Howes has been unable to shake the image as one of the "faceless men" that installed Julia Gillard in the prime ministership and now his resignation is being painted as just another move from a political manipulator.

The Australian Workers’ Union national secretary has been angry since February when his ideas for a "grand compact" for peace between unions and employers were painted as political manoeuvring.

Mr Howes wanted to cut the ties between the unions and Labor that has existed for 123 years, but the strongest response to his ideas was that he was positioning himself for a jump to a political career.

And the leaking of his resignation from the Australian Workers’ Union won’t do much for his temper. He had planned a controlled release in a day or so but the rumours were flying.

Mr Howes today told Sky News getting into Parliament had never been a priority.  "It has never been my principal motivation," he told David Speers, arguing he’s looking forward to being a "little bit more faceless" for a while.

Mr Howes’ anger was fuelled in February by the broad opinions within the ALP that, after seven years leading the AWU, Mr Howes, at just 32, wanted to cast the dice and his talents at Federal Parliament.

He’d already given that path a try just after the September election in his unsuccessful attempt to replace former Foreign Minister Bob Carr in the Senate.

Mr Howes said his support for same-sex marriage was used by Labor’s NSW right to remove him from the list of contenders.
His over-prominent role in the dumping of Kevin Rudd tagged him — fairly or unfairly — as a political manipulator.

Mr Howes future already had been the focus of speculation after his romantic partnership with Qantas executive Olivia Wirth, soon to become his wife, became public knowledge.

It could be Mr Howes wants a few years earning a better salary. He’s on about $140,000 a year plus a car as AWU leader.

He might want to put some distance between his trade union career and his potential move to politics. His predecessor Bill Shorten is frequently under attack for his past union links, and Mr Howes might wish to prevent being hit by a similar prejudice.

But he genuinely believed in his prescription for economic stability, delivered to the National Press Club, to end the "blood sport" of industrial relations in Australia, and was furious it was all being seen as a career manoeuvre.

It’s a measure of his ambitions that many observers of Mr Howes think he might be up to something, and he hasn’t disappointed with his sudden decision to quit the AWU in July.


Environmentalists take government to court over Barrier Reef plans

Environmentalists will launch court action against the Abbott government and its decision to allow dredging and spoil dumping in Great Barrier Reef waters for the expansion of coal export terminals.

The Mackay Conservation Group, backed by $150,000 raised by activist group GetUp!, will file documents in the Federal Court on Monday challenging the decision on the grounds the government failed its legal obligations to protect a world heritage site by approving the project.

It is the second legal challenge to the proposed Abbot Point development. Last month the North Queensland Conservation Group launched an appeal against a separate decision to allow the dumping of dredge spoil in reef waters by the authority which oversees the marine park protecting the site.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the Abbot Point project in December under strict conditions, including the dredging and dumping of three million tonnes of sludge in the reef's waters to expand coal export terminals.

The Abbot Point development is one of many resource projects proposed for the coast along the Great Barrier Reef. Industrial development and other threats have raised the concern of the World Heritage Committee, which has asked the Australian and Queensland governments to install several measure to better protect the reef or else risk it being considered world heritage "in danger".

The Mackay Conservation Group is challenging the Abbot Point decision through a provision in the national environment laws that allow for a judicial review by the Federal Court of any decision.

Group campaigner Ellen Roberts said the review would be the first test of national environment laws protecting world heritage sites.

"If we are successful then potentially the decision could have implications for other world heritage areas as well," Ms Roberts said.

Brad Fish, chief executive of the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation, said the focus on dredging had taken the debate about the reef's future away from the real issues threatening its survival.

He pointed to an article by University of Central Queensland coral ecologist Alison Jones and marine scientist and consultant Brett Kettle posted on The Conversation that said green groups had wrongly argued dredging and dumping were major threats to the reef.


Experts warned Rudd government its batts rollout was … insane

HOME insulation industry experts warned the Rudd government that rolling out its stimulus program in two years was "insane".

Technical expert James Fricker told the royal commission into the troubled scheme that insulation representatives believed the rollout was too fast to be done safely.

Mr Fricker said those who attended a meeting on February 18, 2009 – just weeks after the scheme’s announcement – advised that the two-year time frame was "insane".

They said it did not allow enough time for new installers to be properly trained, ­exposing them to safety risks including electrocution, falling through plaster ceilings and fire.

Mr Fricker said experts also believed the demand for insulation would exceed the ability of Australian manufacturers to maintain supply and that the rollout was too quick to allow authorities to perform adequate quality checks.

He also told the inquiry that installing foil insulation incorrectly was so dangerous it was like "sitting in a frying pan".

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s home insulation scheme, launched as an economic stimulus measure during the global financial crisis, has been blamed for four deaths, one serious injury and at least 100 house fires.

Installing foil insulation incorrectly was so dangerous it was like sitting in a frying pan

Statement reveals Peter Garrett expressed "extreme frustration"
Witness Matt Levey said foil insulation was not suspended ­immediately after the death of

Witness Matt Levey said foil insulation was not suspended ­immediately after the death of Matthew Fuller because there were conflicting views about its use.  Matt Levey, former policy adviser to then environment minister Peter Garrett, also gave evidence at the hearing yesterday, revealing that ­installer safety was not raised as a "fundamental" risk.

"What about political risk?" Richard Perry, QC, who is representing families of men killed, asked. "That was raised by the ­department as a significant risk, yes," Mr Levey replied.

"But what about installer safety? Was that a risk seen by the department as being fundamental?" Mr Perry asked.

"Not that I recall … That is not to say they did not think there was a risk, but it may well have been they thought it was being adequately addressed," Mr Levey said.

Mr Levey said foil insulation was not suspended ­immediately after the death of Matthew Fuller because there were conflicting views about its use.  The advice at the time, he said, was to ban metal staples.

Counsel Assisting, Keith Wilson, asked why the use of foil insulation was not immediately suspended, given there was doubt about its use.

"I think in hindsight that makes absolute sense," Mr Levey replied.

The inquiry has heard bureaucrats devising the scheme were warned that three New Zealanders had died while securing foil insulation in 2007.  But Mr Levey said those warnings never filtered through to him or Mr Garrett.

He said Mr Garrett was shocked to learn of Mr Fuller’s death.  "Until the first fatality was reported, we certainly weren’t assuming that there was that level of risk out there," Mr Levey’s statement read.

The royal commission hearing ­before Ian Hanger QC continues.


Working women must stop blaming men for their troubles, says Sunrise presenter Natalie Barr who has ‘never been discriminated against’

AM I the only woman who’s not angry at men? I’m a woman and I have never felt discriminated against. There. I’ve said it.

I’m not angry at men. I can’t remember being passed over for a promotion because of a man and I have never felt undervalued ­because I’m a woman.

I went to a co-ed country Catholic school and the boys were my mates. Just like the girls. Maybe that’s where it started — my view that I was just as good as the opposite sex.  No one ever told me I wasn’t. And they still haven’t.

That doesn’t mean by any stretch that I’ve been positive and confident and happy every day of my life. It just means I don’t blame men for my troubles.

When I was 20 I missed out on a cadetship at the ABC, but I didn’t for a second think it was because I was a girl.  I just had no bloody idea what I was doing; and they could tell.

Through the end of high school and university, I volunteered to work for free at the local TV station in Bunbury during my holidays.

I couldn’t have known less about TV news or being a journalist.

Every day I was there taught me something new, gave me a little bit more confidence in myself and made me realise that I had to take a leap and start applying to every news organisation in Western Australia for a job.

Work experience shaped my future and I still believe it’s one of the most productive things a kid can do.

As a result of one of those letters, a very nice person, who just happened to be a man, finally gave me a ­cadetship with a local Perth newspaper. The pay was $142 a week. That was for a D-grade cadet, man or woman.

I loved it, worked my way up to senior reporter (in charge of a man) and then headed to Kalgoorlie for my first TV job.

I worked overseas for a few years and, of this ­December, I’ll have been at Channel Seven for 20 years.

For nearly half that time I was a reporter for the 6pm news. I started off doing very low profile stories, because I was a pretty inexperienced journalist.

I don’t remember the other junior male reporters being given better stories than me.  They were learning too. Some days I got a good story, other days the boys did. They were the days where the producer yelled at you if you stuffed up a story, and I can tell you it was ­definitely equal opportunity yelling.

I yelled back when I thought I was right, and I went home with my tail ­between my legs when I missed something the other journos had in their stories.

When my contract was up I forced myself to walk in and ask for a better deal.

Not a lot of women I know jump for joy when they have to negotiate with the boss but I don’t think that’s the boss’s fault.

Isn’t it ours? I chose to take just a few months off after I had each of my boys.

I wasn’t earning much but I sat down with my husband and we decided that it was worth taking a financial hit, paying a big chunk of my wage on childcare.

Our reasoning was if I kept working and was able to climb up the ladder, I might get paid more.

I’ve always thought that if you take years off work to raise your kids, whether you’re a man or a woman, it’ll be hard to get back into the workforce and certainly at the level you were before.

It’s great that many ­people have the choice to stay home with their children, but I also personally ­believe each choice we make comes with consequences that we have to live with.

For 11 years I’ve worked with some exceptional men on Sunrise.

But if I felt undervalued and ripped off, I’d leave.

I know there are many women out there who are trapped in situations where they do feel disadvantaged, discriminated against and overlooked because they are women.

In no way am I underestimating their pain and frustration and helplessness and the need for change in ­industries where that’s  happening.

In the past few weeks though, I’ve felt that there has been a growing tide of women attacking men in general.  I’m starting to wonder if many of us need to find a better drum to beat than the one that blames men for most of our problems.  Isn’t it about time we took some ownership?

If a man got the job ahead of you, was it because he was better?  That can’t be impossible … can it?

Should we be brutally honest with ourselves and ask if we need to change the way we approach things?

I just don’t think "us" against "them" helps anybody in the long run.


24 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is appalled by the perverse state election outcome in South Australia

Future of Manus Island asylum seekers unclear as Peter O'Neill says most are not 'genuine refugees'

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister has pre-empted decisions on the refugee status of asylum seekers being held on Manus Island, declaring "a good majority" of those who have been interviewed are not "genuine refugees".

Peter O'Neill has also made plain that PNG will only re-settle "some" of those whose refugee claims are recognised, insisting other countries in the region should "carry the same burden as we do".

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in a joint media conference with Mr O'Neill yesterday, could not nominate a single country that has indicated it will take refugees from Manus, where around 1300 asylum seekers are being held and not one refugee status determination has been completed since the first transfer of asylum seekers in November 2012.

Mr Abbott accepted that "it might be hard" for PNG to take all whose claims were recognised and said Australia was "continuing to work with other countries in our region to ensure that people don't come to Australia if they arrive illegally by boat".

As the two leaders met and vowed to "stay the course", journalists were given access for the first time to the controversial centre, where many of the asylum seekers pleaded for their freedom. During the journalists' visit, asylum seekers made new claims about the murder of detainee Reza Barati, saying he was thrown from a balcony before being beaten to death.

The journalists entered the centre with the approval of PNG judge David Cannings, who is investigating human rights after the incidents last month in which scores of asylum seekers were also injured, allegedly by PNG nationals employed by the security contractor at the centre.

Mr O'Neill made a fleeting reference to the violence, saying he regretted "instances of late", but gave no indication of when the police investigation into the incident would be complete.

While legislation allowing for resettlement in PNG will not be ready until May and remains highly contentious, a defiant Mr Abbott said Australia could best assist PNG "in ensuring people found not to be refugees are swiftly repatriated".

"This is the bottom line: if you arrive illegally by boat in Australia you will never permanently settle in Australia because, as long as there is this prospect of permanent resettlement, there is the risk that illegal boats will keep coming," Mr Abbott declared.

Mr O'Neill recommitted to the centre despite international agencies including the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, and Amnesty International raising concerns about conditions in the centre, the state of processing and requirements that might be attached to resettlement.

Before a PNG official declared that the leaders would take no more questions on Manus, Mr O'Neill said that some communities in the country had offered to participate in a resettlement program.

"It is pretty hard to speculate when we don't precisely know the actual number of people that we are talking about. We expect it to be less because people are expected to go home." he said.

"Many of them now that have been processed, a good majority of them, are economic refugees. They are not genuine refugees. So, as such they will be sent back to the country of origin."

It was not clear on what Mr O'Neill based his claim that a majority of those processed were not "genuine refugees", given that the legislative framework for determining refugee status and resettlement has not been finalised.

In a statement that will concern the UNHCR, Mr O'Neill said the absence of legislation was not an impediment to decisions. "Interview and processing of refugee people at Manus is now taking place as we speak," he said. "Those proven to be not genuine refugees will be moved on as quickly as possible and those who want resettlement will be resettled under our legislative structure."

Both leaders were talking after they met at PNG's Parliament House on Friday and signed an economic co-operation treaty.


Leftist hypocrisy knows no bounds

FEDERAL Labor is asking way, way too much of the public with its high-minded moralistic posturing over Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos.

Sinodinos, who stood aside as assistant treasurer on Wednesday to give the government clear air in the lead-up to the May Budget, has been called as a witness in the current NSW ICAC hearings into whether former NSW Labor heavyweights Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi and Tony Kelly misused their positions to favour Australian Water Holdings.

No allegations of any criminal activity have been made against the NSW Senator, a former chief of staff to former prime minister John Howard, with an enviable reputation for honesty and integrity.

Yet former AWU boss and Labor leader Bill Shorten, who is likely to be called before the royal commission headed by former High Court justice Dyson Heydon into alleged trade union corruption, has occupied almost all Question Time with his attempts to besmirch Sinodinos and by association, Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

As Education Minister firmly told Parliament on Thursday, the Abbott government "will not be judged by the party of Craig Thomson, and the party of Michael Williamson, and the party of the AWU slush fund, and the party of Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald".

Thomson, the former Health Services Union official and former Labor MP, has been found guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court of misusing union members funds to pay for prostitutes and personal expenses. He will be sentenced next Tuesday.

Williamson, a former national president of the ALP and a former head of the Health Services Union, pleaded guilty last October 15 to four charges of cheating or defrauding as a director, fabricating invoices and recruiting someone to hinder a police investigation.

His bail has been revoked and he in prison awaiting final sentencing this Friday.

The AWU slush fund affair is likely to see former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard called before the Heydon royal commission where she is likely to be asked to explain her role in assisting her then boyfriend Bruce Wilson establish a fund that was kept secret from both Wilson’s union, and Gillard’s employers, the Labor law firm Slater & Gordon.

Both Obeid and Macdonald were found to be corrupt by the NSW ICAC in connection with the issuance of mining licenses.

Little wonder that Pyne pulled Shorten up firmly.

Labor has clung to tainted MPs, even defended them, when the stench of corruption was evident to all (except, perhaps, Labor’s media arm, the ABC).

As Shorten and some unwise souls on the Opposition benches feigned outrage, Pyne walked through them through Labor’s sad record, reminding the smarting Opposition MPs that their party lacked all credibility and left itself shamefully exposed on the topics of ministerial accountability and parliamentary standards.

He said Labor presided over a "sewer" in the past three years with "an endless list of atrocities committed against this parliament".

He reminded the House that Labor had not only suborned former Liberal MP Peter Slipper by offering him the Speakership (replacing the universally respected Labor MP Harry Jenkins) but had kept Thomson in their party room until April 29, 2012, even though there a cloud had been hanging over the former NSW Central Coast MP as early as January, 2009, well before the 2010 election, when the Fair Work Commission commenced its inquiry into the HSU’s Victorian No. 1 Branch.

So concerned was Labor about the allegations engulfing Thomson that former prime minister Gillard’s chief of staff Ben Hubbard rang the then Industrial Registrar Doug Williams in early 2009 to inquire into whether Thomson was under investigation – before the fraud allegations were made public.

Then, despite the New South Wales police launching Strike Force Carnarvon, in September, 2011, despite the Victorian police fraud squad’s confirmation of its investigation into Thomson in October, 2011, despite Fair Work Australia’s publication of its investigation into the HSU in April 2012, and its release of its investigation into the Victorian HSU No. 1 Branch, Labor continued to protect Thomson and his caucus vote.

No allegations, I repeat, have been made against Sinodinos. He has been called before ICAC as a witness.

Labor has had its share of MPs and ministers called as witnesses before ICAC, not least being former climate change minister Greg Combet who was questioned about a letter he wrote supporting a controversial mining licence sought by union official John Maitland.

The noisy Senator Doug Cameron was called to give evidence about the Obeids.

In neither case did the Liberals demand either be stripped or their responsibilities or disciplined.

The contrast between the behaviour of the two principal parties in Australian politics could not be greater.

Labor is the party of smear, innuendo and hypocrisy.

There is probably no greater example of Labor’s gutter tactics than the ugliness revealed by Gillard herself during the confected frenzy of her extremely personal tirade against Tony Abbott during which she falsely claimed he was a misogynist as she attempted to distract the public from her personal appointment of Slipper, a man who had made the most appalling references to women’s sexual organs, to the highest parliamentary office.

"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man," she shrieked. "Not now, not ever."

Pathetic and baseless charges eagerly seized upon by the mindless twitterati who chose to ignore Gillard’s moral deceit and betrayal of principle in regard to Slipper’s promotion.

"Not now, not ever," Gillard screeched theatrically.

Well, "not now, not ever", should anyone from Labor try and lecture anyone about morality, about ethics or parliamentary standards.

Labor over the past six years has demonstrated it lacks all understanding of the terms.


Busting the myths of the paid parental leave scheme

As the May budget draws nearer, women’s groups, business and political watchers alike are anticipating the incorporation of the Abbott government’s flagship paid parental leave scheme, funded partially by a 1.5% levy on big business.

The government’s vocal commitment to this $5.5 billion scheme sits uncomfortably alongside rhetoric about the end of the age of entitlement and the need for tough choices to be made to improve the nation’s finances.

The scheme has been justified by the government as an ‘investment’ amid suggestions it will improve productivity. Rather than paying the minimum wage, workers covered under the scheme will be paid at their replacement wages, on the basis that doing so will improve participation, boost women’s super at retirement and increase fertility. These claims are either wrong or greatly exaggerated.

It’s highly unlikely there will be an increase in fertility. As the government is fond of pointing out, the proposed scheme bears a greater resemblance to those in place in other OECD countries compared with the existing scheme. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm for making this point masks the fact that these generous schemes in countries like Sweden and Norway have produced fertility rates virtually indistinguishable from our own. Strike one.

The other significant difference is that the proposed scheme includes superannuation at the going rate (currently 9.25%), which will boost a woman’s super accumulation by somewhere in the vicinity of $50,000 for an average full-time income-earner. These increases are real. But the dent in women’s savings at retirement compared to men’s is not caused by six months of parental leave; it’s the years spent in low-paid part time or flexible work due to personal choices or inadequate childcare availability. Strike two.

Productivity and participation are the bigger issues. They are not the same thing – if more low-productivity workers shift their behaviour and re-enter the workforce than higher-productivity earners, participation goes up but productivity doesn’t. The high-productivity earners the government wants to entice back into the workforce are most likely to go back anyway, thanks to high pay and generous employer-provided enticements like flexible work and on-site childcare. Strike three.

Paid parental leave is not a concept without any value: improving women’s participation is one way to broaden the tax base over the medium-term to tackle coming fiscal problems, and it has other benefits too. But all the evidence suggests that this scheme is not the way to go about it. Nor do the alleged benefits to fertility and income upon retirement hold enough water to justify the scheme. The government should go back to the drawing board on this one.


Youth unemployment:  A proud achievement of the Labor government

At 6.3%, Australia’s unemployment rate is at its highest level in ten years. While our unemployment figures compare well to the rest of the OECD, Australia was unlike its European counterparts in that it was not hit hard by the global financial crisis. It means that rather than returning to the strong growth and record low unemployment experienced in 2008, our economy has flat-lined.

These points were highlighted in Greg Jericho’s recent ABC article bemoaning a significant fall in youth employment since 2008. Jericho points to a near 10% fall in the employment-to-population ratio among 15 – 24 year-olds since 2008 to illustrate the souring employment prospects of our youth. By contrast, the employment-to-participation ratio among 24 – 54 year-olds dropped only 1% in the same period.

What Jericho fails to point out is that changes to the welfare system enacted by the Rudd government have decreased incentives for young workers to find emplloyment. At the same time, changes to labour market settings have reduced the demand for young, low-skilled labour.

Last year, former CIS Research Fellow Andrew Baker pointed to the rise of non-job seekers on unemployment benefits, highlighting that nearly half of those on unemployment benefits did not necessarily need to be looking for work to receive benefits.

Following the GFC, the government altered the eligibility requirements for those on unemployment benefits such that recipients could stay on benefits without being required to look for work, so long as they enrolled in some sort of education and training. Newstart recipients can enter into work experience after 12 months and hold onto their benefits, while early school leavers who later complete year 12 (or equivalent) can continue receiving income support.

These changes made it easier for the unemployed to continue drawing welfare benefits without actively seeking a job. At the same time, the Fair Work Act increased the cost for businesses in hiring young workers.

The award modernisation process simplified and amalgamated 3,715 state and federal awards to 122 modern awards. That made for a simpler award system, but in the process, the minimum wages and penalty rates were factored up towards the highest common denominator rather than the lowest.

This has meant that along with the yearly minimum wage hikes, there have been additional hikes to award wages as the new modern awards are phased in.

If you increase the cost of low-skilled work, you reduce the demand for that work. Young people are now more expensive to employ and at the same time are finding it easier to remain eligible for welfare benefits without looking for work. Does it come as a surprise that young workers are opting out of the labour market?


23 March, 2014

Club owner speaks out about the night Virgil Power king-hit Michael Halbauer

The thug was let off without a recorded conviction so it would not stop his legal career

THE owner of the club where a young member of a Queensland legal dynasty king-hit a patron is furious the attacker walked free after committing the most random violent act seen at the establishment.

CCTV footage showed Virgil Macquarie Power, 29, throwing a drink on Michael Halbauer and then flooring him without warning at Laguna Jacks bar at Noosa in September.

Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan sentenced Power to 240 hours’ community service and took into account the "remorse" shown by paying the victim’s $24,000 medical bills. This was to repair serious damage to his face and teeth.

Laguna Jacks owner John Whimpress told The Courier-Mail Virgil Power Jnr had only bought two drinks — the second of which he threw on his victim — before the violent punch.

He said he was unaware of any incidents between the pair leading up to the attack.

Although Magistrate Callaghan found Powers had been intimidated by Halbauer earlier in the evening.

Mr Whimpress and his staff were "devastated" by the magistrate’s decision and feared it sent the wrong message. "It was the first time we had seen this type of attack. We had heard about them elsewhere, but not here," he said.  "We’re very upset with the result. We don’t think it acts as a deterrent.

"Customer safety is paramount for us and we have a great relationship with police and liquor licensing. We all work hard to keep people safe and prevent things like this happening."

Mr Whimpress said he was unaware of any confrontation or incidents involving the men leading up to the clash and Power had shown no signs of intoxication.

"Nothing viewed by staff or customers showed Virgil Power Jnr was a threat to anyone. He had only bought two drinks and the second was the one he threw at the other guy before he hit him.

"We can’t understand why it (the king hit) happened."

Mr Whimpress said Power had been in the club on previous occasions without incident.  He said his victim was a visitor.  Virgil is now banned and has not been back.  "We need to send a message that this type of behaviour is not to be tolerated, whether it be at a club, pub, wedding or wherever."

Manager Rod Hambrook was behind the bar when the attack happened and rushed to Mr Halbauer’s aid.  Mr Hambrook said the young man was groggy and completely confused.

"He seemed a nice kid. Here on holidays and having a night out. I got him up. Helped him get clean and took him to the hospital. I also rang the police.

"I like to keep an eye on people, but hadn’t previously noticed the guy who got hit.  "I had noticed Virgil. I had seen his face a few times before, but it was more that he was tall and seemed to be known by others in the club. He was mingling."

Mr Hambrook said he had since examined the footage of the night and noted the victim had been in the club about two hours and Power about an hour and a half.

He said he had only seen the two men pass by each other on one occasion, but did not seem to acknowledge each other.  "From what I could see there was no altercation earlier on.  "Our guards are very vigilant and noticed nothing untoward."

Mr Hambrook said he had been shocked by the incident.  "Talk about a coward’s punch. I have never experienced anything like it. What makes people think they can do this to others and get away with it."

Virgil Macquarie Power works as a law clerk for his father Virgil Alexander Power at the Noosa law firm, Virgil Power and Co. When The Courier-Mail visited the office yesterdayand contacted it again in the afternoon, reception staff advised both were out of the office for the day. A request for an interview was unsuccessful.


Stubborn  Muslim gets kid glove treatment

A FATHER who was indefinitely jailed in Queensland three months ago for ignoring an order to return his young daughter from overseas has been released from prison.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Margaret Cassidy said it would be futile to continue the indefinite sentence, although the father had done nothing to bring back the Australian child.

The father took his daughter overseas almost two years ago, without the consent of the mother, later returning on his own to Australia, where he has permanent residency.

He has since obtained an overseas custody order that allows the girl to live in the other country, which is not a party to The Hague Convention.

Judge Cassidy said the Australian-born child now was likely to remain overseas, with the mother and daughter unlikely to have any opportunity for a relationship.

"I do not know where to begin to express the pain I hold in my heart," the mother said in a victim impact statement.  "There is not a single day or moment in a day that goes by that I do not have a thought for my daughter."

The court heard the father believed the mother had committed a morally reprehensible act by marrying a younger man and he needed to protect his daughter from the situation.

The father told the court if released he would go back overseas to look after his child and bring her back to Australia. But Judge Cassidy said she did not have any great confidence that he would return.

She told the father that in this country parents had equal shared responsibilities when it came to parenting.  "One parent can’t decide to have a child living in (the overseas country) against the wishes of another parent," Judge Cassidy said.

The mother’s lawyer, Adam Cooper, asked Judge Cassidy to give the father a fixed prison term of up to 12 months. He said the ­father had expressed no regret for the mother’s suffering.

"In my view, he has no understanding of the impact it may have on the child and the mother if they are not to spend time together," the judge said.

She ordered the father’s release from jail last Friday, deciding the three months he had spent in jail were sufficient for the breach of court orders.


Violent Abo attacks Qld bus driver

POLICE are searching for a man who viciously assaulted a bus driver in Southport this morning ... and it was all over a fare.

The man, described as wearing no shirt, grey board shorts and carrying a black backpack was captured on camera dragging the 63-year-old driver out of the bus on to the ground and punching him in a vicious attack at a bus stop at the corner of Nerang and Pohlman Streets.

Detective Acting Inspector Paul Austin says the attack occurred about 8.30am when the passenger boarded the bus and tried to pay with a pre-paid travel card, or GoCard, which didn’t have any money on it.  The culprit then tried to pay with a $50 note, but the 63-year-old driver did not have sufficient change.

"There was an attempt at payment, however we do believe there was an escalation of his language, of his demeanour, which then became violent," Insp Austin told reporters.

The driver was taken to hospital with bruising and cuts to his face.

Insp Austin commended the driver for getting up once he was being assaulted and moving towards the door so other passengers on the bus were not in the firing line.  "However, that did mean that the assault continued ... and he received further assault on the footpath," he said.

Video of the incident shows the driver being dragged on the ground outside the bus while being kicked by his attacker.

The culprit is thought to be in his late teens or  early 20s, has a dark complexion, a medium build, tattoos and sports a mohawk hairstyle.

A nearby business owner said the man involved is a known local in the area and was seen arguing with the bus driver.  "I think he tried to pay his fare with a $50 or $100 note and the bus driver might have said no," the witness said.  "Next thing he was out of the bus and picked up his things which had fallen out of his bag.  "Then he walked across the road and down Pohlman Street."
Witnesses described the man as in his late teens or early 20s with short, spiky hair.


No escape from bat colony that terorises Maclean residents

Greenie priorities rule

ENVIRONMENT Minister Robyn Parker has refused to help get rid of a bat colony that has terrorised a north coast town and sent locals batty.  Outnumbered by bats 100 to one, Maclean residents have pleaded for Ms Parker to "choose humans over bats" — fearing that bat-borne diseases like rabies, hendra and lyssavirus could harm their children and grandchildren.

The state government and council have been ­accused of threatening local residents and wasting millions of dollars on working groups and reports.  More than 300ha of swampland was bought in the hope of moving the bats there, but that failed as well.  Licences to move bats on have tight restrictions protecting red and grey flying foxes.

Ms Parker yesterday refused any cull or extermination of the bats. "That would be illegal and we have no advice that it would be safe or effective."

Brian Johnson, who has a property next to the bat colony, said he was threatened with a fine after trying to scare off the bats using a stick and a bin. Others have used the noise of chainsaws and car horns to try to move them on.

"I just can’t see why the politicians don’t choose humans over bats — I’d like to see them live here. I’m sure they’d change their tune pretty quickly," Mr Johnson said.

Darryl Graney lives on the corner of Jubilee and Cameron Streets, nearest the bats, and said his car was regularly covered in droppings. At its worst, 250,000 bats roost ­opposite his home.
Clarence Valley council this week voted against buying 50 houses bordering the bushland for $15?million, after locals struggled to sell their homes.

Mayor Richie Williamson said the bat problem was the state and federal governments’ responsibility.

In 2010, teachers at Maclean High School threatened to walk off the job after being forced to wear raincoats and carry ­umbrellas to avoid bat faeces.

Ms Parker’s spokesman said "a multi-agency and stakeholder working group" had been set up by her department.  "There is a risk that dispersed bats will simply relocate to a nearby area," he said.


21 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is disappointed that the ALP is still supporting the mining tax

Aggressive  Aboriginal Gang Assaults White People  -- Perth City, 17th March 2014

Aboriginal gangs roam unchecked in the city center of Perth attacking white residents for vengeance against the Europeans successfully conquering their lands. In this shocking footage 10+ Aboriginals of all ages attack 2 white males for seemingly no reason. The Aboriginals shout "White dogs!" "See what they do!?" over and over whilst taking cheap shots and hitting the men who are trying the stop the fight.

No mention of the matter in the mainstream media, of course, but you can see the video here.

The report below of 15th may however refer to the same offenders

Group of up to five men wanted for multiple assaults and robberies from Croydon to Norwood overnight

OPERATION Mandrake detectives are investigating a series of violent crimes in which a group of men terrorised multiple victims across Adelaide today.

Up to five men are believed to be responsible for as many as six robberies across western and eastern Adelaide and in the CBD between midnight and noon today.

Weapons, including a metal pole and a screwdriver, were brandished in some cases and in four of the robberies the victims suffered injuries.

The spree started at West Croydon, where the men armed with a pole stole a necklace from a woman at the intersection of Torrens Rd and Rosetta St just after midnight.

At nearby Liberton Ave, Croydon Park, a man was robbed of a phone, wallet and watch, suffering minor injuries.

About 15 minutes later, two women were assaulted and robbed of their handbags in a supermarket carpark at Welland.

One of the victims suffered a cut head and was treated by ambulance officers.

About 2am, the group then approached a woman and two men on Sydenham Rd, Norwood and, armed with a metal pole, demanded property.

The victims refused and were assaulted. The man was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for treatment.

Two women were threatened by the men on Victoria Drive in the city about 6.20am. One had her bag stolen.

A home invasion at Ridgehaven just before midday, during which the elderly resident was threatened with a screwdriver, may also be linked.

The suspects for all robberies were described as Aboriginal men aged 20-28.

Operation Mandrake was established in 2003 to crack down on a group of hard-core Aboriginal offenders – the so-called Gang of 49.

They are assisting Western and Eastern Adelaide police with the investigation.

The men were seen in a maroon or burgundy Holden VK Commodore with registration WEK596 during the early morning robberies.

The registration does not match the car and it is likely stolen numberplates have been used.

The car involved in the home invasion was a maroon or burgundy Holden VK Commodore with registration WER181.

Police have not discounted it being the same car.


Palmer United Party members slam single-minded party pooper Clive Palmer

CLIVE Palmer’s own members say their leader’s "bullshit and razzamatazz" is ­undermining the party.

Days after the Palmer United Party failed to win a seat in the Tasmanian poll, several members have spoken out about Mr Palmer’s mistakes.

Former candidates and members from Mr Palmer’s own party say their leader must ditch his conspiracy theories and "loud" presidential-campaign style if he has any chance of wooing voters in Queensland.

Mr Palmer has already begun letterbox drops in Queensland, touting Gaven MP Alex Douglas as the next Premier.

But he has been urged to stand aside as leader, with accusations he failed to understand his audience and shoved aside local candidates in favour of grandiose advertisements featur­ing himself.

The Member for Fairfax – who claimed the poll was not "legitimate" and that someone had tampered with ballot boxes – has also been warned by party insiders to stop spouting conspiracy theories.

Chris Lester, who says he was selected as a candidate in Lyons before pulling out just before the official endorsement, blasted Mr Palmer’s lack of organisational structure and his tendency to try to "just bulldoze it through".

The Derwent Valley councillor said senior party figures had told him he was about to be endorsed, but he walked away because the campaign began to involve "talking too much crap".

"There was really too much bullshit and razzamatazz – it was all a very, very loud campaign," he said.  "It was so loud, in fact, I think people got sick of it. My personal view is that unless Clive steps down as the head of the party and they actually run it as a political party, it won’t go anywhere – I think it will fizzle out."

PUP state candidate for Franklin, Michael Figg, said the Tasmanian campaign was hampered by "too much of Clive and not enough of the real people".

"He didn’t understand his audience," he said. "At the end of the day, we’re not voting Clive in, we’re voting ­Michael Figg and the other people. Down here, it was vote Clive Palmer, Palmer United Party – so Michael Figg or the other candidates, apart from the lead candidates, got very little or no ­exposure at all."

Former federal PUP candidate for Maribyrnong Philip Cutler has also taken aim at the party leader.

He says "arrogance and over-the-top self belief" has crippled PUP and that Australians don’t care what Clive has to say. He announ­ced on Sunday via Facebook that he had left the party.

Clive Palmer said it was a question of "saying bad things about individuals".  "When people lose elections they get very disappointed," the Federal MP said.  "A lot of politicians have false expectations and they’re going in there for the wrong reasons," he said.

"It’s not a question of pointing blame. It’s not a question of saying bad things about individuals."

The PUP Leader declared he was personally not "important".  "It’s not my credibility I’m standing for. It’s not the money I get for being in Parliament I’m standing for. It’s the ideas for the Australian community," Mr Palmer said.

He defended the party’s campaign in Tasmania.  "Our party was only registered one day before the writs closed, three weeks before the election," he said.  "So if you look at the swing in Tasmania we had the second biggest swing to us in the election and that’s not bad for three weeks."

Mr Palmer also appeared to reject Mr Lester’s comments.  "The guy wasn’t even endorsed for our party, he pulled out beforehand. He wasn’t even a party member, didn’t pay his membership."

The self-proclaimed billionaire then told reporters he’d been working as an MP for free.

"I haven’t taken a salary since I got to Parliament. I haven’t taken an electoral allowance. I paid most of my own airfares to come down here. I’m here to serve the people," he said.

"I have not received any salary. I have refused to sign the form. It’s my view that I think people should serve their country based on service."


Finally, Some Real Climate Science

The American Physical Society has been amongst the loudest alarmist organisations whipping up hysteria about CO2, but a review of its position that has placed three sceptics on the six-member investigatory panel strongly suggests the tide has turned

The 50,000-strong American body of physicists, the American Physical Society (APS), seems to be turning significantly sceptical on climate alarmism.

The same APS put out a formal statement in 2007 adding its voice to the alarmist hue and cry. That statement caused resignations of some of its top physicists (including 1973 Nobel Prize winner Ivar Giaever and Hal Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara).[1] The APS was forced by 2010 to add some humiliating clarifications but retained the original statement that the evidence for global warming was ‘incontrovertible’.

By its statutes, the APS must review such policy statements each half-decade and that scheduled review is now under way, overseen by the APS President Malcolm Beasley.

The review, run by the society’s Panel on Public Affairs, includes four powerful shocks for the alarmist science establishment.[3]

First, a sub-committee has looked at the recent 5th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  and formulated scores of critical questions about the weak links in the IPCC’s methods and findings. In effect, it’s a non-cosy audit of the IPCC’s claims on which the global campaign against CO2 is based.

Second, the  APS Panel’s review sub-committee, after ‘consulting broadly’, appointed a workshop to get science input into the questions. The appointed  workshop of six expert advisers, amazingly, includes three eminent sceptic scientists: Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Judith Curry. The other three members comprise long-time IPCC stalwart Ben Santer (who, in 1996, drafted, in suspicious circumstances, the original IPCC mantra about a "discernible" influence of manmade CO2 on climate), an IPCC lead author and modeler William Collins, and atmospheric physicist Isaac Held.

Third, the sub-committee is ensuring the entire process is publicly transparent — not just the drafts and documents, but the workshop discussions, which have been taped, transcribed and officially published, in a giant record running to 500+ pages.[4]

Fourth, the APS will publish its draft statement to its membership, inviting comments and feedback.

What the outcome will be, ie what the revised APS statement will say, we will eventually discover.  It seems a good bet that the APS will break ranks with the world’s collection of peak science bodies, including the Australian Academy of Science, and tell the public, softly or boldly, that IPCC science is not all it’s cracked up to be.

The APS audit of the IPCC makes a contrast with the Australian Science Academy’s (AAS) equivalent efforts. In 2010 the AAS put out a booklet, mainly for schools, "The Science of Climate Change, Questions and Answers", drafted behind closed doors. The drafters and overseers totalled 16 people, and the original lone sceptic, Garth Paltridge, was forced out by the machinations of  then-President Kurt Lambeck.

The Academy is currently revising the booklet, without any skeptic input at all. Of the 16 drafters and overseers, at least nine have been IPCC contributors and others have been petition-signing climate-policy lobbyists, hardly appropriate to do any arm’s length audit of the IPCC version of the science. Once again, the process is without any public transparency or consulting with the broad membership.


As warming slows, denunciation grows

By Don Aitkin (Don is a very eminent Australian academic.  Google him)

Two little essays, both published on The Conversation (13 and 14 March*), and a compilation of surveys, provide the basis for this post. I’ll start with the surveys first, which come courtesy of Donna Laframboise, who has written an amusing little piece on surveys about ‘climate change’. Imagine, she asks, that you are on a transcontinental rail journey. You go to eat in the buffet car, and at every meal you are asked what you would like — but, whatever you ask for, the food is always vegetarian. She says opinion surveys and political oratory about global warming are like that.

American surveys routinely place global warming or ‘climate change’ last in the list of important issues, so far as the electorate is concerned, and the same is largely true both of the UK, and of the United Nations’ own global surveys. In Australia the poll evidence is that Australians are more concerned than Americans, but there are no truly equivalent poll results. Ms Laframboise points out that despite this lack of interest, politicians and the ‘concerned’ go on telling us that we are wrong: we should be concerned like them, and must be deficient in sense and altruism for not being so. She lists Secretary of State John Kerry as a Cassandra example, pointing to the same speech that I wrote about three weeks ago.

So the orthodox go on waiting impatiently for the warming to return, and becoming even louder and more aggressive in their contempt for those of us who ask for good argument and good data and point out what seem to be problems in the orthodoxy. The decline in interest in AGW is certainly connected to the lack of significant warming to match the increase in carbon dioxide, but there is a lot more to it, I think. So to the first of these  articles, which is by Rod Lamberts, Deputy Director of the ANU’s National Centre for Public Awareness of Science. What do you think of this?

The fact is that the time for fact-based arguments is over. We all know what the overwhelmingly vast majority of climate science is telling us. I’m not going to regurgitate the details here, in part because the facts are available everywhere, but more importantly, because this tactic is a core reason why climate messages often don’t resonate or penetrate. If, like me, you’re convinced that human activity is having a hugely damaging effect on the global climate, then your only responsible option is to prioritise action.

I don’t think that what he proposes is at all a ‘responsible option’. The most responsible surely would be to look hard at what you think are the facts. Like Bernie Fraser, however, of whom he speaks well in this essay, Mr Lamberts knows what ‘the vast majority of climate science’ is telling him, though he won’t tell his readers. I’m certainly not sure what it is, and I think by now I have a reasonable understanding of ‘the science’. We don’t need any more facts, he says, we need action. Nor is it clear what sort of action he has in mind, other than noisy behaviour.  But then we get this: What we need now is to become comfortable with the idea that the ends will justify the means.

That really worries me, and it should worry anyone. That is not how democracies should behave, and indeed it is what people object to about people who think they know The Truth: they are always telling the rest of us what to do. Mr Lamberts says that deniers should just be disregarded.  Ignore them, step around them, or walk over them. I object to this sort of talk, especially from an academic at the ANU, from which I have my PhD. It is stormtrooper stuff, and has no place either in universities or in a website funded by universities.

The second essay is by Lawrence Torcello, an American academic who teaches philosophy in the USA. It is not in any way a sensible article, and while I wonder why it was accepted for publication in Australia it is certainly another good illustration of the aggressive style which you can find from the ‘believers’. Here is a sample:

We have good reason to consider the funding of climate denial to be criminally and morally negligent. The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus… What are we to make of those behind the well documented corporate funding of global warming denial? Those who purposefully strive to make sure "inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" is given to the public? I believe we understand them correctly when we know them to be not only corrupt and deceitful, but criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life. It is time for modern societies to interpret and update their legal systems accordingly.

Nowhere in this is any attempt to define anything; apparently it’s not needed by philosophers like Mr Torcello, though I would have thought ‘climate denial’ at least needs some kind of explanation if funding it is to be regarded as criminal behaviour. As I’ve said a few times, I am simply unaware of any funding that flows to me or to the others with whom I discuss AGW. Nor can I see any ‘sustained campaign to undermine the the public’s understanding of scientific consensus’. What does Mr Torcello have in mind?

No matter. Any innocent reading this will come away with the view that ‘climate deniers’, whoever they are, should be jailed. It’s different stormtrooper talk, and just as objectionable. Neither Lamberts nor Torcello deserves much respect, on the evidence of these essays, but I put to them that it is indeed time for a debate, a real debate, the kind that I mentioned in my piece on Bernie Fraser last week. The more they denounce citizens who ask questions about ‘climate change’ the weaker their position becomes. Let us discuss these ‘facts that are available everywhere’, and in public. And soon.


A good comment by Colin Davidson that appeared on Don's site below the article above:


I think you have done a great service by drawing attention to academics wanting, nay advocating, the shutting down of free speech, and the sanctioning of anyone who dares to oppose their own beliefs.

And I would also add that skeptics in general, and I in particular, do not want to stop the proponents of action from having their say. The nasty sentminent that opponents must be coerced into agreement is coming almost wholly from the proponents of action. Dictators to a man. Lovers of concentration/extermination camps. Nazis.

There is no other way to say it. That group represents a group which does not believe in the rule of law, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press. It believes in slavery for us all, and is working hard to achieve that.

Cut their funding, I say. I'm happy for them to be whackos, play with their doodles, boil their sweets. But not on the public purse. Let them exist on the funding that skeptics receive - as I think Jo Nova pointed out skeptics receive very little funding, and certaimnly no public monies. On the orther side there are vast rivers of Government Gold pouring into the coffers and funding halfwits like the two turkeys you mention.

Let them fund their beliefs by themselves. I hate it that my taxes are going to academics who, rather than being seekers after the truth, are just ill-educated, lazy thinkers, full of themselves up to the hilt.

Amazing that they can walk.

20 March, 2014

Lots of relieved people in W.A. today

Judge Sleight is now a PROVEN fool.  Why has this scum been allowed to get away with so much?  My guess:  He is Aboriginal

One of Western Australia's worst sex offenders has been arrested for allegedly breaching a supervision order condition, just days after being released from prison.

Police arrested the man, known only as "TJD" for legal reasons, on Wednesday afternoon after alleged breaches of his reporting conditions.

The man was being "processed" by police late this afternoon. Charges have not yet been laid.

A WA Police spokeswoman said officers from the sex offender management squad were advised by the Department of Corrective Services about the alleged breach.

She said specific details about the allegations and when the alleged incident happened were not yet available.

On Wednesday, the offender's release from jail on a 10-year supervision order provoked community outrage, while the state's Attorney-General says he wouldn't have let him out.

The offender was last week freed from prison by a Supreme Court judge.

Commissioner Kevin Sleight revoked an indefinite detention order handed to "TJD" in 2011, after he attacked 13 women, including seven occasions when he used a weapon or replica weapon to threaten his victim into submission.

Mr Sleight said he was satisfied "TJD" - who has a history of assaults on women dating back to when he was 15 - could be released under a strict 10-year supervision order, which will include wearing a GPS tracking device.

He will have to abide by a night-time curfew and is banned from unsupervised access to children.

As talkback radio airwaves were swamped by callers horrified by the man's release, WA Attorney-General Michael Mischin said he had "an awful lot of sympathy" for people who felt the man presented too high a risk to the community.

"I share the community's concerns about this," Mr Mischin told Radio 6PR on Wednesday.   "This man has a very bad record."

Mr Mischin also said he felt for the man's victims, who would be fearful of running into him.  "I am very sorry that they are being put through this."

He said he couldn't tell the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions what to do as it was independent, but had asked for more information about the matter.

"Probably, on the material that I've seen, I would have come to a different decision.  "What I can do is get a report from the DPP's office as to the reasoning underlying the decision.

"If there is a systemic problem there, I will address that. If there has been a bad judgment call in this case, then I will take what steps I can in discussions with the director to ensure this judgment call is not repeated."

WA opposition leader Mark McGowan said that, if he was the attorney-general and knew the offender's indefinite detention order was coming up for review, he "would have had words with the DPP about the approach".

"I don't think that is inappropriate and I think it's a gross failure and a gross negligence on the part of the attorney-general not to have done so," Mr McGowan said.


Why did this lying woman get a cent?

A young woman claiming she suffered debilitating back pain in a car crash was caught out after boasting about her active social life online.

Monica-Leigh Reitano's compensation claim in the Supreme Court in Mackay serves as a cautionary tale for social media users.

Ms Reitano was 17 when she was taken to the Mackay Mater Hospital with back pain after her car was rear-ended by a four-wheel-drive at a roundabout in 2008.

The now-23-year-old sought compensation from RACQ Insurance in July last year, saying she suffered ongoing back and chest pain, which worsened with certain activities.

Ms Reitano said she suffered intermittent spasms, numbness, tingling and sleep issues, which severely hindered her home, social and academic life.

But Justice David North expressed doubts about both her mental and physical injuries, saying her conversations on social media and her highschool blog posts presented a very "different picture".

"The plaintiff admitted that she told doctors that she had become scared to go out, but it was plain from her evidence and from other documentary sources that the plaintiff attended music festivals, events at hotels, and that she had been a bridesmaid," he said in a just-published judgment.

Ms Reitano claimed her injuries had robbed her of the opportunity to pursue a career as a foreign correspondent.

However, Justice North said Ms Reitano had blogged as a schoolgirl about her ambition to be a psychologist and listed journalism as her third preference on her application for university admission.

The court also heard Ms Reitano had also made false claims about purchasing a house, planning a trip to the UK and receiving job offers on social media.

Justice North said he accepted some social media accounts "might be attributable to the vagaries of youthful and forgivable exuberance or indiscretion".

Ms Reitano was awarded $139,026 damages, although Justice North said her account of her "pain and suffering" could not be accepted.

The payout included general and special damages, past and future economic loss, interest and lost superannuation.


Abbott sweeps the podium

THE really big and largely unheralded winner from the elections in South Australia and Tasmania was Tony Abbott.

Importantly, he won on two subtly different levels — as Abbott the politician and Abbott the prime minister. That is to say, he is now impregnable as party leader; and he will be even more the dominant determinant of policy.

This might seem an odd thing to claim as neither election had anything much to do with federal issues or with Abbott’s leadership, but rather utterly inept (especially south rather than west of Victoria) state governments.

And, yes, I know, as politicians and commentators claim repeatedly, state elections are not about federal issues. That voters always distinguish between the two, frequently electing opposite parties at the two levels.

Well, that’s ‘always’ claimed by those ‘insiders’ — when they are not claiming the exact opposite. The alternative claim is usually of the variety.

Or when they try desperately, as both Labor and the Greens did in these two state elections, to make them about the dreaded ‘AbbottAbbottAbbott monster’ — to paint the possible local Coalition government as a future working partner of ‘the evil one.’

Well, let’s take Labor at its word. These elections were all about Abbott: South Australian voters backed him 53-47 per cent; and Tasmania even more resoundingly with 53 per cent of first preferences. Labor and the Greens were shredded.

Also, add that to the Griffith by-election where the Prime Minister (and true, a very good local candidate) scored a rare by-election swing to the Government — and they did so, against Labor’s imprecations, and the easy option of being able, to ‘send a message to Canberra’, and to Abbott in particular.

Arguably, the mindless March ‘march’ madness protests on the weekend made Abbott’s indirect but utterly decisive victory all that sweeter; underlining as it did the fringe nature of street noise. Along with, an awful lot of media so-called commentary.

Gee, you’d think the Liberals would take the advice and finally learn just how awful Abbott’s been for them.

Ever since he won leadership of the party, all he’s done is lose. Not content with ‘losing’ one prime minister, Kevin Rudd, he was so careless that he ‘lost’ a second, Julia Gillard. What on earth would Oscar Wilde have said about him ‘losing’ a third, recycled Rudd?

Now, he’s proved such a ‘successful’ focus of Labor attack, that he’s managed to ‘lose’ Labor every state and territory government, bar the ‘beltway cocooned ACT’, and if not also South Australia, only because of an outrageous gerrymander that would have sent the already ruddy-faced, the late Tom Playford, even redder with grudging admiration.

The more the crazies outside parliament scream against Abbott, the more the ‘smarties’ on the Labor benches inside parliament target Abbott, the more they succeed in cementing his dominance of both party and Cabinet room, and the more they extend his support in the broader community.

We’ve already seen one big policy consequence — the government’s ‘tough decisions’ to refuse SPC and Qantas what they wanted, after the ‘easy ones’ to not embark on a, almost certainly fruitless, chase after Holden and Toyota.

What’s again got lost in the hysteria, is that Abbott’s tactical instincts proved best. To have taken the all-too easy path of handing SPC $25 million and Qantas a ‘costless’ debt guarantee would have undermined the necessary tough decisions those companies had to make.

Another big policy consequence is the paid parental leave scheme. Whatever the arguments of equity and budget discipline against it, if the Prime Minister wants it, and he does, we are getting it.

If he doesn’t already appreciate it, and I suggest he does — his body language at the Qantas policy announcement spoke volumes — Treasurer Joe Hockey better factor the cost into his budget.

The big thing that flows from all this, is that the Prime Minister has gained an increasingly powerful mandate to take tough and decisive action.

The two state elections and the Griffith by-election have given him the most useful mandate of it all — one where the voters have had a second, and all-too easy, chance to fall prey to scare campaigns, and instead increased their support.

Clearly, the success in ‘stopping the boats’ has been of huge, huge, benefit to the Government and to Abbott in particular, in winning post-election respect and confidence.

The message is twofold: deliver on your promises, and we’ll cop the tough decisions.

Importantly, Abbott clearly knows better than critics and (genuine, if gratuitous) advisers alike, that both sides of this are critical.

He must deliver on his promises, as a non-negotiable precondition to good government and winnable elections. It is simply not an option, to welsh in the name of budget difficulty.

Equally, the opposition in the broad and the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten specifically are proving very slow learners.

The more they demonise and abuse ‘the AbbottAbbott’ the more they cost themselves. The whole ‘misogyny thing’ certainly worked a treat for Gillard. It’s still working a treat, for this PM.

The Opposition’s virulent determination to prevent the Government delivering on its promises, just adds a further layer of help — to the Government; as it keeps announcing the Opposition’s sterility and hopelessness.

The only surprise is that Shorten hasn’t gone back to Kim Beazley’s promise to abolish the GST when and if it wins government.


Tony Abbott stands up to colleagues, critics on free speech

TONY Abbott has resisted Coalition rebels and defied criticism from ethnic communities over looming changes to racial discrimination laws by insisting the reforms will "reconcile" support for freedom of speech and the rejection of racism.

Acting to limit Coalition dissent, the Prime Minister intervened in a dispute between his colleagues yesterday to declare the reforms would "proscribe" racial vilification while amending rules that led to the prosecution of News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt.

Mr Abbott tackled the Coalition concerns in a partyroom meeting that heard calls to maintain the section 18C provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act, which make it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person on the basis of their race.

Mr Abbott issued a firm statement opposing racism but in favour of free speech and amending legislation to prevent a repeat of the 2011 judgment against the popular columnist and broadcaster. The robust discussions followed a report in The Australian yesterday suggesting Attorney-General George Brandis was considering a proposal to remove the words "offend", "insult" and "humiliate" from 18C but keep "intimidate", and amend the "good faith" provision in section 18D, a key part of the law that led to the finding against Bolt.

Mr Abbott pledged in 2012 he would amend or repeal 18C "in its current form" if elected.

Queensland backbencher George Christensen and Sydney MP Alex Hawke spoke in support of his stand yesterday. "Freedom of speech is a God-given right - if we don’t allow the things we don’t want to hear, we don’t really believe in free speech at all," sources claimed Mr Christensen said.

But West Australian Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives with a long association with his home state’s equal opportunity tribunal, warned he could cross the floor if anti-vilification provisions were watered down. Queenslander Ewen Jones backed his stand.

The partyroom clash came as representatives of the indigenous, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Arab, Armenian and Korean communities expressed their "vehement opposition" to the mooted changes to 18C and D. "These changes would mean that the federal government has decided to license the public humiliation of people because of their race," the group insisted.

"It would send a signal that people may spout racist abuse in public, no matter how unreasonably and dishonestly. It would be astonishing if an Australian government in the 21st century was prepared to embrace such a morally repugnant position.

"It would be utterly indefensible. The suggestion that section 18D might be amended by deleting the threshold of reasonableness and good faith comes as an especially unpleasant surprise to us."

The Human Rights Law Centre also spoke against the suggested amendments. "These proposals would substantially weaken the current laws and should be rejected," executive director Hugh de Kretser said.

Senator Brandis said late yesterday that the government was committed to "rebalancing" the human rights debate in Australia to better protect freedom of speech.

"Accordingly, the government is considering amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act that will strike the right balance between freedom of speech and the need to protect people from racial vilification," he said.

"Racial vilification will never be acceptable in Australia. However, laws which are designed to prohibit racial vilification should not be used as a vehicle to attack legitimate freedoms of speech."

Senator Brandis said the government was aware of the concerns among ethnic groups. It had the matter under "active consideration" and would announce a decision shortly.

A Coalition partyroom spokesman said yesterday’s debate was based on speculation rather than any firm knowledge of the government plans.

The spokesman said there was no statement to the meeting from Senator Brandis about amendments to the act, while Mr Abbott did not indicate any timeframe for changes.

The spokesman noted in relation to Mr Wyatt’s comments "there is no commonwealth statute that prohibits racial vilification in those words".

"At the end of the discussion the Prime Minister addressed the issue and he said everyone in this room believes in freedom of speech," the spokesman said. "(Mr Abbott) said, ‘Everybody in this room is against racism’, and he said, ‘Everybody in this room thinks Andrew Bolt should not have been prosecuted’."

The spokesman said Mr Abbott had continued: "This is a debate in which there is a unanimity of opinion about three important values or ideas. The question is how to reconcile those three."

After the meeting, western Sydney MP Craig Laundy, who had defended Section 18C in the partyroom, told The Australian he was not necessarily opposed to changes to Section 18D. "I don’t have a problem with D being tweaked," he said.

Section 18C criminalises acts "reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people". Section 18D ensures that "section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith".


19 March, 2014

Few listeners for the Left’s shouting

SCOTT Ludlam’s "viral" hate speech against Tony Abbott signified the moment the Left finally lost its marbles: 10.08pm, Monday March 3, 2014.

We can see them frozen in time, like the Edvard Munch painting The Scream, as the final awful realization hits home of Tony Abbott’s comprehensive victory and his determination to make his prime ministership count.

They knew before Newspoll confirmed it this week that all their dishonest, sneaky, bigoted, dog-whistling attempts to demonise Abbott and his government are falling on increasingly deaf ears.

That Monday night, to a near empty chamber, Ludlam, the telegenic Greens senator from WA, who faces political annihilation at the re-run of the WA Senate poll next month, peppered his diatribe with the obligatory "rednecks" and "murderous horror unfolding on Manus Island".

He accused Abbott of "waving your homophobia in people’s faces", "ever-more insidious attacks on the trade union movement and all working people" , "heartless racist exploitation of people’s fears" and leading a "benighted attempt at a government".

He wound up with the plaintive cry of a loser: "Give us our country back".

Sorry Senator, it was never your country. We had an election last year and the Abbott government was elected with a whopping majority. The twitterati might have gone weak at the knees for Ludlam but he might as well have been howling at the moon.

As we reach 82 days with no asylum seeker boats arriving (or fatally capsizing) refugee activists like Ludlum and his colleague Sarah "tragedies happen" Hanson-Young become ever more shrill.

They claimed it could never be done and now their false compassion and obstructionism have been exposed. They are scrabbling for the moral high ground as it crumbles before them.

Meanwhile, Abbott’s determined provocations are unhinging them.

The night after Ludlam gave his nasty little speech, Abbott delivered his own speech around the corner, in the Great Hall of Parliament House, at the annual dinner of the Australian Forest Products Association. It was an ode to the timber industry that could only be interpreted as a giant finger to the green movement.

"I salute you as people who love the natural world, as people who love what Mother Nature gives us and who want to husband it for the long-term best interests of humanity."

He called foresters the "ultimate conservationists". Which of course they are. They were taking care of trees long before middle-class professional Greens showed up to destroy their livelihood.

A well-kept forest is a joy for flora, fauna and human economic interests. Forest locked away as national parks, on the other hand, we have seen become incinerated moonscapes. After deadly runaway bushfires, the silence of the koalas is deafening and nothing will grow for years.

The scorched earth of a burned out national park can be seen as a metaphor for what the green movement has done to Australia. From Tasmania’s rotten supplicant economy to the corporate victims of the carbon tax, from bulging immigration detention centres to vast green bureaucracies sucking the taxpayer dry for zero environmental gain.

Abbott’s words fell on the room of foresters like a chorus of angels signifying the dawning of the light.

"Man and the environment are meant for each other. The last thing we should want — if we want to genuinely improve our environment … is to ban men and women from enjoying it, is to ban men and women from making the most of it …


The winds of change were visible in the last desperate attempts of climate alarmists to crank up the old scare campaigns this week.

No one is listening, and even Media Watch scorned claims the Opera House will be engulfed by rising seas: "Alarmist nonsense of the sort that brings journalism and climate science into disrepute."

Bravo, at last. Common sense restored to public life.

Welcome to the new world order. No wonder Ludlam and friends are screaming.


Prominent Australian Warmist under attack

Aussie skeptics say they have one of their nation’s top climate alarmist professors cornered in an ongoing battle of words over who holds the high ground on scientific integrity. Scientist, Dr Judy Ryan and her colleague, Dr Marjory Curtis are going public with a series of damning emails they’ve had with government-backed promoters of fears about man-made global warming.

Their latest target is Professor David Karoly, a climatologist who they claim dishonestly championed a government campaign to depict human carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as black smoke, contrary to scientific fact.

Dr Ryan reports, "On 18th February 2014 I sent an email to David Karoly with Marjory Curtis, a retired geologist, as my co-signer. Approximately 180 australian and overseas media outlets, politicians, universities, including their student newspapers, and prominent climate hysteria mongers were openly copied in."

Ryan and Curtis are among many highly-qualified scientists who, as skeptics of the wrong-headed hysteria over supposed man-made global warming, are fighting to restore scientific integrity.

Dr Curtis says Karoly’s "error" over the CO2 as black smoke "may have been a fortuitous oversight" for the cause of alarmists who some say are trying to dupe the public on the issue.

Judy Curtis has advised Karoly all the correspondence, because of its significance to public policy, will be published as open letters. She says, "We replied 21st February and added in our fellow skeptics. So there are now close to 220 observers for Karoly’s next response. To date we have not heard back, but it is early days yet."

The first letter and Karoly’s immediate response are below.

As with many independent scientists frustrated with the apparent bias of government climatologists, Ryan understands that such public emails are becoming a powerful tool and she provides many helpful tips on how to formulate and send them. She tells readers "Feel free to copy, paste and use  them, and if you have questions you only need to ask."

18th February 2014

Dear Professor Karoly,

We have been writing to you for a year requesting that you provide one credible study that supports your hypothesis of catastrophic, human caused global warming (CAGW). You have not been able to provide one. The  letters and your responses are all on the public record

In March 2013 we issued you the opportunity to either renounce your alarmist claims on the ABC news, or publicly provide empirical data-based evidence, that is available for scientific scrutiny, to support them.

Almost a year has passed and still you have not provided the evidence.

We remind you that the Australian people are experiencing financial disadvantage as a result of the host of policies and administrative decisions driven by advice regarding the science of climate change. Is that advice false or misleading? Does it deceive by concealing or omitting or embellishing or misrepresenting relevant facts?

 The definition of fraud is, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, quote: "a false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives and is intended to deceive another so that he shall act upon it to his legal injury."

According to Malcolm Roberts author of the CSIROh! report , you are prominently involved in many taxpayer-funded climate bodies fomenting unfounded climate alarm. One of your roles is that you are Editor-In-Chief of the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM’s) in-house journal. On page 10 of his report’s Appendix 7, Malcolm Roberts cites Peter Bobroff’s analysis, quote: "Publishing the research. The Bureau of Meteorology has its own in-house journal: the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal (prev Aust. Meteorol. Mag.). The editor-in-chief responsible for the defence of the scientific method, elimination of all types of bias, automatic release of all relevant data and code is none other than David Karoly – the strident proponent of human causation of future catastrophic global warming. The BOM itself has taken a strong partisan position on the subject."

Despite your BOM responsibilities, Malcolm Roberts adds, quote: "Yet David Karoly has repeatedly publicly contradicted empirical scientific evidence".

According to their website you also appear to be BOM’s principal author. Graphs on the following pages were obtained or produced by various independents non-aligned examiners and auditors of BOM records. Are you are the author of the original regional temperature data or graphs used by BOM?

Every graph shows that the raw data, which shows either a flat or downward (cooling) trend has been "adjusted" to a warming trend.  Are you are associated in any way with producing BOM’s adjusted graphs? If so, in our opinion it is very misleading of both you and the BOM personnel to adjust the data to the extent that it misrepresents reality. We also think that it is very misleading of both you and BOM  to omit to declare to the Australian people  that you have "adjusted" the raw data.

Under Australia’s strong democracy no one is above the law. Judges, politicians, scientists, academics, senior public servants, and managing directors can be held to account for breaching their fiduciary duty.

It seems that you have prominent roles across many taxpayer-funded entities promoting unfounded and unscientific claims of anthropogenic global warming and contradicting empirical scientific evidence. Your many prominent roles place you at the hub of the web of such agencies. You have thereby positioned yourself perfectly for answering our fundamental and straight-forward questions. As taxpayers and concerned scientists we look forward to your evidence based response. It is not a good look if you do not acknowledge this very public letter.

In closing, if there is anything we have said that you think is untrue please click reply all and let us know and we will apologise.

Dr Judy Ryan

Dr Marjorie Curtis

David Karoly clicked "Reply All" and sent this email within 24 hours.

On 19 Feb 2014, at 6:11 am, David John Karoly wrote:

Hi Judy,

It's interesting to receive another of your emails as they keep me amused.

If you are so convinced that I have committed fraud, I recommend that you pass the evidence to my employer, the University of Melbourne; the major funder of my research, the Australian Research Council, and to the police. In the past, your claims have been considered and dismissed, as have those from Malcolm Roberts. I am sure that you will find that further evidence of a conspiracy.

All the evidence of the human causes of global warming is assessed thoroughly in the 5th assessment report of the IPCC, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, available at

The specific chapter on human causation, Chapter 10 Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional

 Is available at

No doubt you will again refuse to accept this evidence.

I have no idea what you mean when you state "you also appear to be BOM’s principal author".

I am not "the author of the original regional temperature data or graphs used by BOM".

I recommend that you contact the Bureau of Meteorology or look carefully at their web site for the sources of their data and the reasons for the adjustments to minimise inhomogeneities.

As always, I keep your emails and refer them to the legal office at the University of Melbourne.

David Karoly


Prof David Karoly

School of Earth Sciences

University of Melbourne, VIC 3010, AUSTRALIA

ph:  +61 3 8344 xxxx

fax: +61 3 8344 xxxx



From: Judy Ryan ;

Subject: [execnzcsc] Re: Do These Temperature Graphs Represent Reality? That is the Question

Date: 21 February 2014 10:29:49 am AEDT

To: David John Karoly ;Dear Professor Karoly, and about 220 other observers


Dear Professor Karoly,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

 I have included other scientists, including past and present IPCC reviewers in this reply to you. These scientists are much more conversant with the Working Group Ones final, final report than either Dr Curtis or I.  But, I assure you I have read Working Group Ones final draft report, which was released to the public as an unapproved draft.  Dr Curtis and I will be looking and learning as we see the evidence  from the final, final report unfold.

 In your response below you have stated that you are not the author of the original BOM temperature graphs. But, you have not answered the second part of the question. 

It is an honest, straightforward, legitimate question.

Professor Karoly, are you the author of the BOM’s  adjusted/homogenised graphs shown below?

Please click Reply All and answer the question.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Respectfully yours

Dr Judy Ryan

Dr Marjorie Curtis

P.S. Dr Curtis and I  will appreciate your courtesy in addressing both of us in your correspondence.  Marjory has been an active skeptic for more than three decades, and as many of her students know, she is a force to be reckoned with.


Crammed Australian Curriculum needs review, says Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek

QUEENSLAND’S Education Minister says concerns that there is too much to teach in the Australian Curriculum is a reason it needs to be reviewed.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek confirmed yesterday that teachers had spoken to him about the issue.

His comments followed revelations in The Courier-Mail that the state’s two non-government school sectors would warn the Australian Curriculum review, which was in Brisbane, of the problem.

"Teachers tell me that in the early implementation, because it’s only been a couple of years, there literally has been too much to get through," Mr Langbroek said. "That’s why we need to have it reviewed."

In its submission to the review, Independent Schools Queensland warned teachers were being forced to rush children through lessons.

The Queensland Catholic Education Commission also raised similar concerns about the curriculum yesterday.


Joyce fends off more jobs speculation

The union parasites in the Qantas workforce -- particularly the maintenance unions -- certainly need a boot up the bum

QANTAS chief Alan Joyce will not rule out sending more jobs offshore if able to do so under legislative changes being considered by federal parliament.

The airline is committed to slashing 5000 jobs as part of a $2 billion cost-cutting program, and as the coalition government proposes changes to the Qantas Sale Act, Mr Joyce will not forecast how many additional Australian positions could be lost.

"I'm not going to rule anything in or anything out," he told a Senate hearing in Canberra on Tuesday.

The airline boss faced repeated questioning about the impact on jobs of changing the Act, which would allow greater foreign ownership of Qantas's domestic arm.

But he said the airline has done no such modelling and refuses to deal in hypotheticals.

"We have no more plans on that," Mr Joyce said when asked of the jobs impact on different divisions of the company including maintenance, flight crew, catering and management.

Mr Joyce's position at the Qantas helm, which he has held since 2008, came under fire from Labor senator Sam Dastyari, who cited a drop in share price of more than 50 per cent since his appointment.

"If it was in the interests of shareholder value ... for you to resign would you do so?" Senator Dastyari asked.

Mr Joyce insisted that he has the support of the Qantas board.

"The important thing is to have the support of the shareholders and I continuously meet with the shareholders," Mr Joyce said.

A refresh of the Qantas board is the answer to the airline's problems, not legislative changes to the Act, Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary Stephen Purvinas told the hearing.

"I would suggest that the government stop dealing with the current board of management until such time as they replace the CEO, they replace the chairman and they put someone with aviation background on the board," Mr Purvinas said.

He said the board is made up of bankers and people with corporate backgrounds, who lack an understanding of aviation issues.

Furthermore he said Qantas has purposefully lost money to back the federal government into a corner to change the Act.

"Qantas are intentionally creating this drama and all of the hype around them struggling internationally so that they can suck you guys into changing the Qantas Sale Act," Mr Purvinas said.

The Senate economics committee is due to report on March 24.

The ACTU forecast the number of Australian Qantas job losses would stretch to a five-digit figure under changes to the Act.

"If you add up the predictions that we have from affiliates generally in relation to Qantas group, a figure of 10,000 is obtained," union assistant secretary Tim Lyons told the same hearing.

He said staff morale at the airline was "sombre".

"The immediate impact if this bill was to go through ... would be a massive offshoring of the heavy maintenance base at Brisbane," Electrical Trades Union spokesman Matthew Murphy said.

Maintenance operations at Sydney and Melbourne would also be sent offshore, he added.

Mr Joyce labelled as "fear mongering" union claims that Qantas safety standards would be compromised if the Act was amended.

Both onshore maintenance operations and those based overseas had to be approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, he said.


18 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is disgusted by the aggression and foul language used at the latest Leftist demonstration

Why keep letting this filth out?

A sexual sadist with a history of horrific assaults on women dating back to when he was 15 has been released from jail by a Supreme Court judge in Perth.

The inmate, referred to as "TJD" for legal reasons, has been released despite being classed as one of Western Australia's worst sex offenders.

In a decision handed down last week, Commissioner Kevin Sleight revoked an indefinite detention order handed to "TJD" in 2011, which came after attacks on 13 women, including seven times when he used a weapon or replica weapon to threaten his victim into submission.

"Great care needs to be taken to ensure that another woman is not the subject of such an attack, which is likely to have long-term and severe psychological consequences," Mr Sleight said.

However, Mr Sleight said he was satisfied "TJD" could be released under a strict 10-year supervision order, which will include wearing a GPS tracking device.

He will have to abide to a night-time curfew, and is banned from unsupervised access to children.

"Although Mr TJD is a serious sex offender, the level of supervision, monitoring and treatment is such that the risk factors identified earlier ... are substantially controlled and minimised," Mr Sleight said.

The man's criminal history began in 1991 when he attacked three women in two days - culminating in a rape of a 17-year-old girl he threatened at gunpoint in a toilet block.

After three more attacks that year, TJD was sentenced in Perth Children's Court to three years detention.

Six weeks after being released, he committed indecent assaults, which led to more prison time.

In 2000, he raped a teenager a knifepoint after abducting her as she walked home from a train station.

And in 2003, he assaulted an 18-year-old woman in a Perth cemetery as she visited her grandmother's grave.

Having been jailed indefinitely in 2011, TJD was released on a supervision order in 2012 - which he breached almost immediately.

He failed to take his anti-libidinal medication, failed to complete his psychological counselling and used cannabis, and was again jailed.


No more Mr Nice Guy  for illegal immigrants

People smugglers are continuing to entice asylum seekers to Australia from Indonesia, despite ramped-up efforts by the government to stop the boats.

In a report by the ABC's 7.30, asylum seekers filmed their harrowing journey aboard an orange lifeboat provided by the Australia government as they were towed back for a second time to Indonesia.

"We will die in this orange boat. It's not suitable for passing the ocean," Arash Sedigh said he told the Australian officials, as he was allegedly forced onto the small orange vessel.

To which the officials allegedly replied: "That's not our problem. That's yours. If you die in the Indonesia water, makes Indonesian government in trouble and responsible. That's not our problem."

Boarding the people smuggler's wooden boat on January 27 with 34 others – including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old child – this was the second time Mr Sedigh, an Iranian asylum seeker, and his wife, Azi, had attempted the journey.

"When we arrive and Customs come inside our wooden boat, I just ask them 'Please, please, help us. Would you please take us in a safe place? They just shouted at me, 'Shut up! Shut up! Sit down!'", Mr Sedigh told the ABC.

"They pushed us. They punched us. We were just asking for our rights."

After Mr Sedigh asked for a doctor to treat the pregnant woman on board the wooden boat, and was allegedly denied by Australian officials, he became increasingly angry.

"I told them, I will kill you if you don't take us with that ship. I have nothing to lose. I will kill you. Believe me. For Jesus Christ please help us. Would you please help us?"

Responding to the program, the Immigration Department said there were "clear guidelines to govern the use of force".

"Central to these guidelines is to ensure that operations are conducted safely for both our own officers and persons who are the subject of these operations," a spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.

"For the past 88 days there has not been a single successful maritime people smuggling venture to Australia."

Even so, Mr Sedigh says people smugglers are still trying to encourage him and his wife to try again.

"They are trying to send us again they say us: 'if you want we can send you again several times but you cannot get back give back your money'," he told the ABC.

During the boat trip capture on video, Mr Sedigh provided a running commentary to the journey.

"This put us in this f---ing orange boat and sent us back to Indonesia and the navy was escorting that ship until today," he said. "F--- Australia."

"I said to them 'you are criminals'. If later on you said 'why did they do that to America on September 11?' you should know the cause of it, is you very deeds.  "They should remember 9/11 for the United States," he said.

This is not the first time asylum seekers have described their vomitous and terrifying experience aboard the orange life boats, which are the government's latest weapon against people smuggling.

Earlier this month, asylum seekers told Fairfax Media of their forced trip inside the lifeboat back to Indonesia.

Mr Sedigh told the ABC he would not attempt the journey again.  "No, I have two times bad experiences about this trip, I don't want to make my wife in trouble again. I want her for living together, I don't want to make her die."


Supreme Court Justice Philip McMurdo backs debate over prior crimes

TELLING juries about defendants’ prior convictions is a change worth debating, according to a senior Queensland judge.

Prosecutors are not permitted to tell juries about criminal histories, an issue that was highlighted when the shocking history of Brett Peter Cowan, the repeat sex offender convicted of the murder of Daniel Morcombe, was revealed.

Supreme Court Justice Philip McMurdo – who was speaking as the President of the Judicial Conference of Australia – said the change was "a proper subject for public discussion".

He added that he was not speaking about any particular case and stressed that debate must be considered and informed.

"This complex subject cannot be discussed fairly in the space of a few sentences," Justice McMurdo said.

"But any change to the law in Queensland on this subject should be made with the benefit of the independent advice of the Queensland Law Reform Commission."

The debate has the backing of Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie and Supreme Court Justice Paul de Jersey. Mr Bleijie said yesterday he was happy to discuss the idea.

The judge sentenced Daniel Morcombe?s killer to life imprisonment but Queensland law means despite his depraved history of child sex offences, Brett Peter Cowan could walk free in 20 years.

"The Government’s priority has been ensuring that appropriate deterrents and adequate punishments for serious criminal offences are set," he said.

"It’s a debate that some Queenslanders have called for, and is worth having, but we need to take into account how it could affect a person’s right to a fair trial, free of prejudice."

Similar fact evidence can be tendered in Queensland courts but a prosecution attempt to have Cowan’s convictions presented to the jury was refused by Supreme Court Justice Roslyn Atkinson.

Justice Atkinson sentenced Cowan to a non-parole period of 20 years. In Cowan’s previous cases, charges were downgraded and jurors never heard about his past criminal acts. Some commentators have said Daniel might be alive if the justice system had thrown the book at Cowan at his first or second trial.

Cowan served little time in Queensland and the Northern Territory for serious sexual assaults against children.

Last year, Justice de Jersey expressed support for change.  "Why ... should a jury be denied knowledge that an alleged rapist committed another rape six months earlier ... or that an accused charged with fraud has a string of convictions for dishonesty?" he said.

"I trust the intelligence and wisdom of my fellow citizens. I do not accept a claim that, made aware of prior misconduct, jurors would automatically say: ‘He did that so he must have done this’."

Child protection groups applauded the position but the Bar Association of Queensland opposes the move.


Taxman wields the axe on unsatisfactory workers

The Australian Taxation Office sacked six of its workers in the second half of last year for failing to show up to their jobs, according to the giant department's latest disciplinary snapshot.

Another six tax officials were fired for being lousy workers and five were shown the door after breaching the Australian Public Service code of conduct.

The figures were sent to all 23,000 of the department's staff on Monday morning with a stern warning to miscreants that even if they escape the sack, a disciplinary "sanction" will stay on the permanent record.

The friendly advice went out in a newsletter as thousands of tax officials discover if they have been granted their wish of a golden handshake from the organisation.

Several hundred applicants, out of 2100 hopefuls, will be notified on Monday and Tuesday if they get their hoped-for payout or if they have to stay at their desks for the foreseeable future.

Tax's staff newsletter ATO Extra reported the results of formal investigations from July 1 to December 31, 2013, reporting 17 sackings, 12 of them under the ATO Employment Principles and another five under the PS code of conduct.

Six of the employment principles casualties were dumped for "failure to conform to attendance obligations," while another six were fired for "underperformance".

Four tax officials were demoted over breaches of the public service code while another 13 had their wages reduced.

One lucky bureaucrat escaped punishment for an undisclosed breach, while another two resigned after breaking the rules.

Tax bosses also announced on Monday that more redundancies will be offered than initially announced, in anticipation of many applicants developing cold feet.

It was expected that 300 offers would be made, with another 200 redundancies offered to workers at the abolished Australian Valuation Office.

But second Taxation Commissioner Geoff Leeper told his workers on Monday that he expected initial enthusiasm for a payout to fade in some cases. "Following careful assessment of our financial position, a decision was made to offer more than the forecast number of VR offers on the basis that we expect some people will not take up the offer," Mr Leeper wrote.

Most applicants for redundancies will have been notified by Monday afternoon and have two working days to tell their bosses. A one-month "consultation" period will then follow before final offers are made.


17 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is disgusted by the Leftist lies purveyed by Australia's public broadcaster, the ABC

Indigenous higher education gathers momentum

The number of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who have completed PhDs has quadrupled in the past two decades, according to Department of Education data.

And on past form, I am betting that every one of them had mostly white ancestry  -- JR

Aborigines entered higher education in the 1950s but the first PhD was not completed until 1980. Only 55 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students completed PhDs in Australia from 1990 to 2000 but 219 students completed doctorates in the 11 years to 2011. Although still below parity, the growth looks set to continue with a second generation of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders entering academia.

There were 143 PhDs awarded in the five years to 2012 and another 324 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were enrolled in PhDs in 2012, according to the data.

Ian Anderson, assistant vice-chancellor for indigenous higher education policy at Melbourne University, said the increase represented "a maturation of the education agenda and … a growing intergenerational achievement".

"It will enable Aboriginal people to input into the knowledge economy, inspire policy and influence political decision making, leadership and institutional reform," Professor Anderson said.

Sana Mary Nakata, 30, daughter of Professor Martin Nakata, the first Torres Strait Islander to complete a PhD, teaches political theory at Melbourne University.

"I would like the intellectual potential and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recognised," she said.


Tony Abbott's war on red tape starts with repeal day

The federal government's promise to cut $1 billion in red tape annually will be put to the test on Wednesday when it begins repealing more than 8000 redundant regulations and laws.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will begin the repeal process this week with the introduction of an omnibus red tape repeal bill, designed to cut bureaucratic compliance costs for business and households by more than $300 million.

More than a dozen other bills designed to strip away regulation and red tape will be introduced on Wednesday by cabinet ministers in their individual portfolios.

The sweeping repeal of laws and regulations will affect every sector of the economy, from small business to aged care to immigration to the rules around government procurement and grants.

The red tape reduction omnibus bill is designed to reduce the volume of regulation, eliminate duplication between state and federal governments, improve consultation with business and ensure greater transparency and efficiency within the public service.

Mr Abbott's parliamentary secretary for deregulation, Josh Frydenberg, will release a rule book for bureaucrats on Monday designed to keep red tape down.

Mr Frydenberg said the new rule book, which applies to all the public service, was designed to achieve cultural change and ensure regulation was a last resort for mandarins, not the default option.

"We do not want to get rid of every regulation, what we are on about is better regulation, only implementing new regulations after establishing what the cost of compliance is, what the impact is on key stakeholders after consultation, and what is its impact on innovation and investment," he said.

Mr Frydenberg said there were more than 80 examples of the former government ignoring its own requirement for a regulatory impact statement on new laws, and that practice had to end.

"Key legislative changes like the carbon and mining tax, the national broadband network and the changes to Fair Work laws were all exempted by the former government from the regulatory impact statement process," he said.

"All cabinet submissions that have a major regulatory impact will now be subject to a regulatory impact statement and all senior ministers are required to establish a deregulation unit within their department."

The government blames the Rudd and Gillard governments for introducing more than 21,000 regulations during their six years in power. It has promised to hold two repeal days annually.


Distinguished Army officer dismissed over truth telling

Criticising Islam, gays sets army major up for a fall

Major Bernie Gaynor jnr has served three tours of duty in Iraq but he is going to be thrown out of the army this week, or next, or very soon. And he is not going quietly.

Last week, I attended a conference in Melbourne called the Symposium on Islam and Liberty in Australia, organised by the Q Society, and Gaynor was one of the speakers. I also interviewed him at length about why a patriotic, articulate Australian intelligence officer, now serving in the Army Reserve, has become an unbearable presence for the Chief of Army, among others.

In his blog, Gaynor describes himself as "a conservative Catholic who writes what normal men dare not speak out loud". I put it to him that his commentary online and on Twitter had evolved into a provocation to the army.

"Absolutely," he replied.

Everyone listening to his speech in Melbourne quickly understood why, and I quote: "It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that the Australian Defence Force has a fundamentally broken approach to religion, an approach shaped partly by the triumph of bureaucratic administration over battlefield considerations but mostly by plain old political correctness.

"Political correctness has cost lives on the battlefield and resulted in completely flawed campaign strategies … [The ADF] has spent the last decade at war with people who fight for their religious beliefs. And part of the problem that comes with fighting people who are motivated by religious belief is that you need to have soldiers equally motivated to oppose them.

"As a Catholic, I understand why people are motivated to do things based on religious belief, rather than what would seem to be rational on a purely secular level. As an intelligence officer, it is a valuable insight to have … but the ADF has a fundamentally flawed understanding of Islam.

"Just look at Iraq. I was one of the last Australians to serve there. All the politicians and military hierarchy were saying the withdrawal of Western military force was based on success. And yet al-Qaeda today controls more of Iraq than it ever did while Western forces were in the country, or while Saddam Hussein was in power.

"The Iraq war was a failure because no one can say why we were there, who the enemy was or what the mission was … This has cost lives and wasted a decade and a half of war. In a strategic sense, Iraq and Afghanistan are no better for the blood shed by Australian soldiers.

"In Afghanistan, the government has a constitution based on Islamic law and teaching, just as the Taliban's regime was. So the efforts of the last decade to remove the threat in Afghanistan from Islamic groups has directly led to the creation of an Islamic state."

If it were possible to be more provocative to progressive sensibilities, Gaynor found a way. He then turned to the Muslim community in Australia: "The community's participation rate in the ADF is low. There were 88 Muslims in uniform in mid-2013. That means that, while there is one Australian in uniform in every 400, there is only one Muslim in uniform for about every 6000 Muslims in this country.

"This is not because the Islamic community is peaceful. I think there are now nine Australian Muslims who have died in Syria. On a per capita basis, that is equivalent to the ADF losing over 400 soldiers in Afghanistan. So while the Islamic community is 15 times less likely to contribute to our nation's defence, it is 10 times more likely to see its sons die on the battlefield … for a cause that hates Western life, history and culture."

While this is fire and brimstone, what got him into career-ending trouble in the army was his run-in with the gay community within the military. In early last year, Gaynor criticised a law that would prevent Christian schools from barring gay teachers. He lodged a formal complaint about ADF personnel being allowed to take part in uniform in the Sydney Mardi Gras. He cited the military's ban on engaging in political activity while in uniform.

He quoted references to political activism in the constitution of the Mardi Gras. He referred to a tradition of "religious and political vilification" at the Mardi Gras, especially of the Catholic Church. He pointed out that Catholics made up almost 40 per cent of Australian military personnel.

The details go on and on but, in March last year, Major General A. J. Campbell, DSC, wrote requesting his resignation from the army: "In short, army does not share your views, which are both offensive and divisive and not in the interests of army or our people."

The chairman of the Defence Force Gay & Lesbian Information Service, Squadron Leader Vince Chong, weighed in with a complaint that Gaynor's conduct "compromises a person's ability to work within the diverse workforce of the Australian Defence Force, which includes transgender personnel, personnel from Islamic backgrounds and women".

Although internal investigations dismissed the complaints and charges against him, largely because he was expressing personal views while serving in the reserves, the army has moved, in the absence of his resignation, to terminate his commission.

"While I was having this battle," Gaynor told me, "Defence issued a policy that if any uniformed personnel participated in an event that vilified Islam they would be severely dealt with. We now have the absurd situation where the ADF protects the religious beliefs of Islam, while tolerating the vilification of Christianity, the religion that most soldiers identify with."



MWD Issue 215 featured Richard Ackland’s column titled "Welcome back to the days of White Australia".

A Sydney based avid MWD reader has forwarded a screen-shot of the very same article as it appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

1. -Page 5

2. -Page 20

Needless to say, the above links do not support the Herald’s assertion. Australia’s major source countries for skilled migration in 2012-13 were India, China and the United Kingdom. Moreover, according to the available figures, in 2012-13 refugees who were granted visas under the Australian humanitarian program were mostly from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

It seems that the Herald on-line’s White Australia beat-up was just misleading click-bait.


16 March, 2014

Barnaby Joyce defends bogans as part of Australian culture

As a retired sociologist, perhaps I should say something about this.  Joyce in correct in saying that  in matters of dress, the different classes in Australia are not readily distinguished.  You get sloppy dressing rich people and similar dressing among the poor.

But different occupations do have quite different levels of prestige  -- as both Athol Congalton and Anne Daniel have shown.

Income is also not closely tied to status or dress.  "Blue collar" workers such as plumbers can be very high income earners.

"Bogans" are similar to "chavs" in Britain  -- young people of low intelligence from generally poor backgrounds

FEDERAL Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has spoken out in support of "bogans", saying he sees the term as a "consumer choice" and part of Australian culture.

Mr Joyce called in to a talkback program on ABC Radio National about whether Australia had a class system to mount a defence of "bogans".

Introducing himself as "Barnaby from New South Wales", he argued there was no class system in Australia and said he was not sure whether "bogan" was "a pejorative or an accolade".

"If people honestly believed there was a class system (in Australia) then it would be clearly identifiable as you walk down the street," he said.

"And I think even the discussion today between, these pejorative or an accolade – bogan and what would otherwise be middle class – and I think in many instances that’s just a consumer choice.

"We can have people who are obviously vastly wealthier who are so-called bogans than other people in the middle class."

One member of the radio talkback panel, academic Christopher Scanlon, suggested there was a visible class system in Australia because tradespeople were easily identified because of there high-vis work gear.

But Mr Joyce hit back: "They probably earn more than you."

Mr Joyce took a swing at the station, saying it attracted "elitist" listeners and wouldn’t be popular on building sites.

"I would presume that on many worksites at the moment that people with tool-bags are probably unlikely to be listening to this program, even though it’s a great program," he said.

The background of the former Queensland senator who now holds the NSW seat of New England appeared to go unnoticed by the radio station.

Several minutes after Mr Joyce hung up, presenter Natasha Mitchell said some people on Twitter were suggesting "Barnaby" was actually the Agriculture Minister but she did not think that was true.

Mr Joyce later told The Courier-Mail the fact that he was not recognised when he called in to the program proved Australia was a classless society.

He said politicians should embrace "bogans" as "part of Australian culture".

"A lot of people in my office call themselves upper-middle bogans," he said. "I don’t think of it as something pejorative."

"It’s a term of endearment."

Bogans became a hot topic last December when leaked emails revealed Palmer United Party boss Alex Douglas disparaging constituents as bogans.


Insulting the rich for giving to charity

 Do the rich give too much money to charity or too little? Both, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald this week, 'Freedom & Control Are Why the Rich Are Really Charitable.' Remarkably, the article manages to insult the charitable donations of thousands of Australians not once but twice, and in contradictory ways.

The basis for the article is the Tax Office's data for charitable deductions from 2010-11, data which can be interpreted in a number of different ways. The SMH chose to compare donors in the very top band (those making $1,000,000 or more), who gave away an average of 1.8% of their taxable incomes, and those in the very bottom band (those making $6,000 or less), who gave away an average of 22%.

This is a misleading breakdown for several reasons. Those in the lowest tax band who give to charity may give generously, but very few in that band give at all - only 6.3%, compared with 63.8% of those in the top band. If non-donors were included in the calculations for that bracket, the average would come out to 1.4% of taxable income.

Secondly, a large number of those in the $6,000-or-less band are retirees with significant net worth but little income, who, as Professor Myles McGregor Lowndes explains, 'give away substantial amounts so they don't have to pay income tax.'

Both bands came in higher than the national average for charitable deductions, which was 0.35% of taxable income.

These figures hardly justify the SMH reporter's claim that 'the rich pinch their pennies,' and they definitely do not justify Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosbie's assertion in the article that the poor 'feel a sense of collective ownership of our wellbeing,' while the rich 'tend to be more disconnected from the broader community.'

The second half of the article's one-two punch is even more objectionable. The reporter insinuates that the rich actually give too much money to charity, since those dollars would have otherwise gone to the government in taxes.

'Taxpayers cannot control how public funds are distributed but because charitable donations are voluntary, they let people feel in control of at least part of the tax pie,' the reporter writes. She adds: 'Whether individuals are more effective than the government at redistributing wealth is questionable.'

Instead of referring to 'the tax pie' in the above quote, the reporter might more accurately have referred to 'their own money.' The 'control' to which she gives such a derogatory spin is in fact a perfectly laudable desire to put one's donations where they will do the most good, even if that means less for the tax man. The proper response to such generosity is not 'Too much!' or 'Too little!' but simply 'Thank you.'


The undemocratic Labor party in Qld.

WHEN will the Labor Party wake up? With polls showing the gloss has come off both the Newman and Abbott Governments wouldn't you think the powers that control the local ALP would be prepared to allow a little democracy?

Sadly no. Certain factional warlords are back playing their same old tired destructive games, shoe-horning the Australian Workers' Union's gormless show pony Cameron Dick into an expected safe Labor seat without giving locals a say in the preselection. They're also doing deals to deny local members a say in the seat of Mt Coot-tha.

So many times I've considered leaving the Labor Party because of this sort of mindless, selfish game-playing which denies members' rights, selects often mediocre, careerist candidates and feeds into the hands of Labor's political opponents. I fought three plebiscites. I lost one, won one comfortably and scraped home on the third. No one is entitled to a free run. No one.

The ALP should use a long period in Opposition to begin the process of reform and rebuilding. As seductive as recent opinion polls may be that somehow the ALP might do the unthinkable and steal back power from Campbell Newman, harder heads know that's virtually impossible.

I was Newman's deputy for four years in that odd couple partnership in Brisbane City Council (2004-2008). He's canny and smart and isn't about to become a "oncer".

We need to use the inevitable two or more terms in Opposition to convince not only the electorate but ourselves that we are a different party - broadly based, free from union control and with strong thinking individuals who'll put their electorates first.

State Secretary Anthony Chisholm and the current administrative leadership should start by resigning and handing over to new blood and new ways. We need the likes of former Premiers Steve Bracks, Mike Rann and Geoff Gallop to assess the state of the Queensland branch and put ideas forward for renewal.

As a former leader of the Labor municipal team and councillor for 25 years I've come to the conclusion that the current Queensland Labor powerbrokers have neither the wit nor the gut for reform and never will.

The Labor Party needs a wider base. It needs to get out from under the stranglehold of key union thugs. Unions play an important role in keeping the playing field honest for workers but the days when a few unionists rule the Labor Party and designate jobs for mates is so last century.

A contemporary party, in my opinion, needs to select candidates through primary elections where party supporters in the wider community can register and have a vote as well as party members. No candidate should be given a free pass to run for office, no matter how many times they've shined the shoes of their union masters.

Lastly, it's time for ALP caucus members to be allowed to vote according to their conscience on all issues affecting their electorates.

If you have candidate selection by real people in the 'burbs and take it out of the hands of two or three obnoxious union heavies, you'll get candidates who are connected to P & Cs, local neighbourhood and community groups and not the usual flunkeys from central casting.

And when they're in Parliament they should have the inviolable right to vote exactly as they see fit when the issue affects their electorates directly - without repercussions or recrimination. I introduced that practice in the council Labor team when I was leader. I tried to get it formally adopted by the Labor Party but unions opposed it. They were concerned they'd lose power. I still prefer Labor but unless much needed reform actually happens then maybe it's time for this tired ALP member of 41 years to call it a day.


Liberals claim victory in Tasmanian state election

A nasty one for the Greenies, whose work of destroying Tasmanian industries will now be halted

Winning Liberal leader Will Hodgman claimed an emphatic mandate for change in the Tasmanian election after his party was swept to majority government.

Mr Hodgman appeared to have taken up to 14 seats in the 25 seat House of Assembly as Labor and Green votes fell away, according to election analysts.

"We will be decisive and we will not, we will not, adopt a business as usual approach," Mr Hodgman told cheering supporters in the Hobart tally room on Saturday night.

"Tasmanians have voted for change and that is what they will get."

Both outgoing Labor premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim implored Mr Hodgman in their speeches not to re-ignite the state's protracted forests conflict.

"I say tonight to Will Hodgman, don't take us back to war," Mr McKim said. "Protect those forests and protect our people from another four years of bitter conflict."

But Mr Hodgman went to the election promising to tear up a peace deal drawn up by industry and environmental groups.

"We intend to deliver on all those things we have committed to Tasmanians," he said. "That includes in our forest industry, and supporting those regional towns who have voted resoundingly for a change for a better state."

Ms Giddings was returned to parliament, but her potential successor David O'Byrne looked to have been squeezed out by the size of the swing to the Liberals, potentially leaving the ALP with as few as six seats.

In the cut-up of preferences, the Greens were clinging to four seats, with the final make-up of the House of Assembly was unlikely to be known for weeks.

"After 16 years Tasmanians have voted for change and I congratulate Will Hodgman," Ms Giddings said. "I'm proud to be part of this Labor government and all we've done."

She admitted that it had been difficult to sell the message of Labor achievements after so long in power, but her campaign was dogged by dissent inside the party.

Backbencher Brenton Best, repeatedly voiced his disapproval of the party leader, and said Labor should have broken an alliance with the Greens.

As he trailed in his own seat, Mr Best repeated his demands. "I had suggested she should have stood aside and if she had we might have had a different result tonight," he said.

Despite a prominent campaign by billionaire party leader Clive Palmer, the Palmer United Party's vote fell away from the 2013 federal result that brought in senator-elect Jacquie Lambie in Tasmania.

"I think they would have done better to pack up and go home a fortnight ago," said Greens MP Tim Morris.  "They would have had a better result."

Morris admitted he was hanging on to his own seat by his fingernails.


14 March, 2014

Liberal candidate for Elder, Carolyn Habib, labels State Election campaign material 'filthy and racist'

Her own surname is 'filthy and racist'?  She should change it in that case

LIBERAL candidate for the seat of Elder Carolyn Habib says campaign material authorised by the Labor Party is a "filthy and racist" attack on her surname.

The flyer cover has the words "can you trust Habib" set against what appears to be an old wall.

Ms Habib is a Marion city councillor, and the flyer says rates have increased since Ms Habib was elected to the council.

In an interview on ABC 891 radio this morning, Ms Habib said she thought the flyer was very offensive and un-Australian.

"I think it is a very thinly veiled racist attack against my surname," she said.  "It's a new low and a very, very filthy campaign in what has already been a dirty campaign over the past few weeks."

Ms Habib said she was born in Alice Springs, her father is from Lebanon and her mother is from Canada.

"For me I grew up in Alice Springs, I was born in Alice Springs and everyone who has met me knows how Australian I am," she said.

"I am really surprised this has come in and it's just such a low. We should be talking about things that are important to the community not feeding into a racist attack. So yeah, I am surprised somebody would stoop to this level to win the seat."


Union thug fined

UNION boss Joe McDonald has been fined $30,500 and banned from a Perth construction site for three years for bullying.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union WA branch assistant secretary Joe McDonald was found by the Federal Court this week to have threatened to have workers thrown off "every construction site you’re on in Perth" if they didn’t participate in a strike.

Mr McDonald was also found to have blocked access to the Mundaring Water Treatment Plant when a contractor tried to enter a site closed due to industrial action in March last year, and to have held an employee by the neck and raised his fist at them.

The site, managed by Brookfield Multiplex, was in the third day of a strike reportedly called for by CFMEU.

The Federal Court in Perth yesterday fined Mr McDonald $30,500 and slapped an additional $143,000 fine on the CFMEU.

The union was also reportedly ordered to pay $500,0000 in compensation for the water plant strike and action at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Mr McDonald has been banned from entering a Brookfield Multiplex site for three years.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been challenged to expel Mr McDonald from the Labor Party after he was fined.

Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz has said the example of "appalling bullying and intimidation" warranted action by Mr Shorten.

"This issue is now a test of Bill Shorten’s leadership and a test of his political sincerity," Senator Abetz said.

"If Mr Shorten is really concerned about workplace bullying he must act now to have McDonald again expelled from the ALP.

"This is a fundamental leadership issues as to the type of people and conduct Mr Shorten embraces in the Labor Party."

In 2007, then opposition leader Kevin Rudd expelled Mr McDonald from the party after the WA Supreme Court released footage a tape showing the unionist abusing a company representative.

Mr Rudd said the unionist had also made "inappropriate and unacceptable" comments outside a Perth court about then PM John Howard.

When the unionist was asked if he had a word for Mr Howard, he replied: "John’s gone. You know that. I’ll be back."

That was the last straw for Mr Rudd, who said he had no time for Mr McDonald’s "thuggery".  Mr McDonald rejoined the party in April last year.

Senator Abetz said that Mr McDonald was again seen to have "contempt for the law".

Labor’s workplace relations spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, said the party should decide on Mr McDonald’s future membership, not Mr Shorten.

"It is not a dictatorship. The Labor Party is a democratic organisation and the party will decide the fate of any of its members," Mr O’Connor said.

"It should not be the case that leaders have a capacity to have an edict over what happens. I would not expect Tony Abbott to do anything comparable."


Shorten must clean the slate if Labor is to advance


BILL Shorten, Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese have at least two things in common — they are all mates of mine and they are all wrong on industry policy.

I keep saying that Labor must present itself as a party undergoing reform. If ordinary punters are given the impression that Labor is stubbornly clinging to the policies that were rejected so comprehensively in the election held just six months ago, then Labor is doomed to see history repeat itself.

Standing at the factory gate throwing heaps of cash at failing businesses has never and will never work. If the problems that are causing a business to fail cannot be remedied by other means then the option of governments hurling money willy nilly in their direction will always fail to keep the doors open.

There may well be something admirable in the Opposition Leader painting himself as the defender of manufacturing jobs because once the boom has been lowered on those affected they face a very uncertain future.

There is, however, nothing admirable in hearing the claim made by Labor’s industry spokesman, Kim Carr. His claim that Toyota would have continued to manufacture cars in Australia had Labor stayed in power could have been almost humorous if it weren’t so tragic. To be so utterly ignorant of the problems of economies of scale, an overvalued dollar and overseas giants wanting to know that they could expect a profit at some stage in the relatively near future, is truly sad. Labor needs to be better than that.

The Opposition Leader took no action to get the good senator to pull his head in, so it is reasonable to assume he has the same view. Australia’s future will not be in trying to keep afloat heavy industries that cannot compete in a global environment. It is cruel to pretend to ordinary workers in these industries that there is a way to save their jobs.

The car industry may close down and then there is a clear role for traditional Labor values to guide Shorten and his team. While there may be no way of saving these jobs there must be a plan to retrain those affected. There needs to be a package of relocation allowances for those workers who can find work in other cities and those who may be directed to other cities. The victims of rationalisation could do with a good dose of Labor tradition.

The announcement that SPC Ardmona was signing a $70 million contract to provide fruit and juices to Woolworths made the whole idea of caving in to their request for government money look truly stupid. It is not Shorten or the opposition’s job to make the Prime Minister and the Treasurer look good. Sharman Stone did a great job defending her constituents but she looks pretty silly as well. It is simply not possible to believe that the company did not know about the likelihood of this deal being consummated at the very time it held out the begging bowl. The business of begging has been rendered disreputable by the behaviour of both SPC and Qantas.

I must congratulate the Qantas PR machine on the wonderful job they have done in getting Alan Joyce before the public and the relevant government ministers. Nonetheless, it must be frustrating for those same people to watch Joyce butcher every single opportunity. It is not their fault that the salesman is a joke and the message is a crock. To hear the Qantas chief executive do all that speaking without once acknowledging fault is just plain breathtaking. To have pursued strategies in Asia that have produced an ever widening black hole down which to pour hundreds of millions of much needed dollars is a disaster way beyond covering up. To throw more capacity on to the domestic market (already suffering from oversupply) in a vainglorious attempt to maintain 65 per cent market share and to not even attempt the merest hint of regret or sorrow for the folly is extraordinary.

Neither the government nor the opposition have shown any courage in this regard. While the Qantas board is chockers with the good old boys of Liberal big business, it is not too hard to understand why Abbott and Hockey have refrained from uttering any criticism. What then is Shorten’s excuse? As 5000 workers pay the penalty for board and managerial incompetence it is hard to find any sense of outrage in Shorten’s public offerings. If Shorten is to grow in the job he must grasp the odd nettle and make some tough stands. He should have risked the ire of the CFMEU and called for the return of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner. That is one union destined for the bad times as will anyone found to be clinging to it.

The Rudd and Gillard governments made plenty of mistakes. It falls on Shorten to have the courage to own up to those shortcomings. I haven’t met anyone outside of the parliamentary Labor Party who believes that Labor was spot on with its last four budgets. Every minute of the day Australians are discussing the size of our debt and the problems we will bequeath our children unless we live within our means. That Kevin Rudd made a huge blunder in scrapping John Howard’s policies on refugees is now accepted wisdom. The mining tax is little more than a sick joke raising a mere fraction of the pots of gold promised by Rudd and Gillard. To move forward Labor must clean the slate. When you concede what everyone already knows you are not really admitting all that much. Labor must regain economic and policy ascendancy if it is to begin the long march back to power.

Displays of courage and admissions of previous error should not be left to Shorten alone. On Richo and Jones on Sky News, Joe Hockey attempted to defend the maintenance of the promise Tony Abbott made on paid parental leave. Having made the bold speech about the end of the age of entitlement, Hockey had been on a roll. When he tried to defend this profligate policy as some major industrial relations breakthrough he sounded weak and that came during an otherwise strong and decisive performance. Why is it so hard for politicians to say they got something wrong? If you are cutting expenditure all over town how can you possibly justify new spending of billions of dollars on what at least in part is more middle-class welfare?

What is more disturbing is that the Prime Minister and his colleagues are desperately hoping that the Senate will come to their rescue and throw the paid parental scheme out with the garbage. The electorate would love to hear the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition confess to their failures and to bad policy and hear them undertake to do better from now on. I have always believed that when you want to persuade someone to your point of view a good way to start is to say something you know they can agree with. Like priests they will mostly believe in confession. It is not only good for the soul, it may also be good for the party vote as well.


World’s next shale boom taking shape

Top on the list of potential venues for the next shale boom are China, Russia and Argentina, but the world’s next shale revolution likely will be in Australia, which appears to be the most attractive place for companies to pursue tight oil and gas, according to a Lux Research analysis released recently.

While companies have eyed shale development in China, lured by the prospect of huge reserves and easy financing, Australia is said to have the know-how, experience and infrastructure to be a more attractive place to drill into shale plays.

It also beats out Argentina, which has expansive shale reserves, but has experienced political instability despite attractive government incentives, according to the Lux report, written by research associate Daniel Choi.

Australia also emerged as the third top investment destinations in 2014 after US and Brazil, according to a recent research report published by DNV GL, the leading technical advisor to the oil and gas industry.

"Australia does not have the seemingly bottomless development capital of China, or the powerful government incentives of Argentina," the Lux report said. "However, Australia more than makes up for this by having the characteristics conducive to successful commercial production, which other front-runners like Argentina, China, U.K., and Poland lack."

"This includes existing infrastructure, low population density in key shale plays, and citizens who welcome resource extraction through its long mining legacy," the report said.

Massive projects being constructed in Australia to produce and export natural gas to Asia make the country more attractive for shale exploration.

Chevron is leading the development of two massive LNG projects in Australia, at a cost of around $81 billion. The projects will liquefy and ship natural gas to energy hungry Asian nations.

Certainly, investors are eyeing the massive projects going up in Australia to produce and export natural gas to Asia, where it will fetch high prices.

Shale boom in the United States

The massive glut in shale oil and gas resources has brought about drastic changes in the country, with calls now being made for restrictions on crude oil and liquefied natural gas to be lifted.


13 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is down on Clive Palmer


It’s untrue that temperatures are rising unusually and alarmingly. Al Gore’s invented "Tipping Points" have never been specified (& 4); It’s untrue that a 97% consensus of thousands of scientists claims human CO2 is causing warming. Reality is 0.3-1.6%. Regardless, consensus does not determine science. Often, claims of scientific consensus and appeals to authority are used by people lacking evidence.

Otherwise they’d present scientific evidence ( PM Kevin Rudd and the UN IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri stated 4,000 scientists claim human CO2 will cause warming. UN figures reveal that among reviewers of the 2007 report’s sole chapter claiming warming attributed to human CO2 only 5 reviewers endorse the claim. Many thousands of scientists publicly state they disagree with the UN;

It’s untrue that at some unspecified future date there will be catastrophe unless humans cut CO2 output. There are no unusual weather events as claimed: sea levels, ocean acidification (oceans are not acidic they’re alkaline), droughts, floods, storms, extinctions, diseases, fires, snowfall, rainfall, … Many glaciers are growing. Not one city or ocean island has flooded despite Al Gore predicting cities would be shut down by 2000. SEAFRAME study proves no rise of sea at any south Pacific island in the last 20 years.

Al Gore said the Arctic would be ice free by the summer of 2013 yet Arctic sea ice is growing. Regardless, much of the Arctic ice cap is floating and if that melted sea level would not rise. While forecasting sea level rises Tim Flannery and politicians Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Greg Combet and Al Gore bought property adjacent tidal water (Appendices 4a & 12)

Beneficiaries of climate alarm pushing taxing and trading paper CO2 credits and derivatives (Appendix 14):  Major international banks eyeing trillions from trading paper CO2 credits;

UN campaign for unelected global governance. Maurice Strong, foundation Secretary-General of the UN Environmental Program and initiator of unfounded climate alarm repeatedly stated his aim of socialist global governance by unelected UN bureaucrats and abolishing national sovereignty. At the UN’s 2012 COP meeting UN climate chief Christiana Figueres admitted the UN’s "complete economic transformation of the world";

Politicians pushing personal and/or political agenda (& Appendix 12);

Income, appointments and status of prominent academics depended on supporting Labor-Greens government on climate. (& Appendices 9, 10, 11, 13.)

Government agencies, academics and universities receive government grants;

Vested interests take renewable energy subsidies and other funds;

Extremists using unfounded fear and guilt fleece government and citizens;

Failing media networks using fear and sensational emotive headlines grab revenue;

Industry body executives personally endorsing government policy are rewarded by plum appointments on government boards; All beneficiaries are taking money from taxpayers.
Economy (Appendix 16):

Electricity and mobility are not luxuries. Today energy is essential. Raising energy prices most hurts the poor. It’s a highly regressive tax causing fuel poverty and raising death rates;

CO2 ‘trading’ schemes are not market based. They’re arbitrary caps and rationing designed to control people by controlling energy use, making trillions for banks and raising government tax revenue in all parts of our life;

Standard of living falls as productivity decreases due to artificial cost increases;

Australia’s competitive advantage was low cost energy. It’s being destroyed. Our major competitors have no CO2 taxing/trading or much lower CO2 rates with industry loopholes. Aussie jobs are already being exported;

Corruption in 95% of European paper "trading" of CO2 credits;

Instead, cheaper, reliable energy increases productivity that produces wealth and raises living standards and lowers birth rates.
Environment (Appendix 16 and http://www.conscious. and%20humanity_single.pdf)

Industry exiting Australia to third-world countries lacking modern scrubbing equipment increases real pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides and particulates. Taxing Australian CO2 increases real global pollution;

Wasting funds on false UN climate claims diverts intellectual capital, money and resources from real and serious environmental challenges such as water, air and soil pollution and toxins;

Canadian environmentalist Lawrence Solomon shows CO2 trading schemes are the single greatest threat to the global environment because they make every ecosystem subject to manipulation for commercial gain;

‘Licensing’ people who harm the natural environment is not a solution. That enables the rich to keep polluting and transfers license costs to the poor by raising product prices;

Misrepresenting science lowers understanding of real environmental issues. Scientific understanding came from wealth created by efficient, accessible, cheap and environmentally responsible fuels containing carbon and uranium;

Environmental, human health and economic costs of wind-farms;

Chopping forests and diverting food to subsidised biofuels needing huge quantities water;

Modern power stations provide cheap energy to solve real environmental problems. Natural gas, coal, oil and uranium ended devastation of forests and whales previously used for energy and lighting.
Humanitarian (Appendices 16 & 14):

Taxing/trading CO2 increases global poverty. Raising energy prices locks undeveloped nations in misery and high birth rates;

Wasting money and intellectual capital on the climate scam diverts resources from serious humanitarian challenges such as malnutrition, water quality, sanitation, HIV-Aids, mental disease, addictions, hypertension and health, …;

Spreading unfounded toxic fear and guilt, particularly among children, hurts humanity’s future leaders emotionally. Indoctrination of several generations of people on an anti-human and false assumption;

Wasting taxpayer money on inefficient "alternative energies" that are proving to be "alternatives to energy";

Destroying science that liberated humanity from vulnerability to Nature’s variability and extremes;

UN bureaucrats restrict water, food, resources, travel, mobility, finances, energy and residences using unscientific and unsustainable UN Sustainability and UN Biodiversity pushed by unfounded fear of climate catastrophe (14) The UN’s Precautionary Principle is a rhetorical trick rarely applicable to the real world. Its use signifies lack of empirical scientific evidence. It prevents development and omits the enormous opportunity cost of failing to address real environmental and humanitarian challenges and continuing misery for billions of people.
Politics (Appendices 2, 12, 14, 16 & 17):

Greg Combet as Climate Change Minister oversaw tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to Pacific-Hydro wind power company owned by the union super fund he previously directed;

Stated or implied lies and/or misleading omissions by prominent politicians including Julia Gillard, Greg Combet, Kevin Rudd, Penny Wong and Greg Hunt. These people have not been held publicly accountable by MPs deferring to party powerbrokers;

Undermining national sovereignty through UN Agenda 21 bypassing our Federation of sovereign states;

Undermining national governance through UN Agenda 21. Duplication of state and federal bureaucracies;

Stealing private property rights and basic human freedom using UN Agenda 21;

Redistribution of wealth by UN carbon taxing and/or "trading";

Connection to international bankers’ CO2 "pricing" scheme would cede Australia’s sovereignty and governance to bankers;

Despite their documented involvement in implementing UN Agenda 21 prominent politicians such as Greg Hunt deny detailed knowledge of Agenda 21;

All prominent advocates of cutting human CO2 are funded by government. Modern government is working against core responsibilities of protecting life, property and freedom. It has been hijacked by global vested interests; Prominent academics and government agencies funded by taxpayers are misrepresenting climate and science. (Appendices 6, 6a, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) The following advocate cutting human CO2 output and thereby cutting industry and jobs. All have no empirical scientific evidence for their advocacy. All contradict empirical evidence.

CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology. CSIRO Chief Executive is closely connected via past and current memberships of boards of major international banks benefitting from CO2 trading. At international conferences CSIRO scientists have advocated global governance (Appendix 6);

Prominent academics benefiting financially from advocating cutting human CO2: Tim Flannery, David Karoly, Will Steffen, Ross Garnaut, Ove Hoegh- Guldberg, Matthew England, Lesley Hughes, Kurt Lambeck, Andy Pitman and Stefan Lewandowsky. (Appendix 9);

Misrepresentation by some prominent university science departments depending on federal funding (Appendix 11).
Media advocating cuts to human CO2, industry and jobs (Appendices 13 & 13a-13g):

Analysis of ABC TV and Radio programs quantifies ABC’s bias and misrepresentations of climate. Correspondence from the ABC Board confirms that the Board condones staff misrepresenting climate and science;

Fairfax Media newspapers contradict empirical scientific evidence. They resort to false implicit smears including labelling of Jewish holocaust survivor, family and colleagues as anti-Semitic, intimidating sceptic journalists and suppressing free speech. By its inaction the Fairfax Board condones smears and lies brought to its attention in writing;

SMH Environmental reporter Ben Cubby has been requested to provide empirical scientific evidence for his many articles falsely pushing unfounded climate alarm and advocating cutting human CO2. His seven attempted responses fail to provide evidence. He tells lies publicly about those who disagree with his view and helps spread unfounded climate alarm. People suffer cost of living increases on essentials. Economic multipliers increase pain. People suffer through loss of national governance and sovereignty. People lose freedom through stealing of property rights and basic freedoms.

On climate, those advocating cutting human CO2 don’t use the scientific method, have no empirical scientific evidence of human CO2 causing global warming and contradict empirical evidence. Are they meeting needs for integrity? Do they care about and respect people, especially the poor and unrepresented? Do they fulfil environmental and humanitarian needs?



Right now there is a controversy in Britain about the Paedophile Information Exchange which existed in the 1970s and 1980s.

It so happens that the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) was affiliated with the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL). And it so happens that leading figures in the NCCL at the time included Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt – both of whom became leading members of the recent Labour government – along with former Labour Party treasurer Jack Dromey. Ms Harman is currently deputy leader of the Labour Party and Mr Dromey is currently Labour’s shadow minister for policing.

This issue has received widescale publicity in the British media. It has been covered by Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times and Toby Young in The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph – as well as in The Sun, the Daily Mail and on the BBC Newsnight program – where, in an embarrassing performance, Ms Harman told interviewer Laura Keunssberg that a "politically motivated smear campaign" has been launched against her.

In March 1976, the NCCL issued a press release calling for the age of consent to be lowered to age 10. Yes, ten years old. No one thought at the time that women would be interested in 10 year old boys or girls. The NCCL, then, was campaigning on behalf of adult men who wanted to have sex with male and/or female children. In March 1976, Patricia Hewitt was the NCCL’S general secretary and Jack Dromey was on the NCCL’s executive committee. Harriet Harman was the NCCL’s legal affairs officer between 1978 and 1982. According to Tony Young, the Paedophile Information Exchange itself advocated that the age of consent should be lowered to four years old. Neither Harman, nor Hewitt nor Dromey saw this as a reason why NCCL should disaffiliate the PIE.

That was Britain in the 1970s and the 1980s. It was much the same in Australia – with even the ABC chairman Richard Downing (1915-1975) proclaiming that pederasts, that is men who want to have sex with boys, should be understood.

The story is documented, surprisingly in a dispassionate way, by K.J. Inglis in his book The Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932-1983 (MUP, 1983) – from which the account below is drawn. This is what Ken Inglis wrote about how the ABC’s Lateline (then a radio program) in 1975 covered the issue of adult men who wanted to have sex with young boys :

On 14 July 1975…[Allan] Ashbolt’s department devoted Lateline… to a subject never before discussed on the ABC and seldom, perhaps, canvassed in quite this way anywhere in the world except privately and in "alternative" media. As the ABC described the programme: "Pederasty, as defined by the Penguin English Dictionary, is the homosexual relationship of a man with a boy. The subject usually creates feelings of revulsion and disgust within most people. The issues raised by such relationships are discussed by three pederasts" [on the Lateline program].

And so they were, without any criticism beyond what the contributors offered of each other, as when two attacked the third for treating boys as mere sex objects.

ABC’s chairman, Professor Richard Downing wrote to The Sydney Morning Herald on 19 July 1975 defending Lateline’s pederasty program – in which one pederast essentially agreed with a second pederast who essentially agreed with a third pederast who essentially agreed with the first pederast who essentially agreed with himself that it was okay for adult men to have sex with young boys.

This is what Richard Downing (who was appointed ABC chairman by Gough Whitlam’s Labor government) had to say in 1975 about pederasty and all that – as told to readers of The Sydney Morning Herald :

…the phenomenon of pederasty seems appropriate for public discussion in a society which, if it is to be open, democratic and responsible, needs also to understand the diverse natures of the people who compose that society…. The ABC does not seek to offend but only to enlighten. To quote from a report to the British Independent Broadcasting Authority: "Society may remain civilised only if the individual learns to abhor the results of uncivilised behaviour – even though the learning process can be upsetting to him."

So there you have it. Just four decades ago, the chairman of the ABC said that we all needed to "understand" pederasts and equated an understanding of pederasty with an enlightened society. And the leftist Allan Ashbolt – who was responsible for mentoring such young ABC leftist "stars" as Jon (Darce) Cassidy, Peter Fry, Malcolm Long, Gillian Waite and Marius Webb – believed that pederasts should be given a platform on the taxpayer funded broadcaster to advance their cause and be understood by their fellow citizens.

How strange that, in the 1970s, the ABC was promoting the needs of Australians to "understand" pederasts but that in the early 21st Century the ABC campaigned against the very evil that it had once advocated.

In Britain, Patricia Hewitt has apologised for her one time support for lowering the age of consent to age 10. Will anyone at the public broadcaster in Australia apologise for the fact that four decades ago the ABC chairman called on Australians to "understand the culture" of men who wanted to have sex with young children?


Gender shouldn’t define a career
Miranda Devine

THE hypocrisy of Labor dispatching its Emily’s List sweethearts Penny Wong and Catherine King to tear down one of the few women in the Abbott ministry made last week’s Senate Estimates hearings compulsory viewing.

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash, under siege over a Department of Health food rating website she had ordered taken down, got the full treatment from Labor’s feminist punishers.

She was grilled, niggled, berated and rudely interrupted until she finally snapped at Wong: "What would be better would be if you were not asking the same questions 10 times trying to get different answers."

So much for the sisterhood.

But of course this is as it should be. Now that we are free of an incompetent government hiding behind a misogyny myth to save itself from scrutiny, let’s hope women can go back to doing their jobs as people, and not be judged differently because they lack a Y chromosome.

There is nothing more debilitating than having your career defined by your sex or even your choice of sexual partner. These things belong in the private realm and are irrelevant to career performance, yet feminists are obsessed by them.

As it turned out, Nash, a 48-year-old farmer and mother of two from Young, gave as good as she got was composed in the face of this beat-up.

Her chief of staff, Alastair Furnival, had been ruthlessly sacrificed in the hope it would cauterise the issue. He has been portrayed as an evil agent of junk food because he once worked as an economist for Cadbury, and had owned with his wife a lobbying company which used to do work for food industry clients, and does so no longer. Oh, and he once rode a bike with Tony Abbott in the annual Pollie Pedal charity event.

For these transgressions, the story was beaten up into a scandal worthy of Craig Thomson. If that’s the worst the government has done, we are in good hands.

The fact is the Health Star Rating food rating website Nash kiboshed was another Labor thought bubble. Like Fuel Watch and Grocery Watch, it was an expensive sham that pretended to perform miracles.

How is a website going stop people putting fattening food in their mouths? It’s no secret that eating sugar all day is bad for you. Wolfing down Big Macs and chocolate thickshakes every day will make you obese.

Anyway, smart phone apps such as My Fitness Pal are streets ahead of any government website in providing real-time nutritional information at minimal cost.

Users can see how many grams of sugar or salt are in each morsel, and the apps help them alter their behaviour accordingly.

That’s the hard part — the self-control — and no amount of taxpayer money can buy that.

If the Health Department is hellbent on spending money on nutritional public education, it would be far better to undo the damage done during the mad anti-fat campaign.

Sugar is the real culprit and fat-free food often is packed with sugar to make it taste better.

By all reports the star rating website, which was live for just 24 hours before Nash canned it, was a debacle, with Chiko Rolls deemed healthier than water, fruit and vegetables.

The real story is how an unelected official in the Department of Health defied repeated orders from the minister and her chief of staff not to power up the website.

In December, Nash made it clear she wanted the website delayed until it was at least subjected to a cost-benefit analysis. But on February 5, it went live, in defiance of her wishes.

Last week she told Senate Estimates the bureaucrat in charge of the website, Kathy Dennis, assistant secretary of Healthy Living and Food Policy, refused repeated demands from Nash’s office to take it down.

There is no place for that kind of insubordination in the public service.

The time for insubordination, if there ever was one, would have been when the Rudd-Gillard governments were implementing such schemes for pink batts, school halls and the NBN.

A catastrophe for every thought bubble. Yet we are supposed to believe the scandal is when a bubble bursts.


Queensland Government to axe 8c-per-kWh solar feed-in tariff to cut electricity costs

Greenie dupes shafted

THOUSANDS of southeast Queensland solar households will lose their guaranteed 8c feed-in tariff and will have to negotiate directly with retailers over a price for the energy they produce.

Energy Minister Mark McArdle will today unveil a significant overhaul of feed-in tariffs, saving other energy users millions of dollars on power bills.

Mr McArdle said removing the cost of purchasing the high-priced energy produced by these solar households would put downward pressure on all electricity bills.

Solar advocates have today slammed the decision to scrap the 8c feed-in tariff.

Lindsay Soutar, the national director of Solar Citizens, said it would be difficult for households with solar to negotiate fair deals with retailers.  "There are 40,000 homes that are about to lose the already too small financial return they receive from providing clean energy back into the grid," she said

"And there are thousands of families in Queensland who want to make the move to solar who will now be forced to negotiate directly with retailers for any sort of financial return.

"This is incredibly unfair. It is obvious that it will be difficult for individual households to get a good deal from their power company.

The state government has been accused of ignoring warnings about the legal risks associated with cutting the solar power scheme.
"They simply don’t have the negotiating power. When retailers set the rules, solar owners lose."

The 284,090 households that receive the 44c tariff will not be affected, with the State Government keeping its commitment to continue paying the more generous amount to those who adopted solar before the scheme was closed.

The move will switch the responsibility for paying for rooftop solar power from government-owned distributors to retailers.

It will affect almost 40,000 households throughout southeast Queensland that currently receive 8c per kilowatt hour for the energy produced by their rooftop solar panels.

Mr McArdle last night told The Courier-Mail that the 8c tariff would have added an extra $110 million to all power bills over six years, had it continued.

Retailers currently get this power for free from distributors and pay solar customers up to 10c per kilowatt hour extra for their power — meaning some customers get up to 18c.

"At the moment what happens is that … the feed-in tariff that is paid under the 8c is recovered by the networks and then passed through to Queenslanders in their power bills," Mr McArdle said.

"Placing it on to the retailers will mean there is no pass-through back to consumers who are not using solar."

From July 1, solar households in the Energex distribution network will not get a regulated rate for their energy and must negotiate with retailers. A new regulated rate will be set for the 10,000 solar households on the 8c feed-in tariff in the Ergon Energy area, where there is currently no competition.

Mr McArdle said removing the 8c feed-in tariff in the southeast would foster competition ahead of the removal of regulated prices in July 2015.

"I don’t think (retailers) will abandon solar customers, because paying the feed-in tariff is part of their market strategy to attract customers to their contracts," he said.

"Customers can then start to play retailers off against each other to get a better deal, and we may well find that the feed-in tariff increases with competition."


12 March, 2014

Marcia Langton:  Elderly black hate-speaker

Andrew Bolt writes:

Professor Marcia Langton recently apologised to me privately for publicly claiming in an Age article I believed in a "master race" and "racial hygiene".

That false and foul claim was made in response to a Federal Court declaring unlawful columns in which I actually argued the very opposite - that we should not divide ourselves by "race", and especially not by trivial inflections of it. Why couldn’t we simply judge each other as individuals?

I never got that public apology.

Instead, last night on Q&A Langton again vilified me as a racist, to the applause and sniggers of some in the audience. Talking of articles in "the Bolt case", in which I was taken to court and ordered not to repeat what I’d written, Langton claimed they just racially abused people. She claimed one person, Misty Jenkins, had been racially abused by me so badly- had been so bullied - that she withdrew from the Aboriginal community. We needed laws against this kind of thing, she claimed.


Bolt goes on both to show the falsity of Langton's claims and to document how she seems to hate just about everybody.  Hate defines her.  No wonder she is popular on the Left.  Karl Marx hated just about everybody too.  Even a Left-leaning newspaper refers to her as "Langton disagreeing with everyone about everything"

It seems to me that only her claim to being Aboriginal gets her  any attention -- and not many Aborigines have blue eyes, pink skin and fair hair.  But we are not allowed to question claims of Aboriginality in Australia:  No free speech on that matter at all.  You could be hauled before the egregious judge Mordecai Bromberg for doing so  -- As Andrew Bolt was.

There is no disputing that these people are Aborigines

Greenie hate speech

A West Australian Green Senator recently delivered a speech in parliament house Canberra which has become a favourite of the Green/Left.  Some excerpts from the poisonous diatribe:

Mr Prime Minister, at your next press conference we invite you to leave your excruciatingly boring three-word slogans at home.

Western Australians are a generous and welcoming lot, but if you arrive and start talking proudly about your attempts to bankrupt the renewable energy sector, cripple the independence of the ABC and privatise SBS, if you show up waving your homophobia in people's faces and start boasting about your ever-more insidious attacks on the trade union movement and all working people, you can expect a very different kind of welcome.

Just as the reign of the dinosaurs was cut short to their great surprise, it may be that the Abbott government will appear as nothing more than a thin, greasy layer in the core sample of future political scientists drilling back into the early years of the 21st century.

People have been keeping a record of every time you have been given the opportunity to choose between predator capitalism and the public interest, and it is bitterly obvious whose side you are on.

And, perhaps most profoundly, your determined campaign to provoke fear in our community-fear of innocent families fleeing war and violence in our region-in the hope that it would bring out the worst in Australians is instead bringing out the best in us. Prime Minister, you are welcome to take your heartless racist exploitation of people's fears and ram it as far from Western Australia as your taxpayer funded travel entitlements can take you.


The "racist" accusation had to get a trot of course  -- a confession that abuse was all he had to offer.  Abbott is in fact famed for his personal work with Aborigines so is no racist.  That Ludlam was basically lying is set out below.  The truth never deters the Green/Left.

By  "innocent families fleeing war and violence in our region" Ludlam means illegal immigrants from middle class backgrounds in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan who are simply seeking a higher standard of living.  Australia's conservative government has stopped such illegal immigration stone dead.  Australia has an extensive program for genuine refugees.

Ludlam is a 44 year old artist born in New Zealand. I suspect that he sees himself as a young man in a hurry.

Greenie lies about Abbott

GREENS senator Scott Ludlam debased himself and lowered the tone of his campaign for re-election by accusing Tony Abbott of being homophobic and racist in a Senate speech, community leaders said yesterday.

The speech, which was delivered to an empty chamber on Monday but went viral on social media and has received almost half-a-million views on YouTube, accused the Prime Minister of "waving homophobia" and "racist exploitation" of the electorate.

Former Labor national president and chair of the Prime Minister’s indigenous advisory council Warren Mundine said Senator Ludlam was "full of crap".

"Look, I know them both and they’re both pretty good guys but Scott is ramping up his election campaign and he’s playing politics," he said.

"It’s a load of rubbish, he’s way off the board." Mr Abbott’s personal friend Cate McGregor, who transitioned from male to female while serving in the army, defended him against claims of transphobia on social media this week.

"He has shamed many progressives, including lawyers, in his acceptance of me as well," she wrote.  "He is my friend. And a good one."

Mr Abbott’s sister Christine Forster, a Sydney City councillor and in a committed same-sex relationship, said her brother showed his real colours by the friends he kept across the sexuality spectrum, including the openly gay journalist — and a former mentor of Mr Abbott — Christopher Pearson, who wrote a column for The Weekend Australian.

"He was very good friends with Christopher Pearson, and his passing was a terrible loss for Tony," she said.

"You know, it’s almost tiring having to say Tony is not a homophobe, he’s not racist.

"Scott is a Green and in that speech he was talking to Greens and it was a cheap way to get a headline."

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said it was unhelpful to charge Mr Abbott with homophobia when he had clear but changing views on the issue of same-sex marriage.

"Many people who oppose marriage equality do so, not out of homophobia, but out of sincerely held religious beliefs or views about the nature of marriage, and I think the Prime Minister falls into this latter category," Mr Croome added.

"While I’d like Mr Abbott to support marriage equality I also acknowledge that he has already come a long way on the issue."

Senator Ludlam did not respond to a request for comment.


Fraudulent asylum seekers are blocking real refugees

THE more we hear about the Manus Island riot in which Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed, the more horrendous the violence sounds.

But two points are worth making. The first is that no boat has arrived in Australia for 76 days. After Rudd dismantled Australia’s border protection in February 2008, 52,000 asylum seekers arrived by boat, an average 27 people a day. So Morrison has prevented the arrival of 2000 people who would have compounded pressure on the 4000 already in offshore detention, including 1300 at Manus Island.

Second, Berati’s family in Tehran has told Fairfax Media he "set out for Australia hoping to further his architectural studies" because he had been unable to find work in Iran’s "sanction-strapped economy". He was not fleeing persecution, but seeking a better life — and who could blame him?

He might have made a first-class migrant — if he had come through the proper channels. But those who pay people smugglers and throw away travel documents to pose as refugees are not just subverting Australia’s laws, but denying genuine refugees a place. Compassionistas just refuse to admit it.

The latest report from Aid To The Church In Need shows persecution of Christians around the world is exploding, with the number of martyr killings doubling in the past year. Last year in Syria 1200 Christians were killed for their faith.

These are the people for whom our refugee program was designed. If the government can empty out Labor’s legacy of detention centres, there is a case for increasing our humanitarian intake. But that is a luxury available only when we stop the boats.


Our constitution is the best, so why change it?

by legal academic James Allan

There are two ways of understanding disagreement on important public issues. One way is to assume your own view is the result of some sort of pipeline to God, indisputably good in other words, and so all those who disagree with you are either dumb, malevolent or in need of some re-education.

The other way is simply to recognise that a lot of smart, nice, well-informed people simply disagree on all sorts of important issues, ranging from euthanasia to how to deal with those trying (dare one say illegally?) to come to this country by boat, over to labour relations, or to whether to amend our Constitution, and more.

Notice that on this second understanding of disagreement the obvious way to resolve issues is to count us all as equals and vote, a process otherwise known as democracy. As for the first way to understand disagreement, well, notice that it rests on the rather implausible premise that by some cosmic fluke your moral and political antennae quiver at just the perfect frequency; that you are the pinnacle of moral evolution as it were, while all the many people who disagree with you are somehow substandard.

I start by mentioning that because almost all of the talk I have read of late on amending our Constitution to insert some sort of recognition of indigenous peoples clause seems to me to be premised on the view that change is self-evidently good and that opponents either need to be re-educated or exposed for the racists they are, or some combination of the two.

But that is plain out bunk. And it’s bunk whether it comes from the left of politics (as in the past) or whether it now comes from the right of politics.

First, let’s be clear, writing and amending a constitution is not a matter of the heart, as Tony Abbott suggested recently. No, it is about producing a document that will stand the test of time and that (in my view) will allow democracy to flourish so that our children and grandchildren can make decisions for themselves.

And that is a matter of hard-nosed calculation with more than a little cost-benefit analysis. It is not a matter of emoting or tugging at the heartstrings.

So let me turn to this issue. To start, you need to realise that Australia is one of the oldest democracies. Yes, our young nation has been a democracy — a successful democracy — longer than all but a half-dozen or so other countries on earth. And that is in part because the Constitution we have is, in my view, the best written Constitution on the planet.

What we have sure as heck ain’t broken. And that is something for any sensible person to consider when people push for change.

There is this, more crucial, second consideration. In the past two decades our top judges have taken to interpreting our written Constitution in a way that I think is very hard to defend. Twenty years ago the High Court discovered, or read in, or flat out made up (according to taste), an implied freedom of political communication.

I count myself as one of the biggest free speech adherents in the country and, in substantive terms, I like this outcome. But as a matter of honestly interpreting the words of our Constitution, these cases strike me as so implausible as to be laughable.

And in a democracy where all of us count equally with an equal vote to choose people to make social policy, that is a very bad thing.

Or more recently, in a couple of voting rights cases, our High Court in my view issued two of the least defensible and most interpretively implausible decisions I have read since coming to this country. In both instances they overruled the elected parliament and struck down statutes passed by the elected representatives of the people.

And they did so, in my view, with virtually no textual warrant from our Constitution. They treated the words as some sort of jumping-off point for seeing the Constitution as a "living tree" that can be pruned and altered over time — but of course only by them, seven unelected ex-lawyers.

Of course not everyone sees these cases the way I do. But notice that once you go down this road, it becomes something of an unknown how a change to our Constitution today will be treated by a future High Court in 15 or 20 years.

Let me be frank. I am an ardent adherent of letting the numbers count and of democratic decision-making. And I fear that this mooted change to our Constitution to insert some sort of recognition clause might be used by latter-day judges to do all sorts of things unimaginable, or pooh-poohed today.

If you doubt that, ask yourself how many people back at the start of the 1900s thought that the phrase "directly chosen by the people" could be used by judges to dictate when the electoral rolls could close or that some of those in prison could vote when parliament said they could not. The answer is that none of them back then thought this. They thought they were leaving these issues to the parliament.

So when people today assure you that the words they propose to insert will transfer no power to our unelected judges, there are some sensible grounds for being sceptical, at least until we see what explicit words emerge as the proposed amendment.

Frankly, I am mildly doubtful that anything nearly explicit enough to reassure me will emerge. But who knows?

Here’s a third reason for scepticism about this proposed change. I spent 11 years teaching law in New Zealand. In many ways I loved the place. But to hear some proponents of this constitutional amendment point across the Tasman to the Treaty of Waitangi over there, and to do so as some sort of model we ought to copy, frankly beggars belief.

Here is a small taste of what has happened in New Zealand in the name of this short three-clause treaty. First, the judges there have simply invented a "partnership" principle — they’ve decreed that there is some sort of partnership between the crown and Maori.

Then there is talk of "Treaty principles", though no one honestly has the slightest idea what this one-page 1840 signed document has in the way of principles. It is just a springboard to read in the desires of today’s metropolitan elite.

Then there are all the race-based divisions it has fostered in New Zealand. There are the weird divisions between tribal and city Maori and the endless "final settlements" that never prove final. And there’s the way it fosters rent-seeking behaviour that benefits the tribal elite far, far more than the poor in cities.

Put bluntly, the renewed emphasis on the treaty in New Zealand has undermined democracy. I repeat, it seems bizarre to me that proponents of change here in Australia would want to hold up New Zealand as a model for us to emulate.

So, yes, we can all keep an open mind on this issue until we see the proposed wording of any mooted change to our Constitution. But let’s be clear and honest. There are solid, powerful and democratically motivated grounds for being very leery of this suggested constitutional change.


11 March, 2014

Domestic violence against indigenous women is a big problem

Louise Taylor, writing below, is well meaning and well informed but she has no solution to the problems she describes.  Everything that could be tried has been tried  -- regularly oscillating between paternalism and permissiveness.  The people who did the most good were the missionaries but they are now personae non gratae to "right thinking" people.  The one thing that might help would be vigorous policing in the affected communities but the do-gooders would never accept that.  As it is, they make a great fuss about the high rate of Aboriginal incarceration

Louise claims that Aboriginal violence is "everybody's problem".  I don't accept that at all. I am not responsible for what others do.  That is a basic principle of law.

During my time as family violence prosecutor I met many victims of family violence. The vast majority of them were women, many of them were children. Working at the coalface of the impacts of family violence allows you a small window into the lives that so many women and children are living.

Through that window I have seen unspeakable acts of violence: levels of cruelty and degradation difficult to fathom. No matter the age, background or socio-economic status of the women I worked with, there were some common themes: Fear. Courage. Despair. Survival

But while these similarities can unite us in the struggle, it is the differences among some victims of family violence that we really must confront.

The reality for indigenous women: for me, my tiddas, my aunties is that family violence is more likely to touch our lives at a level so unacceptable that it should shock you.  But I don’t think it does. It should compel you to action. But it doesn’t.  It should make you rethink where symbolic gestures are getting us. But you might prefer not to think too deeply about that and sport your ribbon, wristband or T-shirt instead.

I think you’re almost immune to the appalling statistics that reflect the position of my people that this one is just one more area with a gap.On any available statistical analysis indigenous women are significantly more likely to be a victim of family violence. To be hospitalised because of it.  To die as a result of it.  Some would argue to have their children removed because of it. 

Sadly, Indigenous women appear more likely to be criminalised themselves for their engagement with the systems charged with protecting them when they report family violence.

These are complex issues. No one gets that better than I do. There are layers of complexity for indigenous victims of family violence that aren’t at play for non-indigenous women. The imprint of the historically fraught relationship between my mob, the criminal justice system and the state, permeates any interaction indigenous women have with the systems in place charged with keeping them safe (and let’s be frank, those systems struggle to provide safety for non-indigenous women).

Indigenous women are often rightfully cynical of the mainstream remedies available to them when they are the victim of family violence. I know from my own experience there are racist undertones that accompany the way family violence among indigenous people is dealt with by many mainstream services and systems – there’s a "leave ’em to it, it’s their way" mentality that indigenous women work against to be taken seriously as if somehow victimhood is part of our cultural legacy (it isn’t).

And our own specialised services often suffer from acute underfunding.  The situation for indigenous women in some rural and remote areas is so dire that you prefer to avert your gaze. Recent figures out of the Northern Territory suggest that Aboriginal women are 80 times more likely to be hospitalised for assault than non-Aboriginal women. Eighty. Times. More. Likely.

You can imagine the frenzied response if that statistic was being played out among young white men on the streets of  Kings Cross.

Alcohol abuse is often cited as a major contributor in that region which is no doubt the case but what is often left out of the soundbite analysis is the underlying factors that contribute to that abuse and lead to violence, such as limited and overcrowded housing, the ad hoc nature of funding for support services or a  complete absence of  support services.

Continuing to focus on the symptom will see the cause remain and the cycle persist.

Within our own communities we are acutely aware of the appalling rate at which our brothers, husbands, uncles and sons are marching into prison. We want our men to be part of the solution and a great many of our brothers are.

Equally though, we want our women and children safe. We are justifiably wary of what it means for our men when we confront the brutal reality of the lives many of our tiddas and their children are living.

We must come to grips with that tension when we have this conversation and speak about solutions. We must be brave and you must be brave with us. Our politicians must be brave and support proper, long-term funding and community-led solutions recognising a one-size model of solution does not fit all.

Ensuring the full protections and supports, such as they are, available to non-indigenous women are equally available to indigenous women wherever their community, is a start.You have to listen to us - even when you don’t agree with the apparent politics of our message because it’s our lives and the lives of our families on the line.

Because at the end of the day, indigenous women just want the violence to stop too.

So when you think about the position of Australian women on International Women’s Day spare a thought for your sisters whose greatest struggle isn’t getting on a corporate board or "having it all". 

Think about the women contemplating their very survival and then think about the position of the indigenous women in that category – they are the litmus test of how far we have to go.


Private schools in Canberra do best but funding is not the crucial factor

The private schools tend to have higher funding but Catholic schools keep their end up despite drastically lower funding.  Better discipline the most likely factor.  The huge funding received by some poorly performing government schools shows that money is not the crucial factor

The Canberra Times' league tables of ACT schools' literacy and numeracy scores continue to show that independent schools dominate their Catholic and government counterparts.

Independent schools fared well in years 7 and 9 in particular, while government and Catholic schools seemed to perform better in the primary years.

Funding remains uneven across the education system: severely disadvantaged government schools continue to receive the biggest share of ACT government funds, followed by independent schools, which draw a substantial portion of their revenue from fees.

Meanwhile, Catholic primary schools operate on less than a third of the funds that the most disadvantaged government schools receive, and less than half the budgets of independent schools.

Last week, the My School website published last year's results for the national assessment program for literacy and numeracy, or NAPLAN.

The scores of the ACT's 111 schools, when ranked against each other, show big improvements in year 3 for schools such as Telopea Park, which had improved on every measure since 2012. It moved from 47th to eighth in numeracy and from 21st to third in reading.

Mawson Primary jumped 71 places to come second in year 3 spelling and 17 places to come first in numeracy.

A small group of Catholic schools also dominated year 3 results: Rosary came fifth in reading, third in writing, fourth in spelling, second in grammar and 11th in maths.

Canberra Girls Grammar School, Canberra Grammar and to a lesser extent Radford College - the ACT schools with the highest fees - all dominated the year 5 results. Garran Primary also posted among the top results across the five subjects.

In year 7, Canberra Girls Grammar and Canberra Grammar vied for top places; Lyneham High School made big gains this year on last, coming fifth in reading, sixth in spelling, fourth in grammar and fourth in numeracy. Trinity Christian School improved its placing in three of the five test areas: it came fifth in writing, up from 13th in 2012.

However, the volatility of school performance from year to year was shown in last year's big improver, Burgmann Anglican School, dropping several places in each of the five areas, while still coming in the top 10.

The gender divide in performance across the country was shown in Canberra Grammar - an all-boy's school - taking out the top place in numeracy in years 5, 7 and 9, while Canberra Girl's Grammar was first in writing in all years.

At the bottom of the table, a small group of government schools catering to disadvantage continued to perform below national benchmarks. These schools also showed a correspondingly low index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA) scores.

Government schools with low ICSEA scores all received considerably more funds per student than did schools with higher levels of advantage. For example, Jervis Bay School, which has a high indigenous enrolment, receives $32,678 per student, compared with Garran Primary School, the ACT government school with the highest ICSEA score, which receives just $10,957.

Catholic primary schools receive the least funds per child, ranging from $10,341 at St John Vianney's in Waramanga to $7918 for St Anthony's Parish School in Wanniassa.


All Scientists are Sceptics ~Professor Bob Carter

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the science of climate change is the lack of any real substance in attempts to justify the hypothesis ~Professor Stewart Franks

ICSC Chief Science Advisor Professor Bob Carter discusses the NIPCC report:  "Any human global climate signal is so small as to be embedded within the background variability of the natural climate system"

"Professor Bob Carter, PhD on the latest NIPCC report", radio interview on Truth News radio, Australia.

"In today's show we are joined by Professor Bob Carter for the entire second hour to discuss the findings contained in the latest NIPCC report.

"The NIPCC ("Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change")  is an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change from a sceptical viewpoint, looking at information which is routinely ignored by the official U.N. body, the IPCC.

"The NIPCC was formed in response to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007 with the aim of providing an independent, second opinion on the IPCC's findings. The first full report of the NIPCC was published in 2009. Another report followed in 2011, and the latest report was published in 2013.

"The 2013 NIPCC report contains an Executive Summary and a Summary for Policy Makers which present the findings in an approachable way for general readers. "From the Summary For Policy Makers:

"NIPCC’s conclusion, drawn from its extensive review of the scientific evidence, is that any human global climate signal is so small as to be embedded within the background variability of the natural climate system and is not dangerous. At the same time, global temperature change is occurring, as it always naturally does. A phase of temperature stasis or cooling has succeeded the mild twentieth century warming. It is certain that similar natural climate changes will continue to occur.

"In the show today, Professor Carter goes through some of the key findings in the latest report and addresses some popular misconceptions about polar ice and climate variability over the past ten thousand years."


Perversion Compounded and Children Corrupted

There are several truths you can usually count on when we think about the culture wars. One of them is that perversion tends to generate more perversion. Those pushing a particular vice, immorality or perversion tend to push other ones as well. The more the merrier it seems.

And those into unrighteousness and degradation also seem to want to drag children into their world of filth and perversion as well. It is not enough to let immorality and filth reign supreme amongst adults, but these folks also seek out children, dragging them into their sordid world.

Examples of this are easy to come by, and they demonstrate just how far down the moral drain our Western cultures have gone. It is as if there are moral sinkholes swallowing up entire cultures and societies. Or to alter the metaphor somewhat, all over the West we find examples of moral quicksand engulfing individuals, groups and entire nations.

Two recent examples of what I am talking about are worth examining. The first comes from the US. It involves one perverse group (baby killers) trying to get teens hooked on another perversion (bondage and sado-masochism). Hmmm, birds of a feather obviously.

planned parenthoodOne report on this explains: "Riding the wave of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ — and other pop culture ‘trends’ — Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) has released a video promoting and celebrating bondage and sadomasochism for teens (BDSM).

"In the video, posted on PPNNE’s website, host Laci Green offers ‘rules’ for such activities. The nearly 5-minute clip is titled ‘Getting Kinky—BDSM 101.’ It is just one of many included in PPNNE’s ‘education project’ called ‘A Naked Notion.’ They are all posted to the website’s section titled ‘For Teens’….

"Other videos posted on ‘A Naked Notion’ include one exploring abortion options, and touting abortion as a ‘safe, legal medical procedure.’ In another, she talks about how she lost her virginity at 16, how she doesn’t ‘regret it.’ It’s not about age, she says, it’s whether ‘you want to’ or not."

Family groups were obviously not too thrilled with all this. Said Jeff Johnston of Focus on the Family, "This is a growing trend, the push to normalize — and even celebrate — deviant sexual behavior. Planned Parenthood should be held accountable for sexualizing and exploiting teenagers and children through the promotion of any and every type of sexual behavior. They’ve fed for too long at the government trough, and should be stripped of any taxpayer monies."

Brushfires Founder Daniel Weiss said this: "A common-sense approach for Congress when reviewing these kinds of projects is to ask if the program increases or decreases sexual risk-taking among teens. When the tax-payer-funded BDSM apologist emphasizes the need for fail-safe code words because ‘stop’ is insufficient, you know you’ve crossed into the sexual Twilight Zone.

"Planned Parenthood seems only to exist for promoting deviant sexual lifestyles and profiting off those who follow them. As parents and as a nation, we must ask whether we want this kind of creepiness anywhere near anyone’s children."

My second example comes from here in Australia. It is just as bad, and also involves various types of sexual perversion and degradation – and it also involves deliberately targeting children. Commentator Bernard Gaynor has just written about one NSW school proudly marching in the recent Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney.

As one newspaper report states, "There is again only one school joining in Sydney’s mardi gras parade but Macquarie Grammar principal Darryl Gauld almost said no to participating this year. He changed his mind when he heard the parade was going to be televised.

"’This is Sydney’s largest parade and the biggest of its kind in the world,’ Dr Gauld said. ‘Three million people will be watching it on television.’ The 10-year-old independent school has 120 students and has joined in the parade for four years. Dr Gauld said he wanted more people to know about his city school."

Gaynor spends some time describing the perversion these school children would have been exposed to: "Then there’s the Sydney Leather Pride Association. Its 2013 official parade description reads: ‘an organisation for fetish or esoteric sexual practice individuals of all sexual orientations. Their float will send the message of "we exist and enjoy what we do". Most people don’t understand what the SLPA do but they are ‘sane, fun loving, responsible perverts!’

"This followed up the 2012 description that read: ‘Sydney Leather Pride Association Proud to be a sadist? Proud to be a pervert? Proud to be a master… Whatever you are proud to be, wear leather with pride.’ For those who are interested, the 2014 descriptions were cut down in size. We just don’t know what kind of perverts were marching this year.

"But we do know from the website of the Sydney Leather Pride Association that it runs courses on things like ‘dungeon safety’ and interactive workshops on pain and smacking. It also has a page that helpfully explains how you can signal your sexual desire.

"Dr Darryl Gauld and the staff at the Macquarie Grammar School might be interested to know that this page includes signals on how to have yourself urinated on, and, much more seriously, how to signal your intent to engage in pederasty. For those who don’t know, pederasty means sex between a man and a boy.

"Now, just in case anyone jumps to the conclusion that the Sydney Leather Pride Association are some random bunch of no-hoper loners that every other group at the Mardi Gras avoids, I hate to burst your bubble. It’s clear that they run parties and that other groups that parade at the Mardi Gras, including Dykes on Bikes, Harbour City Bears and Femme Guild, are given discounted entry to them.

"These are all groups that marched in the same parade as the Macquarie Grammar School. Now, I’m prepared to accept that Dr Darryl Gauld and the staff at the Macquarie Grammar School did not know about the fact that the Sydney Leather Pride Association webpage explains how one can signal their interest in pederasty. In fact, I’m even prepared to accept that Dr Darryl Gauld did not even know about the Sydney Leather Pride Association until I wrote about it today.

"But I’m not prepared to accept that this is a good excuse. It would simply mean that Dr Gauld and his team did not do their homework and that, as a result, the students under his care were unwittingly exposed to immorality, rather than by deliberate design. And, if that’s the case, then I’m more than happy to print any statement that Dr Gauld and the Macquarie Grammar School might care to release, distancing themselves from the Sydney Leather Pride Association and the organisers of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, who welcome them into the parade every year. If Dr Gauld does not release such a statement, I will, of course, want to know why he is not prepared to make any public comment."

That is simply perversion multiplied, compounded, and amplified. And some schools think it is just fine to drag their poor students along to such affairs. No wonder we are going down the tubes so fast. No wonder we may be witnessing the last days of once great nations like America and Australia.

No wonder we may be the last generation to live in a free and prosperous West. When Barry McGuire sang in 1965 that we are living on the "Eve of Destruction" he may not have known just how accurate he was. It does not look good for the West. And it is certainly looking rather horrible as to the fate of our children and grandchildren.

But don’t take my word for it. Lesbian Tammy Bruce, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women, put it this way: "During my activism in the feminist and gay communities, the conditioning was nonstop. The effort, using the mass media primarily, was and is to brainwash the public into believing that certain sexual practices are merely ‘alternative lifestyles’… I was told that my describing S&M as a sickness put gay people at risk. Why? Because if any ‘alternative’ sexual practice was condemned, there would be the slippery slope, and no gays would be safe from those maniacal Christian fundamentalists. By default, it was argued, we had a responsibility to embrace and support anyone who challenged the sexual and social status quo."

And we are seeing the bitter fruit of this on full display today.


10 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says the Malaysian Airlines disaster puts the woes of Qantas into perspective.

Abbott says Greens are toxic

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has labelled the Greens as "toxic" in his first salvo for next month’s WA senate election.

Ahead of a visit to Perth this week, Mr Abbott fired back at a vicious attack by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam in federal parliament, in which he labelled the Prime Minister as "homophobic" and "racist".

The Prime Minister yesterday labelled the Greens and other minor parties who were contesting the fresh election as toothless tigers, whose major contribution to the Australian Parliament was to "attract media attention".

He said Mr Ludlam’s attack was water off a duck’s back.

"I am defamed every day in parliament, and I have learnt to be fairly oblivious to it I have got to say," Mr Abbott said.

"I think West Australians are fairly resistant to the kinds of toxins which emanate from the Greens."

Laughing he retorted: "I might have to have an extra half glass of good Margaret River wine tonight to console myself."

WA Greens Senator launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister during his final parliamentary speech ahead of the April 5 senate vote.

Senator Ludlam invited Mr Abbott to visit WA, but urged him to leave his "excruciatingly boring three-word slogans at home".

The speech concludes with Senator Ludlam telling the Prime Minister to take his "heartless racist exploitation of people’s fears and ram it as far from Western Australia as your taxpayer funded travel entitlements can take you".

"Western Australians are a generous and welcoming lot, but if you show up waving your homophobia in people’s faces and start boasting about your ever more insidious attacks on the trade union movement and all working people, you can expect a very different kind of welcome."

WA will vote for six senators on April 5, after the bungled poll in September saw that result quashed.

West Australians have to go back to the polls after 1370 votes were lost.

After securing three senate positions at the September election, the Liberals are now in danger of losing one of those positions, which would make it even more difficult for Mr Abbott to pass legislation in the senate.

He currently holds 33 seats in the senate, but needs 39 to pass laws.

Mr Abbott said losing another Liberal senate position would make it more difficult to scrap the mining and carbon taxes.

"The election is important because the result will make it easier or harder to get rid of anti WA taxes like the carbon or mining taxes," he said.

In a pot shot at the Greens and minor parties, Mr Abbott said: "Ask yourself: What do minor parties actually get done, other than make it harder for government to do its job?

"Minor parties are much better at attracting media attention rather than getting things done.  "Don’t vote for a minor party and in particular don’t vote for a minor party that is going to be constantly with the Opposition.  "The Greens are really the second wing faction of the Labor Party – that’s what they are.

"I think people want a strong voice in the federal parliament, rather than people who just make a noise. To do that, you need to vote for people who are part of government."

Mr Abbott said West Australians had every right to be angry about having to vote again.

"It is monumental incompetence," he said.  "I am annoyed. I think everyone is annoyed.  "I can’t imagine they (Australian Electoral Commission) would make the same mistake twice."

Mr Abbott is expected to arrive in Perth late Monday.


Foreign ownership of Qantas is a smokescreen

Parasitical unions are the real issue

 With the Abbott government looking to introduce legislation to repeal part three of the Qantas Sale Act (QSA) despite opposition from Labor and the Greens, it's worth cutting through some of the misinformation to examine what the QSA does and why some are fighting to keep it.

Passed in 1992, the purpose of the QSA was to enable the privatisation of Qantas, with Qantas shares being sold by the government over the next four years.

Most of the QSA deals with the mechanics of privatisation or with ensuring the continuation of workers' entitlements. It does not, as some have claimed, impose explicit regional service obligations on Qantas.

However, part three of the QSA does impose restrictions on the ongoing operation of Qantas: the key provision is section seven, which requires Qantas to include in its articles of association restrictions on foreign ownership and outsourcing.

Much of the rhetoric has been on the issue of foreign ownership, which is limited to 25% of the company for an individual and 49% in total for all foreign ownership (while foreign airlines in total are limited to 35%). The issue of foreign ownership is largely a smokescreen for union concerns. Many Australian icons (like Arnotts or Vegemite) are foreign owned and this has scarcely changed our relationship with them.

Moreover, the idea that Qantas will suddenly become foreign-owned ignores other foreign ownership restrictions. International carriers are limited under the Air Navigation Act to 49% foreign shareholders, while any foreign takeover of Qantas would also likely have to be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Provisions in the QSA of greater impact are those that tie the international operations of Qantas to Australia. Qantas cannot operate an international airline under a different name. Its head office and, most importantly, the principal operation centre for international air services (maintenance, catering and other facilities) must remain in Australia.

For a heavily unionised business such as Qantas, which negotiates with 14 different unions, this requirement effectively entrenches union jobs. Hence the staunch opposition to repealing part three of the QSA by those with union affiliations.

Air services are changing. New aircraft require substantially less maintenance than their older versions. High-quality, low-cost maintenance providers like ANZES in New Zealand and SIAEC in Singapore are proliferating in our region. Price and route competition is increasingly fierce.

With the QSA requiring the majority of Qantas' heavy maintenance, catering, training and administration to be conducted in Australia, Qantas is locked into an uncompetitive cost structure and is losing market share as a result.

As Qantas struggles to compete both with full service airlines with lower wages and greater volumes, and the proliferation of low cost carriers in Asia, handcuffing Qantas to Australia is likely to cost many more jobs than it would save.



Larry Pickering

The Left is white with rage that Abbott has been able to stop the boats. It is blind to 1200 deaths at sea yet wide-eyed to New Guinean savages killing one Iranian on an island detention centre that Rudd reopened.

Detainees on Manus are the guests of Gillard and Rudd, not Abbott and the funeral of the one fatality served only to prove the "comfortable" Iranian family were country shopping and not "escaping persecution", as the Left claims.

Labor and its supporters, the Greens, GetUp, the ABC, Fairfax and the Guardian, are doing their best to scuttle the Abbott boat initiatives with attacks on the military and claims of covert secrecy.

The only reason the Lefties want to know what Abbott is doing is so they can scuttle it!

Morrison and Abbott are doing exactly what the Pickering Post suggested they do: Bribe the Indonesian military! A mere $60 million has changed the ball game and $60 million is a tiny fraction of the ongoing $14 billion the Gillard/Rudd fiasco was costing us.

And this "secrecy" nonsense is a furphy as Gillard also refused to allow journalists anywhere near detention centres. She kept critical information from Australians.

We weren’t allowed to know who or how many unprocessed illegals were, and still are, living among us.

She refused to divulge vital information regarding the Guillain-Barré syndrome disease introduced by detainees to the mainland that threatened and hospitalised Australian citizens. Enquires to Gillard's Office went unanswered.

Where was media's Left then?

Without the Post’s informants we would still be ignorant of the real reason the mainland Curtin Centre was closed.  There were murders that went unreported under Gillard’s cloak of secrecy. Under Morrison one murder is front page news. This is what went unreported under Gillard's cloak of secrecy.


Cheeky rain celebration too rude for Facebook

A farmer who bared his bottom to celebrate much-needed rain says being blocked on Facebook will not stop his nude salutes to the sky.

And he and his partner hope it will highlight how much rain means to drought-stricken farmers, particularly in Queensland.

James Rogers and Jody Fraser were thrilled at receiving the first solid downpour in eight months at their property near Cobar in central New South Wales last Friday.

When Mr Rogers decided to go for a celebratory scamper in nothing but his cowboy hat, Ms Fraser snapped a picture of the moment on her phone.  "It was just a random thing James decided it would be funny to do," she said.

Ms Fraser uploaded the photo to Facebook, and posted it on the Station Photos community page, which features pictures of life on the land from all over Australia.

The shot of the happy nude farmer immediately went viral, attracting thousands of shares and likes for its joyful expression and cheeky sense of humour.

But Mr Rogers soon found himself the butt of Facebook fury, with users reporting the image for graphic content or nudity.

The picture was taken down, and Station Photos was issued a warning and a subsequent 24-hour Facebook ban.

Queensland-based page Higgins Storm Chasing also re-posted the picture and received a warning and a ban.  "I went and made a page for it, and mine got blocked," Mr Rogers said.

The 22-year-old said he did not understand how such a good-natured photo could be so controversial.  "I couldn't believe it... it was just a harmless joke and it kept going," he said.  "There's much worse things on Facebook than that."

Ms Fraser said perhaps those who hit the 'report' button did not understand just how difficult life without water was.

"We didn't expect it to go as far as it did, but now that it has, if it can help out other people that are worse off than us, it's a good thing," Ms Fraser said.

"We haven't had as near as tough as some of the people up in Queensland, but we've had dams dry up and you go around every day pulling sheep out of the bog."

Facebook guidelines state that it imposes limitations on the display of nudity, but it aspired to "respect people's right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo's David or family photos of a child breastfeeding".

As for Mr Rogers, his bottom's rough ride through Facebook will not stop him from celebrating future rainfall any way he likes.

"I've done it all my life, pretty much, my mother can vouch for that... every time it rained, me and my brother would be flat out running around in the rain and playing," he said.  "But not always nude."


9 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is relieved that some forests locked up under Greenie influence are now being unlocked

Hoagy is squawking  again

Disaster looming, says the director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, writing for  But to quote Mandy Rice-Davies, "But he WOULD say that, wouldn't he?" 

I have had a look at Hoagy's "report" and the evidence he musters for bad things happening is mostly quotations from his own writings and the the writings of his  fellow Warmists.  Andrew Bolt points out that other reef scientists say the reef is doing fine and bounces back swiftly from setbacks. 

Hoagy's own research showed a resilient reef  a few years ago and Hoagy retreated into embarrassed silence for a while but the embarrassment seems to have faded. Maybe he needed to do a screech to hang on to his job.

But a point that nobody can deny is that the reef is most luxuriant in the WARMEST part of its range e.g. the Torres Strait.  The reef LIKES warmth

The Great Barrier Reef will suffer "irreversible" damage by 2030 unless radical action is taken to lower carbon emissions, a stark new report has warned.

Unless temperatures are kept below the internationally agreed limit of 2C warming on pre-industrial levels, the reef will cease to be a coral-dominated ecosystem, the report warns.

Coral bleaching, which occurs when water becomes too warm and coral’s energy source is decimated, is now a "serious threat" to the reef, having not been documented in the region prior to 1979.

The increase in carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere, 90% of which is absorbed by the oceans, has already caused a 30% rise in the hydrogen ions that cause ocean acidification. This process hinders the ability of corals to produce the skeletal building blocks of reefs.

Co-author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, told Guardian Australia that current climate trends signal "game over" for the Great Barrier Reef.


Boat arrivals no longer eligible for protection visas

During the Rudd government approximately 90-95 per cent of refugee assessments completed on Christmas Island resulted in protection visas being granted. 99.7 per cent of people from Afghanistan (the majority of whom arrived by boat) were assessed as genuine refugees. Grant rates for protection visas for people from Iraq, Iran and Burma, many of whom also have arrived by boat, were also high, ranging from 96-98 per cent

REFUGEES who arrive by boat will no longer be eligible for one of Australia’s 13,750 protection visas, with the government announcing last night it had formally "de-linked" the humanitarian program from boat arrivals.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday the government had restored 4000 places in Australia’s special humanitarian visa program, which in years gone by had been overwhelmed by boat arrivals.

Coupled with the 6000-odd places Australia sets aside for refugees selected by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the roughly 500 places rolled over from last year, the announcement means almost 11,000 of the 13,750 available places will go to offshore applicants.

Mr Morrison said 1000 of those places would be given over to women at risk.

The Coalition trumpeted the announcement as wresting control of Australia’s humanitarian program back from people-smugglers and self-selecting asylum-seekers, to whom Australia is obliged to issue a protection visa once their refugee claims are successful.

"This is the very essence of our we-will-decide policy," Mr Morrison told The Australian. "We have de-linked the programs. People who have arrived by boat will not be eligible for one of these places."

Last night, Labor was withholding judgment on the government’s announcement.

"We will be seeking urgent clarification on what impact this will have for people currently on shore and also on the permanent intake program," a spokesman for opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said.

Typically about 4000 places in the special humanitarian program have been devoted to people overseas who are at risk or have some connection to Australia, for example, a family member who is already a refugee in the community.

The program has been used to reunite and stabilise families or to assist special categories of people, such as Syrian refugees.

But since the boats began coming in 2008 the program has been eroded, with a greater number of places given to boat people.

Mr Morrison said more than 15,000 protection visas had been issued to asylum-seekers since the boats began.

His remarks came as a Senate committee urged the government to consider making substantial changes to parliamentary processes so the Abbott government could not use claims of public interest immunity to refuse to provide information about its military-led Operation Sovereign Borders.


Israel honors a Hitler clone (?)

See here for some examples of the Left earnestly explaining how Howard is like Hitler

FORMER prime minister John Howard was honoured with one of Tel Aviv University’s most prestigious accolades last week.

A stalwart supporter of Israel, Howard was presented with the George S. Wise Medal by Tel Aviv University vice-president Amos Elad, who travelled to Australia specifically for the Australian Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) NSW event.

AFTAU NSW president David Dinte told The AJN the George S. Wise Medal is "only given when there is a worthy candidate whose extraordinary contribution to society merits formal recognition".

"Mr Howard is only the tenth recipient of the George S. Wise Medal since its inception in 1986," he said.

"Other esteemed recipients of this Award are [former Israeli diplomat] Abba Eban; [Israel’s first astronaut] Ilan Ramon; [economist] Stanley Fischer and [former French prime minister] Dominique de Villepin".

Tel Aviv University president Joseph Klafter said in a letter to Howard: "Your significant political, economic and social achievements as the second longest-serving Australian prime minister, together with your unwavering, courageous advocacy of the State of Israel spanning decades, your deep, abiding friendship with the Australian Jewish community, and your condemnation of International terrorism in all its forms, resonate well with the precepts as emulated by George Wise."

Howard told The AJN that he "is both touched and honoured to be recognised by such an outstanding Israeli University".


Fascists storm freedom activists’…cocktail party

Robert Spencer   

I am in Australia to speak at the SION/Q Society’s First International Symposium on Liberty and Islam. Pamela Geller, Ashraf Ramelah, Nonie Darwish and I made the trip from the States, and we will be speaking alongside a formidable roster of Australian freedom fighters.

Last night, our gracious hosts held a cocktail reception for the speakers and some friends at a local restaurant here in Melbourne. The happy and low-key crowd was taken aback when a gang of screaming, chanting, frothing-at-the-mouth fascist thugs suddenly appeared at the door, trying to get into the room. Our security detail held them back, but the fascists dropped leaflets declaring that they would be disrupting all of our events throughout the weekend.

This incident vividly illustrated the nature of our struggle: it is truly, as Pamela Geller has so indelibly put it, a struggle of the civilized man vs. the savage. One side was enjoying drinks and polite conversation, having gathered together in service of the cause of freedom and human rights. The other side, while it professes to be the true guardian of those things, came to the restaurant determined to harass, assault, and maybe even kill us. They are, as I have said before, the true children and heirs of the Nazi brownshirts who menaced and assaulted people at rallies and speeches of the Nazis’ opponents in the early 1930s. The struggle we are in is one that will determine whether our societies will remain civil and free, or fall prey to violence, thuggery, and authoritarianism.

Here is Pamela Geller’s account:

"The eagle landed in Oz today. Robert Spencer, Ashraf Ramelah, Nonie Darwish and other luminaries in the fight of freedom converged in Melbourne, Australia for SION/Q Society’s First International Symposium on Liberty and Islam. From the airport I headed to a press conference, where Robert and I were interviewed by SBS News (Australia’s PBS). I will upload that video as soon as possible. The interviewer was a typically hostile Leftist reporter (no surprise there).

Then this evening, the Q Society held a welcoming reception for us at a local restaurant. This event was neither open to the public nor publicly announced. It was a lovely affair with longtime supporters and activists greeting us, welcoming us, and taking pictures with us. We weren’t there ten minutes when suddenly a crazed mob of left-fascists attempted to storm the room, attacking and throwing their bodies against our security team while frenziedly screaming that we were the fascists — the irony was unmistakable. These savages were really out of control. Had they managed to break through our security cordon, it is clear that they would have brutally assaulted as many of the freedom-lovers in the room as they possibly could. It was eerily reminiscent of the Muslim riots that took place in Sydney in 2012…"


7 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is having a laugh at Kevvy's one-man peace mission to Moscow

Stupid abusive boong

"Boong" is an old Australian Aboriginal word for an Aborigine but tends to be derogatory when used by whites.  I use it deliberately to express my contempt for the unwarranted abuse of my ancestors by a stupid and offensive black racist -- JR

Footballer Adam Goodes on the right above

Andrew Bolt

The Swans captain this week denounced "our very dark past, a brutal history of dispossession, theft and slaughter". "Europeans, and the governments that have run our country, have raped, killed and stolen," he wrote in Fairfax newspapers.

Goodes attacked Australians who resisted this lurid characterisation of our past: "The people who benefited most from those rapes, those killings and that theft ... turn away in disgust when someone seeks to expose it."

A word to Goodes, who identifies as a "proud Adnyamathanha man" — an Aboriginal from a Flinders Ranges tribe:

Adam, my grandparents committed no thefts, rapes or murders.  My ancestors were all in Europe when, you claim, our governments were raping and slaughtering Aborigines.

Adam, you yourself have European ancestors. I trust you can vouch they, too, committed no rapes and slaughters.  So why are you on one side of your racial division and I on the guilty other?

And when you attack "the people who benefited most from those rapes, those killings and that theft", do you include yourself?

After all, you’ve benefited more than most from the society built, you claim, by "the people in whose name the oppression was done".

Before British settlement, Aboriginal deaths in tribal warfare rivalled European losses, per capita, in World War I, says historian Geoffrey Blainey in Triumph of the Nomads.

Life for many Aborigines then was brutishly harsh and often included appalling rates of violence against women, as established by paleopathology expert Stephen Webb from the evidence of fractured skulls.

But Goodes now is rich and famous, despite the racism he suffered when young. He has freedom, the best healthcare and a life of luxury unimaginable to his distant ancestors.

"Adam, my grandparents committed no thefts, rapes or murders. My ancestors were all in Europe when, you claim, our governments were raping and slaughtering Aborigines."

So why didn’t he praise the good as well as acknowledge the bad of our past — a bad that he seems to have grossly exaggerated?  Why didn’t Goodes say that to divide us by "race" is a nonsense now, with our tangled genealogies?

But I am not surprised by the divisive rhetoric.  After all, a 13-year-old girl was subjected to national humiliation after she shouted "ape" at the bearded footballer from the sidelines of a tense game.

She was removed from the stands and made to wait two hours after she’d been interviewed by police while it was decided what to do with her.  She was then called the "face" of racism. The girl was named and film of her shown around the country, although she insisted she had not meant "ape" as a racial slur and was sorry.

There was only one way Goodes, a powerful adult, could be seen as the victim in this contest with a schoolgirl.

It reduced these two individuals to the crudest of racial stereotypes — black victim and white oppressor. It was to twist the facts to suit the fiction of a country rived by racism.

For instance, he said his mother, raised by an English family, was "a member of the stolen generations".  But whether the stolen generations exist is a highly contested issue.

She came from South Australia, which the state’s Supreme Court found in 2007 never had a policy of removing children just because they were Aboriginal.

Brian Bennett worked for the Aborigines Department when Goodes’s mother was a girl, and told the court: "I don’t believe that I, at any time during my career as a welfare officer, had the power to remove an Aboriginal child from its parents."

The judge also cited a letter written in 1958 by the Secretary of the Aborigines Protection Board: "Our legislation does not provide that neglected children can be removed from their parents, except by transfer to the Children’s Welfare and Public Relief Board who in any case, will not accept them."

In South Australia, Aboriginal children could only be adopted "with the authority of the parents" but too few got that chance — as Goodes’s mother apparently did.

"Unfortunately, there is a considerable amount of undernourishment, malnutrition and neglect," the secretary mourned.

Our history is not as simple as Goodes claims. Nor is our guilt.


Australia’s top universities still well up in Times Higher Education rankings

3 out of 4 of the universities I have been associated with are in the top 100 worldwide so I think I can live with that

World reputation rankings released this morning by Times Higher Education show Australia’s top five — University of Melbourne, Australian National University, University of Sydney, University of Queensland and University of New South Wales — all dropped down the rankings table in 2014.

The University of Queensland fell from position 71-80 in 2013 to 81-90 in 2014, while the country’s top higher education institution — the University of Melbourne — fell from place 39 to 43. This leaves no Australian institution in the top 40 universities worldwide.

Monash University in Victoria dropped out of the top 100 list entirely between 2013 and 2014.

Times Higher Education world reputation rankings editor Phil Baty said the public debate about higher education cuts in 2013 could have played a part in the fall.

The former Government announced last year that it would use $2.3 billion in savings from the higher education sector to fund the Gonski school reforms. The current Government has indicated it will retain this savings measure.

"It is perhaps significant that major funding cuts were announced by the previous Australian Government in the middle of the survey," Mr Baty said.

"This could have had a negative impact on how academics around the world perceive the Australian higher education sector."

The world reputation rankings are based on a survey of more than 10,000 academics in 133 countries, who are asked to nominate the best 15 institutions in their field of expertise.

University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Hoj was dismissive of the results, saying the rankings were "subjective" and involved a diminishing number of academics.

"It is not easy to reconcile the result with the facts that UQ is one of 32 universities in the edX consortium and that our researchers publish and are cited more than ever," he said.



 *  UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE; 39; 43 (drop)
 *  UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY; 49; 61-70 (drop)
 *  UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND; 71-80; 81-90 (drop)
 *  UNIVERSITY OF NSW; 81-90; 91-100 (drop)


Shark-loving Greenies

Sharks do what Greenies would like to do:  Reduce the human population.  Greenies are would-be super sharks so no wonder they like sharks

SEA Shepherd has failed to secure a court injunction to force the suspension of the West Australian government's shark culling program, with its lawyer saying the "heart" has been ripped from the case.

The marine activists launched the fast-tracked legal challenge on Wednesday last week, seeking to have dozens of baited drumlines off Perth and the South West region removed.

Their argument questioned the validity of an exemption under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, granted by federal environment minister Greg Hunt, which allowed the state government to kill any protected great white, tiger or bull shark bigger than three metres caught in certain zones.

The exemption runs until the end of the trial program on April 30, but Sea Shepherd wanted it stopped immediately.

Their lawyers argued the exemption was not valid as it was not published in an official government gazette.

But on Wednesday, Judge James Edelman disagreed and decided against granting the injunction.

Patrick Pearlman, principal solicitor for WA's Environmental Defender's Office, who led the action for Sea Shepherd, said hopes of a judicial review had been extinguished.

"In ruling on the preliminary question of whether the exemption is valid, he has in essence taken the heart out of the case," Mr Pearlman told reporters.   "We're obviously disappointed. We thought we had a very good argument. It's a very legal, technical argument."

Mr Pearlman maintained the exemption should have been gazetted so parliamentarians had the chance to examine, debate and vote upon it.   "Then, I think, every member of parliament would be able to be on the record and say whether they think this program is a good idea."

He said an appeal would be considered.

There was still a chance the state government could be forced to remove the drumlines before the trial ended, Mr Pearlman said, with the WA Environmental Protection Authority still considering whether to assess the program.

With the WA government's lawyers now seeking to slug Sea Shepherd with court costs, the activist group faces a bill of up to $19,000.  But it was worth it, Mr Hansen said.  "We had to have a shot at this," he said.  "We will continue no matter what because we have right on our side."


Government transport provider launches Facebook page and probably regrets it already

SOUTHEAST Queensland public transport agency TransLink has launched its own Facebook page this week — with disastrous results.

Commuters wasted no time jumping on the page to bag public transport in southeast Queensland, unleashing venomous rants against fares and the reliability and standard of service.

The flood of negative comments even had some Facebook users questioning if the page was a joke.

"This page will be gone after a week or so due to the torrents of abuse it’s about to receive from every unimpressed user of Queensland public transport — that is all users," wrote Ivan Anderson.

Another user "thanked" TransLink for helping her to get fit.  "Your inadequate services and infuriating customer service have forced me to buy a pushbike and never again pay a bloody cent to you," said Mel Sinclar.  "I find it deplorable that I have to pay $4.60 to ride three zones."

Others questioned the point of a page that posts service disruptions and delays after the event, alongside glossy marketing photographs and trivia questions about Translink’s history.

In response to a post about what month the Go Card was launched, Charlie McCook wrote "excuse me TransLink but we don’t need trivia games from you".  "We get enough of it with the "I wonder if my necessary transport to work/uni/school/important appointment will show up today?" game. Thanks though."

However a statement on the Transport and Main Roads site, noted the Facebook page had "already racked up 600 likes".

"TransLink uses social media to share information and to communicate with you when you’re on the go," said the statement.

"We post tweets and updates about service disruptions, travel information for special events, ticketing, fare and go card information, competitions and offers."

As of 10am Thursday the page had scored more than 800 likes.


6 March, 2014

The tweet that cost $105,000

In the first Twitter defamation battle in Australia to proceed to a full trial, District Court judge Michael Elkaim ruled that former Orange High School student Andrew Farley should pay compensatory and aggravated damages for making false allegations about music teacher Christine Mickle.

Judge Elkaim said the comments had had a "devastating effect" on the popular teacher, who immediately took sick leave and only returned to work on a limited basis late last year.

"When defamatory publications are made on social media it is common knowledge that they spread," Judge Elkaim said in an unreported judgment in November.

"They are spread easily by the simple manipulation of mobile phones and computers. Their evil lies in the grapevine effect that stems from the use of this type of communication."

Mr Farley, who was 20 at the time of the judgment, is the son of the school's former head of music and arts, who was described as a "gentle man who had a number of health issues". Young Mr Farley graduated from high school in 2011 and had never been taught by Ms Mickle.

In November 2012, he posted a series of defamatory comments on Twitter and Facebook about Ms Mickle, who took over his father's job on an acting basis after the senior teacher left in 2008 for health reasons.

"For some reason it seems that the defendant bears a grudge against the plaintiff, apparently based on a belief that she had something to do with his father leaving the school," Judge Elkaim said.

"There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate that belief."

Judge Elkaim said his impression of Ms Mickle in the witness box was "of a very honest woman who had been terribly hurt both by the comments in general but perhaps more particularly by the suggestion that she may have been responsible for any harm, ill health or effect of any of her actions on the defendant's father."

There was evidence that, in the absence of the comments, the senior teacher would have continued teaching as she had before "until she reached the age of 65 which is in about seven years' time".

Judge Elkaim ordered Mr Farley to pay $85,000 in compensatory damages.

He also ruled that the young man's conduct in response to the case warranted an additional $20,000 in aggravated damages.

Mr Farley ignored a letter from Ms Mickle's lawyers in November 2012. He removed the comments and apologised "unreservedly" only after they wrote to him again in December.

Judge Elkaim said the apparent sincerity of the apology was contradicted by Mr Farley when he attempted to argue in his defence that the comments were true. He said the defence had "no substance" and was later struck out.

"The defence of truth when it is spurious is particularly hurtful to a person who has been the subject of such unsubstantiated allegations," Judge Elkaim said.

The judge added that Mr Farley appeared to have "abandoned his interest in the proceedings" and did not appear at the trial.


Tony Abbott should forge ahead with labour market reform

That backbench MPs raised labour market policy in the Coalition party room last week was remarkable in that it did not leak. But it did symbolise growing concern the government is not doing enough to tackle unemployment.

It was not the usual rebellion in which a backbencher just lobs a hand grenade, sends off an SMS with comments to a favoured journo and leaves it at that.

There might be a shift in sentiment about Prime Minister Tony Abbott within the ranks of his backbench. It should encourage Abbott to disabuse Martin Ferguson, who said Abbott's labour reforms were modest and timid.

The position taken by Abbott to reject corporate welfare has sent a strong, positive message to the backbench reformers. It seems Abbott can be drier than they thought. The result of his holding his nerve and not agreeing to send good money after bad is some of his less enthusiastic supporters are wondering if he might actually turn out to be a better leader as PM than he was an opposition leader.

One minister who has good instincts on economic management was heard to say that Abbott seems to be taking a special Thatcherite "dry pill". This is an unusual compliment for Abbott, who once took a bucket from Peter Costello for being too influenced by the Democratic Labour Party's collectivist and protectionist economic policy.

Treasurer Joe Hockey and Abbott have combined well on business welfare and produced a narrative the public understands. Although Abbott was not the reason for the car industry deciding to close down, it happened on Abbott's watch and he could have tried to save it despite the futility of continuing subsidies. In time, he will be entitled to be credited with taking the right approach.

Having publicly fought for zero tariffs in 1993 and having to endure the frustration of the cabinet negotiating more subsidies in 1996, I cannot help but note that the last bastion of protectionism has finally been breached and a burden on the economy will soon be lifted.

The Qantas decision is also important. Apart from the sensible argument that the Qantas Sale Act needs repealing, the other possible conditions for government support were never convincing. Hockey's fourth condition required Qantas to do the "heavy lifting on its own reform", but that is Qantas's job anyway. Labor's Fair Work legislation makes it difficult for any business to lift its game and hence that is an issue for government.

The labour market reforms that are needed are obvious. Reform is all about politics, especially Labor's domination by the unions.

The latest polling shows Labor ahead but, for now, that is irrelevant. The government's future will be judged at the next election on economic issues such as rising unemployment. Job losses at Toyota, Alcoa and others will ensure this issue will be paramount at the next election. And if the unemployment rate goes above Labor's predicted 6.25 per cent the public will not care who caused it, they will judge the parties by who is going to fix it.

Abbott needs workplace relations reform as soon as possible but has promised no big reforms until after the next election. He will keep his promise. But he could bring forward his process for labour market reform and keep his promise.

First, it is vital he appoint the right people to his Productivity Commission panel. There are few people with labour market policy experience and the necessary commitment to reform. The government should be talking to Judith Sloan, Peter Anderson, one or two lawyers from the bar, Herbert Smith Freehills or Ashurst lawyers or Professor Mark Wooden.

Second, the government should also be thinking about receiving the PC report well before the election and introducing the legislation before it. Priority must be given to this reform, so why not let the Senate have its committee hearings before the election? If the legislation is out before the election then the government's mandate is much stronger.

As opposition leader Abbott was disciplined and more than a match for his hapless opponents. But he also made some bad decisions in the cause of defeating Labor. He is saddled with his paid parental leave scheme, and various spending promises that Australia cannot afford. But I understand why he wants to keep his promises.

Abbott's rejection of business welfare has been good but regardless of how well you do one week, it is the next week that can bring you down. His approach on economic policy since Christmas has given his reformist supporters reason to think he can do better than some expected on economic policy, but he needs to push his reformist approach harder in the months ahead.


No more national parks as Tony Abbott pledges to support loggers as the 'ultimate conservationists'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he will not support the creation of any more national parks in a speech lauding timber workers as "the ultimate conservationists".

Mr Abbott also told a timber industry dinner on Tuesday night that he would create a new Forestry Advisory Council to support the industry.

The council will be co-chaired by Rob de Fegely, president of the Institute of Foresters Australia. Mr de Fegely is the former Liberal Party election candidate for the seat of Eden Monaro.

"We don't support, as a government and as a Coalition, further lockouts of our forests," Mr Abbott said. "We have quite enough National Parks, we have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest."

Mr Abbott said the federal government was pushing to delist a world heritage listing of 74,000 hectares of forest in Tasmania. Mr Abbott said the area – which was protected under Tasmania's forest peace deal – was not pristine forest and was too degraded to be considered a sanctuary.

Tasmanians go to the polls on March 15 with jobs and the forestry industry big issues as Labor struggles to hold on to government.

"I don't buy the Green ideology, which has done so much damage to our country over the last couple of decades and I'm pleased to see that there are some sensible Labor Party people who don't buy it either," Mr Abbott said.

"When I look out tonight at an audience of people who work with timber, who work in forests, I don't see people who are environmental bandits, I see people who are the ultimate conservationists.

"I salute you as people who love the natural world, as people who love what Mother Nature gives us and who want to husband it for the long-term best interests of humanity."

Mr Abbott said Canberra would now be "friendly country" rather than "hostile territory" for the forestry industry following the change of government.

Greens leader Christine Milne said: "Who in the 21st century would say the environment is meant for man and not just the other way around?

"There is no economic future for Australia in trashing our precious native forests and national parks ... In pandering to the forestry industry the Prime Minister's statements last night reveal he's not only anti-environment and anti-conservation, he's anti-jobs."


Australia's GDP figures beat expectations

Consumers spending more and saving less have helped the Australian economy grow by a stronger than expected rate in the last three months of the year.

The economy grew at a seasonally adjusted 0.8 per cent in the December quarter, taking the annual growth rate to 2.8 per cent. The quarterly figures were up from a 0.6 per cent expansion in the three months to September.

"There are some positive signs," federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said of the latest GDP figures.

"I remain positive about the outlook for the Australian economy and the trends revealed today [show] we are headed in the right direction.

"[But the] numbers highlight the growth challenge that the economy will face in the next couple of years as construction on a number of large mining projects comes to an end."

The Australian dollar jumped nearly half a cent on the back of the stronger-than-expected figures to trade as high as US89.97 cents.

The fourth-quarter growth was driven by a 0.6 per cent boost from net exports and a 0.5 per cent contribution from consumption. A 0.3 per cent fall in investment offset some of the gains.

Australia has not fallen into recession - measured as two quarters of negative growth - for more than two decades, despite the impact of the Asian and global financial crises on the world's economies.


5 March, 2014

Carbon tax costs Qantas over $100 million

The Prime Minister urged Labor to help axe the carbon tax, rejecting claims by the Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese that the airline reportedly agreed to voluntarily pay the tax.

"This idea that Qantas somehow likes the carbon tax even though the carbon tax adds $106 million to its costs … is just crackers," Mr Abbott said.

"Tell them they’re dreaming," he added, directing the comment to Labor MPs.

Earlier Mr Abbott talked up the need to liberate Qantas during the Coalition joint party room meeting.

Channelling Ben Chifley’s "light on the hill’, Mr Abbott argued the government will be successful if it is principled.

"Our light is freedom, we are the freedom party," he told colleagues.

Deputy PM Warren Truss conceded there is no guarantee their proposal to change the Sale Act will get through the Senate.

Mr Truss claimed both the Flying Kangaroo and Virgin are bleeding, but he warned if they were to back Qantas in a domestic war it would be unfair to its competitor.

Four colleagues are said to have congratulated Cabinet on its decision during the meeting


Why an ALP president pleaded guilty

Charges against the HSU National Secretary and former ALP President, Michael Williamson involved $20 million defrauded from the HSU (East) branch. But the fraudster pled guilty to an amount of only $1 million. Now why would that be?

Williamson, who has a cell phone super-glued to his ear, was gone anyway, and the penalty for stealing a sheep is not that dissimilar to stealing a lamb.

Prosecutors did a deal with Williamson’s counsel who bargained the amount down to a mere five percent of the amount stolen.

It was a win/win for Williamson and Labor as now there is no prosecution to unveil the depths of the filthy links between the two.

Williamson will serve time, he would have anyway, it was an open and shut case but now Labor and its union masters have been spared the public show of a prosecution process that would have unearthed the endemic fraud Labor has promoted and protected within its union base.

But the tactic will prove misplaced... at the time Williamson pled guilty there was no talk of a Royal Commission into unions, there is now!

Craig Thomson’s HSU hookers are small fish compared to Labor's numerous great white sharks.


Queensland’s hard line on bikie gangs and organised crime is getting results

AMID all the hyperbole and hand-wringing over the Queensland Government’s hard-line anti-bikie push, some tend to forget that the controversial Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill of last year is having a real and positive impact.

In short, the legislation is doing what it is designed to do, and that is to disempower organised criminal gangs, cripple their ability to organise, and ensure that gang members who choose to adopt a misguided "code of silence" in relation to suspected criminal activity face the most punitive of punishments.

There is proof, as The Courier-Mail reported yesterday, that the laws have already prompted overseas bikies to abandon planned visits, while half the state’s 41 clubhouses which police say were safe houses for guns, drugs, cash, and criminal conspiracies, are now deserted.

The local Hells Angels chapter, down to two men while their president is overseas, can no longer even muster enough members to break the anti-association laws that have already netted Victorian members on holiday, and the state’s Crime and Misconduct Commission is starting to get the whistleblowers the laws were designed to flush out.

That’s a win.

Critics of the crackdown have contended the new laws are far too broad.

The danger, the laws’ detractors argued, was that the punitive powers contained in the legislation could be extended to cover other organisations that the government of the day considered undesirable.  It was, they contended, a blunt weapon that allowed for considerable discretion more reminiscent of the darkest abuses of legislative power the state experienced during the Bjelke-Petersen era.

However the legislation was very deliberately, and necessarily, drafted to be wide ranging.

Outlaw organisations by their very nature tend to metamorphose and reinvent themselves to squeeze through holes in the law, using legal technicalities to escape prosecution.

A case in point here is the Government plan to use the VLAD laws to enable police to pursue paedophile rings.  There is no sane argument that can be mounted against deploying what are laws designed to bust organised crime to smash carefully structured groups of pedophiles.

When it comes to what these groups inflict on children they tick every box when it comes to vicious and lawless.

They are criminal organisations operating in the nether regions of depravity who are every bit as deserving of the full force of the law as those motorcycle gangs who believe they have carte blanche to produce and distribute drugs, engage in extortion and rampage through our streets at will.

Like other criminal rings, pedophiles have evolved and become ever more cunning, with the lone predators of years gone by often giving way to sophisticated and clandestine online groups dedicated to targeting, exploiting and sharing their victims.

If Queensland’s VLAD laws can be used to help the already sterling work of anti-child exploitation groups like the Queensland Police Service’s Task Force Argos, then the move should be welcomed.

And in this respect, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to actually get a grip on where Queensland Labor stands on the push to rid Queensland of organised criminal gangs.

Hiding behind somewhat nebulous vows to have legislation reviewed by committee does not in any way constitute solid or credible policy.

This is especially true given that it was the Bligh Labor government in 2011 that introduced the precursor to the VLAD laws in the form of its own controversial anti-association legislation.

The laws are, as Premier Campbell Newman has vowed, both temporary and subject to review.

Given that commitment, and a community expectation that what is now on the statute books will not be applied in an overly zealous fashion, then the early successes of the drive to break criminal bike gangs and extend the push to paedophile rings is deserving of support.


Media vultures circling Immigration Minister Scott Morrison are blind to facts

How quickly vultures in politics gather around. Just a whiff of injury and in they come, hoping for a carcass on which they can feed.

So it was with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's reporting on the recent riot at Manus Island and the death of a detainee. Morrison initially reported that the detainee who lost his life was outside the centre at the time of his injury.

Looking at the media generally, you could be forgiven for thinking that some time later Morrison found this information to be incorrect and simply waited until late on the following Saturday to correct the record.

This type of reporting is designed to convey an indifference by the minister to a death in detention. It is also designed to convey a trickiness on his part in the sense that releasing something at 9pm on a Saturday might limit the coverage the next day.

The trouble is that this type of reporting is a story looking, or hoping, for facts to back it up. Actually that might be a little generous to a few reporters because, for it to be true, they would need to have ignored the detail in Morrison's media briefings. Sadly, to be more precise, it is a story that ignores some important facts because they are inconvenient to a good "let's bash the Immigration Minister" story.

The media have tried to cast Morrison as the villain ever since

he decided to give weekly briefings on boat arrivals. It was a sensible decision to cut off day-to-day information from the people-smuggler networks. We are, of course, entitled to know what our government is doing. But we do not need to know every detail on a 24/7 basis. The media understandably want every little titbit of information to feed the voracious appetite of 24/7 reporting. But their annoyance at what they characterise as Morrison's decision to exclude them does not excuse sloppy or malevolent reporting.

Morrison immediately recognised that the riot at Manus Island with the death of a detainee was a different situation. Given the gravity of the circumstance, he properly decided that this should not wait for the normal weekly briefing. He held a media conference in Darwin. He also briefed the opposition. His initial advice was that the deceased person was not in the compound at the time of his injury. He told the media. Was he meant to keep it secret? It was the advice he had at the time.

It is true that he didn't preface the sentence about the detainee with the words "I am advised". But he did go on and say this: "What the government will be doing today and over the course of the days that follow is we'll be updating information as it becomes available to us and we can confirm that information."

He then held another media conference in Canberra later the same day. The issue of the location of the deceased person at the time he was injured was canvassed directly. Two comments of the minister stand out.

First: "In terms of the man who died, he had a head injury and at this stage it is not possible to give any further detail on that, including now, based on subsequent reports, where this may have taken place."

And then: "I am saying that there are conflicting reports and when I have a full picture on where the individual might have been, but that could be some time to determine because we anticipate that would be the subject of a police investigation."

Clearly on the same day he made a number of references to updating information and specifically clarified that there were now conflicting reports as to the location of the deceased at the time of his injury. Let me repeat, on the same day.

Subsequently, I am told late on the following Saturday, Morrison was able to say that the detainee had in fact been inside the compound at the time of his injury. He released the information to the media. They now portray this as trying to avoid scrutiny. Would he have done better to wait until Sunday morning? No doubt if he had, the media would be screaming that he had kept a material fact from them unnecessarily.

On calm reflection, the media claim of trying to avoid scrutiny by releasing information late on a Saturday doesn't stack up well. The information was in the Sunday papers, albeit without much if any commentary due to time constraints. That is what annoyed them, that they couldn't add their commentary. They had all of Sunday and beyond to do that - and did.

It will be some time before we get the full story on what actually happened. Being among and dealing with a riot is not like catching the bus to work. Things move fast. People will have been in different positions at different times and accounts will vary. There will be reports from immigration staff, contractors, PNG authorities, detainees and maybe civilians. With a death involved, perhaps not everyone will feel it is in their interest to be fully frank. We will have to wait some time.

By all accounts Morrison has faced the media much, much sooner than previous Labor ministers after riots at detention facilities. Strange that comparison gets little coverage.

Perhaps some in the media just can't stand the fact that the government's policies are bearing fruit. Quite a few media commentators refused to accept that Labor's dismantling of the strong border protection policies of the Howard government opened the floodgates. Labor spun out the line that the increased boat arrivals were due to "push" factors. It was garbage. It was a cruel hoax. Now, with strong policies, a strong minister and a government with some gumption, everyone can see the truth.

How many journalists let Labor run that stupid, pathetic excuse? Do they now feel guilty, or at least complicit in one of the greatest hoaxes a government has ever tried on?


4 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks the black jellyfish will do nothing about Russia's repossession of the Crimea

These elitist hate-speech laws erode democracy

James Allan

Neil Brown, QC, a Liberal minister in the Fraser government, has counselled Tony Abbott not to repeal our section 18C hate speech laws.

He says doing so risks "giving the green light to racists". Instead, he suggests a convoluted compromise that basically leaves in place the "you can't offend me" legislation.

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but Brown and all the proponents of hate speech laws that legislate against "offending", "insulting", "humiliating" or even "intimidating" are wrong. They're wrong on the facts. They're wrong when they look overseas. And they're wrong about what is needed in a healthy, well-functioning democracy.

Let's start by playing the man, rather than the ball. Our hate speech laws were enacted in 1995. Brown was a cabinet member in a government years before that. If he thought not having these laws amounted to a green light, why didn't the Fraser government enact these sort of illiberal laws?

First a few facts. In the US there are no hate speech laws of any kind. In France there are plenty. Where do you think Jews or Muslims are better integrated into society as equal citizens? I ask that question seriously, and can recast it using Germany and other countries with hate speech laws.

Do you do more for minority groups by encouraging a victim mentality or by asking them to grow a thick skin and, when insulted or offended or humiliated, to respond by saying why the speaker is wrong? The latter approach is recommended by every great liberal philosopher from John Stewart Mill onwards. And it was the basis on which the Fraser government did not legislate against hate speech.

Oh, then there is that bastion of political correctness, my native Canada, where the federal parliament last year repealed similar hate speech laws. Are Canada and the US places all hate speech law supporters will be avoiding because of all the green lights for racists?

Or are those green lights just plain bunk, because Brown doesn't understand that the best response to racists is to speak back and say why they're wrong, rather than turn them into martyrs?

Then there is the old canard - always pulled out of the cupboard when the rest of the argument sucks - of "let's all point to Nazi Germany".

Leave aside the fact it is insulting to Australians today to have any argument implicitly rest on the premise that we are somehow like Weimar Germany, and realise that, for more than a decade before Hitler came to power, the Weimar regime did have hate speech laws and did have prosecutions for anti-Semitic speech. Convictions, too. And that sort of "suppress, suppress, suppress" mindset worked out how, exactly?

You need to ask yourself what you expect hate-speech laws to accomplish if you support them. There are only three possibilities. One is that you want to hide from the victims of such nasty speech how the speakers honestly feel about them. It's a sort of "give them a false sense of security" goal.

Another is you hope to reform the speaker. You know, fine them and lock them up and maybe they'll see the errors of their ways.

But both those supposed good outcomes of hate speech laws are patent nonsense. So that leaves a third possibility, one I believe almost all proponents of these laws implicitly suppose justifies their illiberal position.The goal of hate speech laws is to stop listeners who hear nasty words from being convinced by such speech.

In other words, it is plain distrust of the abilities of one's fellow citizens to see through the rantings of neo-Nazis that requires us to have these laws. It works on a sort of latter-day aristocratic premise, that we may be able to trust the good sense of a sociology professor but God help us if a mere plumber or secretary should be exposed to a Holocaust denier or someone whose tone gets a bit out of hand.

If there was a polite way to express my disdain for that sort of elitist bull, I would use it. But there isn't. So I will just say it is wholly misconceived.

Australians are no more prone to being sucked in by offensive or hateful speech than North Americans or those with multiple degrees. And if you don't believe that, then you can't really be in favour of democracy, it seems to me.

I could go on to show how these sort of laws, always and everywhere, end up expanding to capture speakers not originally intended to be captured by them; or how the bureaucracies that administer them become havens of speech-restricting world views. Instead I simply say Australians need section 18C to be repealed in its entirety. That's what Abbott implicitly promised. So let's have it done now.


No wonder SPC are in trouble

Below is an announcement from 10 years ago  -- still on the AWU website

I gather that some of these onerous provisions have subsequently wound back but the fact that they were put in place shows what a hostile union SPC has had to deal with.  Keeping any business alive would be difficult in such circumstances

In the first time in two decades for the Goulburn Valley, workers at the SPC Ardmona fruit processing and canning plant in Shepparton have won a shorter working week following six days of industrial action.

The workers, who are members of the Australian Workers' Union along with the AMWU, CEPU-ETU and FEDFA, won an agreement from SPC Ardmona for a 13.5 per cent improvement in salary conditions including an extra 8 days of leisure time by the third year of the agreement.

AWU National Secretary Bill Shorten was in Shepparton this morning when the workers returned to work. He said that whilst the employees didn't want to take industrial action during the busy harvest period, they felt that their issues had been ignored by management and they were forced into the action they took.

"The SPC Ardmona maintenance workers have never taken strike action during harvest time before; these are the same workers who in 1990 took voluntary pay cuts to save the company. They are proud of their work and proud of their important place in the economy of the Goulburn Valley." Mr. Shorten said.

"There has been a lot of change at SPC Ardmona over the last few years, we think this dispute could have been avoided if SPC management realised that what makes the SPC brand so important and valuable is the people who have made SPC what it is today - that is the workforce at the original SPC factory in Shepparton."

"By taking legally protected industrial action for the last six days these workers have had a victory that will change the way they work at SPC forever. We are the AWU will be continuing our campaign to win greater leisure time for our members across the country."


Curriculum and teacher education review: a necessary evil

The federal department of education and, by extension, the federal minister do not have direct control over any schools, do not employ any teachers and do not provide any essential services to schools. The influence of the federal government on the operation and priorities of schools is largely limited to wielding the carrot and stick of funding. The previous federal government used this approach with a heavy hand.

Current Education Minister Christopher Pyne's strategy is quite different. On funding, he has given schools stability for the next four years while a new, hopefully more fiscally responsible, funding model is developed. He has withdrawn the cumbersome and pointless accountability requirements attached to this funding. The push for school autonomy via the Independent Public Schools policy seems aspirational rather than authoritarian.

While he may have strong ideas about what schools and school systems ought to be doing, Minister Pyne has chosen to focus on the areas where he is most likely to have some impact - curriculum and teacher education. Fortuitously, both are fundamental to education standards in the long term.

The curriculum review is a necessary evil. The ideal scenario would be to have no national curriculum at all, since such a beast will always be politicised and biased in some way, whether it be towards a conservative or a progressive agenda.

Given that we do have a national curriculum, however, it needs to be scrutinised. And, given that the national curriculum is already in use in many schools, and the reviewers' tight time-frame, the review can necessarily seek only to identify the most serious deficiencies in the short-term. Make no mistake, content is critical. What children learn is just as important as how they learn.

The same is true of the teacher education review. Despite dozens of reviews of teacher education and countless surveys over the last decade, which consistently find that new teachers are underprepared to teach after four years at university, little has changed in most education faculties.

When a primary teaching degree has courses with names like 'Supporting Students to Be Environmental Change Agents', you know something has gone very wrong somewhere. Reforming teacher education will be a tough task, but it's difficult to think of a more worthy one.


Let’s dump Great Barrier Reef dredging myths

Mr Reichelt mentions it obliquely but it deserves pointing out WHY good landfill material is being dumped at sea.  It is because Greenies won't let it be dumped on land!  Dredged material used to be used to fill in swamps and mangroves.  Most of the Cairns foreshore was built up that way. I watched the dredge TSS Trinity Bay discharging into polders there when I was a boy.  But swamps are now "wetlands" so must not be touched

AUTHOR:  Russell Reichelt,  Chairman and Chief Executive of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s recent decision to allow 3 million cubic metres of dredge material to be disposed of 25 kilometres off Abbot Point in north Queensland has attracted passionate commentary around the world.

Millions of people from Australia and overseas have a fierce desire to protect one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. As the independent body managing the Great Barrier Reef for future generations, all of us at the Authority understand and share that desire: it’s what makes us want to come to work every day.

But the debate about Abbot Point has been marked by considerable misinformation, including claims about "toxic sludge", dumping coal on the reef and even mining the reef. Late last week, it was confirmed that our decision to allow the dredge disposal will be challenged in court.

So what’s true, and what’s not? I hope with this article, I can clear up some of those misunderstandings on behalf of the Authority, particularly about our role, the nature and scale of the dredge disposal activity, and its likely environmental impacts.

If you still have questions at the end of this article, I and others from our team at the Authority will be reading your comments below and we’ll do our best to reply to further questions on The Conversation.

A sizeable challenge

At 344,400 square kilometres, the Marine Park is roughly the same area as Japan or Italy.

Of this vast and richly diverse expanse, one-third is highly protected; some places are near pristine, while others are feeling the effects of centuries of human uses.

But rather than locking the entire area away, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) role — as set out under Australian law — is to protect the region’s ecosystem, while also ensuring it remains a multiple-use marine park open to sustainable use. This includes tourism, commercial fishing, shipping and other operations.

While there are five major ports in the region, to this day only 1% of the World Heritage Area is set aside for ports. Most of the region’s 12 ports existed long before the Marine Park was created in 1975, and nearly all fall inside the World Heritage Area, but outside the park itself.

Responding to "toxic" claims

Among the many claims made about the Abbot Point decision is the assertion that the "Reef will be dredged" and that "toxic sludge" will be dumped in marine waters.

Both of those claims are simply wrong, as are suggestions that coal waste will be unloaded into the Reef, that this natural wonder is about to be mined, or that Abbot Point is a new coal port.

The reality is that disposal of dredge material of this type in the Marine Park is not new. It has occurred off nearly all major regional centres along the reef’s coastline before now.

It is a highly regulated activity and does not allow material to be placed on coral, seagrass or sensitive marine environments.

The material itself in Abbot Bay is about 60% sand and 40% silt and clay, which is similar to what you would see if you dug up the site where the material is to be relocated.

In addition, testing by accredited laboratories shows the material is not toxic, and is therefore suitable for ocean disposal.

Limiting new port development

As Queensland’s population has grown over the past 150 years, so too have the size and number of ports along the Great Barrier Reef coastline.

We recognise the potential environmental risks posed at a local level by this growth, which is why we have strongly advocated limiting port development to existing major ports — such as Abbot Point — as opposed to developing new sites.

This will produce a far better outcome than a proliferation of many, albeit smaller, ports along the coastline. And that’s not just our view: it’s a view shared by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which oversees the Great Barrier Reef’s listing as one of Australia’s 19 World Heritage sites.

Given Abbot Point has been a major port for the past 30 years, our approval of the dredge disposal permit application from North Queensland Bulk Ports is entirely consistent with this position.

The added benefit of the port is its access to naturally deep waters, meaning it requires less capital dredging than other ports. It also has a much lower need for maintenance dredging.

What’s being done to protect the reef?

With this as our backdrop, we analysed the potential impacts and risks to the Great Barrier Reef from disposing dredge spoil off Abbot Point within the Marine Park.

In this case, we reached the conclusion that with 47 stringent conditions in place, it could be done in a way that makes us confident there will be no significant impact on the reef’s world heritage values.

These safeguards are designed specifically to ensure potential impacts are avoided, mitigated or offset, and to prevent harm to the environmental, cultural or heritage values associated with the nearby Holbourne Island fringing reef, Nares Rock, and the Catalina World War II wreck.

Our conditions are in addition to those already imposed by the federal government in prior approvals.

Again, just to clear up any confusion: the dredge material will not be "dumped on the reef".

Instead, we are looking at an area within the Marine Park that is about 25 kilometres east-northeast of the port at Abbot Point, and about 40 kilometres from the nearest offshore reef.

When the dredge disposal occurs, the material will only be allowed to be placed in a defined 4 square kilometre site free of hard corals, seagrass beds and other sensitive habitats.

If oceanographic conditions such as tides, winds, waves and currents are likely to produce adverse impacts, the disposal will not be allowed to proceed.

As an added precaution, the activity can only happen between March and June, as this falls outside the coral spawning and seagrass growth periods. As the sand, silt and clay itself will be dredged in stages over three years, the annual disposal volume will be capped at 1.3 million cubic metres.

Compared with other sites in this region, it is much less than has been done in the past. For example, in 2006 there were 8.6 million cubic metres of similar sediments excavated and relocated in one year at Hay Point, near Mackay. Scientific monitoring showed no significant effects on the ecosystem.

The dredge disposal from Abbot Point will be a highly managed activity — and it will not, as some headlines have suggested, mean the Great Barrier Reef will become a sludge repository or that tonnes of mud will be dumped on coral reefs.

This is not Gladstone Harbour all over again

I have often heard during this debate that Abbot Point will become "another Gladstone".

I can assure you that GBRMPA understands strongly the need to learn the lessons from past port developments, including ones like Gladstone that fall outside of the Marine Park. This is why the recommendations from an independent review into Gladstone Harbour have been factored into our conditions.

Much of the criticism of the development at Gladstone Harbour centred on monitoring and who was doing it. This is why one the most common questions we’ve heard at GBRMPA about Abbot Point is "Who is going to make sure this is all done properly?"

The answer is: there will be multiple layers of independent oversight. Indeed, past authors on The Conversation have used Townsville’s port as a good example of how local impacts can be managed safely through transparent, independent monitoring and reporting, and active on-site management.

This is why we will have a full-time staff member from GBRMPA located at the port to oversee and enforce compliance during dredge disposal operations. This supervisor has the power to stop, suspend or modify works to ensure conditions are met.

In addition, an independent technical advice panel and an independent management response group will be formed. Membership of both these bodies will need the approval of GBRMPA.

Importantly, the management response group will include expert scientists as well as representatives from the tourism and fishing industries, and conservation groups. Together, GBRMPA and those other independent scrutineers will be overseeing the disposal, and will have the final say — not North Queensland Bulk Ports, which operates Abbot Point, or the coal companies that use the port.

Water quality monitoring will take place in real-time to measure factors such as suspended solids, turbidity and light availability. This is in addition to a long-term water quality monitoring program that will run for five years — much longer than what is normally required.

It’s vital that there is utmost transparency and scrutiny of what happens. We believe that with our staff on the job, plus independent oversight that includes the community, it will be a highly transparent process.

What are limits of the Authority’s powers?

It is true to say that despite all these safeguards, placing dredge material on land rather than in the Marine Park remains our preferred choice, providing it does not mean transferring environmental impact to sensitive wetlands connected to the reef ecosystem.

Indeed, land-based disposal is an option that must always be examined under national dredging guidelines.

But we recognise onshore disposal is not always immediately practical. Some of the challenges include finding suitable land, the need for dredge settlement ponds and delivery pipelines, and potential impacts on surrounding environments.

Ultimately, what occurs on land is outside of GBRMPA’s jurisdiction. We do not make decisions about mines, railways and loading facilities, and have never had the power to compel a port authority to place dredged material onshore or to build an extension to existing jetties.

Nor do we have the ability to stop dredge disposal from occurring in port limits that fall inside the World Heritage Area, but outside of the Marine Park.

Our legislative powers simply enable us to approve or reject a permit application for an action in the Marine Park, or to approve it with conditions.

Based on the considerable scientific evidence before us, we approved the application for Abbot Point with conditions, on the basis that potential impacts from offshore disposal were manageable and that there would be no significant or lasting impacts on the reef’s world heritage values.


3 March, 2014

Brain-dead Perth meteorologist thinks that because his city is hot it must be hot everywhere

In parts of the USA there is record cold.   So which place do we go by?  It takes a Warmist to claim that local warming tells you about global warming.  Warmists mostly now don't do that nonsense because they have found to their pain that skeptics can turn the tables on them just about every winter.  So this guy is obviously just not bright

THE weather bureau says Perth’s record-smashing summer was "madness" and it has used temperature and rainfall data to lash out at climate change sceptics.

And the state’s top meteorologists are warning West Australians they face decades of rising temperatures – with hotter, drier and more extreme summers.

The 2011-12 summer was Perth’s hottest on record and this summer was the second hottest on record, tied with both the 2009-10 summer and the 2010-11 summer with an average maximum of 32C.

This summer was also the driest in five years for Perth, with just 2mm of rain, and the driest on record for Mandurah.

Perth had only three days where rain fell and not one drop fell last month – the first dry February since 2000.

It might have been the start of autumn but there was no respite yesterday, with temperatures nudging 37C in Perth.

The weather bureau is normally conservative, but Bureau of Meteorology climate expert Neil Bennett said the data was staring climate change sceptics "in the face".

"It’s climate change. It’s warming. It’s staring you in the face," he said.  "This is crazy. This is madness, what’s going on now.

"The climate doesn’t change like this. This is really remarkable. The last four summers have all either been the hottest or second hottest on rec­ord.  "It’s not just Perth – in Bunbury eight of the hottest summers have occurred since the turn of the century.

"What we are saying is when you look and see the trend is going up, it seems foolish to try to ignore that trend.  "This is really, really unusual. It’s a sign that the temps across Australia are warming. There is no getting away from it."

Mr Bennett said the climate models for "30, 40 and 50 years ahead" were also all "pointing upwards".


Illegal immigrants get a rough ride

Some of the charmers whom Australia will now not need to feed and house

The bulbous orange lifeboat wallowing in the shallows off the coast of Central Java is an unlikely looking weapon - but it's proving highly effective in Australia's military campaign against asylum seekers.

To the people forced to travel in them, though, it is a vomitous and terrifying experience.  "Inside the orange boat it was closed, hot and very dark," says Omar Ali, an Egyptian asylum seeker now in temporary detention in an old office building in Cilacap, Central Java.

"No light. Very hot. When the driver opens the door, the water comes inside. We're sick. Everybody sick; there was no air."

Earlier this week, Ali and 27 other young men from Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal, Bangladesh and Egypt, became the seventh group of asylum seekers "turned back" from Australian waters to Indonesia since December, and the third to have been returned in a $46,000 disposable lifeboat.

Their boat, like the other two, was steered by the Indonesian crew who had been in charge of the wooden vessel provided by the people smugglers that was intercepted near Christmas Island. Also like the others, Indonesian authorities have no idea what to do with the ugly orange vessel that has landed uninvited on their shore.

The experience of the latest group of lifeboat returnees suggests the Australian authorities are refining their technique. In the first return in mid-January, the asylum seekers said they were tricked and lied to, then at the last minute given written information about what was happening to them as they were pushed off.

On the second return in early February, one asylum seeker used a phone camera to film the experience of being towed in an orange lifeboat behind an Australian Customs boat, Triton.

In this latest incident, there was no such opportunity. The interaction was kept to a minimum and mobile phones were taken away.

After intercepting the wooden asylum boat in the water near Christmas Island at 1am on Friday, February 21, Australian crews wearing Customs and Border Protection blue uniforms initially tried to recommission the old wooden boat to return them to Indonesia. The engine would not start. After several hours and several mechanics had come to try, the Australian officers abandoned the task.

The asylum seekers were transferred to the Customs vessel - perhaps MV Triton, though they do not know the name. As they were loaded on board, officers were "pushing one by one with hands behind our back", Ali says, showing on his friend how their arms were bent into a painful position.

Any objections or requests for food and water were shouted down, no discussion entered into.

"He says: 'Don't speak. Shut up. F--- you'," Ali says, the others nodding. One man, Khazim Mohammad, from Iraq, was lying sick on the boat: "The [Australian officer] said, 'You're joking. Liar, liar' … and grabbed him and pulled him."

The Indonesian crew have told Central Java police that the wooden boat was then "blown up". They cannot say how this happened, but speculate on a bomb.

On board the large Customs ship, interaction between crew and asylum seekers was minimal. Once their details were taken and entered on a computer, the men were given wristbands with numbers on them.

For about three days, they say they were kept below decks.

"Inside the big ship, no sun, no air. We don't know if it's night or day. We can't sleep; loud noises," says Ali.  They were fed once - cheese sandwiches - and given a cup and told to fill it up in the bathroom to drink. "For two days we went on hunger strike."

The Indonesian crew was kept in a separate part of the ship.

On the Customs patrol boat, Ashrof says someone searched their belongings, and all valuables - money, phone, SIM card - were taken. He does not know who took them. No phones means that, unlike on other ships, there is no video footage of their experience.

The next move, on Monday morning, was to the orange lifeboat. It was the first time they had seen it and the transfer was done in sight of land.

"The soldiers brought [us to] the orange boat … and closed the door and said to the driver of this boat … 'Go to that island'," Ali says.

Again the Australians would not answer questions. The Indonesians - who spoke almost no English - said it was Christmas Island. Ali did not believe them.

But there was no chance of turning back to the real Christmas Island. The crew, though experienced sailors, had never seen anything like the orange blob they now captained, and there was not enough fuel to go anywhere except to that island on the horizon.  The island, it turned out, was Java.

The lifeboats are small and inside they feel smaller. They are dark and airless with only a couple of small, high windows. Having 28 on board would have felt crowded - not everyone could have a seat, though the nameplate says it is rated for 55 people.

"No air inside and no airconditioning for the orange boat. We are very sick. We have no oxygen. We are very sick," says Ali. "It's like animals. Animals [cannot be treated] like this."

There was water on board and muesli bars.

The journey lasted only about three hours before the boat ran aground in huge seas on a rugged bay near the village of Kebumen. They were 30 metres from the beach and the surf was high, but there was little choice but to jump.

"We jumped from the boat. We are at the beach, ocean high. We arrive and drift, arrive and drift. We think we will die. We think we will die. We can't swim," Ali says.

Finally on the beach the exhausted men were confronted with a steep, slippery slope to climb before a local farmer found them and called the police.

The crew is now in custody being questioned by police under people smuggling laws for taking people out of the country illegally and then, at the insistence of the Australian Customs and Border Protection, back into it. The asylum seekers are bound for detention, although they don't know where.

The fate of the big orange lifeboat is just as uncertain. The recent arrival of these odd-looking vessels has puzzled Indonesian officialdom. The first to land, near a remote beach called Ujung Genteng, in mid-January, is in the custody of the Indonesian navy. The second landed in a tourist spot, Pangandaran, in early February and is now being looked after by water police at Ciamis. "My commander has not told us what to do," a local officer says.


Tony Abbott's green army enlisting now

Tony Abbott's federally funded "green army" will enlist 15,000 young people in environmental work, striking young workers from official dole queue figures as youth unemployment soared in the year to January to 12.4 per cent.

But young people who fill the green army's ranks will be paid as little as half the minimum wage, earning between $608.40 and $987.40 a fortnight.

The scheme - the cornerstone of the government's environmental policies - is modelled on John Howard's Green Corps, and will be an alternative to work-for-the-dole programs.

Under the legislation introduced by Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Wednesday, green army participants - who will be aged 17-24 - will work up to 30 hours a week. They will be given the chance to undergo formal training as part of their duties, but will lose their Centrelink benefits for taking part in the scheme and fall off official joblessness figures.

The basic rate for a single person getting Newstart (the dole) is $501 a fortnight. But Mr Hunt said the scheme would pay young people "significantly" more than they would receive from Centrelink allowances, and he hoped the skills young people learnt on the job would encourage them to move into full-time work.

"It's giving every young person in Australia the chance to do something for the environment, and it's bizarre that anybody would oppose, at this time, a youth training program that helps the environment and increases, significantly, the youths' wages."

Mr Hunt's office stressed that the green army was "an environmental and training program, not an employment program", although the government has repeatedly described the army as Australia's largest ever "environmental workforce".

The government is aiming the scheme at indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, gap-year students, graduates and the unemployed. Enlistees will do manual labour, including clearing local creeks and waterways, fencing and tree planting.

Green army members will not be covered by Commonwealth workplace laws, including the Work, Health and Safety Act, the Fair Work Act and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

Despite this, Mr Hunt said all green army members would be covered by workplace protections, including state and territory occupational health and safety laws, insurance provided by the government and by "service providers" paid by the government to recruit, establish and manage green army teams, and federal work, health and safety "compliance orders".

But ACTU president Ged Kearney said the workers should be covered by the appropriate federal workplace protections.

"This is about taking away well-paid, well-protected jobs from people and replacing them with low-paid, unsafe jobs," she said. "This is not about getting people on the margins of the workforce into work, this is about providing a low-paid workforce."

Greens MP Adam Bandt said: "Only Tony Abbott could create a 'workforce' where the workers aren't legally workers and have no workplace rights. If a green army supervisor and a worker under their command get injured while wielding a pick or building a lookout, the supervisor will have the same safety and compensation protections as ordinary employees but the worker won't."


Unions holding back job growth

The economic stories hogging the headlines lately are of financial losses, plant closures and job-shedding - think Holden and Toyota, the closure of Alcoa's Point Henry aluminium smelter, and yesterday's announcement that Qantas will shed 5,000 jobs.

It's as if Australian businesses forgot the creative part of capitalism's creative destruction. Australia's economy needs new jobs, and there are impediments in our industrial relations system that are increasing costs and preventing new jobs from being created.

One of the unfortunate consequences of Work Choices was the degree to which the union movement was to use popular opposition within the community to drive their own agenda. Through Labor's Fair Work Act the union movement was able to gain monopoly status on new businesses/projects.

Under the Fair Work Act, Greenfields agreements - which set out wages and conditions for new business/projects and are organised before employees are hired - can only be negotiated with a union. Work Choices allowed for both union and non-union Greenfields agreements.

Unions have used their monopoly position to delay the commencement of new projects. Unions know the longer negotiations drag on, project costs increase and start dates are threatened. Eventually employers cave in and agree to exorbitant, and often unsustainable, conditions.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association found in 2012 that one third of resource industry employers had tried to negotiate a Greenfields agreement in the previous three years and of those, 19% had experienced unions refusing to make an agreement with them.

This problem was also raised in Labor's in-house review of the Fair Work Act in 2012, yet the government made no changes. Providing new businesses with a choice would mean that unions cannot stall projects and run up costs.

Still haunted by the ghosts of Work Choices, the Coalition are weary of bringing back anything remotely resembling elements of Howard's reforms. Instead they've suggested that these long-running disputes on new projects be determined by the industrial umpire. Such a solution simply entrenches adversarial relationships.

In an economy where only 18% of all workers are union members (13% in the private
sector) having a non-union option should be a no-brainer.

The Coalition should be bold. There was never broad community opposition to non-union Greenfields agreements. Community opposition was based on the lower safety net and unfair dismissal exemptions for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The Coalition should make it easier for businesses to get started and create jobs by bringing back non-union Greenfields agreements.


2 March, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is disgusted by the hypocritical "compassion" that the Left are showing for the death of an Iranian illegal immigrant on Manus Island (Murdered by another illegal).

17 "refugees" seek to return home in latest week

Illegals killing illegals is not good but it is effective at getting the rest to rethink.  And such a rethink shows that they were not refugees in the first place

JUST days after Iranian man Reza Berati was killed in the Manus Island detention centre, 11 other Iranian asylum-seekers have opted to go home.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison said the 11 Iranians were among 17 asylum-seekers who volunteered to return to their home countries in the week up to 9am yesterday. They included three people who went back to Iraq, and three to India.

Mr Morrison said one detainee was sent home involuntarily to Sri Lanka. In his weekly update on Operation Sovereign Borders, Mr Morrison said 171 asylum-seekers had gone home voluntarily since the Coalition won government in September. He said no people-smuggling boats had made it to Australia in the past 71 days.

His statement did not reveal how many boats were turned or towed back towards Indonesia.

An investigation is continuing into the Manus Island violence in which 23-year-old Mr Berati was killed and more than 50 other asylum-seekers injured.

"The last people-smuggling venture that made it to Australia and had all passengers handed over to Australian immigration authorities was on December 19 last year," Mr Morrison said.

"This means there have been 71 days in total without a successful people-smuggling venture."

Mr Morrison said that was a result of the Abbott government’s resolve and full suite of policies, including operations at sea by the navy and Customs service patrol vessels of Border Protection Command.

There were 1325 asylum-seekers in the centre on Manus Island and 1107 on Nauru.

Refugee supporters in Sydney yesterday staged another protest demanding Mr Morrison resign over Mr Berati’s death.

The activists clashed with police in a peak-hour march through inner Sydney. Riot police were called in as hundreds rallied along George Street yesterday evening chanting "Free, free the refugees".

At times the throng spilled on to city roads, disrupting traffic and prompting physical confrontations with police.

Asked why they had not taken to the streets when about 1200 asylum-seekers died at sea while attempting to seek asylum during the term of the Labor government, Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the two instances could not be compared.

"There’s no comparison between people who lose their life in an attempt to gain their freedom and atrocity on Manus Island where asylum-seekers were killed and bashed by the people who were meant to be protecting them," Mr Rintoul told The Weekend Australian.

He said Australia’s navy should be ordered to taxi refugees from Indonesia to Australia instead, with a hotline established for asylum-seekers to call and be retrieved. "If people could notify the navy when they left Indonesia they could be escorted," he said. "It may increase numbers (of asylum-seekers) coming by boat, but Australia can just treble its increase of refugee intake."

He said asylum-seekers should be released into the community while authorities conducted security assessments on them - "the same way as they did in 1992 before mandatory detention".


Former union boss Ferguson blasts MUA

FORMER Labor Resources minister and union boss Martin Ferguson has blamed "rogue" unions for delaying Australia's biggest gas project and backed the coalition's industrial relations reform agenda.

Mr Ferguson, now an advocate for the oil and gas industry, singled out the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) for delays and blowouts to the massive Gorgon project in Western Australia, and urged the Abbott government to consider further industrial relations reforms.

Mr Ferguson said the government's proposed changes to the Fair Work Act were a step in the right direction, but still quite modest.

"I would urge the government to keep an open mind on the need for further reform in this area," Mr Ferguson told the Committee for Economic Development (CEDA) at a lunch in Perth on Friday.

His comments have been labelled treacherous by the WA branch of the Maritime Union, and cheered by the coalition.

Mr Ferguson, who chairs the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), said there was potential to reach an agreement to give project developers more long-term confidence about their workforce costs and operate efficiently so they could attract large investments.

But he said high wages claims by the MUA's West Australian branch and restrictive work practices had contributed to a recent $2 billion budget blowout for Gorgon, and delays of several months.

"There are activities at Henderson which have delayed movement of equipment to Gorgon, which has had a huge impact on the productivity of the whole workforce on Gorgon which has led to a considerable increase in costs to the whole project," Mr Ferguson told ABC Radio.

Major investors had gone from being very positive about Australia to saying it had lost its competitive edge, he said.

Despite those issues, Chevron vice-chairman George Kirkland recently said the project's economics remained attractive.

Still, Mr Ferguson argued that wages paid to Australian maritime workers compared to overseas competitors were "out of kilter".

Christy Cain from MUA's WA branch said Mr Ferguson had sold out to oil and gas companies.

"He should be expelled from the ALP and he is a traitor to the working class people of this country," Mr Cain said.

Federal employment minister Eric Abetz said it was good to see a former president of the ACTU acknowledging that the coalition is sticking its election promise.


Evil and deeply untrue Leftist claims about Israel

    Greg Sheridan

WE are living in a time of infamous lies against the state of Israel and the Jewish people. We are witnessing, even in Australia, a recrudescence of some of the oldest types of anti-Semitism. One of the worst recent examples of anti-Israel propaganda that led directly to anti-Semitic outbursts was the Four Corners episode Stone Cold Justice, purporting to be about treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank.

The program featured as a guest reporter John Lyons, of this newspaper. I have the greatest respect for John. He has produced some outstanding journalism in his time. In the aerolite he wrote for this newspaper on February 8, he made some of the same allegations that were made on Four Corners. I found the allegations at best unproved and generally unconvincing.

However, the Four Corners program was a disgrace, a crude piece of anti-Israel propaganda that revived some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes. In the year 2014, are we really going to allege again, on the basis of the flimsiest non-evidence you could imagine, that Jewish soldiers systematically physically crucify innocent children? Is there a school of anti-Semitism 101 operating out there? Do you not think that before you would air an allegation like that, if you had any real sense of editorial responsibility, you would be 100 per cent sure that it was true; you would track down the people alleged to have done it and get their testimony? The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has produced exhaustive rebuttals of virtually all the allegations in this program and I recommend readers visit the AIJAC website. The whole program was full of uncorroborated and intensely unlikely allegations.

You could make the same kind of film about Australia if you didn’t find it necessary to prove any of your facts. In the Four Corners program, the only Jewish settler interviewed was a religious extremist who said Palestinians must never have a state of their own and that God gave all the land to the Jews and that was it.

Yet the overwhelming majority of the Israeli population favours a two state solution. If you had even one ounce of responsibility in the way you treated these issues, and given their explosive, emotive nature, don’t you think some of that context might have been relevant? Isn’t there an obligation to convey the reality of the diversity of Jewish settlers in the West Bank?

A week or two after the Four Corners program went to air, I attended a Catholic mass in a suburban church. The priest was preaching about forgiveness. Most examples he chose were taken from the news. One, he took from the Middle East. It concerned a heroic Palestinian whose family had been killed by Israel, but who still had the moral grandeur to forgive the Israelis. The priest said nothing else about the Middle East. So of all the malevolence and genuine evil in the Middle East, the only example the apiarist thought worth mentioning was a generic Israeli crime.

With 2000 years of Christian anti-Semitism behind him, the priest had no hesitation in presenting Israel as the killer of innocent families and the only question in the Middle East being one of the moral greatness of the Palestinians in forgiving the Israelis.

So this is what we’ve come to in 2014. The national broadcaster tells us that Jewish soldiers crucify innocent children and Christian clerics routinely portray Israel as the murderous oppressor of the Middle East. But these stereotypes are both evil, and deeply untrue. Over many trips to Israel, and many visits to neighbouring Middle East countries, I have come to the conclusion Israel has the best human rights and democratic institutions and civil society of any nation in the greater Middle East. More than that, I have tried hard to make my own investigations into two questions. Does the Israeli army routinely behave unreasonably? And what is the truth about the settlements?

Israel is not perfect. Like every nation it makes mistakes, including moral mistakes. Undoubtedly, some of its soldiers have engaged in abuses. But over the years I have interviewed dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Israeli soldiers and former soldiers, many active on the Left of Israeli politics and harshly critical of their government. I have also interviewed many Palestinians. My net judgment is Israel’s army behaves with as much consideration for human rights and due process as any modern Western army - US, Australian or European - would do in similar circumstances.

Then there is the question of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israel took control of the West Bank because it was attacked by Jordan in a war Israel fought for its very existence. Almost no one internationally had recognised Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank and the land there is to be negotiated. The overwhelming consensus in Israel is that the vast majority of the West Bank, perhaps 95 per cent, will go to a Palestinian state with compensating land swaps from Israel proper. A few clusters of Jewish settlements will be retained by Israel.

Bob Carr, who I think was a very good foreign minister, recently argued all the settlements are illegal. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop disagrees. On this, Bishop is right and Carr wrong. The problem with discussion of the settlements is that it is so unsophisticated and typically lumps so many different communities together. If all settlements are illegal, that means the Jewish presence at the Wailing Wall in the old city of Jerusalem, access to which was denied to Jews when it was under Arab control, is illegal. It means that the historic Jewish quarter of the old city is also illegal. It means that every Jewish household anywhere in East Jerusalem is illegal.

It is worth noting, by the way, that Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem qualify for Israeli identity cards that allow them to live anywhere in Israel. Increasing numbers are buying apartments in West Jerusalem. But if all settlements are illegal then it is apparently illegal for Israelis, be they Jewish, Muslim or Christian, to buy in East Jerusalem.

I have spent many days visiting the settlements to try to find out what the people who live there are like. As foreign minister, Kevin Rudd told me the settlements occupied about 3 per cent of the West Bank. Since 2004, settlements have not been allowed to expand beyond existing borders. Very, very few settlers are like the sole woman interviewed on Four Corners. There are a lot of very orthodox Jews who live in settlements, but the ultra-orthodox do not serve in the Israeli army and are often not very nationalist at all. They live in settlements because it is cheap and they want to have their own neighbourhoods with very orthodox schools, cooking facilities, etc.

But most of the people I met in big, mainstream settlements like Gush Etzion and Maale Audumin, which are very close to Israel proper, were moderate, national religious types. The Jewish connection to the land historically certainly meant something to them, but they tended to vote for mainstream centre-right parties and live peaceably enough with their Palestinian neighbours. (Indeed, some 25,000 Palestinians work on settlements.) These settlers don’t make for very exciting TV interviews because they are so reasonable and unremarkable.

An Israeli friend put it to me that perhaps 50 per cent of settlers are basically non-ideological, and lived in settlements because they can get a house much more cheaply than in Israel proper. Maybe 30 per cent to 40 per cent are moderate orthodox or national religious, mainstream, attached to the land, patriotic, pretty pragmatic. Perhaps 10 per cent (of settlers, not of Israelis overall) are intensely ideological and believe all the land should stay with the Jews. And perhaps 1 per cent or less are genuinely extremist and some of them genuinely violent. That certainly accords with what I have observed over years of visits.

There are also outposts or settlements in the West Bank that are illegal under Israeli law. All serious Israeli negotiations involve the principle of repatriating a significant number of settlers back to Israel proper or to settlements Israel is definitely going to keep. Typically, the number of such postulated returns varies from 50,000 to 90,000.

Aspects of Israel’s settlement policy have been very ill-advised. But I know that settlements are not the main obstacle to peace. The main obstacle to peace is that most of the Arab world will not accept the idea that Israel as a Jewish state has a right to exist and live in peace and security. The Four Corners program did nothing to enlighten the debate and led to a shocking outburst of rank anti-Semitism on ABC websites.

I really thought we were beyond that.


Ban bargaining and Qantas may have a chance

QANTAS has a massive, fundamental, industrial relations problem and it won’t be fixed until it changes its industrial relations practices.

The people who have dug Qantas into its industrial relations hole do not have the bargaining skill to dig it back out. If the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce cannot bring himself to remove them, then he must at least issue them with a simple order: stop enterprise bargaining, completely. No more EBAs for at least five years.

Last year, the HR Nicholls Society honoured Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford, perhaps because in 2011 he stood up to the unions. Yet Qantas is no model for clever industrial relations. Grounding the airline was a cataclysmic public event, which was followed by no real reform. When recent events are compared with events in 2011, we can see a pattern emerging.

Prior to the grounding in 2011, Joyce made a great public show of his union bargaining troubles. He appeared to think the Gillard government should and would assist. No one in their right mind would think Julia Gillard was ever in a position to rein in unions, even if she wanted to. This begs the question, was Joyce naive or was he just making a public show of asking?

After the 2011 grounding, wage freezes should have been mandated, bargaining processes should have been shut down and real reform should have been undertaken. None of this happened.

In 2009, legislation changed fundamentally to make companies bargain directly with workers, but Qantas, like so many of our corporates, didn’t change with it. It kept on bargaining directly with unions and making the same mistakes it has made forever.

Now, just as in 2011, we have had months of public Qantas angst, with appeals to the government to help, followed by a shocking announcement. Will any real industrial relations reform happen this time? Only if a complete ban on bargaining is issued. This is what the big investors must demand.

The company must not start bargaining with unions to get agreement to wage freezes: this would be idiotic. The company must simply inform the other parties that there can be no more bargaining whatsoever.

If Joyce ceases bargaining and sticks around for the long term, then this wage-freeze plan may assist Qantas in addressing its costs and culture. If the company has the gumption, it will let every single EBA expire and steadfastly refuse to replace any of them.

When there is a return to profit, Qantas can establish a practice of giving individuals pay increases as it sees fit. This would change the culture enormously, drive productivity and eliminate the IR costs.

For Qantas, this option is the most realistic, sensible and practical option. Call me a cynic, but I doubt it will happen.

The unions are profoundly motivated to punish Joyce and Clifford for grounding the airline in 2011. They want them both sacked. Qantas had a win against the unions then, if only a symbolic one. Within the Australian unions are some of the best haters on the planet and they hate it intensely when employers win.

An idea has been planted in the public’s mind; Qantas will be saved if only Joyce is sacked. It is clear from the way the unions behaved yesterday that they can smell Joyce’s blood in the water. Getting rid of Joyce may enable them to reverse the wages freeze and lessen job cuts. More importantly, Joyce’s dismissal would see the unions retain their control over the corporate sector.

If they claim Joyce’s scalp, it will send a strong message to other executives: don’t take on the unions, it is not worth the risk and the damage to your career trajectory. In a country where our biggest union problems are due to weakness and collusion by big business, this is a significant problem.

Tony Abbott should be uneasy. If he gives Qantas a debt guarantee, it is going to look like a reward for sacking people. Labor will say a business only gets help when it performs a sack-a-thon for the Prime Minister. It is a message that may resonate. Workers who voted for Abbott gave implicit consent to be "cut to the bone", but voting for budget cuts isn’t the same as voting for pay cuts or job cuts.

Meanwhile, Bill Shorten and Labor are energised. The Opposition Leader thinks he is on a winner with his stodgy "fight for jobs" line. Normally, when people progress in life they become more refined, yet Shorten uses job losses to transition himself from private-school boy into a turbo-charged union roughie. Perhaps he cannot see his transparence: the only jobs Labor ever wants to save are union jobs.

Labor sees the purpose of a business as only to provide jobs. Key ALP players, all from unions, cannot comprehend beyond that mistaken concept. Business is seen as only the provider of money to workers who must be unionised, so union officials can pay for their entry into politics.

The purpose of a business is to provide a good profit to its owners, then a useful service to its customers and decent employment to its workers, in that order. Only if Qantas makes a profit can it provide a service and employ people. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that Joyce’s wage-freeze plan is real.


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.

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

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?

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was/is 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.

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.

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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To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
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